The Rural Patriot

August 27, 2006

Weekly News Roundup – 8/27

Filed under: Weekly News Roundup — theruralpatriot @ 9:31 am

In case you may have missed any of these articles.  Covering mainly Allegany and Cattaraugus Counties, but WNY regional, state, and national topics of interest are also added.

LOCAL

New bond rating lowers interest on borrowing
Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded Cattaraugus County’s bond rating from Baa1 to A3, county legislators were told Wednesday. The move will lower interest costs for borrowing.
“This has been a long time coming,” county budget director Jack Searles told the Legislature following an announcement by Chairman Crystal J. Abers, R-South Dayton. “This is really big news.”

City gets grant for sewer work
Rep. John R. “Randy” Kuhl Jr. emptied the proverbial goody bag Friday in announcing $2 million in grants to five municipalities in the region, including $400,000 for sewer-system improvements in East Olean.

Wellsville adopts tax levy, more staff changes
WELLSVILLE – The Wellsville Central School Board of Education adopted a tax levy at Monday’s board meeting that will raise more than $6 million.

Council OKs $3.8 million loan
OLEAN — In a 4-3 vote Common Council members agreed to a $3.8 million short-term loan Tuesday to keep the city running until the end of the budget year in May.
The loan, called a revenue anticipation note or R.A.N., will be paid off during the city budget year as revenues from fees and taxes come into city coffers. City Auditor Stephen J. Pachla said the loan will likely cost an additional $150,000 in interest payments.

Brady rips borrowing without reductions
OLEAN — In December when accountant Jim Brady warned the city was facing a $3 million deficit, Mayor David Carucci dismissed him from a finance committee and Common Council members ignored him.
But now everyone knows Mr. Brady was right all along.

Wellsville adopts tax levy, more staff changes
WELLSVILLE – The Wellsville Central School Board of Education adopted a tax levy at Monday’s board meeting that will raise more than $6 million.
“That’s the local revenues for the school budgets,” said Superintendent Dr. Byron Chandler. “We get state aide and federal aide and we get local aide. The local is what’s raised by taxing property owners.”

Audit Finds Poor Oversight at Allegany-Limestone Central School District
State auditors found improper benefit payments to administrators, undocumented and unauthorized expenses, and questionable credit card purchases including travel expenses of a district employee’s spouse that were paid for by the district because the Allegany-Limestone School Board failed to adequately oversee financial operations, according to an audit released today by State Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi.
“The Allegany-Limestone School Board was not providing necessary oversight of the district’s use of taxpayer dollars, and as a result, theft and misuse of money occurred in the district,” Hevesi said. “I am pleased that since our audit, the district has tightened internal controls and the board has implemented most of our suggestions.”

Former ACME Electric to close in Cuba
CUBA – Tracewell Systems, the former ACME Electronics in Cuba is expected to close as soon as October.
Company officials said despite landing several contracts, other issues with electronics and contracts with the military has caused at least seven orders to stop being filled.

Carucci says control board not needed
OLEAN — The city is a long way from needing the help of a state-appointed financial control board, even if Common Council members won’t borrow $3.4 million to cover a deficit on Olean’s books.

GV Planning Board sets Sept. 20 comprehensive plan meeting
GREAT VALLEY – The Great Valley Planning Board will hold an informational meeting Sept. 20 concerning public input on a proposal for a comprehensive plan for the town. The meeting will start at 7 p.m. and be held in the Great Valley Fire Hall.

STW continues to look into local broadband network
SALAMANCA – Southern Tier West and a corporation known as ION Corporation continue to work on plans for a broadband development initiative for the Southern Tier.
(snip)
“We’re still looking into funding opportunities,” Malak said. “We are having ongoing discussions with Sen. Catharine Young. “We’re also talking to local business to get their support for the need for broadband.”

EBERTH: Mayor, council knew crisis was coming
In 2002 the city of Olean had a surplus of just over $2 million. Today it has deficits totaling $7.2 million.
The surplus was used to pay off ever-increasing state pension fund costs. Olean makes annual payments to the fund which then pays for worker retirement packages. The pension fund lost billions in the stock market crash that followed the 9/11 terror attacks.

Panel wants input on mayoral debate
OLEAN — The Olean Charter Committee debated the merits of hiring a professional administrator to manage the city during the committee’s second meeting Monday.
(snip)
In the city manager format, the elected members of the Common Council would hire someone to be the city’s chief administrator. The city manager would be responsible for drafting the annual budget and managing city workers and operations. It’s the form of government that’s led Cattaraugus County to a $17.8 million surplus under the direction of County Administrator Jack Searles.

Innkeepers say they don’t see fair return on bed tax
ALLEGANY — When funding for tourism promotions is done by local chambers of commerce, many owners of bed and breakfasts feel like they’re getting short-sheeted, so to speak.
That was the message heard by several Cattaraugus County officials Monday when they met informally with bed-and-breakfast owners and managers from the area.

County concerned about loss of Tracewell jobs
BELMONT – The issue of Tracewell Systems closing its doors led off a special Committee of the Whole meeting of the Allegany County Board of Legislators Thursday night at the Crossroads Center.

Six buses could be added to county fleet
BELMONT – Allegany County Legislators will soon vote on purchasing six new buses for the Allegany County Transit system.

County legislators decline to fund bridge project
LITTLE VALLEY – The local cost share for a proposed bridge project in Hinsdale will not be funded by Cattaraugus County.
During a joint meeting of the Cattaraugus County Public Works and Finance committees, legislators chose not to support a resolution that would have turned responsibility for 1.1 miles of Main Street (County Route 26) over to the town. The county would also have paid the town $50,000 upon transfer of the 1.1 miles of road. In exchange, the county would have officially taken responsibility for the bridge, in order to facilitate the construction project.

Pirro cites her background as an asset in AG race
SALAMANCA – No matter what the issues are, attorney general candidate Jeanine Pirro lists experience as the most important part of the job.
Pirro, district attorney in Westchester County since 1993, visited the Southern Tier recently. The Republican candidate said she has spent more than 30 years as either a prosecutor, judge or district attorney.

City-GV railyard purchase on hold while DOT studies right-of-way needs
SALAMANCA City and town of Great Valley officials are putting their proposed purchase of part of the former B&O/CSX railyard on hold after the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) expressed interest in part of the property for future expansion of Route 219.

STATE

McFarland resumes campaign for Senate
ALBANY (AP) – Kathleen Troia “KT” McFarland has resumed her Republican campaign for the right to take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, a campaign spokesman said Thursday.

Higgins changes his stand on Iraq War
WASHINGTON – Rep. Brian Higgins says his brief visit to Iraq was all it took to convince him the time has come to negotiate a date for bringing home most of the American troops now in the country.

Church addresses ban on women as teachers
WATERTOWN (AP) – The minister of a church that dismissed a female Sunday school teacher this month after adopting what it called a literal interpretation of the Bible said a woman can perform any job – outside of the church.
The Rev. Timothy LaBouf and the board of First Baptist Church issued statements Saturday.
The church dismissed Mary Lambert, who had taught at the church for 54 years, on Aug. 9 with a letter explaining the church had adopted an interpretation that prohibits women from teaching men.

I-88 flood repairs given top priority
SIDNEY (AP) – The stretch of Interstate 88 washed away by this summer’s flooding should be repaired early this fall as an around-the-clock effort squeezes three years of work into a few months, state transportation officials say.

State names turtle as official reptile
ALBANY – The snapping turtle, striped bass and lilac bush must have had some great lobbyists.

Pataki OKs restrictions on teen access to tanning salons statewide
ALBANY — Restrictions on teen access to tanning salons, property-tax exemptions on maple-syrup producers and approval for beer manufacturers to hand out free samples were some of the new laws Gov. George Pataki recently approved.
Teenagers 18 and under will need parental consent before baking in a tanning bed because of a law that will take effect next February. The law also bans children under the age of 14 from patronizing tanning salons. The penalty is a $250 fine or revocation of a tanning license for the first offense.

Union leader laments poor turnout
ALBANY — The leader of the state’s construction and trades union blasted his brethren for the poor turnout at the recent AFL-CIO political convention and said it may result in preferred candidates like U.S. Rep. John Sweeney being hurt in the elections.

Casino’s status fires AG debate
NORTH GREENBUSH — Charlie King called the Turning Stone Casino in Verona “unlawful,” but two other Democratic candidates for attorney general said Thursday they would follow Eliot Spitzer’s hands-off policy toward the gambling hall.

Spitzer applauds ruling on gas costs
ALBANY — Attorney General Eliot Spitzer on Thursday said a court decision this week vindicated his prosecution of post-Katrina gas gougers and clears the way for future probes of service stations that suddenly raise their prices in the wake of distant calamities.

Stricter rules for sales of fertilizer
ALBANY — A decade after the Oklahoma City bombing, New York sellers of a well-known fertilizer that also can be used to make homemade bombs have been told to tighten security measures and keep track of their customers.
Under regulations in effect but still being finalized by the state Department of Agriculture and Markets, ammonium nitrate vendors must register with the agency and keep records of who buys the product. Purchasers will have to provide identification, such as driver’s licenses, and retailers will have to store the chemical securely.

30,000 lab technicians face license mandate
ALBANY — They test blood for transfusions and make cultures of body tissues and fluids. They handle and analyze the sensitive medical samples used to make life or death decisions.
Soon, the 30,000 lab workers who perform such behind-the-scenes duties will need licenses to work in New York state.

Point, click, bet exacta
ALBANY — In just a few months, New Yorkers will have two new ways to bet on their favorite horses: With their cellphones and on the Internet.
A law allowing such wagers was signed by Gov. George Pataki in late July, and supporters say it should help capture millions of dollars in horse racing bets that now go to other states or private online wagering operations.

NATIONAL

New stem lines created with one cell from embryo
NEW YORK – In an innovative move, a biotech company says it has discovered how to make stem cells without destroying embryos, touting it as a way to defuse one of the country’s fiercest political and ethical debates.

Active duty recall is set
WASHINGTON — Up to 2,500 Marines will be recalled to active duty to fill a critical shortage of volunteers to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Marine Corps said Tuesday, the first time since the invasion of Iraq three years ago that Marine commanders have taken the extraordinary step of drafting back into uniform those who have left the ranks.

Landmark stem cell study disputed
WASHINGTON — A landmark scientific report that was supposed to bridge the gap between proponents and opponents of human embryonic stem cell research has become the focus of an escalating feud, with a prominent critic of the research alleging that scientists were deceptive in presenting their results.

Bush admits ‘strain’ of Iraq but urges U.S. to persevere
WASHINGTON – President Bush said Monday the Iraq War is “straining the psyche of our country” but leaving now would be a disaster.
Bush served notice at a news conference that he would not change course or flinch from debate about the unpopular war as he campaigns for Republicans in the fall congressional elections. In fact, he suggested that national security and the economy should be the top political issues, and he criticized the Democrats’ approach on both

Cold War data made secret again
WASHINGTON – The Bush administration has begun designating as secret some information the government long provided even to its enemy, the former Soviet Union: the numbers of strategic weapons in the U.S. nuclear arsenal during the Cold War.
The Pentagon and Energy Department have treated as national security secrets the historical totals of Minuteman, Titan II and other missiles, blacking out the information on previously public documents, according to a new report by the National Security Archive.
(snip)
Bryan Wilkes, a spokesman for the National Nuclear Security Administration, a part of the Energy Department, said the Pentagon excised the missile numbers. Under a 1998 law, Wilkes’s agency focuses on scrubbing declassified documents for sensitive U.S. nuclear weapons information that, in the wrong hands, could be used to harm Americans, he said

Armitage may have talked to reporter about Plame
WASHINGTON – Then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage met with Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward in mid-June 2003, the same time the reporter has testified an administration official talked to him about CIA employee Valerie Plame.
Armitage’s official State Department calendars, provided to the Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act, show a meeting marked “private appointment” with Woodward on June 13, 2003.

Al-Qaida suspects get one less terror charge
MIAMI (AP) – A federal judge Monday threw out one count in the terror indictment against alleged al-Qaida operative Jose Padilla and his co-defendants, concluding that it repeated other charges in the same indictment.

Marine commander saw no wrongdoing at Haditha
WASHINGTON – The Marine officer who commanded the battalion involved in the Haditha killings last November did not consider the deaths of 24 Iraqis, many of them women and children, unusual and did not initiate an inquiry, according to a sworn statement he gave to military investigators in March.
“I thought it was very sad, very unfortunate, but at the time, I did not suspect any wrongdoing from my Marines,” Lt. Col. Jeffrey R. Chessani, commander of the 3rd Battalion of the 1st Marines, said in the statement.

Judge strikes down ban on video games
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – A state law that would ban sales of violent video games to minors violates free speech rights, a federal judge ruled.

Federal anti-drug ads ineffective, audit says
WASHINGTON (AP) – The government’s anti-drug ad campaign has not deterred children from using drugs, and lawmakers should consider reducing funding for the program, congressional auditors said Friday.

Visa chief charged with bribery
WASHINGTON – A veteran U.S. diplomat was indicted Friday on charges he traded work visas for lavish dinners, New York City hotel rooms, jewelry and Las Vegas trips with exotic dancers.

Millions wasted on Katrina contracting, study says
WASHINGTON – The government awarded 70 percent of its contracts for Hurricane Katrina work without full competition, wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in the process, says a House of Representatives study released Thursday by Democrats.

Morning-after pills get OK despite critics
WASHINGTON – On the morning after, the controversy over nonprescription sales of emergency contraceptive pills hasn’t abated.
By year’s end, women 18 and older who want to use the morning-after pill can buy the two-pill packs from licensed pharmacies without having to visit a doctor. Adult men, too, can buy the pills for their partners.

U.S. faults Iran on N-talks proposal
WASHINGTON – The Bush administration said Wednesday Iran’s proposal for nuclear negotiations falls short of U.N. demands that it cease uranium enrichment, and the United States began plotting unspecified “next moves” with other governments.

Traffic fatalities highest since 1990
WASHINGTON – Traffic deaths last year reached the highest level since 1990, propelled by an increase in motorcycle and pedestrian fatalities. And the overall fatality rate was up for the first time in 20 years.

Rise in Medicare costs a chronic concern
ATLANTA Almost all the massive growth in Medicare spending from 1987 to 2002 can be traced to patients being treated for five or more chronic medical problems ranging from heart disease to obesity and depression, two Emory University researchers report in a new study.

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