Before I tell you the latest on our committee of Chautauqua helpers (volunteers), I must tell you about a scam I got involved with. I had been getting letters from giveaway programs. Usually I disregard them, but there was one I thought I'd take a chance on.
It was from the Award Processing Center. According to them I was in the running for a $21,000 prize. I had to send them a check for $9. I thought, "What the heck. Nine dollars isn't going to make me or break me, I'll give it a shot because I'd love to make a generous donation to Pastor Sixto and his youth club."
So I sent it. And after I sent it, I began to worry about the check. Would they be able to access my account? I talked it over with a lady. I was ready to close the account and start a new one. Well, I have three bills that are paid directly out of that account. I decided to leave enough money in to cover those bills and I removed the rest.
Then this week a friend of mine told me his friend got scammed because con artists were taking small amounts out of his accounts, like $19 at a time. So I went to my bank and told them this, and it led me to close my account and open a new one. As the teller at the bank was checking things out, she found that the people I had sent the $9 check to had taken out another $68. Now the bank can take care of this for me. But the scammers probably figured that at my age, I'd never catch what they were doing, and if I did I wouldn't know what to do about it. Sorry, guys. I may not know much, but I know a lot of people who do!
So my advice is, "Throw away all those winning letters you get and save your money!" Does this make me look stupid? Well, maybe, but I'm smart enough and humble enough to warn a lot of people. Please warn your family and your friends.
Now back to our Chautauqua County project. Wednesday night Ray Read and his wife Lucy joined us to tell us about snowmobiling. It was very informative he brought a map to show us where the 18 snowmobile clubs are located. Really, they cover the whole county. The only areas they don't cover are the ones that don't get enough snowfall to be conducive to snowmobiling. I told him I was so impressed with the figure of $19 million they bring into our county. I figured it would be a good program to copycat, but it looks like they have everything covered. They have been working on this program for 30 years! He said snowmobiles can cost up to $12,000. Then they have to get those registered and get licenses. This is all taxable. Then, they have to buy gas, food, clothing, and those coming in have to pay for lodging. This is all taxable. Of course, they buy all kinds of things which help our local economy. We were told people come from as far away as Indiana to snowmobile in our county. Keep in mind they are all volunteers, too! Let's give thanks to them and for them. This was a good learning experience for us. I'm hoping this column will draw even more people in who are interested in this pastime.
Discussion followed this presentation, including more ideas for additional winter activities such as winter festivals. Washington Park Winter Fest is now in its second year, Miracle on Main Street in Fredonia, linkages of the various communities for holiday shopping experiences, possibilities for ice skating, snow sculpture contests, skiing (both downhill and cross-country), ice fishing, and winter water fowl observation at Dunkirk harbor.
Other ideas focused on the rich history of the region and the possibilities of enhancing the stories of the War of 1812 and the role of Canadaway Creek in that war. The heroine, Celia Cole, rode her horse to summon the militia to fight off the British. We have a female Paul Revere story here. There are many interesting historical tales to be told.
The cemetery tours in Fredonia have been very successful. Perhaps other committees can do that too, with other cemeteries. These tours in Fredonia are always sold out. This year they had seven tours a day for three days. Couldn't we have story hours peppered throughout the county? Libraries and museums need to get involved. We can contact them or they can contact us.
Diane Clark spoke of her more international program at the nature preserve and the abundance of outdoor resources in the county with a focus on nature, farmers' markets, and issues of sustainability.
I received an unsigned letter with valuable information. DFT has books available called "One Book: Thousands of Discoveries." Thank you, DFT, for being so generous!
Would it be possible to combine other small festivals during the summer into one big festival in October, possibly at the Fairgrounds? We could have a contest for the biggest pumpkin and the best pumpkin face. We could sell apples, apple pie, candied apples, hot and cold cider, grapes, grape juice, grape pies, wines to suit all tastes; it could be a harvest bounty.
Nicole Waite, representing Dunkirk's Office of Development and Festival Committee, says they have not met yet, but they will be continuing the concerts on the pier and incorporating other ideas to fill out the seasons. The music at Bemus Point has attracted many people and talent. The subject came up of having many local talent shows seeing as talent shows are so popular. These various talent shows would include school talent and adult local talent. Ann Saeli suggested using school auditoriums, establishing teen and senior centers. What is the status of St. Anthony's Church in Fredonia?
We're still looking for a name for our organization. Angelo Bennice suggested Economic Development Committee. Chautauqua Coalition was also mentioned. We're still open for more suggestions.
SUNY Fredonia is cooperating nicely with us! They will insert an article about us in their alumni news letter. Thank you to all of those who are helping us at the college!
We had a pleasant surprise. The mayor of Silver Creek, Kurt Lindstrom, joined our group. We will be cooperating with Silver Creek to make their events bigger and better and maybe include new programs. We will be the "family of Chautauqua" yet! We invite everybody!
The next meeting will be after the holidays. Where does the time go?
Margaret Valone is a Fredonia resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org