Fincher Retiring as Chautauqua Rails to Trails President

Incoming President Bill Ward and Retiring President Jim Fincher.

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Chautauqua Rails to Trails

Chautauqua Rails to Trails is undergoing a transition period which is celebratory of both the past and of the future. The Annual Meeting was held on September 13 on the patio of the Carlson Center at Mayville Park. It was an historic evening. It was Jim Fincher’s last meeting after a 22-year tenure as trail manager and later as president. The organization is honoring Fincher by naming a trail segment after him, a one-mile stretch between Rt. 430 and Honeysette Road in Mayville. Improvements to the surface of that popular trail will occur in the next year. County legislator and musician/entertainer Bill Ward will be the new president.

“Being associated with Rails to Trails for these many years has been a wonderful experience. The people we worked with have been great. Underneath all our activity is the idea that the trails are for everyone’s use, to gain knowledge of nature, quiet solitude and a wonderful way to get exercise leading to good health,” stated Fincher.

Left to right: Chautauqua Rails to Trails Treasurer Virginia King, Incoming Vice President John McCune, Incoming President Bill Ward, Retiring President Jim Fincher, Outgoing Vice President Bree Agett, Secretary Wendy Lewellen

Ward expressed his outlook in this way. “I’m not sure there’s anyone who can fill the shoes of our outgoing president. Jim Fincher has done more for the organization than perhaps any singular individual. It is with both a sense of honor and humble responsibility that Vice President Dr. John McCune and I are able to take on this role.”

Highlights of the meeting included installation of officers for the next year and the induction of one new board member. The Signage subcommittee reported on its latest achievements, one of which was the creation and erecting of the James C. “Jim” Fincher Nature Trail sign. Other agenda items included updates on the ongoing efforts of Patrick Johnson to realize the dream of making the rail trail viable between Sherman and Clymer, plans for needed repairs to the “Swank” culvert on the Ney Trail, progress on the Town of Carroll Trail in Frewsburg, recognition of volunteer mowers, edits to the trail guide, improvements to the entrance segment of the Webb Trail at Rt. 394 and an update on the large problematic culvert near Woleben Road and funding for its much needed repair.

Chautauqua Rails to Trail Incoming President Bill Ward and Incoming Board Member Patrick Johnson.

Patrick Johnson was elected to the 16-member board of directors. Joining Fincher as an outgoing officer was Vice-President Bree Agett. Agett will remain on the board. The new officers are: Bill Ward of Mayville, president; Dr. John McCune of Fredonia, vice president; Virginia King of Sherman, treasurer; and Wendy Lewellen of Bemus Point, secretary. Judy Takats of Portland agreed to continue as membership chair.

Chautauqua Rails to Trails is an all-volunteer organization. The 501c3 non-profit organization strives to improve the quality of life in Chautauqua County by the conversion and maintenance of former railroad beds for recreational use by hikers, bikers, cross-country skiers, birdwatchers, horseback riders and snowmobilers. More information can be obtained at and on Facebook.