February 1, 2006

70-year-old woman struck, killed on Route 13

This morning's Ithaca Journal reports that Janice Cortright, 70, was killed while crossing Route 13 at Livermore Road yesterday. I have enough trouble getting my newspaper and mail from across Route 366, and walking along 13 is even scarier. State police responded but don't expect to file charges against the driver.

In brighter news, Cathy Wakeman reports on last night's Village of Dryden caucuses. Her husband, Dan Wakeman, will be running as a Republican candidate for Village Trustee along with Randy Sterling, while the Democratic candidates are Mary Ellen Bossack and Jim Willer. Bossack and Wakeman are incumbents. She also lists some challenges facing the Village and announces the "Retro Dance" fundraiser being held this Saturday night from 8:00pm to midnight at the VFW.

Briefly in Dryden lists one of my favorite Dryden events, the Etna Chocolate Festival, which will be next Saturday, February 11th, from 10:30am to noon at the Etna Community Center. They also list the Dryden Seniors Feburary 13th meeting and lunch from 11:30am onward at the Dryden Fire Hall, and planning for the Dryden High School Class of 1996 reunion.

Congressman Sherwood Boehlert has slower fund-raising this year than in 2004, even as he faces a number of Democratic and Republican challengers.

Finally, Michael Ludgate, who lives just barely in Caroline, has a picture of last week's snow.

Posted by simon at 12:14 PM Comment

Another look at downtown Dryden

I wrote about the empty storefronts in the Village of Dryden a couple of days ago, and tonight's Cortland Standard takes a deeper look. Ida Pease talks with store owners who've moved, and with the owner of Googer's Bakery, home of my favorite half-moon cookies, who reports that they'll be moving when their lease is up as well. While most of the businesses have relocated nearby, there's still a gaping set of empty windows at the four corners.

Pease notes the Village Comprehensive Plan's appraisal of the challenges of the area, and owners' complaints about parking. The owner of the Body Care Center, still happily in one of these buildings, doesn't see a problem with parking. Personally, I've never had a problem with parking in the lot on George Street, but then I'm not a good sample, as frequently I park far away from my destinations in Ithaca or Pyramid Mall to get some walking in. Upstairs tenants and some crime are also mentioned as problems.

Posted by simon at 9:34 PM Comment

February 2, 2006

Dryden teachers find peace

After years of seeing "Support Dryden Teachers" bumper stickers and reading about contract negotiations and protests, it's nice to see "Dryden board approves teachers' contract," with this news:

Both sides were enthused that this [6-2] approval came five months before the current contract expires at the end of June.

"It's the earliest we've ever had a contract done, going back as far as we know," Mary Ellen Bossack, president of the DFA, said.

"It's just remarkable. The whole tenor of the district is just a lot more positive," she said.

Mark Crawford, the district superintendent, echoed Bossack's sentiments, noting that with regularly scheduled meetings between the administration and DFA representatives throughout the year, the negotiation process went very smoothly.

Both parties recognized a give and take in the negotiation. For teachers, an increase in health insurance co-pays and deductibles was part of the trade-off for an annual four percent pay raise, among other things.

The article also notes that the board appointed Jeff Bradley to fill John Curatolo's seat.

If you live in the Ithaca City School District, there's lots of news about the library district vote next Tuesday, February 7th. The Journal kicks off three days of articles with:

The print edition also includes a list of voting places, which appear to be the same as the locations for voting in Ithaca school board elections.

Posted by simon at 12:15 PM Comment

February 3, 2006

Library, cheerleaders

This morning's Ithaca Journal has more on the library funding referendum, looking at how other communities in the region have dealt with library funding. I was shocked when Corning Public Library closed for a year after a referendum failed,at a time when Corning was supposedly booming, but fortunately that option doesn't seem likely at present. All of the letters on the opinion page oppose the tax district, though none of them are from Dryden.

The referendum (which only applies to residents of the Ithaca City School District) will be next Tuesday, with voting at the places you normally vote in school elections.

A photo of Lansing cheerleaders after their win at the Watkins Glen championship is a chance to point out a bit of Dryden news I'd missed, though it was noted in the Journal article on the championships as a whole: Dryden's JV Cheerleaders won the Division I title for the area. Dryden coach Alisha Burlingame is quoted:

"At games, they're there to support their team. This is their day," said Alisha Burlingame, coach of Dryden's varsity and JV squads. Once a Dryden cheerleader herself, Burlingame is well acquainted with the hard work that goes into each routine.

"It's great to see them have one special day and pour their heart into it. They have so much fun," she said.

Thanks to a sharp-eyed reader for pointing out the omission.

Posted by simon at 12:13 PM Comment

February 4, 2006

More rape charges

This morning's Ithaca Journal reports on rape charges filed against a Dryden man after a party on Midline Road. Two other adults who hosted the party are charged with providing alcohol to juveniles at that party. Also, another Dryden man pleaded not guilty to kidnap and rape charges stemming from a December 5th incident.

I'd worried that there seemed to be a lot more rapes over the past few months than in the past, but I've also heard it suggested that the increased willingness of the new Tompkins County DA, Gwen Wilkinson, to prosecute these cases may be leading to more charges filed and more attention to them in the news. It's not good news that this may have been happening all along. Somehow, though, that makes more sense than a post-election outbreak of the very crimes Wilkinson vowed to prosecute more seriously.

There's an extended article about the politics of the library funding referendum. (Remember, that Tuesday election is only for and only affects residents of the Ithaca City School District.) The editorial opposes the proposal for a library tax. In other Ithaca schools news, the district and support employees haven't yet reached a contract.

In the print edition, I'm sorry to see that Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton voted against two measures which might have made the New York State Legislature a more interesting and perhaps functional place. The first would have allowed senior minority party leaders of committees to hold public hearings, and the second would have required conference committees when the Assembly and Senate pass similar bills. At this point, I suspect the only real reform we'll see will come if Eliot Spitzer sticks to his promise to have independent redistricting rather than the usual gerrymandering for the Democrats in the Assembly and the Republicans in the Senate.

Posted by simon at 9:14 AM Comment

Congressional race heating up

Dryden's current congressional representative, Republican Sherwood Boehlert, has a number of opponents this year, as well as slower fund-raising this year than in 2004, when he defeated fellow Republican David Walrath in a primary battle.

This year Boehlert has another Republican opponent to his right, Brad Jones, former mayor of Seneca Falls. Rumors about Boehlert's retirement continue to swirl, and probably will until Boehlert makes his formal announcement in March.

A number of Democrats have expressed interest. Michael Arcuri, the Oneida County District Attorney, spoke in Lansing this past Thursday to local Democrats. (I couldn't make it, unfortunately.) Les Roberts of German, in Chenango County, announced a few weeks ago, and is campaigning full-time. Jeff Miller, who got more votes than Boehlert in the Town of Dryden last time around, will not be running. I've also heard of interest from Leon Koziol of Utica and, closer to Dryden, former Cortland Mayor Bruce Tytler.

Update: I missed a story about an investigation into fund-raising by State Senator Jim Seward, and Boehlert's fundraising may also be in question.

Posted by simon at 9:42 AM Comment

Development on 366

When I moved here in 1999, the businesses between here and the Route 13/366 intersection were pretty quiet. The former Boxcar and State Police barracks were empty, I didn't even realize F & T Distributing were there (and they've moved since), and the Plantation Inn was quiet before its revival. Saunders Greenhouse, Treeforms, and the gas station were more visible.

The last few months have seen some definite growth. I reported earlier on the demolition of the Boxcar, and now an orchid greenhouse has gone up.

Orchid greenhouse on the way.
Orchid greenhouse at the former Boxcar.

I have a whole series of photos of the greenhouse itself going in and the remodeling of the former Loading Dock part of the Boxcar. I'll report again once they're formally open.

Next door, behind the greenhouse, Autoworks is remodeling the former F & T warehouse into a facility for heavier repair jobs. There was some controversy about their going in, but the Town Board approved their permit in October.

Autoworks coming soon.
Autoworks coming soon.

Stone Travel is also transforming the former State Police barracks, and they've done more work there since I took this photo.

Stone Travel under construction.
Stone Travel under construction.

They had their opening celebration a week ago, and are already operating.

Saunders Greenhouse is still a greenhouse, but they've also had a hobby store for a while and recently added nature photos and cards.

Hopefully something like this transformation will happen for the Village of Dryden's downtown, or even for the NYSEG building.

Posted by simon at 10:16 AM Comment

February 6, 2006

Mock trials, parties, cooking, and reading at Dryden schools

This morning's Ithaca Journal is once again quiet on Dryden news, but the February 1st issue of the Dryden Courier is busy, largely with school news.

The lead article visits the mock trial club at Dryden High School, which is busy preparing for a competition later this spring. The article talks with both advisor Jill Weiss and with students, and has a picture of the team inside. An article on the Senior All Night Extravaganza looks at planning for a graduation party for Dryden High School students, but doesn't give away the plans.

Inside the front cover, there's a look at Dryden Superintendent Mark Crawford's cooking skills, especially for breakfast. A picture on the cover and a picture on page 3 illustrate the events at the Thursday Reading Night at Freeville Elementary, where principal Paula Thoma read a Japanese story and children had Japanese-themed activities. (Thoma recently returned from a three-week exchange visit to Japan.)

There's also an article on the Community Science Institute, which oversees water-testing projects in Dryden on Fall Creek and Six Mile Creek. I visited one of their training sessions a while back.

Dryden Girls Basketball gets a color photo on the back of the paper and a black and white photo inside, both from their defeat to Lansing, which was the "Game of the Week." There are also group photos of the Dryden Cheerleading and Indoor Track teams.

There's also a large correction in sports. I noted last week that the Courier had named Abinye Smith athlete of the week, but it turns out that Jordan Minnis was the athlete of the week, having scored 25 points against Moravia.

Posted by simon at 12:17 PM Comment

2006 Congressional race already in motion

I'm still focused on the village elections coming up on March 21st, but people clearly have an eye on November 7th already.

Congressman Sherwood Boehlert will apparently announce whether he's running again in March, but his likely Republican primary opponent, Brad Jones, has a website up. Jones appears to have been running since at least November.

On the Democratic side, the Les Roberts 2006 website provides information on the candidate, his views, and his campaign. Roberts will be speaking in Cortland on the 16th and at Cornell on the 20th of this month.

Posted by simon at 9:56 PM Comment

February 7, 2006

Fire at Mineah Road apartments

This morning's Ithaca Journal reports on a bathroom fire on Mineah Road. The Dryden, Freeville, Varna, and Cayuga Heights fire departments responded.

On the opinion page, Steve Scott of Dryden sees no contradiction between being pro-life and pro-death penalty.

Posted by simon at 8:52 AM Comment

Library vote today, Noon-9pm

Dryden residents who live in the Ithaca City School District can vote today on the library funding referendum. Like Ithaca school board elections, voting location varies by where you live:

  • If you live in election district 1 or 5 (meaning you vote at Etna Fire Station in regular elections), the parts of the Ithaca district east of Baker Hill Road, you vote at Northeast Elementary School (map).

  • If you live in election district 4, which includes Varna, Hanshaw Road from Ithaca to Route 13, and the area between Game Farm and Turkey Hill Roads, you vote at the Varna Community Center (map).

  • If you live in election district 8, the south side of Ellis Hollow Road over Snyder Hill to Route 79 and Bethel Grove (and normally vote at Bethel Grove Church), you vote at the Belle Sherman Annex (map).

  • If you live in election district 9, the north side of Ellis Hollow Road, Ellis Hollow Creek, Ringwood Road, and many other smaller roads there, then you vote at Caroline Elementary School (map).

The Journal gave this election a box on the front page, much more notice of the election than the silence of their front page last November 8th.

Posted by simon at 8:55 AM Comment

February 8, 2006

Library tax rejected; Harley decor

This morning's Ithaca Journal reports (in its print edition only) that the library funding referendum failed yesterday. Voters in the Ithaca City School District (which includes southwestern Dryden) rejected the proposal 3091-1679. The 17% turnout was more turnout than the last six school board elections have seen.

Fans of Harley-Davidson motorcycles will enjoy an article on Susan and Charlie McCormick and the Harley parked in their livingroom, where it's part of the decoration. It's not just decoration, of course - it also gets used regularly.

Briefly in Dryden lists Saturday's Etna Chocolate Festival, which I highly recommend after visiting last year. It'll be from 10:30am to noon at Houtz Hall (map).

Also, tonight from 6:00pm to 7:00pm, the Dryden PTO will be hosting a presentation on "The Social Life of Your Middle Schooler" at the Dryden Middle School/High School library.

Posted by simon at 8:38 AM Comment

Town Board meeting tomorrow night

The town's public notices page is still showing January, but the agenda for tomorrow night's Town Board meeting is available.

Highlights include a report from the Town Historian, a telecommunications law amendment (regarding cell phone towers, I think), "Discuss land use Town property", Town Hall development, a presentation on stormwater management, an update on the Town web site.

Two conversations between the Town and Village of Dryden are on the agenda: one about the Cortland Road Sewer District and one about a proposed contract for Village police for the Town Courts.

The meeting will be tomorrow, Thursday, at 7:00pm at the Dryden Town Hall (map).

Posted by simon at 8:55 AM Comment

New announcement in Congressional race

Congressman Sherwood Boehlert officially gained a new opponent yesterday, as Leon Koziol of Utica, "a self-described conservative Democrat," formally announced that he too would challenge Boehlert.

Also, in an earlier piece on the Congressional race, I mentioned that Boehlert's fundraising might be part of an investigation. Boehlert reports that he is not under investigation by the New York State Lobbying Commission, though there's a catch:

But state lobbying regulators have not asked him for information about his parties because he is a federal and not a state employee, he said.

As a House member, Boehlert is subject to the Lobbying Disclosure Act and other federal rules. He said that because he and Rich have known each other since before 1982, when he was first elected to Congress, their relationship comes under the "friendship exception" that allows them to exchange gifts.

Nonetheless, Boehlert said, he does not accept gifts from Rich and even pays his host when he happens to spend the night at Edgewater.

"I do that just to make sure everything is above-board," he said.

David Grandeau, the Lobbying Commission’s executive director, said it has no authority over federal officials.

The investigation may, however, involve State Senator Jim Seward, who changed his filings immediately after the investigation was announced, claiming "a clerical error".

Posted by simon at 5:52 PM Comment

February 9, 2006

$4 million in bonds, plus more for TC3 master plan

This morning's Ithaca Journal reports that the County Legislature approved bonds and other funding for TC3's master plan:

The county committed to providing $10.2 million for the college's project. Besides the $4 million in bonds approved Tuesday, the county also is allocating $3.6 million in refinanced tobacco payments, $620,000 in other funding and $1.9 million in credit. The college's master plan includes new athletic facilities, additional classroom and laboratory space and new student health and activities centers for the Dryden campus.

Posted by simon at 8:45 AM Comment

February 10, 2006

Town Hall progress, budget, timeline

This morning's Ithaca Journal reports on progress toward a new Town Hall. Jennie Daley reports on progress on contracts with architects and engineers, as well as a current cost estimate from $2 million to $2.4 million. (The 2002 estimates were around $1.6 million, but based purely on a square-footage estimate.)

The Town Board talked about dates last night as well, expressing hopes for starting the bidding process on construction by March 31st and having the building ready next March. As the Journal notes, there are still a lot of design questions to be answered, especially around energy efficiency and construction materials. They're much further along with this than I had thought, though.

One other issue that came up but isn't raised in the article is the question of the additional land the town purchased when the bought the land for the Town Hall. Environmental Planner Dan Kwasnowski said he'd assemble a road map for that conversation, including public input. Town Board member Marty Christofferson wanted to make sure that the Town didn't start paying for design drawings and other work before there was a basic agreement on what the land would look like.

The Journal article also notes continuing work on the Cortland Road Sewer District negotiations between the Town and the Village. The two seem to have agreed on basic terms, but the Town voted to proceed with a study that they hope will allow them to avoid some expensive construction.

The Journal's editorial congratulates new District Attorney Gwen Wilkinson for her immediate attention to sex crimes, something I'd noted while wondering about all the recent rape headlines. The Journal writes:

Although we'd rather have no such news to report, Wilkinson's hands-on approach to allegations of sex crimes is a reassuring sight. Critics have complained in the past that rape and sexual assaults were sometimes handled too lightly in Tompkins County, with state Division of Criminal Justice records showing a higher percentage of felony rape arrests plea bargained to lesser charges than in several surrounding counties. Wilkinson made a point of that during her campaign, promising to take a very tough stance when it comes to sexual crimes in Tompkins County.

From all early appearance, the new D.A. is making good on her promise.

Of course it's too early to tell if Wilkinson's hand-on posture will translate into more felony convictions. Beyond that, it may take years to measure whether the county's get-tough stance on sex crimes will build a climate of intolerance for such intolerable acts and thereby increase the safety of local residents.

All that remains to be seen. But the longest journey begins with a single step, and Wilkinson has shown on this front she's taking the D.A.'s office in the right direction.

In related news, the Journal reports on the new Sheriff's Department website.

Posted by simon at 8:32 AM Comment

More on Seward, Boehlert investigations

I'm not sure why the Ithaca Journal isn't keeping up with this, but the Oneonta Daily Star has more news on the investigations of improper gifts to State Senator Jim Seward and Congressman Sherwood Boehlert.

The gift-givers, Walter Rich and his New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway, don't seem interested in cooperating with the investigation:

"They have asked for information that involves purely fundraising activities over which they have no jurisdiction," said Jim Featherstonhaugh, attorney for the railway, adding he is fighting the request. "We today (Tuesday) received a letter asking for more information than was originally provided pursuant to that subpoena. The letter stated if the information was not provided ... they would seek to enforce the subpoena."

...Featherstonhaugh said the investigation appears to be focusing on popular political fundraisers held at Rich's railroad-owned residence each year during the National Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies weekend. Specifically, the commission asked for information involving fundraisers for state Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, Gov. George Pataki and Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, R-New Hartford, in 2004 and 2005, Featherstonhaugh said.

State campaign-finance filings indicate a partial payment for the 2004 fundraiser for Seward amounted to an illegally excessive contribution by Rich's railway. The filing was recently amended to indicate the payment was instead legally made by Rich's Fund for Better Transportation Political Action Committee.

The NYSW, incidentally, runs just to the east of Dryden, through Marathon, Cortland, and Homer.

Posted by simon at 6:58 PM Comment

February 11, 2006

Regional web sites

I was just talking on WHCU with Dave Vieser, and mentioned some web sites looking at upstate New York. I wasn't on long enough to identify them by name, but two that I strongly recommend, and which link to more excellent sites, are NYCO's Blog and York Staters.

Posted by simon at 7:26 AM Comment

Missing a friend; Dryden opinions on St.Patrick's Four

This morning's Ithaca Journal includes a sad letter from Evan Kurtz of Dryden reflecting on the recent accident on Route 13 which killed 70-year-old Janice Cortright:

I always knew her cheerful greeting, endless chatter, and heartfelt thanks whenever we met. I don't know why she was heading into Dryden on Tuesday morning when she was killed, or what exactly happened, I just know I will miss her.

The opinion page also includes two rather different Dryden opinions of the St. Patrick's Four. The Four are Ithaca Catholic Worker activists recently convicted in federal court for their part in protests at the Lansing army recruitment office after a mistrial in Tompkins County. Gary Simmons of Dryden writes:

The so called St. Patrick's Four are only interested in getting their 15 minutes of fame. I'll bet they keep a scrapbook to save all their press clippings.

While Steve Adams of Dryden questions the Journal's coverage:

The article went on at some length about the costs to the taxpayers of Binghamton of providing a setting for the trial, without identifying the party responsible for that trial: the federal government.

The legal process was proceeding apace, with a local jury of their peers initially unable to agree on the guilt of the four defendants, before the federal prosecutor insisted on taking up the matter and burdening the taxpayers of Binghamton.

A Dryden resident was arrested for DWI on Route 13.

Posted by simon at 7:46 AM Comment

February 13, 2006

Tytler announces Congressional run in Dryden

The Ithaca Journal has an article on former Cortland Mayor Bruce Tytler's run for Congress. Tytler toured the district for his announcement this weekend, visiting Rome, Utica, Oneonta, Norwich, Auburn, and Dryden, where about fifteen people braved the cold and wind to hear him speak.

Bruce Tytler announces his run for Congress
Bruce Tytler announces his run for Congress on the Village Green in Dryden.

Tytler spoke yesterday in front of the fountain, talking about the needs of this Congressional district, arguing that we need to better than "one of the least bad" Republicans, and comparing the need for textbooks in past classrooms with the need for computers in today's classrooms.

Tytler grew up in the Town of Oxford, and is a past alderman and mayor of the City of Cortland. He is currently the Chairman of the Social Studies Department at Homer High School, and serves on the Boards of Directors for Loaves and Fishes and Cortland Area Communities That Care.

On the opinion page, Stacey Crawford of Better Housing for Tompkins County writes about the need for affordable housing in Tompkins County, and notes that:

Later this spring, we will hold meetings in five area communities - Lansing, Dryden, Groton, Danby and Newfield - to provide information to concerned citizens on homes within reach and get input on what might fit in their communities.

Posted by simon at 8:33 AM Comment

Another fine Chocolate Festival

The Etna Community Association had one of my favorite events this Saturday, their February Chocolate Festival. Houtz Hall had tables set up along two walls, with samples of all kinds of chocolate available for tasting (25¢ each) and sometimes purchase in larger quantities.

Serving chocolates
Serving chocolates in Etna.

A closer look at the chocolates
A closer look at the chocolates.

Sadly, you can't taste the chocolates at this site; photos are all I have to offer. Hopefully next February they'll do it again!

Posted by simon at 9:15 PM Comment

February 14, 2006

Valentine's Day options, graduation rates

This morning's Ithaca Journal looks at last-minute options for Valentine's Day, visiting Arnold's Flowers in Dryden and including a picture of Freeville resident Randy French.

High school graduation rates around the county are higher in Tompkins County than in the state. The state average for graduation within four years is 64%, while school districts within the county ranged from 66.3% to 92.8%. The print edition shows that for students who started in 2000, 88.8% of Dryden students and 87.6% of Ithaca students graduated in five years. In 2001, 76.1% of Dryden students and 81.0% of Ithaca students graduated within four years. The article notes that Dryden has the highest local rate of students seeking Graduate Equivalency Diplomas (GEDs), at 5.6%, and quotes Superintendent Mark Crawford on the need for schools to reach out to students:

Sometimes, I think what happens with a lot of young people is they are socialized away from school.

Posted by simon at 8:38 AM Comment

February 15, 2006

Transportation study; lobbyist boils

There isn't much on Dryden specifically in this morning's Ithaca Journal, but there's an article on setting the scope for a joint Town of Ithaca-Cornell transportation study, which I believe the Town of Dryden will also be participating in.

Meanwhile, the Journal has a guest column from an Albany lobbyist who's very upset that the Journal criticized Albany lobbyists in a January 24th editorial. (I seem not to have noticed that editorial, but maybe it was because I was distracted by news that lobbyists outnumber legislators 18:1.)

Shanahan writes:

Perhaps the most disappointing thing about The Journal's dismissive contempt for those who exercise their First Amendment rights, is that The Journal seems to believe when some people exercise those rights it's "pure," but when others exercise them it isn't ("Lobbyist limits: Setting tight cap a good first step," Jan. 24). Our First Amendment rights are the same. They aren't better or worse, pure or tainted, depending on who's exercising them.

I'd like to join the Ithaca Journal in its "dismissive contempt for lobbyists," and point out that there is a huge difference between the free speech of people talking and writing and the expenditure of large sums of money in an effort to convince legislators to do what those with the cash would like them to do. The former is much more easily defended as pure - the latter is simply not defensible. The Supreme Court's unfortunate conflation of free speech with spending has led to an arms race for influence that those without cash have no opportunity to win.

As for the argument that lobbyists are necessary to present politicians with information they need, that's also simply bogus. The only reason lobbyists make money doing that is that the government can't be bothered to do it itself. Outside interests are more willing to spend that money than our government itself - and that's a sad statement about the state of government, not a kind statement about lobbyists.

Lobbyists may wince at the Jack Abramoff scandal in Washington and repeated calls for reform in Albany, and I hope they'll wince a lot more in the next few years.

Posted by simon at 8:06 AM Comment

Nature preserve in winter

The last time I posted photos of the O.D. von Engeln Nature Preserve, it was September. It looked rather different Saturday, under a few inches of snow.

A spring-filled stream through the snow-covered swamp
A spring-filled stream through the snow-covered swamp.

Bog in winter
Bog in winter.

If you'd like to visit, even though this lovely snow is now melting, it's off West Malloryville Road (map), not too far from McLean.

Posted by simon at 8:41 AM Comment

More on Thursday's Town Board meeting

Town Board member Mary Ann Sumner has posted a summary of the February Town Board meeting that covers a lot of ground, including the ever-popular question of speed limit reductions in populated areas. Definitely worth a vist.

Posted by simon at 8:48 AM Comment

February 16, 2006

I'm pretty sure that's Dryden....

The front page of this morning's City & County section in the Ithaca Journal includes a photo of kids playing outside a school with this caption:

Jaclyn Calale tows Ashley Ward in the dogsled pull during the fourth grade's winter Olympics Monday morning as the rest of Jill Knout's class cheers them on. All seven fourth grade classes took turns going through seven events that included javelin toss, dogsled pull, snowball on a spoon relay, biggest snow pile, Olympic trivia, torch relay and filling a five-gallon bucket with snow.

They don't say which school it is (and the online version is even missing the caption!), but I think that's Dryden Elementary in the background. If anyone can confirm or deny that in the comments, I'd appreciate it.

On the opinion page, Maureen Brull of Dryden asks how much more America will put up with from its current administration.

Posted by simon at 8:56 AM Comment

February 17, 2006

Ambassador visits

I've missed a week on the Dryden Courier, so I'd better catch up on that.

The February 8th issue leads with an article and photos on the visit of Ambassador Bob F. Jalang'o, former Ambassador to the United Nations from Kenya, to Dryden Middle School:

Jalang'o spent about three hours with the students, bringing with him facts, games, photos, and even an African drum performance. He also brought similarities between the two countries as well as stark differences, giving students insight into a country most have never seen before.

That issue also looks at the early contract agreement between Dryden Schools and the Dryden Faculty Association, and visits Michael Arcuri, a candidate for Sherwood Boehlert's seat in Congress. An article on the Central New York School Boards Association Legislative Breakfast includes Dryden board member Chris Gibbons arguing that "the education of our children should be above party lines."

Southworth Library is having an amnesty week on book fines through the 18th, and the Dairy Day committee is having a contest to help choose a theme for this June's event.

In Anecdotes and Brevities, Harry Weldon tells the story of the surveying and naming of Dryden and other local towns.

In sports, there's an article and an editorial of congratulations on the induction of the Dryden class of 1979 girls basketball team, which was inducted into the Dryden Athletic Hall of Fame. There's an article on the current girls basketball team defeating Trumansburg 59-26, an article on the boys basketball team losing to Trumansburg 48-46, and a photo of the wrestling team.

Posted by simon at 12:31 PM Comment

February 18, 2006

Helping the Dominican Republic

A group of teenagers from Dryden, Ithaca, Lansing, and Trumansburg will be traveling to Monte Plata in the Dominican Republic this week to deliver supplies and paint houses. Peter Mattingly, a Dryden High School freshman, collected 300 Spanish-language books for his Eagle Scout project, and those will be delivered on the trip. The trip is sponsored by St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Ithaca.

A Dryden resident was arrested for robbing the Dryden XtraMart Thursday night.

Assessment notices will be mailed next week to 7300 county property owners. These notices will be at 90% of full market value rather than 100%, a first step toward the new three-year assessment cycle:

Coggin said the department is anticipating increased assessments on the following types of properties: Lakefront properties, vacant land, apartment class, and a number of pocket areas in the residential class.

The Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology is sponsoring the Great Backyard Bird Count this weekend.

Congressman Sherwood Boehlert came out in favor of a full-scale investigation of the president's warrantless wiretapping:

"Therefore, an inquiry and hearing would be very much in order," he said. "I want the facts."...

"I want my president to be able to act immediately when there is a serious threat," Boehlert said. "But I also want the proper follow through. It appears there was widespread use of authority vested in the president without following through with the FISA court."

Posted by simon at 7:21 AM Comment

Just a little wind

I enjoyed yesterday's winds, but didn't think they were all that powerful here, at least until I saw this:

Blown-over billboard along Route 13
Blown-over billboard along Route 13.

The Journal reports wind gusts of 54mph, but it had sounded like most of the damage was further west. This morning I heard that power lines and poles were down to our east in Cortland as well, with much of Virgil losing power.

Posted by simon at 11:03 AM Comment

February 20, 2006

School board appointee, Town Hall update

The Feburary 15th issue of the Dryden Courier talks with newly appointed Dryden School Board member Jeff Bradley about returning to the board he served on for twelve years after a three-year break. There's a picture of the Etna Chocolate Festival on the cover, as well as an article looking at the plans for building the new Town Hall.

Inside, there's an article on Beyond Measure, the Dryden High School a cappella group, which has again been named one of the top 20 high school a cappella groups. Their performance of "Where is the love?" will appear on a Best of High School A Cappella CD to be released later this spring. There's also a piece on Carlton Manzano of Freeville, whose landscape paintings are on display and for sale at the Ulysses Library in Trumansburg.

There's a profile of new County Legislator Duane "Tyke" Randall, who represents Groton plus the eastern edge of Lansing and the northeastern corner of Dryden.

In sports, Paul Gangarossa was looking forward to a possible Dryden-Lansing girls basketball game, but the seedings that came out didn't include it in the end. There's a photo of Dryden wrestler Rex Hollenbeck, and mention of IAC all-star swimmers Steve Rugg, Miles Merwin, and Devin Perkins of Dryden.

An article on the Boys and Girls Age Group track meet at Cornell notes that Dryden's Megan Stuttle won the girls' long jump and Taylon Allmendiner won the boys' triple jump. Stuttle is one of the paper's Athletes of the Week for her victory and her strong performance this season.

Posted by simon at 11:06 AM Comment

On the boundaries

There aren't a whole lot of businesses and organizations right on the boundaries of Dryden, but there are a few.

I just added two places that are pretty much right on the town lines to the links at left. On the western edge of town, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's building is in the Town of Ithaca, but their property and trails extend into Dryden. On the eastern edge, Holy Smoke Stove Fireplace Chimney is on Alberts Road, less than a quarter-mile east of the boundary at Walker Road.

Dryden's boundaries vary depending on who you talk to, and these seemed pretty clearly to fit.

(Also, I've added a number of businesses and organizations over the last few months, so take a look at the left column again if you haven't lately.)

Posted by simon at 5:08 PM Comment

February 21, 2006

Rape charges repeated

This morning's Ithaca Journal reports that a Dryden man has been charged with 1st degree rape. I'm not entirely sure why this is in The Monitor now, as the same story was reported on February 4th.

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Posted by simon at 8:25 AM Comment

Soil survey maps

There's a lot of discussion of soil types at Town Hall. Soil types affect everything from agriculture to septic tank placement to erosion and runoff. The Town of Dryden Comprehensive Plan includes Map 4-1, Natural Constraints to Development (1.9MB PDF), which is a combination of soil type and floodplain data. It's a useful map if you want to know where the best agricultural soils (Class I & II) in town are, and where it's too swampy to build. It doesn't, however, have the detail of the USDA Soil Survey from which it's drawn.

I'm planning some fairly large changes to my lawn and garden over the next few years, and when asked about the soil type, I responded "Clay, with lots of rocks." As I learned from the Series 1961 Soil Survey of Tompkins County, New York, however, my soil isn't all that bad. The maps of soil locations, superimposed on aerial photographs, are astounding:

Soiil survey map
Soil survey map for the intersection of modern Route 366 and Baker Hill Road.

The maps are interesting in themselves, as they reflect the road system before Route 13 moved. Current 366 through Varna and Ithaca was old Route 13. The aerial photos are also dated, showing the current forest across from my house but empty pasture lined with the occasional tree behind it. Of couse, there also aren't so many houses, and there's a railroad track, but the powerlines seem to have stayed in the same place.

My house - the second building to the east of the Route 13 marker - turns out to be on LaC soil, Langford channery silt loam, with slopes of 3 to 8 percent, a Type III soil. The land behind me is BoE, Bath and Valois soils, with 25 to 35 percent slopes, "too steep to be cultivated safely with modern machinery," where "erosion would be a very serious hazard" if the soil was plowed.

My LaC soil has a depth of 12 to 18 inches before hitting the fragipan, a dense layer of soil that isn't very permeable. Above that fragipan it drains well, and is fairly acid. Unfortunately, it's soil that's already eroded, having lost 4 to 6 inches in the past, increasing spring moisture and supplying fewer nutrients.

I have a lot of work to do in the garden, but really marvel at the people who went out and sampled all this terrain to produce these maps. It's fairly hard to imagine teams of people with shovels visiting the whole county, though my understanding is that it was done during the depression.

(Unfortunately, the very cool looking NCSS Soil Survey online maps report that they have no data for Tompkins County.)

Posted by simon at 8:34 AM Comment

February 22, 2006

Rural visions, transportation

Wednesday used to be a big day for Dryden because of the Our Towns section, but lately it seems quieter. There is some vaguely Dryden-related news on the opinion page, with a look at the joint Ithaca-Cornell transportation study getting started.

A column by State Senator George Winner talks about the NYS Legislative Commission on Rural Resources. The Commission, which also includes Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, is working on a Rural Visioning Project with Cornell's Community & Rural Development Institute and Rural New York Initiative.

Posted by simon at 8:24 AM Comment

Race for the 24th; candidate speaking next Thursday

While no one is sure if Congressman Sherwood Boehlert is in or out of the race, there are lots of contenders for his seat.

One of them, Les Roberts, will be speaking and taking questions at the Lansing Community Center (map) next Thursday, March 2nd, at 7:00pm. The press release notes:

Mr. Roberts is an epidemiologist who served in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. His current research estimating the numbers of civilian deaths in the current Iraq conflict has generated considerable interest among academics and policy-makers. Cawley adds, "Les Roberts' visit to Lansing is a unique opportunity for residents to hear from and question a renowned expert in both health policy and the consequences of the Iraq war. Given the flaws in the new Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit, and the ongoing quagmire in Iraq, we expect tremendous interest in Mr. Roberts’ visit."

There are lots of other contenders in the race, including Democrats Leon Koziol, Bruce Tytler, and Mike Arcuri, as well as Republican Brad Jones.

Also, I just heard (thanks to Kathy Zahler on Casey Stevens' show this morning) of a weblog focused on the 24th district race from a Democratic perspective, Take Back New York's 24th.

Posted by simon at 12:26 PM Comment

February 23, 2006

Dryden views on Bush impeachment possibilities

The Ithaca Journal's opinion page today is filled with replies to former Assemblyman Marty Luster's December 26th call for the impeachment of President Bush.

Writing from Freeville, E. W. Seymour finds Luster "very offensive", while Carol Cleveland of Dryden writes that "The only fault I can find in Marty Luster's Dec. 26, 2005 column is that it doesn't go far enough."

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Posted by simon at 7:44 AM Comment

February 24, 2006

Crash at Simms Hill Road, 13

This morning's Ithaca Journal reports a crash yesterday morning between a car turning left onto Simms Hill Road and another car traveling north on 13. Three people were injured, and both cars totaled. Dryden and McLean firefighters responded and put out a car fire, and Dryden Ambulance took the injured to hospitals.

(I was at that intersection last night, and the snow then was basically impossible to see through. I'm glad not to have joined the list of recent accidents there.)

There's a photo of blood donation at TC3, and an announcement of a chicken and biscuit dinner Saturday at the Freeville Methodist Church starting at 4:00pm.

On the opinion page, there are three letters from Dryden about the recent uproar over cartoon caricatures of Mohammed. The Journal itself has decided not to publish the cartoons, despite a request from Richard Jorgensen of Freeville. Brian Jones of Freeville complains about anti-Semitic cartoons in Muslim nation papers and anti-Christian imagery here in the United States. Helen Mundell of Dryden cites St.Paul: "Well, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you are doing, do all for the honour of God: give no offence to Jews, or Greeks, or to the church of God."

If you need something more to worry about, there's an article on New York State's planning for possible pandemics. I think I'll stock up on my two weeks of food and water before everyone else rushes to the store. (And Prepared Tompkins, which just started recently, is also providing advice on these issues.)

Posted by simon at 8:22 AM Comment

Lansing Star

I just noticed an ad at WHCU's web site for the Lansing Star. If you want weekly news on Dryden's neighbor to the west, this looks like it will be helpful. It looks like it has a strictly Lansing focus similar to this site's Dryden focus, and it's good to see someone doing something kind of parallel.

Posted by simon at 8:58 AM Comment

February 27, 2006

Non-technical difficulties

First travel and now a major cold have brought posting here to a temporary halt. I hope to be writing again today or tomorrow.

Posted by simon at 8:56 AM Comment

February 28, 2006

Big changes coming to TC3

It's time to stop sneezing and report on what's happened in Dryden for the last few days. Fortunately, it's not all that much.

Saturday's paper had a detailed look at TC3, with multiple articles looking at its past and present. The print version has more charts and other details about TC3, but the main article, The TC3 Puzzle Comes Together, includes lots of information on where TC3 has been, how it's grown, and how it's adapting to change. There are also an article on the new creative writing program, a set of historic photos of TC3, and an interactive map of the campus.

The Saturday paper also has a letter from Peter Harriott of Dryden encouraging the development of wind power.

There's also mention in today's paper of an Ithaca man's arrest for DWI on Lower Creek Road.

Just this afternoon, the Journal posted a notice of a one-car accident closing North Road near East Malloryville Road.

Posted by simon at 5:04 PM Comment

Nuisance law rejected

The February 22nd Dryden Courier reports that the Village of Dryden dropped a proposed nuisance law, citing concerns of landlords. There's also an article on Philip Pamel, whose Eagle Scout project will focus on building eight benches for the new baseball field on Wall Street.

There's a brief article on the school board meeting, approving some positions, a field trip, a book donation, grants, and the district's share of repairing a roof at TST BOCES.

In sports, the Dryden girls basketball team was seeded 8th in sectionals, a position editor Paul Gangarossa thinks mistaken:

How is it possible that Dryden's girls basketball team is seeded all the down to No. 8? ... Dryden did what they did with the schedule they got and should be no lower than the six spot.

Jason Pelletier is listed as the Division I Boys Champion for Pole Vault, at 13 feet, and Megan Stuttle is Division I Girls Champion for the Long Jump, at 17'04.75", and the Triple Jump, at 33'07.75". There's also a picture of her jumping. In diving, Jon Ottenschot, Will Edgecomb, and Nick Lange placed 11th, 14th, and 15th, at the Section IV Championship meet.

Posted by simon at 5:21 PM Comment