He's sorry about the late timing on the legislation... but, state Assemblyman Andy Goodell says language the proposed home rule legislation to renew the county's 2-percent occupancy tax is aimed at Chautauqua Lake... as well as the county's other lakes and tributaries. County legislators received the proposed legislation an hour or two before last night's session... causing considerable confusion and concern. Goodell says a lot of the delay is due to the end of session being about a month away. Goodell says he also got a lot of input from legislative leaders and local organizations. He says the language was changed to insure that funding goes for tourism and most of that activity occurs on the county's lakes and waterways. County lawmakers passed the emergency resolution by a 16 to 8 vote, but a special meeting of the legislature was scheduled for next Wednesday just in case legislators voted in favor of the measure should change their mind and rescind it.
There was a lot of confusion over home rule legislation that would renew the county's 2-percent bed tax that is used to maintain the county's waterways and lakes. The measure prepared by State Senator Cathy Young and Assemblyman Andy Goodell reached the legislature only an hour or two before Wednesday night's session began. Fredonia Democrat Bill Coughlin feels the changes were designed to send more funding to Chautauqua Lake.
But... other legislators believe the changes would still allow the county to use funding for other lakes and waterways. Legislature Majority Leader Larry Barmore says it appears lawmakers have little choice. The measure passed. But... a special meeting of the Legislature may be held next Wednesday night... according to Chairman Jay Gould. He says County Attorney Steve Abdella will get more information from the county's state representatives over the next week. Legislators will then decide if they want to vote on rescinding the resolution during the special session.
The New York State Thruway Authority will halt construction on its roads around the state to make it easier for travelers this Memorial Day weekend. Starting Thursday... projects from Yonkers to Canajoharie and from Rochester to the Pennsylvania state line ceased operation. They'll restart on Tuesday, May 28th. Starting today... projects from Little Falls to Canandaigua will go quiet. Those road projects will start up again Monday night, May 27th. The authority also reminds motorists that a seatbelt enforcement action is ongoing and will be in full swing over the weekend.
County sheriffs across the state have asked to join the federal lawsuit challenging New York's tough new gun restrictions. They call some provisions vague and impossible to enforce fairly. The New York State Sheriffs' Association and five individual sheriffs are asking U.S. District Judge William Skretny to add their position to the record. They support gun rights advocates seeking to block enforcement of new bullet limits for magazines and the tighter definition of assault weapons. The sheriffs agree with the New York affiliate of the National Rifle Association that the law, passed after the Newtown, Connecticut school massacre, is unconstitutional because it will prevent citizens from keeping commonly used firearms for home defense. The law bans magazines with a capacity of more than 10 bullets and generally prohibits loading them with more than seven.
Ground has been broken on the latest phase of the city of Jamestown's Chadakoin Riverwalk project in the Brooklyn Square area. City officials were joined by Gebbie Foundation leaders on the property recently bought by the foundation on the northside of the river. The foundation is giving the city about one-thousand feet of property... to about 25 feet from the shoreline. The property starts at the Blackstone-Ney Ultrasonics building --- and goes west. Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi thanked the foundation for partnering in the effort. Teresi says the project will entail blacktopping the pathway... installing decorative lighting... stablizing the riverbank... and, putting in amenities... such as benches and picnic tables. Gebbie Foundation Executive Director John Merino says they're pleased to be part of the effort... because it ties in with their current focus on economic development projects. The Gebbie Foundation is also giving the city a 19-thousand dollar grant for the project... which will cost 244-thousand dollars. Jamestown is also getting a 112-thousand-500 dollar grant from the state's Environmental Protection Fund.
Goodell tried to clear confusion on 2%-Bed Tax voted on by county lawmakers Wednesday...
State Assemblyman Andy Goodell says the language proposed in the legislation to renew Chautauqua County's 2-percent occupancy tax is aimed at Chautauqua Lake... as well as the county's other lakes and waterways. Goodell today is trying to clear up some confusion on the part of county lawmakers after they received the proposed legislation an hour or two before Wednesday night's Legislature meeting. There was some misunderstanding over the language in the bill. Goodell says he was late getting the measure to the county because the end of the state's session is about a month away. He says they've had a number of bills... with a lot of paperwork as the session wraps up. Goodell says he also got a lot of input from legislative leaders... and, local organizations. He says the language was changed to insure that funding goes for tourism... and, most of that activity occurs on the county's lakes and waterways. Goodell admits that Chautauqua Lake is "a major focus of the legislation" because it's a major draw for the county. But... he adds other lakes can take advantage of the funding... including Lake Erie.
Even with confusion, County Legislature approves 2% Bed Tax bill...
County lawmakers have approved an emergency resolution that renews the 2-percent bed tax that can be used to maintain county waterways and lakes. However... a change in language of the home rule legislation caused confusion and concern Wednesday night. The measure... prepared by State Senator Cathy Young and Assemblyman Andy Goodell... reached the legislature only an hour or two before the session began. Legislator George Borrello of Silver Creek wanted it tabled. Borrello says it's supposed to be a "renewal" of an existing law... but, it has a lot of language changes. He was concerned about their possible impact. But... Legislator Fred Croscut of Sherman says county lawmakers didn't have much choice, and the county doesn't want to lose $510,000 in revenue. After a phone call was made to Goodell... legislators passed the measure. A special meeting of the Legislature will be held next Wednesday.
Sheriff's across NYS ask to join federal lawsuit challenging NY SAFE Act...
County sheriffs across the state have asked to join the federal lawsuit challenging New York's tough new gun restrictions. They call some provisions vague and impossible to enforce fairly. The New York State Sheriffs' Association and five individual sheriffs are asking U.S. District Judge William Skretny to add their position to the record. They support gun rights advocates seeking to block enforcement of new bullet limits for magazines and the tighter definition of assault weapons. The sheriffs agree with the New York affiliate of the National Rifle Association that the law, passed after the Newtown, Conn. school massacre, is unconstitutional because it will prevent citizens from keeping commonly used firearms for home defense. The law bans magazines with a capacity of more than 10 bullets and generally prohibits loading them with more than seven.
Road construction on state Thruway to be halted during Memorial Day Weekend...
The New York State Thruway Authority will halt construction on its roads around the state to make it easier for travelers this Memorial Day weekend. Starting Thursday... projects from Yonkers to Canajoharie and from Rochester to the Pennsylvania state line ceased operation. They'll restart on Tuesday, May 28. Starting today... projects from Little Falls to Canandaigua will go quiet. Those road projects will start up again Monday night, May 27. The authority also reminds motorists that a seatbelt enforcement action is ongoing and will be in full swing over the weekend.
Chautauqua County legislators have approved an emergency resolution that renews the 2 percent bed tax that can be used to maintain county waterways and lakes, but a change in language of the home rule legislation caused confusion and concern last night. The measure prepared by area State Senator Cathy Young and Assemblyman Andy Goodell reached the legislature only an hour or two before the session began. Legislator George Borrello of Silver Creek wanted it tabled. But, Legislator Fred Croscut of Sherman says the county lawmakers didn't have much choice. After a phone call was made to Assemblyman Goodell, legislators passed the measure by 16-8 vote. A special meeting of the Legislature will be held next Wednesday. Chairman Jay Gould says they will try to get more information from the state lawmakers involved. Gould says they tried to do committee work on the floor of the legislation because of the short notice. He says it's something they try to avoid if possible.
A state Supreme Court Judge has ruled that a civil trial to determine whether convicted sex offender Nushawn Williams remains imprisoned will be closed to the public. The Buffalo News reports the order follows a stunning claim that Williams... who was accused in the mid 1990s of infecting 13 young women in the Jamestown-area with HIV... does not have the virus that causes AIDS. Williams' attorney... John Nurcherno (Nerr-Chur-ee-no) says -- "it's time we start slowly setting the record straight. He never had it for a moment. It’s not my contention. It’s the result of a University of Massachusetts Medical School examination of his blood." Nuchereno made the comments following Wednesday’s appearance in front of Justice John Michalski (Mih-Call-Ski). The State Attorney General’s Office wants to keep Williams confined under the state’s mental hygiene law, arguing that he’s a sexual predator likely to infect others with HIV. Jury selection in the civil trial is scheduled to begin in a few weeks in Chautauqua County. If he were to be freed... Nurchereno says Williams plans to move to Virginia, where his wife and mother live.
A Jamestown man is jailed without bail for allegedly selling "crack" cocaine in the city over the past several weeks. City Police Captain Bob Samuelson says the department's Drug Enforcement Unit... along with the State Police C-NET Team... raided an apartment at 402 Lafayette Street about 1:45 this (Wednesday) afternoon... and, arrested 35 year-old Tyrone Schaffer. They also found a large quantity of "crack" inside... along with drug paraphernalia... and, a quantity of cash. Samuelson says they're looking for any connections to previous arrests... but, adds the sale of "crack" has been on the rise. Samuelson says Schaffer was arrested without incident... and, charged with Felony criminal possession of a controlled substance... first-degree criminal nuisance... and, criminally using drug paraphernalia. He adds police are continuing to investigate to see who else may be involved in "street-level" sales of "crack..." such as Schaffer. He was arraigned in city court... and, sent to the Chautauqua County Jail with bail to be set once the D-A's office makes a recommendation.
Jamestown police have been very busy in recent months... arresting alleged drug dealers with the help of the State Police. Police Captain Bob Samuelson says they've been working with that agency's Community Narcotics Enforcement Team to help with a number of investigations into "mid and street-level" drug dealing. Samuelson says their work with the C-NET group began in March of last year once the department ended it's association with the Southern Tier Regional Drug Task Force. Samuelson adds the general public has also been a big help. City police have publicized their Tip-Line as a way for people to anonymously help them with finding current drug dealers... or one's who have just moved into the area. Samuelson says they've had a "terrific response" from the public. If you have any information on drug activity in the city... Samuelson says you're encouraged to call the JPD Tip-Line at 483-TIPS. That's 483-8477.
A Jamestown man faces a number of charges following a traffic stop. Jamestown Police pulled over a vehicle Just before midnight this morning after the driver, 34 year old Richard Jabczynski failed to stop for a stop sign on Superior at Forest Avenue. Jabczynski was asked to get out of the vehicle and perform field sobriety tests. Officers spotted a plastic baggie sticking out of Jabczynski's pocket that contained a white powdery susbstance. The Substance tested positive as cocaine. Jabczynski also failed the sobriety test. Jabczynski is being held at the city Jail awaiting arraignment.
A long-time human service agency in Jamestown will be shutting it's doors at the end of next month. Media One News has learned that the Joint Neighborhood Project will be closing June 30th due to funding contraints... and, an effort to prevent "duplication of programs and services." In a letter sent to supporters and church groups... Interim Executive Director Patty Perlee says "everything has it's own season, and after 50 years, the season for Joint Neighborhood Project is coming to a close." JNP began in the 1960s as a provider of recreational opportunities for children in that part of the city. A Jamestown couple began the effort in 1963... and, three churches joined forces in 1969 to create JNP. It became the first local sponsor of GED classes... and, the USDA sponsored Women, Infants, and Children -- or WIC -- Program was first housed at JNP's 532 East Second Street location. We were unable to reach Patty Perlee for comment yesterday.
A Fredonia man has now been identified as the person killed late Tuesday night on a one-car crash in the north county town of Pomfret. Chautauqua County Sheriff's officers say 49 year-old David Lewandowski was northbound on Chestnut Road shortly before 10 PM Tuesday... and, failed to negotiate a curve. Deputies say Lewendowski's vehicle traveled through a lawn before the car struck a tree on the driver's side. Officers say he was pronounced dead at the scene. The Fredonia Fire Department's rescue team was also called to the scene.
Fifth-graders from throughout the area swarmed the grounds of Lake Chautauqua Lutheran Camp Wednesday for the annual Conservation Field Days. The event is put on by Cornell Cooperative Extension. Southwestern Central student Matthew Barton says he had a great day learning. There are 29 different stations at this year's Conservation Field Days covering everything from making maple syrup, to how to stay safe in the woods, and deal with animals that may approach. Fifth-grade Teacher Melissa Deppas from Southwestern says Conservations Field Days is a genuine educational experience. There's a second Conservation Field Day set for Thursday at Lake Chautauqua Lutheran Camp.
Sheriff's Dept. identifies man killed in town of Pomfret accident...
A Fredonia man has now been identified as the person killed late Tuesday night on a one-car crash in the north county town of Pomfret. Chautauqua County Sheriff's officers say 49 year-old David Lewandowski was northbound on Chestnut Road shortly before 10 p.m. Tuesday... and, failed to negotiate a curve. Deputies say Lewendowski's vehicle traveled through a lawn before the car struck a tree on the driver's side. Officers say he was pronounced dead at the scene. The Fredonia Fire Department's rescue team was also called to the scene.
JNP to close on June 30, says letter...
A long-time, Christian-based human service agency in Jamestown will be shutting it's doors at the end of June. We have learned that the Joint Neighborhood Project will be closing it's location at 532 East Second St. due to funding contraints... and, an effort to prevent "duplication of programs and services." In a letter obtained by Media One News... Interim Executive Director Patty Perlee says "everything has it's own season, and after 50 years, the season for Joint Neighborhood Project is coming to a close." JNP began in the 1960s as a provider of recreational opportunities for children in that part of the city. We were unable to reach Perlee for comment Wednesday afternoon.
City man arrested during drug raid in Jamestown...
A several week-long investigation has landed a Jamestown man in jailed for allegedly selling large quantities of "crack" cocaine in the city. City Police Captain Bob Samuelson says the department's Drug Enforcement Unit... along with the State Police CNET Team... raided an apartment at 402 Lafayette St. about 1:45 p.m. Wednesday... and, arrested 35 year-old Tyrone Schaffer. Samuelson says they also found a quantity of cocaine... drug paraphernalia... and, a quantity of cash inside. He says Schaffer was arrested without incident... and, charged with Felony criminal possession of a controlled substance... first-degree criminal nuisance... and, criminally using drug paraphernalia. Samuelson says there is no doubt there's been a rise in "crack" cocaine trafficking in the city... it's a matter of "supply and demand..." and unfortunately... there are people here ready to service the demand. He adds police are continuing to investigate to see if their most recent arrests are connected. Schaffer was considered a "street-level" dealer. He was arraigned in city court... and, sent to the County Jail without bail... pending a preliminary hearing.
Bemus Point school officials "shocked" by budget defeat...
Bemus Point school officials are expressing shock today after their proposed, $13.1-million dollar spending plan was rejected by residents in a close vote. The district's budget was the only one in Chautauqua County to be defeated Tuesday. Bemus Point Superintendent Jackie Latshaw says what was most shocking was the fact they had worked so hard to get the community involved in deciding what kind of programming they wanted in the final spending plan. Latshaw says people asked for smaller class sizes in the elementary grades... and, even restoration of some programming that had been taken out. She says she's not sure why the budget -- which included a 5-percent tax increase -- was rejected, 215 "yes" to 227 "no." She says there were a lot of competing events taking place... and, people may have assumed the spending plan would pass. As for the next move... Latshaw says the board will meet soon... and, review it's options. They could put the same budget up for a vote... put a revised budget up for a vote... or move to a contingency spending plan. Latshaw says they have until June 18 to hold another public hearing... and, get a budget in place.
Dunkirk man pleads guilty to filing 122 tax returns under names of recently deceased people...
A Dunkirk man has pleaded guilty to filing more than 100 tax returns under the names of people who had recently died. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Buffalo says 42-year-old John Berry, Jr. pleaded guilty Tuesday to making a false claim against the United States. Prosecutors say he filed 122 false income tax returns in 2008 and 2009 seeking refunds totaling $218,000. Authorities say more than $92,000 was deposited directly into his bank account. Berry faces up to five years in prison when he's sentenced in August.
A Warren County, Pennsylvania man was killed after his pick-up truck crashed head-on with a beverage truck in Sugar Grove Township yesterday morning. State Police in Warren say 26 year-old Melvin Murvine of Youngsville was northbound on Route 27 just after 8:30 AM when his truck crested a hill about half-a-mile south of Route 69. Troopers say Murvine's truck went into the southbound lane for an unknown reason... and, slammed into the larger delivery truck... operated by 48 year-old Scott Williams of Sugar Grove. Police say Murvine was pronounced dead at the scene. Williams was taken to Warren General Hospital for treatment of back pain... and, later released. Police say both men were wearing their seat belts. No charges were filed.
One person is dead following a one vehicle accident in the Town of Pomfret. The Chautauqua County Sherriff's Department reports that the operator of the vehicle was traveling north on Chestnutt Road just before 10pm Tuesday and failed to negotiate a curve. The driver travelled through a lawn before striking a tree. The drivers name is being withheld until the family is notified. The Fredonia Fire Department was also at the scene.
With no tax increase... and, no teacher lay-offs... the Jamestown School District budget was approved overwhelmingly Tuesday by a 5-to-1 margin. The tally was 320-to-68 in a low voter turn-out. Voters also approved a 795-thousand dollar bus proposition. The tally there was 302-to-79. School Board President Joe DiMaio says it was a "good night...." The Jamestown district plans to buy five full-sized buses... and, three other smaller ones with the proposition. Most of the funding will come from state monies. The vote also gave School Superintendent Deke Kathman a budget victory in his final year before retiring from the district. DiMaio was also re-elected to the Jamestown School Board. The Board President received the most votes... 304. Patrick Slagle... who was elected last year to replace Barbara Piazza on the board... was second with 282 votes. Challenger Todd Rushforth was third with 118 votes.
All but one school budget in south and center Chautauqua County passed in Tuesday's votes. The 13.1-million dollar spending plan proposed for the Bemus Point School District was defeated by just 12 votes. District officials say the vote was 215 in favor... 227 against. That spending plan included a 424-thousand dollar increase in the tax levy... and, a spending hike of about 645-thousand. There is no word on what district officials will do in the wake of that budget defeat. However... a 205-thousand dollar bus proposition was approved, 251-to-193. Barry Swanson and Lisa Allenson were voted onto the school board uncontested.
At Southwestern... new superintendent Maureen Donahue saw her first budget plan approved by the voters by a better than 2-to-1 margin. The 25.8-million dollar budget was adopted, 324-to-126. School officials add a companion bus proposition for up to 216-thousand dollars was also adopted by more than 200 votes. Bill Burk ran unopposed for the school board.
Falconer School District residents approved a 21.6-million dollar budget for the new school year, 167-to-59. There were no other propositions... and, Todd Beckerink and Christopher Hannon were elected to the school board.
In Frewsburg... district voters approved a proposed, 15.5-million dollar budget, 153-to-95. A proposition to buy two new buses was approved, 159-to-74. Three incumbants... and, one newcomer ran unchallenged for the school board.
Voters in the Cassadaga Valley Central School District have approved a 2013-2014 budget by about a 3-to-1 margin. The vote was 232-to-82 for the 19.9-million dollar spending plan. A 306-thousand dollar transportation proposition for two full-sized buses... one mini-bus, and a suburban was also approved 219-to-88. Jeanne Oag was re-elected to one school board seat with 319 votes... and, Daniel Pavlock was elected with the same number.
In Panama... voters approved a 12.2-million dollar budget that included no tax increase, 127-to-40. They also approved a 90-thousand dollar bus purchase 129-to-38. Incumbant school board members Robert Delahoy and Greg Hudson were re-elected uncontested...
In Brocton... voters approved the district's spending plan, 189-to-66. Beth Jagoda and Robert Mead-Colegrove won re-election to the school board.
Voters in the Sherman Central School District approved an 8.77-million dollar budget that includes a 71-cent per thousand tax rate decrease. The vote was 160-to-37. They also approved a transportation proposition for two-buses... and, one Tahoe. That vote was 151-to-40. Emily Kidd ran unopposed for the school board.
Budgets were also adopted in the Pine Valley, Clymer, Westfield, Ripley, and, Chautauqua Lake School Districts.
The major power outage last Sunday night in Jamestown that lasted about an hour-and-a-half was caused by a fault in the 35-thousand volt line that carries electricity from the Dow Street Substation to the Carlson Generating Station. Board of Public Utilities' Spokeswoman Becky Robbins says the outage occured shortly after 5 PM... and, affected the city's south and west sides... West Ellicott... and, Celoron. Robbins says a piece of equipment -- known as "termination" -- the point at which overhead lines transition to underground cable... failed... and, is being replaced. She says troubleshooting continues as it relates to the root cause of the failure.
The Ellicott Town Board has decided to hold their meetings on the first and third Monday of the month at an earlier time in hopes of getting more residents to attend. That from Town Supervisor Cecil Miller... who says he had asked for the earlier meeting time for one of their June meetings. However... he says discussion Monday night moved to changing the time to 6 PM permanently. Miller says they very seldom have people attend their meetings... unless there is a controversial issue before the board. He says they're hoping the earlier time will be more convenient... and, with meetings also ending earlier... residents can be home at a more reasonable time. Miller says the new start time of 6 PM will take effect with the Ellicott Town Board's June 3rd meeting.
School budget votes: Jamestown's approved easily, Bemus Point's is defeated by 12 votes...
With no tax increase... and, no teacher lay-offs... the Jamestown School District budget was approved overwhelmingly Tuesday by a 5-to-1 margin. The tally was 320-to-68 in a low voter turn-out on the $75.3-million spending plan. Voters also approved a $795,000 bus proposition... and, re-elected Joe DiMaio and Patrick Slagle to the school board.
For the most part... all other budgets in southern and central Chautauqua County were approved by wide margins... except in a couple of cases. However... the $13.1-million dollar budget in Bemus Point was defeated by 12 votes. District officials say the vote was 215 in favor... 227 against. There is no word on what district officials will do in the wake of the defeat. However... a bus proposition was approved, 251-to-193. Barry Swanson and Lisa Allenson were voted onto the school board uncontested.
At Southwestern... new superintendent Maureen Donahue sees her first budget plan approved by the voters by a better than 2-to-1 margin. The $25.8-million spending plan was passed, 324-to-126. A companion bus proposition was also adopted by more than 200 votes.
Budgets were also adopted in the Cassadaga Valley, Falconer, Frewsburg, Panama, Pine Valley, Clymer, Brocton, Westfield, Ripley, Sherman, and Chautauqua Lake School Districts.
It's school budget vote day in New York state... and, the Jamestown-area's first district to allow voters to cast their ballots will again be Southwestern. That district's voters will decide on a 25.8-million dollar budget that raises taxes by about 2.44-percent. Polls will be open at the high school from 7 to 9 this morning. New Superintendent Maureen Donahue says spending is up from 2012-2013 by about 118-thousand dollars. Donahue says there were a number of factors that led to the spending increase... including rising pension, and health insurance costs. However... she says there were some cuts, too. Donahue says the loss of state Foundation -- or base -- aid over the past five years has been the biggest driver of increased costs. She says the district is seeing a just over 8-percent increase in foundation aid in 2013-2014... due in large part to a 417-thousand dollar restoration in the district's -- "gap elimination adjustment." Donahue says the 2.44-percent tax increase... including exclusions... comes in under the state's 2-percent property tax cap. Polls at Southwestern will also be open from 2 PM to 9 PM tonight. Residents in the Southwestern District will also vote on a transportation proposition to purchase three new buses. Donahue says the cost is to not exceed 216-thousand dollars. Donahue says one is a full-sized bus... while the other two are 14-passenger vehicles. In addition... there's one school seat up for a vote. There were to be three... but, Donahue reminds voters that they approved cutting the school board from 9 to 7 members. Incumbant Bill Burk is seeking re-election.
Falconer School District residents will vote today on a 21.6-million dollar budget for the new school year. School Superintendent Steve Penhollow says the spending plan includes a 2.5-percent tax increase over the current year's spending plan. However... Penhollow says -- with exclusions -- the increase still falls under the state's 2-percent property tax cap. Except for a couple of mandated areas... he says they were able to hold the line on spending. He says school officials tried to be as "balanced" as they could be in laying out the budget.
Some districts have taken up the state on it's offer to use "pension-smoothing" to hold down costs... but, Penhollow says... Falconer school officials decided that was not "a good option" for them. He says the 2.25-percent cut they would get would -- at some point -- have to be paid to the state... with interest. Penhollow says there are no other propositions on the ballot... and, two people are running for two board seats. One is current board President Todd Beckerink. Voting in Falconer is from 2 to 8 PM today.
City lawmakers have overwhelmingly approved five measures officials say will help save the city on it's health... property and liability insurance costs. Four of the five were unanimous... and, four are with the same company as last year. Finance Committee Chairman Tony Dolce says the moves will also save the city money... and, improve the efficiency of it's insurance programs. The lone change was in Jamestown's "stop-loss" program that covers health care costs above the amount set on each worker. In that case... Dolce says the contract went to H-M Premier Company... instead of Veracity. City Comptroller Joe Bellitto says they'll have about a 10-thousand dollar savings with Premier handling their "stop-loss" program. The ceiling for that is 150-thousand dollars. However... lawmakers voted to keep Veracity -- which is in Jamestown -- for consulting and employee benefit services. Councilwoman Kim Ecklund voted "no" on that measure. Ecklund says she has some questions on the service contract she wanted more answers to. She feels Veracity has done a "very good" job for the city in the past... her issue was more with not having one of the two companies take both the "stop-loss" and consulting and employee services.
The local TEA Party group did not seek the "tax-exempt" status from the IRS... but, will be joining in a peaceful, nation-wide protest outside IRS offices this afternoon. Southern Tier TEA Party Express spokesman Mel McGinnis is urging local members... and, others from the public... to join them at East Third Street and Prendergast Avenue in Jamestown at 12 Noon. There were also a number of high-profile conservatives that were reportedly targeted by the IRS. McGinnis says the local TEA Party organization made an early decision to NOT file for 501(c)4 status that would have made them tax-exempt. He says they kept themselves "away from the IRS as much as possible." However... he says they wanted to demonstrate in support of TEA Party groups that were targeted. McGinnis remembers hearing stories "two or three-years ago" that the IRS was asking intrusive questions about local and national TEA Party organizations when they filed for 501(c) 4 status. He says now that the allegations have been found to be factual... it's upsetting.
The resignation of a New York state lawmaker embroiled in a sex harassment scandal has become official a month earlier than he had originally planned. Assemblyman Vito Lopez of Brooklyn announced on Saturday that his resignation from the 53rd Assembly District seat is effective as of 9 this (Monday). The surprise announcement came just a day after the 72-year-old Democrat defied demands by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign immediately.
Natural Gas explosion leads to fire that destroys vacant home in Westfield...
Firefighters from five departments battled a house fire that apparently began as an explosion in the town of Westfield. The fire on Route 5 -- near McKinley Road --- was reportedly shortly before 11 a.m. That from Westfield Fire Chief Steve Pacanowski... who ways the building was fully engulfed by flames when they arrived. Pacanowski says it appeared to be a vacant house that had seen some kind of explosion... possibly involving a natural gas feed. Pacanowski says manpower was "thin..." and, that he had to call for mutual aid from Brocton, Portland, Fredonia... and, Ripley along with county fire coordinators. No injuries were reported. County fire investigators have determined a natural gas explosion triggered the blaze. The home was supplied with natural gas from a nearby well. Route 5 from Route 394 to Pratt Road was closed for about an hour because of the fire.
Reed concerned about IRS head of implementing Obamacare's possible role in agency's "targeting" scandal...
Congressman Tom Reed says he is "troubled" that the woman who headed up the tax-exempt division of the Internal Revenue Service during the recent scandal will head up implementation of the Affordable Care Act for the IRS. During his regular weekly telephone news conference today... Reed says Sarah Ingram-Hall will have a lot of clout... and, access to health care information on virtually all Americans... and, whether or not they are complying. He says the person will have information available to them as to what people have for health care coverage, and compliance information will be available. Reed says the House Ways and Means Committee... which began hearings into the IRS scandal last Friday... wants to make sure the right person heads up the IRS's implementation of Obamacare. He says if Ingram-Hall was involved directly in the targeting of conservative groups for extra scrutiny... that's a problem. Reed adds that Committee Democrats are also outraged. He pointed to New York's Joe Crowley's questioning of the current head of the IRS's tax-exempt division, Lois Learner. Reed says that says to him the problem is "not about politics... but, the abuse of power in government."
Local TEA Party members to protest in front of Jamestown IRS office in support of TEA Party organization's targeted in IRS "targeting" scandal...
The local TEA Party group did not seek the "tax-exempt" status from the IRS... but, will be joining in a peaceful, nation-wide protest outside IRS offices Tuesday afternoon. Southern Tier TEA Party Express spokesman Mel McGinnis is urging local members... and, others from the public... to join them at East Third Street and Prendergast Avenue in Jamestown at 12 p.m. McGinnis says they want to raise awareness on this "aggressive overeaching IRS agenda against certain groups" that also go "beyond the TEA Party itself." There were also a number of high-profile conservatives that were reportedly targeted by the IRS. McGinness says the local TEA Party organization made an early decision to NOT file for 501(c)4 status that would have made them tax-exempt. He says they kept themselves "away from the IRS as much as possible." However... he says they wanted to demonstrate in support of TEA Party groups that were targeted. McGinness remembers hearing stories "two or three-years ago" that the IRS was asking intrusive questions about local and national TEA Party organizations when they filed for 501(c) 4 status. He says now that the allegations have been found to be factual... it's upsetting.
BPU Outage remains under investigation...
Parts of the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities service area were without power for at least an hour-and-a-half early last evening. The widespread outage was first reported to Jamestown Police shortly after 5 p.m. BPU Spokeswoman Becky Robbins says the outage affected areas mainly on the city's south and west sides. Parts of the town of Ellicott... including West Ellicott... and, Kiantone were also affected. Robbins says the widespread outage was triggered by a "power fault" in a major line between the Carlson Generating Station... and, the Dow Street Substation. Jamestown police reported power was coming back to parts of the city about 6:30 PM. Everyone was back on about 7 p.m. The cause of the fault remains under investigation.
Parts of the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities service area were without power for at least an hour-and-a-half early last evening. The widespread outage was first reported to Jamestown Police shortly after 5 PM. BPU Spokeswoman Becky Robbins says the outage affected areas mainly on the city's south and west sides. Parts of the town of Ellicott... including West Ellicott... and, Kiantone were also affected. Robbins says the widespread outage was triggered by a "power fault" in a major line between the Carlson Generating Station... and, the Dow Street Substation. Jamestown police reported power was coming back to parts of the city about 6:30 PM. Everyone was back on about 7 PM. The cause of the fault remains under investigation.
Four people have been arrested... and, a large quantity of cocaine, and other drugs have been confiscated... in Cattaraugus County following a traffic stop -- and, three raids. Southern Tier Regional Drug Task Force officials say Sheriff's Deputies first pulled over 30 year-old Alexis Erickson of Allegany on Route 417 in Ellicottville early last weekend on a search warrant. Officers say she was found with about 11-thousand dollars of cocaine in her possession... and, she was jailed on a Felony count of criminal possession of a controlled substance. Task Force members then raided three apartments on Route 417 where Erickson lived. They arrested 26 year-old Jerome Hayes on warrants charging him with failure to appear on a number of charges -- including assault. Hayes was also charged with two Felony drug possession charges. He's accused of having nearly 9-grams of heroin in his possession... along with 16 Oxycodone tablets. He was arraigned... and, sent to the Cattaraugus County Jail on 50-thousand dollars bail. Two other men from Buffalo were also arrested with unlawful possesion of marijuana... and, released pending future court appearances. Investigators say more charges are pending.
Chautauqua County's Congressman feels the targeting of conservative groups... and, other problems revealed about the IRS... could be headed off with a simplified tax code. Corning Republican Tom Reed made his comments after the first of what are expected to be a number of hearings by the House Ways and Means Committee last Friday. Reed says most of the testimony by the man just forced out as Acting Chief of the Internal Revenue Service was "appalling." Reed says it's been confirmed that conservative groups got tougher scrutiny for their applications for tax exempt status. However... while Acting IRS Director Steve Miller apologized to the committee last Friday... he refused to acknowledge there was deliberate targeting of groups that have names like "Tea Party..." "Conservative.." or "Constitution" in their name. Reed adds he's upset that Miller wasn't immediately fired. Reed says it's all too apparent that the IRS had a "culture of targeting groups. Miller insisted that political bias wasn't the reason for the heightened scrutiny. He says the IRS was struggling to efficiently handle growing numbers of applications for the tax-exempt status. But... Reed says that's just a "convenient excuse."
A State Assemblyman accused of sexually harassing young female staffers for years says he will resign before he's expelled from the Legislature. Assemblyman Vito Lopez informed leaders on Saturday he will resign effective this morning. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver had planned a rare expulsion proceeding against Lopez beginning today. Lopez was once a powerful Brooklyn Democratic leader and has been in the Assembly's Democratic majority since 1984. Two reports released last week detailed lurid accusations of sexual harassment of several women on his staff, but neither report found proof of a crime. Silver was trying to expel Lopez on the basis of apparently violating Assembly policies against sexual harassment and retaliation. The state ethics board has also accused Lopez of civil violations of the Public Officer's Law.
Seneca Nation of Indians President Barry Snyder says Governor Cuomo of taking part in ``playground bully tactics'' over their casino disagreement. The comments come a day after the governor said the Senecas could lose their ability to operate casinos after their compact expires in 2016. At issue is more than 500-million dollars in casino payments the Senecas have withheld from the state since 2009. The Seneca's claim the state has violated the compact by allowing video slot machines into facilities within the compact area.
The New York state parks system is adding 36 new officers to the ranks of its police force responsible for safety at 179 parks and 35 historic sites. Officials with the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation announced this week that 36 recruits have graduated from the New York State Park Police Academy in Rensselaerville... which is just outside Albany. It's the agency's first training academy graduation since 2008. Academy classes were put on hold because of state budget cuts brought on by the recession. Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey says the class of 2013 represents the beginning of the rebuilding of the Park Police force and the entire state parks system. The 36 recruits will be assigned to regional commands throughout the state.
Roberts pays tribute to Jackson in Jamestown on 10th anniversary of RHJ Center...
The current Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court paid tribute to late Justice Robert H. Jackson Friday on the 10th anniversary of the center bearing his name in Jamestown. Justice John Roberts, who was born in Buffalo, spoke for about 20 minutes about Jackson from the porch of the Jackson Center. Roberts talked a lot about Jackson's quick assention and dedication. He says that was never more evident than 59 years ago Friday when Jackson returned to the court to hear the final opinion in the Brown versus Board of Education case. Jackson had suffered a major heart attack back on March 30 of 1954. Roberts says Jackson left the hospital on May 17 so he could hear the decision announced. A few months later, Jackson suffered another heart attack that ultimately took his life. However... Roberts says Jackson left behind a "inspiring legacy of a public servant, and true patriot." While he spent only 13 years on the high court... Roberts says Jackson made a lasting impact... and, added "what a mark he left." He says Jackson issued 154 "Opinions of the Court..." 115 Dissents... and, 46 "Concerning Opinions." However... Roberts also injected a lot of judicial humor into his talk... saying that when a judge speaks in court, he will likely disappoint half of the people. When he speaks in public... he has "a fair chance of "disappointing everyone." Roberts also reflected on the changes in the Supreme Court since Jackson sat there but noted that today's judges share the same ideals as their predecessors.
RHJ Director calls Roberts visit a very rare occasion...
Prior to his address... Chief Justice Roberts took a tour of the Jackson Center... and, it's many exhibits honoring Jackson's contributions to the high court... and, Nuremberg. This is the third time a sitting Chief Justice of the U-S Supreme Court has visited Jamestown. That's an honor few -- if any other -- small towns in the U-S can claim. Jackson Center Executive Director Jim Johnson told our Jim Roselle that public appearances by the Chief Justice are "very rare." Johnson says he may do three or four appearances a year... but, that's often at college commencements, or other major events. He says they hope Roberts enjoyed his tour of the Jackson Center. He also applauded the work of the small army of volunteers that helped in the planning and logistics to get the Chief Justice here for the event. Following Chief Justice Roberts' speech... he and several other dignitaties and members of the local judiciary went back inside the Jackson Center for a special luncheon.
Canada earthquake register's 5.1-magnitude, shakes parts of WNY for a short time...
A 5.1-magnitude earthquake in Ontario, Canada has been felt across upstate New York from Buffalo to the Vermont border. Canada's government agency that monitors earthquakes says the quake occurred at 9:43 a.m. Friday about 13 miles northeast of Shawville, Quebec, about an hour's drive outside of Ottawa. Local media outlets in northern New York say people in communities along the St. Lawrence River and as far east as Lake Champlain on New York-Vermont border reported feeling their homes shake. There are also reports from residents of Buffalo and surrounding suburbs who say they felt their houses sway and the ground shake for less than one minute. Rochester and Syracuse media outlets also report that the quake was felt in those areas. There are no reports of damage.
North county fires damage two structures, one a garage...
Firefighters from six departments had to battle a house fire on Route 20 in the town of Portland overnight. Chautauqua County Sheriff's Department dispatch center says the first call came in around 1:30 this morning. Portland had mutual aid from Brocton, Westfield, Mayville, Stockton and Fredonia. Route 20 was closed for over three-and-a-half hours because of the fire. The Chautauqua County Fire Investigation has been called in to determine a cause. No injuries have been reported.
About 30 firefighters were called to put out a blaze that damaged a garage on Howard St. in the village of Fredonia. Second Assistant Fredonia Fire Chief John Lanphere says the fire at 93 Howard Street was first reported about 9:30 p.m. Thursday. Lanphere says the first crews reported heavy fire conditions from the garage that was attached to a home. Fire crews were able to quickly douse the flames, with the fire confined to the garage. No injuries were reported and all occupants were able to get out of the house. The County Fire Investigation team is now looking for a cause.
Local News Headlines
A Ripley man is being treated for serious injuries after his speeding motorcycle crashed into a guard rail in the town of Ripley early Thursday morning. Sheriff's Deputies were called to the scene on Route 76 shortly after 12 Midnight on a report of a single-vehicle accident. Officers say 24 year-old David Baum was southbound at a very high rate of speed when he lost control on a curve... and, the bike overturned before it struck the guard rail. Deputies say Baum was treated at the scene... then flown to UPMC-Hamot in Erie, Pennsylvania. Officers got a blood test from Baum at the hospital... and, say charges are expected at a later date.
Final details were being tended to late yesterday in preparation for this morning's appearance in Jamestown by U-S Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. Roberts will be delivering the keynote speech at the 10th anniversary of the dedication of the Robert H. Jackson Center at 10 AM. Several hundred people... including about 15-hundred school students... are expected to be on hand when Roberts speaks from the center's Fourth Street porch. Jackson Center Executive Director Jim Johnson believes the Chief Justice will gear many of his remarks to those students. Speaking with our Jim Roselle and Dennis Webster... Johnson said Roberts fully understands Jackson's place in history... both on the Supreme Court... and, at Nuremburg. He adds that Roberts himself could wind up making history before he's done because he's in his mid-50s. Johnson says he's served seven years as chief justice... and, if he serves another 27 years... he will be the longest serving chief Justice ever. The longest serving Chief Justice in the history of the U-S Supreme Court was John Marshall... who served 34 years on the high court. You can hear full coverage of Roberts' speech... and, events leading up to it... here on WJTN.
Chautauqua County has finished 2012 in the black... and, the county's top-elected official credits some tough decisions... and, using innovative approaches to produce the savings. County Executive Greg Edwards says the county's year end audit for 2012 shows a 5.8-million dollar surplus for the general fund. Edwards says that's a major turnaround from the significant defict that was projected in 2011. Edwards says the surplus should help the county as work begins on the 2014 county budget. He says the biggest savings stemmed from the merger of the Department of Social Services... and, the Department of Health. Christine Schuyler now heads up both areas... and, their work saved about 2.7-million dollars. While more tough decisions are expected... Edwards says the surplus and efficiencies should help reduce a projected 13-million deficit going into 2014 by nearly 10-million. Next year's budget will be the last one for Edwards... who recently announced that he was not seeking a third term as County Executive.
A top Democrat in the U-S Senate plans to revive legislation that would protect journalists and their employers from revealing their sources. New York lawmaker Chuck Schumer made the announcement days after it was revealed that the Justice Department secretly obtained Associated Press phone records. A congressional official said Schumer plans to reintroduce the 2009 bill. The legislation stalled in Congress in past years. The government obtained the records from April and May of 2012 for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists... including main offices. A-P's top executive called the action a massive and unprecedented intrusion into how news organizations do their work. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to publicly discuss the senator's plans.
Gas prices in the Jamestown-area continue to drop this week. In fact... the nearly 3-cent a gallon decrease means prices have gone down for eight straight weeks now. The Triple-A's Fuel Gauge report says the cost for a gallon of regular, unleaded is now 3-dollars-72 cents. Nationally... the Triple-A reports the average price for a gallon has climbed 6-cnets to 3-dollars-58 cents. That's the largest weekly increase since February. Higher crude oil prices are among the factors for the increase.
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