LAKE PLACID — In the 10 most popular stories on the Lake Placid News website during 2022 — www.lakeplacidnews.com — there was a mix of weather-related events, tragedy and — like many years — news about the Ironman Lake Placid triathlon.
Here are the top 10 stories published in 2022 on the website, starting with the most popular.
1. Oct. 13, 2022: Missing Georgia man found deceased: Police find body of man who went missing in AuSable River last month
This story by the News staff was a follow-up from the one Editor Andy Flynn first reported on Oct. 1 in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, the LPN’s sister newspaper. He was on the scene at the state Route 86 bridge over the West Branch of the AuSable River in Wilmington on Sept. 30, a day after a Georgia man fell into the river and was reported missing.
New York State Police’s Underwater Recovery Team Wednesday, Oct. 12 found the body of a 68-year-old Georgia man who fell into the West Branch of the AuSable River near the Flume on Sept. 29.
George Thevis, of Atlanta, was found deceased in the AuSable River after a nearly two-week-long search involving State Police troopers, K-9 and underwater recovery teams, forest rangers and emergency services.
State Police troopers initially responded to a call behind the Hungry Trout Resort on state Route 86 in Wilmington at around 6:29 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 29. Thevis was attempting to help a friend get up from the ground after falling, when he himself lost balance, slipped and fell off the edge of an embankment about 25 feet down into the river.
State Police said that there were no signs of foul play in Thevis’s death.
2. Dec. 14, 2022: Winter storm watch in effect for Adirondacks
This was a story by Editor Andy Flynn about a major winter storm that was expected to dump up to two feet of snow on the Adirondack region. The winter storm watch eventually turned into a winter storm warning, and more than a foot of snow fell in many communities around northern New York and Vermont.
3. Feb. 18, 2022: State of emergency declared as AuSable ice jam floods homes
In this breaking news story, Editor Andy Flynn informed readers about town of Jay Supervisor Matthew Stanley declaring a state of emergency after an ice jam caused major flooding in some areas of the town, including AuSable Forks.
4. Nov. 10, 2022: Discover your Scotts Cobble: New vision proposed for old Lake Placid ski center
This Eye on Business story by Staff Writer Lauren Yates detailed the High Peaks Cyclery owners’ plans to open the Scotts Cobble Nordic Center at the Craig Wood Golf Course in December.
On a cold, blustery night last winter, High Peaks Cyclery owners Brian and Karen Delaney set out for a nighttime ski at the town of Tupper Lake’s cross-country ski trails on Mount Morris. They were the only people at the ski center that night.
With headlamps showing the way, they began gliding over the snow. But as they moved through the trees, LED lights flickered on alongside the couple, bathing the trail in light as they sailed by and turning off once they’d passed.
“Karen, this is awesome!” Brian Delaney recalled saying to his wife. “I was like, ‘We’ve got to do this in Lake Placid.’”
Enter Scotts Cobble, a humble mountain on the southern side of the Craig Wood Golf Course on state Route 73 in the town of North Elba. It was once home to a tiny downhill ski center operated by the North Elba Park District — opening on Jan. 8, 1938, and closing at the end of winter in 1973. But this winter, Delaney is hoping to open a new version of the ski center — with 10 kilometers of lighted cross-country ski trails and a goal of reacquainting local communities with the culture of Nordic skiing.
Delaney calls the new Scotts Cobble Recreation Center “Lake Placid’s community trails.”
“‘Discover your Scotts Cobble,’” he said.
His vision is that the center will offer cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, fat biking, sledding, nighttime skiing and backcountry skiing, and the 10k of trails will be free to access for area residents. That includes people in the Tri-Lakes communities as well as Olympic Region towns such as Wilmington and Keene. The ski trails at Scotts Cobble, which back up to the Jackrabbit Trail, are expected to be pet-friendly. Delaney is also planning several programs, including an afterschool program from 3 to 5 p.m. on weekdays where local students could rent ski gear and ski for free.
The proposed ski center already has a lodge — the golf course clubhouse — with space for a retail store, ski rental area, locker rooms, showers and enough room to host weddings and other events. Delaney expects a shuttle will run from the center to the town, and he’s talking with local schools about routing school buses there. Delaney hopes to open a restaurant at the lodge on weekends, and he wants to provide coffee and hot cocoa every day for trail users.
Delaney plans to charge non-locals a fee to ski at the center — $15 for a daily pass, $100 for a family season pass and $50 for a regular season pass.
Delaney said Scotts Cobble ski center will complement rather than compete with other local ski centers.
“We’re meeting a need, and now we’re building that Nordic community within our community that makes people feel good about our home,” Delaney told councilors. “That’s what I want.”
Delaney said he’s already received a lot of community support for the project. People have stopped in his store asking what they can do — people want to help install lights and even help Delaney source a snowmobile to maintain the trails.
5. Jan. 13, 2022: Ironman renewal? Task force poised to recommend return of race in 2023
Many readers were interested to learn about the Ironman Task Force’s recommendations for signing a contract extension with the Florida-based triathlon company, which has been hosting races in Lake Placid since 1999. Simply put, it’s a contentious issue, and Staff Writer Lauren Yates filed this story about the task force members’ latest meeting. In the summer, officials at the village of Lake Placid, town of North Elba and Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism renewed the Ironman contract through the 2024 race.
6. April 28, 2022: Canada eases border restrictions for those traveling north
More than two years after the Canadian border was first closed to non-essential traffic, due to COVID-19 restrictions, this story by the News staff reported on the easing of border restrictions for “certain eligible travelers” headed to the country.
7. July 22, 2022: Traffic detours, alternate routes set for July 24 Ironman race
This was a press release that Ironman Lake Placid officials issue every year about traffic detours and alternate routes during the race, and it always gets readers’ attention. Temporary road closures began at 5 a.m. Sunday, July 24 for the race.
8. March 18, 2022: Missing Colden hiker found deceased
Searches for missing hikers in the High Peaks Wilderness are always popular stories with readers. In this update, staff writers Aaron Marbone (formerly Aaron Cerbone) and Lauren Yates tell the story about a man who was found dead after two days of searching in the Mount Colden area.
A missing hiker was found deceased on Friday after a two-day-long search by state Department of Environmental Conservation forest rangers and New York State Police.
Thomas A. Howard, 63, of Westport, Connecticut, was found at 10:30 a.m. in the High Peaks Wilderness area, according to DEC Public Participation Specialist Erin Hanczyk.
Howard was reported missing on Wednesday after failing to return from a hiking trip on Mount Colden. He was last seen hiking in the High Peaks on March 11. Police said his last known location was at the Marcy Dam lean-to. State helicopters could be seen flying around the High Peaks on Thursday.
Howard’s car was located in the Adirondak Loj parking lot on Friday. Howard had made an entry in the trail registration book saying his destination was Mount Colden via the Trap Dike. He anticipated returning on Sunday, March 13. The DEC and State Police deployed air, sled and foot operations on Wednesday. Search efforts by forest rangers, State Police investigators, DEC’s emergency management unit, and state Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, along with trained rescue climbers, continued until Howard was found on Friday.
Howard was known as an experienced hiker, though some areas of the High Peaks were hit with around a foot of snow last weekend.
9. June 12, 2022: Local chefs find love and southern charm in Lake Placid
In this Adirondack Living story, Staff Writer Lauren Yates tells the story about a couple with southern roots who were planning to open a barbecue restaurant together.
Local chefs and life partners Meghan and Jonathan Gravatt’s love story, and their love of the Adirondacks, started with food.
Meghan grew up in a working class community in St. Petersburg, Florida, and Jonathan grew up in “the sticks” of Lakeland, Florida, but the couple found each other while cooking in Lake Placid.
Meghan moved to the area with her mom and stepdad when she was 16, and Jonathan made his way up a few years later on a road trip that turned into a permanent relocation. Despite the initial shock of the bitter winters to their southern roots, they both fell in love with the area and started to thrive here.
“I wasn’t looking to go anywhere else,” Meghan said.
Jonathan said he moved here to cook at the Lake Placid Lodge, and he eventually started a private chef company. Once, when he needed an assistant for a private chef job, it was Meghan who came to help out. They’ve been cooking together ever since.
Jonathan said he grew up watching the show “The Frugal Gourmet.” He admired the chefs on the show, who displayed an almost evangelical zeal for the dishes they were creating. He wanted to replicate that enthusiasm. Jonathan said he went to college for a bit, but he “always came back to food.” It was in his blood, he said — the focus of every celebration and family function.
“So I just dug into anything food, and that’s all I did,” he said.
Jonathan said that creating a life around food isn’t complex or romantic — he studied cookbooks and worked hard to hone his skills. However, his love of food did help him to romance Meghan. Jonathan said she was impressed by his cookbook collection and well-stocked kitchen.
“She loved my kitchen before she loved me,” he said.
Jonathan’s love of food rubbed off on Meghan, who said she’s always had a love of learning things hands-on. They worked together as private chefs, then as caterers, and now they’re on to their next adventure as barbecue smokers. Now, they want to bring a piece of the south to the North Country; the Gravatts expect to open their new restaurant, West Shore BBQ, in Lake Placid this summer.
Meghan said that she and Jonathan’s dreams morphed together after they met. They’re a different couple, Jonathan said — attached at the hip.
“Some say codependent,” he said. “I say I like her.”
Adirondack food mecca
Cooking in the Adirondacks is different from cooking in the south, the Gravatts said.
“Everything in the south was brown, or canned, or overcooked,” Jonathan said.
Here, he said, there’s a bounty of people who have immigrated to the area, bringing their different food cultures with them. Nearby cities like Montreal, New York City and Boston attract various cooking styles, he added. The Gravatts have learned to cook from local Serbian and Montenegro natives, and they’ve cooked for Chinese New Year and Serbian New Year.
Jonathan said he knows skills like properly blanching, or achieving the proper sodium content in water to set chlorophyll in green vegetables, because of people from those big-city populations who taught him everything from throwing a pizza, building a burger and smoking ribs to rolling sushi.
The Gravatts said they also reserve plenty of respect for the local grandmothers and mothers who are domestic chefs, too. Jonathan said they’ve shown him a lot. One of his neighbors, who used to bake treats to hand out every Halloween, recently gave him the original 30-year-old recipe for the treats so he could carry on the legacy.
“I would say this area made me the chef that I am,” he said.
Meghan said it’s exciting to cook in the Adirondacks because there’s a gathering process — she and Jonathan seek out different farms around the area to source their ingredients, and she said they have more knowledge of and respect for the Adirondacks because of that.
When asked about their favorite locally-sourced ingredients to work with, the Gravatts listed everything from baby eggplants, watermelon radishes and frosty kale to grass-fed beef and local hardwood. Jonathan said that one of the best things people grow up here is the wood, because it smokes meats perfectly.
“I think this could become a mecca for smoked meats,” Jonathan said of Lake Placid.
Lake Placid love
Lake Placid became home for the Gravatts when they realized they’d lived here longer than they had in Florida. They got married here, they’re raising two daughters here and they’re building a business here — this is their community now, Meghan said.
The Gravatts said they’re glad their daughters can go out on their bikes from morning until evening and feel safe; the couple doesn’t have to worry about their kids seeing the same “horror stories” they did growing up in Florida.
Jonathan said there’s an almost southern charm to Lake Placid that doesn’t exist in his hometown anymore. People here drive their pickup trucks and live a simple life, and people say please and thank you; they look out for the neighborhood kids and each other.
The Gravatts have spent the pandemic traveling to nearly every town in the Adirondacks, exploring the park they live in. Jonathan said that the massive “awesomeness” of the park hadn’t really sunk in before that.
It’s a tough area to live and work in, they said. The winters are brutal, and sometimes work is slow. The Gravatts are lean on finances at some points and prosperous at others, but they said living here seems to only get better.
Jonathan said it’s good having Meghan as a best friend, work friend, life partner and ski buddy here through the hard times, especially in the “crazy industry” of food. When Jonathan bolts out of bed at 3 a.m. with new business dreams and ambitions, Meghan’s always there to learn how to make them a reality.
“We’re true partners,” Jonathan said.
10. Dec. 9, 2022: ‘A very fine swan indeed’: Barbara Kelly dies at 95, remembered for skating, writing, volunteerism
Wrapping up the top 10 stories on the Lake Placid News website was an obituary written by Editor Andy Flynn about Barbara Kelly, a Lake Placid native who died at age 95. She was a longtime volunteer, figure skater and columnist for the newspaper.
There once was an ugly duckling, and she skated around the Olympic Center’s 1980 Rink — at age 80.
It was April 12, 2008, the last day of the U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships.
“Representing the Skating Club of Lake Placid in Lake Placid, New York!” the announcer boomed over the PA system. “A warm welcome, please, for Barbara Kelly!”
Kelly entered the ice from the athletes’ tunnel. As the crowd cheered, feverishly clanking cowbells, she covered her head in character and moved to center ice — in costume, dressed as the shy Ugly Duckling, with a long, yellow bill covering most of her face.
Cue the music. Danny Kaye starts singing, as he did for the 1952 film, “Hans Christian Andersen.”
“There once was an ugly duckling, with feathers all stubby and brown. And the other birds in so many words said, ‘Get out of town.’”
During the routine, she transformed into a swan.
“All through the wintertime, he hid himself away, ashamed to show his face, afraid of what others might say. All through the winter, in his lonely clump of wheat, till a flock of swans spied him there and very soon agreed, you’re a very fine swan indeed!”
She wasn’t such an ugly duckling, no feathers all stubby and brown. And the birds, in so many words, said, “The best in town.”
Kelly received a standing ovation and won a silver medal for that performance in the interpretive/comedy category. A video of her performance was posted on YouTube 14 years ago.
“I love that video,” said Barbara Balatero, Kelly’s daughter who lives in Washington state. “It just says it all. It shows her spirit, her vitality, her courage to go out there at 80, stick her leg up in the air and skate backwards.”
Kelly — who died of pneumonia on the morning of Friday, Nov. 25 at the age of 95 — was well known for skating as an elder member of the Skating Club of Lake Placid. She won a number of medals in adult figure skating competitions.
In 1997 at age 69, for example, she won a gold medal in the U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships on home ice, in the interpretive class, skating as a witch. In 1999, she was awarded the Mountain Cup Trophy in Villard-de-Lans, France at the first Mountain Cup adult open competition for being the “Inspiration for Adult Skating Around the World.” Interpretive skating was a lifelong passion. In July 1939 — four days before her 12th birthday — she won the “most comic” award in a skating competition at the 1932 Olympic Arena.
Starting in 1995, Kelly was the proud founder of the Coffee Club for adult skaters at the Skating Club of Lake Placid. Coffee Club members — of all ages and abilities — skated every Thursday at the Olympic Center, bringing baked goods and coffee for socializing between their times on the ice. It was a way for older skaters be active and stay in touch.
After Kelly turned 80, she started the Skating 80s Club.
Barbara Kelly was introduced to the community in the July 22, 1927, issue of the Lake Placid News: “BORN: At Lake Placid General hospital, Monday, July 18, a daughter, Barbara Anne, to Mr. and Mrs. L. J. Tyrell.”
Her parents were Grace (Goodsell) and Leonard Tyrell. She graduated from Lake Placid High School in June 1945.
While attending Russell Sage College in Troy, she met her future husband, Charles “Charlie” Kelly, who graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy in 1951. They married at St. Agnes Church in Lake Placid on Aug. 6, 1949, a couple of months after Barbara graduated with a bachelor’s degree in physical education.
The Kellys lived in Connecticut for many years, raising five children: Kate, Barbara, Carol, Doug and Joe. In 1975, the Kellys moved to Denver, Colorado, and in 1991, they moved to Lake Placid, where a new chapter began for Barbara’s skating and volunteerism. Her children called her “a tireless volunteer” with the Girl Scouts and the Kiwanis Club of Lake Placid.
Barbara wrote the “Growing Up in Lake Placid” column for the Lake Placid News for several years, stopping in 2010 to work on a collection of those columns for a book, “Growing Up in Lake Placid … The Little Town That Could,” which was published in 2012.
Barbara also teamed up with Charlie to edit Don Edgley’s 2003 book, “The ‘Edge’ of Humor and Other Stories of Lake Placid People.”
Barbara Tyrell Kelly will be remembered for her writing, tireless volunteerism and a lifetime of skating. And she’s also memorialized in the Lake Placid Hall of Fame, being inducted in 2000, the same year she served as chairwoman of Lake Placid’s Centennial Celebration Committee.
“Barbara cared deeply about Lake Placid, and the community cared deeply for Barbara,” former LPN Editor Rich Rosentreter said. “Lake Placid may have lost another treasure, but she will remain in the hearts of everyone who had the pleasure to know her. She will be missed.”
Survivors include her daughters Barbara and Carol and sons Doug and Joe; grandchildren Katy, Tyrell, David, Charlie and Scott; and great-grandson Colin. She was predeceased by husband Charlie and daughter Kate.