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Providing Service Since 1985

Jerlando's has a new historic marker

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, June 13, 2024 -- Gary Emerson, Schuyler County historian and a member of the Schuyler County Historical Society Board of Trustees, unveiled an historic marker Thursday honoring the Freer Opera House, known today as the Jerlando’s Ristorante building.

The three-story structure on the southeast corner of Franklin and Fourth streets in Watkins Glen was built by George Freer in 1860. Over the decades, upper floors hosted many different events, including conventions with notable speakers such as Susan B. Anthony, dances, oratories, graduations, basketball games, plays and endurance walking competitions. The first floor has been the site of retail businesses and restaurants.

The historic marker is attached to the building on the Fourth Street wall. The marker was provided by the William C. Pomeroy Foundation.

Photo in text: County Historian Gary Emerson and Watkins Glen Village Trustee Margaret Schimizzi next to the newly unveiled marker. (Photo provided)

31st annual Waterfront Fest set for June 15

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, May 28, 2024 -- The 31st Annual Waterfront Festival & Cardboard Boat Regatta is set to take place on Saturday, June 15 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Seneca Harbor Park in Watkins Glen.

The event marks the official kick-off to summer and promises a day full of family-friendly activities, live entertainment, and the popular Cardboard Boat Regatta.

Visitors can enjoy a variety of food, craft, and nonprofit vendors during the entire length of the event. From 12 noon to 4 p.m., attendees can participate in free family activities such as face painting, balloon creations, and interactive games. The musical highlight of the festival will be a live performance by 5 Man Trio from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The main attraction, the Cardboard Boat Regatta, will commence at 2:00 p.m. Participants will race their personally crafted cardboard boats, held together by nothing but duct tape and glue, through the waters of Seneca Harbor. Before the Regatta begins, attendees can visit the Concourse de Cardboard to see all the boats lined up and vote for their favorites.

"This event has been a cherished tradition for 31 years, bringing together our community to celebrate the start of summer," said Laurie DeNardo, Chair of the Waterfront Festival Committee and Mayor of Watkins Glen. "We're thrilled to have the support of local volunteers, local businesses by way of sponsorships, the Tourism Assistance Program, and a generous grant from Erie Canal Pathways to make this year's festival better than ever."

It’s not too late to join the fun and enter the Cardboard Boat Regatta. Applications and rules are available at watkinsglen.com.

For the latest updates, follow "2024 Waterfront Festival & Cardboard Boat Regatta" on Facebook, or visit watkinsglen.com.

Photo in text: A scene from a previous Cardboard Boat Regatta. (Provided)

Members of the Addison High School Knights Band march up Main Street in Montour.

Parade highlights final day of Fire Dept. Fest

MONTOUR FALLS, June 8, 2024 -- The annual Montour Falls Fire Department Parade went off smoothly under mostly sunny skies Saturday on Main Street in Montour Falls.

It was the highlight of the third and final day of the Fire Department Festival, whose games, rides, food and music were located on the carnival grounds alongside Rt. 224 not far from the parade route.

A lineup with more than 60 entries -- fire trucks, antique cars, horses, tractors, floats and marching bands -- entertained a large turnout of parade fans along Main Street for about 80 minutes. The theme of the parade was Spirit of America.

The emcee was Jim Howell, who has held the microphone at each Montour parade since 2000. Judges stationed along the parade route were Diane Bond, Tiffany Zinger, Linda Confer and Bonnie Howell.

There were 10 bands, ranging from fire department musical units to high school bands to the Caledonian Highlanders bagpipers to the Hitmen from Rochester. High schools represented were Odessa-Montour, Campbell-Savona, Addison, Prattsburgh, Corning-Painted Post, Jasper-Troupsburg and Horseheads.

Fire departments on hand included those from Montour Falls, Watkins Glen, Odessa, Penn Yan, Enfield, Valois-Logan-Hector, Elmira Heights, Millport, Beaver Dams, Hammondsport, Burdett, Interlaken, Tyrone, Newfield, West Danby, Mecklenburg, Dundee, McLean, Pine City, and Wayne.

Photos in text:

Top: A Valois-Logan-Hector Fire Department truck carried some passengers up high.
Bottom: Members of the Jasper-Troupsburg High School marching band.

The Campbell-Savona High School marching band wowed spectators with its music.

Left: The Montour Falls United Methodist Church float, judged the best float in the parade. Right: Members of the Horseheads High School marching band.

A member of The Hitmen, a popular band from Rochester, waves to the crowd.

Left:A member of the Penn Yan Fire Department as her unit marched. Right: Spectator John James enjoys the passing parade.

The Interlaken Volunteer Fire Department brought its 1834 Pumper to the parade.

Left: Parade emcee Jim Howell. Right: Parade judges were, from left, Linda Confer, Bonnie Howell, Tiffany Zinger and Diane Bond.

On Seneca

Photographer Marti Dense of Watkins Glen sent us this photo looking down on Seneca Lake on a busy sailing day at the start of June 2024.

Life jacket loaners, classes focus on safety

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, May 23, 2024 -- Life jacket loaner trees, classes and educational events drive the mission of the Finger Lakes Chapter of America’s Boating Club (ABC-FLX) to ensure a safe water experience for area residents and visitors to Seneca Lake.

A life jacket tree in Watkins Glen is ready for users in time for National Safe Boating Week, May 18-24. The group has also announced a June class in Geneva for the required New York State boating certificate.

The life jacket tree is at the Clute Park kayak and canoe launch at the southeast end of the lake. It holds life jackets of all sizes that may be borrowed and returned at no cost. A second life jacket tree, located at the Clute Park boat launch on the canal, is temporarily not being used during parking lot construction.

Programs such as offering life jackets for loan are crucial to boating safety, said Phil Cherry, commander for ABC-FLX, formerly known as the Seneca Sail and Power Squadron.

“We are especially grateful to anonymous donors who have left brand new life jackets at the trees,” Cherry said. “Their support of our commitment to boating safety is very encouraging.”

The boating club, based in Watkins Glen, also promotes safety through a variety of classes in person, on the water and online, Cherry said.

The next state boating certificate class will be in Geneva on June 12, 19 and 26. Sessions will be from 6-9 p.m. at 225 Exchange St. The course is offered in collaboration with the Seneca Pure Waters Association and Stivers Seneca Marine. The cost is $50. For more information and to register, email seo@abc-flx.org.

For more information about America’s Boating Club-Finger Lakes Chapter, go to www.abc-flx.org or Facebook at “America’s Boating Club-Finger Lakes Chapter.

America’s Boating Club is the nation’s largest non-profit boating organization, with nearly 30,000 members in more than 350 clubs. The local chapter of the United States Power Squadrons boasts members from across the Finger Lakes Region who enjoy their time on the water in vessels ranging from kayaks to power boats to sailboats. Boat ownership is not a membership requirement.

Photo in text: Phil Cherry, Finger Lakes Chapter of America’s Boating Club commander, adds a new life jacket to the collection at the club’s free loaner tree at the Clute Park kayak and canoe launch in Watkins Glen. The launch is at the southeast end of Seneca Lake. The club started the boating safety project in 2019. (Photo provided)

Little Free Libraries placed around county

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, May 20, 2024 -- The Watkins-Montour Rotary Club has placed six Little Free Libraries around Schuyler County, inviting everyone to “take one, leave one.”

Encouraging people of all ages and interests to read by offering free books aligns with Watkins-Montour Rotarians’ and Rotary International’s commitment to improving literacy in local communities.

The new Little Free Libraries are located at the Beaver Dams Church, Romeo Village in Montour Falls, Odessa-Catharine United Methodist Church in Odessa, Lafayette Park and Clute Park in Watkins Glen and Barnum Street Playground in Burdett.

Rotarians will keep the blue and yellow structures stocked with books, but users are encouraged to “Take a book. Share a book” in the spirit of the international Little Free Library program. The boxes are accessible at all times.

“If ever ‘it takes a village’ applies to a project -- or several ‘villages’ plus a lot of Rotarians and family members -- it does to our Little Free Libraries endeavor,” Watkins-Montour Rotary Club President Nan Woodworth said.

“Thanks to the vision, expertise and collaborative effort of several of our Rotarians, a District 7120 Community Grant was written, building materials were supplied at cost and the project completed from construction to post digging to installation,” Woodworth said. “We are also grateful to the churches and municipalities that gave us permission to place our Libraries on their property.”

She noted that books have been donated by Rotarians and through a book drive hosted by Odessa Wine and Spirits.

The Little Free Libraries are registered with the international network, and each carries an identifying number. With the Rotary project, Schuyler County now has 10 registered Little Free Libraries. Worldwide, more than 175,000 are located in 121 countries.

Photo in text: Nan Woodworth places a Rotary plaque on the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club's Little Free Library at the Odessa-Catharine United Methodist Church in Odessa. (Photo provided)

The ribbon is cut in front of the Justice Center of the Southern Tier at Thursday's ceremony.

Justice Center of the Southern Tier, located
in Montour Falls, holds its Grand Opening

MONTOUR FALLS, May 9, 2024 -- The Justice Center of the Southern Tier -- a haven for victims of crimes -- held its Grand Opening Thursday after a successful soft opening earlier in the year that Schuyler County District Attorney Joe Fazzary, who envisioned and was the primary force in the Center's creation, called a success.

The Justice Center -- as described in Fazzary's own words to scores of well-wishers on hand for a ribbon-cutting ceremony in front of the Center in downtown Montour Falls -- is "a safe and comfortable place where victims can go to receive many services in one central location."

Its mission statement says its goal is "to support and assist victims of crime and their family members to empower them to live free from violence and fear. (It) uses a collaborative process which helps to remove barriers to services, enabling victims to heal and cultivate hope."

The Center, at 320 West Main Street in Montour Falls, is a renovated former business with a welcoming sitting room and various other rooms and offices, with soothing artwork on the hallway and room walls. It is not operated by either the local police or the District Attorney's office. Beyond its physical attributes, the Center was also described by Fazzary like this:

"It is a place that is welcoming to people who have had their lives disrupted and sometimes destroyed by the senseless criminal behavior of others.

"It is a place where police will conduct victim interviews -- replacing the cold office setting of police departments.

"It is a place where prosecutors will meet with victims to prepare for cases.

"It is a place where victims can receive therapeutic services.

"It is a place where victims can receive civil legal help ... and a place where they can receive other necessary assistance including financial and housing assistance (including emergency temporary housing at an undisclosed location).

"It is a place where victims can come to receive help even if they have not and don't want to report crimes to the police.

"And it's all FREE."

Fazzary, one of several speakers -- including Alyssa Denger of the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce; Michael Rogers from the office of State Senator Tom O'Mara; Jesse Prieto, Deputy Chief of Staff for Congressman Nick Langworthy; Jeff Confer, deputy mayor of Montour Falls; and John Watson, acting director of the Office of Victim Services -- then asked the question:

"So, how did the Justice Center come to be? To answer that question, you have to understand something about its creator -- ME.

"Growing up," said Fazzary, "I was a victim of childhood sexual abuse. This was something I never told to anyone -- not my parents, not my wife, not my closest friends. I lived with this in silence for 28 years.

"That is, until my interior struggles began to disrupt my life. It was then that I knew I couldn't fix it alone -- that I needed help. So, I told my wife when I was 36 years old what had been done to me. Shortly thereafter, I realized I wasn't alone.

"I also realized that I had to do something to help other victims like me. I realized that I could do more. That I was in a position to do more.

"So, I began speaking to victim service providers throughout the state about what happened to me and what I did to survive.

"But that still wasn't enough. I wanted to do something that would directly impact the lives of our victims in the Southern Tier.

"So I envisioned this Center. I got the Office of Victim Services to back it. I got the county legislature and administrator to support it. I got Montour Falls Mayor Jim Ryan to support it. Then I reached out to all of the service providers.

"When I pitched my idea, everyone loved it. Then my team and I found a way to get it done by enlisting the help of so many of you.

"Then Pathways came along; gave us Amy Gill and Amy Jones. They are so incredible and so dedicated to our victims and this Center. You have made my vision a reality. From the bottom of my heart I thank you.

"And the victims have come and they are thankful that we did this here in little old Schuyler County. This is the Justice Center of the Southern Tier and we are officially open for business. If you know someone who needs help, send them here. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain.Thank you for coming out to support us today. And thank you for being here to support our victims."

Photos in text:

Top: Jesse Prieto, right, of Congressman Nick Langworthy's office presents a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition to Joe Fazzary, whose vision and drive led to the opening of the Justice Center of the Southern Tier.
Middle: A welcoming room that visitors encounter after entering the Justice Center.
Bottom: Artwork on the wall inside the Justice Center, created by someone Joe Fazzary said was a victim, depicting that person as both victim and survivor.

A sizable crowd gathered outside the Justice Center of the Southern Tier for its Grand Opening ceremony -- here listening to Acting Director John Watson of the Office of Victim Services. Attendees toured the Center afterward.

Grande Tour marks museum's 50 years

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, May 4, 2024 -- The Schuyler County Historical Society has announced a rare opportunity in celebration of the 50th anniversary of its museum.

On May 31, 1974 the Schuyler County Historical Society held a dedicatory dinner at the M&M Club. The Brick Tavern Museum opened its doors to the general public on June 1st and 2nd of 1974. The establishment of the museum was made possible at the time by a generous bequest from the late Mrs. Dorothy Longnecker and her son, Frank Longnecker.

To celebrate the 50th, the Historical Society is offering a special Grande Tour of all three of it historic sites on June 1, 2024. The Society will provide bus transportation, talking history presentations, light refreshments and a short music concert.

Guests will be asked to arrive at the Schuyler County Human Services Complex by 12:30 p.m. to check in. The first stop will be the Brick Tavern Museum with a guided tour, music and tea time. The second stop will be the Lee School, where "schoolmarms" will welcome visitors. There will be some lessons there, followed by a 19th century school snack. The final stop will be the Lawrence Chapel with a guided tour of the cemetery and a special presentation of the building’s history, followed by a sweet treat and a 30-minute harp concert. All guests will be bused back to the Schuyler County Human Services Complex by 5:15 p.m.

Tickets are $40 each and must be purchased ahead of time. There is a $3.00 processing fee for each ticket purchased. Visit www.schuylerhistory.org and click on the Bookstore tab.

The Brick Tavern Museum is located at 108 N. Catharine St./Route 14, Montour Falls. Admission is free. Hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursday 2-8 p.m. Museum exhibits and all operations of the Schuyler County Historical Society are supported by a Tourism Assistance Program grant administered by the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce.

For more information, call the Brick Tavern Museum at (607) 535-9741.

Clothing and other material fixes were available at this table at the Repair Cafe run by Margaret Ball, left, and Valerie Carocci.

Repair Cafe offers alternative to 'trash it'

Event held at Montour Falls Fire Hall; 2nd one set for June in the Town of Hector

MONTOUR FALLS, April 21, 2024 -- The first of two Repair Cafes in Schuyler County was held Saturday at the Montour Falls Fire Department, and from the number of people bringing in items requiring repair, the event struck a positive chord and met a definite need.

The Village of Montour Falls and the Town of Hector are partnering on the program, the second event of which will occur in June in Hector.

Repair Cafes are locally run, pop-up events that promote the power of repair as an alternative to throwing things out. Volunteer repair coaches generally are able to fix around 80% of the items brought into a cafe. The most common repairs include lamps, vacuums, and small appliances; but mechanical and wooden items, textiles, jewelry, bikes, and computers are among other possible repairs offered. General repairs are offered free-of-charge, with some replacement parts offered at little-to-no cost.

The Repair Cafes in the two communities stem from the work of the Sustainability Committees in both locales. The village and town are each Bronze Certified Communities in the Climate Smart Communities (CSC) movement and working toward Silver Certificates -- and ultimately the Gold.

"Both communities," explained Nancy N. Doniger, the Montour Falls Sustainability Committee Volunteer Coordinator, "can earn four points for the cafes and three points for the partnership. The state-run CSC program provides valuable grants and technical assistance, as does the state Clean Energy Communities program. Montour Falls and Hector are actively involved in both of these programs."

Village of Montour Falls Mayor James Ryan, who chairs the Montour Falls Sustainability Committee, said: "I am proud of the partnership between the Montour Falls and Hector Sustainability Committees, supported by the Southern Tier Central Regional Planning & Development Board. They came together offering tangible solutions that support the principles of our sustainability plan by promoting self-sufficiency and developing community resilience through repair and reuse: A contrast to trash it and replace it."

Gary Judson, Hector Sustainability Committee chairman, lauded how well the coaches, many of whom did not previously know each other, worked together Saturday and helped each other solve repair issues together. "They enjoyed resolving the challenges presented to them," he said, "from fixing broken lamps, toasters, vacuum cleaners, jewelry, woodworking, and a keyboard to hemming pants, restoring a 50-year old crocheted tablecloth, stitching up stuffed animals with holes, and other projects."

Doniger provided a list of the Repair Coach volunteers on hand Saturday, as well as a list of the volunteers at the table exhibits, and those who contributed funds for lamp parts, hardware, tools and food for the volunteers and guests.

Repair Coach Volunteers:
Ed Arnold, general repairs
Margaret Ball, mending, hemming, alterations
Valerie Carocci, mending, hemming, alterations
John Cecci, general repairs, electrical, woodworking and jewelry repairs
Kyle Colunio, general repairs
Tara Escudero, bicycle repairs
John Herbert, general repairs
Michael Kartychak, general repairs
Laura Mantius, mending, hemming, alterations
David Martin, general repairs
Matt Nagle, general repairs, HVAC
Chuck Wilke, mechanical, electrical, general repairs
Bob Wirth and Wendy Wirth, general repairs, electrical

Table Exhibitors:
|The table exhibitors coached guests on how to be a beekeeper, how to address common home masonry projects and how to respond to an opioid overdose and save a life with Narcan:
--Erik Holter, Beekeeper, Almosta Apiary, Montour Falls
--Courtney DeRusha, C.E. DeRusha Masonry LLC, Corning
--Finger Lakes Area Counseling & Recovery Agency

Competitive Edge Solutions -- tool sets.
Hector Foundation -- donation for lamp parts, hardware and supplies.
Montour Falls Tea Company -- tea, charcuterie boxes.
North New York -- coffee, tea, and pastries.
Pudgies Pizza -- pizzas for the repair coaches.
Southern Tier Central Regional Planning & Development Board -- Gift card for food, supplies.
Tops -- store gift card for food.
Walmart -- store gift card for repair parts and food.

General Volunteers:
General volunteers greeted guests, helped sign people in, served food, brought guests to the repair coaches and made the event run smoothly:
Keturah Cappadonia
Marie Dean
Antoinette DiCiaccio
Paul Doniger
Jonathen Havens

Photos in text:

Top: Clock repair by John Cecci was among the services offered at the cafe.
Middle: Kyle Colunio offered general repairs.
Bottom: Eric Holter of Almosta Apiary explained how to be a beekeeper.

The cast of the play "The Perils of Pepe on Perry," written by the Lake Country Players' Phil Watson (third from right, standing) and directed by Kim Laursen (second from right).

Murder mystery at Events Center lunch enlivens Schuyler solar-eclipse experience

WATKINS GLEN, April 8, 2024 -- A murder mystery set in 1925 -- the last year a total eclipse visited our area -- and based on a real case added entertainment to the run-up to Monday's solar eclipse. The play was the centerpiece of a Schuyler County Historical Society luncheon attended by about 100 people at the Seneca Lake Events Center at Clute Park.

The play, urged by the Historical Society's executive director of museums, Heather O'Grady-Evans, was written on short notice through the Lake Country Players acting troupe by Phil Watson, and directed by veteran Kim Laursen. It highlighted a luncheon catered by Bleachers Bar & Grill, which is located on Franklin Street in Watkins Glen.

The Historical Society teamed with the village and with the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce to promote the party, which filled the Events Center with diners -- many in the spirit of the 1920s era with clothes designed in that era.

The play dealt with the murder of a jealous husband named Leonard Pepe (portrayed by Nicholas Brusso), and left the audience to vote on who they thought the guilty party was. Organizers said the case was based on an actual Schuyler County murder. The vote by the party-goers went to a boarder at the Pepe residence, Angelo Quatrano, portrayed by Gavin Lewis.

The play, warmly received, was followed by a slow exodus outdoors by the diners hoping to watch the solar eclipse, but thick cloud cover blocked the sun for all but brief intervals, and didn't improve. People would look up with their eclipse glasses every time the sun peeked through, but then pocket the glasses with every succeeding disappointment.

As the eclipse progressed, the wind picked up and the temperature dropped, leaving the spectators chilled as well as disappointed.

"Mother Nature is fickle," said WENY Meteorologist Joe Veres, on hand to report from Clute Park. That's true, but as a longtime Schuyler resident added: "It's early April in Schuyler, so we should expect this. We're just lucky it's not raining."

And lucky, to sum up the day, that the Lake Country Players, Bleachers and the Historical Society turned it into something positively, instead of negatively, memorable.

Photos in text:

Top: Among the audience were three Warner sisters -- from left Kate LaMoreaux, Patty Kehe and Dr. Cynthia Terry. Missing was sister Barbara Deane, presumably watching the eclipse from near her home north of Seneca Lake.

Middle Left: The Historical Society's Heather O'Grady-Evans at the party.

Middle Right: The character adjudged guilty by diners (actor Gavin Lewis as Angelo Quatrano) is "arrested" by Phil Watson's Sheriff Millen.

Bottom: 1920s-era headwear and dresses were donned by many audience members.

Dancers performed two musical numbers. They were identified in the program as Arloween Loucks-Scuteri, Maeve Wheeler and Ellie Stimson.

Left: Kim Laursen collects ballots from diners picking who they thought was the guilty party in the play. Right: Jody Saunders takes a look at the eclipse when it briefly appeared.

Nicholas Brusso and Natalie VanSkiver in a scene from the play in the Events Center.

Bradford's Elementary Thespians to present 'Willy Wonka Kids' musical

BRADFORD, NY, April 4, 2024 -- The Bradford Central School's Elementary Thespians will transport Bradford to a "world of pure imagination" with their production of "Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka Kids," a musical based on Dahl's timeless children's book "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 12 and 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 13.

The presentations will be at the Bradford Central School (2820 State Route 226, Bradford). Tickets to the production are $5 and available at the door.

"Developed by renowned educators and designed to suit schools and students who are new to musical theatre, our production seeks to introduce students to the joys of participating in a show, with the 30-minute KIDS edition," says a press release announcing the performances.

In "Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka Kids," a world-famous reclusive candy man named Willy Wonka announces that he will offer the tour of the lifetime through his secret chocolate factory to five children who find a golden ticket in one of his world-famous candy bars. One ticket-holder will also win a lifetime supply of chocolate. Against all odds, an impoverished but sweet-natured boy named Charlie Bucket wins a golden ticket. He and his fellow tour members spend a day traveling with the mysterious and marvelous Willy Wonka and his crew of Oompa Loompas through the fantastical factory. The children encounter marvelous sights and tastes along the way, including giant nut-selecting squirrels, fizzy lifting drinks, Everlasting Gobstoppers, and a chocolate river. But each stop proves to be a test, as only one can go on to win the Wonka prize.

"It takes tremendous imagination to communicate the whimsy and wonder of Willy Wonka's factory, and it requires great sensitivity to deliver the musical's key message on the importance of good character," says Dusty Baker, Artistic and Music Director. "This is just our second elementary musical, and our first as an official club at school, so it's sure to be a special production and has been an incredible opportunity for learning and growth with these kids." Baker's Assistant Director is Kristin Croft and the Choreographer is Courtney Miller.

"Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka Kids" is adapted for the stage by Leslie Bricusse and Timothy Allen McDonald. The show features lyrics and music by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley, including beloved songs "The Candy Man," "I Want It Now!" and "Pure Imagination" from the classic film "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory."

"Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka Kids" is presented through special arrangement with, and all authorized materials are supplied by, Music Theatre International, 421 West 54th Street, New York, NY, (212) 541-4684, mtishows.com.

Photo: The Bradford Central School's Elementary Thespians. Braiden Shattuck (center front) portrays Willy Wonka, leading Charlie Bucket (Alice Klinkowsky, far right) and the other golden ticket winners with their guests into the factory for their tour. (Photo provided)

From left: Nick Brusso as The Knave, Natalie VanSkiver as the Cheshire Cat, and Kay Davis as Alice perform a musical number.

'Alice in Wonderland' ends run at WGHS

WATKINS GLEN, March 24, 2024 -- The Watkins Glen High School Class of 2024's production of the musical “Alice in Wonderland” was presented for a third and final time Sunday afternoon before an appreciative audience in the WGHS Auditorium.

This Netzel and Wolf version of “Alice in Wonderland,” based on the Lewis Carroll novel, opened with a performance Friday night and was presented again Saturday night before concluding with Sunday's matinee..

Spectators journeyed down the rabbit hole to a colorful, whimsical world with Alice, played by Kay Davis, who along the way befriended the Knave of Hearts, played by Nick Brusso, and was intrigued by the White Rabbit, played by Aurora Scott, the Cheshire Cat, played by Natalie VanSkiver, and the Caterpillar, played by Kaylin Smith. She tangled with the Queen of Hearts, played by Lilac Cruz, and was puzzled by the tea party of the Mad Hatter, March Hare and Dormouse, played by Aubree Rudy, Kylie Swan and Annabelle Thompson, respectively.

Among those coming and going so quickly through her encounters were the birds, portrayed by Trinity Barrett, Rylee Smith, Callie Tohafjian, Norah Stegner and Trinity Depree.

Along the way, Alice learned that “Nothing is Impossible,” and the audience was left wondering if her experiences were real or in her imagination.

Students from 5th to 12th grades rehearsed beginning in January for this lesser-known version of the familiar story, which featured original songs and dance numbers in various styles.

Michelle and Tim Benjamin of Montour Falls were directing, with Sarah Matthews as Music Director. Costume Directors were Amanda Wood and Sarah Sutherland. The show was choreographed by student Natalie VanSkiver and by Michelle Benjamin.

The producer was Sam Brubaker, and the show was presented by the Watkins Glen High School Class of 2024, by arrangement with Dramatic Publishing.

The cast list, in order of appearance:

Alice: Kay Davis
Helen/Queen: Lilac Cruz
Rabbit: Aurora Scott
Lory: Trinity Barrett
Eaglet: Rylee Smith
Duck: Callie Tohafjian
Dodo: Norah Stegner
Pigeon: Trinity Depree
Caterpillar/King: Kaylin Smith
Knave: Nick Brusso
Cheshire Cat: Natalie VanSkiver
Mad Hatter/Card 3: Aubree Rudy
March Hare/Card 2: Kylie Swan
Dormouse/Card 1: Annabelle Thompson



Photos in text:

From top: Lilac Cruz as the Queen of Hearts, with Kaylin Smith as the King; Aubree Rudy as the Mad Hatter; and Kay Davis as Alice with Aurora Scott as the White Rabbit.

Annabelle Thompson (left) as the Dormouse, and Kylie Swan as the March Hare.

Left: Natalie VanSkiver as the Cheshire Cat. Right: The Queen (Lilac Cruz) intimidates the White Rabbit (Aurora Scott).

Alice, third from right, talks to a group of birds in a scene from Act One.

And photographed earlier in the week, at a rehearsal:

The Mad Hatter's tea party. From left, Annabelle Thompson as the Dormouse, Kylie Swan as the March Hare, Aubree Rudy as the Mad Hatter, and Kay Davis as Alice.

Left: Kay Davis portrays Alice. Right: Natalie VanSkiver as the Cheshire Cat.

Left: Nick Brusso as The Knave. Right: Annabelle Thompson as the Dormouse.

Left: Lilac Cruz as Helen. She later appears as the Queen of Hearts. Right: Aubree Rudy portrays the Mad Hatter.

Left: Aurora Scott portrays the White Rabbit. Right: Kaylin Smith, as the Caterpillar, and Kay Davis as Alice.

Fruit tree workshop set at Apples & Moore

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, March 13, 2024 -- Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) and Rick Reisinger are offering an opportunity to attend a fruit tree workshop at Apples and Moore, 2750 Apple Lane, on March 23rd from 9:00 a.m.-12:00 noon. This workshop will be helpful to tree fruit growers of all levels.

The workshop will focus on apples, peaches, plums, and pears. It will cover a variety of subjects: selection, planting, establishment, training, pruning techniques, tools, insects, diseases, animal control, and nutrient management. There will be lots of time for Q&A with Alec Moore (owner of Apples and Moore) and Rick Reisinger (owner of Reisinger’s Summer Fruit).

The workshop is $25 for a single registration or $40 for a double registration. Since the workshop will be held outside (rain, snow, or shine) participants should dress for the weather.

Pre-registration is required and closes two days before the workshop. For all the details and registration links go to cceschuyler.org/events.

Exhibit features '75 Years of Road Racing'

Opening reception held at the Brick Tavern Museum; part of yearlong celebration

MONTOUR FALLS, March 15, 2024 -- The Schuyler County Historical Society in partnership with the International Motor Racing Research Center has established a special road racing exhibit at the Brick Tavern Museum in Montour Falls.

In October of 2023, these organizations kicked off a yearlong celebration of 75 Years of Road Racing in Watkins Glen.

The exhibit opened March 1 and will remain open to the public through October 31, 2024. Schuyler County Historical Society Board Member and Burdett Historian Marty Evans curated the exhibit with the assistance of Racing Historian Bill Green and Watkins Glen Historian and racing enthusiast Jim Scaptura. Most of the items on display are from the personal collections of Green and Scaptura.

In addition, Paul Chiacchierini, owner of AMP School and CRL Photography out of Pennsylvania, provided videography, design and memorabilia for the exhibit.

Road racing in Schuyler County began in 1948, thanks to the perseverance of the late Cameron Argetsinger and with the full support of the Watkins Glen Chamber of Commerce. The area had already been selected by the Sports Car Club of America, and Argetsinger had mapped a 6.6-mile course through the village and surrounding hillside and billed it as the Watkins Glen Grand Prix.

The subsequent 75 years have proven quite lucrative for Watkins Glen, Schuyler County and the Finger Lakes Region as a whole. This exhibit showcases four distinct eras of racing, the cultural impact of the races, and some of the family traditions that emerged as a result of the races.

A grand opening reception was held on Thursday, March 14 at the Brick Tavern Museum. The reception was attended by members of the public and by representatives from the Historical Society and the Motor Racing Research Center. Both historians, Green and Scaptura, were also on hand.

The Brick Tavern Museum is located at 108 N. Catharine St./Route 14, Montour Falls. Admission is free. Hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursday 2-8 p.m.

Museum exhibits and all operations of the Schuyler County Historical Society are supported by a Tourism Assistance Program grant administered by the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce.

For more information, call the Brick Tavern Museum at (607) 535-9741.

Photos in text:

Top: One of the display walls, featuring various racing-related items.
Bottom: Most of the racing items on display come from the collections of historians Bill Green, left, and Jim Scaptura, seated at right.

CCE plans Pheasant Rearing Workshop

The following comes from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schuyler County.

ITHACA, March 10, 2024 -- Pheasant hunting has a long tradition as one the most popular small-game hunting activities in New York State, but wild populations of this introduced species have reached all-time lows. Without propagation and release programs, pheasant hunting opportunities would not exist in New York.

The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has a long history of propagating pheasants to help meet the demand for pheasant hunting opportunities. Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schuyler County (CCE Schuyler) is offering an opportunity for people to get involved in this worthwhile project.

CCE Schuyler is hosting a workshop to explain how to get free day-old pheasant chicks to raise and release into the wild. This program is free and open to the public.

The Cooperative Day-old Pheasant Chick Program (DOCP) is one of the DEC’s programs that help make more game available for hunting and bird watching in the area. The DEC's Bureau of Wildlife owns and operates the Richard E. Reynolds Game Farm located near Ithaca, the state's only pheasant production facility. Come learn from staff from the Richard E. Reynolds Game Farm as they explain how the program works and give tips and ideas on successfully raising the day-old chicks. Staff will answer questions and give insights on what is required to make this program work for attendees.

Approximately 40,000 day-old chicks are hatched and distributed to cooperators. Each cooperator receives a specified number of free day-old chicks to raise and release at no additional expense to DEC. All birds must be released on lands open for public hunting. Program participants include 4-H youth, sportsmen clubs, landowners, farmers, schools, NYS Department of Corrections, and other individuals.

Rearing pheasants is enjoyable and challenging and also a good teaching tool for youth. Releasing the pheasants offers fall hunting opportunities and pheasants are an enjoyable addition to a property. The cooperator program provides a means for youth and adults to learn about the husbandry and natural history of pheasants, with an incentive to expand areas open for public hunting and to improve habitat for grassland wildlife species.

Registration for this educational event is required. Please register online at: https://cceschuyler.org/events/2024/03/11/2024-4-h-pheasant-rearing-workshop. If you do not have access to the internet, please call the office at 315-539-9251.

'Canal Boats on the Finger Lakes' talk set

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, March 1, 2024 -- The Schuyler County Historical Society has announced the third of its Talkin' History! series. As New York State continues to celebrate 200 years of the Erie Canal, the next talk on the Erie Canal system will be on March 10 at 2:00 p.m.

County Historian Gary Emerson will talk about "Canal Boats on the Finger Lakes." He states, "Canal boats once plied our local waters, moving goods and people to expand the economy and unite the nation. Many boatyards in our area produced canal boats that were used across the state." The talk will rely on many pictures, maps, and stories to discuss the different types of canal boats, what life was like on the boats, and how they journeyed through our area.

Since retiring from teaching, Emerson has become active with the Schuyler County Historical Society, and in 2018 became the Schuyler County Historian. His March talk focuses on "the various types of canal boats seen on the Finger Lakes." An additional talk is scheduled for June.

This talk is FREE and will be held at the Silver Spoon Cafe, located within the Schuyler County Human Services Complex, 323 Owego Street, Montour Falls.

For more information, call the Historical Society's Brick Tavern Museum at (607) 535-9741.

Photo in text: Schuyler County Historian Gary Emerson

And through the lens of Liz Fraboni ...

WATKINS GLEN, March 3, 2024 -- Area photographer Liz Fraboni, the author of hundreds of photos over the years on this website, has provided the ones above and at right -- of scenes at the southern end of Seneca Lake.

The one above was created on Sunday morning, March 3, and the one at right the night before.

















Photos by Liz Fraboni

Saint James' to host concert on March 3rd

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Feb. 16, 2024 -- Tim Ball and Helen Kuhar will perform in concert at Saint James' Episcopal Church, 112 Sixth St., Watkins Glen at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 3 to benefit the Saint James' Medical Mission in memory of Dr. Blanche Borzell.

Ball and Kuhar have performed together throughout the northeast, including an official showcase concert at the 2023 NERFA conference in Asbury Park, NJ and contra dances from Brooklyn, NY to Greenfield, MA.

Their concert set features music from Upstate Crossroads, Tim's solo fiddle album, as well as new material honed over their last year of touring as a duo. From toe-tapping jigs and reels to beautiful songs, Tim and Helen offer a window into the living tradition of Irish music and showcase timeless melodies in a new light.

Suggested donation for the concert is $20.

Photo in text: Tim Ball and Helen Kuhar (Photo provided)

'Inherit the Wind' to be presented Feb. 22-25 at Trumansburg Conservatory of Fine Arts

Special to The Odessa File

TRUMANSBURG, Jan. 21, 2024 -- The Encore Players Community Theatre will present the gripping courtroom drama “Inherit the Wind” from Feb. 22-25 at the Trumansburg Conservatory of Fine Arts at 5 McLallen Street, Trumansburg.

The play, by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, will start at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 22-24, and at 4 p.m. on Feb. 25.

Set in 1925 in a small Tennessee town, two giants of the legal profession do battle in a fictionalized version of the historically consequential Scopes “Monkey” trial. Matthew Harrison Brady, a character based on William Jennings Bryan, a three-time presidential
candidate and staunch defender of the biblical view of creation, collides with Henry
Drummond, a character based on Clarence Darrow, defender of the teenage murderers Leopold and Loeb, and the advocate for John Scopes, a teacher who exposed his students to Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Without taking sides, the play is a plea for keeping an open mind, thinking critically, and tolerating intellectual differences. Its cast is comprised of 40 Trumansburg-area actors who explore the conflict between the Creationists and Evolutionists and between the teachings of the Bible and those of Darwin’s Origin of the Species.

This production marks the fourth time that director Andy Weintraub has brought “Inherit
the Wind” to a stage over the last four decades, but the first time at the Trumansburg
Conservatory of Fine Arts. When asked why he’s chosen to revisit this piece at this time, Weintraub said this: “The TCFA, with its two levels, is perfect for the set required to
present the play.”

He also said “the erosion of the meaning of 'free speech' and the misunderstanding of 'science' as a body of knowledge rather than as a method of providing answers to important questions” continue to make the play relevant in our current times.

Tickets are $20, and must be purchased in advance at www.encoreplayers.org. Partial proceeds will benefit the TCFA.

Youth robotics team advances to regional championship for 7th consecutive year

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, December 27, 2023 -- Mechanical Meltdown, the youth robotics team based in Watkins Glen, has earned advancement to the Excelsior Regional Championship for the seventh consecutive year.

This includes every season since the group's start in 2017. The team secured a spot in the championship through its performance at the Finger Lakes Qualifying Tournament in Penfield, NY, on Sunday, December 17.

Each year in early September, a new robotics challenge is released through FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). Over the next several months, students from around the world put in countless hours with their teammates to design, build, and program a robot to complete the challenges.

According to the team’s lead mentor, Kathy Gascon, members meet at least three times per week, and during the final weeks leading up to a tournament some members work on preparations nearly every day. John Bruning, a 7th grade homeschooler from Ovid and first-year member, was asked how he felt about this time commitment. “Our time and effort definitely paid off and it definitely was worth it,” he said, adding: “I have played on soccer teams before and I really enjoyed it, but it was never like the happiness I felt at the tournament.”

This year’s game is called Center Stage and has an arts-inspired theme. The primary goal is to collect three-inch hexagonal “Pixels," and then maneuver around obstacles and other robots to deposit them onto a three-foot “Backdrop.” Extra points can be earned by arranging the Pixels in a “Mosaic” (specific color patterns) or by stacking them higher.

Each match begins with a 30-second autonomous period, where vision software is used to detect a “Prop.” Based on the position of the Prop, the robot delivers Pixels using only sensors and pre-programmed logic. Teams are also tasked with creating a robot which can pull itself up to suspend from “Rigging” and launch a paper airplane “Drone” at the end of a match.

At the Penfield competition, after five rounds of preliminary matches, Mechanical Meltdown was ranked second among the 23 participating teams. As the number two seed, it formed an alliance with Electric Mayhem White from Buffalo and Nuclear Detonation from Notre Dame in Elmira. With help from their selected partners, the team swept through semifinal and final rounds, winning all four matches against some difficult competitors.

In addition to being Captain of the Winning Alliance, Mechanical Meltdown also won the Think Award for documentation of their engineering journey, and was nominated for the Inspire Award as an all-around role model team and the Control Award for programming. Referring to his team’s success, Bruning beamed, “I was amazed with the results and excited that we had won!”

Two 9th grade homeschoolers have done the majority of the robot’s programming this year. Juliet Asperschlager of Burdett reflected, “This is my third year on the team, but first year as an official programmer, so I am especially proud that we got our robot working as well as we did for having so little experience.” Lincoln Bruning of Ovid, also in his third year on the team, added, “After so much time and effort, watching the autos work so well was just so gratifying for me, especially because this is my first year programming a competition robot.”

Currently Mechanical Meltdown is ranked #2 out of 45 teams who have competed so far in our region. They are ranked #3 of 131 in the state, and #204 of 4,257 in the world. While these are impressive numbers, the team already has a slate of items it would like to improve upon. Bruning explained: “I feel that the time and effort put into this tournament were very worth it, because it is so great to move on to regionals in our first tournament of the season, so that we can experiment a little more and have less pressure.”

The team will gauge its progress by competing in Buffalo on January 27, and in Corning on February 11. Then it will have a few weeks for final revisions before the championship, which takes place on Sunday, March 3 at Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica, NY.

Said Asperschlager: “I think everything we have done so far has paid off and I am super excited for Regionals in March!”

Mechanical Meltdown is part of FLARE (Finger Lakes Area Robotics Education) and Trumansburg Robotics, Inc. The program is open to youths in grades 7-12, with current students from Burdett, Trumansburg, and Ovid. For more information, contact Kathy at (607) 227-2784 or ftcflare@gmail.com.

Photo in text: From left after winning the Think Award: Mechanical Meltdown members John Bruning, Judah Kircher, Juliet Asperschlager, Lucas Hunter, Violet Mansfield, Lincoln Bruning, and Gavin Simoneau. (Photo provided)

TV stations were on hand for the festivities along Franklin Street. In the photo above, Watkins Glen Mayor Laurie DeNardo is interviewed by WENY News.

Glen holds 30th annual Village Christmas

To see a collection of Molly Batrowny photos of the Village Christmas celebration, click here.

WATKINS GLEN, Dec. 1, 2023 -- The 30th Annual Watkins Glen Village Christmas lit up Franklin Street in Watkins Glen Friday night -- a tradition that offered an evening of fun for the entire family.

As the sun set, Franklin Street was transformed into a winter wonderland, with the road closed to traffic and filled with vendors offering seasonal treats and unique gift items. Local downtown businesses extended their hours, providing ample opportunities for holiday shopping.

The festivities kicked off at 5:00 p.m. with the Village Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony at Gifford Park.

The fun continued throughout the evening with a variety of family-friendly activities, including free face painting and balloon creations. There was also a chili cook-off contest, and baked goods sold to raise funds for various causes, such as Wounded Warriors.

The highlight of the evening was the Village Christmas Parade, starting at 6:30 p.m. It featured elaborately decorated floats, costumed characters, and local organizations winding their way down Franklin Street.

At 7:30 p.m., the skies lit up with a fireworks display, launched from the Seneca Harbor Pier.

For animal lovers, the Community Bank hosted a Free Petting Zoo, providing an opportunity for families to interact with friendly animals.

Photos in text:

Top: One vendor, from Elmira Heights, was selling colorful 18-inch-diameter plastic balls, each made from cups, with each cup containing a bulb.
Bottom: This family was one of many that visited a petting zoo set up alongside Community Bank and featuring friendly farm animals.

This mural was recently painted by artist Bob Gillespie on the interior north wall of the Chamber of Commerce office at 214 N. Franklin Street. It is titled "1952 Queen Catherine Cup, a Tribute to Denver Cornett." A vendor (bottom right, one of several set up in the Chember office for Village Christmas) was stationed in front of it.

Left: A Chili Cook-off Contest was held in front of the Cabins to Castles real estate office. Right: This float, with a snowman that could lean forward as if surfing, was created by the Montour Falls Fire Department.

Left: One of the many vendors in tents alongside Franklin Street. Right: This Santa's helper was found in the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce office, a locale that featured a number of vendors set up indoors.

The mural above was painted recently by artist Anna Pausch around a stone structure on the interior south wall at the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce office on Franklin Street, where various vendors were set up for Village Christmas. The mural is titled "The Wonders of Watkins Glen."

The "Reading Reading Project" shed, located behind the Reading Center Community Church. (Photo provided)

'Reading Reading Project' door is open

Special to The Odessa File

READING CENTER, Nov. 13, 2023 -- The Reading Center Community Church is inviting readers of all ages to visit its new book shed and to “take a book, leave a book.”

The “Reading Reading Project” was initiated by church member Lisa Harer, and the congregation organized rummage sales to start raising the necessary funds.

“We decided it would be nice to have a building that everyone in the community could use,” Pam Switzer, chairwoman of the church board, said.

But covid stalled the efforts until a small group of church members picked up the project again this past summer. The 16-foot by 12-foot shed behind the church, at the corner of Route 14A and Church Road, slow-opened in late September and early October.

Books collected for past rummage sales were meticulously sorted, and shelf signs made. Work on the shed itself was completed except for installing electricity and painting the porch, both tasks still on the to-do list, Switzer said.

“We’ve had a good time with it,” Switzer said, listing Pastor David Daniels, Albert and Charlene Root, and Don and Jeannette Foster as other volunteers.

The book shed is open 24 hours, year-round, and everyone is invited to visit, Switzer said. “Take a book, leave a book” is encouraged, but visitors don’t have to donate. And, if books are donated, Switzer wants donors to be selective. No dumping, please, she added.

Shed shelves and large bins are filled with popular fiction, children’s books, cookbooks, biographies, CDs and books about religion, health and wellness, self-help and travel.

“It’s wonderful,” Switzer said. “I just hope people use it.”

Photo in text: The shed's interior. (Photo provided)

Fr. Hanselman has role at 2 area churches

Special to The Odessa File

CATHARINE CORNERS, Nov. 10, 2023 -- St. James’ Episcopal Church of Watkins Glen and St. John’s Episcopal Church of Catharine have called up Father David Hanselman, Jr., as Priest-in-Charge of both Episcopal parishes in Schuyler County. Most recently, he served as Chenango District Dean, and as the Rector of three churches: St. Ann's in Afton, St. Paul's in Oxford, and Zion in Greene.

Father Hanselman was born in Newark, NY and grew up in the Finger Lakes, graduating from Waterloo Senior High School in 1987. He spent the next four years in the U.S. Army and then another four years in the Army Reserve as he worked on a bachelor's degree in Philosophy. During this time (1993), he married his wife, Sonja -- a 1989 graduate of Waterloo Senior High -- and joined the Episcopal Church, being married in June and baptized in August at St Paul's, Waterloo.

While his wife was establishing her career in law and financial planning, Father Hanselman worked in landscaping. Upon his wife's transfer to Atlanta in 1997, he began working on a PhD in Philosophy at the University of Georgia-Athens. Four years later, when they were given the opportunity to move anywhere in the country they wanted, they chose to move back to the Waterloo/Seneca Falls area to begin raising a family. At this time, they also found their way back to the Episcopal Church. Their first child, Sophia, was born in 2003 and Father Hanselman discovered he'd rather be a stay-at-home dad than a philosopher. So he stopped working on his dissertation -- a re-evaluation of mathematics from a Hegelian perspective -- and focused on being the best dad he could be.

The Spirit works its will and, eventually -- in early 2005, mere months before his son Noah was born -- Father Hanselman felt the strong pull toward ordination and began the discernment process. He graduated from seminary (St. Bernard's School of Theology in Rochester, NY) in May 2010.

Through the leadership of the Dean of Transition, Rev. Virginia Tyler Smith, and Episcopal Diocese of Rochester Bishop Provisional Stephen Lane, the two Schuyler parishes are continuing their missions to their communities.

St. James’ service in Watkins Glen is 10:45 a.m. at the corner of Sixth and Decatur Streets. St. John’s of Catharine's service is 8:45 a.m. at Catharine Corners (CR 14 &15).

Photo in text: Father David Hanselman, Jr. (Photo provided)

Firefighters battle Glen double-wide blaze

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Oct. 28, 2023 -- The Watkins Glen Fire Department was dispatched to 104 Lakeview Ave. in the Village of Watkins Glen at 7:43 a.m. Tuesday, October 25 for a reported structure fire with smoke and flames showing.

Chief Jason Hudson arrived on scene to find heavy smoke and flames showing from the southeast corner of the structure -- a single floor double-wide with no basement. Second alarm assignments were automatically dispatched, bringing in the Montour Falls Fire Department with a ladder truck and engine with manpower, the Burdett Fire Department with manpower, and the Dundee Fire Department with its Fast Team.

The Watkins Fire Department also had assistance from Schuyler County Emergency Management and the Watkins Glen Police Department.

"The home was vacant," Chief Hudson reported, "and a full 360 of the structure was done and an exterior fire suppression operation was instructed to all incoming departments. The WGFD engine arrived first and took the hydrant at Lakeview Avenue and Division Street. WGFD Ladder 29 came in off from West 2nd Street. A 1 3/4 hose line was deployed while the Ladder was setting up.

"The Ladder truck was utilized to put out the heavy fire load that was now coming through the roof. Incoming departments arrived on scene and assisted in putting out the fire. Once the fire was out, an interior crew and back-up crew were sent inside the structure to conduct a search for any victims. The search was completed with negative findings, and overhaul operations began. Once the fire was completely out, the Schuyler County Investigation Team started its investigations."

The on-scene time was from 7:48 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. The fire cause is still under investigation.

Photo in text: Flames shoot up through the roof at 104 Lakeview Ave. (Photo provided)

The area band known as Still Kickin' took the stage on Main Street at 4 p.m.

Falls Harvest Festival draws a crowd

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Oct. 7, 2023 -- The 16th Annual Falls Harvest Festival started with steady rain and a light turnout Saturday afternoon, but when the weather turned dry, a crowd of festival-lovers turned out in force in downtown Montour Falls.

This event offered a lineup of activities and entertainment for the whole family. Here were some highlights:

--Ghost walks at 12:30, 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. that provided a glimpse into the area's rich history.

--A marketplace featuring over 70 vendors offering a wide array of crafts, artisanal goods, and treats.

--The juggling, music and comedy of Nate the Great from 1-2 p.m. and 3-4 p.m.

--A performance from 2-3 p.m. by the Allegany River Indian Dancers, showcasing the cultural richness of our region.

--Live music, including the melodic tunes of "Still Kickin’," a local band known for its energetic performances. They took the stage from 4:00 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.

--Fireworks: As the sun set, a fireworks display lit up the sky above Shequaga Falls.

Photo in text: Juggler-musician-comedian Nate the Great performed twice at the festival.

Montour Falls' Main Street was busy Saturday afternoon at the Falls Harvest Festival.

Annual 5K held; supports Hector Lions Club

Special to The Odessa File

HECTOR, Sept. 19, 2023 -- With the sounds of harvesters echoing in the vineyards and the smell of concord grapes in the air, over 100 walkers and runners showed up Sunday to support the Hector Area Lions Club and participate in the 3rd Annual Hector Harvest 5K.

On a challenging course that wanders through the historic Dalrymple Farm Vineyards, carrying home the awards for the third consecutive year was overall male finisher Nathan Triner (17:20) and overall female finisher Leslie Dubrava (23:29).

Also notable: the next two top female finishers, Brianna Longino and Morgan Saks, and next two top male finishers, Jared Peters and Elliott Holland. Beyond the top three, the group leaders are listed below.

Women's Division top times included:
15-20 age group: Abby Gibson 44:19
21-30 age group: Sarah Swinnerton 28:30
31-40 age group: Molly Batrowny 28:22
41-50 age group: Jennifer Lampman 29:50
51-60 age group: Diana Crane 30:56
61-70 age group: Lisa Miller 51:01
70+ age group: June Szabo

In the Men's Division, top times included:
14 and Under age group: Theodore Cooper 23:25
15-20 age group: Wyatt Eaton 31:03
21-30 age group: Alexander Gibson 32:22
31-40 age group: Taylor Shellen 24:20
41-50 age group: John Robertson 23:03
51-60 age group: Rod Weeden 24:56
61-70 age group: Charles Fausold 30:16
70+ age group: Ronald Eaton 28:33

The race had significant local support from its "Platinum Sponsors," Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards, Dalrymple Farms, Dunkin Donuts and US Salt; "Gold Sponsors," Edger Enterprises of Elmira, Inc., Keller Williams Realty and Casella Solutions; as well as support from over 30 other local and regional businesses.

The Hector Area Lions Club is focused on serving its surrounding communities in the areas of service, vision, hunger, diabetes, cancer, and the environment. One hundred percent of the money raised in this event goes directly back into local communities.

Photos in text:

Top: The awards ceremony took place at the Hazlitt Oasis.
Middle: Kendra Shaw, left, and her mother Diana Crane (who won the 51-60 age group).
Bottom: Start of the race. (Photos provided)

Spectators along Franklin Street in downtown Watkins Glen watch cars passing by -- a highlight of the Grand Prix Festival.

Grand Prix Festival focus: the Corvette, with lots of eyes on the experimental '51 LeSabre

WATKINS GLEN, Sept. 8, 2023 -- The 30th Anniversary Watkins Glen Grand Prix Festival drew its expected large crowd and avoided any adverse weather Friday, a day that honored the Corvette and featured a GM prototype car from the 1950s.

The festival, a production of Watkins Glen Promotions and sponsored by the Chemung Canal Trust Company, featured many vintage and modern cars, with Corvettes as the centerpiece. Also prominent were some Lotuses and other makes, with motorcycles an added feature. Participating drivers in various lineups on Franklin Street toured the original 6.6-mile road course that meanders up and out of Watkins Glen to the hillside to the west, and then back into town again.

The prototype car, parked on the lawn in front of the Schuyler County Courthouse, is a LeSabre -- not a Buick; it preceded that particular make -- and is, according to the festival website, "a one-of-a-kind concept car built to specifications developed by General Motors Vice President Harley Earl in 1951." The body, made of aluminum, magnesium, and fiberglass, "is powered by a supercharged engine that can run on gasoline or methanol." It is privately owned and, according to word circulating at the festival, worth millions of dollars.

The website further explains: "Harley Earl brought this car to Watkins Glen in 1951, where he watched that year's Grand Prix of road racing on the original 6.6-mile course through the village and surrounding hills. Earl combined his interest in the foreign sports cars of that race with features of the LeSabre to develop the Corvette, which went into production in 1953."

Also parked on the courthouse lawn was an original 1953 Corvette, the 75th of 300 built in that first year of the car's production. Both the '53 Vette and the LeSabre were getting a lot of attention throughout the day.

Many racing-related vendors and popular food trucks and tents were on hand along Franklin Street, which was lined with spectators, many perched on chairs they brought with them to observe the passing parades of motor vehicles.

Also featured was a panel discussion at Lafayette Park where three veteran race fans and officials -- J.C. Argetsinger, historian Bill Green and Jim Scaptura -- discussed the 75 years of racing that began with a road race in 1948 that was the brainchild of Argetsinger's father, Cameron.

The weekend focus moves now to Watkins Glen International and vintage-car racing there -- part of the annual Hilliard U.S. Vintage Grand Prix Weekend.

Photos in text:

Top: The LeSabre concept car, built in 1951. It is privately owned.
Middle: Corvettes turn off of Franklin Street onto Rt. 329 during their tour of the original road course.
Bottom: A flagman waves motorcycles forward for a run along the original road course.

From left: Lafayette Park speakers J.C. Argetsinger, Bill Green and Jim Scaptura discuss the 75 years of racing in Watkins Glen.

Corvette drivers parked their cars in Lafayette Park after the Tour de Marque in which they traveled two laps on the original road course.

A wide portion of the 2.5-mile trail. This section might provide room for a rest area.

2.5-mile rail trail is nearing completion

ODESSA, Aug. 24, 2023 -- The past is prologue -- in this case being that local railroad history has led to a 2.5-mile walking, biking, horseback riding and snowmobile trail stretching from Brooklyn Terrace in Odessa all the way to Hayes Road overlooking Montour Falls.

Bruno Schickel, who owns a construction firm and is well versed in trail development, is a key piece in this particular story, which started with the Village of Odessa buying the 2.5-mile stretch, on 48.5 acres of land, for $35,000. Half of the cost was covered by the Finger Lakes Land Trust, and the rest by donations.

The idea, on the part of Village Mayor Gerry Messmer, was to clear the overgrown trail where once ran the Lehigh Valley Railroad. That rail service was opened back in the late 1800s, and lasted until the Lehigh Valley sold it in the mid-1970s to Conrail, which in turn decommissioned it in 1979. The rails and ties and spikes were removed, and the 2.5-mile patch through the woods was left to nature, which meant overgrowth -- which thickened across more than 40 years.

Once the land was acquired, Mayor Messmer was left with the quandary of what to do about clearing it all, a daunting and potentially costly task. Enter Bruno Schickel, who donated his time, his equipment and his effort, along with the effort of a couple of other workers -- an equipment operator named Steve Perry from Nick's Construction of Dryden, and John Palmer, a volunteer who lives in the La Bourgade housing development in Hector built, and owned, by Schickel.

After Messmer had looked around without success for a contractor, Schickel -- who has previous experience in trail development -- called him and offered his substantial services, which this summer has resulted in the clearing of the trail into a roadway, and the clearing (and in two cases rebuilding) of 24 culverts the railroad had installed so many decades ago to control the flow of water from the hillside overlooking the trail. And in a half-dozen cases, there are water drainage tunnels running under the rail bed.

Earlier this week, Schickel took the mayor and a reporter on a ride -- they were perched on the rear of his pickup truck -- along the full 2.5-mile run, which Schickel would like to see eventually extended to Burdett and on up through the Town of Hector, to its northernmost boundary. That would make the trail 16 miles long.

For now, he was concentrating on finishing work on the Odessa-to-Hayes Road run, with grading work among the tasks unfinished. There was also a plan to provide a parallel parking pull-off along Brooklyn Terrace, and possibly, in the future, some sort of rest or halfway facility far up the trail, where it widens from its normal 10-15 feet out to a couple of dozen feet.

"Unbelievable," said Messmer about the contributions of Schickel, who himself admitted a fascination with trail development -- and how it can contribute to the health of a community. "This will be mostly for local folks," he said. "They'll come up here and maybe walk a mile in, and then back. And that's great." It will also be catnip for horse lovers (like the mayor, who with his wife owns and rides a couple of horses) looking for a suitable trail. And come winter, snowmobilers should be flocking to it.

One of the trail's attractions will be key spots looking west, down into the valley near and in Montour Falls. Those views are largely blocked by trees right now, but judicious clearing will open up the vistas -- a bonus to the hiker or biker passing by.

A grand opening celebration is being planned for sometime this fall. Mayor Messmer said he wants to see the trail's guru suitably honored by adoption of a name: The Bruno Schickel Trailhead.

Photos in text:

Top: Bruno Schickel at the mouth of a 40-foot tunnel designed to drain potentially destructive water underneath and beyond the rail trail
Middle: Steve Perry of Nick's Construction, recruited by Bruno Schickel, works at the Odessa end of the trail, knocking down a slender tree.
Bottom: Schickel with volunteer helper John Palmer on the trail.

Bruno Schickel looking down at a drainage area alongside the trail, including a tunnel.

A view from the trail, looking down at the Village of Montour Falls and surrounding area.

Water from a creek, left, and mud pour into the west side of the US Salt plant on July 9. The red dumpster floated away, stopping short of reaching the lake on the far side of the facility.

At the scene of a rain-induced disaster, officials discuss how to prevent recurrence

Overflowing creeks flooded US Salt on July 9th, causing $2.3 million in damage

WATKINS GLEN, Aug. 15, 2023 -- When the rains came on July 9th along the southwestern shoreline of Seneca Lake, they brought with them runaway creeks with all of their mud and debris, overwhelming natural and manmade barriers and flooding the US Salt Plant at the end of Salt Point Road.

It also inflicted thousands of dollars of damage to the nearby Tiki Bar, and took out soil underpinnings of the rail line running alongside the lake, leaving it in disrepair and temporary disuse.

All of that mess has since been cleaned up, with the rail line use restored, but it leaves the unsettling question: What if it happens again?

On Tuesday, the US Salt plant's VP of Operations, Paul Clifford, hosted a roundtable of government officials and led a tour of the plant, outlining the damage that occurred -- estimated at $2,367,110. And that doesn't count the cost that the plant -- owned by Emerald Lake Capital and employing about 160 -- faces in eventually upgrading the defenses that might be adopted in keeping with environmental regulations and built with the help of the Army Corps of Engineers.

On hand at Tuesday's session were Congressman Nick Langworthy, Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, Schuyler County Legislator Jim Howell, recently named interim County Administrator Shawn Rosno, and Schuyler County Emergency Services Director Kirk Smith.

With everyone seated in a US Salt conference room, Clifford guided them through the night the storm hit, presenting photos and video of the onrushing water and mud that forced its way into the plant, forcing the evacuation of all but personnel critical to its operation. Production took a hit that night and the next couple of days, but resumed on July 11th. Cleanup began on the 10th. On the 14th, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, State Police, Schuyler County Emergency Services, State Senator Tom O'Mara and Assemblyman Palmesano visited, setting in motion what the plant hopes will be eventual approval by DEC of creek repair work and a concomitant construction by the Army Corps of Engineers of a wall defense, an improved drainage and a way, perhaps, to direct flood waters past the plant and into the lake.

By July 24th, cleanup was essentially complete, and the plant was back to a nearly full-bore production of 1,100 tons of salt a day. The plant produces mostly food-grade salt, although there is some produced for water softener pellets.

Nobody at the plant, including a 50-year employee, recalls anything like the July 9th flood ever happening there before. It was a hopefully singular event, one where heavy rain -- about three inches in a little over an hour -- swelled a couple of creeks running through the western hills overlooking Seneca Lake. According to Emergency Services Director Smith, a large part of the problem was fallen trees and other debris upstream, upending the creeks' natural flow. Stream maintenance will be key, he said, to future prevention, something he has discussed with DEC.

"Nobody saw this coming," said Clifford, a veteran of 37 years in the salt business, including the last four at US Salt. He served Cargill for many years before that.

But now, having seen that this can happen, "we just want to make sure it doesn't impact US Salt again," he said. "And we want to do it by coexisting with the creeks," with nature.

There is, then, a twofold goal. While discussion touched briefly on the possibility of government grants to offset the plant's monetary loss in damages -- US Salt sustained damage to inventory, to a long wall on the west side of the facility, to equipment, to automated machines, and to an overhead door, and saw a resultant loss in sales -- the talk veered in short order to discussion of the role of the DEC and the Army Corps, of how the one studying the environmental impact of changes will lead to clearance, everyone hoped, of a system of damage prevention, of retaining walls and flow control.

As part of his pre-tour presentation, Clifford listed goals for "long-term prevention" of flooding:

--"Identify with the NYS DEC a frequency for creek dredging."
--"Design with the help of a structural engineer a new 'sea wall' that can hold the creek within its banks until it is beyond the facility."
--"Install additional storm drains and storm water capturing devices to divert waters away from the facility."

In the end -- after a tour of the plant, each participant wearing a hair net, hard hat and protective glasses -- the officials on hand seemed of the same mind: to keep in touch on the state level with DEC, on the federal level with the Army Corps, and with each other.

Then, down the road in the not-too-distant future, they hoped, something can be done to prevent anything like July 9th's nature-born disaster from happening again.

Photos in text: From top: The creek that overflowed on the night of July 9th; a drawbridge between two buildings, which is several feet above a rail bed but was covered by water in the flooding (Emergency Services Director Kirk Smith is pictured crossing it); Congressman Nick Langworthy, left, observes an automated operation; and some of the mud that invaded the plant the night of the storm. (Last photo provided)

US Salt plant official Paul Clifford, second from left, talks to (from left) Schuyler County Administrator Shawn Rosno, Congressman Nick Langworthy and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano near the end of the plant tour.

The Italian-American Festival vendor lane, full of stands with a wide variety of foods. (Photo by Jon Haeffner)

Italian-American Festival opens at Clute

WATKINS GLEN, Aug. 11, 2023 -- The annual Watkins Glen Italian-American Festival opened Friday at Clute Park in Watkins Glen, and continues through Sunday.

Hours are 12 noon to 11 p.m. Saturday, and 12 noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. A parade down Decatur Street from the high school to Fifth Street is scheduled at noon Saturday, with fireworks over Seneca Lake at 9:30 p.m. Saturday.

Here are a few photos from the first day of the festival.

Photo in text:

A popular stop at the festival Friday was the Tanglewood Nature Center stand, where a worker showed visitors creatures like a turtle and, here, a ball python.

Large bubbles created by mixing Big Bubble Powder, water and dish soap were popular at the festival, down near the Seneca Lake shoreline.

Left: One of the many food stands at the Italian-American Festival. Right: This slide was popular among the kids attending the festival.

Among the festival-goers was Carly Arnold, a recent Watkins Glen High School graduate.

Veterans for Schuyler receives $500 from Mechanics Club to help the county's vets

MONTOUR FALLS, Aug. 8, 2023 -- The Mechanics Club in Montour Falls donated $500 Tuesday to the Veterans for Schuyler organization, a non-profit founded in 2022 to help veterans in Schuyler County in need of emergency funding.

The Veterans for Schuyler group, spearheaded by Stacey Parrish, seeks donations and fund-raises to provide money for the county's population of veterans -- for such things as (but not limited to) medical bills, utilities, and rent or mortgage expenses.

Parrish, thanking the Mechanics Club for its generosity, said such benevolence is what fuels the Veterans for Schuyler's 10-person board and its various volunteers as they strive to give back to veterans for their service to the country.

"I always felt the need," said Parrish, "to establish an organization to support the veterans." Serving as her vice president is veteran Kristine Gardner, a Schuyler County Veterans Services representative.

The Veterans for Schuyler meets the second Tuesday of each month at the Mechanics Club "to go over applications and fund-raising opportunities," said Parrish. "We want to let veterans know we're here." An applicant must be a veteran located in Schuyler County.

The Mechanics Club has over the years donated tens of thousands of dollars to youth and charity organizations.

Those wishing to apply for funding assistance from the Veterans for Schuyler may visit the Schuyler County Veterans office at the Human Services Complex, 323 Owego St. in Montour Falls, Catholic Charities of Schuyler at 105 Ninth Street, Unit 20 in Watkins Glen, or Cabins to Castles Real Estate at 317 N. Franklin St. in Watkins Glen.

The Veterans for Schuyler president, Stacey Parrish, may be reached at SLParrish99@gmail.com or 607-351-7425. The vice president, Kristine Gardner, may be reached at KGardner@co.schuyler.ny.us or at 607-215-3422.

Donations can be dropped off at the Chemung Canal Trust Company, where Veterans for Schuyler maintains an account.

Photo in text: Back from left, Mechanics Club members Mary Ellen Croft (trustee), Glenn VanGalder (trustee), Doug Habbershaw (Vice President), Brian Croft (President), and Richard Croft (trustee). Front from left, Veterans for Schuyler board members Angie Benjamin, Stacey Parrish (President), Stacy Pike, Kristine Gardner (Vice President) and Amy Smith.

Glen Chamber unveils its award nominees

WATKINS GLEN, July 21, 2023 -- The Watkins Glen Chamber of Commerce, at its Summer Rendezvous at Clute Park on July 20, announced the nominees for its Schuyler Tributes honors. The awards recognize Endurance, Resiliency and Entrepreneurship as well as the contributions of one individual to the prosperity of the region during 2022.

Winners will be determined by a poll open to members of the Chamber and the public through Aug. 18. To cast a vote, click here.

The winners will be announced on August 23 at the Schuyler Tributes Awards Luncheon (sponsored by Schuyler Hospital) held from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at the Seneca Lake Events Center in Clute Park.

The categories and their nominees:

Endurance in Business: The nominees exemplify four criteria -- ten years+ of operation, participation in initiatives that make a positive impact in our community, fostering a workplace culture of excellence and inclusivity, and recognition of philanthropic contributions to the regional economy. These Chamber members are:

--Seneca Lodge
--Wagner Vineyards
--Corning Credit Union
--Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards

Award for Resiliency: This recognizes demonstrated strength to quickly and creatively pivot when necessary as well as perseverance and an ability to adapt to trends and challenges.
These Chamber members are:

--My Place: A Play & Learning Center
--Windmill Craft & Farm Market
--The Arc of Chemung-Schuyler
--Seneca Sunrise Coffee
--Humane Society of Schuyler County

Best New Business: These nominees have been in operation for less than three years, made an immediate, positive impact in our community as well as demonstrated ingenuity and an entrepreneurial drive to succeed. These Chamber members are:

--Pangea Global Teahouse
--Hop Notch Brewing Co.
--Falling Waters Boat Tours
--Finger Lakes RV Resort
--Glen Beacon Theater
--Willenaway Bed & Breakfast

Schuyler Samaritan Award: This is presented to an individual who is a vocal champion for positive change in the region, exudes an appreciation for our unique scenic beauty and natural resources and advocates for inclusion, diversity, and equity in Schuyler County. These individuals are:

--Margaret (Peggy) Scott
--Michaela Christensen
--Charlie Haeffner
--Brett Chedzoy
--Ben Stamp

About the Chamber: The Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce supports and advocates more than 450 members by advancing economic vitality through promotion and education. Its vision is to advance the Watkins Glen area as a premier destination that intertwines its unique scenic beauty with economic diversity and prosperity.

Down at the pier

Marti Dense recently snapped this photo -- which she described as being taken on "a picture perfect summer day" -- from the shoreline at Seneca Harbor Park in Watkins Glen, looking out at the Seneca Harbor Pier. (Photo by Marti Dense)

Tburg theater troupe to present Spamalot

TRUMANSBURG, July 10, 2023 -- The Encore Players Community Theatre will present the musical "Monty Python's Spamalot" from July 27-30 and August 3-6 in the Arena Theatre at 9706 Congress Street Extension, Trumansburg.

The play, with book and lyrics by Eric Idle, and music by John Du Prez and Eric Idle, will be presented each weekend with Thursday-Saturday performances at 7 p.m., and a Sunday matinee at 3 p.m. Tickets are $23 and can be purchased at www.encoreplayers.org and www.eventbrite.com. All tickets are online pre-sale and none will be sold at the door.

Set in a surreal version of 12th-century England, this multiple Tony Award-winning musical is “lovingly ripped off” from the classic film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The story follows the adventures of King Arthur, his loyal servant Patsy, and his band of gallant knights as they bungle through a quest, along the way encountering dancing divas, flying cows, unusual rabbits, supercilious French people and a mysterious Lady of the Lake.

Directed by Anne Bialke with music direction by Alice Ploss and choreography by Nancy Kane, the show delivers a slew of uproarious song-and-dance numbers. Kane, who has a PhD in dance from NYU and has directed numerous musical theater and dance programs, says that what makes the dancing in this show fun is that audiences won’t be able to guess what’s coming next. “The joy of the dancing in this show is like the joy of Monty Python's comedy: the unexpected, the non sequitur, and the juxtaposition of different styles of performance genres create comic moments.”

Though many of the more than two dozen cast members didn’t have much prior dance training, with the help of dance captain Maren Friedman, Kane has turned Encore’s Spamalot into a show full of show-stopping moments.

The production’s live music will be performed by a 12-member orchestra.

This year marks Encore Players Community Theatre’s 10th season of entertaining Trumansburg area audiences. A non-profit organization, the Encore Players' mission is to provide a venue for people of all ages to participate in the rewarding experience of theater. For more information, including how to get involved in upcoming productions, go to www.encoreplayers.org and follow the group on Facebook@Encore Players Community Theatre and on Instagram@encoreplayerstheatre.

Photo in text: Cast members of Monty Python's Spamalot strike a pose. (Provided)

Retired Schuyler County Judge J.C. Argetsinger, right, visits with Ed Clute at the party.

Friends throw birthday party for Ed Clute

WATKINS GLEN, June 27, 2023 -- More than 40 friends and admirers of Watkins Glen pianist extraordinaire Ed Clute gathered at Seneca Lodge Tuesday afternoon to surprise him with a party on his 80th birthday.

Clute, blind since birth and a pianist beginning at the age of 3, was transported to the party by friend Jeanne Klaiber of Portland, Maine, who explained that she met him a couple of years ago while he was performing in the area, and visits him regularly.

She brought him in the rear door of Seneca Lodge to the bar area, where his well-wishers greeted him with a rendition of "Happy Birthday" -- indeed catching him off-guard.

"It was a complete surprise," Ed said after visiting with a number of his friends, one by one, at a corner table. "I want to say how much I appreciate everybody. Thank you so much. I'm grateful and I love you all."

The party was the brainchild of Clute friends Bill Pylypciw and Ken Wilson, who came up with the idea during a January walk in a snowstorm.

Pylypciw, who said he has been close to Ed for 10 years, called him "a Watkins Glen treasure who brings lots of joy with his music."

Other compliments were issued in brief remarks by:

-- Philly DeSarno, whose grandfather worked for the Clute family until he was 90.

-- Retired County Judge J.C. Argetsinger, who has known Ed most of his life and told his friend, "You should see this crowd, Ed. You really should."

-- Dom Franzese, who called Ed "a true professional"; and

-- Watkins Glen Mayor Laurie DeNardo, who called Ed "a gift."

Ed, for decades a performer at area entertainment sites, then agreed to do what he does best: he played the piano for his friends, starting with a lively rendition of Sweet Georgia Brown and then joining with The Boogie Woogie Girls -- Kathy Gill and Mia Wise -- as the two sang Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.

The women had performed with Ed in the past on Seneca Lake cruises, but haven't done so in years. No matter; they had the room rocking with their lively vocals.

Beyond that, there was another compelling solo by Ed, then a cake to be cut and consumed, and good will all around.

Said Bill Pylypciw, summing it up: "Ed's a great guy and we love him. We wanted to let him know."

Photos in text:

Top: Ed Clute performs Sweet Georgia Brown at the party.
Middle: The Boogie Woogie Girls -- Kathy Gill, center, and Mia Wise -- perform with Ed Clute accompanying.
Bottom: The celebratory cake.

April Ruda keeps paddling as her boat sinks in the first straightaway. She soon abandoned the boat and swam the remaining distance to the finish line, earning the Best Sinking award.

Watkins Waterfront Festival, Cardboard Boat Regatta draw crowd to Harbor Park

WATKINS GLEN, June 17, 2023 -- The 30th annual Watkins Glen Waterfront Festival -- highlighted by its Cardboard Boat Regatta -- drew a large crowd and favorable weather Saturday at Seneca Harbor Park.

The festival, featuring food vendors, a children's activity area and live music, attracted its usual large turnout lining the shoreline of the park, packing the pier and stretching out along the breakwall.

As usual, several boats failed to float the full length of the course, a U-shaped layout starting from the shore, going out just short of the breakwater, moving west along that barrier, and then south to a finish line. After that, each boat was lifted from the water, an exercise complicated by a gusting wind that brought in churning waves.

A judging panel viewed each of the day's 30 entries -- boats made of cardboard, duct tape, paint and occasional accoutrements like shark fins or pirates' flags -- and issued a list of winners afterward. They follow:

Fastest Time Single Crew: Aqua Voyager (Captain: Israel Rubio)
Fastest Time Elapsed Overall Adult Class: First to the Fight (Captain: Joshua Farrell)
Fastest Kids Boat (12 and Under): Furies (Captain: Connor Yaple-Lilly)
Fastest Teen Boat (13-18): Marine Meltdown (Captain: John Bruning)
Don Brubaker Best Construction: First to the Fight (Captain: Joshua Farrell)
Best Sinking, Sponsored by Casella Waste Systems: April (Captain: April Ruda)
Best Boat Name: Gimme Samoa dat Boat (Captain: Thin Minty)
Best Theme, Sponsored by NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities: Shark Bait (Captain: Dale Stevens)
William Croft Most Patriotic Award: VSSS FFF (Captain: David Herrman)
People’s Choice: Cayuga Health Weathering the Storm (Captain: Dr. Ben Saks)
Committee’s Choice: Gimme Samoa Dat Boat (Captain: Thin Minty)

Photos in text:

Top: The 4 Minute cardboard boat captained by Eric Robinson runs into trouble short of the finish line.
Bottom: Among the regatta judges were the Chamber of Commerce's Abby Lane, left, and Caitlin Cheney.

The crew of the Miller Time craft, captained by Michael Battaglini, celebrates upon crossing the finish line next to the pier.

A celebratory check for $20,000 was presented June 14 by the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel to the Schuyler Health Foundation. From left: Nancy Hart, wife of Hart Hotels President and CEO David Hart; Mr. Hart; Harbor Hotel General Manager Carolyn Guyer; Harbor Hotel Director of Sales Marissa Brace; Schuyler Health Foundation Executive Director Kim Sprague; and Frank Towner, Cayuga Medical Center Gift Officer.

Hotel donates $20,000 in Ice Bar proceeds to the Schuyler Health Foundation

WATKINS GLEN, June 14, 2023 -- A total of $20,000 in proceeds from the annual Ice Bar -- formally the Fire & Ice Celebration -- at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel have been donated to the Schuyler Health Foundation.

A celebratory presentation took place Wednesday at the Harbor Hotel with hotel and foundation officials on hand along with some of the Ice Bar volunteers. Keynote speaker was David Hart, president and CEO of Hart Hotels.

Mr. Hart recounted how the hotel has been providing donations from the Ice Bar proceeds since 2011, directing them for years to the regional chapter of the Red Cross. That first year, the donation was $3,000. It has grown consistently since then, to the point where more than $250,000 has now been disbursed over the years.

"It's become a monumental event," Hart said of the Ice Bar, which is a three-night party in late January or early February featuring ice sculptures (including sculpted ice bars) on the hotel patio, and locally sourced foods, wines and beers in the hotel ballroom. Two other Hart Hotels, in other New York communities, also hold Ice Bars.

The Schuyler Health Foundation, which Hart said "helps Schuyler Hospital (part of the Cayuga Health family) deliver on its mission," became the donation recipient last year, when it was given $15,000.

Photo in text: David Hart, president and CEO of Hart Hotels, was present for the ceremony.

Life jacket loaner trees add to boating safety

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, June 11, 2023 -- The Finger Lakes Chapter of America's Boating Club (ABC-FLX) is helping to ensure a safe water experience for area residents and visitors to Seneca Lake with two life jacket trees in Watkins Glen.

The structures are at the Clute Park boat launch on the canal and at the park’s kayak and canoe launch at the southeast end of the lake. They hold life jackets of all sizes that may be borrowed and returned at no cost. The boating safety project was launched in 2019.

Programs such as offering life jackets for loan are crucial to boating safety, said Phil Cherry, commander for ABC-FLX, formerly known as the Seneca Sail and Power Squadron.

The boating club, based in Watkins Glen, also is committed to promoting boating safety through offering a wide variety of classes in person, on the water and online, Cherry said.

“Anyone interested in joining the club is welcome,” he said. “Please check out our website for a list of current and future boating education classes and to see how you can get involved.”

For more information about America’s Boating Club-Finger Lakes Chapter, go to www.abc-flx.org or Facebook at “America’s Boating Club–Finger Lakes Chapter.”

America’s Boating Club is the nation’s largest non-profit boating organization, with nearly 30,000 members in more than 350 clubs. The local chapter of the United States Power Squadrons boasts members from across the Finger Lakes Region who enjoy their time on the water in vessels ranging from kayaks to power boats to sailboats. Boat ownership is not a membership requirement.

Photo in text: This free life jacket loaner tree is located at the Clute Park kayak and canoe launch in Watkins Glen, at the southeast end of Seneca Lake. A second tree is located at the Clute Park boat launch on the canal. The Finger Lakes Chapter of America’s Boating Club started the boating safety project in 2019. (Photo provided)

Members of the Addison High School Marching Band -- the Knights -- make their way along Main Street.

Montour Falls holds its annual parade

MONTOUR FALLS, June 10, 2023 -- The 65th annual Montour Falls Firemen's Parade marched down main street Saturday afternoon, featuring police cars, fire trucks, marching bands, antique vehicles, floats, tractors, and members of youth sports leagues.

The parade, a highlight of the three-day firemen's festival held on the carnival grounds mere blocks away, included fire department personnel and trucks from Montour Falls, Watkins Glen, Odessa, Lansing, Valois Logan Hector, East Campbell, Beaver Dams, Interlaken, Millport, Mecklenburg, Dundee, Hammondsport, Burdett, Enfield, Tyrone, Trumansburg, Romulus and West Danby.

Marching bands included the Montour Falls Fire Department "Swamp Stompers"; the Addison High School Band; the Towpath Volunteers Fife & Drum Corps from Macedon; the Caledonian Highlanders Bag Pipers; and the Prattsburgh High School Marching Band.

Main Street was lined with spectators on both sides, enjoying a warm, sunny day. Many adjourned afterward to the festival grounds, where the last of three days of carnival fun -- rides, games, food and music -- was underway.

Photos in text:

Top: A century-old Montour Falls Fire Department fire truck -- the first mechanized vehicle in the village.
Bottom: Bill Christoffels, driving a 1977 MGB, is greeted by parade emcee Jim Howell.

Members of the Montour Falls Fire Department's marching band parade on Main Street.

Left: A young member of the Towpath Volunteers Fife & Drum Corps from Macedon. Right: Parade emcee Jim Howell greets J.C. and Joan Argetsinger in their 1966 Mustang.

Parade judging was done by three women, here joined by Evvie Zinger, left, seated next to her mother, Tiffany. Seated next to Tiffany is Linda Confer, with Diane Bond at right.

The Fab Foure, a group of area musicians, performed British pop and rock music, reflecting the British origin of the Red Phone Booth.

Chamber celebrates its Red Phone Booth

WATKINS GLEN, June 7, 2023 -- The Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce celebrated the completed renovation of its Red Phone Booth with a party Wednesday at the Chamber's Downtown Visitor Center in Watkins Glen, at 214 N. Franklin St. The phone booth is located in front of the Visitor Center.

This local Watkins Glen landmark has been in the area since the early 1990s, when a local businessman bought the booth in Buffalo to complement his British-style pub restaurant.

Originally located in front of the Rooster Fish Pub for years, the phone booth -- which was constructed in Great Britain in the 1930s -- went up for sale in 2022 when the owner sold the building and business. The Chamber stepped in to save the booth and keep it in the Watkins Glen community.

With assistance from the Village of Watkins Glen, the phone booth was relocated across the street to its current location. An extensive renovation included cleaning, painting, and using authentic replacement parts shipped from Britain for the most authentic restoration possible. The final touches were placed on the booth this week, with the painting of the royal crowns adorning each side of the booth in glimmering gold.

The phone booth -- which no longer contains an actual phone -- stands instead as an information center and selfie spot for those exploring the area. It holds brochures and flyers about the Watkins Glen region.

The festivities Wednesday included live British pop and rock hits, libations from Lucky Hare Brewing and Atwater Vineyards, and Gin and Tonic Cocktail samples from Finger Lakes Distilling. British fare was provided by Pangea Global Teahouse, along with a unique coffee blend from Seneca Sunrise Coffee. There was also an antique phone display courtesy of the Pattersonville Telephone Co. The Chamber paused the party to hold a ribbon cutting.

Photos in text:

Top: The interior of the phone booth holds informational brochures and flyers for visitors to Watkins Glen.

Bottom: The historic phone booth sits now in front of the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center in downtown Watkins Glen. (Photo provided)

Flag flies over former Gen. Mulford home

MONTOUR FALLS, May 31, 2023 -- The raising of a new flag above a sprawling lawn in the southern part of this village was well-timed. It was on Memorial Day weekend.

The 20-by-30-foot vinyl flag was purchased by property owner Jeff Confer from a southern firm -- a significant-sized flag to top a significant-sized flagpole nearly 100 feet in height.

The pole, standing for years without the mechanisms needed to raise and lower a flag, was equipped with those items recently by Jeff's son Cayden and Silverline Construction's Murray Kelly, using a rented crane. They first painted the pole black.

The property, purchased by Jeff 15 years ago, was once the home of Civil War Brigadier General John E. Mulford long after that conflict had concluded. Mulford, known as a confidante and friend of Abraham Lincoln, died in Montour Falls at the age of 79 in October 1908 and was buried in Montour Cemetery.

Photo in text: The new flag, shown flying over Jeff Confer's property on Memorial Day.

Jeff and Linda Confer's home, located near the flagpole. The house was once owned by Civil War General John E. Mulford, who is buried in Montour Cemetery.

Corvettes turn onto Route 329 from Franklin Street in Watkins Glen -- the start of their tour of the old Watkins race circuit. Well over 100 Corvettes toured it.

Corvettes line Franklin, tour old circuit

WATKINS GLEN, May 21, 2023 -- The inaugural Corvette Festival concluded its two-day run in Watkins Glen Sunday -- with more than 100 such vehicles taking a tour of the old Watkins race circuit in the hills above the village.

The day saw speeches by former Schuyler County Judge J.C. Argetsinger, whose father Cameron played a pivotal role in the start of racing at Watkins Glen; by Richard Earl, grandson of the man who designed the Corvette (Harley Earl, inspired to do so by a 1951 visit to Watkins); and by Tony Vickio, who conceived the idea of the festival a year ago and oversaw its development by "my team; without them this couldn't have happened."

The festival, beset by rain Saturday afternoon that forced the early exodus of almost 150 Corvettes from Clute Park -- where they were on display -- was graced on Sunday by sunshine and temperatures reaching to 70. Vickio said plans call for the festival -- which had 191 Corvette owners register to participate (some on one day and some on both) -- to be an annual event.

The cars and the weather brought out many spectators in what was in essence a prelude to the 30th annual Watkins Glen Grand Prix Festival on Sept. 8, where the Corvette will be celebrated.

Photo in text: Festival organizer Tony Vickio, left, and Richard Earl, grandson of the man who designed the Corvette. Mr. Earl, who also spoke at a dinner Saturday night at the Watkins Glen Community Center, praised Vickio for his civic activities.

Corvettes lined Franklin Street before the tour of the old race circuit -- and spectators turned out in force to watch on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Some of the nearly 150 Corvettes at Clute Park were lined up along the Seneca shoreline.

Corvettes take center stage at Clute Park

WATKINS GLEN, May 20, 2023 -- Nearly 150 Corvettes were lined up and on display Saturday at Clute Park for the first day of the inaugural two-day Corvette Festival.

The festival, planned as an annual event, is celebrating the car inspired by 1951 races in Watkins Glen observed by GM engineer and Corvette designer Harley Earl. Two years later, the vehicle made its first appearance at the Glen.

Clute Park was alive Saturday with spectators examining the cars and interacting with car owners in the morning and well into the afternoon, before a rainstorm prompted an early exodus from the park.

Mr. Earl's grandson Richard was to speak Saturday evening at the Watkins Glen Community Center on the car's history. Then, on Sunday, registrants were slated to line their cars along Franklin Street in the village and drive the vehicles on the original Watkins road course in the hills above the village.

The festival is a prelude to the 30th annual Watkins Glen Grand Prix Festival on Sept. 8, where the Corvette will be celebrated.

Photo in text: Schuyler County Legislator Jim Howell had his 1979 Stingray on display at Clute Park. He said he has owned it for 23 years, but driven it less than 5,000 miles.

Corvette Festival T-shirts were on sale in the Seneca Lake Events Center at Clute Park. Some of the festival cars were on display in front of the Center, with others on the lawn to the east.

Photos from the Southwest by Liz Fraboni

Special to
The Odessa File

Watkins Glen photographer Liz Fraboni -- a regular contributor to these pages years ago and still snapping stunning pictures -- visited the United States' southwest recently and returned with some images that she forwarded to this website.

They are presented at right and below -- a sharp and beautiful look at that portion of the country.











--Photos by Liz Fraboni--

A portion of the former Clifford Motors complex was leveled Tuesday morning. (This photo was provided by John Juhasz)

Demolition starts on old Clifford Motors site
as plans develop for a new IMRRC facility

WATKINS GLEN, May 2, 2023 -- Demolition began Tuesday on the former Clifford Motors building complex, which will be replaced by a facility built by the International Motor Racing Research Center (IMRRC). There is no timeline for that new construction.

A section of building on the north side of the Clifford complex -- the property, along North Franklin Street at the intersection with Second Street, was recently purchased by the IMRRC from Doug Thayer -- was knocked down Tuesday morning by Swarthout Recycling, which found utilities had not yet been turned off. Accordingly, a lineman was tending to the electricity shutoff at a pole to the rear of the property.

Demolition, a Swarthout spokesman said, will resume Friday, with a leveling first of the red brick structure in the southeast corner, clearing space on the property for demolition of those portions of the complex at the property’s rear. The spokesman said the complex consisted of an original building and add-ons.

He said he wasn’t sure whether the demolition would be completed Friday.

He also noted that the building was structurally unsound -- that the front wall of the section leveled Tuesday fell of its own accord when it came time for a shove by the demolition equipment. Judy McKinney Cherry, executive director of the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development, said the structural instability was determined back when the village was undergoing a Downtown Revitalization Initiative process.

When asked if there were any issues with a possible brownfield on the property, given its history of motor vehicle work there, Cherry said the "vast majority" had been cleaned up over the past few years.

The site -- according to IMRRC plans -- will serve as home to a new, still-in-the-planning stages building that will serve as a “much needed expansion” for the Racing Center, according to its executive director, Mark Steigerwald. The IMRRC’s primary home has been on South Decatur Street for years in space rented from the Watkins Glen Public Library.

Steigerwald said the building plans, in development by an architectural firm in Rochester, will provide flexibility for the Center to expand the public’s access to the world of motor sports, with interactive exhibits, a history of Watkins Glen and the importance of motor sports to that history, and with enough space for displays involving up to perhaps a dozen cars -- where the current site has space for one and maybe two. “We want to take advantage of technology” in any exhibits, he noted, “to make motor sports bigger than life.”

The IMRRC, he said, will “for the foreseeable future” continue to occupy its current home, and “in theory” might occupy both the current one and whatever is built on Franklin Street. Steigerwald hesitated to call the new structure a museum, although he admitted that under current plans “it starts to feel like a museum, doesn’t it?”

He said the Rochester firm developing those plans has been asked to produce artists’ renderings of them, with an eye toward a future press release announcing the Racing Center intentions. The plan, however, “is still open to design revisions.”

“There is no time line” on construction, Steigerwald added. “The demolition was the first thing.” Also possibly in the offing is a $2 million Restore NY grant for which an application has been submitted.

Whenever the new facility is completed, said SCOPED’s Cherry, having new, “active space that people can visit will be really good for the Racing Center and for the community.”

Photos in text:

Top: Swarthout Recycling workers erect fencing around the Clifford site. A spokesman said they planned to resume demolition on Friday.

Middle: The demoliton permit, made out to IMRRC Executive Director Mark Steigerwald.

Bottom: A lineman works on shutting off electricity to the Clifford site.

Some of the old Clifford Motors complex was yet to be demolished. The property is owned by the International Motor Racing Research Center.

Down by the canal

These photos were sent along by Michelle Congdon. She snapped the one on the left near the water treatment plant along the canal off of Seneca Lake, while the one on the right was captured "right by the 4th Street Bridge" in Watkins Glen, says Michelle. (See lower on this page for an eagle photo by Marti Bianco Dense.)



WATKINS GLEN, April 2, 2023 -- This photo of an eagle nesting down by the canal off of Seneca Lake -- near the Yacht Club -- was snapped recently by Marti Bianco Dense.

The Cowardly Lion, in a burst of bravado, makes his first appearance, attacking and startling the Scarecrow, left, and the Tin Man.

The Wizard of Oz ends 3-day run at WGHS

Photos in story are from Friday night. See some photos from Saturday night and Sunday below.

WATKINS GLEN, March 26, 2023 -- The "Wizard of Oz" -- a musical presented by the Watkins Glen High School Class of 2023 -- was performed for the third and final time Sunday afternoon before an enthusiastic audience in the WGHS Auditorium.

The show, presented both Friday and Saturday nights, as well, was a brisk (less than two-hour) production full of talented singers and entertaining dance routines.

Students from the 5th to 12th grades rehearsed beginning in January, immersing themselves in the well-known tale of Dorothy's adventures “Over the Rainbow.” Along the way, she meets the Munchkins on the other end of the rainbow, travels the Yellow Brick Road with the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion, tangles with the Wicked Witch of the West, and ultimately makes her way back home from Oz with the help of a Wizard. This MUNY edition of the play included the original song, “Evening Star,” along with some unique characters and a number of dance numbers in various styles.

Michelle and Tim Benjamin of Montour Falls directed, with Sarah Matthews as Music Director. Renee Riley was Munchkin Director, and Costume Directors were Heather Scott, Amanda Wood and Sarah Sutherland.

Dorothy Gale, played by Sarah Schaffner, shared her travels with the Scarecrow (played by Ann Roney,) the Tin Man (played by Nicholas Brusso), and the Lion (played by Kai Lees).

Menacing them along the way was the Wicked Witch, played by Kay Davis. Playing multiple roles, singing and dancing were Trinity Depree, Aurora Scott, Kaylin Smith, Norah Stegner, Calliondra Tohafjian, and Natalie VanSkiver.

Playing Munchkins were 5th and 6th graders Sam Austic, Lily Elliott, Aubree Rudy, Piper Smith, Ava Stackhouse, Rowen Stegner, Annabelle Thompson, Robby Tremblay, McKenzie Wheaton and Kira Wilson.

The producer was Sam Brubaker, and the show was presented by the Watkins Glen High School Class of 2023, by arrangement with Concord Theatricals on behalf of Tams Witmark, LLC.

Photos in text:

Top: The Wicked Witch (Kay Davis) chases the Mayor of the Munchkins (Natalie VanSkiver) while breaking up a gathering of the Munchkins.
Bottom left: The great and powerful Wizard of Oz (Kaylin Smith), left, is unveiled as merely human.
Bottom right: Dorothy (Sarah Schaffner), right, leads a group rendition of the song "Over the Rainbow."

From Sunday afternoon:

Left: The Wicked Witch (Kay Davis) melts in her cauldron. Right: The Tin Man (Nicholas Brusso) and the Scarecrow (Ann Roney) support a wobbly Lion (Kai Lees).

Left: The first look at Oz, a disembodied face on a video screen. Right: Witches (Trinity Depree, left, and Natalie VanSkiver) leave after visiting the Wicked Witch.

The Wizard of Oz (Kaylin Smith), after pretending to be a giant creature, climbs free of the creature costume after the Lion (left) knocked it to the ground.

From Saturday night:

Left: Pit Band member Sam Riley. Right: Dorothy (Sarah Schaffner) and the Scarecrow (Ann Roney) complete a dance routine in Act One.

Left: Dorothy (center) leads a song involving the Sorceress (Aurora Scott) and the Munchkins. Right: Pit Band member Tom Bloodgood.

Behind the scenes before the performance, the cast -- including these Munchkins -- gathered to warm up their voices.

Before the performance, co-Director Tim Benjamin talks to Ann Roney (standing center), Nicholas Brusso and (seated) Kay Davis.

Natalie VanSkiver (Mayor of the Munchkins) tends to a castmate's hair as the cast gathers before the performance.

More from Friday night:

The Wizard of Oz appears to be a giant as the Tin Man, Scarecrow, Lion and Dorothy keep their distance.

Left: Soldiers led by Kaylin Smith, left, perform a scene. Others are Norah Stegner, Trinity Depree, Aurora Scott and Natalie VanSkiver. Right: Sarah Schaffner as Dorothy sings "Munchkinland" with the Munchkins.

Left: Pit Band trumpeter Bernie Riley. Sarah Matthews is the Music Director. Other Pit Band members are Tom Bloodgood, Ed Lovell and Sam Riley. Right: Aurora Scott as the Sorceress of the North.

Left: The Wicked Witch battles for survival in her cauldron. Right: Callieondra Tohafjian as Auntie Em.

Left: Ann Roney as The Scarecrow. Right: Nicholas Brusso as The Tin Man.

The Munchkins gather with Dorothy and the Sorceress of the North (Aurora Scott).

And at rehearsals:

The cast of the Watkins Glen High School production of The Wizard of Oz.

The Lion attacks The Wizard of Oz before the Wizard's identity
behind the costume is unveiled.

Left: Natalie VanSkiver as the Mayor of the Munchkins.
Right: Kay Davis as the Wicked Witch.

Dorothy (Sarah Schaffner) berates the Cowardly Lion (Kai Lees) for acting like a bully as the Scarecrow (Ann Roney) and the Tin Man (Nicholas Brusso) react.

The Addams Family members gather for dinner with their guests and ancestors.

The Addams Family ends its run at Odessa

ODESSA, March 12, 2023 -- A large and appreciative audience was on hand Sunday afternoon for the third and final performance of the Odessa-Montour Junior/Senior High School musical The Addams Family: School Edition in O-M's Fetter-Brown Auditorium.

The play, full of wry and funny lines and appealing musical numbers -- and featuring effective costumes and sets -- opened with two shows Saturday after inclement weather forced postponement of a scheduled Friday night opener.

In this tale from America’s favorite eccentric family, Wednesday Addams is all grown up, and she’s fallen for a boy. Not just any boy -- a “normal” boy! When Gomez promises to keep Wednesday’s engagement a secret from her mother, Morticia knows he’s up to something, and Fester, with the help of the Addams’ Ancestors, plots to ensure that love will triumph.

The cast included Cassie Allen (Alice Beineke), Lucas Barr (Mal Beineke), Sarah Barr (Morticia Addams), Tori Brewster (Pugsley Addams), Riley Brooks (Grandma), Alex Campbell (Uncle Fester), Ben Campbell (Gomez Addams), Dominick Elliott (Lucas Beineke), Jon Spencer (Lurch), and Sarah Strobel (Wednesday Addams). Ancestors included Kyleigh Bates, Abrianna Carrigan, Ana Crippen, Khloe Dean, Peter Dechow, Paisley Jeziorski, Ella Kramer, Addison Learn, Sidney Pike, Olivia Rivera, Lauren Signor, Madison Stone, and Haylee Young. Additional students, alumni, and staff helped behind the scenes on lights, sound, sets, costumes, direction, and promotions.

Photos in text:

Top: Gomez Addams (Ben Campbell) and wife Morticia Addams (Sarah Barr).
Middle: Wednesday Addams (Sarah Strobel) with her trusty crossbow.
Bottom: Dominick Elliott portrays Wednesday's fiance, Lucas Beineke.

Left: Riley Brooks as Grandma. Right: Alex Campbell, left, as Uncle Fester courts his love, the Moon (Madison Stone).

Left: Tori Brewster as Pugsley Addams. Right: Lucas Barr portrays Mal Beineke.

Uncle Fester (Alex Campbell) and several of the Addams ancestors perform a dance.

The Addams Family members perform a dance number with the rest of the cast.

L to R: Jon Spencer (Lurch), Cassie Allen (Alice Beineke) and Lucas Barr (Mal Beineke).

And at dress rehearsal earlier in the week:

Alex Campbell as Uncle Fester in a scene from The Addams Family: School Edition.

Ben Campbell portrays Gomez Addams.

Left: Cassie Allen, left, as Alice Beineke, and Sarah Barr as Morticia Addams. Right: Jon Spencer portrays Lurch.

Sarah Strobel portrays Wednesday Addams, while Dominick Elliott is Lucas Beineke. Uncle Fester (Alex Campbell) is in the background.

Left: Tori Brewster, left, as Pugsley, and Sarah Strobel as Wednesday. Right: Tori Brewster (foreground) portrays Pugsley Addams. Riley Brooks (background) portrays Grandma.

The cast of The Addams Family in a scene from rehearsal Tuesday night.

A glimpse of spring

The sun was out, and the temperatures moderate, on a recent day down at the Seneca Harbor Marina -- before winter revisited. The covered craft is the True Love, which will be plying the waters of Seneca Lake again before long. (Photo by Marti Dense)

Down at the pier

This photo, snapped on Feb. 4, 2023 down at the Seneca Lake shoreline in Watkins Glen, was submitted by photographer Marti Bianco Dense. "It was a bitter cold day," she wrote, "but so worth checking out Mother Nature's ice creations."

The falls were roaring

MONTOUR FALLS, Jan. 19, 2023 -- The drenching rain throughout much of the day Thursday had the water coming down forcefully at Shequaga Falls in Montour Falls. The falls were a popular stopping spot for area residents with their cameras, including photographer Liz Fraboni, who provided the shot at right.










--Photo by Liz Fraboni


A musical trio billing themselves as Charles, Ed & Isabella entertained visitors to the Chamber of Commerce's Pop-Up of Shops.

Watkins Village Christmas draws crowd

WATKINS GLEN, Dec. 9, 2022 -- The 29th annual Village Christmas in Watkins Glen attracted a large crowd of festival lovers Friday night -- a gathering that lined the street on both sides of Franklin from 7th Street to 2nd Street for the popular parade.

With fire trucks, youth groups, and various floats populating the line of march, the downtown visitors were treated to a half-hour of visible Christmas cheer. Longtime emcee Jim Howell introduced each group and float as it passed by a reviewing stand.

With craft and food vendors -- including a Chili Cookoff in front of the Cabins to Castles real estate office -- and open stores (including a group of vendors in a Pop-Up gathering inside the Chamber of Commerce building), there was plenty for spectators to see and do. Another popular spot -- a petting zoo near the Community Bank.

Photo in text:

A float advertising the Re/Max Hot Air Balloons let off bursts of burning gas during the parade. Re/Max operates throughout the state, with this particular branch focusing on flights at Letchworth State Park.

A Chili Cook-off was being conducted outside the Cabins to Castles real estate office.

This float featured the New Heights Dance Theater, which has members from throughout the Twin Tiers. Among other things, it performs annually at the Clemens Center in Elmira.

A float called "The Polar Express" and shaped like a railroad engine was the creation of Lakewood Vineyards, located north of Watkins Glen.

Burdett dedicates three 'Welcome' signs

Special to The Odessa File

BURDETT, Nov. 15, 2022 -- Under overcast skies Saturday morning, Burdett Village  Trustees joined over two dozen village residents at Barnum Street Park to dedicate three new “Welcome to Burdett” signs.

The new signage, along State Route 79 at both ends of the village, replace signs designed by Roseanne Armstrong and carved by Per Navestad in the late 1990s. Armstrong’s husband, John Gormley, and members of her family were on hand for the dedication. The third sign welcomes visitors to the park, which includes a playground area and basketball court.

Mayor Dale Walter says that the new signs replicate the originals, commissioned by the Wednesday Afternoon Ladies’ Club as part of the village’s 1998 centennial celebration of its 1898 incorporation. The design honors the Seneca People of the Iroquois Confederacy of Peace who first inhabited the area.

Martha Evans, President of the Wednesday Afternoon Ladies’ Club, explained the stylized symbols, which include a white cloud at the top of each sign, representing the Creator or Great Spirit. Near the bottom, a multi-colored “wampum belt” symbolizes authenticity and cooperation. Finally, there are symbols for the “four directions of Mother Earth,” north, east, south and west; a reminder that we are stewards of the earth.

Jeremy Hogan, of JH Design in Elmira, made the signs.

Photo in text: From left, John Gormley, husband of the original sign designer, Roseanne Armstrong; Martha Evans, president of the Burdett Wednesday Afternoon Ladies' Club; and Burdett Mayor Dale Walter. (Photo provided)

Sheriffs' Showdown raises camp funds

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Oct. 13, 2022 -- More than two-dozen sheriffs from 27 counties throughout New York State competed Thursday in the Sheriffs’ Showdown 2 at the Watkins Glen International racetrack.

All proceeds from this friendly competition on wheels -- first held in 2019 but not since then -- benefit the New York State Sheriffs’ Institute Summer Camp on the shores of Keuka Lake in Penn Yan. General admission was free.

For the Sheriffs on hand, there was also an element of camaraderie. "It's been a lot of fun," said one. "Just a mental health day away from the office and a little bit of trash talking."

"The camaraderie is just the best," added Schuyler County Sheriff Kevin Rumsey, who pointed to "being able to talk a little shop about what's going on in the communities and across the state, but also some friendly bantering."

You could watch from the grandstands as the Sheriffs pursued first place on the track! Or -- through the purchase of sponsorship packages or single pricing options, from a la carte to full Corporate and Track Weekend packages -- you could experience the driver’s seat; attend training, drive the track in either a sports car or your car, with a certified instructor guiding you through every turn. Packages ranged from Corporate Sponsor ($10,000) to Track Weekend ($7,500) to Sheriff Sponsor ($5,000) to Captain Sponsor ($2,500) to Lieutenant Sponsor ($1,500) to Single Pricing Options (such as drive five laps for $750 or ride five for $500).

Sheriffs’ Office specialized teams, to include SWAT, SCUBA, Bomb Squad, Mounted Patrol, K-9, and Drone Units, were also on site to offer demonstrations. You could talk one-on-one with these deputies who are experts in their fields. And you could train like the pros, trying your hand at a police training obstacle course or watching individuals test their skills on the Emergency Vehicle Operations Course (EVOC).

And you could cheer on your favorite Sheriff -- all for the kids! The full day of activities -- culminating in a reception and dinner at the Jack Daniels Club for those purchasing sponsorships -- ran from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/sheriffshowdown

About the NYS Sheriffs’ Institute Summer Camp:

Located on Keuka Lake in Yates County, the New York State Sheriffs’ Summer Camp is for boys and girls between the ages of 9 and 12 who, due to economic challenges, might not otherwise have an opportunity to attend a summer camp. Each county sheriff is given a predetermined number of camper slots. Sheriff’s Offices use a variety of methods to identify deserving children to attend.

The Sheriffs’ Summer Camp includes innovative programming that helps to build campers’ competence and confidence while they make new friends and become more aware of their natural and social environments. All children are encouraged, and provided the opportunity, to try new hobbies, such as fishing or sailing as they thrive in a supportive environment.

Campers develop lasting memories, work well in groups, and work toward achieving goals. At week’s end, organizers say, children are more prepared to take on the challenges they may face in the future.

Check presentation

The Watkins Glen Elks Lodge No. 1546 recently presented a $2,000 check to the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club for Rotary's Camp Star, which assists families whose children have physical or mental challenges and allows them to experience the joy of attending a summer camp. Rotary was selected because of an Elks goal to assist children with autism. From left: Elks members Chuck Franzese, secretary, and Louis DeBolt, Exalted Ruler; Rotary Service Project Leader Bridgette Stewart, and Elks treasurer Tom Phillips. (Photo by Fred Hall)

The start of the parade heads up Decatur Street early Saturday afternoon.

Italian American Festival ends its 2-day run

WATKINS GLEN, Aug. 6, 2022 -- The Watkins Glen Italian American Festival's two-day run came to an end Saturday night after a day that saw a blazing hot sun, some rain, a parade, a packed Clute Park and a fireworks show over the southern end of Seneca Lake.

The annual festival, prepared by the Italian Festival Planning Committee, featured food, family fun, vendors, music, and inflatable rides along with the parade and fireworks.

The parade moved up Decatur Street from 15th Street to 5th Street. It feataured fire engines from the area departments, old cars, trucks from various businesses, politicians seeking office in upcoming elections, a prince and princess, and Grand Marshals Peggy Scott and Jim Scaptura. Both Scott and Scaptura were presented plaques honoring the occasion by festival chairman Lou Perazzini.

The fireworks show to cap off the festival started at about 9:45 p.m.

The festival is a community event for all ages. It featured inflatable rides by Bobby K, a festival food row, a vendor marketplace, a beer garden, two performances from local bands -- The Variables on Friday night and Rukus on Saturday night -- as well as Italian music and entertainment.

Parking at Clute was $7.00 per vehicle. There was no cover charge for the bands. Beer tickets were sold at the event within the beer garden tent to those over 21 years of age. All other events within the festival were free and open to the public.

The Watkins Glen Italian American Festival, Inc. is a 501c3 non-profit corporation operated by a volunteer staff of committee members, who donate their time, energy, and labor 12 months of the year to prepare for the annual event. In addition to the festival staff, volunteers help on the festival weekend. Proceeds from the festival are provided to local charities, and funds for scholarships for graduating seniors in all Schuyler County School Districts.

For more information visit Watkinsglenitalianfest.com or follow the Watkins Glen Italian Festival on Facebook.

Photos in text:

Top: The parade princess and prince, Marlena VanNess and Kingston Tomlinson.
Middle: Politicians on hand included State Senator Tom O'Mara, running for re-election.
Bottom: A member of the Williamson High School Marching Band.

The two parade grand marshals, Peggy Scott and Jim Scaptura. Scott displays a plaque presented to her by festival chairman Lou Perazzini. Scaptura also received one.

Left: Watkins Glen High School student-athlete Maddie Tuttle helped carry the banner at the head of the parade. She recently had surgery on a torn ACL. Right: The parade emcee, Jim Howell (right), greets Joe Sempolinski, who is running to fill out the unexpired portion of the term of Congressman Tom Reed. Reed resigned the post.

Left: New York State Police Officer Monica Sacco and her horse from Auburn. Right: John White, candidate for Hector Supervisor, was among the political candidates in the parade.

The Downbeat Percussion group entertained spectators with their drum performances.

And on Friday:

Left: A Beaver Dams trio provided music at the festival Friday afternoon. Right: One of the festival vendors secured siding on her tent as winds picked up and rain threatened.

Workers at the festival maneuvered a large tarp over equipment at Clute Park as winds from an approaching storm picked up Friday afternoon.

Four Cardboard Race entries -- one in the background almost capsizing -- make their way along the course in the Seneca Harbor Park marina.

Cardboard boats highlight chilly festival

WATKINS GLEN, June 18, 2022 -- The Watkins Glen Waterfront Festival has seen extreme heat, heavy rain and beautiful days in the past. Saturday, it got a dose of unseasonably cool weather made colder by a stiff north wind blowing in from the lake to Seneca Harbor Park.

The result was a Cardboard Boat Regatta -- the festival centerpiece -- with contestants moving more slowly than usual into the wind and through choppy water. "It's a slog," intoned the race announcer.

For those few whose boats didn't survive the course -- which ran north, west and then south to a finish line near the pier -- the water was no respite from the cold wind. The water temperature was 59 degreees, it was announced.

And while the chill kept a usual overflow crowd down a little, there were plenty of folks lining the shoreline, the pier and the breakwall -- with the crowd around the starting line tightly packed.

There were 30 cardboard boats in the lineup, going off from the starting line two at a time.

But there was a lot more to the festival than the boat races. There were food vendors lining both sides of the park's parking area, and vendor tents on the lawn with all sorts of products, services and information, interspersed by well-used picnic tables.

Later in the day, there was live music as the sun finally broke through.

Photos in text:

Top: A Viking ship rounds the corner into the southern stretch toward the finish line.
Bottom: The wind off the lake was disrupting table covers and loose items, and chilling the already cool air.

Festival-goers crowded the area at the end of the Seneca Harbor pier.

Left: TV was on hand for interviews. Right: Three youngsters piloted the "Tugsy" through the course.

The True Love sailing vessel passes by on the lake behind spectators positioned on the breakwall.

In the first race, the Argo, left, nears the finish line awaited by the SS Meep, captained by Kolton O'Konsky, which had already completed the course.

Not all vessels made it through the course. The Pink Flash capsized near the end.

The fate of cardboard boats after a race: Deposit in one of the dumpsters at the park.

A pair of horses ridden by State Troopers were a feature of the Main Street parade.

Parade highlights final day of festival

MONTOUR FALLS, June 11, 2022 -- The Montour Falls Fire Department's three-day festival -- back this year after two years off due to the pandemic -- concluded Saturday on a day highlighted by a Parade of Bands (and of fire trucks, classic cars, and tractors) along Main Street in Montour Falls.

Among the fire departments present in the parade were Montour Falls, Watkins Glen, Odessa, Burdett, Valois-Logan-Hector, Enfield, Millport, Beaver Dams, Wayne, Dundee, and Mecklenburg.

Spectators lined both sides of Main Street on a day that cleared -- almost 80 degrees and sunny -- for the parade. Clouds moved in later, along with a cooling wind.

After the parade, many of the spectators ventured to the carnival grounds -- with its music, food, bingo and rides -- for the festival's final evening.

Photo in text: A fife player in the Towpath Volunteers Fife and Drum Corps, a group based in Macedon.

The Montour Falls Fire Department Marching Band provided some of the parade music.

Schuyler County Legislator Jim Howell, as in previous years, was the parade announcer.

The Campbell-Savona High School Marching Band works its way along Main Street.

The Caledonian Highlanders bagpipe marching band is a traditional part of the parade.

Members of the Towpath Volunteers Fife and Drum Corps out of Macedon, New York.

Rides resumed on the carnival grounds after taking a break during the parade.

The winning billboard created by Odessa-Montour senior Haley Albertsman. (Provided)

Haley Albertsman wins billboard contest

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, May 11, 2022 -- Odessa-Montour High School senior Haley Albertsman has been named the winner of the second annual billboard contest for Schuyler County students in grades 7-12 conducted by the Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking (SCCUDD).

All students attending the Odessa-Montour, Watkins Glen and Bradford school districts were eligible, including homeschool students residing in the county.

The contest was for substance abuse prevention messages targeting Prom and graduation. The winning billboard is now being displayed on Route 14 in Montour Falls (near the SPCA) until the end of June.

Billboard entries were to have a message that informed, persuaded, or stated facts about substance abuse. Messages could be about nicotine/tobacco/vaping, alcohol, and/or prescription drug abuse or illegal drug use and how it is harmful to youth. Students were encouraged to look up facts and statistics and gain knowledge of why these substances are harmful to youth.

Albertsman's billboard’s message -- Staying Drug and Alcohol Free is Key to Success -- "is the exact message that SCCUDD wants shared with young people in Schuyler County," SCCUDD said in a statement. "After graduating with honors in a few weeks, Haley will be attending Corning Community College, where she will be studying Early Childhood Development, with an eye toward becoming a teacher."

“In my spare time I love creating many kinds of art," Haley said, "including graphic design, chalk paintings, acrylic paintings, and rock art. I would like to thank SCCUDD for the opportunity to share this message.”

“Haley is the kind of student that every school district cherishes and is a valuable contributor to the culture that we strive to achieve," said Odessa-Montour High School Principal Almon “Skip” McCarty, who described her as "dependable, hard-working, pleasant, mild mannered, and engaging,”

“Haley," McCarty added, "is the kind of student who has made Odessa-Montour better while she's gone to school here, and will be tough to replace once she graduates.”

Photo in text: Billboard contest winner Haley Albertsman, left, with SCCUDD President Karen Thurston. (Photo provided)

The mattresses upon which Princess Winnifred was supposed to sleep -- as a test of her sensitivity. The scene is from the final O-M performance.

'Once Upon a Mattress' ends its O-M run

ODESSA, March 13, 2022 -- The third and final presentation of the Odessa-Montour High School student production of the musical play "Once Upon a Mattress" drew an appreciative audience Sunday to the school auditorium

The production, forced by inclement weather to postpone a planned Saturday matinee to Sunday, drew about twice as many spectators as the Saturday night performance. Attendance at that second show had been limited by recurring snow squalls.

The cast list was as follows (presented alphabetically by student):

Cassie Allen: the Minstrel
Sarah Barr: Queen Aggravain
Kat Benway: Princess #12
Tori Brewster: Lady Merrill
Alex Campbell: Knight #1
Ben Campbell: Prince Dauntless
Abrianna Carrigan: Sir Studley
Dominick Elliott: Sir Harry
Lillian Halpin: Lady Rowena
Molly Heichel: Princess Winnifred
Casey Hines: Sir Luce
Ella Kramer: Knight #2
Delaney Paulisczak: the Jester
Eliza Starkweather: King Sextimus
Madison Stone: Lady Lucille/ Lady Mabelle
Sarah Strobel: Lady Larken
Aidan Thurston: the Wizard
Haylee Young: Lady H

The play is a musical version of the classic tale "The Princess and the Pea," whereby the mother of Prince Dauntless, Queen Aggravain, rules that nobody else can marry until her son does. She manages through impossible tests to sabotage every princess with an eye on Dauntless who comes along, until the arrival of a shy swamp princess, Winnifred -- who proves not so easy to undercut.

Photos in text:

Top: Molly Heichel, as Princess Winnifred, sings a a second-act song.

Middle: Tori Brewster as Lady Merrill leads the Nightingale of Samarkand on-stage for a "Nightingale Lullaby" to soothe Princess Winnifred as she tries to sleep. The Nightingale actor was not identified in the program, but was reportedly an O-M teacher and coach related to Miss Brewster.

Bottom: Delaney Paulisczak as the Jester performs a musical number in Act Two.

From left: Molly Heichel as Princess Winnifred, Lillian Halpin as Lady Rowena and Sarah Barr as Queen Aggravain in a scene from "Once Upon a Mattress."

Left: Eliza Starkweather as King Sextimus. Right: Aidan Thurston as the Wizard.

From left: Sarah Strobel as Lady Larken, Molly Heichel as Princess Winnifred and Ben Campbell as Prince Dauntless in a scene Sunday from "Once Upon a Mattress."

And on opening night:

From left: Delaney Paulisczak as the Jester, Eliza Starkweather as King Sextimus and Cassie Allen as the Minstrel in a scene from opening night of "Once Upon a Mattress."

A princess (right) is questioned early in the play to determine whether she is worthy to marry Prince Dauntless. She failed what amounted to an impossible quiz.

Ben Campbell as Prince Dauntless and Molly Heichel as
Princess Winnifred in an opening-night scene.

Sir Harry (Dominick Elliott) and Lady Larken (Sarah Strobel) wish to marry, but can't until Prince Dauntless finds a princess who can pass the Queen's impossible tests.

And earlier in the week, at dress rehearsal:

Cast members take part in a dance number in "Once Upon a Mattress."

Ben Campbell as Prince Dauntless and Molly Heichel as Princess Winnifred at the center of a dance sequence in "Once Upon a Mattress."

Scene during the Cardboard Boat Regatta at the 2019 festival, the last time it was held.

After a 2-year absence, Watkins Glen Waterfront Festival is on again this June

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Feb. 10, 2022 -- The Watkins Glen Waterfront Festival will be back -- ON and IN the water -- this June!

Members of the Waterfront Festival Committee of Watkins Glen Promotions announced Thursday that after a two-year absence, the Cardboard Boat Regatta and other Festival fun will fill Seneca Harbor Park on Saturday, June 18.

The Festival will open to the public at 11:00 a.m. with a midway of food, beverage, and merchandise vendors and the nearly-famous Concourse De Cardboard -- the public display of the boats ready to compete for mildly valuable prizes and the all-important bragging rights! The boats and their crews will begin the racing heats at 2:00 p.m. and will continue until as many as possible cross the finish line and get soaking wet!

Laurie DeNardo, Chair of the Waterfront Festival Committee, urged cardboard crafters to “get to work” to build their sloops and barges for the Regatta. “While the covid pandemic put us on ‘pause’ for the last two years, we know that lots of mail-order cardboard has been piling up in basements and garages. Now is the time to use that material to build the ship to zip through our waterfront course,” she said.

DeNardo reminded boat builders that their entries must be constructed using ONLY recycled cardboard, duct tape, glue, and paint. Up to 50 boats will participate in the Regatta, competing for prizes in eight categories including “Fastest Time,” “Best Construction,” “Best Theme,” and the all-important “Best Sinking.”

Stacy Husted, President of Watkins Glen Promotions, noted that the Waterfront Festival will provide a full day of fun for everyone who attends. “We are thrilled to be back in action to kick off Father’s Day weekend with this wonderful event,” she said. “The Committee has arranged for the popular band ‘Rust’ to play at the Festival from 5 p.m.-8 p.m., so everyone can celebrate the results of the Regatta!”

Applicants for the Regatta can sign up now by calling Watkins Glen Promotions at 607-535-3003, or emailing Michaela Christensen, events@watkinsglen.com. Deadline for entries: Monday, June 13.

Here’s a brief schedule of the June 18 events at Seneca Harbor Park:

9 am-11 am: Boats arrive and are arranged for display by volunteers on site
11 am: Festival opens; Concours de Cardboard open to the public
1:30 pm: Captains’ Meeting
2 pm: Cardboard Boat Regatta begins
5 pm: Pop band “Rust” entertains
8 pm: Festival concludes

Watkins Glen Promotions is a non-profit organization producing four Schuyler County events each year. They include the Waterfront Festival in June, the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Festival in September, the Falls Harvest Festival in Montour Falls in October, and Watkins Glen Village Christmas in December. Visit www.watkinsglen.com for more information.

Photos in text: Scenes from the 2019 Waterfront Festival.

2 join Watkins-Montour Falls Zonta Club

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Jan. 30, 2022 -- The Zonta Club of Watkins Glen-Montour Falls recently inducted two new members, Karey Solomon of Hector and Sue Braunstein of Elmira.

The club has been meeting periodically since 1925 and is a member of Zonta International. A recent club project is work on the house and gardens at the Habitat for Humanity House in Logan.

If interested in joining, call 607-425-2835. Zonta helps women and girls around the world and locally.

Historical Society acquires Lawrence Chapel

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Jan. 22, 2022 -- The historic Lawrence Chapel in the Town of Catharine is now owned and managed by the Schuyler County Historical Society.

The Chapel was built in 1880 as a memorial for the Lawrence family, among the earliest settlers in the region. It is located on Route 228, about 3.5 miles northeast of Odessa. Lawrence descendants deeded ownership to the Chemung County Historical Society in 1972. The Schuyler Historical Society assumed ownership in November.

The Chapel has been used for weddings, church services, concerts and other community events almost continuously since it was built. The Historical Society will continue to offer the Chapel for use between May 1 and Oct. 15.

“The Society is thrilled to have the ownership returned to Schuyler County after the diligent safekeeping by the Chemung County Historical Society. Welcome home, Lawrence Chapel!” said Board of Trustees President Jean Hubsch.

“The Chemung County Historical Society is pleased that we were able to transfer ownership of the Lawrence Chapel to SCHS,” Bruce Whitmarsh, Chemung County Historical Society director, said. “We look forward to seeing the Chapel thrive under their stewardship and become an even greater asset for Schuyler County.”

A special exhibit about the Lawrence Chapel and the Lawrence family will open in the Historical Society’s Brick Tavern Museum on April 1. The public is invited to participate in the exhibit by submitting wedding and other event photos for display. For information on submitting photos, email director@schuylerhistory.org or call (607) 535-9741.

Built of local stone and slate, with suggestions of Gothic architecture, the Chapel and the surrounding trees are hemmed in by a low wall. The Lawrence family cemetery, much older than the Chapel, is part of the property. Wooden pews line the Chapel interior, and leaded glass windows with small flowerette designs adorn the walls. A marble plaque, consisting of three tablets, hangs at the front of the space, telling some of the Chapel's history.

For more information about the Lawrence Chapel visit the Historical Society’s website at www.schuylerhistory.org.

Photo in text: Lawrence Chapel

Firefighters hose down the charred remains of the house along County Road 14.

Photos from the fire scene ...

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Dec. 31, 2021 -- The photo above and those at right and below were snapped at the scene of a farmhouse fire on County Road 14 east of Catharine Corners Friday morning. The call to 911 came in at 8:03 a.m.

A press release from Odessa Fire Chief John Jelliff said: "Upon arrival of the fire department, we found a two-story wood frame residence with fire throughout the building. A second, and later, a third alarm were requested for additional tankers and additional firefighting personnel. The departments requested under mutual aid to the scene were Montour Falls, Watkins Glen, Mecklenburg, Burdett, Newfield, Millport, and Town & Country. The Valois-Logan-Hector Fire Company stood by in Odessa to cover calls.

"The house had been undergoing renovations, so many of the walls had been removed -- contributing to the quick spread of the fire throughout the house. All firefighting operations were defensive. One minor firefighter injury occurred during firefighting operations, but the firefighter did not require further medical treatment ....

"The cause of the fire has been determined to be a malfunction of an electrical panel box in the basement. The house was a total loss and was vacant at the time of the fire."

Seneca Harbor Cruises adds Seneca Spirit after recent retirement of the Stroller IV

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, May 21, 2021 -- Mark Simiele, owner of Seneca Harbor Cruises on Seneca Lake, welcomes the 2021 season with an additional vessel: the Seneca Spirit. This addition to Captain Bill’s fleet is a 64-foot Skipperliner that has sailed as a tour boat in Washington, D.C. for the past 20 years. A public christening is being planned.

“I anticipate that it will take 12 days to bring the Seneca Spirit home,” said Simiele, explaining that the route includes time on the Potomac, Chesapeake, and Delaware rivers, winds around the tip of New Jersey passing Atlantic City, and ultimately arrives in Watkins Glen via the Erie Canal.

“The 3-person crew sails from sun-up to sunset, with overnights in marinas along the way. We’re tracking her path in real-time, using an app [https://maps.findmespot.com/s/9YRX/QV] and enjoying daily updates from the crew.”

The 115-passenger boat has two levels, with the upper deck completely open-air, an acoustic system designed for narrated tours, and a whisper-quiet engine that travels at a steady 8 knots. It is currently sailing to Watkins Glen from its previous port of 20 years in the Washington, D.C. area.

“Captain Bill’s is an iconic attraction in Watkins Glen,” said Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Michael Hardy. “A favorite with tourists and a special treat for our residents, Mark and his crews highlight one of our region’s most treasured assets: Seneca Lake.”

This is Captain Bill’s first purchase since acquiring the 270-passenger Seneca Legacy in 2006. The 49-passenger Stroller IV, built in 1934 and limited by pandemic-related social distancing requirements, finished the 2019 season and was then retired. The Seneca Spirit will be Captain Bill’s main sight-seeing vessel, leaving port every 90 minutes for a 60-minute guided tour of the southern end of Seneca Lake. The Seneca Legacy will resume a pre-pandemic schedule for lunch and dinner cruises: lunch cruises will be offered three days a week; dinner cruises will sail six nights a week.

Simiele said it was a difficult decision to retire the Stroller, indicating that it was driven by a need to pivot business operations in light of the pandemic.

“Long-term, though, this is the right decision,” said Simiele. “Captain Bill’s is part of this community. It’s a family-run operation that is family-friendly and values-oriented. On the surface, we offer boat cruises. Dive just a little deeper, though, and we’re a conduit to a different reality where you can breathe deeply and move at your own pace.”

Photos in text:

Top: (From left) Captains aboard: Bill Darrow, Steven Naimoli, and Anthony Compese.
Bottom: The retired Stroller IV (Photos provided)

The Indian of the Lake

WATKINS GLEN, March 30 -- This photo -- an old aerial view of Seneca Lake -- was shown to the editor while he was visiting the Legislature office in the Schuyler County Office Building.

It was in the possession of an official there.

The editor didn't see it at first -- but does now: the unmistakable shape of the lake, a lake named after an native American tribe. The shape looks like that of an Indian, kneeling perhaps, with head bowed, and a feather at the upper, northernmost point of the visible profile.

"Cool," said the editor when he finally recognized the outline. And interesting. So he snapped a picture of the picture for presentation here.

Check out the feature below


Chased by a madman

When you hit the road for vacation, you aren't always assured of smooth sailing. Herewith a tale of terror on the highway -- as it really happened. Features.


© The Odessa File 2024
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869

E-mail chaef@aol.com