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Thu., Dec. 18
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Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York

Town gives Massena chamber extra money to hire additional help at gift shop

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MASSENA - By a vote of 4-1 the Massena town board agreed to provide the Greater Massena Chamber of Commerce with an additional $6,000 in funding that will allow them to hire two additional workers to staff the gift shop at the Eisenhower Locks.

Councilman John F. Macaulay though said he wasn’t sold on giving the chamber additional funding, noting that it may in fact be against local law.

“Can we legally give them more?” he asked, noting the town has a law on the books that limits the chamber’s funding for marketing purposes at $10,000.

Bookkeeper Nancy Fregoe said the town is already giving the chamber $14,500 - $9,500 for marketing and $5,000 to pay for staffing at the gift shop.

Mr. Macaulay said he wasn’t sold on pouring money into the gift shop.

“An operation like that should be self-sustaining,” he said. “I feel like the members of the chamber should be the ones paying for that in their dues, because they are the ones who see the benefit.”

Councilman Albert N. Nicola, who ultimately supported the motion, said he wasn’t sure about providing the additional funding.

“I have my doubts,” he said. “They have revenue from dues, and we have gotten rid of the summer help everywhere except for at the DPW.”

Mr. Macaualay said he wasn’t necessarily against the expense, but he just wanted to make sure it was a good investment.

“I need to be sold by them,” he said. “If the chamber of commerce can show there are benefits from this, I’m all for it, but I’m not in favor of spending money just to spend money.”

Councilman Thomas C. Miller said he needed no convincing.

“The thing that amazes me is 30,000 to 40,000 visit out there each year. I drove out there the other day, and there were license plates from five states,” he said. “That would be two more kids getting summer jobs.”

According to Mr. Gray, the chamber would use the additional funds to keep the gift shop open longer. Without the funds, Mr. Gray said the chamber would keep the store open as long as they could, but would likely end up closing before the end of the summer season.

“Should we just leave it dark and empty?” Mr. Gray asked, to which Mr. Macaulay replied, “Maybe.”

Councilman Samuel D. Carbone Jr. said he felt like the money would be a good investment and help steer people toward the community’s businesses.

“It’s money that going to come full circle,” he said.

Mr. Miller added a new initiative by the chamber this year is a coupon book directing people to other businesses in the area.

“Joe, correct me if I’m wrong, but there are a lot of coupons in there,” he said.

The booklets, which will be available soon, include a schedule of summer events in Massena, as well as advertisements and coupons for area businesses, including restaurants, stores, spas, golf courses, automotive dealerships and even a photographer.

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