The Week: What Caught Our Eye

September 21, 2019

A montage of Help Wanted signs seen around Glens Falls recentlyTHE COST OF NEEDING HELP: Lake Placid’s Base Camp Café promises the best breakfast in the Olympic village. There’s just one hitch: They’re short a breakfast cook. Nearly full employment is good news, right? But it also means tourism, retail, manufacturing, construction, agricultural and heath care businesses are struggling to fill critical vacancies. Nationwide, seven million jobs need filling. Vermont is asking workers to relocate to the Green Mountains and offering up to $10,000 to cover expenses. In Maine, like other Northeastern states, where the retirement population is growing, families can’t find enough young workers to care for elderly relatives. Higher food costs are on the menu because immigration restrictions are forcing New York farmers to bear higher harvest costs to bring in temporary foreign workers. Employers are raising wages, adding benefits and offering apprenticeships and schedule flexibility, but there are no short-term fixes. And the shortage is not confined to the U.S. The German Economic Institute says lack of skilled labor is costing the German economy 30 billion euros a year in GDP growth. (Photos by Eric Potter)

RENSSELAER’S DIAMOND: It’s official: The first grand slam in Major League history was hit on September 10, 1881, in Rensselaer, N.Y. Now, the city that gave us Yankee Doodle has established a proper granite monument to the ageless feat of Roger Connor. On that fateful afternoon, his National League Troy Trojans were trailing the Worcester Ruby Legs, 7-4, with two outs and bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth. Connor stepped up and launched “a terrific drive to right,” the Worcester Daily Spy reported, securing the 8-7 win for the Trojans and a permanent place in baseball history.

TRAGEDY AND TRIUMPH OF LENA SPENCER: Before Marylou Whitney was Queen of Saratoga, there was Lena Nargi Spencer. Her twin died two weeks after birth, her Italian immigrant mother, by suicide, just three years later. Lena dreamt of leaving Milford, Mass., for the lights of New York, perhaps for a career in journalism or as a songwriter (“the female Irving Berlin”) or even as an actress on Broadway. Fate led her to 47 Phila Street. In Saratoga Springs, she nurtured the careers of many of America’s finest songwriters at Caffe Lena. WMHT’s Nicole Van Slyke has produced a masterful documentary.

CHEERS TO FRASIER: On farmland he owns in the tiny Catskills town of Margaretville, Kelsey Grammer has opened a tavern where he’s selling (and hopes one day to brew) his own beer.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE HYDE: For part of its second season, HBO’s mega-hit “Succession” was filmed in Lake Placid, Lake George and Albany. That’s where the cameras discovered some local talent.

SPECIAL DELIVERY: Motorcycle gangs delivering breast milk? Yes, and it can mean the difference between life and death for babies born addicted to opioids. Healthy women across New York State are donating the milk, and it’s being delivered by the oldest women’s motorcycle club in New York City. Girl power.

Photo of Maestro Charles PeltzFLAMING LEAVES AND FLAMENCO: Glens Falls is the smallest city in America to support a fully professional symphony, and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Joseph Schwantner once called the GFSO  “one of the great orchestras of our country.” Professional musicians travel from all over the nation to perform under the baton of Maestro Charles Peltz. The  2019-20 season bursts on stage Sunday, Sept. 29, with Music by de Falla, flamenco dancers and  mezzo soprano Tascha Anderson.


GAME’S BEST SAVE: His first time at the Dome, an off-duty firefighter watching the Syracuse-Clemson game jumps into action to save a fan in cardiac arrest.

ROLL HARPER LEE: Casey Cep’s extraordinary book Furious Hours reveals fascinating new details about Harper Lee’s post-“To Kill a Mockingbird” life, including the mystery of her final book and the scoop on her long relationship with Truman Capote. Now, it turns out, Harper Lee also enjoyed writing about Alabama football.


NOURISHING THE MIND: Saratoga Performing Arts Center is transforming its don’t-miss Wine and Food Festival into a week of thoughtful community-building events around food. In the run-up to the Oct. 4-5 Spa State Park festival, it’s adding lectures on slow food, Ayurvedic cooking, foraging, farming and food justice.  SPAC is partnering with Pitney Meadows Community Farm, Skidmore College, The Hyde Collection, Rascal & Thorn and Caffe Lena.

LIGHT, DELIGHT AND CHANGE THE WORLD: Schenectady will honor its leading thinkers, innovators, entrepreneurs and business leaders Oct. 23. Malcolm’s, the innovative fresh ingredients/farm share restaurant modeled on New York’s Mas Farmhouse of delicious memory, earns the prestigious Rising Star honor. Vic Abate, GE’s chief technology officer leading GE’s global research centers in Niskayuna and Bangalore, India, receives the Business Leader Award.

JOH-EUN EUMSIG: Sunhee’s Farm and Kitchen in Troy is chosen by Yelpsters as the third most popular Korean restaurant in Upstate New York. And six other local Korean restaurants rank in the top 26: Namu in Albany, Koreana in Watertown, Pinto Thai Kitchen in Colonie, Seoul Korean in Latham, K-Plate Korean Barbecue in Troy and Modu Sushi in Clifton Park.

WINING CAR: Vinepair, the digital media company that specializes in all things glass in hand, says the Adirondack Scenic Railroad’s evening sightseeing, beer and wine tours pair perfectly with Cabot cheese, nice dinners and live music.

HERE’S A TIP: Order the skinny vanilla latte with soy milk, pay with a card, and they turn the screen to face you. Now the moment of truth: Do you tip?

KALE OR CAULI: Call us slow to the table. We thought kale was still hot. But push that green garnish off to the side. Cauliflower is heads (and shoulders) the ascendant veggie, and it isn’t going anywhere.

IRISH TENORS AND BARITONES: The venerable University of Notre Dame Glee Club first took the stage in South Bend in 1915. Over the last century-plus, the 75-voice, all-male ensemble has toured the nation and the world, earning acclaim as one of the finest choral groups anywhere. With the help of Notre Dame (and Glee Club) alumnus Kevin Murphy and Notre Dame sophomore Cole Carpenter of Queensbury, the Irish are coming back to Glens Falls Oct. 23.

PUT A LID ON IT: A plane carrying 326 passengers over the North Atlantic is diverted to Ireland (not all bad) after an experienced pilot spills coffee on the controls.

THE FEDERALIST SOLUTION: This week marks the 232nd anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution. The weak Articles of Confederation, which had governed the Colonies since 1781, gave the federal government power to conduct foreign affairs and wage war, but no power to compel the states to provide money or troops. The arrangement put the fledgling Colonies on the brink of collapse. The Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, presided over by Convention President George Washington, produced a solution – the federalist system with shared powers and a bicameral legislature.

GUARDIAN OF THE BRIDGE: Lyndon, Vt. (pop. 1,163), calls itself the covered bridge capital of the Northeast Kingdom. It’s home to the Millers Run Covered Bridge, a landmark built in 1800, repaired in 1816, repaired again in 1841, and fully restored in 1995. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In May, the landmark was destroyed when it was struck by a box truck nearly a foot taller than the allowed clearance. Now repaired and reopened, it is back in service – under the careful watch of Dela Stoddard-McGrath, 4.

PURPLE HAZE: Turns out the Russians aren’t manipulating just elections. When a Russian volcano erupted in June, it spewed ash and volcanic gases into the atmosphere. That may be why we’re seeing more purple sunsets.

WE’RE NOT ALONE: They didn’t use the word aliens, but the Navy now confirms that three videos shot by its pilots and made public by The New York Times in May showed “unexplained aerial phenomena.” The vehicles undertook aerial maneuvers not possible with current aviation technology.

TELLING MORE THAN TIME: What you flash on your wrist real estate is sending a message. Time to take a minute and think about it.

BUTTERBEER IN SCHOOL? To excite her students about reading, a Harry Potter fan transforms her classroom into Hogwarts – with her own money.


 “My life is a party thrown for me by my own decisions.”
— Kelsey Grammer


MODERN LIFE: There was a 12-pack of Michelob Ultra on the roof and music was pounding from the stereo when police pulled over the conveyance. The driver and passenger fled, but the horse and buggy continued home.​​​​​​​

PLEASE SHARE: Feel free to pass this along to your friends and colleagues.

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

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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