JAMESTOWN – Our news team is taking a look back at the top stories of 2019, organized by viewership and interaction.
#10: Court Rejects Annexation Petition, Officials Evaluating Other Legal Options
Rochester’s Supreme Court Fourth Department Appellate Division denied the City of Jamestown’s petition to annex the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities’ Dow Street Substation property in August.
The City of Jamestown and Jamestown Board of Public Utilities in a joint statement said they are disappointed in the decision and will continue to pursue annexation of the substation property.
“The Appellate Division made no finding with respect to the merits of the City’s petition thereby leaving the door open for the City of Jamestown to continue to pursue annexation,” stated lawyers with Bond, Schoeneck and King, PLLC who represent the city and BPU.
BPU officials said the proposed annexation would save the utility approximately $173,000 in property tax payments to the Town, Village and School District annually.
The City and the Jamestown Public School District each would have received tax equivalency payments of around $80,000 a year from the utility, officials said.
“Naturally, we are disappointed by the outcome, but recognize that we can still pursue our initiative to annex the City-owned Dow Street Substation property into the City,” said City Council President Marie Carrubba in a statement to WNYNewsNow. “We pursued this case to assist the BPU Electric Division in keeping rates affordable for all BPU ratepayers, both inside and outside the City, and to enable the City to better manage, control, maintain and protect the Substation. This decision is a temporary setback in that work.”
City and BPU officials said that they are considering and evaluating all available and viable legal options moving forward.
The Substation sits on property in the Town of Ellicott and the Village of Falconer on Dow Street between Tiffany Avenue and south of East Second Street.
Since the court rejected the petition, both the BPU and City of Jamestown have voted to move forward with a second attempt to annex.
#9: Man Indicted In Dyllan Ownbey Murder
A Chautauqua County Grand Jury indicted Tavion L. Turner, 20, for second-degree murder in the stabbing death of Dyllan Ownbey in May.
Turner is being held in the Chautauqua County Jail on $1 Million bail or $2 Million bond.
Ownbey, 22, of Jamestown, was stabbed to death on November 28, 2017, after the Jamestown Police Department said he was involved in an altercation with another person on Willard Street at Peterson Street.
District Attorney Patrick Swanson declined to comment on the indictment early this afternoon.
A release from Jamestown Police the morning after the murder stated that investigators received information that a second person may have been in the area and fled down Peterson Street with the original suspect.
One week after Ownbey’s death, police remained understandably tight-lipped about the investigation.
Police and the Di strict Attorney remained quiet while diligently working the investigation.
“We’ve received a lot of tips, we’re following up on them, and the investigation is ongoing but we will be very tight-lipped about this,” Jamestown Police Chief Harry Snellings told WNYNewsNow at the time.
In an exclusive interview with Ownbey’s parents, they told WNYNewsNow that he as set-up and robbed during the attack. They later moved from the city because they said they were receiving death threats.
#8: Lakewood’s Ruby Tuesday Closes
Lakewood’s Ruby Tuesday restaurant was cited for several “critical violations” by the Chautauqua Health Department just months before its closure in September.
The Chautauqua County Department of Health’s Food Service Inspection list notes several critical violations in late December 2018 where the health inspector reportedly found dirty kitchen conditions, broken equipment and inadequately heated food.
During the routine inspection, officials said they found that the kitchen sink’s cold handle was broken, and employees had to use a tool to turn it on and off. The official also said there was grease spilled on the floor and no disposable towels were available to staff.
The health inspector additionally reported that the cold temperatures on the buffet were incorrect. Following their inspection, a batch of potato salad, pico and coleslaw had to be discarded.
Health officials also found that Parmesan cheese sauce was not headed to the correct temperature.
In September, Ruby Tuesday closed their doors leaving customers only with a note on the door.
“We are sorry for any inconvenience that this may have caused you and look forward to serving you in one of our other restaurants soon,” the sign said.
The sign referred those with questions to visit rubytuesday.com and choose the “Contact Us” option.
WNYNewsNow reached out to the county health department seeking additional information. The report was posted on the county’s website.
A request for comment from Ruby Tuesday’s cooperate office was left un-returned.
#7: Mayville Diner Owner Charged With Arson
The owner of the Mayville Diner has been charged with arson in the case of a fire that destroyed the historic restaurant in December.
The Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office arrested and charged Michael Ellis, 40, with third-degree arson, a class C felony.
Ellis was arraigned under the centralized arraignment program. Deputies say he was released due to the new bail reform laws of New York State.
Ellis will be directed to appear in court at a later date.
Historian Devon Taylor says the historic dining car was built at a factory in Silver Creek before it was shipped to Mayville in the early 1950s. Since then, the building has been renovated several times.
“Mayville has changed a lot since the 1950s,” said Taylor. “The diner has been there, its been an important location where everyone came to meet.”
Taylor says this was not the first fire the location, although, most were minor.
#6: Video Shows Fight That Forced Jamestown High School Into Lockdown
Video obtained by WNYNewsNow shows the fight between students at Jamestown High School that forced the building into a precautionary lockdown in November.
The school’s principal, Dr. Rosemary Bradley, in a statement said ‘no weapons were used’ during the scuffle and the students involved are now facing charges by Jamestown Police.
School officials said they are working with police to review surveillance video to determine what charges will be placed.
Bradley additionally said a small hallway window was broken during the altercation, but no other damage was done to the building, and no one was seriously hurt.
This month, the Jamestown Board of Education accepted the resignation of Dr. Bradley, following public scrutiny surrounding the fight.
Previously, teachers at Jamestown High School “overwhelmingly” voted no confidence in Bradley’s ability to keep students safe following a fight at the school this month.
#5: Shooting Victim’s Wife Speaks Out
The wife of a man shot during a dispute at a Jamestown bar in November is spoke out.
Erica Neubauer, the wife of Tony Neubauer, says the last week has been very difficult for her family, especially her children.
“They didn’t really understand and now that they have seen their dad in the hospital, they are realizing that this is a real thing,” said Neubauer. “It is really stressful on them, to say the least.”
Neubauer says that her spouse is having trouble feeling his legs and feet.
“He is still unable to wiggle his toes,” said Neubauer. “He has some feeling above the knee, but other than that his lower legs are not responding.”
It is still unclear what caused the dispute between Tony Neubauer and an unidentified shooter. Erica Neubauer’s hopes that justice will be served.
“Did what went on that night warrant being shot twice? I don’t think it did,” explained Neubauer.
Neubauer says that as far as she knows, the police have not spoken to her husband yet.
“Yesterday was the first time we were able to speak to him without the ventilator,” said Neubauer. “I did not want to go into details, I just told him that everybody at home was supporting him and he got a little teary-eyed.”
A Facebook group, Justice for Tony, held a protest Friday during the Jamestown Christmas Parade bringing awareness to the case. The group so far has 800 plus members.
Jamestown Police Chief Harry Snellings told WNYNewsNow last week that the shooter is being cooperative with their investigation.
Furthermore, Snellings said police were waiting to hear from the victim before proceeding further with the case.
Tony Neubauer was shot during an incident at the Bullfrog Hotel, Bar & Grill in the early morning hours of Saturday, November 30.
Initially, Tony Neubauer was taken to UPMC Chautauqua Hospital and later transferred to UPMC Hamot in Erie.
Anyone who may have witnessed the shooting is asked to contact the Jamestown Police Department anonymous tip line at 483-8477 (TIPS) or via the Tips 411 mobile app.
#4: Borrello Wins State Senate Race
Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello bested political newcomer Democrat Austin Morgan in the race for New York’s 57th State Senate Seat.
Numbers showed Borrello with 27,376 votes (67.8 percent) to Morgan’s 10,708 (26.5 percent).
The candidate spoke with WNYNewsNow at the conclusion of the night.
“I’m so grateful for the tremendous support across the 57th Senate District and I’m so grateful for Cathy Young, the great leadership that she’s shown, she set a great example for all of us,” said Borrello. “We have new and very dark times in Albany right now, so the challenge is great, but then we’re going to show them what we do here in Chautauqua County, work together collaboratively and cooperatively, and I believe we will make change there, and I’m looking forward to representing the entire 57th Senate District as the next state senator.”
Morgan, when reached by phone, told WNYNewsNow he could not be more proud of the race he ran.
“I sincerely wish George well in the Senate, and I hope for the people’s sake he is successful. Our farmers, our families, and our future depend on it,” said Morgan. “My deepest thanks to those who supported this campaign—we have built the beginning of a movement—we have lit a torch that will one day be passed on to the next generation. Our work together has not been wasted, and has changed so many lives.”
Borrello won in all counties that make up the district. The tallies were as follows: Allegany County, Borello 64.1 percent, Morgan 27.5; Cattaraugus, Borrello 63 percent, Morgan 32.3 percent; Chautauqua County, Borrello 69.9, Morgan 26.3; Livingston, Borrello 62, Morgan 25.3 percent.
He replaced former senator Catharine Young who suddenly stepped down earlier this year.
#3: Sundquist Becomes Jamestown’s Next Mayor, City Council Leans Republican
Democrats remain in control of the City of Jamestown’s Mayoral seat after Lawyer Eddie Sundquist defeated Republican County Legislator David Wilfong and Libertarian City Councilman Andy Liuzzo.
Sundquist defeated Wilfong with over 2,500 votes, with almost 50% of the ballots.
Wilfong had 1,959 votes, 38.7% while Liuzzo garnered 574 votes 11.4%.
Mayor Elect Sundquist told WNYNewsNow he is very thankful for the voters.
“I cannot thank them enough, that the City of Jamestown has put their trust in me as their new mayor,” said Sundquist. “I’m excited for the future that we’re going to have together as we grow our city.”
Leading up to the historic election, longtime Democrat Mayor Sam Teresi retired after 20 years of political service.
Although, Sundqusit will likely work with a slight Republican majority in the city council.
#2: Missing 74-year-old Woman Found Deceased After Nearly Four Day Search
A missing 74-year-old woman who suffered with Alzheimer’s disease was found deceased by searchers in October.
Chautauqua County Sheriff Jim Quattrone confirmed to WNYNewsNow that Diana Chase was found deceased in a wooded area near Hoag Road in the Town of Harmony after a nearly four day search effort.
Deputies said her cause of death appears to be natural and that the Sheriff’s Office extends its condolences to Chase’s family.
Chase was last seen walking on Blockville Watts Flatts Road before she went missing.
Her granddaughter, Megan Chase, thanked the hundreds of volunteers and personnel who assisted in the search.
“My heart is heavy right now, but I’m thankful for all the support it truly means the world to the family,” said Chase in a post on Facebook. “Grandma Chase I miss you more than words can say and I wish I could’ve said goodbye. I know you are with him and looking down on us now. This isn’t a goodbye it’s I’ll see you soon.”
Throughout the search a command center was setup at the Harmony Town Highway Department where hundreds of volunteers have stopped by to help.
Law enforcement used helicopters and search dogs to aid the search.
Deputies were assisted by the NYS DEC Forest Rangers, the New York State Police, Lakewood-Busti Police, Corry Police, Pennsylvania State Police, the New York State Department of Corrections, Chautauqua County EMS, fire coordinators, numerous volunteer fire departments and individual volunteers.
The Sheriff’s Office said they are grateful to all the people and agencies who assisted in this search.
#1: Released Body Camera Footage, Probe Justifies Shooting, Officer Not Charged
**WARNING: The body camera footage may be graphic for some viewers, discretion is advised.**
Chautauqua County District Attorney District Attorney Patrick Swanson said that Nathan Scriven, the Fredonia Police officer who was involved in a December 2018 shooting on Liberty Street, won’t be charged. In addition, Swanson said a person who allegedly sold LSD to Gueorgui “George” Penev, the person killed, is facing charges.
“There is no evidence to support any charges against Officer (Nathan) Scriven,” Swanson said. “His actions were both lawful and appropriate. We are closing this case. In addition, what we uncovered has led us to charging the person who sold LSD to Mr. Penev that day.”
Swanson said that a SUNY Fredonia College Student, Amanda Bridges, 23, is charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance and criminal possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell. Swanson said she was arrested this morning, but he wasn’t sure if she was arraigned prior to the press conference, when asked by WNYNewsNow. According to the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office, Bridges was booked into Chautauqua County Jail Friday morning.
Swanson detailed how Penev was suffering from acute intoxication of cocaine and LSD, and he was exhibiting an altered mental status with agitated, violent and self-injurious behavior. Penev reportedly locked himself inside a bathroom upstairs.
The District Attorney said that the first responders who responded to the original call for a non-emergency wellbeing check were unaware of what Perev was exhibiting and what drugs were in his system.
“Moments after Officer Nathaniel Scriven of the Fredonia Police Department announced his presence, Mr. Penev burst from the bathroom armed with a steak knife (described as nine inches in length with a four and one-half inch serrated blade) attempting to assault Officer Scriven,” Swanson said. “Because of Officer Scriven’s quick reaction and self-control, he was able to escape down a flight of stairs and outside. Mr. Penev chased Officer Scriven out of the residence, across the yard and down the adjacent property’s drive-way before Officer Scriven was left no choice but to fire his duty weapon.”
Officer Scriven then fired two shots at the man who continued towards the officer. The officer fired two more shots which took down Penev.
“The evidence clearly shows that Mr. Penev aggressively pursued Officer Scriven after emerging from the bathroom with the steak knife raised in his right hand in an attack-like position and failed to heed the officer’s repeated commands to drop the knife,” Swanson said. “Mr. Penev left Officer Scriven with no choice but to fire his service weapon in order to stop Mr. Penev from killing or inflicting serious physical injury on him and/or others.”
Chautauqua County’s top prosecutor acknowledged that, “There is no question that the lives of many were forever altered that day.” Swanson said that Penev’s actions that day weren’t “consistent” with his character, by the accounts he received regarding Penev during his investigation.
“Unfortunately, he was operating under the influence of a number of narcotics that exasperated his struggle with the loss of a friend in the Summer of 2018. His struggle highlights so many who struggle with loss and drug use,” Swanson said. “His family and friends will forever mourn his passing.”
Swanson said that his investigation involved “extensive interviews with over twenty witnesses,” as well as the review of various evidence.
“The incident that day highlights the unexpected dangers police officers regularly confront,” said Swanson. “It highlights how a routine call can turn into something far more serious in an instant.”
“My ethical obligations prohibit me from laying charges where there is no probable cause to support them,” Swanson added. “There is no evidence to support any charges against Officer Scriven.”