It’s gonna be a scorcher

Cortland feeling bite of dog days


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Dakota Marshall, 6, tries to catch water in his mouth while playing this morning in the Suggett Park splash pool with Kelli Ball, 10, right, and his sister Angel, not shown.

Staff Reporter

Malcolm Coon got his produce shopping out of the way this morning at the Cortland Farmer’s Market.
“I came down here this morning so I could go back home,” the 79-year-old Scott resident said.
Coon was among a handful of area residents who were running errands in downtown Cortland early today — all in an effort to avoid the afternoon heat.
“That’s the plan,” said Jeff Little, 41, of Cortland, who was shopping with his two children and nephew. “Whether I make it or not …”
The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning for Central New York for today and Wednesday.
Temperatures could reach 100 degrees in the Cortland area today, said Mitch Gilt, hydrometeorological technician at the National Weather Service.
“It could feel up to 105 degrees,” he said. “With the humidity there’s not going to be as much air movement.”
Temperatures could reach the mid-90s Wednesday and it could feel like 98 or 99 degrees, he said. There is a 40 percent chance of rain, he said.
Cortland had its hottest Aug. 1 on record in 1999 when temperatures reached 95 degrees, said Gilt. It had its hottest Aug. 2 when temperatures reached 97 degrees in 1995. Cortland’s highest recorded temperature was 100 degrees on Aug. 4, 1953, and again on July 17, 1988.
Gilt said the weather service has no official temperature records for Cortland from 2000 on.
He advised people to stay out of the sun and drink plenty of water. Get into cool air or relax for a couple of hours if you start to feel fatigued, he said.
“The main thing is don’t work too long in any one period and drink plenty of water,” he said.
Mary Jane Uttech, deputy public health director at the Cortland County Health Department, said the department has prepared for the heat wave by visiting various senior citizens in the area.
“There’s a program going on where a member of the Office of the Aging and a health educator are going to every senior center and doing a program on heat safety,” she said.
Theresa Peebles, an intern in the health education office at the county Health Department, said the elderly are especially at risk for heat exhaustion.
“Seniors don’t have the ability to regulate heat as much as other people do,” she said.
Children also are at risk, she said, as typically they are very active and wear themselves out. People also must ensure babies aren’t exposed to the heat.
“Little ones depend on mom and dad to keep cool and comfortable,” she said.




Money OK’d for Main St. housing rehab

Staff Reporter

A low-income housing program that has designs on revitalizing the city’s south Main Street neighborhood has received the funding it needs, and is hoping to begin construction this winter.
The state announced Monday that Housing Visions Unlimited will receive approximately $5.6 million in federal tax credits, along with $2.2 million in loans, allowing it to proceed with plans to purchase and renovate eight properties, which would be turned into affordable, low-income housing.
Syracuse-based Housing Visions will begin purchasing the eight properties immediately, according to Project Manager Ben Lockwood, who was hopeful that all property acquisitions would be closed by the end of 2006.
The properties to be purchased include 2 Argyle Place, 5 Union St., and 148, 152, 154, 156, 162 and 164 Main St.
Construction is scheduled to begin in February of 2007, Lockwood said, with some rehab work beginning in the winter and full-fledged construction getting under way in May.
“It depends a lot on how things play out with the weather, but if we can be working on anything, we definitely will be,” he said. “There’s a lot of work to be done, so we’ll be keeping our construction crew pretty busy.”
Three of the buildings being purchased— the former Shamrock bar at 148 Main St., a former Laundromat at 154 Main St., and a building at 5 Union Street— will be torn down and reconstructed, Lockwood said, while the rest will be renovated.
Ultimately, 30 low-income housing units will be created, Lockwood said.
The news that Housing Visions had received the funding it needs to proceed is good news for Cortland, according to Linda Hartsock, executive director of the Cortland Business Development Corporation and Industrial Development Agency.
“I’m so excited, I want to get Ben (Lockwood) and (Mayor) Tom Gallagher and everyone who’s involved in this out to south Main Street to crack open a bottle of champagne,” Hartsock said. “We’re thrilled because it’s such a competitive process to get this funding, but they put together a first-rate application and they were able to demonstrate that they had tremendous community support.”




DEC finds chemical in C’ville homes

Testing for dangerous chemicals in homes near the former Smith Corona facility has revealed enough contamination to prompt the State Department of Environmental Conservation to offer mitigation to residents.
The DEC has done sampling at 49 sites in the past few months, according to spokeswoman Diane Carleton, after tests of soil vapors north of the former Smith Corona site in February revealed levels of the potentially toxic chemical trichloroethene, or TCE.
“There are some homes where there are TCE levels that are a concern to the DEC and to the Health Department as well,” Carleton said.
The DEC did four separate tests for contaminants on each home, testing the first floor indoor air, the basement air, soil vapors beneath the home and outdoor air. Determinations were made based on evaluating all four levels together, Carleton said.
Although she couldn’t say exactly how many homes showed contamination, Carleton said that testing done in the Lamont Circle neighborhood has revealed that about one-third of the houses tested, those on the western side of the subdivision, have levels high enough to warrant mitigation systems. The DEC will install these systems, which would remove chemicals that have migrated into the soil beneath the homes, at no cost to the homeowner, she said.
Homes toward the center of Lamont Circle, with less threatening levels of contamination, will be offered continued monitoring to ensure that TCE levels don’t worsen, Carleton said, while homes on the eastern side of the development have no significant levels of contamination.
The DEC has contacted all affected homeowners, and will host two informational sessions Wednesday night at the Cortlandville Fire Hall to make residents more aware of their options.
The first session, from 4 to 6 p.m., will allow DEC scientists to speak one-on-one with residents, while the second session, beginning at 7 p.m., will include a presentation about the work done along with a question and answer session.
TCE is a colorless liquid used for cleaning metal parts. The chemical was released into the soil and groundwater during Smith Corona’s operation in south Cortland.



Floodwaters heavily damage Smith Brook

Staff Reporter

CORTLANDVILLE — Two natural gas transmission lines beneath Smith Brook were unearthed during flash flooding Friday.
As of Monday afternoon, the bare, black pipes — about three or four feet in diameter — still stretched across the rocky streambed a foot or two above the ground off McGraw-Marathon Road in Cortlandville.
Les Bordwell owns property on both sides of the creek downstream from the exposed pipeline, and said that floodwaters he estimated to have been at least 7 feet deep had cut away about five acres of his land and exposed 75 feet of pipeline. The pipes belong to Sunoco Pipeline of Philadelphia and Dominican Resource Services of Richmond, Va.
He was concerned that nothing had been done about the pipeline as of Monday. In fact, Bordwell contended, work done on the pipeline six years ago changed the way the creek ran through the valley.
“The creek has moved over 100 percent of its original width,” Bordwell said as he pointed to the west bank of the wide, gravel and tree-strewn creek bed where he said Smith Brook had originally flowed before jumping to the east bank. “The creek bed is rising every year.”
The flood tore away the electric fence Bordwell had stretched over Smith Brook and stranded his 10 head of cattle on the opposite bank. He cleared out the stream bed Monday morning and pulled bits of logs to the side of the creek with a small tractor.
“I’m just trying to get it all out of my own way and getting rid of it before it goes down there and causes even more damage,” Bordwell said. “It’s never been that high before.”
Wayne Chamberlain of McGraw-Marathon Road had been watching as tree limbs and trunks crashed into the East Academy Street culvert over Smith Brook in McGraw Friday following the 2 to 3 inches of rain that fell Friday.
“I can show you some 2-ton concrete slabs up there that just got tossed around like toys,” Chamberlain said.