Articles of Interest


Wheatfield businessman assists wounded veteran

by jmaloni


Sat, Feb 2nd 2013 07:00 am
Above, the completed home for Cpl. Paul Schaus. Inset, Michael Gurnett, left, is shown with Schaus, whose new home, built by Homes for Our Troops, is in North Tonawanda. Mike Hetrick, far right, works on Schaus' home.

Above, the completed home for Cpl. Paul Schaus. Inset, Michael Gurnett, left, is shown with Schaus, whose new home, built by Homes for Our Troops, is in North Tonawanda. Mike Hetrick, far right, works on Schaus' home.

While on his second deployment in Afghanistan, U.S. Marine Cpl. Paul Schaus was left a double amputee after stepping on a landmine during a firefight with insurgents in Helmand Province, Afghanistan on June 5, 2009.

Following a mission protecting another squad while it destroyed an enemy bunker, the Western New York native and his squad came under enemy fire. For nearly an hour, the mortars and small arms fire continued as Schaus and his squad held their ground and engaged the enemy in close range.

While taking his team to check the flank for enemy movement, Schaus stepped on a landmine and was critically injured, losing both of his legs above the knees and a finger on his left hand. Life saving measures by his squad readied him for MEDEVAC to Camp Leatherneck, where despite having twice gone into cardiac arrest, Schaus was able to be airlifted to Landstuhl, Germany. He was eventually transferred stateside and spent a month at Bethesda Naval Medical Center before finally being moved to Walter Reed for rehabilitation. Now back home, Schaus was faced with the need for a place to live that would be able to accommodate his needs.

The national organization Homes for Our Troops (Homesforourtroops.org) stepped in. When this organization put the call to this community for volunteers and donations to build a home for the corporal, Alarm Design Systems Inc., owned Michael Gurnett of Wheatfield, volunteered without hesitation.

"As a veteran myself, I understand the dedication and sacrifices made for our country. There was never a doubt that this was an ideal way to help someone in our community," stated Gurnett. "After learning Cpl. Schaus' story and meeting the amazing young man in person, I knew this was a wise decision."

It is the mission of Homes for Our Troops to build specially adapted homes for United States service members who have been severely injured in combat missions since Sept. 11, 2001. All homes are built at no cost to the veterans that are served.

Alarm Design Systems Inc., along with their vendors WatchNet, Tri-Ed Distribution, PDM Services, and Nutone, donated a security system, a closed circuit television system, and a Central Vacuum System for Schaus' new home. Installation was done by owner Gurnett, lead technician Mike Hetrick of Niagara Falls, along with volunteers Carl Heilmann, a teacher at West Street Elementary; Chris Zastrow of the 107th Airlift Wing, Air National Guard; William Menshon, facilities manager, Burchfield-Penney Art Center at Buffalo State College; and Daniel Gurnett, a senior at Starpoint Central School.


Coral thieves caught on camera

Updated: Friday, 25 Jan 2013, 2:50 PM EST
Published : Tuesday, 22 Jan 2013, 5:02 PM EST

  • Lou Raguse

TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) - Annette Kozak and her husband have owned Saltwater Paradise on Main Street in Tonawanda for 20 years. On Friday they took the day off, and left the store in the hands of a worker. On Sunday, they noticed $300 worth of coral was missing.

"It's a hobby, a specialized hobby. So people who like the hobby, they don't really come in and steal," Kozak said. "People think they can come in my store and steal from me? Put their hands in there and think no one's watching them? They got a big thing coming. We are."

She says the thief took the closest camera and turned it away from the tank, thinking then no one would be able to see. But little did he realize the next closest camera just 10 feet away caught the whole thing on tape.

The video shows two men enter with a young child. Then they were joined by a woman and another young man. Kozak says she has seen the man, who calls himself "Chris," with the gray hoodie before.

"He comes in here and he looks around. And sometimes he buys stuff and sometimes he doesn't. But he always has people with him," she said.

Now she thinks he was casing the place.

After "Chris" points to the tank, the man in the striped hoodie rolls up his sleeve and drops coral into a plastic bag. Later, while the men distract the worker and the woman with the child acts as a lookout, he pulls out the bag and grabs more.

Caught on tape, with his hand in the tank, Kozak says this story is to be continued.

"To teach people a lesson, he's going to be prosecuted. And I want reimbursement for that or he's going to be giving back my coral," Annette said.

The most expensive piece of coral stolen is hammer coral from Australia worth $150.

Now they just need your help identifying the people on the tape. If you know who any of these four people are, call City of Tonawanda Police at 692-2121.

Here is the link: http://www.wivb.com//dpp/news/crime/coral-thieves-caught-on-camera



Alleged coral thieves come forward

Updated: Thursday, 24 Jan 2013, 10:25 PM EST
Published : Thursday, 24 Jan 2013, 5:50 PM EST

  • Luke Smith
  • Posted by: Eli George

TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) - The thieves who stole several valuable pieces of coral from a store in Tonawanda have apparently come forward.

The owner of Saltwater Paradise tells News 4 that four people returned the stolen coral on Thursday. The Australian coral, which is worth hundreds of dollars, appears to be dead.

"Now and then [we'd think] 'Why is this coral missing?' And we never had proof who was taking it and we couldn't finger-point. We had to swallow the loss because we didn't know who was doing it," said co-owner Annette Kozak.

We're waiting to hear back from police whether any charges have been filed.

Follow-up Link: http://www.wivb.com/dpp/news/crime/alleged-coral-thieves-come-forward


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