A state official came to Chautauqua County yesterday to deliver Governor Andrew Cuomo's State of the State and budget message in person. Deputy Secretary of State for Local Government, Dierdre Scozzafava spoke to the Dunkirk Community Chamber of Commerce in the morning... and, in the afternoon at Jamestown High School. Among the items she outlined were initiatives to help local governments. Scozzafava says there is a huge amount of funding proposed for local road and bridge projects. She says the governor is also offering incentives for regionalizing local governments. Scozzafava says she impressed with how local and county leaders have worked together in Chautauqua County... namely on the North County Water District. She also scheduled a pair of visits in the Jamestown area Wednesday afternoon. While in Dunkirk, she spoke at the Dunkirk Community Chamber's annual meeting and awards luncheon.
The political divide between upstate and downstate New York is on full display as state lawmakers question whether Governor Andrew Cuomo's transportation plan shortchanges one region to benefit the other. During a hearing on the governor's transportation proposals on Wednesday... several upstate lawmakers noted that Cuomo is calling for 22-billion dollars for projects helping upstate New York, and commits to a $29 billion upgrade plan for New York City transit. State Transportation Commissioner Matthew Driscoll, a former mayor of Syracuse, said he understands the need to balance resources and that Cuomo wants to advance the interests of the entire state. Lawmakers also questioned how the state would pay for Cuomo's plan, which includes bridge and highway upgrades... as well as a plan to freeze Thruway tolls until 2020.
It's a small business that's become a big success in it's three short years of existance... and, Chautauqua County's Congressman wanted to see how they're doing it. Corning Republican Tom Reed was in Lakewood yesterday afternoon to take a tour of Water Street Brass on Gleason Road in the town of Busti. Reed says the company began three years ago with just four employees in Jamestown... and, has now grown to 31 at it's new location. Water Street Brass makes brass fixtures... such as doorknobs. Reed says he's "very hopeful" about manufacturing in the region when he sees success stories like Water Street... which is owned and operated by Matt Churchill. He says Churchill is very optimistic about the company's future. However... Reed says there are still challenges -- including workforce development... and, tax policies that help small businesses. He says they often have their money tied up in investment... inventory... and, machines. However... when the government comes calling with a tax bill... he says that can devastate a business.
Under a deal reached with state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, two national retailers have agreed to stop asking job seekers about their criminal histories in New York state. One of those has a store in Jamestown. Schneiderman's office announced Wednesday morning that Big Lots and Marshalls agreed to the change after an investigation by his office determined they were violating a Buffalo law that prohibits employers from asking applicants about their criminal background on initial employment applications. Schneiderman says job applications that ask about past crimes can prevent former offenders from finding a job, something that he says is often ``crucial'' to ensuring they don't re-offend. As part of the settlement, Big Lots agreed to pay a monetary penalty of 95-thousand dollars... and, Marshalls agreed to pay $100,000. Messages were left with both retailers seeking comment.
Two public input sessions have been scheduled for the next two weeks to give Jamestown school officials input on what the priorities should be in the 2016-17 budget. School Superintendent Tim Mains told school board members at Tuesday night's meeting that the first session would be next Thursday, January 28th... beginning at 7 PM at the Board Offices on Martin Road. Mains has had such sessions each year he's been in the district. Mains says they'll review the current spending plan... which is about 77.6-million dollars... during that first session a week from tonight. He says they'll provide an orientation to the different parts of the budget... and, how much they're spending... and, break that out over the next five years. Mains says the sessions allow school officials to take a step back in their five-year, strategic plan, and determine a "starting point" in the new spending plan. He says the second public input session will be a week later at the District Board Room on Thursday, February 4th, at 7 PM.
Mayors from across the United States say they worry about their cities' aging infrastructure and they'd like more state and federal support. A survey of 89 mayors released Wednesday also found that mayors get policy ideas by studying other cities. New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles received the most mentions. The Menino Survey of Mayors is named for Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, who died in 2014. It was conducted by Boston University's Initiative on Cities and funded by Citibank. It's release coincides with the winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which starts today (Wednesday) in Washington, D.C. The mayors say aging and underfunded infrastructure is their most pressing challenge. Mass transit, roads and water top the list of priorities.
As the East Coast braces for what could be a nor'easter with heavy snowfall later this week... the Syracuse area already has more than a foot of snow. The National Weather Service reports that Onondaga County got large amounts of snow on Tuesday including more than a foot in Camillus, west of Syracuse. There was also 10 inches in Clay, just north of the city. The city of Syracuse itself received 14 inches over a two-day period ending Tuesday. The lake-effect snow created whiteout conditions along stretches of the New York State Thruway west of Syracuse. Hazardous conditions and multiple accidents caused portions of the Thruway to temporarily close. Forecasters say a major winter storm could hit the Northeast later this week, with heavy snow from Washington, D.C., to Boston.