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4 Novels by the editor

Island Nights

Excerpt here.

The Islander

The entire novel:

Prelude-Chapter 4

Chapters 5-13

Chapters 14-21

Chapters 22-29

Chapters 30-36

Chapters 37-44.

Cabins in the Mist

Excerpt here

The Maiden of Mackinac

Excerpts Maiden

and here and here. 







Recent Headline Stories

From left: Franzese Real Estate's Shawna Carey (Owner/Manager), Ken Wilson (Salesperson) and John Franzese (Owner) at the event celebrating Wilson joining the firm.


Celebration held at Franzese Real Estate

A celebration marking the addition last month of veteran real estate salesperson Ken Wilson to the staff of Franzese Real Estate was held Tuesday morning, April 13 at the firm's offices at 607 N. Franklin St., Watkins Glen. The event -- a surprise to Wilson -- was spearheaded by his friend Junior Specchio, whose auto sales business is located across the street. More than 30 people attended, including local notables such as Sheriff Bill Yessman, Undersheriff Breck Spaulding, Glenda Gephart, Brian Eslinger, E.C. Cooper Inc.'s Mike Stamp and Doug Hagin, and Seneca Santa's Peggy Scott. Wilson -- who has worked for 25 years as a licensed real estate salesperson, including the past 11 years for Keller Williams, the nation's largest such brokerage -- said that now it is "nice to be associated with a family-owned business in Watkins Glen." Franzese Real Estate opened last June.

Photo: John Franzese chats with Kate LaMoreaux, one of the people at the celebration.


State allows 3-foot distancing in classrooms

New York State has announced new guidance regarding classroom distancing, permitting students to sit within three feet of each other -- down from six feet -- as long as other safety protocols are followed and dependent on the rate of COVID-19 transmission in a given area. The ruling corresponds with that issued recently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Superintendents Chris Wood (Odessa-Montour) and Greg Kelahan (Watkins Glen) said they would both need time to study the details of the guidance before determining its impact, although Keahan added: "Certainly any step forward to bring more students to school safely is welcome."

Photo: Superintendent Greg Kelahan

A welcome view

Watkins Glen photographer Liz Fraboni sent us this springtime view of a pussy willow snapped during one of her trips around the area. She said she thought it was "nice to see something beautiful" in this era of Covid-19.


Glen graduation date change draws some fire

The Watkins Glen School Board fields complaints from parents upset with the district's decision to move graduation from June 19 -- Juneteenth -- to June 26. Schools.

Photo: Superintendent Greg Kelahan


Convicted killer Horein denied parole again

Joshua Horein (pictured at right), who killed Watkins Glen classmate Amber Brockway in 2000, has been denied parole for the third time by the New York State Parole Board after a hearing granted due to an administrative oversight. Horein, 36, pleaded guilty in 2001 to 2nd Degree Murder in the bludgeoning death of 15-year-old Brockway. He is serving a sentence of 20 years to life. He wasn't due for another hearing until 2022, but was granted this one because of procedural issues.


Reed says he won't run for any office in 2022

Congressman Tom Reed, in the wake of an allegation of sexual misconduct on a trip to Minnesota four years ago, announces he will not seek re-election or run for any office in 2022. Government.

Photo: Congressman Tom Reed


A victim of the times

The decision by the Tompkins Trust Company to close its Odessa branch bank (left) has people upset -- and the firm's CEO talking. A look at reactions. Closing.


Cayuga Health reflects on the "Year of COVID"

Cayuga Health devotes its Winter issue of CH Magazine to look back on all that it has accomplished since the pandemic began. Business.


Rotary honors Odessa-Montour's Malnoske, Watkins' Brubaker as Students of the Month

Odessa-Montour High School senior Emma Malnoske and Watkins Glen High School senior Maria Brubaker were honored on March 25 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its Students of the Month for March.

Malnoske was introduced during Rotary's Zoom meeting by teacher Holly Campbell, who described her as "kind, compassionate and exceptionally hard-working," adding: "She has performed in several musicals, having just starred in 'The Wizard of Oz' as Aunt Em/Glinda. She's a stellar student with plans to pursue political science in college, with the ultimate goal of working in politics." Malnoske told Rotarians she plans to attend college at either SUNY Geneseo or Cazenoiva.

Brubaker was introduced by teacher Sam Brubaker, who described her as a "model student who sets goals" and "accomplishes what she sets." She has had lead roles in several musicals at the school, has earned high scores at NYSSMA musical competitions, and was the Section IV, Class C diving champion last year. A member of National Honor Society and the Senior Class treasurer, she has been accepted to attend Bucknell University

Photos in text: O-M's Emma Malnoske (top) and Watkins Glen's Maria Brubaker.

Firefighters at the scene of the house fire late Tuesday night on Cotton-Hanlon Road.


Firefighters respond to late-night Montour fire

Firefighters from Montour Falls, Watkins Glen, Odessa, Burdett and Beaver Dams, along with Schuyler Ambulance, answered a fire call at about 11 p.m. March 23rd at 4257 Cotton-Hanlon Road, Montour Falls. Water was brought in by tanker trucks as firefighters fought what appeared from the roadway to be smoke and some flames in the rafters of the house, which is set back about 100 yards from the road. No further information was available.

Photo in text: Water was delivered by tanker truck. It was pumped from the road to the house.


Pizza-box messaging: Keep youth alcohol free

SCCUDD partners with area businesses in holding a"Pizza Box Sticker Shock" event. Features.

Vincent Scuteri of Scuteri's Cannoli Connection, one of the participating businesses.

Sign on the front of the Odessa branch bank of the Tompkins Trust Company, on Main Street in Odessa.


Mayor decries planned Odessa bank closing

The Tompkins Trust Company plans to close its Odessa bank branch on June 18, "a bad move" in the opinion of Odessa Mayor Gerry Messmer, who adds: "This is really another hit that Main Street Odessa cannot afford." Business.

What's your opinion on the closing? Let us know.
Mail your thoughts here.


Limited visitation approved at Seneca View

Schuyler Hospital has resumed visitation -- on a limited basis -- to Seneca View Skilled Nursing Facility following a nearly year-long shutdown aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. “We are pleased that we are able to allow limited visitation to our Seneca View residents again,” said Rebecca Gould (pictured), President of Schuyler Hospital. “It has been very difficult for them to endure this shutdown without seeing family and loved ones. We hope this will bring comfort and happiness to them and their families.” Visitation.


COVID relief grant funds available in Schuyler

Grant funds of up to $4,000 for qualifying small businesses and non-profits located in Schuyler County are available due to a Federal Home Loan Bank of New York grant to Alternatives Federal Credit Union. Funds may be used for reasonable and necessary expenses incurred or to be incurred as a direct result of COVID-19. Business.


Palmesano calls on Governor to step down

Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,C,I-Corning) is calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign. “The number of disturbing scandals surrounding Gov. Cuomo are very serious, can't be ignored, and must be addressed," Palmesano said in a statement. "From the nursing home tragedy cover-up to the ever-growing number of sexual harassment allegations, there is no question, this has become a major distraction in Albany which has severely compromised the governor's ability to govern our state. We have so many important issues impacting New Yorkers that need our immediate attention and action, now. For the good of the Office of Governor and for the good of our state, the governor should resign immediately.”

Photo: Assemblyman Phil Palmesano

Schumer, Gillibrand call for Cuomo resignation. Govt.


Lions Clubs donate $10K to Schuyler Hospital

Schuyler Hospital receives a $10,000 donation from the Watkins-Montour, Hector, and Ovid Lions Clubs and the Lions Foundation for the purchase of a diabetic eye camera, a RetinaVue 700, for Primary Care. Features.

Demolition under way at old treatment plant

Demolition of the former sewage treatment plant along the south shore of Seneca Lake in Watkins Glen has begun, with completion expected by the end of March. Salvage of surplus equipment has been completed, with demolition of the administration and lab building leaving rubble (pictured above). The property will eventually be leveled, awaiting an as-yet undetermined developer leasing long-term from the village. The plant was outmoded, and replaced last year by the new wastewater treatment complex shared with Montour Falls along the canal.


NPS seeks public input on Finger Lakes heritage study

The National Park Service is inviting public input on a study to determine the feasibility of designating the Finger Lakes region of New York State as a national heritage area. The 90-day comment period extends to June 1. Government.


Pedestrian bridge put in place over canal

A walkng bridge linking the Catharine Valley Trail Extension in Montour Falls to the village's Marina Park was installed by a crane March 3rd, completing a project that began in 2016. Features.

Photo at right: The bridge needs to be secured and finishing touches applied before walkers are allowed on it.


Messmer, Tomassi, Tuttle win seats in Odessa

Gerry Messmer (pictured at right) was re-elected Mayor of Odessa in the village election March 16. Messmer, running unopposed, received 24 ballots in voting at the Municipal Building.

Incumbent trustee Aubrey Tomassi was re-elected with 22 votes, while Robert Tuttle Jr. won the other available trustee seat with 14 write-in votes, succeeding Anne Centurelli, who did not seek another term.

Each of the seats carries a two-year term.


Walter, Mangus, Arcangeli win seats in Burdett

Dale Walter (pictured at right) was re-elected Mayor of Burdett in the village election March 16. Walter, running unopposed, received 20 votes.

Incumbent trustees Judith Mangus and Linda Arcangeli were re-elected with 23 and 22 votes, respectively.

Each of the seats carries a two-year term.


20 years ago: When O-M girls won a state hoops title

This month -- March 2021 -- marks two decades since the Odessa-Montour High School girls varsity basketball team won the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class D championship. Here is a look back. Anniversary.

Left: Travis Long, Senior Project Engineer with JSA Companies, outlined the planned water system project in Odessa. Right: Mayor Gerry Messmer brieflly shed his mask to address the dozen residents on hand.


Odessa water project outlined for residents

A planned upgrade of the Village of Odessa's water system was outlined March 15 by an engineer from JHA Companies of Montrose, Pa., to about a dozen residents attending a Village Board meeting at the Odessa Municipal Building. Water quality has long been an issue in a system that still has about 50 percent of the water pipes first installed in 1938. The project would, as envisioned, include some new pipes, new loops, and a new treatment system in a new building housing state-of-the-art equipment and providing office, meeting and heated-garage space for the village's Department of Public Works. With the grant-funded preliminary plan created by JHA, another grant will be sought from USDA-Rural Development. Approval would be followed by design and permit work, bids and construction. The cost could be as high as $1.4 million, but no increase is expected in the village's water rates.

Photo in text: Part of a power-point presentation at the Village Board meeting.


Palmesano criticizes Cuomo prison actions

Assemblyman Phil Palmesano presents a column: "Governor Cuomo's prison closures and policies are creating a dangerous 'power keg' environment inside New York State's correctional facilities."

Photo: Phil Palmesano


O'Mara rips 'Dem Scam' on Cuomo powers

State Senator Tom O'Mara blasts the Democrat supermajorities in the Senate and Assembly for approving legislation that he and other Republicans -- including Assemblyman Phil Palmesano -- say will keep Governor Andrew Cuomo's COVID-19 powers in place indefinitely. Government.

Photo: State Senator Tom O'Mara


Legislature appoints Jaynes to succeed Harp

The Schuyler County Legislature, meeting in special session March 17, appointed Laurence Jaynes of Burdett to fill the vacancy on the Legislature created by the resignation Feb. 28 of Van Harp, a Republican who had represented District 2. Jaynes, a member of the Burdett Village Board, was endorsed by the Schuyler County Republican Committee. The vote on Jaynes was 6-1 in favor, with the Legislature's lone Democrat, Michael Lausell, opposed. Jaynes' appointment is through Dec. 31, the remainder of Harp's term. Election for the next four-year term occurs in November. Harp -- a member of the Legislature for seven years and a retired FBI Agent and security consultant who won re-election in 2017 by a single vote over Joseph Campbell -- did not announce the reason for his resignation.

Photo: Van A. Harp (File photo)

Cayuga Health to resume limited visitation at Schuyler Hospital, Cayuga Medical Center. Business.


D'Alleva to succeed Kelahan as superintendent

High School Principal Kai D'Alleva (right) will succeed the retiring Gregory Kelahan as Superintendent of the Watkins Glen School District on Sept. 1. The School Board approved his contract in a unanimous vote at its meeting March 15. Kelahan said he will remain as Superintendent through August, helping D'Alleva transition into the job over the summer. Kelahan has been Superintendent for four years. D'Alleva, who taught Social Studies at Watkins Glen starting in 2006, and served as an elementary school principal in the Spencer-Van Etten School District from 2011-2013, was principal of the Watkins Glen Middle School in its final year, 2013-14, and has been the high school principal at Watkins Glen since then. His new contract will extend to 2025.


CCE Schuyler welcomes Executive Director

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schuyler County has a new Executive Director, Nathan Scott -- formerly Executive Director of the Thrive Education Center, a community-based education program located outside Ithaca. He succeeds Phil Cherry, who retired. People.

Photo: Nathan Scott (Photo provided)


New business's focus: accounting, consulting

A recently opened business in Montour Falls -- STATEMENTS Accounting and Consulting Services, run by former Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Rebekah Carroll -- is expanding and has moved into the historic Montour House. Business.

Photo: Rebekah Carroll (Photo provided)


O-M's Adams honored as Student of Month

The Watkins-Montour Rotary Club on Feb. 25th honored Odessa-Montour High School senior Megan Adams as its O-M Student of the Month. Adams, first in her class academically, is a student intern in a 4th grade class and a member of the varsity swim team and the Glen Gators. She plans to attend a SUNY University, majoring in Education.

Left: Megan Adams

Note: Rotary's Student of the Month program, shelved during the pandemic, was reinstated Feb. 18, when Watkins Glen senior Kayla Palmer was honored. Palmer, a standout student, has volunteered at the Elementary School and at church dinners, made masks for the hospital, and helped raise funds for the fight against cancer. She wants to be a cardiologist. She has been accepted at the Univ. of Buffalo and is hoping for other acceptance letters.


Sheriff's candidate Spaulding, if he wins, will appoint Matthew Maloney as his Undersheriff

Schuyler County Sheriff's Lieutenant Matthew Maloney will become Undersheriff if Breck Spaulding is elected Sheriff to succeed the retiring William Yessman, Spaulding has announced. Maloney has been with the Sheriff's Office for more than 22 years. People.

Photo: Matthew Maloney (Photo provided)


Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards unveils new podcast

The Hector-based winery releases Great Times Behind the Wines, hosted by Shannon Hazlitt Harts, daughter of Hazlitt's Co-CEO and owner, Doug Hazlitt. It looks at the people, methods and stories that have helped make the Hazlitt winery a success. Business.

Gravel truck accident in Watkins

The incident occurred Feb. 17 at Milliken's Corner in Watkins Glen, with the vehicle, shown above on its side, coming to rest near the front entrance to Landon's Pub & Pizza. For more photos and information, see Features. (Photo by Jenny Ambrose)


Kelahan plans to step down as superintendent

Greg Kelahan (right), now in his fourth year as Superintendent of the Watkins Glen School District, says he will retire as soon as the School Board finds a replacement and a "smooth transition" occurs -- "hopefully by September 1st." Kelahan, who will be 56 in June, has spent 32 years in education. He said he gave some thought to retiring last year, but decided he needed to stay on as the pandemic was gaining steam. He said he and his wife will remain in Watkins Glen, where they have purchased a home. Kelahan said he is looking forward "to the next chapter in my life," although he hasn't decided what that might entail.


Schuyler update: Vaccine supply still limited

"I know everyone is anxious to get vaccinated as soon as possible," says Schuyler County Public Health Director Deborah Minor, "but I ask that you please be patient. Vaccination locations are adding clinics and opening registration as soon as they have doses available. Update.


Rumsey to run for Sheriff; primary ahead

Schuyler County Sheriff's Investigator Kevin Rumsey is seeking the Republican nomination for Sheriff to succeed Bill Yessman, who will retire from the post at year's end. That sets up a GOP primary against Undersheriff Breck Spaulding, who threw his hat in the ring last month. Govt.

Left: Kevin Rumsey


Sports moves backed; Brubaker to step down

The Watkins Glen School Board approves joint Glen-O-M football and wrestling teams; Board President Gloria Brubaker to step down June 30. Schools.

Left: Superintendent Greg Kelahan at Monday's meeting.

A winter scene in Montour Falls

This placid view of Shequagah Falls in Montour Falls was snapped Feb. 4 by area photographer Mark Taylor. "It was such a beautiful morning, so I grabbed my 20 millimeter lens and tripod," Taylor said.


2 die in Burdett house fire; cause being probed

A house fire overnight Feb. 8 in Burdett, on Lake Avenue, took the lives of two occupants, identified by State Police as Kathy Winslow, in her late 60s, and Tim Bond, a man in his early 70s who had mobility issues. The fire broke out about 2:20 a.m. Monday after a neighbor heard an explosion. Firefighters from Burdett, Hector, Watkins Glen and Montour Falls responded. The single-family structure was deemed a total loss. State fire investigators were called to the scene to determine the cause of the blaze.


Emerging Workforce program seeks enrollees

The CSS (Chemung Schuyler Steuben) Emerging Workforce Program is looking for eligible out-of-school youths ages 16-24 who are interested in obtaining additional skills or education needed to obtain long-term employment. Business.


Schuyler Hospital capital project completed

Schuyler Hospital and Cayuga Health officials held a virtual ribbon cutting Monday announcing the opening of the new Convenient Care and Primary Care center at the hospital -- the culmination of a nearly $11 million capital improvement project. Features.


What new rental law means for Southern Tier

A joint column from Congressman Tom Reed, State Senator Tom O'Mara and Assemblymen Phil Palmesano and Chris Friend explains the rental law recently passed in Albany -- cautioning that it has not canceled rent. Government.

Photo: Congressman Tom Reed

The beauty of the day was captured on a seasonal road on Connecticut Hill by Watkins Glen photographer Liz Fraboni.


A pretty day to explore Connecticut Hill roads

Watkins Glen's Tony and Liz Fraboni drove along seasonal roads on Connecticut Hill on Saturday, Jan. 30, with Liz snapping photos of the beautiful landscape along the way. Two of those photos are presented here.

Photo: The shadow pattern across a seasonal road on Connecticut Hill was captured by Liz Fraboni.


Public Health OKs high-risk sports in Schuyler

Schuyler County Public Health granted approval Thursday for the county's high schools to move ahead with high-risk interscholastic sports, effective Feb. 1. These sports include basketball, wrestling and volleyball. The move follows similar approval in Chemung, Steuben, Tioga and Tompkins counties. Sports.


O'Mara: "Time for truth from Governor Cuomo"

State Senator Tom O'Mara reacts to a report from Attorney General Letitia James that says the Cuomo administration has undercounted Covid-19 nursing home deaths by as much as 50 percent. He and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano want subpoenas and some answers. Government.

Photo: State Senator Tom O'Mara


Check in memory of Dr. Blanche Borzell presented to Friends of Bequia Hospital

Kate LaMoreaux, Senior Warden of St. James’ Episcopal Church in Watkins Glen, presented $1,000 on Jan. 27 from the church to the Friends of Bequia Hospital to continue to honor the memory of Dr. Blanche A. Borzell, a long-time Watkins Glen physician who died in 2019. Bequia is part of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean. It is an island visited annually by LaMoreaux, who has helped lead an ongoing mission by St. James' to help the small hospital since the passing of Borzell. People.

Photo: Check presentation on January 27 to the Friends of Bequia Hospital. (Photo provided)

Left: Schuyler County Sheriff William Yessman.
Right: Undersheriff Breck Spaulding.


Sheriff Yessman to retire at end of year; backs run by Undersheriff Spaulding for the position

Schuyler County Sheriff William Yessman said on Jan. 25 that he will not seek re-election to a fifth term, instead retiring at the end of 2021. He endorsed his Undersheriff, Breck Spaulding, as the latter announced his candidacy for the four-year post. Spaulding -- now in his 16th year as Undersheriff --said he will seek both the Republican and Conservative nods. Yessman said he plans to spend more time with family and probably do some volunteer work in retirement. Government.

Photo in text: From left: Former Sheriff Michael Maloney, current Sheriff William Yessman and Undersheriff Breck Spaulding at press conference Monday in the Human Services Complex in Montour Falls.


2 of Schuyler's leading lights in the pandemic

In a year that above most cried out for calm, efficient leadership, Schuyler County was blessed with its share of people providing exactly that -- among them Odessa-Montour School District Superintendent Chris Wood and Schuyler Hospital President and Chief Financial Officer Rebecca Gould. We look at the job the two of them have done in this year of the pandemic. Honorees.

Photos: O-M's Chris Wood; Schuyler Hospital's Rebecca Gould


When a Senatorial candidate stopped in Glen

More than 20 years ago, Republican Rick Lazio (right) -- seeking the U.S. Senate seat ultimately won by Democrat Hillary Clinton -- stopped in Watkins Glen the day after securing the GOP nomination. Here, The Odessa File editor -- having unearthed his unpublished account of that day -- dusts off the story's cobwebs and presents it here. Blast from the past.


One injured in Town of Montour accident

A one-vehicle accident at 1:50 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 24th on County Road 8 near Magar Road in the Town of Montour resulted in injuries to the driver, who was flown by Guthrie Air to an area hospital. The Schuyler County Sheriff's office said Nathan Vanamburg, 18, was southbound in a 2014 Jeep Compass when the vehicle left the road and struck a tree. Speed, investigators said, "is believed to be a contributing factor." The Montour Falls Fire Department and Schuyler Ambulance treated him at the scene.


Lawmakers hail NY move to reinstate sports

State legislators from around the region (at right: State Senator Tom O'Mara) cheer the state's decision to allow local health officials to make the call on starting up high school sports seasons beginning February 1. Sports include the previously suspended basketball, wrestling, volleyball and competitive cheerleading. Sports.

O'Mara to Cuomo: Extend curfew for Bills game. Sports.


O'Mara, Palmesano rip Cuomo's budget plan

State Senator Tom O'Mara and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (right) criticize Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposed 2021-22 state budget, announced Jan. 19. They see it as a high-deficit, high-spending plan that will leave future generations of already overburdened New Yorkers holding the bill and paying even higher taxes. Govt.

Photo: Assemblyman Phil Palmesano.


Glen School Board OKs hoops conditioning

The Watkins Glen School Board has given the go-ahead to a plan prepared by Athletic Director Rod Weeden that offers basketball conditioning drills in the Field House gym, to start as soon as possible. Schools.

Photo: Superintendent Greg Kelahan


Watkins Glen man dies in one-vehicle accident

State Troopers are investigating a fatal crash on Middle Road in the Town of Veteran early Saturday morning that took the life of a Watkins Glen man, Thomas Rockwell, 26. Police said Rockwell's northbound pickup truck left the road and struck a tree at about 4:30 a.m. Rockwell, the lone occupant, was pronounced dead at the scene. The cause of the accident is under iinvestigation.


Reed signs letter with 3 Senators, 33 other Reps urging President to denounce violence

Representative Tom Reed (R-Corning) signed a bicameral letter Wednesday with three Senators and 33 other members of Congress urging President Trump to denounce violence and speak out against further attacks on democratic institutions. Government.

Photo: Congressman Tom Reed

Reed opposes impeachment. Column.
Reed co-sponsors Censure Resolution. Government.

United Way of Schuyler County Executive Director Peggy Scott receives a check from the Schuyler County Deputy Sheriff's Association. From left, Kyle Benjamin (Association vice president), Kevin Rumsey (president), Scott, and Sheriff Bill Yessman (United Way executive board member). (Provided)


Deputy Sheriff's unit donates to UWay, SOS

The Schuyler County Deputy Sheriff's Association has donated $5,000 each to the Spirit of Schuyler and the United Way of Schuyler County. The funds come from the Association's annual fund-raising campaign and other donations received during the year.

SOS spokesman Tony Vickio said the donation "will benefit needy residents in our county. We are so fortunate to have the Sheriff's Department that we do."

Added United Way Executive Director Peggy Scott: "We can't thank the Deputy Sheriff's Association enough for this wonderfully generous donation. The $5,000 will be divided among the 21 agencies that United Way helps support and will go toward the 2020 campaign goal of $123,000."

Photo in text: From left, the Deputy Sheriff's Association's Kyle Benjamin and Kevin Rumsey, and SOS's Tony Vickio.


Blowers reappointed as Legislature chairman

Carl Blowers was reappointed to the chairmanship of the Schuyler County Legislture when the legislators met virtually Jan. 6 for their annual organizational meeting. The Zoom session saw Blowers nominated by Legislator Mark Rondinaro and seconded by Van Harp. There were no other nominations, and the vote was unanimous.

The board also heard from Public Health Director Deb Minor, who reported on the early stages of Moderna vaccine distribution in the county -- a state-mandated process from which Public Health "can't deviate," she said. Distribution is currently in Phase 1A, which is expected to continue through January. It includes a lengthy list of high-risk workers and individuals.

Photo in text: Chairman Carl Blowers during Zoom session.


Elks donate to Health Foundation, Ambulance

The Schuyler Health Foundation and Schuyler Ambulance received grant checks from the Watkins Glen Elks Lodge #1546 Tuesday afternoon in presentations held in front of Schuyler Hospital. Features.

The Glen Lake Apartments complex on Second Street.


Building projects moving forward ...

The new Glen Lake Apartments complex on Second Street and the $5 million grant-driven Clute Park redevelopment project are taking shape in Watkins Glen. The Clute park landscape is dominated by the framework of a planned 6,000-square-foot events facility. The project will also include a 1,500-square-foot bathhouse, outside showers, and a 10,000-square-foot seasonal ice rink. Target date for completion is early June.

The Glen Lake complex, nearing completion, offers 34 apartments -- two on the ground floor and 16 each on the second and third floors -- and a 7,300-square-foot child-care facility. Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services has partnered with the Watkins Glen Housing Authority on the facility, which INHS says "will be affordable to renters earning between 30% and 70% of the Area Median Income."

The framework of the events facility at Clute Park.


Cotton-Hanlon, Inc. is celebrating 100 years

Cotton-Hanlon, Inc. -- a forest products company with a long and fruitful history in the Odessa-Cayuta area -- is marking 100 years in business since the 1921 partnership between H.A. Hanlon and B.J. Cotton. The company takes a look back at that history on the Forum.


Above Montour Falls: a ring around the moon

The photo at right -- with a vivid ring of light showing around the moon -- was snapped at about 10:30 p.m. on Dec. 30 by Sarah Agan in Montour Falls. The unusual sight was captured with her cell phone camera. While stunning enough, the photo "does no justice," said Agan. "It was spectacular."


Photo by Sarah Agan


Glen Copack is coming off a challenging year

Glen Copack Food Manufacturing, part of The Arc of Chemung-Schuyler’s Business Services Division, is looking back on a challenging yet productive 2020. Glen Copack has implemented some new procedures as it looks ahead to 2021, continuing to offer employment and vocational training for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Business


Look for SCCUDD message on pizza boxes

The Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking and Drugs (SCCUDD) has undertaken a project called “Pizza Box Sticker Shock.” It consists of youth-designed substance abuse prevention stickers placed on pizza boxes in local restaurants and convenience stores. Features.

Firefighters gather near the rear of the house in Odessa.


Firefighters extinguish flames in Odessa home

Firefighters were called out at 10:55 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 2 in Odessa to the report of smoke in a cellar at 106 Church Street. Odessa Fire Chief John Jelliff said there "a small fire in the residence" and that it "was extinguished by Odessa firefighters." Also responding were fire departments from Montour Falls, Watkins Glen, Mecklenberg and Newfield, along with Schuyler Ambulance. "All mutual aid was cancelled once the fire was determined to be out," Jelliff said, adding: "The residence sustained approximately $3,000 in damage," but was "still habitable." The cause of the fire was undetermined.

Odessa Fire Chief John Jelliff (second from left, hand raised) outlines Thursday morning's Seneca Santa delivery plan for fire department members. He cautioned in particular about icy driveways during the delivery process. "I don't want anyone injured," he said.


Seneca Santa gifts delivered by firefighters

Fire Departments around Schuyler County, as they do annually, delivered bags of gifts Thursday to families that had applied to Seneca Santa -- a non-profit program that has helped families in need at Christmas-time for more than 80 years. Each fire department picked up its share of the gifts -- donated by area residents and businesses, and purchased by Seneca Santa -- at the First Presbyterian Church in Watkins Glen, where the distribution is organized each Christmas season. More than 100 families were on Seneca Santa's list this year, with more than 250 recipients -- children ages 2-12. The program has been run for 30 years by Peggy Scott of Burdett.


2 Watkins students added to weightlifting hall

Two Watkins Glen High School powerlifters -- 8th grader Nick D'Alleva and 9th grader Thomas Field -- have been added to the Senecas Weightlifting Hall of Fame, whose members' names are displayed on a plaque in the WGHS weight room. The Hall was initiated in 2007 by weightlifting coach Ralph Diliberto, who has selected 25 members over the years. The first was Jeff Meehan, and all but one have been WGHS students -- the exception being Odessa-Montour's Dominick Fazzary. Diliberto said he selects inductees "for their dedication to physical fitness and their overall integrity." D'Alleva and Field, with several powerlifting state records in their three years of lifting, "are the youngest ever to go into the hall, well deserved," Diliberto added.

Photo in text: Nick D'Alleva, left, and Thomas Field with their induction plaques. (Photo provided)


CCE Column: Energy and the Environment

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schuyler County is providing a monthly column here on its ongoing educational activities and offerings. The 12th column -- Energy and the Environment" -- is by Executive Director Phil Cherry (left). Column.


Hospital offering drive-through saliva testing

Schuyler Hospital will now offer COVID-19 saliva testing at its drive-through location at the front entrance of the hospital. The sampling location was opened earlier this year and until now only offered swab testing, which is still available. Business.

Cayuga Health vaccine update. Business.


It's your choice: keeping control of Covid-19 stress

Certified life coach Meg Cabezas, who lives outside Odessa, offers ideas on dealing with the stresses created by the coronavirus pandemic. Column.


Photo: Meg Cabezas (Provided)


Seneca View reports upswing in COVID cases

Schuyler Hospital officials said Dec. 21 that they were experiencing an increase in COVID-19 positive cases at the Seneca View Skilled Nursing Facility: 18 known positive cases. Fourteen of those residents were experiencing no symptoms. People.

Front-line workers in the Cayuga Health system have begun receiving the Pfizer vaccine. People.


House a total loss after fire strikes in Hector

A fire at about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 16 left a house at 5209 County Road 4 (Logan Road) in the Town of Hector a total loss. In the photo above by Bob Groll, the shell of the house remains after the blaze. The family, which escaped the structure, called 911. Firefighters arriving on the scene found the house engulfed in flames. Officials said the blaze was caused by a wood stove.


Pierce stepping down at Watkins Promotions

Carole Pierce, the longtime Director of Events at Watkins Glen Promotions, will retire at the end of the year. Her successor will be Michaela Christensen, a Promotions board member since 2016. For the story, see Business.


Accident KOs power in Watkins for 2+ hours

The power throughout Watkins Glen was knocked out from 4 p.m. until after 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 14. Mayor Luke Leszyk said the outage occurred when a truck backed into a light pole across the road from Clute Park, triggering a surge and then a safety shutdown in the village's metering station on Cass Road. Village crews restored power to the south end of Watkins at 6:20 p.m., and to the rest of the village 10 minutes later. One casualty, a Watkins School Board meeting, was rescheduled to Tuesday.


NYSPHSAA cancels all winter state championships, postpones high-risk sports

The New York State Public High School Athletic Association has announced the cancellaton of all 2021 winter sports State Championships and the postponement of all high-risk sports until authorization is granted by state officials. Sports.

O-M looks at plans for bowling, boys swimming
and a school play. Schools.


Snowmobilers urged to exercise caution

Finger Lakes National Forest officials are recommending that snowmobilers use caution when operating on National Forest and other lands in New York this winter. People.

In the 2010 IAC Large Division championship game, Watkins players included, in white from left, Austin Stephany, Chris Duane and Ethan Roth.


Remembering a WGHS championship day

Ten years ago, a group of Watkins Glen High School soccer players won the IAC Large Division championship game over Trumansburg -- a memory that brings some pleasure in a pandemic era that has yielded neither local high school sports nor much to smile about. To revisit that game, see Soccer.

Hesselson's workers offload packages into the waiting arms of members of Boy Scout Troop 2674 of Watkins Glen. The Scouts carried the packages into the First Presbyterian Church building and upstairs to a storage and organizational room.


Truck makes its annual Seneca Santa delivery

The annual visit by a Hesselson's truck to the First Presbyterian Church of Watkins Glen was held Dec. 8th, its cargo being toys and other gifts bought by the Seneca Santa program for distribution to families in need in Schuyler County. The non-profit Seneca Santa program, which uses the church each this year to gather donated and purchased gifts, has requests this year from 106 families with 243 children. The presents are delivered by local firefighters to the recipients, ages 2-12, on Christmas Eve. Seneca Santa, begun more than 80 years ago, has been run for 30 years by Peggy Scott of Burdett, who said donations of new, unwrapped gift items are being accepted until Dec. 18. (See a list of drop-off locations on Forum.)

Photos: Kick balls were among the gifts purchased by Seneca Santa from Hesselson's this year.


Health Foundation elects new members

The Schuyler Health Foundation recently elected new members to its Board of Directors and named its board officers for 2020-2021. Business.


4 restaurants honored in placemat campaign

The Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking and Drugs (SCCUDD) has recognized 4 restaurants with which it partnered to educate area youth about the dangers of substance use. The four did so through the distribution of child-focused placemats containing crossword puzzles, word finds and other activities promoting SCCUDD's message. People.

Photo: Curt Connelly, owner of Curly's Family Restaurant


Distributing holiday toys and gifts in Odessa

The Odessa Fire Department, in lieu of an in-person Christmas party for area kids this year, was distributing toys and other gifts Dec. 6 in drive-through fashion to families living within the fire district. More than two-dozen families with more than 50 kids signed up to drive past the fire hall at the Municipal Building and collect gifts from fire department elves -- holiday gifts being something the department and its Auxiliary have provided for years. Just as the car drive-through began, officials marked the occasion by lighting the Village Christmas Tree on the lawn nearby.

Photos: Gifts distributed by Santa's elves were the order of the day Sunday outside the Odessa Municipal Building.


Sheriff's Office warns about scam phone calls

The Schuyler County Sheriff’s Office has received several complaints of residents receiving phone calls originating in Texas but displaying the phone number of the Sheriff’s Office: (607) 535-8222. The caller is attempting to get Social Security numbers and other personal information.

Do not answer such a call. If you do answer, hang up if asked for personal information. Remember: the IRS and Social Security Administration will not call for information. If you suspect a call may be legitimate, hang up and look up the number for the agency and call them back. The Sheriff's phone number -- (607) 535-8222 -- is an incoming number only. Calls from the Sheriff’s Office will display a different number.


WG schools going virtual on Nov. 30, and then nearly full-time in school after Christmas break

The Watkins Glen school district will go fully virtual in its education on Monday, Nov. 30 in a move designed to bring students back into the classroom full-time (or nearly so) after the first of the year. Superintendent Greg Kelahan (right) said the period of virtual education will enable the district to adjust schedules, reconfigure classrooms and prepare transportation for the move to full-time in-school education on Jan. 4 -- away from the hybrid schedule it has been following this school year (in which students attending school have done so just two days a week). Students will have the options of virtual learning or in-school education, with PK-6th grade attending classes on-site five days a week and 7th-12th graders at least four days, with Wednesday likely virtual because of staffing issues. Schools.


Notarfonzo honored with Paul Harris award

Kathie Notarfonzo (pictured on the left with Rotarian Michelle Benjamin), has been named a Rotary Club Paul Harris Fellow -- which celebrates "service above self" -- for her multiple involvement in the business and civic life of Watkins Glen. Kathie, a fitness instructor at Exercise Enterprise in Watkins since 1985, is also a yoga instructor, a trained health coach, and operator of Inner Peace Floats on 4th Street. She also started the annual Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving mornings in Watkins, encouraging participants to donate food to Schuyler Outreach's Food Pantry; is on the board of MR Hess Home Works, a local not-for-profit educating the community about suicide and prevention; and has been employed by the Finger Lakes State Parks since 1986, working her way up to the second in command. She lives with her husband Mark and three sons in Hector.


WGI announces Wine Festival art contest

Watkins Glen International has created an art contest to help celebrate the 25th anniversary in 2021 of the Finger Lakes Wine Festival, held at WGI. The winning art will be part of the official event poster. Entries will be accepted until Jan. 31, 2021. Features.


Hospital to provide telehealth services to CCC

Schuyler Hospital, a member of Cayuga Health, has partnered with SUNY Corning Community College to provide "augmented" telehealth and telemedicine services to SUNY CCC students, staff and faculty. Schools.


Along the canal

The sun was shining brightly as it started setting Friday, Dec. 11th, but there were dark clouds to the north over Seneca Lake. The water on the canal was still and reflective. The man who snapped this photo, Mark Taylor, said he liked how the scene "evokes this time of year."


OSFL's holiday concert tradition continues

The Orchestra of the Southern FInger Lakes (OSFL) is holding a series of online holiday concerts and Beethoven talks during the month of December, scheduled on Facebook and YouTube. All are free. For a schedule and more information, see Features.


Volunteers string lighted garland on Glen poles

With a biting wind blowing off the nearby lake, volunteers undertook the task on Saturday morning, Dec. 5th of wrapping strings of garland around dozens of light poles along Franklin Street in Watkins Glen. Mayor Luke Leszyk helped set the first garland on a pole in front of Village Hall, and then joined other two-and three-person teams tackling the other 80 or 90 poles stretching south from near the shoreline. Each garland contains strings of bulbs that plug into the poles, designed to make the holiday season that much brighter in downtown Watkins Glen.

Photo: A Garland goes up on a pole across Franklin from the hotel -- where coffee and donuts awaited volunteers afterward.


A guest column by Leslie Danks Burke

Leslie Danks Burke is a regional public advocate who recently ran for the New York State Senate in the 58th district. Here she provides a column titled "Beyond." Column.

Leslie Danks Burke


Hartney honored by NYS Office for the Aging

The Reverend Michael Hartney (pictured at right) is honored by the New York State Office for the Aging at its Older New Yorkers' Day virtual celebration for his contributions to his community, while retired teachers Marie Fitzsimmons and Kate LaMoreaux receive a special award for a Learning Support Program pod they initiated. Features.


Watkins Glen International unveils 2021 slate

The full slate of scheduled activities includes Opening Weekend, a loaded NASCAR Weekend, and Wine and Beer Festivals. Sports.


Ribbon-cutting marks Cruise Terminal opening

Local and state dignitariies were on hand Dec. 1st for a ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the first private-sector Downtown Revitalization Initiative project completed in Watkins Glen, the new Port of Seneca Cruise Terminal Building -- successor to the old Captain Bill's gift shop on the southern shore of Seneca Lake. For a story and photos, see Business.

Photo: Mark Simiele, owner of the new Port of Seneca Cruise Terminal Building, speaks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.


Schuyler Toys for Tots campaign is under way

Check out Schuyler County drop-off spots and how to apply for toys. It's all in a Letter to the Editor. Forum.

Photo: Toys for Tots is part of a U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Foundation program.

Seneca Santa accepting new gift items. Forum.


A foggy day outside Odessa

The fog settled in earnest Nov. 30 in the hills outside Odessa, eventually spreading to the village itself. This shot of the Hoffman Farm at Catharine Corners -- up the hill from Odessa, and the site for many years of a summer Cheese Festival -- was snapped coming down the Ridge Road by Liz Fraboni.

Cuomo veto welcomed by area state legislators

Area State Senators and Assembly members react after Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoes legislation that they said would have impeded, not helped, protection of our waterways. Government.


Watkins man charged with Grand Larceny

Louis A. Latorre, 46, of Watkins Glen has been arrested on a charge of Grand Larceny, 2nd degree, a class C Felony, after allegedly stealing over $50,000 from Watkins Glen Supply (right), a hardware business at 2768 State Route 14 in the Town of Dix. The Schuyler County Sheriff's Office said Latorre is accused of stealing the money over a 6-year period while employed at the business. He was arraigned in the Village of Watkins Glen court and released to reappear in Town of Dix court at a later date.


Danks Burke concedes State Senate election

Leslie Danks Burke (right), Democratic candidate for State Senate in the 58th district, has conceded the election to the incumbent, Republican Tom O’Mara. A press release said that while Danks Burke "significantly narrowed" O'Mara's lead during the absentee ballot count, "there are no longer enough outstanding ballots to fully close the gap." In a statement, she said: "Based on the numbers we have seen so far, it is clear that we will not see the outcome we hoped for. And out of respect for the voters and the principles on which our democratic republic is founded, we accept this outcome for the next two years." Looking ahead, she said: "Today's results are a disappointment, yet we know that this is a long game. ... As every ball player knows -- Good game, good game! And I'll see you on the field next time."

O'Mara thanks voters. Government.


Glen Gators cleared to use Community Center

The Watkins Glen Village Board Tuesday night unanimously approved a request by The Glen Gators swim club to use the Watkins Glen Community Center three evenings a week, with the usual facility fee waived. "This was really a no-brainer," said Mayor Luke Leszyk. Government.

Photo: Watkins Glen Mayor Luke Leszyk during Tuesday's Zoom session.


O'Hearn: Yellow designation seems unlikely

Schuyler County Administrator Tim O’Hearn says that given the small size of Schuyler and the relatively low number of active Covid-19 cases here, it seems unlikely that the state would move the county into its Yellow Zone of pandemic restrictions. Government.

Photo: Schuyler County Administrator Tim O'Hearn (File photo)


Remembering Bill Davis ... by Brian O'Donnell

Historian and former Watkins Glen principal and School Board member Brian O'Donnell weighs in on the life and times of former Watkins Glen School District Athletic Director Bill Davis, who died recently in Florida. Forum.

Photo: Brian J. O'Donnelll (File photo)


BOE nixes 2 requests; super eyes remote plan

The Watkins Glen School Board on Monday, Nov. 16 rejected a request for a winter conditioning program, and turned down the Glen Gators' request to use the school pool. Board members also heard Superintendent Greg Kelahan (pictured at right) explain how he is considering transitioning the district to fully remote education through the holidays. Schools.


Danks Burke's Schuyler lawsuit is dismissed

A New York State Supreme Court Judge has thrown out the lawsuit filed by Democratic New York State Senate candidate Leslie Danks Burke against the Schuyler County Board of Elections. Government.

Garage burns on Beranek Road. (Photo provided)


Fire levels garage workshop in Town of Cayuta

Firefighters from around the area rushed shortly before 6 p.m. Sunday to the scene of a two-story garage fire at 1475 Beranek Road, just off Route 224 near Alpine Junction, in the Town of Cayuta. The blaze, fanned by high winds, was -- as one observer said -- "a-ripping" through the 30-by-40-foot workshop structure when firefighters arrived, They concentrated on saving a nearby house that sustained exterior damage, a propane tank and various vehicles. The cause of the blaze is under investigation. Firefighters from Odessa, Montour Falls, Burdett, Town and Country, Watkins Glen, Newfield, Millport, Beaver Dams and Mecklenburg responded. Also assisting were the Schuyler County 911 Center and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.

Photo: Firefighters work the scene of the fire.

Seventh grader Desiree Groves, left, and the Great Escape's Jackie Honsberger, displaying the $200 check that went to the Humane Society to help in its operations.


7th grader and Great Escape donate to HSSC

A "Pints for Paws" fundraiser by the Great Escape Ice Cream Parlor in Watkins Glen -- an effort based on a 12th birthday wish by Watkins Glen 7th grader Desiree Groves, who the Great Escape's Jackie Honsberger said "loves supporting the Humane Society" -- generated a check for $200 presented by Honsberger Saturday morning to the Humane Society of Schuyler County outside its facility on Marina Drive in Montour Falls. Also donated: Toys, collars, nail trimmers, and other goodies for the dogs and cats inside, provided by Desiree and her parents, Kera and Ron Groves of Watkins Glen. The Great Escape has also raised funds in the past for other local causes.


Lakeside Veterinary donates holiday food

The Montour Falls-based veterinary service provides 90 boxes of stuffing mix, 150 boxes of Jello and 150 cans of cranberry sauce to Catholic Charities' Food Basket Giveaway. People.

Photo: Dr. Martha Hawksworth of Lakeside Veterinary with the food donation. (Photo provided)


Mitrano concedes Congressional race to Reed

Tracy Mitrano, the Penn Yan Democrat who challenged incumbent Republican Tom Reed in the recent campaign for Congress, admitted defeat Friday. Mitrano, who a press release said was "confident that the absentee ballot count is moving ahead methodically and fairly," called Reed to congratulate him for again winning the 23rd Congressional District seat. She also thanked her supporters for their help and encouragement during her two runs for Congress -- this year and in 2018. She said she had planned on waiting to concede until the long absentee vote count was completed, but said "the math has long pointed to a clear victory for my opponent" -- a man who she also criticized for his campaign tactics. "Running an honest campaign against an opponent who is not reveals some of the worst aspects of electoral politics today," she said. "To be attacked personally when the campaign should be about issues tarnishes my reputation in the community for no more benefit than to place my opponent's venality in bold relief."

Photo in text: Tracy Mitrano

Elections Board files motion to dismiss lawsuit
brought by Danks Burke. Government.


WGHS alum Bascom is marketing stars, brands

Watkins Glen High School track standout and 2012 graduate Charles Bascom has become a marketing force behind some of today’s popular and rising social media influencers and athletes through his Los Angeles company, Wealth Garden Entertainment. Schools.

Photo: Charles Bascom (Photo provided)

Legislators Mark Rondinaro, left, and Van Harp at meeting.


Schuyler Legislature approves 2021 budget

The Schuyler County Legislature Monday night unanimously approved a 2021 county budget that includes decreases in the tax rate (from $7.18 per $1,000 of assessed valuation to $7.13) and the tax levy ($11,323,706, down about $500 from 2020). The $48,471,887 spending plan avoided a tax hike, Administrator Tim O'Hearn said, primarily because all employees on the county payroll agreed to freeze their wages in 2021, rolling any scheduled increases over for a year. "If there ever was a year to go to the taxpayers to balance a budget" with a tax increase, he said, "this was it." But because of the employees' wage freeze "we're not."

Photo: County Administrator Tim O'Hearn outlines the budget.

Flames shoot out of the eastern end of the Carriage House at 3rd and Decatur Streets in Watkins Glen. (Photo by Kyle Chedzoy)


Fire strikes historic Carriage House in Watkins

Fire late Thursday afternoon, Nov. 5th destroyed a portion of the historic Carriage House at the corner of 3rd and Decatur Streets in Watkins Glen. The structure, built in three sections, dates back to the 19th century. It has been owned since 1991 by Chris and Angeline Franzese, who reside in a large and historic house nearby. The eastern section of the Carriage House -- a former horse stable -- was effectively destroyed. The two-story central section of the building sustained fire and smoke damage on the second floor, and smoke and water damage on the first. The largest section, the west end of the building, escaped any major damage. No cause was immediately ruled, although a fire investigator said the blaze started in the former stable in the vicinity of a lawnmower used earlier. Fire.

Photo: A firefighter checks the cupola on the largely unscathed western end of the building.


Hector Wine Company celebrates 10 years

The Hector Wine Company recently celebrated its 10th anniversary and marked the milestone by releasing two new wines -- a Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. For a story on the business, on founders Jason Hazlitt and Justin Boyette, and on business partner Alexandra Bond, see Business.

Photo: New 10th anniversary wines. (Photo provided)


Gould: Let's all follow the guidelines on COVID

Schuyler Hospital President and CFO Rebecca Gould (pictured at right) says that "seven months into this worldwide pandemic, we are face-to-face with the enemy looming large at our gate" -- and that now is the time to work together toward "a common goal": to do everything we can to "get on the other side" of the still-spreading coronavirus. Forum.


Dr. Joshua Haentges joins Watkins dental firm

Joshua L. Haentges, DDS has joined the dental practice of Jeffrey Schultz, DDS at 703 S. Decatur Street in Watkins Glen. Dr. Haentges has three years of private practice experience and will be offering dental treatment to patients in all areas of general dentistry. People.

Photo: Joshua L. Haentges, DDS. (Photo provided)


Burdett firefighters: Always at the ready

A look at the award-winning fire department. Burdett.


Odessa honors two outgoing village trustees

The Odessa Village Board recently honored Thomas Letteer Jr. and Sally Hill for eight years of service as members of that board. Each was elected in 2012 and stepped down this year. Letteer, on the Dutton Peterson Library Board in Odessa before joining the Village Board, recently resigned after being re-elected to another 2-year term. Alijia Bailey was appointed to serve in his place. Hill did not seek re-election.

Photo: Tom Letteer and Sally Hill (Photo provided)


Danks Burke battling Elections Commissioner

A press release from Democratic State Senate candidate Leslie Danks Burke (58th district) said Tuesday that she is filing a petition in Schuyler County Supreme Court "in the wake of flip-flopping by the Elections Commissioner in preventing the campaign from inspecting affidavit ballots that the Board of Elections decided were invalid and so would not be counted."

"After first agreeing to allow me to inspect the affidavit ballots that the Board of Elections had decided would not be counted," Danks Burke was quoted as saying, "Commissioner (Joseph) Fazzary flip-flopped and refused to accept public inspection by the campaign. Mr. Fazzary said that he was being 'nice' to me before, and no longer felt like being 'nice.' But the decision about whether an affiidavit ballot gets counted has nothing to do with being nice, and is subject to rules and procedures. In our divided nation, the most important thing to do right now is be fully transparent to give every voter confidence that their votes are being counted and the electoral processs is working fairly. Preventing campaigns from reviewing rejected ballots just adds to more people believing the system is rigged and that they are being stopped from exercising their voice in our election."

Danks Burke trailed incumbent State Senator Tom O'Mara by about 23,000 votes after Election Day Nov. 3, with what she said were about 33,000 absentee ballots to be counted starting this week.

Photo in text: Leslie Danks Burke


Firefighters battle brush blaze along Gulf Road

The Odessa Fire Department responded at 3:53 p.m. Monday, Nov. 9 to a brush fire alongside Gulf Road in the Town of Catharine. When firefighters arrived, they found brush and woodland burning over about 5 acres and spreading toward the Connecticut Hill State Forest. Mutual aid was provided upon request from the Montour Falls, Beaver Dams, Mecklenburg, Watkins Glen, Trumansburg, Van Etten and Hector fire departments. The Millport Fire Department stood by at the Odessa Station. Odessa Fire Chief John Jelliff said that "due to the quick efforts of approximately 60 firefighters, the fire was contained after burning over 8 acres of woodland." The Schuyler County 911 center and New York State Electric and Gas also assisted. The cause of the fire, said Jelliff, was an arcing power line that ignited dry vegetation.

Photo: Flames on a hillside during Nov. 9 brush fire. (Provided)


Watkins Glen district staying remote Nov. 9-13

The Watkins Glen School District, whose instruction was completely remote last week after three positive Covid-19 tests, is remaining remote the week of Nov. 9-13. "Numbers in our county are not good," said Superintendent Greg Kelahan. "We have absences among staff that is making it hard to operate, two new positive students, and it's a partial week due to a Parent Conference day Tuesday nad Veterans Day on Wednesday." Before this past week, the district had been on a hybrid schedule that has had students in school two days a week and remote learning on three. The plan is to return to that schedule on Nov. 16.


What's next for the Glen Theater in Watkins?

With its sale complete, what is next for the Glen Theater? After being closed for a year, are films in the offing? SCOPED Executive Director Judy Cherry outlines the new owner's hopes and plans. Features.

Photo: Signs on theater front.


Congressman Reed declares win over Mitrano

Republican Congressman Tom Reed declared victory over Democrat Tracy Mitrano Tuesday night, Nov. 3, saying he was ready to get back to work in Washington.

Reed, who has served in Congress since winning election in 2010, declared victory at 11 p.m. after building a sizable 58.9-40% lead with 25% of the vote recorded. When 99% had been counted two hours later, the advantage was 63.1% to 35.8%. The vote count: 160,930 to 91,331, with absentee ballots to be counted.

"It's been a long, unusual campaign," said Reed, adding that "there are bright days ahead of us. We're gonna get Covid-19 in our rearview."

He called his victory "rewarding and humbling," and said "the sun will come up and we'll get right back to work."

Photo in text: Congressman Tom Reed.


Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards' wines shine in 2020

Wine ratings of 90+ and a Double Gold medal for Red Cat wine have been beacons for Hazlitt's in the year of the pandemic. Business.

From left: Legislators Phil Barnes, Mark Rondinaro and Van Harp at Oct. 13 meeting.


Legislature passes resolution expressing concern about Cayuta solid waste facility

The Schuyler County Legislature voted 7-1 on Oct. 13 in favor of a resolution seeking more state review of a planned solid waste material recovery facility in the Town of Cayuta, along Route 13. The lone "no" vote was cast by Legislator David Reed, who is from Cayuta. Among the concerns: heavy daily truck traffic and the facility's effects on "tourism, agriculture and human health." Speaking in the public portion of the meeting after the vote, Bob Mente, the head of Alternative Waste Services, Inc. of Newfield, the firm proposing the facility, said another company's waste transfer facility was approved in the recent past without such opposition. He said he wasn't against the resolution, but objected to information circulated by opponents "that has brought this situation to where it is." Also objecting was David Reed Jr. of Cayuta, who wondered "how the county can subvert home rule by even taking the matter up." To see the original resolution, amended slightly at the meeting, click here.

Photo: Bob Mente of Alternative Waste Services, Inc.

Other Legislature action. Government.

State Senator Tom O'Mara and challenger Leslie Danks Burke.


O'Mara builds big lead over Danks Burke

Republican State Senator Tom O'Mara has apparently turned back Democratic challenger Leslie Danks Burke in their race for O'Mara's 58th Senate District seat. The district encompasses Schuyler, Chemung, Steuben and Yates counties, and part of Tompkins.

Available statisitics showed O'Mara leading Danks Burke 61,743-38,561, or 61.6% to 38.4%. O'Mara led roughly 2-1 in Schuyler and Yates counties. With more than 25,000 absentee ballots reportedly yet to be counted, there was neither a victory declaration nor a concession, but the O'Mara lead was substantial enough to lead at least one TV news outlet to declare him the victor.

Meanwhile: Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R-Corning) won another term by running unopposed.

--Joe Biden won New York State in the presidential race, capturing its 29 electoral votes.

-- In Schuyler County's Town of Orange, two races for Council seats were won by Republicans Heather A. Waters (a full term) and Maryann J. Friebis (to fill an unexpired term).

Photo in text: Assemblyman Phil Palmesano


Mayor, isolated with Covid, runs Zoom meeting

Watkins Glen Mayor Luke Leszyk is in isolation after testing positive for Covid-19, he explained at the outset of a remote Village Board meeting Tuesday night, Nov. 3. That isolation was the reason the board, which had recently conducted its meetings in person, held the Zoom session this time. Leszyk said he was exposed at a family gathering by "someone who brought something they shouldn't have." He added: "Everyone's fine, I'm fine, but I'm a little tired of sitting in my house." The board, in a 37-minute session, approved a delay in odd-even parking on 2nd Street between Decatur and Porter due to construction, as well as conducting other housekeeping matters.

Photo: Watkins Glen Mayor Luke Leszyk during meeting.


B.C. Cate goes to virtual learning Nov. 4-13

Due to possible Covid-19 exposure, two classes and associated staff at B.C. Cate Elementary School in Montour Falls are being placed in quarantine, although "no student or staff member has tested positive at this time," Odessa-Montour School Superintendent Chris Wood announced Tuesday afternoon. "After consulting with the Department of Health, the school physician and our school attorney," he said, "we have determined that B.C. Cate will transition to virtual learning from Wednesday, Nov. 4 through Friday, Nov. 13 in response to the staffing shortage caused by the quarantine." Hanlon Elementary School is already on remote learning through the same date. Wood said the move does not affect the Junior-Senior High School, where in-person classes will continue to be held five days a week.

Photo: O-M Superintendent Chris Wood.


Glen School Board gets Public Health update

The Watkins Glen School Board receives an update from Public Health Director Deb Minor on the current trend of the coronavirus, and sidesteps any discussion concerning a request by The Gators swim club to use the school pool for training. Schools.

Photo: Superintendent Greg Kelahan makes a point.


Hanlon Elementary School closes for 2 weeks

Hanlon Elementary School in Odessa is being closed Monday and its students transitioned to remote learning from Tuesday, Nov. 3 through Friday, Nov. 13 after a support staff member tested positive for COVID-19. Superintendent Chris Wood said no staff will be permitted in the school Monday unless otherwise directed while the building is thoroughly cleaned -- something he said is already done regularly. He was notified Sunday morning about the positive case, gathered his team in the district office and compiled a list for the Department of Health of those who might have been in contact with the individual. "I believe exposure was for one day," he noted. Teachers not quarantining will be permitted in the school starting Tuesday or can remote teach from home. Students at B.C. Cate Elementary and the Odessa-Montour Jr.-Sr. High School may attend school as regularly scheduled.

Left: Youngsters and their parents follow an Odessa fire truck along a village street in the Halloween Parade. Right: A trio of ballerinas in the march.

  Parade highlights Halloween in Odessa

A parade of trick-or-treaters and their parents marching behind an Odessa village firetruck kicked off trick-or-treating in the village Saturday evening. The truck, moving very slowly, started at the school parking lot and made its way up College Avenue to Speedway to Merchant Avenue to First Street and back to College.

Photo in text: Odessa Mayor Gerry Messmer and his wife Cathy were among the parade participants, riding their horses.


Porsche Club donates alarms to Habitat

The Finger Lakes Chapter of the Porsche Club of America has donated combination CO2/smoke alarms to Schuyler County Habitat for Humanity to be used in construction of the current Habitat build on County Road 4 in the Town of Hector. People.


Reed: 'Politics has taken a disturbing turn'

Congressman Tom Reed (right) on Oct. 23 issued a statement regarding a threat made against him and his family. It read:

"Today, my family and I were threatened at our home in Corning. The cowards used a dead animal and a brick with a family member’s name on it to try to intimidate us. We assure everyone such threats only energize us to stand stronger.

"We thank the local police and federal authorities, who are already investigating this disgusting attack against my family.

"Across the country, politics has taken a disturbing turn. We have to overcome this. I know that we can. We are all Americans first. What unites us is far greater than our political differences."


Court rejects Watkins school union's lawsuit

New York State Supreme Court Justice Christopher P. Baker on Oct.21 "denied and dismissed" a lawsuit brought by the Watkins Glen Faculty Association against the Watkins Glen School Board, the school district and Superintendent Greg Kelahan. The lawsuit asserted that the district has adopted a policy contrary to state executive orders and to the district's own reopening plan, effectively blocking teachers with vulnerable health conditions from working remotely during the pandemic. But Baker, in a 5-page ruling that followed a virtual hearing last week, concluded that the union "has failed to demonstrate an injury-in-fact."

“We are satisfied that Justice Baker recognizes the District's implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and that we have worked to support the needs of staff members in a reasonable manner," said Superintendent Kelahan.


Mosher given Sgt. role; Matthews is patrolman

Ethan Mosher was named Oct. 20 by the Watkins Glen Village Board as the Sergeant in Charge of the Watkins Glen Police Department. Mosher had held that post on an interim basis. Mosher, eligible for the job after attaining the permanent Civil Service rank of Sergeant, takes over the job that had been held on a provisional basis by Brandon Matthews, who failed to attain the Civil Service rank of Sergeant. Matthews was placed on administrative leave in August pending completion of an investigation by State Police on never-specified allegations, and is still on administrative leave after a Schuyler County grand jury declined to indict him or his wife on publicly unspecified allegations. The Board also voted Tuesday to reassign Matthews to his original position, that of patrol officer. Mayor Luke Leszyk said attorneys for the village and the police union continue to discuss Matthews' situation.

In other business: The board, without taking official action, recommended the hours of 6-8 p.m. on Oct. 31 for Trick or Treating in the village; and decided to soon open the western end of 3rd Street for the winter until reinstatement in the spring of the Village Square public seating area there. Traffic on the street will remain two-way.

Photo in text: Sergeant in Charge Ethan Mosher (Provided)


SCCUDD involved in two Schuyler projects

The Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking and Drugs announces a video competition for students in grades 6-12 in the county, and partners with the Schuyler County Sheriff's Office in encouraging community members to participate in National Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, October 24. See the Video story on Schools. See the Take Back story on Government.


Area public libraries get construction grants

Various public libraries in the 58th State Senate District -- including the Watkins Glen Public Library (right) -- have been awarded state construction grants, it was announced Oct. 20. The Watkins grant is for new sidewak entrances. Govt.


Watkins Glen School Board eyes Gators' use of pool, but Kelahan opposes it: 'Not the time'

With Superintendent Greg Kelahan voicing opposition, the Watkins School Board decides to at least take a look at a proposal that would allow the Glen Gators swim club to use the school pool. Schools.

Photo: Board President Gloria Brubaker

  Cayuga Medical Center suspends visitations

In light of the recent increase in COVID-19 cases in the community, "and in order to protect the safety of our patients, visitors, staff, and the communities we serve," Ithaca's Cayuga Medical Center announced Monday that it was putting visitor restrictions in place -- to remain in effect until further notice. Business.

United Way campaign chairs Rick Evans and Lydia Wickham. (Photo provided)

  300 meals sold at annual United Way dinner

Rick Evans and Lydia Wickham, co-chairs of the Schuyler County United Way's annual campaign in 2020, were selling 50/50 tickets (above) at the United Way's annual kick-off spaghetti dinner held at the Moose Club in Montour Falls on Oct. 12. A total of 300 meals were sold at the event, a drive-through this year because of the pandemic. The dinner was, said Executive Secretary Peggy Scott, "very successful. We are so grateful for the continuous support of the community." (The United Way of Schuyler County has a new website. To see it, click here.)


No sports? Exercise the focus at OM, WGHS

Some students at Odessa-Montour and Watkins Glen high schools are participating in after-school conditioning programs utilizing sports whose games and meets were put on hold this fall by the IAC and Section IV. Sports.

In the pool Thursday at WGHS. (Photo provided)


Grand jury declines to indict Matthews, wife: Glen mayor says village is 'in holding pattern'

The case of Watkins Glen Police Department Sergeant in Charge Brandon Matthews (right) -- who was placed on administrative leave a couple of months ago pending completion of an investigation by the New York State Police -- is back in the hands of village officials after a grand jury voted not to indict Matthews and his wife. The charges considered and then rejected by the grand jury were never made public. While Defense Attorney Raymond Schlather is calling for an apology to Sgt. and Mrs. Matthews, the Watkins Glen mayor says no decision has been made on Matthews' reinstatement -- that "we're in a holding pattern" pending more information. Government.


Elderly COVID patient dies at Ithaca hospital

The Tompkins County Health Department announced Oct. 12 that an elderly patient had passed away at Cayuga Medical Center from COVID-19. The patient, 95 and considered high-risk, was admitted to the hospital on Oct. 6. This is the first loss of a Tompkins County resident to the coronavirus; two other people died from the disease in April after being transferred to Cayuga Medical Center from New York City. People.


Donations sought for the Humane Society

Donations of cash, redeemable cans and bottles, and shelter supplies are being collected on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to noon at the Watkins Glen Community Center. Business.

A firefighter hoses down a hot spot in the woodlands off Rt. 224.


Firefighters fight brush fire on hillside off 224

Firefighters from Odessa, Montour Falls, Newfield, Van Etten, Watkins Glen, Spencer, Lockwood and Erin responded about noon on Oct. 10 to a brush and woodland fire on three acres of a hillside off Rt. 224 in the Town of Cayuta, near Johnson Road.

An official said the fire began when a nearby resident was burning brush in his backyard. "Everything's so dry," said the official, that with the wind gusting and shifting, the fire spread up the steep hill behind that person's home and behind several others before it was brought under control in about 45 minutes. Some trees that caught fire were felled by firefighters, and overhead power lines were expected to be checked for possible damage. Firefighters remained on the scene for several hours, watering down hot spots. Assisting were New York State Police, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, the Schuyler County Sheriff's Office, the Schuyler County 911 Center, the Schuyler County Office of Emergency Management and Schuyler Ambulance. Odessa Fire Chief John Jelliff said he wanted to remind everyone "that current weather conditions and dry ground and dead top vegetation makes open burning extremely hazardous at this time."

Photo: Emergency vehicles lined Rt. 224 near the fire.


Wood: In-person education is going well

Odessa-Montour School Superintendent Chris Wood (pictured at right) reports to the O-M School Board that students are glad to be back in the classroom, and that there have been just two issues involving the wearing of masks. He is encouraged, he said, but aware -- with the unpredictability of pandemic infections -- "that at any moment, things could change." Schools.

The box truck came to rest in a ditch alongside Route 224. 


Truck loses control on Rt. 224, ends up in ditch

A commercial box truck traveling west on Route 224 outside Odessa on Oct. 8th went out of control, veering off the road to the right at about 8 a.m. before crossing the highway and ending up in a deep ditch on the south side. The driver, whose load included boxes of merchandise, was taken to the hospital by Schuyler Ambulance, reportedly with nose and back injuries. He climbed into the ambulance under his own power. On the scene were the Odessa Fire Department and a Schuyler County Sheriff's deputy, along with TR Towing, which pulled the vehicle from the ditch.

Photo: The truck's right mirror was ripped off after the vehicle left the roadway to the right while traveling westbound.


Watkins board mulls holiday events, backing Village Christmas axing, waiting on Halloween

The Watkins Glen Village Board on Oct. 6 discussed the decision by Watkins Glen Promotions to cancel this year's Village Christmas because of the pandemic. Deputy Mayor Louis Perazzini said he had received a number of complaints about it, the general reasoning being: If thousands of tourists can flood to the state park, why can't a few hundred area residents gather on Franklin Street to celebrate Santa's season? Trustee Nan Woodward said part of the reason was liability -- which Mayor Luke Leszyk said included a possible fine from the state for an organized event drawing more than 50 people, a rule emanating from New York's pandemic response.

Tourism at the state park does not constitute an organized event, he said. Nor does Halloween, but the board hesitated to give the go-ahead to trick-and-treaters while it checks on what other villages might be doing. If other villages don't condone it and Watkins Glen does, he said, chances are Watkins would sustain an overflow of candy-seekers from those communities -- although (he added in a bit of pandemic humor) "I assume they'll all be wearing masks." He concluded by saying that even If the board fails to give the green light, "If people went out, there's nothing we could really do about it."

Photo: Mayor Luke Leszyk at Tuesday night's meeting.


Backbone Ridge trail re-opens with new bridge

HECTOR, Oct. 7, 2020 -- Finger Lakes National Forest officials say the popular Backbone Ridge Trail has re-opened in its entirety in the National Forest. A portion of the trail had temporarily been closed north of the Foster Pond intersection to Wardner Corners Road after a bridge had failed due to heavy rainfall in August 2018. Forest engineers determined that the trail bridge was unsafe, as the bridge abutments had been undermined by the storm. Recently, the Forest Service completed the design and a local contractor built a new bridge with concrete abutments that is now ready for use by forest visitors.

Photo: New Backbone Ridge Trail bridge. (Photo provided)


School Board okays conditioning plan, takes step toward bringing back PK-2nd full time

The Watkins Glen School Board, in a 4-3 vote, approved an "Off-Season Workout and Conditioning Program" Oct. 5th for "all Fall Athletes grade 7-12 beginning on Tuesday, Oct. 6 and running until Tuesday, Nov. 24 (weather permitting)."

The board voted unanimously to have Superintendent Greg Kelahan develop a detailed version of a proposal from teacher leaders in grades Pre-K through 2 that would see students in those grades, currently in school two days a week, return to classes for either four or five days a week. Schools.

Photo: Superintendent Greg Kelahan at Monday's meeting.


Ribbon-cutting ceremony

Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul speaks Oct. 2 before cutting the ribbon at a gathering celebrating the new Catharine Valley Water Reclamation Plant located adjacent to the canal south of the Watkins Glen Community Center. The $32 million project is shared by the villages of Watkins Glen and Montour Falls. Ceremony.


NASCAR scheduled back at WGI in 2021

NASCAR will return to Watkins Glen International and New York State for the Go Bowling at The Glen race on Aug. 8, the sanctioning body announced as it released the schedule for the 2021 Cup Series. WGI's schedule for 2020 was upended by the pandemic, with the Go Bowling at the Glen race moved to Daytona. Sports.

Left: The start of a NASCAR race at WGI. (File photo)


Village Christmas falls to pandemic concerns

The annual Watkins Glen Village Christmas, a 27-year tradition, has been canceled for 2020 due to the coronavirus. The next Village Christmas is set for Dec. 10, 2021. Forum.

Santa and Mrs. Claus in a Village Christmas parade.

The two vehicles in the crash on 224 as they awaited towing. 


2 injured in accident at Rt. 224 and County 13

Two people were transported to the hospital on Sept. 28 with injuries sustained in a two-vehicle crash at the junction of State Rt. 224 and County Rt. 13 near Van Etten. An official on the scene said a Jeep Gladiator exiting 13 collided with a Cadillac SRX that was northbound on 224. Schuyler Ambulance and Bangs Ambulance transported the two people, whose names and injuries were not available. Fire personnal from Odessa and Van Etten also responded, as did the Schuyler County Sheriff's Office.

Photo: Traffic was backed up on Rt. 224 after the accident. which involved the car in the foreground, a Cadillac SRX.

Cars gather for Victory Laps outside the WGI Media Center. (Provided) 


WGI hosts 3 days of fund-raising Victory Laps

Fans had an opportunity to drive three laps on the Watkins Glen International racetrack Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 25-27, as WGI hosted Victory Laps presented by Stoner Car Care. Laps were held five hours each day. Admission was $25 per vehicle for the laps, behind a pace car, around the full 3.45-mile Grand Prix road course. A portion of the proceeds will benefit WGI's R.A.C.E.(Racing and Community Enrichment) Foundation, which supports local organizations and "healthcare heroes of Upstate New York during the pandemic."

Photo: A car on the WGI track Friday (Photo provided)


Schuyler Habitat is ready to build again

Schuyler Habitat for Humanity, which recently completed its second house in the county on Broadway in Montour Falls, was ready entering October to build its next one, on County Route 4 in the Town of Hector. The structure currently on the property will be renovated as part of the build. Work was to start immediately to close it up for the winter. Habitat is seeking applicants as the partner family, which Habitat officials say must meet certain financial obligations, help with the build, and be able to carry a low-interest loan. Habitat’s work trailer was placed at the site the last week of September, freshly painted by Vickio Signs. To volunteer to help with the build, contact Bob Groll at bgroll@schuylerhabitat.org. Information regarding becoming the partner family can be found on www.schuylerhabitat.org. Donations may be sent to Schuyler Habitat for Humanity, P.O. Box 45, Watkins Glen, NY 14891.

Photo: Schuyler Habitat for Humanity work trailer on the site.

Left: Montour Falls Mayor Jim Ryan. Right: New trustee Jim Nolan as he was being sworn in.


Ryan sworn in as Montour Falls mayor; Nolan, Chicone and Confer sworn in as trustees

James P. Ryan, a member of the Montour Falls Village Board for more than nine years, was sworn in as mayor in a ceremony Wednesday evening, Sept. 23 at the Montour Falls Fire Department. He succeeds John King, who chose not to seek re-election and who Ryan praised for his leadership. Sworn in as trustees were incumbent Vincent Chicone and newcomers Jim Nolan (elected Sept. 15) and Jeff Confer (appointed by Ryan to fill Ryan's former seat). Swearing them in was Village Justice Donald Spaccio. Ryan presented a speech afterward, and then the 25 or so well-wishers present were treated to cheeses, vegetables and cake. Among the spectators was former trustee Steve Lawton, who chose not to seek re-election.

Photo in text: Montour Falls Village Justice Donald Spaccio

Trustees Jeff Confer, left, and Vincent Chicone as they were being sworn in.


The Confers: A 4th generation joins Fire Dept.

Jeff Confer poses in the photo above with his son Cayden, who recently advanced from junior firefighter to full-fledged volunteer in the Montour Falls Fire Department -- the fourth Confer generation to be a part of the department. Jeff's grandfather and father were both members, as was Jeff, who served as fire chief. Father and son posed after the ceremony Sept. 23 at the fire department where Jeff was sworn in as a village trustee.

The car and bus, tangled together at Fowler Place and Rt. 224.


Car-bus accident in Odessa sends three O-M students to Schuyler Hospital 'as a precaution'

A car-bus accident at the intersection of Rt. 224 and Fowler Place on the eastern edge of Odessa Wednesday morning, Sept. 23, resulted in three students, the bus driver and a driver's aide being taken to Schuyler Hospital "as a precaution," School Superintendent Chris Wood told district residents in a subsequent robocall. They were all later released. The accident occurred about 7:02 a.m. when, said an official at the scene, the westbound car lost control and struck the bus, which was waiting at the stop sign on Fowler, facing north. Schuyler Ambulance, Erway Ambulance and Valois-Logan-Hector Ambulance all responded, as did the Odessa Fire Department, the Schuyler County Sheriff's Department and Wolfe's Garage, which removed the car and bus from the scene. No word was available on the condition of the car driver.

Photo: Wolfe's Garage's David Wolfe oversees the removal.

The scene, looking down from a hillside to the east.

Newly elected trustee Bob Carson raises his hand as he is sworn in by Village Clerk Lonnie Childs.


Carson sworn in, joins Watkins Village Board

Bob Carson -- elected to the Watkins Glen Village Board a week earlier -- was sworn in as a member of the board on Tuesday night, Sept. 22. Carson, elected in balloting that was delayed six months by the pandemic, replaces Tony Fraboni, who did not seek re-election. Laurie DeNardo, re-elected in the Sept. 15 vote, also was sworn in Tuesday by Village Clerk Lonnie Childs.

At right: Trustee Laurie DeNardo.


Watkins School Board ponders hybrid woes

The board heard Sept. 21 from two parents and four teachers dissatisfied with the district's hybrid education plan, and considered letting students practice various low-risk sports after school. More discussion is planned on ways to counter the hybrid problems, while the board might vote at its Oct. 5 meeting on the "open practice" athletic plan. Schools.

Photo: School Board member Craig Bianco at the meeting.


Glen Gators squad completes its Seneca swim

Nine members of the Glen Gators Elite Group completed the final leg of their Geneva-to-Watkins Glen Seneca Lake swim Saturday morning, Sept. 19, arriving at the Kayak Launch adjacent to Clute Park. Coach Jason Westervelt said that "to my knowledge, this was the first time a team ever swam the entire length" of the lake. Sports.

Photo: Glen Gators Elite Squad member Amanda Wilbur signals success at the end of the swim.


Cherry retiring at end of year from Extension

Phil Cherry, Executive Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schuyler County for the past four years, plans to retire at year's end. The pandemic, he says, has driven home the message that "life can be too short." Retirement.

Photo: Phil Cherry (File photo)


Section IV supers make it final: no fall sports

The superintendents of school districts in Section IV made official Tuesday what the section's various leagues made clear last week, voting 59-10 with one abstention to move all fall sports to the spring because of the risks of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Sports.


St. John's Church observes 210th anniversary

St. John's Episcopal Church -- located within sight of the Catharine Four Corners -- celebrated its 210th anniversary with a special service Sunday, Sept. 20 that included a message from the Right Reverend Dr. Prince Singh, Eighth Bishop of the Episocopal Diocese of Rochester. The church was established after the Revolutionary War by settlers from Connecticut, some of whom are buried less than a half-mile from the church. Special music was performed Sunday by select members of the Caledonia Highlander Bagpipers. Strict Covid-19 protocols were enforced.

Photo: St. John's Episocopal Church of Catharine.


Positive Covid-19 test prompts the quarantine of 38 students, 6 teachers at Watkins High

Nine days after the opening of in-person classes in the pandemic-plagued 2020-21 school year, a Watkins Glen High School student's positive Covid-19 test result Sept. 17 led Public Health officials to announce the sizable quarantine order. Schools.

Watkins Glen Mayor Luke Leszyk, center, congratulates the two election winners in the race for Village Board seats: Bob Carson and Laurie DeNardo.


DeNardo, Carson win board seats in Watkins

Incumbent Laurie DeNardo and newcomer Bob Carson won the two Watkins Glen Village Board seats up for grabs in the Sept. 15 election. DeNardo was named on 217 ballots, and Carson on 174. Both won four-year terms (actually three-and-a-half, since the election was held six months late due to the pandemic). Finishing third was Kristin VanHorn with 156 votes, while Peter Widynski was fourth with 142.

In Odessa: Incumbent Tom Letteer won re-election to a two-year term on the Village Board, while Pam Cicconi was elected to the board by write-ins. A total of 14 ballots were cast, with Letteer receiving 13 votes and Cicconi 9.

Montour Falls had uncontested races, with Jim Ryan running for mayor, succeeding John King. Running unopposed for four-year trustee terms were Jim Nolan and incumbent Vincent Chicone.

Burdett: With two seats available, trustees Marty Evans (22 votes) and Larry Jaynes (21) were re-elected to two-year terms. Robert Mangus was named on three ballots.

Heavy machinery maneuvers a multi-ton granite block into position alongside Catlin Mill Creek in Odessa.


Project aims to cut Catlin Mill Creek erosion

The Schuyler County Soil and Water Conservation District started a project recently whereby large granite blocks from the Seneca Stone quarry near Seneca Falls were being placed by heavy machinery along the southern bank of Catlin Mill Creek in Odessa to curb erosion on the hillside behind the village's Main Street. The project genesis was the damage left by flooding two years ago. The project, paid for by Soil and Water and including the removal of fallen trees and other debris, was schedule to conclude the week of Sept. 14.

Photo: Granite is carried down a path to the creek.

  Dumpster Day in Odessa

Village workers haul a couch from the bed of a village resident's truck as part of Dumpster Day in Odessa on Sept. 12. Several dumpsters from Green Leaf Recycling were filled during the three-hour event with household debris ranging from furniture, old doors and windows to appliances, mattresses and toys. Mayor Gerry Messmer deemed it a success as residents cleared out unwanted items from their homes and yards.


Covid-19 church cluster larger than thought

Chemung County Executive Christopher Moss said Sept. 10 that the cluster of Covid-19 cases linked to Horseheads' Lighthouse Baptist Church is larger than thought with 19 test positives identified out of 40 parishioners tested Wednesday. Some Schuyler County residents reportedly attend the church, though that number was not specifed. Moss said anyone connected with the church should reach out to the Chemung County Health Department "and get tested."

Students gather in the parking lot fronting the O-M high school before the start of classes Thursday morning.


Odessa-Montour students return to classes

Students in the Odessa-Montour School District -- after a six-month absence due to the pandemic -- returned to in-person classes Thursday, Sept. 10. More than 600 of the district's 700-plus students opted for attending school in-person five days a week, while about 120 selected remote learning, which was instituted when the pandemic forced school closures in March. Schools.

Photo: Temperatures were checked for all incoming students. No problems were reported.


Montour Falls house fire being investigated

Fire officials in Schuyler County are investigating a fire that damaged part of a house on Cronk Road in Montour Falls Thursday, Sept 10. The fire, reported by a passerby at 11:32 a.m., was brought under control by 11:50 a.m. About 20% of the house was destroyed, said one official, who added that nobody was home at the time of the blaze, which occurred in the front section of the structure. The Montour Falls Fire Department was assisted by departments from Watkins Glen, Beaver Dams and Odessa, Schuyler County Emergency Management and the Schuyler County Sheriff's Office.

Schuyler County Judge Matt Hayden waves goodbye to daughter Beatrice, a 3rd grader, as he dropped her off at the Watkins Glen school for the first day of classes.


At last! First day of school at Watkins Glen

Watkins Glen students attended their first day of in-person classes since March when the new school year started Tuesday, Sept. 8. Half of the students who opted for in-person education attended Tuesday, with the other half set to attend Friday. In future weeks, the first group will attend Mondays and Tuesdays, and the second group Thursdays and Fridays under a hybrid schedule adopted by the School Board in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Schools.

Photo: Each student's temperature was checked before he or she was permitted to enter the building.


SCCUDD will hold K-6 billboard contest

The Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking's contest is for substance abuse prevention messages with a seasonal theme. Schools.


Also: SCCUDD teens attend a virtual training institute. Features.


NYSPHSAA issues guide to high school sports

The New York State Public High School Athletic Association on Friday, Sept. 4 issued an almost 50-page guide for high schools titled "Return to Interscholastic Athletics: 2020-2021" For a look at the publication, click here.


Learning Pod to host
20 kids on Wednesdays

Community volunteers will host 20 Watkins Glen Elementary School students on Wednesdays in a program following the school's remote schedule. For details and a form, see People.


WGI to host Victory Laps, R.A.C.E. fundraiser

Fans will get the opportunity to drive three laps at The Glen on the weekend of Sept. 25-27 as Watkins Glen International hosts Victory Laps, a fundraiser for the R.A.C.E. (Racing and Community Enrichment) Foundation. Admission is $25 per vehicle, with tickets available online. Sports.


The Odessa File's Athletes of the Year

Top male and female athletes from the Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour high schools for 2019-20 are honored. Sports.

Left: WGHS Female Athletes of the Year, from left: Amanda Wilbur, Faye Mooney, Thalia Marquez and Peighton Cervoni.


Introducing the 2020
Top Drawer 24 team

The 15th annual Top Drawer 24 team of outstanding area student-athlete-citizens contains honorees -- almost all seniors -- from 12 schools. To see who they are, click here.


2 Landon's workers test positive; risk ID'd

Landon's Pub and Pizza on West 4th Street in Watkins Glen has been closed for disinfection. Public Health urges self-quarantine for anyone there between August 19 and August 29. Government.


Glen School Board cuts $710,000 from budget, including several jobs and the sport of football

The School Board, facing financial uncertainty as New York withholds 20% of state aid, took action Aug. 31 to combat what could amount to a $2.9 million shortfall. Cut from the budget: football, cheerleading, a clerical job, three teacher aide positions, an administrator job, conferences, field trips, material and supply purchases, and transportation and maintenance purchases. Schools.

Photo: Superintendent Greg Kelahan makes a point during Monday night's board session.

O-M's Wood: Football move was "joint decision." Schools.


Exhibit to feature roles of locals in World War II

A U.S. Navy uniform worn by Jack T. Davis and newspaper front pages (right) are among the items in an upcoming exhibit, “Schuyler Answered the Call,” at the Schuyler County Historical Society’s Brick Tavern Museum in Montour Falls.

The exhibit, opening Sept. 2, will be on display through the end of the year. Seventy people who served in military or civilian roles in World War II will be featured. Features.


Letter to Cuomo, Section VIII decision cast doubt on start of New York high school sports

The New York State Council of School Superintendents sends a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo asking for a delay in the high school sports season, and local superintendents react. Meanwhile, Section Vlll athletics are put on hold until January. Sports.

Paradiso's Village Bakery owner Kathy Paradiso cuts the ribbon. With her were several employees, along with officials representing the village and county government and the Chamber of Commerce.


Ribbon cut at new Paradiso's Village Bakery

A ribbon cutting Thursday afternoon at 224 W. Main St. in Montour Falls marked the opening of the second Paradiso's Village Bakery facility in the village -- this one featuring a cafe and a dinner menu. The first facility, just up the street, was short on dining space, and now serves a wholesale function. The new cafe was previously the site of the Harvest Cafe and then the Been There community cafe. Speakers at the ribbon-cutting included Montour Falls Mayor John King, Schuyler County Administrator Tim O'Hearn and Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Michael Hardy, along with bakery owner Kathy Paradiso.


Powers marks retirement from Catharine Court

Ruth Powers retired Wednesday after 30 years working at Catharine Court Apartments in Montour Falls. Powers served as Administrator/Manager of the facility, which holds 32 HUD subsidized apartments for seniors aged 62 and older. "She put a lot of time and love into the building and people there," said one observer. "She improved the building over the years by getting the front porch added on and many other things. She became family to many of the tenants as well as the staff, and will be greatly missed."

Photo: Ruth Powers in her office Wednesday, during a retirement celebration. (Photo provided)


Reed assails 'extremism' after window broken

Congressman Tom Reed says "This extreme behavior is unacceptable" after an act of violence -- a brick thrown through a window -- occurs at his Corning campaign office. Government.


Glen-based band Sweats releases debut album

The Finger Lakes band known as Sweats has released its debut full-length album, "Caught in a Wave." For a look at the band and links to its music, see People.

Photo: Sweats singer-songwriter Travis Durfee.


Cuomo: Low-risk fall sports can start Sept. 21

Governor Andrew Cuomo (right) said Monday that at least five high school sports -- swimming, soccer, cross country, field hockey and tennis -- will be allowed to resume Sept. 21 -- the date set earlier by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association as a possible start date. But no teams will be permitted to travel outside their region or a neighboring region to play or practice until Oct. 19. With schools opening earlier than Sept. 21 -- many have selected Sept. 10 -- "there will be a little bit of a period to gauge what's happening," Cuomo said, before the permitted sports begin. Other sports considered full impact and a higher risk to transmit Covid-19 -- such as football -- can practice, but any games remain on hold, Cuomo added.

O-M, Watkins Glen school districts react. Schools.


Cuomo opens up absentee voting; fear of Covid-19 now a factor; voters can apply now

Governor Andrew Cuomo (right) Thursday signed into law sweeping election reforms that open up the absentee voting process to include as qualifying reasons for such a ballot a fear of voting in person due to the pandemic. The new regulations say ballots must be postmarked on or before election day, Nov. 3, if received by Nov. 10. Ballots without a postmark will be counted if received up until the day after the election. Said Cuomo: "The federal administration has ordered an unprecedented attack on the U.S. Postal Service, and with Covid-19 threatening our ability to have safe, in-person voting, these measures are critical to ensuring a successful and fair election at one of the most important moments in our nation's history."

Palmesano rips Cuomo on election orders. Gov't.

Fun on Seneca

Evvie and Moe Zinger, children of David and Tiffany Zinger of Montour Falls, head for the water fronting the cottage of Jeff and Linda Confer on Seneca Lake over the August 15-16 weekend. The area was blessed with warm, sunny weather, ideal for swimmers and boaters alike. (Photo provided)


Lt. Governor visits, meets with tourism leaders

New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul visited Watkins Glen Wednesday morning, Aug. 12, meeting at the Jack Daniels Club at Watkins Glen International with tourism leaders from around the region, and then visiting one of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative sites in the village, Captain Bill's Seneca Lake Cruises' new, operational and soon to be completed building on the waterfront. She then traveled to Penn Yan to view a DRI project there. Government.

Photo: Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul at Seneca Lake, holding her mask while she answered a TV reporter's questions.

Watkins Sergeant in Charge placed on leave

Watkins Glen Sergeant in Charge Brandon Matthews has been put on paid administrative leave by the village pending completion of an investigation by the New York State Police. Government.


3 injured in motorcycle-car collision in Dix

The Schuyler County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a personal injury motor vehicle accident involving a car and a motorcycle that occurred Friday at 2:57 p.m. on Beaver Dams Moreland Road near Pearl Street in the Town of Dix. Andy Mattison, 44, of Beaver Dams, was westbound on Beaver Dams Moreland Road when the motorcycle he was operating collided with a vehicle that was exiting a private driveway. That vehicle was operated by Michelle Hanson, 61, of Buffalo. Hanson and a passenger, Oscar Hodge, 67, of Buffalo, were taken to Robert Packer Hospital for minor injuries. Mattison was airlifted by Guthrie Air to the same facility for serious injuries. The Sheriff’s Office was assisted at the scene by the Beaver Dams Fire Department and Schuyler Ambulance.


Police seeking information in suspicious death

The Schuyler County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a suspicious death that occurred at 2071 Templar Road in the Town of Orange. On August 7, 2020 the Sheriff’s Office received a call reporting the death of Richard E. Seeley, 43, of 2071 Templar Road. During the investigation it was found that Seeley died as a result of a puncture wound to his chest and lungs. The Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone with information about this incident or about Richard Seeley to contact the Sheriff’s Office:

Phone: 607-535-8222
Tip Line: 607-535-8224
Email: tips@co.schuyler.ny.us
District Attorney: 607-535-8383

Assisting in the investigation: the New York State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Forensic Identification Unit, and Major Crimes Unit, and the Schuyler County District Attorney’s Office.

Photo: Richard Seeley (Photo provided)


O-M, Watkins supers outline reopening plans

The Odessa-Montour and Watkins Glen school district reopening plans were outlined for parents Tuesday night at a pair of sessions designed to answer questions. One was conducted online and in person (in the high school auditorium) by Watkins Superintendent Greg Kelahan (pictured at right) -- and the other online by O-M Superintendent Chris Wood. Kelahan says the proposed 3/2, 2/3 scheduling plan at Watkins Glen is "off the table at this point." Schools.


Cayuga Health launches Covid-19 tracking tool

Cayuga Health has introduced a Coronavirus Tracking Tool on the Cayuga Health System website that includes statistical data which is updated daily, providing official numbers as they are released by the Cayuga Health Sampling Center in Ithaca. Business.


CMOG trophy awaits winner of Daytona race

The winner of the Aug. 16 NASCAR Cup Series race on the trioval/road course at Daytona International Speedway -- the Go Bowling 235 At The Daytona Road Course, a race originally scheduled for Watkins Glen International -- will win a special, one-of-a-kind trophy, produced by The Corning Museum of Glass. Sports.

Photo: The race trophy

A stunning sunset

The sky looking northwest from the eastern shore of Seneca Lake in Hector was a thing of beauty at sunset Thursday evening, Aug. 13th. (Photo by Liz Fraboni)

Work at Watkins Glen's Clute Park has begun -- the early stage of a $5 million redevelopment project.


Redevelopment project is under way at Clute

Trees were being felled and backhoe digging was under way Wednesday, Aug. 12 at Watkins Glen's Clute Park -- early signs of a redevelopment project expected to be completed around Memorial Day 2021. The project, on the drawing board since 2010, is a Downtown Revitalization Initiative project that will include a new year-round, 6,000-square-foot pavilion, a 1,500-square-foot bathhouse, outside showers, a 2,000-square-foot seasonal splash pad, and a 10,000-square-foot seasonal ice rink.

Photo: A tree is brought down by a worker manning a chainsaw at Clute Park.


Schuyler Legislature holds brief meeting

The Schuyler County Legislature met in monthly session Monday evening, Aug. 10 at the Human Services Building in Montour Falls -- and adjourned after 10 minutes. Legislators passed a handful of resolutions, received no comments during the public portion of the meeting (only two people, a county official and a reporter, were in the audience), and had no new business or administrator report. Legislator Mark Rondinaro did say a planned Festival of Lights on land behind the Grist Iron Brewing Company in Hector is on hold until 2021 due in part -- in the midst of the pandemic -- to a lack of both materials and needed Chinese workers who are skilled at constructing the festival, which incorporates traditional Chinese lanterns.

Photo: Legislature Chair Carl Blowers, right, with County Attorney Steven Getman before the start of the meeting.


Cuomo says schools can open, but meetings with parents and teachers are needed first

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (right) on Aug. 7 gave schools throughout the state the go-ahead to open this fall, but left the form of education -- in-person, remote or a hybrid of the two -- up to the individual districts. He also mandated that each district hold three meetings with parents by Aug. 21 and that each district meet with teachers, who have raised many questions and fears about returning to the classroom during a pandemic. Each district must also clearly publish its plans for testing, contact tracing and remote learning. The governor said the many decisions facing districts will be made individually by each, noting: "If it works for the district, the parents and teachers, it works." He said the infection rate in every region in New York is low enough to warrant this decision, saying "If any state can do this, we can do this." But he also said the state can't force students back into schools, nor can it force teachers who might fear for their health -- potential obstacles to in-person learning since "you need two things" for a school to operate on-site: "students and teachers."


Leadership Schuyler graduates Class of 2020

The Leadership Schuyler program sponsored by the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce graduates 13 students at a commencement ceremony held at Lakewood Vineyards. Graduation.


Joint effort gathering school supplies for kids

Catholic Charities and the Economic Opportunity Program have joined with area businesses in gathering school supplies, backpacks and headphones for students as the school year nears. People.

Dignitaries participated in the groundbreaking ceremony.


Groundbreaking marks start of Clute project

The redevelopment of Clute Park along the Seneca Lake waterfront was kicked off Aug. 4 with a ceremony at the park pavilion, capped off with a groundbreaking east of the pavilion, in a persistent rain. For story and photos, see Features.

Photo: Sign on display at the redevelopment ceremony.


No Sahlen's Six Hours at the Glen; race moved

The annual Sahlen's Six Hours at The Glen IMSA race weekend, scheduled for Watkins Glen International Sept. 3-6, has been moved to Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta that same weekend due to the coronavirus pandemic. The event, originally scheduled for June 25-28 at WGI, had been twice rescheduled before this decision to move it. WGI's biggest weekend, the NASCAR Weekend called Go Bowling at the Glen, was moved earlier this racing season from WGI to the Daytona International Speedway road course on Aug. 14-16.

WGI inks partnership with Sony Electronics. Business.


School Board, residents discuss coming year

The Watkins Glen School Board and a half-dozen district residents discuss the coming school year and the challenges it presents -- while they all wait for Governor Andrew Cuomo to issue directives regarding what kind of education will be permitted in 2020-21. Schools.


Wastewater treatment plant is operational

The joint Watkins Glen-Montour Falls wastewater treatment plant along the canal between the two villages is now operational -- replacing antiquated facilities in the two municipalities. It has been named the Catharine Valley Water Reclamation Faciility, a name suggested by Montour Falls Mayor John King.


NYSPHSAA delays start date for high school sports season, cancels fall championships

The New York State Public High School Athletic Association officers have voted to delay the official start date of the Fall 2020 sports season, cancel the fall regional and state championships and prepare to implement a condensed season schedule in January 2021 if high school sports remain prohibited through 2020. Sports.

Sign on the north wall of the Watkins Glen High School gym.


Local school mascots' status being discussed

The Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour school districts -- home of the Indians (O-M), Senecas (Watkins) and Seneca Indians (in sports shared by the two schools) -- are looking at the future of those mascots as cultural change sweeps America. Schools.


School districts devise state-ordered plans

The Odessa-Montour and Watkins Glen School Districts have submitted detailed plans to the state regarding school reopenings in the fall -- whether with full, daily in-school attendance, a hybrid of in-school and remote education, or strictly remote learning. A look at the two districts, with links to the plans, can be found on the Schools page.

Banners and flags fly from a few of the many parade craft on Seneca Lake Saturday. (Photo by Liz Fraboni)


Pro-Trump boats parade up and down Seneca

It was a warm, dry, breezy Saturday on Aug. 1 -- a busy day of tourism in Watkins Glen and a heavy traffic day up Rt. 414 to the east of Seneca Lake. And on the lake there was a gathering of motor-powered crafts -- well over 100, and as many as 200 by one estimate -- flying American flags and pro-Trump banners.

They took what organizer Eric Castillo of Horseheads said was a "leisurely" trip from the southern end of Seneca, up the eastern shoreline to Peach Orchard Point, across the lake and then down the west side to Watkins Glen and across to the waters off of Clute Park, where they anchored. The purpose, other than to enjoy a pleasant day on the lake, was "to express pride in President Trump and his political views," said Castillo.

Photos: A Trump banner flies from one craft; lake resident Tony Fraboni jumped on his jet ski and joined the parade from his Club Seneca cottage to Peach Orchard Point before returning home. (Bottom photo by Liz Fraboni)


Sunset View to host Give Back NY on Aug. 6

The local Farmer's Market will join with Catholic Charities/ Schuyler County Food Pantry in seeking donations of fresh foods or cash "to help those who have been experiencing hunger" during the pandemic. Features.


O'Hearn offers update on Covid-19 rules, regs

Schuyler County Administrator Tim O'Hearn (right) provides "fact-based information to address questions and to correct the myriad number of incorrect assertions associated with enforcement of Covid-19 orders." And he issues a cautionary note that Schuyler County's low infection rate "has contributed to either a false sense of security or a rationalization that because we are largely disease-free, executive orders do not apply to us." Such a conclusion, he notes, "is absolutely not true," adding: "The State Legislature in March amended the NYS Executive Law and in so doing granted the Governor extraordinary emergency power in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic." Column.

Palmesano rips Cuomo on new rules. Government.


WGI reclaims title of "Best NASCAR Track'

For the fourth time in five years -- and after one year without it -- Watkins Glen International has won designation as the "Best NASCAR Track" in voting in the USA Today 10 Best Readers' Choice online competition. Said State Senator Tom O'Mara and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano in a joint statement: "It's a well-deserved honor for track officials and staff, drivers and, most of all, the fans who help make The Glen one of the renowned venues in all of sports." WGI also won the honor in 2016, 2017 and 2018.


All quiet on the waterfront ...

Just a handful of people were present late Thursday afternoon, July 23 at Watkins Glen's Seneca Harbor Park and out on the pier. This photo -- with nobody visible within its frame -- caught the peace of the afternoon.

The apartment complex is rising on Second Street in Watkins.


Apartment building construction under way

Construction of the Glen Lake Apartments and day-care facility on Second Street in Watkins Glen, across from the Jefferson Village housing complex, was in full swing the week of July 20, with walls and floors rising. The plan calls for 34 apartments -- two on the ground floor and 16 each on the second and third floors -- and a 7,300-square-foot child-care facility for kids up to age five. The building, with a mix of one- and two-bedroom housing units, will have an elevator, a community room and a laundry room. Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services has partnered with the Watkins Glen Housing Authority on the facility, which INHS says "will be affordable to renters earning between 47% and 80% of the Area Median Income," with six units "set aside for clients of the Schuyler County Arc."

Photo in text: A construction worker at the building site.


Watkins Board resumes in-person sessions

The Watkins Glen Village Board me Tuesday night, July 21 in public session for the first time in months. It had been conducting its meetings via Zoom. Among Tuesday's highlights:

-- The board heard from Village Treasurer Rhonda Slater that the income derived from users of the new wastewater treatment plant has fallen far short of expenses, and that another increase in the sewer tax might be required. Mayor Luke Leszyk noted that major users such as the Watkins Glen International racetrack have been limited by the pandemic, and that once the pandemic ends, chances are the hike -- should it be adopted -- might ultimately be reversed. The new plant (the old one on the lakefront is now off-line) was a $32 million project that has left the village with a large debt in bonds and loans.

-- A construction trailer will arrive at Clute Park next week, signaling the start of the long-planned $4 million-plus project there that will include a new bathhouse, a pavilion with an events space and a cafe tenant, park lighting, utility improvements, landscaping, and an ice rink. Financing is through a combination of grants.

-- The board approved an amended Inter-Municipal Agreement with Montour Falls that changes all references to the treatment plant to its new name -- the Catharine Valley Water Reclamation Facility, which was suggested by Montour Falls Mayor John King. "We couldn't just call it the treatment plant," said Leszyk.

Photo in text: Mayor Luke Leszyk at July 21 meeting.

A worker cuts away part of the tree that fell onto the wires.


Fallen tree KOs power in Odessa for 5 hours

A large section of a tree in the 500 block of Church Street in Odessa broke off in a Sunday, July 19 storm and fell on a power line, knocking out electricity in the village for almost five hours, from about 4:30 to 9:16 p.m. NYSEG workers were called by the village fire department and responded quickly, cutting the tree away from the line on which it still leaned, replacing some wiring and installing a new phone pole crossbar to replace one that had been destroyed.

The street was closed to traffic, and had to be cleared of tree debris -- limbs and branches -- by village personnel before the NYSEG workers began the laborious process of fixing the damage and restoring power. Other tree-and-power line incidents were reported elsewhere in the county, as well.

Photos in text: The tree trunk break; a new crossbar was brought to replace one knocked down.


A promising outlook on schools, with an "if"...

Governor Andrew Cuomo (right) signaled promising news for schools in New York State Monday. He said schools will reopen if their given region is in Phase 4 of the reopening process, and has a daily Covid-19 infection rate of 5% or lower over a 14-day average -- which currently applies to all regions outside New York City. That status could change in some districts by the time the state announces its decision on each region in the first week of August. If a region's infection numbers exceed the minimum at that time, openings in that region will not be immediately permitted. Schools will stay closed if the regional infection rate is 9% or more on a 7-day average. "All our numbers are good," Cuomo said, adding that "the bad news is we have to keep them that way, and there are challenges" with virus cases spiking around the country.


Sunset on Seneca Lake

The sky, as seen looking northwest across Seneca Lake from the eastern shoreline on Sunday evening, July 12th, was a work of art -- here captured by photographer Liz Fraboni from her Hector-area cottage.


2020 Watkins Grand Prix Festival canceled

The annual Watkins Glen Grand Prix Festival has been canceled by Watkins Glen Promotions, the festival's overall producer, due to concerns about the ongoing pandemic. "We are turning our attention to our planning for 2021," said Festival Management Committee Chair Marianne Marts. Features


No NASCAR at the Glen this year; race moved

The NASCAR Weekend called Go Bowling at the Glen has -- because of the pandemic-- been moved from the Watkins Glen International racetrack to the Daytona International Speedway road course on the same weekend, Aug. 14-16. "This is an unprecedented time in the history of our nation," said WGI President Michael Printup. "The dynamic situation we are all confronting is impacting our daily lives and activities in unimaginable ways. While we are disappointed we will not experience NASCAR in New York this year ... we must focus first on everyone's safety and well-being as NASCAR seeks the best way to continue delivering a remarkable on-track product week after week."


Govt., school leaders seek reopening guidance

Area legislators and educators call on the state to give the go-ahead to school districts to begin implementing reopening plans. Schools are waiting for the state to issue guidelines developed through a Reopening Task Force. Schools.

Photo: State Senator Tom O'Mara during a press conference Wednesday at GST BOCES.


Chamber board taps Hardy to succeed Carroll

Rochester native and business development consultant Michael Hardy (pictured at right) has been selected by the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors to succeed Rebekah Carroll as the Chamber's Executive Director, effective July 15. Carroll is leaving the job after 10 years to start an accounting and financial services firm. Business.


Sheriff's Department holds hot-dog gathering

The Schuyler County Sheriff's Department offered community members free hot dogs, cookies and icy bottled water Tuesday, July 7 during a two-hour period at midday in front of the county courthouse. Sheriff William Yessman was on hand along with various other department representatives, including Digit, the lone dog currently on staff (while a second one is being trained). Sheriff Yessman said the gathering provided the department with an opportunity to give back to the community after a difficult period of pandemic-caused isolation and national social unrest. People were stopping by at a steady rate, and Yessman said it might become an annual event.

Photo: Distributing hot dogs and cookies under a tent.


Horein denied parole in murder of classmate

The man serving a 20-years-to-life sentence for the August 2000 murder in Watkins Glen of high school classmate Amber Brockway has been denied parole again. The state Parole Board has rejected a bid by Joshua Horein (right) following a mid-June hearing. Horein, now 36, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in April 2001 in the beating death of Brockway. Schuyler County District Attorney Joseph Fazzary, who prosecuted the case, opposed Horein's release, as did the victim's mother, Joanne Brockway. Horein first appeared before the Parole Board last October under a provision that permitted application by inmates meeting certain criteria, and was turned down then, too. He is incarcerated at the Fishkill Correctional Facility in Beacon, NY.


Limited inpatient hospital visitation resumes

Cayuga Health is allowing inpatient visitation again at Cayuga Medical Center and Schuyler Hospital -- with limited hours and under various state guidielines. Business.

Cayuga Giving Day campaign raises $147,000. Business.


Barriers mark village's pedestrian "Square"

Watkins Glen village crews on June 30 placed concrete barriers -- leftover items from the new sewage treatment plant -- at the intersection of Third and Franklin Streets, setting up a portion of Third as a "pedestiran friendly 'Village Square,'" in the words of Mayor Luke Leszyk. The "square," approved by the State Department of Transportation, will include the area from that intersection to the rear of the co-sponsoring Chamber of Commerce's building, located at that corner. To provide access to 3rd Street parking, the rest of the block was changed from one-way to two-way traffic. Features.

Photo: Concrete barriers at Third and Franklin Streets.


WGHS graduates 84 across 4 ceremonies

The Watkins Glen School District, which postponed its four planned graduation ceremonies from Saturday, June 27 to Sunday, June 28 and then rearranged them Sunday due to inclement weather, graduated 84 seniors that afternoon under sunny skies on the school athletic field. Each ceremony featured a speech by Valedictorian Collin Gaylord, along with remarks by High School Principal Kai D'Alleva and District Superintendent Greg Kelahan. Gaylord lamented the pandemic, but urged his classmates to "push past adversity, persevere and have grit ... It is our time to go out and make a difference." Grads.

Photo: 2020 WGHS graduate Madelyn Suddaby

Lions Club awards scholarships. Schools.

Co-Valedictorian Derrick Lewis addresses the Class of 2020.


O-M graduates 52 in sunny outdoor ceremony

The Odessa-Montour Central School District conferred diplomas on 52 students Friday evening, June 26 in a graduation ceremony under a sunny sky on O-M's Charles Martin Field. Speeches were presented by co-Valedictorians Derrick Lewis and Brooke Sikora. The salutatorian was Grace Vondracek. The ceremony was limited to 150 participants, in keeping with a regulation issued by Governor Andrew Cuomo in relation to the pandemic. Graduation.
Photo at right: G
raduate Karlee Dudgeon.

Odessa-Montour unveils its Academic Awards. Schools.


Brick Tavern Museum opens, has guidelines

The museum, closed during the pandemic, is following New York Phase 4 health and safety guidelines. Museum.

Left: Brick Tavern Museum

Alan H. Turner II, right, chief executive officer for the American Red Cross Western New York region, receives the $25,000 check from Hart Hotels president and CEO David Hart and Hart's wife Nancy in a ceremony on the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel patio.


Ice Bar donation to the Red Cross: $25,000

The Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel presented its annual donation Thursday to the American Red Cross from proceeds derived through the Ice Bar celebration held from Jan. 30 to Feb. 1 at the hotel. The ninth annual donation -- this time, as in recent years, for $25,000 -- brings to $175,000 the total presented over the years by the hotel to the Red Cross, which was represented Thursday in a ceremony on the hotel patio by Western New York Region CEO Alan Turner. Making the presentation was David Hart, president and CEO of Hart Hotels, who said the Ice Bar is "the event of the winter season."

Photo: Red Cross volunteers Donna and Frank Davis of Burdett were on hand for the check presentation.

Cars carrying O-M seniors circled the WGI track four times.


O-M seniors rehearse graduation, tour WGI

The Odessa-Montour High School Class of 2020 rehearsed Wednesday for Friday evening's graduation on the school athletic field, and then traveled to Watkins Glen International-- led by fire trucks through Odessa and Montour Falls -- to drive four laps around the famed racetrack. Schools.

Photo: Senior Tassia Garrison at Wednesday's rehearsal.

O-M announces Fine Arts Award winners. Schools


Schuyler Habitat completes house in Montour

Habitat for Humanity has completed its second house in Schuyler County, a structure in Montour Falls. The search for the next property has begun. People.


WGHS announces its annual student awards

A list of Watkins Glen High School academic and athletically related awards are unveiled, including several from colleges. The WGHS Rotary Students of the Month are listed, as are the Top 10 academic students of the Class of 2020. School Awards.


McIlroy, Kernan are Dub-G Athletes of the Year

Watkins Glen High School seniors Isaac McIlroy (left, soccer and basketball) and Kelsey Kernan (right, soccer and basketball) were named the school's "Dub-G" Male and Female Athletes of the Year Thursday night in a video presentation on the school website. Nominations and selections were made by WGHS head coaches, who were delivering awards to the winners at their homes after they were announced. Other honors:

Outstanding Individual Performance: Swimmer Thalia Marquez, who won four titles at the Section IV, Class C meet.
Coach of the Year: Nikki Chaffee, Girls Swimming.
Team of the Year: The sectional champion Girls Swim Team.
Best Record Performance: Gabe Planty, indoor 2 Mile.
Sportsmanship: Elliott Holland, Cross Country.
Unsung Hero: Bethany Rutledge, Cheerleading.
Leadership: Isaac McIlroy, soccer & basketball.
Excellence in Education: Sarah Swinnerton, swimming.


Odessa-Montour budget approved, 629-138

The Odessa-Montour School District's $16,904,975 budget and all propositions -- on reserves, bus purchases and the library -- passed easily Tuesday in write-in balloting mandated as part of the pandemic response. "It's nice to know the people, even in difficult economic times, still value schools and want to do what's best for the kids," said Superintendent Chris Wood. Three candidates ran for three School Board seats, with incumbent Jen Mosher (569 votes) and Kevin Murphy (540) earning 3-year terms, and incumbent Will Shrout (487) winning a 2-year term.

Hanlon teachers and staff, many holding signs, welcomed kids during the Summer Send-Off in Odessa. Family cars were preceded through the bus loop by three fire engines, sirens bellowing. Music added to the party atmosphere.


Elementary school kids get Summer Send-Off

Administrators and teachers at the B.C. Cate and Hanlon Elementary Schools in Montour Falls and Odessa provided a Summer Send-Off for students of those schools Wednesday morning. The kids -- forced out of classes in March by the pandemic -- were driven through the bus loops at their respective schools by their parents to wave goodbye to teachers and other school staff gathered there with signs and waves of their own. Recorded music added to the festivities. More than 100 cars drove through the B.C. Cate loop, and a similarly large number turned out at Hanlon. Kids and their families stayed in their cars, and the welcoming staff wore face masks -- all to comply with social distancing guidelines.

Photo in text: Hanlon teachers greet a passing student.


Watkins Glen school budget passes easily

The Watkins Glen School District's $26,478,877 budget passed easily Tuesday, 725-184, as this year's mandated write-in ballots were counted after a 5 p.m. mail-in deadline. Bus leasing and library propositions were also approved. Four of five candidates running for School Board seats were elected: Kevin Rumsey (739), Jessica Saks (725), incumbent Gloria Brubaker (700), and incumbent Kris Clarkson (697). Kristina Hansen tallied 363 votes. Rumsey, Saks and Brubaker won 3-year seats, while Clarkson will serve the final year of the late Kelly McCarthy's term.


Montour, Watkins will soon be using new plant

The Watkins Glen Village Board met June 17 in regular online session -- one at which Water Treatment Plant chief Martin Pierce updated trustees on the new Wastewater Treatment Plant facility on the canal between Watkins and Montour Falls. "Starting Monday," he said, "the flow from Montour Falls" will begin to the new facility. "A week after that, the Watkins Glen plant" on the Seneca Lake shoreline "will be taken off-line and the flow from Watkins Glen will be going to the new plant. Within two weeks, Montour Falls and then Watkins Glen will be sending everything to the new plant." The $32 million shared project has been under development for years, replacing antiquated facilities in both communities.

Photo: Watkins Glen Mayor Luke Leszyk at Tuesday's meeting, held as in recent months online.


Grover, Harris, Vondracek win top O-M awards

Odessa-Montour High School seniors Paden Grover and Preston Harris were named winners June 17 of the school's Harold Lynch Male Athlete of the Year Award, while senior Grace Vondracek was named Female Athlete of the Year. The Charles Martin Sportsmanship Awards went to seniors Sara Gardner and Derrick Lewis, while Cheianne Webster earned the Jim Anagnost Memorial Award. The selections were announced online after coaches had revealed team awards in fall and winter sports. Awards.


O'Mara to Cuomo: Open up the graduations

State Senator Tom O'Mara joins other area officials in calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to lift an arbitrary 150-person limit imposed by the governor on upcoming high school graduation ceremonies. Of the 150-person cap, O'Mara said: "I think that's wrong." Government.

Photo: State Senator Tom O'Mara


Independence Day fireworks postponed

The Village of Watkins Glen's annual Independence Day fireworks have been postponed to the Labor Day weekend -- pending approval at that time on such gatherings in the state related to the pandemic. Fireworks.


HEAL Schuyler offers history scavenger hunt

HEAL (Healthy Eating Active Living) Schuyler is partnering with the Montour Falls Library and the Schuyler County Historical Society to run a scavenger hunt for history in Montour Falls this summer. Features.


Gen. Schuyler statue sparks call for relocation

Schuylerville, located in Saratoga County north of Albany, may be the next home of a statue of General Philip Schuyler (in painting at right) after Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan ordered the statue removed from her city to another location, possibly a museum, because of Schuyler's ownership of slaves. Schuyler County is named after the general; Schuylerville is named after the general's prominent family. Schuylerville Mayor Dan Carpenter said he is interested in securing the 1920s-era statue, a focal point now as the nation grapples with the history of slavery and key historical figures' roles in it. Philip Schuyler led the Continental Army's northern forces in the Revolutionary War, including a victory at the battle of Saratoga, considered a turning point in the war. Schuyler and his family owned 14 slaves in the Albany region.


Phase 3 is here; restaurant seating part of plan

Five Upstate regions, including ours, are beginning Phase 3 of the reopening process today (Friday, June 12). This includes permitting indoor restaurant seating -- half of what there was before -- along with opening nail salons, spas and tattoo parlors. Governor Andrew Cuomo (right) urged caution, though, saying businesses must exercise extreme caution since the coronavirus "is still out there. We have to be smart." Restaurant seating will incorporate social distancing, and patrons (like workers) must wear face coverings, except when seated.

Schuyler man faces charges in stabbing

Gregory Cunningham, 24, of Beaver Dams pleads not guilty to attempted murder and assault charges after a woman is stabbed multiple times in the Geneseo Walmart. Attack.


Falls Harvest Festival canceled due to Covid

The annual Falls Harvest Festival in Montour Falls -- a gathering featuring local craft and food vendors, fireworks and live entertainment that was scheduled for Oct. 3 -- has been canceled for 2020 due to the pandemic. Organizers -- recognizing "a need to ensure the health and safety of our community as a whole" -- said it will return on Oct. 2, 2021.

Left: At the festival


A day of speeches, day of unity in Watkins

About 200 people attended a combination protest and unity rally on Sunday afternoon, June 7th at Lafayette Park in Watkins Glen. Speakers included State Senate candidates, a congressional candidate, a congressional representative, a district attorney, an Assemblyman, and two officers of the Elmira-Corning NAACP. People.



Photo: Wearing a protest message.


WGHS Class of 2020 takes tour of WGI track

With the loss of key parts of their senior year, the 2020 Watkins Glen High School graduates-to-be take up Watkins Glen International on an offer to drive the track. Schools.

Photo: On the car driven by senior Sam Smith.


How the D-Day landing must've been: A column

A harrowing look at the landing on a Normandy beach on June 6, 1944, as imagined by the nephew (Tony Vickio) of a man who survived that day, but never made it home alive: Schuyler County soldier Ernest Fillipetti. Vickio calls him "the bravest man I never knew." Column.

Ernest Fillipetti


Exhibit to celebrate locals' World War II involvement

A special exhibit at the Schuyler County Historical Society Museum will focus on the civilian and military roles of county residents in WW II. It opens Sept. 2. Features.

Left: Naval recruits from Schuyler County, 1944.


Chemung, Schuyler Arcs officially merge

Form a "newly unified organization," The Arc of Chemung-Schuyler, with administrative offices in Elmira. Business.


4th marking period Honor Rolls at O-M

Odessa-Montour Junior/Senior High School has unveiled its High Honor and Honor Rolls for the fourth marking period of the 2019-20 school year. Honors.


A selection of photos from Liz Fraboni

Watkins Glen photographer Liz Fraboni, whose work has graced these pages in the past, provides us with a new selection of scenes from her village and the surrounding area. Photos.


Cuomo OKs outdoor dining at restaurants

Governor Andrew Cuomo (pictured at right) has announced that outdoor dining at restaurants is being permitted as part of the current Phase 2 reopening in seven regions -- including ours -- effective Thursday, June 4. Outdoor tables must be spaced six feet apart, all staff must wear face coverings, and customers must also wear face coverings when not seated, the governor's office announced.

Protesters lined Fourth Street at Lafayette Park in Watkins Glen.


Scores turn out for protest at Glen park

Dozens of protesters gathered June 2nd at Lafayette Park in Watkins Glen as part of the nationwide movement that has led to massive rallies in dozens of cities. The Watkins protest -- with as many as 50 people or more at any one time lining the curb along Fourth Street, wearing pandemic masks and holding signs, built from a handful on hand at the start of the day. The event was organized by 2018 Odessa-Montour High School graduate Alec Betts. People.

Photo: One of the protesters along Fourth Street.

Thanks from organizer to participants. Forum.


The essential workers ...

Watkins Glen High School graduate Annika Wickham, a SUNY Oswego student, presents a paper she has written for a reporting class -- a look at essential workers in the Schuyler County healthcare industry in the age of the coronavirus. Essential.

Photo at right: Annika Wickham.


Board backs parade proposal, electric refunds

The Watkins Glen Village Board on June 2nd backed one of three proposals offered by the Watkins Glen School District for graduation day -- tentatively set for June 20. The proposal calls for a post-ceremony parade, each of 84 graduates carried in a stream of 84 cars on 12th Street to Decatur, and north to 1st Street. The trustees -- who rejected proposals that would include Franklin Street in the parade -- suggested a return run on Decatur to the campus, too. The school district is expected to announce its specific plans soon, including what the graduation ceremony might consist of.
The Village Board also approved a refund of $569,000 to residents for overpayments made by them to the Electric Department -- an overcharge due to what was described as "a glitch" in billing caused by an inadvertent change of one number in a complex spreadsheet. The overcharge, accumulating since January, was discovered by village personnel. It will be repaid to residents at roughly $47,000 a month from June 2020 through May 2021.

Photo in text: Trustee Tony Fraboni during the Village Board's online meeting Tuesday.


Hector Fair falls victim to Covid-19 pandemic

The annual Hector Fair, held in late July, has been canceled due to the pandemic. Said organizers: "After much time, effort and thought the Valois Logan Hector Fire Company has made the necessary, albeit tough, decision to cancel the Hector Fair for 2020. Get ready for the best Hector Fair you've ever seen in 2021!"


Odessa library bids farewell to its director

A small gathering was held recently at the Dutton Peterson Library in Odessa to honor the departing library director of 26 years, Gayle Greuber, who is moving to North Carolina. People.

Photo: Gift for Gayle Greuber


WGHS seniors pick up their caps and gowns

Watkins Glen High School graduating seniors arrived at the school in cars -- and stayed in them -- Friday night, May 29, as school personnel handed their caps and gowns to them. Graduation plans are still being formulated. Schools.

Photo: The school's Ralph Diliberto carries a cap and gown to a senior's car.


Cuomo changes direction again, OKs Phase 2

After New York State advised local officials Thursday evening, May 28, that May 29's planned Phase 2 reopening of businesses in the five Upstate regions would be delayed, leaders in those regions pushed back, criticizing Governor Andrew Cuomo (right) for the last-minute flip-flop. Perhaps hearing that -- and saying he was responding to data "reviewed by all the experts" -- the governor Friday afternoon approved the opening of Phase 2, effective immediately. Retail stores, office workplaces and hair salons can reopen for business after two months of being shut down to help fight the pandemic. The five regions include the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, Central New York, North Country and Mohawk Valley.

Local mayors were part of pushback. Government.


O-M budget hearing suffers technical woes

The Odessa-Montour School District's online budget hearing May 27 was interrupted by technical problems -- and as a result the budget messages from district officials was to be re-recorded and the questions received Wednesday from the public answered again, with airing soon on the school website.


WGHS unveils grad list, top two students

Watkins Glen High School is graduating 84 students, led academically by Valedictorian Collin Gaylord and Salutatorian Sarah Swinnerton. Schools.

WGHS Valedictorian Collin Gaylord (Photo provided)

Ed Clute, right, at Concert in the Park in Watkins Glen in 2016.


Ed Clute auditions for America's Got Talent

Look for blind Watkins Glen pianist Ed Clute on NBC-TV's America's Got Talent. Clute says he auditioned earlier this year in Pasadena and expects the performance to air soon. He couldn't say how the judges reacted or if he moved to the next round of judging. Clute, born blind, started playing the piano at 3, and began formal training at 6. He earned a degree from the New England Conservatory of Music. America's Got Talent airs Tuesdays from 8-10 p.m.

At the signing table: From left, ag property owner David Barber; his attorney, Mary A. Osgood; Max Heitner, director of conservation for the Finger Lakes Land Trust, and Robert Bensanceney, an FLLT attorney.


Development rights on key Skyline Drive ag land signed over to Finger Lakes Land Trust

David L. Barber sold the development rights to 518 acres of land (including a wide swath of property off Skyline Drive, south of Cass Road and overlooking Seneca Lake) to the Finger Lakes Land Trust Wednesday, May 27 -- effectively blocking use of the land for anything other than agriculture "in perpetuity." The Land Trust's mission is "to conserve forever the lands and waters of the Finger Lakes region." The $1.1 million deal concluded a lengthy negotiation. The purchase, financed by a Farmland Protection Implementation Grant through the NYS Department of Ag and Markets, involves ag land and forest on both sides of Skyline outside of Montour Falls, land to which Barber retains ownership. Land Trust spokesmen said the deal provides a permanent easement -- and a permanent ban on non-agricultural use -- no matter who might buy the land should Barber sell it.

Photo: Land Trust Attorney Robert Bensanceney holds a map showing the location of the agricultural land in question off of Skyline Drive. The signing was held on a porch at the home of County Legislator Jim Howell near downtown Odessa.


93-year-old leaves hospital after COVID battle

Cayuga Medical Center staff cheered May 26 as 93-year-old Margaret Melens of Horseheads left the Ithaca facility after a 43-day battle with the coronavirus. She is expected to fully recover while living with a daughter. Melens, a great-great grandmother, communicated with family during her hospital stay through Zoom and phone calls. Cayuga Health CEO Martin Stallone praised hospital staff. "It provides us all with a wonderful feeling of hope during this pandemic," he said.

Photo: Margaret Melens leaves the hospital. (Photo provided)

The Montour Falls Fire Department flew the American flag above Shequagah Falls during Monday's ceremony.
(Photo by Erik Holter)


Memorial Day ceremony held in Montour Falls

A trimmed-down Memorial Day service was conducted Monday morning, May 25 at the Shequagah Falls Park in Montour Falls. The event, planned by the Village Board with an eye toward safety during the pandemic, lacked the usual crowd (only a few spectators were present) and was without a keynote address, bagpipes, a singer or a school band -- all features in years past. Government.


Odessa banners honor Hometown Heroes

Thirty-eight photo-adorned banners, each honoring a village resident who served in the military, are the subject of a ceremony in Odessa. People.

Left: Sign on Main Street featuring Kristine Gardner.


Hammondsport man charged after chase

A 51-year-old Hammondsport man was arrested Sunday, May 17 and charged with Driving While Intoxicated, Criminal Mischief in the 4th Degree and Reckless Endangerment, all misdemeanors, and multiple traffic offenses after a chase that started on County Road 16 in the Town of Orange. Schuyler County Sheriff's deputies allege that Billy R. Adams failed to comply when they tried to stop him on CR 16, and that he led them on a chase over several roads before he struck a Sheriff’s Patrol Vehicle head on and then crashed his car on Sugar Hill Road. Adams was processed for the charges and subsequently released to reappear in the Town of Orange Court at a later date.


Rochester man charged after car chase

A Rochester man was arrested May 17 after leading Schuyler County Sheriff's Deputies and New York State Police on a chase on roads in Schuyler, Chemung, Tompkins and Seneca counties before crashing in the Village of Trumansburg. Deputies said the chase began about 10 a.m. on Rt. 224 in the Town of Montour when they attempted to stop a white 2012 Ford Focus driven by Aaron Mason Jr., 27, who instead drove away. The pursuit continued on until Mason -- who "during the incident ... struck" two police vehicles -- crashed and was taken into custody. He was issued several traffic tickets "as well as appearance tickets" for "various courts within Schuyler County at a later date."


WGHS runner Planty sets school 3200 mark

The senior -- running in the MileSplit Virtual Classic on the O-M track -- breaks the old mark set by Matt Gill. Sports.

Photo: Gabe Planty during his run for the record.


Missing man's body recovered from Seneca

The body of Daniel Manganaro, 27, of Horseheads, who drowned in Seneca Lake after his canoe capsized on the lake on April 19, has been recovered. A search by officials ended on April 25, but the State Police Underwater Recovery Team kept using sonar on and off. Additional sonar cable purchased by the Manganaro family helped State Police find the body 571 feet down on May 15. The body was recovered with the use of a remotely operated vehicle on May 16. "The family," said Yates County Sheriff Ronald Spike, "can now have some closure."


Auto, horse racing get OK, but no spectators

Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that car racing at Watkins Glen International and horse racing at state tracks can be held starting June 1, but without spectators in the stands. WGI has already reset several events to later in the year, but the ruling might clear the way for the Aug. 16 Go Bowling at The Glen NASCAR race, minus spectators. "You want to increase economic activity as much as you can without spiking the infection rate," said Cuomo of the ongoing pandemic.


Wine Festival is latest casualty of pandemic

The annual Finger Lakes Wine Festival, set for July 10-12 at the Watkins Glen International racetrack, has been canceled due to the pandemic. The next festival will be July 9-11, 2021. The event typically draws representatives from 80 wineries in the region, not to mention thousands of fans buying wine and attending music and culinary classes.


Program seeks noms for pandemic heroism

The Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce has launched “Inspire FLX,” a program designed to collect and publicize inspiring stories of actions undertaken by Finger Lakes residents in support of friends, neighbors and co-workers. People.


Schools to stay closed through academic year

Governor Andrew Cuomo (right) has announced that schools in New York will remain closed through the end of the academic year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Cuomo said there was no way the state could reopen schools and ensure the safety of students and teachers under existing conditions. He said any decisions regarding summer school programming will be made by the end of May. Decisions on reopening in the fall will have to wait because "that's a long way away."


Rotary session deals with county reopening

SCOPED Executive Director Judy McKinney Cherry, left, and Schuyler County Administrator Tim O'Hearn outline the rules as Schuyler enters Phase 1 of the state's reopening process. Business.


O-M addresses grades and material drop-offs

Odessa-Montour Junior/Senior High School has written to elementary and secondary school families regarding the pickup and drop-off of academic materials and how grading has been altered to meet the needs of these uncertain times. Letters.

Assemblyman Phil Palmesano and 2019 NYS Shot Put champion Zach Elliott in front of the Odessa-Montour High School.


State champ Elliott receives legislative honors

New York State 2019 Division 2 Shot Put champion Zach Elliott finally received a state Assembly Proclamation and Assembly and State Senate resolutions honoring him May 12 when he met in front of his alma mater, the Odessa-Montour High School, with Assemblyman Phil Palmesano. The award presentation had been delayed the year before because of scheduling conflicts, and then Elliott graduated and entered the work force, and the presentation remained on Palmesano's to-do list. The Assemblyman, also representing State Senator Tom O'Mara, was in Odessa Tuesday and while there contacted Elliiott and met him in the O-M school parking lot to give him the Proclamation and resolutions and congratulate him. Elliott won the title at the NYS Track & Field Championships at Middletown High School in June 2019 with a throw of 55 feet 6 inches.


Local schools in the Age of the Pandemic

School administrators at Odessa-Montour and Watkins Glen face daunting challenges, which they are meeting with optiimism and praise for teachers, students and community members. Meanwhile, they await word on state aid while putting forth budgets for an absentee-ballot vote that concludes on June 9. For a look at a number of school matters -- including the 20-minute lighting of O-M's Charles Martin Field Friday night -- see Schools.

Odessa Fire Chief John Jelliff, foreground, waves as trucks and cars pass by his house, horns blaring in birthday greeting.


Horn blasts celebrate Fire Chief's birthday

Horns were sounding loudly along Church Street in Odessa May 3rd as a caravan of cars and fire trucks passed by the home of Village Fire Chief John Jelliff, wishing him a happy birthday, social-distancing style. The parade of vehicles -- a surprise to Jelliff, who was seated with his wife Lisa on their front porch -- started at the Odessa-Montour High School and wound a couple of times around village blocks. Jelliff, who said at first he was 21, finally admitted to 46. He was delighted with the parade -- which included fire vehicles from the Odessa, Mecklenburg, Montour Falls, Town and Country and Burdett departments.

Photos: Sign in one car; Odessa Mayor Gerry Messmer and his wife Cathy joined the parade in their vehicle.

Fire Chief John Jelliff receives a birthday card from Peggy Tomassi, who stopped by with her husband, former Fire Chief Mike Tomassi, after the parade.

The rains came

A daylong rainstorm had area waterfalls roaring Thursday evening, April 30, including Shequagah Falls in Montour Falls (above). For some other photos of rising and rampaging waters, click here.


Hall of Fame postpones Jeter induction a year

The Baseball Hall of Fame induction of New York Yankees great Derek Jeter (right) will have to wait a year, thanks to the pandemic. The Hall of Fame said April 29 that Jeter, along with Larry Walker, Ted Simmons and late union chief Marvin Miller, will be inducted -- together with any new honorees next year -- on July 25, 2021. A crowd of 70,000 had originally been expected in Cooperstown, home of the Hall, for a July 26, 2020 induction.


Hubsch elected Historical Society board chief

Jean Hubsch of Tyrone is returning to the role of president of the Schuyler County Historical Society Board of Trustees. Hubsch has been associated with the Historical Society for 20 years and previously served as board president from 2015 to 2018. People.

Photo: Jean Hubsch (Photo provided)


Annual Montour festival and parade canceled

The Montour Falls Fire Department Festival Committee has announced that the planned 64th annual Festival and Parade of Bands set for June 11-13 has been canceled due to the pandemic. "We wish everyone to stay safe and healthy during this time," the committee said, noting that the tentative date for next year's event is June 10-12, 2021.

Left: At the annual parade.

Glen mayor: What do we do about recycling?

In the midst of the pandemic, Watkins Glen Mayor Luke Leszyk points to a big cost increase pending in the village's recycling program, and seeks input from residents. Forum.


Italian American Festival is called off

The annual Watkins Glen Italian American Festival slated for Aug. 7 and 8 at Clute Park has been canceled due to the uncertainty and possible limitations created by the pandemic. This would have been the 40th annual such celebration. Organizers were quoted as saying they hope the 2021 festival will be "the best one ever."


Watkins' Waterfront Festival is called off

The annual Waterfront Festival planned for June 20 at Seneca Harbor Park in Watkins Glen has been canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Features.


2020 Susan Award winner is O-M's Minnier

The Susan B. Haeffner Sportsmanship Award, presented annually since 2005 to an area high school student-athlete, goes this year to Odessa-Montour senior JoLynn Minnier (right), who Odessa File publisher Charlie Haeffner says is remarkable for her determination on the playing field and in life. Award.


Robotics team pitches in, helps fight pandemic

With a shortened season and many uncertainties surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, a local youth robotics team is rolling with the ups and downs -- and in the process is utilizing robotics skills to help produce protective face shields for hospital workers. People.


A letter and flyer to O-M district residents

Odessa-Montour Schools Superintendent Chris Wood sends a letter and a flyer to district residents outlining the current school closure situation and the district's plans and hopes moving forward. Letter.

Photo: Superintendent Chris Wood


Senko, Westervelt are Lifetime Award winners

Longtime high school coaches Dick Senko (left) and Scott Westervelt (right) have been picked to receive The Top Drawer 24 program's annual Lifetime Achievement Awards for their devotion to high school athletes and athletics. Sports


Seneca Lake wineries are getting creative ...

From unique virtual tasting opportunities to virtual vineyard tours, wineries along the Seneca Lake Wine Trail "are eager to remain connected to their wine-loving fans as well as those just looking to learn a little more about this world-renowned wine region," the Wine Trail reports, offering a listing of various online points of interest. Wineries.


Jelliff takes over as Odessa Fire Chief

John "JJ" Jelliff (left) ascended to the role of Odessa Fire Chief on April 1, succeeding Mike Tomassi, who said he was "stepping back" to a deputy chief position after 10 years in the job. Jelliff, the First Assistant Chief during Tomassi's tenure, lives in Odessa with his wife Lisa.


As the Coronavirus arrives, Schuyler Hospital prepares

Schuyler Hospital President and Chief Financial Officer Rebecca Gould talks about the hospital's coronavirus preparations and the community's support in an interview held on the day the first case of COVID-19 in Schuyler County was confirmed. Gould.

Photo: Rebecca Gould (Provided)


Hospital, Seneca View adopt visitor measures

Due to the increased risk to the elderly population for contracting COVID-19 (coronavirus), Seneca View Skilled Nursing Facility and Schuyler Hospital have implemented enhanced measures for visitors. They were effective Friday, March 13. Hospital.

One dead in Town of Reading house fire

The Schuyler County Sheriff's Department and New York State Fire are investigating a fatal house fire that occurred about 7 a.m. April 5 at a home on Church Road in the Town of Reading. The Sheriff's Office said it was investigating the identity of the victim and the cause of the fire. One 63-year-old male was airlifted to Upstate Medical in Syracuse for treatment of burns, while a 56-year-old woman was treated at Schuyler Hospital and released. Fire departments from Watkins Glen, Dundee, Tyrone, Montour Falls, Burdett and Beaver Dams responded, along with State Police and Schuyler Ambulance.


Alleged killer from Georgia caught in Elmira

A 29-year-old man sought for a March 10 murder in Augusta, Georgia was taken into custody by the U.S. Marshals Task Force at about 3 p.m. April 2 in Elmira, NY. The Task Force, acting on a lead that Kenneth Green Jr. (right) was hiding in Elmira, apprehended him without incident. Green, being held as a Fugitive from Justice at the Chemung County Jail, was allegedly a participant with three other men in the shooting death of Donell Graham in Augusta. The three other men have been caught and charged with murder.


O-Mara rips NY budget as a burden to Upstate

New York State Senator Tom O'Mara says the final state budget should have concentrated on pandemic-related issues, but instead burdens Upstate unnecessarily and unfairly with actions that have nothing to do with COVID-19. Government.

Photo: State Senator Tom O'Mara

Hospital setting up mask production site

Human Services Complex in Montour Falls selected; volunteers sought. Production to start Thursday. Business.

Fire truck accident

An Odessa Fire Department pumper was involved in an accident on Middle Road in the Town of Veteran shortly after noon on Wednesday. Government.

Chamber scholarship honors Harrington

The Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce announces its annual student scholarship, and names it in honor of the late Debra Harrington, who was involved for years in education. Business.


Schuyler, in effort to slow virus, urges potential visitors: Stay home

Schuyler County officials say that while they welcome visitors, they are asking any potential ones to "follow state and federal instructions and stay home until our nation defeats the pandemic." Government.


U.S. Attorney Kennedy warns about scammers

Calls COVID-19 online fraud schemers people with "an affliction" that "seems to have rotted their hearts and souls." His department, covering Western New York, offers tips about the scams and urges they be reported. Government.

Photo: U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy Jr. (Photo provided)

New COVID-19 sampling center opening in Ithaca. Site.

Recovery Cabinet takes steps locally

An Economic Recovery Cabinet composed of Schuyler County leaders "is taking proactive steps to create an environment of support for our businesses during this time of uncertainty," the Cabinet members explain in a letter on the Forum.


SUNY schools transitioning to online courses; CCC 'will remain open' for some classes, labs

The State University of New York Wednesday directed its 64 universities and colleges, including Corning Community College, "to transition courses wherever possible to remote instruction" or online courses in response to the Coronavirus threat. CCC said it is "developing plans to shift as many classes as possible to online and distance learning by March 19." This will continue until "at least April 4. The main point of this precaution is to reduce campus density and limit potential exposure to the virus while ensuring the continuation of the academic semester of class instruction. After March 19, the College will remain open" for hands-on courses and labs "and those with special circumstances that cannot transition to remote instruction." Beyond that, CCC added, "the current plan is to keep Perry Hall, our residence hall, open" and provide housing, food and services to residential students.

Non-essential travel ban takes effect

Governor Andrew Cuomo (right) on Friday, March 20, announced a ban, effective Sunday evening, March 22, on all non-essential travel, and prohibited all workers from reporting to their workplace in person, except those in essential services. The order excludes pharmacies and grocery stores and other similar businesses. Cuomo called the decision "New York on Pause."
Meanwhile: Steuben County officials on Friday announced two confirmed cases of COVID-19 -- one in the Town of Hornellsville and one in the Town of Bath. Both people were in isolation and being closely monitored.

O'Mara providing info, updates. Government.


Sharing Shed opens; item donations sought

The Barnie Parker Sharing Shed was made available to the public at noon on Saturday, March 21 -- a small building at St. John's Episcopal Church at Catharine Corners that organizers say will provide basic necessities free of charge, a potentially bright spot in the face of the pandemic. Items are needed, though, with donations deliverable to the shed at any time. Just drive up and leave them on the shed shelves. For a story and list of items sought, see People.

Photo: The late Clarence "Barnie" Parker, a longtime teacher and St. John's parishioner after whom the shed is named.

'FLX To-Go' shares info

New Facebook page by the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce offers an opportunity for restaurants, bars, farms and other sources to update us on actions, reactions and options in this time of social distancing. Features.

Watkins Mayor: We won't shut off utilities. Forum.

Speaking at the press conference were, from left, Schuyler Hospital President/CFO Rebecca Gould, Schuyler County Administrator Tim O'Hearn, and Sheriff Bill Yessman. Also speaking were Schuyler County Public Health Director Deborah Minor and Dr. Martin Stallone, President and CEO of Cayuga Health System.


Coronavirus updates: hospitals suspend visits

SCHUYLER COUNTY, March 18, 2020 -- The reaction of government and businesses to the Coronavirus pandemic continues as:

--All visitation to Schuyler Hospital and Cayuga Medical Center has been suspended with limited, specific exceptions. Hospital.

--The Town of Catharine Clerk's office and Highway Department are closing until at least April 6. Officials say taxes and dog licenses can either be mailed or dropped in the mail slot by the office front door, adding: "For other Town business with the clerk's office you can schedule to meet with Diane Sidle, Town Clerk, by calling 607-227-4632. For Highway Dept. business you can contact Marty Vondracek, Highway Superintendent, at 607-207-6925."

--Schuyler County Administrator Tim O'Hearn (pictured at right) said the County Legislature, "in an effort to support the local lodging industry, has granted an extension for remittance of room tax to the County Treasurer. Affected businesses are still required to file their quarterly report by Friday, March 20. Payment may be remitted with no penalty up until April 20. The Treasurer will be notifying lodging establishments of this extension."

--Seneca Physical Therapy in Watkins Glen has closed its office until April 1, noting: "During the closure, we will continue to be available for billing, appointment, insurance and general questions" by phone or email.

--While restaurants are closed by state order, takeout can be ordered, and is at various eateries.

--The Watkins Glen Municipal Building will be closed to the public from March 23-31. Utility bill payments may be made online, by phone or by mail, including through the entryway drop box. Village Court services are closed until April 30. The Village Police will remain on duty. Call 607-535-8222 for all non-emergency reports, or 911 for emergencies.


Public Health officials give COVID-19 updates

Hospital and Public Health officials, along with Schuyler County Administrator Tim O'Hearn and Sheriff Bill Yessman, provided updates Tuesday at a press conference regarding the coronavirus. For a full accounting of actions taken in the county, click here.

Beyond that, Schuyler County Public Health Director Deborah Minor said there have been no cases of COVID-19 in the county yet, although results of tests on five people are being awaited. Results on five others came back negative. She said that there have been self-quarantines, but none mandated. By maintaining a 6-foot distance from people, staying home, and avoiding crowds, she said, people "will help slow the spread of the virus."

And Cayuga Health System President Dr. Martin Stallone and Schuyler Hospital President/CFO Rebecca Gould outlined precautions being taken at hospitals in Schuyler and Tompkins Counties and for long-term-care patients in Schuyler. For more information, visit the Schuyler Hospital website here.

For a longer story on the news conference, click here.


Books, belongings picked up at schools

Students and parents picked up the kids' books and belongings from Schuyler County high schools Tuesday as the districts embarked on a forced hiatus that officials hope will end on April 13. Schools.

Photo: Books and belongings awaited pickup in the Odessa-Montour gym.


Village elections postponed; jail bars visitors

The village elections planned for Wednesday, March 18, have been posptoned on order of Governor Andrew Cuomo (pictured at right) until April 28 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Absentee ballots already submitted will be held until the election; there is no need to re-submit. In other news:

--Jail visitation at the Schuyler County Jail has been suspended "to protect our corrections staff and inmates," said Sheriff Bill Yessman, who added: "Non-essential professional visitors will also not be permitted into the jail for group meetings. In an effort to lessen the impact on inmates and their families, inmates will be provided with several free phone calls per week." Also: Sheriff Dept. Procedural Changes.

--All local Social Security offices are closed to the public, effective March 17, for in-person service. However, Social Security said, "we are still able to provide critical services."

--The Brick Tavern Museum and Wickham Rural Life Center in Montour Falls are closed to the public until further notice. Phone calls and emails are welcome at (607) 535-9741 or director@schuylerhistory.org.


IMRRC is closing; WGI postpones its opening

The Inernational Motor Racing Research Center in Watkins Glen is closing its doors and canceling its annual Model Car Show (see PSA), while Watkins Glen International is postponing its opening weekend, which had been scheduled for April 4-5. "We believe," said WGI in a statement, "it is best to take preemptive action out of an abundance of caution and for the safety of our employees, the community and our loyal fans." Rescheduling information will be provided at a later date.

All-Schuyler All-Star teams

The Odessa File unveils its 2019-20 winter sports First, Second and Third Team All-Stars from the Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour High Schools, including Co-MVPs. Sports.


'This will be a real test of everybody's patience'

Watkins Glen School Superintendent Greg Kelahan and High School Principal Kai D'Alleva sit down to dilscuss the coronavirus pandemic and its effect on local schools, which are closing until at least April 13. Schools.

Photo: Superintendent Greg Kelahan

Watkins Glen School District Emergency Meal Plan. Schools.
O-M offers curbside meal pick-up for students. Schools.


Schuyler schools closing their doors;
state of emergency declared in county

The three school districts in Schuyler County -- Odessa-Montour, Watkins Glen and Bradford -- are suspending classes to April 13 (later moved to April 29 and then May 15).

In addition, Public Health officials declared a state of emergency in Schuyler County, with Emergency Services Director William Kennedy saying the threat of the virus is imminent. "This declaration provides Schuyler County with the flexibility to prepare and respond to this rapidly evolving situation," he said.


Also: Falls Home officials said that in accordance with Health Department regulations, there will be no visitors allowed for now at that Montour Falls facility, with the excepton of medical personnel and emergency situations.

Cayuga Medical Center restricts visitors. Hospital.


Rotary honors Minnier as Student of the Month

Odessa-Montour High School senior JoLynn Minnier (pictured at right) was honored Thursday by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its O-M Student of the Month for March. Minnier was introduced by teacher Russ Gardner, who said the honoree is known throughout the school as "a hard worker" and "tough" -- attributes that have served her well in the classroom and in sports, where she has played key roles on the school's volleyball, basketball and softball teams. She is also Vice President of the Senior Class. Minnier plans to attend Corning Community College and pursue a Teacher Assistant Certificate with an eye toward becoming a Special Needs Assistant.

Schuyler Legislature Chairman Carl Blowers, right, converses with Legislator David Reed before the start of the meeting.


Land transfer request will get a closer look

A request by Peter Widynski of the Watkins Glen Housing Authority asking the Schuyler County Legislatiure to approve the transfer of a 14-by-200 foot section of land on the northern edge of the Jefferson Village Apartments property on 2nd Street in Watkins Glen from the county to the Housing Authority drew discussion at Monday night's monthly Legislature meeting. County Attorney Steven Getman ultimately recommended that the matter be taken up in further meetings to discuss the possible legal ramifications. Widynski said the unused land near passing railroad tracks would, if transferred, enable Jefferson Village to improve access to the waterfront from 2nd Street. However, one question raised by Administrator Tim O'Hearn was whether the land is part of Seneca Harbor Park, which would complicate the matter, requiring, among other things, state Legislature approval.

Photo: Peter Widynski addresses the Schuyler legislators.


WG's Vickio places 2nd in state in Hoop Shoot

Rachel Vickio, a 6th grader in the Watkins Glen School District, placed second last weekend at the Elks Hoop Shoot State Championship in Syracuse.

She was competing in the 12/13-year-old age category.

Rachel had reached the State Meet -- in which she faced finalists from New York's three other regions -- by winning on the local level, then in Penn Yan, and then in the state's Western Regional contest in Elmira.



Photo: Rachel Vickio with her Hoop Shoot certificate and medal.


Watkins Glen boys fall in sectional final, 63-60

The No. 1-seeded Watkins Glen High School boys varsity basketball team -- down 16-4 after five minutes of play, and behind by 19 points in the third period -- rallied but fell short March 7 against No. 3 Newfield, losing 63-60 in the Section IV, Class C championship game at SUNY Cortland. The Senecas ended the season with a 21-3 record. Sports.

Photo: Watkins Glen's Isaac McIlroy looks for a shot.


Rotary honors Rodriguez as Student of Month

Watkins Glen High School senior Miranda Rodriguez was honored Thursday by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its WGHS Student of the Month for March. Rodriguez was introduced by teacher Kelly Muir, who -- quoting several students -- described Rodriguez as a hard worker, articulate, and "an activist who won't back down." Muir added that the honoree is creative, musically gifted, confident, polite, and a mature communicator. Rodriguez, Vice-President of the Student Council, President of Music Club, a member of Diversity Club and of the upcoming school play, and an intern with the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development (SCOPED), said she is "an advocate for social justice" who believes "it is my civic duty to speak out against bullying," whether directed toward herself or toward someone else. She plans to attend New York University to study film and TV, with an eye toward becoming a director or screenwriter.

Photo: Miranda Rodriguez speaks to Rotarians.


Former Congressman Amo Houghton dies

Amory Houghton, Jr., who headed up Corning Glass Works (now Corning, Inc.) before his election to Congress in 1986 -- a moderate of long standing in the Republican Party -- died Wednesday at his Corning home. He was 93. Said current Congressman Tom Reed: "Washington still has much to learn from Amo's legacy -- a legacy of common sense governing through respected bipartisan friendship and political civility. A legacy where our country comes first and our political party a distant second. Our nation has lost a true hero, and our hometown of Corning has lost a great ambassador. He will be missed by all."

Photo: Amory Houghton, Jr. (Photo provided)

State Senator Tom O'Mara speaks at the podium Wednesday in the State Capitol. Assemblyman Phil Palmesano is at his left elbow.


Gathering proclaims that 'Local Roads Matter'

State Senator Tom O'Mara, Asemblyman Phil Palmesano and a group of state Senators and Assembly members joined Wednesday with a statewide coalition of county and town highway superintendents and other local leaders to call for increased state support for local roads, bridges and culverts. The representataives, from nearly every region of New York State, are in Albany this week for their annual "Local Roads Matter" advocacy campaign. Government.

From left: Sheriff William Yessman, Emergency Management Coordinator William Kennedy, and Deborah Minor, Schuyler and Yates County Public Health Director, at the Legislature meeting.


Legislature receives information on COVID-19

Schuyler County legislators, at their Legislature Resolution Review Committee meeting Wednesday morning, were updated by area emergency services leaders on the symptoms, containment, pharmaceutical plans and other aspects of the Coronavirus, COVID-19. The session, called by Chair Carl Blowers, was to provide the legislators with the best available informatiion going forward, should any county action be needed. "We've got to stop the rumors," said Blowers of reports embellishing facts and fueling fears. "We have to keep the facts in front of us -- get ahead of anything that might come."

Photo: Legislature Chairman Carl Blowers at the meeting.


Merit badge leads Scouts to board meeting

Nearly a dozen Boy Scouts from Troop 2674 attended Tuesday night's Watkins Glen Village Board meeting with Scoutmaster Rick Evans to pose questions to the board as part of an 8-week Citizen of the Community merit badge program. Among the questions asked, and answered by Mayor Luke Leszyk:

--Will there be an electric-rate increase? A rate study is looking at a "minimal increase" soon, and that in any event, "we will have to raise rates" as infrastructure upgrades are eventually undertaken.

--When will the new wastewater treatment plant be operational? Soon, phased in as part of "a progression, a procedure" that involves shutting down aspects of the old plant as the new one is brought on line.

--What will happen to the site of the old plant? A Request for Interest was sent out, with no response from developers; grants will be sought to tear the structure down. Then developers should be more interested in leasing the site for mixed use.

Photo in text: Boy Scouts enter the Village Board meeting.


Supreme Court denies Trappler review petition

The United States Supreme Court on Monday denied a petition filed by convicted murderer Alice Trappler for a writ of certiorari seeking a review of a June 2019 New York State Appellate Dvision, Third Department decision upholding her 2013 conviction. Trappler was convicted in the 2012 murder of Daniel Bennett in his Town of Dix home. Bennett was shotgunned to death by Trappler's ex-husband, Thomas Wesley Borden, who later died in Pennsylvania when he jumped in front of a moving train as police closed in on him. Trappler, who authorities said supplied Borden with the gun that was used, was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

Photo: Alice Trappler (File photo)

AllPark Solutions' Robert Montgomery addressed the SCOPED annual meeting at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel.


Coming soon: Finger Lakes Fantasy of Lights

A Chinese-style silk lantern festival once proposed for Havana Glen Park is now on track to operate from August through October on grounds owned by the Grist Iron Brewing Company off Route 414 in the Town of Hector. The festival, with silk figures -- some stories high -- affixed to metal frames and with colorful lights in a theme format, was announced at the annual meeting Feb. 26 of the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development. The meeting's keynote speaker, Robert Montgomery of the presenting company, AllPark Solutions, said the first-year theme will be Finger Lakes-related. Business.


Glen Baptist Church welcomes new pastor

The Glen Baptist Church, Watkins Glen, held an installation service on January 26 for its new pastor, Paul R. Brown. People.


Photo: Pastor Paul R. Brown with his wife, Rebekah, and their two daughters. (Photo provided)


Exhibit honors 100 years of hospital care

The Schuyler County Historical Society is honoring the 100th anniversary of the chartering of Schuyler County's first hospital with a speical exhibit. Features.

Kara Reese, Rotary's O-M Student of the Month for February.


Chapman, Reese: Rotary's Students of Month

Odessa-Montour High School seniors Hannah Chapman and Kara Reese were honored Feb. 13 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its Students of the Month for January and February, respectively.

Both were introduced by the district's Dan Batchelder, who described Chapman as "not afraid to tackle anything difficult" and as a person who has high standards "and will do anything to achieve them." Chapman, a member of the O-M volleyball and basketball teams, plans to become a physician or Physician's Assistant.

Batchelder said Reese -- an O-M swimmer and basketball player and, like Chapman, an Honor Roll student -- is "a tremendous leader in sports or the classroom ... someone her classmates look up to." She plans to attend Keuka College to prepare for a career in Environmental Science.

Photo: Hannah Chapman, Rotary's O-M Student of the Month for January.

State Senator Tom O'Mara, left, and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano pose with Rotary Student of the Month Travis Hill after the Feb. 6 Rotary Club luncheon. The two veteran legislators were guest speakers at the annual joint Rotary Club-League of Women Voters gathering at the Elks Lodge, discussing "The State of the State."


Rotary honors Travis Hill as Student of Month

Watkins Glen High School senior Travis Hill was honored Feb. 6 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its WGHS Student of the Month for February. Hill was introduced by teacher Nils Watson, who said the honoree "is a fine example of success at WGHS" and "a role model in the areas of work ethic, commitment and positivity." Hill, a member of the National Honor Society who competes in both soccer and baseball, "is a leader among his peers," said Watson, who has both taught and coached him. Hill plans to attend the Rochester Institute of Technology and study Computing Security.

Photo in text: Travis Hill addresses the Rotary Club.

This flying friend checks out the accumulation on a porch railing.


During the snowstorm ... the birds were posing

Maggie Field provided us with photos of birds at and near her feeders snapped during a Feb. 7 snowstorm -- a day when school was canceled and most humans had the luxury of staying indoors.

Photo in text: The snow was falling and the wind blowing.

Investigators were at the scene Wednesday morning following Tuesday's house fire.

Victims identified in Town of Reading house fire

Two people died Tuesday, Nov. 4 in a house fire at 3320 County Route 28 in the Town of Reading. The Schuyler County Sheriff's Department withheld the victims' names "pending positive identification," but a TV report Wednesday -- featuring family members sharing their grief on camera -- identified the two as 20-year-old Katlyn Kernan and her nephew, 2-year-old Duane Kernan.

The blaze -- the cause of which was still being investigated Wednesday -- was first reported about 10 a.m. Tuesday, with heavy smoke lifting from the scene. Tankers from multiple departments raced to the house, and parts of Route 28 were closed. The house is located near the Castel Grisch Winery.

Donations sought for grieving family. People.
GoFundMe account set up here.


Palmesano rises in Assembly GOP ranks

Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,C,I-Corning) will be serving his colleagues and his constituents in a new leadership capacity. Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay (R,C,I-Pulaski) has tapped Palmesano to serve as the Assistant Minority Leader of the Assembly Republican Conference. Gov't.

Photo: Assemblyman Phil Palmesano.

A sculpted, red-lit ice bar was a popular stop at the Ice Bar festivities at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel.


Ice Bar concludes at the Watkins Harbor Hotel

The annual three-day Ice Bar -- a popular celebration of food, wine and ice sculptures -- was held for the third (and this year's final) night Feb. 1 with hundreds of people gathering in and behind the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel. A portion of the proceeds has gone each of the past eight years to the Finger Lakes Chapter of the American Red Cross, and will again this year. Over those eight years, about $150,000 has been raised for the Red Cross by the hotel through this event.

Photo: Caricaturist Jon Haeffner was among the features at the Ice Bar.


Danks Burke launches bid for State Senate

Leslie Danks Burke visited seven cities and villages Jan. 28 on a "Whistlestop Tour" to announce her run for the 58th State Senate District seat held by Republican Tom O'Mara. Danks Burke, a Democrat, stopped in Penn Yan, Watkins Glen (at El Rancho Restaurant), Hornell, Bath, Corning, Elmira and Ithaca. "Our young people are leaving because they can't find a future here," she said. "Like everyone else in this district, I have a Senator right now who claims there are plenty of jobs in the Southern Tier if people worked harder -- while he gets a second paycheck from his side-job at a lobbying firm. I'm going to Albany to finally get us a seat at the table, because we need a Senator who sees our challenges here and will deliver." Danks Burke, an attorney, ran for State Senate in 2016, losing to O'Mara.

Photo: Leslie Danks Burke during a visit to Corning on her "Whistlestop Tour." (Photo by Benjamin Allen)


2nd Schuyler Habitat house is dedicated

Schuyler Habitat for Humanity dedicated its second home on Sunday, Jan. 26. More than 50 persons were in attendance. The home, at 306 Broadway in the Village of Montour Falls, is nearing completion. Volunteers are welcome to help on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Photo: From left: The Reverend Michael Hartney, Schuyler Habitat Treasurer; County Legislator James Howell; Marion Nicastro, Habitat Vice President; Bob Groll, Habitat President; Kayla Verderwreff, Partner Family; and John King, Mayor of Montour Falls. (Photo provided)


Mayor recounts his historic trek recreation

Odessa Mayor Gerry Messmer on Jan. 25 discussed his 2,000-mile trek last summer recreating a journey made in 1825 by fur trader Gen. William Ashley. The talk, before about 80 people, was held in the Odessa Municipal Building Community Room. People.

Photo: Mayor Gerry Messmer addressing Saturday's audience.


Carroll to step down from Glen Chamber post

Rebekah Carroll has submitted her resignation as Executive Director of the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce -- effective after "her replacement is selected, on-boarded, and trained," says a Chamber press release. Carroll, who joined the Chamber in 2008 as its Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operations Officer and was named President and CEO on May 17, 2010 (her title was changed to Executive Director in 2019), says she is leaving to pursue business goals that include her own accounting and consulting firm, to be located in Montour Falls. "I'm really excited," she said, noting that she had her own accounting business years ago and wants "to get back to it." She hopes to employ "10 or 12 people" in a business that also includes "strategic planning, document creation" and, possibly, medical billing. Chamber Board Chair Amanda Smith-Socaris said "we sincerely appreciate Rebekah's remarkable contributions to the Chamber during her time as CEO and Executive Director. We offer her our heartfelt appreciation and a blessing for her entrepreneurial success." The search for and installation of a successor, Carroll noted, could take until summer.

Photo in text: Rebekah Carroll (Photo provided)


Glen board OKs REOI for waterfront project

Approves Request for Expression of Interest, due back on March 17, looking for possible developers for a lease project on the waterfront sites of the treatment plant and Village Marina. Government.

Photo: Watkins Deputy Mayor Lou Perazzini at meeting Jan. 21.


Schuyler shares in NYS's annual REDC awards

New York State's annual Regional Economic Development Council awards, totaling $761 million, include more than $1.2 million for Schuyler County-based projects. Government.

Gabe Planty (in Syracuse University shirt) signs his Letter of Intent to attend SU as part of the cross country and track-and-field teams. Pictured with him are his brother Aaron, left, and parents Amy and Tom.


Watkins Glen's Planty signs to attend Syracuse

Watkins Glen High School senior Gabe Planty signed a Letter of Intent Jan. 23 in a ceremony at WGHS to attend Division 1 Syracuse University as a member of SU's defending ACC champion Cross Country team and the school's indoor and outdoor Track squads. Planty, currently No. 1 in the state in the 2 Mile Run, recently set school records in that race and at the 3000 Meter and 3200 Meter distances. A longtime member of the WGHS cross country squad -- including when it won the state Class C title in 2016 -- Planty said he talked with coaches at Cornell and the University of Buffalo, but felt SU offered him "the best opportunity ... If I can help them win another ACC title, I'd be really excited." He noted that he had always wanted a signing ceremony, for which "I'm grateful."

Photo in text: Gabe Planty at the signing ceremony.


National Honor Society adds 9 at OM induction

Candles play a role as the Odessa-Montour High School chapter of the NHS holds a ceremony in the Fetter-Brown Auditorium. Schools.

Photo: This lighted candle was part of the NHS induction.

Among those at the Gala were, from left: Ken Wilson, Tiffany and David Zinger, and Linda and Jeff Confer.


Chamber's Gala features auctions, awards

The annual Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce Winter Gala was held Jan. 18 at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel -- a gathering featuring a social hour, dinner, silent and live auctions, photos, character drawings, live music, blackjack, and the presentation of annual awards. Those went to Montour Falls Mayor John King (Community Spirit Award), Chicone Builders of Montour Falls (Leader in Business Award), Atwater Estates Vineyard owner Ted Marks (Lifetime Achievement Award), and Dennis Fagan, recently retired Chairman of the Schuyler County Legislature (the Max Neal Award, based on dedication to, and support of, the Chamber of Commerce.) Winter Gala.

Photo: Montour Falls Mayor John King, winner of the Community Spirit Award.

Left: The Harlem Wizards' Roscoe Johnson Jr. contends against the Odessa team's Curtis Harris for the game-opening jump ball. Right: Wizard Courtland Holloway entertains after dunking the ball for his team's first basket.


Harlem Wizards entertain crowd at O-M gym

The Harlem Wizards entertainment basketball team pleased a crowd in the Odessa-Montour High School gym Wednesday night, Jan. 15 as it played a team of local school-related personnel and interacted with the crowd, posing for selfies, selling merchandise and otherwise brightening a Schuyler County winter night. Profits from the event were earmarked for the school district's Parent-Faculty Organization.

Photo: The Wizards' Dwayne Simpson greets O-M team captain (and School Superintendent) Chris Wood at center court.


Annual Steps program kicks off in March

Schuyler Steps Out, the free community walking program presented by Schuyler Hospital, starts its 14th year in March. Teams must register by Feb. 14. People.

Erin Gruwell, left, the teacher who inspired and compiled The Frredom Writers Diary 20 years ago -- leading to a feature film and a documentary -- was on stage Jan. 9 at the Watkins Glen Elementary School with two of those 150 writers, Sue Ellen Alpizar and Narada Comans.


Freedom Writers' history, hopes aired at WGES

The Freedom Writers' history -- told through a documentary flim -- and the goals and hopes of those 150 student writers whose diary entries gained fame 20 years ago and led to a 2007 feature film starring Hilary Swank, were featured Thursday night, Jan. 9 at a presentation in the Watkins Glen Elementary School auditorium. With the Freedom Writers' teacher, Erin Gruwell (portrayed by Swank in the film) moderating the gathering, an audience of about 75 people watched the nearly hour-long documentary and heard from two of the original Freedom Writers on hand for the evening, Sue Ellen Alpizar and Narada Comans, in a question-and-answer session. Their themes included education as an equalizer, and expression as empowering. Their message, said Comans, "is one of tolerance and hope." Gruwell and the two writers also interacted Friday with Watkins Glen teachers and students. Gruwell visited the district last year, and said she jumped at the chance to return -- that she sees the school district as "family."

Photo: Freedom Writers teacher Erin Gruwell on stage.


Rotary honors Planty as Student of the Month

Watkins Glen High School senior Gabe Planty (right) was honored Jan. 9 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its WGHS Student of the Month for January. Planty was introduced by teacher Karen Armstrong, who said he is "curious," "compassionate" and "quite the leader" -- a young man "responsible in his school work" who is a member of National Honor Society and involved in church work. A state-level competitive runner, a captain on his school's cross country team and a member of that squad when it won a state title, "his most notable trait," said Armstrong, is his humility -- "putting other people before himself." Planty said he has applied to several colleges and is "patiently awaiting acceptance at Syracuse University," where he hopes "to further my academic and athletic career."


Watkins Glen Library appoints new director

The Watkins Glen Public Library Board of Trustees has announced the appointment of Tracy Savard as its new library director. Savard began the position on October 28 after twelve years at the Rakow Research Library of The Corning Museum of Glass. She has been a longtime member of the American Library Association and the Art Libraries Society of North America. She holds a Master of Library and Information Science degree from Kent State University, a Bachelor of Arts degree from Le Moyne College, and graduated from Watkins Glen High School. Savard says she is eager to replant her roots in Watkins Glen and is looking forward to a long and fulfilling career serving her community at the same library she grew up frequenting.

Photo: Tracy Savard (Photo provided)

Construction site across from the Jefferson Village apartments.


Preparation begins for 2nd Street apartments

Preparations have begun for construction of the planned apartment building-child care center on East Second Street in Watkins Glen. The facility, across the street from the Jefferson Village apartments, is under the guidance of Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services, which has said it is "dedicated to helping people of modest incomes find -- and stay in -- high-quality housing throughout Central New York." In addition to nearly three-dozen apartments, plans call for the childcare center at the western end of the complex, with parking immediately outside its doors, and with an entrance to a playground from the building's rear. A larger parking lot will be positioned on the south side of the complex.

Photo: Sign on the fence that surrounds the construction site.

Schuyler County Judge Matt Hayden, right, shakes hands with Mark Rondinaro after swearing in Rondinaro and Gary Gray, left, to four-year terms as legislators at the Jan. 2 meeting.


Blowers takes over as Legislature Chairman

Carl Blowers was named Schuyler County Legislature Chairman Jan. 2 at the legislature's annual organizational meeting. Blowers was nominated by Legislator Phil Barnes, with a second by Jim Howell. The subsequent vote was unanimous. He succeeds Dennis Fagan, longtime chair who did not seek re-election in November. Blowers' election followed the swearing-in of Legislators Mark Rondinaro, re-elected in November, and newcomer Gary Gray. Reappointments through 2023 followed of Stacy Husted as Clerk to the Legislature and County Auditor; Steven Getman as County Attorney (with Legislator Michael Lausell opposed); and Wesley Roe as Public Defender. Named to one-year terms were Gary Emerson as County Historian and Katherine Conroy as Coroner.

Photo: Schuyler County Legislature Chairman Carl Blowers.

Public Health names Employees of Year

Four women -- two in Schuyler County and two in Yates County -- are honored for their efforts in 2019. People.


Watkins board votes 3-2 to sell spare fire truck

The Watkins Glen Village Board on Dec. 17 voted 3-2 to accept an offer of $60,000 from the Beaver Dams Fire Department for the 2001 pumper truck that had been purchased from Gang Mills for $78,000 as a fill-in for a Watkins fire engine that was damaged in a rollover accident during a fire call in November 2018. The damaged truck underwent extensive repairs that took most of a year, and is now back in service. Opposing the sale were trustees Laurie DeNardo and Nan Woodworth.

The board also accepted grant funds totaling "not more than $415,700" from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for use in the planned Clute Park redevelopment -- one of several grants to be used in the project. In addition, the board set Wednesday, March 18 as the date of the next Village Election, with voting to take place from 12 noon to 9 p.m. at the Watkins Glen Community Center; and approved an expenditure of $26,413 as part of the county's new $350,000 radio system software -- with the proviso that it is a one-time charge and can be included in the next budget.

Photo: Watkins Glen Mayor Luke Leszyk at Tuesday's meeting.

Four Dragons Martial Arts students marched in the parade and demonstrated some of their lessons.


Watkins Glen holds its Village Christmas

The annual Watkins Glen Village Christmas was held Dec. 13 from 2nd to 7th Streets on the community's main thoroughfare, Franklin Street, which was closed to traffic that was rerouted up Decatur Street. The event featured vendors, music, a gingerbread house contest, cookie decorating, a chili cookoff, Santa and Mrs. Claus, a parade, and fireworks. The parade featured fire trucks, tractors, floats, and marching groups like the Glen Gators swimmers and the Four Dragons Martial Arts students. Features

Photo: Santa and Mrs. Claus were on the parade's final float.

Addendum: Winners of the parade: "Most Christmas Spirit" --Lakewood Vineyards; "Best Theme" -- Beaver Dams Fire Dept.; "Best Decorated Fire Truck" -- Montour Falls Fire Dept.; and "Judges' Choice" -- RJ Richtmyer Vintage Tractor.


Captain Bill's leveled; new structure coming

The old, iconic Captain Bill's gift shop at the foot of Seneca Lake was demolished Dec. 9 as part of the ongoing Downtown Revitalization Initiative in the village -- with a replacement structure -- a larger building, built several feet north and west, opening a view of the lake -- due "very soon," says Mayor Luke Leszyk. "They want it up and running by spring." The old building was, and the new one will be, part of a group of services provided by the Simiele family, including the Seneca Harbor Station Restaurant, the Seneca Legacy dining vessel, and the Stroller IV tour boat. Owner Mark Simiele said the new structure -- with expanded retail space, ticket-sale space, storage space and offices -- is expected to be "fully functional by mid-May."

Photo: Artist's rendition of the planned building.


Rotary honors Vondracek as Student of Month

Odessa-Montour High School senior Grace Vondracek was honored Dec. 12th by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its O-M Student of the Month for December. Vondracek was introduced by teacher Russ Gardner, who described the honoree as "well rounded ... active in the school community," and "one of O-M's top academic students." He also outlined her athletic exploits, which included First Team All-Star status this year in soccer and for the past four seasons in softball. She was also recently named an ESPN and Odessa File Athlete of the Week for her basketball exploits. She ranks third in her class academically, and is considering her college options, looking hard at both SUNY Cortland and SUNY Binghamton.

Photo: Grace Vondracek and O-M teacher Russ Gardner.


Legislature topics: Sales tax, internet service

The Schuyler County Legislature on Dec. 10 heard a report that sales tax is up, and discussed such matters as internet expansion in the western part of the county and vetting. Government.

Photo: Clerk of the Legislature Stacy Husted reads a Certificate of Recognition she presented to Chairman Dennis Fagan, who chose not to seek re-election after 15 years on the Legislature. His final term ends Dec. 31.

High-speed chase ends in arrest

A Beaver Dams man faces several charges after a motor vehicle chase through and outside Watkins Glen. Government.

The garage was fully engulfed and spreading to the house (right) when firefighters arrived.


Firefighters called out twice; fire levels house

Firefighters responded Friday night, Dec. 7, and again early Saturday morning to a house fire at 5190 County Road 14 outside Odessa, a structure owned by Robert Dupay, who called in the alarm at 8:16 p.m. The fire, which started in the garage before spreading -- and which rekindled around 1:30 a.m. amid high winds -- leveled the structure. No injuries were reported. The cause is under investigation, but one fire official said it might "have been a wood stove problem." The Odessa, Montour Falls, Watkins Glen, Mecklenburg, Beaver Dams, Van Etten, Millport and Town & Country Fire Departments responded, along with State Police and Schuyler Ambulance.

More than $21,000 has been raised for the Dupay family through a Go Fund Me page set up by Robert Dupay's sister-in-law. If you want to contribute, click here.


Morse, Kelly having standout season at CCC

Watkins Glen High School grads Hannah Morse and Taylor Kelly -- who helped WGHS to a Class C basketball state runnerup finish in their senior year (2018-19) -- are building some impressive statistics on the Corning Community College basketball team. Through the first 12 games (in which CCC went 5-7), Morse led the National Junior College Athletic Association Division III in Assists Per Game with 8.7. She also scored 14 points per game. Kelly, meanwhile, averaged 18 points per game, including a 40-point game (one point short of the CCC record) in which she tied the school 3-point basket mark with 8.

Photo: Taylor Kelly, left, and Hannah Morse while spectators at the WGHS girls varsity basketball game on Dec. 6.

Kids and some adults -- like the family of Odessa Fire Chief Mike Tomassi -- posed with Santa. Chief Tomassi's department stages the party each year.


Annual OFD Christmas Party delights the kids

The Odessa Fire Department's annual Children's Christmas Party drew a crowd of youngsters and their parents to the village Municipal Building Sunday afternoon, Dec. 8. Face-painting, drawing, cookie frosting, snacks, and visits with Santa Claus marked the occasion. Each child, after visiting Santa, received a present courtesy of the Fire Department, which pays for the gifts through fund-raising events.

Top photo: Hayden Price, 4, of Odessa had a snowman painted on her face.

Bottom photo: An elf handles some of the presents given to the children at the party.


Farewell to the Chef and the Wine Wench: Corneliuses relocating

Bill and Norrie Cornelius, celebrity chef and tasting-room fixture, are moving back to Ohio, the state they came from. Here is a look at the couple, what they've done here across 21 years, and what they're planning in the future. Farewell.

Photo: Bill and Norrie Cornelius on the front porch of their long-time Watkins Glen home.


Rotary Student of Month: Tristin Rose-Morley

Watkins Glen High School senior Tristin Rose-Morley (right) was honored Dec. 5 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its WGHS Student of the Month for December. Rose-Morley was introduced by teacher Kelsey Wood, who said the honoree -- a writer, editor, softball player, Varsity Club member, Food Bank volunteer, and employee at the Painted Bar Stables and the Lakeside Veterinary Services -- is "an exceptional student" and "an amazing person whose maturity level is beyond her years. She is kind and generous ... and has an amazing sense of humor, but never at somebody's expense." Tristin said she plans to attend SUNY Geneseo with an eye toward a career in veterinary medicine.

Lights adorn the base and shrubbery at the Odessa Municipal Building. Also lit: a tree planted last year near the road.


'Tis the Season at Odessa Municipal Building

The Odessa Municipal Building was the site Nov. 30 of vocal and instrumental Christmas music performed by students from the Odessa-Montour school district, with a sing-along by members of the audience on hand to hear them. Outside, the village's Christmas tree was lit, along with the shrubs and small firs fronting the building.

Photo: Musicians from the O-M school district performed at the Odessa Municipal Building.


Cayuta postal window closed; service limited

Services provided by the Cayuta Post Office were placed on a limited basis effective Wednesday, Nov. 27, the reason cited being an unspecified safety concern. The Cayuta site is located in a residence on the hamlet's main road, Route 224, with service until Nov. 27 accessible through a front door off the wrap-around porch.

On-site service was to be suspended, said a note posted on the door, although external mail delivery was to continue as normal. In the case of hold mail, mail requiring a signature, and packages that cannot be delivered, pickup is taking place at the Newfield Post Office.

No further explanation was available.

The Cayuta Post Office; the note displayed there.

Watkins Glen High School student Mattie Yontz carries two packages from the truck to the back door of the church.


Hesselson's makes a Seneca Santa delivery

The annual Seneca Santa program, which provides Christmas presents to nearly 300 underprivileged children in Schuyler County each year, on Nov. 22 received its annual infusion from Hesselson's of toys, games and other items -- provided at cost -- to be used as gifts. The Elmira Heights firm sent a truck with two pallets of boxed merchandise to the First Presbyterian Church in Watkins Glen, where the items will be stored -- along with others donated and bought by the program -- in the church's old second-floor gym pending sorting and then delivery to area families by regional fire departments on Dec. 24. Offloading the truck Friday: about 20 Watkins Glen High School students, a volunteer effort provided by WGHS each year.

WGHS students pass a Hesselson's package up the stairs of the First Presbyterian Church.


WG water system fixes carry large price tag, but not all at once

A comprehensive study of the village's aging water distribution network puts the cost of upgrading at $16 million, but Mayor Luke Leszyk says "there is no way we will put that burden on the taxpayers." Instead, the study will serve as a road map over a number of years. Government.

Photo: Mayor Luke Leszyk

Santa and Mrs. Claus paid a visit to St. Mary's Holiday Bazaar.


'Tis the season: Bazaars held in Watkins Glen

Two annual holiday bazaars were held Nov. 16 in Watkins Glen: the annual St. Mary's Holiday Bazaar at St. Mary's of the Lake Parish Center and the Saint James' Holiday Bazaar and Luncheon at St. James' Parish House. Various vendors were on hand at St. Mary's, which also offered baked goods and pastas, a cafe lunch, a cake booth, a Money Tree raffle and Pot-of-Gold raffles. Santa and Mrs. Claus also visited. The Saint James' bazaar offered a raffle, specialty handmade items, Christmas figurines, sweets, breads and a lunch including homemade desserts.

Photo: One of the items available for sale at the St. James' Holiday Bazaar.


Ceremony signals
re-opening of Graft

Family and friends gathered Nov.15 at the grand reopening of the Graft Wine + Cider Bar, an eatery at 204 N. Franklin St. in Watkins Glen. The facility, first opened in 2015 and closed earlier this year, is now under the direction of Chef Orlando Rodriguez. A soft opening put the facility back in operation last week. Business.

Photo: Chef Orlando Rodriguez at ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Smoke comes out of the house at 103 Maple Ave. in Odessa.


Fire call draws 4 departments to Odessa home

Firefighters responded January 1 to a fire at a two-story apartment house at 103 Maple Ave. in Odessa. When they arrived, they found two people on the roof who -- having been alerted by smoke alarms in the house -- followed an evacuation plan. They were helped off the roof, while "all other occupants were able to safely exit the building prior to the Fire Department's arrival," said a press release. Cause of the fire: an electrical malfunction. The fire was contained to the first floor, but there was heat and smoke damage throughout the building. Code Enforcement deemed the structure uninhabitable afterward, and the Red Cross assisted the building residents who were displaced. Firefighters from Odessa, Montour Falls, Watkins Glen and Burdett answered the alarm, which sounded at about 9:52 p.m.

Photo: Firefighters raise a ladder at the side of the house.

Matt Hayden, left, listens as his father, Carl, addresses spectators in the courtroom. Carl then administered the oath of office.


Hayden sworn in as Schuyler County Judge

Matthew Hayden was sworn in Dec. 31 as Schuyler County Judge before a large and enthusiastic gathering of supporters in the County Courtroom. The oath was administered by his father, Carl, Chancellor Emeritus of the New York State Board of Regents. For story and photos, see Goverrnment.


Legislature ends year, bids Fagan goodbye

The Schuyler County Legislature met Dec. 30 for its mandated year-end session, passing several minor resolutions and saying farewell to Chairman Dennis Fagan, who ended a 15-year run on the board, many years as its chair. He did not seek re-election. Said County Administrator Tim O'Hearn: "Congratulations and thanks for your leadership." Answered Fagan: "I certainly enjoyed ... working with my fellow legislators. We accomplished a lot." The legislators and half-dozen audience spectators applauded.

Chairman Dennis Fagan at his closing session.


One injured as vehicle strikes house in Falls

The driver of a car was injured Dec. 30 when the southbound vehicle went off the road at the corner of South Catherine and South Streets in Montour Falls and struck the two-story porch of a vacant house, demolishing the porch. The vehicle came to rest against a stop sign. The building, at 102 W. South St., has a January 2019 sign posted in a window that says "Do Not Occupy," citing state "fire prevention and building codes." The injured driver, not immediately identified by police, was taken to the hospital. Police believe the accident was caused when the operator had a medical emergency. Deputies were assisted by the Montour Falls Fire Department, Schuyler Ambulance, Montour Falls Code Enforcement, Montour Falls DPW, and Scotty's Towing.

The unoccupied house on South Catherine Street after the accident.


Rotary honors Gardner as Student of Month

Odessa-Montour High School senior Sara Gardner was honored Nov. 14 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as the O-M Student of the Month for November. Gardner was introduced by teacher and coach Greg Gavich, who described the honoree -- a three-sport athlete (soccer, basketball and tennis) and the school's Homecoming Queen -- as "a hard worker, dedicated," and "a leader by example." Gardner -- a High Honor student -- plans to attend college, play basketball there, and pursue a career in Sports Management or a related sports-based field.

Photo: O-M senior Sara Gardner at Thursday's Watkins-Montour Rotary Club luncheon.


DA's office pleased with Horein case decision

The Schuyler County District Attorney's office says it is "extremely pleased" with the New York State Parole Board's rejection Nov. 14 of Joshua Horein's first request for parole. Horein -- who pleaded guilty at the age of 16 in 2000 to killing Watkins Glen school classmate Amber Brockway, and who was then sentenced to 20 years to life in prison -- appeared before the Parole Board in October under a Lmited Credit Time Allowance provision that can trim sentence time. He can apply again in April. "The District Attorney's office is extremely pleased that Mr. Horein's parole was denied," said a statement Friday from the office of DA Joseph Fazzary, adding: "Amber's family is very thankful for the outpouring of community support on behalf of Amber" that preceded the October hearing.

Photo: Joshua Horein in 2000 (Photo provided)

County Administrator Tim O'Hearn presented a power-point explanation of the budget.


Legislators approve 2020 Schuyler budget

The Schuyler County Legislature unanimously passed the 2020 county budget nov. Nov. 12 -- a $50.1 million spending plan with a tax levy of $11,318,117, an increase of less than 2%. The tax rate is $7.17 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, a decrease for the eighth straight year. County Administrator Tim O'Hearn outlined the budget in a half-hour presentation, capped with a musical video tribute to outgoing chairman Dennis Fagan -- who has been on the Legislature since 2004, and its chairman since 2011. He did not seek re-election.

The legislators also approved a Memorandum of Understanding with the Village of Watkins Glen with an eye toward redeveloping part of Seneca Harbor Park and the site of the current wastewater treatment plant. That plant will be replaced next year by a new facility on the canal serving both Watkins and Montour Falls. The memorandum "sets forth a partnership to maximize the development opportunity" on the old WWTP site "and the adjacent Village Marina Bar & Grill site," the resolution read. The new WWTP is slated to go online in March.

Photo: Legislature Chairman Dennis Fagan.


Vietnam Vet LaMoreaux recounts experiences

David W. LaMoreaux of Burdett, a Staff Sergeant during the Vietnam conflict, talked about his military experiences Nov. 11 during a keynote speech at a Veterans Day gathering at the Watkins Glen Community Center. LaMoreaux, who was in Vietnam for a year with the Army, returned to the U.S. 50 years ago, on Nov. 11, 1969 after a tour of duty that included combat and earned him a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. Other speakers included Schuyler County Legislator Carl Blowers and Watkins Glen Village Trustee Lou Perazzini.

Photo: David LaMoreaux at the Veterans Day ceremony, hosted by American Legion Post 555.


Let's remember to thank Veterans year-round

Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,C,I-Corning), in his latest column, says Veterans Day (Monday, Nov. 11) "is, obviously, an excellent opportunity to thank our brave servicemen and women for everything they’ve done to keep us safe, but it’s also a reminder of what we should be doing all year." Column.

Photo: Assemblyman Phil Palmesano


A column from the mayor of Watkins Glen

Watkins Glen Mayor Luke Leszyk presents the first in a planned series of periodic columns about the many things happening in Watkins Glen. Column.

Photo at right: Watkins Glen Mayor
Luke Leszyk


Rotary honors Burrows as Student of Month

Watkins Glen High School senior Zachary Burrows (right) was honored Nov. 7 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its WGHS Student of the Month for November. Burrows was introduced by math teacher Christie Fedele, who described the honoree as "determined, dedicated, and creative," and as "one of the more respectful, kind hearted individuals I have ever met" -- one whose "perseverance, loyalty, manners and positivity shine through with everything he does." Burrows -- who has played football and lacrosse at WGHS and is competing this year in wrestling, as well -- said he hopes to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and wants a career in the military and in Computer Science. "I know I can make any of my dreams become reality," he said.

  Hayden wins Schuyler County Judge race; Rondinaro, Gray earn seats on Legislature

Matt Hayden (pictured at right) is the unofficial winner of the 10-year post as Schuyler County Judge. Hayden, currently the county's Chief Assistant District Attorney, outpolled three other hopefuls --Jessica Saks, Dan Fitzsimmons and Steven Getman -- in balloting around the county Nov. 5th. With all 38 districts reporting, the vote totals, which won't be certified until late this month, were as follows, along with each candidate's party affiliation:

Matt Hayden (Democrat, Working Families/Schuyler First, and Serve America Movement): 2,218
Steven Getman (Republican and Libertarian): 1,410
Jessica Saks (Independence and About Justice): 762
Dan Fitzsimmons (Home Town Law): 753

Meanwhile: incumbent Republican Mark Rondinaro turned back a challenge from Democrat Paul Bartow in the race for a Schuyler County Legislature seat in District 7, while Republican Gary Gray defeated Democrat Maggie Coffey as the two newcomers battled for a Legislature seat in District 8.

Mark Rondinaro (District 7) and Gary Gray (District 8).

Legislative District 7:
Mark Rondinaro (Republican): 343
Paul Bartow (Democrat)

Legislative District 8:
Gary Gray (Republican): 396
Maggie Coffey (Democrat):199

In other contested races:

Dix Justice: Kristina Vondracek def. Brian Eslinger, 520-404.
Catharine Town Supervisor: Rick Lewis def. John VanSoest, 226-202.
Cayuta Highway Superintendent: Thomas J. Beach def. Rocky Vail Sr., 107-64.
Orange Town Council: Norma Burris def. Darin Miller, 190-182
Tyrone Town Council (vote for 2): Edward Perry Sr. 237, Thomas R. Allen 219, Norman G. Knight 183.

Exhibit honors Burdett's Bicentennial

The Schuyler County Historical Society is honoring the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Village of Burdett with a special exhibit that opened Nov. 5, at the Society’s Brick Tavern Museum in Montour Falls. Features.


Watson will retire from Schuyler Hospital
in Feb.; Gould is appointed the next President

Jim Watson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Schuyler Hospital, has announced his plan to retire in February 2020. Rebecca Gould, Chief Financial Officer, has been appointed the next President by the Cayuga Health System Board of Directors. As part of the transition plan, Gould will step into the role of Chief Operating Officer on Oct. 14 and will assume the role of President in February. Watson was hired as President and CEO in Feburary 2016, after serving decades in hospital leadership roles elsewhere in the state.

"Working for Schuyler Hospital has been a great way to finish out my healthcare career," said Watson. "The support from the community is second-to-none here." Gould has worked at Schuyler Hospital since 2000, starting as a Medical Billing Representive and working her way up to CFO and Executive Director of Finance. She has a master's degree in Business Administration and an Advanced Certificate in Project Management from SUNY Empire State College.

Photo: Jim Watson and Rebecca Gould (Photos provided)

State Senator Tom O'Mara, left, and Montour Falls Mayor John King cut the ribbon at the ceremony marking completion of the newly reconstructed Mill Street Bridge above Shequagah Falls. Assemblyman Phil Palmesano is at right, with Schuyler County Administrator Tim O'Hearn next to him.


Ribbon-cutting marks reopening of bridge

A ribbon-cutting ceremony Oct. 25 on the Mill Street Bridge above Shequagah Falls in Montour Falls marked the reopening of that newly refurbished crossing. New York State helped finance the project through its BridgeNY program. On hand Friday were State Senator Tom O'Mara, Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, Montour Falls Mayor John King, Schuyler County Administrator Tim O'Hearn, several county legislators, and various other officials. The bridge is owned by the county but located in the village of Montour Falls.

Photo: A 1949 Ford brought to the ceremony by Tony Specchio (with Dr. James Norton as passenger) was the ceremonial first vehicle to cross the bridge.


WG swimmers win 3rd straight Section 4 title

The Swimmin' Women win six of 11 races in claiming the Class C crown.

Story on Sports


Photo: Watkins Glen's Thalia Marquez, after one of her four victories.

Members of the Lansing Junior cheerleading squad performed.


Tribe hosts youth football cheer competition

The Watkins Glen High School Field House was a busy place Nov. 10, with cheerleaders 5 to 12 and their parents on hand for the inaugural Schuyler County Fall Classic -- a cheerleading competition hosted by Schuyler County Youth Football: the Tribe. Cheerleaders from Youth Football organizations around the region competed, with judges scorng their routines. Participants included cheerleaders from the Tribe and from Newfield, South Seneca, Lansing, Whitney Point, Trumansburg and Newark Valley.Vendors were also on hand in the hallway, with a silent auction held in an adjoining gym. Auction items included team-signed New York Giants and New York Jets footballs along with various gift certificates. Proceeds from the event were earmarked for Tribe programs.

Photo: Schuyler County junior cheerleaders performed.

Raffle items were on display in the lobby outside the grand ballroom. Inside, tables were adorned in white for the occasion.


November Splendor raises hospital funds

The annual November Splendor dinner dance Nov. 9 at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel attracted 291 diners helping to raise funds for Schuyler Hospital. The event is staged each year by the Schuyler Health Foundation and the Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary. It featured auctions, raffles and live dance music.

Photo: Among the attendees were Tom Fitch and his wife, Brenda Warren-Fitch.

Kelsey Johnson in the lead role of Elle Woods and Alex Gill as Emmett, along with Moxy as Elle's dog Bruiser.


LCP's Legally Blonde ends its run at WGHS

The Lake Country Players' production of the musical Legally Blonde was presented for third and final time Sunday, Nov. 10 in the Watkins Glen High School auditorium. Features.


A selection of photos from Liz Fraboni

Watkins Glen photographer Liz Fraboni, whose work has graced these pages in the past, dusts off her camera and provides us with a new selection of scenes and closeup images from her village and the surrounding area. Photos.


Sinking feeling: Undercurrents roil 1 campaign

The pseudonymous A. Moralis, who has graced these pages from time to time over the years, feels compelled to weigh in on the problems afflicting the campaign of one of the candidates running for the position of Schuyler County Judge: Steven Getman. Column.


Getman laments 'rumors, innuendo' in campaign

Steven Getman, Republican candidate for Schuyler County Court Judge, distributes a letter decrying "derogatory rumors and innnuendo about my character and experience." For the full text of his letter, click here.

Photo: Steven Getman (Photo provided)


Candidates Night draws crowd, pointed query

A Meet the Candidates Night Oct. 24 at the Watkins Glen Elementary School, sponsored by the Watkins Review, attracted 150 people, well above the usual turnout for such events -- and the reason was clear: a compelling four-way race for Schuyler County Judge. One of those candidates, Steven Getman, was asked to comment on news reports about his work in Seneca County while County Attorney there -- the subject of an undercurrent in the campaign. People.

Photo: Steven Getman at Meet the Candidates Night.


Trappler loses attempt to appeal conviction

The New York State Court of Appeals has denied Alice Trappler's application for leave to appeal to the Court of Appeals. This decision, says the Schuyler County DA's office, effectively exhausts Trappler's state court appeal remedies. Trappler (pictured at right) was convicted in 2013 by a Schuyler County Court jury in the 2012 shotgun slaying of Daniel Bennett. Government.


Howard Cabezas starts engineering business

Schuyler County resident Howard Cabezas has opened a new firm, Cabezas Engineering, PLLC, specializing in mechanical, plumbing and electrical engineering services. Business.

Photo: Howard Cabezas (Photo provided)

A young diner awaits her plate of spaghetti at the Moose Lodge.


United Way kicks off its campaign with dinner

The United Way of Schuyler County's annual "Kick-Off" spaghetti dinner drew its usual large crowd -- and plenty of to-go orders -- Oct. 14 at the Montour Moose Lodge. The dinner raises funds for the $123,000 United Way drive that helps 22 local agencies. This year's campaign leaders are Rick Evans and Lydia Wickham.

Photo: Jessica Saks, candidate for Schuyler County Judge, poses with well-wisher Bill Haeffner at the dinner.

Left: Schuyler United Way campaign co-leader Rick Evans.
United Way Executive Director Peggy Scott.


Rotary honors Lewis as Student of the Month

Odessa-Montour High School senior Derrick Lewis (right) was honored on Oct. 10 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its O-M Student of the Month for October. The honoree, introduced by teacher Danielle Rumsey, is a three-sport athlete (football, basketball and baseball), a High Honor student near the top of his class academically, a member of National Honor Society and Student Council, and a volunteer youth coach. He plans to attend college (he is looking at the Rochester Institute of Technology, the University of Rochester and Clarkson University), where he hopes to play baseball and will study Mechanical Engineering.

Left: A young girl at the festival was dressed stylishly.
Various stands promoted Main Street businesses.


Beautiful weather for Falls Harvest Festival

The annual Falls Harvest Festival was greeted by sunny skies and moderate temperatures on Oct. 5 -- a great day to tour the vendors, food stands, book sale and information tents along Main Street in Montour Falls. Live entertainment was provided throughout the day, which concluded with fireworks in the evening.


Photo: Nate the Great from Ithaca delighted kids and adults with songs and juggling, including with fire.

More photos on Features Page.

The new village logo, left, and how it appears on a streetlight disk that was included on the plaque presented to the logo designer, Robert Kurcoba. There will be one disk on each of 167 streetlights installed soon in the village.


Glen Board presents plaque to logo designer

The Watkins Glen Village Board on Oct. 1 presented Robert Kurcoba with a plaque thanking him for creating the village's new logo. "It all started back in the spring when we were first ordering our streetlights," said Mayor Luke Leszyk. "The company making the lights, Spring City, advised that there was a 5-inch disk on each light that could have our village seal on it. The village never really had an official seal, so the idea of crossed checked flags or something similar was thrown around. Then we came up with the idea of having a logo contest. We advertised this contest and even sent requests to the school’s art department. We received about 15 or so ideas. One logo stood way out from the rest. This was the creation of our very own resident, Robert Kurcoba. The logo incorporates the race track, wine, waterfalls and our iconic Seneca Lake pier. This village seal will not only be on our street lights but is being used for our stationery, and eventually our village vehicles will carry this as well." Kurcoba's plaque reads: “Robert Kurcoba, 2019, Watkins Glen thanks you for creating the logo that will be the face of the village for many years.”

Photo: Watkins Glen Mayor Luke Leszyk, left, presents a plaque to Robert Kurcoba. (Photo provided)


Rotary honors Brubaker as Student of Month

Watkins Glen High School senior Scott Brubaker was honored Oct. 3 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its WGHS Student of the Month for October. Brubaker, nominated by four teachers at the school, was introduced by one of them, his uncle Sam Brubaker, who read comments from the other three. Those included observations that the honoree is "always prepared," "responsible and reliable," and both kind and respectful. He is president of National Honor Society, a member of Varsity Club, Ski Club, Student Council and the varsity swim team, and presents morning announcements. He is also a singer (heading to the NYSSMA Area All States in November) and actor (in school and Dream Barn productions). He plans to attend college (possibly Oswego) to study Broadcasting and Communications, with an eye toward a career as a news anchor.


Lewis seeks Catharine Town Supervisor post

Richard (Rick) Lewis has announced he is running for the position of Town of Catharine Supervisor in the Nov. 5 election. Lewis, Commander of the Odessa American Legion, has served twice as Town Justice. He is a West Point graduate with 20 years experience as an Officer in the U.S. Army. Government.

Photo at right: Rick Lewis (Provided)

Senator Chuck Schumer holds two 8.4-ounce cans, which are part of his drive to update wine container regulations.


Schumer visits Lakewood in drive to overturn 'arcane' rules regarding wine-can production

Charles E. Schumer, the senior U.S. Senator from New York and the Senate Minority Leader since 2017, stopped by Lakewood Vineyards October 1st to assure his support as he tries to overturn what he termed "arcane" rules limiting wineries like Lakewood from maximizing wine sales through the use of 12-ounce cans and through the individual sale of popular 8.4-ounce cans. This was Schumer's 21st annual visit to Schuyler County. He said he has visited every county in the state each year since being elected to the Senate in 1998. Business.

Photo: U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer at Lakewood Vineyards.


United Way receives donation from Cargill

The United Way of Schuyler County recently received $3007.51 from Cargill. The money was raised through an internal auction held at the Watkins Glen plant. Shown at right: Cargill employees Keith Klug, left, and Diana Warn turn the money over to United Way of Schuyler County President John Franzese. Any donations to United Way may be sent to PO Box 270, Watkins Glen, NY 14891.


Reed: Collapse was caused by pneumonia

Congressman Tom Reed says his collapse Sept 19 was caused by "a previously undiagnosed case of pneumonia" and that "I will return to work on (the following) Monday." Reed was treated at George Washington University Hospital after collapsing and falling in the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, D.C. while awaiting an interview on the Fox Business Channel shortly after 1:30 p.m. Reed, who represents New York's 23rd Congressional District, had a health scare in 2009, just before joining the House of Representatives, when a pulmonary embolism put him in the hospital. He soon changed his lifestyle, opting for gastric bypass surgery that significantly reduced his weight in 2013.

Photo: Reed on a gurney Thursday (Photo by CQ Roll Call)


Firefighters extinguish blaze at village house

A residential fire with a person trapped inside ended well on Sept. 19 in Watkins Glen with "the subject rescued without incident," according to a Facebook post on the Watkins Glen Fire Department's Facebook page. The South Monroe Street fire -- at "a multiple dwelling" -- featured flames "from windows on the second floor," but was quickly extinguished. Fire units from Montour Falls, Burdett, Odessa and Beaver Dams assisted. The Schuyler Sheriff's Office, State Police and Village Police were also on hand.

United Way campaign co-chair Rick Evans (left, who is serving with his wife Lydia Wickham) and Marie Bailey Award winner Mike Donnelly (right) were on hand at the luncheon.


United Way holds annual luncheon at Moose

The United Way of Schuyler County's annual luncheon -- where it meets with representatives of the 22 agencies it serves -- was held Wednesday, Sept. 18 at the Montour Moose Lodge. The annual Marie Bailey Award -- presented to an individual or group that strongly supports United Way efforts -- was presented to Mike Donnelly, until recently the head of the Moose Lodge. As it has for many years, the campaign Kickoff Dinner will be held at the Moose Lodge, this time on Monday, Oct. 14 beginning at 5 p.m. The fund-raising goal this year is $123,000.

The Odessa Fire Department's new Rescue Pumper after its arrival Tuesday. It is replacing a 30-year-old vehicle.


Odessa's Fire Dept. receives its new truck

The Odessa Fire Department's new Rescue Pumper, HE-23, was delivered Sept. 17 -- a $756,000 vehicle ordered last year after gaining approval in a village referendum. The truck -- 33 feet long, 11 feet high and capable of carrying 1,000 gallons of water -- was driven from Syracuse by Jeff Fortino of CNY Emergency Vehicles, dealer for Ferrara Fire Apparatus, which built the vehicle in its Holden, Louisiana plant. A total of $200,000 of the price was covered by fire department reserve funds; the rest was bonded at "no fire tax increase to the community," said Fire Chief Mike Tomassi. The truck will be activated in a week or two, at which time its predecessor -- the old HE-23, which dates back to 1989 -- will be removed from Odessa service and sent to Millport, which has bought it.

Photo: The windshield and grill on the new Rescue Pumper.


Morse sets CCC soccer mark with 7-goal game

Watkins Glen High School graduate Hannah Morse, a freshman soccer player at Corning Community College, set a school single-game goal-scoring record Sept. 15 when she put seven shots in the net as her team defeated Jefferson Community College 7-1 in Watertown. She now has 13 goals in six games. CCC is 3-3.

Photo: Hannah Morse


Eslinger seeking Town of Dix Justice post

Democrat Brian T. Eslinger has announced he is running for the position of Town of Dix Justice in the Nov. 5 election. Eslinger, a member of the Watkins Glen Planning Board, narrowly lost when he ran for the Schuyler County Legislature last year. He lives in Watkins Glen. Government.

Photo at right: Brian T. Eslinger (Provided)


Rotary honors Garrison as Student of Month

Odessa-Montour High School senior Tassia Garrison was honored Sept. 12 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its O-M Student of the Month for September. Garrison was introduced by teacher Holly Campbell, who said the honoree -- who recenlty returned from a year in the Netherlands as a Rotary Exchange student -- is "a great role model" with "a zest for learning new things." Garrison, a member of Student Council and National Honor Society and president of her class, and who plays basketball -- plans to study biology in college with an eye toward becoming a dentist. She is considering attending SUNY Buffalo, Fordham or Boston University.

Photo: Tassia Garrison at the Rotary Club's luncheon.


Hayden receives nomination from SAM party

Schuyler County Judge candidate Matt Hayden -- already running with nominations from the Democratic, Schuyler First and Working Families parties, has received the nomination of the Serve America Movement party. According to a press release from the Hayden campaign, "The SAM party takes a centrist approach" and "believes in supporting honest, character-based candidates who demonstrate that they are the best candidate for the job." It also opposes "extremist candidates who seek to win upon engaging in underhanded or unethical campaigning."

Photo: Matt Hayden (Photo provided)

Vintage and sports cars paraded up Franklin Street at the festival.


Annual Grand Prix Festival held in Watkins

The village of Watkins Glen was alive with cars, motorcycles, vendors and spectators Sept. 6 at the 26th annual Grand Prix Festival. For story and photos, see Features.

Watkins Glen High School grad Hannah Morse, a CCC freshman, sends a shot toward the Erie net.


CCC soccer team has 4 players from Schuyler

Four of the Corning Community College women's varsity soccer team's players are graduates of Schuyler County schools -- two each from Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour. They all started Sept. 7 in a game against Erie Community College. Sports.

WGHS senior Isaac McIlroy at the Rotary luncheon.


Rotary honors McIlroy as Student of Month

Watkins Glen High School senior Isaac McIlroy was honored Sept. 5th by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its Student of the Month for September. McIlroy was introduced by WGHS coach Ralph Diliberto, who said the honoree is someone who "academically and athletically always goes above and beyond," is "a model citizen" and "has a bright future." McIlroy, who competes in soccer, basketball and baseball, said he hopes to play basketball in college, where he will study psychology and criminal justice with an eye toward applying to the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va., for a career as a Special Agent.


High-speed police chase ends in man's arrest

A high-speed police chase that started in Montour Falls Sept. 4th and ended in Monterey resulted in the arrest of a Beaver Dams man, Nicholas S. Ingersoll, 24, on multiple charges. Ingersoll, arraigned in Montour Falls Village Court and remanded to jail in lieu of bail, faces counts that include Unlawfully Fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle, Reckless Endangerment, Criminal Mischief, Aggravated Unlicensed Operation, Reckless Driving, and Unlawful Manufacture of Methamphetamine. People.


Glen water story prompts mayoral response

An environmental story regarding water quality in Watkins Glen and Montour Falls prompts an assurance and firm response from Watkins Mayor Luke Leszyk at the beginning of the Sept. 3rd Village Board meeting. Government.


Photo: Watkins Glen Mayor Luke Leszyk at Tuesday's meeting.


Coffey's squad places 3rd, qualifies for Tokyo

A United States Women's Eight rowing team including former Watkins Glen resident Olivia Coffey, 30, placed third Sept. 1 at the World Rowing Championships in Linz, Austria. The U.S. -- which won the event last year -- qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics along with squads from four other countries in the race. New Zealand won the finale in 5:56.91, with Australia second at 5:59.63 and the U.S. third in 6:01.93. This marked the eighth World Championships competition for Coffey, dating back to an under-23 event in 2009. She has earned four career gold medals. She was a student-athlete at Watkins Glen schools through 9th grade before attending Philips Academy and ultimately Harvard University. She earned her MBA degree from Cambridge University last year, helping that school's team to victory in The Boat Race over rival Oxford. Her parents Calvin and Maggie live in the Watkins Glen area, with her mother currently seeking a seat on the Schuyler County Legislature.

Photo: Olivia Coffey (File photo)


O-M grad Zimmer nets Fulbright award for Iceland research, study

Odessa-Montour 2009 graduate Adam Netzer Zimmer (left) receives a Fulbright-National Science Foundation Arctic Research Grant for year-long study as part of his Ph.D. program. People.


Finger Lakes named Best Wine Region in poll

The Finger Lakes has -- for the second straight year -- been named America's "Best Wine Region" in a USA Today 10 Best online competition. The region, which has 140 wineries, four wine trails and 9,300 acres of vineyards, beat four finalists from California and one each from Michigan (the runnerup Leelanau Peninsula), Arizona, Washington, Virginia and Texas. "This recognition speaks to the dedication of the owners, tasting room teams, winemakers and vineyard managers," said Carmela Barbagallo, executive director of the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance.


Community leader, coach Bob Lee dies at 74

Robert H. Lee, former Watkins Glen policeman, former village mayor, former high school football coach at both Watkins Glen and Odessa, former coach of the semipro Southern Tier Warriors football team, and a retired longtime Recreation Therapist at the Willard and Elmira Psychiatric Centers, died Aug. 26 at his Watkins Glen home at the age of 74. He had been in declining health. Calling hours are Thursday, with a funeral service on Friday. Obituaries.


Board rejects an athletic Field name change

The Watkins Glen School Board on Aug. 26 rejected a request that the school's Alumni Field be renamed in honor of former Coach Bob Lee, who died that morning at the age of 74. The request came from football player Dominick Fazzary, who read a message to the board from his father, football assistant coach Jeff Fazzary. Board President Gloria Brubaker said a name change is against "school practice," adding that the rejection "doesn't diminish our respect." Schools.

Photo: Dominick Fazzary at the Board meeting.

A Cruise In For Christ car show was held on Odessa Wesleyan Church property at the west end of the village.


Autos take center stage at church Cruise In

Dozens of classic automobiles were featured Aug. 24 at a Cruise In For Christ car show sponsored by the Odessa Wesleyan Church on church property at the west end of Odessa. The event featured a chicken barbecue, other foods, vendors, state police and Odessa Fire Dept. demonstrations, Moe Knows Ice Cream, and a K-9 display by officers of the New York Environmental Conservation Police.

Photo: Conservation Police Officer B.N. Armstrong with his dog.

Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, left, and Congressman Tom Reed share a laugh at the Aug. 22 luncheon meeting.


Reed, Palmesano featured at Glen lunch

Congressman Tom Reed and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano were the guest speakers Aug. 22 at a joint meeting of the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club and League of Women Voters at the Watkins Elk Lodge. Both men reported to a packed dining hall about ongoing trends and concerns in the state and U.S.

Photos: Congressman Tom Reed, left, and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (inset) at Thursday's luncheon.

Present at the Aug. 22 Rotary Club /League luncheon were the club's new Rotary exchange students: Nozomi Miyoshi of Japan, left, who will attend Odessa-Montour High School, and Kajsa Rolfes of Sweden, who will attend Watkins Glen High School.


Odessa librarian honored for her long service

Gayle Greuber, who has served the Dutton S. Peterson Library in Odessa for 30 years, including more than 25 as its librarian, was honored Aug. 22 at a picnic behind the library that also featured a presentation by Tanglewood Nature Center (see photo below). Greuber was presented a plaque from Odessa Deputy Mayor Tom Letteer proclaiming it Gayle Greuber Day in Odessa, while Library Board president Bonnie Schweizer surprised Greuber by announcing the honoree has won a Southern Tier Library System Sustainable Practices Award, to be presented in October. "Not many people can say they've enjoyed coming to work every day," said Greuber, who has no plans to retire.

Photo: Librarian Gayle Greuber receives a proclamation from Odessa Deputy Mayor Tom Letteer.

Kids got a chance to see a number of Tanglewood Nature Center creatures on Aug. 22 -- a feature presentation at a free Summer Picnic behind the Dutton S. Peterson Library in Odessa. In the photo, Tanglewood's Ian McLaughlin holds a Bearded Dragon.

Village trustee Lou Perazzini makes a point during the meeting.


Watkins Village Board approves one-year moratorium on short-term rental applications

The Watkins Glen Village Board on Aug. 20 unanimously appoved a Local Law that provides a one-year moratorium on applications for short-term rentals in the village. The move came after a public hearing and upon the request of the Planning Board, which had handled dozens of applications under a plan adopted by the village to regulate the growing trend.

The moratorium will take effect after the Local Law is approved by the state, which officials said should take about 30 days. Any applications filed before that time will be processed, the board said.

Mayor Luke Leszyk said the move gives the village time to "get a handle" on the process "and do some density studies" that might limit the number of such rentals in a particular block or area. One area, it was noted -- on South Madison and South Monroe Streets between 6th and 8th Streets -- now has nine such rentals advertised to accommodate 78 people. One resident hoped the density studies might lead to reestablishment of a residential character in that neighborhood.

Photo: Watkins Mayor Luke Leszyk at Aug. 20 meeting.

Wastewater treatment plant project proceeding. Project.


Addy Coolican wins talent competition at Fair

Watkins Glen resident Addison "Addy" Coolican, a student in the Watkins Glen School District, won first place among performers 12 years and under at a talent show Aug. 17 at the Steuben County Fair in Bath. She won for her performance of the song "Don't Rain on My Parade." The contest was held on the stage in front of the fairgrounds grandstand. Addy is known locally for her rendition of the National Anthem at occasional home basketball games at WGHS.

Photo: Addy Coolican with her trophy. (Photo provided by her grandfather, Mike Coolican)

  Kids' Jungle Book concludes its run at WGHS

A kids' presentation of Disney's Jungle Book ended its two-night run Aug. 17 on the stage of the Watkins Glen High School Auditorium. The play for 6-12 year olds boasted a cast of more than 30 kids, directed by Kim Laursen and Kelsey Johnson as a project of the Lake Country Players and the 21st Century REACH program. People.

Photo: A quartet of thespians on stage in Disney's Jungle Book. The lead of Mowgli was performed by Arloween Loucks-Scuteri, second from right.

Signs advertising the Watkinstock concert at Lafayette Park and subsequent Beach Party at Landon's were on display at the Lafayette bandstand.


Local concerts fill the absence of Woodstock

Two "stock" musical gatherings -- Watkinstock at Watkins Glen's Lafayette Park and Moosestock at the Montour Moose Lodge -- were held Aug. 17 ... a day that would have fallen in the middle of Woodstock 50, had it been held as originally proposed at Watkins Glen International.

Moosestock was a fund-raiser, with a portion of the $15-per-ticket proceeds to be donated to the Schuyler County Ambulance. Bands included Rukus, Doc Possum and Hot Dogs & Gin.

Watkinstock also raised funds -- through donations to the Sheriff's Camp Iroquois on Keuka Lake, which provides an outdoor summer experience to underprivileged kids from around the state. Performers included The Flunk School, country singer Rylee Lum, Patrick Cole and Seneca Jam.


Town of Montour mulls Chinese lantern fest

The Montour Town Board listens to proposal for a large, possibly long-term festival on Havana Glen Park grounds starting in 2020. Government.

Photo: Festival video scene.

United Way Campaign Leaders Rick Evans and Lydia Wickham. (Photo provided)


United Way taps two as Campaign Leaders

Rick Evans and Lydia Wickham have been named Campaign Leaders of this year's United Way of Schuyler County campaign to raise $123,000 to help 22 local agencies. Evans is a longtime Boy Scout leader and a winemaker for Castel Grisch Winery. Wickham is Director of Human Resources for Cayuga Addiction Recovery who volunteers for Boy Scout Troop 2674 in Watkins Glen and is a member of the Hector-area Lions Club. Said United Way of Schuyler County Executive Director Peggy Scott: "Deepest thanks go to Lydia and Rick. Our all-volunteer board of directors of United Way works hard every year for an outstanding campaign."

  Judge rejects Mack request for shorter term

Acting Schuyler County Judge Gerald A. Keene on Aug. 13 rejected a motion for a reduced sentence filed by Chad C. Mack -- who pleaded guilty in June 2004 to 2nd Degree Murder and 1st Degree Robbery in the August 2002 shooting death of Theresa Ford at her home in the Town of Orange. Mack, sentenced to 25 years to life, was seeking a lesser sentence that would allow him to appear before the Parole Board immediately. District Attorney Joseph Fazzary opposed the motion, and Keene concurred with the DA, saying the original sentence was not harsh or excessive, and was justified.


Italian-American Festival ends its 3-day run

The 39th annual Schuyler County Italian-American Festival concluded Aug. 11 with several events, including a cornhole tournament, a motorcycle show and live music. Features.

Photo: The ferris wheel is always popular.

Legislators David Reed, left, and Michael Lausell chat before the start of Monday evening's meeting.


Brief legislature meeting yields updates

The Schuyler County Legislature's monthly meeting on Aug. 12 was short -- 17 minutes -- and saw approval of just 18 resolutions, none of them major. But there was some information imparted:

--Chairman Dennis Fagan said Sales Tax revenue as of July was up $266,000 from the same point last year. Increases in the sales tax, he noted, "help us control property taxes." As for the rest of the year: "We'll keep our fingers crossed."

--County Administrator Tim O'Hearn said work has begun on the 2020 county budget, and that "it will be within the tax cap" and "we will be lowering the tax rate."

--O'Hearn said the planned 50-megawatt solar project in the Town of Dix -- called the Watkins Glen Solar Energy Center -- is "now moving forward" with the pending appointment by state Legislature leaders of two town residents (of eight nominated) as ad hoc members of a seven-person regulatory Siting Board. The project will "take two years" to complete, he said.

Photo: Legislature Chairman Dennis Fagan at the meeting.


BBQ benefits WGHS girls varsity swim team

The Watkins Glen High School girls varsity swim team held a chicken barbecue Aug. 11 at the Montour Moose Lodge to raise funds for the swim program. Members of the team (left) -- one dressed as a chicken -- waved signs and urged motorists to turn into the lodge, where business was brisk as volunteers put together dinners in the kitchen, the centerpiece of each dinner being tasty chicken barbecued outside.


Cherry outlines energy savings programs, cautions on 'escalators' in solar group plans

Phil Cherry, executive director of the Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Schuyler County, outlined various energy savings and efficiency programs available to individuals and small businesses on Aug. 8 as guest speaker at the weekly luncheon of the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club at the Elks Lodge in Watkins Glen. Cherry -- supportive of the savings available in solar panels installed by individuals at their homes -- cautioned anyone interested in group purchasing, noting that some of the opportunities available "aren't great opportunities. Read the fine print," looking in particular for "escalators" that boost the cost after a first year of savings. "My advice is to be very wary," he said, noting that the CCE website carries information on solar programs and on those other energy savings programs.

Photo: Phil Cherry addresses Rotarians.

O-M School Board President Rob Halpin, left, and Superintendent Chris Wood at Aug. 7 meeting.


Principals McCarty, Francischelli given tenure

The Odessa-Montour School Board on August 7 granted tenure to high school Principal Almon (Skip) McCarty Jr. and Hanlon Elementary School Principal Robert Francischelli. Superintendent Chris Wood outlined the achievements of the two men during their four years at the helm of the two schools, and then the board voted unanimously in their favor. Franciscelli was present, while McCarty, Wood explained, was at another meeting "representing the district." Tenure provides greater job security for its recipients. The board also:

--Heard Wood report that the most recent state audit of the district was a good one, with minor improvements needed in the area of transportaton. "I'll gladly take it," he said of the audit.
--Heard an update from Wood on the $16.9 milliion Capital Project now in the planning stage. Wood said he hopes for state approval of the project within a year and construction in the fall of 2020. The project involves renovation of the Jack Davis gym and of science, art and technology rooms; installation of new water stations; a new public address system; some window replacements; technology upgrades, and other improvements deemed necessary.
--Approved a 2019-2020 tax levy of $5,099,617.

Photos: Hanlon principal Robert Francischelli and new School Board member Alyssa Wixson at Wednesday's meeting.


Watkins Glen Village Board moves toward
12-month moratorium on short-term rentals

The Watkins Glen Village Board on Aug. 6 discussed a Planning Board request for a moratorium on short-term rental units in the village pending a density study. A public hearing, the board indicated, will be held at its next meeting preceding passage of a Local Law that would take effect once filed with the state. The moratorium -- in the face of an onslaught of short-term rentals -- would be for an expected 12 months. Applications filed before the law takes effect would be processed. The board also:

--Approved membership in the Greater Tompkins Health Insurance Consortium, which Mayor Luke Leszyk said would save the village $60,000, down from $300,000.
--Approved a bid of $133,828 from Panko Electric and Maintenance for erection of the new light poles and lights on Franklin Street. Poles are expected to be shipped starting Aug. 19.

--Approved the hiring of Barbara Peterson to fill the newly created position of Deputy Clerk Treasurer.
--Approved payment of $195,000 of grant funds for the Padua Ridge property, site of a planned new water tower. The cost includes improvements such as clearing of the land, road construction, tank-base construction and culvert work.

Photos in text: Mayor Luke Leszyk (top) and trustee Tony Fraboni at Tuesday's meeting.

The Terry Walker trio performed at the Clute Park pavilion.


Terry Walker Trio entertains in concert series

The Terry Walker Trio entertained scores of music lovers Tuesday evening, Aug. 6 with pop and jazz standards in the Clute Park pavilion as part of the Concert in the Park series, a staple of Watkins Glen summers. The concerts are normally held at Lafayette Park, but move to the pavilion in inclement weather. It stormed Tuesday afternoon and rained intermittently in the evening. Next up, on Tuesday, Aug. 13: Gentlemen of Song with Big Band, Swing and other music.


Hayden will appear on third ballot line

Matt Hayden (right), the Democrats' nominee for Schuyler County Court Judge in the November election, has secured a third nomination. Hayden, already backed by the Democrats and by the Schuyler First independent party, has now secured the backing of the Working Families Party. That makes him the only one of the four candidates with three party nominations. In addition to Hayden, Jessica Saks, Steven Getman and Dan Fitzsimmons are campaigning for the 10-year post, which includes Family and Surrogate's Court.


Elliott wins 2nd straight NASCAR race at WGI

Chase Elliott (pictured at right) held off Martin Truex Jr. on Aug. 4 to post his second straight Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory at Watkins Glen International, in the Go Bowling at The Glen 90-lap race. It was fifth career Series victory and second of the season. Elliott, whose first career win in the Series came last year at WGI, started Sunday from the pole position in his Hendrick Motorsports' Chevrolet, and won by 0.454 seconds. He was only the second driver to win from the pole position in the last 39 Series races.


Chef Orlando is new owner of Graft eatery

After a long run as Executive Chef of Veraisons, Orlando Rodriguez, along with wife Natacia, has purchased the recently closed Graft restaurant on Franklin Street in Watkins Glen with the intention to reopen in the fall. Business.

Photo: Chef Orlando Rodriquez

Odessa Fire Department personnel prepare the chicken.


Odessa fire department serves up BBQ meals

An annual rite on NASCAR weekend -- an Odessa Fire Department drive-through barbecue at the fire station -- was a hit Saturday as firefighters prepared 300 chicken halves. They followed that up with their annual Hit the Boot fund-raiser on Main Street in the village on Sunday, with passing motorists stopping to place donations in firefighters' boots held by department members at either end of the downtown.

Photo: Peggy Tomassi, left, and Anne Yessman helped serve up the barbecue meals.

Fire department representatives collected Hit the Boot donations Sunday from passing motorists along Main Street in Odessa.


Saks nets noms from
2 parties in judge race

Jessica Saks has gained the nominations of the Independence and About Justice Parties in her race for Schuyler County Judge. She faces three male opponents in the November election. Government.

Photo: Jessica Saks (Photo provided)


Cheese Festival draws crowd to Hoffman farm

The 8th annual Finger Lakes Cheese Festival was held Saturday -- as it is each July -- at the Hoffman century farm at Catharine Corners, outside Odessa. Produce, live music, children's activities and other features attracted a large crowd. People.

Photo: At the festival.

Dusk at the Hector Fair on Friday. (Photo by Liz Fraboni)


Annual parade highlights Hector Fair

The three-day Hector Fair was highlighted on its second day Friday with the annual parade up Rte. 414, ending at the fairgrounds behind the fire station. The fair concludes Saturday with a car show, chicken barbecue, live music and fireworks. Features.


WGI places 2nd in Best NASCAR Track voting

Watkins Glen International finished second in the voting this year in the USA Today Readers' Choice contest for Best NASCAR Track after finishing first the past three years. The winner this time: Eldora Speedway in New Weston, Ohio, which hosts the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. The winner was announced Friday, July 26. Third through fifth places went to Daytona International Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.


Historical Society honors Italian founders

A special exhibit and talk are focusing on the founders of Schuyler County's Italian community The exhibit opened Aug. 1. Founders.

Photo: Undated photo of workers at the International Salt Co., a major employer of Italian immigrants in Schuyler County. (Provided)


Court rules in favor of school in Hansen case

The U.S. District Court for Western New York has ruled on the side of the Watkins Glen School District and former Superintendent Tom Phillips, the defendants in a suit filed by Kristina Hansen relating to incidents on school grounds that twice included her being led away in handcuffs. Her attorney plans to appeal the decision. Government.

Photo: Kristina Hansen arrested at the WGHS tennis courts on May 4, 2016, the second time she was taken into custody.


Fitzsimmons gets Hometown Law Party nod

Daniel J. Fitzsimmons has accepted the nomination of the Hometown Law Party as candidate for Schuyler County Judge. According to a press release, Fitzsimmons received more than 800 signatures from Schuyler voters -- "with support from Republican, Democratic, Conservative, Green and non-party voters" -- to run as an independent candidate for the position. A Schuyler County attorney, Schuyler County Law Guardian, former Town of Hector Justice and Schuyler County Principal Court Attorney, he is one of four candidates seeking to succeed the recently retired Dennis Morris on the bench. Steven Getman has the Republican Party backing, and Matt Hayden the nomination of the Democrats. Attorney Jessica Saks, also running as an independent, is the fourth candidate vying for election in November.

Photo: Dan Fitzsimmons (Photo provided)


Dems back Hayden in battle for County Judge

The Schuyler County Democratic Committee has unanimously selected county Chief Assistant District Attorney Matt Hayden as the party's candidate for Schuyler County Judge in the November election. Hayden is one of four candidates in the race -- and the lone Democrat. Steven Getman has the Republican nomination, while Jessica Saks and Dan Fitzsimmons, both registered Republicans, are running as independents. The candidates are vying for a 10-year term on the bench, recently vacated by Dennis Morris upon his retirement before the end of his term.

"Not only is Matt the best qualified candidate," said Democratic Committee Chairperson Carolyn Elkins, "but he also exhibits the highest ethical standard, the greatest dedication to community and charitable efforts, and the most experience in upholding the laws of our county while protecting our families."

Photo: Matt Hayden and Carolyn Elkins (Photo provided)

Kennedey Heichel, center front, with a number of her former Odessa-Montour teammates at her signing ceremony. Back from left: Sage Garrison, Olivia Grover, Lexi Saunders, Autumn Garrision. Front from left: Nadia Simpson, Heichel, Maria Scata.


Heichel signs with Ithaca College; track ahead

Odessa-Montour graduating senior Kennedey Heichel signed a Division III Student-Athlete Celebratory Signing Form for Ithaca College Thursday in a gathering at the high school. Heichel, two-time Odessa File Female Athlete of the Year at O-M, two-time Odessa File Schuyler Spring MVP, two-time member of the Top Drawer 24 team of outstanding student-athlete-citizens in the area, and the O-M selection as its Female Athlete of the Year this year, plans to compete in Track & Field at IC.


Officials agree to work on dog-sheltering pact

Members of the Schuyler County Legislature and Supervisors of a half-dozen towns in the county have "agreed to work together toward an agreement with the Humane Society of Schuyler County for dog-sheltering services when stray dogs are recovered in any of the towns in Schuyler County," it was announced Friday -- apparently ending a move by five towns to contract with a private service entity. Government.

O-M Valedictorian Kennedey Heichel accepts a hug and her diploma from School Board President Rob Halpin at Friday's Commencement.


O-M bids farewell
to its Class of 2019

Odessa-Montour School District officials distributed diplomas to the graduating seniors at a commencement exercise Friday evening, June 28, in the school's Fetter-Brown Auditorium. A total of 65 students graduated, with many receiving scholarship awards during the ceremony. Graduation.

Photo: 2019 O-M graduate Maria Scata.

Bobby Rahal, right, receives the Cameron Argetsinger Award from one of Cameron's sons, former International Motor Racing Research Center president J.C. Argetsinger.


Rahal receives 6th annual Argetsinger Award

Team owner and former race car driver Bobby Rahal was honored Thursday night with the 6th annual Cameron R. Argetsinger Award for Outstanding Contributions to Motorsports. He was honored by the Watkins Glen-based International Motor Racing Research Center (IMRRC) during a dinner at the Corning Museum of Glass presented by Sahlen's, NASCAR, International Speedway Corp., IMSA and Watkins Glen International. The award memorializes Argetsinger, organizer of the first races at Watkins Glen and a founder of the Research Center. Longtime race reporter Dr. Jerry Punch was emcee. About 250 people attended, with proceeds going to the IMRRC, dedicated to the preservation of motorsports history. Sports.

Photo: IMRRC Historian Bill Green at the dinner, in front of a photo of Cameron Argetsinger.


Republican Committee gives nod to Getman

Schuyler County Atttorney Steven Getman (pictured at right) won the Republican nomination for County Court Judge Thursday night at a meeting of the Schuyler County Republican Committee. The nomination came over two other Republicans -- attorneys Jessica Saks and Dan Fitzsimmons -- both of whom have indicated they will run as independents. Schuyler County Chief Assistant District Attorney Matt Hayden is running on the Democratic line. "I am humbled and honored by the support of my fellow Schuyler County Republicans." Getman said. "I plan to run a clean, positive campaign, based on education, training and legal experience." The election is in November.

Incoming Rotary Club President Glenda Gephart, left, and outgoing President Rebekah Carroll with her daughter Ruby.


Rotary changes presidents, honors Carrigan

The Watkins-Montour Rotary Club held its annual Changeover Dinner Tuesday at the Watkins Glen Elks Lodge, with outgoing President Rebekah Carroll "passing the gavel" to incoming President Glenda Gephart. This being Gephart's second time as Rotary President, she said: "Thank you so very much for allowing me to do this again."

The Paul Harris Fellow Award, given annually to a Club member who exemplifies "service above self," was presented to Dena Carrigan, an active club volunteer who serves as Membership Chair. She also serves as Membership Committee Chair at the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce, is assistant treasurer for the Italian-American Festival, secretary for the Spirit of Schuyler, a member of the merchandise committee for the Grand Prix Festival, a volunteer for the Montour Falls Fire department, and a volunteer for the Arc of Schuyler's annual 5K run. She began her banking career in 1986 with Columbia Bank, which was acquired in 1994 by Chemung Canal Trust Company. Dena and husband Sam have two sons, Kyle and Dale, and recently welcomed a grandson.

Photo in text: Dena Carrigan (Photo provided)

Potential exposure to Hepatitis A cited

While the risk of infection is low, Schuyler County Public Health, noting a potential exposure to the Hepatitis A virus at the Seneca Harbor Station restaurant in Watkins Glen, urges vaccination at upcoming clinics for those who ate there between June 12 and June 21. Clinics.

Alec Betts signs as his parents, Chris and Diana, and his sister Lillian watch.


Betts signs to attend, swim at St. Leo U. in Fla.

Odessa-Montour High School graduate Alec Betts, after delaying his college entrance for a year, signed a Letter of Intent Wednesday to attend Division 2 Saint Leo University in Florida this fall and participate in its swim program. Betts, a standout swimmer at O-M before his 2018 graduation, plans a course of study in Sports Business, with an eye toward becoming a coach, possibly on the college level. The signing ceremony took place in the O-M School Board meeting room. Pieces from a congratulatory cake (photo) were distributed to the friends and family in attendance

Vondracek earns All-State berth

Odessa-Montour softball pitcher Grace Vondracek, who led the team in hitting with a .700 average and 11 homers, is named to the NYSSCOGS All-State Softball Class C 4th Team. Sports.


85 receive diplomas
at WGHS graduation

The annual Watkins Glen High School Commencement Exercise was held Saturday afternoon in the school auditorium. Diplomas.

Photo: Graduates Kai Sutterby, left, and Annika Wickham.


Rondinaro honored at WGHS alumni banquet

Steve Rondinaro receives a Distinguished Alumnus Award at the 94th annual Watkins Glen High School dinner gathering. About 350 people attended. Schools.

Photo: Steve Rondinaro with his award.


Preparing for a 2,200-mile, old-school journey

Odessa Mayor Gerry Messmer told Watkins-Montour Rotarians Thursday about his planned 2,200-mile, 90-day trek with several other men on a route traveled in 1825 by trapper, fur trader and frontiersman William H. Ashley on a return east with furs from Wyoming to Montana to St. Louis. The group will live as Ashley and his men lived, without modern conveniences, as they travel by horse, canoe and keelboat -- that last (30-foot) vehicle carrying them down the Missouri River. They will keep journals, and plan a book about the trip, comparing their efforts to those of Ashley. Messmer leaves for Wyoming on June 30; the trek -- not a re-enactment, but "truly a living history," he said, requiring "the same skill sets" possessed by mountain men in the first half of the 19th century and complete with discomfort and inherent dangers -- starts on July 7. Everything -- from clothing to the acquisition of food along the way -- will be "period correct,' he said, with a couple of safety valves: cell phones for occasional calls home (his wife, Cathy, will join him for a few days on the Missouri) and a link, if needed, to a medical helicopter.

Photo: Gerry Messmer in his journey clothing.


Arc golf tournament raises more than $12K

The annual event generates funds to help individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities and autism. Sports.


Watkins Village Board handles various issues

The Board Tuesday night dealt with stop signs, noise, a brush pile, pools, the new treatment plant and the absence of a Code Enforcement Officer. Government.

Photo: Mayor Luke Leszyk

Olivia Grover signs while her parents and brothers look on.


Grover signs for basketball at Buffalo State

Odessa-Montour High School senior Olivia Grover -- the leading player on the O-M girls varsity basketball team -- signed an NCAA Division III Student-Athlete Celebratory Signing Form on June 17 in a ceremony in the O-M School Board's meeting room. Grover, a 1,000-point scorer in her career, plans to play basketball at SUNY Buffalo State, which she enters in late summer. On hand for Monday's signing were family, friends, coaches and O-M administrators, who all joined in devouring a celebratory cake.

Photos in text: Olivia Grover after signing.


Athletes honored at first Dub G Awards

Awards were presented in a dozen categories at the ceremony, held in the Watkins Glen High School auditorium. Sports.


Cardboard Boats draw crowd to Harbor park

A total of 47 boats competed in various categories on June 15 at the 26th annual Waterfornt Festival and Cardboard Board Regatta in Watkins Glen. Features.

Photo: Batman was among the competitors.

The new Odessa Baptist Church at 111 Fowler Place.


Odessa Baptist Church celebrates new locale

The Odessa Baptist Church on June 15 hosted a service and open house, complete with picnic-style dinner, to celebrate its new building on the eastern edge of the village. The Baptist Church, for many years housed in the heart of residential Odessa, started services in March in its new building at 111 Fowler Place after a multi-year fund-raising and building project. The new structure, debt free, is on 4.1 acres of former farmland the church purchased from Billy Blaha. It is a single-level building, making ingress and egress much easier than in its predecesor, where steps predominated, and where the heating cost was exorbitant, the septic system aged, and parking a challenge.

In the 45 months between the exit from the old church and opening of the new church, worship services were held at the American Legion Hall on Route 228. Groundbreaking for the new building was on May 28, 2017, and with a combination of contractor and parishioner labor, the 5,000-square-foot structure was erected. Saturday's event attracted well in excess of 150 people.

Photos in text: Loueda Bleiler provided open-house music; chess kept some attendees busy.


Appeals panel affirms Trappler's conviction

A State Supreme Court Appellate panel has unanimously upheld the 2013 conviction in Schuyler County Court of Alice Trappler in the murder of Daniel Bennett in the Town of Dix the year before. Trappler, convicted of two counts of Murder, 2nd Degree, two counts of burglary and one of conspiracy, is serving a 25-years-to-life sentence. Her appeal to the Supreme Court's Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department, was heard on April 25, with Schuyler County District Attorney Joe Fazzary -- who had prosecuted Trappler -- presenting the People's argument to the five judges. Their decision -- in a six-page ruling (click here) -- was summarized succinctly: "Ordered that the judgment is affirmed." Said Fazzary in response: "I'm very pleased with the decision, obviously. I've always felt she was guilty of this crime. The Appellate Division just affirmed that." He added, though, that Trappler will have other avenues of appeals still available, although this ruling makes her chance of success more unlikely.

Photo: Alice Trappler in the Schuyler County Court House during her trial in 2013.

E.C. Cooper Insurance President Mike Stamp, right, presented Odessa File Athlete of the Year plaques on June 3rd to, from left, Watkins Glen High School senior Hannah Morse; and Odessa-Montour High School seniors Zach Elliott and Kennedey Heichel. Also chosen but unable to attend: WGHS senior Joe Chedzoy. The awards were presented during the Top Drawer 24 celebration at the Watkins Glen State Park.


Party celebrates the Top Drawer 24 team

Two dozen of the Southern Tier's best and brightest student-athletes are honored at the Watkins Glen State Park. Party.


Odessa's Heichel is our Schuyler Spring MVP

Odessa-Montour High School senior track standout Kennedey Heichel has earned The Odessa File's Schuyler Spring MVP award, topping a field of impressive athletes on the All-Schuyler All-Star First, Second and Third teams. For a story on the MVP and a list of Spring 2019 All-Stars, see Sports.

Photo: Kennedey Heichel

Rotary honorees William Yeater (OM) and Nancy Jackson (WG).


Rotary honors students Yeater and Jackson

Odessa-Montour High School senior William Yeater and Watkins Glen High School senior Nancy Jackson were honored June 13 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its Students of the Month for June.

Yeater was introduced by teacher Russ Gardner, who called the honoree "a great student," "a key member of the track team," and an actor with lead roles in a number of school plays. Yeater plans to attend Loyola University in New Orleans. Jackson was introduced by Dawn Harrell, who described the honoree as "a wonderful young lady" who participates in Girl Scouts and has played three sports at WGHS: soccer, bowling and softball. Jackson plans to attend Keuka College with an eye toward becoming a photojournalist.

Note: The Rotarians presented checks totaling $3,020 to a dozen organizations -- many of whom had representatives present to receive them. The groups included the Hometown Heroes Banner Program, Schuyler County Youth Football, the My Place daycare center, Labor of Love, Catholic Charities, Habitat for Humanity, Schuyler Head Start, the Mustard Seed Bradford Food Pantry, the Boy Scouts, the Schuyler County Historical Society, and the Summer Swim Program.

Photo in text: The Boy Scouts' Rick Evans at Rotary.

Bryce Erickson as Troy Bolton makes a point during a scene in "High School Musical."


'High School Musical' concludes run at WGHS

The Lake Country Players' youth production of Disney's High School Musical ended its three-day run June 15 before an appreciative audience in the Watkins Glen High School auditorium. The show, which opened Thursday night, featured a cast of 38 kids, ages 13-19, from six school districts.

Photo: Nathan Epp and Katherine Larson perform.


Odessa-Montour presents its sports awards

The 52nd annual
O-M Sports Boosters Awards saw a break from tradition in the Male Athlete of the Year Award. Sports.

Photo: The Coach of the Year, Burton Brewster, with the two students who introduced him -- Nadia Simpson, left, and Kennedey Heichel.


3 track standouts get hallway greeting

The trio of Odessa-Montour athletes who competed in the NYSPHSAA Track and Field Championships are welcomed by students lining the district hallways. Sports


Photo: O-M senior Nadia Simpson, with junior Paden Grover and senior Zach Elliott behind her, greets kids in a school hallway.

O-M bestows academic awards. Schools.


WGI pulls the plug on Woodstock 50 festival

There will be no Woodstock 50 festival at Watkins Glen International. WGI has "terminated the site license" for the planned Aug. 16-18 musical event "pursuant to provisions of the contract," WGI announced in a statement Monday, adding: "As such, WGI will not be hosting the festival." Meanwhile, a Woodstock 50 spokesman says the festival is in talks with an alternate venue and will be "sharing the new location when tickets go on sale in the coming weeks." Business.


63rd annual parade held in Montour Falls

Fire units, bands, and floats march on Main Street under sunny skies. People.

Photo: A member of the Caledonian Highlanders


O-M's Elliott returns home with Shot Put title

Odessa-Montour High School senior Zach Elliott (pictured at right), along with two other State competitors -- O-M's Nadia Simpson and Paden Grover -- returned to Schuyler County from Middletown June 8th with a siren escort (two fire trucks and a deputy's vehicle) from Alpine Junction to the school. There, they were greeted by dozens of family, friends and fans. Elliott was the second O-M athlete to bring home a state title this year. Sports.


18 students honored
as Schuyler Scholars

Senior graduating in the top 10% of their class at the Bradford, Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour High Schools receive plaques at a Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel dinner. Schools.


Left: Schuyler Scholar plaque


6th graders experience outdoors at Field Day

Sixth-grade students from three school districts participate in the annual Conservation Field Day at the Millport Hunting and Fishing Club. Agriculture.

Photo: Brie Riesbeck of Tanglewood Nature Center explains Great Horned Owl biology to the Field Day students. She also showed and spoke about an Eastern screech owl and a Red-tailed hawk.


13 WGHS students join National Honor Society

The students were inducted in a ceremony in the Watkins Glen Elementary School auditorium. Schools.

Photo: Candle used in the NHS induction ceremony.


DeRusha is IMRRC's new Executive Director

Daniel G. DeRusha of Corning has been selected as the new executive director of the International Motor Racing Research Center in Watkins Glen. Center.



Photo: Daniel G. DeRusha (Photo provided)

And back in 2009

Smoke pours out of the Village Variety Shop on North Franklin Street in Watkins Glen Oct. 18th. More photos at Fire.


Watkins Glen fire deemed accidental

The fire that struck two businesses on North Franklin Street in Watkins Glen Oct. 18th, 2009 was accidental -- caused, fire officials say, by "the thawing of a refrigerator" in the rear portion of the Village Variety Shop. For the update and the original story and photos, see Fire.

Left: Flames curl out of the rear of the Village Variety Shop shortly after the fire started. (Photo by Phil Barnes)


Some vocal magic on an Island hike ...

The editor encounters some strange conversationalists during a hike to a farflung lighthouse on his vacation. For those looking for some magic, herewith a tale that most will deem fiction. Hike.


Left: The Bois Blanc Lighthouse

Check out some WGHS videos

Maggie Edgley's Video Production Class at Watkins Glen High School boasts a creative group of artists. We've linked up with the class so that you can have access to their video accomplishments. To visit the class website, click here


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Some old photos from the Kelly collection

We have some more photos from the collection amassed over the years by the late Bill Kelly. For a look, click here.


The What, When and Why of this website

Editor-publisher Charlie Haeffner updates readers on what makes this website tick. Site.

Left: Charlie Haeffner (Photo by Dave Haeffner)



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Check out our list of readers who have contributed to keeping this site going. Sponsors.

The number of visits to this site has been steadily growing -- more than 3,000 daily, and more than 20,000 a week -- as readers in 48 states and dozens of countries check out what's happening in Schuyler County.

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An eternal message of lights, hope and faith

The week following Susan Haeffner's passing was fraught with signs -- most of them light-based, and one in the form of a vision. Here the editor relives those days in an effort to pass along a message of hope and faith. Message.

Above: The Aurora Borealis (From the Internet--as seen in Scandinavia)



The Sound and the Silence: A Memoir

Some things in life can mean a great deal -- can embody hope and dreams ... and memories. The sailboat is one such thing for the author. Silence.




© The Odessa File 2021
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869

(607) 594-3594

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