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Legion Convention Installs New Officers, Notes County Honors

Some of the newly elected and appointed members for the American Legion are pictured. The list includes: Peter Ochocki, Lakewood County Commander; Jeff Levandoski, Falconer 1st Vice Commander; Mattie McIntyre, Brocton 2nd Vice Commander; Barbara Colt, Brocton 3rd Vice Commander/Judge Advocate; Denise Puskar, Fredonia 4th Vice Commander; Henry Link, Brocton Adjutant/Assistant Treasurer; Walter Ackley, Fredonia Treasurer; Stanley Kawski, Brocton Chaplain; Martin Schroeder, Cassadaga, Sergeant at Arms; Mimi Rowland, Brocton Assistant Sergeant at Arms; David Adams, Brocton Service Officer; and Lou Milliman, Mayville AL Riders President.

Last Saturday, legionnaires from across Chautauqua County gathered at Fredonia Memorial Post 59 to elect their new slate of officers for the next year, as well as complete some annual business at its 2024 Convention.

During the meeting outgoing county Commander Kirk Miller presented quite a few awards and certificates. Fourth-grade students from different schools in Chautauqua County received awards and recognition for their “What the Flag Means to me” essays in the county contest. The recipients were: Ryan Spengler, Forestville; Eleanor Pender, Chautauqua Lake; Natalia Johnson, Westfield; Audrey Casel, Frewsburg; Kaila Arroyo, Fredonia; Aria Crossum, Northern Chautauqua Catholic School; Adam Bittinger, Forestville; Frankie Tehan, Lincoln Elementary, Jamestown; Alayna Chase, Fenner, Jamestown; and Brennan Samuelson, Southwestern

The Boy Scout of the year was also recognized. His name is Peter Conley Jr. of Celoron Troop 177 that is sponsored by the American Legion Herman Kent Post 777.

After a search for candidates from area police, fire and first responder agencies several worthy recipients were named as Law Enforcement officer, Firefighter, Corrections officer, and Fire Dept of the year. All the winning recipients were also sent forward to the 8th District and Department of New York contests. Those honored include:

— Fire Department, the village of Lakewood.

Kirk Miller, outgoing county commander, passes the gavel to new county Commander Peter Ochocki.

— Firefighter, Chief Robert Weiskerger of Sunset Bay Fire Department.

— Corrections officer, Keri Genthner, Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office.

— Police Officer, Deputy Brian Hanner Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office.

Additionally, A candidate from the legion ranks is chosen annually as Legionnaire of the year, this year the award went to Henry Link of John W. Dill Post 434 in Brocton for his steadfast commitment to the American Legion.

Other Legion Awards were presented to Cassadaga Memorial Post 1280 as the Most Outstanding Post in the county for 2024 that is based on their recorded activity level and community engagement. And for several years running the top membership trophy stayed at Ellery Center Memorial Post 947.

During the ceremony, Miller gave out some citizenship awards in conjunction with the Department of New York, referred to as Red White and Blue certificates. These awards recognize individuals, companies or agencies that by their own accord give to veterans or maintain patriotic values that become recognized by the Legion community. Awards were presented to:

— The Dunkirk Animal Clinic for generous donation and veterans’ engagement.

— The OBSERVER in Dunkirk for its contribution to keeping the legion and veterans’ affairs in the news.

— Beverly Adzimo, a Brocton resident who assists veterans of several different associations by providing transportation and logistical support.

Miller then passed out certificates of appreciation to the members of his staff and fellow legionnaires.

Following the awards ceremony, legionnaires got down to business electing delegates to the higher-level conventions as well as the new slate of officers for the coming year, followed by their installations.

Newly elected and appointed members are: Peter Ochocki, Lakewood County Commander; Jeff Levandoski, Falconer 1st Vice Commander; Mattie McIntyre, Brocton 2nd Vice Commander; Barbara Colt, Brocton 3rd Vice Commander/Judge Advocate; Denise Puskar, Fredonia 4th Vice Commander; Henry Link, Brocton Adjutant/Assistant Treasurer; Walter Ackley, Fredonia Treasurer; Stanley Kawski, Brocton Chaplain; Martin Schroeder, Cassadaga, Sergeant at Arms; Mimi Rowland, Brocton Assistant Sergeant at Arms; David Adams, Brocton Service Officer; Lou Milliman, Mayville AL Riders President.

The officers were installed by 2025 department commander candidate and past district commander John Miga. Recognition was made of outgoing long term adjutant James Hayward of Cassadaga where he was thanked for his dedication. Also, a certificate with a resolution was made of appreciation to Miller for his year of leadership. The convention concluded with refreshments provided by Fredonia Memorial Post 59.

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