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WJTN News Headlines for Wed., May 17, 2023

Investigation underway into fire at unoccupied home in Ashville...
Half-a-dozen south county fire departments were called to battle flames in an unoccupied home in the Ashville area early this morning.  Chautauqua County Fire Dispatchers say Ashville crews were initially called to 3264 Wall St. -- in the town of North Harmony -- about 5:30 a.m.  Dispatchers say mutual aid was called in from Lakewood, Panama, Sherman, Clymer and Chautauqua.  Crews were at the scene until about mid-morning.  No injuries were reported... and, the cause is under investigation.

JPS Budget, Capital Reserve Fund, new board member approved during Tuesday vote...
Residents of the Jamestown Public School district Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a $101-million, 2023-24 budget that includes no tax increase.  The vote was 555-127.  Voters also approved creation of a $5-million Capital Reserve Fund, 575-106.  There will be one new member of the school board come July 1.  John Panebianco won the seat being vacated by Shelly Leathers... and he was leading vote getter with 576 votes... while Melissa Paterniti received 240.  Board incumbants Paul Abbott and Christine Schnars were re-elected.  Abbott received 512 tallies... while Schnars had 514.

SWCS voters approve Budget, and Bus purchases...
All other school districts in the immediate Jamestown area saw their budgets adopted as well.  At Southwestern... residents approved a $33.1-million spending plan, 199-66.  School Superintendent Maureen Donahue was pleased with the results... noting that her budget team had to deal with rising costs in a number of areas... but, held spending below the rate of inflation.  Donahue says there are more needs for students coming out of COVID, food, fuel, and utility costs are also up.  She adds they also added staff to help students get back to where they need to be coming out of the pandemic.  Voters also approved a $520,000 proposition to buy three new buses, 212-54.  Three school board members ran unopposed.

All other school budget's approved Tuesday...
Other results from last night include the Brocton School District... where the budget was approved, 114-41.  Voters also approved a proposition to establish a reserve fund to purchase buses, similar vehicles and equipment, 124-29.  Robert Mead-Colegrove and Melissa Seavy ran unopposed for the school board.
Voters in the Falconer School District approved a $29.5-million budget... 104-13.  The spending plan included no tax levy increase.  A capital improvement project also passed, 103-14. 
In the Bemus Point District... voters easily approved a $16.6-million budget, 301-89.  They also approved a bus proposition... a capital project... and, library funding. 
Voters in the Panama District approved a $13.9-million budget, 122-17.
In Sherman... a $12.1-million budget was approved... along with the purchase of two new buses.  Residents also approved a small capital project.  
Residents of the Clymer Central School district approved a new, $12-million budget, 139-60. 
Chautauqua Lake Central School District voters approved a $24.3-million budget, 326-101. 

Jamestown man receives 10-year sentence on sexual conduct against a child conviction... 
A city man will spend the next 10 years in state prison after being sentenced for pleading guilty to sexually abusing a child. Chautauqua County District Attorney Jason Schmidt has announced that 38 year-old Jeffrey Bair had pled guilty to the Felony first-degree sexual conduct against a child charge back on March 2.  In addition to the sentence... Schmidt says Bair also received 20 year-old post-release supervision from County Court Judge David Foley.  The D-A thanked the county's Child Advocacy Program staff for their dedication to local child victims.  He says without CAP... "prosecuting these types of cases would be exponentially more difficult." 

City man faces charges after allegedly holing up with child inside home...
A Jamestown man faces several charges after allegedly breaking into a northside home Monday afternoon... and, taking a juvenile relative to another home where he barricaded himself and the child inside a room.  City police were called to the undisclosed location just before 3 p.m., and, learned that 21 year-old Elijah Keefe had damaged a doorway to get into the home... which he had an order of protection to stay away from.  Officers say Keefe then took the child to another home, and holed up in a room.  Police say he refused to come out... but, officers eventually were forced to make entry... and, Keefe was taken into custody without further incident.  The child was returned safely to family members.  Keefe was taken to the City Jail pending arraignment on charges including: second-degree burglary... second-degree criminal contempt... fourth-degree stalking... second-degree obstruction... and, endangering the welfare of a child.

FEMA explains grant, and answers questions of City Council on SAFER Grant...
The city of Jamestown was awarded a federal SAFER Grant of $1.8-million to hire eight new firefighters... no less.  That from a grants official with the Federal Emergency Management Agency during a Zoom Conference call with city lawmakers, and Mayor Eddie Sundquist Tuesday afternoon.  The City Council requested the meeting to clarify what the city can do with the grant... and, whether funding would be available after the grant runs out.  FEMA's Julia Barren says the eight additional firefighters would bring the city to 62... which they need to be considered "fully-staffed."  Barren says, when you accept the grant, you agree to "maintain the number of firefighters to keep the department operational."  She adds the city needs to begin hiring by Aug. 8 if the grant is accepted by the city... and, make a "good faith effort" to keep staffing at 62.  Barren adds that the city can apply for a retention grant down the line... but, says obtaining one of those is much more difficult, and competative.