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Jeremy Boyer: Cayuga County-area town and village coverage gets a boost

In about a month, I will reach my 14-year anniversary as an employee at The Citizen, and lately I've been thinking a little about that period when I was getting started here.

As you can imagine, there have been some big changes in the way this newspaper company operates and the way the journalism industry runs — some good and some bad.

The good includes the development of technology that's now so vital to our industry. Social media was barely on the radar: Facebook was just about to start and Twitter was a couple of years away. Our website existed, but we barely posted any content to it in those days and the number of people checking it out was not even worth counting. A few of us had flip phones but we couldn't even fathom the idea of using them to take photos or videos for publication.

The bad changes boil down to the long-term trend our entire industry has experienced over the past decade-plus: We have a significantly smaller budget than we did in 2004 and fewer journalists out there covering our market.

I'm writing about this today, though, because the recent trends here in Auburn have been positive, and that includes our ability to invest resources in the most important thing we do: reporting the news. This week we brought a new reporter on board who will be taking on a resurrected beat: local towns.

For several years, we've organized our news coverage around a few main beats, including Cayuga County government, the city of Auburn, local education, local and regional politics, and police and courts. We've continued to cover news related to town and village governments and the communities they serve, but it's been an admittedly piecemeal approach.

That's going to be changing with the arrival of Megan Ehrhart, our newest reporter. Megan will be tasked with keeping tabs on the towns and villages in our coverage area, no easy task considering that there are more than 30 of them to follow.

Unless she has some magical power we're not yet aware of, it will be impossible for Megan to be at every town and village board meeting. But she's going to work hard developing sources and tracking agendas and meeting minutes so she can report and write on the most important issues affecting residents from Summerhill to Sterling.

Another big part of making this beat work will be the people who reside in these communities. So much of what we cover comes from great tips and suggestions from our readers, and stories from the towns and villages will be no different.

So if you've got some suggestions or just want to drop her a note to say welcome, reach out to Megan. She can contacted at (315) 282-2244 or

Year in review

As another year calendar year winds down, it's just a natural inclination for all of us to reflect on what has happened. That's why this newspaper and many others put together year-in-review content in December. We find that readers are interested in looking back, and it kind of helps put the coming year into some fresh perspective.

In the coming weeks, you'll find a bunch of packages looking back at 2017 at, from the most-read stories and photos to our staff's picks for the best television of the year and so much in between.

We also plan to continue the tradition of presenting the 10 biggest local stories of the year. An online survey giving readers a chance to weigh in will be posted, and we'll incorporate those results along with our staff choices in arriving at the final list.

Our view: Process for Auburn zoning update has been transparent

As Auburn moves closer to updating its zoning regulations, the process has been going the way we wish all governmental operations would — with careful consideration to how the rules will affect the people who live and work here.

The city's zoning ordinance hasn't had any major changes in more than 20 years, and the overall goal is to make zoning code more efficient and user-friendly. It sets the stage for development along the Owasco River downtown; it balances economic development with the appearance and preservation of neighborhoods; and it establishes procedures for displaying art in public spaces.

In recent weeks, the Auburn Planning Board has taken public input into consideration and made some changes to its plan. Regulations that would hamper the development of tiny houses was a major concern for human services agencies hoping to build small houses to combat the problem of homelessness. The rules have now been tweaked because of those concerns. Proposed rules governing advertising billboards and alerting neighbors of upcoming development projects have also been rewritten.

It's been a deliberative and thoughtful process, and we're glad to see that concerns from the general public and from the business community have not only been listened to but acted upon.

And there is still time to have your voice heard. A public hearing on the proposed zoning code will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday. Dec. 14 at city hall, so additional revisions might still be made before the city council votes on the plan Dec. 22.

The Citizen editorial board includes publisher Rob Forcey, executive editor Jeremy Boyer and managing editor Mike Dowd.

CChantler1 / Provided 

The town of Springport town hall is located at 859 State Route 326, Cayuga.