You are the owner of this page.
A1 A1
top story
Barn destroyed by fire in Aurelius

AURELIUS — Multiple fire departments were needed to battle a barn fire in the town of Aurelius on March 9.

The fire was reported at about 12:45 p.m. at 6410 Basswood Road. The barn belonged to Cregg Ford. Ford, watching the inferno and crumbling beams from his truck, said the structure was a total loss. There were no animals inside, and there did not appear to be any injuries. 

The barn was used to store grain wagons, hay and straw, and the adjacent silos are filled with beans, Ford said. He was not sure whether the silos could be saved. 

Fire departments from Cayuga and Seneca counties responded to the scene, pouring water from ladder trucks and hoses while a snow squall moved through the area.

Fire investigators were called to the scene around 2 p.m. Firefighters were still working on the structure as of 3 p.m., Cayuga County 911 dispatchers said. Departments from Aurelius, Throop, Auburn, Fleming, Cayuga, Owasco, Moravia, Seneca Falls and Waterloo responded, as did Cayuga County's Emergency Management Office and TLC Ambulance.

This is the second blaze Ford has dealt with since 2016 when a Finger Lakes Railway train dropped sparks as it passed by, lighting Ford's fields afire

"I hope there's not a third," he said.

Gallery: Firefighters battle barn fire in Aurelius

Irish hooley in Skaneateles benefits Habitat for Humanity

SKANEATELES — A hooley is a party featuring traditional Irish music and dance.

Friday night 130 people braved icy roads to attend Hooley for Habitat, a fundraiser and celebration for Cayuga County Habitat for Humanity.

This is the third hooley the organization has held to raise money for the organization that builds and remodels homes for families, said Tessa Crawford, a member of Habitat’s fundraising committee.

The organization built its first home in 1992 and has just begun remodeling its 19th, she said.

Organizers hoped to raise $5,000 at the event at the Lodge at Welch Allyn in Skaneateles, she said. Guests were welcomed by Jack Heins, pipe major for the City of Syracuse Highland Pipe Band, playing traditional tunes on the bagpipes. They were also treated to a performance by Crane Irish Dance and a silent auction featuring donations by local businesses.

Following a cocktail hour, guests were served a dinner of beef tenderloin, pulled pork sliders, salad and macaroni and cheese. Desserts were donated by Patisserie in Skaneateles.

The hooley was as much a fundraiser as it was a celebration for the volunteers and families who have received homes. Recipients must volunteer for 250 hours on building or renovating a home, said Loni Silverberg, of Auburn, who will receive a house on Grant Street when it is completed.

“It’s very much a family,” she said.

Silverberg was enjoying drinks during the cocktail hour with Missy Henry and Henry’s aunt Cathy Feocco, both of Union Springs. Henry said the organization has found a home to remodel for her and her two children in Union Springs.

“We’ve been working on each other’s houses,” Henry said.

“She just tore up my bathroom floor,” Silverberg said with a laugh.

Owning a home “is a huge commitment. It’s not like renting. It’s like you’re a big girl now,” she said.

Habitat goes beyond just helping people become homeowners, Crawford said. The work people perform on the home helps them learn how to swing a hammer, build porches, install cabinets and home maintenance, she said. They also learn how to manage their finances, to put their home first, Crawford said.

Sheriff: Alcohol 'a contributing factor' in crash that killed Auburn man

Alcohol was a "contributing factor" in a fatal two-car crash last weekend in the town of Fleming, Cayuga County Sheriff David Gould said Friday. 

The crash occurred at about 9:33 p.m. Saturday, March 3 at the intersection of Route 34 and Fleming-Scipio Townline Road. A 2016 Honda Accord that was traveling northbound on Route 34 crossed the center line and struck a 2007 Ford Taurus traveling south.

Stephen S. Landon, 53, of Skaneateles, was the driver of the Honda. An investigation found that Landon had consumed alcohol and his drinking was a contributing factor in the crash, police said.

Criminal charges against Landon are pending. 

Landon, who was injured in the crash, remains hospitalized at Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse. 

The driver of the Ford Taurus, Travis Manwaring, 25, of Auburn, was pronounced dead at the scene. The sheriff's office said Manwaring was wearing his seat belt and the car's airbags deployed at the time of the crash. 

Three passengers in Manwaring's car — Jessica Bohall, 27, of Auburn; Matthew McIntosh, 26, of Moravia; and Zachary McIntosh, 17, of Moravia — continue to recover from their injuries, according to police. 

The sheriff's office said more information will be released once the investigation is completed. 

NY senators to FEMA: Reconsider denial of storm aid for Cayuga, other counties

New York's U.S. senators are urging the Federal Emergency Management Agency to reconsider its decision to deny aid for 15 counties affected by flooding and severe storms last summer. 

U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer wrote a letter to FEMA Administrator Brock Long requesting a reversal. 

The state applied for a disaster declaration after the storms caused millions of dollars in damages. Broome, Cayuga, Cortland, Essex, Franklin, Herkimer, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Rensselaer, St. Lawrence, Tioga, Warren, Washington and Wyoming counties would have been covered by the disaster request. 

In Cayuga County, the flooding and storms caused nearly $4 million in damage

Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Schumer, D-N.Y., said the damage in Wyoming County was 19 times higher than its per capita threshold to be eligible for FEMA aid. Cayuga County's assessment was 13 times higher than its threshold. Not only did several counties exceed their per capita thresholds, but the state also exceeded its damage threshold. 

Despite the significant damage reported in multiple counties, FEMA denied the state's application for disaster declaration. The state appealed the decision, but FEMA again denied the request. 

FEMA denied the disaster request, according to Gillibrand and Schumer, because the storms were separate incidents instead of a single event. The senators noted that there isn't a provision in federal law requiring that a disaster declaration must be linked to a single storm. 

As an example, the senators cited disaster requests that were granted to Arkansas and Missouri last year for separate severe storms that occurred over multiple weeks. 

"It is impractical to expect state and local governments to plan and budget for the impacts of a series of extreme weather events lasting 25 days," the senators wrote in their letter to Long. "Thus we implore you to give New Yorkers the same courtesy as other communities who have experienced similar storms and help relieve some of the financial burden unexpectedly placed on these economically challenged counties." 

Gillibrand and Schumer added, "If that is not possible, we urge you to visit these counties and explain to residents why their county is not eligible for the same level of federal assistance other counties received this year." 

The affected counties is eligible for some federal aid. The Small Business Administration approved a disaster declaration for the 15 counties and made low-interest loans available for businesses and homeowners. 

But local governments aren't eligible for funding through the SBA program. If the FEMA disaster declaration was approved, local municipalities could receive aid to make repairs or rebuild critical infrastructure.