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WJTN News Headlines

Chautauqua County's State Senator says the 142-billion dollar budget adopted by the legislature has many good points... including the fact it's "taxpayer-friendly."  Olean Republican Cathy Young voted in favor of the spending plan... negotiated by Governor Cuomo and leaders of the Senate and Assembly.  Young says the spending plan meets many of the spending and tax-goals the Senate Majority had set.  That includes hold down the growth in spending. Public school education was another major focus of the 2015-16 spending plan... and, Young says she was pleased to see the near-complete elimination of the "Gap Elimination Adjustment" for school systems in her Senate District.  The GEA was put in place in 2009 when New York state began running multi-billion dollar budget shortfalls.  It diverted money from education to be used elsewhere in the spending plan.  She says eliminating 95-percent of that in local districts was "a major victory."  Young adds the Senate also pushed to have the state Education Department determine the criteria for Teacher Evaluations pushed by the governor.


The Jamestown School District is receiving about 3-million dollars more in state aid than what Governor Cuomo initially proposed.  However... School Superintendent Tim Mains says that's not enough to avoid some major, devastating cuts in the district's proposed 2015-16 budget.  Mains says their 5-million dollar budget shortfall has been reduced to 2-million... and, while there's more Foundation Aid in the final state budget... it's not enough to cover that gap. About a month ago... Mains presented the school board with various options... in which class size would be increased in relation to the number of teacher cuts that have to be made.  He says their Gap Elimination Adjustment has been closed with another 500-thousand dollars... while Foundation -- or operating aid -- is up by nearly 1.2-million dollars.  He say, though, that increase is well below the average increase statewide.  Mains says the reason why Jamestown has been short-changed is the state has not yet fully-implemented the Foundation Aid formula.  The school board will get it's first budget "draft" next Tuesday night.


The new state budget also includes money to help efforts in Chautauqua County to help those people caught up in the scourge of the region's opioid and heroin epidemic.  State Senator Cathy Young has announced a 350-thousand dollar Capital Grant will be used to establish a supportive housing program at WCA Hospital's Jones Memorial Health Center in Jamestown.  Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan says he is pleased with the announcement... and, says there is a need for such a program here. Horrigan says the funding will be used to upgrade the existing facility to house the program.  He says it will allow the Jones Hill facility to be brought "up to code" to accomodate the program.  Horrigan says -- once worked out -- it will be a "one-stop" service facility.  He says Southern Tier Environments for Living, Incorporated is working on developing the new program.  In announcing the grant... Young says the new program will allow people with addiction problems to be placed in a specialize housing facility instead of jail.


The state Health Department has issued final regulations for a statewide medical marijuana program expected to start next year.  The 121 pages of details posted online follow the law signed last July authorizing patients with certain diseases to be able to obtain non-smokeable versions of the drug, which can be ingested or vaporized.   Conditions include cancer, AIDS, Lou Gehrig's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, certain spinal cord injuries, epilepsy... and, inflammatory bowel disease.


Gasoline prices in the Jamestown-area have fallen another two-cents a gallon this week for regular, unleaded fuel.  The Triple-A's Fuel Gauge Report says the average price... based on reports from 19 service stations in the region... is just over 2-dollars-60 cents this week... compared to 2--62 last week.  The average last year at this time was 3-dollars-71 cents per gallon.  The national average is now 2--42 a gallon.  Nationally... the average price has fallen for 17 of the past 23 days.  Triple-A says the status of regional refineries continues to be a driving factor for gas prices in many parts of the country.  While prices over the past month are higher for many drivers... the Fuel Gauge says year-over-year price comparisons continue to highlight universal savings.  Sharply lower oil prices have resulted in substantially less expensive gas prices in every state.  Meantime... crude oil prices have fallen to multi-year lows due largely to ample global production.


He may disagree with U-S Senator Chuck Schumer on politics... but, Congressman Tom Reed says he believes it would be a good thing for New York if Schumer became the Senate's next minority leader.  Schumer has the backing of current Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid who will not be seeking re-election next year.  He says they've worked with Schumer on legislation in the past... and, adds all his hard work in the Senate "has paid off."  Schumer was given the nod by Reid over Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin.  Reed made his comments during his weekly Media Conference call with western New York reporters.


New York's top court says the state's moratorium on hydraulic fracturing does not allow energy companies to extend leases with landowners beyond the expiration date in their contracts.  The Court of Appeals is answering that question for a federal appeals court reviewing the case.  It follows a federal judge's 2012 ruling for the landowners, concluding the leases expired.  The Court of Appeals says the contract clause triggering extensions due to an event beyond the parties' control would apply if drilling for oil and natural gas had begun.  However, the seven judges say the normal expiration periods apply during the leases' initial term granting drilling and exploration rights.  New York, citing health concerns, last year banned ``hydrofracking'' for gas reserves.


It may have been the most paletable April Fool's Day donut created by the management and bakery of a Jamestown supermarket.  Farm Fresh Foods on West Third Street is handing out samples of it's "Taco Angel Creme" donuts today.  Farm Fresh Owner Dan Brown says he and Assistant Manager Mike Sanfilippo... and, their Bakery Manager... came up with the concoction. Brown says the recipe is fairly simple... you take Angel Creme filling, and mix in a little of the Taco seasoning packets... and, sprinkle some tortilla chips on top... and, you have it.  He says they were pleasantly surprised by the response of their customers... who basically say "it's not too bad."  Brown says he and his managers decided to make the April Fool's special three years ago to have some fun with the day.  He says they enjoy what they do at the store... and, this adds to it.


The U.S. Marshals Service is offering a 5-thousand dollar reward for information leading to the arrest of Paul Ceglia.  Ceglia is the New York man accused of faking an ownership stake in Facebook to justify a multibillion-dollar lawsuit against its founder Mark Zuckerberg.  Authorities have been looking for him since early March when they say he jumped bail by slicing off an electronic monitoring device and creating a crude contraption to make it seem as though he was moving around inside his home in the western New York village of Wellsville.  His wife and two sons are also missing.  In announcing the reward Wednesday... the Marshals Service says Ceglia may have been at a Wegmans store in Corning on March 6 to buy a car from an individual.