TC3 readies health center for students


Bob Ellis/staff photographer   
Shari Shapleigh, director of health services at Tompkins Cortland Community College, stands in the college’s new health center. Students can use the center for routine checkups and to get generic drugs.

Staff Reporter

DRYDEN — The new health center at Tompkins Cortland Community College should officially open sometime after Thanksgiving, but its first director is already providing health care and education to students and staff.
Shari Shapleigh, a family nurse practitioner and associate professor of nursing at the college since 2001, was hired as the director of health services in late August. She said she had provided emergency first aid to students, but the center has not established regular clinic hours yet.
Bob Ross, the treasurer of the Faculty Student Association, said Shapleigh becomes an employee of the FSA in this position. She will earn $55,798. Ross said there were several candidates, but Shapleigh’s experience stood out when he and Walter Poland, president of the FSA and dean of student services, interviewed her.
“She had the experience of working with our students,” said Ross. He said she also had a strong nursing background.
“It’s myself and a cell phone,” Shapleigh said of staffing for the center. She said nursing students would be helping to put on educational programs and work-study students would serve in the reception area.
The center, located across from the Campus Activities Office, has a large waiting area with a reception office, an office for Shapleigh, large wheelchair-accessible bathroom, two exam rooms, a dispensary and an area to clean and store equipment, such as nebulizers and automatic defibrillators. This area could also be used to store supplies for students who are disabled and commute, and who don’t want to carry the supplies around all day, said Shapleigh.
One of the exam rooms has two entrances, one of which is from the safety and security offices. Shapleigh said this is so security officers can handle emergencies, as they do now, when the health center is closed.
Shapleigh said she would like to put a bed in a third room to be used by students who need to rest or recuperate before going home. She said perhaps a massage therapist could also use the room once a month.
“The mission of the health center is to provide an environment to provide for the overall health of an individual,” said Shapleigh. She said the center’s motto is “TC3 health services — your connection to better health.”
Ross said about four years ago students formed a committee and visited other health centers at community colleges. The students asked the college for a health center, Ross said. Initially the request was denied, but last year the center was added to the college’s $33 million master plan, he added.
“It’s here because the students felt they needed a health center,” Ross said.
“A significant part of what we’re going to do is educational and preventive,” said Ross. He said Shapleigh has also been asked to form a plan, should a pandemic flu occur.
Erin Huyler, associate director of residence life, said Shapleigh’s students have already presented one program on weight management in the dorms after taking a survey of students’ educational needs. Huyler said she would be collaborating with Shapleigh on future programs, including a flu shot clinic.
“I think the health center will be a phenomenal addition,” said Huyler, noting the growing population of students living on campus. Once a fifth dorm opens about 500 students will live on campus.
Huyler said the college had contracted with a local physician, Dr. Michael Niziol, and had offered shuttle service to his practice on Lewis Street in the village.
Shapleigh said once the health center is running, there would be evening hours once a week. She said the office would open by steps. “One of our first projects will be flu vaccinations,” she said. She said there would be a $25 charge for students and staff.
Shapleigh said her services would be free for students, other than a fee each semester. Ross said students agreed to a $25 charge per semester for the services. There would be additional charges for lab tests and medicine, Shapleigh said.
Students or parents could put money onto their student card and use it to pay at the health center.
Shapleigh said she hopes to provide basic care by the end of November. She said this would depend on installation of a data network system the center will use to record patient information. Shapleigh said the clinic, which will be paperless, would record patient information on laptop computers using a program called Nuesoft Xpress, from Atlanta. She said the server would be located in Atlanta and maintained by the software company.
By the spring semester, she said, she would like to have the pharmacy open so students could get generic drugs without having to go to a pharmacy. Name brand drugs would not be available at the clinic.
“I love modern technologies,” said Shapleigh, as she held a Palm Pilot in her hand. “I can keep five different books in this.” She said she would use the hand-held device to keep a database of symptoms and drug references.
Shapleigh said besides presenting programs for students and staff, another way she hopes to draw students into the center is to sit out in the hall in front of the center with a sign, “Ask a nurse.”
“Hopefully students will feel comfortable coming here,” she said.


City may seek funds for erosion control

Staff Reporter

CORTLAND — Some city residents who own properties along Otter Creek and Dry Creek might be able to apply for state money to help rehabilitate portions of retaining walls that keep those properties out of the creek.
However, many who attended a public meeting with city, county, and state officials Wednesday evening at the Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES Conference Center felt a more proactive stance needed to be taken in light of heavy flooding in recent years.
Alderwoman Sue Feiszli (D-6th Ward) said that she was working on a request for proposals from engineering firms who would examine flooding in the city in order to determine what areas could use the money for improving the retaining walls.
Bernie Thoma of Thoma Development Consultants, the city’s consulting firm, said that in order to be eligible for the state Governor’s Office of Small Cities money, an area would have to have at least 51 percent of its residents at low to moderate income levels. They city could apply for as much as $400,000, he said.
Feiszli said that parts of the 6th Ward would likely be the focus of the work.
Wednesday’s panel included Mayor Tom Gallagher; city Superintendent of Public Works Chris Bistocchi; Amanda Barber, manager of the county Soil and Water Management District; and the district’s water quality specialist Patrick Reidy; and Michael Barylski, deputy regional permit administrator for the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Cortland office.
Sediment has accumulated at the bottom of the creeks, said Bob Bates, of Pearne Avenue, and neither Otter Creek nor Dry Creek have been dredged in a long time. As a 30-year resident of the area, Bates said he has seen many studies done by the city, but nothing has been done to remedy the problems.
“You can never have too much survey information,” Bistocchi said.
Barylski said creek dredging has become much less common in the past several decades, and permits are only granted after studies of the streambed have been completed and show dredging would have a beneficial effect.
When Bates and Harry Barwell, of Samson Street, suggested that perhaps the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers should get involved, Bistocchi replied that the Army Corps will only dredge navigable waterways, which does not include either of the city’s creeks, or the Tioughnioga River.
And, Barber said that in the absolute best-case scenario, the Army Corps of Engineers still requires 50 percent matching funds from the local municipality.
North Main Street resident Mark Leonard did not believe that dredging would solve any problems.
“You could dredge all the creeks 10 feet deeper, and it wouldn’t make a damn bit of difference if there’s no place for the water to go downstream,” Leonard said.
The water that has been inundating the city originates outside the city, Bistocchi stressed, and has increased as development has picked up.
Since 1997, Reidy said, the town of Cortlandville has had a stormwater ordinance that ensures runoff from a development after its completion does not exceed the amount of runoff from before, and that this ordinance has been applied to at least 30 new projects since its inception.
Although there are no plans for the city to do any work in the creeks themselves, Bistocchi said storm drains would be installed near Samson Street and Willow Avenue along Dry Creek and Otter Creek, respectively.
An elevation survey will also be completed in order to determine if the storm sewer work along Kennedy Parkway can be connected to the Hickory Park area, and then the West Branch of the Tioughnioga River, via a system that could rely on gravity to move the water.
Feiszli said the next step was to figure out what tangible steps could be taken to mitigate some of the flooding.
“I’m going to start working on the flooding issue, and most importantly, the relationship between Cortlandville and the city,” Feiszli said after the meeting, adding that she is a member of the Legislature’s Planning sub-committee on flooding.
“We can’t do anything without the permits, and the permit process is difficult,” Gallagher said, adding the city wouldn’t be able to absorb the millions of dollars needed to rehabilitate the waterways without help from the federal or state governments.



County and state study other states’ voting machines

Staff Reporter

CORTLAND — While the rest of the country became acquainted with new electronic voting machines Tuesday, the state of New York and Cortland County pulled off another election day with outmoded pull-lever machines.
“Probably the only good thing about New York state dragging its feet is that at the moment we’re not facing any problems because we’re still using the lever machines,” Cortland County Republican Election Commissioner Bob Howe said Wednesday.
New York is the only state that hasn’t complied with the federal Help America Vote Act, which was passed by Congress after the controversial 2000 presidential election. It was meant to reduce voter fraud and make voting easier for people with disabilities.
The state Board of Elections is still working to certify machines that would make it HAVA compliant, spokesman Bob Brehm said last week.
The goal has been to reach compliance in time for 2007 elections, but delays in testing potential machines may push the date when counties will be able to choose a type of machine back from December to early 2007, which could possibly set back the entire process, Brehm said.
County Democratic Election Commissioner Bill Wood said the issues with electronic voting machines experienced in other states could help the county, and the state, in their decision on what type of machine to use.
“It’s something I’ll take a look at, but I’ve got to do some research into what exactly happened before I can have a good answer,” Wood said.
Howe, meanwhile, said the minor problems elsewhere were indicative of an overall lack of uniformity in types of machines.
“They’ve opened up this Pandora’s Box where anybody can pick anything they want and nothing’s uniform anymore,” Howe said. “What would be really nice is if the state board had enough intestinal fortitude to pick one machine for the entire state so New York could be uniform like it is right now.”
Wood and Howe disagree on what type of machine to purchase for Cortland County.
Wood prefers an optical scan machine, which he says could be the less expensive option, and provides a paper record of each ballot cast.
Howe says his preferred machine — a Digital Recording Electronic machine (DRE) — also provides a paper trail in the form of a print out after a vote is cast, and that the DRE would be more accessible and less subjective.
If the two can’t reach an agreement, the issue will likely be solved by the state Board of Elections, although no decision can be made until the state finishes certifying the machines.


To read this article and more, pick up today's Cortland Standard
Click here to subscribe

Homer OKs $1.7 million town budget

Staff Reporter

HOMER — The Town Board Wednesday approved a $1,667,358 budget for 2007 in which residents will see a slight increase in their tax bills next year, with a 4-cent increase in the tax rate.
The budget is a 1 percent increase from this year’s $1,544,347 budget. The amount to be raised by taxes is $443,300 — a 4 percent increase over this year’s $427,817 tax levy.
The budget will raise the total tax rate from $1.87 per $1,000 of assessed property value to $1.91 per $1,000.
A person owning a $100,000 house will pay $191 in property taxes in 2007, an increase of $4 over this year’s bill.
Assessed property values are projected to increase by more than $2 million from 2006 to 2007, to $259 million.
Under the budget, the town supervisor’s salary will stay the same at $6,000. Town Board members will continue to receive $2,411.
Other employees, such as the code enforcer, the town lawyer, the assessor and the highway superintendent will see 2.5 percent salary increases.
Some of those employees had asked for higher salary increases, and some hadn’t asked for a raise at all, but town Supervisor Fred Forbes said he wanted to give everyone the same percent increase.
“Just so they were all getting the same,” he said.
The highway crew will see 3 percent salary increases after Brian Young, a board member, made a motion to raise their salary increases by  half a percentage point.
He cited high gas prices as one reason behind his motion.
The Town Board’s budget factors in the cost of renovating the Town Hall, which could cost between $400,000 and $600,000, depending on what plans are chosen. The board added some money from the highway fund to the general fund to help cover potential costs of the project.
Each board member said which plan he or she favored for the Town Hall project at the meeting Wednesday. Board member Dan Weddle was absent for health reasons.
The survey of opinions followed a public hearing last Wednesday about Town Hall renovations.
Forbes and board members Brian Young and Kevin Williams said they supported putting an elevator for the handicapped at the northeast portion of the Town Hall.
Young and Williams said an outside elevator at that location would interfere less with activity in the building, especially in the senior center.
Forbes said although he supported an elevator to the north, he didn’t know if it should be on the inside or the outside. Until recently he thought it should be on the outside, but someone brought up the point that an outside elevator could get very cold and icy in the winter.
“That hadn’t even crossed the corner of my mind,” he said.
Board member Barry Warren disagreed, saying an elevator should be placed at the southwest part of the building, through Forbes’ office.
That option would be less expensive, even with a lift to bring handicapped people to the building’s stage level. That level is above the courthouse at the far east side of the building. People in wheelchairs can only access that level with a lift because the stage level is about _3 feet higher than the second floor level; a ramp from the second level to the stage level would be too steep.
Warren added a southwest entry elevator would allow people with disabilities to go through the front of the building like everyone else.
Forbes said he knew Weddle’s opinion on the location of the elevator, but that he wouldn’t disclose it under advice of the town lawyer.
Weddle can share his opinion at the board’s next regular meeting on Dec. 6, Forbes said. At that meeting the board will likely vote on a location of the elevator as well as where it wants to put a courtroom.


To read this article and more, pick up today's Cortland Standard
Click here to subscribe