Cyndy Montana - Thank you!

Dear Islanders,

A new Wonder Woman is coming out. I saw the preview. It looks not so much like the goofy Linda Carter version with the bejeweled corset. This new Wonder Woman looks tough—tall, confident, and strong. I work with someone like that. Cyndy Montana. 

Cyndy Montana will resign as my Assistant this month. 

Cyndy’s replacement is Emily Wynne. We chose Emily after interviewing several candidates. She’s extremely bright, has exceptional academic credentials, and a solid confidence about her. I know with Cyndy’s tutelage, she will be great. But I will miss Cyndy.

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Truth be told, at first I could not get anyone to take the job as my Assistant. I asked several town employees, and no one wanted to take the risk. I thought about bringing in someone from my business career, but I realized there would be too much noise if I did. I never dreamt she would agree, but finally I asked Cyndy. I had come to know and trust her during the 2015 campaign. And like Jim Sharpe, (my Deputy Supervisor who accepted the position after other Town Council members turned it down), Cyndy agreed to work with me; after much persuasion. I always knew it would be temporary. Cyndy is way too qualified to be my Assistant. 

And she was not my Assistant. She was a leader. Everything I have accomplished as Supervisor worth anything is, in part, because of Cyndy. I cannot overstate what an asset she has been. She can call any office in the State and get the right person on the phone—and often sweet talk them. She can look at the most complicated issues and quickly assess the appropriate course of action. And I’ll tell you what, having a six-foot tall woman with the confidence and swagger of Tony Robins in an Iron Man suit to accompany you to meetings ain’t such a bad thing either. 

But don’t let Cyndy’s mirror shades and heels fool you—Cyndy is as real as it gets. 

She grew up a true tom boy on a Dairy farm in Quebec—milking cows at 4:30 am almost every day. She loved all sports, but Basketball was her passion. In High School, she was named to the Quebec All-Star team and was one of the top players in Eastern Canada. She pretends not to be so good anymore, but trust me. She can play. I played with her in the Gus Macker last year, and I still smile thinking about her hook shot. 

She went on to play in college, but determined there were more important pursuits in life than basketball. She studied to enter the hospitality industry and during school managed a prominent local bar. Eventually, she went on to manage a far more prominent bar in Toronto.  The Four Seasons where she welcomed everyone from Michael Jordan to Norm from “Cheers.” She was then recruited to manage the Prince of Wales Front Office at Niagara-on-the-Lake before accepting her dream job in charge of Quality Assurance for spas and resorts throughout Ontario. Somewhere in between all this, she took her skills to work in high-level fundraising and public relations for a shelter for abused women and children.

Lest I forget, among her many accomplishments, there is one that Cyndy received the most attention for in the press: Beer Hats. For those who don’t know, Beer Hats was the company she and Pete started that turned beer cases into cowboy hats. Only Cyndy could take what started off as a joke and turn it into 500 thousand dollars a year in sales. Sounds simple, but it turned out to be a very lucrative and fairly complex business —including many licensing agreements with breweries. She sold the company in 2014, which in and of itself, was another great success. 

Grand Island is her “forever home”

She met her husband Pete (born and raised on Grand Island) while she was working in Niagara-on-the-Lake. After they met, he spent some time in Canada, but eventually he wanted to come home. And when they did, it didn’t take Cyndy long to say, “Let’s make this our ‘Forever Home’.” For sure, Grand Island is a place that has embraced her as much as she has embraced it. 

In so many ways, Cyndy has been active and has provided service to our community. Her work with the PTA has been intense and selfless. Before she was ever involved in politics, she helped spearhead the movement to build the new playground at Kaegebein. I remember her out there with a wheel barrel and a shovel, a hard worker just like she was as a young girl in Canada. 

She lives in maybe the quintessential Grand Island location—right near the South Bridge. And her “River Ranch” (as she calls the space she owns alongside the water) has maybe the most spectacular view on Grand Island. Anyone who’s been there knows Cyndy is from the hospitality world. On more than a few occasions, she has welcomed me over to chat and reflect next to a bonfire. Every time I’ve been invited over she makes me, and every other guest she hosts, feel at home. 

Cyndy, you will be missed.

You know me, I like to write. And I could write so much more. But I will leave it at this—thank you Cyndy. I know you plan to be around. But I would be remiss not to tell you how great you have been. I can’t overstate the influence you’ve had. Sure, it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows. We had to deal with grey skies and storms. But we did it as a team and we have accomplished so much together. 

Rare indeed is it for someone to come across someone who is so respectful, so reliable, so resourceful, and so relentless. Cyndy, Wonder Woman ain’t got nothing on you.

With highest regards,