The Week: What Caught Our Eye

January 4, 2020

Landscape image of cloud-covered mountains with a lake in front of them.Who says you can’t wear white after Labor Day? Cleverdale on Lake George pulls it off with style. (Crown Focus Media)

SARATOGA STREAK: Three meteors were heading for Earth on December 29. Did one fireball crash into Saratoga County?

ITS OTHER NAME IS GLENS FALLS: For 75 years, Glens Falls has proudly celebrated its homey, sentimental legacy as Hometown, U.S.A., so christened by Look Magazine which in 1944 saw it as a national exemplar of a patriotic, industrious, optimistic community that embodied the values of service men and women returning from World War II. Now, a film made by Look and released in 1945 has surfaced on social media, revealing the charms — and some of the challenges — of Glens Falls at mid-century. It's narrated by Santos Ortega whose voice is redolent of “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

THE SWEET SPOT: For some kids, a hot lunch in school may be the one truly nutritious meal they get. Schools provide the lunches even when kids can’t afford them – and then have to keep track of what the kids owe. For one school in Saratoga County, the students’ lunch slates have been wiped clean – that’s the par-for-the-course generosity of golf great Dottie Pepper.

REMEMBERING JEAN ARTHUR: Jean Arthur suffered from anxiety, shunned publicity and developed a reputation in Hollywood as a mystery woman. Yet she is also remembered as the quintessential comedic leading lady of the big screen in the 1930s and ’40s and for her roles in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” “You Can’t Take It with You” and “The More the Merrier.” Now, her hometown of Plattsburgh has found a way to honor Miss Arthur and to claim her as their own.

Aerial image of first rays of sunrise over a highway and urban buildings in Albany, NYCulture, fitness, health care and cost of living attract retirees to Capital Region. (John Bulmer)

FLORIDA WORRIED? Warren Buffett is said to have said: “Most people get interested in stocks when everyone else is. The time to get interested is when no one else is. You can't buy what is popular and do well.” The media/political zeitgeist on New York State is its continuing population loss to warmer, lower-tax climes. Between 2018 and 2019, more than 75,000 people left; New York’s was the greatest loss of any state. But there’s a quiet counter-narrative taking shape: Some Capital Region communities are seeing greater numbers of healthy, well-to-do seniors staying, or even moving in, for all or part of the year. The web site Work and Money now ranks the Capital Region as one of the better places in the country to retire. And has just listed the Capital Region as third in the nation among places where buyers can get a really good deal on a nice home or a solid investment property.

A PLACE ON THE CAPE: This summer you could hole up at Woods Hole, on 10 acres with a main home, guesthouse, elaborate gardens, a 36-foot swimming pool, boathouse, wood-burning fireplace and a deep-water dock. It’s on the market and the sale could set a record for the most expensive on Cape Cod.

MARS HOTEL: If a Mars vacation seems just beyond reach, consider staying in a cabin made from materials that could be grown on Mars. It’s being built in the Hudson Valley, with a kitchen, sleeping loft, views of the Hudson River, and even a 3D-printed patio for your telescope.

PASS ON THE SALT: USA Today takes notice of The Fund for Lake George’s pioneering efforts to protect water quality by reducing salt on roads. The “Lake George region has gone high-tech, implementing best practices that others can model. Local towns now use “live edge” snowplows that conform to the shape of the road and can significantly reduce salt use. Salt trucks use GPS and special software to track routes and salt dispersal, increasing efficiency. Localized weather forecasts help anticipate needs so that trucks using a brine solution can pretreat roads and reduce overall salt use.’’

HEART OF RUTLAND: Newspapers are in trouble – that’s not news – but once in a while we run across something that restores our faith that small-town papers still have a place of value in the life of a community. Consider the 225-year-old Rutland Herald, which launched as a weekly when George Washington was President 11 years after the end of the Revolutionary War and is still chronicling what’s important to Rutland. (For context, The New York Times is a mere 168 years old.)

RADICAL WEST WINGERS: “The West Wing,’’ Aaron Sorkin’s fast-talking, Clinton-era White House drama starring Martin Sheen as the uber-wise President Bartlett, went off their air 14 years ago but viewers are still tuning in to reruns on Netflix for comfort in a turbulent time.

ROME RISES: The U.S. Air Force’s biggest bombers once took off and landed in Central New York. The region has a long history in air defense and in the manufacture of defense electronics and radar. Now, the Wall Street Journal’s Jimmy Vielkind reports, it’s an emerging center of drone research, testing new uses and capabilities and helping to develop new air traffic management systems.

STICKING THEIR NECKS OUT: The Catskill Game Farm was an Upstate New York family tradition — the first privately owned zoo in the United States where 2,000 animals, including bison, hippos, donkeys, llamas, elephants and yaks once roamed. It closed in 2006. Now, the owners are giving the old farm new life as a resort with a boutique hotel, glamping, hiking, biking, swimming. You can even rest your weary head in the Giraffe House.


NOT WITH A BANG BUT A WHIMPER: Thomas Stearns Eliot was one of the 20th century’s greatest poets, recognized in 1948 with a Nobel Prize for Literature “for his outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry.” He was Harvard-educated, a child of Boston Brahmins who renounced his American citizenship in 1927 and moved to England where, in addition to writing, he dabbled in banking and publishing. Last week, 1,000 private letters from Eliot to his muse and confidant Emily Hale were opened, perhaps the most important literary reveal in a century.

TRAILBLAZER:  John Hanna Jr. was twice a pioneer – first in the nascent field of environmental law in the 1970s when he served as deputy commissioner and general counsel of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and then as a founding partner of what became the Capital Region’s largest law firm.

YOU CAN STILL GET ANYTHING YOU WANT: Arlo Guthrie, the oldest son of Woody Guthrie and famously a Thanksgiving Day illegal trash dumper in Stockbridge, Mass., is 72 now and preparing for a national “Alice’s Restaurant” tour. From his Berkshires home in Washington, Mass., he reminisces about his Dad and his own life and career.

YOU’RE GETTING WARMER: Swedish scientists have created a liquid that can store sunlight for as long as 18 years and then release it as heat.

UP OFF THE MAT: Interest in wrestling declined so precipitously in recent decades that the sport was almost bounced from the Olympics. But now interest is rebounding, and more than half the states will host high school wrestling tournaments this year. You can pin the reason on one word: Girls.


“The very existence of libraries affords the best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future of man.”
Widely believed to be T.S. Eliot, but likely not


ALL THE NEWS THAT GIVES FITS: It turns out the Gray Lady has a sense of humor when it comes to her own mistakes, big and small. Here, we present a look at the Year in Corrections from The New York Times.

NEXT WEEK: Facing Out takes a short break next week. Our reading glasses are in for service. See you soon.

THANK YOU to our contributors: John Brodt, Bill Richmond, Bill Callen, Lisa Fenwick, Colleen Potter, Tina Suhocki, and Claire P. Tuttle.

FACING OUT is what we do. We help companies, organizations and individuals work effectively with their most important external audiences – their customers, their shareholders, their communities, the government and the news media.

Facing Out features news and other nuggets that caught our eye, and that we thought might be of value to you, our friends and business associates. Some items are good news about our clients and friends, others are stories that we hope will leave you a bit more informed or entertained than you were five minutes ago. As always, we welcome your ideas and feedback. 

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