Year 2002 on Grand Island, N.Y.
By Teddy Linenfelser


Newly elected town officials Councilman Daniel F. Robillard and Town Justice Randall D. White were installed in Sidway School on New Year's Day.

Supervisor Peter A. McMahon installed the Grand Island Golden Age Club's new officers for 2002: President Henry Carroll, Vice President Ellen McDougal, Treasurer Rose Kij, Secretary Gloria Diringer and Sgt-at-Arms Bob Eldredge.

The Grand Island e-News announced the winner of its Sesquicentennial First Baby Contest as Alexandria Francesca Anderson, born January 8th, 2002 at 8:37 a.m. to Tim & Patty Anderson of Spicer Creek Run.

A large screen television was installed at the Grand Island Golden Age Center, thanks to town and county funds.

Ruth Stahl's "Treasures" article featured middle school teacher Sue Fleming-Brusino who was part of a team that put together a four-day workshop designed to orient and assist new teachers in preparing for their first year of teaching in the district. The story covers some very interesting Island schools history.

As part of the town board's reorganization meeting January 7, 2002, resolutions were passed establishing methods for assessment in consolidated sewer districts, consolidated water district and town lighting districts.

The Erie County Sheriff's Substation, Grand Island Police Dept., Grand Island Animal Control Officer and Erie County Legislator Charles M. Swanick moved to new quarters at 1858 Whitehaven Road.

Sue Dobmeier, outgoing Commodore of the Niagara Sailing Club, was inducted into the Order of The Blue Gavel on January 1, 2002. New officers include Commodore Tom Owen, Vice Commodore Paul Donahue, Rear Commodore Bruce Kaiser and Fleet Captain Jeff Cooke.

New Grand Island Fire Company Ladies Auxiliary officers installed for 2002 were President Nicole Butcher, Treasurer Lisa Mrkall and Recording Secretary Sue Braun.

The Grand Island Chamber of Commerce made available its 2002 Official Sesquicentennial Telephone Directory free of charge.

A 25th Reunion of GIHS Class of 1977 at River Oaks Golf Club on Friday, July 5th was announced.

During their first snowmobile safety patrols of the year (Jan. 4, 2002), State Park Police issued warnings to 14 snowmobilers who were operating their vehicles illegally on the South State and West River parkways on Grand Island.

"Island Memories" appeared for the first time in the January 17th edition of the e-News and featured Mike Stefik, a resident of Grand Island from 1948-1958 and a photo of the old Clown House restaurant.

A "structure fire" at the E. Szywala residence on Riverdale Drive was reported to the Fire Company shortly before 6 p.m. Sunday, January 13, 2002. Total damage was estimated at $60,000 to the building and contents.

Debbie Kennedy-Rogoza, attorney for the Fire Company, installed the officers for 2002 including President Mike Dallessandro, Treasurer Peter Coppola, Asst. Treasurer Steven Morgan, Directors Bill Wilson and Robert Meyer, Line Secretary David Cole, Financial Secretary Larry Hagerman, and Sgt. at Arms Dan Cole.

Longtime Island music teacher Kenvin R. Moreau died on January 17, 2002.

Local businesses Fuccillo Chevrolet, Contractors Welding of WNY and Gibco/Invitrogen came forward in January 2002 with substantial donations and sponsorships for Sesquicentennial events planned for the summer in celebration of Grand Island's becoming a township in 1852.

Members of the West River Homeowners Association elected directors James Tomkins, Dr. Sharon Watkinson, Frank Greco and Floyd Doring to their 12-member board. Sue Farley of First Street is president of the 164-member organization.


Life long Grand Island resident Richard W. McNamee passed away February 3, 2002.

Travis Hennigar, 19, lost his life in a tragic accident Sunday, February 10, 2002 when the vehicle he was driving entered the Niagara River, off the foot of Bedell Road.

It was announced that Lenten Luncheons, sponsored annually by the Grand Island Ministerium, would be held at Whitehaven Road Baptist Church, with food and program provided by a different church each week.

The Grand Island Central School District offered information on a sex offender to residents of Grand Island.

Two young women and a girl, dressed in costumes from a horror film, burst into a Cathy & Jim's Del & Herb's restaurant early Saturday, February 9, 2002 in a bizarre robbery attempt.

It was announced that through the efforts of Erie County Legislator Charles M. Swanick, the American Legion Band of the Tonawandas would present a concert in July 2002 as part of the Sesquicentennial celebration.

The GIHS Junior Varsity Hockey team finished the season in 1st place with a league record of 14-1-1.

A Grand Island resident finished his 'drive through' transaction at HSBC Bank, lost control of his vehicle, and sped into a brick wall of an adjoining apartment complex at 2015 Town Hall Terrace.

Generous donations from Grand Island firefighters and the community were forwarded to Brooklyn Ladder Company #132 and Engine Company #280, by Town Supervisor and Grand Island Firefighter Peter McMahon. The contributions would go to the families of firemen of Ladder Company #132 who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.


Diver Ian O'Rourke, 12, took 6th place in the State swimming competition in a field of 37.

St. Stephen’s Junior Varsity Girls Basketball Team finished as regular season champs in the Niagara Parochial League with an 8-1 record.

The 32nd annual Zonta Club Antique Show and Sale was held for the first time in the Buffalo Launch Club.

Supervisor Peter A. McMahon attended a meeting in a White House office March 1, 2002 where discussions on a national strategy for preparedness were being held.

Tyrone Trinidad, 35, received a prison term of 22 1/2 years to life in the beating death of his 19-day-old infant daughter, Christine Rosemary on May 7, 2002.

The Town Recreation Department's Friday Night Open Gym program, held in the Kaegebein School gym, was extended through June 14, 2002 through the courtesy of the Connections Program.

Cole W. Aydelotte, 16, lost his life in a tragic accident in March 2002.

Ruth Stahl's "Treasures" article featured Sandy Beach: How It Was.

Adrian's was opened by new owner Kevin Lipp who added a custard machine to his business.

For the second time this year vandalizing has taken place at the playground behind Kagebein Elementary School when an estimated $2,000 damage was done to playground equipment the weekend of March 30-31, 2002.


Former principal and chief school officer for Grand Island schools Veronica E. Connor died April 10, 2002 at the age of 91.

Members of the River Lea Quilters Guild presented their Sesquicentennial event, "Quilts in Bloom II" on April 19-21, 2002 in Historic Trinity Church.

Grand Island School District Trustees accepted Dr. Paul Fields's letter of resignation "with deep regret."

Grand Island School District Trustees approved a $35,991,736 spending plan for 2002-3.

Announced was made of the publishing of PIANO PEOPLE - Upright Grand - Downright Nuts, by Grand Island's own Don Burns.

Grand Island Transportation Department school bus drivers gathered at the bus garage for another one of their fun luncheons, this time reliving the days of the USO Show during World War II and all under the direction of MaryLou Lunsford.

The Parish Players youth production of Tom Sawyer was staged April 26-28, 2002 in St. Stephen School cafeteria.


The Sesquicentennial Program Book, which includes a long list of Sesqui Events, the history of the Town, photos of then and now, and advertisements of congratulations went on sale the first of May.

Former Town Historian Kathryn Sheehan, 96, published her thesis and offered the book, Grand Island Facts and Folk Lore, to the public.

The Grand Island High School Girls Track Team won the team title for the second straight year at the 13th annual Wildcat Relays. Grand Island set a new mark in the 4x200 and tied the record in the 4x100.

Voters passed the Grand Island School District 2002-3 budget and elected Lee Cohen and encumbent Sue Gill to the board.

Former West Seneca school chief Vincent J. Coppola was appointed both temporary superintendent and consultant in the new-superintendent search by Grand Island school trustees.

The Grand Island Historical Society presented one of its Sesquicentennial events, an elegant Victorian Afternoon Tea and Fashion Show at River Lea on Sunday, May 19, 2002.

Grand Island's Nick Bergman, a freshman on the St. John Fisher baseball team, was named the Empire 8 Conference's Rookie Of The Year.

Buffalo Launch Club members held their traditional flag raising ceremony and officially opened the new boat basin which doubled the capacity of the previous facility.

The original School House #5, formerly located on Bush Road at Baseline Road, was renovated back to its one-room school mode, courtesy of Mike Kelly of Kelly's Country Store.

The Grand Island JV lacrosse team finished up its most successful season ever, compiling a 17 - 1 record and a 9 - 0 league record, making them the Western New York Division champs for the 6th year in a row.

Memorial Day Services at Charles N. DeGlopper Park were well attended by an estimated 300+ residents, including Gold Star Mother Shirley Luther, whose only son Robert B. Luther, was killed in Viet Nam.

The Town of Grand Island posted its new web site, complete with pictures and all necessary information from all departments of the town.

The West River Homeowners tree planting project was successfully completed Saturday, May 25, 2002.

Christine Carr (of Village Inn), with her mother, Maggie Smith and sister, Sarah Mallare, opened the Bedell House Hot Dog Stand May 31, 2002 and served up all the old favorites down at the river during the summer of 2002.


James Frantz III, 18, fulfilled requirements for Eagle Scout and was recognized at the Eagle Ceremony June 1, 2002 in Trinity United Methodist Church.

An estimated 500+ friends attended the June 2, 2002 benefit for former resident Diane Tetkowski Miller Pokorski, stricken with sickness in August 2001, leaving Diane in a tragic state of health.

Under the direction of Marty Allen, the GIHS Concert Band and Wind Ensemble earned numerous standing ovations at the June 5, 2002 concert. Outstanding individual performances were performed by Elizabeth Masse, Adam Fetzer, Chris Goelz, Joe Martino, Andrew Boron, Sally Head, and Doug Ingraham.

Veterans of Foreign Wars, Pfc. Charles N. DeGlopper Memorial Post #9249 presented a military display of WWII memorabilia in Historic Trinity Chapel June 7-9, 2002 as part of the town's sesquicentennial events.

Jim Dunlop resigned from running.

Between 75 and 100 residents turned out June 8, 2002 to assist in planting memorial trees at Veterans Park.

The Town of Grand Island's 2nd annual Sesquicentennial Scuba Duck race on June 8, 2002 was a huge success.

The dedication of a new headstone, recognizing the fact that Charles N. DeGlopper was awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor after his death, took place under in Maple Grove Cemetery on June 9, 2002.

Webb Road residents attending the Tuesday, June 11, 2002 public hearing in Huth Road School protested the proposed changes to the zoning code which, they said, would drastically change the rural character of the Webb Road area.

As a tribute to the Sesquicentennial celebration, Kaegebein Elementary School students of Mrs. LaVere's third grade and Mrs. Sandusky's second grade produced the play "Our Island Home." The play of Island history was originally written by longtime Island music teacher Marge Egan.

Judge Richard Arcara dismissed the Class Action Law Suit filed by the Seneca Indian Nation who claim the sale of Grand Island and six other islands to New York State is invalid due to a failure of the United States Congress to ratify the sale.

The new Grinder's Skate Park on Grand Island Boulevard opened for business.

St. Stephen's Church yard was end to end with carnival rides, food booths, games, a dunk tank, and scheduled musical events the weekend of June 28-30, 2002 as the parishioners presented "Bring Back The Memories Of Neighbor Days" as their contribution to the Sesquicentennial celebration.

The Sesquicentennial Craft Show, chaired by Robin Swedish and Kathy Smith on June 29-30, 2002 at the Town Commons was a huge success and will be repeated in 2003.

An art show was held in the town hall June 29-30, 2002 as part of the Sesquicentennial celebration and sponsored by the Grand Island Art Society.

Local members of the League Of Women Voters were located at the Town Commons June 29-30 to allow attendees of the Sesquicentennial Craft Show to stop by and register to vote.

A 30-year-old Buffalo resident lost his life in the Niagara River while swimming near his anchored boat Sunday, June 30, 2002.

Grand Island High School Commencement was held on Sunday, June 30, 2002 at the Niagara Falls Convention Center.


Town Supervisor Peter McMahon declared Marion Young Day on Grand Island, recognizing the Island native on her 95th birthday. Mrs. Young, a decendant of the Joachim Long family, was a former teacher in, not only Sidway and Kaegebein schools, but also Grand Island's one-room schools.

Judges Rev. Earle King, Councilman Mary Cooke and Recreation Director Linda Tufillaro proclaimed the following as official Sesquicentennial Beard Growing Contest winners Tuesday, July 1, 2002: Salt N Pepper - George Rowe; Best Goatee - Don Tranter; 2nd Best Goatee - Granson Geis; Fullest - Joe "Luke" Lukasiewicz; Best Sideburns - Peter Kuszczak; Whitest Sideburns - Jack Burns.

The largest parade in memory took place July 4, 2002 on Grand Island Blvd. in honor of Independence Day and the Sesquicentennial year.

Thirty-one former members of Teddy's Islettes (1961-1987) made their baton twirling reunion appearance in the July 4th parade.

The third major Charlotte Sidway School reunion, classes 1937-1963, was held at the VFW Post 9249 on July 6, 2002 with over 450 attending.

A marker to officially commemorate the generous donation of property to the Town of Grand Island by the Jerome Funk family was dedicated on Sunday, July 7, 2002 at a ceremony in the Veterans Park.

A Remote Airplane Show on Sunday, July 7, 2002 was part of the Sesqui events.

Francine and Joe McMahon and family opened McMahon's Family Restaurant Monday, July 8, 2002 in the building formerly known as the Islander on Grand Island Blvd.

Senseless vandalism of several buildings on Grand Island took place during the night of Monday, July 15, 2002.

Members of the Lions Club with assistance from some of the Island's organizations and Scout troops, held their 44th annual Special Kids Picnic at the Buffalo Launch Club on Wednesday, July 17, 2002.

The Class of '92 Reunion held its 10-year reunion on July 19-20 with a Friday Night Beer Blast at VFW and dinner the next day at River Oaks.

The Sheriff's Department announced the arrests Wednesday, July 24, 2002 of six teenagers, all Niagara Falls residents, in the rash of recent car break-ins on Grand Island.

Brock Yates, editor at large and featured columnist for "Car and Driver" magazine, was the guest speaker Saturday, July 27, 2002 at a banquet in the Holiday Inn for all participants of the Sesquicentennial automotive events.

The Seneca Nation of Indians filed a formal notice that it planned to appeal a federal judge's ruling against it in the Grand Island land claim case.

Many other Sesquicentennial events took place during July.

Grant monies secured through the Grand Island Connections board from an Erie County Youth Board, have enabled the GIFTS Program to offer a free environmental learning workshop instructed by Grand Island High School teacher Rose Krauss.


A Steak Roast with Town Supervisor Peter McMahon, sponsored by Friends of McMahon, was held Friday, August 2, 2002 at the VFW Post 9249.

An incubator project, formerly planned for town leased property on Whitehaven Road and advocated by the Supervisor's Economic Development Committee, was replaced with a new proposal, described to town board members during the August 5, 2002 workshop session.

Grand Island Fire Company Paramedics encountered six separate incidents of allergic reactions, resulting from insect bites or other causes during an eight-day period from July 26-August 2, 2002.

Gov. George E. Pataki, on Monday, August 12, 2002, announced a federal grant of $481,135 for the Town of Grand Island's bike and pedestrian path.

Erie County public health officials said mosquitoes infected with the West Nile virus were found in a trap in Buckhorn Island State Park.

A new, up-to-date map of Grand Island with an easy-to-read key to street locations was made available throughout the town, compliments of the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce.

The Sesquicentennial Tractor Pull the weekend of August 17-18, 2002 attracted all sizes, designs and capabilities of tractors.

The town board, on August 19,2002, approved the plan for Robert Mesmer's airstrip at 2548 Love Road in a 4-1 vote.

New York Governor George Pataki announced a $150,000 Grant to the Town of Grand Island for Enhancements to Veterans Park.

Mary E. Haggerty, Huth Road’s new principal/administrator, began her duties here on August 22nd.

Two men were arrested on felony cocaine possession charges Tuesday (Aug. 22, 2002) afternoon after a car chase on Grand Island that reportedly reached speeds of 100 mph.

State Parks Police said a Grand Island boater was charged with reckless operation Tuesday evening (August 27, 2002) after cruising almost to Goat Island in restricted waters.

Through the efforts of the Connections Program, a "Connections Town Commons Sign" was put in place Wednesday morning, August 28, 2002 on the north west corner of Whitehaven Road and the Boulevard.


Members of the Grand Island Ministerium offered a Service of Prayer and Remembrance at Trinity United Methodist Church, 2100 Whitehaven Road on Wednesday, September 11, 2002, marking the first anniversary of the hijacking of four passenger jets which were crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in southwestern Pennsylvania. The VFW Post #9249 also led a candlelight service at the post.

Interim Superintendent of Schools Dr. Vincent Coppola reported that enrollment was down by approximately 40 students, but Connor Middle School gained about 35 students.

Quality Quest members organized the National Beach Sweep Saturday, September 21, 2002 on the shoreline of Grand Island.

Erie County Legislator Charles M. Swanick presented a $6,000 county grant to purchase equipment for the Grand Island Junior Football league.

The Sesquicentennial Grand Ball Committee, headed by Kathleen Graves, was held Saturday, September 28, 2002 at the Grand Island Holiday Inn Resort and Conference Center. This spectacular evening was truly the "Ball of the Century."

Proposed locations for the construction of a new Peace Bridge were announced as over the southern tip of Grand Island, just south of Grand Island, Niagara Falls, the International Railroad Bridge, the site of the current Peace Bridge, or across Lake Erie (the ice boom location).

A good crowd turned out to walk from Beaver Island to Kaegebein School and back on Sunday, September 29, 2002 to raise funds for the Crop Walk.

The Grand Island School District Board of Education on September 30, 2002 announced the appointment of Dr. Thomas Ramming as Superintendent of Schools effective November 25, 2002.

The proceeds ($1738.59) of the July 6, 2002 Sidway School reunion, Classes 1937-63, were donated to the GITA/Veronica E. Connor Scholarship fund.


Fuccillo Chevrolet began its month-long grand opening festivities last weekend (Oct. 4-6, 2002) at its new state-of-the art facility at 2000 Alvin Road.

Grand Island's newest eatery, The Town Cafe, was opened Wednesday, October 16, 2002 in the former Holiday Showcase Restaurant by the Alessi family of Harvey Road.

Assemblymember Sam Hoyt presented the Town of Grand Island with $50,000 in state grant money for improvements to Veteran's Park.

Erie County Legislator Chuck Swanick provided 700 daffodil bulbs for planting in public locations.

The immediate need for a whole liver transplant for baby Jadon Russell Garman was brought to the attention of the community and fundraising plans for the family began.

The Grand Island Historical Society, in cooperation with the Historic Trinity Committee, presented "History In Fashions" in celebration of Grand Island's 150th birthday.

Grand Island's big birthday party in honor of our town's 150th birthday came to a close and the frosting on the cake could very well have been the historic pageant staged October 19-20, 2002 in the Huth Road School auditorium.

A Town Proclamation was read at the Monday, October 21, 2002 town board meeting honoring Larry Playfair for being named to the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.

Tragedy struck the Island for a fourth time in 2002 when Julie Oursler, 28, of Baseline Road was killed in an accident Sunday, October 27, 2002 when struck by a pickup truck and struck again by a police car.

The United States #1 High Point championships were won by the three Island residents - Greg Barker, Ken Brodie II and Bob Catopovic.

Brad Namaste and Marcella Ford were named king and queen of the Grand Island High School Homecoming 2002.

Plans to build a Wilson Farms store and gas station at Stony Point and Ransom roads were dropped by Tops Markets, LLC.

The polling place for voters in districts 6, 7, 9 and 10 who previously voted at Kaegebein School was changed to the Bible Presbyterian Church Family Life Center, 1650 Love Road.


This year's Grand Island Halloween Trick or Treat For UNICEF total was $2,837.88.

The Chamber of Commerce held its Community Trade Show Sunday, November 3, 2002 in the Holiday Inn.

Members of the Riverside Salem United Church of Christ on West River Road dedicated a newly constructed Labyrinth on Sunday, November 3, 2002.

The Town Board on November 4, 2002 passed a resolution to have all expenditures over $500 submitted to the supervisor for approval. The action was prompted by uncertainty over an inflated pension fund that the town is facing in 2003, an estimated increase of $250,000 over this year.

Grand Island's girls soccer team won the VI Class A Soccer Championship by beating Kenmore West November 5, 2002.

The Grand Island Varsity Vikings Football Team made it to the Section VI Championship, playing and losing to Sweet Home at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Saturday, November 9, 2002.

A contractor digging a trench for new sewer pipes on Tuesday, November 19, 2002 accidently ruptured a four-inch gas supply line at Grand Island Blvd. and Whitehaven Road.

The Grand Island High School Girls Soccer Team left the Island Saturday, November 16, 2002 with State Police and Sheriff's Department escort and sirens, followed by cars and honking horns as they proceeded to the Section III State semi finals. The Grand Island Girls lost to South Side of Long Island's Nassau County (Section VIII) at Honeoye Falls-Lima.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was produced by the Grand Island High School Spotlighters, November 22-23, 2002.

Peace Bridge proposals continued to make news in November.

Grand Island Fire Company EMT Peter McMahon saved the life of an 18-month-old child on Thanksgiving day.


As part of the Christmas Holiday festivities - "150 Years of Christmas" - at River Lea in Beaver Island State Park, members of the Historical Society held two open houses, three holiday luncheons and a quilt raffle.

The Grand Island Sesquicentennial celebration committee's wrap-up meeting Tuesday, December 10, 2002 in the Grand Island Memorial Library community room was standing room only as Chairman Michael Schneider presented plaques of appreciation to over 70 individuals who worked to make the year a success.

Kaegebein Elementary School third grade teacher Kathy Andress was named Teacher of the Year by the Wal-Mart Stores.

Greg Butcher was elected to the post of chief of the Grand Island Fire Company.

Pearl Harbor Day was recognized and celebrated by members of the Charles N. DeGlopper Memorial VFW Post #9249.

Bob and Scarlet Garman were most appreciative for all of the help and support of friends and the community during the December 14, 2002 fundraising events held for their baby boy, Jadon Russell Garman, who is in need of a whole liver transplant.

Hunters were arrested for shooting whitetail deer in Buckhorn State Park.

The Neighbors Foundation of Grand Island distributed food, toys and gifts to 53 Island families in distress.

The Town Recreation Department provided activities and Santa Claus at Tops Market on Saturday, December 14, 2002.

Chris Rose and his 4th grade friends raised over $250 for the Neighbors Foundation.

Sidway School first grader Brock Tetreault led his classmates in the collection of teddy bears which were distributed to the residents Elderwood Health Care Center at Riverwood during the holiday season.

The last of the town's Sesquicentennial events is the burying of the time capsule on the morning of December 31st at the the town hall.

Thanks to everyone who contributed news and pictures to's e-News this year, especially Lee Cohen, Barbi Lare, Joelle Logue, Ray Pauley, Ruth Stahl, Fred Claus, Donna M. Webb and Mark W. Webb.