Year 2001 on Grand Island, N.Y.
By Teddy Linenfelser
   The new year on Grand Island started off with seasonably snowy weather. With winter barely underway, three emergency school-closure days had already been used up as the Grand Island school district entered the year 2001. School board members unanimously approved revisions to the school calendar.

JANUARY

Controversy over the proposed Wilson Farms convenience store and gas station at the corner of Ransom and Stony Point roads continued to be headline news.

Official announcement of the closing of Moore Business Forms Inc. was made January 11, 2001. Approximately 128 employees lost their jobs.

The GI Chicks were among 650 teams from 35 states who played in the Sunny Delight 3v3 Soccer Tournament at the Wide World of Sports Park in Disney, Orlando, Florida over the weekend of January 13, 2001.

Robert Mesmer's Love Road air strip proposal remained on the town board's agenda.

Grand Island residents no longer needed to fear for their property due to the Seneca Nation Lawsuit. United States public servants gathered Monday, Jan. 22, 2001 at the Grand Island Town Hall to announce that the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) dropped the suit against Grand Island Landowners. Federal Court Judge Richard J. Arcara and the Senecas denied this.

FEBRUARY

The proposed Wilson Farms convenience store and gas station at the corner of Ransom and Stony Point roads was in the news.

Rezoning land on Alvin Road for the proposed Fuccillo Chevrolet auto dealership was brought before the town board.

Occidental Chemical Corp. announced the closing of remaining operations at its Grand Island technology center.

A Charlotte Sidway 1937-1963 Reunion Committee announced plans for a 2002 reunion to coincide with the Sesquicentennial celebration in 2002.

US Congressman John LaFalce held a town meeting Saturday, Feb. 10, 2001 in the Knights of Columbus Hall.

"The Wizard Of Oz" was produced on the Grand Island High School stage by a cast of the school's students.

St. Stephens Parish Players' first children's performance, "Alice In Wonderland," took place February 24-25 in St. Stephen School cafeteria.

GIECOM.net hosted a web-hosting seminar Monday, February 12 at the Village Inn.

Supervisor Peter A. McMahon met with about 20 Isle residents Tuesday, February 13 in town hall to discuss ways and means of developing a top notch celebration of the town's 150th birthday in July 2002.

Getty Gas Station/Ciffa's Automotive opened at Whitehaven Road and Grand Island Blvd.

The Forsythe House at 4834 East River Road, built sometime before 1866, was torn down.

The Grand Island Foundation was launched with good response to an announcement and request for funds.

MARCH

The Zonta Club of Grand Island held its annual Antique Show & Sale in the Knights of Columbus Hall.

Seneca Nation Lawsuit remained in the headlines.

The town board at its March 5 meeting, approved an agreement allowing CGI Community Banner Services of Rochester to solicit advertising for its product. The banners, attached to poles in the center of town, will advertise the Sesquicentennial and Island businesses.

Plans for a 7.5-8 million dollar, 75,000 square foot facility that would include a multi-purpose gymnasium, multi- purpose turf area, lap pool (for fitness and athletics), a splash pool or "SprayGround" for youth activity, walking/running track, locker rooms, a young adult social room/community meeting room, administrative offices, and a park maintenance area, were introduced to the Grand Island Town Board during its March 5 workshop meeting. The Recreation Department and an ad-hoc committee were commissioned by the board to study the community's needs for a facility to be built at Veterans' Park on Bedell Road.

Starline USA's Grand Island plant announced plans to add an additional 100 employees over the next three-year period, and invest about $4 million in the local plant.

The Grand Island Ministerium, working to fight racism, endorsed and signed the "Birmingham Pledge, a statement of personal commitment to eliminate racial prejudice from thought and action, and to treat all people with respect and dignity."

Dorothy Rowswell, longtime director of the Town of Grand Island's senior center, retired.

The Island Medical Center, formerly Health Care Plan at 2279 Grand Island Blvd. was close as of March 30, 2001.

APRIL

Casa D'Italia opened at 2800 Grand Island Boulevard. The Town Board voted 4 to 1 Monday, April 2, to let Erie County assume tax assessment responsibilities. The cost to the town would be $25,000 and the program was to be implemented on a one year, probationary basis.

Grand Island Chamber of Commerce honored the following at its April 5 Citizen of the Year Awards 2000 dinner at the Grand Island Holiday Inn: Business People of the Year, Betty and Leo Hopkins; Business Manager of the Year, Michele Harris; Community Service, Mary (Maisie) Dommell; Service to Youth, Dr. David W. Jayme; Senior Citizen, Ellen DeGowin; Education, Jane Stanley; and Art, Chie Doring.

Erie County Legislator Charles M. Swanick presented Quality Quest with the county's final $5000 installment for the Connections Program.

The skate park in Vets Park on Bedell Road, one the most popular recreational areas on Grand Island, was closed due to a lack of insurance.

Quality Quest Coalition held its Environmental Sabbath Celebration of Earth Day April 22, 2001 at the Riverside Salem United Church of Christ on West River Road. In addition to the service, a nature trail and butterfly garden were initiated.

It was announced that GI Kids Voting during the November 2000 election was #1 in the area.

MAY

The West River Homeowners Association's Spring Parkway Cleanup took place May 5 under chairmanship of WRHOA Director Jake Kreutz.

An infant was found dead in a duplex home adjacent to the Love Road Plaza. The baby's father was arrested.

GIV - Grand Island Volunteers - a group of Dedicated, Community Minded Grand Island High School Students was formed.

Several Grand Island school district groups earned gold medals in level V or VI at the New York State School Music Association competitions.

Voters approved the 2001-2002 school budget, the purchase of buses, and re-elected incumbents Myrna Blair and Jeri Schopp to three-year terms on the board of education.

The Chamber of Commerce held its annual Business/Community Exposition May 19 in the Bible Presbyterian Family Life Center.

Justice Eric Reimann announced he would not seek re-election in November due to his pending retirement.

JUNE

Family Dollar, a discount store, opened in the Grand Island Plaza.

A privately owned park designed for youth skateboarding activities was approved during the June 18 town board meeting. The park will be located directly south of Tops Supermarket on Grand Island Boulevard.

Grand Island Fire Company rescue units were called when a 14-year-old youth could not let himself out of a large, basement walk-in safe.

Winners in GIECOM.NET'S second "Grand Island Global Community Coloring Contest" were five-year-old Kevin Salonek and nine-year-old Michelle Botwin of Grand Island, and 12-year-old Anthony Hughes of Ashland City, TN.

Hydroplane Races took place on the Niagara River June 23 and June 24, 2001.

Members of the Class of 2001 received their high school diplomas in the Niagara Falls Convention Center Sunday, June 24. Satyugjit Virk, Peter Sabatowski and Kristin Ungaro ranked first, second and third academically.

Grand Island e-News will complete its Year in Review 2001
in the January 3, 2002 edition of the News.


JULY

The Supervisor's Committee for Economic Development announced plans for a Grand Island Business Assistance Center (a small business incubator) to be located near the Town Hall and to provide a good low-cost location for businesses.

Rob Hopkins was named the first place winner in the Sesquicentennial Logo Contest, open to Grand Island youth, ages 5-18 years old.

The Lions' Club staged its 43rd Handicap Picnic for the challenged young people of WNY July 18 at the Buffalo Launch Club.

AUGUST

Governor George E. Pataki announced on August 3, 2001 that the Justice Department had filed to drop the residences of Grand Island from the Seneca land-claim lawsuit.

Grand Island's Disabled American Veterans (DAV) made a financial donation to order and sell the first batch of sesquicentennial t-shirts in a bid to raise quick seed money for the sesquicentennial celebration set for Summer 2002.

Advertisements and patron ads in the Sesquicentennial Program Book were being accepted. The book is the major source of funding for Grand Island's 150th celebration.

Beth Dietrich, a 2000 graduate of Grand Island High School and currently studying in Australia, began sending the e-News her interesting day-to-day experiences about the land down under.

Grand Island residents, on Wednesday, August 15, 2001, participated in the United Way Day of Caring by sprucing up the Town Commons and the Nike Base.

Announcement was made that construction for the Marigold Housing for the Elderly Project was set to begin in September. The project, a three story, 38 rental-unit facility located on 3026 Grand Island Boulevard near Bedell, will provide low-income seniors with affordable housing on Grand Island.

SEPTEMBER

It was announced in the Grand Island e-News that Teddy's Islettes, 1961-1987 will reunite to form a marching unit for Grand Island's Sesquicentennial parade on July 4, 2002.

Local architect Frank Burkhart of Ransom Road was appointed to the Planning Board to fill the unexpired term of David E. Eberl who resigned in July, shortly before his death.

Prayer Vigils were held at several local churches on September 12, 2001, the day after the World Trade Center disaster, and between 1000 and 2000 people were in attendance at the Community Candlelight Vigil at the Town Commons Gazebo Sunday evening, September 16th.

A family pet perished when a 1968 38' Chris Craft yacht burned while moored in the Beaver Island State Park Marina and was considered a total loss.

A fire at Contractors Welding of WNY, Inc., on Baseline Road caused a total estimated damage of $100,000 structural, and $25,000 to the contents.

The Chamber of Commerce' Treasures festival on September 15 included kids taking part in KidBiz and lining the sidewalks along both sides of Whitehaven Road, closed to traffic between Baseline and the Boulevard.

The final service of the 44-year-old Emmanuel United Methodist Church on Baseline Road took place Sunday, September 9.

Forty-five volunteers donated their efforts to clean Grand Island's shores during the Great Lakes Beach Sweep portion of the International Coastal Cleanup.

Schools Superintendent Paul Fields reported on the districtís response to the September 11 tragedy. Elementary students were not informed; instead a letter was sent home explaining the districtís action. Teachers informed middle and high school students and a large-screen TV was set up in the high school, enabling students and staff to watch as time allowed. Students organized a prayer vigil at the high school flag and contributions in excess of $3000 have been collected for disaster relief.

Following a burlgary of $2000 at a Riverwoods Drive home, Erie County Sheriff's Deputies in a City of Tonawanda police boat, captured the burglary suspect as he attempted to escape by swimming to Tonawanda.

Two Grand Island teenagers who pleaded guilty to beating and racially taunting a black man on Halloween 2000 on Grand Island were sentenced to probation and community service on the city's East Side.

Univera Healthcare closed the Grand Island Blvd. medical facility, effective September 28, 2001, and consolidated the staff of nine at its Amherst facility.

OCTOBER

The Town Board, October 1, 2001 named the following residents to its newly formed Ethics Committee: Kimberly Glessner, Michael Rossi, Chris Learman, Frank Kedzielawa and Dennis Badame.

Citing economic uncertainty and anticipated reductions of the townís share of county sales tax, mortgage tax and/or supplemental state aid for the fourth quarter, the Town Board, October 1, 2001 voted unanimously to freeze spending for the balance of the current year.

Joelle Logue, former editor of the Island Dispatch and the Grand Island Record, joined the staff at Isledegrande.com to cover town board news, town elections and contribute unbiased interviews with town officials and others.

The Grand Island Fire Company held its annual inspection on Saturday, October 6, 2001 when approximately 60 members of the Company stood for the formal inspection.

Legendary Coach Gene Masters, 70, passed away on Monday, October 8, 2001 while attending 7:30 a.m. mass at St. Stephens Church.

The Octoberfest at the Golden Age Center on October 12 brought out the best in the many senior citizens who took part in the festivities.

The Grand Island Fire Company, as part of its celebration of National Fire Prevention Week, held a successful open house under sunny skies.

The town board voted to restrict parking in the vicinity of the Grand Island High School.

Students in all Grand Island schools joined students across the country in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag at 2 p.m. on October 12, 2001.

Glenn Martin was the first place winner in the VFW Chili Cook Off. The event raised $2000 for the "Make a Wish Foundation."

The new game, "Guess What" and Win by Mandy Malaney was well received by Isledegrande.com readers.

State lawmakers heard from numerous residents complaining about inadequate police presence at the state parks. The Border Patrol has been attempting to keep 24-hour watch of the area, seven days a week, since September 11. Enhanced patrols have included the areas near Grand Island's West River Road area and around Beaver Island State Park.

Over 2000 daffodil bulbs were planted Saturday, October 20, 2001 by Rotary Club members, Girl Scouts of Grand Island and residents.

The Varsity Vikings Football Team, dedicating the 2001 season to the memory of Coach Gene Masters, shut out Lake Shore 13-0 at the homecoming game where it was announced that Ryan Homa and Michelle Cammarano were chosen as this year's Homecoming King and Queen.

Heavy rainfall and peak wind gusts exceeding sixty mph, caused power outages and related hazardous conditions during a ten-hour period October 25, 2001 when firefighters handled fifteen emergency calls throughout the storm, fourteen of which involved wires down.

Riverside-Salem UCC, in cooperation with the Town of Grand Island and Quality Quest Coalition, created an environmental sanctuary and preserve on the lands that connect the church and the town at 3449 West River Road.

A total of 372 Scuba Ducks were purchased to support future Sesquicentennial activities, and were released in the East Niagara River October 27, 2001 for the race to the Holiday Inn. A long list of winners were awarded prizes.

Grand Island's grand total collected for UNICEF was a recordbreaking $4,079.12."

NOVEMBER

Grand Island played Mercy in the regional soccer game, a first for a Grand Island girls soccer team. The score was in Mercy's favor 2-0. Both teams were undefeated 22-0 for the season.

The September 11 tragedy provided the impetus for Carol Horrigan, Huth Road School music teacher, to organize a program that would provide a way for youngsters to participate in expressions of patriotism. Music filled the crowded high school auditorium November 6, 2001 as five different choruses presented "Voices of Freedom," a concert of patriotic music.

On Election Day 2001, Mary Cooke was elected to a third four-year term on the town board. Republican running mate and newcomer Dan Robillard earned the second seat beating out incumbent Democrat Michael Heftka. Highway Superintendent Ray Dlugokinski beat out his Democratic opponent Ken Carter to earn himself a second term. The only Democratic victory was Randy White who won over Republican Timothy Mordaunt for town justice.

Grand Island was once again ranked No. 1 in Kids Voting in Western New York.

The Buffalo News (and Isledegrande.com!) presented an update on Grand Island's Mike Schopp, well-known sportscaster. "In just a year talking about Johnson or Flutie and Biron or Hasek, Schopp has developed into the most thoughtful, logical, entertaining and, yes, interesting sports talk host on the air. The 1989 graduate of Grand Island High School already has attracted the attention of stations in bigger markets, as well as ESPN Radio."

Grand Island Sesquicentennial 2001 key chains, hats and t-shirts were made available to the public by GIECOM.net, sponsor of Isledegrande.com's e-News and largest promoter of the town's upcoming Sesquicentennial celebration.

The Grand Island Vikings ended their season at Masters Field with a loss to Iroquois, 14-3, in a Class A semifinal game. Grand Island won the Class A North division and finished 7-2 overall.

The Charles N. DeGlopper Veterans of Foreign Wars #9249 Color Guard provided the gun salute, and Taps was played by Grand Island High School students Adam Fetzer and Chris Goelz during Veterans Day ceremonies.

The town board, November 19, 2001, adopted its 2002 budget that will increase property taxes by almost five percent and voted 3-2 to eliminate a full time clerk position in the Town Clerk's office.

Student members of the Grand Island High School's National Honor Society joined other schools in their own day of caring November 23, 2001 when they volunteered at the St. Vincent De Paul Society soup kitchen.

Briana Setzer won the Top Cheerleader award out of nearly 200 cheerleaders in her division in competition November 30-December 1, 2001 in Ontario, Canada. Cheerleading teams, sponsored by Grand Island's Jr. Vikings Football organization, participated in the Festival of Lights contest and took several first place awards.

DECEMBER

Historic Trinity sponsored a Holiday House Tour of some of Grand Island's unique homes on December 1, 2001.

The closing of all Odds' N' Ends stores, including the Grand Island Blvd. plaza store, was announced.

Fire completely destroyed the home of the Mitch Stessing family, 5177 East River Road on Monday, December 3, 2001.

The Grand Island Historical Society presented holiday luncheons during the first week of December.

Pearl Harbor was remembered by veterans and Isle residents at services on December 7, 2001 at the Charles N. DeGlopper VFW Post #9249.

Fire Company members elected at their December meeting include Fire Chief Skip Mrkall (his third term), Deputy Chief Greg Butcher, 1st Assistant Chief Kevin Koch, 2nd Assistant Chief Matt Osinski, Captains George Wenner, Chris Soluri, Sean Manning, EMS Captain Bob Cleveland, and Fire Police Captain Chuck Berlinger.

The Historical Society presented "Sounds of the Season" Open Houses at River Lea in Beaver Island Park Sunday, December 2, 2001 and Sunday, December 9.

Announcement was made that the state is getting ready to rebuild the Beaver Island State Park casino. According to officials, construction of what is expected to be a $4 million building could begin in 2002, with at least parts of the project completed by the end of next year.

Santa greeted youngsters in the town hall where they enjoyed hot chocolate and cookies and took home activity packets.

The season's first snow fall on Friday evening, December 14, 2001 was welcomed by kids of all ages.

Elderwood Healthcare at Riverwood became the newest sponsor for Isledegrande.com.

A ribbon cutting on December 14, 2001, officially opening the new $50,000 Buckhorn Park-Eagle Overlook improvements project.

Through the efforts of Court Clerk Maria Burns, the unveiling of a plaque and several framed photos of Town of Grand Island judges dating back to 1853 took place Monday morning December 17, 2001 in the upper foyer in town hall.

Supervisor Peter A. McMahon, who spearheaded Grand Island's "adoption" of Engine 280 and Ladder 132 of Brooklyn, two of the busiest firefighting companies in New York City that suffered the loss of seven firefighters September 11, personally delivered Grand Island's donation of $3,312 on December 17, 2001.

A record-breaking amount of food, gift and toy items collected by students and Isle residents and monetary donations made it possible for the Neighbors Foundation of Grand Island to help fifty-four needy families with holiday groceries and gifts.

A recordbreaking amount of snow began falling on Christmas Eve, so much so that attendance at some church services was much less than other years. Christmas Day was mild but by Thursday, December 27th a full-blown lake-effect storm left an estimated three feet or more. Grand Island's roads were kept clear and though shovelers and snowplowers were kept constantly busy, we lucked out in comparison to the City of Buffalo and other Western New York towns where the measurement is 82 inches of snow in five days.

Thanks to everyone who contributed news and pictures to Isledegrande.com's e-News this year, especially Lee Cohen, William O'Connor, Barbi Lare, Joelle Logue, Ray Pauley, Ruth Stahl, Fred Claus, Beth Dietrich, and Ted Kumlander.


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