Despite loss of clock tower, First Night event lives


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Fireworks explode behind the Squires Building clock tower as Cortland celebrates First Night in 2003.

City’s New Year’s ball will drop from a fire truck at the corner of Main and Port Watson.

Staff Reporter

CORTLAND — The 2007 New Year in Cortland will be rung in as it has for years, beneath fireworks and the symbolic dropped ball at the corner of Tompkins and Main streets, despite the destruction in April of the historic Squires Building.
“First Night will take place at the same place, at the same time as it always has,” said Downtown Manager Lloyd Purdy, who is a member of a committee that has been working to ensure the preservation the New Year’s Eve celebration.
The city’s New Year’s ball, which for years had been dropped from the Squires Building’s clock tower, will be dropped by the city Fire Department from one or more fire trucks at the intersection of Port Watson and Main streets, Purdy said.
“The fire department will be set up right in the middle of the intersection,” Purdy said.
“The way it will be set up, there should be a better view of the fireworks than ever.”
Purdy said that the First Night Committee looked at other options for dropping the ball, including dropping it from the Cortland Standard building on the northwest corner of Main and Tompkins streets or from the building next to the newspaper, which houses the Dark Horse Tavern, but ultimately keeping the event in its original location was the best decision.
“We realized that the intersection is just the best spot,” Purdy said.
“There should be plenty of space all around for people to congregate.”
Fire Chief Dennis Baron said the Fire Department was still working on how it would go about dropping the ball.
“It’s not a question of if we’re gonna do it, it’s a question of figuring out the engineering of it,” Baron said.
Having heard estimates of the ball’s weight being 300 pounds or more, Baron said the department would know more once it got a definitive weight.
“If the ball is 300 pounds, using what we usually use in an emergency for man weight, we should be OK with one truck,” Baron said. “You just don’t know though until you weigh it, and obviously we’ll use whatever we need to to make sure it’s safe.”
Fundraising for First Night will be done at numerous downtown events this summer, Purdy said, as the city will ask for donations for maintaining the ball and organizing the event.
“This is a great community event and we want the community to have an opportunity to contribute to make sure it can go on,” Purdy said.


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Residents objections may nix soybean plant

Staff Reporter

HOMER — Amid opposition from nearby residents, a SUNY Morrisville proposal to reopen the former Homer Oil plant appears unlikely.
Officials plan to make a decision early next week on whether the Center Street building would become a site for a soybean plant that would produce biodiesel fuel.
Dorothy Eichenauer, a Cayuga Street resident, said she and three other people have been fighting to make sure the plant would not reopen in Homer.
SUNY Morrisville President Ray Cross sent a letter to another one of the opposed residents several days ago, Eichenauer said, saying the Homer site “is not an option for what they would like to do.”
“The letter said the Homer site was not a viable option,” she said. “I think he (Cross) realized there would be a lot of opposition.”
Cross said he would neither disclose the information he sent in the letter nor completely rule out the Homer site. Two other sites — in Preble and Madison County — are being considered for the plant, Cross said.
Neither is in a residential area, he said, and those sites would not pose the same problems Homer residents are concerned about, he added.


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Dryden wiring project approved

Staff Reporter

DRYDEN — The Board of Education decided not to spend up to $15,000 for a bathroom in the Dryden Teacher Center, but did approve nearly $15,000 to run conduit and wire molding so computers could be wired for the Internet.
Board member Karin LaMotte voted against the conduit and wire molding. She said she opposed putting the money into the converted classroom space when there might be more pressing construction needs in the district. The conduit and wire molding was estimated at $14,666.
The teacher center had been on the third floor of Dryden Elementary and is being moved to two classrooms on the first floor, which are accessible from the inside of the building only by going down three steps.
The wiring work is part of the project to prepare the space for the teacher center.
Jim Wasley, construction manager with Victor-based Christa Construction, which is overseeing the elementary school renovations, said there is about $268,000 left in the contingency fund and an alternate paving project at Dryden elementary has already been put into the project.


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Plan to help seniors

Staff Reporter

Cortland County is looking at ways to make difficult decisions for residents on long-term care a little easier.
The Cortland County Area Agency on Aging and Department of Social Services are working together to consolidate their services into a more coordinated effort for those seeking long-term care.
The county Legislature’s Human Services Committee sent a resolution Thursday to the Legislature that would allow the two county agencies to apply to the state as co-lead agencies for a single point of entry, or POE, which would oversee all of the long-term care options available in the county.
The POE would bring together public and private agencies that provide long-term services in an effort to allow the growing number of people in need of these services to make a fully informed decision.
“The system we have now can be confusing and disjointed with so many different pieces spread out across the county,” said Kristen Monroe, commissioner of the Department of Social Services. “The idea is to have one point to go to for information, one entity educating people on all of their options.”


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