New leadership

The second floor trustees’ room in the Fredonia Village Hall was packed with standing room only Monday night with residents and farmers waiting to hear the village board’s decision on who would run the Fredonia Farmers’ Market this year.

On Dec. 17, representatives from two candidates each presented a case explaining why its organization would be best suited to run the local market.

Greg Krauza represented the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce, and Christine Burdick and Mary Jane Starks presented a case for Festivals Fredonia to lead the market after the resignation of Barbara Sam, who had been the organizer and primary contact person for the market previously. Following the two presentations, Margaret Bruegel of Roo Haven Farm said she was selected to represent the vendors at the meeting. She explained a petition to select Festivals Fredonia as the managing entity was supported by “the majority of the farmers.” The village board stated it does not wish to run the market.

During the workshop portion of the meeting before the vote Monday night, Trustee Janel Subjack read from a letter from Krauza explaining he could not attend the meeting due to a meeting with Dunkirk regarding its market. In the letter, he explained the Chamber had three interns and one part-time staffer in addition to himself and the group had been identifying grants and other resources to benefit the market and would “commit significant” effort to the market.

After the letter was read, Village Administrator Rick St. George read a letter from village resident and market shopper Judy Lutz-Woods. The letter stated she supported Festivals Fredonia as the organization to lead the market.

“I don’t see why there is any question as to who should run the market when the farmers have made their choice clear,” she wrote in the letter.

She added she encountered problems when she attempted to purchase $100 in gift certificates from the Chamber before Christmas, although it was unclear if she made contact with the Fredonia Chamber of Commerce or the county organization. She said she asked for information on how to purchase the gift certificates and was not contacted by anyone from the organization. She later read gift certificates would only be available in Jamestown and questioned the organization’s commitment to area businesses.

After the workshop discussion, Mayor Stephen Keefe asked the trustees for a silent thumbs up or down affirmation so the resolution could be written for the regular meeting at 7:30 p.m. Trustees Adam Brown, Thomas Brown II and Marc Ruckman signaled in favor of Festivals Fredonia, while trustees Joseph Cerrie and Subjack were in favor of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce.

The resolution in the regular meeting stated the organization must file with the Department of Agriculture “as soon as practicable” and file the proper applications to accept Women, Infants and Children and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, comply with all regulations and provide a certificate of insurance for at least $1 million naming the village as additional insured.

While the room was packed and included members of Festivals Fredonia and vendors, there were no comments during the public portion of the regular meeting.

The resolution was written giving Festivals Fredonia leadership over the market, and was approved 3-2 with Subjack and Cerrie casting the nay votes.

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