BY BILL WOLCOTT
Niagara Gazette — Nine Pendleton teenagers spent their weekend giving Nine-mile Island in Tonawanda Creek a facelift.
The teens, from Pendleton, Lockport and Wheatfield, had been caught at an underage drinking party on Dunnigan Road on Feb. 23. Sheriff's deputies at the time were unable to determine who purchased the Bud Light beer. The teens were charged with underage possession of alcohol and sentenced to 18-hours of community service by Town of Pendleton Judge Edmund Maziarz.
The question then became what that community service would be for the nine teens.
Joe Jastrzemski, who heads the Niagara County Sheriff's work program, likes projects done locally and presented the question to Town Supervisor Jim Riester. After discussing the matter with Councilman Ed Harman, the head of the recreation committee, Riester said it was decided the teens would work at Nine-Mile Island.
According to volunteer Ranger Bob Reynolds, the teens helped clear an area which was overrun by wild rose bushes for a small fruit orchard. Reynolds had been unable to get the regular volunteers to do the job.
Reynolds welcomed the help and thinks the community service can help the offenders as well. "I hope they realize there's more to do than going out and drinking," he said.
It's expected the teens' cases will be adjourned in contemplation of dismissal.
Nine-Mile Island, which was created in Tonawanda Creek during the expansion of the Erie Canal 100 years ago, is 31 acres of land which was acquired by the Town of Pendleton from the State Canal Corporation. Once only accesible by land via a walking trail, visitors can now get to the island from Orbit Road in the Town of Amherst in Erie County. There is a very small dock and few visitors come by boat.
There are campgrounds, nature trails and restroom facilities. It offers low-cost camping for youth groups. All the workers are volunteers.
Pendleton is the site of 9-mile Island and 6-mile island. Three-mile island is near Niagara Falls Boulevard in Ellicott Creek.