The Fredonia Olympic Celebration Committee held its first meeting after Jenn Suhr’s locally historic pole vault jump near Barker Common.

“We’re not sure what the turnout was, because everyone came up with different estimates,” committee organizer Julie Essek explained, and added it was probably between 1,200 and 2,000 spectators.

Several committee members said they were asked why the committee didn’t hold a parade. “We couldn’t have put on a parade as good as that,” Essek said, referring to the jump. The poor weather through most of the day – except during jump time – would also have been problematic.

Discussions continued regarding ways to commemorate Suhr’s Olympic gold victory. Currently, a stone monument is on order, which is slightly larger than the monument in Barker Common commemorating Suhr’s silver medal victory. Essek said there is room on the new monument to add more information if another victory occurs during the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

A gold-colored ball to be placed atop the silver ball on the existing pole in Barker Common is also in the works. “We have a guy who works with metal … to do it for us. We’ll have the telephone company bucket truck to take it down and he’ll put it back up,” Essek explained.

At a prior meeting, the group discussed historical markers and potential placement on the Fredonia Central School property. “I know they (the board of education) discussed it, but I haven’t heard back from them,” Essek said. She explained the current track at the school was not in good condition, and its renovation could cost around $900,000 and take many years, so naming the track after Suhr wasn’t a short-term option. She expressed continued interest in having a road near an athletic field named after Suhr and said, “I really like the sound of ‘Jenn Suhr Way’ myself.”

Other discussion occurred regarding informational signs on roads entering the village announcing Fredonia as her home town. Essek noted a conversation with Fredonia Mayor Stephen Keefe in which he told her the state Department of Transportation must be involved to approve such a sign, and he had initiated those steps.

While enough yard signs have been sold to cover the initial investment, Essek said the group still possesses around 300 signs. Various methods of sales and distribution were discussed and debated, and the group plans to approach the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce about partnering for an upcoming event to help disburse the signs.

The funds invested to generate scholarship money were also discussed. An initial investment of $10,000 was raised by T-shirt and sign sales in hopes the annual dividends would pay for the scholarship. The Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation (NCCF) manages the fund for the scholarship, which is awarded to students in Dunkirk and Fredonia in alternating years. The fund has not generated the anticipated $500 revenue for the scholarship, particularly after NCCF’s fund management fee of roughly $130 is deducted. Several ideas were debated, including reducing the scholarship amount or finding ways to increase the fund balance through additional fund raising by corporate sponsorship. It was decided the latter will be pursued by the group going forward.

by: Shirley Pulawski


Jenn Suhr
Jenn Suhr

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