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Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014: Pearl River to replace girls basketball coach

   Leading off today: Daniel Lauture's tenure at Pearl River as the replacement for Lorraine Moylan, the winningest girls basketball coach in Rockland County history, is over after one season and a 13-7 record.

   Lauture told The Journal News he met with the players Tuesday to explain he has taken a full-time teaching job in Stamford, Conn., where he lives. Lauture had hoped the tip-off of games could be pushed back from 4:30 p.m. starts to accommodate his commutes, but said AD Todd Santabarbara was "unwilling" to switch.

   "I really don't think it's 'leaving' (Pearl River)," Lauture told the paper. "It feels like I'm being forced out a little."

   Lauture said when he accepted the Pearl River position, he informed Santabarbara that he was looking for a full-time teaching position. When he accepted the Stamford position, Lauture said he did so because of its location and because "I thought I had established a rapport with the administration and athletic department that if any job came along, we could kind of move forward."

   He said numerous opposing coaches were willing to switch game times when they played Pearl River.

   Santabarbara told the paper the coach's new work obligations would not allow enough time to handle all the responsibilities of the job, such as scouting.

   Milestone: Sophomore Marissa Birzone scored four goals as Williamsville East blanked Ellicottville 5-0 in non-league girls soccer Friday. Julianna Panepento and Jess Koch shared the shutout.

   The win was the 300th in the coaching career of Williamsville East's Chris Durr, who is in his 20th season. "It's a nice milestone for me," Durr told The Buffalo News, "but shows I've coached a lot of great players over the years."

   More stellar soccer numbers: Minerva/Newcomb's Makenzie Winslow scored five goals Friday, raising her season total to 34.

   A day earlier, Christian Central outslugged Buffalo's Cardinal O'Hara 10-5 on the strength of junior Tahelah Noal's seven goals to run her career total to 101 -- just three short of the school record. She has 29 goals this season.

   Rejoining the win column: The state's two longest football losing streaks are over.

   Newfield beat Groton 22-14 on Thursday to end its string of misfortune at 22 games. On Friday, South Glens Falls downed Green Tech 20-12 to put a stop to its 19-game losing streak.

   If you 'billed' it, they will come: I'm not sure whether you'll laugh or cry, but I don't think you'll just dismiss this story with a non-committal "hurrumpf."

   The Buffalo News reported recently that work is wrapping up this fall on upgraded athletic facilities in the Niagara Falls School District -- $17 million worth of improvements, to be precise.

   If that sounds like an enormous amount of money, don't feel badly for the residents of Niagara Falls. It's basically everyone except the residents of Niagara Falls who are football site

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paying for the conversion of nine grass fields for baseball, softball, soccer, lacrosse and football to artificial surfaces; the six tennis courts; the addition of two lanes to the outdoor track; a new scoreboard; a new press box; and the construction of the 13,000-square-foot fieldhouse.

   District officials told the paper the outlay, part of a $66.7 million overall capital improvement plan, gives Niagara Falls the largest high school complex of its kind in New York. The funding for the athletics component is fascinating:

    • A $200,000 grant from the Buffalo Bills through the NFL's Grassroots Grant Program.

    • $5.8 million from the State Education Department's office of facilities and planning.

    And, my personal favorite:

    • $11 million ($2.9 million already in the bank; the rest to be covered by future payments) in Niagara River Greenway money via the district's agreement with the New York Power Authority.

    If you're not familiar with the NYPA deal, let me summarize it for you. In 1957, the school district and several other entities agreed to accept a ridiculously small amount of money (some of it specifically earmarked to sports and recreation) from the quasi-governmental agency in return for more or less allowing the NYPA to ship hydropower anywhere and everywhere for 50 years at much cheaper rates than what upstate New York customers have been paying.

    Certainly there were other factors, including an over-reliance upon blue-collar industry that's gone the way of the dinosaur, but more than a few experts attribute a significant amount of the decline of Western New York since World War II to the NYPA drain on the local economy.

    And just to prove it was no fluke the first time, the consortium renewed the NYPA deal in 2007 for another 50 years -- again accepting pennies on the dollar relative to the real worth of the energy being exported outside the area.

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