4th-grade essay winners take over Williston Park

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The Williston Park Board of Trustees let fourth graders take over the village for a day in an annual event honoring essay winners. (Photo by Tom McCarthy)

Fourth-graders took over the Williston Park village board for a day Saturday after winning an annual essay writing contest.

For the essay, the children had to write about what they loved about Williston Park.

Trustee Michael Uttaro’s son Matthew usurped Mayor Paul Ehrbar along with other fourth-graders from the St. Aidan School, Center Street School and Jackson Avenue School. Sarah Martin filled in as deputy mayor, replacing Kevin Rynne. Libby McDermott stood in for Trustee William Carr, Claire Condon replaced Trustee Bill O’Brien and Tabitha Shelley replaced Julie Kain as the village clerk.

“Hello, Mr. Mayor!” Ehrbar said to Matthew when he entered the village board room during a workshop meeting before the public meeting. As the children came into the village board room they met the officials they were filling in for.

The mayor and the trustees coached the fourth-graders on how to make motions on agenda items and prepared them with the trustee’s reports.

Attendees got the usual reports from the village trustees, except they were read by the students.  Ehrbar said the tradition started in the late 1990s when his wife, Doreen, was mayor.

“We ask Jackson Avenue, Center Street and Saint Aidan’s to submit essays. The board members read them and go through them to see who picks what,” Ehrbar said. “It’s a very difficult job because the essays by all the kids are great and it’s a difficult choice because they all deserve it.”

The new village board honored Williston American Legion member Ruth Valentine, who received a Woman of Distinction of Award from Assemblyman Ed Ra (R-Franklin Square).

The board also welcomed Auxiliary Police Officer John Concannon, who will begin patrolling the village. Concannon said that residents will begin seeing more auxiliary police in the neighborhood.

Mayor-for-the-day Uttaro said what makes the village great is its Fire Department and police officers who keep the community safe.

The meeting closed with a photo shoot with the new village board followed by snacks and refreshments.

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