Tonawanda News

November 13, 2010

HAYNES: Time for a quick howdy

Danielle Haynes
The Tonawanda News

— Sometimes a change of scenery will do you good.

The Buffalo-Niagara Falls area was recently named the second-best city to relocate to in America by bestplaces.com. This probably doesn’t come as news to any of you. The ranking has gotten a ton of buzz by Western New Yorkers mostly through Facebook — this century’s proverbial water cooler — since it was announced a few weeks ago.

Bestplaces.com touts the area’s arts scene, parks, below-average living costs and unemployment rate, and even the sports teams — whose current records might actually have some natives checking the list for a nice place to relocate — as excellent reasons to move to a region the rest of the country knows mostly for snow and chicken wings.

This silver medal ranking is of particular interest for me. In fact, I beamed with pride the day my mom texted me about it. Why? Because I have relocated, not once, but twice, to Western New York from my hometown in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas.

I moved here once at age 18 when I decided to “find myself” by going out-of-state for school, landing at Canisius College. I’m sure my parents were more than thrilled to send me 1,400 miles away and worry about private school tuition at a college they’d never even heard of.

I loved the area so much, I returned a few years after I graduated college to take a job with Greater Niagara Newspapers, first as a page designer here at the News, then later at our sister paper in Lockport.

That second move was what got me the most baffled looks and “Are you crazy?” comments ... from both those back home and here in New York. I expected my Texas family and friends to be confused about my choice to move to a city known as much for its declining population and industry as it is for how often snow is measured in feet. Seriously, how’s a Texas girl supposed stay upright on all this frozen stuff?

What surprised me, though, were all the Western New Yorkers who were equally confused about my decision to move back. I guess most people aren’t used to out-of-towners wanting to move to the area and it probably comes from the same place that makes everyone proud to be so high on the bestplaces.com list. Confusion mixed with pride. That sounds about right.

Of course, it’s my latest relocation — from page designer at the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal to features editor here at the Tonawanda News — that has you reading this to begin with.

As of this edition, I’m taking over the helm of the Lifestyles section from Paul Lane. I certainly have huge shoes to fill and I’ve already found myself wishing he was still around to answer my many questions.

Despite having the new-job jitters, I couldn’t be more thrilled to take on this new adventure. Features editor! It has a nice ring to it, no? I love exploring this area, checking out local restaurants, businesses, the arts scene and meeting new people. And now it’s my job!

Sure, I have a lot to learn ... I’m not a native, after all, but I look forward to taking this journey with you, as cheesy as that may sound. I’d certainly love to hear your story ideas or even a simple suggestion on where I can find the best cup of coffee in town.

Side note: As if this column wasn’t sappy enough, in the middle of writing this, my first column, a YouTube video called “Buffalo: This Place Matters” started making the rounds on Facebook. I suggest you check it out ... I fell in love with my adopted hometown all over again.

Contact Danielle Haynes at 693-1000, ext. 116.