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Revitalize Dunkirk to hear plans for Dunkirk’s Winterfest activities

Notoriously unreliable weather makes planning outdoor winter events in our area tricky, but the city of Dunkirk is rising to the challenge. When Deputy Director of Development EJ Hayes addresses Revitalize Dunkirk’s January meeting, he will outline plans for Winterfest, scheduled for Feb. 9, that take into account the possibilities of an unfrozen lake and little or no snow.

Winterfest will offer food, entertainment and recreational activities for both kids and adults, and volunteers from Revitalize Dunkirk will assist by staffing a hospitality, information and warming area located in the Clarion’s pavilion. Those interested in learning more are welcome to attend Hayes’ presentation at Revitalize Dunkirk’s upcoming meeting on Jan. 17, at 6:30 p.m., at the Fredonia Technology Incubator, 214 Central Ave., Dunkirk.

At its November year-end meeting, Revitalize Dunkirk members and guests heard from Jane Babinsky, director of the Dunkirk Historical Museum, who impressed attendees with a detailed discussion of initiatives she and her board of directors are undertaking to reinvigorate both the Dunkirk Historical Society and the museum. They are creating a new website that will include PayPal capabilities, so they can accept membership payments and donations electronically, as well as sell gift shop items on-line.

She was pleased to announce that in October, Dunkirk High School yearbooks from 1950-1989 were digitized for the museum at no charge by Oklahoma Correctional Industry inmates. Plans are underway to do this for yearbooks from 1990-2018, and there are hopes of having this done for older yearbooks, as well. Historical Society members anticipate museum visitors being able to enjoy vintage DHS yearbook pictures running as a slideshow during special events.

In addition, staff and volunteers are being trained to use museum software called PastPerfect that allows for accurate and efficient cataloguing of collections, as well as generation of acknowledgment and thank you letters for donated items, memberships and contributions. Babinsky also outlined a series of fundraising plans to establish an endowment and pay for necessary repairs and updates to the building.

Other new initiatives include an Education Committee which plans to develop kits of local information and artifacts that teachers could sign out and use to teach about Dunkirk’s history. Exhibits, which have been largely static in recent years, will be changed on a regular basis. November’s featured display commemorated the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI, and a Victorian parlor setting, decorated for the holidays, graced the museum’s December 15 holiday open house.

Area residents who haven’t been to the Dunkirk Historical Museum recently — or ever — are encouraged to drop by 513 Washington Ave. to find out some of the many interesting stories about the place we call home and the people who built it. Museum winter hours are Monday and Friday, 1-4 p.m.

In subsequent discussion, Babinsky reacted positively to Paul Somerfeldt’s suggestion that Revitalize Dunkirk team up with the Dunkirk Historical Society and city officials to plan a 75th anniversary celebration in 2021 of the original Dunkirk to Dunkerque Day in 1946.

During the business portion of the meeting, President Jim Fisher reported that at the last board meeting, the directors agreed to continue to push for a rental registry. Although the Floramo Plan has been largely abandoned as unworkable, Dunkirk city councilman Mike Civiletto explained that city government is studying an Erie, Pa., plan which seems to be a successful working model.

Also, after demonstrated interest from the general membership present at the October meeting, the board decided to form an ad hoc committee in the new year to investigate possible public uses of undeveloped, city-owned land at Battery Point, adjacent to the sewage treatment plant. Somerfeldt passed around computer-generated maps he created so members could familiarize themselves with the size and location of the targeted parcel and announced a hike of the area planned for May.

Mary Rees reported that the Beautification Committee’s focus for 2019 will be a variety of community trash reduction projects including procuring more trash bins for public areas that lack enough or any, particularly on the beaches at Wright Park and Pt. Gratiot. Non-trash-related projects from previous years such as the hanging baskets and Adopt-a-Garden will continue, with 15 additional baskets planned for the 100 and 200 blocks of Central Ave. and a few more to be added to 4th St.

Revitalize Dunkirk’s 2019 membership drive continues. The group is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that advocates ideas to community members and elected officials for improved urban living, as well as sponsoring events and projects intended to make Dunkirk a more desirable place to live, work and play.

Meetings are from January through November on third Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. in the Fredonia Technology Incubator, 214 Central Ave., Dunkirk. As always, anyone interested in sharing community improvement ideas, or finding out more about Revitalize Dunkirk, is welcome at its meetings and warmly invited to attend those featuring guest speakers on topics in which they are especially interested.

Email revitalizedunkirk@gmail.com, or visit www.facebook.com/revitalizedunkirk or www.revitalizedunkirk.com for more information on the group’s mission, projects and activities.

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