Chautauqua County's nearly 6-million dollar "structural deficit" projected in 2016 is the "biggest reality facing us." With that... County Executive Vince Horrigan outlined his recommendations to eliminate that deficit during last night's State of the County Address. Horrigan outlined three ways to attack the problem... the key one being a push to increase the county's sales tax from 7.5 to 8-percent. He told the county legislature that such an increase would be in line with neighboring counties... and, allow them to work on cutting property taxes in the future.
Horrigan says he's propose home rule legislation next month requesting that the state legislature allow the half-a-percent increase. However... he would not eliminate the current clothing and residential energy sales tax
exemptions. The second area Horrigan says he'll focus on is putting alternatives in place to eliminate jail overcrowing, and the need to send prisoners to other jails at a cost of about one-million dollars a year. He adds he'll also work with the county's Insurance Department... and, others to reduce skyrocketing Workers Compensation Costs.
No serious injuries were reported when a Panama Central School bus slid off a town of Harmony road... and, struck a snowbank yesterday morning. State Police in Jamestown say they are continuing to investigate the crash... which occured on Eddy Road just after 7:30 AM. We have learned there were just over 30 students on the bus. The Post-Journal reports some 13 suffered minor injuries... and, none were reportedly hospitalized. State police could not say if any charges were pending against the driver.
A major water main break has left the small, northwestern Pennsylvania city of Bradford without water... and, forced a number of businesses... and, a local college... to close. The Bradford Era reports the 24-inch main broke late Monday... and, officials say the line was ruptured so bad... water will be shut off for the next "several days." The director of the city's Water Authority Tuesday said -- during an emergency meeting -- that the break caused a 5-million gallon water leak. Kim Benjamin says if they didn't shut the system down... it would go down on it's own because of the loss of water. Mayor Tom Riel (Ryl) has declared a State of Emergency to begin the process of applying for federal aid. The break forced the closing of the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, and schools in the Bradford Area School District through at least the end of the week.
The Chautauqua County Water Agency has taken another step in the process of developing a North County Regional Water District. In a unanimous vote... the agency has approved the "framework" of a plan that would include the city of Dunkirk and the village of Fredonia as water providers. County Executive Vince Horrigan says it's a major step for the project. An independent analysis of the plan projects nearly 356-thousand dollars in savings when compared to having three water providers producing water on an independent basis. He says they "have everyone together now..." and, that's a major step. Several more steps will need to be taken in developing a water district, starting with the intermunicipal agreements.
The Jamestown Area Community Chamber of Commerce presented its annual 'Salute to the Finest' awards Wednesday. Two new award categories for young professionals were added this year. Peter Lombardi, Deputy Director of the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation was named 'young community leader of the year'. The 'young business leader of the year' was Pete Scheira (sheer-uh), owner of Jamestown Skate Supply. Scheira was unable to attend the ceremony. His award was accepted by William Bacon, a friend and business partner. Bacon talked about what he sees when goes to Jamestown Skate Supply on Pine Street. Also honored at the event at La Scala Wednesday night were Titan X, the Jamestown Cycle Shop, Line-X of Jamestown, the Lynn Development Group, Shawbucks, and Digitell. Tim Shults of Ed Shults Auto Group was given the Community Service Award. Mural artists Gary Peters Senior and Junior were given the 'Pride of Jamestown' award.
The keynote speaker at the 'Salute to the Finest' dinner was John Sayegh (sigh-egg), a Vice-President at Jamestown Community College. He reported on the Start Up New York program, and said two new businesses appear ready for approval for Start Up incentives. One will be a research and development business sponsored by the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation. Sayegh said the other business will also be located in the city of Jamestown, but could not divulge the name of nature of it. He added, "It's really exciting." Sayegh says approval at the state level could come in the next month.
Governor Andrew Cuomo says neither he nor his staff have been subpoenaed or contacted by federal investigators probing Albany corruption. The Democratic governor's comments were in response to a reporter's question. He said he had not been contacted... and, a spokeswoman later said that no executive chamber staffer had received a subpoena, either. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has said his Albany investigation is continuing.
Hundreds of advocates for better mental health treatment for New Yorkers rallied Wednesday at the Capitol, especially for one basic need -- housing. The New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services says that leads its list of legislative priorities for the coming year. The coalition of people who use and provide mental health services is calling for an 82-million dollar investment in the statewide rate adjustment for supported and other types of housing to address ``a crisis'' from rising prices. The group says there's also a need for 35,000 more state-supported housing units -- 30,000 in New York City and 5,000 upstate -- citing the record number of 60,000 homeless individuals in the city, a disproportionately large number of them with psychiatric disabilities.
An initiative created to get school students interested how their coursework is relevant in today's working world is nearing it's fund-raising goal to purchase a drone for it's projects. "Dream it -- Do it" Western New York has reached just over 22-hundred-60 dollars of it's 25-hundred dollar goal to purchase the Drone. "Dream it -- Do it" coordinator Justin Hanft with the county's Chamber of Commerce says they only have four days left in the campaign... and, need to reach their goal in order to get the money. Hanft says they are using the "Kickstarter" website to do what's called "Crowdsourcing" to raise the money in a condensed time period. He says they plan to use the drone as part of their local STEM camps and programs to help students get "excited" about math, science, and engineering. To make a donation... Hanft says go on-line to Kickstarter-dot-COM... then search "Dream it Do it Western New York Student Drone video project." He says you can also reach him for more information by calling 484-1101.