Local News Headlines

WJTN News Headlines for Thur., Sept. 30, 2021

Sorry this was not properly uploaded Thursday

Hochul taps Bassett as new Health Commissioner...
Former New York City Health Commissioner Mary Bassett will become the top health official in the state as it seeks to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.  Governor Kathy Hochul announced Wednesday that Bassett will replace outgoing state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, a key figure in former Governor Andrew Cuomo's pandemic response.  Zucker has been criticized over his handling of pandemic, especially in relation to nursing homes.  Hochul recently announced his resignation.  She lauded Bassett's 30 years of experience in the public and private sectors and her devotion to health equity and social justice. 


Chautauqua County reports 102 new COVID cases on Thursday...
There are 102 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 being reported in Chautauqua County over the past day... and, more than half are in the Jamestown-area.  The county's Department of Health says there have now been 11,938 total cases... and, 437 of those are currently active.  Officials add that 33 are hospitalized... and, 52 of the new cases were in the Jamestown 14701 zip code.  They add that 11,320 cases have now recovered... and, there were no new deaths.  Officials say the seven-day infection rate is 7.6-percent... which remains high.


Cattaraugus County reports 35 new COVID cases Thursday...
In Cattaraugus County... health officials are reporting 35 new cases yesterday... bringing their total to 6,921.  Of those... they say 251 cases are active, and 27 people are hospitalized.  There have now been 120 deaths... and, the number of recovered cases is now 6,541.  The seven-day infection rate is now 5-percent.


BPU approves two new "Flex-Rate" deals with Bush Industries and SKF...
The Jamestown Board of Public Utilities has approved a new "flex-rate" agreement with Bush Industries... and, renewed another with SKF USA.  The board approved both agreements at this week's meeting.  Officials say the flex rate programs allow for lower energy costs for companies in the BPU's service area... if those companies commit to having a certain number of workers... and, invest in the capital needs of their facilities.  BPU General Manager Dave Leathers says the first agreement with Bush runs through Oct. 31 of next year.  Leathers adds the deal with SKF is for four additional years... beginning on November 1st of this year through October of 2025.  He says their agreements with SKF date back to 2007.


City Council approves new, voluntary Medicare Advantage program for city retirees...
Retirees from Jamestown city government now have a new Medicare Advantage plan they can sign up for that will be free for the first five-years they are in.  That after City Council voted this week to begin the new plan... which was developed by a Health Insurance Committee... which included At-Large Councilman Jeff Russell.  Russell says enrollment in the new plan by Highmark Western New York is strictly voluntary... giving them another option for health insurance.  He says it could save the city a significant amount of money down the road.  He especially thanked city Insurance Consultant Roy Glosser and City Comptroller Ryan Thompson for their hard work on the matter.  During a recent work session... Glosser clarified a couple of points... one being that the city takes on no risk when a retiree goes onto the Highmark plan.  Russell noted that the city spends about $7-million a year on retiree health insurance... and, they hope to see some savings as city retirees move onto the new, Medicare Advantage program.  The city has been self-insured for many years now.  Monday night's vote was unanimous.

CRCF reports results of Jamestown's ARPA public input sessions...
There were four main areas of discussion that came up during the four public input sessions on the city of Jamestown's $28-million allocation in American Rescue Plan Act funding.  The Chautauqua Region Community Foundation co-hosted the four sessions with the city... and, sifted through the comments to determine the 'final four.'  Foundation Community Impact Officer Elizabeth Jones told City Council members recently that the one generating the most comment was Housing and Neighborhood Stability... with issues ranging from home improvement programs, to receivership, and housing insecurity.  Jones says the second-biggest discussion surrounded economic... and workforce development.  She says that includes the need to better assist minority and women-owned businesses.  The third biggest area of discussion was Residents Health and Well-being.  She says that includes both physical and mental health, and the need for a multi-disciplinary approach.  Jones says the fourth was Recreation and Youth Activites.  The four public input sessions were followed by two additional, more targeted sessions.  Mayor Eddie Sundquist's administration will now draw up a final plan off the recommendations.


Lawyer says Hochul is using God unfairly in Vaccine Fight...
A lawyer for a group trying to preserve a religious exemption for health care workers says New York Governor Kathy Hochul is unjustly using God's name to try to nudge employers into ignoring court orders allowing the exemption.  The attorney made the claim Wednesday during arguments before the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.  Hochul has encouraged religious-minded people to get a COVID-19 vaccine by saying it is God's will.  An attorney for the state says the Department of Health is in full compliance with court orders.  The mandate took effect Monday and allows employers to suspend or fire healthcare workers who refuse a vaccine.