Weekly top reads: Auburn fire, Auburn man wins $1M lottery prize, Ivanka Trump visits CNY
The Citizen's top 10 most-read stories of the week.
Residents displaced by fire at Auburn apartment building
AUBURN — Residents fled an apartment building that caught fire in Auburn Thursday morning.
The fire, at 5 Washington St., was reported to be burning at about 8:30 a.m. Doug Bedford, who lives in the building, said that he was in bed when someone he doesn't know — he believes it was a neighbor from a nearby building — came to his door and told him the building was on fire. Bedford said he grabbed his 2-year-old twins, Kegan and Bryce Bedford, but didn't manage to get their shoes on before fleeing.
"It's terrifying being told your house is on fire," Doug said with a slight, tired laugh.
The twins' mother, Brittney Baran, said she was at work at Unity House of Cayuga County on Market Street at the time of the fire and noticed the smoke immediately once she went outside. She said that because Unity House is near the main city fire station, she didn't think much of the sirens becaue she is so used to hearing alarms. Baran said she was glad the twins seemed relaxed afterward, as they squatted calmly on grass drawing into a notepad.
Assistant Fire Chief Mike Grady said that the fire was extinguished a couple hours after it began. One firefighter received a "joint injury," Grady said, and was treated at Auburn Community Hospital and released. Every tenant from the six-unit apartment building was accounted for.
The fire was still under investigation Thursday evening and firefighters were on hand to ensure the blaze stayed extinguished. Grady believed the building is salvageable despite the attic sustaining heavy fire damage and the second floor taking water damage. The first floor received limited damage, Grady said.
Grady expected that residents would be able to return to their homes once "pretty substantial repairs" are made. The American Red Cross was working with the tenants displaced by the fire.
Around 9 a.m., steady streams of smoke were billowing from the top of the building. Three fire trucks were at the scene, with two TLC ambulances nearby. Firefighters could be seen going in through the back of the building. Water burst from the top of the building a couple times. Other firefighters who came out of the building sat on large mats in front of the building guzzling water bottles.
According to Cayuga County real property records, the 5 Washington St. building is owned by Westcott A. Jones of Medicine Lake, Minnesota. The 5,300-square-foot building and land are assessed at $150,000.
The building used to be known as Giovanetti Nursing Home. It was converted to apartments in the mid-1970s.
Gallery: Auburn firefighters battle apartment building blaze
Auburn Schine Theater owner receives state approval to sell building
The stage has been set for the longtime owner of the Auburn Schine Theater to sell it to a Syracuse developer.
The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has given the Cayuga County Arts Council its approval to sell the 1938 art deco theater to Bowers Development. In a June 18 letter to council board Chair Ed Onori, office Commissioner Rose Harvey said the office has agreed to the sale based on its own review, as well as the review of the state attorney general and the state comptroller. The office provided a copy of the letter to The Citizen on Monday.
The council required the office's approval to sell the Schine because the office holds a preservation covenant on it as a condition of grant money the state has awarded the council's effort to restore it. The covenant, which expires July 25, 2036, will transfer to Bowers, according to the letter. The covenant prohibits the historic building's owner from making any changes to it without the office's approval.
Twenty years ago in January, the Cayuga County Arts Council purchased the Auburn Schine Thea…
Council communications Chair Michelle Milewski said Monday that the council and Bowers are beginning to close the sale. Bowers is buying the building for $15,000 through Schines Theater LLC. The council purchased it in 1998 for $26,000 in back taxes owed to the city, and the property's current assessed value is $206,000, according to Cayuga County records.
The Syracuse developer, owned by President Bryan Bowers, has estimated that the theater's restoration will cost $6 million and conclude by October 2019.
Bowers received $800,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds from the city of Auburn to finance the removal of the Schine's asbestos and other hazardous materials earlier this year. Bowers has also received $1.2 million through the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council and $1 million through the Restore NY Communities Initiative for the project.
In Bowers' sale agreement with the council, which was also provided to The Citizen by the state historic preservation office, the developer said that it plans to apply for a payment in lieu of taxes agreement for the project. If it does not obtain the PILOT, the document continues, "the project viability may be in jeopardy." Bowers would then have the right to sell the Schine back to the council, and the council would be obligated to purchase it, according to the document.
Milewski said the council, which will continue to work with Bowers on the theater's restoration, will hold another open house event this summer following one on Memorial Day weekend. It is also planning a #80in18 celebration for the Schine's 80th birthday this fall, she said. Onori previously told The Citizen that the council and Bowers hope to have the theater's South Street marquee working in time for the celebration.
Gallery: Inside the Auburn Schine Theater in 2018-2019
'We sell fun': The MacKenzie-Childs Barn Sale, by the numbers
AURORA — The tented pavement floor of the MacKenzie-Childs Barn Sale was mostly empty when Jerry Ryan walked through it Tuesday. But one of the boxes that was there got his attention.
"These pumpkins are amazing," he said. The box, the size of a small hot tub, held dozens of the decorative gourds, all covered in the Aurora manufacturer's signature checkerboard pattern.
Over a cacophony of beeps from forklifts bustling nearby, Ryan continued: "Between pumpkins and tea kettles, you would think that everybody in the area would have one by now."
Pumpkins and tea kettles are two of the most popular items sold at the annual Barn Sale, which returns Thursday, July 12. As MacKenzie-Childs prepared for this year's sale last week, Ryan, a 23-year veteran of the company and its current manager of distribution operations, gave The Citizen a peek at the effort required to mount it. And only the numbers can do that effort justice:
This year's Barn Sale will be the 30th for Ryan. It started in 1996 in "a little teeny tiny tent" outside the barn, which MacKenzie-Childs acquired from Cornell University that year, he said. The barn was disassembled in Trumansburg and rebuilt at the company's Aurora headquarters, where it has since hosted tea parties, a restaurant, a wedding and more. The Barn Sale took place twice a year until 2000, then started again in 2002. But it wasn't until 2008 that it became a fixture on the calendar of MacKenzie-Childs — and its fans from all over the world.
Today, though, only a sliver of the sale takes place in the barn: It now spans 2.5 acres of tented floor on the company's 65-acre property.
Filling all that space is 1,200 pallets of MacKenzie-Childs merchandise. Each one is stickered with its destination on the show floor, down to the row. So as it's delivered from the company's warehouse in Union Springs, it's placed according to its category: accessories, garden, jewelry, ceramics, glassware, furniture and more. Some items are made specifically for the sale, Ryan added. Though the sale was more of a clearance in its early years, he continued, today the company approaches it as a cultural event where the goal is to have something for every customer.
Barn Sale discounts range from 40 to 80 percent. To encourage repeat visits, some inventory is discounted more and more over the course of the sale's four days, Ryan said.
The lure of MacKenzie-Childs merchandise at such a deep discount has made the Barn Sale one of Cayuga County's premier tourist draws. Last year, Ryan said, attendance climbed about 5 percent to 26,000 people, the sale's highest ever. Many come year after year because of their loyalty to the manufacturer, whose aesthetics, checkerboard and otherwise, are the product of more than 100 artisans. "Nobody buys our dinner plate because they need a dinner plate," Ryan said. "They buy our dinner plate because it makes them smile. So, basically, we sell fun."
That lure has led customers to line up at MacKenzie-Childs headquarters as early as the Sunday night before the Thursday morning sale, Ryan said. Each night in between, hundreds would sleep on the red brick walkway leading to the sales floor. The company raised a tent to give them shelter, and though it could cover a line five people wide, the crowd outgrew it by hundreds of feet. But this year, due to safety concerns, MacKenzie-Childs won't allow customers to line up until 6 a.m. Wednesday, reducing the wait time to 26 hours. There's still a line each day of the sale, Ryan continued, but it's longest on the first day because of the furniture, whose stock is much more limited than other items.
In spite of the competitive subtext, Barn Sale customers who wait in line together often become friends, Ryan said. And MacKenzie-Childs has tried to grow that camaraderie in recent years with a DJ, food, prizes and other flourishes of what he called a "country fair atmosphere." But the food has been limited to one or two vendors. In an effort to make this year's Barn Sale even more of an event, it will feature 10 vendors: Bird Song Cafe, Cayuga Lake Creamery, Felony Donutz, Let's Roll Gourmet, Heart & Hands Winery, Aurora Ale & Lager, Silver Street Road Kettle Corn, PB&J's Lunch Box, Wolf's Patio Pizza and Tonzi's Catering Co. And that doesn't include Serendipity Catering, which feeds the sale's staff.
Meg Vanek is not only a proponent of the MacKenzie-Childs Barn Sale, she's also a customer.
MacKenzie-Childs employs 360 people full-time, and for them the Barn Sale is an all-hands-on-deck affair, Ryan said. But the company requires an additional 400 temporary jobs to manage the sale. Their tasks range from discarding empty boxes and restocking inventory to answering questions and monitoring lines. For instance, if the company sells out of a pallet of garden stakes, Ryan said, someone nearby will immediately know if customers can expect another pallet. Others are hired to work security: Because the sale takes several days to set up, the merchandise that's been placed outside must be monitored overnight against theft and thunderstorms. The latter reliably strikes at least once a year, Ryan said. But security is also required because the sale can give way to what he called "friendly competition." Ryan advised customers not to leave their carts unattended: "If someone sees what they want, they're gonna grab it."
Some of the temporary jobs created by the Barn Sale are cashiers at its 42 registers. This year, to speed up sales, a staffer at the checkout line will have a tablet indicating when a register opens. They can then direct customers to that numbered and color-coded register. Before this system, Ryan said, cashiers had to call out when they were open.
Last year's 26,000 customers included ones from Japan, England and Australia, as well as most of the 50 states, Ryan said. That's why MacKenzie-Childs offers a shipping station at the Barn Sale. It shipped 1,350 orders last year, he said. More local customers bring U-Hauls or trailers to the sale. This year, however, they will not be able to take shopping carts back to their cars. Ryan said the new policy will allow the carts to remain more available to incoming customers.
Planning for next year's Barn Sale will begin with a debrief the day after this year's ends, Ryan said. There, MacKenzie-Childs staff will discuss what worked and what didn't. Then, in January, product preparation will begin. And customers will probably begin planning their return. "Our customers are very special people," Ryan said. "We have a great fan base that's loyal and a lot of fun."
Gallery: Inside the MacKenzie-Childs Barn Sale
Child who fell into backyard pool in Auburn dies
A toddler who had been in critical condition after falling into an Auburn backyard pool July 3 died Thursday morning.
Jaxon J. Finizio, a 23-month-old boy, was found unconscious after falling into an above-ground pool last week. His mother and bystanders began intervening with CPR on the scene until EMS arrived, but the child didn't become responsive until after he was transported via ambulance to Auburn Community Hospital. Upon becoming responsive, he was transported to Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital in Syracuse via helicopter.
"I wish this wasn’t real life," Finizio's cousin Eric Sapps said in a Facebook post. "I love you so much. I know you put up the strongest fight and I know that everyone did all they could for you. I’m gonna miss that contagious smile ... Rest in paradise Jax (heart emoji). I will never ever ever forget you."
Last week Sapps told The Citizen that Finizio has six siblings, including a twin sister, Gia. He also noted that although Finizio was placed on life support, the family was holding on to hope for a miracle. Finizio would have celebrated his second birthday July 27, Sapps said.
Sapps was also one of the family members who organized a prayer vigil for Finizio at Hoopes Park last Friday evening.
At the event, Raheem Smith, Finizio's father, told The Citizen that every day has been a struggle for Finizio and his family, but said the community support Friday was a testament to the boy's strength.
“It just shows the strength of a human, that a baby can bring a crowd together, and how strong his willpower is to bring us together,” Smith said.
Calling hours are scheduled to take place from 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday, July 15, at White Chapel Funeral Home, 197 South St., Auburn. A service will be held Monday, at a time to be determined, at Roosevelt Memorial Baptist Church, 101 Fitch Ave., Auburn, with the burial in Fort Hill Cemetery.
Tangible love: Skaneateles church spends Sunday stocking Auburn food pantries
AUBURN — Wegmans was busier than usual this Sunday as hundreds of people from Grace Chapel church in Skaneateles shopped in the Auburn store to stock food pantries and local pregnancy centers with needed items.
Grace Chapel called the day "Acts 29 Sunday" and instead of collecting tithes and offerings, the church opted to hold a 20-minute service and encouraged the congregation to spend what they otherwise would have given to the church on items to donate to the community.
"There is no Acts 29," said Senior Pastor Barry Sisson during the church service, referring to the book of Acts in the Bible which only has 28 chapters. "Acts is all about ... the establishment of the church. But Acts 29 is about being the Church. This is where we go and we are the Church.
"Today is about showing God's love in Auburn," Sisson said. "I will remind you that love is never silent and love never stands at a distance."
Sisson explained to the congregation that the shopping list provided for shoppers was created by the pregnancy center and food pantries themselves, so items purchased will meet direct needs. After a few more directions on logistics, Sisson said the word of the day was "patience," and with that he concluded the service: "Go be the Church."
By 10 a.m. shoppers had already flooded the Auburn Wegmans, walking through the store and filling their carts to the brim with cereals, canned goods, personal hygiene and baby care items, jars of peanut butter, laundry detergent and more.
"It's been fun, a little hectic," said shopper Corrine LaFrance as she and her cousins took inventory of the items in their cart to see how much money they had left to spend. "But it's nice to see the money doing something instead of just giving it away."
Alisha Northrup said the experience has been "eye opening (and) overwhelming in a good way" for herself and her husband, Jamie, who live in Auburn and have been members of the church for eight years.
"It is unique going to the grocery store and not shopping for yourself," Jamie said, adding that it's important for the church to be involved in the community in ways like this "so people know they are not alone."
Sisson said one of the ideas the church wants to foster and cultivate for the congregation is "to be the Church, not just attend church." He said the congregation chose to invest in Auburn to help meet needs and express love because, as the closest city to the church, it "is our neighbor."
The church hosted the event in the summer because the food pantries and the pregnancy center expressed that it is their greatest time of need, Sisson explained. He also added that Wegmans has been an amazing partner and even expressed enthusiasm for the opportunity to make a difference in the community — which included overstocking on certain items and reserving a handful of dedicated check-out lanes for Sunday.
When shoppers exited Wegmans, there was a sorting and packing team outside preparing and loading up the donations for delivery Sunday afternoon. The church filled a 16-foot-long moving truck and two pick-up trucks with boxes of donations before all shoppers had even completed their purchases.
"This is our way to express love in a tangible way," Sisson said, adding that the event was not about being noticed but about loving the community.
Gallery: Skaneateles church floods Auburn Wegmans to stock local food pantries
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Auburn man scratches off NY Lottery ticket he bought for his wife. He won $1 million.
FLEMING — Carl Festa couldn't believe it.
The Auburn man went to the Express Mart in Fleming and purchased two bags of ice and a $5 New York Lottery scratch-off ticket, $1,000,000 Mayhem. The ticket was intended for his wife, Cheryl, but he decided to play it himself.
While sitting in his car, Festa scratched off the ticket and found that he matched two numbers: No. 14 was listed under "Your Numbers" and was one of the possible winning numbers on the ticket. It wasn't until after he revealed the numbers that he decided to see his prize.
Below the No. 14 read, "JACKPOT." He won $1 million.
"I was thinking this ain't real," Festa told the New York Lottery's Yolanda Vega during a check presentation Friday at the same Express Mart where he bought the ticket. "I finished scratching off the $1 million and I'm like this ain't real because I don't win."
He took the ticket home and showed his wife. She confirmed what her husband saw — that the ticket was a jackpot winner.
That night, the Festas had a party at their house. They didn't tell anyone about Carl's $1 million win.
Festa didn't rush to claim his prize. He said he waited 10 days because he wanted to talk to an attorney first and then tell his four children. When he went to the lottery's customer service center in Syracuse, staff there confirmed what he already knew.
"They said, 'You won a million dollars,'" he recalled.
Festa opted for the lump sum payment. He will receive $537,440 after taxes.
Vega asked him "the million dollar question": What will he do with the money? He plans to give some of the winnings to each of his four children, and he and his wife will buy a home out of state.
The Festas also plan to take six of their closest friends on a trip to Aruba.
For Carl Festa, he still can't believe he won on the scratch-off.
"It feels great," he said. "It is overwhelming. It doesn't still feel real."
Auburn woman pleads guilty to attempted promoting prostitution in Cayuga County
AUBURN — Emilie Keeney was supposed to be sentenced Tuesday for her role in two robberies in Cayuga County. Instead, she ended up admitting to an additional crime: attempted promoting prostitution.
According to the Cayuga County District Attorney's Office, the 24-year-old's crimes began back in January 2016 when she was involved in an altercation outside a downtown Auburn restaurant. At the time, officials said Keeney shoved a state trooper and attempted to flee police while officers cleared a fight at Osteria Salina on State Street. She was ultimately convicted of resisting arrest and obstructing governmental administration, both class A misdemeanors.
Then, in September 2016, Keeney was rearrested following two robberies in the county. The first occurred on Aug. 27 at a farm in the town of Scipio, where Keeney and two co-defendants — Devin Meacham-Wheeler and Christopher Johnson Jr. — forcibly stole money and other property. The trio robbed another farm on Sept. 1 in the town of Fleming.
In both cases, District Attorney Jon Budelmann said the defendants had been targeting migrant workers because they assumed the victims would not contact the police. He said the defendants displayed a pistol at the first robbery and a machete, bat and gun at the second.
Keeney was initially charged with six felonies but ended up pleading guilty to four: two counts of third-degree robbery and two counts of third-degree burglary. All are class D felonies punishable by up to nine years in prison.
On Tuesday, Keeney was scheduled to be sentenced to 2 1/3 to seven years in prison for the robberies. However, her sentencing was postponed because she was recently arrested again — this time for promoting prostitution.
In Cayuga County Court, Keeney, of 109 Washington St. Apt. 2, Auburn, pleaded guilty to one count of third-degree attempted promoting prostitution, a class E felony. During her plea, Keeney cried as she admitted profiting from prostitution in the town of Scipio.
On June 14, Keeney said, she set up appointments for two girls to have paid sex with migrant workers at a farm in Scipio. She said the girls then planned to use the money to buy drugs to share with Keeney.
Keeney was remanded to Cayuga County Jail without bail pending sentencing. She will likely be sentenced to a total of 3 1/3 to 10 years in prison Aug. 14.
Also in court
• Last year, Charles E. Henry Jr. made headlines after he was found sleeping in his car in a Dunkin' Donuts parking lot in Auburn with envelopes of fentanyl lying in plain sight. At the time, Henry was arrested and released on bail, but less than 24 hours later, he was back behind bars for possessing more than $100,000 in stolen property.
On Tuesday, Henry, 34, of 55 Market St. Apt. 9, Auburn, pleaded guilty in Cayuga County Court to two felonies — second-degree criminal possession of stolen property and third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. During his plea, he told the court he possessed more than $100,000 in stolen currency as well as 32 glassine envelopes of fentanyl, some of which he intended to sell.
"I was going to sell some of them to break even, but most was for personal use," Henry said. "I did have a drug problem."
While Henry could face up to 15 years in prison for the stolen property and nine years in prison for the drugs, he will likely receive three years in prison with parole supervision. Judge Mark Fandrich agreed to sentence Henry to one to three years in prison for the stolen money and three years in prison and two years post-release supervision for possessing drugs. Fandrich also plans to include a shock camp order, which would allow Henry to receive substance abuse treatment while serving the majority of his sentence as parole supervision.
Henry was remanded to Cayuga County Jail without bail. His sentencing was scheduled for Sept. 18.
• An Auburn man will owe more than $17,000 in restitution for damaging property throughout Cayuga County, including several vehicles at a local car dealership.
Mitchell Ellingwood, 26, of 7430 North St. Road, pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree criminal mischief, a class D felony. During his plea, he told the court he had damaged the exterior of two cars at Fox Chrysler in the town of Sennett in May.
"I scratched the paint with a key," he said.
The district attorney's office said Ellingwood owed roughly $17,500 to seven parties, including $7,500 to Fox Chrysler. He could have faced up to seven years in prison, but will likely be sentenced to 1 1/3 to four years in prison. Fandrich said he would include a shock camp recommendation, allowing Ellingwood to serve most of his sentence as parole supervision.
Ellingwood was remanded to Cayuga County Jail without bail pending sentencing Sept. 11.
• An Auburn man was sentenced to prison Tuesday for possessing narcotics with the intent to sell.
At sentencing Tuesday, Budelmann said Smith was a "good-sized marijuana and prescription drug dealer." He said Smith would have to forfeit more than $2,900 and pay $120 to the Finger Lakes Drug Task Force, which recovered 17 Suboxone sublingual films during a search in January.
Smith was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison and one year post-release supervision.
2 stabbed in Auburn Wednesday morning
Two people were stabbed in two separate incidents in Auburn Wednesday morning, the Auburn Police Department said.
Just before 4 a.m., police were dispatched to 208 Genesee St., where officers found one of the victims, Shaquille Manners, with injuries to his chest and arm. Then, approximately 24 minutes later, police were called to 48 Chapman Ave. for reports of a second stabbing. There, police located Brandon McLaurin who had injuries to his shoulder, back and arm. Both victims were transported to Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse for treatment.
"It does not appear that the addresses listed are the locations in which the incidents occurred rather where they went to seek help," APD Det. Meagan Kalet said in an email.
According to a press release from APD, both victims are refusing to cooperate with police, so police cannot determine if these two incidents are related.
"They are being investigated as separate incidents until information is gained otherwise," the press release said.
McLaurin has since been treated and released from the hospital while Manners remains in stable condition.
The police have no suspects or individuals in custody as of Wednesday morning. APD is asking that anyone with additional information related to these cases contact Kalet at (315) 255-4702 or (315) 253-3231. Callers may remain anonymous.
Ivanka Trump visits Syracuse, hears from Auburn, CNY leaders about P-TECH program
SYRACUSE — For the second time in three weeks, a prominent member of President Donald Trump's administration visited central New York to highlight economic initiatives and show support for incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. John Katko.
Ivanka Trump, adviser to the president and first daughter, headlined an hour-long roundtable discussion Monday with central New York business and education leaders. The meeting was held at the Institute of Technology at Central in Syracuse.
The high school is the site of a Pathways in Technology Early College High School program designed to prepare students for careers in computer information systems, engineering and other fields. Students who complete the six-year program earn a Regents high school diploma and an associate degree.
The Syracuse P-TECH program is a partnership between the Manufacturers Association of Central New York and Onondaga Community College. The Auburn Enlarged City School District has its own P-TECH collaboration with Cayuga Community College.
Trump, who said she is passionate about workforce development, views programs like P-TECH as a way to address a problem facing many employers: The lack of skilled workers to fill positions.
"There are so many job opportunities, and many of those job opportunities don't require four-year degrees," she said.
She touted two actions taken by the president to prioritize science, technology, engineering and math education: A memorandum calling for an increase in STEM funding and a separate memo directing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to improve access to STEM education.
There are other efforts Ivanka Trump supports, including increasing STEM access to women and expanding apprenticeship opportunities. However, she noted that one challenge facing employers is that there are vacant positions not being filled because people are unaware of the jobs.
Randy Wolken, president and CEO of the Manufacturers Association of Central New York, acknowledged that's a problem for companies in the region.
"We have a crisis right now," he said. "We don't have enough workers."
Among MACNY's membership, Wolken estimated that 5 to 10 percent of the positions are vacant at an average company. That's why he believes employers should invest and support programs like P-TECH, which can prepare workers to fill those jobs.
Funding P-TECH is challenging, however. The Syracuse program relies on competitive grants administered by the state. It has been able to win four of those competitions, but a steady source of funding isn't available.
Donna Formica, principal at the Institute of Technology at Central, revealed that the tuition costs for students in the program totaled $102,000. The school has $28,000 earmarked for books and $18,000 for transportation, she added.
The need for additional funding is a concern shared by Auburn Superintendent Jeff Pirozzolo, who attended Trump's roundtable discussion.
"They're fortunate here in the Syracuse City School District to get funding to create their own Pathways school," he said. "We'd love to do that in Auburn as well."
The benefits of P-TECH were on display during Trump's conversation with panelists, which included three recent high school graduates. One of those students, Lilly La, graduated from the Institute of Technology in June. She has already earned 32 college credits by taking courses at Onondaga Community College.
She plans to attend Syracuse University, where she will major in biology.
"P-TECH has allowed me to participate in many opportunities that other high schools didn't offer," La said.
It was Trump's second visit to a P-TECH school since her father took office in January 2017. In December, she toured a school in Norwalk, Connecticut. She called it an "eye-opening experience."
She lauded Katko, R-Camillus, for his work in Congress. The two have interacted before. The Syracuse-area congressman attended a meeting in March where he outlined his proposal to establish a paid family leave program — a cause that's important to the first daughter.
At Monday's roundtable discussion, Trump called Katko "a great champion for everyone in his district."
The event was the second of two stops in central New York for Trump. Before coming to Syracuse, she toured Suit-Kote in Cortland County with U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney.
There were protesters outside both venues. More than 100 people gathered near the Institute of Technology at Central to protest the Trump administration's policies.
As she prepared to depart the Syracuse meeting, Ivanka Trump thanked attendees for providing feedback and answering her questions.
"I've learned a lot," she said. "I'll take your suggestions back to Washington with me."
Gallery: Ivanka Trump visits Syracuse P-Tech at Institute of Technology
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Fun is serious business at the 'Yard Games World Championships' in Owasco
OWASCO — The so-called world championships of yard games featured hundreds of players in friendly competition Saturday, but Colin Parry remembers when it was just 16 people in one backyard.
Parry was present for the original event a few years ago, when he and others played in the yard of Bill Alfeiri's apartment. Parry loved the games then — and still does — as the event has ballooned to include a costume contest, a raffle, vendors and 96 teams putting their throwing arms to the test in various games with discs, bean bags and more at Emerson Park in Owasco.
Parry, who was a games champion in a previous year, said early into Saturday's games that though he and partner Dan Zdanowski aren't experts at disc-related activities, they will abide by a saying Parry created.
"You're an athlete, figure it out," Parry said with a laugh.
Two-person teams of men and women played different games until working their way up to the final round. Various characters could be spotted throughout the event, as Kyle Howe and Pete Klock tossed bean bags while both wore outfits that resembled a pair of legs riding a shark. Later, Mark Brooks burst into more than one full body high-kick dance when he and partner Eric Davis scored points during a game.
The competitive spirits of Ronzell Allan and Shawn McIntosh were fired up as they played Ladder Golf in yellow "Ghostbusters" suits, though Shawn stripped off the top half of his outfit due to the sweltering heat. Shawn played with a beer in one hand while tossing a bola with the other, until he chugged the drink at one point. Though they lost the game, that didn't stop them from asking Jordan Roe, one of the women they played against, who scored more points between the two of them.
On the opposite end of the park were Shawn's wife, Crystal McIntosh, and Ronzell's girlfriend, Megan Baran, dressed as Miss Scarlet and Miss White from the board game Clue. Megan's look included white hair, a maid outfit and rope, while Crystal wore a bright red dress with a candlestick in hand. The duo was up against Katie Smith and Kaylee Roeschlaub, last year's women's games champions.
The four played a game in which competitors had to throw a disc in between two poles. Roeschlaub was all gritted teeth and competitive form as she played, with one leg forward as she rocketed her discs. At one point a disc landed an couple inches shy of Crystal and Megan's nearby drinks.
"The drinks! Not the drinks!" Megan cried in mock panic as she and Crystal laughed.
Mike Phillips, one of the games' co-organizers who held that original fateful game years ago, said the event started as a way to simply get people together. Phillips and friends had a simple reason for choosing yard games back then.
"Everybody can do them and everyone enjoys them," Phillips said.
Phillips plans on expanding the games in the future and would love the Auburn area to be recognized far and wide as the site of the yard games.
"We want an event Auburn can be proud of," Phillips said.
Gallery: Events, costumes abound at the Yard Games World Championships in Owasco