The Observer

Chamber recognizes Ron Graham, board and staff

The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce 2014 Annual Meeting was a celebration of a year of successes as well as the people who make the community and Chamber organization tick.The Chamber was pleased to be able to recognize Ron Graham with the third annual Pam Lydic Coalition Builder Award. Graham is responsible for founding both Chautauqua Striders and Infinity Visual & Performing Arts. Originally from Corinth, Miss., Graham came to Jamestown in his youth and Mississippi’s loss was Chautauqua County’s gain. During the Chamber’s Annual Meeting, Graham shared his stories of the people who influenced his early years as he spent most days after school at the Jamestown YMCA.

The Pam Lydic Coalition Builder Award recognizes an individual who has worked hard to bring groups of people together around a common goal or objective. The award is presented to someone who has helped move the region forward in a positive direction through collaboration and by building partnerships. It is especially focused on those who have done their work consistently and often in the background.

Graham made his points clear when talking about his work with youth over the years. He said, “Listen to the kids. They will tell you what they want and what they need.”

It was an honor for the Chamber to present the award to Ron Graham.

During the Annual Meeting the Chamber also presented a certificate to Paul Zebraski, formerly of Carriage House/ConAgra and now of Nestle Purina PetCare. Zebraski has served for many years on the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, working tirelessly behind the scenes for the good of the organization. In this case, the Chamber is not letting him go too far. While he is stepping away from the Chamber board, Zebraski has agreed to join the board of the Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier. In this new capacity he will continue to serve the business community beyond Chautauqua County.

The Chamber also congratulates Jim Pullan, Dennis Rak, Ann Abdella, Jay Warren, Ken Shearer, Curt Anderson, Virginia Horvath and Larry Ludemann for their continued efforts on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce and welcome the Chamber’s newest board member, Brian Bugaj of Nestle Purina.

As the leader of an organization like the Chamber of Commerce and Manufacturers Association you are only as good as the people around you. Todd Tranum said his past six years with the Chamber people have come and gone and he has learned that there are some key personality traits of people who are successful in this work: belief in the mission, dedication to the cause, a willingness to go above and beyond expectations, the ability collaborate and work in a team environment, kindness, honesty and loyalty. For the past 10 years, Guy Ditonto has been all of those things for the Chamber. The Chamber recognized his decade of service with a special basket of gifts that represent Chautauqua County, and the Chamber looks forward to working with Ditonto for years to come.

The update on the National Center for Comedy presented by Journey Gunderson and Tom Benson was important information for the business community and provided an excellent overview of the project. The Lucy-Desi Museum and Center for Comedy is fortunate to have such dedicated staff and board people, who not only envisioned a plan for the future, but have worked tirelessly to make it a reality. The $1.5 million grant from the state announced recently will make a substantial contribution to the project.

I Love CHQ video contest

Whether you are a year-round resident or a part-time visitor to Chautauqua County, you can show off what you love about the county in the I Love CHQ Film Contest which opens Jan. 1. The Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau is running the contest through its Facebook page at Videos can be uploaded any time, although voting will not begin until Jan. 1.

The I Love CHQ Challenge will consist of four contest periods during 2015. The first contest runs from Jan. 1 through March 31. Videos should be 1.5 to 3 minutes long and based on one of the following five categories: Local Flavors, Outdoors and Recreation, Living Here; Working Here or Arts, Culture, History and Education. Videos can be submitted through the app on the CCVB Facebook page. Once they are displayed in the contest gallery, participants can share their work and solicit votes. Those with the highest number of online votes will be reviewed by a judging committee to determine final winners for each contest period. A $250 cash prize will be awarded to the winner of each of the five suggested categories per contest period. All of the prize winners from the four contests will also be eligible for a $1,000 grand prize at the end of the final contest period. Complete terms and conditions are available online.

Shop-Tauqua gift checks make great gifts

The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce offices will be open Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 22 and 23 for last-minute shoppers interested in purchasing Shop-Tauqua Chamber Gift Checks. Gift Checks can be used at more than 90 local stores, spas, restaurants and other businesses right here in Chautauqua County, helping to support local business people. Since its inception, the Gift Check program has had a more than $2 million impact on our local economy. Call the Chamber for more information at 366-6200 or 484-1101 or learn more on our website at

Fredonia Chamber Christmas ornament sale

The Fredonia Community Chamber of Commerce 2014 Annual Christmas Ornaments are now available! These beautiful ornaments were designed by artist Erin Bennett from Fredonia Central School. You can purchase yours at these Fredonia locations: the Paper Factory, 3771 E. Main Road; the White Inn, 52 E. Main St.; and the Fredonia Chamber Office, 35 E. Main St., or by calling 679-1565. The ornaments are $12 each, or when you purchase two or more they are $10 each.

The additional financial assistance of the community is critical to the success of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame.
We gratefully acknowledge these individuals and organizations for their generous support.