OGDENSBURG IS MY HOME
It feels like I have lived in Ogdensburg for so long that I sometimes feel like a native, but I am not.
My road to Ogdensburg came after college. I was a naive young man looking for employment and it took me to the late Charles W. Kelly and James Reagan at The Journal and Advance News.
When I accepted the job as a reporter, I never expected to still be in Ogdensburg more than two decades later. I figured it was a pit stop. The beginning of a journey anywhere else but here.
But a funny thing happened — I stayed.
I was lucky enough to find the love of my life, Angela, in The Journal’s business office and then raised two children in this city that we call home.
As life sometimes goes, I left The Journal for a job with the City of Ogdensburg, but now I am back where my journey began.
I choose to live in Ogdensburg, like many of the 10,000 people who reside here. They work, raise their families and live their lives to their fullest here in this city. Some leave for other employment, warmer weather or to be near family and that’s fine.
I like small town living, where you know people when you walk into the store.
I love the St. Lawrence River and I am pretty sure I am not the only one.
I am lucky to live in the Ogdensburg City School District where there is so much to offer our youth in regards to classes, activities, clubs and sports.
I am impressed every time this community bands together — most notably when it helped save a correctional facility and later on the psychiatric center from the Governor’s chopping block.
I smile every time I see a native move back to Ogdensburg, the place where they grew up.
I can go on and on.
You may wonder, what is the point I am trying to make.
Well ... Ogdensburg was recently visited by a writer for The New Yorker. If you haven’t read it yet, the story focused on whether President Joe Biden’s proposed American Jobs Plan and a $1.2 trillion “Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework” could transform and save Ogdensburg. Mixed in with this article were observations, some unique historical elements and candor about local politics and the city itself.
I will not dispute the economic development portions of the article. I am not an expert on that and will never declare myself as one.
However, there was a section that caught my eye. At first, I thought I had misread it but I read it again and then a third time. Each time, I could feel my blood pressure rising.
“The people who leave Ogdensburg are the ones who have the ambition and skill to relocate and, through luck or will, succeed elsewhere. The people left behind are a mix of passionate locals willing to forgo opportunity elsewhere and the people least able to take control of their own destiny.”
It’s amazing that the writer could make this observation after the day or two he was here and I just wonder who he talked to make this claim.
We know the truth though.
People who leave Ogdensburg often do things that can be considered great and that’s all right.
People stay here in Ogdensburg, or leave and come back, and still do similar things.
I told a person I respect greatly about the article and he told me, “People always see the great things people do when they leave Ogdensburg. They don’t see the great things that are happening here all the time.” I couldn’t agree more.
It’s not hard to come up with a list of people who could have left but chose to stay. They are our business owners, teachers and administration, community leaders and those that choose to work in this community we call home.
People in Ogdensburg have skills and ambition. We have spirit and drive.
And lastly, we can control our destiny. We can decide how the next year or decade pans out for this city.
It’s a shame that The New Yorker will probably never return to see what Ogdensburg looks like in the future.
However, we will still be here.
And that’s what matters the most.
I am not a huge fan of fireworks. It’s something that hasn’t appealed to me over the years.
And, it’s pretty annoying when they are shot off randomly throughout the night here in Ogdensburg.
However, when they are shot off on the 4th of July is when I tend to appreciate them while celebrating our nation’s independence. I just happened to be visiting family at Lisbon Beach when we, and hundreds of campers, were entertained by fireworks on three different fronts near, and at, the campground. It was pretty entertaining and the sight of gawking spectators proved it was enjoyed by many.
Morristown Fire Chief Jay Moore made some pretty bold statements about his department’s chicken barbecue. I think he said it was “famous, mouth-watering, best in the north country chicken barbecue.”
Now, I will admit, I didn’t have a chance to hit them up for the dinner this past weekend as they celebrated Independence Day. However, I understand that they sold a whopping 600 dinners and eventually sold out.
I think that may speak for itself.