We had our first meeting last week of the volunteers who want to promote tourism and industry in Chautauqua County. Ten people attended. Now you may think, "That's not a lot of people," but I have found it's not numbers that make success, but dedication. I also notice that people who work with a caring heart are the best workers. Volunteers are priceless!
First of all, I want to thank Mayor Keefe of Fredonia for providing us a room in which to meet and attending the whole meeting. He told me he had another place to go at 8 p.m., but he never left. Thank you so much! He was very impressed with the people who came and is looking forward to results that are going to happen.
I was blessed with a telephone call from Millie who expressed enthusiasm for this project. I told her I needed someone computer smart to be secretary and she is just the person. Also, she has the experience of living in Charlotte, N.C. for four years, and then moving to Washington for two years. Then she and her husband moved back to Silver Creek where they could afford to buy a house! Yes, this area is affordable. Millie made the comment that the best thing our area had to offer is the people. They are so loving and so caring. She is right. I've worked on so many projects with people from different churches, with different politics, with degrees or no diplomas. Those things make no difference.
Ann Saeli made some good observations. She said mayors can draw people (or chase them away if they are negative, that's my thought). We could hold karaoke, game shows, talent shows free things. Maybe we could have various casino nights, use our libraries. We need a directory. Can we use the trolley car more?
John Krupinski said, "We have Lake Erie, miles of beaches, Chautauqua Lake, Amish people. And the gold medal world winner Jenn Suhr of pole vaulting fame. We should have Jenn come back to a bigger place to accommodate more people." John also remembered wrestling matches held at the fairgrounds.
Ange Bennice suggested an amusement park at the Point. We could have a roll arena, food stands. Torge Nelson, who has Erie Park, is from Dunkirk. He would be a good resource person.
Matt Mincin, a junior at SUNY Fredonia, was thrilled to find kindred spirits! He values dedication. Matt, Skeeter Tower and I have such a strong desire to open up pathways between all of our towns and cities. We are not competitors we are complimentors. That is, we will all help each other to make things work. Forget about jealousies and who gets credit. Let's open up and have fun!
Matt thinks we can feature Lily Dale more as an attraction. He thinks orientation time at SUNY Fredonia can be used to inform the students about all this county has to offer. Canadaway Creek was the first battle of the War of 1812. We still have two years to celebrate that place in our history! Matt would like to see more involvement from "I Love NY," North County Chamber of Commerce, Chautauqua Institute, "Vacationland" and much more. Matt suggested the name "Hidden Treasures of Chautauqua" for our group.
Skeeter Tower was very impressed with Matt and all the ideas everyone had to offer. Be sure to come to our next meeting to hear all the new ideas she and the others have. In the past, people have shown interest in peace garden tours. Maybe that can be developed more. Let's combine beauty and history.
We also welcomed Diane Clark and Bill Moran of Westfield, who run Greystone Nature Preserve. They work closely with volunteers, many of them college students. They have planted more than 100 trees, including with them the names of those who planted them. They have also built 31 birdhouses for the bluebirds. These will help protect the bluebirds, who lose their young to sparrows who kill them. These projects will be an incentive for tree planters and bird house builders to come back and check out their work, seeing the benefits of their labor and how they've helped nature.
It was a very productive meeting. We also had Alice Tibbs drop off a list of officers who work on the snowmobiling project. This was given to Alice by Don Meder. Also Gina Paradis dropped off information on Northern Chautauqua Foundation Tourism. So you see we already have a very impressive group and it is growing. As a matter of fact, so many people have expressed interest in our next meeting that Mayor Keefe has arranged for us to use the big room upstairs in Fredonia Village Hall next Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. Please join us!
Before closing, I want to compliment Dennis Odebraski and Valerie Lawson for winning the Rising Star Award in October for the wonderful improvements they made on their house! This should be an incentive to all and I hope this program continues in the coming years. You see, that's another project that other communities can follow. If it's a good idea be a copy cat!
Margaret Valone is a Fredonia resident. Send comments on this column to firstname.lastname@example.org