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WJTN News Headlines for June 8, 2020

Arson is the listed cause of a fire that destroyed a three-story, multi-unit apartment house on Jamestown's southside yesterday morning.  City Fire Battalion Chief Don Mowery says crews were called to 262 Forest Avenue shortly before 7 AM... and, found the blaze started in the lower parts of the building.  Mowery says all the occupants got out safely... but, three pets were killed in the blaze.

Mowery says one person suffered minor injuries and was taken to UPMC Chautauqua Hospital for treatment.   He says there were 10 people in the house when the blaze broke out... and, are now being helped by the local Red Cross.  A firefighter did find and save a kitten from the structure.  An off-duty shift was called in to assist.  It appears the blaze started in the basement-area.  The house was a total loss.  The Department of Development ordered the house be demolished, and work began on that shortly before Noon Sunday.

The Jamestown School Board will vote on hiring a new superintendent when it hold's a special meeting tonight on-line.  The board's agenda indicates the only item to be acted on is approval of a new superintendent.  Current Superintendent Bret Apthorpe has been at the helm the past three years... but, earlier this year... announced that he was going to retired at the end of the school year.  But... he's also told the board he'll still be around to help the district and the new superintendent during the transition.  Tonight's special meeting begins at 6 PM.

The Jamestown City Council is expected to take action tonight on nearly $1.2-million in a first-phase of cuts because of lost revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Mayor Eddie Sundquist and City Comptroller Joe Bellitto recently released their 2020 COVID-19 Financial Restructuring Plan... which includes several across the board cuts.  However... Sundquist says it's likely just the start of changes to deal with an expected loss of at least $2-million in revenues and state aid.

Sundquist says the biggest cut in Phase-One is $289,000 to the Public Works Department's Streets Program.  He says that's a significant cut to what the DPW was planning this Summer.  Sundquist says most of the money is reimbursed to the city by the state for it's street project... but, significant cuts are being forecast.  He adds that another $251,000 would be cut to the Parks Program.  He says that includes the closing of Diethrick Park for the entire Summer... and cancellation of all festivals, and band concerts.  There are no lay-offs in Phase One... which will be voted on at tonight's special on-line meeting at 7 PM.

There were no new cases of COVID-19 reported in Chautauqua County yesterday... but, the county exceeded 100 confirmed cases with two more Saturday.  County Executive P-J Wendel says the new cases bring the county's total to 101... and there are now 16 active cases.  Wendel says there are now 79 people who have recovered... but, no one is hospitalized with the virus.  He adds there are 246 cases under quarantine or isolation orders... and, there have been 5,215 negative test results so far.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says the state's recovery from the coronavirus pandemic is moving faster than expected, allowing him to loosen some restrictions on gatherings in houses of worship.  The governor announced last weekend that religious buildings will be allowed to operate with 25-percent of their usual capacity once the region of the state they are in reaches Phase two of his reopening plan. 

Two Jamestown-area men wanted in connection with a robbery in the city have been arrested after a traffic stop in the town of Gerry late last week.  State Police in Jamestown say they arrested 25 year-old Justin Estus of Kennedy... and, 20 year-old Zachary Estus of Gerry on outstanding warrants.  Troopers pulled over Justin Estus on the Gerry-Ellington Road for failing to dim his highbeams.  Police say they found that Justin and Zachary were both wanted by the Jamestown Police Department for second-degree robbery.  Both were arrested, and to the Jamestown city jail pending arraignment.

Chautauqua County officials are paying attention to other matters while dealing with the Coronavirus.  In fact... County Executive P-J Wendel told members of the county's Chamber of Commerce last week that there are still a pair of ongoing projects going on.  One is the effort to bring commercial air service to the Jamestown Airport through the Essential Air Service program.  He urged local businesses to get behind the effort.

Wendel says the county is also continuing its work with a consultant to develop plans for the reuse of the NRG plant in Dunkirk.  The facility has not produced electricity since 2016.  He says they received a $60,000 grant to do an environmental assessment, and now a re-use study of the plant.  Wendel says there are some environmental challenges related to the plant, and it's proximity to Lake Erie.  However... he says he's confident that what they do moving forward with the facility will benefit county residents.