Local News Headlines

WJTN News Headlines for Fri., Sept. 10, 2021

County reports 112 new confirmed COVID-19 cases after 87 were reported Thursday; hospitalizations double...
There's been another spike in the number of new, confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Chautauqua County over the past day... and, the number of hospitalizations has doubled since Wednesday.  The county Health Department says there are 199 new cases over the past two days... bringing the local total during the pandemic to 10,589.  Officials say 336 cases are now active... and, 24 people are now hospitalized after being at 12 at mid-week.  The good news is the county added 121 recovered cases the past day... and, that number is now over 10,000 at 10,087.  The seven-day infection rate remains 9.1%... which the CDC says is "high."


Wendel lays out proposal for county's $24.6-million in ARPA funding...
Chautauqua County Legislators heard details this week about Executive P.J. Wendel's plan to use $24.6-million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.  Wendel told lawmakers the plan, which includes 41 projects, was developed by an ARPA committee that has been meeting since last Spring.  He says they focused on six different areas.  Wendel says he and the committee placed special emphasis on a number of areas that included public health, infrastructure, work force development, economic development, clean water and public safety.  He says funding for larger projects will come from the second tranche of funding set for 2022... including a sewer project, water project and one for broadband.  However... he adds a federal infrastructure bill may cover those.  County legislators are expected to take action on the plan during their monthly meeting scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 22.


JPS officials preparing for new COVID-19 requirement...
No effective date has been set... but, the Jamestown Public Schools are preparing for a new COVID-19 requirement for staff in the district.  Superintendent Kevin Whitaker told our Dennis Webster Thursday that the impetus comes from new Governor Kathy Hochul, who says the state is moving to mandate staff be vaccinated, or to have the unvaccinated tested at least once a week.  Dr. Whitaker says the directive will ultimately come from the state Department of Health.  He believes that most employees of the Jamestown Public Schools have been vaccinated.  Bringing testing to teachers and staff, however, may create an opportunity for some others in the district as well -- namely students who may be ill, or whose parents want them tested.  While aware of the recent increases in COVID case numbers and the positivity rate, Dr. Whitaker says 'thusfar we are fortunate that we don't have to make any changes' in the fall program for the Jamestown schools.  He also says the district has worked very hard since the spring to fill open positions... and has hired over 30 new people.  But there are still openings across the board, particularly for bus drivers.  


United Way of Southern Chautauqua County kicks-off 2021 general campaign...
The 2021 campaign for the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County is underway.  It started with an outdoor "block party" at the United Way’s Pine Street office Thursday afternoon.  The theme this year is ‘Help Today Gives Hope Tomorrow’ and the goal is $1.3-million.  The husband and wife team of Christine and Mark Tarbrake will co-chair the effort.  Christine is confident… even in the face of the pandemic.  She says the people of Chautauqua County are "so compassionate and so generous..." and they step up in tough times.  United Way Executive Director Amy Rohler says there’s a new way to ‘text’ a gift to the campaign... by texting "UWHope" to 91999.  The local United Way helps to fund 43 programs at 28 member agencies.  The Thursday kickoff was held jointly with the United Way of Northern Chautauqua.  The campaign will run through the end of the year.  For more information... call 483-1561.


Westfield Board approves sale of former Welch's Building to developers for housing, and commercial use...
A development team from the midwest, and western New York has joined together to purchase the former Welch's Building in Westfield for housing and commercial space.  A spokeswoman for St. Louis, Missouri-based RANT, LLC, and Buffalo-based Savarino Companies says they have "re-imagined the future" of the historic Welch’s building.  Officials say they are planning 24 one-and two- bedroom apartments between 500 and 1,200 square feet, occupying four floors, and geared to the lifestyle of young professionals.  They add that the 10 to 12-thousand square foot commercial space on the first floor will ideally become a year-round entertainment venue complemented by other amenities.  The project took a step forward Wednesday night when it was approved by the Westfield Town Board.


Benjamin sworn-in as new Lt. Governor...
New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin thanked Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul for choosing him as he was sworn in to join her two-week-old administration.  Benjamin took the oath of office on Thursday in Hochul's New York City office.  Hochul took over as governor on Aug. 24, following Andrew Cuomo's resignation over sexual harassment allegations.  Hochul is the state's first woman governor and a Democrat from western New York.  She had pledged to choose someone from New York City to be her lieutenant governor.  Benjamin has served as a state senator representing Harlem.