February 21, 2008


Bald eagle spotted on Tioughnioga


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
A bald eagle, with a nearly 6-foot wing span, stands watch in a tree overlooking the Tioughnioga River just off Kellogg Road Tuesday morning.  Graphics Plus Printing  president Bob Eckard, who pointed the eagle out, said he has watched it fly up and down that section  of the river for the past several years.

Staff Reporter

As bald eagles continue to expand their numbers statewide, a pair of the distinct birds has nested in Cortland along the Tioughnioga River, according to a local businessman.
Bob Eckard, president of Graphics Plus Printing on Kellogg Road, said he first spotted one of the eagles three years ago near his business, which is next to the river.
“We’ve long suspected they’ve been in the area,” said Tom Bell, a wildlife biologist with the Cortland branch of state Department of Environmental Conservation, “They migrate down from little waters north of here.”
Bell said he’s seen several bald eagles in Whitney Point, and that bald eagle sightings are becoming more common as their population in the state continues to grow.
“Statewide, they’re on the increase,” Bell said.
At first, Eckard said his co-workers didn’t believe him when he said he’d seen one of the unmistakable birds in Cortland.
“They thought I was seeing crows or something,” he said.
But eventually others saw the eagle as well, and Eckard said he believes there is a male and female pair. He sees them several times per week, usually coasting up and down the stretch of the Tioughnioga near Graphics Plus.
With their unmistakable markings and huge 6-foot wingspan, they’re striking animals, Eckard said.
“The white on its head and tail is just so brilliant,” he said.
Eckard said the birds usually appear to be hunting the ducks that live on the river.
In June last year, bald eagles were removed from state and federal endangered species lists, and the DEC credits the population rebound to robust conservation efforts in the state over the past 50 years.
At the beginning of the 20th century, New York was home to some 70 nesting pairs of bald eagles, with several hundred more spending the winter months here. Hunting, pesticide use and habitat destruction led to a steep decline in the bald eagle population, and by 1960, according to the DEC, only one nesting pair was known to live in New York.
The state initiated its Endangered Species Act in 1973, and in 1988 wildlife biologists had met their goal of establishing 10 nesting pairs of bald eagles in New York.
Since then, the population has continued to grow, and today, the state has about 150 nesting pairs of bald eagles, according to figures kept by the Montezuma Audubon Center. The DEC has counted at least 80 nesting pairs of bald eagles in the state.
The eagles seek out new territory as soon as they mature and build large nests, usually 6 to 8 feet across, near the tops of trees.
Eckard said Graphics Plus employees are working on coming up with names for the eagles, which he said have a nest somewhere on the Tioughnioga south of Cortland.
He said Zeus is under consideration for the name for the male, and Maggie — short for majestic — is a strong contender for the female’s name.
The bald eagle is the Montezuma Audobon Center’s “bird of the month,” and the center will hold an informational program from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday at the Montezuma refuge’s visitor center.
The program will feature a talk by Mike Allen, a wildlife technician with the DEC who was one of the people involved in reintroducing bald eagles to New York in 1973, as well as an appearance by a live bald eagle.
The center is located on Routes 5 and 20, about five miles west of Auburn.




Event to benefit transplant recipient

Staff Reporter

It’s been a long wait and there are always obstacles ahead, but Patti Prince is back living the life she should be.
The 26-year-old cystic fibrosis survivor received the transplants she needed just over a year ago.
“I’m doing really good — I’m doing a whole lot of stuff I couldn’t do when I was sick and that I never thought I’d be able to do again,” the Homer native said Wednesday afternoon in a telephone interview from Yorkville, where she lives with her husband, Nathaniel Prince, and her 2-year-old son, Brady.
Just that morning, she and Brady and her nieces went to the library — something she wouldn’t have been able to do a year and a half ago when her health was at some of its worst.
Prince’s condition isn’t an easy one and her friends are hosting a fund-raising event this weekend to help Prince get back on track.
The benefit jamboree, entitled “Putting Feet to My Prayers,” will be held from noon to 4 p.m. at the Cortland Country Music Park on Route 13 in Cortlandville and will feature two live bands — as well as some music provided by Prince, who plays the flute.




Route 281 project prompts move of McLean Road water lines 

Cortlandville decides designing the work itself will save town approximately $100,000

Staff Reporter

CORTLANDVILLE — The town is looking to bid out an alternative design to relocate water lines on McLean Road before the state’s Route 281 rebuilding project gets under way next year.
Town Engineer Hayne Smith told the board Wednesday that the state’s design was undesirable to relocate about 2,100 feet of pipe around the road’s intersection with Route 281.
“They were squeezing a lot of lines into some tight spots,” Smith said. “So we have committed to doing it ourselves and I came up with a better design.”
The board agreed to allow Smith to put the design out to bid. Smith estimated the town would save more than $100,000 by using his design rather than the state’s . The state’s design would have cost about $400,000 while the town’s will cost about $300,000.
The town will pay the cost of relocating the water lines.
“The plan I have involves a lot of easements and also involves some increases in pipe sizes,” Smith said.




Candidates line up for village elections

March 18 races include newcomers in Tompkins County but no new faces in Cortland County.

Staff Reporter

No new candidates have announced they’re running for village elections in Cortland County, but some villages bordering the county have new faces running for office.
Village elections will take place March 18, and Feb. 13 was the deadline for submitting nominating petitions.
In Cortland County, all trustees up for re-election in Marathon and Homer are running to keep their seats, while just one of three trustees in McGraw with a term coming to an end is running for office.
Homer Republicans Michael Berry, of 23 Cayuga St., and Roy Crandall, of 71 S. Main St., are running unopposed.
The two-year terms pay $3,100 annually.
In Marathon, Republicans Robin Light, of 12 Bradford St., and Ronald VanDeWeert, of 19 Mara Lane, are also running unopposed.
The two-year terms pay $1,890 annually.
McGraw Trustee Allan Stauber, of 20 OK St., is the only village trustee running for re-election.