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WJTN News Headlines for 2/5/2015

Unionized workers at a leading maker of ceramic refractories in Jamestown are expected to begin work again next week after two bargaining units approved new, five-year contracts.  A source close to the situation tells us that the approximately 180 members of the National Conference of Firemen and Oilers Local-#266 approved the pact with RHI Monofrax earlier in the day Wednesday.  About a dozen members of a smaller union then followed suit.  Vote totals were not made available.  The source says the fact the agreement is five years -- as opposed to the earlier three-years -- helped in dealing with the sticky issue of health insurance contributions.  Wages were also an issue.  The unions had been on strike since last September 28th.  A number of replacement workers were hired in the interim.


There's another shot of colder air moving into the Jamestown-area today through tonight.  A Winter Weather Advisory ended at 4 this morning as the area received another 2 to 4 inches of snow overnight.  Forecaster John Hitchcock with the National Weather Service in Buffalo says we'll start the day in the lower single digits today... after a cold front moved through last night.  The high today will be about 8.  Hitchcock adds we'll dip below zero shortly tonight before we get a bit of a warm-up by the end of the week.  Last night's steady snow slicked up roads around the Jamestown-area... causing a number of cars to go off the road... and, a couple of fender-bender type accidents.


One person suffered minor injuries when she lost control of her car on snow and slush on Route 60 in the town of Ellicott Wednesday morning... and, it skidded into a deep ditch.  Town police say the unidentified woman was driving on Airport Hill -- just before 8 AM -- when her car slid out of control.  Officers say the car rolled onto it's side.  Police say a passenger was not hurt.  No charges were reported.


It was apparently a medical emergency suffered by the driver that led to a school bus carrying 30 members of a high school swim team to go off a town of Kiantone road Tuesday night... and, hit a snow bank.  Sheriff's Deputies say the 43 year-old operator of the Cathedral Prep bus from Erie, Pennsylvania had the emergency shortly before 9:30 PM while driving on Route 62 near Riverside Road.  Officers say the team was on it's way back home from a meet in Warren, Pennsylvania.  Deputies say the bus went off the road... and, into some deep snow.  No one was hurt... and, no charges were filed.


The man instrumental in putting together Chautauqua Institution's programming schedule each season for the past 25 years says the 2015 season will be his last at the institution.  Vice-President and Director of Programming Marty Merkley says he is retiring after this coming season amid a flood of memories of major speakers, concerts and other programs that make up the nine-week season.  Merkley says he decided that -- given where he is now in his life -- it's time to step aside. Using a literary reference... Merkley says his work at Chautauqua since 1991 has been "a wild ride for this toad." He says the Chautauqua schedule was busy when he first arrived... but, it's now grown to more than 2-thousand events each season.  If there's one high-light... he says it was a couple of years ago when he got to conduct the Morman Tabernacle Choir in the amphitheater.  Merkley calls it a "realy bucket list" moment.  The institution brought in an Associate Program Director a short time ago to work with Merkley -- Deborah Sunya Moore.  However... no replacement has officially been named yet.


A Jamestown man is jailed without bail for allegedly stealing several items from a car on the city's southside early yesterday morning.  Jamestown police say officers were called to a Maple Street address just after 3:30 AM on a report of a suspicious man entering parked cars.  On arrival... police say they found 24 year-old Brandon Moriarty in the act of taking property from a victim's car.  They say Moriarty was arrested without incident... and, arraigned on charges of fourth-degree grand larceny, and two counts of petty larceny.  He was then taken to the County lock-up.


An investigation into a home invasion that occurred last month in the village of Forestville has led to the arrest of a Fredonia area man.  Chautauqua County Sheriff Joe Gerace adds the probe is continuing.  Gerace says deputies picked up 26-year-old Alex Tye on Monday for several charges stemming from the January 24th incident on Lodi Street.  He adds Tye had a weapon. Gerace says Tye is facing some serious charges... including first-degree attempted burglary... and, second-degree menacing.  He adds further arrests are pending.  Tye was arraigned in Hanover Town Court and remanded to the Chautauqua County Jail with bail set at 20-thousand dollars cash... or 40-thousand dollars property bond.


The new speaker of the state Assembly says the Legislature needs tighter rules on financial disclosures and more transparency.  Carl Heastie (Hay-stee) proposed several ethical reforms that he says will help restore the public's trust in the Legislature after several recent scandals.  An analysis of Heastie's own financial records shows just how loose the rules are.  In one instance... the Bronx Democrat received more than 23-thousand dollars in travel and accommodation reimbursements for legislative business last year -- the third-most of any Assembly lawmaker.


Jamestown School District officials have begun work on the 2015-2016 budget... and, they begin already 2-million dollars in the hole.  School Superintendent Tim Mains says that's because the board agreed to use the money remaining in their undesignated fund balance this year to help stave off major cuts.  However... Mains says that money no longer is available... and, expenses are guaranteed to be up.  During a preliminary budget presentation Tuesday night... he said a big part is salaries... but, adds there are several others, too. Mains says he and Business Manager Kevin Ziemba estimate the district is looking at a 5-to-7-million dollar deficit in the coming year's spending plan.  During a report in the later school board meeting... Mains noted that if Foundation Aid from the state was "unfrozen..." that would likely provide enough to cover most -- if not all -- of that deficit.  He says elimination of that catagory would provide about 5 to 6-million additional dollars.  Four of the district's eight bargaining units don't have contracts in place... so district officials say they'll have to account for that.  Officials add no school runs have been provided yet by the state.


The dire ``final warning'' letters might look like they came from the New York Attorney General's Office.  With the office seal, a case number and threat of legal action to collect debts, the notices would arrive out of the blue.  That's because they're coming from scammers trying to intimidate people into paying off fake debts or call a phone number that rings somewhere outside the U.S. and is answered by someone who may threaten arrest or job loss to force a payment.  Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says the bogus letters surfaced recently and feature a scheme similar to scam involving a caller posing as an attorney from his office.  He says legitimate government agencies don't issue such threats and consumers should be wary of any suspicious mailing or call.