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When 1997 becomes history, Vicki and Steve Cocca of Zoar Road in the Town of Collins will shed the leadership responsibilities that have been part of their lives since 1985.

Vicki Cocca leaves the Collins Town Board after 12 years of service, first as a councilwoman and for the last two years as supervisor. Her husband, Stephen Cocca, a full-time North Collins Central School teacher and a part-time Gowanda jeweler, is leaving the Gowanda Free Library Board.

For Vicki Cocca, the time is right.

"My father-in-law, Charles Cocca, was the one who encouraged me to enter Collins politics, and it's my wish to spend more time with my children, Katie, 16, and Vincent, 13," she said.

By day, Mrs. Cocca is a student counselor for the Erie II, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus Board of Cooperative Educational Services.

She leaves public service feeling satisfied with her achievements.

"We have completed our water project," she said. "Water is now flowing at greater pressure in the hamlet of Collins and on and to Seneca Heights, and our new 300,000-gallon water tank on Bagdad Road is now filling.

"The town's garbage-bag system is working well. It has enabled us to reduce the tax rate that supports our transfer station from $1.24 to 18 cents."

Mrs. Cocca calls her 12 years of service to the town of 6,000 "an honor."

"For myself, I learned a great deal doing things that I never thought I could," she said. "I have grown. But there are other capable people who can serve the public."

She points to her successor, Donald Tew.

Tew, she said, "is a registered nurse who is capable, understands money and has compassion. He will do well."

Meanwhile, husband Stephen Cocca leaves the library board with mixed feelings.

"I chose not be run again for president, an office I have held since 1990. And then I thought it best to leave the board entirely."

Cocca fought successfully to retain Erie County financial support for Gowanda Free Library, which is in Cattaraugus County, but was unable to convince a majority of his fellow board members that merging with the Collins Town Library would better serve both communities.

"I think that by working together the several libraries could offer more than any one can offer alone," Cocca said. "But I also admire the independent spirit of each group to retain its independence. It's like being pioneers."

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