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Letters to the editor

September 8, 2016
Westfield Republican

Parents, politics and petitions

Dear editor,

I am really struggling with what I have just witnessed take place by someone in the Republican Party of Chautauqua County.

I am the mother-in-law of Sherry Bjork who is running for Chautauqua County Family Court Judge, so I have witnessed first hand what has taken place. Also, I might add I have not hesitated to make others aware of the underhanded tactics being used.

Whoever, has to be mighty desperate to deliberately transpose house numbers, change street names, misspell first and last names hoping to eliminate signatures from her petition so she wouldn't meet the quota. I happen to have been one whose first name they copied wrong omitting one "r" so it appeared no one living at my address spelled their name "Loraine." I'm sure whoever copied my name, spelling it incorrectly, would not have done so if they had known I was Sherry's mother-in-law!

I might add, Mr. Brent Sheldon was the individual who contested Sherry's petition in Chautauqua County Court where the Honorable Paul Wojtaszek upheld the petition. Mr. Sheldon then took it to the Appellate Division in Rochester where the judges' decisions were unanimous.


Lorraine Ruhlman

YWCA?Westfield President talks organization

Dear editor,

The YWCA USA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. YWCA Westfield is undergoing a top-to-bottom reorganization for the purpose of aligning our programs with this mission. We will continue to provide quality child services to the community and we will do so in a manner that empowers the people who work in the programs, assures dignity for all and greater development for the children.

YWCA Westfield operates a preschool, a universal pre-kindergarten classroom, it offers an afterschool program, a girls' program, and preschool and school-age child care. Four of these five programs are underfunded and the YWCA has borrowed money to keep them going. These services are vital to our community and the directors are not willing to eliminate any one of them, but the growing debt must be paid and spending must be reduced. To accomplish this, as YWCA Board President, I am serving as the unpaid acting executive director until the debt is paid.

The board of directors and board of trustees chose to withdraw from the proposed Early Head Start program. While the proposal sounded very favorable to the community and the YWCA, the two promised financial enhancement that would have assured full funding were not made part of the contract. We were also faced with the choice of keeping the construction budget under the threshold that would create an indefinite federal lien on the YWCA facility or accepting the lien. We chose to limit risk by withdrawing from the EHS opportunity and focus instead on our existing programs for children.

We are pleased to announce Alexandra Aiello as the new director of child services. Under her direction new staff positions are being created to offer professional growth for YWCA staff members and top quality services to our young clients and their families. You may continue to depend on YWCA Westfield for childcare, preschool, universal pre-kindergarten, the afterschool program and the girls' program.

Programs for women, upgrades to our gymnasium, and improvement to our guest rooms are also in the works. Keep your eyes on the YWCA.


Renee Miller, President

Board of Directors

YWCA Westfield

Behind the scenes of YWCA Westfield

Dear editor:

Two boards serve the YWCA Westfield, the board of directors and the board of trustees. The directors oversee the operation of the YWCA and its programs. The trustees, whose members are elected by the directors, handle the physical assets and endowed investments of the YWCA.

The Moore Trust, an additional trust, is administered by HSBC Bank. It is important to note that these trusts are not under the control of the board of directors.

The goal and mission of our nine-member board of trustees is to ensure there is funding to contribute to the YWCA budget and physical plant. We do our best to act as fiduciaries of those funds. It is fair to say we are fiscally conservative as a group. Our investments must be able to provide income as well as growth so that we have the ability to meet our obligations to the YWCA Westfield into the future.

The 990s for 2013 and 2014 show a surplus only because of investment income. In removing that endowed investment income, both years presented would show a loss of more than $46,000 and $47,000, respectively. The amount of input from the two trusts is not a "given" amount. As most people know, investments are subject to the performance of the stock/income markets.

The YWCA's decision to withdraw from a recent Head Start expansion project was difficult and complex. The project was intended to be a partnership between the YWCA Westfield and Chautauqua Opportunities, Inc., involving the alteration of the YWCA's building in Westfield. The board of trustees questioned the finances of a project that would push the YWCA into a position of having a federal lien on the YWCA's building. All bids were far in excess of the architectural estimates, and even with tremendous extra effort by the low bidder, the project cost, as presented by COI, was not low enough to guarantee we would not have a federal lien imposed on the building. Legal counsel helped guide us through the entire process.

The YWCA Westfield is probably no different than many other not-for-profit organizations as it relies on our community for survival. The YWCA is blessed to have its endowments. Without the income from those endowments, the agency may not have survived to this point. The board of trustees continues to do its best to ensure that it provides at least one critical piece of the YWCA budget.


David S. Brown, Ph.D.

President, YWCA Board of Trustees



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