December 04 , 2007


Snow continues to pound county


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Amy Henderson-Harr runs her snowblower for the first time this year while cleaning her driveway and sidewalk on Ellwood Avenue this morning.

Staff Reporter

Heavy snowfall and strong winds closed schools today, kept highway crews working around the clock and slowed motorists on slippery and slushy roads.
Lake effect snow and heavier squalls that have been falling since Sunday aren’t expected to let up until Wednesday night, according to Joanne Labounty, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Binghamton.
Between 3 and 6 inches of snow are expected to fall over the next two days, she said, with winds gusts of up to 35 miles per hour.
High temperatures this week will be in the upper 20s, and low temperatures will be in the high teens, she said.
Thursday looks to be dry and sunny, though more snow is expected for the weekend.
No travel advisory had been issued for Cortland County as of this morning, but one could be issued later today, according to Brenda DeRusso, Cortland County’s fire and emergency management director.
“It’s a three-way decision between the Sheriff’s Department, the County Highway Department and our office,” she said. “I don’t believe there is one because all roads are open and passable, according to the (county) Highway Department. One is issued only if visibility is down to less than one-quarter mile.”
People should use caution when driving on any road in the county, said county Highway Department Superintendent Don Chambers.
“The schools are closed down today, and there’s a reason for it,” he said. “A lot of the secondary roads are still quite slippery, even the primary roads. I would suggest the traveling public use caution.”
He said crews have been working nonstop since Saturday.
Chris Bistocchi, the superintendent of the city’s department of public works, said city crews have also been working 24 hours a day over the last several days.
Around the clock coverage, which typically doesn’t start until January, should happen through Wednesday, he said.
“We’re trying to stay ahead of the snow by quickly removing it,” Bistocchi said. “It keeps piling back up.”
The Cortland County 911 dispatch center reported 30 weather-related calls between 8 a.m. Monday and 8 a.m. today, according to dispatcher David Tanner.
State Police handled about one-third of those calls. Most of the accidents involved cars sliding off Interstate 81 and Route 281 due to snowy and icy conditions.
A number involved tractor trailers, including a 3:47 p.m. accident Monday in which a man from Hagaman drove his tractor trailer off the roadway on Route 281 near Interstate 81 exit 12 in Cortlandville.
Capt. Glen Mauzy of the Cortland County Sheriff’s Department said he expects the number of weather-related accidents to decrease as the winter season progresses.
“We always cringe at the first snowfall,” Mauzy said. “People don’t have their winter feet under them. They don’t slow down and give more stopping distance. Some people don’t have their tires changed yet.”
Schools and colleges across the region are closed for the first time this school year, while local ski resorts are welcoming the weather.
Although Greek Peak won’t be reopening until Thursday night, five inches of snow have fallen over the last couple of days, according to Kevin Morrin, director of Marketing for Greek Peak. Four trails were open this past weekend, he said.
“We’re trying to get as much snow blown down before we open for business,” he said.




Homeowners installing wind turbines

Rising energy costs prompt projects in Virgil, Cortlandville as state offers subsidies

Staff Reporter

CORTLANDVILLE — Chris Xaver has wanted a wind turbine since before she built her house on Page Green Road four years ago.
“We put a travel trailer or camper on the property before we built the house,” Xaver said Friday. “The wind used to rock the trailer.”
She couldn’t find a windmill that seemed affordable until she attended the Ithaca Apple Harvest Festival and met Court Rutherford, a Baldwinsville-based installer of smaller windmills that are designed to fit in a subdivision.
With the approval of her windmill last week by the town Planning Board, Xaver is now moving forward with her plans.
“There is a part of me that’s excited to reduce my carbon footprint, but honestly, I just want to save money on my energy,” Xaver said.
The windmill will supply between 40 and 100 percent of the energy needed for her home. Those savings amount to between $150 and $300 a month. Xaver said that could be a big payback over time as energy costs escalate.
“And when it’s not generating the power for us, it actually spins the meter backwards, and they (National Grid) have to buy it from us,” Xaver said.
Manufactured by Southwest Windpower, the Skystream wind turbine will sit atop a 60-foot tall tower between Xaver’s house, her neighbor’s property and the road — the highest point on her property.
Wind turbine towers have to be at least a distance equal to the height of the tower away from any property lines or structures.
The highest winds have been clocked at 75 miles per hour, and Xaver said the windmill would be able to handle wind up to 140 miles per hour (although it should be shut down when wind speeds near 70 mph).
The windmill costs about $20,000, and Xaver is receiving grant assistance to the tune of $6,600 from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, or NYSERDA. The windmill should pay for itself in five years.



State grants Brockway museum charter

Trucks will be on display along with military artifacts, other exhibits at living history center

Staff Reporter

After two years of trying, the Brockway Truck Preservation Association has been granted a charter from the state Education Department to operate a museum.
The association, which was formed as a not-for-profit educational corporation, will run the Brockway Truck Museum, where Brockways will be on display year round along with memorabilia and history of the manufacturing, sale, service and use of the trucks that were manufactured in Homer and Cortland from 1910 until 1977.
Hugh Riehlman, vice chair of the association, said the organization has received a five-year provisional charter.
“We really wanted to be recognized as a museum so we could have some funding opportunities that we wouldn’t have had otherwise,” Riehlman.
The Brockway Truck Museum will be a part of the Central New York Living History Center, which plans to encompass exhibits examining the agricultural and industrial aspects of the region with the Brockway Trucks, military and other artifacts from Ken Eaton’s Homeville collection, antique fire trucks owned by Mahlon Irish, antique clocks and tractors from the Tractors of Yesteryear group.
Attorney Matthew Neuman, with Riehlman, Shafer & Shafer in Syracuse, said the charter for the Brockway Truck Preservation Association, which was approved Oct. 23, took so long because the state Education Department needed to make sure the association was serious about forming a museum.
Neuman said he was both hired by the association and donated a lot of his time to help get the group’s charter. 
From this point on, the association will carry on all activities previously carried out by the Brockway Truck Show Inc., including the Brockway Truck Show that has been going on for the past eight years.
The Central New York Living History Center is located at the former A.B. Brown property owned by the Homer-Cortland Community Agency, which is overseeing the development of a museum complex that will house the historical artifacts.
Executive Director of the HCCA Bill Breidinger said the property is just over 6 acres and includes five buildings.



Campus minister retiring

Staff Reporter

From advising SUNY Cortland’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity to counseling students who are grieving the loss of a family member, the Rev. Don Wilcox’s presence at SUNY Cortland has made a lasting impression for 22 years.
Wilcox was hired in 1985 to serve as the executive director of the Cortland County Council of Churches, Protestant campus minister and pastor of Holy Spirit Lutheran Church.
The college community hosted a farewell party for him Monday afternoon in the Corey Union Function room.
Wilcox said his most memorable experiences have been the spring break trips with Habitat for Humanity and also grief support groups.
He said the college started the process of forming a Habitat chapter in the fall of 2002, after 11 students had gone on the spring break Habitat trip in 2001.
The next year, 45 students showed up for a Habitat meeting. “It was a little overwhelming,” said Wilcox.
Throughout his tenure, he has had a good relationship with the Catholic campus minister and  they have done a lot of programs together, such as an ecumenical Christmas service. His last service on campus will be the Christmas service on Wednesday that he will conduct with Marie Agen, the Catholic campus minister.
“Don Wilcox has been the most wonderful colleague I could ever imagine, said Agen, noting that they used to jointly visit the residence halls as the “Donny and Marie” duo.
SUNY Cortland President Erik Bitterbaum presented Wilcox with a gift of SUNY Cortland golf club covers with the Red Dragon symbol on them.
“The reality is I’ll always be a Red Dragon and I don’t care what the mascot is,” said Wilcox, referring to Gettysburg, Pa. He recently bought a home just outside of Gettysburg, where he hopes to have more time to play golf.
“I am retiring — period,” he said while meeting and greeting college staff and students. “I will golf and hammer a little bit.”
Wilcox said Habitat for Humanity gave him the hammer and there is a Gettysburg chapter that does organized trips to impoverished areas, such as Louisiana, to build homes.



Grant to help youth find jobs

Staff Reporter

The Cayuga-Cortland Workforce Investment Board has received a $140,000 state grant that will help provide low-income youths with services to obtain employment.
The state Office of Children and Family Services awarded the grant, which could serve as many as 10 youths in both Cortland and Cayuga counties.
Judy Davison, the director of the Cayuga-Cortland Workforce Investment Board, said the board had applied for the grant a year and a half ago and was turned down in the first round of funding.
“We hadn’t heard anymore about the funding, so we thought that when the first round of funding went out and we weren’t selected, that we wouldn’t be selected,” Davison said Monday.
The funding will go toward programs related to the federal Workforce Investment Act, which Davison said typically targets low-income youths.
The funding would likely also be targeted at youths with another barrier to employment, such as those at risk of falling into the criminal justice system or have done so already; those who’ve been identified as potential high school dropouts; or those who are already or soon will be parents.
The goal is to develop specially tailored case management to help the youths gain the skills and desire to enter a profession.
“We will help them to develop what we call an individual service strategy, so each youth coming in would have a specific document that addressed his or her needs and goals, and any services that we think need to be arranged to help them meet those goals.” Davison said.
A Dec. 12 meeting will help determine the scope of the grant.
“Now what we need to do is go back into what our original proposal was and see if it’s still relevant, if we can still do it with this amount of money,” Davison said.
Potential clients would be identified by local agencies, such as the youth bureaus or social services departments.
Components of the plans could include summer employment and other paid work experiences, as well as unpaid positions.
Davison said that the Workforce Investment Board would also pay for vocational training, either in the form of GED classes or certificate, BOCES or two-year degree programs.