Facebook Page
HDC News 2013

Updates - 2013

January 2013
By Ron Dukarm

         On December 5th and January 2nd, we hosted the monthly Steel Plant Museum program series - "First Wednesdays" featuring speakers covering topics of life at Bethlehem Steel. On January 12th we again hosted a meeting of all waterfront groups who are planning events for 2013. On January 18th a reception was held for 150 participants of the national convention of the Railway Passenger Car Alliance.

         On January 19th we conducted a tour of the museum for members of the Irish Center, several of whom are assisting our library efforts. On January 24 we held our WNYRHS public meeting. On the 28th, we hosted a membership meeting of the China Light Yacht Club.

DONATIONS - Over the past two months we have received several donations at the Heritage Discovery Center. Our sincere thanks to the following:
       Dave Young - six classic railroad books.
       Carl Ambuske - stain and varnish for our church pew and woodwork around doors.
       Keith Michaels - two portable coolers with custom HDC design logos.
       Bill Dudley - custom fabricated braces for our library shelving.
       Doug Smith - over $4,500 in railroad artifacts and library material.
       Paul McGrath - over $3,000 of railroad artifacts, tools, models, books, track, etc.
       Michael Scherer - installation of lobby spotlights and various electrical wiring.

BUILDING IMPROVEMENTS - The big news for the last two months is the number of improvements that have been made to the Don Owens Center, as we implement our Wendt Grant. We have worked five and six days a week, working with several contractors plus our own volunteers. Substantial work has been completed. We hope to have most of the improvements completed in the next month. Please excuse the dust and debris as we push to completion. If you have a chance, please stop by and see the changes. Below are photo's and a brief summary of all that has been accomplished:

* Food Service Area - We repowered the electrical outlets in the wall, plus added a GFI outlet at the sink and lowered the outlet at the coffee table. We also rewired the overhead lights to operate from a switch at the door.

* Meeting Room - We repowered the electrical outlets in the walls and put the overhead exhaust fan on a separate switch. We also added two LED Exit signs.

* Museum Area - We wired all overhead lights to a switch at the door. We also put the display case lights on its own switch. A security camera was placed overhead.

* Store Area - We installed a new glass wall and door facing into the lobby to serve as a new entrance to the museum. We also added new electrical outlets.

* Lobby - A motion detector and camera was placed in the lobby, along with a reception telephone. We replaced a light fixture and moved and powered two spot lights to highlight wall displays. The overhead lights were wired to a switch at the entrance.

* Kitchen - We created a kitchen opposite the meeting room in order to serve banquets. Two stoves, two refrigerators and a sink were installed. Overhead lights were rewired and new 220 lines and GFI outlets added. A wall was erected to complete the room.

* Men's Room - We demolished the janitor closet to make a more direct entry to the 1st Floor Men's Restroom. A door was installed and a new overhead light fixture. Overhead lights were rewired to a new wall switch.

* Women's Restroom - We removed the shower and installed another toilet. New emergency lights were added outside in the corridor.

* First Floor Corridors - All overhead lights were rewired to switches at the back entry door. Two cameras and motion detectors were installed, along with all new LED exit signs. Half the corridors were painted.

* New Upstairs Restrooms - Two new unisex restrooms were constructed on the second floor, as we had no restrooms on this floor.

* Second Floor Corridors - All corridor overhead lights were rewired to wall switches at the elevator. Two security cameras were installed along with motion detection. New LED exit signs were also installed.

* Library - We created a new library at the north end of the second floor, tripling the size of the old library. A new map room was connected to the library by constructing a new wall. A new glass door was installed and enough metal library shelving to hold over 12,000 books. Overhead lights were rewired to new wall switches. A church pew was cut to size and refinished to serve as reception seating. More work is planned.

* Rental Space - We demolished 25 feet of wall which was the old computer room to create a large meeting room. Overhead lighting was rewired and a large air conditioner removed, as was 600 square feet of raised computer floor. The room was painted and a sink installed. New ceiling tiles and floor tiles completed the work.

* Building Roof - We placed a tarp over a roof air conditioner to prevent leaks during the winter.

* New Telephone System - We installed twelve new instruments in various offices. The new system has paging capability, along with an answering directory function and message service.

* Archive Building - We installed two new outside lights over the entrance doors, which also light up the parking lot, providing extra safety and security.

VISITATION REPORT - We keep records of visitors to the Heritage Discovery Center. Spencer Morgan of the Steel Plant Museum tracks visitors on computer reports. For the year 2012 ending December 31st, we recorded 1,502 visitors. Of these, 94% were from Western New York and the remainder from outside the region. Less than 1% were foreign. We estimate that only 60 to 75% of visitors sign in, so our actual total is probably over 2,000. It was a great year and we are looking forward to more visitors in 2013 as word of the museum spreads. Congratulations to all our volunteers!

Updates - 3/2013

By Ron Dukarm

         Its been a very busy two months at the Heritage DiscoveRY Center with construction, renovation and hosting numerous events as outlined below.

COMMUNITY OUTREACH - February 23rd - We hosted an all-day seminar for a local Boy Scout Troop earning merit badges.
February 23rd - Joe & Leslie Kocsis put on an Appreciation Dinner on for all our volunteers and friends of the Don Owens Center.
February 25th - Ron Dukarm and Nestor Arauz presented a Heritage Discovery Center program for members of the St. Luke's Lutheran Church.
February 6th and March 6th the Steel Plant Museum offered their First Wednesday Program in our meeting room, presenting lectures on steel plant life.
March 7th - Ron Dukarm and Joe Kocsis met with the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation and will consult on creating historic kiosks on railroad history for the Ohio Street Rebuilding Project.
March 16th - Ed Patton exhibited a display of Irish Heritage and greeted parade-goers from the St. Pat's Parade where we provided free parking. The following day Ed was the Honorary Chairman at the Irish Center.
Joe & Leslie Kocsis hosted a Pot-Luck party for our volunteers and supporters right after our March 16th Irish festivities.
March 21st the WNYRHS held our bi-monthly public meeting featuring Geno Dailey.
March 25th - Ron Dukarm, Ed Patton and Mike Vogel presented a program on DL&W waterfront history to the Evans Historical Society.
March 28th - Joe Kocsis, Ed Patton and Don Owens represented the Heritage Discovery center at a public meeting on Buffalo River clean-up.

Ron Dukarm addresses members of St. Luke's Lutheran Church. As new shelves continue to be installed in our Library, they need cleaning before books can be added. Shelia O. on ladder and Barb O. have cleaned many shelves!

Joe & Leslie Kocsis put on an Appreciation Dinner on February 23rd for all our volunteers and friends of the Don Owens Center. Over 45 members and friends got a chance to share stories and admire all that has been accomplished.

WORK ACCOMPLISHED - In the past two months we have completed the following projects as part of our Wendt Grant. Our volunteers have worked very hard in concert with the many contractors who are making improvements at the Don Owens Center.

         - Removed a large air conditioner from the former second floor computer room.
         - Completed construction of our kitchen with new walls and electrical installations.
         - Constructed a wall to create a map room next to the library.
         - Removed the women's room shower and installed a new toilet stall.
         - Removed eight shower stands in the former men's shower room.
         - Repaired roof leaks and tarped over the air conditioner units.
         - Cut in a new door to the Archive Building in order to have direct entry from the main building.
         - Replaced carpeting in the elevator.
         - Constructed a second janitor's closet on the first floor.

Left to Right: Tom Kane and helper finish ceiling and new door work. A new raised floor was installed and finished in one of the offices. Mike Pietrocarlo and Nestor Arauz removed the 8 shower stands in the men's shower room. Finished molding around the Gift Shop Doors.

DONATIONS - We have received the following donations of supplies and railroad artifacts in the past two months. Our sincere thanks to the following for their generous contributions:

Carl Ambuske - An 18-volt Makita Tool Kit including a portable circular saw, saws-all and battery.
Mike Pietrocarlo - Six boxes of office supplies, including paper, staplers, pens, folders, etc.
Steve Koenig - Four boxes of EL and NYC employee records and train orders.
David Hearn - Five EL rule books.
Henry Lipiew - 5-ft long S-gauge model lift bridge.
Rick Henn - Six railroad books.
Ron Dukarm - Coffee, soft drink and water for volunteers.
John Blest - Computer for library cataloging.
Fast Signs Co. - Room number door plates for all rooms plus restroom signs.
Jack Motak - 50 polished glass insulators.
Mike Zollitsch - A framed, limited edition print of Erie's Lancaster Depot.
Hugh Gillaume - Collection of rare 1880's maps, 25 historic railroad depot photos and other RR artifacts.
Steel Plant Museum - 3 140-slide carousels, 2 lighted OPEN signs and steel scrap proceeds for soft drinks.

ITEMS NEEDED - Below is a list of tools, furniture, supplies, etc. which we could use at the HDC. If you have any of these items and can donate them, we would appreciate it:

   1. Socket wrench set.
   2. Saws-all and Hack saws.
   3. Step ladder 5 or 6-foot.
   4. Extension ladder.
   5. Janitorial bucket with wringer.
   6. Vice - bench -mounted.
   7. Portable spotlights.
   8. Scaffolding.
   9. Flag-pole light - solar powered.
   10. Timbers - 4x4x8 ft.
   11. Janitorial supplies.
   12. Paint supplies - brushes, rolls, blue tape, etc.
   13. AM/FM radios.
   14. Wall-mounted baby changer.
   15. Folding tables - 6 or 8 ft.
   16. Two-wheel hand truck.
   17. Metal shelving.
   18. Tool cart on wheels.
   19. Vacuum cleaner.
   20. All type chairs - good condition.
   21. Coat racks.
   22. Paper cutter.
   23. Electric stapler.
   24. Bolt cutters.
   25. Metal storage cabinet 36-inch.
   26. Floor fans.
   27. Portable gravity roller conveyer.
   28. Pegboard sheets 4x8 or 4x4.
   29. Heavy duty 3-hole punch.
   30. Outside commercial lockable mailbox.
   31. Pipe wrenches.
   32. Come-a-long.
   33. Chains.

Updates - 7/2013

By Ron Dukarm

         Its been a very busy Spring and Summer at the Heritage DiscoveRY Center with construction, renovation and hosting numerous events as outlined below.

COMMUNITY OUTREACH - We continued our Irish History Exhibit through mid-April for public viewing. Our thanks to Ed Patton for preparing this informative program.
- On April 6th we participated in "BOOM DAYS" at Silo City. Our thanks to Art Toale, Shelia O'Donnel, Nestor Arauz and Ron Dukarm for preparing and staffing our exhibit.
- On April 9th we hosted a visit by NY State Senator Tim Kennedy and his staff. He toured the Don Owens Center and met with our Board of Directors concerning future funding and projects.
- On April 11th Ron Dukarm met with Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation officials about the history of Ohio Street. Ron proposed that the old Erie RR track be left in place and used as a pathway. The ECHDC will incorporate this track into the final design.
- The Steel Plant Museum held their April and May First Wednesday Programs, all well attended by the public. Lectures were presented on Steel Plant life and work processes.
- On May 13th the Buffalo Lighthouse Association, led by Mike Vogel, hosted a second meeting of over 20 waterfront groups, planning their 2013 summer festival season.
- On May 16th the WNYRHS held their bimonthly public meeting, featuring recent developments at the Heritage Discovery Center. The SPM Art Exhibit was also open for viewing.
- On May 17th the Don Owens Center hosted a reception and grand opening for the Steel Plant Museum's exhibit of "The Art of Steel", featuring artwork by Norman Rockwell. Over 100 members of the public attended.
- On May 23rd the senior citizen group "Get Off Your Seat" toured the Don Owens Center and heard a talk by Don Williams, Mike Maylak and Ron Dukarm.
- On June 4th a busload of senior citizens from the Amberleigh Retirement Home toured the Don Owens Center. Don Williams and Ron Dukarm played hosts.
- On June 5th local historian John Percy presented a program on the Curtis-Wright aircraft manufacturing in Buffalo during WW II as part of the First Wednesday lecture series.
- On June 12th we were visited by a dozen members of Leadership Buffalo who toured the museum to learn more about our activities and our role in the Buffalo River revitalization.

DONATIONS - During the past two months we have had a significant number of donations. Many of the items on our "Wish List" last month were supplied by our members. Our sincere thank you to the following :

- The Buffalo Museum of Science generously donated two more glass display cases.
- Mike Pietrocarlo donated 8 boxes of office supplies and two cabinets.
- Bill Dudley custom fabricated steel braces for our library shelving and provided special fasteners.
- Frank Urbanski donated over 300 railroad magazines, many from the 1940's.
- The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation donated two maps of the Ohio Street redevelopment project.
- John Prybylski donated 3 coat racks, a floor fan, bench vice, hardhat, box of cleaning supplies, box of office supplies, box of TRAINS RR magazines, a framed picture of CB&Q steam, a RR calendar, 8 employee RR magazines and various RR paperwork.
- Jim Long donated a new 6-ft ladder, a new shop vac, and a new 2-wheel hand cart. In addition, he donated funds to purchase 40 new comfortable chairs for the meeting room. The WNYRHS is matching his gift and we will soon have 80 new chairs.
- Bruce Heatley donated a dozen VCR tapes on the NYC, EL and local roads.
- Mike Koenig brought in 6 lanterns, 9 RR books, 2 NYC bridge blueprints, and 6 boxes of timetables, rule books and various RR paperwork.
- John Long donated 8 framed paintings and several boxes of RR paperwork.
- Dale & Eve Madison donated a NYC spoon, bottle & bowl, plus 3 lanterns and 3 RR books.

WORK ACCOMPLISHED - During the past two months our volunteers have continued their efforts to improve the Don Owens Center. We are nearing the end of the major construction which was made possible by our Wendt Foundation grant. For our first six months of this year we have logged over 2,000 volunteer hours, in addition to the hours put in by the Steel Plant Museum, Lighthouse Association and the Buffalo Irish Center. Below is a list of what has been accomplished in the past two months:

   - Restrooms on the first and second floors were painted.
   - A new Janitor Closet was built on the first floor.
   - An additional toilet was installed in the first floor Women's Restroom.
   - Unused copper pipe was removed from the ceiling in the old Shower Room.
   - New glass entry doors were installed in the Gift Shop and WNYRHS Office Area.
   - A baby changer was installed in the upstairs handicap restroom.
   - Stained and missing ceiling tiles were replaced.
   - A glass bulletin board was mounted in the first floor corridor near the restrooms.
   - Room numbers were placed on all doors on the first floor.

In addition to the special projects above, we have the daily chores of cleaning, organizing, repairing and grounds maintenance.
A special thanks to Barb Owens, Nestor Arauz, Frank Klaskov and Carl Ambuske who are regulars in this routine but necessary work.


         This September 20, 21 and 22, the WNYRHS will be hosting the Annual Convention of the Erie Lackawanna Historical Society at the Don Owens Center. Activities start on Friday night with a reception, registration and slide presentations. All day Saturday there will be speakers, programs and vendors selling EL related merchandise. Also, tours are scheduled of the NFTA (ex-DL&W) train sheds and Bison Yard. In the evening is a banquet and a special program with speakers. Sunday may include a possible excursion on a local line. Devan Lawton is coordinating the activities. The convention is also open to non-members. Registration fees and information are posted in the Don Owens Center. You can also go the ERIE LACKAWANNA Historical Society WebSite.

Contact Us: Orchard Park - 716-662-7002       Williamsville - 716-633-7002
WNYRHS Inc., PO Box 416, Buffalo, New York  14231-0416
All Donations to the Heritage Discovery Center are Tax-Deductable!

Back to Top

This page was last updated: January 25th, 2024

Web Site Hosting by    TRAIN WEB

The WNYHDC, Inc. 100 Lee Street, Buffalo, NY. 14210 is an independent organization and has no affiliation with any other local or national group.
The Heritage Center is a fully qualified organization under 501 (C) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code and all donations to the HDC are tax deductible.
©Copyright 2010 , WNYHDC Inc. all rights reserved

  Web Design & Hosted by  - Scott H.