Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Thumbs up to a new future for the iconic Surf Club in Bemus Point. The location has a rich history, dating back to the local ownership of Junie Schenck for 42 years but has fallen upon rocky times recently. After purchasing the former Surf Club last year, the Ellicottville Brewing Company is moving forward with a new restaurant. Bryan Dahlberg, Bemus Point mayor, said some remodeling work has been taking place and he thinks that the owner is planning to be open around Memorial Day. The addition of Ellicottville Brewing Company locally not only provides another boost to the bustling village of Bemus Point, but continues the area’s growth as a destination for craft beers along with the growth of the Southern Tier Brewery and the possibility of a new brew pub on Third Street in Jamestown.

Thumbs down to nine million gallons of missing water in Cassadaga. “We meter our water, and the amount that we’re pumping and the amount that we’re selling don’t match. We’re that much short. It’s out there, somewhere, but we don’t know where it is,” said Cassadaga Mayor LeeAnn Lazarony. Given the struggle of Cassadaga and other small municipalities to provide water, perhaps it’s time for serious discussion of a countywide water district. A countywide system at least deserves to be studied.

Thumbs up to finding the best possible location for the statue of Robert H. Jackson. Right now, the statue welcomes visitors to the city’s urban core from its location outside Love Elementary School on North Main Street. Those who aren’t from the Jamestown area, however, would never know that the statue is of Robert H. Jackson nor why Jackson is significant because there are no signs or plaques that are visible to those who drive by the statue. Moving the statue from its current home to the Robert H. Jackson Center makes perfect sense and creates one more area in which those working on the Unite North Main planning project can be creative.

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Thumbs up to the National Football League for a golden presentation to Frewsburg Central School. School board members recently received a golden football that had been presented to the school in honor of former student Shane Conlan who played in the Super Bowl with the Buffalo Bills. Conlan played in Super Bowls XXV, XXVI and XXVII after being drafted by the team in 1987. The presentation was made possible through the NFL’s Super Bowl High School Honor Roll program. In addition to a nice addition to the school’s trophy case, William Caldwell, Frewsburg middle/high school principal, said the school will receive a sportsmanship curriculum from the NFL and be eligible to apply for grants from the program.

Speaking of former Buffalo Bills, thumbs up to a recent appearance in Jamestown by Don Beebe, a very good NFL player and an even better person. Beebe was the featured speaker at Monday’s Chautauqua County Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony, sharing the story of a 12-year-old girl from Jamestown who helped him through a tough time early in his Bills’ career. Beebe suffered a broken leg during his second season in a game with the Dolphins. Depression set in while Beebe was in the hospital until he met Melissa Stanton, a Jamestown native who was confined to a wheelchair due to spinal cancer. At that time, Beebe noted, Stanton had been through 12 different surgeries and had a halo over her head to hold her neck up. Stanton was a huge fan of Don Beebe, and Beebe became a huge fan of Stanton. The two still talk about once a month, all these years later. Beebe’s visit to Jamestown came at a perfect time for Stanton. A medical issue prevented Stanton from attending the banquet on Monday, but Beebe made sure to visit Stanton at the hospital. “Girls like Melissa Stanton are exactly what Western New York is all about,” Beebe said. Guys like Beebe are what all NFL players should aspire to be about, too.

Thumbs down to a man who allegedly was passing himself off as a lawyer without actually passing the bar. Barry D. Lindsey, 62, of Frwsburg has been charged in McKean County, Pa., of impersonating a lawyer and scheming clients for thousands of dollars. Victims alleged Lindsey said he could file paperwork for them in McKean County Court in regard to child custody issues. Both paid Lindsey $1,270 and $1,750, respectively, for various costs such as filing fees, service fees and paperwork. An investigation by the McKean County Sheriff’s Office determined both victims didn’t receive any paperwork from Lindsey and that the so-called “freelance attorney” never showed up to their court hearings. Moreover, police learned from the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania that Lindsey was not licensed in the state or a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association. The Bradford Era reported that Lindsey was charged with two counts of impersonating a licensed professional and one count each of theft by deception and theft by unlawful taking, all first-degree misdemeanors; and unauthorized practice of law, a third-degree misdemeanor. According to the New York State Unified Court System, Lindsey is not a member of the New York State Bar Association or licensed to practice law in the state, even though it is believed Lindsey had multiple clients in the local area.

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Thumbs up to Allyssa Seeley, a sophomore at Maple Grove Junior-Senior High School, for being named a delegate to the Congress of Future Medical Leaders in Lowell, Mass., in June. The Congress is an honors-only program for high school students who want to become physicians or go into medical research fields. Seeley was nominated to represent Maple Grove based on her academic achievement, leadership potential and determination to serve humanity in the field of medicine. Students will hear Nobel Laureates and National Medal of Science Winners talk about leading medical research; be given advice from Ivy League and top medical school deans on what to expect in medical school; witness stories told by patients who are living medical miracles; be inspired by fellow teen medical science prodigies; and learn about cutting-edge advances and the future in medicine and medical technology. Much work has been done locally to alleviate a shortage of physicians – we hope that someday Seeley is part of the solution to that shortage. Perhaps this trip is the next step down that road for the Maple Grove student.

Thumbs down to a 13th arrest in 12 years for a Jamestown man. Rocco Beardsley, 30, and a 16-year-old youth were charged after allegedly robbing and assaulting a man with a baseball bat in a Broadhead Avenue home on Jan. 23. An arrest warrant was issued and Beardsley was taken into custody shortly afterward and charged with second-degree assault and first-degree robbery, and committed to the Chautauqua County Jail. The victim was taken to WCA Hospital and later transferred to Hamot Medical Center in Erie, Pa., where he was treated for his injuries. As recently as September, Beardsley was charged with third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance after police raided the same Broadhead Avenue residence and found powder cocaine and crystal methamphetamine inside. Beardsley was reportedly out on bail at the time, awaiting a court appearance for a previous drug arrest in March, in which he was charged at a 66 W. Fifth St. residence for second-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and third-degree unlawful manufacturing of methamphetamine. It takes time for cases to work their way through the court system, and it isn’t cost-effective to warehouse people in the Chautauqua County Jail during that process. But, we must find a better way of ensuring good behavior until criminal defendants have their day in court – whether it’s the first time or the 13th.

Thumbs up to Lynne Wahlstrom, a Jamestown native and Chautauqua County 4-H alumnus who is sharing her talents with 600 youth in Dekalb County, Indiana, working for the 4-H chapter there. Wahlstrom now lives on her own farm in Waterloo, Ind., with horses, goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits, dogs, cats and a tortoise. Elsa, her Icelandic sheepdog, is ranked in the top 50 Icelandic Sheepdogs in the AKC. She also shows Elsa in rally obedience and obedience trials. “I can look back and see the painfully shy, misfit kid who liked books and horses more than anything and I wonder just who she would be if 4-H hadn’t grown her into who she is today,” Wahlstrom said. Wahlstrom and the youth like her in all walks of life are worth remembering as we try to figure out the best way of raising money to continue programs like 4-H and youth sports. Such volunteer activities really do help mold our future.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

To the Readers’ Forum:

Thumbs up to everyone involved with the All-County Winter Music Festival held at Chautauqua Lake Central School Saturday night. The showcase of talent that took stage that evening was amazing. It was obvious the participating students had worked very hard to prepare for this two-hour concert. The guest conductors brought enthusiasm to the stage, having spent many hours with these gifted students. The organization of the event was seamless, with one group following the next. A job well done!

Thumbs down to those adults exhibiting poor concert etiquette by leaving the auditorium and school as soon as their family member was finished performing. The other 225+ students worked just as hard as your child/children, and they certainly deserved a full auditorium of applause for their efforts. You, and your child/children, would have had a unique experience, introducing these youngsters to a wide spectrum of music that followed their performance. If you had a family member involved this year, especially in the Elementary Band, it is likely you will have many more music festivals in your future. Hopefully, at future events, you will stay to the end of the concert and demonstrate the same courtesy to those performing at the end as you did to those performing at the beginning.

Carolyn Bills

Westfield

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Thumbs up to Kev Rowe, an area musician who continues to branch out and try new things. Rowe recently started a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.com to support his newest project, “New Album from Maggie’s Farm,” on which the former Big Leg Emma guitarist aims to acoustically cover music from some of his favorite artists. Rowe told The Post-Journal’s Gavin Paterniti that he has compiled a selection of his favorite tracks from his favorite artists and recorded them on solo acoustic guitar to highlight the songs in a new and intimate way. The title, he said, is equally personal to him, adding that Maggie is the name of his dog and that he and Maggie have been spending time housesitting for his parents in Mayville recently. With artists like Rowe, the local music scene is in good and talented hands.

Thumbs down to statistics that, while disappointing, should not be surprising. Buffalo Business First recently released statistics showing schools throughout our area are struggling to graduate students who are ready for college. In Chautauqua County, Fredonia Central School had the highest aspirational performance measure, which indicates whether a student is ready to perform college-level tasks. Fredonia had 64.6 percent of the cohort meeting the standards while Bemus Point Central School followed closely behind with 61.5 percent of students graduating ready for college work. We could rail against how poorly our schools are doing in getting students ready for college. Perhaps the better question to ask is why we expect that every child should be ready for college? We’d be interested to know how many of those students who aren’t college ready are ready for a career. That number would provide a better basis on which to judge the efforts of our area school districts.

Thumbs up to the arrest of the person police think is responsible for at least three arsons in Jamestown over the past two years. Joshua Whalen, 26, was handed a three-count indictment Monday by a Chautauqua County Grand Jury in connection with arsons at 230 McKinley Ave. on Oct. 25, 2014; 420 Falconer St. on May 18, 2015; and 1052 N. Main St. on Dec. 24, 2015. He had also previously been charged with an arson in December 2009 that left a 225 Barrows St. home in ruins. Arson is a dangerous crime. One never truly knows if a home is empty when setting a fire, nor do they know how a fire will behave once it is set. That makes such scenes dangerous for firefighters and for neighbors. And, we note arsons are particularly tough crimes to solve, which means those who set fires for fun are taxing all of Jamestown’s public safety officials. Kudos to all of the investigators who spent time on this case for wrapping up a difficult investigation.