Local News Headlines

WJTN News Headlines for Tues., Nov. 30, 2021

Fredonia man killed when car hits building in north county village...
A 22-year-old man lost his life after his vehicle struck a building in the village of Fredonia Monday night.  Fredonia Police Chief Phil Maslak says the vehicle was heading west on West Main Street when it left the roadway near Hamlet Street and struck the Pucci Carpet One and Furniture building around 9:20 p.m.  The driver's name is not being released at this time... but, he's from Fredonia.  Maslak says an autopsy has been scheduled at the Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo to determine the cause of death.  The building was not damaged in the crash.


Jamestown lawmakers approve amended 2022 budget that keeps tax rate at 2021 levels...
The Jamestown City Council has approved a revised, 2022 budget that reduces more than a dozen lines in the spending plan... and, adds additional sales tax revenues next year.  A series of amendments basically took American Rescue Plan funding out of the general fund budget... and, lawmakers approved the $38.3-million spending plan last night, 9-to-0.  Council President Tony Dolce says the changes reduced the amount the budget would have taken from the fund balance by $643,000 to hold the tax rate at $23.69 per $1,000 full value.  Cuts in the budget totaled nearly $471,000, and $172,000 more in revenues were added to sales tax projections.  Finance Committee Chairwoman Kim Ecklund says the largest line-item cut was $195,000 to ARPA funding in the budget itself.  A couple of amendment votes were close... in particular one to cut $6,000 for contractual services for the Human Rights Commission was approved in a 5-to-4 vote.  There was also a close vote on taking $10,000 away from City Hall building maintenance.  The budget still includes a slight tax levy increase.


City lawmakers table action on "Lost Revenue" ARPA item, approve new City Court Judge...
Lawmakers last night also tabled a measure to allocate $3.7-million in "lost revenue" funding from the American Rescue Plan Act allocation to the city.  Council President Dolce says council decided on the move after hearing from the police and fire department about needs they have in 2022.  Mayor Eddie Sundquist's budget did include a new police cruiser to replace one vehicle in the JPD fleet.  However... Chief Tim Jackson says the department really needs five new vehicles to replace old, high-mileage cars. 
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In addition... a familiar face is returning to the bench on the Jamestown City Court at the beginning of 2022.  The city council last night unanimously approved Mayor Sundquist's appointment of local attorney George Panebianco to the position... replacing Judge Fred Larson, who will retire at the end of 2021 after hitting the mandatory retirement age.  Panebianco said he appreciates the vote of support, and looks forward to begin a judge again.


Fire damages Ripley home...
No injuries have been reported from a mid-day house fire Monday in the town of Ripley.  Chautauqua County Sheriff's Department dispatchers say Ripley firefighters were called to the scene at 11 Shaver Street just after 2 p.m.  Dispatchers say Ripley received mutual aid from South Ripley, and Westfield fire crews.  The Post-Journal reports one person was taken to the hospital for evaluation.  Crews were at the scene for a few hours.


Hochul announces executive order on hospital capacity...
An executive order being signed by New York Governor Kathy Hochul will put a temporary stop to non-emergency, elective surgeries in hospitals where bed capacity is less than 10%.  Hochul made the announcement during a COVID-19 press briefing in Albany Monday... where she noted the biggest bed losses are in Upstate hospitals, where the Delta Variant, and lower vaccination numbers, remain an issues.  Right now... she says this involves about 32 to 36 hospitals... mainly in Central and Western New York.  However... unlike last week's initial announcement... the governor says once hospitals are able to get their capacity back above 10%, they will come off the list.  She says this is part of the state's so-called "surge flex" planning.  Hochul says that would allow hospitals in the region that have more capacity to be utiliized for lack of it elsewhere.  The order takes effect this Friday, Dec. 3... and, will remain in place until Jan. 15.


Hochul, health official, say Omicron variant has not been found in NYS, yet...
Governor Hochul is also keeping a wary eye on developments regarding the new Omicron variant of COVID-19, which recently emerged in southern Africa.  Hochul spoke via Zoom with an official with New York's Wadsworth Labs that has been on the front-line to finding variants, and other issues with COVID.  The Wadsworth representative noted there have been no cases of the new variant found yet in New York State.  Hochul added, though, that the state is "not defenseless" this time around because there is the vaccine, and newer treatments for people who do get COVID.  She says the good news is there is plenty of vaccine available... and more mass clinics will be scheduled by the state in coming days.  She says the number of people who have received at least one dose of a vaccine has now passed 90%, but, she adds that if you received the Pfizer or Moderna shot, you need to get that second one for the best protection.  So far... Hochul says that state has distributed 2.4-million booster shots.  She adds that you should also get a flu shot this year.