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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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