Disappointment and hope
By TODD TRANUM
President & CEO of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce & Executive Director of the Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier
Even as the Chautauqua County Legislature rejected an immediate sale of the County Home this past week, it left open a glimmer of hope that the facility can still be sold.
We applaud those who voted in support of the sale. They understand that under the restrictions in New York state there is no way to make the Home financially solvent. These legislators realize that selling the Home will protect the jobs and services provided by the facility for the long term, that privatizing the Home would create new tax revenue at a time when our community desperately needs it, and will be a good start toward reducing the tax burden for all county tax payers.
In the same evening that some members of the legislature turned down an opportunity to support private investment, they also voted to appropriate $692,000 from the unreserved fund balance to pay the local share of a Medicaid Inter Governmental Transfer contract to the County Home. These are local taxpayer dollars that are being used to offset a deficit in the County Home operating fund. We find it rather confusing that some of our legislators talk about the need to lower taxes, yet when presented the opportunity to do something concrete, they then they vote to continue to fund a government operated entity that is losing money.
A 16 to 9 vote (a majority but not the 2/3 majority required) was just one vote shy of accepting a $16.5 million contract from Altitude Health Systems to purchase the facility and maintain it as a privately-run nursing home. The proposal would have protected the existing jobs, maintained the needed service to patients and families, and created new and important tax revenue for Chautauqua County.
Taken at face value the vote is a disappointment for the Chamber/MAST, which have been strongly advocating for privatization of the County Home. Yet we also find a glimmer of hope from Wednesday night's meeting with approval of a simple resolution that required lawmakers to say either 'yes' or 'no' declaring their intention to sell the Home at all. The vote was 18 to 6 - one more than the necessary super-majority, lined up on the side of selling the County Home. We applaud those legislators that supported this resolution and their willingness to keep the door open to private investment.
Based on that vote alone, the county MUST continue to put a deal together with a buyer for the County Home. As the Home loses $225,000 in the next thirty days, we hope the members of the legislature who voted not to sell the Home to Altitude Health Systems have some sense of desperation to complete a deal. It is incumbent now on our elected leaders to make that happen, for the good of all taxpayers in the county as well as for the long term good of the employees and those receiving care at the County Home.
Major League Fishing to showcase Chautauqua Lake
Chautauqua Lake is getting national television exposure this winter, as Jack Link's Major League Fishing roles out new episodes each Thursday night on the Outdoor Channel. The Summit Cup series, filmed on Chautauqua Lake last August, will culminate with the championship episode featured on NBC on Saturday, Feb. 9. All local residents are invited to watch that event with some of the local participants during a Major League Fishing Watch Party at Bellini Lounge in Chautauqua Suites. The party starts at noon, with the show set to begin at 1 p.m.
The watch party is sponsored by the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau and the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce. There will be free food and a cash bar. While there is no cost to attend, registration is encouraged so that we can plan for enough food. Visit the Chamber website at www.chautauquachamber.org for more information or to register.
This is the second televised event for Major League Fishing, a partnership between Outdoor Channel and 24 of the world's best anglers. The league features made-for-television bass fishing events designed to bring high-level challenges to participants and entertainment, as well as insight, to audiences.
Presidents Day Weekend Winter Festival
A full slate of events is planned once again for the Presidents Day Weekend Winter Festival in Mayville, organized annually by the Mayville/Chautauqua Community Chamber of Commerce.
The Medallion Treasure Hunt is already underway. This year, to be eligible for the grand prize, participants must be registered. Details are included on the registration forms, which are available at the following Mayville businesses: Mayville Hardware, Webb's Year-Round Resort Candy/Gift Shop, The Cottage Collection at Webb's Year-Round Resort, Lighthouse Point Grocery, Home Chic, Chautauqua Suites Meeting & Expo Center (register at desk), as well as Chautauqua County branches of M&T Bank and Northwest Savings Bank (Jamestown Savings Bank).
Events for the festival include: Snowmobile rides, a flare parade, fireworks, kids' corner edible crafts, chili cook-off, kids snow slides, snowball distance throwing contest, snowman/animal making contest, ice carving, broomball, snowshoe demonstrations, a polar bear swim, presidential costume contest, a snowball dance, and lighting the ice castle. Many events will be held weather permitting.
Major sponsors of the Presidents Day Weekend Winter Festival are the town of Chautauqua and Clark Patterson Lee Architecture and Engineering/ Habiterra. Additional sponsors are: M&T Bank, Northwest Savings Bank, Irwin Bay Cottages and Welch's. A full schedule of events can be found on the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce website or on the Winter Festival Facebook page.