Local News Headlines

WJTN News Headlines for Tues., Apr. 25, 2023

Council tables action on hiring eight new firefighters with federal SAFER Grant...
The Jamestown City Council has tabled a resolution to hire eight new firefighters through a $1.8-million federal grant.  After much discussion about whether to go ahead with using the SAFER grant to bring on the firefighters... lawmakers asked if the city could look into hiring a smaller number using the grant.  A couple of them... including Council Finance Committee Chairwoman Kim Ecklund... asked Mayor Eddie Sundquist to look into that when they communicate with the Federal Emergency Management Administration.  Sundquist says they will have to have a specific number.  Ecklund says, usually firefighters are brought on in groups of four, so they would likely be looking at 4 more.  Councilman Jeff Russell says the idea of being able to talk with FEMA about reducing the number of firefighters hired was new information... and, he agreed with a member of the public who said... why not at least try to hire "4 or 5" new firefighters.  Russell says they've asked about doing that... but, had been told it was "8 or nothing."  The additional eight firefighters would mostly be paid for through the three-year SAFER grant.  However... most lawmakers have expressed concerns over future costs once the grant funding is gone.  The vote to table was 8-to-1, with Councilwoman Regina Brackman casting the lone no vote.


Firefighters union chief urges lawmakers to approve the measure...
The head of the Jamestown Professional Firefighters Association was on hand... with able 20 rank-and-file members of the department... to urge lawmakers to approve the eight firefighters.  Union President Ben McLaughlin thanked the administration, and Deputy Fire Chief Matt Coon, for looking into -- and getting the grant.  McLaughlin says it's generally agreed that the city needs more firefighters... and, he says they understand there are financial "uncertainties" with the grant.  However... he says FEMA agrees the department is understaffed.  McLaughlin says the additional firefighters would be beneficial in a "number of ways..." including less dependence on local volunteer mutual aid companies... meeting minimum staffing numbers... and better response times for fire and emergency calls.
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While the council tabled the measure to hire eight new firefighters... lawmakers did approve purchasing a new ambulance for the department for $247,000.  That vote was unanimous.  


Geise says it will likely cost County $11-million to develop new industrial park...
It will likely cost Chautauqua County upwards of $11-million to develop a new, 150-acre industrial park in the western part of the county.  However... the effort to create more "shovel-ready" industrial sites won't end there.  That from Deputy County Executive for Economic Development, Mark Geise, who says he and his department are continuing to do it's work to get a new site in place.  Geise says they're working with several property owners to package the land... and, adds there will still be engineering and infrstructure that has to be brought in.  During his State of the County Address... County Executive P.J. Wendel said that his administration, and the Department of Planning and Economic Development, were contining to work on acquiring the land... and, developing it for future projects.  However... Geise says the county still needs what he calls "mega-sites" to draw developers.  He says their current parks don't have much room left... with about 30-acres in the Mason Industrial Park near Jamestown... and, about 10 left in the Chadwick Bay Park.  So far... Geise says the county has allocated $4.8-million in American Rescue Plan Act funding for the west county site... along with $700,000 in Capital Projects money.


Wendel says he'll support county helping to pay part of Fredonia's water study...
Chautauqua County's top-elected official says he would support having the county help pay for a portion of Fredonia's comprehensive water study... should they include an option to consider water service from the city of Dunkirk.  Lakewood Republican P-J Wendel spoke about the study Monday... noting that the legislature's Planning and Economic Development Committee discussed the matter last week.  However... he says it's up to the village to make the request.  The Dunkirk Common Council approved a resolution last week that would pay about $28,000 for such a study.  The Fredonia Village board tabled action on a study last Monday. 


Gas prices up slightly in Jamestown-area...
Gasoline prices in the Jamestown-area continued their upward trend over the past week... with the price for a gallon of regular, unleaded... now nearly $3.70.  The AAA East Central Gas Price Report says... to begin the week... the price is now just over $3.69 a gallon in the wake of rising oil prices over the past month.  AAA says the price last week locally was just over $3.65 a gallon.  The national average price rose about a nickle the past week to $3.66.  That's even though gas demand has decreased and total domestic stocks have increased.


JPS student's artwork on display now in lobby of City Hall...
A new display of artwork from 16 students in the Jamestown Public Schools is now being shown in the lobby of city hall.  Mayor Eddie Sundquist recently joined with many of the students to celebrate the new display.  Sundquist says the students are from Bush and Fletcher elementary Schools... Persell and Washington Middle Schools... and Jamestown High School.  During a reception at City Hall... Sundquist and School Superintendent Kevin Whitaker presented each student with a certificate marking the achievement.  The student artwork will be on display at City Hall through the end of the year.


 

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