The Dansville Online
  • Column: Do you blame the band if they don't march on Memorial Day?

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  • There is a Memorial Day tradition in Wellsville. After remembering those who served and gave their lives for our country, residents line Main Street for a tradition parade featuring the best band in New York state, the Wellsville Marching Lions.
    The music program, 120-strong in grades 6 to 12, may not be lining up at 9:15 a.m. Monday for the parade.
    While they were running a fundraiser carnival in Island Park Friday night, a hot water main burst above the music room at the high school, dumping water for hours on 150 school-owned instruments, booster-owned equipment and equipment owned by those 120 students that were stored in their lockers.
    The water directly drilled a marimba made of rosewood the wood is very sensitive to water and temperature. This $12,000 beautiful instrument is now at the mercy of an expert if it can be repaired.
    Tyler Avnet received a call Saturday morning about the water main break. He was in his band room in 10 minutes, a band room that had two inches of standing water the night before and even 12 hours later, was a sauna, complete with steam and fogged windows.
    Even without water, expensive wood instruments and cases are not to be stored within the same building as those conditions.
    Avnet is a West Seneca native, and he left Buffalo for college at Arizona State University. He returned home to work at his alma mater then jumped at the chance to teach the storied program in Wellsville.
    He took the job for one reason he said — to inspire others.
    That he has.
    Whether you are his top student or not his student but a fan of music, Tyler will work with you. He has a gift of patience with kids and it's why they work so hard for him. It's why the music boosters (parents) work equally as hard.
    Tyler worked a full day in the ticket booth at the carnival Saturday and was back at it Sunday. The other 12 hours of the day, he painfully filled dumpsters.
    Music, papers, books, everything in his filing cabinets and his office were gone. They couldn't lift a simple electronic keyboard. It was filled with water.
    Then he saw his wooden bassoon, his personal instrument he keeps stored in a soft case made of wood and cloth. The $8,000 piece of equipment is warped.
    Ablifiers were submerged in water, two expensive cases were damaged and water got inside the lockers.
    In a normal year, Tyler will have instruments cleaned and the cost is $20 to $20 per instrument. The wood instruments, the flutes, the clarinets and others use pads which reach a high level of humidity and water when used in the classroom and in a parade or competition. They may need new pads which costs between $200 and $300 per instrument. There are 150 instruments worth $200,000. Then there are the instruments owned by the students in the lockers.
    Page 2 of 2 - Tyler has additional concerns. Like the spare stock of the drum head, other equipment where the heat and moisture is inside the wood that did not get hit by water. He said the room felt like a jungle the next day.
    Instead of complaining, placing blame or canceling the marching of the Memorial Day parade, he is singing the praises of others.
    “The custodians did the best they could, they were awesome,” he said. “They were there until 4 a.m., they put in extra work and time. I give them a lot of credit. And then they were back in there four hours later at 8 a.m.”
    There are industrial dehumidifiers in the room and a crew is tearing up drywall. The steam has turned to dust from the drywall so Tyler said no students are allowed in the area.
    Parent volunteers are helping drag all the equipment in the hall.
    But will they march on Memorial Day?
    I found Tyler late Sunday. he was back in the ticket booth trying to raise every last dollar he could for the program.
    “We need to get the band there ... we are a young and energetic group,” he said. “I want to march, they want to perform. If we can do it, we'll do the best we can.”
    (John Anderson is the regional editor of Gatehouse Media Southern Teir newspapers. He can be reached at johnanderson@eveningtribune.com) Tyler Avnet can be reached at tavnet@wlsv.org

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