Excess lint in a dryer vent pipe is the apparent cause of a fire that's signficantly damaged a Falconer apartment house... leaving the one tenant there temporarily homeless. Chautauqua County Fire Investigators say Falconer fire crews were called to the scene at 174 South Work Street just before 10:30 last Saturday night. Officials say the first floor apartment was vacant... and, one person lived in the upstairs dwelling. Fire officials say the tenant got out safely. Investigators determined the blaze was accidental in nature. No other inuries were reported. Falconer was assisted at the scene by Gerry, Jamestown, Kennedy, and Kiantone fire crews. The unidentified resident is being assisted by the Red Cross.
Last month's "Community Drug Forum" put on by Chautauqua County was a "great first step" in raising awareness of the optiate drug addition problem facing the area. That from County Executive Vince Horrigan... who organized the day-long session in Mayville back on March 12th. Horrigan says they're beginning to take the next steps in putting together three action teams to develop strategies to deal with the problem -- especially the skyrocketing use of Heroin as a replacement for pain killers. Horrigan says the three teams will each deal with one main area of illegal drug use. One is advocacy and education... the second is prevention... and, the third is treatment for people who are addicted. Despite the weather on the day of the "Community Drug Forum..." Horrigan says he was very pleased to see over 200 people take part in the program. He says it's brought a new "awareness" of the problem here... and, emphasizing that -- while it's a nationwide issue -- it's also "our problem."
A legislative task force in New York is taking a look at ways to address the rise in heroin and opioid abuse. Beginning tomorrow... the State Senate task force is holding 12 forums around the state to gather information about the increase in opiate use. The bipartisan task force was created to recommend better treatment and prevention programs. Tuesday's forum is scheduled for 10 AM at the Suffolk County Community College's Brentwood Campus. The task force is chaired by Republican Senator Phil Boyle, who leads the Senate Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.
New York state's new budget allots 400-thousand dollars for a pilot program to train police officers in dealing with the mentally ill. Mental health advocates proposed the training to help officers assess and de-escalate confrontations when called to incidents involving psychologically troubled people. The so-called Crisis Intervention Team model is already used in some form by 2,700 jurisdictions nationwide. It teams police officers with mental health professionals. The program includes guidance for 911 dispatchers on gathering information on mental health and addiction issues. It also includes 40 hours of training for patrol officers on topics like maintaining a safety zone while assessing the situation... and, avoiding the temptation to immediately answer a crisis with force.
An influential rating agency is giving a positive review to the state budget just approved by New York lawmakers. Moody's Investors Service says Friday the nearly 140-billion dollar budget signed Tuesday by Governor Andrew Cuomo is a ``credit positive.'' Moody's analysis singles out investments in education and praises state leaders for reaching a deal before the end of the fiscal year. The 138-billion dollar spending plan expands pre-kindergarten education and provides tax relief to homeowners and corporations. It comes with an additional $5 billion in one-time federal aid for Superstorm Sandy rebuilding and the rollout of the Affordable Care Act for uninsured New Yorkers.
Dunkirk Mayor A-J Dolce has come out with his take on a regional water project... and, he doesn't back a plan that would create a North County Water District. Speaking Friday morning in Dunkirk... Dolce says a regional approach could be taking using the current water providers, including the city of the Dunkirk and the villages of Fredonia and Brocton. Based on figures developed by city officials, Dolce believes a North County Water District would be more costly for each municipality involved... and, he believes his proposal would be less complex. He says lines would have to be upgraded, and you would need inter-municipal agreements so one system wouldn't "take another's customers." While he did not comment directly on the mayor's response... County Executive Vince Horrigan says he welcomes the discussion during the County Water Agency's next meeting. Even though he doesn’t support a North County Water District... Dolce says he is also willing to listen. The County Water Agency will be meeting next Thursday in Silver Creek.
New York state's major teachers union has elected its first female president. Karen Magee, an elementary and special education teacher, is the new head of the 600,000-member New York State United Teachers. She was elected Saturday by a majority of about 3-thousand union delegates. Magee succeeds Richard Iannuzzi for a three-year term. The 54-year-old Magee is a lifelong resident of West Harrison, in Westchester County. She started her career there as an elementary school teacher and has been president of the Harrison Association of Teachers for 11 years. She says she will defend public education while criss-crossing the state in the coming weeks.