LETTERS TO THE EDITOR 2008“I am where I am because of the bridges that I crossed. I am committed to helping others cross the bridge successfully”
Letters To The Editor must include a name and contact (phone/email) and may be Emailed to
Editor or addressed to: Letters to the Editor, 1871 Whitehaven Road, Grand Island, NY 14072
Previous Letters To The Editor
"Attitude of Gratitude" - Dec. 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008 . . . What a day for anyone to go out. We retirees had it made! As you know, we are not always home in bad weather, but yesterday was an eye opener. The plow trucks were choreographed to a wonderful pace to keep East River Road clear. The private contractors were diligent, too. Our service (John Fitzgerald) came four times yesterday. We could have parked guests at any time, but noon came, not even UP or FedEx. It so happens that Friday was our trash pick up day, I laughed when the truck roared by on the street. Who would put trash out on a day like that? Our local mail carrier came through just a little later than usual. You really have to give the mail delivery personnel credit. We are so lucky; I keep an active "Attitude of Gratitude" for all the good people and good things in my life. When I see areas where people have just curbside parking and actually have to shovel their way out, I really sympathize.
I have so enjoyed being able to access Isledegrande wherever I go. You really are my link to home many times. I hope your Christmas is lovely and that you are blessed many times over, in 2009.
Posted December 24, 2008
Historical Society Appreciates Community Support - Dec. 2008
The Grand Island Historical Society extends its thanks to the community for the support of its holiday events at River Lea. Friends and neighbors enjoyed the beautiful decorations at open houses, and the three luncheons were sold out. The Country Store was very popular, with lots of goodies purchased by the visitors.
Congratulations to Diane McDonough, who won the caned rocker in the raffle. The rocker, donated by Dan and Laura Sexton, was a very popular item, and we thank them, as well as all who purchased tickets.
Thanks to one and all - members, friends, the Grand Island community, for your support of the Historical Society in its holiday celebrations. You participation is greatly appreciated.
Very truly yours,
Curtis Nestark, President
Dominican Republic Mission Trip - Dec. 2008
December 11, 2008
Dear Grand Island Community:
I am writing to you to let you know about an opportunity I have been given to go on a missions trip to the Dominican Republic March 28 – April 4, 2009. I will be going with a group of people from SonRays Ministries and Score International. I am very excited because this is SonRays Ministries’ first mission trip and over the years this ministry has become very special to my family.
Our team will be there for one week serving the people of the sugar cane and Haitian villages in the south shores of the nation. While in the Dominican Republic we will be working with and ministering to single mothers and children. The American word means a lot to these young girls and we will be stressing the issue of abstinence and the sanctity of human life.
Along with raising money for our trip, it is important that we have the full support of our family and friends. Whether it is a monetary donation or just keeping me in your prayers any donation is greatly appreciated. Other non-financial items such as small toys, crayons, clothing, books and medicine are also welcome donations. If you are interested in donating these items, please contact me directly at 507-3753. If you cannot give monetarily or by donations, then I ask for your prayers both leading up to and all throughout my trip to the Dominican Republic.
Please see Donation Information
I thank you in advance for taking the time to read my letter and I wish you and your family a Happy Holiday Season!
Aimee B. Anderson
South Grand Island Bridge Concrete Piers - Dec. 2008
For a few weeks I have been watching as an inspector went up and down each and every concrete pier under the South Grand Island Bridge. He started on the Tonawanda side first then went over to the Grand Island side.
On every pier there are markings, some of them look like jig saw puzzles. Some of the lines are white and some are orange. But they are everywhere on every pier.
Last year a group of concerned citizens attended a regular meeting of the bridge committee at Town Hall. Questions were brought up to the panel concerning structural damage to the bridge supports, bridge bearings, sliding plates and most importantly, rust that for years has been oozing out of the concrete piers that hold up the Grand Island South Bridge.
My major concern is and always has been the condition of the concrete piers. It is not normal to have rust running down the sides, cracks, chunks of concrete missing, and swelling concrete.
To my construction eye that is a tell tale sign of corrosion as water has permeated the concrete, saturated the areas around the steel reinforcement bar causing it to swell, rust and corrode. As the steel re bar swells it causes cracks and swelling concrete forcing the rust to ooze out of the concrete piers and run down the sides. Eventually chunks of concrete break off and fall to the ground leaving the re bar exposed to the weather causing further deterioration of the concrete pier.
Time after time we questioned the Thruway Authority board members and over and over they refused to agree that structural damage was happening. Only after the fifth question that was finely tuned did they answer in the affirmative.
As you can see by these pictures it has gotten much worse and finally now it appears they are planning on doing something about it. http://www.nogitolls.com/SouthBridgePiers.html
For decades the Thruway Authority has drilled into the population that they need the toll revenue to maintain the bridges, yet every single year the Thruway Authority has walked away from Grand Island Bridges with millions upon millions of our Toll dollars. Now, this coming year they plan on “Borrowing” over 45 Million to repair and re deck the North bound South Bridge. Apparently now they are planning on repairing the concrete piers, all of them including the bases and the bases that are in the Niagara River. Wouldn’t you think regular repairs and maintenance over these decades could have prevented all this?
This is completely irresponsible and shows that these bridge tolls are simply a cash cow for the Thruway Authority and Albany.
It is past time to remove these tolls. Bring in the Federal Dollars to repair the bridges and start construction of new ones.
To borrow this money now ensures the tolls will remain for decades to come.
Sign the petition and tell Albany to turn this road over to the NY State DOT and allow our gas tax dollars to rebuild these bridges.
I'll be happy to give any of you a tour and point out what I have been pointing out for a couple years.
Posted December 11, 2008
Mary Dunbar-Daluiso - Nov. 2008
Just to let you know, our own Queen Mary was honored this past weekend at the 2008 Eastern Division Relay for Life Leadership Conference. She was chosen as a Hero of Hope and if you read about what a Hero of Hope is, you will realize that Mary has and always will be our HOPE! She is amazing. I cannot tell you how jazzed and emotional I was when they read her name.
We love you Mary,
Posted November 26, 2008
Fundraiser For Family of Timothy Weczerek - Nov. 2008
On October 12, 2008, a terrible tragedy occurred. Timothy Weczerek, a fellow Islander, who was a, loving father and husband, son, brother-in-law, and dear friend to young and old, at the young age of 29, his life ended in an automobile accident on Whitehaven Road without warning, without explanation, without a goodbye. He left behind the love of his life of 15 years, his wife, Andrea, and their four beautiful children: Anthony (11), Frankie (8), Justin (6), and Kaylie (2).
Unfortunately, Tim had no life insurance policy with his employer, and his wife and children are left financially unstable. The van he was driving was not in their name so now the family is without a vehicle as well, thus making it even more difficult.
A benefit is being held in Tim’s honor for his family. We understand how very last minute this is, as the Holidays are drawing near as well. We are asking if you feel you can help in any way with a donation of any type such as gift baskets for the Chinese Auction or any ideas you have that may help us out, any contribution would be so gratefully appreciated, as we are sure you will be blessed.
For more information regarding donations or ticket purchase you may contact:
146 Angle Road
West Seneca, NY
The benefit is being held on Sunday, December 7th from 3-8 p.m. at Mixers, 1797 Niagara Street, Buffalo. Tickets are $20 and include live music, food, and draft beer, wine, ($2 well drinks available for purchase) pop and refreshments. There will also be a 50/50 raffle that will take place. You may purchase 50/50 tickets and benefit tickets as well at the Comic Book Café, 1771 Love Rd. (SEE BARTENDER)
For 50/50s and benefit tickets you can reach Kori (Grand Island 909-4754).
Again we know this is last minute but Tim’s family and friends felt the need to support his family during this holiday season as he would want the best for them. Andrea and Tim would have celebrated their 11-year wedding anniversary on November 19th as well as celebrating their 30th birthdays together.
We want to thank you for your time and understanding.
With Warmest Wishes during this Holiday Season and Always,
Family and Friends of the Weczerek Family
Posted November 20, 2008
Thank You Grand Island Community & Tops Market - Nov. 2008
On behalf of my family, my children, and myself, I would like to thank the Grand Island community and Tops Markets for the overwhelming extension of compassion and emotional support we have received since the passing of my husband and childrens' father, Anthony “Hungry” Tafelski. Your generous acts of kindness, words of condolence, and prayers have helped us through this very difficult and sad time. Words just can't express our deep appreciation of you all . . . .
Judy, Max and Ray Tafelski
Posted November 20, 2008
Girl Scout Leader Says Thank You - Nov. 2008
Just wanted to post
a great big "THANK YOU" to all of the girls from Girl Scout Troop 835 for collecting donations to send to SSG Michael Zaremski Jr. I'm sure he will love all of the great stuff they collected and sent to him in Afghanistan.
Also, another big thank you to McMahon's Family Restaurant for letting us set up and sell Girl Scout cookies in their parking lot this past weekend.
They were absolutely wonderfully accommodating!
Girl Scout Troop 835
Posted November 20, 2008
Clarification: Girls In Boy Scouting - Nov. 2008
I would just like to say in the "German Scout Visits Troop 630" - Nov. 2008 article was very informative except this one line: "The United States is only one of two countries that does not have co-ed Scouting. In most countries the members are just called scouts whether they are female or male." This is somewhat not true.
Yes, the United States doesn't have co-ed Boy Scouts, but we do have Venturing which started 10 years ago.
"Venturing is a youth development program of the Boy Scouts of America for young men and women who are 14 (and have completed the eighth grade) through 20 years of age. Venturing's purpose is to provide positive experiences to help young people mature and to prepare them to become responsible and caring adults. (http://www.scouting.org/venturing.aspx)
On the Island we do not currently have a Venturing Crew, but there are a bunch in the GNFC (Greater Niagara Frontier Council). I belong to Crew 2001 in Kenmore, NY. We are always looking for anybody. We normally meet 7 p.m. at Kenmore Middle School on Thursday. If anybody wants more information on joining or what our Crew does, email me email@example.com.
Venturing started out small but more young adults all over America are either join existing Crews or creating new ones.
Posted November 20, 2008
Neighbors Foundation Prepares For Holiday Season In Midst Of Tough Times - Nov. 2008
The Neighbors Foundation of Grand Island wants the community to know that we are prepared for the current, tough economic times, but hope that all will rally to help their neighbors. Most should know that the Foundation is an all-volunteer organization that has been ready for 35 years to help Grand Islanders in temporary need, with food and financial aid (primarily utility bills).
The Foundation has preserved its funds carefully, suspecting that hard times were possible. Now, with a greater call for emergency food aid, yet lower donations, we have purchased quantities of those staples most useful for families in emergency need (pasta, spaghetti sauce, ‘hamburger helper’, toiletries). Our pantry is thus well enough stocked for the immediate future. We have been blessed with recent donations from organizations such as K of C and East Park Garden Club, (plus several individuals) to keep our treasury sound, as needs arise for families in financial crisis with utility bills. The GI Ministerium will donate food and funds from their Thanksgiving Service at St Timothy Church on Sunday, Nov. 23 to the Foundation.
As the holiday season approaches, youth in our schools will be asked to donate non-perishable foods and toiletries for our Holiday distribution. We hope families will be generous with that donation – the need is great. The community at large is encouraged to donate to our ‘Share Your Happiness’ fund drive, sending any donations to P.O. Box 155, Grand Island NY 14072.
We believe that this community, by thinking of their neighbors even as they themselves face tougher times, can really be a grand island to live in. The Neighbors Foundation, with community help, will make it so.
Henry G. Kammerer
President, Neighbors Foundation of G.I. Inc.
Posted November 20, 2008
Coach Don Sauer
Master Motivator & Mentor - Oct. 2008
We are very fortunate here on Grand Island for such a wonderful school system filled with extra extraordinary individuals who make it so. One of those individuals is coach/teacher Don Sauer. For over 8 years he has coached Grand Island Cross Country. I am a true believer that team sports can provide priceless life lessons if done right. Coach Sauer does it right.
Every year Coach plans a trip for those team members who have earned a spot as one of the better runners determined by times. He chooses a destination that not only provides the athletes with an opportunity to compete against different competition, but to see other aspects of a community including historical, cultural and other amenities available to them. He also includes a tour of one or more of the areas local universities.
My son is a freshman this year and it was with some reluctance that he decided to go out for the cross country team. From day one, he was taught that everyone on the team is important. Running is hard. It takes a great deal of mental and physical discipline to train for the sport. Goal setting is a very big part of this sport. Working towards your personal best, not only for yourself but for the team is the mantra. One of the first things he learned from coach Sauer is that “hard work pays off.” He was one of the 15 team members invited to go on this year’s trip.
Coach Sauer uses the sport of Cross Country running to teach these kids simple but important lessons. This year’s team is made up of more than 30 girls and boys -- freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors. In addition to their athletic training they learn how to respect one another as men and women. They rally around each other unlike I have ever seen. At this tender age of uncertainty, they have an ease with one another that you can’t miss.
Cross Country is one of those sports that do not take place on school grounds. The meets are often at state and county parks, many of which take a good part of a day to complete. They spend a great deal of time traveling on buses, where they must cooperate, respect each others space, and adapt to each situation. Coach Sauer has an excellent approach with the team. He understands them as individuals, he gives them just enough space, he speaks to them on a mature level knowing just the right thing to say, and when to say it. Sauer handles discipline with strength and wisdom – never embarrassing or threatening them. He is the "Master Motivator."
Grand Island Cross Country has a very strong team. (Girls 7-0, Boys 6-1) They have learned to be better runners, but more importantly to a parent, they are better people. The team members have had many success stories over the years – there is no doubt in my mind that Coach Don Sauer is a big part of those successes. You could not ask for a better MENTOR.
Keep working your magic . . . . And thank you.
The Varsity XC parents
Posted October 30, 2008
Grotz Family Extends Appreciation - Oct. 2008
We would like to thank the Grand Island community for the outpouring of support provided our family since the passing of our daughter Meaghan. The words of condolences, acts of kindness and emotional support we have received from our extended family and friends have helped us immensely during this difficult time. Thank you all for reminding us all why this community is such a wonderful place to live.
Tim and Kate Grotz
Posted October 23, 2008
Resident Addresses Sparks Stable Issues - Oct. 2008
I recently received a phone call from a fellow horse owner, Amy Lou Taylor. Taylor was interested in going to the hearing for the animal cruelty charges that had been brought against Grand Island Riding Stable owner Peter Sparks. Although this is the first time that Sparks has been arrested for animal cruelty, it is only the most recent episode in a litany of investigations into Sparks' questionable business practices. I was unable to attend the hearing with Taylor but as a member of the equine community I felt as though I could not continue to look the other way and so decided to share my opinion about Sparks and his business practices.
I have been a horse owner for the past 40 years and currently own three horses which are stabled on my own property. By stabling my own horses I am able to monitor all aspects of the care taking process. This gives me an expert understanding of what it takes, from feeding practices to medical care, to maintain the health of a horse.
I own horses of various ages, and each horse has specific dietary needs that directly relates to their age and what they do for a living.
For instance I have a 26-year-old mare that up until 4 years ago was still winning championship titles in open local shows. She now is retired and requires twice as much feed as my younger horses even though she no longer works. Also, she stills requires the same veterinary and hoof care that the younger horses do.
Sparks has been investigated by the SPCA for years. This has been an ongoing problem with Sparks' establishment and been discussed amongst myself and other members of the equine community for the past 15 years or so.
I am personally very disappointed in all of the professionals involved with this case besides Dr. Jean Feldman. The photos that have been submitted as evidence for the case clearly exhibit horses in ill health. Sparks claims that they are simply showing signs of old age, but my many years of experience with these animals tells me that they are malnourished. My 26-year-old mare is looking her age, however her hip bones and ribs are not visible as are those of the horses in question. The government of Grand Island has continuously looked the other way and ignored numerous complaints of the derelict conditions of the Sparks' business.
To take proper care of the 50 head of horses that Sparks is rumored to own (plus other livestock) would be an extremely expensive endeavor. It is questionable at best that his business would be able to pull in the sort of money to make the operation feasible, that is, if he were to give all of his stock the proper care.
I have lifetime membership to the Cornell 4-H program, due to the many years that I was a group leader. One of my main objectives as a leader was to impress upon the young girls in my club the importance of proper horse husbandry (horse Care). I feel it is important for young people learning about horse ownership to understand that responsibilities come first and fun comes second.
During the trial the defense built a case by attacking the credibility of the SPCA staff and facilities. Sparks' attorney, Patrick Wesp, claims that the opinions of these licensed vets are not sufficient evidence in the case against his client. Dr. Jean Feldman testified expressing that, in her professional opinion, the animals in question were not properly being fed. To counter the opinion of this large animal specialist the defense used the testimony of local veterinarian Dr. Paul Harper. Dr. Harper is a small animal specialist who last cared for a large animal (a horse) approximately 3 years ago. It is inexplicable how the Grand Island courts could consider Dr. Harper's opinion more credible than that Dr. Feldman's.
The fact that the GI legal system let Sparks off the hook is unacceptable. The fact that he was allowed to regain possession of his animals only reinforces his own claims and the cheers of others that paint a picture of his operation as one of great benevolence. Sparks claims that he is saving these horses from slaughter, but the question is, is what they are being brought back to much better? It is time that we, as concerned citizens, demand that Sparks' operation is subject to greater scrutiny by the Grand Island courts.
Disappointed Life Long Islander,
Posted October 23, 2008
Resident Promotes Grand Island Buffalo/Niagara Region As World Peace Capitol - Oct. 2008
I am promoting the Grand Island Buffalo/Niagara region as a World Peace capitol. I believe that after people evaluate the plan at this website, they will think it is the right thing for America to do to get itself back on track as a nation to follow. It is a time for us all to step back and take a look at what we believe in and what is the best course for world peace for our children going forward. Please see http://www.alphaomeganewjerusalem.com/.
Posted October 15, 2008
Citizen Seeks Support Regarding Fix/Baseline Intersection - Sept. 2008
September 15, 2008
We need desperately to make the intersection of Baseline & Fix roads a 4-way stop or maybe even have a traffic signal placed there.
As you know there has been numerous accidents there. We experienced an almost accident there this past weekend. This is a very dangerous situation. The town is not responsible for placing stop signs on Baseline Road, since this is a county road.
But we need everyone's help in this matter. Everyone who travels this intersection would agree, it is dangerous! Anyone interested in helping can place a phone call to The Highway Dept. of Erie County at 858-8300 and voice their opinion to correct this problem.
Let's not wait until someone's precious loved one gets killed in an accident. Let's act now, that is why we pay taxes.
Posted September 15, 2008
Possibility Of Cell Tower On School Property - Sept. 2008
September 12, 2008 . . .
To Whom It May Concern:
This letter is to alert all parents to a situation that I was informed about at a recent PTA meeting. We were told by the Board President himself, Richard Little Jr, that the board voted to allow Verizon to run tests, but has not decided to allow construction of a tower, as of yet! I was told by Mr. Little that the tower would be located on the North Eastern part of the Huth Road Elementary School property.
I find it irresponsible and inappropriate that our school board would even remotely entertain the idea to construct this tower on property so close to our children.
There has been a lot of talk in the media lately about the dangers of cell phones, and there is substantial information on the risks of being near such a tower. The health ramifications are not clearly known, and in my opinion, the risks far outweigh the benefits of saving the taxpayers a small amount each year. I have done hours of research, and what I find just reaffirms the safety concerns all parents would have. Concern about the safety of this part of the electromagnetic spectrum has spanned decades, fueling both government and industry research, although nowhere near enough, or of any appropriate kind. Nevertheless, the research has turned up disturbing results. It has been known for decades that the human anatomy acts as a perfect antenna for FM radio frequencies, and that our bodies reach peak absorption in the ultra-high frequency ranges, right where cellular transmissions occur. Non-thermal hazards may include the following:
numerous cancers, immune system suppression, birth defects, miscarriage, cardiac disruption, chronic fatigue, as well as learning disabilities and memory loss. In New Zealand, cell phone towers are prohibited on school property because of possible health effects. In 2004, the International Association of Fire Fighters came out against the use of firehouses for cell antennas “until a study with the highest scientific merit” can prove they are safe. We find out years later that FDA approved drugs are not safe for our health and even the plastic containers we keep our foods and baby formula in may not be safe because they contain a dangerous chemical. We can avoid this danger, and as elected officials, it is your job to put the best interest of our CHILDREN FIRST.
As a mom, taxpayer and registered voter, I urge the board to please re-consider allowing any type of construction of the tower on school property. We work hard to protect our children from predators, drugs, and even the Internet. Our schools are supposed to be an area of safety. Do not put a cell phone tower on our school property--keep our children safe! Let’s work together as a community and say “no” to corporations. Please do not be tempted by the licensing revenues of placing such a facility on our children’s school property.
And if you are wondering, yes, I do have a cell phone. I know this is a necessary utility, but we can say no, and we should say no. I would choose the health of my child over “better coverage” any day.
Thank you for your consideration.
Posted September 15, 2008
And Now, The Rest of the Story - Sept. 2008
For those old enough to remember Paul Harvey’s radio broadcast every day (actually he is still on the air), he would tell what seems to be a complete anecdote... then saying, "and now, the rest of the story." Harvey then continues the tale, often completely reversing the impression you might take from the first part.
Similarly, I am going to tell you the rest of the story about the debacle concerning the request by a home-schooled child to participate in intramural extra-curricular activities. As Kevin Purdy , the Buffalo News Northtowns Correspondent wrote on 05/13/08: “Only one home-schooled student has signed up for the extracurricular activities opened nearly three weeks ago to non-enrolled children by the Grand Island Central School District, officials said Monday.” Doesn’t it strike you as a bit odd that the District made such a mockery of itself (See my “How do you Humiliate a Hamster? Letter to the Editor in April) in its resistance to opening up the extra-curriculars to all of the taxpayers’ children, only to have just one show up?
I happened to be speaking with the mother of the young girl who registered the other day and said, “All of that rigmarole only to have one person sign up.” I was then told that the District changed the time of the activity from after school to 8:00 am – 8:45 am; that is, prior to the school day. Huh? Clearly, this was a deliberate effort on the District’s part to discourage enrollment.
The petty, mean-spirited attitude of the District is appalling, but in keeping with the way they do things. I’m sure they didn’t think that this topic would get any further attention after Mr. Purdy’s article. This behavior, though, screams for answers: why did they change the time; who made the decision; and where was the Board in all of this?
At the July Board meeting when Jim Hanna announced his resignation, he went on about how this Board addressed all of the issues with the highest level of integrity. What a pantload. Either they are ignorant of what the District officials are doing or are complicit in their actions. Either way, the word integrity seems out of place.
The District officials, including the board, have done everything possible to frustrate allowing taxpayers’ children from partaking in these extra-curricular activities Note the word ‘extra’; this signifies that these activities are not part of the school system’s mission of educating children. If they were eliminated in their entirety the District would still be fulfilling its mandate. As such, there is no legitimate reason to exclude any of the taxpayers’ children from partaking. Needless to say, the District disagrees. They want nothing to do with anyone that they can’t control or manipulate completely. They are unused to being challenged or even questioned, despite spending $50 million of our money.
While this particular issue doesn’t affect very many of the people on the Island, the attitude and actions displayed by the Board and District should be of concern. Someday one of their actions will affect you directly, but the apathy of citizenry, which they count on, believe me, will cause you to be stymied in your attempts to get any satisfaction. The Board and District will engage in the good old ‘rope-a-dope’ defense: ignoring you until you quit from fatigue.
To quote Thomas Jefferson: " ... whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that, whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights"
This requires becoming informed and demanding that our officials do the right thing. This issue is as good a place to start as any.
James M. Mulcahy
Posted September 10, 2008
How Did I Get To Be 60 - Fire Company Reflections - 2008
By Gail Lazenby
How did I get to be 60 years old? It was only yesterday that Veronica Connor and Reva Kohn were hiring me to fill an 8th grade English teacher vacancy in the Middle School. That was December, 1969.
The 1981 picture brought back lots of memories. I can remember Bill Weis and Norm Mrkall arguing over our ability to raise $100,000 to fund the "reconstruction" of Fire Headquarters. There were a whole bunch of folks who felt that we were reaching for the moon. But, then again, Grand Island Fire never settled for second best.
It's interesting, now that I'm long removed from the Grand Island scene, but I constantly hear about Grand Island and how it is compared to The Villages (Florida). As you know, I am a Captain in the Villages Public Safety Department in charge of EMS and quality assurance. We have 62 full-time personnel, including former Islanders Jeff Loder (wife Jennifer Weis Loder) and Jason Weis (wife Maureen Rotella Weis) - many of whom were my students. At a Villages Fire Department meeting last week, Jeff made a comment about how we did things on Grand Island, and how The Villages Department could benefit by following the GIFCo example.
Don't get me wrong: The Villages Fire Department is absolutely top notch. We have exceptionally trained personnel, our response times are way below the national average, and our facilities/equipment are second to none. But Jeff's comments got me wondering. Do the residents of Grand Island know how good they have it when it comes to their fire and EMS service? I spent 31 years of my life working to make GIFCo the best possible fire/rescue service in Western New York. It didn't fall apart when I retired and moved to Florida. I never expected that it would! GIFCo has continued to grow and serve the community in ways I never imagined.
Maybe age has made me more sanguine. Grand Island has exceptional personnel. You have a Chief line that is made up of some of the best-trained, most knowledgeable individuals in any community. Chief Greg Butcher, Deputy Chief Kevin Koch, and Assistant Chiefs Matt Osinski and Chris Soluri are on par with chief officers of departments that serve communities three, four, even five times larger than Grand Island. The entire crew - chiefs, junior officers, and rank & file - are better trained, more attuned to the community's needs, and more capable of doing the job - fire or EMS - far better than you'll find in most communities.
The Grand Island Fire Company of today wasn't free and its reputation wasn't a public relations invention. It was years of hard work put in by a whole lot of dedicated Islanders. Some are gone, some remain.
As September 11th approaches, a time of tremendous national mourning as well as a time for honoring emergency responders around the country, Islanders should take a moment to remember men like Cy Diebold, Ed Kruse, Art Wade, Mitch Brace, Larry Hagerman, Harold and Don Barth and so many more who have answered their last alarm. And if you run into Norm Mrkall, Bill Weis, Pete McMahon, Ray Pauley, Lou D'Orazio, Dick Byron, Jim Linenfelser, Dave Tolejko, Bill Wood, Pete Coppola, Steve Morgan, Andy Beyer. Dan McMahon, Dr. Ted Rayhill, Dr, David Johnson, and so many more, offer a hand and thank them for what you have. Without the contributions of men like these, the Grand Island Fire Company could easily be "just another fire company."
I work for an extraordinary fire department - The Villages Public Safety Department. But I'm also a life member of an extraordinary fire company - The Grand Island Fire Company. I become more aware of that with each passing day.
Obviously, with age comes reflection!
Thanks and best wishes - Gail
TANSTAAFL - Sept. 2008
TANSTAAFL: “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”; if only our school District officials understood this. In a recent release that can be found on Isledegrande.com, the District lauded itself for having its bond rating raised by Moody’s. Moody’s cites the District’s bond rating upgrade from A2 to A1 to strong management and fiscal performance in a growing tax base. Other things equal, a higher bond rating is to be preferred to a lower one. However, rarely are they equal.
District superintendent, Robert Christmann, was quoted as saying “Moving to an A-1 rating from our old A-2 designation will save our taxpayers thousands of dollars over both the long and short term.” Let’s put some numbers to these great savings he is talking about. Recent tax-exempt bond rates were 3.55% for A-rated bonds and 3.19% for Aa bonds for a seven-year term. I chose this term because the spread is the greatest between the rates, implying that the savings would be greatest in this term. These rates are for the A2 and the Aa2 grades, the midpoint within each rating category. To go from A2 to Aa2, there are two grades in between: A1 and Aa3. If we take the 36 basis point difference between the A2 and Aa2 rates: 3.55% -3.19%; and spread it linearly across the ratings we see that the A1 rating would have a 3.43% rate; the Aa3, 3.31%; and Aa2, 3.19%. This shows that the rating improvement resulted in a 12 basis point improvement in our cost of funds; that is .0012.
Using the $18.4 million capital project far and away the largest recent financing by the district, as the base for determining the savings, we find that the savings amount to $22,080 (=18.4MM*.0012) in total per year. As the outstandings decline the savings becomes smaller. The savings per household is under $4.00 per year. Whoopee!
How did we get to the upgrade? Moody’s says it was due to strong management and fiscal performance in a growing tax base. The growing tax base is only tangentially, at best, due to the District. I know they will say that a good school District increases property values. Unfortunately (for them), correlation is not equivalent to causation. Further, almost one-sixth of those eligible to attend the District’s schools opt out, choosing either parochial schools, private schools, or home-schooling. This provides a huge windfall for the District. Imagine the additional costs if these 600+ children suddenly decided to attend the District’s schools?
It is critical to keep in mind that bond ratings are only interested in the likelihood of the bond holders being made whole at the end of the day. What happens to the equity holders, or in this case the taxpayers, doesn’t concern them. In fact, equity holders are just nice fat mattresses for the bond holders to fall on; the higher the bond rating the thicker the mattress. In the corporate market, bonds do not like dividends because they are cash outflows. Bonds like big cash balances, the bigger the better, but they will settle for access to cash, through bank credit lines, for instance.
How does that have any relevance here, you ask? In March of this year, the District patted itself on the back for having a reserve balance in excess of $200,000. In August, we were told that it was over $2 million, and that there was an additional $2 million available to be put into their slush fund, oops!, I meant their capital reserve fund. Neither of these is a small number. The budget approved in May, according to the State Dept. of Education website, required $26,967,198 to be raised via the property tax. If they kept to the $200,000 reserve fund which was considered wonderful in March, $1.8 million less would need to have been raised, or 6.67% less. Instead of a 1.95% tax increase, there could have been a 4.72% decrease. If we didn’t fund an account that is inappropriate on so many levels, taxes could have been reduced another 7.42%. Combined these amount to over 14%. This would translate into about a $300 decrease in the average property tax bill.
Last Spring the Federal Government sent out stimulus checks that were less than this. Grand Island taxpayers, all Grand Island taxpayers, could have benefited. People are paying in excess of 6% for a mortgage, more for home equity loans, and anywhere from 10% to 21.6% on their credit cards. Having this $300 would lower their interest expense substantially. Instead, the District hoards our cash to save 12 basis points on its borrowing costs. To put it another way, it would take one 75 years or more to get the savings from the improvement from an A2 to an A1 rating.
Does anyone seriously believe that this is sound fiscal management? Unfortunately, this is what passes for rational thinking on economic issues by the District. Besides being wasteful with our money, they don’t even have the most fundamental understanding of finance or economics. Do we really want these folks to have control over one cent more than is absolutely necessary to operate the District?
James M. Mulcahy
Posted September 8, 2008
Thank You - 2008
The 4th of July on Grand Island has grown to be an Island wide reunion. This past weekend, seven Grand Island High School classes and the Sidway School alumni held reunions. As families and friends began to return to Grand Island this past week to prepare for the 4th and its festivities, those tell tail signs along the Boulevard that a parade was in the offing began to appear. The Judges stand, trash barrels, and families “staking” out their territory with tents, campers and chairs. At the VFW, tents, fencing and final preparations for the open house were in progress. For me the week flew by in a flash, day and night preparations, phone calls and those unanticipated snags had to be worked out. Friday morning arrived and hopefully, everything would work out okay. A final check of the weather report, we were in for an excellent day. After the parade, the Post grounds filled with families and friends for a day of fun and entertainment. Before I knew it, someone said the park would be closing in a few minutes, everything was almost over except for the Fireworks at Martin’s Fantasy Island.
On behalf of the Veterans and the members of the Men’s and Ladies Auxiliaries, I would like to thank everyone for supporting the Charles N. DeGlopper Memorial VFW Post 9249 and our annual open house. Without your support the Post would not be able to assist the Veterans and their families as we do.
Support of Wrestler's Trip Greatly Appreciated - 2008
Thanks to everyone for all of your support and donations. Also thank you to everyone who attended or bought a ticket for my fundraiser at the Brick Oven (thanks to Brian, Steve and Tina from the Brick), a special thanks to my high school head coach, Jeff Johnston, Pat Hagerty my off season coach and the Grand Island Wrestling Club for their support.
All of the money raised will be put towards the cost for my trip to the Team New York Training Camp held in Binghamton, New York and the Cadet Freestyle/Greco-Roman National Championships held in Fargo, North Dakota. I will be leaving for camp July 13th, then to Fargo on July 18th, with wrestling starting July 19th.
Thank you all,
Bridget McMahon Extends Thanks For Donations - 2008
After spending this spring training for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s ½ Marathon in Lake Placid, I am happy to say the walk/jog was completed in three hours and 26 minutes. While the walk was grueling at times as there are mountains, not hills, in the Adirondacks, I am happy to have had the opportunity to represent the many organizations and individual supporters from Grand Island and around the area for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society including VFW Post 9249, Women and Men's Auxiliaries of the VFW, the Loyal Order of The Moose, Women of the Moose, Sidway School, and the Grand Island Fire Company. This is just a few who donated and I can't begin to thank everyone enough who donated and supported me throughout this.
The marathon took everyone up and down the hills (Mountains), around Mirror Lake, through town and back to the start/finish line at the Olympic Speed Skating oval. It was a view and an experience I will never soon forget and cannot wait to do again. Thank you everyone.
A big THANK YOU to my family. I don't know how far I would have made it with out you. I Love You All.
Posted June 26, 2008
Thank You! Grand Island - 2008
Recently the Disabled American Veterans, Grand Island Chapter #168 held its “Forget Me Not" Fund Drive. The officers and members of the Grand Island Chapter #168, Disabled American Veterans, extend their heartfelt “Thanks“ to all who donated to our cause. Your donation will enable us to aid and comfort needy Veterans, help in providing transportation to and from medical service appointments at the VAMC And various other needs of the Veterans Hospital Voluntary services.
We are also committed to service in our community, participating in local projects and providing Scholarships to graduating Grand Island High School students. This year two scholarships were awarded in memory of our Past Treasurer Kenneth Wagner and Past Commander Paul Kane. Their concern for the education of our young students was a top priority.
Thanks to the Grand Island town Board for their Proclamation naming June 19th, 20th and 21st 2008 as “Forget Me Not" Days on Grand Island. The proclamation helped make the Drive a great success.
Again many thanks from the Veterans of Grand Island, NY.
Officers and Members of the DAV
Joe Synakowski, Commander
David Birt, Adjutant
Posted June 26, 2008
Relay For Life, team Giambra's Hope Expresses Appreciation - 2008
Grand Island Relay For Life and team Giambra's Hope thanks all the generous businesses that participated in this year's Grand Island Relay for Life Discount Card. The cards are still available at $10 per card with all proceeds benefiting the American Cancer Society. See Complete Discount Card Information.
Posted June 24, 2008
Christmann, School Board Express Appreciation - 2008
One of the shortcomings of our day to day lives is that we fail to say “thank you” as often as it is deserved. We are too busy to sometimes to remember the simple things that we should do to recognize how others have helped us.
With that in mind, I’m writing to all the residents of Grand Island to express the deepest appreciation of the Grand Island Board of Education and myself for taking the time and effort to vote on May 20th on the school budget and propositions. The 2008-09 budget reflects our best hopes for our students while we believe respecting the limited financial resources of our taxpayers. We will continue to work hard to earn your trust and support in all aspects of our public school responsibilities including the annual budget.
While a simple “thank you” seems to be not nearly enough, please know that it is heartfelt and sincere. Our students and staff also say “thank you” for the high level of parental and community support that remains the standard for Grand Island. The future of the Grand Island Central School District will continue to be very bright indeed.
Robert W. Christmann
Superintendent of Schools
Posted June 17, 2008
Relay For Life Could Not Been More Perfect - 2008
Well, how will I be able to stop talking about this year's Relay For Life? What a perfect night!
So many thank yous:
Charles N. DeGlopper Color Guard, Glenn Hillman (National Anthem), Bob Christmann, Sandra Anzalone, Anthoine Thompson, Cindy Wynne, Girl Scouts (Luminara preparation), Linda Tuffillaro (GI Rec. Dept.), Grand Island Fire Company, paramedics and police. GI Central School District staff, HSBC (Angela, Jackie), Bonnie Sciuk (Relay Store), Diane Darmofalski, Karen Cooney and Betty Lantz of the Town Clerks office. Also Grand Island Young Life club for setting up the luminarias, Boy Scout Troop 630 of St. Stephens, led by Tony Zukic, for after celebration clean-up of the school grounds. Also Dean Gallagher for am/pm garbage detail, and everyone who took part in fundraising activities that make this event such a success year after year.
Thanks also to everyone who purchased a purple bow or came to deSignet Jewelers for purple ribbon to show support in the unity in our quest for a cure.
You just amaze me. "In giving you receive" is a great life lesson. I know each and every cancer survivor thanks you. We have a "natural" resource surrounding this "Island of Hope." It is truly an honor to live among such compassionate people. Within our town, we had two mini relays this year at Kaegebein and Huth Road Elementary schools. Hopefully, this knowledge will enable us to grow together and eliminate cancer in the students' lifetime. That's a goal worth working for.
I want to extend an open invitation to every survivor to attend the Relay next year. Our goal to celebrate life through this event is at the top of our list. The Relay is a true family event for all ages and it gives our Island community a chance to be together having fun.
Our Relay committee is so wonderful throughout the year and I need to send a sincere thanks to them for all their work.
Sue and Eric Berger, Deb Bota, Catherine Bruch, Cheryl Chamberlain, Sandra Cook, Barb Custodi, Dennis Donovan, Lisa Dudley, Sheryl Fiedler, Daneen Gallagher, Kevin Hagen, Rosemary Hajnos, Lauren Kucharski, Arlene Larry, Cari Luciani, Dan McBride, Candise Mye, Mandy Myers, Jodi Robinson, Marietta Rotella, Kim Schopp, Alicia Sommer, Becky Sommer-Stufkoski, Donna and J.T. Tomkins, Patty VeRost, Liz Wilbert and for the great support of my co-chair Peter McMahon.
Together with their planning and your hard work, the vision of HOPE becoming a CURE is closer. May we find the resolve to sprint to the finish line!
I love all of you dearly,
Mary A. Dunbar-Daluisio
Posted May 28, 2008
*The saplings given to survivors were a gift from Senator Anthoine Thompson's office, cared for at the Grand Island High School and decorated by an angel.
VFW Expresses Appreciation For Poppy Drive - 2008
The Charles N. DeGlopper Memorial VFW Post 9249 would like to thank you, the citizens of Grand Island, our friends and relatives, for your donations during this
year’s Buddy Poppy drive, held last Thursday, Friday and Saturday. This year’s
successful drive will help the Post and the VFW to continue providing for Veterans
and their families throughout the coming year.
VFW Post 9249
Posted May 28, 2008
Disrespect At Memorial Day Service Is Travesty - 2008
I have to say that I just came home from the Memorial Day service and thought that it was wonderfully executed. I feel that everyone spoke very well and it was an excellent tribute to our heroes, fallen and living. I was there to honor all of the soldiers, including a family relative, Robert Luther who was unfortunately killed in Vietnam. However, while the Grand Island band played the Star Spangled Banner, the fifth fireman from the podium, tall, glasses, and baseball hat, was very disrespectful to the service, the soldiers, and the country. You see as the song was being played he was moving around with his hands in his pockets and then worst of all pulled a cell-phone from his pocket and began to play with it. This not only reflects on the Grand Island Fire Dept. but all first responders everywhere. I am a Police Officer in a neighboring city and it was disrespectful to all of us who serve our community. I hope that this is not taken lightly, because as I was leaving, two veterans that I know mentioned it to me, so I was not the only person to observe this travesty on a day to honor our often forgotten men and women in the service. Thank you for your time in this matter.
Posted May 28, 2008
American Legion Extends Appreciation - 2008
The Grand Island American Legion Post 1346 held its annual Mother’s Day Flower sale fundraiser this past weekend.
We would like to thank everyone who stopped by and helped our fundraiser to be a success again this year.
Special thanks to Legion members for donating their weekend, the VFW for letting us again use their facilities and donating coffee, Ms. Linda M. Kutzbach for sponsoring radio talk time, Dan McBride for the live broadcast (we were sold out by then), Isledegrande.com, The Island Dispatch, and the PennySaver for their coverage.
This year’s fundraiser is going to two (2) newly created scholarships for the High School seniors, Relay for Life and to local charities.
We hope everyone had a Happy Mother’s Day and look forward to next year.
Robert J. Soluri
Posted May 22, 2008
Kindness Of Community Appreciated - May 2008
I'd like to thank all the friends and folks of Grand Island for the outpouring of sympathy and support after the death of my father, Dr. Robert J. Elmes. As many know, we basically grew up on Grand Island, a place that my father worked hard to be able to bring us to and accomplished in settling us there. He was mentor to us and everyone that he touched.
I also wish to thank, in particular, those who donated to the Robert J. Elmes Jr., Buffalo State College, Scholarship fund which my Dad was very involved with and Buffalo Hospice, Ross at Kaiser, the Grand Island Fire Company who did some personal patient care above and beyond the call and particularly the professionalism, expertise and patience of a dispatcher there and the Chief who personally returned my call to discuss and alleviate concerns that I had. It was a shame that after at least 6 calls, I could not contact a single live soul at the Erie County SO's office to achieve some simple inquiries. Turns out, we didn't need them anyway.
All in all, the support received from the Grand Island community was nothing short of wonderful. Hey'all, from a simple Texas boy.... Thanks. see ya on the 4th!
Patrick R. Elmes
Posted May 14, 2008
Team MOOSE-kateers Thanks You! - May 2008
(top left) Mark Hinkle, Mary Hinkle, Rick Hinkle; (middle) Nancy Anderson, Lynn Dingey, Maria Fox, Patti Kendzierski;
(bottom) Joan Dlugokinski, Jim Dlugokinski, Carol Jones, Sue Marston, Steve Jones
Relay for Life Team MOOSE-kateers would like to take a minute to THANK everybody that took part in our Relay for Life Chicken BBQ on May 10th. Many of you gave generously of your time and hard earned money to help the MOOSE-kateers raise just over $4,000 for Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society.
We greatly appreciate all the BBQ supplies donated by the Grand Island Moose Lodge, The Beach House, Copy Cat 2.0, Grand Island Rod & Gun Club, Tops, Modern Disposal, Voss Dental Agency, Mallwitz’s Island Lanes, Dennis Lunney and Wendy’s along with all the wonderful baskets donated by so many of the local businesses and families on the Island.
THANK YOU for helping us to Celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, Remember loved ones lost to the disease & Fight Back because we desperately want to put an end to this horrible disease by supporting Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society.
Don’t forget Relay Night is June 6th ~ Opening Ceremony begins at 6:30 pm.. at the Grand Island High School track! Hope to see you all there!!
Relay for Life
The Despicable Behavior Continues - May 2008
On April 17, I had a letter to the editor published on Isledegrande.com. It presented my opinion about the shabby treatment of an Island resident by the School Board. I didn’t think the Board and district could sink lower. Alas, I was wrong.
On May 1, 2008 my letter to the Editor was published on Isledegrande.com regarding an upcoming school district proposition vote. Specifically, I exhorted voters to vote no on Proposition #2. This proposition concerns the establishment of a capital reserve fund. It is a horrendous idea. (I will be happy to explain to anyone why I believe so.)
My issue today is that I received my copy of “The 2008 Budget Bridge” in the mail last Friday. On page 8 it lists the items to be voted on. The list is a reordering of the list published by the district in “Notice of Public Hearing and Budget Vote – 2008.” This notice was published on Isledegrande.com as well as in the Dispatch. What is my issue, you ask? Instead of listing the Budget and the election of the trustees and then the 2 propositions, as was done in the Official Notice, the listing in the Bridge lists the items to be voted on as propositions I-IV. They didn’t even use Arabic numerals as in the Official notice, but Latin ones. The capital fund issue is now Proposition IV.
One doesn’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to see what is going on here. The district reordered and renumbered the items to confuse the voters. No other explanation holds water. This behavior, which continues a long tradition over there, is despicable. They obviously realize that this capital fund idea is not likely to pass the snicker (tee hee) test.
It has no redeeming features about it. None.
The utter contempt that the district holds the voters in is deplorable. They are hoping that the voters don’t realize the shell game that is being played. Given this tawdry approach on their part, does anyone really want to give them funds IN ADVANCE of when they are needed? Doesn’t it make more sense to use one’s own funds for one’s own personal needs first? If, and when, the district makes a case for capital expenditures the voters can decide at that time whether or not to fund them.
Please read the ballot carefully and vote no on the capital reserve fund issue, regardless of where the district puts it.
James M. Mulcahy
Posted May 12, 2008
Thank You Grand Island Community - May 2008
Disbelief in the eyes of Dave Breier - Click photo for larger view
The David Breier family thanks you for your hard efforts, community support and words of encouragement to bring our dog, Reese, home.
The past two months were difficult. Many times we became discouraged for our dog's safe return. The phone would ring again and hope returned. The sightings were numerous, stretching from one side of the Island to the other. With each call, we jumped back in the car with hopes of bringing our Reese home. It finally happened on May 3rd! He ran into my husband's arms after being spotted across from the Holiday Inn. What a true miracle.
Reese is home, doing great and is well adjusted. Our family is complete again.
Once again, thank you Grand Island. We are proud to be a part of this community.
The David Breier Family
Posted Thursday, May 8, 2008
Roast Beef for Relay Raises over $3,300.00 - May 2008
On behalf of the Relay for Life team of The Record Breakers featuring The Polka Dot Chix, we would like to thank everyone for coming out on Saturday and supporting us. We had an amazing turn-out and were able to raise over $3,300.00 for The American Cancer Society. We would especially like to thank the following businesses and supporters for their generosity: Jaime and Alicia Adamczyk, Coca-Cola Products, Copy Cat Printing, Costanzo’s Bakery, Island Deli and Meat Market, Isledegrande.com, Grand Island Record, Island Dispatch and Pennysavers and their Staff’s, Knights of Columbus, Luigi’s Bakery, LW Graphics, Mill’s Distributing, Sams Club/Walmart, Solid Gold Music, The Many, Many Companies and Friends of Relay for donating so many wonderful basket raffle items, Tops, Wardynski’s Meats, Jackie Lennert, Ellen Ali, Pam and Jennifer Moeller, The Swain Family, Rene Gugino, Cheryl from the Committee, Ray and Max Tafelski, Gilda Bonnevie, Tricia Giambattista, Lynn Dingey, Nancy Anderson, Tookey the Clown, Rebecca Gasiorek, Cassidy Smith, Sara Johnson, Kayleigh Shepard, Peter from the Knights and in case we forgot anyone, thank you, thank you, thank you. Together, we are partners in finding a cure and we thank you for being the best partners anyone could ever have.
Dan McBride and Alicia Sommer
Posted Thursday, May 1, 2008
Resident Advises Vote No on Proposition 2! - May 2008
The Grand Island School Board has two propositions for the voters to consider on May 20. The first is straightforward: continue the replacement cycle of the school buses. Jack Burns and his staff do an excellent job; they deserve our continued support.
Proposition 2 is a different story altogether. The enabling legislation: Section 3651 of the NY State Education law; would make a wonderful topic for a Political Science or Public Choice Theory Masters Thesis. What line of reasoning caused this nonsense to be enacted into law? It is a breeding ground for mischief or worse.
Turning to the issue at hand. The School board wants to be able to stuff funds into an account, collect interest on them, and then spend it as they see fit. I know that the law states that the projects must be approved by the voters. State Law says that now for all of the capital expenditures the school system undertakes, not just those funded through this slush fund. The law hasn’t prevented the Board from saying one thing and doing something else. A couple of examples will make my point: in 1999 the voters approved $18.4 million in expenditures that included new science labs and new energy saving equipment. The latter cost was $2.145 million. The $18.4 million did NOT include expenditures on a 3rd gym at the high school.
The science labs were not built; the 3rd gym was. (I’m told that use of this gym is close to being by invitation only.) The energy saving project was found to be able to be funded via a long-term lease which doesn’t need voter approval. This freed up the $2.145 million; actually, it was $2.3 million that was finally funded, giving the district another $155,000 to spend on God knows what. They certainly never asked our permission or told anyone about it.
With overruns, they admit to spending $18.7 million but that excludes the $2.3 million on the energy lease. Ergo, they spent $21 million and still didn’t get any science labs. If it wasn’t for the EXCEL (= FREE MONEY) program of a year and a half ago, the labs still wouldn’t be built. The maintenance of the buildings was ignored until the FREE MONEY came along, also. Even here, there was sleight of hand. The voters were given a very specific list of projects to be funded in December, 2006. I asked if there were any other projects identified at the public hearing. I was told no, or at least, the Board and Mrs. Ingrasci wouldn’t divulge any when asked, point blank, if there were any. No sooner than the roofing job comes in below cost, than the District announces that the savings will be spent on backup generators. Where did this need appear from? It is clear that they wanted these all along but wouldn’t tell us about them.
My point is that the District officials can’t be trusted with our funds. They have lied, repeatedly, in the past about what they were doing with the funds we approved. When called on their lies, they engaged in smear campaigns. In other cases, they have not funded maintenance and repair items in the operating budget because that would either cause them to have to ask for higher taxes or, heaven forbid, make a choice about something to be deleted from the budget. Anyone who was at the public session in the Fall of 2006 and saw the pictures of the leaking roof had to be appalled. That didn’t happen overnight; the district knew about the roof’s problems long before then.
Further, why should today’s taxpayers prefund an account that they may not be around for? The most efficient and appropriate way to fund capital expenditures is to use BANs, bond anticipation notes, which are short-term funding vehicles to pay the contractors over the course of the project. The total amount outstanding grows over the course of the construction period. At the completion of the project the BANs are converted into long-term bonds that amortize over the expected life of the capital. This way those who benefit from the expenditures pay for them, not someone who may have lived here at some point in the past.
In summary, then, this is a terrible idea. In fact, it is a colossally terrible idea. The District has an abysmal track record of being good stewards with our money. And even if they did, this is an inefficient and inappropriate way to fund capital projects. VOTE NO on Proposition 2.
Posted Thursday, May 1, 2008
How Do You Humiliate a Hamster? - April 2008
This was a question the columnist George Will asked rhetorically in a 1970s article. He was referring to the then current idiocy taking place in the US Congress.
I recalled it as I have watched the idiocy displayed by the Grand Island School Board over the request by a parent to allow his child, who is home schooled, to partake in school system (non-interscholastic) extra-curricular activities.
My issue is the appalling way this request was handled. It shouldn’t matter which side one was on to be disgusted, yes disgusted, by the disgraceful behavior exhibited by the Board.
Last September, the parent spoke directly with Mr. Christmann about his child getting involved in these activities. Mr. Christmann said he would bring the request to the attention of the Board, but stated he was personally against it. (Boy, there’s a surprise.) The parent went to School Board meetings each month with no action, one way or the other, taken. It is clear that the Board’s strategy was to wait him out. He was expected to give up in despair as he saw the futility in dealing with the almighty School Board.
Well, he didn’t. In January, he spoke again. I was at that meeting and voiced my support. Further, and, in the long run, more importantly, I spoke out about the cowardice that the Board exhibited. The parent deserved a straight answer; not a variation on a Chinese water torture. As I said to the Board, “put yourself in his shoes, would you like to be treated like this? Remember the Golden Rule.” It clearly made no impression.
The Board finally scheduled a public hearing: the good old Pontius Pilate approach. Only one person spoke against allowing it. Even a teacher spoke in favor of it! Island residents who didn’t have children in the School System any longer or who never had any in it found the request reasonable. At the following Board meeting, the March 31 joint meeting with the Town Board, the School Board voted 4-3 in favor of allowing home schooled children to participate.
Now that they had voted in favor of allowing it you would think that they would move forward on it, but you would be wrong. Once safely back in the confines of Ransom Rd. their true colors spewed forth. Here is the IsledeGrande summary of the Board’s implementation plan. It would be impossible to make this up.
“The public session held regarding the Home Schooling/ Extracurricular Participation did not elicit negative comments. The consensus of all the school board members was that the home schooled students not ever displace any of the district students. All state and school policies must be adhered to. A policy to be made by district administration will be drawn up at the convenience of the district, not to interfere with the budget process at hand. A vote of three against: Seaman, Blair and Casey, and for: Franz, Hanna, Little and Bobeck was taken to create said policy. The policy would be on a one-school-year trial basis.”
They appear to have been infected with John Kerry’s malady: “I was in favor of it, before I was against it.”
Seriously, disgusting is the most polite term that can be used to describe this sequence of events. Everyone makes mistakes: in the heat of battle or argument people say or do things that they regret. While we all try to do well, we are human, and so we err. However, this was deliberate policy executed over a period of six plus months. There were numerous opportunities to do the right thing: give the parent a straight answer. Instead, the Board and the superintendent continued to act in as mean-spirited and as despicable a manner as I’ve seen from officials who purportedly are charged with instilling high standards and ideals in our children. They should be ashamed. At the very least, they owe the parent a public apology.
For those of you old enough to remember the Kingston Trio’s song, Charlie on the MTA: ‘Citizens, this could happen to you!’
I understand Mr. Christmann has spoken with the parent since the edict from on high. He doesn’t want it to become a ‘media event’. Don’t you just love it? First, they treat this parent shabbily, and then they hope no one notices. Well, guess what? The behavior of the Board and Mr. Christmann has made it into a media event.
As George Will asked, “How Do You Humiliate a Hamster?”
Posted Thursday, April 17, 2008
Snowmobile Club Thanked - April 2008
Thank you for volunteering to be our "Snow Taxi" in the event of a gigantic snow event this past winter.
The citizens who comprise the GI Citizens Council were very appreciative. We were also appreciative that your services were not necessary this past winter season!
Please convey to your organization our thanks . . . hopefully you will understand the comfort zone we were in knowing you were available to back us up if needed during the winter of '07-08 in order to deliver the sick and aged to the shelter.
I will contact you again this coming winter season for a repeat. Thank you.
On behalf of the Citizens Corps Council and Citizens of Grand Island
Posted Thursday, April 14, 2008
Thank You From Afghanistan - April 2008
The US Army Major is training Afghans as an Anesthesia Mentor to the Afghan National Army.
Click photo for full view
This letter was sent to Liane Dahlberg, a member of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Charles N. DeGlopper Memorial VFW Post 9249. Lee has sent CARE packages each week for over 200 weeks in a row, to the deployed military personnel serving in the Middle East. While the letter was sent to Lee, it is a thank you to each and every person and/or groups, who has donated to keep these CARE Packages going.
Ms Liane Dahlberg -
I received your care package yesterday and it was a very welcome surprise indeed! Care packages are one of the biggest morale boosters for any troop. I am privileged to receive a care package from your organization, the efforts of you and your organization is truly commendable.
I am on a 15 member Medical Embedded Training Team, working directly with the Afghanistan National Army. I am a nurse anesthetist (same job as an anesthesiologist) and I am training 3 Afghan anesthetists. A new hospital was built for them and opened a few months ago. The mission of my team is to help them not only care for wounded and sick soldiers and their families but to support and maintain the facility itself. It is a big mission and most of the equipment, techniques and routine management of patients is a foreign concept to them. The educational system in this country is essentially nonexistent. I have seen and done some things I never thought I would. The ultimate goal is to make them self-sufficient and get ready for our eventual withdrawal from this country. This experience will mostly be a rewarding one for me but I am eager to get home to my husband and 4-year-old twins later this summer.
Thank you for bringing a bright spot to my day and please pass on my heartfelt appreciation and thanks to the ladies in your auxiliary and to the organizations and individuals that donate to your cause. I am truly honored to receive a package from you and I will share the goodies with my teammates as well as the patients who are in the hospital.
Major MJB (Name withheld)
Anesthesia Mentor to the Afghan National Army
Posted Thursday, April 14, 2008
Paint The Town Purple - April 2008
The American Cancer Society Relay For Life has designated May 1st as Paint the Town Purple in towns all
across America. This is designed to make everyone aware of purple being the color of Relay For Life. By decorating your
mailbox, your front yard tree, etc., it will show all of our neighbors the commitment we share in providing HOPE for a cure
to be found for cancer in our lifetime.
If anyone is interested, Purple ribbon has been purchased and is being donated. It may be picked up at
deSignet Jewelry, 1869 Whitehaven Rd. From this point on and for a donation ($5.00), bows will be available for purchase
at deSignet Jewelry and starting May 1st at the Village Inn Restaurant. Small bows will be sold in the morning on Saturday, April 26, 2008 at the major intersections in town.
The Relay For Life committee is looking for team captains or any willing people to decorate the town
commons. We will meet in the parking lot of Town Hall at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 26th. Hopefully we can make the impact
known that we are "The Island of HOPE" with our Relay to be held Friday, June 6, 2008 at the Grand Island High School.
For more information about the event you can call Jane Dent, the staff partner at the American Cancer
Society, at 1-800-ACS-2345.
Mary Dunbar-Daluisio and Peter McMahon
Co-Chairs for Relay For Life Grand Island
Posted Thursday, April 10, 2008
Do You Vote? Do Your Kids? - April 2008
As the Presidential vote draws closer and closer, can we count on the younger generation, including myself, to get out and vote? What about the people who are getting the message to not vote?
Ask around about what people think about our current president and you may hear many people say how terrible he is for this reason or that. But what people do not realize is that his power came from the people who voted him into office, twice. People have said, “I didn’t vote for him, I didn’t put him into office.” Well, then you should factor in the people who didn’t vote at all, and we could be in an entirely different world today.
Although children are told about the importance of going out to vote, what kind of mixed signals are we receiving? Our teachers stress the importance of voting because it is up to us to choose who is going to lead our nation and that not enough people get out to do it. But sites like www.dontvote.org are telling people not to vote because people are incompetent.
“DontVote.org's mission is to combat the "Get out the Vote" movement that is pushed by organizations that would like to increase the number of uneducated voters to help their cause,” says the site. “Just like a final exam, responsible voting requires self-education and thought. When the time comes to cast your ballot, if you don't know for what or whom you're voting, then DON'T VOTE.”
Along with many people’s personal messages to not vote, there are many websites contradicting what teachers and parents have been telling us to do. With the amount of time spent on the computer and internet these days, ask yourselves these questions. What messages are your son(s) or daughter(s) receiving, and what are you doing about it?
Think about it.
Posted Thursday, April 3, 2008
DAV Offers Student Scholarships - March 2008
The Disabled American Veterans, Grand Island Chapter #168 is pleased to make the following announcement:
Attention: Grand Island High School Seniors
The Officers and Members of the Disabled American Veterans, Grand Island NY. Chapter #168 are offering a Scholarship in the amount of $500.00 in honor of Past Commander Paul Kane. This is offered in addition to our regular Annual Scholarship of $500.00 honoring Past Treasurer Kenneth F. Wagner.
The time to apply for these Scholarships is nearing.The deadline of April 8, 2008, and we would hope that the seniors of the Grand Island High will submit their letters soon. Information is posted in the Awards and Scholarship Brochure available at the office of Miss Carolyn M. Fabiano, Scholarship Chairperson.
The Scholarship Committee will judge the applicants under the terms provided in the Brochure. We are anxious to give a helping hand to the seniors of the Grand Island High School.
Thank you !!!
Joseph Synakowski, Commander
Highway Dept. Appreciates Residents' Help During Snowy Weekend - March 2008
Click photo for larger view
The Grand Island Highway Department would like to thank the residents for their help in keeping the roads clear during the recent snow event.
According to Deputy Superintendent of Highways Jim Tomkins, the Island received somewhere between 20 to 24 inches of snow during the weekend storm (March 7-8, 2008). The amounts vary depending on where you live on the Island. These snowfall totals for Friday and Saturday were record amounts for those days in the month of March.
Residents can continue to assist the Highway Department during snowstorms by following these suggestions.
1. Observe all parking bans.
2. Reduce your speed and drive cautiously.
3. Remain off the roads during snowstorms unless absolutely necessary.
4. Do not allow children to make snow forts at the edge of the road.
5. Do not plow, blow or throw snow back into the roadway. This violates Article 33, Chapter 1220(c) of the NYS Vehicle & Traffic Law.
Finally, please have patience. Snow plowing is a time-consuming and laborious job covering approximately 112 miles of roadway. But, with the amount of equipment we use on multiple routes, it should not be long before your road is plowed.
The Grand Island Highway Department is proud of its employees and their perseverance and devotion to providing the residents with dependable and efficient snow removal in the shortest time possible. Your patience and cooperation will benefit all of us during every snowstorm.
Posted Wednesday, March 12, 2008
School Concert Issues - March 2008
For the past year or so I've noticed a few issues that have become more and more disturbing when it comes to an evening at our children’s’ concerts.
Since when is it okay to park your vehicles in the no parking zones at the schools? We have 4 large, well-lit parking lots for performances at the High School. There is no reason to park your vehicles in the fire lanes, the side of curbs, on the curbs, on the snow banks or in the handicap area if you do not apply. If you do, you should be ticketed.
Since when do we need high-pressure solicitation for basket raffles? The first thing one sees when walking into the school is a row of people with clip boards selling tickets. Many grandparents, aunts and uncles come to enjoy our concerts. They do not need to be pressured or guilted into supporting whatever organization we are collecting for. A simple poster announcing a basket raffle or other fundraiser is more than suffice to lure an interested customer. Grand Island is a very generous and giving community. Let us give in our own way if you don't see us at the basket raffles.
Lastly and most importantly, since when is it okay to leave a concert before it is over? I was amazed to see (perhaps because I was sitting in the back and never noticed before) the parents and families leaving the concert after their child performed. Better yet, allowing the doors to slam as they left. If you apply to this, I wish you could have seen the older children on stage looking up to see you walk out on them. Someday, that will be your child they are walking out on.
I'm sorry if I offended anyone, but some things need to be said.
Posted Thursday, March 6, 2008
PJ Thanks Resident who Found His Tackle Box - March 2008
Though he did not give his name, I would like to sincerely thank the person who stopped when he saw my tackle box full of fishing gear fall from my car onto Baseline Road last week and for immediately returning it to me via Isledegrande.com.
Posted Thursday, March 6, 2008
Ashley Gorman - People to People Student Ambassador - Feb. 2008
Dear Residents of Grand Island,
My name is Ashley Gorman, and I am an 8th-grade student at Veronica E Connor Middle School. I was recently interviewed and accepted to participate as a member of the People to People Student Ambassador Program visiting Europe this summer. The objective of the program is to promote international understanding while building leadership skills among America’s youth. The 21-day experience includes meetings with government officials, interaction with international students my age, educational activities, and home stays with host families.
In case you haven’t heard of People to People, please allow me to share some history with you. President Dwight D. Eisenhower founded the organization in 1956. He believed that if people from different cultures could come together in peace and friendship, so eventually would countries. Since its founding, People to People has launched many international programs, including Sister Cities and Project HOPE.
People to People Student Ambassadors are carefully interviewed and evaluated before their acceptance and I am honored to have been selected. Personally, I am looking forward to seeing sites that I have only seen on the Discovery Channel. I look forward to learning about the European Culture and as an Ambassador, I will be earning college credit and plan to share my journal, photographs, and experiences with Grand Island residents upon my return.
On Sunday, March 9, 2008, from 4 to 7 p.m., I will be having a Spaghetti Dinner at the Knights of Columbus to raise funds to pay for my tuition. I hope you will help me succeed! Pre-sale tickets are available by calling (716) 773-3683. The pre-sale ticket prices are $5.00 for adults (13+ yrs.); $4.00 for Seniors and $3.50 for Children 12 & under. We will be selling tickets at the door for $6.00 for adults (13+ yrs.); $5.00 for seniors and $4.50 for children 12 & under.
Ashley R. Gorman
P.S. If you are unable to make the dinner, you can make a donation on-line at http://ashleygfundraiser.chipin.com/european-trip-tuition.
Bridge Tolls Or High Tax? - Feb. 2008
To the Editor,
On a recent visit to the Grand Island area, I was amazed at the seemingly exorbitant bridge toll. This is nothing short of a tax, as it exceeds any reasonable cost for a quick trip over a busy bridge.
Collecting a tax at the rate of one dollar at a time sounds like union feather bedding at its finest, a method sure to provide employment far beyond what ought to be necessary to raise a similar amount of money.
The consternation over this long established practice is understandable, and change is overdue.
Las Vegas NV
Team Polka Dot Chix, My Final Chapter - Jan. 2008
Team Polka Dot Chix, my final chapter has begun. New faces this year along with a new team name are just a few of the changes. Our new team name is going to be “The Record Breakers featuring The Polka Dot Chix.” Why the change? We have merged our team with Dan McBride’s team. Dan is a fellow cancer survivor that while at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, had the highest number of white blood cells ever recorded there. He is a record breaker not only with his cell count but also for surviving a very aggressive form of cancer. After a successful bone marrow transplant, he now has a new outlook on life and is doing what he can to find that cure. We have a lot of great ideas for fundraising this year and we hope we can count on your support.
As stated above, I have said that his is going to be my final chapter. I suppose you are all wondering what that means? In August, I will be leaving for college to pursue my medical career. I will be handing over my position to my younger sister Emily. I know that she will keep my passion of finding the cure alive. Please know that come June, 2009, I will be right there with my sister and our team supporting and holding my head up high to be in such extraordinary company as that of my fellow relayers. Just a reminder of why we picked the name “The Polka Dot Chix. To refresh your memory, we are trying to connect the dots and when all of the dots have been joined, the cure for cancer will have been achieved. The only way all of the dots can be connected is through research and of course that takes funds. Last year our team was able to raise over $4,000.00 bringing our combined total of three years to over $12,000.00. We are hoping to have a “record breaking” year this year and are hoping to be able to add another $10,000.00 to our total.
We have so many great ideas planned for this year. Our fundraising efforts are in full swing and we have already been able to raise over $1,300.00. Our Boot Camp at Bally’s Fitness Club headed up by fitness expert Patricia Giambattista will be held on March 9th. We will be having a Roast Beef Luncheon on April 26th at The Knights of Columbus Hall on Grand Island. As always, we will be setting up all over Grand Island and surrounding areas selling candy, bracelets and so much more. Due to the overwhelming support, of the Sunset Tent, we will again be setting this up at the Relay in June. This tent will honor the lives of people we have lost. Their picture will be displayed with their name, form or cancer, their Sunrise (date of birth) and their Sunset (date they passed). The cost for each picture is $5.00 and will be made from an existing picture that you supply to us.
Our commitment to finding a cure never dwindles and my promise to you is that it never will. I myself having been personally affected by this disease give you my word. A form of cancer that normally eats their prey invaded my body. It tried to take my breath, to take my soul and to stop my heart from beating. As hard as it tried, it lost. A being so strong that only 58% of children escapes its grips. I was one of those 58%. I’m the dark horse that won the battle and as I grow older, I will continue to learn, survive and treat other endangered species so they to can win the battle.
If you would like, direct donations can be sent to me with all checks made out to the American Cancer Society. All donations are tax deductible. So as I close this letter, I leave you with this:
Thank you so much for your time and may Our Lord help and guide us to finding a CURE.
Alicia J. Sommer (Co-Captain with Mr. Dan McBride)
12th Grade Student At Grand Island High School
Please send donations payable to “The American Cancer Society” to:
98 Pellamwood Court
Grand Island, NY 14072
Posted Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Is This What The Future Holds For Grand Island Tolls? - Jan. 2008
Is this what the future holds for Grand Island Tolls ?
Is this what the future holds for us, toll booths actually on the island at the foot of the south bridge?
Over the past few years a lot of talk has surrounded easing the traffic backup at the south bridges.
My solution has been eliminating the toll booths to allow the free flow of traffic up and over the bridges.
But behind the scenes the Thruway Authority and the Bridge Committee has been discussing moving the tolls.
In my discussion with Jeff Williams from the board of the NYSTA, he disclosed to me their plan and this is what it is.
Moving the toll booths to the other side of the bridge like the north bridge toll booths. I grabbed a couple photos from Google Earth and created a view as to how I picture this to be. See the images above (link).
The first issue I see here is the overwhelming costs. The Thruway is estimating that moving the Williamsville tolls to be $90 million. So would this be the same or more?
Why go to the expense of doing this when we could build a new bridge using Federal funds when the NYSDOT takes over the Niagara section of the 190. This plan makes no sense whatsoever.
Instead of traffic backing up onto the 290, we will have traffic backing up onto and sitting on the bridge.
Let's stop this nonsense and just turn the bridges and the 190 over the the D.O.T. Build a new bridge between the two south bridges then tear down the existing and expand them to four lanes on each side. This will eliminate all the traffic problems now and for years to come.
Posted Monday, January 24, 2008
Thompson Incensed Over Toll Hike - Jan. 2008
When we were told that tolls were being raised this year, we all were under the impression that it was for 10% at least that is what the Thruway Authority told us. Well lo and behold the Grand Island bridge tolls went from 75 cents to a dollar. That is a far cry from 10%, that is a 33.3% increase in tolls. Two years ago the tolls at the bridges were raised from .50 cents to .75 cents. That is a 100% toll increase in two years.
Next year our tolls are going up a supposed 5% and then again 5% the year after. If history is to repeat itself, we will be hit with another .25 cents next year and .25 cents the year after to $1.50 for one trip across the bridge. And according to a statement by Betsy Grahm, it has always been their policy to raise tolls at bridges a quarter? Well that's news to me and I am sure it will be news to every other toll payer across this area who is forced to pay to go over the Grand Island Bridges.
I am incensed.
Posted Monday, January 7, 2008
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