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WJTN News Headlines for June 9, 2020

Firefighters from four departments, along with Chautauqua County Emergency Services, responded to a garage fire near Sinclairville early this morning.  The fire on East Avenue was first reported around 2:30 am according to the County Emergency Dispatch Center.  Crews from Sinclairville, were assisted by Gerry, Cassadaga, and Ellington Departments.  County fire investigators were sent to the scene to determine a cause.

A Central New York educator who has considerable experience in a school district with high-levels of poverty has been named as the new Superintendent for the Jamestown Public Schools.  The board last night confirmed Dr. Kevin Whitaker of Geneva to replace the retiring Bret Apthorpe on July 1st.  Board President Paul Abbott says he's "very pleased" with the selection of Whitaker, whose "extensive qualifications and experience will be an asset to our district. We had an extremely deep pool of knowledgeable, accomplished candidates ensuring that we have an exceptional superintendent."  Whitaker's education career has spanned 30 years... and, most recently he's been Assistant Superintendent in the Geneva City School District in the Finger Lakes Region. 

City lawmakers in Jamestown have unanimously approved making nearly $1.2-million in cuts to the 2020 budget to deal with anticipated losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Mayor Eddie Sundquist recently presented a three-phased, COVID-19 Financial Restructuring Plan.  During a short special meeting last night... the City Council approved the first-phase of cuts... the biggest coming from the $1.2-million, Public Works Department's Street Program.

Councilman Grant Olson asked when city officials would know they would have to move onto Phase-Two cuts.  Sundquist says it depends on how sales tax, and state aid comes in.  He says sales tax is expected to fall by 10 to 30-percent... a cut of 20-percent would total about $1.3-million. Sundquist says the city would receive about $6-million total in state aid... but, it's not clear what kind of cut may be in the future.  City officials estimate a shortfall of between $2-million and $4.7-million due to the pandemic this year.

An Ashville man was sent to the County Jail following a physical domestic dispute last Saturday at 204 Circle Drive. Lakewood-Busti Police were called to the home shortly after 8 PM... and on arrival, saw 61 year-old Homer Whitton with an article of clothing around the victim's mouth and head.  Officers say Whitton was allegedly pulling it tight as he was screaming at the victim. Investigation also revealed he had shoved the unidentified victim through a door prior to their arrival. Whitton was taken into custody for second-degree harassment and criminal obstruction of breathing. 

There are two new cases of the COVID-19 Virus reported in Chautauqua County today... bringing the local total of confirmed cases to 103.  County Executive P-J Wendel says the new cases are a woman in her 30s, and a man in his 50s.  Wendel says there are now 15 active cases, and they continue to recover... while 82 people have now recovered.  The number of cases under quarantine or isolation orders is down to 129... while there have been 5,511 negative test results so far.

Some 17 more non-profit organizations are getting money in Chautauqua County to help them reopen, and meet health and safety requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Chautauqua County Crisis Response fund has awarded grants... totaling $13,134 to the organizations.  Members say the recipients include the Boys and Girls Club of Northern Chautauqua County... the 1891 Fredonia Opera House... Chautauqua Adult Day Care Centers... the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System... Healing Word Ministries Church... Housing Options Made Easy... the Roger Tory Peterson Institute... and YWCA of Westfield.  The Crisis Response Fund is now accepting applications for the next round of grants.

Four Jamestown residents were arrested on felony drug and weapons charges late last week during a raid on the city's southside.  Jamestown Police Captain Bob Samuelson says city police, and members of the Jamestown Metro, and Southern Tier Regional Drug Task Forces executed a search warrant at an apartment at 64 Water Street last Friday night.  Samuelson says officers seized about 14 ounces of methamphetamine... one ounce of cocaine... 3.4-grams of crack cocaine... a loaded 9-millimeter handgun... 35-hundred dollars in cash... and, drug paraphernalia.  They arrested 48 year-old Luis Martinez, 38 year-old Sammy McKeithan, 31 year-old Edwin Rosario and 36 year-old Sheila Mendez.  Martinez, McKeithan, and Rosario face multiple charges... and, charges are pending against Mendez.  Samuelson says the hand-gun had been reported stolen from a city home in 2018.

It's not too late to send in your absentee ballot for local school board elections and budget votes.  The deadline initially was they had to be received by the School Clerk by 5 PM today.  However... in the case of a mail-in ballot... provided they are in accordance with mail-in provisions... will be accepted until 5 PM on Tuesday, June 16th.  Chautauqua County Elections Commissioner Norm Green says no such ballots will be accepted directly by the district clerk, or designee of the trustees or school board after 5 PM today.  With that... the ballots are to remain unopened pending delivery of mailed ballots, and shall be removed and canvassed after 5 PM on June 16th.

County leaders from across New York state are now pushing Governor Andrew Cuomo to release their share of $12-billion in federal funding to deal with COVID-19 expenses and revenue losses.  Among them is Chautauqua County Interim Executive P-J Wendel... who says a member of Cuomo's administration told a meeting of the state Association of Counties that they hadn't requested the money... and, that's why it hadn't been sent.  Wendel says the money includes Medicaid "F-Map" funding the county receives to carry out that program... along with Consolidated Highway Improvement Program -- or CHIPS, and child care funding.  He says only a small percentage of that $163-million has been released.  Wendel says it's wrong for the state to hold that money when it's clear that it goes to local, county and state government operations.