Local News Headlines

WJTN Headlines for Fri., May 14, 2021

This is commencement weekend at Jamestown Community College, and Dr. Kirk Young, Vice-President of Student Affairs, says they've put together an extraordinary 'virtual' ceremony' that will go on-line at 6 o'clock tonight.  On Saturday in Olean... and Sunday in Jamestown... students will have the opportunity to walk across temporary stages set up outdoors at both campuses.  All of this year's, and last year's graduates are being recognized this spring... so 1,154 names will be read in the virtual ceremony.  Several hundred have opted to join the in person degree presentations.

The Jamestown High School graduation is six weeks away and Superintendent, Dr. Kevin Whitaker, hopes the traditional JHS ceremony can occur.  Current rules for New York schools limit indoor events to 100 people and outdoor programs to 200.  Dr. Whitaker would like to see those restrictions relaxed.  Then, even if Chautauqua didn't work out, something big could be done locally.  If the rules don't change, the district could be left with the option of a series of  private degree presentations... similar to what was done for the class of 2020.

New York State is reportedly 'reviewing' the updated recommendations announced yesterday by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding the revised mask-wearing guidance.  The CDC now says that fully vaccinated people don't have to wear them in uncrowded situations indoors or outside at all, even at a crowded event.  Pennsylvania has adopted new, relaxed federal guidance on mask-wearing for people who are vaccinated but the mandate is still in place for unvaccinated people.

The Chautauqua County Department of Health's online dashboard reports there are 11 new cases of Covid-19 today, bringing the total current number of active cases to 77.   Currently one person is hospitalized and one new death has been announced.  That brings the total number of positive caes to 9,121 during the pandemic.  The seven-day infection rate remains at 1.4 percent.

Children between the ages of 12 and 15 can get vaccinated in New York effective immediately. Gov. Andrew Cuomo made the announcement Wednesday after the state's vaccine advisory task force and CDC's vaccine advisory committee formally recommend the Pfizer vaccine for that age group.  Chautauqua County Health Director Christine Schuyler says she will be working with local districts in setting up clinics directly in school buildings, but says if parents show interest, they can start the process now by going to CHQGov.com and looking for available clinics.

State Senator George Borrello says he's irritated after the effort to get Panama and other schools 'off the hook' for 'nuisance fines' failed in the recent state budget negotiations.  In the final negotiations, only five districts got their fines erased.  Now, a stand alone bill is moving through both the Senate and Assembly to get Panama's $2 million penalty forgiven.  Borrello, a Republican, says it'll likely pass in both houses, and then be vetoed by Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo.  If that happens, he would like the legislature to assert itself with an override.  Borello says that 'failure to override' by majority Democrats is one of the most frustrating parts of his short term as a state legislator.



The issue of having reliable, long-term power capacity has come to the forefront in recent months... but, electric customers in the Greater Jamestown-area don't have to worry.  The Jamestown Board of Public Utilities is set to get 90-percent of it's power needs from the New York Power Authority for the next 19 years.  BPU General Manager Dave Leathers says the utility wrapped up negotiations a short time back for more hydropower.  That contract will take the BPU through the year 2040 with power supplied by the Niagara Hydropower Project in Niagara Falls.  Leathers adds their supplimental power will continue to be provided by the gas turbine purchased more than 20 years ago that, with regular maintenance, should last for another 15 years.

This year's Pennies for Paws campaign at the Chautauqua County Humane Society was an extraordinary success.  Brian Papalia, the Partnership Director for the Humane Society, says the original goal for this year was a million pennies... or $10,000.  The $17,000 plus dollars will help support the fundamental work of the  Humane Society, according to Papalia who credits the success to the many school teachers and students who got involved.  This year's Pennies for Paws total was nearly three times the pandemic reduced total in 2020.

Chautauqua Institution has announced the appointment of Mark Wenzler as the director of the newly launched Chautauqua Climate Change Initiative.  As part of the Institution’s longstanding commitment to environmental sustainability, the initiative elevates climate change as a key issue that Chautauqua is uniquely positioned to address through intergenerational and multidisciplinary experiences and programs. It also represents Chautauqua’s first major initiative that was conceived and created not only as a program that comes to life during its traditional Summer Assembly, but also that operates year-round  — delivering on a strategic vision to expand and deepen the impact of Chautauqua’s mission both during and beyond the Summer Assembly.  Wenzler currently serves as senior vice president for conservation programs at the National Parks Conservation Association, where he has created and managed multiple programs focused on addressing climate change.