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Supreme Court canidates line up

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Photos by Misha T. Kwasniewski/staff photographer
Elizabeth Garry announces her candidacy at the Cortland County Courthouse Monday for state Supreme Court justice in the Sixth Judicial District. Garry is the town justice of New Berlin in Chenango County. TOP: Former Supreme Court Justice Irad Ingraham introduces Garry, a Democrat, as she looks on during the announcement. She is running for the position vacated by state Supreme Court Justice William O’Brien, who retired mid-term in January. Garry is running against Justice Dennis McDermott, a Republican who has served in O’Brien’s seat since his retirement.

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New Berlin town justice
in race against acting Supreme Court judge in Sixth Judicial District

By JENNIFER FUSCO
Staff Reporter

About 10 people gathered around the Cortland County Courthouse steps Monday afternoon as Elizabeth Garry announced her candidacy for state Supreme Court justice.
The Democrat is running for a vacant seat in the Sixth Judicial District, which encompasses 10 counties, including Cortland, Broome and Tompkins.
“The judiciary is the best branch of government and I want to take an active part in that,” said Garry, who has served as a trial lawyer for the past 12 years. “I love what I do as a lawyer and as a town judge, and I want to do that on a higher level.”
The seat opened when Justice William O’Brien retired as Supreme Court justice in mid-term Jan. 31. O’Brien’s term was to expire in 2010.
Republican Justice Dennis McDermott was appointed as acting Supreme Court justice after O’Brien’s retirement.
Although McDermott has not officially announced his candidacy for justice, he said this  morning he is “definitely running.”
McDermott, 56, said he has been in practice in Madison County for 30 years and has been the County Court judge in Madison County for the past five years.
His experience is what makes him the best candidate for the job, he said.
“In my lifetime we have never had a Supreme Court judge that is not a county court judge first,” McDermott said. “That’s the experience you gain that qualifies you for that position.”
McDermott, who is married with children and lives in Madison County, graduated from Albany Law School in 1975. He said he will officially announce his candidacy for the Nov. 7 election in the upcoming months.
The justice position is a 14-year term with a $136,700 salary per year.
Garry, 44, who lives in South New Berlin in Chenango County, decided to run for office two months ago when she learned of the vacancy.
Garry has served as the town justice for New Berlin in Chenango County for five years, from 2001 to the present, and has worked as a trial lawyer for 12 years with the Joyce Law Firm, where she is still employed.
At the firm, she focuses mainly on civil jury trials in state Supreme Court, she said. She also spent four years as a law clerk in Chenango County from 1990 to 1994.
Garry, a graduate of Albany Law School, was the 2005-06 president of the Chenango County Magistrate’s Association and is currently the treasurer of the Chenango County Bar Association, in addition to other committee positions and club memberships.
Garry is unmarried with three children and was raised in Albany County.
Cortland County Legislature Chairman Marilyn Brown (D-8th Ward) attended Monday’s press conference.
“I think she’s an extremely qualified candidate and I think we need some new blood on the Supreme Court,” Brown said. “I really feel she’s a down to earth person and will do a great job. We need some down to earth people on the bench.”
Garry’s campaign chair, former Supreme Court Justice Irad Ingraham, said since the Supreme Court is comprised mostly of males it is important to have more woman justices.
According to the Sixth Judicial Administrative Office, out of the 12 Supreme Court Justices, only one is female.
“It’s time to break that mold,” Ingraham said. “I know she has a very incisive mind and will make an exceptional Supreme Court justice.”

 

 

 

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Residents weigh in on reopening Homer plant

By JEREMY BOYLAN
Staff Reporter

HOMER — The former Homer Oil building could be crushing soybeans again as soon as June 2007, according to SUNY Morrisville President Dr. Ray Cross.
There was standing room only Monday night as a last-minute meeting was called to discuss the future of the building on Center Street. The meeting was a question-and-answer session with about 25 people packed into Linani’s Cookie Factory on Main Street after hours.
Cross said he called the meeting to gather public opinion of re-opening the factory.
“There have been a number of issues in the past, which is the reason for this meeting,” Cross said. “This may not be a very good option, but I wanted to hear the concerns of the residents.”
Those concerns focused around the odor produced at the former plant.
“This might be good for the farmers, but is it good for Homer?” asked Cayuga Street resident Dorothy Eichenauer.
Cross said a soybean-crushing plant would raise the soybean volume in Central New York and save farmers money in exporting and importing soybean oil and meal.
Soybean oil can be used as a bio-diesel fuel, while the meal is used as feed for livestock.
Other residents voiced complaints about the smell, residue and particulate from the plant, and even such medical problems as asthma.
The Homer Oil plant faced a lawsuit in 2002, brought by a group of residents, stating the odor emanating from the building caused quality of life and health problems. The lawsuit was dropped when Homer Oil stopped production in 2004. The company opened in 1989.

 

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County considers building walking trail

By JEREMY BOYLAN
Staff Reporter

A three-mile stretch known as Cortland Linear Park may soon feature a paved walking trail for Cortland County residents.
The Cortland County Planning Department has proposed creating a trail on the former Lehigh Valley Railway property.
The county has owned the property for more than 30 years, according to county Planning Director Dan Dineen.
“The property was handed over to the county when the railroad closed down the line,” Dineen said. The railroad is still active up to Gutchess Lumber Co. on McLean Road, but stops there. The project would not require any land acquisition.
The proposed trail would begin near Cortlandville’s Citizens Park and end at Lime Hollow Center for Environment and Culture.

 

 

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Workshop helps families discover nature, science, artistic expression

CORTLAND — 4-H Camp Owahta was the setting for 25 youths and adults who met with children’s book author and illustrator Bruce Hiscock. The day began with a sing-along on the lodge porch accompanied by the author on guitar.
“My job in introducing kids to nature, is first to slow everyone down,” said Hiscock. “Then we can begin to see things that we would have missed if we were racing around. I like proceeding at the pace of Mr. Rogers, rather than MTV.” Within a few minutes, the group looked up and saw a nest with an egg and a newly hatched robin. That is “so exciting that it creates lasting memories and really fires the imagination and curiosity.”
Participants continued inside with a drawing lesson. Using the art supplies provided, adults and kids alike learned to draw a little field mouse.  They really “enjoyed drawing the mouse, because the author made it so easy,” said Nancy Hazel, program coordinator for LIFE. The field mouse drawings became the cover of individual journal/sketch books that participants used as they began their nature walk around the 128-acre Camp Owahta, which includes five miles of woodland nature trails.