SARANAC LAKE - The village of Saranac Lake is planning to salute one of the area's largest employers with a civic testimonial dinner this fall.
The Nov. 1 tribute to the American Management Association is open to the public and will be held in the Harrietstown Town Hall auditorium. It is the first of what Mayor Clyde Rabideau says will be several similar events geared to show support to the community's key employers.
"We're going to salute them, thank them and give testament to their positive influence in the Adirondacks," Rabideau said. "It is tremendously appropriate for our greater community to express its gratitude and appreciation to AMA for providing jobs and economic enhancement to the region for well over a half a century."
The dinner comes amid the proposed annexation of AMA's 63-acre campus, which is currently located outside the village in the town of St. Armand, into the village. AMA officials said in March that they were still moving forward with the annexation and planned to present petitions to the town of St. Armand and village boards, but they were waiting to complete a plan for the potential development of unused portions of the property first.
Rabideau said AMA Vice President Martin Delahay told him in an email this week that the organization is getting ready to present the petition in the coming weeks. He said the testimonial dinner isn't tied directly to the proposed annexation, which he said is "going on its own speed, and the facts speak for themselves."
The guest of honor at the Nov. 1 dinner will be Edward T. Reilly, AMA's chief executive officer. The mayor said local and regional political and business leaders will be on hand to talk about AMA's impact on the Saranac Lake area. Invitations have been extended to U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, state Sen. Betty Little, state Assemblywomen Janet Duprey and Teresa Sayward, St. Armand town Supervisor Joyce Morency and Essex County Board of Supervisors Chairman Randy Douglas.
"Most of them have said they'll be there," Rabideau said.
The civic testimonial dinner is the latest initiative Rabideau brings to Saranac Lake, borrowing from his decade-long-tenure as mayor of the city of Plattsburgh in the 1990s. Two years ago, he created the Mayor's Cup canoe and kayak races here, based on the success of the Mayor's Cup sailing regatta in Plattsburgh.
Rabideau said the late Clyde A. Lewis, a lawyer who is credited with bringing an Air Force base to Plattsburgh in the mid 1950s, held twice-a-year testimonial dinners that paid tribute to top Air Force brass.
"What he did was build personal relationships with key individuals and also extended our thank-you for their presence in Plattsburgh," Rabideau said. "I thought they were tremendously effective."
While Rabideau was Plattsburgh's mayor, he said a testimonial dinner was held for Georgia Pacific, which at 900 workers was one of the city's biggest employers. More than 400 people attended the event, he said.
"It's a good thing to do," Rabideau said. "I'd like to see us do this once or twice a year. It's a great way to build personal relationships and offer thanks."
Rabideau said no taxpayer dollars will be spent on the Nov. 1 dinner since expenses associated with the event will be paid entirely by ticket costs. The price of tickets hasn't been set yet, but it won't exceed $35, the mayor said.