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DICKINSON WILL GET HISTORIAN POST, LEGISLATOR SAYS

David L. Dickinson of Newfane will be appointed Niagara County historian, Legislator James W. Ward said this week.

The appointment is expected to become official at Tuesday's reorganizational meeting of the Legislature.

This year's budget includes a salary of $33,455 for the position.

Dickinson will succeed H. William Feder of Niagara Falls, whose last day in the office was Wednesday.

Dickinson didn't want to be presumptuous about the job.

"I don't want to count my chickens before they're hatched," he said. "From my point of view, it's conjecture until there's a vote."

Ward, R-Newfane, was not so reticent. "He will be the name we move forward," Ward said. "He's well qualified. . . . He's proven himself with his track record."

Dickinson, 52, holds a bachelor's degree in history from St. Lawrence University and a master's degree in history from Binghamton University. He taught history and sociology at Canton State College of Technology, a two-year school, for three years and served as a mentor in history at Empire State College for about eight years.

Dickinson was the founding president of the Niagara County Genealogical Society in 1979. He is a member of that group, and of the Town of Newfane and Niagara County historical societies. He once served on the Newfane society's board.

He was active in the apparently successful effort to save murals on the walls of the former Officers' Club at Old Fort Niagara from being destroyed during proposed commercial development of the building.

Some of the murals were created by artists, such as the German painter Ernst Wille, who later became locally or internationally prominent.

"Professor Wille spoke out that none of those good things would have happened without a man like (Dickinson) pushing the envelope," Ward said.

Dickinson is now a rural labor services representative for the state Labor Department in Lockport.

He was one of three candidates who applied for the interim historian position last spring, after historian Dorothy Rolling went on sick leave and eventually retired.

Feder was selected in June.

"At no time did I say I wanted the position on a full-time basis," Feder said. "I'm only here three days a week."

Feder, a former Republican county legislator, retired in 1994 after 33 years as a history teacher at LaSalle High School.

He said he has lined up a variety of private-sector opportunities, including a part-time educational position with the Washington, D.C.-based C-SPAN cable television network.

In addition, "I'll be doing some consulting work, working for a couple of firms and trying to get some things published," Feder said.

Ward, chairman of the Legislature's Administration Committee, said the historian's office will come under the supervision of that committee during the next two years. In the last legislative term, it was overseen by the Senior and Youth Services Committee.