Weekly top reads: Black Lives Matter banner damaged in Auburn, new Auburn food trailer, Cayuga County crash
The Citizen staff
The Citizen's top 10 most-read stories of the week.
Hog n' Dog Grill: Food trailer opens on Auburn's north side
A new food business has opened in Auburn, both giving customers a quick and easy option and giving fellow businesses needed support during COVID-19.
Located at 235 North St., near the intersection with York Street, is the Hog n' Dog Grill. Partners Al Brunner and Amanda Pinckney opened the business about three weeks ago. Its lunchtime menu features simple favorites like hot dogs, sausage, chicken spiedies, pulled pork, macaroni and cheese and more, which can be taken to go or eaten under a nearby tented area with several tables.
Brunner said Pinckney, of Buck Tucker's Home Cookin' in Fingerlakes Mall, is the chef. She not only makes everything from scratch, from the entrees to the sauces and the sides, but she also sources locally as much as possible. For instance, Hog n' Dog serves Hofmann hot dogs and Gianelli sausage in rolls from Camerons Bakery, on top of paper products from Donovan-Luksa.
"Opening this business isn't just about giving our community a nice little grab stand for summer fare, but also supporting local businesses," Brunner said.
A food trailer, Hog n' Dog has stayed put at its North Street location since opening. But it will soon be on the move to cater events, Brunner said. The co-owner of A&M Graphics in Auburn, he also owns the property where the trailer sits. Brunner had the idea to open a food business there before the COVID-19 pandemic began, he said. The intersection sees about 12,000 cars a day.
But the pandemic has made quick, easy food even more desirable, he said.
"Takeout is booming because people have nothing else to do," he said. "Everything has kind of slowed down."
Hog n' Dog Grill also makes an effort to serve customers quickly — within five minutes, Brunner said — because many of them are nearby factory workers on their lunch break. And this week, Brunner welcomed the Muzzi's Italian Ice truck to the property, giving customers a refreshing summer option — and another local business to support.
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Watch Now: Auburn police release video of Black Lives Matter banner vandalism suspect
Auburn police on Tuesday released a security camera video clip showing the person they believe was responsible for the vandalism of a Black Lives Matter banner on display in the front lawn of a downtown church.
The video footage follows the Auburn Police Department's press release last week that included security photos of the suspect, who police believe cut out the word "Black" from the sign around 3 a.m. July 6 at Westminster Presbyterian Church.
Here's the video clip, which APD posted to its Facebook page:
On July 10, we reported the following:
Police in Auburn have released images from a security camera in hopes that the public can identify a man believed to have damaged a Black Lives Matter banner outside a downtown church.
The banner with the saying “All Lives Can’t Matter Until Black Lives Matter” had the word "Black" cut out of it at about 3 a.m. on July 6. Video footage from the area shows a white male wearing a dark hooded shirt, black sneakers, and possible grayish colored shorts approaching the banner at that time, and police believe he is the one who caused the damage.
The Auburn Police Department on Friday said it's seeking assistance from the public to identify the person in the footage and any other information as to who was responsible for the damage to the banner.
Anyone with information is asked to contact APD officer Bethany Guzalak at (315) 253-3231 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Callers are reminded that they may remain anonymous.
The banner, in front of Westminster Presbyterian Church at 17 William St., was stolen on July 2 but was found by police and returned within about 30 minutes. The zip ties holding it had been cut and the sign carried off by a man described as inebriated, and the church declined to press charges.
In response to the July 6 damage to the banner, a GoFundMe campaign was launched to show support for the church.
Auburn police: Man found dead on roof of senior facility; no foul play suspected
A man was found dead on the roof of a senior living facility earlier this week, but the Auburn Police Department doesn't believe there is anything suspicious about the death.
Capt. Kyle Platt said Robert Cotler's body was found at the top of the Edward T. Boyle Center, an eight-story senior citizen apartment building in downtown Auburn, by a couple of people working on the building Monday morning. Cotler, 75, was a tenant at the center. Platt said it is thought Cotler died of natural causes while he was on the roof.
"It appears it was a natural-type cause. We don't know why he was up on the roof, just maybe going up and hanging out might have been a common thing for him, we really don't know," Platt said.
He said Cotler was not reported missing at any point and it's not believed the man was on the roof for a long period of time.
According to an obituary for Cotler submitted by Cheche Funeral Home in Auburn, Cotler was "an avid aviator and writer." Born in Jackson Heights, he is survived by a son and two grandchildren.
The investigation is still underway, and police are waiting for final documentation from a medical examiner.
Child seriously injured as van hits power pole in Cayuga County town of Conquest
The Cayuga County Sheriff’s Office said that a child suffered serious injuries when the van she was riding in crashed into a power pole in the town of Conquest.
The sheriff's office said that at about 2:16 p.m. Wednesday, a 2014 Chrysler minivan operated by Kathleen S. Liccion, 39, of Auburn, was traveling northbound on Route 38 when it left the roadway and hit a utility pole at the intersection of Marvin Road.
In a Thursday news release, the sheriff's office said that a 12-year-old girl was transported to Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse via Mercy Flight helicopter with serious but non-life-threatening injuries. Liccion was transported to the same hospital with minor injuries.
Route 38 was closed to traffic between Hard Point Road and Spring Lake Road for more than an hour after the crash as volunteer firefighters, law enforcement officers and ambulance crews assisted the injured pair.
The sheriff's office said that the investigation into the crash was still ongoing Thursday and that anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Josh Blanchard at (315) 253-3902 or leave a tip at cayugacounty.us.
The sheriff's office said that its office was assisted at the scene by New York State Police, Cayuga County 911 Center, Conquest Fire Department, Port Byron Fire Department, Cato Fire Department, Victory Fire Department, Throop Fire Department and Ambulance, AMR Ambulance, Mercy Flight One and the Cayuga County Emergency Management Office.
Good Eats & Sips: New Skaneateles restaurant's menu is portable, picturesque
Good Eats & Sips is even more self-explanatory than it sounds.
The new Skaneateles restaurant, which opened in mid-June at 18 W. Genesee St., offers a menu that's good for your body, your taste buds and even your Instagram page. It includes fruit smoothies, teas and specialty bagel sandwiches, as well as a variety of picturesque bowls filled with grains, greens and noodles.
Marie-Helene Gingras, who owns the business with her husband, chef Don Agate, said they've been looking to open a place of their own for years. They came close to buying a few properties in the area, and considered several different concepts. Good Eats & Sips, then, resulted from the right mix of idea and location.
Being from Montreal, where breakfast restaurants are commonplace, Gingras felt the idea could work in Skaneateles, where they aren't.
She found the perfect location at 18 W. Genesee St. At the time, it was the tasting room of White Birch Vineyards, which she managed. In the heart of the village, its mix of food and vehicle traffic made the idea of a breakfast restaurant feasible, so she and Agate leapt at the chance to take over the location.
But they wanted to open more than just a breakfast restaurant.
"We wanted to capture the breakfast crowd, but we also wanted to offer them options that they wouldn't feel bad about themselves after eating," Gingras said. "Lighter options that are also rewarding, that fill you up but in a way that keeps you moving."
They decided to center the menu around bowls due to their simplicity and portability — and the latter has become all too important during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gingras said. The bowls are prepared by Agate, a Cortland native and chef who's worked at The Krebs, The Springside Inn and more locally, as well as restaurants in New York City, Texas and Montreal. He gives the bowls and other items at Good Eats & Sips a visual appeal, Gingras said, their color and composition remaining photogenic even when the restaurant is overwhelmed by customers.
That aspect of the menu has been played up by CinSyr, a Syracuse-based creative group that worked with Good Eats & Sips on its branding. For instance, every circle in "good" is filled with top-down images of the restaurant's bowls in the logo on its website, goodskan.com. And A&M Graphics, of Auburn, printed the group's artwork for display on the walls.
Gingras said renovating the former tasting room into Good Eats & Sips was a simple process, requiring little more than some painting, the removal of a wine shelf and the installation of a bench. Otherwise, the polygonal archways and other visual details of the former tasting room were "perfect" for the concept of a breakfast restaurant, she continued.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been more of a complication in the restaurant's opening. It was originally planned for Memorial Day weekend, Gingras said. And the state's reopening guidance has limited Good Eats & Sips to 50% of its capacity and required a list of sanitation measures for its staff of 10 to follow. But she and Agate have adapted by removing menu items that weren't as portable as the bowls, as well as creating an easy takeout system that leaves items on a shelf labeled with the letters of the customer's last name.
Despite the pandemic, the response to Good Eats & Sips has been great, Gingras said, and she and Agate are grateful for that. Eventually, she'd like to explore later hours for the 7 a.m.-5 p.m. restaurant. She also hopes to be able to franchise it one day — if she and Agate can make the idea work in more locations.
"I would like to find other villages that need this," she said. "They all have their pizza shops, but they don't have this."
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See which New York state employers received Paycheck Protection Program loans over $150k
Search using keywords such as a company's name or city/town to see businesses in the Cayuga County-area that received money from the Paycheck Protection Program meant to keep Americans employed during the pandemic. The program has been popular but also controversial.
The Paycheck Protection Program is the centerpiece of the federal government’s plan to rescue an economy devastated by shutdowns and uncertainty. The program, which helps smaller businesses stay open and keep Americans employed during the pandemic, has been both popular and controversial.
Demand was so great that a first infusion of $349 billion ran out in just two weeks. Many businesses couldn’t navigate the application process rapidly enough to get one of those first loans before funding dried up. Meanwhile, several hundred companies traded on stock exchanges -- hardly the image of a small business -- received loans maxing out at $10 million each, causing a public backlash and leading dozens to return the money.
And the public may never know the identity of more than 85% of the nearly 5 million beneficiaries to date because the administration has refused to release details on loans under $150,000 -- the vast majority of borrowers. That secrecy spurred an open-records lawsuit by a group of news organizations, including The Associated Press.
Fourth of July fire destroys Weedsport home
A Fourth of July barbecue led to an accidental house fire in Weedsport Saturday evening.
The family residing in the home at 2129 Compton Road was in the garage around 7:30 p.m. when they noticed flames coming from the other side of the house, Weedsport Fire Department Chief David James said.
The fire started with an outdoor grill close to the home's outer shingles, which were made of cedar and dry from the hot weather. James said the flames quickly spread to the second floor and were coming out of the windows when firefighters arrived on the scene.
Multiple departments, including Port Byron, Throop, Jordan and Auburn, worked to extinguish the fire by about 8:30 p.m. There were no injuries, and the family's pets were saved. The structure itself is likely a total loss, however, James said.
The new pre-K to fifth-grade school, called St. Albert the Great Academy, is scheduled to open Sept. 9. The Committee for the Continuation of Catholic Education, the local group developing the new institution, emailed St. Joseph parents on the same day last November when the closure was announced by the Catholic Diocese of Rochester. The diocese closed St. Joseph in June due to declining enrollment and financial issues.
Committee member Erin Burroughs said plenty of work has been done to get the building, housed at the former SS. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic School at 134 Washington St., ready for the fall. Ann Fallon, a teacher at Tyburn Academy, a Catholic-based school in Auburn for students in sixth through 12th grade that also operates independently of the diocese, has been brought on as the new school's interim administrator until a principal is hired. Fallon is not expected to have a staff position once a principal comes in, Burroughs said.
The academy anticipates 60 to 70 students and is on target to meet its enrollment goal. Burroughs said the school aims to have around 10 to 15 students per class. Each class will have a cap on the number of students and every class is currently expected to hold a grade. If students of a certain grade exceed the cap, Burroughs said, they would be placed on a wait list. She added that smaller classes will be helpful for working on safety procedures and concerns about maintaining social distancing to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
"One of the things that I think St. Albert's will offer naturally that many public schools are going to have to try to achieve this year is a small class size and a larger classroom, and that's actually where we have been aiming for from the beginning," Burroughs said. "So the whole idea of social distancing is going to be relatively easy in the space that we have, and that's honestly what we were kind of aiming for to be begin with before the pandemic started. Realistically, we were planning on a small school to start with."
The majority of the teaching staff has experience to range from classroom education to quickly transition to distance learning, Burroughs said, since the teachers include former educators from St. Joseph and other districts.
St. Albert personnel anticipate possibly returning to distance learning, which every school in the state, including the public districts in the Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES, had to adapt to as campuses closed due to the outbreak last semester. Burroughs said plans for distance learning and in-person education are being developed, but the school will follow state and county health and safety guidelines.
The academy will ensure teachers have proper distance learning training over the summer, the proper technology will be available and teachers and staff alike will know how to use it.
"We hope it's 'just in case.' Really, the goal for our school is to have full-time in-person schedule, which may be a big distinguisher between us and the public schools just because of the class sizes," Burroughs said. "But we hope that all of the registered students are able to come to our school every single day."
Burroughs said the smaller classes would allow instructors to get to know students even through distance learning and offer more personalized service. She said the school is preparing to educate children in a classroom as well, with face masks, proper disinfection and more.
"Ultimately we want our kids safe in a healthy way, safe in a mentally healthy way, safe progressing in their academics," she said, "so we're really going to be weighing all those things."
Students do not have to be Catholic to attend the academy. Mary Ligowski, an administrative assistant, said she is excited to welcome families and the institution will continue the heritage of Catholic education in Auburn.
"We're looking forward to welcoming them and establishing a community within an already established, beautiful heritage here in Auburn, she said.
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Route 38 reopens after motor vehicle crash in Conquest
A motor vehicle accident in the town of Conquest Wednesday afternoon resulted in injuries and the closure of state Route 38 for more than an hour.
Conquest, Port Byron, Cato Fire, AMR Ambulance and Throop Ambulance responded to a report of a vehicle that crashed into a utility pole at Marvin Road and Route 38 at about 2:30 p.m.
Occupants of the vehicle had to be extricated and a Medivac helicopter was called in to transfer at least one injured person to a hospital.
Both the northbound and southbound lanes of Route 38 between Hard Point Road and Spring Lake Road were closed because of the crash at 2:50 p.m. The road reopened at about 4 p.m. according to an alert from the state Department of Transportation.
Additional information was not available at press time.
'Respect and honor': Vietnam veterans acknowledged as riders pass through Auburn
AUBURN — For Danny Baker, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway of Valor Tribute Ride is not a simple joy ride. It's a tribute to fallen heroes.
The 12th annual event featured riders on motorcycles and other vehicles — many of them Vietnam War veterans — cutting through a 100-mile trek from Owego to the American Legion in Hannibal along Route 38, named the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway of Valor. The riders made their way into Auburn Saturday afternoon, where a small but vocal group cheered and waved flags as the ride went by Memorial City Hall.
The ride was sponsored by Vietnam Veterans of America Chapters 377, 480 and Chapter 704, and Blue Knights Chapter 17. Baker, a Vietnam veteran and a former officer with the Ithaca Police Department, co-created the event with his brother Harvey Baker and others as a way to acknowledge two upstate New York men who died in the war.
Robert Stryker, born in Auburn, and Terrence Graves, who grew up in Groton, both posthumously received the Medal of Honor for "saving their fellow men and dying in the process" in Vietnam, Baker said. Baker, a founding member of the chapter 33 group and a member of the Blue Knights Chapter 17, said that he knew Graves while growing up.
"The ride is to honor them," Baker said.
The event is also meant to generate awareness to "the fighting spirit of the Vietnam veteran and how much they sacrificed," Baker said, and to draw attention to why Route 38 has the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway of Valor name. The route received the name in 2009 due in large part to the work of veteran Lauren Dates. That year, before the route was renamed, Dates said he believed having two signs spotlighting the route's destination as a Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway, one on each end of the 96-mile distance from Owego to Sterling, would strengthen awareness of the war and the veterans who fought in it.
"If you've ever been at war and you've lost people and you were in combat, it would certainly mean everything to you," Baker said.
The passion of the people who cheered for the riders in Auburn Saturday was palpable. The gathering of around 15 people included Mayor Mike Quill, who is U.S. Marine Corps veteran. Color guard members of the veterans chapter 704 group stood on the steps of city hall with flags. Horns, cheers and more blasted through the air, and mile-wide smiles could be spotted on several of the riders who zoomed past.
At one point, Vietnam veteran Jim Zmarthie saluted with one arm as he held up an American flag with the other. Maureen Kierst raised a flag honoring prisoners of war and those killed in action, which she said was to acknowledge Robert Coapman, a Vietnam veteran and Kierst's significant other for 28 years who died four years ago from cancer. Kierst became visibly emotional after most of the riders went by, and hugged Zmarthie. Zmarthie, Kierst and fellow onlookers Mary Anne Chalupnicki and Suzanne Sierson said they wanted to have seen more people there to greet the riders.
Kierst said she was deeply moved by the event and she was happy to be there. She added that she felt the riders were acknowledging veterans and all of those who have been involved in combat.