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The Citizen staff / Jeffrey T. Barnes 

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) reacts as teammates celebrate his touchdown run against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

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Auburn man charged after meth lab bust

An arrest has been made following the discovery that an Auburn home was being used to manufacture methamphetamine

The Cayuga County Sheriff's Office said Monday that Thomas L. Hutton, of 54 Orchard St., Auburn, was arrested Nov. 21. Hutton has been charged with second-degree unlawful manufacture of methamphetamine because the drug was being produced in the presence of children under the age of 16. 

Hutton was also charged with third-degree criminal possession of a weapon and fourth-degree conspiracy. He was arraigned in Auburn City Court and remanded to Cayuga County Jail in lieu of $5,000 cash bail or $10,000 bond. 

The Finger Lakes Drug Task Force raided Hutton's Orchard Street home on Nov. 9. Authorities said at the time that multiple people were found to be "actively engaged in the production of methamphetamine." Orchard Street between Baker and Jefferson streets was closed for several hours as police conducted the raid and removed hazardous materials from the scene. 

There were other adults and children in the home at the time of the raid. 

The investigation is continuing, the sheriff's office said. More arrests are expected. 

Anyone with information about this case should contact Detective Blanchard at (315) 253-3902. Tips can be left on Tipsters may remain anonymous. 

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Stewart-Cousins to be first female leader of NY state Senate

ALBANY — The New York state Senate will be led by a woman for the first time in the state's history after Democrats formally chose veteran lawmaker Andrea Stewart-Cousins as their leader Monday.

Stewart-Cousins has led the Senate's Democratic minority since 2012 and is now poised to control the entire chamber beginning in January after her party won a majority in this month's election.

Democrats already have an overwhelming majority of seats in the state Assembly. They also occupy all four statewide offices. Now that they control the Senate, Democrats are predicting fresh momentum for proposals that would legalize recreational marijuana, codify abortion rights, strengthen gun control laws and reform the state's antiquated voting laws. Many of those ideas had been blocked by the Republicans who previously led the Senate.

"Come January all that will change," Stewart-Cousins told reporters following Monday's leadership vote. "I think people have waited a long time."

Stewart-Cousins, 68, represents a Westchester County district that includes Yonkers, White Plains, Tarrytown and Scarsdale. She is a former teacher and sales and marketing professional who served in local government before being elected to the state Senate in 2006.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo hailed Stewart-Cousins as a "trailblazer" and a "proven leader and a skilled legislator."

The Senate's outgoing Republican leader, Republican John Flanagan of Long Island, also had kind words for the woman set to take his place, calling Stewart-Cousins a friend, a good listener and "a class act and a truly extraordinary person."

"I believe we can work collectively, responsibly, and in a bipartisan way," he said in a statement.

As the first woman to lead either the Senate or Assembly, Stewart-Cousins will be the first female member of Albany's so-called "three men in a room," the group made up of the governor and leaders of the Senate and Assembly who routinely negotiate the details of the state budget and other key bills behind closed doors.

When asked how that Albany institution will change now that a woman is included, Stewart-Cousins smiled.

"I have not been in the room," she said. "So that will be a difference right there."

Case against Owasco farmer illegally housing workers again adjourned

OWASCO — An Owasco farmer first cited by the town in September for illegally housing workers had his case Monday adjourned for the third time since October.

Melrose Farms owner Joseph Tidd was cited in September after being caught housing workers on the farm, violating a February order not to house workers and their families in the structure that was not up to code.

On Monday, an Owasco Town Court hearing set to determine what fines Tidd would face for the violation was adjourned to Dec. 10. It's the third time in recent months the case has been adjourned. Owasco Town Justice Mark DiVietro didn't provide a reason for the adjournment. 

In late October, the case was delayed when attorney Andrew Leja, representing the town, was unable to make the date. On Nov. 12, DiVietro postponed the case in order to allow Leja to calculate his fees, which the town seeks to be reimbursed for as part of any judgement against Tidd.

At the Nov. 12 hearing, Tidd informed the court that he had since followed the order to remove all heating, plumbing, septic and electrical systems from the structure.

According to workers living in the building in February, some with young children, the structure contained rats, cockroaches and exposed electrical wiring.

While the Owasco Town Court case was adjourned until Dec. 10, Tidd is also due to appear before the Cayuga County Board of Health Tuesday for a septic violation related to the same structure used to house workers.

Three Sennett business projects clear Cayuga County review

Three different proposed development projects in the town of Sennett have passed the review of a Cayuga County Department of Planning and Economic Development committee.

The projects include an existing business looking to add a convenience store and retail gas station, the relocation of an auto repair shop and a construction equipment and rental equipment company hoping to plant roots in the town.

The county's General Municipal Law 239 review committee on Nov. 15 determined all three of the development projects in Sennett to "have no intermunicipal concerns and to be of local concern only," according to meeting minutes.

David Nelson, a planner in the department, said Monday that the committee had no other comments or concerns for the projects.

Among the projects is Ken and Diana Sroka's request to modify the allowable uses granted to their Repair Plus shop at 2682 Turnpike Road through an approved 2011 Planned Development District. The Srokas hope to add uses that would allow them to build a convenience store with gas pumps for retail gasoline at their property.

The Srokas' initial commercial PDD application sought 17 uses, but was scaled back to include the allowable uses of construction vehicle sales and service; concrete pumping equipment service; fabrication and sales of trucking equipment and truck repair, sales and rental.

Since then, Sennett has changed its zoning regulations and the property now has a commercial overlay district that would allow for convenience stores and retail gas stations.

Another business is looking to relocate to and expand in Sennett after operating from a horse barn in Auburn for the past 16 years.

Xcelerated Auto, an auto repair shop, is proposing building a 10,368-square-foot service garage on a roughly 2.5-acre site on Mutton Hill Road. The shop, currently on less than an acre at 191 Grant Ave., sells used cars, works on domestic and foreign vehicles, offers inspections, brakes, shocks, diagnostics and more.

A construction equipment and rental equipment company is also looking to relocate to Sennett.

The Duke Co., which offers building materials, de-icing products, concrete forming systems and much more, is hoping to open its fourth location at 482 Grant Ave.

The company is proposing to build a 4,555-square-foot building addition to an existing building located on a 7.8-acre lot. The addition would be used as a shop and wash bay for equipment maintenance, while the existing building would be renovated into a retail space.

Having passed the county review, the projects will return to the the town of Sennett and its planning board. The next planning board meeting is at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6. Town Clerk Penelope Dennis said the town won't know until the end of the week what businesses hope to be heard at that meeting.