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Jeffrey B. Kessel Recipient of the 1999 Brooks Patterson Community Leadership Award

(l-r) Patrick McCrea, Chairman of the Cattaraugus County Development and Agriculture Committee, Gerald J. Fitzpatrick, Chairman Cattaraugus County Legislature, Paul R. Bishop, Chairman Cattaraugus County Planning Board and Jeffrey B. Kessel, recipient 1999 Community Leadership Award. Photo Credit: Jack BergerJeffrey (Jeff) B. Kessel served as Mayor of Limestone from March 1989 to March 1999. He was succeeded by Ed Walker, his friend since school days. Jeff was President of the Limestone Area Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Village of Limestone Planning Board and was an active member of the County’s Route 219 Development Committee. He received the Village of Limestone’s Man of the Decade Honor in 1999.

Jeff Kessel was instrumental in getting Limestone’s revitalization started, after that rural community suffered more than three decades of decline. During his administrations, and, he noted, with the help of many others in the community, Limestone rebuilt its aging infrastructure system with over 1.5 million dollars of investment, restored pride in the community, enforced its property maintenance laws to improve Limestone’s aesthetic appearance. Government operations and spending were streamlined and cooperation among local organizations was gained in an effort to improve the quality of life in Limestone.

On the community planning front, Mr. Kessel led a planning effort that resulted in the creation of Limestone’s first Comprehensive Plan. Three years in the making, the plan and a new zoning law enabled the village to obtain grant money to rebuild its 100-year old water system. In addition, Limestone has a definite, forward looking, strategic vision of its future, supported by the community.

This new community vision presents Limestone as the Gateway to New York State from Pennsylvania, and promotes economic improvements and development with the county and state as partners in this effort. Limestone’s tax base has increased an estimated 30% since 1990, and during the same period taxes and water and sewer rates have remained stable.

Jeff Kessel’s approach to community leadership was the belief that improving the quality of life in any community is possible. His attitude assumed that anything is possible if you are willing to work for it. Cattaraugus County and New York State have helped Limestone because it has been willing to help itself. Jeff Kessel was most proud of the fact that Limestone’s success is due to the efforts of the people working together within the community. Jeff Kessel’s favorite theme was, “We all have better potentials. If we believe this, and work hard we can develop this potential into a new and better quality of life”.

Jeff Kessel passed away on September 14, 2001 at the age of 41 after a long battle with cancer.

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