The stars helped brighten the sky as work continued recently on the Stamps’ new home.

In lieu of a post about my normal fare of articles about NY personal injury laws, I thought in these turbulent times, a nice, off-topic, feel-good post might be appreciated.

My wife and I raised three great kids on the shore of Seneca Lake, and we’ve built some deep roots in Schuyler County. We feel so lucky to live in a warm, close-knit community where folks come together for hard work – and the joy of celebrating their hard work.

Ben and Chelsea Stamp celebrate their “topping off” ceremony as the frame of their new home is completed.

Recently, I’ve been helping our friends Ben and Chelsea Stamp erect their beautiful timber frame home on a hillside overlooking Seneca Lake. Ben, assistant winemaker at Lakewood Vineyards, and his wife Chelsea, an accountant at Schuyler Hospital, are great young folks in their early 30s investing tons of sweat equity in their project, doing a huge amount of the work themselves with the help of their friends and family in the area.

There are many others helping, too, including Ben’s Dad, Chris, the winemaker at Lakewood; Ben’s uncle, Mike Stamp, an insurance agent at E.C. Cooper Insurance Agency; Chelsea’s parents, Margaret “Peggy” and John Socha, former owners of the Showboat Motel; Gavin Reed of Chicone Cabinetmakers (and my son!), Bradley Gillett, owner and brewer at Seneca Lake Brewing Co., and Clay and Lauren Hemminger of Hemdale Farms in Seneca Castle.

There have been very many long, hot days and lots of hard physical work, but no one has complained. Backs have ached, people have been sunburned and some have shed a little blood – and still no complaints.

Some great Schuyler folks come together to help Ben and Chelsea Stamp.

For every gallon of sweat we shed, we balance it with gallons of water … and an occasional bottle of beer or glass of wine.

Once all the prep work was completed, it was time for the installation of the gorgeous timber frame, which was expertly cut and erected by Greg and Kayle Sickler, the great folks from Settlement Post and Beam in Sylvania, PA.

All of the hard work by this huge group of helpers culminated recently in a traditional “topping off” celebration with Ben and Chelsea attaching a white pine bough to the peak of the frame. Topping off celebrations have long been a tradition with timber frame builders, often as the last of the beams are placed atop a new structure to mark the completion of a frame.

It was an unforgettable night. The stars brightened the sky and twinkling lights shared the evening with the local bounty: Lakewood wines, Beerocracy beer, and local vegetables. Great people with many different backgrounds, coming together to help a friend, family member or neighbor.

It was my latest reminder that I live among some great folks in Schuyler County, and we can accomplish anything when we work – and have fun – together.

Thank you for reading,


Jim Reed
Managing Partner
Best Lawyers’ “2015 & 2017 & 2019 Lawyer of the Year”

NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
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