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Niagara Honor Roll / Achievers and achievements

Longtime Niagara County Legislator Dennis Virtuoso will be given the Columbian Award next month when the Cristoforo Colombo Society holds its annual Columbian Award Dinner and Dance.

The dinner is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Oct. 13 in the society's Banquet Hall, 2223 Pine Ave.

Virtuoso, director of code enforcement for the City of Niagara Falls, is also serving his 20th year as a member of the Legislature.

Also to be honored are Janet Ligammari, director of Hospice Clinical Services in Lockport, and Ron Cirrito, a Niagara Falls Police Department patrol officer who also served in Iraq. They will recive honorary Columbian Awards.

Tickets are $40 per person. Anyone interested in purchasing tickets may call Ernie Lucantonio, president, at 523-0486 before Oct. 8.


Three Air Force Reserve Airmen from Niagara County have graduated from basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio.

Dominique R. Cortez, Joelle L. Hughes and Andrew R. Krause each completed an eight-week program.

Airmen who complete basic training earn four credits toward an associate in applied science degree through the Community College of the Air Force.

Krause is a 2011 graduate of Lewiston-Porter High School.

Cortez is 2005 graduate of Niagara Falls High School.

Hughes is a 2011 graduate of Niagara Wheatfield Senior High School.


Anu and Komal Chandan, Russell Hurlburt and John Percy have been named co-chairmen of The 2013 Premier, Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center's annual black- tie dinner and entertainment gala.

Chandan, who specializes in family practice and adult medicine, has practiced medicine in Niagara Falls for more than 30 years. Hurlburt is owner of Viva Salon in Orchard Park. Percy is president and chief executive officer of the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp.

The Premier will honor Dr. Michael Cropp, president and CEO of Independent Health, and Memorial Medical Center and Schoellkopf Health Center nurses for their dedication and commitment to health care and to their patients.

The Premier is scheduled for Jan. 19 in the Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel, 310 Fourth St., Niagara Falls. Individual tickets for the event will be $225. For information and sponsorship opportunities, call 278-4570 or visit


Niagara University professor Kalen Churcher was chosen to participate in two summer conferences meant to highlight the achievements of the profession's brightest young minds.

Over the summer, she received a Promising Professor Award (second place) from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, and was selected for the Scripps Howard Academic Leadership Academy by Louisiana State University's Manship School of Mass Communication.

She was recommended for both prestigious awards by Nancy McGlen, dean of Niagara's College of Arts and Sciences.

"Kalen is an outstanding instructor who knows when to guide and when to challenge her students to do their very best," said McGlen. "She is also involved in a number of clubs and programs outside of the classroom that make us very proud to call her one of our own."

The Promising Professor Award is a national honor given to young faculty and graduate students who demonstrate excellence and innovation in teaching.
Churcher received the award during AEJMC's national conference in August in Chicago, where she also presented as a member of the Promising Professors and Distinguished Educator Panel.

A couple months earlier, Churcher participated in the 2012 Scripps Howard Academic Leadership Academy, which took place in June on LSU's campus in Baton Rouge. The academy brings up-and-coming mass communication professionals and scholars together with seasoned administrators to share administrative strategies and insights.

Churcher is a native of Plymouth, Pa. She holds a bachelor's degree in communication from Wilkes University, a master's degree in human resources from the University of Scranton, and a Ph.D. in mass communication from Pennsylvania State University.


An $8,000 grant from the National Park Foundation to the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor through the "Ticket to Ride" program will enable 1,472 students from 27 schools in eight school districts across the state to participate in educational field trips along the Erie Canal this fall.

The program provides financial resources for transportation and on-site educational programming that make field trips to national parks and heritage areas possible for schools across the country.

In Lockport, 575 fourth-graders from the Niagara Falls Central School District will tour the Historic Flight of Five Locks and visit the Erie Canal Discovery Center, a partner site run with the National Heritage Corridor.


Niagara University is one of 10 Catholic colleges and universities in the state – and 96 nationwide – to be selected to the 2012-13 list of top colleges by Colleges of Distinction.

Published annually, the Colleges of Distinction guide features institutions that have demonstrated excellence in four integral areas: engaged students, great teaching, vibrant campus communities and successful graduate outcomes.

"It is an honor to represent Catholic colleges and universities in this publication, and to see our holistic approach to education recognized by Colleges of Distinction," said the Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M., president of Niagara University. "I wish to commend our faculty, staff and administration for providing an excellent hands-on learning environment and promoting excellence as a Catholic and Vincentian university in the world of today."


The Cultural Alliance of Niagara, the arts and culture advocacy coalition serving Niagara County, has announced the election of officers.

The following were elected: Kate Koperski, director of the Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University, president; Gay Molnar, director of development, Aquarium of Niagara, vice president; Susan Clements, coordinator of community relations for the Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University, treasurer; and Irene Rykaszewski, executive director, Lewiston Council on the Arts, secretary.

The Cultural Alliance of Niagara was formed in the early 1980s as a partnership among the arts, cultural and heritage organizations of Niagara County in a combined effort to strengthen awareness of Niagara's destinations and to secure funding and support.