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click here.


For your convenience, we have installed the link below to make donations to this website easier. Now you can utilize your PayPal account or your credit card.


Click here or on the ad above to reach the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development website


Now accepting applications
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208 W. Broadway St., Montour Falls, NY 14865
Phone: 607-535-8908


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We also carry a Business Card Page. Click here.


Click on the ad below to go to the website featuring

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Be sure to visit

Watkins Glen
Winter Farmer's Market

November 1 to February 28
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Fresh produce, meats and crafts

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We are open:
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Simply Your Best

Hair - Skin - Nails - Massage. JoAnna Scott's salon at 4588 Route 224, west of Odessa, offers a variety of services:

Phone: 607-594-2811.

To reach the Simply Your Best website, click here.


To reach the Seneca Design Studio website, click on the ad below.



To visit the Schuyler County Historical Society website, click here.

Dealer/collector looking to buy groups of pre-1970 paper memorabilia: cards, magazines, posters, programs etc. Call Charlie Haeffner at 742-2772.

For information on The Arc of Schuyler, click on the ad below or here.


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Page Sponsor: Cabins to Castles

To reach the Cabins to Castles on Seneca Real Estate website, click here or on the ad below.

Rows of wedding dresses were available at the bridal gown sale at the Harbor Hotel.

Bridal gown sale benefits Humane Society

WATKINS GLEN, Feb. 12, 2018 -- They were waiting there long beforehand -- before the doors opened to the ballroom Sunday at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel.

Inside, waiting for them, were dresses -- about 150 wedding dresses and 200 or so prom and formal gowns, all donated to the Humane Society of Schuyler County. The wedding dresses and most of the gowns came from JBK Bridal's Janine Benjamin-Kuehl, recently retired. The rest came from Bonjullie's Main Street Bride, Prom & Tuxedo Bar in Horseheads.

The inventory was there at the hotel as a "Blow-Out Sale" fund-raiser for the Humane Society, which is also selling the formal gowns in its Wags to Riches resale boutique on North Franklin Street in Watkins Glen. The disposition of the wedding dresses remaining after Sunday's sale is up in the air.

The proceeds from the sale will be used to benefit shelter animals at the Humane Society facility in Montour Falls.

The sale featured new, designer gowns by Alyce, Maggie Sottero, Casablanca, Rhapsody, Symphony and more. In addition, shoppers found new mother-of-the-bride wear, bridesmaid’s dresses, formal wear and prom dresses by noted designers at drastically reduced prices. Bridal gowns retailing up to $2,795 were on sale from $100 to $500, and formal wear was priced from $75 to $125. Sizes ranged from 4-24. Tiaras, veils, and other accessories were also available for purchase.

Wags to Riches, which features the formal wear that was for sale Sunday, is a resale boutique benefitting the Humane Society of Schuyler County. Wags to Riches, located at 313 North Franklin Street in Watkins Glen, is in its ninth year of operation, offering new and gently used name brand and designer clothing, jewelry, accessories, decorative items, books and more at reduced prices. Store hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and Sunday noon-4 p.m.

The Humane Society of Schuyler County is a not-for-profit 501c3 organization, which has been advancing animal welfare in the community for over 30 years. For more information about the Humane Society of Schuyler County, visit or follow the Humane Society of Schuyler County on Facebook.

Photos in text:

Top: A customer at Sunday's sale checks out her reflection.
Bottom: Humane Society President Georgie Taylor poses with one of the many dresses available for sale.

Some of the many customers on hand Sunday for the bridal gown sale at the Harbor Hotel. (Photo provided)

To reach our website, click here.

Annual Arc Spaghetti Dinner set for Feb. 19

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Feb. 4, 2018 -- Watkins Glen Postmaster Don Stocum will again chair The Arc of Schuyler’s Annual Spaghetti Dinner fundraiser on Monday, February 19 at the Montour Falls Moose Lodge, 2096 Route 14 in Montour Falls.

Service is 4-7 p.m., and takeout meals are available.

Tickets are $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and $5 for youth under age 12. Meals include spaghetti with sausage and meatball, tossed salad, bread, beverage, and dessert. Tickets may be purchased at the event or in advance at the Montour Moose Lodge or The Arc of Schuyler, 203 12th Street in Watkins Glen.

“The Arc of Schuyler celebrates its 40th Anniversary this year,” Stocum said. “We’re grateful to the Montour Moose volunteers and our local students for working to make this a long-standing successful event for The Arc and help provide critical services and meaningful opportunities for people with developmental disabilities and their families.”

For more information, call The Arc of Schuyler at 607-535-6934 or visit

Low lying

A ground mist hovered in the tree line at Havana Glen Park in Montour Falls Friday afternoon as the temperature topped 60 degrees before plummeting with the arrival of a winter storm that night.

The cast of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame' strike poses at Thursday night's rehearsal.

Rehearsals start for musical 'Hunchback'

WATKINS GLEN, Jan. 4 -- Rehearsals began Thursday night in the Watkins Glen High School auditorium for the March 23-25 WGHS production of the musical "The Hunchback of Notre Dame."

The cast is under the direction of Tim and Michelle Benjamin, now in their 14th year of leading student productions at the school.

Rehearsals will be held Sundays from 1 to 6 p.m. and Mondays and Thursdays from 6 to 9 p.m.

The cast list follows:

Claude Frollo: H. Nathaniel Rose
Quasimodo: Wyatt Brower
Clopin Trouillefou: Amanda Armstrong
Captain Phoebus de Martin: Conlin Wysocki
Esmerelda: Grace Wickham

Jehan Frollo: Gavin Lewis*
Florika: Claudia Parker*
Father Dupin: Alix Matthews*
Lt. Frederic Charles: Jack Muir*
King Louis XI: Elliott Holland*
Tribunal: Alix Matthews*
Madam Hannah: Jitomer-Rowland*
Saint Aphrodisius: Kelsey Kernan*
Gypsy: Anya Simpson*

Gargoyle 1: Scott Brubaker*
Gargoyle 2: Douglas DiGregorio*
Statue 1: Kathryn Losey*
Statue 2: Maria Brubaker*

*Congregants, Revelers, Soldiers, Choir, Parishioners, Priests:
Macy Fitzgerald, Ashlyn Karius, Ember Lewis, Erin McKenzie, Iris Elaina Rodriguez, Sarah Schaffner, Julya Slater, Nikole VanDyke, Sarai Wynkoop.

Photo in text: Wyatt Brower portrays Quasimodo in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame"

Post will discuss 'Life in the Fast Lane'

WATKINS GLEN, Dec. 11, 2017 -- From the pits to the towers, TV and radio racing personality Steve Post has experienced a lot in a more than 30-year career.

Post, a pit road reporter for radio and TV networks as well as an announcer at several race tracks, will share his stories in his talk “Speaking of Life in the Fast Lane” on Saturday, Dec. 16, at the International Motor Racing Research Center.

The 1 p.m. talk is the last of the Center’s 2017 monthly Center Conversations talk series. It is sponsored in part by the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce and is open to all. The Racing Research Center is located at 610 S. Decatur St., Watkins Glen.

A $5 donation for admission is requested to help defray costs.

The talk will be live-streamed at or via the Center’s website at The talk also will be archived on the Center’s You Tube channel to watch in the future.

Post has been involved with racing since landing a job at Pocono Raceway in 1986 after graduating from Penn State with a degree in marketing.

Today he is a pit road reporter for the Motor Racing Network covering NASCAR’s Monster Energy Cup Series, Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series. He is co-host of “Winged Nation” on and MAVTV and a contributor to NASCAR USA.

“To me, Steve Post is the quintessential ‘small town’ guy who made good on the ‘big stage’ through years of hard work, drive, persistence and a considerable amount of talent,” said Kip Zeiter, IMRRC’s coordinator of visitor services and outreach and a friend of Post’s.

“Steve is first and foremost a race fan, and anyone who has ever met him or listened to him on the Motor Racing Network knows this instantly. We invite everyone to spend an afternoon sharing the excitement of motor racing with someone who has spent his career ‘Speaking of Life in the Fast Lane’,” Zeiter said.

Post has been the announcer at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Summer Shootout Series since 1998. He’s also on the microphone at Concord (N.C.) Speedway, Lincoln (Pa.) Speedway and Path Valley (Pa.) Speedway.

In January, Post will be the announcer at Indoor Auto Racing Series competition in Allentown, Pa., and Atlantic City, sponsored by Area Auto Racing News.

This series features TQ midget cars, and one of the cars will be on display at the Racing Research Center for Post’s talk. The Center is organizing a bus trip to the Albany, N.Y., Indoor Auto Racing Series race on Feb. 10.

Post’s reporting duties additionally include weekly contributions to “Raceline,” a nationally syndicated motorsports television program. He also does speaking engagements through his business, Steve Post Motorsport Communications. He lives in Concord, N.C.

The International Motor Racing Research Center is an archival and research library with the mission to preserve and share the materials of the history of racing, all series and all venues worldwide. Center Conversations is a monthly talk series focusing on issues and personalities from that history.

For more information about the work of the Racing Research Center, visit the website The IMRRC also is on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo in text: Steve Post (Photo provided)

The Elmira Savings Bank float drew applause and kudos from onlookers lining the street.

Watkins holds its 25th Village Christmas

WATKINS GLEN, Dec. 1, 2017 -- Floats, fire trucks, marching Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, a martial arts school, cartoon characters and Santa and Mrs. Claus were featured in Friday night's parade as Watkins Glen hosted its 25th annual Village Christmas on Franklin Street downtown.

The festival, which drew a large turnout on an almost windless evening with the mercury in the low 30s, also boasted food vendors, craft vendors, live music, reindeer and a fireworks show off the Pier.

The parade -- sponsored by Visions Federal Credit Union -- drew kudos from spectators, who thought the floats and Christmas light-laden fire trucks were more than worth the trip to town. Most commented favorably about elaborate floats prepared by Elmira Savings Bank and Lakewood Vineyards.

Announcing the parade participants was, as usual, Schuyler County Legislator Jim Howell, a staple at Schuyler County parades.


Photos in text:

Top: Santa and Mrs. Claus were on the final float in the parade.

Bottom: Famous Bands, local musicians who play a variety of popular tunes, performed in front of the Famous Brands store during Village Christmas. Famous Brands owner Jim Guild in a member of the group, playing drums. Joe Silhan is on keyboard.

Left: One of a quartet of reindeer on display from an area farm. Right: Emcee Jim Howell.

Among the marching groups in the Village Christmas parade were Watkins Cub Scouts.

Left: Members of the Lake Country Players acting troupe marched in the parade, singing songs of the season. Right: A fireworks show was held over Seneca Lake.

Grape stompers were among the featured figures on the Lakewood Vineyards float.

Members of the 37-member Watkins Glen Elementary School chorus perform at the dinner.

Vietnam vets honored at Lions dinner

WATKINS GLEN, Nov. 13, 2017 -- Vietnam Era veterans were honored Monday night at the second annual Watkins-Montour Lions Club dinner saluting them at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel.

A special treat for the honorees and Lions was a presentation by 37 Watkins Glen Elementary School 4th through 6th graders -- members of the school's chorus -- singing selections including the National Anthem, My Country 'Tis of Thee and God Bless America. They were led by teacher Megan Kelley.

Introductory remarks were issued by Navy veteran Glenn Bleiler, a past president of the Lions Club, who told those being honored that in their service, "you sacrificed, and for that we owe you a debt of gratitude."

John Antes of Veterans Service explained The Missing Man Table, a small, single-seat round table near the podium "also known as the Fallen Comrade Table ... a place of honor, set up in military dining facilities of the U.S. armed forces and during occasions" such as Monday's. Among its features was an inverted drinking glass "representing the fact that the missing and fallen cannot partake."

After dinner, Assemblyman Phil Palmesano -- a guest at the dinner, which was attended by almost 100 people -- delivered the keynote address.

The program, in its second year, was an outgrowth of a 2012 proclamation by then-President Barack Obama establishing a commemorative program whose "primary objective is to thank and honor our Vietnam Veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the nation."

Honorees Monday included 24 Vietnam veterans. Listed in the evening's program were Lawrence J. Baker, Wilbur A. Baker, Walter L. Bennett, Stephen Bond, David W. Boyle, Allen B. Brant, Claude L. Cole, Donna Davis, Frank L. Davis, Joseph Ector, Stewart F. Field Jr., G. Frederic Hall, Donald J. Kosty, Richard J. Lewis, David W. Lisk, Neal McGonigal, David C. Moat, Warren K. Moat, Larry Reynolds, David E. Ryan, David H. Smith, Clayton T. Snow, Warren J. Tharrett and Frederic L. Tucker.

Photos in text:

Top: From left: Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, the dinner's keynote speaker; Stewart F. Field Jr., one of the evening's honorees; Glenn Bleiler, a Navy veteran and former Lions Club president who issued introductory remarks; and Bleiler's wife Susan, a Lions Club member.

Middle: Sign leading to the dinner in the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel.

Bottom: Members of the Watkins Glen Elementary School chorus gather in the hallway outside the dinner, awaiting their entrance. They marched in, sang several songs, and then marched out again to enthusiastic applause.

Monday evening's honorees posed for a group photo. Each also received a Lapel Pin from Red Cross Lead Volunteer Linda Conway. (Photo by Susan Bleiler)

Women in racing, Cuba drag racing are subjects of Research Center symposium

WATKINS GLEN, Nov. 5, 2017 -- Women in racing and the resurgence of drag racing in Cuba are among the topics that will be discussed during an academic symposium on motorsports presented in November by the International Motor Racing Research Center and the Society of Automotive Historians.

The third annual Michael R. Argetsinger Symposium on International Motor Racing History will be Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 9-11. This year's theme is "The First Turn Meets the Cultural Turn."

This international academic forum offers graduate students, professors and historians an opportunity to present on any subject reflecting the rich cultural history of motor racing. The public is invited to attend, and pre-registration is not required. All events are free.

Joan Cuneo, the first female racer in the United States, who competed in the early 1900s, will be the subject of the keynote address on Saturday, Nov. 11, by Dr. Elsa Nystrom, professor emeritus of history in the American Studies Department at Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, Ga. Nystrom is the author of the book "Mad for Speed: The Racing Life of Joan Newton Cuneo."

Three additional presentations will focus on women in racing.

The showing of the 2015 documentary "Havana Motor Club," covering the resurgence of drag racing in Cuba, also is a featured component of this year's symposium. The screening will be on Thursday evening, Nov. 9, followed on Friday, Nov. 10, with the presentation "Primer Plano Cubano de la Carrera de la Calle -- Cuban Street Racing Closeup: A Critical Analysis of the Documentary Movie 'Havana Motor Club'."

"Havana Motor Club" will be shown at 7 p.m. at the Racing Research Center. Friday morning's presentation about the film and a second set of presentations in the afternoon will be at the Watkins Glen International Media Center. Saturday's presentations will be at the Center.

All are free and open to the public.

Don Capps, chairman of the SAH International Motor Sports History Section, said this type of academic symposium, with a rich trove of topics to explore under the theme "The First Turn Meets the Cultural Turn," is needed and valuable.

"That motorsport history is a nuanced, complex topic reaching far beyond such items as race data and tales about personalities and events is beginning to finally be understood," Capps said. "That the cultural aspects of motorsport are now finally being brought into focus and discussed is, in great part, thanks to those who have participated in our previous symposiums. The door is now cracked a bit wider for those in academia and for independent scholars to explore this topic in great depth."

Other presentation topics:

--"Cultural Confusions: Maserati Serial Numbers"
--"Invaders and Invasions: The 1963 Motor Trend 500 at Riverside"
--"It is Alive! Monster Energy's Attempt to Revitalize NASCAR's Top Touring Series"
--"Win on Sunday & Sell Fifty Years Later: The Strange Competitive and Commercial Saga of Bentley"
--"A Moving Museum": Tourism, Pilgrimage, and the Iconic Route of the Mille Miglia"
--"Anne Cecile Rose-Itier, Overcoming Gender Barriers and Earning Legitimacy by Competing and Winning"
--"Speeding through a Man's World: Women Sports Car Racers in the 1950s and 1960s"
--"Women in Racing"

The keynote address on Saturday afternoon, Nov. 11, at 2 p.m. and the three additional presentations on women racers that follow it will be live-streamed at or via the Center's website at The talk also will be archived on the Center's You Tube channel.

Pat Yongue, retired professor from the University of Houston English Department and an expert on women in racing, will be the symposium moderator. Yongue is a member of the SAH International Motor Sports History Section, which is partnering with the Racing Research Center.

A detailed schedule can be seen on the Center's website. All sessions are open to the public.

The symposium debuted in 2015 and originally was named in honor of the late Jean S. Argetsinger, who was present with her husband, Cameron, when he revived road racing in America after World War II and later brought the United States Grand Prix for a successful 20-year run at Watkins Glen. Jean was a founder of the Racing Research Center.

At her request, the symposium is re-named beginning this year in honor of her deceased son Michael R. Argetsinger, an award-winning motorsports author and a longtime member of the Racing Research Center's Governing Council.

Among the supporters of the annual symposium is the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce, which provides financial assistance.

Photo in text: Cars are underway in this shot from the 2015 documentary "Havana Motor Club," covering the resurgence of drag racing in Cuba. Directed, produced and edited by Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt, the film will be shown on Nov. 9, during the third annual Michael R. Argetsinger Symposium on International Motor Racing History, presented by the International Motor Racing Research Center and the Society of Automotive Historians. (Used with permission, "Havana Motor Club")

Rotary, Hepcats hosting dance on Nov. 11

Special to the Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Oct. 17 -- The Watkins-Montour Rotary Club and the popular Corning-area swing band The Hepcats Big Band are partnering to present “Swingin’ on Seneca’s Shores,” a dance open to everyone.

The dance will be Saturday, Nov. 11, from 7-10 p.m. at the Clute Park Community Center, Route 414, Watkins Glen.

“Dancers in the region know that the Community Center, with its wooden floor, is a great venue,” said John King, organizer with the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club. “This is our third year, and we have learned that even if you don’t dance, it’s an extremely enjoyable evening of listening to the Hepcats and watching those who really know what they’re doing on a dance floor.”

The dance is a fundraiser for Rotary International’s ongoing mission to eradicate polio in the world.

“We think it’s very appropriate to continue our fight against polio by hosting an event that showcases joyful movement,” King said.

Tickets are $15 per person or $25 per couple and may be purchased in advance by calling (607) 962-4733 or (607) 351-2731. Tickets will also be available at the door.

Light table snacks and soft drinks will be offered at no charge.

This painting, titled "Canandaigua Campfire," is by Bill Mowson of Lansing, the "Artist in Focus" at the Franklin Street Gallery. (Image provided)

Gallery sets reception for its fall exhibit

Special to the Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Oct. 5, 2017 -- Franklin Street Gallery will host an opening reception from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Friday, October 6 for its 6th annual fall harvest exhibit, “Homegrown Art”. This is a people’s choice exhibit with “Best in Show” and “Honorable Mention” awards selected by ballot votes accepted until October 31, 2017. Winners receive cash prizes.

Franklin Street Gallery will also debut its first “Finger Lakes Artist in Focus” exhibit, featuring the work of a single artist for the month of October. The first “Artist in Focus” is Bill Mowson of Lansing, New York. Mowson retired from a 25-year career in engineering in 2001 to reside in the Finger Lakes region of New York to become a full time painter. Mowson will demonstrate his unique painting techniques during the open reception

“In my many years of travel, I have never found a more beautiful or diverse landscape than this area,” Mowson said. “One could spend a lifetime documenting these hidden treasures.”

The opening reception is taking place in conjunction with Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce’s Friday on Franklin event. Franklin Street Gallery will host Chateau Lafayette Reneau winery for tastings. The cost to participate is $10 and includes a souvenir wine glass. Event tickets may be purchased at the Visitor Center at 214 N. Franklin St.

Franklin Street Gallery is a community arts center operated by The Arc of Schuyler, a not-for-profit organization providing support to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism. For more information, visit or contact the gallery at 607-535-2571.

Festival visitors watch from in front of the State Park as dozens of cars take to the original race course that starts and ends on Franklin Street.

Annual Grand Prix Festival held in Glen

WATKINS GLEN, Sept. 8, 2017 -- The annual Watkins Glen Grand Prix Festival drew a crowd of car and festival lovers to down Watkins Friday -- a gathering that featured autos of various classes traveling the original road course, starting and ending on Franklin Street.

The festival also featured:

--plenty of vendors with various (mostly racing-related) merchandise;
--foods of various kinds;
--wine from several area wineries;
--live music by a trio called Famous Bands, which played in front of the Famous Brands store and featured store owner Jim Guild on drums;
--a vintage motorcyle show;
--a Legends Speak gathering at Lafayette Park that featured 100-year-old racing icon Otto Linton and various presenters;
--a tech inspection recreation at Smalley's Garage, which used to be the tech inspection center for early Watkins races;
--a road rallye, as well as a sporting roadsters tour;
--a Walk of Fame induction ceremony on the courthouse lawn;
--an obstacle course contest in the parking area at Maguire's that usually holds dozens of new vehicles for sale; and
--a Watkins Glen Grand Prix tribute featuring more than 100 SVRA race cars participating in the weekend's Jaguar U.S. Vintage Grand Prix taking laps on the original road course.

Photo in text: A traffic director sends some cars left, and others right.

Two men perched alongside Franklin Street had a good view of passing festival vehicles.

Racing-themed artist Robert Gillespie had some of his work for sale in a tent set up in front of the Schuyler County Courthouse.

Left: There were many visitors from outside the area, and some local fans, including Isabella Fazzary, left, and Kai Sutterby. Right: Otto Linton, 100-year-old racing icon, was on the microphone during The Legends Speak gathering at Lafayette Park.

A trio calling itself Famous Bands performed live in front of the Famous Brands store on Franklin Street, with store owner Jim Guild on drums.

Mario Andretti waves to the crowd at the dinner honoring him at the Corning Museum of Glass. (Photo by Angelo Lisuzzo)

Andretti receives 2017 Argetsinger Award at Corning Museum of Glass dinner

Special to The Odessa File

CORNING, Sept. 1, 2017 -- International racing stars, captains of the motorsports industry, local dignitaries and race fans gathered to honor an American racing icon at the Corning Museum of Glass on Thursday.

Mario Andretti, motorsports' greatest ambassador, was presented with the Cameron R. Argetsinger Award for Outstanding Contributions to Motorsports by the International Motor Racing Research Center. This was the fourth year the glass trophy has been presented. Previous honorees were Chip Ganassi, Richard Petty and Roger Penske.

Andretti was clearly moved by the outpouring of love, respect and admiration from the sold-out audience that included a number of his fellow competitors, friends and fans.

"This is the most amazing evening that I've ever spent. I've never ever experienced anything like this, ever," Andretti said after being presented with the Argetsinger Award by IMRRC Governing Council Chairman Bobby Rahal and Peter Argetsinger, one of nine children of the late Cameron and Jean Argetsinger.

Among the salutes throughout the evening were videos from Dan Gurney, Edsel Ford III, Scott Pruett, Danny Sullivan, Linda Vaughn, Don "The Snake" Prudhomme, James Hinchcliffe, Graham Rahal, Alexander Rossi and Bobby Unser.

Ganassi was on hand to honor Andretti, while other past award recipients Penske and Petty congratulated him on the big screen. Master of ceremonies Dr. Jerry Punch interviewed IndyCar star Dario Franchitti and longtime versatile racer Rick Mears in the audience.

Speaker after speaker told stories of being a young fan of Andretti and of the thrill of meeting him years later. Rahal set the stage when he said he was a teenage fan.

"Mario was the man," he said, continuing, "He's not just a great driver. He's a great gentleman. He's the greatest ambassador for the sport we love."

Ganassi recalled being an 11-year-old asking Andretti for his autograph when he saw the famous driver having lunch at the Glen Motor Inn in Watkins Glen. Their careers would intertwine.

"Any success I've ever attained in the sport, you can draw a direct line back to your mentorship," Ganassi said.

Franchitti was a fan at an even younger age. He recalled being a 5-year-old, dreaming of someday meeting Andretti. It happened 19 years later at a race track.

"I was so flummoxed, afterwards I pretty much crashed," he said.

A common thread of attributes was woven throughout the comments from Punch and other speakers: a master of motorsports, a gentleman and a family man, a humble man of high integrity, a man passionate about and committed to the future of racing.

A heartfelt question and answer session between Andretti and Punch followed the award presentation.

Andretti told of his childhood plan to race motorcycles -- a plan he thought was dashed when his family moved to Nazareth, Pa., as refugees from Italy. But one week after moving to the States in 1959, he and his brother, Aldo, discovered a race track nearby.

His competition career began four years later, racing underage at 19.

"I just wanted to drive and drive and drive," he told the audience.

Andretti's debut in Formula One happened at Watkins Glen -- on the pole in the 1968 United States Grand Prix. Ten years later he was on the pole again and World Champion.

"I felt so good in the car," Andretti said about that 1968 start. "It was an amazing day for me."

Since then, he said, he has raced in four different series at The Glen.

"There is no other track like it," said Andretti, 77, who's back at The Glen Sunday, behind the wheel of the American Honda two-seater, leading the field for the launch of the Verizon IndyCar Grand Prix at The Glen at WGI.

Andretti posted victories at virtually every level of motorsports in a career that spanned five decades. He is the only driver in history to win the Formula One Championship, the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500.

"I feel so blessed. I've gotten so much out of the sport. You're living the dream, and I'm still living it," Andretti said.

When asked how he wants to be remembered, Andretti answered simply: "I'm just a racer."

The evening was supported by NASCAR, the International Speedway Corp., Watkins Glen International, IMSA, Sahlen's, Corning Incorporated, Bosch, Firestone and IMRRC Governing Council members Larry Kessler, Bob Newman and Archie Urciuoli. Several sponsor representatives also related stories of their relationships with the legend.

"You've been my hero since I was a little kid. It's an honor to work at Watkins Glen International, knowing that you raced here," Michael Printup, WGI president, said.

An original painting by famed artist Randy Owens, depicting the iconic cars Andretti drove in his decades-long career, was auctioned at the end of the evening, and a champagne toast and several standing ovations ended the gala evening.

Other event supporters were Honda, Chip Ganassi Racing, Team Penske, Sports Car Club of America, Smithfield Foods, AmeriCarna, Stone Bridge Gallery, Williams Auto Group, the Hilliard Corp., Elmira Savings Bank, Welliver, Corning Automotive Glass Solutions, Lotus WNY, Regogo Racing and Glenora Wine Cellars.

Andretti has supported the work of the Racing Research Center since its opening in 1999. He serves on the Center's Drivers Council and twice has been chairman of the annual membership campaign.

The Racing Research Center, located in Watkins Glen, is an archival library dedicated to the preservation and sharing of the history of motorsports, all series and all venues, through its collections of books, periodicals, films, photographs, fine art and other materials. The IMRRC is a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization.

For more information about the Center's work and its programs, visit or call 607-535-9044.

Photos in text:

Top: Mario Andretti, right, recipient of the International Motor Racing Research Center's 2017 Cameron R. Argetsinger Award, receives a champagne toast from Bobby Rahal, left, chairman of the IMRRC Governing Council, Peter Argetsinger, and the audience at the Aug. 31 award dinner.

Second: Watkins Glen Mayor Sam Schimizzi presents a proclamation to Andretti naming Thursday, the day of the dinner, as Mario Andretti Day in Watkins Glen.

Third: Retired Schuyler County Judge J.C. Argetsinger, left, one of Cameron Argetsinger's sons, and Racing Historian Bill Green were among the dignitaries present. (Photos by Angelo Lisuzzo)

WETM-TV sports reporter Andy Malnoske interviews Mario Andretti before the dinner.

Vic and Linda Franzese of the Glen Motor Inn, where Mario Andretti has stayed, chat with Andretti before the dinner at the Corning Museum of Glass. (Photos by Angelo Lisuzzo)

Arc Golf Tournament raises $21,000

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Aug. 21 -- The Arc of Schuyler 17th annual golf tournament, held Aug. 18 at the Watkins Glen Golf Course, raised more than $21,000 to assist people with intellectual and development disabilities and their families.

The first-place team was a familiar one, winning for the third consecutive year: Watkins & Nichols, featuring Bill Spencer, Rocco Scaptura, and John and Josh Robinson.

This was the second year the tournament included a Hole-In-One putting contest, sponsored this year by Arnot Health. The contest offered one golfer the chance to sink a 50-foot putt for a $10,000 cash prize. Aaron Young, a member of the Empire Access team, was the lucky winner of the raffle to take the shot. Young was just short of the hole.

Winners of other contests held on the course were: Josh Robinson for men’s longest drive, Meg Scott for women’s longest drive, Jeff Cook for men’s closest-to-the-pin, and Anne Welliver-Hartsing for women’s closest-to-the-pin.

Relph Benefit Advisors returned as the Presenting Sponsor of the event. Birdie Sponsors were Empire Access, Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel, and Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards. "These sponsors and many other businesses, wineries, restaurants, and retail stores generously contributed through sponsorship or product donations," said an Arc of Schuyler press release.

“Many thanks to all the sponsors, patron supporters, and local businesses who donated items to make this year’s tournament another success," said Tournament Chair Dominick Franzese. "We really can’t do it without their help. The Arc’s tournament keeps going strong and continues to be one of the best tournaments in the area supporting a wonderful cause.”

The Arc of Schuyler conducts fundraising activities to support its mission in providing supports to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism. To learn more about The Arc, visit

Photo in text: Watkins & Nichols was the winning team of The Arc of Schuyler’s Annual Golf Tournament for the third consecutive year. Team members were, left to right: John Robinson, Bill Spencer, Josh Robinson and Rocco Scaptura. (Photo provided)

The banner announcing the parade is carried up 4th Street. (Photo by Glenda Gephart)

Italian American Festival holds its parade

WATKINS GLEN, Aug. 12, 2017 -- The annual Italian American Festival Parade marched down Decatur Street and up 4th Street to Clute Park Saturday as the annual three-day festival hit its stride.

Bands, fire departments, politicians, baton twirlers, cheerleaders and various floats entertained the crowd lining the streets on the second day of the festival. A fireworks display was on tap for that night.

The festival was set to conclude Sunday. To see the full list of events, click here.

Photo in text: Members of the Montour Falls Fire Department march in the Italian American Festival parade. (Photo by Lisa Harer)

The Italian American Festival Grand Marshal, Phil Simiele, is driven along the parade route. (Photo by Glenda Gephart)

Left: The festival Prince and Princess, Ethan Crane and Gabrielle Crane. (Photo by Lisa Harer) Right: Schuyler County Clerk candidate Theresa Philbin was among the parade participants. (Photo by Liz Fraboni)

The Penn-York Highlanders Bagpipe Band was, um, stepping lively in this unusual photo. (Photo by Liz Fraboni)

The Girl Scouts were among the parade groups with a float. (Photo by Liz Fraboni)

Left: Horses and riders were part of the parade. Right: Assemblyman Phil Palmesano was tossing candy to the spectators. (Both photos by Lisa Harer)

The military was represented at the Italian American Festival parade. (Photo by Lisa Harer)

Left: A patriotic-themed float. (Photo by Liz Fraboni) Right: Cheerleaders from the Schuyler Tribe youth football program marched in the parade. (Photo by Lisa Harer)

The Caledonian Highlanders bagpipe unit marches up 4th Street. (Photo by Glenda Gephart)

On one of the parade floats: a Symphonic Steel Band. (Photo by Glenda Gephart)

And at the carnival grounds on Sunday:

Left: Pasta sauce contest winner Margaret Lynch of Horseheads with judge Ken Delpapa. Right; The Rusted Bucks perform in the entertainment tent. (Photos by Glenda Gephart)

Rich Greenberger and Nan Woodworth at the Rotary booth.
(Photo by Glenda Gephart)

Motorcyles waiting to be judged at the festival's second annual Kenny Larson Memorial Motorcycle Show. (Photo by Glenda Gephart)

Spectators enjoy a festival puppet show on the Clute Park basketball court. (Photo by Lisa Harer)

And at the carnival grounds on Friday:

Among the vendors is a festival mainstay: Old fashioned soda. (Photo by Glenda Gephart)

The Over-Under game booth has been a popular stop for years. (Photo by Glenda Gephart)

Jerlando's Pizza is one of the festival food vendors. (Photo by Glenda Gephart)

A wide-angled look at the Italian American Festival vendor stands. (Photo by Liz Fraboni)

Legacy Lane dedicated at Lafayette Park

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Aug. 8, 2017 -- The Schuyler County Italian-American Festival is partnering with the Village of Watkins Glen to honor the county’s heritage in the new Lafayette Park Legacy Lane.

Located on the north side of Lafayette Park, the Legacy Lane starts at the two brick columns at the Fourth Street sidewalk and leads to the bandstand.

The Lane will provide opportunities to commemorate families, organizations or exceptional moments with engraved bricks. Funds raised by the sale of the bricks will help defray costs of the annual Italian-American Festival.

A kickoff celebration to honor the first group of installed bricks was held Monday, Aug. 7 at Lafayette Park, just a few days before the opening of the 38th annual Italian-American Festival.

“Lafayette Park is the perfect location for this Italian-American Festival project because the park was where the festival was revived in 1979,” says Festival Co-Chairman Louis Perazzini, one of the dedication speakers, “and in 1994, the festival committee was one of the organizations that sponsored the installation of the brick columns and beautiful gates.”

“This community is proud of its heritage, and the Legacy Lane will be a great way to show that pride,” said Watkins Glen Mayor Sam Schimizzi, another of the dedication speakers.

“Everyone looks forward to the Italian-American Festival, and the board is glad to support the festival by giving the go-ahead to the Legacy Lane project,” he added.

The price of an engraved brick is $100. Orders will be taken year-round, and bricks will be installed in the walkway periodically between May and November.

“You can put your name on a brick. Or your ancestors’ names,” Perazzini said. “Your wedding date? Your graduating class? We want everyone in Schuyler County to look at the Legacy Lane as a permanent way to celebrate and remember someone or something important.”

Similar engraved-brick walkways, such as at the Schuyler County Veterans Memorial Park, Route 228, outside of Odessa, and at the International Motor Racing Research Center on Decatur Street in Watkins Glen, are popular with both participants and visitors, Perazzini said.

The form for purchasing a brick is available at the Watkins Glen Village Office on Franklin Street and at businesses across the county, including Watkins Sporting Goods and Jerlando’s pizza shop in Watkins Glen. The form also can be found on the festival’s website at

The Schuyler County Italian-American Festival will be Aug. 11-13. Thousands of people, area residents and visitors alike, gather at Clute Park in Watkins Glen for three days that offer live music, contests for homemade wines and pasta sauces, a bocce tournament, carnival rides and a wide variety of foods.

The festival also features an eclectic parade and what many describe as the best fireworks show in the Finger Lakes.

Proceeds from the annual festival are returned to the Schuyler County community in donations to youth groups and other charitable organizations. More than $80,000 has been distributed over the years.

For more information about the Lafayette Park Legacy Lane or any aspect of the Schuyler County Italian-American Festival, visit the festival website at or contact Perazzini at

Photo in text:

Top: Italian-American Festival Co-Chairman Louis Perazzini speaks at the Legacy Lane dedication.

Bottom: One of the first bricks in Legacy Lane. (Photos provided)

Night descends on the Hector Fair. (Photo by Liz Fraboni)

Parade serves as highlight of Hector Fair

HECTOR, July 29 2017 -- The annual Hector Fair Parade -- a staple of the three-day carnival on the grounds of the Valois Logan Hector Volunteer Fire Company grounds -- marched up Route 414 from the Dandy Mini Mart to the firefighter's field Friday evening before an appreciative crowd.

Fire departments, police, bands, floats and local political dignitaries were among the participants in the march, held on the second day of the three-day fair.

The fair, which opened Thursday night and concluded Saturday night, featured rides, games, live music, bingo, a book tent, food, a chicken barbecue, a car show, an animal tent, fireworks, and other attractions.

Photo in text: The first participants in the parade come into view along Rte. 414. (Photo by Liz Fraboni)

The Caledonian Highlanders pipe and drum corps marches up Rte. 414.

Some of the crowd at the Hector Fair, in the food-court area. (Photos by Liz Fraboni)

A tasting tent populated by many area wineries was a popular stop at the Cheese Festival.

Cheese Festival draws thousands to farm

CATHARINE CORNERS, July 22, 2017 -- Thousands of people attended the sixth annual Finger Lakes Cheese Festival Saturday on the Hoffman farm outside Odessa, home of the Sunset View Creamery.

The festival -- featuring dozens of cheese, produce and other vendors; wine tastings; hayrides; seminars; live music; dairy princesses; a bounce house; a petting zoo; Tanglewood Nature Center creatures, and lunch stands -- also boasted a 40-by-80 foot open-air pavilion, recently built, that hosted music performances and served as a dining area.

A highlight, as always, was the selection of area cheeses produced by members of the Finger Lakes Cheese Alliance, along with tents featuring jams, baked goods, framed art, peanut butters, jewelry, and granite cutting blocks. There were games for the kids, and self-guided tours around the farm facilities.

A dairy birthing area featured two new additions -- calves -- born on the Hoffman farm in the hours leading to the festival, with another birth expected during the day.

The Tanglewood representatives brought along a Great Horned Owl named Sophie and a Red-Tailed Hawk named Hank. Also on hand around noon, but not yet on display, was a Falcon named Merlin.

Sophie, explained Tanglewood volunteer Noelle Currier, was hit by a car near Anchorage, Alaska, and arrived at the Center injured. Sophie has been a Tanglewood resident since 2006.

The weather was cooperative, with temperatures in the high 70s to low 80s under cloudy skies -- a far cry from last year's scorchingly hot day.

A dozen Alliance member farms were represented with samples and sales, while a dozen or more wineries were present.

Forty other vendors of various kinds were on hand, such as the Village Bakery out of Montour Falls, Schweigart's Sugar Shack, the Great Escape Ice Cream Parlor, Owl Ridge Alpaca, the Berkshire Hill Honey Bee Farm, Heavenly Treats, Seneca Sunrise Coffee, and the Saratoga Peanut Butter Company.


Photos in text:

Top: An artistic rendition of business at the Schweigart's Sugar Shack stand at the Festival. Many of the vendors on hand did a brisk business.

Middle: Tanglewood Nature Center's Noelle Currier holds Sophie, a Great Horned Owl that has been a Tanglewood resident for 11 years.

Bottom Left: Roger Ort is surrounded by products from the Ort Family Farm in Bradford, one of many vendors on hand for the Festival.

Bottom Right: Samantha Riley was on hand to pour at the Seneca Lodge tasting stand.

Left: Hank the Red Tailed Hawk from Tanglewood Nature Center. Right: Two calves born in the hours leading to the Festival.

Left: At the Petting Zoo. Right: Sons of a Beach were the first musical group of the day.

A half-dozen dairy princesses representing area agriculture were on hand for the festival.

O'Mara applauds Lakewood Vineyards' link with Vance Metal Fabricators, Inc.

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, July 20, 2017 -- State Senator Tom O’Mara (R,C,I-Big Flats) Thursday
raised a glass of praise to Lakewood Vineyards in Watkins Glen and Vance Metal Fabricators, Inc. in Geneva for their partnership in showcasing “the diversity and strength of Finger Lakes agriculture and manufacturing.”

O’Mara’s Senate colleague, Finger Lakes Senator Pamela Helming (R,C,Iā€“Canandaigua) visited Vance Metal’s large-capacity metal fabricator and weld shop in Geneva Thursday to see Lakewood’s tanks begin to make their way to Watkins Glen.

Over the past decade, Lakewood Vineyards has purchased its fermentation tanks exclusively from Vance Metal, which works in diverse industries from heavy manufacturing to technology to agriculture. The company made its first winery tank in the 1990s and now makes tanks for distilleries, wineries, breweries, and cider houses in more than 20 states.

The custom-made, 2,500-gallon stainless steel fermentation tanks traveled 30 miles by truck from Geneva to the Watkins Glen winery Thursday, where Lakewood was commemorating the installation of the tanks with a “Toast FLX Tanks” viewing party from inside its new production area.

O’Mara, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said, “It’s fantastic to help celebrate this cooperation between two outstanding Finger Lakes industries working together to strengthen the American-made, locally produced movement. This high-quality partnership continues to showcase the diversity and strength of Finger Lakes agriculture and manufacturing.”

Lakewood Vineyards President and Winemaker Chris Stamp recently said, “We wanted to celebrate the collaboration that exists in the Finger Lakes. We’re incredibly lucky to have good friends and partners at Vance Metal Fabricators. Local wine tastes better from local tanks.”

Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara (File photo)

The "Beverly Hillbillies" craft, which won the Best Theme Award.

Cardboard Boats ply marina course

WATKINS GLEN, June 17, 2017 -- The 24th annual Watkins Glen Cardboard Boat Regatta was held before an appreciative crowd Saturday at the Seneca Harbor Park marina under sunny skies and in mid-80s temperatures.

The event was preceded Friday night by the annual Waterfront Festival, featuring live music at three venues along the park, a food court, various vendor tents, and a Harbor Lights show.

Forty boats, in 20 two-craft heats, were featured at the Regatta, with Fox TV providing play-by-play on the public address system. Each craft followed a course from the shoreline boat launch north to the breakwall, west between the breakwall and boat slips, and then south to a finish line next to the Seneca Harbor pier.

Winners in various classes were as follows:

The Grist Iron Fastest Elapsed Time, Adult Class: "We'll All Float On," 2:03.
Fastest Kids Boat under 12: "Aqua Melons," 5:23.
Fastest Teens Boat, 13-18: "Toon Cruisin'," 4:27.
Don Brubaker Best Construction Award: "Back to the Tiki"
Best Boat Name: "Just for Ships and Giggles"
Best Theme: "Beverly Hillbillies"
William Croft Most Patriotic Award: "Showing Up is Half the Paddle."
People's Choice: "Tanks to Our Veterans"

A Seadoo was also raffled off after all available tickets were sold at $20 each. The raffle was a fund raiser for Schuyler Hospital and the Seneca View Skilled Nursing Facility.

Photo in text: Scott and Maria Brubaker, in their "Toon Cruisin'" craft, race past a submerged boat near the finish line.

The Red Cat cardboard boat -- officially named "The Bottle Boat, Powered by Red Cat" -- was large and impressive looking, but failed to reach the first turn of the Regatta course.

Cinderella (Cheyenne Barrett) starts on her way to the Royal Ball in her carriage.

LCP's 'Cinderella' ends its 3-day run

WATKINS GLEN, June 10, 2017 -- The Lake Country Players' youth production of Rodgers & Hammerstein's G2K "Cinderella," part of the Getting To Know Series of musicals adapted specifically for youth performers, was presented for its third and final time Sunday afternoon in the Watkins Glen High School auditorium.

Kim Laursen and Kelsey Johnson co-directed along with student director Trevor Keller. The musical opened Friday night and was repeated Saturday night, leading to Sunday's matinee.

A large crowd was on hand Friday for opening night, and the crowd was appreciative of the efforts of an enthusiastic and talented cast led by:

-- Cheyenne Barrett as Cinderella
-- Allison Heichel as the Fairy Godmother
-- Stephen Epp as The Prince
-- Bronwyn Stermer as the Stepmother
-- Sierra Morris and Madaleena Isett as the Stepsisters Portia and Joy
-- Rhys Stermer as The King
-- Katherine Larson as The Queen
-- H. Nathaniel Rose as The Herald
-- Conlin Wysocki as The Chef.

Also performing as Mice were:

-- Isabella Bacon
-- Kiera Cartwright
-- Gabi Crane
-- Della Diliberto
-- Grace Fryburger
-- Arloween Loucks-Scuteri
-- Sopheya Mathews
-- Krianna Rumsey
-- Kaylin Smith
-- Natalie VanSkiver

Performing as Fairies were:

-- Bailey Hazen
-- Mabel Kaufman
-- Erin McKenzie
-- Elizabeth Metris
-- Sophia Miller
-- Olivia VanSkiver
-- Lillian Welch

Performing as the Palace Staff were;

-- Declan Barry
-- Trey Bartoo
-- Kalila Beach
-- Kaylynn Burke
-- Macy Fitzgerald
-- Hannah Jitomir-Rowland
-- Andrue Mathews
-- Emmali Mathews
-- Pierce McKenzie
-- Karissa Rounds
-- Sarai Wynkoop

Performing as Maidens were:

-- Chesney Bartoo
-- Haylie Bartoo
-- Kylie Bartoo
-- Elisabeth Epp
-- Julia Miller
-- Faye Mooney
-- Mason Lampman-Roisen
-- Julie Osburn
-- Jackie Osburn
-- Sarah Schaffner
-- Anya Simpson
-- Brynn Smith
-- Haley Tuttle
-- Kayla Wood
-- Melanie Wysocki

The stage manager was Mindy Laursen with a crew that included Chris Barrett, Nicole Price, Rilee Kuparinen, Aiden Westlake and Molly Heichel.

Set construction was by Dan Rounds, Tony Miller, Ian Barry, Brian Barry, Chris Barrett, Dani Rumsey and Charles Beach.

Costumes were by Marty Evans, Kim Hurley, Judy Fitcha, Tracy VanSkiver, Heidi White and Kim Laursen.

Photos in text:

Top: Conlin Wysocki as The Chef leads his staff in a dance around the stage.

Second: Cheyenne Barrett, left, as Cinderella and Allison Heichel as The Fairy Godmother.

Third: The cast included many young actors.

Fourth: Katherine Larson as The Queen and Rhys Stermer as The King, who was trying to hide the fact that he was in his underwear.

Fifth: Stephen Epp, as the Prince, enters the stage juggling apples.

Cinderella with her mice.

Cinderella's stepfamily: From left, Sierra Morris as Portia, Madaleena Isett as Joy, and Bronwyn Stermer as the Stepmother.

Lifeguard qualifying set for Watkins

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, June 9, 2017 -- The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has announced a statewide qualifying procedure for lifeguards will be held at the Watkins Glen State Park Pool on Friday, June 16 at 10:00 a.m.

The Watkins Glen State Park pool is located at 3530 State Route 419, Watkins Glen.

The exam will begin at 10:00 am sharp. Candidates are encouraged to arrive one hour prior to the exam to register and for an opportunity to practice their CPR skills.

All exams are open to new candidates as well as returning lifeguards. The qualifying procedures evaluate practical lifesaving skills and cardiopulmonary resuscitation skills. All items of the examination are evaluated on a pass/fail basis.

Candidates are required to bring their picture ID and their own pocket masks for the CPR portion of the exam.

Starting pay for lifeguards is $13.27 per hour.

Candidates must pre-register by either calling the Finger Lakes State Parks Regional Office at (607) 387-7041, ext. 104 or by e-mail at

Festival launches Legacy Lane at park

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, May 12, 2017 -- The Schuyler County Italian-American Festival is partnering with the Village of Watkins Glen to honor the county’s heritage in the new Lafayette Park Legacy Lane.

The existing brick walkway on the north side of Lafayette Park will be named Legacy Lane. The walkway starts at the two brick columns at the Fourth Street sidewalk and leads to the bandstand.

“Lafayette Park is the perfect location for this Italian-American Festival project because the park was where the festival was revived in 1979,” Festival Co-Chairman Louis Perazzini said, “and in 1994, the festival committee was one of the organizations that sponsored the installation of the brick columns and beautiful gates.”

The Legacy Lane will provide opportunities to commemorate families, organizations or exceptional moments with engraved bricks. Funds raised by the sale of the bricks will help defray costs of the annual Italian-American Festival.

“This community is proud of its heritage, and the Legacy Lane will be a great way to show that pride,” Watkins Glen Mayor Sam Schimizzi said.

“Everyone looks forward to the Italian-American Festival, and the board is glad to support the festival by giving the go-ahead to the Legacy Lane project,” Schimizzi said.

The price of an engraved brick is $100. Orders will be taken year-round, and bricks will be installed in the walkway periodically between May and November. Engraved bricks will replace existing bricks in the walkway.

“You can put your name on a brick. Or your ancestors’ names,” Perazzini said. “Your wedding date? Your graduating class? We want everyone in Schuyler County to look at the Legacy Lane as a permanent way to celebrate and remember someone or something important.”

Similar engraved-brick walkways, such as at the Schuyler County Veterans Memorial Park, Route 228, outside of Odessa, and at the International Motor Racing Research Center on Decatur Street in Watkins Glen, are popular with both participants and visitors, Perazzini said.

The form for purchasing a brick is available at the Watkins Glen Village Office on Franklin Street and at businesses across the county, including Watkins Sporting Goods in Watkins Glen; and at Jerlando’s pizza shops in Montour Falls and Watkins Glen. The form also can be found on the festival’s website at

The Schuyler County Italian-American Festival will be Aug. 11-13 this year, the festival’s 38th year. Thousands of people, area residents and visitors alike, gather at Clute Park in Watkins Glen for three days that offer live music, contests for homemade wines and pasta sauces, a bocce tournament, carnival rides and a wide variety of foods.

The festival also features an eclectic parade and what many say is the best fireworks show in the Finger Lakes.

Proceeds from the annual festival are returned to the Schuyler County community in donations to youth groups and other charitable organizations. More than $80,000 has been distributed over the years.

For more information about the Lafayette Park Legacy Lane or any aspect of the Schuyler County Italian-American Festival, visit the festival website at or contact Perazzini at

Photo in text: The lane at Lafayette Park. (Photo provided)

Phebe Wickham as The Witch admonishes William Yeater, portraying The Baker.

Into the Woods ends 3-day run at WGHS

WATKINS GLEN, March 27, 2017-- The Watkins Glen High School production of "Into the Woods" completed its three-day run with a matinee presentation Sunday in the school auditorium.

The play opened Friday night and featured a Saturday night performance, as well.

The Sondheim musical follows a variety of well-known fairy tale characters as they head into the woods to fulfill their wishes -- the Baker and Baker's Wife wish to have a child; Cinderella wishes to attend the King's Festival; and Jack wishes for his cow to give milk, so that he can keep him, but finds himself heading up the beanstalk to help his family instead. The Baker and his wife set off on a journey to break a Witch's curse; and Little Red Riding Hood learns about life when she runs into the troublesome Wolf. Everyone's wish is granted, but the consequences of their actions return to haunt them later with disastrous results.

In all, over 20 students from 7th to 12th grades rehearsed beginning in January, immersing themselves in the difficult Stephen Sondheim music and lyrics, and a book by James Lapine that is at times comedic and at other times dark and dramatic. Memorable songs include "Children Will Listen," "Agony," "Giants in the Sky," "No More," "No One is Alone," and the title song, "Into the Woods."

Michelle and Tim Benjamin of Montour Falls directed (their 13th show for Watkins Glen High School), with Sarah Matthews as Music Director. Costume Director was Tammy Cole, and Choreographer was Kelsey Johnson.

The Baker and Baker's Wife were played by William Yeater and Alexis Atchie. Jack was played by Dakota Cole, and Little Red Riding Hood by Maria Brubaker. Cinderella was played by Grace Wickham, and the Witch by Phebe Wickham.

H. Nathaniel Rose was the Narrator, Nate Farnsworth was Cinderella's Prince, and Conlin Wysocki was Rapunzel's Prince. Alix Mathews was the Mysterious Man, Douglas DiGregorio was Milky White, and Amanda Armstrong was Jack's Mother. Sierra Morris was Rapunzel, and Wyatt Brower was the Wolf.

Katherine Larson was Cinderella's Stepmother, Anya Simpson and Melanie Wysocki were the Stepsisters, Jack Muir was Cinderella's Father, and Kelsey Kernan was Cinderella's Mother. Scott Brubaker was the Steward, and Elliott Holland was the Prince's Valet. Anya Jitomer was Granny, and Wrett Brower was the Giant.

The pit band included Bernie Riley, Sam Riley and Simon Wigmore and Renee Riley, along with Sarah Matthews.

Hair was by Shear Designs. The producer was Sam Brubaker, and the show was presented by the Watkins Glen High School Class of 2017, in cooperation with Music Theatre International.

Photos in text:

Top: Grace Wickham as Cinderella sings with Nate Farnsworth as her Prince.
Middle: Wyatt Brower as the Wolf with Maria Brubaker as Red Riding Hood.
Bottom: William Yeater and Alexis Atchie as the Baker and the Baker's Wife.

Left: Sierra Morris as Rapunzel. Right: Amanda Armstrong as Jack's mother.

Left: H. Nathaniel Rose as The Narrator. Right: Dakota Cole as Jack and Douglas DiGregorio as Milky White.

Left: Maria Brubaker as Red Riding Hood sings a song. Right: Front from left, Anya Simpson as Florinda, Melanie Wysocki as Lucinda, and Katherine Larson as Cinderella's stepmother.

Left: Hannah Jitomer-Rowland as Granny. Right: Alix Mathews as The Mysterious Man, right, tries to hide from William Yeater as The Baker.

Left: Conlin Wysocki as Rapunzel's Prince. Right: Phebe Wickham as The Witch.

From left: Scott Brubaker as the Steward; Dakota Cole as Jack; and Grace Wickham as Cinderella.

And earlier in the week, at rehearsal:

From left: Alexis Atchie as the Baker's Wife, Douglas DiGregorio as Milky White and William Yeater as the Baker perform a dance number.

Left: Phebe Wickham, left, portrayed the Witch, and Sierra Morris was Rapunzel. Right: Dakota Cole had the role of Jack.

Left: Nate Farnsworth, left, portrayed Cinderella's Prince, while Conlin Wysocki was Rapunzel's Prince. Right: Grace Wickham was Cinderella.

Left: Phebe Wickham as the Witch intimidates Scott Brubaker as the Steward. Right: Alexis Atchie, left, as the Baker's Wife, with Maria Brubaker as Little Red Riding Hood.

Cast members perform a musical number during the opening night performance of Honk!

Honk! ends its 2-day Odessa-Montour run

ODESSA, March 17 -- The Odessa-Montour production of Honk! completed its two-day run Saturday in the school's Fetter-Brown Auditorium with matinee and evening performances.

The musical, sponsored by the O-M Fine Arts Boosters and featuring a wide age-range of O-M students, was under the direction of Holly Campbell, Jennifer Kraemer and Ian MacDonald.

Honk! tells the story of Ugly (portrayed by John Coates), a duckling who doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the duckyard gang, led by Maureen (Bronwyn Stermer), Henrietta (Shania Austin), the Turkey (Garrett Allen), Grace (Kaelyn Arnold), and the other poultry (Marisa Alton, Taylor Alton, Samantha Dudgeon, Grace Edger, Tassia Garrison, and Alyssa Lindsley).

Ugly’s mother, Ida (Hannah Rosier), loves him unconditionally, telling him to “Hold your head up high,” but after a lot of bullying from the other poultry, including his own father and siblings (Noah Brewster, Mackenzie Cannon, Ben Campbell, Victoria Brewster, and Lillian Halpin), Ugly decides to have lunch with the Cat (Rhys Stermer), the play's villain.

Mistaking the Cat’s intentions for good rather than evil, Ugly narrowly escapes (still unaware exactly what the Cat meant when he said “I’m having you for lunch”), and gets lost.

His adventure introduces him to:

-- the eccentric, goose squadron leader Greylag (Noah Brewster), his devoted wife Dot (Casey Underdown), and his sloppy squadron;
-- the spoiled housecat Queenie (Casey Underdown) and her loyal friend, the domesticated hen, Lowbutt (Cheyenne Barrett);
-- the beautiful swan, Penny (Hailey Hoose), and her parents (Tyler Carson and Jaylin Rumsey);
-- and the Bull Frog (Noelle Chamberlain), who tells Ugly, “Someone’s gonna love ya -- warts and all.”

They are all accompanied by a troop of froglets: Mackenzie Cannon, Ben Campbell, Victoria Brewster, Lillian Halpin, Jed Lynch, Kailynn Frasier, Dylan Hayward, Havana Guild, Olivia Rivera, and Alex Campbell.

Does Ugly manage to find his way back to the barnyard? Do the characters ever realize that “this duckyard would be so boring if we all looked the same?” At the end, yes..

The key cast characters included:

Ida -- Hannah Rosier
Ugly -- John Coates
Cat -- Rhys Stermer
Drake/Greylag -- Noah Brewster
Dot/Queenie -- Casey Underdown
Henrietta -- Shania Austin
Maggie -- Tassia Garrison
Maureen -- Bronwyn Stermer
Lowbutt -- Cheyenne Barrett
Turkey -- Garrett Allen
Penny -- Hailey Hoose
Grace -- Kaelyn Arnold
Bullfrog -- Noelle Chamberlain

Photos in text (from dress rehearsal):

Top: Hannah Rosier as Ida (Ugly's mother) is surrounded by her brood.
Second: Hailey Hoose as Penny in a scene with John Coates during Honk!
Third: John Coates as Ugly and Noelle Chamberlain as the Bullfrog perform a duet.
Bottom: Shania Austin, as Henrietta, sings during one of the show's many tunes.

Left: John Coates as Ugly, left, and Rhys Stermer as The Cat. Right: Cheyenne Barrett as Lowbutt unties John Coates as Ugly.

The Cat (Rhys Stermer) is pulled by Queenie (a cat portrayed by Casey Underdown), left, and Lowbutt (a chicken portrayed by Cheyenne Barrett).

Kids of all ages took to the stage as part of the Odessa-Montour production of Honk!

And on earlier days, during rehearsals:

Dancers during a musical number in Honk! -- during a rehearsal leading to opening night.

Left: John Coates as Ugly. Center: Casey Underdown singing a song in Honk! Right: Bronwyn Stermer as Maureen.

Hannah Rosier as Ida at the birth of son Ugly, a duckling played by John Coates.

Left: Casey Underdown and Noah Brewster. Right: Tassia Garrison as newscaster Maggie.

Arc Grand Prix Run registration is open

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Feb. 19, 2017 -- The Arc Grand Prix Run at Watkins Glen International, the biggest running event in Watkins Glen, returns for its fourth year on Saturday, April 8 during WGI’s Opening Weekend. Registration is open now at

The annual charity race, held on the world famous 3.4-mile motor racing course, has attracted more than 2,000 participants and raised nearly $40,000 since 2014 for The Arc of Schuyler, a not-for-profit organization that provides supports and services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.

Registration fees are $25 for teens and adults and $10 for children. Early registration is encouraged to guarantee a shirt and avoid the $5 registration increase after March 11. Race-day registration and bib pick-up opens at 6:30 a.m. The race begins at 8 a.m. Prizes are awarded to the top pledge raiser and to the team with the most members. Watkins Glen International Opening Weekend activities and laps behind the pace car begin at 10 a.m.

The Arc is again partnering with Grist Iron Brewing Co. in Burdett to host an after-race party. The brewery and restaurant, located on the east side of Seneca Lake, will open at 11 a.m. with food, drink, and live music. Grist Iron will make a $1 donation for each pint ordered until 2 p.m. Race participants attending the party will be registered to win prizes.

"The entire team at Grist Iron Brewing is excited to be partnering with The Arc once again in support of the charity race," said Kate Fuller, Guest Relations Manager. "Giving back to the community is important to all of us here at GIB, so we hope to see lots of folks out running and at the after-party to help raise even more money for the wonderful programs that the Arc provides to our community."

For event details and registration, sponsorship, or volunteer information, contact The Arc of Schuyler Director of Community Relations, Holly Baker, at 607-535-6934. For more about The Arc, visit

This body of water bordering the swamp alongside the trail was cold and harsh, yet almost gave the appearance, in its simplicity, of being beach-like.

Along the Catharine Valley Trail

Photographer Liz Fraboni -- featured many times on these pages in years past -- recorded several images Monday during a walk along the Catharine Valley Trail between Watkins Glen and Montour Falls. We present those photos here.

Christmas Light Tour makes season bright

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Dec. 22 -- The Arc of Schuyler and Jefferson Village Apartments in Watkins Glen partnered to hold their annual Christmas Light Tour Wednesday evening, December 21 for Jefferson Village residents.

The first tour was initiated in December 2012 thanks to Floyd Wicker, a driver for The Arc of Schuyler and the public transportation system, Schuyler County Transit. Wicker proposed the idea for a one-hour bus trip that would allow residents of Jefferson Village apartments to see homes decorated for the season with lights and holiday displays.

“For people who don’t have their own vehicle, don’t drive at night, or don’t drive at all they may miss out on the beautiful festive displays in our neighborhood,” Mobility Manager Amber Simmons said. “It’s a fun opportunity that has become an annual tradition.”

Wicker continues to lead the Christmas Light Tour. He chooses the route for the year and fills the bus with holiday music to create a festive trip for riders.

The Arc of Schuyler is a specialized transportation provider for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities as well as the operator of Schuyler County Transit and Transportation Link-Line, a free transportation information and assistance service for Schuyler County residents. For more information about charter services, visit or call 607-535-3555.

Photo in text: Bus driver Floyd Wicker (Photo provided)

Former fighter tells of concussions' effects

WATKINS GLEN, Dec. 1 -- A former professional boxer, now 65 and with Parkinson's Syndrome and CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) as a legacy of too many concussions, was the guest speaker Thursday at the weekly luncheon meeting of the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club -- offering a cautionary tale.

Ray Ciancaglini, a native of Geneva, a member of the Rochester (NY) Boxing Hall of Fame and the Genvea Sports Hall of Fame, a winner in his fighting days of the Golden Glove Heart Award, said the remnants of his varied achievements are days now where "it's a struggle to tie my shoes and remember names of friends" -- and where "I'm constantly in a fog. Now it's not what I want to do, but what I'm capable of doing."

Ciancaglini, who started his boxing career in the mid-1960s as a teenager in the middleweight ranks, says nobody ever knocked him out or knocked him down in his many bouts, "and I refuse to let dementia be the first one to do it."

After retiring from the ring, he decided to impart his cautionary message in speaking engagements around the nation at high schools, colleges, NFL Player Development Camps and youth organizations, all free of charge. His message: the possible ramifications of not addressing concussions when they occur.

"A lack of concussion education and peer pressure led me to my demise," he said -- a downward spiral that started when he sustained two concussions in two bouts held in one week, in Buffalo and Syracuse, when he was still a teenager. He failed to tend to the concussions, which led to what is known now as the Second Impact Syndrome, which altered his behavior from that of a good student to one who was often absent, sleeping excessively, and disdaining authority.

He said he tried to mask his symptoms -- chief among them headaches, from which he still suffers -- but was suspended from boxing in New York, fought in other less regulated states under pseudonyms, and lost the ability that had carried him to multiple decisive victories. Eventually he retired.

"This," he said, referring to his current state, "is the toughest fight of my life," alleviated by the knowledge that his message might save other young athletes from a similar fate.

While competition is great, he said, and injuries will necessarily occur in all sports, common sense must prevail.

"Hiding concussions is self-destructive," he said. "It's not a badge of honor."

Photo in text: Ray Ciancaglini speaking at the Rotary Club luncheon.

The honored Vietnam veterans pose for a photo at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel.

Lions honor 26 at Salute to Veterans

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Nov. 29 -- The Watkins-Montour Lions Club Monday night honored 26 Vietnam War veterans at a dinner ceremony held at the Harbor Hotel.

In prepared remarks, Sgt. First Class John Antes, a retired member of the U.S. Marines and U.S. Army, said: “We are here to do what we should have done 50 years ago.”

The ceremony opened with the Posting of Colors by the Cornell ROTC Brigade and a performance of the National Anthem by the Ithaca College Choir Quartet. Lion Glenn Bleiler, Lt. U.S. Navy, served as Master of Ceremonies, along with Sgt. Antes, a member of the Schuyler County Veterans Services.

Authorized by Congress and signed by President Obama in May 2012, the Vietnam War Proclamation extends through Veterans Day 2025, and marks the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War. The primary objective of the Vietnam War Commemoration is to thank and honor veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the nation. All veterans who served between 1955 and 1975 are eligible for recognition.

The Watkins-Montour Lions Club organized the program in cooperation with the American Red Cross, an official Commemorative Partner. In addition to personal expressions of thanks, members of the Lions Club presented each veteran with a lapel pin with an eagle for valor on the front and an inscription on the back: “A grateful nation thanks and honors you.”

The Lions plan to repeat the salute to veterans next November and invite another group of the more than 1,200 Vietnam veterans in Schuyler County.

Veterans Honored in 2016: Daniel Ayers, Tom McGarry, Douglas Bingham, Thomas Merrill, Richard Brown, Mahlon Parker, Gary Conklin, Wayne Pelcher, John Dilts, John Pyhtila, Donald Foster, J.C. Robbins, Clair Gunning, Fred Scott, Harold (Jay) Hoffmeier, Charles Stevenson, Dale Jaynes, Phil Swaney, David LaMoreaux, Marvin Switzer, Jeff Lawton, James Tobey, Robert Lee, Donald Thompson, Steve LoPresti and David VanDyke.

Photos in text:

Top: Lion Dr. James Norton, right, presents a pin to Don Foster. Norton is a World War II veteran; Foster served in Vietnam.
Bottom: Guest speaker Sgt. 1st Class (retired) John Antes (Marines and Army) next to the POW/MIA table, with a place-setting for one and a table for all. (Photos by Susan Bleiler)

Lion George Roy, left, presents a pin to Vietnam veteran Marvin Switzer.

Winner chosen in Labor of Love raffle

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Nov. 22 -- The Labor of Love has conducted its first cash raffle, selling 200 raffle books of five tickets each for $10 apiece.

Half of the $2,000 raised was for the organization's benefit, with the other half going to a lucky winner chosen in a drawing Tuesday morning at the International Motor Racing
Research Center in Watkins Glen.

The name selected: Doug Habbershaw of Montour Falls.

The ticket was pulled from the container holding all of the raffle entries by an archival assistant at the IMRRC, Josh Ashby.

Labor of Love is a group of Schuyler County residents who provide ongoing financial outreach to Schuyler County residents. Collaboration is maintained with many county agencies that include Catholic Charities, Schuyler Outreach, the Department of Social Services, the Schuyler Housing Opportunities Council, the Office for the Aging, Adult Protective Services, and Mustard Seed Ministries. Needs have included hot water heaters, furnaces, propane, coal, minor home repairs, prescription costs, rent securities, and other emergency circumstances.

Labor of Love was initiated to continue the outreach ministry of the late Rosanne Paradiso of Watkins Glen, who died in 2006. Under the auspices of Saint James’ Episcopal Church of Watkins Glen, all financial donations are tax exempt. Gifts may be made to 210 Reading Road, Watkins Glen.

Photo in text: Josh Ashby, archival assistant at the International Motor Racing Research Center, draws the winning ticket from a jar held by Rev. Michael Hartney of the Labor of Love organization.

The north end of the St. Mary's Parish Center was a colorful blend of blankets at one of the many vendor tables at the bazaar.

Holiday Bazaars held in Odessa, Watkins

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Nov. 19 -- Annual Holiday Bazaars were held at two different facilities Saturday, one in Odessa and one in Watkins Glen.

The Odessa bazaar was held at the Odessa-Catharine United Methodist Church, where craft and art vendors sold their wares, and a bake sale nearly sold out in the first hour.

The fellowship hall was the site of a lunch, while Santa and Mrs. Claus met with children upstairs.

The annual bazaar at the St. Mary's of the Lake Parish Center in Watkins Glen also had its share of craft vendors, along with a food court, a cake wheel, raffles, a money tree and Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Crowds were thick at both locales, signalling the start of what is expected to be a brisk Christmas buying season.

Note: And they weren't the only craft shows in the area. Another was held at the Montour Moose Lodge -- all on an appealingly sunny day that turned colder in the afternoon and then wintry at night.

Photo in text: Santa Claus was on hand at the St. Mary's Parish Center, above, and at the Odessa-Catharine United Methodist Church.

Left: Alpacas were featured outside the Watkins bazaar. Right: Kevin Austin was manning the cash box for lunch orders at the Odessa church bazaar.

Left: Artwork was among the goods available at the Odessa bazaar. Right: Ellie Brown shows one of the books she has authored and was selling at the Watkins bazaar.

Dollhouse raffle to benefit St. James'

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Nov. 8 -- A custom-built dollhouse will be raffled to benefit St. James’ Episcopal Church in Watkins Glen.

Built by Nick Dugo, a member of the Parish, the dollhouse has four rooms on two floors, plus an attic. Each room is wallpapered and painted, with moldings and trim and hardwood floors; a staircase connects the two floors.

The dollhouse has a cedar-shake shingle roof and, of course, is painted dollhouse-pink.

Dugo has been building dollhouses since the 1970s. The first was built for his daughter, and then, over the years, he built others for several nieces in the family.

He built one which is a replica of his sister’s house in Bath, a Federal-style “mini-mansion.” That one is hinged, to open up all the rooms in the house. He previously built one for a St. James’ raffle, as well as one for his mother’s Church to raffle. This makes the 12th one he has built. All of them have been from scratch, and of his own design.

The dollhouse will be on display at St. James’ Bazaar at the Parish House, 112 Sixth Street, on Saturday, November 12, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tickets will be sold at $1 for one ticket and six for $5.

After that, it will be on display at Fiber Arts in the Glen, 315 N. Franklin St., Watkins Glen, where tickets will also be available.

The dollhouse will also be shown at the Watkins Glen Village Christmas in front of Fiber Arts in the Glen on December 2nd. Raffle tickets will be sold then as well.

The drawing for the winner will be held on Sunday, December 12.

Photo in text: The dollhouse, to be raffled Dec. 12. (Photo provided)

Friends of the Watkins Library honored

Special to The Odessa File

PAINTED POST, Oct. 19 -- The Friends of the Watkins Library (FOWL) group has been honored with the Grass Roots Award, presented by the Southern Tier Library System.

The Watkins Glen Public Library support unit was honored for its partnership with The Arc of Schuyler for the annual FOWL used book sale.

The Grass Roots Award recognizes “outstanding library service to underserved community members,” including people with developmental disabilities.

The Arc has hosted the annual June book sale for 22 years. FOWL volunteers work side-by-side with people served by The Arc in setting up and sorting the donated books during the month preceding the sale.

“Everyone in the Watkins Glen and Schuyler County community involved with the book sale benefits from this partnership: the Friends, The Arc, the library and, of course, the readers,” Glenda Gephart, book sale co-chairman, said in thanking STLS for the award. It was presented at the STLS annual conference and dinner at Watson Homestead on Oct. 13.

Also accepting the award were Sue Dugo, sale co-chairman, and from The Arc of Schuyler Marie Scott, Carol Sullivan and Teresa Higbie.

“The Arc of Schuyler is thrilled to be a partner of the Watkins Glen Public Library,” Jeannette Frank, The Arc of Schuyler executive director, said after the award presentation. “The people we support truly enjoy being part of the book sale and the friendships that develop.”

The Arc of Schuyler interaction with the Watkins Glen library goes beyond the book sale, Marleah Denkenberger of the STLS Coordinated Outreach Services and Advisory Council said in presenting the award.

“People supported by The Arc visit the library several days a week throughout the year,” she said. “The library staff have developed warm and friendly relationships with them, know them by name, and know what they like. The Arc staff do a beautiful job of accompanying them and introducing them to the library.”

The Arc of Schuyler is a family-based, not-for-profit organization that provides residential, vocational, day support, job training, service coordination, advocacy and other support to people with developmental disabilities and their families.

Photo in text: From left, Marie Scott and Carol Sullivan, of The Arc of Schuyler; Harriet Eisman, Watkins Glen Public Library director; and Glenda Gephart and Sue Dugo of the Friends of the Watkins Library. In the front is Teresa Higbie of The Arc of Schuyler. (Photo provided)

United Way sets goal, names co-chairs

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Sept. 22 -- The United Way of Schuyler County began its annual campaign Wednesday with a luncheon for member agencies at the Montour Moose Lodge -- where Executive Director Peggy Scott announced a goal to raise $123,000 to help support 24 agencies serving county residents.

This year's campaign co-chairs were on hand and introduced: Dr. Ben Saks and his wife Marian. The couple, who live in Hector, have two young children.

Dr. Saks is in internal medicine at Schuyler Hospital, which is a United Way agency. He serves on the Schuyler Hospital and Cayuga Health System boards, and is an elected county coroner. Marian is a structural engineer who serves on the development committee of the My Place, A Play and Learning Center, and is treasurer for the Montour Falls Memorial Library. Both My Place and the library are United Way agencies.

The campaign officially begins with an annual Kick Off dinner featuring pasta and meatballs on Monday, Oct. 10 at the Montour Moose Lodge. Serving starts at 5 p.m.

Photo in text: Dr. Benjamin and Marian Saks (Photo by Drew Guild)

Ken Wilson wins Marie Bailey Award

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Sept. 22 -- The United Way of Schuyler County has honored Ken Wilson of Watkins Glen with the annual Marie Bailey Award.

The award recognizes an individual or agency for support of United Way efforts in Schuyler County. It memorializes the late Marie Bailey, known as a “tireless volunteer,” Executive Director Peggy Scott said at the annual United Way agency luncheon on Wednesday, Sept. 21.

Scott cited Wilson for serving as a United Way campaign co-chairman in 1983 and president of the United Way board in 1986-87 and for his support of the 2015 campaign led by his daughter and son-in-law, Jenny and Tom Lewis.

“He has a trifecta for United Way. There isn’t anybody else who has done this,” Scott said. “He has never wavered in his support for United Way.”

In accepting the award, Wilson noted that Bailey was among the first people to enlist his involvement with United Way. He was serving as board president when the award honoring her was created.

“Marie certainly did a lot for United Way,” Wilson said.

The 2016 campaign to raise $123,000 to support 24 agencies serving Schuyler County residents kicks off on Oct. 10 with the annual spaghetti dinner at the Montour Moose Lodge.

Photo in text: Ken Wilson with United Way of Schuyler County Executive Director Peggy Scott at the Sept. 21 luncheon at the Montour Moose Lodge.

Festival singing competition winners named

WATKINS GLEN, Aug. 25, 2016 -- Organizers of the Gara Di Canto Singing Competition at the 2016 Schuyler County Italian American Festival have been announced.

Organizer Deb Switzer said the competition, moved this year after several years at the Firemen's Carnival in Montour Falls, was a success, and she thanked the Italian American Festival for hosting and sponsoring it.

Honorable Mentions went to:

Addison Coolican
Josh Markley

Ages 10-16:

1st -- Kassidy Samuels
2nd -- Noelle Chamberlain
3rd -- Hayley Burke with Hailey Ferguson on guitar

Ages 17 and up:

1st -- Kasey Samuels
2nd -- Darlene Fazzary
3rd -- Peggy Saunders and Harold Brown

One of the many units marching in Saturday's festival parade. (Photo provided)

Carnival rides are a staple of the annual Italian American Festival. (Photo by Liz Fraboni)

Italian American festival ends its 3-day run

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Aug. 15, 2016 -- The 37th annual, three-day Schuyler County Italian American Festival ended its run Sunday, Aug. 14 at Clute Park in Watkins Glen. A talent show and motorcycle gathering highlighted the final day.

Saturday had featured an annual parade, a fireworks show and a bocce tournament.

The festival, which attracted a large crowd, included live music on Friday and Saturday, “L’Osteria at the Park,” vendors, carnival games and rides, and Italian gift sales. On Saturday, a dominant feature was also the heat, as was a storm that night.

According to one festival spokesperson, Saturday's parade "went well, but nine units canceled or just didn't show up -- perhaps due to the very hot weather. And the fireworks were great, but they started almost an hour early and were shortened due to a heavy rainstorm." But she added: "They were still wonderful."

The festival president was Louis Perazzini of Watkins Glen. Don Stocum of Hector was festival chairman.

Histories of local families were displayed at L’Osteria at the Park, a gathering place on the festival grounds that also offered Italian music and gifts.

Local wineries were also hosting wine tastings at L’Osteria.

John Vona of Watkins Glen, for many years the organizer of the Italian American Festival parade, was honored Saturday as parade marshal. Joining him in the always-popular parade were festival Prince Vincent Ocasio, 8, and Princess Grace Roney, 7.

The parade route Saturday was improved this year with the shift of the parade’s viewing stand from Lafayette Park to Clute Park. The change helped with traffic flow and control. The parade started at noon at Watkins Glen High School and traveled north on Decatur Street and east on Fourth Street to Clute Park. The emcee, as in past years, was County Legislator Jim Howell.

The entertainment lineup included two bands on Friday evening. The Sam Pallet Band, a longtime festival favorite, returned for a 5-7:30 p.m. performance. The Cheyenne Band played from 8-11:30, presenting country music at the festival for the first time in a long time. Saturday’s musical entertainment was by Ruby Shooz from 8 p.m. to midnight.

The Gara di Canto, a community talent show with 25 acts, was presented Sunday at noon on the Entertainment Stage. The acts were judged, and prizes awarded.

The annual fireworks show, described by Perazzini before the festival as "still the best in the Finger Lakes," was held Saturday night -- though early and shortened because of the weather. This year’s show, produced again by American Fireworks Co. of Utica, was presented in memory of Stephen Treleaven, who worked for American Fireworks.

Carnival rides and games, bingo, a pasta-eating contest and a motorcycle show were also part of the festival’s weekend of fun. More than 20 food concessions and upwards of 50 craft vendors lined the midway.

Returning this year for Saturday and Sunday were continuous marionette performances by the Robert Rogers Puppet Company on center court in front of the pavilion. Also returning: the “Salami Shack,” a game that offered Italian meats and cheeses as the prizes.

The Tony Tallarida Memorial Bocce Tournament was played on renovated bocce courts throughout the day on Saturday.

Another of Saturday’s highlights was the pasta-eating contest, open to anyone of any age. It was held at 4 p.m. at the Entertainment Stage. "It had the best participation ever," said the festival spokesperson. "There were 10 kids and four adults. Curly's Family Restaurant donated all of the pasta for the contest."

The Kenny Larson Memorial Motorcycle Show was held Sunday. Motorcyclists and motorcycle fans were invited starting at noon. Parking was free for all motorcycles.

Except for the amusement rides and games, all of the entertainment was free, and no admission to the festival was charged. Parking on Clute Park grounds was $5 per vehicle. The festival had plenty of handicapped parking spaces available.

As part of its emphasis on offering a family-friendly experience, the organizing committee prohibited all outside alcoholic beverages from the festival grounds. Coolers and bags were being checked.

Local wines and ice cold beer were available for purchase at the festival’s beer garden, a designated area designed to offer a relaxing atmosphere for festival-goers 21 and older.

For more information about any aspect of the festival, see the festival website at or contact festival president Louis Perazzini at

Photos in text:

Top: Military jeeps were part of the annual parade on Saturday. (Photo by Liz Fraboni)

Second: Boats were plentiful near the southern shoreline of Seneca Lake at Clute Park, site of the festival. (Photo by Liz Fraboni)

Third: The pasta-eating contest. (Photo provided)

Fourth: An American Diabetes Association bicycle was among the parade entrants. (Photo by Liz Fraboni)

The Caledonian Highlanders marching bagpipers entertained boaters along the shoreline of Clute Park after the band participated in the parade up Decatur and Fourth Streets.

The Girl Scouts were among the festival parade participants Saturday. (Photo provided)

A Burdett Fire Department truck in the parade was carrying some young passengers.

Parade tops the Hector Fair's 2nd day

HECTOR, July 29, 2016 -- An enthusiastic crowd lined much of Rt. 414 in Hector between the Dandy store and the Valois-Logan-Hector Fire Department Friday evening, viewing the annual Hector Fair Parade.

The fair, now in its 58th year, opened Thursday, continued Friday evening and concludes today (Saturday) with a full day of activities including rides, displays, vendor stands, food and music, along with a car show and farmer's market. It ends after dark with a fireworks display.

About 40 units of various kinds participated in Friday's line of march, held under a bright sun but with a cooling breeze. Among them were fire department trucks from Hector, Ovid, Lodi, Interlaken, Odessa, Mecklenburg, Trumansburg, Enfield, Beaver Dams, Watkins Glen, Tyrone, Montour Falls, Burdett and the host Valois-Logan-Hector. Rescue operations included Schuyler Ambulance, South Seneca Ambulance, and Millport Rescue.

There were tractors, and classic cars, and marching units including the Montour Falls Fire Department Band and the bagpiping Caledonian Highlanderes. There was a color guard from the Odessa American Legion 676, and a restored police car driven by Schuyler Sheriff's Deputy Andrew Yessman.

Politicians were on hand, including Assemblyman Phil Palmesano and State Senator Tom O'Mara. A trio of people were carrying a sign promoting the State Senate candidacy of Democratic challenger Leslie Danks Burke, who they said could not attend due to a conflict.

There was a baton unit, Lily's Marching Hope of the NY Finger Lakes Region, which raises funds in the fight against Huntington's Disease (, and floats from Hazlitt's 1852 Vineyards, the Backbone Ridge History Group, Rasta Ranch Vineyards, and the Hector Presbyterian Church's Vacation Bible School.

Two Goats Brewery had a pickup truck with a couple, the Dahls, holding -- yes -- two goats. And Ehrhart Energy had a pickup truck display with its riders handing out Erhhart frisbees. And Smokey the Bear was riding another truck.

After the parade, many of the spectators adjourned to the fair itself, where food such as clams and shrimp awaited, as did games, rides, displays and a book sale.

Photos in text:

Top: A bagpiper performs as part of the Caledonian Highlanders.

Middle: A girl studies the passing crowd from atop a Valois-Logan-Hector fire truck participating in the parade.

Bottom: Former Montour Falls Fire Chief Jeff Confer, left, and current Chief Billy Thomas marched in the parade with other members of the department.

Lily's Marching Hope featured an array of baton twirlers ranging from teens to young girls.

Among the parade participants were Smokey the Bear and a woman seated on a Backbone Ridge History Group float.

One of the inhabitants of a Hector Fair display.

As the sun set, a rider was spotted high above the ground on the Paratrooper ride at the fair.

The line of cheese customers was steady through the day at this Cheese Festival tent.

Annual Cheese Festival draws a crowd

CATHARINE, July 24, 2016 -- The fifth annual Finger Lakes Cheese Festival drew a clear, hot day and a crowd numbering in the thousands Saturday at the Hoffman farm -- home of Sunset View Creamery -- at Catharine Corners south of Odessa.

Sunset View is a founding member of the Finger Lakes Cheese Alliance, which puts on this annual family-focus event. A total of 65 vendors were on hand, among them new ones as the event grows each year. Thousands of people made their way to the site, parking in the Hoffman farm field off of the Ridge Road. (The crowd last year totaled 5,000, and organizers were hoping to equal or surpass that.)

In addition to new vendors, there were new activities -- and many local businesses and organizations as sponsors. The event features a full farm market with all of the creameries of the Finger Lakes Cheese Alliance present as well as many local food and farm vendors. Finger Lakes beer, wine and cider producers offered samples for attendees, and cheese and beverage pairing seminars were expanded to 120 seats each to accommodate a growing interest.

For the kids, there was a kids' craft corner, Barnyard Olympics, petting zoo, goat milking and games. For the whole family, there was music all day, featuring Sons of a Beach, Bob & Dee, and The Tarps. New this year was a guided milking parlor tour running four times during the day. There were also self-guided farm tours and hayrides.

The Planning Committee thanked the Watkins Glen/Montour Falls Lions Club, The Spirit of Schuyler, and the Odessa Fire Department for providing assistance at the festival.

In addition to all the activities, there was plenty to eat, sample and buy. Food vendors suiting every palate were at the festival, including Global Taco, FLX Weinery, Macarolin, Burke’s Bar-b-cue, and Heavenly Treats of Corning. There were wines from the Hector Wine Company, Lakewood Vineyards, Americana Winery, Stever Hill Vineyards and J.R. Dill winery; local ciders from Blue Toad Hard Cider and Eve’s Cidery, and beer from craft brewers. The freshest milk was also available.

Pairing Seminars began at noon. These were led by sommelier and wine writer Holly Howell and paired Alliance cheeses with wines, beers and ciders of the Associate Members of the Alliance. Seminars were expanded to accommodate 120 attendees for a fee of $2 each per seminar per person.

Other popular activities included the Cooking with Cheese Seminar with Chef Christopher Bates of FLX Weinery. A cheesemaking class was led by Chef Brud Holland from Finger Lakes Made.

Along with the food and drink, the Alliance invited neighbor artisans and farms to participate in the event, so there were also farm produce and products on hand, along with locally made products and wares.

"It's a great turnout," said Carmella Hoffman, owner of Sunset View Creamery and a member of the festival's planning committee, before the day was half done. "Next year," she added, "we're going to expand the site across the entrance driveway, to the field farther south," and utilize a new entrance.

Title Sponsor:
Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce

Platinum Sponsors:
New York Farm Bureau of Cayuga, Chemung, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben & Tioga Counties; Visions Federal Credit Union; O’Hara Machinery

Gold Sponsor:
Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance

Silver Sponsors: Elm Chevrolet, Simmons-Rockwell, Flynn Energy, Sidle Insurance, Farm Credit East, Tioga Downs

Bronze Sponsors: Amerigas Watkins Glen, Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, Community Bank NA, Curly’s Family Restaurant, Finger Lakes Culinary Bounty, Jeff’s Onsite Services

Activity Sponsors:
Finger Lakes Beer Trail -- Beer & Cheese Pairing Seminar
Seneca Meadows, Inc. -- Music Sponsor

Photos in text:

Top: Hayrides were among the Cheese Festival attractions.

Second: Animals of various kinds and size were on hand for petting.

Third: Drew Guild served as announcer.

Bottom: Festival T-shirts with Whey Cool on them were available at a tent.

Heavenly Treats of Corning has been on hand every year at the festival.

The Finger Lakes Wine Lockers business of Watkins Glen was on hand with, among its specialties, quality cigars.

Left: Gloria Brubaker examines wares at one of the many booths. Right: A girl watches as Bonnie Scott of Odessa works behind safety glass in her mobile hot-glass studio.

Bob & Dee were among the musical performers. Also playing: the groups Sons of a Beach and The Tarps.

A food wagon attracted a constant line of customers.

Three entrants approached the finish line at the same time. Game On won its category: Fastest Elapsed Time Multi-hull-two or more.

Cardboard boats draw crowd to harbor

WATKINS GLEN, June 18 -- The annual Cardboard Boat Regatta -- part of the weekend Watkins Glen Waterfront Festival -- was held Saturday under sunny skies and with high temperatures.

More than 40 entrant crafts -- going in heats of two around a course that ran from one end of the Seneca Harbor Marina to the breakwater, west to the pier, and then southbound to a finish line -- negotiated the water to the cheers of a large crowd lining the waterfront, pier and breakwater.

The event was broadcast by Fox TV, which will rebroadcast the event (see schedule here).

The race was preceded by a three-hour period in which spectators could view the boats in the parking area near the starting line. A Food Court -- featuring many vendors -- was also an attraction.

The races started at 2 p.m., with the following results provided by Waterfront Festival organizers:

Fastest Elapsed Time Multi-hull-two or more: Game On -- 2:49
Fastest Elapsed Time Single Hull-Multi Crew:
Geezers AKA Osage -- 1:58
Fastest KIDS Boat under 12:
Party Crashers -- 6:08
Fastest Elapsed Time Single Hull-Single Crew:
Snickers -- 10:17
Fastest TEENS Boat (13 to 18):
Star Wars “The Force Awakens” -- 4:03
Best Construction --
Boat Drinks
Best Lookin’ Boat --
BIG FOX “Titanic” Sinking --
to be announced soon
Best Boat Name --
Split Happens
Best “Theme” --
SS Minnow
Judges' Choice --
Bethany Bus
BIG FOX Goody’s Headache Award --
to be announced soon
Schuyler County Chairman’s Cup --
Geezers OKA Osage -- 1:58
People’s Choice --

Photos in text: From top: The Seneca Lodge entrant crosses the finish line: Game On is discarded after its race (a fate of most of the boats); and the Harbor Hound entrant capsized at the start of its race against Party Crashers, but its crew swam and pushed their craft all the way around the course, through the finish line.

A large crowd lined the Seneca Harbor Pier and breakwater, not to mention the shoreline.

Pre-race emcee Michelle Benjamin (left), and Renee Riley, singing the National Anthem.

The Party Crashers, winners of the first heat, near the finish line. The crew won its category: Fastest KIDS Boat under 12: Party Crashers -- 6:08.

The Hit Men, a brass band out of Rochester, were a hit with the crowd, playing both before and during the parade on Main Street.

Annual parade draws crowd to Montour

MONTOUR FALLS, June 11 -- Despite rumors of rain, the 60th annual Montour Falls Firemen's Parade was held Saturday under mostly sunny skies and a cooling breeze.

Five high school bands and 27 fire departments participated in the Main Street procession, along with various classic cars, antique tractors, floats and horses.

The parade was the highlight of the final day of the three-day Montour Falls Firemen's Carnival. A chicken barbecue was a popular stop earlier in the day at the carnival grounds, and the midway would be open until midnight, with a third straight night of live music.

Fire departments in the parade represented Pine City, Lodi, Wayne, Dundee, Hammondsport, Montour Falls, Dresden, Beaver Dams, Elmira Heights, Tyrone, Town and Country, Watkins Glen, Mecklenburg, Trumansburg, North Corning, Fairport, Penn Yan, Burdett, Odessa, Enfield, Horseheads, Valois-Logan-Hector, South Seneca, Branchport, Millport, Campbell, and Gibson.

School bands were from Jasper-Troupsburg, Dundee (a steel band), Odessa-Montour, Corning-Painted Post, and Addison.

Other musical groups included the Caledonian Highlanders (bagpipers), the Appalachian Grenadiers (drummers), and The Hit Men brass band out of Rochester.

Law enforcement was represented by the Schuyler County Sheriff's Department, State Police and Watkins Glen Village Police.

The parade drew a large crowd that lined Main Street from the Glorious T to a point well beyond Rte. 14. The line of vehicles and marchers took well over an hour to complete.

Photos from top: The Montour Falls Fire Department Marching Band; a truck from Elmira Heights, one of 27 departments represented; and Odessa scouts march up Main Street.

A Symphonic Steel Band from Dundee High School was transported on a float.

Left: A member of the 300-member Corning-Painted Post High School band. Right: A member of the Addison High School band.

Horses and horse riders were part of the Montour Falls Firemen's Parade.

State Senator Tom O-Mara (left) and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (sharing candy) were among the parade participants.

Among the parade marchers were the Appalachian Grenadier drummers.

Left: Odessa Fire Department members Keith Pierce and Taylor Rounds. Right: A member of the Caledonian Highlanders bagpipe band.

The Odessa-Montour High School Marching Band performed along Main Street.

Left: An Enfield Fire Department rough-terrain vehicle. Right: Emcee Jim Howell.

A member of the Jasper-Troupsburg High School Marching Band.

A throwback car draws some attention

MONTOUR FALLS, June 11 -- A police car near the front of the 60th annual Montour Falls Firemen's Parade was a throwback to the 1980s.

The car, a 1988 Plymouth Gran Fury, was driven in the parade by Schuyler County Sheriff Bill Yessman, who owns it with son Andrew Yessman, a Schuyler deputy. They purchased it privately about a year ago after finding it through eBay on Staten Island.

It has since been painted and striped by local artisans, with a rooftop bar of period police lights affixed. The bar was found, the sheriff said, in a barn.

The sheriff said his son had wanted to create a "period-correct car," and this offered the opportunity. The Gran Fury -- manufactured from 1975 to 1989 -- differs in name from the vehicles used in the '80s and early '90s by Schuyler road patrols (which were Dodge Diplomats), "but they are essentially the same car," said the sheriff, who drove one himself back in the day. "I was one of the last ones in the department to drive one," he said, explaining that he finally gave it up in 1994 "when it started falling apart."

This car is in no such danger. It was used first as an NCIS car, and then made its way to a Sheriff's Department in Virginia, where it was painted blue but little used. From there it was purchased by a retired policeman on Staten Island, who took good care of it. When the Yessmans picked it up, it was white. Minor restoration work remains, but it is parade worthy -- and car- meet worthy.

Sheriff Yessman said he and Andrew would be taking it the next day to the Chemung County Fairgrounds for a car gathering -- "a fun meet," he said. The weekend appearances, he noted, constituted the car's "coming out ... its debut."

Photo in text: Schuyler County Sheriff Bill Yessman with the 1988 Plymouth Gran Fury, renovated to a state that cars like it possessed back in the '80s and early '90s.

The exterior of the apartment complex, as viewed from a sidewalk along Decatur Street.

Ribbon cut for apartment complex in former Watkins Glen Middle School

Portions of the following were provided special to The Odessa File.

WATKINS GLEN, March 10, 2016 -- It was ribbon-cutting time Thursday morning for the new apartment development in the former Watkins Glen Middle School, and it drew a crowd.

State, county and village representatives were on hand for speeches, and scores of area residents turned out for the occasion -- which culminated with the familiar ribbon-slicing ceremony.

Then came snacks and self-tours of the facility, where 20 of the 51 apartments -- designed for lower income senior residents -- were already occupied.

Representatives of New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR), Two Plus Four Construction, the SEPP Management Group, and contributing partners were on hand to mark completion of the complex, known as Watkins Glen School Apartments.

Located at 906 N. Decatur Street, the newly created apartments are among the thousands of units that form the foundation of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s new, $10 billion House New York 2020 program to create or preserve 100,000 affordable units over the next five years.

The former school now consists of 44 one-bedroom apartments, and 7 two-bedroom apartments. The $14.3 million project includes an important extra benefit for the community in the form of civic space to be created by rehabilitating the former school’s existing auditorium and gymnasium.

The three-story building’s residential units are located on the first, second and third floors and are accessible by both stairs and an elevator. Laundry facilities are available on each floor, and the development provides a large community room with a kitchenette and a computer lab on the first floor. Two additional activity rooms are on an upper floor.

The building is located near downtown and the Watkins Glen harbor district. A grocery store, pharmacy and local retail shops are all within walking distance of the site.

On hand with speeches were:

Anthony F. Fiala, Jr. Executive Director/CEO of SEPP Management, which spearheaded the project. He said: “On behalf of SEPP, we are very pleased to be part of the Village of Watkins Glen and the County. It was a team effort with our partner Two Plus Four Construction and the result is an incredible project that will provide safe, affordable housing for generations to come.”

Susan M. Kimmel, President of Two Plus Four Construction, who said: “Watkins Glen School Apartments is a perfect example of a successful public/private partnership. In working closely with the development team, New York State Homes and Community Renewal has given the Village of Watkins Glen the opportunity to see the reuse of a historic landmark central to their Village while providing much needed housing to the seniors in their community.” Two Plus Four Construction served as the general contractor.

Senator Thomas F. O’Mara, who said: “What a fantastic, innovative project to help Watkins Glen address the critical need for more affordable senior housing, which remains a challenge across the region and state.”

Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, who said: "What a great day. This is what partnership is all about."

Said County Administrator Tim O'Hearn -- who first brought the building to the attention of SEPP: "This is an exciting time in a community with a progressive vision. This project is a huge asset to the community."

Watkins Glen Deputy Mayor Gary Schmidt, who charmed the sizable crowd at the ceremony, said this: "This (turnout) is crazy. I thank everyone for coming. What a great project, and a quality development ... I wish Governor Cuomo was here because I wore a tie today."

As an historic landmark, features such as the school lockers, skylights, doors and woodwork, chalk boards and other original fixtures and details have been retained, as a reminder of the building’s original use. They also add decorative elements and character to the building.

HCR funding for this $14.3 million project -- which began in November 2014 -- was provided through the Housing Trust Fund (HTF) and Federal Low-Income Housing Credit (LIHC) Programs, which leveraged an NBT Bank loan; Federal and State Historic Tax Credit Equity; NYSERDA incentives, and a deferred developer fee. Citi Community Capital provided the construction loan. HCR’s Rural & Urban Community Investment Fund program and Empire State Development, through a Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council CFA grant award, are providing funding for the civic space.

Residents began moving in on Friday, Feb. 26. The building is expected to be rented to capacity by April. Applications are currently being accepted. The gross rents (rent plus utilities) range from $485 to $616 a month, and will be affordable to households with incomes at or below 50% of area median income. HTFC Project-Based Rental Vouchers will be provided for the eight apartments reserved for frail elderly renters. For applications call 800-838-0441 TDD 711 or visit

Photos in text:

From top: Dignitaries cut the ribbon; lockers populate a hallway; the kitchen in a two-bedroom apartment; and SEPP's Anthony Fiala, left, conducts a tour that included Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, center, and State Senator Tom O'Mara, right.

Ice Bar raises $25,000 for Red Cross

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Feb. 23 -- The 2016 Ice Bar at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel in early February -- an annual three-night party celebrating winter and the region's wine and food -- raised $25,000 for the Finger Lakes Chapter of the American Red Cross.

"On behalf of the American Red Cross, I want to say thank you to the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel, sponsors and members of the community for their continued generous support,” said Chapter Executive Director Carlos McCluskey. “This is an incredible partnership that benefits the entire region."

"This marked the fifth year of the annual event, which has become a highlight of the region’s social calendar," said the hotel’s Director of Sales Christine Peacock. "Since its inception, the Ice Bar has generated $75,000 for the American Red Cross."

Donations from the event assist in providing relief to victims of disasters and helps people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies.

Photo in text: An ice sculpture that was part of the Ice Bar, an annual three-night party at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel. (File photo)

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, visit or visit on Twitter at @RedCross.

Left: Bonnie Scott, recipient of the Community Spirit Award. Right: Peter Honsberger, honored by the Chamber of Commerce for Lifetime Achievement.

Chamber holds its annual Winter Gala

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Jan. 22, 2016 -- Men and women in elegant attire, live music by the group Suspect, a fine meal, silent auction packages, a Stock Your Cellar Wine Raffle, a masquerade theme, and awards for Community Spirit and Lifetime Achievement were all part of Friday night's annual Winter Gala at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel -- the largest fundraiser each year for the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce.

The event was presented by Visions Federal Credit Union and sponsored by Corning Enterprises.

The black-tie affair featured dramatic lighting and decor, not to mention stunning gowns. Event colors were white and gold. Attendees were invited to come masquerade style, including masks, and many did.

Cocktails were served from 5:30 to 7 p.m., and dinner from 7 to 8. The silent auction and Stock Your Cellar Wine Raffle was open from 5 to 8 p.m. After that came awards and speeches, and then the music from 9-11 p.m.

Honorees this year were Bonnie Scott (receiving the Community Spirit Award) and Peter Honsberger (for Lifetime Achievement).

Honsberger is well known in the business community, having operated the Great Escape Ice Cream Parlor at 221 S. Franklin Steet in the village for decades -- a business his Facebook page says he is handing off to his daughter Jackie.

He is a Navy veteran of the Vietnam War, and involved in various local activities such as the Chamber of Commerce, where he is a member of the Executive Committee. He winters in Florida, but was present for Friday's Gala.

Scott has had quite a week. She was honored Monday by the Odessa Village Board as its third annual Citizen of the Year, and now by the Chamber with its Community Spirit Award. She was introduced by daughter Keri, who will be moving with her parents to Virginia in the summer. Bonnie's husband, Fred, is retired after a long career running the Vedder and Scott Funeral Home. Bonnie, often involved in local activities -- including the Chamber's Ambassador Program and its Membership Committee -- helped Fred with his business, and is past owner of a Longaberger basket business and current owner of a glass studio, Joyful Adornments.

Photos in text:

Top: Brian and Loueda Bleiler in their masks. Brian is an optometrist.
Middle: Montour Falls Mayor John King and Amanda Smith-Socaris, who operates Seneca Physical Therapy, chat before the dinner.
Bottom: Kent and Beth Duane.

From left: Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce President Rebekah LaMoreaux; Linda Confer, Branch Manager at Elmira Savings Bank in Watkins Glen, and Brian McKenzie of Finger Lakes Distilling.

Forum speakers air funding needs for people with developmental disabilities

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Dec. 23 -- Arc chapters in Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, and Yates Counties jointly held a legislative forum on Tuesday at The Arc of Schuyler in support of the “It Matters to Me” grassroots advocacy campaign organized by the local agencies’ statewide affiliate, NYSARC, Inc.

State Sen. Tom O’Mara and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano attended the forum to hear families, self-advocates, and staff members share their personal stories focusing on funding needs for residential housing and program development, employment choices, and preschool programs for people with developmental disabilities as well as for a wage increase for direct support professionals at nonprofit agencies.

Jeannette Frank, Executive Director at The Arc of Schuyler, remarked that nonprofits provide critical services that contribute to the quality of life of the community, providing supports for some of New York State’s most vulnerable citizens.

Amanda Jakubowicz was one of many speakers at the forum. Jakubowicz, a service coordinator at The Arc of Schuyler, shared the story of a young man with disabilities and his mother who twice applied to the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities for residential placement. Their request was declined. The man has since lost both parents and now relies on a non-relative caregiver who continues to struggle finding a more appropriate housing situation to meet his needs.

“There are many people I work with in situations like this and without funding in the 2016 state budget for residential developments, where will they go?” Jakubowicz said.

Terri Rogers spoke on behalf of her brother Mike. She voiced concerns that without state funding her brother will lose the opportunity to work in a job he’s been successful in at Arc of Steuben for years due to New York State’s efforts to move people with intellectual and developmental disabilities into community employment.

She said she would like to see her brother have the opportunity to have a choice of employment options based on his goals and interests and the guidance of Mike’s circle of support, the family members and human service professionals that work with him every day.

“There are approximately 8,000 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities working in sheltered workshops across the state,” Bernie Berns. Executive Director of Arc of Steuben said. “People should have a choice about where they work.”

Arc of Yates Executive Director Daniele Lyman addressed the need for funding preschool programs for children with disabilities. These programs are at risk of closure. This is the first year Arc of Yates’ Keuka Lake School has received a rate increase since 2010. Lyman was followed by Adam Campbell, a parent of a child with Down Syndrome, who credited Keuka Lake School for his daughter’s progress and successful transition into regular education for kindergarten.

Many family and staff members also attended the forum to advocate for a minimum wage increase to compete with the NYS Labor Commissioner’s approvedĀ plan to enact a $15 minimum wage for fast-food workers.

“In my 35 years as an agency executive, the single biggest structural issue in our field has been the lack of appropriate pay for our frontline staff and the work they do,” said Michael A. Doherty, Ph.D., Executive Director of The Arc of Chemung.

Three parents, a residential manager, and two staff members spoke on the issue, reasoning that direct support professionals should receive a comparable wage increase or they would be forced to leave for better paying jobs, and supports for people with disabilities will be reduced.

“The expectations on direct support professionals have increased substantially and we are under enormous pressure,” Pat Wilcox, a 30-year Arc employee said. “Direct support professionals need a wage increase. We need it to retain employees, to recruit new employees, and to ensure people with disabilities have the best people working for them.”

NYSARC, Inc. is the State’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting people with developmental and other disabilities. Arc chapters in Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben and Yates Counties support more than 2,000 children and adults with disabilities and their families.

Photo in text: (From left) Michael Stamp, Arc of Schuyler board president; State Senator Tom O’Mara; Jeannette Frank, Arc of Schuyler executive director; and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano listen as Arc of Schuyler board member and parent, Jay Hoffmeier, speaks on the issue of employment choices for people with developmental disabilities. (Photo provided)

Schuyler County Transit drivers pose in front of one of the buses during the 5-year anniversary celebration. (Photo provided)

Transit marks 5th anniversary

WATKINS GLEN, Aug. 25, 2015 -- Schuyler County Transit celebrated its 5th anniversary on Tuesday, August 25 with a public event at its operation headquarters, The Arc of Schuyler. Members of the Schuyler County Coordinated Transportation Committee, the team responsible for the long-range planning and implementation of the public transit system, gathered for a celebration with legislative officials, bus drivers and riders.

In five years, Schuyler County Transit ridership has tripled, with about 18,500 passenger trips in the last year. Public transit opened in 2010 under a contract partnership between Schuyler County and The Arc of Schuyler, a not-for-profit organization serving people with developmental disabilities.

“With 30 years of experience training drivers, providing specialized transportation service, and maintaining a fleet of vehicles, The Arc was a clear choice for partnership,” said Schuyler County Administrator Tim O’Hearn.

Public transit launched in August 2010 with a fixed-route service to the villages of Burdett, Montour Falls, Odessa and Watkins Glen as well as a Dial-A-Ride service.

“The transit service is an important asset to Schuyler County. Senior citizens and many others need transportation to supports at the Human Services Complex in Montour Falls, the hospital, health care facilities, shopping, and more. This is an economical mode of transportation that is essential for our residents,” said Montour Falls Mayor John King.

The system made modifications over the years for rider convenience, installing bus shelters, adding stops, and adjusting the route to accommodate frequent riders, including people with disabilities and seniors. Said Tamre Waite, Schuyler County Office for the Aging Director and a member of the Coordinated Transportation Committee, “The public transit system is a safe, reliable and affordable means of getting to and from destinations. It is a great alternative when one must make that difficult decision to give up the car keys and allow someone else to transport them.”

Beth DeCaro, Property Manager for Jefferson Village Apartments in Watkins Glen, agreed and added: “Schuyler County Transit has allowed our tenants to maintain their independence for a longer period of time.”

In February 2014, the system opened additional routes to rural areas of the county, transporting riders from Bennetsburg, Hector, Reynoldsville and Valois to stops in Watkins Glen. The Corning Connections route was introduced later that year and has been utilized by Corning Community College students and employees of Corning businesses. Schuyler County Transit has also been contracted to offer shuttle services for events such as the annual Seneca Lake Wine & Food event at Clute Park and the recent Phish festival at Watkins Glen International.

“This is a time when public transport has never been more important in supporting growth and job creation,” said Judy McKinney Cherry, Executive Director of the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development (SCOPED). “For communities that can attract the right talent, the resulting wealth can be spread out across the economy. This is a win-win since there is a $4 economic return to a community for every $1 invested in public transportation.”

Speakers at the event included: O’Hearn; Waite; Jeannette Frank, Executive Director of The Arc of Schuyler; John Reel, NYS Department of Transportation; Dennis Fagan, Chairman of Schuyler County Legislature; representatives from the offices of Congressman Tom Reed and Senator Tom O’Mara; and frequent rider Debbie Ball of Watkins Glen.

“Schuyler County Transit has demonstrated an ability to serve riders and maximize existing transportation systems to benefit the whole community,” Frank said. “Public transit is a symbol of a community that is working together, and that’s what we’re celebrating.”

Photos in text:

Top: Schuyler County Administrator Tim O’Hearn enjoys a celebratory cupcake with Schuyler County Legislature Chairman Dennis Fagan looking on.

Bottom: Schuyler County transit rider Deb Ball, who spoke about the importance of public transportation for people who do not or cannot drive. (Photos provided)

"It's Kitten Season"

A Humane Society message

The following article was provided by the Humane Society of Schuyler County.

So, here in Schuyler County (at least at the Humane Society) we don't have four seasons. We have six! Winter, spring, kitten season, summer, kitten season and fall. And, the Humane Society of Schuyler County is swimming with kittens (and adult cats) needing homes. Cute comes in all colors, shapes and sizes. We've got 'em all. All of our kittens are sterilized, fully vaccinated, treated for internal and external parasites, tested for feline leukemia and have received any other necessary veterinary care. The adoption fee is only $75! A bargain!

Unfortunately, we get calls every day asking us to take in unwanted litters of kittens and are pedaling as fast as we can to make space for all the requests. We're doing everything we can, but the most effective way to prevent this situation is early spay or neuter.

We've been providing low-cost spay/neuter clinics for income eligible residents of Schuyler County for 15 years and have sterilized over 11,000 cats. But, it only takes two to tango, as they say. Kittens can become pregnant at only 4 months old and have as many as three litters a year. The resulting math is pretty simple ... too many kittens and not enough homes. A cat can be spayed or neutered as young as 3 months of age. Sterilization will prevent unwanted litters of kittens, reduce male/female aggression and fighting, and can also significantly reduce the risk of certain types of cancers.

If you'd like more information about our spay/neuter program for owned, stray and feral cats, please contact us at 607-594-2255 and leave a detailed message. We'll call you back to schedule an appointment.

Here's a good video to watch about the importance of spay/neuter:

If you already have a litter of kittens that need your care, check out this great video, loaded with tips on raising kittens:

The Humane Society of Schuyler County is a not-for-profit 501 c3 corporation dedicated to advancing animal welfare in Schuyler County. For additional information please call 607-594-2255 or visit

Exchange students enjoy farewell weekend

WATKINS GLEN, June 18, 2015 -- The Watkins-Montour Rotary Club – along with the Corning, Elmira, Elmira Heights, Chemung Sunrise, and Horseheads Rotary Clubs – recently hosted 16 Youth Exchange students from District 7120.

Each year, monthly get-togethers are scheduled for the Exchange students in the district. The June weekend is emotional for the students, as it is the final time they are together as a group before heading back to their home countries after a full year in the U.S.

While the students stayed at Watkins Glen High School the weekend of June 11-14, they enjoyed activities in Elmira and Corning as well as in Watkins Glen.

On Friday, June 12, the international students visited the Corning Museum of Glass and the Rockwell Museum, plus shopped on Market Street and enjoyed an evening outdoors at Harris Hill.

On Saturday, June 13, the students were treated to a ride on Captain Bill’s Stroller IV on Seneca Lake, Thunder Road Tours at Watkins Glen International, a picnic at Watkins Glen State Park, and the Montour Falls Firemen's Festival Parade.

Sunday, June 14 featured a farewell picnic at the Big Flats American Legion.

Students represented countries including Japan, Thailand, India, Australia, Switzerland, France, Germany, Hungary, Spain, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, Belgium, Finland and the Netherlands.

Photos in text: Exchange students at the Seneca Harbor pier (top) and at the Watkins Glen International racetrack. (Photos provided)

The roadway on Bailey Hill in the Town of Tyrone was covered with mud after the storm. The Lamoka and Waneta Lake Roads had similar results. (Photo by Emily Grimmke)

Some scenes from the flood

SCHUYLER COUNTY, June 15, 2015 -- The rains passed, and the flooding receded in many areas of Schuyler County Monday, but damage was left behind.

Some roads were washed out or damaged, basements were still flooded, and the water on the lakes was up, carrying debris.

The photos here -- showing aspects of the flood and the damage -- were provided to The Odessa File by readers.

Photo in text: The Harley Davidson business at Alpine Junction was flooded. (Photo provided)

Left: Water rushing along an intersection above Watkins Glen. (Photo by Kevin LeRoux)
Right: Floodwaters chewed away at the road on Bailey Hill in the Town of Tyrone. (Photo by Emily Grimmke)

Swan Hill Road near Alpine was covered with water
after the storm passed through. (Photo provided)

Franklin Street in Watkins Glen was flooded at its northern end, below the curve into downtown. (Photo by Kevin LeRoux)

Monday cleanup included shoveling mud and gravel from the Valero gas station lot,
and then hosing it down thoroughly.

Various roads like this one, the turnoff above Watkins Glen leading to Tyrone,
were closed Monday for repairs by road crews.

Left: Meghan Coates as Pippin's grandmother, Berthe, sings. Right: Joseph Raymond, right, as Charlemagne, addresses Lewis (Justin Hickey) and Fastrada (Dana Roberts).

'Pippin' ends its run at O-M

ODESSA, March 14, 2015 -- The Odessa-Montour High School spring musical, "Pippin," ended its three-day run with matinee and evening shows Saturday in the school's Fetter-Brown Auditorium.

Twenty-five senior high school students worked with director Kim Laursen and choreographer Manley Gavich to prepare the show.

Its story is based loosely on the reign of one of France's greatest kings, Charlemagne, played by Joseph Raymond. His eldest son and heir to the throne, Pippin (Logan Barrett on Thursday and Saturday nights, and John Coates on Friday night and Saturday afternoon), spends the duration of the play trying to find his higher purpose in life, his "Corner of the Sky." His stepmother Fastrada (Cheyenne Barrett, Dana Roberts) does everything she can to get her son Lewis (Justin Hickey) to be next in line to the throne.

In Pippin's search for something extraordinary, he is helped every step of the way by the Leading Player (Manley Gavich, Emma Raymond), and also by his dear grandmother Berthe (Bronwyn Stermer, Maggie Coates).

After trying his hand at being a warrior, a partyer, a politico and a temporary king, Pippin almost gives up. A beautiful widow with a large estate to run and a son (Theo, played by Ben Campbell) is Pippin's next attempt to find something extraordinary. Is Catherine (Rosie Peckham, Sarah Norton) the answer to his dilemma?

For Director Laursen, this was the last show she will direct at O-M before retiring in July.

"Pippin" is presented with special permission from Music Theatre International of New York, NY.

Photos in text: Pippin (John Coates) addresses a rally with the character known as the Leading Player (Emma Raymond) at his side; a dance sequence in Act One.

Thursday night photos:

Cast members Rosemary Peckham (left) and Bronwyn Stermer.

Cheyenne Barrett and Justin Hickey in a musical number from "Pippin."

Left: Joseph Raymond as Charlemagne. Right: Emma Raymond.

Left: Nina Linton in a dance number. Right: Logan Barrett as the title character, Pippin.

On the Waterfront

This was the scene one pleasant day in Clute Park, along the southern shore of Seneca Lake.

The Indian of the Lake

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

It was in the possession of an official there.

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

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

Check out the feature below


Chased by a madman

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


© The Odessa File 2012
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869