Publisher’s notebook

Overall, 54 percent of students who attend county schools are on a reduced or free lunch plan.

Lunch says lots about economy

More than two years after the closing and loss of more than 400 jobs from the Carriage House plants in Dunkirk and Fredonia, the financial stress factor for families in this region continues to grow. According to the U.S. Census bureau, about 18 percent of those living in this county are doing ...

After plenty of debate, the village of Silver Creek eliminated its police department.

In 10 years, government lessens

What a difference a decade makes. At this time in 2007, Chautauqua County and its municipalities were digging in their heels and fighting any possible discussions on downsizing or consolidation. Today, it is a much different story. Government locally has been reduced and there is a lot more ...

Basil A. Smikle Jr., left,  says Vice President Mike Pence is “terrifying for New York.”

‘Chaos’ gives Pence prominence

There are no in-betweens when making reference to our country’s commander-in-chief. President Donald Trump garnered just enough support to win the White House, but had fewer total votes than his competition. Openly, news reporters are consistently sparring with press secretaries. His ...

Pilots Jim Tobul and Scott Yoak are part of the Class of 45 portion of the Dunkirk air show this weekend.

Air show’s high honors for service

On the weekend before the Fourth of July, pilots Jim Tobul and Scott Yoak will be part of an all-American display at the Dunkirk-Lake Shore Air Show, which takes place along the waterfront from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Both are aviators of the planes that make up the “Class of ...

Marc Ruckman had support 
from voters, but on the Village Board he was only one.

When one vote doesn’t count

Marc Ruckman, who abruptly resigned as village trustee earlier this month, understands — probably better than anyone — the frustrations that come with being elected to office as a vocal minority. For the six years he served, his record of voting “no” on budget increases, rate hikes and ...

Fewer tips of hats to grads

Discussions on consolidating or merging schools is never simple arithmetic when emotions get factored into the equation. With the annual celebration of high school graduation only a week away, just how much smaller are those classes locally today than they were more than a decade ...

It’s more than natural wonders

NIAGARA FALLS — Buffalo Avenue is right in the heart of where the spill-over pedestrian traffic of this fallen Western New York city should be. Within walking distance to the rapids, Goat Island and the world-renowned falls, the streets and sidewalks were not filled with hustle and bustle ...

Dunkirk is destination for summer

Get ready for the second act showcasing our summer activities. Nine days ago, the OBSERVER unveiled our annual Spring and Summer Events Guide, which focuses on the seasonal highlights and events that take place from southern Erie County to portions of Cattaraugus County, here and ...

Communication is a two-way street for many entities, unless Fredonia is involved.

In Fredonia, mum means no

Take a cue from downstate, Dunkirk-Fredonia. During a meeting this month at the State University of New York at Fredonia Technology Incubator on Central Avenue, a senior development consultant from New York City emphasized there are opportunities in marketing both the village and city as one to ...

Dr. Roger Firestien proved many times to the 100 in attendance that habits can hold us back.

Thinking positive about failures

Creativity is what drew Dr. Roger Firestien to Western New York. Originally from Colorado, he came to Buffalo to receive a Master of Science degree from the International Center for Studies in Creativity in 1979. He was a trailblazer of sorts. Back then, he was the seventh person to earn that ...

This image, courtesy of the Darwin R. Barker Museum, shows the Fredonia Normal School in 1867

$100,000 gamble of 1866 was winner

It is a lesson that Fredonia and its residents must never forget. As told — and documented — by one of the village’s most prominent deans of the past and present in Sam Drayo Jr., the start of the State University of New York at Fredonia was not humble at all. It was a major gamble that ...

A college is born in Fredonia

Did you ever wonder what events and forces led to the establishment of a State College in the Village of Fredonia? It's an interesting history and one which the people of the Village should be proud of. The following article outlines this impressive and memorable period in the history of the ...

Patrick J. Gorbett, who heads up Great Lakes Cold Storage, won his zoning battle, but lost to a status-quo community.

We’re too comfortable to grow

Our April 9 edition included an editorial in favor of the proposed cold storage facility in Dunkirk. Like many other issues we decide to take a stand on, it is a delicate balance. No matter what our opinion, it is going to be met with some sort of opposition. Take, for instance, our stance on ...

Each time U.S. Rep. Tom Reed has won election, his opponent has emerged quite quickly.

Reed’s nonstop race for Congress

As is usually the case just months after the Congressional election, U.S. Rep. Tom Reed is wearing his customary bullseye again. As noted in this newspaper last week, the Democrats are looking to name someone — fairly soon — to run against the District 23 official who has won election three ...

George Borrello, right, was one of the key cogs to changing the way the Chautauqua County Legislature operated.

A working Legislature, by George!

IRVING — Less than 10 years ago, the Chautauqua County Legislature seemed a lot more like Dysfunction Junction than a group of local elected officials working to better a region where we live. It was a contentious gathering of 25 members, many who consistently voted party lines and would have ...

We can keep 18 districts, but we cannot field high school 
teams without combining 
athletes from those districts.

No optimism from Census figures

Numbers always provide a greater insight on truth than what area elected officials will tell you. Representatives here, far too often in the past, have painted a picture of progress and prosperity on the horizon. They were sadly misguided then. But one thing is certain today: there are 5,000 ...

Think village costs are rising now?

Fredonia’s decision earlier this decade to effectively back out of a potential north county water district is something its residents may rue for years to come. Back then, the district was planning to financially help the village with its troubled water system if it became a partner. Its ...

We had some snow, but the central Southern Tier got the worst of Stella.

One storm’s avalanche of worry

Albany’s hierarchy can be frustrating, especially when it comes to the weather worries that spanned from Long Island to Western New York earlier this week. Conditions, as evidenced by major lake-effect snow events, are rarely the same in one region to the next. So distressed was state Gov. ...

Former Pine Valley school board member Angelo Graziano resigned in January.

Issues hit peak at Pine Valley

School districts have a knack for providing plenty of drama. Remember the 2009 saga that dogged the Westfield Academy and Central School with its previous Superintendent Mark Sissel? At the time, there were plenty of questions from residents — and some from the school board — on expense ...

Elections, successes are in cards

All good things usually come to an end - albeit a little too soon. That was certainly the case with our annual I Shop Local promotion, which began in August and continued through last week.In all, our newspaper received more than 5,400 "I Shop Local" cards. When we did the drawings over the ...