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    Warren County Watch
    A twice-a-month column by Maury Thompson about economic development, business and quality of life in Warren County
    Let it snow -- at ski areas
    Snowmakers are busy putting fresh snow on already-open terrain including Lower Sleighride, Wild Air, Pot Luck, and The Arena, as well as expanding to new terrain like Lower Sunway and Otter Slide at Gore Mountain Ski Resort. Management is enthusiastic about the upcoming weather forecast.
    "Our snowmakers are happy. What about you?" management of the state-owned ski center in Johnsburg asked on Facebook.
    In Warren County, snow on the mountains -- natural or manmade -- means that revenue is piling up at Gore Mountain and at West Mountain Ski Area in Queensbury.
    Downhill skiing is a significant segment of the winter tourism economy, and having downhill ski centers close by contributes to the quality of life that makes Warren County a great place to work and live.
    Gore Mountain opened for the season Nov. 18, and West Mountain is expected to open Dec. 16 (weather permitting). Off-season improvements were made at both ski centers.
    Olympic Regional Development Authority, which operates Gore Mountain, renovated and expanded Saddle Lodge, increasing occupancy capacity from 100 to 238 people.
    The gondola unloading station at Straight Brook Lodge at Gore Mountain summit was renovated, and 136 snow-making guns were replaced.
    At West Mountain, "The Cure," a steep trail from the early 1970s, was widened and restored, with added snow making.
    The improvement will help management recruit more competitive ski events.
    New snowmaking equipment was installed, and the lodge on the northwest side of the ski center was gutted and cleaned, and new carpeting installed, a first step toward increased utilization of that section of the ski center.
    "Capital improvements and new off-season activities, such as mountain biking and hiking in the summer and a new fall festival, enabled West Mountain to keep staff on year round," said Spencer Montgomery, co-owner.
    "Those aren't big ticket items for us," Montgomery said, referring to new summer and fall activities. "But it kept us open and in the public eye."
    "Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce, too, is emphasizing year-round activity, by promoting businesses that stay open through the winter," said Amanda Metzger, the chamber's marketing director.
    "We are dedicated to getting the word out that not everything shuts down in the winter," she said.
    Part of that strategy is a promotion in which shoppers get a "passport" stamped or signed when they visit participating small businesses in Lake George, Bolton Landing, Warrensburg and Stony Creek.
    The promotion runs through Dec. 10. Nine businesses were set to participate, as of Nov. 17, and more businesses were expected to be added.
    Passport forms are available at the chamber of commerce office or can be downloaded from the chamber website: lakegeorgechamber.com.
    In other Warren County economic development, business and quality-of-life news:
    Map to solitude
    Lake George Land Conservancy announced it has partnered with Adirondack Atlas to create an online map of the conservancy's preservation areas and hiking trails.
    Layers will be added to show locations of nearby restaurants, hotels and gas stations.
    "The Lake George region will host "Trilogy," a newly-recruited youth lacrosse tournament with about 70 competitors, June 30 - July 2," said Kristen Hanifin, special events and convention sales director for the Lake George Visitors and Convention Bureau of Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce.
    Games will be at Golden Goal Park in Fort Ann, and families of athletes will stay at hotels in Queensbury, Glens Falls and Lake George.
    The tournament is the latest in a growing number of youth sports tournaments the bureau has been booking -- a tourism niche called "sportscations" because families plan vacations around youth sporting events.
    Hanifin said she is brainstorming ways to promote local attractions to families coming to sports tournaments, such as conceivably offering purchase of a three-day pass to Great Escape theme park so families can come and go in between their child's games during a tournament.
    Hanifin said she also has booked several new convention and meeting groups for 2018.
    "I've got things booking into 2019, 20 and 21," she said. "The hotels know that they actually have it on their books, whether it's this year, next year, or three years from now."
    Progress is a process
    There is an old riddle that motivational speakers recite: "How do you eat an elephant? -- One bite at a time."
    I'm reminded of that adage in the context of Glens Falls infrastructure improvements over the past three administrations.
    I was speaking with former Mayor Bob Regan, mayor 1998 - 2005, Nov. 9 at the reception for outgoing Mayor Jack Diamond at The Queensbury Hotel.
    I reminded Bob of an infrastructure improvement plan his administration prepared for all of the city's major traffic arteries.
    "Dix Avenue is the only one from the plan that is still to be completed," I said.
    Warren Street was done under the Regan administration, Glen Street and Bay Street under Mayor Roy Akins' administration.
    Diamond has overseen infrastructure improvements on South Street, Broad Street, Hudson Avenue and Ridge Street. That leaves Dix Avenue for incoming Mayor Dan Hall.
    Maury's musing
    I watched the 2004 movie "The Polar Express" for the first time on a motor coach trip to New York City on Nov. 18.
    It was a more artistic offering than my introduction to Larry the Cable Guy comedy videos on a previous motor coach trip.
    The Polar Express conductor has an insightful line at the conclusion of the movie: "One thing about trains, it doesn't matter where they're going. What matters is deciding to get on."
    Warren County has long had a diverse economy.
    An umbrella, cigar and garment factories of years long ago have been replaced by modern medical device plants, an entertainment information listing service, technology service companies and a packaged water company.
    Long-standing manufacturers of paper, silver nitrate products and cement are still in business.
    Warren County continues to be a place to ride any one of diverse entrepreneurial trains to success.
    The key is to get on board.
    Maury Thompson is a former newspaper reporter who retired from The Post-Star after 21 years covering the region.
    He keeps his finger on the pulse of economic development, business and quality of life in Warren County by writing a twice-a-month column for EDC Warren County. 
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