LAKE GEORGE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The legacy of state senator Betty Little has a long tail.
Now, the town has dedicated a stretch of road that might come close to being long enough for that tail to rest.
Lake George Mayor Bob Blais invited a series of guests up to speak in a chorus of praise Wednesday for the newly-retired, Queensbury native state senator, whose 18-year span in officer is only part of her legacy.
The site of Wednesday’s gathering was, until Wednesday, known as West Brook Road. Late last year, the town and Warren County made moves to rename it to Elizabeth Little Boulevard, and the sign for the new name went up on Wednesday.
For those in attendance, the renaming was about keeping Little’s legacy alive.
“Now, sitting in the chamber, and sitting in conference with a lot of Betty’s former senate colleagues, I can tell you (…) how respected Senator Little is, and missed,” said New York Senator Dan Stec, another North Country native and Little’s successor.
Stec voiced the amount that the community connection means to him, mentioning having known Little for most of their lives through living in Queensbury, as well as knowing mayor Blais for his entire life.
“Betty, my wife and parents wish you the best.”
Little has remained a face of the North Country through her time as a state senator, appearing at any number of press conferences and community events every year.
In addition to her senate run, she also served for seven years in the state Assembly, and nine on the Warren County Board of Supervisors.
Little also played a role in getting things going at the Warren County Economic Development Corporation, working alongside the group’s now-deceased former president, Ed Bartholomew, whose memory loomed large for those who worked with him.
“This should be Ed that was here today, to honor Betty,” said Warren County EDC CEO Jim Siplon. “The two of them together did wonderful things.”
Siplon, who played a central role in bringing bottled water company JUST Water to nearby Glens Falls, said it was Bartholomew who first connected him to Little, when he was considering the area as a central point for the business.
“There was a who’s-who of this area in that room that day,” Siplon said, “but my most lasting memory was of Ed introducing me to Betty, and me realizing this was where we belonged.”
The choice of Lake George as the site of the renamed road had significance of its own.
Little worked extensively to encourage environmental conservation work around Lake George, and was thanked for her influence helping to reunite the FUND for Lake George with the Lake George Association, two groups that started as one and resumed working as such this year.
For Lake George Association President Jeff Killeen, that influence was formed by advice given at a birthday party, 10 years ago along the lake group’s long path.
“You told me, ‘Get rid of the old strategies of the past on issues concerning the lake, and focus on bringing us together,'” Killeen said to Little. “I think the manifestation of that, 10+ years ago, is that we brought the LGA and the FUND together as one unified organization.”
Not everyone there to speak on Wednesday was a local.
New York Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul also attended, and joined Little in unveiling a commemorative plaque in the retired senator’s honor.
Hochul described first meeting Little at the Adirondack Challenge, an event promoting Adirondack recreation, shortly after stepping into the lieutenant governor role.
“Betty Little and I hit it off right away, and one thing I learned about her: She is fiercely competitive,” Hochul said. “My first time snowmobiling, she’s like, ‘Come on, you can do it, come on!'”
Little herself came up to speak, and to thank everyone in attendance, last of all, as well as to share some of her thoughts on the legacy she’s left behind.
“I’ve truly loved the job,” Little began. “Someone told me, ‘Is it a career or is it a job,’ and I said it’s a job; that’s the way I always looked at it.”
Little said that, even though she knew it was the right time to step down and spend time with her family, she already missed the connections she had formed over the decades.
“I know it was the right time, but I do miss the people, and the involvement.”
Little thanked her partner, children and grandchildren, and also turned her attention to mayor Blais, who spearheaded the name change and led the event.
“I said, really, you would do something like that?” Little said. “And he did, and he carried it out.”
At 50 years running, Blais currently holds the title of the longest-serving mayor in America. Last year, he announced plans to retire at the end of his current term, in 2023.
At the end, mayor Blais gave some closing words.
“There can be no better spot; there can be no better place; there can be no better woman,” Blais said. “Leave today, come back forever, on Betty’s boulevard.”