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Where we live / A town-by-town digest of what's happening in our communities

Amherst

Among the many issues debated by the Williamsville Board of Education this past week was whether to develop a policy regarding if and when board members might be allowed to attend meetings via Skype, a computer service that allows members to communicate remotely with other users via voice and video.

This raised a general discussion about whether allowing videoconferencing of any sort for board members is a good idea.

"Overall, I think it's a bad practice," said board member William Freeman.

Board member Ronald Shubert pointed out that the board already has a policy governing videoconferencing. It dictates things like advance notice and accessibility to the public if board members choose to use videoconferencing to participate in meetings.

However, the policy doesn't explicitly state whether the board should or shouldn't allow videoconferencing or under what circumstances videoconferencing should be allowed.

In the end, board President Michael Littman suggested the board should set aside this issue for another day, given the more weighty issues at hand regarding potential budget cuts for next school year and the matter was dropped.

Also this week:

*There will be no Town Board meeting or work session Monday. The next regular meeting of the board will be held Feb. 27.

*At 5 p.m. today, the Williamsville Village Meeting House will host a free showing of the movie "Everyone Says I Love You."

*The movie will be preceded by live music at 4:30 p.m.

*The Amherst Republican Committee is hosting a free "Amherst Presidential Caucus" from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday in the Main-Transit Fire Hall, 6777 Main St.

Various local Republicans will attempt to represent the positions of Republican candidates Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul, and take questions from panelists.

For more information and to reserve a seat, contact AmherstCaucus@yahoo.com.

***

Aurora

East Aurora officials are grappling with the cost of newly constructed sidewalks and replacing badly deteriorated ones. One trustee said she would like the village to dedicate money in its budget to the effort so the sidewalk problems are addressed more timely.

Trustee Libby Weberg, through the Pedestrian Bicycle Board, has proposed that the village pay the full cost of putting in new sidewalks -- not maintaining or repairing existing ones -- where they are needed in front of existing homes.

It could be a case, she said, where there is a gap between two existing sidewalks, where a portion of it has worn away or there never was one.

"There are more gaps than you realize," Weberg told the board, wondering if sidewalk gaps could be addressed more timely if the village handled them.

The village and homeowners usually split the cost of a new sidewalk. Sidewalk maintenance work is the full responsibility of the property owner.

In 2006, Griggs Place was completely reconstructed, and new sidewalks were installed.

The village put the project out to a public bidding process, hired a contractor and both village and street residents split the cost.

Under current policy, homeowners must pay for any unsafe sidewalks that require replacing.

When told that some contractors may charge less than what it would cost the village to do the work, some trustees suggested that homeowners should hire the contractor and then the village would reimburse them.

But Public Works Chief Matthew Hoeh said it would not be smart to go that route.

He also questioned whether a homeowner would get three quotes, like a municipality is required to do during the bid process.

"If a homeowner hired a contractor, and they inflated the price, we're on the hook for half of it," he said. "Why would we do that?"

Weberg said she would like to see the village dedicate money in its budget for some aspects of sidewalk work so that it gets done.

"We should decide how much we want to do each year and begin chipping away at it, or it'll never get done," she said.

The board will again discuss the issue at its March 5 work session.

Also this week:

*The East Aurora Village Board will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Village Hall, Main and Paine streets.

*The Town Board will meet in a work session at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the auditorium of Town Hall at 300 Gleed Ave.

***

Buffalo

An Elmwood Avenue restaurant's bid for a permit to expand its operations is scheduled to come before the Common Council on Tuesday.

Paul Tsouflidis, owner of Acropolis, wants to add a second-floor bar and patio to his business, and needs city approval because his property sits within the special Elmwood zoning district.

Some neighbors have raised concerns about the potential for increased noise at the establishment, as well as what they say is existing noise coming from the business late at night.

Last week, two city lawmakers said Tsouflidis backed out on one term of a deal reached after a meeting with some neighbors.

That term would have established daily times when music would have to be shut off, a term that Tsouflidis admitted was a mistake for him to initially agree to.

Tsouflidis said last week he would accept the shut off times for two months, but not during the summer. Such a provision "would devastate my business," he said on Twitter.

The Council will meet in regular session at 2 p.m. Tuesday in Council Chambers.

Also this week:

*The Council will hold its premeeting caucus at 2 p.m. Tuesday in Room 1417 of City Hall.

*The Board of Ethics will meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday in Room 1317 in City Hall.

*The Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency will meet at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in Room 209 of City Hall.

*The Buffalo School Board will meet at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in Room 801 of City Hall. The board is expected to discuss adding a student member to the board. Also expected to be discussed is a policy that would limit the number of residents who could address the board on any particular topic at a meeting.

***

Cheektowaga

The Town Board will hold a rare Wednesday evening regular meeting because of the Presidents' Day holiday.

The meeting is expected to cover a relatively light agenda, with the board expected to approve plans submitted by Charles J. Basil to convert a warehouse into a parts storage sand vehicle-detailing shop at 1694 Walden Ave. The meeting will be held in the Council Chambers of Town Hall, 3301 Broadway.

A public hearing on Basil's plan garnered no comments. Town Board members are first expected to declare there are no adverse environmental impacts on the property and approve a site plan before rezoning the property from general commercial to motor services.

The building to be used by Basil is on a private road just west of the Target Plaza. It previously was used as a warehouse and office space by Lone Star Construction.

Basil proposes using the property for cleaning and detailing purchased cars as well as storage. No mechanical repairs or collision work would be performed at the location, according to official reports.

The Town Board also is expected to approve $15,000 in cultural group funding for the Cheektowaga Community Symphony Orchestra at the meeting.

Also this week:

*The Rochester/Buffalo Division of Project Breathe will demonstrate and donate pet oxygen mask kits at the Cheektowaga Fire Chiefs' monthly meeting at 8 p.m. Tuesday in the South Line Fire District, 1049 French Road.

*The Cheektowaga-Sloan Board of Education will meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the board room at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School, 166 Halstead Ave.

*The Traffic Safety Commission will meet at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Council Chambers of Town Hall.

***

Clarence

Supporters call it "the house that Clarence built."

A Habitat for Humanity project at 95 Fox St. in Buffalo that began last spring will culminate in a dedication ceremony scheduled for 2 p.m. today.

Volunteers who built the house, in the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood, came from a range of organizations and groups in Clarence.

The ceremony will thank them for their work and give them a chance to meet the Sango family of Burundi, who will live in the home. The project ended up attracting $85,000 in financial and in-kind donations.

Honor Flight Buffalo got a pleasant surprise from the Rotary Club of Clarence. The organization learned it will receive a donation of $10,000, instead of the $6,000 contribution it expected.

The Rotary Club of Clarence and its members, through an internal fundraising effort, had already agreed to contribute more than $6,000 to Honor Flight, which flies veterans at no cost to Washington, D.C., to see monuments to their sacrifices. But the club decided to round up its donation to $10,000, using additional funds from the Clarence Rotary Club Foundation.

More than 50 people attended the Rotary meeting on Friday where the presentation was made. The attendees included a number of veterans, from World War II to a club member whose son is serving in Kuwait but is here on a 15-day leave.

Meanwhile, the Clarence Hollow Association will stop using its own office space on Main Street as of May 31.

The association's board acted on a suggestion from the group's new president, Jean O'Connell, who described the office as a "waste of funds that could be put to better use." The office cost the group $3,600 a year, she said; monthly meetings will be held at other locations instead.

"This money will now be allocated to events and improvements in the Hollow," O'Connell wrote in her monthly column. "We are also redirecting our efforts and deleting some of the events that we held that are not meeting our mission, and replacing them with events that do." (Its mission statement is "to promote, improve, and maintain the quality of life, prosperity of business and the historic charm of Clarence Hollow.")

The group also wants to team up with other organizations, rather than compete with them, for events. One such joint venture will be an Aug. 2 concert with the Clarence Concert Association.

Also this week:

*Town offices will be closed Monday for Presidents' Day.

*The Town Board will meet at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in Town Hall, following a 6 p.m. work session. A public hearing for the town's annual master plan review is set for 7:45 p.m.

Also, Councilman Bernard J. Kolber said he plans to sponsor a resolution calling for the county to make safety improvements at the intersection of County and Strickler roads, following more crashes at that intersection.

***

Grand Island

Nickel City Reptiles and Exotics, a Buffalo-based educational animal outreach company, will be at Grand Island Memorial Library, 1715 Bedell Road, at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Nickel City Reptiles rescues and cares for exotic animals, touring the East Coast with them to teach others about wildlife.

Nickel City's wildlife wrangler, Jeff Musial, regularly appears with the exotic and endangered animals on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" and has escorted creatures to "The Martha Stewart Show" as well as other local and national programs.

Children age 5 and under attending the free event must be accompanied by a parent.

Also this week:

*The School District wants feedback from residents on how December's capital project vote was conducted. The survey is on line at the district's web site at www.k12.ginet.org. Click on "capital project" and then "post vote capital project survey." Questions include whether or not the district provided enough adequate information ahead of the vote and gave residents enough time to comment. Superintendent Robert Christmann said responses would assist the district in planning for the future referendum on a new transportation center.

*The School District has decided to participate in an energy conservation initiative by which Erie 1 BOCES, using a software package, could control and monitor operation of technology equipment like computers. Loraine Ingrasci, assistant superintendent for finance, said the program could save the district $52,000 on its annual $1.4 million utility expenses.

*John Burns, transportation director for the Grand Island Central School District, has received an Award for Excellence from the Western New York Educational Service Council.

He will be among the superintendents, administrators, teachers, and support staff honored at an awards banquet March 15 at the Marriott on Millersport in Amherst.

*The town Conservative Party is looking for candidates for the Town Board seat that will be up for grabs during November's election. It is asking applicants to send a letter requesting an interview for endorsement to Box 76, Grand Island, NY 14072. A resume and contact information, including an e-mail address, should also be included. Applications must be received by Friday.

*The Town Board will hold its quarterly joint meeting with the Police Department at 7 p.m. Thursday in Town Hall, 2255 Baseline Road.

***

Hamburg

Public safety dispatchers in the town have a new seven-year contract.

The agreement, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2010, adds more pay steps for new employees.

Current employees will receive raises of 2 percent and 2.5 percent in the first two years of the contract, 3 percent a year for the next four years, and 2.5 percent in the final year.

Employees hired after Feb. 1 will take six years of employment before reaching the top dispatcher pay, compared to three years for current dispatchers.

The town will pay 75 percent of health, dental and optical insurance. After the employee has completed 10 years of service, the town will pay 85 percent of those premiums.

Also under the new contract, the town will stop contributing days to the sick bank. The bank will continue under the administration of the union.

There are 13 members of Local 2478, International Association of Fire Fighter, Public Safety Dispatch Unit.

Also in Hamburg, the town Senior Services Department will conduct an open house at its therapeutic pool, located at Building H, 4150 Sowles Road, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 3.

Seniors are encouraged to come and learn about the variety of programs and services offered at the pool. Physical therapists, chiropractors, and other health professionals also can come and learn about the health benefits of the pool and available rental packages.

Also this week:

*The Village Board will conduct a work session at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday followed by a regular meeting at 7 p.m. in Village Hall.

***

Lackawanna

The deadline for applications for the post of deputy city clerk is this week.

Anyone interested in the position must submit a resume to the City Clerk's office in City Hall by Wednesday.

At minimum, candidates must be residents of Lackawanna, possess a high school diploma and have at least three years' experience in a business or municipal office involving interaction with the public.

A full description of job duties is posted on the city's website.

Also this week:

*The Global Concepts Charter School board of trustees will hold its monthly meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the auditorium of the school, 1001 Ridge Road.

***

Lancaster

The Town Board meeting that would have been held on Monday was already going to be rescheduled because of the conflict with Presidents' Day.

But it's being rescheduled to a different week for another reason.

Three Town Board members will be attending the annual Association of Towns meeting this week in New York City so the board's next meeting is scheduled for 8 p.m. Feb. 27 in Town Hall, 21 Central Ave. That meeting will be preceded by a work session at 7 p.m.

***

Orchard Park

Green Lake will have a mini water park this summer.

The Town Board last week agreed to spend up to $24,000 to purchase items for the creation of the new "Quaker Splash." Money will be taken from the park land deposit account to buy the inflatable modular equipment.

Recreation Director Ed Leak said the town expects to bring in nearly $15,000 a year by charging parkgoers to use the splash equipment.

It is expected family memberships will sell for $15 per year, and group rentals and day passes would be available.

The fees would more than pay for the cost of an additional lifeguard and bring in additional revenue to the town, officials said.

The equipment will be brought to shore and stored overnight during the summer.

Also this week:

*The town Economic Development Committee will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Municipal Center, 4295 S. Buffalo St.

*The Public Safety Committee will meet at 7 p.m Tuesday in the Municipal Center.

*The town Zoning Board of Appeals will meet at 7 p.m Tuesday in the Municipal Center.

*The village Zoning Board of Appeals will meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Municipal Center.

***

Southern Erie County

The Elma Town Board last week approved a drainage district for land owned by contractor Todd Huber at 6091 Seneca St. after a public hearing where little if any interest was shown.

The land is also being rezoned from residential to commercial to pave the way for Huber to erect a 5,600-square-foot commercial building in the rear of his property.

Councilman Michael Nolan praised Huber for investing in the old part of town.

Huber plans to rent the building to commercial tenants.

Also this week:

*The Erie County Water Authority has requested a meeting with the Marilla Town Board to discuss the possibility of the town giving control of its water district, pump and tank to the authority. The meeting will take place at the work session at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Town Hall, 1740 Two Rod Road.

***

City of Tonawanda

The Common Council is scheduled to formally accept a shared services agreement with the Town of Tonawanda for assessor services when it meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall, 200 Niagara St.

Former Lancaster Assessor David C. Marrano is expected to begin serving in that capacity by March 1.

The Tonawanda Town Board is expected to approve the agreement at its Feb. 27 meeting.

Marrano's annual salary of approximately $85,000, as well as the cost of benefits, will be split between the town and city on a pro rata basis, reflecting the number of parcels in each community and the amount of time he spends in each municipality.

The meeting also will include the mayor's state of the city address.

***

Town of Tonawanda

The performance of an elementary school teacher received special recognition at last week's meeting of the Ken-Ton School Board.

It wasn't related to what Jim O'Connor does in his classroom at Edison Elementary, however. It was about what he did in the surf, off the Florida coast, in late December.

O'Connor was vacationing with his wife, Liz, when he heard screams for help about a swimmer who had been swept away from the Canaveral National Seashore by rip currents.

O'Connor, who had been stand up paddle surfing earlier in the day farther down the coast, retrieved his wet suit and paddleboard from his car. Then he paddled out to the struggling swimmer, who was shivering in the 64-degree water.

Long story short, the rescue that O'Connor initiated succeeded, with the help of a NASA rescue surfer.

"It's something he didn't have to do," School Superintendent Mark P. Mondanaro said, before presenting O'Connor with a meritorious award certificate. But Mondanaro was curious about how O'Connor had transported his paddleboard to Florida.

O'Connor explained that he drives down, with his car loaded with gear.

"I always bring my golf clubs, too," O'Connor noted. "I'm ready for anything."

A $68,305 federal grant will pay for a vehicle exhaust-removal system for the Kenmore Fire Department's firehouse.

The grant, announced by Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., is from the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program.

Administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the grants are designed to help firefighters and other first responders obtain the resources needed to protect the public and emergency personnel from fire and related hazards.

Installation of the exhaust-removal system in Kenmore's firehouse, on Nash Road, will help provide cleaner air when firefighters start trucks, perform maintenance work and respond to calls.

Also this week:

*The Kenmore Village Board meets at 8 p.m. Tuesday in council chambers at the municipal building, 2919 Delaware Ave. A work session begins at 6:30 in the mayor's office.

***

West Seneca

A Greenfield Avenue resident will take his case for the proposed construction of a 17-foot-high garage behind his property to a meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals at 7 p.m. Wednesday at West Seneca Town Hall, 1250 Union Road.

Thomas Reese II is requesting a variance for property at 23 Greenfield Ave. to construct the garage, which would be five feet higher than the 12-foot maximum height allowed in the town code.

Reese says in his application he has a nine-foot, six-inch tall race car trailer that needs storage in a garage along with a snowmobile trailer and a boat.

Three other items also are on Wednesday's agenda. Two are for electronic signs -- at 2250 Transit Road and 146 Reserve Road.

The other is to revisit a previously tabled item submitted by Timon Electrical Construction Inc. Timothy Mielko, president of Timon, is requesting variances for a 4518 Clinton St. property. He seeks to install a driveway with no setback, a five-foot side yard setback, non-hard surface pavement and a reduction in office parking from 15 to seven spaces.

Also this week:

*Town Hall be closed Monday in observance of Presidents' Day.

*Students in the West Seneca School District will be off this week for mid-winter recess.

*St. David's Episcopal Church, 3951 Seneca St., will hold its Shrove Tuesday Clam Chowder Sale and Luncheon from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. Lunch includes soup and a refill, bread, dessert and a beverage for $6 per person.

***

West Seneca / By the numbers

Total population: 44, 711

AGE:

Median: 44.7
Percent under 5: 4.3
Percent under 18: 19.8
Percent over 65: 19.8

***

Population by sex:

52.2% female

47.8% male

***

Population by race:

97.2% white

1.7% Hispanic

0.9% black

0.6% Asian

***

HOUSING:

Total units: 19,972
Percentage vacant: 4.1
Percentowner occupied: 76.2
Percent renter occupied: 23.8

***

HOUSEHOLDS:

Total: 19,151
Average size: 2.31
Percent with husband-wife: 49.6
Percent with husband-wife and kids under 18: 17.7
Percent with single fathers: 1.7
Percent with single mothers: 4.8

Source: 2010 Census