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WJTN News Headlines for Jan. 26, 2021

There are two new COVID-19 related deaths... and, 235 new cases of the virus since last Friday in Chautauqua County.  The county's Health Department reports the total number of deaths now stands at 77... and, the number of cases has climbed to 6,253.  Officials say there are now 423 active cases... and, 39 of those are hospitalized.  Health officials say 49 of the new cases are in Jamestown... while there are 45 more in Dunkirk.  There are now 5,753 cases that have recovered.

Despite the on-going COVID-19 pandemic... Jamestown city government was able to begin or complete a number of accomplishments in 2020.  That from Mayor Eddie Sundquist... who looked back Monday on a year that was unlike any other in a century.  Sundquist says they made some major moves to resolve what he called Jamestown's ambulance service "mess."
In addition... Sundquist touted the city's Department of Development providing $900,000 in business and rental relief through the Jamestown Urban Renewal Agency.  He says the city was the first in Western New York to not only establish a fund to help small businesses, but, renters as well to keep a roof over their heads.  Sundquist also reflected on a Summer of social unrest with the reinstitution of the city's Human Rights Commission.  He recorded the 23-minute speech behind a lecturn with the city seal on it... and, it was put on the city's website for residents to view when they were able to.  The website is jamestownny.GOV.

Mayor Sundquist also took a moment at the beginning of his State of the City Address to talk about another aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic -- fear.  Few knew what the new coronavirus was all about when states of emergency were declared in Chautauqua County and Jamestown.  Sundquist read a letter he received from a young girl named "Madaline," who was afraid she might lose loved ones to the pandemic.  He wrote back, telling her he also had fears... but, found a way to face them.

Sundquist says he reflected on what she had said... because swift action had to be taken to protect residents, and city government.  He says that included having to cut about $1.2-million from their budget, and find ways to support a "struggling community."  Sundquist says he not only had fears for the safety of his own family... but, for the city employees who work under his leadership.

A Middlefield, Ohio man died after a tree fell on him during a logging accident in the Town of Ripley last Saturday.  Sheriff's deputies were called to assist the Ripley Fire Department on Klondike Road shortly before 9:30 AM.  Officers say 46 year-old David Byler was about half-a-mile back in a wooded area when the accident occurred.  South Ripley and Chautauqua County EMS were also called in to assist at the scene.  Byler was transported to Westfield Memorial Hospital and later flown to UPMC Hamot Medical Center for treatment.  Deputies say Byler died Sunday afternoon from his injuries.

The city of Jamestown is looking at few options in 2021 when deciding whether to pay out a more than $800,000  arbitration award to rank-and-file police officers.  A panel voted a couple of years ago to approve the award to members of the Jamestown Police Department's Kendall Club-PBA for two-percent wage hikes over a two-year period.  Council President Tony Dolce made the acknowledgment on our Community Spotlight program last weekend.

A state appeals court late last year dismissed the city's appeal of the arbitration panel's decision.  Dolce says lawmakers had been anticipating having to pay out the award... in addition to compounding for the past two years.  However... Dolce says another part of the agreement should keep the award under one-million dollars.  He says the arbitrated award calls for union members to pay more for their health insurance.  While a recent report by City Comptroller Ryan Thompson noted the city may finish 2020 with a one-million dollar deficit... Dolce doesn't believe it will be that high... thanks to better-than-expected sales tax revenues from on-line sales.

The U-S Supreme Court says it won't take up the case of former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who's serving a 6 1/2-year prison sentence after being convicted in a corruption case.  The high court on Monday declined to take up the Democrat's appeal.  Silver once was one of the three most powerful state officials.  He was ousted as speaker in 2015, and convicted later that year.  Silver's original conviction was overturned on appeal, but Silver was convicted again in 2018.  Part of that conviction was then tossed out on another appeal, leading to yet another sentencing in July.  The 76-year-old Silver began serving his sentence in August.

An electrical problem triggered a minor fire late last Saturday afternoon at the Athenex plant in the town of Dunkirk.  Firefighters from East Dunkirk responded to the scene on East Lake Road just after 4:15 PM, and were assisted by crews from Dunkirk and Sheridan, along with Alstar Ambulance and County Emergency Services.  Dunkirk Fire Captain Gary Katta says the fire was located on the third floor of the facility and confined to one room.  No one was hurt.