Tonawanda News

March 23, 2013

Hitting against a federal wall

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The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Let’s start off with Freedom of Speech.

Each spring, the New York Forest Owners Association hosts a brunch for members, the topics of which are varied. This year, it was decided to once again have the event at Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve & Environmental Education Center in Depew. (If you’ve never been there, take the family and visit this remarkable nature preserve.) The site chosen, the committee asked Kim Sherwood, a foremost authority on shale gas drilling (called fracking) to come and talk about the major differences between traditional vertical drilling that has occurred in WNY for a long time, and high volume hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling.

Because Kim is a hydrologist and watershed planner whose career included work for the federal Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service and a person with degrees in forest hydrology, it seemed a great way to hear both sides of the question from a foremost authority.

So my sister, chairman of the local NYFOA group, asked Reinstein if we could again use its facilities. The answer initially was, “of course.” But when the director heard the word “fracking,” she apologized and said NYFOA could not use the site as it is run now by the DEC, which will not allow fracking discussions at its sites. This talk, my sister tried to explained, is not to instigate anyone to form protests — it’s simply informational. To no avail.

So another place for our event has been chosen. However, if anyone has any idea that the government is in control, reread this again — Freedom of Speech, my foot.

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Last week, Ken Diegelman from Tonawanda, a very knowledgeable arborist and horticulturist, called to say the daffodils in the median on Clinton Street were up about six or so inches. Each year, Ken, who watches out for the thousands of daffodils planted in the median, requests a photographer to come and take a photo when they bloom. I explained that it is difficult to arrange a photo of the flowers on a certain day due to weather, etc., however, it he’d like to take a photo, the News would be glad to print it. We chatted awhile about plants, trees and flowers (a most enjoyable conversation) and then he asked if I had any “salix discolor,” to which I pled dumb. He laughed “It’s the Latin name for pussy willows,” he said. No, sad to say I no longer have a pussy willow shrub and had no branches here. He assured me he would drop off some branches for me (which he did) and also would take some daffodil photos and bring over the negatives. When I told him we don’t use negatives only the photo, he quipped: “Well some people say I have a phone, but I really just have two cans and a string.”

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Scott Kiedrowski, North Tonawanda city clerk/treasurer, is doing his part for Americanism. For about the last two years, he’s been collecting worn U.S. flags for proper disposal at a ceremony at the Sikora American Legion Post. Scott placed containers at city hall near his office as a convenient place for people to bring in flags no longer needed.

“I am amazed how quickly the barrels fill up,” Scott said. He also noted that the collection barrels are there all year.

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A woman called to say she and many of her friends are retired — and bored. She wondered if it would be possible to print a listing of places that need volunteers.

“Some of the places, like DeGraff Hospital and the library come to mind right away,” she said. “But surely there must be other groups that could use us.”

So if your organization needs volunteers (and you are willing to make use of their talents in a welcoming way) either call me at 693-1000, ext. 4110 or email. Be sure to leave the name and phone number of a person to call to sign up.

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It’s always great to see old friends and catch up on each other’s lives. Such was the case last week when I ran into Barbara Kancar and Ellie Flemming, both from our days when our kids were young and we were the same. Barbara’s still working and Ellie enjoys traveling and of course, her family’s visits. Nice visit.

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Recently, coming home from downtown Buffalo, I took the scenic route down Richmond Avenue, ending at Forest Avenue in front of the former psychiatric hospital, a gloomy reminder of man’s inhumanity to man. How developers can even think of changing this place of horror into a hotel is beyond me. It should be torn down and buried along with the memories of treatment at that place, and I don’t care who the architect was nor how famous his work is considered. My hope is that when the millions and millions of dollars are spent converting the former mental hospital, the ghosts of former patients will walk the halls, retelling their stories.

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Thought for the day from a desk calendar: God loves you! And I’m really trying.

Contact community editor Barbara Tucker at 693-1000, ext. 4110 or email barbara.tucker@tonawanda-news.com