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By Joni Blackman
The Jamestown Gazette was invited to a delicious potluck chicken BBQ at the N. Harmony Senior Citizen Club monthly meeting in beautiful Stow, N.Y. to talk to the Club about one of the visionaries that helped make the current community building a reality. Joni Blackman from The Jamestown Gazette was heartily welcomed by a friendly crowd of about 85 members. Former Town Clerk and Town Supervisor Sally Carlson, who passed away in 2018, was the energy and vision behind the project from the start. The story goes that back in 1979, the Club, which was five years young, purchased the swampy area along Stow Ferry Rd. for a future permanent building. I-86, the Expressway, was under construction. Club members persuaded the workmen to help them out by dumping needed soil, gravel and fill to shore up the land, and then compact it with their equipment! It was a different time! Many retired tradesmen, local merchants and grateful community members donated their time, talent and treasure to the project.
At the time there were no public funds available to finance the construction. Mrs. Carlson encouraged the Club to sell hotdog lunches to the construction workers to build a construction fund. It was successful. Along with the hotdog sales and loans from generous Club members the building became a reality, a community asset.
Sally was described by the members as kind, enthusiastic, patriotic, community focused, a good friend and dedicated. She always wanted a garden at the site. This year her vision became a stunning reality. Club President Earl Ferry said, “Sally had an idea, [Club member] Fanchon Adams said let’s do it and I built the raised beds. I just couldn’t believe how beautiful it turned out. It’s wonderful!” Many Cub members have helped with designing, planting, and weeding the garden.
Sally Carlson will be remembered with a memorial bench placed directly beside the flagpole. According to her obituary; “Following in the footsteps of her mother, Sally served as town clerk and tax collector for the town of North Harmony from 1972 to 2005. She was one of the founders of the Municipal Clerks of Chautauqua County, serving as president, and wrote the newsletter for several years. During this time, she was awarded Town Clerk of the Year and was the recipient of the Southern Tier West Local Government Award. She was a registered municipal clerk and notary public. She also collected school taxes for Chautauqua Central School.
From 2006 until her death, Carlson proudly and energetically served as town of North Harmony supervisor. She was a passionate leader who cared deeply about the community. She worked tirelessly to make North Harmony and Chautauqua Lake a better place to live, work and visit. She leaves a legacy of improvements to our community, but perhaps one of the most memorable and lasting may be the work she did to build the North Harmony Veteran’s Park in Ashville
A true public servant and volunteer, Sally was active in almost countless local organizations, from the Ashville Library to the Chautauqua Lake Management Commission. Sally will be remembered by many for her dedicated public service, community involvement and volunteerism.”
The Club welcomes new members. Some of their regular activities include a weekly game night, a weekly craft club that donates knitted items to local hospitals serving veterans and children, bus trips with other senior groups and friendly, informative monthly dinners. The Club is a network of friends provide great support and social activity.