Local News Headlines

WJTN News Headlines for Dec 18, 2020

A 25th COVID-19 related death has been reported the past day in Chautauqua County... along with 71 new cases of the virus.  That from the county's Health Department... which reports 23 of those were in Mayville... and, 17 in Jamestown.  Health officials say that brings the local total to 2,649... and, 391 are currently active.  The number of people hospitalized has fallen by 2 to 34, and 2,233 have now recovered.

The 23 new COVID-19 cases in Mayville are from the County Jail... where a second round of testing was done on Wednesday.  Sheriff Jim Quattrone says... in a press release... that the 23 positive tests came out of 129 tests.  Quattrone adds that their testing... conducted by the county Health Department, and Emergency Services staff... also resulted in one new positive among 23 staff members tested.  Since the first positive case just over three weeks ago... Quattrone says a total of 88 inmates have tested positive... along with 14 correction staff members.

Work is continuing on hammering out the final details of a new, $890-billion to $900-billion, COVID Relief bill that would include direct relief to millions of struggling Americans.  Local Congressman Tom Reed says he's optimistic now that two of the biggest obstacles to approval have been removed, a final bill can be adopted by the end of the weekend.  Reed says that would include more payroll protection... added 300-dollar a week unemployment benefits... and 600-dollar stimulus checks.  He adds there's also money to distribute vaccines.

Reed says the two controversial measures were local and state relief, and some limited liability protection for businesses.  He co-chairs the Problem Solver's Caucus... which intially got stalled talks going earlier this month with a bi-partisan group of Senators... on a $908-billion package.  That proposal was broken into two... with most of the relief in a $748-billion package.  Reed says that was the framework used for the bill now being considered.  He made his comments during his weekly telephone conference call with regional media.

The on-going wrangling over whether to include federal aid for local and state government in the next COVID Relief bill has been set aside for the moment.  However... it has drawn the ire of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.  During a recent press briefing in Albany Wednesday... Cuomo called it a "major problem and a disgrace."  The Democrat says with a large-scale vaccination program to be put in place... states need the funding to administer it.  Cuomo has blamed Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for saying there would be no local or state aid in the new stimulus bill because the Democratic states have been mismanaged.  However... the governor says some Republican states were not hard hit like New York when the first wave of COVID-19 began in March.  He says many GOP-led states received a lot of money in the CARES Act... but, needed to get more flexibility to spend it.  He says hard-hit states have run out of money. 

The New York state Court of Appeals has denied a motion by the city of Jamestown seeking to appeal an arbitration panel's ruling giving police officers back wages of more than $800,000.  However... once compounded by time... it could cost the city more than one-million dollars.  That from Mayor Eddie Sundquist... who says the motion was denied by the court on Wednesday... and, was announced earlier Thursday.

In April of 2019... the City Council approved the appeal of a 2018 arbitration panel’s decision in favor of the Kendall Club-Police Benevolent Association.  Sundquist says he will talk with the City Council soon about what options are left... if any.  If that's not the case, the officers will get what's been "awarded to them."  The arbitration panel’s split decision called for a retroactive 2-percent pay increase for the police department employees for calendar years 2016 and 2017.  The state's Fourth Department Appellate Division upheld the decision this year, leading to the city filing a motion with the Court of Appeals. 

The attorney representing the Dunkirk Common Council is looking into whether city lawmakers can ban Mayor Willie Rosas from attending future meetings.  That from Councilman-at-Large Paul VanDenVouver.... who commented on the matter after a report that he had banned Rosas from attending all council meetings in 2021. Rosas was removed from Tuesday's meeting, the second time in six months.  The first time happened in a council meeting held on Zoom this past June after a series of heated arguments.

 Add snow days to the list of things that coronavirus has stolen from some children.  Many school systems have said that they intend to have kids continue to learn remotely during big snowstorms this year, robbing kids of those magical days when bad weather granted them an unexpected holiday.  Already the idea of cancelling school in bad weather has been under threat as districts have assigned students their own iPads and laptops that let them do lessons at home.  Now that the pandemic has pushed the practice to a nationwide scale, snow days' days may be numbered.