Niagara Gazette

September 17, 2012

NORMA HIGGS: Niagara Beautification Awards held at new Culinary Institute

By Norma Higgs
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — The Niagara Beautification Commission held it annual awards luncheon last Thursday at the new Culinary Institute – Niagara Falls on Old Falls Street. Our theme and criteria for the award recipients was “Higher Education Institutions and Their Role in the Community.” 

We are fortunate to have some very active volunteerism and specific programs directed at helping our city through the efforts of these institutions.

Of course the real interest was in the culinary institute itself and what a beautiful place it is. One can still recall the former indoor mall but with the absence of the former connected Wintergarden it looked different when you noted the view outside the main entrance. The windows are large and there are many and they offer a look at what is going on. It is so great to see students wandering around outdoors enjoying the great weather or indoors reading their assignments and working on laptops. 

There are a lot of amenities for locals and tourists alike to take part in and I am told they will be up and running very soon. On the second floor I noted a children’s area which is a place to have your child spend a few hours and learn how to make a dessert and interact with others in the food preparation. There will also be cooking lessons for adults in a room nearby.

Many will recall the Niagara County Community College began in Niagara Falls at the former Shredded Wheat location and now they have returned in a slightly different and certainly more elegant surrounding. Students will be welcome in our city and they feel the vibe already. There enrollment is now 350 and the school can handle up to 1,000 full time students in the hospitality field.

Going back to the awards and our luncheon, it was a perfect fit to honor community involvement at NCCC. Naturally the headliner is the new facility and NBC expressed its gratitude that it was located in Niagara Falls. However, that was a no brainer when Mr. Cordish decided to turn over the keys to the college if they were interested.

Their Business and Hospitality Division Chair Mark Mistriner was honored for his dedication, leadership and guidance to the students to help them reach their goals toward a successful career. He worked his way through his early years when he owned and operated The Pastry Shop on Pine Avenue while pursuing his dream to become a chef-instructor which became a reality in 2002. Our award paled in comparison to the honor bestowed on him from The American Culinary Federation which named him Northeast Region Chef Educator of the Year. I might add that no one was disappointed in the lunch we enjoyed.

NBC also thanked Carolyn Stanco who is the coordinator and instructor of the NCCC Horticulture program. Carolyn wants her students to perform a beautification project both on campus and for a local organization which fits right in with our ability at NBC to find these projects, Both organizations and Carolyn feel that student field experience is a benefit to the community and the student who interacts with the organization’s leadership and workers.

Dr. James Klyczek was awarded for his effect to make the culinary institute a reality in downtown Niagara Falls and for his service on other local boards and especially for his leadership as chair of the 2012 United Way campaign. I recently received my annual reminder letter from him. The NCCC Board of Trustees was also honored for their contribution and support of the culinary institute plan.

Moving along to two other supportive learning centers we honored Kendra Gaynor for her role as grant coordinator with the Cornell Cooperative Extension. Kendra is active in Niagara Falls working to impact the culture of wellness by planting community gardens to grow a portion of our daily diet. The City leases vacant lots to the Greenprint Niagara Board and she works with residential and organizations to facilitate creative reuse. Margaret Topor had a large cheering section for her from the Orleans/Niagara BOCES where she is Program Community Coordinator. Through the Literacy Zone, she utilizes participants working toward their GED designation, as community volunteers in various projects. Headlining these is the butterfly garden at the Main Street Public Library where she comes in on her day off to water and care for the plantings. She has been active in the city farmers market and the Main Street festivals and our Beautify Niagara spring cleanup.


I am gong to defer the achievements of our active partners at Niagara University until next week as I promised to highlight the annual Rosary Crusade at Our Lady of Fatima Shrine from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Sunday. The shrine is located at 1023 Swann Road in Lewiston and the crusade consists of an outdoor procession, coronation of the statue of Our Blessed Mother, blessing of children, Apostolic Blessing from Pope Benedict XVI and a benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Msgr. Thomas Moran continues to serve as moderator in this 32nd annual crusade. The homilist will be the Rev. Leon Biernet of Our Lady of Pompeii in Lancaster. The Niagara Council of Catholic Women sponsors this event according to Dolores Laurie who serves as chairperson and contributed this information.

Members of the ROTC from Niagara University will also take part, free rosaries will be distributed and there will be prayers for peace. The event is open to the public.