County legislators approved a 2021 budget that calls for a five-cent per thousand increase in the full value tax rate. Legislator Terry Niebel proposed an amendment that would have kept the tax rate unchanged from 2020. But Audit and Control Chairman Chuck Nazarro says there's a lot of uncertainty caused by the pandemic and tax rate increase was necessary. The amendment was defeated 14-5, with the final budget clearing the legislature by an 18-1 vote.
The county legislature last night did not vote on the appointment of the first Hispanic woman to be the new Democratic Elections Commissioner. Current Commissioner Norm Green says Luz Torres... who is currently the Deputy Democratic Election Commissioner, had her name withdrawn by all of the members of the Administrative Services Committee from the Legislature’s agenda. Christine Starks, the lone Democrat on the committee, joined her four Republican Admin Services colleagues in withdrawing support. Green says he tried speak on the issue at the first privilege of the floor, but was removed by a deputy sheriff at the request Democratic Legislature Minority Leader Chuck Nazzaro... because the appointment resolution had been pulled, and Nazzaro claimed Green no longer was entitled to speak to a resolution that was withdrawn from the agenda.
Chautauqua County has now passed the one-thousand mark in confirmed COVID-19 cases after 19 new cases were reported on Wednesday. The county's Health Department says there are now one-thousand-6 total cases... and, 132 of them are currently active. Officials say seven were reported in Fredonia... while six were in Dunkirk... and another five were in Jamestown. The other was in Sinclairville. Interim County Executive P-J Wendel says there are currently 6 active cases among employees of Tanglewood Manor, and 38 among residents there. Wendel adds that 18 employees and 52 residents associated with that outbreak have recovered. In addition... the Health Department is continuing to investigate a cluster of cases in the north county where at least 17 cases are linked to a private event. Seven of those cases are active and 10 have recovered. Wendel says 861 cases have now recovered... and, 21 people are hospitalized.
Jamestown City officials confirmed Wednesday night that a cluster of cases has been detected within the city's fire department. That from Mayor Eddie Sundquist... who says there have been six positive cases confirmed out of the 55-member Fire Department through the Chautauqua County Department of Health’s rapid testing operation. In accordance with State and County guidelines, Sundquist says affected members have been contacted by the Health Department for isolation and quarantine orders. Sundquist adds that -- “Public safety remains our top priority, and the day-to-day fire department operations are not expected to be impacted. All stations have been proactively sanitized."
The Felony conviction rate in Chautauqua County dropped last year to 17.4-percent... but, incumbant District Attorney Patrick Swanson says his office is actually doing better than most in that regard. Responding to charges by his Republican opponent, Jason Schmidt, Swanson says his office did better than our neighbors to the north.
Swanson says very few New York state counties are even above 50-percent... and, if they are... the Felony caseload per Assistant D-A is much lower. He says the county's overall conviction rate is about 81-percent... while the rest of the state is at 61-percent. Swanson praised his Assistant D-A's for their work and efforts considering the the circumstances "they work under." He says they have the highest caseload per attorney in the state. Swanson says... even with an additional prosecutor in his office this year... they are still stretched too thin. There are now 12-and-a-half staff members in the DA's office. Swanson made his comments for last weekend's "Community Spotlight" program on the six Media One Radio Group stations.
Local Congressman Tom Reed says he's more determined than ever to do what's right for the residents of the Southern Tier following two recent incidents in his hometown area. Reed says police in the Corning-area are continuing to investigate a brick being thrown through the window of his Corning campaign headquarters... and another involving the discovery of a brick with one of his children's name on it, and dead rat.
Reed says the day that his wife found the brick and dead animal... and, the day after... was quite difficult for his family. He says it's taken some emotional toll, as well, because you're "talking about your own children." Reed adds, though, that he is undeterred in his run for a sixth-term against Democrat Tracy Mitrano. He'll be in Ithaca later today for a "Stand Up for Your Rights and Freedom" Rally at the Ithaca Commons. Reed made his comments during his weekly conference call with Southern Tier Media.
Jamestown's Department of Public Works offices will be moving from the fourth floor of the Municipal Building at Tracy Plaza to 145 Steele Street next Monday. DPW director Jeff Lehman says the move is to allow consolidation of office space in City Hall for new tenants. He says office hours at the new location will be 8 AM to Noon... and, 1 PM to 4:30 PM each Monday through Friday. The office entrance is at the back of the building off Sprague Street. For additional information, contact the DPW at 483-7545.
New York's governor is now urging residents to avoid non-essential travel to neighboring Massachusetts, as the state adds California to its COVID-19 advisory. Residents from states on New York's quarantine list must self-quarantine for 14 days. Only seven states -- including New York -- have reported an average of fewer than 10 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days. New York is not adding its neighboring states to its official advisory list because Governor Andrew Cuomo says it's too hard to enforce quarantine rules in the interconnected region.