DUNKIRK - A metaphoric gavel was passed at Shorewood Country Club in Dunkirk Friday afternoon. The Chautauqua County Chamber made the transition into a new board at its annual meeting with guest speaker, Jamestown Community College President Dr. Cory Duckworth.
Duckworth, who has been serving as president for about 100 days, talked about his time spent in Chautauqua County in his new role. He said he and his wife have been welcomed with open arms by the community.
"It has been 100 of the most exhilarating and exciting days of my life," he said. "We have been so warmly welcomed. Folks here are really genuinely warm and welcoming. It's something that is significantly noticeable."
Duckworth spoke on the college's goals and initiatives moving forward. He said many people may take JCC for granted, adding it has "found its way into the hearts of people we serve."
"Jamestown Community College is an extraordinary institution. It may be one of those things that people take for granted because it's been here quietly doing its thing over the years, quietly being a part of the community it serves," Duckworth said.
Duckworth commended the USA Scholarship for bringing in top students from area high schools. By bringing those students into the classroom other students perform at a higher level, he said. He also commended the faculty, staff and students who truly want to be in the classroom, and to those employees who truly love their jobs. While Duckworth did not announce a formal comprehensive plan, he said the college will continue to build on a solid foundation already laid.
He said the college will work to bring in active business partners to help transition students into the workplace following graduation; working with businesses to ensure education requirements are meeting the needs of the community; enrollment should be widened to students of any age and background, not just the students coming out of high school; and JCC should be a partner in helping to revitalize the local economy.
Ken Shearer, outgoing Chautauqua County Chamber Of Commerce board chairman, welcomed the new chair Jim Pullan Jr., of Jamestown Mattress Company. Shearer reflected on the past year and accomplishments of the Chamber such as the introduction of a science, technology, education and math education-based focus and the success of the Shoptauqua program, among others.
"As a board member, I'm very proud of the accomplishments of this organization in effort to build a stronger business environment here in Chautauqua County. I am happy to serve as chairman and meet so many of you. Thank you for helping me to make it such a positive experience," he said.
Pullan went over many initiatives the chamber will continue to work on in 2014. One major initiative the Chamber will continue to work on is involving the smaller community chambers in Dunkirk, Fredonia, Hanover, Jamestown, Mayville-Chautauqua and Westfield-Barcelona. Pullan said advocacy is a big component of the Chamber and marketing Chautauqua County.
"I'm really proud of the Chamber who is very vibrant and active. We work very hard to make positive changes to the economic well-being of this county. I look forward to playing a role in that this coming year," he said.
Also at the meeting, several awards were given. Lyle T. Hajdu, chair of the Chautauqua Lake Management Commission, was presented with the Pam Lydic Coalition Builder Award. Retiring board members who were honored were Hans Auer of UBS, Ellen Luczkowiak of First Niagara Bank and Tom Rackowski of Pillowcasegram and Other Things.
The 2014 Chamber board is comprised of the following: Chair Pullan; Vice Chair Dennis Rak, Double A Vineyards, Inc.; Treasurer Ann Abdella, Chautauqua County Health Network; Secretary Jay Warren, Graf Realty; Past Chair Shearer, Chautauqua Marina; Curt Anderson, Small Business Development Center; Virginia Horvath, SUNY Fredonia; Larry Ludemann, DFT Communications and Paul Zebraski, ConAgra Private Brands. The chair of each community chamber board also serves on the board.