Traffic Light Ribbon Cutting Held In Falconer

FALCONER — On Friday, State Sen. Catherine Young, Assemblyman Andy Goodell, and other state and local officials cut the ribbon on a new traffic light.

Located at East Avenue and Route 394, the new light governs an intersection that had been a crossing hazard for years. It was Sen. Young’s efforts that made the installation of the new light possible.

Sen. Young called the completion “a crucial victory for safety for the students who go to school here everyday.”

Assemblyman Goodell went even further by calling the completed light a “team effort.”

As one of the busiest intersections in Chautauqua County, crossing was of particular concern to students trying to reach Falconer Central School. The project to install the light began in 2012.

“At the time, the Department of Transportation did a study and they concluded that the traffic light would not be needed,” Young said.

In April 2016, the need for a light became obvious when two students trying to reach the school were struck by a car. While the students recovered, the pressure to complete the project increased.

After the accident, Falconer Central Superintendant Stephen Penhollow, Falconer Village Mayor James Rensel and Ellicott Town Police Chief William Ohnmeiss contacted Young and Goodell to convince the DOT that a light was absolutely needed.

After welcoming the community, Penhollow expressed gratitude for everyone who convinced the DOT that the light was necessary. “We’re extremely fortunate that we’ve had so much help and support,” Penhollow said. He also added that the village is “extremely fortunate to have had so much help and support.”

“There was an urgency created by the situation and we requested a reassessment by DOT,” Young said. After the completion and to Young’s relief, “two months later it was announced that a traffic light was warranted and the requirements were met for installation.” Young also credited Ellicott Town Supervisor Pat McLaughlin, Ohnmeiss, Rensel, Ellicott Highway Superintendent Peter Fuller, and Penhollow for their hard work “with DOT engineers on logistics and moving the process to completion.”

Young also noted the light is not just important for Falconer Central School students. “There’s a facility where seniors live across the street, so not only will the students benefit from that but the people who live in proximity of the school,” Young said.

The light was installed and fully operational by the start of the school year on Sept. 4.

The traffic light has three colored units and a left arrow for each direction. In addition, sound sensors and pedestrian buttons are included.

Young expressed thanks to the leaders present, and in particular Chautauqua County Legislator Lisa Vanstrom, for working to meet constituent needs.

Penhollow expressed gratitude for everyone who convinced the DOT that the light was necessary. “We’re extremely fortunate that we’ve had so much help and support” Penhollow said. “It was a complete community effort to get this traffic light in place,” Penhollow said. Penhollow also said thanks and appreciation from all involved and placing student safety first.

Goodell called the event one that ” signals what can happen when everyone works together.” He thanked the DOT for taking Sen. Young’s request for the light seriously and Vanstrom for drafting the request. Goodell also praised the efforts of village and school leaders for bringing the intersection to attention. However, Goodell added that “it’s not about who gets credit but its about getting the job done and if this traffic light makes the intersection safer and saves kids from getting hit by cars it was all worth the effort.”

McLaughlin thanked Goodell, Young, Ohnmeiss, Vanstrom and the DOT for seeing the project through. “The furthest thing from their minds (students) should be safety,” said McLaughlin. He called the new light “a piece that will help” safety immensely. He also thanked Ohnmeiss and the Ellicott Police Department for continuously enforcing traffic safety at the new signal. “This truly is a great day for Falconer Central School, the village of Falconer and the town of Ellicott,” McLaughlin said.

Rensel had the same credit and thanks for completing the project. “We all have a lot to learn about constituent communication from Sen, Young and Assemblyman Goodell,” said Rensel. He also expressed thanks that the light was operational in time for the start of the school year. Although Rensel said the new light is not the only means of safety the Falconer School district uses. “We still employ a school crossing guard to ensure the safety of the students as well as having the Town of Ellicott Police Department watching the intersection.” Rensel also said that in his experience “as a mayor this is one of the best complete team efforts I’ve ever been a member of.”

Young emphasized that the safety improvement to the community.

“When children come into this building (Falconer Central School), job one is to make sure that they have the best learning opportunities and the school does a great job in making that happen. But our children can’t learn without being safe and that also has to be job one.” Young said. It was for safety alone that Young said the project “was so crucial and critical.”

At the end of the event, Young said she was “very proud of the fact that everyone came together in a time of need.” She also credited Goodell and village officials with convincing DOT to research the crossing due to its heavy traffic. Now that the light is installed Young said “the students are much safer and the community is much safer because a lot of people cross her.” In conclusion, she said that “its great everyone pitched in and worked together and got the job done.” Assemblyman Goodell, simply approved Young’s statements.

Others in attendance at the ribbon cutting ceremony were Ohnmeiss, Fuller, and Vanstrom.