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Colton mulling Swift Field pavilion naming rights

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COLTON - Despite the efforts of one town councilman, it appears that the pavilion at Swift Field in Colton will not be named after former Town Supervisor Henry R. “Hank” Ford any time soon.

At their February board meeting, Councilman Ronald Robert said that he would like to see the pavilion named after Mr. Ford, due to “all his hard work and getting the grant that made it possible.”

The issue was tabled last month, and current Town Supervisor Dennis B. Bulger said earlier this week that he doesn’t expect to make a decision on the matter in the near future.

“Next week at our regular meeting I expect to lift the matter from the table and then to table it indefinitely. As such, to discuss it at this time would be inappropriate. The town board has yet to have an opportunity to review and comment on the issues at hand,” Mr. Bulger said.

The topic was tabled at the Feb. 12 meeting so town officials could get public input. So far they have received six written responses involving approximately eight people, and an additional 500 plus individuals have reviewed it online with no response for or against it.

“We will be exploring establishing a town policy on such matters,” Mr. Bulger said.

Mr. Ford was born in South Colton and after graduating from CPCS attended New York Barber College. He then worked at Fort Drum (then Camp Drum) in that field for some time, before returning to the north country, where he still runs his own barber shop in Canton, Henri’s Hair Handlers.

Mr. Ford also owns and operates a sporting goods store, an ice skate sharpening service which benefits players from local schools, and for many years he has owned a screen printing business. He had also been heavily involved in politics for years and has been the leader of the St. Lawrence County Conservative Party Committee for several years and served as Colton’s town supervisor for a decade. He has established close relationships with several state lawmakers in those roles.

“What I’d like to do is make a motion to name the pavilion at Swift Field after Hank Ford in his honor for all the hard work and getting the grants to make this possible. Without him, this would not have (happened.) And he’s worked on that field and getting things going with the governor back in the (1970s) and I think his hard work shouldn’t go without being noticed,” Mr. Robert said last month.

Mr. Ford has also served in many leadership roles in the county, including time as the director of the Canton JC’s and as a member of the Potsdam Rescue Squad and Pierrepont Fire Department. In addition, he served for seven years as the vice chair of the St. Lawrence County Republican Party, and in 1992 he established the St. Lawrence County Conservative Party.

He also served as chairperson for Colton’s Winterfest for 11 years.

Councilman Donald Shoen called for the board to table the discussion until next week’s meeting, which takes place on March 12, and the motion was seconded by Councilwoman Grace Hawley.

“I know what you’re saying Ronnie and I really think it’s a great idea. I do think that we need to give this some thought and ask for input,” Ms. Hawley said. “I’d like to table it for at least a month. I don’t want to act on it tonight.”

“I’ve talked with a lot of people and there’s no reason for not doing this. They all think it’s a great idea. This man has worked his butt off and brought in a lot of money for this town and I think he should be recognized for it, and that building I would like to see named after him,” Mr. Robert responded.

While serving as town supervisor, Mr. Ford was the representative from Region A to the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages and was chosen as a delegate to the group’s New York State Resolution Committee.

Councilwoman Katheryn Hayes voted not to table the request, but Mr. Bulger sided with Mr. Shoen and Ms. Hawley to push back a vote on honoring Mr. Ford.

Mr. Ford declined to comment on the matter until after the board made their final decision.

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