Bob Confer, vice president of Confer Plastics, lectured a capacity crowd at the Aug. 30 Niagara County Patriot's meeting.
Products made and warehoused in Confer Plastic's North Tonawanda and Wheatfield facilities are sold throughout North America and the world. Confer emphasized the financial burdens of doing business in New York state, let alone the various constraining ordinances, restrictions, laws and extra clerical work. Confer Plastics has to compete with similar companies located in other states and countries.
He cited many extra costs his company must overcome to be competitive, such as electricity in Western New York being double the cost in Ohio and Indiana, and workers compensation 43 percent higher, with the lowest amount paid back to workers. Property taxes are 57 percent higher than the major U.S. competitors with Niagara County rated consistently at No. 1 or 2. Electrical rates in New York are 62 percent higher than the national average and a gallon of New York gasoline has an extra 65-cent tax. School taxes are the largest property tax burden followed by Medicare costs, then special district taxes (listed on your county and town property tax bill.) Special district taxes in Niagara County are $675 more than if located in Tioga County.
Among Confer's proposals for lowering taxes is eliminating/consolidating at all levels of government, including school districts, and placing some type of payroll tax for education. He suggests de-emphasizing wind and solar energy until further technical advances, don't shutter nuclear power plants and allow hydrofracting for natural gas.
The next guest speaker was John Ranum, now a Montana resident, who was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1959 and became a guard of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery in May of 1960, where he served until being discharged in August 1961. He stated those months of service were his most proud moments of his life. The training was intense and guard duty was extremely regimented, precise and exact.
The tomb represented more than 10,600 who were lost during World War I, World War II and the Korean conflict.
Ranum is a founding member of the Society of the Guard, established in 1995. The Society of The Honor Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, tombguard.org, is a non-profit association organized expressly for and wholly committed to protecting and enhancing the welfare and image of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the soldiers who stand guard, past and present. The society works toward preserving and maintaining records, educating the public concerning the history of the tomb and the unknown soldiers, as well as the history of the guards who have stood watch over them since 1926. After the meeting, Ranum was escorted to view the replica of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier located in front of the Amvets Post on Ward Road.
The Patriot's gathering ended with a recording of Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" with the crowd standing and signing along.
Mark Andol, founder/owner of "Made in America" store in Elma will be the guest speaker at the Niagara County Patriot's Sept. 27 meeting, along with country singer Ricky Lee performing "Made in America." The Patriots meet at the Wheatfield Community Center at 7 p.m. For further information, call 731-3696.