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News and Info from members of the North Country Chamber

Hickok & Boardman Insurance Group

Hickok & Boardman Insurance Group Board of Directors has voted in Jeff LaBonte as Vice President.  “Jeff has demonstrated outstanding leadership throughout his years here at H&B.  We are pleased to have Jeff representing the Agency in this capacity,” said Scott Boardman, President.

Jeff LaBonte has been with H&B for 12 years advising clients on their commercial insurance needs.  In 2015 Jeff became a partner of Hickok & Boardman Insurance Group.  Jeff serves on the Alumni Board of Directors for St. Michael’s College and as a Corporator for Northfield Savings Bank. 

Hickok & Boardman also announced Tim O’Neill became a stockholder of the corporation. “Tim has grown our Lyndonville office significantly since he started back in July of 2011 and is a strong leader and trusted advisor for our clients in the eastern part of the State and western New Hampshire,” said Boardman. 

Tim O’Neill has been with H&B for eight years advising clients on their commercial insurance needs.  He currently serves on the Rural Edge Board of Directors and is past President and current member of the Board of Directors of Lyndonville Rotary.

Founded in 1821, Hickok &Boardman Insurance Group has served Vermont and the surrounding states in both business and personal insurance. ____________________________________________________________________________________________


Initiative focuses on enhancing behavioral health services in rural areas

Citizen Advocates and St. Joseph’s Addiction Treatment and Recovery Centers have teamed up to conduct research focusing on the challenges faced by rural behavioral health providers and the individuals they serve.

Rural behavioral health providers serve a population of individuals and families that is uniquely vulnerable, and which often face hurdles connecting the people they support with the appropriate level of care or services. In many cases, the services some individuals and families require extend beyond a clinic or medical setting.  Access to housing, reliable transportation, job training or food security can be obstacles for someone recovering from an addiction or mental health diagnosis.  These challenges are more pronounced in areas like the North Country.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is the nation’s largest philanthropy dedicated solely to health and whose guiding thoughts include the principal, “We seek bold and lasting change rooted in the best available evidence, analysis, and science, openly debated. In 2017 alone, the Foundation dedicated over $365 million to improve health care.”

“Both of our organizations have deep ties in and a shared commitment to improving the lives of North Country residents,” said Reid Anthony, CEO of Citizen Advocates. “As such, both Citizen Advocates and St. Joseph’s are an ideal fit to work hand in glove on this important research that focuses on the steps we can take to improve behavioral health services and outcomes in rural areas.”

St. Joseph’s CEO, Bob Ross, adds, “While gaining access to quality behavioral healthcare has traditionally been hampered by geographic distance and limited resources in our rural North Country, the significant increase in demand for addiction and mental health treatment resulting from the unabating heroin and opioid epidemic provides an urgency for a new approach to providing care. We are confident that our collaboration with Citizen Advocates, and partnerships with Syracuse University and SUNY Albany will help to develop a more effective and efficient treatment model for our region’s individuals and families in need of care.”

In the first phase of this three-year program, the research team, coordinated by St. Joseph’s Malone Outpatient Site Supervisor, Deceil Moore, will meet with individuals to gather data regarding the experience and practical needs in seeking out behavioral health services. In addition, the team will interview leaders and front-line providers to get a true sense of how they are adapting to healthcare reforms.  Organizations will also be asked to identify meaningful data that demonstrates quality of care for those they support. 

Phase two of the project is putting the research into action by setting measurable goals to show outcomes in care are improving, and there is greater collaboration among organizations focused on improving overall community health. This means providers are partnering to deliver clinical services, and also meet other critical needs like transportation, job training or housing that are essential for someone recovering from a mental health or addiction diagnosis.

At the conclusion of the study, the team will connect with health, behavioral health and social service organization leaders in rural areas of New York to share best practices.  In addition, the results will be shared with county and state government officials to inform policy decisions, and those focused on further research around health reform.

At Citizen Advocates, we are committed to making lives better. The individuals, families and communities we serve receive a full range of health and lifestyle care through innovative, industry-leading services and programs. All of this is achieved through a person-centered approach that supports and celebrates each individual’s choices. We are here to make a positive difference in the life of any individual needing help along the unique road to health, independence and fulfillment. The work we do is driven by respect for humanity and the given rights of individuals as they explore what it means to define their own future. We are proud to provide quality, compassionate care and do so from the bottom of our hearts. Our work may be difficult at times, but that’s what makes it meaningful. We will persevere with courage and optimism. We are Citizen Advocates.

At St. Joseph’s Addiction Treatment & Recovery Centers we remain vigilant in our commitment to the mission of providing holistic substance use disorder treatment services to those in need throughout the State of New York. Our services include Inpatient, Adolescent, and Veteran residential treatment, Community Services in Essex, Franklin, and St. Lawrence Counties, and Supportive Housing in Malone, Massena, and Ticonderoga. We recognize and honor the high inherent value of all people; from our family of staff members, to the most destitute and impoverished individuals, families and communities ravaged by the effects of addiction. We offer a full continuum of substance use services from detoxification to treatment, maintenance and supportive housing; meeting people where they are through a trauma-informed lens. We use innovative ways to actively reach out into their communities to make help available via telehealth, mobile treatment, in-community services and permanent supportive housing programs where people can raise a family, find a fulfilling vocation, or enrich their education while creating their own recovery communities. From adolescence to adulthood, recovery is a journey, and everyone deserves all the dignity and respect a precious human-being inherently deserves. By empowering people to understand their addictions, discover and practice new pathways toward joy and overall well-being and making connections that fulfill the heart’s purpose, and providing safe environments to redefine success, we at St. Joseph’s rejoice one step at a time.

Plattsburgh Housing Outlet Announces Home Building Seminar

Plattsburgh Housing Outlet, Inc. has developed a home building workshop to educate our community.

Plattsburgh Housing Outlet is pleased to announce a Home Building Seminar on  Thursday, April 11th from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. at Dino’s Pizza, 795 Route 3, (next to Wilson Appliance) in Plattsburgh, NY. 

The free seminar will offer guidance on topics such as: lender requirements, manufactured and modular homes, advice on finding and developing your building site, and time frames for home building.

Experts from all areas of construction will give an overview of the process and participants will also have the opportunity to ask questions during the second hour.

Dinner will be served during the event and there is no cost or obligation for this service.  Participants must RSVP ahead of time, as space is limited and we have been at room capacity the last several times the workshop was offered.  Adults only please.   Anyone interested in attending may call 800-794-6250/ 563-6250 or email with their name, phone number, and number in their party. 

Participants will receive a FREE “how-to” packet.  They will leave with the information they will need to make an informed decision about new construction and home ownership.  One lucky participant will win $2500 off their building project.

Plattsburgh Housing Outlet has been providing North Country Families with quality, affordable homes since 1991.  They were named Retailer of the Year by the Manufactured Housing Institute for the Northeast/ Mid-Atlantic region in 2003 and 2013, one of four companies in the nation.

For more information, contact LaBounty at 563-6250, ext. 21.

WESTELCOM Installs Northern New York’s Only Geographically Diverse Telephone Service

WESTELCOM Networks Inc. announced today that the company has completed a major telephone network switching enhancement that gives the company the ability to provide its customers telephone services from two geographically diverse telephone switches. The switches are located in Watertown and Plattsburgh and are tied together on a regional fiber network ring which allows the company to feed integrated trunks from both the 315 and 518 area codes.  The enhancement allows a single switch to handle all services from both area codes should the other switch encounter a catastrophic failure.

This enhancement underscores the company’s focus on providing mission critical telecommunications services to its customers.  Westelcom’s network currently supports internet and telephone services to over 3,000 businesses, multiple municipalities, 2 telemedicine networks, 10 regional hospitals, several educational facilities, and over 120 health care facilities.

Previously, in August 2017, Westelcom completed a major network enhancement expanding its core bandwidth to 10 times its original network capacity.  The expanded capability provided Westelcom with an ability to deliver Ultra-High-Speed Broadband, Internet and Ethernet services surpassing all technological advancements in the Northern NY region.  Fully redundant and ringed, the network expands across 6 counties and internationally into Montreal and New York City with private connections to Microsoft, Amazon, and Google’s Cloud platforms.  Westelcom’s President and General Manager, Paul Barton stated that “We continue to focus on providing mission critical services and are the only company in the Northern NY region that can offer this level of service to its customers.”

In July 2016 Westelcom was also recognized by the NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association as the first NYS Certified Gig-Capable Provider, joining a national campaign to build awareness and industry recognition of community-based telecom providers that have built communications networks capable of delivering Internet speeds of 1 gigabit per second or greater, which is 100 times faster than most services currently available in much of the U.S.

Mr. Barton also stated that “Westelcom is focused on more than just delivering high-speed internet.  We have developed core network principles that ensure that we deliver our customers the most reliable communications solution possible.  We do what the larger companies are unwilling to do.”


Westelcom provides advanced telecommunications solutions to customers operating throughout Northern New York’s 6 county region between Lake Ontario and Lake Champlain.  Westelcom offers a strategic suite of business communication services over their fiber network which includes telephone, high-speed broadband, dedicated internet, and private Ethernet networks for multi-office connectivity.  Westelcom also offers advanced IP phone and data solutions to include hosted PBX, hosted firewall, server colocation, and carrier neutral colocation services. Their international presence and direct connectivity to Microsoft, Amazon, and Google cloud services enables access to a robust customer ecosystem. The company currently operates three New York based data centers strategically located in Watertown, Plattsburgh and Syracuse allowing for efficient connectivity to metro markets including Montreal, New York City and Boston.

As a leading carrier of telecommunications services, Westelcom has extensive expertise in serving the health care industry to include providing managed internet services and network operation services. Their Mission is to exceed customers’ expectations by providing excellent customer service in communications solution design, delivery and support.”  Westelcom can be reached at or 866.482.5427.

Ground Round Wins Multiple Awards at National Convention

The Plattsburgh Ground Round Bar & Grill is proud to announce winning three major awards at the annual Ground Round national convention recently held in Miami, Florida. 

The awards include; Marketing Best Practices, Peak Performer and Restaurant of the Year.

“Restaurant of the Year is our most prestigious award.” said Jack Crawford, President of the Ground Round Independent Owners Cooperative (IOC), “The Plattsburgh Ground Round has been, and continues to be a leader in our franchise. They have served their community since 1988 and act as a shining example of a successful restaurant. The Plattsburgh store is one of only two in the history of our franchise to win Restaurant of the Year twice.”

According to Mike Ludwig, Director of Operations, the Peak Performer Awards go to select franchises that outperform the rest.  Said Ludwig, “The Plattsburgh Ground Round launched the new menu and LTO in the fall, and had an outstanding year, including brand leading results on Veteran’s Day, gift card sales and an overall increase is sales.”

“The Plattsburgh Ground Round won The Marketing Best Practices Award for aggressive and consistent marketing across traditional and digital media.” Said Shireen Shahawy, the IOC’s Manager of Marketing & Digital Strategy, “Not to mention the fact that they lead the franchise in gift card sales year after year.”

Julie Kramer, Chief Operating Officer of Nine Platt Hospitality Group who owns and operates the Plattsburgh Ground Round said winning these awards really is quite an honor. “Winning three awards in one year is something we can be super proud of.  We are grateful to our staff. From the hosts, to the servers, to the back of house, to our managers, they are all incredible and deserve credit.” Kramer continued, “I would like to thank our marketing agency, Dodge Marketing & Communications, for its creative guidance and media expertise. We couldn’t have won Marketing Best Practices without them.”

Ground Round Independent Owners Cooperative (IOC) represents a group of independent franchise owners, in 10 states spread across the Midwest and Northeast areas of the United States, who have owned and led their own brand since 2004. They offer a unique franchise model where a franchisee can own their own restaurant along with an ownership/membership share in the overall future and growth of the brand.  For more information, visit

The Plattsburgh Ground Round is locally owned and operated by Nine Platt Hospitality Group since 1988. Nine Platt also owns and operates the Plattsburgh Best Western Plus.  Visit for more information.

Three Long-Time Champlain National Bank Employees Get Ready to Retire

Champlain National Bank will be saying goodbye to three of its longest serving employees in 2019, who are retiring.  Retiring this year are Charles (Chuck) Hughes, SVP/CFO, Gayle Bridge, VP/Director of Human Resources, and Judy MacDougall, Loan Servicing.

Chuck Hughes, SVP/CFO, started with the Bank in 1989 as the Comptroller and was promoted to CFO a few years later.  He took the Bank from a place that did everything manually and by hand, and helped move the processes online during the 1990s.  Hughes remembered, “When I started we only had a mainframe and two PCs.  Now there’s a computer on every desk.  The operations room used to be filled with huge check sorting files, and the staff spent a large part of their day sorting checks and pulling checks to be returned with statements each month.  Now all of that is computerized.”  In retirement, he will be splitting his time between New York City and Paradox in the Adirondacks.

Gayle Bridge, VP/Director of Human Resources, is one of the longest serving employees in the Bank’s history.  She started with the Bank in 1979.  She worked in a variety of capacities during her 40 years including bookkeeping, payroll, in the branch, and as one of the first human resources employees.  “Thanks to the dedication and loyalty of generations of good employees along with a strong Board, Champlain National Bank remains an independent Bank,” Bridge said.  She plans to continue to live in Willsboro, but wants to spend more time during the winter in Florida.

Judy MacDougall, Loan Servicing, started as a teller in 1994 before transferring to the loan support department.  She was part of the transition to our current banking platform in 2001.  As for why she spent so many of her working years at Champlain National Bank?  “There’s always been something new to learn, and I’ve enjoyed keeping up with the changes along the way.  I like being able to solve problems and help our clients,” she said.  MacDougall is looking forward to traveling with friends and spending more time with her family in retirement.

"Chuck, Gayle and Judy exemplify those qualities of competence, dedication to our clients, and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances, which have enabled our small, community bank to thrive in an industry facing rapid change and increasing regulatory burdens,” Chairman of the Board Peter S. Paine, Jr. said.  “On behalf of our Board, I thank them for their exemplary service and wish them well in their respective retirements.”

Champlain National Bank was founded in 1909 in Essex County and is still locally owned and managed today with ten branches serving the people of the North Country and Adirondacks.  In addition to traditional banking products, it has a full offering of mobile banking solutions, commercial loans and mortgages.

Agency Insurance Brokers Announce New Account Executive

Agency Insurance Brokers is proud to announce that Mathew Chandler has joined the team as an Account Executive.

In this role, Chandler will be responsible for managing existing accounts and soliciting new commercial business. 

Agency Insurance has been a family owned and operated agency in northern New York since 1926.

Agency Insurance Brokers has offices in Plattsburgh, Rouses Point, Saranac Lake and Ticonderoga.  It is a full-service insurance agency with over 25 different personal and commercial lines carriers to get its clients the best possible coverage at the best possible price. 

Glens Falls National Bank Promotes Two in Plattsburgh

Glens Falls National Bank and Trust Company is pleased to announce two promotions in Plattsburgh. Melissa Mowry is promoted to Vice President, managing the Cornelia Street Office and Tabitha Fletcher is promoted to Branch Manager of the U.S. Avenue Office.

In their roles, Ms. Mowry and Ms. Fletcher are responsible for managing branch sales, service and operations in their respective branches.

Ms. Mowry joined Glens Falls National Bank in 2014, and she was most recently Assistant Vice President and Manager of the Cornelia Street Office. Her duties will transition to the Smithfield Boulevard Office when it opens later this year. Ms. Mowry is dedicated to serving the community as a member of Kiwanis, the Women of Distinction Selection Committee and as a North Country Chamber ambassador. In 2017, she won the Virginia Allen Young Careerist Competition in Augusta, Maine. Ms. Mowry graduated from the College of Saint Rose and lives in the Plattsburgh area.

Ms. Fletcher joined Glens Falls National Bank in 2016, and was most recently Assistant Manager of the Cornelia Street Office. Active in the community, she is a member of the Adirondack Young Professionals and an ambassador for the North Country Chamber of Commerce. She lives in the Plattsburgh area with her daughter.

Glens Falls National Bank and Trust Company provides banking, wealth management and insurance through 30 locations. Part of the Arrow family of companies, it is rated a 5-Star Superior institution by BauerFinancial. To learn more, visit

AAA Northway Announces Andy Iannotti Promoted to Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer

AAA Northway is proud to announce the promotion of Andy Iannotti to Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer. Andy joined AAA in 2014 as Vice-President, Finance & Administration and was promoted in 2016 to Vice-President & Chief Financial Officer. In his new position, Andy is responsible for the efficient day-to-day operation of the business.

President & CEO, Jim Phelps, remarked, “As AAA Northway continues to grow and deliver exemplary service and an expanded menu of products and services to the Club’s 176,000 members, the promotion of Andy is a reflection of his keen business acumen and, most importantly, an acute understanding that serving the best interest of the AAA member always comes first. The company and I are fortunate to have someone with Andy’s skill set and passion for helping AAA members, our co-workers, and the communities we serve on the leadership team. This decision also positions AAA Northway well for the future as it relates to leadership of the company.”

A graduate of Siena College and a licensed CPA, Andy and his wife, Jen, are the proud parents of two children. They reside in Amsterdam and are very involved members of their Church.

AAA Northway is a not-for-profit, membership organization offering over 70 products and services including roadside assistance, home & auto insurance and travel service to over 176,000 members in 13 upstate New York counties.

Short Video Celebrates Champlain National Bank’s History and Local Commitment

Champlain National Bank has released a five-minute video highlighting its history and continuing commitment to the North Country and Adirondacks.  Created in partnership with Adworkshop in Lake Placid, and local videographer and editor Paul Frederick, the piece features interviews with Peter S. Paine Jr., Chairman of the Board and third-generation owner of the Bank, in addition to a closer look at its community involvement and the importance of local decision making.

“Champlain National Bank is woven into the fabric of Essex and Clinton counties, and we have a great story to tell,” said Jackie Hallock, Vice President and Director of Marketing.  “It was especially important for Peter Paine Jr. to be able to tell the story about his family’s commitment to making our communities better over the last 109 years, and how we continue to provide top notch banking services for the people living here.”

To view the video, please visit the Champlain National Bank website at 

Champlain National Bank was founded in 1909 in Essex County and is still locally owned and managed today with ten branches serving the people of the North Country and Adirondacks.  In addition to tradition banking products, it has a full offering of mobile banking solutions, commercial loans and mortgages.

Plattsburgh Family Health to Open Feb. 4, 2019

CVPH and Hudson Headwaters Celebrate Plattsburgh’s Newest Family Health Center

Working together, University of Vermont Health Network – Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital (CVPH) and Hudson Headwaters Health Network announce the opening of a federally qualified health center to increase access to primary care for North Country residents.

The project was funded by a $3.6 million matching grant from the New York State Capital Restructuring Financing Program. CVPH built and owns the new building. Hudson Headwaters will operate in the space as Plattsburgh Family Health beginning Monday, Feb. 4, 2019.

The new facility is located in the CVPH Health Plaza at 87 Plaza Boulevard, Plattsburgh. At 19,125 square feet, it features 20 primary care exam rooms where Hudson Headwaters providers will offer comprehensive primary care for all ages, from newborns to teens, adults to retirees—including women’s health, integrated behavioral health and social work support. Plattsburgh Family Health patients will have the added convenience of being able to access CVPH services such as the Diagnostic Center and Blood Donor Center via a connecting hallway.

Plattsburgh Family Health will be open six days a week:

• Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

• Wednesday and Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• Saturday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“We are pleased to partner with CVPH to deliver high-quality primary care services to the residents of Plattsburgh now and into the future,” said Hudson Headwaters CEO Tucker Slingerland, M.D. “Our mission to provide all patients with the best possible health care, regardless of income or insurance situation, is made possible in large part because of partnerships with organizations like CVPH.”

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