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Geneva's Double Piano Gift

GENEVA -- Geneva is the honored home to two concert piano talents that would be at home on the best stages of the world's arts capitals.
Meg Heaton and Hilda Collins have been performing together for years and their talent and familiarity make their two-piano performances models of that rare art form.
You can see them free on March 11 at 4 p.m. in the new environs of the Gearan Center for the Performing Arts at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
A great treat without New York City's costly hotel and ticket prices -- right here in Geneva.

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A Letter From Slovakia

                               Having A Ball In Slovakia!

      Well I have no idea how it is already February as I am writing this. January went by way to fast and I have no idea how the next few months will go but I can already tell they will go fast just looking at my calendar. But more about January. After regaining the ability to hear after the blasting fireworks on New Years, just kidding but they were really loud, I had a few days to relax and be at home with my host family. It was really nice to spend the break with them and spend some more time with them before I would be switching! But before I get to that, we switched at the end of the month, much more happened! Starting off after the New Year’s recuperation I went to my hockey practices and that great to play hockey and work off all of the Christmas food! 

I felt so fat the first days and I was incredibly tired trying to play. Then during the week of my break I went to Žilina with my host grandfather to see Soňa! There my host grandpa and I walked around the main square and got lunch at a restaurant where my grandpa had eaten 40 years before! It was amazing that he remembered it, let alone knew where it was! Then spending some time with Soňa was awesome! We talked about lots of things, In Slovak and English and eventually decided we wanted to do a trip around the United States together! So we returned and it was overall a great time in Žilina. Then a few days later Sofie, the Mexican girl in my town, had her birthday! Her family threw a surprise party for her in her house and she loved it! We had pizza and cake and it was awesome to see her so excited and surprised with us!

Then one day our school had a floorball tournament, our teachers allowed us to watch the tournament the whole time so we didn’t have to go to classes but we were on school grounds. There our school won the tournament and will go on to the harder, better class of players in the Counties as we would call it in the US. They could go further if they win the tournament and I think they could! I hope they do as they are good players and it would be exciting to have that team! Then we had a District Rotary Orientation meeting in Poprad. This was a meeting where we learned about our Traveling rules and the forms we have to do to complete them. We also had a language test where I still don’t know the results but I am confident in my abilities. Other than that we walked around Strbske Pleso, a famous area for hiking in the High Tatra Mountains.

If you look up a picture of Slovakia you would probably find a picture of Strbske Pleso! I also met a family which lived about 15 minutes from Piestany. It was great talking with them and it sounds as if they might have a future exchange student in their family! But overall spending time with the other Exchange students is always the highlight. They are my best friends here and they will be friends for life, I am 100% sure of this. It’s hard to describe the connection we have but it’s basically that we have very similar situations and getting to talk about that makes us closer, everyone is always willing to talk with each other and I love that we can connect in so many ways. Further the next weekend we had a Rotary Ball! This was a really interesting night for me because we got to experience a Slovak Ball! There weren’t many differences than a normal ball besides that our President, the host, greeted everyone coming and gave each woman a rose!

This may have just been this ball and not all Slovak ones but I loved it, it was very nice. Us students also had to welcome everyone in our mother language, so for me English, Isadora Portugese, Sofie Spanish, Kris Chinese! It was incredible to hear the 5 different languages one after another! Us students helped a lot during this event and we raised 1014 euroes for our club! I was proud of us for that! Of course there were costs that our club had to pay and its not 100% theirs but it felt good to do that for them! Further on one of my best Slovak friends from my class,

Matej went to New Zealand for 1 year! He is not a Rotary Student but I was excited and sad to see him go! I know he will have an awesome time there! But before he left he and his family had a small get together with his closest friends and I was invited. I felt so honored to be there for him and wished him the best for when he would go! Then my host aunt had a birthday party where we went out for lunch and had a wonderful time the day before I would change families. Talking with them and being with almost the whole family was great! I was excited and sad to be leaving my first host family because I truly feel that I am part of their family. I was treated like a son in all ways and they will always have a place in my heart. Then the next day we switched families and living with them for some time was different but all is well! I am still learning what to do here and to build a relationship like my first family it takes time and effort. But I know they are good people and want the best for me!

I am still playing hockey every week and I have started playing basketball on Sundays. School is going better and my classmates, besides exchange students, are my best friends. They are awesome people who are really dedicated to school and succeeding, but still know how to have fun when they have the time! I also may be starting to play in a “Village Hockey league” Where I could play in games! I am incredibly excited because it is looking as if it will go through and I would love to get that competitive spirit out again in hockey! I am also planning some trips around Slovakia and to the Czech Republic with our new freedom of traveling. I really would like to take advantage of this and see as much as I can!

Some other thoughts are that I am doing incredible. I am so happy here and I don’t know what I will do when I get back. I am already done with half of my exchange and it has gone by in the blink of an eye and that was supposed to be the slower part?!?! All in all I am so thankful to be here and that I have been so lucky in so many ways meeting new people and being able to just experience so many new things!

  are some picture from events during the month!

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On February 11th from 2:00-4:30 PM, the Foundation for Geneva Public Library offers its fourth annual signature event, A Taste of Jazz: an Afternoon at the Geneva Public Library.

The event, sponsored by Wegmans, includes music from John Russo’s East Hill Classic Jazz Band as well as wine courtesy of Billsboro Winery, Ultimate Cakes, treats, and beverages provided by Wegmans, and wine glasses provided by the Herzig Group. The popular musical event transforms what is typically a quiet reading area in the original portion of the Geneva Public Library. “The space takes on an entirely new, lively ambiance with the combination of music and conversation,” said Library Director Chris Finger.

Tickets for A Taste of Jazz are $20 each in advance and $25 at the door on the day of the event. They are available at any Wegmans’ Customer Service Desk or at the Geneva Public Library. The ticket price includes three wine tastings. Wine will also be available for purchase by the glass or bottle. All proceeds from the event benefit the Foundation for Geneva Public Library, whose mission is to help provide a firm financial basis for the Library.

A Taste of Jazz is a true labor of love for all of us” said Nancy Bauder, President of the Foundation for Geneva Public Library. “This offering reflects the passion Geneva has for its library as well as its love for great music, food, and community.”

Founded by Geneva native John Russo, the East Hill Classic Jazz Band has evolved into one of the Finger Lakes’ finest traditional jazz preservation musical organizations. Along with returning favorites, Russo, guitarist Douglas Robinson, bassist London McDaniels, and vocalist Sally Ramirez, this year’s band also includes banjo virtuoso Drew Frech. Frech, an Eastman School graduate, has devoted his life to playing and teaching banjo as well as preserving banjo literature. When asked about his approach to performing Classic Jazz successfully in this modern era, John Russo noted that he always searched for “The finest musicians, who play from the heart and not for the money”. In addition to their work with the ensemble, each of the artists joining Russo leads successful and active bands of their own.

John Russo has experienced a varied musical career, including early years teaching all levels from grade school to college, to performing, composing, recording centered in the competitive cultural mecca of Ithaca. Russo grew up in Geneva and studied music at the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music. His band appeared at Carnegie Hall’s Isaac Stern Auditorium in 2003 and has performed at Geneva on the Lake and at Taughannock Falls State Park for many years.

For more information about the event, please contact Geneva Public Library Director Chris Finger at 315-789-5303 ext.106.

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Letter From Slovakia -- December 2017


SLOVAKIA -- Holy cow December went by incredibly fast. I have no idea how it’s already over and the Christmas markets are closed and even Christmas is over! But with a new country comes new traditions for a big holiday such as Christmas and I’m excited to let you know all about it! I did a lot more traveling too in and I’m excited to share the pictures of the beautiful cities!

                So starting off I would like to talk about the holidays that they have here so they have a bit more than us in December but they don’t have thanksgiving like we do so I guess it makes sense. First off they have Mikuláš, and that is the coming of St. Nikolas, he only comes to those kids with clean shoes! He won’t give anything if your shoes are dirty!! But with a pair of freshly cleaned shoes. I got a gift from Mikuláš a wonderful bag of goodies, chocolates, toothpaste, sweets and more! Now I think that it was more for younger children, and for people to clean their shoes but I did it anyways. I wanted clean shoes and I got rewarded for it! The other holidays are of course the normal holidays of Christmas and New Year’s, but Slovak people have their own twist to it. Their giving gifts day is Štedrý deň the 24th of December. The typical day of opening gifts and the big dinner and being with the family. For tradition most people eat oplatky s medom (think of really thin crepes but crunchy and honey) kapustnica(cabbage soup) and carp. My family had these and more. We had mushroom soup, carp, mashed potatoes and potato salad. The carp was alright, it had a ton of bones and didn’t taste very good to me (prepáč pre slovaci ktory prečital tomu). My host brother actually caught the carp in summer and they kept it frozen until now, a little interesting bit! Other than the carp the soups, potatoes and everything else was great! After dinner we opened presents and my family was really thoughtful with their gifts and I was happy to see them open mine! But being with this family for all this time has really made me feel as they are like family. With family over and everyone being involved and talking was just like home. The next holiday is the 25th of December “Christmas day” Vianoce and this is a day about going to see family and spending time more with cousins, aunts and uncles. We went to my dad’s side parents and I got to meet some host cousins, they were older but nice to meet! The 3rd and final “Christmas” Holiday was Štefana where my family went to the 2nd grand parent’s home and we joined some neighbors for a small gathering to celebrate Vianoce! I ate a lot of food, I think that no matter where we go Christmas and lots of food go together. Finally, New Years. New Years was very fun. I went to the city center and saw lots of classmates and friends. There were lots of fireworks but the fireworks were pretty different.  The fireworks weren’t very controlled, it was more people setting them off and running away and that was all. At exactly 00:00h that was when the most were shot off and you couldn’t hear yourself think and I was totally mesmerized by the sight. Booms so loud you couldn’t think, and the lights bright as a sunny day. It was an awesome experience, being with friends and seeing all the fireworks. \

                We also had a Rotary meeting from the 9th to the 11th of December where we went to Bratislava and Vienna and had an awesome time together. In Bratislava the night we got there we went to the main castle and it was a wonderful castle but after traveling, school, and a rainy cold December night we were a little cranky. The next day we went to Vienna where we toured a Palace and I don’t remember how it was called but it was huge and beautiful.  Then we walked around Vienna a little more with a Rotex who was studying there for college. I was talking with him in Slovak for a very short time, just small conversation and he asked me if I was Rotex or where I was from, I told him that I was an Inbound and he was totally astonished by my ability to speak Slovak. I was proud of myself for that! Then we had free time to wander about the Christmas markets and that was my favorite part! We also did a secret Santa where I had get a gift for the Rotex president! Her present was a Santa hat with a light that blinked and some chocolate and she loved it! Then we danced and sang to all types of music (Slovak, English, Spanish, and Portuguese) and it was wonderful an amazing mix of all types of culture! We also had a Slovak test during this Rotary meeting, the test was not easy but I ended up with the highest grade of all Slovak inbounds! I was really proud of myself for this! But I still have much more to learn in Slovak, especially about cases. I know that other people did very well and I ended up with the highest grade. 

Below are some pictures from Vienna! (Post continued below!)

Then I also had about a week and a half off of school in December and during the first weekend I went skiing with my host family, if you know me well then you would know that skiing is weird for me! I usually snowboard but this year I decided to change it up and try something new! We went to one ski resort the first day where I had my first full day on Skis and the 2nd day we went to Jasna the best ski resort in Slovakia! It was beautiful there! Besides the fog on most of the day when we saw the sun is was always incredible. Then I spent a lot of time at home with my host family and that was really nice to be able to spend this holiday with them as mentioned before! I really feel that I am part of the family and I’m a sad to be leaving. But I already know my second family and I know they are a very good people as well.

During the first weeks of December I had school. I am starting to be able to understand some classes more but it is still very difficult for me to follow everything. But still often I study Slovak or read books during the classes I don’t understand enough. But school is going well, my classmates are all wonderful. But I’m happy I already finished high school! I also started going to a Slovak hour with the 3 other exchange students and I really enjoy going there. For me it is usually simple but I am always learning the most there. My teacher is wonderful and is actually an English teacher at the language school but also knows Slovak, well because she is a Slovak woman!

All in all I learned a lot about Slovak culture and from my exchange friends what they do for the holidays! I'm rieally enjoy my time here. Majte sa krasne! 

- James G. Williams is a 2017 graduate of Geneva High School. He is spending a gap year on a Rotary International Fellowship, sponsored by the Geneva Rotary Club. He writes occasionally for Geneva Now.

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Finger Lakes Politics

Reed Opponents Gathering 

GENEVA -- The field for Democrats seeking to take on Republican Congressman Tom Reed in November is growing. Finger Lakes voters will get an early look at the field in a special event on Tuesday, Jan. 23 at the Smith Opera House. Candidates will make presentations on their desire to take on Reed.

Reed's 23rd district has been gerrymandered to favor a Republican, but the opposition to Reed has been growing as national issues supported by Reed, in some views, have been running counter to the interests of the majority of 23rd district residents. The recent federal tax cut legislation, which Reed supported, eliminated deductions for state and local taxes, arguably reducing the value of every home in his district by 20 percent or more. Reed has also voiced continued support for President Donald Trump amid declining support for the president across the U.S.

Democrats have had difficult times countering the Republican-leaning rural sections of the 23rd, which stretches along the Pennsylvania border and includes Geneva, Ithaca and much of the Southern Tier. Some analysts believe Reed's votes in supporting the Trump agenda may make him vulnerable this year.

The event is scheduld for 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Smith Opera House on Seneca Street in Geneva.





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The Geneva Historical Society will host two meetings in January to solicit community input on a facilities expansion project. The meetings will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, January 17 and at 10 a.m., Saturday, January 20 at the Geneva Historical Society, 543 South Main Street.
In the summer of 2015, the Geneva Historical Society formed a task force to explore options for expanding the storage area for its collections. The Geneva Historical Society collection consists of approximately 7,000 three-dimensional objects, 2,000 costumes and textiles, 1,300 cubic feet of archival materials and 50,000 photographs. The collections storage areas are currently at capacity. According to Executive Director Kerry Lippincott, "We are bursting at the seams. Items are stored in every available space. This makes tracking and moving items for exhibits challenging. It is also does not provide the best conditions for the long term preservation of our artifacts."

In recent years, staff at the Historical Society have implemented several temporary solutions, including being more selective in accepting items into the collection, re-organizing the archival collection space, and deaccessioning objects that do not meet the Historical Society's mission.
The Collections Storage Task Force was divided into three subcommittees. Each subcommittee explored a possible solution to the storage problem. One explored expanding the Prouty-Chew House, home of the Historical Society's offices, the Geneva History Museum, and the majority of the Historical Society's collections. A second subcommittee looked at building a storage facility on the grounds at Rose Hill Mansion. The final subcommittee investigated leasing, buying, or building a facility in Geneva with the possibility of selling the Prouty-Chew House. After identifying, vetting and passing on over 35 buildings and potential build sites, this subcommittee determined the third option was not viable.
Over the past year, Beardsley Architects and Engineers in Auburn completed feasibility studies exploring expansion at Rose Hill or the Prouty-Chew House. These studies will be shared and discussed at the January meetings.The Historical Society is seeking community input on its plans and both meetings will be open to the public.
For further information about the meetings or the collections storage planning process, please contact Kerry Lippincott at 315-789-5151 or                         

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