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Three Niagara County Community College students – Alexandra Gancasz of Barker, Charitie Bruning of Lockport and Kensia Russell of Appleton – were honored with the 2013 Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence in Albany recently. The three were among 243 students honored statewide.

The Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence honors SUNY students who have integrated academic excellence with other areas of their lives, including leadership, campus involvement, athletics, career achievement, community service, or creative and performing arts.

Gancasz has an overall GPA of 4.0 and has been on the Dean’s List and in the NCCC Honor’s program for the past three semesters. She is a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, president of the Tutor Club, secretary of student senate and an orientation leader. She has also been involved in community service projects and has gone on summer mission trips with Reach Work camps for the past six years, fixing up houses.

Bruning is an accomplished musician who recently performed as a percussionist in the Lake Plains production of “Sweeney Todd.” She is a student tutor and participates in the NCCC Teacher Education Club. Bruning won the Lockport Family YMCA 2011 Leader of the Year Award where she is an active volunteer, having accumulated over 1,000 hours of volunteer service, focusing on community service, teaching and leadership. Her career goal is to become a secondary education teacher in special education.

Russell, who is pursuing a degree in music, actively assists students with rehearsals and music interpretation as a piano accompanist. She also teaches voice and piano lessons. Russell has been involved in numerous community projects and activities at the Buffalo City Mission, the Newfane Health Facility, and Grace Bible Church, where she leads worship services with piano, voice and guitar.

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Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation (NTCC) has named Jeff Pease director of marketing and communications. Pease will direct all marketing, advertising and public relations plans at NTCC and increase the visibility and recognition of Niagara USA and its assets as a leisure and convention destination.

Pease was most recently the marketing and admissions manager at the National Statler Center for Careers in Hospitality Service at the Olmsted Center for Sight. Prior to that role, he was manager of creative development for 16 years at Azerty Inc. in Orchard Park.

He holds a master of fine arts and executive MBA degrees from the University at Buffalo.

“With Jeff’s strong leadership skills and pleasant demeanor, and his vast experience as a creative marketing professional, he has the knowledge and abilities to develop and implement existing and new campaigns, online initiatives and brand development to achieve measurable goals,” said John Percy, president and CEO. “NTCC is pleased to bring him on board and see him strengthen existing relationships with our constituents and promote Niagara USA to an international audience.”

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Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation received honorable mention in Ragan’s PR Daily Media Relations Awards 2012, in the grand prize media relations campaign of the year category, for the “Wallenda Walk at Niagara Falls”.

The “Wallenda Walk at Niagara Falls” was recognized for promoting the Niagara USA brand and telling a story to an international audience through great communication skills, hard work and talent.

The Ragan Awards competitions are the most prestigious in the public relations and corporate communications industry, with nearly 800,000 monthly readers.

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Travel Media Showcase Family Travel has selected Niagara USA as its host city for the 2013 Family Travel Conference. The three-day event will be held Sept. 20-22, at the Sheraton at the Falls Hotel and Conference & Events Center Niagara Falls. Over 40 top family travel journalists from leading media outlets are expected to attend. In addition to Niagara Falls, the group will tour attractions throughout the county.

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Niagara USA was selected by NBC Universal Media to be included as a destination prize for a lucky audience member, during a live taping of “Today with Kathie Lee & Hoda” in February.

In partnership with various hospitality and tourism properties in Niagara, the package (valid throughout 2013) includes: Three-night stay for two at The Giacomo; tickets to Maid of the Mist, Cave of the Winds, Niagara Scenic Trolley, Niagara Adventure Theatre, Aquarium of Niagara, Discovery Center, Old Fort Niagara, Whirlpool Jet Boat, Lockport Locks & Erie Canal Cruises, Lockport Cave & Underground Boat Ride; Niagara Wine Trail; and Herschell Carrousel Museum; $100 gift card to Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls; private cooking class or dinner for two at Savor at the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute; spa treatment for two and dinner at the Barton Hill Hotel & Spa; half-day guided fishing on the Lower Niagara River; and airfare and transportation while in Niagara.

“Appearing on Today with Kathie Lee & Hoda in front of a live audience and having that national exposure is invaluable to the destination,” said John Percy, president & CEO of Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation. “We look forward to welcoming the lucky winner and a guest to explore our region.”

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Niagara Falls USA was ranked fourth in Byways Magazine’s “Top 50 Group Tour Destinations” list. Byways features North America’s leading travel destinations. Each year the magazine surveys the leading tour operators in the USA and Canada to determine where their groups will be headed in the new year. It also reports on the Top 30 Group Tour States, the Top 10 Group Friendly Hotels, the Top Group Friendly Restaurants, and the Top Natural and Manmade attractions.

email: citydesk@buffnews.com