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HGTV Show Featuring Niagara Families to Air Dec. 10

 HGTV Show Featuring Niagara Families to Air Dec. 10

‘Holiday Battle on the Block’, an HGTV show featuring six Niagara families, will air its first episode featuring Niagara Falls’ DeVeaux neighborhood on Dec. 10 at 8 p.m. and an episode featuring Youngstown will air Dec. 17 at 8 p.m..

The cable network was in town for two weeks in Dec. 2009 to film the families as they were put to the challenge in a festive holiday decorating face-off.  During the show, each family was given a healthy budget to design, shop and build something special within 48 hours as they competed for “Best Holiday House” and neighborhood bragging rights. The winners were decided by a panel of local judges.

Both shows will re-air on Dec. 24 at noon and 12:30 p.m.. “Holiday Battle on the Block” is a Cineflix (Holiday Battle) Inc production in association with Scripps Networks LLC (HGTV USA).

Catholic Academy of Niagara Falls Students Send Gifts to Soldiers for Christmas

Catholic Academy of Niagara Falls Students Send Gifts to Soldiers for Christmas

Catholic Academy of Niagara Falls Elementary students adopted a Platoon of 25 soldiers stationed in Afghanistan.  Computer teacher, Pamela Casero's son, SPC Joseph Casero is serving in the Army and is currently stationed in Afghanistan. 

Through Mrs. Casero, the students have learned about military life in Afghanistan and the struggles of the soldiers stationed there.  SPC Casero has written to the students, sent pictures and they've written to him and his Platoon. 

For Christmas, the students collected donations of food, games, magazines, personal items, drink mixes and hand warmers to send to the Platoon, along with letters expressing their gratitude for the soldiers' service.  They also sent cough drops as they learned that sandstorms in Afghanistan cause sore throats for the soldiers. 

Photos show students wrapping the gifts to be sent to the Platoon.

Niagara University Receives $1.5 Million Gift from Alumnus to Establish First Endowed Chair

Niagara University has received a $1.5 million estate gift from alumnus Dr. John J. Hughes to establish the first endowed chair at the university.

The John J. Hughes, ’67 Endowed Chair in Biology will be reserved to support the research, teaching and scholarly activities of a distinguished scientist and serve as a catalyst for Niagara to build upon and expand its programs in the interdisciplinary sciences.

Local Fitness Expert to Celebrate a Decade of Writing for International Strength Magazine

Primordial Strength Inc. President Steven Helmicki, a resident of East Aurora, will celebrate his 10th year of writing for MILO: A Journal For Serious Strength Athletes, in December. Published by IronMind, MILO is the pre-eminent international strength magazine.

Pet Connection Needs Your Immediate Support!

This puppy and countless others like him have been saved thanks to the work done every day at Pet Connection Programs Inc., a nonprofit maternity and urgent care animal shelter in Marilla. Every year, hundreds of dogs, cats, kittens, puppies and other animals are nursed to health and adopted to a loving home thanks to this shelter.

How can you help? Please show your holiday spirit by purchasing tickets to the shelter’s Holiday Dinner Dance & Auction from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday, December 4 at the Hearthstone Manor in Depew. In addition to plenty of food and a huge auction featuring more than 100 prizes, guests will be entertained by Jack Civiletto & The Pyramid Band. One lucky guest will also win a door prize featuring four one-day Disney hopper passes valued at $544!

Local Kids Quiz Harry Potter Stars

OLCOTT, N.Y. (AP) -- A pair of "Harry Potter" fans from western New York got to spring a pop quiz on the star pupils at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Ally Martin and Mackenzie Fitch are 11-year-olds from Olcott, on Lake Ontario in Niagara County. The girls brainstormed questions for The Associated Press to ask during interviews with Daniel Radcliffe and other stars of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1."

Ally and Mackenzie's questions were relayed to the stars in London. Among the questions: Are the actors like the characters they play in the films?

Radcliffe says he and Harry have the same sense of humor and both put a lot of value in their friends.

Emma Watson says she doesn't wish she was her character -- Hermione -- because she's "pretty content" as Emma.

And Rupert Grint says he's grown quite fond of his Ron Weasley character, but adds that a few more heroic moments would be "quite cool."

Local Fitness Instructor Named Ambassador to Sports Legacy Institute

Primordial Strength Inc. President Steven Helmicki of East Aurora was recently named a Sports Legacy Institute Ambassador. The mission of the Sports Legacy Institute is to advance the study, treatment and prevention of the effects of brain trauma in athletes and other at-risk groups. SLI was founded in 2007 to “Solve the Sports Concussion Crisis,” and in 2009, SLI launched programs to also serve military veterans.