By Mike Pidanick
After nearly a century of service, the Rotary Club of the Tonawandas will soon be no more. But the organization is determined to make sure it will not be forgotten.
The club will cease activity forever effective June 30 after being a staple in the communities for 99 years. And it plans on emptying its strong bank account to help the area one last time.
"It's with a saddened heart that after 99 years, we just couldn't keep it going, even just for one more year to reach 100," Club President Bill Miles said during Tuesday's City of North Tonawanda Common Council meeting.
"Good news is we have a lot of money," he added. "We have a foundation that has been built over the years and one thing we wanted to do was leave a lasting memory of the Rotary Club of the Tonawandas."
The donations included a $7,500 contribution to the Children's Remembrance Gardenwalk in North Tonawanda and the same amount to the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 77 for the Bell AH-1 Cobra helicopter at Niawanda Park. The Rotary Club also donated $5,000 to the Salvation Army for a much-needed new refrigerator and another $5,000 to the United Way. Mayor Arthur G. Pappas opened the meeting with a proclamation in honor of the Rotary Club.
"The Rotary Club of the Tonawandas has been committed to making our community better," Pappas said.
The Rotary Club received three ovations during Tuesday's 45-minute meeting at City Hall. It started in 1917 and held its most recent meetings on Tuesday mornings. But with numbers dwindling, it became time to shut things down.
"In a small community in the Tonawandas, there are 37 service organizations - we don't have the population to help those organizations continue to go," Miles said. "They're all struggling to keep membership going and that's what happened to us. Our membership was people that owned businesses or lived in the Tonawandas and don't anymore."
In other news, the Common Council unanimously voted to approve the award of a contract with NFP and Sons Construction Company to take on the latest portion of the ongoing storm separation project, this one on Christiana Street, between Payne Avenue and Vandervoort Street. The lowest of seven bids was $112,232.25.
"It's a very reputable company," City Engineer Dale Marshall said of NFP and Sons, which has done several recent projects in the city and was willing to take on this at a favorable price for NT. Marshall said the price is "Good for us. I think we can stretch those dollars for further projects."