WJTN News Headlines

Chautauqua Institution will build a new Amphitheater. The Board of Trustees met Wednesday and approved final plans and hired a firm to manage the project.  Chautauqua President Tom Becker was thrilled. LP Ciminelli of Buffalo will be the construction manager for the 41.5 million dollar project.  The Institution's Chief Marketing Officer, George Murphy, says some preliminary work will be done before the next season starts, but most of the construction will occur between September 2016 and June 2017. The Board of Trustees put a hold on the project in November, when the bids came in high.  Murphy says in the meantime, they 'tightened up the bids', and made some minor changes. Tom Becker says some of the controversy concerning preserving the old Amp is 'understandable and credible'.  But, he adds, what's really being preserved is Chautauqua's ability to do its work for the next hundred years. 


Flames have destroyed two vacant homes in downtown Jamestown... and, the cause of both fires remain under investigation.  City Fire Battalion Chief Chet Harvey says the first call came in a few minutes before 4 AM yesterday at 1052 North Main Street.  Harvey says crews found fire in the back of the structure... but, adds it took some time to bring the blaze under control. While crews were at 1052 North Main... another call came in about 5:30 AM for a fire at a vacant house at 866 1/2 Spring Street.  Harvey says that structure was also fully-engulfed in flames on arrival.  He says the city's Department of Development had condemned the building some time ago.  Harvey says the roof began collapsing at the Spring location shortly after crews began battling that fire... and, they were just getting the fire out when the DOD ordered a full demolition of the building.  No one was in either building when crews arrived.  One off-duty shift was called in to assist at each location.


Mothers Against Drunk Driving's Red Ribbon Campaign is back on the New York State Thruway.  In collaboration with MADD's long-running public awareness project... State Police Troop T kicked off its 29th annual campaign on Tuesday.  Toll collectors are handing out red ribbons at select toll facilities along the Thruway.  The foot-long ribbons were chosen by MADD in 1986 and are meant to be displayed on motorists' vehicles to raise public awareness regarding the dangers of impaired driving.  They also encourage all motorists to take the pledge of driving safe, sober and buckled up at all times.  MADD's reminder to ``Drive Safely, Stay Sober'' also will be posted on variable message signs throughout the state, and service area shops will provide complimentary coffee on New Year's Eve.

There are a few changes that'll be made in the leadership of the Chautauqua County Legislature when the panel holds it's re-organzational meeting next Monday afternoon.  Lawmakers will meet in Mayville to elect a Legislature Chairman... and, act on the majority and minority leadership.  Clymer-area Repubican David Himelein will remain Republican Majority Leader in 2016... while Jamestown's Chuck Nazzaro will become the new Democrat leader.  Nazzaro says he's looking forward to the new challenge. In fact... Nazzaro has been a key part of legislature deliberations on the past two budgets... and, helped lead the panel's Deficit Reduction Commission.  He says the key challenges in 2016 will be tracking the new budget... and, pushing to keep the NRG Plant in Dunkirk open.  If it's closed... Nazzaro says it will have a "significant" impact on the city of Dunkirk... and, the county itself.  However... he adds that there are also a number of economic opportunities... and, he wants to pursue that aggressively with County Executive Vince Horrigan and Majority Republicans.  Next Monday's meeting begins at 4 PM.


City lamwakers have dealt with a number of difficult issues during the past two-year, council term... but, it's been a "productive" one, as well.  That from Jamestown City Council President Greg Rabb... as 2015 concludes.  Rabb says the past two years saw a couple of changes on the city council... and, there will be another in the coming term.  However... he says lawmakers have been able to put aside political differences -- and he believes that'll be the case again. Over the past year... Rabb says there have been primarily two challenges facing lawmakers -- the biggest being financial.  He adds public safety -- due to the on-going drug crisis -- is the other big challenge.  That financial challenge was never more evident than during deliberations on a 2016 budget... where lawmakers were able to cut a proposed 5.6-percent tax increase to a 4-percent. City Council recessed Monday night's voting session until it's "end of year" meeting this Friday at 12 Noon.  Lawmakers will finish up any year-end business... then adjourn.  The new council will then be seated... and, lawmakers will decide on a new Council president.


New York's judiciary has adopted new rules for investigating and disciplining attorneys for misconduct statewide.  The uniform rules adopted by all four of New York's appellate divisions follow proposals by a commission appointed by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman.  The rules are effective July 1st.  He says they will eliminate regional differences in how complaints and cases are handled.  New York has nearly 300,000 licensed lawyers.  Disciplinary committees in the appellate divisions and their chief attorneys will investigate and review cases, with proceedings confidential unless attorneys are disbarred or suspended for misconduct.  Lippman announced earlier this year the public disciplinary histories are on the Unified Court System's website through its directory of attorneys.  Rules of professional conduct are also posted on the website.

A traditional open house event at New York's Executive Mansion that is typically held on New Year's Day is being postponed until March.   New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says Wednesday that the event will be postponed until Easter Sunday because January 1st will mark the first anniversary of his father's death.  His father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, died last year at age 82.  The governor said in a statement that he wanted to continue the open house tradition but also wanted to commemorate his father's loss with his family.  He said the event will instead be held on March 27th.  Visitors will be welcome to tour of the mansion in downtown Albany, as well as participate in an Easter egg hunt.


A New York company says it will soon offer the first certified kosher medical pot.  Vireo Health says its non-smokable medical cannabis products have been certified as conforming to the Jewish dietary law by the Orthodox Union.   Vireo says the certification will help the company serve patients among New York's Jewish population, the nation's largest.