Monday, December 31, 2007


A few week's back I drove by the former Piatkowski's butcher shop on Route 104 and saw new signage out front for the European Meat Market. I thought this was a wholesaler selling only to distributors, but, lo and behold, they sell a variety of meats direct to the consumer. Judging by this write up in the Journal-Register, it's worth a visit:


Those who attended Gasport Elementary School probably remember Jack Beedon, who taught sixth grade there from 1964 to 1997. He's a good guy, I always remember him being an entertaining and informative educator. He lives in Orleans County (where he serves as a county legislator) and there's a great article about him in the Medina Journal Register. Read it here:

Sunday, December 30, 2007


The Royalton Historical Society is meeting this Thursday, January 3 at 1:30 PM at the town hall. The public is welcome. Guest speakers will be Jim and Sally Wagner, talking about their trip to Europe.

Saturday, December 29, 2007


The Erie Canal has defined Gasport's history and is still key to the area today. There's a lot happening on the Canal all across the state and there is a newpaper, New York Canal Times, that looks at news and events from the entire Canal system. It is available online at:


The Buffalo News ran a story a few days back about Royalton's new government for 2008...

2008 ushers in change on the heels of turmoil
By Teresa Sharp

ROYALTON — Tuesday marks a changing of the guard in the Town of Royalton. That’s the day a new supervisor and three new board members will be sworn in after a tumultuous year.

The four officials were voted in to office after the town struggled to get its financial house in order, levying whopping tax hikes to do so. This year’s town budget raised the town tax by 266 percent in the Village of Middleport and by 67 percent elsewhere in the town. Town officials insisted it was necessary to restore town finances.

In contrast, the $5 million budget for 2008 includes a tax rate hike of 2 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation (to $2.07) in Middleport and 20 cents per $1,000 (to $3.67) for residents of the town outside the village.

“I’m happy with our [2008] budget,” said Town Board member Richard J. Lang, who will become the new supervisor. “I’m satisfied that it’s a good budget. We worked very hard on it.
“But we have to learn how to operate the town government within a declining tax base,” he said. “We have to be fiscally responsible and watch our pennies. And I want citizen input on looking for ways to keep our costs down while we continue the services we render.” Lang moves to a full, two-year term in the supervisor’s office. He defeated incumbent and fellow Republican Calvin W. Rhoney.

The new year also will signal a complete overhaul of the Town Board, when newcomers Jennifer H. Bieber, Bradley L. Rehwaldt and James G. Budde take office. Incumbents Lee Criswell and A. Robert Stahl did not seek re-election, and the third opening was created when Rhoney was appointed supervisor and left his Town Board seat, which wasn’t immediately filled. A decision has not yet been made on filling the fourth seat, belonging to Lang, who had two years left on the board.

Longtime Royalton resident Molly McGirr said she appreciates Lang’s fiscal conservatism. She said she became active in his campaign for supervisor because she finds him “honest and forthcoming.”

“He’s willing to listen to everybody and consider other options, and he doesn’t believe in just spending money willy-nilly,” said McGirr, a retiree. “He’s a breath of fresh air.”

Lang, 66, retired in 2003 after 34 years as an officer with the state Department of Environmental Conservation. He was elected to the Town Board in November 2005. He and his wife, Gretchen, moved to Royalton in 1969 and live on Hollenbeck Road. They have two grown sons and seven grandchildren.

He said getting involved in town government is something he always planned to do in retirement. “I wanted to be involved in making decisions for Royalton,” Lang said. “I’m very excited about being supervisor, and I’ve got some ideas. Because I’m retired, I want to establish some regular office hours at Town Hall where I’ll be available to the citizens,” he said. “I want to hold monthly meetings with department heads and develop a list for shortand long-term goals. I want to get more use from our town Web site and try and establish a more open and friendly government for the citizens,” Lang added.

Lang said creating a master plan for this rural town of 7,700 residents is a top priority. The town hired Wendel Duchscherer in September to help with the project. A master plan previously created in 1972 was never officially adopted.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


Many people, in an effort to kill time in the winter months and help Mother Nature, maintain bird feeding stations. Some folks put up one feeder while others put up multiple feeders for mixed seeds, niger, and suet.

Well, you can do that and help Science at the same time.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology maintains a major annual affair called Project Feedrwatch where over the winter months you record the species and numbers of birds at your feeder. This aids them in tracking bird populations and the advanacement of bird diseases. An amateur naturalist, I've particpated in the program for the last eight years or so. To join the helpful program visit this website:

This is a great year to take part in the program. Winter has been pretty snowy and cold, so our little feathered friends are looking for some grub and I've heard reports that certain northern species which have seen so few of in recent years (like redpolls and evening grosbeaks) are making one of their cyclical visits to the US.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Yesterday the Niagara County legislature issued it's 2008 budget with most of the county taxpayers seeing their rates (per $1,000 assessed value) dropping. In Gasport, it depends on what side of Slayton Settlement Road you live on: Hartland residents will see their county taxes drop 4% to $7.81 while Royalton's tax rate will go up by 6% to $9.34.

Read about it in the Buffalo News:


The City of Lockport's official Christmas tree was just put up...and it's from Gasport, courtesy of Tony Majka. Here's the Lockport US&J's story...

Mayor Michael Tucker and state Sen. George Maziarz were on hand Tuesday to mark the season as a 20-foot-tall, Christmas-decorated evergreen tree was erected at the southeast end of Canal Street. The City of Lockport obtained the tree from Maziarz, who got it from Royalton resident Tony Majka. According to Maziarz, Majka called his office a few weeks ago and offered the tree to any organization that could use it, saying he had to cut it down but didn’t want to see it immediately destroyed. Maziarz called Tucker and offered it to the city.

“Tony’s generosity really is the hallmark of what this season is about,” Maziarz said. “This tree nicely adorns the Canal Street area here in Lockport, which is looking better and better every day.” Tucker thanked Majka and said he’d accept the gift on behalf of all city residents.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Now that deer season is done, snowmobile trails "maintained" by the NYS Snowmobile Association, local clubs and NYS parks department are open to snowmobile traffic. One trail even cuts through the heart of rural Gasport. See the State's map here:

Alot of snowmobilers break the law and ride their machines on the Erie Canal towpath, stopping for libations and grub at the Canalside Inn on Main Street.

Monday, December 17, 2007


The storm forecasted for Sunday was kind of a letdown. The weathermen had us getting almost two feet of snow and blizzard-like conditions. We got a foot of snow and, yes, it was windy and snow drifted about, but the roads are wide open now. I'm out and about before 5:00 AM and the roads were in very good shape...the crews did an awesome job overnight.

Roy-Hart remains open but the city schools across Niagara County (NT, NF, Lockport) are closed for Monday. Why, I really don't know. I can hear Don Cherry in my head right now saying, "what a bunch of wimps."

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Terry's Corners Fire Company is holding a Christmas auction at their hall today, December 15th, starting at 11:00 AM. Admission is free and you can bid on a multitude of gifts for everyone, items ranging from tools to toys to household items.


The weather forecasts are making it sound like a major snowstorm will hit Gasport on Sunday. Starting at 10 PM Saturday and lasting through 7 AM Monday, we'll be under a winter storm warning. They say we'll be dumped on by 14 to 22 inches of snow and will experience near-blizzard conditions with winds between 20 mph and 30 mph. If that happens I'll be sure to take pictures and post them on this site.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Earlier this year I had the pleasure of reading the book "Gasport Girl". It's an enjoyable read and I strongly suggest Gasport residents get a copy to get a feel for the village's history during the World War II era.

The book is a memoir of sorts by Jean Lang who used to write for the Henrietta (NY) Post. She gives accounts of the summers and holidays of her youth that were spent with her grandparents in Gasport.

To buy this informative and entertaining book go to this website:

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Anyone 30 and older who went to Gasport Elementary School no doubt remembers Mr. McCormick, the gym teacher. Sadly, he passed away on Sunday. He was 82.

Mr. McCormick was just like the Hollywood stereotype of a gym teacher, a strapping athlete and ball of fire who ran intense warmups like you were on a sports team but always made the games themselves fun and competitive. He would even participate in the games and I can remember the joy of seeing him whip the ball around in Chinese Warball (dodgeball). One trick he could do which still amazes me to this day: he could throw a football underhand with a spiral and accuracy. Every time my friends and I get together to play ball someone always mentions that ability.

Mr. McCormick taught swimming and was also a coach for basketball and track & field. He was great all-around nice guy.

Viewing hours are Wednesday 7 to 9 PM and Thursday from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 at Lange Funeral Home in Lockport. You can leave his family a message of sympathy at

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Every December since 1992 I've hosted a football game that has become an over-hyped event to the participants. The players always look forward to Mudbowl and the bragging rights that come with victory and big plays. This year's Mudbowl XVI will take place this Saturday, the 15th at noon at the soccer field at the Gasport school. For the third year in a row it will be a flag football game (we're getting too old for tackle), but still remains exciting. For more information visit:

Monday, December 10, 2007


My newspaper column this week touches on an issue near and dear to many Gasporters: subisidies. It might rankle some feathers locally but I decided to rail against subsidies that are used on corn that is dedicated for ethanol. You can read it at:


Saturday, December 8, 2007


Even friendly Gasport is not free of the ills of society. One of our businessmen was convicted of racketeering last night in federal court. Here is the abridged version of the Buffalo News story...

Niagara man convicted of racketeering charges
By Dan Herbeck

Niagara County businessman David R. Cain Jr. and two family members were convicted late Friday of running a violent gang that threatened, bullied and attacked business people in rural areas of Niagara and Orleans counties.

After a hard-fought racketeering trial in federal court, Cain was convicted of 17 felony charges that, according to prosecutors, will put him behind bars for a minimum of 50 years. His brother, Christopher, and cousin, James Soha, were convicted of five felonies each. Authorities said they face mandatory prison terms of at least 10 years each.

The convictions brought jubilant reactions from prosecutors and Niagara County police officials, who had feared the worst if Cain was put back on the street. In recent years, police said, David Cain had brazenly threatened a judge, two prosecutors, a detective and many witnesses. He had even burned the private car of a Niagara County sheriff’s deputy in the driveway of the deputy’s home.

In racketeering charges filed in 2006, federal agents accused David Cain Jr. of organizing and running a gang of criminals who threatened, vandalized and attacked Cain’s business rivals. His brother and cousin were accused of helping him. Cain was determined to run the largest tree-trimming and logging business in Niagara and Orleans counties, and he decided to accomplish his goal by driving others out of business, Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony M. Bruce said.

Loggers and tree-trimmers who competed with Cain lost tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment and vehicles in a series of arsons and vandalism incidents, Bruce said. According to police, Cain and his associates committed many violent acts that intimidated people in rural communities such as Newfane, Yates, Medina, Barker and Hartland.

“To me, these people are nothing but desperadoes,” said Niagara County Sheriff Thomas A. Beilein. “They threatened and intimidated honest business people and showed no respect for the law at all.”

Among the victims who testified were Dan Gollus, who ran a Lockport tree-trimming business, and Keith Kent, a logger from Orleans County. Kent testified that Cain and his henchmen nearly put him out of business after he and Cain had a falling-out over a proposed $40,000 lumber deal. After vandalism attacks that destroyed a truck and other equipment, Kent said, Cain screamed threats and insults at him one day in 2003. One of Cain’s alleged henchmen testified that he tried to ram a bulldozer into Kent’s house, but the vehicle ran out of gas before it could reach the building.

Gollus said Cain threatened to kill him and twice ran him off the road while driving a huge logging truck. One day after a disagreement with Cain in July 2004, Gollus testified, his beloved 1949-vintage airplane erupted in flames inside its hangar in Royalton. The uninsured plane was a total loss.

At another fire scene, at a tree-trimming business in Newfane, prosecutors said that Cain Jr., Soha and others ignited 100 cords of firewood and 30 tons of wood pellets. The February 2002 fire destroyed two dump trucks and caused flames that soared so high they could be seen in Buffalo, 40 miles away.

David Cain operated a treetrimming and logging business in Gasport and a junkyard in Middleport before he was jailed after his grand jury indictment.

Friday, December 7, 2007


Earlier this week I made note of Gasport's 1800's oil well. Royalton historian Jesse Bieber sent me a photo of it to share with all. Here's the really neat pic! This well used to stand where the village park (near the lift bridge) is now.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


The town of Hartland is having a hearing about fire protection on the 13th. Here's the legal notice:

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


The Roy-Hart school board is on a drive to lower the speed limit on Route 31 in front of the elementary school in Gasport, as the Lockport Union Sun and Journal reports...

At a Nov. 29 school board meeting, the board announced that the district sent a request to the state Department of Transportation to lower the speed limit. Currently the limit is 55 mph. The change, if approved, will take some time. The department sent a letter back to the district confirming it had received the request.“They look at traffic patterns, traffic count, history and other things,” said Roy-Hart Superintendent Paul Bona. “This is a formula they use to determine if the speed should be lowered.”

The elementary school has about 550 students; this is an enrollment increase over previous years, because of the addition of universal pre-kindergarten. There are four classes, two in the morning and two in the afternoon. Bona said the school wasn’t the only reason the limit should be lowered: The surrounding area has also seen an increase in traffic.

To read the entire article, go here:

Monday, December 3, 2007


Last night I heard a lonesome train whistle in Gasport, something that will become increasingly more common.

The train traffic going through the village is on the rise since Medina's brand-spanking-new ethanol plant started operations on November 29th.

Some look at trains as a nuisance. I look at them as a nicety...trains are a vital part of American history and commerce and the increased traffic means there are good things happening in the local economy.

Read about the plant here:

Saturday, December 1, 2007


The New York Times has started to archive on the web their papers from long ago. Here's a nifty news article from August 10, 1883 about the discovery of oil in Gasport...