It was an eventful year in the region. Along with the normal poor local decision making, there were also some successes and some tough decisions in 2013.
Here is a look back at our calls for the year:
JANUARY - We make the call for Silver Creek to eliminate its village Police Department. "The only big question remaining is this: Do village trustees, even the one who has been absent while serving the community, have the guts and courage to do what is fiscally responsible?" The answer: yes.
FEBRUARY - After a freeze on wages at the start of the city of Dunkirk police contract, other smaller municipalities, such as the town of Dunkirk can't pull back the reins on spending. "Those raises are not just costs for 2013; they are costs the town will be burdened with in the future, specifically when it comes time to pay the pension bill to New York state."
MARCH - Two rival districts, Dunkirk and Fredonia, team up in a prekindergarten. "With the joining of a prekindergarten program at Wheelock school - spearheaded by Dunkirk schools Superintendent Gary Cerne and Fredonia schools Superintendent Paul DiFonzo, there may already be some sentiment that the children of both communities may not get along."
APRIL - Positions, possibly not needed, were filled in the village of Fredonia due to gripes by workers. "The private sector does not fill positions because there will be sick or vacation time taken by staff. They fill positions based on demand for product. In Fredonia - and all of Chautauqua County - demand for our product has gone down. Our population has decreased. Our number of businesses have as well."
MAY - County Executive Greg Edwards not seeking a third term turns the county races upside-down. "A former south county supervisor was apparently the top choice until Edwards' announcement last month while only one other name - someone from this end of the county - has been bantered around." That name was eventual candidate Ron Johnson.
JUNE - Partnerships between school districts and municipalities bring hope for regional efforts.
JULY - After 2,000 residents turn out for a public hearing on repowering NRG, left, talk turns to higher taxes if the plant does not move forward with its plans. Those taxing levels, however, were possibly hype. "Without the facility, the complicated equation likely takes Dunkirk over the tax limit." Fortunately, a repowering was announced two weeks ago.
AUGUST - A decision to not build a new hospital in Gowanda is made. "When you look at what we're going through right now, it's very difficult, problematic," said Gary Rhodes, interim chief executive officer at Lake Erie Regional Health System. "It's difficult to have two hospitals within 12 miles of each other, let alone to think there's three."
SEPTEMBER - Dunkirk may have a development department, but with the lack of new business and building in the city, progress in the last 21 months has been non-existent. "All this newspaper has asked for in the last three months is a vision and plan for the Dunkirk Local Development Corp. We do not want to know about its troubles, every business and non-profit organization has those. We do, however, want to know what it is going to do to build and boost the city." Three months later, we still have no answer.
OCTOBER - If Lake Shore Health Care Center was a school, a closing would not be on the table. Instead, tax hikes and more state aid would be in the offering. "But schools are not like hospitals. If hospitals ultimately run out of money, they close. When schools run out of money, it gets passed on to the taxpayer and programming is cut to the bone as the enrollment decline continues."
NOVEMBER - A non-public conference call in the village of Fredonia, leads to residents questioning closed-door decisions. "Open government is not just about a web site. It is about making decisions in the open and allowing for public comment. What Fredonia did in October by approving a hiring over the phone was wrong and likely illegal."