PRIDE of Ticonderoga

Ticonderoga is finding a new sense of PRIDE


Story and photos by Jaime Thomas

PRIDE has helped renovate nearly all of the buildings in downtown Ticonderoga

Robert Austin toughed out many cold, snowy North Country winters with a furnace that leaked and barely worked. He could not afford to replace it, so he was forced to live in the cold. Finally, he found an answer to his problem. He turned to PRIDE of Ticonderoga for help last year, and soon after, he had a new furnace.

“The house is warm. Now when we turn on the thermostat, it warms the house in about two hours. We’ve actually been able to turn it down,” Austin says.  

PRIDE, which stands for Preserve, Revitalize, Implement, Direct, and Effect community development, extends its services into Washington, Essex, and Warren counties.

Marci Hall, program assistant of PRIDE, says the organization is a Rural Preservation Company, or RPC, which is a state title meaning it’s charged with helping distribute state funds to various places.

If people fall into the qualifying income range, which is not very stringent, Sharon Reynolds, executive director, writes grant requests to the state. Though grant writing can take awhile, Reynolds approaches it with a positive mindset. She says the process of each application is different, which helps her better define who they [the members of PRIDE] are so that she is very clear on the mission of the organization.

“We’re helping folks that can’t afford any repairs and making sure that they have a healthy and safe environment,” Reynolds says.

Situations like Austin’s are common, Reynolds says. “I think the really moving part of this job is when in the middle of winter, you have a call from someone in need because their furnace breaks down, we have the money that we can get to them,” Reynolds says. “The look in their eyes is so grateful.”

“The look in their eyes is so grateful.”

Along with home and business revitalization, PRIDE is working to improve local recreation opportunities

PRIDE was originally established in 1984 for historic preservation, but later expanded to include homes and downtown revitalization. Main Street in downtown Ticonderoga, for example, is on its third grant. Many downtown businesses have redone their storefronts or interiors from this funding.

Jim Majors owns a building downtown that houses a store on the first floor and apartments upstairs. After taking an interest in the improvement of Montcalm Street, he applied for a grant through PRIDE, and they were able to match every dollar he spent.

“It enabled me to completely [renovate] the outside of the building and the main floor with everything—new heating, new flooring, new walls, and a new ceiling— everything that was necessary to run a business,” Majors says.

“It really helps revitalize the community and helps clean it up,” Hall says.

Gary Namer is a partner and owner of Two Brother’s Meat Market in Ticonderoga, which recently moved to rent out in Major’s renovated space.

In the old location, “we were lucky if we sold $200 worth of groceries in two months. Now, we sell $200 per day,” Namer says.

Majors says along with more business at Two Brother’s, the general downtown traffic has increased from all the revitalization.

“It really helps revitalize the community and helps clean it up,” Hall says.

Majors agrees. “I think that in the last few years, PRIDE has been an absolute tremendous help to Ticonderoga. They’ve generated millions of dollars for a combination of projects, from helping people change the facades on their downtown buildings to generating funds to help homeowners get new furnaces or rehab their homes, to other projects for the community including walking trails,” Majors says.

“It’s so rewarding as a job—I love the work, I love writing, and I love being able to receive funding, then see it go to use and see transformation,” Reynolds says.

Hall says the projects PRIDE helps make happen often positively impact people’s lives in a large way.  A current initiative, for example, is to replace old mobile homes in Washington County with new modular homes. New wells will also be dug for those with a poor water system.

“It’s about bringing in a whole new life that upgrades their lives [and] upgrades the community—it’s a whole community-based thing, keeping alive little towns like these,” Hall says.

Renovations range from re-painting the inside to remodeling the exterior facade.


Majors believes that PRIDE has been very beneficial for the area. “They are an organization that is so greatly underappreciated for the tremendous things they have offered and the tremendous benefits they bring to this town,” he says.

Additionally, patrons say the people who run PRIDE are very helpful.  

“There was no hesitation at all and no waiting. Once I put in the application and they reviewed it, they got it all done,” Austin says. He saved lots of oil last year in his new furnace and is expecting to have another large savings this year.

“There was no hesitation at all and no waiting."

“It’s not for lack of passion that our towns don’t take action. They want to take care of their seniors, and they want to take care of their downtown; they have such a passion for it, but it’s for lack of resources,” Reynolds says.

 

What historic preservation would you like to see PRIDE revitalize?

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