Hamburg Budget Holds the Line

The COVID-19 pandemic caused many governments to raise, or consider raising taxes to account for deficits. That includes places like Nashville, Chicago, and California, but not in Hamburg according to Town Supervisor Jim Shaw.

“0.0%, no tax increase, taxes stay constant to what they were in 2020,” said Shaw

Shaw said the town took a hard look at reducing unneeded spending, and capitalizing on low interest rates to even update some of its facilities and services.

“We cut back on overtime, we cut back on out of town travel for seminars, we put a cap on new equipment or vehicle purchases,” Shaw said. “We also established a hiring freeze for part-time summer employees and full time employees.”

There’s no layoffs planned, but one position would be eliminated in the police department.

“We anticipate four retirements in the first few months of 2021,” said Shaw “one of those positions will remain vacant, so we’re not laying anyone off, one will be vacant, it’s eliminated by attrition.”

One welcomed decision is the state’s reversal on not sharing revenue from the Hamburg Casino and racetrack with the town. Shaw said while it was reduced, the funds will be much needed help to Hamburg’s pocketbook.

“Given the state’s financial difficulties, which are profound, we are relived to get 80% of the funding.”

Shaw said local governments can’t operate like the federal government and run a deficit. It needs to work and take account for the needs of the community.

“The fact of the matter of it is there are a lot of people in our township, not to mention other areas throughout Erie County and Western New York, there are a lot of people who are really suffering. And what we can do in this time of suffering, is tighten our belts and hold the line. It’s what we owe people morally, we can’t be excessive spenders when everyone else is struggling.”

The $47.7 million dollar budget is a decrease from the previous year’s $48.7 million budget. It’ll go for a vote in front of the Town Board on November 16th for approval. 

Hilbert to Hold Day of Caring

The Hilbert College community will gather this week to pitch in on projects throughout Western new York.

The school will hold its annual Franciscan Day of Caring Wednesday, September 30, with students, staff and faculty learning about Franciscan teachings in the morning and participating in service projects during the afternoon.

Vice President for Mission Integration and Campus Ministry Jeffrey Papia said the event is a great example of Hilbert’s commitment to the Franciscan tradition.

“We do this because we have to, we do this because we must. We, as a Catholic and Franciscan school, are not simply here for education’s sake,” said Papia. “The degrees we give out, the students that we educate, the things we do are all meant to support the world around us and make the lives of those around us better and more fulfilling.”

In past years, Hilbert students, faculty, and alumni would participate in large scale community projects for a day of service. With the COVID-19 pandemic, that’s not practical this year, but Papia said the day of caring work will be just as impactful.

“A lot of what we’ll be doing is inside the classroom. Smaller projects that are manageable within the space. Things that we’ve organized in working with our community partners,” Papia said. “Little tasks and work that might not be as large as organizing a big food pantry, or doing inventory at the Teacher’s Desk, but smaller projects that you can do at your desk with your neighbors around you that still nevertheless serve the community.”

Papia hopes things like the day of caring might inspire Hilbert students to get involved in something that’s bigger than themselves.

“When you get into a space and you are meeting people and developing relationships in the context of service, there’s just something more meaningful, there’s a bond that’s deeper,” said Papia. “There’s a passion that often can be ignited in you when you get to see and experience and learn from people who are out in the world doing the good work of social justice, and are doing it in ways the inspire you a desire to create similar change.”

Community partners include the Erie County Restorative Justice Coalition, Erie Niagara Area Health Education Center, and Native American Community Services. To make participation easier, the college will be suspending classes until 4:30 Wednesday, with the day of caring starting at 10 a.m.

News Program Coming to Hawk Radio

A newscast will soon be hitting the airwaves of Hilbert’s HAWK Radio, and it comes because of a first-of-its-kind collaboration between campus media organizations.

The Scribe and HAWK Radio are teaming up to create HAWK Radio News with Ryan Zunner, which will air Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:30am on the online radio station. As the name suggests, Hilbert Digital Media & Communication senior Ryan Zunner will serve as anchor and news director of the newly created program.

The show will feature both original reporting from Zunner, as well as feature reports from student-journalists of The Scribe.

Dr. Donald Vincent, the faculty advisor to HAWK Radio, said a newscast has been on his radar for a while, and is excited to see it coming to fruition.

“I’ve wanted a news show on HAWK Radio for years, but it’s never happened. By being a reliable and regular information source, HAWK Radio can become part of the daily routines of Hilbert Community members,” Vincent said. “Also, news gathering and reporting fosters research and communication skills that can be translated to all careers. This is one more way we can prepare students for their futures.”

Vincent believes having Zunner at the helm of the twice-weekly newscast, it adds an extra layer of credibility and an opportunity for other students to hone their skills.

“I doubt most college stations can boast having a news director with so much professional experience,” Vincent said of Zunner’s resume. “He has worked in the field extensively through internships and paid positions, and HAWK Radio News will deliver high quality content under Ryan’s leadership. He will also mentor our less experienced students, assuring that HAWK Radio News will carry on into the future.”

Zunner throughout his studies has interned at The Investigative Post, Spectrum News Buffalo, and WBFO News, where he was recently hired as a part-time reporter. His work has at the station has earned him praise and accolades. For his coverage of social justice protests in Buffalo, Zunner appeared live on cable network MSNBC to share his reporting nationally. In addition, he’s had several pieces air on National Public Radio, the national affiliate of WBFO. In 2019, Zunner was also a co-recipient of a New York State Broadcasters Association Award of Excellence.

Zunner said he’s excited to anchor his own news show on HAWK Radio, after having been involved in HAWK Radio since 2016 in several different on-air and behind the scenes roles.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to have built so many skills during my time at HAWK Radio, ones that really have put me ahead of the game in my still-early career in broadcast news,” said Zunner. “Having had tons of great opportunities, I’m excited to kind of give back to the Hilbert community in my final year by creating an informative and engaging newscast. I know I’m not going to be able to do it all alone though, so I’m definitely looking forward to working alongside the great student-journalists at The Scribe.”

The first broadcast of HAWK Radio News will air Tuesday, September 29, at 11:30am. Zunner said he hopes to create a mix of campus, Southtowns, and national news, with college students in mind.

Alumni Gather to Remember Immaculata Academy

After 92 years Immaculata Academy stands no more.

The private, all girls, Catholic High School in Hamburg New York closed its doors for the last time in June 2016. Last year the property was sold to Developer Anthony Cutaia through The Oaks at South Park LLC. In January 2020 demolition of the school began, making room for the apartments/condominiums that will be built on the land.

A small group of Immaculata Alumni visited the construction site to collect a brick to keep as memorabilia. Two of these Immaculata Alumni shared memories from their time at the school.

“We had some really great times.” said class of 1973 Alumni, Kathy Clark.

Clark and her friend, Linda Miller-Bolt, who also graduated from the school in 1973, agreed that their time at IA was overall a “good experience”.

“There were some clicks but really no bullying.” said Miller-Bolt. “Class sizes were about thirty students and we all stayed together with our homeroom freshman year so we didn’t interact with many other girls until sophomore year and even then everyone got along for the most part.”

“My least favorite part of the school would be the nuns,” Clark joked.

Although the nuns could be strict and mean at times, Clark and Miller-Bolt say the experience wasn’t all bad. “One memory I would say I enjoyed was the Father-Daughter Socials.” said Clark. “Every year was a different theme and there was a talent show and a dance. The Fathers loved it.”

Miller-Bolt added that her favorite memory was cheerleading.

“It might be hard for you to believe.” she joked, “I enjoyed cheerleading and I also enjoyed the dances at St. Francis (a nearby private all boys High School still open today).”

Both Alumni agreed that the best part of going to Immaculata was the friends they made.

“I think all the friendships we made were fantastic.” said Clark.

Although the building won’t be around anymore these Alumni will at least have the bricks and the memories to remember it by.

“We still stay in touch and hold many reunions for our friends and classmates.” said Miller-Bolt.

Miller-Bolt said the demolition represents the end of an era.

“No other girls will get to make their own memories there,” she said. “Regardless of whether it could have been saved or not, it’s gone now and it is sad.”

Phillips and Martineau Reflect on Four Years of Hilbert Basketball

Hunter Martineau and Masia Phillips are both four year Hilbert men’s basketball team members. The two guards came in together as freshmen, both far away from their homes, and built a bond right here in Hamburg. Phillips, who is from Queens in New York City, has made a name for himself with the program. He is well accomplished in the sport having scored over 1,000 points and received all conference honors. Phillips, a program great, is Top 10 in ten of the program’s statistical categories.

Martineau, a modest kid from Erie, Pennsylvania, has also left his mark on program history. Hunter accumulated 1,000 points over his career and now sits at the top in assists for Hilbert’s basketball program. Hunter isn’t new to awards and acknowledgement, he has received all conference honors all 4 years and was once named team MVP. What’s even more impressive than that, while being a beast on the court, he is also a beast in the classroom. Hunter was inducted into the Chi Alpha Sigma National Honor Society.

The Scribe reached out to both Phillips and Martineau to talk about their experiences with the program and also the community surrounding the school. In addition, we got to hear about the hardships they faced, the brotherhood that was formed, and a little sneak peek into their future endeavors.

The Scribe: Masia, you grew up in New York City, the mecca of basketball. Can you explain how basketball was a part of your early life and how it moved you forward as a person?

Masia Phillips: My older siblings and cousins all played basketball. I got to grow up watching them play. As I got older, I just got into it around 6 years old. I was playing in a house ball coached by my mother. I started meeting friends through basketball and continued that through middle and high school, and college. That’s why I love the game so much.

TS: Hunter, amongst other things, you are known by your incredible self-discipline and willpower. Can you tell us how basketball helped you develop self-discipline and do you use that skill in your everyday life?

martineau_lay_up

Courtesy of Hilbert College Athletics

Hunter Martineau: Basketball taught me self-discipline, if you want to be the best, you have to train like the best. You have discipline yourself to get up every day, get in the gym, get in the weight room. You can use that discipline to do homework, getting up and going to class.

TS: What can you guys tell us about playing for Hilbert? How difficult was the transition from high school to college?

MP: The transition was pretty tough, the game is much faster, much more you need to learn.

HM: The transition for me personally was a bit different. My high school had 4,000 students, Hilbert is only pushing 1,000 if that. Some of the high schools had teams that were just as competitive, but the games were slower because Florida schools don’t have a shot clock, it was a different game. (Masia) I think there was more competition in high school because everyone plays together, there are teams with multiple Division 1 talent.

TS: For Your tenure on the team, you have seen players come and go. What has helped you two to stay focused and committed to the program for 4 years.

HM: My family loves to watch me play, if I was quitting on myself, I was also quitting on them as well. At the same time, my passion for the game, I don’t think I would ever quit unless it’s for dire circumstances.

MP: I had lots of thoughts of leaving the program, but I always had my family to keep me in a space where I can forget about it and just play. If it wasn’t for my family or the love I have for the game, the story would’ve been different.

TS: How do you guys balance being a student athlete?

HM: I try not to save everything for the last minute, whether it’s homework, you want to get shots up, or spending time with your significant others.

MP: I just try my best to know and remember my schedule.

TS: Are the accomplishments something you guys set out for? How did you balance personal goals and team goals?

HM: I’m not much of a scorer, so the 1,000 points is something that I never set out to do, but was pretty cool. I’ve always been a passer, it wasn’t a goal of mine, but I saw it happening if I played well. Those records really don’t mean much, you never want to let them get to your head.

MP: In high school, I never got to the 1,000 points. That kind of bothered me because I was a 4 year varsity player. It was personal for me to get 1,000 points, but that never got in the way of goals that the team had.

TS: What can you guys say about the brotherhood formed with teammates and the relationships built with classmates?

HM: I’m very fortunate for all the guys that have come through here. I truly believe that there were mostly good guys that came through. The amount of friendships and relationships I have built is the reason why you come to a small school like this.

MP: Being on a sports team, you get to know people real quick and people get to know you real quick.

TS: Why did you guys pick Hilbert?

HM: I’m from Erie, Pa (Lived in Orlando for 9 years where he played high school ball), the school isn’t too far, I have good support nearby, and it seemed like a good fit.

MP: The biggest city in the nation has a lot of problems sometimes. I just wanted to get away from home, and challenge myself to be on my own.

TS: Having lived here for four years, what can you say about life in WNY? Is there a possibility of you coming back?

MP: Buffalo is a calm city, I like it. It’s not that big of a rush, no crazy night life. Definitely not what I’m used to, but I got used to it. I don’t know if i can start my life after college here, but I’ll definitely come back and visit.

HM: Buffalo is a great city. It’s actually very similar to earlier where I grew up. As long as there’s an airport that can connect me back home to Orlando, I’ll always consider Buffalo as a second home. Bills fans are very passionate, and I love Buffalo wings.

TS: What are your future plans for education and basketball? Is it over?

HM:  For me at least, I think my basketball career in a competitive sense is over. I’ll be doing mens league and coaching but I’m done. I plan on working my way up to an athletic director.

MP: Basketball wise, as of right now is over, I’ll still be playing here and there. I want to become a risk analyst, I also want to work for the city of New York.

 

Jezioro: The Bills’ Big Offseason

With the NFL Draft approaching, the Buffalo Bills do not have a first round pick as of right now. That’s because they made a blockbuster trade that reverberated around the league, acquiring one of the best receivers in the league. Let’s take a look at that trade and the other moves the team has made so far.

Stefon Diggs

This is the biggest acquisition in the offseason for the Bills. Buffalo finally got what they desperately needed, a true number one wide receiver. Last season, Diggs had a great year with the Minnesota Vikings. He had 63 receptions, caught six touchdown passes and recorded 1,130 yards. To get Diggs, the Bills gave up their first, fifth, and sixth round pick in this years draft. They also gave up their seventh round pick in 2020 and a fourth round pick in 2021. While it was a haul, I think it’s worth it. You have a proven talented receiver in Diggs and on top of that, a good wide receiver core. Along with John Brown and Cole Beasley, quarterback Josh Allen has an amazing opportunity to prove that he is the franchise QB for Buffalo. The speed that Diggs has is amazing and I can’t wait for him to utilize it as a Bill.

Josh Norman

I like this deal for the team. It’s a one year deal for the former Redskins cornerback and if he can play like the shutdown corner he was in Carolina, this signing is a home run for Bills General Manager Brandon Beane. Last season, Norman had only one interception. I have a feeling that he will have a better season with the Bills playing opposite Pro-Bowler Tre’Davious White as the starting corner. Buffalo also has a much more talented core than Washington. I feel like Norman won’t have to feel pressured considering he doesn’t have to cover the best receiver on the opposing team every single play during a game.

Mario Addison

I absolutely love this signing by the Bills. The defensive end had 34 tackles and 9.5 sacks with the Carolina Panthers last year. With Buffalo losing defensive end Shaq Lawson in free agency, Addison is a great replacement for Lawson. He can also play linebacker but I think he’ll spend most of his time playing DE. Adding to an already dangerous defensive line, this is a good signing.

Quinton Spain

Bringing back Spain was a great decision by Beane. Last year, he did not allow a single sack all season. That is unheard of in a league full of great defensive players who can get to the QB. The offensive line was inconsistent last season but Spain was fantastic and I’m pumped the Bills brought him back.

The time is now for the Bills to not only win the division, but finally win a playoff game. They had a great chance to win against the Texans in last year’s wildcard game, but it didn’t end up the way they wanted to. As for Allen, no excuses. He has some dangerous weapons and Diggs should help him out.

All stats are from NFL.com and the details from the Diggs trade is credited to WGR550.com.

Hilbert Community Mourns Student

The Hilbert community has been in mourning over the death of sophomore Brittnay Summers. The criminal justice major passed away in a car accident on March 31st, and her sudden death has left a shock to those at Hilbert who knew her.

“She had a smile, and was just so fun,” said her advisor, English professor Megan Witzleben. “She found her way in class, and I think embraced the idea of always striving and looking for opportunities to better herself.”

Witzleben served both as Brittnay’s advisor, as well as her English 102 professor.

“There was a unit on the British romantics, and she thought it was too far removed from her life,” Witzleben said. “But then I pointed out to her that these were people who took common speech and made it poetic. And suddenly, she loved that idea; she always had her own spin on the material, and it made it fun for all of us.”

Brittnay was always proud of her work as a security guard, holding positions both at New Era Field, and at Canalside. Brittnay had aspirations of furthering a law enforcement career either here in New York, or down south in Florida.

In a time where students are not physically together, mourning and remembering Brittany has to take a different approach for now.

“Certainly writing about her,” said Witzleben. “Writing, in a way, keeps people alive. For example with poetry, they think about how you memorialize those who have passed on through writing about them, telling stories about them, and remembering that they count and they matter. Whether they are here with us physically, or with their spirit.”

Students have been taking to writing, with junior Danny Ostroski writing the following on the tribute wall on Brittnay’s obituary page:

“I wish I was able to get to know you better. I was really looking forward to going back to school and seeing your beautiful and radiant smile that brightened my day by so much every day. You were so so sweet and a literal angel, and you always ever looked happy when I passed you in the hallways. Rest easy sweetheart, you will forever be in my heart and on my mind. We’ll miss you so much.”

Hilbert College President, Michael Brophy, told The Scribe that once campus activities resume following the COVID-19 pandemic, the school has plans to more formally memorialize her.

“The college was represented at her memorial, but only two folks could go as only ten total are allowed to be there with the virus going around,” said Brophy. “But we did promise her parents that once everything is back up and normal, we’ll have a proper memorial on campus. [The family] also requested that we plant a tree on campus in her memory, and we’ll be really happy to do that as well.”

As the community continues to mourn from afar, Margaret Smith, vice president for mission integration and campus ministry, offers some wise words.

“It’s tempting to get swept away by fear and darkness when so many things seem to be falling apart around us,” Smith said. “This is where our faith kicks in. Christian hope isn’t an emotion: it’s a virtue that takes practice and hard work. It is a decision, made over and over again, to turn to light and to trust in God when things are difficult.”

Scholarships Available for Returning Students

Hilbert College is offering some financial relief to returning students in response to the coronavirus pandemic that has upended lives across the globe.

The school, which converted all classes to distance learning through the summer in an effort slow the spread of the virus, is offering $1,000 scholarships to any returning students who register for the fall semester by April 15.

“We recognize the financial hardship this unprecedented situation has caused throughout the nation.” said Matt Heidt, Hilbert’s Director of Marketing and Communications.“We are trying to do everything we can to help our current students continue their education.”

Hiedt said that reimbursements will be automattically applied to fall semester tuition bills.

“No extra paperwork or application is required,” he said.

While students say they are appreciative of the money, some feel it isn’t enough.

Dylan Timmel, a junior going into his senior year at Hilbert College, has already registered for next semester.

“It helps a little but personally I feel students need more than $1,000,” he said.

Timmel said the amount just doesn’t make up for what he has lost.

“I feel the online classes are not offering me the full experience of the face to face classes which I had paid for,” he said.

In response to student’s concerns about the scholarship amount, Hilbert’s president, Dr. Michael Brophy, said they are continuing to ask students what they need to deal with the drastic changes brought on by the pandemic.

“We will work with all students returning if they need additional help for sure,” Brophy said. “We have to make sure it all adds up for students and the College.”

Heidt said students who are concerned about being able to afford next semester should contact the financial aid office for additional support.

“Our financial aid office is open and here to help,” Heidt said. “Please reach out to financialaid@hilbert.edu to explore all the options available to you.”