Chautauqua County Community Source

COVID-19 cases are one the rise

Self-quarantine if you have been exposed

(MAYVILLE, NY)– Chautauqua County is seeing more cases of COVID-19 than ever before. People are sick, and our health care system and public health workers are overwhelmed. You can help by following all of the recommended safety guidelines to reduce the spread of the disease in our community. The power lies in all of our hands.

By now, you know the importance of masking, physical distancing and hand-washing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These are simple but effective actions that help protect you and others.

Would you know what to do if you were in close contact (within 6 feet for 10 minutes or longer) with someone who found out they have COVID-19? As the number of new cases climbs and we continue to move through the holiday season, it’s likely that more people will find themselves in this situation.

If you are aware that you have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19, take action immediately.  Do not wait for a call from the Health Department.  Quarantine at home, even if you do not feel sick.  This means staying away from others – both outside and inside of your home, if possible – until 14 days have passed since your last contact with that person.

The virus can take up to two weeks after you are infected to make you feel sick. We also know that you can be infected but never feel sick at all. In those cases, you could still spread the virus through close contact with others. This is why it is critical to quarantine if you:

  • Have been in close contact (within 6 feet) of someone who has COVID-19 for 10 minutes or longer.
  • Have cared for someone who is sick with COVID-19.
  • Have had direct physical contact with someone who has COVID-19. (This includes hugging or kissing them, sharing cups or silverware, or getting their respiratory droplets on you in another way — like getting coughed on.)
  • Are visiting a state with quarantine requirements.

When you are quarantining, watch for a fever (above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit), cough, shortness of breath or other COVID-19 symptoms. If you develop symptoms, reach out to a healthcare provider who can help you determine next steps for getting testing or care.

Stop the spread of COVID-19: Wear a mask; maintain a social distance of 6 feet; wash your hands often.

PSA: 11/24 COVID-19 testing clinic is full

No appointments remain available for the rapid testing clinic in Mayville on Tuesday, November 24th. Additional clinics are being planned for the week of November 30th; more information to follow.


(MAYVILLE, NY)– The Chautauqua County Health Department has received reports from the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) on its disease investigation and contact tracing efforts for the months of September and October 2020. Per the NYSDOH, Chautauqua County is doing better than both Western New York and New York State comparisons.

“Our County Public Health staff is truly the frontline unsung heroes of this pandemic,” said Public Health Director Christine Schuyler. “It has been all hands on deck every single day since early March. The dedication and hard work of everyone from nurses to clerks and everyone in between is nothing short of absolutely amazing.”  

During the months of September and October, Chautauqua County Health Department’s COVID-19 response team successfully reached 99.5% of the 663 positive cases, and completed interviews with 94.1% of cases; 78% of interviews were completed within 24 hours. Contact information for identified close contacts was obtained from 68.7% of cases; each case listed an average of 3.3 contacts. For each of these figures, Chautauqua County fared better than both Western New York and New York State comparisons.

The New York State Contact Tracing Virtual Call Center (VCC) provides COVID-19 contact tracing services on behalf of Chautauqua County. For the months of September and October, 94.5% of 2,167 identified contacts were reached, 76.1% had a completed interview, and 74.7% had an interview completed within 48 hours. These rates were similar to, but slightly lower than Western New York and New York State rates. All figures are considered “green,” or good, on the NYS Contact Tracing dashboard, with the exception of contacts with interviews completed within 48 hours which falls into the “yellow,” or “acceptable” category.

“Isolation and quarantine are critically important public health strategies to decrease the spread of contagious diseases such as COVID-19.  Our public health staff is efficiently and expertly implementing these measures which are proven to reduce the number of people infected and the number of deaths during this pandemic,” added Schuyler. “Isolation and quarantine along with other preventive measures such as wearing a mask, washing hands frequently and social distancing are the most effective tools in our toolbox at this time – and they are working.”

COVID-19 testing clinic

A COVID-19 rapid testing clinic will be held on Tuesday, November 24th from 9am – 2pm at the Chautauqua County Office of Emergency Services, 2 Academy Street, Mayville, NY.   COVID-19 testing is available to anyone who wants to be tested and is free.  Appointments are required; walk-in testing is not available.

The quickest way to get an appointment is to visit and schedule your appointment online. If you do not have internet access, you may call 1-866-604-6789 for scheduling assistance. However, due to current call volume, it may take some time to get through to a scheduler.

Please note the following: 

This is a drive through test site.  Please enter the location from Academy Street and then follow the signs and directions of the volunteers.  Stay in your vehicle with the windows closed until instructed otherwise. For your safety and the safety of others, do not have an animal in the vehicle with you.  The test being used is the Abbott IDNOW rapid test which tests for whether or not you currently are infected with the COVID-19 virus.  After testing, you must remain in your car parked at the site to receive a copy of your results. Plan at least 30 minutes to be tested and get your result. 

Stop the spread of COVID-19: Wear a mask; maintain a social distance of 6 feet; wash your hands often.

National Philanthropy Day to recognize Fredonia campus, community

(FREDONIA, NY) – The entire State University of New York at Fredonia campus and community will be recognized virtually by the Fredonia College Foundation for their efforts to raise money in support of students at a time of need during the coronavirus pandemic, when National Philanthropy Day is commemorated in Western New York on Thursday, Nov. 19.

“With the support of our campus community and our many loyal alumni and donors, we were able to raise approximately $191,000 to support Fredonia’s students,” said Betty Gossett, executive director of the foundation. “We are privileged to honor SUNY Fredonia for the tireless dedication of our administration, faculty and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Student Emergency Relief Fund was established by the foundation to financially assist students who faced unexpected expenses related to the pandemic and to alleviate hardships related to moving to a digital education format.

Donations of food and everyday necessities to assist students were also received by the Student Health Center. The Faculty Student Association provided meals for students, resident assistants helped to supervise proper Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) use by students, and faculty jumped to a digital platform to communicate and continue to teach students. Offices were well equipped with hand-sanitizers, masks and appropriate rules to follow to prevent the spread of the virus.

“We want to pay tribute to all of our campus employees, community and alumni who donated to the Student Emergency Relief Fund during a time of critical need on campus,” said June Miller-Spann, director of Development.

More information about the virtual celebration is available online at


(MAYVILLE, NY) – Chautauqua County Executive Paul M. Wendel, Jr. will be hosting a virtual COVID-19 Town Hall meeting on Tuesday, November 17, 2020 at 3 p.m. The town hall will be streamed live on the County Government facebook page at and will give area residents the opportunity to ask questions related to COVID-19 in Chautauqua County.

Wendel will be joined by Christine Schuyler, Director of the Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services; Dr. Robert Berke, County Physician; and Dr. Brian Walters and Dr. Michael Faulk.

New York Army National Guard Promotions

(LATHAM, NY)– Major General Ray Shields, the Adjutant General for the State of New York, announces the promotion of members of the New York Army National Guard in recognition of their capability for additional responsibility and leadership.

Kaleb Johnson from Westfield, N.Y. (14787), and assigned to the 152nd Engineer Company received a promotion to the rank of private first class on September 30, 2020.

Colmari Garcia-Rodriguez from Dunkirk, N.Y. (14048), and assigned to the Company C, 427th Support Battalion received a promotion to the rank of private first class on October 9, 2020.

Kevin Moralesroldan from Dunkirk, N.Y. (14048), and assigned to the Company D, 427th Support Battalion received a promotion to the rank of sergeant on September 30, 2020.

Melanie Rodriguez from Fredonia, N.Y. (14063), and assigned to the 442nd Military Police Company received a promotion to the rank of sergeant on October 16, 2020.

Army National Guard promotions are based on overall performance, attitude, leadership ability, and development potential.

These promotions additionally recognize the best qualified Soldiers and attract and retain the highest caliber Citizen Soldiers for a career in the New York Army National Guard.

For more information about the New York Army National Guard, visit or

The New York National Guard (New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs) is the state’s executive agency responsible to the Governor for managing New York’s Military Forces, which consists of nearly 20,000 members of the New York Army National Guard, the New York Air National Guard, the New York Naval Militia and the New York Guard.

SUNY Fredonia Students perform essential work during general election

(FREDONIA, NY) – Several State University of New York at Fredonia students had the unique experience of being at ground zero – working lengthy 16-hour or longer shifts at polls in Chautauqua, Niagara and Cattaraugus counties – during the hotly contested general election.

Election volunteers are essential to ensuring the integrity of the election process and assisting voters at the polls, said Department of Communication Assistant Professor Angela McGowan-Kirsch. “Being a poll worker is a great opportunity for students to work side-by-side with individuals they may not have interacted with otherwise and use their critical thinking skills to solve problems and answer questions,” Dr. McGowan-Kirsch added.

“I also see working at the polls as a valuable job to list on a resume, as it demonstrates a person’s dedication to fulfilling a civic duty and desire to support our community,” McGowan-Kirsch said.

Onnalee Strong and Megan Strine answered the call that McGowan-Kirsch issued in her course, COMM 342: Presidential Campaign Communication, to volunteer at the polls in Chautauqua County.

Ballots in Niagara County were counted by a third student, Madeline “Maddie” West. Kyra Fowler was a greeter in Cattaraugus County.

Poll workers, usually women likely over the age of 61, were in short supply this year, according to the Election Assistance Commission, said McGowan-Kirsch, chair of Fredonia’s American Democracy Project committee.

Students fill important shoes

“The risk of illness from COVID-19 increases with age so many of the people New York state depends on to work at the polls were unable to, this election,” McGowan-Kirsch explained. “Consequently, I thought it was crucial to have students and young people step forward to volunteer their time to be poll workers.”

Heightened significance of this election spurred Ms. Fowler’s interest in becoming a poll worker. She wanted to be a part of and learn more about the election process. Her primary duty was greeting people as they entered the polling site, St. John’s Roman Catholic School, and making sure they were comfortable and practiced social distancing in the very long hallway leading to the voting room.

“The atmosphere was hectic about 90 percent of the time,” reported Fowler, whose shift at the polls began at 4 a.m. “We had more voters in our ward this year than any other year, especially new voters.”

Very calm and collected is how Fowler, a senior majoring in Communication: Media Management, with a minor in Leadership Studies, from Olean, describes most voters. Some were anxious or excited, she noted, and there were even a few who expressed their opinion on which candidate people should support. Of course, this was not the right time or place for that, Fowler said.

“My biggest takeaway from this experience was that even if you feel very strongly about something, it’s common decency to respect other people’s opinions in a respectful way,” Fowler said. “I know this is one of the most important elections, but sometimes it can be easy to forget that we are all human beings living in the same place.”

McGowan-Kirsch’s course in political communication raised Ms. Strong’s engagement in the election, and this was the first time she could cast a ballot. A senior majoring in Communication: Communication Studies, with a minor in Public Health, from Panama, Strong wore multiple hats at the firehall in North Harmony. She was a door person, controlling the number of people admitted inside, and a cleaner. “The whole room smelled like hand sanitizer; we were making sure everything was clean and ready for the next voter,” Strong said. She also oversaw the ballet machines, had voters sign the iPad and passed out instructions.

Strong would like to see more younger people – and people in general – working at the polls. Serving from 5 a.m. until 9 p.m., as Strong did, can be physically demanding, so more people should be willing to volunteer.

Would Strong be a poll worker again?

“Absolutely, I think it means a lot to be involved in the community as well as showing initiative in wanting to be involved in the election process. Being a poll worker gives a behind the scenes look at how much actually goes into just casting your vote at the polls,” Strong said.

Ms. Strine remembers accompanying her parents to the polls when voting booths had curtains. “I always thought it was the coolest thing. I think it’s important to be politically active, but being a part of the process is very fulfilling and rewarding in itself,” said Strine, a sophomore Psychology major, with a minor in Communication, from Ripley.

The first part of her almost 17-hour day at the elementary school was spent checking voters into the system, giving out ballots and explaining the process. She often switched the ballot machines to give assistance and pass out “I voted!” stickers. She, too, was on the clean-up crew, sanitizing the stations, ballot folders and markers.

Strine gave high marks to the voting setup, saying it was very efficient and allowed for social distancing. Thankfully, Strine noted, most people wore masks and were polite.

Poll workers must be nonpartisan

“When I was on the floor team by the ballot machines, a few people told me who they were voting for and would say something about the other candidate.” Strine recalled. “I kind of just had to smile and not give them the benefit of getting a reaction because workers have to stay unbiased.”

Serving at the polls is a lot of work, Strine said, but it’s not hard work. It’s also a very rewarding experience, and she would think about doing it again.

Younger poll workers were sought for a variety of reasons by the League of Women Voters of Chautauqua County. Since poll workers are often older and at a higher risk for COVID-19, the organization reached out to Fredonia to find younger volunteers, explained Mary Croxton, a member of the Chautauqua chapter of the non-partisan organization.

The typical shift of a poll worker is around 16-1/2 hours, so physical endurance is essential. Younger poll workers are more likely to be tech savvy. The technology used in the voting process has changed, from physical poll books to navigating a screen. “You would not believe how a good number of older people struggled with the stylist pens,” Ms. Croxton said. “I was glad to have someone in their thirties on my team,” she added.

“In my opinion I think if more college students were involved with the election process they would get some better insight into how the system works. I gain insight with every encounter with the BOE (Board of Elections),” Croxton said. “It is an eye opener to see how few people vote.”

Westfield-Mayville Rotarians Learn about Safety Village’s Latest Programs

By Sue Hammond

(ASHVILLE, NY)– Fire safety, distracted driving and first aid are just a few of the programs offered by the Chautauqua Safety Village (CSV) in Ashville, NY that Rotary Club of Westfield-Mayville members learned more about during the group’s Nov. 10 Zoom meeting. Jessica Dayton, Executive Director of the CSV since 2018, was the guest presenter who discussed the programs and updates. Her presentation was sponsored by Rotarian John “Doc” Hamels.

Prior to 2018, Dayton was a CSV volunteer who assisted with its many events for several years before coming on staff full time as its associate director in 2017. She has spent her career managing programs that promote the well-being of youth in the region. Dayton has ben employed at the YWCA of Jamestown, NY, Chautauqua County Dept. of Mental Health, Project Crossroads at the Jamestown Police Dept., and the BOCES TEAM and CHOICE programs.

As listed on the CSV website, its mission is “to promote the well-being of children and community members through a wide range of experiential safety training and services.” Dayton’s vision for the CSV is “to increase participation from schools outside of Chautauqua County, to build community collaborations, and to provide community safety through education.”

Dayton thanked the Rotary Club of Westfield-Mayville for its ongoing support since the CSV began in 2010. She said, “Your Rotary club has been a huge supporter of ours. You built the large pavilion for outdoor education, and also secured a Rotary District Grant to help fund the purchase of tables with seating.” Westfield-Mayville Rotarians have also provided items for and volunteered at the CSV’s various public events, as well as supported its annual cash calendar fundraiser.

“When what was then called the Chautauqua Children’s Safety Education Village began in 2010, it offered three programs,” Dayton said. “We updated our brand, name and logo, and expanded our safety education for not only children, but also middle and high school students, as well as adults. We also are reaching out more beyond Chautauqua County to other counties in the region, including in PA.”

She continued, “The pandemic has changed how we do business. We had to get creative and adapt our programs, and we put some of our Safety Village planned renovations on hold. We are offering virtual field trips, and we created videos that teachers can share with students. Thanks to technology, we can offer a simulated fire safety program, an interactive floor game for traffic and bike safety, and a distracted driving video simulation program.”

In addition to these offerings, other CSV programs and services include first aid and hands-only CPR for students in grades 4 through 6; basic child care for area schools’ family and consumer science students; home alone safety for middle school students in health classes and also after school programs; and CPR certification for adults.

CSV also offers free smoke alarms and will install them. It offers a child passenger safety service that has a certified technician who will check child safety seats for recalls or defects, and will also help with the correct installation of the seats. The CSV has a few safety seats that are free to the public.

Dayton noted that the CSV cash calendar fundraiser will run for only the two months of Jan. and Feb. 2021. She said, “There are daily cash prizes, and 59 total chances to win. Also, folks may purchase one month of chances for $10 or two months of chances for $20.”

The Rotary Club of Westfield-Mayville commends Jessica Dayton and all of the Chautauqua Safety Village staff, board members and volunteers who provide many important safety programs for children and adults. For more information about the CSV, its programs and/or its cash calendar fundraiser, see the CSV website at or call 716-338-0170.

Six NY Army National Guard Soldiers are part of new Army Museum opening Wednesday

National Museum of the United States Army features figures modeled on live Soldiers

Three New York Army National Guard Soldiers posed for figures that inhabit this exhibit of a Higgins Boat landing craft loading up for the landings in Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944 at the National Museum of the United States Army. Major Kevin Vilardo, served as the model for the photographer in the stern, while 1st Lt. Sam Gerdt modeled the Soldier waiting at the side of the boat. Sgt. 1st Class Nick Archibald served as the model for one of the Soldiers climbing down the cargo net. The museum opens to the public on Nov. 11, 2020. (National Museum of the United States Army, Duane Lempke)(LATHAM, NY)–  When the National Museum of the United States Army opens its doors to the public on Veteran’s Day 2020 this Wednesday, six New York Army National Guard Soldiers will take special pride in the role they played in that event.

The six men were the models for six of 63 life-sized Soldier figures that will bring exhibits in the museum to life.

The figures of the six New York National Guard Solders — Maj. Robert Freed, from Central Valley; Chaplain (Maj.) James Kim, from Malta; Major Kevin Vilardo, from Saratoga Springs; 1st Lt. Sam Gerdt, from Watertown; Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Morrison, from Forest Hills, and Sgt. 1st Class Nick Archibald, from Tonawanda–will populate two exhibits from two different eras.

Construction on the $200 million museum began in the fall of 2016. On Wednesday, Nov. 11 the museum will hold a virtual ceremony to celebrate its opening. It will be livestreamed at

The National Museum of the U.S. Army, located on a publically accessible area of Fort Belvoir, Virginia, will be the first and only museum to tell the 245-year history of the U.S. Army since its establishment in 1775.

The six New York Army National Guard Soldiers served as models for the figures back in 2018. While Studio EIS, a Brooklyn company that specializes in making museum exhibit figures would normally hire actors to serve as models, the museum wanted to use real American Soldiers for their project.

“Having real Soldiers gives the figures a level of authenticity to the scene,” Paul Morando the chief of exhibits for the museum explained at the time.

“They know where their hands should be on the weapons. They know how far apart their feet should be when they are standing. They know how to carry their equipment,” he said.

Three of the six New York Army National Guard Soldiers are in an exhibit that depicts Soldiers clambering down the side of a ship to land in Normandy on June 6, 1944.

The models of Vilardo, Gerdt, and Archibald inhabit the exhibit featuring Soldiers clambering down a cargo net into a landing craft off the Normandy beaches on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

The figure modeled by Archibald is climbing down the cargo net slung over the side of a ship into the 36-foot long landing craft known as a “Higgins boat.”

The boats took their name from Andrew Higgins, a Louisiana boat-builder who designed the plywood-sided boats, which delivered Soldiers directly to the beach.

Vilardo was the model for a combat photographer. His figure is in the back of the boat taking pictures of the action.

Gerdt modeled a Soldier standing in the boat gazing toward the beach, thinking about what is to come.

The landing craft is so big that it, and three other macro artifacts, were pre-positioned in their space within the museum in 2017. The building was then constructed around those artifacts.

Three New York Army National Guard Soldiers served as the models for the figures in this display about the Afghan War in the National Museum of the United States Army at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Major Robert Freed, posed for the figure holding the radio, Major (Chaplain) James Kim was the model for the crouching figure, and Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Morrison was the model for the rifleman at the right of the tableau.

Kim, Morrison and Freed modeled figures that will are in an Afghanistan combat tableau.

They portray Soldiers from the 2nd Cavalry Regiment on patrol in 2014. Each Soldier depicting a different responsibility on a typical combat mission.

The figure based on Morrison is holding an M4 and scanning for the enemy.

Freed modeled a platoon leader talking on the radio.

Kim was the model for a Soldier operating a remote control for a MARCbot, which is used to inspect objects which might be improvised explosive devices.

The process of turning a Soldier into a life-sized figure started by posing the Soldier in the position called for in the tableau and taking lots of photos.

This allows the artists to observe how the person looks and record it.

Next, a model of the individuals face is made. A special silicone based material is used for the cast. The model’s nostrils are kept clear so the subject can breathe.

The Soldiers were told what their character was supposed to be doing and thinking and asked to make the appropriate facial gestures.

The Soldiers were recruited for their look and in some cases their ethnic background.

The museum needed Soldiers who were leaner than the 21st Century norm to portray World War II GIs. Museum officials also wanted Asian-American and African-American Soldiers for the Afghanistan exhibit which is why Kim and Morrison were approached.

Next the artists sculpted the sections molded from the Soldier into a complete figure, dress and accessorize, and paint precise details on the face and skin; crafting it to humanistic and historical perfection.

Being a part of the National Museum of the United States Army is an honor, the six Soldiers said.

While their names won’t be acknowledged on the exhibits, it will be great to know they are part of telling the Army story, they all agreed.

Freed said he was looking forward to visiting the museum. But because of the COVID-19 pandemic he doesn’t anticipate going until the spring or summer, he added.

Visitors to the museum will have to acquire tickets on line and attend at specified times in order to prevent crowding, according to museum officials.

Vilardo, who has a nine-year old daughter, said she was pretty excited when he showed her photographs of him being turned into an exhibit figure.

“I told her it would be just like “Night at the Museum”, he said referring to the Ben Stiller movie about museum exhibits coming to life, “and that we could go visit anytime.”

Meeting Canceled – Riverfront Management Council

The Riverfront Management Council meeting scheduled for 5:30 p.m. tonight has been canceled. The next meeting of the RMC will be Tuesday, January 12, 2021.