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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Jeep Terrain Park Challenge at Peek'n Peak Resort

The Jeep Terrain Park Challenge, a
progressive grassroots program that promotes safety and responsibility at
terrain parks, will return to host Safety Clinic & Competition at Peek'n
Peak Resort in Findley Lake,
, on Sunday, March

After an overwhelming turnout during
the first clinic in January, the Jeep Terrain Park Challenge will return to
Peek'n Peak Resort to continue educating skiers and snowboarders on the
importance of safety at terrain parks. Afterward, participants will have the
opportunity to show what they've learned while showing off their best moves in a
competition for prizes from the event's sponsors. This season, the Jeep Terrain
Park Challenge has introduced an enhanced format in conjunction with the
Rossignol Demo team to educate riders on the latest in terrain park safety and

The series will take place
throughout the season at the nation's top ski resorts and terrain parks and
represents a one-of-a-kind effort to support one of the nation's newest and
fastest growing trends—terrain parks—which pushes skiing and snowboarding to the
extreme as riders navigate through a series of pipes, rails, tabletops and other
obstacles, while emphasizing safety and respect among skiers and
Saturday, March 01st, 2008
12:00 AM - 04:00 PM
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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Check out our cost-of commuting calculator

All across the country, buyers face the same dilemma -- "Do I buy the house 5 minutes from work, or do I buy the house 30 minutes from work for 25% less money?" 90 percent of the time, buyers choose the latter, and for fear of "steering", Realtors rarely try to convince buyers otherwise. However, if given the proper facts about what they spend in trade for "savings" on their mortgage payment, buyers would usually choose to buy the more expensive home that is closer to work.
Check out our cost-of commuting calculator at the bottom of our homepage.  You may find that  buying the more expensive home closer to town to be a better value - to be a bit easier. Because of this tool, you will suddenly become aware of the fact that your not actually saving money by buying a less expensive home if it requires that you spend an extra 45 minutes to an hour on the road. More often than not, after using this simple calculator,you'll find that you will be able to put commuting costs in perspective, and will be able to make an informed decision.
For more information on Chautauqua Lake Real Estate & Living  and to access the commuting calculator at the bottom of the home page visit:

Monday, February 25, 2008

Cornell, Lake Association Cooperate To Clean Chautauqua Lake

By Jessica Wasmund

 Researchers are seen adding Acentria larvae to Chautauqua Lake
2/25/2008 - In an effort to combat the Eurasian water milfoil, an invasive species that is abundant throughout Chautauqua Lake, representatives from Cornell University and Chautauqua Lake Association are combining forces to fight against further invasion.

The CLA has an ongoing six-year contract with the university to continue studying the lake and trying to cut down on the population of the Eurasian water milfoil.

''Every summer the CLA has been very visible on the lake with our machines doing what we do best — assisting the lakefront owners with shoreline cleanup and harvesting weeds to remove them from the lake,'' said Paul Swanson, CLA general manager.

Through numerous dives into the lake, Cornell research ponds manager Robert Johnson has discovered what is happening along the bottom of the lake. Johnson selected test plots for both the upper and lower basins of the lake, and officials from both organizations are hopeful the information he has documented will help provide answers on how to restore the lake to pre-Eurasian water milfoil conditions.

''Cornell provides support to Chautauqua Lake through our contract with the CLA to record yearly changes in aquatic plant growth,'' Johnson said. ''This natural biological control offers some help in limiting excessive weed growth.''

As research crews skimmed across the lake, they used a method known as ''rake-tossing'' to pinch off the top 25 centimeters of each weed stem. The samples were then put into separate bags and frozen. Johnson then dissected each stem to evaulate the same, looking for numbers and types of herbivores found.

To better understand the year-to-year changes in plant and insect herbivore abundance in Chautauqua Lake, Johnson then examines the reports by comparing yearly estimates of weevil populations since 2002. Understanding this changeability in plant and herbivore populations from year to year may aid in the overall plant management for the lake, Johnson explained.

Since the study first began, there has been a large variation in Johnson's year-to-year studies, which makes it difficult to predict populations from one year to the next. However, both the CLA and Cornell are committed to continuing the study of the lake and are hopeful to gain more knowledge from the experiments.

''This research represents just one of the many activities the CLA undertakes in its efforts to maintain Chautauqua Lake,'' said President Tad Wright. ''This effort, and other efforts such as more visible weed harvesting and shoreline cleanup, would not be possible without the generous support of the community.''
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Friday, February 22, 2008

Chautauqua Lake Watershed

We invite you to check it out and encourage you to join.
The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy it is an excellent organization for helping to preserve Chautauqua Lake and its watershed. Plus they publish a quarterly newsletter that keeps you informed of the latest issues affecting the lake and watershed.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Chautauqua County Bucking Real Estate Trends

By Robert Rizzuto

2/19/2008 - Despite the conditions of the national housing market, the New York state and Chautauqua County markets have remained relatively stable, according to statistics released from the New York State Association of Realtors.

''Our biggest obstacle as realtors right now is the national media constantly talking about a housing slump without mentioning it is regional in nature, and the Northeast has not been dramatically impacted by the slump,'' said Earl Johnson, 2007 Chautauqua County Board of Realtors president.

''According to (National Association of Realtors) Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, national real estate forecasts are not any more useful to local markets than a weather forecast giving the average temperature for the entire nation,'' he said

And Chautauqua County's sales numbers reflect its higher performance than the state overall, according to the report.

Statewide sales totals of existing single-family homes decreased 8.5 percent from 101,194 in 2006 to 92,635 total sales in 2007.

And the statewide median sale price dropped from $248,000 in 2006 to $237,000 in 2007, or 4.8 percent.

In contrast, from 2006 to 2007, the number of existing single-family homes sold in Chautauqua County dropped only slightly from 1,049 to 1.047, or 0.2 percent. And the median sale price actually increased from $71,500 to $73,000, or 2.1 percent.

''This is great news for home buyers as well as home sellers,'' Johnson said. ''Buyers can take advantage of attractive interest rates and affordable prices with the assurance they are making a sound investment. Sellers on the other hand, have not experienced loss of equity from falling home prices.''

And the state's numbers aren't as bad either, according to the report. Last year is considered to be the sixth highest sales total recorded since the NYSAR began tracking data in the 1980s.

''The (state's) market landed softly from the record growth experienced in 2004 to 2006 markets, and as the market returned to a balance between buyers and sellers, the state-wide median sales fell slightly as expected,'' said Duncan R. MacKenzie, NYSAR chief executive officer. ''There is still solid activity in the housing market which we expect to continue into 2008.''

Local realtor Ron LittleJohn said that the area market's greatest strength doesn't necessarily come from a growing resale value, but rather from its stability.

''It's a tricky market right now. I think a lot of people go online and get tied up reading all this stuff about other places, and that scares them,'' Littlejohn said. ''But what's good about our's is that it's stable and you know what you're going to get for your dollar.

''I know some people who went to Florida and looked at a house for $349,000 and later the same year, it was being offered for $259,000. In those places, the price is so inflated you don't know what you're spending your dollar for. I think we've got a steady demand because this is one of the best places to live anywhere. We have a lot of people from out of state shopping our market because our market is priced low. I don't know what exactly the stability is, but it's the source of our strength.''
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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Home Prices up in Half of Markets

Daily Real Estate News  |   February 14, 2008
Roughly half of metropolitan areas continued to show rising home prices in the fourth quarter of 2007, according to the latest quarterly survey by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

In the fourth quarter, 73 out of 150 metropolitan statistical areas show increases in median existing single-family home prices from a year earlier, including 11 areas with double-digit annual gains and another 12 metros showing increases of 6 percent or more; 77 had price declines including 16 with double-digit drops.

"The continuing crunch in the jumbo loan market that began in August has disproportionately reduced the number of transactions in higher price ranges," says Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. "For buyers who need loans of more than $417,000, mortgage interest rates have been running more than a percentage point higher, and that has been having an obvious impact. Higher ratios of sales for more moderately priced homes are naturally dampening the national median price as well as the data for some of the more expensive markets."

NAR's track of metro area single-family home prices is the largest published series of metropolitan home prices, with data available back to 1979. The metro home price series treats all homes equally, without placing higher weights on more expensive homes as in other home price series.

The disruption in higher priced sales continues to drag down the aggregate national median existing single-family home price, which was $206,200 in the fourth quarter, down 5.8 percent from the fourth quarter of 2006 when the median price was $219,000. The national median normally is a typical market price, where half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less.

NAR President Richard Gaylord says he's encouraged with plans to increase conventional loan limits.

"Higher limits for FHA loans, which go into effect March 14, will be a big help to first-time buyers in high-cost markets. Higher limits for conventional loans purchased by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae will take a bit longer – when they become available, high-income, creditworthy borrowers in high-cost areas will have access to affordable and safer financing, and that will help unleash pent-up demand," he says.

"With the market in a state of flux, it's especially important for consumers to stay abreast of widely varying and changing market conditions," Gaylord adds. He says consumers are recommended to take a traditional long-term view, which means taking the time to thoughtfully research the market.

More Housing Stats

Despite the annual decline in the fourth quarter median home price, the typical seller who purchased their home six years ago still saw a very healthy gain. The median increase in value for sellers who purchased that home in the fourth quarter of 2001 is 31.2 percent, and the median home equity accumulation is $49,000.

In the fourth quarter, the largest single-family home price increase was the Cumberland area of Maryland and West Virginia, where the median price of $116,600 rose 19 percent from a year ago. Next was Yakima, Wash., at $170,600, up 18.0 percent from the fourth quarter of 2006, followed by the Binghamton, N.Y., area, where the fourth quarter median price increased 14.8 percent to $110,000.

"The healthiest housing markets today generally are moderately priced and are experiencing job growth and often population growth, which in turn is supporting strong price growth," Yun says. "Most of the weakest markets have either experienced both job and population losses, or they are experiencing corrections following a prolonged period of rapid price growth."

Median fourth-quarter metro area single-family home prices ranged from a very affordable $72,600 in the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman area of Ohio and Pennsylvania, to nearly 12 times that amount in the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara area of California, where the median price was $845,300. The second most expensive area was San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, at $777,300, followed by the Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine area (Orange County, Calif.), at $657,400.

Other affordable markets include the Saginaw-Saginaw Township North area of Michigan, with a fourth-quarter median price of $74,900, and Decatur, Ill., at $75,000.

In the condo sector, metro area condominium and cooperative prices – covering changes in 59 metro areas – show the national median existing-condo price was $221,100 in the fourth quarter, essentially unchanged from $221,200 in the fourth quarter of 2006. Thirty-three metros showed annual increases in the median condo price, including four areas with double-digit gains; 26 areas had price declines including four with double-digit drops.

The strongest condo price increases were in Bismarck, N.D., where the fourth quarter price of $125,000 rose 20.8 percent from a year earlier, followed by the New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner area of Louisiana, at $173,300, up 17.8 percent, and Knoxville, Tenn., where the median condo price of $160,800 rose 10.6 percent from the fourth quarter of 2006.

Metro area median existing-condo prices in the fourth quarter ranged from $109,900 in Wichita, Kan., to $595,700 in the San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont area. The second most expensive condo market reported was Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, at $363,100, followed by the San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos area at $327,000.

Other affordable condo markets include both Indianapolis and Greensboro-High Point, N.C., at $116,700 in the fourth quarter, and the Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor area of Ohio at $120,000.

Total state existing-home sales, including single-family and condo, were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.96 million units in the fourth quarter, down 8.5 percent from 5.42 million in the third quarter, and are 20.9 percent below a 6.26 million-unit pace in the fourth quarter of 2006.

"With prior reports of national home sales declines, it is not surprising to see 14 states with declines in excess of 20 percent from a year ago," Yun says.

REALTOR Magazine Online
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Thursday, February 14, 2008


A better question: what wasn't scheduled for this weekend? You may find yourself double- and triple-booked — kind of like they always do on TV with dates, where they have two dates scheduled for the same night, at the same time, in the same restaurant. 

There are so many things happening in Mayville. The annual Mayville I.C.E. Festival is this weekend, held Saturday and Sunday at Lakeside Park (Route 394), with every kind of winter fun imaginable. Fireworks are at 8 p.m. on Saturday. See for the complete schedule of events, or call 753-3113 for more info. Will there be an ice castle this year? It's certainly been cold enough lately, but I guess we'll have to wait and see…

Also in Mayville, all on Saturday: the "Icing on the Cake and Reuben Fest" is at Celebration Hall in the old Mayville School from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The "Snow Ball" will be held at Chautauqua Suites from 9 p.m. to midnight. The Lakeview Hotel will have some New Orleans jazz with music by Larry Dixon from 8 p.m. to midnight. The hotel will also have a beer tasting from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday. 

Evangola State Park's Winter Fest is Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the park, with hayrides, contests and snowmobile rides. Food by Desperados Barbecue and Catering Company will be served in the Warm Up Room from 1 to 5 p.m. each day. For more info on the festival, visit or call 549-1802. 

The Taste of Arts Weekend will be at the Clarion Marina and Conference Center in Dunkirk on Saturday and Sunday, with workshops by the county's best artists and crafters, and a wine and beer tasting by Merritt Estate Winery and Ellicottville Brewing Company. If you're interested in the workshops, register by calling 366-8350, stop by in person, or fax 366-8899. Find registration forms at 

The St. Elizabeth Ann Seton annual Ethnic Foods Festival is from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday at the parish hall (corner of Fourth and Washington in Dunkirk). Sample Polish, German, Italian, Spanish and American dishes. Admission is $7.50 for adults and $5 for children. 

The 1891 Fredonia Opera House will be showing the Oscar-nominated movie "Atonement" at 8 p.m. on Saturday as part of their Cinema Series. If you're already overbooked this weekend, it will be shown again Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the door for $7 (adults), $6.50 (seniors & Opera House members) and $5 (students & children) the night of each showing.
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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Chautauqua Lake Cabin Life

This is an excellent publication for information on second home living:
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Monday, February 04, 2008

Lighthouse Grocery Chautauqua Lake

A Beacon Of Small Business: Lighthouse Grocery Celebrates 40 Years Of Service To Community
By Robert Rizzuto

 Lighthouse Grocery on Route 394 in Mayville recently celebrated 40 years in business.

P-J photo by Robert Rizzuto
2/4/2008 -

In the modern American business landscape, it seems to be getting harder to find small businesses which are not only economically viable, but still going as strong as when they began. Lighthouse Point Grocery in Mayville is proudly one of those rare exceptions.

On January 25, the business and its owner Bob Barnes celebrated 40 successful years of serving the public.

''It went by in a heartbeat,'' said Barnes. ''It's scary when you're hiring kids that are grandchildren of people you grew up with.''

That ''scary situation'' is a mathematical destiny when you've owned a small business in the same small community you were born and raised, as is the situation with Barnes.

His grocery store is but a fraction of the size of his larger competitors, but as Barnes will tell you, size isn't where he's been one-upping the competition for years.

Barnes said service and quality are the two things that keep them strong despite the many options for grocery shopping in the area.

''We are open 365 days a year, even with a few hours on Christmas,'' Barnes said. ''When you're a service store you have to be open when people need you, no matter what day it is.''

He also explained how in the small community of Mayville and the surrounding towns, he and his crew know almost everybody who comes in to shop.

''Many of our customers are loyal, having come in from generation to generation,'' Barnes said. ''Knowing the people and talking to them makes all the difference in the world.''

Even though the seasonal residents of Chautauqua Institution come in for only a couple months each year, Barnes said he remembers them and looks forward to seeing them when the snow finally melts. And as one might expect, traffic from the Institution has included several celebrities over the years.

Sandra Day O'Connor, musicians Nick and Aaron Carter, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, television star Melissa Gilbert and Paul Newman are among the ''well-known'' customers Lighthouse Grocery has served over the years.

And Barnes explained that although it is sometimes exciting, the crew plays it cool and never makes a big deal out of the famous people who walk their aisles.

He did say, however, that when Goodell comes through, they joke with him about being in charge of the NFL and give him ''suggestions,'' about what he can do to help the Buffalo Bills out.

Barnes said that when he looks back on 40 years of business, the biggest changes he's seen have been within the shopping and buying habits of the public.

''When we first started, there was a lot more cooking at home,'' Barnes said. ''In the last decade or so, that changed as now there are so many things that keep people preoccupied other than what's to eat.''

He also explained that the frequency with which people shop has changed since he started.

''There was a time years ago when you would go grocery shopping about twice a week,'' Barnes said, ''But now it seems people are shopping for almost every meal.''

He explained that as people change, he has aimed to change along with them while still placing the businesses focus on quality and service.

''The biggest challenge over the years is always the changing times,'' he said. ''You have to feel the customers out and if something is not broken, don't fix it.''

He did say that some periods of time have been easier than others to run a business.

''I think that in the 1970s, it was easiest to make a living. The costs weren't crucial,'' he said. ''In this decade, you have to watch every penny and it's just not as easy.''

One aspect of the store that has been revered by the customers consistently over the years is the meat department.

''It's our biggest asset and makes about 50 percent of sales,'' Barnes said. ''We still buy swinging beef. If someone wants a t-bone steak, they stand at the counter and we cut it fresh.''

The meat department is also well known among area deer hunters. Barnes said that although he's been cleaning deer for most of his life, the service is huge at the store.

''We cleaned 525, no, 527 deer this year,'' Barnes meticulosity recalled.

The owner has always been in the food business, as has most of his family. Prior to working at the grocery store which he would one day own, he was a cook at the Peacock Inn, which was formerly owned by his grandfather.

''I was cooking for a living right out of high school, and thought that I was working too many hours,'' he said. ''Then I came to work here and partnered with the owner's son, and eventually bought him out. Now I'm working all the time.''

In the summers, Barnes is at the store around 5 a.m. to begin baking fresh bread and rolls. And although he arrives slightly later in the winter months, it's safe to say that at some point in the day he will be at Lighthouse Point Grocery working.

With 40 years of ownership under his belt, Barnes is modest about his accomplishments, calling the day of the anniversary ''another day of work.''

But it seems that more often than not, longevity is what defines success when it comes to small, independently owned businesses.

And if you ask Barnes when he is planning on retiring, you'll probably get the questionable response of ''any day now,'' along with a smile and a wink.

But Barnes did say that he's been grooming a young man to step up to the big chair of the business one day soon. But when he retires, will he leave Mayville? Barnes said he doesn't plan on it.

''I might stick my toe in the water of retirement, and give it a try,'' he said. ''But this is home, it's comfortable and you know everybody. I don't much like being around large groups of people. Mayville is home.''
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