City Hall Experience

An ongoing tradition for more than 20 years at City Hall continued on Friday.

The Emmanuel Baptist Church youth group made its annual trip to 200 E. Third St. to learn about city government from the officials who have made it their careers. Sue and Keith Blake, youth group leaders, have been bringing children from the community for more than 20 years to visit City Hall. The church is located at 53 23rd St. in Jamestown.

“We are so happy to be here,” Sue Blake said. “We look forward to doing this every year.”

On Friday, 16 children toured several city departments. City personnel who participated in the tours included Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi; Harry Snellings, police chief and public safety director; Matt Hanley, mayor’s executive assistant; Julia Ciesla-Hanley, recreation coordinator; John Williams, parks manager; Vince DeJoy, development director; Jim Olson, city clerk and financial services director; Jeff Lehman, public works director; Marilyn Fiore-Lehman, corporation counsel; Joseph Bellito, city comptroller; Mark Dean, information technology; Shawn Tibbits, fire department; and Dan Reynolds, BPU energy-efficiency coordinator. Blake said later this year the group will also visit the office of state Sen. Catharine Young, R-C-I-Olean.

“It is important for the children to learn about government,” Sue Blake said. “This is our future. One of them could be working here someday.”

The Blakes said the annual visit to City Hall wouldn’t be possible without the cooperation of local schools, which allow the children to be excused from class.

“The school’s support allows for this to happen,” said Keith Blake. “We really appreciate that.”

Teresi said the informative tours give a chance for city officials to teach what they do for a living.

“I think it is a great opportunity for young people to gain a better hand on what happens here at City Hall,” he said.

Teresi said the added benefit for city officials is to learn from children what they think about government.

“It gives us a mutual benefit because it is an opportunity for us to connect with young people. We don’t always get that chance.”

Following the morning activities, the students were all brought back to City Hall, where they were treated to a pizza party.