CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY – Chautauqua County’s Executive met with area businesses leaders Friday discussing everything from vaccinations, legalization of marjiana and hope for the future.
Executive PJ Wendel joined President and CEO of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce Todd Tranum in their virtual County Executive Breakfast on Friday.
COVID-19 vaccinations and the goal of reaching herd immunity is among Wendel’s top priorities, and a big piece of the discussion.
Wendel says it is crucial to make sure that people who had received their vaccines outside of the county still send their vaccination records in so that county health leaders can get an accurate count.
“Many residents in Chautauqua County have a primary physician in Pennsylvania,” noted Wendel. “We have created a portal or an email account that those individuals could give us the information of their vaccine. That way we could get them logged into the Excelsior Pass program.”
There was also a question sent in about the legalization of marijuana in Chautauqua County. Wendel responded by noting the risks associated with it.
“There’s issues with operating motor vehicles. If you get a DWI…[the police] can give you a quantitative test. They can test the amount of alcohol in your blood,” said Wendel. “What would the legal limit be of marijuana? They don’t have a quantitative test you can do in the field right now.”
Wendel furthered, “There are dispensaries…and marijuana goes out the front door. Well, how much marijuana is being sold on the black market out the back door? … How do we determine if someone has purchased from a dispensary or not? You know, if you put it into a pill container with a tax stamp on it, great. You could get it anywhere else and put it in that container.”
However, the executive didn’t rule out legalizing marijuana in the future.
“As much as people are saying there is an opportunity for growth, there is. We need to look at those opportunities….We’re not going to overlook those opportunities,” noted Wendel.
Wendel finished the meeting with optimism, looking to rebuild the economy following the pandemic.
“We have weathered the storm of COVID-19. We’re starting to come out and we are moving forward in a very progressive manner,” said Wendel. “What is really happening right now and what we have to get past are the divides that pop up day in and day out here in Chautauqua County.”
Wendel elaborated, “We are the best men and women to sell Chautauqua County. If someone comes into this area and you tell them about all the negative things that are happening, [it’s] not too alluring, but if you go out and show them all the great things Chautauqua County has to offer, all the opportunities, that’s what’s going to sell this community.”
“We are the gateway to the rest of the state and the nation… we want to make sure we open those doors and create enough economic activity and enough reason for people to come here.”