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30th annual Village Christmas is Dec. 1st

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Nov. 23, 2023 -- Get ready to embrace the magic of the holiday season as the 30th Annual Watkins Glen Village Christmas lights up Franklin Street in Watkins Glen from 5-8 p.m. on Friday, December 1st. This tradition promises an evening of fun for the entire family.

As the sun sets, Franklin Street will be 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 will extend their hours, providing ample opportunities for holiday shopping.

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

The fun continues throughout the evening with a variety of family-friendly activities, including free face painting and balloon creations.

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

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

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

For further information and updates, visit watkinsglen.com or contact Watkins Glen Promotions at 607-535-3003.

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)

Rotary to present 'A Christmas Carol'

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Nov. 10, 2023 -- A dramatic, one-man performance of “A Christmas Carol” will be presented by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club on Sunday, Nov. 26.

Kim Tenreiro of Canandaigua will portray more than 30 characters in Charles Dickens’ classic tale of reclamation and salvation. The show will be at the First Presbyterian Church, 520 N. Decatur St., Watkins Glen, at 1:15 p.m. The performance is recommended for ages 13 and older.

Admission is a suggested donation of $10 per person at the door. No advance tickets will be offered. All proceeds will be donated to Schuyler County SAFE and M.R. Hess Home Works, two local organizations dedicated to suicide awareness and prevention.

For more information, contact Nan Woodworth, Watkins-Montour Rotary Club president, by emailing 2nwoodworthshaw@gmail.com.

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)

Motor Racing History Symposium set

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Oct. 17, 2023 -- The International Motor Racing Research Center (IMRRC), in partnership with the Society of Automotive Historians (SAH), will present the Seventh Annual Michael R. Argetsinger Symposium on International Motor Racing History from Nov. 2-4.

The Symposium features 21 motorsports experts and a wide variety of topics, including space travel, television and superstitions -- all seen through the lens of motorsports history. Rob Dyson, race driver and team owner, will present the keynote address, "A Driver’s Reflections on Watkins Glen at 75," on Saturday afternoon.

The 16th International Reel Wheel Film Festival will kick off the weekend on Thursday, Nov. 2 by “Celebrating Historical Racing Documentaries” from 5:00 to 8:30 p.m. in the Watkins Glen Elementary School auditorium adjacent to the IMRRC. The academic symposium will be held on Friday, Nov. 3 and Saturday, Nov. 4, in the Media Center at the Watkins Glen International race track.

A reception, sponsored by the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce, will take place at the Research Center at 610 South Decatur Street in Watkins Glen on Friday from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. All events are free and open to the public, who are welcome to attend any or all sessions. This year’s Symposium will be live-streamed thanks to the assistance of Gran Touring Motorsports. A detailed schedule and a link to the live stream are available at racingarchives.org.

Friday’s schedule includes a trio of presentations from McPherson College in Kansas discussing "Teaching Motorsports History at McPherson College." Professor Ken Yohn, Librarian Kristie Sojka, and student Jeremy Porter will share their unique perspectives on participating in motorsports history education.

In addition to the keynote address, Saturday’s schedule features a morning presentation by Buz McKim, NASCAR historian and a previous director of archives for the International Speedway Corporation. His subject, "Bill France and the Origins of NASCAR," will explore the racing career of NASCAR’s iconic founder William “Bill” France, and the origins of NASCAR in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

The annual symposium began in 2015 and is named in honor of the late Michael R. Argetsinger, an award-winning motorsports author and longtime member of the IMRRC’s Governing Council. He was also a competitive driver for nearly 45 years, competing in more than 400 races at 54 different circuits in seven countries. Michael was the son of Jean and Cameron Argetsinger, who revived motor racing in the United States following World War II.

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.

Rotary offering blood screening on Nov. 4

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Oct. 6, 2023 -- The Watkins-Montour Rotary Club will host its annual AMBA blood screening on Saturday, Nov. 4, from 6-10 a.m. at the Clute Park Community Center in Watkins Glen.

The blood analysis by Quest Diagnostics includes tests for coronary, kidney and liver diseases and anemia. The cost is $42.

The AMBA event is a major fundraiser for the service club and an additional $5 fee will be charged. Funds raised support many projects in the Schuyler County community.

Appointments are required. To schedule an appointment, call (800) 234-8888 Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A personal physician’s name and address will be requested. A photo identification will be required at check-in at the screening.

For information about tests for Prostate Specific Antigen, TSH, Vitamin D and Hemoglobin A1C and a colon rectal kit, also call (800) 234-8888. Each carries an additional cost and must be ordered by a doctor.

United Way sets its annual pasta dinner

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Sept. 27, 2023 -- The United Way of Schuyler County will hold its annual pasta dinner on Monday, October 9 (Columbus Day) at the Montour Moose Club, Route 14, Montour Falls, beginning at 5:00 p.m.

The United Way hopes to top a 400-dinner goal.

Said United Way Executive Director Peggy Scott: “Deepest thanks begin with the Moose Club. They are a blessing to this community in so many ways.

"An all-volunteer board of directors of United Way of Schuyler County and students from the Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour schools provide all the grunt work and service that contribute to an outstanding event every year."

The United Way goal this year is $123,000, to be used to help 21 local member agencies.

The menu is Spaghetti and Meatballs, with former Schuyler County Sheriff Bill Yessman’s special Italian Sauce passed down from generations. In addition, there will be salad, rolls, and dessert. The price is $12.00. Drive-through dinners are also available. All of the money raised stays in Schuyler County.

Storyteller to discuss Iroquois traditions

Special to The Odessa File

CATHARINE CORNERS, Sept. 21, 2023 --St. John’s Episcopal of Catharine will host a Haudenosaunee Remembrance, Recognition and Reconciliation Session at 10 a.m. Sunday, September 24 featuring storyteller Perry Ground, a Turtle Clan member of the Onondaga Nation of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy.

Perry Ground has been a storyteller and educator for over 25 years and enjoys telling stories and teaching about the history and culture of Native Peoples.

This storytelling presentation will be filled with traditional Haudenosaunee legends that have been told for hundreds of years. The stories teach about the beliefs, customs and history of the Haudenosaunee people. Ground will bring the stories to life through vivid descriptions, his rhythmic voice and an active stage presence. The stories become "interactive," as Perry is known to include audience members in the stories.

Elements of traditional Haudenosaunee lifestyle, pieces of historical information and plenty of humor are woven into each story. Discussion about the Haudenosaunee culture and the art of storytelling is also part of the program. The presentation is designed for children and adults. Haudenosaunee flute music will be played by Alan Cleveland.

A land acknowledgement proclamation will be made and presented. Note: for thousands of years, the road next to the 213-year-old parish was a main trail from what is now Owego to Montour Falls.

For your GPS, the address is 4938 County Road 14, Odessa. The location is at the four corners of County Road 14 & 15 at Catharine Corners outside Odessa.

Photo in text: Perry Ground (Photo provided)

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.

Camp Cornell focus of Historical Society talk

Special to The Odessa Fiel

ALPINE, July 30, 2023 -- The Schuyler County Historical Society will sponsor a talk at the Lake Grove Park on Saturday, August 12 from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. The park is located at 2619 County Route 6, Alpine.

Jim Allen will discuss Camp Cornell -- a summer surveying and mapping course offered to engineering students, along the shores of Cayuta Lake, beginning in 1929. Jim will provide a bit of history about the Cayuta Lake area and its early settlers, finishing with Camp Cornell.

“Jim’s talk will provide people with a deeper look into and understanding of an all too often overlooked part of Schuyler County history,” said Historical Society Executive Director Heather O’Grady-Evans.

As part of the talk, attendees will be able to take a tour of Lake Grove Park and walk along the shores of Cayuta Lake to the location of Camp Cornell. There will be golf carts provided for those who are unable to make the walk.

The Historical Society's history talks are free and open to the public.

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.)

Schuyler Steps Out to kick off its 17th year

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, April 13, 2023 -- Schuyler Steps Out, a free community step-tracking program presented by Schuyler Hospital, a member of Cayuga Health, is coming back for its 17th year.

Kicking off later this month, the healthy-living focused competition is open to anyone who works or lives in Schuyler County, and to employees of Cayuga Health. Teams must register with the hospital by Wednesday, April 19, 2023.

The program will kick off at 12 noon on Friday, April 21, with a one-hour virtual information session. Participating teams can register online at https://schuylerhospital.org/schuyler-steps-out/.

While many teams are workplace-based, service clubs, churches, and even scouts are invited to form teams. All that’s required is for team members to track their steps for six weeks on any fitness device and for one team member to report his or her team’s steps to the hospital weekly. At the end of the six-week program, awards are given for most team steps, most valuable “players,” and most improved over the course of the program.

The program was designed to help get people moving in early spring by incorporating healthy habits into their routines. It is a way for the hospital to promote the fight against obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and other associated healthcare issues in the community. By encouraging regular activity, the hospital hopes to foster healthy changes that last beyond the six-week program.

In 2022, participating teams tallied nearly 76,000 miles, or three times around the Earth. A weekly average total of 373 people from 12 teams participated. This year’s program will run from April 24 through June 4.

Schuyler Steps Out is sponsored by Schuyler Hospital and Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

For more information, or to sign your team up, contact Tina Rappleye at (607) 210-1950, fax (607) 210-1951, register online at https://schuylerhospital.org/schuyler-steps-out/ or email info@schuylerhospital.org.

Trumansburg's library spring book sale set

Special to The Odessa File

TRUMANSBURG, April 9, 2023 -- The Ulysses Philomathic Library’s Spring Book Sale will take place April 26-30 at the library, located at 74 E. Main St. in Trumansburg.

Member Night, from 5-7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 26, will kick off the sale, welcoming current and new members. For people who are not currently members, they can join that night and still take part.

Then the sale fully opens, running from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 27, and Friday, April 28. Over the weekend, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 29, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 30, the sale will be name-your-price style, allowing shoppers to pay what they choose.

For more information, any questions, or to volunteer, visit trumansburglibrary.org, facebook.com/ulyssesphilomathiclibrary, or email Trustee Rob Montana at rmontana@trumansburglibrary.org.

Photo: At the Ulysses Philomathic Library (Photo provided by the library)


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)

Watkins Glen Village Christmas is Dec. 9

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Nov. 1, 2022 -- Watkins Glen Village Christmas, produced by Watkins Glen Promotions, Inc., will be held again this year -- on Friday, December 9 from 5 p.m.-8 p.m. on Franklin Street in Watkins Glen, with the simple theme of “Christmas.”

In a statement, the Village Christmas volunteer committee said it is “thrilled to be able to host this event again, as it brings so much joy and hope to kick off the holiday season. We look forward to great attendance, happy faces, and continuing the tradition we have had for many years in our village.”

Franklin Street will be closed during the event, and open for vendors and the Village Christmas Parade. The committee is currently seeking vendors and float, fire truck and tractor applications for the parade. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be at the event as well; however, they will not be available for sit-down pictures as in the past.

Visit www.watkinsglen.com for more information.

'Coverlet Weavers of Schuyler' talk set

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Oct. 21, 2022 -- They are often woven in blue and white, showing eagles, flowers and intricate designs. Sometimes the weaver’s name is woven in. Sometimes the town where the weaver worked. Sometimes a date. Sometimes the name for whom it was woven.

They are the woven bed covers of the 1800s that can be found in the Schuyler County Historical Society’s Brick Tavern Museum and in homes around the area.

On Saturday, Nov. 5, Marty Schlabach and Mary Jean Welser of Interlaken in Seneca County will tell the story of these popular bed coverings and the people who created them.

“Coverlet Weavers of Schuyler County” will be presented at 1 p.m. in the community room at the Odessa Municipal Building, 300 Main St., Odessa. This location is different than originally advertised.

The talk is free and open to all. Registration is not necessary.

In the 19th century, coverlets were often woven for special occasions and became prized family heirlooms, according to Schlabach and Welser. Most homes had spinning wheels and looms. But some small towns in the region also hosted professional weavers who wove the highly figured coverlets.

Coverlets from the Society’s collection will be displayed at the talk, and the speakers will display some of their coverlets.

The community is invited also to contribute 1800s coverlets for the display. Anyone interested in showing a coverlet is asked to contact the Historical Society at 607-535-9741 or director@schuylerhistory.org by Thursday, Nov. 3.

Montour Falls Cemetery Walk on Oct. 29

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Oct. 20, 2022 -- Kick off Halloween with storytelling in the Montour Falls Cemetery by Schuyler County Historian Gary Emerson.

Emerson, also a member of the Schuyler County Historical Society board, will share stories about some of the more interesting people buried in the cemetery above the village. Emerson said the stories will be different than those he told last year.

Participants will meet at 1 p.m. at the upper entrance to the cemetery on Mill Street. Mill Street is off of Steuben Street and goes over Shequaga Falls. The one-hour downhill walk will take place rain or shine.

Return rides to the upper entrance will be offered.

For more information, contact the Historical Society at (607) 535-9741.

Rotary offers blood screening on Nov. 5

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Oct. 12, 2022 -- The Watkins-Montour Rotary Club will host its annual AMBA blood screening on Saturday, Nov. 5, from 6:00-10:30 a.m. at the Clute Park Community Center in Watkins Glen.

The blood analysis by Quest Diagnostics includes tests for coronary, kidney and liver diseases and anemia. The cost is $42.

The Rotary Club will charge an additional $5 fee, as the AMBA event is a major fundraiser for the service club and helps support many projects in the community.

Appointments are required. To schedule an appointment, call (800) 234-8888 Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A personal physician’s name and address are required. A photo identification also is required at check-in at the screening.

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.

Meet the Candidates night set for Oct. 24

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Oct. 12, 2022 -- A non-partisan Meet the Candidates Night for candidates on November ballots in Schuyler County will be presented by the Watkins Review & Express on Monday, Oct. 24.

The event will be at the Watkins Glen Elementary School auditorium. It will begin at 6:30 p.m., and all are welcome.

“An informed citizenry is a central part of a good democracy,” Brandon Lawson, Review & Express publisher, said. “Information about candidates is key to that, and this is why we are sponsoring a Meet the Candidates Night for Schuyler County voters. We want people to be informed.”

All candidates for town and county positions on the Nov. 8 ballot in Schuyler County have been invited to give timed presentations and answer questions from the audience. Also invited to speak and answer questions are candidates for U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, New York State Senate and New York State Assembly.

A committee of non-partisan community volunteers is organizing the event.

November Splendor fund-raiser returns

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Oct. 6, 2022 -- The biggest fundraising event of the year for Schuyler Hospital and Seneca View Skilled Nursing Facility is back -- with new features. The event had taken a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“November Splendor” is scheduled for Saturday, November 5, 2022, at the Harbor Hotel in Watkins Glen from 5:30-11:00 p.m. The event is $120 dollars per/person, and the program includes a sit-down dinner and live music by Letizia and the Z Band.

Presented by the Schuyler Health Foundation and Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary, the cocktail attire event continues to offer unique prize packages through a brand-new selection of raffle packages, as well as a new chance to win through “Heads or Tails.”

Attendees can reserve a room with the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel by asking for the Schuyler Health Foundation November Splendor rates. Event proceeds go toward renovations of the Seneca View Skilled Nursing Facility through the 2022 Family of Friends Campaign.

To learn more, contact the Schuyler Health Foundation at (607) 210-1945 or by emailing giving@schuylerhospital.org.

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)

Grand Prix Festival ready to roll on Sept. 9

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Sept. 5, 2022 -- Hundreds of Mustangs and other classic cars will “return to the streets” of Watkins Glen, NY on Friday, September 9, to run in the annual Watkins Glen Grand Prix Festival.

The Grand Prix Festival celebrates the history of post-World War II road racing in the United States from 1948-1952. It all began in the Village of Watkins Glen.

Since 1993, the Grand Prix Festival of Watkins Glen, presented by Chemung Canal Trust Company, has celebrated the village’s heritage of motor racing. Last year, an estimated 25,000 spectators helped celebrate. As in previous years, a tribute to the Grand Prix races are featured in a variety of events during this all-day Festival. Events include the Walk of Fame award ceremony, a historical lecture called The Legends Speak, a pre-race Tech Inspection at Smalley's Garage, as well as several rolling events and known as the Stone Bridge Driver Events.

This year, the Festival will feature Mustang as the special brand, or marque -- and Mustang owners from around the country plan to bring their cars to town to show off their vehicles and join the fun.

The Festival also features a classic and special auto show -- the Concours d’Elegance, Presented by Hagerty, designed to display some of the finest and most beautiful cars in the world. Hagerty Insurance is the new sponsor of this show this year; the overall winner of the judged competition will receive the Corning Best In Show award at the Award Ceremonies beginning at 5:00 p.m.

Franklin Street through the village will be closed from 12 noon to 8 p.m. on Friday to allow the Stone Bridge Driver groups to run laps of the 6.6 mile Old Course -- the same route used by racers in the 1948-52 competitions. Later in the day, a group of Sportscar Vintage Racing Association race cars will run laps of the Old Course as a tribute to the racers of history.

Parked along the main streets of the village will be over 600 classic sports cars of all ages and marques. In addition to live music, wine tasting, food vendors, and other family activities, attendees will find vendors of racing items and related merchandise.

More information can be found at www.grandprixfestival.com.

The festival is produced by Watkins Glen Promotions, Inc., a 501(c)(3) organization.

History Walk, Lawrence Chapel talk slated

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Sept. 3, 2022 -- A guided walk on Burdett’s Main Street and a talk at the Lawrence Chapel are upcoming programs offered by the Schuyler County Historical Society.

Burdettt Village Historian Marty Evans, who also serves as vice president of the Historical Society Board of Trustees, will lead the walk on Saturday, Sept. 17. Participants are asked to meet at 1 p.m. at the historic fire bell across the street from the former Burdett Fire Department building.

On Sunday, Sept. 18, Schuyler County Historian Gary Emerson, also a member of the Society’s board, will speak at the Lawrence Chapel about the structure’s long history. The chapel, built in 1880 and still used today, is located at 2770 Route 228, Town of Catharine. The talk will begin at 1 p.m.

Both events are free and open to all.

For more information, call the Historical Society at (607) 535-9741.

Photo in text: This photograph shows the Burdett mill pond in 1924. Historian Marty Evans will speak about the pond and other highlights of the village’s history during a guided walk on Sept. 17. (Provided)

Seneca Underwater Exploration talks set

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Aug. 26, 2022 -- Nautical archaeologist Art Cohn will report on his continuing underwater explorations of Seneca Lake at illustrated talks in Hammondsport and Watkins Glen in late September.

Cohn, an affiliated scholar of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University, is the principal investigator of the Seneca Lake Survey Project, which launched in 2018. He and his crew continued their work on the lake this summer. The Finger Lakes Boating Museum in Hammondsport is one of the key project sponsors.

“The Legacy of the Erie Canal: A New Survey of Seneca Lake Reveals its Geological History and a Treasure Trove of Canal-era Shipwrecks” will be presented on Tuesday, Sept. 27, at 6:30 p.m. at the Watkins Glen Elementary School auditorium, 612 S. Decatur St. Cohn will present the same talk on Thursday, Sept. 29, at 7 p.m. at the Boating Museum, 8231 Pleasant Valley Road.

Both talks are free and open to all. The talks are sponsored by the Boating Museum, the Schuyler County Historical Society, America’s Boating Club-Finger Lakes Chapter, Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce and the Watkins Glen Yacht Club.

Cohn has for 40 years located, documented and advocated for the public value of submerged cultural resources, aka “shipwrecks.” In his talk he will report on the Survey Project’s research findings to date. He also will give an overview of Seneca Lake and its significant role in commercial and passenger transportation in the 1800s.

The Erie Canal, New York State’s famous inland navigation highway, officially opened to vessel traffic in the fall of 1825. During each navigation season, thousands of canal boats traveled the new canal and its feeder canals.

“The new, highly engineered navigation corridor created an all-water network that connected New York City to Buffalo and the Great Lakes. From the moment it opened, the Erie Canal was successful beyond all its proponents’ expectations, and for the next 100 years the canal system prospered,” Cohn says.

“What is little-remembered is that by the mid-19th century, Seneca Lake had become a significant link in the inland transportation system and a connection hub to three early canals. The Seneca Lake underwater survey was initiated to determine what of that historic legacy might still be contained beneath the surface,” Cohn says.

The Seneca Lake Survey Project is a collaboration of the Finger Lakes Boating Museum, the New York State Museum, the New York State Canal Corporation and the New York State Power Authority, the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University, Casella Waste Management Systems, the Canal Society of New York State, the Erie Canal Heritage Fund, the Romulus Historical Society, Seneca Lake Resorts at Sampson State Park, Stivers Marina, the Tripp Foundation and Ted Marks, the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development and the Watkins Glen Yacht Club.

For more information, contact the Finger Lakes Boating Museum at (607) 569-2222 or the Schuyler County Historical Society at (607) 535-9741.

Photo in text: This image shows the hull of a canal-era boat discovered 220 feet underwater by the Seneca Lake Survey Project. (Photo provided)

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.

Society offers Embroidery for Beginners

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, July 8, 2022 -- A two-part workshop on embroidery for beginners will be offered by the Schuyler County Historical Society on Saturdays July 30 and Aug. 13.

The sessions will be at the Brick Tavern Museum, 108 N. Catharine St./Route 14, Montour Falls, starting at 10 a.m.

Historical Society Board President Jean Hubsch, a noted embroidery artist, will lead the workshop. In the first session, participants will learn basic surface embroidery stitches and make a small stitch sampler. A clothing patch or a small piece of jewelry will be created in the second session, using stitches learned in the first.

The class size is limited, and pre-registration is required by July 21 by calling the Historical Society at (607) 535-9741 or emailing director@schuylerhistory.org. The cost is $5, which covers materials for both sessions. The fee may be paid on arrival.

For more information, contact the Historical Society at (607) 535-9741

Talk topic: Railroad Stone Arches of Hector

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, July 6, 2022 -- Trains haven’t made their way through eastern Schuyler County for more than 50 years, but reminders remain in the stone arch culverts built in the late 1800s to carry the lines.

“The Lehigh Valley Railroad and The Great Stone Arches of Hector” will be presented on Sunday, July 17, at the Valois-Logan-Hector Fire Department hall on Route 414 in Hector. The 1 p.m. program, sponsored by the Schuyler County Historical Society, will be followed by a guided walk to one of the arches.

Charles Fausold of Hector, Schuyler County Historian Gary Emerson and Burdett Village Historian Marty Evans will be the speakers. Fausold will focus on the stone arch culverts in Hector and Valois, and Evans will talk about the arches in Burdett. Emerson will discuss the Lehigh Valley Railroad’s service in Schuyler County.

“Beautiful to look at today, the bridges and massive culverts of cut stone were marvels of engineering, requiring 300 workers,” Fausold says. “The culverts were impressive at such a scale. Special Seneca Lake excursion boats were required to transport all of the people, hundreds at a time, who wanted to view the construction in progress.”

After the presentations, Leigh Hazlitt Triner will lead a walk to the arch site in Valois, which is on private property. Participants will drive to near the site and then walk on a moderate incline to the arch.

The program is free, and registration is not required. For more information, call the Historical Society at (607) 535-9741.

Photo in text: The double stone arches outside of Burdett on Satterly Hill Road were built in the late 1800s to carry the Lehigh Valley Railroad. These railway arches and two others in the Town of Hector in Schuyler County will be discussed at a talk on July 17 at 1 p.m. at the Valois-Logan-Hector Firehall. (Photo provided)

Robotics team to give away $2,500 in prizes

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, June 22, 2022 -- The local youth robotics team, Mechanical Meltdown, is holding The Sizzlin’ Summer Prize Calendar Raffle.

For a $10 donation, the buyer will get a calendar/ticket which will go into 31 daily drawings. One winner will be chosen each day throughout the month of July to receive that day’s prizes. Each prize package has a minimum value of $60 and an average value of $99.

More than 50 local businesses have donated over $2,500 in prizes, which consist of gift baskets, museum and amusement park passes, sports game tickets, and gift certificates to restaurants, ice cream shops, and grocery stores. Contest entry donations will provide funds for robot parts, competition entry fees, and other materials.

Drawings begin July 1st. Anyone interested in supporting the team through this fundraiser can get a ticket by visiting the Watkins Glen Public Library, Famous Brands, or Southern Finger Lakes Equipment. The team will also be selling tickets this Saturday at both the “Euro Meet” in Trumansburg and the “Wings of Eagles Car Show & Swap Meet” in Horseheads. Acceptable forms of payment are cash, checks made out to FLARE, PayPal, or Venmo. Questions? Contact the team via facebook.com/FTC12833 or email ftcflare@gmail.com.

Mechanical Meltdown and FLARE operate under Trumansburg Robotics, Inc., an exempt organization as described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The group is open to students in grades 7-12 and meets regularly in Watkins Glen. For more information, e-mail ftcflare@gmail.com.

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.

Watkins Glen History Walks resume

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, June 1, 2022 -- The Schuyler County Historical Society’s popular Watkins Glen History Walks resumed on Saturday, June 18.

Schuyler County history experts are leading the walks, which include Saturdays July 16 and Aug. 13 and Sundays June 26, July 24 and Aug. 28. Walk leaders include Schuyler County Historian Gary Emerson, Village of Burdett Historian Marty Evans and Historical Society Board President Jean Hubsch.

The free, one-hour walks are enjoyed by visitors and local residents. Participants are asked to meet at the Seneca Harbor Park Pier at 10 a.m. The walks are conducted rain or shine.

For more information, call the Historical Society at (607) 535-9741.

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)

Historic Lee School open house is May 14

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, May 5, 2022 -- Experience the days of learning in a one-room schoolhouse at the annual spring open house at the Schuyler County Historical Society’s Lee School in Montour Falls.

Retired teachers Marty Evans and Judy VanSkiver will play the role of schoolmarms, welcoming visitors of all ages to the Lee School on Saturday, May 14, from 1-3 p.m.

The Lee School is located on Route 14, on the southern edge of Montour Falls. It was built in 1884 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The red, barn-style, painted clapboard building was typical to the mid-to-late 19th century farming communities of the area. It has a large wood-burning stove, school desks, books, blackboards and an antique world globe, all exhibited as they would have been used in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

For more information, contact the Historical Society at (607) 535-9741.

Photo in text: Marty Evans, left, and Judy VanSkiver, both retired Watkins Glen school district teachers, will host the annual spring open house at the Historical Society’s Lee School in Montour Falls on Saturday, May 14, from 1-3 p.m. The one-room schoolhouse was built in 1884. (Photo provided)

Lawrence Chapel open house, talk April 30

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, April 9, 2022 -- The historic Lawrence Chapel, owned and managed by the Schuyler County Historical Society, will be open to visitors on Saturday, April 30.

The open house, from 10 a.m. to noon, will be followed by a barbecue lunch and talk about the Lawrence Chapel at the Bucket Bar and Grill in Odessa. The gathering also will serve as the Historical Society’s annual membership meeting. Reservations were required by April 23 for the lunch and talk.

Gary Emerson, Schuyler County Historian and Historical Society Board of Trustees member, will tell the story of the Lawrence Family, among the earliest settlers in the region. The Chapel was built in 1880 as a memorial to the family, several of whom are buried in the adjacent cemetery.

The Chapel is located on Route 228, about 3.5 miles northeast of Odessa. It 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 public use between May 1 and Oct. 15.

Parking for the open house will be along Route 228. Accessibility to the Chapel is limited for persons with mobility challenges.

Photo in text: Interior of the Lawrence Chapel. (Photo provided)

Firefighters from four districts pose with Kookalaroc's owner Lorraine Menio (third from right) in the State Park parking lot across the street from the bar and grill (in background).

Fund drive seeks support for fire districts

WATKINS GLEN, April 16, 2022 -- A movement has begun to financially help the nine fire districts in Schuyler County -- courtesy of Kookalaroc's Bar & Grill on 11th Street in the village.

The fund-raiser -- through a raffle featuring a 20-gun safe provided by Kookalaroc's and Watkins Glen Supply, a kayak from Kookalaroc's, and a Whiskey Gift Basket from Finger Lakes Distilling -- kicked off Saturday with a breakfast gathering of representatives from four of the districts at the bar-and-grill.

The drive continues until June 11, and is being joined by a Go Fund Me page urging contributions to the fire districts. When all is done, the funds will be distributed evenly among the various fire departments at a meeting of their chiefs. The goal to reach: $5,000.

The gun safe has a value of $2,000, the kayak a value of $500, and the gift basket a value of $100.

The fund drive's origin comes primarily from Kookalaroc's owner S. Lorraine Menio, who says she has relatives in both the military and in emergency services, and sees Schuyler firefighters as military -- who through voluntary service provide protection of the area's communities.

"And each time they respond to a fire," she said, "they are risking their lives."

It is her position, and Kookalaroc's, she said, that the firefighters be paid back through a show of support for what they do and for the recruitment they need to continue functioning over the years. The drive will include a cornhole tournament at the bar and grill, and fund-raising at various department functions, culminating in the Montour Falls Fire Department carnival in June.

The nine districts in the county are Watkins Glen, Odessa, Montour Falls, Burdett, Valois-Logan-Hector, Tyrone, Monterey, Mecklenburg and Bradford.

In a letter to firefighters announcing the drive, Menio wrote in part: "Kookalaroc's is proud of your dedication and the loyalty it takes to commit yourselves and your families" to "the service you give to our communities."

To keep up with Kookalaroc's business and activities, you can visit its website here.

Photos in text: Kookalaroc's fund-drive flyer; and the 20-gun safe being raffled.

Opening weekend kicks off 2022 season

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, April 9, 2022 -- As the winter chill thaws to make way for spring flowers, Watkins Glen International welcomed fans back for Opening Weekend at The Glen Saturday -- the first of two celebratory days.

On Saturday, and again on Sunday, fans -- for a donation ($25 in advance, $30 at the track beginning Saturday) to the Racing and Community Enrichment (R.A.C.E.) Foundation -- are driving their personal vehicles around the iconic Watkins Glen road course. Individuals and car clubs interested in taking their turn around the track can get more information at https://www.theglen.com/events/opening-weekend-2022/.

All proceeds raised during Opening Weekend will benefit the R.A.C.E. Foundation, which distributed $84,450 in 2021 to a total of 32 organizations in Schuyler, Steuben, Chemung, Tioga, Yates and Tompkins counties of New York.

“It’s important to everyone at Watkins Glen and NASCAR that we give back to the communities where we race,” said Watkins Glen International President Michael Printup. “We really aim to help our neighbors in their times of need, so Opening Weekend is a great way to do that and also welcome the fans back to the track for the start of the racing season.”

The Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce joined in the Opening Weekend celebrations by co-hosting the second annual Pep Rally to kick off the 2022 event season at The Glen.

“We are thrilled to partner with WGI to ‘green-flag’ the 2022 season,” said Nigar Hale, Executive Director of the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce. “Auto racing is part of this community’s DNA, and WGI is an internationally renowned treasure. We are excited to be a part of and support the energy that WGI brings to our community.”

With Opening Weekend marking the official beginning of the season for Watkins Glen, the track has a jam-packed lineup of racing and entertainment throughout the year. Below are the key weekends for fans to come check out the action at The Glen:

2022 Watkins Glen International Schedule

April 9-10 -- Opening Weekend
May 20-22 -- Ferrari Challenge North America
June 3-5 -- SCCA Majors Super Tour
June 23-26 -- IMSA Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen
July 7-10 -- Finger Lakes Wine Festival; Masters Historic Racing Weekend
July 21-24 -- GT World Challenge America
August 17-21 -- NASCAR Go Bowling at The Glen
September 8-11 -- Hilliard U.S. Vintage Grand Prix
October 28-29 -- Finger Lakes Beer Festival Presented by Chemung Canal Trust Co.

Health chiefs: Vaccines are still important

SCHUYLER COUNTY, March 24, 2022 -- Public Health directors from around the region, quoting New York Yankees Hall of Famer Yogi Berra, have urged in a joint statement that the public not ignore the continuing availability of COVID-19 vaccines.

"New York Yankees Hall of Famer Yogi Berra’s famous quote 'It ain’t over till it's over' sums up perfectly where we are with the COVID-19 pandemic," the directors wrote.

The group included:

-- Paul A. Pettit, MSL, CPH, Public Health Director, Genesee & Orleans County Health Departments
-- Jennifer Rodriguez, DCS, MS, MSW, Livingston County Public Health Director
-- Mary L. Beer, RN, MPH, Ontario County Public Health Director
-- Nancy King, MD, Schuyler County Interim Public Health Director
-- Scott King, Seneca County Public Health Director
-- Darlene Smith, MS, CPH, Steuben County Public Health Director
-- Diane Devlin RN, MS, BSN, Wayne County Public Health Director
-- Sara Christensen, RN, BSN, Yates County Director of Public Health

"Case numbers among adults are decreasing," their statement said. "Mask mandates have been lifted. As much as it may seem like the pandemic is over, we aren’t quite there yet. Our work isn’t done. We still do not have enough people vaccinated, which is the best protection against serious illness and potential future variants."

In Schuyler County, they added, the vaccination rate among those eligible to be fully vaccinated "is just 56.2% (as of March 3, 2022). Fully vaccinated means having at least two Pfizer or Moderna shots, or one J&J shot, plus the booster for adults -- or two Pfizer shots for children and youth ages 5 to 17."

Those vaccines, they argued, "continue to be our best defense against passing along the virus to loved ones, becoming seriously ill or being hospitalized with COVID. Getting more people vaccinated, while using other tools like testing and isolation after potential exposure, will get us back to normal. But we are not there yet, and we need to keep Yogi Berra’s quote in mind."

They said that more information along those lines is available at www.GetYourAnswers.org

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."

Exhibit to feature Lawrence Chapel events

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Feb. 20, 2022 -- The Schuyler County Historical Society is celebrating its acquisition of the historic Lawrence Chapel with a special exhibit at the Brick Tavern Museum.

The exhibit will open April 1 and will spotlight past events at the Chapel, including weddings. Families are invited to submit photographs of their loved ones’ events for the exhibit.

For information on submitting photos, email director@schuylerhistory.org or call (607) 535-9741. The deadline to submit is March 1.

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 in the Town of Catharine. The Chapel has been used for weddings, church services, concerts and other community events almost continuously since it was built. The Chapel will be available for use between May 1 and Oct. 15.

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

Photo in text: Lawrence Chapel

Rotary honors students, hears Rev. Kelly

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Feb. 17, 2022 -- The Watkins-Montour Rotary Club held an eventful meeting Thursday -- honoring two Odessa-Montour High School students after an almost two-year hiatus from the club's Student of the Month program due to the pandemic.

Honoree Camille Sgrecci was nominated by science teacher Doug Chapman, who said that Camille is "a stellar student, and a role model for her fellow students." Track coach Skip Strobel added that "I want my two daughters to grow up to be just like Camille ... she is a quality person in school and in life, and holds other students up above her own needs."

Camille is currently No. 1 in her class academically and plans to attend Lycoming College.

Strobel then introduced Aidan Thurston, describing Aidan as a "thoughtful young man" he has been proud to "watch grow and prosper." Aidan recently attended an event in Washington, D.C. as a longtime youth member of the Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking and Drugs , and was honored at the Capitol building for his accomplishments as an Eagle Scout. Aidan, who plans to pursue a degree in archeology, is undecided about what college he will attend, but has been accepted to Glascow University, Scotland.

Reverend Mike Kelly spoke to the group about his role as Chaplain for the Schuyler County Sherriff's Office, serving not just law enforcement officers and their families in Schuyler County, but also in Steuben, Tompkins and beyond.

Rev. Kelly currently serves the Montour Falls, Odessa-Catharine, and Beaver Dams United Methodist Churches, and holds numerous roles within the Mountain View District of New York.

The Club also welcomed two new members, Fonda Chronis and David Kimble. Chronis is the recently-appointed Schuyler County Administrator, and Kimble is a Registered Nurse and Infectious Disease specialist.

Photo in text: Reverend Mike Kelly (Photo provided)

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."

Holiday Lights-Schuyler Style votes invited

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Dec. 15, 2021 -- Community members and visitors are invited to vote in the second annual Holiday Lights - Schuyler Style competition presented by the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Warren Homes, WENY, and Seven Mountains Media. It's a month-long contest, so make your plans now to visit Watkins Glen and Schuyler County sometime between now and January 10, 2022.

From silos and barns to grape arbors and house rooftops, locations in Schuyler County have decorated their houses, lawns, fields, and buildings in the quest for top prizes and bragging rights. View the locations and vote for your favorite light and holiday displays as a drive-by in vehicles or a stroll-by on foot. The locations and paper ballot can be downloaded (https://tinyurl.com/WGC-HLSS-ballot) or voters may use the online ballot (https://lp.constantcontactpages.com/sv/cmUZcwR/HLSS).

“This family-friendly activity is a fun way to enjoy the holiday spirit without the need to engage with large crowds,” said Nigar Hale, executive director of the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce. “We’re delighted to present the contest, working with area partners, and look forward to some fabulous displays.”

More than $2,000 in cash prizes plus trophies and ribbons will be awarded to the winners, at the levels of first, second, and third place and honorable mention. Winners will be determined by the public and a panel of judges in the categories of Best Holiday Lights Residential Display (sponsored by Warren Real Estate), Business Display, Organization Display (non-profit or for-profit), and Farm/Barn Display. Additional public-vote awards will be granted in the categories of Best Holiday Lights Local Vote and Best Holiday Lights Visitor Vote (determined by zip codes). Winners will be announced at the Chamber's February monthly mixer on Feb. 2, 2022.

The Holiday Lights - Schuyler Style event is part of the Holiday Happenings & Winter Traditions master calendar compiled by the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce. The symbols depicted in the Holiday Happenings & Winter Traditions logo may serve as inspiration as it encompasses symbols of the many cultures of our region. Participants may feature their own holiday celebrations of this time of year, such as Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Chinese New Year, Los Ponchos, and Winter Solstice.

The Chamber and Watkins Glen Promotions also encourage the incorporation of natural items in displays when possible, such as trees and grapevines, and Watkins Glen Promotions' theme of Visions of Candy Land. Please note, simple and elegant displays are as welcome as grand electric-light displays.

During the 32 days of display, the lights will remain on between the hours of 5:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. through Jan. 10, 2022.

"The Wedding Singer" band of (from left) Gavin Lewis (Sammy), Alex Gill (Robbie Hart, the title character) and Christopher Yerkes (George) perform in the opening scene.

LCP's 'Wedding Singer' ends 3-day run

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Nov. 14, 2021 -- What do dumpsters, Miatas and Flashdancing have in common?

All were part of The Lake Country Players’ production of “The Wedding Singer,” which opened in the Watkins Glen High School auditorium Friday night, Nov. 12, was presented again Saturday night, Nov. 13, and concluded its run with a Sunday matinee on Nov. 14.

The cast of about two dozen included people from ages 17-67 from many surrounding communities and a wide array of careers.

The show is based loosely on the Adam Sandler movie, with a lot more music (directed by Kim Laursen) and choreography (directed by Kelsey Johnson). It takes place in the 1980’s in Ridgefield, NJ, and tells the story of Robbie Hart (Alex Gill) and his band of Sammy (Gavin Lewis) and George (Christopher Yerkes), who have made a name for themselves singing at wedding receptions. Love triangles evolve with two waitresses at the reception hall -- Julia (Kelsey Johnson) and Holly (AnnaBeth Wheaton). Julia becomes engaged to wealthy, slightly slimey executive Glen Guglia (Matt Kelly), and Robbie is jilted at the altar by his gold-digger fiancé Linda (Kristin Heichel). Robbie’s Gramma Rosie (Gail Lewis) tries to comfort him when Linda dumps him, but he falls in love with Julia while acting as her wedding advisor. Robbie thinks that he needs to make a lot of money to win Julia’s heart as expressed in the ensemble number “All About the Green.”

Does Robbie really win Julia’s heart, or does she marry Glen for money? Robbie needs some help along the way from the impersonators: Ronald Reagan (Anthony Curren), Billy Idol (Chad Maurice), Tina Turner (Melissa Norton), Cyndi Lauper (Melissa Neufer) and Imelda Marcos (Ann Roney).

All Covid protocols applied, and the audience had to be masked.

Photo in text: Kelsey Johnson as Julia Sullivan sings in the opening act.

Backed by Spirit of Schuyler board members, the four young fund-raisers hold the check they presented Saturday. From left, they are Norah Stegner, Lydia Schubmehl, Lucas Schubmehl and Rowen Stegner.

4 Watkins Glen kids raise $1,001 for SOS

Spirit of Schuyler -- and county residents in need -- benefit from the effort

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Oct. 9, 2021 -- Talk about your civic-minded younger generation.

Four young Watkins Glen citizens -- three of them 9 years old and one 13 -- presented the Spirit of Schuyler organization with a check Saturday morning for $1,001 in a ceremony at McGillicuddy's Bar & Grill in Montour Falls. Spirit of Schuyler is a non-profit that provides emergency funding for county residents in need.

The kids raised the money through selling cookies and lemonade at the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Festival in downtown Watkins Glen on September 10, at the busy corner of Fourth and Franklin Streets in front of the Cabins to Castles Real Estate.

The fund-raisers are Norah Stegner, 13, and her sister Rowen, 9, along with twins Lucas and Lydia Schubmehl, both 9.

Norah says she likes to bake, and decided she could raise some funds to donate to a worthy cause by making and selling cookies. Her mom, Stacey Parrish -- who runs Cabins to Castles -- suggested Norah might raise the money for the Spirit of Schuyler.

Norah made chocolate chip, oatmeal and half-moon cookies, which she said sold out fairly quickly on the day of the Grand Prix Festival.

Joining her on the busy corner -- with lemonade to sell -- were Norah’s sister Rowen and the Schubmehl siblings.

While the idea to raise funds was Norah’s, “she was kind enough to allow the other kids to sell lemonade,” said the Schubmehls' father, Jesse, who explained that his family lives just a block from the Stegner kids, and that the nine-year-olds are classmates in the Watkins Glen school district and friends. Jesse operates McGillicuddy's, where the presentation took place.

It seems like $1,001 would require a lot of cookies and lemonade, but the parents of the children (Dennis Stegner was on hand at the check presentation with Stacey, and Keri Schubmehl was there with Jesse) said many people donated extra funds, often $20, in reaction to the good cause chosen by the children.

The kids also drummed up business by carrying signs along Franklin Street directing festival-goers to the lemonade and cookie stands.

Accepting the check Saturday were officers of the Spirit of Schuyler, led by its president, Tony Vickio, and his wife Harriett, along with their daughter Beth Howard and board members Renee Riley, Dena Carrigan, Gary Whyman, Chris Wickham and Bob Dill.

The Vickios were effusive in their praise for what the kids had done -- how their act of civic kindness will have far-reaching effects for those in need who the Spirit of Schuyler helps.

And the kids?

“They were pretty excited,” said Jesse. “They didn’t know” about the check presentation until “people from the Spirit of Schuyler started arriving for it.”

Other than being the center of attention, they were excited later, he said, by “seeing their picture on Facebook.”

Photos in text:

Top: Lydia Schubmehl signs the check for $1,001 signed by all the kids and presented to the Spirit of Schuyler.

Bottom: Holding the Certificates of Achievement they received from the Spirit of Schuyler are, from left, Norah Stegner, Lydia Schubmehl, Lucas Schubmehl and Rowen Stegner. Each certificate read: "Spirit of Schuyler recognizes (name) for embodying the spirit of giving, putting others first, and giving back to community neighbors in need. The world is a better place because of you."

SCOPE, Getman give out 100+ gun locks

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Oct. 3, 2021 -- The Schuyler County Chapter of the Shooters Committee on Political Education (SCOPE), in conjunction with the Office of Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman, gave away more than 100 free cable-style gun locks to Schuyler County families at the Montour Falls Harvest Fest on Saturday, Oct. 2.

According to Getman, the giveaway helps ensure that gun owners are in compliance with New York's strict firearms storage laws, which require them to lock up their firearms while living in a home with someone under the age of 16.

The locks can also be obtained from the county attorney's office by calling 607-535-8121 during normal business hours and scheduling a pickup time. One lock will be available per household and will be provided on a "first-come, first-served" basis. Supplies are limited.

"We encourage county residents to pick up a free lock so that they can securely store their firearm," said Getman. "The locks fit on most types of handguns, rifles and shotguns. The cable is threaded through the weapon and blocks the barrel or the use of ammunition. It's secured by a padlock and key. The goal is to prevent a young child or another unauthorized person from accessing a firearm in the home."

SCOPE is a non-partisan statewide 501(c)4 organization dedicated to educating the public about firearm ownership, second amendment rights and legislation. The Schuyler County chapter's meetings are held on the second Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. in January, March, May and October at the Montour Falls Moose Lodge, 2096 St. Rt. 14.

The Schuyler County Attorney is the legal advisor to the county legislature, county administrator and other county officials. In addition, the county attorney prosecutes family court cases of child abuse and neglect, juvenile delinquency and other civil matters on behalf of county officials.

Photo in text: Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman (right) with SCOPE members Dan Phillips, Les Wilson and Bob Edwards) handing out free gun locks at Saturday's Falls Harvest Festival in Montour Falls. (Photo provided)

Hear Street Racing stories on History Walk

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Sept. 26, 2021 --  Racing historian Bill Green and Watkins Glen Village Historian Jim Scaptura will lead a walk through the village’s street racing history on Saturday, Oct. 2.

The first races on the streets of Watkins Glen and the roads of surrounding towns were on Oct. 2, 1948.

Walk participants are asked to meet at 10 a.m. at the original start-finish line in front of the Schuyler County Courthouse on Franklin Street in Watkins Glen. The one-hour walk will happen rain or shine.

It is free and sponsored by the Schuyler County Historical Society.

For more information, contact the Historical Society at (607) 535-9741.

Photo in text: Sports cars raced on Watkins Glen streets and town roads from 1948-1952. In this photograph, a large 1950 crowd enjoys the view looking east onto Fourth Street from today’s Gifford Park at Milliken’s Corner. They’re watching the rolling-start pace lap of the Seneca Cup. Racing history experts will share racing history stories on a guided walk on Saturday, Oct. 2, the anniversary of the first race. (Photo provided)

Historic Lee School open house set for Oct. 2

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Sept. 24, 2021 -- As part of the Montour Falls Harvest Festival on Saturday, Oct. 2, the historic Lee School will be open to visitors from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Hosts from the Schuyler County Historical Society will help visitors understand the experience of learning in a one-room schoolhouse.

The Lee School is located on Route 14, on the southern edge of Montour Falls. It was built in 1884 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The red, barn-style, painted clapboard building was typical to the mid-to-late 19th century farming communities of the area. It has a large wood-burning stove, school desks, books, blackboards and an antique world globe, all exhibited as they would have been used in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

For more information, contact the Historical Society at (607) 535-9741.

Cotton & Hanlon delivery trucks and drivers fill the service area at the business’s Odessa retail yard in this 1931 photograph from “The Cotton Hanlon Story.” Cotton-Hanlon is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

Cotton-Hanlon's 100-year history will be presented in discussion on September 26

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Sept. 18, 2021 -- In 1921, B.J. Cotton and H.A. Hanlon formed a partnership to operate sawmills in East Smithfield and Columbia Cross Roads in Pennsylvania and North Chemung in New York.

One hundred years later, the Schuyler County Historical Society is hosting Cotton-Hanlon President Michael Hanlon on Sunday, Sept. 26, to discuss the company’s history.

The talk will be at 2 p.m. at the Odessa Municipal Building Community Room. The talk is free. Due to continuing concerns about community health, masks will be required. Cotton-Hanlon artifacts and photographs will be displayed.

H.A. Hanlon was a lumberman in Chemung County, and B.J. Cotton was a merchant and lumberman in Tioga County, NY, when they began to work together. Over the decades, Cotton-Hanlon has been a forest manager, lumber manufacturer and renowned retailer. Generations of Schuyler residents worked for Cotton-Hanlon across the region or shopped at the store in Odessa.

For more information about the talk, call the Brick Tavern Museum at (607) 535-9741 or email director@schuylerhistory.org.

Webcam showing Seneca is now online

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Sept. 14, 2021 -- A webcam showing the Seneca Lake shoreline at Seneca Harbor Park is online thanks to a partnership between BOSS Security & Automation, Seneca Harbor Station, and the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce.

View the live feed here: https://www.ipcamlive.com/acb92fbd0c3b

“The lake is one of our region’s most important treasures,” said Chamber Executive Director Michael Hardy. “Community members and visitors alike relax and renew with activities on Seneca Lake. Boating, kayaking, tubing, fishing, sailing, swimming, sightseeing ... Seneca Lake offers something for everyone, even pets. We are excited to share Seneca Lake’s beauty with the world via this webcam.”

BOSS Security & Automation installed the system in a secure location on Seneca Harbor Station’s property. The webcam will operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

“Seneca Lake has been a part of my life forever,” said Mark Simiele, owner of Seneca Harbor Station. “We enjoy the opportunity to share it with as many people as possible at our waterfront restaurant and aboard our cruises. Other than being a centerpiece for Schuyler County’s tourism industry, Seneca Lake serves many diverse and important purposes. It’s a haven for those looking to recreate. It’s crucial to our eco-system, supporting hundreds of species. It moderates the temperature, making our region ideal for viticulture.”

"This project was a great collaboration between the Chamber, Seneca Harbor Station, and us at BOSS Security and Automation,” said Matthew Putt, Director of Technology, BOSS Security and Automation. “For myself, this particular view of Seneca Lake has always been the first to come to mind during my travels when explaining to others the grandeur and beauty of Upstate New York and the Finger Lakes region.

"So many memories have been made in this very spot by so many, and now they have the opportunity to visit this view again no matter where they are in the world. I hope the memories put smiles on their faces, they are reminded of all our region has to offer, and are encouraged to visit us again."

Schuyler County Farm Trail Weekend:
10 of the area's farms will open for tours

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Aug. 31, 2021 -- Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schuyler County will host the second annual Schuyler County Farm Trail Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 25 and 26.

Ten of the finest farms throughout Schuyler County will open to the public, offering tours, tastings, hayrides, demonstrations, apple picking, shopping, and opportunities to meet the farm animals.

Admission to the farms is complimentary. Guests can purchase produce and goodies from the farms, including hand-crafted cheeses, apples, veggies, jams, cider, donuts, pies, and alpaca products. The event is supported with an award from the Tourism Assistance Program (TAP).

Participating farms are listed below.

Additional details are available online: http://cceschuyler.org/agriculture/schuyler-county-farm-trail-weekend-2021.

Participating farms:

Saturday, Sept. 25:

Cheerful Cherry Farm: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
3723 County Road 2, Hector.
Highlights: This is a u-pick produce farm (as available), featuring tomatoes, cherries, apples, jalapenos, sweet peppers, cucumbers, and Italian stringless green beans.

Four Seasons Alpacas -- Celebrating National Alpaca Farm Days: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
4418 Six Corners Road, Dundee.
Highlights: Farm tours and an array of products for purchase including alpaca rugs, throws, wall hanging, hats, gloves, scarves, and pillows.

Hawk Meadow Farm: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
5066 Mott Evans Road, Trumansburg.
Highlights: Farm tours, log-grown mushrooms, and mushroom products for sale; maple syrup and herbal skincare products also available for sale.

Muddy Fingers Farm: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
3859 Dugue Road, Hector.
Highlights: Diverse vegetable production and produce for sale.

Ort Family Farm: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
2761 Yorski Road, Bradford.
Highlights: More than 100 flavors of fruit jams and jellies, herbal tea blends made from farm grown fruit and herbs, and potted fruiting plants. Bartlett Family Farm will also be on site with an assortment of maple products. Ford Farm will attend with a selection of fall vegetables and more.

Reisinger's Apple Country/Apples and Moore LLC: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
2750 Apple Lane, Watkins Glen.
Highlights: U-pick apples, pears, zinnia flowers, and pumpkins available. In the farm store: donuts, cider, maple syrup, honey, jams, and jellies.

Russell's Alpaca Acres -- Celebrating National Alpaca Farm Days: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
4047 Newtown  Road, Burdett.
Highlights: Take a tour, visit the newborn baby alpaca, and learn about raising alpacas. Alpaca products, yarn, and raw fleece will be available to purchase.

Seneca Valley Dairy Farm: Tours at 10 a.m., 12 noon and 2 p.m. only.
3758 County Route 8, Burdett.
Highlights: Visit a working dairy farm. See cows, milking parlor, and other farm experiences.

Shtayburne Farm Creamery: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
2909 Chase Road, Rock Stream.
Highlights: An old-fashioned working dairy farm with cows and hand-crafted artisan cheeses, featuring cheese-making demos.

Sunset View Creamery: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
4970 County Route 14, Odessa.
Highlights: A dairy farm nestled in the rolling hills of Schuyler County, offering tours, hayrides, activities for kids, and shopping. Hand-crafted cheese, locally sourced beef, free-range eggs, fudge, maple syrup, honey, jams, and jellies are available.

Sunday, Sept. 26:

Cheerful Cherry Farm: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
3723 County Road 2, Hector.
Highlights: This is a u-pick produce farm (as available), featuring tomatoes, cherries, apples, jalapenos, sweet peppers, cucumbers, and Italian stringless green beans.

Four Seasons Alpacas -- Celebrating National Alpaca Farm Days: Noon to 4 p.m.
4418 Six Corners Road, Dundee.
Highlights: Farm tours and an array of products for purchase including, alpaca rugs, throws, wall hanging, hats, gloves, scarves ,and pillows.

Russell's Alpaca Acres -- Celebrating National Alpaca Farm Days: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
4047 Newtown Road, Burdett.
Highlights: Take a tour, visit the newborn baby alpaca, and learn about raising alpacas. Alpaca products, yarn, and raw fleece will be available to purchase.

Ort Family Farm: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
2761 Yorski Road, Bradford.
Highlights: More than 100 flavors of fruit jams and jellies, herbal tea blends made from farm grown fruit and herbs, and potted fruiting plants. Bartlett Family Farm will also be on site with an assortment of maple products.

Reisinger's Apple Country/Apples and Moore LLC: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
2750 Apple Lane, Watkins Glen.
Highlights: U-pick apples, pears, zinnia flowers, and pumpkins available. In the farm store: donuts, cider, maple syrup, honey, jams, and jellies.

Seneca Valley Dairy Farm: Tours at 10 a.m., 12 noon and 2 p.m. only.
3758 County Route 8, Burdett.
Highlights: Visit a working dairy farm. See cows, milking parlor, and other farm experiences.

Sunset View Creamery: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
4970 County Route 14, Odessa.
Highlights: A dairy farm nestled in the rolling hills of Schuyler County, offering tours, hayrides, activities for kids, and shopping. Hand-crafted cheese, locally sourced beef, free-range eggs, fudge, maple syrup, honey, jams and jellies are available.

New sponsorship marks GP Festival return

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Aug. 19, 2021 -- Drivers in one of the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Festival’s most popular events will have a new “starting line” this year as they gather at The Tasting Barn for the Ryan William Vineyard Founders Tour, one of the Festival’s Stone Bridge Driver events.

The Watkins Glen Grand Prix Festival celebrates the history of U.S. road racing after World War II, which began in Watkins Glen with street racing from 1948-1952. This year’s festival will be held on Friday, September 10, and will bring back the crowds, the cars, and the excitement that fans missed with the absence of the event in 2020. Once again, Franklin Street in the village will be closed from 12:30 p.m to 8:00 p.m. as Stone Bridge Drivers and Sportscar Vintage Racing Association race cars take laps of the original road course through and outside the village.

One of those events, the Ryan William Vineyard Founders Tour, has a new look this year. The nearly 100 participants will start their day at the Ryan William Vineyard Tasting Barn on Rt. 414, overlooking Seneca Lake. There, they will enjoy meeting and greeting the Ryan William Vineyard staff, who will provide box lunches and complimentary wine before the drivers set off on cross-country rallye routes throughout the Finger Lakes area. They will re-convene in Watkins Glen later in the day for their scheduled two Cayuga Health System Laps of the Old Course.

Marianne Marts, Chair of the Grand Prix Festival, thanked Ryan William Vineyard for the new sponsorship. “For recent festivals, the Founders Tour has shared starting space with Chateau LaFayette Reneau winery, which also hosts our very popular Tour de Marque Road Rallye, featuring Alfa Romeo this year. We are thrilled that Ryan William Vineyard has become the sponsor of the Founders Tour, giving our drivers and participants a new rallye experience!”

The Ryan William Vineyard Founders Tour is one of the festival’s 13 Stone Bridge Driver events; owners of classic, vintage, and specialty cars participate in this event each year. Ryan William Vineyard is located just a short drive from Watkins Glen, on State Route 414, just past Tug Hollow Road.

The Watkins Glen Grand Prix Festival, Presented by Chemung Canal Trust Company, is produced by Watkins Glen Promotions, a non-profit organization dedicated to producing special events in Schuyler County, N.Y.

A member of the Williamson High School Warriors band, which marched in the parade.

Italian American Festival highlighted on final day by parade, rides and fireworks

WATKINS GLEN, Aug. 14, 2021 -- After a one-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the Watkins Glen Italian American Festival opened its two-day run Friday at Clute Park in Watkins Glen, and concluded with fireworks Saturday night. The rain or shine festival featured food, family fun, vendors, music, carnival rides, and a parade.

The parade, on Saturday at noon, celebrated our essential workers. It took place down Decatur Street in Watkins Glen, starting at 15th Street and ending on 5th Street. Grand Marshals were Junior Specchio and Vera Franzese, while Olympic women's eight rower and Watkins Glen native Olivia Coffey marched near the end of the parade, waving to and greeting cheering fans.

The emcee for the parade was Jim Howell, a fixture at such events. The parade of march included fire trucks from various area departments, the Williamson High School marching band, the two candidates running for Schuyler County Sheriff (Kevin Rumsey and Breck Spaulding), and other politicians, along with vehicles representing businesses in the region. Also on hand were employees from Schuyler County Public Health and Cayuga Health, among the essential workers being celebrated.

The Saturday fireworks show occurred over the south end of Seneca Lake starting at 9:30 p.m.

The festival was designed for all ages and featured carnival rides, a festival food row, a vendor marketplace, a beer garden, two performances from local bands -- The Ampersand Project on Friday night and The Variables on Saturday night -- and the fireworks show. The festival also partnered with Schuyler County Health and Arnot Health to host two walk-in vaccine clinics at the Clute Park Pavilion.

Highlights Saturday beyond the parade and fireworks included a cornhole tournament in the morning and Italian music in the park from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Parking for the event was $5.00 per vehicle when parking at Clute Park, proceeds going to the Watkins Glen Italian American Festival’s community involvement and fundraising. Carnival ride bands and tickets were sold at the event. There was no cover charge for the bands. Beer tickets were sold 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. Proceeds from the festival are provided to local charities and for scholarships for graduating seniors in Schuyler County School Districts (Watkins Glen Central and Odessa-Montour Central).

For more information, visit Watkinsglenitalianfest.com or follow the festival on Facebook.

Photos in text: Olympian rower Olivia Coffey, a native of Watkins Glen, was a featured highlight of the parade; food vendors populated the Italian American Festival walkways.

Parade Grand Marshals were Junior Specchio, left, and Vera Franzese, right. A blessing for the parade was bestowed by Father Jeff Tunnicliff across the street from St. Mary's of the Lake Church on Decatur Street.

This sign was carried near the front of the line of march along Decatur Street.

Among the fire trucks in the parade: this 1951 American LaFrance show vehicle owned by the Watkins Glen Fire Department.

Kids aboard the Zero Gravity ride at the Watkins Glen Italian American Festival.

Italian American Festival will partner with Public Health for COVID-19 vaccine clinic

Special to the Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Aug. 3, 2021 -- The Watkins Glen Italian American Festival is partnering with Schuyler County Public Health to offer COVID-19 vaccinations during the event. The vaccine clinic will occur during the festivities on Saturday, August 14th, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Clute Park Pavilion.

“The Watkins Glen Italian American Festival Committee is pleased to be partnering with Schuyler County Public Health to offer COVID-19 vaccinations during this year’s festival,” said Louie Perazinni, IAF President. “The Schuyler County Public Health Department has played a key role in helping our organization determine whether we could put on this year’s event, and their support has been greatly appreciated. Our goal is to bring back family friendly fun to Schuyler County, but to do so in a safe way. Partnering with Public Health to provide this clinic just makes sense!”

“As we continue to seek additional venues to provide this lifesaving vaccine, I cannot think of a better opportunity than that presented by the Italian Festival,” said Schuyler County Administrator Tim O’Hearn. “Given the large crowds that enjoy this event, it is my hope that we will significantly increase the number of vaccinated, and thereby protected, individuals in our community. This is yet another example of the power of partnership and we offer sincere thanks to the festival organizers for their collaborative spirit!”

“I am thrilled the event is able to happen again this year!” said Schuyler County Public Health Director Annmarie Flanagan DNP, FNP-C. “The dedication of all the members of the Italian American Festival planning committee who worked so hard to make this event possible is truly appreciated.”

The single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be provided at this clinic and walk-in appointments will be provided. Individuals must be 18 or older to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The Department requests that individuals please bring their ID and should expect to wait about 15 to 30 minutes after getting their vaccine.

Schuyler County Public Health says its mission is to protect and empower the community to be safe, healthy and prepared. Its vision is a connected community of healthy people and safe places.

For more information, visit Public Health online at www.schuylercounty.us/publichealth or follow Schuyler County Public Health on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Alfa Romeo cars, drivers sought for festival

Special to the Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, July 23, 2021 -- Alfa Romeo cars and their drivers will be the featured guests this September as the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Festival returns to the streets.

Marianne Marts, Chair of the Grand Prix Festival, is urging Alfa owners who were unable to participate in the cancelled 2020 events to “Fill The Festival” with Alfa Romeo vehicles on September 9 and 10, 2021.

Marts said, “While we and our participants were seriously disappointed by the Coronavirus cancellations last year, we plan to roar back this year with our full slate of road rallies and events, with Alfa Romeo leading the pack!”

The Watkins Glen Grand Prix Festival, sponsored by the Chemung Canal Trust Company, celebrates the history of post-World War Two road racing in the United States, in the village where it all began. Alfa Romeo racers were part of the action during the “street years” of 1948-1952. The racing events on the original 6.6-mile course through the village and on nearby roads led to Watkins Glen’s prominence in auto racing.

For the 2021 Festival, Alfa owners are invited to join two featured events. On Thursday, September 9, the “Lakewood Vineyards FLX Alfa Romeo Journey To The Top,” which includes an Alfa show at Lafayette Park, will be followed by a road rally to Lakewood Vineyards and a final stop at the Top Of The Lake Restaurant in Penn Yan. On Friday, September 10, Alfas will be featured in the “Watkins Glen International Tour De Marque, Launched from Chateau Lafayette Reneau.” This event includes a road rally, visit to Watkins Glen International, and two Cayuga Health System Laps of the Old Course.

The Watkins Glen Grand Prix Festival is produced by Watkins Glen Promotions, a not-for-profit 501 C-3 organization.

Rondinaro to again anchor live cinema event

Special to The Odessa File

FRENCH LICK, Ind., July 5, 2021 -- Watkins Glen native Steve Rondinaro will be live on more than 700 movie screens across the country the evening of July 15th with the DCI Celebration Countdown.

Rondinaro is a familiar face and voice in the marching music and pageantry arts world as broadcast host of the Drum Corps International World Championship since 1979. Twenty-six of those years were on PBS, followed by ESPN, and now in movie theaters across the country.

“This live show in July is special,” says Rondinaro. “It shows the world that our activity has survived COVID and sets the stage for a very special championship week in Indianapolis come August. A healthy DCI bodes well for the marching band community as well.”

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to once again set the stage for the world’s greatest marching music performers,” DCI CEO Dan Acheson said. “The ‘DCI Celebration Countdown’ will be the perfect way to launch an exciting summer of incredible performances.”

The show begins at 8 p.m. and will be carried live. The closest location offering the program is the Regal Ithaca Mall 14.

"We are proud to continue our longstanding 17-year partnership with DCI,” Fathom Events CEO Ray Nutt said. “Movie theater audiences coast-to-coast always enjoy the exhilarating DCI programming, and we are pleased to present this celebration featuring a look towards the 2021 season and top performances from the past six years.”

Photo in text: Steve Rondinaro (Provided)

Sundaes & Shots at Great Escape on July 7

SCHUYLER COUNTY, June 29, 2021 -- Schuyler County Public Health and the Great Escape Ice Cream Parlor are partnering to hold a Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine clinic at the Great Escape, located at 221 S. Franklin St., Watkins Glen. The clinic will take place on Wednesday, July 7 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Attendees will receive the one-time Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine along with a sundae from Great Escape -- all at no cost.

“The Great Escape Ice Cream Parlor is such a great partner to work with for this clinic and we can’t thank them enough for donating free sundaes for people who come to get vaccinated,” said Schuyler County Public Health Director Annmarie Flanagan DNP, FNP-C. “Come by to enjoy the summer weather, a free sundae, and protection from COVID-19.”

“This is but one more example of our community’s resilience and commitment to recovering and rebounding from the effects of this pandemic,” said Schuyler County Administrator Tim O'Hearn. “We hope that this collaboration between Public Health and the Great Escape Ice Cream Parlor will encourage eligible individuals to get vaccinated and receive a free sundae!”

Peter Honsberger, the owner of The Great Escape Ice Cream Parlor, shared that he partnered with Schuyler County Public Health for this event because “I am a big believer in vaccinations and I want to do it for our community and for the people coming here as visitors.”

Walk-in appointments will be provided at this clinic. Attendees must be 18 or older and should bring their ID with them. They should also wear a short sleeve shirt and should expect to wait about 15 to 30 minutes after getting their vaccine.

For more information, visit Schuyler County Public Health online at www.schuylercounty.us/publichealth or follow Schuyler County Public Health on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Walk to End Alzheimer's planned for WGI

WATKINS GLEN, June 17, 2021 -- Fill your tank and buckle up for the 14th annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s, which moves to Watkins Glen International for 2021. The Alzheimer’s Association event in the Southern Tier is scheduled for Thursday, October 14.

Leaders from the Alzheimer’s Association, Hilliard Corp. and Watkins Glen International made the announcement at a press conference Thursday at the race track.

“To move our event to one of the world’s most recognizable sporting venues is a vehicle to elevating the stature and impact of Walk to End Alzheimer’s across America,” said Teresa Galbier, chapter executive for the Alzheimer’s Association Rochester & Finger Lakes Region Chapter.

“We’re honored to call Watkins Glen International our new home and look forward to growing this relationship,” she said.

Participants taking part in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s will walk on the same 3.45-mile asphalt road course that hosts races on the NASCAR, IMSA, SCCA and GT World Challenge circuits. The announcement is part of the plan to host Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s events in person this fall.

“The health and safety of participants, volunteers and staff remain the Association’s top priorities while continuing to monitor the pandemic and make decisions about event details in local communities,” Galbier said. “While planning to gather in person, the Alzheimer’s Association will continue to offer options to participate in Walk to End Alzheimer’s online and in neighborhoods across the country.

“Alzheimer’s did not take a hiatus during COVID-19 and neither did we,” Galbier continued. “It’s crucial that we continue Walk to End Alzheimer’s, and work with all participants to ensure they have a powerful and moving experience that is felt when we are together. Many of our constituents are at higher risk when it comes to COVID-19 and we know that our volunteers and participants appreciate our commitment to keeping all involved healthy and safe.”

The first Southern Tier Walk to End Alzheimer’s took place in 2008 and has been conducted in both Elmira and Corning. Its continued growth in the community necessitated a larger venue that offered the ability to participate safely with distancing between groups.

“I am happy to chair this wonderful event that will help continue the effort to find both treatments and a cure for this disease which affects so many people,” said Arie “Jan” van den Blink, CEO/Chairman of The Hilliard Corp. and chair of the 2021 Walk to End Alzheimer’s-Southern Tier, NY. “We are very happy to have the walk this year at the world-famous Watkins Glen International race track, which will provide our supporters with a unique up close view of this great facility. I would like to thank Michael Printup and his staff for hosting us this year and we look forward to a great day in October to continue to raise funds and awareness in the fight against Alzheimer’s.”

“We couldn’t be more excited to host the very important Walk to End Alzheimer’s here at The Glen,” sad Michael Printup, president of Watkins Glen International. “Our vast facility provides an ideal location to welcome the event’s growing participation while ensuring everyone is adhering to proper social distancing protocols.”

Watkins Glen International is the premier road racing facility in North America, four times voted “Best NASCAR Track” by readers of USA Today. The Hilliard Corp. is the local presenting sponsor for Walk to End Alzheimer’s-Southern Tier, NY and Wegmans is the lead sponsor for Walk to End Alzheimer’s events in the Finger Lakes (Canandaigua), Rochester and Southern Tier.

More than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease — a leading cause of death in the United States. Additionally, more than 11 million family members and friends provide care to people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. In New York alone, there are more than 410,000 people living with the disease and more than one million caregivers.

To register and receive the latest updates on this year’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s, visit: alz.org/walk

Curtiss Museum opens Art at War Exhibit, with rare aircraft squadron fabric insignia

HAMMONDSPORT, June 12, 2021 -- The Glenn H. Curtiss Museum has unveiled its new Art at War Exhibit , which will remain open to the public through the fall of 2021.

The Art of War: Squadron Insignia from the Curtiss Collection Exhibit started as part of a relatively simple, yet tedious effort to catalog a collection of 60 years in more detail. During the process museum officials came across some long, slim archival boxes containing a series of canvas rolls. As they gently unrolled each one from the first box, images began to peek out for the first time in decades: a parrot, a hound, a duck with an umbrella, an alligator and a beautiful ladybug. It wasn’t until they had them all together and rolled out that they realized the true scale of their collection of aircraft fabric art. But they had no details.

Early in 2020 they reached out to the National Naval Aviation Museum and began a "digital" excursion through aircraft insignia history with the NNAM team. They determined that the pieces were authentic vintage aircraft insignia, primarily from the golden age of early naval aviation when open-cockpit biplanes launched from the decks of the earliest aircraft carriers, U.S. Navy forward bases, and even battleships. Many can be directly connected to Navy units from the 1920s to as late as 1940. The titans of early American aviation are represented: Boeing, Vought, Martin, and of course, Curtiss. Some ships involved are equally astonishing: USS Lexington, USS Saratoga, USS Ranger, and perhaps the most unexpected, the USS Arizona.

There are six images representing French squadrons from World War I, roughly dating from 1914-1918. All but one are in fantastic condition for their age. Squadron numbers and iconic early manufacturers include: Salmson, SPAD, Farman, Breguet, Fokker, and Nieuport.

“In total, our collection of original aviation insignia has grown to nineteen unique pieces (with a few duplicates), each a window into the past,” said Benjamin Johnson, Executive Director of the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum. “As an unrepentant aviation history ‘nerd’ since childhood, I am genuinely astonished by what we found. From French airfields to the decks of the Saratoga, from interwar Hawaii to the seaplane hoist of the USS Arizona, these pieces survived over a century to end up in Hammondsport, New York. What stories they could tell!”

It is the finest collection of its type that I have ever seen in over 40 years, and I would be amazed if there is anything that currently exists that could rival it,” said Robert R. “Buddy” Macon, Deputy Director, National Naval Aviation Museum. “The fact that the collection has survived over 100 years and is being preserved to be made available for the next 100 is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. Everyone should take the time, make the pilgrimage to the Glenn Curtiss Museum and take it all in.”

No matter how long one works in this field, the opportunity to identify a collection like this doesn’t happen very often,” added Johnson. “Though unseen for decades, they resurfaced at the exact right time, when the right combination of people and resources came together.”

About the Glenn Curtiss Museum

The Glenn H. Curtiss Museum is an educational and cultural institution that collects, preserves, and interprets transportation modes and regional history, and celebrates the innovations and accomplishments of pioneer aviator Glenn Hammond Curtiss. The museum contains a priceless collection relating to early aviation and regional history. The museum also features a 75-seat theater, large open area for special events and a museum store. In addition to seeing the museum displays and exhibits, visitors are welcome to visit the Restoration Shop, talk with volunteer craftsman and watch them work on historic craft. The museum is located at 8419 State Route 54 near Keuka Lake and the historic village of Hammondsport.

For more information contact: www.curtissmuseum.com or (607) 569-2160.

Photos in text:

A Curtiss Goshawk fighter plane, photographed in 1933-34 while serving with Fighter Squadron 1B, and below that a Top Hat fabric insignia. The squadron operated Curtiss F11C-2 "Goshawks" on the carrier USS Saratoga in the Pacific Fleet from 1933-39. The squadron has undergone many changes in designation over the years and is the oldest continuously active squadron in the U.S. Navy, now known as "VFA 14 'Top Hatters.'" (Provided)

Community Chorus sings "Battle Hymn of the Republic" at Veterans Park ceremony.

Memorial Day services held in Montour and at Schuyler County Veterans Park

SCHUYLER COUNTY, May 31, 2021 -- Sunny skies and moderate temperatures greeted the annual Memorial Day ceremonies Monday at Shequagah Falls in Montour Falls and at the Schuyler County Veterans Memorial Park outside Odessa.

Both ceremonies had the same band (from Odessa-Montour High School), the same Taps bugler (Bernie Riley) and the same keynote speaker.

That was retired Naval Operations Specialist and retired North Carolina Special Needs teacher Marcel (Tony) Veilleux of Odessa, who spoke on the theme of "Citizenship" -- and how we in this country have lost that particular building block of democracy.

The first ceremony was in Montour Falls, emceed by Mayor Jim Ryan and featuring the OMCS band, a Montour Falls Fire Department Color Guard, an American Legion Post 676 Honor Guard, the National Anthem sung by O-M student Felisha Cook, a reading of "Flanders Field" by O-M student Ben Campbell, a reading of the names of recently fallen veterans by O-M student Sarah Barr, an invocation and benediction by Rev. George Norton, and the assistance in the ceremony by four young "honorary mayors": Chase Champion, Henley Colunio, Seth Janke and Henry Stephens.

The second ceremony, at the Veterans Park on Route 228, was emceed by Rick Lewis, Commander of the American Legion Cole-Hansenberger-Deland Post 676. It featured the OMCS Band, a keynote by Veilleux, a tribute to the late Post 676 Honor Guard bugler Thomas Darling, an opening prayer and closing benediction by Pastor Tammie Veilleux, and a performance of "Battle Hymn of the Republic" by a Community Chorus.

In his address at both ceremonies, Veilleux said that the concerpt of Citizenship, where neighbors cared for neighbors -- where one man might run into a burning building to help another -- has fallen by the wayside. We need, he said, to relearn "what it means to be a good citizen" -- one who, in the words of President Theodore Roosevelt, "pulls his own weight"; and one who, in the words of President Lyndon Johnson, participates in government, not merely counting on it to provide for him or her.

In that relearning, he said, citizens of the United States will find that not only are there many rights vested in them by the Constitution, but "many responsibilities." Among the measures that might be taken: reintroducing Civics in our schools' lesson plans; and a "reeling in" of social media, which he called "a bad experiment."

"A strong building requires a strong foundation," he said "Let's be strong citizens so our country can stand strong."

Photos in text: From top: Keynote speaker Marcel (Tony) Veilleux and emcees Jim Ryan (at Montour Falls ceremony) and Rick Lewis (at Veterans Memorial Park ceremony).

Left: Joshua and Brooke McCray prepare to place flowers at the base of a monument in Veterans Memorial Park as part of the service there. Right: O-M student Felisha Cook sings the National Anthem at the Montour Falls ceremony.

The Color Guards at the Veterans Memorial Park service (left) and at the one in Montour.

Shells eject during the 21-gun salute at the end of the Veterans Memorial Park service.

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)

Historic Lee School open house is May 15

Special to
The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, May 5, 2021 -- Experience the days of learning in a one-room schoolhouse at the annual spring open house at the Schuyler County Historical Society’s Lee School in Montour Falls.

Retired teachers Marty Evans and Judy VanSkiver will play the role of schoolmarms, welcoming visitors of all ages to the Lee School on Saturday, May 15, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Masks will be required.

The Lee School is located on Route 14, on the southern edge of Montour Falls. It was built in 1828 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The red, barn-style, painted clapboard building was typical to the mid-to-late 19th century farming communities of the area. It has a large wood-burning stove, school desks, books, blackboards and an antique world globe, all exhibited as they would have been used in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

For more information, contact the Historical Society at (607) 535-9741.

Photo in text: Marty Evans, a retired art teacher and vice president of the Schuyler County Historical Society Board of Trustees, will be one of the hosts at the annual spring open house at the Historical Society’s Lee School in Montour Falls on Saturday, May 15, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The one-room schoolhouse was built in 1828. (Photo provided)

Hidden Valley 4-H Camp to reopen May 8

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, April 30, 2021 -- Campers, families and the community are invited to Hidden Valley 4-H Camp’s Grand Re-Opening on Saturday, May 8, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Hidden Valley is located in Watkins Glen, adjacent to Watkins Glen State Park.

“We are opening our doors so that families can see our facilities and meet the staff,” said Camp Director Bruce Condie. “I will be there to lead tours and answer questions. Potential campers can take a look inside a bunk house, check out the dining hall, and hear about the many improvements we have made.”

Tours will be led by family group, so attendees should register for the event in order to allow for planning the schedule. To register for the Grand Re-Opening, email Dayna Karius at dk576@cornell.edu or phone 607-535-6812.

After being closed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Hidden Valley 4-H Camp is open this summer for six week-long sessions for youths ages 6-16. Day camp and overnight camp sessions are both available.

“Camp sessions are filling rapidly, so we advise campers to sign up soon,” said Youth and Family Issue Leader Mel Schroeder. “This past year of isolation and reduced peer activities has been hard for children. At Hidden Valley, they can have fun and fulfilling childhood experiences, in a safe environment that emphasizes positive development.”

Hidden Valley has been in operation for 75 years, and is implementing safety measures this summer to protect campers from COVID as they explore their talents and discover the natural world.

“Just think what a refreshing break it will be for kids to be outdoors, taking part in games and sports, and making new friends,” said Condie. “We hope parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles will bring the young people in their lives on May 8 to take a look at what we have to offer.”

Families interested in signing up for Hidden Valley 4-H Camp can register online www.hiddenvalley4hcamp.org or by phoning 607-535-6812.

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.


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Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869

E-mail chaef@aol.com