Five Things Friday – Jan. 30

Happy weekend!


Bring stories to life

1. There is a Season: 6 ten-minute plays, 7 p.m. today; 2 and 7 p.m. tomorrow, Savory Downtown, Best Western Carriage House Inn, 300 Washington St., Watertown. Cost: $20. Performances include adult themes and language. Plays planned are Bone China by K. Alexa Mavromatis, She’s Fabulous by Jack Neary, Double D by Jim Dalglish, The Same Thing by Lisa Soland, 9 Hours to Fallujah by Craig McNulty and Pillow by Frederick Stroppel. Music of The John Michael Band scheduled to follow performances. Info: Little Theatre of Watertown, 775-3212.

2. Snowtown USA film festival, 6 p.m. today; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Dulles State Office Building, 317 Washington St., Watertown. Festival plans to include reception tonight; film selections and film-related workshops tomorrow. Info/schedule: 788-4400.

3. Some Other Me,” 8 p.m. today, Central New York Playhouse, ShoppingTown Mall, 3649 Erie Blvd. E., Syracuse. Cost: $12; advance, $10. Info: CNY Playhouse, 885-8960.

4. In The Next Room,” 8 p.m. today and Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday, Archbold Theatre, Syracuse Stage, 820 Genessee St., Syracuse. Opening night performance scheduled for tonight. Special events, discounts available for senior citizens, students and military personnel and veterans. Recommended for mature audiences. Info/tickets: Syracuse Stage, 443-3275.

5. It’s a Jungle Out There skating performance, 1 p.m. Sunday, Massena Arena, 180 Harte Haven Plaza, St. Regis Blvd., Massena. Cost: $5; ages 62 and older, $3; students, $1. Massena’s figure skating club’s annual ice snow.

Get crafty and artsy

1. Craft sale, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today, Claxton-Hepburn medical center, 214 King St., Ogdensburg. The CHMC Auxiliary Crafters plan to host the craft sale in the hospital lobby. The theme of this sale is Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day. All proceeds to go to the Hospital Auxiliary. Info:  auxiliary, 393-1559 or

2. Iggy Beerbower: “The Road to Green Sands,” 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today, SLC Arts Gallery, Potsdam Town Hall, 18 Elm St, Potsdam. Ink print photographs, displayed St. Lawrence County Arts Council. Info: council, 265-6860.

3.  Museum public hours, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and Saturday, Potsdam Public Museum, 2 Park St., Potsdam. Current exhibition is Portraits of Potsdam People, displays of oil paintings of local citizens. Information: museum, 265-6910.

4. Puppet Theatre, 12:30 to 2 p.m. Saturday, Clarkson Bookstore, Clarkson University, 39 Market Street, Canton. Cost: $10. Dr. Jay Pecora, from SUNY Potsdam’s theatre department, plans to lead participants in puppet theatre, as part of KidState Theatre. Children will have the chance to create theatre and make hand puppets. Info: SUNY Potsdam, 267-2167.

5. “North of the Blue Line” exhibit, noon to 5 p.m. today and Saturday, Richard F. Brush Art Gallery, St. Lawrence University, 23 Romoda Drive, Canton. Free. Exhibition includes drawings, prints, paintings, photographs, sculptures, ceramics, videos and multi-media installations by artists from north country colleges and universities. It’s planned to run through Saturday, Feb. 21. Info: gallery, 229-5174.

Move your body

1. Partner yoga, 6 to 7 p.m. today, Yoga Loft, 30 Court St., Canton. Planned to run Fridays through March 27. Info/register: loft,, 605-8637.

2. No Tap Bowling Tournament, 6 p.m. today, Ogdensburg Bowl, 1121 Patterson St., Ogdensburg. Cost: $20 per person. Registration scheduled for 6 p.m.; games for 6:15 p.m. Five person teams. Event to benefit Frederick Remington Art Museum. Info: museum, 393-2425.

3. Beaver Camp ice fishing derby, 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Beaver Camp, 8884 Buck Point Road, Lowville. Cost: $7; ages 17 and younger, $5. Event to include prizes, food and fishing. Info: Beaver Camp, 376-2640.

4. East Coast Snocross, 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, Snow Ridge Ski Resort, 4173 West Road, Turin. Cost: $15, day; weekend pass, $25; ages 7 and younger, free. Sign up for trail class up to 800 cc. Three 120 cc mini classes. Sled rentals available. Info: ECS, 844-327-7669.

5. Guided snowshoeing trip, 10 a.m. Saturday, Great Lot Sportsman’s Club, 8411 Jackson Hill Road, Boonville. Follow guide or take map and explore on your own. Hot lunch, refreshments planned to follow at clubhouse. Limited snowshoes available. Info: club, 378-7592.

Love your ears

1. Michael Welch and Brown, 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. today, Between the Buns Sports Bar, 6 Elm St. Potsdam. Info: bar, 265-8888.

2. Dave Alexander, 8 p.m. today, Bull Tavern, 519 W. Main St., Watertown.

3. Bill Smith and Don Woodcock, 2 p.m. Saturday, TAUNY Center, 53 Main St., Canton. Cost: $10 to $15 donation. Music and storytelling planned. Info: TAUNY, 386-4289.

4. Atkinson Family Bluegrass Band, 7 p.m. Saturday, Pickens Hall, 83 State St., Heuvelton. Cost: $10. Event sponsored by Heuvelton Historical Association. Info: Pickens General Store, 344-7950 or

5. High Heels and Mind The Gap, 7 p.m. Saturday, The Flashback Lounge, 1309 State St., Watertown. Cost: $6 to $8. Phantom Chemistry to open. Info: lounge, 775-8378.

Get together

1. Anniversary extravaganza, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Seveys Point, 8954 Route 3, Childwold. Cost of dinner: $10; Wounded Warriors and Fort Drum Recreation Group, free. Event celebrating St. Lawrence County Snowmobile Association‘s 40th anniversary to include food, music, free horse drawn sleigh rides, bonfire, booths, giveaways, sled demos and more. Chicken barbecue dinner scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Info: Deb Christy, 386-8525.

2. Remembering Mercy, 5:15 p.m. Saturday, St. Patrick’s Church, 123 S. Massey St., Watertown. Event hosted by Friends of Mercy Hospital to include slide show, remarks by Rev. Leon “Toby” Schilling, Sr. Janet Peters and candlelight walk to Mercy site. Light refreshments at the church planned. Info: church, 782-6086.

3. 2015 Northern New York Maple Expo, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Gouverneur Central School, 133 E. Barney St., Gouverneur. Cost: $16 per person, includes lunch and classes. Held by Cornell Cooperative Extension. Info: Cooperative Extension, 379-9192.

4. Heartbeat Ball, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Hilton Garden Inn, 1290 Arsenal St., Watertown. Cost: $50 per couple; additional person, $15. Event planned to include photos, appetizers, coffee and water and other beverages for purchase. Formal/semi-formal attire required. To benefits Heartbeats for Madden.

5. Snow deer festival, noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, Watertown Eagles Club, 19260 Route 11, Watertown. Cost: donation of $4. Sponsored by New York State Old Tyme Fiddlers’ Association. Event planned to include dances, food, music by Black River Valley Fiddlers, beverages, 5o/50 and raffles. Info: fiddlers’ association, 599-7009.


Not enough for you? Check out the Watertown Daily Times events calendar for the extensive list.

Polish soldier names son for Fort Drum soldier who saved his life in Afghanistan (VIDEO)

A Polish soldier, whose life was saved in Afghanistan by the sacrifice of a Fort Drum soldier, has named his son for his battlefield protector.

Lt. Karol Cierpica named his newborn son Michael, after Staff Sgt. Michael H. Ollis.

“I kinda felt like it was a new grandson we had,” said Linda Ollis, Sgt. Ollis’s mother, in a phone call with the Times from the family’s Staten Island home. “It’s amazing to know he’ll be remembered.”

The two soldiers’ lives became intertwined during a massive attack at Forward Operating Base Ghazni on Aug. 28, 2013, while Sgt. Ollis was aiding Lt. Cierpica, who had suffered a leg injury from a grenade attack. While caring for Lt. Cierpica, Sgt. Ollis was killed when he stepped in front of a suicide-vest-wearing attacker heading toward his Polish comrade.

Before learning the new baby’s name earlier this month, the Ollis family sent the Cierpica family a teddy bear made from Sgt. Ollis’s fatigues. The bear was created by The Matthew Freeman Project, an organization based in Georgia.

The story was first reported by

Sgt. Ollis’s heroism came toward the end of a harrowing suicide attack, which started with the demolition of a car carrying thousands of pounds of explosives by a base wall, setting up a siege by 10 bomb-wearing attackers.

In addition to Sgt. Ollis, a Polish soldier died during the attack, and 10 Polish soldiers and dozens of Afghans were injured.

For his heroism that day, Sgt. Ollis was presented the Silver Star, the U.S. military’s third-highest decoration for valor, along with the Gold Medal of the Polish Armed Forces, the country’s top honor for foreign soldiers.

Since that day, Sgt. Ollis’s father, Robert, said his family has built a bond with the Cierpica family and visited them last summer. The two families exchange notes a couple of times a month.

“We wish it was under better circumstances,” Mr. Ollis said. “We’re very happy knowing them, and we’re happy to have met them.”

He added that the Cierpica family may be coming to America later this year, and hoped they would get a chance to meet the newborn Michael.

The Ollis family said they are working on other tributes to their son, including a sculpture they plan to place at his high school.

The report can be found at


By Gordon Block, Times Staff Writer

Lowville woman working to develop board game series

A flooded basement provided a Lowville woman with the inspiration to design her own series of board games.

Four years and many hours of play-testing later, Anne B. Lehman is nearly ready to unveil her initial offering: “The Volunteers of Toscania.”

“Everybody’s enjoyed it and has had a good time with it,” she said.

During a particularly wet spring in 2011, Ms. Lehman said, water was running into her house basement, and, with no sump pumps on hand, she and her brother, Noel, had to remove the water with a Shop-Vac. To stay awake during the extended water-bailing sessions, she ran different game ideas through her head and jotted some down on a notepad.

“I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to create your own games,’” said Ms. Lehman, who had operated Lehman Painting with Noel since 1993.

That led to the creation of a new business, the aptly named Running Waters Creations, but work on the game was limited by time constraints from the painting business as well as finances.

“I only worked at it as I had the money,”’ Ms. Lehman said.

Now, after recently discontinuing the painting venture, she is moving forward with plans to develop the game, with hopes of having units ready for sale within the next couple of months.

The prospective game designer said she enjoyed playing “Settlers of Catan,” a board game created in Germany in the mid-1990s that spawned a series of other games. So, she patterned parts of her game after that one, particularly how hexagonal game pieces are put down in a random manner to provide a different-looking game board each time it is played.

She credited the Small Business Development Center at Jefferson Community College in Watertown for helping her develop a business plan and researching possible copyright infringements, and said several other area residents helped with development of a prototype board and game pieces.

The Internet also proved helpful during game development, she said.

The game is being printed by the Image Press in Cicero.

The goal in “Volunteers of Toscania” is to build as many paths, huts, hospitals, schools and places of worship on the island nation of Toscania as possible to raise its living standards. That requires players to accumulate local assets of cows, sheep, chickens, wood and building blocks through the luck of the dice, trading with other players or collecting opportunity cards.

The game also includes a “scoundrel” piece that may pilfer assets.

“There has to be an element of risk there,” Ms. Lehman said.

She said she has tested the game with friends and at Hero’s Haven in Watertown and got positive feedback on all such occasions.

Ms. Lehman said she is now “just pulling all the loose ends together,” including creation of a website, determining a price and making final tweaks to the game.

She also intends to offer a few other games — “The Merchants of Toscania,” “The Mariners of Toscania” and the “Toscania 5-6 Player Expansion” — that may be added to the original to increase the size and scope of the game.



By Steve Virkler, Johnson Newspapers

To hang with Watertown’s firefighters, you got to keep your cool (VIDEO)

WATERTOWN — Steve Buscemi, star of stage and screen, famous for his bug-eyed gaze and snaggle-tooth smile, was a firefighter.

As far as personal inclinations go, I was always more likely to admire Steve Buscemi the actor and artist than Steve Buscemi the public servant. A lot of kids want to be firefighters; I wasn’t one of them.

But I’ve developed a late obsession with the fire service, perhaps brought on by my now much more regular interaction with its members.

Turns out I’m not alone in my late blooming. Battalion Chief James R. Holland, municipal training officer for the Watertown Fire Department, told me that despite the fact that his father was a firefighter, he never really entertained the notion of a career for himself along those lines.

It wasn’t until he came home from college that his father put a firefighter application in his hands and sent him off to take the test. Now, many years later, Mr. Holland says he couldn’t imagine a better career.

His brother, Jeffrey M. Holland, was one of several firefighters who went through the “Mayday and Firefighter Survival Drill” last week at the city’s Emma Flower Taylor station on Massey Street.

The drill, designed to test your composure by exposing you to stressful situations, is physically and mentally demanding. It’s meant to simulate the experience of being trapped in a burning building.

“It’s definitely challenging,” the younger Mr. Holland said. “The basic principle behind all the training we did that day was basically for you to keep your composure in a stressful environment. … Your mindset has to be there, or else you’re useless to everybody.”

To get a better sense of what the training actually entailed, I asked Chief Holland to let me run, or, more accurately, crawl through the same drill his brother experienced.

I donned the boots, helmet and the rest of the “turnout gear,” along with an airpack and a radio — about 60 pounds, all told — and proceeded through a series of obstacles with my vision partially obscured by a fogged-out face shield. A ceiling fell on me and I got trapped in a closet, which I had to breach with an ax before climbing up a set of steps only to have the floor collapse.

And though all these obstacles were challenging, the aptly named “freakout box” — a simple yet devious device — was so difficult as to deserve its own paragraph. A long rectangular crate filled with wires that snarl and catch on every piece of gear, the “freakout box” has apparently claimed the composure of many a better man than I.

Even Jeffrey said it was hard.

“It is exhausting,” Mr. Holland said. “You go two inches, you get caught, you go two inches, you get caught, and it’s constantly trying to manipulate your body, manipulate your air pack to get through the wires and the obstacles in the course. Plus, being in that confined space is a little unnerving to some guys … It tests you to keep calm and work your way out of it, to keep moving.”

I have a sneaking suspicion the trainers took it easy on me while I was making my way through, though the amount of sweat accumulating in my clothes and grunting emanating from my throat greatly increased as I struggled to free myself from the trap.

I’ve done some challenging training in the past, and the “freakout box” ranks right up there. The entire evolution was physically demanding, but not impossible. It was, dare I say, fun.

Granted, I had some advantages: I was not wearing the respirator mask, which restricts breathing and visibility, I could see a little bit through the bottom of the face shield and, as a grizzled veteran pointedly observed after I finished the training, “It wasn’t 500 degrees in there.”

At 61, Captain Mark W. Kellar is the oldest firefighter. “But not the most senior,” he said.

“Most of the fires come at night,” Capt. Kellar said. “I don’t know why, I guess people do things and then go to bed… you can’t see six inches in front of your face. That’s when your training comes in handy, so you don’t panic.”

I have a copy of the application to take the firefighter exam on my desk (they are available through the city of Watertown and must be turned in by Feb. 18, for those who are interested). I probably won’t do anything with it, but it feels good to have it there — another possibility, another life.

But I’m not a firefighter, nor would I ever pretend to be. I spent 15 minutes getting a small taste of what these guys do every day. It was a great experience, but I’m glad I didn’t have to do it for real.

A point driven home by Chief Holland after the training was over.

“It’s vitally important that we do these drills,” he said. “The end goal is that every day, when a guy comes to work, that they go home to their families. That’s our end goal and we work every day to make sure that happens.”

And though Jeffrey Holland said he’s never been trapped in a house or a building during a fire, he said going through the drill made him feel prepared for it, if it ever did happen.

“I wouldn’t wish that on any firefighter,” Jeffrey said about the reality behind the mayday drill. “Do we want to go to a fire, some of us, yeah, but we don’t want anybody to lose their life or property, you know? And we’re ready to go in there and put our lives on the line for somebody we’ve never even met.”

Video of the training can be found at



By Daniel Flatley, Times Staff Writer

Snowtown Film Festival will feature wide range of local and national films

WATERTOWN — Two local filmmakers say the Snowtown Film Festival on Friday and Saturday will be a shot in the arm for a fledgling local film industry.

“I never thought in a million years that Watertown would have something like this,” said Carthage native Clay J. Dumaw, who directed and co-produced last year’s “Hold ’Em,” which was shot locally. “A few years ago, no one around here was doing anything film-related.”

“Hold ‘Em” was written by Carthage resident Richard Cooke. The film will close out the festival on Saturday night.

Also to be screened at the festival will be “The Coldest Winter,” a 2005 World War II drama shot in Northern New York. Michael E. Mustizer of Watertown was its writer, director, art director and director of photography.

Mr. Mustizer said a lot has changed in the film industry in the decade since his film was released.

“I did it at the dawn of the digital age, right when high definition hit,” he said. “It made it difficult to promote, but I did end up getting distribution for it.”

Mr. Mustizer, who now focuses more on writing than filmmaking, said there is a growing circle of local filmmakers.

“Watertown has a real strong musical community,” he said. “It now looks like the film community is starting to come around. There’s a lot of young people trying to make movies.”

Mr. Dumaw said technology is helping to fuel that trend.

“We’re at the point where the same technology that everyone uses in Hollywood is available to the consumer now,” he said. “You can walk into any electronics store and get a camera with resolution and with results that look just like real film. So you see a lot more people trying new things now. It’s exciting to me. I compare the transition to when 16 millimeter (cameras and film) became popular in the ’60s and ’70s.”

Mr. Mustizer and Mr. Dumaw said they are glad to be part of the inaugural Snowtown Film Festival, which was created when a local group of film buffs approached the Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce and the Watertown Parks and Recreation Department to partner with them to present it during Snowtown USA.

“It’s going to give focus on some cultural stuff that we’ve been lacking,” he said.

The city and the Chamber of Commerce, along with a cadre of volunteers, have brought back the Snowtown festival after a 16-year hiatus.

■       ■       ■

The Snowtown Film Festival will open Friday with “Fargo,” a quirky, darkly humorous 1996 film that features snow and cold as a backdrop.

“Fargo” will be preceded by a “red carpet reception” that begins at 6 p.m. The movie starts at 7:15.

The film fest continues on Saturday with several movies — ranging from a war drama to a silent classic — and a lecture. The event is in the auditorium of the Dulles State Office Building, 317 Washington St.

“Fargo,” rated R and shot in Minnesota and North Dakota, was written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. It concerns the plan of a car salesman (William H. Macy) to kidnap his wife and how it falls apart due to his and his henchmen’s bungling and the persistent police work of the pregnant Marge Gunderson, played by Frances McDormand, who won an Academy Award for best actress in the role.

Despite the film’s claim that it is based on “a true story,” the Internet Movie Data Base says that the Coens added that disclaimer so viewers would be more willing to suspend their disbelief.

The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards. In addition to the best actress nod, it won for best original screenplay. It has also been named one of Time Magazine’s “Top 10 Freezing Cold Movies.”

The opening night movie and reception, both reserved for those over age 18, will include hors d’oeuvres from Embellished Catering, Henderson Harbor, and drinks from the Paddock Club, Watertown. The cost is $15.

A committee of volunteers has been working since last spring to pull the festival together.

“A lot of detail has gone into it,” said committee member Kylie S. Peck. “We’re pretty happy with what we’ve come up with.”

Saturday’s events will consist of films, a lecture and about a half dozen shorts of under 30 minutes that were submitted for a festival contest. Awards in the contest also will be presented Saturday.

First up Saturday is Mr. Mustizer’s “The Coldest Winter.” The film has are two story lines. Both take place during the Battle of the Bulge, which occurred in December 1944 in Ardennes, between eastern Belgium and northern Luxembourg. The first tells the tale of an American soldier and a German soldier, both seriously wounded and left for dead. They find themselves in a game of cat and mouse, fighting for survival against their wounds and the weather.

A second story line follows a naive, frightened captain, fresh from his desk, sent to track down missing intelligence. He trudges through the forest with a newly demoted sergeant-turned-private from a black Army unit, a battle-hardened sergeant and a private.

The film, Mr. Mustizer said, is available on Amazon Instant Video for $1.99.

Capping the evening will be Mr. Dumaw’s “Hold ’Em,” about a sinister, high-stakes poker game where “the entry fee is your life.”

“Hold ’Em” DVDs can be purchased through Mr. Dumaw’s film company, Clay Pigeon Studios, for $12.99. Copies of Mr. Dumaw’s first movie, “Get Out Alive,” are also available on the site for the same price.

■       ■       ■

The schedule of the 2015 Snowtown Film Festival, at the Dulles State Office Building:


6 p.m.: Reception at the Dulles State Office Building for those 18 and over.

7:15 p.m.: “Fargo,” rated R.


10 a.m.: “The Coldest Winter,” followed by a Q&A session.

The film has not been rated by the Motion Picture Association of America, but Mr. Mustizer says it would merit a PG-13, for language and violence.

Noon: Lecture with Norman Keim, author of “Our Movie Houses: A History of Film and Cinematic Innovation in Central New York.”

1 p.m.: “For Heaven’s Sake”

Harold Lloyd stars in this 1926 silent movie. Jason D. Comet, owner of Comet Music Studio, Watertown, will provide live organ accompaniment and give an introduction.

2:30 p.m.: “Climb to Glory: Legacy of the 10th Mountain Ski Troopers”

This 2013 film tells the story of the 10th Mountain Division ski troopers and how they promoted the U.S. ski industry following World War II. Warren Miller produced the 45-minute documentary in association with the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum.

The film festival committee partnered with the Northern New York chapter of the Association of the United States Army and the Fort Drum chapter of the National Association of the 10th Mountain Division to present the film.

Mr. Miller’s films are renowned for their photography and storytelling. They have a cult following among fans of winter sports.

“We’re so proud of the achievements of the 10th Mountain Division and it’s an honor for us to help showcase their history at this event,” retired Col. Michael T. Plummer, a member of the local AUSA board of directors said in a news release.

Following the movie, Mr. Plummer and local historian Douglas Schmidt, both of whom are veterans of the 10th Mountain Division, will host a question-and-answer session on the division. Mr. Schmidt’s great-grandfather also served in the division during World War II.

The film is “family-friendly,” according to Mrs. Peck, the festival committee member.

4 p.m.: “Northern Light”

This 2013 award-winning, 105-minute documentary is set against the backdrop of a town’s annual snowmobile race in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and “explores the American working class experience.”

Parental discretion is advised for language.

Among other awards, it was named most innovative feature at the 2013 Visions du Réel, Switzerland, and winner for best cinematography at the 2013 New Orleans Film Festival.

“Vistas of snowy expanses are juxtaposed with intimate observance of two working-class families in the build-up to an annual 500-mile endurance race,” Steve Dollar wrote in The Wall Street Journal.

6 p.m.: Short film submissions screening and awards ceremony.

7:30 p.m.: “Hold ’Em”

The 2014 film is produced by Carthage native Clay J. Dumaw, who will give an introduction.

The film is not rated. Viewer discretion advised for violence and language.



By Chris Brock, Times Staff Writer

Five Things Friday – Jan. 23

Don’t have weekend plans yet? Read up on what’s going down. [Read more...]

Little Theatre of Watertown staging ‘There Is a Season” — six 10-minute plays

After an absence of nearly a year, Little Theatre of Watertown returns to the stage this month with six 10-minute plays of two characters each.

Director and show coordinator Elizabeth P. Smith has named the collection “There is a Season.”

“They are very different, but they hold together nicely,” Mrs. Smith said. “I feel that it deals with seasons of peoples’ lives.”

She was inspired to stage the six stories after she discovered a book of short plays in a New York City Barnes & Noble store a few years ago. She contacted the playwrights of the six plays she had in mind.

“They were very supportive,” Mrs. Smith said. “Then it was just a matter of finding a place to do it since we lost the Black River Valley Club.”

Little Theatre held shows at the club, including dinner theaters. Troupe officials were told last summer they had to find a new home after the Black River Valley Club announced it was being sold with a plan to convert space into rental apartments. That plan fell through. However, the club is in dire financial straits because of ongoing costs.

The last show Little Theatre produced was “Mass Appeal” in February. Spring and fall shows were canceled.

“There Is A Season” will be staged Jan. 29, 30 and 31 at Savory Downtown at the Best Western Carriage House Inn, 300 Washington St. Hors d’oeuvres will be served.

“We wanted to try something new, something different than a dinner show,” said Little Theatre president Daniel J. Allington. “We wanted to branch out a little bit and bring something different for our audiences.”

Other things are different in the latest show in addition to the food and location.

“It does have more adult language and adult content than some of our other shows,” Mr. Allington said. “But it’s very enjoyable. They are thought-provoking and some of them are very funny.”

Mrs. Smith said she would give an R rating to most of the plays.

“It’s not something you’d bring your kids to,” she said. “I’m not even encouraging it for junior high and senior high students.”

But “There is a Season,” the director said, will create a range of emotions.

“Some of them are outrageously funny,” Mrs. Smith said. “And some of them will really make you think.”

■       ■       ■

The six plays, in order of performance:

“Double D” by Jim Dalglish

Actors: Tyler Graves and Kimberly Jannone

“It’s got some real pathos to it,” Mrs. Smith said. “It’s about a shoe salesman who gives up his old lifestyle and this woman comes in. She’s huge, with very large feet. She’s been going all around town trying to find shoes that will fit her. She has very low self-esteem.”

“9 Hours to Fallujah” by Craig McNulty

Actors: Cindy Tyler and Brandon Davis

Two Marine reservists are out in the field before an impending battle.

“It’s very serious, but insightful,” Mrs. Smith said.

“The Same Thing” by Lisa Soland

Actors: Terry Burgess and Sarah Hovey

This play, which precedes intermission, concerns a man and a woman who meet by accident at a grocery store.

“It’s sweet. It’s just a nice little story,” Mrs. Smith said.

“Bone China” by K. Alexa Mavromatis

Actors: Munierah Macedo and Hannah Grybowski

Memories are refreshed for two sisters sorting through an attic one afternoon. One sister is dying of cancer.

“She’s Fabulous” by Jack Neary

Actors: Kathie Strader and Kathleen Chevier

During intermission of a Broadway production of “Death of a Salesman,” two fellow actresses in the audience begin to critique the leading lady of the show.

“The dialogue between them is snarky,” said Mrs. Strader. “It’s also funny and touching in places.”

“It’s a riot,” Mrs. Smith said. “They (Mrs. Strader and Mrs. Chevier) play off each other so well.”

Mrs. Strader said she can partially relate to the play. Years ago, she tried out for a “Death of a Salesman” lead role when it was staged by Little Theatre.

“I didn’t get the part,” she said. “I was too young.”

“Pillow” by Frederick Stroppel

Actors: Susie Curtis and Anita Prather Harvell

“It’s the most outrageous of them all and the most R-rated,” Mrs. Smith said. “It deals with two friends.”

One of the friends sets the other up with a blind date, which goes terribly wrong.

“I purposely put it at the end,” Mrs. Smith said. “But I hope people don’t go away thinking, ‘I can’t believe they put that on.’”

■       ■       ■

Mr. Allington said “There Is a Season” works for the Savory Downtown location because it can be set up and taken down quickly at the busy establishment, which he said was able to squeeze in the three days of performances. There are no immediate plans to host more Little Theatre shows at the location.

Meanwhile, a search for a permanent Little Theatre home continues. There are plans to host a spring show in the auditorium at Immaculate Heart Central School.

“We are taking every lead we get and making whatever contacts that we can,” Mr. Allington said. “Unfortunately, they haven’t come to fruition.”

Mrs. Smith said the staff at Savory Downtown has been tremendous in helping Little Theatre stage “There Is a Season.”

“I want a good turnout for this,” she said. “I want to pack the place. I want it to be profitable for both organizations so that we will be able to do more shows there.”



By Chris Brock, Times Staff Writer

A happy ending: Euthanasia ruling revoked for Hemi

It was revealed Tuesday afternoon that Hemi, the 3-year-old pit bull sentenced to death last month, has been given a second chance at life.

Village Justice Eric J. Gustafson reversed his December ruling that the Staffordshire terrier was to be put down following a dangerous dog hearing.

The dog is accused of biting a neighbor twice in a span of 17 months and has been under the care of the Trout Brook Veterinary Clinic in Potsdam for more than a month.

Veterinary technician Carol Taylor said it had been a trying few days leading up to Tuesday’s final verdict.

“It’s been awful and we didn’t know which way to go. We were in limbo. Even today it still hasn’t sunk in,” Ms. Taylor said. “Proving to the judge that Hemi was fit to be saved was just information passing on. … We wanted to get that part out, and to me, going to court, that was just part of the process. Now comes the hard part, trying to find a good home for him.”

William P. Rochefort, 20, the former owner of Hemi, signed paperwork to hand the dog over officially to the clinic last week.

Following Judge Gustafson’s ruling in December, he stayed the execution for 30 days to give Mr. Rochefort one last opportunity to appeal the verdict in St. Lawrence County Court.

“It is a tough decision for the judge and I did not envy that position,” Ms. Taylor said. “There are stipulations from the judge. He has set forth a certain set of things. I will abide by what he wants.”

The veterinary technician did not specify what the stipulations were.

Mr. Rochefort’s former neighbor, Dwayne Gardner, also was in court earlier this month and voiced his concern that Hemi was going to kill a child in the future.

Mr. Gardner had testified at the dangerous dog hearing last month that he had returned home from work at approximately 9 a.m. Dec. 8 and was attacked by Mr. Rochefort’s dog after he exited his vehicle.

The neighbor also testified he had been attacked by the dog on the afternoon of Aug. 29, 2013.

Ms. Taylor said this entire case was unlike any other during her 16 years as a veterinary technician with Trout Brook.

“I have not had to go through the suspension and the suspense. I didn’t know what was going to happen. It was definitely a roller coaster ride,” she said.

Ms. Taylor said employees at the clinic waited in anticipation as she received the phone call from Judge Gustafson on Tuesday. “Everybody was holding their breath, and when I was having the conversation with the judge, everyone was waiting and I gave the thumbs up. People didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, or smile,” Ms. Taylor said.

The official noted that finding Hemi the perfect home will not be an easy process.

“My job is not finished. I still have to find him a home and a place where he will be taken care of,” Ms. Taylor said. “He is very well-behaved, smart and a fast learner. … It comes down to the bare facts of ‘Are you going to be able to care for this dog?’ There’s pertinent information for this dog and for him not having to be thrown into a shelter again in one year.”

The clinic will conduct meet-and-greets and interviews in an attempt to find Hemi a permanent home.

Anyone with interest or seeking more information is asked to call Trout Brook Veterinary Clinic at 265-3337.



By Victor Barbosa, Johnson Newspapers

When two high school basketball teams meet Tuesday, the focus will be on more than the game


It’s more than a basketball game.

Much more.

General Brown will meet Beaver River in a boys high school matchup tonight in Beaver Falls, but the game is serving as a fundraiser for organ donation and will feature two players — senior Ethan Lehman of Beaver River and junior Nick Nortz of General Brown — who have undergone a kidney transplant in the past three years.

The two communities will come together to support donor registration and hope to make people more aware of those who have had transplants and those who are waiting for them.

The night is being called “Dribbling for Donors” and is the brainchild of Ethan’s father, Mickey Lehman, who graduated from Beaver River in 1983.

Lehman, an executive at Bernier, Carr & Associates — an architectural, engineering and land surveying firm in Watertown — came up with the idea last year after attending a fundraiser for Donate Life America, a nonprofit that aims to increase organ, eye and tissue donation.

Lehman mentioned his idea to a few people at the beginning of the basketball season after hearing how well Nortz was doing after receiving a kidney from his mother, Tricia, at Boston Children’s Hospital in May.

“It has just taken off from there,” said Mickey Lehman, whose son will celebrate his third year with a new kidney this May. “As usual, our community is coming out of the woodwork to volunteer their time and assistance.”

Lehman and Nick’s father, General Brown head varsity coach Brian Nortz, are Croghan natives, Beaver River graduates and longtime friends.

And now their sons will be part of a night that both men will cherish forever.

“Mickey and his family were so helpful and supportive through the whole process with Nick,” Brian Nortz said. “They had already been through it and kind of guided us through a really tough time. This story speaks volumes about modern medicine and modern technology.”

There will be a Frontier League tripleheader at Beaver Falls tonight. The two schools’ junior varsity boys teams will play at 4:30 p.m., followed by the varsity girls game about 6 and the varsity boys game at 7:30.

The General Brown girls willingly gave up what would have been a home game to participate in this event. Otherwise, Tricia Nortz wouldn’t have been able to attend because she would have been watching her daughter Katy, a sophomore, play in Dexter at the same time.

Like her brother, Katy has only one kidney. She was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2002 but has been cancer-free since having her diseased kidney removed in 2007.

Nick Nortz’s story was chronicled in the Times on Dec. 26. The General Brown junior had been diagnosed with kidney failure a few years before, and he received one of his mother’s kidneys eight months ago.

“I think I took some of the little things for granted before all of this,” Nick said last month. “But now, each day is special.”

Staffers from Donate Life will have a registration table set up to register potential organ donors tonight, and a bake sale, 50/50 raffle, gift basket raffle and half-court shots will serve as other fundraisers.

Lehman said Monday he wasn’t sure how much money would be raised tonight. A donation also will be made by the Beaver River All Sports Booster Club.

“It just shows you that when a community like this gets behind something, they do it 100 percent,” he said.

Ethan Lehman’s story began in the summer of 2011, when he constantly felt tired and complained of a lack of energy nearly every day.

“I was just so tired, and didn’t know why,” he said. “I was about ready to begin football practice, but I could hardly find the energy to get up in the morning.”

His family took him to the doctor and found his blood pressure “was through the roof,” Mickey said. “We immediately took him to Syracuse, where they put him on dialysis for a month.”

Ethan eventually was able to return home, where his family provided him with dialysis. But a transplant was inevitable, and after some donor screening, it was determined Ethan and his brother, Zac, were matches.

The Lehmans then headed to Boston Children’s Hospital for what was a long transplant process. Zac was just out of college and was only 22.

“But he was determined to give his kidney to his brother no matter what,” Mickey said.

Ethan said he feels “like a normal young kid again” and is looking at colleges, including SUNY campuses in Cortland, Brockport and Buffalo. He wants to major in international studies.

“I’ve never felt better physically,” he said. “I’ve been given this new life.”

Ethan said he’s been in touch with Nick Nortz and told him he’s always there for advice or to just listen.

“I know what Nick and his family went through, so any way I can help, I’ll be there,” Ethan said.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, there were 16,896 kidney transplants in the United States in 2013. More than 100,000 people are on a waiting list for a kidney, with nearly 3,000 added to that list each month.

That’s why the Lehmans and Nortzes are so passionate about getting the word out about registering donors.

“This night will be awesome for awareness and how important it is to sign up to be a possible donor,” Brian Nortz said. “Both families were so fortunate that someone within their immediate family was a match. It’s great that Zac and Tricia will also be there.”

Mickey Lehman said that if he can help one person or family deal with the transplant process, “then everything we’ve done is worthwhile. The basketball game is just a symbol of strength and perseverance, and a celebration of life. We hope it makes a difference.”

Tonight’s event is being sponsored by the athletic departments of General Brown and Beaver River high schools, along with the United Way of Northern New York. For more information, call the United Way at 788-5631.



By John Day, Times Sportswriter

Fitness trends 2015 How we’re shaping up: from body weight training to HIIT

The hottest fitness trends for 2015 are body weight training and high intensity interval training, according to the ninth annual survey of 3,400 health and fitness professionals worldwide by the American College of Sports Medicine.

Yoga is the most popular specialty class, with Bikram yoga (26 postures performed over 90 minutes in a hot room) especially in vogue. Zumba, once the most popular fitness class, is passe. No. 9 in ACSM’s survey in 2012, Zumba fell to 34 this year.

Body weight training is resistance training in which you use your own weight, rather than barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells or exercise machines, to build muscle and strength. The most familiar examples are pushups, pullups and burpees (squat thrusts to Army and Marine veterans).

“That’s primarily utilizing your body as the weight for the resistance,” said Steven N. Rowell, executive director-health and wellness, at Watertown Family YMCA. “We run classes calling them functional fitness. Most of the movements in the functional fitness classes relate to that type of training.”

Mr. Rowell said that devices such as kettle bells or medicine balls are used at the Y’s functional fitness classes.

“But it’s based on real life and how the body functions,” Mr. Rowell said, with results that can be applied to daily activities.

Mike Bice, co-owner of Star-Spangled CrossFit at Seaway Plaza, said his business has been growing with people realizing the benefits of body weight training and “high intensity functional fitness.”

“It’s basically any type of exercise that you can think of, nothing specialized,” Mr. Bice said. “We don’t just specialize in heavy weights or running or rowing. We combine everything and put the workouts together and scale them as needed.”

The functional fitness aspect, Mr. Bice said, can use free weights or kettle weights, which give more range of motions than a machine.

“We do exercises that re used in everyday living,” he said.

Chris R. Page, co-owner of Page Fitness Athletic Club on Route 11 in Watertown, said his center specializes in body weight training and high intensity interval training. He sees two main reasons why the activities are so popular.

“It tends to be something that is a much better experience because there is no down time,” Mr. Page said. “You’re not kind of sitting on a machine thinking of what you’re going to do next.”

Also, he said, participants, at least at his club, are in a group of eight to 12 individuals.

“The group propels you into the next area, getting your heart rate up, and there’s more support. It tends to be much more beneficial in the long run. It gets you out of your comfort zone.”


Mr. Rowell said the Watertown YMCA locations downtown at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds have seen increased interest in yoga, another other top trend for 2015.

“We’ve increased our offerings based on that,” he said.

The Y offers beginning and advanced yoga.

“Your lower-level yoga is more based on stretching movements,” Mr. Rowell said. “When you look at flexibility as part of a complete exercise routine, people are starting to understand how that works.” Within that muscle quality, you still want to have a flexibility component so that you’re keeping everything pliable. That reduces the risk of injury.”

Higher levels of yoga include meditation, Mr. Rowell said, which the Y also instructs.

“Some of our instructors are pretty well versed and educated in yoga as a specialty,” Mr. Rowell said.

■       ■       ■

Another type of popular exercise for 2015 is high intensity interval training, also known as HIIT. It involves short bursts of intense activity, followed by brief periods of rest. You can burn more fat and build more muscle in the half hour or less it takes to perform a typical HIIT routine than you can in an hour or more of conventional aerobic or resistance training, multiple studies have shown.

Japanese researcher Izumi Tabata demonstrated that in his Tabata routine, 20 seconds of all-out cycling, followed by 10 seconds of slow peddling, repeated for four minutes increased VO2 max (maximal aerobic capacity) as much as did 45 minutes of long, slow cardio.

You’re burning fat long after you’ve left the gym, because HIIT raises your metabolic rate and keeps it high for many hours. A Tabata routine burns fat almost exclusively, not both fat and muscle, as conventional cardio exercises tend to do.

A typical Tabata routine consists of a 5-minute warm-up, a 4-minute all-out cycle, 2 minutes of rest, followed by another 4-minute cycle with a different exercise, and a 5-minute cool down. Another popular HIIT workout is Crossfit.

“Tabata goes kind of inline with interval training, where you are getting your heart rate up very high, let it come down and bring it back up again,” Mr. Page said. “Your calorie-burning at any one given time is increased.”

Mr. Page said there have been studies that show the benefits of interval training on heart strength.

“If you put a weight in your hand and you curl your arm, you strengthen your bicep,” he said. “With your heart, you can’t do that. You have to increase resistance somehow and that’s usually where they interval part comes in.”

Personal trainer Laura Dougherty teaches a Tabata class at a Pittsburgh-area area athletic club.

“It’s a 10,” Tricia Patsilevas, 27, a physical therapist, said of the class. “I get more benefit from 45 minutes with Laura than from three hours or more of conventional cardio and weightlifting.”

Boxing is a popular HIIT class at Dougherty’s athletic club. Students spar with the Boxmaster, an exercise machine that costs nearly $15,000, not with each other.

Boxing stimulates all muscle groups, provides both aerobic and anaerobic training and can burn up to 1,000 calories an hour.

Also popular is “Piloxing,” which combines boxing moves with Pilates.

Though HIIT is a demonstrably superior way to build muscle, burn fat and increase cardiovascular endurance, it’s hard to do, can be dangerous for those who are out of shape or have health problems.

If that describes you, a kinder, gentler cousin of HIIT is making a comeback. Circuit training — 6 to 10 exercises performed with brief rests in between — is 14th in this survey, up from 18 last year.

Times staff writer Chris Brock contributed to this report.