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Kelly Rocheleau / Kelly Rocheleau, The Citizen 

Cayuga Community College President Brian Durant and board of trustees chairperson Linda Van Buskirk speak at a board meeting in Auburn Wednesday.

Kelly Rocheleau / Kelly Rocheleau, The Citizen 

Cayuga Community College Board of Trustees member Marian Brown listens during a meeting in Auburn Wednesday.

Gorr focused on water, roads, public safety in run for Cayuga County Legislature District 9

Kathleen Gorr said she has three priorities if elected to represent District 9 on the Cayuga County Legislature: water quality, road maintenance and public safety. 

A resident of the town of Niles, Gorr will appear on the ballot in November under the Democratic and Independence party lines and an independent line, Fix Our Roads. Her opponent is Republican Charles Ripley. 

Gorr currently serves on the Cayuga County Water Quality Management Agency as a representative for the Skaneateles Lake Association. As such, she said one of her primary goals as a legislator would be to protect local bodies of water by bringing local residents, businesses and farmers together to keep them informed. 

"I would like the approach of getting people together, giving them information and saying, 'Here's how you can help,' as opposed to mandates," Gorr said. "But when we get people together, we have to tell them things. We have to give them the lab results and information." 

In addition to her work on the water quality management agency, Gorr also sits on the Zoning Board of Appeals in Niles. A retired attorney, she also continues to conduct arbitration for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority part time. 

A native of Rochester, Gorr said she moved around quite a bit before settling back in New York 10 years ago — she lived in Illinois, Massachusetts, Kansas and Nebraska before discovering Niles with her husband. Gorr said her nomadic lifestyle brings a unique perspective to local government, as she has seen how other counties work as well. 

"I think I bring a different viewpoint to the table and it's very good to have a legislature with people from different backgrounds, different viewpoints, different experience and a different knowledge base," she said. 

Gorr said she specifically gained knowledge and exposure to road maintenance while living in different states. If elected, she plans to also focus on fixing roads that were damaged by flooding in southern Cayuga County.

"I think government should look at key government functions first like roads and public safety ... and make the area as hospitable and habitable as they reasonably can," she said. "I'd like to help with improving the roads, making sure that industries like fracking do not come here and provide people more efficient government. I feel very strongly that taxpayers need to get something for their money." 

Cayuga County Legislature District 9 hopeful Ripley looks to share services, fix roads

After a decade of service as the Summerhill town supervisor, Charles Ripley said it was time for a change. 

A native of Summerhill, Ripley was actually planning to retire when he said he was approached by Republican Cayuga County Legislator Terry Baxter. Baxter had decided he would not run for re-election, but encouraged Ripley to put his name in for the position. 

"There were a number of projects that I had hoped to accomplish when I was supervisor and I thought, 'Man, this is an opportunity to maybe finish things up and I could help this whole end of the county," he said. "So (Baxter) convinced me to do it." 

Ripley will be on the ballot in November under the Republican line. His opponent, Kathleen Gorr, is listed on the Democratic and Independence party lines and an independent line, Fix Our Roads. 

Before becoming town supervisor, Ripley said he was a gentleman farmer who raised beef, eggs and chickens on Ripley Farms in Moravia. When he was elected supervisor, his daughter took over the farm. 

Now, if elected as the county legislator for District 9, Ripley said he would prioritize many of the same things he did as supervisor, particularly road maintenance, water quality and consolidating the local courts. 

Throughout his term as supervisor, Ripley said he fought for the town to take over county highway repairs, something he would continue to do as legislator. 

"I think that there is a lot more than the town should be doing rather than the county in our case," he said. "I'm not saying we've been neglected, but I think down here in our location we could do a lot better job on the county roads than the county can." 

In addition, Ripley said he believes the towns in District 9 — Niles, Moravia, Sempronius and Summerhill — should consolidate their local courts by creating two district justice positions. That would save taxpayers money while establishing a more impartial judicial system. 

"As it's set up now the justices know everybody in the town, so if you try to get an impartial decision on something it's tough," he said, noting that there are currently six town justices in the district. "This would help save on justices in the budget ... and we could cut out some of the court clerks, too." 

Lastly, Ripley said he would also fight for stricter regulation to protect local water bodies and prevent harmful algal blooms.

"I think at the county level the Legislature can help tighten up the regulations on that," he said. "The farmers need better means of transporting (manure) and more regulations on when to spread it and what to do after they spread it."

Audit: Cayuga County water and sewer payment collection needs work

The Cayuga County Water and Sewer Authority has some improvements to make following an audit by the Office of the New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. 

The audit covered the authority's billings and collections from Jan. 1, 2015 to March 24, 2017. According to the audit, there's no way to determine which employees made payment collections, and one of the employees has incompatible duties generating bills and making deposits.

The office also found that more than 80 properties were improperly billed because properties were not reviewed with Cayuga County's tax roll. This may have led to a potential loss of revenue in the area of $10,200 annually. One property was found to be overcharged. Water meter readings for bills totaling $855,000, too, were not verified by officials.

"In the event of a shortage, there may be no way to hold a particular employee accountable," the audit read. "In addition, there is an increased risk that customer usage will not be properly billed and that moneys received will not be properly collected, recorded and deposited."

The authority has about three months to take corrective measures including implementing more segregation of duties and verifying its master listing with the Cayuga County tax roll. 

Jeanine Wilson, director of the authority, wrote that she is confident the audit's recommendations will result in corrective measures, in a letter to Chief Examiner Edward V. Grant Jr. 

"We appreciate the attention to detail as provided by OSC (Office of State Comptroller) and that during the review of accuracy and completeness of water/sewer account records that the notation was offered that 'no significant discrepancies were noted,'" the letter read.

The water and sewer authority was established in 1995 and serves approximately 480 individual meters with water and seven wholesale customers. It also provides sewer services to about 780 customers. Wilson, who had worked at the authority for more than two decades, took on the director of operations position in January. Prior to, former Auburn city manager Doug Selby had served as the interim director from about April 2016, replacing former director Michelle Baines.

'It will certainly continue': St. Nicholas Orthodox Church remembers Father Mack

AUBURN — The Rev. Stephen Mack, the pastor at St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Auburn, was a friend, pastor, mentor and confessor to many.

Mack died Sunday at the age of 64 after battling liver and pancreatic cancer for five years. 

He will always be remembered for his humility and generosity in the face of suffering, his wife Barbara Mack and parish priest the Rev. Michael Speck said Wednesday. 

"He was a very good example of how one has to deal with suffering and he suffered significantly, very very much so," Speck said. "He would always downplay his illness. He never brought it up. He was fond of saying, until very recently when things got worse, 'Sometimes I think I'm the healthiest person in the whole place.'"

Mack wrote a blog on his church's website called Father Steve's Soapbox. He recounted his illness in one of the last posts he wrote before he died. 

"I’ve been dealing with pancreatic and liver cancer for five years," Mack wrote on Oct. 7. "No complaints here. Life goes on, whatever we face we face with God’s help."

"He remained leader of the parish until last week when he fell asleep in the Lord," Speck said. "We're most certainly grateful for that because there's people who will handle suffering poorly, there are people who blame, who will ask 'Why me?' but that was never him."

Mack grew up in Cohoes, New York, and graduated in 1976 from St. Tikhon's Seminary in Pennsylvania. He married Barbara in 1978 after they met while working in a catalog showroom. The couple moved to Auburn on Dec. 20, 1984 after Mack became the pastor at St. Nicholas Church. Stephen and Barbara had two children together and one granddaughter. 

Mack was the church's longest serving pastor, his wife of 39 years said. 

Speck said it will be "difficult" and "strange" going forward without Mack, especially since some of the parishioners didn't realize how sick he actually was. 

"Because of his optimism, everyone else was always very optimistic as well," Speck said. "When he did finally pass away, I think there were certain people who were almost not aware that he was sick because of his personal strength."

Funeral services for Mack will take place on Friday and Saturday at St. Nicholas Church. Calling hours will be from 3 to 6 p.m. Friday at the church, followed by an Orders of the Priest Burial. A funeral liturgy will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Saturday. The Most Rev. Michael, the archbishop of New York, will perform the services, which is customary when an Orthodox priest dies, Speck said. Other Orthodox priests and deacons will attend the funeral as well. 

As for the future of the church, Speck said it is up to the archbishop to decide who will replace Mack. Speck was ordained as a priest in 2015 to assist Mack with the church's duties once he became ill, so he is eligible to lead the church. 

"Father Stephen or any pastor knows that the church doesn't belong to any pastor," Speck said. "It's just something they take care of for a certain period of time. It belongs to the people. It will certainly continue."