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Massena Chamber of Commerce celebrates opening of new home

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MASSENA - Two years ago, the Greater Massena Chamber of Commerce heard the Main Street structure they were housed in was headed to the county’s auction block due to non-payment of taxes by their landlord at the Sunrise Mall.

It set off a search for a new home that could be their home for many years to come.

“We looked all over the greater Massena area,” chamber President Eric J. Gustafson said.

They were able to find a home, thanks to the generosity of the community’s Jewish population.

“We are very grateful to the congregation for this donation to the community,” Mr. Gustafson said prior to a ceremony, where he presented a plaque to a representative from the Adath Israel Synagogue.

Accepting the plaque, which will forever hang on the walls of the chamber’s new home, was Miriam Clopman Catapano, who was quick to note she shouldn’t receive all of the credit for what transpired.

“It’s not just myself,” she said. “Judith Witek and Lenore Levine also worked very hard to make this happen.

Ms. Witek and Ms. Levine were also members of the congregation, which has since merged with the synagogue with Potsdam.

Ms. Catapano noted the synagogue’s congregation had shrunk significantly over the years to the point where the 4,600 square building was simply too large for their needs.

“The building wasn’t being used,” she said, adding the congregation is pleased to see their home have a new life.

“They’re honoring us with this,” she said.

The plaque’s inscription reads, “Site of the Adath Israel Synagogue from 1920 to 2012; In recognition of the generous donation to the Greater Massena Chamber of Commerce.”

Chamber Executive Director Michael Gleason said the new home doesn’t only give them additional space for its offices and meetings, but can also serve as a venue for concerts, seminars and other events.

“We now have a venue for a rainy day,” he said. “We can host fundraisers here and have seminars. It’s big enough.”

The chamber’s old space, he said, was roughly 1,600 square feet, while its new home is 4,600 square feet and that doesn’t even include the basement.

Mr. Gleason said he’s happy to finally celebrate the grand opening of the chamber’s new home.

“This is our first full week here,” he said, adding the past three months have included a lot of back and forth between the synagogue at 16 Church St. and the chamber’s former 50 Main St. home.

While the back and forth was a lot of work, Mr. Gleason said it could have been worse.

“We had pretty good planning and executed it very well,” he said.

Although the chamber has a new home, it’s phone number remains the same, 769-3525.

On the Net:

www.massenachamber.com

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