Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Thumbs up to good news regarding the NRG power plant in Dunkirk. The state budget includes language requiring the Public Service Commission to take into consideration the fact that repowering existing facilities provides greater benefits than importing power or local transmission upgrades. Now, the importance of NRG to the city of Dunkirk and Chautauqua County as a whole will be taken into account s the Public Service Commission considers NRG’s proposal to convert its coal facility to an advanced combined-cycle natural gas plant. Then, an independent study was released showing repowering of the Dunkirk generating station would be more beneficial to ratepayers, while providing more economic benefit than simply importing power. On Friday, we wrote about the importance of Chautauqua Lake to the county’s tax base. NRG is even more important. This week’s developments are wonderful news for every taxpayer in Chautauqua County.

Two thumbs down to a state tipline that offers a $500 reward for those who phone in tips regarding illegal weapons. The tip line – which will be further explained in a comprehensive campaign – will be staffed by state police 24 hours a day, and will remain anonymous and focus on individuals with illegal firearms. If information leads to an arrest for illegal possession of a firearm, the person providing the tip will be awarded $500. Most people have no idea what an illegal firearm looks like, which means the tip line is likely to be inundated with worthless tips on your typical, run-of-the-mill hunting shotgun or rifle. It hasn’t come out yet how much the state is budgeting for this “program,” but anything more than a penny is a waste of taxpayers’ money.

As the season comes to a close, thumbs up to the dozens of volunteers who have worked hard this winter to keep snowmobile trails open. Snowmobile trails on state-owned land in Cherry Creek, maintained by the Cherry Creek Sno-Goers, were the last to remain open before warm weather turned the groomed snow trail into a muddy mess. The county has 450 miles of groomed trails maintained by members of county snowmobile clubs who work with private landowners and use groomers to maintain trails. It’s a bittersweet day for the county’s avid snowmobilers, but take heart – spring has to be on the way.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Thumbs up to plans to abandon the section of Lafayette Street between Second and Third streets in Jamestown. The street isn’t needed for traffic purposes, and the owners of BWB, Shawbucks and the Jamestown Savings Bank Arena can use the space for additional parking and for more space for summer events in the area. The potential loss of parking revenue is a wash for the city since the city will no longer have to pay to maintain the street or for streetlighting. During the summer months, having the additional space will help the ice arena and Gateway Station have enough room for outdoor events, which can only help businesses on the city’s west side.

Thumbs down to the latest in New York state’s long line of fiscal hypocrisy. At a time when the state is asking local governments and school districts to be as frugal as they possibly can, how is it a good use of taxpayer money to make sure Empire State Development has a luxury box at Ralph Wilson Stadium? State officials say the luxury box will be used to promote New York state and the Buffalo-Niagara region and that, under some circumstances, the state officials will have to pay the face value of a seat in the suite. Of course, those details haven’t been finalized yet. Hogwash. It’s just another example of the state’s “do as we say, not as we do” attitude.

Thumbs up to a new effort to help the community fight child abuse. County Executive Greg Edwards is the first to sign up for the Child Advocacy Program’s Stewards of Children Sexual Abuse Prevention Training from 9 a.m. to noon April 17. While Edwards is the first to sign up, there is plenty of room for the three-hour training session. For more information, call McDermott at 388-9844.

You don’t have to look far to find talented people in southern Chautauqua County. Thumbs up, then, to Teal Weatherly, who was named winner of Chautauqua’s Got Talent on Monday; Frewsburg students who showed off their abilities Thursday in the third annual Frewsburg’s Got Talent and Jack White, a Southwestern Elementary School student whose work will be displayed throughout April at the Lakewood Memorial Library.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Thumbs up to the nurses of Floor 4D at WCA Hospital. The group works with Anna Raynor, mother of Isabella Stanford. Raynor hasn’t been back to work since Isabella was killed in a sledding accident on Feb. 15. Knowing there are medical bills still to be paid from the accident, Raynor’s co-workers are holding a benefit spaghetti dinner from 1-4 p.m. Sunday at the Ashville Fire Department, 5338 Stow Road, Ashville, near Hogan’s Hut. Benefit organizers have lined up dozens of items that will be given away and are planning enough food for 300 people.

When fire heavily damaged a home in Panama on Wednesday, the American Red Cross was there to help the home’s owners – as the organization is whenever disaster hits Chautauqua County. In the midst of national Red Cross Month, thumbs up to the Red Cross. In the last six months, the American Red Cross of Southwestern New York has responded to 66 local emergencies, helped more than 100 families and trained more than 500 people the best ways to help out during a disaster.

Thumbs up to news that the carousel roundhouse restoration at Midway State Park will be finished before the park opens for the season on Memorial Day weekend. The historic carousel has been outside for the past four summers while the roundhouse building was being renovated. The Friends of Midway Park have raised thousands of dollars to help pay for the roundhouse project. There are plans to eventually restore all the rides to their 1950s glory, which means another generation of children will have the opportunity to make memories at the beloved park. Even better news is that state officials haven’t closed the door on adding attractions at the park, though they will have to be historic pieces that would have been featured at a park like Midway at its historical heyday.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

A good year for Jenn Suhr recently got a little better. Thumbs up to the Fredonia native for setting a world indoor record height of 15 feet, 7 inches in the pole vault recently at the USA Indoor Track and Field Championship in New Mexico. Suhr’s athletic career at Fredonia established that she was a gifted athlete. Her success on the world athletic stage has established she is willing to put in the work and training to maximize her potential. Jenn Suhr is a shining example of what hard work can do for all the high school athletes in our region.

Thumbs down to another overreach by Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City. Earlier this week, Bloomberg announced plans for a social media campaign to warn young people about the dangers of listening to loud music through their headphones. So far, the New York City Health Department has raised $70,000 for the campaign. We understand loud headphones aren’t good for one’s hearing, just like we understand drinking too many sugary drinks aren’t great for the body. One would think, though, there is a better use of $70,000 at a time when most departments are crying poverty. Surely, there must be an actual public health issue in New York City that could use the money.

It’s unfortunate there won’t be a St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and the accompanying turning of the Chadakoin River green, this year in downtown Jamestown. Thumbs up, though, to a nonprofit agency trying its best to live within its means. As dollars get tighter and tighter, foundations and boards of directors of all area nonprofit agencies have to find ways to get the most for their money. Events and programs that can’t sustain themselves will eventually fall by the wayside – which is what happened to the St. Patrick’s Day event. The DJDC, and later the JRC, boards decided the money had better uses improving downtown. That’s a decision we can respect.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Thumbs up to those who are voicing their opinion regarding the NY SAFE Act. First, hundreds attended a rally in Frewsburg. North Harmony Town Board members have heard enough comments from their constituents to pass a resolution asking the state Legislature to repeal the law. Then, dozens of people attend Wednesday’s Chautauqua County Legislature meeting in support of a resolution urging the state Legislature to repeal the unpopular law. So many people attended Wednesday’s legislature meeting because of their opposition to the SAFE Act there wasn’t enough room in the legislature chambers for them all. Not many of them spoke, but the message was sent loud and clear. It’s unfortunate those opinions couldn’t have been heard by state officials before the law was passed.

For 20 years, Jack and Beth Fuller have dreamed of opening a bakery. Thumbs up to the Randolph couple for never losing sight of their dream. Recently, the Fullers received approval from the Randolph Zoning Board of Appeals that will allow them to open their dream business – a display bakery featuring salt-rising bread made the same way it would have been made 150 years ago as well as dessert and pies. A hearty congratulations to them as they begin work making their dream come true.

Thumbs down to a disappointing number of southern Chautauqua County projects receiving funding in the recent Economic Development Council grant process. A total of $52.8 million was awarded to 58 projects in Allegany, Cattaraugus, Erie, Chautauqua and Niagara counties. While there were a few very worthy projects funded in the northern end of Chautauqua County, the lone southern county project to receive funding was the village of Bemus Point, which received $375,000 for design and construction of streetscape improvements that are part of the village’s comprehensive plan. We hope the completion of strategic plans in our region and perhaps more worthy applications will result in more money making its way to this part of the county. Celoron was close in its application for waterfront revitalization project near Lucille Ball Memorial Park. There is too much to be done in southern Chautauqua County to receive so little Economic Development Council funding.