By DON GLYNN email@example.com
Niagara Gazette — A former tourism official from Niagara Falls — now in a key post in Florida — was elated at what he found along Old Falls Street during a return trip to the Cataract City.
It was obviously a breathtaking moment when the visitor walked inside the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute. “It’s impressive to think of what all that talent will mean and what it will bring to this city,” said Mark G. Gatley, who headed the Niagara Falls Convention ad Visitors Bureau before joining the Philadelphia-based SMG Corp.
Gatley’s reaction echoed the response of countless local residents as well as tourists as they first encountered the newest downtown attraction. For those who have had the dining experience in the Savor restaurant, most of the reviews received five stars. On a brief tour of the institute, Gatley learned that some 300 persons including students, faculty and administration are involved in daily operations and that number is expected to increase in the next few years.
A Niagara Falls native, Gatley, 63, is a regional general manager for SMG and the director of the Greater Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Broward County Convention Center. A graduate of Niagara County Community College and the Niagara University College of Hospitality & Tourism Management, he continues to help coordinate the college’s role in the NU Alumni Advancement Day each fall. He and other classmates from their days on Monteagle Ridge return to campus to offer expert advice and direction to students planning careers in the burgeoning hospitality industry.
Gatley visited here last week as part of a family reunion to celebrate the mother’s 91st birthday. In fact, the party was all set for the Culinary Institute until their mom was hospitalized due to injuries from a fall. Ironically, she ended up on the same floor at Mount St. Mary’s Hospital where she had served as a nurse for 20 years before retiring.
During his stay, Gatley, a guest on Tom Darro’s “Viewpoint” show, was asked why he hadn’t retired after all those years in the tourism business. “I thoroughly enjoy what I’m doing,” he told Darro, emphasizing there are no current plans to retire.
HELPING HANDS DEPT.: Volunteers from the Niagara Beautification Commission and the Minnesota-based Youth Works Group have pitched in to vastly improve the landscape around Niagara and Third streets, a major corridor to the South End, the casino, hotels, and the state park.
After sprucing up the small pocket park next to the Bank of America, including cutting the grass, trimming the hedges and planting flowers in a large abandoned fountain, the volunteers then moved across the street to pull weeds, trim along the fence and add some plantings. It was all part of an effort to shape an impressive welcome mat for the long holiday weekend.
Tom Lowe, chairman of the local beautification commission, said that some 40 to 50 volunteers had been involved with the project for the past two weeks. About 17 of them came from the Pittsburgh and Lancaster, Pa., areas while others traveled from New Jersey to help.
Lowe, a native of Youngstown, is a graduate of Lewiston-Porter High School and the State University at Fredonia. He is the program coordinator for ReNU Niagara, managing the GreenRoots Leadership Development Program, projects in the Highland community and the Vacant Lot Coalition. While at SUNY Fredonia, he founded the school’s chapter of Colleges Against Cancer and Relay for Life. His roots run deep in Niagara County. He’s the grandson of the late Bob Lowe, a former Niagara Gazette sports editor.
HARD TO LET GO: Did you hear about the 79-year-old woman in Las Vegas who was attacked by killer bees? It took firefighters with a hose to get the bees off her and a crow bar to pry her hand from the slot machine handle.Contact Report Don Glynn at 282-2311, ext. 2246