April 17, 2007

A snow day for some, a workday for others


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer  
Mike Frost, 7, watches a snowman come to life as his brother Matt Frost with the help of their mother, Kathy Frost, lift the mid-section of the first snowman they built this year. “It’s perfect snow,” Kathy Frost said of the blanket of snow covering their Marathon home Monday.

Staff Reporter

Monday’s snowstorm was good for ski resorts, day cares, pizza shops that deliver and tow truck companies, but it wasn’t so good for retail businesses that depend on people stopping by.
Kevin Morrin, director of marketing for Greek Peak, said resort officials decided at 5 a.m. Monday to open the resort, a little more than a week after it had closed down.
That doesn’t happen that often, he said, and between 40 and 50 skiers had come to the mountain as of 5:30 p.m. Monday.
“We’ve been pretty happy about it,” he said.
The resort is open today, and it might be open today through Saturday, he said, depending on the weather.
As of 12:15 this morning, the last time the National Weather Service had snow data for Cortland, the area had received 12.5 inches of snow as a result of the storm that began Monday night, said Bob Hudgins, a hydrometeorologist for the National Weather Service in Binghamton.
Hudgins said he thinks a few tenths of inches of snow may have fallen overnight, and that today’s mixture of snow and rain will bring no significant amount of precipitation.
Today’s high will be in the upper 30s and 40s, and the weather will get warmer and warmer as the week goes on. Temperatures will rise to the upper 60s on Monday, he said.
Flooding is not a risk, he said.
Pat Power, director of the YWCA-run Here We Grow Child Care Center at 16 Miller St. in Cortland, said Monday’s snowstorm saved the day care  — for children age 5 and under — money.
Since only about half of the approximately 50 children who normally attend the day care showed up Monday, the day care didn’t have to use seven part-time workers it usually employees.
Jami Bistocchi, child care director for the YWCA, said only about 25 children attended the YWCA-run Learning Adventure Day Care Center on Huntington Street for children ages 6 weeks to 5 years, while normally on a snow day 40 attend. She said only about 30 or 40 children attended the YWCA’s program for school-age children, while normally on snow days between 50 and 80 attend.
The snowy weather boosted business at Stupke’s Towing, a one-man towing operation at 749 Stupke Road, said owner Paul Stupke. The company got five weather-related calls on Monday.
Stupke said the extra business in April was appreciated, but it is not all that uncommon.
“Well with my experience, I’ve been doing this since 1974, I’ve seen quite a few Aprils where we had weather like this,” he said.
Tim Gaffney, shift manager at Pudgie’s Pizza, at 75 N. Main St., Cortland, said the store saw about a 50 percent increase in its number of deliveries Monday.
Bill Cleary, owner of Pudgie’s Pizza, agreed, though he would not say how many pizzas were sold Monday.
He said a couple of delivery people were on hand throughout the day, and they got to homes just fine, especially in the evening when the roads had cleared.
Other businesses didn’t benefit from Monday’s snowstorm.
Elizabeth Barden, shift manager at Hollywood Video, at 3944 Route 281, Cortlandville, said when she arrived at work at 5 p.m. her shift manager told her the day had been especially slow. Mondays are usually a slow day at the store, she said, but apparently this Monday was worse.
She said her co-worker did not tell her exactly what percentage business had dropped, but she noticed it when she arrived.
“I came in and knew (it wasn’t busy) because there weren’t many cars here,” she said.



Homer grad heard shots on Virginia Tech campus

Staff Reporter

Standing 200 yards away from Norris Hall on the Virginia Tech campus, Luke Birchenough heard gunshots Monday.
Birchenough, a 2004 Homer High School graduate, was walking across campus around 9:45 a.m. after leaving a class when he saw police cars and heard sirens.
Birchenough said he first thought the campus was under a bomb scare because the school had received two bombs threats in the last week and a half.
“I just heard a lot of sirens,” he said this morning. “Then we heard some gunshots. I just booked it back to my room and spent the rest of the day getting a hold of my friends.”
The gunshots came from 23-year-old South Korean student Cho Seung-Hui, who opened fire on classrooms in Norris Hall, where he killed 30 people and then took his own life, according to the Associated Press.
Birchenough’s mother, Donna, of 5224 Route 11, Homer, said she heard about the shooting around 11 a.m. and immediately called her son.
“He did answer his phone, thank God,” she said Monday afternoon. “It’s a tough day for parents.”
Birchenough, a junior building construction major who also is a member of the ROTC, said he did not know any of the shooting victims, but that one member of the ROTC was killed.
“Some of the people on my floor knew him,” he said.
Today the focus for many students on campus is prayer, he said, as they wait to hear more about what led up to the killings. Birchenough attended a prayer session Monday evening and the school has scheduled another prayer session for noon today. The ROTC also has scheduled a vigil for this evening, he said.
“It’s just really hard to believe. There’s a lot of hurting people down here,” he said. “It’s going to take a lot of time to heal. They need your prayers.”
Birchenough does not know how many students left campus to be with their families after the shooting, but said that most people he knows have stayed.
“All the people in my dorm have been staying,” he said.


Meeting will give public look at River Trail

Staff Reporter

A public information meeting Wednesday will give residents a preliminary look at the long-in-the-works Tioughnioga River Trail.
At the meeting, which will run from 6 to 9 p.m. in the auditorium at the County Office Building, county officials will present preliminary plans for the trail, which will stretch 2.7 miles along the river between Yaman Park in Cortland and Albany Street in Homer.
Photo simulations of how the trail — which will be paved for running, biking and other non-vehicular traffic — will look will be presented at the meeting, County Highway Superintendent Don Chambers said, as will preliminary indicators of where the county will need to acquire property.
“We’ve sent an invitation to all of the property owners who will be impacted … hopefully they’ll show up and offer some input,” Chambers said. “In the end we’ll take all of the comments from the meetings and address those concerns before we draft our final design.”
The city of Cortland currently owns about 80 percent of the necessary easements for the trail, according to Linda Hartsock of the county’s Business Development Corp./Industrial Development Agency, and it would maintain those properties.
The remainder of the easements, which can’t be acquired until after the final design is completed, are in Cortlandville along Route 11 and in Homer.
Those easements will be purchased and maintained by either the local municipality or the Local Development Corporation, which was established by the IDA for the purpose of holding easements, Hartsock said.
Chambers said the county likely would not be ready to go out to bid on construction of the trail until the beginning of 2008, with construction beginning in the summer of this year.
The project will cost approximately $1.4 million, Chambers said, a majority of which comes from federal funding and from a state grant secured by the BDC/IDA.


Committee reviews plan for South End

Staff Reporter

The South End Strategic Plan advisory committee reviewed goals for the neighborhood outlined in the plan Monday evening, and during the meeting Mayor Tom Gallagher said he believes the 23-acre Noss Industrial Park might be a suitable location for much-needed government facilities.
Committee member and JTS Lumber owner Ken DeMunn suggested that the Noss Industrial Park would be an ideal place to locate facilities that both the city of Cortland and Cortland County need to construct — the city needs new spaces for its fire department and administrative offices, and the county is looking to locate a jail, Department of Motor Vehicles office, and a public health building.
Gallagher said the state Department of Environmental Conservation would begin work on cleaning the industrial park in the late spring or summer.
Gallagher has said building a county jail on the Noss site would be out of the question because as a state-designated, polluted Brownfield area, the site cannot be home to a residential facility like a jail.
The location also is on the wrong side of the railroad tracks and Main Street to be a location for the fire department, he said.
When Ann Hotchkin, project manager for Thoma Development Consultants, pointed out that it’s one of the few open sites in the city for industrial development, Gallagher said he would rather have government buildings placed on that site instead of purchasing residential properties and further diminishing the city’s tax base.
The strategic plan recommends changing zoning in certain parts of the ward, rehabilitating both single and multi-family buildings and encouraging homeownership, bringing in new businesses, increasing green space and more rigorously enforcing code violations.
The zoning changes include redrawing district boundaries so that the R-2 zone in the vicinity of Crawford, Pine, Cannone and Scammell streets becomes R-1, and eliminating the General Industrial zone between south Main   and Owego streets and rezoning to allow mixed uses such as residential development, neighborhood services and small business.