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Islanders In The News Web Page

Previous News Page

Elizabeth Snyder - November 2021

    Grand Island photographer takes initiative to create a fundraiser for Buffalo's Crisis Services.
   Elizabeth Snyder owner of Elizabeth Snyder Photography, LLC in Grand Island is hosting a pin-up calendar launch party on Friday, November 12 at the Atrium in the Market Arcade to benefit Buffalo's Crisis Services. The calendar, which was a collaborative event with other western New York businesses features 12 local models that donated their time to help support this effort.
    The 50's inspired calendar fundraiser is in effort to give back to the Buffalo community in celebration of ESP's 10th year in business. "Crisis Services is a program that is very important to me both personally and professionally, " Snyder explained. "After the last 18 months of increased home isolation, more than ever people are needing emotional help. Giving back to the community by raising awareness and funds for Crisis Services felt like a great way for me to celebrate my company's anniversary."
    Shot on location in August at the Powerhouse of Buffalo, Snyder teamed up with photographer Susan Kehl, make-up and hair artists from Blush Hair and Makeup, N. Tonawanda, Cats like Us, a Tonawanda based vintage clothing store and two East Aurora businesses, Little Finch Party Styling for balloon backdropping and Pizza DelAurio's for use of their vintage car. Calendars will be sold for $20 and available at the free launch party on November 12th at the Atrium at the Market Arcade on Main Street, Buffalo from 7- 10pm. Retro snacks from the Yum Truck and models will be available for signing at the event. All proceeds will benefit Buffalo Crisis Services.
    Crisis Services of Buffalo and Erie County was designed to fill the community's need for an innovative unit that would explore new methods of treating and assisting people in emotional crises through a variety of therapeutic services. Offering this area a 24-hour crisis hotline, people in need can call 716.834.3131 to connect with a counselor. Elizabeth Snyder Photography is a full-service portrait studio whose mission is to uplift her clients through the art of photography. To pre-order a calendar email elizabeth@elizabethsnyderphotography.com.

Kirsti Hunt - September 2021

    TONAWANDA, NY - Kirsti Hunt has joined NOCO as vice president of human resources, overseeing the human resources function for the full-service energy company. With 25 years of human resources experience, Hunt most recently served as vice president of human resources with Modern Disposal Services and has held leadership positions with LPCiminelli and United Way of Buffalo & Erie County. She has a bachelor’s degree in human resources management from State University of New York Empire State College. A resident of Grand Island, Hunt is also a past president of the Buffalo Niagara Human Resource Association.

John Galt Robinson - September 2021

    John Galt Robinson is an Island native and GIHS Class of 1986 graduate. He wrote: "One of my main characters in this series is also a Grand Island native. Most of this novel takes place on Grand Island and Niagara Falls."
    KCM Publishing, a division of KCM Digital Media, LLC, has published Power City by John Galt Robinson. The book is available currently in both trade paperback and digital formats and can be ordered on Amazon or through Ingram for bookstores.
    In Power City, the action starts right away as a man is mysteriously swept over Niagara Falls and down the river. The city of Niagara Falls, nicknamed The Power City, finds itself in the shadow of a new power broker, the Catalano organization where corruption and people disappearing are a normal course of business.
    When Navy SEAL Lieutenant Joe O’Shanick becomes their next target, a deep underworld is exposed where no one is safe, and the law doesn’t protect. “I focused on a much deeper level of character development in this next book,” said Robinson. “While this is an action novel, I am highlighting selfless ties to family and faith as beacons that are timeless winners.”
    About the Author John Galt Robinson is a practicing Emergency Medicine physician. He weaves his experiences from the exciting, tragic and sometimes humorous world of emergency medicine into a much larger story with intriguing characters who tackle relevant social issues in a fast-paced adventure. John earned his medical degree at East Tennessee State University after a previous career in Sports Medicine as a Certified Athletic Trainer. He lives in South Carolina with his wife and family where he is an active sailor and triathlete. In his second novel, Power City, he further develops the main characters from Forces of Redemption in a compelling sequel.

PJ Marston - September 2021

PJ Marston

    Report by Peter Marston Sr. - Final points race at Lancaster Speedway, PJ Marston finished #1 in the series!! Anyone who races understands what an honor it is to win a points championship, it’s a lot of hard work, discipline and emotion. Winning two, he also won points at Empire Dragway, in one year is virtually unheard of,, yet,,, he did it!! No Junior dragster driver has ever won both tracks simultaniously It’s been incredibly humbling to watch him grow into a fierce competitor and an exceptional sportsman. We couldn’t be more proud!! Looking forward to our post season including division finals and the world finals in Memphis TN. Thanks to all that support us, we could not do it without your help!! Stett Transportation; Pinto Construction; Island Pet Lodge; Joe Dentz; Marston Power; Jan-Cen & Greg Kerl Automotive.

James Niland III - August 2021

Officating Officer Wayne P. Sorrentino, USN (Ret.) and James Niland III.

From left: Wayne P. Sorrentino, USN (Ret.), sisters Kaitlyn & Sarah Niland, James, parents Eileen and James Jr., Recruiting Officer Samuel Sobrino.
Photos courtesy of Robert Haag.

   On Tuesday, August 24th, James Niland III was sworn into the Navy to become a Navy Pilot. The ceremony took place at DeGlopper Memorial Park with family, friends and local veterans looking on. The Officating Officer was Wayne P. Sorrentino, USN (Ret.).
   Recruiting Officer Samuel Sobrino wrote the following; James will be attending Officer Candidate School (OCS) in Newport Road Island in September 2021. OCS is a 12 week program similar to Bootcamp but for civilians who have applied to be Naval Officers. He will be led and instructed by Navy and Marine Corps drill instructors as he transitions into military life. At the end of OCS, James will commission as an Ensign O-1.
   After OCS, James will be assigned to a Naval Air Station Pensacola, FL were he will start his primary Aviation training for 22 weeks. He will undergo class room and simulator training, then flight training in a T-6A Texan II. Once James completes this first phase of flight training, then he will go through a pipeline selection. This is based on his performance and preferences during his initial training. James could be assigned to fly anything from a multi-engine prop to a helicopter to a Navy Jet.
   Being selected as a Navy Pilot is no easy task. Civilians are screened on academics, athletics, leadership qualities and moral values. I have been a Navy Officer recruiter for 2 years and I look for applicants with qualities similar to James who was selected out of 269 applicants. James graduated from Canisius College with high honors and was a three sport athlete when he attended Grand Island high school playing baseball, football and track and field. Many of his leadership qualities came from Grand Island High School as he was the Caption for both the baseball and football teams.

Bonnie Sommer - August 2021

Mary Stewart photo.

    Friday, the 13th, was a special day for Bonnie Sommer, of LaSalle Ave, who turned 90 years old. No one could miss the happy birthday signs her daughter-in-law put up to let people know as they drove by. A gathering of family and friends was held Saturday to celebrate this special day.

Justin & Roman Figler - August 2021

    A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise money for Parkinson's Boxing in Kenmore. GI native Justin Figler is behind it, in honor of his dad Roman Figler who has seen "overwhelming" results in his battle against Parkinson's Disease, after training began. Money raised will go for equipment. You can donate HERE. On September 1st, Justin will be running four miles, every four hours, for 24 hours, in honor of his dad.

Lenore Tetkowski - August 2021

    Every two years the Burchfield Penney Art Center in Buffalo presents an exhibit of selected Western New York Craftsmen. The current show which opened July 9 included current work by two Grand Islanders, Lenore Tetkowski and JoAnn Vanderheite. This large exhibit will be open to the public during the Art Center’s regular hours through November 28. Work includes metals, wood, ceramics, textiles, glass and new digital methods.
    Lee’s (Lenore’s) work is a woven wall-hanging of tercel. "Mount Diversity” is a satire on Mount Rushmore, a double-weave pick-up complex technique. The four heads represent a Native American Craftsman, an Asian Female Physician, an African American Poet, and a Caucasian Female Professor.

Joe Synakowski - August 2021

Above photos taken at the August 17th ceremony. Left is Mrs. Marilyn Synakowski and Joe. Mary Cooke photos.

    Joe/John Synakowski was chosen as Erie County Fair Veteran of the Day for August 17, 2021. Joe served in the Army as a Private First Class from 1945-1948. Joe/John has been a very active member of the American Legion for 47 years, raising funds to help veterans and educating others about the sacrifices made by our military. He uses his brother Joe's birth year that was three years earlier than his own to enter the Army in 1945 when he was 15 years old. Joe/John served here at home and in Europe as a member of the 82nd Airborne and the 301st Military Intelligence Unit. He was an interpreter in the Polish Displaced Person Camps in 1948. Joe/John was instrumental in bringing the recently dedicated life-size bronze sculpture of Grand Island WWII Jerp amd Medal of Honor recipient Pfc. Charles N. DeGlopper to fruition. A ceremony will take place on Tuesday, August 17th at 6:30 p.m. at the flag pole in Slade Park. Everyone is welcome to attend and show their support.

Joann Vanderheite - July 2021

    Island artist Joann Vanderheite has again been invited to participate in the Kenan Center Artisan Festival in Lockport. It is the 50th anniversary year and will take place on Saturday & Sunday, July 10th & 11th, from 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Featured above is some of her gourd art. See FLYER.

Sybil E. Kennedy - June 2021

From left standing: Retired Town Clerk Maria Burns, Town Justice Mark Frentzel, Town Justice Mark Nemeth and former Town Justice the Honorable Eric Reimann.
Seated: The Honorable Sybil E. Kennedy.

   On Monday, June 7th the Grand Island Court Room was named the Honorable Sybil E. Kennedy Courtroom. In 1970, Justice Kennedy was asked to help out “for a few weeks” in the Grand Island Court and she went on to hold the position of Chief Clerk of the Court for over 30 years. In 2000, she ran for Town Justice, and was so for the next 20 years.

Matt Osinski Promoted - May 2021

    Erie County Department of Homeland Security & Emergency Services announced: We would like to congratulate EC Fire Instructor Matt Osinski on his recent promotion to Buffalo Fire Department Battalion Chief assigned to the Training Bureau. Matt will be leaving us as a County Fire Instructor where he's been since 2003...18 years. His past experience with the BFD as well as a past Chief and firefighter with the Grand Island Fire Company has provided our county firefighters some of the best training possible. As his new endeavors will keep him extremely busy, the good news is he's only one door away in our building. Join us to congratulate and thank Matt for his years of service to the county and his continued success in keeping our firefighters safe!

Houston Named Vice Admiral - May 2021

    Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III announced on April 27, 2021 that the president has made the following nomination: Navy Rear Adm. William J. Houston for appointment to the grade of vice admiral, and assignment as commander, Naval Submarine Forces; commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet; and commander, Allied Submarine Command, Norfolk, Virginia. Houston is currently serving as director, Undersea Warfare Division, N97, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Washington, D.C. Vice Adm. Houston is a 1986 graduate of Grand Island High School and a 1990 graduate of The University of Notre Dame where he earned his commission through their Naval ROTC program.

John Galt Robinson Publishes Inaugural Book - March 2021

    March 9, 2021 - KCM Publishing, a divisionof KCM Digital Media, LLC,has published Forces of Redemption by John Galt Robinson. The book is available currently in both trade paperback and digital formats and can be ordered on Amazon or through Ingram for bookstores.
    Forces of Redemption draws the reader in right away with the rescue of a young Honduran girl from a gang that has deep roots in human trafficking. Dr. Christine “Christy” Tabrizi’s selfless desire to make a difference lands her in the underworld of malevolent cartels in a fast-paced action ride putting her life in grave danger. When a new U.S. president of Mexican heritage declares war on the drug cartels in Central America, Navy SEAL Lieutenant Joe O’Shanick is deployed to lead an elite team into hostile territory for a rescue mission and to disrupting criminal operations. The protagonist grew up on Grand Island and several chapters take place here.
    “I write from firsthand understanding of the medical community and my interest in elite military teams,” said Robinson.“My research led me to the development of multiple interesting true to life characters that have enduring qualities.”Forces of Redemption is available in 245 territories worldwide and wherever books are sold.
    About the Author: Island native and GIHS Class of 1986 graduate, John Galt Robinson is a practicing Emergency Medicine physician. He weaves his experiences from the exciting, tragic and sometimes humorous world of emergency medicine into a much larger story with intriguing characters who tackle relevant social issues in a fast-paced adventure. John earned his medical degree at East Tennessee State University after a previous career in Sports Medicine as a Certified Athletic Trainer. He lives in South Carolina with his wife and family where he is an active sailor and triathlete.His debut novel, Forces of Redemption has established Robinson as a dramatic novelist. A sequel has been submitted to the publisher and takes place almost exclusively in Niagara Falls and on Grand Island.

Mrs. Edward A. Rayhill celebrates 90th Birthday - February 2021

    Affectionately known as Grandma Rayhill, Mrs. Edward A. Rayhill celebrated her 90th birthday on Grand Island, January 27th with her husband Dr. Edward A. Rayhill via a family zoom. She has four children, eight grandchildren and six great grandchildren. She was born on her mother's birthday in 1931. Among other gifts, she received a bouquet of fresh flowers from Maureen's Florist on Ellicott Street to commemorate the occasion and is looking forward to a family reunion this summer.

Michael Christensen- January 2021

From leftL Michael Christensen and Carley Skarupinski.

    Competing at the fourth annual Mustache Mayhem, Michael Christensen, a sophomore at Grand Island High School, qualified for the USA Powerlifting High School Nationals in Denver, CO with an aggregate lift - bench, squat, deadlift - of 1,111 pounds. Competing in the 93 kg class, Christensen bettered his mark of a year ago by 306 pounds. Christensen trains at Mustache Fitness and Barbell in Tonawanda with Carley Skarupinski.

Susan Furber- January 2021

    Susan Furber was a long-time Grand Island resident, graduating in 2010 from Grand Island High School. She holds a B.A. in English and Philosophy from Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, and spent a year at the University of Oxford. Susan is an editor and lives in London with her husband. Her first novel, The Essence of an Hour, will be published by Valley Press in February 2021. See description here.

Matthew J. Zarbo - January 2021

    Buffalo, NY – January 19, 2021, Barton & Loguidice, (B&L), a northeast regional engineering, planning, environmental, and landscape architecture firm announces that Matthew J. Zarbo, P.E., of the firm’s Buffalo office have received a promotion in 2021. Zarbo has been promoted Senior Project Engineer. A resident of Buffalo, NY, he received his B.S. degree in Civil Engineering from Clarkson University. Zarbo is a member of the firm’s Water/Wastewater Practice Area.