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WJTN News Headlines for Jan. 27, 2021

There are 11 new COVID-19 related deaths being reported in Chautauqua County yesterday.  However... the number of new cases has dropped significantly, to 38.  The county's Health Department reports the total number of deaths now stands at 88... and, the total number of cases is now 6,290.  Officials say there are now 406 active cases... and, 40 of those are hospitalized.  Health officials say the most number of new cases, 8, are reported in Dunkirk.  There are now 5,796 cases that have recovered.

Members of the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency have approved another $2.6-million in loans from federal CARES Act stimulus funding for 16 local businesses and organizations adversely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.  Deputy County Executive for Economic Development, and IDA CEO, Mark Geise, says this is in addition to $5.7-million in loans approved last October.  He says some will go to some key, Jamestown-area manufacturers.

Geise says the loans... which vary in size... were approved at Tuesday's IDA board meeting.  He adds there were other entities including Southern Tier Environments for Living, and the Kosciuszko  Polish Home Association that got funding.  Geise says they've now been able to get $8.3-million into the hands of local businesses in about five-months... which is what the agency that awarded the money to the county -- the U-S Economic Development Administration -- wants them to do.  Geise says the term for all loans is 2.44-percent.  A third round of funding from their $10.5-million allocation is expected in late April.  For more information... call the IDA at 661-8900

The Chautauqua County Health Department has given the okay for moderate and higher-risk sports to proceed beginning on February 1st.  Late Tuesday... the Health Department said in a printed statement that, "after extended internal consultation and discussion among Western New York County Health Officials, it has been determined that higher-risk and moderate risk sports may proceed... according to and in compliance with state guidelines.  Those guidelines were announced by Governor Cuomo last Friday.  The approvals allow non-professional and non-collegiate sports, such as wrestling, ice hockey, basketball, contact lacrosse, and volleyball, to proceed with individual and group training, competitions, and tournaments.

Jamestown City Council members have raised concerns about a decision by the National Comedy Center to no longer host a general election polling site.  Discussion started near the end of Monday night's Council voting session when Democrat Tom Nelson asked what lawmakers may be able to do to keep it there.  Mayor Eddie Sundquist offered to bring officials with the Board of Elections to the panel's next work session.

In a letter to the Chautauqua County Board of Elections last August... Center Vice-President of Finance and Operations Rochelle Mole  noted they were closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the pandemic, and they could accomodate a location.  However... she said it was only a "one-time deal."  Councilwoman Marie Carrubba voiced concern over the fact that millions of federal, taxpayer dollars were used to help renovate the former train station on West Second Street, and the "public area" of that station is to remain for public use. Councilman Jeff Russell echoed those sentiments... adding that the public space there seems to be slowly going away.

The Comedy Center issued a new statement Tuesday afternoon regarding the polling site situation... noting that since they opened in 2018... it's been a polling site for five elections.  They add they have fully-cooperated with the Board of Elections on its needs for that space on election days.  However... they also say that "after numerous discussions with the Election Commission last summer, and with the continued growth of the Comedy Center’s publicly accessible retail venue, it became apparent that the Election Commission’s requirements will significantly compromise retail operations and the revenue it generates to support our non-profit mission.  However... center officials did say they would be open to discussing the matter sometime in the future.

A Lancaster, New York man faces driving while ability impaired by drugs charges following a motor vehicle accident in Ashville last Friday.  State Police were called to the scene on North Maple Street and learned that a northbound van had left the roadway and came to rest on its side.  The driver, and sole occupant of the van was identified as 33 year-old Alex Barnhardt... who was not injured in the crash.  However, Troopers say he was taken into custody after failing several sobriety tests.  A Chautauqua County Drug Recognition Expert determined Barnhardt was allegedly under the influence of Central Nervous System depressants.  He is scheduled to appear in North Harmony Town Court at a later date.

The Fredonia Village Board now has one vacancy remaining after trustees approved the appointment of a former Pomfret Town Council member as a trustee.  During Monday night's meeting, held via video conference, trustees unanimously approved Scott Johnston's appointment.  In nominating Johnston, Trustee James Lynden pointed out that he is the husband of Village Clerk Annemarie Johnston.  However, Lynden says he was confident that Johnston would avoid any conflicts. Johnston was appointed from a list of three candidates. The other candidates included former village Police Chief Brad Meyers and former Trustee Michael Barris. Neither candidate received sufficient support from the board.