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For the second winter in a row, the area’s best bands are coming to Grand Island! Starting in January and continuing through the season, a different band and themed event will be featured each month. An unforgettable 80’s Bash with Nerds Gone Wild will be on Friday, January 22nd, Country Night with WNY’s best country band 90 West is on Saturday, February 27th and a St. Patrick’s Day Party with Strictly Hip is set for Saturday, March 19th. It’s all happening at the beautiful venue of Ellden’s at River Oaks located at 201 Whitehaven Rd. This event is open to the public and tickets may be purchased at the door or in advance by visiting River Oaks or calling 716 341 1040. Table reservations are available. Don’t miss these wonderful concert events happening at Ellden’s at River Oaks this winter!

New York State Senator Marc Panepinto recently announced the 2015 Regional Economic Development Council Awards (REDC) for the 60th State Senate District.

“Through this latest round of Regional Economic Development Council Awards, Governor Cuomo has once again demonstrated his steadfast dedication to the people of Western New York. The distribution of $83.9 million to these deserving projects is not only indicative of their strength but of the faith our state government holds in our community. I am proud to serve as the representative and advocate for 19 of these outstanding awardees and look forward to continuing to work on their behalf.”

The 19 projects were funded for a total of $11,242,732. Grand Island will receive $197,634 for Phase 1 and Phase 1A of the Scenic Woods Bicentennial Park, located off of Ransom Road and Sturbridge Lane. Phase 1 consists of Sturbridge Lane parking, trailhead, buffer plantings, mitigation area trail loop, one watch tower and 3 rest intervals. Phase 1A consists of Gun Creek trail loop, two rest intervals and one creek crossing. See phasing map. There is not a scheduled date for the work to begin. Special musical guests will be Dan, Rick and Frankie from the Blarney Bunch. for a large basket raffle. There will be a collection of canned goods for the Grand Island Neighbors Foundation and St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy during the show. See flyer

Call it “A Tale of Two Budgets.” On the one hand, there is the Federal Budget. Hardly a week goes by when there isn’t someone threatening to shut down the government if they do not get everything they want. This sort of brinksmanship has led to several government shutdowns over the years and even entire years without a federal budget.

Then there is Erie County and the recent adoption of our 2016 budget. Our process presents quite a contrast to what happens in Washington. After receiving the county executive’s proposed budget in October, I joined my colleagues on the Legislature in proposing a number of amendments. These changes included a number of job cuts to pay for increased funding for Erie Community College and a modest property tax cut. Rather than trying to force the cuts on the executive, we entered into negotiations with him. We basically said, “We want to increase funding to ECC and cut property taxes and here is how we plan to get the money to accomplish our objectives.” We then invited him to suggest alternative cuts that would retain some of the jobs while still freeing up the money for ECC and the tax cut. He was able to do so and we accepted his suggestions. The process was both collegial and professional. In short, it was about as different from DC as you can get.

Most important, the resulting budget was something that will benefit all citizens of Erie County. It certainly will comfort the county’s property taxpayers, as we delivered a second tax cut in two years. It also provided for slight increases in funding for libraries and cultural institutions, what the county executive likes to call “the People’s Mandates.” But it also provided a half million dollars more for ECC, which I like to refer to as “the People’s College.” This money will aid the college in its twin missions of providing a quality college education to students who might otherwise be unable to afford one and training the workforce of tomorrow. This is extremely important, as education is one of the surest pathways out of poverty and we have more than our share of poor in Erie County. We are making strides, though, in turning this around and this budget certainly bolsters our efforts.

All in all, the 2016 Erie County Budget process has confirmed my contention that by working together we can make Erie County an even nicer place to live, work and raise a family. If you have thoughts you would like to share, I would love to hear from you. There will be many beautiful wreaths, decorated trees and baskets, some with lights, and tree ornaments, all made by local crafts people. New this year is a table of handmade wooden crafts, by a young Island man starting a woodworking business. Three rooms are filled with items to help make your gift giving and home decorating easy and fun. Prices are $20 or less, call 773 4439.

Grand Island’s official holiday tree, a Blue Spruce at the Town Commons.

Grand Island’s Christmas tree was hoisted upright on Tuesday, November 17th, on a balmy afternoon at the Town Commons. The tree was donated by Kevin and Cindy Hagen from their residence on East River Road and is estimated to be 30 feet. LDC Construction kindly delivered it at no cost. Town workers Dick Crawford, Chuck Berlinger, Kevin Hagen, Terry Wendel, Dave Williams, Skip Mrkall and Tom Dick Dworak had their hands full getting the tree upright and secure. The tree will be lit at the Light Up The Boulevard Festival on Saturday, November 21st.

Rendering of new park addition click for larger view.

The annual Veterans Day Service was held at Charles N. DeGlopper Memorial Park this year instead of Veterans Park on Bedell Road. This was due to a big announcement that the American Legion Post 1346, Grand Island Moose and the VFW Post 9249 are purchasing the land next to DeGlopper Park and going to enlarge the park. Former VFW Commander Mike Mehltretter made the announcement with Eric Anderson of the Moose Lodge and Ray DeGlopper of the American Legion.

VFW Commander Christian Eshelman greeted the attendees to the service and Supervisor Mary Cooke spoke of all Veterans bravery and sacrifice. State Assemblyman John Ceretto presented a proclamation honoring the 50th anniversary of the VFW Post and pledged his time looking for funds to help with the park. The Union Volunteers Fife and Drum Corps provided music for the event, along with GIHS Wind Ensemble Trumpeters Max VeRost and Eric Albrecht.

The new project team is looking for input from the community as far as ideas and donations. The next meeting will be at the GI Moose Lodge on Monday, December 14th. If you would like to make a donation, checks can be made out to VFW Post 9249, write DeGlopper Park Expansion in the subject. The Post address is 2121 Grand Island Blvd.

A recent move to the the Elderwood at Riverwood residence by well known GI veteran Kester Bleich prompted a Veterans Day ceremony there on Wednesday, November 11th. Eighteen residents were thanked for their service in a speech by Grand Island VFW Post 9249 Charles N. DeGlopper Memorial Commander Christian Eshelman. Department of New York VFW Commander Marlene Roll provided her official pin to be presented to the Veterans by Island resident and Department of New York Membership Chairman Dan McMahon. on Tuesday, Nov. 3rd. What some call the “silly season” was over. Now that it is behind us, I would like to share some thoughts on this year’s election, as well as elections in general.

I was fortunate to be granted another two year term in the Erie County Legislature by the voters of Grand Island and the Tonawandas. I am extremely grateful to them for having done so. I look forward to working with others who won their elections. One of these, of course, is County Executive Mark Poloncarz. Despite being from different political parties, we have worked well together the past four years and I have every reason to believe this will continue. It is Erie County and we have proven that Democrats and Republicans can work together.

Toward that end, I am also looking forward to working with the new Supervisor of the Town of Tonawanda, Joe Emminger. Joe and I are both members of the Mt. St. Mary Academy Board of Trustees and already have developed a good working relationship. I also know that I will enjoy productive relationships with the new City of Tonawanda Council President, Jenna Koch, and whoever emerges as the Town of Grand Island Supervisor once the absentee ballots are counted. So I congratulate all of this year’s election winners. Emerging victorious on Election Day is no small feat. It is the result of a lot of hard work.

They are not the only ones who worked hard, as those who came up short on Election Day also gave up their summers to provide us with a choice. Having lost a couple of elections of my own a few years back, I know how disappointing it is to sacrifice so much and get so little in return. So we owe them all a huge debt and I want to thank them all and wish them the best in their future endeavors, starting with my opponent, Todd Potter, Jr. Todd is a young man who has already made significant contributions as a member of the Ken Ton School Board. He has a bright future. Two years ago, another fairly young man named Bill Conrad faced me in the November election. Recently, Bill and I have been working together to drum up support for a brilliant idea of his to reduce community college chargebacks from other counties that add millions of dollars to our Erie County property taxes. I have enjoyed working with Bill and hope to have the privilege of working with Todd someday soon on something equally beneficial to us all.

If you have thoughts you would like to share, I would love to hear from you.

To each and every American who has worn the uniform of the United States, I simply say, “Thank you for your service.” Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs

On Veterans Day, we honor the men and women who have served our Nation and answered the call to defend it. The United States rose to greatness on the strength of their service and their stories are woven into the fabric of our Nation’s history. More than 26 million veterans are alive today, one million of which have been wounded, and many who receive treatment for battlefield injuries and mental trauma.

Since 1776, nearly 2 million men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice in combat. We know them as our fathers and mothers, our aunts and uncles, or perhaps our next door neighbors. Whether they served in times of war or peace, all veterans share a common bond, their belief in the cause of freedom. A belief so strong they are willing to give their lives, if need be, in its defense. Here in Erie County there are over 64,500 veterans who have risked their lives to protect us. As Americans, we all must take the time to honor and thank them for their service.

Events are planned throughout Erie County to honor these men and women for their patriotism, love of country and willingness to serve and sacrifice. I encourage all Erie County residents to take time from your busy day to attend the Veterans Day Parade on Saturday, November 7, 2015. The annual parade starts at 11am beginning at Delaware Avenue and Edward, ending at Buffalo City Hall, and celebrates the heroism and courage of our local veteran community.

At the Erie County Clerk’s Office, we pay tribute to our veterans 365 days a year through our “Thank A Vet” Discount Program. I would like to remind veterans if they haven’t already filed their honorable discharge papers and received the “Thank A Vet” discount card, to come in and do so. Over 1,180 Erie County businesses have registered in the program to give valuable discounts on goods and services.

When a veteran puts their discharge papers on file with the Erie County Clerk’s Office, it ensures their safety and makes attaining complimentary certified copies hassle free for the veteran and their loved ones. The “Thank A Vet” photo ID card is issued on the spot and our heroes walk away with a real benefit of potentially thousands of dollars in savings.
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