Cattaraugus County in Rural Western New York is a beautiful area with the slogan "Naturally Yours". We even call our hills "The Enchanted Mountains"
The bright yellow areas are Seneca Nation Territory, the orange yellow areas are Old Order Amish. The green areas are all of our state park and forest areas.
Unfortunately the residents of Cattaraugus County do not reflect that healthy image.
62% of the population is overweight or obese. 28% use tobacco and 34% are living with at least one disability. These factors combined lead to the fact that the Years of Potential Life Lost for Cattaraugus County is way above the state average, and in some communities it is twice as high as the state average:
We have many challenges as a county, including the fact that poverty is a barrier to all of our work.
So in 2011...
The NY Connects Long Term Council merged forces with County Health DepartmentCounty Health Rankings group to
The Healthy Livable Communities Consortium
Attendance at the Cattaraugus County Healthy
Community Consortium has stayed strong and steady
over the last six years.
In late 2015 the SCALE Equity Team was formed and the Consortium was awarded an National Association of Chronic Disease Director's (NACDD) grant to to assess and implement policies, systems and environmental changes to increase inclusion awareness in Cattaraugus County.
The Equity team consisted of representatives from the Health Department, the Department of Aging and Community Services, the local advocacy group for people living with disabilities; Directions in Independent Living, the local Alcohol and Substance Abuse Agency, an Agency devoted to support for people with developmental disabilities, and group doing supportive housing, local colleges, Veterans Affairs, the local United Way, the local Community Foundation, state government representatives, a local man living with a disability who volunteered for our committee and a local community champion, the head of the Salamanca Youth Bureau who was also acting as subcontractor for the Department of Health for the NACDD grant.
The Equity Team decided to do an ActionLab, an intensive short term effort,
and we decided to do an accessibility awareness campaign. We started
identifying organizations who had made efforts to increase inclusion and
We received over 30 nominations, they included changes to buildings, stores and recreation facilities.
A local food market added fresh fruits, vegetables and healthy beverages and bought a cooler for
the healthy foods, and made sure that the new cooler was the height needed for someone in a
wheelchair to access easily.
The City of Olean got federal monies to redo the main street, taking out stop lights
and adding roundabouts. This greatly improved traffic flow and the walkability of
the downtown Olean business district but created difficulties for
people with physical disabilities, including visual disabilities. The city received a
number of complaints, and immediately took action. They added curb cuts and large
lights and blinker signs to help
anyone trying to cross the street.
We then held a recognition event. We recognized seventeen different individuals and organizations that had made efforts to be more inclusive. They each stood up and shared their story. We had representatives of the NACDD, the CDC, the local media, politicians and other community members. It was a great event and really highlighted all of the efforts to increase inclusion in our community.
We really feel that the efforts made to highlight inclusion and accessibility have increased public awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by people living with a disability. And the overall efforts of our community to improve are having a longer term good impact.
In a ceremony at Rochester’s Strathallan Hotel last Thursday, Olean officials
accepted one of two New York State Chapter of the American Public Works
Association Project of the Year awards for small-city transportation. The $8.85 million
overhaul completed last year, brought five roundabouts and center medians to
North Union Street — along with major water and sewer infrastructure fixes
beneath — in hopes of fostering an economic and cultural resurgence downtown.
Mayor Bill Aiello’s office announced the award Wednesday. “Let’s face it, we took
out six traffic lights and put in five roundabouts and had to deal with our major
businesses and industries being able to ship,” Aiello said, noting the project’s
financial scope and level of difficulty likely bolstered winning the honor. "I think
those were some of the things that were taken into account, how we would
accomplish that and doing the street itself.”
“This project didn’t come without some controversy,” Aiello said. “It spanned two
administrations. It was a leap of faith, and now we’re starting to see some of the
actual results of it and good things happening from it.”