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Kevin Rivoli, The Citizen 

Auburn head coach Mike Lowe, center, celebrates with Jake Morin after defeating Clinton 5-1 in the Section III, Division II hockey title game in the Syracuse.

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Democratic primary possible in race to unseat Rep. John Katko for Congress

Dana Balter was the clear favorite among the four candidates for the Democratic designation in the 24th Congressional District race. She won the Onondaga County Democrats' endorsement Saturday by an overwhelming margin. She already had the support of Democrats in Cayuga, Oswego and Wayne counties. 

"With a unified Democratic Party and a wave of grassroots support we are ready to win this race and to finally create some real change in Washington that will help New York families," Balter said in a statement following Saturday's vote. 

While Democrats hoped to shift their attention to a general election duel with U.S. Rep. John Katko, a two-term Republican, a primary is possible for the party's nomination. 

There were four Democrats in the 24th Congressional District race: Balter, Bill Bass, Scott Comegys and Anne Messenger. Comegys, an alpaca farmer from Wayne County, dropped out of the race over the weekend. He endorsed Balter for Congress. 

Messenger, a Manlius businesswoman and philanthropist, was viewed as one of the most serious contenders in the Democratic field. But after finishing as the runner-up to Balter in the designation votes, she has ended her campaign. 

"I will not split the party further and am taking myself out of the primary field for Dana so she can take on the congressman," Messenger said in a statement Monday. 

But one of Balter's fellow Democrats isn't ending their bid for the party's nomination. 

Bass, D-Syracuse, doesn't believe his supporters and the issues they stand for are being heard by Balter's campaign. He sees no reason to end his campaign, despite Balter securing the Democratic designation. 

As the designee, Balter will hold a sizable advantage over Bass in a primary. Because she is the designated candidate, committee members will circulate petitions to ensure she secures the Democratic line. To run on the Democratic line, candidates for Congress must secure 1,250 valid signatures. 

Bass believes he will have the infrastructure in place to obtain the necessary signatures and officially force a primary in the 24th Congressional District race. 

The path forward for Bass appears to involve running to Balter's right in the primary. He also believes he's the better choice to represent central New York values. 

"I don't think we need go from someone who votes 90 percent with Trump to switch it to someone who is going to vote 90 percent with Nancy Pelosi," he said. "We need someone who's going to be a moderate, a true moderate that this district is looking for. We can't just go from one fringe element on the right to the fringe element on the left." 

A Democratic primary could benefit Katko, R-Camillus, as he seeks a third term in Congress. During the 2016 campaign, there was a three-way Democratic primary between eventual nominee Colleen Deacon, Eric Kingson and Steve Williams. Deacon won the primary election, but was forced to spend resources to fend off her fellow Democratic challengers. 

Katko didn't have to focus on his Democratic challenger until the primary was over. He was able to conserve funds and went on to win re-election by 22 percentage points. 

Democrats nationwide are hoping for a wave to win control of Congress. To regain the majority in the House of Representatives, Democrats need to win at least 24 seats. 

Finding Genoa's footprint in the Civil War

KING FERRY — The Genoa Historical Association held its first Civil War presentation and round table discussion centered on the war and people from Genoa who fought in the war on Sunday at the Rural Life Museum located at 920 Route 34B.

Between the years of 1861-1864, 156 men from Genoa enlisted into the Civil War. Although there were no companies entirely from Genoa, local men joined more than 10 other companies, said presenter Vince Slaugh, a member of Genoa's Historical Association. The three most popular regiments were the 111th New York Infantry Regiment, the 75th Infantry Regiment, also known as the Auburn or the Cayuga County Regiment, and the 3rd New York Artillery.

Slaugh said one of the things that struck him were soldiers letters written to family about preserving the Union. He said soldiers were writing letters that intelligently expressed that "preserving the Union means showing that it's possible for democracy to exist in the world. ... You'll find soldiers writing about how the whole world is watching."

Slaugh said this was important because during the 1800s it "wasn't the best time for democracy around the world," and other nations were wrestling over what kind of government to have and wondering if democracy could really work.

Other letters from Genoa soldiers expressed motivations for enlisting, which for some included contempt for the slave-owning class in the South.

"Even if they didn't necessarily feel strongly about freedom and rights for African Americans," Slaugh said, "they still didn't like slavery because they thought it meant a lot of bad things for the white working class in the future."

Col. George D. Robinson, of Genoa, was highlighted during the presentation, in part due to his relation to Genoa Historical Association's board member Karen Spiero. Robinson became a second lieutenant in the 75th New York Infantry in 1861, and in 1863 he became a major for the Corps d'Afrique, and then became the colonel of the third regiment of Louisiana Colored Engineers, which would later become the 97th United States Colored Infantry Regiment, Slaugh explained.

"If you were leading a black regiment," board member Joe Jadhon added, "you weren't allowed the privilege of being captured, you would be massacred for doing that ... so that was pretty novel."

"I knew my whole life that he was my relative," Spiero said. "The thing that surprised me was to find out that this guy was more famous that I thought."

Jadhon, who described himself as a Civil War enthusiast, also gave a presentation titled "Equipment and Arms of the Infantry Soldier, 1861-1865." He broke down the gear a soldier carried, totaling around 60 pounds, from foot to head.

The shoes soldiers wore were called Brogans, and were "more or less, a slippery piece of wood," Jadhon said of the wood-soled shoes. Soldiers wore sky blue wool trousers, a belt with a US belt buckle, basic white undershirts, suspenders, and either a frock or a sack coat, depending on when in the war the coats were issued. Soldiers also carried their cap, bugle, cartridge box with a golden eagle pin, cap box, bayonet, haversacks — cotton pouches dipped in tar to become weatherproof — to carry personal items, a canteen, and, of course, a musket.

In addition to their clothes and weapons, soldiers also had to carry all of their lodging necessities such as wool blankets and a shelter half — essentially half of a canvas tent that made it so soldiers had to find a buddy to create a tent to sleep under at night.

Jadhon and Slaugh both encouraged the community to share any other artifacts like letters, weapons or maps from their own families' that would help contribute to the story of Genoa during the Civil War.

"Hopefully (this event was) the kickoff of something that will keep going," Jadhon said. "Lets figure it out and learn together."

Genoa's Civil War round table

Megan Ehrhart / Megan Ehrhart, The Citizen 

Vince Slaugh shows the names of the men from Genoa who died in battle during the Civil War during the round table event at the Rural Life Museum on Sunday on Route 34B.

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Village of Moravia experiencing significant water loss, cause remains unknown

MORAVIA — The village of Moravia is losing 52 percent of the water that is being pumped into its water system, costing about $100,000 per year.

During a regular meeting on Monday, the village board listened to a report from Mike Perkins, the head of the public works department and discussed the issue and ways they could address the dramatic water loss.

The village has some leaks in its water system, "or something terribly wrong," said Mayor Gary Mulvaney.

Perkins suggested perhaps replacing all of the meters would help. It's a solution the village is already working toward but it has only replaced 75 out of nearly 700 water meters so far. Perkins also suggested doing a leak detection study each year to help identify problems, but that would cost the village $8,000 a year.

Two years ago, the village had the company New York Leak Detection do an assessment and numerous leaks were found, Mulvaney said. The village fixed all the identified leaks and the water loss percentage fluctuated for a couple months but then went back up. In 2008, the village was only experiencing a 29 percent water loss.

The village board, along with Perkins, are perplexed as to what the cause of the water loss is, and are uncertain about how to address the problem. Residents consumption rate remains stable and consistent from quarter to quarter.

Perkins said on average, people are consuming about half of the amount of water being pumped daily. There are two known leaks, one on North Main Street, and another on West Cayuga Street, but generally leaks are only found when water bubbles to the surface, or if someone calls and informs the village they're experiencing a loss of water pressure.

"It's very discouraging because last year we had leaks and this year it's worse," said board member Nancy McGuerty. "There's not much we can do except attack the problems we know we have."

She suggested that the village continue to fix leaks as they are found.

"Our water loss keeps going up and up and up," said board member Chris Fulton. "We've got some major leaks somewhere, but no one knows where ... they are."

Perkins affirmed that he's checked everything that he knows, adding that the water system is very old but it's mapped out fairly well.

"I haven't heard anyone come up with a real good solution yet," Mulvaney said as the village board was finishing its discussion.

The village decided to have the two known leaks fixed as soon as possible, and then to move forward. Mulvaney is hopeful that those fixes, along with a water main break along Routes 38 and 38A that was fixed last week, will help with the village's water loss issue. He also has a meeting this week with New York Leak Detection; doing another leak detection study after the repairs are done is likely the next step of action.

"Obviously, this will be on our agenda for a while until we can come up with a better solution," Mulvaney said.

NY lawmakers propose plastic bag ban, fee for other carryout bags

Three Democratic state legislators want to take action this year to address plastic bag pollution in New York.

A bill sponsored by Assemblyman Steve Englebright and state Sens. Brad Hoylman and Liz Krueger would ban plastic carryout bags. The measure would also impose a minimum 10-cent fee on paper and reusable bags. The highest fee that could be charged for paper and reusable bags is 25 cents. 

The proposal is modeled after California's plastic bag law and based on one of the recommendations outlined in a report released in January by New York's Plastic Bag Task Force. The task force, which was led by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, didn't endorse one option over another. 

The task force was formed last year after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation blocking the implementation of a new law in New York City that would've charged consumers a 5-cent fee for single-use plastic bags. 

"Because of Albany's failure to act, cities, towns and counties across our state have been forced to take matters into their own hands," Krueger, D-Manhattan, said. "Worse than that, the legislature and the governor took the unprecedented step of overturning New York City's own proven, effective solution. At the time the governor called for a statewide solution — and that's just what this bill provides." 

The lawmakers opted for a 25-cent maximum to ensure consumers wouldn't be charged exorbitant fees. The floor and ceiling for bag fees will also give retailers the ability to set rates that will help offset the costs of providing paper or reusable bags. 

Customers who are paying for groceries with Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program benefits, commonly referred to as food stamps, or the Women, Infants and Children program will be exempt from the bag fees. 

The statewide prohibition wouldn't apply to carryout bags provided by restaurants or plastic bags used for bulk food, meat and produce. 

"After Albany killed New York City's plastic bag fee last year, the state Legislature has an obligation to act on the findings of the governor's plastic bag task force, which showed that a proven statewide model for reducing plastic bag waste is the California model: a ban on single-use plastic bags and a fee on other types of bags, including paper bags, with the proceeds dedicated to the state's Environmental Protection Fund," Hoylman, D-Manhattan, said.  

Under Hoylman and Krueger's proposal, 80 percent of the fees collected will go to the state's Environmental Protection Fund. Stores would keep 20 percent of the fees to offset the costs of providing non-plastic bags. 

Plastic bag waste is a problem nationwide, and New York is no exception. The state Department of Environmental Conservation said that New Yorkers use 23 billion plastic bags each year. The bags are often sent to landfills or pollute the environment.