Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Thumbs up to the Lawson Boating Heritage Center in Bemus Point for continuing its summer series of lake-related lectures. Earlier this week, Fletcher Ward presented the history of the Chris-Craft Corporation based on the research Ward did for his book, The History of Chris-Craft Corporation’s Jamestown Division in Falconer, New York, 1943-1948. While a myriad of groups struggle with how to remedy the weeds and harmful algal blooms on Chautauqua Lake, history like that presented by the Lawson Center is a needed reminder of the jewel that the lake has been and can be again.

Thumbs down to startlingly lax financial controls that allowed an area woman to allegedly steal $227,000 from a Westfield company several months after the woman had been terminated from the company. The U.S. Attorney’s office charged Alicia Raynor, 40, with embezzlement earlier this week. Raynor had worked at Compassion At Home Inc. in Westfield for about three years as the company’s business manager, a position that gave her access to the company’s payroll processing service. Raynor allegedly used the service to divert money from the company’s bank account to accounts under her control. In August 2015 the company fired Raynor for allegedly using company funds to pay personal expenses, but noticed in the middle of 2016 that money was still being transfered from a company bank account to Raynor because Raynor still allegedly had access to the payroll processing service. The incident should serve as a lesson for companies to make sure they handle dismissals carefully.

Thumbs up to Laura Wilson, an English teacher at Westfield Academy and Central School who has been named the 2017-18 College Connections Teacher of the Year. Wilson teaches English composition I, English composition II, writing about literature and public speaking to high school students at Westfield Academy and Central School through Jamestown Community College. Each year, College Connections recognizes a teacher who best exemplifies the core program standards. Wilson was chosen from among 190 teachers from 38 partner high schools and BOCES centers. Wilson was nominated by two individuals for this year’s award. “(Mrs. Wilson) is a compassionate person with a good sense of humor and who possesses enthusiasm and dedication,” noted Ivana Hite, Westfield Academy and Central School principal who nominated Wilson for the award. “Laura’s excitement and innovativeness for education are exemplary. She genuinely cares about her students and expects them to put forth their best effort. She is one of the few teachers who receives letters of appreciation from students who graduated from our district.” Kudos to Wilson for doing such sterling work helping area students get a jump on their college careers. She is further proof of the importance of good teachers in our schools.