Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Thumbs up to fire departments across the community participating in RecruitNY open houses this weekend. We have recently detailed the troubles facing our volunteer fire departments. While the state can make changes to make it easier to volunteer, it’s also good to see volunteer fire departments opening their doors and trying to help themselves. Anyone interested in volunteering should call their local volunteer fire department or visit to see which local departments are participating.

Thumbs down, courtesy of an email from a reader, to the brick crossing on Second Street near the Jamestown Savings Bank Arena. It is the second time the brick crossing has sunk into the ground, creating a suspension rattling pothole that is impossible to avoid. At some point this summer, the crossing will be taken out and the area leveled. If the crossing can’t be engineered to prevent it from sinking into the ground, it should simply be paved over and forgotten.

Thumbs down to those who seem to be taking things a bit too personally. At a recent Southwestern Central School board meeting, Mary Jane Price, president of the school’s teacher’s union, took offense at “smirking and eye rolling” by board member David Turnbull when Price was discussing the union’s concerns about proposed job cuts in the district’s budget. Turnbull responded Tuesday that not only did he not smirk or roll his eyes during Price’s comments, he is physically unable to do so because of permanent paralysis on one side of his face. Education is a tough enough business, especially in these days of declining enrollments, rising costs, tougher state mandates and the state’s 2 percent tax cap. This sort of childish back-and-forth does nothing to help us make the tough decisions we may have to make and should serve as an example of what public conduct to be avoided.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Thumbs up to the collaboration of area police agencies that resulted in the quick capture of four men who have been charged with the murder of Gordon Skinner and Joyce Skinner of Carroll. It could have been easy for the four Elmira-area residents to have disappeared into the night after the murders. The Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Department was assisted by the New York State Police, Carroll police and authorities in Chemung County.

Thumbs up to Becky Nystrom and Jamestown Community College for their extensive Earth Day celebration. The college’s Earthfest celebration will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, but the college has been hosting Earth Day-related movies and programs for the past couple of weeks. Nystrom and other volunteers involved with the effort are an important offshoot of the original 1970 Earth Day movement. Their work in spreading the message of conservation and respect for our natural resources should be commended.

Thumbs up to those who preserve local history. A recent discovery by the Fenton History Center of Jamestown of plans to use Art Metal Construction Company tables in the U.S. Navy ship the S.S. United States. Countless people have seen iron grates with a Jamestown, N.Y., stamp, but it’s easy to forget the city’s reach in the early 1900s. Such interesting pieces of local history would be lost without the dedicated staff and volunteers at the Fenton, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. For more information, visit

To make a nomination for the weekly thumbs up, thumbs down editorial, send an email to While it may not be possible to use all submissions, we will try to use as many as possible. Submissions may be anonymous. Personal attacks will not be used.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Libraries can take on huge importance in small communities. Thumbs up to the Cherry Creek Free Library board, and the rest of the Cherry Creek community, for putting in months of hard work to move the library from its old building into a new storefront location on Main Street in Cherry Creek. The new space has a bright reading area, renovated shelving, a full children’s section and laptop computers with Wi-Fi. Library officials and all those who helped make the new location a reality should be commended.

Thumbs up to annual rites of spring. Our region has finally shed the icy grip of winter. Gardening clinics and workshops abound. The Bits N Spurs Trail Riders and other horseback riding groups are readying their horses and trails for the horseback riding season. Jamestown Community College and area schools will hold their annual spring concerts in the coming weeks. The Jamestown Renaissance Corp. is accepting volunteer registration for the annual Hands on Jamestown community cleanup to make sure downtown looks its best before tourists begin arriving and, of course, Chautauqua Lake groups are setting their sights on readying the lake for tourists.

Thumbs down to news the U.S. Agriculture Department will be moving its offices from the Franklin W. Bratt Agricultural Center on Turner Road. County officials acknowledge upgrades needed to be made to the building to keep the USDA as a tenant, but county officials were willing to do the work in exchange for a 10-year lease. The USDA would only commit to a five-year lease. Now, the federal agency will spend about $300,000 more to lease space on Fluvanna Avenue in Jamestown. At least the unwelcome news comes with a positive – a partially vacant building in Jamestown will have some new life. It’s just unfortunate the former Ames department store building couldn’t have been filled with something new for the community rather than playing empty building musical chairs.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Thumbs up to teaching an old agency new tricks. The Fenton History Center is partnering with BOCES and the Cassadaga Valley Central School district to broadcast its new education series. The program series will take place from 6-8 p.m. on six consecutive Thursdays, beginning April 11, and costs $35. The first session will be presented by Jon Schmitz, archivist and historian for Chautauqua Institution, and will serve as an introduction to public history, historical sources and regional history. The Fenton History Center has long been an asset to those who want to understand Jamestown’s history, but it is heartening to see the center finding ways to use technology to spread its wings outside the city.

Thumbs down to another breathtaking waste of money by New York state, which has more than enough to offer the film and television industry. We just want to be crystal clear on one point. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said, with his budget, that there is money in the state budget for Hollywood to make movies, but not enough money in the state budget to take care of the disabled through programs at places like The Resource Center. The next thing you know, there will be a tax break for athletes to make New York a more attractive place for free agents. A better approach would be to cut spending, cut taxes overall and make New York a more attractive place for everyone to live and do business.

Thumbs up to a pair of area natives who found themselves in the midst of March Madness. Dan Scotchmer, a Jamestown High School graduate who now works for Harvard University as an athletics communications assistant, and Patrick Pierson, a Frewsburg Central School graduate who works as the assistant athletic director for communications for Florida Gulf Coast University, had front row seats for two of the NCAA Tournament’s biggest upsets. Both are examples of area natives who have worked hard to find jobs they love in sports. It is good to see area natives finding success at such early ages.