Chautauqua Chamber of Commerce holds annual banquet

Momentum in the county

Submitted Photo The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce Awards banquet was held Thursday evening at the Williams Center on the SUNY Fredonia campus. The honorees included James Nichols, Kurt Maytum, Laurie Bifaro, Bill Stevenson, SandraLee Wagner and Joan Mascaro Caruso and Rick Mascaro. Also recognized was Dunkirk Metal Products and the Calimeri family. Pictured are the honorees and those recognized at the event.

The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce Awards at the Williams Center on the SUNY Fredonia campus was a fulfilling night for individuals and families who were there to celebrate the achievements of many within the community.

The honorees for the Community Service Awards Thursday included James Nichols for Dunkirk, Kurt Maytum for Fredonia, Laurie Bifaro for Hanover, Bill Stevenson for Jamestown, SandraLee Wagner for Mayville-Chautauqua and Joan Mascaro Caruso and Rick Mascaro for Westfield-Barcelona.

Dunkirk Metal Products received the Economic Development Award and the Calimeri Family received the person, or in this case, the family of the year award.

Nancy Nichols accepted the award posthumously for her late husband James, and told of his dream of building a strong business in the city of Dunkirk.

“He had a vision of opening his own shop,” Nichols said of her husband. “He had a priority in mind. It had to be located on the Great Lake Erie.”

He found the perfect location, but most people said he should tear it down, but instead he saw it’s potential.

“It had great bones,” Nichols paraphrased of James. “He always put family first while being a friend to his customers, the city and the fishermen.”

Maytum thanked many people in his life, from his wife and family to his mentors and fellow firemen. “I want to thank the members of the Fredonia Fire Department, who’ve stood behind me, shown me respect and done a great job day in and day out,” Maytum said.

Laurie Bifaro, the owner of Cut Above the Rest Hair Salon, was humbled by her award and thanked all in her staff for their support in helping her grow a great business. Last year she bought the building next door and expanded into facials, pedicures and manicures.

“With the support of my husband, family and clients, I took a risk,” Bifaro stated. “We went from a three-stylist salon to a five-stylist (salon). I wanted to give our clients something that they wanted in Silver Creek.”

Stevenson talked about his involvement with the Jamestown High School Marching Band among other things he’s involved with. He enjoys volunteering and working on several boards including the National Comedy Center.

Wagner thanked many individuals who helped make her dream of a dog park in Mayville a reality. Her family and all those involved.

Mascaro Caruso and Rick Mascaro were humbled by their inclusion, but happy to be chosen as well, making light-hearted jokes in the process as they thanked so many involved in their lives.

Rick Mascaro founded the Lakeshore Center for the Arts, where Mascaro Caruso serves as a board member among other involvements.

Dunkirk Metal Products stood out as they had rebuilt their company from the ground up. With a young leadership team at the helm they were able to make the company a powerhouse in sheet metal fabrication once more. They were proud of their accomplishments including their 100-plus years of engineering experience. Their focus on intention to detail and time of production results made them very proud.

The Calimeri family told their version of the American Dream. How their father and grandfather came to America with just $8 in their pocket and no English Language abilities. The family has managed to build several businesses in Jamestown and in so employing several individuals.

Todd Tranum, president/CEO of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce talked heavily of momentum.

“When we all gather here, we are here to celebrate our community. We gather here because we have a common objective,” he said. “Our common objective is that we want to build an even better Chautauqua County, an even better future for our families, our neighbors and for future generations. Is that not what this is all really all about?

“Today, we have employers struggling to find the workforce they need to retain business and grow. It is going to take a lot of us in this room and across the county, working in partnership, to build a pipeline of able and skilled workers, who can contribute to the retention and growth of Chautauqua County Businesses. If we harness the momentum, we will build that workforce pipeline.”

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