Weekly Feature



2017-12-20 / Business

Work with CHA driven by passion for town

JEAN O’CONNELL
President Clarence Hollow Association

I would like to answer to those nameless individuals who responded to my November Bee column the next week in the Bee Heard. I seem to be the one to blame for various injustices. However, as the president of the Clarence Hollow Association, I am only the messenger. It was the entire board’s decision to let you know that the Town Board has continually denied our request to pay for July 4 fireworks.

However, it is easy to blame the person who has the nerve to let everyone know what is going on with the fireworks display. That is fine with me. I have been a lifelong resident of Clarence and have lived in the Hollow since I was 8 years old. Just as the unnamed individuals probably love this town, I love it just as much.

My association with town government goes all the way back to my employment as the first director of the Clarence Senior Center. When I was appointed to the position, the Clarence Rotary Club offered the center a free van to pick up seniors and bring them to the center and other appointments. I had volunteer seniors who would drive the van, and I requested funding from the town to pay for the insurance and fuel. Just as with the fireworks, it was not put in the budget.

I knew how important this was to the seniors and they did too. Many wanted to express that to the Town Board.

I rented a school bus that picked them up, and they went to the board meeting to express their opinions. As a result, the board put the funding in the budget, and that van (a newer version) is still running 30 years later.

The next big issue was the need for Meals on Wheels. I went to the supervisor at the time and asked for it to be put in my budget, with some of the cost provided by Erie County. His words to me were, “There is no need for that service; there are no poor people in Clarence.” I think that everyone knows that is not the reason for Meals on Wheels. Once again, after pressure, the board relented, and today, Meals on Wheels still services Clarence and Newstead.

Just as I am proud of those things, I am also extremely proud of what the CHA’s board of directors has been able to accomplish these past six years since I was elected president. To name some: the new Christmas lights, the replacement of flags every year, the makeover of a home and a business, planting and maintaining the flower container, the installation of the bike repair station on the bike path, the mural on the Hollow Bistro and, the soon-to-be-erected clock at the Farmers Market.

We also sponsor events such as the Scarecrow Festival and Hollowfest, and every year we award a $1,000 scholarship to a Clarence student who volunteered for CHA. A conservative estimate of $200,000 over the six years was put back by this board into making the Hollow a better place. We also generously turned over all of the assets of the Farmers Market to that organization.

To all who are reading this, I will keep working to make the Hollow a better place, and I hope everyone can see how much better it has become. There are many new restaurants and businesses that have opened or will open.

I look forward to working just as hard to keep the Hollow a place where everyone wants to live, work or recreate. I close by wishing everyone a happy new year and to let you know that my passion for what is right and just will never fail me.

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