WJTN News Headlines for Mar. 18, 2020

Chautauqua County officials are working on a plan to reduce county goverment "on-site" staffing by 50-percent in an effecot to combat the spread of the novel Coronavirus.  Executive P-J Wendel says this is a result of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s March 16th Executive Order to local governments to reduce their overall on-site staff by half... and, allow non-essential employees to work from home.  Wendel says he's "working with department heads on our plan to reduce Chautauqua County Government’s on site-staff by 50 percent... We are currently evaluating our services and seeing where we can have employees work remotely from home and what offices may be closed or have limited services and staffing."  He stressed that this reduction in staffing will not impact essential COVID-19 response personnel or public safety personnel.  Wendel says they anticipate having the plan in place by the end of the day today.

Chautauqua County's representatives in the state legislature are calling on Governor Cuomo and fellow lawmakers to help the hospitality industry and small business owners who have experienced sharp revenue declines due to the COVID-19 crisis.  State Senator George Borrello agrees that "safeguarding public health is an urgent priority right now..." adding they are being imposed by the state to minimize the spread of Coronavirus.  However... he says there has been collateral damage to small businesses.  With that... he is proposing a number of actions... including an exemption of unemployment insurance rate increases.  Local Assemblyman Andy Goodell has also voiced strong support for the moves.

Jamestown Community College is ready for its 'distance education plan'  to go into effect on Thursday.  Dr. Kirk Young, Vice-President of Student Affairs says the college had originally hoped to offer some limited 'in person' education. The college will be operating with minimal staff, but some essential services will be maintained... as some students are still in the dorms.  Those are international students and a few from New York City and other places... who feel safer here than at home.  Dr. Young adds all members of the administration have been working overtime to quickly and effective put the new 'distance education plan' in place for JCC. 

The Ellicott Town Board has approved two measures opposing the city of Jamestown's proposed annexation of four-acres of land in Falconer.  The Town Board Monday night approved both items... rejecting the city's taking of the Board of Public Utilities Dow Street Substation property.  Town Supervisor Pat McLaughlin says the first regarding the city's findings that the action would not have an adverse environmental impact on the town.

McLaughlin says they don't agree that the public interest is served by the annexation.  As the matter likely moves onto court... all three entities opposing the effort have spent more than $300,000 on legal fees.  McLaughlin says they'll be able to handle their costs... but, adds it's disappointing because Jamestown's new mayor initially said he opposed going forward with the action.  McLaughlin says the Falconer Village Board will act on the same two measures at it's meeting next Monday night.  The Falconer Central School District doesn't have a formal vote on the matter.

The Salvation Army is calling on the community to help people in need... as the effects of the COVID-19 virus reverberate through the economy. Major Kim Merchant of the Salvation Army in Jamestown, says they need canned goods, hygeine products, masks, gloves and disinfectant... as well as financial contributions.  People who would like to contribute food or other products are asked to call 664-4108 to arrange drop-off at 83 South Main Street in Jamestown.  Checks can be mailed directly to that location.  The Major says they've changed their food pantry procedures to keep the public and staff safe during the virus emergency.   While some church activities have been cancelled, regular Sunday worship services will continue at the Salvation Army Chapel.  

Some relief should be coming soon to people who have either lost their jobs, or will be out of work temporarily, due to the Coronavirus outbreak.  Southern Tier Congressman Tom Reed says an intial relieve measure... which was approved by the House late last week... will go before the Senate shortly... and, it's expected to pass.  Reed says some technical language has been tweeked... but, the main parts remain intact.

Once the Senate takes action... President Trump is expected to sign the bill quickly.  Reed says the president is also looking at an 850-billion dollar stimulus package that will be geared towards helping small businesses get through the current crisis.  He says it is certainly good news that there have been no COVID 19 outbreaks in the immediate area... and he's been in constant contact with local and county officials about their situations.  He says he believes the nation will have a better handle on the Coronavirus in the next two weeks.