January 02, 2008


New Year’s rung in with fireworks, kissing, dancing

New Years

Wayne Hansen/contributing photographer
Kiara Lieber of Cortland joins the surrounding crowd in cheers as 2008 arrives during Cortland’s annual First Night celebration on Monday.

Contributing Writer

CORTLAND — Downtown boomed Monday night with the sounds of people celebrating the New Year, continuing the annual tradition of dropping the ball on Main Street.
The party on Main Street had a DJ and extended hours at local bars, some open as late as 6 a.m.
The crowd outside grew larger as midnight approached, and noisemakers ran up and down the street even before the ball dropped.
Justin Adamczak of Cortland, a fourth-grader at Barry Elementary School in Cortland, stood on the sidewalk with his family and some friends awaiting the big moment, and he said he was excited.
His mother, Bonnie, said they were all enjoying themselves.
“We wanted to see the celebration for the first time,” she said.
“We might be back next year, but not so early,” she added, noting the cold weather.
Adamczak’s friends Max and Gus O’Connell were also excited for the New Year, saying they had big plans.
“I have plans to go to New York City to go to the really big Toys ‘R’ Us,” Max said.
“I want to go to the beach and surf and play hockey with my brother,” Gus said.
The boys were interrupted by the announcement that it was two minutes until the New Year.
When the ball of lights suspended from the Cortland Standard building started to drop, the crowd counted down in unison and exploded into cheers at the final second.
Couples shared their first kiss of the year, fireworks lit up the sky and “Auld Lang Syne” blared from the DJ booth speakers.
As the commotion began to lessen, the first chord of Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” ignited another chain of screams followed by many people in the crowd shouting the words in unison, some even dancing in circles in the street.
The mob began to disperse from the street, some going into the bars, others going home.
Lt. Jon Gesin, head of the Cortland City Police Department’s Uniform Division, said about 5,000 people attended the event, the most since First Night was first held in 2000 to mark the millennium and the city’s centennial.
Gesin said there were 25 arrests for minor violations, including public drinking, disorderly conduct and littering.
After the ball drop Tracie Braren, 32, of Cortland, and Eric Draven, 30, of Sydney, stood outside Beer Goggles Bar on Main Street, enjoying the evening.
Braren, who usually travels for New Year’s Eve said she stayed in town for a change of pace.
“It’s easier to stay in town,” she said.
Braren said she was looking forward to a fresh start in the New Year, including going back to college after 12 years.
Draven said he, too, was looking forward to some changes.
“I want to try to regroup myself and figure my life out,” he said as he walked into the bar.
As it got later, the earlier boom turned into light bustle, with people leaving behind broken glass, party hats and glitter in the street as a reminder of the night.




Couple can’t wait to cuddle with first baby of the year

Living and Leisure Editor

CORTLAND — Jessica and Jason Van Patten have their sights on home — being at home with their new baby boy they have not had a chance to cuddle yet: Christian Drew Van Patten, the first baby born in the new year at the Cortland Regional Medical Center.
The Cortland couple’s baby weighed in at 6 1/2 pounds at 3:21 a.m. on Jan. 1, but because of complications, was transferred to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse.
Both mom and the baby are doing well.
“I’m doing good, although, I wish he was here,” said Jessica Van Patten, 27, a personal care aide at the Elizabeth Brewster House. “I’m just a little sore, that’s all.”
She and her husband agreed to an interview on New Year’s Day from her room at the Cortland hospital.
“It’s interesting,” Jessica Van Patten said of having the first baby of the year.
“I thought there was no chance it was going to be us, but it was in the back of my mind,” said Jason Van Patten, 25, a technician aide in the Radiology Department at Cortland Regional Medical Center.
“I was due Jan. 19,” Jessica Van Patten said.
The baby was delivered in the breech position, said her husband. “They were going to do an emergency C-section but the baby was ready to come out,” he said.
Anna Marie Garcia and Cherilyn White, Jessica’s doctors, delivered little Christian.
“He’s progressing well,” said dad, who visited him up at St. Joseph’s. “He’s tiny. He’s smiling. His eyes are open a little bit. I kind of held his hand,” he said. The baby was nestled in a little incubator. “He has hair, it’s light colored.”
Tammy Small, a registered nurse on the maternity ward, explained the complication in layman’s terms.
“When babies get stressed out, they poop and if that is in the fluid and if the baby swallows it, they can get respiratory problems.”
She said as a precautionary measure, the Van Patten child was sent up to St. Joseph’s Hospital, where he could be monitored more closely with its advanced neonatal unit.
“The baby is doing well,” she reported. He was breathing on his own and doctors there were giving a good prognosis.
Jessica thought she would be discharged today and the couple would head on up to the hospital and await further instructions.
“We’re pretty excited,” Jason said. “This is our first child.”



Legislators pledge cooperation in new year

Staff Reporter

For their New Year’s resolutions, county legislators are hoping for cooperation — cooperation among and within local governments.
Legislature newcomer Kathie Wilcox (R-5th Ward) would like to see an end to partisanship and increased cooperation between the city and the county.
The legislators made the comments at a swearing-in ceremony Tuesday at the County Office building. Supreme Court Judge Phillip Rumsey swore in elected county and city officials.
“There aren’t many proceedings I do when everybody walks away smiling,” Rumsey said Tuesday after he had sworn in county legislators and other officials and city Common Council members.
In addition to the elected officials, at least 50 family and friends crowded into the Legislative chambers in the County Office Building.
Rumsey noted that three branches of government were represented in the room, between the various legislators, the mayor and the sheriff (representing the executive branch) and his role in the judiciary.
First to take the oath was second-term County Clerk Elizabeth Larkin, who pledged to uphold state and federal constitutions and to faithfully carry out the duties of her office.
She held up her hand and repeated after Rumsey before signing the ledger.
Larkin took up her spot next to the large book as Sheriff Lee Price moved into position to take his oath.
Price was wearing his black formal uniform, not a common sight, and Legislator Don Spaulding (D-6th Ward) let out a “Lookin’ good, Lee,” as the Sheriff passed his seat.
Price took the oath while surrounded by his wife, Legislator Sandy Price (D-Harford and Virgil), and other family members.
County Treasurer Pat O’Mara and County Coroners Whitney Meeker and Kevin Sharp next took their oaths.
Rumsey then explained that county legislators would be sworn in as a group, and although they could stay in their accustomed places behind the desks they will use at Thursday night’s organizational meeting, their family and friends were welcome to join them at their seats.
Mayor Tom Gallagher sounded a bit froggy as he recited his oath, but it was not from shouting out the countdown to the new year for the city’s First Night celebration Monday night — he said afterward that it was just a cold.
The Common Council members also took their oaths as a group, and Rumsey pointed out that although he had asked if anyone was interested in making any remarks after the oath had been administered, the politicians declined.
“We’ve been blessed with leaders who’ve been responsible and responsive to their citizens,” Rumsey reflected, and said he hoped the new batch would do the same.




More county records online

Staff Reporter

As of Monday, every civil document submitted to the Cortland County Clerk’s office will be scanned and entered into a new computer system.
The appearance of the clerk’s Web site took a new look Monday, as well.
Since July 2005, only liens, deeds, mortgages and judgments in civil cases going back to 1985 have been available online, said County Clerk Betsy Larkin.
“Now you will be able to see all the documents leading up to those judgments,” Larkin said Thursday in her office, which has a stack of new computer components just waiting to be put to use for public access of records.
Those computers were installed Monday; although clients were still able to view files while they were being set up, Larkin said no documents were filed that day.
Only the indexes of submissions in criminal cases will be available online for the moment.
Larkin said the clerk’s office still needs to finish working on a grant to scan and store deeds going back to 1808.
A $72,300 grant from the state received at the end of the summer has allowed the clerk’s office to hire InfoQuick Solutions of Syracuse to scan the documents and digitize them. That work will have to be completed by June, when the grant expires.
All documents dating back to before 1985 were previously only stored on 408 rolls of microfilm.
Larkin said once the deeds have been finished, the office would begin digitizing mortgages going back 50 years, but the remainder would continue to be stored on microfilm.
InfoQuick has designed the new system, which the clerks themselves will begin using to input the new information starting today.
Document submission fees will pay to run the system. A $10 cover page is required for every document submitted to the clerk’s office. So far this year, Larkin said that these cover pages have brought in $72,470 for the 7,247 documents filed The new computer system is expected to cost the county $60,000 annually, leaving a profit.
The general public can access the clerk’s records online for free, using the word “public” for both a username and password for the clerk’s Web site, at