Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Thumbs up to all those involved in bringing Chautauqua County’s annual mid-winter party to life. The President’s Day Winter Weekend Festival kicked off Friday and continues today and Sunday. Today’s events include fireworks and a bonfire, a flare parade if weather permits, a cold-water rescue demo by the Dewittville Fire Department and snowmobile rides, weather permitting, by the Chautauqua Lake Snowmobile Club, alongside numerous food and craft vendors. There will also be a Polar Plunge organized by Family Health Medical Services at 2 p.m. And, of course, there is the ice castle, which has been featured prominently in The Post-Journal this week. The Mayville festival has been a winter staple for more than 30 years, but it wouldn’t exist without dozens of dedicated volunteers. Thumbs up, as well, to those who organized festivals held recently in Bemus Point and Cassadaga. Chautauqua County is known for its summer activities, but there’s plenty to do in the winter, too, if one is so inclined.

Thumbs down to the closing of New England Motor Freight, a trucking company whose trucks and trailers have been seen on area roads for decades. The closure is less a statement on one company, however, and more of a statement on the status of the trucking industry. Costs are rising, truck drivers are fleeing the industry for careers that pay more and ever-increasing state and federal regulations are making it difficult for trucking companies to make enough money to stay in business. Trucking is still vitally important to the local, state and national economy; tractor-trailers are the only ways to move certain types of freight. Fewer companies can’t be a good thing.

Thumbs up to a private company’s $2 million investment that will allow SNAP users to use their benefits cards at farmers’ markets. State officials announced recently that Square Inc.’s $2 million investment in Novo Dia Group will support the continued expansion of the Mobile Market Plus electronic benefits transfer platform on which farmers’ markets across the state operate. The state previously partnered with the Farmers Market Federation of New York to provide funding to Novo Dia Group, the mobile application vendor that provides SNAP Electronic Benefit Transfer services to farmers’ markets, allowing them to continue to operate through the rest of the farmers’ market season and until a long-term solution could be found. Use of SNAP benefits at the Jamestown farmers’ market increased 61 percent in 2018 compared to 2017 — meaning more people are taking advantage of the opportunity to purchase locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables.