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Award winners announced for annual banquet

September 10, 2015
By Todd J. Tranum - President and CEO of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce & Executive Director of the Manufacturers Association of the Sout , Westfield Republican

The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce is proud to announce the award winners who will be honored during this year's Chamber Annual Awards Banquet on Oct. 8.

The Economic Development Award will be presented jointly to the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation and the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation. The two community foundations serving our county have worked in a variety of ways to promote economic advancement in Chautauqua County. Just this year the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation provided a significant grant to the National Comedy Center and has also been instrumental in helping to fund and promote the Robert H. Jackson Center. The Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation has been instrumental in helping to launch and grow the Local Economic Development Committee, serving the entire northern Chautauqua region. The LED is focused on public-private partnerships to engage a cross-section of the community in advocacy and strategic planning for development of the regions unique assets. Together, the two community foundations provided over $3.5-million in the past year in grants and scholarships to both local non-profit organizations and local students attending colleges and universities nationwide.

The Person of the Year Award is going to Journey Gunderson, Executive Director of the Lucy Desi Center for Comedy and the National Comedy Center. The award is being presented to Gunderson to recognize her strong leadership and vision for the future of comedy in Chautauqua County. The National Comedy Center promises to be a world class destination and have a multi-million dollar impact on tourism in Chautauqua County. Gunderson has successfully worked with her management team, board members and volunteers towards implementation of the overall mission of the organizations. Importantly, Gunderson has expanded on the vision created by the late Lucille Ball to celebrate the comedic arts.

Each Community Chamber also chooses a Community Service Award Winner. The Dunkirk Community Chamber has selected the Dunkirk High School Army Junior ROTC program for its Community Service Award. In existence for 21 years, about 60 students are taking part in the character and leadership development program, overseen by Sgt. First Class Frank Torain. The mission is to motivate young people to be better citizens. In addition to a class schedule, the cadets are active in community events including Martin Luther King Jr. Day luncheons, Memorial Day services, and works for blood drives and food drives for local community groups.

The Fredonia Community Chamber chose the Fredonia Beaver Club for its continuous presence and support of the region including creation of a scholarship fund for a Fredonia Central School senior, sponsorship of Little League teams, charitable golf tournaments, assisting local law enforcement with equipment purchases, and more.

Estelle Crino has been selected to receive the Community Service Award from the Hanover Community Chamber. Ms. Crino is a retired teacher, principal, and adjunct professor. She has been a Franciscan nun, an artist, a published author, and an entrepreneur who owns Pinewood Cottage Bed and Breakfast. She is active as Vice President of the Hanover Community Chamber and the Lakeshore Chapter of NYS Women, Inc. She is a member of the Board of Assessment Review in the Town of Hanover and a Eucharistic Minister in Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish in Silver Creek.

The Jamestown Community Chamber selected George Panebianco for its Community Service Award. The President of Lewis & Lewis, he is a former and well-respected City Court Judge in Jamestown. Mr. Panebianco is a volunteer with youth baseball and started a fund to allow underprivileged children to play baseball. He currently serves in a volunteer capacity as the President of the National Comedy Center.

The Mayville-Chautauqua Community Chamber has chosen Ken Shearer to receive its Community Service Award to honor his many years of service and dedication to the promotion of business and tourism. Ken and his wife are co-owners of Chautauqua Marina with Lou and Debi Clementi. He has been President of the Mayville-Chautauqua Chamber for many years, and also served as Chairman of the Chautauqua County Chamber. He is Treasurer of the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau and a Vice President of the Chautauqua Lake Association. He has been a long-time supporter and promoter of the President's Day Weekend Winter Festival in Mayville.

The Westfield-Barcelona Community Chamber is presenting its Community Service Award to Jack and Kathie Horst. The couple was traveling through Westfield 21 years ago, stopped to stretch their legs, and fell in love with the village. Once they made Westfield their home, they began to volunteer for a number of organizations including Westfield Memorial Hospital, the Patterson Library, the Northern Chautauqua Canine Rescue, the Stray Cat Rescue, and the McClurg Mansion and Chautauqua County Historical Society.

All of these people and organizations will be honored during the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Banquet, which will be held October 8 at the Williams Center on the SUNY Fredonia campus. Invitations will be mailed to all Chamber members. Friends and relatives of award winners are also invited to attend.

Board training

workshop Sept. 11

Whether you are currently a member of a Board of Directors or are considering getting involved in one, we encourage you to take advantage of a special upcoming training workshop on how to be a better board member. The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce is pleased to present a special training workshop on Boardsmanship, Friday, Sept. 11, from 8:30-10:30am at the Falcon's Nest Banquet Hall, East Main Street in Falconer. Chris Yates of Hutton Associates has an extensive background, having served on several boards of directors including Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau, Chautauqua Lake Association, WCA Hospital Foundation, and others. He will spend this time sharing insights on what it means to serve on a board. Topics will include the role of the board and its members, hiring staff, vision and mission, budgeting, and nurturing diversity. Join the Chamber for this morning of good food and useful information. The cost is just $12. You may register online at or call the Chamber at 366-6200 or 484-1101.

Health insurance

information/enrollment sessions offered

We are here to serve your health insurance needs. Whether you are a sole proprietor or a small, medium or large business, we can assist you. We are here to make sure you get the coverage you need at a price that works for you and your employees. This year, Chamber staff has the ability to provide a wide variety of choices to connect you with health, dental, vision, and other ancillary insurance products that will best suit your needs. We strongly encourage you to attend one of our many free open enrollment/information sessions for a thorough overview of changes coming this year and to learn about all of the options available. A complete calendar of our health insurance sessions is available on our website at These forums are sponsored by KeyBank, Lawley Insurance, and Univera Healthcare.



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