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WJTN News Headlines

The mayor of Westfield turned aside a challenge to his office during Wednesday's sparse village elections in Chautauqua County.  Incumbant Michael Vandevelde defeated Richard Raynor in yesterday's vote, 350 to 224.  In the trustees races.. Alan Holbrook and Robert Cochran won seats over David Carr.  Holbrook led the way with 476 votes... while Cochran wound up with 401.  Carr ended up with 207 tallies.  In Sherman... a write-in campaign may have earned one person a village trustee seat.  Donna Higginbotham got the most votes for one seat with 79 tallies.  However... write-in candidate Timothy Fisher received 61 votes... and, Jame Weise got 60 for the other seat.  Results are unofficial at this point.  In Panama... no one was on the ballot.  Beverly Lubi received the most write-in votes with 17... while Kimberly Davis had 10.  In Sinclairville... Tami Berg has been elected Mayor.  She received 68 votes... while write-in candidate John Embury got 30.  In Bemus Point... voters approved moving the village election to November.  All other races Wednesday were uncontested.


Lakewood Village Mayor Dave Wordelmann has released a 3.36-million dollar budget that... for the third-year in a row... keeps the tax levy flat.  Wordelmann also says the 2015-16 spending plan includes a tax rate that's 36-cents per thousand assessed value less than this year.  He adds that the new spending plan came together "easier" than it has over the past several years -- and, for one reason in particular. In fact... Wordelmann says... while spending is up about 59-hundred dollars in the proposed budget... the tax levy is down about 74 dollars.  He says one of the biggest increases in the budget is 46-thousand dollars for a new, Comprehensive Plan.  Wordelmann adds he's also putting in 56-hundred dollars for the first-time for new trees. He says the tax rate will go down from about 7-dollars-49 cents per thousand to 7-dollars-13 cents.  A public hearing on the budget is set for April 13th and the final spending plan must be adopted no later than May 1st.


New York's farms can't afford any further increases in the minimum wage.  In a (Wednesday) morning news conference, New York Farm Bureau President, Dean Norton said while only the newest and youngest workers get the minimum... there is a hidden effect. Norton believes that it's "untenable" in a state where the costs of farming are already high.  Brian Reeves (ree-vus), a vegetable farmer in Central New York, says there is another problem with New York making it's minimum wage higher than other states... and, that is competing with other states where expenses are lower.  Reeves (ree-vus) would prefer the state follow the Federal Government in any minimum wage change.  As part of the budget negotiations in Albany, the governor has proposed a $10.50 minimum.  Some in the state Assembly would like to see it go to $12.60 an hour.  The minimum wage currently in effect in New York is $8.75 an hour... and, will go to 9-dollars by the end of this year. 


The state attorney general has reached agreement with the largest upstate health insurer to cover more mental health and addictions treatment for its 1.5 million members.  The settlement with Rochester-based Excellus Health Plan cites recent state and federal laws requiring mental health coverage at the same level as medical treatment.  It's the fifth settlement by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman since last year.  It requires Excellus to notify 3,300 members whose requests for inpatient treatment for drug and alcohol abuse and eating disorders were denied from 2011 to 2014.


New York's junior U-S Senator has reintroduced a bill that would create paid family leave... including maternity and paternity leave... personal medical leave, and spousal support.  During a conference call late yesterday... Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand discussed her Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, which would establish a national paid family medical leave insurance program.  Gillibrand says the United States is the only industrialized nation in the world without any form of paid family leave. According to Gillibrand... fewer Americans have access to paid leave than those who have lost a job or threatened with getting fired for taking medical leave.  Right now... she says only 13-percent of American workers have access to paid leave.  Gillibrand adds our national economy has lost more than 3-billion dollars due to caregivers having to leave their jobs because of not having access to paid leave.


There is one option the Jamestown City School District has if it doesn't receive enough state aid to cover a projected 5-million dollar shortfall in it's 2015-16 budget.  School Superintendent Tim Mains recently met with state Assemblyman Andy Goodell about the district's fiscal problems... and, says Goodell agrees the district is not getting it's "fair share" of state aid as a "high needs" district.  While the state budget is still being negotiated... Mains says Goodell suggested they request "bullet aid" once they know what the gap is. Since their meeting at Bush Elementary School... Mains says he spoke again with Goodell in Albany... and, learned that both the Senate and Assembly budget bills increase state aid over what Governor Cuomo has proposed.  However... the Assembly wants it doled out through elimination of the Gap Elimination Adjustment... while the Senate want's to increase Foundation aid.  Goodell speculates that the added funding would be doled out on a "50-50" basis.


Gasoline prices continue to go down in Chautauqua County... falling another penny a gallon for regular, unleaded fuel this week.  That from the Triple-A's Fuel Gauge report... which says the average price is now 2-dollars-64 cents a gallon.  It dropped to 2--60 in a couple of locations earlier this week.  The national average is now 2--42 a gallon.  Nationally... Triple-A says -- after rising for 40 days in a row -- the national average price for regular unleaded gasoline has now fallen for nine straight days.  Compared to this same date last year, consumers are saving an average of one-dollar-9 cents per gallon at the pump.  The Fuel Gauge reports that prices may continue to drop in the near future due to a steep decline in the cost of crude oil.


Governor Cuomo says the latest round of targeted crude oil tank car and rail inspections have uncovered 93 defects... including seven critical safety defects that required immediate corrective action.  The inspections are the latest in a series of actions state agencies are taking to protect New Yorkers from potential dangers associated with the transport of crude oil by rail.  Cuomo's office said Tuesday that state and federal teams examined 453 crude oil tank cars and approximately 148 miles of track in these inspections.  In Chautauqua County... the CSX mainline along Lake Erie had five defects found -- none of them serious.