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Columns

Trust me on this: Samuel Clemens was there. The timing Tuesday at the Fredonia Opera House was simply too perfect. Beyond the grave or not, you could almost feel the bemused shade of the author and humorist we know best as Mark Twain watching intently from the back of the packed hall, where hundreds of noisy residents – asked only to refrain in those fragile seats from …

Obituaries

July 30, 1925 – Dec. 19, 2019 Paul B. McGavis, a telephone company switchman who served as president of two union locals, died Dec. 19 in his home in Dunkirk. He was 94. Born in Buffalo, he was a 1943 graduate of South Park High School. He was proud of posting the highest score in Western New York on the exam for Navy applicants during his junior year, but was turned…

Buffalo

Hispanic United of Buffalo opened a methadone clinic on Virginia Street in Buffalo five years ago amid a rapidly growing opioid crisis that was claiming hundreds of lives. It was met with criticism from neighbors and even the then-Erie County mental health commissioner who said it didn't belong in a residential neighborhood. Today, the clinic has more than doubled th…

Columns

Madylon Kubera said it was not an easy or logical thing to describe. Somehow, in all the parallels, she found her way to comfort, even at a moment that might have seemed to bring her sorrow. Saturday, she sat a row or two away from the back at Holy Trinity Church in Dunkirk, listening as Kareen Briggs Simmons eulogized an older brother, Sgt. Gerald Raeymacker. Both S…

Deaths

While a memorial service is often an interval for grief, Kareen Briggs Simmons described a dramatically opposite response in her eulogy Saturday for her older brother, U.S. Army Sgt. Gerald Raeymacker, who died in 1950 in the Korean War. The return of his remains represents “miraculous closure for our family,” Simmons told the congregation at Holy Trinity Church in Dunk…

Columns

Darlene Cooley knew it was a long shot. She went looking for a safe deposit box last month, a few weeks after learning the Army had identified the remains of a 21-year-old uncle she never knew, a sergeant killed in the Korean War amid a chaotic whirlwind of courage and horror at the Chosin Reservoir. Cooley's grandmother, Margaret Briggs, prayed for news about her son u…

Columns

Joe Smith took part in Tuesday morning’s blessing of the grapes in Chautauqua County primarily from gratitude, though he did bring along one prayer for the season. Smith and his wife, Sue Mleczko Smith, are Sheridan grape growers who showed up at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Silver Creek with a wooden box packed with Niagara and Concord grapes. They placed it on a…

Buffalo

I am a member of what my friends and I call Club 1959, meaning I turned 60 this month, one of those birthdays that leads to a just-how-fast-is-this-all-moving reflection about time. While the age itself is not that big a deal, beyond gratitude for the countless people who always came through when I  needed it, I have a growing appreciation for what my parents meant years a…

Columns

Janice Bartela immediately had her suspicions. She was walking along an all-but-deserted Cedar Beach in Dunkirk on a Friday morning, in the shadow of the shuttered hulk of the old NRG power plant, when she saw a solitary man with a shovel and a bunch of pails, digging deep into the beach. “I got irked,” said Bartela, who was there with her brother-in-law, James Watkins.…

Dunkirk

The 44-foot tall steeple now sitting high atop the historic house of worship in Fredonia is a sign to all that the church that helped define this village streetscape for generations is back – and better than ever. Family Church Fredonia, ravaged by fire a year ago, marked a turning point in its rebuilding efforts last week when crews used a crane and two cherry pickers …

Amherst

I.M. Pei, the globally important architect, died last week. Around the world, architectural historians spoke with reverence of his work, such as his glass pyramid at the Louvre, the East Building at the National Gallery or, closer to home, the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse. My reaction was more primal. Fifty years ago, I was a kid in Dunkirk, living on the same stre…

Columns

Less than a week ago, in an emotional ceremony at the French Embassy in Washington, D.C., Mayor Willie Rosas of Dunkirk helped formally renew a dormant relationship with Dunkerque, France, which once had strong ties to its American namesake. Tuesday, Rosas found himself preparing a letter of condolence to his counterpart, Dunkerque Mayor Patrice Vergriete, after a fire …

Columns

My wife and I met almost 40 years ago. She was from greater Rochester. I was living in Dunkirk, in a house my parents rented. We both attended SUNY Fredonia State, at a time when it was not so typical for students who lived on campus to date students who lived nearby, a nice way of describing a classic college town divide. There was a natural gap between the kids in the…

Three Dunkirk residents were taken into custody about 8 p.m. Friday after Dunkirk Police and members of the Southern Tier Regional Drug Task Force executed a search warrant and arrest warrants at an address on East Second Street in Dunkirk, the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office reported. Held pending arraignment on charges of third-degree criminal sale and criminal pos…