Negotiations continue in Albany over a new state budget. That from 150th District Assemblyman Andy Goodell who serves on one of several conference committees in the state legislature that are trying to work out differences. Goodell says one of the major issues is state aid for schools. Goodell is also pushing for having more funding go toward reducing or elminating the Gap Elimination Adjustment. He says Assembly Democrats support increasing Foundation Aid, which would benefit New York City and other big city school districts. Goodell says he supports putting 500-million dollars more in aid be put towards eliminating the GEA. However... the clock is ticking. Goodell says budget bills will have to be ready by Friday in order for the Legislature to have enough time pass a final budget by the April 1st deadline.
The superintendent of the largest school district in Chautauqua County is pleased to hear state lawmakers from the region pushing an increase in general school aid. However... Jamestown's Tim Mains says it's not likely going to be enough to get rid of the Gap Elimination Adjustment. Mains told school board members at last night's meeting that he spoke with State Senator Cathy Young Tuesday... and, she said the GOP-led chamber is pushing to get as much money to at least partially bridge that gap. Mains says the problem is there are other areas -- such as Pre-K funding -- that are part of the negotiations. Mains says... at least the Senate version includes a "time-line" to eliminate the GEA within two years. The Assembly's measure does not. The Gap Elimination Adjustment is the amount of state aid taken from district's since 2011 when the state was running a 10-billion dollar shortfall. Mains says if they get what's now projected... he and Assistant Superintendent for Adminstration Dale Weatherlow will still have to work to bridge a significant shortfall... using some accounting options and other "economies" the state has made available. The school board last night approved holding the public hearing on the proposed spending plan on March 13th at Persell Middle School at 7 PM.
A Westfield man is accused of pouring gasoline on his aunt and set her on fire before police used a stun gun to subdue him after he barricaded himself inside a home. Police tell local media the incident began shortly before 6 PM Monday when police and fire crews responded to a report of two vehicles on fire at a home in the Chautauqua County village. Police say 33 year-old Thomas Pereira had torched the vehicles and set his aunt on fire after dousing her with gasoline. Officials say she was treated for minor injuries. Police say Pereira barricaded himself in the basement before officers used a stun gun on him. He's being held without bail in the county jail.
No one was hurt... but, two animals perished in an apartment fire on Jamestown's westside Monday night. City Fire Battalion Chief Roger Sigular says crews were called to 106 West Eighth Street about 6:15 PM... and, found heavy smoke coming from the entrance to a first-floor apartment. He says firefighters ran one hose-line into the home. Sigular says the tenants got out safely. He says the living room was severely damaged by the blaze... and, he says firefighters were basically able to contain the fire damage there. Crews were at the scene until just before 8 PM. Fire Investigators say improperly discarded smoking materials is the apparent cause of the blaze. There were two occupied apartments in the building. The family of four in the gutted apartment is being helped by the local Red Cross.
We may be done with Winter... but, we're not done with Winter Weather. That from Forecaster David Thomas with the National Weather Service... who says even though it's been Spring for a few days now... we're still seeing some of the bitterly cold temperatures we've experienced the past three months. Thomas says the Winter of 2013-2014 had the most number of nights with at least single-digit lows since the Winter of 1919-1920. Overall... Thomas says temperatures were well-below normal every month going back to November. He adds snowfall totals... while lower in the immediate Jamestown-area... were also above-normal in the region. Thomas says some spots in the north county... and, northern Cattaraugus County... have seen 200-plus inches of snow this past Winter. He adds the outlook for spring calls for more below-normal temperatures... but, not as many below-normal days as winter.
The state's new health exchange reports more than one-million New Yorkers have completed applications for insurance while more than 717,000 of them have now enrolled for specific coverage. The Department of Health says enrollment for individual and family coverage since October includes nearly 343,000 New Yorkers in the 16 commercial and nonprofit insurers in the exchange and more than 374,000 in government-funded Medicaid. Open enrollments continue through next Monday for 2014 coverage at state-approved rates. Applicants with incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty line are eligible for tax credits to help offset premium payments. Another online exchange offers insurance for businesses with up to 50 employees.