Chautauqua County's employment picture brightened last month to end the first quarter. The jobless rate in March fell to it's lowest point since March of 2008.... but, outdoor activities are still running behind last year due to our harsh Winter. That from state Labor Department Analyst John Slenker... who says the county's unemployment rate fell from 8.3-percent in February to 7.7-percent last month. Slenker says the county gained about 400 jobs over the month... mainly in three areas. Slenker says the county lost 100 jobs in manufacturing... and, had other losses in professional and business services... education... and, leisure and hospitality. He says the figures might have been better if there was better weather sooner in March... as construction kind of lagged. However... Slenker says it's not a major concern because last Winter -- especially the end -- was mild. It allowed construction season to get underway early. Slenker says he expects construction to pick up a lot in April... and, going forward because so many roads, privates drives, and parking lots need work. He says the 7.7-percent jobless rate for last month was a big improvement over the 8.5-percent in March of 2013.
The jobless rate in Cattaraugus County also went down significantly last month. Labor Department Analyst John Slenker says the unemployment rate fell from 8.3-percent in February to 7.8-percent in March. Slenker says "normal seasonal trends" were again at play. But... he says the number of jobs fell by 200. He says that was mainly in the area of Leisure and Hospitality... as the ski season at the Holiday Valley Resort began winding down. Slenker adds, though, the industry is still up 200 jobs over the year. Slenker says manufacturing in Cattaraugus County held steady in the month of March... while construction was down. He says the unemployment rate was way down from the 9-percent from March of 2013. This year... Slenker says the number of jobs are up 100 from that point last year.
In an effort to help stem the local drug abuse problem... Jamestown City Police have installed a new prescription drug collection drop-box. Officials say the secured box is located in the departments reception area... and, is accessible 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. They say members of the community can now dispose of unwanted medications there anonymously. An officer will also be available to answer any questions people may have. City police say they will accept prescription medications... controlled substances... along with liquid medication in leak-proof containers. They will not accept items such as needles... syringes... or, medical waste.
Two city men who were spotted early this (Thursday) morning carrying flashlights and looking into parked cars on Jamestown's westside were arrested after they ran from police. City officers say they spotted the pair -- 22 year-old Richard Raynor-the-second... and, 21 year-old Brandon Doud -- about 2:30 AM in the area of Fairmount Avenue and Catlin Avenue. Police say they attempted to do a street check on the two men... but, they ran off. However... both Raynor and Doud were caught after a brief foot chase. Both men were arrested on one count each of obstructing governmental administration... and, were jailed pending arraignment.
The closing of the Carriage House plant in Fredonia in 2015 is already having an impact on the north county village's new budget. Mayor Steve Keefe says the 9.55-millon dollar, 2014-2015 spending plan will feature significant cuts just about everywhere to keep the village under the state's 2-percent property tax cap. But... he says they will keep the village's most essential services. The village board adopted the budget during a special session Thursday afernoon. Keefe says the spending plan will also include an increase in the minimum sewer rate. The minimum sewer rate increase will be 25-dollars per quarter, or 100-dollars per year, while the water rate increase will be 10-cents per thousand gallons. Keefe says the village is also closing a projected 1.5-million dollar spending gap by cutting several positions. He would not say which positions are being cut... but, seven full-time positions are reportedly being cut... while another full-time position will be cut to part-time. Other moves include the elimination of all seasonal employees in the Public Works Department. Overall spending in the budget is down by about 5.8-percent... but, increases the tax rate by 71-cents per thousand.
Fredonia village trustees have approved a local law that's aimed at eliminating any unsafe activities on roof tops in the village. The proposed legislation did spark some opposition from the public. Village property owner Mary Jane Starks was among those who spoke out against the local law during a public hearing this week. Trustee Joe Cerrie (Sear-ee), who voted in support of the local law, says the local law is designed to protect those who may be in harm's way on those roofs. Cerrie says the police will also have discretion in determining whether any arrests are made. Roof top gatherings at last year's Fred Fest at the SUNY College at Fredonia led to the legislation that was approved by village lawmakers unanimously.
Gas prices in the Jamestown-area gas prices are up about 4-cents a gallon this week to 3-dollars-77 cents for regular, unleaded. However... as the week ends... at least one station is charging 3--82 a gallon. On the National Front... Triple-A's Fuel Gauge reports the average price at the pump is 3-dollars-67 cents per gallon. That's 2-cents more than last week... and, 14 cents more than one month ago. The Fuel Gauge says refineries are required to start producing summer-blend gasoline by May 1st... and, in anticipation of this date... they often go off-line for scheduled maintenance now. This decrease in supply can cause prices in certain areas to rise, but fluctuations have been minimal thus far this season.