WJTN News Headlines for Aug 21, 2020

Two people and 5 dogs were rescued from an early morning trailer fire in the Town of Ripley today. The Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office says firefighters from Westfield and Ripley were called to 37 Maple Avenue just after 1 AM.... and, located 65 year-old Michael and 37 year-old Susan Fedorchak unable to leave the trailer due to fire and smoke. A Sheriff's Deputy was able to get the couple out of the structure with help from a Westfield Police Officer. They also assisted firefighters in removing the dogs from the residence. Deputies say the Fedorchaks were sent to the UPMC Hamot Medical Center in Erie for treatment. Susan was released, but Michael was air-lifted to a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania burn center. The County Fire Investigation Team was later called to the scene... and, determined discarded smoking materials were the cause of the blaze. 

 The Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services is warning residents of a new phone scam where callers are posing as COVID-19 Contact Tracers to get financial information from people.  That from Department Commissioner, Christine Schuyler, who is also Public Health Director.  Schuyler says these scammers try to get credit card, or bank account information from their victims.  She says stay alert and do not offer your financial information, or a social security number to anyone claiming to be a contact tracer.  She adds that if you are tested for COVID-19, and your test result comes back positive, a county public health nurse will contact you.  If during the investigation of the positive case, you are named a close contact, a NYS contact tracer will contact you.  However... she says they will identify themselves, tell you where they work, and how they can be reached if you have questions over the course of your quarantine or isolation period. 

There's one new case of the coronavirus in Chautauqua County today.  Interim County Executive P-J Wendel says it's a woman in her 20s... and, she is the 278th confirmed case locally.  Wendel says there are now 15 active cases, and 254 cases have now recovered.  He says 113 cases under quarantine or isolation orders... and, 1,132 people are under the "domestic traveler quarantine" after arriving here form a state listed on New York's travel advisory.  Wendel says there have now been 29,331 negative test results to date.

A Jamestown man faces felony charges for allegedly hindering prosecution in connection with a fatal stabbing in the city last month.  JPD Police Captain Bob Samuelson says 41 year-old Jason Talley was taken into custody in Buffalo on Monday afternoon by members of the Violent Fugitive U-S Marshalls Task Force. Talley was later arraigned in Jamestown City Court and sent to the county jail. He is also being held on a Parole Violation warrant.  Samuelson says the July 6th homicide of Brandon Holland remains under investigation... and, additional charges against Talley are pending. On July 7th.... City Police announced the arrest of 28 year-old Carl Sorenson on a charge of second-degree murder following the stabbing. 

The novel coronavirus is complicating re-opening plans for educators nationwide. In the Jamestown Public School District... Superintendent Kevin Whitaker says one of their goals was to get as much parent feedback as possible as they continue to modify and implement changes to their reopening plans.

As the first day of school draws closer, JPS parents are expressing their concerns with sending their children back. Whitaker reiterated that this is a "Re-opening Plan" not a "Forever Plan". The final two public virtual meetings will be held tonight from 6 to 7 PM and Friday from 10 to 11 AM. More information is available on the district's website JPSNY.org.

Chautauqua County government officials have issued approval for all gym and fitness facilities in the county to reopen next Monday, August 24th, after reviewing guidance from New York State.  Local YMCA Chief Executive Officer Mark Eckendorf says they are excited to get the ball rolling.

Eckendorf says they have been working hard to prepare for the re-opening of the facilities and have taken steps to create a safe environment for patrons amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  He says they have spread out their machines to allow people to be socially distanced while using each one.  Shower use will be limited, and each person will get a sanitizing bottle.  Eckendorf adds that indoor group classes will not begin until the following week starting August 31st, but they will be continuing the virtual classes as well. Both the Lakewood and Jamestown YMCA hours will be 7AM to 7PM Monday through Friday for the time being.  More information... call 664-2802.

New York will allow voters to request absentee ballots for the general election because of coronavirus under a new state law signed Thursday.  Lawmakers passed the bill last month, and voting rights groups have been calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign the legislation for weeks.  The governor allowed voters in the June primary to vote by absentee ballots due to fears of spreading the virus at polling sites.  Election officials warn of an even bigger flood of mail-in votes in November than the June primary.

The governor says New York could have seen a "dramatic difference" as it fought the coronavirus this spring if he had required New Yorkers to wear masks earlier. Governor Andrew Cuomo used a Wednesday appearance on public radio to offer the failure of New York to institute a statewide mask mandate earlier as an example of a lesson for other states.  It's a rare admission for a governor who's said he doesn't want to play "the blame game..." but often criticizes the federal government when asked if his administration made any mistakes in its response.

A group of Jamestown-area municipalities that met to discuss sharing services and other collaborations is back after an approximately 20 year hiatis.  Mayor Eddie Sundquist says, through, what used to be the "Metro-6" is now the "Metro-7" with the addition of the town of Kiantone.  The old Metro-6 was formed in the mid-1990s... but, disbanded about the early 2000s.  Sundquist says he's excited, and with the difficulties facing local governments, now was the time to get it back in place.

The original Metro-Six included Jamestown... the villages of Falconer, Lakewood and Celoron... and town's of Ellicott and Busti.  Sundquist says they've had their first meeting... and, says they had good discussions about what they have done -- and could do in the future.  In addition... he says the city and it's Board of Public Utilities have also had some very positive, initial conversations with the town of Ellicott about extending city water service out Fluvanna Avenue -- into that part of the town.

Two Ripley residents have been arrested for allegedly being in possession of illegal fireworks and a switchblade... and, damaging property.  Sheriff's deputies were called to a "suspicious situation" on Park Avenue in the town just after 6:30 last Sunday night.  Officers say they found an 18 year-old male in possession of the fireworks and switchblade knife.  They also say the teenager, and 20 year-old Ricky Schrader, damaged other's property.  Officers charged the 18 year-old with third-degree Criminal Mischief... fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon... and unlawfully possessing or using fireworks.  Schrader charged with third-degree Criminal Mischief.  Both were issued appearance tickets for Ripley Town Court.