Setbacks and steps forward for area

Looking back on 2018

Closings, a roundabout and a water district highlighted our 2018 monthly Newsmaker of the Month features. Here’s a look back — with some commentary — on each of the selections.

¯ JANUARY — After the dismissal of a popular principal, Fredonia district residents pleaded with the board for answers. But the board remained quiet. “There’s things that we cannot discuss,” school board President Michael Bobseine said. “There’s things that we cannot share. They’re personnel matters.”

¯ FEBRUARY — Less than a year since the departure of J.C. Penney, another department store left the area. Peebles closed its doors after being open for a little over a decade. Store closings, we note, mirror the population decline. “Today, we’re much closer to 129,000 — a loss of 21,000 people or about 14 percent in 30 years.”

¯ MARCH — The demolished eyesore of the Revere Inn by the Chautauqua County Land Bank is not enough for the village of Silver Creek. Unnecessary criticism followed regarding the empty property. “They filled in the basement area with gravel and rolled it haphazardly on top,” said Mayor Jeffrey Hornburg. “In other words they didn’t pack it as they went. They filled in the entire basement and then rolled over it and called it complete.” Silver Creek had no other alternative for the site but the Land Bank. A simple “thank you” would have been welcome.

¯ APRIL — Voices are heard at public hearings. But normally those meetings do little to change the decision of a government entity, especially for a proposed roundabout at Routes 20 and 60 in Fredonia. “Yes, residents and community stakeholders, you can say what you wish but do not expect that to lead to how a lawmaking board thinks.”

¯ MAY — School capital projects normally pass with little opposition. Gowanda’s big plan, however, brought a load of skepticism that led to a defeat. “What began as a $41.5 million project was whittled down to $31 million in March. But that 25 percent decrease left plenty of questions.”

¯ JUNE — Hopes dim for the future of the NRG Energy Inc. plant in Dunkirk, above. “This problem is not all about NRG Energy Inc., which was a tremendous community supporter since it purchased the plant from Niagara Mohawk in the late ’90s,” we wrote. “It is about the changing landscape of power.”

¯ JULY — A claim by a village of Fredonia administrator of a hostile work environment is a reminder that community residents want more than can truly be delivered. “… We do know a lot of Fredonia residents are demanding more from the village than what it may be capable of delivering due to a fiscal crunch and a decaying infrastructure.”

¯ AUGUST — No school board or governmental entity is clean when it comes to executive sessions. And, even when officials are questioned, there is always some sort of excuse. “When boards state their attorney told them it was OK to be in executive session, remember this: that attorney works for the board, not the taxpayer.”

¯ SEPTEMBER — Misinformation was flowing regarding the North County Water District, thanks to Fredonia trustees who never were a part of any of the meetings over the last decade in getting the system up and running. Ignorance never benefits constituents. “Memo to Fredonia: your acceptance into the district is not going to happen on your terms,” we wrote. “While other municipalities took a chance to make this happen, you sat back arrogantly thinking you would be just fine on your own.”

¯ OCTOBER — With the awarding of $2.5 million by New York state to three municipalities, it is time for a little more transparency on where the funds are going. “Because such a big deal is made of the grant awards, these communities — including Fredonia in the coming months — … (need to) give quarterly updates on what the money has been spent on and the projects that have been completed with the funding.”

¯ NOVEMBER — Partnerships, in our personal life and community, often come with some rough beginnings. Such is the case with the North County Water District. The city and town of Dunkirk debated who was responsible for overdue bills. It leads to animosity. “Everyone believes they need to protect their turf at no matter what the cost,” we wrote. Hopefully, once this issue is cleared up, things will flow much smoother.


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