Local News

March 1, 2008

Mars steps down as head of Fort Ti

TICONDEROGA — Just before the opening of the Fort Ticonderoga building that bears her name, Deborah Clarke Mars is stepping down as president of the fort’s Board of Trustees.

Her husband, Mars Inc. candy company heir Forrest Mars Jr., notified Fort Ticonderoga that he and wife were withdrawing from participation in the activities of the national historic landmark.

With the fort’s annual meeting of the Board of Trustees coming up in New York City later this month, that means electing a new president.

Fort Marketing and Communications Director Marci Hall said she didn’t know if Mrs. Mars would even attend the annual meeting.

“I’m not sure. They’ve (the Marses) been very important to the fort for years. We’re going to miss them.”

The public ceremony opening the $24 million Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center at the fort is scheduled for July 6, but Hall said she didn’t know if either Mars would attend.

In e-mail correspondence with fort officials, Mr. Mars said they would not be at the opening.

The new Education Center was funded largely through contributions from the Marses, which resulted in it being named for Mrs. Mars.

On Saturday, Fort Executive Director Nicholas Westbrook denied reports he would announce his retirement at the annual meeting.

“I continue to enjoy my work and the great challenges ahead here at Fort Ticonderoga.”

Westbrook said he was looking forward to working with the board’s new leadership after the annual meeting.

Hall said the 2008 season at the fort, scheduled to reopen May 10, “marks the end of the first century of opening its doors as a museum to the public.”

She said the fort was “on the doorstep of a new era,” with much business to take up at the annual meeting.

“Staffing issues in general always come up. There are so many directions to go in.”

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