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Wendel outlines optimistic plans in State of Chautauqua County address

The logo of Chautauqua County.
Chautauqua County
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It's been a tough couple of years, but Chautauqua County Executive P.J. Wendel said his county is digging out and the future is looking good during his State of the County address Wednesday.

Speaking to a meeting of the County Legislature, Wendel said he has more plans to reorganize county government, create a cleaner Chautauqua Lake as new sewer projects near completion, improvements in the county's bus system and a series of targeted investments to add new jobs and to hold on to current jobs.

"The path to a thriving county demands economic growth, workforce readiness, strong, safe communities and effective, efficient county government and investment in our county's infrastructure," Wendel said. "My goal is to make Chautauqua County the best place to live, raise a family, work, start a business and to visit."

He said this could eventually lead to a turnaround for the county's declining population, helped along by more job training to make sure county residents get those jobs. Wendel said projects, loans and grants will result in $164 million being invested in Chautauqua to create 314 new permanent jobs, while retaining more than 1,750 current jobs.

He said the county's Industrial Development Agency will be a key element.

"Going forward, the CCIDA has goals to acquire large parcels of land for expansion and shovel-ready sites," Wendel said. "They are also in the process of reactivating several high-profile buildings right here in Chautauqua County, including the Furniture Mart Building, the White Inn, the former Silver Creek High School on Main Street, the ConAgra building and the former NRG power plant."

Wendel said the county will also be investing in the continuing effort to deal with drug problems and help with plans for a new Brooks Hospital in the northern part of Chautauqua.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.