Niagara Gazette

Local News

August 23, 2013

Dyster, Obama talk Falls' Live NF program as enthusiastic crowd takes in president's plan

Niagara Gazette — When he found out President Barack Obama was speaking at the University at Buffalo Thursday, and the topic was college affordability, Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster couldn’t help but think of his administration’s own mission.

Just last year, it created the “Live NF” program, designed to make it easier for recent college graduates to own a home or rent apartments and begin a life after school. It’s a program that resonates precisely with the context of the president’s speech from his podium in Alumni Arena.

He told the president as much when he greeted Obama at the Amherst campus.

“I felt we needed to do something about this locally last year,” Dyster said. “I found it interesting some of his talking points sounded the same as what we were using a year ago. We told you ‘If you study hard, graduate from high school with good grades and go to college, you’ll be set.’ But so many in this generation are doing what we ask them to do and still, it’s not working out. The economy has become almost unaffordable for people.”

Watching the president speak from his seat in the crowd, though, he said he was impressed. He enjoyed the content. He appreciated the number of interruptions by applause. He was struck by the makeup of the crowd gathered around him.

The crowd, designed to feature university students rather than political figures normally the focus of these types of events, was designed to showcase the people he was speaking directly to, he said. The audience soaked it all in, he said, and appeared genuinely interested in what was being explained.

“It was like the president was speaking directly to them,” he said. “Even when he started off, making an observation about the (football) team sitting behind him, about how they had a big opening game coming up (against powerhouse Ohio State) ... I had a feeling looking at the students, I got the sense they knew the president had a sense of understanding their situation.”

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