Tonawanda News

March 3, 2014

TUCKER: Fuel bill tops endless winter


The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — What could possibly make this interminable cold weather worse? A bill from National Fuel Resources that was more than six times the usual monthly balanced budget bill.

Sue, the woman at the company, immediately said the bill was ridiculous, unless, she laughed, "you are heating the neighborhood." She was charming and helpful, suggesting I take a new reading and call National Fuel as that is where they get their information. A call to National Fuel was less than satisfying as the gentleman told me the company would have to reread the meter and the next available day that could happen would be March 11 — coincidentally the day the bill is due. After trying to explain my plight and the help Sue had assured me I would receive, his reply was: "The next available appointment is March 11." When I called Sue back, she was appalled at the lack of help I'd received, said she would put a note on my account and I was not to pay the bill until it is resolved. National Fuel needs to train its people to be more user-friendly.

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Great news for St. Francis of Assisi School as the combined efforts of the students, faculty, parents, alumni and friends who wore their fingers out sending in votes for Andy Parker's Weather Machine contest: Andy Parker, weather forecaster at Channel 2, came to the school last Monday to announce the news to the entire school body that it won the contest. Cheers, shouts and high-fives greeted his announcement. Congratulations to all! By the way, the school won by a large margin — no surprise there.

Speaking of St. Francis, Tom Joyce, who graduated in 1978, said his grandfather graduated from St. Francis in 1908 and his daughter in PreK 3 is now a fourth generation to attend the school.

"I'm so impressed with the Smart Boards and the state-of-the-art equipment." Tom is a high school teacher who said his school doesn't even have what St. Francis has.

John Long, also a graduate, said he'd like to tell the diocese "to take a hike" with regard to Catholic Charities. "Closing the school goes beyond dumb by 20 percent. They'd kill off this part of the diocese. The only thing they understand is money."

Theresa Roma, on the other hand,is taking a pro-active step in this mess.

"I just read your article regarding being fed up with the diocese and couldn't agree more. I've created an event: www.hatsoffgala.com to celebrate the careers of the 195 faculty/staff affected (by closing 10 schools.) I shouldn't be too surprised that the diocese is not supporting the event. I am a product of Catholic schools from PreK through 12th-grade. I am looking to give back to the unsung heros — the faculty and staff. My intentions are to host this event annually to help sustain Catholic schools in WNY. I am determined to make this night a success ... with or without the diocese's support."

The best quote of the day came from Claudia Brown, whose children attend St. Francis, and who wrote a great letter to the editor published on Friday.

"St. Francis is a small school with the heart of a lion."

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Janet McKenna, who many of you remember as general services librarian at the North Tonawanda Library emailed that a former colleague at the library told her of Helen Wilson's recent death.

"Helen was the high school librarian for decades," Janet wrote. "As a young woman she worked as a 'page' at the public library during World War II. Pages are the people who reshelve returned books and keep them in order on the shelves, fetch items for patrons, etc. When I compiled reminiscences for the NTPL centennial in 1993, Helen wrote a wonderful recollection of working at the Goundry Street library under Helen Van Voorhees Bentley. Not much money but very congenial. I first met Mrs. Wilson when I joined the NTPL staff, and we crossed paths for the next 42 years. She was a true professional."

Another death, that of Dorothy Knight, brought back some fond memories. For years, she lived at the same apartment house as my son. She was always cheerful and enthusiastic, enjoyed antiquing and estate sales (she found several things I had been looking for) as well as a wonderful baker and gardener. Condolences to her family.

Contact Community News Editor Barbara Tucker at barbara.tucker@tonawanda-news.com or 693-1000 ext. 4110.