In November, Olean Common County president John Crawford created a GoFundMe page to raise funds for the restoration of damaged “Welcome to Olean” signs.
Crawford says he and Paul Petruzzi spearheaded the grassroots effort when the signs were damaged — and the community came through.
“The money that you donated will ensure that these signs get the needed repair job this spring and we will work towards making them more visible and illuminated at night,” Crawford says.
He presented Meme Yanetsko, COO of the Greater Olean Area Chamber of Commerce, with a check for $4,085.57 (after fees) on behalf of the community. The money in turn was deposited into the Beautification Fund with the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation.
“Just last spring, crews from Four Mile Brewing and Intandem had placed new lettering on three of the four signs,” Yanetsko says. “We were devastated with the destruction of the letters on the signs.”
Jarrad Childs of Four Mile Brewing was able to gather enough lettering for the signs. The group will meet in April to consider the best way to secure lettering from vandalism and to brainstorm the two other signs, Yanetsko says.
Work must be done to make the sign on Route 16 near the Olean Times Herald more visible due to brush growth along the highway. The group will also seek out locations for a new sign at the south entrance to the city, coming north on Route 16 in the Seneca Heights area.
“We will come back to the community in late April with our plans as well as costs of the additional sign creation and fixtures that will be needed,” Crawford said. “We will do another fundraising effort through CRCF seeking donations.”
The signs were erected in the early 1990s as part of a collaborative effort between the Chamber, what is now Intandem, and various local civic groups. They were repainted about a decade ago, but had been allowed to deteriorate due to lack of interest.
In July 2019, a push to fix up the signs began. Volunteers from Four Mile and Intandem had completed the one near Applebees on West State Road, one on Buffalo Road and one near the former tile plant on East State Street.
The one near OTH needed the most work and lettering hadn’t been placed yet as masonry, tree removal and other duties were needed first.