Chamber Honors Community Service & Economic Development Efforts

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Article Contributed by
Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce

The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce paid tribute Thursday to a number of individuals and organizations for their service to our communities and for their efforts to make our county a better place to live, work, and play. The Chamber Annual Awards Banquet was held at the Williams Center at the State University of New York at Fredonia.

Daniel Heitzenrater, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, noted, “We had an extraordinary group of people in the room tonight, representing a variety of organizations from across the county. These individuals have made great contributions to our county in so many ways and we are proud to recognize their achievements.”

John D’Agostino, managing editor of the OBSERVER and The Post-Journal, was named one of two Persons of the Year.

Two Persons of the Year were recognized this year: John D’Agostino, Managing Editor of the OBSERVER and The Post-Journal for his public work in journalism and his private efforts for numerous local non-profit organizations; and Rochelle Mole, Vice President of Finance and Operations for the National Comedy Center for her foundational role behind the scenes in developing and holding together during the pandemic two vital attractions in Chautauqua County – the National Comedy Center and the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum.

The Economic Development Award was presented to Chautauqua Hospice & Palliative Care for both its crucial care for patients and families and for its extraordinary fundraising and construction of the county’s first ever Hospice House, which is creating jobs.

Each of the six community Chambers of Commerce presented a Community Service Award. The Dunkirk Community Chamber has selected Kirk Frey, who has owned Kirk’s Jewelers for over four decades and has also been actively engaged in the community through his church and through many charitable contributions. The Fredonia Community Chamber chose Festivals Fredonia for its Community Service Award, an all-volunteer organization which is responsible for putting on several festivals in the community annually. The Hanover Community Chamber selected Aimee Rogers to receive its Community Service Award in recognition of her efforts with Imagine Forestville to both encourage the preservation of history and to encourage new business development in the hamlet. The Jamestown Community Chamber selected Lou Deppas for its Community Service Award for his long-time commitment to the community and especially his service on the Boards of Directors of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame, Jamestown YMCA, and National Comedy Center. The Mayville-Chautauqua Community Chamber chose the Chautauqua Lake Central Schools for providing full-time in-person instruction for 95% of the district’s students during the very challenging 2020-2021 school year and creating a successful and safe learning environment for students. The Westfield-Barcelona Community Chamber award was presented to the Patterson Library Hands, a loosely formed volunteer group that works diligently through hands-on maintenance and improvement projects to keep the historic library working.

Rochelle Mole, Vice President of Finance and Operations for the National Comedy Center, was named one of two Persons of the Year.

Heitzenrater noted that the event was held both in-person and online to provide the best possible experience for all. “We set out to create an event that would feel safe, comfortable, and enjoyable for all, and hope we accomplished that. Precautions were taken each step of the way, and with guidance from our Board of Directors and our hosts at SUNY Fredonia. We thank everyone for their understanding and adherence to the guidelines.”

The Chamber Annual Awards Banquet was sponsored by Community Bank, County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency, DFT Communications, Jamestown Community College, Media One Radio Group, National Grid, OBSERVER, and The Post-Journal