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Governor Andrew Cuomo's fourth State of the State address is getting a generally positive review from Chautauqua County's new executive.  Bemus Point Republican Vince Horrigan is pleased to hear that Governor Cuomo is continuing his emphasis on getting the upstate region back on track.  Horrigan was among the local leaders on hand for Cuomo's speech in Albany Wednesday... and, liked the emphasis on cutting taxes... and, economic development.  He was pleased to hear the governor talk about helping to cut local property tax increases to zero the next two years.  But... Horrigan feels more needs to be done to sustain that. Horrigan was also pleased to hear Cuomo call for eliminating the manufacturer's income tax in the entire Upstate Region.  He says that should help keep and bring business to New York.  Horrigan also supports a 2-billion dollar proposal to upgrade technology in New York's public schools... but, is concerned with costs filtering down to the local level.  Horrigan was joined in Albany by the mayors of the county's two cities... Sam Teresi of Jamestown... and, A-J Dolce of Dunkirk. 

 

Governor Andrew Cuomo says it's time for New York to have classrooms that are ready for 21st Century learning.  During Wednesday's State of the State address in Albany... Cuomo proposed his 2-billion dollar "Smart Schools" bond referendum to upgrade technology in the classroom.  The proposal was among a number of new reforms Cuomo offered during the speech.  He says there are "great disparities" between districts... and, technology will be a great equalizer for public education. Cuomo says he wants to move the proposal forward so it can be voted on this November by New York voters.  He says the idea is not more bureaucracy... but, helping every child learn, and get the skills they need.  Cuomo says he also wants to establish a teacher excellence fund that would pay bonuses to teachers receiving top marks under the state's teacher evaluation system. Cuomo's agenda also includes full-day Pre-Kindergarten... and, providing the top 10 percent of high school graduates with full scholarships to any public state university if they pursue a math or science career and agree to work in New York state for five years.

 

Chautauqua County's representative in the state Assembly says he likes the idea of upgraded technology in New York's classrooms.  However... Bemus Point Republican Andy Goodell says he's not excited about the state borrowing money to achieve that goal.  Goodell says he would rather see it as part of Cuomo's budget proposal that's to be released later this month. Goodell says he supports upgrading technology... especially for poorer and more rural schools that can take advantage of distance learning.  However... as with his predecessor, Democrat Bill Parment, he opposes any additional borrowing.

 

Jamestown fire officials say arson is the official cause of a blaze at a vacant home on the city's eastside Wednesday night.  Fire Battalion Chief Don Woodfield says fire crews were called to the scene at 236 Falconer Street shortly after 7:30 PM.  Woodfield says they had reports that fire was showing from the windows on both floors of the two-story structure.  He says first arriving crews found heavy fire on the first floor.  Woodfield says an off-duty shift was then called in.  He adds crews had the flames knocked down fairly quickly. Woodfield was commander of the off-duty shift that was called in... and, says there was a lot of fire damage to the first-floor -- especially in the front of the building.  He says no one was hurt.  Crews were at the scene about two-hours.  It's not known if the building will be demolished. 

 

A snowplow driver from Ashville is accused of drunk driving after his truck crashed into a ditch in Lakewood a week ago today.  Lakewood-Busti Police say Bruce James of James Avenue was allegedly driving irratically while his truck was westbound on Route 394 just before 3 PM last Friday when the vehicle went into the ditch.  Officers say James was allegedly found to be intoxicated... and, they also say they found drug paraphrenalia in his possession.  Police say he faces several charges including DWI... speeding... reckless driving... and, possession of drug paraphrenalia.  James was released pending a future appearance in Busti Town Court.

 

The First Niagara Financial Group is closing 10 branches and eliminating 170 jobs.  The Buffalo-based bank... which has several branches in the Jamestown-area... said Wednesday the positions are being cut throughout its four-state territory.  The job reductions come as the bank moves administrative duties out of it's branches.

 

A drug addiction expert at a state-run medical school says Governor Cuomo's plan to make marijuana available in New York for medical purposes is ``ridiculous'' and will result in stoned slackers with lung disease.  Dr. Brian Johnson tells The Syracuse Post-Standard that Cuomo's plans for medical marijuana use at up to 20 hospitals throughout the state will produce ``a bunch of stupid stoners'' with lung disease.  He adds they'll believe they should go on disability ``because they don't want to get off the couch.''

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