Local News Headlines

A city man has pleaded guilty to a federal charge of being in possession of firearms while allegedly selling drugs.  U-S Attorney James Kennedy, Junior announced Wednesday that 23 year-old Omar Vera-Velazquez enter the plea before U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Vilardo to one count of possession of firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking.  Prosecutors say Vera-Velazquez was allegedly dealing heroin in the area in September of 2019... and, that he allegedly had various firearms in his possession.  During a raid on his home... police officers seized four firearms, ammunition, and about 60 grams of a heroin and fentanyl substance.  Kennedy says Vera-Velazquez faces up to life in prison and a quarter-of-a million dollar fine when he's sentenced next March.

There were 14 new confirmed cases of the COVID-19 Virus reported Wednesday in Chautauqua County... and, there are 25 people currently hospitalized.  County Executive P-J Wendel's office reports they include three cases each in Fredonia and Westfield.  Wendel says two each are being reported in Jamestown, Silver Creek, and Dunkirk.  He adds there are 141 active cases... and there have now been a total of 1,130 positive cases in the county.  Wendel says 974 cases have now recovered.

It's been an interesting year for Chautauqua County Executive P-J Wendel.  He says it's been about a year since the former County Legislature Chairman learned that George Borrello was running for, and elected initially to the State Senate.  On Tuesday... the Lakewood Republican beat Democratic challenger Richard Morrisroe by a better than 2-to-1 margin.

Wendel was a physical education teacher, and coach in the Falconer School District at the time.  He says he's both "humbled and excited" by the results.  Morrisroe, who ran for public office for the first time, was happy with how he campaigned.  However... they got hit by a "red wave."

Also Tuesday... there were also two County Legislature runs offs to fill vacancies.  Republican Ken Lawton won the District 10 race to replace Wendel... and, Dunkirk Republican Kevin Muldowney won the District 1 contest.

It was a big night Tuesday for Chautauqua County's two members of the State Legislature... who will be going back to Albany in the new year after convincing wins on Election Night.  150th District Assemblyman Andy Goodell was a big winner over Democrat Christina Cardinale... with a better than 20,000 vote victory.  While he would remain in the minority in Albany... Goodell says Republicans have made some gains in recent years... and, that's good because it leads to better legislation.  State Senator George Borrello defeated Democrat Frank Puglisi in the 57th District Senate Race.Borrello says he's "honored" to be re-elected.

At some levels of governement, efforts to erode the integrity of this year's election began weeks before the voting started.  But, Republican PJ Wendel, who won election as County Executive in Tuesday's vote, has nothing but praise for what he calls the 'non-partisan' work of the Chautauqua County Board of Elections.

Former county executive, and now State Senator, George Borrello, echoed those feelings.  He says the Board of Elections here has done an "outstanding job" given circumstances surrounding the Pandemic, and the big shift towards more absentee ballots.  The Board of Elections is led by Republican Brian Abram and Democrat Norm Green.  Green is slated to retire from his post as commissioner later this year.  A recommendation on his replacement was abruptly pulled from consideration by the County Legislature at its recent meeting... a result of some conflicting opinions among Democratic Party leaders.

Republican Congressman Chris Jacobs has won a full term representing a district in western New York, beating the same Democrat he defeated in a special election five months ago.  Several Democratic members of Congress representing districts covering parts of New York City have all won their elections. The results of more tightly contested races for Congress and the state Legislature might not be known for some time because absentee ballots won't be counted in New York for at least a week.