Local News Headlines

Strong wind gusts of 50 miles an hour and more hit the Lake Erie shoreline area of Chautauqua and southern Erie counties yesterday morning... causing downed trees and power lines. Forecaster Dan Kelly with the Weather Service's Buffalo Officer says winds in the early morning were well over 50 at times... with a top gust of 60 at the Dunkirk Airport.  The winds were strong enough to plunge about 3,700 New York State Electric and Gas customers in the Silver Creek area into darkness.  Crews were able to get the power back on by 8 AM... but, the outage had already forced Forestville and Silver Creek school districts to cancel classes. Besides the high winds, temperatures warmed up considerably.  Buffalo set a new high temperature record of 61 degrees late yesterday afternoon.  That shattered the old record of 50 degrees.


As many as three witnesses could be called to the stand next Monday as the court case involving the Chautauqua Institution Amphitheater project continued Wednesday.  Attorney's for the "Save the Amp" group... and, the institution met in chambers Wednesday afternoon with State Supreme Court Judge Frank Sedita-the-third.  "Save the Amp" attorney Arthur Giacalone said he planned to call one witness... while attorneys for the Institution planned to call two.  However... one of those could be Chautauqua President Tom Becker, who is currently out of the country.  If he's not available... Giacalone says there may have to be an adjournment.  As of now... proceedings are to resume next Monday afternoon at 1 PM.  The "Save the Amp" group has sued the institution... contending officials have not followed environmental law in how the project is to proceed.  For now... a temporary restraining order is continued for the project.


A key Cuomo administration official spoke to a state legislature panel late Tuesday about a line item in the Governor's budget proposal for a 200-million dollar economic development project in Chautauqua County.  State Senator Cathy Young, who chairs the Senate's Finance Committee asked Empire State Development President and Chief Executive Officer Howard Zemsky, about the project during a budget hearing in Albany on Tuesday.  Zemsky says it'll be a "commercialization center..." and, be production-oriented.  He adds it would be similar to the SUNY Poly-Model.  Zemsky says he is not at liberty to give out any further details, although did indicate that he’s enthused about the project. 


New York's economic development commissioner says boosting the minimum wage to $15 would be an economic stimulus, putting more money into circulation.  Howard Zemsky, head of Empire State Development, told state legislators Tuesday that Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposal would raise people out of poverty who will spend and circulate that money.  Cuomo wants the general state minimum wage incrementally increased from $9 to $15 in New York City by the end of 2018 and in 2021 elsewhere.  Zemsky says businesses are resourceful, and he doesn't believe there's any segment that can't adapt over the six-year rollout.  Business Council of New York Vice President Kevin Pokalsky says Cuomo's plan may be the single most costly legislative proposal ever considered by lawmakers, one that will unintentionally cost jobs, especially upstate.


When the Jamestown High School bands present their Winter Concert this coming Saturday night... a new group will take the stage.  Band Director Meghan Murray says for the first time in about 20 years... there's a jazz band at JHS. McGough will conduct the jazz band for two pieces at the concert, which starts at 7 PM, Saturday at the Merton P. Corwin auditorium at JHS.  Tickets are $5.  In addition to the Concert and Symphonic Bands, the Fredonia trombone choir, a group of twenty players from the SUNY College at Fredonia will also be joining the performance. And, while it's not marching band season, Meghan Murray reports the New York State Field Band Conference has moved JHS up one class for the next school year.  Murrays says -- due mainly to winning the past two state titles in the Small School-Two division -- they are moving up to the "National Division."  Murray says they'll be facing new schools and stiffer competition when the season begins in September. 


The first month of new Lakewood Mayor Cara Birritierri's (Beer-ah-TEE-Airy's) term has gone "fairly well..." and, she's already put together an advisory committee to help her put together the new budget.  Birritierri... who has never held public office before... chaired her first meeting earlier this month... and, says it was a little rough, but, will get better.  She promised during the campaign that she would be a "full-time" mayor, and says she's been there most every day. Birritierri says she's "digging in"... and, enjoying getting to meet people... and, learn about all the village's operations.  One of her first big jobs is going to be assembling the village's 2016-2017 spending plan... and, says she's put together a first-time Budget Advisory Committee to help with the process.  Birritierri says she's looking forward to learning from the panel members to put together an "equitable budget" for the coming year.  She says the advisory committee has three members... David Bargar, Dave Sheppard, and Doug Shuttee.


Gasoline prices in Chautauqua County have fallen another 2-cents a gallon this week to about 2-dollars-8 cents for regular, unleaded fuel.  That from the Triple-A East Central’s weekly Fuel Gauge Report.  The report says the price is based on reports from 19 local service stations.  Triple-A says last year at this time... the price had fallen to 2--49 a gallon.  Nationally... the Fuel Gauge says the average price has now fallen to just over one-dollar-79 cents.  Triple-A says drivers are saving just over one-dollar a gallon from the 2015 peak price reached this past June.  The national average price is now just over 1--79 a gallon.  That's the lowest price for gasoline since January 2009.