Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Thumbs up to a planned expansion project for the Southern Chautauqua Federal Credit Union. The bank has purchased eight properties on East Second Street for a new 3,800 square foot Jamestown branch to be located at 1283 E. Second St. Buying that much land means the credit union can build a big enough parking lot to keep people from having to cross East Second Street during its busiest hours of the day and have enough space for green space and buffer zones that will improve the look of one of the gateways into the city. Additionally, the new location will mean the creation of a few jobs as well.

Thumbs down to continued uncertainty for the Community Development Block Grant and HOME programs. Jamestown’s share of CDBG funding has decreased from $1,734,000 in 2004 to $1,502,851 in 2015 while HOME program funding has decreased from $442,000 in 2004 to $246,960 in HOME funding in 2015. Now, U.S. senators are proposing bills that would slash the HOME program’s funding from $900 million in 2015 to $66 million in 2016 while CDBG program cuts would decrease the amount to state and local governments by 3 percent. The CDBG program allows for flexible use of the funding to assist in several projects. He added the federal funding has assisted in home rehabilitation programs for owner-occupied and rental properties; lead paint remediation programs; senior citizen emergency home repair programs; street lighting programs to brighten dark areas of the city; Americans with Disabilities Act public facility improvement programs to help people with disabilities; and facade improvement programs. In short, the programs have helped a lot of people and paid for a lot of improvements to the city that otherwise would not have happened. Jamestown, and other small cities like it, count on this federal funding to pay for things it otherwise cannot afford. We continue to believe there are other areas for the federal government to cut instead.

Thumbs up to more new access to the Greater Jamestown Riverwalk. This summer, sections of McCrea Point Park have been closed to the public for construction work. A 1,300-square-foot concrete pad along the water at the northeast edge of the park has been installed. New park amenities will be added like picnic tables, park benches, trash cans, charcoal grills and dog stations. Last year, a new playground was installed at the park. Work will soon begin, pending City Council approval, on a new pedestrian ramp on the east side of the Sixth Street Bridge to connect that area to the riverwalk. It’s taken decades to get the Riverwalk to this stage of completion, but it won’t be long before one can park their car in Brooklyn Square and make their way, on foot or bike, all the way to McCrae Point Park. Last weekend’s Greater Jamestown Riverwalk Festival is just a sneak peak of what the future holds as more and more of the Riverwalk are completed.

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Thumbs up to encouraging news in the recent State of the Lake discussion during the Rally for Chautauqua Lake last week in Bemus Point. Doug Conroe, Chautauqua Lake Association president, started his presentation on the state of the lake by saying, “The report is very simple. The state of the lake, from a human perspective, is the best it’s been in ages.” Conroe also said the muskie fishery is the best it’s been in recent years. “The muskies are back,” he said, and added that bass fishing is also strong and that the walleye fishery is stable. Actions both large and small taken over the past couple of years have led to the lake’s renewed health this year, and we caution area residents that work must continue even though this year has been a good one. Sewering the lake and inspections of sanitary sewers around the lake must remain a priority in the coming years, as should a general attitude of pursuing projects that improve the lake’s health. We should be encouraged by Saturday’s State of the Lake discussion, but we also should not think for one minute that our work is done.

Thumbs down to yet another drug dealer charged with selling illegal narcotics while children were in their house. It’s bad enough that some people feel the need to sell drugs with their own children in a home. It’s even worse when dealers are babysitting other people’s children and placing them in harm’s way. But that’s exactly what is alleged from a drug bust Wednesday at the Appleyard Terrace. Jamestown police entered one of the apartments to find the sellers they were looking for and four young children. Heroin was found in a bedroom to which the children had access. A cursory search of post-journal.com turned up several drug busts within the past year, both inside and outside of Jamestown, in which the occupants of a home faced charges of endangering the welfare of a child in addition to their drug charges, which makes us wonder if child endangerment isn’t providing enough of a deterrent for some dealers. Perhaps a more serious charge is needed.

Thumbs up to a unique senior trip, or perhaps we should say senior trips. The Cassadaga Valley Central School board recently heard about a series of four day trips for the Class of 2015 rather than one trip at the end of the year. Gayle Wilcox, class adviser, said the separate day trips decreased the cost for students and families and increased the number of students who can attend. The class took a Halloween trip to Darien Lake, a day of winter tubing at Peek’n Peak, a Summer Wind Cruise on Chautauqua Lake and a trip to Sky Zone Trampoline Park in Buffalo on the last day of school. Every high school class looks forward to their senior trip, but it can be difficult for all families in a class to afford some excursions. This is a nice compromise that more classes should consider in the future. Kudos, CVCS Class of 2015, for setting a good example for others to follow.

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Thumbs up to Tuesday’s dedication of a swing set in memory of Kallie Swan in Allen Park. The dedication, which included the unveiling of a bronze plaque and heartfelt words of appreciation from Kallie’s parents – Shane and Tara Swan – was made possible by the Allen Park Women’s Club and the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation. Tuesday’s dedication was a wonderful celebration of Kallie Swan’s life and the renewed sense of community her fight created in our area. The words of Kallie’s parents, too, should remind us to stay involved in the fight against childhood cancers. “There has been more and more families reaching out to us and needing help, and it’s just really sad that there’s so many kids suffering,” Tara Swan said. She’s right. To donate to Kallie’s Krusade Foundation, a nonprofit organization formed by Kallie’s family and others to raise awareness of childhood and pediatric cancers, visit: www.kallieskrusade.org.

Prison shouldn’t be confused with a pleasant place to spend one’s time. That doesn’t mean prisoners have no rights, however. Thumbs down to reports that as many as 60 inmates who knew escaped murders Richard Matt and David Sweat were beaten during the investigation into the escaped inmates’ escape. Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York has received several complaints from inmates on that Clinton Correctional Facility honor block, who were later moved to other prisons, managing attorney James Bogin said Tuesday. Many were transferred and spent time in solitary confinement. Patrick Alexander, who occupied a cell adjoining Matt’s, told the New York Times he was handcuffed the night after the escape, taken by three guards into a broom closet, punched and had a plastic bag placed over his head while questions were shouted at him. One guard had the initials CIU on his jacket, he said. That stands for Crisis Intervention Unit in New York’s prison system. “The officer jumps up and grabs me by my throat, lifts me out of the chair, slams my head into the pipe along the wall,” Alexander told the newspaper. “Then he starts punching me in the face. The other two get up and start hitting me also in the ribs and stomach.” Those responsible for such actions should be punished if the allegations are proven true.

Thumbs up to the Babe Ruth World Series, which opens today with a parade downtown and games at Russell E. Diethrick Jr. Park. There is nothing quite like the Babe Ruth World Series, whether it is the host families who spend a week cheering on the players they house and often creating relationships that last a lifetime; cheering for the host team to perform well against top-notch competition or simply watching youth playing a game they love. Those who enjoy watching the Little League World Series on television should make their way to Diethrick Park this week – the Babe Ruth World Series provides the same emotion and competitive play as the Little League World Series and happens right in our own backyard. Admission to all of the games is free. A complete schedule of games can be found at www.jamestownworldseries.org, with coverage of each day’s games found in The Post-Journal and at www.post-journal.com.

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Thumbs up to a week of grand openings that show Jamestown’s continuing evolution into a destination for good food. In the past year, the city has seen the addition of Havana, featuring Cuban food; the Caribbean Diner on Fourth Street; Fresco Pizza; and most recently the Brick City Market and Deli, which offers a grocery store, deli, meals and alcohol; Jones Valhalla, which offers a mix of lunchtime and dinner foods; and Gialy’s, a steakhouse located in the former Town Club building. Those restaurants are in addition to such longtime favorite as Taco Hut, the Landmark, Forte, the Pub and Lisciandros, to name a few. Kudos to all of the business owners who are betting their money and talent on downtown Jamestown.

For many, a night at the fair is about guilty pleasure foods, midway rides and fun with the family. Thumbs down to a pair of girls whose disagreement ended that family fun early for everyone at the Chautauqua County Fair on Saturday. Sheriff Joe Gerace told our sister paper, the Dunkirk OBSERVER, that one girl had been knocked to the ground when deputies arrived and was being kicked by another girl. That fight apparently started several fights at different locations at different times, with Gerace hearing estimates of between 100 and 200 people either involved or observing the fight. Dunkirk, Fredonia and New York State Police response to the scene didn’t end the fighting, so Gerace asked fair officials to close the midway. This is the second such incident to hit Chautauqua County this year involving teen-agers. It is far too many. Either parents need to do a better job teaching their children basic manners and public behavior, or the juvenile justice system needs to make punishments for this type of behavior much more harsh.

Thumbs up to a return to Chautauqua Lake’s glorious sailing past. Recently, the Johnson Foundation presented a $27,500 check to the Chautauqua Lake Community Sailing Foundation for the purchase of a new safety boat, christened the John A. and Oscar Johnson Safety Boat. The new boat took its maiden voyage on Chautauqua Lake as Hunter Farris, Chautauqua Lake Community Sailing Foundation program director, kept watch of the children on the sailboats from within the boat. The Chautauqua Lake Community Sailing Foundation is off to a flying start, offering classes for everyone from teens to adults and at all levels of sailing experience and will soon begin reaching out to high schools around the lake to create community involvement. It would surely be wonderful to see sailboats filling Chautauqua Lake each summer. This new foundation is a good start toward seeing that vision become a reality.

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Thumbs up to the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center for another sterling Lucy Fest. A series of Hollywood heavyweights, including Regis Philbin, Nick Offerman and Jerry Seinfeld, who performs two shows tonight at the Jamestown Savings Bank Arena, brought some hundreds of people downtown. We’ve seen photos of Philbin in Forte after his performance. Seinfeld was planning to arrive early and stay locally before his performances. Those visitors spent time and money in downtown restaurants and venues, providing a nice shot in the arm for the area. For three days, one gets a glimpse of what Jamestown could be when the National Comedy Center opens its doors. That glimpse is pretty enticing.

Speaking of glimpses of the future, thumbs up to the Peek’n Peak Resort for bringing the top minor league of the PGA Tour back to Chautauqua County starting in July 2016. Web.com Tour golfers will make the trek to the resort for the LECOM (Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine) Health Challenge from July 4-10. The weeklong schedule includes a Pro-Am, followed by four official rounds of tournament play for a $600,000 purse. Web.com Tour events bring with them anywhere from $5 million to 10 million in economic impact with an average $200,000 to $250,000 going to charity. On average, the tour brings 25,000-35,000 visitors over the four rounds of competition. Many area natives have fond memories of the Nationwide Tour’s events at the Peak. It’s good to see the necessary partnerships form to bring the tour back to the county.

Thumbs up to the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities for organizing the 15th annual Cents for St. Susan fundraiser. The 2015 drive raised a campaign-record $17,410, bringing the BPU’s contribution over the past 15 years to a total of $160,118.55. The money is much-needed at the St. Susan Center, but it is also worth recognizing the work that goes into such fundraising campaigns. There are sponsors and sites to contact, employees with whom to discuss volunteering their time and then the time spent in addition to their work day to hold fundraising activities. Thumbs up, too, to everyone in the community who put a coin or bill in the canisters scattered throughout the area or who bought a hot dog. It is that sort of willingness to give – in big ways and small – that makes Jamestown a true community.