Local News Headlines

WJTN News Headlines for Nov 18, 2020

There are 31 new confirmed cases of COVID-19... and, a new COVID death to report in Chautauqua County.  County Executive P-J Wendel says a man in his 90s with multiple comorbities succumbed to complications from the virus over the past day.  Wendel says the 31 new cases include seven in Fredonia... six in Jamestown... and, three in Dunkirk... and, seven people are now hospitalized.  Wendel says there have now been 1,379 confirmed cases... while 1,204 have recovered.  He says there are now 159 active cases, continue to recover.  There have now been 16 deaths from the COVID-19 Virus.

Despite some early technical difficulties... Chautauqua County officials held a virtual Town Hall Tuesday afternoon on the local, state and national situation surround the COVID-19 Pandemic.  It was hosted by County Executive P-J Wendel to answer the public's questions on a number of fronts.  Public Health Physician Dr. Robert Berke says the county has done well so far... with a 1.5-percent infection rate.  However... he warned we may have to "hunker down" for another four to six months.

Berke himself has had to quarantine twice... once when he traveled out of state, and another time when he had contact with a person who had COVID.  Officials also talked optimistically about the very successful trials of two vaccines.  In addition... Public Health Director Christine Schuyler noted the county is ready to dispense the vaccine once it's approved and available.  One person asked P-J Wendel if the county could impose it's own mask-wearing mandate.  He said it could not because New York state already has issued one... and, state laws in such matters supercedes what local governments do.  Associate Public Health Physician Brian Walters noted that while there will be millions of vaccines available once the FDA gives it's approval.. both of the current ones require two doses, and it will take a while to get everyone needing a vaccination to get one.

Officials with the five unions represented Jamestown city workers say they have not agreed to Mayor Eddie Sundquist's proposal to change Medicare-eligible health insurance for retirees.  Sundquist last (Monday) night outlined his proposal for a Medicare Supplimental plan administered by United Health.  During last night's budget hearing... union officials argued they hadn't seen details, and, that it should be part of contract negotiations.  City Council Finance Committee Chairwoman Kim Ecklund agreed.

Sundquist contends that for retirees who are age 65 or older, the change would provide them with a "comparable" supplimental health insurance, and not need to be negotiated.  Councilwoman Marie Carrubba questioned whether there would still be any savings after a year in the new plan because rates change after a year... which she has seen where she works. Councilman Jeff Russell... a retired Jamestown police officer... says he would rather see the program be voluntary with the option to join up after employees and retirees are fully educated on the proposal.  Council President Tony Dolce urged the administration to talk with the unions about the proposal... and, answer lawmakers question before a Special budget meeting next Monday night.

There is a new principal at Jamestown's Bush Elementary School.  School Spokeswoman Cathy Panebianco says Kate Benson began her new duties on Monday.  Benson was previously the assistant principal at Washington Middle School... and, replaces retiring Bush Principal, Dan Bracey.  The school board appointed Mrs. Benson at their meeting on June 10th of this year.  School Superintendent Kevin Whitaker says "in these challenging times, I am so pleased that we are filling this essential role with a person who is ready to meet those difficult challenges, as well as to support our students and staff at Bush."  Benson says she's very excited to be moving into the new post.

The Salvation Army Kettle Campaign has started early... and the call is out to get volunteers to assist the effort.  Major Kim Merchant says kettle stands at Tops Markets went up Monday (11/16) and others will follow soon.

Now... Merchant says they're hoping volunteers will sign up to ring the bell because the more ringers they get "the more money that goes into the community."  Volunteers are asked to call 664-4108 and ask for Holly.  Major Merchant adds, they have special precautions this year becuase of COVID 19 -- masks and rubber gloves are required unless you wear winter gloves. All kettles have a QR code that allows people to make 'cashless' donations using their smart phone.  The goal for the kettle campaign in Jamestown this year is $115,000.

Fredonia Mayor Doug Essek proclaimed Monday, November 16th as Roger Pacos Day at Monday evening's village board meeting.  Essek is also asking trustees to dedicate the trustees room at Village Hall in honor of Pacos, who passed away unexpectedly on November 1st.  The mayor says it's to honor Pacos for his many years of service, and, adds they will discuss this further at future meetings.