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State Labor Department is doing an admirable job

A recent letter titled, "New York does nothing to help the unemployed," specifically targeted the New York State Department of Labor. Though I sympathize with the writer's frustration with the local job market, I object to his comments based on 12 years of experience as an advocate for the unemployed and my professional relationship with the department.

Let me begin by stating that this is the "new" Department of Labor, now operating under the watchful eye of Commissioner Colleen Gardner. It is by far the best administration I have ever had to deal with. On Gardner's watch, the department is much more efficient, caring, responsive and open with vital information. The labor service representatives employed by the department are now more professional in public relations and the department's website is nothing short of spectacular. Better yet, updates to the system are constant.

Furthermore, there are huge improvements at the Department of Labor Administrative Law Judge Sections, where hearings are conducted. More judges have been added, as well as support staff, which means hearings are scheduled now in a timely fashion for all parties.

The main focus of the New York State Department of Labor is to help the unemployed transition back into suitable jobs in a very tight job market. This is not an easy task, to say the least. It is my professional opinion that the department is doing an admirable job, within the law and in these difficult times.

Timothy J. Heyden

Labor Representative

East Concord

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Seeing wildlife on course makes golf more enjoyable

As a frequent recreational golfer, I can say that one of the greatest pleasures to a round of golf is seeing wildlife that is not normally seen in a city/suburban environment. I have watched a mother doe and her fawns run across a fairway, a mother skunk with her young going back into the woods, fox hunting for a meal along the woods and frogs and turtles in the various ponds and creeks.

I recently had the opportunity to play a round of golf at the course where the snapping turtle was bludgeoned to death by a member. It was a very beautiful course, and I guess it is fortunate that the families of geese that I saw that day were spared by this person.

There has been outrage over the recent incident of a tiny dog being kicked to death by some teenagers. In my mind, this incident is no different. The teenagers can claim youth as their excuse. I wonder what the golfer can claim in his defense?

Mark Muchowski

Orchard Park

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Bishop is following the Vatican's orders

Critics of Bishop Edward U. Kmiec's decision to reduce St. Adalbert Parish in Buffalo to an oratory as of Sept. 18 have been off mark when claiming the bishop has disrespected the Vatican. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In changing the status of the parish, the bishop followed Catholic Church law, better known as Canon Law. When parishioners appealed to the Vatican to keep the parish open, the bishop's decision was upheld at every level, including the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican's highest court. When St. Adalbert parishioners asked for clarification about how an oratory could be used, the Vatican responded that St. Adalbert Church "remained a place of worship, accessible to the faithful, but does not imply that Holy Mass needs to be celebrated there on a weekly basis."

In just the past 10 years, the Diocese of Buffalo has experienced a dramatic decline in the number of priests available for ministry, with the loss of 100 active priests. Today we have 185 priests staffing 164 parishes, serving as hospital chaplains, teaching at Christ the King Seminary and working in other ministries. Through the Journey in Faith and Grace, we have pooled our resources and now are closer to the number of parishes that are needed to provide pastoral care. This is especially true in our cities.

We know that the decision to merge St. Adalbert's with St. Stanislaus and St. John Kanty parishes in Buffalo has been difficult for many to accept. That is certainly understandable when considering the long, storied history of the parish. But dozens of other parishes in the diocese with similar histories were also asked to merge, which they did, forming even more vibrant faith communities.

It is disheartening to hear some members of St. Adalbert's say they will not join another parish. We hope and pray that St. Adalbert parishioners will have open minds and open hearts. Their Catholic neighbors will joyfully welcome their presence and participation.

Kevin A. Keenan

Director of Communications

Diocese of Buffalo

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A pleasure to spend summer in Buffalo

I have had the pleasure of spending this summer in Buffalo. I was born and raised in Illinois but now reside in Southern California. I have come to love Buffalo for many reasons, but below is my Top 10 List:

1.) Sipping hot coffee while watching the rain fall on the rink at Fountain Plaza.

2.) Seeing curbs of cut stone; all other cities have ordinary cement.

3.) Strolling down Park or Irving streets between North and Allen.

4.) Watching Valentino Pascucci blast home runs at Coca-Cola Field.

5.) Enjoying Belle play the air fiddle during the seventh-inning singing of "Thank God I'm A Country Boy."

6.) Standing in the Darwin Martin House, seeing the genius of Frank Lloyd Wright and appreciating Buffalo's Martin providing the canvas for his art.

7.) Sitting at the president's desk in the Teddy Roosevelt Inaugural Site Museum.

8.) Listening to music and watching the break-dancing at the monthly Battle at Buffalo that New Era sponsors.

9.) Meeting great citizens like the retired gentleman in Section 111 who keeps score of the baseball game and is a volunteer math teacher for Buffalo's grade-school kids.

10.) Being able to live and work in downtown Buffalo and not use a car for more than two months -- most other cities cannot afford you that pleasure.

Buffalo, thank you for your many charms!

Darrell Wagstaff

Anaheim Hills, Calif.

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Buffalo Place continues to improve and impress

It's easy to criticize the corrupt staff at City Hall and the incompetent School Board but let's focus on something positive. Buffalo Place has been around for several years and continues to improve and impress each year. Not only does it offer affordable, quality entertainment but a knowledgeable staff with security that makes you feel safe downtown for the first time in years.

Let's hope Buffalo Place continues to come up with good ideas and work in conjunction with the Waterfront Committee to make our city a tourist attraction and a city we can all be proud of.

Marty P. Farrell

West Seneca