Today's Top Stories - July 21st, 2021

Bath Man Arrested for Criminal Contempt
State Police this week arrested 44-year-old William Furlong of Bath. He was charged with criminal contempt for allegedly violating an order of protection. He’ll appear in court a a later date. 


NY DOL Report Steuben Unemployment Rate at 5.3% for May-June
The New York State Department of Labor has released preliminary local area unemployment rates for June. To recap last week’s statewide press release, New York State’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased from 7.8% in May to 7.7% in June 2021. In Allegany and Steuben counties, the unemployment rate stood at 5.3%. 


PUL Finds New Yorkers Currently $1.5 billion Collectively in Utilities
A new Public Utility Law analysis project found the number of households in New York with owed electric and gas bills increased by over 30% over the last year. Last year, there were 948,177 accounts totaling $745 million but there are currently 1.2 million households that collectively owe in excess of $1.5 billion. Activists say the problem was caused when the public health emergency ended in New York and the moratorium on utility shutoffs ended, causing  thousands of households and businesses across the state to be at risk of having their utilities shut off due to owed payments. After December 21st, a total of 1.5 million households are in danger of being shut-off.


Grassroots Microburst Results in General Admission &  Refunds 
During last weekend’s Grassroots Summer Festival weekend live series, a microburst hit the Trumansburg Fairgrounds and damaged the Infield stage, which will not be repaired in time for this weekend. Instead, the 24 local bands like Donna and the Buffalo will perform on the Grandstand stage.  Yesterday, organizers announced the show will be general admission and people that bought PODS, some for as much as $399 for the weekend, will get a refund. Grassroots organizers sold PODS-or personal outdoor dances spaces, good for up to four people. Organizers this year planned to spread people out at the Trumansburg Fairgrounds for a series of live concerts each weekend this month.


NY’s COVID Positivity Rate Jumps
The COVID numbers in New York have become even more concerning. In the latest state report, the positivity rate has jumped to 1.67% with 46 more people admitted to the hospital with virus-related symptoms. Admissions to the ICU also spiked. Two additional deaths were also reported. The Southern Tier Region is holding steady at 0.69%. Western New York and the Finger Lakes Regions have been steadily climbing. 


NYIRC Seeks Testimony for Public Redistricting Hearings
Residents in the Southern Tier and Central New York will have the chance to sound off as New York evaluates how congressional districts will be shaped. The New York State Independent Redistricting Commission will hold a virtual public hearing on August 9 at 2 p.m. as the future of several local congressional districts remain up in the air amid New York’s decline in population. Participants will have up to three minutes of speaking time and are encouraged to submit written testimony. All hearings will be recorded for public record, as well as live-streamed. These virtual public hearings with communities throughout the State will occur before the Census data is released next month. To submit your questions for the hearing, visit the New York State Independent Redistricting Commission website https://nyirc.gov/meetings.


Cuomo Says 4 Vaccination Sites Will Shut Down
Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that four mass vaccination sites will cease operations as part of the ongoing downscaling that will allow the State to focus on localized vaccination efforts. As part of the downscaling which followed the achievement of milestones that allowed the State to lift COVID-19 restrictions, the sites at Binghamton University and others will cease operations following vaccinations on Monday.


At Least One Person Dead After Lackawanna Explosion
At least one person is dead as police continue to investigate an explosion that occurred Tuesday morning in a residential area in the WNY community of Lackawanna. According to fire officials, a total of seven homes were damaged, but it’s not yet clear what caused the explosion.

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