Saranac Lake planning board members picked

SARANAC LAKE – The village Board of Trustees has approved Mayor Clyde Rabideau’s appointment of two new members to the village planning board.

Patricia Hilling will replace Todd Smith, who recently resigned from the board. Jeannine Pratt will fill an alternate seat on the board, used most often when a quorum of board members isn’t available for a meeting.

Hilling has lived in Saranac Lake since 1970, except for a four-year period when she lived in Minnesota.

“All three of my children grew up in Saranac Lake, and I have always considered this to be a great place to have a family,” Hilling wrote in an email. “I have a sincere interest in our community, its unique history, and its historical buildings. I want Saranac Lake to be the best that it can be and I would like to help make that happen.”

Hilling is a North Country Community College graduate. She worked as the office manager in the William A. Sweeney CPA office. She currently owns and operates, with her husband, the Mountain Shadows Bed and Breakfast on Old Military Road.

Hilling has served on the village Zoning Board of Appeals and as a board member and treasurer of Historic Saranac Lake. In the past, she’s also volunteered or been involved with the First Presbyterian Church, the Lake Placid Garden Club, the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, the Women’s College Scholarship Club and the Franklin County chapter of the American Cancer Society. She has also been a member of the Adirondack Singers and the First Presbyterian Church choir.

Jeannine (Swinyer) Pratt moved back to Saranac Lake about two-and-a-half years ago after completing a 26-year career in the U.S. Air Force. At the time she retired, she was working as a senior recruiter in north Texas and had achieved the rank of senior master sergeant.

“When I moved back here, I went to a few of the board meetings for, like, the comprehensive plan,” Pratt said. “I read that document numerous times because I’m very interested in bettering our community. A lot of the reasons I had to leave when I was 17 still exist. There’s a lot of disparity of, like, affordable housing and the lack of employment. I just want to try and make a difference.”

Pratt said her family, the Swinyers, have roots in the area that go back more than a century. Although she was born in Queens, she visited the area often and moved to Saranac Lake when she was 14, graduating from Saranac Lake High School in 1981.

Pratt is currently pursuing a human services degree at North Country Community College. She eventually plans to get her master’s degree in social work.

Pratt said she applied for a seat on the planning board after reading in the Enterprise that the village was looking for candidates to fill the two vacancies.

“There’s a lot of really dedicated people in the community,” Pratt said. “I think, with my 26 years in the Air Force, I have a lot to offer. I’ve been to many different communities, so I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t work.”

Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or