September 13, 2007


IDA-BDC’s head to direct CNY economic development

Lina Hartsock will begin working for Empire State Development Sept. 24 while still living in Homer.


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Linda Hartsock poses in her office Wednesday after announcing she is leaving the Cortland IDA-BDC.

Staff Reporter

CORTLAND — Cortland County’s economic development leader announced Wednesday she will be leaving her position to take on a similar but broader post with a state economic development agency.
Linda Hartsock will begin work as regional director of Empire State Development’s Central New York office Sept. 24.
Her last day as executive director of the county’s Business Development Corp./Industrial Development Agency, a position she has held since 1999, will be Sept. 21.
Hartsock’s annual salary at the BDC-IDC is $77,200 this year. Her salary at Empire State Development will be $110,000.
Hailed by BDC-IDA Chairman Paul Slowey as “Cortland’s best cheerleader” during her tenure at the agency, Hartsock said she plans to continue to live in Homer, and hopes to continue to advocate for the county from her new position, which oversees, along with Cortland County, Cayuga, Oswego, Onondaga and Madison counties.
“I think if there’s one thing I want people to know, it’s that everything I’ve said about Cortland, all the enthusiasm, I truly believe all of it,” Hartsock said. “Our whole family changed our life to come here and we love it here … I hope (in the new position) to give Cortland a bigger and better voice at the state level.”
Slowey said Wednesday that he was in the process of forming a search committee, made up of BDC/IDA members and other community leaders, to find a replacement for Hartsock.
Karen Niday, the current Empire Zone coordinator for the county, will serve as interim director, Slowey said.
“I think our agency is in great shape and Karen is fully equipped to handle things day to day … I don’t feel at all desperate, or anything like that, to have somebody to fill her shoes immediately,” Slowey said, adding that having someone hired by early December and able to start work by early January would be a reasonable goal. “(Hartsock has) helped us create a great infrastructure here, now we have to continue to build it.”
Both Slowey and Hartsock noted that the search committee might look for a replacement with significant experience as a real estate or industrial developer.
The BDC/IDA is developing the 260-acre Finger Lakes East business park on Route 13 in South Cortland, and is looking at promoting and developing similar parks in Polkville and Preble.
Hartsock noted that a strategic plan developed recently by the BDC/IDA, which stressed the development of business parks and further real estate development for businesses, could serve as a template for what the search committee is looking for in a candidate.
“Talk about great timing,” Hartsock said of the strategic plan, which was developed this summer. “I think based on that we may be looking for someone with a strong real estate or industrial development background.”
Both Hartsock and Slowey said they expected candidates for the position to emerge from across the state.
“Our agency has sort of become a role model throughout the state, so I don’t think we’re going to be at a loss for qualified candidates,” Slowey said.
In her new position, Hartsock said she would be doing similar work to what she’s done at the BDC/IDA, “organizing people, business outreach, connecting businesses programs New York state has to offer,” albeit on a more regional scale.
“What I like about this group and the new agenda they’re shaping for upstate New York is the focus not just on traditional economic development but on community development, on building places,” Hartsock said. “Anyone who’s talked to me knows I really believe that more and more people are making life decisions based on the communities themselves.”
Before taking her current job in Cortland, Hartsock worked as president and chief executive officer at Patten for Progress in Newburgh, a nine-county regional planning, research, policy and development organization.
She also served on the faculty of Marist College in Poughkeepsie, her alma mater, in the School of Communication and Arts from 1986 to 1999.
From 1982 through 1993 she was senior consultant for Wade Associates in Hyde Park. She worked as director of college relations/information services at Marist College from 1977 to 1982.



County continues search for psychiatrist

Legislature will consider second contract with employment agency to fill job temporarily

Staff Reporter

Still lacking a full-time psychiatrist at its Department of Mental Health, Cortland County is now considering settling for a temporary doctor to fill a glaring need.
The Legislature’s Health Committee voted Wednesday to support a second contract with an employment agency, this time to provide a temporary psychiatrist for the department’s clinic on Grant Street.
The contract would pay the doctor provided by Georgia-based employment agency a daily rate of between $125 and $200, depending on the doctor’s experience and specialties.
The contract also requires the county to pay a fee of $50 for every calendar day that the doctor is employed by the county.
Should the temporary psychiatrist eventually be offered a full-time position, which the committee was hopeful would happen, the county would owe LocumTenens $28,000 for recruiting the candidate.
That aspect of the agreement is unchanged from the original agreement with LocumTenens, which was for the provision of a nontemporary, full-time candidate.
That first agreement with LocumTenens yielded just one candidate, said Mike Kilmer, director of administrative services for the department.
“It was an individual who couldn’t see children, and he needed a visa waiver — he just wasn’t a fit,” Kilmer said.
Kilmer told the committee that the need for a psychiatrist is growing increasingly dire with the Oct. 1 resignation of Dr. Susan Watrous, who had delayed resigning from the county’s Horizon House day treatment facility in order to assist the department.
Watrous has been working one-day a week for the department, serving as the doctor signing off on treatment plans developed by the department’s clinicians.
She also serves as the physician collaborator for the department’s psychiatric nurse practitioner, allowing the nurse practitioner to see patients.
Kilmer said he was considering applying for a waiver from the state Office of Mental Health that would allow patients’ primary care physicians, untrained in psychiatry, to sign off on treatment plans.
“I can’t even say how thankful we are to all the physicians that have stepped up, even though they might be uncomfortable, to help people get their medications,” Kilmer said.
Primary care physicians have been asked by the department to write prescriptions for psychiatric medications in the absence of a staff psychiatrist.



TC3 weighing whether officers will carry guns

Special committee looking at the issue may have its first meeting Wednesday

Staff Reporter

DRYDEN — A committee of approximately 15 people will begin talking next week about the feasibility of arming peace officers at Tompkins Cortland Community College.
TC3 President Carl Haynes said the committee is made up of a cross section of the campus, including students and faculty from various departments.
The committee’s first meeting is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday.
Until now, security officers at TC3 enforced college rules and regulations, and called local law enforcement agencies, including the Sheriff’s Office and State Police, for any criminal acts that occurred on campus.
In June, the TC3 board of trustees approved expanding campus security with peace officers. Campus will soon be patrolled by a mix of security officers and peace officers, who have law enforcement power.
Louis Battisti, manager of the safety and security office at TC3, said two positions will be filled this fall and two more in the spring. Existing security officers have the first opportunity for the positions, he said, and can take an 11-week training course to qualify.  Battisti added that it has not been determined whether the campus will move to change all officer jobs to peace officers in the future.
TC3 has had four security officer positions, and those will remain after the peace officer jobs are added. The peace officers will begin patrolling once they are hired.
Battisti said the job description and salary for the peace officer positions are still being worked out by Tompkins County.
Battisti, who is on the committee, said he thinks it is important to arm the peace officers.
“Once we move forward with the peace officers, our department will have jurisdiction over the housing on campus,” he said. “It’s an important tool for the peace officers.”
Campus housing is now supervised by contracted security officers, who also have to call local law enforcement if something happens.
When peace officers are implemented, the college will get rid of the contracted security officers and use the peace officers to patrol the housing.




Developer moving forward with suit against city

John Del Vecchio will also be in court over  garage demolition without a permit.

Staff Reporter

Local developer John Del Vecchio plans to file a lawsuit against the city sometime next week over delays in approval of an apartment complex, and he will be in court Sept. 24 defending a demolition he performed without a city permit.
Both actions stem from his proposed development of 19 W. Court St., which has been stalled with the city Planning Commission since it was first reviewed by that board at the end of March.
Del Vecchio said he and his attorney are preparing an Article 78 lawsuit, which he plans to file against the city by Wednesday.
When the apartment development was first proposed at the County Planning Board on Feb. 15, it sparked a public outcry against the development of an apartment complex that would house up to 30 tenants — presumably students — at the base of a predominantly residential neighborhood.
Since then, the Planning Commission and Del Vecchio have gone back and forth without reaching much consensus. Del Vecchio revised his plans several times, including cutting the number of units in the project by nearly half. But the commission continued to send him back to the drawing board, unhappy with the size of the project.
The project now stands at nine three-bedroom units with a potential for 27 students. Three existing apartments in the main building are currently rented to college students, and Del Vecchio is proposing the construction of a separate six-unit building in place of the former garage.
The code department has stated that the project is allowable in the residential district zoned R-4.
The lawsuit will request the Planning Commission reconsider its conclusion that the project would have a significant environmental impact based on the reasoning that allowing the development of the apartment complex behind a 1920s era home would set a major precedent.
Del Vecchio and his lawyer contend there would be no precedent set by allowing a development that complies with the requirements of the city zoning district.
If that fails, Del Vecchio said he would pursue a lawsuit based on what he feels was an “arbitrary and capricious” review by the commission.



Info on STAR school tax rebate coming

Applications for the state program expected to soon arrive in mailboxes.

Staff Reports
Residents in Cortland, Madison and Tompkins counties should be finding applications in their mailboxes soon for the Middle Class STAR Rebate program.
The state Department of Taxation and Finance mailed the applications Sept. 4.
Residents in Cayuga County should already have their letters, as mailing started the week of Aug. 27 and was completed by Aug. 31.
The state is sending out the applications for the one-time school tax rebates in various areas of the state at different times.
The letters to homeowners contain a six-digit STAR property tax code, which is needed for the application process.
Residents can apply online at, which is expected to be the quickest way to receive a rebate.
Applications are due no later than Nov. 30.
The rebate received is based on the property tax burden and the taxpayers’ ability to pay.
For example, homeowners living in a household in the city of Cortland making a combined income of up to $90,000 would receive a rebate amount of $342.01.
Those earning more than $250,000 would receive no rebate.
Residents can also calculate the amount of their rebate, based on the municipality, the school district, the county in which they reside and their salary or salaries.
The rebate program was created in the 2007-08 state budget.
Seniors age 65 and older who receive enhanced STAR exemptions do not need to apply. These homeowners get their STAR rebate checks automatically.
Letters to other eligible homeowners throughout the state runs through the end of September.