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The bi-partisan "Problem Solver Caucus", co-chaired by local Congressman Tom Reed has announced it will support a 2017 budget provided it is a "clean bill" without any ideological riders. 


Reed and fellow co-chair Josh Gottenheimer a New Jersey Democrat made the announcement late Monday as lawmakers were returning to Washington from their Easter Break. 


Reed says the move which would avoid a government shut-down, was approved by more than 75% of the 40-member group. Reed adds that lawmakers "must always put country over party when it comes to governing in Washington, D.C."  He says that's why the Problem Solvers Caucus was formed and, adds that it's important to "close the ideological divide and prove that we are true representatives of the people." 


He says the caucus has, collectively decided against putting a number of likely divisive items in this year's plan.  Reed made his comments during his weekly telephone conference call with Southern Tier Media.

Lawmakers in Lakewood had to make several cuts to get the final, 2017-18 budget inside the state's two-percent property tax cap and, that's left the village with little wiggle room over the next year. 


That from Mayor Cara Birritierri who says she was disappointed that money she had budgeted to try and continue progress made in the village over the past year was cut out.  Birritierri voted against the final, 4.4-million dollar spending plan and, says there is only $2,000 left for planning work. Birritierri says that'll be a wellness event in the village. 


The final budget increases the tax rate by 19-cents per thousand assessed value from $7.15 per thousand to $7.34.  Birritierri says the village has been looking into a joint gas-fueling station with the Southwestern Central School District to save money on gas by purchasing it wholesale.  


Monday night's budget vote was 3-to-2.  The new budget had to be approved by May 1st.


Interstate 86 between Panama and Sherman was closed for several hours overnight Tuesday in the town of North Harmony after fire erupted in a tractor-trailer hauling chickens destroying both the cargo and the big rig. 


Chautauqua County Sheriff's dispatchers say deputies, and Ashville and Panama fire crews were called to the scene just west of Exit 7 shortly after 11 PM Monday and, found the trailer fully-engulfed in flames. 


Dispatchers say the unidentified driver was taken to UPMC Chautauqua WCA Hospital for treatment.  There were no other injuries.  I-86 westbound from Exit 7 to Exit 6 was closed until about 6:15 Tuesday morning while the scene was cleared.  The cause of the blaze is continuing to be investigated.

A big announcement about tax reform is expected later today by President Trump who has said little since he announced the news last weekend. 


Tax Reform is one of the handful of major items on Trump's plate as he tries to score some significant victories leading up to his 100th day in office.  Local Congressman Tom Reed says he too is looking forward to today's expected announcement.  However the Corning Republican deferred to the White House on details.


Reed has talked a lot about business and corporate tax reform.  However those proposals would reportedly do away with programs such as the New Market Tax Credit and others. 


Reed says those will be reviewed on an on-going basis but, adds he has pushed "keeping what works" including the New Market Tax Credit.  Federal lawmakers began work in earnest on reforming the nation's 70-thousand page Tax Code after they were unable to approve a plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. 


The American Health Care Act has not yet made it to the House floor for a vote.

Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan and Public Facilitie's Director George Spanos have announced the list of county highway and bridge projects for 2017. 


Horrigan said Tuesday that work will include bridge/culvert replacements and rehabilitation, drainage projects, general maintenance, surface treating projects and paving.  In addition to Consolidated Highway and Pave New York funds he says they were able to pick up some extreme winter program funding.

Since work will be getting underway very soon Horrigan is reminding drivers to give work crews a break.  He says leave a little extra time so you can slow down in the work zone, and keep workers safe. 


He says residents can get more information about the projects by calling the Department of Public Facilities at 661-8400.

The New York state Senate has passed a new collection of bills aimed at battling the state's increasing rates of opioid and heroin abuse. 


The Senate late Monday passed eight bills designed to prevent heroin, opioid and synthetic drug use that lawmakers and Governor Andrew Cuomo have declared a statewide crisis. 


Six measures target the use of synthetic or designer drug mixers such as fentanyl that escape criminality in current laws.  Two more bills would promote coordination among health-care providers and would notify prescribers when an individual has suffered an overdose. 


New York officials say the number of opioid deaths in 2015 doubled compared to the number in 2010. The number of heroin-involved deaths in 2015 was five times the number in 2010

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