Tonawanda News

March 21, 2013

What happens in Vegas

The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — I’ve been spending a lot of time lately in local schools. As fun as the experience can be, it leads to a strange bit of mixed feelings on my part — at the same time, a profound relief that I’m years out of the whole high school scene and an odd bit of nostalgia for those days. School musicals, club activities, concerts and trips — they’re the type of experience that’s irreplaceable after you’ve moved on to college and the working world.

This weekend, Kenmore East High School is giving folks the chance to live one of those experiences vicariously, at least a little.

The Kenmore East High School jazz bands (honors jazz band, jazz band and jazz combo) are leaving today for the Las Vegas Invitational Jazz Festival at the Las Vegas School for the Arts. The school is the only one on the East Coast to receive an invitation to the event, teacher Phil Aguglia said. While in Las Vegas, the bands will perform a program of music from all Buffalo-connected musicians such as Don Menza, Harold Arlen, Phil Sims, Jeff Jarvis, Mark Filsinger and Bill Todd.

During the trip, a blog chronicling the experience can be found at The first post — complete with a photo of wintry Buffalo weather on the first day of spring — was made Wednesday, and the students and teachers will return Monday.

Here’s hoping they bring some warmer weather back with them.


About a week ago, I was able to take a tour of the Twin Cities Community Outreach building on Ridge Road, getting an up-close look at what’s at stake in the group’s campaign to raise money for a new roof. 

The scale of what takes place inside that building, an former hockey rink, is impressive. After walking through it with Greg Lureman, vice president of TCCO, a series of mental snapshots still stick in my head:

• The efficient, almost choreographed, good-natured way in which volunteers for NT Meals-On-Wheels go about making more than 100 meals per day for people throughout the area. 

• The neatly organized space of the Inter-Church Clothes Closet, with its racks of clothes, rows of shoes and even shelves of children’s books for those in need.

• The staging area for the NT Inter-Church Food Pantry, its shelves lined with food staples ready to be distributed — and the warehouse space behind it with cases of donated supplies.

In other words, there’s a lot of help for the community under that one aging, occasionally leaky, roof. Thousands of dollars have been sunk into its repair over the years (and TCCO makes sure that the areas that affect food in the building are kept dry and safe), but as Lureman said, that can be “throwing good money after bad.” What they need is a complete roof replacement.

The job will cost an estimated  $125,000 to $150,000. While the group has successfully raised about $7,000 in a month and a half, there’s still a long way to go.

And you can help. 

Donations can be sent to Twin Cities Community Outreach Inc., 100 Ridge Road, North Tonawanda NY 14120. For more information, call Greg Lureman at 695-7718 or email

The group welcomes donations of all sizes. As Lureman said, “All the $20 and $25 checks add up to hundreds and thousands.”

Jill Keppeler is a writer for the Tonawanda News. She can be reached at