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Video: New culinary school opens in Niagara Falls

More than 200 students have begun classes at the Culinary Institute Niagara Falls, which opened last week to rave reviews from students in Niagara County Community College's culinary arts program.

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:

Ulrich continues to tout Canal Street for NCCC culinary institute

LOCKPORT -- Developer David L. Ulrich today continued making his pitch for Niagara County Community College to locate its planned culinary institute on Canal Street.

Ulrich called a press conference for late this morning to formally announce his attempt to lure NCCC's project, which has been planned for several sites, most recently the former Rainbow Centre mall in Niagara Falls.

Locating the culinary institute on the Canal Street block would be a "combination of two good ideas," he said, the college's institute and Lockport's refurbished block on the Erie Canal.

View Canal Street - Lockport in a larger map

7:49 p.m.: Here's the full audio of Ulrich's comments from today's event:

1:52 p.m.: Ulrich called the Canal Street block a "premiere venue" with historical appeal that would give the planned culinary institute a "unique identity."

Ulrich claims his proposal would save the college $5 million in construction fees, since there are already buildings on Canal Street.

He also said the Lockport site provides the opportunity for more of a "culinary campus" than a former mall site does.

Part of Ulrich's proposal calls for parking to be available in a city parking structure, with the city's shuttered ramp at Main and Pine streets either being rebuilt or refurbished.

The cost for the parking ramp project is about $5 million, and the city currently has no funding lined up to pay for it, said Mayor Michael W. Tucker.

The college has sent a representative to look at the Canal Street site, Ulrich said, and he hopes to set up a meeting to discuss the proposal with college officials.

The uniqueness of the site -- located adjacent to the Erie Canal in downtown Lockport -- would be a draw to the student population, according to Ulrich. That population is generally younger and would have a greater interest in a site with a unique identity, he said.

The Lockport site could be ready for the culinary institute in the fall of 2011, Ulrich claims, though Tucker said a new parking ramp could take from a year to 15 months to complete once the plans are finalized.

City officials are about to begin developing a budget for next year, Tucker said.

12:44 p.m.: Here's my story from last month when college officials revealed they received a letter from Ulrich touting the Lockport site.

Here's a previous post where you can see Ulrich's renderings of the project and audio clips from college officials.

Also, read Ulrich's letter to college President James Klyczek.

Check back later for more from today's press conference.

--Aaron Besecker

Audio and images: Lockport developer's proposal for NCCC culinary institute

One of three renderings Lockport developer David L. Ulrich sent to Niagara County Community College President James P. Klyczek for a proposal to locate the proposed culinary arts institute on Canal Street in Lockport.

With no deal yet in place for a proposed hospitality and tourism center in Niagara Falls, Lockport developer David L. Ulrich has thrown a Lockport site into the ring.

Click here to read the story from this morning's paper about the Ulrich's initial pitch to Niagara Community College for the Canal Street block.

6:48 p.m.: Read Ulrich's letter to the college.

Attached to the letter were three pages of renderings. Check out a rendering of the institute, along with a rendering of a site overview and parking.

Here's the site plan rendering.

5:32 p.m.: I spoke with NCCC President James P. Klyczek about Ulrich's proposal after Wednesday's board of trustees meeting. He said the Rainbow Centre mall site in Niagara Falls remains his "preferred" choice for a location. Take a listen to some of our conversation:

I also talked with Bonnie R. Gifford, chair of the college's board of trustees, who says she was impressed by Ulrich's proposal. Here's a clip from our chat:

--Aaron Besecker

Former Lew-Port board member out of legal options

Stepien scott mug A former Lewiston-Porter School Board member has run out of options in his legal battle that stemmed from being removed from the board three years ago.

A federal judge today dismissed an appeal from Scott A. Stepien, who claimed his constitutional rights were violated when he was was taken off the board for failing to complete a financial oversight course.

U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara tossed out the suit in an order issued after Scott A. Stepien failed to appear for arguments on Monday.

Stepien was appealing a decision issued in February by Magistrate Judge Hugh B. Scott, who ruled Stepien had failed to prove other board members and attorneys were acting outside their official roles when they removed him. Stepien was later reinstated to his board seat by the state Education Department.

Stepien objected to Scott's ruling in a March 22 letter to Arcara.

--Aaron Besecker

Public business around the county

For the civic minded, consider this a peek into what a few governments and boards plan to tackle this week:

Here's what North Tonawanda lawmakers have on their plates Tuesday night. They meet at 6:30 p.m. in City Hall, 216 Payne Ave.

At the other end of the county on Tuesday night, this is the Niagara County Legislature's agenda. The body meets at 7 p.m. in the County Courthouse in Lockport.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Niagara County Community College board of trustees will take up these items. They meet on the second floor of the administration building on the Sanborn campus.

--Aaron Besecker

NCCC explores link with China

Niagara County Community College and some Chinese universities may soon share an international bond.

Bassam M. Deeb, the college's vice president of student services, recently traveled to China with a delegation from colleges and universities in the State University of New York system.

Read a story from today's Buffalo News here.

Deeb also shared some of his own photos with The News.

Welcome ceremony at Beijing Language and Cultural University for web

Welcome ceremony at Beijing Language and Cultural University

Sichuan Agricultural University
Sichuan Agricultural University

SouthWest Petroleum University
Southwest Petroleum University

Confucious at China West Normal University web
Confucious monument at China West Normal University

Instructional Center - Beijing University web
Instructional Center at Beijing University

--Aaron Besecker

NT schools - odds & ends

School/city cooperation

North Tonawanda School Board member Michael P. Carney issued a challenge to city officials during Tuesday night's board of education meeting.

Carney, himself a former alderman, said he wants the Common Council and the administration of new Mayor Robert G. Ortt to sit down with school officials and "brainstorm" ways to save money.

"We've got to find ways to be more efficient and to work together," Carney said.

Board member Joanne Dal Porto volunteered for the second board liaison post when Superintendent Vincent J. Vecchiarella asked the board if someone else would also be interested.

Items stolen during phys ed

Board member Frank DiBernardo told the board he's received several calls from parents and students over the past few weeks about thefts during high school gym classes.

DiBernardo said the thefts have occurred from wallets and purses that have not been locked up -- which itself he acknowledged was not a wise decision.

Apparently when calls were made to school officials, parents were told that the school is not responsible if the items are not locked away.

"That's a canned message," he said, "and that's a message I wouldn't want to hear."

DiBernardo said the board has a responsibility to make sure the schools are safe.

Football stadium name

Carney also told the board he received a letter from several district residents who would like the school's current football stadium to take the name of the old stadium behind the former Lowry Middle School on Payne Avenue. That stadium is named after legendary coach George Vetter.

--Aaron Besecker

Talking ethics at Lew-Port

We published a story today on a proposed code of ethics for school board members at Lewiston-Porter.

Take a look at a draft of the guidelines here.

--Aaron Besecker

Radio call impacts Lew-Port contract talks

Lewiston-Porter School Superintendent R. Christopher Roser told the School Board on Monday night that a former board member's phone call into a local radio talk show on Sunday morning has affected ongoing contract negotiations with the district's teachers union.

Edward M. Lilly, who lost a re-election bid in May, called WBEN-930 AM during its "Hardline" show and spoke with Gov. David A. Paterson, who was a guest.

Listen to the audio from the show here (Lilly's call is taken at about the 32:35 mark).

Lilly made allegations against the district and the union, claiming the union had a "slush fund," inferring the union could spend the money as it wanted. Roser said the account is a health insurance reserve account controlled by the union, and it is a "misnomer" to call it a slush fund.

Rather, Roser said, "it's the money that's left over from prudent management of money."

The superintendent also described the phone call as "a setback" and "a disappointment."

--Aaron Besecker

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