We had our first meeting Tuesday night. We were competing against "Dancing with the Stars," "The Voice," and some were waiting for the candidates' debate. Plus, there were others who had meetings. We weren't many, but we learned a lot - what we have and what we need.
My son always taught me that in order to make progress, asking the right questions was more important than giving the right answers. Well, we did a lot of both. Did you know that our county makes $19 million a year on snowmobiling? Of course, they invested in creating snowmobile trails. Has anybody thought about having a snowmobile contest? If they already have, could we have more in different parts of the county?
Jenny Catalano said we need a casino in our area. Busloads of people go to casinos in Erie and Buffalo. That has been looked into, but the Native Americans aren't agreeing to open one up. Mayor Steve Keefe said they have been trying, but the Native Americans feel they would be competing against themselves and they would lose money. Now they have to be convinced they could make more money.
Why aren't the fairgrounds used more? We have a race track, but where are the horses?
Could we have more medium-priced housing in our area?
We have three main highways that go through our area. How do we get people on the Thruway to get off and come visit us? We have a lot to offer. How can we afford to get the word out? We need people to get involved and spread the word.
What people can we use? Well how about all the schools? Grade schools? High schools? JCC? And the universities? What we really need is a network to communicate. For example, the $19 million that comes into the community with snowmobiling. How did they build it up? Did it cost much? Where did the money come from? Could we get it to work for the rest of the county? Who would organize things so the events don't overlap? We want to communicate and cooperate, not compete with each other.
As things stand now, money is tight. Can volunteers help? We need to know what you need from us.
We need a break with the taxes. I was told if stores in the Dunkirk plaza have signs that can be seen from the Thruway, those store owners have to pay a specific tax. Is this true? Come on! Give us a break!
Also, I was told that a recipient of welfare bought one grape for 12 cents and with that purchase cashed her check and got all of her welfare money to spend on whatever she wanted. I don't like government in my hair all the time, but this is wrong. I don't want her buying cigarettes, liquor, or gambling with taxpayers' money. These things are not necessities. We need money to invest to create jobs and income, not to indulge people. This may seem like I'm getting off track, but I'm not. We need money to invest to make money, not foolish give-aways.
Let's look at seasonal things. Right now we're in the middle of our beautiful fall foliage season. It's too late to develop the foliage attractions, but how about next year? The buses and the hotels should develop one or two day trips.
Could we have a big fall festival at the fairgrounds? After Silver Creek has theirs, of course. Our fall festival can have apples, cider, grapes, grape juice, apple pies and even grape pies. Also we could have pumpkins pies, hot cocoa and hot cider. We could have country music, square dancing. Why not have a county-wide farmers' market? We could have stands selling all these things. Could we have craft tables, too?
Chautauqua Institution wants to be the "Learning Center of the World." How can we help?
Jamestown wants to be the "Comedy Center" of the country, using the "I Love Lucy" theme. Maybe they should hook up with Fredonia, who has the Marx brothers and Mark Twain connections. Let's not forget Nick Siracuse, our current comedian.
We need to hear from you. Would another night or Saturday afternoon be better? Call 679-4772.
Margaret Valone is a Fredonia resident. Send comments on this column to firstname.lastname@example.org