JAMESTOWN – As the year comes to an end, we are taking a look at the moments that defined 2021 in our neck of the woods.
In January, the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were administered, changing the landscape of the global pandemic.
Chautauqua County Public Health Director Christine Schuyler explained the logistics of the process, saying mass vaccination in a pandemic requires close collaboration between public health, which she says Chautauqua County was able to do.
By March, mass vaccination sites in Jamestown allowed for hundreds of people to get vaccinated.
“I have a husband who is a brittle diabetic, so he is very susceptible to things, he is also getting his shot,” said Keuther. “I also have a 90-year-old mother-in-law and mother, so to be around them and other older people you want to make sure you are not giving it to somebody else.”
Later that month, Jamestown City Councilwoman Victoria James passed away suddenly, leaving behind her long-lasting legacy of dedication.
“She just helped so many of the kids that didn’t have that help at home, or if they weren’t even comfortable going home, they always knew that my mom would be there for them, and did not judge.” explained Qiana James. “She was definitely going to be there and do whatever, even if she didn’t have it, she was going to find it, a way to help that person out.”
In June, the Tarp Skunks retook the field where Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel threw the first pitch.
“It’s nice to have some sort of normalcy back, I’ve been sitting around too long, too much cabin fever,” said Peterson. “I’m ready for some live sports, here we are to see the Tarp Skunks.”
In attendance was Russell E. Diethrick Jr, who the park is named after.
June also hosted Jamestown’s first ever Pride Parade where community members came together to celebrate being able to accept yourself for who you are. Mayor Eddie Sunquist was amongst those vying for change, while long-time advocate Helen Walters spoke about the importance of the event.
“Pride is our defense. The first thing the people that wanna put us back in the closet do is try to shame us,” said Walters. “I am proud of who I am. I am proud of who I present myself to be.”
As the summer continued into July, a Jamestown police officer went viral after bodycam footage showed him heroically saving a family from a house fire.
Officer Mark Conklin described the event, saying he “was in the right place at the right time.”
“Initially, I didn’t even feel the heat, because adrenaline is so high,” explained Conklin, while discussing the rescue of a child jumping from the porch roof of the single-family home. “I knew they couldn’t stay up there long, they had to get off somehow.”
In August, then Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned amid sexual harassment allegations as well as his mishandling of nursing home deaths during the pandemic.
New York State Assemblyman Andy Goodell said this decision was the “right thing to do” to best serve those statewide.
Republican victories were the story of Election Night in the area, especially as Chautauqua County Executive P.J. Wendell was re-elected and in the Jamestown City Council, all three at-large races went to the GOP and four of six ward seats also went red.
The Jamestown Red Raiders took the field at Highmark Stadium in November to claim the Section VI Class A championship against Frontier.
Head coach Langworthy credited the communities’ love of football and the longstanding tradition it has become to the teams success. He says that the team knowing that the community cares drives them even harder.
“At the end of the day, you’re trying to teach young people life lessons through athletics, but you’re also trying to teach them that winning is important, and achievement is important, success is important,” says Langworthy. “But it’s hard. It’s hard to reach your goals, but it’s great to work toward your goals. And when you can reach your goals through hard work, it’s very gratifying.”