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North Tonawanda bids farewell to a nearly 100-year-old organization

NORTH TONAWANDA – Just a year shy of its 100th anniversary, the Rotary Club of the Tonawandas and its 23 remaining members have decided to call it quits.

The organization will cease to exist effective June 30, club President William Miles told the Common Council, which on Tuesday issued a proclamation thanking the club for its service to the community since 1917.

Mayor Arthur G. Pappas ticked off a list of the club’s contributions over those years and “the countless hearts this organization has touched.”

“It’s with a saddened heart that we just couldn’t keep it going, even just for one more year to reach 100 years,” Miles told the Common Council. “In the small community of North Tonawanda there are 37 service organizations. We don’t have the population to help those organizations continue to grow. They are all struggling to keep memberships going and that’s what happened to us.”

But Miles added that while the club lacked membership, it more than made up for this with funds.

“We have a foundation that has been built up over the years and we wanted to leave a lasting memory of the Rotary Club of the Tonawandas,” said Miles, who noted the organization has contacted mayors of both the City of Tonawanda and North Tonawanda for input. Current plans are to donate $7,500 to the helicopter project at the Vietnam memorial at Veterans Park, $7,500 to the new Children’s Remembrance Garden Walk in North Tonawanda’s Brauer Park, $5,000 to the Salvation Army of the Tonawandas for the purchase of a new refrigerator, and $5,000 to the United Way of the Tonawandas.

“We felt that was the best place to put our money so you will all remember the progress the Rotary Club gave to you,” he said.

Officials also pointed to business groups that are aiding the city’s beautification efforts.

The Downtown Merchants Association continues to improve Webster Street, investing $7,220 in 36 banners that will hang from the crossbars off of utility poles. The merchants’ group plans to have the banners installed prior to Canal Fest on July 17.

Also, the Oliver Street Merchants Association got the go-ahead to place 25 “Welcome to Oliver Street” banners at key intersections, purchased by the group and local merchants.

Third Ward Alderman Eric Zadzilka praised the community effort. “I think progress is being made,” he said. “I see progress and I see efforts and I see results.”

email: nfischer@buffnews.com