Local residents have seen just about everything Mother Nature has to offer.
In a moment's notice, a December day that starts with exposed grass can end with 6 feet of snow. However, area summers have the potential to be devastatingly hot as well.
Some would argue that it's impossible to completely prepare for such a change in climate. There are some who excel during the hot days of the summer only to lock themselves indoors during the winter; similarly, there are those who thrive during the winter, only to break down in a fit of exhaustion when exposed to the sun's fury for too long.
Above, kegs are piled high inside the ice-cold coolers inside Arthur Gren.
And of course, all of this can translate into how one approaches their occupation throughout the course of a year. During the days of the summer when one could fry an egg on any given sidewalk panel in the city, how wonderful it must be to be the person who drives the Zamboni at the Jamestown Savings Bank Arena. Yet come winter, think of how much harder it would be to get out of bed in the morning knowing that the winter jacket you've put on at 7 a.m. likely won't come off until you're finished with work at 5 p.m.
Without good, hard-working folks dedicated to their trade year-round, residents would not be able to enjoy all that we do as residents of Chautauqua County. And what better day than Independence Day to recognize a few folks working the hottest of the hot jobs and the coldest of the cold jobs?
Travis Melquist gets up every morning and drives to work at Lena's Pizza where he and a handful of other employees make the pizza dough by hand in a building without air conditioning. He takes a short hiatus, then comes back around 3:30 p.m. when he takes orders, prepares the pizza and puts them into the oven for baking. During the winter, it's a laborsome job to do. However, during the summer, it takes a Herculean effort to simply get through the day.
"On a busy day, we take in roughly 250 orders, whether it's pizza or wings or something else on the menu," said Melquist. "Usually during the beginning of the week that number is on the lower side, but on a Friday or Saturday night we might take up to 300 orders."
Those who have had the opportunity to watch the Lena's machine in action know that the employees of the store make a pizza with surgical precision. The sauce is laid, the cheese is piled on, the toppings are arranged and the pizza goes in the oven to be cooked. There's little time to waste when there's new orders coming in constantly over the phone.
When things get hot, there's only one solution.
"Deal with it," said Melquist. "Think about the end of the day and drink lots of water. Try to sneak in the cooler if you can."
However, according to Melquist, almost all of the employees at Lena's accept the heat of the kitchen as "part of a day's work."
"Most of them don't complain very often and when they do, you know it's for a good reason," said Melquist.
Along with making pizza, working the press at the local dry cleaners is a job that takes resolve during the hot months of the summer and the employees at Anderson Cleaners know it all too well.
"It's a hot job but we do our best to keep everyone cool while the machines are running," said Faith Sikorski, service coordinator for Anderson Cleaners. "We have fans running and we keep all the doors open to the outside to keep the air moving."
According to Sikorski, because all of Anderson's employees are part-time, no one ends up staying on a press for the whole day.
"Workers might spend two-and-a-half hours on a press, take a break, come back for another hour, take lunch, then put in a few more hours," said Sikorski. "On a really hot day, we'll give our employees neck straps from the freezer to wear to help keep their body temperature down."
On the other side of the spectrum, there are the men and women in the county who might call a 30-by-30 foot freezer their office. Though this may be a burden in the winter, according to David Roman of Arthur Gren it most certainly makes the hours go by faster during the hot months of the summer.
"On a normal day I'll spend four to five hours in the freezer in the morning loading up the trucks," said Roman. "When you're driving the trucks, you're in the air conditioning there ... sometimes when you're making a delivery someone will give you a bottle of water or something. It's always nice when it works out that way."
However, once the summer passes and winter sets in, the refreshing temperature of the freezer once again becomes a burden.
"No matter how cold it is outside during the winter, it's always colder in the freezer," said Roman. "There's the problem that a change in temperature (could cause) the labels on the bottles to peel off, so everything has to stay cold throughout the delivery, including when everything is loaded."
So as the summer progresses, remember to keep those in mind who endure extreme heat and cold as a part of their jobs. Without them, our food wouldn't be hot, our drinks wouldn't be cold and our clothes wouldn't be clean.