Local News Headlines

The latest death from COVID-19 related illness is being reported... along with 39 new cases... Tuesday by the Chautauqua County Health Department.  The department's COVID-19 Dashboard says the death is the 21st reported so far... and, the additional cases bring the total number to 2,075.  Officials say 13 of the new cases were in Jamestown... and, 6 were reported in Lakewood.  The Health Department says there are currently 320 active cases, and 18 of those are hospitalized.  Officials say 1,734 cases have now recovered.  

State officials are concerned about the surge in COVID-19 cases in Western New York, including Chautauqua County.  That from Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul on Tuesday... and, she says everyone has a role to play in reducing the spread. Governor Andrew Cuomo Monday directed that hospitals increase their bed capacity by 25-percent.  Hochul says they will be watching the hospitalization rates across the state.  She says -- if it appears an area will be at full-capacity within three weeks -- it may have to be shut-down.  Meanwhile... Hochul says she has done more than 500 interviews about the pandemic, and the response to it, since March.  She says it's been a way to keep the public informed about what the Cuomo administration has done.

It's been a difficult school year... but, even with all the upheaval caused by the pandemic... the opening of schools in New York state has gone fairly well this Fall.  At the same time, though, there are still plenty of issues to be addressed.  The first, according to state School Board's Association Director Bob Schneider, is the need for a new federal COVID-19 stimulus bill.  Schneider says the bi-partisan, $908-billion bill being considered, includes 85-billion dollars for schools.  He says they also need money to cover transportation costs that would normally not be covered.

Schneider says there's also the need to address the "digital divide" that's made it difficult for about a quarter of all students to do work remotely.  He says that's especially a problem in underserved, rural areas that don't have broadband capability.  In many cases... schools have had to set up "Wi-Fi" hot spots on campus so children can access the Internet from a parking lot or elsewhere.  Schneider adds that the state is still withholding about 20-percent of each district's state aid because of budget constraints.

The Warren County School District will go to full remote learning -- starting today -- due to increasing cases of COVID-19.  In a video on the district's Facebook page... Superintendent Amy Stewart announced it's "not be because kids are becoming sick... it’s a matter of not having enough staff."  Stewart says kids should have received all the necessary supplies for virtual learning.

The city of Jamestown's arborist says the decision to take down 43 of the "Cathedral Oak Trees" on West Third Street is the hardest decision he's had to make.  Dan Stone went before the City Council Monday night to address his decision to take down all but three of the trees due to safety concerns.  Stone says... when crews had to recently take down three of the older trees... the root system had deteriorated significantly.

Stone adds that they've also seen discolored soil just beneath the surface... indicating rotting in the trunks.  He says work will begin to take down the trees... either late this week or early next.  Stone says they have already received input on what to do with the wood... and, funding for replacement trees. Stone detailed the situation for city lawmakers last night after discussing the matter with the city's Parks, Recreation and Conservation Commission during a special meeting last Thursday.     

The State Department of Transportation has made it official, that major construction has been completed on the $3.7-million roundabout project at the intersection of Routes 20 and 60 in the town of Pomfret.  State DOT Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez yesterday announced the completion of the project, which features a new two-lane roundabout, designed to accommodate large trucks.