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UP CLOSE: Meet Anita Estling, Lake Placid’s new village clerk

October 6, 2017
By ANTONIO OLIVERO - Staff Writer ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - When Brooklynite Anita Estling vacationed at her grandmother's Vermontville home as a child, despite her love for the urban jungle that is New York City, she appreciated the beauty of the Tri-Lakes region.

She was born and raised in the Windsor Terrace neighborhood, a small, often-forgotten slice of northwest Brooklyn that abuts the equivalent of the borough's wild urban oasis: the 526-acre Prospect Park, which opened in 1867.

Despite its beauty and relative lack of crowds compared to Manhattan's Central Park, jaunts into Prospect Park didn't compare to time spent in the wilderness of Vermontville for the young Estling in the 1980s. She can still vividly remember the smell of the Adirondack outdoors when opening the car door after the 512-mile drive from Windsor Terrace.

Article Photos

Anita Estling stands outside the North Elba Town Hall on Sept. 26, several days before she assumed the full-time role as Lake Placid village clerk.
(News photo — Antonio Olivero)

"But I never expected to live here," Estling said. "As I got older, I was more drawn to the area and ready to leave the city.

"I still love the city, but it's not where I want to be every day and not where I want to raise my son. So, with that connection here, it seemed like a natural place to try."

After a couple of decades working within the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple, Estling finally gave the Adirondacks a try in 2009. With the encouragement of her husband Rhan, who Estling said is "the more adventurous" of the two, their family made that move to Saranac Lake nearly a decade ago. Their decision came after Rhan saw the love Estling had for the area on his first trip to the Tri-Lakes. He recommended the relocation.

Soon after, the couple had their son Mason, who is now 6 years old. And the family is complete with Estling's three beloved Pomeranians: Turk and Robin - who both completed the Tupper Lake Triad hiking challenge with Estling - and the newest of the bunch, Tiny.

"They are perfect studio dogs. Their big bright eyes and fluffy bodies I find adorable," Estling said, "but they happen to be good snow dogs as well. They are actually bred down from larger dogsled dogs."

Eight years and several North Country jobs since the move, Estling recently began serving as Lake Placid's village clerk, a position she has some direct experience for after serving as Lake Placid Mayor Craig Randall's part-time administrative assistant in recent years preceded by her time in similar roles at Planned Parenthood of the North Country, St. Joseph's Rehabilitation Center and Franklin-Essex-Hamilton BOCES.

But along with that and her ties to the Adirondacks, Estling also has a career's worth of experience in similar administrative assistant and public relations and communications work from her time in New York City.

And at the heart of that experience in Manhattan includes several years working as the communications manager and administrative assistant to the vice president and editor-in-chief for PC Magazine.

That experience at PC Magazine came during the rapidly changing times that was the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s, when the personal computer, technology and internet industries saw rapid growth. Yet there was also the irony of a monumental change in business for a print publication, especially one covering the industry that was changing the face and disrupting the future of print mediums such as magazines.

When Estling started with PC Magazine a few years after she graduated with a bachelor's degree in business administration from midtown Manhattan's Baruch College, she worked in the research department during the height of the internet bubble. There was much excitement, as computers were still new enough that she vividly remembers how big of a deal it was when the magazine covered a market research study that was foretelling of the future of online commerce.

"It must have been in the mid-'90s - that 3 percent of people were doing their holiday shopping online," Estling said. "At the time, that was unbelievable, that people were buying things online. We thought, 'Who would enter their credit card on the computer? To trust the process of something ending up at your door.'"

The personal computer and technology industries were seeing seismic shifts and leaps into the unknown future, and during that time Estling worked with several people who would go on to seize the business opportunities that came with the internet, such as one fellow who went on to be part of the group that started Amazon.

"It was really interesting," Estling said. "There were smart, techie people around all day. It was a fun time to be in that industry."

But as quickly as the evolving personal computer industry became fun, some at PC Magazine, like many other companies, were tentative to adapt.

"I can remember my mother retiring at that time because she at her age didn't want a PC on her desk. It was so foreign to her," Estling said. "But to young people, it was exciting. That's where things were heading."

Things for PC Magazine were also heading toward the internet and tough financial times, like many print-based publications. Operations shrank and business suffered all while technology seemed to also be helping the company.

"I remember how big of a deal it was when my bosses got Blackberries," Estling said. "'You can carry everything in your pocket and have it there with you all the time?' There were a lot of changes and excitement those years."

As PC Magazine went strictly online, Estling moved on as well, she and Rhan eventually finding their way to the Adirondacks. She and Mason enjoy cross-country skiing, which they tried for the first time last winter. Estling also completed her Saranac Lake 6er hiking challenge this summer, finishing at the 3,961-foot summit of Mount McKenzie, the iconic saddle-back peak that separates her home in Saranac Lake and her workplace in Lake Placid. When people finish their sixth peak, they ceremoniously ring the 6er bell at the Berkeley Green gazebo in downtown Saranac Lake. It's a highlight Estling will always remember.

"It was exhilarating," Estling said. "I did it with a girlfriend, and it was just so fun to check off each mountain as we did them to feel accomplishment.

"Then we went down and we met our husbands and kids and rang the bell together."



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