Dyster publicizes “Warming Centers”, but not in free Reporter

It's on you. If you know somebody who is at risk for being outside in this brutally cold weather, phone the Niagara Falls Police Department. You could be saving a life.

It’s on you. If you know somebody who is at risk for being outside in this brutally cold weather, phone the Niagara Falls Police Department. You could be saving a life.

Winter is taking a turn for the worse here in Niagara Falls today and tomorrow, with wind chills in the negative numbers and the temperature plummeting to single digits.

At around 7 pm Wednesday, the Buffalo News and the Niagara Gazette both reported on their web sites that Mayor Paul Dyster issued a press release notifying the two newspapers that “warming centers” at three locations in the city were available for shelterless people to come in from the cold. The Niagara Falls Reporter did not receive the press release.

“While the city of Niagara Falls has missed out on much of the snowfall hitting the bulk of Western New York, it is crucial that we ensure that all community members are aware of the resources available to them as we prepare for the bitter cold temperatures in store this week and throughout the winter season… We ask that anyone who may know of someone without a safe, warm place to stay encourage them to seek shelter at one of the warming centers available to them, or reach out to one of our Niagara Falls police officers who will be able to help coordinate shelter,” said Mayor Dyster, as quoted in the Gazette.

“The City of Niagara Falls Police Department is prepared to do its part to make sure those in need have a warm place to stay,” added Police Supt. Bryan Dalporto in the News, “If you or someone you know is in need of shelter, I encourage you to approach any officer and we will help you obtain it.”

It stands to reason that homeless persons, for the most part, and we could be wrong, generally don’t have access to the internet after 7 pm, unless they’re at the Niagara Falls Public Library, which is open until 9 pm, and therefore the Dyster press release may escape their notice. They could access the free wifi at McDonald’s on Pine Avenue or Burger King on Main, but that would be assuming that they have a smart phone, or are carrying around a laptop computer in their shopping cart with which to keep up on emergency dispatches from city government.

In all fairness, had we received the press release like the other two papers did, it would have been duly posted to our website as well to decidedly minimal effect. The print edition of these newspapers, well, that may be another story.

Both the Gazette and the News cost $1 at the newsstand, while the Reporter is free. There’s no value judgement attached to this statement – it’s simply the business model of the other two newspapers to charge for a copy of their paper, and it works for them.

What works for the Reporter is being free at hundreds of locations throughout the city of Niagara Falls as well as most of Niagara County. That means that a homeless person who might not have a dollar to spend on a newspaper may, on the other hand, be inclined to pick up a copy of the free paper that’s available right at the front door of numerous small businesses, and find out about warming centers.

What works for Mayor Dyster is getting a story in the newspapers promoting him as the humanitarian we know him to be.

The three warming centers are located at:

Community Missions of the Niagara Frontier, 1590 Buffalo Ave., open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Niagara Rescue Gospel Mission, 1023 Ferry Ave., where those in need can register for a room and meals at the warming center.
John A. Duke Senior Citizens Center, 1201 Hyde Park Boulevard, open daily for those looking for a place to escape the cold.

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