January 08, 2008


CRMC parking lot expansion begins with housing demolition


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
All that remains of this Homer Avenue house is its front steps as Junior Contento, of Contento’s demolition service, begins the teardown of several houses for a new Cortland Regional Medical Center parking lot.

Staff Reporter

CORTLAND — Demolition of six vacant houses on Homer Avenue has begun to make way for the expansion of a Cortland Regional Medical Center parking lot in the spring.
CRMC Director of Marketing Tom Quinn said that, weather permitting, the demolition on the five properties between 114 and 126 Homer Ave. would be completed by the end of the month. The demolition permit was issued Friday by the city.
Once the ground is prepared, a parking lot will take the place of the houses on the five properties.
The properties came off the tax rolls when they were purchased by the hospital in recent years. The five properties have a total assessed valued of approximately $365,000.
The hospital is trying to finalize the purchase of the former Kleen Korner dry cleaner and laundry at 112 Homer Ave. Quinn said the plan is for the site to be used for a medical office building, a portion of which would be subject to property taxes.
The size and number of spaces in the parking lot was unavailable this morning, but the lot is expected to alleviate a parking shortage the hospital faces and play a role in larger plans to expand the hospital.
Quinn said the hospital submitted a certificate of need in December to the state Department of Health in Albany for the expansion, which will be a new wing to increase the surgical and maternity care units. The new wing will be at the northwest corner of Homer Avenue and West Main Street, an area now used for parking.
The project would cost approximately $25 million and take about 30 months.
“We need the approval from the Department of Health,” Quinn said. “Typically, it takes six to eight months for them to finalize or sign off on the certificate. Once that happens, we will work with architectural firms to draw up the plans.”
Quinn said the hospital hopes to break ground on the expansion project in March 2009.




Judge seals file in Manos case

Staff Reporter

ITHACA — A Tompkins County judge sealed the case file of a Dryden woman accused of drowning her 2-year-old niece during a closed-door court proceeding Monday.
A secretary in Tompkins County District Attorney Gwen Wilkinson’s office told the Cortland Standard this morning that Wilkinson could not talk to the media because of a “gag order” issued by Tompkins County Judge John Sherman.
Sherman sealed the file of Marie Manos, 34, of 758 Ringwood Road, Apt. 2.
Manos was indicted in June on three counts of second-degree murder, two counts of aggravated sexual abuse, felonies, and one count of endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor, in connection with the death of her niece Grace Manos in May.
Manos’ attorney, William Sellers IV, also declined comment this morning on the court proceeding.
“I can not talk to you about that,” he said. “No comment.”
The Tompkins County Court Clerk confirmed the proceeding did occur and that Manos’ files are sealed.
Questions as to why the file was sealed were posed to Sherman; however, who did not immediately respond this morning.
Manos, who is scheduled to go to trial Jan. 28, is accused of sexually abusing and drowning her niece in a bathtub while babysitting on the evening of May 15.
Police said Manos initially claimed she had left Grace unattended briefly while the girl was taking a bath, and that when she returned, she found Grace submerged in the bath water.
But police believe Manos “intentionally held the victim s face in a partially filled bathtub,” causing the toddler to suffer “swelling of the brain and respiratory failure,” according to a felony complaint.
Officials also found evidence of sexual abuse on the toddler’s body.
Manos would face between 15 years to life in prison if convicted of murder.



Homer man was always there to lend a hand

Max LeFever, 88, remembered as a friend to community.

Staff Reporter

HOMER — Even family members called Max LeFever a best friend — a son’s best friend and best man, a favorite uncle, a great guy.
LeFever’s friends and family remembered him Monday during and after his funeral service that celebrated his 88 years of life.
He died Thursday.
“He was my best friend without a doubt,” said his son, Brad LeFever. He said they hunted, golfed, bowled and were members of the Homer Fire Department together. “We were really close — close enough that he was my best man when I got married.”
His widow, Shirley Stoker LeFever, said her husband was the favorite uncle to his nieces and nephews. He was also a favorite around the village. “In the village they call him Mr. Max,” she said. She added that children also knew him by this name.
“When neighbors were sick, if lawns weren’t moved, he would mow them,” his widow said.
He always willing to help, his children said.
His daughter, Karen Prince, said he helped finish her family room and taught her husband “Smiley” Prince how to do electrical work. Her husband and LeFever were golfing buddies in a league for 25 years.
LeFever’s friendship extended to the community and the people in it.
Don Barber, owner of Donald L. Barber Funeral Home, said he had known LeFever since childhood. “What a wonderful, wonderful friend he was,” said Barber at the Homer United Methodist Church funeral service, noting they were of different generations but still formed a unique bond.
Barber said he joined the same fire company, Hose No. 3, as LeFever. He sought the older man’s advise on seeking the position of captain. LeFever spoke up, saying, “I’ll vote for you.”
LeFever was a 60-year member of the Homer Fire Department.
“Max was a man of integrity. He was an honest man, a Christian man,” Barber said.
The Rev. Allan Ferguson, pastor of the church, said he would treasure all the moments he spent with LeFever. “Max was 79 when I first met him. Going into burning buildings was in the past for him.”




Attorneys in court over Eaton estate

Judge will rule which of 2 wills is valid, determining who will hold Homeville collection

Staff Reporter

CORTLAND — Attorneys presented arguments Monday in Surrogates Court over which of two wills is valid in a family feud over a father’s estate that includes a $160,000 antique military collection.
The decision will determine who owns the collection amassed by Ken Eaton that is expected to be displayed at a planned Cortlandville museum.
Eaton’s three stepchildren are fighting his two natural children for half of his estate, whose total value is estimated at $284,037, according to court records.
“The Homeville Museum (Eaton’s collection) began when he was 10-years-old and grew into an obsession,” said Charles Eaton, Ken Eaton’s natural son. “That was his life and that’s what he did.”
Eaton, who died in February 2006 at the age of 80, spent more than 35 years assembling the collection of more than 10,000 items.
The stepchildren claim that half of the estate belongs to them according to a joint will signed by their mother, Nancy Eaton, and Ken Eaton on July 7, 2000.
Eaton married his second wife, Nancy, in 1974, Charles Eaton said Monday in Court.
The joint will, which was determined to be a legal contract by Judge William Ames in August, states that when either Nancy Eaton or Ken Eaton died, all assets would go to the survivor. The joint will also states that neither of the two was to create another will after the death of the other. Eaton wrote a second will in 2002 after Nancy died that left his estate to his two natural children.
Attorney John Moss Hinchcliff, who is representing Eaton’s natural children, Charles Eaton and Diana McGee, argued that the joint will is invalid because once Nancy Eaton died in 2001, an IRA account was given to her stepchildren instead of to Ken Eaton.
Nancy Wheelock, a customer service clerk at the SUNY Cortland Auxiliary Services Corp., testified that when she worked at the Homer Key Bank, Nancy Eaton set up the IRA on April 7, 1999, declaring her three children as the beneficiaries.



State gives timeline for HAVA compliance

September 2009 primary set as first election to fully abide by Help America Vote Act

Staff Reporter

The state has drawn up a plan to be in full compliance with the federal Help America Vote Act, passed in 2002, by the primary election in September 2009.
There is still plenty of work to be done between then and now, but the counties in the state — including Cortland — will at least be in partial compliance for the primary in September of this year.
On Friday, the state Board of Elections submitted a plan to the federal judge handling the federal government’s lawsuit against the state, outlining New York’s plan to be in full compliance by fall 2009.
The U.S. Justice Department had sued New York in March 2006 for failure to comply with HAVA — New York is the only state that has not done so.
As of Monday afternoon, the state had yet to hear back from U.S. District Court Judge Gary Sharpe, a former Homer resident, about whether he would accept the plan.
The first step, said state Board of Elections spokesman Lee Daghlian, is that the individual counties will have at least one handicap-accessible ballot marking device at each polling place by this September.
“We call them ballot marking devices because they’re not full-fledged voting machines, because they don’t record votes,” Daghlian said Monday afternoon.
The state is now working to certify the ballot marking devices, or BMDs, for use by the counties.
“A vendor has to deliver us one and make application for certification,” Daghlian said. “As soon as we get completed applications, we will post those on our Web site.”
It takes about two weeks to go through the certification process for each make and model of machine, and Daghlian said he hopes the state would have the certifications for the BMDs ready sometime in February.
He said he believes there are four BMDs in the certification process — one of which allows for upgrades that turn it into an optical scanning voting machine.
There are two options that the state has embraced for the set up of the full-fledged voting machines that will record votes— touch screen and optical scan.
In the case of the former, a computer screen with touch-sensitive buttons on the screens would act as the ballot, while in the case of the latter, an optical scanning machine would read the pencil marks on a paper ballot that a voter filled out by hand and fed into the machine.
Cortland County owns one handicap accessible BMD, said Democratic Election Commissioner Bill Wood, meaning the county would have to purchase another 41 machines to allow for one at each polling place in the county.