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WJTN News Headlines for Thurs., May 26, 2022

Sinclairville home destroyed in accidental fire...
Eight fire departments were called in to battle flames that destroyed a home in the town of Charlotte early this morning.  Chautauqua County fire investigators say the Sinclairville Fire Department was initially called to the scene on Rood Road just before 5 a.m.  Mutual aid was called in from seven other departments... and, the blaze was extinguished shortly after that.  Officials say one occupant and a pet dog were able to escape safely... and, are being helped by the local Red Cross.  Fire investigators have determined the fire originated at floor level behind the dryer due to a faulty electrical cord and outlet. 


Whitaker explains school "Lockouts" on Wednesday...
Two Jamestown schools had brief 'lock outs' Wednesday... endning outdoor activities... after some perceived threats. School Superintendent, Dr. Kevin Whitaker says one of the 'lockouts' was at Jamestown High School and prompted by an observant staff member who said they saw someone outside that looked like they had a gun.  Whitaker says officials then called Jamestown police, who "flooded" the area... but, found no immediate threat.  He says the person seen at the school had left the scene, and they are now checking surveillance video from the area.  Whitaker declined further comment about what could be an 'potentially active investigation.'  A similar 'lock-out' was called at Washington Middle School for a time Wednesday.  The superintendent said that one was not 'necessary' but was done out of an abundance of caution.  As for the news earlier this week from Uvalde, Texas... Whitaker said it was very difficult to hear... and, concluded by saying it was a terrible day for that community and our country.


Hochul meets with Illegal Gun Task Force... and orders State Police to push school safety through end of the school year...
New York Governor Kathy Hochul spoke out Wednesday after the mass shooting at a Texas elementary school that claimed 21 lives, including 19 children.  The shooting came about 10 days after the horrific shooting in Buffalo where 10 were killed.  After attending a meeting of the Interstate Task Force on Illegal Guns... Hochul said she also held a meeting with the State Police.  She says she wants them doing "daily check-ins" at districts through the end of the school year.  Hochul also told reporters that she wants to raise the legal age to purchase a gun to 21 in New York State.  She asks "how does an 18 year-old purchase an AR-15...." and she wants to work with the legislature "to change that."  Hochul indicated the seizure of illegal firearms is up 60% in the state since the start of the task force.


Gillibrand proposing "Domestic Terror Prevention Act" to be voted on in Senate today...
New York's junior U-S Senator is urging her colleagues to vote in favor of her proposed "Domestic Terror Prevention Act" in the wake of the recent shootings -- in particular the one on May 14 in Buffalo.  Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand says she's bringing the three-part measure to the floor for a vote today... and, says it would make federal agencies who deal with such matters work together to prevent such acts.  Gillibrand wants those agencies -- such as the FBI, and DHS -- to work together jointly to better track and respond to this "growing threat."  She says she's also sending a letter to the FBI this week... urging it to give making these threat assessment matters their "highest priority."  She says there's also a third part to the measure... her "Data Protection Act" which creates an agency that would hold social media responsible for monitizing hate, and pushing extremist content into people's news feeds.  


County Legislature approves local law changing formula for Workers Compensation program...
The Chautauqua County Legislature has overwhelmingly approved a local law that changes the formula the county uses in determining workers compensation costs for local governments.  Lawmakers voted 16-3 to approve the changes... which would save the county up to $700,000 a year... beginning in 2023.  Sheridan Republican Terry Neibel thanked their finance team -- led by Director Kitty Crow -- for their hard work on the matter.  Crow is also the county's self-insurance plan administrator.  There was an effort to amend... and, then table the law because it would increase workers comp costs for the cities of Jamestown and Dunkirk... and, for Westfield.  While agreeing the change needs to be made... Jamestown Republican Dave Wilfong felt increasing the city's cost by $157,000 over one year is too much.  In addition to Jamestown... Crow said there would be an $86,000 increase in costs for Dunkirk... and, a $7,700 increase for Westfield. 


"Old" human remains found at construction site in Dewittville...
A contractor doing work on a property on Meadows Road in Dewittville has uncovered "very old" human remains at the location.  That from Chautauqua County Sheriff's Department investigators... who were called to the scene late yesterday.. and found the contractor had come across at least two sets of remains while digging with an excavator.  Members of the county's Forensic Investigation team responded to the scene for a preliminary investigation... and, held the scene overnight until members of the Forensic Anthropology program at Mercyhurst College responded to the scene.  The property where they were located Chautauqua County Alms House.  The Alms House or “County Farm” started in the early 1800s and was open in some capacity for over 100 years. Through investigation and research... officials learned that numerous people were buried on the property during that time... and, it's believed that's what they are.