WJTN News Headlines for Aug 18, 2020

A city man has pleaded guilty to trafficking significant amounts of methamphetamine in the city early last year.  U-S Attorney James Kennedy, Junior announced Monday that 44 year-old Richard Dean of Jamestown pled guilty in U.S. District Court in Buffalo to conspiring to possess with intent to distribute, and distributing, 500 grams of methamphetamine.  Prosecutors say Dean was a drug trafficking associate of co-defendant Douglas Beardsley.  During the conspiracy, Dean would go to Beardsley’s two homes several times a week and pick up ounces of methamphetamine and grams of heroin to sell for Beardsley.  He was caught by Jamestown Police on January 6th of 2019... and, later pled guilty to local charges in the case.  Kennedy says Dean faces at least 10 years in prison and a $10-million fine when he's sentencing next November.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has given the go-ahead for local gyms and fitness centers in New York state to reopen... beginning next Monday, August 24th.  However... Cuomo says they can only be at 33-percent capacity... and, everyone will have to wear masks.  The Governor outlined his basic guidance during a press briefing in Albany Monday... and, says local health departments will have to sign-off on reopening first.

Cuomo says gyms and fitness centers have a window of two-weeks to get inspected, and then reopen by September 2nd.  He adds they will have to have improved their ventilation systems.  But, he did not give specifics regarding that.  Interim Chautauqua County Executive P-J Wendel says he's been raising the issue during the Western New York "Control Room" meetings he's been part of because they all believe they are ready. Wendel says he has studied exercise and fitness in college... and, believes the gyms can reopen safely.

There are eight new, confirmed cases of the COVID-19 Virus in Chautauqua County since last Saturday.  That from Interim County Executive P-J Wendel... who says the new cases include two women and a man in their 20s, a man and woman in their 30s, two men in their 40s, and a woman in her 50s.  Wendel says that brings the local total to 271... and, 252 have now recovered.  He says there are now 10 active cases... but, no one is hospitalized.  Wendel adds there are 84 cases under quarantine or isolation orders... while 1,178 people are under the "domestic traveler quarantine." 

The U.S. Postal Service is expected to play a central role in this year's presidential elections... but, a series of cost-cutting policies at the agency has some staffers worried -- as well as lawmakers.  New York U-S Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says Congress needs to get back to Washington, D-C to find out what the problem is, and provide the funding the Post Office needs to do it's job.  Gillibrand blasted cost-cutting measures at a time when the mail service is more important than it's ever been.

One postal worker on Monday told the A-P that it feels like the agency is being sabotaged as day-old mail piles up in warehouses. Another wondered why mail processing machines were being decommissioned as the Postal Service prepares to handle an unprecedented surge of ballots amid the coronavirus pandemic.  The House of Representatives is in the process of going back to Washington to approve emergency funding for the Post Office to keep service in place.  Gillibrand believes the Postal Service needs at least $10-billion to deal with backlogs, and putting mail boxes and sorting machines back in place.

The Executive Director of the James Prendergast Library believes things are 'looking up.'  Executive Director Annie Green says the library ended its virus shutdown on July 1st, and people are coming back.

The Prendergast is currently open for daytime hours, Monday through Saturday.  Green adds they're hoping to be open a couple of evenings each week once school starts... and, she reminds families their WiFi is available in the parking lot, to connect for homework or assignments.  The lengthly spring shutdown meant no revenue from the book sale or from fines and fees... but, Green is optimistic it'll be all right because their expenses have been low also.  The Prendergast is looking forward to 2021, when revenue from the 'direct support' approved by voters in June will begin to come in.