Chagnon Eyes Lake Improvement In First Term

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the 13th in a series of articles highlighting major issues facing each of the 19 Chautauqua County districts and the legislators who will preside over them.

In his first term with the Chautauqua County Legislature, Pierre Chagnon’s top priority is improving Chautauqua Lake.

District 8 comprises roughly half of its lakeshore, and Chagnon said he’ll be working hard to support the various organizations involved with its maintenance.

“I believe there is great opportunity to complete the sewering of the lake,” Chagnon said of the wastewater system, which is composed of the North Chautauqua Lake Sewer District, Chautauqua Utility District and the South and Center Chautauqua Lake Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Properties not connected to the system have aging septic tanks, and sewering the entire lake would help prevent phosphorus from entering the lake.

“I was the chairman of the board of South and Center when we built the sewer around the lake,” Chagnon said. “I was deeply involved in that project so I have a lot of interests and experience.”

In other matters, he is also interested in economic development and wants to contribute to the county’s efforts to bring businesses to the area.

“I’m hoping to draw on experience in private sector,” said the new legislator who led three development projects for SKF Aeroengine during his 31-year career.

Chagnon said he gained experience in finance, business analysis, marketing and human resources at SKF.

He wants to build on past efforts to make county government lean and efficient, and reduce taxes, while assuring services provided are as effective as possible, he said.

Of the Chautauqua County Home, Chagnon said he’s been doing his homework for the last six months.

“I believe government should not compete with legitimate private enterprise,” he said, adding he has toured the County Home, spoken at length with Administrator Tim Hellwig and reviewed financial data in detail. “I will support a fair offer to purchase the home after I have given it a thorough review.”

Chagnon also said he has met with several department heads within the county.

“I was impressed with the quality of individuals, the passion with which they approach their jobs, and the commitment they give to their departments,” he said. “There is hardly one of them I would hesitate to hire in the private sector.”

Overall, Chagnon said his experience with town government, Bemus Point’s board of education and the South and Center sewer district encouraged him to run as legislator for District 8.

“I also believe it’s the responsibility of citizens to give back to their communities,” he said. “I was very pleased with the work Greg Edwards (former county executive) did and I am excited about the prospect of working with Vince Horrigan (county executive).”

In the next two years, Chagnon wants to work collaboratively with the entire legislature.

“I believe county government should be as bipartisan as humanly possible,” Chagnon said. “I believe we’re all elected to represent the interests of the citizens of Chautauqua County. Working together collaboratively and collegially is important for serving the mission we’ve been elected to serve.”