Wednesday, April 30, 2008


From the US&J....

The Niagara County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the theft of a golf card and several liquor bottles from the Niagara-Orleans Country Club on Telegraph Road. An employee at the country club reported Tuesday that he heard an alarm go off in the dining room/bar area about 11:07 p.m. He stood by while deputies and Middleport police officers responded to check the area.

Depuites found someone had apparently thrown a rock through a window on the north side of the business. About 10 bottles of liquor, worth $130, were missing from inside the business, the report said. The employee noticed golf cart No. 45 had been taken from the parking lot. The cart is worth about $3,000. Three other golf carts were reported stolen Monday from the country club.


This Saturday, May 3rd, there will be a fundraiser to support Gasport's July 4th festivities. From 6:00 to 11:00 there will be a shindig at the Middleport Fire Hall . Tickets are available at the door for $20 which includes an Italian buffet, soda, mixers, beer, and entertainment: Jonesie and his band.


This old piece of farming equipment sits in our field. It harkens back to days gone by...


Thursday, May 1st marks the opening of turkey season which lasts through the month of May. Hunters can go after the gobbling toms every morning from sunup to noon.

Just 20 years ago there were almost no turkeys in Gasport. Now they are relatively common, frequenting woodlots and eating in farm fields.

Wish me luck!

For your reading pleasure, here is an article I wrote for New York Outdoor News back in 2006:

By Bob Confer

The wild turkey in New York State is an ever-evolving bird.

When the Department of Environmental Conservation began reintroducing turkeys throughout the State in the early 1960’s it was culling from flocks of birds that had crossed the border into Southwestern New York from Pennsylvania. These were birds of Appalachia, birds of big woods.

New York’s flocks remained as such for decades. But, in the 1980’s, things changed. The wild turkey’s range exploded and the birds moved north and east. The birds had adapted their behavior to fit the New York landscape. These vagabond birds began to frequent smaller woodlands and took up residence in farm country where there existed a great deal of crops and insects that could keep them feed all summer and through the most difficult of winters.

In the early 1990’s, the wild turkey went from being an anomaly on the Niagara Frontier and agricultural Finger Lakes region to becoming a common sight. The sportsmen who had whet their appetites traveling to the Southern Tier for forest birds now had birds in their own towns, maybe in their own backyards.

These turkeys have proven to be a slightly different bird, requiring an alteration in tactics that had become tradition in turkey hunting circles. It’s time to break tradition and focus on tactics that will help you bag a trophy turkey in Rural New York.


Pre-season scouting has always been touted as a key to success for spring hunts. A late-April jaunt into the woods allows you to determine where exactly the birds may be as woodland turkeys tend be slightly nomadic, basing their movements on the availability of mast crops from the previous growing season. In such scouting efforts it is necessary to cautiously cover a lot of ground on foot, while calling in earnest at the same time with hen calls and owl hoots alike.

Farmland turkeys cannot be scouted in the same manner as their woodland cousins as the aforementioned tactics could actually prove quite detrimental. The woodlots of farm country tend to be relatively small, sometimes just five to twenty acres in size. Walking through such woodlots in search of your quarry can flush them out of the area and can prove traumatic enough that they may not come back to that specific woodlot. You must make it a point to keep your spring turkey woodlots off limits, not only to yourself, but to others if at all possible. The less the birds are molested the better.

That’s not saying that scouting should not undertaken. It’s actually a more important tool for farm turkeys. They are considerably more nomadic than forest turkeys as their movements are dependent on the availability not just of woodland mast crops, but agricultural offerings as well. Scouting should be done in a slightly different manner, actually taking more effort than standard methods. Farmland turkey becomes more clandestine, utilizing a year-round form of avian espionage that requires you to interact with people.

Turkeys are perceived by most people – sportsmen and non-sportsmen alike – as a remarkable sight. People are fascinated by their size, behaviors, and often-sizable flocks. So, in farm country where the birds are quite visible to all as they feed in roadside fields they become a topic of conversation. In small towns word gets around pretty well, too. Much like a turkey detective, make it a point to strike up conversations about local sightings in the usual rumor mills, places like diners, barbershops, and churches. You can assess the availability of birds through this method, which you should utilize all winter long. If people can lead you to a large winter flock there is a very good chance that even a few of those birds will remain in that wooded area through the spring.

You will also need to log some miles on your vehicle in the fall prior to your spring hunt. Keep an eye open for fields of crops which can easily have leftovers strewn about in the harvesting process. This can supply food to turkeys throughout the harsh winter months. If you can find fields of corn and green beans adjacent to sizable woodlots you have a good chance of discovering the home of your next trophy.

All of the above is contingent upon getting permission to hunt the birds. If you play your cards right you should have nearly a half-dozen woodlots scoped out in the scouting process. Ask permission well before the season opener. Chances are these all won’t be managed by the same farmer. Therefore, you will need to develop a relationship with the farm’s owners. In most cases, farmers will willingly allow you to hunt turkeys. The birds are nowhere near as popular as deer to the hunting public at large, so your chances of getting denied are very small. As a matter of fact, you should prepare yourself for some good-natured ribbing, as many farmers might inquire, “Why would you want to hunt those stupid birds?”


Farmland turkeys tend to be showier and more visible than woodland turkeys. This is because woodland birds are more of an auditory creature, relying on the acoustics of woodlands and forested valleys to propagate their calls for long distances. Farmland turkeys cannot use such methods as efficiently, because their calls and gobbles travel smaller distances due to poor acoustics. Their sounds get muffled by the windy, open air in fields and by the many background noises associated with agrarian American…farm equipment and the sounds of civilization like cars, homes, and barking dogs, all of which can travel considerable distances and really aren’t a part of the equation for big woods turkeys.

So, farmland turkeys rely on their vision to get mates. Hens will stroll forest edges and toms will put on impressive fanning displays in fields. Some toms will fan for hours on end in a relatively small area, making themselves very noticeable and attracting hens from a wide area. It can also attract some hunting pressure as well, since the birds are so visible on a regular basis.

That being said, it is necessary for farmland hunters to set up on a forest edge, just a few feet away from the field. Unless the woodlot is in excess of fifteen acres you should not dive far into the woodlot as you would were you hunting a forest bird. Position yourself in a corner so you can watch the woodlot’s interior and get good coverage of the adjoining fields.

Many forest hunters can get away with not using a decoy. Such is not the case with farmland birds. Based upon the importance of visualization to these birds, a decoy is a necessary tool, and is absolutely required to insure your success. Set the ersatz hen up in the field, at your furthest effective distance within shotgun range. This is so it stands out and does not get lost in the forest backdrop were it to be too close. Improve your chances with a second or even third decoy between you and that bird.


Rural turkeys are a different breed. Were you to call like maniac in a forest setting you’d probably be accused of overcalling and chances are you wouldn’t bag a tom, especially an old one in excess of twenty pounds. But, “overcalling” is par for the course for farmland turkeys.

By design they are less confused by an overabundance of calls, not because they seem less wary than their forest brethren, but because of the aforementioned need to visualize their mates due to poor acoustics. By relying on their eyes and so rarely being able to hear calls for any sort of distance, when they are given the chance to hear calls the farmland tom’s testosterone really starts to flow. Calls are so unusual to their standard means of hooking up, that they just brim with sexual frustration. Their heads will become deep, nasty blood red. They will gobble incessantly. They may even display for hours on end, never moving from their staging area out in the field.

Keep calling. You need to keep that bird’s attention, you need to keep the pump primed, and you need to ensure that you have that tom’s attention above all. Thing is, being a visual creature, once he actually sees a hen he may ditch you, no matter how worked up you made him. This is why a decoy is so vitally important. It adds a visual cue to your incessant calling.

As a perfect indication of the importance of over-calling farm birds, one of the nicest toms I ever bagged took almost two hours to call in as he was debating between me and a hen that was walking about just a quarter of a mile away in the same hay field as he. After nearly two hundred calls to him and an amazing (and utterly thrilling) 185-gobbled responses, I took down the 21-pound beast and it’s 10-inch beard.

Farmland turkeys are a different breed. They require slightly different tactics than those employed for the turkeys of large forests. Adjust your gameplans accordingly and chances are you’ll put yourself into position for remarkable experience in the field, one you won’t soon forget.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Are you looking to add green energy to your home or business in Gasport? Read my column first....

From the 28 April 2008 Lockport Union Sun and Journal (Lockport, NY)

By Bob Confer

Upset with New York’s high electrical costs and looking to participate in the green movement, I’ve put some serious thought into using solar energy to power our distribution facility in Wheatfield. Later this year or in early 2009 I’d like to erect a series of solar panels there. Doing so should make perfect sense, both economically and philosophically.

By weaning my dependency off of the grid, I figured I could save a great deal of money. The electrical rate we’re paying on that commercial property is the highest in the nation (despite the proximity of the Niagara River) and it is destined to become even more expensive due to the dangerous situation of increased demand and stable, if not decreasing, supply that exists in this state.

At the same time I’d be saving money, I’d be doing my fair share to save the environment as well. Rather than relying on a grid that’s founded on coal and nuclear generation I’d be relying on Mother Nature and her clean, renewable bounty.

As wonderful as all that sounds, these dreams of self-reliance and environmental sustainability cannot be realized to their fullest extent under current state law. On the books since 1997, New York’s Net Metering Law sets major roadblocks in the way of any business looking to go green. New York is one of only two states which does not allow businesses who produce their own power with windmills or solar panels to be rewarded for what many people call "turning the meter backwards", that is, the act of contributing energy to the grid. Ensuring that this won’t happen, the State caps what a business connected to the grid - which you must be due to the limitations of solar and wind energy - can produce at 25 kilowatts for wind power and 10 kilowatts for solar energy.

These caps are unrealistic. My warehouse uses a relatively minimal amount of power, only what is needed for lighting, heat, and computers. Even so, I can’t become even remotely self-reliant: the law allows me to produce what only amounts to about three months of my average usage in a given year. Because of these limitations, most businesses will not invest in sustainable energy. The payback is just not there. The return on investment on solar panels could take five years, maybe more.

Residential power generators fair no better under the current Net Metering Law. Unlike businesses, homeowners can contribute excess power to their utility company. But, that comes with very restrictive caps, too. Net Metering is done on a first-come, first-served basis, and the aggregate of all consumer input cannot exceed 0.1 % of the utility company’s historical demand (1996 levels).

It becomes obvious that these 1997 standards were created to serve special interests. Understand that 0.1% consumer input is a negligible amount and add the fact that businesses cannot participate and you begin to develop a conspiracy theory that the laws were devised as a means to protect the interests of the utility companies who generate most of our power. By giving them a safety net, it does appear that the State was looking out for the likes of National Grid (then Niagara Mohawk) and, most definitely itself: The New York Power Authority has 17 generating facilities across the New York. By limiting what the average person can do and what businesses can’t do, the government acted in a self-serving way to maintain its own revenue stream.

Times have changed since 1997 and it’s time that this law did, too. Since then, the electricity market has become deregulated in NY, meaning that the existing pseudo-monopolies were destroyed and now the company selling you power doesn’t necessarily have to be the same one delivering it. It’s only fitting that green-conscious homeowners and businesses should be able to join this "free for all" to the best of their abilities and sell as much power as they can. On top of that, green has since become the "in" thing. It’s something people want to do and what our leaders are telling us we should do. If the latter are truly serious about it, they would cease doublespeak and revise the Net Metering Law to promote, not inhibit, green energy.


The Historical Society meets this Thursday at 7:30 PM at the town hall. The guest speaker will talk about Niagara County's new hospice house. The public is welcome to attend.


The PRIMARY for the assembly race in Royalton's district is getting even busier. Yet another person has thrown their hat in the ring as the US&J reports...

ASSEMBLY 142ND: Corwin launches candidacy

A fourth Republican launched her candidacy for state Assembly, 142nd District, on Monday. Jane Lewis Corwin of Clarence, an associate of Erie County Executive Christopher Collins, kicked off her bid with announcements in Clarence and downtown Lockport. She’s campaigning on the theme that reform of state government, to make it more business-like, will create the economic turnaround that allows young grads to land good jobs without leaving the state.

“I stand here as a full-time mother of three, a community volunteer and a former businesswoman, not a career politician, who is tired of the status quo,” she said. “I share the disappointment of my neighbors that, in Albany, divisive partisan politics and special interests now trump public good. I am concerned about a dysfunctional state government that has continuously resisted reform and failed to create economic opportunity for our residents.”

Corwin, formerly a Wall Street investment banker and Talking Phone Book executive, is making her first run for political office. She already has the endorsement of the Erie County GOP executive committee.

The Niagara County committee’s endorsement should be forthcoming next month, according to Chairman Henry Wojtaszek. “She’s the best candidate, the best hope for the future of the area,” he said. “She understands business and what it’s like to raise children in the area.” Wojtaszek said he informed incumbent Assembly member Michael Cole, R-Alden, by phone earlier Monday of his decision to back Corwin.

Cole, who has tried to shake the stigma of scandal since he confessed to fraternizing with an intern last year, vowed the loss of his major party backing won’t stop him from pursuing re-election. He’ll bid for the GOP, Independence and Conservative lines, all by primary if necessary, he said.“Whether or not I’m the endorsed candidate, I expect to win,” Cole said. “The party’s going to do what it’s going to do and I will make the case that I’m the best candidate. ... Let the people decide.”

Corwin is the latest in a queue of Republicans to pursue Cole’s seat. Previously announced candidates are Jeff Bono of Newstead and Leonard Roberto of Alden. Elma Supervisor Michael Nolan launched his own bid last month and dropped out last week. No Democratic challenger has surfaced yet in the two-county district. Corwin appears to be modeling the Collins-for-county-executive campaign, for which she served as an assistant treasurer. Her kickoff speech references Collins’ “standing up for taxpayers and taking a businesslike approach to government” and promises that’s her approach to pursuing elected office as well.

State government should dedicate itself to reining in spending and cutting taxes, ending unfunded mandates and creating an attractive business environment, Corwin said. “We need to change the conversation in Albany and move to a more business-like approach,” she said. “We need to move the conversation to economics and away from special interests.”

Corwin, whose family owned Talking Phone Book until 2004, is independently wealthy. She acknowledged Monday that she’s had discussions with party officials about how much money she can contribute to her own campaign but declined to name any numbers.“I prefer not to put an amount to it, only because I don’t want it to be a race for money. It’s about ideas,” she said.

Corwin and her husband, Philip, have three children. She is the president and founder of the Philip M. and Jane Lewis Corwin Foundation, which supports educational, medical and religious charities aiding children; president of the Josephine Goodyear committee at Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo; a member of the grant review committee for Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo; and is a confirmation leader at Zion Lutheran Church in Clarence Center.


Monday, April 28, 2008


Right now a lot of wheat fields around Gasport are yellow, while others are a healthy green. Don't worry: the yellow fields are not diseased crop failures.

Those fields are "volunteer wheat", a wheat crop that naturally appears a year after a commercial wheat crop. All the volunteer wheat fields have been sprayed with a "weed killer" to destroy that unwanted wheat and to prepare for corn or beans.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


St. Mary's Catholic Church will be closing this June. It's leader, Father Joe Badding, has been a fixture of the Gasport community for years and he will be recognized at a dinner following the 4:30 mass on May 17th. If you plan to attend, call St. Mary's by May 1st (it's a catered event so they need a headcount). The number is 772.7803.


Lifelong Gasport resident and former Royalton town historian, the late Don Jerge, will be memorialized this Wednesday. The Niagara County Historical Society has created the Donald R. Jerge Memorial Library at their facility on Niagara Street in Lockport. The dedication will begin at 7:00 PM and the public is welcome to attend.


If you or one of your kids is interested in becoming a hunter, you are required by NY to take a hunter's safety course. There will be one taught by the Hartland Conservationists Club next week. The course runs on three evenings: May 5, 7, and 9. If interested, call 772.2032.

Friday, April 25, 2008


The Canal has been under the process of filling the past couple of days and it should be full for the weekend.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


From the Lockport Union Sun and Journal....

BUSINESS: After two-year hiatus, Udder Delights will reopen in May

GASPORT — After being closed for almost two years, Udder Delights will again be serving up tasty scoops of homemade ice cream. The ice cream parlor on Route 31 will reopen next month, and owner Sharon Palladino said she’s excited to see her customers again.“I miss seeing everybody,” she said. “We always did a great business.”

Sharon and her son, Randy, operated Udder Delights for 18 years before they decided to retire in 2006. Sharon had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and she would no longer be able to shoulder the busy and hectic schedule at the parlor.“I had to go through the whole summer with radiation every morning,” Sharon said. “By the time fall came, it was time to close. I was pretty much done.”

She took all of 2007 off, and her treatment went well. Together, she and Randy decided it was time to reopen.They have not yet decided when the official opening day will be, but Udder Delights will reopen in either the third or fourth week of May.

Rumors of the reopening have spread, Sharon said.“I can’t go anyplace without people saying, ‘Is it true what I heard?’ ” she said, laughing. “In fact, people have said, ‘I haven't bought ice cream since you closed.’ ... We've had a great reaction from people, so that’s nice to hear.”

Sharon and her husband, Richard, started the business after seeing a lack of good ice cream places in the area.“When my husband and I grew up, there were all kinds of ice cream parlors where they made their own ice cream,” she said. “We had the land there, so we decided to try ice cream.”

They traveled around the country for two years, getting ideas and deciding just what to put in their ice cream. “We found out what was the best of each thing,” she said. “We have a very high quality for everything. I think that makes a difference. We didn’t just want the average, run-of-the-mill ice cream parlor.”Udder Delights has 650 flavors of ice cream, which are alternated throughout the summer. Customers can request their favorite flavors when they’re not available, and Sharon said employees will call them when the flavor is made.“We try to get everybody’s flavors in,” Sharon said. “We try to accommodate.”

The most popular flavor is the original “Moo Goo,” a homemade concoction using vanilla ice cream, brownie bits, chocolate chip cookie bits and a peanut butter swirl. The Palladinos and their employees have been working for weeks, making batches of ice cream and baking essential ingredients like the brownies and cookies.“I've got three weeks of making ice cream to just get ready,” Sharon said. “We've been having to buy everything all new again.”

Employee Reed Pettys, 19, has been crushing up thousands of M&Ms and other candies. Pettys, who worked at Udder Delights during its last season open, said he’s happy to be back.“It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s very relaxed here. I love the atmosphere. Plus, it’s ice cream, and you can’t go wrong with ice cream.”

Udder Delights will continue its “free doggie dish” policy, handing out dog-sized portions to people who bring their dogs to the counter. In the kitchen, Sharon’s husband, Richard, takes care of the machines, making sure everything is clean. Randy runs the counter, where Sharon said he is “well-liked.”“He really enjoys the customers, and they really enjoy him, too,” she said. “All the people we have working here have been just great people. It’s just a fun place to work.”


Monday, April 21, 2008


Once a month here at Life and Times in Gasport, NY we interview a Gasport resident or someone who has a considerable impact on our fair town. This month's interview is Assemblyman Mike Cole.

Mike has been representing us in Albany for 2 years now, taking the seat in May of 2006 in a special election held after the passing of the wonderful Sandra Lee Wirth. He was elected for a full term in November of 2006. He is up for election again this November in a hotly-contested race.

Mike is relatively young (early 30's) amongst all the greybeards in Albany. The Alden native came through the ranks as an Alden councilman and then became their supervisor. He and his wife Lori still reside in the Village of Alden with their daughters, Emily and Allison.

Mike is a 2001 law school graduate of UB and a 1994 graduate of my alma mater, Brockport State. He gained extensive government experience as the General Counsel and Senior Field Representative for former Congressman Jack Quinn.

Here's what Mike had to say about Albany and Royalton....

1) How is Albany handling the transition in executive leadership?

Let me begin by saying that our new governor has responded to the most difficult and unforeseeable set of circumstances with tremendous grace and humility. Let me also say that I’ve appreciated his clear efforts to repair the relationship between the executive and the legislature that has really been in rough shape for several years.

Unfortunately, because of the transition and the time constraints that are constitutionally in place for the budget, we saw what was really the least open, least inclusive, and least transparent budget processes that we’ve seen in many, many years. “Three men in a room” was alive and well in Albany this year. Rank and file members in both houses and from both sides of the aisle were kept in the dark as negotiations dragged on past the deadline.

I’ll give the new governor the benefit of the doubt because of the unusual and difficult circumstances, but we’ll be watching next year to make sure that the progress that had been made in recent years on budget reform gets back on track.

2) Are there any bills that are special to you in this session?

There are really two bills that I believe are fundamentally important to our community and to the state as a whole. The first, A. 5577, would prohibit the harmful state practice of “backdoor borrowing” and would put in place borrowing limits in general for the state in any given year. The fastest growing portion of our state budget is debt service. More and more of our tax dollars are used to “pay the minimum” on the state “credit card.” The fact is, we’re literally mortgaging our state’s future on the backs of the next generation. No wonder so many are fleeing the state!

The second piece of legislation that really warrants some serious consideration this year is A. 8875, the New York State Property Taxpayer Protection Act, that I co-sponsored with Mike Fitzpatrick, a colleague from Long Island. This legislation would cap local annual property tax increases at 4%, or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. The bill would also eliminate the all-too-common practice in Albany of unfunded mandates, provide for state takeover for all optional Medicaid services, and provide our schools with fourth and eigth grade test reimbursement.

If we’re going to really be serious about turning around the upstate economy, we need to get serious about the alarming rate that taxes continue to rise and Albany’s spending problem. Each of these bills seeks to bring real reform to a system that badly needs it.

3) Is there anything specific to the town of Royalton coming down the pipleline....grants, funds, projects?

Working closely with State Senator Maziarz, we’ve been able to identify funding for some important projects in Royalton. But because the budget hasn’t yet been signed into law, it’d be premature to comment too specifically. All I can say is “stay tuned!”

4) What does your election platform look like this year?

The platform this year is the same as it was in my previous elections---I’ll be focused on three topics which I believe are all related. First and foremost, I’ll focus on tax relief. Whether we’re talking property taxes, business taxes, or the taxes we pay at the pump, the rising tide of taxes has been the biggest obstacle to economic recovery.

Second, I’ll promote our agenda for the economy that focuses on good paying jobs here in our community. I’ve worked closely with business organizations like the Buffalo Niagara Partnership and the National Federal of Independent Business that has been the voice of small business for years. I’m proud of their past endorsements, and I’m thankful for the expert advice groups like that give about making our region more competitive. If any of your readers haven’t had a chance to read “Unshackle Upstate,” I hope they’ll take the time to check it out.

Finally, like most New Yorkers, I’m disgusted with just how dysfunctional our legislature really is. Until we do something about the way business is done in Albany, businesses will continue to be UNDONE here in Western New York.

To find out specifics about our Conference’s platform on a myriad of issues, please visit me at and click on the “ReNew NY” link.

5) You're coming up on completion of two years in Albany. What are your thoughts on state government? Is it what you expected?

The fact is that there’s a lot wrong in Albany. The dysfunction that people write about is real. The disconnect between some of the leaders and the communities we represent is also real. But, one thing that I think I’ve been surprised by is how shared that feeling is among rank-and-file members. As ironic as it sounds, there’s a lot of hope in the Assembly. There are people on both sides of the aisle who are fighting for change—fighting to make New York better. There are people who want to learn what it’s like to face the challenges that we face in our part of the state. And they want to share their experiences, too. If we are going to get real results for New Yorkers, we need to stop looking through that downstate lens and start seeing the state as a whole.

6) Tell us a little about Mike Cole, the man.

I think first and foremost, I’m Blessed to live in a community I love with a family that keeps me grounded while I have the opportunity to serve in a job that I was meant to do.

These past few years haven’t always been easy. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done. But even on the most trying and difficult days, I can honestly say it’s been truly a pleasure to be Assemblyman. In many ways, this has really been the most rewarding experience of my life.

I think that my success in the past and hopefully into the future has been that I relate well to the people I represent. I’ve lived here my whole life. I grew up in the little town of Alden and it’s where Lori and I are raising our two girls, Emily and Allie. I know what it’s like to struggle to pay the family’s bills or to find work in a tough economy. But I also know, and will never forget, that despite all the problems that we have, we’re very lucky to live in a truly special place.


The annual Lyrids meteor shower peaks tonight. There will be breaks in the clouds but one major problem....the full moon will drown out most of the meteor lights. But, you might still see a few.


Every year the town of Royalton is required to issue a report about the health of our drinking water. It is available here:;/content/Minutes/View/63

Sunday, April 20, 2008


After a really bad winter that started with well below average temps in December, was chock-full of winter storms, and ended just two weeks ago...the past week has been a Godsend! Temps in Gasport were in the 60's and 70's most of the week and got well past 80 on Saturday. Talk about great weather!

This has caused Mother Nature to wake up in a hurry. Here are some of the plants now out in Gasport in big numbers...
These leafy greens are leeks. The tasty plant can be found on cool hillsides in Gasport that have rich soil. Dig some up. They are a good springtime treat.

These pretty yellow flowers are mash marigolds. They can be found in well, you guessed it, marshes.

These blue flowers grow in my yard and are a century(+) old remnant of those who used to live here in the 1800's. These domesticated flowers are no longer available on the market (probably because they bloom only for two weeks). That's still surprising, though, considering that they are attractive and come back every year.

These yellow flowers really are the first flowers of spring....and they aren't dandelions. Coltsfoot was once used as a medieval cough suppressant.

These two flowers can be found in Gasport's best-soiled woods. The one on the left, just opening, is a trillium. The yellow one on the right is a trout Lilly (adder's tongue).


From today's US&J....

GASPORT: Cub Scouts find cleaner canal

In 1826, student Asa Fitch found carbureted hydrogen — coal gas — coming out the ground during a Rensselar School Flotilla excursion of the Erie Canal and put a candle to it. The gas burned in a red flame and Gasport got its name.

On Saturday Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts from Barker’s troop 26 worked their way up and down the canal from the Gasport Lift Bridge and found bottles, bags, old tarps, Styrofoam cups and even a piece of siding. Boys drifting east along the banks found much more litter than the young men who went west. All in all, the trail and the park was cleaner than last year.

“That’s very good,” said Courtney Wakefield, who came with her two boys, Jake and Max Meister. “I think a lot of people out here are helping us out.” The Meisters worked the west trail. “We didn’t find any siding or anything good like they did,” Wakefield said. Mykel Ruffini, 9, who also worked the Clean Sweep last year, said “it was very clean this year.”

Den leader Chris Richbart came with sons Josh, 8, and Zachery, 7. “It looks fairly clean, but when you start looking around, things get stuck after being blown around in the wind and there’s much more than you realize.”

Fred Fay of Barker led the Pack 26 Canal Clean Sweep. About 16 cubs participated on the trail side, while three boy scouts from Barker cleaned up in the park on the other side of the canal. It was slim pickings for veterans Joey Hinton, 13, Griffen Raymond, 13, and Tim Flint, 11.“This park’s not too bad. I imagine the canal is pretty bad,” Troop 26 leader Brian Carmer said. “It’s easier on our side,” Raymond said.

The mission took one hour and covered about one mile. The boys went 30 minutes out and 30 minutes back.“It’s good for the boys,” Fay said. “It teaches them community service because that’s what cub scouting is all about. It also stresses good stewardship of the earth.”


A few weeks ago, Gasport resident Nathan Herendeen got a nice write-up in the Lockport US&J. Today, the Buffalo News discussed his retirement with him:

A man of the soil spreads good news

Nathan “Nate” Herendeen, of Gasport, recently retired after 38 years with Cornell University Cooperative Extension in Lockport. He is an expert in soils and field crop problem-solving, pest management, grain handling, stored grain management and water quality/nutrient planning.

He married his high school sweetheart, Burniece, and they raised three daughters, who have now given them two grandsons and two granddaughters. Herendeen was on the Royalton-Hartland School Board for 12 “trying” years. His wife was a Girl Scout leader for 15 years. Family vacations usually ended up at conferences of the National Association of County Ag Agents. For 26 years, he has been an editor and writer for the agriculture newsletters AgImpact and AgFocus. He has written more than 280 articles and columns for various publications, and was honored at a retirement dinner Saturday in the Batavia Party House.

Now a sought-after a speaker on a wide range of topics, from crops and soils to the future of the ethanol industry, Herendeen was the guest speaker at a Lockport Rotary Club meeting recently at the Lockport Town and Country Club. Since agriculture is still the major industry in the Niagara region, we sat down with the expert after the meeting to get the dirt on farming.

What’s the current state of agriculture in the Niagara area?

These are good times for the ag business. Prices are high. Milk was $12 to $15 a hundredweight for years, and now it’s more than $20 a hundredweight. Vegetable and fruit prices are way up. Corn prices are the highest they’ve ever been.

How much of that bounty is being exported to other countries?

We have never been a big exporter of dairy products — until now. Dried milk products are going to China and India — they’re the big buyers. Much of the soybeans produced in the Niagara-Orleans area are exported to Canada. In the U.S., we’re sending milk to drought-affected Southern states.

All good for the regional economy, obviously.

Regionally and nationally. Farm exports are the one positive force in our balance of trade, a real stability in the current economy. We import manufactured goods but export commodities.
As an expert in soils and field crops, how does the Niagara area compare with other areas?
We have excellent soil. The limestone on the Niagara Escarpment is a mixture of calcium and magnesium, excellent nutrients. All throughout Western New York, the soil has one of the highest contents of lime and calcium. The weather here is good for crops. In the cool season, crops do very well. The cold weather interrupts the insect cycle, so we don’t have many of the bugs that plague crops in warmer regions.

You were raised on a farm. Tell us about that.

I grew up with seven brothers and two sisters on a farm in the Finger Lakes area. My father was a cattle dealer, fur dealer, wool buyer and crop farmer. With 10 kids, my mother was a full-time homemaker. Both my mother and father grew up on farms in Ontario County.

I understand there’s a history to your first name. What is that?

I was named for Nathan Herendeen, one of a group of six men who came to the area to buy property in 1788. They built cabins and returned the following winter with their families because that was when the creeks were frozen and they could get across them with horse and sleigh.

You were raised in more modern circumstances, I assume.

A little bit, but I did go to kindergarten through the third grade in a one-room schoolhouse and then to Victor Central School for the fourth grade.

How did you get into a career in agriculture?

I graduated high school in 1960 with a class of 60. Surprisingly, four of us from that class went to Cornell. Two of my brothers and one sister went to Cornell ahead of me. General agriculture was my major, but I soon became more interested in agronomy — soils and crops. When I was growing up, I always wondered why we had a couple of fields with clay and no rocks and most fields with all sizes of rocks. Rock picking was one of the skills we learned as soon as we were big enough to carry them.

There are a lot of great rocks on the Niagara peninsula, I reckon.

This whole area was covered by a glacier. That’s why we have so many different rocks. I love doing talks on soils and the glacial geology of this area.

What brought you to Niagara County?

I was a research assistant in the Agronomy Department at Cornell, doing nitrogen fertilizer experiments on farms and measuring nitrogen content in the plant parts and soil residual. That led to graduate school with a major in soils and a minor in communication arts. But I decided I’d rather be working with farmers than in research at the college level. I looked at alternative jobs and in 1969 ended up in Niagara County as a generalist agent doing dairy, crops, chickens, beef, hogs and most everything else.

And you worked your way up to what?

A crop and beef specialist on a team that was created to cover Niagara, Orleans, Genesee and Monroe counties. I am the last of the charter Cornell specialists.

Speaking of crops and beef, if you were starting out again today, would you rather be a dairy farmer or a crop farmer?

Crop farming is more risky, but your winters are relatively free. Dairy farming is a 24/7 operation, 365 days a year. You can’t take a day off.

Did any of your brothers and sisters keep the family farm going?

We still have farm property in Ontario County, but no one in the family is working the farm. It’s leased out.

The steady disappearance of the family farm is a sad sign of the times, is it not?

In the 1970s, there were 250 dairy farms in Niagara County. Today, there are about 40. But they still produce the same amount of milk. The smaller farms are being consolidated into larger farms of 1,000 cows or more. These farms have more cows and a higher production of milk per cow.

Apart from losing the heritage of the family farm, are there disadvantages to larger farms?

Larger farms generate more odor complaints from neighbors. There are a lot more people moving to the country from cities and suburbs. These are not people who grew up on a farm. The smell of manure doesn’t bother me — it’s all part of agriculture.

I caught a strong whiff of that agriculture driving up to Lockport today.

April and May are the months when farmers apply manure for the first planting of crops. Farmers incorporate the manure into the soil as quickly as possible, but there are always a couple of days after the manure is applied before they can till the soil.

Can anything be done to reduce the odor?

A lot of people have tried to make fertilizer smell different. There’s a process called methane digestion. You construct a 50-by-75-foot concrete pit with a cover so there’s no oxygen, process the manure and pump it into tanks, which are used spread it on the fields. At that point, it has very little odor — what I’d call an earthy smell.

Earthy is good.

But expensive. The process requires a huge capital investment. The machinery costs $500,000. There are only two or three methane digestion systems in Western New York.

Besides your speaking engagements and writing, what else will you be doing in retirement?

I’ve taken a consulting job with the Western New York Crop Management Association. And there are things to do around the house. We have a vegetable garden.

Is it a large garden?

Not really, about 100 feet by 50 feet, but it provides all the food we can eat.

Good soil in that garden, I bet.

The best.


Saturday, April 19, 2008


From today's Lockport Union Sun and Journal....

HARTLAND: Junior firefighters promoting safety

Decked out in their parade best, the teenage members of the Hartland Junior Firefighters gathered at the fire hall Tuesday to discuss their upcoming fundraiser. The group is preparing for its first Junior Firefighter Safety Day, to be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m May 18 . The event will include a car wash, a bake sale, a Chinese auction and other activities to raise money for a planned scholarship fund for the junior firefighters. The Niagara County Sheriff’s Department will be on hand, along with representatives from neighboring fire departments. Parents can sign up for the sheriff’s department’s child ID program and have their child car seats inspected. There will be a burn demonstration by Marty Phelps from 2 to 3 p.m. If Mercy Flight is available, the helicopter will be on hand, as well.

Junior Firefighter advisers Leigh Ames and Pete Scarborough said the group hopes to make this an annual event. Ames, who served as chief at Hartland for 14 years, was once a junior firefighter, himself. There are seven other volunteer firefighters at Hartland who were once juniors. Right now, there are 16 members of the junior firefighters — the highest number since Ames was a member.

Junior firefighters must be at least 12 years old and live in the area. There are members from Hartland, Barker and adjacent districts.In the program, they learn about firefighting skills from the volunteer firefighters. The group has monthly meetings, and members are encouraged to attend the fire company’s weekly drills, all within state regulations regarding their ages.“We don’t let them get involved in live fire (and EMS) stuff,” Ames said. “We just feel we don’t want them exposed to that.”

The juniors are trained in EMS, however, including CPR and first aid, “things that they’ll be ready for when they turn 18,” Scarborough said.

They also help out around the fire hall, selling popcorn at bingo to raise money.“We help out the firemen a lot, whatever they need done,” said Junior Firefighter Bryan Ames, 15. The scholarship fund will help encourage junior firefighters to stick around after they graduate from high school, Scarborough said.“One of the big problems we have in the fire service is a drop-off in our recruitment. It’s harder and harder to get people to come in, because the economy being what it is,” he said. “This program gets them interested at age 12, and then we bring them right through, and he’s almost ready to go when he gets to be 18 and joins the fire company.”Anyone interested in joining the junior firefighters can call Ames at 735-9093, Scarborough at 735-7045 or the Hartland Fire Hall at 735-3283.


Maria's Pizzeria has just celebrated it's 30th anniversary. To promote that, Maria's is turning back the clock to 1978....until May 31st you can get a large cheese pizza for $5.40!


Udder Delights, Gasport's famed ice cream stand, closed its doors in 2006 so the owners could retire from the business and appreciate the WNY summers. Well, Udder Delights is soon coming back! I'll post something here as I find out more.

Friday, April 18, 2008


Many people who visit this blog are former Gasport residents now living in some far-off land. Many, if not most, have left for purely economic reasons. That's topic of my column that ran in this week's newspapers. It was arguably the most popular one I've written yet. Here it is:

By Bob Confer

The chances are very good that you know someone who has left New York. According to the US Census Bureau, from July 2006 to July 2007 the Buffalo-Niagara region lost 5,166 people and since 2000 the Rochester area has lost over 7,300 of its citizens.

The numbers are staggering but they tell little of the toll on our society. Emotionally, it can be quite taxing for families to be torn apart by this mass exodus with many older parents and grandparents wondering IF they’ll ever see their children and grandchildren again. Socially, this loss of loved ones accounts for broken family units and a dampening of traditional values. For many of us, growing up with our extended families was the norm; most kin held to their roots and found a home in the area. Now, strong extended families have become a quant rarity, people abandoning their roots and, in their new homes, suffering from the lack of family members who were always there to lean on in times of need or to share special times with. Worse yet, their children grow up lacking the important guidance and loving care of grandparents, aunts, and uncles that many of us took for granted.

The underlying question of all this heartbreak and decay is a simple "why"?

The answer is always the same: these people left WNY because there’s nothing here for them. Long gone are the days when a long-term job that provided a decent wage and benefits could be readily found in the region. Unable to find such careers, workers have no choice but to find their American Dream elsewhere, typically in a far-away state where economies are healthy and their urban areas are growing at amazing rates.

To truly understand why this happening, the questioning should be taken one step further. People need to ask: "why have the jobs gone?"

The answer to this is that the great, large companies that once dominated our landscape have either closed shop or moved on to other states because through the years our elected officials have made it incredibly difficult to own and operate a business in the Empire State and be competitive. Thanks to high taxes, foolish regulations, a worsening energy crisis and an ever-growing government, the cost of doing business in New York is the second highest in the United States, second only to Hawaii, figuratively and literally an island unto themselves.

Last week I conducted my annual study of Confer Plastics’ financials to determine just how much money it lost by having its operations based solely in NY. I looked at seven key cost factors that our elected officials have control of or impact upon: electricity, natural gas, workers compensation, health insurance, auto insurance, gasoline, and property taxes.

With every one of those factors, NYS is much more expensive than the states which offer my greatest competition (Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania). Comp insurance costs 43% more here. They pay only 56% of what we do for property taxes. The one cost, though, that stands out the most is power since electricity is our third highest expense behind material and labor. Our foes pay exactly half of what we do. This is unbelievably frustrating since we have a natural dynamo - the Niagara River – right in our own backyard.

Taken in total, the seven factors amounted to a loss of revenues of $740,000 for my company versus what my competition pays. That means that the cost of doing business in NY (as a decrease in existing revenues) is 4%. This number is not unique to the plastics industry because the same cost factors are shared by any manufacturer regardless if it might specialize in metals, chemicals or automotive manufacturing. Competitively, this 4% mark-down is significant. Assume that a NY manufacturer makes a part that he could sell to a client for $100. His competition would come in at $96. If this is a high-volume part the client would definitely say "no!" to the NY manufacturer.

The businesses that stay here and try to compete under such circumstances face an uphill battle every minute of every day, looking for ways to cut costs while attempting to develop new technologies and processes without the monetary edge that our competitors have.

Many other business owners don’t have ties or roots as strong as mine and choose instead to wisely move to another state, one where it’s cheaper to do business. That’s why your loved ones left you. It was no fault of their own. They only sought what was best - despite the heartbreaks - and followed those businesses to prosperity, a place far away from New York and our sorry political/economic climate.

Monday, April 14, 2008


Sue Freeman, an author of WNY adventures submitted this article to us:

Historical Secrets Revealed, In and Around Gasport
by Sue Freeman

Drive across Western New York State and you may find yourself wondering about the houses that look like they were built with potatoes. An architectural student from New York City certainly did, as he drove to visit the Landmark Society of Western New York. After arriving, he asked Cynthia Howk, the Architectural Research Coordinator, “what are those potato houses I passed on the way to Rochester?” “They aren’t potato houses,” she replied, “they’re cobblestone houses and, they’re more special (and certainly more durable) than a house built with potatoes.”

Over 700 cobblestone buildings are found within a 65-mile radius of Rochester, New York, and nowhere else in such abundance. They’re so common here that they’re often taken for granted. But, each is a unique work of folk art that tells the story of our pioneer history. They were all built before the Civil War as commerce boomed and settlers prospered with the opening of the Erie Canal.

The cobblestones, brought south by glaciers, and rounded by Lake Ontario wave action, were an impediment to the early settlers who tried to farm the land, until they hit upon the idea of using them as an inexpensive building material. Bricks were expensive to manufacture, wood could be shipped away on the Erie Canal as a cash product, but the cobblestones were free for the picking.

Building with cobblestones evolved into an art form, with each mason developing his artistic creativity over time. Early buildings were rough structures built with the field cobbles. Random cobblestones of mixed colors, shapes and sizes were combined to create each wall. As the artistry developed, the masons sourced their cobblestones from the shores of Lake Ontario by ox cart over the frozen land in winter. The cobblestones were then sorted by children or women in groups called sorting bees. The masons, or sometimes the farmers themselves, built the structures with uniform stones, stripes, herringbone patterns, and creative flourishes that said “this is my artistic canvas and stones are my medium.” Cobblestone homeowner Margaret Deans counted the stones in her home and estimated that it took 14,402 cobblestones to build her circa-1860 farmhouse. That’s a lot of ox cart loads of cobbles.

Mortar recipes were guarded as trade secrets. Masons varied where they sourced the ingredients (lime, sand and water), the proportions used, and their mixing and storing methods. Some aged their mortar mixture in a pit covered by sand or cow manure for up to a year. The magic was that the soft lime mortar they created cured slowly, allowing the stones to settle and bear weight. It took up to 35 years for a cobblestone building to fully harden.

To build a cobblestone structure required carpentry as well as masonry skills. There was no Home Depot or Lowe’s store where the builder could purchase windows, doors, flooring, etc. Each element in the structure was custom made on site to fit a specific opening. Because of the manual labor involved, it often took 3 years to build a cobblestone home.

Houses were not the only buildings erected with cobblestone construction. The same method was used to build churches, schools, mills, barns, stores, shops, factories, carriage houses, garden houses, gate and toll houses, smokehouses, pumphouses, hophouses, privies, stables, turniphouses, piggeries, decorative walls along roadways, and even cemetery markers and cemetery receiving vaults. Many of the cobblestone buildings are standing and still in use, a testament to their fine craftsmanship.

The cobblestone buildings are clustered in a region that begs a driving tour. 17 different driving tours are described in “Cobblestone Quest”:


This is a guidebook that inspires cobblestone discovery tours and explains the history behind these unusual buildings. Read first hand accounts of what it was like to build a cobblestone home from a child’s’ perspective. Among the cobblestone buildings are museums, bed and breakfasts, and restaurants where modern explorers can touch and smell the cobblestone buildings and prove once and for all that they’re not potato houses. “Cobblestone Quest” is available from Footprint Press at or 1-800-431-1579. Tour #2 is centered in Gasport.--

Sue Freeman
Footprint Press, Inc.
NY Outdoors BLOG:
303 Pine Glen Court, Englewood FL 34223
phone & fax 941-474-8316


The November race for the assembly seat now held by Mike Cole in Royalton just got a lot more interesting: Lenny Roberto, founder of Erie County's Primary Challenge, has announced his candidacy. To learn about Lenny visit the Primary Challenge website:

Sunday, April 13, 2008


The third annual Canal Clean Sweep will be held April 19 and 20, with nearly 60 events scheduled in communities throughout the New York State Canal System corridor. Canal Clean Sweep is sponsored by the New York State Canal Corporation, in partnership with Parks & Trails New York, in preparation for the upcoming 182nd canal navigation season and in recognition of Earth Day.

The Clean Sweep events will highlight the significance of the canal system as a recreational and tourism destination in New York State as communities, businesses and not-for-profit organizations engage in cleanup and beautification activities along the Canal and the Canalway Trail.

Carmella R. Mantello, Director of the Canal Corporation, said, "The response of communities to the Canal Clean Sweep has been tremendous, with nearly 60 events planned throughout the corridor this year. This annual event brings hundreds of volunteers together to help spruce up the Canal System, including our parks and trails, and lay out the welcome mat for visitors to canal communities this spring."

The Canal Corporation and Parks & Trails NY are providing tee shirts, garbage bags and bottled water for all Clean Sweep volunteers and are also arranging for trash pickup following each of the events. Volunteers are encouraged to bring their own gloves and supplies and wear comfortable clothing and shoes.

Gasport's section of the Canal towpath will be picked-up by Cub Scout Pack 26 of Barker and their families starting at 9:00 on the 19th.

Friday, April 11, 2008


Sections of Gasport are facing power outages this afternoon. A motorist struck a power pole on Route 104 near Checkerd Tavern Road, blowing out transformers throughout the area. The driver had to be Mercy Flight-ed.


From the Lockport Union Sun and Journal:

ROY-HART: District's budget figures on target with actual state aid

There will be change at the Royalton-Hartland School District as far as a playground and a board vice president are concerned, but there is no change to the adopted budget for the upcoming school year.

Roy-Hart will receive $13,331,338 in state aid, a 3.64 percent increase from the current school year. In the governor’s proposed budget earlier in the year, Roy-Hart was receiving $13,320,966 in state aid. Superintendent Paul Bona said the difference between the governor’s and the adopted state budget aid totals were so small, it wouldn’t affect the district’s adopted budget. The $10,372 would instead be saved and used if needed.“It will be part of a carry-over,” he said. “If we see a shortfall or a situation should arise, we’ll have something to fall back on.” Bona added the board did a good job creating a budget and anticipating what would happen with the state budget. The board should continue on with the budget process, Bona recommended, because there were few changes to make to the budget.“I wish I could have told you there was two, three, or four hundred thousand dollars more, but our best ‘guesstimate’ turned out to be the best,” he said. Roy-Hart’s $23.4 million budget will have a 3.89 percent increase in the tax levy, and a tax rate raise of anywhere from 81 cents to 96 cents per $1,000 of assessed land value, depending where residents live. The board election and budget vote will be held May 20.

In other Roy-Hart news, the Board of Education accepted the resignation of Vice President Susan Hughes. Hughes gave her resignation to the district clerk last week. A few board members said Hughes did a great job and would leave a hole. “She will be sadly missed,” said board member William Howell. “She was very dedicated to the job.”The board will also have two other vacant seats to fill for the 2008-09 school year.

Aside from Hughes’ departure, Margo Hall and Mary Smith are up for re-election. A petition packet for potential candidates can be picked up at the district office on 54 State St., Middleport, during normal business hours. Petitions have to be signed by at least 25 residents who are qualified voters of the Roy-Hart district, and will be received up until 5 p.m. April 21.

Bona also brought the middle school’s playground to the board’s attention. He said the playground had fallen into disrepair, and the district had to either take it out or fix it. He said it would be “in excess of $10,000 to refurbish it,” and that the playground wasn’t used by the middle school. Due to low use, Bona recommended the playground be turned into something more beneficial for the district. Howell said people might prefer to use the playground instead of going to one in Gasport. He said he remembered driving his son there a number of times, although there wasn’t a playground in Gasport at the time, and residents might rather use the middle school one. “We’re a big part of this community, and it is important to have people come out and utilize our facilities,” he said. He also raised the idea of fundraising to pay for the playground improvements. Bona said the playground would be fenced off for safety issues until the board meets again and decides what to do with it. The board will meet with the middle school Parent Teachers Association before the next board meeting. The next board meeting will be at 7 p.m. April 23 at the high school media center.



From the Buffalo News:

Theft of several items from property probed

GASPORT — The Niagara County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the theft of tractor and bulldozer parts, as well as miscellaneous scrap metal, from the property of a Town of Hartland man. Tractor-trailer driver Ricky Flor, 36, of Ridge Road, told deputies that when he returned home from a week’s road trip he found his backyard wooden fence damaged and realized his tractor had been used to steal several heavy-equipment items.

The stolen goods included a 1936 TD6 International bulldozer blade, two tractor-trailer axles, a railroad jack and several scrap metal items.

Tracks from Flor’s tractor could be seen in the ground where the unknown thief had used it to haul away the items, deputies said. Flor told officers that while he was away, one of his friends said he saw a white male with a scruffy beard and wearing a flannel shirt driving his tractor westbound on Ridge Road. The friend said he thought Flor must have loaned the tractor to the man, so he took no action.


Thursday, April 10, 2008


The state budget was passed yesterday and with it comes more money for Gasport's roads. Here's what we're looking at:

Royalton: $154,700

Hartland: $106,000


The Royalton-Hartland Board of Education will need to fill three vacancies for the 2008-2009 school year. Potential candidates will be vying for three three-year seats currently held by Margo Hall, Susan Hughes and Mary Smith. Anyone interested in running for the Board may pick up a petition packet from the District Clerk at 54 State Street, Middleport during regular business hours. Petitions need to be signed by at least 25 residents who are qualified voters of the District and will be received by the District Clerk during regular business hours and up until 5:00pm on April 21, 2008.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


A new eatery opened in Gasport on St. Patty's Day weekend. Chops Shop Pizzeria can now be found in the Dollar General plaza on Route 31.

I finally got a chance to try it out last weekend. I had the pizza (there are traditional and sweet sauces available) and I thought it was very tasty and quite nicely done. The wife had wings and enjoyed them immensely. I will be going back for more pizza, that's for sure!

The place was extremely busy, many people coming in and out for their pick-ups, which is the sign of a good pizzeria.

The establishment is open from 11:00 to 10:00 daily (and 11:00 on weekends) and they also serve all sorts of subs and finger foods.
One of their daily specials is a large one-topping pizza and 20 wings for $20.

They even have a Friday fish fry for $8.50.

To place an order call: 772.7710.

Monday, April 7, 2008


In this month's Niagara Living tab of the Greater Niagara Newspapers they ran an article about how vets returning to the Niagara Frontier are coping with and adjusting to civilian life. One of the men profiled was Joel Frank, one of my classmates from the class of '93 at Roy-Hart. Here's the article's section about his tour:

Sometimes, it isn’t the war that can challenge the spirit of the soldier, it’s the war machine. Lockport native Joel Frank, who spent nearly eight years in the Army before officially separating Feb. 15, learned the hard way about the unrelenting inflexibility of the chain of command. He was a second lieutenant when he took command of his first unit, a 42-man rifle platoon newly returned from Iraq to be “reset” before redeployment.

“I would listen to feedback from my senior enlisted soldiers, and if they had a better way of doing something, we're going to do it that way. Some of my senior commanders appreciated that, others didn't.” One officer in particular was not impressed by Frank’s attempts to utilize advice from underlings.“He and I butted heads constantly,” Frank said.

In Iraq, Frank recalled, “I got sent packing to a very ungracious position,” pulled from his battalion and placed in charge of a brigade made up largely of soldiers with disciplinary issues or other problems. Their job was to track the movement of certain patrols through a quiet sector outside of Baghdad and guard an entry gate to Camp Victory. Frank essentially felt as if he had been placed in exile.“My purpose in life is not to go through and (tick) everyone off, but essentially I have to stand up for what I believed in or else I couldn't live with myself,” he said.

While Frank was struggling with his new assignment in Iraq, he missed the birth of his son in a difficult delivery that threatened his wife’s life. Upon his return to their little family, there were other issues that needed to be faced, including a wife who had been used to taking command at home.“I'm still adjusting,” he said. “Obviously, my wife isn't one of my men ... My wife had adapted and coped and had systems in place.”

Despite all the challenges, Frank feels at ready to deal with whatever lies ahead. “After dealing with people shooting at you and artillery coming in, it puts life in perspective and helped me reprioritize what was important, what I wanted to do. I came home and I reprioritized.” Regardless, Frank retains a sense of pride at having worn “the uniform.”“I don't regret my military time at all,” he said. “I expected my experience to be a little different, (but) I came home, I'm standing, I've got 10 fingers and 10 toes. It’s time to focus on me and my family.”

Sunday, April 6, 2008


PEOPLE PROFILE: Nathan Herendeen, crop specialist, retires after 38 years
By April Amadon Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Growing up on a farm in Ontario County, Nathan Herendeen was fascinated by the soil.“As a kid, I always wondered why the soils on our farm were so variable,” he said. “In one place, they were gravely and stony, and in another place, they were dense — what we call clay soils, with no rocks.”

Herendeen’s interest in soil led him to Cornell University and then to a career with the Cornell Cooperative Extension, where he worked with local farmers as a crop and soil specialist. Herendeen, 65, retired March 27 after 38 years at the cooperative extension. In that time, the landscape of agriculture in Western New York has changed immensely.“I wish I was young again to start over,” Herendeen said.

When Herendeen started with the Cooperative Extension, he was dealing with everything from crops to dairy and livestock, including beef, sheep, swine and even chickens.“(I was) the guy that’s supposed to know everything about everything, which is not practical,” he said. At that time, he was part of a team that covered four counties. These days, the team covers nine counties in Western New York, and a lot has changed in the meantime. The number of dairy farms in Niagara County has gone from about 250 to less than 40 in that time, “but we’re still producing just as much, if not more, milk, (due to) increases in technology, more milk per cow, more cows per farm.” On the crop side, the average corn crop in the 1970s yielded about 87 bushels per acre. These days, the average yield is 128 bushels per acre.

Aside from his work at the extension, Herendeen often speaks to groups about the soils and geology of Western New York.“It sounds boring, but it can be a very interesting topic,” he said. “(It’s important) to have an appreciation of soils and how soils and crops interact to produce food.” He said people often take it for granted where their food comes from.“(They think) it’ll always be there, it’ll always be good. They’re always going to have a diversity of selection,” he said. “I like to think over the years we’ve made improvement in soil health, soil quality.”

He will speak to the Rotary Club of Lockport on April 8 about the future of the ethanol industry, which has been a hot topic lately in the news. He said the industry is dealing with fallout from shortages in the grain commodity crops from last year; the shortages were due to dry weather in the southern hemisphere. The demand for corn, soybeans and especially wheat has gone up, while at the same time, the inventories of wheat from the previous crop year are at the smallest they’ve been since the 1970s, he said. Also, the increasing buying power of China and India, coupled with the decline of the U.S. dollar, have led to higher prices for U.S. consumers. The rapid increase in the cost of fuel has also affected prices by pushing up costs for farmers. He said he expects the market to turn as production increases.“Farmers are notorious for producing themselves out of high prices,” he said. “I expect that we’ll see, if we have good weather, we’ll have tremendous production in 2008. Farmers are gearing up to have the biggest production year they’ve had in a long, long time. ... The free market works.”

Herendeen said people might blame the higher prices on corn being used for ethanol, but he said that has little effect on the market.“That is a minor part of the whole equation, but certainly that has increased the demand for corn,” he said. The process of producing corn and making it into ethanol results in several other byproducts, including corn meal and feed, carbon dioxide and corn oil. “Usually when you see the articles in the popular press and the media, they talk about the fact that we’re using corn to make ethanol. They never mention the fact that most of the junk matter ends up going out as byproduct feed,” he said. “You do end up with by-products. It doesn’t get 100 percent converted.” The corn that’s used is not sweet corn that would be found in a grocery store, but hard dent corn, which is used to feed cows and is high in starch.

Herendeen, who lives in Gasport with his wife, Burneice, said now that he’s retired, he will continue working with agriculture on a part-time basis, though he doesn’t have any specific plans. “I still feel healthy and want to be part of the farming community in Western New York,” he said. “This Western New York area and the Finger Lakes area are really the bread basket of New York. There’s the largest concentration of good soils, good farms and good agricultures between here and Syracuse.”

There will be a retirement party for Herendeen on April 19, from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Batavia Party House in Batavia. For information, call Karen Krysa at 433-8839.

Saturday, April 5, 2008


It was mentioned here last week that the Thruway Authority cut down Canal boating hours (for those needing bridgelifts and locks) to the hours of 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM. They've changed their mind due to the outpouring of rage along the Canal system: On Monday they will announce a return to the Summer hours of 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM.


A solar wind is buffeting the Earth and there's a very good chance Northern people (us) will get to see Northern Lights tonight because of it. Keep your eyes peeled.


The Hartland United Methodist Church is having a chicken and biscuit dinner today, Saturday April 5th, from 4:30 to 7:00. Cost is $7/adults, $4/childern and kids under 5 eat free.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


The local television and print media is reporting that the town of Royalton will issue a resolution in support of former Legislative Journal host Tom Christy who was fired from his talk show for purely political reasons (he and his callers were becoming too inquisitive and critical for the liking of some elected officials).

What makes this so remarkable: cable subscribers in Royalton DO NOT receive LCTV!! The first amendment knows no boundaries!

For a primer on the Christy situation, watch WIVB TV's news story here (complete with a sound bite from yours truly):


The Lockport US&J reports....

The Town Board of Royalton will hold a special meeting at 9 a.m. Friday to discuss the hiring of a new accounting firm to prepare the 2007 Audit.The board is considering replacing Lumsden & McCormick of Buffalo with Berry & Berry, Certified Public Accountants of Franklinville. According to Supervisor Richard Lang, Berry & Berry will be more accessible, do a quality report and tie the audit with the Royalton computer system at a better price. Berry & Berry came highly recommended by Wilson Supervisor Joseph Jastrzemski. The firm has been doing the Wilson bookkeeping for three years.