Few faced more adversity than Central New York teachers during the pandemic. Despite ever changing curriculum guidelines and switching from virtual to in person classes on moments notice, they showed up every day to teach and motivate our children. It’s time we let them know how much they are appreciated.

Big Frog 104 and the Hampton Inn at Turning Stone are saluting the teachers, professors, and instructors who made a difference. Maybe they went the extra mile in helping navigate virtual classes, took some extra time to assist with a difficult subject, or spent their own time working one on one with students.

Tell us who you saw make a difference this past school year, and we’ll share the  story with  all of CNY through our mobile app, Facebook page and online at Big Frog 104.com. Give us the details in the form below and we’ll even choose one teacher to win a two night staycation at the area's newest hotel, the Hampton Inn at Turning Stone.

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12 Year Old Ilion Boy Juggles School and a Bait Shop Business with 20 Locations

Blake's Baits

While most of us are trying to grind our way through a 40 hour work week, a 12-year-old young man in Ilion is juggling school and a bait shop with twenty locations. Meet Blake Seymour of Blake's Baits.

Blake has been an avid fisherman since the age of four. Him and his dad, Tom Seymour, usually wetted a line three times a week or more. When Blake was about 10, they had more worms than they needed and he asked to setup a stand in the yard and sell them. Dad said sure, thinking it was just a young boys whimsy.

I thought, he'll lose interest in about two weeks.

Here we are two years later, the front yard stand is now a full fledged bait and tackle shop in their garage. Plus, Blake has 20 other locations selling his bait. Blake raises his own night crawlers; feeding them corn meal, newspaper, and the rinds of cantaloupe. As business has boomed, he started adding all kinds of minnows, salted ones, shiners, and fat heads. Of course, bait selection changes with the season. In the winter, he carries suckers, rosies, shiners, and leeches for ice fishing.

How does a 12-year-old juggle the school commitment and fast-growing business? He and Dad have the week planned ahead of time. On Wednesdays Blake has virtual school usually lasting for only an hour. The rest of the day is spent making deliveries to the vendors stretching from Cooperstown to Kayuta Lake. Valley locations selling Blake's Baits in Ilion, Frankfort, and Mohawk are visited on a daily basis. Tuesday nights are reserved for perhaps the most important part of the week; the father and son duo go fishing.

In addition to bait, the home shop at 359 Otsego Street in Ilion carries a complete line of tackle from artificial baits to rods, reels, and tackle boxes. Hours vary day to day and will increase when the school year ends. Keep up to date on the hours and Blake's growing number of locations at Blake's Baits on Facebook.

Blake's entrepreneurship hasn't gone unnoticed. The Chamber of Commerce has proclaimed July 1 as Blake Seymour Day in Ilion, and Herkimer County honors him with a day on July 2. He has even received a citation from State Assembly.

As the saying goes, "Do what you love, and you'll never work a day in your life." I think someone must have asked Blake, are you going to fish or cut bait, and he replied both. Check out some pics from Blake's Bait shop below.

Ilion Boy Starts Bait Shop, Now Has 20 Locations

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