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ENVIRONMENT
Auburn councilors question DEC over Owasco Lake watershed management

AUBURN — Coordination and leadership were the biggest concerns during an Owasco Lake watershed update in Auburn.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation presented its approach to watershed and lake monitoring at Thursday's Auburn City Council meeting and gave a rundown on how it analyzes and monitors water quality in lakes. 

Tributary sampling, trend assessment and quantifying the amount of invasive mussels were all touched upon. The DEC also covered the role of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFOs, when it comes to preventing harmful algal blooms. 

CAFO farms are granted one of two permits — a Clean Water Act permit or an Environmental Conservation Law General permit. The primary difference between the two is that CWAs are given to any CAFO with a specified source of pollutant discharge. 

To prevent water quality violations, the DEC added a number of conditions to CAFO permits, including a ban on manure spreading when soils are frozen or fluid. This was implemented in hopes of preventing runoff from reaching bodies of water like Owasco Lake. 

Councilor James Giannettino asked DEC representatives if the large amount of rain that the region has seen in the past few months — a manure discharge instigator — is being monitored.

"It is certainly something our folks are aware of and monitoring and communicating on," said Matthew Marko, director of Region 7 in New York's DEC. "Obviously climate change is a reality that we are adapting to, and maybe something that influences future considerations."

Anthony Prestigiacomo, a research scientist for the DEC, said that the agency is working in collaboration with 16 other organizations including the Finger Lakes Institute, The Nature Conservancy and the Upstate Freshwater Institute. 

Councilor Terry Cuddy questioned the amount of agencies involved.

"That's a lot of organizations to work with ... how can we coordinate when there's so many," Cuddy said.  

Marko said that coordination is indeed a DEC priority.

"We need to make sure we are coordinated so that efforts are all jointly formed, as well as reacting to information as it's presented," Marko said. 

Marko said that transparency and communication were the two biggest improvements his organization has worked on. He said that incident and inspection reports, notices of intent and annual compliance records are all available to the public. 


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COMMUNITY
Hospice tree lighting ceremony brings loved ones together in Auburn

AUBURN — Kathy Bergan thought of the dozens of patients she has helped through the Hospice of the Finger Lakes during the organization's 31st annual Light Up a Life tree-lighting ceremony Thursday night.

Bergan, who has been a hospice nurse for three years, was one of around 60 people who gathered to see a Christmas tree at Hoopes Park in Auburn cut through the darkness of the surrounding area. Bergan said she often sees loved ones of past patients at the event, allowing her to "check up" on them and see how they're doing. She believes the event allows those who have lost to come together.

"You can get out and realize you're not alone," she said.

Before the lighting began, hospice executive director Terry Kline thanked people for their support of the organization through their decades in the area. Longtime hospice nurse Norma Olcott illuminated the tree to the applause of the bundled audience. The group Perform 4 Purpose led the crowd in singing the holiday songs "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and "Jingle Bell Rock." 

Couple Renee and Doug Ward have both had loved ones who were hospice patients. Renee said she often thinks of her stepfather, Ray Cuddy, who had spent time with hospice, but he was in her thoughts more than usual Thursday. She said she believes family and friends of people helped by hospice appreciate the support so much that they want to support the organization and share the memory of their loved ones.

Gallery: Light Up a Life tree-lighting supports Hospice of the Finger Lakes in Auburn

Kevin Rivoli, The Citizen 

People gather around the gazebo for the 31st annual Light Up a Life tree-lighting ceremony at Hoopes Park in Auburn Thursday to support Hospice of the Finger Lakes.


Kevin Rivoli, The Citizen 

People listen to music by Perform 4 Purpose during the Light Up a Life event in Auburn Thursday.


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AUBURN
Auburn man charged with raping young girl

An Auburn man previously charged with sending sexually explicit messages to a young girl was charged this week with rape.

The Cayuga County Sheriff’s Office said that Todd A. Klino, 31, of 26 Cross St., was arrested Thursday and charged with third-degree rape and third-degree criminal sexual act.

According to a news release, the charges are the result of an investigation into an inappropriate relationship Klino had been engaging in with a juvenile female for several months at a local hotel.

Klino has been held at the Cayuga County Jail in lieu of $25,000 cash or $50,000 bond since being arrested Nov. 13 and charged with first-degree disseminating indecent materials to a minor.

Police at that time had said those charges resulted from an inappropriate relationship Klino had with a girl younger than 17 and included him sending sexually explicit images and messages through a number of mediums such as text messages and social media platforms.

 Klino is scheduled to be arraigned on the new charges Friday in Auburn City Court.

The sheriff's office said that the investigation is ongoing, and anyone with information regarding the investigation is asked to contact detective Sgt. Frederick Cornelius at (315) 253-6562. Tips may also be left at cayugasheriff.com/send-an-anonymous-tip/.


Local
GOVERNMENT
Owasco farmer who illegally housed workers reimburses town

Joseph Tidd, the owner of Melrose Farms in Owasco, reimbursed the town this week for attorney fees spent litigating his citations for illegally housing workers, according to Owasco Town Supervisor Ed Wagner.

The town first cited Tidd in February for a code violation after housing migrant workers on his dairy farm in a structure without a certificate of occupancy or a permit to be built. 

Despite the town issuing a cease and desist order, Tidd was found in September to still be housing workers in the structure, which one worker described in a letter as being rife with cockroaches, mice, exposed electrical wiring and other hazards.

Since then, Tidd has been in Owasco Town Court several times to address the violation. While a scheduled appearance this Monday was adjourned, Tidd subsequently provided the town with a check for $3,256 to cover its attorney fees, Wagner said.

"As the town supervisor, I'm happy the taxpayers are not going to be footing the bill for legal expenses for Mr. Tidd," Wagner said.

The payment joins a $500 fine issued Tuesday by the Cayuga County Board of Health for a septic violation at the same structure.

The reimbursement was one of several stipulations the town court required of Tidd, according to Wagner. Tidd was also required to remove the building's heating, electrical, and septic systems and room partitions, which he has complied with.

Tidd has since converted the structure into housing for calves, according to pictures taken of an inspection by J. Patrick Doyle, the town code enforcement officer.

While Tidd has complied so far with the orders from the town and board of health, Town Justice Mark DiVietro could still opt for additional fines for the repeated violations.

"He's met all of the demands the judge placed on him as far as we're concerned and now it's just a matter of if the judge wants to take it one step further," Wagner said. "That'll be up to the judge."

Tidd is scheduled to reappear in Owasco Town Court at 6 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 10.