Testimony is now underway in the trial of an Elmira-area man accused of being the ringleader of a group of four men accused in double-murder of a town of Carroll couple. District Attorney David Foley says five witnesses took the stand after opening statements were made... following a two-hour delay. Foley says he, and, Public Defender Ned Barone finally began the trial about 11:30 yesterday morning. 34 year-old Davide Coggins faces 11 charges... including one of first-degree murder. One of the witnesses was Chautauqua County Sheriff's Department member Jeff Hover. Foley says the delay was caused by a juror issue. Coggins is the alleged mastermind of the home-invasion -- murder case -- in which the four men allegedly went to the home of 66 year-old Gordon... and, 59 year-old Joyce Skinner... and, stabbed both to death in April of last year. Foley expects to call up to 10 witnesses today.
Members of the Chautauqua County Legislature's lead financial committee believe they can bring in a no-tax increase budget for 2015. However... details aren't yet being released. The Audit and Control Committee spent a second day Tuesday looking at the proposed 228.6-million dollar spending plan. The panel completed it's first review of ALL departments yesterday afternoon... and, found several potential cuts. However... Committee Chairman John Runkle told us last night they'll finalize them today. The committee began it's review of individual department head budgets in Mayville Monday... and, found some potential cuts... but, only pulled the trigger on one. Committee member George Borrello filled in as Acting Chairman that day... and, says the cut was for 32-thousand dollars in the Sheriff's Department. He says Sheriff Joe Gerace is confident he will get the funding needed through a grant... so the money was removed from the budget. Runkle says he believes they can achieve a zero-tax increase even without dipping into the county's Fund Balance. County Executive Vince Horrigan has strongly recommended against it so as to keep a cushion in place while dealing with a 7-million dollar structural deficit.
New York is creating a new initiative to help small businesses in the state take advantage of growing international markets. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the program Tuesday at an international trade forum in New York City. The meeting included business leaders, government officials and representatives from 30 nations. The state will initially invest 35-million dollars in the effort. The money would be loaned to companies looking to expand their overseas exports. More than 20 private lenders will also participate. The state is also partnering with the federal Export-Import bank to provide up to 500-thousand dollars in short-term financing to small businesses hoping to expand their international reach. Cuomo says he's also planning upcoming trade missions to five nations: Canada, Mexico, Israel, China and Italy. Dates for the visits haven't been announced.
START Up-New York is off and running for the State University College at Fredonia. College officials say the campus received formal approval of the local plan last week. Among those who is eager to get to work is Dunkirk Mayor A.J. Dolce. Dolce... and the city's Director of Development... were among the 13 members of the committee that developed the campus plan. Fredonia President Dr. Virginia Horvath spoke about the plan... adding that there had to be "areas of focus" on local strengths that both the college, and community have. The Fredonia plan focuses on attracting three business clusters: agribusiness, technology businesses and businesses related to Lake Erie research, development and educational tourism. University officials there have seen about two dozen or so StartUp inquires and six proposals are being given serious consideration for sponsorship under the Fredonia plan.
The Seneca Nation of Indians has received a 600-thousand dollar federal grant to replace an inadequate wastewater treatment plant. U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro says the funding will come through HUD's Indian Community Development Block Grant Program. Seneca Nation officials in Irving say their current wastewater treatment plant does not meet federal environmental standards. They say the new one will prevent sewage from backing up into homes and contaminating ground water wells.
New York voters may have only a single opportunity to see the candidates debate before this year's gubernatorial election. Republican Rob Astorino says he won't accept an invitation to a one-on-one public radio debate with Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo that was tentatively set for later this month. That leaves a single televised debate in Buffalo with Cuomo, Astorino, Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins... and, Libertarian Michael McDermott. Astorino had initially called for eight debates in the race. He had objected to the public radio debate, saying it should have been televised. A date for the Buffalo debate has not been announced. The election is November 4th.
Comedy Legend Bob Newhart is still going strong at the age of 85... and, doesn't show any signs of slowing down. His stand-up comedy career has now spaned five generations... and, Newhart tells us he's looking forward to returning to Jamestown for a second time as the headliner for this coming weekend's Lucy-Town Half-Marathon Weekend. He'll be on stage at the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts at 8 PM Saturday. Newhart remembers his previous appearance in Jamestown several years ago... and, one other at Chautauqua institution. While he's made a big name for himself on TV... his first love remains stand-up. Newhart is known for his "button" down humor on a series of records in the 1960s. He starred in two sitcoms... "The Bob Newhart Show..." and, "Newhart." Most recently... he's played a professor on "The Big Bang Theory." Newhart credits Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz for blazing the trail for current sitcoms with their famous "three-camera" shots used in "I Love Lucy." Ticket sales are going well... but, there are still plenty available. For more information... go on-line to Lucyrace-dot-COM.
A report from the National Transportation Safety Board says two small planes involved in a fatal crash in western New York last month were traveling along the same path. However... when one descended at the same time the other climbed. The preliminary finding doesn't place directly place blame for the crash outside Buffalo.