The Citizen's top five most-read stories of the work week.
Police name suspects apprehended in Auburn bank robbery
A man and woman were taken into custody in connection with a bank robbery reported on Auburn's west side Wednesday afternoon.
Officers from multiple law enforcement agencies responded to the report of a robbery at the KeyBank branch, 355 Genesee St. in Auburn, at 12:07 p.m.
Auburn Police Chief James Slayton said a male suspect entered the bank and passed a note to a teller demanding money. A weapon was not shown. Slayton said he could not disclose if any money was turned over to the suspect.
After the interaction inside the branch, the suspect then fled the building and headed east on foot. A short time later, the suspect was spotted getting into the passenger side of a white Ford Escape, and police put out an alert to be on the lookout for that vehicle, which was heading west.
Information was gathered by responding officers and investigators, which included developing leads to possible suspects, the suspects' vehicle and the direction that they left the scene.
New York State Police and the Cayuga County Sheriff's Office later executed a traffic stop on the vehicle on Route 90 in Aurora and took the two suspects into custody, Slayton said.
Arrested for third degree robbery were Johann A. Bass, for entering the bank and stealing an undisclosed amount of cash, and Elizabeth A. Yoensky, for her alleged role as the driver. The defendants were processed and held pending arraignment.
The chief said the investigation into the reported robbery is ongoing and if anyone has any information in regard to the robbery or the suspects, they can contact Detective Sean DeRosa at (315) 255-4706 or email@example.com. Callers can remain anonymous.
Graphics and growth: Auburn company shifts ownership as clients abound
Matt Ferguson calls it "the A&M difference."
It's what separates the Auburn graphics company he now fully owns, A&M Graphics, from others. Ferguson, who founded the company with Al Brunner in 2009, bought out his partner in December.
The transition comes as A&M continues growing, even during COVID-19. Once a 12-by-12-foot office on York Street, the company now occupies 5,000 square feet on Grant Avenue. Along the way, A&M has put together a vast portfolio of recognizable branding in Auburn and beyond, from the sign outside Cayuga Community College to the wall wraps at Anheuser-Busch in Baldwinsville.
Those brands have come back to A&M, and the company's reach has extended farther and farther throughout the region, because it can do just about everything, Ferguson said. He and Brunner have prided themselves on being a one-stop shop, offering every possible service across the spectrum from design to production. That, Ferguson told The Citizen on Wednesday, is the "A&M difference."
"It takes a lot off our clients' plates," he said. "They know they can just call and A&M is going to take care of them no matter what they need."
The company started by taking every client it could. Before its prominent signs and ubiquitous truck wraps, A&M created designs as modest as the decals on cornhole boards, said Ferguson, 37. Following a successful first couple years, he and Brunner, 63, started planning to transition from a partnership to full ownership by Ferguson. Brunner retains an advisory seat on the company's board.
A key step in A&M's growth from a "small sign shop" into the company it is now, Ferguson said, was obtaining 3M certification in graphics installation and architectural film installation.
"We wanted to set ourselves apart from everyone else who said they could do those things," he said, "by going through the toughest, most hands-on testing and certification there is in the country."
When it comes to their workforce, however, Ferguson and Brunner have been careful not to grow too fast. They started with a third employee at the front desk, but even after 12 years and four location changes, the company only employs five people. That's because A&M never wants to have to cut talent should work slow down. On the contrary, the company wants to be known for attracting and keeping talent, a reputation it affirmed by hiring a project manager from a large Syracuse company recently. A&M is currently looking to add an employee or two, Ferguson said.
The company's hiring philosophy extends to its creative work: quality over quantity. A&M's clients range from national companies that need premade graphics produced and installed to local ones that need someone to lead them through the whole process. Or sometimes national companies want to refresh their brand, or sometimes local ones need help researching theirs, Ferguson said.
Whatever the work, he and Brunner have found it rewarding. Perhaps the most rewarding, and the most prominent design in their portfolio, is the "Prison City Brewing" sign on the silo outside the brewery's new facility. After working through ideas with owners Dawn and Marc Schulz, A&M landed on the bold white lettering visible from North Street today. Before Ferguson and Brunner could install it, however, they had to apply for permits and then present it to the city's zoning board of appeals. It was a "real lofty project," Ferguson said, but he credits the board for approving it.
"It could be a 'Genesee Beer' sign for a new generation," he said. "When it was done, I had people I didn't know coming up to me and saying they saw the silo and loved it."
Other local breweries that boast A&M imagery, along with Prison City and Anheuser-Busch, include Next Chapter in Auburn and Lunkenheimer in Weedsport. But it was another category of clients that kept the company going nonstop during COVID-19. The design and production work A&M does for hospitals like Auburn Community and Upstate Medical University, as well as health care-adjacent manufacturers like Tessy Plastics and Currier Plastics, earned the company an "essential" designation from New York state in the early days of the pandemic, Ferguson said.
At first, it was just him and Brunner scrambling around their Grant Avenue facility. Later, the full A&M team was working to make sure they could help their essential clients however they could.
"We're the kind of guys that we're not going to roll over and go home and see what happens," Ferguson said. "We learned to zig or zag in whatever direction we had to."
Gallery: Inside A&M Graphics in Auburn
Moravia boys basketball comes through late to slip by rival Union Springs
MORAVIA — The latest meeting between the Moravia and Union Springs boys basketball teams had all the makings of a classic.
It did not disappoint.
The Blue Devils were able to fend off the rival Wolves 63-56 on Monday at Moravia High School, in a game that featured eight lead changes in the second half.
The last lead change tipped the scales toward Moravia, which leaned on two late free throws from Abram Wasileski and a successful floater by freshman Joe Baylor to cap off the win.
"It lived up to the billing and then some," Moravia coach Todd Mulvaney said. "They're a great team and (Union Springs coach Dan Cerro) does a great job, and we knew it was gonna come down to the end of the game. Tonight was a good high school basketball game.
"I'm super proud of our team in a big game like that against an experienced team. I think the experience in itself will help us moving forward."
The Blue Devils and Wolves put on a display of contrasting styles. Moravia prefers to pound the ball down low, while Union Springs plays plenty of drive-and-kick to shoot from distance.
The Wolves were a tick off for most of the first half, as the Blue Devils went into the halftime break with a 28-20 lead. Moravia also benefited from a bizarre sequence in the final 10 seconds of the half, which featured a rushed shot, multiple turnovers, a dispute regarding a foul call and two successful free throws from Wasileski.
Union Springs' bread and butter began to click in the second half, as senior Hunter Martin scored 14 points — with a pair of 3s — in the third quarter. Martin's efforts, along with key triples from Jose Reyes and Andrew Salls, allowed the Wolves to climb back and trade leads with Moravia.
Tied at 45 entering the fourth, the Blue Devils turned to their offensive engine Kyler Proper, who recorded an old-fashioned three-point play and a traditional 3 to put Moravia in front by six with seven minutes to go.
Then Martin and Salls answered with 3s of their own to tie it, again.
The back and forth continued until the final minute. Ahead by three points with 44 seconds left and the ball, Moravia killed some clock, then put the ball in Baylor's hands for the potential dagger. Baylor, after accepting a hand off from Aiden Kelly, charged the lane and got the roll for two points and a five-point Moravia advantage.
Two more free throws sealed the deal.
"The kids executed well at the end of the game there," Mulvaney said. "That was a pivotal moment there, only up by three. We knew with the weapons they have that they could tie the game and send it to overtime, so we needed a solid possession. Our kids read what was there, it ended up coming to Joe and Joe made a great play for us."
Baylor finished with a team-high 15 points for Moravia, while Proper scored 14, Wasileski had 11, Kelly totaled 10 and Logan Bell chipped in with nine.
Martin paced Union Springs with 19, all of which came in the second half. Salls was next in line with 12, while Reyes and Damon Brown both scored 11.
Monday's game represents a gauntlet of a three-game stretch for Moravia. The Blue Devils host Section IV power Newfield on Friday, then face Union Springs in a rematch next Wednesday.
"It's still a long season. We have the same goal as every day. You prepare for the next game on your schedule and try to get better," Mulvaney said. "That's really how you approach every day and every practice. After games, we'll assess what we did well and what we need to work on, and hopefully from there we continue to grow."
Gallery: Moravia fends off rival Union Springs in boys basketball
Auburn teen among two charged with theft of vehicle with dogs inside
An Auburn teenager was among two people arrested this week as police sought to identify two people suspected of stealing a car with two dogs inside.
The North Syracuse Police Department said that a black Kia Soul left running outside Dog Daze Pet Shop was stolen Saturday, Jan. 8, when the owner briefly picked up an item inside. Inside the car were two dachshunds, which were later recovered unharmed in Auburn.
Police had circulated a photo of the suspects in the case and said tips from the public helped them track down the two teens.
Police later reported that a 17-year-old male from Athol, Massachusetts was arrested in Auburn Monday and charged with felony grand larceny, unauthorized use of a vehicle and conspiracy. He was arraigned and taken to Hillbrook Juvenile Detention Facility.
On Tuesday, a 15-year-old male from Auburn who had been temporarily living in Cicero was arrested in North Syracuse and also charged with felony grand larceny, conspiracy and unauthorized use of a vehicle. He was issued a ticket to appear in family court.
Police said that while initial reports said the dogs had been found in crates along the side of a road, they had actually been given to a friend of one of the suspects to turn in, and that person told animal control officials he had found them on the roadside.
The arrests were made after numerous tips were received from the public after seeing the incident on social media and news outlets, and police offered their thanks to the public for the tips along with everyone who shared the information that helped lead to the arrests.
Auburn pediatrician: Why my children received COVID vaccinations
In our increasingly divided society, our children unite us. Regardless of race, gender, income level or political affiliation, we all love our children. On a daily basis, caregivers across any spectrum truly do their best to make decisions that keep their children healthy and safe.
As a pediatrician, I have spent countless hours helping families through these decisions. These discussions have ranged from introduction of solid foods to encouraging healthy activities and discouraging risky behaviors. They have included explanations of risks and benefits of treatment of infections with antibiotics, and treatment of mental health conditions with medications that carry a scary label of “black box warning.” I continued to be awed by the privilege of patients and families allowing me to have these conversations.
One of the first decisions parents face is choosing to follow my recommendations in regards to routine childhood immunizations. For many, this is easy. For others, this requires listening to vaccine-related concerns followed by discussion of potential harms associated with vaccine preventable illness.
Hesitation in regards to providing COVID-19 immunizations to children is completely understandable. It is appropriate to have a high threshold to protect a child from harm. When it came to immunizing my 16-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter, I admit that I hesitated, for many of the same reasons I have heard from my patients. “But kids don’t get that sick.” “What about that myocarditis?” “What about long term side effects?”
However, a brief review of medical literature reframed my concerns. I quickly learned that since the pandemic started, there have been more than 5,000 cases of MIS-C (Multi-inflammatory Syndrome in Children) and 50 deaths. I found that an unvaccinated adolescent was 10 times more likely to be hospitalized. Children have also experienced PASC (Post-acute Sequela of COVID-19), which is syndrome of prolonged symptoms of mental fogginess, significant fatigue and shortness of breath. I read literature supporting that the risk of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle, a not uncommon condition in teenage boys) was 30 times higher with natural COVID infection versus vaccine. I also found that virtually all vaccine-related cases did not require hospitalization or treatment, and that this is not the case with myocarditis that was caused by COVID-19 infection.
The concern of potential “long-term” side effects with COVID-19 vaccinations is certainly more difficult to address, both personally and professionally. I grant that there are not long-term studies for this vaccine. However, there has NEVER been a vaccine in the history of vaccines that has caused delayed long-term harm. Any significant vaccine adverse event has been identified in the first two months after initiation. Given the fact that the vaccine was granted emergency use authorization for ages 5-11 on Oct. 29, and the fact that over 20 million children who are eligible for vaccination have received at least one dose, I feel confident that the benefit of vaccination is significantly more than potential harm.
Some have raised concerns regarding impact of COVID-19 immunization on fertility. Again, science and history do not support this. No vaccine has ever been shown to contribute to infertility. US pregnancy rates remained stable throughout the last year when vaccines were widely provided to woman of childbearing age. As a counterpoint, natural infection with vaccine-preventable illnesses (measles or mumps) has been implicated in male infertility.
Lastly, if your choice in regards to immunizing your children is “not now,” please consider your own immunization status. More than 140,000 children in the United States have lost a caregiver due to COVID-19. Receiving your own immunization, and boostering when you qualify, is a powerful way to care for your child.
Review of scientific data, discussion with my children’s physician, and conversation with my husband and children resulted in a decision to have my children vaccinated. I encourage all caregivers to review concerns with their children’s primary care clinician. I implore you to listen to the information that they provide. As a pediatrician, I also love your children, and want to keep them healthy and safe.