Chautauqua County Community Source

Prevailing over adversity is topic of virtual talk

SUNY Buffalo State Chief Diversity Officer and Chief of Staff to the President Crystal Rodriguez-Dabney

FREDONIA– A virtual presentation, “Overcoming Adversity on the Road to Success,” by SUNY Buffalo State Chief Diversity Officer and Chief of Staff to the President Crystal Rodriguez-Dabney, will be offered on Wednesday, March 24, at 6 p.m.

Ms. Rodriguez-Dabney welcomes the opportunity to participate in the State University of New York at Fredonia’s Women’s History Month programming by discussing her journey to success, noted Multicultural Support Services Director David White. Her story is one of perseverance and determination that promises to inspire and motivate, he added.

The Office of Multicultural Support Services is hosting the presentation.

The registration link is online at:

Foti Turns SUNY JCC Nursing Education Into Worldwide Career

It’s one of Cheri Foti’s most prized possessions — a visual memory of a career dedicated to serving her country and others across the globe.
“I’ve highlighted each of the countries and continents I’ve been to,” Foti says. “I’ve been to over 21 countries and four continents — North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa.”
“That’s not bad for a little Jamestown girl who was afraid to leave home,” she laughed.
Foti is a nurse by trade and a retired lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force. One of the highest-ranking female officers in Chautauqua County, she mortgaged a desire to serve humanity into a 19-year career that took her across the country and through

Lt. Col. Cheri Foti poses on the day of her promotion

out the world.
“I just wanted to help people,” she said. “Whatever I did, I wanted to be able to help people.”
Her journey, however, began in her hometown. The daughter of two working class parents and the first in her family to earn a college degree, Foti never traveled during her adolescent years and found herself not quite “ready to go to college or go away from home” after graduating from Jamestown High School in 1973.
“I wasn’t emotionally ready to leave the nest and our family didn’t travel a lot or go places back then,” she said. “The other thing, too, was the money. I had to pay for college myself so I had to consider my options.”
And so, after a gap year, she enrolled at SUNY Jamestown Community College.
“I wasn’t ready to spread my wings yet, so JCC was perfect for me because it gave me the opportunity to go get a degree and get my education and I didn’t have to leave home,” Foti said.
At JCC, she was fascinated by her studies and encouraged by the professionals who inspired her desire to be a nurse.
“I remember all of my professors — they made the coursework so interesting,” she said, noting one presentation on critical care nursing in particular.
“That lecture immediately changed my life because I knew that was what I wanted to do,” she said. “It was as if electricity jolted through my body.”
She also loved the camaraderie the college provided.
“Back then, there was a student union that was a really little area and it had a TV and everybody would make sure we didn’t have classes at 1 p.m. … and we’d all meet in the lounge and watch “All My Children” at 1 p.m.” she remembered. “Several of my friends from high school also went so we were able to stick together and meet new people at the same time.”
Foti graduated from JCC in 1976 and joined the Air Force in 1978 as a second lieutenant. However, her time at the college was never far from her mind during her subsequent pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in nursing at the University of Colorado Health Science Center and an eventual master’s degree in nursing administration at the University at Buffalo.
She also learned very quickly the expendability of her degree.
“I didn’t always have to be a nurse in the traditional sense of working in the hospital,” she said. “I did work in the hospital, but they were different jobs. What JCC taught me was that you can get a degree in something, but you don’t have to use it necessarily in a traditional way.”
Nothing emphasized that more than her various journeys — from Washington, D.C. to Japan and the many fascinating stops in between.
“I lived in Washington, D.C. at Andrews Air Force base and experienced everything from the arts to the big fancy restaurants to the Smithsonian,” she said. “Through friends I made in the Air Force, I went to Europe for the first time, I went skiing in Colorado in the Rockies — those were just like wow experiences. It was just so unlike anything I had ever experienced in the previous in the 20-some years of my life.”
After her retirement from the military in 1996, Foti’s commitment to service and health continued as a volunteer for the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, Special Olympics. and Juvenile Diabetes Association.
A passionate JCC alumna, she’s also served as president of the college’s alumni board, and received the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2019.
“When I moved back here, I still wanted to give back because that is such an important thing, regardless of, even if you don’t have a degree,” she said. “Graduating from JCC made me feel very confident, because I was able to pass college tests and it proved to me that I could get a degree. … It gave me the confidence to move forward to the next chapter of my life.”

Audubon Director’s Next Virtual Home Garden Program Tuesday, March 23

Having worked at organic farms from Colorado to Italy, Audubon Community Nature Center Executive Director Leigh Rovegno shares her experience through her virtual Starting a Successful Home Garden Series. Her next presentation, When, How, and What Seeds to Start Indoors, is Tuesday evening, March 23.

Jamestown, N.Y. – Are you looking for something to keep your mind, body, and soul fulfilled in order to survive the COVID-19 pandemic? If so, start

ing a home garden is just the thing for you.

On Tuesday, March 23, 7-8 p.m., you can join Audubon Community Nature Center (ACNC) Executive Director Leigh Rovegno for the virtual program When, How, and What Seeds to Start Indoors. This is the second of the seven-part Starting a Successful Home Garden Series that is designed to provide the basics on how to start seeds indoors to create a successful home garden.
Rovegno presents different topics each time, and you may participate in one class or the full series that lasts through early June. Programs are designed for beginner or intermediate gardeners, including children 9 years and older interested in nurturing their green thumbs.
Prior to coming to ACNC, Rovegno worked at a variety of organic farms located in places including New Hampshire, Italy, and Colorado. Connect personally with her as she shares her tips and tricks on what supplies to have on-hand, favorite seed varieties, and how to make the most of your available garden space.
Enrollment is limited. The fee is $8 or $6 for Nature Center members and children ages 9-15. Paid reservations are required by Saturday, March 20. Register by going to and clicking thru “Upcoming Programs.”
Internet access and prior download of the Zoom app is necessary to participate in this virtual program. To download Zoom, go to: The Zoom program link is included in your receipt after registration.

Audubon Community Nature Center is located at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, N.Y., and Warren, Pa. The first floor of the Nature Center building, including the Blue Heron Gift Shop, live animals, and the 2020 Nature Photography Contest winning photographs, is open Mondays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Because not all of the building is accessible, admission is by donation only.

You are welcome to visit the 600-acre nature preserve from dawn to dusk daily. While practicing safe social distancing measures, you can hike, snowshoe, or cross country ski the six miles of trails and view Liberty, Audubon’s non-releasable Bald Eagle.

To learn more about Audubon and its many programs, call (716) 569-2345, visit, or find Audubon Community Nature Center on Facebook.

Opera House to Stream Chautauqua Brass Concert

Chautauqua Brass is a western New York-based chamber ensemble with a keen focus on music education, rooted in musicians’ wellness. Coming from different places across North America, each of the ensemble’s four members brings his own tastes in music to the group; and this is reflected in the wide variety of music found in its concert programs.

FREDONIA – The 1891 Fredonia Opera House Performing Arts Center will live stream a performance with local favorites, Chautauqua Brass, on Friday, Mar. 26, at 7:30pm.

“We’re so excited to be hosting performances on our stage once again, even if it is to an empty theatre,” notes Opera House Executive Director Rick Davis. “Thanks to a generous grant from the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation, we were able to purchase the equipment and technology to enable us to live stream concerts and events from inside the theatre, as they are happening, to viewers at home.”

The Mar. 26 concert with Chautauqua Brass will feature a variety of classic and contemporary works, some that are traditional brass ensemble pieces and some arranged specifically for Chautauqua Brass.

Established in September of 2018, Chautauqua Brass is a western New York-based chamber ensemble with a keen focus on music education, rooted in musicians’ wellness. Coming from different places across North America, each of the ensemble’s four members brings his own tastes in music to the group; and this is reflected in the wide variety of music found in its concert programs. With a vision set on fostering a healthy community of musicians and listeners from all walks of life, the members of Chautauqua Brass believe that music is the best way to bring a community together.

Growing in popularity throughout the Chautauqua region, the group performs a mixture of classical and pop music, including songs not typically performed by brass ensembles.  In addition to performances, the group also offers educational workshops and master classes for student musicians of all ages. The group’s four core members include Devin Bennett, Bobby Fisco, Landon Gray and Daniel Marion.

Bennett, the resident Canadian in the group, comes from the mountains of British Columbia. He was raised in International Schools all over the world, and loves to experience different cultures. He has since settled in the Chautauqua area to make music with Chautauqua Brass, and to work with Musicians Wellness of North America.

Originally from Cleveland, Fisco comes to Chautauqua Brass from Pittsburgh, where he completed his Masters of Music degree at Carnegie Mellon University. His primary teachers have included Jan Kagarice, Ed Zadrozny, Peter Sullivan, and Jaime Morales-Matos. He serves as the musical arranger for the group, which he describes as a fun challenge given the unique and adaptable instrumentation of the ensemble.  Away from Chautauqua Brass, Fisco is an assistant clinician at Musician’s Wellness of North America.

Originally from Santa Rosa, California, Gray holds a degree in Trumpet Performance from the University of North Texas. He is an adjunct instructor of trumpet at the State University of New York at Fredonia, and enjoys playing a diverse selection of music.

Rounding out the bottom of the ensemble, Marion is Chautauqua Brass’ Bass Trombonist. Born and raised in Fort Worth, TX, he graduated from the University of North Texas with a bass trombone performance degree.  His primary teachers have included Jan Kagarice, Vern Kagarice, Tony Baker, Darren McHenry, Tony Corson and Gary Phillips.  He is an active freelancer and has performed with The Metro Praise Orchestra, a jazz big band based in Fort Worth, and the Grammy-nominated One O’clock Lab Band.  In his time off the horn, Daniel also works with Musician’s Wellness of North America as an assistant clinician.

The concert is a live-streamed event, which will only be presented live as it is happening. Tickets are $16 per household and can be purchased online at A Vimeo link and password to view the performance will be emailed to ticket-buyers a few hours prior to the show’s curtain.

Tri-County Arts Council announces 2021 NYSCA Decentralization Program grant awards

The Tri-County Arts Council (TCAC) has announced the 2021 recipients of the Individual Artist, Community Arts and Arts Education grants, which are funded by the New York State Council on the Arts Decentralization Program with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
These grants have been administered by TCAC since 2000. Due to the pandemic restrictions, there will be no awards ceremony this year.
Information on the various programs and projects with the grantees will be posted on the arts council’s website calendar as they become available.
TCAC administers these grants in Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties through a competitive application process. Peer panels awarded $77,605 this year to 31 artists and/or arts and cultural organization projects to support community-oriented programs throughout the tri-county region.
The 2021 grant recipients include:
Individual Artist Grants: Fileve Palmer, Joan Pingitore, Kari Roslund, Lisa Ann Eppolito, Peter B. Jones, Stephanie McMahon and William P. Capozzi.
Community Arts Grants in Allegany County: Belfast Public Library, David A. Howe Public Library, The Fountain Arts Center Inc., Palmer Opera House (Cuba Friends of Architecture), Scio Memorial Library, Town Theatre of Short Tract, Whitesville Public Library and Wide-Awake Club Library.
Community Arts Grants in Cattaraugus County: Gowanda’s Historic Hollywood Theater (Theater Camp and Mural Projects), Keynote Chorus, The Olean Theatre Workshop, Randolph Area Community Development Corp. and Southern Tier Symphony.
Community Arts Grants in Chautauqua County: American Scandinavian Heritage Foundation, Cherry Creek Community Association, Inc., Citizens for a Better Cassadaga, Great Lake FX, Inc., Lily Dale, North Shore Arts Alliance, and Tri-Church Parish.
Arts Education Grants: Works of Our Hands
Several panelists helped to review grant applications: Ludwig Brunner, Jessica Kubiak, John Hosford, Wendy Skinner, Trenton Lutes, Evelyn Penman, Joe Kwiatkowski, Jason Green, Tina Dalton, Mark Corwine, Brittany Thierman and George Harper.
For arts organizations and individual artists interested in applying for future funding, grants are awarded annually with the 2022 guidelines available in June.
For more information on these or other funding opportunities, visit or contact Beth Wiltse at

Implications of fat phobia topic of UC, Irvine professor’s virtual talk

FREDONIA– An upcoming lecture hosted by the State University of New York at Fredonia’s Ethnic and Gender Studies program will focus on fat phobia as it specifically relates to Black women. The Zoom lecture will be led by University of California, Irvine Department of Sociology Associate Professor Sabrina Strings on Wednesday, March 17, at 3 p.m.

Dr. Strings’ presentation, “Fat Phobia as Misogynoir: Gender, Race and Weight Stigma,” is free and can be viewed by registering at the online link:

Strings is the author of “Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia,” which received the 2020 Body and Embodiment Best Publication Award and an Honorable Mention in the 2020 Sociology of Sex and Gender Distinguished Book Award competition from the American Sociological Association.

Misogynoir refers to the specific hatred, dislike, distrust and prejudice directed toward Black women.

Both topics, Dr. Hildebrand noted, are drawing considerable attention from students at Fredonia as well as in the scholarly arena – notably in gender and ethnic studies, history, sociology and psychology programs – and from additional audiences through venues such as NPR and The New York Times. In an NPR interview, Strings discussed the impact of fab phobia specifically on a group of Black women who were HIV positive. They refused medication because they felt pressure to remain thin, citing weight gain as a possible side effect.

Amid the coronavirus and racial tensions dividing the nation, a virtual lecture by Dr. Sabrina Strings represents an opportunity to bring the community and campus together for a discussion about fat phobia and social justice activism, noted Department of History Associate Professor Jennifer Hildebrand.

“Strings has mastered the ability to communicate complex and difficult subjects with audiences of all backgrounds, which has helped her to make a significant impact as a scholar activist who is educating for change,” Hildebrand said.

Strings’ work appeals to both academic and popular audiences, Hildebrandt added, because it is highly accessible and because she applies the theoretical frameworks of academia to “hot-button” discussions about RuPaul’s “Drag Race” television series, American singer Lizzo and, most recently, the important intersection of body type and the impact of COVID-19.

The lecture, hosted by the Ethnic and Gender Studies program, with funding from the Carnahan Jackson Humanities Fund of the Fredonia College Foundation, serves as a follow-up to “The Future of Inclusion: Innovating in a Post-COVID World” virtual talk Black trans activist Tiq Milan presented to Fredonia in 2020.

Village of Mayville Drinking Water

“Do Not Drink” Advisory is Discontinued effective December 24, 2020

(MAYVILLE, NY)– The Do Not Drink Advisory for the Village of Mayville’s Public Water Supply is discontinued effective December 24, 2020. Your water is now acceptable for drinking, food preparation and all household uses.

Coordination between the Village of Mayville, Chautauqua County and the New York State Departments of Environmental Conservation and Health has ensured that a new water source for the Village, Well #4, is now online and providing clean water to Village residents. Water testing has confirmed Well #4 has no detectable levels of PFNA.

The village residents and water customers are commended  for their cooperation during this emergency.

Sampling results show levels of P­­FNA continue to go down in the Village water storage tank. Efforts are underway by the Village to flush the tank of old water and replace it with clean water from Well #4.  Additional engineering measures are being taken to maximize use of Well #4 to meet the needs of the Village and continue to lower levels in the storage tank.  As a result, the “do not drink” advisory is lifted effective December 24, 2020. The water system will continue to be monitored on a weekly basis and results will be made available to the public.

Sampling data from Monday, December 21 show PFNA levels ranged between non-detectable to 59.5 parts per trillion. Levels in the water system are continuing to go down by maximizing water delivery from Well #4.

The water supply was sampled again on Wednesday, December 23.  Repeat sampling will occur on Monday, December 28 and then a weekly schedule will ensue.  Results will be made available to the public.

If you haven’t run your household plumbing, please run water until it is cold before using it for drinking or food preparation.  For those who are interested, bottled water will be available on a limited basis and distribution will continue to be coordinated by the Village through January 4, 2021.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) will continue to investigate the source of contamination and how it can be remediated.  The results of the recent private well sampling should be available soon.

The “do not drink” advisory was issued on December 10th out of an abundance of caution after sample results received on December 9th for the Village of Mayville’s supply wells indicated high levels of the chemical perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA).


  • For information about drinking water and health effects contact NYS DOH Bureau of Toxic Substance Assessment at 518-402-7800.
  • For more information about drinking water quality contact NYS DOH Bureau of Water Supply Protection at 518 402-7650.
  • General information is available at  E-mail inquiries can be directed to
  • For questions, village water customers can contact: 716-269-4802.


(MAYVILLE, NY)– The Chautauqua County Shared Services Initiative Panel recently met to discuss and vote on the 2021 Chautauqua County Shared Services Initiative Plan.  Three public hearings will be conducted for residents to ask questions and offer comment the following dates and times:

Monday, December 28, 2020 at 11:00 A.M.
Tuesday, December 29, 2020 at 11:00 A.M.
Tuesday, December 29, 2020 at 2:00 P.M.

All public hearings will be held with social distancing protocols in Gerace Office Building Room 331, 3 North Erie St., Mayville, NY 14757. Individuals may also participate via conference call by calling 1-855-332-4181, access code: 7534800.

Anyone seeking further information may call Executive Assistant Daniel Heitzenrater in the Chautauqua County Executive’s Office at 716-753-4672.

Waiting till the last minute to do your Christmas shopping?  The Next Chapter Bookstore and a generous supporter can help! 

(FREDONIA, NY) – Starting Tuesday, December 15, The Next Chapter Bookstore will be selling an array of filled gift baskets.  This supporter of Literacy Volunteers put together over 25 gift baskets that range in price from $25 to $65.  The baskets are filled with items such as cozy throws, mugs, books, ornaments, string lights, notecards, candy, and snacks.  Perfect for the upcoming winter weather.   The higher priced baskets also include two admission tickets to the National Comedy Center.

Visit to review individual basket contents and photos.  Baskets may be purchased at The Next Chapter Bookstore or by calling (716) 680-8120.  Free delivery of gift baskets is available within a 10-mile radius of Fredonia.  All proceeds benefit the Literacy Volunteers of Chautauqua County.

The Next Chapter Bookstore is full of good quality used books – fiction, non-fiction, children’s, Sci-Fy, Mystery, Cookbooks, Self-Help, etc.   The bookstore is located at 12 Park Place, Fredonia and open Tuesday 1pm – 7pm and Wednesday – Saturday, 10am – 7pm.  Face masks are required, and social distancing is strongly encouraged.   Stop by for your next great adventure!

Literacy Volunteers of Chautauqua County offers free one-on-one tutoring in reading, writing, and math, along with English language instruction, basic computer literacy, workplace preparation, and life skills.

Looking to volunteer?  LVCC is looking for help in the bookstore, as a board member or a volunteer tutor.  Stop in at the Education Center (10 Park Place) or the Bookstore (12 Park Place) in Fredonia to learn more or visit

Village of Mayville Water Distribution

Village officials are providing canned and bottled water for pick-up at the Town of Chautauqua DPW Garage at 50 Patterson Street on Tuesday, December 15th through Friday, December 18th from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 4:30 6:30 p.m.  An update for the weekend will be developed and announced later this week.


Please note:

  • Any persons in Isolation or Quarantine for COVID-19 should NOT leave their homes to pick up water. If there is no one available to bring water to you, please call the Health Department at 716-753-4491.
  • All COVID-19 precautions will be taken at distribution including masking and social distancing.
  • Residents must stay in their vehicles.
  • Water will be limited to one (1) case per household per day.
  • Those unable to pick-up water should call John Buxton with the Village of Mayville at 716-269-4801 to make alternate arrangements.
  • Future water distribution dates and sites are being planned.


More information:

  • Water customers and the public will be kept informed on progress to reduce the contamination and when the water is deemed safe for all uses.
  • For information about drinking water and health effects contact NYS DOH Bureau of Toxic Substance Assessment at 518-402-7800.
  • For more information about drinking water quality contact NYS DOH Bureau of Water Supply Protection at 518 402-7650.
  • General information is at  E-mail inquiries can be directed to
  • General information on PFAS can also be found at: