November 20, 2007


Marathon upgrading village electric system

Staff Reporter

MARATHON — An increase in current and potential electricity use by village residents and businesses is prompting the village to make $500,000 in improvements to its electric system.
The Village Board voted unanimously at its Nov. 7 meeting to approve a 20-year, $500,000 bond for the project.
The project is expected to begin in January and take about a year and a half. It will increase the system’s capacity by 50 percent, Mayor John Pitman said.
Work includes increasing the size of a  transformer and increasing the diameter of various wire lines.
Pitman said he does not know how much wire will be replaced. “We’re reconducting some of our main lines so we can send more energy down the same path,” he said.
Such improvements to the system, which was built about 100 years ago, have not been made in more than 30 years, Pitman said.
At the same time, the number of customers using the electric system and amount of electricity used by each customer has significantly increased over the years.
Pitman did not know the increase in wattage.
About 950 customers now use the system, he said.
“But the moral of the story is a house 50 years ago wouldn’t have had a TV, a computer and too many lights,” Pitman said. “Today everybody is using a little more, getting a little more from the system.”
Pitman said most of the work to the system will be done by village crews. The bulk of the money is paying for materials, he said.
“There might be some engineering and a few days here and there some outside help,” Pitman said. “It’s not like there’s going to be a contract.”
Work to the system should not cause any interruptions to service, Pitman said.
The New York Power Authority on Sept. 15 approved an increase in village electric rates, which had not been increased in 15 years.
The rate changes took effect Oct. 1 and had been proposed by the village to pay for improvements and maintenance to the electric system, including the upcoming $500,000 project.
The average residential customer who paid about 5.5 cents per kilowatt before the change will now pay about 6.1 cents per kilowatt.
A small commercial customer that paid 6 cents per kilowatt before will now pay 6.6 cents per kilowatt and a large commercial customer that paid 4.6 cents per kilowatt will now pay about 5.1 cents per kilowatt.
Marathon is one of about 50 municipalities statewide that have a municipal electric system, according to Michael Saltzman, New York Power Authority spokesman.
The New York Power Authority supplies hydropower to those municipalities, which are mostly in upstate New York, and the municipalities supply the energy and maintain the systems, he said.
For Marathon, electricity costs are about 40 percent less what customers without a municipal electric system pay, Pitman said.
 gets $100K in training grants

Local companies to train workers with money

Staff Reporter

DRYDEN — has received $100,000 in SUNY Workforce Development Training Grants to provide specialized training for about 400 employees of several companies, including Marietta Corp., and organizations in Tompkins and Cortland counties. works with area businesses, governments and human service organizations to provide training. The state grants are intended to help companies add or retain employees or expand their product lines. Companies pay a portion of the training costs., which is affiliated with Tompkins Cortland Community College, will use the SUNY grant to provide supervisory skills and leadership training; customized computer training for medical administrators; communication, health care and leadership skills training for health care workers; and several training topics specific to manufacturing.
The $100,000 is the largest has received from the SUNY Workforce Development Training program and the most SUNY will allocate to a single campus. Director Martha Hubbard said typically receives from $20,000 to $60,000 in SUNY work force grants. She said need for the training is considered in awarding the grants.
“We’ve got some organizations that are growing,” she said, specifically mentioning Marietta’s additional employees and BorgWarner adding new product lines. “We submitted some really good projects that were critical to the continued success of those organizations.”
Hubbard and Business Development and Training Specialist Susan Greener worked with each company to custom design training programs to best serve their specific work force needs. The grant recipients varied in size, age, and location within Tompkins and Cortland counties.
Marietta Corp. is receiving the largest amount of training, $49,723 worth of advanced manufacturing technology training, including industrial electronics and robotics.
Greener said the first priority for Marietta would be technical math training. Other training planned is robotics training, programmable logic control, statistical process control and plant maintenance and hydraulics with between 50 and 75 employees taking the training.
“It’s very difficult to find workers to fill the jobs,” said Greener, noting that often employers will look for people they think will be quick learners. She said upgrading skills of current workers becomes very important.
Some of the training is already underway. Hubbard said at Pall Trinity Micro Corp., for example, 60 employees are being trained in basic math and 17 in programmable logic control with a $14,663 grant. Other training programs have been organized and will start over the next few months, she said. The grants cover the 2007-08 academic year and the training will be completed by July, she said.



Book details odd Cortland stories

Two local tales among author’s collection of newspapers stories from 1860-1910.

Staff Reporter

Century-old newspaper stories of a Cortland man buried alive for 24 hours and a haunted Cortland home appear in a new book that compiles a series of strange newspaper accounts from 1860 to 1910.
Wisconsin native Chad Lewis released “Hidden Headlines of New York: Strange, Unusual and Bizarre Newspaper Stories 1860-1910” in early October.
“Digging up the original articles took about a year and a half,” Lewis said.
Lewis has been researching paranormal cases for more than 14 years and began to write about them in the last six years. He holds a master’s degree in psychology.
“I was researching UFO cases in my hometown (Eau Claire) when I started running across weird and unusual stories, a lot of them from New York,” he said. “I couldn’t believe the amount and weirdness of them. I looked through 50 to 60 different newspapers.”
Ninety percent of the book, which is one of three he has written on strange newspaper articles, includes articles from New-York-based newspapers. Lewis said the other 10 percent comes from newspapers from across the nation.
The two Cortland stories were printed in the Syracuse Post Standard.
The first, on Oct. 20, 1899, reported a Cortland man being buried alive for 24 hours after being hypnotized and placed in casket 6 feet in the earth.
In 1906, the same newspaper wrote about an unspecified Cortland residence, reportedly haunted. The article states after the disappearance of an Italian laborer, townspeople heard unearthly noises including moans and the sound of dripping blood, and saw flashing lights in the windows.
County historian Mary Ann Kane said she has never heard of these stories concerning Cortland, but said the story of the haunted house isn’t surprising.
“It doesn’t surprise me because there are innumerable homes in Cortland that are supposed to be haunted,” Kane said. 
Of over 200 articles in the book, “Sounds Of Death Struggle Heard In Haunted House” is one of Lewis’ favorite articles.
Lewis said he found the articles by looking in libraries on microfilms and through online resources.
The book reprinted each article and photo if it had one, and also has information about what the place would have been like in the time the article was written.




Area Agency on Aging offering seniors tokens to ride the bus

Staff Reporter

Increased funding from the state has allowed the county Area Agency on Aging to purchase tokens for its clients that allow them to ride the bus for free.
Agency Director Carol Deloff said the state Office for the Aging has provided about $5,000 to the local office to assist seniors’ access to transportation.
That has been used to purchase 1,000 tokens for use on the First Transit bus routes.
“We have tokens of the value of 50 cents, which we are distributing to people 60 years of age and above so they can use the public transit system,” Deloff said Monday.
Each client is allowed $10 worth of tokens per month and the agency is only giving out $5 worth of tokens at a time — the tokens are available at the agency’s office in the County Office Building and at area senior centers.
Senior citizens pay 50 cents to ride fixed bus routes; changing buses would require paying another fare.
Wintertime conditions mean that it can be difficult for some seniors to get around, Deloff said.
“The seniors can use it to go shopping, for doctors appointments, wherever they need to go,” Deloff said. “We’re hoping that they use them, even for people who have never taken the bus and would like to try it.”
As of last Thursday, when Deloff presented the program to the county Human Services Committee, she said her agency had distributed 780 tokens.
“I would like them to be used, I don’t want people to just hang onto them and collect them in the bottom of their purse,” Deloff said. “They have to be used so we can recycle them.”
The additional state funding is also going to be used to provide transportation to members of the local agency’s vision-loss support group — Dial-a-Ride tokens would be set aside at First Transit for those clients who are losing their eyesight and need to be able to attend the support group meetings, Deloff said.
These programs supplement the agency’s existing Dial-a-Ride program, which distributes $1 tokens to seniors who are not able to access the fixed route bus network.
he fixed route bus network.
The maximum cost of a one-way Dial-a-Ride bus trip is $3.
Other counties are receiving funding to assist transportation for seniors, Deloff said, but she didn’t know what system they were using.