Weekday top 5: Skaneateles restaurants close temporarily, Auburn Schine Theater update, Auburn stabbing
The Citizen staff
The Citizen's top five most-read stories of the work week.
Two Skaneateles restaurants close temporarily amid COVID-19
Two restaurants in Skaneateles have closed temporarily due to different effects of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
The restaurant and bakery at Rosalie's Cucina, 841 W. Genesee St. Road, closed Sept. 1 due to an exposure to the virus the previous day. The restaurant will remain closed through Wednesday, Sept. 15, while the bakery reopened this morning. Its hours will remain 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. until the restaurant reopens, at which point Rosalie's will resume its normal business hours.
Rosalie's owner Marc Albino told The Citizen Wednesday that one or two of his employees tested positive for the virus, so he closed the restaurant as an "overprecaution" to make sure all of them were tested. Electrostatic sanitation was performed and filtration changed throughout the entire building, and the kitchen has been further cleaned and sanitized, the restaurant posted on Facebook.
"It's unfortunate, but it's the world we live in," Albino said. "We're doing everything we can to make it safe for our staff and for our guests."
Meanwhile, the Bluewater Grill, 11 W. Genesee St., closed Sept. 7 due to limited staffing levels. The lakeside restaurant will reopen at 11:30 a.m. Monday, Sept. 20. While it's closed, its employees will lend a hand at two other restaurants in the portfolio of its owner, Bill Eberhardt — the Sherwood Inn, 26 W. Genesee St., and Gilda's, 12 W. Genesee St. — in order to help keep them open.
Nancy Ranieri, the business development and customer relations manager for Eberhardt's properties, told The Citizen Wednesday that they've been no stranger to the "hiring crisis" taking place nationwide during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most employees worked "enormous hours" over the summer, but with many of them returning to college, the remaining ones faced burnout.
"We decided to take a breather after Labor Day so everyone can work a little less," she said. "We think it's the smart thing to do across the board for all of our properties."
Ranieri praised the Bluewater employees who offered to work at the Sherwood and Gilda's, as well as customers of the restaurants for their understanding in the challenging times of COVID-19.
"It was a real hard summer," she said. "But our patrons have been very loyal."
The owner of the Auburn Schine Theater told the city in October that the historic building's deteriorating marquee would be removed that fall, rehabilitated in the winter and reinstalled by spring.
As of this week, however, the marquee has yet to be removed. Several of its white panels are still missing, and pigeons are still roosting amid the warped and rusted metal bones of the structure.
What caused the delay is unclear, as the Schine's owner, Bowers Development, has declined comment on the project outside of a brief statement to The Citizen.
"There are many positive developments taking place but it would be premature to comment on these (questions) at this time," Bowers Vice President Michael Licata said in an email.
The questions mentioned by Licata concerned not only the marquee, but other areas of the theater scheduled for work last fall, winter and spring. The East Syracuse developer's president, Bryan Bowers, outlined the schedule in an October presentation to Auburn's Historic Resources Review Board. He said the front entrance, ticket booth and lobby would be rehabilitated that winter, which also has yet to happen. The status of scheduled work on the front masonry, chimney stack and auditorium is unknown as a result of Bowers declining comment.
However, further information about those "positive developments" was made available to The Citizen by Jennifer Haines, the director of the city's Office of Planning & Economic Development.
In a Wednesday email to The Citizen, Haines said she was informed by Bowers in July that it has retained the services of SWBR Architects, of Rochester, to complete the final design work on the project. That work is scheduled to be completed over the next couple months, and includes all interior improvements, heating, ventilation and air conditioning replacement, and acoustical engineering. From there, the developer will begin the final phase of rehabilitation work. It looks forward to completing the estimated $6 million project by spring or summer of 2022.
The Citizen also asked the developer whether it still qualifies for a $1.2 million state grant awarded through the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council in 2017. According to paperwork Bowers filed with Empire State Development, which is administering the grant, the developer had until April 1, 2020, to submit expenditures for reimbursement. That deadline was then extended until June 2021. A representative of Empire State Development told The Citizen in July that the project still qualifies for the grant, but did not provide a new deadline.
Likewise, Haines said, the Schine still qualifies for another $1 million from the state in the form of a Restore NY Communities Initiative grant awarded to the city on the project's behalf in 2018.
However, Bowers owes $9,186.55 in city, county and school district taxes from 2020-2021, city Treasurer Robert Gauthier told The Citizen on Wednesday, plus another $1,380.13 in city taxes from 2021-2022. The developer owed a similar amount last year, prompting the listing of the Schine property in a tax sale, but Bowers paid the debt by that October.
Meanwhile, the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation told The Citizen there have been no changes to the status of the project, but did not provide further comment. The office holds a preservation covenant through July 25, 2036 on the Schine, and therefore must approve any changes there, as a condition of grant money the state has awarded the project.
In October, Licata told The Citizen that the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed the developer's progress on rehabilitating the Schine — and prompted Bowers to reevaluate precisely how it will do so.
"Because of the way that the public will assemble in the near future, we have to look at all uses that will make the theater viable," he said.
Gallery: Inside the Auburn Schine Theater in 2018-2019
From retirement to redemption: Former Auburn police start business
Three retired Auburn police officers have gone from batons and cuffs to bottles and cans.
Chris Major, John Breeze and Brian Blanchfield, along with partners Rob Swietoniowski and Mark DiVietro, have opened redemption center Bag O' Nickels at 7259 Owasco Road in Owasco.
The business has been collecting bottles and cans and refunding them for 5 cents apiece for a few months, but the center held its grand opening at the former McLaughlin Glass on Saturday.
"We've been cops our whole lives, but this is a different way of dealing with people now," Major told The Citizen.
Major said he and his fellow retired officers were looking to open a business, and felt a redemption center would meet a need in the area. More specifically, they felt their center would: Bag O' Nickels offers free pickup of returnables, and uses payment services like Venmo and Paypal. The partners also invested significantly in their space to give it a clean, inviting atmosphere.
"At the end of the day, we're just trying to make it convenient for the customer," Major said. "We're trying to offer a million different options."
For instance, customers can pledge the amount they would receive from their bottles and cans to a local beneficiary that would be sent the money immediately. Or they can leave their returnables at the business and have the money sent to them by Venmo later instead of waiting for the cash. Or they can set up a Christmas account and contribute to it until they cash out in December.
Bag O' Nickels also provides containers for collecting bottles and cans at events, and even has a line of "nice" ones for weddings, Major said. The business worked with about 30 events this summer.
"No one wants to deal with that stuff the next day," he said. "And no one wants garbage cans at a wedding."
Those containers are picked up by Major or his partners, just as bottles and cans are if customers ask. Bag O' Nickels currently offers free pickup throughout Cayuga County, he said.
So far, running Bag O' Nickels has been fun for the three former Auburn police officers, Major said. Redemption centers are low-risk as businesses go, so the biggest investment they have to make is time, and they have plenty of that. The grime of handling all those bottles and cans, and the smell of their stale leftover beer and soda, isn't so bad after awhile.
"I was a cop for 21 years," Major said, "so I've seen a lot worse."
Gallery: Bag O' Nickels Redemption Center opens in Owasco
Auburn woman charged in stabbing incident
An Auburn woman is facing felony charges following an incident Tuesday night that left two people injured with stab wounds, the Auburn Police Department said.
Police responded to the area of 40 Madison St. around 9:16 p.m. for an assault/stabbing incident, and discovered the two victims when they arrived, according to an APD news release. The victims were transported to a hospital for treatment.
The police investigation determined a suspect in the case to be Sarah M. Kline, a transient Auburn resident who had fled the scene before police arrived Tuesday night.
On Wednesday night around 8 p.m., police learned that Kline had entered a residence at 57 Orchard St., so they responded to that location and took her into custody.
Kline, 36, was charged with two counts of second-degree assault and two counts of third-degree criminal possession of a weapon. She was arraigned in the Cayuga County Centralized Arraignment Part Court on Thursday morning, and was being held at Cayuga County Jail on bail of $10,000 cash or $20,000 bond.
Police ask that anyone with additional information contact Detective Nicholas Atkins at (315) 255-4703 or (315) 253-3231 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tips can be made anonymously.
Weinerth wins fourth Cayuga County Men's District Golf Tournament
Jack Weinerth shot a 3-under par 71 at Highland Park Golf Club on Sunday to win his fourth Cayuga County Men's District Golf championship.
Weinerth entered the third and final round with a 1-stroke lead over Cameron Anthony. Weinerth's 71 gave him a final total of 222, Anthony shot a 7-over 78, for a total of 227 and second place.
Roger Anthony shot a 5-over-par 76 to finish with a score of 229 and third place. Nick Wilson took fourth with a 229 as he shot a 2-over-par 73. Brett Cunningham carded a 79 to finish with a 230 and fifth place.
Weinerth previously won the Cayuga County Men's District Golf Tournament championship in 2011, 2015 and 2019. The men's district tournament returned to its traditional summer spot on the calendar, last year it was held in late September due to COVID-19.
In the winner flight, Tyler Weslowski shot a 75 to finish in first place with a 235, Nicholas Atkins finished with 240 for second, Jonathan Brown had a 241 for third and Bill Garrigan's 244 was good enough for fourth place.
James Buchanan won the senior's title as he shot a 92 at Highland Park to finish with a two-day total of 178. Rick Cannizzo was second with a 181 and Phil Diasparra was third with a 185.