Year 2000 on Grand Island, N.Y.
by William O'Connor
   The transition from 1999 to 2000 was celebrated festively and peacefully around the world, in spite of dire forecasts for computer-related disasters. Billions were spent to eradicate the "Millennium Bug," and millions of emergency personnel were on call or on the job for the new year. Grand Island Fire Company Squad Four was waiting in Fire Headquarters just in case.
   The Seneca Lawsuit still casts a shadow of doubt over property titles on Grand Island. The case will be settled by summary judgment from Federal Judge Richard Arcara sometime early next year. Earlier this year, it was revealed that a $90 million dollar settlement offer from the federal government was rejected by the Senecas and the State.
   Town inaugurations took place January 1, 2000 in Charlotte Sidway School when Peter A. McMahon was sworn in as town supervisor for a first ever 4-year term. Sybil Kennedy took office as the first female judge on Grand Island.
   New York State Assembly member Sam Hoyt announced on July 21 that the "public-private partnership" between the State and INNVest Services to build a 80-room inn to replace the Beaver Island Casino, had fallen through. In November, Governor Pataki and the NYS Park's Department announced a $3 million "seed money" proposal to build a banquet facility on the site using a matching $3 million from a private donor. There has been no word on whether a private partner has been found for the project, and the state has not set a date for construction.
   After years of research on the part of the Environmental Conservation Commission, Grand Island took the initiative to preserve open space late last year with a 209 acre open space purchase. The property, known as Scenic Woods, is located just east of the high school. In November, the purchase was the recipient of a Special Project Award from the NYS Association of Conservation Commissions. The GI Commission was praised highly for its volunteer efforts. The project was deemed to be the best in the state due to its scope and the effort that went into it.
   A preservation committee appointed by the town board, began in September 2000 to emphasize the need for historic preservation on the Island.

   January 2000 brought about a series of snow days for Island students. Kaegebein School was closed an additional day or two at the same time due to a pipe being severed just before the snow.
   Schools on Grand Island installed more efficient lighting and boilers this year which will save residents thousands, and cut back on pollution, and global warming. School enrollment is up slightly from last year.
   Schools were locked down when a day-long man hunt by police patrols on Grand Island took place March 2, 2000. A suspected kidnapper of 2 Buffalo women was allegedly on the Island.

   The dedication and first mass took place in the new St. Stephen's Church on February 27, 2000.
   School trustees in September 2000 approved the Grand Island Christian Academy on Grand Island Blvd.
   The 35th Grand Island High School graduation ceremonies took place Sunday, June 24, 2000 at the Niagara Falls Convention and Visitors Center.
   The annual road race, won again by Jim Dunlop, and the July 4th parade down Grand Island Blvd. were followed by the VFW's post parade party. The Classes of 1970 and 1980 held weekend reunions over the 4th.
   This September, Grand Island Families Town and Schools (GIFTS) Director Heather Maris announced that they received $145,000 in NYS grants for youth programs before and after school.
   The Golden Age Center received a large, new van to transport senior citizens.
Longtime Coach Gene Masters, nearing the end of his phenominal coaching career honored his many championship teams during halftime at the Vikings home games in the fall.

   Grand Island residents opened their hearts and wallets and rolled up their sleeves in the year 2,000, just as they do every year. On July 10, the "13th annual Keith's Classic Memorial Golf Tournament" at River Oaks raised more than $112,000 to fight cancer at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute. The 7th Annual Friends of Lynette Bike Rally, less than two weeks later, raised thousands more to benefit Roswell.
   The Knights of Columbus raised thousands for their causes with the "1st annual Open Mary Star of the Sea and Knights of Columbus golf tournament." The Lions Club and hundreds of other community-minded volunteers worked again this summer to benefit more than 900 children with special needs at the Lions Club Special Kids Picnic held at the Buffalo Launch Club. Quality Quest and the West River Home Owners Association worked to clean the shores of Grand Island.
   The Veterans Park Memorial Wall on Bedell Road was dedicated June 11, 2000.
   The Chamber of Commerce supported Grand Island's business community with its Island Treasures in the summer and Expo 2,000 this fall.
   Grand Island's newest civic organization the "Connections Program" is supporting collaborative efforts between various organizations to support youth through a mini-grant program. Grants winners were announced on December 5th.
   The East Park Garden Club celebrated 50 years of community service during their "50th Anniversary Golden Jubilee Tea" at River Lea in Beaver Island State Park, on September 9th. The club is the oldest of its kind on Grand Island. The club's contributions include weeding and planting at the DeGlopper Memorial on the intersection of Baseline Road and Grand Island Blvd.; memorial tree plantings which decorate our schools and other public buildings; and restoring and decorating the Blue Star Memorial Highway sign near the South Bridges.
    Late this fall, a dead Blue Jay found near Buckhorn State Park was tested positive for West Nile Virus by the NYS Health Department. The Department collected mosquitoes for testing and distributed larvacide tablets in standing water in a 1 mile radius. Further testing and (if necessary) action will likely continue this spring.
   Business was mixed on Grand Island last year. Occidental Chemical announced a several hundred million dollar expansion. They then decided to close a major part of their business, laying-off hundreds of workers, many from Grand Island. Fujisawa expanded its facility on Staley Road by building a 66,000 sq. ft. warehouse. Life Technologies (next door) was taken over by San Diego based Invitrogen in September and laid off 35 workers this month. The Grand Island Record stopped publishing this fall. Grand Island E-News began its on-line "newspaper" on October 28.
   On Grand Island Boulevard Doolies, Deuces Dogs, and the Showcase Restaurants went out of business. Jackson Music expanded to occupy the old TCBY location. Northeastern Leasing and Financing Corp. built a huge new office.
   Two new Small Animal Hospitals are working from brand-new buildings this year. One is on GI Boulevard near Long Rd., another is off Whitehaven Rd. near the Thruway.
   The new Tops Market opened to public Wednesday, June 14, 2000.
   Grand Island residents have held three meetings with government officials in recent months: two to stop crime and one to improve business. On Halloween night, four white Island teens allegedly attacked a black man in front of his home on Blackmon Rd., in what police describe as a hate crime. These meetings and events were extensively covered by Grand Island E-News and may be researched easily by reading back issues.
   The staff of Grand Island E-News wishes our readers a Happy New Year, and hopes to serve for many years to come.

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