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Organizers of a testimonial dinner for retiring Mayor John J. Ash are anticipating some celebrities will be among the guests in attendance at the Jan. 10 event.

John E. Bartimole, one of Ash's longtime advisers, said Buffalo Mayor Anthony Masiello is one of several well-known public figures who have been invited to the dinner but have not yet confirmed their attendance.

The affair is being organized by Assemblywoman Patricia K. McGee, R-Franklinville, St. Bonaventure University President Dr. Robert J. Wickenheiser and Erick Laine, president of Alcas Corp., an Olean cutlery manufacturing firm.

About 350 people are expected to attend to honor the mayor, who is leaving office after 37 years in city government.

In a farewell statement issued Tuesday morning, Ash said Olean has escaped the "crisis of values" common elsewhere, calling the city a "community of vision" because its people are willing to take risks.

Ash pledged to use his influence and savvy to lead the fight against what he foresees as a campaign to overturn the city's four-year-old charter. He also promised to help convince Jamestown Community College, contemplating a campus expansion and possible move, to remain at its downtown location in Olean.

From his career, he said, five truths are evident: replacing workers is ill-advised, the advice of private citizens is valuable, party affiliations are better left out of appointments and government, involvement by non-government agencies should be fostered, and all decisions should be measured against how much they will benefit the city.

Ash offered help to Mayor-elect Jim Griffin and some advice for any government official: "Listen more than you talk; expect and absorb criticism and learn from it; never criticize in return; and always keep the community's best interests at heart."

Those who wish to attend the $35-a-plate testimonial dinner may reserve a seat by calling Bartimole's answering service at 375-0343 by Monday. Patron tickets at $45 and eight-seat corporate tables at $400 are also available.

Cocktails will be served at 5:30 p.m. and dinner will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Hickey Dining Hall on the St. Bonaventure University Campus in Allegany.

Any proceeds left after the costs of the dinner are paid will be donated to Ash's favorite charity, Bartimole said.

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