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Islanders In The News Web Page

Previous News Page

Kassie Bennett Engaged - December 2018

    Scott and Dorothy Bennett of Grand Island are pleased to announce the engagement of their daughter Kassie Bennett, to Jacob Riley, son of Joel and Patricia Riley of Hamptonville, North Carolina. Ms. Bennett, a graduate of North Greenville University, is an Economics Teacher at Chapman High School in Inman, SC. Mr. Riley is a graduate of Appalachian State University and is a New American History Teacher at Elkin High School, Elkin NC. A July 2019 wedding is planned.

Todd Riniolo - December 2018

    Grand Island resident Todd Riniolo is a Professor of Psychology at Medaille College. He and a colleague are looking for volunteers for an online experiment involving Netflix. It involves watching a show on Netflix and answering some questions. It will take approximately one hour. See flyer for details.

Islanders in Nutcracker - November 2018

    The Greater Niagara Ballet Company will be performing the Nutcracker on Friday & Saturday, December 7 & 8 at the Niagara Falls High School Performing Arts Center. Several Island children will be dancing in the performance. They are Kephas, Donata and Guenevere Stender, and Maria Novelli. You can purchase tickets at the door or online. See information at the website.

Carolyn Quigley in Mystery of Edwin Drood - November 2018

   Grand Island resident Carolyn Quigley has the lead role in the Niagara Regional Theatre Guild's presentation of Mystery of Edwin Drood. NRTG is Western New York’s oldest theatre group, since 1923. This musical mystery is Directed and Choreographed by Dawn Marcolini Newton with Musical Direction by Sandy Ackerman and Produced by Sarah Mullin and Dan Zerpa.
   This year’s NRTG’s “Actor’s Choice” is a real mystery, who murdered Edwin Drood? This was the last story Charles Dickens ever wrote, as he died before it was finished. How does this mystery get solved if the author didn’t tell us? The audience votes and chooses the killer at each performance, that’s how! Audiences love this music filled twist of a classic mystery with wonderful songs such as “Moonfall”, “The Writing on the Wall” and “The Wages of Sin”.
   Cast members are: John Panepinto is John Jasper, Carolyn Quigley is Edwin Drood, (yes, you read that correctly) and Adrienne Ricchiazzi is Rosa Bud. Lucas Colon and Sydney Bucholtz play siblings Neville and Helena Landless. Performances are Friday, November 9th at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, November 10th at 7:30 p.m., Sunday Matinee, November 11th at 3:00 p.m., Friday, November 16th at 7:30 p.m., Saturday Matinee, November 17th at 3:00 p.m., Saturday, November 17th at 7:30 p.m., Sunday Matinee, November 18th at 3:00 p.m. Tickets.

Grand Island Native Helps Hurricane Victims - November 2018

   Long time Island resident Susan Carter retired last year from the Grand Island Central School District and moved to Wilmington, North Carolina, which got hammered from Hurricane Florence. She is now working in the Child Nutrition Department at Mary C. Williams Elementary School and wrote the following: "Hurricane Florence did quite a number on the Wilmington area and some students are just returning to school now, power is finally being restored for all and the cleanup continues. I was one of the lucky ones, and suffered minimal damage and lost income. The school I work at is one of the poorest in the county and 100% of our students receive free breakfast and lunch. Things were difficult for them even before the storm hit. I happened to look up on the wall just before the storm and saw "Be Respectful, Be Responsible and Be Safe", our Viking Values from GI. It hit me, that in the event that Florence did in fact hit us, I would reach out to my friends and peers at GI, as well as the Moose Lodge, and Fahim and Seema Mojawalla at Island Ship Center to see if they could help out these kids in need."
   The Women of the Moose, Chapter 1922 sent $200.00 in Walmart gift cards, with each card having a 20.00 value. The Men of the Moose Lodge 180 sent $300.00 in Walmart gift cards, with each card having a 20.00 value. The cards are being distributed by the school social worker to the 20 neediest families.
   The Moose Lodge, with the help of Fahim and Seema and a donation toward the shipping from Lou's Island Auto, was able to send 380 lbs. of new clothes, school supplies and various needs for the kids and their families. Mary Ehde was the driving force behind this and was assisted by Amy Garten, Laura Broady and Rick Williams. The items have arrived in Wilmington and will personally be sorted by Susan and the Child Nutrition Staff at Mary C. Williams Elementary for distribution to the students. Other donations are being collected at Connor Middle School and will be sent down this week.

Dean Santorio - Coach of the Week - October 2018

Semi-final against West Seneca East tonight, Friday, October 26th at 7:00 p.m. at Gene Masters Field.
   The Buffalo Bills are once again proudly partnering with ADPRO Sports in 2018, to recognize some of the best high school football coaches Western New York has to offer, through the High School Coach of the Week program. Throughout the 2018 high school football season, the Bills and ADPRO Sports will recognize 11 coaches from both the Buffalo and Rochester regions on buffalobills.com. The winners will be selected by a committee of high school football experts from each region.
    Winning coaches will receive a $1,000 grant for their school’s football program, a framed certificate recognizing their accomplishment and an invitation to join the Bills on-field Dec. 16, for a pregame ceremony prior to kickoff against the Detroit Lions. At the game, a High School Coach of the Year will be honored from each region, with those winners receiving an additional $1,000 for their football program.
    The Buffalo region Coach of the Week for Week 8 is Dean Santorio, head coach of the Grand Island Vikings. Santorio, who has been Grand Island’s head coach since 2000, recently led the Vikings to a 38-32 double overtime win over South Park in the first round of the Class A playoffs. The critical victory extended the Vikings’ record to 7-1 and kept the team alive in the postseason.
   The Vikings, who went into the half up 20-6 over the Sparks, found themselves tied up in the third quarter. Grand Island pulled ahead 32-20 with just five minutes left to go in the game but then a South Park touchdown pass allowed the Sparks to cut into the Vikings’ lead. The Sparks were able to even the score on a fumble recovery for a touchdown, which sent the game into overtime.
    The contest went into another overtime round before Grand Island senior quarterback Cam Sionko connected with senior wide receiver Justin Gorrell on a nine-yard game-winning touchdown pass. Sionko finished the game 17-of-39 for 215 yards passing and three touchdowns. The versatile signal caller also caught a 14-yard touchdown pass and ran one in. Senior linebacker Ken Yockey paved the way on defense, compiling 12 tackles and a sack. Next up, Grand Island is scheduled to take on West Seneca East on Friday, Oct. 26, with kickoff at 7 p.m.

Vienna Laurendi Haak - October 2018

Unique Theatre Company Production "Hot Rock Hotel".
   Vienna Laurendi Haak is a producer and co-founder of Unique Theatre Company. This is a non-profit organization that "supports WNY community members of all abilities that wish to participate in a true professional theater experience in a capacity in which they are most interested in." The group has a production planned for November 8 - 18th at the Alleyway Theatre titled "Hot Rock Hotel". Dates are November 8, 9, 10 at 7:30 p.m.. Sunday, November 11 at 2:00 p.m. November 15, 16, 17 at 7:30 p.m.. Sunday, November 18 at 2:00 p.m. Flyer - Website.

Dr. Dave Reilly and Dr. Nicole Gerber - October 2018

Event Flyer with schedule.
WildLIFE Appreciation and Education Day Organizers and Presenters Encourage Habitat Protection and Compassionate Coexistence.
    Island residents Dr. Dave Reilly and Dr. Nicole Gerber started the Citizen Coalition for Wildlife and Environment to improve the lives of wildlife and to improve the environment. A full day of activities is planned on Saturday, October 27th at Erie Community College North's Kittinger Hall.
Press Release:    The central theme of this WildLIFE event is that our disproportionate negative impact on the fellow species of our planet must change immediately. We must learn compassion and respect for all life on Earth, and learn to protect habitats and wildlife as stewards of the environment and our ecosystems. The WildLIFE Appreciation and Education Day event will take place on October 27th from 9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. at Erie Community College North’s Kittinger Hall. The event is free and open to everyone.
    Presentations, activities for children and adults, informational sessions, and viewing wildlife ambassadors (non-releasable rehabilitated wildlife) will emphasize the importance of using science to develop policies and practices that preserve wild spaces and retain the natural balances of wildlife and native plants that create healthy and sustainable ecosystems. Workshops will encourage grassroots organizing for animal topics, and will offer teaching tools for spreading education about climate change. WildEd Talks will explain key local environmental issues, and provide resources so that participants can engage in ecological stewardship.
   Experts represent the SPCA of Erie County’s Wildlife Division, Seneca Nation, Oakmoss Education, Humane Society of the US, Lessons from Nature, and the Paleontological Research Institution.
Talks include:
   Climate Change and the Northern Hardwood Forest.
   Coexisting with Wildlife, Natural History, & Resolving Backyard Conflicts.
   Importance of Native Plants to the Ecosystem.
    Does Science Alone Guide Animal Protection Policy?
   Thanksgiving Address Explanation.
Workshops include:
   Advocating for Animals: Turning Compassion into Action.
   Reasons and Strategies for Talking about Climate Change.
   Exhibitors will represent a wide range of wildlife and habitat education and protection organizations, both from local communities and representing international organizations. Students from Niagara University, along with the Erie County SPCA Humane Education team, will lead children’s activities that cultivate an appreciation for wildlife.     The organizers, Citizen Coalition for Wildlife and Environment, and Science Demands Action, share a commitment to using science as a means of increasing understanding and appreciation for wildlife and the environment, ensuring compassionate coexistence with wildlife, and for learning how to protect and enhance habitats and healthy ecosystems. We must become stewards of our environment and of the species with whom we share the planet. On October 8th, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report, written by 91 scientists from 40 countries who analyzed more than 6,000 scientific studies, that predicts irreparable human-caused damage to the planet much sooner than anticipated. In spite of corrective action, the UN-based report predicts the death of all coral reefs on the planet as soon as 2040. This report is consistent with recent research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicating that although the world’s 7.6 billion people represent just 0.01% of all living things, humanity has caused the loss of 83% of all wild mammals and half of plants. For more information call (716) 774-8571, email at: ccweinfo@gmail.com. - Facebook.

Emily Certo - October 2018

    Emily Certo of Grand Island, NY received her white coat in a ceremony marking their symbolic entrance into the medical field in a ceremony at the Merrill Auditorium in Portland, Maine, on September 22, 2018. It was the 22nd White Coat Ceremony at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNE COM), the largest provider of physicians for the State of Maine. Emily is the daughter of Russ and Elizabeth Certo.
   "This ceremony serves to welcome these students into the medical profession and to honor their commitment to serving the needs of their future patients.," said Jane Carriero, D.O., vice president for Health Affairs and dean of UNE COM. "As they wear their white coats for the first time, they join generations of physicians around the country committed to service through medicine."
   The White Coat Ceremony was an idea conceived by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation to create a psychological contract for professionalism and empathy in medicine. The first White Coat Ceremony took place in 1993 at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons. Since then, 97 percent of medical schools in the U.S. and abroad have initiated a similar ceremony.
    At the ceremony, physicians presented white coats to the first year students as a symbolic mantle of the medical profession, underscoring their bonds as future professional colleagues. Stephen Shannon, D.O. ’86, president of the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM), delivered the keynote address.

Melissa Affuso Strange - October 2018

   A GoFundMe page has been set up for former Island resident Melissa Affuso Strange and family, after being displaced from Hurrican Michael. Husband Josh will remain at Tyndall Air Force Base, while Melissa and their two boys head home to Grand Island. If you can help this family, go to the GoFundMe page. Melissa's parents are Chris and Audene Auffuso of East River Road.

Island Family Owns Macaroni Factory - October 2018

   The Buffalo News Gusto section has a nice story about Islander Wendy Colla-Bianco and family's Gondola Macaroni Products business. With help from her husband John Bianco, mother Sharon Colla and three employees, they are making over 200,000 pounds of product each year. This is the 60th anniversary of the company that was started by grandfather Guido Colla. See story written by Andrew Z. Galarneau.

Jan Yardley - September 2018

Jan Yardley with her wee library.

   Jan Yardley lives on Broadway, just east of the South State Parkway. In her front yard, she has what she calls a "wee library", a lending library. One of the structures holds children's books and the other is for adult books.
    Jan moved to Grand Island part-time four years ago, to be near her daughter and family and immediately started her wee library. She looked up plans on the internet and her handy son-in-law built the first book box. Up until this past summer, after vacation, Jan would return to Swanzey, New Hampshire, where she taught K- 6 for 33 years. Last year there were 56 students in the entire school. Now she is retired and lives here full-time.
    Over the years she added a second book box for children's books. Everyone is welcome to visit the library and borrow books. She has a bench nearby in case you want to sit and peruse a book. There is also a water bowl for your dog. Jan is a voracious reader and her living room reflects that, with full book cases dominating the room. It is not just books she is interested in. She also knits, crochets, quilts and makes chainmail jewelry. She is a most interesting individual and I am sure you will see her around town, getting the lay of the land. Stop by and pick up a book!

Kuehne Family Loves Soccer - September 2018

JV Boys Soccer head coach Peter Kuehn Jr. and sister and assistant coach Jessica Kuehn Brown.

   For too many years to count, the Kuehne family has immersed themselves in Grand Island soccer programs, and they are still in the game. Mom Jude played for Grand Island High School and graduated in 1982. Dad Peter played for Tonawanda High School, graduating in 1981. The couple met while both played for Buffalo State College in 1982. Pete Sr. was so good that he was inducted into the Tonawanda High School Wall of Fame for soccer in 2004.
   Peter Sr. started coaching in 1987 as the JV Boys coach and moved to Boys Varsity in 1989. He "officially retired" in 2009, only to become Varsity Girls assistant coach in 2010. Jude has spent the past 31 years keeping stats on the assorted soccer teams.
   Children, Peter Jr., class of 2003 and Jessica Kuehne Brown, class of 2007, both were soccer standouts throughout their high school careers. Jessica went to four NYS Final Fours, starting as a "pulled up" eighth grader during high school sectionals. She went on to play college soccer at Siena College, after receiving a full-ride scholarship, winning the MAAC Conference in her senior year.
   Now brother and sister are back together, this time as coaches. Peter Jr. is the JV Boys Soccer coach and Jessica is his assistant. Peter Jr. also played baseball for GIHS and he went to BOCES coaching classes to be certified in both sports. So now it's same as it ever was....all the Kuehne's back together on the same soccer fields at the H. David Myers Sports Complex.

Lindsay Proctor -September 2018

    Lindsay Proctor is a sophomore at West Virginia University and is a defensive specialist on the ladies volleyball team. At a recent tournament she met Miss Universe, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters of South Africa. The next week, she went on to earn all-tournament honors at defense, after her team won the Florida Gulf Coast Tourament in Ft. Myers, FL.
   Another newsworthy item! Last fall she was named to the Big 12 Conference's "Champions for Life" (CFL) initiative, that celebrates the academic and athletic achievements of the league's student-athletes. CFL recognizes the positive impact athletic scholarships provide to students. Part of being named to CFL is a $1000 award Proctor could give to a former teacher for school programs. Grand Island High School Physics teacher Tim Williamson was her chosen recipient and he donated the money to the GIHS Life Skills class, a program for students with disabilities, which was attended by Lindsay's brother Ryan. Some of the funds purchased a refrigerator and blenders for a "Yummy Tummy" program.

Walsh Family -September 2018

    The Shawn & Danielle Walsh family, 155 Oakridge Road, off Baseline Road, has started the first "Little Free Library" on Grand Island. The Little Free Library book exchange has more than 75,000 locations in 88 countries worldwide. The library is a "take a book, return a book" free book exchange. There are books for every age. You can donate books at any time.

Jim Greer - August 2018

    Jim Greer of Grand Island, shot a hole in one on the 8th hole at Beaver Island Golf Course, the morning of July 31st around 9:15 a.m. He used a #5 Fairway wood. It was witnessed by Jim Watts, Gary Jackson and Tom Stoddard. It's a great first time (perhaps once in life time) accomplishment for an over 70 year old player. Congratulations Jim!

Gregory & Judy Prior - August 2018

    Gregory and Judy Prior celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last weekend over dinner in the company of their children, grandchildren and friends. Their anniversary is Friday, August 17th. They have 5 children, Julie Carnall, Jacqueline Vanoni, Jeanne Frescino, Janet Schuster, Debra Hennessy, 17 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.

Nate Oats Family - August 2018

   UB Basketball coach Nate Oats and wife Crystal have bought the $1M West River waterfront mansion from the Schiffhauer family. See Buffalo News story by Jonathan D. Epstein. Photo Gallery

Bernie Callahan - August 2018

Mary Stewart photo.

    On Monday, August 13th, Bernie Callahan celebrated her 99th birthday with her friends at the Golden Age Center. Bernie moved to Grand Island in 1948 from Buffalo. She has been blessed with her son Timothy, three granddaughters; Tabitha, Courtney and Christie, owner of 773 North Restaurant and two great-granddaughters Samantha and Jenna.

Dr. and Mrs. Edward A. Rayhill to celebrate 72 Years Together - August 2018

Second from right: Joanne Decot (Rayhill) on that fatefull day at the Decot wedding!

   Young Mike Rayhill is the romantic in the family and has in the past sent in announcements for his parents, Mike and Donette and grandparents, Ted and Joanne. This one is to celebrate Dr. and Mrs. Edward A. Rayhill - 72 Years Together.
   Here is the story: On August 17, 1946, seventeen year old Ted Rayhill tagged along with his friend Bill Fleming and crashed Bud and Teresa Decot's wedding at St. Margaret's Church on Hertel Avenue. Dr. Rayhill believes when he saw bridesmaid Joanne Decot, it was love at first sight. After the wedding, they danced at a party overlooking Lake Erie and had their first date on August 24th, which was to see the film Night and Day with the music of Cole Porter. It was to be their song, and in 1953 they were married at Saint Benedict's Church. To this day, Ted says that meeting Joanne was the defining moment of his life and the best thing he ever did. They have four children, eight grandchildren and six great grandchildren and will be celebrating 60 years in their Grand Island home this month.

Anna Czarples - August 2018

   Anna Czarples, GIHS class of 2001, daughter of James and Helen Czapla of Grand Island, was recently recognized as a Top 25 attorney by the National Women Trial Lawyers Association. This is an award composed of and limited to the Top 25 attorneys from each state who serve individuals and families who need attorneys to represent them in the American legal system regarding litigation claims.
   Members of the National Women Trial Lawyers Association - Top 25 exemplify superior qualifications of leadership, reputation, influence and performance in their area of specialty. This exclusive organization provides superior networking opportunities, continuing legal education and the highest quality advocacy training for its members. This association is focused on highlighting and elevating the accomplished Women attorney to provide the best way for the public to find Women attorneys for their legal needs & other attorneys to find a source for case referrals.

JoAnn Vanderheite - August 2018

   JoAnn Vanderheite was chosen as the Featured Artist at this year's Lewiston Art Festival. The event takes place along Center Street on Saturday & Sunday, August 11th and 12th starting at 10:00 a.m. You can find JoAnn and her contemporary gourd art at booth H-1 on Fourth Street. See flyer.

Mr. and Mrs. Michael E.A. Rayhill Celebrate 40th Anniversary - July 2018

   On July 29th, 1978, high school sweethearts Mike Rayhill and Donnette Hennigar were married at the Old St. Stephen's Church with a reception at the Buffalo Launch Club. The couple was introduced by a mutual friend Michelle McGraw when they were fifteen and after almost seven years, they tied the knot. Mike and Donnette celebrated their anniversary with a trip to the Finger Lakes and enjoyed a dinner for two on the day of their anniversary. They also spent their anniversary weekend in the company of their children, sister and sister-in-law, grandchildren and Dr. and Mrs. Edward A. Rayhill, the parents of the groom.

Gary Astridge - July 2018

   Island Ship Center recently packaged an extra special item to be delivered to musician Ringo Star. Former Islander Gary Astridge, after touring with Mr. Starr, was commissioned to make a limited edition replica snare drum set. Mr. Astridge traveled to Los Angeles in May and delivered the set. If you would like to learn more about this special project; See Island Ship Center story and detailed interview with Mr. Astridge by Steve Bryant of Classic Drummer magazine.

Jose Palma Jr. - July 2018

   Former Island resident Jose Palma Jr. was featured in a story by Jane Kwiatkowski Radlich in the Buffalo News. Jose has a putting green on his front lawn on Busti Avenue and will be a stop on the Buffalo Garden Walk on Saturday & Sunday, July 28 & 29. See story here.

Sarah & Dave Bentley - July 2018

   A recent story in the Buffalo News by Scott Scanlon featured Island residents Sarah and David Bentley, along with her parents Steve and Debbie Hoffman. They each have lost over 100 pounds in the last four years. See their amazing story here.

Robin Hoch - July 2018

   Robin Hoch is teaming up with with Kevin Slachiak of Say Cheese Pizza and introducing a new beer on Saturday, July 21st. The Krack-Noon Island Pale Ale Release Party will be at the restaurant, 1771 Love Road, from noon - 3:00 p.m. There will be $5 beers, free hot dogs, DJ Mark Smith and Corn Hole games. If you can't make that date, the beer will be served exclusively at Say Cheese, stop in anytime. See flyer.
   Robin worked with local brewer Paul Wisenberger to create a beer that fit a flavor profile to best represent the Krack-Noon brand. The brewer then made a small batch that was tested by all parties and approved. A sample was then taken to Craft Brewers in Rochester, enjoyed by owner Mike Alcorn and brewmaster Zach Allard, who then agreed to brew a large batch. Kevin purchased the beer and is now working with Robin to develop her brand.
   For Robin, it started with her love of the Niagara River and boating with some of her closest friends. Additionally, Niagara River Cruises was launched in 2013 with friend/business partner Tom Hauser. NRC purchased a 42' Custom Tour Boat in May of 2013. Niagara River Cruises is a Private Charter, Special Event business. NRC hosts comedy, music, psychic, disco and historic tours along the upper Niagara and Historic Erie canal. Private Charters are available for up to 35-40 people for any occasion.
    Next was the "Krack-Noon" brand. From Robin's website, "I am blessed with a great family & friends who enjoy drinking and consuming various types of beer, wine & liquor, at varying times throughout the day and responsibly." " I believe each of us has experienced our own "krack-noon" moments". Krack noon was a story with some of her closest friends while boating on the Upper Niagara. She wrote lyrics for a song that she then commissioned Frank Grisanti to put music behind. It has an Island feel and Robin says she couldn't have done it without the help from established musician Paul Swisher. The song will be played at the release party. A selection of clothing and hats with the Krack-Noon logos are available for purchase. See website.

Alexandra Weiser and Nicholas Tomkins Wed - July 2018

    Alexandra Weiser and Nicholas Tomkins were united in marriage by Fr. Earle King on Saturday, the 7th of July 2018 at the Niagara Falls Country Club. Allie is the daughter of Raymond and Patricia Weiser of Grand Island, while Nick's parents are JT and Donna Tomkins also of Grand Island. The ceremony was immediately followed by a reception which included dancing under the stars featuring a spectacular fireworks display.
    Nick and Allie met while classmates at Grand Island High School, with their first date being their Junior Prom. Allie then went on to C.W. Post College where she excelled in soccer, playing goalie and then coaching while pursuing her masters degree in Education. Nicholas graduated from Canisius College with a Business Degree after spending two years at Gannon University where he played football.
    After a honeymoon in Hong Kong and Thailand they will continue to live in Lewiston, NY. Nick works in business development for Sevenson Environmental Services and Allie teaches Special Education at the middle school level in the Sweet Home School District.

Ashli Dreher Recieves Scholarship - July 2018

   Ashli Skura Dreher, a Grand Island Board of Education member, was awarded a $3,000 scholarship from the Buffalo Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). Dreher, a dissertation-level doctoral student at the University of Rochester, has been a teacher for 21 years, currently working at Lewiston-Porter Central School District as a special education teacher. The AAUW award recognizes women who have demonstrated activism in line with the AAUW mission of equality for women and girls.
    Dreher has a strong interest in the development of girls and young women's community-building and leadership capabilities. She devotes her teaching time to ensure all of her students are successful despite the barriers they may endure. She hosts a television program to highlight outstanding public school teachers called "Inside the Classroom" broadcast on WBBZ. She is also a contributing author to a recently published book, "Confronting Oppressive Assessment: How Policy-Makers are Rethinking Current Educational Reforms."
    Dreher is a 2017 inductee into the National Teachers Hall of Fame. As a single mother of two daughters, Heavyn and Skye, she has demonstrated determination, self-confidence and has created a template for reshaping one's life. "I feel blessed when walking into a classroom that I can have an impact on people's lives," she said. Future plans may include pursuing a seat in the legislature and earning a second doctorate with a focus on policy.

Paul & Peggy Koppmann - July 2018

   A Buffalo News story by Susan Martin features Paul & Peggy Koppmann's gardens. See story here. You can see for yourself on Sunday, July 8th as the Koppmann gardens will be featured in the Grand Island Garden Walk, between 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. www.grandislandgardenwalk.com.

Alexander Joseph Hattersley - June 2018

    Meet Alexander Joseph Hattersley born to Nikki (Zito) Hattersley and Michael Hattersley. Born at St. Mary's Hospital, Lewiston, NY on June 5, 2018 at 3:49 am. Weighing in at 8 lbs 10 oz, 21.25 inches long. Proud Grand Parents are Cheryl (Teoli) and Joe Zito of Grand Island, NY and Jackie and John Hattersley of Skaneateles, NY.

Linda Facklam - June 2018

From left:The Facklam's; Kevin, Linda, Paul and Paul III.

   Life-long Island resident Linda (Darby) Facklam recently celebrated her 70th birthday sky diving! Sons Kevin, Paul and grandson Paul III were on hand to witness this exciting event. Happy birthday!

JoAnne Vanderheite - May 2018


Three examples of gourd art.

    Islander Joann Vanderheite will once again be showing her contemporary gourd art at the 48th Annual 100 American Craftsmen Festival. The show is on Friday, June 1st, Saturday, June 2nd and Sunday, June 3rd at the Kenan Center Arena, 433 Locust Street, Lockport, NY. Featuring fine contemporary craft art, along with live music, indoor cafe, specialty food vendors, emerging and first-time artisans in the Annex Marketplace. For schedule, exhibiting artisans, and more, go to www.100americancraftsmen.org.
    Since its inception in 1970, 100 American Craftsmen has focused exclusively on fine craft art, supporting both established artisans who have reached the highest level of artistic quality, and nurturing new artisans who combine innovative approaches with traditional crafting techniques.100 American Craftsmen is a juried craft show. Artisan images are reviewed by a panel of artisans, curators, and craft media specialists and scored. All artisans must jury every year unless exempt, and previous acceptance does not guarantee future acceptance.

Reagan Fast - May 2018

   A 13 year-old Connor Middle School student is featured in a news story on WGRZ TV. Reagan Fast has autism, and was unable to speak until learning RPM (Rapid Prompting Method), at the age of 10. See her uplifting story here.

Mary Cooke - May 2018

Mary Cooke with Legislator Kevin Hardwick

    Former educator and Town of Grand Island Supervisor Mary Stang-Cooke was formally recognized as the County Legislature's Citizen of the Month during Thursday's session. Cooke was joined by family as Legislator Kevin Hardwick presented her with a proclamation, citing her many achievements as a longtime teacher and dedicated public servant for the Town of Grand Island. "Mary Cooke's years of leadership and dedication to the Grand Island community leave a lasting impact on those who have been fortunate enough to know her or work with her," said Legislator Hardwick. "She is truly deserving of this recognition."
    Cooke, a native of Perrysburg, NY, graduated from Gowanda High School before earning degrees from both Buffalo State College and Niagara University. She taught in public schools from 1981 to 2011 and served as a Town of Grand Island Councilwoman for 18 years before she was elected as town supervisor in 2012.
    As town supervisor, Mary secured a long list of grants for Grand Island and maintained an excellent bond rating. She also served the community on the Friends of Grand Island Memorial Library Board, Grand Island Historical Society, St. Stephen's Church, Grand Island School Business Alliance (GISBA), and the Grand Island Relay for Life: Survivor Tent.
   "I am very honored and humbled to be named the Erie County Citizen of the Month for April," said Cooke. "As a Grand Island Councilwoman for 18 years, and the Town Supervisor for 4 years, I know the value of, and greatly appreciated having, a great working relationship with Erie County. It is especially important for infrastructure projects: the public has little patience with the county doing something one week and the town doing something another week, when it could have been coordinated with a bit of effort and communication among the elected officials and crews. Thank you to Legislator Hardwick for his prompt response whenever there was a county issue on the island. Again, I 'm honored and humbled to be recognized."

U.S. Navy Commander Thomas Flaherty III - May 2018

    U.S. Navy Commander Thomas Flaherty III is a native of Grand Island and is now in command of the USS Minnesota, a fast attack, nuclear-powered submarine. Ironically, the subs former commander was from Minnesota and the subs motto was "Be a Viking". See story.

Emma Richards - April 2018

    Huth Road Elementary 5th grader Emma Richards, 10 was featured on WGRZ TV in the "Great Kids" segment. Emma saved up her allowance and donated $64.84 to the Sidway Playground fundraising efforts. The new playground is estimated to cost $100,000 to replace the current playground, which is 20 years old. See the WGRZ segment here. You can donate by participating in the Sea Doo Fundraiser, Go Fund Me page, and donating your cans and bottles at Bottle Junction Grand Island Bottle and Can RC @ 2447 Grand Island Blvd.

Marc Scibilia - April 2018

Marc Scibilia.

   Former Grand Island resident and world famous musician Marc Scibilia has recently released an official music video for "Over You." There are video shots of Buffalo and many of Grand Island; West River, Beaver Island boardwalk and beach area and the south bridge. Marc will be in town for a concert on Wednesday, May 16, 2018 at the Buffalo Iron Works, 49 Illinois St., Buffalo, at 8:00 p.m.

Diane Tetkowski Pokorski -April 2018

Drawing by Diane Pokorski.

   Island native Diane Tetkowski Pokorski has an art exhibit at Kean University in Union, New Jersey. The opening reception was held on Sunday, March 25, 2018. Despite deficits caused by a debilitating brain injury in 2001, Diane has reinvented herself, training her left hand, resurrecting memories of her time in Italy through artistic pen and ink drawings. Diane is the daughter of Lee and Clem Tetkowski, grew up on Grand Island, attended Island schools, went to Fashion Institute of Technology, and continues to have many dear friends in this area. Her show continues through May 30th. See Kean Exhibit page.

Lee Tetkowski. Right: Family photo.

   Following the art reception at the opening of Diane's work, since many of our family were in attendance, they had decided to have an early 95th birthday cake for Lee! (Birthday still almost 2 months away.) The family group includes the five youngest of Lee's great-grand-children from California and Washington State.

Cassie Oursler - March 2018

   The Buffalo News website did a nice article on University of Buffalo basketball player and Island native Cassie Oursler, published Sunday, March 18th. See article by Amy Moritz. The U.B. Bulls are headed to the Sweet Sixteen and will play, 2nd seed South Carolina in Albany on Saturday, March 24th at 11:30 a.m., to be aired on ESPN. South Carolina was last year's National Champions. Cassie had 12 points and seven rebounds in the game against Florida State on Monday, winning 86-65. This is the first time UB has advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. South Carolina beat the Lady Bulls 79-63, after a strong first half.

Michael and Rosemarie Tucker - February 2018

   (February 13, 2018)...The East River home of Michael and Rosemarie Tucker is featured in the Buffalo News 'Home of the Week', written by Susan Martin. See story and slide show.

Patricia Zoltoski - February 2018

Patricia Zoltoski.

T-shirt available to purchase.

    February 13, 2018 - New York - What began as an exchange between two college friends reminiscing on the anniversary of their late mothers' passing became an epiphany which set forth an intention that will forever change the way we think about March 4th.
    Patricia Zoltoski of Grand Island, NY is one of two women being honored in this inaugural event to take place March 4, 2018. She was ahead of her time and never gave in to adversity. She became a single mother during a time uncommon to this type of family dynamic, and she experienced the loss of a child. When challenged with tragic moments in her life, she carried on for her family and for her own well-being. Volunteering her time, and always keeping her faith, Grandma Pat was the heroine in her own story. Passing away on March 4th, 2008, she left us with inspirational memories. For those who remember her, especially her family, we recognize how she always "Marched Forth."
   The Unwritten Women's Society brings together women who want positive change in their lives by encouraging personal growth and providing opportunities to meet other inspirational women. It is with that spirit (and a Facebook exchange between old friends) that the inspiration for #MarchForth was born.
   In memory of Patricia (and Genevieve Monacelli Riviere from Albion, NY), the Unwritten Women's Society of the Philadelphia suburbs will celebrate the Inaugural March Forth event on March 4th, 2018. Embracing the difficult moments in life and celebrating our ability to rise above adversity, we will #MarchForth. UWS will also be encouraging people across the country to participate in their own way to honor these women and the special women in their own lives.
   To support the March Forth movement, the Unwritten Women's Society will be holding a t-shirt fundraiser throughout February and March 2018. Proceeds from the fundraiser will be donated to the prevention of domestic violence. Domestic violence is an "equal opportunity offender". It can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender. It affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels. To read more about the Unwritten Women's Project, and Patricia and Genevieve's story and learn how you can support March Forth, visit http://www.unwrittenwomenssociety.org/marchforth/.

Lisa McLeod, DONA Trained Doula - February 2018

Lisa McLeod participating in "The Better Birth Conference."

    For those of you who don't know a Doula is a birth coach. She is there to assist the mom with carrying out her birth plan. My name is Lisa McLeod. I live on Grand Island and I am a DONA trained Doula. I've recently joined the WNY Doulas. Every year the WNY Doulas hold an annual event called "The Better Birth Conference". It is a way for you to get a chance to meet the WNY Doulas and also the top WNY birth and postpartum experts. The conference will be held Sunday, April 15, 2018, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Banchetti By Rizzo's, 550 N French Road, Amherst, NY. You can go to wnydoulas.com to register for this event. Hurry as seating is limited and tickets sell fast!!

Angelo LaDuca Art Show - February 2018

Grand Island Memorial Library Director Bridgette Heintz and artist Angelo F. LaDuca.

    It has been one year since the Grand Island Memorial Library has offered Island residents an opportunity to display their work. Angelo LaDuca was the first Island artist to participate in this program. His new show is entitled "IT'S NEVER TO LATE TO BECOME AN ARTIST". The show features 14 of his oil paintings. The show includes a story board explaining what he thinks about when doing a painting and a challenge for viewers to realize that it is never too late to fulfill their desires to do things that they always wanted to do.
    Angelo began painting when he was 67 years old, proving his point that age does not keep a person from taking on a new challenge. Angelo is a student of the North Tonawanda Partners In Art School. He has been a featured artist in five local art shows and has been an Island resident for over 35 years. The Grand Island Memorial Library invites local artists to contact Bridgette Heintz, the new Grand Island Memorial Library director if you would like to show your work for others to enjoy.

Christine Goupil Elected - January 2018

Christine Goupil

    Christine Goupil has been elected First Selectman of Clinton, Connecticut. First Selectman is much like a mayor. In Clinton, she has fought for years for sustainable growth as a two term elected official, representing the Democratic Party on the Planning and Zoning Commission. During her career, she has held supervisory positions in project management, design, and marketing. Christine has worked for the NY Botanical Garden, KPMG, ADSHEL/Clear Channel Communications and The Prince's Foundation for Building Community. At The Prince's Foundation, led by H.R.H Prince Charles of Great Britain, Christine worked with others on community revitalization and urban planning.
   Christine grew up on Grand Island and attended Island public schools. She has a Bachelor's degree from SUNY and has continued her education in land use leadership training. Christine lives in Clinton with her husband, Alan Felgate, and their 2 children.

Dave Smith & Family - January 2018

From left Buddy Smith, Dave Smith & Debbie Smith Laramie.

    Island residents Dave Smith and his dad Buddy Smith recently traveled to Florida to visit their sister/daughter, Debbie Smith Laramie. While on a fishing trip out of Madeira Beach, Dave caught a 52 pound Amberjack!

Genna Baldassarre - January 2018

    Genna Baldassarre of Grand Island, NY has been named to the Fall 2017 dean's list at Buffalo State College with a 3.8 GPA, majoring in Health and Wellness with a minor in Coaching. Genna is one of the top runners this past season on their women's Cross Country Team and currently is running for the Bengals Indoor Track Team. To qualify, students must earn a GPA of 3.5 or higher and complete a minimum of 12 credit hours.