August 20, 2007


Colleges adopt new safety steps

SUNY Cortland, TC3 install phone messaging systems

old main

Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Students walk in front of SUNY Cortland’s Old Main on Aug. 8. The college and TC3 are taking steps to improve security and emergency procedures.

Staff Reporter

The deadly shootings at Virginia Tech on April 16 has lead local college campuses to take steps to improve their security and emergency procedures.
As students prepare to go back to schools around the nation, changes await them; and SUNY Cortland and Tompkins Cortland Community College are no different.
“The Virginia Tech shootings shocked everyone in the nation,” said Erik Bitterbaum, president of SUNY Cortland. “College campuses are safe, but this changed a lot.”
Students start returning to SUNY Cortland on Thursday, with the biggest crowd coming in Saturday in preparation for the start of classes Aug. 27. TC3 students moved in this past weekend, ready for the start of classes on Wednesday.
Both Cortland and TC3 are participating in a new messaging system that will be used to instantaneously alert students and faculty members of any emergencies.
Cortland calls the program reverse 911, which Bitterbaum said will go live in September.
“It’s exciting we have 6,255 numbers in the computer so far. I’m confident we will have a vast majority a part of the system,” he said. “Messages can go to a voicemail box, answering machine and received by text messaging.”
Although faculty, staff and students may enter a landline phone number into the program, Bitterbaum said most gave cell phone numbers.
“Today, it’s rare a student doesn’t have a cell phone,” he said.
This new technology will accompany other older methods Cortland has used to share information in the past such as its Web site, e-mail and the emergency blue light system set up around the campus.
The blue light system is available for students to use in case of an emergency. Students can press a button that will alert the University Police of trouble.
TC3 is also launching the messaging system.
“We have the text message notification system, which is optional,” said Robert Ross, dean of college services at TC3. “So far we have 650 students signed up and more will as they come on campus and learn about the option.”
For TC3, the messaging system will be used alongside its public address system. As a result of its smaller size, TC3 has had success with its PA system.
Now, SUNY Cortland has figured out a way to install a system such as the one at TC3. The school designed eight zones on campus, where 22 speakers will be set up.
Bitterbaum said the PA system could be used to send oral alarms or make announcements. The speakers could also be used in each zone separately or together.
Instead of a new PA system, TC3 has significantly expanded television surveillance both inside and outside residence, academic and athletic buildings, Ross said.
He added that the TV systems are Web enabled, which allows law enforcement to see what is happening on the monitors wherever they have Internet access.
TC3 is also creating assigned e-mail addresses to all incoming students.
“They used to just have whatever they came in with,” Ross said.
The assigned e-mail will allow TC3 to send out announcements easier.
TC3 is also increasing the size and type of its security staff.
“We are taking our security staff and bumping it up to peace officer status. This will give us the ability to investigate and make arrests,” Ross said. “This will take some time to implement. We will phase the peace officer status in over the next year.”
Ross said making the switch from security officer status to peace officer status has been contemplated for a while.
“(Virginia Tech) is not the only reason for the switch, but it encouraged us to take action and move forward with it,” Ross said.
TC3 is adding two officers and one supervisor to its current five-member staff. Ross said the additional staff is being added due to the school’s expansion.
He said it is still unknown whether the officers will be armed. Dialogue will take place when faculty returns.




Classic cars on Village Green

Annual Homer Cruisin’ on the Green brings it back to the 1950s

Staff Reporter

HOMER — The Village Green resembled the set of a 1950’s movie Saturday evening, with rows of colorful antique cars parked side by side, ’50’s music playing in the background and little girls dancing to music in poodle skirts.
Antique car owners and residents walked around, checking out more than 50 cars on display at the annual Cruisin’ on the Green car show and sock hop.
The event, sponsored by the Homer Recreation Department, has been held six times in the last seven years; last year it was rained out.
McGraw residents Pete Falso, 70, and Barb Falso, 69, stood before their red 1941 Ford coupe, which was full of Betty Boop memorabilia.
Pete Falso said his hobby restoring antique cars began after his children were grown and out of the house. Since then he’s bought and fixed up more than 10 different cars.
“He has a short interest span,” said Barb Falso, teasing her husband.
Homer residents Connie Compagni, 50, and her husband, Fred, 55, had his-and-hers cars on display.
Connie Compagni’s was a red 1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1 and Fred Compagni’s was a turquoise 1966 Pontiac LeMans.
Fred Compagni, who fixes up the cars himself, said he loves driving his car to the antique show and on short trips around town. “I feel like I’m young,” he said.
Cindy Ryan, a Cortlandville resident and oldies disc jockey, started the event seven years ago after discussing the idea with members of the Cortland Antique Automobile Club.
“They said, ‘We should get together more often,’” Ryan said. “I just thought that this was an ideal setting.”
Mick Lowie, a 53 year-old Cortland resident in charge of the CNY Mustang & All Ford Club, many of whose members go to similar events weekly, said the event gives a reason to drive and show off antique cars.
“That’s what were really looking for,” he said.
Lowie had driven his yellow 1967 Mustang Fastback to the event.
Jim Ferris, 33, and his wife, Molly, 31, had walked their son, Riley, 19 months, down to the Village Green from their James Street home to give Riley a new experience. He was clearly enjoying himself, moving his head all around to take in all the cars and pointing to some and saying “car.”
“He really wants to get in the cars but that doesn’t work too well,” Molly Ferris said.
Around 7:45 p.m., a little more than an hour after the event had begun, a few girls dressed in poodle skirts danced to the ’50’s music. The girls — Jenna McMullin, 7, Rachel Crompton, 8, both of Cortland, and Olivia Harrington, 7, of Homer — said they all bought their outfits for Olivia’s ’50’s-style birthday at a bowling alley a couple of years ago.
“They didn’t even talk about it beforehand and they all got dressed up,” said Rachel Crompton’s mother, Lori.




Groton full of festivities at Olde Home Days

Staff Reporter

GROTON — Jodi Metcalf and friends sponsored Ryan Harriott for a mechanical riding bull contest at the Groton Olde Home Days on Saturday.
Metcalf said it was better that Harriott up there than her.
“I know better,” said Metcalf, 44, of Groton.
Metcalf, Harriott, a 29-year-old Groton resident, and their friends were among hundreds of people who showed up to the 74th annual Groton Olde Home Days Thursday through Sunday.
The celebration, which took place throughout downtown Groton and had a Wild West theme, had a long list of attractions, including adventure, shopping, food, history, music and art. It also raised money for various causes in the village of Groton.
The bull riding was a first for the Groton Olde Home Days, said Vicki Lewis, chairwoman of the committee that organized the event, adding to the thrill already offered by the event’s carnival rides and games.
The $10 raised from each bull ride, $5 raised from each picture sold of someone on the bull and $12 raised from each sale of a T-shirt saying “I survived the bull” are going to the committee for the Groton Olde Home Days, Lewis said.
She said organizers have yet to count the proceeds.
On Saturday on the other side of the village people enjoyed calmer pursuits, such as searching for good deals on books and sheet music at a book sale put on by the Groton Public Library in the fire station. Emma Davis, 18, of Moravia, discovered a deal on sheet music for flute.
“These are usually $10 a piece and they’re like 10 cents,” she said.
Approximately 240 boxes of books were on sale. The fundraiser brought in $1,700 for the library, $500 more than last year, said Christine Griffin, president of the library’s board of trustees, this morning.
The money will most likely be used for new DVDs and books on compact disc, she said.
“It’s a growing department so I think that’s what we decided,” she said.
Just upstairs from the book sale, on the station’s second floor, a pancake breakfast was raising money for a fire station renovation fund.
Flo Allen, a Groton resident and department treasurer and ambulance captain for the Groton Fire Department, said the department would like to make its doors higher and wider so costly specialty trucks do no have to be ordered, make the building handicapped-accessible and make the banquet room bigger.
Allen said the $600 raised Saturday will contribute toward the $2 million dollars the department needs to do the project.
Businesses participating in sidewalk sales offered shoppers an array of free services. One of the shoppers, Tiphanie French, 19, of Locke, jumped at the chance to have her hair put into two French braids by Sam Smith, a 19-year-old hairstylist at Loretta’s Shear Excellence on Main Street.
“I love my hair braided,” French said. “My aunt used to always do it.”
Many children walking down the street, including 9-year-old Ithaca resident Ben Rooney, donned cowboy outfits to go along with the event’s theme. “I got it for a birthday present,” Rooney said of his outfit, which included a cowboy hat, cowboy boots, chaps and a vest.
Around 11:30 a.m. Rooney and his grandmother Edith Cooper 59, of Freeville, stopped by Martha’s Place, a specialty shop that opened at 160 Main St. in April, to enter a costume contest for kids.
Groton Olde Home Days Committee Chairwoman Lewis said Saturday afternoon she was happy with how the event had turned out up until that point, even though rain on Thursday and Friday evenings had caused events to end early.
She said she hopes that next year the committee can add balloon rides to the event’s repertoire, something the event had when she was a child.



Magazine ranks SUNY Cortland in top 100

SUNY Cortland was ranked for the first time among the top 100 master’s degree granting colleges and universities in the region by U.S. News & World Report.
The magazine’s annual ranking is included in the Aug. 27 edition now on newsstands.
SUNY Cortland tied with four other colleges for the 70th position among the top 100 master’s-degree granting U.S. higher education institutions in the North in a U.S. News & World Report list.
“It’s very nice to be on the list,” said Jennifer Wilson, assistant director of public relations. She noted that because there were several of the 100 institutions that tied, there were 85 ranks.
“When I arrived here four years ago, I realized how outstanding a faculty and staff we have here and that these are young people who are really going to make an outstanding difference in the world,” SUNY Cortland President Erik J. Bitterbaum said in a prepared statement. “In essence, U.S. News has caught up with what we have known all along: we’re a really marvelous institution.”
Bitterbaum could not be reached this morning for additional comment.
While SUNY Cortland made the magazine’s list for the first time this year, it has been ranked highly by other publications in recent years.
In January, Kiplinger’s included the college among its 100 Best Values in Public Colleges for 2007. The college was ranked 97th based on academic quality, cost and financial aid. The college was also ranked one of the best buys by Consumer’s Digest, ranking 46th on the list of top 50 “best value” colleges in 2004 for public colleges and universities. Also on that list were SUNY Albany, SUNY Geneseo, SUNY Stony Brook and SUNY Binghamton.
The list of best colleges in a report of the magazine’s 2008 edition of “America’s Best Colleges,” was released late last week. The report also ranked 100 master’s-level U.S. colleges and universities in the South, Midwest and West.
The other universities tying with SUNY Cortland in the 70th percentile were Philadelphia University, Roberts Wesleyan College, Western New England College in Massachusetts and Wilkes University in Pennsylvania.
The weekly national news magazine has published the “America’s Best Colleges” edition for 25 years.
“The annual rankings, in which U.S. News & World Report groups schools based on categories created by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, provide an unmatched resource for parents and students contemplating one of life’s most challenging financial decisions,” wrote U.S. News & World Report.
The country’s higher educational institutions also were ranked by best national universities, best liberal arts colleges, best baccalaureate colleges (by region), best undergraduate business programs, best undergraduate engineering programs, schools with a specialty, debt load for the Class of 2006, racial and economic diversity, programs to look for, and great schools at great prices.
The report by U.S. News & World Report compiled the master’s degree ranking for institutions that provide a full range of undergraduate and master’s programs but offer few, if any, doctoral programs.
Its rankings were based on 2006 data that measured peer assessment, freshman retention rate, graduation rate, class size, student/faculty ratio, full time faculty percentage, percentage of high SAT and ACT scores, quality of accepted freshmen, freshman acceptance rate, and alumni giving rate.
The complete report can be found on the U.S. News & World Report Web site.