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WJTN Headlines

The ribbon was cut Sunday afternoon on the new Chautauqua Amphitheater to much fanfare. 


The chairman of Chautauqua’s Board of Trustees, Jim Pardo, thanked donors and the people who designed and built the new Amphitheater Pardo offered this dedication.  Pardo says this space equally as sacred as it's predecessors that stood here shall indeed serve as the institution's new assembly and gathering space." 


Conductor Rossen Milanov of the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, said the institution is now positioned to provide the highest level of programming for decades to come.  Milanov touted the new facility's larger stage, accustics and sight lines. 


Following remarks from several other institution officials as well as Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan, Chautauqua’s orchestras, and the opera, theater and dance departments presented brief performances on the new stage concluding with the Ode to Joy from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

State Police and local law enforcement agencies are increasing patrols over the long, holiday period to crack down on drunken driving and other traffic infractions. 


Troopers will conduct sobriety checkpoints along with speeding and seat-belt enforcement details from Saturday through Tuesday. Last year State Police issued nearly 11,000 vehicle and traffic tickets during the Fourth of July weekend.  Troopers arrested 206 people for DWI and responded to 756 crashes resulting in three deaths. 


Troopers will also be looking for drivers using cell phones or failing to move over for stopped emergency vehicles.  All Chautauqua County Departments are taking part in the latest Stop-DWI Crackdown which runs through Midnight Tuesday.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports 146 people died nationwide in alcohol-related crashes during the Fourth of July period in 2015.

New York state is working to make driving less of a pain this Fourth of July weekend. 


Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that the state will suspend all non-essential construction-related lane closures during the busy holiday weekend.  Cuomo says state officials are doing "everything in (their) power" to make traveling as painless as possible this Independence Day.  The restrictions will run through July 5th.

Returning to Chautauqua County and being named the new superintendent for the Jamestown Public Schools is a "dream come true" for Mayville native Bret Apthorpe. 


Apthorpe was unanimously approved late last Friday as the new head of the district during a special meeting of the school board.  Apthorpe says it will be a "coming back home" of sorts for him when he takes over the reins on September 1st


Following the meeting Apthorpe said he'll be working with Interim Superintendent Silvia Root to get a lay of the land and, begin pouring over reports and audits and, will likely spend the first six-months meeting people in the community and the schools. 


Apthorpe comes to Jamestown after three years as superintendent in the Frontier School District in Hamburg.  Prior to that he was an assistant Superintendent in the Fairport School District near Rochester.  He says he jumped at the opportunity in Jamestown when it was announced because such opportunities don't come about often because there "aren't that many big schools in Western New York." 


Apthorpe says that's were most of his experience is.  He is a graduate of SUNY Buffalo and the SUNY College at Fredonia and, got his doctorate from the University of Rochester.

The new superintendent at the Fredonia Central School District begins his new duties on July 21st. 


As with Jamestown he comes from the Frontier School District.  Jeffrey Sortisio, the principal at Frontier High School, says he's looking forward to his new job and was impressed by the community. 


Sortisio says his first goal is to learn as much as he can about the district, and the community.  He admits he will have a challenging task, wrapping up his work at the Hamburg-based school district and getting ready for his new job.  He says he's got a good team around him at Frontier so he's not concerned about that. 


Sortisio adds that he's "very excited" to begin his new postion later this month.  He is not a stranger to the Dunkirk-Fredonia area.  His wife Kim is an educator at Dunkirk High School, which could make for an interesting inner-family rivalry!  Sortisio succeeds long-time school superintendent Paul Difonzo who retired in March.

An Erie, Pennsylvania man has pleaded guilty to taking part in a car-jacking and brandishing a firearm in the north county city of Dunkirk in July of 2015. 


Acting US Attorney James Kennedy, Junior has announced that 37 year-old Dimas Colon-Cruz of Erie, Pennsylvania entered the plea before U.S. District Judge Lawrence Vilardo late last week.  Prosecutors say Colon-Cruz traveled with co-defendants Michael Gonzalez-Colon and Denis Cruz from Erie to Dunkirk on stolen all-terrain vehicles. 


But shortly after arriving in Dunkirk, the ATV's were seized by police leaving them without transportation.  Colon-Cruz and his co-defendents then assaulted two people in the area of Robin and Second Streets and, struck one with a pistol before stealing his car. 


Prosecutors add the trio also broke into and stole several items from Lakeside Lawncare in Fredonia including a pickup truck.  Police recovered both the car and truck in Erie two days later.  One other defendent Michael Gonzalez-Colon has been convicted and sentenced.  Charges are pending against Denis Cruz.  Dimas Colon-Cruz is to be sentenced next Oct. 25.