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Longtime Reporter Jack LaDuke Retires - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Longtime Reporter Jack LaDuke Retires

Jack LaDuke Jack LaDuke

Plattsburgh, New York - December 31, 2008

This is a sad day at Channel 3; we're saying goodbye to an old friend. Jack LaDuke is retiring after 40 years of working for Channel 3; first as a free-lancer, and then for nearly 20 years as our New York bureau chief.

Last summer, he reflected on how it used to be.

"Well I really started doing material for Channel 3... oh, about 40 years go," Jack said. "And back then a good portion of it was silent. We had one sound camera and the rest of it was shot on 16 mm film; Bolex cameras, Bell and Howell cameras, and the narration went over the picture."

To Jack, picture was paramount-- be it still picture, 16 mm film, or more recently video. He went everywhere to cover all sorts of stories, often looking for that odd angle that made his story stand out.

From asbestos to agriculture... city hall to the Clinton campaign... from crime to call boxes... he covered everything in three counties.

His work in the 1970s on our magazine program Dimension helped win us an EMMY. Jack plowed through snow as deep as the horses did to get the pictures.

There were two exceptional stories in the North Country over the past 40 years. The first was the Winter Olympics of 1980. Jack was the audio-visual director of that effort and took many of the pictures. He hired dozens of photographers to put together a nightly film for worldwide broadcast of the events.

"The 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid turned out to be one of the most controversial Olympics that have been held in recent memory, because right away the press said it's too small a town to hold them in; they can't do it. And as it turned out they did do it. Did a very good job of it and more Olympic records were broken during the 1980 winter Olympics than any Olympics up until Lillehammer," Jack recalled.

The other major event was the closing of the Plattsburgh Air Force Base. It had been the single biggest employer in the North Country and the biggest SAC base in the world; home to B-1 bombers, KC 135 tankers and nuclear weapons. Thousands of good paying jobs all gone in a Pentagon cost cutting move in 1995.

"Well... over the years I think the biggest shock that came to the community was the closing of the Plattsburgh Air Force Base," Jack said. "They didn't expect it... they had had it for 40 years. It was an integral part of the community both economically and personally. The relationship with the Air Force and the community were unprecedented."

But it was his relationship with the region-- his appreciation for the Adirondacks which endeared Jack to the audience. His images, his style; he was often up before dawn looking for just the right picture-- Noelle the news hound on top of Whiteface. We all wept when Noelle died and cheered the arrival of Kirsty ... one of four rescue dogs over the years that have accompanied Jack almost everywhere on his rounds... sometimes wondering why they were there.

Jack has always been interested in the history of this region, rich in reenactments of the battles of our early years. He brought those stories to life-- a task he has done so well and so long.

"Well you just keep your eye out for the story. Wherever the story is, you go and Channel 3 has had that philosophy, thank God, for years," Jack said. "They never tell you what to do. They leave it up to you to keep your ears open and find out what THE story is and do that story."

Though he and his wife Marina like to travel, Jack will stay in his native North Country, still pursuing stories, working occasionally for Mountain Lake Public Television.

We will miss him a lot and wish all of them the best of luck.

Jack, Marina and Dixie-- the latest news hound-- it won't be the same without you.

Marselis Parsons - WCAX News

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