There is a move on by federal lawmakers to make legislation geared towards helping Medicare dependent, low-volume hospitals permanent. Local Congressman Tom Reed is among those backing the measure... which he says is "vital" to keeping smaller, rural hospitals open. Reed says the current, temporary legislation expires on March 31st... so, he and a Democrat Counterpart have introduced legislation in the House. The Corning Republican says there are many such hospitals that are "living on a shoestring" in his district. Reed says making the legislation permanent would cost about 6-billion dollars. But... he adds it's critical to hospitals serving rural areas. While in Jamestown Monday... U-S Senator Charles Schumer also spoke to the issue... saying it's "vital" to Chautauqua County hospitals. Schumer and Republican Chuck Grassley of Iowa are co-sponsoring the measure in the Senate. The New York Democrat says rural hospitals should be treated the same as urban -- and, suburban ones. Reed says he's "optimistic" the permanent measure will be approved in both chambers of Congress... saying the temporary measures have encountered few problems in the past.
Our series of Artic outbreaks in recent weeks means the month of February could wind up being one of the coldest on record for Western New York. That from Forecaster Tony Ansuini (Ensweeney) with the National Weather Service in Buffalo. Ansuini says another arctic blast is on the way late tonight through Friday. He adds he doesn't see the trend changing anytime soon. Ansuini confirms that February is turning out to be one of the coldest on record in Western New York. He says the average temperature is 13.4-degrees...while the coldest month ever recorded was February of 1934 when the average was 11.6. As for the season, Ansuini ranks it among the top 10 coldest. The temperature was 4-below zero here at our Media One Studios early yesterday morning. It was 17-below in Dunkirk... and, 21 below in Stockton.
A major manufacturer of heavy-duty truck engines in the Jamestown-area has announced it has made a "significant" investment to install a new, engine block machining line to it's current facility. Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan says Cummins Engine is now preparing it's plant near Ashville to begin putting the new line in place during the second-half of this year. Horrigan adds that full production is expected to begin at the start of 2017... and, that's "good news...." However... Horrigan says he doesn't have specific numbers as to jobs being retained... or, how many would be added. Local Congressman Tom Reed... who's been a big supporter of manufacturing... says he met with Cummins' Chief Executive Officer about the proposal... which he says will cost about 40-million dollars. He says that kind of local investment "only bodes well for our future." Horrigan adds that the investment represents a "vote of confidence in manufacturing in the Jamestown... and, surrounding area."
Here's one idea for fixing Albany: Pay New York state lawmakers more. Legislators make a base salary of 79-thousand-500 dollars for what's supposed to be a part-time job. But... they have long complained that the compensation hasn't changed in 15 years... and, doesn't reflect the workload. Now, a pay increase has resurfaced as part of a proposal to address political corruption. Many lawmakers and good-government groups say banning or restricting the money lawmakers make from side jobs would eliminate a frequent source of corruption. In exchange... they're suggesting a big legislative pay increase. Critics say outside work gives give lawmakers valuable perspective and note that no state bars lawmakers from holding other jobs. The latest lawmaker to face charges is ex-Speaker Sheldon Silver, accused of taking nearly 4-million dollars in payoffs.
Local law enforcement and housing officials are supporting legislation that would require new owners or tenants of housing previously used for a "Meth Lab" be told about it. Jamestown city... and, Chautauqua County officials were on hand for Monday's press conference hosted by U-S Senator Charles Schumer. Schumer says the U-S Drug Enforcement Adminstration reports that 95-percent of the residences used by people illegally making Meth aren't reported. Jamestown Development Director Vince DeJoy says they work with City Police on cleaning up Meth houses... and, feels the proposal will help keep the city's aging housing stock viable. The press conference took place at 824 Prendergast Avenue... where a Meth Lab exploded... and, triggered a fire that heavily-damaged the structure. City Police Captain Bob Samuelson says they've dealt with 14 Meth Labs in the past two-and-a-half years... but, 11 of those have been in the past seven months. Sheriff Joe Gerace was also on hand... and, called this another tool that localities can use in the war on drugs. He also thanked Schumer for his efforts to support their work.
U-S Senator Kirsten Gillibrand spoke in Watertown and Utica Tuesday as part of a tour to publicize enactment of the federal ``Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act.'' The measure signed by President Obama last week creates a variety of mental health and community support programs to help veterans transition into civilian life. It's named after a Texas infantryman and sniper who committed suicide in Houston in 2011 after fighting to get governmental help for his combat-related mental health troubles. The Veterans Administration says more than 8-thousand veterans a year commit suicide... the majority of them under age 50.
The tourism office of Ithaca, New York, is waving the white flag on winter and advising visitors to its website to check out the Florida Keys instead. VisitIthaca.com's home page displays Sunshine State vacation photos and provides links to the website for tourism information about the Florida Keys and Key West. The top of the Ithaca page reads: ``That's it. We surrender. Winter, you win. Key West anyone?'' Referring to ``this ridiculously stupid winter,'' the Ithaca website suggests visiting the Florida Keys this week and returning ``when things thaw out.'' Ithaca and the rest of upstate New York have been in the grips of a snowy and brutally cold winter.
The Cuomo administration has proposed boosting New York's oil spill fund to 40-million dollars amid the recent surge in railroad shipping and dangerous derailments, while transferring authority from the state comptroller to its own environmental staff. The increased funding is supported by the comptroller's office and environmentalist groups. Shifting control to the Department of Environmental Conservation is not.