Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Thumbs up to Sheriff Joe Gerace, whose quick action likely helped a Busti homeowner save at least some of his property from being damaged. Gerace came across the blaze as the homeowner, John Luciano, was calling 911. Luciano and Gerace removed lawnmowers and an ATV from the garage prior to the arrival of first responders. The fire was then put out by members of the Lakewood Fire Department and mutual aid companies. The garage reportedly sustained heavy fire damage; a nearby home suffered minor damage.

Thumbs down to the ripple effect causing the loss of a large dairy farm in Chautauqua County. The loss of a contract to provide milk to an Erie, Pa., dairy plant is being felt locally as Thomas Gilkinson of Maleski’s Dairy Farm in French Creek has been forced to sell his cows and farm equipment while he made his last delivery Wednesday morning. The upcoming closure of Meadow Brook Dairy in Erie, Pa., this late summer or early fall is affecting farms throughout the area. Dean Foods, Meadow Brook’s parent company, issued terminations of contracts to about 100 independent farmers in eight states, some of which reside in Pennsylvania and New York counties. Gilkinson said had planned for his son to take over his farm, but with the state it’s in, a fourth generation running Maleski’s is unlikely. With no other plants to take on their milk distribution, Gilkinson planned to sell his cattle, machinery and 40 acres of land to pay off debt. He also plans to get a job for five days of the week instead of his seven days spent running his dairy farm. We hope state and federal lawmakers are paying attention. Dairy farmers’ lives are getting harder, not easier.

Thumbs up to the Chautauqua County Music Teachers’ Association. At 7:30 p.m. today, the association will host its annual Spring All-County Concert in the Chautauqua Institution Amphitheatre. Association members spend months creating a world-class event and venue for the best area scholastic musicians to showcase their talents; creating the musical program, lining up guest conductors and instructors and, of course, the task of finding the best of the best from area schools. The association also provides scholarships to area students to continue their musical training over the summer. Dozens of area music teachers take an active part in the association — kudos to each and every one of them for taking on additional work and time away from their families so that other people’s children can broaden their horizons.