Don Meissner and Linda McQuinn on Wednesday show the Massena Town Council the display that they use to market the town at fishing shows around the U.S. and Canada. North Country Now photo by Andy Gardner.
By ANDY GARDNER
MASSENA -- Apparently satisfied with a professional fisherman’s efforts to market Massena at sporting conventions around the United States and Canada, Town Council members say they want to take “the next step” toward rebranding the former manufacturing community as a fishing tourism spot.
Following an executive session to discuss the town’s contract with renowned local angler Don Meissner, the board voted unanimously to pay him $25,000 to continue marketing the town for the next year. That's a $2,500 increase from his previous contract.
"He didn't ask for more. We're going to demand a little bit more. And we talked about the need for us to work collectively with more of a bigger picture idea," Town Supervisor Joseph Gray said the day after the meeting. "What's the next step? How to we pull this whole thing together. We're going to reach out to the chamber, members of the community."
Messier travels to large sportsman conventions and sets up a booth advertising the local waters. It features brochures, maps and videos of him catching most species of local fish. So if someone says they like to catch walleye, he can show a video of him reeling in walleye on the St. Lawrence River.
“They can see the size of the walleyes, how big they are, you can even stand on shore and catch walleyes. We have talked to thousands of people about Massena,” Meissner told the Town Council on Wednesday.
Meissner has taken the display to shows in Batavia, Philadelphia, Foxboro, Mass., New York City, Montreal and Ottawa.
Now that that piece is in place, town lawmakers say they need to engage local businesses and invest more to draw in the clientele.
Councilman Tom Miller said there is a plan in the works to expand the Massena Intake boat launch and the surrounding park.
“We’re trying to redevelop the Intake and put six new boat launches in and 25 slips … a couple new pavilions” with boat washing stations, etc., Miller said at the meeting. “I think it’s crucial we keep Don as the ambassador … but we have to take the next step. We have to keep in onboard.”
Town Supervisor Joseph Gray said he believes an entrepreneur could start a business putting together fishing packages, but the local business scene is lacking some services essential to that, such as boat rentals and the type of lodging traveling anglers tend to look for.
“There not a lot of the type of lodging we need for fishing. I believe somebody could create a business and a job for themselves just by putting together packages for fishermen and women,” Gray said. “We need to work more closely with the chamber. I believe we need to be more selective and maybe do fewer shows next year and refocus our efforts.”
The board on Wednesday also voted unanimously to pay $1,700 to H3 Designs for a Massena fishing website. That’s the second half of a $3,400 stipend. The site is live but not complete, Gray said. It is at