CHEER: From a dad’s desire to see youth today enjoy some of the cool stuff he experienced as a kid, Kickball in the Parks was born. What started out three years ago as city resident William Bisher’s attempt to organize a “pickup” kickball game in the neighborhood for his son is now a full-fledged summertime kickball league, for youths aged 8 to 18, and it’s backed by the city Youth Board, the Parks and Recreation department and, most significantly, like-minded community members who have donated bases, balls and supplies, along with local business backing for teams. The games in Dolan, Altro and Outwater parks are facilitated by volunteer coaches, referees and assistants, giving more than 200 local youths an opportunity to partake of good, clean, old-fashioned fun on a regular basis, at no cost to them or their parents.

CHEER: Here’s a hopeful sign that things are getting back to “normal” after a pandemic year-plus: The weekly, summertime Lockport Community Farmers Market is set to return home to Canal Street in June. The location of the open-air market had to be changed in 2020, to ensure compliance with then-new and unfamiliar Covid safety protocols including distancing and reduced entry and exit points. Equally terrific, the Common Council last week granted permission to the market operator, Lockport Main Street Inc., to run a second weekly market on Canal Street, on Wednesday afternoons, beginning in July. That promises twice as many chances for residents to connect with local producers during the growing season.

CHEER: The owners of Marvin’s at Widewaters have signaled their intention to court normal, too, by obtaining the city’s permission to host events including concerts on the grounds of the Erie Canal-side drive-in restaurant off Market Street. No performance schedule has been released yet, but 3rd Ward Alderman Mark Devine, Common Council president, says the music lineup consists of “a pretty good list of musicians.” Because the restaurant is in a residential neighborhood, outdoor events are limited to Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, and they must end by 8 p.m. After a year-plus of eerie quiet, (or is that Erie quiet?), these planned live events should be music to everybody’s ears.

JEER: Everybody deserves a second chance; nobody should be defined by a single mistake, agreed. On the other hand, public servants making a living in the criminal justice system should not remain employed in criminal justice after they’ve gone and gotten themselves a criminal record. Niagara County First Assistant Public Defender Vincent Sandonato still has his full-time job after pleading guilty to driving while ability impaired by alcohol, though. The penalties that Sandonato incurred from his June 2020 arrest in Niagara Falls, on the charge driving while intoxicated, ended up consisting of a $555 fine-and-surcharge and a 90-day loss of driving privileges. It’s roughly the same punishment doled out to any first-time offender of the proscription on drinking-and-driving, so it’s fair, one could say, except Sandonato is not your average first-time offender. He has a substantial role in the local justice system and his employer ought to hold him to a higher standard.

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