Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration will move to prohibit fracking in the state... citing unresolved health issues and dubious economic benefits of the widely used gas-drilling technique. Environmental Commissioner Joe Martens said Wednesday that he is recommending a ban. Cuomo says he is deferring to Martens and Acting Health Commissioner Howard Zucker in making the decision. Zucker and Martens on Wednesday summarized the findings of their environmental and health reviews. They concluded that shale gas development using high-volume hydraulic fracturing carried unacceptable risks that haven't been sufficiently studied. Martens says the DEC will put out a final environmental impact statement early next year, and after that he'll issue an order prohibiting fracking.
Governor Cuomo's executive action to ban horizontal, hydraulic fracturing -- or fracking -- in New York state is "disappointing" news. That from local Assemblyman Andy Goodell. Goodell has been a solid supporter of fracking -- within strict environmental guidelines. The Bemus Point Republican says it's a way to boost the state's economy, and make it more energy independent. He adds he isn't sure Cuomo really looked at any of the "upsides" to responsible fracking. Cuomo received a long-anticipated report from Acting state health Commissioner Howard Zucker on the potential risks of high volume, hydro-fracking. Zucker says he considered all the data that's been received... and, says there are "significant questions and risks... which as of yet are unanswered. I think it would be reckless to proceed in New York until more authoritative research is done." Environmentally... Goodell says boosting natural gas production would be a help reduce Greenhouse Gases. He says legislative action to block the ban isn't likely because Cuomo would still be able to veto such action... and, there aren't enough votes -- especially in the Assembly... for an override.
Chautauqua County's representative in the state Senate says the governor’s decision to ban exploration of our natural gas resources is a "punch in the gut" to the Southern Tier. Olean Republican Cathy Young says Cuomo has "a moral obligation" to explain to residents in the region how he will alleviate rural poverty. The senator says families desperately need jobs and economic opportunity... not government handouts. She also says that "recovering our abundant natural resources would have brought an economic boom not seen for more than 100 years." She adds it would have brought good paying jobs, and, relief for overburdened local taxpayers.
The public is being asked for it's help in finding the man who allegedly robbed the Kwik Fill station on Foote Avenue Extention in the town of Kiantone Tuesday night. Chautauqua County Sheriff Joe Gerace says deputies... along with Jamestown, Ellicott, and State Police... responded to the scene -- near the city line -- shortly after 7 PM. Gerace says they're looking for a white male in his 20s who allegedly pulled a knife on the clerk, and, demanded cash before running off. City police say the man was wearing a black-hooded jacket and blue jeans... and, was between 6-foot, and 6-foot-2 inches tall with a thin build. Gerace says if you have information on the case... you can call 664-3100... or their Tips line at 1-800-78CRIME... that's 1-800-782-7463. You can also go on-line to Wetip-dot-COM.
The athletic director at Jamestown Community College is ready to again camp-out at the Jamestown Cycle Shop in an effort to bring in food and monitary donations for the city's biggest soup kitchen. Last year... Keith Martin spent three days in the cycle shop parking lot... and, raised 9-thousand dollars... and, 4-tons in food donations for the St. Susan's Center. After such a great response... Martin said he had to do it again... and, the second-annul "Holiday Haul" begins tomorrow at 6 AM. Martin hopes to do better this year, because the need is greater at St. Susan's.
In fact... St. Susan's new director, Jeff Smith, says they're averaging 350 to 400 meals served a day, Monday through Friday. Smith adds the number is down slightly on weekends. At the beginning of December... he adds they've already served a record 108-thousand meals this year. While the need is great... Smith says the generosity of the community has been great as well. Smith reminds residents that for each dollar donated to St. Susan's... they can buy 7-dollars worth of food from the Food Bank of Western New York.
It's a week before Christmas, and Toys for Tots needs more toys. Terri Johnson, one of the coordinators for the annual drive says they have applications for toys for 2100 children at this point, 300 more than a year ago... and they could hit a record this year. Anyone who wants to contribute a new unwrapped toy can place it in one of the many Toys for Tots barrels throughout the community today. After that, toys can be taken to 'Toy Central' at the Gateway Center on Water Street from 2 to 5 PM Friday or all day Saturday. The greatest need right now is toys for babies, teenagers, and boys 6 to 10 years old. The Marine Corps Reserves Toys for Tots in Chautauqua County is coordinated by the Resource Center.
There were a number of successes for the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce, and, it's members in 2014... and, those were celebrated at yesterday's annual meeting. Chamber members gathered at Moonbrook Country Club... just north of Jamestown... to look back on the past year. Chamber President Todd Tranum says -- overall -- 2014 was a "great year...." During the keynote Address... the chamber got an update on efforts to create a National Comedy Center in downtown Jamestown. Comedy Center Executive Director Journey Gunderson... and, Board President Tom Benson gave a detailed talk about the project... which just received a 1.5-million dollar award from the Governor's Regional Economic Development Council program. Tranum calls it a "significant" development project in the county. Benson says an expert study they had commissioned shows the center will draw -- conservatively -- 122-thousand people in it's first year of existance. Tranum says a new board member from Ralston Purina in Dunkirk was added to the panel for 2015. Otherwise... he says the board's make-up is the same as 2014.
The county Chamber Wednesday also presented it's annual "Pam Lydic Coalition Builder Award" to the man who founded two organizations that help Jamestown school student excel in the classoom... as well as athletics and the arts. Ron Graham was the founder of the Chautauqua Striders in 1979... and, the Infinity Visual and Performing Arts in 1998. Graham called receiving the award "a tremendous honor...." By the beginning of 2015... both the Striders and Infinity programs will be housed in the former federal building at Prendergast and East Third Streets. Chamber President Todd Tranum says Graham's programs have had a profound impact on hundreds of youth in the Greater Jamestown-Area. Tranum says the chamber believes those impacts will be lasting for many of those young people. Graham thanked several people that helped him take a dream for both organizations... and, make it a reality.