Today's Top Stories - Wednesday June 24th, 2020

Law enforcement in Steuben County have united in writing a letter to residents regarding the recent criticism and what they call “rhetoric” surrounding policing as a result of the movement of protestors and activists calling for reform to prevent police brutality. As a response to the protest, the letter calls for police reform across the nation while addressing Governor Cuomo's recent order that demands police departments adopt reform plans by April 1st or lose state funding. County Sheriff Jim Allard says the order is confusing because it is "EXTREMELY VAGUE" and they are awaiting direction for the division of criminal justice services to move forward. The letter also acknowledges a need for improvement in the relations between the minority and police communities.


As of yesterday evening, at 7pm, WENY news reports that in Steuben County the COVID-19 cases has flatlined for total deaths and confirmed cases. Confirmed number of cases in the county are at 281 and the total deaths countywide still stand at 42. County residents currently hospitalized are at 3 and 230 people have recovered from COVID-19.


Though yesterday was Primary Day and Special Election Day across New York results are not expected until perhaps weeks from now. Results are being tabulated under unusual circumstances as every registered voter eligible to participate in yesterday’s elections received an absentee ballot this year per the order of Governor Cuomo. The possibility of mail-in-balloting for the upcoming November general election has been discussed but the decision to do so is currently being debated.

Phase 4 of reopening the New York State economy is anticipated soon for our region but the fourth phase will no longer include shopping malls, gyms or movie theatres. There is no identified timeline or strategy for reopening additional businesses left out of the four-phased process after the fourth phase. Outdoor and lower risk indoor activities will be allowed to reopen which include film production, museums, aquariums and zoos at 25% capacity.


New York State Association of Counties sent a letter to Congressional leaders and the president that called for immediate action on infrastructure investments to be included in future economic stimulus packages. NYSAC President Jack Marren says the letter includes a list of infrastructure projects from 40 counties that total over $7.35 Billion. The letter requests $780,440,987 for Steuben county. This call for federal funding comes as governments deal with the dramatic drops in sales tax revenues county and statewide.


Unemployment numbers were released for the month of May by the State Department of Labor. The state’s overall unemployment rate was 14.2 percent which is a staggering increase of 10.6 percent from May of last year. Employment dropped by 2 percent from last year for Steuben County and the unemployment rate climbed 7.3 percent from 4.0 to 11.3 percent.


The union that represents the public college and university faculty across New York state has called for widespread testing of campus staff and students before beginning the upcoming fall semester. Spectrum News reports the president of United University Professions says mandatory testing capacity needs to be expanded now to safely start the school year. SUNY campuses were of the first institutions that closed in mid-March as the coronavirus pandemic started.


Childcare providers across the state will be receiving $65 million in federal CARES Act funding available through the Child Care Expansion Incentive program through July 15th. Available funding includes $20 million to assist childcare program with reopening and expansion of capacity by providing materials supporting a more socially distant model, and for supplies and activities associated with reopening and expansion. Childcare Reopening and Expansion Incentive funds worth $45 million are available to cover half the cost of a newly opened classroom and incentivize its opening. Childcare programs must have either been closed as of June 15th and have a plan to reopen within two weeks of applying or currently operating below their licensed capacity and would like to expand to be eligible.  Maximum awards for the $20 million in Reopening and Restructuring Incentives range from $300 to $1,600 one-time grants depending on size.


Steuben County Sheriff’s Office reports deputies arrested Mr. Chad T. Speicher, age 29, of Beaver Dams. Deputies were dispatched regarding a report of an assault and it is alleged Speicher assaulted another person. He was charged with Assault in the 3rd Degree and was processed and released to appear at the Town of Erwin Court on a later date.

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