A native of Lockport and a graduate of SUNY Fredonia, I never wandered far from Western New York, and that's fine with me. I love it here. It's my home, and where my husband and I are raising our girls. We wouldn't have it any other way!
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I wasn't around for the big arrival in '64. I would be born the year later, and by the time I was old enough to become a fan, the Beatles had broken up. Still, my fascination with the band and the music was as strong as ever. I remember my sisters (we shared everything) had the Greatest Hits albums. One was red and the other was blue. Both carried the Apple label. We played those records so much I am surprised they didn't wear out! I wonder where they are today??!!
What's my favorite song??? Oh my goodness, can anyone really give just one or two??? When I was a young girl, I favored the band's early work, and of course, had a crush on Paul. As I got older, I learned to appreciate the later work and started favoring George Harrison.
Once the band members went solo, the great music continued. George's "My Sweet Love", John's "Mind Games", "You're 16" from Ringo and of course all the hits from Paul McCartney and Wings. "My Love" is one of my all-time favorites!
These days a Beatles tune can always brighten my day and bring back memories of playing 45's on our record player and later albums on our stereo. It was a wonderfully simple time for a child growing up, and the Beatles brought us so much joy. I am glad we can share that with future generations.
I remember December 13, 1993 well. I was hired as the 11pm producer at Channel 7. My job was to write all the stories in the late show for the anchor team of Keith Radford and Kathleen Leighton. After working as an anchor/reporter in Elmira for six years, I would be giving up my on air work. I was willing to do it for a chance to work at WKBW-TV and live closer to my hometown of Lockport.
Turns out it wasn't the best month to start a job in Buffalo. I remember it being very cold and snowy. My then-four-year-old daughter and I were living with my parents in Lockport while my husband finished up work in Elmira. I was taking my dad's rear-wheel drive car to work everyday. A 45 minute ride, sliding the whole way!
A nerve-wracking start, but it wouldn't be long before I started doing some on-camera work. Over the past 20 years at 7, I have been a producer, producer/reporter, reporter, reporter/fill-in anchor, reporter/weekend anchor, reporter/weekday anchor, reporter/morning anchor, and for the past seven years, anchor/reporter for the 5,6, and 11pm. The jobs changed as much as my hairstyles, clothes and weight!!! When I started writing for Keith, I never imagined I would eventually sit next to him!
It's been a wild ride since I started in TV News at 21-years old. I can't believe I am still doing this 26 years later and 20 years in the same spot! There have been plenty of ups and downs, but never a dull moment. I feel very privileged to have been in your homes all these years telling you about the news. I have never once taken that tremendous responsibility for granted. I give it my all everyday.
What I am most grateful for 20 years later here in Buffalo is that I was able to come back to my family. My Dad was diagnosed with cancer when I was hired, and we lost him six years later. It helps you realize just how precious every year is, making this milestone even more meaningful.
The backbone of the community has always been the General Motors plant. When I was growing up, it was a major employer with 10,000 good paying jobs. The facility has changed hands a few times and now employs more than 2,000 people. I am grateful it's still part of the community, but the drain of jobs really hurt the city and slowly, I began to see the effect. Longtime businesses started closing one by one over the years. Now, it seems there's a resurgence.
Over the past few weeks, there have been several announcements of new projects, like the restoration of the "Flight of Five" locks at the Erie Canal. Then, the long vacant "Twin Fair" building downtown will finally become an ice arena. The community has been without one for years. I remember how sad I felt when I realized the Kenan Center ice rink that we enjoyed growing up didn't have ice anymore.
The community also broke ground on a "Fallen Heroes" memorial, honoring fellow Lockportians who died serving their country or their community. There's also the Ulrich Center that filled a large empty lot in the city's business district, and Lake Effect Ice Cream along the canal is generating a lot of buzz.
There are still many challenges facing this small city, but with a fresh, new approach to revitalization, I know there are going to be more reasons to be proud in the future.
I am so excited to be a part of our Good Things, Good Music event out at GCR Studios on Franklin in Buffalo! Channel 7 is collecting new/used instruments and monetary donations for local music students.
It's a cause near to my heart. We have always appreciated music and the arts in my house. My sister has her own dance studio, and I played the flute through school.
It just breaks my heart when I hear that there are students in our community who can't learn music because of budget issues. To me, music is not an extra, but an important part of the learning process. It's also one of the most beautiful pleasures of life.
I will be reporting live from the event during the 5-6:30 p.m. news. Come on out if you are as passionate as I am about music!!
We could not have done this without the hard work of Robby Takac of the Goo Goo Dolls. This guy just amazes me. He's a huge rock star, but works tirelessly to give back to the community where he grew up. That's a man with great character! But then again, we see a lot of that here in Western New York!!!
If you haven't already, I recommend you check out the Women In Leadership section of our website. It's under "Features" on the homepage. There you will find several stories of women all across Western New York who are true leaders, making a strong, positive impact on our community.
Channel 7 teams up with the National Association of Women Business Owners Buffalo Niagara on the monthly reports. NAWBO chooses the women, and we tell their stories.
I have been doing these interviews for two years now, and I continue to be amazed by the women I meet.
This month we are honoring Stephanie Simeon, Executive Director of Heart of the City Neighborhoods. She runs the non-profit group that is rehabilitating rundown homes, mostly on the city's lower west side, and creating new neighborhoods with affordable, high-quality housing.
Stephanie is so very passionate about her work. She told me she is a "fixer" and absolutely loves what she does. If you look down Whitney Place in Buffalo where Heart of the City has renovated several homes, you can see the transformation. It's becoming a desirable street in the heart of the city!
Watch for my report on Stephanie on Monday, October 28th on Eyewitness News at 5 and 11 p.m. She is an inspiration along with the many other women we have featured!
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