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Old 07-18-2007, 11:08 AM
 
7 posts, read 62,598 times
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Hello, me and my family will be relocating to Fort Drum sometime around Feb/Mar. If looking for information on Ft.Drum. How are the jobs, is it safe, is there a good support system for the wives while husbands are deployed, and most of all how are the schools for children; perferably elementary? Any information would be great. My husband will have 30 days to get us seattled in and then he is off to Iraq. Again, any informatiohn about watertown and the base would be great appreciated.
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Old 07-18-2007, 03:11 PM
 
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Default Ft. Drum support

My son was stationed at Ft. Drum for three years, with two deployments to Iraq. His wife seemed to have a good support system and I know they have a lot available for the children. God Bless your husband and thank you both for your sacrifices.
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Old 07-18-2007, 03:24 PM
 
Location: Tioga County
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You might want to do searches on ...Ft. Drum...Watertown. I did pass alomg some info on the area to some other transfer-ins. Watertown is a decent area, rental housing within 20 or so miles of the base can be a little tough to find. Don't know what you're interests are, but theres a lot of Outdoor-type stuff to do up around there. On base facilities saw a lot of upgrading in the 80's and beyond. Used to go up the w/the ARNG till 03'(retired).
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Old 07-18-2007, 09:17 PM
 
Location: NNY
31 posts, read 287,966 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WOMommy_36 View Post
Hello, me and my family will be relocating to Fort Drum sometime around Feb/Mar. If looking for information on Ft.Drum. How are the jobs, is it safe, is there a good support system for the wives while husbands are deployed, and most of all how are the schools for children; perferably elementary? Any information would be great. My husband will have 30 days to get us seattled in and then he is off to Iraq. Again, any informatiohn about watertown and the base would be great appreciated.
We just moved here to Watertown 2 weeks ago. My husband is active duty and is now stationed at Drum. I will be happy to give you any information I can. I would also be happy to discuss any information in private via the PM system (if that would be better).

The housing situation will definately depend on rank. They are building new quarters for enlisted and field grade, but not for company grade. I know that field grade is getting on-post within a matter of a month or two. As of right now, it is about an 18-24 month wait for company grade housing. I am not 100% sure about enlisted, however I did meet a few enlisted at the Fort Drum Inn (guest house) and their families were actually moving "home" because the wait for housing was longer than they could all afford to stay in the guest house. I am not trying to scare you, but I just wanted to help you be prepared for it. Since you are moving during the "off-peak" PCS time, you may have better luck getting on-post if your husband is enlisted or field grade.

I came up to NY to scout out the housing market about 5 weeks before we actually planned to arrive. That is when I found our house and put in an offer. We bought in Watertown but it is in the township of LeRay.

The school topic is a heated one here. That will also depend on the grade of your child/ren. From everything I have heard since we have been here, the Watertown elementary schools are great, but the jr. high and high school are having issues with students and have a lack of discipline. I have heard that Carthage schools are great from some friends, while others have said that they have their share of issues too. I have, however, heard only great things about General Brown schools. Indian River has the highest military population because of the children in housing and it also has its fair share of issues. HOWEVER... let me just say that no matter where your children go to school, the more a parent is involved with their child/ren and the schooling, the better education they will receive. That's why all of the discussion about "which school district is best" is really a difficult one and it will vary with each person that is asked.

So far, we are happy here. The weather is so mild compared to SE Alabama. The hottest it has been since we arrived on June 29th has been the mid-80's (I believe). It can get quite windy here, but so far I haven't noticed it being any kind of issue. (It isn't like it will blow you off the road or anything.)

The people we have run into have been very nice. The area is by far any kind of metropolis. But, from my understanding, Watertown is expanding. The shopping (at least for me) is good. (But of course, I have lived without a Target and with only one main restaurant for the last 3 years. LOL!) There are also lots of areas to see that are close by.

Thompson Park in Watertown (http://www.watertown-ny.gov/parks/prthompsonpark.html - broken link)

Sackets Harbor, NY - about 20 minutes away

Thousand Islands - about 40 minutes away

Alexandria Bay, NY - about 40 minutes away (broken link)

Boldt Castle in Alexandria Bay, NY

Syracuse, NY - about an hour away (also has an airport)

Hope this helps out in some way. Please don't hesitate to PM me or ask anything else. I am more than happy to share what I can.
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Old 07-18-2007, 09:30 PM
 
7 posts, read 62,598 times
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Default Great Information...

Hello, Thank you so much for your information. Sadly to say but I'm really not an outdoor kind of person. However, moving up there I guess I will have to get involved My husband is currently in Warrant school and we just came from Korea. I really loved it over there. Again thank you for your information and support.

God Bless!
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Old 07-18-2007, 09:47 PM
 
Location: NNY
31 posts, read 287,966 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WOMommy_36 View Post
Hello, Thank you so much for your information. Sadly to say but I'm really not an outdoor kind of person. However, moving up there I guess I will have to get involved My husband is currently in Warrant school and we just came from Korea. I really loved it over there. Again thank you for your information and support.

God Bless!
We just moved up here from Frot Rucker (where your hubby is right now). I am assuming that since you are moving here within the next 6 months (or so), that he will be a tech warrant. My husband is also a WO, but he is a pilot.

Since your hubby will be a WO1, I would strongly suggest doing two things: 1) call housing about 2 months out from your arrival to see if the waiting list for CO grade is still 18+ months, and 2) go to Jefferson-Lewis Board of REALTORS to check out the surrounding area for houses for sale. (Most common area is Jefferson County and the cites (not townships) would be Carthage, West Carthage, Black River, Evans Mills, Philadelphia, and Watertown.)

If you have never purchased a home, I can help tell you what is expected up here (since we JUST closed on this house 2 weeks ago). I also have a very good friend who is an agent here, has lived here for about 12 years and is also married to a WO, that could at least help you with more information. (No pressure to use her if you decide to buy).

Since you said you aren't really the outdoors type, let me just say that the one thing I have heard from several people is that the only way a person will not like Fort Drum is if they stay inside all year. Now, it doesn't mean you will love it, but as you probably know by now, each post is what you make of it.

-K.
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Old 07-19-2007, 08:09 PM
 
Location: NNY
31 posts, read 287,966 times
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I just wanted to add that our friends that arrived here a week before us were just given housing today! (He is a WO1.) That means they were able to get a 3 bedroom newly renovated house on-post in 3-1/2 weeks. (Had we known that, we would have pushed for housing instead of buying! But we had been told several times that we would have at least an 18 month wait.) So there is hope for on-post housing, if you are interested.
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Old 07-19-2007, 08:17 PM
 
7 posts, read 62,598 times
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Hello, It is so ironic that you mentioned housing because we are coming from G.A. and the army is not paying for our move. Therefore we will have to U-Haul all of our furniture up there and it was today a light bulb went off and said where are you going to put the furniture? So I guess I will call fort drum to see if we can get on a waiting list. Technically we are coming from Korea and we are just following my husband throughout his TDY. We really don't want to liv eoff post we are hoping to move on post. So keep us in your prayers. Thanks
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Old 07-19-2007, 08:32 PM
 
Location: NNY
31 posts, read 287,966 times
Reputation: 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by WOMommy_36 View Post
Hello, It is so ironic that you mentioned housing because we are coming from G.A. and the army is not paying for our move. Therefore we will have to U-Haul all of our furniture up there and it was today a light bulb went off and said where are you going to put the furniture? So I guess I will call fort drum to see if we can get on a waiting list. Technically we are coming from Korea and we are just following my husband throughout his TDY. We really don't want to liv eoff post we are hoping to move on post. So keep us in your prayers. Thanks
Since he was in Korea, HOPEFULLY y'all should get bumped to the top of the list. I hope it works out well for you and that the move goes smoothly.
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Old 07-26-2007, 11:31 AM
 
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Hey guys! I grew up in Evans Mills, NY, which is basically right outside the gate of Ft. Drum. My brother in law is IRR at the moment after having served in Kosovo and Iraq. I live in Chicago now, but I miss my old home a lot for it's charms. Hope I can clear up a few things for you...

By far the best school district in the area is Indian River. Not only are there excellent facilities, but there is a large population of military children, and the atmosphere for racial differences is far more welcoming and diverse than at Watertown or (to a lesser extent) Carthage. Also, Indian River has the best in-school services including an excellent english-as-second-language department, help for disadvantaged students, terrific parent-participation programs, and even a good security team to make sure no one raises hell in the high school. Many of the teachers at the elementary, middle, and hgh school levels are my direct relatives and close family friends, and they are extremely caring and open-minded individuals who welcome parental involvement and input.

Also, even for those who like to remain indoors, there are things to do. The arts and crafts community in upstate NY is a closely-guarded secret. If you like things like painting, sculpting, woodworking, photography, antique-furniture collecting, quilting or Rotary-style community events, there are plenty of groups and places to find these.

Also, the food and music aren't terrible either. The restaurant situation sort of sucks for the most part (mostly just chains like Ruby Tuesday's), but since there are lots of farms nearby the produce and groceries you get at the grocery stores are far superior to what you'd get in a city. Items in season like apples and strawberries will be better than anything you've had before unless you've lived on a farm yourself. The same is true for their meat and cheese selections, which are generally excellent. In that sense, most people choose to throw parties at their house rather than go out to eat because you can cook generally better food than you can buy. This is also a good way to pass the time during the winter if you're not a snow person.

If you enjoy beer, there is an excellent micro-brewery less than an hour away that makes terrific beers you can buy in the grocery store, and my favorite upstate NY tradition is always pizza and buffalo wings, which you will never find better in any other part of the country. You may have to travel to places like Potsdam or Syracuse to see good music, but they're less than an hour away and there are good venues for blues music, rock, country music, and stage muscials. Also, there are a number of musician groups that can easily be joined in the area for fun, particularly if you play bluegrass or country music.

If you like outdoor sports... let's just say the Fort Drum area is heaven. Inexpensive skiing, snow-boarding, hiking, fishing, boating, off-roading, four-wheeling, snowmobiling, ice-fishing, and pretty much any other outdoor activity you could imagine is done here. There is a nationally-ranked white-water rafting course that is fantastic. This area of NY is basically like a miniature version of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. Kind of a ***** to live in in the winter because of the heavy snowfall, but also potentially endless fun outdoors and really, really nice in the summertime.

Shopping can be hit or miss. Watertown has grown somewhat since I lived there, so there are the basic national-chain amenities, and a few great local places (there's a couple of excellent guitar stores, if you're into music). Fortunately, you're within an easy drive of Syracuse, which has more city-style shopping, and if you're adventurous, you can take a trip across the border into Canada for some extremely fine-dining in authentic French and French Bistro style restaurants in Ottawa and Montreal.

As far as living there with children goes, there are definately some fun places to take them. Westcott beach is less than an hour away, and has playgrounds, pavillions and a large beach on the clean and fun lake Ontario. If you've ever been to Lake Erie, you'll appreciate how well kept and un-polluted Ontario is. Also, within three hours drive there are at least two large water/theme parks with roller-coasters, kiddie rides, and so forth. Neither of these is as crowded as, say Great America outside of Chicago, so they're perfectly safe and fun to take children of all ages to. One thing you may find tricky is day-care, but given that there are many unemployed military wives in the area, some with children, you should look to network for the best results.

The people of upstate NY (the locals I mean, not the military folks), are generally hard-working and fun-loving, similar to people in New England. If you make any effort at all to make friends, you will generally get a lot of invitations to visit their homes, which I would recommend since the restaurant situation in Watertown isn't so hot. They tend to be rural-minded and pragmatic in a country sort of way, though they are generally better educated than their Midwest counterparts.

Upstate NY is also home to a large number of retired military families, and this is a process that has been taking place in the area for about 20 years, so the "townies" now include people who were born all over the world of every race and ethnicity. When I was young, and the base was relatively new, there were minor racial scuffles in the schools, but by the time I had graduated high school, these had almost completely disappeared. The local population is predominantly white and christian, but it's an unusual locale to live in because most of the children of townies who grow up there leave for the opportunity to succeed in cities or leave because they want to live somewhere warmer. Having watched their children leave that part of the state for several generations, the locals who remained have adopted a much softer and more welcoming stance toward racial and ethnic diversity, in the effort to keep their small towns from becoming "one-horse" farm towns. This sort of atmosphere where you have a significant amount of cultural diversity in a rural setting is pretty rare and unique in the US, and it makes upstate NY pretty special because of it.

I would be happy to answer any other questions you have about the Watertown area or the schools or pretty much anything else.

Last edited by vinniethevole; 07-26-2007 at 11:53 AM..
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