Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

As the air turns much colder, thumbs up to area high school teams battling out on football fields, soccer fields, volleyball courts, cross country courses and pools throughout Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties. High school sports teach our student-athletes valuable life lessons regardless of the final score. Thumbs up to all of the athletes who have put their time and efforts into competing during this fall sports season.

Thumbs up to some old-fashioned entertainment that takes center stage this weekend at the Robert H. Jackson Center and Lucille Ball Little Theatre. The Jackson Center will host “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, A Musical Journey” at 7:30 p.m. today and 7 p.m. Sunday featuring Jamestown writer and storyteller Paul Leone’s dramatic recitation accompanied by three local musicians. Cindy Lind Hanson, director of music at First Presbyterian Church, heads up the musical team on piano. Sarah Marchitelli, staff member at Infinity Visual and Performing Arts Studio, performs on saxophone and flute and Jamestown High School senior Kirstie Hanson on violin. The Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem explores the effects of transgression against the natural order in a world populated both by human beings and invisible spirits malevolent as well as benevolent, and Leone’s interpretation harkens back to a time before television and movie theaters. Meanwhile, 75 years of barbershop harmony will be celebrated in this year’s annual show of the Jamestown Harmony Express on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the Lucille Ball Little Theatre. Tickets are $12 at the door.

Thumbs up to John King, state education commissioner, for not only reinstating public forums on the Common Core State Standards but for expanding them to include a meeting in Jamestown, though the date for the Jamestown meeting has yet to be announced. Forums will also be held in Rochester, Westchester, Schroon Lake, Binghamton, Amherst and Syracuse, along with two each in Suffolk and Nassau counties. Under a new format, the meetings are being moderated by local state legislators. King and other state officials need to recognize they are speaking to a passionate audience and should be prepared to hear vociferous dissent from the crowds who attend these meetings. Reinstating the meetings was the right move. We encourage those who attend to be considerate and present any opinion with common courtesy. Any opinion presented any other way is likely not to be heard in the light it was intended.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Thumbs up to those who have spent October doing their part to raise awareness of breast cancer and money to defeat a disease that has touched many of us in one way or another. The Southwestern boys and girls soccer teams recently held their third annual Kickin’ for a Cure at Southwestern Central School. The staff at Dr. Francese’s Dental Office in West Ellicott has gone pink for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month as have employees at AJs Texas Hots on Foote Avenue. For the duration of the month of October, the staff at Dr. Francese’s Dental Office will raise funds for breast cancer research by selling pink ribbon toothbrushes for $2.50 and with giveaways of dozens of handmade items. The Frewsburg girls soccer teams paid special tribute to Coach Ericka Alm’s mother, Linda Johnson, a breast cancer survivor, by donating proceeds from concessions, 50-50 giveaways and bucket donations to WCA Hospital toward the purchase of 3-D Breast Tomosynthesis in the WCA Center for Imaging & Medical Arts. There are countless such stories throughout our area this fall, a testament to the destructiveness of breast cancer and the will of area residents to do their part fighting the disease.

While no one knows exactly what the future holds yet for the Jamestown Gateway Station, thumbs up to Lee Harkness, station general manager, for securing a caboose that ran on the Western New York and Pennsylvania Railroad lines. The No. 300 caboose was built in 1960 by Morrison International Corporation of Kenton, Ohio, and is now next to the engine barn at the train station, which is located along Second Street near the Jamestown Savings Bank Arena. Those interested in a peek at the things at the station should stop by.

Thumbs up to the quick work of two area men who saved a Silver Creek woman after her car caught fire following an accident Sunday. Deputy Stephen Romanik was the first to respond to the scene and tried to put the fire out with a fire extinguisher. Ray Austin, an Alstar Emergency Medical Services employee, was on his way home from work and saw the scene. He helped Romanik break the car’s windows and get Valerie Roach of Silver Creek out of the vehicle. Roach was treated by South Dayton and Cassadaga fire personnel and flown by Starflight to the Erie County Medical Center. The situation was serious enough, but could have been worse for Roach if not for the quick thinking and teamwork of Romanik and Austin.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Thumbs up to the state Department of Transportation for moving up the timetable to resurface West Third Street between the Third Street bridge and McDaniel Avenue. As anyone who has driven that stretch of Third Street knows all too well, the road has badly needed resurfacing for quite some time now. The city has filled pot holes in the past couple of years but the road has been a maze of uneven road that leaves teeth chattering and suspension systems on our cars crying for mercy. The state had the $250,000 project on its timetable for sometime in 2015 or 2016, but was able to move it up after months of lobbying from city officials, including Jeff Lehman, city public works director. The inconvenience for the next couple of weeks while the work is under way is well worth having a smooth gateway into the city.

Thumbs down to those who would try to make our roads less safe by illegally obtaining commercial driver’s licenses – and thumbs up to the Chautauqua County Motor Vehicles Department employees who smelled something funny when the scheme made its way to Chautauqua County. Police reported recently a cheating ring for CDLs that had made its way through several state DMV offices, with offices in Jamestown and Mayville targeted as well. Sheriff Joe Gerace said Akmal Narzikulov, an organizer of the ring, went to the local offices in April, but DMV officials were suspicious because Narzikulov had a New York City address, a backpack and could not speak English very well. Police were contacted and the information relayed to the FBI. More than 60 people cheated on the test and got a CDL, which allows people to drive such large vehicles tractor-trailers and dump trucks. Those who can’t pass the CDL test themselves shouldn’t be behind the wheel of a vehicle so large and powerful – and dangerous if in the hands of someone untrained. Kudos to the local officials who were able to help bring this statewide ring down.

Thumbs up to Nigel Eastman, a Jamestown High School junior who recently won the Best High School Film award at the 2013 Boonies International Film Festival in Warren. His short film, “Jiffy,” was screened at the Warren Public Library and the Struthers Library Theatre during the festival. He also participated in a question-and-answer session about the Insomniac Competitive Film Festival for which the short was originally created, and awarded, “best soundtrack.” Eastman plans to major in filmmaking in college and was previously awarded third place for his short film, Common Sense, at the Western New York Media Art Show held at the University at Buffalo. Eastman attended Jamestown High School’s Videoworks program in his freshman and sophomore years.