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Three men chosen for Firefighter of the Year award

fire

Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Cortland Fire Department Chief Dennis Baron congratulates, from left, Capt. Mike Andersen, Capt. Tom Casterline and volunteer firefighter Josh Woods. The three men shared the American Legion’s Firefighter of the Year award for their part in saving a historic Main Street building from an October blaze.

By JENNIFER FUSCO
Staff Reporter

CORTLAND — A trio of city firefighters who were among the first to enter a historic building on Main Street engulfed in flames in October have received the American Legion’s annual Firefighter of the Year award.
The firefighters received the award Wednesday afternoon at a ceremony at the city Fire Department on Court Street.
About 20 people gathered in the truck garage to watch Capt. Mike Anderson, Capt. Tom Casterline and volunteer firefighter Joshua Wood received brown and gold plaques.
The men were nominated by city Fire Chief Dennis Baron on April 6.
The Oct. 19 fire at 51-55 Main St. destroyed two businesses — Smooch and Shangri-La — and severely damaged an art gallery and six apartments.
“If they hadn’t done their job, the building would most likely have burned to the ground,” Baron said.
More than 85 firefighters tried to put out the flames that rolled out of the second- and third-floor windows of the three-story building.
“It’s a privilege to receive this honor for just doing your job, said Casterline, who has been with the department for 27 years. “We train many years for this, and you use that natural reaction for something like this.”
When the first crew got to the scene, a back draft caused windows to break, knocking firefighters to the ground.
“It would have been very human and very normal to get off the ground from such an experience and retreat from the front of the building,” past American Legion commander Ray Nauseef read from Baron’s nomination letter at the ceremony. “The firefighters I am going to mention to you did not retreat. In fact, they gathered their equipment, realized the explosion had come from the second floor and started into the building to fight the fire.”
The night of the fire was the last night of Wood’s fire training. With one year with the department under his belt, the 18-year-old went into the building without thinking twice, he said.
“I’m honored to receive the award, but I’m just as honored to be a part of this department,” Wood said after the ceremony.
Wood’s mother, who also attended the ceremony, recalled the night of the fire and watching her son come out of the burning building.
“I was shocked he was even in there,” Debbie Wood said. “But I am so proud of him for staying in there.”
Anderson, 58, has been with the department for about 18 years and said it was nice to be honored for doing his job.
“The American Legion goes above and beyond with these awards and it’s a great thing to be honored for something that’s part of your job,” he said.
Nauseef said there were four candidates nominated for the award — a second letter was sent to the American Legion by firefighter Dave Jenson, nominating firefighter Lee Price for the award.
Baron said Price went to the top of the Main Street building the night of the fire and opened up the air vents.
The award started back in the 1980s, Baron said. Capt. Scott Buchanan and firefighter Wayne Friedman were the city Fire Department recipients in 2005.
Nauseef said Baron’s recommendation really helped the legion decide on this year’s recipients.
“The letter says it all,” he said. “I think (their acts) are amazing and something I probably wouldn’t do myself.”

 

 

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C'ville after tougher policy on tract roads

By COREY PRESTON
Staff Reporter

CORTLANDVILLE — The town is considering ways to require developers to take more responsibility for the roads they create.
Town Board member Ron Rocco said he wants a stricter town policy regarding new roads that are created by developers and quickly dedicated to the town.
Because of the heavy machinery going up and down these roads for ongoing construction, the town faces repair costs shortly after the roads are completed, Rocco said.
“The way we do it now, the developer completes the road once they’ve sold enough lots and turns the road over to the town, but then the road is summarily destroyed by the construction,” Rocco said. “Then we get people calling us with potholes out in front of their new house wanting them repaired, and who can blame them?”
The town has faced that situation about 50 percent of the time, said Town Highway Superintendent Carl Bush.
“The problem is that most banks won’t give out loans for an individual lot unless the road is accepted by the town, so the developer wants us to accept the road before the houses are built,” Bush said. “Instead of the town doing the repairs, we want the developer to pay for or at least share some of the costs.”

 

 

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Virgil at work on sewer upgrades

By COREY PRESTON
Staff Reporter

VIRGIL — In preparation for the proposed development of an all-season resort at Greek Peak, work is being done to upgrade Virgil’s wastewater treatment plant.
The project, which began a month ago and should be completed by mid to late summer, has been needed for a couple of years, said Town Supervisor Jim Murphy Jr.
The expansion of Greek Peak made it all the more necessary, he said.
“The DEC has asked us to do some upgrades, and we decided to tie it to the Greek Peak development,” Murphy said. “Basically this was a chance for the town to outsource and allow Greek Peak to take care of something that we needed to have done in the first place.”
There are about 170 residences that currently fall within the sewer district, which is maintained by Greek Peak. Those residents would not be responsible for paying for the improvements, Murphy said.
The town of Virgil has bonded for up to $1 million for the project, Murphy said, but ultimately Greek Peak will pay the town back for the work. Its proposed hotel is expected to have 120 new residential customers.

 

 

 

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New tenants move in to renovated Brockway Hall

By IDA M. PEASE
Staff Reporter

Loads of boxes, chairs and shelves were piled up in offices, hallways and a main file room in SUNY Cortland’s Brockway Hall as more were moved in on Wednesday.
Brockway Hall will once again become home to the office of Graduate Studies, and will become the new home for the office of Institutional Advancement, which includes the college’s Public Relations and Alumni Affairs departments, and the Cortland College Foundation, all currently housed in the Studio West building on campus.
The move marks the completion of a yearlong, $5 million renovation of the building, which will primarily house administrative offices. The project began in March 2005 and was completed last month, said Nasrin Parvizi, associate vice president for facilities management.
One of the biggest changes, Parvizi said, is the building now has air conditioning and an elevator. Piping with asbestos insulation had to be removed throughout the building.
The interior was basically gutted and rebuilt and sprinklers were added. Much of the building had terrazzo flooring, which has been preserved, she said.
The only thing not complete on the project is some equipment and additional chairs and tables for the dining facility, which will be called Hilltop, Parvizi said. That will be located on the basement level and will open for the fall semester.

 

 

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Nurses approve county contract

By JEREMY BOYLAN
Staff Reporter

The 35 Cortland County nurses represented by the New York State Nurses Association approved a proposed contract Wednesday that has been in the works for months.
The Cortland County Legislature will vote on the contract tonight.
County Administrator Scott Schrader said the new contract, which could be enacted by June, will expire at the end of 2008. It would pay nurses an increase of 13.5 percent for 2006, retroacted for six months. The contract also calls for an additional pay raise of 3 percent in 2007 and 3.5 percent in 2008.
Representatives from NYNSA did not return several phone calls.

 

 

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