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WJTN News Headlines for Aug 24, 2020

Firefighters from the city of Dunkirk and East Dunkirk responded to a report of a possible drowning in a pond in the town of Dunkirk near Main Street Extension Sunday afternoon.  The Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office says the call was around 2 PM.  The County Coroner's Office also responded. No further information is available at this time.


A 16 year-old girl has died after falling from a steep ledge last Saturday in Zoar Valley in the Cattaraugus County town of Otto.  Sheriff's deputies in Little Valley say they and State Police troopers were called to the scene shortly before 6 PM, and found the teen had died from her injuries.  Officers say Otto, and Gowanda Fire and EMS crews responded to the scene, along with State Forest Rangers and Environmental Conservation Police.  The investigation is continuing.

   Chautauqua County residents struggling with mental health and addiction issues are being warned of a recent spike in non-fatal overdoses as well as suspected fatal overdoses.  County Public Health Director Christine Schuyler says this may be a sign that there is a dangerous batch of heroin in the community.  Since the beginning of the month... Schuyler says there have been 24 non-fatal overdoses, and 4 suspected fatal overdoses reported.  Sheriff Jim Quattrone says it parallels an increase in calls to his office for mental health, and domestic violence incidents.

Quattrone made his comments for last weekend's Community Spotlight program on the six Media One Radio Group stations.  Schulyer says Narcan was given after at least 19 of the 24 non-fatal overdoses, and at least one of four suspected fatal overdoses.  All four of the recent overdose deaths involved heroin or some other opioid.  Schuyler says the county averaged about 20 overdoses per month in 2019.  Through July 2020... the county has experienced an average of 29 overdoses per month.

If you are in crisis... and, need help or treatment... you can contact the Mental Health Association in Chautauqua County at 661-9044.  Association Director Steven Cobb reminds those struggling with addiction that Fentenyl can be mixed in with other drugs, making it a deadly combination.  County Director of Community Mental Hygiene Services Patricia Brinkman says the county offers a wide range of prevention, treatment, and recovery services.  For more information... go on-line to  For local Narcan training and distribution... and the local Syringe Exchange Program, contact Evergreen Health Services by calling 541-0678. 

A Pennsylvania woman faces Leandra's Law charges for allegedly driving while intoxicated with a 10 year-old child in the car early this morning. Chautauqua County Sheriff's Deputies stopped a vehicle on Route 474 in the Town of French Creek just after 1 AM... and, identified the operator as 38 year-old Latasha Myers, of Erie. Officers say Myers was taken into custody on additional charges of unlicensed operator and move from lane unsafely. The child was returned to family members in Pennsylvania.

A man on a unique quest in taking a few days rest in the Jamestown area....Peter Gazzard is traveling the world on his bicycle. 

Gazzard, who goes by 'Gazzie', has ridden over 62 thousand miles across five continents.  He just turned 66-years-old and says he feels pretty good.  The motivation for his journey was simple... he wanted to see the world, and a bicycle was an affordable way to do it.  Gazzard had a career as a computer technician before he sold everything and started to ride.  His next destination is Florida, then  back to Europe, finishing in Africa... over the next 18 months to 2 years.  While in the Jamestown area, Gazzie will rest up and meet with other bicyclists to tell his story. 

New York state will apply for a federal program for unemployment money now that the state won't have to come up with additional funds to cover a portion of what the Trump administration had originally proposed.  President Donald Trump had signed an executive order earlier this month making money available.  It was announced as a $400-per-week benefit, but put the onus on the states to pay $100 a week of that amount.  At the time... Governor Andrew Cuomo called the idea "laughable."  The Labor Department issued guidance last week saying states would not have to contribute.

Chautauqua County is nearing it's 300th positive case of the COVID-19 Virus... as eight more cases were added late last week.  That from Interim County Executive P-J Wendel... who says that brings the total to 286 locally.  Wendel says the new cases include two men in their 20s... a woman in her 30s... a man in his 40s... a male and female in their 50s... a woman in her 60s... and, a man in his 70s.  He says there are currently 19 active cases... while 258 cases have now recovered.  There are 80 cases under quarantine or isolation orders... and, 965 people are under the 14-day, "domestic traveler quarantine."

A man from Westfield was being treated for injuries after suffering a medical issue, and his car left Route 394 in the town of Chautauqua and crashed into a utility pole and ended up in a pond.  Sheriff's deputies were called to the scene -- near Parker Road just before 6 PM last Friday.  Officers say 46 year-old Donald Dipirro was northbound when he had the medical emergency and lost consciousness.  Deputies say Dipirro's car went off the road, and traveled into a pond and became submerged.  Dipirro was treated at the scene, and taken to Westfield Memorial Hospital for evaluation.   Electrical power was disrupted in the area for a short time.

The Fredonia Village Board has given the go-ahead to several contracts for the Fredonia Opera House Improvement Project.  During a recent board meeting held by video conference... trustees approved contracts for general construction, electrical, mechanical and HVAC work.  Consultant Travis Gordon says, they will not be able to replace the windows as part of the $1.3-million project.

Gordon says the project will also involve installation of a new marquee... along with improvements to the public restrooms, heating and air conditioning.  Village officials hope work on the project can get underway soon.

 The State University of New York has appointed a former top advisor to Governor Andrew Cuomo as chancellor of the 64-campus public college system.  Jim Malatras  succeeds Kristina Johnson, who takes over as president of Ohio State University on September 1st.  Malatras will be the first SUNY graduate to lead the system.  He was previously vice chancellor and a senior advisor to Chancellor Emeritus Nancy Zimpher... and is now president of SUNY Empire State College.  The appointment comes as a challenging new semester gets under way for SUNY students in the wake of the pandemic.