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Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Thumbs up to the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation for its continued support of religious, educational, arts and culture, youth and human service projects and initiatives in our area. The foundation’s board recently approved the final 2013 grant awards from the foundation’s designated and agency funds, bringing the total granted in 2013 to $649,431.03, an all-time high. Thumbs up, indeed.

Thumbs down to the latest example of the federal bureaucracy’s idiocy. An EPA regulation that sought to replace millions of dollars-worth of stock fire hydrants in New York state because of new reduced-lead standards has been overturned in the U.S. Senate after Sens. Charles Schumer of New York, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Rob Portman of Ohio sponsored the Community Fire Safety Act of 2013. The bill had already passed the House of Representatives and is expected to be signed by President Barack Obama. Western New York will save a total of $554,900 in stockpiled hydrants and parts that can now be used after Jan. 4. Jamestown has 18 hydrants in reserve, saving $21,600. Dunkirk has three hydrants in reserve, saving $3,600. Immediately applying the law to fire hydrants made no sense and was done without justification by the EPA. It is a disquieting statement on the ability of the EPA to handle the country’s major environmental issues if it can’t get something like this done right the first time.

Thumbs up to the new creamery that will move into the former book store on Route 394 in North Harmony. Rico Chandra, co-owner of Reverie Creamery, plans to purchase and repurpose the former Barbara Berry’s Bookshop building on Route 394. The plan was recently approved by the North Harmony Planning Board. “The location is ideal for a creamery … and (the business) will fit with the local artisan businesses in the area,” Chandra said. Along with making premium, specialty goat cheeses, Reverie plans to serve organic, local foods year-round by growing vegetables on the 4.7-acre lot behind the business and by partnering with local farms and wineries to provide fresh ingredients. The business should be a nice addition to the tourist offerings along Chautauqua Lake.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Thumbs up to all those area businesses and individuals who pitch in this time of year to help the less fortunate. Our pages have been full of such stories recently, whether it’s the Creche and its Community Service Holiday Project, the Shults Auto Group and its push for Toys for Tots or the Jamestown Chapter of Credit Unions, who recently held their annual Toys for Kids dinner. The stories are too numerous to list here, but every one of the area residents who participated in these efforts deserves a hearty thank you.

Every year, musicians young and old do their part to get the rest of us in the Christmas spirit. With that thought in mind, thumbs up as well to all those who will participate in holiday musical programs. Most area schools have already held their annual school Christmas concerts while their adult counterparts in church choirs will take center stage during special services in the coming days. For those of you so inclined, don’t miss Sunday’s edition of The Post-Journal for the Christmas programs we’ve received from area churches. After all, what would the holiday season be without music?

Thumbs up to Jamestown High School for honoring Donn Johnston, Maceo Wofford, Justin Johnson, Carlos Rivera, Darin Butts, Tommy Campion, Jaysean Paige, David Anderson, Terry Chili, Mark Prechtl, Mark Edstrom, Tyrone Beaman, Mike Maisto, Fran Lantigua, Domonique Kendrick, Nikki Frederickson, Erinne Cunningham, Ashley Dupler, Tara Payne and Sandy Wasko in its Wall of Fame induction ceremony during the re-dedication of the McElrath Gymnasium at JHS. Especially fitting was inclusion of James McElrath, former JHS principal, basketball coach for several area high schools and the gymnasium’s namesake, in the ceremony. Keeping such people around the basketball program is important as an example for current JHS students. “Not only were they great players, but they’re just great people. They’re all doing well and have all turned into real good men and women,” Ben Drake, JHS boys basketball coach, said after the ceremony.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Prendergast Library officials have long known the library’s role as a community resource is about much more than having computers or a lot of books on the library’s shelves. It’s easy to take the library for granted, but that would be a mistake, as is evidenced by three upcoming workshops. The first will be led by Bruce Gleason of Young Tax Service at 7 p.m. Wednesday and is designed to help people develop personal budgets. At 7 p.m. Dec. 18, Renee Shutters will talk about how food choices can affect a child’s behavior, health and ability to learn. In January, a parent education course on attention deficit disorder will be hosted at the library by Ryan Smith and Alicia Johnson. At a time when non-profit budgets are shrinking, thumbs up to the Prendergast Library for finding ways to expand its role as a true community resource.

Thumbs up to a Panama institution celebrating its 30th year of operation. Crouch’s Garage, owned by Warren and Cindy Crouch with an office managed by the Crouch’s daughter, Shelly Johnson, opened in 1983 and has been found on the same corner in Panama, next to the post office, ever since. Every employee is a Panama Central School graduate, and the Crouch family is involved in the Panama Hometown Christmas each November and actively supports the village fire department and school athletic teams. An open house is scheduled throughout the day Tuesday.

Thumbs up to Jenell Krishnan, an English teacher in her fifth year at Cassadaga Valley Central School, for embracing technology in the classroom. Krishnan was recently published in Teaching with Technology, an online, peer-reviewed, scholarly journal. The article was rooted in a unique series of lessons taught in May 2013 with the help of technology coordinator, Phillip Bens, and Elizabeth Poleon, a student teacher from the State University at Fredonia. With the help of Bens and Poleon, Krishnan was able to “Backchannel” with her class during a student performance of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” Backchanneling is an online chat forum where participants can interact with each other in real time. Each student was provided a netbook computer to contribute to the online discussion, with the chat feed projected onto the classroom smartboard where text-based questions were answered and insights highlighted.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Thumbs up to all those whose combined efforts resulted in Friday night’s downtown Christmas parade – an event enjoyed by the thousands who lined Third Street. Tiffani Conti at the Jamestown Renaissance Corp. and all of the JRC’s volunteers created yet another parade for the ages. Kudos also go to Lee Harkness, Jamestown Gateway Station general manager, who helped secure the steam engine and caboose that served as the first and last units in the parade. No event so large happens without the efforts of those who volunteer their time and talents, and the downtown parade is a wonderful declaration of the arrival of the Christmas season.

Thumbs up as well to the Erie BayHawks, a NBA Developmental League team which made its way to Sherman Central School for a practice and community night on Wednesday. A crowd nearly filled the school gymnasium for the practice, which featured many names familiar to college basketball fans who spend time in the NBADL readying themselves for a shot in the NBA. Such events do more than just fill the gym, as BayHawks player Jeremy Tyler so appropriately said, “It’s good to show people where everything starts here in practice. We come out here and work hard every day and not everyone gets to see that.” The youth basketball players in attendance Wednesday surely learned a few valuable lessons in addition to being entertained for a couple of hours.

Thumbs up to the 1,000 people who made their way to Jamestown High School on Wednesday to make their feelings known about New York’s implementation of the Common Core State Standards. Teachers, youth and concerned parents filled the JHS auditorium- a fine showing by area residents. Implementation of the Common Core is a serious issue that affects all of us, and it was a pleasure to see so many come to the public forum with obvious thought put into their comments. Thumbs up to those who abided by the rules of the forum and made their points in a civil manner.

Thumbs down to those who, even though they were making serious points, couldn’t abide by those rules. And thumbs down to those who felt the need to interrupt speakers with boos and catcalls, making, at some points, Wednesday’s forum resemble a taping of the Jerry Springer show. Having strong feelings about an issue is no justification for such behavior.