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Chautauqua County Chamber Recognizes Individuals With Awards

Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerve held the annual wards banquet at the State University at Fredonia Submitted Photo

FREDONIA — The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerve held its annual awards banquet Thursday night at the State University at Fredonia.

After a welcome from SUNY Fredonia President Stephen Kolison, Dan Heitzenrater, chamber president and CEO, spoke of how the business-booster organization has several different roles. He said he polled staff members with the question, “What is the chamber for?” The first answer he got was, “the chamber is for business.”

“Thus, we should be a place where a business can go with business-related issues,” he said, adding that a similar answer said the chamber should be “a spark plug toward uniting businesses.

Another common response was that “the chamber is for the community.” Its initiatives help unite people and “We are all stronger and do better when put together,” Heitzenrater said.

Another response, he said, was that “the chamber is for its members and by virtue of that, for our community.”

Heitzenrater said, “Our greatest asset is our people. They create change, start businesses, volunteer and make our community a better place to live, work and play.”

Two Persons of the Year Awards were presented this year. One went to John D’Agostino, regional editor of the Dunkirk OBSERVER and The Post-Journal, while Rochelle Mole, vice president of finance and operations at the National Comedy Center, received the other.

D’Agostino has not only played a key role in the county through his work at the newspaper but has also been active in numerous community organizations, including the Dunkirk-Fredonia Rotary Club, Boys & Girls Club of Northern Chautauqua County, and the Dunkirk Community Chamber of Commerce. Mole has played a foundational role behind the scenes at the National Comedy Center and the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum, overseeing the daily operations and also mentoring other team members. After the pandemic shutdown in 2020, she navigated challenging financial issues and also oversaw the implementation of “LaughSafe” protocols to make the reopening a positive experience for all visitors.

The chamber’s annual Economic Development Award went to Chautauqua Hospice & Palliative Care. Chautauqua Hospice embarked on a major effort to raise funds, and expand its programming through the construction of a first-ever local Hospice House, which will create jobs in the region and provide for patients and their families who need assistance at a critical time.

Each of the six community Chambers of Commerce in Chautauqua County also presented a Community Service Award during the banquet.

¯ The Dunkirk Community Chamber selected Kirk Frey, who has owned Kirk’s Jewelers for over four decades and has also been actively engaged in the community through his church and through many charitable contributions.

¯ The Fredonia Community Chamber chose Festivals Fredonia, a 100% volunteer organization which is responsible for putting on several festivals in the community annually.

¯ The Hanover Community Chamber selected Aimee Rogers in recognition of her efforts with Imagine Forestville to encourage the preservation of history and new business development in the hamlet.

¯ The Jamestown Community Chamber chose Lou Deppas for his long-time commitment to the community, currently through service to the boards of directors of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame, Jamestown YMCA, and National Comedy Center, as well as for his focus on business development in the region and his past efforts as the 20-year director of the Jamestown High School Marching Band.

¯ The Mayville-Chautauqua Community Chamber named the Chautauqua Lake Central Schools, under the direction of Superintendent Joshua Liddell, for providing full-time in-person instruction for 95% of the district’s students during the 2020-21 school year and creating a successful and safe environment for students.

¯ The Westfield-Barcelona Community Chamber presented its award to the Patterson Library Hands. This group of a dozen or so volunteers works diligently to serve the Patterson Library in Westfield through hands-on maintenance and improvement projects that keep the historic building working inside and out.

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