Press Pass: The sunny side of Jamestown

Aug 4, 2014

On the same day a major heroin bust was announced in Chautauqua County, WBFO's Press Pass visited with two members of the Jamestown Gazette. The news didn't diminish their enthusiastic message.

Credit WBFO File Photo

"We had 17 or 18 furniture plants 30 years ago and 45,000 people. Now, it's down to 30,000 people and no furniture plants," said Walt Pickut, editor of the Jamestown Gazette.

"But one of the things people are discovering here is...their neighbors. Neighborhoods here are taking on a very, very warm characteristic. It's the kind of thing you find in small town America when things are going well. This is a very resilient community, they're bouncing back," Pickut said.

Clearly Pickut believes the people of Jamestown are not constrained by the economic realities of a small city that has been abandoned by industry.

For a can-do attitude, he might only look across the table at his boss, Stacey Hannon, publisher of the Jamestown Gazette. She has been involved in marketing in Jamestown most of her working life. As she approached mid-life, despite a struggling economy, she followed the path often sought, but so rarely followed---she started her own business---the Jamestown Gazette.

"We started working with our local college (Jamestown Community College). They have a small business development center. I went there with the idea and thankfully they did the research and came back and said there really was room for another newspaper in Jamestown," Hannon recounted of her four years as a business owner.

"We all worked out of our homes (initially). We did not have this beautiful office at the time. And now we have nine employees."

The Jamestown Gazette covers three counties with a weekly distribution of 5,000. It's focus is clear, less about reporting and more about promoting. Pressing issues exist, but the optimist is not deterred.

The Jamestown Gazette features Walt Pickut, editor, and Stacey Hannon, publisher.
Credit WBFO File Photo

Jamestown possesses an ancient housing stock. Walt Pickut believes it might be among the oldest in the nation. That has made Victorian homes available for attractive prices; it also means some houses have fallen into disrepair. In a policy familiar to those in Buffalo, some demolitions have rid neighborhoods of the blight. In some cases, the vacant lots are finding new life.  

"The community gardens are being developed more and more," Pickut said. "People are taking courses on how to raise organic vegetables. Farmers markets are being stocked by people who are growing things in neighborhoods that you never would have thought."

Here's a link to the Jamestown Gazette: http://jamestowngazette.com/