By Todd J. Tranum
President and CEO of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce & Executive Director of the Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier
Unfortunately our County legislature, as a governmental body, showed this week to be a microcosm of the dysfunction we recently watched unfold in Washington, DC. The County Legislature failed to approve the sale of the County Home by one vote.
The Chamber of Commerce and Manufacturers Association have strongly supported the sale of the County Home, however we respect that some of those who voted no were honest and clear about their opposition, whether it was because of a philosophical view about the role of government or because they felt they were representing the views of their constituents. A handful of legislators stated their reasoning behind their no vote. For example Keith Ahlstrom was quoted in the OBSERVER as stating, "The majority of residents in my district are against it (the sale). I would caution everybody that there will come a time that some of the legislators are correct, that it will not be a sustainable function." Although we would disagree with Mr. Ahlstrom's decision to vote no, we respect his honesty and believe he is exactly correct regarding the sustainability of the County Home. On the other hand, there are some legislators that have a lot of explaining to do to their constituents and to all the registered voters and taxpayers in Chautauqua County.
We applaud the lawmakers who voted to sell the facility to VestraCare. They, and we, tried very hard to convince a handful of colleagues that this was the right thing to do at this time. Those voting yes were: Barmore, Borrello, Croscut, DeJoy, Erlandson, Gould, Horrigan, Hemmer, Himelein, James, Nazzaro, Rogers, Runkle, Stewart, Tarbrake, and Wendel. Those voting no were: Ahlstrom, Cornell, Coughlin, DeJoe, Duff, Heenan, Hoyer, Scudder, and Whitney.
The vote was identical to one taken last January when a different prospective buyer had an offer on the table. At that time, some of the opposition to the sale, had issue with the buyer. Interestingly this time around, the new buyer, VestraCare did not seem to raise concerns among the legislature in terms of their ability to operate the home. So, very clearly, for some on the legislature, their opposition really was not about the buyer.
This is a very disappointing turn of events. The sale of the County Home could have meant saving the jobs, the services, and the asset as a taxpaying entity. Now, the failure of a handful of lawmakers to make a difficult decision may mean an even more difficult decision in the future. The financial woes experienced at the County Home will likely continue and exacerbate due to the limited scope of services it is allowed to offer and the reimbursement rates it is stuck with.
We sincerely thank all of you who took the time to contact your County Legislator and make your voice heard on this issue. We will continue to press lawmakers to do the right thing toward creating an environment in the region where businesses can thrive.
Chamber Congressional Lunch Nov. 8
Do you have questions for Congressman Tom Reed? Many people do right now, just weeks after the federal government shutdown and restart, and as Congress continues to ask questions about the Affordable Care Act and more. Each year the Chamber of Commerce provides a platform specifically designed for area business people to discuss vital issues with our representative in Congress. That event is coming up Friday, Nov. 8.
We hope you will join us for lunch and conversation with the Congressman at noon at Moon Brook Country Club in Jamestown. The cost is $18 for Chamber members or $21 for nonmembers.
This event is sponsored by Advanced Manufacturing Technology, Jamestown Mattress Company, Lake Erie Regional Health System of New York, SKF Aeroengine North America, State University of New York at Fredonia, and WCA Hospital.
Anyone who wants to attend may call the Chamber at 366-6200 or 484-1101 to register, or may register online at www.chautauquachamber.org.
Oktoberfest in November at Southern Tier Brewing
One of the Chamber's most popular Experience Chautauqua Networking Events is back! Join your friends for Oktoberfest at Southern Tier Brewing Company from 5-6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 20.
Southern Tier Brewing Company offers unique, specialty beers in a beautiful setting! It's a relaxed evening, time for fun and prizes, a little learning about the making of delicious beers, and some networking with other Chamber members.
This event is sponsored by Affinity One Federal Credit Union, Blackstone NEY Ultrasonics, Buffamante Whipple Buttafaro, Casella Waste Services, DFT Communications, Jamestown Jammers Baseball, Jamestown Mattress Company, Jamestown Savings Bank Arena, Liazon Corporation, and UBS Financial Services.
You can register online now for this event at www.chautauquachamber.org or by calling the Chamber at 366-6200 or 484-1101.
Shop Local this Holiday
As we move closer to Thanksgiving, Chautauqua County residents start thinking more and more about holiday shopping. This year, the Chamber of Commerce encourages everyone to think about making purchases from local merchants. One of the ways to do that is to purchase and use Shoptauqua Gift Checks, available through the Chamber of Commerce. For more information, call the Chamber at 366-6200 or 484-1101, or visit our web site at www.chautauquachamber.org. We appreciate a few days advance notice for Gift check orders to allow for processing time.