Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Thumbs up to all those who will take the time today to help build a new playground in Chadakoin Park in Jamestown. In order to complete the construction of the new playground today, 300 volunteers are needed at Washington Street park — about 150 had signed up through the middle of last week. Work begins at 8 a.m. and is expected to end around 2:30 p.m. with a ribbon cutting ceremony. A lot of work has gone into this project over the last three years; we’re sure the community will come through today as well.

Thumbs down to Thursday’s reminder of how important it is for restaurants to make sure that cleanliness and health standards are enforced. The McDonald’s restaurant on North Main Street closed voluntarily on Thursday after 22 people reported common symptoms of nausea, vomiting or diarrhea after eating at the restaurant between Aug. 4-21. Through interviews conducted with 15 patients, all reported eating various breakfast sandwiches at the North Main Street Extension location. The restaurant owner is cooperating with county and state health officials and closed voluntarily so the restaurant can undergo a thorough cleaning of the food preparation area and all equipment, while food preparation and distribution procedures will be reviewed with county staff and a fresh supply of ingredients will be obtained before the restaurant reopens. There is no source yet for the illnesses, according to Christine Schuyler, county public health director, but one would hope that the response is swift if the investigation shows people became ill because basic food handling procedures weren’t followed.

Thumbs up to the Blackwell Chapel AME Zion Methodist Church on Spring Street for reaching its 130th anniversary. Blackwell Chapel AME Zion Methodist Church was the first African-American church established in Chautauqua County founded by former slave Catherine Dikes Harris, who operated a station of the Underground Railroad before setting up her church. It is amazing that the church isn’t yet recognized as a site of historical significance. Work begun years earlier by Vivian and Lula Taylor displayed a look into black history at Blackwell Church years ago, showing African Americans had been integral to the history of the county from 1792 to 2001. Church volunteer Catherine Harrison is working on a project with materials and photos collected by the Taylors, so Harrison can apply for Blackwell to be recognized as a historic landmark by the New York State Department of Preservation. Blackwell Chapel has a long and dignified history in Jamestown. It’s time for the state to recognize that history so that future generations can be inspired by the church’s long history in our city.