Local News Headlines

WJTN News Headlines for Fri., Oct. 8, 2021

County Chamber presents annual business Persons of Year awards...
The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce presented two Person of the Year Awards at its annual Awards Banquet Thursday at the SUNY College at Fredonia.  One went to John D’ Agostino. the editor of the Jamestown, Dunkirk and Warren, Pa. newspapers, and also volunteers for the Boys & Girls Club.  D'Agostino is president of that north county division, which he says is growing to help give youth there activities, and tutoring.  The second award was presented to Jamestown's Rochelle Mole.  As Vice President of Finance at the National Comedy Center, she helped guide the organization through the COVID shutdown, and at one point surrendered her salary.  Mole says it was very difficult having to furlough people due to the shut-down.  The Economic Development Award went to Chautauqua Hospice and Palliative Care for its success in raising money for the ‘Hospice House’ in the midst of the pandemic.  The Jamestown Community chamber honored Lou Deppas for his work on three boards of directors: The YMCA, the Sports Hall of Fame and the Comedy Center.


Health Dept. issues first "Weekly COVID-19 Dashboard" report...
The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Chautauqua County has been on the rise in recent weeks... and, for the past week period... rose to 579 between September 26th and October 2nd.  That from the county Health Department's new, Weekly COVID-19 Dashboard... which reported 523 new cases for the previous week.  The Health Department says there were four new deaths during that period... bringing that number to 189.  Officials say there have now been 12,179 total cases... and, 354 of those were active at mid-week.  There were 34 people hospitalized... and, 11,583 cases have now recovered.  The county's COVID-19 Response Team voted to make the change because cases are prevailent just about everywhere... and, to reduce the workload for the Health Department.


Sundquist presents no tax rate increase 2022 budget proposal...
Bolstered by about $3-million in American Rescue Plan funding... Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist has proposed a no tax increase budget for next year.  During a presentation at City Hall Thursday afternoon... Sundquist said the $38.9-million spending plan uses some of the $10-million dollars in ARPA funding designated to cover "lost revenue.  He says they are also getting a boost from increased property values, and sales tax revenues.  Sundquist says as they draw down on that money, they'll be able to do some projects, and hire back some people the city has had to hold off on.  He says the spending plan includes 41 capital projects in 2022 to address a number of issues.  He says... most years... the city had tried to take on about 10 such projects.  Sundquist says while taxable property growth was under 1% for a number of years... he said it was up about 1.9% in 2020... and, 2.8% this year.  He says a payment in lieu of tax agreements expire and other growth occurs... that's expected to rise by 4% next year. 


Mayor outlines new positions in budget...
Jamestown's mayor says some of the seven new job positions he's proposing in the 2022 budget are part of what's called "succession planning" to help replace people who later retire from important positions.  He says that's especially in the area of Tracy Plaza maintenance.  He says they have added a new building maintenance mechanic for City Hall because there's only one right now.  Sundquist is also proposing an assistant Public Works Director... but, for two reasons.  He says the first is to have someone to help coordinate and supervise some of the 41 projects being proposed, and the other is planning for the future.  Sundquist is also proposing restoring the City Ombudsman position that had been eliminated many years ago.  That position would also include human resources and diversity.  


National Fuel Gas alerts customers in WNY of higher Winter gas bills coming...
National Fuel Gas is alerting it's Western New York customers to anticipate higher heating bills this winter season as natural gas commodity prices have risen significantly following years of historic lows.  Company officials say customers may also see an increase in gas usage this winter season as initial weather reports indicate a return-to-normal cold and snowy winter.  Across it's Western New York territory... National Fuel says about 90-percent of residents rely on natural gas to heat their homes and fuel their businesses. The estimated average residential customer’s winter heating bill – November through March – is expected to be $714, which officials say is a 43-percent increase compared to the last winter heating season bill when the typical customer paid $498 during a winter that was about 10-percent warmer than normal. 


Four-H Week highlighted in Chautauqua County...
This is National 4-H Week, and Kate Ewer... the Chautauqua County Four-H Educator... says it's a great time for new members to join.  Four-H is for young people ages 5 to 18.  Chautauqua County has 13 Four-H clubs and offers10 animal projects.  Ewer says 4-H is different because of relationships the youth have with their peers, and the 4-H leaders, who want them "to succeed."  She adds, the Four-H learning model is quite special... and, says "do -- apply -- and reflect" when you take on a project... be it a craft or raising a rabbit.  For more information phone Cornell Cooperative Extension at 664-9502 or find them on the world wide web.