GOUVERNEUR A retired Army sergeant who works as a contractor at Fort Drum soon will open a scuba shop downtown where he also will teach others how to dive.
Deep Down Divers might open by mid-January in 70 E. Main St., a storefront next to Jumbos.
Christopher M. Letham said he soon will start painting the walls and ordering Scuba Pro equipment. The village Planning Board approved his plans Thursday night.
Mr. Letham is certified through the Professional Association of Diving Instructors and is considering taking a class in teaching scuba diving for the handicapped.
I may try to get that done before I open the shop, he said. Right now, its going to be just me starting out.
Mr. Letham, who was raised around Syracuse, retired in 2010 as a sergeant first class after 23 years in the Army. He works as a contractor teaching robotics at the 10th Mountain IED Defeat Center. Mr. Letham, who lives in Macomb, said it was easier for him to open a shop in Gouverneur, where rents are less, than in Watertown so he could spend his days working at Fort Drum and still be close to home when his evenings teaching diving came to an end.
The shop will be open from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. or later on Saturday. Mr. Letham can be reached at 383-2528.
He plans a five-session classroom course and hopes to arrange water time at the Gouverneur Central School pool or at Fort Drum.
He will provide both instruction and basic equipment as a package for $600 to $800.
Although there are dive shops in Watertown and Ogdensburg, Mr. Letham said, there is room for more, especially when it comes to instruction.
The Thousand Islands is one of the best areas for scuba diving, he said. If you leave from Alexandria Bay or Clayton, you can be on top of a wreck in five or 10 minutes.