While a motion in support of best practices to overcome COVID-19 failed to receive enough signatures to come to the floor, it garnered an hour’s worth of public comment at Wednesday’s Chautauqua County Legislature meeting.
The motion proposed by Fredonia Democrat Susan Parker included language supporting the County Health Department in their efforts to get residents vaccinated and encouraging residents to wear masks. It needed 10 signatures to come to the floor to be voted on and only received four.
Of those who spoke at the first privilege of the floor, ten residents spoke in favor of the motion while eight spoke against it.
Barbara Colt, speaking on behalf of the Chautauqua Cattaraugus Women and Men’s Action Group (CCWAG), said they support the County Department of Health and State Department of Health, “Our Department of Health and Human Services has fought relentlessly for more than two years to reduce the overwhelming effects of COVID. A disease that continues to damage, debilitate, and extinguish the lives of our county residents. CCWAG requests that the County Legislature supports these public health measures and policies.”
Seth Viticus of Jamestown encouraged the Legislature to withdraw the motion, saying it offered nothing new in combating COVID-19, “I propose to talk with County Health Department to instead encourage more healthy lifestyle choices, so when people do get the COVID virus their body is better suited to fight it. I’m not here to debate the vaccine or the masks, but if we’re going to waste resources and manpower, then let’s use it for something more productive.”
Legislator Terry Niebel said he while he supported parts of the measure, there were other items that led to him not signing the motion, “Where it talks about residents age five and older, we’re encouraging those people to be vaccinated – our residents five and older are children. That should be a decision between the children, their parents, and their doctors.”
Legislator Parker commented at the second privilege of the floor, saying the motion was presented for a simple reason, “That the Chautauqua County Legislature endorses and supports our County Health Department’s every day efforts for over two years and continuing to protect Chautauqua County residents from the most deadly and debilitating pandemic in more than a century.”
Parker said Legislators missed an opportunity to endorse the legitimacy of the Health Department’s work in the community, “We missed an opportunity to show support for our medical community bearing the brunt of treating the sick and dying residents. We missed an opportunity to show support for our schools, businesses, and organizations that are all working to stay open and continue serving our community.”
The County Legislature approved a number of resolutions including the approval for the Public Defender’s office to lease 4,147 square feet of space on the third floor of the Jamestown Municipal Building. The five year lease starts at $4,479 this year and increases each year to $5,374 in 2026. Public Defender Ned Barone expressed his thanks to the Legislature for their support.