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Gates Vascular Institute already feels like home

Gates Vascular Institute is my new home and a brand new adventure for me. After spending the whole day there on March 22, laughing, learning and getting lost four times, I'm not so anxious anymore. I quietly ate my lunch alone on the ledge of one of the many floor-to-ceiling windows. The sun beating on my body felt so good, so right. I belonged here, they wanted me to be here; they asked and I accepted.

Believe me when I say I've cried a lot about Millard Fillmore Hospital at Gates Circle closing. It was my home for 25 years. But I cannot deny that I fell in love with the "new Gates" immediately. New people, old friends and $30 million of brand new state-of-the-art "toys" to play with for the next 25 years. What more could I want?

Patients from near and far will come to our new home for help and healing. New fellows and doctors will arrive from all over the world, creating friendships and teaching one another. I have imaged tens of thousands of angiograms thus far in my career. Having these world-renowned doctors ask me, just the technologist, "what did you see?" on the angiogram is an honor. There is no rank here, only respect. There is no place I'd rather be working than the beautiful Gates Vascular Institute in Buffalo.

Jennifer Rebmann, R.T.

Williamsville

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High-quality schools should be top priority

I have paid school taxes for 37 years in Western New York. I know they are high in comparison to other areas, but I could always hold my head up and say, "but we have great school districts." Great school districts make great communities to live in and raise a family.

When a young family with children to be educated is looking for a home, what is their first question? What school district is it in? What is the school district's reputation and what does it offer my children? All the cuts at our local schools will not result in successful school districts, but will ultimately hurt our families and our property values. So, what are we left with? We still have high taxes, but with nothing to show for it.

Mary Rizzo

Williamsville

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Retirees have a chance to help the community

For retirees and soon-to-be retirees, Erie County has a wonderful volunteer program called the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), which lends itself extremely well to personal interests you may now have in retirement or will give you a chance at trying something completely new.

This is my second year in the program and my only regret is that I didn't start volunteering sooner. RSVP has complete flexibility to accommodate your personal life schedule in retirement and has a wide variety of different agencies to work with on your own time schedule. As a retired teacher, I gravitated to volunteering in the elementary schools. By doing so, I can still see the challenges teachers face in the classroom today, but more importantly, I have a real chance in helping students learn and see math from an older person like myself.

This year, I am volunteering as a math tutor at Southside Elementary School in the sixth grade. It's a wonderful school with students who are respectful in a multicultural setting. The students want to be given a fair chance toward the American dream and only want one thing in life -- nothing more and nothing less than you or I already have. The professional staff is dedicated with conviction and compassion. As the students learn from me, so do I, from them.

I challenge others to visit the RSVP website at www.erie.gov/rsvp.com and get involved. It may be one of the best things you do in retirement.

Robert G. Lewandowski

Buffalo

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Art gallery is a gem; make time for a visit

If you're looking for something to do with the kids this weekend, consider taking them to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. As a consequence of being a border town, we are the happy recipients of many good things from Canada. One of the best, since hockey and friendship, is Louis Grachos, the director of the Albright-Knox, who hails from Toronto. Under his direction, the art gallery's exhibits offer a stunning new visual impact that was not the case in years past.

Now, works are changed on a regular basis, and grouped by relation to artists who worked within a similar period or movement, as they say. The result is a constantly renewed visual feast for the eyes. All the icons of modern art whom you've heard of are there to see: Picasso, Cezanne, Pollock, Van Gogh; an incredibly extensive collection.

"I don't know anything about art," you say, or "my kids can do that." The works in the gallery can be enjoyed from many different perspectives: humorous, unsettling, enigmatic, beautiful. You needn't understand the artists' intent when viewing the works. In fact, if the artists were standing next to you in the gallery, they would be the first to ask, "what do you think of when you look at my painting?"

The Albright-Knox is a crown jewel of Western New York's cultural possessions and, just as the generosity of the Knox family allowed us to have the Buffalo Sabres, their generosity extended to our cultural institutions as well. Spend some time at the gallery, and take the kids; you won't be disappointed.

Kevin J. Rung

Grand Island

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Design of new casino is nothing special

"This new casino will be a national design leader for casinos in urban settings," said Seneca President Robert Odawi Porter. Did he say "urban?" It looks just like a suburban rehab center, complete with your basic four-level concrete bunker-style parking ramp and plenty of urban-style surface parking, to boot!

Maybe the rehab design is apropos, since some of the casino's customers, the majority of them locals, will eventually need rehab to treat their addictions to smoking, drinking and gambling.

Jim Koelmel

Hamburg

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Affordable Care Act raises medical costs

The News praises provisions of the Affordable Care Act that have had a "positive impact," such as requiring dependent coverage to age 26, eliminating co-payments, eliminating lifetime and annual caps and more. Yet these will all increase costs for insurance companies and premiums for policy holders. Worse than that, the best way to increase the cost of anything is to force everyone to buy it.

Only the U.S. Congress would call legislation that increases the cost of insurance "Affordable Care."

Richard E. Ralston

Executive Director, Americans

for Free Choice in Medicine