Local News Headlines

WJTN News Headlines for Wed., Dec. 22, 2021

County reports slight decrease in COVID-19 cases... but another 13 deaths in past week...
There are still high-numbers of new COVID-19 cases being reported the past week in Chautauqua County... but, the number of deaths continues to climb.  The Chautauqua County Health Department today reports 689 new cases... which is down from last week.  However... there were 13 new deaths... bringing that total now to 257.  Public Health Director Christine Schuyler adds there have now been 17,884 total cases... and, 602 of those are currently active.  The number of hospitalizations remains 41.  The number of recovered cases has now exceeded 17,000... at 17,025.  The seven-day infection rate is now 10.4%.  Schuyler says there is still concern for lagging vaccination rates... and, serious illness in those not vaccinated against COVID-19.  She says 40% of the eligible population in the county has not been vaccinated... and, "the unvaccinated account for nearly 70% of people hospitalized with COVID-19."


Berke urges public to be responsible on getting COVID-19 vaccination...
With Chautauqua County just recently hitting a 60% vaccination rate... a key member of the County's COVID-19 task force is speaking out on the effort to combat the virus.  Long-time Chautauqua County Physician Dr. Robert Berke has posted a video about COVID-19 on the Chautauqua County Health Department's Facebook page.  Dr. Berke equates the process of slowing the spread of COVID-19 to being at war.  He says it's "nothing to do with your right to do anything you want."  Berke adds "we are at war."  Meanwhile... Governor Kathy Hochul announced on Monday that the state set a new daily record for COVID-19 cases with 23,391 on Sunday. 


County to distribute cloth face masks to local houses of worship...
Chautauqua County officials say they recently secured a stockpile of cloth facemasks... which will be allocated to houses of worship to help curb the spread of COVID-19 during the holiday season.  County Executive P-J Wendel says the effort to get the facemasks to churches and other houses of worship was a result of recent discussions between Wendel, County Legislator Terry Niebel, Public Health Director Christine Schuyler, and Office of Emergency Services Director Noel Guttman.  Wendel says they "want to make masks available in areas that are easily accessible to the public and houses of worship are one of the best places to reach a majority of our residents."  He says they still encourage all residents to mask while in public... and, for more information... call the executive's office at 716-753-4211.


Falconer man faces federal pornography, stalking and harassment charges...
A Falconer man accused of human trafficking has been arrested for allegedly stalking, harassing and threatening several underaged girls.  U.S. Attorney Trini Ross says 22 year-old Yusef Malik-Myrick was arrested early Tuesday morning during a raid at a Delaware Avenue home for production, receipt and distribution of child pornography.  Prosecutors accuse Myrick of having both on-line and sexual relationships with the girls.  When the relationships ended... they say Myrick cyberstalked, harassed, and threatened the minor females, and their families.  Prosecutors say Myrick communicated with and sexually exploited at least seven victims primarily through Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram.  Ross commended law enforcement for "tracking down this defendant, who is accused of engaging in a pattern of threatening behavior to numerous minor victims and taking him into custody."  She also encouraged other victims to come forward.  The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, county Sheriff's Office, and Ellicott Town Police took part in the raid.  The charges carry a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.


McLaughlin confirms approvals for new Evans Discount Wines and Liquors to be at former Alfie's location...
Site plan approval has now been given for construction of a new, and expanded liquor store on Fairmount Avenue in West Ellicott.  The town's planning and zoning boards recently gave approval to the plans for Evan's Discount Wines and Liquors, which would be located at the former Alfie's Restaurant location at 986 East Fairmount.  The restaurant, owned by Dan Evans, was closed in 2019.  Town Supervisor Pat McLaughlin says prep work is underway... and, won't be completed quickly.  McLaughlin says construction will likey begin in the early Spring of 2022... and, it should be open by mid to late Summer.  McLaughlin says the actual construction could be done by late Summer or early Fall if all goes as planned.  He says Evan's business at his current location -- just west of the former restaurant -- is cramped for space.  McLaughlin adds the new building for Evans will be set well-back off of Fairmount Avenue to allow parking in the front. 


Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign in Jamestown builds momentum, but, still has a ways to go to $115,000 goal...
The Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign in Jamestown has made significant progress over the last week, but there's still a substantial amount of money to raise by this Friday -- Christmas Eve.  Salvation Army Major Kim Merchant says they've now reached $97,000 raised so far.  Merchant says they got a major boost came when the kettle total reached $40,000... enabling a match of that amount from two local, anonymous donors.  That brought the total to $80,000... and, that's now been exceeded by $17,000.  She's hoping they can continue the momentum.  There are a number of open kettle slots for those who would like to ring the bell for the Salvation Army between now and Friday.  Phone 716-664-4108 to sign up.  Checks can be mailed anytime between now and the end of the year to Salvation Army, 83 South Main St., Jamestown.