Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Thumbs up to the organizers of the Colin Speta Memorial Golf Tournament, the final edition of which is scheduled this year for July 22 at Breezewood Golf Links in Falconer. The tournament has been held in memory of Speta, who was boating on Chautauqua Lake on Aug. 16, 2009, when a wave crashed into the boat and knocked him backwards into the water. In the four days that followed, dozens of rescue crews came together to help find and recover Speta’s body. By the time the body was found on Aug. 20, two dozen area volunteer fire departments and seven other agencies had taken part in the search. To give back to those who gave so much of their time and effort, a memorial golf tournament was organized. Money raised from the tournament go to support one of the local departments that helped the cause. Money raised from the first tournament benefited the Ashville Volunteer Fire Department, which had been one of the lead organizations in the search. To date, close to $30,000 has been donated to the various organizations. This year, the family is again honoring the Ashville Volunteer Fire Department as the recipient of the annual tournament donation. Two thumbs up to all of those involved; they have taken a tragic event and turned it into a fitting memorial for their lost loved one.

Thumbs down to a routine situation nearly turning into a tragedy. Earlier this week, Chautauqua County Sheriff’s deputies tried to pull over a motorcycle after seeing the rider allegedly commit several vehicle and traffic infractions. The rider, an as-yet unnamed 30-year-old man, sped away, out of sight of the deputies until they saw a debris field where the man wrecked his motorcycle. EMTs stabilized the man before he was taken by Starflight to UPMC Hamot in Erie. When will people learn that trying to outrun the police is a recipe for disaster?

Thumbs up to Kiera Velez Cortes, a Jamestown High School student who came to Jamestown as a ninth-grader with her mother and four of her five siblings. She spoke no English and, last year, gave birth to a daughter, Ana Sophia, whom she works to support. Kiera Velez Cortes graduated from Jamestown High School on Friday, a credit both to Cortes for putting in hundreds of hours of hard work to learn English and to her teachers, including Linda Lucas and Kiersten Hanson. We’re sure there were times over the past four years when Cortes thought about giving up. We hope she relishes the moment she receives her high school diploma — she’s earned it.