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For Bylewski, strength in tragedy

"Our hearts ache, but they're not broken," Clarence Supervisor Scott A. Bylewski said Thursday afternoon in addressing members of the Clarence League of Women Voters.

The annual State of the Town address usually is a routine update of roads to be paved, sewer line developments and accomplishments in preserving green space.

But a week after the crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407, the supervisor was left to reflect on subsequent events and how his town responded to them.

The tragedy has caused great grief over the loss of 50 lives and one unborn child, he said. But he expressed hope that the town would continue stronger and better, and honor those who perished.

About 1,185 people worked at the scene on Long Street, the supervisor said, as he thanked the agencies that responded and mentioned the names of all 12 volunteer fire companies.

"Throughout this event, I remain proud of our reaction and the reaction of those we partnered with as we handled arguably the most traumatic event in Western New York history," Bylewski told four dozen people gathered for lunch in Hirsch's Restaurant.

Bylewski, 36, who has been supervisor slightly more than a year, recalled that during last year's address, he spoke of laying foundations for the future.

"There is no doubt in my mind that our town and our community, that we will all continue to remain strong as we continue to build upon those foundations that were laid over the last year," he said.

In response to members of the audience who asked what they could do to help, Bylewski said they could contact the supervisor's office next week with their name and area of expertise. Town Justice Michael B. Powers is the volunteer coordinator.

"We're looking for efforts, not now, but down the road, for people who would be interested," the supervisor said.

He said the eyes of the world gazed on the town in the past week and found it exceptional.

"You hope it doesn't happen, but if it does happen, if you have a tragedy like this, you hope your responders and your structure and your government can respond the same way we have. It has been tremendous," he said.

He said he had no doubt that the 200-year-old town will remain strong well into the future.

e-mail: bobrien@buffnews.com

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