November 19, 2015
Fate Uncertain For Rare White Deer At Former Weapons Depot
By Mary Esch
Romulus, NY (AP) Hundreds of ghostly white deer roaming among overgrown munitions bunkers at a sprawling former Army weapons depot face an uncertain future after living and breeding largely undisturbed since the middle of last century.
The white deer, a genetic quirk that developed naturally on the 7,000-acre, fenced-in expanse, have thrived, even as the depot itself has transitioned from one of the most important Cold War storehouses of bombs and ammunition to a decommissioned relic.
Now, as local officials seek to put the old Seneca Army Depot up for bids next month, there is concern that the sale could also mean the end of the line for the unusual white deer. A group of residents dedicated to saving the animals has proposed turning the old depot into a world-class tourist attraction to show off both its rich military history and its unusual wildlife. The Nature Conservancy also is looking at options for preserving the largely undeveloped landscape.
``When we ran bus tours on a limited basis between 2006 and 2012, we had people come from all over the United States to see the deer,’’ said Dennis Money of Seneca White Deer Inc. ``People are enchanted by them.’’
The white deer owe their continued existence to 24 miles of rusting chain-link perimeter fencing that went up when the depot was built in 1941, capturing several dozen wild white-tailed deer in the area’s extensive woodlands. The white deer are natural genetic variants of the normal brown ones. They’re not albinos, which lack all pigment, but are leucistic, lacking pigment only in their fur.
One of the deer in Romulus, NY
In the wild, white deer are short-lived, being easy targets for predators and hunters looking for a unique trophy. Small herds of white fallow deer roam protected sites in Ireland and on the campus of the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, but the Seneca Army Depot has the largest known population of white white-tailed deer, Money said.
With protection from the Army and its fence, the Seneca white deer have grown to an estimated 200. If buyers take down the fence, the white deer aren’t expected to last long.
For now, the white deer, and about 600 brown ones, roam woods and fields surrounding overgrown weapons storage bunkers, cracked roads and rusted railroad tracks. In the bright sunshine of midday, small groups of deer can be glimpsed in mowed lanes and clearings maintained by the Army. But early morning and evening are the best time to see them, and cars pull over along bordering public highways as people stop to watch. Visitors aren’t allowed inside the fence.
``They’re a huge tourist attraction,’’ said Lisette Wilson, who runs a farm store and bakery with her husband across the highway from the depot fence. ``People are astonished. It’s quite the spectacle for them.’’ The store’s most popular product is ``White Deer Poop,’’ a confection made of white chocolate, almonds and cranberries, she said.
``I see white deer every day,’’ Wilson said. ``They’re beautiful animals. I’m very concerned they’ll lose their habitat when the property is sold.’’
The depot, completed a month before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, provided for the ordnance storage needs of the nation for 60 years. It covered an area larger than the city of Syracuse, 40 miles to the northeast, and stored bombs and ammunition in 500 steel-and-concrete bunkers called igloos.
The Army Corps of Engineers has maintained the site during environmental cleanup operations since the depot closed in 2000. The Army plans to finish cleanup work by the end of next year, leaving the land and its deer under the care of new owners.
Bob Aronson, executive director of the Seneca County Industrial Development Agency, said his goal is to sell the whole parcel by the end of the year to one or several buyers. All offers will be considered, he said, noting that the greatest interest has been from farmers who would graze cattle and grow crops.
Seneca White Deer has launched a fundraising drive in hopes of buying at least 2,000 to 3,000 acres, if not the whole site, for a tourist attraction and wildlife preserve, Money said.
Jim Howe, director of The Nature Conservancy’s regional chapter, said the preservation group is conferring with several groups about protecting the former depot’s wildlife habitat while opening it for recreation, tourism and sustainable economic development.
Another hope for the deer has come from Aronson’s offer to the towns of Varick and Romulus, where the depot lies, that they can have the land within their borders for a dollar if they want to market it themselves.
Varick Town Supervisor Bob Hayssen said his town is considering that deal.
``If we get it,’’ he said, ``we’ll earmark 1,000 acres as an eco-park for the white deer.’’
Coffeehouse Finds Lack Of Wi-Fi Makes Friends Of Strangers
By Ann Butler
The Durango Herald
Durango, CO (AP) After working in the technology field, Durango’s newest purveyor of coffee made a conscious decision to exclude it from his new Bedhead Coffeehouse. He does not offer Wi-Fi to customers.
``I would walk into coffee shops, and Wi-Fi tended to create a `1984’ feel,’’ said Patrick Booth, the proprietor of the coffeehouse at 929A Colorado Highway 3, which opened in April. ``Everyone had their heads down, and they were focused on their computers. It didn’t feel welcoming.’’
Booth did a lot of homework before opening Bedhead, researching other coffee shops and touring a number in Denver and Boulder. While attending the American Barista & Coffee School in Portland, Oregon, he had an assignment to survey a different coffee shop before class each day and afterward when possible. That helped him narrow down further what he wanted in his business.
``I always had in mind an old-fashioned coffeehouse, when they were almost a place of revolution,’’ Booth said, talking about European coffeehouses in the 1600s, where the Enlightenment is said to have been born. ``There was a debate between clergy, where some thought it was evil, some thought good, and coffeehouses were shut down and opening up. It was alluring to have a place where people could be themselves, a place that brought in an eclectic variety from all walks of life.’’
His philosophy for Bedhead has several aspects, Booth said.
``There’s also a spiritual aspect for whatever practice people want to follow,’’ he said, ``and it’s a very simple place, where people can just rest.’’
Cutting off the umbilical cord of wireless access doesn’t seem to be hurting business much, he said.
``I can count on one hand the people who left when they found out I didn’t have it,’’ he said. ``It’s so minimal, I’m not willing to change. The majority of customers who come in and ask if I have Wi-Fi, they just sit down and relax with their coffee when they find out I don’t. They’ll take out a book, get out a piece of paper and start doodling - it’s gratifying they’re exercising different parts of their brains.’’
One woman sat him down and told him he’d have more business if he offered Wi-Fi, he said.
``I asked her `How many people have you met here, how many friends did you make, because I didn’t have Wi-Fi?’’’ Booth said. ``She and her son come in and play chess all the time.’’
The games add to the social ambience of the setting, which is clean and uncluttered. In addition to chess, Booth offers the African-stone game Mancala as well as the surprisingly popular Magic 8 Ball. Other games may be in Bedhead’s future.
``The games were my wife’s idea,’’ he said, ``and they’re fabulous from a social perspective. I’m trying to organize a chess club and make the space available to small groups for after hours.’’
Bedhead also offers The Durango Herald and The New York Times.
``They’re there to prompt conversation, stir up things and get people thinking,’’ he said.
Booth has enjoyed observing people’s reactions to his space.
``People will come in and ask for a cup to go,’’ he said, ``and when they finish it, they will have played four games, when they didn’t even have the intention of sitting down. It’s got to have a positive impact on their lives, even if they only turn off for 10 minutes and talk to their neighbor, that’s a start.’’
Pre-coffeehouse, coffee had already played a pivotal role in his life.
Booth met his wife, Ruth Cutcher, while standing in line at Durango Coffee Co., while in town to do some mountain biking.
``We didn’t like the coffee,’’ he said, ``so we went up to Steamworks (Brewing Co.) and got a table to talk.’’
While he had been pulling shots at home since the mid-1990s, it wasn’t until a project to redevelop Skype from the ground up for then-owner eBay came along that the agility coach - a project manager - began becoming a connoisseur of the bean that has taken America by storm. The Skype team brought in an ``influx’’ of specialty coffees, he said.
``I became kind of a coffee fanatic,’’ Booth said. ``Like some customers, I couldn’t find the coffee I wanted.’’
And now he’s making the coffee he likes - no dark roasts, which increases bitterness - and watching his customers get to know each other.
``It’s playing out very much like I had hoped,’’ Booth said. ``I’m hoping to keep the spirit alive, but it’s not something I’m doing, it’s up to the patrons of Bedhead Coffeehouse.’’
Yoga For Children Provides Guidance For Calming Emotions
By Stacey Becker
Dubuque, IA (AP) Molly Schreiber softly asked her little yogis to bring their hands to their heart center.
Four-year-old Via Castaneda-Henkel, who sat contently in her daddy’s lap, placed her palms together. Her little feet dangled over his crossed legs.
With an effortless bow, the little yogis and their adult counterparts welcomed each other with namaste at Body & Soul Wellness Center and Spa.
More and more children are learning to meld their body, mind and spirit through the ancient practice of yoga.
Children substantially increased the practice of yoga between 2007 and 2012, according to a February 2015 study published in National Health Statistics Reports. Overall, 3.1 percent of children ages 4 to 17 years used yoga in 2012, up from 2.3 percent in 2007.
Schreiber, owner of Challenge to Change, encourages parents to ``give your child the gift of yoga.’’ She said yoga helps calm the mind in a fast-paced world.
This year, Schreiber started to teach her toddler yoga class for children ages 2 to 5. It incorporates deep-breathing exercises, poses and peace within yoga.
``In the toddler setting, I like to keep it really small. Then you can give them special attention,’’ Schreiber said.
The Telegraph-Herald reports four children are enrolled in her 9-month toddler yoga session. Parents practice yoga with the youngsters in class.
``It actually made me a little nervous,’’ Schreiber said. ``I was surprised at how much I love it.’’
Lora Fuller, with Kneaded Health and Wellness in Peosta, Iowa, instructs various sessions for children 6 weeks to 12 years at Unified Therapy Services.
``It helps with stimulating and calming reflexes, builds muscle tone and promotes bonding with parents,’’ Fuller said of toddler yoga.
Schreiber offers multiple sessions for toddler and kids yîoga for children up to 12 years old.
Dubuque resident Jason Henkel and his wife, Kristina Castaneda, routinely practice yoga with their daughter, Via.
``It’s awesome,’’ Henkel said ``Yoga has made a huge impact in my life and her mom’s life.’’
Schreiber’s toddler yoga class is the first time Henkel has participated in a yoga class with his daughter.
Four-year-old Maggie Pape, of East Dubuque, Illinois, practices yoga poses with her mother, Melissa, in Schreiber’s toddler yoga class.
The youngster’s favorite pose is downward dog. ``I don’t know why. I just like dogs,’’ Maggie said.
Melissa Pape, whose 8-year-old child, Marley, participates in a kids yoga class, said she has seen numerous benefits from yoga. Breathing techniques, for instance, come in handy at home. Pape said whenever her children enter tantrum mode, she asks them to breathe through their nose and out their mouth.
``They can learn to be calm and control their emotions,’’ she said.
Kara Bunte, of Dubuque, watched her youngest, 3-year-old Sam Klavitter, develop skills to calm himself through yoga. She enjoys their yoga time together.
``For me, it’s a time that we can do something that is together,’’ Bunte said.
Routine is key for toddler yoga. Schreiber begins with Om chants, a welcome and sun salutation.
``That’s what they know is going to happen,’’ she said.
She tells the toddlers what they’ll do for the day, which includes literature and at least one new activity.
``With the toddlers, I have to constantly be changing the activity,’’ Schreiber said.
Routine continues at the end of class. Toddlers either snuggle beside their parent, rest on their parent’s belly or lay next to their parent to meditate. It ends with namaste.