Almanack Contributor Anthony F. Hall

Anthony F. Hall

Anthony F. Hall is the editor and publisher of the Lake George Mirror.

Anthony grew up in Warrensburg and after an education that included studying with beat poet Gregory Corso on an island in the Aegean, crewing a schooner in Hawaii, traveling through Greece and Turkey studying Byzantine art and archeology, and a stint at Lehman Brothers, he returned to the Adirondacks and took a job with legendary state senator Ron Stafford.

In 1998, Anthony and his wife Lisa acquired the Lake George Mirror, once part of a chain of weekly newspapers owned by his father Rob Hall.

Established in the 1880s, the Mirror is America’s oldest resort newspaper.



Friday, October 9, 2009

Adirondack Initiative to be Unveiled at Health Summit

Warned in 2007 that the entire health care system in Adirondacks was at stake, federal and state officials responded with millions of dollars in funding to create a new initiative that will expand health care services in the Adirondacks and serve as a model for under-served regions throughout the country.

That initiative, a multi-year pilot program called the Adirondack Medical Home Demonstration Project, will be unveiled at a second Adirondack Health Summit, to be held October 13 at 10 am at the Warren County Municipal Center in Lake George.

“In August 2007, the New York State Association of Counties convened an Adirondack Health Summit to call attention to an emerging health care crisis in the Adirondacks, especially with regard to primary care. Since then, the region’s health care providers, together with leading payers, have been meeting with he State Health Department to craft a solution. These efforts address health care reform at the local level, where it can be most effective,” said Stephen J. Acquario, the Executive Director of the New York State Association of Counties.

The Adirondack Medical Home Demonstration Project will be launched officially in January, 2010, said Dr. John Rugge, the CEO of Hudson Headwaters Health Network, a consortium of 12 community health care centers Acquario described the Adirondack Medical Home Demonstration Project as a “partnership between health care providers, insurers and government.”

The goal, he said, is to provide “a medical home” for patients in which care is better managed and co-ordinated, especially individuals with complex, chronic conditions that require multiple treatments, medications, and specialty services.

“Primary care clinicians, in collaboration with insurers and the New York State Health Department, are engaged in an initiative to better organize and deliver primary care services while addressing the value and cost of health care services,” said Acquario. “The partnership could reach over 150,000 patients and involve almost 100 physicians and at least seven insurers, including the state. If successful, the model could be replicated in other parts of the state.”

In fact, said U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, “This is a program that may just save health care in the North Country and, what’s more, prove to be a pioneer of national significance. Every crisis represents an opportunity and we are fortunate to have the key health care leaders working together before it is too late.”

The project is supported by Governor Paterson, Commissioner Daines and Deborah Bachrach, Director of the NYS Health Department’s Office of Health Insurance Programs, which includes Medicaid and all public and private insurance programs, said Acquario.

According Acquario, the New York State Health Department is participating in the project as an insurer and has agreed to convene the other major payers across northern New York. Participating insurance companies include the New York State Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP), Empire BlueCross BlueShield, Excellus, Blue Shield of Northeastern New York, Fidelis Care, MVP, and United HeathCare (through the ‘Empire Plan’).

The summit will include local government, business leaders, service organizations, educational institutions and environmental groups. New York State Health Commissioner Richard Daines, MD will be the keynote speaker.

According to Dr. John Rugge, the initiative is one attempt to address the high costs of providing health care and inadequate rates of reimbursement for primary care services.

“Everybody knows the system is broken; we have to change the way we practice medicine and the insurers have agreed in principle that health care providers have to be reimbursed for the costs of delivering that care in a more effective and efficient manner,” said Rugge.

Like the “Doctors Across New York Program,” an initiative announced by New York State’s Health Commissioner in Glens Falls last year that will give new physicians as much as $150,000 to repay medical school loans if they spend at least five years practicing in underserved areas, the new project will help communities recruit and retain physicians, Rugge said. “Primary care physicians can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Rugge said. “They know the value of their work will be recognized.”

The project will be funded in part through grants that will, for example, increase the use of electronic records which will make co-ordinating care easier, said Rugge.

Last week, Governor David Paterson announced that Adirondack health care centers and hospitals would receive a $7 million grant to finance the increased use of electronic records.

According to Rugge, the success of the program will be seen in cost savings derived from fewer trips to the hospitals and unnecessary tests, lower prescription costs and the patient’s healthier lifestyle.

“The average patient may not see a difference in his care, but the chronically ill patient will,” said Rugge. “For adults, disease management will focus on chronic diseases that account for nearly 80% of health care spending. For children, the focus will be providing preventive services and the long-term management of chronic conditions such as obesity.”

By allowing physicians to spend more time with patients and craft individual health care regimens, “primary care will be hiked up to a new level,” said Rugge.

For more news from Lake George, read the Lake George Mirror


Friday, October 2, 2009

Hyde Receives Gift of Painting of Finch Pruyn Workers

Douglass Crockwell is known today as a commercial artist whose images of daily American life appeared regularly on the covers of popular magazines like the Saturday Evening Post and in advertisements for national brands of beers and dog foods.

In Glens Falls, he had what is known as intra-mural fame, as the city’s best known artist.

“He referred to himself as the ‘poor man’s Norman Rockwell,’” said Patricia Hoopes, who sometimes served as a model for Crockwell’s illustrations, as did her husband and two children.

“What Doug painted is not the kind of art that would ordinarily be displayed at The Hyde,” says Sam Hoopes, whose great-aunt, Charlotte Hyde, founded the Glens Falls museum to conserve and display her collection of European and American art.

But last year, Hoopes became aware of a painting that he thought The Hyde should own.

Painted in 1934, Paper Workers, Finch Pruyn & Co. shows workers smoothing and stamping an enormous roll of newsprint, the plant’s principal product at the time.

The workers appear to be carved of wood, Crockwell once said, because he wanted to liken the men to the source of the wood pulp from which they made newsprint.

Mike Carr, the executive director of the Adirondack Nature Conservancy, saw the painting in a New York gallery and called it to Hoopes’s attention.

“I thought it seemed out of character for Doug, since we knew him best as a commercial artist,” said Hoopes.
After discussing the painting with The Hyde’s director, David Stetford, and the museum’s chief curator, Erin Coe, Sam and Patricia Hoopes decided to buy the painting and donate it to The Hyde.

“Given Doug Crockwell’s connection to The Hyde – he was a trustee from 1952 through 1968 and served as acting director from 1964 and 1968 – and The Hyde’s connection to Finch Pruyn, I thought the painting was something The Hyde should have,” said Hoopes.

“Sam Hoopes saw the opportunity to share with the Museum a piece of Glens Falls history. The image of “Paper Workers, Finch Pruyn & Co”. connects us with the industrial roots that allowed The Hyde Collection to begin,” said David Stetford, noting that Charlotte Hyde’s father, and Sam Hoopes’ great-grandfather, Samuel Pruyn, co-founded Finch Pruyn in 1865.

According to Erin Coe, Crockwell painted two nearly identical versions of the image. The first version belongs to the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington D.C. and was created by Crockwell in 1934 for the Works Progress Administration. The version donated by the Hoopeses to The Hyde, was made by the artist for Finch Pruyn & Co. later that same year.

“Although Crockwell is more widely known as a commercial illustrator, this painting is a remarkable example of his endeavor as a fine artist — long before he became the famous illustrator of the 1940s and 50s,” said Coe.
Other overlooked aspects of Crockwell’s career, such as the surrealist films he made and the avant-garde jewelry he designed, have yet to be fully explored, said Coe.

He was also a patron of more pathbreaking artists, including the sculptor David Smith.

His wife, Margaret Bramen Crockwell, once said, “My husband was one of the first to buy Smith’s sculptures. Someone told me years later that the sale of ‘Structure of Arches’ kept David from starving.”

The Hyde owns two other works by Crockwell, Coe said. The first, acquired in 1971, is a painted illustration for the Saturday Evening Post and was donated to The Hyde by Crockwell’s family. The second is an unfinished portrait of Louis Fiske Hyde, which was donated to the Museum by the family in 1979.

According to Coe, “Paper Workers, Finch Pruyn & Co.” was presented by The Hyde’s Collections Committee to the Board of Trustees for approval at their meeting on September 21, 2009. The work will be sent to the Williamstown Art Conservation Center for conservation treatment, and when the painting returns it will be placed on public view.

For more news from Lake George, read the Lake George Mirror

Image courtesy of the Hyde Collection


Friday, September 25, 2009

Can Ralph Lauren Save the Adirondacks?

New York State’s Secretary of State had never been north of Albany until she visited Lake George, a village official told me recently.

State Senator Betty Little likes to tell a story about another state official, who grew alarmed when told that people were living in the park—the Adirondack Park, that is.

“People being forced to sleep in the park? How awful!” the official reportedly said.

No wonder the Association of Adirondack Towns and Villages decided to sponsor the Adirondack Park Regional Assessment Report.

At the very least, it reminds Albany that the Adirondack Park contains 130,000 people living in more than one hundred communities, which need viable economies (and perhaps some additional state aid or at least broad band) if they are to survive. Statistics about the park’s aging population and declining school enrollments are not, however, the only way to tell the story of the Adirondacks.

Walk into a Ralph Lauren Home store in New York or Milan this fall and you’ll see, displayed on a library table or console, portfolios of Lake George paintings and guidebooks by Seneca Ray Stoddard.

You’ll also see rustic Adirondack furniture and plaid fabrics given Adirondack names.
The rooms have been installed in stores throughout the United States and Europe to showcase Ralph Lauren’s new collection of furniture and home furnishings, which the company calls “Indian Cove Lodge,” after a mythical Adirondack camp.

It is, to be sure, an idealized version of the Adirondacks. It’s a backdrop for a story playing in Ralph Lauren’s mind, about what, one can only imagine – how Marjorie Merriweather Post spent August, perhaps.

Nevertheless, whoever created these backdrops wanted them to be as authentic as possible. They even contain copies of the Lake George Mirror to link the collection to the Adirondacks. (Last winter, I was told, Black Bass Antiques owner Henry Caldwell and rustic furniture impresario Ralph Kylloe were visited by a team from Ralph Lauren, who spent hours selecting items that would complement the new collection.)

“Snowshoes, antique skis, fishing creels, canoe paddles: they bought a truckload of things,” said Kylloe, who’s furnished Ralph Lauren’s private homes as well as his showrooms for years.

Attention from retailers like Ralph Lauren helps the Adirondack brand remain vital, said Kylloe.

Lisa Foderaro, who frequently covers the Adirondacks for the New York Times, made a similar contribution to that effort last week with a story about Jay Haws’ and Steve Pounian’s Dartbrook Lodge in Keene.

They’ve converted a roadside cottage colony into a retreat that is, Foderaro said, “at once rustic and hip.”

There may be, as Ralph Kylloe suggests, some economic benefits from this kind of exposure in the form of increased tourism.

Other effects may be more problematic, such as a renewed demand for second homes and hence the rising costs of housing for year-round residents.

Another potential effect – and whether it’s a negative or positive one will depend upon your perspective – is a new constituency for the protection of he Adirondacks.
But at the very least, campaigns like these broaden awareness of the Adirondacks, and if those anecdotes about Albany’s lack of awareness of the region are true, that’s as necessary now as it ever was.

Photo: Indian Cove Lodge bedside table.


Friday, September 18, 2009

RPI Undergraduates to Live, Study on Lake George

RPI’s Darrin Fresh Water Institute has a global reputation for pathbreaking research on zebra mussels, acid rain, milfoil and water quality.

Now its researchers are teaching environmental science to RPI undergraduates who are living and working at the Bolton Landing facility.

It’s the first time since RPI opened the field station on Lake George in the 1980s that the university has offered a full semester of course work to undergraduates at the site.

According to Chuck Boylen, the Darrin Fresh Water Institute’s associate director, the Institute’s mission has always included education, but a lack of dormitory space made it impossible to accommodate undergraduate programs.

That defect was remedied in 2003, when RPI converted a 19th century summer cottage on the property into a year-round education and research facility, with a state-of-the art computing center, space for lectures and films and rooms for visiting scholars and students.

While some of the undergraduates participating in the semester on Lake George are commuting to Bolton Landing from RPI’s Troy campus, others are now occupying those rooms.

“We’ve expanded the RPI campus to include Bolton Landing,” said Sandra Nierzwicki-Bauer, the institute’s executive director.

The rooms’ rustic décor is certainly a departure from that of the usual dorm rooms, said Nicole Nolan. “Mine is moose-themed,” she said.

As on any campus, the students spend a significant amount of time in the laboratories and classrooms. But they also spend equal amounts of time on Lake George.

That’s one of the aspects of the program that attracted Kelsey Cote. “I had intended to be a cell biologist, but I realized that spending my life in a lab was not something I wanted to do,” she said.

“The students do field work, work with graduate students on individual research projects , do lab work with sophisticated technology and get exposed to environmental conservation organizations and agencies,” said Nierzwicki-Bauer. “That’s what we offer. It’s a great opportunity for the kids.”

The program’s blend of theory and practice makes it an especially strong one, said Chuck Boylen.

This year’s semester is essentially a pilot project for what Boylen and Nierzwicki-Bauer hopes will become a multi-disciplinary program serving large numbers of students every year.

To read more news from Lake George, read the Lake George Mirror