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Grand opening today for Niagara Wine Trail's 13th winery

BURT -- Black Willow Winery, the 13th winery on the Niagara Wine Trail in Niagara County, celebrates its grand opening today.

The even runs from noon to 5 p.m., with wine tastings, hors d'oeuvres, and music by the Lakeside Jazz Trio. A ribbon cutting will take place at 12:30 p.m. 

Black Willow Winery is family owned and operated by Cindy West-Chamberlain and her husband, Michael D. Chamberlain, on 43 acres of land at 5565 West Lake Road. It is open from 10 a.m. to noon Monday to Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 439-1982.

Find out more about Black Willow Winery and its owners' plans to offer a variety of honey wines -- not available anywhere else in Niagara County -- in this story from Niagara Weekend.


Video: NT street signs to an ambient soundtrack

Here's something interesting I just found on YouTube. It's called "The Streets of North Tonawanda."

According to its creator, it shows all the street signs in the city in less than two minutes.

--Aaron Besecker

Ortt sets State of the City address

NORTH TONAWANDA -- Mayor Robert G. Ortt will deliver the State of the City address at 1 p.m. Feb. 9 in The Fairways at Deerwood restaurant, 1818 Sweeney St.

The presentation is open to the public, and will follow a noon luncheon.

Tickets for the luncheon, which is sponsored by the Rotary Club of the Tonawandas, are $12. For more information about the luncheon, call Rotary Club President Shawn Glogowski at 984-0109. Anyone wishing to attend the luncheon must RSVP by Feb. 2.

A copy of the speech will be available at the Common Council meeting at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 15 in City Hall, 216 Payne Ave.

This will be Ortt's second State of the City address since taking office at the start of 2010. To read a story about Ortt's first State of the City, click here.

--Aaron Besecker


Street-naming contest, concert stage on NT lawmakers' agenda

North Tonawanda lawmakers will discuss the latest with plans for a new, portable stage at Gateway Harbor Park when officials meet this week.

Here's the agenda for Tuesday night's workshop, as published by the office of City Clerk-Treasurer Scott P. Kiedrowski:

6:30PM Mayor Ortt - Re: Concert Stage for Gateway Harbor
7:00PM Mayor Ortt - Re: Buffalo Bolt/Cul-De-Sac/Street Naming Contest
7:15PM Common Council - Re: Traffic Safety Recommendations
7:30PM Common Council - Re: General Discussion

In December, Mayor Robert G. Ortt announced a naming contest for the new cul-de-sac in Buffalo Bolt Industrial Park.

The meeting, which is held in the city clerk-treasurer's office in City Hall, 216 Payne Ave., is open to the public.

--Aaron Besecker


Review online chat with State Sen. George Maziarz

Check out an archive of the live chat we had today on with State Sen. George Maziarz:

George Maziarz will chat live on Friday

Maziarzmug State Sen. George Maziarz has agreed to participate in a live online chat with readers at 12:30 p.m. on Friday.

Maziarz, a Republican lawmaker from Newfane, is the chairman of the Senate Energy Committee and a leading figure in Niagara County politics.

Those who would like to submit questions in advance should e-mail them to News Niagara Reporter Aaron Besecker at

Story of two other newspapers: one gets paid, one doesn't

You can tell that the political campaign season has started in Niagara Falls when candidates and potential candidates begin courting the news media.

The City Council this week unanimously tapped the Niagara Gazette as its official newspaper, but also unanimously adopted a resolution "recognizing the Niagara Falls Reporter as the weekly newspaper of the City Council."

The Gazette will continue to be used "for printing and/or publishing of all legal notices, public hearing notices and any other matters required by law or by the boards of the city."

That means the city will continue to pay the Gazette to post those notices.

The other vote was more a good-will gesture to a paper known to skewer politicians, Gazette reporters and others.

The Niagara Falls Reporter, a weekly newspaper whose motto is "to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable," is distributed free of charge at many businesses throughout the city.

The resolution recognizing the Reporter was sponsored by Council Chairman Sam Fruscione, who is considering a run against Mayor Paul A. Dyster -- a frequent target of the weekly -- in this year's election, and by Councilman Robert Anderson Jr., whose term expires at the end of this year.

As originally drafted, the resolution was to "designate" the Reporter as the Council's weekly newspaper to "publish information the City Council wishes the public to be informed about as well as any other matters the City Council wishes to be printed and/or published."

The word "designate" was changed to "recognize" after Corporation Counsel Craig H. Johnson pointed out that the resolution "merely recognizes the newspaper. It does not become the official newspaper for legal notices or other required publications."

The measure also recognizes "the 10 continuous years of publication of the Niagara Falls Reporter."

The Buffalo News marks 131 years of continuous publication this year -- not that we're
feeling left out, or anything...

--Richard E. Baldwin