Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Thumbs up to Randy Merrill, a Falconer native who recently won two more Grammy awards for Best Engineer For A Non-Classical Album and Best Song For Visual Media for Beck’s album, “Colors,” and Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s song, “Shallow,” respectively. “Shallow” is one of the songs included on the soundtrack for the 2018 film “A Star Is Born.” Merrill was also nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for “Shallow,” Best Alternative Music Album for “Colors” and Best Pop Vocal Album for “Sweetener” by Ariana Grande. Merrill is a senior mastering engineer at Sterling Sound of New York City. Merrill previously won in 2017 for Record of the Year and Album of the Year. The awards were for Adele’s “25” album and its accompanying song “Hello” respectively. Merrill is a 1992 graduate from Falconer Central School and valedictorian of his class. Merrill’s list of work includes collaborations with Justin Bieber, Little Mix, Paul McCartney, Taylor Swift, Lorde, One Direction, Maroon 5 and Muse.

Thumbs down to news that another retailer is shutting its doors. Payless ShoeSource, which has a location in the Chautauqua Mall, is shuttering all of its 2,100 remaining stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, joining a list of iconic names like Toys R Us and Bon-Ton that have closed down in the last year. The Topeka, Kansas-based chain announced recently it will hold liquidation sales and wind down its e-commerce operations. All of the stores will remain open until at least the end of March and the majority will remain open until May. Before the Payless announcement, there have been 2,187 U.S. store closing announcements this year, with Gymboree and Ascena Retail, the parent of Lane Bryant and other brands, accounting for more than half the total. This year’s total is up 23 percent from the 1,776 announcements a year ago. In addition to one fewer local option for consumers, the closure eliminates a few jobs from the local marketplace and creates another empty store in the Chautauqua Mall.

Thumbs up to the state Legislature for quickly passing legislation to increase ballot access for candidates running for public office following the recent change in New York’s primary election date. In their zeal to pass as many bills as possible, Democrats pushed through legislation unifying state, local and federal primary dates. Taking a breath might have given Democrats time to realize the hardship they were placing on local political parties and candidates who all of a sudden found themselves rushing to find candidates to run for office in November and have enough time for those candidates to get the required signatures to be placed on the ballot. The first bill (A.2570/S.2862) temporarily reduces the number of signatures required on designating petitions by 25 percent for candidates running for public offices to be filed in 2019. The second bill (A.2693/S.2699) reduces the petition signature requirement for ward, town, city, or county party committees to 3 percent of enrolled voters of the party. While it would have made more sense to change the primary date starting next year, it’s good that the state Legislature has made it a little easier for candidates to get themselves on the ballot by reducing the number of signatures they need to collect.