CCHA gets inaugural Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership Director's Award

Oct. 7—PLATTSBURGH — The Clinton County Historical Association (CCHA)was the recipient of the inaugural Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership (CVNHP) Director's Award for the Champlain Valley Suffrage Centennial Motorcade and Commemorative Book.

The award was presented at the 13th CVNHP Annual International Summit held recently in Saranac Lake.


The award reads: "The Clinton County Historical Association utilized a CVNHP Special Program Grant to conduct ten suffrage celebrations in the Champlain Valley to mark the 101st anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 2021. Thirty partner organizations participated in the project, which concluded with the publication of a commemorative book marking the anniversary."

Project Committee members included: Stan Cianfarano, Tisha Dolton, Mary O'Donnell Enhorning, Elsa Gilbertson, Kim Harvish, David Hodges, Wendy Johnston, Jacqueline Madison, Linda McKenney, Elisa Nelson, Helen Nerska, Teri Podnorszki, Lisa Polay, Sandi Rhodes, Sandra Weber and Tim Weidner.

"It was big push for the booklet to get that situated because that was part of our initial plan," Dolton, chair of the Champlain Valley Suffrage Centennial Auto Tour Committee, said.

"When we lost the second set of funding, we needed to decide what we were going to ditch. That was kind of the piece that got set aside. Then, when we realized we had funds left over and everything was so successful we had so much content and so many photos that I did like a quick little mock-up.

"Once I sent that out to people, Sandra Weber just looked at it and goes, 'Alright, I'm going to do this.' She had been the main person who was going to do the booklet in the first place. She just ran with it. That made the grant people so much happier to have that tangible piece that is going to live on afterward."


The final reporting of the grant took a little bit of time as well.

"Making sure we had all of money in align and it made sense and we could fulfill that part of the grant," Dolton said.

The COVID-19 Pandemic of 2020 delayed the Champlain Valley Suffrage Centennial Auto Tour until 2021.

The participating organizations hit the ground running as the tour began at the Clinton County Historical Association on July 31, 2021 in Plattsburgh and made subsequent stops at Ausable Chasm, Lewis, Elizabethtown, Vergennes, Addison and concluding in Glens Falls on August 21, 2021.


Dolton, a librarian/historian a the Folklife Center at the Crandall Public Library, was surprised by the award recognition.

"I was totally not expecting that," she said.

"It's the first award that they've ever given out for something like that, so it was even on any of our radars. What was interesting as I was in Kingston and not at the summit in Saranac Lake. I was Kingston for a public history conference. I was presenting about my tea cozies."

Dolton's boss, Todd DeGarmo, attended the summit in Saranac Lake.

"So I getting these little inklings of things," she said.

"He said, 'You won a great award,' and I'm like what are you guys talking about? Then I finally talked to him, and he said we're going to have a little meeting. There's cheesecake on the table. He was like, 'You guys won an award!'

"One of us usually goes because we're usually involved in some way in one of their grant programs. We have a grant from them for next year for Champlain Canal stories. We are going to do a bunch of documentaries. The mini documentaries that are about two to three minutes long. We are going to do one on the Champlain Canal. He was there to talk about that and see what everybody else was doing."

DeGarmo didn't have any advance knowledge either of the award.

"The only person (Helen Nerska) that Jim had told was Clinton County Historical Association because they were the grant holder," Dolton said.

"So technically, the award was given to them because you can't give it to 15 of us. One of their board members, Carol Arnold, was the one who actually went to the event and received the award. That was cool."

Dolton sent a little note to Jim Branagan, CVNHP assistant director, to tell her exactly what the award was.

"I managed the Champlain Valley Suffrage Centennial Motorcade grant from beginning to end," Branagan said.

"Originally, the grant was awarded to another organization in 2019, but the effects of the pandemic took its toll in 2020 and they had to withdraw from the project. Helen Nerska, Tisha Dolton, Sandra Weber and the rest of the team behind this concept would not be deterred though. They approached me later that year and asked if the Clinton County Historical Association could take on the project in 2021, to mark the 101st anniversary of the 19th Amendment. We've worked with CCHA for decades and I knew they could do it. and was I right!

"Like the determined women and men working for universal suffrage more than 100 years ago, they were determined to get it done against some daunting challenges. This wonderful group of people banded together and did a fantastic job recognizing the struggle that was the suffrage movement. They did a great job and I'm very pleased that they were recognized with the inaugural Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership Director's Award."


Now, Dolton and her colleagues at the Folklife Center are getting together with Warren and Washington counties for programming centered around the 250th Commemoration of the American Revolution.

Dolton said the commemoration is more expansive than just the 13 original colonies and will include all types of revolutions.

"We hope we can tap into suffrage and abolitionism in the American Revolution events as well," she said.

"I still have lots of research that hasn't seen the light of day, so we are still working on that."

But the 2021 Champlain Valley Suffragist Centennial Auto Tour is an event that keeps on giving.

For it, Dolton created an exhibit, "Equli-tea Suffragist Tea Cozies in Redwork."

"I'm getting a book published about my tea cozies, so that's really exciting down here," she said.

"Warren County Historical Society is going to publish it. It's kind of a combination exhibit catalogue and then the patterns are in the back for all of the suffragists. That's pretty neat."