(WASHINGTON) – International Brotherhood of Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa, General Secretary-Treasurer Ken Hall, International Vice Presidents At-Large, International Trustees and International Vice Presidents in the Eastern, Southern and Central Regions were elected Friday night in the 2016 Election of International Union Officers, according to unofficial results provided by the Office of the Election Supervisor. International Vice Presidents in the Western and Canadian Regions were elected by acclamation at the 2016 International Convention in June.
“This was a hard-fought campaign and a historically close election,” Hoffa said. “Though we have many challenges before us, now is the time to join together as brothers and sisters and stand strong against those who would destroy the labor movement and deny worker’s the gains they have struggled to achieve. We will continue to lead the fight to organize the unorganized, ensure strong health care, good wages, a secure retirement and holding employers and politicians accountable.”
Hoffa first took office following his victory in December 1998 and was re-elected in 2001, 2006 and 2011. By winning this week, Hoffa is elected to another five-year term that will begin in mid-March 2017.
Hoffa and Hall pledged to continue the progress the Teamsters have made in national bargaining, organizing and political action.
“2017 will be a watershed year for Teamsters and for this nation,” Hall said. “The Teamsters Union will continue to be a force for change and will lead our nation in efforts to improve the lives of working families.”
Stan Hennessy, President, Local Union 31, Delta, BC
Craig McInnes, President, Local Union 938, Mississauga, ON
Western Region Vice Presidents:
Rome Aloise, Secretary-Treasurer, Local Union 853, Oakland, CA
Ron Herrera, Secretary-Treasurer, Local Union 396, Covina, CA
Rick Middleton, Secretary-Treasurer, Local Union 572, Carson, CA
Eastern Region Vice Presidents:
Bill Hamilton, President, Local Union 107, Philadelphia, PA
Dan Kane, Sr., Local Union 202, New York, NY
Sean O’Brien, President, Local Union 25, Boston, MA
Central Region Vice Presidents:
Bill Frisky, Secretary-Treasurer, Local Union 964, Brook Park, OH
Tony Jones, President, Local Union 413, Columbus, OH
Bob Kopystynsky, Local Union 710, Mokena, IL
Avral Thompson, Vice President, Local Union 89, Louisville, KY
Southern Region Vice Presidents:
John Palmer, Local Union 657, San Antonio, TX
Kimberly Schultz, President, Local Union 2011, Sarasota, FL
Jim Kabell, Secretary-Treasurer, Local Union 245, Springfield, MO
Kevin D. Moore, President, Local Union 299, Detroit, MI
Denis Taylor, President, Local Union 355, Baltimore, MD
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents more than 1.4 million hardworking men and women in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visitwww.teamster.org for more information and follow us on Twitter @teamsterpower.
Hoffa: Teamsters Will Work With President-Elect On Worker Issues
November 10, 2016
Infrastructure, Trade, Retirement Security Are Common Interests
(WASHINGTON) – The following is a statement from Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa about the election of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States:
“On behalf of the 1.4 million Teamsters, I want to congratulate President-elect Trump on his victory. Americans have voted, and we respect their choice at the ballot box. The Teamsters will work with President-elect Trump on numerous issues essential to the nation’s workers in an effort to improve the lives of millions who continue to struggle to make ends meet.
“For more than a year, the Teamsters have been pushing a platform that prioritizes building, maintaining and repairing the nation’s faltering infrastructure – a stated priority of President-elect Trump. U.S. roads, rails, energy plants and water systems have been ignored for far too long. This country needs a plan to invest more, and we will work with the Trump Administration to craft a solution.
“Additionally, the President-elect has made promises to the American people on trade and manufacturing that are important to our members. We are ready to work with him to find common ground that will benefit working families.
“Finally, the Teamsters understand that workers who invest in their retirement through pensions, other savings and Social Security deserve to be able to rely on their nest eggs in their golden years. Again, we are ready to work with him to formulate a plan that allows seniors to live with dignity.”
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visitwww.teamster.orgfor more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/teams
It doesn’t matter if you are a registered Democrat, Republican or Independent. What matters is that you vote and only vote for those representatives that stand with you and issues that are important to you. If your elected officals voted or votes in favor of “Right-to-Work” legislation they are obviously not with you. It is time to send a a strong message to our elected officials that those choosing to vote against their hard working constituents will no longer have your support. Please ask your family and friends to support you by also voting against them.
Hall: WV Legislature Sides With Corporate Interests Over Workers
Teamsters Pledge to Remember RTW, Prevailing Wage Votes
(CHARLESTON, W.Va.) – The following is the official statement of Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer and Local 175 President Ken Hall on the West Virginia Legislature’s override of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s vetoes of so-called right-to-work and prevailing wage legislation today:
“This is a dark day for our state. Lawmakers have chosen to side with out-of-state billionaires over hardworking West Virginians.
“The Teamsters, together with other union members and working West Virginians, turned out to strongly oppose these bills because we understood passing them would do nothing to help workers earn a fair living. Instead, they’re just another excuse for big business to rake in record profits on the backs of those seeking to provide for their families. Their approval is a continuation of the corporate takeover of the political process.
“We thank those lawmakers who stood up for working families in West Virginia. But pro-worker allies will not forgive nor will we forget those lawmakers who have turned against their constituents. The Teamsters look forward to Election Day 2016 when we will stand together and repay elected officials who sided with billionaire industrialists like the Koch brothers over workers. We will remember in November!”
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.
“Paycheck Protection Bill” Wins House Panel’s Approval
Write your PA Representative and tell them to stop wasting your tax dollars on frivolous union busting legislation and do something constructive for their constituents and VOTE NO on SB501 and any amendments to this bill
Below is a letter sent to all PA House Members
January 28, 2016
RE: “Paycheck Protection Bill” Wins House Panel’s Approval
Dear PA Representative:
On January 26, 2016 the House Committee approved SB501 by a party-line vote.
This “paycheck protection” is an unnecessary new law backed by big corporations, CEOS, and special interest groups to silence the voice of working families and their unions, which ensure workers are treated fairly, and can secure fair pay and safe working conditions. This bill deals with “Paycheck Protection Deception”.
“Paycheck protection” is part of a national effort being pushed by the same big corporations and CEOs who for years boosted their profits by sending American jobs overseas. Now the corporate special interests are targeting Pennsylvania to silence the voice of working families in our political system.
“Paycheck protection” attempts to silence the voice of public servants, including police officers, firefighters, and teachers. The push for “paycheck protection” is a part of national push, led by corporate special interest groups, to restrict workers’ rights and working families’ voice in the political process.
The PA Conference of Teamsters is appalled by some of the PA House member’s total disregard for their hard working constituents.
No worker can be forced to fund a union’s political and legislative activities. As it stands, union members choose whether to join the union, set their own dues, elect their own leaders, and vote on where and how their money will be spent.
There are so many dire problems facing Pennsylvania and yet some members of the PA House and PA Senate find it necessary to continue to waste time and taxpayers’ money playing politics instead of taking care of critical issues like for instance passing a budget.
You are not being entirely forthright with your constituents by claiming that these deductions from unions are costing the taxpayers a lot of tax dollars.
If you haven’t bothered to look at the collective bargaining agreements between the state and the union maybe you should take the time to enlighten yourself. Many collective bargaining agreements already have provisions dealing with the cost of deductions. One of the Commonwealths biggest collective bargaining agreements already addresses Political Contribution deductions. (See the language on page two)
This language was mutually agreed to between the Commonwealth and the union through collective bargaining.
POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE DEDUCTIONS
Section 1 The Employer agrees to deduct from the paycheck of employees covered by this Agreement voluntary contributions to the Union’s Political Action Committee. The Employer shall make such deductions only in accordance with the written authorization of respective employees which shall specify the amount, frequency and duration of the deductions.
Section 2 The Employer shall transmit the monies deducted in accordance with this Article to the Union’s Political Action Committee in accordance with the procedures agreed to by the Employer and the Union.
Section 3 The Union shall reimburse the Employer for the Employer’s actual cost for the expenses incurred in administering this Article.
Based on the above mutually agreed to language, there is no cost to the taxpayers and therefore there is no rhyme or reason to reinvent the wheel since cost is apparently not the motivating factor here.
Therefore, the only rational conclusion is that this bill is designed to specifically silence the voice of working families in our political system.
On behalf of the PA Conference of Teamsters and our 95,000 members, we are asking you to standup for the working men and women of Pennsylvania and vote no on SB501 and any other similar legislation. These are the people that protect you and your families, deliver your food and goods, provide safe transportation, educate your children and so on.
Working men and women have a right to voice their political views and they should not be stifled by having their representatives attempt to silence them through unnecessary legislation.
CC: Hon. Governor Tom Wolf
PA State Senate
General President James P. Hoffa, IBT
Joseph Molinero, President Teamsters Joint Council No. 40
All Affiliates of the PA Conference of Teamsters
Billionaires’ Attempt to Buy PA Supreme Court Fails Miserably
WORKING CLASS HITS THE TRIFECTA
Pennsylvanians Elect Teamster-Endorsed Judges Throughout Court System
HARRISBURG, Pa., Nov. 5, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania's working families won a major victory at the polls on Nov. 3 when voters elected judges throughout the court system that were endorsed by labor unions across the state.
The results sent a strong message to special interest groups that poured millions into the state to support anti-union and anti-worker candidates – Pennsylvania's courts are not for sale.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that a political advocacy group with ties to the Koch brothers, the Republican Leadership Committee, poured approximately $1 million into TV and digital advertising in an effort to defeat candidates that will support working families.
"This was a resounding victory for Pennsylvania's middle class," said William Hamilton, President of the Pennsylvania Conference of Teamsters. "I am proud that the working men and women of this state turned out to elect these great candidates. We will not allow billionaires and their puppet organizations to come into our state and buy elections."
The Teamsters endorsed the following candidates in the Supreme and Superior Courts:
Hon. David Wecht, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice-Elect Hon. Kevin Dougherty, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice-Elect Hon. Christine Donohue, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice-Elect Hon. Alice Dubow, Judge of the Pennsylvania Superior Court-Elect Michael Wojcik, Esq., Judge of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court-Elect
Founded in 1903, the Teamsters Union represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and "like" us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.
Contact: Tom Felice, (717) 233-8803
The middle class and the working men and women of the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania scored a decisive victory at the polls on November 3rd by standing up and sending a strong message to the billionaires that Pennsylvania ISNOT FOR SALE!
The PA Conference of Teamsters would like to congratulate the following Teamster endorsed candidates for their hard fought victories.
We would also like to thank all of our PA Conference of Teamsters affiliates for getting the vote out.
Hon. David Wecht PA Supreme Court Justice-elect
Hon. Kevin Dougherty-PA Supreme Court Justice-elect
Hon. Christine Donohue PA Supreme Court Justice-elect
Hon. Alice Dubow Judge of the PA Superior Court-elect
Michael Wojcik, Esq. Judge of the PA Commonwealth Court-elect
"Paycheck Deception" Bill passes in the PA Senate and it now goes to the PA House
PA Senate Bill 501 the “Paycheck Protection Bill”, which includes some minor changes, past in the PA Senate last week by a slim margin.
The bill, even with the changes, is still an anti-union bill that silences the voices of working families.
No worker can be forced to fund a union’s political and legislative activities. As it stands, union members choose whether to join the union, set their own dues, elect their own leaders, and vote on where and how their money will be spent.
The deduction of dues from a paycheck is collectively bargained for between the union and the employer. Furthermore, even some of the Commonwealth’s collective bargaining agreements state that the union agrees to reimburse the Commonwealth for the political deductions.
Therefore, there is no rational reason for such legislation to be entertained other then to bring harm to labor and the hard working men and women of this great Commonwealth.
The PA Conference is strongly opposed to this bill and genuinely disappointed with the Senate on this vote.
On behalf of the PA Conference of Teamsters we are asking our affiliates to contact their PA State Representatives and tell them to stand with the working people and vote NO on SB 501.
The billionaires are trying to buy the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Tell your senators and representatives Pennsylvania is not for sale and start listening to your hard working constituents.
We would like to thank the following Senators for standing up for the working men and women and who demonstrated that they are concerned with protecting family-sustaining wages and the middle class in the Commonwealth.
THANK YOU FOR STANDING UP FOR THE HARD WORKING MEN AND WOMEN IN THE COMMONWEALTH OF PA
Protecting Trades Workers from Government Overreach
PA State Rep. Gene Digirolamo discusses his opposition to House Bill 874 and offers his support to the carefully struck balance in existing law which protect workers and employers. Click on his picture to listen to him address the Speaker of the House
PA State Rep. Gene Digirolamo
THE PA SENATE HAS INTRODUCED SB 650 A "RIGHT-TO-WORK BILL" CALL YOU PA SENATOR AND PA LEGISLATOR AND TELL THEM NO ON SB650
Right-to-Work? It's all wrong for workers: William Hamilton
By PennLive Op-Ed The Patriot-News on April 10, 2015 at 2:00 PM, updated April 10, 2015 at 2:01 PM
By William Hamilton
Pennsylvania is generally a friendly place for workers. But some lawmakers are trying to change that, and the Pennsylvania Conference of Teamsters isn't standing still and letting that happen.
There are many serious problems pending in the Commonwealth that need to be addressed instead of wasting valuable time and resources on Right-to-Work legislation that will reduce wages.
Some members of the Pennsylvania House and Senate believe it is more important to pass right-to-work legislation than take care of the most critical problems facing the state, which they were elected to do.
School funding, infrastructure and good-paying jobs need their attention, not a measure that would devastate the middle class.
It is quite obvious these members have been bought out by billionaires and organizations who are more interested in lining the pockets of Wall Street and big business than helping the hard-working men and women in Pennsylvania maintain good paying jobs.
Right-to-work could more aptly be called "right-to-poverty.
Right-to-work is wrong.
It could more aptly be called "right-to-poverty."
Many of our fathers, grandfathers, relatives and ancestors fought and died helping workers achieve better wages, working conditions and safety in the work place by forming unions.
Unions have always helped strike a balance between the employee and the employer.
Our lawmakers promised to create good paying jobs in this state yet some are entertaining legislation that will force many of us into lower paying jobs by instituting such laws.
By lowering wages, elected officials would hurt the tax base and drive many more constituents into a life of low wages and welfare benefits to feed their families and make ends meet.
This will only add more stress on a system that is already overburdened. Even The Wall Street Journal recently published an article stating that wages in Right-to-Work states are much lower.
The cleverly worded title to the Folmer bill is "The Freedom of Employment Act." But it is nothing more than a bill designed to destroy unions and good-paying jobs and has nothing to do whatsoever with freedom in the workplace.
Lawmakers and the public shouldn't be fooled.
William Hamilton is the president of the Pennsylvania Conference of Teamsters.
TEAMSTERS LOCAL 830 SECRETARY/TREASURER DANIEL H. GRACE LAUDS GOVERNOR-ELECT TOM WOLF FOR BARRING YUENGLING BEER PRODUCTS FROM INAUGURATION BALL
Grace Says Yuengling CEO’s Anti-Worker/Anti-Union Stance Is Reason for Exclusion
PHILADELPHIA, PA -- The leader of Philadelphia-based Teamsters Local 830 today lauded the decision of Governor-Elect Tom Wolf to exclude Yuengling Beer products from his inaugural ball in Harrisburg next Tuesday, January 20, 2015. Teamsters Local 830 Secretary/Treasurer Daniel H. Grace believes that D. G. Yuengling & Sons, Inc.’s products were barred from the menu at the Governor’s Inaugural Ball because of Yuengling President Dick Yuengling’s decidedly anti-worker/anti-union stance. The boycott of Yuengling has also been endorsed and supported by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the PA Conference of Teamsters, and the PA AFL-CIO.
“Every union member in Pennsylvania is indebted to Governor-Elect Wolf for this strong statement on behalf of the state’s labor movement. By standing against Yuengling, he has stood up for the little guy,” said Grace. “The Governor-Elect can’t offend anyone publicly over this situation, but I can. The reason there won’t be any Yuengling beer served at the inauguration is that Dick Yuengling is defiantly, aggressively anti-worker and anti-union. For nearly a decade now, he has abused those workers who wished to remain part of the Teamsters union and has steadfastly fought any new attempt to unionize his brewery workers. He’ll tell you otherwise – that his workers don’t want a union – but that’s simply false. Every time he gets a whiff of an organizing effort, he threatens his workers with the loss of their jobs. He has openly stated his disdain for unions and has aggressively lobbied Republican legislators to bring ‘Right To Work’ laws to Pennsylvania, all in the interest of further lining his and other corporate fat cats’ own deep pockets. This decision demonstrates that Governor-Elect Wolf supports Pennsylvania employers who treat their workers fairly.”
Grace knows that certain right-wing Republican factions in the legislature will cynically attempt to undermine his position by noting that Grace was appointed to the governor-elect’s transition team.
“My appointment to the transition team has zero to do with my taking this public stance against Yuengling,” he added. “I am, first and foremost, a labor leader. Unionism is in my blood. Dick Yuengling is the worst kind of union-buster and he doesn’t even attempt to hide it. The reason his beer won’t be served at the governor’s party is the same reason you won’t find it in my refrigerator at home. If you use your bully pulpit to advocate against working people – to try to enrich your already bursting bottom line at the expense of living wages and benefits for workers – then America’s union members and working class families have no need for your product.”
Hoffa Message To The Members: A New Day For The Teamsters
(Washington, DC) In a video message to the 1.4 million members of the Teamsters Union, Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa announced today that the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the U.S. Attorney General for the Southern District of New York have filed an application with Chief Judge Loretta Preska requesting that she approve an agreement to end decades of government oversight over the Teamsters Union. It is anticipated that Judge Preska will approve the agreement.
(PHILADELPHIA) – A group of 47 drivers at FedEx Freight’s East Philadelphia terminal in Croydon, Penn. made history today when they overwhelmingly voted to join Teamsters Local 107 in Philadelphia. The vote was 26-18 in favor of joining Local 107.
“We are tired of getting treated with disrespect and dealing with constantly changing unfair and unwritten work rules,” driver Gary Loftus said. “We also want job security and to be valued for the work we do making FedEx Freight successful.”
“I am so proud of these guys at the East Philadelphia terminal, who stayed strong and united despite the company spending truckloads of money to hire union-busters,” said Bill Hamilton, Teamsters Union International Vice President and President of Local 107. “I am proud of the workers and how they remained focused. Their energy and commitment will propel this campaign in the coming weeks and months.”
Numerous campaigns at FedEx Freight are under way, and the Teamsters Union is committed to helping the drivers win a more secure future.
“The drivers are fed up with FedEx Freight,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. “These workers are tired of management talking down to them at every chance, and they want decent benefits, including more affordable health insurance. They also want consistent and fair working conditions and a more hopeful future. This is why thousands of freight workers at FedEx Freight and Con-way are turning to the Teamsters Union.”
The workers’ campaigns to join the Teamsters have already paid off. At FedEx Freight, the company announced an 80-cent-per-hour raise a few days after Local 107 filed for the election at Cinnaminson, and the company got rid of its overly punitive driver scorecard, which gives drivers infraction points for errors. Also, after organizing got under way at Con-way, the company announced it would increase truck driver pay by $60 million in 2015, and other improvements.
“It seems more than mere coincidence that these two companies have announced significant pay increases just as hundreds of workers across the U.S. are approaching our local unions seeking representation,” said Tyson Johnson, Director of the Teamsters National Freight Division. “The unfulfilled promises that have been made to drivers and dockworkers over the past decade are coming back to haunt management. Workers now realize the only way to achieve meaningful change in the workplace is to get it in writing in a binding contract.”
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents more than 1.4 million hardworking men and women in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters.
The PA Conference was proud to be a part of her dream
Brielle and her Sister - Click picture to view her Princess Party at the Hotel Hershey
Brielle was born October 16th 2008 and at only 6 days old it was discovered that her small intestine had twisted and died and had to be removed. She needed a transplant desperately and spent her first Christmas in the hospital with a line infection…the first of many. On October 5th2012 the family thought their prayers were answered and Brielle received her new intestines. She had her first of three rejections on October 17th and spent the next 55 days in the hospital.
After being re-admitted to the hospital in early December with what seemed to be the flu or another line infection a scope on January 23rd revealed the tumor in her new bowel and on the 25th they had to remove her new intestine. As if this tragic ordeal were not enough for Brielle and her family a routine ct scan prior to discharge revealed over a dozen small B Cell Lymphoma in her brain and liver. This child has spent 1/3 of her life in the hospital, undergone 32 surgeries and is currently taking chemo for the Lymphoma.
On a sad note, Brielle passed away in June 2014. The horses that pulled her princess carriage to Hotel Hershey in late November escorted her coffin to the gravesite. We offer our sincere condolences to Brielle’s family and may Brielle, the strong and courageous little fighter, rest in peace.
Brielle's dream was made possible through and organization known as Jamie's Dream Team. Jamie Holmes is the founder of Jamie’s Dream Team. Her organization can be viewed at:
Whose images will appear on our Public Enemy posters for supporting the attack on the hard working men and women in the Commonwealth of PA??? The working men and women are just trying to make a living, while sustaining a fair and livable wage? Where will our elected officals's loyalties rest? Will it be with the corporate billionaires or their hard working constituents working under labor agreements???
Paycheck Deception Amendment
Paycheck Deception Bill
Photos courtesy of the Rick Smith Show; B. Banditell
Below is a picture of the 1992 PA Conference of Teamsters “Conference Report” showing a building located at 814 North 2nd Street in Harrisburg, PA that will become the official headquarters for the PA Conference of Teamsters. Also shown below are the actual designs used to construct the PA Conference of Teamsters Crest that, still today, adorns the headquarters. To view more unique, rare and historic Teamster item go to our Nostalgia page 1 and Nostalgia page 2.
FROM OVER-THE-ROAD TEAMSTER TO TALK SHOW PROGRAM
Teamster Rick Smith
In 2005, The Rick Smith Show stepped into a local radio world devoid of progressive talk. On a small country & western station, Rick took his Teamster-member outlook to the air and started mixing it up with conservatives from one of the reddest areas north of the Mason Dixon line. His show grew steadily, attracting listeners starved for a voice that spoke to working stiffs who felt the economic floor crumbling beneath them.
Five years after the start of his weekend program, Rick moved to new time slots and new stations. His show now airs Monday-Friday 9pm-12am on WIOO 97.9 FM & 1000 AM (Carlisle/Harrisburg) and WEEO 93.9 & 1480AM (Chambersburg/Shippensburg), where he offers hard truth and commentary with a unique blend of clear-headed, gruff analysis and bemused observation. Lest things get too serious, he spices things up with a laugh or two.
Rick comes by his outlook honestly. He grew up in the projects of Cleveland, ducking local gangs while doing paper routes and odd jobs to help feed his family. After high school, he went out on his own, driving 18 wheelers as a proud union member. Nowadays, Rick, a father of three, is working on a Masters. He feels the calling to spread the word about the desperate needs facing workers, and to make the world a better place for kids growing up in what is becoming an America of rich and poor.
Rick believes somebody has to wake up the American working class to engage in the democratic process, but not in the corporate-funded Tea Party fashion. He has the rough edges and the grit of a Teamster; he’s a street talker, but a street talker with charm.
Under new requirements for 2005, CDL HAZMAT drivers will be required to successfully complete a Federal criminal history background check, have their fingerprints taken and pay additional Federal fees.
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Web Site Last Updated: January 2, 2017
This site and all graphics are designed & maintained by Tom Felice