WJTN News Headlines for June 11, 2020

The city of Jamestown will soon begin looking for a new police chief after current Chief Harry Snellings told officials earlier this week that he'll be retiring next month.  Snellings has held the dual roles of Police Chief/Director of Public Safety for the past 10 years... serving most of that time under former Mayor Sam Teresi.  Current Mayor Eddie Sundquist says the city will miss Snellings experience and professionalism.  Sundquist says he intends to keep both positions combined at this time.

Sundquist says making any change in the titles... including splitting them... would require a change in the City Charter.  He adds it would also require a change in the agreement between the city and it's police union.  Snellings was first hired by the department as a patrolman in 1996.  He rose through the ranks, and was named Chief and Public Safety Director by Mayor Teresi in July of 2010.  Snellings also served for a period of time in the U-S Military.

The logjam of DMV transactions in Chautauqua County is about to break up.  County Clerk Larry Barmore says he'll soon be calling back all the employees in that division to catch up on work that's been mailed in or dropped off.  Once that's done... probably by the end of the month...  each of the the three DMV offices will open again,  but only for driver's license renewals, CDL testing, Learner's Permit tests, and similar transactions.  Things currently being done by mail or drop box will still be done that way for the foreseeable future.   Once open, each DMV office will take only 16 to 20 appointments per day.  Unlike state run DMV offices, the ones in Chautauqua County did NOT fully close in the virus shutdown.

The New York State Legislature has passed law to allow the attorney general to investigate and prosecute when an individual dies following an encounter with a police officer.  The bill strengthens and makes permanent Governor Andrew Cuomo's 2015 executive order that authorized a special prosecutor to investigate the deaths of unarmed people killed by police.  Cuomo says there are four parts to what lawmakers are looking at... starting with making police misconduct records public.

The reforms are the latest legislation passed by the Democratic-led Legislature in response to an uproar of calls for police accountability in New York and across the nation in the wake of George Floyd's death.  Cuomo has said he'll sign the bills by the end of the week.

While he is condemning the "brutal and unjustified" death of George Floyd... local State Senator George Borrello believes the Democratic Majority is trying to "fix a terrible injustice by opening the door to many more..."  Borrello says Floyd's death "has shaken all of us and opened a wound in our nation that demands attention."  However... the Sunset Bay Republican says the Senate's Democratic Majority's repeal of Section 50-a of the Civil Rights Law will heighten the already-significant risks our men and women in law enforcement face every day by allowing for the public release of personnel records.  He says that would include reports of unfounded complaints. 

There's been one new case of the coronavirus in Chautauqua County... but, there's been a big increase in the number of negative cases being reported.  That from County Executive P-J Wendel... who says the new case is a woman in her 20s... bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 105.   Wendel says she is now one of 13 active cases that are recovering under orders of the local Health Director... and, one person is hospitalized.  Wendel says there are now 86 people who have recovered... while 139 are under quaratine or isolation orders.  There are now just over 65-hundred negative test results to date.

Several local officials were on hand for last weekend's peaceful parade and rally held in the city of Dunkirk to bring attention to the Black Lives Matter movement.  It was held to protest the police-involved death of George Floyd in Minnesota.  Wendel says he was proud of the organizers of the event, three Dunkirk High School seniors... and, he says reform will come through engagement.

Wendel also spoke about COVID-19 and the impact the pandemic is having on a number of projects in the county... and says several projects have been delayed -- due mainly to lack of clarity on reimbursements.  There was a second protest at Dow Park in Jamestown this past weekend that drew between 200 and 250 people.

More than 50 race cars and racing go-carts are expected for the first racing show at the Chautauqua Mall in Lakewood in nearly 10 years.  The show... featuring local racers at Stateline Speedway... gets underway in the former Sears Store of the Mall at 10 this morning.  Beckstrom Motorsports' Randy Beckstrom says they're excited to have a show.  While the Mall remains closed... Beckstrom says fans can enter through the outside entrances to Sears.

Beckstrom says the show will continue through Saturday night at 9 PM during regular mall hours.  He says there will be some hand-outs, and there will be a fan vote on the best looking cars.  Beckstrom says many of the go-carts may leave Friday night so they can be at a "Test N Tune" at Stateline's go-cart track on Saturday.  Beckstrom, the Media One Radio Group, Close Racing Supply, and Tobber Chassis are putting on the car show with the mall.