September 27, 2007


Taylor bridge to be on National Register

Town Line Road truss bridge built in 1888 will be eligible for state restoration grants


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer  
An historic bridge in Taylor spans the Otselic River on Town Line Road. The board of the state Historic Preservation Office recommended at its Sept. 12 quarterly meeting that the bridge be placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The bridge is expected to receive the designation by December.

Staff Reporter

TAYLOR — A rare bridge is on its way to being placed on the National Register of Historic Places, making it eligible for state funding for restoration.
The board of the state Historic Preservation Office recommended at its Sept. 12 quarterly meeting that the bridge, which is off Route 26 on Town Line Road and crosses over the Otselic River, be placed on the list.
The state Historic Preservation commissioner is expected to approve the recommendation within the next few weeks, followed by the commissioner in Washington, D.C., within six weeks after that, said Tony Opalka, historic sites coordinator for the state Historic Preservation Office.
The bridge, which is 85 feet long and owned by the town, should officially be on the register by December, Opalka said.
Cathy Jimenez, spokeswoman for the state Historic Preservation Office, said the bridge is a lenticular span metal truss bridge that was built in 1888.
Lenticular truss bridges are characterized by their vertical compression, diagonal tension, curved top, bottom chords and iron construction that is pinned or bolted together, said Patricia Johnston, head of the Taylor Historical Society, who applied for the bridge to be placed on the historic register in 2005.
Only 13 such bridges are known to exist in New York state, Opalka said, although they were very common at the end of the 19th century.
“(People) felt they were not worth keeping, especially because the bridge is pretty small — one lane wide,” he said. “For a horse and carriage they would be fine, but as vehicles got heavier they became obsolete in most cases and they were removed.”
Johnston said the bridge in Taylor, which has deteriorated over the years, was shut down to cars at the end of the 1980s.
In the early 1990s it was deemed unusable for pedestrians and bicyclists, though people still cross over it sometimes, she said.
She said it would be nice if the bridge could be preserved and made safe for pedestrians and bicyclists. Johnston said she has no idea how much it would cost to restore the bridge.
Before the bridge can be restored it needs to be inspected by an engineer, who can determine what work needs to be done and even if it is feasible to save the bridge, Johnston said.
The town will likely apply for funding through the state Historic Preservation Office to pay for the inspection, she said. She does not know how much an inspection would cost.
The town can then apply for funding through the state Historic Preservation Office to preserve the bridge.
Jimenez said in 2006 her office had 145 applications for historical preservation-related grants and that of those, 53 projects were awarded funding totaling $10.8 million.
Being on the National Register of Historic Places will bring the bridge and the town national recognition, Johnston said.
“More people will be aware of it, so they can come look at it” she said of the bridge. “It might bring more tourism to the town of Taylor.”
People coming from Cortland can get to the bridge by taking Route 41 South, followed by Route 26 North; then by turning right on Town Line Road. The road stops where the bridge is, and then starts up again on the other side of the bridge.
The part of the road connected to Route 26 has a handful of houses, a farm and a greenhouse, and connects with Factory Drive, said Town Clerk Marie Peri.
The part of Town Line Road west of the bridge mostly has pastures, she said.
Opalka said about 3,000 properties in New York state are on the National Register of Historic places. Some of those properties, such as downtown Cortland’s historic district, have hundreds of historical listings, while others have just one.
Johnston said the town of Taylor already has its Congregational Church on the register, which was added to the list in 2003.
The church was built in 1850 and has Greek early Gothic Revival arches, stain glass windows and a Greek Revival steeple.
Johnston said it has been difficult finding potential funding for the church, which needs steeple work, work to the roof, painting and work on the stained glass windows, because the Union Valley Cemetery Association owns it.
The cemetery, a nonprofit, does not have the right nonprofit status for getting funding, she said.



CDC says 21 may be sick from hamburgers

Two cases in N.Y. confirmed linked to frozen ground beef

From staff and wire reports
The Tompkins County Health Department said this morning that there is a single case of E. coli contamination in that county, but could not confirm whether or not it is connected to hamburgers recalled nationwide by their manufacturer.
Twenty-one people in eight states may have fallen ill after eating hamburgers possibly contaminated with E. coli bacteria, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.
CDC spokeswoman Lola Russell said three cases — two in New York and one in Florida — are confirmed as being linked to the ground beef, with the other 18 cases possibly linked and under investigation.
No one has died, but Russell said she had no additional information on the cases.
Theresa Lyzco, director of the Health Promotion Program at the Tompkins County Health Department, said, “the state health department did notify us that there was a case of E. Coli in Tompkins County, and that is something that they would always do.”
Details on the patient’s age, gender, and location could not be released because of patient confidentiality, Lyzco said.
The county Health Department will investigate to determine if the contamination has spread to other individuals, Lyzco said, and local health service providers have been told to be on the lookout for symptoms associated with the bacteria.
This morning, Cortland County Health Department Environmental Health Director Audrey Lewis said she was unaware of any reported cases of E. coli in Cortland County.
Elizabeth, N.J.-based Topps Meat Co. on Tuesday announced a recall of boxes of frozen hamburgers it distributed. The recall affects 331,582 pounds of frozen beef patties and 21 products that were distributed nationwide, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Topps said.
Russell and USDA spokeswoman Amanda Eamich said the illnesses were reported in Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
In Florida, an attorney for a 15-year-old Fort Lauderdale girl filed suit against Wal-Mart, alleging the girl suffered kidney failure in August after eating a hamburger patty tainted with E. coli that her mother bought at Wal-Mart. The beef patties had been manufactured by Topps, the suit alleges.
Lawyer Scott J. Schlesinger said his client, Samantha Safranek, was hospitalized for three weeks in August and nearly died from the infection, which he said caused her kidney failure as well as intense pain and cramping, diarrhea, fatigue and dehydration.
An after-hours message seeking comment from Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart was not immediately returned on Wednesday.
E. coli causes intestinal illness that generally clears up within a week for adults but can be deadly for the very young, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems. Symptoms can include severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea and, in extreme cases, kidney failure.
Topps spokeswoman Cortney McMahon said officials continue working to find the cause of the infection.
“That investigation is still ongoing,” McMahon said. “Topps is going to fully cooperate with the USDA.”
Contaminated burgers were found in one New York victim’s home freezer by health officials.
The boxes recalled carry the number “Est. 9748” inside the USDA mark of inspection and were produced on June 22, July 12 or July 23, the USDA said.
The recalled products included certain 10-pound boxes of Butcher’s Best 100% All Beef Patties; certain 10-pound boxes of Kohler Foods burgers; certain 10-pound boxes of Sand Castle Fine Meat; some 2-pound boxes of Topps 100% Pure Ground Beef Hamburgers; and some 3-pound boxes of Topps 100% Pure Ground Beef Hamburgers.


Health Dept. schedules flu vaccination clinic

Staff Reporter

After several years of ringing their hands over delayed shipments of flu vaccinations, county health officials have received their full request of vaccinations, ahead of schedule.
Because the county Health Department received its full shipment of 1,650 vaccination doses in late August — in previous years shipments have been delayed into late November — the department has scheduled a clinic for Oct. 15, deputy director Mary Jane Uttech said Wednesday.
“Every year before this we’ve scheduled clinics in October and every year it seems like, we’ve had to cancel them,” Uttech said. “So this year we went ahead and scheduled them for November, and wouldn’t you know it, we get the vaccine at the end of August.”
The delays in recent years have been attributed to problems in the manufacture of vaccine. The most significant came in 2004 when the British government suspended the license of Chiron Corp., prohibiting the company from shipping nearly 50 million flu vaccine doses to the United States. The suspensions came after eight lots of vaccine were detected with bacteria contamination.
Uttech said that this year an additional manufacturer, increasing the number to four, is supplying the United States with vaccine, and that the strain of vaccine being produced this year has been developed very smoothly.
“Every year the strain changes, so they never know for sure how well or how quickly the strain will grow,” Uttech said. “This year’s strain though is very similar to last year, so they’ve had some experience growing it, and apparently it’s gone very smoothly.”
The Oct. 15 clinic will be held between 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. in the County Office Building auditorium and, unlike previous clinics open only to seniors, will be open to anyone over the age of 18.
The vaccinations will cost $20 apiece. Anyone covered by Medicare Managed Care or Medicaid is asked to seek vaccinations at their primary care providers as their shots are covered by their insurance, Uttech said.
While rumored shortages have alarmed seniors and health officials in the past, Uttech said the county has more than enough vaccinations this year.
“We’ve never run out of vaccine as far as I can remember … (but) they have enough vaccine that we’ve been assured if we want it, we can have it,” she said.
Appointments for free flu shots for uninsured or underinsured children, between the ages of 6 months and 18 years, can be made by contacting the Health Department at (607) 753-5203.




Towns risk insurance rise over fire depts.

Death of Harford firefighter in Tompkins County leads county to warn towns to seek mutual aid agreements to share liability.

Staff Reporter

The on-the-job death of a Harford firefighter in 2004 caused the town’s workers’ compensation insurance costs to skyrocket in 2007, a situation that county officials say should serve as a warning to other municipalities that have fire districts.
Local municipal leaders will be warned, at a meeting of the County, City, Towns, Villages, Schools Committee this evening, that towns should take steps to ensure that they are protected when emergency responders from those towns answer calls outside their borders.
Harford Deputy Fire Chief Brian Neff was killed in 2004 while answering a call in the town of Caroline in Tompkins County.
Due to that accident, the cost of Harford’s workers’ compensation insurance should have increased dramatically.
However, due to a payment error, the county for the past three years has been bearing the majority of the burden for the town, according to County Administrator Scott Schrader.
“In 2004, 2005 and 2006 that accident was factored into the county’s overall assessment,” Schrader said.
That error has been corrected and, while it will not be docked for past years’ expenses incurred by the county, the town will see a $13,600 increase in its insurance costs to a payment of $25,161 to the county for this year, Schrader told the county Personnel Committee earlier this month.
The county is self-insured for workers’ compensation claims, and allows towns and villages such as Harford to pay into its program for protection.
The amount each town pays is based on an equal split of its overall property assessment and its recent history of workers’ compensation claims.
Because claims throughout the county have been down in recent years, the overall cost of the insurance will drop by about $241,000 to $1.3 million, including a $177,000 savings for the county and a $20,000 savings for the city, Schrader reported.
Only Harford and the village of McGraw, which saw a minimal increase of $800, saw an increase in their payment for 2007.



City school board hires firm to plan $30 million renovation

Staff Reporter

The city Board of Education approved hiring Bovis Lend Lease as its construction management firm for $20,000 Tuesday night to provide pre-referendum services for an anticipated $30 million building project.
The services will include developing project cost estimates and material for the public, including schematics showing what work is to be done. Bovis will work with the school’s architect and engineers, Hunt Engineers, until the public vote on the project. The board plans to hold a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 16 to discuss what to include in a $30 million building project.
Superintendent of Schools Laurence Spring said Hunt Engineers will have revised information for review at that time. He said the board will begin the prioritization process at this meeting.
Steve Somogy, architect and principal of Hunt Engineers, presented three separate projects to the board Aug. 21. All projects were estimated at around $30 million.
The first project dealt with safety, code issues and infrastructure repairs; the second one dealt with instructional technology and renovations designed to improve instruction, and the third included “wish list items” such as new additions and improving playing fields.
The district hoped to set up a public vote on the project by the end of the calendar year, but Spring said the vote would likely not happen until spring. He said this would not change the expected completion of the project before school starts in the fall of 2011. He said he expected the project to begin about 18 months after the public vote.
This project would follow a $17.9 million building construction and renovation project, voted on in 1996.