Local News Headlines

The Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the discovery of male skeletal remains found in the Boutwell Hill State Forest lands between the towns of Cherry Creek and Charlotte.  Deputies report the grizzly discovery was made by hunters around 10:40 yesterday morning.  Sheriff’s Officer were assisted at the scene by the Chautauqua County Forensic Team, Lakewood-Busti Police Department, county Emergency Services Department... state Forest Rangers, the state Department of Environmental Conservation... and, the Mercyhurst Forensic Anthropology Team.  The investigation is continuing.

 

A Jamestown man is now jailed without bail for allegedly murdering his wife and step-son at their home on the city's eastside.  City Police Captain Bob Samuelson says officers were called to the scene at 235 Barrows Street shortly after 8 AM Tuesday.  Samuelson says 51 year-old Allen Witruke of the 235 Barrows Street address was formally arraigned today on two felony counts. Samuelson also released the cause of death for both... but, would not reveal a possible motive.  He did say one victim suffered from blunt force trauma injuries.  Samuelson adds that both Catherine Witruke, and Eric Washburn suffered multiple stab wounds during the incident.  They were pronounced dead at the scene... and, autopsy's are being performed at the Erie County Medical Examiner's Office.  Police Chief Harry Snellings says officers were investigating a "suspicious situation."  Snellings later confirmed that a dog had been seized from the house... but, would not confirm reports of other dead animals inside the home.
Chief Snellings adds that the suspect... Allen Witrucke (Wit-TRUCK)... was found with his car -- a 2009 Chevy Impala -- in Olean about mid-afternoon Tuesday.  He would not say if Witruke had said anything to police.  The victims were the first two homicide deaths of the year in Jamestown.

 

An accidental fire has destroyed a two-story rental home on the village of Lakewood's westside.  Lakewood Fire Chief Kurt Hallberg says village crews were called to the scene at 9-and-a-half Clark Street just after 12:30 AM yesterday.  On arrival... Hallberg says they found heavy fire coming from the windows... and, out the roof.  He says it took about half-an-hour to bring the blaze under control. Hallberg says they also had to protect the house in front -- at 9 Clark Street -- from the flames just a few feet away.  He says they hit that side with water... but, there was some minimal damage to an eave on the home.  He says a man living at 9-and-a-half Clark called in the alarm after trying to put out the fire himself.  The victim suffered some minor smoke inhalation.  Lakewood was joined at the scene by Celoron and Busti firefighters.  Hallberg says firefighters were at the scene until about 4:20 AM.  Again... the cause has been determined to be accidental.

 

A coalition of public health groups and supporters of less punitive approaches to illegal drug use says New York should consider allowing heroin users to inject themselves in supervised settings to prevent overdoses.  The group includes advocates from the Drug Policy Alliance, the New York Academy of Medicine and VOCAL New York.  In a statement Tuesday... the coalition says supervised injection sites would place users under the watchful eyes of health workers who could intervene in case of an overdose.  They want health officials in New York City and at the state level to create such sites, which they say have been successful in curbing drug deaths elsewhere in the world.  Critics say supervised injection sites can be unsafe and send mixed messages about illegal drug use.

 

Chautauqua County's Congressman was among the overwhelming majority who voted late yesterday to tighten "visa waiver" requirements for 38 countries -- including Iraq and Syria.  The move was in the wake of late week's terrorist attack in San Bernadino, California... and, in Paris, France before that.  Corning Republican Tom Reed says the legislation is aimed at countries deemed "hot spots" for terrorist activities.  Reed says the program needed to be moderized. Reed calls the proposal a "common sense" approach way to add another layer of security to the nation because people from those countries could travel here for up to 90 days without a visa.  Meantime... the Congressman joined the chorus of Republicans denouncing comments by GOP Presidential front-runner Donald Trump... who says all Muslims should be kept out of the country until it's leaders have a 'better handle' on what's happening.  Most GOP candidates have also condemned Trump's statement.  Reed made his comments for his weekly telephone conference call with Southern Tier Media.

 

Three advocacy groups are calling for a 15-dollar an hour statewide minimum wage that would apply to New York's nonprofits as well as additional funding in government contracts to cover it.  The Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, the Fiscal Policy Institute and the Human Services Council say they're leading a campaign to make $15 the minimum for all low-wage workers.  New York's minimum for most workers is set to increase from $8.75 to $9 an hour at the end of the year.  The groups say roughly 2,500 nonprofits in New York rely on state contracts to provide essential services to people, and additional contract funding would be needed to prevent an unfunded mandate that would cut services.

 

Work has been completed on a major, 75-million dollar project at a downstate exit for Route 17 that's part of the ongoing effort to upgrade the highway to federal interstate standards.  State officials announced Tuesday that the three-year project to reconstruct Exit 122 in the Orange County town of Wallkill is finished.  The work included building a new bridge across the highway and realigning nearby streets.  The state is making improvements along the highway as it transitions to Interstate 86 along its entire 380-mile length from the Pennsylvania border in western New York to the junction with the state Thruway at Harriman.  More than 200 miles of Route 17 has already been re-designated I-86, including the eastern half of the highway from Chautauqua County to the Elmira area.

 

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is turning to a veteran administrator to serve as interim president of Edinboro University.  The state-owned system announced Wednesday that David Werner will take the reins on January 19th.  He's chancellor emeritus of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, and has been interim president at two other state system schools, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Mansfield University.  Werner is taking over from Julie Wollman, who's leaving after nearly four years to become president of Widener University in Chester.  Edinboro, about 20 miles south of Erie, has 5,200 undergrads and 1,300 graduate students.