Capitol Notes

North Country mass gathering generates complaints

Multiple complaints were recently made to the state about a late June event in Lewis County where people were allegedly not wearing masks or properly social distancing, according to the county attorney.

The “Stuck in the Muck” gathering in the town of New Bremen was scheduled for June 25-28 at the Adirondack International Speedway Park, where large trucks and all-terrain vehicles drive through trails and muddy courses. Social media posts from the event indicate dozens of people were in attendance and face coverings were not being used when social distancing wasn’t maintained.

Organized racing events are allowed in New York, but state guidelines don’t allow for spectators to be in attendance. The state attorney general’s office confirmed that they are aware of the event, but they had not taken any actions in response as of Thursday morning.

Lewis County Attorney Joan McNichol said the complaints to the county, which indicated the private campground was “packed,” came through the state’s “New York on Pause” forum.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s  office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In advance of the event, McNichol reached out to the event organizer to remind him about adhering to social distancing and mass gathering restrictions. She said that events at the facility normally attract “people from all over.”

“On behalf of the county I did what I could,” McNichol said.

Lewis County Sheriff Michael Carpinelli visited the site at the request of a county lawmakers, according to McNichol, but it’s not clear what actions he took before, during or after the event. He did not immediately respond to an interview request.

This week, Cuomo was critical of local officials around the state for a lack of enforcement of the state’s reopening guidelines and social distancing restrictions. He indicated the state will implement its own enforcement arm to supplement local efforts.

McNichol is support of this effort, saying the state should be responsible for enforcing its own mandates. “I think it would work a lot better if there was state enforcement,” she said.

“We’re trying as best we can to get people to abide by the guidelines,” McNichol added.

Lewis County has had less than three dozen confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the state. Another event is scheduled for the site in August.






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