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The Town of Chautauqua has been named the best small town in America to visit in the latest issue of Smithsonian Magazine.  The article cites Chautauqua's seasonal lectures and classes as a highlight that helps draw 8000 people weekly to the Institution each summer. The article quotes President Theodore Roosevelt saying Chautauqua "Is the most American thing in America."  Healdsberg, California and Williamsburg Virginia came in second and third respectively. The complete list can be found at Smithsonian mag dot com.

 

Governor Andrew Cuomo is touting his property tax freeze as a priority in budget negotiations... but, is getting resistance from lawmakers opposing his plan.  Cuomo says lawmakers are feeling pressure to oppose the two-year property tax freeze that connects rebates for homeowners to local governments cutting expenses and sharing services.  Also late Thursday... the Senate and Assembly announced they plan to add another $500 million to the governor's budget proposal, with almost half going to education.  Cuomo says spending is ``the enemy of lowering taxes.  So my priority is to push for a tax cut.''  Leaders meetings are ongoing as the April 1 deadline for the 140-billion dollar fiscal spending plan comes closer.

 

More than 100 protesters gathered outside Governor Andrew Cuomo's offices in the state Capitol Thursday afternoon.  They called for better education funding, a permanent ban on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas and an end to tax breaks for the rich.  A dozen state troopers were brought in to clear the hallway.  Several protesters were arrested.

 

Customers of the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities in the Celoron-area are being warned to careful not to give bank account or credit card information to anyone over the phone.  BPU Spokeswoman Becky Robbins says someone is apparently calling people... saying they're with the BPU... and, they're threatened with having their electricity turned off if they don't agree to provide personal financial information over the phone... or agree to meet him at a local convenience store.  Robbins says it's a scam... because they on accept payments three ways.
Customers can also mail payments in the enclosed envelop.  Robbins says the BPU received calls from customers in the Village of Celoron Thursday... reporting they had received the calls.  But, again, Robbins says the BPU does not accept telephone payments.

 

ConAgra's decision to close the two former Carriage House facilities in Dunkirk and Fredonia is "devastaing news" for Chautauqua County.  That from Executive Director Todd Tranum with the Manufacturer's Association of the Southern Tier... and, president of the county's Chamber of Commerce.  Tranum says yesterday's (Wednesday's) news that more than 400 jobs will be lost is a "huge blow" to the local economy.  He says it's "shameful..." especially given the farm subsidies ConAgra receives. Tranum says the first "blow" came last year when ConAgra bought out Ralcorp... which previously owned and operated Carriage House and the Petri Baking facility in Silver Creek.  Petri was closed... and, part of Carriage House's operation... including a salad dressing line was shut-down.  But... at the same time... Tranum says the county needs to recognize that it's still a challenge to do business in New York state. Tranum says this latest loss of a major employer should serve as a "wake up" call for Chautauqua County... and, the region.  He says we need to be working better as a region to become attractive to major companies that now tend to buy-up smaller, local operations.  As an example... Tranum says it's time to move forward on getting a North County Water District in place.

 

While gasoline prices are up nationally... the average price for a gallon of regular, unleaded locally remained virtually unchanged this week.  The Triple-A's Fuel Gauge reports the price increased just a fraction of a penny this week... staying at 3-dollars-72 cents a gallon this week.  The Fuel Gauge reports nationally... the average price today is 3-dollars-52 cent per gallon.  That's the highest price in more than six months.  The Triple-A adds this price is four cents more expensive than one week ago and 17-cents above one month ago.  Prices in nearly every state have increased over the last week.  Gas prices on the East Coast in particular have been subject to upward pressure from limited ethanol supplies due to logistical challenges.  The Triple-A is expecting the national average will peak in late March or early April between 3-dollars-55 cents... and, 3--75 per gallon.  That's due to seasonal refinery maintenance and the approaching switchover to producing summer-blend gasoline that is required by May 1st.

 

Chautauqua County's representative in the state Senate says she -- too -- is pushing for more local funding for roads in her 57th District that have been so heavily damaged by our brutal Winter.  Republican Senator Cathy Young of Olean says there's a "terrible pothole problem" across New York state... and, adds it's also become a safety issue.  Young says they're pushing for more than the 478-million dollars Governor Cuomo has allocated for Consolidated Highway Improvement Program -- or CHIPS funding. Young says Marchicelli highway funding is also included in the budget.  State Assemblyman Andy Goodell says the legislature's lower chamber has estimated the state will take in about 175-million dollars MORE in revenues next year than the governor is projecting.  Young says Senators also believe revenues will come in higher... so more money will be available.  In fact... she says the State Senate "led the charge" to boost CHIPS funding by just over 70-million dollars. 

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