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Squabble over Veterans' Council may be at an end

Date: 1/18/2011

Jan. 19, 2011

By Katelyn Gendron

Assistant Editor

AGAWAM — Kibitzing over the Veterans' Council and its appointees may have finally come to a close.

Mayor Richard Cohen told Reminder Publications he has contacted each sitting member of the council to verify their reappointment, in addition to contacting two previous members, Christopher Sanchez and Frank Mazzei, who confirmed their interest in appointment via telephone. The volunteer council has been operating with two vacancies since Sanchez and Mazzei failed to gain reappointment at the end of their terms on April 1, 2010.

"I really don't want to make veterans a political issue. I never have and I never will," Cohen said.

Conflicting reports surfaced last year as to how and when new members should be appointed to the Veterans' Council. Cohen had recommended to the City Council that Todd Crevier, a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Rielly Longtin, a veteran of the Coast Guard to the Veterans' Council last spring filling the vacancies left by Mazzei and Sanchez, who, according to Chair Aldo Mancini would've bypassed other deserving volunteers. Cohen maintained the two never submitted a letter of interest requesting reappointment.

Mazzei and Sanchez said they were surprised by the mayor's inquiry into their appointment to the council.

"It came out of left field," Sanchez said. "I didn't expect to get knocked out to begin with. I don't know what to say."

Cohen's choice to appoint him and Sanchez now, Mazzei said, was nothing more than an act for political gain. "I can see the writing on the wall. Well it is an election year after all," Mazzei added.

Cohen refuted Mazzei's statements, adding that several members of the Veterans' Council — Mancini, Frank Pignatare, Richard Karam, Beverly Stanford-Follis and Francis Curnow — are up for reappointment on April 1 and he wanted to get a jumpstart on reappointments and the filling of vacancies.

The City Council must approve Cohen's recommendations prior to any of the candidates being appointed to the Veterans' Council.

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