The Citizen's top five most-read stories of the work week.
Multiple units respond to house fire in Scipio
Several Cayuga County fire departments were called out to a large structure fire that destroyed a family's home Tuesday morning in the town of Scipio.
Cayuga County 911 said a neighbor called in the fire at around 5:30 a.m. at 1730 Fleming Scipio Town Line Road.
Poplar Ridge Fire Chief Dale Perkins said the family was not home at the time of the fire and no one was injured. It took crews around an hour-and-a-half to extinguish the blaze, Perkins said. He said the house is a total loss.
However, crews were able to save the garage with minimal smoke and water damage.
As of 10 a.m. fire officials were still investigating the cause of the fire.
Poplar Ridge Fire, Scipio Fire, Owasco Fire, Aurora Fire, Fleming Fire 1 and 2, Aurelius Fire, Auburn Fire, Union Springs Fire, King Ferry Fire and Cayuga Fire responded.
The Cayuga County Sheriff's Department and Southern Cayuga Ambulance were also at the scene.
4-car crash closes portion of South Street Road in Fleming
A portion of South Street Road in Fleming was closed Tuesday following a four-car crash that sent one person to the hospital.
The crash was reported around at 11:54 a.m. in the vicinity of 5700 South Street Road in Fleming, outside the Sunoco gas station, according to Cayuga County 911. Police closed the street from Willowbrook Road to Sand Beach Road for about an hour while the accident was cleared.
Fleming and Owasco fire departments responded to the scene. One person was transported to Upstate University Hospital for injuries.
The extent of the injuries is unknown at this time, Cayuga County 911 said.
'Assassin's Creed Origins'? 'Resident Evil 7'? Top 5 games of 2017
Everyone needs a break sometimes.
When it comes to reviewing video games, mine was this year. So I only reviewed about 15, which is less than half the amount I've reviewed each year since I started doing this a decade (!) ago.
That's not to say I played fewer games in 2017. I just played more of the ones I wanted to play, not the ones I felt obligated to play. Crazy, right?
Still, if there's one review I can't duck out of writing, it's the year in games. And I did play enough of 2017's releases to confidently scrape together a list of five favorites:
NY minimum wage to increase Dec. 31
Another minimum wage hike will be coming for New York workers Sunday.
Beginning Dec. 31, the minimum wage for workers at large New York City companies with at least 11 employees will rise from $11 to $13 an hour. For employees at small firms with 10 employees or less, the minimum wage will be $12 an hour, up from $10.50.
In Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties, the minimum wage will increase from $10 to $11 an hour.
For workers in the rest of the state, the minimum wage will be $10.40 an hour, up from $9.70.
The increase is the second phase of the $15 minimum wage Gov. Andrew Cuomo successfully advocated for in 2016. The first increase went into effect on Dec. 31, 2016.
The wage hike will be phased in over a period of three years for employees at large New York City companies and four years for workers at smaller city businesses.
On Long Island and in Westchester County, the minimum wage will reach $15 an hour over a six-year period.
For the remainder of the state, including all of upstate, it will take longer for the minimum wage to reach $15 an hour. The minimum wage for the rest of the state will rise to $11.10 at the end of 2018, $11.80 at the end of 2019, and $12.50 on Dec. 31, 2020.
Beginning in 2021, the minimum wage increase will be determined by the state budget director, who will use the consumer price index and other economic indicators to determine how much it should rise.
The state labor commissioner will publish the annual minimum wage hikes no later than Oct. 1.
The statewide minimum wage hike is in addition to the increase specifically for workers in the fast-food industry. Beginning Sunday, the minimum wage for fast-food workers in New York City will increase from $12 to $13.50 an hour. For workers in the rest of the state, the minimum wage will rise from $10.75 to $11.75 an hour.
Auburn physical education teacher wins state award, reflects on career
As an Auburn school district teacher and coach, Shelly Connors tries to set aside what issues she's grappling with in her life and focuses on her students.
That said, Connors, physical education teacher for Auburn Junior High School and varsity tennis coach for Auburn High School, feels it's important to let students know they don't have to seem as if everything is going perfectly in their lives all the time. For the sake of setting that example, she does sometimes mention to students when she is having a bad day. The students understand, she said, because they've had rough days too.
"I think when we try to be something that we're not, it gives (students) a false image of what reality is really like," Connors said.
Dr. Tamela Ray, Auburn's director of athletics, health and physical education, said Connors is both professional and genuine, demonstrating to children that adults have bad days but can still adapt to situations and get through the day. Ray said Connors is dedicated, takes the initiative and tries to get to know students.
"She finds the thing that hooks (students) and gets them committed to fitness for life," Ray said.
Connors received a Secondary Physical Education Teacher of the Year award from the New York State New York State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance in November. She said Ray presenting the award to her made it more special, as Connors said she modeled a lot of her approach to teaching after Ray.
Connors has been a physical education teacher for 21 years, and has spent 17 years with Auburn. She moved to the middle school this year after 16 years at the high school because the school had all male physical education teachers for the last few years, and she felt it was important for female students at that age to have a PE teacher they could go to and relate to.
She feels that for physical education it is important to emphasize teamwork in preparation for real life scenarios, and not just how well an individual does at something.
Connors helped develop Auburn's education adventure curriculum, which involves activities that emphasize learning skills students will need in their lives. For example, one activity can involve a variation where the group would pass around an object to distract the group. This allows students to deal with distractions just as people deal with unexpected distractions that get in the way, she said.
As Connors' life has gone on, she said, she has gotten better at realizing that not everything is going to go perfectly and that her life has involved a lot of trial and error.
"There's a reason I'm not a surgeon. I don't have to do everything right the first time," Connors said.
Earlier this school year, she said, there was a home tennis game in which the other team didn't show up on time, as the other team thought the game was at a different time. Ten years ago, she would have been distraught by that situation, she said, instead of taking it in stride.
Ray said the moment that emphasized Connors' ability to her was when Connors was doing a presentation in front of her peers at a state conference years ago. Connors was energetic and her peers were focused on what she was saying, Ray said.
"It really made me look and step back and say, 'Wow, I'm really glad she's she's at Auburn and working with our kids,'" Ray said.