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Auburn police report increase in arrests, calls for service in 2017

Auburn Police Department

The Auburn Police Department responded to more calls for service and made more arrests in 2017 than the previous year, according to its annual activity report. 

Compared to 2016, police received 825 more calls (34,437) and made 124 more arrests (1,218) last year. In addition, officers saw an increase in some investigations. There were 14 more fraud investigations (157), 25 more harassment cases (727), 126 more juvenile complaints (126) and 66 more mental health investigations (465). 

But the department said some numbers were down, as there were 125 fewer domestic violence investigations (1,409), 87 fewer larcenies (777) and 31 fewer sex offenses (79). 

In the traffic division, parking complaints and tickets dropped from 711 and 6,847 in 2016 to 599 and 6,031, respectively. However, patrols made approximately 1,900 additional traffic stops (6,108) and issued almost 1,000 more tickets (3,138) in 2017. 

Meanwhile, the school resource officer program reported 161 fewer incidents in and around schools (1,320). There were seven fewer arrests made for the year concerning school-related incidents (17). 

The Finger Lakes Drug Task Force initiated 90 more cases (189) and made 12 more arrests (35). Officers seized 878 grams of marijuana, 157 grams of cocaine, four grams of heroin and 273 doses of opiates and pharmaceutical drugs in 2017. 

Lastly, after losing five officers who retired and two officers who resigned, the police department hired six new officers last year. At the end of 2017, there were 66 sworn police personnel, including the chief of police and deputy chief. 

New addiction support services available in Auburn

New family and peer support services are reaching out to Auburn and the Cayuga County-area, according to a Wednesday press release.

Ashley Dailey and Jonathan Crandall, of Family Support Services at Prevention Network in Syracuse, are bringing their expertise to the city starting Wednesday. They help provide addiction treatment information and referrals, addiction recovery support and services referrals, benefit assistance, advocacy and addiction education and support for families and families of veterans. 

The duo will be available every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Nick's Ride 4 Friends, 12 South St. Appointments may also be made. For more information call (315) 471-1359 or email or 

Peer navigator services, where peers work with individuals in recovery or looking to begin recovery, are also available in Cayuga County. To arrange an appointment contact Laura Lee Cummings, a peer navigator, at 

Florida school shooting survivors visit Sept. 11 museum

NEW YORK — Clustered around a touchscreen at the Sept. 11 museum, a group of high school students inscribed a message that began, "#neveragain."

The sentiment fit where they were, but also where they were coming from: the Florida school where a gunman killed 17 people last month.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Wind Symphony planned Wednesday's visit long ago, after getting invited to perform in a high school band showcase Tuesday at Carnegie Hall. But the trip to the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum in New York City took on a deeper personal dimension after the Feb. 14 rampage at the school in Parkland, Florida.

"The museum itself is a testament to the ability to be resilient, as Americans," said senior Ridley Hutton, 17. "What happened in my home is just an example of that."

"It's proof that no matter what happens, we'll come back," he said.

About 60 Marjory Stoneman Douglas students toured the museum that commemorates the deadliest act of terrorism on U.S. soil. They were infants or not yet born on Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists destroyed the occupied World Trade Center towers, but the line between 9/11 and their loss wasn't abstract. One of their slain classmates, Jaime Guttenberg, was a niece of a doctor who worked in the rescue effort at ground zero.

And there was the emotional connection that museum board member Howard Lutnick put to the students this way: "Unfortunately, I know how you feel. I wish I didn't."

Lutnick, CEO of financial firm Cantor Fitzgerald, lost more than 650 colleagues on Sept. 11, including his brother, Gary.

After such a loss, "everybody has no idea what to say to you, and everything they say is wrong," like saying "time heals all wounds" when it's been only days, he told the students.

"There's no silver lining," Lutnick said. "What there is, is extraordinary young people taking a horrible experience ... and then using it to live a more understanding life."

His words resonated with senior Mackenzie Hurst, 17. "It's nice to be with the people who understand," she said.

The Wind Symphony was rehearsing in a band room for its Carnegie Hall concert when gunfire sounded nearby. The wind ensemble is part of a larger marching band that lost two freshman members in the massacre: Alex Schachter, a trombone and baritone player, and Gina Montalto, a member of the color guard. Both were 14.

Suspect Nikolas Cruz, 19, a former student, was formally charged Wednesday with first-degree murder and other offenses. Cruz's lawyer has said the suspect will plead guilty if prosecutors agree he won't get the death penalty. They haven't announced a decision.

While the court developments played out in Florida, the wind ensemble students quietly took in remnants of the twin towers and some other artifacts of Sept. 11, though their tour bypassed galleries packed with victims' personal items.

"Coming here kind of zooms in, reminds us of little details" of the attack in Parkland, said senior Ryan Lewert, 17.

The story of firefighters who rushed into danger on Sept. 11 reminded him of assistant football coach Aaron Feis, hailed as a hero for shielding students during the shooting at the cost of his own life. Sophomore Jessica Gargaro, 15, found herself thinking of tributes to those killed at her high school when she looked at the museum's projections of some of the missing-person posters that papered New York City after the attacks.

Several students said they felt the museum visit and their performance had taken on a special significance in the wake of the shooting.

Still, Hutton said, "I'd give anything for this to be a normal trip."

Mayor angry over crosswalk deaths of children

NEW YORK — New York City's mayor said a driver with a history of seizures who fatally struck two children, including the daughter of an acclaimed Broadway actress, never should have been behind the wheel.

Authorities say the driver, Dorothy Bruns, 44, apparently had a seizure Monday while stopped at a red light in Brooklyn.

Her car drove forward and struck actress Ruthie Ann Miles and another mother, Lauren Lew, as they crossed the street with their children.

Lew's 1-year-old son, Joshua, and Miles' 4-year-old daughter, Abigail, were killed. The mothers were injured but survived.

"This should never have happened," Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference.

Bruns had a valid driver's license, but was stripped of it after the collision.

Police and Brooklyn prosecutors were looking at Bruns' medical records, bloodwork and driving record, but unless a doctor advised her not to drive, she may not face charges, they said.

Miles, who is pregnant, was in stable condition at the hospital, her agent said Wednesday.

City records show the vehicle Bruns was driving had been cited four times in the past two years for running red lights and another four times for speeding through school zones. It is not clear from the citations who was driving the car at the time.

"She should never have been allowed to have been driving a car after what we know of these other violations," said de Blasio, who has a home a short walk from where the accident happened. "I share the frustration of many in my community. I wish she was under arrest right now. I certainly believe measures need to be taken to ensure she will not drive a car anymore."

Police said Bruns was hospitalized. No one answered the phone at her home.

Miles, who goes by Blumenstein off the stage, won a featured actress Tony in 2015 for her role as Lady Thiang in a revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "The King and I."

Other credits included "Sunday in the Park with George" opposite Jake Gyllenhaal and playing Imelda Marcos in David Byrne's off-Broadway musical "Here Lies Love." She had a recurring role on the FX series "The Americans."

De Blasio said he would announce sometime next week measures to help guard against similar deaths in the future. One of his signature policies has been Vision Zero, a traffic-safety campaign.

"People who get behind the wheel of a car need to understand that they have a weapon in their hands," he said.

Ira's roads to get over $200,000 worth of repairs with help of state funding

IRA — Town of Ira board members discussed over $200,000 worth of repairs planned for Ira's roads during a regular town board meeting on Wednesday.

Michael Hesse, Ira's highway superintendent, explained that 1.5 miles of Watkins Road will be repaved from Mott Road to Ira Station Road, and the portion of Watkins Road that was repaved last year from Mott Road to Route 34 is going to be rechipped. The nearly 3 mile road was split into two phases for budgeting purposes, Hesse said.

The estimated cost to repave Watkins Road is $156,520, Hesse said. "This is a little higher of an estimate," so the project should come in under that price. Rechipping the other half of Watkins Road is estimated to cost the town $28,500, Hesse said.

Fortunately, this year paving oil is 10 cents cheaper per gallon than it was last year when the first installment of Watkins Road was paved, Hesse said. In contrast, "with chip stone there is a huge increase." The price on the stone goes up on April 1, so Hesse is "hoping to have all stone hauled this month."

Sunnyside Road, Misty Meadows Drive, and Regan Lee Lane will also be rechipped, Hesse said. To reseal the 1.5 miles in the Misty Meadows housing development will cost an estimated $19,968.

"Just kinda doing some rough math here, you've got over $200,000 worth of projects here, and we're not really sure on some of the money," Ira Supervisor James Lunkenheimer said.

"Yes we are," Hesse said. "We're not going to get winter recovery (additional state funding Ira received last year), but the other two are pretty much set in gold. We'll know by April, and we're not going to do any road work before April.

Although all of the road work amounts to "$239,000 and change," Hesse said, Ira is "projected to get about $116,000" in state funded money, "which is over half our budget," Hesse said.

About $96,000 is coming from Pave NY, which is a new program under the State Fiscal Year State Transportation Plan that helps municipalities rehabilitate and reconstruct local highways. Ira is receiving another grant, amounting to roughly $20,000, from The Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS).

"I have every bit of confidence that Pave New York and our CHIPS will not be touched," Hesse said.

No motions were made during the meeting as the town board decided to wait until the official security of the grants in April before approving the road work.

Auburn seeks volunteers for Casey Park playground building event in May

The Casey Park Playground Community Build Week in May needs volunteers, according to a press release.

The Auburn park is undergoing a rebuild to make it inclusive, and the city hopes the public will step up and help. The playground is expected to be between 10,000 and 15,000 square feet. 

The community build week will take place May 1 through 6, and children are welcome to attend and play. Volunteers are needed to help build and attach playground parts, move mulch and serve food to other volunteers. Each day is expected to be split into three shifts, and the city hopes 80 people will be available for each shift. 

Those interested in signing up may do so online, or through the City of Auburn Office of Planning and Economic Development at (315) 255-4115. The public may also email questions or state interest to Renee Jensen or Tiffany Beebee at or