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St. Lawrence County may contribute to Bassmaster tournament

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CANTON — St. Lawrence County legislators are poised to contribute financially to bring the Bassmaster Elite Series Tournament to Waddington this summer because it could attract anglers to the area for years to come.

“I think it will be the gift that keeps on giving,” Finance Committee Chairman Frederick S. Morrill, D-DeKalb Junction, himself a fisherman, said at a Monday committee meeting. “Fishing on the St. Lawrence River is phenomenal.”

The Bassmaster Elite Series on Aug. 8 to 11 will bring the world’s top bass anglers to Waddington and showcase the region to a global audience.

“This is a steppingstone. We will make this a success,” Waddington Mayor Janet M. Otto-Cassada said. “This is the one we need to do correctly.”

Organizers of the tournament are trying to raise $60,000, the fee to host the event, plus at least an additional $40,000 to pay for promotion.

Legislative Chairman Jonathan S. Putney, D-Waddington, suggested the county chip in $15,000, but Legislator Vernon D. “Sam” Burns, D-Ogdensburg, recommended the figure be raised to $60,000.

Other legislators said they might support a $60,000 contribution but wanted to know more.

“I have no problem with $15,000, but $60,000 right out of the box, I’m not prepared for that,” said Legislator Joseph R. Lightfoot, R-Ogdensburg.

Donald R. Meissner, coordinator of FISHCAP — an initiative of the county Chamber of Commerce — told legislators whatever money they contribute will be well spent.

“This Elite Series is gigantic in the sports world. This gives us our great opportunity to show the rest of the country how special we are,” he said. “The economic flow will just be beginning. This isn’t just cookie cutter. We have the opportunity to show who we are.”

Legislators asked the tournament’s organizers to provide a budget and plan of how money will be used before they make a decision on a contribution in March.

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