Year 2008 In Review
Grand Island, N.Y.

By Teddy Linenfelser


Grand Island's first baby of the year 2008 may have been Vincent Marcello Pascucci, born January 22, 2008 to Mackenzie Hassan and Angelo Pascucci.

The toll to cross either the north or south Grand Island Bridge rose from $.75 to $1 on Sunday, January 6.

A pole snapped in half causing lines down and the transformer sparking in the middle of Fix Road around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday, January 9. Winds were reported to be between 30 to 50 mph with peak gusts as high as 62 mph.

21-year-old Kelly Voltz of Grand Island was killed in a one-car accident on Wednesday, January 23 on East West Road in Buckhorn State Park.

All Grand Island schools were closed on Wednesday, January 30 due to high winds, reaching 64 mph at the Buffalo Airport. There were numerous reports of wires down, traffic signals out, power outages, and property damage.

The Grand Island High School production of "Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," January 31 through February 2nd, was an awesome, outstanding, and amazing show!


The Erie County Sheriff's Department responded to a home on Whitehaven Road early Sunday morning, February 10 where deputies ticketed 43 teenagers for underage drinking.

Island Prescription Center at 1728 Grand Island Blvd. was robbed of drugs Tuesday, February 12th. A Grand Island resident was arrested Saturday morning, February 16th and was in jail facing a first degree robbery charge.

The Erie County Sheriff's Department responded to a home on East River Road early Sunday morning, February 17 where deputies made 10 arrests for underage drinking.

Island resident Leon Carr, 29, died Tuesday, February 19th in the Erie County Medical Center from injuries suffered in a snowboarding accident.

A West Oakfield Road resident gave a guilty plea to second degree identity theft.

Jenny Benz, the former Jennifer Becker, who grew up on Grand Island, and her husband, Dick Benz, opened their Dick & Jenny's Bake & Brew on February 26 in the former Del & Herb's Restaurant on Baseline at Love Road.


The Erie County Sheriff's Department made an arrest after investigating a holdup attempt at the HSBC bank on Baseline Road at Grand Island Blvd. Monday, March 3.

A 66-year-old Grand Island man who pleaded guilty in August 2007 to possession of child pornography was sentenced Wednesday, March 6 to five years in federal prison.

The Grand Island Foundation (for Education) held its second annual Distinguished Alumni Awards Ceremony on Friday, March 7. Honored this year were Kathryn Hug Anton, Class of '87; David J. Conboy, Class of '80; and Dr. Karl J. Kreutz, Class of '87.

One Island, One Team, One Dream, To Be Drug Free, formed to provide a drug-free school and community for the youth of Grand Island, continued to meet throughout the year 2008.

Grand Island Highway crews worked around the clock from Friday, March 7th to Sunday, March 9th as the snow started coming down on Friday afternoon causing slippery conditions. Saturday's second blast was more severe, filling driveways and blocking doors.

The Nerd Herd team of students Julia Figliotti, Luke Burkhart, Amanda Jaeger and Alex Richter was the final winner of the 10th annual Corporate Bowl held by GISBA (Grand Island School Business Alliance ) on Tuesday, March 11 in the high school auditorium.

Chunks of heavy “lake ice,” more than a dozen feet thick, helped create the worst ice jams on the Niagara River in more than 20 years.

A 16-year-old Grand Island High School student who hacked into the district computer system was arrested by state troopers on a charge of unauthorized use of a computer, a misdemeanor.

Police broke up an underage drinking party on Grand Island late Saturday night, March 22nd after they were called about loud music in a Bedell Road apartment. Eight underage partiers and one adult were arrested.

Grand Island's broke another record in "unique visitors" to the site during the month of March 2008. Total "unique visitors" for the month of March 2008 reached 28,076.


Kevin Coffta, 28, of Grand Island, lost his life when struck by a car on the Niagara section of the New York State Thruway.

There were no injuries when a vehicle accidentally crashed into a front plate glass window of the Subway Sandwich Shop after it jumped up and across a four-foot walkway.

Two men whose canoe capsized in the Niagara River off Grand Island were saved by a father and son in a borrowed rowboat.

A chemical emergency caused one person to be exposed to hydrogen sulfide at a Staley Road plant on Tuesday, April 15.

The Grand Island high school group, "Inlite," won the Music Is Art Foundation Battle of the Bands challenge on Thursday, April 10th in HSBC Arena.

Assemblymember Sam Hoyt announced the restoration of state funding for ninety-two school resource officers (SRO’s) currently serving in schools throughout New York State.

Assemblymember Sam Hoyt announced that the 2008-2009 state budget contains a $1.59 million increase in school aid for the Grand Island public schools.

Sabrina Reagle, 11, was the guest of honor at a fundraiser held on Sunday, April 6th at the Grand Island Holiday Inn.

The Islettes Elite took on a monumental task of hosting the Miss Majorette of New York Competition at Williamsville North High School on Sunday, March 30th.

St. Stephen Parish Players, including young people from the entire Grand Island community, presented "Willy Wonka Junior" on April 4, 5, and 6 in St. Stephen School.

A stubborn garage fire on Stony Point Road was brought under control with the estimated loss set at $40,000.

A one-car motor vehicle accident just north of the Niagara Sailing Club on East River Road caused extensive property damage including damage to two parked cars (BMWs), and a boat (Donzi).

The Historical Society's annual Victorian Tea, held Sunday, April 20th at River Lea, was a highly successful event with credit going to an active membership and a committee co-chaired by Jane Duffy, Carolyn Doebert and Sharon Nichols.

A 1980 Camaro was lost in a garage fire on Stony Point Road.

Longtime Island photographer Barbi Lare passed away.

Make-A-Wish Foundation of Western New York made arrangements for the building of Ian Cameron 's very own train station. Ian, 3 1/2, has been dealing with cancer most of his life.

CW3 William J. Tokash Jr., serving in the United States Army, was recently made commander of the 31st Military Police Detachment (CID) (AASLT).

The Grand Island Chamber of Commerce held its 42nd annual Citizen of the Year Award Banquet on April 24 at the Holiday Inn Resort & Conference Center.


The recently organized Grand Island Rugby Club, Men’s Team, played its first game against the South Buffalo Boys at Father Conway Field on Louisiana Street in Buffalo Sunday, May 4th.

Island resident John J. Larry lost his life while vacationing with his wife and friends in Florida.

Grand Island voters passed the 2008-09 School District Budget of $50,487,553 on Tuesday, May 20 and incumbent trustees Myrna Blair and Richard Little Jr. were re-elected to the Board of Education.

The Grand Island Fire Company turned 70 years old and members and guests celebrated the occasion with a dinner dance at Harry's Harbour Place Grill.

The Grand Island Little League's opening day was held on Saturday, May 10 at Veterans Park when Mark Raepple threw the first ball in memory of his father, Al.

A motor vehicle accident at the corner of Baseline and Fix roads on the afternoon of Thursday, May 22 sent a total of five people to area hospitals.

The Grand Island High School Boys Swimming & Diving team received the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association of America, Inc. Scholar Team Bronze Award. The team posted an overall average of 3.280 on a 4.000 scale.


Assemblymember Sam Hoyt announced the award to Grand Island of a $267,593 grant from the State Environmental Protection Fund's Local Waterfront Revitalization Program for the Fisherman's Park project.

Supervisor Peter McMahon entered Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital early Thursday morning, June 19 for bypass surgery.

The Grand Island Central School District Athletic Program wrapped up a phenomenal year with the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) recognizing Grand Island Central School District as a ‘School of Distinction’.

The Grand Island High School Class of 2008 Senior Prom, "A Red Carpet Night," was held Saturday, June 14 at Rich's Atrium, Niagara Street, Buffalo.

The Grand Island High School's forty-third commencement exercises were held in Kleinhans Music Hall on Thursday, June 26 at 7 p.m.

A ribbon cutting was held for the Huth Road Elementary School’s new playground equipment in celebration of the end results of three years of planning and fundraising.

Grand Island High School won several State Track/Field Championships.

A basement fire at the River Oaks Golf Clubhouse caused $900 to the contents, with no structural involvement.

Thomas Juszczak of Niagara Falls reportedly lost control of his motorcycle on the northbound I-190 near the Staley Road overpass, and hit the median barrier. The victim was transported by Mercy Flight to Erie County Medical Center.

Sixty participants took part in the Chamber of Commerce KidBiz event held Saturday, June 28.


Over 60 units participated in the July 4th parade down Grand Island Blvd. on a sunny Friday.

Baton twirlers from Teddy's Islettes, 1961-1987, practiced all year and marched, twirled and tossed their batons throughout the July 4th parade.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9249 hosted the annual Grand Island picnic on the VFW grounds on Grand Island Blvd. with a record crowd attending.

Students of Buffalo State College Anthropology Professor Dr. Lisa Marie Anselmi spent four weeks excavating a small area of the Martin/Martin II site near the Beaver Island golf course.

Moody's Investors Service has assigned an A1 rating to the Town of Grand Island's bonds.

The Sidway School reunion for 8th and 9th grade graduates was held at the Holiday Inn and a good time was had by all.

Sheriff's Deputies at 8:40 a.m. Saturday, July 19, pulled over a motorist for a traffic violation on Grand Island Boulevard near Staley Road. The motorist immediately took off on foot. After searching all day, the person was apprehended on the other side of the East Niagara River around 11 p.m.

The Lions Club's Annual Special Childrens' Picnic was held at the Buffalo Launch Club. The tradition began in the summer of 1958.

The late Coach Gene Masters was inducted into the NYS Hall of Fame.

The Leon D. Carr Disc Golf Tournament held July 5 drew people from as far away as Florida, Georgia, Indianapolis and Canada to boost the success of the Grand Island fundraiser.

Paddles Up Niagara 2008, now in its third year, attracted more than 175 people who plied the waters of the river in 143 canoes and kayaks. The event was held July 26th off Beaver Island State Park.

Members of the Islettes Elite All Star National Team competed in America's Youth On Parade (AYOP) championships in July 2008.

The Vikingettes, Grand Island High School’s new baton team, traveled to South Bend, Indiana in July to compete at the AYOP Competition (America’s Youth on Parade). The girls, Molly Wynne, Shelbi Milkas, Alissa Bailey and Captain Rebecca Sobol, won second place in the High School Line and Dance Twirl contest.

A letter formally announcing the release of $400,482 in funding to support the development of the Fisherman’s Landing project was received by the town July 31.

The Grand Island E-News at broke ANOTHER record in "unique visitors" to the site during the month of July 2008. Total "visitors" reached 29324.


Twelve horses and five sheep were removed from Sparks Trading Post on Bedell Road Tuesday, August 12. The case is still in the court.

Former Grand Island football coach Gene Masters was inducted into the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association Hall of Fame on Aug. 6 in Rye Brook.

A house fire at 81 Pleasant Trail caused estimated damage of $65,000 to the structure and $30,000 to the contents.

The band, "Inlite" of Grand Island, NY was the National Grand Prize winner of Supernova’s Out of the Garage series (Bands Championship). Members of the band are Grand Island High School students, Nick Kelly, Griffin Smith, Jordan Dixon, Josh Little and Lee Becker.

Battle Hymn of the Republic, performed by the Community Chorus and Community Wind Ensemble, during a summer concert in the high school, drew a standing ovation.

The Town Board, Monday, August 18th, granted site plan approval to Starline USA, Inc. at 3036 Alt Blvd. for two 1,100 sq. ft. office additions and a 35,029 sq. ft. warehouse.

Severe thunderstorms and wind lashed their fury Sunday afternoon, August 24 as the storm crossed the south end of the Island, causing flooding in many areas.

Brett Kern was informed that he made the Denver Broncos’ 53-man roster.


The Grand Island Fire Company responded to numerous reports of traffic signals out due to power outages from a wind storm on Sunday evening, September 14.

Four-year-old cancer survivor Ian Cameron appeared on "Good Morning America" on September 16th.

According to the Buffalo News, in reference to the Grand Island High School student band's performance at the Music Is Art festival at the Albright Art Gallery, "Inlite" was unarguably the highlight of the festival. The News also said: Another crowd-pleaser and Battle of the Bands finalist was "Sleepless City" of Grand Island with one of the most energetic and enthusiastic performances of the day.

The Grand Island Cooperative Nursery School's 60th anniversary was noted in a feature story posted at

High School Business teacher Cheryl Chamberlain and her Small Business & DECA students opened a much anticipated school store at the school's open house Thursday, September 18.

The Waterford Park development, bounded by Riverview Court, East River Road, Riverdale Drive and Beaver Island Parkway, was well underway where single family houses will be built by Ryan Homes.

The Grand Island High School Varsity Vikings recognized H. David Myers at the homecoming game on Saturday, September 27. The Vikings beat Williamsville East 47-0. Deemed the Father of Viking Athletics, Dave Myers was the first athletic director/physical education teacher for the School District from 1948-1983.

The Grand Island E-News at broke records in July, August and September. We have gained new readers continuously and evidently they are staying with us as the numbers show. Thank you, everyone.


Two Island residents were arrested on felony drug counts at a West Park Road address on Friday, October 3 when investigators discovered an elaborate hydroponics set-up and several marijuana plants being grown at the residence.

Members of the Rotary Club of Grand Island adding another entrance/exit set of stairs to the park's gazebo.

The annual Grandparents' Breakfast at Sidway School took place the week of Monday, October 6.

Thirteen-year-old Michael "Buck" Long was seriously injured and transported to Women & Children's Hospital by Mercy Flight after being struck by a motorcycle while riding his bike in front of 1970 Grand Island Blvd. Sunday, October 12.

Timothy F. Weczerek lost his life in a one-car accident on Whitehaven Road Sunday afternoon, October 12.

A Cheektowaga resident was killed in a motor vehicle accident involving a motorcycle shortly before 7 a.m. Tuesday, October 14.

Erie County Sheriff’s Dept. narcotics detectives arrested a 40-year-old Grand Island man on Saturday, October 11 that they said was "part of an ongoing investigation into drug activity on the island."

NYS Senator Antoine M. Thompson and NYSDOT Regional Director Alan Taylor walked to school with Kaegebein Elementary students on Wednesday, October 8th to celebrate "International Walk A Child to School Day."

Niagara Falls Police and Investigators from the New York State Insurance Frauds Bureau arrested two men including a Grand Island resident on Friday, October 10 after a two-month investigation into a case of vehicle insurance fraud. Both men were charged with felony counts of third-degree insurance fraud and third-degree auto stripping.

Members of the Trinity Church Women sewed 60 handmade school bags, filled them with school supplies and presented them to three kindergarten classes at Fillmore Central School, located in the poorest county in New York State.

The Varsity Vikings Football team beat Cheektowaga 22-6 to win the Section VI Quarterfinal on Saturday, October 25.

The Grand Island High School girls soccer team won the Section VI Quarterfinal with a score of 4-3 over Iroquois on October 25.

Barges and workboats have been working in the middle of the East Niagara River installing fish attraction structures.

The Grand Island Fire Company dedicated a special memorial for deceased members, located just outside the main entrance at Fire Headquarters.

The Town of Grand Island announced the operation of a confidential tip line for the reporting of illegal drug activity within the town, and sponsored by the One Island, One Team, One Dream to Be Drug Free Committee.

The Grand Island JV Ladies Soccer Team finished their season at Ken West Thursday, October 16 with a final score of 1-0. The team finished the season undefeated in league play 15-0-0 and 17-0-1 overall for the 2008-2009 season.

The Island mourned the death of Meaghan A. Grotz, 21, on October 10. Born with cystic fibrosis, she was the recipient of a double lung transplant in November 2004.

The Grand Island Fire Company's Fire Prevention program included a ride to school on a fire engine for many lucky winners.

According to Fire Company officials, Julia Figliotti "had apparently lost control of her vehicle" on a dangerous curve, left the roadway and traveled about 100 feet down a steep embankment, before coming to rest against a tree and dock, a few feet short of the Niagara River. Julia was not injured in the accident that happened shortly after 6 p.m. Monday, October 27th.

The Grand Island Cross Country Teams had an excellent showing at the NFL League Championships Saturday, October 25 at Beaver Island. The girls won first and the boys, second.

The Grand Island boys volleyball team won the Section VI Class A pre-quarter-final Tuesday, October 28. broke a "Unique Visitors" record for October with 33,418 visitors.


Cinderella Island, Grand Island's history by Rob Roy McLeod, first published in 1950, became available through the courtesy of the Chamber of Commerce.

Unofficially about 10,500 residents voted in the November 4 election, about a 75% turnout for Grand Island. Unofficial numbers were 4,739 for Barack Obama and 5,395 for John McCain.

Legion of Honor recipient Joseph "Little Joe" Stefaniak, an 88-year-old Army veteran, was recognized at Grand Island's Veterans Day service Tuesday, November 11.

A fire in the apartment complex at 2268 Center Court North Tuesday night, November 25 caused approximately $150,000 in damages. It was necessary for twelve families to find other accommodations. Investigators said the fire in the double wide apartment building was probably caused by a damaged electrical extension cord.

Grand Island High School students presented Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing.” on Nov. 14-15.

The Grand Island Historic Preservation Advisory Board presented a photo display of historic Grand Island homes November 16 at River Lea in Beaver Island State Park.


James McDonnell was recognized by the Town Board with a proclamation for his achievement in reaching the highest rank in the Boy Scouts – the prestigious rank Eagle Scout.

Diane McDonough was the winner of the Historical Society's caned rocker raffle. The Society provided Christmas Luncheons that included a Roaring 20s fashion show along with open houses and a country store during the month of December.

John Bonora was re-elected president of the Chamber of Commerce.

Everything's Comin' Up Rosie Book Drive in honor of Roseanne Russell, took place in November and December as a means of collecting children's books for Roswell Park's Pediatric wing.

The Grand Island Central School District delivered a recorded message at 6 a.m. Friday, December 19th reporting that all Grand Island schools were closed. The snow storm began sometime after and delivered a great deal of snow.

Robert W. Christmann, Superintendent of Schools, addressed the proposed state aid cuts to schools in a message to on December 18th.

Students from the Grand Island High School DECA Club, Interact Club and Student Council, on Thursday, December 18th, sorted food at the Knights of Columbus for the Grand Island Neighbors Foundation.

It was announced that Carolyn Schopp of Grand Island, NY is the area’s No. 1-ranked women’s tennis player for the second straight year.

Grand Island’s “One Island, One Team, One Dream-To Be Drug Free” Initiative sponsored Project Sticker Shock at Tops Market on Grand Island Blvd. on Thursday, December 18.

Grand Island received its share of snow on Sunday, December 21st.

The Grand Island Fire Company responded to numerous calls for damage to trees and lines beginning at 8:29 a.m. Sunday, December 28th.

Longtime Island resident Marie Shoemaker lost her life in an automobile accident on Grand Island Blvd. Sunday morning, December 28th.

On the morning of December 28th a driver accidentally struck a house on Huth Road, punching a whole in the front wall.

Thank You Contributors

   Thanks to everyone who contributed news and pictures to this year, especially Jodi Robinson, Joelle Logue, Dan McMahon, Ray Pauley, Jeff Stange, Christine Stange, Mary Stewart, Barbara McMichael, Kim Schopp, Kim Kernan, Emily Dahlstrom, and Nathan Cook and student writers, Kaitie Samland and Kaitlyn Affuso. Thanks also to the teachers, coaches, parents, school officials and Islanders near and far who have submitted your news to us, and to those who added organization news, church events, photos, viewpoints and news of interest to anyone with a connection to Grand Island, NY. We have enjoyed another great year and look forward to serving you in 2009.
Teddy Linenfelser, Editor

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