The Niagara County Patriots held their monthly meeting on Sept. 27 in the Wheatfield Community/Senior Center. Four guest speakers were invited to present their views, goals and opinions to a responsive gathering of more than 155 people.
John Ceretto, current Niagara County legislator and the Republican and Taxpayers Party candidate for the State Assembly's 138th District, simply stated he wants to make this area and all of New York a better place to raise a family and create a good job market to at least give families the option of not moving away. Ceretto's agenda would be to lower taxes, cut the size of government, install a state spending cap and fight for the STAR rebate program. The people he encountered campaigning door to door are horrified at the direction our government is taking, he said.
The second speaker, Don Hobel, acknowledged that in the course of following Niagara County government he became aware of a number of part time employees, legislators and lawyers. He obtained records showing that at least 20 lawyers, of 69 on the payroll, have private practices. The salaries of these part time lawyers range from $36,000 to $54,000 per year according to information taken from a July 2009 list. Hobel has tried to obtain time records for part time attorneys for the past year only to uncover the Niagara County Audit Department has no such records with the same reply from the Legislature Chairman Bill Ross and the county treasury department.
Mark Andol and Ricky Lee were the Patriot's special guest speakers for the evening. Andol is the owner and founder of the Made in America Store located in the Town of Elma just outside of East Aurora. Andol formed a business he started from his father's garage in 1984 and built General Welding & Fabricating into a four-plant operation with 53 employees. In 2008, he was forced to close two plants and lay off almost half of his workforce due to competition from manufacturing companies located in China, where there is an abundance of cheap labor, no stringent labor laws and barely any environmental and zoning restrictions, he said. His Made In America Store opened on April 3 with 50 products 100 percent made in the USA. Today, Andol sells more than 2,000 items totally made in America. Since the opening of the Elma store, his ideas and inspiration have caught the national media's attention. He has done a multitude of interviews, including 12 interviews in 14 days, and has received hundreds of phone calls regarding franchises, vendors and just people saying "thank you" for the interest in saving America. China is not only ruining the American economy but also Japan's, Russia's and the most of the world's, Andol said.
Joining Andol was country singer Ricky Lee from Altoona, Pa. Lee teamed up with Andol to record a music video, with the song especially written for the store, titled Made In America. His new CD, "Freedom," has $5 of every sale going to military assistance programs. He entertained the toe-tapping crowd with numerous songs, including "Standing Tall," relating to our flag, "Through the Years of Liberty," concerning the Statue of Liberty, and "An American Hero" dedicated to all veterans.
Andol and Lee announced that on June 11 of next year they will be hosting a concert at Holland Speedway and are hoping to obtain the world's largest flag-waving ceremony.
•At the next Niagara County Patriot's meeting, October 25, all statewide and local candidates have been asked to attend to present their agenda and goals to the audience. The meeting will include a question-and-answer period.