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WJTN News Headlines for Jan. 11, 2021

New York state this week will allow a much wider group of people to get the COVID-19 vaccine this week in an effort to get more of them vaccinated.  Due to mounting criticism over the slow pace of the coronavirus vaccine rollout... Governor Andrew Cuomo made the announcement late last week that would include anyone age 75 or older.  However... will there be enough vaccine available for the people included in Phase-One-B?  Many have aslo asked if there will be "mass innoculation centers" at some point.  During a Zoom Conference with the Western New York Hub members late last week... Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said yes.

Hochul says there are about 1.6-million people... and, realistically... they want to get 1.3-million vaccinated.  Once the vaccine is more readily available... she says places like the Buffalo Convention Center... would be used.  Initially... Governor Cuomo warned that the supply of vaccines available to people other than health care workers and nursing home patients would be very limited.  Others that would be newly-eligible for the vaccine include teachers, and first responders.

UPMC Chautauqua Hospital in Jamestown has begun treating COVID-19 patients with monoclonal antibodies... laboratory-produced molecules that help a person's own immune system fight viruses.  Director of Surgical Services Trudy Bloomquist says seven patients have received infusions so far.  She adds that these are patients with COVID-19 who are typically at least 65 years old, have a body-mass index of 35 or greater, and have not had the illness for more than 10 days.  Bloomquist says patients have tolerated the treatment well so far.

The long-time police chief in the village of Lakewood and town of Busti will be retiring later this month.  The Lakewood Village Board is slated to act on the pending retirement of Chief John Bentley, Junior at tonight's meeting.  Bentley has been with the department for 45 years... and, is planning to retire on January 17th.  The village board will also act on the promotion of Sergeant Christopher DePonceau as the new police chief beginning that date.  Bentley has recommended DePonceau as his replacement.

An improper wood stove exhaust system is being blamed for an early afternoon fire last Saturday that extensively damaged a home in the town of Clymer.  Sheriff's Department investigators say Findley Lake firefighters were called to the scene at 9734 Route 430 about 12:30 PM... and, were joined by several other departments.  The county's Fire Investigation Team was called in... and, determined the wood stove was the origin of the blaze.  No injuries were reported.

A proposal to legalize recreational marijuana is expected to be part of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's State of the State message later today.  Local State Senator George Borrello continues to have concerns about the issue, and plans to oppose it.  However... he also has questions whether majority Democrats in both chambers of the legislature can reach agreement on such legislation.

Governor Cuomo has included the proposal in his last two executive budget plans... but, lawmakers have yet to agree on a plan.  Cuomo says they have to "look inward to decide on how they want to handle this... because the issues have not been addressed."  Borrello has had concerns about legalizing marijuana prior to becoming a state lawmaker, when he was Chautauqua County Executive.

State Senator Borrello has been appointed as the ranking Republican member of three senate committees for the 2021 session... Agriculture, Banks, and the newly-created Procurement and Contracts.  Borrello says he's "enthusiastic" about expanded responsibilities... and, affirmed his commitment to effect positive policy changes.  The Sunset Bay Republican says the state is "at a critical juncture as both employers and residents grapple with the economic fallout of the pandemic.  Borrello was also named to several other committees... including Finance and Aging.

Two men from Jamestown were arrested late last week after they were caught in the act of making an illegal drug deal.  City police say members of the Metro Drug Task Force were in the area of East Second Street and Foote Avenue just after 11 AM Friday when they saw the alleged transaction between 29 year-old Devonte Chandler and 25 year-old Donovan Paquette.  Officers say Chandler admitted that he had just sold Fentanyl to Paquette... and, he was also allegedly found with cocaine, hydrocodone pills... and, 43-hundred dollars cash in his possession.  Chandler was charged with three counts of third-degree criminal sale and possession of a controlled substance... while Paquette was charged with seven-degree criminal posession of a controlled substance.  Both were jailed pending arraignment.

The former plant manager at Cummins Jamestown Engine Plant has been named the 2020 recipient of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce's Pam Lydic Coalition Builder Award.  In a printed release... the chamber says Michael Abbate "has worked tirelessly for the economic betterment of Chautauqua County and to address the critical issues of education and food resources in our communities."  Abbate says he's "humbled and honored to be this year's recipient."  He started at Cummins Jamestown Engine Plant in 1981, and served in a variety of roles there before being named plant manager in 2013.  Abbate retired in 2018.  The Pam Lydic award will be presented during the joint Chamber-MAST Annual Meeting on-line at Noon on Friday, January 22th.