August 31, 2007


Realigned Clute Road taking shape

New road will intersect with Route 392 at a 90-degree angle

Clute Road

Bob Ellis/staff photographer    
Vincent Siragusa, right, and Jordan Haines, of Diamond Site Development in Medford, do site work Thursday afternoon in the area where a  reconfigured Clute Road will eventually connect with Route 392, across from Greek Peak ski resort in Virgil. Work is expected to be done by the end of September.

Staff Reporter

VIRGIL — The project to realign Clute Road is well underway, with work expected to wrap up by the end of September.
Crews from Long-Island-based D.F. Stone Contracting began work at the beginning of the month, said Tom Pelis, an engineer for Greek Peak resort.
Pelis is helping town Highway Superintendent John Morse oversee the project.
Crews have roughed out the path of the new road, Pelis said, with the exception of where it intersects with the current road and where it intersects with Route 392.
The new road will intersect with Route 392 at a 90-degree angle just across from the exit of Greek Peak’s parking lot. The current road intersects Route 392 at a sharp angle 600 feet west of where the new intersection will be.
Within the next two to three weeks they will connect the new road with the current Clute Road by extending the new road 250 feet to the north. Around the same time crews will put in 6-foot wide shoulders on both sides of the current Clute Road from the Thermopylae Drive to the start of the new Clute Road.
All that work will require a detour for up to a week, Pelis said.
The new road will break off about 600 feet north of Route 392 to the east, forming a 1,400-foot curve, which is designed to make the road less steep.
The cost of the approximately $515,000 project is being split between the town, which received a $330,000 state grant, and Greek Peak.
A detour is already underway, with Kypriotis Drive being closed on the west side to allow for construction of the new road. All cars must exit Kypriotis Drive by taking Beta Drive or Darius Drive to Arcadia Drive to Route 392.
The west part of Kypriotis Drive will reconnect to Clute Road and open up upon completion of the new road, Pelis said.
The project is still awaiting a state Department of Transportation work permit to allow for the connection of the new road with Route 392, as well as drainage measures in that area, Pelis said.
That should be in place by mid-September, he said.
Crews have excavated land near Route 392 to make way for two storm water detention ponds.
The pond to the west is complete, while the other needs to be enlarged, which will happen once a water line has been connected to the water system.
The line had to be relocated because otherwise it would have jutted out of the ground.
Another storm water detention pond will be constructed just east of the proposed entrance of Greek Peak’s hotel and conference center, but can’t happen until the new Clute Road is complete because it encroaches on the current Clute Road, Pelis said.
The ponds, a state Department of Environmental Conservation requirement, are constructed to improve storm water quality and reduce discharge rates.
Pelis said crews have installed a splitter basin at the northern and higher part of the new Clute Road. Whereas before all water would go through a swale into a culvert across Route 392, now half of that water will go to another culvert to the west.
Crews have also relocated a fire hydrant that was in the footprint of the new road, Pelis said.
The town highway department will pave the new road with oil and chip stone, including the 6-foot shoulders, which should take about a half a day.
The last step will be installation of a guardrail along the western side of Clute Road from Thermopylae Drive to Route 392.
Pelis said once the new Clute Road opens to the public, a barrier will be put up on Route 392 to block access to the part of the current Clute Road that won’t be used any more.
Sam Kryger, vice president of operations for Hope Lake Investors, said that part of the road was a town right of way. With its cessation as a road it is reverting back to its original owners, Hope Lake Investors.
Kryger said it is up to Al Kryger, president of Hope Lake Investors, to determine what is done with the old road. Al Kryger could not be reached for comment this morning.



Judge raps conflict attorney position

Calls impromptu press conference  in Family Court to air his views

Staff Reporter

CORTLAND — A county judge used a Family Court case as a platform Thursday to question the validity of the county’s newly formed Conflict Attorney Office. Defense attorneys called the venue inappropriate.
Judge William Ames questioned how the office is being administered and how cases are assigned. He said the problem is that the office is being administered by the Public Defender’s Office.
With news media on hand, at the invitation of Ames’ office, Ames addressed the mother and father sitting in the courtroom, whose case is at the center of the argument over the conflict attorney position.
“You’re probably saying, ‘How did I get dragged into this.’ It’s a complex issue. It’s a serious issue. Anything that has to be done has to be done in court and it’s your case,” Ames said.
The mother and father’s case became an issue when Ames pulled Conflict Attorney Tom Miller from representing the mother, and reassigned her case back to the Public Defenders’ Office.
Public Defender Keith Dayton said his office could not represent both clients and filed an Article 78 lawsuit against Ames in response.
Ames, who spoke for more than an  hour, expanded on his and fellow County Judge Julie Campbell’s reasoning for removing Miller from numerous Family Court cases.
“The way the plan is being administered through the Public Defender’s Office is illegal, even if it was created legally,” Ames said, citing a June 2006 letter from an administrative judge saying the program should not be administered by a public defender, judge or county attorney.
Ames said the court had received assignment letters on Public Defender stationery, that some assigned counsel letters were actually signed by Dayton and that assigned counsel administrator Lynette Manning answers her phone “Public Defender’s Office.”
Manning is responsible for assigning conflict cases from the Public Defender, both to Miller and to outside attorneys in an assigned counsel pool.
The administrative judge’s letter notes that assigned counsel should be entirely separate and independent from the public defender.
Miller, who has been on the job since Aug. 6, confirmed Thursday that a few assignment letters were sent to his office on public defender stationary, not assigned counsel administrator’s stationery.



Homer wins suit over police officer training costs

Staff Reporter

State Supreme Court Justice Phillip Rumsey last week upheld a ruling that a county police officer owes the village of Homer $9,500 for training costs prior leaving the Homer Police Department.
Rumsey’s decision, filed Aug. 23, effectively denied a motion by County Sheriff’s Department Police Officer Joshua Parente to overturn the judge’s initial decision against Parente in March.
Rumsey’s decision also settled a dispute between the village and the county over money owed by the county for hiring Parente away from the village, saying that the county did not have to add attorneys’ fees to the $12,600 it owes the village.
The ruling did not address a counterclaim from Parente requesting $9,200 in unpaid overtime, vacation time and travel costs from the village police
Parente’s attorney, Mary Rain, suggested Wednesday the counterclaim could turn into its own lawsuit. Rain also said Parente would appeal Rumsey’s decision not to reconsider his original ruling.
Rumsey’s most recent ruling stated Parente needed to show a reasonable excuse for not paying the village money owed in order for the judge to go back on his ruling from March.
Rain said the motion had been based on the fact that Parente was not given a chance to offer testimony in the case, and on a question of whether there truly was a contractual obligation on Parente’s part to repay the town.
“The judge made a ruling without, in my opinion, giving him his due process,” Rain said. “That’s what we’re going to ask the appellate division for.”




Radio stations to change owners tonight

Staff Reporter

CORTLANDVILLE — Today is WKRT’s last day as a news talk station.
Sam Bush, spokesman for Michigan-based Saga Communications, said his company is taking over the AM station, as well as FM sister station WIII, from Citadel Communications at midnight.
Saga Communications is purchasing the two stations, both based in Cortlandville, for $4 million, according to the FCC.
It will immediately donate WKRT-AM (920) to the Bible Broadcasting Station, a North Carolina-based nonprofit. The move is made to comply with the Federal Communications Commission’s multiple ownership rules.
Mike Raley, director of development for the Bible Broadcasting Station, said Wednesday the station will start broadcasting from WKRT’s office at 277 Tompkins St. in a month.
He declined to discuss anything else about the change.
WKRT’s Kevin Mooney, host of the Cortland-focused “Mooney in the Morning” talk show, will be going to WHCU-AM (870), a news, talk and sports radio station in Ithaca owned by Saga Communications.
Susan Johnston, general manager of Cayuga Radio Group, a local branch of Saga Communications that manages WHCU along with WNYY-AM (1470), WQNY-FM (103.7) and WYXL-FM (97.3), said Mooney will be hosting WHCU’s “Evening Newswatch” from 5 to 6 p.m. during the week starting Sept. 10.
His hosting job will include commentaries and feature news stories, Bush said. He will work along side Greg Fry, who is already on the program.
Johnston said Mooney will also be hosting the station’s “Saturday Morning Newswatch” from 7 to 9:30 a.m., replacing David Vieser, starting on Sept. 15.
Additionally, he will be doing reporting for all of the Cayuga Radio Group’s five stations.



Committee narrows search for DMV office to 4 sites

Final selection process will include public comment and thorough review; Legislature will look at options in Sept.

Staff Reporter

Legislators are taking a much more cautious tack as they seek a new location for the county’s motor vehicle office in the aftermath of the debacle surrounding the county’s efforts to purchase properties along south Main Street.
The full Legislature, at a still unscheduled special session in early September, will get its first look at a list of four potential sites for a new motor vehicles office, said Carol Tytler (D-3rd Ward), who chairs the county space needs committee that developed the list.
The Legislature will have the option of narrowing that list down before the county administrator would secure options on the remaining properties, locking in a price for each.
At that point, according to Tytler, the potential sites would be made public and would be subject to numerous public meetings before the Legislature would vote on any particular site.
“Clearly it’s a matter of learning from the south Main situation,” Tytler said. “All along we’ve wanted to do this very methodically, make sure all the legislators have all the information, and make sure the public has an opportunity for input before we actually vote.”
When the Legislature first voted in favor of purchasing nine parcels along south Main Street for $894,000 in December 2006, with the intent of building a Public Health Facility, some legislators community members complained they had not been informed of plans for the project.
The public outcry prompted the Legislature to reverse its decision in January, which led to lawsuits from some of the property owners involved in the deal, who claimed that the county had entered into a legally binding contract.