Happy New Year to our loyal readers!!!!
By Andrew Harris
Marking the start of a new calendar is for most of us, turning a page and considering what the next chapter will bring. After two years of uncertainty, and for many trauma, we all woke up today and said, “I hope this year is better than the last.”
Let’s channel that moment of universal hope and resolve to make 2022 a better year, regardless of what the world throws at us. The Wellsville Sun has some resolutions to share with our loyal readers, to give you an idea of what to expect from this site in 2022:
- The “Sun” promises to become even more involved in local government, and politics. Our involvement is our responsibility, and the civic duty of any media operation. Since the beginning of our nation, the media has been referred to as “The Fourth Estate”, or the fourth pillar of democracy. The first branch being the executive, the second is the legislature, and third being the judiciary. As traditional media sources have disengaged with local governments, this site will work to engage village, town, and county governments on an increasing level. From our experiences in 2021, we are proud of the sunlight we’ve provided and the impact we have had. In 2022 we plan to be even more involved, with a focus on demanding adherence to open government laws. We hope that local elected officials will partner with this site to increase transparency and strengthen our democratic institutions.
- Plans are already underway to provide our readers with more sports!! High schools athletes deserve community recognition and the community craves more access to local sporting events. Some of the work John Anderson has done in late 2021 has put student athletes in the spot light in some innovative ways. Video highlights, player interviews, reports from the coaching staff, and social media interactions are a taste of what is to come. Expect collaborations with accomplished photographers, capturing moments in time that can’t be reproduced.
- Have you noticed how hard it has become to advertise on major online marketplaces? Early in 2022 we will be launching a Wellsville Sun marketplace to help sell your used car, affordably advertise for a job, sell your own home, and even provide a space for birth announcements and yard sales. Modeled after the now mostly extinct “Classified Section,” this marketplace will allow color photos and a direct contact link. We hope it will be a great alternative to traditional advertising and cluttered social media marketplaces.
- New site features that allow readers to interact, participate, and engage. Weekly surveys on important subjects will help drive public policy and debate, giving all readers a “vote” on issues that matter. We will be encouraging more reader photos, writings, and direct involvement with the daily news. It is important to remember that you are the news, and this site is a community tool for citizens to report both news and opinion. We encourage the resurrection of the lost art of the op-ed and believe that the individuals opinion or ideas actually shapes the news. If anyone can testify to this, I can after writing opinions for various local print publications since 2001. Those writings developed over time and directly led to the establishment of this site. Your opinions matter and we hope you will use the Wellsville Sun as your platform in 2022. More comfortable with video ? Use our Youtube channel to reach your audience!!
- More John Anderson!! The former editor of the Wellsville Daily Reporter is back and changing the entire local media landscape. The Wellsville Sun is excited to continue working with John and improving our site with great content. His experience as an award winning journalist spans decades and his time since the hayday of the WDR has only increased his skillset and national network. John is a gifted writer, an expert sports reporter, a brave political journalist, and an all around entertaining personality. Perhaps our most important resolution is to make John Anderson an increasingly essential part of the Wellsville Sun.
As we’ve all come to realize during the pandemic, uncertainty is now the new normal. Despite that reality, I have a few predictions for 2022, forecasts to keep on your radar this year:
Allegany County Economic Boom Continues
Just in case you didn’t notice, the economy in our county is more stable and growing faster than anytime in my adult life. Since the pandemic, the economy has actually improved at an accelerated rate. Our housing market took giant leaps toward parity with other market valuations. Ten years ago most real estate in this county sold at 10% of more below assessed value(the value which property taxes are based on,) some at much less. During 2021, homes and rental properties sold at record rates and sometimes at 20% above assessed value. The value of all property in Allegany County jumped substantially and the housing inventory is depleted, creating a housing crisis of sorts. Landlords have waiting lists, not vacancies, and shortages of both affordable housing and higher end homes are acute. All of this data validates my prediction that we are about to see a jump in new construction.
The commercial sector of the economy looks just as promising, perhaps more so. The Allegany County Economic Development team has big plans in the works and a historic $7.5 million dollar investment underway. With that investment, county leadership expects to create the shovel-ready sites which major developers demand. Since the “Great Lakes Cheese Incident,” of 2021, our development officials have clearly shifted to a, “build it and they will come,” approach. Early indications are that this will bear some serious fruit beginning in 2022. The prediction is that we will be reporting some very good news this year with the potential for a national hotel chain like Holiday Inn Express at the I-86 interchange.
Pandemic to Endemic
Even as Covid-19 takes its largest toll on Allegany County as I write this, an end is near. That ending won’t necessarily mean an improvement in the cycles of viral surge, hospitalizations, and deaths. The ending I’m predicting is the normalizing of this coronavirus, similar to how we approach influenza. Just like the flu, which became endemic after the last pandemic of 1918, this virus will continue to be part of daily life, however much more deadly. The scope of the danger posed by this virus will be dependent on immunity levels in a community. That ‘herd-immunity’ will have the most impact our economy, schools, and families. We will continue to have two tools to combat serious illness, death, and disruption of daily life: Wearing a facemask in crowded settings and getting vaccinated. As a sad prediction, Allegany County will continue to bear a heavy burden due to our low vaccination rate and those who are most vulnerable will continue to die unnecessarily. Please talk to your doctor about this vaccine, do not rely on online sources, Youtube, or media personalities.
Rocky roads in the Town of Wellsville will continue
As the home base of the Wellsville Sun, we have a natural interest and duty to focus on the town government. 2021 was by nearly all measures, a hard road to hoe for the town. Open and public hostility between elected officials lead to resignations and disfunction. A lack of cooperation and communication between the town and village of Wellsville government has created a stalemate with the fire protection contract which is almost sure to result in legal action. It is within the realm of possibility that the Town could lose fire protection services from the Wellsville Fire Department. Ethics issues have emerged and appear far from being resolved. An NYS Attorney General investigation could be emerging this year, bringing new issues to light.
Phil Stockin will be a great new Allegany County Chairman
The Curt Crandall era has officially ended and our new county leader will be sworn in to office on Monday January 3rd. Phil Stockin is the man that our county leaders have chosen to begin the new era and based on my personal interactions with Stockin, it was a wise choice. Phil has enjoyed a long career in education, decades in local government, and has universal respect from his colleagues. He is a team player, a man of strong morals, and a serious wonk. As we discussed some of the political dynamics of Allegany County during a summer interview, Stockin said something to me that stuck, “You know, I really enjoy government, but I strongly dislike politics.”
Expect Phil to lead the county with a steady hand, by using consensus born from mutual respect, and to make some, “foundational,” changes to our county government. Stay tuned for our upcoming interview with the new Chairman this month about his vision for Allegany County.