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Column: Mayor Keith T. Pierce
ODESSA, December 10, 2017 -- Friends and neighbors, we have again come to that wonderful time of year: the holiday season! It truly is the best time of year. Everyone just seems to be happier, more patient and giving and just more thankful in general! I think this time of year is special not only for the festivities that come with it, but also the time it gives all to reflect and be thankful for the lives we all lead. I for one am extremely thankful for living in the small-town village I live in, the one and only Odessa, NY! Of course, there are thousands of villages just like ours around our state, but very few have the potential for greatness and the people and resources we have. This time of year seems to bring out the best in all of us and just brings us all together to achieve one goal, making Odessa one of the best small towns to call home!
I wanted to point out just a few instances where it’s the people that help create the festive spirit in Odessa. To me, it starts during the week of Thanksgiving with our outstanding DPW Department headed up by our own Steve Siptrott and our always dependable assistant Ty. It starts with a trip to Bath, NY to the home of Joe Baron. Joe owns a large chunk of land which at one time was a Christmas tree farm. All the trees have since grown to be too big to sell as family trees. Mr. Baron has for the last seven years graciously donated one of his trees to our village for our Village Christmas tree. Our crew goes to Bath, chooses the perfect tree, cuts it down, loads it up and brings her home to Odessa. With a little help from Cookie's Construction to stand the tree up, the decoration begins. It takes our crew about 2-3 days to get all the work done. It’s not easy, and it’s always cold, but Steve and Ty always get it done in time for the big lighting ceremony. This year we are especially grateful to the young students of our Odessa-Montour schools for all their hard work making handmade ornaments to adorn our tree.
Thanksgiving week ends with our annual tree lighting ceremony at the Village offices. I am so excited to say that this year provided our best turnout so far. We had 50 brave souls who stood in rather unruly weather conditions to celebrate the lighting of the official Odessa Christmas tree. We even had one family from Dryden make the trip to see the festivities. Several cars full of people even lined Main Street to catch a glimpse! This event is beginning to grow into what the Village Board has always envisioned it to be, and if you have never made the trip out, I encourage you all to attend next year. And thanks so much to all the wonderful people who came out and to all those who help make this event better every year!
Another growing event this holiday season was the second annual Shop Local Saturday. What an amazing day this event created for Odessa! It grew in one year from just a few vendors last year to filling our Village Community Room and adjacent fire department bays to overflowing with various vendors. Hundreds of people visited our village to shop local, and nearly all of our local businesses took part in some way. The Bucket Bar and Grill even jumped in with a visit from Santa himself and cookie decorating for all the children. I want to thank all our local shops for seeing the importance in this event. There were several people who helped make this event a huge success, but the one person that started this annual tradition and has truly worked harder than anyone was Ms. Alyssa Wixson from our own Odessa Wine and Spirits. Without her vision and hard work, this event would not have been the success it was. Thank you so much, Alyssa, for seeing the importance of this event and for all the hard work you put into it!
The final big event of our first week of the holiday season is the arrival of our Santa Mail box. This has also come to be a huge tradition in Odessa. This year we have received letters from not only the children of Odessa but also from Towns and Villages all around our area. As of the writing of this column, we have received in excess of 100 letters! This will create a daunting task for Santa to get them all answered in time, but he assures me that every letter will receive a hand-written response!
Odessa will wrap up the Christmas season with a few “special” deliveries courtesy of our own Odessa Fire Department. On Christmas Eve every year, The Odessa Fire Department partners with Seneca Santa to deliver gifts to several families in our area. I happen to know that firemen never like attention or accolades for the things they do, but I just wanted to let you all know that this goes on behind the scenes every year without fanfare, as it should, and if you see any of our humble volunteers in your travels, give them a thank you. They will blush and says it’s no big deal, but it is -- and I for one thank you all very much for what you do for our community.
I wanted this column to be about our holiday season and express how lucky I feel to be a part of this village, but I would be remiss if I didn’t at least catch you all up on the other important happenings in Odessa. First and foremost, our village sewer system is moving ahead because of the diligence and hard work your Village Board has done over the last long six years. As many of you know, the Village of Odessa has been awarded nearly $700,000 from the State of New York for our proposed project. This can happen, folks, and we will continue to work towards the goal of having a system in place for our business district. We have already heard from several of our local businesses that this will be a game-changer for them and their businesses. One other area we have been working towards is the installation of natural gas in our village. It also appears to us that this is going to occur. This will also be a game-changing event in Odessa. Some projections state that this could cut costs at our school in half. Stay tuned and we will let you know as soon as we do what’s next. Your village Board is also working on funds available through grants to revitalize our railroad overpass and our village park. There are funds available to us if we can prove that supplies and goods produced in Odessa were actually transported via the Erie Canal. Village resident Gerry Messmer has volunteered to spearhead this effort and is doing a great job digging through decades of written material, and I believe is close to finding what we need to qualify for the funding.
In closing, I want to reiterate how blessed we all are to live where we live. This is never as evident as it is this time of year. Just drive down our Main Street at night, see the Christmas lights, see the effort many put in to make our town stand out. We are only limited by the amount of effort each and every one of us chooses to invest in the village we live in. Some can do a lot, some can only do a little, but we can all do something. Be proud of where you call home, and let's all make it a special place to live and raise our children.
Thank you all so much for your continued support of me and your Village Board. And from all of us to all of you, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a joyous New Year!
Keith T. Pierce
Mayor of Odessa