When it comes to making progress on reversing the population drain from Chautauqua County, you have to start somewhere.
That is why our Newsmaker for this month includes five entities who are endorsing change even though it is not always comfortable. These groups include:
Brocton and Westfield - Though one more vote remains, the communities have given their stamp of approval for continuing to look at merging the school districts. In all, 1,221 residents voted with 976 saying "yes" to merging - almost 80 percent. "I am proud of both communities' response to the needs of the children," said Brocton school board President Tom DeJoe. "This will lead to a reduction of taxes for both districts. It's a win-win situation."
Silver Creek and Forestville - These two school districts are continuing to work closely together when it comes to sharing sporting teams. And just last week, Silver Creek schools approved sharing its transportation supervisor with Forestville. While the savings for both districts will be minimal, it is a good-will gesture that helps build relationships.
Silver Creek Village Board - No one said making tough decisions was easy. This group, however, has stuck to their guns when it comes to the village police department. Due to a lack of positions filled - and the high cost that goes with running it - Silver Creek leaders have turned to the county Sheriff's Department for policing. Not everyone in the village is happy with the decision, but as an editorial earlier this month noted, people are not leaving Silver Creek because it does not have a police department. They - and businesses - are making the exodus due to the high-tax burden.
Let's also not forget some other recent partnerships that make sense, including the regional water district progress, Fredonia and Dunkirk schools working together on the pre-kindergarten program and, in the south county, Panama and Clymer recently considering the sharing of superintendents.
Tough, but small steps by all involved. Just as important, the steps deviate from the status quo.