GOWANDA - Barbara Nephew is running for the position of village of Gowanda trustee in the upcoming election on March 18. First elected to the village board in 1999, she served five terms.
Nephew is committed to enhancing the rural character and quality of life in Gowanda. She believes Gowanda's destiny should be "a matter of choice not chance."
"It is our people that make Gowanda special," Nephew said. "I have had the pleasure of working with amazing folks and volunteers throughout the years. I appreciate everything that people do to make a difference in our community. I believe a trustee should be a public servant, not a politician. It is one way I can give back to the community."
She and her husband, Mark, have found Gowanda to be a wonderful community to raise their three grown children, Ryan, Alan and Whitney.
Nephew has worked on a number of projects during her tenure in office. The restoration of Chang-Hu Park was among the first projects. What had been a closed off, chain link fenced-in plot of land was transformed into an open and welcoming park, made possible with grant monies she obtained from NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. The gazebo was relocated and restored, and gardens, lights and walkway added to make the park a village landmark and center for Music in the Park and other events. Later she helped secure funds from NYS Parks and Recreation, and organized the community-built Johns Park Play Structure.
In 2000, Nephew also secured a grant from NYS DEC Community Forestry for the "Re-Leaf Gowanda" Project. In the first two years, 180 trees had been planted. As of this year, the Gowanda Tree Committee volunteers and the village have planted more than 900 trees. Nephew believes that the planting of these shade trees is bringing back what was once beautiful tree-lined streets, gives us cleaner air, reduces storm water run-off, and is good for our local environment. "I am grateful for the efforts of our volunteers on the Tree Committee. They plant trees today for the next generation to enjoy. "
Living in the flood plain, she is committed to flood mitigation and taking steps toward reducing the damage of floods in the village. She was successful in writing and receiving a grant from NYS Emergency Management Office for planning and developing a Flood and Hazard Mitigation Plan.
For the past 15 years, Nephew has worked with other volunteers on the Beautification Committee, planning and planting the flower barrels in the business district, utilizing her skills as a Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardener for the public benefit.
"We need to plan for the future, not merely react to the present. We need to see things not only as they are, but what they can be," Nephew said. "Yes, we have challenges, but we also have many resources that can help with solutions. We enjoy a quality of life not found in the suburbs, and must work together to preserve this."
Nephew holds a master's degree in nutrition from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, a bachelor's degree in nutrition and food science at SUNY College at Buffalo, and an associate's degree in agricultural science from SUNY College at Alfred. She works full time as a public health nutritionist and certified diabetes educator with the Seneca Nation Health Systems.