Outlining the successes and challenges facing Chautauqua County, County Executive Vince Horrigan delivered his third State of the County address during last night's County Legislature meeting. Emphasizing the need for regional solutions, Horrigan announced that he will be forming a Regional Solutions Commission. Among the successes, Horrigan cited the development of the National Comedy Center in Jamestown and the return of the PGA to Peak 'n Peek. In looking forward, Horrigan says he is looking to generate transformational, regional projects such as a "Chautauqua North" project. He is currently working leaders from Dunkirk, Fredonia and the State University of New York at Fredonia on the development of the cultural/recreational project that would involve both public and private investment in the North County area.
The state Public Service Commission has approved the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities' request for a 2.6-percent increase in residential electric rates. In a printed release this (Wednesday) afternoon... BPU General Manager Dave Leathers says they had applied for the "mini-rate hike" back in March of last year. Leathers says the PSC issued it's order Tuesday... for a 3.5-percent increase in the BPU's base delivery revenue, effective next Tuesday, March 1st. He says a typical residential customer will see an increase of about one-dollar-40 cents per month. Leathers says the commission also approved the BPU's request to establish a new Overhaul Reserve Fund. The fund would be used to pay for the cost of overhauling the gas turbine and steam generators. The gas turbine alone must be overhauled every 25-thousand run-time hours at a cost of 2.5-million... to 4.5-million dollars. The PSC also ordered the BPU to move 2.8-million dollars in the current Dismantling Fund, which is excess of the projected dismantling cost, to the new Overhaul Reserve Fund.
The state Public Service Commission also ruled today that the city... which owns the BPU... may require the board to distribute "a reasonable portion of its profits to the City." However... the commission says that's provided that the utility is earning a profit and will remain financially stable. Also... the PSC accepted the BPU's request to expand it's program that allows qualifying customers the opportunity to apply to install equipment that generates electricity-using wind or solar powered equipment. This expansion will enable approved BPU Service Class 3 and 6 customers (large and economic development customers) to install equipment with a capacity of up to 200 Kilowatts. Leathers... who was not available for direct comment today... says they are "very pleased to receive the input and ruling from the PSC." He maintained that the BPU's rate incease -- the first since August of 2010 -- certainly is justified.
Western New York is on the warmer side of a winter storm that will tracking across through the overnight hours into this morning. Wintry weather is returning to the area later today after we nearly hit 50 degrees in Jamestown yesterday. Forecaster Bob Hamilton with the National Weather Service in Buffalo, says a "dynamic low pressure system" moved through yesterday... with thunderstorms mainly to the east of us. As the storm travels into Quebec today... Hamilton says colder air will make a return, changing the rain to snow today. He says we may see up to two inches of the white stuff today.
The 20th annual Street JAM 3-on-3 basketball tournament is set for June 4th... and, will include a number of changes -- including a new venue -- for this year. That from Tournament Director Vicky Bardo with The Resource Center. Bardo tells us that the new venue at the Resource Center's Administrative Offices on Dunham Avenue in Celoron... is probably the biggest change. However... she also tells us that they have decided to make it a one-day tournament. Bardo says that... under the new, one-day format... they will have the younger children play in the morning... and, the older ones will play in the afternoon. Registration will take place -- beginning next month. Bardo adds registration will be limited -- tentatively -- to 125 teams. She says their excited about the new location for the tournament. Bardo says the basketball courts will be set up in the rear parking lot at the Dunham Avenue offices. She says proceeds will support TRC's "Filing the Gap" program. For more information... call Bardo at 661-1477. You can also go on-line to jamestownstreetjam-dot-NET.
Most Americans, regardless of ideology, say they have no interest in voting former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg into the White House. That's according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll. Six in 10 Democrats and Republicans alike rule out Bloomberg in a general election. The total saying they wouldn't vote for him is the highest level for any candidate in the field. The media billionaire is set to decide next month if he'll launch a third-party bid. While the poll points to a daunting road for him, it also suggests that a Bloomberg candidacy could not be merely shrugged off by the two parties. With more than one-third at least open to backing him, Bloomberg may have the potential to become a spoiler in a close fall election.
A prosecutor says a man charged in the slaying of his 21-month-old daughter likely killed the toddler on state-owned forestland outside Syracuse before returning to the city and dumping her body in a creek. Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick says it's believed 24-year-old Ryan Lawrence killed his daughter Maddox last weekend at the Labrador Hollow Unique Area on the Onondaga-Cortland county line... 15 miles south of Syracuse. State police divers found the child's body Tuesday in Onondaga Creek, which flows into Onondaga Lake through Syracuse's Inner Harbor. Lawrence was charged Tuesday with second-degree murder. Police say they don't have a motive for the slaying. Authorities issued an Amber Alert for Maddox Sunday after Lawrence disappeared with the girl. Lawrence is being held in jail.