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The Boston Town Board will never endorse political candidates

BOSTON — Town of Boston Supervisor Martin Ballowe said that Boston “does not and will never” endorse any particular political party.

According to the board, wording in a recent letter from Heidi Higgins, who is running for a seat on the Boston Board, led some to believe that the candidate had received endorsement from the board.

“We come from all different parties, but when we sit here, we come from no parties,” Ballowe said, during the Sept. 4 board meeting. “We make decisions on what’s best for the town of Boston; for 8,300 people who live in this town, period. We don’t discuss political backgrounds. We may disagree on how we’re going to do things or what’s the proper way to do them, but we don’t endorse.”

Higgins’s letter was turned over to Town Attorney Michael Kobiolka, who will handle the matter. A letter from Kobiolka to Higgins had not been returned, by the time of the board meeting. “It’s just confusing to the voter,” Kobiolka said, regarding Higgins’ letter. “It doesn’t represent what this town board does and can do and will do.”

“The town of Boston does not and will never – and I can check all the minutes; it’s not in the minutes anywhere, which I have checked – [endorse] candidates,” Ballowe said. “We just don’t; that’s not our job, nor will we ever. It’s just highly against everything the board’s supposed to do. You’re not supposed to do that.”

The supervisor said that, while board members can disagree about logistics and can discuss items before votes, “we just don’t endorse, nor have we ever. The town of Boston, as stated in this letter in bold print and signed by [Higgins], did not endorse this lady. We don’t.”

Ballowe said that the matter has been brought to his attention and a meeting was held about the issue, prior to the board’s assembling. “We all agreed on it, that we have not endorsed her,” he said. “I want it to be known and I want it on public record that we did not endorse her.”

Councilman Larry Murtha said that, while agreeing that the current wording of the letter is false and that the town cannot endorse candidates, the issue may be stemming from a typo. “Being a teacher and working with young people, I see young people make mistakes all the time,” Murtha said.

“Being a teacher, we must exercise patience to see the best of them come out and that goes for adults, too. We all do make mistakes and, looking over this, I’m wondering – and I have a strong opinion about this – that this isn’t just a typo and maybe we’re making something out of nothing. I think it would behoove someone to call Heidi and see if that wasn’t the case; if that’s all it was; that there was nothing to it [and] it was just a typo.” Ballowe said that this idea is why the letter was already discussed and turned over to the attorney. Kobiolka said that it would be appropriate for Murtha to contact Higgins.

In other board matters:
– Recreation Director Tony Zeniuk reported that this summer’s recreation program was a success. Ballowe said that Zeniuk did “an excellent job. [He] did exactly what he we thought he would do running this program.”

Via correspondence, Zeniuk reported that 170 kids participated in the day camp this summer, which included field trips to Old Fort Niagara, Lasertron, Darien Lake, Buffalo Zoo, Fantasy Island and Sky Zone. Other events included visits from all three local volunteer fire companies, the Niagara University Theater Group and a dental hygienist from the University of Buffalo, who gave dental hygiene supplies to the children. Zeniuk also reported that “the kids also participated in many sporting, arts [and] crafts activities, throughout six weeks.” The program concluded with a family fun day, which included a talent show.

This year’s summer day camp also saved money on transportation, according to Zeniuk. “Last year, the [recreation] program spent approximately $8,000 and, this year a contract with Fisher Bus saved approximately $2,800 over last year,” he said.

– The public hearing for the annual Community Development Block Grant was rescheduled to 7:40 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 2.

– Ballowe is working with local businesses to participate in the Waste Management rewards program. “It’s nice, because they have basically all national chains on there, but we are allowed to on there Bella [Pizza] and Brunner’s [Eatery] and restaurants and stuff in our town, so when you sign up for the Waste Management and receive those points for recycling, it’s a good thing,” he said. “It’s free money: free to spend at Bella’s or Brunner’s or anything in our town, which is nice, so it kind of keeps the money in our town ... supporting local business. So I’m going to be contacting more local businesses throughout our town to make sure everybody’s on that list and gets on that list.”

– Town/county snow plowing contracts for 2014 – 2016 were tabled, for the time being.

– Local resident Judy Ramos wrote a letter to Erie County Commissioner of Public Works John Loffredo, saying that she has “some concerns with the conditions of the county roads located within [Boston].”

Councilman Jay Boardway said, “That is kind of what we’re all about here, and to actually have a citizen kind of ... agree with us that something needed to be done and then actually take the action to do that is very commendable.”

He said that there has already been a response to Ramos’ correspondence. “They’ve been in contact with the supervisor, already,” he said. “They’ve asked for a list of the most serious conditions in town. Highway Superintendent [Robert] Telaak is involved in that. He’s very knowledgeable in where our problems are, so I do want to thank Ms. Rados for that letter and for stepping up like that.”

– Town Clerk Jennifer Mule’ reported that her office applied for and obtained a local government records management fund grant, which regarded “the converting of town board minutes, vital statistics and payroll records in the amount of $46,000.”

“I absolutely want to congratulate our town clerk and her office and her staff ... for obtaining that grant, $46,000,” Boardway said. “That’s fabulous. In anybody’s budget, that’s a big sum of money; in her budget, that’s a huge sum of money. [She] and I ... talked about all the potential disasters that could happen with our records that we are required to keep. I would like to congratulate them for being able to actually go after that money and get it. That’s kind of been a back door priority for us for a while, that something has to happen to secure those records. These records we have in this town hall are 100 years old and they cannot be replaced, so anything down there will be very helpful.”

– Boardway reported that, since the fire contracts were approved at the last town board meeting, the paperwork has been back to the fire companies. “I’ve heard nothing but positive things from the fire companies and the various people I’ve talked to from the three different companies,” he said, “so hopefully we’ll have those signed contracts back within the next week or so.”

– The Summer concert series ended on Aug. 27 and was “a great success,” according to Zeniuk. “We had good crowds for each concert, with exceptional crowds for the town of Boston band,” he reported, in a letter to Ballowe. “The concerts were free to all the town people, due to local sponsorship and a grant for $500 from Art Service Initiative of Western New York and the New York State Council of Arts.”

– The recreation department will still be active, even as the summer day camp program has concluded. “Friday night rec” will run from Nov. 8 – April 11, a time frame that includes five more dates than last year. “[Zeniuk] will be interviewing, if necessary, and putting together another great staff for Friday night rec with experienced and returning rec workers,” Ballowe said. “Staffing training will take place on Oct. 24 at the Boston Valley School and in attendance will be the Boston Valley School principal and custodial workers.”

The next board meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 18 at the Boston Town Hall.
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