Windy conditions overnight have led to a number of scattered power outages in Chautauqua county this morning. National Grid is reporting well over one-thousand customers without power. The Town of Poland and Kennedy areas are the seeing the highest concentration of outages with roughly 1000 customers losing power. Nation Grid reports that crews are working on the problem, but are giving no timetable for when power will be restored. The Chautauqua County Sheriff's Department reports that their were a few lines down overnight that had to be taken care of, and crews were also sent out to clean up some fallen limbs and debris in area roads. There were no injuries or property damage reported to them overnight.
Two hunters have been found dead of natural causes in separate incidents in western New York... one in northern Chautauqua County. State police in Fredonia say 69-year-old John Kucharski, Junior of Dunkirk was found dead in a 20-foot-high tree stand by his son-in-law Saturday evening. The two men had started out hunting on the son-in-law's property at 6 AM. The county coroner pronounced Kucharski dead of natural causes. Police say he had a history of health problems. Meantime... another hunter was found dead Saturday in a wooded area in the town of Porter in Niagara County. The sheriff's office on Sunday identified him as 50-year-old George Lebrun of the town of Wilson. Lebrun was found after being reported missing by fellow hunters. The sheriff's office says it appears to have been a medical emergency.
The investigation is continuing into a single-car crash early last weekend that killed a Cattaraugus County man in the town of Cattaraugus. Sheriff's Deputies in Little Valley say 42 year-old James Brown of Salamanca was southbound on Route 353 late Friday night when his car crossed the center line for an unknown reason. Officers say his Camaro nearly struck an oncoming car head-on. Deputies say Brown's car then went off the right side of the road... and, struck two trees -- cutting his car in half. Brown was rushed to Lakeshore Hospital in Irving where he was later pronounced dead. There were no other passengers in the vehicle.
A pair of too-close to call City Council contests in Jamestown will likely be decided today. That from the county's Board of Elections... which will begin counting up absentee ballots in the First and Third-Ward elections this morning. In the First-Ward... Republican Brent Sheldon has a 28-vote lead over Democrat Tara Hall after Election Day. The Third-Ward race finds Republican Tamara Dickey with a three-vote edge over Democrat Regina Brackman. Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi recalled two years ago when At-Large Councilwoman Maria Jones won her race by just two votes. In the Ward-One contest... the Board of Elections reports that nearly 70 absentee ballots have been returned... while nearly 40 have been returned in the Ward-Three race. Teresi says... regardless of what happens... there will be at least two new members of the city council come January 1st.
At the same time... Teresi says a "complete brain-drain" from the City Council isn't good, either. He adds once whoever wins is seated... it's important that they govern in a bi-partisan manner. Teresi made his comments on last weekend's "Community Spotlight" program on the five Media One stations.
New York's Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance plans to start accepting applications today for up to 650-dollars for an eligible household this winter to help with heating costs. State officials say anyone living outside New York City seeking the federally funded Home Energy Assistance Program benefit will be able to apply online for the first time. The website for applications is www-dot-myBenefits-dot-NY-dot-GOV. Subsidies up to $650 are based on income and household size. According to the state office... questions can be directed to local Department of Social Services Office or by calling 1-800-342-3009.
New Yorkers switching health plans because their policies didn't comply with the Affordable Care Act probably won't be offered a chance to put the process on hold. President Obama announced this week that insurers in some states may be allowed to keep offering noncompliant plans for another year. But... New York insurers said Friday that resurrecting policies being phased out on Decemer 31st would be a nightmare. Industry officials say they'd have to rush a reworked rate structure through a regulatory process that normally takes months. It might also mean getting legislative approval. Plus, it's unclear how many New Yorkers would want their old plans back. Insurers say most of the people being forced to switch are either seeing prices drop, or getting better coverage at a comparable rate.
With the situation involving the NRG Power Plant in Dunkirk up in the air... city school officials are already looking at a "Plan-B" in case the Repowering Project doesn't happen. That from Superintendent Gary Cerne (Sir-nee)... who says he and Business Manager William Thiel plan to meet with all building principals and department heads to discuss possible cost-savings initiatives. With the status of the proposed project still up in the air, Cerne says the District does have a back-up plan. The state's Public Service Commission has not taken action yet on a proposal by NRG to repower the Dunkirk Power Station. NRG is proposing a 500-million dollar project to convert the coal-fired plant to one powered by natural gas. There was no discussion on the proposal during the last Public Service Commission meeting which was held on Thursday.