By Daniel J. Heitzenrater
President and CEO of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce
The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce honored a number of individuals and organizations last week for their service to our communities and for their efforts to make our county a better place to live, work and be. to entertain. The annual House Awards banquet was held at the Williams Center at the State University of New York in Fredonia.
We had an amazing group of people in the room tonight, representing a variety of organizations from across the country. These people have made a great contribution to our riding in many ways and we are proud to recognize their accomplishments.
Two Personalities of the Year were recognized this year: John D’Agostino, editor-in-chief of OBSERVER and Post-Journal for his public work in journalism and his private efforts for many local non-profit organizations; and Rochelle Mole, vice president of finance and operations for the National Comedy Center for her fundamental role behind the scenes in developing and sustaining two vital attractions in Chautauqua County during the pandemic – the National Comedy Center and the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum.
The Economic Development Award went to Chautauqua Hospice & Palliative Care for its critical care for patients and families and for its extraordinary fundraising and building the county’s very first hospice home, which creates jobs.
Each of the six community chambers of commerce presented a community service award. The Dunkirk Community Chamber has selected Kirk Frey, owner of Kirk’s Jewelers for more than four decades and who has also been actively involved in the community through his church and numerous charitable contributions. The Community House of Fredonia chose Festivals Fredonia for its Community Service Award, a completely voluntary organization responsible for organizing several festivals in the community each year. The Hanover Community Chamber chose Aimee Rogers to receive its Community Service Award in recognition of her efforts with Imagine Forestville to both encourage the preservation of history and encourage the development of new businesses in the hamlet. The Jamestown Community Chamber selected Lou Deppas for its Community Service Award for his long-standing commitment to the community and in particular his service on the boards of directors of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame, the Jamestown YMCA and the National Comedy Center. The Mayville-Chautauqua Community Chamber selected Chautauqua Lake Central Schools to provide full-time in-person instruction to 95% of the students in the district during the very challenging 2020-2021 school year and create a successful learning environment and safe for students. The Westfield-Barcelona Community Chamber Award was presented to the Patterson Library Hands, a group of loosely trained volunteers who work diligently through hands-on maintenance and improvement projects to keep the historic library in working order.
The annual House Awards Banquet was sponsored by Community Bank, Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency, DFT Communications, Jamestown Community College, Media One Radio Group, National Grid, OBSERVER and The Post-Journal .
YES, YOU CAN HOST A BIG SR EVENT NOW
The annual Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce awards banquet has always been well attended, often hosting 350 people in one room for a dinner. This year, with a pandemic still impacting the health and well-being of the community, some changes had to be made. In full consultation with our board of directors and our venue – the faculty student association at SUNY Fredonia – the Chamber was able to organize a grand dinner to honor our award recipients, while ensuring everyone’s safety.
Some of the decisions were tough along the way and were made with the full knowledge that if we had to step down due to public health concerns, we would be able to do so. The House has determined that we will limit in-person attendance to 200 guests, and that all in-person guests should certify during online registration that they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. SUNY requires everyone inside to wear a face covering unless they are seated for a meal, so we have adhered to this bylaw.
We ended up with an enjoyable dinner for 130 people in the room, as well as a dozen people who chose to watch the festivities online. The exceptional technology and student support available through the Williams Center on campus made it easy for us to broadcast this event live via the Zoom webinar. It took a little while initially to test and explain the technological and production aspects of this program, but we were pleased with the results.
As we have all learned to browse various web visualization platforms over the past eighteen months, we have also realized that this is the new reality for many. The hybrid event – both in person and online – is the new way of the world. We thank all of our Chamber members, award recipients and sponsors for working with us throughout this process and hope that it can serve as an example for other organizations as they reflect on the manner of occupying significant functions in the near future.
NOMINATIONS FOR THE PAM LYDIC COALITION BUILDER AWARD ARE OPEN
The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors will be accepting nominations for the Pam Lydic Coalition Builder Award until November 1. This award recognizes a local person who has worked hard to bring groups of people together around a common goal or goal. This award is given to an individual who has helped move the region forward in a positive direction through collaboration and partnership building. The award is particularly focused on those who have done their work consistently and often in the background. A typical winner would be an “unsung hero” in the community. It is named in memory of Pam Lydic, the first President / CEO of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce. The award will be presented at the Chamber’s annual meeting on December 3.