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Last updated: Wed, 23 Aug 2017 21:10:17 GMT

  PHOTOS: Jethro Tull by Ian Anderson Wed, 23 Aug 2017 21:46:19 -0400
If you like prog-rock, then you had a good time Tuesday at Artpark.
If you like prog-rock, then you had a good time Tuesday at Artpark.
Ian Anderson performed a multimedia rock concert, Jethro Tull, as part of the "Tuesdays in the Park" concert series in Lewiston. The show featured a solid collection of the best-known Jethro Tull repertoire from 1968 to date. Fans recognized the key songs from various albums -- songs that put Jethro Tull and Anderson on the map in the late '60s and early '70s -- with most of them accompanied by big-screen HD video elements to enhance the concert experience.
Next up is John Kay & Steppenwolf, with special guest Nerds Gone Wild. Tickets are available at the box office (450 S. Fourth St., Lewiston) and online at www.artpark.net.
PHOTOS:
  Precious Plate & Precision Process company family picnic raises $4,000 for WNY Heroes Wed, 23 Aug 2017 19:11:58 -0400
This summer has been unpredictable in terms of weather. However, on Aug. 13, the weather could not have been any more perfect. It was a fun-filled, successful day, too, as the Precious Plate and Precision Process annual company family picnic raised funds for WNY Heroes.
By Jeannine Alsous
Marketing Specialist
This summer has been unpredictable in terms of weather. However, on Aug. 13, the weather could not have been any more perfect. It was a fun-filled, successful day, too, as the Precious Plate and Precision Process annual company family picnic raised funds for WNY Heroes.
The picnic is geared to bring the families from both Niagara Falls companies together to raise money for a favorite and honorable charity of choice.
Founded in 2007 by U.S. Army veteran Chris M. Krieger and community activist Dionne Kane, WNY Heroes is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization serving the needs of Western New York's veterans and their families. The mission of WNY Heroes is to provide veterans, members of the armed services, and the widows and children of deceased veterans with access to essential services, financial assistance and resources that support their lives and sustain their dignity.
It is the vision of WNY Heroes to create a centralized resource to meet the needs of veterans and their families through collaborations with partnering community organizations. Companion organizations will provide direct support or serve as bridge organization for physical and mental health, as well as financial, legal and workforce development opportunities.
Eric Hutcheson accepted a check of $4,000 at the picnic from Precious Plate and Precision Process Human Resources Director John McKinney, and President Scott Law.
Krieger was unable to attend, but said, "The amazing outpour of support in the community is simply amazing. Precious Plate has been a big sponsor, donor of WNYHeroes since 2008. Without their support and the support of so many in WNY, we would not be able to assist the amount of veterans we do every year. Visit www.wnyheroes.org to make a donation or to learn more about WNY's local heroes."
The picnic included food catered from the Gratwick Fire Co.; dessert from the Village Bake Shoppe in Lewiston; caricature stylings by Sal Anello, owner of Canvas Crashers in Niagara Falls; a bounce house, rockwall, inflatable maze, face-painting, an employee-run cornhole tournament and a dunk tank; and an extensive basket auction with more than 90 baskets and certificates.
The company also raffled off large prizes, such as Buffalo Bills home-opener tickets, a signed Jim Kelly jersey, a 55-inch flat-screen television and two mountain bikes.
  Grand Island wins another Chalk Walk Wed, 23 Aug 2017 19:01:14 -0400
Assistance from patrons of the arts helped Grand Island High School students win an unprecedented seventh first-place award in the last eight years at the 2017 Chalk Walk competition.
By Larry Austin
Island Dispatch Editor
Assistance from patrons of the arts helped Grand Island High School students win an unprecedented seventh first-place award in the last eight years at the 2017 Chalk Walk competition.
Even Mother Nature couldn't stop the team of Kelsey Mahoney, Julie Klein and Tess Lariviere from winning the event, held Saturday during the Lewiston Art Festival. Periods of rain hampered some of the 13 teams drawing 8-foot by 10-foot murals on the asphalt of Center Street in the Village of Lewiston. Teams of three artists addressed the contest theme of "Interconnectedness."
Mahoney and Klein, members of the Class of 2017, were repeat winners for their alma mater, while Lariviere, making her Chalk Walk debut, will enter her senior year in September.
Normally the Chalk Walk is completed from noon to 4 p.m., but periods of rain prompted Chalk Walk organizers to extend the time limit for a half hour. The rain subsided long enough for teams to complete their murals, but returned at 5 p.m. just as the awards were handed out.
The downpour didn't put a damper on the event for Megan Gaiek, the GIHS art teacher and advisor to the GIHS team. GIHS has won a ribbon of some color in almost every Chalk Walk the school has participated in during her 20-year tenure guiding the team.
"It made it fun. It brought it to a different level," Gaiek said of the rain.
Kelsey Mahoney's mother, Karen, was one of about a dozen people who held a tarpaulin over the GIHS team's mural during two rainy periods of the event.
Karen Mahoney, Megan Gaiek and her husband Andy Gaiek held the tarp during a light, brief drizzle, but had extra help later. "Then the second time the rain came down, we had the tarp on standby," Karen Mahoney said. "It was really neat because bystanders just jumped in, and we had about 11 to 15 people hold the tarp. Just strangers walking by wanting to help and protect their art so the girls could keep working uninterrupted."
While the mural was intact, the tarp crew was drenched.
"I felt like I contributed to their project," Karen Mahoney said. It was probably not the first time a parent has helped a child with an art project, though this assistance required an extensive shoulder and bicep workout.
GIHS also won the People's Choice award. While the blue ribbon is voted on by a panel of judges, People's Choice is voted on with monetary donations by patrons of the Lewiston Art Festival. Just as the announcement of the People's Choice award was made, at 5 p.m., the rain came down even harder, wiping away much of the murals.
"I think the rain made it fun, if it wasn't so destructive," Mahoney said.
 "I didn't care too much whether we won or lost, because we had fun drawing, but it's nice to win," said Lariviere.
"It feels really great. I'm really excited," Klein said of the victory. "It's really nice because last year we didn't get People's Choice award and I feel like People's Choice award is almost a little bit more important because it's like everybody that came really enjoyed our artwork, and that makes me really happy. And it just feels great because we had such a great team with all my friends."
"I feel bad for the other schools, though, where the rain may have gotten underneath their tarp," Gaiek said.
The other teams from West Seneca West, Niagara Falls High School, Lewiston-Porter and Williamsville South didn't have 15 people holding a tarp over their heads. How did GIHS manage the feat?
"I'm not really sure," Klein said. "I think we had a lot of parents and a lot of people from the school and a lot of people from Grand Island who just wanted to kind of help us make sure that it didn't get wet. But it was really nice of them all to do that so we could keep working."
The trio from GIHS worked uninterrupted, while teams from other schools covered their murals with plastic, waited, and hoped for the best. To the naked eye, GIHS's mural was the least damaged by moisture.
"We didn't get it wet at all, I don't think," Klein said. "It was fantastic. We were able to keep working. I feel bad for some of the other teams because either their tarp didn't work out as well or it got a little wet."
"I saw a lot of other groups do the tent kind of thing, but I think they were too high up, but the advantage of having the people hold it over us was that it was nice and low so the rain couldn't go in," Mahoney said.
Working under the tent-like tarp was not at all claustrophobic, either. Mahoney said, "It wasn't so bad for me. It was kind of cozy."
"It was like camping, but with chalk," Lariviere said.
Artists from other schools saw a silver lining in the rain clouds.
"Yeah, it's a little disappointing," said Natalia Suska of Niagara Falls High School as the rain came down, "but we're trying to use the water to our advantage now, because now (the chalk) can be the consistency of paint. And then we have paint brushes that we can use for it."
Suska and teammates Cally Dolan and Alex Dixon addressed the theme with a mural incorporating the Berlin Wall and President Harry Truman's U.S. airlift of 1948. The mural showed the interconnectedness of both West Berliners and East Berliners coming together and how the airlift "brought the world and democracy together," she said.
The rain "helped set some of the colors in, so it helped us a little bit," said Lewiston-Porter Chalk Walk artist Mari Salada. "We ended up covering it with plastic so it didn't wash everything away, but the little bit of it actually helped us,"
Salada said patrons of the festival told her the mural she and teammates Uma Samudrala and Christine Barr made was different than the rest. Salada described the mural message, saying: "You feel so far away from everything sometimes, and we really are right there with all the elements, the earth, even space. Even if you have a small perspective in life, you're still part of a way bigger picture."
"I'm really excited about the finished product. I think we worked really hard on it," Samudrala said.
Tess Lariviere, Julie Klein and Kelsey Mahoney draw a mural under a tarp held by art fans during a lengthy rain.
  Crime in the crosshairs: Wojtaszek, police chiefs sign joint MOU at Crime Analysis Center Wed, 23 Aug 2017 19:00:11 -0400
Niagara County District Attorney Caroline A. Wojtaszek and a pantheon of local crime fighters were on-hand Wednesday morning to formalize an agreement to partner their agencies with the county's efforts to identify - and successfully prosecute - criminals.
Resource now has countywide crimefighting scope
By Public Information Officer Christian W. Peck
Niagara County District Attorney Caroline A. Wojtaszek and a pantheon of local crime fighters were on-hand Wednesday morning to formalize an agreement to partner their agencies with the county's efforts to identify - and successfully prosecute - criminals.
Flanked by Niagara County Sheriff James R. Voutour, Niagara Falls Police Superintendent E. Bryan Dalporto and Acting U.S. Attorney J.P. Kennedy, and a dozen other police chiefs and commanders, Wojtaszek signed memoranda of understanding with each of the county's police departments, ensuring they will share crime data and information with the county's Niagara Intelligence and Crime Analysis Center, a state-of-the art facility that allows prosecutors and police access to a host of information on crime, including camera feeds.
That Crime Analysis Center already has played a significant role in a high-profile case, and Wojtaszek gave a detailed briefing to the press on precisely how the perpetrator of a high-profile sex assault was brought to justice relying on NICAC's resources.
The DA noted the MOU - and the addition of a DA's office staffer at the NICAC - mean the county can step up its efforts to fight crime.
"Our office motto hangs above the front door of the district attorney's office: 'Committed to public safety, fairness and equal justice,'" Wojtaszek said. "Initiatives like this, like hiring a full-time criminal intelligence officer, like partnering with our local police departments, big and small, to share vital data and information - those are the steps we're taking to fulfill that motto, that mission."
Wojtaszek noted the NICAC has already seen successes in the war on crime.
In a post-signing presentation, DA's office staffers explained how assailant Robert MacLeod was apprehended in the sexual assault of a Japanese tourist and was successfully prosecuted by Wojtaszek's office.
"The defendant was brought to justice with evidence generated by cameras, and he was located through intelligence analyzed by the center," Wojtaszek explained. "The result was a case with strong evidence that led to a swift jury verdict and a 22-year jail sentence for the perpetrator. The case sent a strong message to the public that we will not stand for crimes against anyone in our community, or against those tourists that choose to visit our beautiful county."
Wednesday morning's press conference took place at the Niagara Falls Police Department, where the NICAC is sited. A collaborative effort between Wojtaszek's office, local police agencies and the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, the Crime Analysis Center brings a high-level criminal intelligence analyst together with state-of-the-art technology, including a surveillance network of public and private security cameras located throughout the region.
Signing the MOUs with every police department in the county ensures a cross-leveling of information among the crime-fighting agencies, which should lead to more resolved cases and more criminals facing justice.
The center, one of just eight in a statewide network established and supported by the Division of Criminal Justice Services, is staffed by crime analysts, field intelligence officers, drug intelligence officers, and a range of other specialists focused on crunching data, isolating trends, identifying crime hotspots, developing leads in cases, and assisting police and prosecutors.
Wojtaszek also formally invited local businesses and residents to join an effort dubbed "Operation Safe Cam," registering their security cameras with her office.
"Our police will know where the cameras are and can access footage quickly and solve crimes faster ... by empowering the public to help us in fighting crime in our community," she told an audience made up of police and prosecutors.
Michael C. Green, DCJS executive deputy commissioner, praised today's actions.
"The work done by staff assigned to the eight crime analysis centers in the state's network plays a key role in keeping New Yorkers safe," he said. "They provide data and intelligence - often in real-time - that allow investigators and officers to do their jobs more effectively and efficiently. The expansion of the center further strengthens the network and I thank District Attorney Wojtaszek, Sheriff Voutour, Chief Dalporto and their law enforcement colleagues through Niagara County for their continued partnership.
"Under Gov. Cuomo's leadership, New York state remains committed to providing local law enforcement agencies with resources, support and technology that will help ensure a safer New York for all its residents."
In addition to Niagara Falls, crime analysis centers are located in Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Malone, Rochester, Syracuse and Utica. They primarily serve law enforcement in 16 counties: Albany, Broome, Clinton, Essex, Erie, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Monroe, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Rensselaer, St. Lawrence, Saratoga and Schenectady, but will assist other agencies throughout their regions upon request.
The Centers in Albany, Malone, Niagara Falls, Rochester and Utica, Erie and Onondaga offer assistance in real-time.
New York state annually invests about $6 million in the network, which also connects to locally supported centers in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties. The New York State Police, state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, Department of Motor Vehicles, and federal Probation Department also share data with the centers.
The crime analysis centers and staffers have been recognized by international and national organizations for their innovative use of technology and quality of their work, including the International Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysts, the Center for Digital Government and Digital Communities, Government Security News, and the International Association of Crime Analysts.
  United Way of Greater Niagara announces 2017 campaign goal Wed, 23 Aug 2017 18:57:55 -0400
United Way of Greater Niagara President and CEO Connie Brown announced the organization's annual goal on Wednesday. The United Way of Greater Niagara hopes to raise $1,150,000 this year, which represents a 5 percent increase of what UWGN raised last year.
By Lauren Garabedian
United Way of Greater Niagara President and CEO Connie Brown announced the organization's annual goal on Wednesday. The United Way of Greater Niagara hopes to raise $1,150,000 this year, which represents a 5 percent increase of what UWGN raised last year.
The campaign will officially kickoff on "Make A Difference Day," Sept. 13, and will end Nov. 30.
Brown said the United Way of Greater Niagara is looking forward to achieving maximum success from its 2017 workplace campaign by bringing together a powerful group of business, manufacturing, law enforcement, banking and labor representatives who will support the organization's efforts in the Niagara community.
Brown warmly welcomed press conference attendees as she introduced William Jakobi, AFL/CIO labor liaison and campaign coordinator.
"The campaign goes a long way to fund 25 agencies that provide 42 different programs through Greater Niagara," Jakobi said.
The co-chairs for this year's campaign are William Tiger, plant manager of GMCH Lockport operations; and Jim Briggs, subdirector of United Steel Workers, and president of Niagara/Orleans Labor Council.
"I became involved with United Way right of college about 40 years ago. Over those years, I've been to three different states, two different countries, and five different plants," Tiger said. "Through all of that, you mostly see the need in the community, and you also see that United Way is there. So, it's really a neighbor helping neighbor, where your money stays local and is used by people who understand how hard you work for your money and are determined to put every dollar to good use."
This year, the United Way will partner up with Marcus Latham from Niagara Falls Local Teachers 801, Lucy Muto from M&T Bank, Russell Quarentello from IBEW Local 237, Nicholas Roseberg from Hypertherm, Dana Zuber from Plato's Closet and Clothes Mentor, and Capt. Gregory Schuey from Niagara County Sheriff's Office.
"When it comes to United Way and the people in need in our community, there isn't an 'us or them' ... there is only a 'we,' " Briggs said. "I am honored to be a co-chair for this campaign, because United Way of Greater Niagara will help people who need help in our community. I've personally seen how United Way works when my people from the different unions fall on hard times and United Way and their agencies are always there to help."
For more information, visit www.uwgn.org.
  Greg's Pools & Lewiston Redemption host customer appreciation day Wed, 23 Aug 2017 18:54:44 -0400
Greg Robertson of Greg's Pools and Bill Schiavitti of Lewiston Redemption are teaming up to present customer appreciation day from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 2. Free Sahlen's hot dogs and water will be served.
Greg Robertson of Greg's Pools and Bill Schiavitti of Lewiston Redemption are teaming up to present customer appreciation day from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 2. Free Sahlen's hot dogs and water will be served.
Greg's Pools and Lewiston Redemption are located 820-840 Seneca St., Lewiston.
Patrons are invited to come on out and check the pool supplies, sheds and spas. They will receive special discounts, and can drop off cans and bottles for a refund.
"We are so grateful to all of our customers for their support, and this is our way of saying 'Thank you,' " event organizers said.
Greg's Pools is a family-owned business, with Robertson the third generation working in the store since its opening in 1980. The business offers a complete line of pool supplies, chemicals and accessories, plus aboveground and inground pool sales, service and installations, pool closing service and cleaning. Portable spas and storage sheds also are available for purchase.
Lewiston Redemption, also a family-owned business, opened in February. It serves the Lewiston community and surrounding areas with bottle and can recycling and redemption. The business has more than 20 local nonprofits it partners with for fundraising. Moreover, Lewiston Redemption donates an extra 10 percent of can and bottle returns back to many of those organizations. It also offers free bins for parties and events. Pick-up services also are available.
  New York's Powerball jackpot at $700 million - 2nd highest in game history Wed, 23 Aug 2017 18:53:37 -0400
Tonight's Powerball drawing has a jackpot of $700 million - the second-highest jackpot in the game's history.
Tonight's Powerball drawing has a jackpot of $700 million - the second-highest jackpot in the game's history.
Today in just New York state, Powerball sales have topped more than $1 million-an-hour - and are expected to increase even more this evening until the close of sales at 10 p.m.
"$700 million is certainly life-changing money, and New Yorkers are buying tickets to be a part of the excitement," said Gweneth Dean, director of the division of the lottery. "Powerball fever has once again arrived in New York state, and we are excited for all our players."
This Powerball jackpot started rolling June 14, starting at $40 million. Jackpots have rolled 20 times leading up to the $700 million jackpot, the second-largest jackpot in Powerball game history.
Leading up to this drawing, New York Powerball sales have been $91.18 million, or 7.88 percent of the $1.16 billion in sales across all participating Powerball states. Aid to education from New York's Powerball ticket sales during the same time period totaled more than $31.91 million.
There have been three second-prize Powerball-winning tickets worth $1 million each sold in New York since this roll-up began.
Since New York joined Powerball in 2010, the state has sold six jackpot-winning tickets for the game:
  • Dec. 25, 2010 - $48.8 million - Jeffrey & Christine Pintuff of Gansevoort
  • Jan. 22, 2011 - $122.1 million - Stephen Kirwan of Purling
  • June 1, 2011 - $201.9 million - 1937 Flatbush Avenue Dodgers Group of Jericho
  • Feb. 25, 2012 - $70 million - Case Park, LLC of Hartsdale
  • Nov. 16, 2013 - $130.3 million - Maksim Nikolayev of Brooklyn
  • March 14, 2015 - $136.0 million - Perosi of Manhattan
Since 2010, the New York Lottery has awarded $197.6 million to 276 second-prize winners.
The record Powerball jackpot amount currently stands at $1.586 billion, split in January 2016 by three players in California, Florida and Tennessee.
Powerball costs $2 per game to play. The "Power Play" multiplier costs an additional $1 per game to play. To play Powerball, players choose five numbers from a field of 1 to 69, plus one Powerball number from a separate field of 1 to 26.
Any player who matches all five numbers and the Powerball number in tonight's drawing will have to decide between the annuity option of an estimated $700 million (30 payments over 29 years) or a lump-sum payment of an estimated $443.3 million. If there is more than one grand prize-winning ticket, the jackpot will be split by the winning ticketholders.
If no one matches all five numbers plus the Powerball in tonight's drawing, the jackpot will roll once again. The jackpot amount will depend on ticket sales across all 47 jurisdictions in total.
More information about Powerball, and the Multi-State Lottery Association can be found HERE.
  Aug. 31 is deadline to report high water impact for survey Wed, 23 Aug 2017 18:52:24 -0400
Aug. 31 is the deadline for Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River property owners to complete the electronic surveys on high water impact by Cornell University and New York Sea Grant. The lake and river survey forms are online at www.nyseagrant.org/waterlevel2017.
Aug. 31 is the deadline for Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River property owners to complete the electronic surveys on high water impact by Cornell University and New York Sea Grant. The lake and river survey forms are online at www.nyseagrant.org/waterlevel2017.
The information collected will be used to identify areas that are most vulnerable to high water levels, and inform future community flood risk planning.
  Xfinity is presenting sponsor of 'Dream Team Week' on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA Wed, 23 Aug 2017 18:51:29 -0400
Xfinity, the residential cable service brand of Comcast, will be the presenting sponsor of "Dream Team Week" on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA, both parties announced Wednesday. The agreement, which begins on Aug. 28, includes Xfinity branding within billboards, bumpers, opens and closes, as well as presenting sponsorship status during Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA's eight nights of "Dream Team" broadcasts, live streams, and social media content.
8 consecutive nights of 'Dream Team' games in their entirety beginning Monday
Xfinity, the residential cable service brand of Comcast, will be the presenting sponsor of "Dream Team Week" on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA, both parties announced Wednesday. The agreement, which begins on Aug. 28, includes Xfinity branding within billboards, bumpers, opens and closes, as well as presenting sponsorship status during Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA's eight nights of "Dream Team" broadcasts, live streams, and social media content.
This is the first presenting sponsorship for the Olympic Channel, which launched July 15.
The new TV network is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics with "Dream Team Week," presenting all eight original broadcasts on eight consecutive nights in primetime, beginning at 8:30 p.m. ET Monday, and culminating with an 11-hour Labor Day marathon on Monday, Sept. 4, that concludes with the 1992 gold medal final against Croatia.
"As a result of this partnership with Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA, Xfinity will be the proud beneficiary of associating its brand with the 'Dream Team,' one of the most iconic teams in the history of sports," said Paul Wilson, SVP, ad sales, NBC Olympics. " 'Dream Team Week' is the perfect example of the unique and powerful associations that this new all-family network can provide to advertisers."
"Xfinity has become a destination for sports entertainment and we're thrilled to be associated with the rebroadcast of one of the most iconic Olympic teams of all time," said Matt Lederer, executive director of sports marketing at Comcast. 
Comcast is an official partner of the U.S. Olympic Committee through 2020.
The 1992 Barcelona Olympics marked the first time NBA players could participate in Olympic basketball. The "Dream Team" is widely credited with dramatically increasing basketball's popularity around the world, and was collectively inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010. Eleven of the 12 players on the team are in the Basketball Hall of Fame as individuals, as well as three of the team's four coaches. The "Dream Team" defeated its eight opponents in 1992 by an average of 44 points en route to the gold medal, and won every game by at least 30 points.
The full "Dream Team" roster consisted of: Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Clyde Drexler, Patrick Ewing, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Christian Laettner, Karl Malone, Chris Mullin, Scottie Pippen, David Robinson and John Stockton.
Chuck Daly served as head coach, alongside assistant coaches P.J. Carlesimo, Mike Krzyzewski and Lenny Wilkens.
Every "Dream Team" game from the 1992 Barcelona Olympics will feature the original commentary teams that called the action. Marv Albert led NBC's basketball coverage in 1992 alongside analyst Mike Fratello and reporter Quinn Buckner, while Chick Hearn and Steve Jones provided play-by-play and analysis for games that aired on NBC's Triplecast, a pay-per-view joint venture between NBC and Cablevision during the Barcelona Games.
Each night, following game coverage from the Barcelona Olympics, the Olympic Channel will present NBC's "Dream Team" documentary that originally aired during the 2012 London Olympics, and includes interviews with Jordan, Johnson, Bird and Barkley.
  Maria Menounos, former Miss America Nina Davuluri added to celebrity judges panel for final night of 2018 Miss America Competition Wed, 23 Aug 2017 18:50:29 -0400
The Miss America Organization, dick clark productions and ABC on Wednesday announced TV and SiriusXM host, CEO of Afterbuzz TV and bestselling author Maria Menounos, and former Miss America Nina Davuluri as competition judges.
Live on ABC
The Miss America Organization, dick clark productions and ABC on Wednesday announced TV and SiriusXM host, CEO of Afterbuzz TV and bestselling author Maria Menounos, and former Miss America Nina Davuluri, will join ACM Male Vocalist of the Year Thomas Rhett, author, actress and model Molly Sims, multiplatinum recording artist and actress Jordin Sparks and People Editor-in-Chief Jess Cagle as the esteemed panel of celebrity judges for the final night of The 2018 Miss America Competition.
The live broadcast will air from Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall on Sunday, Sept. 10 (9 p.m. EDT/PDT), on the ABC Television Network.
"I understand all too well the emotions of stepping on to the Miss America stage," Davuluri said. "I'm honored to be able to help shape the legacy of the Miss America Organization over the next year!"
The judges' panel will evaluate the contestants' performances in lifestyle and fitness, eveningwear, talent, interview and on-stage questions during the competition. The evening will showcase the intellect, grace and talent of 51 accomplished women representing their home states (and District of Columbia), as they compete for the coveted title of Miss America.
The seventh judge's name for the final night of The Miss America Competition will be revealed closer to the competition.
As previously announced, Chris Harrison (ABC's "The Bachelor" franchise and "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire") returns to host the competition, with Sage Steele (ESPN's "SportsCenter on the Road" and "SportsCenter: AM") joining as co-host.
Voting is still open to the public for the "America's Choice" contestant. The public can vote at missamerica.org/vote and facebook.com/missamerica. People are permitted one vote per day, per user. Voting will close at 9 p.m. ET Tuesday, Sept. 5. The chosen contestant will be announced during the live broadcast, with the top 15. The Miss America preliminary judges panel will select the remaining contestants in the top 15. It is possible for "America's Choice" to also be among the judges' selection.
For the latest news, follow Miss America on social and join the conversation by using the official hashtag for the show, #MissAmerica.
  AAA op-ed: School's open, drive carefully Wed, 23 Aug 2017 18:48:52 -0400
Disturbingly, a pedestrian is killed every two hours in the United States, on average, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
By Anthony B. Spada
Disturbingly, a pedestrian is killed every two hours in the United States, on average, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Soon, millions of school-aged children will be heading back to school eager to learn. It's the responsibility of every adult to protect these precious students.
Consider this: In the last decade, more than 25 percent of child pedestrian fatalities occurred after school, between 3 and 7 p.m. And New York state averages nearly 300 pedestrian fatalities annually.
Many children walk or ride their bikes to and from school. Others travel by car or bus. AAA's annual "School's Open - Drive Carefully" campaign is in its 72nd year of reminding drivers across the state to be vigilant and to be aware of children on our roads.
All drivers need to recognize the special safety needs of pedestrians and especially young children. It is important to be aware that all pedestrians have the right of way regardless of the rules of the road. Drivers are obligated to exercise great care and extreme caution near a school or playground. Children are often the least predictable and the most difficult to see.
So, as children go back to school, take extra care, particularly when you see a school bus and always in all residential areas. Here are some helpful reminders:
  • Always stop for a school bus when the lights are flashing
  • Slow down
  • Remove all distractions from the driver - put cell phones down
  • Do not pass other vehicles
  • Obey crossing guards at all times
  • Expect the unexpected
  • Check your mirrors before moving
  • Teach your children the rules of traffic safety
Please take extra precautions as we enter the school year and thereby create safe driving habits that will last a lifetime and save lives. Thank you.
Anthony Spada is president-CEO at AAA Western and Central New York. He is also currently serving as president of AAA New York State.
  Countdown to Peach Festival begins Wed, 23 Aug 2017 17:53:50 -0400
The Kiwanis Club of Lewiston held a press conference on Wednesday to officially kickoff preparations for the 60th Niagara County Peach Festival. The popular end-of-summer event will be held Sept. 7-10 at Academy Park on Center Street.
The Kiwanis Club of Lewiston held a press conference on Wednesday to officially kickoff preparations for the 60th Niagara County Peach Festival. The popular end-of-summer event will be held Sept. 7-10 at Academy Park on Center Street.
Among the highlights for the estimated 30,000 in attendance will be a cheerleading competition and fireworks on Friday night; an extensive parade and 5K run/walk on Saturday morning; the peach recipe "Taste Off" competition Saturday afternoon; a dance competition Sunday afternoon, and the finale of the Peach Queen competition Sunday evening.
Amusements of America will once again serve as the ride company, supplying more than 40 rides for guests of all ages. The Peach Festival boasts the largest midway in Niagara County.
Appleton's Bittner-Singer Farms will provide up to 13,000 pounds of locally harvested peaches - that's 6.5 tons - the majority of which will be paired with fresh shortcake from DiCamillo Bakery as part of the festival's signature dessert.
Advance ride tickets are now on sale. For more information, visit www.lewistonpeachfestival.org.
HIGHLIGHT VIDEO:
PHOTOS:
Peach Festival Chairman Alan Hastings previews this year's event.
Chef Rachel Jolbert makes peach shortcake.
Peach Festival committee members Jerry Wolfgang, Marty Pauly and Alan Hastings.
Town of Lewiston Supervisor Steve Broderick, far left, and Councilman Bill Geiben pose with Village of Lewiston Trustee Vic Eydt.
Peach Festival Advisory Chairman Jerry Wolfgang addresses the media.
  Lewiston Jazz Festival: Top musical acts, 150 performers, Militello Mass take center stage Wed, 23 Aug 2017 10:41:10 -0400
The 16th annual Jazz Festival is set for Friday and Saturday, Aug. 25-26. Now known as the Northwest Jazz Festival, Lewiston, NY, and presented by Northwest Bank, the event is a jazz music lover's delight: a free, two-day event with more than 150 musicians lined up and down Center Street, with performances on a half-dozen stages.
Al Jarreau once said, "Jazz should be recognized as music of the people."
But there's a hiccup. As Esperanza Spalding noted, "The problem with jazz accessibility is not the content of the music, it people's ability to access it."
So, just where can people find live jazz music in 2017?
In New York, the answer is Lewiston.
The 16th annual Jazz Festival is set for Friday and Saturday, Aug. 25-26. Now known as the Northwest Jazz Festival, Lewiston, NY, and presented by Northwest Bank, the event is a jazz music lover's delight: a free, two-day event with more than 150 musicians lined up and down Center Street, with performances on a half-dozen stages.
Headlining the Northwest Jazz Festival Main Stage at 8:30 p.m. Friday is the Dave Stryker Quintet with Eric Alexander. (www.davestryker.com)
Whether you've heard guitarist Stryker leading his own group (with 27 CDs to date as a leader), co-leading The Stryker/Slagle Band, or as a featured sideman with Stanley Turrentine or Jack McDuff, it's not hard to imagine why the Village Voice called him "one of the most distinctive guitarists to come along in recent years."
Recently voted once again into the Downbeat readers and critic's polls, Stryker will bring to the Northwest Jazz Festival stage an ensemble of today's leading jazz all-stars: Jared Gold has been consistently selected in the Downbeat critic's poll top 10 in the organ category and is regarded as one of the finest Hammond B-3 Organ performers in jazz today. Vibraphonist Steven Nelson is in the same top 10 category of recognized jazz vibraphonists. Rising star McClenty Hunter will join in on drums.
Special guest will be one of the top tenor saxophonists in jazz today: Eric Alexander, a sought-after tenor sax player who has worked with Harold Mabern, Pat Martino, Ron Carter, Vincent Herring and Steve Davis.
Stryker will release his latest CD, "Striking Ahead," just a few days after the Northwest Jazz Festival.
The Dave Stryker Quintet - he is shown above - will headline this year's Jazz Festival on Friday in Lewiston.
Headlining the Northwest Jazz Festival Main Stage at 8:30 p.m. Saturday will be The Hot Sardines. (www.HotSardines.com)
In the talented hands of the New York-based ensemble, music first made famous decades ago comes alive through a brassy horn arrangements, rollicking piano melodies, and vocals from a chanteuse who transports listeners to a different era with the mere lilt of her voice.
On "French Fries & Champagne," The Hot Sardines' new album for Universal Music Classics, the jazz collective broadens its already impressive palette, combining covers and originals as they effortlessly channel New York speakeasies, Parisian cabarets and New Orleans jazz halls.
Bandleader Evan "Bibs" Palazzo and lead singer "Miz Elizabeth" Bougerol met in 2007 after they both answered a Craigslist ad about a jazz jam session above a Manhattan noodle shop. The unlikely pair - she was a London School of Economics-educated travel writer who grew up in France, Canada and the Ivory Coast; he was a New York City-born-and-raised actor who studied theater at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia - bonded over their love for Fats Waller. Influenced also by such greats as Dinah Washington, Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday, they began playing open mic nights and small gigs and, by 2011, they headlined "Midsummer Night Swing" at New York's Lincoln Center.
Jazz Festival Board Chairman George Osborne, a noted musical sage, and former head of Artpark & Company, said, "I believe that the Dave Stryker Quintet with special guest Eric Alexander will be a very special night for all true jazz lovers. They make music that is top drawer.
"The Hot Sardines is what the name implies. They deliver an upbeat and highly entertaining performance somewhat in the New Orleans tradition. They will provide a fabulous ending to our 16th festival."
VIP seating tickets for these two performances, $20, are available online at www.LewistonJazz.com.
The Lewiston Jazz Festival Inc. board, led by Osborne, coordinates the festival in partnership with the Town and Village of Lewiston.
Each August, this free music festival draws over 30,000 people to the quaint and historic Village of Lewiston on the Niagara River.
The festival runs from 5-10:30 p.m. Friday, and from noon to 10:30 p.m. Saturday. Jazz music performances will take place on the Main Stage, Rising Star Stage, Peace Garden Stage, Frontier House Stage and DiCamillo Courtyard Stage.
Jazz music coordinator Tony Zambito of JazzBuffalo.org has organized 30 musical acts with more than 150 musicians over the two-day event, which is the largest outdoor jazz festival in Western New York. The Lewiston event features nonstop performances on five stages, with culinary delights and Niagara Wine Trail wineries offering fare along Center Street.
John Golding, New York region president of Northwest Bank, said he is looking forward to the upcoming festival.
"It's an honor to be the presenting sponsor of the Jazz Festival, which brings thousands of people to Lewiston every year," he said. "This is an event many of our employees look forward to attending each year; so to be involved at this level is an exciting opportunity for Northwest. We're happy to be part of this year's festivities and hope everyone will come out and support this great local event."
Scenes from last year's "Jazz Mass" at St. Peter's.
Another highlight of the weekend is the third annual "Jazz Mass" at St. Peter R.C. Church, 620 Center St. It will take place at 4 p.m. Saturday, with music by Bobby Militello and then the Mass following at 4:30 p.m.
Lori Presti, a Jazz Festival board of directors advisory board member and long-time volunteer, said, "When I suggested to Father David LiPuma of St. Peter's Church that the addition of a 'Jazz Mass' to the Lewiston Jazz Festival was something I envisioned for a long time, I was thrilled with his enthusiastic response. He embraced the idea with open arms and ran with it.
"We had no idea what the turnout would be the first year, but it became apparent that the parishioners and visitors to St. Peter's Church were in support, as well."
For the past two years, the "Jazz Mass" has been celebrated to a standing-room-only crowd with people clapping and moving back and forth to the sounds of music resonating through the church.
The performing jazz quartet will feature saxophonist Militello and a contemporary ensemble from the St. Joseph University Parish in Buffalo, under the direction of Timothy Wells.
The popular Jazz Festival Jewelry Tent also returns to Center and Fifth streets both days.
For the complete schedule of performances, VIP ticket and sponsor information, visit www.LewistonJazz.com or call the Jazz Festival office at 716-754-9500.
The Northwest Jazz Festival, Lewiston, NY is a nonprofit event supported by community donations, corporate sponsorship, the Town and Village of Lewiston and Niagara County. Numerous Buffalo/Niagara companies, organizations, provide corporate and private support, and individuals help make the festival a free event to attend.
Official notice to Center Street businesses & residents
Street closing dates and times for The Northwest Jazz Festival, Lewiston, NY
Center Street will close at 5 am Friday, Aug. 25, from Fourth to Seventh streets.
The cross streets at Fourth and Seventh streets will remain open north and south. Center Street will re-open at about 2 a.m. Sunday.
Fifth Street will be closed at the Northwest Bank drive-thru to the KeyBank drive-thru during these same hours. Customers will retain access to the drive-in areas of both banks.
Businesses are advised to make necessary arrangements for delivery trucks during these hours, as vehicles will not be permitted onto Center Street while it is closed.
  Ortt, Jacobs, Morinello, Dutchess County executive team up for ThinkDIFFERENTLY awareness campaign Tue, 22 Aug 2017 17:30:00 -0400
In a joint effort to promote social acceptance and inclusiveness of individuals of all abilities, New York State Sen. Rob Ortt, U.S. Sen. Chris Jacobs and Assemblyman Angelo Morinello teamed up with Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro ON Friday for his ThinkDIFFERENTLY campaign.
Initiative promotes community inclusiveness & encourages individuals to think differently about those with developmental disabilities
In a joint effort to promote social acceptance and inclusiveness of individuals of all abilities, New York State Sen. Rob Ortt, U.S. Sen. Chris Jacobs and Assemblyman Angelo Morinello teamed up with Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro ON Friday for his ThinkDIFFERENTLY campaign.
Launched by Molinaro in 2015, the communitywide ThinkDIFFERENTLY initiative aims to break down barriers and support those living with autism and other developmental or intellectual disabilities. The campaign promotes community inclusiveness by encouraging elected leaders, neighborhoods, businesses and organizations to think differently about how they interact with individuals with special needs.
Ortt is the mental health and developmental disabilities Senate committee chairman. He said, "This campaign draws attention to mental health disorders and disabilities while encouraging open dialogue and eliminating stigma in communities. It challenges elected officials and community members to think differently about those who are differently abled. I'm proud to work with County Executive Molinaro and my colleagues in the legislature to help promote awareness, education and social acceptance in Western New York through the ThinkDIFFERENTLY campaign."
Friday's ThinkDIFFERENTLY event brought together people with developmental disabilities and their families, experts from provider agencies, local and state officials, and other professionals from various local agencies who specialize in services for those with special needs.
The campaign encourages collaboration between organizations and community leaders to find new ways to embrace, support and respect individuals with disabilities.
Molinaro said, "I've been thrilled by the response to our 'ThinkDIFFERENTLY' efforts over the past two years, and I appreciate the cities, towns and villages throughout our state which have accepted our call to change hearts and minds. I thank Sen. Ortt for his willingness to 'ThinkDIFFERENTLY' to ensure every individual of every ability has a community that welcomes them and supports them."
"Education is the key to growing understanding and increasing acceptance of individuals with developmental disabilities," Jacobs said. "I want to applaud County Executive Molinaro and thank him for bringing the ThinkDIFFERENTLY initiative to Western New York so we may all benefit from learning how to better embrace residents of all abilities."
Morinello said, "I am grateful to Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro for bringing this innovative initiative to Western New York. The program is more about the way we think than what we do. I urge the Western New York community to embrace the initiative and begin to ThinkDIFFERENTLY."
"Kudos to Sen. Ortt, County Executive Marc Molinaro and our other local leaders for taking the lead in this vitally important effort," said Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center President and CEO Joseph A. Ruffolo. "Day after day at Memorial's Golisano Center for Community Health, our work with people who have autism spectrum disorder and other developmental and intellectual disabilities reinforces the importance of social acceptance. They tell us, 'We don't want to be treated special. All we ask is to be included - just as anybody else would expect to be.' We endorse the 'ThinkDIFFERENTLY' initiative and encourage others to embrace it."
People Inc. Associate Vice President Mary Petrakos said, "This campaign falls in line with People Inc.'s commitment to foster independence, dignity and respect for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in an inclusive community. We're thrilled to support Sen. Ortt and County Executive Molinaro in their efforts that we believe will allow these individuals to gain a greater sense of confidence and accomplishment."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recent estimates in the U.S. show about one in six children, ages 3 through 17, have one or more developmental disability.
The ThinkDIFFERENTLY campaign is a continuation of Ortt's ongoing efforts to strengthen the state's laws and support of people with disabilities. This initiative builds on his commitment as the chairman of the Senate committee on mental health and developmental disabilities to ensure the well-being of one of the most vulnerable populations is protected.
  In Porter, Collins offers IJC update Tue, 22 Aug 2017 17:29:22 -0400
U.S. Congressman Chris Collins, shown here with Town of Porter Councilman Duffy Johnston, was the guest speaker at the Porter lake homeowners meeting.
U.S. Congressman Chris Collins, shown here with Town of Porter Councilman Duffy Johnston, was the guest speaker at the Porter lake homeowners meeting. At the well-attended gathering of 200 citizens, Collins announced he has been working with President Donald Trump on filling the vacancies on the International Joint Commission. He said he is very confident the IJC will have a member from Western New York.
Collins suggested local residents would be pleased with the selection, and said this would be a major factor in solving the lake water levels.
The congressman then fielded questions from the crowd, along with a staff member, Mike Kracker. At the end, the crowd thanked and applauded Collins for coming to Porter.
Johnston and Larry White (a lake homeowner) invited Collins to the meeting.
  AAA Western and Central New York in favor of cashless tolling Tue, 22 Aug 2017 17:28:45 -0400
AAA of Western and Central New York released this statement regarding Gov. Andrew Cuomo's announcement the New York State Thruway Authority is moving forward with the implementation of cashless tolling at the Grand Island bridges.
AAA of Western and Central New York released this statement regarding Gov. Andrew Cuomo's announcement the New York State Thruway Authority is moving forward with the implementation of cashless tolling at the Grand Island bridges.
"AAA applauds efforts by the New York State Thruway Authority to move forward with the implementation of cashless tolling at the Grand Island bridges. AAA believes that toll authorities should utilize high-speed electronic toll collection systems to minimize traffic congestion, increase safety, and speed traffic flow. Where such systems are in place, AAA believes that motorists' right to privacy should be protected.
"AAA supports traffic management strategies such as expedited passage over bridges that provide tangible commuting advantages.
"When it comes to travel and tourism, car rental companies should clearly and conspicuously disclose to customers their policies and procedures regarding the use of cashless tolling facilities and the use of electronic toll transponders. Any administrative fees or surcharges should be fair and transparent.
"Thank you to our elected officials and community leaders who supported the cashless tolling initiative in Grand Island."
As upstate New York's largest member services organization, AAA provides nearly 860,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1900, AAA has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Visit AAA at www.AAA.com.
  Holly Starr is 'Human' with Sept. 15 set Tue, 22 Aug 2017 17:21:29 -0400
Acclaimed singer/songwriter Holly Starr returns Sept. 15 with the highly anticipated "Human" (Artist Garden Entertainment), her first recording in two years. Throughout the seven-song set, Starr "explores God's faithfulness amidst the complexities of earthly relationships."
Acclaimed singer/songwriter Holly Starr returns Sept. 15 with the highly anticipated "Human" (Artist Garden Entertainment), her first recording in two years. Throughout the seven-song set, Starr "explores God's faithfulness amidst the complexities of earthly relationships."
The album's lead single, "Run The Race," a percolating anthem of empowerment produced by Bryan Fowler (TobyMac, Mandisa), has amassed more than 1 million streams on Spotify, and has been featured on the service's top Christian tracks playlist.
"From beginning to end, 'Human' feels really true to me as a songwriter," Starr said of the project, which was produced by Matthew Parker and David Thulin, as well as Fowler. "It's filled with moments from my life, and it captures the last few years in an honest way for me."
Additional highlights of the album include the synth-laden second single "Bruises," a vibrant pop track carrying encouragement for those battered by life's blows. Spotlighting family relationships throughout "Human," "Umbrella" is a love song for Starr's husband, while the ethereal "Sailing" is a tribute to her late grandmother and namesake.
Starr recorded vocals for "Sailing" on the morning of her grandmother's passing, and the album is dedicated to her. 
"I've become more and more passionate about the reality that God calls us to care for the orphans and the widows," said Starr, who helped care for her widowed grandmother in the last days of her life. 
Starr will perform selections from "Human" this fall as a special guest on Jaci Velasquez's "The Trust Tour," featuring Salvador frontman Nic Gonzales. Kicking-off Sept. 14 in Denver, the tour will hit a total of 18 western U.S. cities before wrapping Oct. 8 in Los Angeles.
Since her debut in 2008, Starr has become known for thoughtful songwriting and accessible pop melodies. A popular YouTube artist, her music videos and video blogs have collectively garnered more than 4.4 million views to date. A native of Quincy, Washington, Starr's previous Artist Garden Entertainment releases include "Tapestry" (2010), "Focus" (2012) and 2015's "Everything I Need."
For further information, visit hollystarrmusic.com or turningpointpr.com. Follow Starr on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook
  New kayak launch complete at Erie County's Ellicott Creek Park Tue, 22 Aug 2017 17:20:04 -0400
The Erie County Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry has announced the completion of a new kayak launch at Ellicott Creek Park. Located at the corner of Niagara Falls Boulevard and South Ellicott Creek Road across Ellicott Creek from the main entrance to the park, the launch is in an area that has long been a hotspot for kayak and canoe enthusiasts.
Removable launch area replaces old dirt ramp that had been used by kayak, canoe enthusiasts
The Erie County Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry has announced the completion of a new kayak launch at Ellicott Creek Park. Located at the corner of Niagara Falls Boulevard and South Ellicott Creek Road across Ellicott Creek from the main entrance to the park, the launch is in an area that has long been a hotspot for kayak and canoe enthusiasts.
"The new kayak launch is ready to go, and is in a spot that's already well-known to park users who like to take to the water to see the beauty of our parks," said Commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Forestry Daniel J. Rizzo. "It's a lot better than the dirt-launching area that had been used, and has plenty of nearby parking along with a restroom."
The launch will be removed in late fall and reinstalled in the spring each year.
For more information on the Erie County Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry, visit http://www2.erie.gov/parks/.
  Nationwide casting call underway for role of Ralphie Parker in FOX's live musical production of 'A Christmas Story' Tue, 22 Aug 2017 17:17:36 -0400
A nationwide digital casting call is underway for "Ralphie Parker," the lead character in FOX's live musical production of "A Christmas Story," airing Sunday, Dec. 17 (7 p.m. ET live/PT tape-delayed), on FOX.
3-hour live musical event to air Sunday, Dec. 17
A nationwide digital casting call is underway for "Ralphie Parker," the lead character in FOX's live musical production of "A Christmas Story," airing Sunday, Dec. 17 (7 p.m. ET live/PT tape-delayed), on FOX.
Ralphie is a bright, but not precocious, 9-year-old boy whose only dream is to get a Red Ryder Range Model Carbine Action BB Gun for Christmas.
Auditions for the role are open now through 11:59 p.m. PT Tuesday, Aug. 29. Submissions will be accepted digitally only via castittalent.com/A_Christmas_Story. Candidates, ages 9-12, should express strong singing and dancing capabilities and be able to anchor the live three-hour production. As part of the audition, candidates should submit a video performing the original songs "Red Ryder BB Gun" and "Before the Old Man."
From Warner Horizon Unscripted & Alternative Television, the live television event, inspired by the holiday classic feature "A Christmas Story" and the Tony Award-nominated Broadway production "A Christmas Story: The Musical," will be executive-produced by award-winning film, television and theater producer Marc Platt ("Grease: Live," "La La Land"). The epic adaptation will be filmed at the historic Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank.
Emmy Award nominee Maya Rudolph ("Saturday Night Live," "Bridesmaids") will star as Ralphie's mother.
Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, recent Tony Award winners for the musical "Dear Evan Hansen," and lyricists of "La La Land's" Academy Award-winning song, "City of Stars," also scored "A Christmas Story: The Musical," and will compose several new songs for the live television event, with Jonathan Tolins and Robert Cary ("Grease: Live") adapting the book.
  Erie County Poverty Summit brings partners together for communitywide discussion, action Tue, 22 Aug 2017 17:14:53 -0400
The 2017 Erie County Poverty Summit will take place this Thursday, from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. It will feature a day of presentations and panel discussions focusing on poverty and its effects on a wide range of Erie County residents, as well as ways to promote change across the community.
Thursday event at Convention Center is open to public; features presentations, panel discussions on actions to effect change
The 2017 Erie County Poverty Summit will take place this Thursday, from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. It will feature a day of presentations and panel discussions focusing on poverty and its effects on a wide range of Erie County residents, as well as ways to promote change across the community. Poverty's challenges and effects on children and families, seniors, people with disabilities and new Americans will be examined, along with supports and services necessary to help these individuals escape poverty and enjoy a better quality of life.
"Despite gains in our economy and an unemployment rate that remains low, poverty remains a persistent drain on our community that still hinders individuals from achieving their true potential, especially our children and our seniors," Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said. "The Poverty Summit will bring together a wide cross-section of community leaders to discuss ongoing challenges and explore ways to help residents overcome those challenges and lead healthy, productive lives in Erie County."
Following an invocation and the Pledge of Allegiance, the Poverty Summit will begin at 9 a.m. with opening remarks from Poloncarz, Erie County Social Services Commissioner Al Dirschberger and Chair of the Erie County Poverty Committee the Rev. Kinzer Pointer. The summit's morning sessions will include an update on Medicaid usage in Erie County to provide insights into how many county residents are in or near poverty, and an update on the Buffalo Empire State poverty reduction initiative, a collaboration between Erie County, the City of Buffalo, New York state and the United Way that is working to expand economic opportunity for Buffalo residents. The morning will also include a panel discussion focusing on the challenges experts see in helping women and children experiencing poverty; a separate panel discussion examining poverty-related challenges affecting Erie County's new Americans; and a discussion focused on the unique challenges facing the county's impoverished seniors and people with disabilities.
Sessions after lunch will center on narratives for change and will include breakout discussions on helping seniors live healthy, independent lives; helping immigrants and refugees thrive in their new community; and helping children and families escape poverty, among other topics.
RSVP to attend the Poverty Summit by calling 716-858-8679 or emailing Hannah.holden@erie.gov.