Tuesday, June 30, 2009


With the Erie Canal smack dab in the middle of Gasport, many of our residents are into canoeing and kayaking. Some advice: make sure you have a life vest with you...not only for your safety, but for your financial security, too.

Why? Get this government insanity (our nanny state at its finest): One of my coworkers was innocently kayaking on the Erie Canal in North Tonawanda today. He did not have a life vest with him. So, the cops fined him $100. Unbelievable!


The Lockport US&J just Twitter-ed this news (more to follow)...

According to police scanner: Child hit while riding bike on Chestnut Ridge and Cottage Road. Mercy Flight called. Driver was being pursued by police.


The July poll is up and running on the site. It's my attempt at determing who the visitors are to this site. It is allotted as follows:

Royalton resident
Hartland resident
WNY resident (not living in Royalton/Hartland)
Former Gasport area resident living outside of WNY
"Part-time" resident (snowbird)


June's reader poll asked what you thought about black bears moving into our community. 50 people responded and it was an even split. 25 people liked it and wish there were more. The other 25 voters hated it and worried about the safety of their family, pets, and property.

I belong in the first group. I think bears are a welcome addition to the community. I recently wrote about this topic in one of my columns. I wanted to hold off on posting it here until after the poll was completed so that I didn't skew the results.

Here it is....

By Bob Confer

Three years ago I was turkey hunting in Allegany County when I did something no successful hunter should ever do. I fell asleep. Getting up well before sun-up, hiking the hills, and then sitting quietly under a tree with the warm May sun beating on you can have that effect.

Maybe ten minutes into my nap I was awakened by a snapping stick. I quickly woke up, thinking a turkey was coming in to me. As my sleepy eyes adjusted to the light I saw a black shape just ahead of me. I quickly realized that it wasn’t a turkey. It was a black bear less than 15 yards away, coming right at me!

I didn’t freak out. I didn’t blast him with my shotgun. Instead, I did what you are supposed to do in such close quarters. I stood up, spread my arms to make myself appear larger and yelled "get!" And, boy did he ever! The 250-pound beast grunted, spun around and hightailed it to a spot 50 yards away where he paced back and forth trying to figure out what just happened. A minute later he trotted away, obviously in fear.

My guess is that prior to me going into "attack" mode he didn’t know I was there because I was camouflaged and he was only heading to my exact spot because he had been downwind of me and caught a whiff of my deodorant. He probably figured there was something pleasant-smelling in the woods that he could eat.

The encounter with that bear is one of a dozen that I’ve had in Western New York over the years. Under all such circumstances I wasn’t the one who was afraid. The bear was. Each and every encounter resulted in the bear either walking or running in the other direction after the bruin realized there was a human present.

As an outdoorsman and naturalist – and one who has experienced it first-hand - I know that black bears are harmless creatures, more afraid of us than we are of them. But, unfortunately, most people do not know this. Hollywood has them believing that all bears are deadly man-killers while the Discovery Channel has them wrongly assuming that all bears are aggressive, 900-pound grizzlies.

I really can’t blame people for being scared either. Even without the media influence a bear sighting can be a naturally disconcerting experience. Except for deer, most animals of the woods are wee little things like chipmunks and coyotes, so when a creature the size of a bear appears out of nowhere it can frighten even the strongest of souls.

That’s what happened recently in Niagara County. We were visited by a bear no bigger than a cub. Being that he was something out of the norm, he startled the people who saw him and had them worried about the safety of their pets and children. The subsequent television news coverage caused thousands of others - city dwellers and rural folk alike - to worry if their lawn might be the next one visited by a bear.

It might just be. This bear will be the first of many to visit our area. In recent years they have become more common in southern Erie County and have been making regular appearances in populous Monroe County, in 2007 getting as close to us as Brockport and Hamlin. They are on the move because their population is growing (2008’s bear hunting take in the Allegany region exceeded the old record by 60 percent, indicative of the population explosion) and the local lands that were once small family farms have grown into brush or woodlots, becoming more attractive habitat.

Don’t be afraid of these bears. Despite their size, teeth and claws they are relatively docile. Black bear attacks are extremely rare. There are roughly 900,000 bears in North America that result in, on average, just over two human injuries per year. Since 1900 there have been 57 people in the US and Canada killed by black bears. In comparison, man’s best friend sends 1,000 people to the hospital every day for bite wounds and dogs kill about 36 people in the US every year.

Nonetheless, don’t go out of your way to be a friend to bears. Whatever you do, don’t feed them and don’t approach them. You wouldn’t do that to a fox, opossum or raccoon. Bears are wild animals and, like all those wild animals, they can turn. Just keep your distance and appreciate them for what they are, a fascinating and rarely-seen part of the natural world. You should count yourself as lucky – not unlucky - if you happen to see one. Accept their visits to your neighborhood with open arms…or with spread arms and healthy yelp if that makes you any feel safer.


I just heard a request for help on WLVL . Someone lost their dog in the Hartland Road area of Gasport...a black poodle mix named "Sassy". If you find the creature give WLVL a call at 433.5944 and they will put you in touch with the dog's owner.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


The Niagara County Sheriff's Office recently updated their website and have added some cool tools to it. Check it out at: http://www.niagarasheriff.com/

Among the best features of the site is "Crime Maps" which can be found on their links page. When this page comes up, enter Gasport, NY in the driver. It will bring up a Google map of the area that shows the exact location of recent crimes along with a brief synopsis of the crime. The map is updated every night.

You can also sign up to receive e-mail alerts when a crime occurs near your home.


One of the joys of living in the country is the ability to go out and pick your own berries...not just on a farm like Becker's, but also out in the woods.

While walking around the spread this weekend I found countless wild raspberries, cherries, and strawberries, all ripe and tasty.

Make it a point to get out to a woodlot or hedgerow this week to collect these fruits while you can. If you've never had a wild strawberry, you're missing out. Although they are extremely small (no bigger than the fingernail on your pinky) their flavor is intense and far rivals that of any of the "domesticated" strawberries.

For those of you who like delicious blackcaps (which always go well on top of vanilla ice cream), they are still a good 5 days away from being ripe.

Mulberry's look like they'll be ready by July 10th.

Enjoy Gasport's natural bounty!

Friday, June 26, 2009


As you're enjoying the Independence Day festivities next week I want you to remember that Gasport is not one of those big cities where the government runs the firework display and coordinates the rest of the day's events. Royalton's 4th of July Celebration is an entirely voluntary event, overseen by a dedicated committee of residents who make sure that our community can celebrate America's birthday in style.

The committee consists of...

Jeffrey Brown
Deb Genet
Beth Tiefel
Pam Schmitt
Tom Brigham
Ericka Brigham
Mike Drum
Jay Watts
Paul Schmitt
Matt Courser
Kristen Courser
Chuck O'Brien
Shelly O'Brien

There are also countless others who have volunteered their time and equipment...and many people and business who have donated much-needed funds to the cause.

Make it a point to thank them. They are the kind of people who make Gasport such a special place!


Saturday, June 27th; Royalton-Hartland Graduation: 7:00 PM at the High School. The weather forecast looks great!

Saturday, June 27th and Sunday, June 28th; NY Free Fishing Days: For two days the NY Department of Environmental Conservation suspends the fishing license requirment so people can sample New York's great fishing. Give the Erie Canal or Red Creek a try!

Sunday, June 28th: 14th annual fly-in breakfast at the Royalton airport on Dale Road. You can drive-in, too! Sponsored by the Gasport Masons, proceeds will go towards a Roy-Hart scholarship.


WLVL offers this recap of a Tuesday night rumble in town...

The Sheriff's department says charges are pending after they responded to a fight around 2:30 Wednesday morning at Boyers Tavern in Hartland. A report says it erupted after a 20 year old Ransomville woman entered the bar with some men. The woman, who is pregnant, was hit in the eye with a closed fist. She was concerned about the health of her unborn child.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


We are a week and a half away from Gasport's biggest event of the year, the annual Royalton Fourth of July Celebration!

This huge event will take place at Victor Fitchlee Park (Royalton Ravine).

Here's what's happening....

1:00 until sold out: Chicken BBQ

3:30: Parade, starting at the Hartland Bible Church (formerly St. Mary's). Line up for the parade will be at 2:30. If you have any questions about the parade or would like to participate you can call Beth Tiefel at 772.2635.

4:00 until 8:00: Kid's Zone. A $5 wrist band will include unlimited games, bounce houses, a craft tent and a petting zoo

5:00 to 6:00: Music by Last Call

6:30 to 8:30: Music by Urban Renewal

9:00 to 11:00: Music by Red House

Dusk: Fireworks

There will be shuttles running from 5:00 to 11:00 from the Gasport and Terry's Corners fire halls.

If you'd like to set up a stand/booth at the Park or if you have any questions about the event, please call Pam Schmitt at 772.5084.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Yesterday the NYS Department of Education issued a report about the 4-year graduation rates for every school district in New York, along with the Board of Regents' thoughts for improving the graduation rate.

How did Royalton-Hartland perform?

Those who should have been the class of 2008: 83%...21 kids didn't make it

Those who should have been the class of 2007: 76%....37 kids didn't make it

The who should have been the class of 2006: 83%...26 kids didn't make it

To read the report and to see how Roy-Hart compares to other schools, go here:


Sunday, June 21, 2009


The Buffalo News offered a nice analysis of the local graduating classes in Sunday's newspaper. Here's what they wrote about Roy-Hart...

High school Counselor Colleen Albee said 104 students will graduate this year. Graduates have received numerous scholarships, including Jordan Bork, who won a $6,000 scholarship to Rochester Institute of Technology.

Amanda Catalano won a $14,000 scholarship and $1,000 grant to Wells College. Shaunna Kraatz won a $48,000 scholarship to Niagara University. Matthew Kuhn won a $96,000 scholarship to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Benjamin Hand will attend Word of Life Bible Institute to become a youth pastor. Kaitlyn Klotzbach plans to attend Mercyhurst College for forensics. Paul Kozlowski will attend Niagara County Community College for culinary arts, and Joseph Baron plans to enlist in the Army after graduation.

Class valedictorian is Casey Schroeder, who will attend the University of Rochester for biology and premed, and salutatorian is Jonathon Beabout, who will attend the U. S. Air Force Academy, where he plans to major in political science and minor in French and Chinese.

To read about the rest of the districts check out this page:


Saturday, June 20, 2009


The Buffalo News has a story about a 21-month old Lockport girl who fell out of a third-floor window and broke her leg.

The story ends, though, not discussing that kid, but instead adds this little tidbit...

Tuesday, a toddler fell from a second-story window in Gasport and was treated for minor injuries.

The story can be read here:


Friday, June 19, 2009


There's a story in the Batavia Daily News about local rocker Jonesie (Gary Jones) releasing his first CD. Among them is a Gasport-related song. The article says...

(The) tune "Liquor and Poker," describes the former Don's Bar and Grill in Gasport, where customers could get a drink in the bar and go play cards in a back room.

To read the article in its entirety, go to:


You can see Jonesie's website on MySpace at:



Saturday, June 20th and Sunday, June 21st; Niagara Wine Trail Event: Visit Vizcarra Vineyards and the rest of the wineries on the Niagara wine trail for a totally delicious experience. It's National Dairy Month, so let's Celebrate Wine & Cheese! $20/person & receive a commemorative wine glass at your first stop (you choose) and sample wine & cheese pairing at each winery along the way. Visit http://www.niagarawinetrail.org/ for details.

Sunday, June 21st; Father's Day Bar-B-Que: Chicken and ribs prepared by the Gasport Lions Club. On sale from 11:00 AM till ?? at Becker Farms. Meal includes potatoes, roll, and strawberry shortcake. Cost is $8 for chicken, $9 for chicken & ribs, and $11 for ribs.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


WLVL's John Raymond has been reporting the following in today's news....

The Sheriff's Department is reporting a home invasion last night in Royalton. It happened just after 11 in an apartment at 4443 Main. A 26 year old woman said she arrived home and was investigating a noise, when her door was kicked in and she was assaulted by three black men wearing masks. They tied her up and locked her and her four year old daughter in a seperate room. They then fled after taking her purse and car. The woman suffered brusing and swelling to her head and facial lacerations. The child was unharmed.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Someone who once lived in Gasport e-mailed me, requesting an article about Mirror Lake. I think that is a fantastic idea!

In the coming weeks I'll put together a history about that pond that provided so much enjoyment to Gasport's youth decades ago.

If you have any stories or photos you'd like to share please e-mail me at bobconfer@juno.com

Friday, June 12, 2009


Friday, June 12th; 100-Mile Radius Meal: The first in a series of farm meals presented by Becker Farms and based on agricultural products grown on the farms in the immediate area. Seating is by reservation only. Visit http://www.beckerfarms.com/ or call 772-2211 for more information.

Sunday, June 14th; Community Church Service: To be held at Becker Farms' Pavilion and conducted by the Gasport Ministerium at 10am.

Sunday, June 14th; Strawberry Extravaganza at Becker Farms: Celebrate the strawberry harvest down on the farm! Enjoy the chicken BBQ, pony rides and hayrides and walk around the farm. Pet the animals at the petting zoo. Play at the playground and listen to live music and Pick-your-own and already-picked strawberries available.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


This Friday, June 12th, there will be a rummage and bake sale from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM at the Hartland United Methodist Church.


The spring concert is at 7:00 PM tonight at the Roy-Hart high school auditorium, featuring the students in grades 7 and 8.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


The Lockport US&J ran this story...

HARTLAND — A Rural Metro EMT accused of stealing money from an accident victim is under investigation for another reported incident. Anthony Murphy was charged last month with one count of petit larceny. He was accused of stealing from a patient at the scene of an April 28 accident at Stone and Purdy roads involving a Lockport man. Murphy allegedly removed an undetermined amount of money from the victim while giving him emergency medical care, according to a sheriff’s department news release.

On Thursday, a woman told deputies that while she was being treated by EMTs at an accident scene, $55 was taken from her purse.The woman was involved in an accident June 1 on Ridge Road in Hartland, the report said. A witness reportedly said they saw Murphy going through the woman’s purse while she was on a stretcher. Murphy is currently on suspension from his duties at Rural Metro. The investigation is continuing.

Source: http://www.lockportjournal.com/local/local_story_159212035.html

Monday, June 8, 2009


The Gasport website list has been updated. To check out recent additions scroll down the right-hand toolbar of this site to "Gasport Web Directory". If you noticed that I have failed to mention the website of a business, club or activity that is located in Gasport please let me know about it and I will revise the list.


MONDAY: Royalton town board, 7:30 PM at the town hall. Agenda can be read here:


THURSDAY: Hartland town board, 7:30 PM at the town hall

THURSDAY: Royalton-Hartland school board, 7:00 PM at the High School

Sunday, June 7, 2009


The Buffalo News reported the following on Sunday...

A Walnut Street man pleaded guilty to third-degree burglary Thursday in Niagara County Court and agreed to testify against two co-defendants. Scott A. Coyle, 19, is to be sentenced Aug. 4 by Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza for his part in a break-in at a house on Orangeport Road in Royalton on the night of April 2-3.

Deputy District Attorney Holly E. Sloma said that a rock or brick was thrown through a window and that jewelry, television sets and liquor were removed, hidden near the Erie Canal and retrieved later.

Source: http://www.buffalonews.com/437/story/695352.html


Plenty of information about the Royalton Fourth of July will be coming out in the weeks ahead, but here is a rough schedule so you can plan your day...

1:00: BBQ
3:30: Parade
5:00 - 10:30: Bands
10:30: Fireworks


There was another bear sighting in Gasport over the weekend. A Hartland resident saw one in the woods west of Quaker Road. So, based on the time span in which all sightings have occurred, it appears that the bear...or multiple bears...have taken up a somewhat permanent residence in the area.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


All week long the local press was inundated with stories regarding Business First's annual school district rankings. It was a lead-in to the issuance of their 140 page "Guide To Western New York Schools" which offers detailed analyses for each and every district. I received a copy in yesterday's mail.

Here's how our school stands in regard to some of the various criteria...

Rank: 58 out of 97 districts, putting us in the 40.6 percentile. We've slipped a little, last year we were in 57th place. But, we have improved over the long-haul: during the past ten years we've ranged from 57th to 88th

Local comparison: Roy-Hart is ranked 9th among 10 Niagara County school districts

Graduates earning regents degrees with advanced designations: Only 34.9%, putting Roy-Hart in 75th place

Best subject: English. 37 out of 97

Worst subject: Social studies. 74th place

Achievement index: Our school is labeled as a "large underachiever". This means that our students perform worse than what the community's socioeconomic profile predicts

Some of the supplemental info they provided....

Pupil-teacher ratio: 12.2 percent

Spending per pupil: $13,565


This 7-second video is a little grainy, but it shows how significantly natural gas bubbles out of a local stream. This is how Gasport got its name. Unfortunately, due to almost two hundred years of development, most areas that had bubbling gas in the town are long gone.

I promise to film a better video soon.


June's poll asks what you feel about bears being in the area. Do you like it or do you hate it?


The readers' poll for May is done. 70 people voted in the survey and Chop's Shop is far and away the most popular place to grab a bite to eat in Gasport.

Here's how the poll played out:

Chop's Shop: 22
Greenliefs: 12
Canalside: 10
Austin's Pizza: 8
New England Seafood: 8
Talk of the Town: 8
Cup & Saucer: 2


From the pages of the Lockport US&J...

Two dogs in Hartland have reportedly killed a raccoon, and the animal tested positive for rabies. Town of Hartland Dog Control Warden Martha Sherman said two boxers killed a raccoon on Seaman Road, between Common and Drum roads. Tests on the raccoon came back positive for rabies, Sherman said. The dogs’ owner said they had both received their rabies shots. Sherman said pet owners in the area should make sure their animals are vaccinated.

Friday, June 5, 2009


The Lockport Union Sun and Journal is planning on doing a story about the Hartland bear and they are looking for first-hand accounts. If you or someone you know has seen the creature, please send your tips to me at bobconfer@juno.com and I will forward them to the reporter.


Last night some Hartland residents saw a bear again in the area north of Route 104 and east of Hartland Road. This one had dogs in pursuit.


From the pages of the Lockport US&J...

Nouman Bhatti, 35, 2825 Drum Road, Middleport, was charged Thursday with driving while intoxicated, driving with a suspended registration and driving without insurance. Deputies reportedly stopped Bhatti for speeding on Route 104. Bhatti reportedly had glassy eyes, slurred speech and smelled of alcohol. He reportedly told police he was heading home and did not realize he was speeding and that he’d had “just a few beers, but it was a while ago.” Bhatti allegedly failed several field sobriety tests and registered a 0.14 percent blood alcohol content. He is due Tuesday in Hartland Town Court.



The American Diabetes Association's Tour De Cure takes place this Saturday with routes that will take some bicyclists through Gasport (Carmen Road, Royalton Center, Gasport Road and more).

For information about this fundraiser go to:



Business First released their school district rankings today and Roy-Hart came in at 58 out of 97.

Read the article here:


Thursday, June 4, 2009


Saturday, June 6th; Hartland Sharpshooter Competition: 10:00 AM at the Hartland Conservation Club on Orangeport Road, 10:00 till finished. Any rifle, any sights. Grand prize (1/2 proceeds go to winner). $10 entry fee. Call 783.1013 for more information.

Saturday, June 6th: Car wash and lunch: At D&B Auto, Route 31. Hosted by Boy Scout Troop 23. 10:00 AM till 3:00 PM. Lunch menu includes italian sausage and hot dogs. Proceeds benefit Troop 23.

Sunday, June 7th; Car Wash: The Gasport youth group will be having a carwash along with a yard sale and hotdogs. Proceeds will benefit Relay for Life and Meghan's Fund. 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Location: ??

Sunday, June 7th; Kids Day at Becker Farms: Come out to the country and enjoy the luxuries of farm living. Pick your own strawberries (weather permitting) and feed the animals. Enjoy pony rides and hay rides from 11am-4pm. Bakery, homemade fudge, ice cream, gift shop, and much, much more. Free balloons for kids under 12. Free Entertainment for kids by "Evergreen." Hot dogs and hamburgers served at "The Dog House." Vizcarra Vineyards will also be open with over 15 fruit and grape wines! No cover charge.


Business First issued their high school rankings today. Roy-Hart ranked 77 out of 131 high schools. Read the article here:


Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Today's Union Sun and Journal ran a story about local schools seeing improvements in the annual state math tests. Here's what they reported about our school...

There was an increase in the number of Roy-Hart seventh-graders who passed the math test. About 98.4 percent scored a level 3 or 4, as compared to 84.7 percent last year. The number of fifth-graders who reached a level 4 nearly doubled, with about 40.8 percent this year, compared to 21 percent a year ago.

To see how the school compared with others in the area, read the article here:



Business First's middle school rankings came out today. Roy-Hart ranks 94 of 211. Read the report here:


Tuesday, June 2, 2009


WLVL reports....

Democrat Scott Hughes announced his candidacy Monday for the fifth ward council seat being vacated by John Lombardi. He attended Geneseo State and graduated from Buffalo State with a Masters in Social Studies. He's taught it at Roy Hart Junior High School since 1993. Hughes says he wants to create an enviroment for Lockport that developsgreen space and a recycling program not hampered by study after study. The 44 year old also says it's time to equalize assessments and create better programs for young people.


Buffalo's Business First is releasing their highly-anticipated annual analysis of school districts all this week.

Today they put out their elementary school rankings. Roy-Hart came in at 176 of 292 schools. You can see the list here: