Tonawanda News


March 20, 2014

OUR VIEW: Tonawanda Coke sentence offers deserved answers

Tonawanda News — U.S. Chief District Judge William Skretny got Wednesday’s sentencing of Tonawanda Coke right in acknowledging the pain and suffering the plant has caused its neighbors — while also noting it deserves a chance to improve its standing in the community now that the trial is over.

We’re naturally skeptical the family running Tonawanda Coke has taken the harsh lessons delivered by a jury to heart but Skretny’s sentence empowers regulators to keep a close eye on the facility as it works to repay a sizable debt to society for so brazenly ignoring environmental law and the health and safety of its employees and the residents living nearby.

The bottom line figure of $25 million in fines and funding for health and environmental testing seems fair.

So, too, does a year and a day in prison for the man most responsible — who ordered employees to deceive regulators during compliance inspections. But to say Mark Kamholz was the only one responsible for the foundry’s atrocious environmental record is unfair and we can’t escape the feeling others — most notably the plant’s longtime owner, J.D. Crane — got by without being forced to take personal responsibility.

Details aside, Wednesday’s sentencing should offer a moment of reflection for the hundreds of activists whose unending determination to better their community made it possible. Who could have imagined all those years ago the conversations that started over backyard fences about the smell in the air would have led us here?

The result is nothing short of stunning.

It is also a testament to that old adage, “never doubt a small group of committed citizens can change the world — indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

It is not overly dramatic to say through hard work and a commitment to airing the truth, members of this community have immeasurably improved the lives for thousands of people here now and in the future.

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  • duvall, eric.jpg DUVALL: On lines blurred, crossed and nonexistent It strikes me more and more how blurry the lines have gotten in all facets of our world, large and small.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tucker, Barbara.jpg TUCKER: Oh, the joys of Sound Off Never thought the words "Thank goodness for Sound Off" would ever be printed here.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • adamczyk, ed.jpg ADAMCZYK: And now for something completely different... Last weekend I attended a local movie theater (a plushy, posh experience; they design these places now to get you out of your living room and away from your home electronics) to watch the sun set on the British Empire.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • OUR VIEW: Arson suspect never deserved bail Two of the 11 fires reported on Fifth Avenue could have been prevented with some jurisprudence in evaluating whether the suspect, Michelle Johnston, deserved to be offered bail. Given the obvious nature of a repeat offender who was charged with nine felony arson counts, bail never should have been offered in this case.

    July 25, 2014

  • wallace, amy.jpg WALLACE: Too much information? Is there such a thing as TMI or too much information anymore? Some might say yes.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • duvall, eric.jpg DUVALL: On reading and the lack thereof It was surprising to me a few weeks ago when a friend asked a group of us to estimate how many books we have each read over the last five years. The English teacher said 200 and he far and away led the pack. I was probably the median and my number was 20-25.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • confer, bob.jpg CONFER: A Con-Con would be a con game

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • duvall, eric.jpg DUVALL: Conflict in Ukraine now a concern of global proportions It seems increasingly clear Ukrainian separatists, with the help from the Russian military, are responsible for the tragedy. They, of course, have denied it. They've also denied access to the crash site to international investigators seeking to recover the dead and determine what happened. That's not something the innocent party does.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADAMCZYK: Personal development, rendered in steel Accepting the premise that everyone needs to fill the same amount of time every day (24 hours, every day), some people use theirs rebuilding things, tangible things, and thus fulfill a few intangible goals.

    July 18, 2014

  • WALLACE: Festival season is underway Summer is the season of fairs and festivals. From Canal Fest in the Tonawandas to the Allentown Art Festival and Italian Heritage Festival in Buffalo to the Erie County Fair in Hamburg, the Western New York area has no shortage of things to do with the family over the summer.

    July 17, 2014