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HDC News 2012

Updates - 2012

March 2012
By Ron Dukarm

         The past month has been a very busy one at the Heritage Discovery Center. We hosted a conference and training session for the Lackawanna Teachers Association. We also conducted a tour for the Rosewood Nursing Home residents, many of whom were former railroaders and steel workers. Board meetings were also held by our own WNYRHS, plus we also hosted the Steel Plant Museum meetings and the Lighthouse Association meetings. In addition, we hosted a meeting of the East Aurora Town Planning Board.

         We have been quite active with three Scouting groups. We submitted a proposal to have an Eagle Scout troop paint and weed our fence line along Lee Street. We have another group planning to work on our BR&P caboose when it arrives from Texas. And we have a Cub Scout troop looking at painting our fence along Area E.

         Work parties have been extremely busy over the last two months, averaging three days a week. All the walls in the public areas on the first floor have been painted, and there were quite a few walls. We installed two new glass doors into our food service area and opened a 10-foot archway into the meeting room so we can have banquet service. We started painting and cleaning our new Library on the second floor. Soon we will add shelving and bring in all the books and photos which are now scattered in about a dozen places. We removed 100 lockers from the men's locker room and opened that room up to storage. The flag pole has been made operational and we now fly the flag when the building is open.

         We had eleven volunteers show up for Saturday's work party! We were able to substantially complete most of the work in the Meeting Room and our serving bar has been completely refinished by Carl Ambuske and is an excellent addition to our food service area. All the painting was completed and Joe Kocsis finished replacing the missing floor tiles.

         Carl Ambuske is completely refinishing our wooden bar. He fabricated shelves to place inside and added new trim. Paint and wood finishing is also to be applied along with decorative trim. The bar will be a great addition to our Bar Room.

         Barb Owens washed all the windows and cleaned the restrooms. Bob Snyder did a room full of trim work. Steve Kocsis removed all the tinting from our new double doors in the Bar Room.

         Jerry Bower finished the trim work and removed all the painting tape. Frank Klaskov and his crew moved some heavy lockers from 100 Lee St to the Hospital Building storage area. In addition other furniture was moved upstairs to storage and the Meeting Rm set up. A CSX derailment outside our property line on Thursday added some excitement to the day. A broken rail was latter to be found the cause.

Updates - 5/2012

By Ron Dukarm

         Progress at the Heritage Discovery Center is moving forward on many fronts. Our sincere appreciation to all our hard-working volunteers who have put in hundreds of hours over the past two months. We have work parties three days a week, Saturday being regularly scheduled at 11am. Activities for the past two months are as follows:

LIBRARY - The establishment of a library has been a goal of the Society for the past 30 years. We now have a 600 sq ft room on the second floor that is being set up to house the large collection of books and reference materials in the Society's possession. The WNYRHS was donated over 600 linear feet of professional library shelving and a portion of it will be used in our new library. We also have worktables, filing cabinets, microfilm readers and an office for our librarian in our new quarters. A new librarian, Kara Cavaretta, with a Masters in Library Science, has volunteered to get us started. We are now bringing in books, magazines and other reference materials from the numerous storage sites where this material has been stored over the years. Also part of the library is a map room where we will house and display the hundreds of maps in the Society's collection. As soon as we categorize the materials and get them on the shelves, we can make them available for research.

DONATIONS - Every week, without fail, new donations are received at the HDC. In the past two months, the following articles have come through the door: construction wheel barrel from Jim Long; numerous signs, signal lamp, insulators, oil can and bulletin board from Dale and Eve Madison; trunk full of RR manuals from Bill Wiemer; six blueprints of DL&W East Buffalo Yard from Bob Bahrs; a 6ft x 10ft aerial photo of Buffalo from Mike Petrocarlo; wheel barrel from Jerry Bower; 15 gallons of paint, signs and painting supplies from Ron Dukarm; several large RR wall maps from David Young; a NS wall calendar from Frank Klaskov; 2,500 RR slides from Ed Hallborn. Our thanks for all these great donations.

PUBLICITY - The Steel Plant Museum created a new brochure for the HDC and received a grant of $2,500 for Strategic Planning. On April 11 a Buffalo Spree Magazine reporter took photos for an upcoming article. Joe Kocsis addressed a waterfront planning committee on May 21st. We hosted the annual meeting of the Erie County Historical Federation on May 16th, including a luncheon served up by Leslie Kocsis. Members of all the small historical societies in Erie County attended, giving us great exposure. On May 14th Kevin O'Neill of Channel 2 interviewed Joe Kocsis and Don Owens and had on nice segment on Channel 2 TV and their website. We were in the Buffalo News on May 25th with the announcement that the WNYRHS was awarded a $6,500 grant to host an Industrial Heritage Festival in September. That same day, members of the SPM appeared on the Weather Outside with Mike Randall promoting the HDC.

WORK ACCOMPLISHED - Grass cutting, trimming and debris removal are constant maintenance chores, and our thanks to Nestor Arauz who has almost single-handedly kept up the grounds. Our picnic tables have been repaired by Frank Klaskov and painted by Nestor and are now in use for lunches and cookouts. As mentioned above, the Library is really taking shape. Thanks to Barb Owens, over a hundred pieces of shelving has been cleaned and assembled by Frank Klaskov. The store area has been painted, along with two offices next to the display area.

Art Toale brought in a model RR layout that was donated and set it up in the store area. Niagara Mohawk put in a new electric meter and the Buffalo Water Authority put in a new 1-inch line, replacing a 3-inch line, which will greatly reduce our water bills. We purchased new 8-foot folding tables for banquets and training sessions. These will also be used for public meetings. A new tool room was set up next to the men's room. The back hallways were painted and new signs posted. We moved the Roll of Honor Board from Orchard Park and this will be mounted in the meeting room, giving it greater public exposure.

OTHER ITEMS OF INTEREST - Norfolk Southern has completed track repairs in Lee Street for their lead into PVS Chemical Co. You can now come to the HDC over Elk Street. On May 19th Business First announced a major development project for RiverBend, the old Republic Steel property, immediately adjacent to HDC. The 41-acre site is planned to house numerous businesses and a hotel, creating over 1,000 jobs. The South Park Avenue Bridge was repaved and the Smith Street corner improved with new signals and sidewalks. Ontario Specialty Contracting continues to work on our Area A property and the Army Corps of Engineers continues work on the Buffalo River. They project swimming and fishing in five years. The English Pork Pie Company just moved in down the South Park and is doing a thriving business. .

ITEMS NEEDED - We are still in need of power tools, hand tools, gardening tools, a riding lawn mower and floor fans. Of course, we can always use funds to buy gas, painting supplies, cleaning materials and various other needed items. A hardy Thanks go out to all who have donated toward the Center.

Updates - 7/2012

By Ron Dukarm

         Visible signs of progress at the Heritage Discovery Center are really taking shape outside our buildings. Again, our sincere appreciation to all our hard-working volunteers who have put in hundreds of hours this year. We have work parties three days a week, Saturday being regularly scheduled at 11am. As hot as it has been this summer, the work accomplished this July has been awesome!

ROLL OF HONOR - Frank hung the board in the Meeting Room.

FENCE POSTS - Rick dug them out and then sawed them off so the back grass along the parking lot looks much better.

SIDEWALK EDGING - The sidewalk by the archive room was edged and swept.

AREA "E" FENCE - Nestor weedwacked and cut grass along this fence line. Debris was also picked up.

FESTIVAL MEETING - A meeting was held with SPM and Casimiro Rodriguez, representing the Hispanic Heritage Council.

SWEEPING - Weeds were removed from the fence by the railroad tracks by the Icehouse and the driveway swept. We also swept up all the glass, stone and brick along the Icehouse along Lee Street. The area looks lived in.

CROSSBUCKS - Last week these were painted and Saturday Carl Ambuske purchased and applied reflective stips in accordance with DOT regulations. The posts look new and will be safer with the strips.

FLAG MOUNTING - The SPM staff mounted a flag holder on the telephone pole in front of the building. We now fly an "OPEN" flag during our open days and this should alert the public.

FIRE HYDRANT HOUSING - Repairs were made to the red shed housing the fire hydrant.

DONATIONS - Ken Kraemer donated several portable railroad radios and miscellaneous related material. Jim Long donated a practically new riding lawnmower, a new drill press, a jack to raise the lawnmower, several railroad books and two electrical extension cords. Thank you very much Ken and Jim!

RAILWAY PASSENGER CAR ALLIANCE - We hosted the annual board meeting of the RPCA. 25 people from all over the country met all day at the HDC. Next year we are hosting their national convention and Board members wanted to get familiar with our accommodations.

We have a lot of outside work to do, especially painting. The Industrial Festival is only 9 weeks away, so please try to come out for a few hours as we need to spruce things up. I'm usually there Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11am, but check with me if you're coming.

Updates - 9/2012

By Ron Dukarm

         With the great weather we have enjoyed a great deal of outside work has been accomplished. We have regularly scheduled Saturday workparties starting at 11am, and are there most Tuesdays and Thursdays. We've had quite a few activities over the past two months as follows:

CABOOSE DELIVERY - Our BR&P bobber caboose from Texas arrived on Saturday, July 28. The trip was uneventful and we had it unloaded in less than 2 hours. It was placed in the parking lot along Lee Street. We believe the caboose was built in the late 1880's. We will start to scrape it and finish painting by the end of August. We also need to build a set of stairs for it for the Industrial Heritage Festival. We need folks to work this project.

DONATIONS - We received a number of donations over the past 2 months. Jim Long donated an urgently needed riding lawn mower, along with a jack for it, a new drill press, 2 extension cords and several railroad books. Ken Kraemer donated several railroad radio sets and a set of manuals; Carl Ambuske donated 4 gallons of weed killer, paint, reflective tape and a backwash valve; Barb & Don Owens donated a refrigerator and stove; Bob Snyder donated a number of railroad videos for the library; Ron Dukarm donated paint, 2 cycle oil, brushes, rollers, and weedwacker line.

PUBLIC ACTIVITIES - We hosted the national Board of Directors meeting of the Railway Passenger Car Alliance on July 14, as 25 members from all over the country attended. We hosted a group of Hard Hat bus tours on June 15, presenting a program and giving tours of the museum. On June 12 we welcomed 20 residents of the Hamburg Nursing home. The Steel Plant Museum is starting a lecture series at the HDC , called First Wednesdays. On Wednesday, August 1st the first lecture is on the steel plant and related labor organizations. It starts at 7pm and all are invited.

STREETSCAPE PROJECT - Lee Street has a new look! The City repaved the street and NS put in new rail at the crossing. Our workers have weedwacked along Area C and E fence lines, swept all the sidewalks, painted fire hydrants, removed weeds and dirt from the curb line, painted the railroad cross buck posts and added reflective tape, painted doors on the icehouse, and edged sidewalks in front of the building. And of course the constant grass cutting. We still have fence painting to do.

THINGS NEEDED - We still are in need of a self-propelled, push lawn mower, various garden tools and small hand tools. Power tools needed - circular saw, sawsall, sander, hedge trimmer and weedwacker. And we are always in need of more volunteers for work parties and meeting/greeting at the museum.

EAGLE SCOUT PROJECT - Over two weekends in June, over 25 members and friends of Scout Troop 107 attacked our fence line along Lee Street by the parking lot. Eagle Scout Collin Augustyn and his father Paul led the charge and brought their own tools to do the work. They secured numerous donations of material. The entire fence was painted, the garden was weeded and new mulch put down. Trees and bushes were pruned. The curb was cleaned and the sidewalks swept. The entire area looks just great. Our thanks to Collin, Paul and Troop 107.

OTHER ITEMS OF INTEREST - The City Water Department changed out our meter from a 3 inch feed to a 1 inch line. This will greatly reduce our water bills. A new “OPEN” flag now waves on the post outside, thanks to efforts of the Steel Plant Museum. Frank Klaskov mounted our Roll of Honor Board in the meeting room for all to see. The Board was formally at the Orchard Park Depot. Frank also mounted the huge city picture in the Lobby area. More shelving units have been added to the library upstairs. Stray fence posts in the back lawn have been cut down and removed. Our picnic benches had some broken benches replaced.

Updates - 10/2012

By Ron Dukarm

         As the weather changed from late September into October so did our efforts and activites. We still had regularly scheduled Saturday workparties starting at 11am, and we were there most Tuesdays and Thursdays. We've had a few activities over the past two months as follows:

B.R.&P. CABOOSE - Work on the caboose continued all summer under the leadership of Chairman Carl Ambuske. The caboose was thoroughly sanded and most of the exterior has received a primer coat of paint. Carl has donated all the materials for the restoration. When the cupola is completed (on the ground), it will be lifted, using our new crane, and put in place on the roof. Our thanks to Carl for his generous donations.

HEAVY EQUIPMENT - The HDC has recently acquired two pieces of heavy equipment which will greatly make our work projects easier. Bob Moffett of Colgate Industries has donated a 7.5-ton Grove Deck Crane. This self-propelled crane is extremely mobile and will help us with numerous projects, from moving rail to replacing the cupola on our caboose. We also were donated the use of a front-end loader/backhoe by Mike Pietrocarlo.
We already used it to remove a downed tree and to grade our back lawn area. Thank you Bob and Mike!

DONATIONS - Over the past two months the HDC has received many generous donations. Our sincere thanks to everyone below, especially Jim Long.
Don Boyd - A 10-foot wooden conference table and a desk credenza.
Bob Snyder - Nine railroad video tapes.
Roy Wullich - Grass cutter, leaf blower, sander, weedwacker, ladder, extension cords, 3 hoses, and numerous garden tools.
Carl Ambuske - Several gallons of paint and sandpaper.
James Ryan - A boxful of NYC paperwork - news clips, booklets, calendars, etc.
Ron Dukarm - 8 gallons of paint, brushes, rollers, work gloves, eye protection, 7 lawn chairs, a work bench, 16 fence stakes, various signs, drinking water, etc.

Jim Long - Jim asked us for a list of what we needed and he then filled every item on our list! We received: A riding lawn mower, a push lawn mower, a weedwacker, circular saw, drill press, several electric hand drills, a sander, 2 tape measures, gloves, eye protection, extension cords, 2 crow bars, 2 hammers, and two each of the following garden tools: coal shovel, digging shovel, square shovel, leaf rake, dirt rake, sweeping broom, push broom, and a spade.

We now have most of the tools we need. Our greatest need is now for cash to purchase paint, cleaners, weedwacker wire and other expendable supplies.

UNIVERSITY OF BUFFALO PROJECT - The WNYRHS and the University of Buffalo are cooperating on a project for both organizations. The UB School of Architecture visited the HDC in early September with 56 students and professors to hear an orientation talk from Ed Patton, who is heading up the project. The property was toured and the students were introduced to all the aspects of the HDC. It is our goal to have UB produce a study of potential development opportunities taking into account economic, environmental and tourism factors. The HDC will be the main object of study for two semesters with the final report and design concepts to be produced next May..

LANDSCAPE & GROUNDS - Much work has been done during August and September in preparation for the Heritage Festival. The Pumphouse and Guardhouse were both painted, as was the remaining fence around the parking lot. All bumper posts on the property were painted yellow and all fire pipes on buildings were painted red, as were all the fire hydrants on Lee Street. Several acres of grass were cut for the first time in Area E with our new
riding lawn mower, thanks to Jim Long. The entire parking lot was swept and all weeds removed. A downed tree was removed from our back lawn with our backhoe. The “For Rent” sign on the roof of the building was taken down and the back gate was removed. Many thanks to all our volunteers who assisted in these projects.

HERITAGE FESTIVAL - Our thanks to the dozens of volunteers who assisted with the Heritage Festival on September 21-23. There was a tremendous amount of planning and work, including publicity, posting signs, assisting vendors, working Society tables and the beer tent, parking cars, erecting snow fence, cutting grass, providing security, etc. At the risk of overlooking someone, our sincere appreciation to: Nestor Arauz, Jerry Bower, Frank Klaskov, Al Olmstead, Don & Barb Owens, Joe & Leslie Kocsis, Ed & Cheryl Patton, Ron Dukarrm, Steve Kocsis, Caryl Younger, Carl Ambuske, George Specht, Pete Westphal, Paul Mayer, and all the good folks at the Steel Plant Museum and Lighthouse Association..

HISPANIC HERITAGE COUNCIL - We would like to acknowledge and thank Casimero D. Rodriguez Sr., President of the Hispanic Heritage Council., and his staff for all their assistance in planning and staffing the Heritage Festival. On Sunday of the Festival, Cas presented an informative program on the Hispanic experience in Western New York, tracing Hispanic influence and culture over the last 150 years. We look forward to working with Cas and his able staff on future projects.

ART SHOW - The Locust Street Art Group displayed a wide range of art in the hallways of the Don Owens Center. They held a special showing on Friday night and attracted a large number of patrons. Their show will remain on exhibit through the end of October. If you haven't been down to the Festival, plan on stopping in during October to see this interesting collection. The response to the show was overwhelming and we plan future shows with our good friends at Locust Street.
Their next show will feature a railroad theme. Our thanks to Molly Bethel, Ken Morgan, Annie Sturges and Liz VanVerth for an excellent show.

UP-COMING PROJECTS - Several major projects are on tap over the next several months as we start to implement our Wendt Foundation grant. Starting in October, as we go Green, solar panels will be added to the roof of the Don Owens Center with the expectation we will reduce our electric bill by 40%. We also plan to replace all light fixtures with high efficiency fixtures, further reducing our electric usage. A new restroom will be added to the second floor and the first floor women's room will receive another stall.

FESTIVAL SCENES - The City of Buffalo workers erected a portable stage that the City generously made available to us. Vince Matino, Joyride and the Frankfurters were the featured entertainers. Caryl Y. secured the exhibition of an operating steam engine, whose hissing and clunking added a heritage feel. One of the most interesting and attractive features of the festival was a belly-dancing exhibition in the Don Owens Center. The room was filled to capacity!

Contact Us: Orchard Park - 716-662-7002       Williamsville - 716-633-7002
WNYRHS Inc., PO Box 416, Buffalo, New York  14231-0416
All Donations to the Heritage Discovery Center are Tax-Deductable!

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