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Tuesday, July 8, 2014 at 1:16 pm

Sen. Schumer proposes name for new WNY Veterans Cemetery

post by Julia Ferrini in pembroke, Sen. Schumer, Veterans Cemetery

With a vast meadow in the heart of Pembroke stretching before him, Sen. Charles Schumer envisioned its new purpose. "We stand in front of hallowed ground," he said.

The site has been selected for a new Western New York Veterans Cemetery. This was Schumer's first visit to the location since it was chosen.

“With so many thousands of local veterans,” Schumer continued, “it was an insult to Western New York not to have a National Veterans Cemetery close for loved ones to pay their respects.”

The 132-acre parcel located at Route 77 and Indian Falls Road, Pembroke, is about 100 miles closer to Western New Yorkers than its sister in Bath, Steuben County.

At a gathering Monday, Schumer, alongside former military members and their families, proposed the new site to be named after local war hero William J. “Wild Bill” Donovan. 

“ ‘Wild Bill’ Donovan is a true Western New York Hero,” Schumer said. “I cannot think of any better way to commorate his life and honor our region’s veterans than by naming the Western New York Veterans Cemetery the ‘General William Donovan Western New York Veterans’ Cemetery.' ”

However, not all veterans received the proposed name with enthusiasm.

“Placing a name on a building is nice,” Joy Joyce, Oakfield-Alabama American Legion Post 626 vice commander, said. “But what makes this general any more important than other veterans?” 

“It doesn't matter who it's named for, it’s what it stands for,” said Vietnam Veterans of America New York State Council Western District Director Ted Wilkinson. “General Donovan is a respected man and deserves to be recognized. He should be an inspiration for people to come here.”

“I look at it as, by giving (the cemetery) an individual name, it gives it a tourist-attraction appeal,” said veterans advocate Patrick Welch. “By using a name, it will give people an opportunity to do the research; it's a way to honor an individual. From a historical standpoint, Donovan’s career (and its impact) spans the 1800s to the 21st Century.”

Donovan was born to immigrant parents in Buffalo, and attended St. Joseph Collegiate Institute and Niagara University. He remains the only American to earn all four of the highest military awards in the United States: The Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal, and the National Security Medal. Furthermore, he earned the Silver Star and Purple Heart, as well as honors from several other nations for his service during both World War I and II.

Additionally, Donovan founded the Office of Strategic Services, currently known as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). 

“We are alive today because of Bill Donovan,” Schumer said. “People don’t realize it, but praise God there hasn’t been another terrorist incident that succeeded like the one on 9/11. That’s because our CIA, as well as our NSA, our Navy SEALs, and all of our armed forces have done a great job.

“(The terrorists) have tried,” he continued. “Believe me, I read the intelligence documents. I know. But because these people (CIA) are so good and unknown ... people don’t know one tenth of what they know, and it all started with Bill Donovan.”

In addition to the 132 acres currently procured, Robert and Frances Haegar have offered their 60-acre plot of land adjacent to the cemetery -- to enlarge the site to the 200 acres originally wanted. Robert Haegar is a 30-year veteran with the Navy Reserves.

“The land was my grandfathers farm,” Frances Haegar said. “It needs to have a purpose. We can’t do anything with it and it hurts me to see it go wild. It feels great for the land to be used for a veterans' cemetery.

“My father helped with this land. I spent my childhood here,” she continued. “It is a pretty site and it needs something to put it back to a nice site.”

The 60 acres will not only increase the size of the cemetery, but will also allow for better access.

“Hopefully we will live long enough to see this completed,” she said.

According to Schumer, the hope is that groundbreaking will take place at some point next year and 2016 for the first veteran to be interned.

“There is an old saying,” Wilkinson said. “Never judge a vet by the medals on his chest.”

Friday, June 27, 2014 at 10:22 pm

Pembroke youngsters selling 'Kool-Aid for Cancer' this summer

post by Howard B. Owens in pembroke

A group of young go-getters in Pembroke are doing what a lot of children do in the summer -- setting up a lemonade stand, but these kids aren't aiming to build a fortune. They're trying to raise funds to support cancer research.

Making the pitch for your donations by selling Kool-Aid, iced tea, lemonade and bottled water are Abigail Wasielewski, Alyssa Klecker (bother of Austin Heinemean who has been in the news before because of his fight to beat cancer), Zachary Wasielewski (also Austin's brother) and Alexandria Wasielewski.

The youths will be set up periodically throughout the summer at 2337 Main Road, Pembroke.

All proceeds will be donated to Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

Photo and information submitted by Steven Wasielewski.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at 10:38 pm

Photos: Annual strawberry social at Indian Falls Methodist Church

post by Howard B. Owens in indian falls, indian falls methodist church, pembroke

Indian Falls Methodist Church hosted one of our county's great annual community events today, their strawberry social, which includes a chicken BBQ and an auction.  Once again, a big turnout for this popular event.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at 9:46 am

Law and Order: Otis Street resident charged after child bitten by dog

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, bergen, byron, crime, Darien, Le Roy, pembroke

Tami L. Mileham, 40, of Otis Street, Batavia, is charged with a prohibited nuisance. Mileham's Rottweiler allegedly bit a 9-year-old child. The Rottweiler was seized and is currently being held at the Genesee County Animal Shelter.

Kathleen E. Gonzalez, 52, of West Main Street, Batavia, is charged with issuing a bad check. Gonzalez is accused of issuing a bad check March 11. She turned herself in on an arrest warrant and posted $500 bail.

Markeda D. Starks, 23, of Campbell Street, Rochester, is charged with harassment, 2nd. Starks was arrested on a warrant by State Police in Canandaigua stemming from an alleged incident at 9:05 p.m. June 16 in which Starks shoved another person during an argument. Starks was turned over to Batavia PD and arraigned on the charge and posted $300 bail.

Willie J. Miles Jr., 50, of Aberdeen Street, Rochester, was arrested for alleged failure to appear. Miles was jailed on $2,500 bail.

Jerica J. Barber, 39, of Mix Place, Batavia, is charged with criminal tampering, criminal mischief, resisting arrest and endangering the welfare of a child. Barber allegedly committed the crimes of criminal tampering and criminal mischief (no details given) at 4:37 p.m., June 14. Barber allegedly resisted arrest in the presence of a child under age 17.

Eric John Betz, 31, of Genesee Street, Alden, is charged with disorderly conduct/obscene language/noise. Betz allegedly screamed obscenities during a domestic dispute in a public place at 440 Ellicott St., Batavia, at 9:34 p.m. on June 17.

Cheryle Jones, 32, of Batavia, is charged with driving while ability impaired by drugs and consuming alcohol in a motor vehicle. Jones was also charged under Leandra's Law with aggravated DWI. Jones was stopped by Ontario County Sheriff's deputies on Route 5 in Canandaigua for an alleged traffic violation. (Source)

Nicholas R. Graves, 18, of 7317 Griswold Road, Bergen, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child. Graves is accused of having sexual contact with a child under age 17 in the Village of Le Roy. Graves was arraigned and ordered to stay away from the victim.

Benjamin P. Hilton, 25, of 25 Bacon St.. Apt. E, Le Roy, is charged with criminal mischief, 4th. Hilton is accused of intentionally breaking the window of a business on Mill Street on Saturday.

Heather Ann Johnson, 41, of Calla Way, Cheektowaga, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or higher, inadequate lights, driving left of pavement markings in no passing zone and refusal to take breath test. Johnson was stopped at 11:53 p.m. Tuesday on Genesee Street, Darien, by Deputy Jason Saile.

Joseph Jonathan Kuzma, 34, of Byron Holley Road, Byron, is charged with petit larceny. Kuzma is accused of stealing money from his employer in Bergen.

Daniel S. Curry, 36, of Webster, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana and driving while using mobile phone. Curry was stopped at 11:40 p.m. June 16 by State Police on Route 77, Darien.

Thursday, June 19, 2014 at 6:30 pm

Tractor-trailer's cab ablaze on Alleghany Road by the Thruway toll booth

post by Billie Owens in Alabama, corfu, east pembroke, fire, indian falls, pembroke

A fully involved cab fire is reported on a tractor-trailer at 8480 Alleghany Road, near or at the Thruway on/off ramp. Pembroke and Indian Falls fire departments are responding along with mutual aid from Corfu and East Pembroke.

UPDATE 7:32 p.m.: Alabama's tanker is requested mutual aid to the scene.

UPDATE 7:57 p.m.: Pembroke command calls for a pallet of absorbent material.

UPDATE: Photo and video submitted by Amber Winters.

Monday, June 16, 2014 at 4:49 pm

Law and Order: Perry woman accused of impersonating sister when arrested at Dave Matthews concert

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, byron, corfu, crime, Darien, pembroke, perry

Kaitlyn Mackenzie Hayes, 20, of Lake Street, Perry, is charged with criminal impersonation, 2nd, and trespass. Hayes allegedly impersonated her sister to reenter Darian Lake Performing Arts Center during the Dave Matthews concert Wednesday. It was later found that she allegedly used a false identification, her sister, at the time of her arrest.

Justin M. Wotherspoon, 27, of West Main Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt, 1st. Wotherspoon allegedly had physical contact with a person in violation of a court order. Wotherspoon was jailed without bail.

Danielle Marie Stevens, 37, of Ford Road, Elba, is charged with grand larceny, 4th. Stevens is accused of stealing the wallet of a WIC employee who was assisting her. Stevens was jailed on $10,000 bail.

Christopher Free Bragg, 28, of Genesee Street, Corfu, is charged with petit larceny. Bragg is accused of shoplifting from Walmart. 

Richard Michael Wroblewski, 61, of Williamstowne, Cheektowaga, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater and speeding (70 in a 55 mph zone). Wroblewski was stopped at 8:10 p.m. Friday on Clinton Street Road, Stafford, by Sgt. Greg Walker.

Cody James Hinchey, 27, of Reed Road, Churchville, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater and speeding. Hinchey was stopped at 1:19 a.m. Saturday on Byron Holley Road by Deputy Joseph Corona.

Richard Henry Forman, 64, of Ellinwood Road, Corfu, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater and failure to keep right. Forman was reportedly involved in a motor-vehicle accident at 3:01 a.m. Friday on Genesee Street, Pembroke. The accident was investigated by Deputy Joseph Corona.

Monday, June 16, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Closing ceremonies for the Cost of Freedom Memorial Wall

post by Julia Ferrini in Closing Ceremony, park, pembroke

Albion native Charles Nesbitt spoke eloquently at Sunday's closing ceremonies for the Cost of Freedom Memorial Wall at Pembroke Town Park. Nesbitt was a UH1H (Huey) helicopter pilot flying with the 57th Assault Helicopter Company in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. He served in the Armed Forces for 10 years. In addition to earning the Air Medal with 26 oak leaf clusters, he recently received the distinguished Flying Cross award for heroism. 

“When I first went to the Vietnam Wall in Washington (D.C.) and walked down the ramp it felt like the wall was engulfing me,” Nesbitt said. “It felt as though it was going to crush me.”

The names on the Cost of Freedom Wall aren’t just names. They are fathers and brothers, mothers and sisters. Every single one of them laid down their life, giving the ultimate sacrifice for their fellow man. Every one of those names, forever etched in stone, belonged to a person, a comrade, a friend. 

Regardless of party affiliation or beliefs, these men and women are recognized and honored as heroes for these United States of America.

Sunday, June 15, 2014 at 9:05 am

Remembering fallen firefighters

post by Julia Ferrini in Cost of Freedom, firefighters, pembroke

Firefighters who have fallen in the line of duty were honored Saturday at Pembroke Town Park as part of the four-day Cost of Freedom event held in Pembroke. Genesee County Fire Coordinator Timothy Yaeger applauded those men and women of courage who give unselfishly in aid of others and remembered those who have lost their lives.

Good, reliable firefighting equipment is of course essential. And there are times when that equipment has just as much of a story to tell as those who fight the fires. In this case, it is South Byron’s Rescue 88 vehicle.

“Rescue 88 was just about brand new with the Floral Park Fire Department in Long Island,” Scott Blossom said. “This vehicle was there, on that day, at ground zero.”

The Long Island Fire Department was retiring this truck out of service when South Byron Fire Department was looking to add an ambulance to its inventory.

“This truck was donated. All we had to do was go pick it up,” the Assistant Chief of South Byron Fire Department said. 

Not only did this truck serve New York City on Sept. 11, 2001, this vehicle was also used to bring a life into the world.

“Floral Park (Fire Department) has this neat tradition. They place a stork sticker, with a pink or blue blanket, on their rescue vehicle if a child was born in the ambulance,” Blossom said. “I often wonder how long after 9/11 that baby girl was born in this vehicle.

“Oftentimes, ambulances are on a scene because someone has left this world,” Blossom continued. “I thought it was neat that this one was also used to bring someone into this world.”

In addition to the stork emblem, the ambulance also has an insignia of the badge of one of the Floral Park paramedics who lost his life Sept. 11.

“We’ve had this ambulance for about four or five years now. She’s finally coming up on 50,000 miles,” Blossom said. “She’s a special girl for us.”

Sunday, June 15, 2014 at 9:00 am

Remembering Fallen Police Officers

post by Julia Ferrini in pembroke, police

Ceremonies were held Friday to honor those police officers who have died in the line of duty. Representatives from the state and county were on hand to give tribute to their fallen comrades at Pembroke Town Park.

Friday, June 13, 2014 at 6:35 pm

Opening ceremonies for Cost of Freedom Memorial Wall were 'awesome'

post by Julia Ferrini in American Legion Post 626, Memorial, pembroke, veterans

Monetary value cannot be placed on the cost of freedom. It has been, and continues to be, paid with the blood, sweat and tears of a nation’s people. 

Opening ceremonies for the Cost of Freedom Memorial Wall were held Thursday at Pembroke Town Park. Kicking off the day’s events was Bobbie Metcalf’s stirring rendition of the National Anthem. Then retired Army Brigadier General Frank Cipolla spoke briefly of the number of men and women who have lost their lives during times of war. He further spoke of the strength of Americans.

While the Vietnam Memorial Traveling Wall had made an appearance in Western New York in 2010, the Cost of Freedom Memorial Wall is making its first debut in the area. This monument commemorates every veteran that has fought and died in battle from the Revolutionary War up to and including the war in Afghanistan. 

“This wall commemorates every veteran (who) has fought and died for our freedom,” said Timothy Burch, a member of the Oakfield-Alabama American Legion Post #626. “Including firefighters, policemen and first responders of 9/11.”

The memorial spans the length of almost two football fields, resembling the Wall in Washington, D.C.. A permanent monument, donated by Galley Monuments, Batavia, has been set at the site as tribute to fallen soldiers. In addition, the American Legion opened a contest to local schools and asked the question, "What does the cost of freedom mean to you?". Of those who participated, Abby Shaw, of Pembroke, won the contest and her poem titled "The Cost of Freedom" is inscribed on one side of the stone. 

“I’m very excited to be a part of this event,” Burch said. “I joined the Legion almost a year ago and I fell into this face-first. I wanted to be involved. I have an emotional attachment to those who have volunteered to serve during wartime. Both my grandfathers served, as well as my father.”

“So many people from the community are involved in this,” said Joe Joyce, vice commander of Post 626. “It’s amazing.”

According to Joyce, bringing the memorial to the area was almost two years in the making. Donations and fundraisers were held to generate enough capital to make it happen.

“Not one person turned me down when we (the Legion) asked for a donation,” Joyce said. “The response from the community was outstanding.”

“This display will educate people to really show what the cost of freedom is,” Burch said, “and shows how many people sacrificed their lives so that we remain a free country.

“My uncle’s name is on this wall. He died in Korea,” Burch continued. “My service was insignificant by way of comparison to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. They should be honored every day.”

According to the American Veterans Traveling Tribute -- the organization whose mission is to bring the Cost of Freedom Tribute and The Traveling Wall to as many communities as possible -- this event is the first to hold separate days to honor each service area.

“We are setting a precedence for the wall. We are making history with this event,” Burch said.

Alan Myers, a World War II veteran, said, “It’s awesome, isn’t that what the young people say, really emotional, to be involved in this event. It makes people aware of just what the military goes through.”

Myers, who served three years with the 13th Defense Atlantic Fleet, led the motorcade Wednesday with his quarter-ton World War II jeep. According to Myers, the jeep he was driving came off the line the day Pearl Harbor was attacked and was also used during the war. 

In addition to the memorial, displays throughout the grounds include a tribute to the attack on the Twin Towers, as well as, information on each branch of the military and police and firefighters. The four-day event itself is free, however, donations will be accepted to help defray the cost of bringing the wall to the area.

“When you listen to our National Anthem, I mean really listen,” Burch said. “It was written during the Revolutionary War during after a long battle. Francis Scott Key was simply writing about what he was seeing at that time (the bombarding of the American forces at Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore on the night of Sept. 13–14, 1814). That’s war. That’s the cost of freedom.”

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