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Sunday, December 31, 2006

100 Years Ago

The Big News Of 100 Years Ago
12/31/2006 - As easy as it is to recount the top news events of the past year, we cannot measure their historical significance. We are too close to the mirror to have any perspective.

What we believe to be of great significance to us today — the Democrats’ ascendancy in Washington and Albany, for example — may not even be noticed by historians a century hence. And, undoubtedly, events that went unnoticed and unremarked this year will be highlighted in future years as having great historic importance.

Still, on this last day of 2006 we perhaps can understand a bit of how historical perspective will affect the way the big news of this year will be viewed by looking back to the year that was closing exactly 100 years ago today.

And so, consider that in 1906:

¯ Finland became the first country in Europe to give its women the right to vote. Within a year, women would be elected to the Finnish Parliament.

¯ American suffragist Susan B. Anthony died. In America at the time of her death, four states — Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, and Utah — had granted women the right to vote.

¯ SOS was adopted as a universally recognized warning signal by the first conference ever to be held on wireless telegraphy.

¯ Reginald A. Fessenden became first to broadcast music — he played a violin — over radio.

¯ Theodore Roosevelt was president.

¯ Czar Nicholas was in the midst of a ruthless, brutal campaign to suppress dissent across Russia.

¯ Leonid Brezhnev was born. He would take over the top leadership of the Soviet Union in the mid-1960s and, as such, would be a central figure of the Cold War for the next 18 years.

¯ Esther Damon, the last widow pensioner of the War of the Revolution, died in Vermont at age 92.

¯ The British launched the battleship Dreadnought. It was the first of an entirely new class of warships equipped with all-turbine engines.

¯ Earthquakes occurred in California, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Arizona and New Mexico in the United States and in Nicaragua, Colombia, Formosa, Chile and Puerto Rico. The devastation included San Francisco, where a thousand people were killed and half a million left homeless.

Here at home, the largest mortgage ever recorded in Mayville was received at $12 million for the Buffalo and Lake Erie Traction Co. to acquire the line between Buffalo and Erie from New York Trust Co. as trustee.

An editorial writer at the time was prompted to comment that in Chautauqua County, ‘‘The past year was eventful in many respects and will furnish much material for the historian. It was a year of high prosperity... and the crops were bountiful ...’’

This same writer had commented at the beginning of the year that 1906 might be the year the North Pole would, at last, be reached.

‘‘Undismayed by the fate of S. Andree, who sought the north pole in a balloon and was never heard of afterward, Walter Wellman, the well-known newspaper correspondent, and Santos Dupont, the aeronaut, propose to reach it in an airship,’’ local news accounts reported at the beginning of 1906. ‘‘If their calculations are realized, they will get there long ahead of Peary and other explorers who are painfully crawling northward over the ice. The fact that an airship can be guided to some extent gives it an immense advantage over a balloon, which is at the mercy of every wind.’’

Neither Wellman’s party nor, for that matter, Peary’s made it that year, but the attempt sparked imaginations and prompted the judgment from the editorial writer that ‘‘We appear to be on the eve of aerial navigation.’’

Whatever difference a century of progress and historical perspective make in judging the significance of events, the year’s concluding thoughts of that long-ago editor sum up ours as well:

‘‘Mankind,’’ he wrote, ‘‘is struggling upward and each year records fresh steps.’’
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Friday, December 29, 2006

�Godfather Of Soul�

Former Falconer Resident Recalls Recording With ‘Godfather Of Soul’

Brown’s Jazz Man

James Brown performing with the the Dee Felice trio and others in the early 70s. Frank Vincent, pianist and member of the Dee Felice Trio, was a Falconer native.
12/29/2006 - Nearly four decades after recording with the ‘‘Godfather of Soul,’’ Frank Vincent recalls being James Brown’s jazz man with much pride and appreciation.

In addition to playing piano on two studio albums in the late 60s, the Falconer native toured as part of Brown’s backing band and has nothing but positive memories of working with the late entertainer.

‘‘He was a great gentleman,’’ Vincent said Thursday from his home in Cincinnati. ‘‘He was a lot of fun to be around and he took good care of us.’’

Introduced to jazz music in Jamestown, Vincent took up playing the accordion in high school and moved to Cincinnati with his band shortly after graduating in 1955.

‘‘I was interested in the music and always hung around the Fairmount Grill to listen to the local jazz guys play. I was always fascinated with it,’’ Vincent said. ’’One of those guys was a drummer and he got a little group together and was going out on the road, so I went with him. We played around New York state and I never really did come back after that. One thing led to another and I ended up in Cincinnati.’’

Upon arriving in Ohio’s ‘‘Queen City,’’ the band broke up and Vincent found himself in the company of Dee Felice — a drummer with whom Vincent spent much of his career.

Without a place to live at first, Vincent stayed with Felice and was encouraged to pursue piano as an instrument by Felice’s mother.

After four years studying at the city’s Conservatory of Music and several additional years of practice, Vincent’s dues were paid. By 1970 the pianist was accompanying singers such as Mark Murphy and Mel Torme, touring widely as part of Dee Felice’s Mixed Feelings and appearing on television with James Brown.

Assessing Vincent’s career in a 1982 article, Cliff Radel, a music critic for The Cincinnati Enquirer, wrote that Vincent had become ‘‘the creme de la creme of the city’s jazz piano players’’ and argued that he was better than a lot of the top players in both New York City and Los Angeles.

In the end, Radel wrote, all roads for Frank Vincent led back to Cincinnati.

‘‘Our trio was playing at a restaurant in Cincinnati when we met James Brown for the first time,’’ Vincent said. ‘‘Of course, it made sense. King Records was based here and this is where he did all his recording.’’

Releasing multiple albums each year throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Brown became known as the ‘‘Hardest Working Man In Show Business.’’ Moving from fairly straightforward gospel-inspired R&B compositions to the innovative funk he is best known for, Brown became a massive success in 1965 with hits like ‘‘Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag’’ and ‘‘I Got You (I Feel Good.’’

By the late 60s, Brown began to show an interest in pursuing different sounds. With Frank Vincent and the Dee Felice Trio, Brown recorded ‘‘Gettin’ Down To It’’ in 1969 for Polydor and ‘‘Soul On Top’’ in 1970 for Verve. Noted as a deviation in many accounts of Brown’s recorded history, ‘‘Gettin Down To It’’ featured standards such as ‘‘Strangers in the Night,’’ ‘‘It Had To Be You’’ and ‘‘That’s Life.’’ compares Brown’s style at this time to Frank Sinatra and stresses that the album is not strictly mellow.

‘‘The only thing I can surmise is that he wanted to branch out and do some other types of music,’’ Vincent said of Brown’s foray into jazz and classic standards. ‘‘A lot of rock stars have tried it, tried going into the standard repertoire. Neil Diamond just recently did it. Rod Stewart did it. Linda Ronstadt did it. So, that’s what his thinking was. He wanted to record some of the standards.’’

While ‘‘Gettin’ Down To It’’ was recorded at King Studios in Cincinnati between December 1968 and March 1969, Brown and the band went to California to record the follow-up, ‘‘Soul On Top,’’ in late 1969. Though closer to his familiar funk sound, ‘‘Soul On Top’’ is an ‘‘intriguing detour into jazz-minded big-band territory’’ according to

‘‘We did some traveling with him after that and appeared on the Mike Douglas Show, the Steve Allen Show, The Merv Griffin Show and a number of those talk shows which were on during that period,’’ Vincent said. ‘‘We traveled with him to do just those shows and we didn’t do too many, but it was fun and he was a wonderful gentleman. He was very much a gentleman with us . Over the period of a year or two we played those shows and in between we would go back to Cincinnati to work. Then his agency would call and tell us to meet him in whatever town the show was going to be in. He still his rock band at that time and they were out touring all the time.’’

Mentioning many names, cities and venues, Vincent reflected on a career which includes many stars in addition to James Brown — who died Monday at the age of 73.

‘‘We were lucky and we played with some nice people,’’ Vincent said. ‘‘A lot of years have gone by and I’ve remained friends with local musicians from Jamestown like Stu Sneider. I used to watch his quintet at the Fairmount Grill and the Max Davis Trio at the Hotel Jamestown. Stu is still living and he was probably one of the first bands that I went to hear at the Fairmount Grill. A lot of years have gone by since then and I’ve been very fortunate as far as the people I’ve met and the places that music has taken me. I really do consider myself very fortunate in that respect.

Self-described as semi-retired, Vincent still performs two nights each week at The Celestial in Cincinnati. Providing pictures for this story, Vincent’s sister Sylvia, who lives in Bemus Point with her husband Craig Fuller, said one of her favorite artifacts from the period is an autographed inscribed by Brown with the words — ‘‘Sylvia, your bro is too much.’’
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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Chautauqua Lake Management Commission

CLMC To Hire Lake Manager

12/24/2006 - After securing $567,000 in county funding for next year and an additional $200,000 in state grants, the Chautauqua Lake Management Commission is on the lookout for someone to manage it all.

By March, CLMC members are hoping to have a full-time lake manager not only to implement the organization’s 2007 Action Plan to improve Chautauqua Lake and the watershed, but also set the stage for the future.

‘‘We’re looking for somebody with an academic background in a field related to the management of a fresh water lake, and also have appropriate experience in doing this,’’ said Bill Evans, CLMC chairman. ‘‘We approved a job description and preferred qualifications, and are in the process right now of placing ads in various newspapers and different institutes of higher learning.’’

The $567,000 the CLMC requested from the county was strictly for individual projects in the lake and the watershed, such as increased weed removal operations and environmental studies. CLMC members previously indicated they knew the county would not approve a new staff position, so they left the lake manager out of the request. Instead, a $149,000 state grant enabled CLMC members to pay for the position.

‘‘We also spelled out a lot of specific goals we would like to accomplish with this person, including the implementation of the 2007 Action Plan both in the watershed and the lake, and also taking on the task of preparing us for 2008 and beyond,’’ Evans said.

That includes identifying revenue sources that would help the commission function well into the future, he added.

To develop the idea of a single person charged with managing Chautauqua Lake, as well as how the CLMC will operate after the position is filled, members have been looking at other lakes in the state, many of which have a governing entity charged with managing them.

‘‘Some do, some don’t,’’ Evans said. ‘‘It depends on the level of interest and the types of problems they’re facing. The Finger Lakes has an institute that pretty much attends to a lot of the issues, and Lake George has a rather sophisticated organization. So we’re trying to learn from them.’’

Chautauqua Lake does have its own unique challenges, he said. For instance, Chautauqua Lake is much shallower than many of the Finger Lakes — but the lake’s underlying importance to the community is the same.

Evans doesn’t expect to find a lake manager until as late as February or March. Until then, CLMC members are likely to continue debating how the organization will function in the future and how to implement the 2007 Action Plan.

‘‘We’ve got a good financial foothold for 2007,’’ Evans said. ‘‘Now, it’s up to us to get the job done.’’
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Friday, December 22, 2006


Skiing goes downhill due to lack of snow
News Sports Reporter
Click to view larger picture
Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News
The grass may be green, but Holiday Valley in Ellicottville has four slopes open for skiers. More photos on the Picture Page, C10.

Click to view larger picture
Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News
Catherine Wadih, 6, of Cincinnati, negotiates the beginners slope Wednesday at Holiday Valley, where only a few of 53 slopes were open, thanks to unseasonably warm weather.

Temperatures were in the 40s Wednesday, with blue skies and bright sunshine - just the kind of weather guaranteed to cast a pall over Ellicottville. Area ski resorts depend on the 12 weeks of skiing and snowboarding that start Christmas weekend, so resort owners and their customers weren't singing the praises of unseasonably warm weather.
"I'm sitting here five days before Christmas and I'm a little nervous," Kissing Bridge President Mark Halter said by phone Wednesday. "The extended forecast is not encouraging.
"I keep checking to see if we're going to get some of that Canadian air, but it doesn't look like it's going to happen soon. That air must be having passport issues."
Kissing Bridge was open for three days in early December but has been closed since. All that's left of that snowfall and cold temperatures are two slopes with spotty coverage and some large piles of snow waiting to be spread when temperatures fall.
The Christmas week is crucial to snow resorts because it's one of the busiest of the year, generating as much as 25 percent of an area's revenues.
"If you lose Christmas week, you can't have a great winter," said Halter, who added that he would be a lot more worried if he hadn't spent so conservatively on facility upgrades during the off-season.
"If I had taken on a $1 million debt, I'd be a lot grayer than I am now," he said.
Cockaigne also opened for three days before shutting down. The warm weather "ground us to a halt," said spokeswoman Linda Johnson.
"There's still snow [on the hill] but we're waiting to see what happens. Grass is growing on people's lawns; it's really disgusting," she said.
Holiday Valley and Peek 'n Peak have stayed open since early December, but with reduced terrain. In fact, Holiday Valley held a snowboarding event last weekend and drew about 100 riders.
Both areas are benefiting from extensive investments in snowmaking, which is needed because they have hotels and condos rented and they have to offer their customers something.
Peek 'n Peak has seven slopes open and Holiday Valley has four. Both are looking at several windows of predicted cold when they can make snow and open trails. Holiday Valley hopes to have as many as 10 trails and five lifts open by the weekend.
Making snow in the recent warm weather is expensive, but according to Peek 'n Peak's Chip Day, pounding out snow is well worth it because the cost is minuscule compared with the money that would be lost if people canceled their room reservations.
"We're converting an indoor tennis court into a play area for kids. We're trying to help ease the pain if we don't get all 27 slopes open," Day said. "We're making the best of it. We haven't had to cancel a thing."
The biggest losers are the employees and businesses that make their money off the ski business.
"My face is cringing, it's been bad," said Victoria Brown, owner of the Ellicottville Depot, which depends upon Holiday Valley. "You ask people, "How are you doing?' and everyone's as depressed as the next person."
Slow business has Brown calling in fewer cooks and waitresses. The ski areas are not calling in part-time staff members who were trained months ago for the Christmas rush. People who use these jobs to generate extra spending money for the holidays are having to do without.
"It's a tough one," Brown said. "I was looking to have a little more money for Christmas shopping. I'll have to rob Peter to pay Paul."
No snow means almost no business at Byrncliff Resort, the cross-country and golf area in Varysburg.
"It does hurt us if we don't have snow," said manager Scotty Meidenbauer of Byrncliff. "We are on one of the main snowmobile trails in Wyoming County. With no snow, snowmobilers can't take advantage of our food and beverage [service]."
Restaurants and gas stations around Byrncliff are similarly affected. Snow generates money in Western New York. Meidenbauer said the presence of 20 golfers on his course Wednesday couldn't make up for the non-existent skiing business.
Sales were also down at the Ski Market in Williamsville, according to assistant manager Paul Dzierba.
"We're feeling the effects for sure," Dzierba said Tuesday. "When there's no snow here, fewer people come. We're doing well because it's the week before Christmas, but if it was snowing we'd be doing substantially better."
Regardless of the current conditions and a 10-day forecast that looks good for holiday travelers, the resorts aren't panicking. They've been through this before. No lesson or racing programs have been canceled; all are still on schedule to begin Jan. 3, after Christmas week, as expected.
What the resorts are selling now is hope, one of the messages of the season. The warm temperatures mean that Lake Erie is relatively warm, increasing the odds for a major weather event.
A few lake-effect snows would allow the areas to play catch-up, to make up in January and February the business they lost in late December.
The situation is similar to that of the Buffalo Bills: "You can still have a good season," KB's Halter said. "You just can't make the playoffs."
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Brown Christmas?

Official Start Of Winter Doesn’t Look Like Winter

A Brown Christmas?

Ducks swim on the unseasonably warm waters of Chautauqua Lake on Wednesday.

Photo by Ingvar Carlsson
12/21/2006 - Today may be the official start of winter, but it sure doesn’t look like it as all of Western New York braces for a brown Christmas.

Nowhere is the brown more evident than area ski slopes, where warm temperatures are making it difficult to even manufacture snow.

All slopes at Cockaigne Ski Center in Cherry Creek have been closed since Dec. 10 — only three days after the slopes opened for the season — when temperatures suddenly shot up, according to Linda Johnson, Cockaigne spokeswoman.

Peek’n Peak has eight slopes open, according to the resort’s Web site, though snowmaking weather is expected to return tonight.

Jane Eshbaugh, Holiday Valley Resort and Conference Center marketing director, said three lifts and four slopes were open as of Wednesday and 10 slopes should be open by the weekend, since nighttime temperatures have cooled enough in recent days to make snow. But the lack of snow everywhere else has had at least some impact on business.

‘‘Our customers are a combination of people who drive down for a day and people who come from a little farther away (and stay overnight),’’ Ms. Eshbaugh said. ‘‘When there’s no snow in their backyard, drive-downs tend to drop.’’

According to Ms. Johnson, the busiest time of year for ski resorts is the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, and forecasts do have temperatures decreasing after Christmas Day.

‘‘It doesn’t take long to gear up and get right back into it,’’ she said. ‘‘We can sometimes do it in a day and a half. Skiers are resilient. The minute it’s all right, they will be right back out again.’’

Snow enthusiasts can blame the warm weather on strong winds in the jet stream that are keeping cold air from drifting south, says Bill Hibbert, a Buffalo meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

‘‘Normally, this time of year we would expect the jet stream dipping south from Canada, but this year instead it’s coming up from the southwest, putting us right at the boundary of milder air and colder air,’’ Hibbert said. ‘‘It’s very mild for us.’’

The month began with moderate snowfall and temperatures below normal for Western New York, but that changed Dec. 10. Since then, daily temperatures have averaged anywhere between 8 and 20 degrees warmer than normal, according to NOAA data.

But it’s not just the jet stream, Hibbert said — temperatures in the northeast are warmer than general because of El Nino, a periodical weather phenomenon that results from water fluctuations in the Pacific Ocean.

‘‘In a moderate to strong El Nino pattern — and we’re right on the edge of a moderate to strong El Nino pattern — it puts us in a fairly snow-free environment,’’ Hibbert said. ‘‘Snow that falls doesn’t stay.’’

El Nino’s impact varies, according to meteorologists. In Western New York, a weak El Nino pattern only results in warmer temperatures in November and December, while temperatures in January, February and March are typically colder than normal. But a moderate El Nino pattern results in colder temperatures just in February, and a strong El Nino pattern results in warmer temperatures for the entire winter.

According to Hibbert, there is a chance of precipitation Christmas night, and nighttime temperatures are dropping enough that it might snow then — but it won’t come in time for a white Christmas.

The odds are usually against a brown Christmas in Western New York. Buffalo residents are facing their first Christmas without even a trace of snow on the ground in nine years, and only their ninth brown Christmas in half a century, according to NOAA data.

Most snowmobile trails were scheduled to open Dec. 15, but temperatures in the 40s and lower 50s that day — a full 17 degrees above normal — left snowmobilers out of luck. The same went for cross country skiers, but Hibbert said there is at least a little good news for them since unseasonably warm temperatures have stopped Lake Erie from freezing over, which could mean more snow in the long run.

‘‘We still have an opportunity. The flip side is, because it is milder, there is no ice on Lake Erie. So any incursions of cold air across the lake give us the potential for lake effect snow late in the winter,’’ Hibbert said.
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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas vespers set in Jamestown

12/21/2006 - JAMESTOWN — The eighth annual Christmas All-Star Jazz Vespers will take place Saturday at Christ First United Methodist Church. The music service has long been host to some of the finest local and national performers. Noted acts such as Ernie Hawkins, Will McFarlane, The Babalu Swingtime Band, Jodi Vitarelli, Mighty Sam McClain, The West Virginia Wesleyan Jazz Ensemble, Kokomo Time and 10,000 Maniacs members Steve Gustafson and Dennis Drew have graced the Jazz Vespers stage. It has become a tradition for some of the area’s most popular Vespers performers to participate in this yearly event. Founder of the Christ First Jazz Vespers, singer/songwriter Bill Ward regularly performs throughout the country at concerts, youth gatherings and other special events. He also founded the Mayville Bluegrass Festival and serves as the program director for that event. After forming a band in the 1980s, Ward’s varied musical influences were given a format for growth, and the group blended the “every performance is a concert” attitude with blues, folk, country, gospel and swing dance music. While undergoing several incarnations, the Bill Ward Band has performed and continues to perform at numerous concerts and gatherings, including the Jazz Vespers at Christ First United Methodist Church, the Great Blue Heron Fest and the Chautauqua Institution Amphitheater. The band released its first CD, “Highway in the Desert,” in 2003, and it has been featured on numerous radio programs, including the Saturday Blues Show on NPR. The album has also enjoyed success overseas, having been featured on radio shows in Belgium, Austria and the United Kingdom. They are currently preparing a recording project for release later in the year. Besides Ward, the band members include drummer Jim Foti, bassist Brent Gallupo, horn specialist John Cross, keyboardist Mark Alpaugh and guitarist Tom Swanson. Among the band’s special guests on Saturday will be violinist Stan Barton, vocalist Sue Waite and gospel/jazz artist Steve Davis. Also scheduled are husband-wife music duo Josie and Tony Flaminio. The Jazz Vespers is a music and arts-based worship service with a minimum of spoken word. It is presented every Saturday at 5 p.m. in Darrah Hall at Christ First United Methodist Church, 663 Lakeview Ave. The community is welcome, free of charge, to every Vespers service. Anyone interested in performing or who is seeking more information about the service should call the church at 664-5803 or Ward at 753-7464.

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Grape Belt Newest Heritage Area

By The Post-Journal Staff
12/16/2006 - ALBANY — The Lake Erie Concord Grape Belt, a 50-mile area along the eastern shore of Lake Erie in Chautauqua County, is the newest heritage area in New York state. The region is one of the largest concord grape growing and juice processing areas in the nation. Heritage areas are special locations across the state where geography, history and culture express the distinctive identity of New York communities. ‘‘Creation of the Lake Erie Concord Grape Belt further demonstrates Gov. Pataki’s visionary leadership in recognizing New York’s historic and cultural resources,’’ said Bernadette Castro, state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation commissioner. ‘‘The Grape Belt has been a vital part of the local economy in Western New York and the agricultural history of the state. By promoting our thriving Heritage Areas program that extends across the state, we are providing heritage tourism opportunities so that future generations may appreciate the importance of protecting and preserving our natural treasures.’’The Heritage Areas Program develops, preserves and promotes the cultural and natural resources located within the state. The Lake Erie Concord Grape Belt includes 30,000 vineyard acres. It is the 19th heritage area in the state and the first agricultural region to receive the designation. Agriculture is the leading industry in upstate New York.‘‘This designation recognizes the long heritage of grape agriculture in New York state and its continued importance to our communities. We are excited about the opportunities to increase heritage tourism and markets for our agricultural produce’’ said Andrew Dufresne, Concord Grape Belt Heritage Association Inc. spokesman. ‘‘This area is a perfect match for the objectives of the New York state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Heritage Program.’’The Heritage Area System is a state-local partnership established to preserve and develop areas that have special significance to New York state. Heritage areas encompass some of the state’s most significant natural, historic and cultural resources, as well as the people and programs essential to their development.‘‘We have a proud history of growing concord grapes in Chautauqua County that has been vital to our economy and our quality of life,’’ said state Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean. ‘‘It has been part of what makes our region so special. I was thrilled to pass this legislation in the Senate because it will preserve our heritage and offer new opportunities for economic growth, especially in tourism.’’ ‘‘I am pleased that the governor has signed this legislation into law, and would like to commend the many people, organizations and municipalities who worked tirelessly to see this designated enacted,’’ said state Assemblyman William Parment, D-North Harmony.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Ready About Sailing

Out For A Winter Stroll

Jim Holler of Ellicott and Greg Swan of Lakewood, co-owners of Ready About Sailing in Celoron, along with Swan’s brother, Denny, sail on Chautauqua Lake on Wednesday, completing their promise to customers to sail once a month each month this year.

P-J photo by Patrick L. Fanelli
12/14/2006 - CELORON — Greg Swan and Jim Holler, co-owners of Ready About Sailing in Celoron, have kept their promise to their customers by sailing on Chautauqua Lake every month this year, no matter what mother nature threw at them.

January and February were a challenge, and they almost didn’t make it in March — but then it was smooth sailing for the rest of the year, especially with the warm spell that followed last week’s lake effect snowstorm.

‘‘It’s absolutely gorgeous sailing today,’’ Swan said aboard Holler’s 1970 Catalina 22 sailing cruiser as the three-man crew passed the Chautauqua Lake Yacht Club on their way back.

The third crewman was Swan’s brother, Denny, a resident of Lakewood.

‘‘We’ve been waiting for the ice to clear, and today it cleared,’’ Swan added.

It was a promise Swan and Holler made to their customers.

They would sail at least once each month for the entire year, which is easy enough in the spring and summer but quite a different story during the colder months, when even a thin ice cover would ruin their prospects.

‘‘So we’ve had a sail in every month. There’s always a January thaw, and in February we only sailed out to the light house,’’ Swan said, referring to the one just down the shoreline from Ready About Sailing. ‘‘In March, we thought we were going to be defeated, but in the very last days of March there was an opening.’’

They were sailing aboard Holler’s boat, which he christened Knot Done. It’s an antique at 36 years of age, and it has a noteworthy history.

‘‘The boat actually came out of Hurricane Hugo,’’ Holler said, adding that, after the devastating storm struck North and South Carolina in 1990, the Catalina 22 was one of two boats out of hundreds still floating in a Charlston harbor.

Ready About Sailing — which is located at 32 Venice Ave. off Boulevard Avenue in Celoron — is a sailboat dealership and repair shop owned and operated by Swan and Holler, residents of Lakewood and Ellicott, respectively.

‘‘The store has been around for five years,’’ Holler said. ‘‘It was specifically opened to service sailors in Chautauqua County.’’

Swan said it was a good sailing season altogether — and, with temperatures in the 40s and a bit of sunshine, Wednesday was the ideal day to end it.

‘‘It was a great sailing day on Lake Chautauqua,’’ Swan said. ‘‘I wish we saw more sailors out here with us.’’
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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Ski Season

Area Ski Season Gets Under Way

A Winter Wonderland

Cars make their way down Third Street at about 6 p.m. Thursday.

P-J photo by Patrick L. Fanelli
12/8/2006 - Not everyone was unhappy with Thursday’s lake effect snow storm.

Larry Doyon of Mt. Jewett, Pa., became the first skier of the new season at Holiday Valley Resort in Ellicottville when the slopes opened Thursday with a good turnout of locals attending, said Jane Eshbaugh, marketing director.

She said three lifts and four slopes were open during the day, with at least two more lifts and several more slopes expected to open by the weekend.

Ms. Eshbaugh said the ski area will be open every day and night from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Saturday and 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.

She said snow making began Dec. 2 with temperatures mostly very good for the procedure and with water available from the 62 million gallon Spruce Lake, built at the top of the hill at the resort.

The marketing director said HolidayValley has a capacity for making twice a much snow as previously and can produce the equivalent of a foot of snow an hour on 21/2 acres.

Linda Johnson, public relations director at Cockaigne Ski Center on Thornton Road, Cherry Creek, said its formal opening is today.

‘‘We’re getting an awful lot of snow right now,’’ she said at noon Thursday.

She said the area received between 10 and 11 inches of fluffy snow Wednesday, and since then has received wetter base-forming snow.

Ms. Johnson said the snow was packed one time by noon Thursday and was expected to be packed twice more before opening for the season, which is from 1 to 5 p.m. today and continuing from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

She said Cockaigne then will begin regular hours of 4 to 10 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 1 to 10 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays , 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays, and 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays. The resort is closed Mondays.

Wednesday nights are for adults, with 10 trails and one lift expected to be in use this weekend and then all available slopes and lifts to be in use.

Peek’n Peak Resort at Findley Lake opened its season at 9:30 a.m. Thursday with four trails and two lifts in use, with natural and made snow combining for an 18-inch base, said Chip Day, vice president of brand management.

He said five more trails and two more lifts are expected to be in use by Saturday, with construction of 14 more trails and three more lifts planned.
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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

1891 Opera House

Local Crooner To Perform Christmas Show Friday

michael civisca
12/6/2006 - FREDONIA — For those who love soft jazz, the music of the big bands and the crooning of singers such as Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald, there will be excellent news this coming Friday.

The 1891 Opera House, in the Village Hall of Fredonia, will play host to an 8 p.m. concert by Michael Civisca. The concert’s title is ‘‘Christmas Is ... A Michael Civisca Holiday Concert.’’

Civisca was born in Niagara Falls and although he headlines theaters and night clubs all over the world, his permanent home is in Buffalo. We talked by telephone with the singer, as he prepared for his next Chautauqua County performance.

‘‘I’ve enjoyed all kinds of music, all my life, but the rich harmonies and poetic quality of the American song book have always been very special to me,’’ he said. ‘‘By the time I was 15, I knew the words and melodies to hundreds of songs.’’

Despite this interest, he continued to study in many areas. Civisca began college majoring in graphic arts, then later switched to finance. He continued to love to sing and often belted out a song or two at parties, but he never considered making a living at it, for more than a decade after graduation.

‘‘I started a couple of businesses of my own,’’ he said. ‘‘I taught myself how to design computer software and worked at that for a while.’’

Meanwhile, his interest in the music of Cole Porter, George Gershwin and others remained a hobby.

Then in 1995, when he was 31 years old, a friend from college was visiting. She enjoyed singing and playing guitar and they were singing together in his back yard. ‘

‘‘She said she thought I had the talent to make a career of singing and she gave me the name and phone number of her vocal coach,’’ he said.

He decided he would sing for the coach and if he agreed with the friend, Civisca would make some audition tapes and start trying to get singing jobs.

Since then, he has made a number of recordings. He travels extensively and recently finished an appearance at the Club Iridium in New York City. His fame has spread abroad, where he reports that during a recent concert in Japan, he met a number of people who spoke no English at all, but who had memorized the words to his songs phonetically.

‘‘I always think of my songs in terms of the words, but even people who don’t understand the words love this music,’’ he said.

The singer regretted that a number of the jazz clubs where he used to perform in the Buffalo area have closed within the past five years and admits his future plans include the possibility of opening a club of his own where he and singers in the same style can perform in Western New York.

He has recently appeared in a Broadway show for producer David Cassiday and is in discussion with various writers and producers to write more shows which involve music in the style he loves to sing.

If you yearn for the sound of songs such as ‘‘White Christmas,’’ ‘‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas,’’ ‘‘Winter Wonderland’’ and ‘‘The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire),’’ Civisca will be blending a generous selection of them with new songs he will be introducing into his act plus the classics for which he has become famous in his Fredonia show on Friday.

Tickets are $20 for reserved seats, with a $2 discount for members of the 1891 Opera House. Purchase them in person at the Opera House, or by phone, calling 679-1891. Purchase them by computer at:

Civisca’s rich baritone, warm banter and lively energy could easily make Friday one of the happiest days of your holiday season.
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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Peek'n Peak

December 5th, 2006

Peek’n Peak Ski Season Starts Thursday

Findley Lake, NY - Western New York ski and snowboard resort Peek’n Peak has found sufficient snowmaking weather to turn on two of its lifts for the winter season this Thursday to access two lifts and four trails with a 12- to 18-inch base. Staffers anticipate opening an additional seven trails and one lift by this weekend.

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Bemus Point-Stow Ferry

County discusses grant for Bemus Point-Stow Ferry

12/5/2006 - MAYVILLE — With financial assistance from the county and Sea Lion Ltd., the Bemus Point-Stow Ferry cable was insured and up and running again toward the end of last summer.

Now, thanks to a $15,000 initiative grant from state Sen. Cathy Young, R-Olean, the two groups will be reimbursed and there will be money to help with future ferry expenses.

On Monday, the county’s Public Facilities Committee discussed the grant and the repairs to the ferry.

Darin Schulz, county finance director and Bemus Point resident, said the Chautauqua Lake Historic Vessels Company didn’t want the ferry to go another season without running, so the county fronted the money to do the repairs — which cost about $8,000 — with Sen. Young’s office promising a future grant for reimbursement.

Legislator Joseph Trusso, D-Jamestown, asked Schulz why the legislature didn’t approve this resolution prior to the ferry’s cable being fixed. Schulz said approval wasn’t needed at that time because the money was allocated from the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau.

However, he said approval is needed now to secure the loan for the reimbursement. Robert Anderson, D-Frewsburg, said he agreed with Trusso that the legislature should have approved the action of loaning the money to fix the cable first, even with the promise from Young’s office for financial reimbursement.

Richard Babbage, R-Bemus Point, said the group’s primary goal was to get the ferry running and its next goal will be to get the Chautauqua Bell running.

The Chautauqua Belle — the steamship drydocked at Mayville Lakeside Park — has not operated since the 2003 summer season.

The Bemus Point-Stow ferry finally resumed regular operations in late August after repairs and upgrades had been made, largely thanks to Ellery resident John Cheney, a longtime advocate for the attraction. Eager to see the ferry running again, Cheney had the paddle covers replaced, the deck refurbished, the ramps fixed and the tank chambers cleaned out, as well as other labor-intensive upgrades.
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Saturday, December 02, 2006

Auction to enhance concerts

Benefit dinner, auction to enhance concerts
12/2/2006 - MAYVILLE — Student musicians will soon perform in three winter concerts at Chautauqua Lake Central School, with a pre-concert dinner and the annual Christmas auction adding to the festivities of the season.

The High School Band and Choral Concert will be held Wednesday, Dec. 6, with the annual auction following.

At about 8 p.m. following the concert, gifts, decorations and specialty foods for the holiday season will be featured at the annual auction. This event offers hundreds of gift ideas in unusual packages. Gifts, goods and services offered in past years have ranged from resort lodging to auto service to furniture, as well as a wide variety of holiday food choices. The auction is sponsored by the CLCS Music Boosters to help offset the cost of the music department’s spring competition trip.

Student musicians in grades 6 through 8 will perform in the Middle Grades Concert on Thursday, Dec. 7. The event will include both choral and instrumental selections.

A benefit Soup du Jour dinner will be served by the French Club before the concert, beginning at 4 p.m. and continuing until 8 p.m. Dinner tickets are available from members of the French Club or through the high school office, 753-5881. They will also be available at the door. In addition to a variety of soups, the menu offers salad, baguettes, beverage and dessert. Concert-goers are invited to dine in the cafeteria before the concert; take-out orders are also available.

Students in kindergarten through grade 5 will perform in the Elementary Concert on Tuesday, Dec. 12.

All three concerts start at 7 p.m. in the district auditorium. Admission is free, and the programs are open to the entire community. Chautauqua Lake Central School is located at 100 N. Erie St. (Route 394), one half mile north of the junction with Route 430.
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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Children Cinema Series

Children Cinema Series presents free films at Fredonia Opera House
Submitted photo

Looking over the Harry Potter books to be given away are, from left, Dan Allen, Opera House technical director and Children’s Cinema Series coordinator; Kathy Petersen, DR Barker Library Children’s Program coordinator; and Patty Donovan, owner of The Book Nook.
11/30/2006 - The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

So says Dr. Seuss in his book “Oh the Places You’ll Go.” The philosophy espoused in that quote is the notion behind the Children’s Cinema Series at the 1891 Fredonia Opera House — that reading will take you far in life.

Sponsored by the DR Barker Library, the Children Cinema Series features films based on or that inspire books for children; and admission to the films is free. The series was developed as a way for adults to encourage the children in their life to read by seeing the entertainment that can come from books. To further support that concept, The Book Nook donates several copies of the books on which the films are based to be given away in a random drawing before each movie.

“More than 2,000 individuals have attended the films since the series was introduced in 2003,” says Executive Director Rick Davis. “And the feedback we receive from parents, especially, is very positive.

“This past year, when we screened ‘The Secret of NIMH‚’ one young father told me of having seen the film with his father when it was first released. Now he was bringing his own son to see the film and said it felt as though he was carrying on a family tradition.”

The series will continue in December and January with all four of the Harry Potter films to be screened in order of their release. The films are based on J.K. Rowling’s fantasy books of the same name, which many parents contend have spurred their youngsters’ interest in reading. The first, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” will be shown Saturday, Dec. 2.

The film introduces 11-year-old Harry Potter to the life he never knew he had, the life of a wizard. In his first year at Hogwarts School of Wizardry, he meets his two best friends, Ron Weasley, an expert at Wizard Chess, and Hermione Granger, a girl with non-magic parents. But as Harry begins to learn all about life as a wizard, someone is up to something bad in the Dark forest outside the school. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” is rated PG for some scary moments and mild language and runs 152 minutes.

The second film in the series, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” will be shown on Saturday, Dec. 16. In this sequel, Harry Potter’s adventures continue. He begins his second year at Hogwarts School, but is warned by a mysterious creature that danger awaits him at the school. Malevolent voices whisper from the walls. Soon it’s not just Harry who is worried, as dreadful things begin to happen at Hogwarts. “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” is rated PG for some scary moments and runs 161 minutes.

“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” is the third film in the series. It will be screened Saturday, Jan. 6. In this installment, it’s Harry’s third year at Hogwart’s, but a shadow hangs over the school. A dangerous mass murderer, Sirius Black, has escaped Azkaban Fortress — the Wizards’ Prison. While learning to cope with the Dementors sent to protect Hogwart’s, Harry learns the disturbing story of Sirius Black and Black’s connection to Harry’s own past. “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” is rated PG for frightening moments, creature violence and mild language and runs 141 minutes.

The final film in the series is “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.” It will be shown on Saturday, Jan. 20. In this, the latest in the Potter series of films, Harry finds himself selected as an underage competitor in a dangerous multi-wizardry school competition. Harry soon begins a brutal test of strength and mind only to ultimately face his greatest challenge yet. “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” is rated PG-13 for sequences of fantasy violence and runs 157 minutes.

All four films in the series will be shown at 10 a.m. For information, contact the Opera House at 679-1891 or visit The 1891 Fredonia Opera House is a member-supported not-for-profit organization located in the Village Hall in downtown Fredonia.
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Look for major changes in terrain parks

Look for major changes in terrain parks
News Sports Reporter
Click to view larger picture
Special to the News
Freestylers can enjoy the new terrain park at Peek'n Peak, which features progressive levels of difficulty.

Eric Langman has worked at Vail in Colorado and at Mount Hood in Oregon. Now he's using what he's learned to make the first big changes in years to the terrain park at Kissing Bridge. The word these days is progressive. It has two meanings, and both apply at Kissing Bridge.
The first is that there is a progression of skill levels, a concept that is embraced by resorts throughout the region. At Kissing Bridge, that means starting with a new mini park that will be well maintained and well stocked with rails and boxes. It will be adjacent to the Coal Chute Chair.
"There will be so much to do in the mini park [beginners] won't have to go in the big park," said Rachel Fanelli of the marketing department.
It also includes intermediate areas and then advanced areas with bigger jumps.
"Our mission with the terrain parks is to provide the customer with features that cater to all levels of freestyle riding in order to help the transition from beginner to intermediate to the expert ability while also making the experience fun, safe, creative and progressive," Langman said in a written statement. "We want our parks to flow from one feature to the next so the rider is able to maximize time on hill per run."
Parks that flow is the second meaning of progressive. One of the trends in the business is to lay out progressively harder hits and jumps so that a rider can go from one to the next, hitting four or five in each run.
To do this, Langman planted 25 rail features at the top of the park, an increase of five from last year, and moved tons of dirt, some of which he fashioned into jumps.
Kissing Bridge also bought six new tower guns to assist with its plan to open more terrain on opening day. Langman said the new dirt piles and the snowguns will allow the terrain park to open with less snow, within three to five days of the rest of the area.
Parks with progressive levels of difficulty were added at Bristol Mountain and at Peek'n Peak.
"We are finally making the right steps to make sure freestylers have a good time," said Billy Bacon, multi-media manager at Peek'n Peak. "We're going to be as progressive as we can."
Holiday Valley is even putting entry level features in a designated "rail garden" in the area serviced by the ski school tow.
Terrain park manager Chris Perks and Jimmy Curtis, who will drive Holiday Valley's new halfpipe groomer, attended the Cutter's Camp at Mount Hood (Ore.) last summer. There they learned the latest in safety design as well as tips in how to lay out a progressive park.
Perks calls boarding into the increasingly harder features "hitting the rhythm section."
Holiday Valley did make two terrain park changes. The Slope Style course has been moved to Moon Shadow, and the entrance to the halfpipe is now at the top of Cindy's. This means boarders will no longer cut through the NASTAR course to get to the pipe.
Kissing Bridge added a WiFi zone at Central and at Willie's Smokehouse, and bought kid-sized boards for its rental fleet.
It has also added two events. The Smith Limo Rail Jam is Dec. 26. The limo has a rail on the top, and it will be put in the snow so people can ride it. There will also be a banked turn race against the clock on Crazy Eights.
Peek'n Peak has cut 11 to 14 new trails and is putting in three fixed-grip quads that will be ready next year. This will increase terrain by 40 percent. It bought a Zaugg halfpipe groomer and spent $2 million to expand snowmaking. It has spent $8 million to upgrade facilities this year.
Bristol added a trail, Lower Galaxy, and bought 13 tower mounted guns, which will bring its snowmaking capacity to 97 percent of the area. It also bought all new Elan rental equipment, paved the parking lot and added the outdoor Summit Grill next to the Summit Demo Center at the top of the hill. The grill will be equipped with heaters.
Holiday Valley spent $4.3 million on improvements, finishing its 62 million gallon lake for snowmaking, expanding its Junior Team Training Center, roughing in a few slopes in the area near the lake (it will eventually be served by a lift that will originate near the bottom of Tannenbaum), and making renovations to the golf course and the Inn guest rooms.

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Women now prime target for snowboarding growth


Women now prime target for snowboarding growth

News Sports Reporter
Sarah Showalter, modeling Smith goggels and a jacket and hat by Burton, holds a Burton Troop board with Burton Escapade bindings.
Eight years ago, Mark Sperling tried to teach his girlfriend how to snowboard and surf, and it didn't go well. Other guys told the marketing director for Transworld Snowboarding Magazine they had the same experience and asked him to organize a clinic for women, who show a preference for group learning experiences. He expected five or 10 participants, but 150 showed up. So he started Girls Learn to Ride which this year will put on 800 female-only, action-sports clinics nationwide. A total of 75 snowsports resorts will host clinics run by his organization as the industry tries to reach its most underserved market, the woman snowboarder.
Two of those clinics will be held at Holiday Valley - Feb. 3 and March 3.
"Resorts were seeing they hadn't addressed the female market," said Sperling, whose group provides everything women need to learn and even throws in gift bags.
Sperling said that at first he was trying to give opportunities to girls ages 12-18, but half of the participants at his clinics were over 21. These were women who didn't want to drop off their kids at the terrain park and ski away.
"A lot of women now have the time to learn and want to reconnect with their kids," said Sperling, who is creating a Women Learn to Ride program to meet demand.
Women make up 50 percent of all first-time snowboarders but comprise only 33 percent of all riders. That figure is up from 29 percent five years ago, according to the National Ski Areas Association.
Industry insiders see that percentage rising because resorts are addressing concerns specific to women."Learning styles are different between men and women," said Sean Cattenaugh of Burton's Learn to Ride program, which has increased its presence in Western New York this year. "The other side is the learning environment. Men have something called ego. They will learn one success and they want to go on.
"Women want to dial it in before advancing. They can be intimidated by moving up too fast. Women seem to be more comfortable with other women. The gender of the teacher is not important unless a male teacher doesn't understand women want to go more slowly."
Women also aren't as likely to want to jump right in to doing tricks and aren't as accepting of scrapes and bruises. Every resort in the area has responded by creating terrain park features tailored to the inexperienced rider.
"Large terrain parks draw the attention - but resorts with smaller parks get more traffic because the intimidation factor and the punishment factor go down," Cattenaugh said. "You have to have an environment to make learning easier so they will come back."
Women, despite being in the minority among both skiers and riders, make up half of all lesson takers and 49 percent of all participants who have dropped out of either discipline for at least one year in the past five years. Also, only 15 percent stick with snowboarding.
"The lack of proper equipment is the biggest reason they don't come back," Cattenaugh said. "Burton has women-specific products for rental to make the experience easier."
Holiday Valley, which has had gender- and age-specific lessons at its Adult Learning Center for several years, spent $100,000 this year on Burton Learn to Ride products for its rental fleet. Bristol has brought in the Learn to Ride program and is cooperating with Burton in setting up a Freestyle Demo Center.
Women not only want equipment that fits, they want apparel that looks good, and they are willing to pay for it. According the Colorado-based Leisure Trends Group, women spent $240 million in the last year on equipment and apparel, an increase of 64 percent from five years ago. During the same period, men's spending dropped by 3.4 percent.
"I've seen immense growth in the women's market," said Two Four Five Snowboard Co. and Snowflake Ski Shop manager Tim Keller. "The industry in general has switched gears.
"In years past, companies would put women's graphics on men's boards. Now the equipment is women's specific."
That means boards for women are lightweight with a smaller flex, which makes them easier to manipulate. And they are narrower than men's boards to accommodate women's smaller feet. The boots are also women specific, accounting for differences in the shapes of ankles and calves.
"Putting a different color on something doesn't make it a women's boot," Cattenaugh added. "Boots are the most important equipment."
Keller said women are more fashion conscious than men, who are more concerned with function. However, he said women's taste has influence the look of all snowboard equipment.
"If you're not on top of the women's market, you are going to be hurt," he said. "It's not just for snowboards, it's for the ski industry as well.
"Women's sales have increased dramatically the last three years. You have to cater to that market. We feel the mothers are behind the skiing and snowboarding families. They are the ones that drive the kids [to the resorts] and get the equipment."
Equipment purchases aren't the only way women are exercising their financial clout. The New York Times recently quoted Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants officer Nike Leondakis as saying women "are making 70 percent of travel decisions."
That is one of the reasons Peek'n Peak is adding a Women's Learn to Ride center as part of its $8 million expansion. The resort bought Burton's Learn to Ride equipment and is sending staff to learn how to match beginners with the right equipment and how to teach them. Classes are restricted to females.
"Women are making the decisions, we have to let women know you care about them," Chip Day, head of brand management at Peek'n Peak, said of the reasoning behind adding the women's center. "Mom will determine where the family is going to go."

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Mistletoe Mart

Third Annual Mistletoe Mart Begins Friday

Something Old, Something New

Pictured from last year’s Mistletoe Mart. To continue the tradition, there will be holiday items a plenty this year.
11/29/2006 - Bringing a mixture of the past and present, the third annual Mistletoe Mart returns.

‘‘The event is reminiscent of the way things were in the past,’’ said YWCA executive director, Beth Oakes. ‘‘This is something traditional, it was expected. It’s a way to connect the past to the future.’’

At 10 a.m. Friday morning, the third annual Mistletoe Mart will bring past traditions and future hope together, marrying them together to make their own holiday celebrations.

The Mistletoe Mart, made possible by the Young Women’s Christian Association, is a fund-raiser for the organization. All money raised during the event goes to the YWCA and benefit many programs for women and children.

‘‘This is one of our better fund-raisers,’’ said chairwoman, Cindy Young. ‘‘This helps bring in money to help programs and we are glad to see that it has returned.’’

Though the YWCA board tries to keep most things traditional about the Mistletoe Mart, many new things were added this year to bring in some new faces. This year, there will be more than 30 crafters and product vendors for people that wish for a different atmosphere for holiday shopping.

‘‘It’s a mixture of homemade and packaged items,’’ Mrs. Oakes said. ‘‘We invite the public to stop by, shop and have some holiday fun.’’

While shopping, there will be live holiday music, performed by local musicians. Sterling Pollaro will be on stage Saturday, singing Christmas songs in the style of Elvis. Steve Swanson will keep things more traditional by playing classic holiday songs on the piano.

The two-day event will also see an auction with prizes donated by many local businesses and individuals. Some of the prizes include day and evening passes to Chautauqua Institution, a floral arrangement from Garden of Eden, gift baskets from The Basket Company, gift certificates from Lucy-Desi Museum, Curves, Bob Evans and Farm Fresh Foods.

Another addition this year is the International Food Court, hosted by St. James Roman Catholic Church. Ethnic Italian, Polish and Spanish dishes will be offered. There will also be a cookie sale donated by YWCA board members and staff.

‘‘We’re here, we’re back and we’re bigger and better,’’ Mrs. Young said.

The Mistletoe Mart will be held 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday at the YWCA Building on the corner of Fourth Street and Main Street. Admission is $1 per adult and children under 12 are free. Tickets for the auction can be purchased at the mart for $1 each, $2 for three or $5 for ten. Winners do not need to be present for the drawing.
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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

It�s a Wonderful Life

Holiday classic to be shown at Opera HouseThe holiday film classic
11/28/2006 - It’s a Wonderful Life” will be shown at the 1891 Fredonia Opera House as part of the village of Fredonia’s Miracle on Main Street celebration on Saturday at 8 p.m. As a special holiday gift to the community from the Opera House and DR Barker Library, admission is free.

“It’s a Wonderful Life” stars Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed in the Christmas Eve tale of how one man’s life made a difference in the lives of many. Named “one of the best films ever made” by the American Film Institute and ranked No. 1 on the organization’s list of the most inspirational American movies of all time, the 1946 Frank Capra film also has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

“There’s nothing like seeing this wonderful film on the big screen, though,” notes Opera House Executive Director Rick Davis. “So we hope folks will take a break from their busy schedules to come enjoy this heartwarming story in an Opera House beautifully decorated for the holidays.”
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A Dickens of a Holiday

A ‘Dickens’ Of A Musical
Top, Kalen Hall and the Tradition Dancers pose while rehearsing for the upcoming ‘‘A Dickens of a Holiday.’’
11/27/2006 - The Reg Lenna Civic Center will present ‘‘A Dickens of a Holiday’’ at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Saturday.

One of the first holiday offerings of the season, ‘‘A Dickens of a Holiday’’ will usher in the Christmas season with all of the grandeur and drama of the Victorian era.

It is a musical adventure encompassing all of the trademark elements of a Dickens tale from wealthy opulence to destitute poverty and the overwhelming power of the human heart.

The large cast consists of actors from the ages of 4 to 21 who have been trained by the Drama Enrichment Program.

Kalen J. Hall, a Jamestown native who has just played the male lead in the Victorian musical ‘‘Jane Eyre’’ in Pittsburgh, will be a featured performer. Dancers from the Chautauqua Regional Youth Ballet’s ‘‘Nutcracker’’ will also be featured.

Gift baskets will be auctioned in the lobby during intermission.

Act II opens with ‘‘Riverdance,’’ ‘‘A Polar Express’’ and a bevy of showgirls in a Radio City Music style performance of dancing soldiers and Santa babies.

A bag of treats and coupons from McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s will be given to children coming to the shows. Dennis Webster is a special guest and the ‘‘Jolly Old Elf’’ himself will make an appearance.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $5 for children under the age of 12, and $30 for a family (family constitutes parents and children living in the same house.) Reserved seating in the loge and prime orchestra seats are available for $20.

Those wishing to be patrons of the show will be treated to a holiday reception waited on by a staff of Victorian maids on the mezzanine of the theater at 6 p.m. For information on the show, to purchase regular tickets or patron tickets, the box office can be reached at 484-7070. The box office is located on the second floor of the Arts Council building, 116 East Third St., while the outer lobby of the theater is under renovation.

Cast members of ‘‘A Dickens of a Holiday’’ will also be on a float in the Holiday Parade on Friday Dec. 1. Victorian maids will serve holiday treats at the Reg Lenna Studio Theater on the afternoon and evening of the parade.

Serving hot chocolate, coffee and desserts, the Studio Theater opens its doors to sit and watch the parade through the large bank of windows facing Third Street. The Reg Lenna Studio Theater is at 108 E. Third St.

‘‘A Dickens of a Holiday’’ is a presentation of The Drama Enrichment Program which is funded in part by grants from the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation and the Karl Peterson Foundation.
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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Renaissance Christmas Farm

Kennedy Couple Has Reason To Be Thankful

Beating The Odds

John Merkle, right, and his wife, Carol Donegan, display some of the merchandise sold at the Renaissance Christmas Store and Farm. Merkle is recovering from bone cancer he was diagnosed with a year ago. P-J photo by Patrick L. Fanelli
11/23/2006 - KENNEDY — As friends and families around the country celebrate the holiday, one Kennedy couple might be at the top of the list of those who have reasons to give thanks.

John Merkle beat the odds. He defied his diagnosis.

He lived to see another holiday season — and for that, he’s grateful.

‘‘The drugs worked,’’ said Merkle, who owns and operates the Renaissance Christmas Farm on Route 62 in Kennedy with his wife, Carol Donegan. ‘‘As long as I stick to the medicine, stick to the regime, there’s no telling how long I can go on.’’

It’s been a year since he and his wife, both of whom share a profound love for the holiday season, first opened the Christmas store in the farmhouse behind their home.

Two weeks later, Merkle was diagnosed with bone cancer and kidney failure, and was told he had anywhere from six to 12 months left to live.

For Merkle, the prospect of never seeing another Christmas was a difficult one to bare.

‘‘I love what I do,’’ Merkle said in February as the cancer ravaged his body, literally dissolving his bones. ‘‘I just don’t want to give it up.’’


Thanks to a cancer specialist at WCA Hospital and a medical drug with a notorious reputation, Merkle will almost certainly see another Christmas — and maybe many more to come.

‘‘We ran across an oncologist who didn’t believe the odds,’’ Merkle said. ‘‘He started me on non-traditional medicine that got control of the bone cancer.’’

‘‘Jamestown has a very good medical system,’’ Ms. Donegan added.

Dr. Jarius Ibabao of WCA Hospital’s Jones Hill campus put Merkle on Thalidomide — the infamous drug that caused thousands of children to be born with serious deformities when it was sold as a sleep aid and a drug to treat morning sickness during the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Though Thalidomide proved terrifying and tragic early in its history, it has since been used to treat a number of illnesses and ailments, including cancer and leprosy. For Merkle, the same drug that caused widespread panic, fear and suffering four decades ago stabilized his condition.

The cancer certainly took its toll. Merkle lost six inches in height and more than 60 pounds since he was diagnosed, and he was clear — he can’t win this battle and will eventually die from it.

But the transformation is noticeable upon first glance. He has more energy, he no longer requires a cane to get around and he has even started to gain weight, according to Ms. Donegan.

‘‘Considering how far I’ve gotten since last year, I’m not complaining,’’ Merkle said. ‘‘If I could get another one year or five years, I’m a happy camper.’’


Things have started to get a little easier around the store. After Merkle was diagnosed, he underwent radiation treatments and chemotherapy five times a week, forcing he and his wife to dramatically cut back hours. They would often return home from the hospital and find fresh tire tracks in the snow — the dreaded mark of a lost customer.

Merkle still must undergo dialysis treatments three times a week, and is too weakened from that to drive to the hospital himself, but it’s much easier than it was before the medicine got control of the cancer.

‘‘This past year — it’s been a little bit, let’s say, in left field,’’ Ms. Donegan said.

Their plans haven’t changed. Though progress has been slow since Merkle was diagnosed, they still intend to expand the store to the other structures adjacent to the farmhouse and have 70,000 Christmas trees in the ground within 10 years.

‘‘The store and the trees will come to maturity at the same time,’’ Ms. Donegan said. ‘‘We’re a little behind on planting. We got 300 trees in instead of the 3,000 that we planned because we were never here.’’

They have nearly 7,500 saplings growing on the 93 acres they bought in 2003 when they first moved to Kennedy and left their native Florida and former occupations in the sound and lighting industry at Walt Disney World behind.

‘‘They’ll go south. In Florida, one of the big things for high school (fund-raisers) is selling Christmas trees,’’ Ms. Donegan said, joking of swapping the trees for cartons of oranges and grapefruit — which themselves are hot fund-raising items among schools in Western New York.


According to Ms. Donegan, store hours have been much more constant since Merkle began to recover. She said they are opening their doors for Black Friday — the ‘‘biggest decorating day’’ of the year. Beyond that, hours of operation will be Tuesdays, Thursdays and weekends from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The store features both Christmas decorations and gifts — everything from hand-knit stockings, ornaments, lights and Department 54 items to stuffed animals and snowmen ordained with Bills and Sabres logos.

Merkle and Ms. Donegan do their best to stand out among a dizzying flurry of holiday enticement in November and December, but the store is an all-year operation — and the Christmas atmosphere they have created in Kennedy lives on long after the holiday season is only a distant memory.

That was their dream when they moved to Western New York a few short years ago — as Merkle said, a scenario where Christmas could happen ‘‘365 days a year.’’ Though they are thankful they are making that dream a reality, there is something much simpler they have for which to give thanks.

‘‘I’m just thankful I have a husband that’s still walking around,’’ Ms. Donegan said.

‘‘Yeah, she has a husband that’s glad he’s walking around, too,’’ Merkle added.

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(As a side note Rick & Julia McMahon were the acting brokers in helping Carol & John aquire the farm)

Living Christmas Tree

Voices of Christmas
Living Christmas Tree
11/25/2006 - The Living Christmas Tree stays strong in its 22nd season


First Covenant Church senior pastor David Trosper and his wife, Beth, had only been in Jamestown less than two months late last year when they received an early lesson about the impact that the Living Christmas Tree can have on the area.

It was the third week in November, a Saturday morning, when church and community members were busy assembling the structure in the church’s sanctuary, which is located at 520 Spring St. in Jamestown.

But while plenty of work was going on there, the tree’s figurative branches were already providing a warm embrace on the other side of town.

It seems that a woman had been involved in an automobile accident on Fairmount Avenue near Brigiotta’s Farmland Produce & Garden Center and was understandably distressed. Fortunately, Mrs. Trosper reported, the woman’s concerns were quickly put to rest.

All she needed for comfort was the sight of David Cohen’s NACO Express Truck — the vehicle in which “the tree’’ is stored for 50 weeks out of the year —which just happened to be nearby.

“In her moment of need,’’ Mrs. Trosper said, “she looked up and saw the trailer, inscribed ‘God’s Trailer: The Living Christmas Tree Inside,’ pass by. She was reminded that all would be well.’’

All is well, indeed, as the Living Christmas Tree, now assembled and decorated, awaits a 65-voice choir, a 25-piece professional orchestra, a narrator and pageantry to help tie in the whole message of Christmas.

Conducted by Norm Lydell, ‘‘The Voices of Christmas,’’ by Joseph and Pamela Martin, provides a message in the forward to the piece that explains what the production is all about: ‘‘Christ was born to everyone: past, present and future,’’ it reads. ‘‘We are all, in some sense, connected to the manger. We are all witnesses to and voices of the good news of His birth.’’

The Living Christmas Tree provides an opportunity for First Covenant to get that message across.

See LIVING on Page C-3

From Page C-1

“There is a presence of excitement coming together to build the Tree that creates the anticipation of Christmas,’’ the Rev. Trosper said. “It is centered in telling the story of Christmas, a story that can get lost in the secular, commercial aspect of Christmas. There is something about music that is incarnate within us.

“The Living Christmas Tree is the story of hope that is so important to the church and the community. It is the telling of God’s story in music and in drama that’s inviting. It is a living manger being acted out in the present as if you are a witness to the Christ-event. It is this living manger that touches the emotions within.’’

Children are also impacted by seeing the tree for the first time.

Mrs. Trosper recalled how her grandchildren stood in awe of the structure when they entered the sanctuary and were equally impressed when they noticed that their violin teacher from Persell Middle School — Katie Cierlicki, who is also the orchestra director at Jamestown High School — was a member of the orchestra.

The Rev. Trosper also feels that it is a wonderful family tradition. That tradition can take the form of families who attend the performances together; families who begin Christmas by working in various ways for the Living Christmas Tree; and the group of people from more than 20 churches who have become family after 22 years of performances.

The traditions that the Living Christmas Tree have fostered for more than two decades would not have been possible without the efforts of two church members — Gunnard ‘‘Kinky’’ Kindberg and Henry Norman — who both passed away this year.

The Living Christmas Tree participants remember Kinky as a man of many talents. His excellent tenor voice contributed to the choir for 21 years. His stewardship in taking care of the church will be missed. Kinky quietly and faithfully helped his wife, Carol, in her duties as chairman. His good spirit, jokes and love of people and the church are qualities everyone will remember.

“Kinky had a global view of all aspects of the Living Christmas Tree,’’ Lydell said, “dealing equally with small or big details in quiet ways. He knew what needed to be done to make things flow and nothing slipped through the cracks. His good spirit lightened the load. The way he worked quietly as a behind-the-scenes man made a significant contribution to the Living Christmas Tree.’’

Those involved in the planning of the Living Christmas Tree realize more than ever the significant contribution Kinky made every year and honor his memory.

Henry Norman is remembered at First Covenant for his strong faith, which he shared gladly with others and also as the tree’s original architect.

He was also remembered in 2004 by Russell Johnson, the Living Christmas Tree’s founding conductor, as ‘‘the real genius of the Living Christmas Tree.’’

Because of the unique architecture of the sanctuary at First Covenant Church, Henry had to design a tree that spanned over the altar railing and incorporated the tiers in the front of the sanctuary. This required frequent trips to the church to verify measurements as sketches were made and the Living Christmas Tree was created. It was first assembled at Mission Meadows camp on Chautauqua Lake, then erected at the church where the fit was perfect.

Amazingly, after 22 years of being assembled and disassembled, the integrity of the Living Christmas Tree remains intact. It has been examined and strengthened over the years to assure that it remains strong.

Henry was more than an architect, though. He was a teacher of the Bible, a prayer partner and friend.
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Peek'n Peak's

Peek'n Peak's new owner got start at 16

Thursday, November 23, 2006
Henry J. Gomez
Plain Dealer Reporter
Paul Kiebler was 16 when he bought his first house: a $17,100 steal from a sher iff's sale. He only had $100 in his pocket.
"I ran and told my dad I needed to borrow 17 grand. He thought I was crazy."
So did Kiebler's girlfriend. She ended things that summer, when Kiebler spent more time fixing up the home than he did patching up his high school romance.
But Kiebler's time - and money - were well-spent. He sold the house for $43,200. Factoring in what he spent on improvements, Kiebler turned more than a $15,000 profit.
He rewarded himself with a Trans Am. From that summer on, "every summer I'd buy a house and fix it up. And that's how I paid my way through college."
Now 36, Kiebler is establishing himself further as a real estate developer.
Most of his deals since his teenage, house-flipping days have hinged on Pittsburgh-area apartment complexes. Kiebler's latest project is more of a risk. In January, his Chardon-based firm bought Peek'n Peak Resort and Conference Center in Findley Lake, N.Y.
According to Chautauqua County records, Kiebler Recreation LLC paid about $10.7 million for the property. Kiebler said that does not include equipment and other assets acquired from previous owner Norbert Cross.
The popular ski and golf getaway, which draws 65 percent of its business from Northeast Ohio, had lost money in each of the five years before Kiebler came along.
Much like that first home Kiebler bought 20 years ago, Peek'n Peak is a fixer-upper.
Rather than trim costs, Kiebler already has spent $8 million toward the $280 million he has budgeted for improvements over the next 10 years. He also is beefing up Peek'n Peak's marketing budget, from an annual average of about $230,000 to more than $1 million projected for this year.
Kiebler, to recoup his investment, must establish the resort as a year-round destination.
One of the two golf courses is in line for a major overhaul. In addition, a huge indoor water park, more hotel rooms, condos and conference facilities are planned.
It's an effort to break free of what Gard Skinner, publisher of the North Carolina-based Mountain Resort Magazine, calls typecasting as a ski resort.
"The joke was that when ski resorts started building golf courses, they weren't trying to boost profits - they were trying to lose less money," Skinner said. "But the summer months can become a very solid performer on your bottom line, on your revenue."
In a recent interview, Kiebler shared his expansion plans and his upbringing in real estate.
Q: Did you grow up in the Cleveland area?
A: Actually my family moved to Chardon three generations ago.
I grew up in Chardon. Went to Chardon High School, Chardon public schools. Went to The Ohio State University.
Q: How did you get involved in real estate?
A: My grandmother was a real estate broker. Grandpa left the family when my father was 3. Grandma decided she had to go to work, when women weren't supposed to work. And the only field that really would accept her was real estate, so she became a real estate broker . . . and she dragged my father around doing all the deals. He decided that maybe the brokerage business wasn't the way to support a family, so he became a real estate appraiser. He dragged me around, and I watched all these deals Dad was appraising and said, 'Hey, I can do that.'
Q: So, you followed in your father's footsteps, into appraisals?
A: I actually was a real estate appraiser for about 10 years. My father started Kiebler, Smith & Co. in April 1972. I bought it in 1996. It took me about three years before deciding [to leave the appraisals business]. In 2001, I started Kiebler Properties [which focuses on development].
Q: What interested you about Peek'n Peak?
A: I had a business associate who was trying to put a deal together. The Peak has three main business ventures. One is ski, one is golf and the other is the development of condominiums.
They came to me and said, 'All right, Paul, this guy here is an expert in ski: He's going to buy the ski slopes. The guy over here is an expert in golf: He's going to buy the golf. And we'll sell you all the condos.' I spent probably three, four days with them and just realized very quickly they never were going to get their deal done, so I cut bait and went on.
But while I was up there, I just fell in love with the place. I stayed in touch with the general manager. Their deal blew up, and I asked, 'Is it still for sale?'
Q: Where are you so far in the expansion? What changes might guests notice this winter?
A: We've almost doubled our ski-able acreage. The first thing they're going to notice when they pull up is an additional 14 ski slopes cut into the resort. The other thing they're going to notice is that we just spent $2 million to buy a new snow-making system.
Q: Are you a ski bum yourself?
A: I skied a lot in high school. Then I started working. I got real busy and didn't ski as much. But over the last couple of years, I skied every opportunity I got.
Q: What's your target for improving the resort's financial performance?
A: Last year, the resort actually showed the first profit in probably five or six years. It wasn't much, but it showed a profit. And this year, we're certainly projecting some money. The 2004 marketing budget was $230,000. We're going to spend $1.2 million this year.
Q: How does this project compare to other investments you have made?
A: It's certainly bigger than anything we've done in the past. Once you break down the individual components of Peek'n Peak [ski, golf, condos] and look at them as separate business ventures, the size isn't overwhelming. But if you look at the entire project - you know, 1,100 acres, 10-year project - it's certainly the biggest we've ever been involved in.
To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:, 216-999-5405

© 2006 The Plain Dealer
© 2006 All Rights Reserved.
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