Press-Republican

June 5, 2011

New Champlain Bridge naming suggested

Crown Point span moniker would touch on Vt., NY

LOHR McKINSTRY
Press-Republican

CROWN POINT — A movement is under way to name the new Champlain Bridge for two state troopers from New York and Vermont who died in the line of duty.

New York State Police Capt. John Tibbitts said he has submitted a proposal to name the new bridge in honor of both New York Trooper Lawrence "Larry" Gleason and Vermont State Trooper Gary Gaboury.

Sgt. Robert Buell and Trooper Michael Bresett of the Schroon Lake substation first approached him about the possibility, said Tibbitts, who is Troop B Uniform Division commander.

"I talked with some local residents, who said it would be a really nice gesture, a great honor. It's one memorial people will have in their minds when they cross the bridge. It seemed like the right thing to do."

JOINT RECOGNITION

Since the bridge connects Crown Point with Chimney Point, Vt., it was appropriate to ask for joint recognition, he said, and he contacted Vermont State Police to see if that agency agreed.

"Their response was a resounding yes. We're putting forth the idea (that) we can name it for both troopers because the bridge is a terminus."

He said he spoke with Gleason's parents, and they were "100 percent behind it."

Gleason died Feb. 11, 2002, when he was shot protecting the life of a woman during a domestic-violence call in Crown Point. The shooter also killed the woman and himself.

"You wrack your mind how to honor someone who died under these circumstances," Tibbitts said. "We believe this would have permanence."

NEW NAME UNLIKELY

Gaboury was a diver who died May 12, 1992, during a recovery detail at Huntington Gorge in Richmond, Vt.

Gaboury was attempting to remove the body of a swimmer who had drowned in the gorge when he was trapped by hydraulic pressure underwater and couldn't be rescued before his air ran out.

Tibbitts said he sent the proposal to the Lake Champlain Bridge Public Advisory Committee, which is chaired by Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward (R-Willsboro).

Sayward said she has received the paperwork and has contacted the State Department of Transportation about the request. The DOT, in turn, consulted with the Vermont Agency of Transportation, she said.

It was DOT's opinion that naming the bridge in honor of someone would also require approval of the U.S. Department of Transportation, she said, since the bridge connects two states.

That approval could be difficult to obtain, Sayward said, and the feeling was that the bridge would not be renamed.

"DOT felt it was better to leave it as is."

WANTS PUBLIC INPUT

Crown Point Town Supervisor Bethany Kosmider, a member of the Public Advisory Committee, said she was only recently made aware of the naming request.

"It's brand new. I'm looking forward to hearing from people about this. I want to get public input on this idea."

Sayward said the State Police request wasn't the first she has received on naming the bridge.

"I have received other suggestions, from various veterans groups and others."

Some people have also suggested naming State Route 185, also known as Bridge Road, the connector to the bridge, for Gleason, but Sayward said she has received nothing in writing on that.

"I have not had anyone submit that request. I would confer with DOT to see if that would be a possibility."

Tibbitts said they'll keep working on the idea for the bridge.

"We're trying to talk to people in government, to get their feelings and their support on this. I hope this proposal moves forward."

Email Lohr McKinstry at: lmckinstry@pressrepublican.com