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Today's Top Stories - Wednesday, January 18th

Mark Blandford Takes the Stand in Clayton Trial:


The third man to be charged in the death of Kelley Clayton took the stand yesterday to testify in the murder trial of Kelley’s husband, Thomas.  Mark Blandford has been offered a deal in exchange for his testimony.  He’ll be allowed to plead guilty to second-degree manslaughter.  He currently faces two counts of second-degree murder, one count of burglary, and one count of conspiracy.  On the stand, Blandford said Michael Beard, the Elmira man who was previously convicted in the case in November, picked him up at his home in Elmira and that they drove to the area of the Clayton residence.  He said Beard stopped, got out of the truck, removed an object from the truck bed and left.  He reportedly returned 15 minutes later, sweating and out of breath.  Blandford said he helped Beard wipe down the truck when they returned to Elmira.  Under cross-examination Blandford said that he has never met or communicated with Thomas Clayton.  Blandford is expected to return to the stand when court resumes today.



Governor Announces 2017-2018 State Budget:


The much-anticipated 2017-2018 New York State budget was revealed Tuesday night by Governor Andrew Cuomo.  The $152 billion proposal would see $25 billion invested in education, with high-need districts seeing $150 million.  $100 million would go to the State’s after-school program.  The budget also calls for the expansion of ride-sharing, investing in clean water, and free-tuition to two-year and four-year state colleges for families making under $125,000.  Middle-class families would also see a tax cut, saving an average of $250.  The plan to pay for these initiatives is a three-year extension of the so-called “Millionaire’s Tax,” for high-earners. 



Steuben Co. to Vote on Park Smoking Ban:


On Monday, the Steuben County legislature will vote on whether or not to ban smoking in certain sections of four county parks.  If passed, smoking would be prohibited on playgrounds, picnic pavilions, and toilet buildings at Kanakadea Park, Birdseye Hollow Park, Harley Mayo Park at Boyd’s Corners, and Hornby Park.  The ban would also include e-cigarettes, according to county Public Works Commissioner Vince Spagnoletti.  Those in violation would be asked to stop, and if they refuse, the Sheriff’s Office would be called and the person(s) would be asked to leave.



Town of Corning to be reassessed:


The Town of Corning will be reassessed this year.  According to Town Supervisor Kim Feehan, it’s been five years since the town conducted a reassessment.  Officials will check property conditions, and collect data, update the town’s property file data as needed, and build assessment models based on sales over the past few years, among other tasks.  They say it’s too early to say what effects the reassessment will have on property values.  The project is expected to take 18-months and should be finished by July 2018.



Walmart to Add 100,000 Jobs in 2017:


A year after saying it would close hundreds of stores and lay off more than 16,000 workers, Walmart is taking a large step in the other direction.  The company has announced that will expand, renovate, or relocate 59 Walmart and Sam’s Club stores, and add 10,000 jobs in the United States in 2017.  Some of the jobs will come from expanding or improving e-commerce services.  

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