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News Update for Wed., May 15, 2013

Baker death ruled accidental... not from tazering, but, ingestion of two drugs...

A Buffalo-area man who was tazered while in Jamestown Police custody last February died from what a coroner calls "acute intoxication of two drugs."  Chautauqua County District Attorney David Foley says Charles Baker had apparently ingesting powder cocaine... and, the drug Tramadol prior to -- and, as he was being arrested following a traffic stop.  He allegedly became combative with police in the Feb. 16 incident... and, officers deployed a tazer.  Baker later suffered two seizures, and died at WCA Hospital.  Police say Baker was trying to throw away baggies of cocaine that were in his possession.  More on this story later.

Cuomo proposes panel to help distressed cities and counties; Teresi welcomes approach...

Governor Andrew Cuomo is putting at least $80-million in state assistance behind his proposal to help local cities and counties restructure their finances to survive.  Cuomo provided more detail Tuesday about his proposed financial restructuring panel.  He says the board will help local governments in distress merge and consolidate services, possibly lay off more workers, and to permanently restructure operations.  He says the plans will be specific for that locality... be it Syracuse, or Jamestown.  Some local officials -- including Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi -- were on hand for Cuomo's press conference... and, welcomed the approach as another tool to maintain needed services.  Teresi says that's one of the "real attractions" of Cuomo's plan.  However... some mayor's felt it avoided the biggest issues.  Syracuse's Stephanie Miner, who wasn't invited to Cuomo's event, said in an interview that municipalities are burdened most by pension and health care costs mandated by Albany.

No on attends JPS Budget Hearing; plan further outlined...

Jamestown school board members got a further update on the district's proposed, 2013-2014 budget, as no one from the public attended last night's required public hearing.  That was likely due to the fact there is no tax increase... and, no personnel cuts in the $75.3-million dollar spending plan.  The budget also includes $1.42-million less in spending than the current year's budget.  Assistant Superintendent for Administration Dale Weatherlow says this was a difficult budget to work on.  Weatherlow agrees it was made that way because not only did the board want a no-tax increase spending plan... but, Superintendent Deke Kathman wanted to avoid any more lay-offs to protect their instructional programs.  Weatherlow says it's the fourth-straight "zero-tax increase" budget district officials have put before the voters.  He says a number of spending lines... including certified staff wages are down significantly.  He says that's because 16 people have retired... or will retire this year.  Some positions are not being filled.  Others are being replaced with entry-level employees.  
District officials also announced the three people running for two full-terms on the school board next week.  Board President Joe DiMaio... and, newcomer Patrick Slagle are seeking three-year terms.  They're being challenged by Todd Rushforth.

JPS District residents to also consider transporation proposition next Tuesday...

Voters in the Jamestown School District will also be voting next Tuesday on a $795,000 transporation proposition to buy eight new vehicles.  Assistant Superintendent for Administration Dale Weatherlow also outlined that proposal during Tuesday night's public hearing.  Weatherlow says the district does maintain a "significant fleet" that is also aging.  He says five are regular buses, and three are smaller vehicles that are between 10 and 12 years-old.  Weatherlow says it's "just like our (own) vehicles... you have to replace them after a certain period of time."  He says most of the cost will be picked up by state aid... and, adds that they'll be paying off the cost over five years... so it matches up with the aid payments to the district.  He says that makes the move the "best way to go..." because the vehicles being replaced have gone through a lot of repairs... and, have failed state DOT inspections several times.  The transportation measure will be Proposition-2 on next Tuesday's ballot.  Voting on the Jamestown school budget and transporation measures... and, school board seats will take place next Tuesday from Noon to 9 p.m.  Residents will cast their ballots at Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson Schools.