October 27, 2007


Cuyler man fires gun,  flees from police

Staff Reporter

CUYLER — A Cuyler man fired a gun and then fled from police after officers of the Cortland County Sheriff’s Department responded to a domestic dispute at 5399 Lincklaen Rd.
Police said the man, who’s name was not released, ran into the woods behind his home at approximately 3:29 a.m. today and was located by officers a few hours later.
Charges are pending further investigation.
No one at the Cortland County Sheriff’s Department was available to talk about the incident this morning.




Fire prompts quick action by DeRuyter student 

DeRuyter eighth-grader recognized for putting out flames that had engulfed his friend

Staff Reporter

DERUYTER — A DeRuyter eighth-grader received an award from the DeRuyter Fire Department Friday morning for saving a friend whose clothes caught fire in August.
Fifteen-year-old Robert Fellows was presented the award by Assistant Fire Chief Edwin Coon in front of an auditorium full of kindergarten- through eighth-graders at DeRuyter Central School.
It was the first time the department presented a student with a fire prevention award, Coon said, adding it was deserved.
“He didn’t panic.” Coon told the students, who had just been given to a half-hour talk about fire safety and prevention, and a description of Fellows’ good deed. “He used his head.”
Coon saved his friend, 13-year-old Solvay resident Sarah Perkins, when she was visiting him at his house in DeRuyter one weekend in August.
Perkins’ shirt caught fire as she leaned over a candle to reach for crayons. Because the shirt contained spandex, the fire quickly traveled to her skin beneath.
“Spandex burns like tissue paper,” Coon told the students during his presentation. “This was unknown to me. I didn’t know it burns that quick.”
It set her stomach area on fire and the majority of her lower back.
“I was in shock so I can’t really remember what happened after that,” Perkins said.
Fellows said he was playing on a PlayStation on the floor below Perkins when he heard her screaming. He ran up, saw she was on fire and smothered the fire with a costume dress that had been on the floor.
“I just did what I had to do,” Fellows said.
Fellows then called his neighbors, who were emergency medical services responders, and told them what had happened. They called 911, and then came over to moisten Perkins’ burn.
Coon, who also works for Smith Ambulance, was called to take care of Perkins. He drove an ambulance to Fellows’ house and put a cool wrap on Perkins.
He called University Hospital in Syracuse, the closest hospital that does skin grafting, to let them know a burn patient was on the way.



Court St. housing project suit heard

Staff Reporter

The attorneys for developer John Del Vecchio and the city appeared Friday in state Supreme Court to argue the lawsuit Del Vecchio filed in response to the city’s protracted review of his West Court Street apartment proposal.
Justice Phillip R. Rumsey did not render a decision and the attorneys — city attorney Larry Knickerbocker and Scott Chatfield of Marietta representing Del Vecchio — will submit by Nov. 9 briefs on two motions to dismiss the case, filed by Knickerbocker.
The civil action, filed by Del Vecchio and the Del Vecchio Family LLC on Sept. 24, seeks to compel the city Planning Commission to retract its decision that the project would set an important precedent if approved and would result in a potentially large environmental impact.
The project would expand the 1920s home of industrialist George Brockway at 19 W. Court St. from the existing three units to nine units, and would ultimately house 27 residents — likely college students — on the property.
Chatfield argued Friday that the approval of the project would not constitute an “important precedent” because it conforms to the city code and is an allowed use in the R-4 zoning district at the base of the college hill.
He also contended that the level of detail required by the commission over the nine months it was on the agenda was unprecedented, while other, similar projects were passed over during the course of two monthly meetings.
The public’s criticism of the project began shortly after it was first reviewed by the county Planning Board on Feb 15. The city Planning Commission first examined the project on March 26 and it was included on virtually every agenda for the commission’s monthly meetings until Sept. 25, when Chatfield and Del Vecchio presented the commissioners with a copy of the lawsuit and walked out of a meeting.
The Article 78 lawsuit is based upon the declaration of the commission, within the State Environmental Quality Review process, finding that the proposal would result in a major environmental impact if approved.
This determination would mean that Del Vecchio would be required to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement, which entails a detailed study of the potential impact.
Chatfield also asked Rumsey to consider the context swirling around the issue of city codes and zoning in recent months, including a now-defunct push for a moratorium on all new residential developments, an ongoing review of the city’s Code of Ordinances that would prevent projects like Del Vecchio’s, and the beginning of the compilation of a citywide master plan.




Meeting  to discuss staph infections

Staff Reporter

With more parents raising new concerns about a worrisome strain of staph infection, the Cortland County Health Department is holding a meeting Tuesday with area school officials.
Mary Jane Uttech, deputy director of the Heath Department, said the meeting is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Homer High School library.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, known as MRSA, has become a concern among school districts recently because it caused the deaths of a Brooklyn middle school student and high school senior in Virginia. Several students on Long Island have also been infected with it.
No cases have been reported in Cortland County.
Uttech said she has been in contact with all the districts in the county regarding the infection. She said at the meeting she expects school district representatives will include nurses, superintendents and principals.
“We want to stress the united approach,” Utech said. She added the meeting is “mainly to get them all together so everyone hears the same thing.”
Uttech said the Health Department has also prepared a letter that districts can send out, covering how to prevent the infection.
All five districts in Cortland County have already sent out such a letter, according to district officials.
Uttech said Homer wrote a letter based on information the district sought from the Health Department, then called to verify the information’s accuracy before it was sent out. She said Cortland asked for information to give coaches and athletes. Superintendent of Schools Larry Spring said Tuesday coaches shared pamphlets with their athletes on preventing the spread of MRSA.
McGraw Superintendent of Schools Maria S. Fragnoli-Ryan said the district sent parents a letter Thursday. “We let them know we would take every precaution.”
She said there have not been many calls from concerned parents and she has been checking in with the school nurses frequently on the issue. She said she and the business official, Steve Smith, would attend the Tuesday meeting and she also invited school nurses.