Mark your calendars, because in less than a year, the 2014 Winter Olympics will begin. So, it's a good time to announce that the Lake Placid News will once again send a reporter to cover the games firsthand - this time to Sochi, Russia.
The photojournalist credential is approved, a hotel room is in the works, and while there's still more work to do, there's some thank yous in order. Mainly to the Charles B. Decker Memorial Scholarship, named for a former editor of the sister paper of the LPN, the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, who died at a young age. The scholarship is providing much-needed funding for this venture.
So thank you to the Decker family, the fund's trustees, its donors and its administrators at the Adirondack Community Trust, as well as the Saranac Lake Rotary Foundation for facilitating the grant.
For 22 years, Decker scholarships have only been given to high school graduates to study journalism (preferably print) in a university. This year, however, the trustees decided to do something different, something that benefits more than just one local person at a time. They adapted it to give a local reporter the opportunity to do something he's never done before - and in so doing, to connect our local Olympians with the thousands of people who are proud of them, connecting them across the globe via the LPN and ADE.
To fit within the spirit of the Decker Scholarship, the reporter who received the grant had to have never covered the Olympics before. Therefore, it couldn't be Senior Sports Writer Lou Reuter, who covered the games for the local papers in 2002 and 2010.
So going to the Winter Games will be Mike Lynch, the LPN and ADE sports and outdoors writer who has covered Winter Olympic sports since 2006, covers them regularly in Lake Placid and covers local Olympic hopefuls abroad. A year from now, Mike will be more than 5,000 miles away in the Caucasus Mountain resort town of Krasnaya Polyana, telling readers about our local competitors in biathlon, ski jumping, nordic combined, luge, bobsled among others.
Why does the local paper bother going to such lengths? The Associated Press would give thorough coverage to our local athletes if they win medals (Bill Demong and Andrew Weibrecht in 2010) but not to the ones in the middle of the pack.
For those in and around Lake Placid, the Winter Olympics may mean more than they do anywhere else in the world, and the Olympians going to Sochi are our neighbors and friends. They're working incredibly hard to reach their goal.
So in addition to the Decker Scholarship folks, thank you to our local Olympians and Olympic hopefuls who have devoted themselves to competing at the highest level in the world. Most people wouldn't imagine that our small, rural area regularly sends so many athletes to every Winter Olympics, but this is a rare place, a special place where the Winter Olympic spirit burns especially bright. A place that can send 12 Olympians to a single games, as this area did to Vancouver, should send a reporter.
The LPN is also grateful to our readers and advertisers - you keep this small, local weekly newspaper going. We do it all for you.
We also think of Charlie Decker. A Saranac Lake native, who played a critical role in the 1980 Winter Olympics here in Lake Placid, putting in long days and nights to pull together the Daily Olympic Digest. He was called up the chain by Ogden Newspapers to work at two of the LPN's parent company's West Virginia papers, but then returned and became
managing editor of the ADE in 1983. He left in 1986 to be state editor at the Watertown Daily Times, being promoted to assistant managing editor in 1989.
He was only 34 years old when he died of a stroke in 1991 in Watertown. He'd most likely be pleased to hear that the LPN will continue its Olympic tradition.