2013: An eventful year in the River Regionby jmaloni
by Terry Duffy
You can say one thing: The year 2013 certainly wasn't a dull, uneventful one for northern Niagara.
It was a year that saw area residents speaking their minds; of changes and transitions; new proposals, attractions and ideas; of continued frustrations and more. We enjoyed culture, experienced history, partook in numerous festivals, attended some great concerts and theater, sampled new attractions and enjoyed those familiar ones.
What follows is a pictorial synopsis of some of the prominent news of 2013 as it was.
•The Lewiston Civic Center. Lewiston residents, following state funding approvals allowing for construction of a new town recreational and civic center complex to be built on the Lewiston-Porter School campus, spoke their minds at the voting booth and defeated a referendum killing the estimated $9 million project and sending supporters back to the drawing board.
•A new supervisor for Lewiston. Following a whirlwind period of months, Steve Reiter, long-time familiar and popular figure in the town, beset with investigations and health issues, opted to call it quits as supervisor this past fall. Democrat Dennis Brochey, long-time Center Street businessman and relative political newcomer on the Village Board of Trustees, pulled off a surprise victory for Lewiston supervisor over challenger Ernie Palmer, sweeping the village and taking 10 of 14 districts in the town. He was sworn into office this week.
•A decision nears. 2013 saw growing apprehension as the community, local officials and area environmental interests await a state decision on the future of CWM Chemical Services, which has a years-old application on file with the state Department of Environmental Conservation for future operations and expansion. In the photo Tim Henderson of Residents for Responsible Government wages a campaign at a Lew-Port rally against the hazardous waste land filler. Other major news saw funding approved in Lewiston and on the county level for funding an environmental attorney enlisted to wage an expected legal battle against the company.
•New jetboat operation in Youngstown. Lewiston businessman Mike Fox unveiled plans for Niagara Jet Adventures, a new jetboat attraction for the lower Niagara gorge rapids. Last spring, Fox joined by his new partners, Behnenkamp's Whitewater Customs of Meridian, Idaho, surprised many with a daring test run up the Niagara gorge from Youngstown to the base of the Horseshoe Falls in Niagara Falls, Ontario. His recently launched jetboat is currently undergoing trials en route to its inaugural season in 2014.
•Last year for the Level. Following a memorable 40-years, the legendary Youngstown Yacht Club Level Regatta had its final run on the Lake Ontario waters last summer. Beset with a number of issues, from Customs and Homeland Security issues to changing demographics and reduced participants, YYC organizers are planning for a new future of the Level under a redesigned format.
•Artpark at 40. 2013 was a year of celebration, great, concerts, theater, family and cultural offerings and more as Lewiston's favorite cultural mecca - Artpark - marked 40 years of operation on the lower Niagara gorge.
•Festivals, festivals, festivals. Lewiston continues to have its trademark on good times with its splendid array of festivals. From Smelt to Cocktails, Garden to Art, Peaches to Jazz, Scarecrows to Christmas, you name an interest, and it seems Lewiston has a festival for it. In the photos, scenes from the Lewiston Art Festival and the Niagara County Peach Festival.
•Experiencing history. Residents and visitors to the Lewiston and Youngstown communities were the witnesses to a host of impressive historical re-creation programs thought the year, including such memorable War of 1812 bicentennial events as the British attack on Youngstown, "Flames Through Lewiston" and the dedication of the Tuscarora Heroes Monument, among others.
•Something new. Picking up on the successes of the area's many festivals and outdoor attractions, plans were announced late last fall for yet another new venture - the Great Contraption Race to benefit the It Happened to Alex Foundation.