Story and photos by Alice Gerard
The Grand Island Town Board issued two proclamations, both connected with the upcoming Independence Day parade and Dick Bessel Independence Day Run, at its June 27 meeting.
The first proclamation was issued in memory of Rick Schmitz II, who died March 2. It officially names the water station run by the Schmitz family since the 1990s for the Dick Bessel Independence Day Run the “Rick Schmitz II Memorial Water Station.”
According to the proclamation, read by Town Supervisor John Whitney, Schmitz was recognized as being a “beloved husband, father, grandfather, and leader of the water station.” The water station, according to the proclamation, has provided a valuable service to the community by offering runners “water, sprinkler stations, music and midrace enjoyment.” “The town,” Whitney said, “recognizes Rick Schmitz for his dedication to the community.”
Eric Volk, who works with Premier Sound, was recognized with the evening’s second proclamation as being an “announcer extraordinaire.” According to the proclamation, Volk has “dedicated ten years to announcing as DJ for the Fourth of July and the Dick Bessel Independence Day Run.” Volk was recognized for his “knowledge of Grand Island and the parade participants.”
“He has brought energy, excitement and laughter to the parade,” Whitney said. “By his own acknowledgement, he is here to announce the parade forever.”
In other news:
•Nicholas Cultrara was appointed to serve as full-time code enforcement officer, effective June 28.
•A community forestry plan was approved, following a tree inventory that was completed in the fall of 2021, by Lori Brockelbank and a team of arborists from Davey Resource Group. This tree inventory was funded by a grant from the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation. Brockelbank, who mentioned Davey Resource Group recently opened a new office on Grand Island, said 11,000 trees in town parks and right of ways were inventoried.
“We looked at what those trees give back to you, in terms of ecobenefits,” Brockelbank said. “Every year, those trees give back to the community over $25,000 in clean water, clean air, carbon sequestration. Also, if you went out today and replaced every one of those trees, you would have over $10 million. The value of those trees is close to $11 million.”
She pointed out elements of the newly approved forestry management plan include a planting plan, a storm plan, and an invasive species plan, in addition to the regular management plan. Brockelbank said the town has too many maple trees: “The key thing for the community is to stop planting maple trees.”
Brockelbank mentioned the spotted lanternfly, an invasive inspect species, has been seen in Western New York, and that it can cause a great deal of damage to maple trees.
“We want to reduce the risk of losing all of the trees at once,” Brockelbank said.
•Two public hearings were set for the July 18 Town Board meeting. The first is for preliminary plat approval for a minor subdivision at 859-891 East River Road. This minor subdivision consists of four lots. The second is for the establishment of the Town of Grand Island Strategic Planning Commission.
•A site plan, submitted by Brick Oven, 2457 Grand Island Blvd., to replace an awning with a permanent roof structure, was not approved. It was rejected by a vote of 3-2, with Councilmen Mike Madigan and Christian Bahleda voting in favor of the site plan, and Whitney and Councilmen Pete Marston and Tom Digati voting against it.
•The Town Board meeting scheduled for July 5 has been canceled, as was the workshop meeting. The next Town Board meeting is scheduled for 8 p.m. July 18 in the Town Hall courtroom.
Eric Volk, holding the proclamation, was honored for his work as “announcer extraordinaire” of the annual Dick Bessel run and the Independence Day parade. With him are his wife, Janet Volk, and his brother, Todd Lee.