Wheatfield Supervisor and Councilman receive high praise from town
By David Yarger
As the calendar begins to change to 2018 and the season begins to turn to winter, things will also be changing in the Town of Wheatfield.
In front of a good crowd at the Town of Wheatfield Town Hall Monday night, Supervisor Bob Cliffe and Councilman Arthur Gerbec partook in their final meeting as members of the Town Board.
The night was an emotional one, as board members, department heads and citizens took time to share thanks for the duo's effort they brought to the board.
Every department head in attendance praised Cliffe and Gerbec with thanks for the help they'd given during their time on the board.
At the end of the meeting councilmen Larry Helwig, Gilbert Doucet, Randy Retzlaff and Town Clerk Kathy Harrington-McDonell each gave a warm message to Cliffe and Gerbec.
Helwig said, "About eight and a half years ago the town was in dire straits with our budget and we were looking for someone to run for supervisor. I really want to thank Bob Cliffe for vacating his judgeship and taking a seat on the Town Board, because we really needed his help at a time where Wheatfield could use some help. ... Supervisor Cliffe I thank you for stepping in and taking that challenge."
Doucet said, "Bob and Art, thank you very much for everything. Bob, thank you for the direction you took us in. It was always a pleasure working with both of them. We had discussions on things and even if we didn't agree, those two were always listening to what everyone had to say and work it out. It's been a pleasure working with both of you."
Retzlaff said, "I'm the new guy here. Thank you very much for your time. Bob took me around four years ago in the primary and I knew a little bit of Bob and he really knows this town and every awards banquet he's at, every event that's happening he's at, and he really put a lot of time, heart and soul and I thank Bob and Art, thank you, also for your time and it's been enjoyable."
McDonell said, "It was a pleasure working with both of you over the years with everything we've done and thank you for everything you've done for the Town of Wheatfield."
During Town Board member items, Gerbec and Cliffe praised their coworkers and everyone within the town.
"I want to thank you folks out there in the public for giving me the opportunity to become a councilman. I've enjoyed my nine years being on the board, especially with the gentlemen up here, Supervisor Cliffe, Larry Helwig, Gil Doucet, Randy Retzlaff, in addition to Matt (Brooks) and Kathy too, because they're like part of the family that's up here," Gerbec said. "They're all very supportive and I've had a good time with them. They listen to you and actually have fun doing what we do."
Cliffe said, "There's so many people to thank I can't start or finish anywhere. ... Everyone of the department heads ... the work that they do, they truly show they love this town and love their job and they make life easy on someone like me. Ed Mongold (budget director), I don't know what I'd do without him. ... We probably wouldn't have gotten out from underneath the hole we were in without his assistance. ...The volunteers ... there's 35-40 different volunteers that any moment in time have been working for the benefit of the town, not for their own benefit.
"Firemen... I don't know where the town would be without them, so I appreciate all of them. More than anything, I appreciate the confidence of all the folks of Wheatfield. Campaigns are hard. They're an awful lot of work. They're one of the reasons why most people don't want to run. It's a very difficult thing... It's been a pleasure. Like all things, they come to an end. I told the guys eight years ago I would be here for a maximum of eight years and I stayed that long. It's time for other ideas, it's time for another person."
At the end of public input, Town Historian Justin Higner shared his gratefulness for the duo.
He said, "It was Bob who brought me up as a possible successor (for town historian) and it's been a real pleasure so far. I wanna wish you and Art a very long life to come and wish you the best of luck on your retirements."
In around eight years, Cliffe and Gerbec have been together to help the Town of Wheatfield step in the right direction, and when they look back, they agreed, the job the board did as a whole is something they wouldn't forget.
"There is so many things to remember; the good times and the bad," Cliffe said. "Running for office is just so hard. The first time I ran for office was the toughest I ever had. Working with people of Wheatfield, knocking on the doors and seeing all different areas of people, learning the town; once you get into the supervisor's position everything changes. Instead of people coming to you, you go to them, but there have been many things that we have accomplished and many things that still have work to go. As supervisor, No. 1 you have to listen, go talk to your experts, talk to board members, make decisions and do what you can."
Cliffe noted, bringing back the Picnic Committee was one thing that stands out to him, because it was one of the very first things he did, and it was one of the best.
Gerbec said, "I was quite of impressed with the amount of latitude and power these offices offer to us. By that, I mean we make decisions that affect everyone's lives in our community. Here we are, residents ourselves, doing what we feel is best for our friends, our residents. That to me had carried so much importance, and I would say if there's one thing: we always did what we thought was for the best for the residents of the Town of Wheatfield."
Both said the town is on the correct path and has a bright future ahead, and they thanked the citizens of the town.
Cliffe said, "Thank you for having confidence in me. I hope you continue working with these great people all during Don's reign and I think Wheatfield has a lot more to give. I think it's got a very good future. We have good school systems. Niagara-Wheatfield and Starpoint are great school systems and I think we have a good future and hopefully I had a small part in getting there."
Gerbec said, "I think they need to realize that folks that take these offices here are totally 100 percent dedicated to the welfare of the people of Wheatfield. They want to better everything and anything for the people that want to live in this community."
The duo also agreed that not seeing the same faces everyday is going to take some getting used to, and they'll miss the surrounding people.
"Being with people. Sitting there watching TV at night isn't the way to go. Once you've gone out and about seeing all the people in court and now seeing all the other people through Town Hall, that's gonna be a big change; not seeing the same people everyday at work or worst, sitting home and doing nothing," Cliffe said.
Gerbec said, "The camaraderie. I enjoyed being with the group up here and all the departmental people that made it the center nucleus of the town and working with them. You have to have a little levity now and then, I just think the camaraderie and the companionship of it and the assurance by them that we were doing the right thing at the right time."
Gerbec added he will still be around the town in a lower role, but he felt the time was right to pass the torch on for new ideas.
Cliffe said the retirement is from politics and he has no plans on returning to any political role, saying it's time to move on to different things. Aside from a job at Helmel, Cliffe took a tax course and plans on doing some taxes to be around and work with people.
In other news, the board approved to change the zoning code of 46 acres of land in the Woodland Corporate Center Expansion from M-1 to Planned Unit Development. The rezoning had been discussed for a while now, and the move will give LI2 Holdings the chance to implement their plan of patio homes in the area.
The board also announced a security fence was installed at the Nash Road landfill.
The Town Board also held a public hearing before the regular board meeting on the Jacobs Ladder Project. Jacobs Ladder is a cardio machine for fitness enthusiasts and while the company has added several products to its line of sales, the company is currently located in the old Motorad building at 6292 Walmore Road. Helwig praised the work of Jacobs Ladder.
"They have a very professional atmosphere and staff and technique in the way they market all of their products. They're making all their payments ... they seem to be doing well and they've added the number of jobs they said they would add and they're making money," Helwig said.
Later in the meeting, the board approved a motion to accept the completed PIP improvements for pavement and curbs, storm sewer, sanitary sewer and waterline for the Ashwood Subdivision, Phase Four.
Cliffe began the meeting noting a friend and Justice Court Judge John J. Mattio recently passed away. Cliffe said the two were partners before for several years in the town court, and that he will be missed.
The meeting concluded with town officials and citizens enjoying a cake that said, "Thank you Bob and Art for your dedication."
The town is holding an inauguration ceremony at the Community Center on New Year's Day, at noon. The Don MacSwan era begins quickly after the inauguration, as two days later the Town Board will hold a reorganization meeting at 5 p.m. in Town Hall.