To The Editor:
They say all roads lead to home and for a while I didn’t believe that; the reason being that I didn’t really know where “home” was.
I grew up in a split family, sharing time with my parents throughout the years.
My mom had me in several small town places in the North Country – Alexandria Bay, Theresa, Adams – my dad planted roots in Fulton where he grew up.
Every other weekend I would come to Fulton to visit. Sometimes I would even bring friends with me to show off that cool, far away town that had lots of fast food options, a Nestle Factory and even a roller-skating rink.
My favorite pastime was always picking my quarters out of my United States collectors map so that I could walk down to Carvel to get ice cream, always telling my father that I had money from my mom when he questioned where I got it.
Obviously if you’re familiar with any small town in the North Country, to a child coming to Fulton wasn’t so bad.
As a freshman in high school, I moved to Fulton full-time.
Never once did I ever question its success, economy, educational systems or even hometown vibe.
It was just home.
I took all the same classes I would have anywhere else, if not more.
I participated in sports year round, playing for GRB and club teams.
I made new friends, if not more as a result of a higher class number.
I had some really good teachers that I continue to have connections with.
I aced every Regent’s test, despite the weight that they put on you all year long.
I worked hard; I graduated at the top of my class and got into every college I applied to because of GRB.
Fulton was the best thing that ever happened to me.
Unfortunately, I said goodbye to Fulton half way through my senior year after my father passed away and my high school diploma does not read G. Ray Bodley High School.
I will always be saddened by this.
Fast forward to six years later: I’ve moved to multiple places in the North Country, to North Carolina, back to Syracuse and then in Liverpool with my husband, also a Fulton native, Mike Bleau.
If you’re from Fulton, you might know the name Bleau by Mike’s father, the State-Champion Fulton Wrestling Coach: Wayne Bleau.
Ironically, three weeks after moving back “home” from North Carolina in 2014, I met Mike for the first time at the Tavern on the Lock in Fulton one day while meeting friends.
We were both visiting Fulton that night.
Wayne was of course the “wing-man” making sure that Mike was able to sit next to me.
In the beginning of our relationship, we had discussed moving south.
I knew I loved it, and thought maybe he would too.
What’s not to love? Warmth, more jobs, and a better cost of living – you just can’t go wrong!
We quickly ruled that out as we learned the importance of family, and realized that our security and stability we had built here wasn’t worth risking.
Last spring after getting newly engaged, Mike and I began discussing moving closer to his job as a result of about an hour-long commute.
He works at Nine Mile and Liverpool was just getting to be too far, especially in these winters.
Luckily, moving was my specialty. I don’t mean that because I’ve got a record of more than 20 addresses in the past 24 years, but because I’m a licensed real estate agent.
Finding a place to move is one of my many specialties.
We looked in multiple surrounding areas of Nine Mile: Pulaski, Mexico, Baldwinsville – ruling out Fulton because we felt there could be better options for us.
One day, after scanning the internet for the perfect home, I found it – “the one.”
But was it too good to be true?
The price was right, the build was right, it hit everything on my checklist, except one thing: the location.
It was in Volney. I sat there, pondering how I could talk my soon-to-be-husband into moving back home after buying his first house in Liverpool – a community with what seemed to have many more options for people our age.
However, I saw no downfall. It was my dream house, and Fulton did not steer me away.
After seeing the house the first time, he immediately surrendered his hesitations.
We were moving back to Fulton, no ifs, ands or buts about it. One day as we were in the midst of the buying process, we stopped into the Tavern on the Lock for a bite to eat as we enjoy doing, and ran into some of our previous teachers from GRB.
We told them that we were moving back to Fulton, and they expressed something to us that I will never forget: “Thank you. We need more young people like you coming back to Fulton. We need more successful, driven alumni to believe in our community to get it back to where it used to be. We need your children to come to our schools and be the leaders like you were. Thank you for coming home.”
We bought our house in foreclosure almost $100,000 under the assessed value.
We underwent multiple renovations from Day 1, maintaining its beauty and believing in its potential, and will continue to invest in our home for years to come.
We walked into this house and pictured our future children growing up here, our friends and family sharing memories, hosting holidays – isn’t that what everyone hopes for in their pursuit of a dream house?
Not only did we say yes to moving back to Fulton, despite its challenging economy, its lower priced and slower-moving real estate market, its low rank in the educational system, and its lack of value to outside industries, we said yes to our future in Fulton.
Our children will attend these schools, we will continue to pay our taxes, we will support the local businesses that work so hard to stay afloat in hard times.
Of all the places in the world we could have gone, we chose to be the epitome of the saying “all roads lead to home.”
Today I work in the school system as both an educator and a coach, and am devoted to for years to come, in addition to practicing real estate in hopes to help revitalize our neighborhoods.
Mike continues to work at Nine Mile, a company in which we’ve decided to invest our future in.
We love Fulton and this community, and we trust in it.
We can only hope to be a catalyst in this very critical message to those who may not believe in our community, to believe in it again.
– Alyssa Moroz Bleau