By Rick Miller

Cattaraugus County and the rest of the 57th State Senate District are going to miss Sen. Catharine M. Young when she leaves the Senate March 10.

Young announced Thursday, Feb. 28 she was resigning to become director of the AgriTech Center of Excellence for Cornell University.

Not only was Young, a 14-year Senate veteran and former assemblywoman, the region’s biggest promoter, but she could also be counted on to bring home the bacon — meaning state grants, officials said.

Dennis Eshbaugh, the president and general manager at Holiday Valley Resort in Ellicottville, called Young “probably one of my all-time favorite public officials.”

Eshbaugh worked closely with Young while he was president of the Route 219 Association. Young has been a tireless supporter of extending the expressway through Cattaraugus County throughout her public career.

“I admired her work ethic and her ability to digest and understand complex problems,” Eshbaugh said, adding she understood the need for economic development and issues that affected communities. “She recognized the importance of infrastructure for rural communities.”

Young, Eshbaugh said, “was respectful of opinions from both sides of the aisle. She was a very special representative. We have been well served by her 20 plus years of public service.”

Eshbaugh added: “She’s been the best. I consider her a good friend and a great representative.”

“Cathy has always been a very strong advocate for Cattaraugus County,” said County Administrator Jack Searles on Friday.

“There have been multiple state grants received by the county Public Works Department for different projects and the Youth Bureau has received many grants,” Searles said. “The Department of the Aging has also received grants for Senior Nutrition Program equipment.”

Young, along with Assemblyman Joseph Giglio, R-Gowanda, “has been a strong advocate for the county in terms of legislation for sales and mortgage taxes,” the county administrator said. “They would get expedited in the State Legislature.” 

Searles said, “If you had a concern, you could go to Cathy. If you had an idea she would work with you on those items.”

Cathy Mackay, director of the Department of the Aging, said, “(Young) helped my department a lot, and the Veterans Office, too. She certainly will be missed. Her assistance was not tied to any political agenda.

“And she truly cared for senior citizens in the county,” Mackay said. “She really helped with the new senior wellness and nutrition site in Cattaraugus. Hopefully, whoever succeeds her will continue to look after the needs of seniors.”

Salamanca mayor Michael “Smitty” Smith said, “The world is a better place because Cathy Young has been our senator. She took care of Salamanca. She was one of the few at the state level who cared. She’s been a huge asset for the Southern Tier. We will miss her.”

Another Cattaraugus County mayor, Bill Aiello, of Olean, said Young has been a true champion of her district. 

“I don’t know how she does it,” the mayor said. “She makes it to almost every event in the district. … We are very appreciative of what she’s done for Olean. She got money for the stadium, the recreation center and the farmers market. She’s very attentive. She is truly going to be missed.”