By Larry Austin
Island Dispatch Editor
Grand Island senior citizens went to Town Hall Monday in numbers to insist the Town Board staffing needs at the Golden Age Center.
The board, which had deadlocked at a meeting two weeks earlier in votes pertaining to Golden Age Center staffing, reached a consensus on outstanding matters and voted to authorize the hiring of a full-time recreation attendant in the Golden Age Department. As Town Supervisor Nathan McMurray explained in a memo to the board, "This position is Civil Service non-competitive in the CSEA union. There will be two distinct 8-to-12-week periods of full-time staffing shortfalls this year into next year due to personal and health issues. Leaving this department to function utilizing only part-time minimum wage employees is a detriment to not only the programs but to those who utilize them. Additionally, 2018 is apt to bring a retirement of a longtime high-level employee. I request that advertising, interviewing and hiring of this entry-level position be approved now to alleviate the short staffing issues and transition the 2018 changes more smoothly.
"Your approval is requested for the following: Allowing the advertising, interviewing and then a recommendation to the Town Board of hiring a full-time recreation attendant in the Golden Age Department. This position is civil service non-competitive in the CSEA union grade 2, start step $15.53 per hour."
Councilman Ray Billica explained that there was at one time a full-time cook position at the GAC, but the job changed to recreation attendant. The board moved to change the permanent part-time cook into a recreated full-time cook position to permanently run and staff the kitchen.
The recreation attendant is not going away, but will be "more focused on programs and not have to worry about the kitchen," Billica said.
On the recommendation of Jennifer Menter, recreation leader/senior citizens, the board hired Suzanne Phillips, Kathryn Gilmore and Eric Meng, to fill three part-time openings in the GAC kitchen, where staff turnover has been frequent. Their titles would be recreation attendant. In making the hires, the board established a new step on the salary schedule, calling it step 1A. The board was reluctant to increase the pay rate at step 1, as it would have affected the pay of approximately 47 other recreation attendants in the town.
In other GAC issues, the board hired Molly Vigrass to fill the part-time opening of van driver for the GAC. Vigrass currently works for the Parks Department.
In a memo to Town Clerk Pattie Frentzel, Councilman Mike Madigan asked for a motion "to place on hold the collection of all Grand Island Golden Age Center van service user fees without any disruption to the ongoing service provided. Their current fee structure requires review by the Grand Island Town Board."
•The board set a public hearing for 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 5, to receive citizen input on a water system capital improvement project. The project calls for installation of approximately 9,350 linear feet of new 12-inch PVC transmission water main along Staley Road at an estimated cost of $1,330,000 to be financed by the issuance of serial bonds.
•The board voted to extend the employment of Town Engineer John Whitney while his replacement is sought. Whitney will retire effective Aug. 30. McMurray recommended to the Town Board to authorize the rehiring of Whitney on a part-time basis not to exceed 19 hours per week "to facilitate the transition and training in the Engineering Department with particular attention being paid to the Water and Wastewater departments."
The board voted 5-0 to hire Whitney to the position of town engineer on a part time basis effective Sept. 1 at a "rate of pay to be consistent with the rate of his position with the Town of Grand Island on the date of his retirement, which is $49.19 an hour."
•In a memo to the Town Board, Town Clerk Patricia Frentzel said the Town of Grand Island has applied for and has been awarded a grant of $49,972 that will allow the town to centralize all of the town human resource and payroll records on to the town's existing program. "The first phase of this grant will be to transport the records to the vendor for scanning/destruction followed by staff training on the software, and final implementation of the application in early spring of 2018," Frentzel said.
"We have received the first payment from the State of New York and have received permission to move forward on the project," Frentzel wrote.
•Bob Westfall, assistant municipal engineer, requested and received a motion to accept the dedicated lands in Gun Creek subdivision, off Whitehaven Road, Phase 1, subject to approval of the town attorney and town engineer.
•Tom Dworak, Parks Department crew chief, requested and received approval to hire Robert Arsenault as a parks junior worker part time for 19 hours at $10.10 per hour and Joseph Killian as senior parks worker to status change to seasonal 40 hours at $12 per hour.
•The board hired Susan Bridenbaker as a school crossing guard at the rate of $21.52 subject to the completion of all necessary paperwork. School starts Sept. 5.
Town to Hold Second Meeting on Possible Community Center
The Town of Grand Island will hold a second community center planning meeting with residents from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 31, in the Grand Viking Theater of Grand Island High School, 1100 Ransom Road.
The town government and the consultants for the town, Clark Patterson Lee, who are conducting a feasibility study on a possible community center, will report on the findings for the first meeting held last month.