By Benjamin Joe
On Tuesday, the City of North Tonawanda City Council was hit with a hurricane of emotion, testimonials and support during a very vocal public input session after all the motions and resolutions had been made and voted on by the council.
Unbeknownst to many, Mayor of the City of North Tonawanda Arthur Pappas had just been honored with a ceremony and plaque across the parking lot at Brauer Park.
“We wanted to have an unveiling, and a remembrance, in regards to Mayor Arthur Pappas and surprise him,” Third Ward Alderman Eric Zadzilka said. “… Art didn’t want this, he didn’t know about this, OK, but the council and the residents and the families involved that asked to go to a place to remember their lost sons and daughters of North Tonawanda, they came.”
“Art had lost some students that he knew in North Tonawanda, as well as, people coming to him and saying, ‘We’d like to have a place to remember the youth,’ … that have lost their lives too early for whatever reason,” Zadzilka continued. “So, we took it upon ourselves to have a little ceremony for Art. I wish the weather had held out, but I think, he’s not asking for recognition, but I wanted to applaud him for bringing the funding together; for bringing these families together; for bringing a committee together. These are the things Art Pappas did that brought everybody together to make this happen.”
Zadzilka then read the inscription that is on the plaque in the Children’s Garden to remain for as long as it can to commemorate Pappas and his work.
Focus Turns to Dog Control Officer
That was not the only item on the public’s mind, however. The story had been shared on Facebook hundreds of times over, they said, but no less than five residents stood up to speak on behalf of another man and his work. That man is Eric Salisbury, dog control officer for the City of North Tonawanda. More than a few people want him to be a budget priority.
Catherine Engle told an emotional story, breaking into tears at one point, for a man who was not in the room, but who had touched the heart of a community.
“I sustained three different punctures to the hip and a large abrasion where its teeth met and clamped down,” Engle told the board and audience of the circumstances in which Salisbury came into her life when a dog attacked her. After going home, she messaged Salisbury, who took her description of the dog and its owner, then told her to go to the hospital right away.
“I was administered a tetanus shot and provided a seven-day course of antibiotics,” Engle said. “I was told they would contact me in the morning. I messaged Rick, I told him I went to the ER.”
That was not the end of it for Engle, though. In order to determine whether or not Engle had been infected with rabies, the dog had to be found. Engle had a very sketchy description of the dog and owner and “the clock was ticking.” Without the dog, she would have to take a full course of rabies vaccine which is very painful, as well as, expensive. At 5 p.m. a tip was reported and Salisbury was at her door with a video of the dog’s owner verifying rabies shots were up to date for the animal.
“I burst into tears,” Engle said. “He found them! I don’t know how, because that tip was so vague, but he acted on it and got an answer!”
Zadzilka said that he’d had several conversations with Salisbury.
“He has done a wonderful job not only what he did with you, but we have many other stories and we’ve met with him several times and we are working on it,” Zadzilka said. “One of the things I asked him at the end of the meeting, ‘Was would it be something he could do full-time?’ and the answer was not a definite ‘Yes.’ So, we are looking at it to see if it can be a ‘Yes,’ but there are things in motion over the next several weeks that you’ll see, that will be steps in the direction of what you’re mentioning.”
John Stelianoe, the owner of a once-starving and severely abused animal, Sam-Sam, which made Salisbury a hero when he found her, also came to speak.
“Rick has done a lot. I’m the current owner of the dog who was in the news a few months ago, Sam-Sam,” Stelianoe said. “I’ve been a friend of Rick’s now for the last five months since this incident happened, and I can’t tell you how much he has put in in after-hours. He receives this dog on a Saturday evening; he followed up on the dog over the course of her rehabilitation. The dog visited our property on a Sunday morning; he got a call on a Sunday morning about a dog bite that he had to rush off to. We had a party a month ago for some of her fans to visit with the dog and while he was at that party he got another call for another dog bite that he had to rush off to. He certainly puts in more than a part-time time into his job. I hope you can consider if not bankers’ hours, 9 to 5, but a variable shift he can get reimbursed for the time he puts in.”
Other points of interest at the meeting was Alderman-at-Large Austin Tylec’s announcement that a “Complete Count Committee” should be created for the national Census in 2020.
“We’re looking to form a committee that will consist of individuals that are either really involved in the community or just want to get involved more,” Tylec said. “We’re looking for people who are advocating for people to take the census. There will be more information to come, but this is us forming an official committee that will be looking for members to participate, so, stay tuned there will be more information.”
The resolution was voted in unanimously.
Water/Sewer Superintendent Bill Davignon was asked to summarize to the public a resolution on water pipes.
“We’ve seen a couple lapses of judgment of a couple of contractors in the last year or so,” he said. “A couple of slip-ups where we went to inspect and they didn’t do everything that they should’ve done to the letter, so, we felt we wanted to codify it. We have added that language to 98-12 (installation of service lines).
“All it’s doing is making sure these people are chlorinating the lines and killing any bacteria that could’ve been there, just doing it all in a proper manner according to AWWA standards. Ninety-nine percent of them are really good, once in a while we have a problem so we just wanted to dot our I’s and cross our T’s.”
Davignon also briefed the board on lab fees, making it clear that the residents could forgo going to an outside lab and have the City do it instead for a fee.
Matthew Parish, city clerk/treasurer announced at there will be “Kid’s Parade” for Halloween, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19.
“You can bring your kids there, they can dress up, and there will be a parade,” he said. “There will be face-painting for anybody who’s not already dressed up, and a pumpkin decoration contest.
Other events included Oct. 22, when Alderman-at-large Bob Pecoraro and Parish will take a trip with the senior veterans of the community to Lockport to have a free pizza lunch and receive a ‘Thank-a-vet’ card.
“We have 25 spots and we only have two veterans signed up right now, so if anybody knows of any veterans who do not have their ‘Thank-a-vet’ card or their DD-214 on file with the county, encourage them to sign up,” Parish said. “This is a good opportunity.”
“Finally, on Oct. 24, some of you might have heard a story about Zach Campas,” Parish said. “Zach was treated by the Oishei Children’s Hospital as a child, he’s now a young man in his early 20s. He has taken it upon himself to collect cans and bottles and return them locally and give all the money back to the Oishei Children’s Hospital, which is a very cool thing, I thought. That being said, I didn’t think of the idea of how he was going about it was that great. He was having people just randomly come to his house or his parent’s house, I should say, and kind of contact him. I didn’t think it the safest idea or the most effective.
“So, my office in conjunction with the Neighborhood Watch, and the new nonprofit, grass-roots foundation are going to hold a bottle and can drive on Oct. 24 at the Youth and Recreation Department parking lot from 8-4 p.m. Feel free to come by, drop off your bottles and cans that day for Zach’s newly formed foundation.”