Nineteen Candidates Emerge for Library District Board
Nineteen candidates are vying for nine seats on the board of the proposed James Prendergast Public Library District.
The candidates in the order they will appear on the ballot are Marie T. Carrubba, Renate Bob, Terry Spencer, Erin A. Knapp, R. Thomas Rankin, Joseph C. Johnson, David Conklin, Sandra L. Anderson, Jim Roselle, Anne Kessler Hedin, Eric M. Williams, Carolyn G. Seymour, Kathleen Crocker, Dennis R. Bechmann, Francis Jenkins, Paul Leone, Melissa Uber, Patricia Micciche, and Cheryl A. Frederes.
The election will be held from noon to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 20 at the library. Besides electing nine board members to govern the library, voters will be asked to approve a proposal to establish and fund the library district.
All of the candidates are registered voters who have resided within the boundaries of the proposed district for at least one full year prior to the election. Each candidate filed a nominating petition signed by at least 25 qualified voters residing in the district. Candidates are volunteering to serve the community, since board members are not paid for their service.
In order to stagger term expirations, the candidates receiving the first, second and third highest number of votes will be elected to four-year terms. The candidates receiving the fourth, fifth and sixth highest votes will serve three years. The candidates with the seventh and eighth highest number of votes will serve two years, and the candidate placing ninth will serve for one year. In the future, board members will be elected to four-year terms.
The duties of the board are to select and hire a qualified library director when necessary; to secure adequate funding for the library’s service program; to demonstrate good stewardship and accountability in the use of funding; to adopt policies and rules regarding library use; to plan and evaluate the library’s service program; and to promote the library in the local community and in society in general.
Candidate profiles follow.
Sandra L. Anderson is assistant professor and coordinator of off-campus program for the School of Social Work at the University of Buffalo. She was formerly an instructor in the Human Services Department at Jamestown Community College and an assistant administrator at Jamestown General Hospital.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature and a master’s degree in social work at the University of Buffalo.
Mrs. Anderson is a current member of the Resource Center Mental Health Advisory Committee; Advisory Board of the School Based Health Center; and a panel Member of the Surrogate Decision Making Committee of the New York State Commission on Quality of Care for the Mentally Disabled.
She is a former member of the Jamestown Board of Education, Jamestown Housing Authority, and the board of directors of both Jamestown Family Service and Pastoral Counseling Service.
A native of Buffalo, she has lived in the Jamestown area since 1959. She is married to Donald N. Anderson, a retired art teacher at Jamestown High School. She is the mother of three and a grandmother.
A longtime library patron and supporter, Mrs. Anderson said, “I am running for the library board because I feel the library is our community’s most important cultural resource. I can think of no other institution that serves residents of all ages and every economic status without charge. It opens doors to information, literature, and the visual arts to virtually everyone in our area. For this reason, I feel it is essential to ensure that this resource remains strong and viable in order to continue this invaluable service into the future.”
Dennis R. Bechmann
Dennis R. Bechmann is a licensed nursing home administrator currently at Heritage Green Health Care Center. He holds a master’s degree in health services administration, a bachelor’s degree in health care management, and an associate’s degree in recreation supervision.
Employed in health care since 1974, Bechmann began his career as an activity and volunteer director. As an activity director, he was president and vice president of both local and statewide professional associations.
Bechmann has been a member of two task forces to rewrite New York State Health Department regulations. For 10 years, he taught sections of the 100-hour pre-license course for nursing home administrators as an adjunct instructor at Cazenovia College.
He has co-chaired the Steering Committee of the Western New York Mutual Aid Disaster Plan and acted as zone coordinator for the Statewide Emergency Plan. He is the recording secretary of the Western New York Association of Homes and Services for the Aging. As the senior administrator for The Heritage Group and in addition to his duties at Heritage Green, Bechmann is responsible for orienting and training assigned supervisors at all Heritage Group facilities.
The candidate is a member of the American College of Health Care Administrators, the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, and the Steering and Selection Committee of the Fredonia High School Education Assistance Fund.
Bechmann and his wife, Jan, live in Jamestown. He is an avid fisherman, and together they enjoy antiquing and travel. Both are active members of Immanuel Lutheran Church.
Bechmann said, “I would like to be a Prendergast Library District board member because I learned early in life that anything worth having is worth working for.
“It frightens me that in nearby Erie County, discussions taking place right now include the closing of 24 county libraries. The Prendergast Library is a recognized treasure and a blessing to the young and old of this community.
“I use the Prendergast Library. I love the library, and I am willing to commit my time and efforts to serve its mission and ensure its future.”
Retired from teaching, Renate Bob has a master’s degree in biology education.
She is a member of The Fortnightly.
She is the wife of the late Murray L. Bob and has three grown children: Clifford Bob, Daniel Bob, and Elisa Bob.
Mrs. Bob said, “I believe the library is one of the greatest cultural assets to the community, open to all, and I want to support it in its work.
“‘If you have a garden and a library you have everything you need,’ said Cicero, the great Roman philosopher, over 2000 years ago, and the Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borge wrote, ‘I have always imagined that Paradise is a kind of library.’
“Perhaps we can turn the latter quote around to say that the library is a kind of Paradise where all are welcome to come - young and old, rich and poor - a place that expresses the ideals of a democracy. Here people can freely choose to take home books, CDs, videos, art materials and to bring their children to reading programs, to attend lectures and view art exhibits.
“Jamestown is indeed fortunate to have one of the best libraries in the country. Why? Because people have worked hard to make it so. Recently rising costs and shrinking staff have made it more difficult to support all of the many services, but instead of cutting hours to the public, all of the people, staff and director, have dedicated themselves to continue to work for the public.
“If I have the privilege to become a board member, I will do all I can to further this tradition of excellence and service to the community. I would support all programs and goals of the library and help in any way possible to keep the library free and open to all.”
Marie T. Carrubba
Marie T. Carrubba graduated from the State University of New York at Buffalo, Faculty of Law and Jurisprudence in May 1984 with a Juris Doctorate degree and was admitted to the New York State Bar in February 1983.
She relocated to Jamestown in May 1983 and worked as the program manager for the Independent Living Center. In July 1984, when the Southwestern Independent Living Center became a separately incorporated nonprofit, she became the executive director and has served in that capacity for 21 years.
Ms. Carrubba’s experience in working with boards of directors spans 21 years, and she has served on boards since 1989 when she was elected to the board of The Resource Center, which she served as president between 1997 and 2000. In 1992, she was elected to serve on the board of Chautauqua Opportunities and served as chairperson from 1997 - 2002.
She was elected to the ChautauquaWorks board in 1999 and currently serves as the Personnel Committee chairperson and parliamentarian.
Between 2000 and 2003, she served on the Jamestown City Charter Review Advisory committee and was appointed as chairperson of the Jamestown Human Rights Commission.
She currently serves as chairperson of the Mental Retardation/Developmental Disabilities Subcommittee for Chautuqua County and as a member of the Community Services Board.
She also is a volunteer mediator for the Center for Resolution and Justice.
She is married and has two sons and lives in a family of avid readers.
Ms. Carrubba said, “The reason I am interested in running is that I have always believed in the value and benefits of a public library. I have grown up reading all my life and appreciate the tremendous library service we have in our community. It would be an enormous injustice to diminish the quality of the services that the James Prendergast Library provides due to the lack of adequate funding. I wholeheartedly support the efforts to improve and expand this wonderful community service.”
David Conklin was named dean at Jamestown Business College in 2000. His responsibilities include working with students to ensure they receive a quality education and to prepare them for career opportunities in the business world. He began as an instructor in 1983 and has been involved in education for more than 25 years.
Conklin graduated from SUNY College at Buffalo with a bachelor’s degree in 1981, and received his master’s degree from SUNY College at Fredonia in 1998.
He has served on the board of directors for Reachout Ministries and Family Service of Jamestown.
Conklin, 49, lives in Jamestown with his wife Jill. They have four children: Christina, David John, Julie, and Pamela. His favorite pastimes include spending time with his family and enjoying the outdoors.
Conklin said, “I wish to join the library board of trustees to be part of a dedicated, hard-working team participating in a highly important mission. I believe libraries are the keystone to our culture and civilization. I want to apply my experience, philosophy and dedication to ensure that generations to come can enjoy the library’s resources contributing to knowledge and learning.”
Kathleen Crocker is serving in her 14th year as manager of the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle, the oldest continuous book club in America, at the Chautauqua Institution.
She is retired from a 30-year career as a middle school English and reading teacher in the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School System.
She has researched and written a series of local history books for Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series with co-author Jane Currie, professional photographer. These include Chautauqua Institution, 1874-1974, Chautauqua Lake Region, Jamestown and Westfield to be published in the spring of 2006.
Mrs. Crocker earned a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in secondary English at the State University of New York at Buffalo.
She served as a docent, writer, and volunteer coordinator at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History for more than five years.
She is an active member of the Robert H. Jackson Center’s education committee and a researcher and author of several Web site articles for the Jackson Center.
A member and past officer of the Jamestown branch of the American Association of University Women, she is also treasurer of The Fortnightly.
She lives in Jamestown with her husband A. Byron “Red” Crocker.
Mrs. Crocker said, “A century ago, civic-minded members of women’s clubs helped create public libraries to benefit their fellow villagers. With no available funding, they took it upon themselves to raise money and to donate land, books, supplies and equipment and, also, to volunteer to serve as staff. Two such women were my great-grandmother and my grandmother who helped establish the Mayville and Bemus Point libraries, respectively.
“Once again, libraries are being challenged by inadequate funds. To continue my family’s stewardship, I would welcome the opportunity to preserve and maintain the exceptional services of the Prendergast Library as a member of its board of directors.”
Cheryl A. Frederes is assistant manager of the Jamestown office of the Greater Buffalo Savings Bank.
After earning a business degree from Bryant and Stratton College, Mrs. Frederes decided to enter the retail field and managed a women’s clothing store for 12 years. After the store closed its doors in 1994, she decided to explore a new direction and was hired by Key Bank as a teller. After two years, she was recruited by Jamestown Savings Bank, where she received several promotions before being offered the opportunity in January to work for Greater Buffalo Savings Bank.
For the past 25 years, Mrs. Frederes and her family have been communicants of St. James Church. They also belong to the Ingjald Lodge #65 IOV. Recently, she has been involved with the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.
Born and raised in the suburbs of Buffalo, Cheryl Frederes came from a family of six. Her father, Burton Winspear, was a City of Buffalo fireman, and her mother, Margaret, was a teacher at Cleveland Hill Elementary School.
She and her husband, who live in Jamestown, recently celebrated their 27th wedding anniversary. Their son Justin is in his last semester at SUNY Fredonia and will graduate with his master’s degree in education in December.
Mrs. Frederes said, “It would be an honor to be considered for election to the James Prendergast Public Library District Board. There are several reasons why I’d like to be involved with the library. I would like to try and make a difference. Whether it be working to keep the library open, or in helping to find funding for areas the library might need. The library is such an important part of the community. It is inconceivable for a community not to have one. With television and video games taking over, reading habits need to be cultivated in our children. The library can be utilized by children, giving them a good foundation for intellectual development, whether they are doing research or for pure enjoyment. It helps all people broaden their horizons and learn about other cultures. Reading increases knowledge, gives confidence, and aids in social and language development. Not all children have the opportunity to have computers or have easy access to books at home or school. In addition, for someone retired the library can be a haven. Many may not have anything else to pass the time. The library can meet the needs of everyone.
“The library is a house of knowledge that provides a service to a wide variety of the population from picture books for the very young to research and entertainment for all ages. I have felt strongly about the values of reading, and have passed that on to my son. Now that he is grown, and with the skills I’ve acquired throughout my banking career, I’d like to be involved in something I believe in. To work with a group of individuals that could make a difference and provide a service to the community is what drew me to the idea of becoming a library board member.”
Anne Kessler Hedin
Anne Kessler Hedin is a New York State licensed audiologist and employed by The Resource Center, where she provides clinical services in Jamestown and Dunkirk.
She graduated from Jamestown High School. She received a bachelor of arts degree from Elmira College, Elmira, NY, and a master of arts degree from Bowling Green State University in Ohio.
She has volunteered for many organizations including The Creche, United Way, and the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, serving on the board or a committee. She is a member and elder of First Presbyterian Church. She also participates in a local book club, which meets monthly to discuss selections from the classics to science fiction.
She lives in Jamestown, where she was born and raised, with her husband Paul. They have two children - Carrie, a dentist completing a residency in orthodontics at the University of Illinois in Chicago, and Eric, an accountant with Deloitte in Manhattan.
Mrs. Hedin said, “I am an avid, lifelong reader and strong advocate of the public library system. Reading keeps your mind alive, leads to intellectual growth and social interaction. Public libraries offer free access to all. The James Prendergast Library is open and free to anyone. It is available regardless of your age, gender, or economic status. Our libraries are interdependent, and the James Prendergast Library is the center of the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System. A strong, vital public library is beneficial to the community and deserves our fiscal and personal support. I am honored to be considered for the board and will bring my years of experience and interest to enhance our library services.”
Retired, Francis Jenkin’s work experience includes working as a civil engineer for various building contractors and teaching engineering and technical subjects at JCC. He has owned a private practice of engineering and surveying and has worked for the Department of Transportation in both Michigan and New York State.
A native of Falconer, Jenkins is a graduate of Falconer High School. He is a civil engineering graduate of the University of Michigan and earned a master’s degree from the State University at Buffalo. He has also taken courses at Jamestown Community College.
The candidate has served on the Town of Busti Planning Board. He has also been president of a local engineering society and a member of the Jamestown Torch Club, Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy, and the Scandinavian American Foundation.
He and his wife Phyllis are residents of the Town of Busti and are in the Greater Jamestown School District. They have a daughter who teaches at Randolph Central School, a daughter who is an attorney in Honolulu, and a son who owns an over-the-road trucking business in Youngsville, PA.
For recreation, Jenkins plays golf and does yard work in the summer and skis and bowls in the wintertime. He and his wife visit their daughter and family in Hawaii every year. They have been to each of the major Hawaiian Islands and have visited Australia, Tahiti, and New Zealand in the Pacific. They have also been to many of the countries in Europe and have traveled extensively in North America.
Jenkins said, “I have several reasons for running for the board of the Prendergast Library. I believe that the entire community inside and outside of the city benefit from a viable metropolitan area. The institutions such as WCA Hospital, Jamestown Community College, Jamestown Business College, various churches, the James Prendergast Library and many other organizations help make the Jamestown area a better place to live.
“Another reason for running is a continual personal interest in the library. I have had a library card for many years and utilize the library’s services. I hope that I can continue to help the library maintain its place in the community.”
Joseph C. Johnson
Joseph C. Johnson is employed at Cummins, Inc. in manufacturing engineering support services.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration at Fredonia State College.
Johnson is a supporter of St. Susan’s Kitchen and Save the Children.
He and his wife Beryl Abrams-Johnson have two sons, Cris and Marc.
Johnson said, “As a lifelong member of the library, I would like to be involved with the James Prendergast Library District as a trustee. I will help ensure the library continues its tradition of excellence that we as a community have come to expect. My combined 15 years in manufacturing and retail experience working with budgets and developing policies would serve me well as a board member.”
Erin A. Knapp
Erin A. Knapp is a science teacher in the Jamestown Public Schools.
She graduated from Jamestown High School in 1989, earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary and secondary education from SUNY Cortland and a master’s degree in biology education at SUNY Fredonia.
She and her husband Shane have three children: Chloe, 6; Isabelle, 4; and Hudson, 1.
Mrs. Knapp said, “As a parent, teacher, and lifelong Jamestown resident, I see the vital role our library plays in this area. I am running for the board because I want to be an active participant in the library’s future.”
Paul Leone is a writer, storyteller, publisher and book collector. He has written and published four volumes of non-fiction and two of fiction, all relating to Chautauqua County and its history.
He is a roster artist on the Council for The Arts’ Arts in Education program and a teacher in the Fenton History Center’s education department.
The candidate earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame.
He is a board member of the Reg Lenna Civic Center and a member of the steering committee for the Underground Railroad Tableau.
A Jamestown resident since 1985, he is married and has one child.
Leone said, “I love the library. I spend considerable time in the stacks at Prendergast Library searching out material for storytelling and at the microfilm machines researching local history. Beware of me at the annual book sale!”
Patricia Micciche has been an art teacher at Southwestern Elementary School since 1987. She has also taught young people’s art at the Chautauqua Institution.
She graduated from Jamestown High School, earned a bachelor’s degree from Buffalo State College and a master’s degree from Edinboro University.
She is a past member of the Lakewood Rotary and the Jamestown Community College Gallery Advisory Board.
Her husband, Gino Micciche of GM Wood Products, is a well-known chef of northern Italian cooking.
Mrs. Micciche said, “To me, James Prendergast Library is and has been for over 50 years our community’s most valuable and free resource for personal education, informative learning, cultural sharing, and enjoyment.
“I wish to see this wonderful library, this wonderful legacy, carry on. That is why I am running for the board of trustees for the proposed library district.
“This library has always been here for me - now I would like to be here for it.”
R. Thomas Rankin
Richard T. Rankin is an attorney for Goodell & Goodell.
He earned a bachelor’s degree at Boston University in 1988; a master’s degree in education at Suffolk University in 1992; and a Juris Doctorate from Suffolk University Law School in 2003.
Rankin is a member of the Chautauqua Chapter of Sons of the American Revolution and the Fenton Stamp Club in Jamestown.
He is married to Elisabeth Rankin.
Rankin said, “I want to help ensure a stable financial future for the Prendergast Library. I also strongly believe in a person’s right to freedom of speech and will work to make library materials available to all.”
Jim Roselle is a morning announcer at WJTN.
He graduated from Jamestown High School and earned a bachelor’s degree at St. Lawrence University.
Roselle is active in Jamestown Boys & Girls Club, Lucille Ball Little Theatre, and Kiwanis.
He is married to Kathleen Roselle and has three children: Julie D’Angelo, Mary Jane Piccone, and James Roselle; and three step-children: Phil Nalbone, Tom Nalbone, and Annette Lundsten.
A current member of the library’s board of trustees, Roselle said, “The library is a vital and valuable resource. My library card is the most valuable card in my wallet.”
Carolyn Gifford Seymour became executive director of Chautauqua Home Rehabilitation and Improvement Corporation, CHRIC, in 1994.
Since then, she has seen the agency grow from three to 16 people and become a NeighborWorks organization, always centered on helping low-income households with home rehabilitation. Other current CHRIC programs include Youthbuild, Lead Hazard Control, Family Loan, Earna Car.
Valedictorian of her small Gorham High School class, Ms. Seymour was a National Merit Scholar at Houghton College in rural Western New York. After graduation, she taught high school English in Berneveld, Wisconsin, for one year and then completed a Ph.D. in linguistics, with a concentration in Chinese, at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
After a year in information retrieval research at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, she joined the faculty, teaching linguistics and Chinese, and doing reserarch on “Black English.” During that time, she moved to East Cleveland, a bi-racial working class suburb, and began writing a column for the local weekly newspaper. When it closed, she founded, published, and sold advertising for a new free weekly, the East Cleveland CITIZEN, which was published until 1982.
Ms. Seymour came to Chautauqua County in 1972, married a musician, worked as a researcher in a county-non-profit collaboration, spent a summer playing country music in Superior, Wisconsin, became assistant mayor of Jamestown, worked in the city’s Department of Development when the mayor went to Congress, started and owned a bookshop for 18 years, worked for the Regional Planning Board, became a mother in 1979, worked as family editor for the local paper, and was elected mayor of Jamestown in 1991 for one term.
She was born in Rochester and grew up on a farm in the Finger Lakes region of the state with two sisters and a little brother. Her parents were both graduates of Cornell University. Farm life included getting the cows for milking, feeding calves, pigs, and chickens, gathering eggs, driving a tractor for haying, and cultivating field corn.
Ms. Seymour’ son Richard, a 2003 graduate of Columbia University, is in a graduate program in engineering at the University of Southern California.
Ms. Seymour said, “I value the library as the most precious institution in Jamestown and want to be of help.”
Terrence J. Spencer, retired, worked as a caseworker and an investigator for Chautauqua County Social Services Department from 1984 -1998. Between 1962 and 1980, he worked for the New York State Police and Park Police as a state trooper and a park patrol officer at Allegany State Park.
Spencer earned a bachelor’s degree from Empire State College and did graduate work at Case Western Reserve University.
Spencer belongs to the Audubon Society, Southern Tier Woodcarvers, Vikings Lodge, America Legion, Lakewood Rod and Gun Club, and Sierra Club. He has done volunteer work for RSVP, Habitat for Humanity, and the Prendergast Library Literacy Center. He has served as chairman of the staff-parish relations committee at the Christ First United Methodist Church, participated in fund-raising for the food pantry and youth groups, and been active on many small committees within the church. He has been the local fund-raiser coordinator for the National Transplant Assistance Fund.
He and his wife Patricia have a daughter, Laura Germaine, and two grandchildren - Ella, 5, and Lillian, 2, who live in Ohio.
Spencer said, “One reason I want to be a trustee of the proposed James Prendergast Public Library is to be active in keeping our library the very best it can be. We are so fortunate to have our superb library as it is now, but with the tough economic times, the burden to “do more with less” is being felt acutely. Of all the assets we have, our library stands out as a crowning jewel. We all should work to ensure this continues to be so.
“Trustees have serious, far-reaching responsibilities and duties in the operation of our library. Securing funding, making the best use of funds, working with the administrator in policy areas, planning library programs, and promoting the library in our area all take time and work. I have the time and am willing to do the work to accomplish this.
“Throughout my working career, I always had good relations with people I worked with and for. Now retired, I am active as a volunteer in local projects, which I find very rewarding.
“My wife and I are avid readers and use our library a lot. We always make sure to look at the works of local artists while there looking for books. We are staunch library supporters. I find it interesting that whenever I’m in our library, there are people of all ages, sharing the same common interests.
“I mentioned duties above. I have high enough regard for what our library means to everyone in our community, that I would be shirking my duty if I passed up the opportunity to be a trustee. As one of your trustees, I will perform my duties to the best of my abilities. Our library deserves nothing less.”
She earned a bachelor’s degree from Empire State College after attending George Mason University and Jamestown Community College.
She and her family own Kwik Kopy Printing in downtown Jamestown and downtown Warren and Eagles Publishing. She is also the author of a children’s book, How Was Your Day?
Mrs. Uber is a current member of the James Prendergast Library Board of Trustees, Jamestown Area Chamber of Commerce Board, and the Chautauqua Fund. She is the recipient of Business First’s “Top 40 Under 40 Award.”
She has previously served on the boards of the Reg Lenna Civic Center and Meals on Wheels. She has volunteered for the United Way and the American Heart and American Cancer associations. She has also been a soccer coach for the Southwestern Area and Lakewood YMCA.
She and her husband, Bob, have three sons and live in West Ellicott.
Mrs. Uber said, “I believe that knowledge, information and education are key compenents of healthy living. The James Prendergast Library is a critical link in providing these components for everyone, consistently. Edward Ellis, a delegate to the first Constitutional Convention, said it best, “strong libraries build strong communities.”
Eric M. Williams has been pastor of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Jamestown since 2000.
He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history from Williams College in 1986 and from the General Theological Seminary with a master of divinity degree in 1992. He is a former high school teacher.
A resident of Western New York since 1994, Williams is a native of California. He and his wife, the Rev. Susan Anslow Williams, have two daughters who are 7 and 4.
Williams said, “I wish to serve on the Library Board because I love the library and all for which it stands. My family and I are frequent (at least weekly) patrons. I believe that the library is one of the most important institutions at the heart of our community and the heart of our democracy. It is itself democratic, in that it serves and welcomes all the diverse members of our community, and it bolsters democracy by serving to create and support a literate and informed electorate.
“After considering the matter, I also fully support the proposed plan to ensure adequate funding for the library system by creating the new library district. As a board member, I would do my very best to work for the continued success of the library and the careful stewardship of the resources entrusted to it by the public.”
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