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Officials Make Funding Request

Chautauqua County officials are formally asking state officials to provide the federal funding its received to be released to local municipalities since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday during the county COVID-19 update news conference, County Executive PJ Wendel made the formal request. He did so because during a New York State Association of Counties conference call Thursday evening, a representative of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office told county officials throughout the state that, “We didn’t know (local municipalities) wanted the money.”’

“I would like all of the money that is entitled to Chautauqua County,” Wendel said. “Please Gov. Cuomo, we are asking for the money.”

The state has reportedly received around $12 billion in federal funding since the start of the pandemic. Wendel said he doesn’t know how much of that funding Chautauqua County is entitled to. He said an example of the funding that should have been provided to local municipalities is hundreds of thousands in Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program, also known as CHIPS, funding. He also said local day care providers are entitled to reimbursement funding from the $160 million the federal government provided to the state.

“Get that money to the right people,” Wendel said.

State Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, said he understands the tenuous relationship between state and local governments, but the funding is needed in Chautauqua County.

“The request you just made shouldn’t have been necessary,” he said. “We need that money for child care. Without child care, we won’t be able to get essential workers and everyone else back to work.”

State Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-Jamestown, said Borrello and himself sent a letter to state officials in Albany asking for the release of child care funds.

“That request was made in writing weeks ago,” he said. “Those funds shouldn’t be bottlenecked in Albany.”

County and state officials also discussed the protest occurring around the nation, state and county since the death of George Floyd, a Minneapolis African-American resident who was killed after a white police office knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes on May 25.

Since the death, riots and protest have been occurring throughout the nation, including protests in the city of Jamestown last Sunday.

Wendel said he was glad county residents acted peacefully during the demonstrations.

“I’m proud of our community coming together,” he said.

Sheriff Jim Quattrone was also glad to see the protest were peaceful and a majority of the people wore face coverings. He did say as protest and other gatherings occur, the risk of spreading the virus increases.

Goodell also said he was proud of how county residents responded by being respectful during the protest.

“It didn’t involve the burning or destruction of other people’s property,” he said. “We have the ability to walk that line, to be frustrated and upset, without crossing the line.”

County officials also announced two new COVID-19 cases in the county, a male and a female both in their 20s. There are 22 active cases and 269 people under isolation or quarantine orders. No one is in a Chautauqua County hospital with a diagnosis of COVID-19. A total of 99 county cases have been reported, with 71 people fully recovered and six fatalities. The number of county residents testing negatively totals 4,463.

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