Weekly Feature



2015-12-30 / Local News

Hartzell’s exit from Town Hall top story of 2015

¦ A review of the year’s biggest news events
by STEVEN JAGORD
Editor

The story of the year for 2015 is arguably the Clarence Republican Party’s decision to break away from two of its established members — Supervisor Dave Hartzell and Councilman Bernard Kolber.

The face of town government will be forever altered as a result of that decision, and so will the choices the board makes going forward. As 2015 draws to a close, we take a look back at all of the top headlines that shaped Clarence the last 12 months.

January/February

A circa-1872 Salt Road farmhouse owned by David and Sarah Kraatz was granted historic landmark status.

Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger — famed for his “Miracle on the Hudson” landing of a USAirways jet — met with the families of the victims of Flight 3407. Sullenberger united with the families because he saw their efforts facing challenges in Congress.

The town Planning Department unveiled its Trailway Master Plan, a document aimed at providing a comprehensive vision for the entire trail system throughout the town.

Local fire companies united to clear the roof at Rapids fire hall after heavy snowfall and winds led to drifts as high as 5 feet.

March/April

About 200 Clarence staff members — alongside parents and students in the district — protested Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed new teacher evaluation guidelines, further tying a teacher’s performance to standardized test scores. Other people in the protest came out to voice their opposition to the gap elimination adjustment, a formula that reduces state aid to districts.

The Clarence Central School District decided to use additional state funds to bring back 11 teaching positions spread across all six Clarence school buildings.

”Discover Main Street” debuted to support the business community along Clarence’s main thoroughfare.

Thompson Brothers Greenhouse was denied its application, for a second time in nine months, for a variance to bypass town height restrictions and erect a 13-story wind turbine on its Clarence Center Road property. The state Department of Agriculture and Markets would later reverse the town Zoning Board of Appeals decision.

May/June

Voters in Clarence Fire District No. 1 approved a $1.5 million bond resolution to put toward a $3.5 million renovation and expansion of the district’s fire hall.

The Clarence Republican Party endorsed Councilman Pat Casilio Jr. for supervisor and Chris Greene for Town Council, snubbing incumbents Dave Hartzell and Bernard Kolber.

The Clarence Music Department celebrated the 50th anniversary of its annual concert at Kleinhans Music Hall in Buffalo.

Clarence native Nikki Dinki returned to the airwaves in the debut of “Junk Food Flip” on Cooking Channel, a sister channel of the Food Network. Dinki previously starred in Season 9 of Food Network’s “Food Network Star.”

Approximately 100 new structures were identified in a “reconnaissance level” survey of barn structures in town. The survey aimed to identify agricultural landmarks throughout town that may have been missed by the 2008 Clinton Brown survey, which was broader in scope.

July/August

Clarence Chamber of Commerce President Judy Sirianni announced she would be leaving her position after six and a half years at the helm of the organization.

Sen. Charles Schumer visited a collapsed section of Tonawanda Creek Road in Clarence while encouraging Congress to extend funding of the federal Highway Trust Fund.

Fire destroyed Carmine’s Italiano Restaurant, a mainstay of the Transit Road/Northtowns dining community for decades.

The town retained a law firm to defend its stance that Thompson Brothers Greenhouse shouldn’t be allowed a 13-story turbine.

Cobblestone Center Phase 2 — a proposed two-story mixed-use project on the grounds of an existing Sheridan Drive day care center — raised concerns of neighboring residents but would eventually receive concept approval.

September/October

Councilman Patrick Casilio Jr. defeated incumbent Town Supervisor David Hartzell Jr. by a 3-to-1 ratio in September’s Republican primary.

The Clarence Central School District and Clarence Teachers Association reached a new three-year contract deal.

The Erie County Sheriff’s Office sought information about the firebombing of a residence on Goodrich Road.

Comprehensive Plan 2025 was unveiled, meant to replace Master Plan 2015, which has helped town governing bodies make decisions — mostly related to development — for the past 14 years.

November/December

Patrick Casilio Jr. was officially elected the next supervisor of the Town of Clarence.

A 10,000-square-foot property in Spaulding Lake became a part of Assemblyman Michael Kearns’ “Bank Shaming Tour” of local zombie properties.

The Clarence Central School District began reviewing a new policy that would seek to more effectively accommodate students who identify as transgender.

Sen. Charles Schumer recommended Clarence High School graduate Kathleen Sweet to President Obama to serve as a judge in the U.S. District Court in the Western District of New York, making her the first woman to serve on the federal bench in Buffalo.

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