Governor Cuomo says more than a million homeowners in New York have applied for school district tax exemptions in the past six weeks. The STAR exemptions for primary homes have been around for years, but the state is requiring new applications this year after tax officials found that thousands of people with multiple properties were receiving more than one exemption. Homeowners with annual incomes under 500-thousand dollars can register on-line at tax.ny.gov... or they can call 518-457-2036.
County Executive Greg Edwards has accepted a fact-finder's report that he hopes will resolve the impasse between the county and it's largest union. Edwards late Friday said in a press release that he's hopeful that Civil Service Employees Association Unit-6300 will now accept the recommendations on wages, health insurance and lay-off rights. If they do... he believes the legislature could act on a tentative agreement in November. The four-year contract would include no wage increases for years 2012... and, 2013. There would be a 41-cent per hour increase in 2014... and, a 2-percent increase in 2015. The current contract with the CSEA unit expired at the end of 2011.
There are 600-thousand unfilled manufacturing jobs in the United States... and, there are 'hundreds' of good paying career jobs here in Chautauqua County. That was the message from County Executive Greg Edwards during National Manufacturing Day in Jamestown last Friday afternoon. Edwards was one of the speakers during festivities at Jamestown Community College's Manufacturing Techology Institute. Many times during his final term in office... he's spoken during his final term in office that there are dozens of good manufacturing jobs available here. Edwards says a big part of the problem is having the trained workforce to fill those positions that become available. He says the MTI has helped fill the bill in many cases. The event was hosted by the Manufacturer's Association of the Southern Tier. Edwards says it was designed to show local residents... and, the manufacturer's themselves... the wide variety of workplace opportunities there are locally. He says the recession really hurt Chautauqua County because 22-percent of the county's workforce is in some form of manufacturing.
The kitchen-area of a Lakewood home sustained some damage last Saturday afternoon when an electrical problem in a ceiling box triggered a fire. Sheriff's Department dispatchers say Lakewood fire crews were called to the scene at 237 East Terrace Avenue shortly before 4 PM. They were joined at the scene by Celoron firefighters. However... they blaze was put out quickly. Dispatchers say the county's Fire Investigation Team was called in to help determine the cause of the flames. They determined the electrical problem occured in a junction box in the ceiling of the kitchen. No one was at the residence at the time the fire ocurred, and there were no injuries reported. Fire investigators have ruled the cause accidental.
The federal government shutdown is being felt locally with a cancellation of a visit by a key federal official today. The U-S Army Corps of Engineers' Brigadier General who was scheduled to be in Dunkirk this afternoon will not be able to come to see if local Lake Erie harbors need dredging. The city Mayor's Office got a call late last week saying that the visit was cancelled. The official was to visit both the Dunkirk City Harbor... and, the Small Boat Harbor in Hanover.
The Fredonia Opera House's capital campaign is continuing after getting off to a strong start. That from organizers of the annual campaign. Opera House Executive Director Rick Davis says they have raised a significant amount of the 300-thousand dollar goal. Davis says the largest portion of the money will be used to installed digital equipment for showing movies. The Opera House currently uses projection equipment that dates back to 1937. The funding would also address other building issues since the last capital campaign in the 1990s. Davis says you can get more information about the "Maintain and Sustain..." A Capital Campaign for the Next 20 years" by checking out the Opera House's website at Fred opera-dot-ORG.
The Department of Environmental Conservation is taking applications for urban forestry grants that can be used to enhance landscapes and provide green spaces in urban areas across the state. Commissioner Joe Martens says trees, parks, and other green space in cities supports wildlife habitat, helps protect against storm damage, alleviates summer heat and reduces storm water runoff. Grants are available to municipalities, public benefit corporations, public authorities, school districts and not-for-profit organizations. Awards will range from $2,500 to $50,000, depending on municipal population, and have a 50/50 match requirement. The money comes from the state's Environmental Protection Fund. Applicants can get instructions and forms on the DEC website (www.dec.ny.gov ).
New York state Agriculture Commissioner Darrel Aubertine is resigning. The northern New York farmer and former state legislator served three years in the Cuomo administration, drawing a salary of about 106-thousand dollars a year. The Democrat's resignation was first reported by The Watertown Times. Republican Patty Ritchie beat Aubertine in 2010 with 52 percent of the vote in the state Senate district that included Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties. Aubertine's loss was a blow to Democrats trying to gain the Senate majority. The majority is now run by Republicans with four Democrats in the Independent Democratic Conference, with traditional Democrats in the minority. The Cuomo administration confirmed the resignation Friday. It is effective next week.