March 30, 2011

The Nation’s Third Oldest College Newspaper

Volume 81, Issue 9

Huge funding boost for bicentennial

by John M. Curtin

Lee Simonson (right) receives check from NFBC Chairman Patrick D. Brown (left).

Lee Simonson (right) receives check from NFBC Chairman Patrick D. Brown (left).

The Niagara Falls Bridge Commission  officially announced March 22 its  $70,000 donation to the upcoming 200 year commemoration of the War of 1812.

The donation was split between the Historical Association of Lewiston, and Friends of Fort George, both receiving a total of $25,000 over a two-year span. The other $20,000 (CDN) was given to the Niagara 1812

Bicentennial Legacy Council in Ontario to upgrade its website for better promotion of the bicentennial celebration.
Every dollar of our funding will go directly to event re-enactment (the Battle of Queenston Heights), and marketing, said Patrick D. Brown, NFBC chairman.

Lee Simonson, HAL's president, accepted this year's check of $12,500, which will be duplicated next year. The Niagara River Greenway Commission announced that they would be matching the NFBC's contribution to the historical association.

The establishment of the Niagara River Greenway Commission was a part of the 50 year relicensing program of the power authority, explains Simonson. Gov. Pataki felt that part of the funds that were going to come from the power authority to the local communities should be used to build a world-class greenway from the city of Buffalo to Youngstown, along the Niagara River.

Not only was this money meant to create social and historical points of interest, but was divided among several agencies. The millions of dollars each year continue to be dispersed to several municipalities “ one being the Town of Lewiston.

Although all funding HAL has received so far is greatly appreciated, Simonson reveals that it's exploring more funding options. A total of $80,000 will be needed to completely cover projected expenses “ from preparations, to planning and marketing, as well as other events celebrating the bicentennial.

Most of the funding will be used for the two main events surrounding 1812's commemoration. The first is the Battle of Queenston-Heights re-enactment, which will take place Oct. 12-14, 2012. KeyBank is a major sponsor of the second event, which is the unveiling and dedication of the Tuscarora Monument on the morning of Dec. 19, 2013.

At the present time, neither the federal or state governments have provided any funding for the bicentennial, but HAL is looking at several private organizations for any donations they can spare.

In the meantime, we're going to be promoting this as much as we can, explains Simonson. For example, we are selling the 1812 flags (15 stars, 13 stripes) for $15 at the Lewiston History Museum.

For as much as is being put into this enormous 200 year celebration, the Niagara 1812 Bicentennial Legacy Council estimates that the events could actually deliver $160 million to local economies. Not only will local tourism industries from both sides of the border greatly benefit, but the bicentennial is a unique educational opportunity for the thousands of students who are expected to attend. After all, it is unlikely that many will still be alive for the tercentennial.  

Dozens of volunteers will be needed for the upcoming events, which will begin as early as this summer. Those who are interested can contact Simonson at 716-754-8414 for more information.

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