PR: Helen Ebersole to Appear on Chautauqua Books
Published May 21, 2017

Historian Helen Ebersole is the guest on Chautauqua Books to discuss her book Electricity and Politics Jamestown 1895 to 1931. In this interview, Ebersole takes us back to Chautauqua County from the 1890’s settlers’ communities through the development of electricity which allowed the people of the region to prosper as they built woolen and cotton mills, furniture factories and other businesses including Crescent Tool, Art Metal and Automatic Voting Machines.

In an interview with the author from her home in Lakewood, Ebersole tells the story of the development of inexpensive electricity – power – that Mayors John Emil Johnson (1900 to 1906) and Sam Carlson (1908 to 1934) saw as necessary to a vibrant, healthy Jamestown. The mayors – with support from the area's burgeoning industries - were determined to create a municipal power plant to guarantee affordable, reliable, locally controlled power. For nearly 30 years the private power companies competed with the municipally run electricity plant until the final competitor, Niagara Lockport Ontario Power Company, gave up trying to undersell the low-priced energy provided by the municipal plant in 1931.
The Board of Public Utilities (BPU or Samuel A. Carlson Electric Generating Station) still provides a locally run source of electricity at a rate well below the average at 6 1/2 cents per kWh. Observes Helen Ebersole, “The BPU has emerged, to this writer, as a unique city institution, remaining extraordinarily faithful to the humanitarian foundations of its establishment, and yet performing as an effective unit to the city….”
Helen Ebersole (born 1923) is also the author of Trolleys of Jamestown and Chautauqua Lake, Chautauqua Lake Hotels, An ImPRESSive Record: Jamestown Journal 1826 to 1941 and Off the Pedestal, Robert Jackson in Jamestown, 1909-1934.
Hosted by retired Chicago Tribune photojournalist Karen Harvey, the Chautauqua Books program will air on Access Channel 5 starting May 27 with the last airing on June 2 at 4:00 PM and 10:00 PM each day.
Access Channel 5 is available to cable viewers in the Chautauqua, Mayville, North Harmony, Portland, Sherman, and Westfield areas, and can be found on channel 5 with a cable converter or on 5.3 on digital televisions without a cable converter.

The program may also be viewed after the initial airing at the station's web site

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