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The Jamestown Gazette is proud to salute First Responders for their tireless commitment to the safety and well being of all in need.
The Jamestown Gazette is proud to salute First Responders for their tireless commitment to the safety and well being of all in need.

Jamestown Gazette Returns to Newsstands

The Jamestown Gazette, now in its tenth year of serving the Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, and Warren County regions. During this Covid-19 Pandemic The Jamestown Gazette has never stopped publishing our Weekly Paper. The last eight weeks The Jamestown Gazette weekly paper as been online during the Covid-19 crisis. But now it’s back in print on selected newsstands, as well as still online, where readers can find The Peoples Paper.

“We are hardy folks and we don’t give up,” said Stacey Hannon, the Gazette’s owner and publisher. She was not only speaking for herself and her staff, but also for the strong local communities and faithful readers the Jamestown Gazette continues to serve.

As essential businesses, newspapers and other media have continued to serve the public. With so many news stand locations closed, though print copies gave way to a greatly increased online readership. However, returning the Gazette to some reopened newsstands is now more important than ever.

Chautauqua County Executive Paul Wendell’s extension of the county’s state-of-emergency for as much as 30 more days (starting May 14) makes increased access to community media more crucial for local citizens.

Essential Services

“Residents have done a phenomenal job but we are counting on them to remember that we are not out of the woods yet,” Jamestown’s Mayor Eddie Sundquist told the Gazette. He also made sure to say that “phenomenal job” could not have been done without “excellent bipartisan support from our congressional delegation, our local elected officials, and the region’s essential services, one of which is, of course, the media who keep citizens informed.

Sundquist invites Jamestown Gazette readers to stay up to date on the city’s plans for reopening local businesses one phase at a time by visiting jamestownny.gov/restart.

On March 19, New York’s Governor Cuomo announced that news publishers and other media organizations are essential businesses. By continuing its 10-year practice of publishing online, even when not in print, the Jamestown Gazette upheld its role as an essential communication source without interruption. The Gazette can also return newspapers to newsstands while meeting all Department of Health guidelines.

Community Resilience

“The Jamestown Gazette opened for business in the middle of the great recession.” But hard times turned out to be the perfect time to publish a free newspaper, especially when advertisers needed all the business the Gazette could help them get. “People asked us if we were aware of the economy,” Hannon said, but she proved hard times create opportunities. Reopening of the economy may now do the same for many other local small businesses planning to reopen soon.

“It might feel like we’re starting all over again,” Hannon added. “Our lives and businesses have been turned upside down by this Pandemic”. However, we know that the key will be community support for every local business to come back stronger than before.

Another local business, the historic Ecklof Bakery in Jamestown, is taking a lead role in helping local small businesses weather the economic storm. Chad Ecklof, the third generation in the business, found a way for small business owners to learn from each other about the changing and confusing regulations governing employee pay, taxes, and the blurred guidelines of the federal loan programs, by creating a new Facebook site.

Small business owners across the region are invited to visit the Facebook page titled: “Pandemic Businesses Chautauqua County.” The less-publicized revisions to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans for small businesses which keeps workers on the payroll are studied every day by members of this group.

“Some of those regulations, however, change from day to day,” Chad discovered, “and we’re sharing those changes all across the local small business community. It’s already made a huge difference for some of us. Business owners are invited to join, learn, and contribute their own experiences.”

Local merchants are finding that collaboration is a key to resilience. Local businesses working together will create the best recovery possible.

Coordinated Leadership

“I’m a fighter and I will keep fighting for our County,” Wendell told the Gazette. “But the race is not over.” He cautioned citizens, “This is still a Marathon. We are committed to reopening safely and responsibly when we can, as soon as we can, but discipline is a key part of our program.”

Wendell and Sundquist also report that they confer regularly with Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “As elected officials we took an oath to respect the governor’s decisions in cases like this,” Wendell said. He pointed out, however, that he and Chautauqua County mayors also rely heavily on Wendell’s local Covid Response Team operating out of Mayville composed of prominent physicians, EMS specialists, law enforcement, legal and economic advisors.

Developing Plans

New York’s “Pause” has given some business owners an unexpected chance to plan new and improved offerings.
While the Jamestown Gazette plans to return to its previous print circulation numbers as soon as more newsstand locations reopen, an unexpected outcome of the short-term hold on printing has been the welcome increase in online local, nation-wide, and world-wide readership.

Ecklof promises, “we will be coming out with a few new things. It’ll be like Christmas all over again. We are looking at the possibility of developing an online menu and customer pickup option. As the premier local bakery, we are preparing our own new, signature sourdough bread to add to our repertoire.” And of course, when asked, Chad admitted the world-famous pink stripe cookies will be in the front lines of whatever they do.

Patience Needed

Local merchants point out that the recovery will require patience. Business owners will need to be patient while the consumer’s ability to shop slowly revives. A lot of people have already cut down on their discretionary spending because incomes are down. That hurts merchants.

Consumers, on the other hand, will need to be patient with merchants while they restock. That may be hard until their sales pick up. That may hurt consumers.

Merchants who spoke to the Jamestown Gazette have said that in the past the Shop Local Initiative was very helpful. They are hoping that kind of initiative will work again. The community on both sides of the cash register will need patience and understanding for the local economy to recover.

Mayor Sundberg added that patience will also be needed to keep coordinating the statewide and local safety standards. Reopening, especially in the early phases, will not eliminate the need and the personal responsibility of every citizen to observe all safety measures, including personal distancing and masks as appropriate to every situation.

Help Arrives

Jamestown has been very fortunate, according to Sundquist, in obtaining a Small Business Assistance Program loan which was developed to help some struggling, local small businesses survive and reopen.

“We have also developed a unique rental assistance program,” Sundquist added. It is one of the very few in the State of New York. We are one of the first cities to get approval for it from HUD.

In many cases, it will pay rent directly to the landlord and help prevent eviction of people and families who have lost their jobs. One of the stipulations is that the landlord must allow a full inspection of the apartment and guarantee repairs and upgrades as soon as they can be done, or forfeit the payments.

Sundquist credits Department of Development Director Crystal Surdyk for implementing and administering this program.

A Bright Spot

Local citizens and businesses in Chautauqua County, according to Wendell, have done so well at preventing the kind of spike in Covid-19 cases that the local health care system has not been overwhelmed by admissions. As a result, local resources have not been depleted and local health care workers have not been driven to exhaustion.

“So, when it comes to our goal of reopening safely and responsibly,” Wendell said, “we are very well prepared for this.”

From everyone at the Jamestown, please stay well, stay safe, and enjoy the read.

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Walt Pickut
Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.