By JOHN ANDERSON
When Southern Tier Congressman Nick Langworthy (R-NY23) said he would meet with the Wellsville Sun for a few minutes Wednesday at the Texas Hot, it appeared to be a quick stop as part of a swing through the district.
Instead, Langworthy’s Washington D.C. staff filled one large booth in the back of the iconic restaurant as Langworthy met with town, hospital and village officials as well as a few short visits with local business leaders.
The biggest surprise though, was to one of the Texas Hot owners, Mike Raptis, when he found out Anna Gillette (maiden name), a waitress from Bolivar when she was in high school, is Langworthy’s grandmother. She died in 1999, but the Congressman said she talked fondly of her days at the Main Street restaurant in Wellsville which opened in 1921.
Langworthy and staff went over to the Northern Lights Candles factory at 3:30 p.m., now owned by Zippo, after the Texas Hot visit.
“I want to see Northern Lights Candles and see it in person,” Langworthy said. “I didn’t realize how big of an operation it is.”
Between laughs from popular waitress Cheryl Middaugh, Langworthy got down to business with Wellsville Town Supervisor Shad Alsworth, Amy Bennett, Northern Lights Candle Chief Operating Officer, Wellsville Mayor Randy Shayler, Village trustee Jeff Monroe and UR Medicine/Jones Memorial Hospital CEO Jim Helms.
Development in the village and town of Wellsville was a priority. The group also discussed local jobs and some of the struggles local businesses are facing.
“Mayor Shayler and Supervisor Alsworth would like to see more development and we need to help,” Langworthy said. “Mayor Shayler said he is looking to develop more properties and (our staff) is going to assist to find some grant applications for community revitalization. If we can find federal funds to help in those efforts, we will try.”
Langworthy also received an update on the hospital and the major capital improvement project which has the first of a few ribbon cutting ceremonies coming up.
“I toured the hospital over the summer, it’s an impressive project,” Langworthy said. “As CEO, Jim Helms is very proud of it and he should be. Our staff will be at the ribbon cutting and grand opening. We are very proud to help the hospital anyway we can. It’s critical infrastructure and I’m glad they are modernizing it and getting it up where it can be.”
Shayler said the meeting was a success.
“He has been very helpful to the village, but also the county and the Southern Tier,” Shayler said.
Having such a large number of staff on this tour of the area is important, as residents call and email the offices, including Washington. The staff in Washington can now say they were on Route 19 or State Route 417 and they did eat at the Texas Hot. From Legislative Director Will Smith to local congressional liaison Lee James, there were five others with Langworthy.
“During a recess, I like to meet with everyone in the seven counties and keep good lines of communication open,” Langworthy added.
Langworthy paused a few times to sit in other booths to meet with business owners while at Texas Hot. He also talked to Nick Raptis, Demetrios Raptis and James Rigas, sons of Mike Raptis and Chris Rigas who were working.