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News Headlines for Mon., June 30, 2014

Horrigan announces Shared Services Forum in Mayville July 16...

A Shared Services forum will be held next month in Mayville to see how Chautauqua County... and, it's municipalities... may benefit from Governor Cuomo's proposed tax freeze program.  County Executive Vince Horrigan says the tax freeze... which has a certain number of requirements.... was part of the state budget passed last April.  Horrigan says the forum will be held on Wednesday, July 16, from 1 to 4 p.m. in Room B-10 of the Gerace Office Building in Mayville.  Horrigan says -- "I believe there are many questions that need to be answered to understand this initiative.  I would encourage all elected municipal leaders and school officials to join me to become more familiar with the Governor’s proposal... and, to find out what we can do collectively for the benefit of our residents and taxpayers."  He says a portion of the State’s budget proposal provides rebate checks to STAR eligible properties for municipalities that stay within the 2-percent property tax cap in the first year along with other conditions to be met in future years.  Local government and school officials have been invited to attend the forum... as have state officials to help answer any questions.  The forum will not be open to the general public.  For local officials who haven't yet reserved a spot at the forum... you can call Horrigan's office at 753-4211.

Legislature approves emergency funding to repair Bard Road, Horrigan says work will begin shortly...

The county will begin the complete rebuilding of Bard Road between Griswold and Rood Roads in the town of Arkwright shortly now that the legislature has approved funding for the project.  Lawmakers in Mayville last week unanimously approved using $400,000 from the fund balanace to reconstruct a 200 to 300-foot section of Bard Road... which is also County Route 312.  County Executive Vince Horrigan says he's pleased the panel approved the measure... but, adds he had engaged the legislature early about the need to get that done as soon as possible.  Horrigan says both he, and some lawmakers, looked over the location and he calls that section "unpassable."  He says the county has to get right-of-way approvals to be able to get on the land to get the work started.  He adds the emergency rebuild will be done by the county's Department of Public Facilities... but, adds he's not sure if any utility work will have to be done there.  Horrigan says the road has been "top coated" several times... but, adds -- with the harsh Winter -- the foundation is now unstable.  Horrigan says the roadway failure there was "unplanned... unforseen... and, unbudgeted."

West Nile Virus detected for the first time in NYS this past weekend...

New York state residents are being urged to avoid mosquito bites this summer now that health officials have found the season's first trace of West Nile Virus.  The state's Department of Health says the virus was confirmed in a mosquito sample from Rockland County last week.  Acting state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker says residents should cover up when outdoors, use insect repellent and eliminate sources of standing water, where mosquitoes breed.  There have been no reported human cases of the virus so far this year.  Last year there were 33 human cases and no deaths. 

Cuomo announces initiative to end New York's HIV epidemic by 2020...

New York state has a plan to end its three-decade HIV epidemic by the year 2020.  Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the ambitious initiative on Sunday, the day of New York City's s Gay Pride Parade.  The state aims to bring the disease to below epidemic levels by increasing HIV testing while boosting tracking and treatment for people who have the virus.  The plan includes getting bulk discounts on HIV drugs.  About 3-thousand New York state residents are expected to be diagnosed with HIV this year, down from 14,000 new cases in 1993.  Cuomo's plan aims to reduce new diagnoses to 750 per year by 2020.  If the state is successful... it would be the first time the number of people living with HIV has gone down since the crisis began.

Jamestown's city Arborist announces new tree program during Arbor Day program in city's "Lost Neighborhood..."

Jamestown may soon have a new avenue for obtaining funding to purchase trees... or getting them at a greatly reduced price to enhance the city's "Urban Forest."  Two new Blue Spruce trees were planted late last week on the South Main Street side of the Salvation Army headquarters... during which City Arborist Dan Stone announced efforts to make Jamestown a "Tree-Lining USA" city.  Stone says they chose their annual Arbor Day celebration to annouce the effort underway jointly with the Board of Public Utilities for municipally-owned utilities.  Stone says the "Tree-Lining USA" designation is bestowed by the National Arbor Day Foundation... which has given Jamestown "Tree City USA" status for the past 33 years.  He says there are two other requirements to get the new designation.  One is safety training... and the second is tree maintenance.  Stone says that second one is big one because they want to obtain smaller trees that don't get tangled in overhead power lines.  He says that means less tree maintenance... and, keeping "power on for people."