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Pleas urge renaming street for slain soldier But councilmen call for deferring honor

Wendy L. Kovacs just wants a street named for her son to honor him for giving his life in Iraq.

The mother of Cpl. Lorne E. Henry Jr. pleaded Monday with members of the City Council to reconsider a request to rename a section of Lindbergh Avenue for the Niagara Falls High School graduate who died in February when the truck he was driving was hit by an explosion.

"He chose to fight for you," Kovacs told the Council.

Council members last month tabled the request after Council Chairman Robert Anderson Jr. asked that the city wait until the war is over to honor two Falls soldiers killed in the war along with all those who have served from the city.

Kovacs was joined at the podium by neighbors, relatives and the family of Staff Sgt. Aram J. Bass, who was shot in November 2005 as he tried to save his commanding officer.

"The war will never be over, but my stepson went from high school right to the Army," said Charles B. Primerano, Henry's stepfather. "I can't see why the City of Niagara Falls can't do something for a fallen soldier."

Anderson, an Air Force veteran, said after the Council meeting that he will stand by his belief that the city should wait three to five years after the war to honor those who have died with one monument. Anderson said he would abstain from voting on any proposals to rename streets.

"I would abstain, because I would be turning my back on my fellow soldiers," Anderson said.

Councilman Lewis "Babe" Rotella said he would follow Anderson's lead on the request and said the chairman is working hard to develop a monument for all veterans.

Kovacs and Primerano, who live on Lindbergh Avenue, where they raised Henry, questioned why the Council is stalling their request when other Falls streets have been renamed for pastors and people lost to automobile accidents.

Kovacs presented a petition with signatures from all but one of her neighbors asking that the street between 56th Street and Builder's Way be renamed for Henry, an athlete who had been an alter server at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church.

"It would be selfish to reject this idea," said Andrea Mille-ville, 14, a Lindbergh Avenue resident. "He was the young hero we all came to know and love."

Donald Bass, uncle of Aram Bass, said his family also hopes to someday see a street bear his nephew's name. He recounted the details of the last moments of Bass' life when Bass hot-wired a vehicle to take his wounded commanding officer to safety before being shot himself. Bass served four years in the Marines before joining the Army and requesting to serve in Iraq.

"Should everyone be honored? Yes. I think it's huge to give your life for your country," the uncle said. "He was an extraordinary man. He was a supernova. He was 6-foot-5 and beautiful. He had a commanding presence."

Also, the Council unanimously voted to spend up to $30,000 on a consulting firm to help the city oversee an estimated $45 million project to build a courthouse and Police Headquarters. Rotella said he hopes the consultant will help resolve differences between the city and the building's developer.

The Council also approved a measure to use $500,000 of the city's casino revenue that had been earmarked for economic development to resurface more streets, replace additional sidewalks and demolish vacant buildings.


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