Wednesday, December 31, 2008

JANUARY POLL: BONA'S LEGACY

We just completed our first-ever monthly poll on this website. December's survey asked folks what they thought about the town of Royalton's budget. Here's what they said...

Too big: 50%
Too small: 27%
Just right: 11%
Undecided: 11%

January's survey asks your opinion of Paul Bona's legacy at Roy-Hart. It's a timely question because with his retirement looming at the end of the school year the district is in the process of finding his replacement. The three finalists will be meeting with the public in January.

It will be interesting to see how the survey pans out. Roy-Hart issues always seem to be the most popular on this website and the concerned parents and taxpayers either love the guy or hate the guy.

Monday, December 29, 2008

MOTHER NATURE'S FURY

Snowbirds: you missed a fun weekend here in Gasport!

On Friday and Saturday we experienced a major thaw and a lot of rain. Some spots in Niagara County had nearly 1.5" inch of rain, others had annecdotal reports of 3". Coupled with the melting of 18" of snow, that really satuarated the area. Red Creek flooded so badly it was just a foot and a half away from Wheeler Road at one point...and sump pumps were running continuously.

On Sunday we were smacked with hurricane force winds. Trees and power lines snapped everywhere and the police scanner was alive with calls for downed lines and out-of-service traffic lights everywhere. I drove around to take a look and found a tree across Dale Road at Red Creek, littered yards, a half-dozen calf huts blown into a hedgerow 1/2 of a mile from their farm, and the power poles on Orangeport Road playing jump rope with the power lines.


The Lockport US&J reports....

WEATHER: High winds whip through area, leaving damage, outages

Winds of up to 60 mph tore through Niagara County on Sunday, leaving behind some property damage and more than 2,000 customers without power in the city and Town of Lockport.

A number of trees knocked over and uprooted by the wind fell onto houses, a garage and into the street. Branches, garbage cans and all kinds of materials blew through the streets for most of the day Sunday.

The National Weather Service issued a high wind warning for all of Niagara County that expired at 8 p.m. Sunday. A warning is issued when sustained winds of 40 mph are expected for at least an hour and with gusts of 58 mph or greater at any time. The service said a powerful cold front crossed the state Sunday morning and continued to the East Coast throughout the day. That brought the damaging winds, mostly from the southwest, which diminished some a little later in the evening. Gusts were expected to continue through the evening before dying out overnight. The National Weather Service clocked the highest winds in Western New York at about 75 miles per hour at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

There is also a flood warning from the weather service for today for some areas around Tonawanda Creek at Batavia and Rapids. Those areas include North Amherst, North Clarence, Royalton and Newstead. The service said the warning started Sunday night and continues into Tuesday night. Water levels are expected to reach at least 16 feet and could close roads such as Millersport Highway and Tonawanda Creek Road. Tonawanda Creek was expected to rise above 12 feet at midnight Sunday and reach 15 feet by Tuesday morning.

The Niagara County Sheriff’s Department released a statement asking motorists to be extra cautious while driving on county roads. “The combination of melting snow and rainfall over the last 24 hours has caused flooding problems throughout the county,” the statement read. Signs and barricades are being posted in areas where flooding is possible. Drivers should watch out for standing water in roadways and avoid driving in flooded areas. The department said the roads that could have flooding problems are Drum Road in Hartland, the village of Middleport, Riddle and Simms Roads in Royalton, Royal Parkway in Lockport and Wheatfield-Pendleton Townline Road in Pendleton.


To read the entire article, go here:

http://www.lockportjournal.com/local/local_story_364000428.html

Sunday, December 28, 2008

GASPORT'S BIGGEST STORIES OF 2008

With 2008 coming to a close, it’s time to reflect on what happened this year. What do you think were the biggest stories of the year in Gasport during 2008?

Was it….

The crime spree

St. Mary’s closing

Paul Bona announcing his retirement

Another successful Royalton Fourth of July

The new assessments in Royalton

New businesses: Chops Shop Pizza, White Pines Nursery and the return of Udder Delights

The theft of money from Hartland bingo

$323,000 in Medicaid fraud from a Gasport businesswoman

The furor over the size of kindergarten classes

The 20-point buck taken in Gasport

Royalton increasing employees’ wage and benefits

Marcy Cole’s arrests and court proceedings

The MRSA scare at Roy-Hart

Voters approving the $8 million renovations of the Roy-Hart schools

January’s lockdown at Roy-Hart because of a gun threat


Or, was it another news story?

All of these newsy items – and more – can be read about it in the archives of this blog.

There are far too many events to add to the survey function of this website, so please feel free to use the comment tool to share your thoughts with everyone.

ANOTHER ROBBERY IN GASPORT

Just after 6:00 AM today there was a call on the police scanner to Orangeport Road where an individual witnessed someone breaking into his neighbor's garage and stealing a motorcycle.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

SUICIDE IN ROYALTON

The holiday season can, for many people, be the most depressing time of the year. Add to that the financial stress of the global recession and it has become even more difficult for some. Such depression came forth in our fair town today...just after 1:40 PM there was a call on the police scanner to Royalton Center Road for a hanging. The outcome may not have been good as it was heard on air that the individual was in cardiac arrest. Keep that person's family in your prayers!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

St. MARY'S SCENE FINDS NEW HOME IN LOCKPORT

The Lockport US&J reports....

Helen Burdett, 85, is still a bit unsettled with the Diocese of Buffalo merger that meant St. Mary’s of Gasport became part of St. John the Baptist, but now she is a part of the Catholic Church on Chestnut Street. The mother of four had been a member of St. Mary’s since it was dedicated in 1968.

Ten years later, she created a nativity set for the small church on West Avenue. With the merger, Burdett offered the nativity set to St. John’s, but didn’t know if the city’s largest Catholic parish would have a place for it.

It turns out, there is a proper place for it. Her work is on display in a window cove to the left of the pulpit. “When I looked at it on Sunday, I was so surprised,” she said. “I was hoping St. John’s would accept it, and they did. I was happy. It has a home.”

Burdett started the project 30 years ago with three pieces, Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus. She pictured a spot for the Holy Family in front of St. Mary’s and went to work. She found the raw pieces at a shop in Clarence, where they were baked in a large oven. It was a mess when she started, and the pieces had to be cleaned of excess clay, sanded and painted. She wanted them done for Christmas 1977.

“I got hepatitis from making those three and I didn’t know if I would ever finish it,” she said. “I must have 20 coats of spray on them, every morning, every night and in between. I did that in the house, and I didn’t know the effects. The next year, I was smarter. I did them outside.”

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver and it can be caused by one of many things — including by a toxin in the air.

Burdett found the rest of pieces for the nativity the next year. “They OK’d me and it was all right,” she said. “I didn’t have to be hospitalized and I went ahead and got the rest of them.”

The ceramic set has sheep and shepherds, kings and camels, a stable and crib on straw, plus an angel overlooking Bethlehem.


To the read the entire article, go here:

http://www.lockportjournal.com/local/local_story_359235535.html

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

PROSPECT STREET RR CROSSING TO STAY OPEN

I (and many others) just received this e-mail from Senator Maziarz's office...

Dear Friend,

You may have heard that the NYS Department of Transportation was thinking of closing the rail crossings at Orchard Street in Middleport and Prospect Street in Gasport to vehicular traffic.

I'm very pleased to report to you that this is not going to happen.

Last year many local residents spoke out against these closings because they would have disrupted traffic patterns and made it more difficult for first responders and law enforcement officials to respond to emergencies.

Fortunately, the bureaucracy at the DOT has seen it our way and relented. We successfully convinced them that keeping these crossings open was in the public's best interest.

Sincerely,

George Maziarz
Senator, 62nd District

P.S. I hope this good news finds you well this holiday season. Please accept my best wishes for a healthy and happy 2009!

TALK OF THE TOWN BURGALRIZED

The Niagara County Sheriff's Department reports that overnight Sunday someone broke into the Talk of the Town restaurant and stole $150 in cash from the register. The damage to the door and door frame is estimated at $240.

If you saw anything suspicious call the Sheriff's Department at 438.3393.

Monday, December 22, 2008

TODAY'S HARTLAND POLICE BLOTTER

DISPUTE: A Hartland Road man reported Friday afternoon that his landlord took the keys out of his snowmobile. The landlord had reportedly told the man snowmobiles were not allowed on the premises, and when the man went to move the snowmobile, he found the keys, worth about $25, had been stolen. The man did not wish to press charges, he just wanted to keys back, the report said. The landlord returned the keys after deputies arrived.

HARASSMENT: A Ridge Road man reported Wednesday morning that he received a phone call from a man he is involved in legal action with. The caller reportedly told the man, “I have friends, and I will shoot your lawyer.” He also reportedly mentioned knowing where the man lived and threatened to damage his business.

COLE IS ONE OF YEAR'S TOP STORIES

The Lockport US&J is running their Top 10 Stories of 2008. Coming in at #10...the Marcy Cole saga...

http://www.lockportjournal.com/local/local_story_356225120.html

Sunday, December 21, 2008

ABSOLUT OF GASPORT IS A 3-STAR NURSING HOME

Medicare recently launched an addition to its website where the federal government shares its assessment of the more than 16,000 nursing homes in the USA. It's done in a 5-star rating system. Nationally, 12% of all homes got a 5-star rating while 22% received a lowly 1. The remaining 66% were evenly distributed among 2, 3, and 4 stars.

Gasport's nursing home -Absolut - received a 3-star rating. It got 4/5 on health inspections, 2 out of 5 for staffing, and 1 out of 5 for quality measures.

To see the system, go www.medicare.gov

Friday, December 19, 2008

RTE. 77 IS OPEN AGAIN

Route 77 opened back up at 7:15.

TRACTOR TRAILER OVERTURNS ON RTE. 77

There have been numerous vehicles heading into the ditches today. The biggest snow-storm-created mess so far: around 2:30 a tractor trailer overturned on Rte. 77 near Royalton Center. So, if you need to travel that way, find an alternate route.

THE SHORT LIST FOR BONA'S REPLACEMENT

The Buffalo News updates us on the quest to find Paul Bona's replacement...

The Royalton- Hartland School Board has selected three final candidates for superintendent. The three finalists are Joseph Hochreiter, deputy superintendent of the Elmira City School District; Thomas Manko, superintendent of York Central School District; and Kevin MacDonald, assistant superintendent of Orleans-Niagara Board of Cooperative Educational Services.

Each finalist will meet all day with teachers, PTA leaders, district boosters, students, staff and administrators the week of Jan. 19. Community sessions with similar opportunities for input are scheduled for Jan. 20, 22 and 23 from 5:30 until 6:15 p. m. for the various candidates, district officials said Wednesday. One candidate will be available each evening.

“The board is very pleased with the quality of the 18 applications that were received,” School Board President Patricia Riegle said in a prepared release. “The three finalists have the desired professional qualifications and attributes that the Board is seeking for this critical leadership position.”

The new superintendent will replace Paul J. Bona, who is set to retire June 30 after being the district’s chief educational officer for the past 10 years.

Those with questions can call search consultant Clark Godshall, Orleans-Niagara BOCES superintendent and superintendent search consultant, at (800) 836-7510, Ext. 2201.

JOHNSON CREEK HOME DESTROYED BY FIRE

A fire that may have started in a wood-burning stove destroyed a home at 3116 Johnson Creek Road on Tuesday, Hartland Assistant Fire Chief Thomas Sullivan said Thursday. Hartland volunteers fought the blaze with volunteers from Gasport, Middleport and Barker after firefighters were called to the scene at 5 p. m.

Allen K. Sliger, the homeowner, and his family were not home when the fire started, Sullivan said. The fire appeared to have started in the rear of the house. Sullivan said the family told firefighters they had left ashes in the wood-burning stove, though the cause remains under investigation. The Red Cross is providing help to the family.

Smoke and water damage to the structure was estimated at $90,000.

GASPORT BINGO IS CANCELLED

Now you know the weather is bad: Friday night Bingo at the fire hall has been cancelled.

SNOW DAY AT ROY-HART

School is cancelled today in anticipation of the big storm.

Here's the storm warning....

Today: Snow and areas of blowing snow, mainly after 11am. The snow could be heavy at times. Some thunder is also possible. High near 26. East wind between 10 and 18 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. Total daytime snow accumulation of 6 to 10 inches possible.

Tonight: Snow and areas of blowing snow, mainly before 10pm. Low around 12. Wind chill values as low as -1. Blustery, with a northeast wind 18 to 21 mph decreasing to between 10 and 13 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

HARTLAND BINGO THIEF GETS PROBATION

The Buffalo News reports....

A woman who stole $8,554 from the Hartland Volunteer Fire Company’s bingo receipts to finance her gambling activities was placed on five years’ probation Tuesday and ordered to pay back the money during that period.

Niagara County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III said Lee Ann Smith, 46, of Ridge Road, Hartland, must pay at least $150 per month and continue with counseling for gambling addiction. She must avoid Internet gambling sites and buying lottery tickets as conditions of probation.

Smith was chairwoman of the bingo games when she skimmed receipts for her own use between Jan. 1 and April 22. She had pleaded guilty to fourth-degree grand larceny. Murphy said he received a letter from the fire company alleging the amount stolen was $9,900, but it was too late to change the restitution amount unless Smith withdrew her guilty plea, which she did not do.


Source: http://www.buffalonews.com/437/story/525590.html

BURGLAR TO GET JAIL TIME

One of the young punks who put fear into homeowners all across Gasport this Summer is getting well-deserved jail time.

The Buffalo News reports....


LOCKPORT — An East High Street teenager hasn’t pleaded guilty, but Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza let him know Tuesday he is facing hard prison time for a spree of burglaries and auto thefts in Lockport, Gasport and Middleport this fall.

Sperrazza told Dennis Schultz, 17, that she has ruled out youthful offender status and will not be sentencing him to boot camp-style “shock incarceration.” Schultz is charged with breaking into five houses and a shed and stealing six cars.

Deputy District Attorney Doreen M. Hoffmann offered Schultz the opportunity to wrap up the case by pleading guilty before indictment to two Class D felonies and one Class E felony. The case was adjourned until Jan. 7 so Schultz could think about it. Sperrazza said she would consider concurrent sentencing on the multiple counts, which would make the maximum term seven years.

Assistant Public Defender Michael E. Benedict said co-defendant Benjamin Stump, 19, of Washburn Street, has been offered a plea to two Class D felonies. Hoffmann said Stump participated in all the burglaries but just two of the auto thefts, both of which were connected with burglaries.

Source: http://www.buffalonews.com/437/story/525589.html

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

NEW YEARS EVE IN HARTLAND

Are you looking to party close to home this New Year's Eve? You need look no further than the Hartland Fire Hall. For $25 you'll get to hear a band while stuffing your face at a buffet. Doors open at 6:00 and dinner starts at 7:00. For tickets, stop by the Hartland Fire Hall this Thursday night.

CREEP GETS 18 YEARS OUT OF ROYALTON ASSUALT

The Buffalo News reports on a criminal who sexually assaulted a Royalton girl and was rewarded with 2 more years in jail instead of receiving sex offender status. I think he deserved the label...


Kenneth B. Rouse, 26, who was charged with stabbing a Lockport man in the chest during a break-in at the victim’s home and also with sexually assaulting an adolescent Royalton girl in her home, pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary and attempted third-degree burglary.

Rouse was promised a sentence of 18 years in prison by Judge Matthew J. Murphy III, who accepted the recommendation of Assistant District Attorney Robert A. Zucco. The prison term will be followed by five years of post-release supervision. Last week, Zucco gave Rouse two choices: a 16-year prison term for pleading guilty to first-degree burglary in the Lockport case and attempted first-degree sexual abuse in the Royalton case.

Or, Zucco said, if Rouse wanted to avoid registering as a sex offender — and 25 years of post-release supervision — he could choose a plea of attempted third-degree burglary in the Royalton matter and take an 18-year prison term. That’s what Rouse chose Monday.

However, after closed-door talks Monday among Murphy, Zucco and defense attorney David C. Douglas, the terms were tweaked. Even though Rouse took the 18-year option, Murphy agreed to cut the sentence to 16 years if Rouse gives prosecutors some information on another case.


The article goes on to describe how he violated the girl....


Rouse...entered a home on Akron Road in Royalton on Jan. 18 and sexually assaulted a girl who let him into the home after being tricked into believing Rouse had been sent by the girl’s mother.


Source: http://www.buffalonews.com/cityregion/niagaracounty/story/524573.html

COMPTROLLER'S AUDIT OF ROY-HART NOW AVAILABLE

The higly-anticipated audit of the Royalton-Hartland school district from State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's office was released today. The 13-page document can be downloaded here:

http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/schools/2008/royaltonhartland.pdf

DiNapoli's exceutive summary says this was Roy-Hart's biggest flaw:


Internal Controls Over Student Transportation Services

The district did not monitor transportation services or the fuel delivered to the transportation vendor’s facility. District officials did not compare the information on the monthly invoices submitted by the transportation vendor to the daily vehicle inspection reports to determine if the amounts billed were accurate. In addition, the vendor used the district-contracted buses to transport district students and students from neighboring districts on shared bus routes to the same academic locations outside of the district. The vendor billed all the districts for these shared bus routes. However, the district incurred the cost of the fuel used on the eight shared bus routes. The cost was not charged to any of the other four districts and there was nothing in the contract to indicate that the district will be reimbursed or otherwise credited for the fuel used on the shared bus routes.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

RESIDENCY DRAMA AT ROY-HART

Here is a story from the Lockport US&J about a residency problem for two students wanting to play for Roy-Hart's basketball team.....


Harringtons appealing to state, R-H board
Gasport man wants his daughters to return to school immediately

The fate of two Gasport student-athletes who have been refused residency and denied registration into the Royalton-Hartland School District may be in the hands of that district’s Board of Education, while an appeal is being launched with the state.

In a letter to the district board, dated Wednesday, Kevin Harrington of 7963 Telegraph Road, said he’s appealing to the New York Education Department in Albany to allow his twin daughters, Jenna and Kim, to attend nearby Roy-Hart High School.

“I have been informed by my attorney, Jay Pletcher, that the (R-H) school board has the power to enact their own stay, which will enable the twins to attend school immediately, pending the outcome of the appeal which I have initiated,” the letter states. “I am appealing to the board members to enact this stay so that my daughters will be allowed to enter school immediately. They have already missed 19 school days (and 27 days overall) and my concern is that this appeal could take weeks. I have also been informed by my attorney that no school board member can be held liable either individually or as a group, by initiating their own stay, pending the appeal process.”

The unusual and bitter dilemma has already taken its toll on the twin juniors, who have missed the last four-plus weeks of public school as a result. Harrington said he’s been trying to enroll his daughters at Roy-Hart since mid-November. However, their efforts at gaining admittance into Roy-Hart have hit one brick wall after another and they’re currently being tutored privately at their father’s expense.

School Superintendent Paul Bona said the issue is “primary residency” and whether or not the family has provided the documentation to prove it. “The issue is you have to demonstrate primary residency in the school district you are to attend. If you cannot demonstrate primary residency, you can pay tuition as an option and many people elect to do that — it depends on the avenue the family wants to take,” Bona said. “The district has retained the services of council to help make this determination. The issue is — and we won’t stray from that — is where is the primary residency — and by definition it’s your legal residence — where you pay your taxes.”

Kevin Harringtons is currently renting at his new residence and counters by saying if his girls are not eligible for enrollment at R-H because he does not pay R-H district school taxes, so is every other R-H student whose parents and/or guardians are renting.

And the frustrations over a matter that should have taken days instead of weeks to resolve have been mounting slowly, but surely over the past month. Two weeks ago, Bona asked Kevin Harrington to sign an agreement stating that his daughters — outstanding student-athletes at Lockport High School for the past several years — would be allowed into the Roy-Hart district only if they, “agree not to seek membership on this season’s Royalton-Hartland Central School District basketball team.” On the advice of his attorney, Kevin Harrington said he’s refused to sign such a document and adds that he’s complied with every residency requirement asked of him.

Bona said the case remains in the hands of attorneys on both sides.“I can’t litigate the case with you in the newspaper. Under rules of confidentiality, I can’t say anything because it’s in the hands of counsel,” Bona said.

Harrington said he’s further mystified by a morning visit paid to his home on Tuesday of this week by board vice president Dan Bragg and Bona. The twins were sleeping at the time of the visit, but were awaken by members of the family and talked briefly to Bragg. However, less than two hours after the board member talked to the girls and reportedly told them they might be back in school within days, the Harrington family received a letter in the mail from Roy-Hart school district attorneys Norton, Radin, Hoover and Freedman stating the girls are not entitled to attend Roy-Hart.

“If they knew we were going to be denied, what was the purpose of that visit?” Kevin Harrington asked.

Bona acknowledged he made a personal visit to the Harrington home on Telegraph Road, but said he remained in an automobile while Bragg entered the residence and added that he did not know the letter had been sent or that it stated the girls were denied enrollment. “I did not physically see the twins, but Mr. Bragg said he did,” Bona said. “He saw the girls, but they still have not determined primary residency. I had requested that a decision be made by our counsel as soon as possible. They said they would make a decision as quickly as possible and get it to the family,” Bona said. “He worked on it and got it out on Monday night’s mail. I was in administrative meetings and in the afternoon on Tuesday, yes, I did go over and ride by the house. I was doing things we need to do to provide information to counsel,” Bona said, adding that he will notify district lawyers that both girls were present at the residence when they visited.

Source: http://www.lockportjournal.com/archivesearch/local_story_345231359.html

Thursday, December 11, 2008

GASPORT STREET VIEWS

Local blogger MJ at http://lockportforum.blogspot.com/ has keenly pointed out that Google Street View is now available for this region, showing detailed pics of local homes and businesses.

A lot of Gasport can be found on the system....and a lot of it can't.

Check it out: http://maps.google.com/help/maps/streetview/index.html



View Larger Map

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

SALVIA: TODAY'S #1 DRUG FOR YOUTH

As a public service to parents of school kids and college students, here's my newspaper column of the week:

SALIVATING OVER SALVIA
By Bob Confer

When drug users quibble over what hallucinogenic drugs create the strongest trips they generally rate LSD as number one, followed closely by Salvia divinorum.

Most everyone is familiar with LSD. It’s a storied substance that routinely makes the headlines, getting a fair amount of well-deserved bad press. On top of that, it’s a Schedule 1 drug that is illegal to manufacture, possess, buy, or distribute in the United States. Despite the image and the laws, in 2006 some 23 million Americans were estimated to have used the drug in their lifetimes.

Salvia, on the other hand, is a relatively unknown drug. It gets almost no major media attention and is legal to distribute and posses in all but a dozen states. You may not know about Salvia, but there’s a very good chance your children do, maybe even intimately.

Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, Salvia is the latest craze in the youth drug culture, quickly becoming the drug of choice. Word about its dissociative abilities has spread like wildfire on the web and kids find themselves amused by – and therefore curious of – its effects after viewing any one of the thousands of Salvia trip videos that are available on YouTube, Google Video, and the like. They’re easily able to see their peers acting erratically, aggressively, and dangerously, even driving while under the influence of the herb. Go online and give it a look. If you have even a modicum of maturity you’ll find these videos disturbing.

The net not only promotes Salvia, but it sells it, too. This makes it ungodly easy for youth to get their mitts on a potent drug. No longer do they have to worry about breaking a law or dealing with questionable and dangerous drug pushers. It’s all just a mouse-click away.

A quick search will show hundreds of internet companies selling Salvia. A relatively cheap high, anyone can buy it for as little as $9 gram to as much as $64 per gram depending on the strength. And, unfortunately, it’s delivered incognito. In most cases it arrives via standard mail in an envelope or as a package from what appears to be a reputable supplement/health company along the lines of GNC. Few parents would question their children on either count.

Because of the congruence of all these factors, use of Salvia has exploded. In the past twelve months alone, over 750,000 have used it for the first time. One online vendor brags that his sales to New York State have increased by 1,000 percent in the past half-year.

Yes, you read that right. The Empire State, usually the state to have more laws than any other, has no restrictions on Salvia. So, there’s a very good chance that high school and college students you know have used the stuff.

This legal impasse is not for a lack of trying. For the past five legislative sessions the State Senate has passed a series of bills that make the sale and or possession of Salvia on offense in New York State. In each and every session the Assembly has put them out to die in committee. This year was no different. Bill S.695, sponsored by Senator Flanagan of Long Island, would make it illegal to peddle the plant in NY. It was overwhelmingly passed by the Senate back in February. Since then, the Assembly has let the bill (as A.610) sit idle in the economic development committee. Other bills, like Senator Maziarz’s attempt to identify Salvia as an LSD-type controlled substance (S.7736) have been met with disdain. That said, it’s imperative that you contact your assemblyperson and ask him or her to support such legislation when it returns to the floor in 2009.

If they fail to make headway yet again, which is likely and unconscionable, it might be up to our local elected officials to succeed where Albany has failed. The county legislators would need only to follow the lead of Suffolk County. There, back in April of this year, it was signed into local law that possession or sale of Salvia in the county is a misdemeanor punishable by a year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.

As long as the laws allow it, kids will continue to use this weed, putting them and their companions in peril. It’s up to you as a parent or friend to make yourself aware of this insidious, easily-acquired drug. With no laws on the books it will be up to you to make law in your home.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

WHERE TO BUY A CHRISTMAS TREE IN GASPORT

If you're looking to get a Christmas tree in Gasport - and I always support "buying local" - you have plenty of good choices in our community. This list is a start...I will add more as I discover other vendors.

Becker Farms: The agricultural theme park on Quaker Road sells freshly cut trees during regular business hours all days of the week.

Merrell's Evergreen Acres: Located on Wruck Road, they offer fresh cut and "you cut", available Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 9 to 5.

Bucolo Greenhouse & Farm: They offer fresh cut trees at the corner of Slayton Settlement and Orangeport Roads. Hours are Mon - Fri, Noon to 8 and Saturdays and Sundays from 9:00 to 4:00

Rickards Tree Nursery: Located on Checkered Tavern Road, halfway between Wheeler and Ellicott, you can pick your own or get a fresh cut from 10 to 4 Friday through Sunday.

Friday, December 5, 2008

LAKE SNOW ADVISORY

Anytime I post a warning or advisory on here it ends up being a lie, so I hestitate in adding this...



NIAGARA-ORLEANS-INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...NIAGARA FALLS...MEDINA

128 PM EST FRI DEC 5 2008...

LAKE EFFECT SNOW ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 6 PM THIS EVENING TO6 AM EST SATURDAY...

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BUFFALO HAS ISSUED A LAKE EFFECT SNOW ADVISORY...WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 6 PM THIS EVENING TO 6 AM EST SATURDAY.

LAKE EFFECT SNOW WILL MOVE INTO THE SOUTHERN PORTIONS NIAGARA ANDORLEANS COUNTY THIS EVENING AND SPREAD ACROSS THE REMAINDER OF THETWO COUNTIES OVERNIGHT. THIS WILL CREATE HAZARDOUS DRIVINGCONDITIONS.

TOTAL ACCUMULATIONS OF 4 TO 7 INCHES ARE EXPECTED WITH THIS LAKE EFFECT SNOW EVENT. IN LAKE EFFECT SNOW THE WEATHER CAN VARY FROM LOCALLY HEAVY SNOWIN NARROW BANDS TO CLEAR SKIES JUST A FEW MILES AWAY. IF YOU WILLBE TRAVELING ACROSS THE REGION BE PREPARED FOR RAPID CHANGES INROAD AND VISIBILITY CONDITIONS. STAY TUNED TO NOAA WEATHER RADIO OR YOUR FAVORITE SOURCE OF WEATHER INFORMATION FOR THE LATESTUPDATES.

ADDITIONAL DETAILS CAN ALSO BE FOUND ATWWW.WEATHER.GOV/BUFFALO.

CHRISTMAS AT THE SCHOOLHOUSE

Christmas at the Schoolhouse will take place this Sunday at the town of Hartland's cobblestone schoolhouse. Festivities begin at 11 a. m. and run until 5 p. m., with a $7 ham dinner, raffles, a 50/50 split, door prizes and Christmas carols sung around a decorative, real tree.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

WINE TRAIL EVENT NEXT TWO WEEKENDS

Vizcarra Vineyards at Becker Farms will be seeing a lot of visitors the next two weekends as a part of a special wine trail event, one that is always the Trail's most popular. Here's the lowdown from the Wine Trail's website:


December 6 & 7 and 13 & 14: Holiday Happening

Second Weekend Added!! Your wine trail ticket is now good for two weekends! Come either weekend or both. Pay one price to taste at all twelve wineries to relax, taste wine and do your holiday shopping!

Collect a Christmas ornament at each winery on the trail while you Celebrate the Season. $35/couple or $20/person receive a commemorative wine glass and ornament (one ornament/couple, while supplies last) at the first winery of your choice and complete the ornament set as you sample wine at each winery along the trail. Ticket includes wine tasting at each winery.

Pre-sale tickets are available now in our online store or at any of these following wineries during the event: Arrowhead Spring Vineyards, Eveningside Vineyards, Freedom Run, Honeymoon Trail, Leonard Oakes, Marjim Manor, Niagara Landing, Schulze Vineyard & Winery, Spring Lake Winery, Vizcarra Vineyards

For more information go to www.niagarawinetrail.org

THE MITTEN TREE

The Lockport US&J has a nice story about the mitten tree, complete with a video of the event. Too see it all, go here:

http://www.lockportjournal.com/local/local_story_337233831.html

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

THE SEARCH FOR BONA'S REPLACEMENT

The Buffalo News reports on the search for Bona's replacement. My first thought: "$150,000??!! Are you kidding me??!!!"



Strong lineup seen for school chief job

It appears the Royalton-Hartland School Board may find a new school superintendent in February to replace the retiring Paul J. Bona. Bona is set to retire June 30 after 10 years at Roy-Hart’s helm.

Clark Godshall, superintendent of the Orleans-Niagara Board of Cooperative Educational Services, is assisting Roy-Hart with its search for a new educational chief. He said last week that things have been moving well and he expects to have a good lineup of candidates for the board to consider within the next 10 days.

“We’ve been advertising for about two months and expect to receive anywhere from 15 to 17 applications by Dec. 5,” the deadline for submissions, Godshall said. “After working on 29 superintendent searches, this is probably one of the strongest pools of candidates I’ve seen. About half of them are experienced school superintendents. I think that’s a very good sign,” Godshall added.

He said he will open and review the applications on Dec. 5. “After that the board will be able to review them and screen the number of candidates down to about six semi-finalists before the holidays and do some interviewing in that time,” Godshall said.

In January, the board will narrow the field to three or four finalists. Then the candidates will come here for a day to speak to stakeholder groups like the teachers and the administrators and meet with the board again. Hopefully, in February, the board will pick a candidate and start negotiating a contract, he said.

He said the board has set the maximum salary at about $150,000, which may include money for fringe benefits. He said salary and benefits will all be up for negotiation.

If all goes well, Godshall said the board should be able to appoint a new superintendent by March 1. He said the new superintendent would probably not be able to start here until June 1 so he or she can give the current district 90 days notice before leaving.

He said he has been working with the various stakeholder groups to develop the questions they need to ask the candidates when they meet with them in January.


Source: http://www.buffalonews.com/cityregion/niagaracounty/story/509975.html

Monday, December 1, 2008

THE HARTLAND SCHOOLHOUSE

The Buffalo News ran a nice story about the Hartland Schoolhouse in Sunday's paper. Here it is...

Restoring a unique history lesson

HARTLAND — The oldest cobblestone one-room schoolhouse in Niagara County — predating the Civil War — will be the site of the annual “Christmas at the Schoolhouse” celebration next Sunday. Owned by the Hartland Historical Society for nearly a decade, preservationists are working hard to restore the District 10 School to its original charm in time for the town’s bicentennial celebration in 2012, Hartland Town Historian Norm LaJoie recently told The Buffalo News. “Christmas in the Schoolhouse” is one of the main fundraisers the group uses each year to help defray the costs of restoring the District 10 School, built in 1845 at Seaman and Carmen roads. The hardy cobblestone building was used as a school for more than a century and, later, as a residence. It currently serves as the Historical Society’s headquarters. Festivities begin at 11 a. m. and run until 5 p. m., with a $7 ham dinner, raffles, a 50/50 split, door prizes and Christmas carols sung around a decorative, real tree, said Kathy Curry, who has served as society president for the past eight years. The society also will have a number of local historical record books on hand for people interested in researching the history of the town and its residents.

The Historical Society has completely restored the roof, added a new furnace, replaced windows and rebuilt a missing chimney. Much of that work fell to Melvin Nichols, a local carpenter and society member. Society members also hired an experienced mason, Charles Dietz of Lockport, and his son, Charlie, to replace exterior cobblestone walls that had been cut away for a picture window and door when the structure served as a residence.

State Sen. George Maziarz, RNewfane, has helped procure grants totaling $10,000, while Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte, D-Lewiston, added a $8,000 grant to help the society complete a great deal of work in the past nine years.

“But we still need the floor to be completely removed and replaced,” LaJoie said. “We need to go down to the dirt and rebuild the beams and then rebuild the floor. We’re looking at pine flooring, characteristic of what we’d see in old schoolhouses.”

Cobblestone buildings are terrifically sturdy with their 14-to 16- inch-thick stone walls, Curry pointed out. “The only thing that’ll take down a cobblestone building is a leak in the roof,” she said.

There are a total of nine cobblestone buildings still in existence in Hartland. All are private residences except for the schoolhouse.

In 1900, there were 18 school districts in town, located every few miles, as the children had to walk to school and back home, LaJoie said. The 37-by-27-foot District 10 School is on the state and national registers of historic places. It operated as a schoolhouse for pupils in kindergarten through grade eight from 1845 to 1947 and stood idle until 1953, when town schools in the area were centralized. The property and its contents were auctioned off and the school became a private residence. In the fall of 1998, the house was made available through the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Historical Society became its new owner in March 1999.

In the old days, families of the children attending local schoolhouses helped finance, build and maintain them, so the more-affluent districts had cobblestone or brick schools and the less-affluent districts had what amounted to wooden shacks, LaJoie explained. The majority were built of wood. There was only one other cobblestone schoolhouse in the town, District 11 on Johnson Creek Road, but it was torn down after years of sitting idle.

In restoring the District 10 schoolhouse to circa 1845, LaJoie said the society must be diligent to keep everything accurate to the period. That includes not hanging a picture of Abraham Lincoln — who was often paired with George Washington in old schoolhouses — because he was not elected president until 16 years after the schoolhouse was built.

Society members are also hunting for “the side-by-side, two-seater desks [on one bench] and slate blackboards — these have been the two hardest things to find,” Curry said. “The only place I’ve seen these desks is on ‘Little House on the Prairie.’ I’ve even gone on eBay, but the two-seater desks I find are one seat in front of the other, not one wide enough for two to sit side-by-side.”

Historians know that District 10 used real slate blackboards. Curry said some of the more financially strapped districts had to use plain boards painted black instead of slate.

“I think the search is the interesting part,” Curry said. “We do have some books that were used in this school. People had them in their basements or attics.”

“And we find them at yard sales,” LaJoie said.

“I can’t wait to have the [former] school kids come in because the stories are what make the school come alive,” said LaJoie, who has interviewed a few people who attended the District 10 school.

LaJoie recorded this memory of a District 10 student from the 1930s: “Children playing, knocked the top off of the old pot belly stove, and the thing rolled down on the floor; then the stovepipes that ran the entire length of the building began to fall. There was dirt all over, clouds of soot rising in the air and hot coals all over the floor. Water from the drinking bucket was poured on the coals and then all was shoveled outside.”

Restoring a 163-year-old cobblestone building can be costly. Society members also run the popular “snack shack” at the Little League games from April until August at the Hartland Town Park, with proceeds going toward the restoration project.

The historical society meets in the schoolhouse at 7 p. m. on the second Monday of each month, with the option of moving the meetings to Hartland Town Hall in January, February and March if the weather is inclement. Anyone is welcome to attend a meeting and join the society, regardless of residency.

Source: http://www.buffalonews.com/cityregion/niagaracounty/story/509124.html

CATCH ME ON THE RESTAINO SHOW THIS THURSDAY

My column for this week's Greater Niagara Newspapers focuses on Obama's assault on the second amendment. As a follow-up, I'll be the guest on The John Restaino Show this Thursday, December 4th from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM on 1440 WJJL. John is a liberal-minded Obama supporter who likes our current restrictive gun laws and wants to see more like them. It should be a good debate.

MONTHLY SURVEY

A new tool has been added to this website...a survey. Most online newspapers have jumped on to this gimmick, so I figured we should, too, addressing issues of importance to Gasport residents. The survey can be found in the right tool bar. This month's survey looks at the town of Royalton's 2009 budget. (Note: I have started from scratch from the survey of earlier this morning. I forgot to add "just right").

Sunday, November 30, 2008

MITTEN TREE CEREMONY THIS TUESDAY

The annual Mitten Tree Gift Drive will kickoff this Tuesday with a 10:00 AM ceremony at the corner of Main St. and Route 31. This program is run by the Gasport Lions Club, Roy-Hart, and Absolut Care of Gasport.

If all holds true to what happened last year, here's the gameplan...

There will be an 8-ft. tall Christmas tree at the corner of Main St. and Route 31 on which will be placed cardboard mittens with the age and gender of needy Gasport kids. To help these kids have a wonderful Christmas, you are to take a mitten, buy a gift and then drop it off (unwrapped), with the mitten attached, at the Gasport elementary school or Absolut Care.

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CONCERT THIS WEDNESDAY

The always entertaining and enjoyable Christmas concert put on by the students of the Elementary School will take place this Wednesday at 7:00 PM...at the high school auditorium.

20 POINT BUCK TAKEN IN GASPORT

In his outdoors report for the Greater Niagara Newspapers, Bill Hilts, Jr. reports on a beast taken in Gasport (photo courtesy www.outdoorsniagara.com)...


Sean Blackley of Custom Whitetail Taxidermy (735-7897) out in Middleport/Hartland area sends word that he took in another Niagara County monster into his shop. This deer, which was taken out in the Gasport area by Tom Wagner of Gasport, had 20 legal points, as well as some smaller ones and a broken drop tine. It should have a gross score in the 180s, a non-typical rack with a four by five main frame and huge mass. The deer weighed 202 pounds field dressed.

According to Wagner, he was walking out to a particular area around 8 a.m. last Saturday morning when he heard some deer coming through. Out came a doe followed by this big buck. They all stopped to look at each other in the lane and Wagner took careful aim with his Winchester 1300 — thanks to some new fiber optic sights he had just installed — and recorded a direct hit on the trophy. Right place at the right time with a little bit of luck. How does that saying go? I rather be lucky than good! While it’s the biggest rack he’s even taken, Wagner did shoot a 10-point that weighed in more than 225 pounds a few years ago.

Source:

http://www.tonawanda-news.com/sports/gnnsports_story_334225947.html

Friday, November 28, 2008

NOVEMBER MINUTES AVAILABLE

The November minutes for the Royalton town council are now online. Among the highlights: lengthy discussions about the town budget and employees' wages/benefits.

See the minutes here:

http://townofroyalton.org/content/MinuteCategories/View/9:field=minutes;/content/Minutes/View/88

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

May everyone who frequents this site have a great Thanksgiving!

For those heading out of town: safe travels!

For those visiting your family and friends in Gasport: welcome back!

THE INCREASE IN THE STATE'S SCHOOL AID IS CUT

The Lockport Union Sun and Journal has a piece about Governor Paterson's "cuts" to school aid...

School districts received a warning from Gov. David Paterson after he withdrew his proposal to cut $836 million of the expected growth in state aid to schools during the current school year. Be prepared for some major cuts in the 2009-10 school year.

“Fiscal management is all about making hard, painful decisions, and the rejection of a mid-year school aid reduction by the Legislature means that deeper declines in funding for school districts will now be necessary in 2009-10 to ensure a balanced budget,” Paterson said.

The governor’s proposal would have decreased the growth in education spending from 9 percent to 5 percent over last year and allowed most school districts to receive an increase from last year. Overall, school aid still would have increased by $1 billion from the previous year, instead of the previously expected $1.8 billion. Paterson sent a letter to superintendents and school board presidents throughout the state Tuesday. The letter was sent to notify the districts that because mid-year reductions were not enacted, Paterson was withdrawing the proposal, and deeper reductions in education spending will be required in next year’s state budget. Paterson was giving advance notice so school districts could plan accordingly as they prepare to work on their budgets for the next school year.


How does this affect Roy-Hart? The article goes on to say....


Royalton-Hartland was facing a mid-year cut of $499,000, about 5 percent of its school aid from the state. Superintendent Paul Bona said the district was pleased no mid-year cut was coming, but now faced another challenge, later. However, Paterson’s letter gives districts time to work on their budgets.

“It’s allowing districts seven months to prepare,” Bona said.


To read the article in its entirety, go here:

http://www.lockportjournal.com/local/local_story_331013022.html

ALUMNI BASKETBALL GAME TONIGHT

Roy-Hart's third annual alumni basketball game is at 7:00 tonight at the High School. Cost is $5 per family, 3 bucks per adult and $1/kid.

DAVID CAIN LOSES BID

David Cain, Jr., who was involved in racketeering of the tree service market in Gasport, had his bid for a new trial dropped this week. Here's what the Bufaflo News reports....


David R. Cain Jr., a logger and tree-trimmer who was convicted of running a violent gang in Niagara and Orleans counties, has been turned down in his bid for a new trial in federal court.
U. S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara has scheduled sentencing dates in January for Cain, his brother, his cousin and his mother.

Cain, 38, of Somerset, was convicted of 17 felony charges in December after a lengthy trial on allegations that he used arson, death threats and violence to intimidate business rivals in the two counties. The U. S. attorney’s office has said that it will seek a prison sentence of at least 50 years for Cain. Cain’s brother, Christopher, 35, and their cousin, James Soha, 32, were convicted of lesser charges in the same trial.

In a long-awaited ruling, Arcara recently decided that the three men received a fair trial and that a government prosecutor did not act improperly when he asked that Cain’s preferred attorney — Angelo Musitano — be removed from the case. But the appeal process is not over, one of Cain’s court-appointed attorneys, Daniel J. Henry Jr., said Friday. After his sentencing, which is scheduled for Jan. 12, Cain intends to appeal to the U. S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City, Henry said.

“[Cain] feels that he did not get a fair trial, that there was no racketeering enterprise and that he was unfairly prevented from having his attorney of choice,” Henry said. In court papers, prosecutor Anthony M. Bruce argued that Cain and his co-defendants did receive a fair trial. He also argued that Musitano was properly excluded from the case because of a conflict of interest involving a witness.

Arcara scheduled sentencing for Christopher Cain, also of Somerset, for Jan. 20. Soha, of Lockport, is scheduled for sentencing Jan. 28.

In the trial, Bruce portrayed David Cain as a ruthless man who used violence and threats to drive rivals out of business. Cain was defended by two court-appointed attorneys, Henry and Joel L. Daniels, who characterized Cain as a hardworking businessman victimized by lying witnesses.

One witness, Dan Gollus, who runs a tree service in Hartland, testified that after Cain threatened to kill him, Cain twice forced his car off the road and into ditches. He also testified that his work equipment was extensively vandalized and a 1949 vintage airplane was set afire and destroyed.
Witnesses testified that Cain was behind other arsons, including a fire that destroyed the personal car of a Niagara County sheriff’s deputy, parked in the deputy’s Newfane driveway.

Sentencing for the Cains’ mother, Ann Cain, 55, of Barker, is set for Jan. 29. She was convicted of felony witness tampering after a trial in 2006.


Source: http://www.buffalonews.com/cityregion/niagaracounty/story/503476.html

TODAY'S POLICE BLOTTER

DWI: James Norman Reed, 63, 8134 State St., Gasport, was charged Monday evening with aggravated driving while intoxicated, third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, driving with a suspended registration, driving without valid inspection and driving without valid insurance after a 6:49 p.m. traffic stop on State Street. Reed allegedly admitted to having six beers at a restaurant and failed several field sobriety tests. He allegedly registered a 0.19 percent blood alcohol content on a breath test. Reed was wanted on an arrest warrant in Royalton on a harassment charge, the report said. He was released on his own recognizance on the DWI charges, but was held in lieu of $1,000 bail on the harassment charge.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

GASPORT WEBSITES

This weekend I updated the directory of websites for Gasport. You can access the directory from the right-hand tool bar of this website. Give it a look-see and please let me know if I missed anything.

DOG VS. SNOW SHOVEL

Overheard on the scanner...

There was a police call to West Ave. this weekend for someone filing a complaint that they saw their neighbor strike another neighbor's dog with a snow shovel.

Only in Gasport...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

TEACHER & SUPER CONTRACTS ONLINE

The website www.SeeThroughNY.net has recently posted online the teacher and superintendent contracts for all school districts in NYS. You can download Roy-Hart's here:

http://seethroughny.net/Contracts/TeacherSuperintendentContracts/tabid/54/Default.aspx

Friday, November 21, 2008

LAKE SNOW ADVISORY

NIAGARA-GENESEE-INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...NIAGARA FALLS...BATAVIA
337 PM EST FRI NOV 21 2008...

LAKE EFFECT SNOW ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 7 PM THIS EVENING TO 6 PM EST SATURDAY...

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BUFFALO HAS ISSUED A LAKE EFFECT SNOW ADVISORY...WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 7 PM THIS EVENING TO 6 PM EST SATURDAY. LAKE EFFECT SNOW TONIGHT AND SATURDAY WILL PRODUCE LOCALIZEDAMOUNTS OF 3 TO 7 INCHES IN THE MOST INTENSE AND PERSISTENT BANDS. IN LAKE EFFECT SNOW THE WEATHER CAN VARY FROM LOCALLY HEAVY SNOW IN NARROW BANDS TO CLEAR SKIES JUST A FEW MILES AWAY. IF YOU WILLBE TRAVELING ACROSS THE REGION BE PREPARED FOR RAPID CHANGES INROAD AND VISIBILITY CONDITIONS.

STAY TUNED TO NOAA WEATHER RADIO OR YOUR FAVORITE SOURCE OF WEATHER INFORMATION FOR THE LATESTUPDATES. ADDITIONAL DETAILS CAN ALSO BE FOUND AT WWW.WEATHER.GOV/BUFFALO

Thursday, November 20, 2008

SPAGHETTI DINNER THIS SATURDAY

The Gasport Lions Club is hosting an all-you-can eat spaghetti dinner and basket raffle from 4 PM to 7 PM Saturday at the Gasport Fire Hall.

The basket raffle will be held at 6:30 p.m.; winners do not need to be present.

Cost is $7 for adults; $5 for children 6 to 11 and free for children under 5. Take-outs will be available.

The function is a fundraiser to help with the many community projects the Lions support, including vision screening for preschoolers, ramps for the handicapped, a medical loan closet, Christmas for the needy and many other activities.

For more information, call Joan Nachtrieb at 380-0724 (daytime) or 772-7688 after 5 p.m.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

SEE THE SPACE SHUTTLE!

The Space Shuttle crew is doing some work on the International Space Station. You'll be able to see both objects as one this week as they make a fly-by over the region. The magnitude of brightness on these trips will range from -1.9 to -2.5, making them brighter than the brightest star.

Here's when and where you can see them...

Thursday, November 20: 6:13:54 PM, coming from SSW with a maximum elevation of 36°

Friday, November 21: 6:39:40 PM, coming from WSW with a maxium elevation of 50°

Saturday, November 22: 5:30:35 PM, coming from SSW with a maxium elevation of 40°

Sunday, November 23: 5:56:24 PM, coming from WSW with a maximum elevation of 61°

COYOTES HAVE RETURNED

A couple of months ago I noted the year-long demise of coyotes in Gasport. After being fairly common for years they had virtually disappeared (no doubt following their food sources). Over the course of late-2007 and 2008 coyote evidence was slim to none and some of their prey (rabbits and woodchucks) saw population explosions in Gasport.

Well, probably because of the latter, the coyotes are back.

On Sunday evening I heard 3 different coyotes howling and yipping and I'm seeing more and more tracks.

Make it a point to go outside on a winter evening and listen to these critters.

Monday, November 17, 2008

TAX RATES DOWN...BUT....

This article ran in Sunday's Buffalo News. I hate articles like this because it allows for some dangerous spin. At first glance, most people would skim the article and think, "hey, my tax rate is going down! Yay!"

It's a mirage, folks....


2009 Royalton budget reduces tax rates for town, village

ROYALTON — The Town Board last week adopted a $5.7 million town budget for 2009 that reduces the tax rate in a town that saw whopping increases two years ago.

Next year, residents outside of the Village of Middleport will see their tax rate decrease by 50 cents, to $3.18 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, while Middleport residents will see their tax rate drop 27 cents, to $1.81 per $1,000.

Town Assessor Thomas Arlington attributed the board’s ability to drop the tax rate to an increase in the tax base because of a townwide reassessment this year.

Supervisor Richard Lang said spending stayed the same or dropped slightly in each of the town’s departments except refuse collection, which saw a slight increase.

Lang said the town was able to offer a decrease in taxes due to the reassessment and the town’s fund balance.

“Our new accountants are quite pleased with our books,” he said.

In November 2006, the board adopted a 2007 budget that included a 266 percent tax increase in Middleport and a 67 percent increase in taxes for residents outside the village.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

COUNTY BUDGET A MIXED BAG FOR GASPORT RESIDENTS

The Buffalo News reports on th County's 2009 budget....


Niagara County Manager Gregory D. Lewis is proud of his proposed 2009 county budget, which he released Friday.

“It’s the best budget I’ve ever been associated with,” Lewis said of the spending plan, which features a small property tax decrease for most homeowners.

The $304 million budget spends $2 million more than this year’s version, but the average homeowner sees a tax rate reduction of 21 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, or $21 on a $100,000 house. However, the actual tax rates vary by municipality, depending on how close to full value assessments are and the equalization rates set by the state. County Real Property Services Director William F. Budde Jr. calculated that if Lewis’ budget is adopted unchanged by the County Legislature, there will be tax rate reductions in seven towns and two cities.


What does that mean for us in Gasport? It depends on what side of the border you live on...


Rates would fall $1.73 per $1,000 of assessed value in Royalton; 51 cents in the City of Lockport; 27 cents in Somerset; 23 cents in Wilson and Niagara Falls; 22 cents in Newfane; and 21 cents in Cambria, the Town of Lockport and Pendleton.

The communities with tax rate increases would be Hartland, 63 cents; Porter, 36 cents; Lewiston and the Town of Niagara, each 6 cents; North Tonawanda, 4 cents; and Wheatfield, less than a penny.



To read the article in total, go here:

http://www.buffalonews.com/cityregion/niagaracounty/story/494300.html

Friday, November 14, 2008

DEER SEASON OPENS THIS SATURDAY

Deer season has been open for a few weeks now with archery hunters out and about. But, they are a minority.

The day that most hunters consider the real Opening Day --- the first day of shotgun season for deer --- is this Saturday. So, the farm lanes and road sides of Gasports will be filled with parked vehicles all weekend as hunters are out in the fields and woods attempting to fill their freezers. I'll be one of those guys, hoping to bag a deer like the one shown at right.

The shotgun season is one weekend longer than usual this year, ending on December 7th.

ONE WEEK LEFT FOR FOOD DRIVE

The food drive for the Gasport Area Food Pantry has but one week left. Donations of non-perishable goods will be accepted until November 21st. Drop of points are the Roy-Hart Elementary School and Absolut Care.

GASPORT WOMAN GETS 3 YEARS

The Buffalo News reports....

Plea deal gives mother of 3 year in jail for $950 theft

A Gasport woman who was convicted of stealing $950 worth of rolled quarters in a Lockport burglary was sentenced to a year in jail Wednesday, but it could have been three years.

Niagara County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III threw out the jury’s verdict against Brandi N. Voelker, 25, of State Street, and instead approved a plea deal that allowed Voelker to plead guilty to third-degree burglary in exchange for a one-year County Jail term she won’t have to start until Jan. 2. The alternative was a new trial over the Aug. 13, 2007, incident at a home on Niagara Street.

Murphy told Voelker, a mother of three, “You ought to be thankful to your attorney [Patrick M. Balkin] for his heroic efforts. You were about to be sentenced to three years in state prison.” He did order full restitution to the victim, Daniel Burns.

A jury convicted Voelker on Sept. 25 of second-degree burglary, petit larceny and fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property. However, Murphy said the evidence was “entirely circumstantial” and the verdict “was against the weight of the evidence.”


Source: http://www.buffalonews.com/437/story/492264.html

CHRISTMAS CUPBOARD

The 23rd annual Christmas Cupboard craft show will take place at the former St. Mary’s Church on West Avenue November 21 to 23:

Hours are:

Friday 9:30 AM to 9:00 PM
Saturday 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM
Sunday 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM

Important FYI: since the phone has been shut off at the church, they cannot accept credit cards. Cash or check only.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

DOLLAR GENERAL IS STRUCK

WLVL reports...

The Sheriff's Department says about $1,200 in damage was done to the front of the Gasport Dollar General store when somebody rammed the building with a large vehicle. The manager says it happened between 9pm Monday and 7am yesterday. About 20 feet of the brick wall was damaged at the store at 8405 Rochester Road.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO TWO OF GASPORT'S AMBASSADORS

Two of Gasport's best celebrate milestone birthdays today. Eunice Hernberger and Gerry Reynolds are key members of the Royalton Historical Society, Eunice organizing their monthly programs and Gerry editing the newsletter. Eunice turns 94 and Gerry turns 97! If you see these lovely ladies today, wish them a happy birthday!

KNIFE PULLED ON HARTLAND ROAD

MENACING: Jeffrey C. Denton, 18, 6248 Autumnview Station, was charged Saturday with second-degree menacing. Deputies responded to a Hartland Road home for a report of a man threatening another man with a knife. A Dysinger Road man reportedly said Denton pulled a knife on him and threatened to get a gun. Denton allegedly told deputies he was arguing with the man about some property they were supposed to trade. He was held in lieu of $500 bail and is due Nov. 18 in Hartland Town Court.

SCHOOLS' CAPITAL PROJECTS ON TRACK

From the Lockport US&J...

ROY-HART: Capital project is on track

The Royalton-Hartland Central School District’s $8.3 million capital improvement project is moving full steam ahead.

Superintendent Paul Bona will provide a detailed update to the school board at its regular meeting Thursday. The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the high school media center, 54 State St., Middleport. Bona said the plans and specifications for the project are with the district’s architect, McKenna and Associates. The firm is putting the capital project plans together.

“Completion should be by the end of next week,” Bona said.

All three schools will see upgrades to the high school science and art rooms, new generators and regular maintenance items. Aside from maintenance and repairs to all three schools in the district, the project will provide an addition that will house an Orleans/Niagara Board Of Cooperative Educational Services program in the elementary school. The addition is a 10-classroom wing BOCES will lease.

The facilities project will be done in two phases. The first is the BOCES addition, maintenance and improvements to be made to the elementary school. The second phase is maintenance and improvements to the middle and high schools. Bona said the current plan is for the classroom wing to be open in September 2009.

Residents passed the $8.3 million capital building project by a 329-174 vote in January. It has no additional cost to the taxpayer.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

ROYALTON BUDGET PASSES

Our friends at WLVL report the following...

Lawmakers in Royalton voted 4-1 last night to approve a $5.6 million 2009 budget. It contains a less than one percent hike in taxes and a two per cent across the board payraise for all town workers. The spending plan uses $580,000 of the fund balance. The "no" vote was cast by Board member Jim Budde.

WHY COMMUNITY WATCH IS NEEDED

CRIMINAL MISCHIEF: A Gasport resident reported that about 11:30 p.m. Saturday an unknown person damaged the back window of her Chevrolet which was parked in her driveway. A witness saw a white Toyota Corolla driving slowly near the residence minutes before the incident and then saw a subject running north.

COMMUNITY WATCH MEETING

Even though the two scumbag kids who committed many of Gasport's burglaries were arrested recently, we can't be guarantee that they were the only perpetrators. That said, the individuals who started the Royalton Community Watch Group are still forging ahead with their much-needed efforts. Their next meeting - open to the public - is this Wednesday at 7:00 at the Town Hall.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

ROYALTON BOARD MEETS MONDAY

The Royalton town council meets Monday at 7:30 at the town hall. You can see the agenda here:

http://townofroyalton.org/content/MinuteCategories/View/1:field=minutes;/content/Minutes/View/81

A BANNER YEAR FOR GASPORT APPLES

On Saturday, the Lockport Union Sun and Journal ran a story about this year's Niagara County apple crop....

Nobody knows better than farmers: Mother Nature is fickle. The 2008 apple harvest is wrapping up in Niagara County with mixed results. Some farmers’ output was severely hurt by frost and hail earlier this year, while others are reporting strong, and possibly strongest-ever, growing seasons.

The article then goes on to talk about the latter occurring in Gasport....


Eight miles away in Gasport, Alan Buhr, whose New Royal Farms has nearly one-tenth of Niagara County’s total apple acreage, reports one of his best years ever. The harvest is done and output — about 240,000 bushels — is about 15 percent higher this year than in 2007.

Buhr said the bounty comes despite hail damage done on 30 percent of his fields. “The truth of the matter is this is one of the best years we’ve ever had,” Buhr said. “We’ve had good demand, good supply, and that works for us. I’m only speaking for myself, though; I know there are many growers out there who’d like to forget (this year).”


The article speaks of Buhr's apples making their way into mass public consumption...


Weather conditions in Michigan were so bad this year, Buhr said whatever apple output wasn’t wrecked there came in badly flawed, making his lesser damaged apples more desirable. He’s done a brisk business with processors needing fresh slices to make “apple fries” for McDonald’s and Burger King, he said.


He's not the only Gasport apple grower doing well....

Innovation, technology and marketing together have done much to lift the industry locally, Gasport grower Kent Schwab said. Development of new varieties creates public excitement for the harvest; and better storage methods prolong the fresh-apple season, giving customers a reason to return to places like Schwab’s Farm Market past October.

“The apple industry has taken a turn for the better the last few years,” Schwab said. “Honey Crisp (a newer apple) is so much better than any other apple you’ve tasted. That’s really helped a lot.”

Schwab said his 70-acre orchard suffered some hail damage in one summer storm, but ultimately, thanks to ideal growing conditions afterward, the apples are bigger, and there are more of them, than last year.

Friday, November 7, 2008

TAX RATE TO RISE 8% IN HARTLAND

Last night the town of Hartland held a public hearing on its budget. Here's what they addressed...

The proposed $2.75 million budget includes a tax rate hike of 44 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation. This raises the tax rate to $5.47 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

Overall spending is expected to increase slightly in the 2009 budget, due to “the rising price of everything from fuel to paving, like it is for everyone,” said Town Clerk Beverly Snell.

“We’re trying to keep costs down and are pretty much operating with an austerity budget.”

In the town’s three special districts, taxes decrease 5 cents to $2.13 per $1,000 assessed valuation in the water district; rise a penny to $1.13 per $1,000 of assessed valuation in the fire district; and increase $61 per household in the refuse district, from $150 to $211 “due to a new contract,” Snell said.

The board may adopt the budget following the hearing, but is expected to delay approval until it meets in regular monthly session next Thursday. Officials have until Nov. 20 to adopt the budget.

Source: http://www.buffalonews.com/cityregion/niagaracounty/story/485679.html

COLE GETS SENT TO PRISON

The Lockport US&J reports....

COURTS: Ex-teacher Marcy Cole sentenced to prison on DWI plea

A former city elementary school teacher will serve at least a year in prison after pleading guilty to two felony charges of driving while intoxicated.Marcy L. Cole, 35, of Main Street, Gasport, was sentenced Thursday in Niagara County Court to two terms of one to three years in prison, to be served concurrently.

Cole pleaded guilty in September to two felony counts of DWI in connection with her arrests on Oct. 7, 2007, and Jan. 10, 2008. She had a previous DWI conviction, after pleading guilty in October last year to misdemeanor DWI in connection with an April 18, 2007, traffic stop in the Town of Lockport. She was arrested a fourth time in June on charges of DWI in the Town of Royalton.

Cole has been in jail since early September, when Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza ordered her bail revoked. Probation officers had reported several incidents in which Cole was reportedly still drinking and causing disturbances while awaiting trial on what was originally an 11-count indictment. Her guilty plea later that month satisfied all counts of the indictment.

Cole’s attorney, Thomas Scirto, said Cole has enrolled in several recovery programs available at the Niagara County Jail.“She’s just now on the long road to recovery,” he said.

He said she has also ended an “abusive” relationship that had been causing her problems and has been reconnecting with her family, including her children, who are “seeing their mother sober for the first time in months.”

Cole read a two-page statement before sentencing was handed down, at times breaking down in tears when telling Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza about her recovery process.“I’ve come to realize what ... the recovery program means. It’s taken this to get me to that point,” she said. “My decisions have brought me humiliation. ... I had to be broken, your honor.”

Cole taught fourth grade at Roy B. Kelley Elementary School until January, when she was pulled from the classroom after parents and teachers reportedly complained about her conduct. The school board accepted her resignation in June.

Cole apologized to her family, whom she said have been supportive of her through the past year. “I take full responsibility, and I apologize to those I have hurt,” she said.

Sperrazza said there were “too many troubling moments” in the case to grant Scirto’s request of a six-month local jail sentence followed by probation.

“I see a woman who mouths the words, ‘I now get it,’ but I truly don’t think you do,” Sperrazza said. “Honestly, Marcy, I don’t think you get it yet.”


Source: http://www.lockportjournal.com/local/local_story_312012557.html

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A THANK YOU TO THE COMMUNITY FROM THE ELLEGATE FAMILY

I received this heartfelt message from Julie Rizzo. It's meant for every one of you...


I have been very far behind in getting thank you notes out to all the wonderful people that have given their prayers, support and kindness to our family during this unbelievable, tragic time. In fact, so much has been done for our family, with so many acts of kindness and generosity without any names attached, that I am quite sure that I will never be able to properly thank each and every one. But my heart is full of thanks and appreciation. And I pray every day and thank the good Lord for the wonderful people who have come into our lives to help us. They have been the foundation which gives me the strength to stand tall and keep going.

Not being raised in this area, we chose to move here with thoughts that it seemed like a "nice place to raise our children". Never did I realize more than now just how wonderful a place it is. Please help me convey to everyone how grateful I am for all that they have done for me and my family. The words "thank you" seem so inadequate for all that everyone has done for us.

Sincerely,

Julie Rizzo

WHAT CONSTITUTES "GASPORT"?

Defining the borders of what constitutes Gasport is not an easy task. Sure, it's a small town, but where does it begin and end?

Everyone has their own concept:

1) Is it only the hamlet itself?
2) Is it the "772" telephone district?
3) Is it the 14067 zip code?
4) Is it the Gasport portion of the Roy-Hart district when we had two elementary schools?

It is confusing. Well, to make it easy and to identify what this website focuses on, I prefer to identify with what the USGS considers Gasport in their mapping of the United States. You can see the map in the right hand tool bar where it says "A Map of Gasport".

Some people may not like the boundaries because they might have a favorite of the four factors mentioned above and the map includes points that don't jive with them. But, alas, for the sake of consistency this site will serve as the "online newspaper" for that area clearly defined in the map.

The one recurring deviation from that: articles about the high school, because, after all, it affects all Gasport families.

THE GASPORT COUNCIL RACES

The report from the Lockport US&J...

ELECTION 2008: GOP rules in town council contests

In Royalton, Daniel R. Bragg defeated Mary Cedeno with 59 percent of the vote, 1,541 to 1,078. Bragg, who is also a member of the Royalton-Hartland School Board, will complete the term, which was vacated by Supervisor Richard Lang.

“I’ll start by working with council members to get the financial picture in line. That’s my priority,” Bragg said. “I want to start creating a vision and a plan for the infrastructure and how we’re going to finance it.”

There will be two slots open next year, and Bragg expects Cedeno will run again in 2009. “She’s a good opponent and worked hard,” he said. “She’ll be a voice in this community.”

Cedeno, a member of the Planning Board, noted that Bragg has better name recognition in the town. “He’s been entrenched for a long time. I think I did okay. As people get to know me, they’ll feel more comfortable. Next year will be a different story.”

They were bidding for the final year of Lang’s four-year council term which had been handed over to Lee Criswell.

In Hartland, W. Ross Annable turned back newcomer Joseph T. Derda for a one-year term. Ross Annable, the son of Supervisor William Annable, got 66 percent of the votes.

“I got out and saw the people and got a good response,” Ross Annable said.

William Annable had been hospitalized with back surgery, but will soon be back in business, his son said.

Ross Annable is retired from the Niagara County Sheriff’s Department and is police chief of Barker. He was endorsed by the Republican and Conservative parties.

“He’s a good man. He’ll do a good job,” Derda said of Annable.

Derda feels that there may be two openings next November and said, “Oh yeah, I’ll be back next year.”

Derda said he was a 3-1 underdog and got more votes many expected. “I’m happy with the turnout,” the Democratic candidate said. “I learned a lot and appreciated the opportunity. I will be back. I’ll be keeping a closer eye on what’s going on in town.”

Source: http://www.lockportjournal.com/local/local_story_310032456.html

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

GASPORT'S WINNERS

Hartland Council: Ross Annable

Royalton Council: Dan Bragg

Royalton: propositions that extended the terms of the town clerk and the tax collector

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

GASPORT HORSE GETS TV TIME

Gasport made the Channel 7 news last night. But, not for anything good. They ran a story about the horse that was tied-up roadside. You can watch the video here:

http://www.wkbw.com/news/local/33804929.html

SCOUTING FOR FOOD

Boy Scout Troop 18 will be hitting the streets of Gasport this Saturday to distribute fliers for their service project - - Scouting For Food. A week later, on the 15th, they will visit the same routes to collect any food that the community is donating to local food banks. For more information about Scouting For Food, visit this website: http://www.scoutingforfood.net/

Monday, November 3, 2008

HISTORICAL SOCIETY MEETS THURSDAY

The Royalton Historical Society meets Thursday at 7:30 PM at the Town Hall. The guest speaker will be Norm Pearson who will show photos of National Historic Sites. The public is welcome to attend.

TWO OF GASPORT'S THIEVES FINALLY CAUGHT

WLVL reports...

Lockport Police arrested two people last night that have allegedly confessed to a number of car burglaries and residential break-in's in the City and in Gasport. They are 17 year old Dennis Schultz of 816 East High Street and 18 year old Benjamin Stump of 193 Washburn.

Detective Captain Rick Podgers says a special detail was set up and last night they found a Chevy Tracker stolen from Hyde Park in Lockport in a lot on South Street. They watched it and the two men returned to it around 9:30 and sped off. They pulled into Kibler Park and fled into the fields after police activated their overhead lights. The Sheriffs Department helped set up a perimeter around the park and called in theK-9 unit. They fled again but Schultz was captured by Podgers and two Sheriff's deputies in front of Emmet Belknap School. Stump surrendered in the fields behinda house on High Street.

Podgers said they're being interviewed by State Police and Sheriff's investigators. He said one of them confessed to stealing cars in the Gasport area and told him where he had put them. They are expected to be arriagned in City Court this morning after all the paperwork is finished.

ANIMAL CRUELTY CHARGE

Numerous times I have heard police being dispatched to this guy's house to investigate problems with the horse, passer-bys always phoning in what they see as mistreatment. This time, he was arrested:

A Hartland man was issued an appearance ticket for mistreatment of his horse which was found tied to a guard rail on Wheeler Road near the intersection of Checkered Tavern Road on Saturday. The horse was tied with a lead line to a guard rail which was a foot off of the road. It was tangled up in the lead line. The owner was arrested at the scene and released on an appearance ticket at the Town of Hartland Court on Nov. 18.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

ELECTION NIGHT DINNER

Even though the church won't be a polling place this year, the Hartland United Methodist Church at Hartland Corners will maintain its long-running tradition of offering a dinner on election night.

This Tuesday's spread will be available from 4:30 to 6:30. $8 (adults) or $3.50 (kids) will get you chicken and biscuits as prepared by Donna Eick.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

LONGTIME ROYALTON COURT CLERK PASSES AWAY

Y. Christine Bass (nee Hopkins), age 57, of Gasport, entered into rest on Thursday, October 30, 2008 at her home. Born September 11, 1951 in Columbus, OH, she was the daughter of Dr. J. Harold and Dorisa Jean (nee Terry) Hopkins II.

Christine received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education from Transylvania University in Lexington, KY. She married Gregory A. Bass on April 20, 1974 in Stow, OH in her father’s church. She had worked at the Royalton Town Court as a Court Clerk for 21 years, 19 years of which she was clerk for her husband, Greg. Christine was a loving caregiver to her eight cats, two dogs and three horses…of which C.D. (Chris’ Dream) was her favorite boy. An avid reader, she also enjoyed music, gardening, antiquing and restoring their 100 year old home. Christine was a member of the NYS Magistrates Court Clerk’s Association. She had lived in Gasport for the last 23 years; previously of Middleport.

Loving wife of Gregory A. Bass. Dear mother of Joshua A. Bass (Nichole Syracuse) of Lockport and Teri L. Bass (Sham Mayo) of Barre Center, NY. Daughter of Dr. J. Harold and Dorisa Jean Hopkins II of Mansfield, OH. Daughter-in-law of Dorothy June (Edwin) Lipa of Rockport, TX. Sister of John H. (Jan) Hopkins III of Columbus, OH and Kimberly Lown of Ravenna, OH. Sister-in-law of Gary (Ann) Bass of Westchester, OH, Kathy (Rich) Baehr of Nunda, NY and Karen (David) Maclam of Newfane, NY. She is also survived by he grandson, Cory Joe Leturgey of Gasport and several nieces and nephews.

There will be no prior visitation. Family and friends are invited to attend a Memorial Service on Saturday, November 8, 2008 at 1:00 PM from the Royalton Town Hall, 5316 Royalton Center Road, Middleport, NY. Reverend Jackie Thompson will officiate. Arrangements entrusted to the Sherrie-Bream Funeral Home, Gasport. In lieu of flowers, memorials appreciated to Equi Star of Newfane. Please sign guest register at www.sherriefuneralhome.com

ROYALTON PUBLIC HEARINGS ON NOV. 5

TOWN OF ROYALTON
NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING

PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that the Town Board of the Town of Royalton will hold separate public hearings on the matters referenced to herein at the Royalton Town Hall, 5316 Royalton Center Road, Middleport, New York, on the 5th day of November, 2008 at 7:00 PM (local time). Said public hearings shall be as follows:

1. Amounts to be raised by taxation are as follows:

ROYALTON WATER DISTRICT $581,348.00
ROYALTON SEWER DISTRICT $134,740.00
ROYALTON REFUSE DISTRICT $429,645.00
ROYALTON LIGHTING DISTRICT $ 15,500.00
ROYALTON FIRE PROTECTION $363,923.00
GASPORT FIRE PROTECTION $ 33,730.00

All persons interested shall be heard at the public hearing to be held by the Town Board as aforesaid relative to assessments and amounts to be raised in said districts.

2. The Town Board of the Town of Royalton will hear any person in favor of or against the preliminary budget as filed with the Town Clerk.

3. Pursuant to Section 108 of the Town Law, proposed salaries of Town Officers are hereby specified:

SUPERVISOR (1) $16,000.00
COUNCILMAN (4) EACH AT $6,000.00...$24,000.00
TOWN CLERK (1) $37,390.00
HIGHWAY SUPERINTENDENT (1) $53,856.00
TOWN JUSTICE (2) EACH AT $16,395.00.....$32,790.00
TAX COLLECTOR (1) $ 6,120.00

All parties in interest and citizens will be heard at the public hearing to be held as aforesaid.

4. FURTHER NOTICE is given that pursuant to Real Property Tax Law Section 495, the Exemption report that shows total assessed value on the final assessment roll that was used in the budgetary process that is exempt from taxation is on file with the Preliminary 2009 Budget.

DATED: OCTOBER 31, 2008

BY ORDER OF THE TOWN BOARD
TOWN OF ROYALTON
MARIE L. LITTLE, RMCTOWN CLERK

#L07514606
November 1, 2008

GASPORT PEDOPHILE BUSTED IN LOCKPORT

The Lockport US&J reported on last night's proactive sex offender sweep by the Sheriff's Department. Here is an abbreviated version of the story...

As trick-or-treaters filled the streets Friday night, a small task force of law enforcement was going door-to-door as well — checking in on the area’s sex offenders. With so many children out and about, sex offenders had been told to stay inside, leave their porch lights out and not answer the door.

Representatives from the Niagara County Sheriff’s Department, the Lockport Police Department and the probation department The group gathered at the sheriff’s department about 3:30 p.m. to prepare for the day. They mapped out a route, through the City of Lockport and surrounding areas, including Middleport and Ransomville.

This is the third year the probation department has made the home visits — and perhaps the new initiative is a sign of the times.

“When I was a kid, trick-or-treating ... my parents would go, ‘Don’t go to that house, there’s weird people there,’ “ Sheriff’s Investigator Brian Schell said, as he prepared to start the sweep. “Now, we’ve identified the houses and people our parents warned us about.”


The article goes on to talk about the only arrest....

The sheriff’s department made one arrest during the evening — Richard Baker, 28, whose listed address on the registry is Chestnut Ridge Road in Gasport.

Baker, a Level-2 offender, was wanted on an arrest warrant for allegedly failing to notify officials of his change his address. He was convicted in 2007 of second-degree sexual abuse of a 12-year-old girl. Sheriff’s Investigator Leonard Guagliano said officers found Baker at a relative’s house on Church Street.

Friday, October 31, 2008

CATCH WLVL'S ELECTION COVERAGE ON TUESDAY NIGHT

For those looking for local election coverage, be sure to tune in to WLVL 1340 AM (or listen online at wlvl.com) beginning at 9 p.m. on election night. Scott Leffler be anchoring coverage with news and analysis on all the local elections of note from Erie and Niagara counties, including the Niagara County Sheriff's race, State Senate and Assembly races, and local congressional races. Scott will be joined by Tom Christy and yours truly.

MOUNTAIN ROAD BREAK-IN

WLVL's John Raymond reports....

Another daytime burglary yesterday at a home in Gasport. A 52-year old resident of Mountain Road says he got home from workat 4:30 and found his front door kicked in and his house ransacked. An $850 Pentax camera with a telephoto lens was taken along witha 15 inch high definition Panasonic T-V. All the drawers had been opened in a downstairs bedroom and $50 was removed from the top of a dresser. The victim said a pint of rum was missing and abox of chocolates was removed from the refrigerator. Some of itwas eaten and the the box was left on the floor. The victim also said his detached garage was entered where nothing was takenbut items were removed from the shelves and dumped on thefloor. The total value of the items taken and the damage donecoming to over $1,200. Three nearby neighbors told deputies they didn't see or hear anything.

REZONING HEARING NEXT WEEK

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING

Town of Royalton

PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that the Town Board of the Town of Royalton will meet on Wednesday, November 5, 2008 at 5:30 p.m. at the Town Hall, 5316 Royalton Center Road, Middleport, New York 14105, to hear and consider a re-zoning application by SCOTT GARBUTT to re-zone a parcel from a “Business District (non-conforming use)” to a “Residential District,” on property located at 8399 State Street in the Town of Royalton, Niagara County, New York.

All parties in interest and citizens will be heard at the public hearing to be held as aforesaid.

BY ORDER OF THE TOWN BOARD
TOWN OF ROYALTON
MARIE L. LITTLE, RMC,
TOWN CLERK

Thursday, October 30, 2008

TURKEY DINNER THIS SATURDAY

One of Gasport's longest-running traditions takes place this Saturday. The Covenant Church on Main Street will host its annual turkey dinner from 3:30 to 6:30 at the Church. The always-tasty grub will be prepared by members of the Church and it will be served by a crew of waiters from Boy Scout Troop 18 . Takeouts are available. The cost for dinner: a donation.

Prior to the dinner there is a bazaar at the church starting at 10:00.

MORE DOE PERMITS AVAILABLE

The Royalton town office will be open this Saturday, November 1st from 9:00 to 12:00 for the issuance of a new batch of deer management permits ("doe permits").

Here's an article about the DEC giving out more of them...

'Tis the season for the Department of Environmental Conservation to correct its wrong guesses in regard to antlerless deer permit allocations, and some local hunters will undoubtedly benefit.

About 10,000 Deer Management Permits will be issued to hunters who were previously denied permits earlier this year during the initial application period that ended Oct. 1.

Each summer the DEC anticipates the number of applicants in each WMU and assigns a probability to each unit to ensure the availability of the appropriate number of DMPs. As evidenced by the giveaway, it doesn't always work.

For a description on the WMU geographic units, visit
www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/8302.html.

The random selection process is complete and the DEC has begun mailing permits. An average of 13 percent of the hunters previously denied permits in these units will now receive a DMP. Selection for one of these permits will not affect any preference points issued to hunters who were not selected for their first choice area during the original application period.

In addition, DEC will also reopen the DMP application process starting Nov. 1, on a first-come, first-served basis for WMUs that have not reached target totals during the random selections. Hunters may apply for leftover DMPs at any DEC license sales outlet beginning Nov. 1. Leftover DMPs will not be available by phone, mail or the Internet.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

SHOULD CANDIDATES SERVE ON TWO BOARDS?

From the Lockport Union Sun & Journal....

ROYALTON: Should candidate serve on two boards?

Mary Cedeno is on the Town Planning Board, and Daniel Bragg is on the Royalton-Hartland School Board. Both hope to complete a one-year term on the Town Board. The two Republicans share a mutual respect. Cedeno, who would have to give up her position on the Planning Board, thinks that Bragg would have a conflict of interest if he served on both the town board and the school board. Bragg sees having the two positions as a positive.

Bragg won the Republican nomination in a close race with Cedeno. She is running on the Democrat, Independence and Conservative lines. They are bidding for the final year of Dick Lang’s four-year council term, now held by Lee Criswell, who did not want to run. The winner would have to run again next fall.

Cedeno, a native of Niagara Falls who has lived in Lockport and moved to Royalton in 1999, sees her background in science as helpful in getting the town to plan ahead. She objects to what she sees as the board’s “fly-by-the-seat of your pants” operation. “I can l look at this scientifically and use scientific methods to solve problems,” she said. “That may not be happening now. I don’t know how they’re deciding to fix a problem. We owe our taxpayers more than that. We don’t have that now.”

Cedeno is a two-year graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology and has worked in environmental remediation since 1995. She has been a regular at town board meetings. “It seems to me they are not asking questions. There are more followers than leaders,” she said. “I really think that one of my skills is ability to see the big picture.”

She feels she has made a difference on the Planning Board and worked at getting the town board minutes on the town Web site. “I questioned why we have a Web site but the meeting minutes were not posted,” she said. “I was told there might be privacy issues. I don’t understand why there can be privacy issues when its a public meeting; the government belongs to us.”

Lang invited her to be on the Planning Board and asked her to run for the Town Board, she said. “The people who are up there are doing the best they can and trying their hardest to cut taxes, but I think it can be done better.”

Dan Bragg has eight children, five who have graduated from college, one in college and two in high school. He works at Standish Jones Building Supply in Gasport and has been involved in multiple community activities. Bragg has been on the school board for five years and does not understand the objections of some to having two public roles. “We have two taxing jurisdictions working together,” he said. “The same people are paying taxes, whether it’s to the school system or to the town of Royalton. If you’re on both, you can see how its all playing together. You’ve got to find ways to making it work within each capacity.”

“We can’t afford any more taxes. The future lies in shared services.”

Bragg pointed to his involvement in solving the drainage issue that had School Superintendent Paul Bona and members of the town board exchanging heated words at a recent board meeting. “I played an important part to help settle the disagreement,” Bragg said. “I talked to people in a calm and collected way and got it all done. Dick Lang and the town board did a wonderful job. We needed one person to get it all together. We got it all settled and it’s getting done.”

Bragg says he can handle both jobs. “I go ’round the clock all the time,” he said. “I’ve been doing this stuff for years. You got to work with other people to get anything done.”

Also...Royalton residents can vote on extending the terms of office from two to four years for the supervisor, highway superintendent, town clerk and tax collector. Each office will be on a separate ballot.


Source: http://www.lockportjournal.com/local/local_story_302023940.html