Local News Headlines

Firefighters from a number of departments have been called to the scene of a structure fire in Mayville early this morning.  The call went out about 5 o'clock this morning for a structure fire at an apartment house located at 57 Morris Street in Mayville. The fire reportedly started in the basement.  Just before 5:30 this morning it was reported that all of the residents of the apartment had made it out of the house safely. 

 

Just after 3 o'clock this morning crews were called out to a structure fire at the Sherman Livestock Auction House on Route 430 just outside of Sherman.  County dispatch reports that several fire departments are on the scene battling that blaze.  No injuries were reported. We will have more details on both of these fires as they become available.

 

The second of two men who allegedly murdered a member of the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra in the Sherman-area has pled guilty to an federal firearms possession charge.  U-S Attorney William Hochul, Junior says 31 year-old Charles Sanford pled guilty to being a "Felon in Possession of a Firearm" in U-S District Judge in Buffalo.  Hochul says the charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison... a fine of 250-thousand dollars... or both.  Hochul says Sanford, and 44 year-old Jonathon Conklin, are accused of robbing 61 year-old Mary Whitaker on August 20th of 2014... and, stealing her car in the get-away.  Both were found two days later in Erie, Pennsylvania.  Hochul says -- "with today's conviction, both defendants responsible for this conduct will now face a very long time in prison."  Conklin Tuesday pled guilty to a federal carjacking charge.  Sanford has already pled guilty locally to a second-degree murder charge... while Conklin's case is to go before a jury in a few months.  Both Sanford and Conklin will be sentenced on the federal charges next March 9th.

 

The Chautauqua County Legislature has kept it's word... and, delivered a 2016 budget plan that cuts taxes by 5-percent.  However... the vote was not unanimous.  Lawmakers approved the approximately 256-million dollar spending plan last night, 18-to-1.  But... a proposal to use another 443-thousand dollars in the budget's undesignated fund balance was passed in a much closer vote, 12-to-7.  Audit and Control Committee Chairman John Runkle offered the amendment... based on an added 8.3-million dollars in sales tax revenues. Silver Creek Republican George Borrello voted against the amendment... arguing that dipping into fund balance was NOT a re-occuring revenue.  He called it a "one-shot."  But... Borrello did vote for the final budget deal.  Dunkirk Democrat Keith Ahlstrom voted against both the amendment and the final budget.  He says -- due to the half-a-percent sales tax increase -- this budget actually taxes more.  In addition to cutting the tax levy by 5-percent... the final county budget cuts the tax rate by 6.6-percent... or about 60-cents to 8-dollars-55 cents per thousand full value.

 

County lawmakers last night also approved putting one additional Probation Officer in the budget at a cost of just over 56-thousand dollars.  County Executive Vince Horrigan says he's pleased with that move.  However... he says he's disappointed that lawmakers approved a budget that takes 443-thousand dollars out of fund balance.  Horrigan says that's not sustainable.  At the same time... he says he won't be vetoing the budget.

 

Local Congressman Tom Reed was among the large majority that tonight elected Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan as the new Speaker of the House.  Reed voted for Ryan... and, says the former vice-Presidential candidate has "the skills, background knowledge and understanding to help us overcome the challenges we face, and move us toward smart and fair solutions for the benefit of the American people."  The vote over Florida Congressman Daniel Webster was 200 to-43.  After a full House vote later today... Ryan will succeed John Boehner, who announced his resignation last month.  In brief remarks after the vote.. he said "we are not going to have a House that looks like it looked the last two years. We are going to move forward, we are going to unify.'' 
   


The endorsed Democrat candidate for Lakewood Mayor has become the first woman to ever run for the village's top-elected position.  Cara Birritieri (Beer-ah-TEE-Airy) is a Boston, Massachusetts-area native... who moved to her husband's hometown several years ago.  Birritieri says she's been involved with the community in several ways... including being part of the Citizens for Better Government Committee.  She is not a member of a political party... but, has picked up the Democrat, Working Families, and Women's Equality lines for next Tuesday's election. Birritieri says she wants to be a "full-time" mayor even though the position is part-time.  She says her current public relations work allows her to do that... as well as write grants to help fund projects.  If elected... Birritieri says she would work to get people to work together.  She says there's been some division shown on the board.  Birritieri adds that her candidacy is about "independent, transparent, and fully-involved leadership."  She previously ran for the Busti Town Board.  She and her husband, and their two children, live in the village.

 

They're not "at odds..." but, there is a difference of opinion on the use of a joint Recreation Fund held by the town of Busti and village of Lakewood.  With that... town Supervisor Jesse Robbins has asked the state Comptroller's Office to investigate the fund... and, it's use.  Robbins and Lakewood Mayor David Wordelmann Wednesday afternoon held a press conference at the Town Court facility to clear up any "miscommunication and misleading" reports and rumors related to the fund.  Wordelmann says both he and Robbins look forward to getting the report.
Wordelmann says there was about 108-thousand dollars left in the fund at the end of 2012.  Robbins says he has used about 69-thousand dollars -- primarily in two areas related to the old Rec. Center on West Summit Avenue.  He says they had received a nice offer to buy the old Quanset Hut building... but, adds they had to pay 32-thousand-100 dollars to the Kiwanis Club because the building could only be used for "recreation" purposes.  He adds another 29-thousand dollars was used for the town's purchase of 125 Chautauqua Avenue for the next town offices and court facililty.  Both he and Wordelmann say they have worked together on a number of cost-saving moves. Both Robbins and Wordelmann are running for re-election and have opposition... and, says the rumors have been started during the course of the campaign.

 

A Jamestown man has been sentenced to 15 years in prison... and, 10-years post-release supervision following his conviction on child pornography charges.  U-S Attorney William Hochul, Junior says that 23 year-old Alvin Vazquez Rojas had been convicted of one count of Production of Child Pornography... and, received the sentence yesterday in U-S District Court.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Allen, Junior handled the case... and, says that Rojas took sexually graphic photographs of a 7 year-old minor between December of 2012 and May of 2013 while the child was asleep.  Allen says Rojas then stored the images on a laptop computer.  In addition to those images... he adds the defendant also possessed 52 images and 152 video files of child pornography that were downloaded from the internet.

 

The winds died down... but, the earlier winds that were remnants of Hurricane PatricIa left their mark -- especially over the north county.  The High Wind Warning for the area was discontinued late yesterday.  However... authorites say there are a number of downed trees in the city of Dunkirk.  Police Chief David Ortolano says one landed on a car. Oddly enough, the southeast winds caused lake levels to drop by about a foot or two.  Levan says this changed overnight when a cold front pushed through.  She says the Lake Erie levels will go up between 4 to 6 feet once the winds change.  As a result, a Lakeshore Flood Advisory is continued now through 2 this afernoon for the lake shore area along Chautauqua and Erie counties. 

 

The investigation is continuing into the death of a Buffalo-area man whose body was found on the side of a rural Cattaraugus County road after a car crash.  State Police in Machias say 39 year-old Steven Kessler of Grand Island was in a vehicle that was involved in a crash last Friday evening in the town of Humphrey.  Police say Kessler was found dead outside a home on a road that's a short distance from where the accident occurred.  Troopers say an autopsy conducted by the medical examiner's office in neighboring Erie County determined his death to be accidental.