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Bridge Tolls - 2006

By Jon N. Cinelli
   I have been reading, with much interest, the residents views on whether or not to remove the tolls from the Grand Island Bridges. I feel compelled to reply to some points made by other contributors.
   Firstly, how is it that residents feel traffic will be increased across the Island? Do you think that truckers and other motorists are currently going around the Island, adding 20 minutes and several miles to their trip and spending more gas money just to save the 75 cents?
   Secondly, by removing the toll booths, the delay that Mrs. Sexton pointed out would be all but eliminated because you will not have the stop and go traffic pulling into the booths, while going from 2 lanes to 6 lanes and then trying to merge back in to 2 lanes. You will have a steady flow just like driving on the thruway overpasses.
   Finally, the argument about the toll rates for residents vs. non-residents is invalid! I grew up on Grand Island and moved to the Town of Tonawanda because it is required by my employer. My entire family still resides on the Island and I look forward to the day I am able to move back there. I come to the Island several times a week, so why should I be required to pay more than anyone else does to use the bridges?
   The bottom line is that all of us have paid for those bridges for far too long. The state says the tolls are being used for maintaining them! Isn’t the state already receiving dollars from the federal government for that purpose??
Jon N. Cinelli
Town of Tonawanda
Posted December 28, 2006

Bridge Tolls
Do Not Remove The Tolls - 2006

By Tammy Sexton
   Rus Thompson gave us a link to email the NY delegation regarding the Grand Island Tolls so I am going to do so. As a lifetime Grand Island Resident I do not want the tolls removed from the bridges. There is enough traffic now of travelers using the South Grand Island Bridge to get to Niagara Falls, without the Tolls there would be even more. Mr. Thompson is proud of how many signatures he has received to remove the tolls, if you read the addresses of these signatures only about 50% of them are Grand Island residents, the rest are off Island people who don’t like to pay to use Grand Island to get to Niagara Falls.
   I agree that something needs to be done, how about raising the tolls for non-residents and reducing the tolls for Grand Island residents to zero. It is very aggravating when trying to get home at 5:30 and have to sit in a line of cars from Canada or out of State that you know are only traveling over to Niagara Falls to the Casino. Do you think removing the tolls will fix that? You will still have multiple lanes of traffic from the 290 and the 190 trying to merge to two lanes of traffic to get over the bridge.
Posted December 21, 2006

Bridge Tolls
Trip To Albany Is Over, Signatures Delivered - 2006

By Rus Thompson
   We have the support of the Senate and the Assembly Republicans. I met with Senator Volker and Assembly minority leader Tedesco. I talked to Sam Hoyt about these tolls and at that time he was in agreement. Sam told me he would bring it up in the Democrat caucus, he was in the meeting at that time. After the meeting, I found Sam in the hallway talking to the media. As we walked out of the Capitol building, I asked him if he did as he said he would and that was to bring it (removal of Grand Island bridge tolls) up in the caucus meeting. Sam said NO. All he would say was "this governor is not going to do anything about these tolls." This was the perfect time for the Assembly to make a move. I had already received the support of the Republicans and this could have been a very bi-partisan move to do something to show the people of Western New York that they do care about us up here and want to help us with our economy. A few questions come to mind: did Sam not bring this issue up or did he and he was quickly silenced by Sheldon Silver? If he failed to bring it up, then he failed to represent us and follow through with bringing this issue to the forefront as he told me he would. If he did and Sheldon Silver silenced him then Silver controls our destiny, not our representatives. We need to turn up the heat, get more signatures both online and on paper. It is time to put together a protest on the South Bridge, will you join us? Please sign up and make a suggestion as to when we should do this.    Thank you for your continued support.
Rus Thompson
Posted December 21, 2006

Thank You Grand Island Soccer Club - 2006

   I want to thank all the wonderful soccer people who so graciously honored me this week as I step down as secretary after 10 years on the Grand Island Soccer Club Board of Directors. I want to thank all of the great coaches (including my husband) who donate their time to bring their love of soccer to the children. I want to thank all of the Board members for volunteering endless hours to make sure the GI Soccer Club continues to be the best around. And, finally I’d like to thank the Board members who have been there with me throughout the years, and longer. I hope those who follow are lucky enough to be as proud of the history they leave behind as I am. Thank you for all of the memories. You will forever be in my heart.
Anne Blonski
Posted December 14, 2006

Some Observations on Mr. Hanaka's Letter - 2006

   In last week’s Island Dispatch and on the Isledegrande.com website Robert Hanaka wrote about the December 12th so-called Capital Budget vote. I say so-called because many of the items are really maintenance items that the District has ignored. He finds it disappointing that there are letters that call into question the integrity of District personnel and Board members. I think he should be more disappointed at their stewardship and their treatment of those who call into question some of their decisions or even ask questions of information.
   He, like the District, keeps repeating the “at no cost to the taxpayer” canard. Who does he or the District think is paying for this? He states that New York State (aka us!) will cover about 75% of the cost. Then, voila, Albany (aka us) found $2.6 billion of our tax dollars to give back to us via the EXCEL program. This isn’t chump change. The State is finding every way possible to spend our tax dollars so they won’t have to reduce taxes. If there wasn’t an EXCEL program and the State reduced our state taxes, and the School District raised them by an amount equal to these tax savings to pay for repairs, would he consider that to be “at no cost to the taxpayer.” Of course it is a cost to the taxpayer. The only good news from the District’s viewpoint is that they don’t have to raise it. Also, I’m still amazed that people continue to refer to this as a $3.9 million project, and not a $4 million one. $3,976,781 clearly rounds to $4 million, not $3.9 million. I’m sure any student who said it did on an exam would lose credit for that question. Why does the District persist in this inaccuracy?
   The question is not whether to vote yes or no (I’m on record saying that it should be voted for) but why these items are included. The Middle School roof was in need of repair in 1999. It was included in the $18.4 million ($21 million actually spent) capital project we approved then. Why wasn’t it done as part of it? Further, anyone who went to the District’s information sessions saw the slide show of the deplorable condition of the roof. This didn’t just happen in the past three months. The Board knew this had to be done before the budget vote in May. The science labs were another capital project item included in the approved 1999 plan. Why are they being done now? Are we only doing it because we are getting “free money?” If the EXCEL funds weren’t available when was the Board planning on bringing this before the voters?
   Mr. Hanaka points out that project costs tend to go up. I agree completely. In fact, in January of 2002 when I first raised the issue of the 1999 capital project before the Board I made that very point. I asked which items would be done since three years had past. My question was ignored. This is the reason many are planning on voting no: they can’t get answers from the District about how their tax dollars are going to be spent nor will the District give an accounting after the fact of what was purchased and at what price.
   He is right that we have a wonderful group of children on the Island. They are bright, articulate, and talented. They are a joy and their parents are rightfully proud. However, that doesn’t imply that it is due to the performance of the District. Eric Hanushek, a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford, University, and formerly a professor at the University of Rochester is an expert on education. He has made the observation that “most children in suburban school districts could spend four years in a closet and do well on the standardized tests.” The parents on Grand Island tend to be high achievers, also. Let’s give them some credit for their children. A couple of years ago the Buffalo News ranked districts, after taking into account the districts’ spending. Grand Island was middle of the pack.
   Mr. Hanaka finds it “unfortunate that we find ourselves enveloped in cynicism so frequently.” The cynicism that exists emanates from the District that believes in the Muhammad Ali “rope-a-dope” approach: don’t respond and these individuals will eventually get tired and go away. Not always; some of us have the strength of our convictions. He should ask the District why the repainting of the pool and the recaulking of window sills, and repointing wasn’t part of last spring’s budget if he wants to get an earful of cynicism. Then, if he isn’t totally frustrated with the duck and weave response, he should ask what other projects they discovered in their now-mandated inspection of the physical plant (I check my house without the nanny state requiring me to, as I’m sure most of you do, too). They have to identify items that can be expected to require expenditures within the next five years (I think I’m paraphrasing that right). He should ask for a list and the expected cost to the taxpayer. Trust me; you will not get an answer in an open forum.
   There is nothing cynical or negative about asking the District about their spending decisions when they are spending our money. In fact, I would suggest that more people do it. In fact, they should demand answers. Most Islanders want the School District to be top tier; that is, our goals are all the same. Asking questions is a means of ensuring that the Board is headed in that direction, too. When one is stonewalled, though, one tends to become suspicious.
Posted by:
Jim Mulcahy
Posted December 14, 2006

Grand Island Schools Building Renovation Vote: A Yes Vote = No Tax - 2006

   A famous one-time pessimist said a long time ago that all truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. The Building Renovation Project up for vote on December 12th on Grand Island has a few folks (aka card-carrying naysayers) parading typical negativity. I am reminded of an old saying - A person who trusts no one can't be trusted. Remember one thing about this unique proposition – there is no new tax associated with it. Period.
   We can all remember the last Budget Vote – the huge turnout, the close vote, a narrow win for the new budget. Regardless of one’s perspective as to the budget’s specifics, back then at least one’s no vote was based on simply not wanting to pay more in tax. However, in the Renovation Project vote upcoming on the 12th, we have a horse of a different color. In this case, the District is seeking funding of roughly $ 3.9 Million. Of that, New York State covers about 3/4 of the cost, with a little over $ 1 Million left.
   Good news though!
   Back in June of this year, NYS approved EXCEL funding for the State’s School Districts. Via the EXCEL program (Expanding our Children’s Education & Learning) Grand Island is receiving $ 1,037,008.00 – enough to bridge the gap that State Aid cannot cover. If you are interested in reading about this program go to www.emsc.nysed.gov/facplan/ where you can find more information on EXCEL.
   The EXCEL program is being used throughout the State to the tune of funding up to $ 2.6 Billion in projects designed to repair facilities, improve education technology, eliminate certain health/safety concerns, increase physical capacities, and make energy improvements. We are fortunate to be able to take advantage of this program in 2006.
   So, a failure to approve this project could mean some less than thrilling outcomes:
   Project costs tend to go up. If we delay, necessary work will simply cost more. We will need to accommodate these updates very soon. And folks, here’s what’s at stake: The District’s buildings have water damage resulting from leaking roofs and window sills - perhaps the beginning of more serious problems such as threats to the structural integrity of our buildings. Furthermore, there are safety concerns that water damage presents including the potential for accidental falls, and perhaps worse - the development of mold. In the past week, heavy rain caused water seepage once again. The health and safety concerns of our students must be paramount in our thinking.
   EXCEL funding may not be available if we wait too long. By all accounts, it is designed to be used for the 2006 and 2007 School years. A million bucks is a lot of money – and I believe most folks would rather have a NYS program that has already been approved pay for it. In a twist of irony, a yes vote means that we won’t pay any new taxes while a no vote could well mean paying for necessary upgrades out of pocket due to lost funding sources and increased project costs. Can we afford to wait?
   The Island is made up of a vast majority of well-meaning folks. I read letters that call into question the integrity of our District personnel, our Board members, and it is disappointing. As a Grand Island resident for more than a decade, there is much to appreciate in a District that is showing tremendous progress in so many areas. I know that I am not alone in applauding our district, one that routinely scores higher than most in mandated testing, one that is well above mean scores in SATs, one whose athletic teams produce championships, and one whose music and arts are the envy of many other districts. So, it is unfortunate that we find ourselves enveloped in cynicism so frequently. HL Mencken was known to comment that a cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin. When a Building Renovation Project is put in front of the voters and carries “zero” in the form of tax increase, well, it does make one wonder about those who promote a “just say no” campaign. This truth really is self-evident: A Yes vote will enable much needed improvements and keeps our wallets in our pockets. That cannot be said any more plainly. Let’s give our Grand Island Schools the opportunity to make necessary improvements on December 12th.
Posted by:
Robert Hanaka
Posted December 7, 2006

My Brother, Bruce - 2006

By Holly Whitford Best

   I have three brothers, Bill, Bruce, and Cam Whitford. Yikes -- I had to grow up with three boys! I miss Bruce so much.
   Devil’s Hole, a place he often took his daughter, Alex, and his son, Ben, was a special place for Bruce; very often he would go alone to fish, or just view the fish running. This past October 19, he set out for an afternoon there. He had emailed friends earlier in the week about the size and sheer number of the fish running, and how you could probably reach out and catch them.
   Bruce never returned from this trip. Exhaustive search efforts have found nothing. I’m writing this on Thanksgiving night. It’s been just over one month. I miss you so much, Bruce. It’s so hard to believe. I’m so glad that I told you how much I appreciated the wonderful time you spent with my son, Michael, this past summer when we visited. You took the kids out on the river every day, and never tired of it. They had one of the most wonderful summers of their lives, not to mention summers in years past. Here is Bruce this summer with his son, Ben, in front, and my son, Michael, in back.
   This summer, Bruce went on the jet boat ride at the gorge one afternoon, and came back raving about the rapids, and how wet you’ll get!!!! He loved it! He talked me into it. He treated us to the jet boat that weekend. I watched him as we got drenched in those rapids, that 350 horse-power or however many horses it was – jet engine, thrashing us all around that gorge, and geeeeeeeeeeez, drenched is putting it mildly!!! Soaked to the skin! Bruce loved it, and it made me happy to see him having such a great time.
   And that is not too far from where Bruce is last known to have been. Bruce was an adorable little boy, and his sense of humor had us all on the floor many times. He was handsome, a wonderful guy, a wonderful, kind man, a wonderful father, a wonderful brother, a wonderful friend.
   What am I thankful for this Thanksgiving? I’m thankful that Bruce was my brother. I’m thankful for his love, for being able to grow up with him, and know him, and be so much a part of his life. But sadly I’m not thankful that we are without him now. I love you Bruce. I miss you terribly. I want so much to hope that you are still somewhere in this world.
Your only sister,
(Holly (Whitford) Best)
Posted December 7, 2006

More Than A Game - 2006

By Coach Todd Lee

   It is not often enough that we hear the good stories about our youth. Well, let me brag about a bunch of teenagers eager to do the right thing. This community recently went through a significant storm. Unfortunately, not all of us could help ourselves dig out of the big mess Mother Nature left for us. So with the insight of good Samaritans, the U14 Northtowns Warriors Soccer team from Grand Island, responded to the call from our Town Supervisor, to help area residents in need. These eager bunch of athletes couldn't offer their assistance fast enough! I am so proud of these boys as they always answer the call of duty when called upon to help out the community. Thank you Mr. McMahon for your call to the public for assistance and thank you to Mrs. Gilmore for letting us help ease your burden. Grand Island residents can be very optimistic about their future leaders! Keep up the good work Warriors and stay focused on what life is really about..it is more than a game!
Coach Todd Lee
Posted November 22, 2006

Website Remember Those Who Have Served Our Country - 2006

   I would like to express my gratitude to those who have served in the armed forces. And I would like to pay my respects to those who have lost their lives.
   I have been deeply touched by Legacy.Com's Moving Tributes. You'll find a number of slide shows honoring soldiers who died in Iraq and Afghanistan. Each time I watch one of the slide shows, the tears well up in my eyes. The slide shows were made by family and friends. You'll get glimpses of their personal lives. You're seeing them the way they will always be remembered in the hearts of loved ones.
   It is gut-wrenching to see these young soldiers. Many were just married, or engaged. Others had small children. It really puts the news we hear every day into perspective.
   Before you visit this site, I must warn you: These pictures will haunt you. One is of a soldier hugging his son right before deployment. I cannot get that image out of my mind.
   If someone you loved died for our country, I urge you to create your own tribute. The service is free, and the tribute will remain permanently on display. And don't forget to show your appreciation to the living veterans who also served our country.
www.legacy.com, then click "View List of All Tributes."
   They are always in our prayers!
Floydette Gannon - Pinellas Park, Florida
Floydette Gannon is a former Grand Island, NY resident.

A Thank You From Sheri Robinson-Cooney - 2006

Dear Family Friends,
   I’m so glad I was able to share my special day with all of you!
   What a wonderful feeling to be surrounded by so many familiar faces, kind wishes, and warm embraces. And for those of you that were unable to attend; your caring thoughts were conveyed to me everyday through my family and friends.
   Although I will never be able to thank each of you individually, this is my way of sending a tribute to you, just as you did for me.
   This fundraiser proved to me that when people come together amazing things can happen. And I can only hope that someday we find a cure for this disease we call “cancer” that in some way touches each and every one of us.
   Witnessing the outpouring of generosity from friends, family and our communities was nothing short than overwhelming to me.
   I carry all of your special thoughts and prayers with me everyday in my fight. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart!!
Love, Sheri

Fighting Bridge Tolls - Be Careful What You Wish For! - 2006

To the editor:
   Rus Thompson is pushing to have the tolls removed from the Grand Island bridges. I believe that this is the wrong thing to do.
   Mr. Thompson says we have three alternatives:
1- Build another bridge to Grand Island New York.
2- Expand or widen the bridges.
3- Remove the tolls to allow the free flow of traffic.
   There is a fourth: raise the tolls for non-Islanders!
   Mr. Thompson, as well as many others, seems to forget that people will modify their behavior to the reduced tolls. Simply put, there will be substantially more traffic over the bridges, including more truck traffic, with the preponderance being non-Islanders "cutting through."
   Just look what happened on the 190 when the tolls were removed. The commute is a good ten minutes longer, with much more stop-and-go traffic, as more people have started driving to work. So, we have saved $.75 in tolls at the expense of ten minutes, thus valuing our time at $4.50/hour. Our gas consumption has increased due to the stop and go nature of the traffic. Since there hasn’t been an influx of people to WNY on account of the elimination of the tolls, the additional drivers must be former bus riders. We can look to having to pay more property taxes to underwrite the increased NFTA losses. If enough people drive, we can expect to see higher parking fees downtown. The roadbed will also deteriorate faster. Yeah, removing those tolls was a great idea!
   On Grand Island the situation is even more complicated: the tolls are the best police protection we will ever be able to afford. If an Islander crosses the bridge once a day every day of the year it costs under $35, or less than $3/month. It is not that expensive.
   We should demand that the tolls be increased for non-Islanders with the requirement that the funds so collected be used to complete the LaSalle Expressway around to connect with the Colvin extension or the 990. Not only would this eliminate unnecessary traffic from the Island, but would assist the Tonawandas in regaining the competitive positions they lost when the expressways ignored them.
   Don’t believe that saving $3/month in tolls is a good thing. It isn’t. It will be a disaster for our lifestyle.
Jim Mulcahy
Posted November 13, 2006

Explanation Requested On School District Capital Budget Proposition - 2006

To the editor:
   The Grand Island School Board has issued the required legal notice regarding their planned vote on a capital budget proposition. The vote is scheduled to take place on December 12th of this year. We are asked to approve a proposition that will allow them to obligate the taxpayers of Grand Island for a sum not to exceed $3,976,781.
   Please note the last part of the proposition:

…all at a total estimated cost of $3,976,781, such cost being raised by tax upon the taxable property of said School District to be levied and collected in annual installments as provided in Section 416 of the Education Law, with such tax to be partially offset by State aid available therefore, and in anticipation of such tax, by obligations of said School District as may be necessary.

   It certainly sounds as if we are on the hook for these monies. The Assistant Superintendent for Finance has stated on more than one occasion that it “won’t cost us anything. The state will pay for it.” Of course, she can’t guarantee that which is why the proposition is worded as it is. Secondly, which statehouse should we be sending our thank you letters to for paying for this: Georgia, Connecticut, Arizona? If it isn’t going to cost us anything then it must be one of the other forty-nine states picking up the tab. If it is New York, then it is going to cost us. We are just digging into a different pocket.
   The critical point is that we need to DEMAND that the board tell us explicitly what they propose to spend the money on. Notice that they didn’t come up with a sum that was rounded to the hundreds or thousands of dollars. Clearly, this sum was developed from evaluating specific projects.
   Why do I say we need to demand a detailed accounting? In 1999, we gave approval for them to spend up to $18.4 million. In actual fact they spent over $21 million. They spent the money on items that weren’t in the proposal, like a third gym, and excised items that were in it, like the science labs. They proceeded to deny there were specific plans.
   Before we vote, we should be provided a listing of each and every project and its specific cost. This total should come to the $3,976,781. After the projects are completed we should be provided the actual sums spent on each project and what we received. Only if we receive this will we be able to compare it to what we were told prior to the vote. Without this, we cannot keep the Board honest. We require businesses to comply with all sorts of audit procedures, the School Board shouldn’t be exempt.
Jim Mulcahy
Posted November 13, 2006

Importance Of Joining Veterans' Organizations - 2006

   Today is Veterans Day as I think everyday should be. Our troops are fighting to keep us free as they have done for years, don't forget them. We are losing about 1000 veterans a day and our Veteran groups need your help. If you are a qualified veteran please join the VFW, DAV or American Legion to show your support. Loosing the kind of people that we are, we lose clout with Congress that is always trying to take veterans' benefits away. Even if you can't get involved, we need the numbers to keep the clout with Congress. The dues are a small price to pay compared to the time you gave your country while serving. Please don't forget our veterans. For more info contact:
Dan McMahon - VFW - 773-9376
Joe Synakowski - DAV - 773-4180
Shorty Vanthoff - AMERICAN LEGION - 773-7915
Posted November 13, 2006

U.S. Marine Corp Celebrates Birthday - 2006

Dear Editor,
   Friday, November 10th, 2006 marks a milestone in American Military History. It is the 231st birthday of the United States Marine Corps. On November 10, 1775 the Second Continental Congress authorized the formation of two Battalions of Marines for the defense of the United States. On November 10, 1798 President John Adams signed an Act establishing the United States Marines Corps. Since then the Marines have been in battles around the world, 1805 Tripoli, 1918 during WW I, the Battle of Belleau, during WW II, 1945 Iwo Jima, again in Korea 1950, the battles of the Chosin Reservoir and Inchon. The Marines also served during Viet Nam, the TET of 1968 and today in the Middle East. These are but a few of the many times the U. S. Marines have been called upon to defend the United States and our freedom. As the Commander of the Charles N. DeGlopper Memorial VFW Post 9249, I would first like to thank the Marines for their bravery and dedication exhibited during the past 231 years and extend a big Happy Birthday.
Daniel B. McMahon
Posted November 9, 2006

Message To Grand Islanders - 2006

By Rus Thompson
Editor's Note: Rus Thompson has sent the following to The Honorable Governor Pataki and to Governor Elect Eliot Spitzer
   In recent weeks it has become apparent that the people of Western New York are fed up with the taxing of its citizens through the toll booths. Call it what you will, commuter tax or a tax for the upkeep of the bridges, it is wrong and we want the tolls removed from the Grand Island Bridges.
   Commuter traffic has become so intense that traffic is backed up onto the Youngman Expressway (290) as they wait in line to get onto the 190 off ramp, to wait in line to pay the tolls. Vehicles traveling at the speed limit are now coming up on vehicles at a dead stop.
   Governor, we have three options at this point;
1- Build another bridge to Grand Island New York.
2- Expand or widen the bridges.
3- Remove the tolls to allow the free flow of traffic.
   The quickest, easiest and least expensive way to resolve this issue is to remove the tolls from the Grand Island Bridges as soon as possible.
   We have been working to eliminate the tolls from the bridges since the 1950's. We have gone through the chain of command, the local Town Board, the County government, the Assembly and the Senate. Legislation that has been introduced has failed us over and over again, as political promises that have been made have never come through.
   We the people of Grand Island and Western New York request that you, the Governor of the State of New York, remove the tolls from the Grand Island Bridges.
   Thank you for your Leadership in this matter.
   I can be reached at 563-9901.
   Thanks for your help.
Rus Thompson
Posted November 9, 2006

Message To Grand Islanders - 2006

By Frank Brusino
   If you can tear yourself away from political talk on TV, you will know that the October 2006 storm clean-up is still a work in progress!
   It's also not too late for all of you responsible people to "gear up" for another emergency and winter soon to be here. It's a perfect time for you to purchase flashlights with batteries and bottled water and other necessities for three to seven days.
   A few local TV spots have urged viewers to "get ready" for the next emergency and for that the Grand Island Citizens Corp is thankful.
   Please take the warnings seriously because the next one may leave you wanting.
   Any group, church, civic or other wise, take a minute and discuss this with your members or if you want outside help, contact the Citizens Corp Council and we will send a "team" to discuss it with your group.
   Regardless of how you continue to notify your members to Be Ready, Now is the Time!
Frank Brusino, Chairman
Citizens Corp Council
Posted November 2, 2006

Accident Waiting To Happen at Stony & Ransom - 2006

By Tracey D. Pici
   After driving my daughter to the high school the past few mornings, I have noticed a disturbing trend. Some people waiting on Ransom to turn onto Stony are driving down the shoulder of the road to make the right hand turn onto Stony Point. The people I have seen do it are driving fast and coming from well back, having to pass as many as 10-15 cars to make the turn. I know the frustration of having to sit there for what seems like forever before you actually make it to the intersection. But this is an accident waiting to happen. I was almost sideswiped by someone this morning who barreled around the corner only to drive a few houses up, pull into a driveway and then turn around to go south on Stony. Maybe the time has come to look into a traffic light at that corner. Even if it was a flashing light at times other than the morning school rush and the after concert/sporting event rush. Until that happens, people really need to just slow down and be patient. It takes some time, but eventually you can get out. In comparison to other areas where traffic congestion is much worse this is not a big deal. But when someone's impatience causes an accident, it becomes one.
Posted October 25, 2006

Rus Thompson Expresses Appreciation - 2006

By Rus Thompson
    Rus Thompson and Friends would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who attended the campaign fundraiser on Tuesday night. In addition, we are deeply grateful to members of the Grand Island Republican Committee, as well as committee members from North Buffalo and the West Side for gathering petition signatures for the purpose of gaining access to the ballot. We are also profoundly grateful to the Erie County Republican Party, and the Erie County Conservative Party for their endorsements. We feel these endorsements begin to embrace the need for change by supporting Rus' uncompromising commitment to True Reform, and the Party's commitment to properly representing the values of lower taxes, less government, individual liberty, personal and social responsibility, and morality derived from our nation's founding.
Posted October 12, 2006

Grand Island Gateway Center Project - 2006

By Gary Roesch
   I would like to personally thank the Empire State Development Corporation for the Municipal Grant Program, Restore NY Communities Initiative. This financial assistance to municipalities allows communities for the demolition, deconstruction, rehabilitation or reconstruction of vacant, abandoned, surplus or condemned commercial buildings within their control. $300 million was appropriated for the program, with the first $50 million authorized to be awarded in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2007. The Town of Grand Island completed and submitted the application on September 15, 2006. The Town Board conducted a Public Hearing at our last Town Board Meeting and received letters of support from the Town’s Economic Development Advisory Board, IsleChem, Mark Stramaglia (Invitrogen Corporation) and Member of the Assembly Sam Hoyt. Melissa Wannemacher also spoke in favor of the project.
   The Town Board then passed a resolution that unanimously supported the application. The Restore NY Communities Initiative grant will allow the former Dunlop Building to be prepared for a renter. $1.1 million will be used for asbestos abatement and another $1.1 million for sewer line and lift station construction on the 144 acres of Zoned M-1 property South of Long Road. Included with the 2.2 million is additional 10% for administration and 20% for contingencies. The property owners have agreed to match the 10% match required by the grant.
   Along with the Build NY Now grant for $97,500 that the Town received in July, which is also matched by Acquest Development for Environmental and Engineering studies, this gives this project a good start. Without the Erie County Industrial Development Agency, Acquest, JSJ Holdings, J.O’Connell & Associates, The Town of Grand Island Engineering Department, The Town Clerks’ Office and the understanding and complete support of the Supervisor and the Town Board we could not have applied for the grant within the 2 week time frame. This is a good example of the private sector and local and state governments working together.
   Even if we do not receive the grant we have established a frame work within the “working “ group to continue on with the project as well as put us in a excellent position for the next round of finding in 2007. Thank you once again.
Posted September 21, 2006

American Legion Thanks Community - 2006

   Grand Island American Legion Post #1346 would like to thank everyone who helped make our drive a success. These funds will go to help our veterans with needs and to the needy in our community.
Richard "Shorty" Vanthoff
Post Adjutant
Posted September 14, 2006

To The People and Businesses Of Grand Island - 2006

Dear Grand Island Community,
   On June 30 - July 1, 2006 the first graduating Class of Grand Island High, “Class of 1966” had its 40th High School reunion. I would like to personally thank everyone for making this event very special.
   On Friday, June 30th, we started out with a tour of the High School guided by Dr. James Dempsey. He informed us of many interesting facts about the school and the pranks that some our fellow school mates had done.
   Friday night we had an ice breaker at the bowling alleys. This is a family owned business in which they make everyone feel at home. The Mallwitz’s chicken wings are something that all Islanders should check out. Brett Minet and his band played during the evening and brought back many memories for the classmates.
   On Saturday, July 1st, the class met at the Holiday Inn for a cruise on the Grand Lady with Captain Rick Deegan. He made the ride very relaxing and enjoyable.
   From there the celebration continued at my home on Webb Road. Everyone had a wonderful time thanks to the help of my neighbors, relatives, friends and a great committee.
   Some of the classmates stayed at the Holiday Inn of Grand Island and they commented on the wonderful accommodations.
   We also received donations from classmates, friends and the following business:
Fort Dodge Animal Health (Dave Perri), Fuccillo Chevrolet, Island Dispatch, Tops Market, The Village Inn, Linda Kutzbach, Budwey Markets and Isledegrande.com.
   Also, I would like to thank Teddy, Jodi and Dan at the Isledegrande for all their help.
Terry Swain
Posted August 23, 2006

LaLiberty Family Expresses Thanks - 2006

Dear Grand Island Community,
   We sincerely thank you for your overwhelming support and generosity at our most sorrowful time. Debbie’s life was filled with so many wonderful people. She touched each and everyone she came in contact with, and her touch was reflected in the many people who attended her wake and funeral. Everyone has a wonderful story or moment with Debbie that they can keep in their hearts forever. Our wonderful moment came everyday, Debbie was a gift to us too.
    Your prayers, smiles, presence, stories and generous donations of every kind have touched us in a way that has made us feel loved and supported. Your kindness will remain in our hearts forever.
With Deepest Gratitude and
All our Love,
The Deborah Jacobs-LaLiberty Family
Posted August 15, 2006

Zonta Thanks Community For Support - 2006

   The members of Zonta Club of Grand Island would like to thank the community for attending our Beef on Weck Dinner at Town Common on Tuesday, August 1, 2006. We thank everyone for their support to our organization and hope everyone enjoyed the evening. It was our pleasure to serve you. A special thanks to Ramblin Lou Family Band for the beautiful music and for entertaining us all. To Linda Tufillaro, a very special thanks for her continued help to us all, along with her staff. Mr. Gale Littler and Dennis Albert and crew were a tremendous help all day long on a very hot day. . . thank you. To all our members, thank you for your help in every way, serving, setting up and cleaning up, those who donated and all of the members’ support. A very, very special thanks to Debbie Spencer for providing the most delicious beef and rolls. Thanks for a great dinner and a truly enjoyable, fun night out.
Maria Burns
Zonta Club of Grand Island
Posted August 10, 2006

New Leadership To Benefit School Board - 2006

   Now that the leadership on the school board has changed, one hopes the public can look forward to a return to policies that brought the board closer to the public and vice versa.
   Previously, the board traditionally would schedule a meeting at every school as well as at Eco Island each year. That served a dual purpose. It provided trustees the opportunity to inspect each building (one of their responsibilities), and it provided an opportunity for each school to highlight a special program or activity.
   Community members might not come to regular board meetings, but they certainly turned out for the board's visit to their child's school.
   Traditionally, also, the board would hear reports from various academic and department areas. Since trustees are responsible for curriculum, this was an opportunity to become better acquainted with what goes on in the classroom. Granted, this would sometimes make meetings longer than half an hour, but it allowed board members to live up to their responsibilities.
   With its new leadership, hopefully, the board will return to activities that help bring it and the community closer together and make for a successful school year.
Lee Cohen
Posted July 20, 2006
Editor's Note: Mrs. Cohen is a former Grand Island Board of Education member.

Thank You - 2006

   On July 15th 2006, a fundraiser was held for Barbara Cody at VFW Post 9249. It was an overwhelming success due to the generous volunteers and noble donors who devoted their time, energy and contributions to this wholesome occasion. It is time now to recognize the following people and organizations for going above the call to help and making a charity fundraiser an example of what compassion is all about.
   Our first thank you goes to Dan McMahon, our Post Commander, for his logistical support by seeing to it that the hall was available, equipped and ready. To the following organizations, a humble and heartfelt thank you for your donations: T.C.s, Moose Lodge, Rod and Gun Club, and all the VFW women's auxiliary members who saw fit to give. A very special thank you is directed to Bill Shickluna and Ray Briggs for their donation of the delicious spaghetti and meatball dinner. Steve DeMarco and crew for the variety of tasty chicken. The following women earned and deserve warm praise for their efforts that day: Terri Majewicz, Debbie Schoenle, Donna Briggs, Sue McMahon, Kathy Lommer, Donna Anderson, Connie Loncar, and Joanne Thompson. But our most heartfelt thank you goes to the wonderful, hardworking brotherhood of the Men's Auxiliary of VFW Post 9249. Steve DeMarco, Dale Kratz, Rick Brice, Bill Brice, Dave Brice, Mike Galbreath, Chris McMahon, and Mark Gollwitzer. Working side by side and together with all parties involved, these men helped immensely and inspired everyone involved. They were the driving force that insured the uplifting outcome we all were hoping for.

Carol Jones
Posted July 20, 2006

Motorists' Disregard For People, Horses - 2006

To The Residents of Grand Island,
    In lieu of all the recent accidents involving vehicles I think it is time that the residents slow down. I watch everyday speeding trucks and cars on just about every road on the Island. This excess speed is not only causing accidents, but is putting our kids in danger. The kids are out for the summer and riding bicycles everywhere along side the roads. There are adults also riding bicycles, as well as the people that have horses and that make occasionally rides down the roads to other paths.
   Why must everyone be in a hurry and jeopardize others. I believe we have neighborhood watch areas, well I think it is about time that we take back your streets and make them safer. The Sheriff Dept.’s is having its own problems and just cannot be in every place at once. But I do believe that we as residents should call and let them know of the speeding problems and that we want them to be controlled it will help.
   We just lost a dog due to an inconsiderate driver that hit her and left her to die on the side of the road. That person did not even have the decency to take her the less than 1000 yards to the animal hospital, which happens to be open 24 hours, let alone stop to see if she needed help.
   This all needs to stop, people must slow down. There are just too many accidents on this little Island. We have had people, animals and vehicle hit. What is it going to take to slow people down? Why and how has the Island gotten to be this way?
Leigh Shelton
Whitehaven Road

Matt Sutton, People To People Student Ambassador, Seeks Financial Sponsors - 2006

Dear Friends and Neighbors;
   My name is Matthew Sutton. I recently graduated from Huth Road elementary and the 5th grade and will be moving on to Connor Middle School. I was recently interviewed and accepted to participate as a member of the People to People Student Ambassador Program traveling to England and Scotland this summer. The objective of this program is to promote international understanding while building leadership skills among America's youth. The 20-day experience includes meetings with government officials, interaction with other students my age, and daily educational activities.
   I am currently seeking financial sponsors to help me with the tuition and I hope I can count on your support. In case you haven't heard of People to People, let me share a little of the 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, Project Hope and Pen Pals. Presently, Mary Jean Eisenhower, the President's granddaughter, is the president and CEO of the organization.
   I am very honored to have been chosen by the People to People interviewing committee and plan to represent both my country and my Island with the utmost professionalism. I will be keeping a journal and taking lots of pictures which I would love to share with your group upon my return.
   The program tuition is $6000.00, which includes all transportation, accommodations, meals and educational activities. Is it possible for you to assist me by making a contribution? Any amount would be appreciated. Post cards will be sent from my trip, although I have been told, I may beat them home!
   If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us at 716-773-7738. Thank you for your consideration and support.
Matt Sutton, Student Ambassador
959 Ransom Road.
Posted June 11, 2006

1282 Stony Point Road - 2006

   I do not take rezoning lightly. The question of rezoning 1282 Stony Point has given me great opportunity to speak to numerous residents and consider several points of view. Thank you to all of the people involved in providing history and information along the way. I appreciate that you took the time and made the effort. I’ll share a summary of the volumes I’ve gathered on this matter.
   Residents have legitimate concerns about the uses allowed if this property is rezoned to R-3. The fact that principal uses in the R-3 zone include nursing homes, boarding homes, nursery schools and day care facilities is disconcerting to many residents. Even more of a problem are the special uses allowed in R-3. While granting any of these would require a public hearing and the possible imposition of conditions in addition to all of the usual examinations involved in the approval process, nearby residents are very concerned. The special uses allowed in R-3 include convenience stores, home occupations, medical/dental clinics, mobile home parks and restaurants. Residents are rightfully concerned that these uses that they consider out of character with the existing neighborhood could happen if 1282 Stony Point Road is rezoned to R-3.
   It was once very common to have medical and dental offices in homes. Mrs. Wilke spoke at the April 3 public hearing and has lived on Red Jacket Road for 51 years. I learned from her that at the time Dr. Miller petitioned the neighbors in the 1950s to have an office in his home, there were at least 4 other doctors or dentists doing the same thing in the same neighborhood. None remain today. Doctors and dentists no longer use their homes for offices.
   Using 1282 Stony Point Road for a professional office since Dr. Miller left the site has caused significant controversy. At times there has been great difficulty in determining the definition of a professional office and distinguishing between “professional” and “licensed.” Countless hours have been spent trying to resolve the issue. The Decorator’s Den occupancy of the site in the early 1990s caused considerable consternation. Recent rumors of a funeral home locating there brought concern.
   These problems will not go away. It appears unlikely that a medical or dental practice will be found to occupy this building. It is not practical to continue on the same path of the past 15 years with controversy erupting every time a move occurs at 1282 Stony Point Road. This request to rezone created an opportunity for the Town Board to examine the possibility of bringing this property into full residential use.
   After carefully examining the history of this situation and spending countless hours evaluating proposals and concerns, I believe that this final agreement, arrived at after months of discussion, balances the 1282 Stony Point Road property owner’s original request with the concerns of the neighbors. I understand that neither the owner of 1282 Stony Point Road who asked for a rezone to R-3 or the residents who voiced opposition to the request will be completely satisfied with this decision. I believe that it is a reasonable compromise that gets the property to full residential use while addressing the concerns that all R-3 uses are not compatible to the Stony Point/Red Jacket/Hennepin Road neighborhood.
   Under the agreement, the zoning is R-3 but with several important restrictions:
• The use is for residential apartments with no other use.
• There is a limit of 3 residential units.
• The structure cannot be expanded in any way, either up or out.
• Hennepin Road parking cannot be expanded.
• Parking on Love Road will be reduced to a maximum of 8 spaces and the pavement will include a recreational area.
   I believe that 3 apartments at this site are a less intrusive use than a professional office and one apartment. The Stony Point/Red Jacket/Hennepin Road neighborhood is a beautiful place to live and I can understand and appreciate every resident’s pride in it and their inexhaustible effort to keep it that way. I look forward to moving ahead and believe that this decision creates a more compatible use of 1282 Stony Point Road with the existing neighborhood.
Mary Cooke
Grand Island Town Councilwoman
Posted June 6, 2006

Resident Urges Neighbors To Attend Town Meeting Regarding New Subdivision - 2006

   Another subdivision, Waterford Park (70 homes), along with 150-200 cars is being proposed between East River, Stony Point, Riverdale Drive and Riverview Court. The developer has requested an entranceway onto the already treacherous S-curve on East River near North Colony. This section is heavily used by bicyclists, rollerbladers and pedestrians in addition to heavy trucks, cars and motorcycles going in and out of two bars. Many of these vehicles exceed the speed limit. Putting an entrance here would almost certainly result in numerous and serious accidents. Additional entrance/exit would be on the dead end of Stony Point, routing increased traffic through other residential areas.
   In talking with my neighbors, I've been surprised to learn that none of them know about this. It's only through our friends in Quality Quest and the Conservation Board that we've been informed of it. The folks who live in this area need to know that this project will be discussed at the next town meeting on June 5th at 8 p.m. A hearing may be set for the June 19th meeting. I'm hoping that residents will attend these meetings and express their concerns.
   Another development in an already heavily developed residential area will push Grand Island along the path to becoming another Amherst like community.
Nan Hoffman
East River Road
Posted June 1, 2006

To Friends of The Relay For Life Chicken BBQ - 2006

   On behalf of my Relay for Life team, The Jr. Polka Dot Chix, I would like to thank the Grand Island community and local areas for supporting the first annual chicken BBQ in support of The American Cancer Society. To say it was a HUGE success is an understatement. The goal was to sell 1000 dinners and that goal was met. We were thrilled when Betty Lantz announced that the 1000th ticket had been sold. In total, approximately $5,000 was raised. The weather held out and the drive-up service was a tremendous success.
   There are so many people who we need to thank and if by chance we have forgotten anyone, please accept out sincerest apologies. To the following companies and organizations for their generous donations and support and to the friends of the BBQ: Wendy’s Restaurant, LW Graphics, TC’s Lounge, Tops, Tim Horton’s, St. Marti-In-The-Fields, St. Stephen’s Church, Maria Burns/Zonta Club, DJ John Dudley of Parrot Karaoke, Bob Weaver Motor Sports, Town Clerk Pattie Frentzel and Deputy Town Clerks Betty Lantz, Karen Cooney, Diane Darmofalski and Sally Kaiser, Town of Grand Island Town Council, Mary Friona and Dave Harrington of Channel 2 News, Isledegrande/Teddy Linenfelser and Jodi Robinson, Grand Island Dispatch/Karen Keefe and Donna Webb, Cannon Design, Pritchard and Kennedy, Jimmy Linenfelser, Linda Tufillaro and staff, Double “D” Construction, Dennis Albert of The Youth Court, Tim Hortons, The Java Shop, and to Barb Swagler for always being our sounding board. To Beth Dommer, Eric Sharpe, LaValle Family, Linda and Tom Davide, Kathy Kraft, LoBrutto Family, Cooney Family, Gugino Family, Maria Burns and Mary Dunbar-Daluisio…thank you, thank you, thank you. To the volunteers who showed up that day to lend a hand, we thank you. To all of the Relay Teams for selling the tickets, setting up tables and for getting the word out there…we thank you as well.
   We will continue our crusade of raising money and raising awareness until this disease has been defeated. Cancer cannot shatter hope or invade the soul. Together we will win the fight.
   Again thank you so very much for your encouragement and God Bless.
Alicia J. Sommer
Team Captain of The Jr. Polka Dot Chix
Working to Connect the Dots to Curing Cancer
Team Members: Julianne Lavallee, Cassie LoBrutto, Elizabeth LoBrutto, Jessie LoBrutto, Jenna Paternostro, Alicia Sommer, Debbie Sommer, Emily Sommer, Kevin Sommer, Becky Sommer-Stufkosky, Jenna Stufkosky and Rich Stufkosky
Posted May 22, 2006

American Legion Seeks New Members - 2006

   The Grand Island American Legion Post 1346 is looking for new members. Because we are losing World War II people daily, we need new people to show support so that the Federal government does not take benefits from the service person (which they are constantly trying to do). We need active and non active members just to show numbers so they can lobby Congress.
   To be eligible, you have to have served during combat (but not necessarily in a combat zone), and have an honorable discharge. For more information or for an application sent to you, contact Shorty Vanthoff at 773-7915.
Richard "Shorty" Vanthoff
Post Adjutant
Posted May 16, 2006

American Legion Thanks Plant Sale Supporters - 2006

   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, Isledegrande.com, Island Dispatch, and the PennySaver for their coverage.
   We hope everyone had a Happy Mother's Day and look forward to next year.
Robert J. Soluri
Post Commander
Posted May 16, 2006

Resident Responds to Inaccuracies Regarding School District Salaries - 2006

Editor's Note: The following is in regard to a Letter To The Editor published in the April 21, 2006 issue of the Island Dispatch. The letter was not posted at Isledegrande.com
   The recent editorial by Mary and Warren Hardy is so full of inaccuracies that I felt the need to respond. Yes, I am a teacher, but not in the GI district, but I am a parent of three whom all attend GI schools. I’ll go through their editorial to make my points and address inaccuracies, hoping that I have all my facts straight.
• When the school budget was voted down last year it was not the teachers’ union that asked for a revote, it was the GI school board.
• Yes, children will lose out if we do not supply them with a well rounded, education including music, sports, AP classes, clubs, intramurals, and smaller class sizes.
• Teachers get paid a salary. Their comment that teachers work for only 9 months (actually it is 10), needs some clarification. Besides the 35 hours of classroom time a week, I spend many hours correcting papers, writing report cards, and planning lessons. Teachers attend conferences and workshops out of school hours to continually improve our craft. So add it all up, and my family would agree that I work about 50 hrs. a week, while only 35 hrs. is required. I cannot think of another occupation where this happens. Not a problem because that is what it takes to do the best job I can.
• Why is it thought that teachers do not deserve benefits? Most people receive benefits with their job ie: matching 401K contributions, bonuses, health insurance, etc. Taxpayers don’t pay extra for teachers’ retirement or health insurance, these are benefits. It is not a separate item on your tax statement. Longstanding teachers will tell you stories of what was given up by teachers over the years to approve contracts.
• Yes, NYS does contribute to a teachers’ retirement, but they do the same for every State worker, yet people don’t begrudge the toll collectors, policemen, and firemen their benefits.
• In their editorial they say “what makes teachers better than the rest of us?” I say, nothing. Also they say “teachers and administrators are making more than the public they are supposed to be serving” and they want to see us “become the public servants again.” I’m a teacher, I teach children. I have hopes for their future, and the future of this country. I’m not a servant to anyone! How absurd a comment that is.
• “Teacher’s make a decent salary”. I’m happy with my pay because I like my work. Before becoming a teacher I was a pharmacist for over 10 years. As a pharmacist I would make more than twice my current salary. I would still receive benefits in addition to that. Is this fair? I’m not sure. I’ve never worked harder than I do now. I feel that a pharmacist is paid fairly for the level of expertise required, but why do people continually say teacher’s, who are required to have Master’s Degrees, are overpaid? If you walk a day in my shoes and still feel that way, so be it. I offer anyone that challenge.
   In closing, my point is this. Teachers do what we do because we enjoy it. We take pride in our work and wish the public would feel proud that their children are fortunate enough to receive a quality education. Sure, we occasionally gripe about our pay, who doesn’t? What would mean more to a teacher would be to get the respect from parents that they deserve for doing a difficult job with pride and compassion. You get what you pay for, and that includes education. The taxes in NYS are too high, I agree, but if you truly care about the future of this community, you won’t cut corners with education, for without education there is no hope for the future.
Educationally Yours,

Mary Ellen Manuszewski
Posted May 4, 2006

"To Our Friends At Isledegrande.com" - 2006

   On behalf of my Relay for Life team, The Jr. Polka Dot Chix, I would like to thank you for all of your hard work and for keeping our story going. Our team goal is to beat what we raised last year, which was over $4000, and with your help we are on our way to achieving this objective.
   Cancer has touched so many lives including my own, as I am a cancer survivor. As a survivor, I will do what I can to support people facing this catastrophic disease.
   Again thank you so very much for your generosity, encouragement and may God Bless.
Alicia J. Sommer
Team Captain of The Jr. Polka Dot Chix
Working to Connect the Dots to Curing Cancer
(Team members are Julianne Lavallee, Cassie LoBrutto, Elizabeth LoBrutto, Jessie LoBrutto, Alicia Sommer, Debbie Sommer, Emily Sommer, Kevin Sommer, Becky Sommer-Stufkosky, Jenna Stufkosky and Rich Stufkosky)
Posted May 2, 2006

Relay For Life Chairs Reflect On Paint The Town Purple - 2006

   The American Cancer Society Relay For Life in towns all across America has designated May 1st as Paint The Town Purple . This is designed to bring everyone to the awareness of Purple being the color of Relay For Life. By decorating your mailbox, tree in your front yard, 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 by Reg Schopp. It may be picked up at his shop, deSignet Jewelry at 1869 Whitehaven Rd. from April 1st to May 1st. So come on Grand Island, let us show our support for this and decorate.
   The Relay For Life committee is looking for team captains or any willing people to decorate the Town Commons on Saturday, April 29th at 9 a.m. We will meet in the parking lot and have plenty of purple ribbon to apply to trees etc. Hopefully we can make the impact known that we are “United for a CURE,” our theme for this year's Relay to be held June 9th at the Grand Island High School.
   For more information about the event, you can call Deb Bogdan, the staff person at the American Cancer Society, 1-800-ACS-2345.
Thank You
Mary Dunbar-Daluisio
Peter McMahon
Co-Chairs for Relay For Life Grand Island
Posted April 20, 2006

Fareway-Fix-Baseline Neighborhood Association Formed - 2006

   Inspired by the rally cry of "No to Cottages," the residents of Fareway Lane and parts of Fix and Baseline roads on Grand Island have organized to stop development of a 28.5 acre emergent wetland area located behind their homes.
   The newly formed Fareway-Fix-Baseline Neighborhood Association seeks to prevent building the proposed cottages in order to avoid disturbing the hydric soils, which can result in collapsing and leaking basements now occurring in Amherst. According to Jerry Wochadlo, Program Coordinator for the group, "The soil and water conditions in this emergent wetland area are the same as found in many areas of Amherst, New York."
   Elected as officers are Chuck Turner, president; Elizabeth Stoklosa, secretary-treasurer; and Jerry Wochadlo, program coordinator.
   The Fareway-Fix-Baseline Neighborhood Association has retained environmental attorney and activist Mr. Richard J. Lippes, to represent them in their efforts. Donations for legal assistance are needed. Checks or money orders may be made out to "Richard J. Lippes, Esq." and sent to the FFBNA, 2122 Fix Road, Grand Island, NY.
Gerald Wochadlo
Posted April 11, 2006

Sam Hoyt Speaks Out on Bridge Tolls - 2006

   Dear Editor:
   I am heartened by Eliot Spitzer’s support for the elimination of the tolls at the Black Rock and Ogden Street barriers. As we all recognize, these tolls serve as essentially a commuter tax imposed on the residents of our region.
   More than 50 years ago a terribly shortsighted decision was made to build a highway along our waterfront, stealing this tremendous asset from our citizens and forever impeding access to that magnificent section of our waterfront. Then, adding insult to injury, we have been forced to pay a toll to use that section of highway to access downtown. There have been four Governors since that ill-fated decision – republicans and democrats alike – none of whom had the courage to stand up for what was right for our community as Eliot Spitzer has done.
   In a move that once again demonstrates his grasp of the issues that are important to our region, he has pledged to act expediently as Governor to redress this injustice and eliminate these tolls. I know that Eliot sees Buffalo as I do, a magnificent city on the verge of enormous success and growth, and that he understands that strengthening our cities is the key to strengthening our state. Eliminating these tolls will be an important step in revitalizing our great city, and I am confident that together we can effect this change.
Posted April 11, 2006

Voice of the People Time Has Increased; School Trustees Also Pay Taxes - 2006

   In response to the letter in last week’s IsledeGrande critical of the school board Voice of the People policy, the writer’s so-called “facts” are incorrect.
   Public comment has not been limited. There are now two Voice of the People options, prior to, and after the meeting, the first for agenda items, the second, for general comments. This policy is new this year, allowing for more, not less, speaking opportunity.
   There is no place for “debate” at a school board meeting. It is not a public forum: it is a meeting in public and an opportunity for the public to voice its opinion. Also, the criticism of low attendance at meetings is unjustified. Low attendance at school board meetings has been the norm for years, unfortunately, unless a specific issue is involved.
   Finally, trustees are not taxing “others;” they are taxing themselves as well. Trustees live on the Island; they do not get paid for serving on the school board; they often suffer the slings and arrows of rancorous and often incorrect and insulting diatribe, yet they have a sense of civic responsibility far exceeding that of their critics.
Lee Cohen
Posted April 4, 2006

Support Billy's Buddies - Relay For Life - 2006

   In memory of my brother, Billy Gugino Jr., I have formed a Relay for Life Team. Billy was my older brother who passed away from brain cancer, before I was even born. Billy would be graduating from high school this year, if only he wasn't born with cancer. In an attempt to help others make it to their graduation day, my team and I will need your help. All money raised by Billy's Buddies will be donated to the American Cancer Society through the Relay for Life Event.
   In lieu of cash donations, we are asking that you donate your returnable bottles and cans, to our team. There is no hard work for you to do . . . just save them and we will pick them up. We will call and schedule a pick-up for the weekend of April 7-8. If the bottles are starting to pile up and you need an earlier pick-up, just call the number below. We will be happy to come and get them from you.
   Also, if you can ask your friends and family to also save their bottles, we will be glad to pick them up, too.
   Once again, we thank you for helping us in reaching our goal in memory of Billy.
   Thanks for your support!!
Anthony Gugino
Posted March 29, 2006

School Budget And Low Attendance At School Board Meetings - 2006

   Well, it certainly is wonderful to be missed! The low attendance at the Grand Island School Board meetings should come as no surprise to the Board members who saw fit to change their meeting rules so as to limit debate and stifle free speech. Their plan has evidently worked well, and we hope they enjoy their controversy-free private little meetings that apparently could be held in a broom closet without any problems. Superintendent Ramming should also be happy that now he can push through his agenda without having to tolerate all the repetitive, boring comments made by those pesky "gadfly" taxpayers. Perhaps it has worked too well, as now it appears that even budget supporters have determined that attendance at these meetings is a waste of time unless prompted by some popular special student event.
   However, we want to assure the School Board that there are still Grand Island taxpayers who are paying attention, and who continue to object to the predictable, yearly, generous increases in the Grand Island School budget proposal. We supposedly "wealthy" taxpayers have not enjoyed the benefits of an 8.7% increase in our incomes, and unlike the School Board, we do not have the unlimited power to tax others to pay for our growing expenses. Just like the Erie County Legislators, the Grand Island School Board members seek to restore previous cuts and ignore the outcome of last year's budget vote. Although we may have been restricted at Board meetings, we still have the ability to make our wishes known by voting "NO" for an over-inflated school budget.
Denis & Carol Dzielski
Posted March 28, 2006

School Budget - 2006

   I hope that all Grand Island residents came out to the High School this week for the extraordinary All-Island Jazz Concert. The student instrumental and choral performers were truly amazing. Thank you to the music teachers of Grand Island for their hard work and dedicated service to the students of Grand Island.
   Sitting in the audience, I thought it ironic that so many parents, grandparents, and residents may not realize what is about to happen to our school system. On March 27th, the Grand Island school board will hold a business meeting, at which it will finalize a school budget that must be adopted by the board no later than April 10th. The budget vote for our 2006-07 school budget is on May 16th.
   At its last meeting the school board indicated that it would most likely adopt a budget that continues the 2005-06 programs and services, instead of a budget that restores the cuts made last year. This means that there will be no funding for out-of-district field trips, no funding for ECO Island, no funding for daily cleaning of classrooms, no funding for smaller class sizes, and no funding for the sports, intramurals, school clubs, and classes that were eliminated from our 2005-06 budget. Is this what you want for the children of Grand Island? I don’t, and I happen to believe that the vast majority of Grand Island residents agree with me.
   Please take the time to call and write to your school board members to let them know that you want the board to adopt a budget that restores funding for the programs that were cut last year. Tell the board to adopt a budget that we can be proud to vote YES for on May 16th. Please go to the school district website for more information, or call me at 773-4301.
   Don’t let the children of Grand Island down. You have until March 27th to let the school board members know that you support public education and that you support a budget that fully funds our school district. Please do something before it is too late. The board members want to hear from you. Please attend the school board meeting on March 27th and speak up for our children. This will be our only opportunity to tell the board that we want to vote YES for a budget that restores funding for field trips, ECO Island, cleaning services, sports programs, high school classes, smaller class sizes, and everything else that was so brutally eliminated from our school budget in 2005-06.
   You are the public in public education. Without your support, our school district is in real danger of being devastated, one budget at a time.
   Please let your voice be heard by our school board.
Sarah E. Tollner
Posted March 16, 2006

Resident Speaks In Favor of Dr. Ramming - 2006

   In our present society, do we as adults do everything we can to lead by example, instill self esteem, choose the right road if you will, the high road when it comes to our children? Through education you will and can better yourself. With all the legal issues in the school system today, I for one do not know how the educators or the administrators have the patience to balance all of that everyday.
   A few months ago there was a letter to the editor regarding the superintendent, Dr. Thomas Ramming, in which the person commented about what time of day he could be found working out at the Holiday Inn. It didn't seem to have a lot of facts to the story but this person had comments to say. I am proud to say that I am a working mother of a graduate of Grand Island. If my hours are 8-5 and I can manage to go in to work at 7, out at 4 and do something positive for myself, it would be a good, healthy example to set: i.e. - a healthy mind and body is a terrible thing to waste. This statement did not include the hours that the superintendent actually puts in or was he working out in between the end of the school day and before a meeting he had to return to at night? We don't know the facts.
   Connor Middle School - 11th out of 144 middle schools in WNY. Interscholastic teams consistently demonstrate athletic supremacy by collectively finishing ahead of six other schools. This is a great return for taxes paid to support education but who really wins? Our children are our future! The fact that we are losing the leadership of someone I believe was instrumental in getting this ranking to begin with, is a bad blow.
   I along with other Islanders are surely going to miss this compassionate educator, Dr. Thomas Ramming, who put the facts in print. Thank you for all you have done for the children of our Island.
School System Supporter
Mary A. Dunbar-Daluisio
Posted March 16, 2006

Open Letter to Grand Island Town Officials Concerning the Country Club Cottages Development - 2006

   Recently, Mr. John Stickl, a developer, purchased a 28-acre parcel with intent to build 78 patio type homes for senior citizens. Unfortunately, this property, between Fareway Lane, Baseline, Fix Road, and the DeGlopper farm, is located right in the middle of an existing community.
   For 35 or so years, the residents here have enjoyed a high quality of life including an amount of privacy, a quiet neighborhood, and a lovely natural area behind their homes. They purchased their homes precisely because of the particular environment that existed, and currently enjoy the beauty of nature that has evolved over the years. The area attracts numerous forms of wildlife, and last summer provided hunting space for a pair of baby Northern Bald Eagles.
   While Mr. Stickl may consider his intentions noble, the fact is that scraping that land bare will forever change, in an extremely negative way, the character of the existing neighborhood.
   In November of 1998, the Town accepted the revised Comprehensive Plan for Grand Island. The following statements are taken from the plan: "The Town of Grand Island is indeed a unique environment." "The Grand Island community enjoys a rural character that it seeks to maintain as it accommodates growth." "The key to maintaining the rural atmosphere of the town is to maintain natural open space."
   The following phrases are found in the Grand Island Zoning Code adopted July 19, 2004:
   "The use will be compatible with existing development in the surrounding area."
   ". . .development has occurred in a particular pattern and future development should follow that pattern to be compatible with the neighborhood."
   Permits may be authorized by the Town Board upon satisfactory evaluation of the impact on the surrounding properties and neighborhood."
   There is no way that a footprint of 78 homes in the middle of the existing neighborhood can be considered compatible with that existing neighborhood. Are the words of the Comprehensive Plan and the Zoning Code hollow? Are only the developer's words heard?
   Numerous issues exist with respect to drainage, flooding and potential property damage. Hydric Odessa clay soil that can lead to sinking homes and cracked basements and foundations, the same soil from the same glacial lakebed that exists in Amherst, exists on this parcel. Town officials have long been aware of numerous damaged homes on Grand Island due to shifting and slippage of the clay soils.
   Mr. Stickl plans to "fix" all the drainage and potential flooding problems. His SEQR Application states the parcel is "60% poorly drained" with the "water table just 6 inches below the surface." The reality is that the area is "emerging wetlands" identified by U. S. Fish and Wildlife and it is WET. By draining the area, the clay subsoil will dry out allowing it to shrink and pull away from foundations. Recent dry summers have already produced that situation for many houses in the area resulting in sinking steps, patios, cracked basement floors, water leakage and shifting basement walls.
   The New York State DEC has identified six unique ecosystems on Grand Island. The Big Six Mile Creek System is one of the six ecosystems. The DEC has cautioned that the Town should take careful consideration of the area. The Master Plan states with regard to these systems "The full range of preservation options should be considered for the management of these areas." Big Six Mile Creek flows through this parcel, between Fix Road and Fareway Lane, from north to south. Mr. Stickl's plan shows several homes and part of a roadway built over the creek. He has not provided for any setback as required by the zoning code, and one can only presume that he plans to fill it in. He calls it an "unnamed farmers ditch!" Why haven't the Planning Board and Zoning Board challenged his proposal according to their own Comprehensive Plan requirements?
   The bottom line is that this development should be rejected for all of above reasons. Are any Town Officials willing to stand up for the taxpayers in this neighborhood? Will Grand Island officials honor the words of their Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Code? This has been an established community for many years with a defined character unique to the location. The residents are entitled to continue enjoying the high quality of life that currently exists in the neighborhood. The quiet character of the area is why they bought their current homes. Take a good look at the community and then try to justify the proposed development. It doesn't fit, and it is simply wrong, wrong, wrong.

For larger view of signatures, click below:

VFW Ladies Thank Spaghetti Dinner Supporters - 2006

   The Charles N. DeGlopper Memorial VFW Post 9249 Ladies Auxiliary would like to thank everyone for their support at their recent Spaghetti Dinner. Proceeds form the dinner and raffles will be donated to Women's and Children Hospital and the Muscular Dystrophy Association. A special thanks goes to the masters in the kitchen, Chef Bill Shickluna and Ray Biggs, for preparing the ribs, meat balls and "Jennie's spaghetti sauce."
Thank you,
Mary Patterson and Donna Briggs.
Posted March 9, 2006

Thompson Files Request To Run For Senate - 2006

   I have officially filed my request to run for the Senate seat vacated by Byron Brown. The district covers Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Grand Island.
   With the seat now vacant and the people of Western New York being once again without representation in the Senate, I am formally announcing my run for the 60th district senate seat. As a political activist for over 10 years, co-founder of Primary Challenge, Free Buffalo and the Tax Revolt, I have sent in a request to the Republican and Conservatives Parties of Erie County asking for their endorsement. I will be contacting the Niagara County parties today.
   As Albany is the root of many of the problems we face here in WNY, it is time to properly represent the people at this end of the state. New York City politics has dominated the politics of NY State and our representation has been all but non existent. It is time for Western New York to demand the proper representation and stop the down state political influences.
Rus Thompson
Grand Island, NY
Posted January 9, 2006

Responding To An Eavesdropper - 2006
   Writer Criticizes GI Record's Columnist

   After reading a disturbing little bit in the Grand Island Record's Isle File, I felt forced to respond. It bothered me enough that I immediately put a call into the author(s) and left a message, asking for them to give me a call, which has gone unanswered.
   While I don't know you personally, I do respect your right to give your opinion. In fact, if your article had just been your opinion I would have never written this.
   The problem I have is that you actually quoted something that I absolutely did not say, and the sad truth is that short of a lie detector test (which I would eagerly take) there are those who will believe what you wrote. Unfortunately, I am left with the consequences of your mistake.
Marge Robillard
PS. Maybe the Grand Island Record should stop using gossip, rumors, and anonymous letters as their news sources - just my opinion
Posted January 5, 2006

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