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>Many to thank for benefit's success

The Youngstown Volunteer Fire Company sponsored a benefit on June 10 called "Music and Miracles 4 Mike," to help with medical costs for Youngstown resident Mike Smith. Mike, 39, is fighting diabetes and needs a kidney and pancreas transplant.

We had a successful event due to the help of: Beau Designs; Modern Corp.; Certo Bros.; Tim Hortons; Crossfire; Water Street Quartet; Ken from the Brickyard Pub; the Village of Youngstown and its police department; Ransomville Volunteer Fire Company; our benefit committee; and the numerous volunteers we had that day to help.

We also thank the 219 businesses that made donations to the basket raffle. We had numerous large items donated for a silent auction, including a Ryan Miller jersey, which sold for $500.

We had over 600 attend our benefit and would like to thank the community for its support. Mike and his family were just amazed by the turnout and the support that everyone has shown.
Mike's goal was to make people aware that they can donate organs and save someone else's life and Upstate New York Transplant Service helped by offering information at a booth at the benefit.

We may be a small community, but we have big hearts. Donations may still be sent to: the Mike Smith Benefit, C/O First Niagara Bank, 500 Center St., Lewiston, NY 14092.

Again, we thank you for your support.

Mike Smith and benefit chairwoman Wendy F. Shaw



>Mayor has done little to spur development

The City of Niagara Falls should be a city that prospers. We have a built-in attraction that brings people here by the millions. These people all have disposable dollars that they would love to infuse into our struggling economy. Unfortunately, their options are limited.

I recently took a drive down to the falls on a beautiful weekend evening. The first thing to catch my eye was the beautiful skyline across the border. How inviting and alive it seemed. As I looked around me on our side, I saw the big balloon, several parking lots, a couple of places to eat, and a few souvenir shops. I was so disheartened.

This city should be ripe with development, but it is not. In the last three and a half years, under the current administration, there has been no development at all. Why do developers stay away from us like the plague? Is it the dysfunction in City Hall? Is it the mayor's style of governance?

If you ask the mayor, he will be more than happy to tell you that it is everyone else's fault. Every article I read, any City Council meeting that I attend, he is more than willing to tell anyone who will listen that it's not his fault. It seems that it's always everyone else's.

In the first year of his administration, the new Democratic majority on the Council voted with the mayor on most of his proposals, including some of his job creations for his "friends & family," without ever questioning them. That was their fault for trying to be unified. Thankfully, the Council began to look into the proposals they were being presented and started to question them.

The mayor likes to place the blame on others because he is good at it. The FBI's investigation into him -- not his fault. The lawsuits against the city because of poor management by his appointees -- again, not his fault. The dysfunction in City Hall -- certainly not his fault.

If he gets re-elected this year, then he will be right about one thing, it will be the residents of the City of Niagara Falls that are to blame. It won't be his fault.

Jean Russo

Niagara Falls


>Tourism board doing good for the city

The Niagara Falls Tourism Advisory Board was re-established in 2006. The Tourism Advisory Board is made up of 12 volunteers, with Councilmen Lewis Rotella and Sam Fruscione serving as ex-officios overseeing the biweekly meetings.

The purpose of the board is to bring back events and concerts to Niagara Falls USA. Also, the Tourism Board advises the City Council on issues regarding tourism and policy in Niagara Falls. They have addressed the issues of good and bad signage and, as a result, signs have been removed from the streetscape and opportunities for business signs have increased.

The board has had some success. In 2006, it published a brochure promoting the assets of Hyde Park and established the Ontario House Annual Jazz Reunion. For 2007, the board, along with Pat Kuciewski, started two new events: "Friday at the Falls" and "Sunday at the NACC."

Both events will feature local music from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday at Third and Niagara streets, and Sunday on the steps of the NACC. Furthermore, the board published an events brochure featuring all city-sponsored events for 2007.

The all-volunteer Tourism Advisory Board replaced the former events coordinator and, as a result, the board has been able to produce more shows and events than ever before in the City of Niagara Falls. The money used for the events comes from the bed tax that the tourists pay whenever they stay in a local hotel. This money is not being used for employee salaries as it has been in the past.

Thanks to the vision of the all-volunteer advisory board, things are being accomplished for the good of the community.

Sam Fruscione

Niagara Falls

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