More Stories of the Year, In Brief

Mount Van Hoevenberg starts making snow

    LAKE PLACID — The Olympic Sports Complex Cross-Country Ski Center at Mount Van Hoevenberg made history on Dec. 1 when it manufactured its first pile of artificial snow.

    In late November, the state Olympic Regional Development Authority began leasing a machine called the Snow Factory, made by TechnoAlpin, a European company that pioneered the technology to make snow at cross-country ski facilities.

    In short, this is a game changer for ORDA and the village of Lake Placid as they market the ski center and region for community skiing, tourism and competition. That’s because the Snow Factory was designed to make snow at above-freezing temperatures, which means Mount Van Hoevenberg officials — if they wanted — could make snow for about 7 kilometers of trails and open the same day as the Whiteface Mountain Ski Center.

    Until now, Mount Van Hoevenberg did not have snowmaking capabilities and relied solely on Mother Nature’s good graces to open its doors. Last winter was the breaking point. With above-average temperatures for most of the season, the trails were only open for 37 days and skiers and competitions were directed to the trails at the Olympic Jumping Complex, which has snowmaking.

The Snow Factory has taken the unpredictability aspect of weather out of the equation for cross-country skiing in Lake Placid. That, in itself, gives Mount Van Hoevenberg an edge over other ski centers that have traditional snowmaking systems, which require temperatures of 28 degrees or below to work. This is the only system of its kind in New York state and only one operating at a nordic ski center in North America. While the Boreal Mountain Resort in California installed a Snow Factory this past summer, it’s being used for the Woodward Tahoe summer camp.

— By Andy Flynn

Leadership changes, big projects for Ad’k Health

SARANAC LAKE — Adirondack Health ended 2016 with a new CEO and two big projects in the works.

Chandler Ralph retired in June after 21 years leading the Tri-Lakes area’s network of hospitals, health care clinics and nursing homes. Her replacement, Sylvia Getman, was hired after a nationwide search. Most recently, Getman was the president and CEO of Aroostook Medical Center in Presque Isle, Maine.

The changeover came as Adirondack Health prepared to start work on two new facilities at a combined cost of $33 million: a new medical health and fitness center in Lake Placid, on the Uihlein nursing home campus, and a new surgical services wing at AMC-Saranac Lake.

This year Adirondack Health also finalized the sale of the Uihlein nursing home to Post Acute Partners, a Buffalo-based nursing home company.

–Chris Knight

Tupper Lake finishes road construction projects

TUPPER LAKE — The state Department of Transportation completed its $16.2 million reconstruction of Routes 3 and 30 in November this year, much to the excitement of businesses on Park St. in Tupper Lake.

The project, which was started in the spring of 2015, included full reconstruction of the highway as well as replacement of water and sewer lines, storm drainage, curbs and sidewalks. It ran a mile long, beginning near the intersection of Route 30 and Queen Street, going through the intersection of Routes 3 and 30, and ending near 3/30’s intersections with McLaughlin and Pleasant avenues.

The renovations led to torn up portions of the road, causing traffic delays and detours as well as temporary business loss for some owners on the main street. Other challenges included flooding in May and early June on the Park Street hill by Chaney Avenue due to heavy rain and a lack of drainage, and finding and removing nine underground fuel storage tanks, each large enough to hold 1,000 gallons.

“Now that (the community) sees the finished product, I think they’re pretty happy,” DOT Engineer Tom Maroun said, in November. “There were some inconveniences to everybody, but I think it came out pretty well with all the new lighting and all the aesthetic work that we did.”

While Tupper Lake worked on their road construction, state DOT Commissioner Matthew Driscoll and a contingent of DOT managers and workers continued renovations to state Route 73 to guard against the next hurricane Irene.

The department is building a $7.25 million bridge over the west branch of the AuSable River to be open for traffic next spring. It is one of eight bridges along the state Route 73 corridor that have received millions of dollars for upgrades to better handle storms and flooding.

The bridge, which is across from the Olympic ski jumps, will be raised higher than where the previous bridges currently sit and are engineered to withstand storms and flooding caused by tropical storms.

“The lessons learned (from Irene) is this,” Driscoll said at the time as he pointed to the ski jumps project. “People were stranded, access was cut off, water lines were broken because of the torrent of water. So when you’ve got so much hydrology activity going on the funneling of that coming into a confined space really is a recipe for disaster. That’s why we’re rebuilding.”

— Kelly Carroll