One person is dead after being struck by a train in Dunkirk early this morning. Dunkirk police report that just after midnight they were called to the scene of a train/pedestrian accident on the CSX rail line west of Middle Road. The victim was walking along the tracks and was struck by a Westbound CSX freight train. The investigation into the accident revealed that a second person was walking along the tracks with the victim. Dunkirk police are asking for this person to come forward and talk with investigators about the accident. The name of the victim is not being released at this time so family can be notified. Anyone with information on this accident is asked to call Dunkirk Police at 366-2266. Police were assisted at the scene by the Dunkirk Fire Department, Chautauqua County Sherriff's Department, CSX Railroad officials, and the County Coroner.
Chautauqua County's Congressman wants to give law enforcement another tool when it comes to the fight against heroin and opioid abuse. Corning Republican Tom Reed has introduced a bill that would include life in prison and the death penalty for drug dealers that supply users with illicit substances that cause an overdose death. The legislation is called the Help Ensure Lives Are Protected -- or HELP Act.Reed says the move comes in the wake of several roundtable discussions he has held throughout the region. He says these drug dealers are the "worst of the worst" who cut Heroin with Fentanyl... and, other dangerous substances. Reed says the number of deaths due to synthetic opioids, mainly the highly-addictive fentanyl, rose 80 percent between 2013 and 2014. The legislation received four co-sponsors when it was introduced last week.
New York's comptroller reports eight municipalities were under "significant" fiscal stress last year, with low fund balances and operating deficits, while another 14 were under moderate stress and 18 were considered susceptible. The eight are the counties of Monroe, Broome, Franklin and Rockland; the cities of Port Jervis and Albany; and the towns of Tuxedo and Parish. Here in Chautauqua County... the village of Cherry Creek was under "moderate stress" with a score of 62.5-percent. Forestville did not file a report. Gowanda in Cattaraugus County was also under "moderate stress." One school district... Jamestown... remains under moderate stress. State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says the fourth annual report shows it can be difficult for localities to overcome problems years in the making. Each year, 19 municipalities have been designated. The 2015 financial information was provided by nearly one-thousand municipalities whose fiscal year ended last December 31st. That includes the counties and towns, 44 cities and 10 villages, though 62 failed to file information in time to be scored the past three years.
The lawyer for a prominent Albany-area developer says his client is innocent of charges that he worked to rig the bids for a student housing project. The Albany Times-Union reports that E. Stewart Jones, the attorney for Joseph Nicolla, says the allegations against his client are "completely without merit." Nicolla had a court appearance in Albany on Monday. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office last week accused Nicolla of working with SUNY Polytechnic Institute President Alain Kaloyeros to illegally ensure the bid for the housing project went to his company, Columbia Development. Kaloyeros also faces charges in a federal case that he conspired with developers in Syracuse and Buffalo to ensure they won lucrative state contracts. The attorney representing Kaloyeros says his client is innocent.
Fall seems to have brought an uptick in the number of phone scams... especially the IRS scam. Chautauqua County Sheriff Joe Gerace says that 'phony call' never went away... but, there's been a pick-up in recent days. Gerace says the caller -- be they live or recorded -- will threaten you with legal action if you don't arrange to make a payment. He says the best way to deal with such a call is end the call. Gerace says always remember that the Internal Revenue Service will never initiate the process with a phone call. He says there will be letters in the mail... and, any phone conversation should be initiated by you. Gerace also says that's not the only scam still out there. He says the "Grandparent" Scam is still a problem. That's where an elderly person gets a call from someone, saying they're their grandchild -- or calling on their behalf -- because they're in jail and need bail money. Gerace adds some scams come from local area codes... indicating that it's a local call. However... he says unscrupulous telemarketers are able to set up any area code or exchange they want.
Local Congressman Tom Reed has announced two major education related grants. The Corning Republican says the Erie2- Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES will receive a 221-thousand dollar grant from the U-S Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program for distance learning and that Jamestown Community College will receive a just over 113-thousand dollar grant through the Appalachian Regional Commission for the development of a Community-Based Teaching Clinic in the field of Occupational Therapy. Reed says both programs focus on skills training for the current and future generations. He made his comments during his weekly telephone conference call with Southern Tier Media.
Dunkirk's new Public Works Director says he's looking forward to his new job. The Common Council has approved the appointment of Robert Bankoski to the position. Bankowski says he's excited to begin his duties and believes he can help the city move in a positive direction... and, he says new Mayor Willie Rosas, agreed. The new director says they have a "great workforce..." and, adds maybe it's a matter of attacking some issues with "a different mindset." Council approved Bankoski's appointment 4-1. He is also a member of the County Legislature... having begun his two-year term in January. Bankowski also serves as a member of the Dunkirk School Board.