July 11, 2007

Cuyler Town Board locked on vacancy

Residents say stalemate will hurt board efficiency

Staff Reporter

CUYLER — Town Board members could not agree on a candidate to fill the board’s vacancy Tuesday night during its monthly meeting, splitting with a partisan vote of 2-2, and leaving the opening and the standoff to be settled during November’s elections.
The vote left many at the meeting — including some board members — feeling that the board’s inability to agree will make it difficult for it to accomplish anything until after the upcoming elections.
The board voted at the beginning of the meeting on three candidates to _fill an opening created when former board member John Van Dee resigned in May, but the four remaining members split and could not reach a decision.
Board members Richard Keeney and Nancy Corbin, both Republicans, voted for Republican Lee Smith, 70, of 4476 Winnie Road, while Town Supervisor Steven Breed and board member Dennis Beach backed fellow Democrat Pete Titus, 68, of 7470 Keith Road.
The two candidates, along with Republican Paul Longenecker, 65, of 6888 Richmond Hill Road, submitted letters of intent to the board at its last meeting on June 12.
The board had planned to choose one of the three to fill the vacancy until the end of the year when a new person, voted into the position in November, could take office.
After board members locked on the vote, Breed said he believes the seat will stay open until after the November election, which will determine who would fill the job for the remaining three years in the four-year term.
“It stays open till we can agree on someone,” Breed told an audience of around 15 people when questions were raised about the opening. “We’ll probably go into executive session and discuss it next month.”
Corbin and Keeney said after the meeting that the deadlock will not only prevent the board from filling the position, but will also keep the board from agreeing on most issues until there is a new member to break the tie.
“We’ll have to table everything,” Corbin said.
“Everything is going to be stalemated,” Keeney added.
Corbin also said she does not believe the board can go into executive session over the issue at its next meeting on Aug. 14.
Many members of the citizen advocacy group Citizens of Cuyler were present for the meeting and some said they also feel the board’s inability to agree will prevent it from conducting its business through the end of the year.
“They can’t agree on anything,” said the group’s Co-Chairman Vera Leete.
The opening was created when Van Dee resigned amid a controversy over his residency. Many community members, including Citizens of Cuyler, accused him of living in Homer where he had been filing his STAR school tax exemptions since 2001.
In addition to Van Dee’s position, Breed, Corbin, Keeney and Town Clerk Lou Anne Randall, are all up for re-election in November. No candidates have announced their intentions of running for any of the town offices in November.
The town justice position will also be voted on. That position became open after the state Court of Appeals upheld a recommendation from state Commission on Judicial Conduct to have former Town Justice Jean Marshall removed from office for unethical behavior.
Marshall, 56, of 4710 State Route 13, a Democrat, who had been in office since 1999, was removed from office on July 2 after being suspended pending an appeal to the court in March. She is also Breed’s sister.
Taylor Town Justice Rollan Elwood is serving as the town justice until January through a temporary appointment.





County changes natural gas provider

Staff Reporter

After many years of paying into a consortium run by Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES to purchase natural gas, Cortland County has decided to go through another provider.
The General Services Committee voted unanimously Tuesday to allow County Administrator Scott Schrader to purchase natural gas through Municipal Electric & Gas Alliance, an aggregate that allows its consortium of municipalities and private landowners to have greater purchasing power for natural gas.
Schrader said the move had become necessary because the BOCES consortium, New York School & Municipal Energy Consortium, which has a client list of primarily school districts along with the county, gave the county no say in the process of purchasing natural gas.
This cost the county approximately $41,000 last October, Schrader said, when NYSMEC locked in natural gas prices until the end of the year, only to see prices fall.
MEGA, meanwhile, was recommending that its consortium not lock in prices, Schrader said.
“With MEGA, the board of directors is made up of the participants and each participant makes their own decision on when to lock in or not to,” Schrader said.
MEGA’s rate for purchasing through its consortium will cost the county 90 cents more per decotherm of fuel purchased than it had been paying, which, with annual consumption by the county of approximately 1,700 decotherms, adds up to an increase of a maximum of $2,000 in expenditures annually, Schrader said.
The county would cover that cost by saving $2,500 on an administrative fee it pays BOCES, and no such fee would be required by MEGA.
“Overall I think it’ll probably be a wash, but the change will be that we’ll have the ability to manage our acquisition decisions,” he said.
A five-year agreement with BOCES is up July 24, Schrader said.



Dryden adds work to K-5 renovation project

$356,000 in remaining funds will be used for new roofs at district’s 3 elementary schools.

Staff Reporter

DRYDEN — With about $356,000 remaining after the elementary school renovations, the Board of Education decided Monday to address additional health and safety and building quality items, including roof replacements at Dryden, Cassavant and Freeville elementary schools.
Jack Barni, project manager, presented a list of priorities totaling nearly $495,000 to the Board of Education.
“My suggestion is to look at the health and safety items first, then building quality,” he said, noting there still would not be enough money to do all of these.
Roof replacements were the biggest items at all three elementary schools, with the Dryden Elementary estimate at $342,000; the Cassavant estimate at almost $60,000 and the Freeville roof, excluding the slate portion, at $32,000.
He said some of the roofing at Dryden Elementary could wait.
Most of the roof replacements were listed as building quality issues.
“I can’t believe roof replacement is not a top priority on this list,” said board member Jeff Bradley.
Board member Chris Gibbons asked how these roofs were neglected when the project was set.
Barni said four years ago some of the roofs were not in bad shape and some had been patched but the patching is not holding.
Board President Anderson Young said some parts of the project were cut because of the fear of not having enough money to pay for the project.
Barni pointed out one code issue — $17,800 worth of electrical work in the basement of Cassavant — that had to be competed since other work was done in the basement so all code issues had to be addressed.
He said if this is not addressed the McLean school would not be open in the fall.
Gibbons suggested doing all the health and safety items and then the items that had been labeled cosmetic or for convenience and then look at some of the roofs.
“I can’t see us spending money to just dress things up,” said board member Karin LaMotte.
She said it would be hard to justify that to the taxpayers.
Young said about $90,000 worth of roof replacement could wait and become a summer project in a couple of years.
Board member Brian June suggested doing all the health and safety issues and also as many of the building quality issues as possible.
The board voted in agreement, except for Gibbons, who voted no.




Rev. Buttino remembered for missionary work

Staff Reporter

The Rev. James “Octavio” Buttino, who died last week of a stroke, is remembered in his hometown for the reputation he built as a missionary to China and Taiwan, and his house arrest in China for a year.
Buttino died at age 89 in Los Altos, Calif., and a funeral Mass was held Tuesday at the Maryknoll Residence where he was buried.
His parents, Pasquale “Patsy” and Mary Buttino, raised 12 children, of which James Buttino was the eighth child born.
Buttino studied at the Maryknoll Fathers Seminary in Clarks Summit, Pa., and Maryknoll, N.Y., for 10 years.
“He was very, very devoted to his mission life,” said his brother, Joe Buttino, 83, now a research aide at Cornell University in Alumni Affairs & Development. Joe Buttino said he had visited his brother in Hong Kong in 1973 and another place in Taiwan in 1978 and 1987 to celebrate his 40th anniversary of being ordained a priest of the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America (Maryknoll Fathers), which had specifically trained priests to go to Asia.
The mission expanded into other areas after China began persecuting missionaries. Joe Buttino said when he first went to China he didn’t know the language at all. Past articles in the Cortland Standard, mention his brother would talk to children to learn the language.
After being held in house arrest for more than a year, Buttino was released in 1951 and ordered back to the United States in March 1952. For about a year he did mission work in New York City’s Chinatown at the Church of the Transfiguration. He returned to Asia in November 1953, this time serving in Taiwan. Joe Buttino said his brother raised the money needed to build two or three churches in Taiwan.
“People would go in droves to his new assignment,” he said of his missionary work in China and Taiwan. “He did so much for them. He “adopted” one man who is now a millionaire,” Joe Buttino said, noting the man now lives in Argentina. Joe Buttino said his brother was so well liked because he was concerned with their health and welfare. “They just worshipped him.”
Joe Buttino said his brother became ill while in Taiwan and the mission decided it was time he retired in March 2003. “He would have lived and died in Taiwan if he could have,” Joe Buttino said.