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Divisions in reopening, divisive among counties

Posted at 12:48 AM, May 12, 2020

GASPORT, N.Y. (WKBW) — New York State classifies Erie, Niagara, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties as Western New York. Right now, this region only meets five of the seven criteria to being phase one of reopening. The region falls short in hospitalization rates and deaths.

At least one State Senator disagrees with how this region-by-region re-opening process is taking place. Senator George Borrello serves Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties. He believes rural counties are penalized for being affiliated with urban areas, like Buffalo.

He wrote: "Every passing day that we remain closed, the economic pain of our communities intensifies and the harder the climb back up will be, for both our residents and our businesses.”

Becker Farms is located in Gasport, Niagara County, less than ten miles from the Orleans County border. Right now, more importantly, it’s near the border between the Western New York Region and the Finger Lakes Region. One, Orleans County, is ready to begin the re-opening process. The other, Niagara County, is not.

For Becker Farms, half of their business is running normally.

“For the farming portion of our business, everything is the same as it would be,” said Mindy Vizcarra, the owner of Becker Farms and Vizcarra Vineyards.

Becker Farms is also a popular place for weddings, an industry impacted by the virus and subsequent restrictions.

“It's a little frustrating,” said Vizacarra about being so close to a region that is set to re-open. “But at the same time, we want to follow the science. We would rather be closed now for a little bit longer than to open up and then have a resurgence. And then have to close later in the summer, or heaven forbid in the fall again.”

Most of Becker Farms weddings are scheduled in late summer or fall. Earlier weddings have been rescheduled for later this year or next year. The owner of Becker Farms says she believes they can re-open to the public in phase 3. So, with some limitations, and if everything goes will in the Western New York region, she’s hoping for a mid-jJne or early July re-open.

The vineyard is open for pick up. There are also hiking trails around the vineyard that are open to the public.