John H. Walker II, former Supervisor of the town of Sheridan, was honored Wednesday as the new pavilion at Sheridan Bay Park welcomed the community. A sign in Walker’s memory now hangs inside the pavilion.
Sheridan Town Supervisor Tom Wik was the first of many to speak at the pavilion’s dedication. Wik has assumed the role on the Town Board that Walker held at the time of his death in early June. “We are dedicating this building in his memory because he was a huge advocate for Sheridan Bay Park,” Wik said of Walker. “He was always at the forefront of making any improvements the park needed.”
Next to speak was Sheridan Highway Superintendent Jeff Feinen, who organized the event and spearheaded the efforts to have the pavilion re-built, with the guidance of Walker, after a 2018 storm destroyed the previous structure. Feinen called the structure the “fruits of the labor” of his discussions with Walker and the Federal Emergency Management Agency over the past few years.
“I think it’s fitting that we dedicate it to John because he pushed us in the right direction and he helped me immensely to get it here,” Feinen said. Feinen first proposed the idea of honoring Walker with a sign at the pavilion at a Town Board meeting in late June.
More than 70 people attended the event, including political leaders across the region. Mayors Doug Essek of Fredonia and Jeff Hornburg of Silver Creek; Supervisors Dan Pacos of Pomfret, Juan Pagan of Dunkirk and Todd Johnson of Hanover; County Legislator Terry Niebel; Assemblyman Andy Goodell; and the entire Sheridan Town Board were among the members in attendance to honor Walker.
Speaking to the crowd, Feinen said, “Here we are today, you look at this turnout and it’s evident with how many people are here what a great guy he was and how much he helped not only Sheridan, but everyone here.”
Walker’s son, John Walker III, spoke about his father before he and Feinen removed the cloak covering the sign in honor of Sheridan’s former Supervisor. Walker III thanked the audience for an “overwhelming” attendance.
“I think a lot of people should be thankful for his efforts, along with people who work in the background. He got a lot of the accolades, but there’s a lot of other people too,” Walker III said. “He really enjoyed working for the Town of Sheridan and enjoyed being on all those various boards.”
Sheridan Town Board member Colleen Yerico followed the unveiling of the sign in Walker’s honor by highlighting his involvement in the community in so many ways.
“John was one of those people who wore many hats. We all wear many hats in our lives … but he had way more hats than probably anybody else I ever knew in my life — and he wore them all very well,” Yerico said.
Niebel, a longtime friend of Walker, spoke to Walker’s pride in his town. “Whenever John spoke about the town of Sheridan, it was with a sense of pride in acknowledgement of what was going on in the town. John believed Sheridan had a bright future,” Niebel said.
Niebel later thanked Walker’s family for fostering his commitment to the town. “Thank you for sharing him with us,” Niebel said. “The town of Sheridan is better for his efforts. We are all better for his efforts.”
Goodell noted how fitting the dedication of the pavilion was to honor Walker because of the things Walker valued in life. “This pavilion is a great memorial to John because it reflects some of his characteristics. … Open and welcoming, while at the same time, practical and an asset. What better way to honor John,” Goodell said.
Niebel shared Goodell’s sentiment regarding the pavilion as a fitting tribute to Walker. “Anytime I think of Sheridan Bay Park, I’ll think of this pavilion,” Niebel said. “… and I’ll think of John, and his commitment to the Town of Sheridan.”
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