Warwick - As we mentioned last week, don't be surprised if you see people walking about town wearing strings of beads a-la- Mardi Gras. Local merchants recently formed a committee to raise funds for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Co-chairs Carol Bartnowski, owner of The Inkwell, and Sue Loughren, owner of The Toy Chest, have arranged for local businesses to sell the beads for a $1 per string donation. And, either on Saturday, Oct. 8 or Sunday, Oct. 9, the program will culminate with a Mardi Gras-style celebration. Jane Gyulavary of Celebrations Extraordinaire and Barbara Laurence, president of the Warwick Valley Merchants Guild, will coordinate the entire event. Debbie Iurato, owner of Peck's Wines & Spirits and treasurer of the Merchants Guild, will deposit and keep an accounting of the funds. And well-known composer/pianist Richard Kimball, a resident of Warwick, has offered to serve as musical coordinator for the "Jazz Festival." The entire proceeds will go to the American Red Cross to help the victims of the Gulf Coast and New Orleans disaster. During the month long fund drive, participating merchants who make a suggested $20 donation to cover the cost of the kit, will each receive a donation jar with Mardi Gras Mask and 144 bead necklaces. Everyone who donates just $1 will receive a string of beads. "We expect to see lots of people proudly wearing their bead necklaces as they walk around the Village," said Bartnowski. "They're making a statement. Warwick cares!" For more information or to volunteer or make a contribution call Jane Gyulavary at 988-0580. Blues for Bill While she was attending City University of New York, local author Donna Reis had the good fortune to study under the well-known American poet, William Matthews. "I always loved his poetry," said Reis, "but, unfortunately, he died suddenly of a heart attack during my second semester. It was the day after his fifty-fifth birthday." Besides his professorships at several universities, Matthews chaired the Literature Panel of the National Endowment for the Arts, and served as president of the Poetry Society of America. He authored numerous books and anthologies and, in 2005, was posthumously nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in poetry. Reis and a group of fellow editors including Kurt Brown, Meg Kearney and Estha Weiner, have recently edited and compiled a collection of poems about Matthews titled, "Blues for Bill: A Tribute to William Matthews." The anthology is now available locally at The Bookstore, 20 Main St. "Blues for Bill, said Reis, "celebrates the life and work of Matthews through his own language, that of poetry. While his poems are well known and remembered, this collection of poems ensures that the world will remember Bill himself: his graciousness, intelligence, knowledge, style, good humor, capacity for friendship, immense talent and wit." In this anthology, the poems included are written by people who know Matthews in a variety of ways, under myriad circumstances: as friend, both old and new; as mentor and teacher; as colleague; and as father. The book also includes a forward by Russell Banks and an interview of the poet himself. "Had William Matthews lived," said Reis, "I'm certain he would have become America's Poet Laureate." Provident Bank supports Winslow The Provident Bank Charitable Foundation recently donated $15,000 to Winslow Therapeutic Riding Unlimited, Inc. The Warwick organization provides therapeutic horseback riding as well as equestrian activity and counseling for disabled children and adults. The Provident Bank Charitable Foundation grant will go towards program support, including helping to fund scholarships that ensure no one is turned away from Winslow's pioneering program due to a lack of money. "For 31 years, the Winslow Therapeutic Center has served as a vital resource to children and adults throughout the Hudson Valley," said Robert Sansky, Executive Vice President, President of the Northern Region for Provident Bank. "We are proud to offer our support to this important program." Provident Bank operates 35 branches that serve the Hudson Valley region and New Jersey. The bank offers a complete line of commercial, retail and investment management and trust services.