Local News Headlines

Eleven new COVID-19 cases, with one death, reported in county Tuesday...
There are 11 new confirmed cases of the COVID-19 Virus in Chautauqua County over the past day... along with one new death.  That raises the number of deaths since the pandemic began to 148.  The county Health Department says there were three new cases in Jamestown and Fredonia... bringing the total number to 8,866.  Officials say that 98 cases are now active... and, 12 of those are hospitalized.  The Health Department adds that 8,620 cases have now recovered... and, the seven-day infection rate is down to 1.4-percent.


County IDA distributes third and final round of CARES Act Loans...
The Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency has now doled out the remaining $2.2-million of the $10.5-million it received last year in federal CARES Act funding.  IDA Chief Executive Officer Mark Geise says the revolving loan fund was set up to provide capital -- in the form of low-interest loans -- to both businesses and non-profit organizations to help them through the pandemic shut-down.  Geise credited his staff's efforts to provide more than 50 entities with loans to help add upwards of 130 new jobs... and, retain more than 2,000 others.  He says the U.S. Economic Development Administration praised them for being able to dole out the funding in 9 month, because they wanted it completed within two-years.  Geise says this final round of loans helped "6 or 7" loans that were approved at Tuesday morning's IDA Board meeting.  Geise says the loans are given out at 2.2-percent interest... and, the terms are for seven-years and 10-years.  The $10.5-million was awarded early last September by the EDA to establish a new revolving loan fund. 


Lakewood lawmakers approve 2021-22 budget that includes 26-cent per $1,000 rate tax increase...
The Lakewood Village Board has a new budget in place that increases the tax rate by 26-cents per $1,000 assessed value over last year.  Mayor Randy Holcomb initially proposed a 22-cent increase... but, says two key factors boosted spending by another $11,000, bringing the final budget to about $3.86-million.  It was approved unanimously during Monday night's village board meeting.  Holcomb says the main reason is several assessments have been drastically reduced, or are gone because some property has become tax exempt.  The first-term Republican also says there are several pandemic-related costs that aren't going away soon.  With the changes... he says the new village tax rate will be $8.16 per $1,000 assessed value.


Fredonia Village Board approves budget with smaller increase...
The Fredonia Village Board has passed a revised 2021-2022 budget that features a significantly smaller property tax hike than what was initially proposed in March.  The revised spending plan, unanimously approved during a special meeting Monday of the panel... features a 1.4-percent tax increase that brings the property tax rate to $35.69 per $1,000, an increase of 50-cents. Trustee Roger Britz, Jr. applauded the board for reducing Mayor Doug Essek's initial proposed tax increase of 17-percent.  The changes also include a 38-percent cut in the salary for the fire chief, a smaller possible pay raise for the police chief, and a 16-percent increase for a new personnel specialist position.  Essek questioned those changes... saying most Americans don't want to see money taken away from police and public safety.  


Borrello blames loss of Congressional seat on "damaging policies..."
Chautauqua County's representative in the New York State Senate says Monday's report from the U.S. Census Bureau that the state will lose one seat in Congress is the result of "damaging policies and laws" passed by the state over the last 10 years.  Sunset Bay Republican George Borrello says the report confirms that the state's outmigration is continuing.  Borrello is also accusing the state's Democratic leaders of trying to manipulate legislative seats on both the federal and state levels so they can force bad policies down the throats of state residents. 


NYS eases more COVID-19 restrictions...
The governor says more people in New York will be able to attend outdoor sports games, concerts, gyms, casinos and work offices starting in mid-May.  Gov. Andrew Cuomo says that large-scale outdoor event venues can operate at 33-percent of capacity starting May 19 for professional and collegiate sports and live entertainment events.  That's up from the current 20-percent.  Cuomo cited the state's progress in reducing COVID-19 infections as reason for lifting restrictions.  New York had among the nation's highest rates of COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases this past Winter, and infection rates remained at high levels throughout February and March.  Cases and hospitalizations have been steadily dropping statewide in April.


RTPI plannig to reopen soon with work near complete on fire damage...
Work on rebuilding the fire damaged Roger Tory Peterson Institute is nearing a conclusion.  The Director of Development and Communications, George Harper, says the chandeliers and wood floor are back in the lobby... with only a few other things yet to finish before the scheduled reopening on May 29.  An electrical malfunction caused a fire on Dec. 3 that led to minor structural damage... and significant water issues... at the institute's distinctive home on Curtis Street in Jamestown. The building's been closed to the public ever since.  Harper promises a party when they open back up... with details to follow in a couple of weeks.  Harper spoke earlier this week in conjunction with the 87th anniversary of the first publication of Roger Tory Peterson's 'A Field Guide to the Birds.'