Reed Addresses Issues Facing Chautauqua County

Congressman Tom Reed, representative for New York’s 23rd congressional district, was the guest of honor at the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce’s annual congressional luncheon at Moon Brook Country Club on Friday afternoon.

Todd Tranum, Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce CEO, posed a number of topics for Reed to discuss, and how he plans to address issues facing Chautauqua County.

“It’s all about working as a team and getting it done for the people of the district, the community and the county,” Reed said of his congressional representation and efforts with Assemblyman Andy Goodell and Senator Catharine Young.

Congressional District 23 includes Chautauqua, Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chemung, Ontario, Schuyler, Steuben, Seneca, Tompkins and Tioga counties.

On a local level, Reed said, “Obviously, we cherish our waterways.”

He brought up issues like invasive species and dredging needs in both Chautauqua Lake and Lake Erie and how the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (a bill passed in Congress on Oct. 23 which revolves around water resources and feasibility study requirements) will affect those needs.

The bill passed with 97 percent of votes in the House of Representatives and 87 percent in the Senate.

“Those numbers are unheard of,” Reed said of the votes. “It bodes well for legislation.”

“The needs are known,” Reed said of local waterway problems. “This bill will put them on top of the list.”

Reed also noted that he, Goodell and Young are “trying to find federal money for Chadwick Bay (Regional Development Corporation)” and its proposed north county regional water district.

“I heard loud and clear how important these issues are to Chautauqua County,” Reed said.

Other issues he, Goodell and Young are working on include garnering support for the repowering of Dunkirk’s NRG energy plant and Lake shore Hospital in Irving.

“It’s critical to our community,” Reed said of the repowering, “And kudos to the community for going out and making them (Young and Goodell) aware of how important that is.”

A study performed by NRG said repowering of the coal-fired power plant would “lower wholesale energy prices in the region and around the state, reduce dirty emissions and create jobs.”

However, power purchasing agreements between the plant and companies such as National Grid have caused delay.

Young posted an editorial in the Dunkirk OBSERVER in October saying, “National Grid wants to put our power producers out of business, New Yorkers permanently out of work and make us dependent on imported power from other states all to line its own pockets.”

Reed said the “project is making headway.”

In terms of Lake shore Hospital, Reed again said he, Goodell and Young were working on preventing its closure.

“We were very concerned,” Reed said of Lake shore’s announcement in October to close on Jan. 31, putting 460 jobs on the line. “It’s an access to care issue. The community has been injured.”

Lake shore recently underwent a multi-million dollar update to its emergency room.

“We are concerned those investments will be lost,” Reed said, and that the team of three “are looking for potential investors” to possibly save the hospital.

“We’re going to continue to foster that interest,” he said. “It’s amazing to me how these health care facilities are keeping their doors open. Communities are keeping the doors open, working hand in hand.”

Reed cited cuts in Medicare reimbursement rates as a major cause of hospitals closing.

In June, a federal advisory panel told Congress Medicare reimbursement payments to hospitals could be cut, as many services provided in hospitals could be performed in doctors’ offices for less money.

“We need to protect reimbursement rates, clean up health care, and put Lake shore in a position to keep its doors open,” Reed said.