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Honor Roll / Recognizing the accomplishments of Western New Yorkers

Erie County Surrogate Court Judge Barbara Howe, Buffalo Chief of Detectives Dennis J. Richards and attorney Thomas H. Burton were honored by the Judges & Police Conference of Erie County.

Howe -- in her 25th year as a judge -- was selected as Jurist of the Year. Richards, who joined the Police Department in 1977 and worked his way up, was named Law Enforcement Officer of the Year. Burton, a former sheriff's deputy for Oswego County and now a highly regarded attorney in the law enforcement community, was picked as Citizen of the Year.


Buffalo lawyers Peter C. Obersheimer and Noemi Fernandez recently were awarded the New York State Bar Association's prestigious Pro Bono Service Award for 2012, for their distinguished efforts to provide free legal services, Vincent E. Doyle III, president of the statewide group, announced.

Obersheimer, of the Philips Lytle law firm, was cited for what Doyle called his "extraordinary" 445 hours of legal services in a Department of Homeland Security case and a difficult immigration case that involved multiple, complex legal issues of federal, state and Dominican Republic law.

Fernandez, a solo practitioner, was honored for volunteering time to 11 divorce cases through the Erie County Bar Association's Volunteer Lawyers Project. She worked more than 60 hours on those cases without pay.

In 2011, Obersheimer was active in the local bar association's Volunteers Lawyers Project Attorney of the Morning Program and represented dozens of low-income tenants facing eviction in Housing Court.

Fernandez has been a volunteer for more than 10 years with the volunteer program. Because she is fluent in Spanish, she has enabled the association to better assist low-income clients from its Latino client community, Doyle said.


The Sierra Club Niagara Group presented its annual awards recently at a dinner at Milos, 5877 Main St., Williamsville:

Cara Matteliano received the Blake Reeves Award for environmental leadership for the development of the Western New York Environmental Alliance and Grow WNY website.

Nan and Walter Simpson received the the Bruce Kershner Conservation Award for their tireless efforts to educate the community about climate change.

In addition, winners of the Environmental Education competition were announced.

First place, Doug Hollinger, Pavilion Central School; second place, Dr. Manju Prakash, Archbishop Walsh Academy; third place, Mark Ricupito, Sweet Home High School.


Jonathan Er, a senior at Williamsville East High School, has been named one of approximately 550 semifinalists in the 2012 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. The semifinalists were selected from more than 3,300 candidates on the basis of achievements, leadership, character and involvement in community and school activities.

The Commission on Presidential Scholars, a group of citizens appointed by President Obama, will select one young man and one young woman from each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and U.S. students living abroad to receive the U.S. Presidential Scholars medallion.


Two military personnel have returned to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., after being deployed to Afghanistan serving in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Army Reserve Spec. Ryan W. Wild, a military policeman with the 307th Military Police Company, New Kensington, Pa., served two years in the military. He is the son of Daniel P. Wild of Amherst and Deborah C. Wild of Tonawanda and a 2010 graduate of Tonawanda High School.

Army Reserve Sgt. James E. Cutting, a military police team leader with the 307th Military Police Company, New Kensington, Pa., served five years in the military. The sergeant is a 1996 graduate of Lackawanna High School and the son of Arthur R. and Geraldine S. Cutting of Lackawanna.


Rhonda L. Cornum, a retired Army brigadier general, was selected as a 2012 Eagle for the Gathering of Eagles program at Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.

Gathering of Eagles is a yearlong, student-run research elective at the college, which collects, educates and advocates air, space and cyberspace history through biographical studies and personal interviews with the student-selected Eagles.

Cornum was a flight surgeon and a prisoner of war during Operation Desert Storm. The retired brigadier general had served in the military for 34 years.

Cornum graduated in 1971 from East Aurora High School and received a doctorate in philosophy in 1978 from Cornell University. She also earned a doctor of medicine degree in 1986 from the Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, Md.


Buffalo surgeon Richard M. Peer, past president of the Medical Society of the State of New York, was elected chairman of the board of the society at its 206th annual House of Delegates meeting in Saratoga Springs.

Peer is a board-certified general and vascular surgeon. He was chief of the vascular surgery division at Buffalo General Hospital from 1991 to 1995 and remains an associate surgeon there.

He is in private practice with the Buffalo Medical Group and is the medical director of two health care facilities and a consultant for Roswell Park Cancer Institute.


Jennifer Hunt, associate professor of psychology at Buffalo State College, received the 2012 Action Teaching Award from the Social Psychology Network, which includes a prize of $1,000 and a one-year sustaining membership in the organization. The award recognizes "action teaching" that leads not only to a better understanding of human behavior but to a more just, compassionate and peaceful world.

Hunt's entry was "Changing the World, $5 at a Time, Through a Grant Assignment."

Her class assignment required students to write a persuasive essay about an important social problem related to gender or sex. She invited each student to contribute five dollars to a class "grant fund." The students then decided which essay was most persuasive. The author of that essay chose a charity to receive the money.


Dr. John A.M. Taylor, professor of integrative holistic health and coordinator of diagnostic imaging at D'Youville College Chiropractic Health Center, has been named recipient of the Dr. J. Warren Perry Health & Human Services Faculty Leadership Award.

The Perry Faculty Leadership Award is given annually to a faculty member from the allied health disciplines who demonstrates professional service and service to the community.

Taylor joined the D'Youville chiropractic faculty as an adjunct professor in 2007 and was named professor in 2008. He was in private practice for 10 years and later joined the faculty of New York Chiropractic College prior to becoming a faculty member at D'Youville.


Attorney William Mattar received the Silver Beaver Award from the Greater Niagara Frontier Council, Boy Scouts of America, at a ceremony last month in the Millennium Hotel. It is the highest award the council can give to a volunteer.

Mattar has supported Boys Scouts of America for many years. He is a leader in Troop 261 and has served as chairman of numerous council fundraising events, including the 2012 Fire and Ice Event. He also chaired scouting's 100th Year Anniversary Gala for Western New York.


Former Buffalo resident Marvin W. Stocker and his wife, Donna, have surpassed a quarter of a million dollars in lifetime giving to St. Bonaventure University. The university recently announced the Stockers' pledge of $50,000 to the School of Business Building Campaign.

St. Bonaventure is in the final months of raising $15 million to construct a 26,000-square-foot building to house its business school.

Construction on the new building will begin by June, with occupancy set for fall 2013.

Stocker graduated from St. Bonaventure in 1965 with a bachelor's in accounting and went on to a 37-year career in sales and marketing with General Electric.