By David Yarger
The following is a sampling of some events that occured in the Town of Wheatfield, Town of Niagara and City of North Tonawanda in 2018:
MacSwan era begins in Wheatfield
Right on the first day of 2018, the Town of Wheatfield adjusted to a change of guard, as Supervisor Don MacSwan was sworn in to replace the recently retired Bob Cliffe. MacSwan as well as new Councilman Curt Doktor were both sworn in to their positions to open the year. The two are close to wrapping up year one of their two-year term.
NT dedicates Hope Way
Early on in January, North Tonawanda elected officials as well as local leaders dedicated the section of Vandervoort Street, from Keil Street to Robinson Street, as Hope Way. The dedication was held at the Lumber City Church, 383 Vandervoort St. The press conference also heard remarks from several individuals who planned community initiatives around NT for 2018.
Bergholz Fire Co. celebrates 100
The Bergholz Volunteer Fire Co. celebrated its 100th anniversary this year. The firehall hosted several events to celebrate, but none matched the extravagant return of Field Days. The two-day festivital brought in Nerds Gone Wild and 90 West to play under the tent. There were also food trucks and refreshment sales to go along with the entertainment. Additionally, on day two, Bergholz Fire Co. entertained all with a large Firemen’s Parade, which took the same route of the company’s first-ever parade. All in all, the two-day affair brought out a large attendance to the firehall on Niagara Road, and it provided nothing but fun and entertainment for those who showed up.
Thunder of Niagara Air Show flies into town
For a few days in June, if you’re from Niagara County, it’s very likely you heard the loud roar of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, as the Thunder of the Niagara Airshow flew back into town this year. The two-day airshow, with a couple days of practice before the weekend, garnered capacity audiences and entertainment, which included the Thunderbirds, the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, C-17 Globemaster, parachute jumpers and much, much more. Air Show representatives said, following the show, that the Thunder of Niagara went above and beyond in 2018. (Photo by Kevin and Dawn Cobello, K&D Action Photo and Aerial Imaging)
Community garden developed in NT
Early in May, a community garden was installed on Sommer Street in North Tonawanda. The new community garden will give those in need in the neighborhood a source to acquire nutritious vegetables for their families. The garden will also provide around $3,000 worth of vegetables to local soup kitchens and food pantries. The location of the garden was also selected because most council members and others involved felt it was an area that needed it the most.
‘Music Mania Mondays’ rocks on
The “Music Mania Mondays” concert series at Veterans Memorial Community Park in the Town of Niagara had one of, if not, its best season in 2018. Town of Niagara Supervisor Lee Wallace announced the concert series’ attendance increased around 30 percent. Each Monday from June 11 to Aug. 20, residents and natives from all over Western New York stormed to the park to hear what the series had to offer. Each week, local businesses and non-profit organizations would significantly benefit from the entertainment, as well. (Photo by Marc Carpenter)
NCCC, NCSO announce partnership
In late August, Niagara County Community College and the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office signed a partnership contract to provide a NCSO deputy on campus during the morning and afternoon. The agreement was a step in the right direction to help provide a safer campus environment, as well as providing a resource to students attending NCCC.
Thunder on the Niagara floats through
Once again, hydroplanes shook the Niagara River for a 13th year alongside Gratwick Park in North Tonawanda. Boat teams came from all over the United States and Canada to entertain viewers not only at Gratwick, but everyone who viewed from boats in the river and on the shores of Grand Island. The event, known as "the fastest show on water," featured over 70 race boat teams and hydroplanes, which glided along the river at approximately 170 miles per hour.
Last stores of Summit Mall close
The Summit Park Mall saw its last hoorah, as Sears and The Bon Ton closed their doors for good at the Williams Road complex late this summer. Projects are still in discussion at the site, but heading into 2019 the place deemed “More than a mall,” currently stands vacant.
Sawma named Peach Queen
Another year, another Niagara-Wheatfield High School grad as Niagara County Peach Queen. This year, Santana Sawma, a senior at Niagara University and Wheatfield resident, was crowned the 2018 Peach Queen at this year’s Niagara County Peach Festival. (Photo by Wayne Peters)
Ribbon cut to Children’s Memorial Walkway
In early November, North Tonawanda Mayor Arthur Pappas cut the ribbon to the new Children’s Memorial Walkway right outside of Town Hall. The Children's Memorial Garden will be a place of somber reflection displaying the names of the children of the city who have passed. Completion of the memorial is expected within the next year.
DeGraff unveils new ER department
Just over a year after breaking ground on a brand-new emergency department, DeGraff Memorial Hospital cut the ribbon to its $7.8 million ER facility. The expansion includes 17 treatment bays, including a dedicated bariatric room and an airborne isolation room. It also includes a decontamination area suitable for current and emerging infectious diseases. To further accommodate geriatric patients, DeGraff will use non glare lighting, slip-proof flooring, increased family space, and signage with oversized lettering. To help improve the patient experience, the emergency department has relocated from the west side of the hospital campus to the east side - fronting the Twin City Highway and allowing for better access, parking and visibility for patients, families and visitors.
Noel at Niagara improves in year 2
It was successful in year one, and in year two, it proved to be bigger and better. Noel at Niagara, the popular holiday light display inside of Veterans Memorial Community Park in the Town of Niagara, went above and beyond in its encore glowing. The holiday display was lit throughout the park during a festive ceremony on Black Friday, which included Christmas music, hot chocolate and a fireworks display. New this year, the town purchased light standards from the United Way, which helped expand what was already a significant holiday light show. (Photo by Marc Carpenter)