Drug testing program approved for town employees
by Susan Mikula Campbell
The Town of Niagara now will officially be a drug-free and alcohol-free workplace.
The Town Board on Tuesday approved signing of a two-year contract with WNY Occupational Health Care to provide drug testing services. It also approved the appointment of Harvey Albond as consultant and compliance officer for the program at $100 an hour, not to exceed $3,000.
Having a drug-free workplace "is a goal I've had since day one," said Town Supervisor Steve Richards.
Richards noted that Albond was instrumental in getting the previous federal Department of Transportation requirement for testing of commercial drivers negotiated into the union contract. "Now it's in the contract for the whole place."
Albond said he planned to set up a pool for random statistical sampling from each department for each quarter of the year. Supervisors of each department also will be trained on what to do if they detect somebody reporting to work under the influence of drugs and to provide routine testing of any town employee involved in an accident.
In other matters:
•The board approved changes to its March meeting schedule. Work sessions will be held on March 14 and 21. The regular monthly meeting will be on March 26.
•Richards noted that Roger Trevino of Niagara Falls Redevelopment brought three visitors from Mongolia to visit the Town of Niagara last week: Pagva Bira, Ph.D., chairman of the National Authority Police Force (Khuch) Bayanzurkh District, Mongolia, and Olympic champions Naidan Tuvshinbayar (judo) and Munkhsailhan Usukhbayar (wrestling).
The visitors were on a mission to promote free trade and were interested in the Town of Niagara because of the Niagara Falls International Airport, the town's plans to acquire the old Army base on Porter Road, and the availability of space around the airport, including 150 acres already designated "shovel ready," Richards said.
They exchanged gifts and "the chief (Town of Niagara Police Chief H. James Suitor) and I were invited to come to Mongolia," Richards said.
"Is that why we're changing our March meetings?" quipped Councilman Charles Teixeira.
•Richards noted that he had loaned a MIG welder from his automotive shop on Sweet Home Road to the town recently.
"If anyone sees them delivering it back to me, please don't call the FBI," he said, referring to recent news stories about he and other town officials being interviewed by the FBI, which he believes was politically motived.
•The board approved a resolution by Teixeira to make this Saturday, Feb. 21, Town of Niagara Lions Club Day in honor of the group's 60 years of service to the community.
•Elvis tribute artist Shawn Klush, who bills himself as "The Closest Thing to the King in Concert," performed at the town park last summer as part of the town's bicentennial celebration. Richards said Klush was No. 1 among the top five Elvis impersonators in the world featured on "The Late Show with David Letterman" last week and has been selected by Las Vegas to be the "King" for its upcoming celebration of the anniversary of Elvis' performing in Las Vegas.
•No one spoke at the public hearing prior to the meeting on Town Attorney Michael Risman's proposed amendment to the town's zoning code. The change in the B-1 business zoning allows additional uses (such as commercial offices and records storage) for older plazas and, in turn, provides more jobs, was approved.
•The board approved obtaining a bond anticipation notice and purchasing four Ford police vehicles from Delacy Ford (lowest bidder) for $110,976. The sale includes the trade in value of $7,700 for three of the department's outdated vehicles.
•The board approved a list of duties for the town project manager assigned to the town's Building Department as discussed last month.