Tonawanda News

March 22, 2014

TUCKER: Time to clean out your attics

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The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Just as I was about to write a request for yarn, a wonderful woman who would not give her name, dropped off a large bag of yarn. It will go to good use as the VFW women, who knit chemo hats and blankets for the homeless and veterans, as well as Karen Armenia’s knitters, are running out of yarn. These are just a couple of groups that could use all that yarn that’s in your closets, basements or attics. Drop off all you have to the News and it’ll be distributed from here — recycling at it’s best.

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At a talk on renewable energy sources at Daemen College the other night, the advantages of solar power and windmills were discussed at length. In addition, one speaker, an expert on landscaping and keeping runoff water from our sewers and drains, gave a great pitch for more natural gardening: using native plants and trees and bird-friendly shrubs and flowers. Now all we need is spring to be part of this gardening project.

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What do I know about basketball? Nothing. Certainly the Men’s Division 1 Basketball Championship is way out of my area of expertise. However, when our managing editor gave everyone a sheet with brackets of all games and teams, I thought, why not? So I choose team after team as winner of each bracket, without a clue as to what was what. The only teams I’d heard about were Syracuse and Ohio State, my son-in-law’s favorite. With that in mind, I selected Ohio State as the grand champion. One day into the playoffs and Ohio State was beaten. One of the pressmen who suggested I pick Florida had a great laugh Friday morning — at my expense.

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So glad readers pay attention and question a discrepancy in two similar stories. Jessica Bagley wrote a great article on the uphill fight St. Francis of Assisi School is having with the Diocese of Buffalo. A reader emailed that her story had only 152 students at St. Francis, a number provided by the diocese. However, the diocese did not count preschoolers at St. Francis, although they did for the other schools, for whatever reason. In my column last week, I said the school has 182, the correct figure from the principal. So we’re both right, in a way, only with lots of new registrations, registration at St. Francis will be over 200 next year.

Love to know what the diocesan school department is thinking when they have St. Amelia School send letters to North Tonawanda and City of Tonawanda parents saying that the diocese is committing a $25,000 grant a year to subsidize transportation for T-NT students. 

“Once we have a firm number of students that will be using our transportation system, we will be able to determine the amount the route will cost per child. We are hoping to keep the transportation fee as minimal as possible,” St. Amelia’s principal wrote.

Oh, by the way, did I mention there will be one drop-off site in North Tonawanda and one in Tonawanda. Now isn’t that a big help? Almost as good as the offer of NFTA bus passes.

Mark Saltarelli, who is leading the fight at St. Francis in an admirable style, sent a response that, to me, was perfect.

“...I equate this letter to vultures circling animals who they believe are dying. Well in case you have not heard the news, St. Francis is not closing. I understand the pressure the Diocese of Buffalo is exerting on everyone, but there comes a time when people need to step up and do the right thing. The Catholic schools are in this together. We all fight the same fight. Therefore, when one of our own start taking advantage of a situation to the detriment of another, it hurts.”

Mark noted that more than $25,000 is needed for busing and the fact that tuition in Town schools is $1,000 more than at St. Francis. Which would you choose? (Besides, no one has a Father Mike.)

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Along the same line, Tonawanda Council Member Jenna Koch, granddaughter of Nancy Holtz, 97 years young, and who taught hundreds of students while at St. Francis, emailed to say her grandmother joined the St. Francis fight.

Jenna said when she came home, her grandmother’s letter was hanging on the refrigerator.

Here’s part of it: “The Diocese of Buffalo should look for other things they can cut. The school is the most important necessity for the children. I should know, I worked there.  Shame on you for even thinking of closing St. Francis of Assisi,” Mrs. Holtz wrote.

“Rest assured my grandmother will also not go quietly in the night,” Jenna said. “I will do everything in my power to make sure that her letter is received, even if I have to personally deliver it myself. The decision that the Diocese of Buffalo so selfishly handed down to close St. Francis left so many students, teachers, and community members shocked, including my grandmother. There is no doubt in my mind that our city will continue to fight for what is right.”

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 The mighty oak was once a little nut that stood its ground.