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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Donny Clay Coming To Chautauqua

Jason Alexander To Play Role Of Motivational Speaker

By Rich Place,

Jason Alexander won't be himself when he comes to the Chautauqua Institution on Friday.
The actor will be taking the stage at the amphitheater as "Donny Clay - America's 4th Leading Motivational Speaker in an Evening of Music, Comedy and Personal Growth." A satire of today's motivational speakers, the presentation is performed entirely in the Donny Clay character.
"Jason Alexander never shows up on stage," he said about his performance. "It's all Donny, all night. It's hysterically funny, but it's not really standup comedy. It's theatrical in that it has a premise. It has a story."
Theaterics are nothing out of the ordinary for Alexander, most famous for his role as George Costanza on the television series "Seinfield." Before the show debuted in 1989, he was performing on Broadway. The 49-year-old New Jersey native won a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical in 1989 for his role in "Jerome Robbin's Broadway."
The transition from theater to television acting can be challenging for some, but Alexander believed "Seinfield" was produced in way that made this switch easier.
"The nice thing about 'Seinfield' is that - while it was a television show - they way we filmed it was more like theater than anything else," he explained. "There was a live audience, they were right there. It was great prep for that kind of transition to television."
The role of George on "Seinfield" was a creation by Alexander, and the show's creators, Jerry Seinfield and Larry David. As the character evolved throughout the seasons, Alexander made George his own.
"I always felt like George is my creation short of the actual dialogue," he said. "He was a bunch of ideas. But the 'ins and outs' of playing George, I always felt was mine."
As his role of Donny Clay over a decade later, Alexander has the opportunity to not only act on stage, but also create his own dialogue, which can sometimes be tricky.
"It's fascinating to be in charge of what comes out of your mouth," he said.
Although the Donny Clay routine is less than three years old, the idea for it can be traced back to "Bob Patterson," a show about a motivational speaker that only lasted six episodes.
"I will go to my grave saying it was the right show at the wrong time," Alexander explained. "Bob Patterson" debuted on ABC less than a month after September 11, 2001. "It was just not a good time and it did not go well."
To pitch the idea for the show to network executives, Alexander would perform a five minute "seminar" to the executives as Bob Patterson, a motivational speaker. Five years later, Alexander and the show's co-creater Peter Tilden brought the idea back to life, and created Donny Clay.
"Donny Clay was definitely born out of the ashes of Bob," Alexander explained. "Had we never explored the turn of Bob Patterson, I don't know if we'd had ever come up with Donny."
The Donny Clay act began as a performance exclusively for business executives, many like the network executives Alexander pitched Bob Patterson to.
"These poor guys are trapped in their retreats or whatever, and they think they are seeing a guy named Donny Clay who is a motivational speaker," he said. "So we come in and do an hour show where we bust them up and bust up their company or their products."
Taking the act to a public and more diverse audience is extremely young. In fact, Alexander said that his show at the Chautauqua Institution on Friday is only the third time it has been performed in front of a general audience. So far, making the show avaliable to the public has been a success.
"The challenge is what do we do with a real audience who isn't united by a company or a product?" Alexander explained. "It's been a hoot. It's really fun, although really frightening, to carry on the responsibility of 'we created this.'
"If this isn't good, it's our fault. We can't behind anyone else. But that's also what makes it really exciting and so far... the response has been terrific."
Those who will be in attendance at Friday night's show can expect a little lecturing, a bit of music and plenty of audience participation. As Alexander's character, Donny Clay, pokes fun at motivational speakers, the comedy in the show is only part of what an audience member will take away from the experience.
In past performances, Alexander said many audience members feel like they learned something from Donny Clay.
"If you can come out of a piece of theater having had a throughly good time but also going, 'I feel better about myself,' How great is that?"
Alexander's performance of "Donny Clay - America's 4th Leading Motivational Speaker in an Evening of Music, Comedy and Personal Growth" will be at the Chautauqua Institution amphitheater this Friday night at 8:15 p.m. General admission tickets are $38 general admission and can be purchased online at or by calling the box office at 357-6250.

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Father, Son Developers Renovating Former Falcon’s Club

By Dennis Phillips

A lakeside development is receiving a face lift thanks to a father and son development team from Colorado and Ohio.
What will now be called the Falcon's Club, but was once known as the Falcon's Nest, is being redeveloped by Brook and Hunter Burnberry. The lakeside property, located near Greenhurst along Route 430 before Bemus Point, is being redeveloped into town houses that will include 600 hundred feet of lake frontage on a nine acre lot.
Burnberry said he has been looking for a place along Chautauqua Lake for three years after helping his son and his wife, Kris, escape life for a little while by vacationing in the area.
''My daughter-in-law was fighting breast cancer at the time, and my son's family, my wife and I were on vacation. Chautauqua is close to Cleveland where my son lives and my wife just loves the institution,'' he said. ''Ever since, for the past three years, we've been looking for a place and we found this gorgeous piece of property.''
Burnberry, who has done other similar developments in the past, said it took some work to finally get the land purchased, which was finalized on Dec. 31, 2008.
''The property is great. Now we're just updating it with a new water system. We've got a tennis court and basketball court. This fall we will finish up the landscaping,'' he said. ''It will be a great project when we're finished. We've just started to put the property on the market.''
Burnberry said units will be 2,700 to 3,000 square-feet and selling for around $200 a square-foot, which would be between $540,000 to $600,000.
''We're going to have about 16 town houses at max,'' he said.
Burnberry said all units will have a two car garage, three bedrooms, two full baths, hardwood hickory floors, granite counter tops, washer and dryer facilities, new carpet, new appliances and a fire place.
''They're virtually new in the way we've redone them with all the fixtures,'' he said.
Richard and Julia McMahon, Real Estate Advantage owners, turned Burnberry onto the lakefront property. McMahon said Burnberry has put a lot of money into the development of the project, which had been vacant for a long time.
McMahon said it's nice to see people who are not from Chautauqua County making such an investment in renovating property.
''To me, these guys from Denver, the father, and the son from Cleveland selecting this particular project to move forth with is great,'' he said. ''This should bring hope and enthusiasm to the area.''
For more information, the McMahons can be reached at Real Estate Advantage by calling 483-3300 or by visiting their Web site at

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Chautauqua Lake Association Discusses Lake’s Ecosystem

By Nicholas L. Dean,
BEMUS POINT - Chautauqua Lake is healthier than it has been in years past, but it isn't out of the proverbial weeds yet.
The Chautauqua Lake Association sponsored the second of two symposiums addressing the area's aquatic plants and insects Tuesday at the Village Casino in Bemus Point.
Led by Robert L. Johnson, manager of Cornell University's Research Pond Facility, Tuesday's event and a similar presentation Monday in Mayville were sequels of sorts to similar public meetings held last year by the CLA. According to Johnson, last year's symposiums were so well-received, the CLA decided to sponsor the events again this year - reiterating important information and updating the presentations with what has since been learned from ongoing lake research.
"Quite a few people were asking some tough questions," Johnson said Tuesday of Monday night's workshop. "They were asking when we're going to solve Chautauqua Lake's problem and put the lake back in balance. I told them you actually have a group here that's working very hard on that, working on a lake management plan."
The CLA is an organization which works to maintain the health and beauty of Chautauqua Lake, promoting an environmentally friendly approach to controlling nuisance vegetation like Eurasian milfoil.
According to Johnson, Chautauqua Lake is experiencing a drastic reduction in weed growth this year. Many areas, such as Burtis Bay, are virtually weed free. Discussing the lake's different aquatic vegetation and the area's aquatic insect populations with the dozen people in attendance Tuesday, Johnson explained what has contributed to creating the lake's present situation and what can be done to continue it.
According to Johnson, Cornell and the CLA are researching insects this summer and informing owners of lakeshore properties about the importance of buffers. One thing which the CLA has been emphasizing for years is the importance of shoreline habitat and how what ends up in the watershed ends up in the lake.
"Our work this summer is mainly looking more in depth at some of the insects and trying to understand the life cycles of some of the new ones that are becoming big players," Johnson said. "We've been out looking for insects since spring. The Caddis fly was a big player in Burtis Bay and we're going around the lake and trying to find out where this insect is and in what densities. Obviously, there are a lot in undeveloped areas, where there's lots of woody trees. There are a few places on the lake where they're in extremely high density."
Johnson's discussion also touched on the difference between "good" and "bad" weeds and what benefits and threats they pose to the natural health of the lake.
"It's important for the lake's stakeholders to understand that certain weeds in the lake provide benefit to Chautauqua Lake's ecosystem," Johnson said. "Not all weeds are bad, and many provide food and shelter for the many animal inhabitants who call Chautauqua Lake home."
For more information, contact the Chautauqua Lake Association by calling 763-8602.
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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ellicottville Americana Folk Art & Music Fair July 18 & 19

The Rotary Club of Ellicottville, Foundation for Youth presents the Americana Folk Art and Music Fair, a concert at HolidayValley on Sunday July 19th. This family event with Arts, music and food will be the music event of the year in this pristine setting in front of Tannebaum Lodge.

The gates open at 11:00 AM for this outdoor interactive Bluegrass and Roots Music Fair.

The concert features:

Homemade Jam, Mountain Run Bluegrass with Doug Yeomans, The Doerfels and Tom Wilson's Lee Osmond will start promptly at noon.

The Doerfels are national recording artists, who have appeared on NPR and are recognized as a major young talent. The band composed of five permanent members ranging in age from 13 through 20 is often joined by others from this family of 10 children. Their upbeat bluegrass music will have the crowd on their feet for the entire performance.

Making a special appearance from north of the border is Tom Wilson with his new band, Lee Osmond. This is one of Canada's super groups. This band has a unique roots sound blending country, jazz and rock. Their musical talent and incredible stage presence will leave you in awe.

Mountain Run Bluegrass with Guitarist of the year Doug Yoemans is one of Western NY's favorites. This band will take you on a special journey with their brand of traditional Bluegrass.

"Homemade Jam" with Pete Boberg features pedal steel wiz Gene Hiltz. Their music is described as "Smooth oldies and country cozies" with incredible vocals from Liz Boberg.

This is not just a concert as numerous "In the crowd" musicians and artisans will be on hand to make this day one to remember for you and your family.

Tickets are only $10 in advance and $15 at the gate and can be purchased by calling 699-8758 or at HolidayValley at 699-2000 or many other outlets in Ellicottville. Kids under 12 accompanied by parents are free.

Mark your calendar & bring your lawn chair and dancing shoes, as this is a date you will not want to miss.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Scientist To Discuss Drastic Reduction Of Weed Growth In Chautauqua Lake

MAYVILLE - The Chautauqua Lake Association is sponsoring a symposium entitled the "Chautauqua Lake Aquatic Plant Workshop" led by aquatic scientist Robert L. Johnson, manager of Cornell University's Research Pond Facility, at 7 p.m. Monday at the Chautauqua Suites in Mayville.

A second workshop is scheduled at 7 p.m. Tuesday at The Casino in Bemus Point. The events are free for the public.
The workshops will give the community an opportunity to see, identify and learn about the different plant and insect species residing in the lake. Topics include the dramatic reduction in weed growth in Chautauqua Lake this year and the methods Johnson and the CLA used to curb infestation.
"These workshops will give the Chautauqua Lake community the chance to become familiar with the eco-system of the lake," Johnson said. "They will be able to look into a microscope and check out and identify the actual plants and insects native to the lake."
Johnson plans on discussing "good" versus "bad" weeds and what benefits and threats they pose to the natural health of the lake.
"It's important for the lake's stakeholders to understand that certain weeds in the lake provide benefit to Chautauqua Lake's ecosystem. Not all weeds are bad and many provide food and shelter for the many animal inhabitants who call Chautauqua Lake home."
Chautauqua Lake is experiencing a drastic reduction in weed growth this year according to Johnson. Areas like Burtis Bay are virtually weed free.
"The milfoil problem that reaped so Cornell Symposium much publicity is missing from the Bay this summer," Johnson said. "The CLA has been instrumental in supporting natural remedies to control weed growth like the introduction of moth larvae and monitoring of other insects that feed on and control the milfoil problem."
The CLA, an organization that maintains the health and beauty of the lake, supports a "green" approach to controlling nuisance vegetation like Eurasian milfoil.
"The CLA fought to have the Cornell studies continue," said Chris Yates, association president. "We are firm believers in keeping up with the science of the lake. We hope events like these symposiums will serve to educate the public on the overall benefits of good science."
Johnson, an aquatic plant researcher, plans on making the audience an important part of the workshop.
"The symposiums will include lengthy question and answer periods where people can satisfy their curiosities about any issues they have concerning the science of the lake," Johnson said. "It will be a hands-approach with many demonstrations about plants and insects."
For more information about the symposiums contact the Chautauqua Lake Association at 763-8602.
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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Chautauqua Lake Classic Watercraft Show


Antique And Classic Boating Society To Hold Weekend Show

By Sharon Turano,
POSTED: July 6, 2009


US POINT - Andy Robinson was on his way to buy his wife a hot tub one day when he saw a boat.
It wasn't just any boat, however. The boat Robinson saw was a classic boat.
Those wanting to see the boat he bought and refurbished, fittingly called "Kay's Hot Tub," can do so Saturday. It will be one of about 50 antique and classic boats taking part in the Chautauqua Lake Twin Tiers Chapter of the Antique and Classic Boating Society Inc.'s 12th annual show when boat enthusiasts from across the country, including Robinson, will converge at the Village Casino and Docks.
William R. Reynolds III is president of the local chapter that puts on the show. He said it was begun by the North Coast Ohio Chapter of the boating society. Due to logistics and distance, local members took it over about three years ago, getting their own chapter and keeping the event on Chautauqua Lake.
"I believe our hobby is one we can share with many walks of life," said Reynolds about the local group that now has about 49 members.
Besides, said Bill Baldwin, a director of the chapter, the boats the members own are part of American history: a whole era, in fact, and one he thinks is disappearing.
"History is a memory - what happens when you lose it?" he asked. Instead of worrying about that, Baldwin and others work on the boats Reynolds said he takes pride in having. The boats also have a way of "jogging memories" of those who view them. They recall trips on similar vessels, not to mention mesmerizing the younger crowd that only knows about turning a boat key in modern life, said Reynolds.
Robinson questions what those youth really think of the modern vessels, however.
He said he can pull into a dock next to a new, expensive type when 10 people run over to help him dock or ask about Kay's Hot Tub when the boat next door draws no one. Past Chautauqua Lake boat shows have drawn thousands, and Baldwin likes that.
There is something about the people, he said, adding he has lived in various spots across the country but likes to return here, where he finds "a different breed of boater."
"They get out and do things; they don't just talk about it," he said.
Tony Hopfinger, show co-chairman, said owning a classic boat is a passion he wants to share.
In fact, said Reynolds, members do not always want "a trailer queen," high-end museum piece of a boat, but, rather, to spread the word about the boats they enjoy. They encourage others to join the society that has about 8,000 members across the country and about 49 locally.
The chapter has a youth development committee, Web site, will hold a local workshop in August, along with attending a national symposium, having a local winter gala and more.
The chapters' members are inviting all of those who want to view their boats to the 12th annual show Saturday. A welcoming party kicks off events Friday when people can register from noon to 4:30 p.m.. Registration will also be held from 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. Saturday, with judging from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Public boat viewing is from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. before a 6 p.m. cocktail hour and 7 p.m. awards banquet. Sunday events include a boat cruise from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.
For information on the boats, show or chapter, visit or call Reynolds at 763-2201.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Chautauqua County Independence Day Events

By Rich Place,
The Fourth of July is always a celebration. With Independence Day falling on a Saturday this year, the timing seems just right for even better parties, barbecues and fireworks displays. Villages around the lake are not going to disappoint, with plenty of events and pyrotechnic spectaculars to make the most of the weekend.
Those familiar with the Monster Energy Drink Zamboni at the Jamestown Savings Bank Arena might want to check out the Floating Stage at the Italian Fisherman on Saturday. An opportunity to get a free picture taken with the Zamboni will be available throughout the day.
There will also be the first-ever Bemus Point snowball fight, the ''Shoot to Win'' hockey game and a special appearance by the Jamestown Jets and Grand Island ice skater Taylor Firth.
As evening sets in, Elvis will be taking to the Floating Stage, as impersonator Rick Alviti will perform his award-winning Elvis tribute show at 7 p.m. The night ends with a fireworks display after the concert at 10 p.m.
The flares around the lake event will be held on Saturday at 9:45 p.m. All are welcome to drive around the lakes on that evening to see the flares lit up.
The annual boat parade is returning for Independence Day this year at Findley Lake, a tradition started 19 years ago. As in the past, spectators can watch boats, decorated in a college football theme this year, and vote on the winners. The scheduled start time for the race is 2 p.m.
The Findley Lake Volunteer Fire Department is hosting a chicken barbecue lunch, and all of the shops and restaurants throughout town will be open.
Finally, fireworks will be displayed over Findley Lake at 10 p.m.
The 2009 Firecracker Run, hosted by the Lakewood Family YMCA, will begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday in Hartley Park. Registration is $20 the day of the race. The kids' race is at 9:30 a.m., and registration is free.
The village is also celebrating Summerfest, beginning at 2 p.m. Vendors offering a wide variety of foods, gifts and crafts will line Chautauqua Avenue. Live Music by ''Party Squad'' and a barbecue at Yesterday's Restaurant will also take place from 2 to 5 p.m.
Music will be provided in Hartley Park at 5 p.m. until Zambelli Fireworks caps off the night at 10 p.m. with its pyrotechnic display.
Little Valley Speedway is offering its Freedom Daze doubleheader, which features racing and fireworks on Friday and Saturday nights.
The racing begins at 7 p.m. on Friday and features the ULMB Super Late Models racing for $3,000. Other divisions racing tonight are the 360 Late Models, the Street Stocks and Mini Stocks. A fireworks display will follow the evening's action.
On Saturday, a duo of demolition derbies will begin at 7:30 p.m. A large car demo will take to the track first, as competitors try to decimate their opponents for the $1,000 cash prize and a $350 best in show. The small-car demo will follow and pays $500 to the winner and $200 for best in show. A fireworks spectacular will follow the derbies.
A Fourth of July parade will begin at 10 a.m., with the theme ''Patriot Pride.''
After the parade, festivities begin at noon in Mayville Lakeside Park, with family entertainment including kiddy rides, face painting,a petting zoo, pony rides and more. Live music, magic shows and a water play area will all be offered during the afternoon.
The night will conclude with a fireworks display at 10 p.m. by Premier Pyrotechnics.
If you are looking for holiday entertainment in theme park fashion on Saturday, Midway State Park in Maple Springs is offering Ride-A-Rama Wristbands for only $19.50 for unlimited ride access from noon until 10 p.m. Splash-A-Rama Wristbands, valid in the water park from noon to 10 p.m., are avaliable for $24.50.
Midway is also hosting a free concert by the Untouchables from 7 to 10 p.m., followed by a Laser Light Show.

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Sesame Street Live Hits Chautauqua

Sesame Street Live Hits Chautauqua

By Dave Emke,

CHAUTAUQUA - During Chautauqua Institution's ''Kids!'' theme week, it's only fitting that a man whose work has touched millions would make an appearance.
Gary Knell, president and CEO of the Sesame Workshop, will speak in the Amphitheater this morning at 10:45. It will be Knell's second appearance on the hallowed stage - he first spoke at Chautauqua during the 2007 season.
''I begged them to take me back,'' Knell laughed when asked about his return.
In reality, there was no begging involved. Knell said Tom Becker, Chautauqua Institution president, reached out to him as part of an effort to build relationships with non-profit organizations - such as Knell's Sesame Workshop - to create theme weeks such as Week 1's ''Kids!'' program.
The week is dedicated to early childhood education, including issues such as economics, brain development, the natural world, technology and formal preschool education. The local sponsor for the week is PNC Bank, which has worked hand-in-hand with Sesame Workshop through its Grow Up Great program, according to Marlene Mosco, regional president for PNC's Northwest Pennsylvania market.
''It's a 10-year, $100 million project, founded and underwritten by PNC,'' Ms. Mosco said. ''We've worked very closely with Sesame to develop materials and strategically plan all the things that we wanted to make sure we accomplish with this type of investment that we're making.''
In addition to its involvement with the Sesame Workshop, PNC funds programming geared toward young-child education in Erie County at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center and Sarah Reed Children's Center, among other locations.
Prior to Knell's lecture in the Amphitheater, he will speak at a breakfast for 75 early educators from around the region. The event is also being sponsored by PNC through the Grow Up Great program.
Sesame Street Live took the stage at Chautauqua on Wednesday night, and Knell said programs such as that are among the ways the Sesame Workshop continues to reach children in a new world where there are numerous options for and distractions from literacy education.
''There is so much evidence now about kids needing to become literate by second or third grade,'' Knell said. ''And if that doesn't happen, the chances of them actually succeeding and graduating high school go way down. High school graduation is the greatest alleviator of poverty, so it's very important that we build a culture of learning at an early age and that we build in a proficiency of reading.''
The Sesame Workshop is active in 140 nations, Knell said, with indigenous versions of Sesame Street being produced in two dozen. Those versions often deal with local issues that affect children, such as HIV/AIDS awareness in South Africa, respect for others in Israel and Northern Ireland, and female education in Egypt.
''This is a way of bringing awareness and starting to look at kids who are victims and are treated differently, and of turning around their whole lives,'' Knell said.
Knell said the driver of awareness in foreign nations is a television program, like it is in the United States, which is then coupled with radio and print media campaigns.
''It's gets the messages out to a population of kids who can really benefit from it,'' he said.
Sesame Street is celebrating its 40th year in the United States. In a world that has changed immensely since the program debuted, Knell said it has maintained its appeal and its far-reaching ability by understanding its audience's wants and needs.
''I always tell the employees in the workshop that I'm not the boss - the boss is a 4-year-old girl with a remote control,'' he said. ''If she's bored, you're not meeting your mission of reaching those kids.''
In addition, Knell said Sesame Workshop has embraced new technologies to continue getting its efforts of literacy promotion through to youth. Sesame Workshop boasts the nation's top preschool podcast, and Sesame Street is available on Hulu and various on-demand services, which Knell said provides parents with options they desperately need.
''When they want their kid to have a Sesame Street experience, they don't have to be home at 7 or 8 in the morning when the show is scheduled - they can do it on their time and be much more in charge of when or where they want their child to be,'' he said. ''We know we can deliver the content - the real question is about breaking through the clutter and reaching people where they are.''
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