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High school students get first-hand look at manufacturing
Rep. Stefanik tours Rasp as part of manufacturing day at SUNY Adirondack

Students noticed something right away on Friday when they toured the Rasp plant in Moreau.

The facility for the company that makes industrial controller equipment for clients all over the world was very quiet and clean — not qualities that people normally associate with manufacturing.

“It’s a misconception of manufacturing that it’s always dirty,” said Kim Wegner, coordinator of enrichment, STEM education and career connections at BOCES, during a tour of the plant with students and U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik.

The tour was part of manufacturing day, when area students in eighth through 10th grade toured businesses, viewed hands-on demonstrations and listened to a panel discussion moderated by Stefanik back at the campus.

At Rasp, students got to see a $300,000 machine that engraved an image of a jack-o-lantern on a piece of metal.

Ronald Richards, owner and chief executive officer, said rather than eliminate jobs, the company has added positions through automation. They are able to make products much more quickly.

“Automation is everywhere. There are so many career choices in automation,” he said.

Richards said the company works with a variety of shapes and materials. It provides products for local clients such as General Electric and Precision Valve and Automation.

Richards also showed students the safety data sheets and safety equipment required on the job.

“Safety is such a big part of manufacturing,” he said.

Richards said the company has positions for a variety of educational levels from high school to two-year and four-year college degrees.

“It’s pretty impressive. It’s very clean and there’s safety equipment everywhere,” said Saratoga Springs ninth-grader Kathryn Olson.

Queensbury sophomore Drew Fedele, 16, said he was impressed by the plant, which was newer than some of the ones they had visited in the past.

He is interested in a career in biomechanical engineering with an emphasis on artificial limbs and robotics.

Harrison Raesly, 16, also of Queensbury, was impressed by the stress placed on safety. He is interested in environmental engineering.

“I think using renewable resources is better for the environment — not using fossil fuels,” he said.

Other student groups toured Irving Consumer Products, Hollingsworth & Vose, and Just Beverages. The students also checked in at SUNY Adirondack’s science and technology facilities.

The day concluded with a roundtable discussion on technology moderated by Stefanik, who asked about the kinds of employees that manufacturing firms are seeking.

Stefanik said, for her staff, she looks for ability to communicate effectively, work well with others and provide good customer service.

Jim Siplon, chief operating officer of Just Beverages, said his company is looking for critical thinkers.

“All of you should focus on being able to turn math numbers and science numbers into action, particularly being able to solve problems,” he said.

Peggy Murphy, director of human resources for Espey Manufacturing and Electronics Corp., recalled that she had an employee start as an intern while a student at Saratoga Springs High School. He came back to Espey after college and worked his way up to a corporate position in the company.

“Work and learn as much as you can and start your career path,” she said.

Ron Zimmerman, operations manager for Hollingsworth & Vose, said the company wants creative people who can solve problems.

“We’re always looking for folks that are interested in innovation and trying to push for new products and new technology,” he said.

Jennifer Tinkler, operations leader at Irving Consumer Products, said the company seeks to improve its productivity through continuous improvement of its staff.

Adam Gray, founder and president of, said it is important for employees to be versatile and understand how their actions affect other people.

“Everybody on the team has to play a different role on the team at a different part of the day,” he said.

Lake George receives $4.27M grant for wastewater treatment plant

LAKE GEORGE — The village got some good news this week with the announcement it will receive more than $4.27 million from the state toward its multimillion-dollar project to build a new wastewater treatment plant.

Also receiving funding locally were Washington County’s Sewer District 2, which will get nearly $4.7 million; and Hague’s wastewater treatment plant, which will get nearly $99,000.

The money was part of nearly $44 million in grants Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Thursday.

Lake George leaders want to build a $17 million plant to replace the village’s 85-year-old facility. The village is under a consent order from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to reduce excessive emission of nitrates, which contribute to algal blooms in the lake and can degrade water quality.

The Village Board last month voted to retain the services of the Chazen Companies to complete design work for the project. The schedule calls for the final construction plans to be submitted to the state by October 2018. The work would be bid out in the winter of 2019, with construction taking place from the summer or fall of 2019 to late spring in 2021.

Mayor Robert Blais was not available for comment on Friday. Blais had been lobbying for state funding more than a year, so the full cost of the project is not borne by village taxpayers.

Blais said previously that if the village had to borrow the full $17 million, its local tax rate would increase by almost 70 percent and the municipality would exceed its constitutional state debt limit.

Lake George Association Director Walt Lender said he is pleased with the funding. The organization has worked for years to protect the lake from pollutants and has written letters of support for grants to build a new plant.

“It’s a little bit too much for village residents alone or even residents of the watershed alone, without any additional partnerships,” he said.

Lender said he hopes the village can obtain additional state funding, as well as federal funding.

“I know the village is looking under every single possible stone,” he said.

Other grant funding awarded locally included $98,563 toward upgrades to Hague’s wastewater treatment plant. Hague’s plant has been flagged for exceeding limits on levels of nitrate and phosphorus. The latter serves as a food source for phytoplankton, which can multiply and block sunlight, compromising the lake’s ecosystem by limiting the growth of underwater meadows known as nitella.

Washington County Sewer District 2 received funding for two separate projects — $3.7 million toward a $14.8 million long-term control plan and $975,923 toward a $3.9 million project to relocate a trunk sewer in Fort Edward.

Laura Oswald, director of economic development, said the county has sought funding for some of these projects for the last three years.

The Fort Edward project involves removing water and sewer infrastructure that currently goes across the property of Irving Consumer Products and relocating those utilities onto a public right of way, according to Oswald.