NORTH TONAWANDA – Tuesday’s meeting of the Common Council looked to the future and the past as members praised two North Tonawanda-area teens for obtaining the Boys Scouts of America’s highest rank of Eagle Scout, while at the same time offering prayers for longtime political leader and Alderman-at-Large Malcolm A. Needler, who suffered a severe heart attack Saturday.
Christopher Labushesky, 18, a recent graduate of North Tonawanda High School, and Daniel Gurnett, 18, a recent graduate of Starpoint High School, both are members of Troop 184 at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in North Tonawanda and attained the rank of Eagle Scout for their leadership and service to the community.
Gurnett’s service project involved painting his church, the Greater Niagara Falls Church of Christ, and Labushesky built 80 bookcases for Habitat for Humanity.
City Attorney Shawn Nickerson, a former Eagle Scout and district chairman for the Boy Scouts, said, “I travel all over for Eagle Scout Court of Honors, from North Buffalo to Youngstown and everywhere in between, and this is the first that I’ve had the privilege of welcoming two Scouts from our own community. I am really thrilled about that.”
He said he was doubly thrilled because Christopher’s father, Robert Labushesky, was also an Eagle Scout and had been part Nickerson’s Eagle Scout Court of Honor.
Nickerson said only about 3 percent of enrolled Boy Scouts achieve the highest rank of Eagle Scout.
Proclamations recognizing the two Scouts were issued by the city and the Niagara County Legislature, with Legislature Chairman William Ross and North Tonawanda Legislators Paul B. Wojtaszek, R-9th District, and Kathryn L. Lance, R-7th District, presenting the county’s.
The Common Council observed a moment of silence at the beginning of its meeting to pray for Needler, who has been involved in local politics for more than 30 years, retiring as Niagara County legislator in the 11th District in 2007 and taking his Common Council seat in 2012.
Council President Richard Andres said Needler’s heart attack was severe and that Needler, 62, is in stable, but “very, very guarded condition” in Buffalo General Medical Center. “We do hope to have him back at his post as soon as possible, but from our reports there are no guarantees,” Andres said.
Alderwoman-at-Large Nancy Donovan told the Council, “I sit here with heavy heart next to this empty chair. Malcolm Needler was not only a colleague but a friend to me and my family for over 30 years. Malcolm Needler is a true example of a dedicated leader in our community, and I hope you will join me in my thoughts for a fast and speedy recovery.” Anyone who has business with Needler is instructed to contact the Mayor’s Office or another alderman for assistance.
In other business, the board approved a plan to close a portion of Oliver Street, between Robinson and Schenck streets, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 13 for an art festival, sponsored by Project 308 Gallery, at 308 Oliver.
Owner Natalie Brown asked to hold the festival to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the gallery, which was once a vacant storefront. She said 50 to 65 artists are expected to participate, and there will be music and dance performances throughout the day.