About James Odato

In a career rooted in watchdog reporting, Explorer editor James M. Odato has been cited as one of New York’s top journalists covering state government, gambling, and abuse and waste of public money. He has written thousands of articles, his byline has appeared in numerous national publications and his investigative stories have spurred reforms. As a staff reporter for five daily newspapers, including the Albany Times Union and Buffalo News, Odato has received more than 30 awards from the Associated Press, New York Publishers Association, the New York Legislative Correspondents Association and other media organizations. In 2007, Investigative Reporters and Editors recognized his reporting with the Freedom of Information Award Medal. In October 2021, the University of Massachusetts Press released his book, This Brain Had a Mouth, Lucy Gwin and the Voice of Disability Nation.

Reader Interactions


  1. John Sullivan says

    Very good opportunity for the community. Use the Sagamore as an example. This must be monitored and controlled very closely by a demanding Planning Board. Infrastructure and emergency services improvements and other offsite benefits should be tied to approvals. Don’t be shy. There is huge profit involved

  2. John Joseph says

    It sounds like it’s a good thing for Schroon Lake. No offense, but the Word of Life along with other religious mega-churches have been using the tax exempt status for decades to make millions. The WOL pays their employees next to nothing but raked in over $1500 a week on some of those cabins. It’s about time there was a change in the town and now maybe something can be done with their little empire in Pottersville. I understand they donate money, but if you look up what WOL is worth, it’s a heck of a lot of money.

    • Frederick Fink says

      You need to understand the difference between operating revenues and expenses versus residual assets when an organization or entity goes out of business. Same about religious ministries and the taxation rules that govern their operations.

  3. Allen says

    About time these not for profits get these properties back on the tax rolls.
    1,000 visitors walking the town streets and patronizing merchants will turn the towns finances around.
    So depressing now that there are closed shops.

  4. Schrooner says

    Here’s what stinks: Subra, the Schroon Lake Supervisor and a
    WOL-er refuses to disclose in this article, who the developer is. In reality, the developer is a condo-developer whose wife and VP of his construction company recently opened a real estate office in – of all places- Schroon Lake, and hires – of all people- Subra’s wife. Why would Subra not disclose this? Is there a conflict of interest? How about when Bonnacio needs a few variances and other town favors? As an elected official, shouldn’t Subra’s sworn loyalty be to the citizens whom he serves, rather than a developer out of Saratoga who gave his wife a lucrative job? Shouldn’t what’s best for the community of Schroon Lake come before what’s best for Subra’s employer? Sketchy, shady…take your pick.

    • Barbara Cassier says

      The developer and his wife are wonderful people and they will make this a fabulous resort open to all

  5. derek says

    I live a long ways from Schroon Lake and have journeyed there for many years because of WOL. Tough to see this go with many family memories and beautiful experiences. It’s interesting that as I’ve inquired while we have been there, most folks don’t even fully understand what WOL is. It is not a church nor a denomination. It is simply a fellowship that had a dream. Imagine wanting to send missionaries out of a campground in NY just to tell the story of God sending His only son because of Love. While on a trip to Bolivia with another organization, we came across the WOL camps and it was incredible. They tell the story thru camping themes across the world.

    • Ann says

      I spent my childhood thru teenage years as a camper and staff. Even had the call to be a nurse on The Inn (Lodge) campus. It’s sad for me to hear negative remarks from some I suppose locals. It helped shape my life and the lives of many others. Many wonderful blessings from this ministry

    • Anne Cox says

      Absolutely a wonderful place in the Adirondacks to spend a week revived around God’s Word. It’s forever written on our hearts, a retreat for the weary. Our boys at the Island, young one at Ranch and Bible teachers at their best. Word of Life is not over it’s just changed with the times. God Bless You Word of Life. May You Prosper. Paul & Anne Cox

  6. John Novak says

    Good the Calvinist nazi sold their prison camp
    I was told if you stayed on their grounds on a Sunday
    You were required to attend their Calvinist services
    I am a Lutheran and do not agree with Calvinism

    • Fred Vanley says


      I do not ever recall hearing Calvinism being taught. Attendence was not required, but if you went there for the Biblical teaching, you would desire to be present.

      WOL has a great place in my life and it molded me for my 47 years of Christian service…..as a Baptist.

      Nazi is a very strong and misguided term for a God focused organization.

      p.s. you where told WRONG!

      • Lenny Seidel says

        I totally agree with your statements. I accepted Christ as my Saviour in July of 1952, led to the Lord by my counseler and worked on staff at the Island and Inn 1953-1955. In fact, I along with another staffer wired the fire alarm system at the Inn during the summer of 1954. As a musician both classical and sacred I performed many times at WOL between 1977-2002. I
        My greatest experience as a teenager was the privilege of hearing one of the greatest expositors of the Bible, Dr. Charles J. Woodbridge among other gifted teachers. Mr. Novak’s characteristic of Dr. Jack Wyrtzen and those who followed in leadership is way off base. At 83, I still teach and perform at that piano. To God be the Glory.

  7. Diane says

    It is April 27th 2022 and I just discovered that WOL was being sold. No update of WOL’s now status.

    I went to WOL for about 10 years to their Women’s Retreats. It was a beautiful weekend that started on a Friday night and ended on Sunday after a Sunday Service and worship. We had breakfast afterwards and went home always looking forward to the next time we could come back.

    The retreat featured a main bible theme.

    We had dinner Friday night and a meeting where the guest singer lead in worship followed by a guest speaker with a presentation to get the conference rolling.

    Saturday morning started with breakfast, a morning meeting with worship and meeting. Lunch and workshops that presented different topics of interest. Time off to enjoy the surrounding area and fellowship with others. Saturday night there was supper, and a concert featuring the guest singer with worship. Followed with ice cream sundaes and time to enjoy the pool.

    Sunday morning started out with breakfast, followed by a Sunday Service with worship lead by the guest singer and a final message from the guest speaker. Lunch and then we had to leave for home.

    It was a very enjoyable weekend. The facilities offered top shelf food and accommodations.

    I am very glad I got to attend these retreats and disappointed that as many things in life also come to an end.

  8. Al Hanson says

    WOL was never a church nor a denomination; it welcomed people of all faiths. To characterize it as a “Nazi, Calvinist, prison camp, or mega-church” supposedly raking in millions is false.

  9. David Lewis says

    I enjoyed WOL’s youth programs back in the 1960s and met my wife there in 1975. We enjoyed 46 years of marriage and I lost her to heart failure last fall.

    Word of Life was a great ministry but the last few years weren’t kind to it. The ministry always seemed to run on the financial edge without a lot of cash reserves and the Covid shut down did the old WOL property in. The photos of the main Inn property show a physical plant that was in desperate need of heavy duty repairs and I hope that the new owners will be able to restore the buildings to their former glory.

    People do evangelism and church differently than seventy five years ago. In the case of my good friends at WOL – who did great things for this rowdy Jersey boy many years ago – it was probably time for a change. Nothing lasts forever.

  10. Howard says

    I drove a school bus to wok with thirteen youth to the island and stayed on the island with them I brought my these youth from Dr Shiede. Faith Baptist Church in N J. At this time my daughter received the Lord and I was involved in the play about Cory Ten Boom. I also drove these same children to Snow Camp. Over New Years Eve. The children at my church are already enrolled for camp this year.

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