GENCO: Pedal power offers unique work perspective

Joe Genco

With the nice weather of the last few weeks I’ve had the mobile news unit out on multiple occasions, pedaling in pursuit of that ever-so-elusive Buckeye Newshawk Award.

I’ve traveled mostly north from our offices at 473 Third St. heading along Main Street, still working.

The other day, for example, when I was out, I stopped near City Hall when my phone rang. I hopped off my bike in the grassy shade and answered.

It was Niagara-Orlean BOCES Superintendent Clark Godshall calling back to discuss the BOCES budget. School finances are boring. School board members are selfless, under-appreciated volunteers.

Godshall’s story, however, was that the proposed BOCES budget carries more benefit expense than salary. That seems crazy to me, too, but consider: An aide making $15,000 per year helping disabled students may qualify for a health insurance package of $28,000.

What’s more, Highmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield just spent untold millions on sponsoring the Bills Stadium.

Godshall is livid about it. So am I. But it’s hard to be mad sitting next to a rack of pretty Reddy Bikeshare cycles in the shadow of City Hall, scribbling notes in my pad while “working” and downloading the app for the rental bikes that gives Falls residents a $1 annual membership.

How out of touch can Highmark be to think it was OK to spend that level of money on a sponsorship when many families, pay more in monthly premium than they do in a mortgage payment?

The public relations people will always deliver a load of hooey as well, pointing out that as a nonprofit, insurance companies rarely spend more than 12% on administrative expense. What a crock.

At least Independent Health invests in supporting Slow Roll, Go Bike and Reddy Bikeshare. I left City Hall and pedaled toward DeVeaux. Heading in that direction, once past the boarded storefronts of once-proud Main Street, the streets keep getting nicer and nicer.

I checked out some streets in DeVeaux and then decided to take the Niagara Scenic Parkway bike path back to the office.

One problem. It took me three tries to find a spot I could breach the fence

Someday, someone is going to explain to me what the heck Robert Moses was thinking when he protected the river from the people by putting an expressway on top and fencing it off. What a fool.

It is also interesting to see blue “glory of the snow”, also known as chinodoxa. It isn’t a native species but it has been in North America for more than 200 years.

It is heartwarming to see the “Natural Regeneration Area” signs and the stumps of what were once invasive buckthorn removed as part of the Nature Conservancy’s “Restore the Gorge” movement.

By the way, April and May are among the best times of the year to be foraging wild plants. In my yard, that means salad greens like bloody sorel, violet blossoms, dandelions and oxeye daisies. It’s almost time for ramps as well. In time, I will explore Deveaux Woods. I bet there are good things in the forest.

Looking out the window from our newsroom I have noticed the falls is a gigantic barometer. When the pressure is lower, the plume is higher. On sunny days, the plume stays lower.

For now I will be pedaling around town with my camera, notebook and pencil, searching for questions. Someone suggested I check out the old chimney, which is leaning soon after being moved. Oakwood Cemetery is always a fun time as well.

Part of the joy of being a journalist is getting to tell interesting stories and having permission to be nosy as a job. If you have an interesting story idea, whether I can drive there or pedal, let me know. I’d be happy to come for a visit. You can always reach me at 282-2311 Ext. 2250

Thanks for reading.

Joe Genco is the regional news editor for the Niagara Gazette and the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal. Contact him at joe.genco@niagara-gazette.com or 282-2311, extension 2250.

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