CHEERS to Paul A. Sands, outgoing president and general manager of WPTZ and WNNE as he heads into retirement. Sands has held the position since 1998, and during that time has contributed in many ways to the betterment of the area. Sands’s career has taken him to San Diego, Portland, St. Louis, Seattle and other major cities, but his heart belongs to the North Country. He has been active in a number of organizations, including Plattsburgh Rotary Club and the Partnership for Community Development Leadership Council. He is chair of Community Providers Inc., the holding company for CVPH Medical Center and Elizabethtown Community Hospital, where he puts in many hours trying to enhance local health-care services. Sands was well known for his on-air editorials, which ended with the much-quoted, “That’s our opinion — what’s yours?” Here at the Press-Republican we know how challenging it can be to take stands on local issues, knowing you are going to take heat from everyone with an opposing position. But Sands raised pertinent issues from both sides of the lake. And speaking of that, he also had to take heat from New York residents who aren’t pleased with the amount of Vermont coverage on WPTZ, even though its wide broadcast signal makes that state well within its coverage area. We have always viewed Sands as professional, hard-working and amiable and know him to be a man who cares about the community. We wish him the best in retirement, knowing he will stay busy with local causes.
CHEERS to people who help those with disabilities manage the challenges of inaccessible buildings. Though public facilities are required by law to be accessible, many businesses have still not seen the obvious benefit to making sure that all potential customers can get inside. Thankfully, people power comes to the rescue in many cases. Mike Ratner, a longtime Plattsburgh resident who copes with muscle weakness caused by myositis, tells us he uses a wheelchair to get around. After retiring from Westport Central School, where he taught for 28 years, he now works full time from April to September at Plattsburgh Boat Basin, so he has reason to navigate around Plattsburgh. He drives a van that is equipped with everything he needs to drive from his wheelchair. Here’s what he told us about accessibility: “Since last spring, I have been traveling around the city in a power wheelchair. Although there are a number of stores that have automatic doors, many do not. I am pleasantly surprised to find that whenever I come upon a door that I am not able to open, someone always comes to my rescue. The same is true when I am in a store and the item I need is not within my reach. There always seems to be a store employee or shopper happy to assist me. To these people, I give a big Cheer.” Ratner reminds us of something we have heard many times: North Country kindness is well-documented — and appreciated.