Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Thumbs up to a roughly $350,000 shoreline stabilization project on the south side of the Chadakoin River near the Greater Jamestown Riverwalk. Concept drawings are almost finished, according to Twan Leenders, Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History president, for a project that will stabilize 1,000 feet of streambank upstream from Warner Dam. In its current state, runoff from 10 acres is falling into the river, causing the river banks to erode and dumping significant amounts of sediment into the Chadakoin River. The project will improve the environment in the area while also creating an educational opportunity for RTPI once the project is finished.

Thumbs down to the continued struggles of the retail sector in southern Chautauqua County. The latest casualty could be Tops Friendly Markets, which Bloomberg News has reported could file for bankrtuptcy as early as March. In Jamestown, there is a Tops located at 2000 Washington St. and one inside the Foote Avenue Plaza along with a store in Frewsburg. Bloomberg reported buyouts by Morgan Stanley — and later by the company’s own managers — left Tops straining to keep up with debt payments, and the industry’s competition made it hard to increase revenues by increasing prices. Same-store sales began to stall and debt was used to help finance at least $375 million in dividends for its private-equity owners. The Bloomberg report states that with low margins and ample competition, the grocery business has always been challenging, but now the industry is contending with a more aggressive push by big-box retailers and Inc., which acquired Whole Foods last year to give it a larger brick-and-mortar presence. The moves threaten to force older chains to either consolidate or revamp their operations. The last thing Jamestown needs is more empty buildings and more hard-working people out of work. Tops’ troubles are bad news.

Thumbs up to Roger Bish of Kennedy. Bish is the proud owner of an authentic button commemorating the first inauguration of the United States’ first president George Washington in 1789. There were several variations of George Washington inaugural buttons, which were made of a brass-bronze mixture sometime in 1789 prior to the ceremony itself. At the time of the nation’s first inauguration, military officers wore the buttons to show support for Washington. Only the elite could afford the buttons, which cost about six months’ salary. Today, they are even more valuable, especially as a set. Bish said the button in his possession was part of a set of four which, along with a silver belt buckle, went with a single coat. The coat that the button came from was given by Washington to the famous Seneca war chief and Wolf Clan diplomat Chief Cornplanter at the inauguration ceremony on April 30, 1789. Cornplanter was also joined at the ceremony by three other Seneca chiefs from the region: Farmer’s Brother, Little Billy and Red Jacket. Bish keeps his button as part of a display in his home, which also contains collections of various arrowheads and other Native American antiquities he has unearthed in his explorations through the years. Appearing in the display alongside the button is a rendering of Washington’s inauguration ceremony, a photo of Chief Cornplanter’s burial monument on an Indian Reservation near Corydon, Pa., a Smithsonian article regarding another of the buttons in the museum’s collection, and a picture and description of Chief Cornplanter. It’s amazing to think that such a rare piece of American history not only made its way to Chautauqua County, but was found laying in a cornfield. Kudos to Bish for providing the button with such a good home for these many years.