September 12, 2007


Sixth anniversary of 9/11 observed at SUNY ceremony


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
SUNY Cortland students Ronald Peifer, left, and Alejandro Zapata, comfort one another following a 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony in Corey Union Tuesday night. The two students were the only students who took the opportunity to speak. Peifer’s father is a Captain in the NYPD,  while Zapata’s uncle, also with NYPD, died in the attack in 2001.

Staff Reporter

CORTLAND — Alejandro Zapata was in seventh grade in Queens when he watched two planes crash into the Twin Towers from the classroom window.
The 18-year-old, now a freshman at SUNY Cortland, stood up at the sixth annual Remembrance Ceremony at the college and spoke about his experience.
“I saw everything,” he said with tears in his eyes. “And I lost an uncle who saved seven people. I’m proud to have someone that brave in my family.”
Zapata’s uncle was a sergeant for the New York City Police Department.
Six years ago, people around the world watched in shock the horror of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, from their windows and their television screens.
The scene of two planes crashing into the twin towers in lower Manhattan is a sight that has been replayed over and over in memories, in pictures and in the news media.
“Over the past six year I have revisited in my mind’s eye, the five block area in lower Manhattan,” SUNY Cortland President Erik Bitterbaum said, at Tuesday night’s Remembrance Ceremony. “I listened to the voices of Americans who spoke of their dead, their loved ones.”
SUNY Cortland has held a ceremony each year since Sept. 11 to remember those lives lost in the terrorist attacks
Hundreds of students filled Corey Union as a bell rang at 9:11 p.m. and three candles were lit in commemoration of the planes that went down.
“On that morning six year ago, all of our lives were changed forever,” said Tanya Abilock, co-coordinator of multicultural life at SUNY Cortland.
Kassim Kone, an associate professor for the sociology and anthropology department, spoke of the effect of the attacks on his life.
“Being Muslim post 9/11 is a lot of burden to carry. I think I was blessed enough to be in this country and having met kindness all over,” he said. “Tonight we meet here to remember the tragic events that opened the eyes of the whole world. One way to remember is to pray for those lost. Another is to wipe away tears. The best way to remember is to keep them in living memory.”
Seven SUNY Cortland alumni who lost their lives that day were also honored at the ceremony. A bell was rung as each name was read aloud.
Their professions included investment bankers in the towers and firefighters.
Before the closing remarks, the students stood and joined to sing “America the Beautiful.”
“As we join here together tonight, let us remember one thing,” said Aaron Marsh, student government president. “Although America came together six years ago, we must continue to come together every day. America’s spirit has and will continue to prevail over this tragedy.”



Price rises for County Courthouse renovations

Staff Reporter

Cortland County has until March 31 to “substantially complete” the second phase of renovations of the County Courthouse or else it risks losing state funds for the project, the county Legislature’s General Services Committee learned Tuesday.
Phase II of the courthouse renovation, which will renovate the space on the third-floor of the building recently vacated by the law library, will cost roughly $520,000 said Russ Oechsle, district executive of the Sixth Judicial District.
That cost was initially intended to be entirely state funded, Oechsle said, but roughly $40,000 in needed heating, ventilation and air conditioning work was not included in the original cost analysis, and that work is not eligible for full state reimbursement.
Additionally, because the motor vehicles office has not yet been moved out of the courthouse, the county will need to fund temporary renovations to make space for departments in flux during the renovations, County Administrator Scott Schrader said.
Schrader estimated after the meeting that the cost of the temporary renovations — which would involve moving the County Clerk’s Office into the neighboring Records Office on the first floor and moving the District Attorney into the Clerk’s Office — would be approximately $15,000.
Schrader told the committee that the county’s architects had presented plans that called for the county spending between $100,000 and $300,000 on temporary renovations, but said he felt a simpler solution could be reached.
The committee agreed that Schrader should attempt to come up with a more cost-effective solution.
“I just think it’s foolish to spend money like that to renovate and then turn around and renovating again,” said Legislator John Daniels (D-Cortlandville).
Schrader drew his $15,000 cost estimate from the two far more broad architectural plans.
“The big thing is getting a counter in there for the clerk, and some of the general stuff. We probably shouldn’t worry about new carpeting and finishing at this point,” Schrader said.
The Records Office will eventually become the permanent home of the county clerk, while the district attorney will eventually have renovated consolidated space on the first floor of the courthouse.



County may study energy use

Staff Reporter

The county will undergo an energy audit this fall to determine if wholesale changes to lighting, heating and other energy uses in its buildings could save money.
Dave Laney, a representative of the New York Power Authority, told the Legislature’s General Services Committee Tuesday that Cortland County had been identified by NYPA as a municipality with potential in terms of saving on energy costs.
“Just looking at the age of the buildings, the type of lighting … you could have a potential energy project here,” Laney said.
Laney outlined the process through which NYPA would do a full evaluation of the county’s energy resources, looking at lighting, heating, air-conditioning and ventilation, motors and other energy users in county buildings.
If the county goes forward with the project, NYPA would bankroll the needed changes, which the county would need to pay back with interest, Laney said, but it is not obligated to go through with the changes.
“In good faith, if we deliver something economical for the county, we’d expect you to proceed … but you don’t have to,” he said.
NYPA considers any energy project that will pay for itself in savings within 10 years a worthwhile project, Laney said.
Noting that Cortland County spends a little less than $800,000 annually on energy, he said that NYPA averages about 20 percent in annual savings for its clients, meaning the county could hypothetically save $160,000 per year.