Friday, April 29, 2011


The Town of Royalton Historical Society will meet on Thursday, May 5 at 7:00. Please note the time change.

The meeting will be at Town Hall, 5316 Royalton Center Rd, Middleport. Our guest speaker will be Maureen from the Dale Association in Lockport. Come and learn about the 17 programs and services offered in and around Niagara County. The Dale Association is not just a Senior Center, they have programs and services for anybody at any age.

All are welcome! Hope to see you there! If you have any questions please contact Jennifer Bieber at 716 735-7335.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Gasport was hit by major windstorms this morning.

The entire county below the escarpment and along the lake shore got the worst of it in Western New York. Sustained winds throughout the area stayed well above 50 for long periods of time. Gusts in excess of 60 were common. I heard one fellow on the ham radio say there were peak gusts of 78 mph in his home weather station in Olcott.

I had raced home from work and the entire commute was full of downed trees and power lines and homes' roofs torn apart. I had really never seen anything quite like it in Niagara County. I hope I never do again.

As you'll see in the photos below, my yard was not spared, a tree just grazing my house and another ripping the service line off my house.

As bad as all of this damage is in the area, we need to understand it could be worse. Violent storms across the US have taken 200 lives the past few days. I'll take property damage over death any day.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Dawn Laubacker, the general manager of Niagara Metals Royalton, says the company will be hosting a fundraiser on July 23 for Mercy Flight. They will be landing the helicopter there between 1 & 2 pm.

Niagara Metals will be selling Chiavetta’s chicken barbecue dinners with proceeds going to Mercy Flight. They will also host a “Buck in a Boot” drive the same day for area firemen. So far they have Gasport Chemical Hose on board and they are in the process of bringing in others.

Dawn has also arranged for Dale Jenks to come in with his draft horses and wagon to offer rides for the kids. She is hoping this will become an annual event and bring a lot of people to this community.

Says Dawn, "Niagara Metals is proud to call Gasport our home. We have a small crew here but we have met so many nice people."


WIVB reports on some adventures in Gasport yesterday morning...

Niagara County Sheriff's say they had to chase a suspect both in his car and on foot for two hours before apprehending him in the early morning hours on Tuesday.

Police say they received a call around 3 a.m. from a person passing by Boyers Tavern in Gasport, saying they saw suspicious activity. Police say they arrived at the scene and witnessed 33-year-old David Matyjasik leaving the bar. When Matyjasik saw police, authorities say he got into his vehicle and fled.

After a short vehicle pursuit, police say the suspect got out of his car in fled on foot. Multiple agencies responded, including Middleport Police, State Police and the Niagara County Sheriff's K-9 unit, and after a two hour search, arrested Matyjasik on Hartland Road around 5:30 a.m.

Matyjasik is facing charges for Tuesday's alleged burglary as well as charges from a prior incident. He was charged with one count of third degree burglary, resisting arrest, unlawfully fleeing an emergency vehicle, and several vehicle and traffic violations. For the past incidents, Matyjasik was charged with two counts of third degree burglary and two counts of petit larceny.

Matyjasik is being held without bail until further court proceedings.



Dustin D. Cumbie, 23, of Hartland Road was sent to state prison Monday for a sex crime and failure to make restitution for thefts from local businesses.

Cumbie was sentenced to one to three years behind bars for sexual misconduct and two counts of third-degree grand larceny.

Cumbie pleaded guilty to having sex with a 14-year-old girl on August 16th.

He also owes $38,152 plus a 10 percent Probation Department surcharge for unpaid restitution for thefts of aluminum from Gasport Welding and Brigham Concrete.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Erie County Fire Blotter reports the following:

A fast moving house fire has caused extensive damage and forced a family to seek help from the American Red Cross. Just before 10 p.m. Friday, the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call reporting smoke in the residence at 7963 Telegraph Road. The Niagara County Sheriff’s Office tells Erie County Fire Blotter that firefighters from Gasport Chemical Hose and Terrys Corners Fire Companies found fire on the second floor as well as the attic. It appears that the fire started in the area of a fire place chimney. The fire entered the wall and spread to the other floors. Officials say that damage to the home is extensive. The cause is under investigation. Assisting on scene were Middleport and Wrights Corners fire companies.


Editor's Note:
I haven't driven to the hamlet this morning to verify, but based on the address above, it would be Steve Harrington's house. Steve is the kind-hearted fellow who runs the Erie Canal Fishing Derby in an effort to get more kids and families involved in fishing.

I went to the hamlet today and it IS Steve's house.

Friday, April 15, 2011


The annual Easter egg hunt put on by the Gasport Lions will take place on Saturday, April 23rd at 11:00 AM at Veteran's Park in the hamlet.


Jeff Brown of the Royalton Fourth of July Committee has shared with us the list of bands for that event:

4 pm til 5 pm: 21 Skidoo
5 pm til 7:30 pm: Urban Renewal
7:45 pm til 9:15pm: Last Call
9:30 pm til 11 pm: Red House

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


With the Civil War having started 150 years ago today, the War of the Rebellion has been in the news and educational media a lot lately.

One such story appears in today's Argus Press, the newspaper of Owosso, Michigan. It looks at how abolitionists helped slaves escape through that community. It notes that two conductors of its Underground Railroad were from Gasport...but then again, maybe not...

Owosso had a hand in making history during this time, and a house located at 400 W. Main St. served as a “station” for the Underground Railroad before and during the Civil War, according to the book “Owosso, Michigan A to Z” by the late Helen Harrelson, which was published in 1993.

“Stations” were planned stops that included churches, homes or any other safe place for people escaping slavery to hide, the Detroit Opera House website states.

In Harrelson’s book, the local legend relates Chris (Sally) Haller ran Owosso’s Underground Railroad “station” from the house at the northwest corner of Main and John (now Curwood Castle Drive) streets.

But as research by Harrelson showed in her book, the Hallers did not move into the house at the northwest corner of Main and John streets until 1867, which was two years after the Civil War ended.

In fact, the couple did not even move to Owosso from Gasport, N.Y. until 1865, Harrelson’s book states.

Although the Hallers did not run the house as a “station” for people escaping from slavery, the house was a “station,” most likely run by Aaron and Maria Hinckley, who lived in the house before and during the Civil War.

Harrelson states in her book that she met with Clara Marie Sayles, the granddaughter of Chris and Sally Haller, to gather more information on the house at the corner of Main and John streets, and found Sayles’ memory of the house included knowledge of a secret door into the attic that was accessible only by climbing a pear tree at the back of the house.

Read the entire article here:

Monday, April 11, 2011


National recording act "The Ready Set" (singer Jordan Witzigreuter) will be performing at Roy-Hart this Wednesday at 9:30 AM. It's WKSE's (Kiss 98.5's) gift to the student body for having collected the most pennies for Women's & Children's Hospital in WKSE's recent contest. His most highly-rated hit was "Love Like Woe."


A grant of $6,500 has been awarded to the Western New York Land Conservancy to help protect a working farm in Gasport. The grant is from a $1.4 million package awarded to projects throughout by the Department of Environmental Conservation.

“This represents an exciting time for land conservation in Western New York,” according to Patricia Szarpa, executive director of the conservancy. “These dollars will take care of the transaction costs in placing a conservation easement on the land.

This grant will protect a Dale Road farm and transform it into a u-pick destination with farm tours and educational programs.


Double Dips, the ice cream stand in Medina, is under new management. I hear that it's folks from Gasport: Jeremy and Jill Silsby from Silsby Settlement Farms.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Saturday, April 9, 2011


I am always amazed at the number of fundraisers held in the towns of Royalton and Hartland that aren't mentioned on this blog or in the paper. Don't be afraid...we're here to help! For free, no less!

I will gladly plug your church/community/benefit event well in advance so you can drum up donations (gift baskets, door prizes, etc). I will gladly do the same just prior to the event to drum up interest. Don't hesitate to send me an email at to get your event mentioned on the blog.

To get it mentioned in the Lockport paper -- where it will be seen by thousands of readers -- email Lynnmarie Donner who writes the "Towpath Partyline", the great weekly column that looks at the people and happenings of Royalton and Hartland. Her email address is:

We'll gladly spread the word to help make your event a success.


The Hartland Volunteer Fire Company is having a gun show on Saturday, April 16th and Sunday, April 17th from 9:00 to 4:00 at the fire hall on Ridge Road in Gasport. Admission is $6 while kids under 12 are free. Tables are still available. Call 716.735.7045 for info.

Friday, April 8, 2011


According to Wikipedia, Community-supported agriculture (CSA), a form of an alternative food network, is a socio-economic model of agriculture and food distribution. A CSA consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farming operation where the growers and consumers share the risks and benefits of food production. CSAs usually consist of a system of weekly delivery or pick-up of vegetables and fruit, in a vegetable box scheme, and sometimes includes dairy products and meat.

Becker Farms announced on their Twitter and website yesterday that they have made a CSA program. Check it out here:


Today's Tonawanda News says the following....

A Gasport man accused of invading a Hess road home Dec. 29, got into an argument with a Niagara County Court judge about his lawyer Thursday morning.

John P. Corra, 32, argued that he did not think his attorney Christopher Privateer was doing his job, however Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza begged to differ.

“Do you not have ears? ... He’s obligated to tell you everything that prosecution says ... He’s the best around,” Sperrazza reassured the defendant.

Corra is facing an 11-count indictment charging him with four counts of second-degree kidnapping, first-degree robbery and burglary, second-degree assault, fourth-degree grand larceny, petit larceny, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, unlawfully fleeing from a police officer, and several vehicle and traffic violations.

Read the rest of the article here:


The Lockport Union Sun and Journal reports the following...

Royalton-Hartland School Board members have adopted a budget for the 2011-12 school year that includes something that was cut a year ago: football.

Board of Education members voted 6-0 to adopt a $22.5 million spending plan that comes with a 4.84 percent increase in the tax levy. The budget is a slight 1.47 percent increase in spending from the current school year’s $22.1 million budget.

The rest of the article mentions where $645,000 in cuts come from. Read it here:

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Roy-Hart will battle Williamsville tonight for WLVL's Scholastic Bowl championship. The match-up begins at 5:30 PM and can be heard on 1340 AM or online at


I will be speaking to the Royalton Historical Society tonight (Thursday) at 7:30 at the town hall. I will talk about the struggles of running a business (and living) in New York, focusing on some of the high costs created by government and what can be done to fix them. The meeting is open to the public.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


My column for this week's Greater Niagara Newspapers looks at an important historical figure who was born and raised right here in Royalton...

By Bob Confer

With the recent passing of Geraldine Ferraro, the press, the Democratic party and Americans in general abused history with their remembrance of her life. People everywhere celebrated her role in the 1984 presidential campaign and most said she was the first woman to appear on a presidential ticket.

Not to belittle her accomplishments, but she was not the first. To properly identify what Ferraro accomplished, one must say she was the first woman to appear on a presidential ticket of a major political party. In terms of being the first woman on a presidential ticket from any party (large or small), she was bested by someone who was born and raised in Niagara County: Belva Lockwood.

Lockwood ran for the office of the president (not just vice pesident) exactly one century before Ferraro’s feat. She repeated that task in 1888, both times under the National Equal Rights Party. In 1884 she received 4,100 votes, a fraction of those received by winner Grover Cleveland — ironically, another candidate with a solid Western New York background — who garnered 4.87 million votes.

Limited numbers notwithstanding, Lockwood’s performance, far rivals that of Ferraro. When Ferraro was Walter Mondale’s running mate, women had a long history of holding federal office dating back to 1917 in the House (when Jeanette Rankin was elected) and 1932 in the Senate (when Hattie Caraway was elected). But, when Lockwood ran, women were looked at as second-class citizens; they couldn’t even vote.

Back then the common sentiment was that they belonged in the home and shouldn’t participate in more manly pursuits like governance and law. The majority of the “gentlemanly” press painted her as a joke when she campaigned, just as they did any other woman who counted herself as a suffragist, one who fought for women’s voting rights.

Lockwood was incredibly instrumental in changing those disgusting ways in which we viewed and treated women in the public arena. She overcame the negative coverage and showed that she was up to the task of debating and developing a platform, a 15-position masterpiece that was arguably more substantial than that of Cleveland or his Republican foe, James Blaine. Had women possessed the right to vote, she would have been a formidable opponent and definitely a game changer. (The 1884 election was close: Cleveland had 48.5 percent of the vote while Blaine had 48.02 percent.)

Outside of politics, she was just as impressive. As a teacher, she developed new curriculum in her schools and expanded the knowledge base afforded young women, exposing them to studies that only men once took. She also became one of the first female lawyers to practice in the U.S. and ultimately the first one allowed to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court.

She was a successful lawyer at that; she fought the case of the Eastern Cherokee Indians against the government, winning them a settlement of $5 million (which in today’s dollars is $97 million). Somehow, she managed all this while running a boarding house and tirelessly fighting for women’s rights.

It’s high time Lockwood got her due. She was an entirely self-made woman; her achievements were not the result of privilege. Lockwood empowered herself and gave women the hope that they could do the same. In her time she ranked with Susan B. Anthony (who was immortalized on a dollar coin) as one of the most powerful and well-known women in the country. Despite that, we seem to have forgotten who she was and what she did, as made evident by the accolades thrown upon Ferraro. Nationally, primary schools look at her as nothing more than a footnote, if she’s even mentioned at all.

It’s really disappointing to find that some of the local school districts are guilty of the same. You would certainly think that someone of her historical importance who was born in Royalton and lived and worked in the Lockport area until her early 30s would get great coverage in local history classes.

That begs the question: If she’s not an honest-to-goodness local — and national — hero(ine), then just who is?


On Monday Business First issued their analysis of teachers' pay across WNY. Roy-Hart came in at 32nd out of 98 with a median of $52,343. The report said 31.7% of Roy-Hart's budget is for salaries while another 7% is for health benefits.

The district with the highest median pay is Williamsville ($67,750) while Wyoming comes in with the lowest ($44,168).

Check out the study and its various tables here:

Monday, April 4, 2011


The Sunday edition of the Buffalo News featured a cover story about how school spending keeps rising across WNY even though enrollment as a whole has declined considerably.

Get this: Since 2005-2006, WNY schools are spending 27% more per pupil.

There was one lone standout in the report....our very own Royalton-Hartland.

Roy-Hart has the distinction of being the least reckless of the spenders. Spending has grown by "only" 8% (the next lowest is North Collins at 15%). Over that same period our tax levy has grown by just 1%.

Look at how spend-crazy some of the other local districts have been: Barker 18%, Lockport 29%, Newfane 30%, Wilson 41%. It's really disturbing.

Roy-Hart now spends $14,190 per pupil. It's still high (especially compared to the national average), but it's the second lowest amount in all of WNY (Lancaster is best at $14,159) and the lowest by far in Niagara County. Lockport is next at $15,036. On the other end of the spectrum, take a gander at Barker: $20,646...are you kidding me!?

I've said it before and I'll say it again...In WNY, Roy-Hart may have the most proactive school board and administration when it comes to finances. This report proves it.

Read the news story here:

Download the accompanying table here:

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Today's Daily News features a story about the importance of buying American, highlighted by the efforts of Gasport's Drum Oil...

The secret to reviving the economy, returning industry to America and creating hundreds of thousands of jobs may be right under our noses, according to many local business people.

‘‘We can fix what’s wrong with our country ourselves, and we don’t need the government to do it,’’ said Rick Drum, owner of Drum Oil in Gasport, who is adamant about ‘‘buying American.’’

Drum refused delivery of a new service truck when it arrived with overhead doors made out of the country.

‘‘That didn’t make sense when we have a company right in Akron which makes them,’’ Drum said.

He has since insisted all his new trucks be equipped with the locally-made doors.

Most Americans are resigned to the fact everything they buy is probably made oversees, but it is possible to buy American with a little extra effort — and the effects would be astronomical.

Read the entire article here:

Friday, April 1, 2011


With winter coming to an end, thoughts turn to Summer.

The Royalton 4th of July committee is already working diligently on Independence Day activities. Jeff Brown sent us the schedule of activities at Royalton Ravine Park...

Monday July 4, 2011

1pm Park and parking opens
2pm shuttles will start from Terry's Corners fire hall and Gasport fire hall
2pm chicken bar-b-que and food venders open
3pm parade
4pm Dixieland band
5pm kid's games start
5:30pm bands on stage start
10pm fireworks

Jeff stresses the importance of taking the bus. Park at either fire hall, and they only ask for a $1 donation per rider to help with the costs of the kids games and fireworks. There will be no tailgating in the parking area!

Anyone who would like to donate time and/or money, please contact Jeff at or send donations to:

Royalton 4th of July Committee
4457 Central Ave.
Gasport, NY 14067


Boy Scout Troop 18 is hosting its annual spaghetti dinner fundraiser this Saturday from 4 to 7 at the Covenant Church on Main Street in Gasport. Tickets are $7 at the door. Take-outs are available. Proceeds will benefit the troop.