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February, 2016:

Friday, February 20

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Monday, February 29, 2016

A pair of indictments were issued in the boating death of a 16-year-old Lockport girl on June 11, 2015.

Gregory G. Green and Timothy J. Wisniewski were indicted for the June 11, 2015 Ellicott Creek boating death of Avery Gardner following eight months of investigation.
The Town of Tonawanda Police Department, along with the assistance of other law enforcement and civilian entities, invested hundreds of man hours in completing a complicated and thorough investigation to help assure justice will be served and that those persons responsible are held accountable.
The investigation included exhaustive interviews with all parties involved, as well as accident reconstruction techniques, to help answer the numerous questions that led to this tragic event.
A statement from the Town of Tonawanda PD says, "Going forward, we hope that the facts that were uncovered in this case help the family of Avery Gardner in seeking the closure they rightfully deserve. We wish to acknowledge the Erie County Sheriff’s Department, New York State Police, and Ellicott Creek Fire Department for their assistance in this investigation."


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BUFFALO -- The Buffalo Sabres today announced the team has acquired a conditional third-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for forward Jamie McGinn.

McGinn was acquired from the Colorado Avalanche on June 26, 2015 and has 27 points (14+13) in 63 games for the Sabres this season. An eight-year NHL veteran, the former second-round pick (36th overall) has 155 points (83+72) and 182 penalty minutes in 429 career games.

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The National Weather Service calls for a slight chance of snow showers this afternoon with falling temperatures. The day's high of 36 will be around 10 a.m. Tonight, there's a chance of snow showers with a low around 21.

Tuesday offers a chance of snow with a high near 32. Tuesday night brings snow and freezing rain with a low around 26. Wednesday, snow is likely with a high near 29 and a low around 16. Thursday looks to be partly sunny with a high near 24 and a low around 8.

Friday will be mostly sunny with a high near 23 and a low around 12. Saturday: Partly sunny with a high near 33 and a low around 24. Sunday will be mostly cloudy with a high near 41.

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Just a few more classic reviews left before the drive-in opens, so I wanted to take some time to introduce you guys to movies you may have never heard of, but should take the time to see. John Ford was a four-time Academy Award Winner in the Best Director category, so it was always assumed that everything he did was high quality. I don’t know about everything Ford did, but I do know that the guy knew how to turn real history into a fascinating story.

Prisoner of Shark Island is the dramatic telling of the story of Dr. Samuel Mudd. For a quick history lesson, Dr. Mudd is the physician who set John Wilkes Booth’s broken leg after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln in (oddly enough) Ford’s Theater (as far as I know – no relation). Dr. Mudd seemed like an innocent man doing his sworn duty to treat all patients when he was put on trial for conspiracy to murder President Lincoln. Dr. Mudd is also the reason that people who have their name tarnished say that their name is mud.

There are a variety of conflicting stories about Dr. Mudd, and it is obvious that John Ford sits firmly in the “the doctor was innocent” camp. Ford decides to follow the storyline that saw Mudd treat Booth while not knowing who Booth was, and did not report Booth to the army authorities until he was told about the assassination the day after it happened and put two and two together. Once he realized he had treated the assassin, he told the army. Many witnesses to the events dispute the good doctor’s version of the story and claim that the doctor not only knew Booth, but had conspired with Booth against Lincoln in the past.

What I liked about this classic flick is that Ford is not shy about his stance on the subject. He commits to Dr. Mudd being innocent and turns the doctor into a hero for saving a fort full of prisoners and soldiers. The truthful part of the story is that Mudd did indeed save an entire fort filled with soldiers and prisoners from yellow fever. The disputable part is how innocent Dr. Mudd really was in the whole conspiracy to kill the president.

The movie does raise an interesting question: The only reason Mudd gets dragged into the story is because he treated Booth’s leg, so did Booth know he was going to break his leg and planned his treatment in advance with the doctor? It seems silly, but it is just one of the interesting points the movie covers.

John Ford took historical events and turned them into fascinating stories. It helps that, with this story, a lot of the drama really took place. So there was no need for Ford to add a whole lot. The characters are well developed, and the movie moves along at a pace that keeps it exciting. This movie was made during an era when Hollywood studios would put out dozens of new movies a month, so finding a classic is not as easy as it sounds. The fact that Ford created a classic during an era when movies were a dime a dozen remains a testament to his ability to tell stories.

The Prisoner of Shark Island is a movie you can actually learn from. It takes real events, and presents them in a dramatic format. It is a movie that is well-written, well-directed, and contains a lot of great acting performances. This movie also benefits from Ford’s insistence that his movies avoid the cliché dialogue and sets that other movies of his era were famous for.

If you want to see a great movie made by a great director based on a subject you are familiar with, then see John Ford’s The Prisoner of Shark Island. Not only will you enjoy it, you may even learn something.

Rating: 3 ½ out of 5

+George N Root III is a drive-in fanatic who starts to tremble as drive-in season gets closer. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3 or send him a message at

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Sunday, February 28, 2016
Emergency responders attend to a crash scene on South Transit Street this evening. The road was closed for about an hour while the crash scene was investigated. (PHOTOS BY HEATHER N. GRIMMER / ENP STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)


South Transit Street was closed during the investigation.
North- and southbound traffic on South Transit Street in the city was shuttered tonight due to a one-vehicle accident in the 200 block of the street.

Lockport Police and Fire Departments responded to the crash scene around 8:23 p.m., as did the Niagara County Sheriff's Office and Twin City Ambulance.

The vehicle was towed from the scene and the road was re-opened to traffic.

No further details were immediately available.

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Students Cooper Zugelder, left, and Ben Hickman, right, visit with author Mary Anne Capellino as part of the P.A.R.P. program. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)


Author Mary Anne Capellino visited DeSales Catholic School students on Wednesday as part of the school's participation in P.A.R.P. (Parents as Reading Partners).

The nationally recognized fitness expert and author has written a series of children’s motivational picture books about EEEK the frog that are a delightful tool to help the entire family focus on happy, healthy lifestyles.

The P.A.R.P. fun continues from 6 - 7:30 p.m. Thursday with a special Family Literacy Night.  This event is open to the public and takes place at the Chestnut Ridge Road school. Highlights of the planned event include birds from Messinger Woods, service dogs sponsored by PAWS, a book swap, interactive and fun activities for kids and much more. Food trucks will also be available in the DeSales parking lot beginning at 5:30 p.m.

P.A.R.P. is a program that encourages parents to read with their children for at least fifteen minutes a day.  The suggested reading can be fun as well as informative. Parents and children can chose to read anything from books or magazines to anything with printed words. The daily activity of reading together boosts reading skills in children and also fosters the parent/child relationship.

DeSales is Eastern Niagara County’s only Catholic School, welcoming students of all faiths in Pre-School through Eighth grade. For more information call 433-6422 x407, or visit

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William S. Towne entered into rest on February 27, 2016.

Born on January 23, 1951, he is the son of William G. Towne and the late Naomi (Johnson) Towne.

Beloved Father of Angela, Jason and the late Ben Towne. Dear Brother of Allan and Will Towne and Janet (Dan) Jones. Beloved Uncle of Rebcca Kruse, Sarah Jones, Gregory, Eric and the late Christopher Towne.

There will be no prior visitation. Burial will be at the convenience of the family.

Arrangements by


Eastern Niagara Hospital (ENH) has been approved by the American Osteopathic Association to establish a Family Medicine Residency Program.

Sponsored by the Lake Erie Consortium for Osteopathic Medical Training (LECOMT), the hospital will serve as a site for residents in the Family Medicine Program. Residents will complete rotations through numerous specialties, while being mentored by members of the hospital’s medical staff who have agreed to serve as faculty.

Dr. Joseph V. Mure
Joseph V. Mure, MD will serve as director of the program. Dr. Mure has an extensive background in the field of family medicine and education. A graduate of the University at Buffalo School of Medicine, Dr. Mure recently served as the vice chair of clinical services and assistant professor for the Department of Family Medicine at the University at Buffalo, as well as the family medicine medical director for UBMD.

Dr. Mure is a diplomat of the American Board of Family Medicine.  He has been the recipient of several awards and commendations, including being selected as one of Business First’s Healthcare 50 Award Winners in 2014.

“I am excited to be the program director for the new family medicine residency," Dr. Mure said. "This will be a first for the hospital and we appreciate the support of the medical staff. This program will provide us with the opportunity to offer a rich educational experience, where residents will be able to follow their patients throughout all aspects of their care; through testing, consults, inpatient and outpatient.  My main goal will be to recruit, train and retain primary care physicians for Western New York.”

Dr. Nicholas Varallo
Nicholas Varallo, a 35-year member of the Eastern Niagara Hospital medical staff, has agreed to serve as the program’s administrative director of medical education.  Dr. Varallo has a private practice in the Lockport community, specializing in family medicine.  He also serves as a physician in the ENH Emergency Department. Dr. Varallo has held numerous medical leadership positions at the hospital, and currently is the chief of family medicine.  He is Board Certified by the American Board of Family Physicians.

Dr. Varallo added, “I am looking forward to serving in this capacity as we start a new chapter in the Hospital’s history.  I’m also grateful to my colleagues who have agreed to assist with me in this capacity.  Their commitment and willingness to share their expertise will go a long way as the residents train for their own independent practices in medicine.”

Residents are currently being selected for the program start in July of 2016.

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TOWN OF LOCKPORT -- A 22-year-old Medina man was charged Monday with unlawful possession of marijuana following a traffic stop.

According to New York State Police, Michael S. Hoyt was in possession of approximately 2 grams of marijuana and a glass smoking pipe with marijuana residue.

Hoyt was issued an appearance ticket returnable to the Town of Lockport Court on Tuesday.

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The Niagara County Center for Economic Development will host a business workshop Wednesday at Lockport City Hall -- one of three planned countywide this year.

The Niagara County Center for Economic Development will offer a business
workshop Wednesday at Lockport's City Hall. (ENP FILE PHOTO BY 
The workshop, offered with the assistance of the Niagara USA Chamber and the Greater Lockport Development Corp., will run from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. and focus on various programs available to business as well as opportunities for facilities siting and workforce training.

“We know the importance of providing information and tools to the private sector businesses that are generating jobs here in Niagara County, as well as those thinking about setting up shop here,” said Niagara County Legislator Kathryn Lance, R-Wheatfield. “We want business to know we’re ready to be a committed partner and ally.”

That’s a message echoed by Legislature Chairman Keith McNall, R-Lockport.

“We’re working very closely with our partners in the Chamber, the town of Lockport IDA, the GLDC, and the Niagara County Community College Small Business Development Center to bring all of these different resources to one place, under one roof, at one time,” McNall said. “This is one-stop shopping for our business leaders so they can consider the options available to them as they grow and expand.”

The workshop will cover programs to lower electricity costs, business loan and financing options, real property tax and sales tax incentives, land and buildings for sale or lease, and grants available for workforce expansion.

“As an accountant, I know that it’s crucial that our businesses maximize their cost containment,” said Legislator Will Collins, R-Lockport. “We want businesses to know about grants, about tax incentives, about ways to lower their costs because we want businesses to succeed, to grow, and to create jobs.”

Legislator Tony Nemi, R-Lockport, agreed. “The most important thing we can do is create an environment that fosters economic growth and job creation. This workshop is part of that commitment.”

Additional workshops are planned for May 4 at Niagara Falls City Hall and Sept. 7 at the North Tonawanda Municipal Building.

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ELMIRA -- Five East Niagara Students were recently named to the Dean's List at Elmira College for Academic Achievement for Term I, 2015.

Students who earn a 3.6 or greater grade point average on a 4.0 scale for the academic term are recognized on the Elmira College Dean's List for academic excellence.

Local students who made the cut included:
  • Thomas Bragg of Gasport
  • Caroline Connolly of Newfane
  • Allison Gagliardi of Lockport
  • Emma Miklinski of Lockport
  • Courtney VanBuren of Middleport
Elmira College is a private, coeducational, liberal arts college founded in 1855, located in Elmira, New York. The College has an undergraduate enrollment of approximately 1,200 full-time students, of which thirteen percent are valedictorians or salutatorians of their high schools or preparatory schools. Students come from 35 states and more than 20 countries.

Elmira College's mission is to offer its students both liberal and professional education of sufficient breadth and depth to enable them to pursue successful, rewarding careers. The College blends academic rigor, distinctive programs, and theory and practice beyond the classroom to prepare students to be tomorrow's leaders. Academic programs are steeped in the arts, humanities, social and natural sciences, with special attention given to the refinement of communication skills and the exploration of world cultures.

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Industrial wind corporations have a history of unethical behavior in New York State. In response to citizen complaints then NY State Attorney General Cuomo established a voluntary Code of Conduct in 2009 to protect the public from conflicts of interest between companies and local officials. Save Ontario Shores, a citizens group formed in response to proposed 600 foot industrial wind turbines in the towns of Somerset and Yates, calls for Apex Clean Energy, Inc. to immediately sign and return to the New York State Attorney General the Code of Conduct for Wind Farm Development that it received from the Attorney General’s Office on or shortly after February 8, 2016. As of February 18 the Attorney General’s Office had not received the signed Code from Apex. Citizens of Yates and Somerset have gone far too long without disclosures from Apex about possible conflicts of interest.  

Apex Clean Energy, Inc. has stated publicly and on its website that “Apex will continue working with the Attorney General’s office as we develop Lighthouse Wind, and we look forward to signing a code of conduct when it is offered by the Attorney General. “   The Attorney General has offered Apex a Code of Conduct with signature lines and the local community expects that the document be signed immediately, returned to the Attorney General’s Office and expects immediate compliance.

Apex refused to sign the 2009 Code of Conduct, insisting that it is no longer needed because project approval or denial under Article 10 will be made by the Public Service Commission Siting Board and not by local elected officials. In May 2015 Apex’s attorney sent the Attorney General a memorandum regarding this.

Save Ontario Shores and the Towns of Somerset and Yates have countered that, while not the ultimate decision makers, local municipalities have important decision making roles in this process including approval of MET towers and tax assessment. We have repeatedly requested that Apex sign the 2009 Code of Conduct. During 2014 and 2015 Apex failed to sign the Code and then turned around and sought approvals before town boards; it has been up to citizens to investigate if officials and employees have signed leases and what potential conflicts exist.

The AG’s Office discussed the Code with Apex in December 2015 and, after reviewing and incorporating some of Apex’s suggested changes, the Attorney General mailed to Apex, on February 8, 2016, a modified 2016 Code of Conduct complete with signature line for them to sign.

Why has Apex not signed the Code of Conduct? We do not know if it is due to the fact that there is a Planning Board meeting on March 3, 2016 in the Town of Somerset regarding additional MET towers. This is an excellent example of the type of local decision making that the Code of Conduct was meant to protect from any appearance of conflict of interest. Voluntary recusal of board members is not sufficient to protect the public. We call upon Apex to sign the Code of Conduct and comply with it before going before the Somerset Town Planning Board or any municipal body for any Lighthouse Wind approvals.

Apex’s delay in signing and complying with the Code of Conduct adds to the ongoing experiences of citizens who have had questions addressed by Apex with “you’ll find out later” type of language. People want disclosure. Let us know your plans. Let us know the number and locations and types of turbines you are considering. Stop telling us that you will tell us later. Sign the Code of Conduct. Comply with it.

-- Kate Kremer is Vice President of Save Ontario Shores, Inc.

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NEWFANE -- Newfane's First Baptist Church will host its second coffeehouse at 7 p.m. March 11 when Leslie Lee and Steve Gretz from the Rochester area will perform.

Lee and Gretz' music combines their backgrounds in traditional, country, Americana, and Gospel.

Admission is free as are the beverages and cookies. Pizza will be available for $1 per slice and CDs of the performers will also be available for purchase.

The church hall, located at 6047 East Ave. will be decorated for St. Patricks' Day.

For more information, call 778-9216 or visit

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The staff Christmas party for the Penalty Box included a rousing game of broomball. Now Penalty Box owner Jon George wants other local bars to get in on the broomball action. (PHOTOS BY SCOTT LEFFLER / ENP STAFF)


What began as a pick-up broomball game as part of the Penalty Box's Christmas party has the potential to turn into full-fledged bar-league broomball at Cornerstone CFCU Arena.

Broomball requires balance and hand-eye coordination. Funny costumes are
Since the bar and restaurant wasn't able to celebrate Christmas with its employees at Christmastime, owner Jon George closed the kitchen on Sunday and treated his staff to dinner -- although the bar remained open to the public.

After the meal, George's employees signed waiver forms (and some donned costumes) to play a quick game of broomball at the arena's NHL Rink No. 2.

While it appeared many rules of the game were ignored (can you spin the net so the opening is against the boards?), the staff seemed to have a great time.

Now George is hoping that staffs from other area bars will want in on the action. He's envisioning a multi-week, multi-team league to be played at the arena.

Bar owners and managers are encouraged to contact George if interested. He can be reached at the Penalty Box at 727-0993.


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Adam Braunscheidel
WHEATFIELD -- A 25-year-old Wilson man was charged Tuesday with bail jumping after New York State Police say he failed to appear in Town of Lockport Court.

Adam Braunscheidel was located on Lockport Road in the Town of Wheatfield and arraigned in Town of Lockport Court before being remanded to Niagara County Jail on $1,000 bail.

He was originally slated to appear in Town of Lockport Court on Oct. 20.

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Participants will learn to make this 
beaded Victorian pin cushion.
Openings are still available for a beadwork class offered at the Niagara History Center this spring.

The four-session class to craft a Six-Pointed Star Pin Cushion will be taught by award-winning beadwork and quilting instructor Stephanie Drehs from 4-6 p.m. on March 15, 22 and 29, and April 5 at the History Center’s 215 Niagara St. site.

The class fee is $50. Bead kits for the project work are available at the History Center for an additional $25, or participants can use their own size 11 beads.

Register in advance by calling 434-7433.

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LEWISBURG, Pa. -- Andrew Sellers of Newfane was named to the dean's list at Bucknell University during the fall semester of the 2015-16 academic year. A student must earn a grade point average of 3.5 or higher on a scale of 4.0 to receive dean's list recognition. Sellers is in the Class of 2016.

Located in Lewisburg, Pa., Bucknell University is a highly selective private liberal arts university that offers majors in the arts, engineering, humanities, management, and social and natural sciences, along with broad opportunities outside of class, to its 3,600 undergraduates. Graduate programs are available in select disciplines. Students benefit from a small student-faculty ratio of 9:1, personal attention from faculty, leadership opportunities, and excellent graduation rates and career outcomes.

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Defiant Monkey Improv will perform their live "Master of Improv Comedy Show"at 7 p.m. March 9 at the Kenan Center Taylor Theater. The 90-minute show is suitable for adults and families. Admission is $10.

Defiant Monkey Improv is a duo performing what they call “theatrical improv” and was founded by two local veterans of the improv world, Karen Eichler and Andrew Spragge. Using suggestions and volunteers from the audience, they create on-the-spot comedy you've never seen before, and will never see again. Each show is unique; live audience members are the only ones who will ever see this particular show.

For more information about Defiant Monkey Improv visit

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The National Weather Service calls for mostly sunny skies today with a high near 56 and an overnight low around 31.

Monday will be partly sunny with a high near 37 and a low around 22. Tuesday, snow is likely with a high near 32 and a low around 24. Wednesday: A chance of snow showers with a high near 30 and a low around 18.

Thursday calls for a chance of snow showers with a high near 29 and a low around 12. Friday: Mostly sunny with a high near 24 and a low around 14. Saturday: Mostly sunny with a high near 32.

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It used to be that people took my boys for twins all the time.

They do resemble each other a bit, I guess; they both have blue eyes and blondish hair. For a long time, they were even the same height, although I think one has finally passed the other for good.
Lately, though, people think Sam is the elder. They refer to Jim as “your little brother,” and it’s not difficult to understand why. It’s not their stature, or even their relative level of accomplishment. It’s the dynamic between them.

Sam takes care of Jim – not in the way of a parent or adult, but in the way older siblings have. He looks out for him. He encourages him. And Jim, in turn, looks up to him. (When he’s not trying to bait him or otherwise drive him nuts. They are siblings, after all.)

I started thinking about this a few days ago, when I was trying desperately to accomplish a certain task during the evening. Jim was getting frustrated about something; I could hear it in his voice, and I made a mental note to help out as soon as I had my hands free. Then that note of frustration ... vanished.

I glanced over and saw my boys, heads bent together as the younger showed the older how to figure out the problem he’d been having. He demonstrated, then had Jim do it for himself, correcting him when necessary. Then he went back to what he’d been doing before the whole thing started.
It was over in minutes. I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

It can’t be easy, being the sibling of a child with special needs.

It is easy, as a frazzled parent, to simply be grateful when you see scenes like the one I described, to realize that you now have a little bit of extra backup in the form of the sibling. And it’s all part of working together as a family, after all.

But there are times things are complicated by that difference in the family. Times plans are derailed because of issues with crowds and sensory issues and the fact that one child needs that constant supervision. Times when the more self-sufficient sibling doesn’t get quite as much attention because the other sibling simply needs it more. And, unfortunately, times when you just have to say, “I’m sorry. We can’t do that because your brother couldn’t handle it.”

And because they help out so often, it can be so easy to take them for granted, to forget that they’re only kids too. They’re held to a higher standard. As parents, you get so used to the younger child acting as the older that sometimes you forget he’s only in elementary school himself.

So, what’s a parent to do? All I can say is, we try really hard to make sure we don’t expect him to step up too much. We say “thank you” and “I appreciate it” when he does. We find ways to work around the things his brother can’t handle, even if it means Jim gets to hang out with his grandparents for a day while the rest of us do something else. If we can’t give full attention at one moment, we always try to do it as soon as we can.

Here’s to the siblings. They’re growing up with an extra dose of compassion and understanding and self-sufficiency. It’s not always easy, but they shoulder the task.

And they’re going to grow into better people because of it.

+Jill Keppeler thinks we could use more compassion in this day and age. Follow her on Twitter @JillKeppeler or email her at

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Saturday, February 27, 2016

BUFFALO -- The Buffalo Sabres today announced the team has acquired forwards Alex Guptill, Eric O’Dell and Cole Schneider, as well as defenseman Michael Sdao, from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for forwards Jason Akeson and Phil Varone and defenseman Jerome Leduc.

Schneider (6’1”, 199 lbs., 8/26/1990) is a native of Williamsville, New York and was leading the Binghamton Senators (AHL) with 42 points (17+25) in 54 games this season. The forward has 191 points (83+108) in 263 career games for Binghamton.

O’Dell (6’0”, 195 lbs., 6/21/1990) was leading Binghamton with 18 goals and ranked second with 37 points (18+19) in 50 games this season. Guptill (6’3”, 190 lbs., 3/5/1992) has spent time in both the AHL and ECHL this season, posting a combined 24 points (14+10) in 41 games played, including one assist in three AHL games for Binghamton.

Sdao (6’4”, 229 lbs., 7/3/1989) had two assists and a plus-4 rating in 17 games for Binghamton this season. In 123 career AHL games, the defenseman has 18 points (9+9) and a plus-19 rating.

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This week's episode of "Catching Up With the Lockport Express" finds ENP contributors Craig Bacon and George Root talking with coach Frank Vecchio about the push for the playoffs.

The boys also "interviewed" Express goaltender Sam Fitzpatrick, the Andriaccio twins and John Gannon.

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The National Weather Forecast calls for a chance of snow showers, possibly mixing with rain after noon -- with a high near 40. Tonight will be mostly cloudy with a low around 36.

Sunday: Partly sunny with a high near 52 and a low around 32. Monday will be partly sunny with a high near 38 and a low around 30. Tuesday, there's a chance of rain and snow showers with a high near 42 and a low around 28.

Wednesday: Snow is likely with a high near 34 and a low around 20. Thursday offers a chance of snow showers with a high near 28 and a low around 17. Friday: Partly sunny with a high near 30.

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Even as early as the 1850’s, word was spreading that Olcott was a great summer retreat, and by 1860, people were traveling from both Lockport and Buffalo to spend their leisure time on the shores of Lake Ontario.

By 1875, Olcott was seeing some growth and had three churches, a schoolhouse, a post office, three hotels with about 15 rooms each, two general stores, a meat market and a lumberyard, and only a total of 250 residents.

Olcott’s Eighteen Mile Creek harbor was already serving as the port for nearby inland cities, bringing much prosperity to the lakeside community.  With the help of Burt Van Horn, Sr., a US Representative for the State of New York, the harbor was quickly developed with two piers and a lighthouse. People and goods could be shipped to Olcott’s harbor from as far away as Canada, and then moved by wagon to Lockport where they could be distributed around the state on the canal system.

Early 1900s postcard of Olcott Beach. (CONTRIBUTED)

Then came the railroad, the Rochester, Watertown & Ogdensburg (RW&O) Railroad, picking up passengers from the Newfane Station (later to be renamed the Burt Station).  Getting from there to Olcott was either a couple mile walk, or a wait on the stagecoach that cost 10 cents per ride, and the inflow of passengers was steadily increasing.

Something would soon need to be done to improve traffic headed in the North/South direction, to and from Olcott, and connecting the growing city of Buffalo to Lake Ontario.

Olcott’s biggest promoters became the Niagara county Pioneer Association, which was organized, in 1877, by Andrew Tenbrook.  The Pioneer’s had an annual picnic at Olcott Beach Park with thousands of people attending.  Part of the attraction was the annual list of speakers that came to provide insight and entertainment for the crowds, including heroes from the Civil and Spanish American Wars. In 1899, Theodore Roosevelt, a “Rough Rider” himself, came and spoke to a crowd of 20,000 people at the Rustic Theater, creating even more of a draw than ever before.

On November 16, 1896, the first electricity was transmitted from Niagara Falls to Buffalo, at 12:01AM, with the vast majority of power being sent to the Buffalo Street Railway Company, becoming the first streetcar system in the World to be electrified.

As the 19th Century ended with the ever-widening use of electricity, WNY finally began to enjoy the fruits of their labors.  The vast orchards that grew in Niagara County became world renowned as the nation’s “Fruit Belt” and our local farmers became the center of attention.   Hard work had paid off, and now it was time to play a little.

The Van Horns had one of, if not the largest orchards in the area, and one of the most renowned in the entire United States. They had primarily made their wealth in peaches, and Burt Van Horn Jr. could see the need for transporting both his fruit and passengers between Buffalo and Olcott, and began developing his own railway system to make that connection.

Early 1900s postcard of the Lockport-Olcott Trolley. (CONTRIBUTED)

On August 29, 1900, Burt Van Horn Jr. created the first section of his electricity-run trolley system that became available for transport of passengers from Lockport to Olcott.  On just its first day of service, close to 12,000 eager travelers visited the beaches, boarding two and three car trains that left the Lockport Station every 30 minutes starting at 5 am.  It was easy to see that the interests were there, and it would not be long before the growing Buffalo population would want to jump on the same train, and the system was expanded through Pendleton and Tonawanda to the Buffalo Street Railway Company, and the International Railway Company (the IRC) was born.  The teeth jarring stagecoach service ended this year.

Everyone scrambled to beachside resorts and the wonderful amusement parks that were being run by this new thing called electricity, and Olcott became a favorite destination on Lake Ontario.

Crystal Beach, in Ontario Canada, had opened in 1888, and was a summer destination for almost every Western New York child of that time.  To stay stateside, and avoid the border crossing altogether, those same WNYers began flocking to the Ontario Shore resort of Olcott Beach, being patterned much like Crystal but just on a smaller scale.

By 1900, Buffalo had become the second largest railroad terminus in the United States, and only slightly smaller than Chicago. There were seven direct lines connecting Buffalo with six different East Coast cities, and the railroad companies were quickly putting a dent into Erie Canal commerce.  As a result of the railroads, the Erie Canal became a much less desirable way to ship freight, and at the turn of the century, almost every lake steamship company was bought out by the railroads. So by either managing the freight rates on their own railroads, or by controlling what remained of lake freight policy, the railroads could exert a major influence over any city's commercial economy.  The railroads ruled.

As the summer of 1901 arrived, a record 25,000 Pioneers arrived in Olcott by trolley to hear the speech given by Richmond Pearson, another Spanish-American War hero.  Just a couple months later, on September 14th, 1901, the world’s eyes were focused upon Buffalo when President William McKinley was shot during the Pan-American Exposition taking place in the now Delaware Park area.  Acting Vice President, Teddy Roosevelt, was called into service and immediately inaugurated as our 26th President at a residence on Delaware Avenue. One of my favorite quotes of the time, by President Theodore Roosevelt…“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”  All Americans were given a reality check, but it didn’t slow the need for quality family time on the shores of Lake Ontario.

To keep these travelers in Olcott for more than just a day, there became a visible need for hotels.  In 1902, Burt Van Horn Jr., and the International Railway Company (IRC), built the Olcott Beach Hotel that featured over 100 guest rooms, a 14,000 square foot ballroom, a beauty salon, a barbershop, game room, and a lake-view veranda.  The Olcott Beach Hotel became the premier lakeside resort with its own pier, sandy beach, and electrified amusement rides close by.


Within a couple of years, Olcott had become a resort hotspot.  At one time there were 8 hotels, the largest being the IRC’s Olcott Beach Hotel. Restaurants such as the Castle Inn, concert venues like the Rustic Theater, and amusement parks such as Dreamland and the Rialto, would all keep visitors busy for days on end. At the height of Olcott’s tourism boom, the IRC brought in over 100,000 tourists each year.

So what happened?

Like many lakeside resorts in New York, including Ontario Beach Park and Onondaga Lake Park, several factors contributed to their decline. For one, most people could no longer afford their former lifestyle due to the Great Depression.  In addition, the rapid adoption of the automobile by American families allowed people to skip the train and trolley and drive themselves to the beach. Once in Olcott, they would spend the day but could then easily drive back that night, negating the need for hotels.

By 1925, the Olcott Beach Hotel was struggling to remain open and was in need of crucial repairs.  The Rialto Park was feeling the same hardship, and by 1925, the wooden “Figure Eight” rollercoaster was shut down.

In 1927, a fire took out all the homes and buildings in and around Cooper Street, and the amusement draw was no longer there. The Olcott Beach Hotel caught fire in 1936, and due to both the crumbling foundation and tourism industry, it was then torn down completely the following year, leaving only the ruins that can be seen today.

Pioneer Days still continued within the park until 1941, but the onset of World War II essentially put an end to the glory years of Olcott Beach.  Our soldiers were finding themselves storming the beaches of Europe, and battling in the Pacific, and the change in World politics quickly took the wind out of many sails.

In 1941, Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto made a statement after his surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, saying, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant…” World War II, for most Americans, then became a test of national resolve.  Everyone went to work, in any fashion they could, to provide our servicemen and servicewomen with anything and everything they needed to win the War, and playtime everywhere was put on hold.

Many of us who have had a chance to witness some of Olcott’s former grandeur, either through childhood memories or by researching nostalgic photographs, can attest that this little lakeside gem, built up with the aid of the International Railway Company, is holding onto some very exciting history - a sleeping giant all of its own – and with some good old-fashioned hard work, will someday return.

On March 10th, 2016, the Newfane/Olcott Tourism Committee is putting on a program called Newfane 365, promoting the 4 seasons of beauty surrounding Newfane and Olcott Beach.  This FREE event will be held at the Miller Hose Fire Company from 6-9 pm.  Hope to see you there!

+Dr. Scott Geise, a local businessman, has an active interest in Erie Canal and Niagara County history. His column, "Historically Relevant," appears on the first and third Saturday of each month.  A heartfelt Thank You needs to be given to the Niagara County Historians Office for their continued support of these endeavors.

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Nicholas R. Prost
TOWN OF LOCKPORT -- A 29-year-old Lakeview man was charged Sunday with driving while impaired by drugs after a Lockport Bypass traffic stop.

According to New York State Police, Nicholas R. Prost failed to yield the right of way in front of the Trooper while he was patrolling the Lockport Bypass area. Prost showed signs of being under the influence of crack cocaine. Further investigation revealed a prescription bottle with 9 adderall pills and nunchucks.

Prost was transported to SP Lockport where he was given a Drug Recognition Evaluation by a Niagara County Deputy. Prost consented to have blood drawn from the local hospital.

Prost was charged with first-degree operating a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs, seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, and failure to yield right of way, He was issued appearance tickets and traffic tickets returnable to the Town of Lockport Court on March 10.

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SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The Buffalo Sabres fell behind early but scored three unanswered goals Friday night to beat the San Jose Sharks 3-1.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored 1:28 into the first for the Sharks, assisted by Matt Nieto.

Johan Larsson tied it for the Sabres at 13:38 of the second period, assisted by Brian Gionta.

In the third, Zach Bogosian put Buffalo in the lead at 12:36, assisted by Zemgus Girgensons and Sam Reinhart. Evander Kane added an empty-net goal at 18:43, assisted by Bogosian, to close out the scoring.

The Sabres have one more west-coast outing before returning to Buffalo. They play the L.A. Kings tonight.

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Lori Lynn Nemi entered into rest on February 18, 2016.

Born in Lockport on March 26, 1959, she was the daughter of Robert (Jessie) Tice and Barbara (David) Hoffman.

Predeceased by by husband, Joseph Nemi. Beloved mother of Justin (Jami) Tocco, Nicholas(Jennifer) Dowd, Stephanie (Jason) Barraclough and Jon Nemi; cherished grandmother of Taylor, Ryan, Jayden, Jordan, Haylie, Jaxson, Joseph, Kaylen, Cyerra, Delaney, Bailey, Jaylynn, and Owen; dear sister of James, Timothy and Robert Tice, Amy Bascom and the late Marc Tice. Also survived by several nieces and nephews.

Relatives and friends may call from 5-8 PM on Thursday at the TAYLOR & REYNOLDS FUNERAL HOME, 70 Niagara Street, where the Funeral Service will be held at 11 AM on Friday. Interment in Cold Springs Cemetery.

Please visit

Diana L. Harris passed away Wednesday February 24, 2016, after brief battle with Lung Cancer.  

Born in Lockport on August 9, 1961, she was the daughter of Carol (Gary) Werth and the late Victor Moore, Jr. Diana was a dearly beloved daughter, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, and niece. Diana’s favorite time of year was Christmas Time when her family would come together for the holidays.

Beside her mother, Diana is survived by her children Jill Laforme and Brian (Adele) Harris; her grandchildren, Tyler Laforme, Aden Harris and Emily Harris. Diana is also survived by her companion, Michael Reale, her brother Victor (Amanda) Moore, sister Terry (Richard) Wolfe, and her grandmother Stella Moore, as well as several nieces and nephews.

Friends may call Sunday Feb. 28th 1-5 PM in Prudden and Kandt Funeral Home, Inc., 242 Genesee Street, Lockport, where services will be held Monday Feb. 29th at 10 AM.  Interment will be in Cold Spring Cemetery.  In Lieu of flowers, memorials to the Diana Harris Cancer Benefit Party, payable to Brian Harris, 6843 Hatter Road, Newfane, NY 14108, would be appreciated by the family.

Online Condolences at


Andrew Cuomo
The New York State Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Incentive Program application is now available for high school students entering college in fall 2016. The program provides a full SUNY or CUNY tuition scholarship to students in the top ten percent of their high school graduating class if they major in a STEM field and work in a STEM job in New York State for five years after graduation.

"The STEM Incentive awards not only give this state's top high school students access to a first rate education, but it ensures that they and their talents remain in New York to help build our burgeoning high tech economy," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. "I encourage every eligible student from the class of 2016 to apply today and begin training for the jobs of tomorrow right here in New York."

The program is a key tool in encouraging the best and brightest high school students to pursue high-demand, high-tech careers and build their future in New York. Since the Program's inception, over 1,400 top scholars have received STEM awards totaling more than $7.5 million.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher said, "The STEM Incentive Program provides an opportunity for hundreds of high school graduates from throughout New York to attend our colleges and universities tuition-free while also addressing a critical workforce need for our state. SUNY campuses in every region look forward to enrolling the program’s next class of high-achieving students."

James B. Milliken, Chancellor of The City University of New York said, "There are few areas more important to the success of the knowledge economy and few fields that offer more promising careers than those involving the STEM subjects. We are grateful for Governor Cuomo's leadership in this area and the support for these ambitious students. This exciting program helps students and our state benefit far into the future, and I encourage all qualified students to seize this important opportunity."

Applications must be submitted by August 15, 2016 for June high school graduates planning to enroll in college in fall 2016. Details about the STEM Incentive Program, including eligibility and application requirements, are available at

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GROVE CITY, Pa. -- A pair of East Niagara students were named to the Dean's List for the Fall 2015 semester at Grove City College.

Ruth Gendrue, a junior PreK-4 Elementary Education major, was named to the Dean's List with High Distinction. Ruth is a 2013 graduate of Barker Central School and is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Gendrue (Michelle) from Gasport.

Renee Copperthite, a sophomore PreK-8 Special Education major, was named to the Dean's List with High Distinction. Renee is a 2014 graduate of Lockport High School and is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James Copperthite (Dawn) from Lockport.

Students eligible for the Dean's List have a GPA of 3.40 to 3.59; for the Dean's List with Distinction a GPA of 3.60 to 3.84 and for the Dean's List with High Distinction a GPA of 3.85 to 4.0.

Grove City College is a highly-ranked, private liberal arts school that offers a top-quality education in a thoroughly Christian environment for about half the cost of other schools. Founded in 1876, the College is committed to the principles of faith and freedom, a pioneer in independent private education and accepts no federal funds. It offers its 2,500 students degrees in more than 50 majors in the liberal arts, sciences, engineering and music on a picturesque 188-acre campus north of Pittsburgh. It is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and routinely ranked among the best colleges and universities by Princeton Review, U.S. News & World Report and others. Consumers Digest calls Grove City College a Top Value and Money magazine lists it among the Best Schools for Your Money. It is one of the Top Conservative Schools in the country, according to The Young America's Foundation and a Christian College of Distinction.

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Diana Kastenbaum
A Batavia businesswoman announced today her candidacy for the 27th Congressional District seat currently held by Republican Chris Collins.

Diana Kastenbaum, a Democrat, is the CEO of Pinnacle Manufacturing Company Inc. in Batavia.

“As a small business owner from Batavia, I am well aware of the realities that face middle class families, Kastenbaum said. "Using my years of experience as a businesswoman, I will bring new ideas and solutions to the problems we face in Western New York. We need a Member of Congress who will fight for Western New York on the issues that matter most; good paying jobs, ending income inequality, making college more affordable, and providing access to affordable healthcare. Where Congress has failed us, I will lead.”

Kastenbaum’s family has owned and operated Pinnacle, a zinc and aluminum dye casting manufacturing company, since 1972.  She is a graduate of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. She is married to actor and comedian Hiram Kasten. Their daughter, Millicent, is a senior government major at Cornell University.

New York’s 27th Congressional District includes all of Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming, and Livingston counties and parts of Erie, Monroe, Ontario, and Niagara counties, including all of East Niagara.

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William "Liam" D. Hossbach entered into rest on Sunday February 21, 2016 in Medina, NY.

Liam was born on August 22, 2015 in Batavia, NY, son of Grace McPartlin and Dillon Hossbach. Brother of Charlotte (Charlie) Hossbach. Grandchild of Dan and Jennifer Raduns of Barker, NY, Sean McPartlin of Ft. Myers, Fl, Dan and Deborah Hossbach of Kissimmee, Fl. Nephews of Jesse (Scott) Leising of Ft. Sill, OK, Anthony (Julie) Raduns of Barker, NY Daniel McPartlin of Lockport, NY and Derek Hossbach of Tinker, OK. Cousin of Addison, Riley, Kinslee Leising and Danni Raduns.

Family and friends may call at the RUTLAND-CORWIN FUNERAL HOME, INC. 1708 Pallister Ave. Barker, NY FRIDAY 2 - 4PM and 7 - 9PM. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on SATURDAY at 11AM in Our Lady of the Lake (St. Patrick's) 1726 Quaker Rd. Barker, NY 14012. In lieu of flowers donations to Lockport Care Net Pregnancy Center 229 East Ave. Lockport, NY 14094. A graveside service will be in Somerset Cemetery on MONDAY at 11AM.

Please visit to send the family a condolence.


Clinton Street between North Adam and Vine streets is closed until further notice so city crews can make repairs to a broken water main.

Only local traffic is being allowed to use the affected area. All others are asked to use an alternate route.

Water Distribution Supervisor Dale Lawson expects the street to be closed for about one week.

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The National Weather Service calls for rain and snow showers today with a high near 37 and a low around 17.

Friday, there's a chance of snow showers with a high near 26 and a low around 18. Saturday: A slight chance of snow showers with a high near 38 and a low around 32. Sunday will be partly sunny with a high near 44 and a low around 30.

Monday, snow showers are likely with a high near 37 and a low around 23. Tuesday, there's a chance of rain and snow showers with a high near 36 and a low around 24. Wednesday: A chance of rain and snow showers with a high near 38.

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Last year, an installment of this column looked at the awesome spectacle that is the ice volcano (link). Ice volcanoes are mountains of ice that can be found along the Lake Ontario shoreline and they get their name from the icy waters that are spewed from them due to wave action.

Last year’s frigid winter made for some good ice volcanoes. One would think that an unusual winter like this with little snow or recurring warm spells would keep them at a minimum this year. But, it hasn’t. I’d say that this winter’s volcanoes are much better than last winter’s – maybe because the ice sheet doesn’t extend as far into the lake and the near shore wave action is better.

Once again, if you want to see them, your best bet is to go to the boat launch area of Golden Hill State Park.

If you go, make sure you take your binoculars with you for some bird watching. The frigid waters of Lake Ontario are being enjoyed by oldsquaws which are incredibly beautiful ducks whose attractiveness is rivaled only by the gaudy wood ducks that frequent the Niagara summers.

The male oldsquaw is told by its striking black and white plumage, the contrast of which makes them easily identifiable from a distance. If you look at them through field glasses, you will notice a pink band around their beak. The photo above shows just how attractive they can be.

The females, on the other hand, are a little dreary-looking compared to their mates. The stark contrast is gone and their white cheeks, throats and undersides are complemented by brown/black tops.

Oldsquaws have rather unique call. It doesn’t sound anything like a quack. It’s a loud, nasal – even piercing -- call that some field guides describe as "ow-owooolee." Males will repeat this call incessantly, and that’s where the bird gets its rather politically incorrect name from – their talkative behavior reminded people of old women who just didn’t know when to be quiet. In only the past few years, that has led the birding community to change the bird’s name to long-tailed duck.

Oldsquaws spend their summers in the Far North, living in large lakes of the tundra and along the shore of the Arctic Ocean. They are incredibly abundant there, with populations numbering in the millions. As the north freezes over, they head south (just not as far south as most birds) and spend their winters in Hudson Bay, the northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and here in the Great Lakes.

These seas ducks are some of the most accomplished divers of the bird world. Although most of their feeding takes place at depths under 25 feet, they have been known to dive down to 200 feet for food.

When they are in a foraging mood, they can spend four times as much time underwater as they do on top of it. That can make watching them an interesting experience – just when you’ve found one with your binoculars he will disappear for a long time, long enough that you’ll find yourself asking, “Where did he go? Did he drown?”

While down there, the ducks feed mostly on mollusks and crustaceans. That makes them a beneficial snowbird as they eat the zebra mussels that have plagued Lake Ontario for far too long. This weekend, while the winter beauty of ice volcanoes and oldsquaws are still here, make it a point to go out to the lake. You want a crummier, windier day so the waves can do their thing to the volcanoes, so dress warmly…and take a camera and binoculars.

+Bob Confer lives in rural Gasport where potholes are the closest thing his town has to ice volcanoes. Follow him on Twitter @bobconfer or email him at

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