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WJTN News Headlines for Tues., Nov. 15, 2022

Winter Storm Watch in effect as two storms coming to the region...
A couple of lake effect snow storms will take aim at Western New York beginning Wednesday night.  The National Weather Service in Buffalo has issued a Winter Storm Watch for 7 p.m. Wednesday to 7 p.m. Thursday for Chautauqua and Cattaraugus Counties.  Meterologist David Thomas says the heaviest snows will fall in northern Chautauqua County... with up to 9 inches of snow in the area around the "Chautauqua Ridge."  Looking at the entire region, Thomas says what happens in Chautauqua County Wednesday and Thursday is just the beginning... as a big lake effect snow event comes at the end of the week into the weekend.  That second storm could have crippling effects over a sustained period across the Niagara Frontier and further inland if it plays out as forecast. 


City Council agrees to move ahead with landbank, and "19-A" program funding...
City lawmakers in Jamestown appear to have finalized the last two, outstanding proposals for use of about $1.75-million in American Rescue Plan funding.  The City Council's Finance Committee discussed using one-million dollars for the Chautauqua County Landbank to administer and fund the demolition of several properties.  City Development Director Crystal Surdyk discussed how busy her department is already... and, how difficult it maybe to hire someone to do it "in-house."  Surdyk says it appears it will be difficult and time consuming to find someone to administer the program.  The other proposal would allocate $750,000 to develop a "19-A" program to get Zombie properties back on the market and in use.  Assistant Corporation Counsel Ben Haskins says they could at least start the program with $500,000.  Haskins says having properties they can make a profit on would allow the program to be "self-sustaining."  Lawmakers agreed to move ahead on the half-million dollar allocation.  The $250,000 not being used for that will now go towards the Senior Home Improvement program.  The proposals will be acted on at this month's voting session.


Ecklund urges fellow council members to get their budget proposals out...
The city council will hold the annual public hearing on the city's 2023 budget this Wednesday night at 6 p.m. in council chambers.  However... Finance Committee Chairwoman Kim Ecklund wants to hear from fellow lawmakers about what they want to see changed or adjusted in the $38.6-million spending plan before the Nov. 28 voting session.  Ecklund says... since there's not another work session prior to that meeting... those questions and proposals need to be e-mailed to lawmakers and the administration.  No formal amendments were offered by lawmakers by last Wednesday's deadline.  However... changes can still be made on the floor prior to the vote.  One item Ecklund says needs to be buttoned down is the cost of the Jamestown Police Department's K-9 handler.  The budget includes no tax rate increase... through there is a slight increase in the tax levy.


City man sentenced to six-years in prison on assault and weapons possession convictions...
A Jamestown man has been sentenced to six-years in state prison on two separate violent Felony convictions earlier this year.  Chautauqua County District Attorney Jason Schmidt says 29 year-old Bless Grant... also known as “Bam Bam...” received the sentences from County Court Judge David Foley Monday morning.  Schmidt says Grant pled guilty to second-degree attempted criminal possession of a weapon... then on May 19... while out on bail for the April 5 conviction,... he was arrested for second-degree assault.  In September... Grant was convicted on the assault charge after pleading guilty to pistol whipping another person.  He was also convicted of pointing the hand gun in a threating manner at another individual during the same incident.  Judge Foley sentenced Grant to six years in state prison... plus five years post release supervision on the assault conviction... and, three years in state prison... plus five years post release supervision for the April conviction. These sentences will be served concurrently.


Wendel says human services delivery will change with Schuyler leaving county office...
Chautauqua County Executive P.J. Wendel says he wants to move in a different direction with the structure of the County's delivery of human services.  As a result... the County's top elected official today announced the departure of Christine Schuyler as the Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services Director effective Nov. 29.  Wendel says Schuyler had a "tremendous" 14-year career with the county... but, he wants to "pivot and move in a different direction."  Wendel wants a separate Department of Health.  He is also looking to reorganize the county's human services departments, including social services and mental health because often times, people are receiving help from both departments.  Wendel says legislative leaders have been briefed on the changes... and, are supportive of them.  Schuyler says “I am extremely proud of the transformational work and tremendous accomplishments my department has achieved over my tenure.”  In the interim... Wendel has says DHHS Physician Michael Faulk will be Interim Public Health Director. 


Gas prices up in Jamestown...
The average price for a gallon of regular, unleaded gasoline in the Jamestown-area is up a dime from last week to just under $4.  The AAA East Central's Gas Price Report says the price was just under $3.90 to begin last week... but, is now just over $3.99 a gallon.  AAA adds the national average for a gallon of gas fell 3-cents in the past week to $3.77... which is 13 cents less than a month ago.  Officials say the main reason has been fluctuations in the cost of crude oil.