February 07, 2008


Minor flooding causes scattered issues


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
State Department of Transportation workers run a hose Wednesday from Tropical Wheels on Route 281 to a storm drain next door to empty its lot of water.

Staff Reporter

CORTLAND — Rainfall over the past two days caused spot flooding but was not enough to push the Tioughnioga River dangerously close to coming over its banks, as was originally predicted.
The National Weather Service in Binghamton had predicted the river would rise to just below 10 feet early this morning — flood stage is considered 8 feet but 10 feet is where the real problems tend to begin.
Brenda DeRusso, the deputy director of Cortland County Fire and Emergency Management, said the river had already crested at about 8.54 feet this morning.
However, the National Weather Service extended its flood warning into Friday morning.
As much as an inch of snow could fall throughout the day, with highs near 29 degrees.
A third of an inch of precipitation fell between 9 a.m. Wednesday and that same time this morning, with mixed rain, sleet and snow falling throughout the county overnight.
Water has been reported in basements countywide, DeRusso said, with seemingly no pattern or cluster of reports.
She praised the county Highway Department and city Department of Public Works for working to ensure storm sewers and culverts were clear to allow the water to flow. And a warning from the National Weather Service two days ahead of when the flooding was predicted likely helped as well.
“I really do think that’s the key to a successful event — getting as much lead time as we possibly can,” DeRusso said.
The drop in temperatures also slowed down any potential flooding, she added.
The city saw some flooding near Beaudry Park along Denti Way, when water coming down from the surrounding hills flooded the parking lot of the Cornerstone Church before flowing down Denti Way and entering Perplexity Creek at the bottom.
City Department of Public Works Superintendent Chris Bistocchi said the frozen ground prevented the water from quickly subsiding but no basements along the water’s path were reported flooded.
There was also some backed up water at the corner of Wheeler Avenue and Route 281 while the rain continued to fall in the morning but Bistocchi said the culvert underneath the state road drained the area once the rain let up.
The DPW kept an eye on Perplexity Creek — which came close to flooding as it crossed under Pendleton Street but never jumped its banks — and Otter Creek throughout the day Wednesday, Bistocchi said.
He was skeptical of the chances of the river getting too much higher given the cold temperatures that came later Wednesday.
“Historically, whenever we get flooding and it gets cold and turns to snow, the water goes right down,” Bistocchi said.
At the corner of routes 281 and 222, a portion of the Tropical Wheels used care sales parking lot saw far more water Wednesday morning than its owner, Steve Timmons of Cortlandville, was used to.
Instead of a few inches of water accumulating in front of the sales office, water extended about 60 feet into the parking lot and nearly reached the top of the front steps.
“I was called by people on their way to work,” Timmons said as he watched state Department of Transportation employees work to pump the water into a nearby storm sewer grating.
“The first couple I was like,‘Yeah, I know. It does that.’ But then the next one told me it was up to the door. That’s when I came down here and was surprised.”
The cold temperatures hindered a leech basin in the corner of the property next to the intersection, said Stan Birchenough, the DOT’s resident engineer for Cortland and Tompkins counties.
The leech basin is essentially a box without a bottom that holds water underground as it percolates down through the soil underneath.
“Leech basins don’t work very well when the ground’s frozen,” Birchenough explained, speculating that a clogged pipe somewhere outside of the state’s storm sewer system had backed up the flow.
Birchenough said the problem would be fixed when Route 281 undergoes its substantial reconstruction, slated to begin next year.
Timmons said there was not any damage to his vehicles, but he did have to scramble to move a half-dozen of them in the morning. By midafternoon, the water had receded until it was a small, shallow puddle in front of the steps to the sales office.
“I don’t get it,” Timmons said.




Weather limits Homer WinterFest events

Week’s rain and warm temperatures mean no ice skating on the Village Green

Staff Reporter

HOMER — WinterFest is looking a little light on the winter this year.
Temperatures are expected to be cold this weekend, but no more than a couple of inches of snow are expected to drop on the ground left virtually bare in recent days by rain and warm temperatures.
“I’m on my hands and needs,” said Peg Sweeney, one of the WinterFest chairmen and organizer of the event’s outdoor activities. “Everybody should do a snow dance.”
Event organizers say it is likely at least three events will not be taking place because of the lack of wintry weather: snow sculpture judging, a snowmaking demonstration and ice skating.
The lack of snow for the events is unusual, organizers said.
Sweeney said she cannot remember a year the snow sculpture contest did not take place. WinterFest, an annual event, has been held seven times previously.
The event is held throughout the village, with outdoor locations including the Village Green, behind Homer Elementary School and Main Street.
If it does end up taking place, the snow sculpture contest would allow anyone to make a sculpture anywhere in the village. Most people make them in their backyard, Sweeney said.
“Last year we had our very first actual snowman,”  she said. “They’ve always made different things … they had a unicorn and a dove of peace.”
Ice skating is definitely not going to happen, said Ernie Newell, first assistant chief with the Homer Fire Department.




Hospital faces cuts under Bush budget

President’s spending plan would trim $7 million in Medicare payments over 5 years

Staff Reporter

The Cortland Regional Medical Center has serious concerns with President Bush’s proposal to cut nearly $600,000 in Medicare payments to the hospital next year and more than $7 million over the next five years.
“It would adversely impact our ability to provide care,” said Tom Quinn, director of marketing at the hospital. “Every year costs go up for hospitals … and every year we face the threat of cuts.”
Central New York is home to 12 hospitals that stand to be affected by the proposed cuts to Medicare with funding losses totaling more than $31 million in 2009 and more than $357 million over the next five years, according to the Healthcare Association of New York State.
Nationwide, hospitals would lose more than $2.4 billion over the next five years.
The health care association estimated with the proposed cuts CRMC would lose a total of $595,000 in 2009.
In 2007, CRMC’s total expenses totaled $74.2 million, Quinn said.




C’ville to test for Blodgett Mills water source

Staff Reporter

CORTLANDVILLE — The town has agreed to spend up to $30,000 to drill two or three wells in Blodgett Mills that would test for more municipal water sources.
Town Board members approved the work Wednesday.
Town Supervisor Dick Tupper said increasing residential and commercial development has prompted the town to look for more water.
“It might be time for us to look into the future to look for alternative water sources in the town,” Tupper said.
Town engineer Hayne Smith said the project would cost between $22,500 and $30,000.
“There’s not a lot known about it,” Smith said, referring to the Blodgett Mills area. “That’s why we should test it.”
He added that the process would take about a month and start during the summer when the ground is dry.