Lake George Village mayor retires after 52 years in office

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It was the end of an era in the Village of Lake George on Wednesday. Mayor Bob Blais, 86, said goodbye to the position he’s held for 52 years, since April 1971.

Back then, Richard Nixon was president and The Temptations’ “Just My Imagination” was the number 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100. In fact, Blais is the longest serving mayor in the country.

All the major accomplishments around the village have his fingerprints on them, including Americade, lake protection, a lakefront walkway. If it promotes and improves Lake George, Blais has been its biggest backer. He credits teamwork for helping to pull off every single project.

Part of Blais’ last day in office included a surprise visit from Sayuti Sulemana, a man who came to Lake George from Ghana on a student visa in 2008. He cleaned bathrooms for the village, but Sulemana said Mayor Blais and his kindness had a profound impact on him.

Blais would stay in touch with Sulemana as he became a diplomat for his country.

Sulemana said to honor Blais, a new school being built in Ghana will be named Robert “Bob” Blais Elementary.

The mayor didn’t want a big public sendoff, but he was honored Wednesday by Disabled Veterans, and earlier this month by the county for all of his contributions.

He’s not comfortable being the center of attention, he told NewsChannel 13, and has often relied on humor to defuse tense situations.

When it came time to leave, NewsChannel 13’s Mark Mulholland offered to carry his box of stuff and Blais said goodbyes to village staff.

“I am most proud of the fact that it’s been 52 years, working for any employer. Here, the people of the village of Lake George. One of the greatest places in the world,” said Blais.