January 2, 2006

Hunting at night

The Ithaca Journal's first issue of 2006 doesn't have a whole lot of Dryden news. There's a letter from Dale A. Pennow of Dryden explaining the rules for hunting after dark (and blasting those who question its propriety).

If you feel like starting the year with a look at state politics, Jay Gallagher asks how lame a duck Governor Pataki will be in his last year.

Posted by simon at 9:46 AM Comment

Gramma's Country Kitchen, and much more

Reading the Ithaca Journal lately, I get a sense that Dryden is a very sleepy place. Reading the December 28th Dryden Courier, though, I see a very active community with all kinds of things happening.

I'm not positive, but I seem to remember advice columnist Amy Dickinson requesting prayers for the reopening of Toad's Diner during her presentation at the Freeville church in August. Coffee and food are available there once again, the Courier reports, as Phyllis Heller and her family opened Gramma's Country Kitchen. I'll have to go try it out!

Sharing the front page with that good news is a picture of the Dryden Junior Chorus and an article on Dryden fourth graders making gingerbread houses. Pictures inside show their work in progress.

Inside the front page is an article on Dryden Elementary teacher Barbara Florence, who's showing teens how to cook - from scratch - at Cassavant Elementary's Calling All Teens program. Opposite of that is an article on how the Dryden schools decide if it's a snowday or not, and there's another notice of the Dryden School Board's seeking applicants to fill a vacancy.

Instead of an editorial, there's a piece from the Tompkins County Town Clerk's Association about their disapproval of the county's plans to change the way property taxes are collected.

The next few pages cover local accomplishments, with a profile of Lutheran minister Laura Daly, an Etna resident who will be taking over as pastor of St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Spencer. There's also an article on Kristie Rice's becoming the first female fire chief in Tompkins County, leading the McLean fire department. TC3 art instructor Harry Littell also gets mentioned for his co-authoring Margaret Bourke-White: The Early Work, 1922-1930.

In sports, the Courier reports a Dryden victory over Trumansburg in boys basketball, and a victory for Dryden wrestling over Union Springs. There's a picture of Dryden wrestler Cody Sykes as well.

Posted by simon at 7:35 PM Comment

January 3, 2006

Winter fun in and around Dryden

This morning's Ithaca Journal is quiet on Dryden news, but the sport section lists the Cayuga Nordic Ski Club's upcoming Snowfest (27KB PDF) on Hammond Hill January 15th. In addition to cross-country skiing and racing, there will be snowshoeing and possibly ski-joring, which combines dogs and skis. They'll have skis and snowshoes available for visitors to use, and there may be a display of equipment.

A week later on the 22nd (as I found at Ludgate Farms), Cornell Plantations will be having Winter Detectives: A Family Affair in the F. R. Newman arboretum, just across the town line. They say that:

Winter is a season of wonder and beauty! Dress warmly and bring the whole family to see some of the amazing natural phenomena that abound just outside your door. Become an expert bud detective, and identify different trees in winter. Investigate tracks and signs to help identify the animals that leave their mark. Explore properties of snow and ice, and the patterns created by wind and sun on our "snow stumper" walk. Discover the birds of winter, look for what they eat, and learn how they survive the cold. Sign-ups will be taken for activities beginning at 10:00, 10:30, 11:00 or 11:30.

The Winter Detectives program is part of the Light in Winter events, and is free. Registration is required, though - call 255-2400 to register.

Posted by simon at 9:04 PM Comment

January 4, 2006

Dryden Youth Commission; County Legislature organizes

In this morning's Ithaca Journal, Cathy Wakeman's Dryden Town Talk visits the Dryden Youth Commission, which "is on the front lines of creating successful programs for our kids, and is seeking a volunteer who lives in the Town of Dryden to help out."

Briefly in Dryden lists three upcoming events:

  • The Dryden School District is seeking applications for the vacancy on its school board. The position will last from February to May 16th, the next election. This position is open because of John Curatolo's resignation.

  • Dryden Senior Citizens will meet on Monday, January 9th, at the Dryden Fire Hall. Seating starts at 11:30am with the meal at 12:15pm.

  • The Varna Community Association will be having a pancake breakfast on Sunday, January 8th, from 8:00am to noon at the Varna Community Center.

  • Planning is underway for the 1996 Dryden High School reunion.

  • There will be a senior services forum on Thursday, January 12th from 11:00am to 3:00pm at Dryden Fire Hall.

The County Legislature held its organizational meeting last night. New Dryden County Legislator Mike Hattery showed that being down 11-4 is no reason not to indulge in partisanship, as he nominated Republicans Frank Proto for chair and Mike Sigler for vice-chair. Neither won - Tim Joseph remained chair and Leslyn McBean-Clairborne became vice-chair. (New legislators don't yet have web pages - I'll add links when available.)

Hattery and Legislator Martha Robertson were both named to the Tompkins County Industrial Agency board. Robertson will be chairing the Planning, Development, and Environmental Quality Committee, and serving on the Public Safety and Health and Human Services Committees. Hattery will also be on the Public Safety and Health and Human Services Committees. Newcomer Tyke Randall, whose district includes Groton and a corner of Dryden, will be chairing the Facilities and Infrastructure Committee, and serving on the Planning, Development, and Environmental Quality Committee.

In news around Dryden, there's an article on more testing coming to schools, and the print edition talks about defining the scope of the Cornell/Town of Ithaca transportation study.

Posted by simon at 12:39 PM Comment

Sumner joins Town Board

Dryden's Town Board organization meeting this afternoon started with the swearing-in of returning incumbent Steve Stelick and newcomer Mary Ann Sumner. After repeating the oath of office, they had to sign cards (for the county) and sign a book as well.)

Town Clerk Hollenbeck swears in Mary Ann Sumner and Steve Stelick
Town Clerk Bambi Hollenbeck swears in Town Board members Mary Ann Sumner and Steve Stelick.

After the ceremony, the board proceeded with its usual start-of-year business, ratifying salaries set in the budget, making minor modifications to the budget, and appointing people to committees. The last part was a little complicated, as the board will be appointing a member to fill Mike Hattery's seat at their next meeting, so it wasn't clear how best to position "new guy".

The regular Town Board meeting will be next Thursday at 7:00pm at the Dryden Town Hall (map).

Update: You can see a much more detailed report on the meeting from Mary Ann's perspective.

Posted by simon at 10:11 PM Comment

January 5, 2006

Regionalism and upstate New York

There was a burst of discussion last month about the possibilities of regionalism in a number of upstate blogs. York Staters, over in Binghamton, got things going with a post on regionalism:

As we attempt to solve Upstate New York’s problems, as long as we think of ourselves and our problems as primarily "American" we will be bound to a tiny number of options promoted by our centralized authorities. However, when we begin to free ourselves from what is an appropriate answer for America and identify ourselves with Upstate New York then we can begin to find new, uniquely Upstate answers.

I think a fair number of people (from a variety of political parties) would say similar things about New York State because of the upstate/downstate divide. BaloghBlog, up near Syracuse, followed up with a discussion of upstate, and finds some hope:

Less in the way of complaining, more in the way of discussion that will lead to action - I seem to be finding a growing niche of people that feel the same way, who are proud to live in upstate, who want to be here and make life better for ourselves and our communities.

There's also a great piece from NYCO, who starts by writing of her "classic American road-trip childhood" in a piece on what regionalism could mean for upstate:

I say we here in upstate New York put out a call for people who don't need to be constantly entertained, and who are skeptical about the 21st-century American dream and can imagine a better one; who recognize that upstate New York never was, is not, and will not be just like the rest of the country; that it is situated in a historical time zone that - in both good times and bad - is a few decades in the future from the rest of America....

Upstate New York's autonomy, its genius really, depends on three things. 1) The intelligence and education level of its people, and their ability to imagine and articulate profoundly new alternative futures. 2) Its physical location and topography, which is somewhat cut off from the mainstream (think: we're not part of BosWash - and this was a place where people came to get away from hidebound Boston thinking 150 years ago). This location was always strategically important in past history, but still actually could be strategically important (think: international border, natural resources that don't seem important now but could be very important not too far in the future). 3) Its very old tradition - sometimes happy, sometimes unhappy - of meaningful interaction between different tribes, races, genders and cultures.

I'm very happy to have moved back to upstate New York. I'll confess - I lived three years in Manhattan (and my brother lives in Brooklyn) - but after living there, Connecticut, and North Carolina, I was very happy to come home. The weather, the taxes, and the relationship with downstate give people a lot to complain about, but there's a vitality here that's worth preserving. Some of it's the history of the place, and some of it's the present of the place, but upstate New York has a very strong sense of place.

Hopefully we can combine that sense of place and the state motto - Excelsior (ever upward) - and make upstate an ever more worthwhile place to live.

Posted by simon at 8:33 PM Comment

January 6, 2006

Crime and the cost of punishment

This morning's Ithaca Journal reports that yet another Dryden resident has been accused of rape, this time in Caroline. I believe that's the fourth incident in just a few months, and have no idea what could explain this strange surge of violence.

The Journal also reports on one of the costs of crime, that of incarceration. The headline screams that Board outs may cost more than $320K, a substantial increase over the "prior six years... $25,000." It's only deep in the article that we find:

the state pulled the variances, setting the county up for a number of unknowns in terms of cost - both human and financial.

But those costs would seem far less dramatic than what could have been. In 2004, some legislators had cold feet about plunking down $20 million or more to build a new jail, as the state had mandated the county to do.

The state's Commission on Corrections removed variances that had allowed Tompkins County to house 105 (if I remember right) inmates in the jail, because it wanted the county to build a jail that would house 134 inmates - not that the county has ever needed room for 134 prisoners.

A simple way to look at the $320,000 figure is to compare it to $20 million over 20 years. Even before interest - and staffing! - that's $1 million a year. The county could board out a lot more prisoners and still be ahead financially.

However, the 18-year-old jail, as Sheriff Meskill points out, really needs work. Major work, not just a little work - and the state can prohibit any changes to the footprint of the building until the county does what they want. Even without an expansion, that would be millions of dollars. Eventually the county will have to spend a sizable sum of money on the jail.

My personal take on this is that the state Commission on Corrections is ordering counties to build larger jails because the state is finally getting tired of paying for prisons. The deal where downstate provides economic subsidies to upstate by housing so many of their prisoners here is unraveling, because the cost is enormous. Rockefeller's drug laws, passed in large part so Rocky could look tougher on the national political stage, will eventually fall because they simply cost too much to enforce. Politicians just need to find a way to reduce those penalties without looking like they're soft on crime.

When that happens, a lot more of the convictions for drug crime will lead to sentences served locally, rather than at the state prisons. While that's a good thing in many ways, it also means that counties will have to pay a lot more to support their own jails. It seems unlikely that the state will be excited about sharing those costs, and once again we'll have local property taxpayers picking up where state income taxpayers get to walk away.

At least that's my take on it. It'll be years in the making, and has some upsides as well as downsides, but the cost of incarceration locally seems bound to increase. Not because of this year's board-out costs, but because of policy changes at the state level. I'm not honestly sure what policy the county should follow while this all sorts out.

Posted by simon at 6:46 PM Comment

January 7, 2006

Police Chief Ryan gets award

This morning's Ithaca Journal notes in Local Briefs that Village of Dryden Police Chief Margaret Ryan will be receiving the Michael Padula Award from the Tompkins County Human Rights Commission at a dinner on January 28th.

The rest of the Dryden news is on the editorial page, where Steve Scott of Dryden takes a shot at defending the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping, and Art Berkey and Henry Kramer oppose the special election for a library tax district in the Ithaca City School District.

Posted by simon at 2:12 PM Comment

January 9, 2006

Spinning at Rock Day Saturday

One of the more fun stories I posted last year was a piece on Rock Day, the annual celebration of the Black Sheep Hand Spinners Guild.

I'm happy to report that they'll be having Rock Day again this Saturday, January 14th, at the Varna Community Center (map) from 10:00am to 4:00pm. This year's featured speaker is felter Theresa May-O'Brien. There will be a dish-to-pass meal as well.

Posted by simon at 5:13 PM Comment

Food pantry opened today

This morning's Ithaca Journal was quiet on Dryden, but the current issue (January 4th) of the Dryden Courier has lots of news. Freeville United Methodist Church opened a food pantry again today after five years without Freeville having one. Distributions will be on the second and fourth Mondays of each month, with afternoon and evening hours. They're looking for volunteers and for contributions, which will go to buying food at a discount from the Food Bank of the Southern Tier.

There's also an article visiting the Dryden Liquor Store, talking with owner Valle Vasse about the changes and growth it's seen in the ten years since she bought it.

The Village of Dryden will consider an amendment to its nuisance law at the January 19th meeting, potentially adding fines of $250 to $500 plus village expenses for repeated violations and frivolous emergency calls at a given location. It would include property owners, tenants, and their guests.

Retired County Legislator George Totman looks back over his career in an interview, talking about his time in Groton and McLean, where he's lived since 1952.

There's an article on the Cayuga Bird Club's 44th annual Christmas bird count, centered on Varna and including much of the Town.

In sports, there's an article on the Dryden girls basketball team, which is off to a 6-2 start. There's a photograph of Dryden player Casey Keech.

Finally, there's an article on a subject a few Dryden residents (Richard Couch and Kathy Zahler) have written to the Journal about: efforts in Spencer-Van Etten to make up in fundraising the athletic funds rejected by school budget voters. While the fundraising efforts managed to pull together $137,000 this year, they seem likely to come up $28,000 short, as the number of participants has shrunk and competition with other fundraising has made it even more difficult. Some spring sports will suffer.

Posted by simon at 10:43 PM Comment

January 10, 2006

Boehlert in Antarctica

I don't normally report on the whereabouts of Congressmen, but it's kind of unusual for the Congressman representing Dryden, currently Sherwood Boehlert, to visit Antarctica.

He's apparently gone there before:

"It has been a marvelous experience," Boehlert said of his second visit to Antarctica. "People ask why Antarctica, the reason is simply that its laboratory conditions are ideal. Antarctica is pollution free. It is as pure as can be. It is ideal for some of our most important research."...

Boehlert said the U.S. has an investment of more than $1 billion in research facilities and spends approximately $250 million per year on the U.S. Antarctic Program, in fields such as astronomy, biology and atmospheric and earth science. "This critical scientific work includes the research that discovered the hole in the ozone layer and research on the melting of ice sheets, which could have a significant effect on sea levels," he said.

Posted by simon at 5:57 PM Comment

Gadabout needs drivers

This morning's Ithaca Journal reports that Gadabout, "twelve demand-response buses for elderly (over 60) and disabled residents of Tompkins County who can not use regular transportation," needs drivers, in fact around ten drivers. The job requires a New York State Class "C" Commercial Drivers License, but Gadabout will pay for the training and fees involved. They have 30 volunteers and seven full-time employees now, and are trying to avoid raising their fees in March. To find out more, call Gadabout at 273-1878.

Candidates are lining up to run against Congressman Sherwood Boehlert. Chenango County Democrat Les Roberts announced his candidacy, joining Oneida County District Attorney Michael Arcuri. Two other Democrats, previous challenger Jeff Miller and attorney Leon Koziol, both from the Utica area, are also possible challengers. Former Seneca Falls mayor Brad Jones is contesting the Republican nomination.

Yesterday, I noted the Courier's coverage of the Spencer-Van Etten atheletic fundraising, because a couple of Dryden residents had written about it earlier. Today the Journal's editorial (print edition only) and Spencer-Van Etten Town Talk discuss it, though it sounds like there's more hope of them achieving their goal than I got from the Courier article.

Posted by simon at 8:46 PM Comment

January 11, 2006

Freeville food bank reopens

This morning's Ithaca Journal (which isn't online yet) reports on the re-opening of the Freeville food bank at the Methodist Church, talking with volunteers, supporters, and visitors.

There's also an article on an accident that jammed up Route 13 between Lower Creek Road and Route 366 last night. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

In fun news, the Etna Community Association's 6th Annual Chocolate Festival will be this Saturday from 10:30am to noon. I visited it last year, and had a great (and delicious) time, There's also notice of planning for the 1996 Dryden High School reunion, and there will be a senior services forum on Thursday, January 12th from 11:00am to 3:00pm at Dryden Fire Hall.

The county legislature will be voting next week on a possible shift to a three-year assessment cycle. The Journal quotes Joe Riggins of Freeville as opposing the move.

There's also a piece on the Ithaca School's initial budget projections, which currently show a 6.4% spending increase and an 8.8% tax levy increase.

Posted by simon at 12:53 PM Comment

A Town Board perspective

Town Board member Mary Ann Sumner has written recently on the Dryden Democrats weblog about her first few weeks on the Board. She has a report on last week's organizational meeting, as well as a piece on her recent visit with the Town Highway Department.

It's good to see blogging about Dryden take on a new perspective!

Posted by simon at 8:31 PM Comment

January 12, 2006

Newfield men arrested for Dryden robbery

This morning's Ithaca Journal reports that three Newfield men were arrested yesterday for an October 24th incident in which a Mineah Road residence was robbed of several items, including an antique .22 caliber rifle. A similar rifle was retrieved when the arrests were made.

The opinion page has two pieces connecting Dryden with Ithaca. The editorial is happy about TC3's expansion in downtown Ithaca, while a letter from Jerry Ziegler in the print edition regrets the closing of the Bookery II in Dewitt Mall.

Posted by simon at 12:25 PM Comment

January 13, 2006

3-year dog license - if rabies shots are current

This morning's Ithaca Journal notes a change in the dog licensing rules. In Dryden, you'll be able to get a dog license for as long as your dog's rabies vaccination is current, up to three years. However, your dog's license will also expire when the rabies vaccination does, and you'll need to renew the license after that happens. There's a nice quote from Town Clerk Bambi Hollenbeck about dealing with it:

"Maybe we can let people run and get the vaccination and then come back to us," Bambi Hollenbeck, Dryden's town clerk, speculated. "We're willing to work with people — we're not a bunch of witches; we're pretty nice people".

The Town Clerk's office has always been helpful to me, and I'm happy to be able to think about dog licenses less often, but I suspect this will take some people by surprise.

There's an article on a reception for the $1.86 million TC3 purchase of the M&T Bank building, which will be renamed TC3 Tioga Place.

Briefly in Tompkins reports the arraignment on additional charges of a man accused of a December 1st rape.

There are two general pieces on the county - one looking at the unseasonable weather we've had the past few days and one looking at possible cuts in the number of local nursing home beds.

Posted by simon at 5:39 PM Comment

Ask Amy speaks in Corning

This morning's Elmira Star-Gazette has a interview with Amy Dickinson, known locally both for her Ask Amy column and for living in Freeville. She was speaking today in Corning, where I grew up. I wonder if it was anything like the presentation she gave in Freeville last August. The Star-Gazette article mentions it, but it looks like she was giving a keynote speech.

Posted by simon at 8:45 PM Comment

January 14, 2006

Snowfest cancelled

I reported earlier that the Cayuga Nordic Ski Club would be having a Snowfest tomorrow on Hammond Hill. Unfortunately, because of the weather, they've had to cancel it.

They hope to do it again next year.

Posted by simon at 8:55 AM Comment

Police Chief Ryan to be honored for translation work

This morning's Ithaca Journal has more detail on the honor Dryden Police Chief Margaret Ryan will be receiving from the Tompkins County Human Rights Commission:

Ryan was nominated for HRC's Michael Padula Award for her work in broadening the Translator/Interpreter Program at Cornell University Public Service Center to include emergency services training.

It's a project whose benefits she understands in terms of street-level police work.

Ryan said she became more closely involved with TIP after seeking help from translators in the program to help in the investigation of a 2003 armed robbery at a Chinese restaurant in Dryden.

Posted by simon at 10:59 AM Comment

New Town Board member, Town Hall plans

Mary Ann Sumner has already reported on highlights from Thursday's meeting, but here are some pictures of both newly appointed Town Board member Dan Tier and plans for the new Town Hall.

Town Clerk Hollenbeck swears in Dan Tier
Town Clerk Bambi Hollenbeck swears in newly appointed Town Board member Dan Tier.

Draft perspective of the proposed new Town Hall
Draft perspective of the proposed new Town Hall.

Draft site plan of the proposed new Town Hall
Environmental Planner Dan Kwasnowski explains the draft site plan of the proposed new Town Hall.

Draft interior plan of the proposed new Town Hall
Architect Anton Egner explains the draft interior plan of the proposed new Town Hall.

Draft side views of the proposed new Town Hall
Architect Anton Egner shows the draft side views of the proposed new Town Hall.

I'll have more from the meeting soon, but these seem like the pieces people most want to see for themselves.

Posted by simon at 11:04 AM Comment

January 16, 2006

Syracuse man arrested in Dryden for meat theft in Lansing

There isn't much in this morning's Ithaca Journal about Dryden, but The Monitor reports the arrest of a Syracuse man along Route 34B. Speeding led to a check for outstanding warrants, and there was $400 in meat reported stolen from Tops in the car as well.

One interesting question: the man was arraigned in Groton Town Court but appears in Dryden Town Court tomorrow. I wonder how they handle jurisdiction on border roads like 34B.

Posted by simon at 8:39 AM Comment

January 17, 2006

Diesel hybrids: maybe

I wrote back in November about how I'd really like a small diesel hybrid pickup truck. It seemed unlikely then, as no one was talking about diesel hybrids, but that hurdle has been cleared: several automakers, including Ford, Mercedes, and Citroen, are working on diesel hybrids.

Now if only they'd focus on a small pickup truck, and put it in showrooms. (The Ford at least has all-wheel drive, which is a plus for local weather.)

Posted by simon at 6:16 PM Comment

January 18, 2006

Libertarians meet

When I posted my October review of voter registration, I accidentally left out Libertarians, as they hadn't existed in my database before. There were two then, though. There are three of them in Dryden now, and one, Michael Sylvia of Etna, sent me this report on their meeting last night:

Last night January 17th, the Ithaca Libertarian meeting enjoyed a visit from Jeff Russell. He traveled to Ithaca from the Albany area to introduce himself and ask the Ithaca libertarians to endorse his nomination for the US Senate seat held by Senator Clinton. He made clear that his fundamental reason for running is his objection to the ongoing conflict in Iraq, the nebulous 'war' on terrorism and the civil rights abuses contained in the Patriot Act. While these are his primary motivations, he holds true to libertarian views on other issues. He was well received at the meeting and my sense is he will be supported by the Ithaca Libertarians at the Libertarian state convention in April.

Michael notes that "While we are called Ithaca libertarians, we include all of Tompkins county."

(I don't often report on meetings in Ithaca, but since the Libertarian Party is just getting started here, and probably won't have a Dryden committee for a while, it seemed like a good idea.)

Posted by simon at 6:12 PM Comment

Latest voter registration figures

When I did the story on Libertarians meeting, I wanted to check on how many there were in town. In October it was two, and as of a week ago it's now three, according to the voter registration data from the Board of Elections. Registration trends this time are less favorable to Democrats than they were last time. Most parties trended negative, I suspect because the Board of Elections is clearing out registered voters who haven't voted in a while.

PartyNumber (Oct 2005)Number (Jan 2006)Change
Blank (Independent)18431729-114
Working Families2930+1

Again, most parties have lost members, with only the Working Families and Libertarian parties showing an absolute gain - of one each. A lot of blanks came off the rolls, as did many Democrats and somewhat fewer Republicans. The Democratic registration edge over Republicans falls to 200 now from 237 in October.

Posted by simon at 6:18 PM Comment

SANE planning, assessment deadlock

This week's Dryden Town Talk takes a look at planning for "the top secret party known as the Senior All Night Extravaganza 2006, also known as SANE. This event is an adult-chaperoned post-graduation environment for safe celebrating," which will be held high school graduation night. Fund-raising is underway, with a "Retro Dance" to be held February 8th.

There's an article on a former substitute teacher pleading guilty to a felony child pornography charge. He'd taught at the Dryden, Ithaca, Groton, Lansing, Southern Cayuga, and Moravia districts.

The County Legislature deadlocked 7-7 on a vote to change assessment to a three-year cycle. Dryden County Legislator Martha Robertson voted for it, while Mike Hattery and Duane Randall opposed it. Robertson and Hattery were appointed as legislative representatives to the Tompkins County Industrial Development Agency.

Also on the industrial development front, odds look better for Tompkins County getting an Empire Zone, which would include parcels at the 13/366 intersection and north of the Village of Dryden.

The Journal's editorial looks at the need for more Gadabout volunteer drivers.

Posted by simon at 6:51 PM Comment

County Legislator Hattery speaks at Town Board meeting

It was just three months ago that the Republicans were campaigning on open government, and already I'm seeing some signs that at least one Republican doesn't find that notion very interesting.

Town Supervisor Steve Trumbull introduced former Town Board member and now County Legislator Mike Hattery as "on a different side of things now." Hattery noted that County Legislator Martha Robertson was out of town, so he would "be glad to hold up the fort." He listed his committee assignments, (Health and Human Services, Public Safety, and Strategic Planning) so the board would know "what kind of trouble I'm probably going to be getting into." He also mention that the vote on assessment was coming up, and said he "hadn't changed my mind on that... but there's a little more data-gathering I want to do."

County Legislator Mike Hattery speaks
County Legislator Mike Hattery speaks at last Thursday's Town Board meeting.

Hattery's last statements before he took questions were the ones that troubled me most, however:

"Lastly, I wanted to say that... when I ran for the legislature I said that... one of the things I wanted to do was take the relationships between the county, and the towns, cities, and villages up a notch, and so any way we can do that, let me know. I'm going to try to be communicating with you. I view these forums as one opportunity, and however you want to handle this, if you want to do this on an as-needed basis, where I come when I've got an issue at the county I think we need to talk about, or when you would like me to, or if you want to make it a regular thing, I'll leave that up to you, because I don't think it has to be all the time. I think the real communications we do outside of meetings is probably as important as kind of these formal briefing opportunities. So...

First he talks about the importance of relations between the town and the county, but next he suggests that maybe it would be nice for him to show up less at Town Board meetings than his predecessor did. Then he caps that by suggesting that the real communications happen outside of meetings, in private.

And then he left the meeting early. Not right after his presentation, but it was strange to see a former County Legislator, Mike Lane, stay there the whole time, while his successor left.

Not a great start, from my perspective certainly.

(If you want to hear the entire county briefing, I've posted the four-minute excerpt (998KB WMA) from the board meeting. I'll try to get that up in MP3 format soon.)

Posted by simon at 7:34 PM Comment

January 19, 2006

Cornell energy, traffic

There's a lot happening just past Dryden's western edge. Cornell is planning to add two natural gas turbines generating electricity to its heating plant, improving its efficiency to 75% (from 49%) and reducing their amount of coal burned by 30-50%. (I applaud Cornell for its efforts to improve efficiency and reduce pollution, but the shift to natural gas for power generation is one of the reasons natural gas prices keep climbing, and why a once seemingly limitless resource for home heating has become far more scarce. It's not a simple positive.)

Also, Cornell and the Town of Ithaca are revising the scope of their joint traffic study, in which I understand the Town of Dryden will also be participating to some extent.

Oneonta State Police Major Kevin Molinari, who led the Chenango County search for two murdered Dryden teenagers, has been promoted to commander of Troop C.

Posted by simon at 8:29 AM Comment

January 20, 2006

Dryden legislators on Industrial Development Agency

This morning's Ithaca Journal reports on the appointments of Dryden County Legislators Mike Hattery and Martha Robertson to the Tompkins County Industrial Development Agency, and includes a fair amount from them on what they hope to accomplish. For Hattery, it seems to be about the cost and balance in the returns:

"I have a basic view of local government's role in economic development... Government should deliver services efficiently while minimizing the tax burden.... The economic viability of the city is important for the economic viability of the rest of the county..., but balanced development for the rest of the county is important."

Hattery also worries about IDA-supported projects competing with existing county businesses, and suspects that support for housing and multiple-use projects in the city of Ithaca's density policy may "violate the IDA's previous funding criteria." Robertson, on the other hand, is interested in using the IDA in conjunction with planning in work toward affordable housing and concentrated development:

"There are so few tools that we have, [the density policy] might be a tool that we could use to get other kinds of housing... All of the places that we have as community centers now could be made more economically viable... In some cases, they function as bedroom communities now, but we can do a better job enhancing commercial opportunities there."

The Legislature also voted 8-7 to move to a 3-year assessment cycle last night, with Robertson supporting the move and Hattery and Duane Randall opposing it.

Posted by simon at 8:49 AM Comment

January 21, 2006

Dryden Police Chief named Central New York chiefs president

Dryden Police Chief Margaret Ryan has had an honor-filled January, first being selected for an award from the Tompkins County Human Rights Commission, and now being named president of the Central New York Association of Police Chiefs, Inc.

Posted by simon at 9:30 AM Comment

Town closes on land for Town Hall

The nice thing about subscribing to the Dryden Courier is that I no longer have to go get it. The unfortunate thing is that the paper can disappear into the mail pile, as happened with last week's edition.

The January 11th Dryden Courier reports on Cassavant Elementary School students visiting Cornell's Johnnson Museum of Art, and has a picture of kindergarteners learning to use a Japanese ink brush. There's also an article on the Dryden School Board's discussion of middle school for summer students, and another on an expected $92,000 budget shortfall for the schools because of higher fuel costs. In sports, Paul Gangarossa cites Stacy and Stephanie Ryker of Dryden as a powerful pair of siblings on the same basketball team.

The January 18th Courier leads with an article on the town's completing the purchase of land for a new Town Hall, and discussion at the meeting of proposed designs for the building. There's also an article on Dryden substitute teacher Kristin Mackey, who received the Apple for the Teacher Award from the Cayuga Radio Group.

Inside the cover is a collection of Dryden Middle and High School students' opinions on their least favorite foods - beets, spinach, green beans, spinach, onions, and potatoes. Town Clerk Bambi Hollenbeck writes a letter to the editor explaining the new dog licensing rules, in which licenses last only as long as the dog's rabies vaccination, but can last up to three years. Speaking of rabies vaccinations, the Tompkins County SPCA will be offering free rabies vaccinations and pet identification tags at their 1640 Hanshaw Road facility from 7:00pm to 9:00pm on January 25th.

A community outlook section reviews Dryden's 2005 news, and there's an article on last weekend's Rock Day, a spinning celebration held by the Black Sheep Hand Spinners Guild.

Posted by simon at 10:45 AM Comment

January 23, 2006

Village of Dryden home 'ruined' by fire

81 East Main Street in the Village of Dryden suffered a fire Saturday afternoon. The Dryden Fire Department attempted to put out the blaze, but Chief Ron Flynn reports that "It had gotten a good head start before we got here, and the roof was fully involved." Fortunately, no one appears to have been inside at the time.

Posted by simon at 12:17 PM Comment

Town Hall drawings final?

I didn't get the sense that the presentation of a possible Town Hall layout was a final set of drawings for approval - and I don't remember the board taking any action - but WHCU's web site says:

Dryden Drawings are Final





I guess I don't really know how the process for building a new Town Hall is running, though it surfaces periodically at meetings and more frequently in the news media.

WHCU also reports on troubles workers are having getting paid by the now bankrupt Cayuga Millwork, which was on North Road outside the Village of Dryden.

Posted by simon at 6:19 PM Comment

January 24, 2006

Cayuga Millwork investigation

This morning's Ithaca Journal reports that the New York State Attorney General's office is investigating Cayuga Millwork for unpaid wages. Cayuga Millwork was on North Road north of the Village of Dryden. The Tompkins County Workers' Rights Center is assisting employees and looking for additional employees with complaints to join the investigation.

There's a note in Briefly in Business about Stone Travel having a ribbon cutting ceremony today at its new office at 1284 Dryden Road at 11:00am.

Also, I'd noted that a Dryden Courier column had suggested that Spencer-Van Etten spring sports might not get the money they needed through fundraising. Sally Marx says that's just a rumor, and nothing has been decided yet. (A number of Dryden residents had written the Journal about S-VE sports and fundraising when a school budget didn't pass.)

Posted by simon at 8:31 AM Comment

Stone Travel opens for business

In what I'm guessing will be the first of a series of grand openings for businesses near the 13/366 intersection, Stone Travel held a ribbon-cutting ceremony today to mark the opening of its new office at 1284 Dryden Road, at the intersection of Route 366 and Baker Hill Road. Jean McPheeters and Doug Levine of the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce came up for the ceremony.

Ribbon cutting at Stone Travel.
Ribbon cutting at Stone Travel.

The new office is a former state police barracks, which received some heavy remodeling. There weren't any cells to remove - owner David Moore reported the most exciting thing was some closets with shotgun racks - but they did tear down the interior, add "elephant" insulation, put up new interior walls, and add a tower to the front of the building.

In reception - and apparently just installed this morning - a fountain runs continuously. Moore said that they went looking for companies that make these fountains, and found a fabricator in Ithaca.

New lobby at Stone Travel.
New lobby at Stone Travel.

They're still moving in from their Community Corners location, but they're definitely open for business.

Posted by simon at 12:28 PM Comment

Lots of lobbyists in Albany

I just stumbled on this stunning bit of data in a New York Times article about new lobbying restrictions states are imposing:

In most capitals, lobbyists outnumber lawmakers by an average of five to one, the Center for Public Integrity found. Albany leads the nation, with 3,842 registered lobbyists, or 18 for every elected legislator.


The article goes on about New York's "modest steps" to deal with the effect of so many lobbyists:

New York, in an effort to curb the power of Albany's influential lobbying corps, is taking modest steps toward requiring more reporting of lobbyists' activities. An opinion by the state's Lobbying Commission last year interpreted the existing $75 limit on gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers to apply to an entire year's spending, not per meal or per ballgame.

The state also closed a loophole that exempted lobbyists seeking state contracts - rather than legislation - from registering with the commission. But the new rule is not yet being enforced, and it is not clear when it will be.

I wonder how many lobbyists we'll have total when those seeking contracts finally have to register too.

Posted by simon at 11:33 PM Comment

January 25, 2006

Looking past the Dryden line

Today's Ithaca Journal doesn't have much directly about Dryden, but the paper has some articles on Groton and Caroline with Dryden connections. There's a profile of the Space family dairy farm in Groton, which notes that two of their children are attending Dryden schools. The Caroline Town Talk article for today leads with mention of the Tompkins County SPCA having a free rabies vaccination clinic tonight from 7:00pm to 9:00pm tonight at their facility on Hanshaw Road. It also notes that Bethel Grove Bible Church will have a commissioning service and reception for their new senior pastor, David M. Jones, Jr., on Sunday the 29th at 3:00pm.

All of this reminds me how my definition of "Dryden" has changed over time, because of the many overlapping lines and connections. Originally I used the Town lines as my guide, but since then it's grown to include McLean, anything in the Dryden School District, and nearby pieces of the Towns of Groton, Cortlandville, Virgil, Harford, Caroline, Ithaca, and Lansing. Municipal lines reflect political boundaries, but the connections go further.

Posted by simon at 8:24 AM Comment

Reasons to focus on the local

NYCO's Blog regularly reminds me of why I find running this site interesting. Tonight she's posted a piece called How I got local, and it echoes my own sentiments:

I just don't care to discuss all that national stuff any more, although I occasionally will. We know what's happening in Washington, and what's going to continue to happen regardless of who controls it, and we know this because the future has already arrived, in this region. We are on the cutting edge. ("We" meaning the region, not bloggers...

Upstate New York is frequently a preview of the nation 50 years in advance, if you're wondering about the cutting edge aspect. We've lost a lot of industry here over the last fifty years - and the states where it moved are watching it go overseas, following the same transition. We were ahead of our time on religious, political, and social movements over the last two centuries - so maybe it's a good idea to look around at what's here rather than watching the national news talk about national politics.

We have a lot of local and regional conversations worth having.

Posted by simon at 11:16 PM Comment

January 26, 2006

$6.7 million DOT facility finally arriving

This morning's Ithaca Journal reports that the Department of Transportation finally has its financing together for a 58,000 square-foot maintenance facility to be built on land the Village of Dryden annexed from the Town in 2004. $3 million of that comes from "a ... grant procured through Senator Seward." Don't expect to see it immediately, though, as:

Facility construction will be phased and could be completed within five to seven years.

The new facility will consolidate operations currently in Ithaca and Cortland.

There's also a letter from Celia Lahr of Freeville suggesting that if Ithaca requires homeowners to clear their sidewalks, the city should meet that standard on its streets. (I find it strange that cities clear roads but not sidewalks, especially since I have heard stories of sidewalk ploughing in Dryden years ago.)

Posted by simon at 8:46 AM Comment

January 27, 2006

Looking ahead

There isn't much about Dryden in the regular edition of today's Ithaca Journal, but their print edition includes their 2006 Outlook sections, and there are some interesting stories there. In Dryden-specific news, it notes Challenge Industries taking over Finger Lakes Fresh, and Stone Travel opening its new office.

In broader county-wide news, there are lots of interesting tidbits. Just to skim the surface, they include:

  • Ithaca College Professor Elia Kacapyr finds that the county's economy expanded around 2.7% in 2005, adding 1100 jobs, with retail sales growing 12%.(The national economy grew around 4%.) He's predicting 900 new jobs in 2006 and a 10% retail gain, for about a 2% growth rate.

  • Tompkins County is outpacing most neighboring counties and New York State as a whole in job growth since 1990. Tompkins County's total nonfarm employment went up 21.5%, losing 9% in goods-producing jobs and gaining 25.1% in service-providing jobs. Schuyler, Seneca, and Cayuga counties all had job gains less than Tompkins County, while Steuben, Cortland, Broome/Tioga, and Chemung all lost jobs. The state as a whole had nonfarm employment up 5.2%, good-producing employment down 29.8%, and service-providing up 11.5%.

  • The top ten forecasted jobs to grow in Tompkins County in 2014 are Medical Assistants, Archivists/Curators, Social and Human Services Assistants, Veterinary Technicians, Biological Technicians, Environmental Science and Protection Technicians, Medical Records/Health Information Technicians, Physical Therapist Aides, Glaziers, and Physician Assistants. I've been talking for a while about wanting to make windows and doors when I grow up, so seeing Glazier on there is promising.

  • There's generally good news about the airport, with more people flying from there, but continued concern about how strong a presence US Airways will be.

  • Jean McPheeters, President of the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce, reports that the Census Bureau estimates that the county's population is now 106,000, up from 96,000 in the 2000 census. That may help explain the tightness in the housing market and increased home prices, as well as the construction around Etna and West Dryden.

That's only a tiny bit of what's there. It's definitely a good day to buy the print edition of the Journal if you're interested in the local economy.

Posted by simon at 8:36 AM Comment

Village of Dryden caucuses

This week's edition of The Shopper lists Democratic and Republican caucuses for Village of Dryden Elections. Each caucus is a gathering of village residents to select candidates for the March 21, 2006 village trustee elections. Registered Democrats can participate and vote in the Democratic caucus, and registered Republicans can participate and vote in the Republican caucus. (You don't have to be a registered member of a party to run for office on that line, however.)

Both caucuses will be selecting candidates for two-year Village Trustee positions, currently held by Dan Wakeman (R) and Mary Ellen Bossack (D).

The Republican caucus will be at 7:00pm on Tuesday, January 31st, and the Democratic caucus will follow at 8:00pm. Both will be held on the second floor of the Dryden Village Hall (map).

Posted by simon at 12:04 PM Comment

January 28, 2006

Dryden man animates Mars

This morning's Ithaca Journal visits Dan Maas of Maas Digital, a Dryden company whose animation is more than a quarter of the recent Disney IMAX movie, Roving Mars. The contract was originally for six minutes of animation, but grew to twelve minutes. (The Journal profiled Maas in October for his work on Cornell's Mars Rover site.)

The print version of the Journal notes a grease fire at the Dryden Hotel yesterday afternoon. I was finishing lunch there when it happened, and was happy to see that it was mostly smoke in the kitchen. The fire department got there promptly, though I didn't stay to watch what they had to deal with.

There's an article on Groton photographer Verne Morton, who took some fine photos of Dryden as well.

Posted by simon at 9:03 AM Comment

January 30, 2006

Bradley returns to school board

This morning's Ithaca Journal suggests Dryden had a quiet weekend, but WHCU reports that the Dryden School Board has appointed Jeff Bradley, previously a board member from 1990-2002, to fill the vacancy left by John Curatolo's resignation.

Posted by simon at 8:38 AM Comment

Gift-giving in Albany

I haven't been paying enough attention to what happens in Albany lately, but an article in today's New York Times (registration required) raises issues about lobbyist gift-giving and how legislators spend their campaign funds. A few tidbits:

One day last August, Richard Alteri, a lobbyist for the cable industry, took four people, including staff members from the State Senate, golfing at the Albany Country Club, and paid $61.25 a person, according to lobbying records. That same day, he paid for lunch at the club, spending $22.50 on each of them.

All told, the lobbyist spent $83.75 on each staff member, despite a state law that is supposed to limit gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers and staffers to $75. But apparently his gift was legal because until recently the state has interpreted the $75 limit to apply to each event - so a round of golf could be counted separately from the lunch served afterward at the same club.

...the state's famously porous campaign finance laws allow special interest groups to contribute large amounts of money to candidates, and allow the candidates to then use their campaign accounts to pay for everything from meals to car payments to trips.

The whole article is definitely worth reading. Maybe this is why legislators tolerate the 18:1 lobbyist/legislator ratio in New York?

Posted by simon at 5:56 PM Comment

Cayuga Millwork investigation?

WHCU is reporting that Cayuga Millwork owner Jack Roscoe is dismissing any report that his company is being investigated for not paying its employees:



He does acknowledge that twenty employees are still waiting for wages from July, "DUE TO NOT BEING PAID FOR A JOB BACK IN JULY."

I guess we'll find out eventually whether there is an investigation or not.

Posted by simon at 6:05 PM Comment

Emptiness or opportunity?

While I think the Town of Dryden as a whole is growing, both residentially and commercially, the four corners area of the Village of Dryden is looking pretty empty right now, after a few months of businesses moving.

Empty storefronts next to Time Square
Empty storefronts next to Time Square.

Jes Styles moving further west.
Jes Styles moving further west on Main Street.

Wildflowers moved out.
Wildflowers moved out.

Charlie's Diner closed.
Charlie's Diner closed.

Charlie's Diner appears to have been seized for not paying sales tax, but a lot of the businesses have moved nearby. Gutchess Accounting, Backus Bail Bonds, and WIldflowers have moved to new places on North Street, while Jes Styles was moving further west on Main Street. I wonder what the next act for these places will be.

Posted by simon at 8:27 PM Comment

January 31, 2006

Questions of landlord responsibility

This morning's Ithaca Journal is quiet about Dryden, but I haven't yet covered the January 25th Dryden Courier, which has lots of Dryden news.

The lead story reports on the Village of Dryden tabling a resolution that would have imposed fines for landlords (and tenants) in cases where police and fire departments were called repeatedly to an address. Landlords spoke to oppose the resolution and point out ways in which it could misfire, One paragraph in the article suggests that landlords who aren't paying attention are a lot of the problem:

The board noted that none of the landlords who attended the meeting with concerns are the landlords the law is aimed towards.

Also on the front page, with a photo, is an article about Jim Hardesty, who teaches at Cornell's Johnson Museum, coming to Freeville Elementary School to show students Chinese painting techniques.

Inside the paper are notices about Dryden Police Chief Margaret Ryan being named president of the Central New York Chiefs of Police, and one about a "Retro Dance" to be held this Saturday night at the Dryden VFW, The dance is a fund-raiser for the Senior All-Night Extravaganza (SANE) which will be held the night of high school graduation. Tickets are $10.

On the opinion page, Timothy Kremer of the New York State School Boards Association writes about the mysteries of the Governor's budget and what school boards would like to see, while Gabriel Carpenter of Dryden writes in support of abstinence education.

There's an article on retired County Legislator Thomas Todd's reflections of his years in public service. While Todd recently retired from a seat in Lansing, he started in Dryden, serving on the school board and then as Town Supervisor of Dryden.

In sports, Dryden's Abinye Smith is an Athlete of the Week for scoring 25 points against Moravia in basketball, and there are photos of both the boys and girls basketball teams. There's also an article on the girls team's 32-25 win over Waverly. Update: The Courier's February 1st edition says that should be Jordan Minnis.

There's a report on the IAC wrestling tournament, held at Dryden High School, in which Dryden came in 5th. There's a picture of Dryden's Ryan Rivers doing a long jump at an indoor track meet at Cornell's Barton Hall, and the Dryden boys swim team beat Odessa-Montour 100-49.

Posted by simon at 8:14 AM Comment