Cassadaga celebrates water project completion

CASSADAGA – After a long journey the pump house is complete and those who worked so hard on it were honored at a ribbon/dedication ceremony held Saturday afternoon.

Some past board members joined in on the celebration. Among them were: Former Mayor Keith Kelly, plumber Wally Thorp, former Trustee Ray Haynes, and former Deputy Mayor Valerie Culverwell.

Mayor LeeAnn Lazarony stood before them, as well as friends, family, present board members and engineers as she read a speech about what this water project has meant to so many people.

“In the late 1920s Cassadaga became incorporated into a village, because they needed a water system. The wells were hand dug and it became a big deal when we were able to turn on faucet and hand pumps,” she read. “It has been a truly amazing feet, the added water system, and new search for water. I have a new intimate knowledge of the water system.”

Lazarony thanked all those who were part of the project from the very start.

“We are now part of the water history,” she said. “We may not of all agreed on the direction to take, but we had the same destination.”

Stearns and Wheler Engineer Greg McCorkhill and Lazarony unveiled the plaque to Robert Armstrong, a former engineer who passed away in 2012.

“When I got to know Bob I found he was a man of character. When I was being impossible he would always tell me everything was fine,” Lazarony said. “He could touch peoples lives, even those in this tiny village. We persevered and now the project is complete.”

Joanne Armstrong, Bob’s wife, spoke highly of her husband’s love for the project.

“He was excited about this project. He wanted everyone to be informed and went to every meeting,” she said. “He wanted to move forward with the community and bring forth this goal, which is beneficial and necessary. Clean water is what makes us a civil society.”

Village historian John Sipos commented on the birth of the water system in 1928.

“There were two major fires in 1923 and 1924. Knotts Lumber Mill burned down and that is when Cassadaga needed to incorporate their own water system. They needed to have a fire department,” he said. “The village itself became incorporated in 1921, but the water system (the old pipes are still used today) came in 1928.”

Sipos, Bill and Roxanne Astry and Susan Sipos spoke with great respect on their admiration for Robert Armstrong. They said he was a nice man, soft spoken, classic character, and the official acting person on the project.

Before it was a village, Cassadaga was spelled with only one ‘S’ and meant “Lake under the rocks” which is why the lake is always fresh. The lake is fed by a underground spring.

Plumber Wally Thorp said he was brought on the project on and off whenever the village officials needed him to work on it. He has been part of this journey in some way going back to the 1940s.

Kelly was mayor of the village from the late ’80s to late ’90s. He remembers putting the water project together from the start.

“I think it is good for the village to figure out they needed another source of water. We had three wells that were shallow,” he said. “I thought we had a good engineer; we had some trials and errors with the well drilling. There was bad information on test wells and it didn’t produce what we thought it would, but overall it went very smoothly.”

Stearns and Wheler Engineer Greg McCorkhill got to see his work finished and it felt good.

“It went really well. LeeAnn did a great job. It was nice Armstrong’s family was here to see it,” he said. “He enjoyed the time he spent on the project. There were some challenges. His family really appreciated the dedication.”

Public Works Superintendent Tom Fetter had been on this project from the start.

“I am happy everything is done for now,” he said. “I really liked Bob. I really miss him; he was a good man. We worked really well together. We spent many hours talking about the project and he was very interested. We designed the pump house together.”

Lazarony fully appreciated how they dedication turned out.

“Everyone had a good time and it was a great tribute to the past and present. It was a great day to remember Bob Page who was the only mayor physically in charge of the water project,” she said. “We were the board who was left with this unfinished project and had to finish it. I was really the one who took it all very seriously and would have Bob explain everything to me before I would sign off on anything. Today (Saturday) was a great day.”

Culverwell added Lazarony wanted to see this to the end.

“LeeAnn steered the ship the whole time,” she said, “guiding us to the final destination.”

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