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Cuomo adds 3 to Falls bridge panel

Three new appointments to the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission have been announced by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

Thomas G. Pryce of Youngstown, the only American member still on the board from the former contingent, said the changes were made over a two-month period earlier this year but were simply announced all at once by the commission.

Cuomo chose former Niagara Falls City Councilman Frank A. Soda; Russell G. Quarantello of Lewiston, business manager of Local 237, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; and public relations consultant Kathleen Neville of Wilson.

They succeed Niagara Falls block club activist Norma I. Higgs, Falls accountant Patrick D. Brown and Wheatfield attorney Linda M. DiPasquale. Pryce, business agent of Ironworkers Local 9, was the only American member of the board to remain in place after the changes.

The four American members are appointed by the governor and serve at his pleasure; they do not have fixed terms.

DiPasquale said she saw nothing political in the moves. All the incoming appointees are Democrats, as were those they replaced.

Higgs, the longest-serving member, served on the board from 1976 to 1996 and was brought back in 2008, when Brown, DiPasquale and Pryce also joined.

"We had heard the governor was going to start making recommendations and filling seats right across the board," Pryce said. "There's quite a vetting process."

DiPasquale said she already had sent in her resignation because she was too busy at work to continue serving. "The commission meets several times a month," she said.

Pryce said the members are paid $150 per meeting but do not draw a salary.

The board also includes four Ontario residents, appointed by the premier of Ontario, to three-year terms: Michael J. Goodale of Grimsby, the current chairman; Ernest K. Smith of Niagara Falls, Ont.; Janice A. Thomson of Niagara-on-the-Lake; and Kenneth E. Loucks of Sauble Beach.

The commission governs the operations of the Rainbow, Whirlpool Rapids and Lewiston-Queenston bridges over the Niagara River.