News Update! for Dec. 31, 2015

JPD now looking for "Serial Arsonist" who alleged set five fires... including the two this past Wednesday...

The two fires early Wednesday morning that destroyed two vacant houses on Jamestown's northside appear to be the work of a "serial arsonist."  That from City Police Captain Bob Samuelson... who says the fires at 1052 North Main Street... and, 866-1/2 Spring Street... seem to fit into a pattern similar to one this past Christmas Eve day that damaged another structure at 1054-1/2 North Main.  Samuelson says all these fires date back to at least October of 2014.  He says they believe that one person is responsible, based on the information they have.  Samuelson adds they do have a "person of interest" in the case.  He says the October 2014 arsons took place at 230 McKinley Avenue on Oct. 23... then a second two-days later at 206 McKinley.  There was also an alleged arson fire at 420 Falconer St. back on May 18th of 2014.  Samuelson says all of the buildings involved were vacant... and, most had been condemned.  The structure at 866-1/2 Spring had already been condemned... and, was torn down immediately.  No injuries were reported in any of the fires.  However... Samuelson says they are no less dangerous to neaby structures... and, to the firefighters involved.  If you have any information on the case...call  the JPD Tip-line at 483-TIPS... that's 483-8477.


Lake Effect Snow forecast for New Year's Eve through Saturday...

New Year's Eve revelers will have to deal with lake effect snow during their travels tonight... and, the snow will stick around for at least a couple of days.  The National Weather Service is continuing a Lake Effect Snow Advisory now through 12 Noon Saturday.  Meteorologist John Hitchcock says the snow should really start falling by this evening.  Hitchcock says we'll see 1 to 2 inches by evening, and another 3 through 4 inches through early Friday morning.


State's Minimum Wage going up today...

Thousands of workers across New York state are seeing higher wages beginning Thursday.  The state's base minimum wage will rise from $8.75 an hour to $9.  Fast-food workers will see their minimum wage rise to $10.50 an hour in New York City... and, $9.75 elsewhere in the rest of the state.  The base hourly rate for restaurant servers and other tipped workers will increase to $7.50.  New York is one of 16 states increasing minimum wages on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day.

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WJTN News Headlines

Chautauqua Institution will build a new Amphitheater. The Board of Trustees met Wednesday and approved final plans and hired a firm to manage the project.  Chautauqua President Tom Becker was thrilled. LP Ciminelli of Buffalo will be the construction manager for the 41.5 million dollar project.  The Institution's Chief Marketing Officer, George Murphy, says some preliminary work will be done before the next season starts, but most of the construction will occur between September 2016 and June 2017. The Board of Trustees put a hold on the project in November, when the bids came in high.  Murphy says in the meantime, they 'tightened up the bids', and made some minor changes. Tom Becker says some of the controversy concerning preserving the old Amp is 'understandable and credible'.  But, he adds, what's really being preserved is Chautauqua's ability to do its work for the next hundred years. 

 

Flames have destroyed two vacant homes in downtown Jamestown... and, the cause of both fires remain under investigation.  City Fire Battalion Chief Chet Harvey says the first call came in a few minutes before 4 AM yesterday at 1052 North Main Street.  Harvey says crews found fire in the back of the structure... but, adds it took some time to bring the blaze under control. While crews were at 1052 North Main... another call came in about 5:30 AM for a fire at a vacant house at 866 1/2 Spring Street.  Harvey says that structure was also fully-engulfed in flames on arrival.  He says the city's Department of Development had condemned the building some time ago.  Harvey says the roof began collapsing at the Spring location shortly after crews began battling that fire... and, they were just getting the fire out when the DOD ordered a full demolition of the building.  No one was in either building when crews arrived.  One off-duty shift was called in to assist at each location.

 

Mothers Against Drunk Driving's Red Ribbon Campaign is back on the New York State Thruway.  In collaboration with MADD's long-running public awareness project... State Police Troop T kicked off its 29th annual campaign on Tuesday.  Toll collectors are handing out red ribbons at select toll facilities along the Thruway.  The foot-long ribbons were chosen by MADD in 1986 and are meant to be displayed on motorists' vehicles to raise public awareness regarding the dangers of impaired driving.  They also encourage all motorists to take the pledge of driving safe, sober and buckled up at all times.  MADD's reminder to ``Drive Safely, Stay Sober'' also will be posted on variable message signs throughout the state, and service area shops will provide complimentary coffee on New Year's Eve.


There are a few changes that'll be made in the leadership of the Chautauqua County Legislature when the panel holds it's re-organzational meeting next Monday afternoon.  Lawmakers will meet in Mayville to elect a Legislature Chairman... and, act on the majority and minority leadership.  Clymer-area Repubican David Himelein will remain Republican Majority Leader in 2016... while Jamestown's Chuck Nazzaro will become the new Democrat leader.  Nazzaro says he's looking forward to the new challenge. In fact... Nazzaro has been a key part of legislature deliberations on the past two budgets... and, helped lead the panel's Deficit Reduction Commission.  He says the key challenges in 2016 will be tracking the new budget... and, pushing to keep the NRG Plant in Dunkirk open.  If it's closed... Nazzaro says it will have a "significant" impact on the city of Dunkirk... and, the county itself.  However... he adds that there are also a number of economic opportunities... and, he wants to pursue that aggressively with County Executive Vince Horrigan and Majority Republicans.  Next Monday's meeting begins at 4 PM.

 

City lamwakers have dealt with a number of difficult issues during the past two-year, council term... but, it's been a "productive" one, as well.  That from Jamestown City Council President Greg Rabb... as 2015 concludes.  Rabb says the past two years saw a couple of changes on the city council... and, there will be another in the coming term.  However... he says lawmakers have been able to put aside political differences -- and he believes that'll be the case again. Over the past year... Rabb says there have been primarily two challenges facing lawmakers -- the biggest being financial.  He adds public safety -- due to the on-going drug crisis -- is the other big challenge.  That financial challenge was never more evident than during deliberations on a 2016 budget... where lawmakers were able to cut a proposed 5.6-percent tax increase to a 4-percent. City Council recessed Monday night's voting session until it's "end of year" meeting this Friday at 12 Noon.  Lawmakers will finish up any year-end business... then adjourn.  The new council will then be seated... and, lawmakers will decide on a new Council president.

 

New York's judiciary has adopted new rules for investigating and disciplining attorneys for misconduct statewide.  The uniform rules adopted by all four of New York's appellate divisions follow proposals by a commission appointed by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman.  The rules are effective July 1st.  He says they will eliminate regional differences in how complaints and cases are handled.  New York has nearly 300,000 licensed lawyers.  Disciplinary committees in the appellate divisions and their chief attorneys will investigate and review cases, with proceedings confidential unless attorneys are disbarred or suspended for misconduct.  Lippman announced earlier this year the public disciplinary histories are on the Unified Court System's website through its directory of attorneys.  Rules of professional conduct are also posted on the website.
 


A traditional open house event at New York's Executive Mansion that is typically held on New Year's Day is being postponed until March.   New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says Wednesday that the event will be postponed until Easter Sunday because January 1st will mark the first anniversary of his father's death.  His father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, died last year at age 82.  The governor said in a statement that he wanted to continue the open house tradition but also wanted to commemorate his father's loss with his family.  He said the event will instead be held on March 27th.  Visitors will be welcome to tour of the mansion in downtown Albany, as well as participate in an Easter egg hunt.

 

A New York company says it will soon offer the first certified kosher medical pot.  Vireo Health says its non-smokable medical cannabis products have been certified as conforming to the Jewish dietary law by the Orthodox Union.   Vireo says the certification will help the company serve patients among New York's Jewish population, the nation's largest.

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News Headlines for Wed., Dec. 30, 2015

City fire crews still looking into cause of fires that destroy two vacant downtown homes...

City fire investigators are still looking into the causes of two early morning fires on Jamestown's northside Wednesday.  City Fire Battalion Chief Chet Harvey says both fires were in vacant homes.  Harvey says the first call came in  shortly before 4 a.m. at 1052 North Main St.  The other was called in around 5:30 a.m. at a condemned building at 866-1/2 Spring St.  Harvey says the structure was fully-engulfed in flames on arrival... and, he says the Department of Development decided a short time later to demolish the structure.  He says the fire was almost out... but, the DOD was called in to have the home torn-down.  Harvey says it took firefighters about two hours to bring the fire at 1052 North Main under control... and, then out.  Most of the fire was found in the back of the structure.  He says it's being evaluated for possible demolition as well.  Harvey says two off-duty shifts were called in -- one to the Spring Street location... the other to North Main Street.  No one was in either building when firefighters arrived... and, no injuries were reported in either blaze.


Chautauqua Inst. Board approves bids for Amphitheater razing, and, reconstruction...

Chautauqua Institution has awarded contracts for construction of a new Amphitheater.  Chautauqua Presidet Tom Becker says the Board of Trustees made the final decision Wednesday to hire L-P Ciminelli of Buffalo to be construction manager for the $41.5-million project.  Chautauqua's Chief Marketing Officer, George Murphy, says some preliminary work will be done before the 2016 season starts, but, adds the "heavy work" will start next September 1st... and, conclude in June of 2017.  The Chautauqua board put a hold on the project in November, when the bids came in high.  Murphy says in the meantime, they went back -- and tightened up all the bids.  He says they substituted materials in some areas, and did "less of a finish in others."  Otherwise, the plans are essentially unchanged from the model on display this past summer.  Tom Becker says some of the controversy concerning preserving the old Amp is 'understandable and credible'.  But, he adds, what's really being preserved is Chautauqua's ability to do its work for the next 100 years. 


Two now in custody, charged in November home invasion-robbery at southside residence...

One person has been indicted on several charges... and, charges against a second are pending... in connection with last month's home invasion robbery on Jamestown's southside.  City Police Captain Bob Samuelson says the Chautauqua County Grand Jury handed up the indictment this week against 25 year-old Felix Lozada.  Samuelson says Lozada is accused with the other suspect of forcing their way into the home shortly before 1 a.m. last Nov. 22.  He says the suspect faces felony robbery, burglary and menacing charges.  Lozada is being held on $200,000 cash bail.  Samuelson says the pair were able to get the homeowner to answer the door by saying their vehicle had broken down.  He says the other suspect in the home invasion is being held in Warren, Pennsylvania on an unrelated charge.  Samuelson adds that a blue-colored Pacifica allegedly used as a get-away vehicle was later found in Warren, Pennsylvania... but, they are still looking into an alleged woman driver.  If you have any information on the case... you're asked to call the City Police tip-line at 483-TIPS... that's 483-8477.


Ambit Energy agrees to nearly $1-million in refunds...

One of the state's largest independent suppliers of electricity and gas for residential customers has agreed to refund nearly $1-million to resolve complaints about its billing practices.  Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that Texas-based Ambit Energy will issue $950,700 in refunds to 1,566 customers after an investigation by the state.  About half of those customers live in central and eastern New York.  There are also several in the Jamestown-area.  The state investigation began after complaints about Ambit's customer disclosure statements and renewal notices, particularly for customers who were moved from a guaranteed-savings plan into a variable rate plan charging significantly more.  In addition... AARP called on state regulators to investigate unfair energy pricing.  It cited federal data showing that New York's independent energy service companies charged the highest residential electric prices in the nation last year.

 

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News Headlines for Tues., Dec. 29, 2015

No one hurt in weekend fire at home in Celoron...

No injuries were reported when flames swept through the upper floors of a two-story home in the village of Celoron last Sunday night.  Chautauqua County Sheriff's Department dispatchers say the call at 15 Leslie St. came in about 9 p.m.  Celoron fire officials tell the Post-Journal that crews found fire and smoke coming from the second-floor and attic area.  Officials say two people inside the home got out safely... and, the blaze was under control in about an hour.  Celoron firefighters were joined at the scene by crews from Lakewood and Busti.  County fire investigators are looking for a cause.


One person hurt in Amish Buggy accident in Sherman...

A Sherman teenager is being treated for serious injuries after she was apparently thrown from an Amish horse and buggy early yesterday morning in the town of Sherman.  Sheriff's officers say an 18 year-old male was operating the buggy on Alder Bottom Road abouut 12:15 a.m. when the horse got spooked... and, he lost control.  Deputies say the boy then jumped from the buggy... and, found that 17 year-old girl laying unresponsive in the roadway.  Officers say the girl was transported to UPMC Hamot in Erie, Pennsylvania for treatment of her injuries.  The investigation into the accident is continuing.


New Neighborhood Watch established on Dearborn St. in Jamestown...

The city of Jamestown has added to it's ever-growing number of neighborhood watch groups that help keep an eye out for crime... or other suspicious activity.  The City Council last night unanimously approved establishment of a watch group on the upper end of Dearborn Street on the southside.  Council President Greg Rabb... whose neighborhood on Lakeview Avenue formed a neighborhood watch group a short time ago... said it's a great way for neighbors to get to know each other.  He says the city posts the the signs for the watch community, and a police officer is assigned by the police chief to work with them on what to look for, and what to do if they see something unusual or suspicious.  Rabb adds city Police do a "great job..." but, can't be everywhere because of their lower numbers.  He says it's important to have that "extra set of eyes" in the neighborhoods.
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In addition... city lawmakers last night approved lifting the hiring freeze to fill one laborer position in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation.  However... it was not unanimous.  The vote was 7-to-1 with Councilman Brent Sheldon voting no.  Sheldon recently moved to cut mainly part-time positions in the department as part of the 2016 City Budget.  Those moves were rejected... and, he voted against the overall spending plan as well.


The state to prohibit municipalities from collecting traffic fees if charges are dismissed for alleged violations...

Next Spring... New York state will prohibit municipalities from collecting fines, surcharges or administrative fees for traffic cases when the violations are dismissed.  The amendment to state traffic law was approved by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo this week.  It takes effect in March.  The law's sponsor, Democratic Assemblyman Michael DenDekker of Queens, says fining motorists whose violations are dismissed places ``an undue burden'' on them.  He cites ``numerous complaints'' where drivers were charged an administrative fee for showing up at traffic court even after their violations were dismissed.  Cuomo, in signing the law, says the law's terms would also prohibit fines and surcharges in the common practice of plea bargaining violations to lesser charges.


Gerace says county's new Emergency Radio System to go on-line by end of January...

The Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office is about a month away from having a new, digital, county-wide emergency communications system in place.  That from Sheriff Joe Gerace after the Sheriff's Office recently completed testing of the new system across the county.  Gerace says the new system has been about 20 years in the making... but, suffered a setback several years ago when New York decided to end it's effort to create at state-wide network.  Gerace says the new system will be completely "inter-operable" between police, fire and local EMS.  He says the new system is "phenominal..." and, exceeded 99-percent coverage of the county with portable radio coverage.  He says the contract called for 95-percent coverage.  Gerace says testing was extensive.  He says Motorola was the vendor for the project.  The county received a $6-million state grant for the project.  The Sheriff expects to have the new system completely on line by the end of January.  He made his comments for this past weekend's "Community Spotlight" program.


Martin celebrates community response to annual "Holiday Haul..."

The three-day "Holiday Haul" brought in another "wonderful" response from the community in support of the St. Susan's Center.  That from Jamestown Community College Athletic Director Keith Martin... who again hosted the third-annual event to bring food, essentials and money to Jamstown's soup kitchen the weekend before Christmas.  Martin says they've just tallied up the numbers... and, found they had received more than 6,000 pounds of items -- including items St. Susan's, and the people they help -- need.  He says that includes toiletries, napkins, and paper towels.  In addition to the just over three-tons of items... they also brought in more than $12,000 in cash and gift cards for St. Susan's.  Martin says that allows the soup kitchen to purchase $7 worth of food for each dollar they raised hrough the Food Bank of Western New York.  The money also helps with their overhead and expenses.  Martin again thanked Jamestown Mattress... and, the Jamestown Cycle Shop for their ongoing support... and, the Falconer J-V Girls Basketball Team for helping accept items all day on Saturday, Dec. 19.

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News Headlines for Sat., Dec. 26, 2015

Wacky weather continues through Christmas Day, but, predicted to change once we get into January...

It's been a record-smashing Christmas Holiday season in the northeast.  New York City yesterday broke it's record for the warmest Christmas Day ever.  The National Weather Service says temperature reading in Central Park was 66 degrees about 12:30 a.m. Friday.  The previous record was 64 degrees in 1982.  There was a record-breaking lead up to Christmas here in western New York.  The mercury reached 66-degrees in Buffalo early on Christmas Eve.  Forecaster Dave Thomas with the Weather Service says we'll continue to see higher than normal  temperatures through the coming week... though there may be some snow about mid-week.


Fire at Vacant House in Jamestown remains under investigation...

The investigation is continuing into the cause of last Thursday morning's fire in a vacant house that gutted one room and part of another.  City Fire Lieutanant Brian Eckteberg says crews were called to the scene at 1052 1/2 North Main Street about 6:10 a.m.  Eckteberg says firefighters found flames starting to come out of a window on arrival.  He says it took about an hour to bring the blaze under control, and put out the flames.  He adds that crews were at the scene until about 10:15 a.m.  An off-duty shift was called into assist at the scene.  No one was hurt.


Local police report no serious accidents, or other issues over Christmas...

Local police report a fairly quite Christmas and Christmas Eve in the Jamestown-area... but, the holiday weekend is not over yet.  Local police are still urging motorists to travel safely as a record number of people are traveling this weekend.  On this weekend's "Community Spotlight" program.. Chautauqua County Sheriff Joe Gerace says his department and other police are part of New York's latest "Stop DWI Crackdown."  Gerace adds they're also on the lock-out for drivers under the influence of drugs.  He says several of his deputies are trained as DREs or "Drug Recognition Experts" to do a battery of testing if it appears someone is under the influence.  Gerace says drivers under the influence of drugs can often exhibit the same problems as a drunk driver.  They might be weaving in and out of their lane... or speeding up, or driving too slow.  Otherwise... Gerace says, if you are driving some distance to get to a relative or friend's house, make sure you're well-rested, and have a plan in place for getting to your destination.  If you see someone who is driving dangerously... Gerace says you're also urged to call 9-1-1.


Sheridan man saved by deputies using Naloxone...

Chautauqua County Sheriff's officers were able to save a north county man from an apparent Heroin overdose on Christmas Eve.  Deputies say they were called to a home in the town of Sheridan early Thursday night... and found the unresponsive male.  Officers proceeded to administer Naloxone... commonly known as narcan... to the unidentified male... who regained consciousness a short time later.  They add the man was to Lake Shore Hospital where he was treated without further incident.

 

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News Headlines for Thurs., Dec. 24, 2015

City fire investigators looking into cause of blaze in vacant home on Jamestown's northside...

Flames gutted a room-and-a-half at a vacant, two-story house on Jamestown's northside early Thursday morning.  City Fire Lt. Brian Eckteberg says crews were called to the scene at 1052 1/2 North Main St. about 6:10 a.m. today.  Eckteberg says firefighters found flames starting to come out of a window on arrival.  He says it took about an hour to bring the blaze under control, and snuff out the fire.  He adds that crews were at the scene until 10:15 this morning.  An off-duty shift was called into assist at the scene.  No one was hurt... and, the cause is under investigation.


More records set for high temperatures in Upstate New York...

Temperatures are starting to fall, after record-breaking warmth earlier today.  The National Weather Service reports that two high temperature records were set this morning.  It was 65 degrees late Wednesday night... and 66 early this morning in Buffalo.  Meteorologist Dave Thomas says a cold front dropped temperatures... but, it will still be unseasonably mild for Christmas Day.  Thomas says the normal high is about 34 to 35 degrees this time of year.  The high will be about 10 to 15 degrees higher than that on Christmas Day.  Thomas adds there doesn’t appear to be major pattern for the remainder of the month, but a change could be in the works for January.  Here's another interesting stat about the overnight weather.  The National Weather Service says the coolest temp was 59 degrees... that's warmer than 37 nights this summer (June-August 2015), or about 40% of the summer.


Gerace urges motorists to drive safely, and avoid drinking and driving over Christmas Holiday weekend...

It's a Christmas Eve like no other in recent memory.  Temperatures in the 60-degree range have kept the snow away... and it's going to be a "Green Christmas."  But... while snow and ice won't be an issue... local police are still urging motorist to travel safely as some 100-million Americans hit the road this holiday season.  Chautauqua County Sheriff Joe Gerace says his officers are ready to do their part to keep the traveling public safe.  Gerace says there'll still be plenty of traffic on the highway, and people going from place to place.  He says make sure to wear your seatbelt, and think safety as much as possible.  Gerace says... if you are driving some distance to get to a relative or friend's house... make sure you're well-rested... and, haven't been drinking, or using illegal drugs.  He says the county's police agencies are all taking part in the state-wide Stop DWI Crackdown.  Gerace says they get help from the New York state Stop DWI Foundation to put on the patrols.


City woman accused of stabbing another person with Steak Knife...

A Jamestown woman has been arrested for allegedly stabbing another person with a steak knife early this morning on the city's eastside.  Jamestown police were called to the scene at 6 Hedges St. around Midnight for a reported fight... and, found both parties allegedly involved on arrival.  Officers say their investigation determined that 32 year-old Stephanie Lockett has grabbed the knife and stabbed the unidentified victim in the right shoulder.  The victim was treated at the scene.  Lockett was arrested for second-degree assault... and, sent to the city jail pending arraignment.


Reed says, despite low approval ratings, Congress accomplished a number of things in 2015...

Local Congressman Tom Reed says there were a number of accomplishments made by the House of Representatives in 2015 -- both nationally and in his 23rd District.  Reed says the just-approved, $1.1-trillion Omnibus Spending Bill includes a number of measures that boost Advanced Manufacturing... and, tax reform.  The Corning Republican has pushed reforming the tax code for some time... and, touts a "New Market" Tax Credit... which is being used for a major project underway in Jamestown.  That's the National Comedy Center, which can possibly put that tax credit into place... and, also puts the North County Water District in place to meet their water needs.  As for Advanced Manufacturing... Reed says several projects are in the pipeline now, using the "Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation" - or RAMI Act that he sponsored, and is now law.  He says the $610-million award to Rochester for the new Photonics plant is just an example of what can be done across New York state.  Reed made his comments during his weekly conference call with Southern Tier Media.


Reed concerned about future of NRG as 2016 approaches...

The status of the NRG Repowering project is the big concern weighing on Congressman Tom Reed's mind as we head into 2016.  During his weekly Conference Call with the media... the Corning Republican said that he met over the past week with officials from Entergy Corporation.  That's the rival group that filed the lawsuit against the state's Public Service Commission to halt the project.  Reed says he wants to make sure that the problems Entergy is having with Indian Point and elsewhere doesn't stop the progress locally.  He believes the project will go forward once the suit is disposed of.  A handful of environmental groups have also joined in the lawsuit... saying that the NRG project does nothing to halt the use of fossil fuels.  The repowering project would convert the Dunkirk Plant from coal to natural gas.

 

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WJTN News Headlines

(Corr.)A local foundation has made a major donation to help sustain the long-term operation of the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County.  A reception was held late Tuesday afternoon at Moon Brook Country Club in Jamestown to recognize the Johnson Foundation for it's support of the human services agency.  The foundation is contributing $200,000 to the United Way's Endowment Fund. United Way Executive Director Tory Irgang says the United Way's Endowment Fund was started -- with a lot of help from the Gebbie Foundation -- back in 2000.  She says the endowment currently covers about 25-percent of their operating expenses.  Irgang says that means more of the "donor's dollar" goes to members agencies to run their programs.  She says the reception also gave them a chance to thank the founders of the Johnson Foundation.  Irgang says they have re-named the endowment, "The John A. and Oscar Johnson Fund..." in appreciation of their community support.  She adds that the 2015 General Campaign is into it's final days.  For more information... call 483-1561... or go on-line to UWayscc-dot-ORG.

 

The average price for a gallon of regular, unleaded gasoline in the U-S is now below 2-dollars a gallon... and, has reached about 2-and-a-quarter in the Jamestown area.  That from the Triple-A's Fuel Gauge report... which says prices are about the same as last week heading into the Christmas Holiday weekend.  Triple-A says prices this week are about 2-dollars-25 cents per gallon locally.  Meantime... Triple-A says the national average price of gas has dropped below 2-dollars per gallon for the first time since March 25th of 2009.  The Fuel Gauge says they estimate that cheaper gas prices have saved Americans more than 100-billion dollars on gasoline so far this year compared to 2014, which works out to nearly 550-dollars per licensed driver in the country.

 

The Jamestown Board of Public Utilities has reduced a possible 12-percent Water rate increase to the original amount of 2.7-percent in the final, 2016 division budget.  That from BPU General Manager Dave Leathers... who says the board approved both the Water and Electric Division budgets Monday by 6-to-2 votes.  Leathers says panel members decided against making a 482-thousand dollar dividend payment to the city from just the Water Division. The board had given verbal agreement to about 175-thousand dollars in Water Division cuts at last week's meeting.  Leathers adds that about 133-thousand will come from the Electric Division for the payment from budget cuts.  In addition... one BPU project will be cancelled or delayed... saving another 300-thousand dollars.  He says the board's "mini" electric rate case is still pending before the state's Public Service Commission.  However... Leathers says their more concerned about a ruling on their restricted Capital and Overhaul Fund than the rate case right now.  Board members John Zabrodsky and Carl Pillitierri voted against the two budgets.

 

A Jamestown woman has been charged following a two-vehicle accident on Route 474 in Ashville that took down a utility pole.  Sheriff's officers say 49 year-old Debbie Slagle was westbound about 2:30 PM Monday... when she reportedly fell asleep at the wheel.  Deputies say Slagle's car went off the southside of the roadway... and, sheared the utility pole before stopping in a yard.  Officers say... a few minutes later... another westbound car -- driven by 80 year-old Loretta Livermore of Ashville -- struck the low-hanging utility lines -- caused by Slagle's accident.  Neither Slagle nor Livermore were hurt in the accidents.  Slagle was ticketed for Failure to Keep Right... and, will appear in North Harmony Town Court at a later date.

 

New York corrections officials have established a procedure for identifying and managing problem workers in the state prison system with 53-thousand inmates.  The Department of Corrections and Community Supervision says all 53 prison superintendents are reporting directly to the commissioner's office at least twice monthly, including discussion of staff identified as potentially problematic and actions required.  Meanwhile, the department this year added an analysis unit that logs inmate grievances by categories and time periods to better monitor complaints and alleged staff misconduct, including searching grievances by particular officer.  The unit is expected to be fully operational early next year.  The New York Times reported Monday that there are about 4,000 open investigations into inmate grievances.  The union that represents prison guards did not immediately respond Monday to requests for comment.

 

The Salvation Army of Jamestown is hoping for big push over the final two-days left in the 2015 Red Kettle Campaign.  Captain Kim Merchant says they've been able to fill most bell-ringing slots... and, are now just 6-thousand dollars behind last year's pace.  About a week ago... Merchant tells us... they were 10-thousand dollars behind.  She says they still have several slots available for bell-ringers who want to volunteer through 6 PM on Christmas Eve. Speaking with our Dennis Webster, Jim Roselle and Russ Diethrick... Captain Merchant also said that people can just make out a check and send it to their South Main Street location.  The check can even be sent after the campaign... just so long as it's dated before December 31st.  Merchant adds that there have been several other high-lights during the Christmas season... including just recently holding their holiday food basket distribution.  She says it's a nice way to share the spirit of the season.  For more information on the Red Kettle Campaign... or to be a bell-ringer... call 664-4108.

 

Governor Andrew Cuomo has chosen the top staff member of the state Senate's majority Republicans to be his new budget director.  The governor, a Democrat, has appointed Robert Mujica to head the state's Budget Division.  Mujica has been chief of staff to the Senate majority leader and secretary to the Senate Finance Committee that examines and develops tax policy proposals.  He replaces Mary Beth Labate, who is joining State University of New York as a senior policy and program advisor.  Cuomo has also named his communications director Melissa DeRosa to be his chief of staff.

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WJTN News Headlines

Two men have been arrested for allegedly committing a home invasion-robbery on Jamestown's eastside early Sunday morning.  City Police Captain Bob Samuelson says officers were initially called to the scene at 512 East Seventh Street shortly after 12 AM... where the occupants reported that they had been robbed by two male subjects.  Samuelson says the men were later identified as 19 year-old Francisco McGowan... and, 20 year-old Dylan Colon.  He adds both face major charges. Samuelson says no one was hurt inside the home... and, he says both men were arrested later without incident.  He says -- at this point -- police have no definative motive for the break-in and robbery.  Samuelson adds they are now looking for a possible third suspect in the case.  He says both McGowan and Colon were arraigned on the felony charges... and, sent to the County Jail without bail.  He says anyone with information on the case is asked to call JPD's confidential tip line at 483-TIPS... that's 483-8477.

 

The Jamestown High School Acappella Choir was on stage at the Reg last night (Monday)... singing with the Jim Brickman holiday show. Brickman is a well known pianist, and singer, based in Cleveland.  Acappella member Alexa Brightman was thrilled. The 80 voice choir filled the stage behind Brickman to sing two songs with him, his vocalist and a jazz violinist.  Brickman says choirs have joined them at many stops on this year's holiday tour.  The Jamestown choir is the biggest, and one of the best prepared. Brickman is in the midst of a coast to coast tour for his CD 'Comfort and Joy'. 

 

Governor Andrew Cuomo says he's issuing conditional pardons for about 10-thousand former juvenile offenders who won't have to disclose convictions on employment, credit or other applications.  The New York Democrat says offenders with misdemeanor and non-violent felony convictions at age 16 or 17 will get pardons after a decade with no subsequent crimes.  Cuomo tells WNYC radio most will be drug cases.  He says youths make mistakes that shouldn't mean lifelong hardships.  The Raise the Age Campaign, which like Cuomo advocates raising the age of criminal responsibility in New York from 16 to 18, says he took a critical step in improving access to education, employment and housing.  Cuomo says eliminating criminal history questions from job applications would be going too far because employers have a right to protect themselves.

 

Congressional Republicans did not "sell out" when it comes to their overwhelming support of the 1.1-trillion dollar Omnibus spending bill late last week.  That from Corning Republican Tom Reed... who voted for the spending bill... which was approved in a "bi-partisan" manner in both the House and Senate.  Some Conservative pundits have been highly-critical of the bill... which they say spends too much... and, gets little in return.  Reed says he understands where conservatives are coming from... but, adds the spending bill helps bring about "incremental change...." A few conservatives also feel that Congressional Republicans sold out in the Omnibus Bill because they were so focused on getting approval of a measure lifting the ban on exporting domestically-produced oil overseas.  Reed says that was a big victory... and, allows the U-S to "stabilize" the world-wide oil market.  He says he wanted to make sure "local taxpayers get their fair share" of funding for the programs and services that benefit the entire region.  Reed made his comments during his weekly telephone conference call with Southern Tier Media.

 

It took longer than usual to arrive, but the first big storm of the season has left parts of central New York buried under three feet of snow.  The National Weather Service says the weekend's lake-effect storms dropped 12 to 36 inches of snow on areas of the Tug Hill Plateau, east of Lake Ontario.  The weather service says the town of Lyonsdale in Lewis County topped the list with 36 inches, with other nearby locations also reporting more than 30 inches.  Sections of western New York also received their first big snowfall of the season, with Perrysburg in Cattaraugus County getting a foot of snow.  Buffalo recorded its first snow of the season on Friday -- just. 0.1 inches -- setting a record for the latest measurable snowfall.

 

Yesterday marked the U-S Postal Services busiest delivery day... during it's busiest week of the year.  The Post Office has also added staff and are making additional deliveries to keep up with the pace.  Western New York Postal Service Spokeswoman Karen Mazurkiewicz says they are ready for the challenge.  She says the "full court press is on..." but, she adds that they're ready with extra people and transportation at their disposal.  In some cases... she adds they are delivering seven days a week.

 

The New York State Police have announced a new commander of Troop A, which oversees the State Police operations in all of Western New York.  The state Police add that Major Steven Nigrelli is also a former Zone Commander at the SP Barracks in Jamestown.  Nigrelli is a 25-year veteran of the State Police.  He has worked on several high profile cases during his career, including the Ralph "Bucky" Phillips manhunt in 2006... the Bike Path Rapist/Killer Task Force in Buffalo... and, he served as the scene commander for the investigation of the crash of Flight 3407.

 

Efforts to provide more healthy, locally sourced school meals to New York school children are getting some help from the state.  Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration this month announced more than $300,000 in new funding for six ``Farm to School'' programs around the state.  The money will help school districts provide more locally produced food products to children.  The Democratic governor says the initiative is intended to provide children with high-quality, healthy food while also promoting local agriculture.  The money will go to local agricultural extension services and to school districts.  The district in Buffalo is the largest district set to receive funding.

 

New York state is outpacing the United States as a whole when it comes to agricultural sales.  Governor Andrew Cuomo says the state's sales from items such as dairy, fruit, vegetables and poultry and eggs have risen 36 percent since 2010.  The national increase over the same period was 32 percent.  The Democratic governor says the state is working to reduce red tape and encourage all aspects of the state's agricultural economy.  The state is a leading national source of apples and yogurt.  Dairy products alone were responsible for half of the state's agricultural receipts in 2014.  Some of the biggest increases in the last five years came from the sale of other products, however, including peaches, honey, hay and poultry.

 

 


 

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WJTN News Headlines

Lake Effect Snows arrived in western New York early last evening... and, the immediate Jamestown-area by late last night.  Forecaster Kirk Apfell with the National Weather Service's Buffalo office says the snow was right on time... and, says we remain under a Lake Effect Snow Warning until 10 PM tonight.  In addition to the 8 to 13 inches of snow in the heaviest snow areas... there'll be some blowing and drifting snow with wind gusts up to 40 MPH.  Apfell says that'll produce blowing and drifting snow. Apfell says we'll see a mostly Sunny day on Sunday with highs near 40.  By Monday... we'll see a little rain, and highs about 48.

 

Snow plow drivers for the Chautauqua County Department of Public Facilities was at the ready when the heavy lake snows began.  However... County Executive Vince Horrigan also urged drivers to be smart... and, slow down.  Horrigan also says "be prepared" when driving in Winter-time conditions. Horrigan says the County's DPF has about 30 plow trucks all together to handle the snow.  He adds that, with the slow start to Winter, they've actually been kind of "eager" to get out and plow some snow.

 

A Fredonia man is being treated for serious injuries after his car crossed the center line late Thursday night... and, struck a double-tandem tractor trailer on Route 60 in the town of Pomfret.  Sheriff's officers say 41 year-old Jeffrey Camp was southbound shortly before 11 PM... and, crossed into the northbound lane.  Deputies say the car then struck the tractor-trailer, operated by 35 year-old Scott Dewey of Jamestown.  Camp was flown by Starflight Helicopter to UPMC Hamot for treatment.  Officers say Dewey declined treatment for minor injuries.  Route 60 was closed for several hours.  Charges are pending.

 

Chautauqua County's Congressman says he championed a number of local priorities in the lead up and final passage of the 1.1-trillion dollar, 2016 omnibus bill.  Corning Republican Tom Reed says the bill passed in a "bi-partisan manner" by the House and Senate.  Reed says he wanted to make sure "local taxpayers get their fair share of funding for the programs and services that benefit our region."  He adds that it's "only right that our taxpayers see a strong return on their tax dollars and that we do our best to prioritize well so we can keep taxes lower and keep federal spending in check."  He says the bill funds anti-terrorism programs... programs for local veterans... and, affordable housing initiatives.  Reed adds his "Revitalizing American Manufacturing and Innovation act..." which is bringing jobs and a high-tech manufacturing hub to Western New York... is part of the bill.

 

Frewsburg Central School District voters this week approved a 4.9-million dollar capital project by a nearly 2-to-1 margin.  District Clerk Lona Carlberg tells us the project was approved by a 116 to 63 vote.  District officials say the project will NOT increase taxes to residents of the district because of the use of 500-thousand dollars from reserve funds.  The project includes several upgrades and repairs... including ceiling reconstruction and flooring replacement on the first floor of the elementary school.

 

A generous donation by a Houston, Texas couple has brought "Christmas early" to the Prendergast Library in Jamestown.  The Library Board Thursday approved an agreement with Jesse and Kathy Marion to delay sale of the artwork being considered for sale.  In return... Library Director Tina Scott says the Marions have agreed to make a significant contribution to help next year's bottom line. Scott says a lot of people are breathing a sigh of relief at the library... which was looking at laying off a full-time librarian next year to help close the budget gap.  She says the library has already taken some extraordinary steps to close the current year's gap... including not replacing a full-time maintenance person.  Others include not filling two part-time positions... and, closing on Sundays.  With the projected budget gap filled for next year... Scott says the library will continue working with the Marion's to create a 2-million dollar endowment to help keep the library's art collection here, and pay for it's maintenance.

 

The three-day "Holiday Haul" had a decent start in Jamestown's Brooklyn Square... but, donations need to pick up if it's going to equal last year's haul.  That from Jamestown Community College Athletic Director Keith Martin... who started the program a few years ago to help raise awareness, and bring in donations for the St. Susan's Center.  Martin has been camped out in front of the Jamestown Cycle Shop since Thursday morning... trying to fill a truck provided by Jamestown Mattress Company. Last year... the Holiday Haul raised about 10-thousand dollars in monitary donations... and, 4-and-a-half tons of non-perishable food items for St. Susans.  He says there is an increase demand for the soup kitchen's services this year, because they are projecting that they will again feed a record-number of meals to the needy in the community.  Officials at St. Susan's say they're on target to serve 120-thousand meals this year.  The Holiday Haul continues until 3 PM Saturday.


 

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WJTN News Headlines

WCA Hospital in Jamestown has signed an agreement to become an affiliate of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.  That major announcement was made Thursday afternoon after an affiliate agreement had been signed earlier the day today.  WCA President and Chief Executive Officer Betsy Wright says the agreement will keep "high-quality health care close to home."  Wright says this "full integration" will means WCA will become part of UPMC's "world-class" network.  She adds it's subject first to state approval. WCA Hospital Board Chairman Steve Kilburn says it's an "important and historic day" for WCA and the community.  As hospital's face increasing pressures and challenges in the current health care environment... Kilburn says many communities face major reductions in access to local health care.  He says they are moving in a way that will not only maintain services... but, grow them as part of UPMC's 20-plus affiliate network.  Wright says UPMC has already made a $25-million investment over 10 years in capital expenditures.  Once final approvals are given, the hospital will go under the name "UPMC Chautauqua at WCA."

 

There is some freezing drizzle in the Jamestown-area this morning as our stretch of Spring-like weather has come to an end.  With that... there might be a few slippery spots this morning as you head into work.  That from Forecaster Kirk Apfell with the National Weather Service in Buffalo... who says there's less of a chance near the Lake Erie Shoreline.  Apfell says a Winter Weather Advisory remains in effect until 10 this morning. Apfell says we'll see some general snow showers mixing in during the day... but, he adds the Lake Effect will mostly be to the north of us as the afternoon begins.  A Lake Effect Snow Warning will take effect at 4 PM... but, Apfell says the Lake Effect may not begin until later.  He says they're looking at some "pretty significant accumulations of snow" in the Jamestown-area late Friday into Saturday.  Some could be up to 18 inches in spots.  Apfell says that Lake Effect Snow Warning continues until 10 PM Saturday.  Forecasters say the southern Tier will generally see about 4 to 6 inches of the white stuff by late Saturday.

 

A Celoron woman has been arrested for allegedly running a Methamphetime Lab operation in her Dunham Avenue apartment.  Agents with the Southern Tier Regional Drug Task Force say they raided the lower apartment at 66 Dunham about 6:20 PM Wednesday... and, arrested 31 year-old Kimberly Ferguson on a warrant out of Ellicott Town Court.  Task Force members say they located a quantity of Methamphetamine oil... the precursors for making Meth... and, lab equipment used in it's production.  Officers say Ferguson was arraigned on one count of third-degree Unlawfully Manufacturing Methamphetamine... and, sent to the county jail without bail.  More charges are pending.  As a result of the discovery of the hazardous materials used in making the Meth, the state Police C-C-SERT team was called to the location to decontaminate the scene and collect evidence.  Police say they seized just over eight-ounces of Meth oil.  Anyone with information on the suspected trafficking of illegal Narcotics is asked to call the Task Force at 1-800-344-8702.

 

A city man is jailed after allegedly threatening a woman with a gun.  Jamestown police say that 31 year-old John Peterson pointed a shotgun at the unidentfied woman... and, threatened to kill her after an argument just after 1 AM yesterday.  The victim was able to leave the South Main Street home, and meet officers outside.  Peterson was being held pending arraignment.

 

A portion of Jamestown's westside... as well as much of the Celoron area... was without power for about three hours yesterday morning.  Jamestown Board of Public Utilities Spokeswoman Becky Robbins says a downed tree limb was apparently the culprit.  Robbins says a branch took down a power line on Lister Avenue about 5 AM... and, that cut power to areas like Jones and Gifford... and, Livingston Avenues.  She says power was restored to the affected area by about 8 AM.

 

Jamestown Community College Athletic Director Keith Martin is again hosting his annual "Holiday Haul" at the Jamestown Cycle Shop in Brooklyn Square.  Martin started the three-day "camp out" a few years ago to raise awareness -- and, get donations for the St. Susan's Center.  He says there is an ever-increasing need this year... as the city's largest soup kitchen is projecting that it will again feed a record-number of meals to the needy in the community. Martin says they did well last year... and, says he wants to "top that" this year.  In 2014... the "Holiday Haul" brought in 4-and-a-half tons of food... and, 10-thousand dollars in donations.  Martin says he and members of JCC athletic teams... among others... will be on hand to accept donations of non-parishable food items... and money through 3 PM Saturday.  Martin will be in a tent provided by Jamestown Awning.  He says they're trying to fill up a truck provided by Jamestown Mattress Company.  Other sponsors include the Cycle Shop and Cummins Engine Company.

 

There are some benefits for New York farmers in a tax package just unveiled in Washington.  U-S Senator Charles Schumer says he secured the restoration and permanent extension of key provisions of Section 179 of the tax code... which provides tax deductions that help family farmers purchase needed equipment.  There's something for apple growers, too. The tax extenders package includes the Cider Act introduced by Schumer to boost the state's growing hard cider industry.  The Cider Act revises the definition of hard cider to allow it to have a greater alcohol content without being taxed at the higher rate of wine.  Under current federal law, the definition of hard apple or pear cider only allows for up to 7 percent alcohol.  Hard cider is a value-added product that can reap significant revenues for growers.

 

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News Headlines for Thurs., Dec. 17, 2015

Celoron woman arrested for allegedly making Meth, and being in possession of the drug...

A Celoron woman has been arrested for allegedly running a Methamphetime Lab operation in her Dunham Avenue apartment.  Agents with the Southern Tier Regional Drug Task Force say they raided the lower apartment at 66 Dunham about 6:20 p.m. Wednesday... and, arrested 31 year-old Kimberly Ferguson on a warrant out of Ellicott Town Court.  Task Force members say they located a quantity of Methamphetamine oil... the precursors for making Meth... and, lab equipment used in it's production.  Officers say Ferguson was arraigned on one count of third-degree Unlawfully Manufacturing Methamphetamine... and, sent to the county jail without bail pending further court action.  As a result of the discovery of the hazardous materials used in making the Meth,  the state Police CCSERT team was called to the location to decontaminate the scene and collect evidence.  Police say they seized just over eight-ounces of Meth. oil.  Additional charges are pending.  Anyone with information on the suspected trafficking of illegal Narcotics is asked to call the Task Force at 1-800-344-8702.


BPU crews repair damaged power line that triggered early morning outage...

A portion of Jamestown's Westside... as well as much of the Celoron area... was without power for about three hours this morning.  Jamestown Board of Public Utilities Spokeswoman Becky Robbins says a downed tree limb was apparently the culprit.  Robbins says the branch brought down a power line about 5 a.m., and affected the Livingston Avenue, and area of Jones and Gifford Ave.  Robbins says power was restored to the affected area by about 8 a.m.


BPU Water crew working on main break on city's northside...

The Board of Public Utilities is dealing with a water main break on Washington Street.  BPU Spokeswoman Becky Robbins says Water Division crews were called to the scene early this morning... and, the water is off between 12th and 15th Streets.  Robbins says the break was repaired by shortly after 11 a.m.  However... there will be unsettled water all day on the city's northside.


Winter Weather to finally make appearance in Upstate NY region...

Upstate New York's prolonged stretch of spring-like weather is coming to an end, with lake-effect storms expected to dump more than a foot of snow on parts of western and north-central New York.  The National Weather Service has issued lake-effect snow watches starting Friday and continuing into Saturday for areas south of Buffalo and east of Lake Ontario.  Forecasters say while is expected to only receive an inch or two, areas south of the city could get between 8 and 18 inches by Saturday afternoon.  The weather service says the Tug Hill Plateau region north of Syracuse could also get up to 18 inches.  The arrival of typical December weather comes after some upstate areas broke long-standing high-temperature records for the month and longest stretches without snow accumulation.


County Legislature approves creation of North County Water District...

The Chautauqua County Legislature has unanimously approved two key measures establishing the new, North County Water District.  Lawmakers last night approved a state environmental review of the project... then formally establishing the district with a cost not to exceed $11.75-million.  County Legislator George Borrello of Silver Creek called creation of the new water district an "historic moment" for the county.  Borrello says "we have worked together, instead of as individual municipalities, focused on this goal."  Borrello says having enough good, clean water supply is important to the population... as well as economic development.  County Executive Vince Horrigan called the votes a "watershed moment for regional solutions in this county."  The proposal includes a map of how the new district will look... but, another also allows for expansion.  Horrigan says he'll keep pushing for that... first with the village of Fredonia.  Horrigan says the county, and officials with the new district will look to firm up plans... and, borrow the money for the project early next Spring.


Annual "Holiday Haul" underway again at Jamestown Cycle Shop...

Jamestown Community College Athletic Director Keith Martin is again hosting his annual "Holiday Haul" at the Jamestown Cycle Shop in Brooklyn Square.  Martin started the three-day "camp out" a few years ago to raise awareness -- and, get donations for the St. Susan's Center.  He says there is an ever-increasing need this year... as the city's largest soup kitchen is projecting that it will again feed a record-number of meals to the needy in the community... totalling about 120,000 meals... which is 8,000 to 10,000 more than last year.  Martin says they did well last year... and, says he wants to top that this year.  Martin says he and members of JCC athletic teams... among others... will be on hand to accept donations of non-parishable food items... and money through 3 p.m. Saturday.  Martin will be in a tent provided by Jamestown Awning.  He says they're trying to fill up a truck provided by Jamestown Mattress Company.  Other sponsors include the Cycle Shop and Cummins Engine Company.

 

 

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WJTN News Headlines

New York education leaders have suspended the use of standardized test scores in teacher evaluations for four years while the state revises the Common Core learning standards and related testing.  The moratorium was approved by the policy-making Board of Regents in Albany Tuesday afternoon.  It was recommended by Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Common Core Task Force last week and has been vigorously sought by teachers for much longer.  The measure sets up a transition period during which grade 3-8 math and reading scores will be used only on an advisory basis, rather than as a key component of annual performance reviews that can lead to teacher firings.  The New York State United Teachers union says the moratorium is a first step toward ending what it calls a ``test-and-punish mentality.''

 

We will be getting a break in this stretch of unseasonably mild December weather later this week... but, the batch of cold air on the way may not last long enough to bring a white Christmas to the area.  Meteorologist Jeff Wood of the National Weather Service in Buffalo says it will be turning colder starting on Thursday. Wood says it appears the snow will make it into Chautauqua County, but how much will fall is still uncertain.  He says it'll be a fast-moving system, so it may be hard for the snow bands to settle over one particular spot.  In addition... Wood says the long range forecasts indicate there could be another warm up before Christmas Day. 

 

If the weather cooperates... a local ski resort is hoping to finally open this weekend... but, that remains up in the air at this point.  Holiday Valley Ski Resort Marketing Director Jane Eshbaugh says the Ellicottville location has received about 10 inches of natural snow so far this season.  However... that's all pretty much gone.  She says if they can get some cold weather -- especially at night -- they can quickly make snow.  Eshbaugh says they're hoping for colder weather -- starting Thursday. This morning... Holiday Valley was reporting a 0-to-8 inch base.  Eshbaugh says she's kept records for the past 20 years... and, says -- if Sunday is the day -- it would not be their latest opening.  She says that was December 22nd, in 2001.  Eshbaugh says Holiday Valley is very fortunate to have a new snow-gun system that can be brought on line quickly if and when they truly get cold weather.  For more information... go on-line to Holidayvalley-dot-COM. Here in Chautauqua County... Peek 'n Peak in Clymer reports that opening day will be delayed... and, they plan to open as soon as "weather permits."  They're on-line at pknpk-dot-COM.

 

As gas prices fall to the 2-dollar mark across the country... they've fallen 4-cents per gallon for regular, unleaded here in Chautauqua County.  That from the Triple-A's Fuel Gauge Report... which says the average price has fallen from nearly 2-dollars-36 cents last week to 2--31 this week.  Triple-A says that's based on reports from 19 area gasoline stations.  The Fuel Gauge reports the national average is now 2-dollars-1 cent per gallon.  Overall... average prices remained relatively steady this week, with 26 state averages falling below the 2-dollar a gallon mark.  With the falling cost of crude oil... Triple-A says consumers are paying the cheapest prices at the pump, on average, since 2009.

 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is denouncing the anti-immigration sentiment that has permeated the nation's political discourse.  Cuomo, a Democrat, spoke at yesterday's (Monday's) annual National Immigrant Integration Conference in Brooklyn.  He mocked the sentiment shared by some that immigrants should stay out of ``our land.''  Cuomo then thundered ``Your land? Are you a Navajo?'' before stressing that New York's tradition is to welcome arrivals from all backgrounds.  He touted his own family's struggles after emigrating from Italy to the United States... and, said the state views immigrants ``as an asset'' and ``not a liability.''  Cuomo also highlighted his administration's efforts to help immigrant workers.  He said the state has returned 28.9-million dollars to more than 24,000 workers who were victims of wage theft since the beginning of this year.

 

Chautauqua County Sheriff Joe Gerace has now identified the man whose skeletal remains were found last Wednesday in Boutwell Hill State Forest.  Gerace tells us that the remains are those of Tyler Chase... a local man in his mid-20s... who was reported missing from the town of Charlotte in May of 2014.  He says they wanted to make sure of the person's identity before releasing any information. Gerace says the formal identification brings closure to a year-and-a-half old case... and, allows the family to have some closure, as well.  Some hunters located the remains off Boutwell Hill Road... on the border of the towns of Charlotte and Cherry Creek.

 

A grease build-up under a meat smoker is the apparent cause of last Sunday's fire at a business in the town of Portland.  The Chautauqua County Fire Investigation Team revealed the cause late this (Tuesday) afternoon for the blaze... which was called in from 58-87 Route 5 shortly before Noon last Sunday.  Fire crews from Brocton were joined at the scene by firefighters from Portland, East and West Dunkirk, Westfield and the Chautauqua County Emergency Services Department.  The former barn used for the business was extensively damaged.

 

New York's attorney general says 30 online retailers have agreed to stop selling realistic toy guns in New York.  The settlements announced Tuesday follow July letters to the retailers from across the U.S. who were selling the imitation weapons through an Amazon-dot-COM platform for third-party retailers.  Attorney General Eric  Schneiderman says the toys in question violate a New York law against sales here.  The law requires toy guns sold to be brightly colored or have colored striping down the barrel.  His investigation found 1,337 were sold in New York City.  This summer, retailers including Wal-Mart, Sears, Kmart and Amazon agreed to keep realistic toy guns off their shelves in New York in an earlier settlement.  In November... a Cleveland police officer fatally shot a 12-year-old holding a realistic-looking toy gun.

 

 

 

 

 


 

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WJTN News Headlines

The Jamestown Board of Public Utilities argued and debated a series of potential cuts to the board's Water Division to avoid a projected 12-percent rate increase next year.  The BPU is considering the increase in the wake of a management recommendation to make the full, 482-thousand dollar dividend payment to the city from the Water Division.  Mayor Sam Teresi... who is President by virture of office... of the BPU, laid out a number of potential cuts during open session of Monday's three-hour meeting.  BPU General Manager Dave Leathers says that 12-percent is the outcome based on a proposed 2.7-percent hike without the dividend payment. The board... tentatively... gave vocal approval to several projected cuts -- totaling about 175-thousand dollars.  However... there are several others that will be looked at before next week's meeting.  Prior to the added dividend payment to the city... Leathers says BPU Management looked at Water rate hikes of 3-percent next year, 5-percent in 2017... and, 4-percent in 2018.  However... with the dividend payment, they looked at doing that all next year.  Leathers says an increase is needed because nearly a quarter of their revenues are paid out in taxes, or tax equivalent payments. 

 

Temperatures have been more "Spring-like" the past few days... but, that's all changing as we head into the day today as a strong cold front crossed the region overnight.  Meteorologist Jim Mitchell of the National Weather Service in Buffalo says the record high that dated back more than 100 years went bye-bye Monday morning.
Actually... the new record for December 14th will be 71-degrees in Buffalo... which was set shortly before 1 PM yesterday.  Strong winds were possible through mid-day today after the cold front moved through... and, that's the main reason for continuation of a Wind Advisory.  Mitchell says the winds could bring down some tree limbs across the region through late morning today.  They'll later calm down.  Once the cold front moved across the area... Mitchell says winds were to pick up again... and, temperatures were to fall into the 40s.

 

Top New York officials are asking the federal government to help the state to block people on the terror watch list from legal gun purchases.  U-S Senator Charles Schumer and Governor Andrew Cuomo said Sunday that the federal government does not currently give states access to classified background information about suspects on its terror watch list.  They say that's a dangerous loophole.  Cuomo and Schumer also say New York should be able to do criminal background checks on people who are on the watch list.

 

While state officials have called for not allowing people on "no-fly" or "Terrorist Watch" lists to be able to buy guns legally... Congressional Republicans have rejected efforts to do so.  Among those Republican's is Corning's Tom Reed... who feels a lot of the support for such a measure favor gun-control in general.  Reed says the second-amendment is a "fundamental right..." and, says such legislation "misses the point...." There has been a huge increase in the number of people buying guns in the United States since the attack in San Bernadino, California... and, even before that in Paris.  Reed says he doesn't condon those who buy up guns with evil intentions by any means.  He says they "abuse the right" to bear arms.  Reed made his comments during his weekly telephone conference call with Southern Tier Media.

 

The investigation is continuing into the cause of a fire late Sunday morning at a reported meat processing shop in the town of Portland.  Sheriff's Department dispatchers say crews from nearly a half dozen departments responded to the structure fire on Route 5 just before Noon Sunday.  Crews from Brocton, with mutual aid from Portland, East and West Dunkirk, Westfield and County Emergency Services responded to the blaze at 58-87 Route 5.  There are reports of extensive damage to the former barn.  Again... the cause remains under investigation.

 

The federal prosecutor who won political corruption convictions of two of New York most powerful lawmakers says both recently completed trials publicly exposed a ``deep culture problem'' in the state Legislature.  In an interview with The New York Times... U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said the trials of ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Leader Dean Skelos showed the public and others seeking reform in Albany what needs to be addressed.  Bharara said those issues include lawmakers' ability to earn outside income, a lack of transparency and weak disclosure requirements.  Skelos and his son Adam were convicted of federal corruption charges last Friday.  Back on November 30th... Silver was found guilty of trading favors for $4 million in kickbacks.  Bharara says the trials revealed how Skelos and Silver ``went about their daily corrupt business with barely a thought about it.''

 

Many New Yorkers have lost faith in a state government that's been embroiled in one corruption scandal after another.  But... instead of merely complaining, they'll soon have a chance to tear it all down and start over.  Voters will be asked in 2017 whether the state should hold a constitutional convention to consider fundamental changes to its 121-year-old state Constitution.

 

 


 

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WJTN News Headlines

A lawmaker in New York says the state should prohibit anyone on the federal no-fly list or terrorist watch list from purchasing a gun and any firearms they already have should be confiscated.  Democratic Senator Jeff Klein of the Bronx said Friday he will introduce legislation to make the change, which he said is necessary after the recent attacks in Paris and San Bernardino.  Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy said Thursday he wants to ban gun sales to those on the federal lists.  He says the state is working to get access to the databases in order to implement the policy.  Klein's proposal is alread running into opposition from gun-rights groups.  It would also require the support and assistance of the Obama administration.

 

Electrical issues caused by lighting for an illegal marijuana-growing operation led county drug investigators to arrest a Mayville man on several drug related charges.  Sheriff's officers say they were called... along with Mayville firefighters... to a structure fire at 57 Morris Street just after 5 AM last October 29th.  The fire was put out quickly... and, deputies say investigators, and, members of the Southern Tier Regional Drug Task Force, were called to the scene.  They determined the cause... and, found a quantity of marijuana-growing equipment, and some pot was seized.  Once the evidence was reviewed... Task Force members charged 41 year-old Michael Monroe of Apartment-#1 with one count each of Unlawfully Growing Cannibis, and second-degree Criminal Possession of Marijuana.  Monroe was issued appearance tickets for Chautauqua Town Court today.  If you see any illegal narcotics-related activity in your area... call the Task Force at 1-800-344-8702.

 

The goals and focus of the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency has changed in recent years due to changes in manufacturing.  The IDA now works with a number of industrial sectors to bring... or expand business locally.  That from IDA Administrative Director Kevin Sanvidge... who was keynote speaker at the county Chamber of Commerce's Annual Meeting in Jamestown last Friday.  Sanvidge high-lighted a number of activities the IDA has been involved with.  He says the big one in during his 18 months at the helm has been tourism. Sanvidge says another area they've been involved with a lot in the past few months is Agriculture.  He says that remains a major part of Chautauqua County... but, he says some second and third-generation families are deciding not to be involved because it's become so difficult.  That's why the county hosted it's first-ever Ag Summit... put together by Senior Planner Don McCord.  Sanvidge also expressed optimism that the repowering project at the NRG Plant in Dunkirk will happen.

 

It will likely be several months before work begins on a 16-million dollar capital project in the Cassadaga Valley School District.  School officials say they are pleased with the outcome... as the project was approved, 166-to-50.  Cassadaga Valley Superintendent Charles Leichner (Lek-Ner) says they can now begin work on final plans for the project. Leichner thanked district residents for their support... adding that the School Board worked very hard on the project... and to create a proposition that addresses a number of issues in the district at the lowest dollar amount.

 

Cities and towns around New York state will receive 4.5-million dollars in federal funding to enhance anti-terrorism efforts and emergency preparedness.  Governor Andrew Cuomo and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced the funding last weekend.  The money comes from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  Some 2-million dollars will go to help local law enforcement agencies pay for equipment and training for responding to potential mass shootings.  Several cities and towns will receive up to $100,000 each under the program.  Another $2 million will support equipment and training for urban search and rescue operations.  The final $500,000 will help several cities prepare for attacks at government-owned sites.

 


With less than a month to go before a new mayor takes over in the village of Fredonia, the transition is well underway.  Mayor Steve Keefe, who is leaving office at the end of the month, says he is working closely with Mayor-Elect Dr. Athanasia Landis and it's been a smooth transition. Dr. Landis, who will become the village's first woman mayor, says she is excited about becoming mayor, but is also realizing there are a lot of complex issues facing the village.  She says many people, though, are working to improve those situations.  Keefe is completing four years at the helm... and, says he will be available to help assist Dr. Landis when she takes office.  The Inauguration will be held on January 1st.

 

Hamilton College in upstate New York has named University of Minnesota Law School Dean David Wippman to be its 20th president.   Wippman will succeed Joan Hinde-Stewart, who is retiring next June 30th, after 13 years as president.  Wippman is an authority on international law.  He has a bachelor's degree from Princeton, and a master's in English Literature and law degree, both from Yale.  Among his previous positions... Wippman was a professor and administrator at Cornell from 1992 to 2008.  Stephen Sadove, chairman of the Hamilton board of trustees, said one of Wippman's strengths is ``enthusiasm for the liberal arts.''  Chartered in 1812, Hamilton is the third oldest college in New York. It enrolls 1,850 students.

 

Santa and Mrs. Claus arrived in Jamestown by rail, promptly at 11 AM Saturday, to the music of the Madrigal Singers of the JHS Acappella Choir. Bounding down the steps of a Western New York and Pennsylvania Railroad caboose, Santa hugged the choir director, the mayor, and several others... before going upstairs in the Gateway Station to meet waiting children.  They weren't the only ones whose spirits were soaring.  Kylie Mc Laughlin, General Manager of the WNYP Railroad said it was very exciting to see everyone's reaction. Station manager, Lee Harkness, said several hundred children and their families had gathered at the station for 'Jamestown's version of the Polar Express'.

 

An hour later, the mood was much different at Lakeview Cemetery. Former U.S. Air Force Member Julie Freed sang the National Anthem for Wreaths Across America.  Soldiers Circle was filled with the fragrance of pine, as a group of 75 volunteers laid 220 wreaths on headstones there.  The Jamestown version of the national event is coordinated by the local chapter of the Civil Air Patrol, led by Captain Todd Hanson. Some of the wreaths placed were hand made by people in the Jamestown area.  This is the 8th year that Wreaths Across America has taken place in Jamestown.  Captain Hanson says their goal is to get enough support to place a wreath on all the graves at Soldiers Circle, and perhaps one day... all the veterans buried at Lakeview Cemetery. 

 

 

 

 

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WJTN News Headlines

 

A Jamestown man has been arrested for allegedly making and selling Methamphetime from a home on the city's eastside.  City Police Captain Bob Samuelson says members of the Jamestown Metro Drug Task Force... and, state Police C-NET Team... raided the home at 221 East Eighth Street shortly before 7 AM Friday.  Samuelson says investigators found materials used to manufacture Meth... and, a quantity of Methamphetime inside.  He says they arrested 39 year-old Harry Radke was arrested for third-degree unlawful manufacture of Methamphetime... and second-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.  Samuelson says the State Police C-C-SERT Team was also called in to secure the dangerous chemicals used. 
 
 
The Jamestown Metro Drug Task Force has taken another Heroin dealer... who was also in possession of a loaded hand-gun... off the streets.  Captain Samuelson says the task force... and, State Police C-NET Team... raided the lower apartment at 15 Stowe Street about 3:45 PM Thursday... and, arrested 26 year-old Mario Adams.  Samuelson says they found a loaded, 22-calibur hand-gun... and, about 4-grams of Heroin, and, two dozen Methadone pills. Samuelson says it's a "good day" for law enforcement when they get a loaded hand-gun off the streets.  He adds that the serial number on the hand-gun had been filed off... which may result in federal charges.  Samuelson says Adams was arraigned on charges including two counts of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance... and, sent to the county jail without bail.  Anyone with information on illegal drug trafficking in the city is urged to call the Metro Drug Task Force Tip-line at 483-TIPS... that's 483-8477.
 
A Jamestown man is jailed without bail for allegedly selling quantities of cocaine to undercover police in recent weeks.  Agents with the Southern Tier Regional Drug Task Force say they arrested 36 year-old Scott Meachum early Friday during a raid at 932 East Second Street on an arrest warrant out of Ellicott Town Court.  Task Force members say Meachum had been trafficking cocaine in the village of Falconer.  He was arraigned on one count each of third-degree criminal sale and possession of a controlled substance.  He was then sent to the county lock-up.  The Task Force asks anyone with information on illegal narcotics trafficking in the area to call 1-800-344-8702.
 
The Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency is using now using outcomes data to measure it's success in four different areas.  That from IDA Director Kevin Sanvidge... who was the keynote speaker at Friday afternoon's annual meeting of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce at Moonbrook Country Club in Jamestown.  Sanvidge talked about how the IDA worked, and the projects they've been working on.  He then outlined the "scorecard" they now go by.  Sanvidge says the first benchmark is working to increase the tax base. Sanvidge says they're trying to expand that base by 1.1-percent each year.  He adds that the second is building sales tax off the tourism, and other related industries.  The others are expanding the number of people working... and, cutting unemployment.  He says they are looking at expanding "everything" from manufacturing to tourism.  Sanvidge says his agency has a number of ways to attract new business... and, get ones already here to expand.  He says the major one is through low-interest loans from the Al Tech Revolving Loan Fund.
 
 
Chautauqua County did "extremely well" in the latest round of Regional Economic Development Council and Upstate Revitalization Initiative awards were issued this past Thursday.  That from County Executive Vince Horrigan... who says the awards were webcasted around the state.  Western New York didn't get the largest share of funding among the 10 regions... but, the 83.9-million dollars in REDC funding will help dozens of projects in the region.  Horrigan says a wide variety of local projects were supported. More than two dozen projects in Chautauqua County were awarded R-E-D-C funding.  The largest went to the National Comedy Center in Jamestown... which received just over 2-million dollars in funding.
 
Former state Senate leader Dean Skelos (SKEH'-lohs) has been convicted of charges that the once-powerful Republican used his office to extort about 300-thousand dollars in salary and other benefits for his son.  A federal jury in Manhattan reached the verdict Friday after a public corruption trial that featured wiretap recordings of unvarnished conversations between Skelos and his only child, Adam.  Adam Skelos was also found guilty in the case.  Prosecutors said the tapes were proof the pair schemed behind the scenes to pressure three companies into agreeing to employ his 33-year-old son.

Some unseasonably warm weather is has moved into western New York... and, Chautauqua County... that will last through the weekend and possibly into Monday.  The National Weather Service reports a warm front moving through overnight that will bring temperatures in the 60s this weekend.  Forecaster Jim Mitchell says the war

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WJTN News Headlines

Five people have been arrested -- and two face Felony charges -- after police broke up a Methaphetime trafficking and sales operation in the village of Falconer.  Jamestown Police Captain Bob Samuelson says members of the Jamestown Metro Drug Task Force were joined by State Police C-NET Team members in raiding two locations in a mobile home park in Falconer early Wednesday afternoon.  Samuelson says they were assisted by the JPD SWAT Team. Samuelson says they arrested the two primary actors in the operation at Lot-#8... identified as 34 year-old Christopher John... and, 28 year-old Jacob Meier of Falconer.  He says they also found 19 year-old Savanna Myers in the trailer at Lot-#17.  A short time earlier... Samuelson says police arrested two other women... 27 year-old Angela Wicks and 20 year-old Samantha Myers... during a vehicle stop.  He says both had several hypodermic needles... and, three pipes in their possession.  Samuelson says both John and Meier face third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance... while the others face basic possession charges.  If you have any information on illegal narcotics trafficking... call the Metro Task Force at 483-TIPS... that's 483-8477.

 

Medical examiners are working to positively identify the skeletal remains found by hunters Wednesday of a man on state Forest land in eastern Chautauqua County.  Sheriff Joe Gerace says they believe they know who the person is... but, he adds they are awaiting confirmation first.  Gerace says the hunters located the remains late yesterday morning off Boutwell Hill Road -- on the border of the towns of Charlotte and Cherry Creek.  He says the remains have been turned over to the Erie County Medical Examiners Office. Gerace says officers reported the grizzly discovery was made by hunters around 10:40 AM Wednesday.  He says deputies were assisted at the scene by the Chautauqua County Forensic Team... Lakewood-Busti Police... and, the county's Emergency Services Department.  Support was also provided by state Forest Rangers, the state Department of Environmental Conservation... and, the Mercyhurst Forensic Anthropology Team.

 

Quick work by firefighters from several departments saved much of a pallet maker's operation in the town of Sherman Wednesday afternoon.  Sherman... Clymer... Findley Lake... Panama... and Ashville fire crews were called to the scene at Troyer Incorporated at 2010 Clymer Hill Road a little after 3:30 PM.  County fire investigators say the blaze was found to have originated in a utility wash room where a freezer was plugged in.  They say a pump switch had apparently broken down, triggering the blaze behind the freezer.  No injuries were reported... and, the flames were confined to the area around that freezer.  Crews were at the scene until shortly after 7 PM.

 

Chautauqua County Sheriff Joe Gerace says he is "pro-second amendment..." and has worked hard to ensure that a large majority of permit holders in the county get "unrestricted permits."  With that... Gerace says he has no problem with experienced firearms owners carrying their guns.  However... he says he's not going to encourage someone to carry just because they have a permit.  The issue has come to the forefront due to recent statements made by the sheriff's in Ulster and Sullivan Counties. Gerace adds, though, that carrying a firearm is a "very serious" decision, and is the carrier has a responsibility not only themself... but, to those around them.  He adds that if you have a permit to carry... know your firearm well through training.  He adds that also means being knowledgeable of the law regarding 'use of force.'  Gerace says that's in Article 35 of the New York State Penal law that details where such force can be used.  He says you must have "the mindset" to use your firearm lawfully if needed.  He adds that while he urges all of his deputies to carry when they're off-duty... he won't mandate it.

 

New York state announced the winners of Governor Andrew Cuomo's regional economic development contest on Thursday.  The winning three regions in what some have called Cuomos' "Hunger Games" will each receive 500-million dollars over five years -- on top of regular economic development funds -- to spur the local economy.  The Western New York Region received 83.9-million dollars... and several projects were here in the western Southern Tier.  The Mohawk Valley led the way, receiving 100.3-million dollars.  Long Island was second with 98.3-million.
 


Chautauqua County has received several monitary awards during the latest round of funding from Governor Cuomo's Regional Economic Development Council program.  Among those is just over 2-million dollars for the National Comedy Center.  Comedy Center Board Chairman Tom Benson says the additional money follows last year's 1.5-million dollar award from Empire State Development.  Benson says "the additional 20-million- 25-thousand dollars in grant funding that we received today is a clear indication of the state’s belief in and support for the National Comedy Center, and that the partnership that we established last year is strong and long lasting."  Center Director Journey Gunderson adds that "these funds are part of the critical capstone for this 50-million dollar project.  This is a true public-private partnership, and comedy will now have the world-class celebration of artists and art form that is long overdue." IN addition to the National Comedy Center... State Senator Cathy Young's office says 1.9-million dollars has been awarded for the proposed Chautauqua Harbor Destination Hotel in Celoron.. and 980-thousand dollars has been awarded to the Manufacturing Technology Institute at Jamestown Community College.  Another 500-thousand dollars will go towards the renovation of the former W-T Grant Department Store building in downtown Jamestown.  A restaurant and micro-brewery is being eye for that location.

 

Work has begun in demolishing a long-abandoned building in the village of Westfield.  After a recent meeting of several agencies including the village of Westfield... and, the Chautauqua County Land Bank Corporation, a decision was made to take down the Portage Inn.  Executive Director Mark Geise with the county's Land Bank says it has become an emergency situation. Geise says funding from the county's landbank will help cover the costs of the demolition... as well as covering it up until remains can taken to the county landfill.  The village of Westfield will provide in-kind services and will use landfill credits provided by the County to cover the tipping fees associated with the building's demolition.  The Portage Inn has been closed since 1999.

 

The owner of the Frewsburg Rest Home is giving 11-thousand dollars to the Meyers Memorial Library to close a budget gap in 2016.  Nick Ferreri... who also owns Tanglewood Manor in West Ellicott... presented the check at a ceremony at the library in Frewsburg Thursday morning. Meyers Library Board President, Mel Feather, says the 11-thousand dollar figure is a big part of their over 70-thousand dollar budget.  Feather says an anonymous donor had proviced that money.  Nick Ferreri's 'Tanglewood Group' acquired the Frewsburg Rest Home in March of 2014.  In recent years Ferreri has also made contributions to the Frewsburg Fire Company, The Relief Zone, and WCA Hospital. 

 

A New York City man who ran for governor on the claim that ``the rent is too damn high'' is stepping away from politics.  The New York Times reports that 69-year-old Jimmy McMillan has announced his retirement from politics, citing a lack of support for his agenda.  McMillan says in a news release dated Tuesday that voters were ``totally brainwashed'' and criticized elected officials for not securing rent reduction for city residents.  McMillan won about 41,000 votes out of more than four million cast in the 2010 gubernatorial race.  He also ran for mayor.  He says the Rent Is Too Damn High Party is for sale, ``trademark and all.''  His attorney, Vincent Imbesi, says his client hopes to gain financially from stepping away from his one-man political party.  


 

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WJTN News Headlines

The Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the discovery of male skeletal remains found in the Boutwell Hill State Forest lands between the towns of Cherry Creek and Charlotte.  Deputies report the grizzly discovery was made by hunters around 10:40 yesterday morning.  Sheriff’s Officer were assisted at the scene by the Chautauqua County Forensic Team, Lakewood-Busti Police Department, county Emergency Services Department... state Forest Rangers, the state Department of Environmental Conservation... and, the Mercyhurst Forensic Anthropology Team.  The investigation is continuing.

 

A Jamestown man is now jailed without bail for allegedly murdering his wife and step-son at their home on the city's eastside.  City Police Captain Bob Samuelson says officers were called to the scene at 235 Barrows Street shortly after 8 AM Tuesday.  Samuelson says 51 year-old Allen Witruke of the 235 Barrows Street address was formally arraigned today on two felony counts. Samuelson also released the cause of death for both... but, would not reveal a possible motive.  He did say one victim suffered from blunt force trauma injuries.  Samuelson adds that both Catherine Witruke, and Eric Washburn suffered multiple stab wounds during the incident.  They were pronounced dead at the scene... and, autopsy's are being performed at the Erie County Medical Examiner's Office.  Police Chief Harry Snellings says officers were investigating a "suspicious situation."  Snellings later confirmed that a dog had been seized from the house... but, would not confirm reports of other dead animals inside the home.
Chief Snellings adds that the suspect... Allen Witrucke (Wit-TRUCK)... was found with his car -- a 2009 Chevy Impala -- in Olean about mid-afternoon Tuesday.  He would not say if Witruke had said anything to police.  The victims were the first two homicide deaths of the year in Jamestown.

 

An accidental fire has destroyed a two-story rental home on the village of Lakewood's westside.  Lakewood Fire Chief Kurt Hallberg says village crews were called to the scene at 9-and-a-half Clark Street just after 12:30 AM yesterday.  On arrival... Hallberg says they found heavy fire coming from the windows... and, out the roof.  He says it took about half-an-hour to bring the blaze under control. Hallberg says they also had to protect the house in front -- at 9 Clark Street -- from the flames just a few feet away.  He says they hit that side with water... but, there was some minimal damage to an eave on the home.  He says a man living at 9-and-a-half Clark called in the alarm after trying to put out the fire himself.  The victim suffered some minor smoke inhalation.  Lakewood was joined at the scene by Celoron and Busti firefighters.  Hallberg says firefighters were at the scene until about 4:20 AM.  Again... the cause has been determined to be accidental.

 

A coalition of public health groups and supporters of less punitive approaches to illegal drug use says New York should consider allowing heroin users to inject themselves in supervised settings to prevent overdoses.  The group includes advocates from the Drug Policy Alliance, the New York Academy of Medicine and VOCAL New York.  In a statement Tuesday... the coalition says supervised injection sites would place users under the watchful eyes of health workers who could intervene in case of an overdose.  They want health officials in New York City and at the state level to create such sites, which they say have been successful in curbing drug deaths elsewhere in the world.  Critics say supervised injection sites can be unsafe and send mixed messages about illegal drug use.

 

Chautauqua County's Congressman was among the overwhelming majority who voted late yesterday to tighten "visa waiver" requirements for 38 countries -- including Iraq and Syria.  The move was in the wake of late week's terrorist attack in San Bernadino, California... and, in Paris, France before that.  Corning Republican Tom Reed says the legislation is aimed at countries deemed "hot spots" for terrorist activities.  Reed says the program needed to be moderized. Reed calls the proposal a "common sense" approach way to add another layer of security to the nation because people from those countries could travel here for up to 90 days without a visa.  Meantime... the Congressman joined the chorus of Republicans denouncing comments by GOP Presidential front-runner Donald Trump... who says all Muslims should be kept out of the country until it's leaders have a 'better handle' on what's happening.  Most GOP candidates have also condemned Trump's statement.  Reed made his comments for his weekly telephone conference call with Southern Tier Media.

 

Three advocacy groups are calling for a 15-dollar an hour statewide minimum wage that would apply to New York's nonprofits as well as additional funding in government contracts to cover it.  The Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, the Fiscal Policy Institute and the Human Services Council say they're leading a campaign to make $15 the minimum for all low-wage workers.  New York's minimum for most workers is set to increase from $8.75 to $9 an hour at the end of the year.  The groups say roughly 2,500 nonprofits in New York rely on state contracts to provide essential services to people, and additional contract funding would be needed to prevent an unfunded mandate that would cut services.

 

Work has been completed on a major, 75-million dollar project at a downstate exit for Route 17 that's part of the ongoing effort to upgrade the highway to federal interstate standards.  State officials announced Tuesday that the three-year project to reconstruct Exit 122 in the Orange County town of Wallkill is finished.  The work included building a new bridge across the highway and realigning nearby streets.  The state is making improvements along the highway as it transitions to Interstate 86 along its entire 380-mile length from the Pennsylvania border in western New York to the junction with the state Thruway at Harriman.  More than 200 miles of Route 17 has already been re-designated I-86, including the eastern half of the highway from Chautauqua County to the Elmira area.

 

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is turning to a veteran administrator to serve as interim president of Edinboro University.  The state-owned system announced Wednesday that David Werner will take the reins on January 19th.  He's chancellor emeritus of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, and has been interim president at two other state system schools, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Mansfield University.  Werner is taking over from Julie Wollman, who's leaving after nearly four years to become president of Widener University in Chester.  Edinboro, about 20 miles south of Erie, has 5,200 undergrads and 1,300 graduate students.

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News Update! for Wed., Dec. 9, 2015

Double homicide victims in Jamestown identified; suspect being arraigned on murder charges...

Jamestown police have now identified the victims of yesterday's double homicide on the city's eastside as the wife and step-son of the man accused in their murders.  City Police Captain Bob Samuelson also says 51 year-old Allen Witruke of the 235 Barrows Street address is being arraigned this morning on two counts of second-degree murder in the case.  Samuelson would only say that 52 year-old Catherine Witruke and 34 year-old Eric Washburn died of blunt force trauma and multiple stab wounds.  Both victims were pronounced dead at the scene by a county coroner.  Police Chief Harry Snellings says officers were called to the scene about 8:15 yesterday morning to investigate a "suspicious situation." 

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WJTN News Update

A Jamestown man suspected in the deaths of two city residents has been arrested in Cattaraugus County... but, police are offering little more information.  City Police Chief Harry Snellings updated their investigation from the scene at 235 Barrows Street late yesterday afternoon.  Snellings says officers were called to the eastside location early Tuesday morning. Snellings says the suspect... 51 year-old Allen Witrucke (Wit-TRUCK)... was found with his car -- a 2009 Chevy Impala -- in Olean about mid-afternoon.  First Assistant District Attorney John Zuroski (Zur-ah-ski) would not say when specific charges may be placed against the suspect.  Zuroski says need to fully-review the facts in the case first.  Snellings says city police investigators went to Olean to interview Witrucke... but, he won't say if the suspect has said anything to authorities yet.  He says they are not identifying the victims yet because not all of the next of kin have been notified.  If you have any information on the case... you're asked to call the JPD Tip-line at 483-TIPS... that's 483-8477.

 

The Robert H. Jackson Center has announced Susan Murphy of Chautauqua as its next Executive Director.  Murphy became familiar with the center and its work through Dan Bratton... a longtime Chautauqua President.
Murphy says her intial goals include making sure the Jackson Center's programs are 'well thought out and well funded'.  And, she wants to expand the educational mission of the center... saying Jackson's approach to justice has great relevance today. Susan Murphy most recently was Director of External Affairs for the Detroit Country Day School in Michigan. She replaces interim Executive Director Tom Schmidt, who took over for former Director Jim Johnson earlier this year.  Susan's husband, George Murphy, is the Chief Marketing Officer at Chautauqua Institution. 

 

Dunkirk Police are continuing to investigate the fatal crash that occurred early Sunday on Maple Avenue.  However... they are now identifying the victim of the accident.  Police say the driver of the vehicle reportedly fled on foot... and, at last report was still at large.  However... officials say they are still following leads in the case.  The passenger in the vehicle later died at Brooks Memorial Hospital.  Police Chief David Ortolano released the victim's identity late yesterday. The vehicle involved in the crash was initially being pursued by Fredonia Police.  Anyone with information about the crash should contact Dunkirk Police at 366-2266... or the department's confidential tip line at 363-0313.  The New York State Police Accident Reconstruction Team is assisting with the investigation.

 

A Westfield man has been arrested for allegedly stealing a number of items -- including a car -- from a home on Route 430 in the town of Ellery late last month.  Sheriff's officers say they arrested 26 year-old David Ralph of Cass Street a short time later in Mayville.  Deputies were called to the scene about 3:30 AM on November 27th.  Officers say a flat screen TV... and, the resident's 2008 Chrysler P-T Cruiser were all taken.  Ralph was found -- with the vehicle -- a short time later on Elmwood Road.  Officers say all the property taken during the burglary was recovered.  They say Ralph has now been arraigned in Ellery Town Court on charges of second-degree burglary, and fourth-degree grand larceny... and, sent to the county jail on 10-thousand dollars bail.

 

Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi has issued no vetos to the 35.1-million dollar, 2016 budget that city council approved at it's November 30th voting session.  Teresi had until the end of the business day Monday to make any vetos to the budget plan.  He adds there were only two places he could actually veto because they were the only two changes made to the spending plan.  The budget includes a 4-percent tax increase.  It was at 5.6-percent prior to the changes approved by lawmakers. Teresi says that increase was an additional 232-thousand dollars dividend payment form the BPU.  That's in addition to the 250-thousand dollars that Teresi first budgeted for 2016.  Members of the business community have been outspoken in their opposition to the proposal.  The increase brought the total dividend payment... from BPU profits... to the current year's level of 482-thousand dollars.  Teresi says the changes made were "reasonable, defendable and explainable."  He adds they also were not going to have an "adverse impact on the overall budget."  As he has in recent years, though, Teresi did not sign the budget.  However... with no vetos... it will automatically take effect on January 1st.

 

In closing arguments at a corruption of former New York Senate leader Dean Skelos... a prosecutor says Skelos bullied companies to benefit his son.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Rahul Mukhi (MOO'-kee) said in Manhattan federal yesterday that Skelos ``strong-armed'' three companies to force them to pay his son 300-thousand dollars.  The prosecutor said the 57-year-old Republican was in lockstep with his 33-year-old son, Adam, as he violated the law and abused his powerful state post.  Both have pleaded not guilty.  Their lawyers say they will be vindicated.  Skelos has retained his Senate seat but relinquished his leadership position.  Defense lawyers are scheduled to deliver closings Wednesday.  The summations cap a three-week trial that's featured numerous recordings of father-son phone conversations as well as chats between the defendants and others.

 

Catholic Charities of Buffalo held open houses in the north and south county yesterday to celebrate their newest local service.  The organization will run the Women Infants and Children program -- otherwise known as WIC.  Catholic Charities took over the program from the county's Health and Human Services Department in October... and, continues to operate offices in Dunkirk and Jamestown.  Judette Dahleiden, the Catholic Charities WIC program director, says 50-percent of the U-S population would benefit from WIC. Tish Brady, Catholic Charities Chief Operating Officer, says they have been handling WIC in Erie and Niagara counties for years... and will be applying their experience to the Chautauqua County programs in Jamestown and Dunkirk.  Brady says they've been doing emergency assistance and offering parenting help.  She adds that WIC suppliments that.  They will continue to work closely with the Chautauqua County's Health and Human Services Department and in Dunkirk with Lake Erie Medical Services.  WIC has offices at 326 Central Avenue in Dunkirk and 200 Harrison Street in Jamestown.

 

An open house to learn more about the new Essential Air Service carrier at the Chautauqua County Airport near Jamestown was held last night.  The Chautauqua Regional Economic Development Corporation will be hosted the first "Shuttle to the Stars" event at the Robert H. Jackson Center.  County Executive Vince Horrigan was among those on hand to welcome Sun Air Express as the county's new "low-cost" airline.  Horrigan was among several officials who recently took a flight to Pittsburgh. Horrigan says after a "rough start..." Sun Air has been using new 'Caravan' Aircraft... which are an upgrade from the Navajo they had used at first.  He adds their reliability has also improved.  In addition... Horrigan says the connection area for the lower-cost carriers in Pittsburgh is much improved... and, adds there is great shopping now around the "hub" area.  For more information about Sun Air and what they offer check them out on-line or... call 661-8906.

 

Authorities say a father and son stole more than $40,000 worth of chicken wings from the Syracuse restaurant where they worked and sold them on the street or to other businesses.  The Onondaga County Sheriff's Office says 56-year-old Paul Rojek and 33-year-old Joshua Rojek, both of Syracuse, were caught stealing wings from the Twin Trees Too Restaurant in Syracuse.  Deputies say both men were employed as cooks when they placed numerous chicken wing orders with the restaurant's wholesaler.  Officials say the Rojeks would later pick up the orders and resell them at a reduced price.  Deputies say the men billed about 41-thousand dollars worth of wing orders to the restaurant's account between last February and November 21st.  Both have been charged with grand larceny and falsifying business records. 

 

 

 

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News Update! for Tues., Dec. 8, 2015

(**Update)Double Homicide suspect arested in Olean; no names released of victims in the case...

A Jamestown man suspected of being involved in the deaths of two city residents has been arrested in Cattaraugus County... but, police are offering little more information late today.  City Police Chief Harry Snellings updated their investigation from the scene at 235 Barrows St late this afternoon.  Snellings says officers were called to the eastside location shortly after 8 this morning.  He says they received a call of a "suspcious situation," and upon checking the situation, found the two people dead inside.  Snellings says the suspect... 51 year-old Allen Witrucke... was found with his car -- a 2009 Chevy Impala -- in Olean about mid-afternoon.  First Assistant District Attorney John Zurowski would not say when specific charges may be placed against the suspect.  Snellings says City Police investigators have gone to Olean to interview Witrucke... but, he won't say if the suspect has said anything yet.  He says they are not identifying the victims yet because not all of the next of kin have been notified.  If you have any information on the case... you're asked to call Jamestown police at 483-7537.  You can also call their Tip-line at 483-TIPS... that's 483-8477.


 

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News Alert! for Tues., Dec. 8, 2015

**ALERT!! -- Jamestown police investigating double homicide, looking for alleged suspect...

Jamestown police are searching for a city man in connection with a double-homcide on the city's eastside.  City Police Captain Bob Samuelson says police were initially called to 235 Barrows Street shortly after 8 this morning.  Samuelson says they are looking for 51 year-old Allen (correct) Witruke... who is believed to be driving a 2009 Chevy Impala with the New York license plate number GTY 5855.  He says Witruke's whereabouts are unknown right now... but, adds he may be on his way to Wisconsin.  If you have any information on Witruke's location... contact local police... or Jamestown police at 483-7537.

 

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WJTN News Headlines

A very successful peer-to-peer counseling program for veterans who served in combat... or have other issues... is being launched in Chautauqua County.  State Senator Cathy Young was at the county's Veteran's Services Agency in Jamestown to announce a 185-thousand dollar state grant to establish a local branch of the "PFC Joseph Dwyer Peer-to-Peer Veteran's Support Program."  Young says the program is for veteran's of any foreign conflict suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder... Traumatic Brain Injury... or similar problems. Young says the Dwyer Program has six goals in mind.  Those include pursuing outreach and education... providing peer-to-peer support... building resiliency among veterens... encouraging a connection between vets, their families, friends and the community... providing access to suicide prevention and intervention... and, fostering an atmosphere of hope.  Veteran's Services Director Gary Chilcotte says he will now seek a director... and, once they get that person... get the program up and running in about 60 to 90-days.  Young says it's a vital program because an estimated 22 U-S Veterans commit suicide daily. 

 

The Warren County, Pennsylvania woman killed in a single-car crash on Ivory Road in the Frewsburg-area early Sunday morning was not driving.  Sheriff Joe Gerace says 39 year-old Chalise Hebner of Stoney Run Road in Pittsfield died at the scene of the crash.  Gerace says the crash occured shorlty before 3 AM... when the alleged driver -- 36 year-old John Hillman, Junior of Jamestown... lost control of the eastbound vehicle.  The car then went off the road... sticking a sign and several mailboxes... before hitting the ditch on each side of the road.  The car then overturned.  Gerace says Hillman and two other passengers were treated at WCA Hospital for their injuries.  The investigation is conitnuing.

 

City lawmakers will vote later this month on hiring a new laborer for the Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation to keep staffing at required levels.  That from City Councilman Tony Dolce... who chairs the panel's Finance Committee.  Dolce says lawmakers will have to agree to lift the on-going hiring freeze.  Mayor Sam Teresi reminded lawmakers that they have to fill the position... or be in violation of the city's manning agreement with the union. Dolce says the new laborer would replace a person who has retired.  He adds the position is already funded in the 2016 budget.  The resolution says the position is needed to "effectively manage the city's day-to-day responsibilities in a cost-effective manner."  City lawmakers will also vote on establishing another Neighborhood Watch Committee.  Public Safety Committee Chairwoman Maria Jones says this one will cover the upper area of Dearborn Street.  Jones says the lower area is already part of one.

 

Governor Andrew Cuomo plans to address New York lawmakers in mid-January with proposals for 2016 initiatives and a budget for the fiscal year that starts in April.  The speech on January 13th will combine the governor's state of the state address with his executive budget presentation.  Traditionally governors' budget proposals follow the address by weeks.  Cuomo said Monday that it makes little sense to lay out a vision and let everyone wait weeks to learn the plan to pay for it.  He says that's in line with his administration's approach to re-examine everything in state government, keep what works and fix what doesn't.

 

Chautauqua County's top cop was featured last night during a two-hour long special on the History Channel about famous American prison breaks.  Sheriff Joe Gerace was on a segment dealing with the prison break, and manhunt for convicted cop-killer Ralph "Bucky" Phillips in 2006.  Gerace says he met with History Channel producers here and in Buffalo over the past Summer. Gerace says the History Channel crew met with him at a special studio in Buffalo... then they came to Chautauqua County for an interview at the Sheriff's Office.  They also shot video in the field of places where Phillips hid out.  Gerace says he tried to convey the difficulty of tracking Phillips... a Cassadaga-area native who knew the area well... and, received help from certain members of the public.  Phillips was later convicted of murdering 32 year-old State Trooper Joseph Longobardo... and, wounding partner Donald Baker.  The History Channel program led with this past Summer's high-profile escape of convicted murderers Richard Matt and David Sweat from the Clinton Correctional Facility in northern New York.

 

A Dutch-based company that owns and sells some of the leading heating brands in the European market is in the process of acquiring ECR International in Dunkirk.  Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan says he is aware of the acquisition by BDR Thermea -- which also includes ECR's fabricating facilities.  Horrigan says the move will strengthen ECR. Under the proposed sale... BDR will acquire 100 percent of ECR International, including its local U-S manufacturing facilities, leading brands and distribution channels.  Reports state that ECR International shareholders are expected to decide on the sale later this month.

 

The New York health exchange says it's partnering with CVS Pharmacy, Kinney Drugs and TOPS Markets around the state to educate New Yorkers about insurance coverage available through the online exchange.  According to health officials... more than 100 informational events will be held at dozens of pharmacy locations during the exchange open enrollment that runs through January 31st.  Executive Director Donna Frescatore says the new ``Essential Plan'' this year will provide greater access to affordable coverage.  The exchange offers various plans in all 62 counties.  The Essential Plan for hundreds of thousands of eligible lower-income residents can lower premiums to 20-dollars or less a month.

 

 

 

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WJTN News Headlines

A Pittsfield, Pennsylvania woman is dead following a motor vehicle accident on Ivory Road in the Frewsburg-area early Sunday morning. 39 year old Chalise Hebner of Stoney Run Road, Pittsfield died at the scene of the crash. Sheriff's officers and Carroll Town Police were called to the scene in the town of Carroll shortly before 3 AM.  Deputies say the investigation is continuing into the accident.  Deputies were also assisted at the scene by Ellicott Town Police... the Frewsburg Fire Department... Alstar Ambulance, and the Kiantone Ambulance.

 

Dunkirk Police are continuing their investigation into a deadly crash that occurred early Sunday morning on Maple Avenue.  Police say that a vehicle initially being pursued by Fredonia Police failed to negotiate a curve around 5:30 am Sunday, jumped a curb on Maple Avenue, then traveled through some yards before striking a tree.  Officers say the drive then fled the scene on foot.  A passenger in the vehicle was taken to Brooks Memorial Hospital and was later pronounced dead.  Dunkirk Fire and Alstar Ambulance also responded to the scene.  Police are expected to release more details about the crash.

 

A head of the county's Industrial Development Agency will be the keynote speaker at this Friday's annual meeting of the county's Chamber of Commerce.  Chamber President and Chief Executive Officer Todd Tranum says IDA Administrative Director and CEO, Kevin Sanvidge, headlines the Noontime event at the Moon Brook Country Club in Jamestown.  Tranum says Sanvidge will talk about economic development in the county during his 18-month tenure.  Sanvidge was formerly with Cliffstar Corporation and Al Tech Specialty Steel.  The Chamber will also present the 2015 Pam Lydic Coalition Builder Award to Dr. Susan McNamara from the SUNY College at Fredonia.  For more information... call the Chamber at 484-1101... or register on-line Chautauquachamber-dot-ORG.

 

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul says she believes no changes are necessary to the state's SAFE Act as the nation deals with yet another mass shooting... this one in California.  During her visit to Fredonia late last week... Hochul was first asked for her first reaction to the shooting spree in San Bernardino, California.  She says there was a "sense of shock."  Hochul feels the law... which created a firestorm of criticism from a number of gun-rights groups... has worked well.  She says there needs to be tougher laws in other states to keep criminals from geting guns elsewhere and bringing them to New York.  Hochul says that's especially the case with background checks.  She says people on Terrorist Watch Lists can still walk into a gun store and buy one legally.  She asks "what's wrong with this picture."  The SAFE Act was enacted in response to the Sandy Hook School shootings in Connecticut in December of 2012. 

 

A five-vehicle crash in Dunkirk at the corner of Lake Shore drive west and Brigham Road late last week sent one person to Brooks Memorial Hospital for treatment.  Dunkirk Police say 66-year-old Kristen Jaffray of Dunkirk apparently triggered the crash late Thursday when she lost control of her vehicle after losing consciousness.  Her car left the roadway, struck a street sign and continued east through a red traffic light before hitting a vehicle driven by 39-year-old Martin Dorman of Ripley, which had stopped in traffic.  The Dorman vehicle then struck a third vehicle driven by 59-year-old Michael Tucker of Jamestown that had stopped in traffic.  The Jaffray vehicle then continued on striking a fourth vehicle... and, a fifth.  Police say Jaffray was transported by ambulance to Brooks Memorial for treatment. 

 

The future of the NRG plant in Dunkirk is a top priority of Dunkirk's Mayor Elect as he prepares to take over the city's top office in January.  Councilman at Large Willie Rosas made his comments late last week, as he prepares to become the city's top-elected official.  Rosas says he will be meeting with other elected officials to discuss the situation concerning NRG and to discuss how the city should prepare if the plant's re-powering project doesn't move ahead. The Common Council recently approved the appointment of Duane Beard as the new Director of Development and Planning for the north county city.   Rosas says one of the first tasks facing Duane Beard is looking into whether there is state assistance available should the plant close.  He says they need to know what they're eligible for, and apply for them.  Rosas will become the Mayor of Dunkirk on January 1st.  An inaugration ceremony is planned for 12 PM at City Hall.

 

Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan says keeping the NRG Power Plant in Dunkirk open is also a major priority heading into 2016.  Horrigan says it's "very disappointing" to hear that federal WARN Notices have gone out to the plant's 64 employees.  But... Horrigan says they... along with state Legislators, the state Public Service Commission, and NRG, remain committed to keeping the plant open.  At the same time... they are lobbying for state help if the plant does end up having to be closed. Horrigan says he is staying in close contact with incoming Dunkirk Mayor Willie Rosas... and outgoing Mayor A-J Dolce on the situation.  NRG's Huntley Power Plant... in North Tonawanda... is slated for actual closedown... and, leaders there are in discussions with the state to mitigate the fall-out.  Entergy Energy Corporation, and a handfull of environmental groups have filed suit to stop the Dunkirk Repowering project.  Horrigan made his comments for this past weekend's "Community Spotlight" program on the Media One Group stations.

 

It's now been several months since the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities had filed it's "mini-rate" electric case.  However... the case was recently adjourned again in light of ongoing opposition to the hike by the county's Camber of Commerce... and, members of the Manufacturer's Association of the Southern Tier.  The head of both the chamber and MAST, Todd Tranum, says the state's Public Service Commission is taking the case very seriously, and weighing the opposition.  Tranum says they're sure the reason for the increases are the city's taking of a dividend payment from the BPU the past three years. Earlier this year... the BPU filed for the smaller rate increase that's done over the course a few months compared to a major-rate case... which can take 18 months to a year to complete.  Tranum says that both MAST and the chamber feel the 2.55-percent rate increase is meant to cover the amount of dividend payments... which he calls "indirect taxation."  Tranum says they're also taking a hard look at the BPU's proposed water rate increase.

 

 

 


 

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WJTN News Headlines

Two more Jamestown residents have been arrested for allegedly trafficking significant amounts of narcotics in the city.  Jamestown Police Captain Bob Samuelson says members of the Jamestown Metro Drug Task Force and members of the State Police C-NET Team raided a suspected location at 903 North Main Street late Thursday morning.  Samuelson says the JPD SWAT Team assisted in gaining entry to the residence shortly after 10 AM.  He says they found 52 bags of Heroin -- packaged for sale -- along with a small amount of prescription pills.  Police arrested 43 year-old Annabelle Rodriguez and 21 year-old Tatiana Lopez on several charges... and, found two small children inside the residence.  Samuelson says both ar charged with third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.  Lopez is also charged with seventh-degree criminal possesion, and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.  Both were sent to the city jail pending arraignment.  Anyone with information on illegal drug trafficking is asked to call the JPD Tip-line at 483-TIPs... that's 483-8477.

 

There's been an uptick in recent days with the number of drug arrests in Jamestown and the surrounding area.  While 2015 has overall been a 'quieter' year for drug raids and arrests... the problem seems to be getting worse.  That from one of the people who has been on the "front lines" of the local war on drugs.  Chief Executive Officer Rick Huber with the Mental Health Association in Chautauqua County says there's strong evidence that the drug problem is not going away anytime soon. Two arrests Wednesday yielded Heroin... Methamphetime... and, presciption pills -- among others.  Huber also points out that -- just a few months ago -- there was a traffic stop in the Jamestown area where half-a-pound of Heroin was seized.  He says that's a considerable amount... and, evidence the problem still very much exists.  Huber made his comments recently on Media One Group's "Community Spotlight" program.

 

An Eastern New York sheriff is urging residents of his county who are licensed gun owners to arm themselves when they leave home, citing recent mass shootings in the United States and Paris.  Ulster County Sheriff Paul Van Blarcum, a Democrat, posted a message to the department's Facebook page less than 24 hours after 14 people were killed in a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.  The post quickly drew hundreds of comments, for and against it.  Van Blarcum tells The Associated Press he's ``not trying to drum up a militia of any sort.'' But... he said police are ``partners with the public in crime prevention.''  Van Blarcum says the largely rural county in the Catskill Mountain region has 10-thousand licensed handgun owners.

 

NRG Energy shares are surging after the power company announced the resignation of long-time CEO David Crane.  The company says Crane is stepping down immediately, and he will be replaced by Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Mauricio Gutierrez.  Crane has served as CEO since 2003, a year before Gutierrez joined the Princeton, New Jersey-based company.  NRG Energy fell to a 10-year low after the company said Tuesday that it agreed to sell power plants in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  The company also announced third-quarter earnings last month that fell well short of expectations.  The stock is up 7 percent to $11.55 in morning trading.  But that share price had fallen 60 percent so far this year, as of Wednesday's close.

 

New York Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul says the lack of progress on the NRG repowering project is "frustrating."  It was nearly two years ago when Governor Andrew Cuomo traveled to Dunkirk to announce the agreement to convert the plant from coal to natural gas.  During a visit to the north county yesterday afternoon... Hochul was asked about the project... which is stalled because of a lawsuit filed earlier this year by a competing company. Hochul was in Fredonia to speak about the Governor's "Enough is Enough" initiative to combat sexual assault on college campus.  She is traveling across the state to help roll out the new law passed in June that applies to all New York college and university campuses.  Hochul says students need to know "their rights..." and, that the "game has changed."  Hochul says there are several options for sexual assault victims including how to report the incident and the availability of assistance and resources from each campus.

 

The process continues in the formation of a North County Water District.  The Chautauqua County Legislature has set a public hearing to be held Wednesday night, December 16th the night of the panel's monthly meeting in Mayville.  The hearing in legislature chambers will begin at 6:45 PM.  County Executive Vince Horrigan says the hearing is an important step in creating the water district. There are some portions of the North County area that will not be getting public notices because they will not be receiving Dunkirk city water.  He says it's those who receive water from the village of Fredonia... and, the town of Hanover and village of Silver Creek.  The public hearing will give individuals the opportunity to voice their comments and questions about the formation of the district.

 

It may not feel like "Christmas" yet... but, all is ready for the biggest event in downtown Jamestown leading into the Holiday Season.  The annual Tinseltown Christmas Parade and Holiday Celebration is set for tonight on Third Street beginning at 6:30 PM.  The Jamestown Renaissance Corporation is again heading up this year's event... and, Events and Marketing Associate Edwin Rodriguez with the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation says the parade begins with Christmas Tree lighting at Tracy Plaza... and, adds that's one of several activities. Rodriguez says the major parade sponsor is again The Resource Center.  He adds that one new sponsor is Elite Kreations Auto Detailing... which is sponsoring the transportation for this year's Grand Marshall.  Santa’s trip through downtown ends at Tracy Plaza and signals the start of the parade fireworks off the Spring Street Parking Ramp.  Line-up for the parade in the area of the Third Street Bridge begins at 5 PM.  For more information... call the JRC at 664-2477.

 

A person familiar with the decision has told The Associated Press that USA Hockey has selected Buffalo to host the 2018 World Junior Championship tournament.  The person spoke on the condition of anonymity on Thursday because a formal announcement won't be made until Friday.  Buffalo was selected over four other finalists to host the event, beating out Chicago, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Tampa, Florida.  It will mark the second time the tournament has been held in Buffalo.  The 2011 World Juniors were held in Buffalo and drew more than 330,000 fans during the 11-day event. It was the second-best attended junior tournament at that time.  The tournament is likely to start in December 2017 with the title game held in January 2018.

 


 

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News Headlines for Thurs., Dec. 3, 2015

Two more drug arrests in Jamestown Thursday brings number of five over past two days...

Two more Jamestown residents have been arrested for allegedly trafficking significant amounts of narcotics in the city.  Jamestown Police Captain Bob Samuelson says members of the Jamestown Metro Drug Task Force and members of the State Police C-NET Team raided a suspected location at 903 North Main St. late Thursday morning.  Samuelson says the JPD SWAT Team assisted in gaining entry to the residence shortly after 10 a.m.  He says they found 52 bags of Heroin -- packaged for sale -- along with a small amount of prescription pills.  Police arrested 43 year-old Annabelle Rodriguez and 21 year-old Tatiana Lopez on several charges... and, found two small children inside the residence.  Samuelson says both ar charged with third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.  Lopez is also charged with seventh-degree criminal possesion, and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.  Both were sent to the city jail pending arraignment.  Anyone with information on illegal drug trafficking is asked to call the JPD Tip-line at 483-TIPs... that's 483-8477.


Two residents jailed without bail for drug raid early Wednesday...

Two Jamestown residents are jailed without bail following an early morning raid Wednesday on the city's eastside.  City Police Captain Bob Samuelson says members of the Jamestown Metro Drug Task Force and State Police C-NET Team raided a residence at 8 Cowing St. about 6:15 a.m.  Samuelson says the Jamestown Police SWAT Team helped make entry into the home... where they found 32 year-old Michelle King... and, 23 year-old Robert "A-J" Porter.  Police also allegedly found a quantity of methamphetime, prescription pills, drug paraphernalia and cash.  Samuelson says both King and Porter were both arraigned on charges of third and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance... and, criminal use of drug paraphernalia.  Both were then sent to the county jail.


Head of Mental Health Assoc. says drug problem worse in 2015 than previous two years...

With today's arrest -- there have now been five people arrested over the past two days -- for alleged narcotics trafficking in the city.  It appears to reinforce the opinion of one person on the "front lines" in the area's opiate drug epidemic who says the problem is as bad -- if not worse -- than the past two years.  Up until recent weeks... 2015 had been comparatively quieter than last.  However... Chief Executive Officer Rick Huber with the Mental Health Association in Chautauqua County says a traffic stop that uncovered half-a-pound of Heroin provided it's still very much out there.  Huber says it's a "heavy-duty amount of Heroin."  He says law enforcement had told him they're seeing as much Heroin as before... and, more in the way of powder cocaine... and, methamphetimes. He is also among those disputing a recent county report that shows the number of overdose deaths over the past year are low compared to where the county is in other areas.  That report shows the county had 2-and-a-half times the number of babies born addicted to drugs... yet there were only 14 overdose deaths reported.  Huber made his comments recently on Media One Group's "Community Spotlight" program.


County Gas prices drop again this week...

Gasoline prices in the Jamestown-area have fallen another four-cents over the past couple of weeks... while the national price inches closer to the $2-a gallon mark.  The AAA East Central Fuel Gauge report says the price for regular, unleaded has dropped from $2.40 to $2.36 this week.  AAA says the average price was determined by reports from 19 local service stations.  The Fuel Gauge reports that gasoline was $3.15 per gallon this time last year.  The national average have now fallen 3-cents to $2.04 a gallon.... which AAA says is within fractions of a penny of the multi-year low reached this past January.


Presentations continue on upgrading area around new National Comedy Center...

Making downtown Jamestown more "pedestrian-friendly..." and, easier to find places should be a goal to improving the area around the new National Comedy Center.  Another key part of "maximizing" on the new attraction is making more use of the nearby Chadakoin Riverfront area.  That from an urban architect and designer from the world-wide firm A.E.COM... during a presentation at the Robert H. Jackson Center Monday night.  In their experience... Vaughn Davies says you need "great storefronts... and, "managing how people move through the downtown."  He adds the area should be inviting to locals -- not just out-of-towners.  Davies says successful places are ones that locals want to show their out-of-town friends and relatives.  He says the area surrounding the 35,00 square foot Comedy Center more attractive will help bring in the support businesses that are needed in that part of the city's westside.  A.E.COM's report was commissioned by the Gebbie Foundation.  Gebbie Executive Director Greg Edwards says Davies, and A.E.COM's Economic leader, Linda Cheu hit it "out of the park" during an earlier meeting at Gebbie.  More than 100 people attended last Tuesday night's first public presentation of the plan at the Jackson Center.

 

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Terry Frank

A plan that "links" Jamestown's east and westsides -- with a focus on the new National Comedy Center -- was rolled out to the public for the first time last night.  More than 100 people were on hand for the first of three sessions at the Robert H. Jackson Center to hear the presentation by two principles with A-E-COM Technical Serivces, a world-wide firm that designs cultural facilities.  A-E-COM was hired by the Gebbie Foundation to do draw up the plan... and, Executive Director Greg Edwards the idea was to have the plan done, and presented a year-and-a-half before the Comedy Center opens. Vaughn Davies, head of A-E-COM Design and Planning, says they looked at the entire downtown area... and, ways to enhance the experience of visitors to the Comedy Center.  He says there are some specific ideas they hope will draw commercial and other development to that area.  Davies says... with more than 100-thousand people expected to be coming to the National Comedy Center... support development -- including restaurants, hotels -- will be needed.  At the very least... they want people to spend and day and night here.

 

One of the state's most powerful lawmakers for nearly two decades says he'll appeal his conviction by a federal jury of charges that he used the power of his office to earn 5-million dollars illegally.  Former New York state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was convicted on all charges late Monday afternoon.  Silver stepped down from the leadership post after his January arrest, though he has remained on an assemblyman.  Outside the courthouse... Silver remained defiant.  He still believes there will be a "different result" once the appeal is heard.  No sentencing date has been set yet.  The 71 year-old Silver's attorneys argued that he did nothing wrong... but, prosecutors maintained that he was guilty of bribery and extortion.

 

Chautauqua County's member of the state Assembly says he's not surprised by former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's conviction on federal corruption charges.  Jamestown-area Republican Andy Goodell says he believes the case against the New York City area Democrat was a strong one. Goodell says he hopes Silver 's conviction will lead to further election law reforms in Albany.  He does believe there have many reforms made to the Speaker's position that led to Silver's downfall.  Goodell says lawmakers had already strengthened financial dislosure provisions, and put in independent reporting requirement.  He says Silver was found to have violated both many times.  Silver is vowing to appeal the conviction.  He is free on bail until a sentence date is set.

 

A multi-agency investigation has led to the arrest of two Jamestown residents -- one for allegedly trafficking Heroin from a home on the city's northside.  Agents with the Southern Tier Regional Drug Task Force... along with the Jamestown Metro Drug Task Force and State Police C-NET Team... raided the residence at 826 Prendergast Avenue about 8:30 yesterday morning.  Task Force members say they arrested 59 year-old Louis Rivera for allegedly selling quantities of heroin from the location numerous times.  Agents says Rivera is charged with one count each of third-degree criminal sale and possession of a Controlled Substance.  He was arraigned and sent to the county jail without bail.  The Task Force says they also seized a quantity of cash... cocaine... marijuana... packaging materials... and, scales used to weigh controlled substances.  In addition... police arrested 42 year-old Jody Buck for seventh-degree criminal possession of a Controlled Substance... unlawful possession of marijuana... and, criminally using drug paraphernalia.  She was arraigned, and posted bail.  Anyone with information on illegal narcotics trafficking is asked to call the Southern Tier Task Force at 1-800-344-8702.

 

Two people who spoke before Monday night's budget vote commended city lawmakers for their hard work on the 2015 spending plan... and, offered some ideas to help Jamestown out of it's financial problems.  Manufacturer's Association of the Southern Tier Executive Director Todd Tranum... and former BPU District Heat leader Doug Champ offered a few ideas they felt could help going forward.  Tranum stressed the need for a 3 to 5-year financial and economic plan to find a way out of these problems. Tranum says the city should also develop a long-term plan to make structural improvements in it's government operations.  Champ says the word "re" is used a lot now in "re-development... and, re-purposing."  He suggested a term he heard elsewhere called "re-neighborhooding" to spark interest in the city's empty, and abandoned lots.  Tranum also suggested a third item... and, that was ending the recent practice of taking the dividend payment from the Board of Public Utilities.  The city again took 482-thousand dollars in profits from the BPU.  However... the 35.1-million dollar spending plan still includes a 92-cent per thousand tax rate increase.

 

An urgent need for bellringers has led the Salvation Army of Jamestown to advertise for paid bellringers in the local newspaper.  That from Salvation Army Captain Kim Merchant... who spoke to us by phone yesterday morning.  Merchant says the annual campaign is at only 20-thousand dollars to begin December... and they have a lot of openings now through the end of the campaign.  She says this is the first time that the Jamestown location has had to hire bellringers. Merchant adds that shopping traffic is down due to the growth of on-line shopping.  Merchant adds you can also give on-line to Salvationarmy-dot-ORG -- 'Red Kettles' and find Jamestown, New York to make a secure donation.  Merchant says... if you have some time to give... you can call them to help staff the Red Kettles.  That number is 664-4108.  This year's campaign goal is 105-thousand dollars... and, the effort runs through Christmas Eve.

 

More than three dozen people were lined up outside Community Helping Hands on Water Street in Jamestown just before 10 o'clock yesterday morning.  Staff member Mike Forness watched them come in for the opening of their "Christmas Store..." and looking for specials.  Forness is the coordinator for the Christmas Shop.  He says they get loads and loads of holiday items donated every year, and they sell them at very modest prices. Forness adds they have some nice nativity sets this year, as well.  The store is re-stocked with new items everyday and will be open to the public Tuesday through Friday 10 AM to 4 PM... and, Saturday from 10 AM to Noon.  The proceeds are used to help those in need have a Merry Christmas. 

 

Ithaca College students have expressed dissatisfaction with school President Tom Rochon in a symbolic no confidence vote.  The Student Government Association says 72-percent of students voted ``no confidence'' in Rochon after several weeks of on-line vote.  Fifty-four percent of eligible students voted.  The association initiated the symbolic vote following protests over the racial climate on campus.  The student group announced the results Monday night.  Ithaca is among several college campuses that saw demonstrations in the wake of protests at the University of Missouri over the administration's handling of racial issues and subsequent leadership resignations.  Rochon has said the current wave of student activism is creating an opportunity for discussions that can lead to more inclusive campus environments.

 


 

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WJTN News Headlines

Jamestown city lawmakers have approved a 35.1-million dollar budget for next year that increases taxes by about 4-percent... and, has pretty much "gutted" city government.  That frustration was voiced by Second-Ward Councilman Tony Dolce last night as council voted 8-to-1 in favor of the spending plan.  That came after lawmakers rejected several cuts proposed by First-Ward Councilman Brent Sheldon.  However... Council President Greg Rabb says those were part-time positions that save the city on overtime costs... and, get the work done. Dolce expressed similar frustrations... saying the 199-thousand dollars in cuts -- initially proposed last week by Sheldon -- only cut 'around the edges.'  He says if you start cutting full-time employees... you're looking at IMPACT payments to the unions... and, violating minimum staffing clauses.  With that... he says laying off 10 police officers would only save the city about 250-thousand dollars.  The budget does include an additional 232-thousand dollars in dividend payments from the Board of Public Utilities. Two people who have been critical of lawmakers during the budget process offered what they called "positive" suggestions prior to last night's vote.  We'll hear from Manufacturer's Association of the Southern Tier Executive Director Todd Tranum... and former BPU District Heat leader Doug Champ later today.

 

A Cattaraugus County woman has died after she was involved in a one vehicle accident in Town of Ashford just after 9pm Sunday.  Sheriff's say that 26 year old Karolyn Penfold of Route 420 in Ashford was traveling on that same road when her vehicle left the road, struck a ditch and overturned.  Penfold was flow to ECMC in Buffalo where she passed away from injuries caused by the accident.

 

A lawmaker who was one of New York's most powerful politicians has been convicted by a federal jury of charges that he used the power of his office to earn 5-million dollars illegally.  Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver stepped down from the leadership post after his January arrest, though he has remained an assemblyman.  The 71 year-old Silver's attorneys argued that he did nothing wrong... but, prosecutors maintained that he was guilty of bribery and extortion.  Jury deliberations had just resumed Monday afternoon after the panel was sent home for the Thanksgiving Holiday.

 

Businesses across Chautauqua County are busy today, calibrating their cash registers to account for an added half-a-percent sales tax, which begins today.  County Executive Vince Horrigan says the increase... which was approved by the county legislature, then the state, takes effect December 1st.  Horrigan says it's mainly in place for 2016 and beyond, but, adds a complication in state law mandates the change be made -- starting today.
Horrigan says the added sales tax will bring another 8.3-million dollars to the county to plug a 6-million dollar structural deficit... and, rebuild the fund balance.  He says it also puts the county "on par" with neighboring counties as far as both property and sales tax.  Horrigan says it still recognizes the fact we border Pennsylvania... and there will be NO sales tax on clothing and footwear up to 110-dollars each.  The final 2016 county budget cuts the tax rate by 6.6-percent... or about 60-cents to 8-dollars-55 cents per thousand full value.  

 

New public safety cameras in downtown Jamestown have helped city police take two men off the street for allegedly having a loaded gun in their possession.  City police were called to the area of 708 East Second Street about 2:30 last Wednesday afternoon on a report of suspicious behavior.  But... on arrival police say the two men got out of the vehicle in an effort to elude officers.  However... police were able to track down 29 year-old Terrance Hubbard, and 32 yeaer-old Christopher Jones.  Both were arrested after officers found a loaded 9-millimeter gun inside the vehicle.  They were arraigned on a charge of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon... and, sent to the county jail without bail.  An officer at the Jamestown Police station was able to view the suspects and the vehicle on the new cameras prior to officers arrival... providing them important information.

 

An unidentified boy is now in stable condition after being wounded in the village of Falconer last Friday morning during a hunting accident.  Ellicott Town Police say they received a 9-1-1 call just after 8:30 AM about a male victim being shot in a wooded area off East Elmwood Avenue.  Officers say the boy had been shot in the shoulder area while hunting with two other people.  Police say the victim was taken to Women and Children's Hospital in Buffalo for treatment.  The incident remains under investigation.  Officers say no other information will be released until the investigation is completed.

 

If it's seemed like an unusually warm Fall... it has been.  In fact this Fall in Western New York will be going down as one of the warmest in the record books.  Meteorologist Kirk Apffel of the National Weather Service in Buffalo says the month of November has been well above average. In addition... while the Chautauqua Ridge-area has had some snowfall... the city of Buffalo has not.  Another round of snow is possible around mid-week.  Apffel says if the Buffalo-area misses out, a new record appears to be possible.  He says the latest first snow for Buffalo was 1899, when it was December 3rd.  Apfell says that could be in jeopardy this week.  He says there are several factors behind the extremely mild Fall... including a very strong El Nino.  He doesn't see a pattern change anytime soon.

 

U-S Senator Charles Schumer is ending another year having traveled to every county in New York state and says he'll be back again next year even if he is elevated to lead the Senate's Democrats.  Schumer tells The Associated Press on Monday that ``just about every single'' Democrat in the Senate has told him they support making him leader after Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid steps down next year.  This is the 17th year Schumer has visited each county at least once.  The Brooklyn native says the trips make him a better legislator by helping him understand the challenges and opportunities facing local communities.  The Democrat says upstate New York has made significant strides in recent years... with signs of economic strength in every region.

 

New York state lawmakers won't return to Albany for more than a month, but a small number are heading back early to review how the state spends money to spur economic development.  The Assembly Committee on Economic Development, Job Creation, Commerce and Industry plans to meet next Friday with the Assembly Committee on Small Business.  Officials say they'll be gauging the success of many state programs and agencies dedicated to improving the economy and increasing jobs.  Since one of the committees also oversees the State Liquor Authority, the lawmakers will also review the effectiveness of that agency's initiatives.  The entire Assembly and Senate are scheduled to return to Albany to begin the 2016 session on January 6.

 

Nine new members of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame will be inducted during next February's 35th annual Banquet.  Hall of Fame President Randy Anderson says the Class of 2016 includes stand-outs in wrestling... Soccer and softball... track-and-field... and, sports broadcasting.  Anderson says wrestling includes the late Clarence "Flash" Olson of Southwestern High School... and, Fredonia's Alex Conti.  In addition... there's Cross-Country Masters runner, and Maple Grove Coach Robert "Doc" Rappole.  Broadcasting is represented by Southwestern graduate Dan Hoard... who is the radio voice of the Cinncinate Bengals.  Other inductees include Julie Gawronski... Sarah Shuster Morrison... Jim Ulrich... the late Heather Lefford-Edborg... and, the late Parke Hill Davis.  The banquet will be held on Monday, February 16th at the Lakewood Rod and Gun Club.  Reservations can be made by calling Chip Johnson at 485-6991.

 

 

 

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