Thousand Islands dock named port of entry, seeks cruise ships

The following is the text of a press release issued by the Village of Clayton, N.Y.:
(CLAYTON, N.Y.) — The Village of Clayton has announced the resurrection of the Thousand Islands Regional Dock Committee in an effort to bring attention to the newly certified 105c Port of Entry status, which was recently obtained.
“The village and community have a wonderful asset in the Thousand Islands Regional Dock, which we hope to capitalize on by drawing more yachts, tall ships and hopefully in the near future we can welcome cruise ships,” said Clayton Mayor Norma Zimmer. “With the approval from the US Coast Guard to accept cruise ships, we will now begin to promote the dock heavily throughout the industry.”
The current make up of the Thousand Islands Regional Dock Committee will consist of seven individuals with a wide array of backgrounds and influences, each of which will help contribute to the success of the Regional Dock.
Serving on the committee will be:
Allen Benas, of Clayton, has been the owner of the historic Thousand Islands Inn since 1973. In addition, he founded 1000 Islands Fishing Charters in 1978. Benas has been an active community member, serving on the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors since 1973, acting as Chamber President over the course of 13 years, while also playing a vital role on several Village of Clayton committees and numerous fishing guide boards. Benas was also an original member of the dock committee.
Chris Bogenschutz, of Clayton, is owner of Riverside Media Group, specializing in graphic and web design, marketing consulting and advertising sales. Bogenschutz is currently the President of the Clayton Chamber of Commerce, as well as a member of the Clayton Local Development Corporation Board of Directors.
Cary Brick, of Clayton, retired in 2000 after a 31-year career as a senior staff member of the US House of Representatives. He has held an active role in the community serving as Chair of the Clayton Heritage Alliance, as well as being a member of the Board of Directors of the Thousand Islands Foundation and the Clayton Local Development Corporation. In addition, Brick has acted as Commissioner of the Town of Clayton Fire District, served for several years as Clayton’s acting Village Justice and continues to perform marriages throughout the TI region. He is also a professor of history and government and a freelance writer. Brick was also an original member of the dock committee.
Michael Folsom, a summer resident of Clayton, is operator of the St. Lawrence River website, The Ship Watcher ( and creator/organizer of Clayton’s newest summertime event based at the Regional Dock, Sailing Seaway Clayton. This fall, Folsom was responsible for the creation and design of the new Thousand Islands Regional Dock logo and brand markings. In addition, his writing and photograph work has been found in a large array of outlets such as the Thousand Islands Sun, Thousand Islands Life and Know Your Ships. Earlier this year, Folsom was honored by the Lynx Educational Foundation, operators of tall ship Lynx, with the •Spirit of Excellence’ award, following the ship’s visit to Clayton. Folsom has spent the past 14 years working for the Syracuse Crunch Hockey Club in various roles including sales and marketing. He has also served on the Syracuse Sports Corporation Board of Directors since 2000 and is currently an At-Large member of the Executive Committee.

John “Jack” Stopper, of Clayton, is a local real estate agent and business owner (Weather Stopper Self Storage, Weather Stopper Custom Marine Canvas and a local U-Haul dealership). He serves as an advisor to the Clayton Local Development Corporation and is a trustee of the Antique Boat Museum. Stopper was also an original member of the dock committee.

Justin Taylor, of Clayton, is currently serving in his fifth year as the Clayton Town Supervisor. During his time as Supervisor, Taylor has led the efforts and clean up of the Frink America property adjacent to the Thousand Islands Regional Dock, as well as the development of the Riverwalk. His work has also helped to secure nearly $2 million in grants for the Clayton community to ensure continued growth for the area. Taylor has held an active role throughout the Clayton community over the years including being the Treasurer of the Clayton Local Development Corporation, serving on the Town Board for 17 years, 37 years as a member of the Clayton Fire Department and retiring as Superintendent after 35 years with the New York State Department of Corrections. He was also a member of the original dock committee.
Dr. Richard “Dick” Withington, of Round Island/Clayton, is a former orthopedic physician who is known in the area for residing on Round Island year-round. He has served more than 30 years with the Clayton Fire Department and Jefferson County EMS. In addition, Withington is a licensed merchant mariner, as well as a relief captain for the Clayton Fireboat, Abaco Marine Towing, RJ Marine and Antique Boat Museum. He also serves as Vice-Chairman of the Area Maritime Security Committee of the upper St. Lawrence River.
The Thousand Islands Regional Dock Committee will meet over the course of the winter to begin organizing their efforts in promoting the dock, its capabilities and the Clayton community. Earlier this week, The Great Lakes Mariner magazine featured the dock and Clayton with an 8-page spread, paving the way for future publications to acknowledge what the Clayton community has to offer to large vessels transiting the St. Lawrence River.
In addition to the announcement of the dock committee, it was also announced today that the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation’s tugs Robinson Bay and Performance will dock in Clayton late next week as they work to remove channel markers in the region for the winter months. Channel markers will then be placed on the Thousand Islands Regional Dock until the opening of the Seaway next spring.
The 386-foot long dock sits along the shore of the St. Lawrence River with more than 25-feet of water just off its edge, allowing for large vessels to dock. Clayton has become a destination for large vessels after work done by Aubertine & Currier (Watertown, NY) and M.A. Bongiovanni (Syracuse, NY) in 2006, which helped to strengthen the integrity of the dock space. Multiple yachts, tall ships and tugboats have landed dockside over the years, including recent visits by Battered Bull (171-foot yacht), Lynx (122-foot tall ship) and Commodore Straits (a 140-foot ocean-going tugboat which grounded its barges in the American Narrows in October 2010 and needed dock space to tie-up before continuing on its route).

The Thousand Islands Regional Dock is conveniently located at Frink Park along Riverside Drive in downtown Clayton.
For more information on the Thousand Islands Regional Dock, contact the Village of Clayton at 686-5552 or visit
By Professional Mariner Staff