MAYVILLE – Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello called for more unity, cooperation, and a heightened sense of collective self-confidence during his first State of the County address on Wednesday.
“The missing piece of the puzzle is self-confidence,” said Borrello. “We can not expect others to believe in us, if we do not believe in ourselves.”
Four months into his first-term, Borrello completed an ambitious 100 business tour ahead of schedule while visiting Growers’ Cooperative Grape Juice in Westfield.
“The political rhetoric on the state of business in Chatauqua County is not the reality that I found,” said Borrello. “Overall, business is good and we have jobs.”
Borrello said most of the jobs are full-time, year-round jobs “that pay above the average wage for our county.”
He said there are currently 767 open positions in the county in fields like welding, CDL drivers, marketing and design, and management.
Borrello’s usually confident and assertive demeanor changed dramatically as he addressed the drug epidemic.
“We must address the drug epidemic,” he said, as he scanned the audience.
Borrello said that the epidemic has taken its toll on communities across the county, and he urged people to look at the problem from different angles.
“We should address it as an economic development issue, as well as a community health issue,” Borrello said. “Drug addiction has a negative impact on our workforce and our quality of life.”
“People that are addicted to drugs are not productive members of our society,” he added. “The crime and poverty associated with drugs is a strain on our resources.”
The County Executive announced a powerful coalition of community leaders helping to fight the drug problem.
“We have created the County-Wide Alliance for Enforcement and Rehabilitation, the (CAER) initiative,” Borrello said.
Borrello credited former narcotics officer Tom Tarpley with organizing the effort.
Multimedia Journalist Justin Gould and Editor Matt Hummel contributed to this report.