January 9, 2007

Cortland comedian lands spot on TV show

Sam Tripoli is one of three hosts on Spike TV’s ‘The Wild World of Spike’


Photos provided
Sam Tripoli who graduated from Cortland High School in 1991 began his stand-up career in Las Vegas after graduating from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. He later moved to Los Angeles, Calif.

Staff Reporter

At the end of his sixth-grade year at Parker Elementary School, Sam Tripoli was dubbed the funniest kid in the class, an honor he would revisit upon his graduation from Cortland High School in 1991, when he was voted “class clown.”
“I was so funny they got rid of the award for a little bit,” Tripoli said during a phone interview Monday afternoon from Hollywood, Calif.
Tripoli, 34, described the beginnings of a comedy career that had taken him from Cortland to Las Vegas, Los Angeles and many points in between — whether or not the high school had in fact retired that distinction is debatable, as is Tripoli’s contention that he’s the world’s greatest stuntman, he wrestles live tigers, and he’s the Burt Reynolds of 2007.
“That’s the word on the street,” Tripoli said, referring, he confessed, to “the street” as consisting of at least his mother and his manager.
But it’s possible that Tripoli might just end up being one of the world’s greatest comedic stuntmen, now that he’s landed a spot on television show “The Wild World of Spike,” which premiered Friday on SpikeTV and will air Fridays at midnight for the next 13 weeks.
“I’m the funniest guy on SpikeTV,” with the possible exception of the announcers of the Japanese game show spoof “MXC,” Tripoli said. “SpikeTV is perfect for me, because that’s my demographic.”
Also starring world champion skateboarder Jason Ellis and Ultimate Fighting and Mauy Thai champion Kit Cope, the show involves the three men watching and critiquing videos of extreme “sports” before challenging each other to prove their manliness — and/or stupidity — by repeating the stunts.
“I don’t know how an out-of-shape standup comic got on the show, but it’s fun. I’m doing a lot of stuff that I never thought I would do,” Tripoli said.
A couple of Evel Knievel-style mishaps on roller blades (he didn’t lean forward enough while in the air) and steer rustling from a supercharged golf cart (they are apparently very stubborn animals) left Tripoli with some battle wounds, of which the comedian is particularly proud.
His standup career has lasted 12 years since he moved to Las Vegas after graduating CHS to attend the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, eventually earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and began gigging at clubs up and down the Las Vegas Strip.
He started at an open-mic night once a week, and by the time he decided he had “peaked” in Vegas a few years ago, he was in three different improvisational comedy troupes at three different casinos, as well as his own headline show on the Strip.
“I decided it was time to make the run to L.A., so I went for it,” Tripoli said. “A year into being in L.A., I was blessed to be picked up by all three of the major comedy clubs out here.”
Tripoli has performed at the famous and star-studded Comedy Store nearly every night for the past six years, and has his name on the wall next to such entertainment icons as David Letterman, Redd Foxx and Richard Pryor.
Her recently released a CD called “Crimefighter,” taped during a live performance at the La Jolla Comedy Store. It is available through
Tripoli said he felt blessed “to be so well respected,” within the comedy community.
Appearing on Comedy Central’s “Premium Blend,” he said he received one of only two standing ovations in the show’s history, and while on the “Late, Late Show” with Craig Kilborne, Tripoli said he was able to elicit a chuckle from the host, which the booking agent told him was _a rarity.
His mother, Rebecca Badorian, of Cortland, said some of her son’s grade-school teachers might not be too shocked by Tripoli’s choice of careers, but might be by his comedy routines.
“If you know me, I’m quiet. He’ll always say, ‘My mother didn’t teach me to talk like this,’” Badorian said, with a laugh, acknowledging her younger co-workers tell her that Tripoli’s edgy, racially charged and often raunchy performances are normal in today’s comedy world.
The comedian’s father, Sam Tripoli, of Bonneville County, Idaho, is also very proud of his son, although he was a bit taken aback by the content of some of the commercials during his son’s premier on SpikeTV, which often advertises mail order, near-pornographic DVDs late at night.
“He went down there and things were very difficult, and he hung in there and hung in there,” the elder Tripoli said. “He was funny, he always had a sense of humor, I thought … I just wanted him to have an education, and once he got that, I said, ‘Do what you want to do.’ Sammy always hung in there, and I’m very proud of him.”
The younger Tripoli said he has been writing and pitching television shows, and is still holding out for that $20 million movie.
“I just stuck with it, man, whether it went high or low. That’s all you can do, is when your shot comes, you have to be ready to take it,” Tripoli said.


Not waiting on Buckbee-Mears owners —

EPA preparing to remove chemicals

Staff Reporter

With the owners of the idle Buckbee-Mears plant on Kellogg Road slow to act on thousands of gallons of hazardous chemicals being stored on the site, the federal Environmental Protection Agency is finally prepared to enter and clean up the site on its own.
“We’re still trying to get access to the site, and we need the company to give us permission for that,” said EPA spokesman Ben Barry. “We’re hoping that will come very soon, within the next couple of months.”
International Electron Devices, the India-based company that owns the facility, had agreed to provide security at the facility and begin handling the disposal of the chemicals in November, but since then IED has removed the security it posted and no removal has taken place, said Barry, who couldn’t say exactly when security was pulled, but guessed it was some time in early December.
At this point, the EPA was likely to handle the cleanup and disposal of the chemicals, which include large tanks containing thousands of gallons of hazardous chemicals such as 5,456 gallons of sodium hydroxide, 5,390 gallons of nitric acid and 4,857 gallons of sulfuric acid, rather than allowing IED to handle it, Barry said.
“As soon as we get access, it’s our intention to go in, do what needs to be done to immediately secure the site,” Barry said. “At that point there’s a good possibility we’ll do the work, but we need to go through this process first.”
Barry said the EPA had some latitude to enter the site without permission, but that would be a last resort.
For now, he said, EPA lawyers are working with lawyers for IED to authorize permission.
“If there was an emergency or an imminent threat, we could go in immediately, but right now we’re trying to go through the proper channels,” Barry said. “We definitely want to see the site stabilized, so we do want to get on site as soon as possible.”
Cortland Mayor Tom Gallagher said he trusted the EPA to oversee the cleanup.
“Our biggest concern is if it gets into the wastewater treatment facility, but from what I saw it was pretty well contained,” Gallagher said. “The idea that there’s no security there, though, that bothers me.”
There have been not leaks from the barrels reported at the site, authorities have said.
The chemicals, left behind by IED when the facility closed in June 2005, were brought to the attention of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, and subsequently to the EPA, in July 2006. City police found the barrels at the building while investigating a possible burglary.
Initially the DEC issued a 10-day ultimatum to the owners of the building, and when it received no response, it passed the matter on to the EPA.
The city had also asked, when the facility closed, for a detailed cleanup and removal plan, but received no response from IED.
The company has been elusive, both for city officials, who are owed more than $200,000 in back taxes, and for county officials, who are hoping to market the site to other businesses.
Linda Hartsock, executive director of the Cortland County Business Development Corp./Industrial Development Agency, has been trying to convince IED to allow the county to market the property, but has had no luck.
Since July, Hartsock said she sent IED 10 possible buyers for the property from New York state, but hasn’t received a response.
Hartsock said her most recent contact with IED was an e-mail she sent to the company last week, saying the city was in the process of enacting a way to seize delinquent properties, but that she received no response.


SPCA works to adopt remaining 45 cats

Staff Reporter

Only 45 of the more than 250 cats taken from a Wheeler Avenue property in September remain at the former Cortlandville Fire Station on Route 281.
The Cortland County SPCA has been caring for the animals.
SPCA Shelter Director Eden Avery said six of the animals had been transferred to the organization’s regular shelter on McLean Road for adoption.
At the January meeting of the SPCA board of directors on Monday night, members discussed compiling a handbook that would help guide the organization itself and other agencies in any future seizures of this size.
Board President Suzanne Etherington commended the efforts of SPCA employees and the volunteers.
“I don’t think any shelter of our size has performed a seizure of this size so successfully,” Etherington said.
Many of the cats were infected with feline leukemia and the feline immunodeficiency virus. During nearly five months since the animals were seized, a number of them have died of natural causes or had to be euthanized for quality of life issues.
SPCA Executive Director Kathy Gilleran said she and a fellow employee will soon be making a trip to Pennsylvania to scout out a shelter for four of the remaining 16 terminally ill cats. She declined to release the name of the shelter.
“It’s a hospice for critically ill cats,” Gilleran said in the office of the SPCA’s regular shelter Monday afternoon. “It sounds like a nice place, and they won’t have to live in cages.”
Gilleran said there would be no “mass euthanasia” at any point.
Gilleran said she has contacted the Dauphin County Humane Society and received a confirmation that the facility is well run and well respected.
Although the close confines of the former fire station had allowed for the spread of respiratory infections and other brief illnesses, Avery said only six of the non-infected animals are receiving medication, and the decrease demand for medical attention has allowed the SPCA to return to regular staffing levels.
Nevertheless, Avery said dedicated volunteers are still caring for the cats at the fire station, albeit it on a more limited basis. The shelter is closed to the public except for those individuals who have received an approved adoption application.
SPCA Animal Cruelty Investigator Bill Carr credits the many volunteers with socializing and nursing the cats into an adoptable state.
Nearly 280 cats were found by police, fire department, and humane organization personnel Sept. 1 in the 7 Wheeler Ave. home where Eugenia Cute, 54, a board member of Purr Fect World, had been living. The house and the adjacent former veterinarian office had been intended as a spay and neuter clinic for feral cats, before the situation seemingly got out of control, authorities said.
Cute and Lisa Alderman, 45, of 503 Third St., Liverpool, were charged as officers of the organization. Alderman, president of Purr Fect World, was also charged with 180 misdemeanor counts of improper confinement of animals after the Central New York SPCA took 180 cats from one of two houses she owns in Liverpool on Oct. 5. Those charges are not related to Purr Fect World.
An ongoing legal battle between the city and Purr Fect World Inc., the organization charged with 49 misdemeanor counts of failure to provide food and drink to an impounded animal, kept the cats in limbo for nearly two months.
On Oct. 26, Purr Fect World allowed the animals to be adopted out while retaining legal ownership and admitting no wrongdoing.
Purr Fect World supplied a bond for $32,000 that is being held in an interest-bearing escrow account until the criminal case is resolved. Another $14,000 was given over by Purr Fect World to the SPCA for the ongoing care of the animals.
Avery said on Monday that an additional $15,000 had been given over to the SPCA at the very end of last year.
That money is accessible by the SPCA until the last cat has left its custody, and the civil case is due to be reviewed further on Jan. 18 at 9:30 a.m. in City Court.
The city spent more than $70,000 caring for the cats before the agreement was reached, and city officials have said they expect to reclaim the full amount that has been expended.
In the matter of the criminal charges against Purr Fect World, a scheduled appearance and oral arguments are scheduled for Jan. 23 at 1 p.m. in City Court.



Suspects charged in Dryden robberies

Money, drugs stolen from Lake St. apartment. Three pitbull puppies taken from Dryden home.

Staff Reporter

DRYDEN — Village police charged three local people with a robbery and burglary at a village apartment that occurred around 8 p.m. Saturday, and one of them was also charged with a burglary the same day at a home in the town.
Police learned the three broke into a Lake Street apartment in the village, robbed the person at gun and knifepoint and took several items, including money and drugs.
Charged with first-degree burglary and first-degree robbery were Thaddeus A. McClain, 19, of Lake St.; Julie A. Rose, 21, of Anchor Drive; and Wallace R. Tiffany, 29, of Anchor Drive.
Tompkins County Sheriff’s Department personnel assisted at the crime scene.
While investigating the incident, officers received a second burglary complaint at a Harbor Circle home in the town of Dryden that had occurred earlier in the day.
State Police began investigating the Harbor Circle incident, and discovered someone had entered the residence, taking three pitbull puppies.
Members of the Dryden Police Department and the State Police linked the two incidents to the suspects in the home invasion, police said. Information led police to a mobile home on Anchor Drive, in Hanshaw Village trailer park in Dryden, where they found the three suspects.
While police watched the mobile home, one suspect was seen trying to leave through the woods to discard the puppies. All suspects were later taken into custody at the residence or while trying to leave it. At that time, officers executed a search warrant and recovered some items taken during the Lake Street burglary.
Arrested for the Harbor Circle burglary were McClain for second-degree burglary, a felony, and Angela E. Holliday, 17, of Lake Street, for fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, a felony, and cruelty to animals, a misdemeanor under the state Agriculture & Markets Law.
All suspects were arraigned before Town of Dryden Justice Christopher Clauson. McClain, Rose and Tiffany were sent to the Tompkins County Jail in lieu of $25,000 cash or $50,000 bond. Holliday was remanded to the Tompkins County Jail in lieu of $5,000 cash or $10,000 bond.
Holliday appeared in court Monday and was released on probation. McClain, Rose and Tiffany are due in court for a preliminary hearing on Friday.


Boy expected to survive, still in critical condition

Staff Reporter

DRYDEN — The 3-year-old boy a Dryden man is accused of beating and sexually abusing remains in critical condition at University Hospital, but he is expected to “pull through,” Tompkins County District Attorney Gwen Wilkinson said Monday afternoon.
Wilkinson, who contacts the boy’s physician at the hospital daily, said the boy does still face surgeries this week and complicated care.
Jacob J. Carter, 23, of 7 Anchor Drive, was charged with first-degree assault and first-degree sexual abuse, both felonies, for sodomizing and stomping on the boy he was babysitting Dec. 31. He allegedly stomped on the boy’s stomach numerous times causing a lacerated spleen, a disconnected intestine and bruises on much of the boy’s body.
Carter was also arraigned Friday on charges of raping, sexually abusing and having sexual contact with a 1 1/2-year-old girl. She was not hospitalized. Wilkinson said her abuse occurred over a longer period of time — around six months.
He has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges in Dryden Town Court.
Wilkinson said she expects to present the case before the grand jury by the end of the month, based on progress in the investigation.
She said no charges have been filed against Carter’s girlfriend, who was babysitting the two children with Carter on Dec. 31, according to Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office officials. Wilkinson would not elaborate.