Category: Feature Stories

Feature stories about different people, places and things

Roll Over Beethoven-It’s JoAnn Falletta Day in Buffalo

  Today is *Officially* JoAnn Falletta Day in Buffalo!

JoAnn Falletta is our Maestro and music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. Maestro Falletta is celebrating her 20 year anniversary with the Philharmonic this year, and I was lucky enough to get to chat her up this week!

First though, picture beautiful classical harp in the background as someone was practicing across the hall the whole time we chatted.

The first question I had was: How did it all start?  When did you know you wanted to be a Conductor and not a musician?

It all stared with JoAnn when her Dad gave her his favorite instrument, a little classical guitar with nylon strings on her 7th birthday and he arranged for classical guitar lessons the next day.  The guitar led to other things like wanting to hear concerts, buy records and hear other people play.

“I guess I was a classical musician before I even knew what classical music was”

“I was just knocked out by the orchestra”

“I never distinguished classical from popular music, it was just music”

“There was something about the conductor enabling these people to do something beautiful, getting them together, being a kind of catalyst that must have appealed to me”

When she was 11 it was Leopold Stokowski conducting Beethoven’s 6th Symphony at Carnegie Hall that really got her attention. Continue reading “Roll Over Beethoven-It’s JoAnn Falletta Day in Buffalo”


Our Internet is as Slow as a Snail Here.

Yup. many neighbors have some of the slowest speeds around, or none.  This is completely unacceptable in 2019.  Since it’s an election year, I sent out questions to the folks running for Erie County Executive to see what they had to say about it.  It is troubling that my neighbors ONE house down can’t even enjoy Netfilx!  It was a bit of a struggle, but I got answers from BOTH candidates.

Slow to no internet in and around Newstead has been a burden to residents and has been hampering growth for years.  The whole world is digital now from where we order stuff, to ride haling services, prescription refills, and everything else you can think of.  Fast internet is also needed for the schoolkids. We are now going into 2020 and there are neighbors of mine (the next house down as a matter of fact) that can only access internet through ridiculously expensive (and slow) satillight, DSL (might as well be dial up), and some other slow service.  If you are lucky enough to have Spectrum, they have spotty service, and now they are raising prices again because they have a monopoly and they can.

County Executive Mark Poloncarz has proposed “Erienet” which would be run by the county to get fast internet to us in agriculture areas.  He talked about it back in March(?), but hasn’t said much since.

Since the election is coming up, and I have people complaining about this to me daily, I decided to write to both candidates for County Executive regarding this issue.  I asked them both about their plans to address our internet desert.  I heard back from both of their campaigns, and here are their responses for you:

LynneDixon  Lynne Dixon

The region is falling behind in terms of its digital network, it’s hurting residents and it is hurting our efforts to bring in new businesses to help boost our lagging local economy. A recent report said Erie County/Buffalo trails even Rochester and Syracuse in our average download speed. Only a few areas have high-speed fiber in Erie County, and everyone else is being left behind. We need to work to close the digital divide. In August, NYS allocated $16.1 million to expand broadband internet in rural communities, this includes 26 locations in Erie County. This is a start, we need to continue to work at it. Everyone deserves reliable and quick internet access. Erie County is pursing a plan on our level to help address the gap, but we haven’t received many details on this from the Poloncarz administration since it was first mentioned by the County Executive in March. I think the Legislature, especially Legislators that represent rural communities, are very intrigued by this proposal and we have called on the Erie County Legislature majority to hold meetings and hearings on this, that letter was sent April 9th, so far they have refused. I am hopeful they adhere to our request so we can begin moving this forward.
Here is a copy of the letter:  dixons letter    

MarkPoloncarz Mark Poloncarz

Thanks for your email. ErieNet is full steam ahead! Just yesterday in the 2020 budget presentation we announced $250,000 in funding for the initial design and business planning of ErieNet. This funding will enable the Department of Environment and Planning to hire a specialized IT contractor to begin the key preparatory work needed to start construction on ErieNet.

Since announcing the ErieNet proposal at the 2019 State of the County address, an internal Erie County team of attorneys, IT experts and planners has been working to develop the specific legal structure of ErieNet which is a critical first piece of the plan. Next year’s planning phase is the next step.
For a direct customer like yourself, the ErieNet team is working to solicit “last-mile” providers who would tie into the ErieNet Open Access Network (OAN). Think of ErieNet as the highway, and the last mile providers as the streets and alleys. There are a number of smaller regional internet service providers, (ISPs) in New York State who specialize in providing fiber internet service to underserved areas and they have expressed interest in our OAN model.

DEC Announces Forestry Grants #FREEMONEY

There is SO MUCH free money out there!  We can accomplish a LOT without raising taxes.

They are accepting applications NOW -JAP-

From our friends at the DEC:

Urban and Community Forestry Grants

We are now accepting applications for Round 15. Applications are due Wednesday, December 4, 2019 at 2:00 PM.

DEC’s Urban and Community Forestry Program will host a webinar on Thursday, October 10 at 10 a.m. to educate potential applicants on the grants process and answer questions. Application instructions and information about the October 10 webinar are available on the Grants Gateway website.

Grant Goal and Overview

The purpose of this grant is to improve the health of urban and community forests and to increase the sustainability of forestry programs.

This reimbursement grant program focuses on partnerships, volunteers, community groups, professionals and outreach and education because these are components of strong and sustainable community forestry programs. Eligible project categories include tree inventories, management plans, tree planting, maintenance, and education programming for those who care for community trees. Some categories require a 25%. Grant funds are available from the NYS Environmental Protection Fund and are managed and allocated by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Grant proposals are evaluated for cost effectiveness, projected benefits, use of recommended standards in implementation, community outreach and education, local support, and regional impact. Appropriate consideration is given to under-served neighborhoods, as well as environmental issues that could be addressed with green solutions. DEC foresters can provide technical assistance to applicants and assist with tree lists for planting grants.

Kids planting a tree

Eligible Applicants and Projects

For the complete eligibility requirements, project descriptions, timeframe and scoring information please read the Request For Applications (PDF). Following the instructions in this document is essential in submitting a successful application.

Eligible Applicants

For the purposes of this grant program the following entities are considered eligible applicants:

  1. New York municipalities and quasi-governmental entities including: counties, cities, towns, villages, public benefit corporations, public authorities, municipal corporations, soil and water conservation districts, community colleges, and Indian nations or tribes recognized by the State or the United States with a reservation wholly or partly within the boundaries of New York State, or any combination thereof.
  2. Not-For-Profit Corporations (NFPs): an organization that is subject to New York State’s NFP Corporation Law and is qualified for tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Federal Internal Revenue Code. An eligible applicant must be a community-based NFP corporation, or a community-based organization may partner with an NFP that will serve as their fiscal sponsor. Eligible NFPs must complete an applicant prequalification process in Grants Gateway. For more information on NFP pre-qualification visit Grants Gateway’s Grantee documents (leaves DEC website).

Not Eligible: Academic institutions and foundations supporting the maintenance of academic campuses are not eligible applicants in this round of grant funding, except as allowed under the above definition of “municipalities and quasi-governmental entities. Individuals and unincorporated groups may not apply, but an eligible not-for-profit organization, known as a fiscal sponsor, may apply on behalf of an individual or unincorporated group.


Projects must be implemented on non-state-owned properties (municipal public property, i.e. street and park trees), privately owned parkland and open to the public (e.g. cemeteries) or alongside a state-owned roadway in a city, town, or village in a location where they provide a public benefit. Projects may be implemented further from a public roadway if within 10 feet either side of a paved or maintained multiple use trail. These guidelines apply to most grant opportunities; tree inventory, management plans, tree maintenance and tree planting.

UCF projects must be one of the following five project types. Each project type has different program objectives and requirements.

  1. Tree Inventory
  2. Community Forest Management Plan
  3. Tree Planting
  4. Tree Maintenance
  5. Education Programming for those who care for public trees (NFPs and quasi-governmental entities only)

Process Overview

All applications must be filed through Grants Gateway (leaves DEC website); paper applications are not accepted. NFPs must submit pre-qualification documents and be pre-qualified before the application due date. The State reserves 5 business days to review submitted prequalification applications. All applicants are strongly encouraged to submit their applications well in advance of the application deadline. Late applications will not be not accepted.

Please visit the New York State Grants Management website (leaves DEC website) for more information about Grants Gateway and prequalification, or contact Grants Management via email. The Grants Management help desk/hotline can be reached at (518) 474-5595.

A question and answer period is open until October 31. All questions and their answers from this period are uploaded into Grants Gateway and posted on this web page for all applicants to view.

All eligible applications submitted by the due date will be reviewed and scored by members of a DEC review team in accordance the scoring criteria described in the RFA. Scores are averaged across multiple reviews in several tiers, resulting in a final average score for the application. A final score that is 75% or greater of total points is required to be considered awardable.

Grantees are notified of awards by email and in an official DEC award letter. Applicants selected to receive a grant award are required to executive a State of New York Master Contract for Grants within 60-90 days from time of award notification. For complete details see the RFA.

How to Apply

Please read and review the RFA for Round 15 (PDF). The PowerPoint presentation (PDF) given at grant information sessions across the state in August and September is available for anyone who was not able to attend.

All applications must be filed through Grants Gateway (leaves DEC website); paper applications are not accepted. Visit the Grants Gateway login page (leaves DEC website) to create a new account or update your account. Review your account annually to ensure the information is up to date and documents are not expired. Pre-qualification materials for NFPs may be completed before the UCF grants open. Grants gateway provides training materials for those not familiar with the system, including the comprehensive Vendor User Manual (leaves DEC website)

Region 9: Erie, Niagara, Wyoming, Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua