Seized cats are finding homes

Between 10 and 12 cats from Wheeler Ave. clinic have been adopted so far. About 230 remain.


Photos by Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Dave Davis, of Manlius, pets his new cat, Satchmo, as his two children Matthew and Jacqueline look on. The family adopted two cats Saturday morning from the approximately 230 cats that are being cared for at the former Cortlandville fire station on Route 281. The cats were taken from a Wheeler Avenue home Sept. 1 and are now up for adoption. 

Staff Reporter

Dave Davis and his two children, Jackie, 12, and Matthew, 15, drove about 42 miles Saturday morning to pick up two new additions to their family.
Sumo, a brown tiger cat, and Satchmo, a calico cat were both adopted by the Davises.
“The drive was well worth it,” said Dave Davis, of Manlius.
Sumo, formerly known as Puddin’, is 17 pounds and his girlfriend, who the Davises will call Satchmo, is 12 pounds. The cats were seized Sept. 1, along with 273 others, from a house and clinic at 7 Wheeler Ave. in Cortland.
Technician Yvette Moore of the CNY Spay Neuter Assistance Program and coordinator for the temporary cat shelter at the former Cortlandville fire station on Route 281, was part of that effort.
“I was involved in the seizure,” Moore said. “The walls were covered in feces and there was a strong smell of urine.”
Authorities have said the raid was conducted because neighbors complained about odors.
The buildings were bought by Purr Fect World Inc. in 2004 to house a spay and neuter clinic. Eugenia Cute, 51, who operated a clinic on behalf of Purr Fect World, and Lisa Alderman, of Liverpool who is president of Purr Fect World, were charged with 49 counts of failure to provide food and drink to an impounded animal. Each count carries a sentence of one year in jail and a fine of $1,000.
Alderman pleaded not guilty Tuesday to an additional 180 counts of improper confinement of an animal after the Central New York SPCA took 180 cats from her house in Liverpool on Oct. 5.
Kathleen McLaughlin, a volunteer caring for the cats at the former Cortlandville fire station, agrees that Cute started out doing a “positive thing.” But she believes that the people associated with Purr Fect World should be punished.
“If they are not punished, other people will think they can do the same thing,” McLaughlin said.
Moore said Satchmo and Sumo have come a long way from their days at Wheeler Avenue.
“It’s a little sad,” Moore said. “But I am excited that they are no longer going to be in cages. They have the opportunity to discover a new home.”
The Davises were only going to adopt one cat, Dave Davis said. “Sumo called and he said he wasn’t leaving without his girlfriend.”
Davis said Sumo will be his new lap cat. A year ago, the Davises lost Mike, their cat of 14 years. He said Sumo does not remind him of Mike, “He is a mellow cat.”
For the past two months the cats have been cared for by the SPCA at the former Cortlandville fire station.
SPCA Executive Director Kathy Gilleran, said that between 10 and 12 cats were adopted since they were made available for adoption on Oct. 24. Gilleran said 20 to 25 adoption applications are pending.
Of the original 275, Gilleran said there are 230 cats left. She also said 35 cats died due to health complications or were euthanized because they were dangerous.
Volunteers McLaughlin and Karen Porter said at first it was difficult to deal with the large number of cats. The SPCA’s regular capacity at its shelter is 32 cats.
“It was overwhelming,” said McLaughlin. She added, “I was sad. But they are so wonderful and they all have such different personalities.”
Porter said taking care of the cats is taxing.
“After taking care of the cats, I know there is no way one person that can do it,” said Porter. “It taxes you emotionally and physically.”
While volunteering at the shelter, McLaughlin fell in love with a year-old brown tiger cat, Sophie, which she just had to take home.
“She is beautiful,” McLaughlin said. “She runs around the house like crazy.”
Moore said the cats could be taken home after they have been spayed or neutered. She said the cats cost $10 to adopt, while the regular adoption rate is $85.
Gilleran said interested individuals would still have to undergo SPCA’s normal screening process, which includes two references to vouch that a person is capable of taking care of the animal.
Interested parties can go to the former Cortlandville fire station.


Calls incorrect about polling place changes

CORTLAND — The Cortland County Board of Elections is warning voters of automated telephone calls that are informing residents of changes in polling places that are not correct.
Democratic Election Commissioner Bill Wood said today he had just learned of the telephone calls and was not sure of their source.
He said he expects the incidents will be investigated, but he was not yet sure how that will occur or who would investigate.
“We’ve never dealt with this before,” Wood said. “We’re hearing it from both sides. We’re not pointing any fingers”
The only changes in polling places for this year’s election are in Marathon, from Town Hall to the Civic Center; Blodgett Mills, from the Blodgett Mills church to the Cortlandville highway garage on Route 41 in Polkville; and Cuyler, from the town highway garage to the Cuyler fire station.
Wood said he has heard the automated messages received today wrongly note changes in the city’s 8th Ward, Homer, Cortlandville and other locations.



Some Virgil residents to pay less in homeowners insurance

Staff Reporter

VIRGIL — Residents who live within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant will likely pay $50 to $100 less for homeowners insurance annually, starting in February, local insurance agents say.
That’s because the town’s fire insurance rating has improved as a result of recent improvements to the town’s fire department and water district.
About one-fifth of the town’s approximately 2,300 people live within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant, Fire Chief Jamie Babcock estimated.
The town’s 25 fire hydrants are centered in and around Greek Peak, said Scott King, chief operator of the water district.
The town’s rating has improved for those homeowners — from 9 to 5, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best rating.
Linda Rehbein, an insurance agent at George B. Bailey Agency on Tompkins Street in Cortland, said people would see about a 10 percent decrease in the cost of their insurance premiums as a result of the improved fire insurance rating.
James Place, the owner of Place Insurance on North Main Street in Cortland, said a homeowner with a $150,000 house typically pays an insurance premium of between $460 and $650, depending on the value of the home and the amount the plan covers.
Place said people who live within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant should call their insurance companies to notify them of the rating improvement.
The fire protection rating has slightly improved for people living within five miles of the fire station but more than 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant, from 10 to 8B.
But Place said that those people won’t see a decrease in their homeowners insurance premiums. The rating that applies to them hasn’t changed enough, he said.
Town Supervisor Jim Murphy said Greek Peak will save thousands of dollars in annual insurance premiums as a result of the improved fire insurance rating.
The town will see a decrease in its fire insurance as well. That decrease won’t be enough to keep the fire district tax rate from slightly increasing from this year to next.
The town’s fire district tax rate will increase from $1.74 to $1.79 from 2006 to 2007, or $5 for a $100,000 home, according to the town’s Web site.
Murphy said he was prompted to look into the town’s fire insurance ratings when Tom Pelis, an engineer at Greek Peak, told him the previous ratings seemed very high.
Murphy said he did some research and found out Virgil had not been rated since 1996.
So he contacted the Insurance Services Office, which supplies statistical information to the property/casualty insurance industry, to have a representative visit Virgil and see its recent improvements to the fire department and water district.
In regards to improvements to the water district, in 1999 the town purchased Greek Peak’s water system for $240,000.
It then made just under $400,000 in improvements to the water district, including a new water tank, new water mains, a new pump house and four new hydrants.
People living in the water district helped pay for the costs. Six commercial services and 158 residences and are hooked up to the water system, King said.




County considering walking trail along former C’ville railroad bed

Staff Reporter

Some county officials are hoping that community interest can help create a new recreational trail along a three-mile stretch of old railroad easement owned by the county.
County Planning Department Director Dan Dineen and county Legislator Danny Ross _(R-Cortlandville), who chairs the Agriculture/Planning/Environmental Committee, are reviving a plan brought up last spring to turn the county-owned land into a trail.
Initially, Dineen had proposed paving the land, an approximately 3-mile strip formerly owned by Lehigh Valley Railroad that runs from Cortlandville’s Citizens Park to the Tompkins County line, at an estimated cost of $300,000.
However, Ross said Tuesday that paving was not a necessity.
“I see it as a nice natural trail, no black top and no big expense,” Ross said.
“All it’s really going to take is some clearing out and hopefully we can get some volunteers to lend a hand and help us do that.”
The county has owned the property for more than 30 years, Dineen has said, meaning no property acquisition would be necessary.
Ross said he hoped to bring the proposal up to the Cortland County Legislature’s Agriculture/Planning/Environmental Committee within the next month or two.
He was hopeful that work on the trail could begin in the spring.
“If we can do the planning through the winter, get some volunteers together, early spring would be a good time to start it,” Ross said.
“The county owns that land, so we might as well do something with it,” he said.
Dineen said the county would likely have to go through the State Environmental Quality Review process, but that environmental impacts would appear to be minimal.
“It’s an old railroad right-of-way, so I don’t envision many problems with that,” Dineen said.
The trail would have a view of the Chicago Bog off Route 13, as well as Stupke Pond and several other small ponds in the area.
“I think it could be a real nice place to walk or bring your bike — it’s flat enough for cross country skiing — it could be a nice thing for the county,” Ross said.