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John Sayegh, chief of the Greater Olean Area Chamber of Commerce, has been appointed to the Cattaraugus County Tourism Promotion Agency's board of directors.

The appointment came Thursday afternoon during a board meeting in Ellicottville.

Sayegh, who once held a board seat as director of the Cattaraugus County Department of Economic Development, Planning and Tourism, will fill out the remaining six months in the term of former agency Treasurer Susan Marra. Both Marra and Sayegh live in the agency's Olean-area Region 2.

Marra resigned several months ago, and board member Judith McCandless was chosen as treasurer in September. Sayegh's term will end in May, when the agency chooses new board members in an annual election and meeting.

Board members agreed to advertise within each region to find candidates willing to run for any vacancies prior to the annual meeting. The board also reviewed two funding requests from tourism groups seeking to launch projects.

Tom Fuller of East Otto Country Associates asked for $3,450 to spend on marketing efforts as the organization begins promoting a new demonstration building. He said East Otto Country Associates asked for special-project funding because it missed an earlier county funding deadline.

The new demonstration building will initially house basket-weaving clinics, soapmaking classes and other hands-on activities practiced by East Otto Country members. The organization is also trying to recruit more members among families and local cottage industries producing handmade and homegrown wares. He told the board that most visitors ask for locally made items.

"They go to that spot looking for something they can have a connection to," Fuller said.

Brian McFadden of the Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce asked for $3,000 to help pay for radio and television ads for a Christmas open house "getaway weekend" with no hassles and no crowds. The chamber will host the event Nov. 23 through 25.

Caroling, gift-wrapping and reduced-cost lodging will be offered to shoppers in an effort to draw customers from Toronto, Buffalo and other nearby areas. McFadden said posters have been printed and distributed for the promotion, and half the $7,000 in costs for the event will be paid by a merchants committee.

"It would be a good idea in Ellicottville. People are skeptical to travel far," said Cattaraugus County Legislator and board member Jim Ellis, referring to reports that people are canceling holiday vacations since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Several board members said they could not be certain how much money remains in the special-projects account. It was decided to table action on the two proposals until an accounting could be prepared for the agency's November meeting.

The board will next meet at 3 p.m. Nov. 15 in the Cattaraugus County Center in Little Valley.

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