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Niagara Honor Roll / Recognizing the accomplishments of Western New Yorkers

Two local residents have enlisted in the Air Force Delayed Entry Program at San Antonio, Texas, according to Staff Sgt. Orion LaMontagne from the Tonawanda recruiting office.

Essence M. Owens, daughter of Fred Owens and Lisa A. Hamilton of Niagara Falls, is a 2013 graduate of Niagara Falls High School. Upon graduation from the Air Force’s basic training course, she is scheduled to receive technical training in the cyber systems operations apprentice area.

Jaron C. Vaillancourt of Sanborn, a 2012 graduate of Niagara Wheatfield High School, is scheduled to receive technical training in the munitions systems apprentice area.

Both will be earning credits toward an associate degree in applied sciences through the Community College of the Air Force while attending basic and technical training schools.


John R. Durno, a health care administrator with more than 25 years of experience, has been appointed administrator of the Schoellkopf Health Center. A graduate of the University at Buffalo, where he earned a master of science degree, Durno has served as administrator at several skilled nursing facilities, including St. Luke Manor, Batavia; St. Clare Manor, Lockport; Father Baker Manor, Orchard Park; and Weinberg Campus, Getzville.


Brian Hall, business teacher and girls tennis coach at Niagara Catholic Junior/Senior High School, received the “Coach of the Year” award at the recent Kiwanis Club of Niagara Falls’ 28th annual High School Sports Appreciation Luncheon. Hall was nominated by Larry Puzan, the school’s athletic director.


Katie Burke Britt and Lauren Elizabeth Wager of Lockport High School; Elizabeth Ann Koplas and Sarah Ann Jastrzab of Starpoint High School; and Jacob Christian Dittenhauser of Canisius High School have been selected this year to receive Rotary Club of Lockport college scholarships. Scholars were honored at the club’s luncheon meeting earlier this month at Lockport Town and Country Club.

Koplas, the daughter of David and Ann Koplas of North Tonawanda, will receive the Rotary’s Arthur H. Showalter Memorial Academic Scholarship of $2,000 per year for four years for her studies in chemistry and chemical engineering at Brown University in Providence, R.I.

Dittenhauser, the son of Eric and Mary Dittenhauser of Lockport, will receive an academic scholarship of $2,000 per year for three years for his studies in computer engineering at Rochester Institute of Technology.

Britt will receive an academic scholarship of $2,000 per year for two years for her studies in aerospace engineering at the Air Force Academy in Colorado.

Wager, the daughter of Kevin and Margaret Wager of Lockport, will receive a $2,000 academic scholarship to study physics/premedicine at the University at Buffalo.

Jastrzab, the daughter of John and Mary Jastrzab of North Tonawanda, will receive a Rotary Club of Lockport Vocational Scholarship of $2,000 for her studies in computer science at Alfred State College.

In addition to Arthur H. Showalter, Rotary scholarships are presented in memory of Summer G. Evans, Eleanor Depeau, Samuel Selzer, Howard Lehmann and Donald O. Nixon, former Lockport Rotarians who were dedicated to youth and education.

Lockport Rotary Scholarships are awarded to graduating students living in the Lockport, Newfane or Starpoint school districts and attending the district high school or a regional private or parochial high school. Selection is based on scholastic achievement, character, leadership in school, extracurricular and community activities, and poise and presence in an interview with the scholarship committee.


Maid of the Mist has received a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence award in honor of hospitality excellence. The award is given only to attractions that consistently achieve outstanding traveler reviews on TripAdvisor, and is extended to qualifying businesses worldwide. Only the top-performing 10 percent of businesses listed on TripAdvisor receive this award.