Confessions of a Bear’s Den Junkie (by Craig Avery)


When you think about going to a Vegas style show for an evening of entertainment, the vision of a guy dressed in a dragon costume holding a chihuahua isn’t the first thing that pops into your mind. With show tickets in hand, I’m thinking of Cher on a swing singing “Believe” or Paul McCartney describing strawberry fields.  But last night it was the great venue of the Bear’s Den in the Seneca Niagara Casino that got top honors when Piff the Magic Dragon took the stage. Having never seen this nationally recognized comedian/magician I was comforted by what seemed to be over half the crowd who had seen him before.  One couple I met drove from Jamestown, NY to spend the night just for a chance to see the Dragon once again.  They had been to his show in Las Vegas, and the woman got to hold his dog for a half-hour. (So she’s got that going for her!)  His opening act featured a Monty Python type assistant who perked the interest of those like me waiting to be roasted by the Dragon.  I was sitting in the absolute last row of the theatre in the seat closest to the back of the stage, yet I felt as though I was front and center.  I’m telling you, each time I go to that place I am more and more impressed that it is here for us to take advantage of.  The seats are comfortable, the sound is great, and even the ushers talk to you and seem to care about your level of enjoyment with the evening.  So the dragon was a funny kind of guy, did some pretty cool card tricks and kept his dog under control. I was waiting for a great magic trick, but even with the upclose venue of the Bear’s Den, if he had tried to cut the dog in half, you couldn’t have seen it cause he was so small.  Dragon fans flocked to the photo-op after the show, and bought t-shirts and decks of dragon cards. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and had plenty of time to take advantage of the remainder of a cold, cold, night within the confines of the Seneca Niagara Casino.

Next up for the Bear’s Den?  Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, a phenomenal Springsteen-esque band that will bring the house down.  That’s on St. Patty’s day, so plan your day accordingly.  Then Dan Hill on March 25, followed by the fabulous Scintas on April 1.  You’ve got to take advantage of some great entertainment in your own backyard. Go to for ticket information.  

IMG_2544Dragon helper selling the goods!

2017 Action Plan – Next Level Participation [by Seth Piccirillo]

nf community development

Niagara Falls residents and the Community Development Department team worked together to build the 2017 Community Development Action Plan over the past 4 months. We thank our residents for being part of our 10 public meetings throughout the 16 week public input period and responding to citizen surveys, setting valuable priorities.

Our Community Development Department understands that the citizens who live, work, and play in our city are the true experts on the needs of our neighborhoods. When we increase citizen participation in our annual plans, our plans get stronger. As a result, we are presenting a budget that leverages $2.8 million in United States Department of Housing and Urban Development funds into a $4.9 million action plan focused on neighborhood investment. Our priorities are clear: continue the positive trends of home owner renovations, first time home buyer grants, investments in parks and public spaces, Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) and programs that provide activities for our young people.

We are also taking community decision making to the next level with our 2017 Action Plan. For the first time, the proposal includes participatory budgeting (PB): the democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. PB invites taxpayers to work with government to make the budget decisions that affect their lives. This year’s focus will be towards advancing investment in our city’s parks. We will look at the remaining public park improvement recommendations made in the 2012 Parks Master Plan as the starting point. From there, residents brainstorm spending ideas develop proposals based on these ideas, vote on proposals, and the government implements the top projects. Traditionally, governments ask people to come to them, especially when it comes to giving opinions or raising concerns. Echo chambers can form as a result, where only a few voices are heard. We can do better than that.

With PB, we will go directly to the neighborhoods for ideas and project votes, bringing the process to you, and engaging new people in the conversation. We will use technology as a way to make better links and to show our youngest residents that government can speak their language. Time and again we are reminded that our best projects and initiatives start with the public’s ideas not ours. PB is our way of taking that community partnership and trust to the next level.

We invite the public to review the draft 2017 Action Plan at the Carnegie Building (1022 Main Street), both public libraries, online at and to email any questions to We are grateful to Mayor Dyster, City Administrator Melson and the Niagara Falls City Council for participating in this process. As always, our team is most thankful for the privilege of working together with the Niagara Falls community, every day.

[Seth Piccirillo is the Director of Niagara Falls Community Development and a lifelong resident of Niagara Falls]

Casino comedy night – another great area attraction (by Craig Avery)


Why do Bears Hibernate? So they can hang out at the Bear’s Den Showroom in the Seneca Niagara Casino and laugh their bear butts off. Last night was no exception as Noah Gardenswartz and Dustin Ybarra took headliner status and made our night alright with the third monthly “Barrel of Laughs Comedy Night” at the casino’s most up close and personal venue. The only thing funnier than the show was me trying to spell these guys’ names for this review.

The show opened with 97 Rock’s hilarious Rob Lieberman who serves as host. He is so good at ad-libbing and making the audience comfortable and on edge at the same time.

Rob introduced Noah Gardenswartz to start the evening. I remembered that this guy had his own show on Comedy Central last year. So he’s got that going for him. Tall and commanding, you just had to listen to him and his unique observations on life. Anybody who can make you laugh while describing the life and times of Pat Sajak, has got to have some talent.

Then came Dustin Ybarra, one of those guys you’ve seen before, but never knew his name. He was a member of the huge and crazy cast in the movie Ted 2 (he played Borg,) you’ve seen him on TV in the Goldbergs, Gotham, and in the movie “We Bought a Zoo.” And now, right here in Niagara Falls, not 25 feet away from an autograph opportunity. He started out by saying he saw an old guy at the “Titanic” slot machine, crying. When he asked the man what was wrong, he answered, “I knew these people!” Ybarra has tremendous energy and had the crowd belly-aching about fast food drive thru’s and memoirs of his first suppository.

So once again, I appeal to you, you’re sick of the weather? Tired of your home honey-do list? Need to get out? Check out the entertainment schedule at the Seneca Niagara Casino, and particularly the Bear’s Den Showroom. You’ll be as close to the action as you can get to top entertainment in Western New York. If you were in Buffalo after a show, you’d have to bundle up and head to your $25 parking space. But at the Seneca Niagara Casino you simply walk around for fine dining, drinks, live entertainment, and perhaps a little gambling. Don’t forget Tim Horton’s and Cold Stone Creamery are just down the hall as well. Yumm!

Till next show, see ya around.


Noah Gardenswartz


Dustin Ybarra


Rob Lieberman

Bixler named HR director at Niagara Falls Memorial

Bixler, JacquelynJacquelyn P. Bixler has been appointed Director of Human Resources at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center.

Bixler, who has extensive human resources experience in the healthcare field, was most recently Vice President of Human Resources for the BryLin Behavioral Health System, where she managed labor relations, recruitment, employee compensation and employee health.

Prior to BryLin, Bixler served as Vice President of Human Resources at Lockport Memorial Hospital, United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia and the Weinberg Campus, Getzville. She is a former Human Resources Director at American Sigma in Medina and was a longtime Assistant VP of Human Resources at the former First Niagara Bank.

A graduate and former board member of Leadership Niagara, she is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management and the Medina Rotary.


The Hospitality Hub: Hot Toddies [by Jonathon Boas]


Nothing warms your soul more on a frigid winter night than a hot cocktail on the couch in front of a roaring fire. Just some simple ingredients and a few lively spirits to give a new meaning to movie night!

It’s as easy as your favorite hot beverage such as coffee, tea, cocoa, or cider combined with your go to libations and then the combinations are limitless.

Let’s start with:


Pre-heat a glass footed mug, or use your favorite mug to build this one.

Drop a sugar cube in the bottom and fill to 2/3 with hot black coffee. Pour in 11/2-2oz of a good Irish Whiskey like Jameson’s or Bushmills, stir and float fresh whipped crème with a drizzle of green crème de menthe on top. Add a cherry and a sip stick garnish. For some additional spice add Kahlua or Baileys.


Make Hot Chocolate!! Fill a pre-heated mug 2/3 full, add 11/2 – 2oz Rumplemintz, (careful, it’s 100 proof!), Peppermint or Spearmint schnapps, or Vandermint. Top with fresh whipped crème, drizzle green menthe, chocolate shavings and a candy cane, or a sprig of fresh mint garnish.


Heat Cider and mulling spices in a crock pot on low till it’s steaming hot. Fill a pre-heated mug to 2/3 full, add 11/2 – 2oz of Spiced Rum, Calvados, Brandy, or another spirit Like Crown Apple or Jim Beam Black Stag, garnish with a cinnamon stick and a sprinkle of Allspice.


Your favorite Hot Tea with honey and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, Add a quality Gin or Vodka like Bombay Sapphire or Double Cross garnish with a lemon twist.

Your throat has never felt better! Enjoy!

Jonathan Boas
Niagara Falls International School of Mixology

Hospitality – The friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors or strangers, providing food, drink and accommodation. It also involves entertainment, fitness and leisure.

Jonathan Boas is a Restaurant Consultant who specializes in Start-up, Renovations, Restorations, and Operations. He can be contacted at –

Against the “Lodge” on Goat Island [Letter to Editor by Ken Cosentino]

[Letter to Editor]

I believe now would be a good time to organize the events of the past month or so, because moving further we will all need to stay on the same page. The Niagarians are at war with a much larger entity, a chimera of sorts. This monster has the head of New York State, the limbs of Empire State Development, and the body of Delaware North. This ugly beast has stolen our birthright and bled our city dry. We are not willing to die, we will not go gentle into that good night. As our flickering flame has diminished to all but extinction, we have decided to rise up and slay this beast.

On January 20th, I stood in the city council chambers, packed full of people, and listened to the governor’s representative Sam Hoyt as he outlined an RFP for Goat Island. I made it a point to be there, having only heard about this presentation the day before. To my knowledge, it was not publicized in any newspapers, and there was no public announcement easily attainable by the masses. Most of the people in the room were state and city employees, and Mr. Hoyt was attempting to slip by with a proposal for a “lodge” on Goat Island. Something else that I’d only heard about the day prior. I knew this game; years ago, NYS did the same thing when they installed a railing on Three Sisters Island, destroying much of the natural beauty in the process of their “improvements”. That presentation was not publicized, even though it was “public” just like the one on January 20th, and since nobody showed up to oppose the destruction, they went ahead with it. Now we have to go back and fix the damage, and that’s much more difficult than nipping it in the bud.

So, on January 20th, I read my open letter to the governor in the presence of everyone in that room. Ken Hamilton sat next to me, and he was my only means of moral support. Adrenaline pumped through my veins as I tried to control my emotions. This is not a game to me. I have lived in Niagara Falls my entire life and so this is my life. Mr. Hoyt continued to try to sell me on the idea, calling the falls a “product that needs to be marketed”, yet men did not create the waterfall; we found it. It’s not a “product”, it’s a wonder of the natural world and we have to preserve it. Delaware North pumps money out of the state park, and as their business partner NYS receives half, or so I’ve heard. It’s hard to get any hard numbers when money is being funneled. After my discussion with Mr. Hoyt, in which I had to bite my tongue and maintain my composure, I started a petition against the “lodge” and further commercialization of Goat Island, with the purpose of redirecting the funds into the city where they are desperately needed. The petition was signed by over 600 people in less than a week, and that was with very little effort as to sharing it and getting signatures.

As I said, I’ve lived in this city my entire life. I have come from the very bottom, from nothing. I have made a name for myself in the film industry as an indie filmmaker who can stretch a dollar. I’ve worked on over 50 films, five of which I wrote and directed. I’ve been featured in SyFy’s magazine (with highlights on my hometown), quoted in GQ magazine for my work with The Asylum (with highlights on my hometown), and most recently my name was featured on the cover of the UK’s Scream Magazine (with a feature spread featuring highlights on my hometown). Yet I still struggle to survive in Niagara Falls, NY because livable wages in the city are few and far between. On top of that, I have to withstand being told to leave the city by an incompetent councilwoman who cannot stay off her cell phone during meetings. Yes, I am talking about Kristen Grandinetti, who told me to move when I told the people to unite and stand for ourselves. She was offended that I said we have corrupt politicians. Guilty, much? She showed her true colors on February 21st when she attempted to table the resolution to ban the “lodge”. Don’t worry, Kristen, your time on the council is nearing it’s end, you can count on it.

My initial opposition on January 20th sparked a movement that is still growing like wildfire. I saw it, February 21st, at that council meeting. I see council members like Ken Tompkins and Ezra Scott who are real people, who care about the quality of life in the city. Unlike Grandinetti, they are not so far removed from the reality here that they only stand up for a small minority and Governor Cuomo. They stand for the PEOPLE. That inspired me. Then we have our county legislators, namely Dennis Virtuoso and Jay Zona, who also stand for the PEOPLE. The resolution to ban the “lodge” was tabled by the county, but only because Virtuoso was lied to by Sam Hoyt. In Virtuoso’s own words, “I received a phone call from Sam Hoyt from Empire State Dev. around noon on Tuesday. He ask me to pull my Resolution I said no. He then told me that Goat island was off the table and they are coming in with several options for other locations. He also said there would be public meetings and input as to the proposals . I told him that as long as Goat Island is off the table as a location i would table the resolution not pull it in light of other locations. I did that because sometimes you just can’t trust people. Now he said that Goat Island will be part of several locations that will be proposed. So far for trusting the Government. Our resolution will be back on the agenda for our March meeting.I would like to see the same enthusiastic crowd of supporters that are opposed to this hideous proposal.”

Here we have the governor’s representative lying to a county legislator in order to get the resolution tabled. Why? Because they are afraid of us, the PEOPLE. They are afraid of what this resolution means. Grandinetti also received a message from a governor’s rep, and she tried to railroad the city resolution. Grandinetti is in Cuomo’s back pocket, and as much as she will say she loves the city and she will “chain herself to a tree”, her actions on February 21st showed her real motives.

This fight is far from over. Delaware North has hundreds of millions of dollars invested in our state park. I won’t even get into the blatant disregard for Olmsted’s agreement when turning over the reservation to the state; that’s all been discussed and you can learn more by doing a very minimal amount of research. Jeremy Jacobs owns Delaware North, and the Jacobs family is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) contributor to Governor Cuomo’s campaign. The Niagarians have been ignored, forgotten, and stepped on for too long. We know what’s up. We’re not stupid, and we’re not backing down. If it’s a fight they want, it’s a fight they’ll get. This is our home. We can take shifts, and go home at the end of the day, sleep in our own beds, eat a nice warm meal. We can watch each other’s backs. We can operate within the laws but expose the corruption within the system, by naming names, by digging up facts. I am an artist, not a politician. I have served my city through community service, activism, and by being a good samaritan. I spend my dollars locally as much as I possibly can. Most tourists do not venture into our community, and that’s the problem. So, Governor Cuomo wants to take the Niagara Falls portion of the Buffalo Billions and invest it in the STATE park, well that is just wrong. That is theft. That money is for economic development of the CITY of Niagara Falls, NY. That money BELONGS to the CITY of Niagara Falls, NY. Not to the state. Building up the park, stomping on Olmsted’s vision, and catering to tourists is not going to revitalize the city. It will do just the opposite.

When I started this movement, I thought it would be just me. Boy, was I wrong. Now that I know I have over 1,000 people (and growing) standing beside me, I know that they will fight as long as I fight. And I will fight to the bitter end because I am a Niagarian. We are not living here; we are surviving here. Governor Cuomo has woken the sleeping giant. He has heard the voice of the people, and he even stretched his sword from Albany to the phones of Dennis Virtuoso and Kristen Grandinetti. He will not declare war officially, but he has already done so with his actions. We the people have a voice, and the roar of the falls is one sound that cannot be silenced. Not by Jeremy Jacobs, not by Governor Cuomo or any of his local puppets. We have not yet begun to fight.

~Ken Cosentino

(The preceding article is a letter to editor sent to The content or opinion expressed within does not necessarily reflect the opinion or views of Readers are encouraged to submit articles and videos and expresses the right to approve or disapprove each submission. Each submission will be posted as is, so proofread and edit prior to submitting!)

Danielle DePalma announces candidacy for City Council

DePalma-photoDanielle DePalma

Local democrat and political newcomer looks to bring private sector solutions to city issues

Danielle DePalma, a political newcomer is pleased to announce her intent to seek election for the Niagara Falls City Council this November. DePalma resides in the Lasalle section of the city, is a registered Democrat, and a political newcomer. She will seek the Democratic and Working Families lines in this year’s primary. DePalma is employed as a Health Navigator with Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, working extensively providing health insurance options for local families. She worked prior for the Niagara Wheatfield School District as a Per Diem Substitute.

“I am excited at the possibility of serving our community by obtaining a seat on the City Council . Now, more than ever is the time for new names to step forward and serve our city, and I am confident in my abilities to work in government and positively represent this great city.”

DePalma attended State University Of New York College at Buffalo, and earned a Bachelor’s of Science Degree majoring in Education in 2012. “I believe that I am an excellent candidate for the City Council. I feel now is the time to step forward, and offer my services in city government. The time is right for new blood in local government. While I cannot boast of an extensive political background, I believe that my experience in the private sector, as well as my involvement with numerous volunteer civic organizations in Niagara Falls will provide me with a superb foundation to serve in the City Council.”

DePalma has been with Niagara Falls Memorial working in the Navigation Program since 2016. She also sits on the LIVE NF Board of Directors, serves as a member of the Resident Engagement Council and volunteers for the Niagara Falls Beautification Committee.

“Without a doubt, the biggest challenge that faces our entire region is economic development. As a local elected official, I will provide true leadership and hopefully help build a bridge towards working with city, county, state and most importantly private developers looking to grow our city. Clearly, doing a better job keeping spending in line, working towards equalizing the homestead and non homestead tax rates, and getting health care costs in line, which I have experience in are some of the biggest issues I will work on as a councilwoman. I truly believe the city has begun to turn the corner, but it is very important that we continue to grow our tax base, and only through strong economic development efforts, working with our partners in county and state government, and controlling spending will we make the City of Niagara Falls not just what it was in the past, but a much better city in the future. I want to help ensure my children can grow up in Niagara Falls, have jobs and make this home for their families.”

DePalma, 33 is married to Stephen DePalma of Niagara Falls and has two children.

Louis C.K. Thrilled Boston Comedy Fans By Dropping In at a Free Bar Show (Ft. Luke Touma)


Luke Touma just turned 22, and last year, he dropped out of school to pursue a career in comedy full time. Like many comedians looking to get something going, he runs his own bar show up in Boston…


Robert Pascoal announces candidacy for City Council


Robert Pascoal

[Press Release]

Former mayoral candidate Robert Pascoal announced his bid for one of the three Niagara Falls City Council seats up for election in November. Pascoal stated his decision to run was based on the continued lack of transparency and accountability in city hall.

“I continue to watch this administration set forth unmeasurable and costly programs and policies without proper checks and balances from certain members of the current council,” Pascoal stated. “We have two separate governing bodies in city hall. If one fails to act responsibly to ensure the best interests of residents and businesses are met, then it is the sworn duty of the other to protect constituents. I believe I can provide residents with the level of oversight needed to slow the speed at which the issues that burden residents and businesses prevail, while offering solutions to the many concerns people continue to voice.”

While running on the Republican line, Pascoal noted that he plans to represent the interests of all city stakeholders if elected. “At this level of government decisions should be made with the best interest of the people at heart, not a particular party,” he added. “I want to be there for the residents whose issues get lost due to inefficient practices at city hall. I want to be there for the business owners whose tax burden leaves them feeling the pinch from unbridled spending.”

Pascoal is known locally for his work as president of the Landlords’ Association of Greater Niagara, which includes promoting education, professional and ethical standards, and housing reform. “My involvement with the LAGN has put me on the front lines of quality of life issues like nuisance, code enforcement, police matters, mental health issues, and sustainable families. I’ve also been involved in numerous committees dedicated to brainstorming and identifying solutions to address the city’s changing demographics.”

In addition to his leadership at the landlord association, Pascoal serves on a number of local boards and organizations, including the Creating a Healthier Niagara Homeownership Committee, the City of Niagara Falls Zoning Board of Appeals, and the Rotary Club of Niagara Falls. He is also vice president of the board of directors for the New Niagara Community Center, Inc.


Sam Archie announces candidacy for City Council

[Press Release]


article photo

Sam Archie

I am Sam Archie and I’m announcing my candidacy for Niagara Fall City Council running on the Republican line, vying for one of the three seats up for election in November.

During a previous campaign, my rallying cry was “IT’S ABOUT YOUR MONEY.” This is as true today as it was then. I learned tremendously from that experience and continue to believe IT’S ABOUT YOUR MONEY. I have been very involved in and supportive of several campaigns for other Republican and Democratic candidates.

My reasons for entering the race this year are simple. We don’t have the right leadership on the council to effectively supervise and manage the current administration in the best interests of the residents of Niagara Falls. They have forgotten that IT’S ABOUT YOUR MONEY. We have all seen current council members turn their backs on residents and allow the careless and unfocused spending of casino funds by the administration. We have seen the council silence residents when opinions do not fit neatly into the administration agenda. I firmly believe that rather than tell unhappy residents that then can “just move” we should be encouraging residents to “just stay” and focus on programs and jobs to encourage new residents to “just move HERE!” IT’S ABOUT YOUR MONEY.

Over the past 8 years we have seen increased taxes and burdens on property and business owners. This falls squarely on the shoulders of the members whose seats are up for reelection this year. They routinely vote to approve the administrations excessive spending with little to no real discussion or analysis of the return on investment. They have lost sight of the fact that ITS ABOUT YOUR MONEY

My original rallying cry was ITS’ABOUT YOUR MONEY. This is still as true today as it was then. Government accountability is reflected in the way in which your tax dollars are spent. There is no question that the taxpayer is not getting value for their tax dollar in Niagara Falls. We constantly see dollars being wasted on unfocused and frivolous projects that add nothing to the quality of life for residents. It is time for new leadership on our council who is not afraid to hold the administration accountable for their frivolous spending at the expense of the residents of Niagara Falls. “IT’S ABOUT YOUR MONEY!”

I will work tirelessly on my commitment to bring transparency and accountability to the council chambers and the administration I will work to reduce the non-homestead tax and create a feasible spending plan for the city’s casino revenues share. I will work diligently to eliminate unnecessary and frivolous spending and allocate available funds toward making a difference in the quality of life for the residents of this city. We must lower the tax burden on residential and even more so on non-homestead which will attract more businesses and jobs to our city. IT’S ABOUT YOUR MONEY.

I have been a lifelong resident of Niagara Falls, currently living on the north end with my wife of 33 years, Jeannette. Our two sons Eric Archie and Nicholas Archie still live and work in this city, and Christopher Morreale lives in Syracuse. I am proud to say that I am from Niagara Falls.

I’ve been committed to many organizations and community activities over the years. I have been active in the Cataract Lodge #240 I.S.D.A. recently serving as Vice-President . I served as a Little League coach and and officer at Hyde Park Little League. I was a past president of the LaSalle Kiwanis. I am a former vice-chairman of the City Republican Party. I am currently a proud Freemason. I have also been a dedicated supporter of Niagara Falls Music and Art Festival, a highly successful event to kick off the summer festivities.

As I work with organizations and communicate with residents, I hear a common theme: We need a government we can trust. I will represent this city and all of the residents, with Action, Commitment and Transparency . I will be there for you and listen to your concerns. I humbly ask you for your support as I move forward with my candidacy. After all, IT’S ABOUT YOUR MONEY!

Sam Archie

2133 North Ave

Niagara Falls,NY 14305