Down a caretaker, Godfrey’s Pond turns to volunteers
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Down a caretaker, Godfrey’s Pond turns to volunteers

Aug 15, 2017

STAFFORD — “The Best Keep Secret in Genesee County” is looking for more attention from job seekers.

Genesee County Fish & Game Protection Association officials said Friday they are seeking to hire a new caretaker for Godfrey’s Pond.

“We’re in the process of accepting applications for a new caretaker,” Board President Michael Rickard told a membership meeting Friday at the association’s clubhouse. “We’re putting our ads out there and we will canvas and get someone in her before the winter months.”

In the absence of a chief to oversee the maintenance of both the conservation club’s grounds and membership, the Association will turn to a familiar source to bear those burdens — its active volunteers.

“They are picking up the burden, the ox, so to say, and carrying on,” Rickard said, with a small committee already at the task. “If there’s anybody else that wants to join us, you’re more than welcome to lend us a hand.”

Members packed the meeting, including several who had signed petitions asking for Dan Constantino to remain on as caretaker.

“I’m glad for him that he’s able to move on, and I’d like to say, that on his behalf we went around with a petition ... and got about 40 signatures of people that felt he was doing a good job,” Victoria Southall said, rising from the audience.

Southall said members responded positively to his tenure, but she also heard a refrain of behind-the-back comments against him.

“I wish that it could stop,” she said. “I think that’s what happened to Dan ... I think that’s a shame, and I wish him and his family the best of luck.”

“I’m very heartbroken that he’s not here any longer,” added Kathleen Anna, who gathered more petitions.

They agreed it was a moot point.

According to Rickard, Constantino informed him of a desire to resign as caretaker and at a July 25 meeting, the association’s board voted unanimously to trigger an at-will clause in Constantino’s contract.

Rickard was out of the state for both actions, and stood by his officers’ decision.

“I feel we’ve been fair and just in reference to this,” Rickard said, noting that Constantino was offered a chance to submit his resignation, and was offered to continue using the caretaker’s residence until the end of August. “I know some of you folks don’t feel we’ve done right, but it was a board of director’s decision ... there’s only one signature on it, and it’s mine.”

Much of the meeting was spent discussing issues to resolve, from more frequent financial accounting actions; to difficulties in managing the agency’s tax-exempt status against ideas — like allowing over-winter trailer storage — that would bring in more funding.

But just as much went into reporting physical improvements to the campgrounds, shooting sports areas and natural features of Godfrey’s Pond, and other positives. The trout being stocked into the pond and its raceway are holding up well, and algae and aquatic feeds are being removed with new equipment.

New memberships have already surpassed 2016’s, Jim Southall, the association’s financial secretary said, before three more were accepted. Conservation students from BOCES will be back in a month, Cub Scouts on a day camp returned Monday.

In the near future, Rickard said he hopes a new caretaker will be there to greet them. The position is demanding, both physically and in public relations.

Talking after the meeting, Rickard and longtime association member Brad Rogers shift to the sanctuary the Genesee County Fish & Game Protection Association has held for over a century. Gaining a caretaker is paramount, but they need more people to realize it.

“We want people to come in the spring, and leave in the fall,” as enthusiastic promoters, Rogers said. “We want to make this a wholesome place, to show people the gem we have here.”

By Jim Krencik, The Daily News

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