The Week: What Caught Our Eye

January 7, 2023

Photo of skiers at lake Placid, NY.Lake Placid, N.Y., twice host to the Winter Olympics, will welcome more than 1,400 athletes from 43 countries to compete in the 2023 World University Games, Jan. 12-22. (Nancie Battaglia)

Dear Colleagues and Friends:

Some readers in Upstate New York will watch as rain sprinkles their green grass this weekend. Not good.

This is snow’s time to shine, snow that four-letter word that defines winter life.  A snowy winter keeps people employed now and next summer’s fields irrigated. It pays the taxes and generates the investment dollars for strong summer seasons. It recharges the aquifers and the economy.  

The cold, hard facts, according to New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation, are that New York winters have warmed three times faster than summers. For most of Upstate New York, that means winters bring more rain than snow, less snow cover, earlier spring snowmelt and potentially drier summer conditions. Warmer winters mean less ice cover on Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and the Finger Lakes, so lake-effect snow is likely to increase for a while, but ultimately even in these areas less snow is expected over the long term.

Near-zero cold is returning to the Adirondack region this weekend, and not a moment too soon. Snow and cold are critical to snowplow operators, snowmobilers and ski centers but also to community hospitals, banks, and local governments, hardware stores and hotels, restaurants, coffee houses, breweries and museums, and to local musicians, retailers, orthopedic surgeons.

A strong winter issues paychecks and supplements Social Security. It can help send kids to college. It keeps snowmobile communities thriving, lift lines long and trailheads full. Slink off to sunny Florida if you must! We will stay and say: Let it snow, let it snow.

And it’s not just natural snow upstate needs. It’s also temperatures cold enough to make snow for skiing and make ice at Ice Castles, the colorful winter spectacle in Lake George.

We say all this with respect. In recent weeks, Buffalo suffered the terrible tragedy of overwhelming snow and wind. Northern California is suffering now. No one wishes for that. But Upstate New York will gratefully accept heavy snowfalls and long sustained cold, especially as Lake Placid prepares to host the World University Games, Lake George prepares to host Ice Castles again, and West Mountain, Gore and Whiteface, Titus, Oak and McCauley, welcome those who, at least for now, choose to meet winter on its own terms.

Photo of West Mountain.Years of hard work and a $20-million-plus investment have renewed West Mountain in Queensbury, one of the Adirondack Region’s leading family fun, family-run mountains with skiing, riding, dining and tubing, day and night. West also is home to a premiere Alpine Ski Racing program that includes club and academy components and now an International Ski Federation-recognized boarding and lodging team. West Mountain will soon seek local approvals to build a ski village, high speed lift, condos, apartments, townhomes, hotel, athletic club and custom homes. 

ROAD TO RECOVERY: The world beyond sports was shocked and horrified this week by the collapse of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, who was saved by the quick actions of medical professionals and by late in the week had made what his doctors were calling a “fairly remarkable recovery” that included FaceTiming with teammates. Hamlin’s injury sparked sobering discussions about the risks football players face and united a nation in concern about his condition. It also activated the prayers of millions, many uttered publicly and in large groups, highlighting the strong connection between faith and football.

WORLD POPULATION: India is about to replace China as the world’s most populous nation. Since 1950, India and China have led the world in population growth, but China’s one-child policy introduced in 1980 has dramatically reduced its birth rate. India’s population is expected to peak at 1.7 billion in 2064, when it will be nearly 50 percent larger than that of China.

FLAT ARCHES: Travelers along the New York State Thruway will have to take an exit to satisfy their craving for a Big Mac. McDonald’s operated restaurants in Thruway rest areas since the 1990s, but the contract expired at the end of 2022, and the last of the nine McDonald’s along the highway closed. They’re being replaced by Chick-fil-As, Shake Shacks, Panda Expresses and others.

PITCH BATTLE: Things are getting ugly real fast with the U.S. Men’s National Team in soccer. The team, coming off an appearance in the 2022 knockout round of the World Cup and set to co-host the event in 2026, is coached by Gregg Berhalter. Berhalter played in high school and on the men’s national team with Claudio Reyna, whose son, Gio, was on the 2022 national team but played sparingly. Gio’s mother, Danielle, apparently upset that Berhalter had criticized her son, told U.S. soccer officials that Berhalter assaulted his then-girlfriend, now his longtime wife, while he was a freshman in college, in 1991. Berhalter’s contract is up, so there’s no telling how it all shakes out, but this isn’t the type of attention USA Soccer was hoping for at this point.

Photo of Jackson Lewis-Rodriguez of Rouses Point, N.Y.Jackson Lewis-Rodriguez of Rouses Point, N.Y., was treated to the experience of a lifetime by Make-A-Wish Northeast New York and the Anaheim Ducks, who welcomed him as one of their own. The image on the shirt the players are wearing is of Jackson when he first met members of the team when the Ducks visited the New Jersey Devils last season, long before granting his “official” wish. Courtesy of Make-a-Wish Northeast New York.

THE STAR OF HIS WISH: Jackson Lewis-Rodriguez’s Make-A-Wish Northeast New York wish was to meet his favorite NHL hockey team, the Anaheim Ducks. That’s not quite what happened. The 12-year-old from Rouses Point, N.Y., near the Canadian border, did indeed meet his heroes on a recent trip to California. But Jackson, who plays hockey despite a heart condition that requires a pacemaker, also signed to a two-day contract. And got his own gear. And practiced with the team. And went to an arcade with players. And skated the Ducks onto the ice for their game against the Las Vegas Golden Knights on Dec. 29 to thunderous cheers. And was welcomed as a member of the team. Jackson, who will be an ambassador for the Make-A-Wish Northeast New York Hope Begins With Us Gala on March 25 in Saratoga Springs, had to wait more than two years on his wish because of the pandemic. “It was amazing,” he said on “Good Morning LA” the next day. (Yes, that happened, too.)

THE YEAR THAT WAS: Pew Research Center, which makes it its business to spot and gather data on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world, issued a year-end report summarizing its most striking findings of 2022. At the top: 41% of Americans say they typically pay cash for nothing, up 12% since 2018 (conversely, 14% pay with cash almost exclusively, down 4% since 2018). Others included a rise in distrust among people of opposing political views and widening partisan gaps in how the U.S. Supreme Court is viewed.

THE YEAR THAT IS: You have to hand it to Archibald Low. A British academic, inventor and author, he wrote a century ago that “the war of 2023 will naturally be a wireless war,” thanks to “wireless telephony, sight, heat, power and writing.” He was right about a bunch of other things, too, though some of his contemporary futurists whiffed on predictions of flying vehicles, four-hour work days and 300-year-old people, among the items unearthed from news archives by a University of Calgary researcher and instructor who shared some of his findings on a viral Twitter thread.

SOUNDING THE ALARM: Jonathan Haidt is worried about the future. Very worried. Haidt, a social psychologist at New York University’s Stern School of Business, told The Wall Street Journal that the generation of Americans born between 1997 and 2012 is more “depressed, anxious and fragile” than any previous generation, and he’s concerned about the long-term implications for society and the workplace and for capitalism itself. He blames social media, technology and a culture that stresses victimhood, though he also sees Generation Z as actual victims of a digital age with few guardrails and in which much of existence is virtual. “This new ideology … valorizes victimhood,” he said. “And if your sub-community motivates you to say you have an anxiety disorder, how is this going to affect you for the rest of your life?” His answer: “You’re not going to take chances, you’re going to ask for accommodations, you’re going to play it safe, you’re not going to swing for the fences, you’re not going to start your own company.”

CENTURY OF SERVICE: The little brick diner is so small that it wasn’t even given a full number in its address. Squatting between taller neighbors at 136½ Main Street in Cooperstown, N.Y., across the road and up the block from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, the Cooperstown Diner is starting its second century of dishing up comfort foods in a cozy setting.

HOUSE BEAUTIFUL: A huge glass and limestone main residence is the centerpiece of a stunning property on the east bank of the Hudson River that is headed to a private auction this month, having been listed for $45 million. The property, 90 minutes north of New York City in Hyde Park, has a guest house and apartment for staff, in addition to a main house with an elevator, a sauna/steam room, an office, a hot tub, a wet bar, a games room, a 5,000-square-foot deck that includes a saltwater pool and an outdoor kitchen with a fire pit, and a nine-car garage with a car wash. If your taste tends more toward a property on the water that doesn’t require membership in the nine-figure wealth club — or you are looking to generate rental income from your investment — CNBC says you can’t do better than Saranac Lake, N.Y., which it rated the No. 1 place in the U.S. to buy a lake house in 2023, based on the ratio of rental revenue to median listing price. Branson, Mo., was second. No other place in New York cracked the top 10.

TREES, PLEASE: Julie Murray had come to count on the 50 or so Christmas trees her local town would drop off around this time of year, stripped of their lights and ornaments and cast to the curb to be carted away. But the town stopped its tree pickup service this year, leaving Murray without a favorite source of winter food for the 25 to 30 endangered San Clemente Island Goats she tends at her Mack Brin Farms in Ballston, N.Y. The goats love pine, she told The Daily Gazette of Schenectady, and will munch it until the branches are bare. She’s looking for volunteers willing to bring her their trees.

ADIRONDACK ADVENTURES: A YouTube creator named Lincoln in the Adirondacks boiled down a year of hiking and skiing in the region into a little more than four minutes that will remind old hands what they love about the place and give outsiders another reason to visit.

LIVES

JIM KNEESHAW was a kid from the Bronx who learned to fly and swim and ski and boat and sail, and did all those things in his 87 years. Right out of college, he began teaching school in a rural Upstate New York community, then went off to join the Navy where he became a pilot and logged 200 landings in the Western Pacific. He returned to his family home in Bolton Landing on Lake George and joined the faculty of the fledgling Queensbury School District, from which he retired nearly 30 years later as high school principal. He signed up for the local ski patrol, the Lake George Marine Patrol, the Civil Air Patrol, served on the Lake George Park Commission, hiked the High Peaks, ran marathons and saved his best time to spend with his large extended family of children, grandchildren, friends and his beloved life partner, former state Sen. Betty Little. 

WALT CUNNINGHAM was the lunar module pilot of the first manned Apollo mission that went to space, guiding Apollo 7 on an 11-day trip around the Earth in 1968, the year before the successful first mission to the moon. His only space flight, Apollo 7 was an important achievement that made the moon landing possible. He left NASA in 1971 and dabbled in venture capitalism. He also hosted a radio talk show and became known for his skepticism of climate change. He was 90.

KEN BLOCK lived with his pedal to the metal, an entrepreneur who sold the company he co-founded to transition to professional racing and YouTube stunt driving. He was the Rally America rookie of the year in 2005, won five medals at the X Games and was the first American to drive in the World Rally Championship, but his series of “Gymkhana” videos rocketed him to stardom far beyond the auto circuit. He co-founded the lifestyle brand Hoonigan in 2011, defining a Hoonigan as “a person who operates a motor vehicle in an aggressive and unorthodox manner, consisting of, but not limited to, drifting, burnouts, doughnuts as well as acts of automotive aeronautics.” He died in a snowmobile accident at 55.

JAMES CORLEY was the Buster in Dave & Buster’s, a popular restaurant and entertainment chain known for its arcade games and casual setting. He owned a Dallas restaurant in the 1970s when he joined with the late David Corriveau to form Dave & Buster’s, which opened its first location in 1982. The company, which the founders sold in 2007, now has 150 U.S. locations. Corley’s daughter said he suffered a debilitating stroke four months ago, and he died this week of a self-inflicted gunshot at 72.

TOM HALEY was a Massachusetts soda jerk who later in life became an Army cryptologist and an expert in retail sales. He came to Queensbury, N.Y., in the late 1970s to run the upscale Magrams fashion store in a local mall. He left retailing years later to become an advertising consultant for The Post-Star in Glens Falls, where he was the driving force behind the newspaper’s long-running Warm the Children campaign providing coats to hundreds of kids in need. He was honored for his civic leadership with the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce J. Walter Juckett Community Service award. He was 87.

ALMOST FINAL WORDS

"It was awesome to just spend time together like that, not watching TV or playing on our phones or involved in media. It was just a really fun thing to do together, and I hope Kody will remember it.”
—   Kristin Freeman, who, along with her husband August and 4-year-old son Kody, completed a quest to visit all 358 locations of the Stewart’s Shops convenience store chain in 2022, a journey that took them through 32 counties in New York and Vermont.

THE SIGNOFF

STOP THE PRESSES: That’s what they’re doing in Birmingham, Huntsville and Mobile, Ala. (combined population: about 600,000). Alabama Media Group, which publishes the three daily newspapers and another in Mississippi, announced it will cease print publication at the end of February. The company’s content will be published entirely online.

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THANK YOU TO OUR CONTRIBUTORS: Bill Callen, Ryan Moore, Nancie Battaglia, Mark McGuire, John Brodt, Claire P. Tuttle, Lisa Fenwick, Leigh Hornbeck, and Tara Hutchins.

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.  www.behancommunications.com

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. 

Let’s make it a conversationmark.behan@behancom.com

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