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News Headlines for Fri., Feb. 22, 2013


Pokalsky talks state budget with local Chamber of Commerce; enlists they're help in lobbying...

The state Business Council's man in charge of lobbying for economic development says there's "lots to like" in Governor Andrew Cuomo's 2013-2014 budget proposal.  However... Vice-President of Government Affairs Ken Pokalsky says there are also some concerns in the coming year... and, beyond.  Speaking to members of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce in Jamestown Friday morning... Pokalsky says the $143-billion proposal holds the line on spending... and, includes some "pragmatic reforms" you wouldn't expect.  Those are reorganizating unemployment insurance... and, workers compensation.  Pokalsky says one of their concerns includes an extension of a $500-million a year energy tax... and, increasing the minimum wage.  However... he says the state is on the "right track..." and, may even show budget surpluses a few years down the road.  There is a problem, though, involving the federal government... which is changing it's formula for reimbursing states for Medicaid.  He says Gov. Cuomo is looking at filling another $1.3-billion deficit.  Pokalsky adds, though, that the federal government is also claiming that the state overbilled Medicaid in recent years by $15-billion... and, wants it repaid.  He says that could have a major impact on the state budget over the next two to three-years.


City Planning Commission approves abandonment of one-block of Lafayette St. around ice arena...

The Jamestown Planning Commission has approved the abandonment of Lafayette Street between West Second and Third Streets to provide more parking to the arena... and, two businesses.  However... Principle City Planner Bill Rice says the Jamestown Savings Bank Arena... the BWB Group and Shawbucks Tavern will have to have the site plan approved for the changes.  Rice says the abandonment was needed because the three entities want to have diagonal parking there... but, the city only allow parallel parking.  Rice says that was one of a number of issues that have to be addressed.  Those include access to adjoining properites, and dealing with utility easements under the street.  Rice says how the parking issue is regulated is up to the arena, BWB Group, and Shawbucks once they take over the property.  He says traffic patterns will also have to be addressed for traffic flow.  Rice says the number of parking spaces in that one-block stretch aren't exactly known yet... but, they will once they seek site plan approval for the parking area.  City Public Works Director Jeff Lehman is dealing with the easement issues.  He says a public hearing on the proposed abandonment will be held next month.


NYS homeowners receive $1.8-billion in loan relief from banks in foreclosure settlement...

Thousands of New York homeowners have gotten an estimated $1.8-billion in loan relief from five U.S. banks as part of the national mortgage settlement over foreclosure abuses.  So far... 21,535 New York homeowners have received assistance, including $1.2-billion in principal reductions and refinancing that lowers interest rates on their mortgages.  New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman released the information Thursday just before a monitor's report was released in Washington.  In 2012... Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank and Ally Financial agreed to a $25-billion penalty under a state-national settlement, with at least $17-billion directly to borrowers.


Gas prices up another 7-cents a gallon this week in Jamestown-area...

Gasoline prices in the Jamestown-area continue to climb this week.  The AAA's Fuel Gauge report says local motorists are paying an average 7-cents more at the pump.  The average price for a gallon of regular, unleaded is now up to just over $3.90 a gallon.  One service station in Lakewood was charging $3.99 a gallon Thursday morning.  The Fuel Gauge reports that prices are continuing to rise across the country.  The national average is now up to nearly $3.75 this week.  That's a 45-cent increase this month.  High oil prices, regional refinery issues, speculation and the approaching switchover to summer-blend gasoline have played a role in the rising gasoline costs. 


Officials say Lake George Eurasian Milfoil elimination making good progress...

A state commission says in a new report that ``great strides'' have been made in reducing an invasive species in a popular Adirondack lake.  The Lake George Park Commission says more than 85 percent of Eurasian milfoil sites in the 32-mile-long lake have been cleared, and plans are in the works to eradicate the remaining sites.  Milfoil was first discovered in Lake George in 1985.  It has also caused problems in Chautauqua Lake for many years.  The aquatic plant typically grows in thick mats that can clog boating lanes and make swimming and fishing difficult.  Park Commission Executive Director Dave Wick says while it's unlikely milfoil will ever be completely eliminated, the plant can be reduced to levels not seen in decades.


Blood supply low after northeastern storm, other inclement weather...

The need for blood donors in the northeastern U.S. is high right now.  Due to cancellations of blood drives due to weather... especially during the major, northeast storm of earlier this month... the American Red Cross is putting out a call for donors.  The director of the Southwestern New York Chapter of the Red Cross... Bill Tucker... says they always need most types of blood... but, says they really could use donors now.  Tucker says they are ultimately responsible for the nation's emergency blood supply.  In fact... he says they cover about 50-percent of it.  Tucker says -- in general -- only about 3 to 4-percent of those people eligible to donate blood do give.  All types are needed... including O-Negative and O-Positive... and, O and B Negative.  To be eligible to donate blood... you must be at least 17 years-old, and in generally good health.  There are some other basic requirements for giving.  To learn more... call 1-800-RED CROSS... the local chapter at 664-5115... or go on-line to www.redcross.org.


Waste water from oil and gas well drilling operations now headed to northwestern Warren County...

Wastewater from oil and gas operations is headed to Warren County's Columbus Township.  The Warren Times-Observer reports that Bear Lake Properties has officially begun operations at a wastewater disposal well site in conjunction with another Warren County business.  The Observer says Waste Treatment Corporation of Warren began hauling water from Marcellus shale production sites to the disposal facility near the New York State border last week.  That from Bear Lake Properties President Karl Kimmich... who says only a few trucks a day are expected at the site until the winter weather breaks.  The EPA has also issued draft permits for injection wells in Elk and Clearfield counties.

 

 

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