Academy Place in Gowanda is open and is thriving. Thousands of hours and an untold number of folks have turned a vision into a reality. People working and planning together can build a possibility into a certainty. Indeed, the American Dream is alive and well!

The center of gravity in a republic such as ours is the people. All of us recall the words of Thomas Carlyle "Let each become all that he was created capable of being." We cannot say it any better than that and therein is a hope of all Americans.

Paul Krugman, a well known columnist recently stated "The American dream is not totally dead, is dying pretty fast...." From my vantage point, Mr. Krugman does not see reality in the same light as do the folks with whom we are associated. America is alive and well and it is clearly illustrative of the America Dream.

Just for our purposes here, let us take a brief brisk walking tour of small town USA, vicariously of course. We are able to view and see first hand, enterprising creative individuals and work oriented business men and women, entrepreneurs if you wish, at their very best and American Exceptionalism at its finest.

On our walkathon, we catch a glimpse of a family operated well stocked super the way, the store personnel recognize many of their customers by name. A good portion of the store's contents are supplied by hard working farmers and suppliers. As we move on, we see the locally owned hardware store, flower shop, automotive supply center and electronics retailer... each business establishment willing to offer free advice and customer assistance. There is the local pharmacist, who warmly and willingly guides the apprehensive patient- client through the uncertainties of a prescribed medication. Also on our tour, there are dedicated persons within the community such as: the plumber, contractor, auto and small engine repair and collision shops, and furniture and carpet centers; these businesses , as do others businesses , go beyond the call of duty in times of unusual circumstance or community emergency. One can catch a glimpse of the local banks, gift and card shops, toy store, collections from the Amish community, clothing stores, laundry and dry cleaning establishments and other small business and retail operations, each of whom take great pride in being customer friendly and genuinely helpful. And so characteristic of small towns in America are the local friendly restaurants where good food is their speciality and where that is a friendly backdrop of table discourses of problem solving conversations.

As we move on in our walking tour, we see ...essential to the health, well being and vitality of the community... a variety of trained licensed and certified personnel with facilities and offices within the community providing professional and essential services for people of all ages and backgrounds. And our schools, institutions of higher learning and governing officials and personnel are a part of that essentiality. On our walking tour, we pass by the local public park, active with excited and happy children of all ages. The park has broad based community support. There is an abundance of family activity in the park in fair weather and ice skating in the winter. As we walk the main and side streets of the community, we meet friendly local folks, and visiting neighbors from near and far. We are particularly heartened to see and speak with a number of military service personnel home on leave. And we so appreciate our Native American neighbors and the exchanges we enjoy culturally, educationally, and economically.

We see evidence of public and private service personnel on duty even when the rest of the community has "turned in" for the night. During the day time or night time hours, the red flashing lights of the volunteer ambulance may be pressed into service; the local volunteer firefighters' alarm may be activated even to assist a neighboring community, and police officers may be summoned to an unknown and unsettling circumstance.

Continuing on our walking tour, we take note of the local newspaper office; and often the average citizen may not realize that it took newspaper personnel to burn the mid-night oil "post haste" to get a story finished before press time. The delivery of newspapers and the mail goes on regardless of inclement weather. Also, during our tour, we passed a number of places of worship available to those who may freely choose to attend, or to use the volunteer services provided therein.

And speaking of community volunteers and care givers, there are many unsung heroes who silently but stoically work in the background where their only reward is in the joy of giving. We are indebted to many unknown individuals for their sense of serving and generous giving i.e., these humble but truly dedicated men, women and young adults provide a smiling face and a listening ear to those so in need. These volunteers are truly "so very special."

There is the ongoing year around activities associated with the creation of a community center for the arts. What a plus for any community. And then just recently, we saw the bountiful fruits of a community working patiently, energetically, and creatively together resulting in the grand opening of ACADEMY PLACE in Gowanda.

Truly, the American Dream is alive and well in the hearts and minds of folks here in our area, and in the hearts and thoughts of Americans everywhere! That is how I see it FROM THIS PERSPECTIVE.