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Hundreds attend meeting on Tonawanda health issues

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Mike Desmond/WBFO News
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Several hundred people from the City and Town of Tonawanda turned out Wednesday night to discuss what are seen as the most severe health problems in their communities.The meeting in Brounshidle Post in Kenmore was called by the Clean Air Coalition which asked those who attended to look through several pages of health issues and pick the five most in need of attention.

Executive Director Erin Heaney says the list was put together after community outreach on problems people see, some shown in a new State Health Department study saying there are more cancer cases than average in the city and town.

Coalition Executive Director Erin Heaney says the turnout was a result of a massive effort by her group.

"Community organizing works. Over the past year we've knocked on over 1,000 doors, we made hundreds of phone calls to remind people to come. We've done a lot of work and I think the health study being released was a huge impetus for a lot of people to come out," Heaney said.

Heaney says group has accumulated quantitative and qualitative  data through extensive research over the past year.

Erie County Legislator Kevin Hardwick, who attended the meeting with some of his Canisius College students, says the citizenry will get a chance to confront the Health Department during a public meeting next Tuesday talking about the cancer report.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.