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Jason Emerson

Stories by Jason

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Tait funeral license lawsuit against department of health argued in state supreme court

More than two years after pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges of misconduct while running his Cazenovia funeral home, Brian Tait is back in court again. This time, he is the petitioner, bringing suit against the state Department of Health for reneging on what Tait claims was an approved deal regarding the suspension of his funeral directing license. Rather than a six-month suspension, the state is now looking to revoke his license altogether and decertify his funeral home. Attorneys for Tait and the DOH appeared in state supreme court Thursday morning, March 5, to argue their cases in front of Judge Hugh A. Gilbert.

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School district disciplines students over homemade bombs found at Cazenovia High School teacher’s house, state police continue to investigate

While New York State Police officers continue to investigate a Feb. 1 incident in the town of Madison during which two “homemade chemical bombs” were placed alongside the home of a Cazenovia high school teacher, the district has taken disciplinary actions against an undisclosed number of students for the event.

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New Cazenovia hops processing and distribution center in Cazenovia to serve all of CNY region

After spending two months crossing the Atlantic Ocean from Germany, waiting in the port of New York City and braving the cold and snowy roads of Upstate New York, The Wolf recently arrived in Cazenovia. The Wolf is not an animal or a person, but an 11.5-ton hops harvester/picker that is now permanently in place on a Rathbun Road hops farm in Cazenovia. It will be the foundation of The Bineyard — a new hops cooperative and distribution center that has plans to be the main hops processing and distribution facility in the CNY region.

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School board awards bid contracts for $7.4 million capital project

The Cazenovia Board of Education last week officially awarded the bid contracts for both the $7.4 million district-wide capital improvement project and for a $100,000 electrical work project at Burton Street Elementary School.

School administration says: No increase in state funding means definite district program cuts

The Cazenovia school district administration last week discussed the current estimates for its initial 2015-16 budget and Assistant Superintendent Bill Furlong said he feels “pretty comfortable” that all current district programs will be maintained — as long as Cazenovia receives at least half of its expected state aid funding, or $450,000. If Gov. Andrew Cuomo decides to eliminate state education aid increases this year, the effects will be “devastating” to Cazenovia, and will result potentially in the loss of some district programs and possibly high school electives, and an increase in elementary class sizes, Furlong said.

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‘Brave the shave’: St. Baldrick’s hair-shaving fundraiser returns to Cazenovia

Beautiful baldness is returning to Cazenovia in just under three weeks when the St. Baldrick’s fundraiser to battle childhood cancer will occur at Burton Street Elementary School. Last year’s event saw 113 community members shave their heads and raise $48,700 — and organizers Sean and Erin Kate Kelly hope to raise just as much, if not more, this year.

Cazenovia Forum announces 2015 speaker series

A former acting general counsel for the Central Intelligence Agency, the nation's top expert on current events in Ukraine and a leading anti-corruption activist are among the upcoming speakers at the Cazenovia Forum, Central New York's premier public affairs lecture series, which recently announced its 2015 lineup.

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Simple, handcrafted furniture: Route 20 Sofa Company now open in Nelson

After 35 years working in the furniture industry, Shawn Gilmore knows what type of furniture business he wants to create — one that offers high-quality, hand-crafted furniture at mid-level prices in a good geographical location. Gilmore also wants a place where he can indulge his love of art and music and occasionally cater to non-profit organizations for events. At Route 20 Sofa Company in Nelson, Gilmore believes he has found what he has been seeking.

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21-year-old Cazenovia man paralyzed after skiing accident

Family and friends of Barclay Talbot establish fundraiser to help with medical and rehabilitation costs

Twenty-one-year-old Barclay Talbot of Cazenovia remains in stable condition in the intensive care unit in Upstate Hospital nearly two weeks after suffering a skiing accident at Cazenovia Ski Club that broke his neck, severed his spine and left him paralyzed from the waist down. Talbot’s family and friends have rallied to his side and offered prayers, food and support in his time of need, and recently they have started a crowdfunding website to help offset the costs of his medical care and rehabilitation, which will be considerable.

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Cazenovia part of new non-emergency services telephone system

2-1-1 Mid-York a way for Madison, Oneida and Herkimer County residents to give and get help

The Cazenovia area, as part of Madison County, is now included in a three-county system that has been connected to the 2-1-1 nationwide non-emergency telephone service. 2-1-1 is an easy-to-remember telephone number that connects people with free community services and volunteer opportunities 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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Laurentian Singers to kick off spring break tour in Cazenovia

St. Lawrence University’s Laurentian Singers will kick off their spring break tour to New Orleans with a concert beginning at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 28, at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, located at 10 Mill St. in Cazenovia. The concert is free and open to the public.

Nelson town board continues parking ban on North Lake Road

The Nelson Town Board last week extended for another year the local law prohibiting parking along a certain portion of North Lake Road, which expired on Jan. 1.

State police substation in New Woodstock to be rebuilt, possibly relocated

Cazenovia Town Board currently seeking resident input

The Cazenovia Town Board last week announced that the town will tear down the former town highway garage in New Woodstock that currently serves as a New York State Police substation and will replace it with a modular home with detached garage — although the new substation may not be located in the same place.

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Four Cazenovia College students arrested after assaulting, stealing from local resident

Four Cazenovia College students were arrested recently by Cazenovia police for allegedly stealing from and assaulting a village resident in what police suspect was a supposed payback for being “ripped off” during a drug deal. The charges stem from two separate incidents involving the same victim and suspects, which occurred about one week apart.

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Town moving forward with plan to redesign McNitt State Park lake access

The proposed engineering design for a new lake access area at McNitt State Park was received with unanimous enthusiasm from the Cazenovia Town Board last week, and will now be sent to officials at the state parks office for final approval.

Number of winter farmers’ markets in New York state set new record in 2015

Cazenovia markets continue to grow, find success

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office last week announced that winter farmers’ markets in New York have reached an all-time high, now with 120 markets located across the state – a 198 percent increase since the 2007 season. Cazenovia has contributed to this increase in winter farmers markets in the state with the establishment of the new 20/East Winter Farmers Market held in the Cazenovia Cut Block showroom on Route 20, as well as the continuing and growing success of the market at the American Legion on Chenango Street.

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Cazenovia Volunteer Fire Department hosts annual banquet, gives awards

The Cazenovia Volunteer Fire Department held its annual banquet last Thursday, Feb. 5, at The Lincklaen House. The event was attended by nearly the entire department and their spouses, the Madison County Fire Coordinators, fire chiefs from surrounding departments and State Assemblyman Bill Magee.

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WinterFest 2015 wrap-up

Results of the annual talent show, sculpture competitions and Fat Bike Race

Cazenovia’s annual Winter Festival certainly lived up to its name this year, as the temperatures stayed frigid and the snow just kept falling — but local residents were out of their houses, in the street and participating in large numbers in the weekend’s events.

Trustees approve Creekside district zone change

The Cazenovia Village Board last week unanimously approved a new law that will allow for the rezoning and redevelopment of the Riverside Drive/Chittenango Creek area that runs from Chenango Street, behind the library and up to Albany Street behind the Red Apple gas station.

It’s a go: Town planning board approves Owera events building

The Cazenovia Town Planning Board last week approved the request of Owera Vineyards to construct a permanent 6,300 square-foot “Promotion and Marketing Facility” to replace its three-season events tent for special winery functions on its East Lake Road property. The approval came with numerous conditions and limitations, however, many of which, if ignored or violated, will revoke the approval.

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Guilty verdict rendered in Maegan Spindler death case

Ronald Ray Fischer convicted of two counts of vehicular homicide

Ronald Raymond Fischer Jr., the man arrested and charged with the death of Cazenovia resident Maegan Spinder in South Dakota in July 2013, has been found guilty by a South Dakota Circuit Court judge of multiple charges related to the incident, including two felony counts of vehicular homicide.

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Cazenovia ranked 21 in latest 50 Best Small Towns in America list

Cazenovia was named to the list of the 50 best small towns in America recently, as compiled and ranked by Best Choice Reviews at bestchoicereviews.org. This is the third time in less than a year that Cazenovia has been included on a list of being the “coolest” or “best” small town in America.

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High school technology department receives major donations

Weather station, automated switch manufacturing workcell will give students hands-on learning experience

The Cazenovia Board of Education last week accepted two donations of technology equipment worth more than $170,000 that will give Cazenovia High School technology students unique opportunities to construct and maintain both a weather station on the high school roof and an automated switch manufacturing work cell once used by Marquardt Switches. Once the switch machine is situated and implemented, Cazenovia will be the only high school in the country with an operational manufacturing work cell in its building for instructional use.

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Cazenovia College athlete reaches career basketball milestone

Senior Erin O’Malley becomes seventh women’s player to score 1,000 career points

Cazenovia College senior Erin O’Malley, from Torrance, Calif., made history Jan. 13 by becoming just the seventh player in Cazenovia College women’s basketball history to reach the 1,000 career point milestone. Early in the second-half of the Wildcats 79-65 win over North Eastern Athletic Conference rival Wells College, O’Malley went coast-to-coast on a steal to score points number 1,000 and 1,001 for her career.

School district predicts 2.1 percent tax levy increase for 2015-16

Cazenovia district assistant superintendent Bill Furlong told the school board last week that he has been accruing the pieces of the budget puzzle during the month of January and by the board’s February meeting “we’ll have the tax limit calculation and know right where we need to be.”

Cazenovia resident receives New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship

Cazenovia artist Peter Beasecker last week was named a recipient of a prestigious New York Foundation for the Arts Artists’ Fellowship. Beasecker, a recipient under the crafts/sculpture category, was the only fellowship recipient from Madison County and one of only a handful of recipients from anywhere above Westchester County. He will receive an unrestricted cash grant of $7,000 to support him in his ongoing artistic work.

Madison County Sewer District fee change causes confusion, concern

Cazenovia village residents received a shock recently when they received their sewer bill in the mail and found they owe either more — or maybe less — than their bills have been in years past. People who found a large sewer tax increase are upset and concerned, and do not understand what has happened or why, and are looking for answers. There is no new sewer tax, just a different way of billing sewer fees based on usage and a separate bill sent to residents directly from the Madison County Sewer District and not as part of their county tax bill, said Madison County Sewer District Board Chair Ralph Monforte.

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Owera wins double gold, silver medals at San Francisco Wine Competition

For the second time in two years, Cazenovia’s Owera Vineyards has won two medals at the annual San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

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Felony arrests, court cases in Cazenovia increase in 2014

At the Jan. 5 village board of trustees meeting, Trustee Fritz Koennecke, liaison to the village court, said the court handled 50 percent more felonies in 2014 than it did during the three previous years, which is having an impact on the workload of the court, the court clerks and the police. Koennecke’s report to the board led the Cazenovia Republican to inquire to the village court clerk and police chief about the current statistics from their two departments and what the numbers mean.

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State of the area: U.S., N.Y. politics as partisan, detrimental as they appear

The partisan politics of Washington are as bad and gridlocking as they look, and the governor’s politics in Albany are crippling the finances of our school district and endangering our children’s education. These were the two major messages received by about 50 area residents last week during the annual State of the Area event sponsored by the Greater Cazenovia Area Chamber of Commerce.

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Fenner launches new town website

The start of a new year often brings change; and, to kick-off 2015, the town of Fenner recently launched a new town website that will offer community members more user-friendly access to vast amounts of town information, including local history, geneology, local photographs, links to local laws and regulations and a local business directory.

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More than $15K in grants given for projects to improve the Cazenovia community

Six local organizations receive Common Grounds Challenge Grants during pilot year

Six local organizations — from municipalities to non-profit groups to student groups — recently received more than $15,000 in grant funding in order to undertake projects that will benefit the Cazenovia community. The projects were selected as awardees of the local Common Grounds Challenge Grant program, which is in its pilot year.

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Stone Quarry Hill Art Park names new executive director

After more than one year of being run by an interim director, the Stone Quarry Hill Art Park Board of Directors last week announced the hiring of a permanent executive director for the park — Emily Gates Zaengle. Zaengle, 27, a native if Unadilla Forks, holds advanced degrees in both landscape architecture and museum studies and during the past three years has served as both an intern and a volunteer at the art park.

Fenner town board holds 2015 organizational meeting

The Fenner Town Board last week held its first meeting of the new year, during which the board made its annual organizational appointments.

Cazenovia Town Board makes annual appointments

During its first meeting of the new year, the Cazenovia Town Board last week approved its annual organizational appointments for the town government as well as attended to regular business.

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Siobhan Kiernan, Caz High school sophomore, breaking into TV and movies

If you go to the website for the Animal Planet television show “Monsters Inside Me,” you will find clips from various episodes and some of the show’s best moments. If you watch the clip titled, “Creepy, exorcist-like spider walk horrifies one mother,” you will see the first television performance of 15-year-old Siobhan Kiernan, who is currently a sophomore at Cazenovia High School.

Stone Quarry Hill Art Park names new executive director

The Stone Quarry Hill Art Park Board of Directors has announced the hiring of Emily Gates Zaengle to the position of executive director. Zaengle assumed the role on Jan. 5 and has already been busy meeting with various community organizations and strategizing for the 2015 summer season at the Art Park, according to a statement on the park website. “I can’t tell you how thrilled we are,” said SQHAP Board of Directors President John Hunt.

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Cazenovia Athletic Association works to revive high school Hall of Fame

Currently seeking nominations for 2015 awards

Many Cazenovia community members, including Cazenovia High School student-athletes and alumni, may not know that just inside the main high school entrance from the west parking lot there is a display case dedicated to honoring Cazenovia’s greatest athletes. But there have been no additions to the case since 2010. But now, after a four-and-a-half-year hiatus, the Cazenovia Athletic Association is working to revive the program — and the hall of fame committee is actively seeking nominations for this year’s induction ceremony.

Nelson sets public hearing for Georgetown ambulance district agreement

Board reassures public that ambulance coverage has not changed, only the districting aspect is new

The Nelson Town Board last week approved three resolutions regarding their intention to create a new Georgetown ambulance district in the town of Nelson: one to pay for the 2015 contract with the ambulance service, one to amend the rate of pay for district residents and one to set a public hearing about the proposed coverage contract. Town Supervisor Roger Bradstreet also said he wanted town residents to be clear that this proposed contract does nothing to change the ambulance service currently received in the town, it merely creates a new ambulance district to allow the Georgetown Ambulance service an avenue to recover its rising operational costs.

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Village board moves forward with proposed Creekside Development District law

A few village residents in and around the Riverside Drive/Chittenenago Creek corridor, which the village board is currently looking to rezone to help future development, had some concerns about the proposed zone change legislation currently pending before the village but, overall, they did not outright oppose the law at last week’s public hearing on the issue. Mayor Kurt Wheeler said the law’s wording needs to be “tightened up” and “clarified,” but otherwise the village’s efforts to help potential development in the creekside area are moving forward.

Cazenovia native, Philadelphia transit police officer, saves man’s life

A native Cazenovia man made headlines in Philadelphia in mid-December when his quick actions saved the life of a man suffering a heart attack in a Philadelphia train station.

Cazenovia police warn residents of new National Grid phone scam

A new phone scam has begun hitting Cazenovia residents in recent days and citizens should be on the lookout, said Cazenovia Police Chief Michael Hayes. The scammers are saying that they represent National Grid and are calling to warn people that their power is about to be disconnected unless they pay overdue costs.

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Saying goodbye to 2014

A review of the biggest stories of the past year

There certainly was a lot of news in Cazenovia during the year 2014 — some of it positive and some of it negative, some of it depressing and some of it inspiring; at times the news of the day was as infuriating or outlandish as it was uplifting and amusing. Whatever the adjective used to characterize what has happened these last 12 months, taken all together, it has all been the story of Cazenovia. Instead of surveying, month-by-month, all the top stories of the year as we did for 2013, this year we have chosen what we feel were the 10 most important stories of the year to revisit.

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Local H&R Block branch to host free Affordable Care Act information day

Find out how ‘Obamacare’ will affect your 2014 taxes

The federal Affordable Care Act, popularly called Obamacare, which was made to create universal healthcare in America, took effect Jan. 1 of this year; and now than 2014 is coming to an end, the new health care will also affect people’s tax returns. Whether someone bought healthcare from a federal marketplace or not, there are issues to be taken into account at tax time, from reconciling the healthcare tax credit to calculating the penalties to knowing the penalty exceptions — and one local tax preparation company is offering free help to next week in navigating and understanding the tax effects of the new law.

CACDA working to create community programs for seniors, parents

Has scheduled two needs assessments focus groups for community input

The Cazenovia Area Community Development Association (CACDA) is currently undertaking a project to see if there is both a desire and a need by the Cazenovia community to have facilities and programs for local senior citizens and stay-at-home/homeschooling parents.

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State gives more than $1 million in grants to Cazenovia-area businesses

Four Cazenovia-area businesses last week were awarded more than $1.8 million in state grant funding by the New York State Regional Economic Development Council. The funds will go towards the creation of a new Cazenovia hotel, the expansion of an existing Cazenovia vineyard, the expansion of a Cazenovia restaurant and inn and the transformation of a commercial building in Nelson into an agri-tourism-based destination.

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School board, district looking to regain lost state funding through advocacy push

In the past five years, the Cazenovia Central School District has lost $6.2 million dollars in state aid, due to the way the state legislature and governor divvy up money at budget time using the state’s Gap Elimination Adjustment program. Cazenovia has survived the low funding coupled with increased unfunded state mandates by cutting programs and staff, increasing the district tax levy and using up its reserve funds. But now, coming into the school year 2015-16 budgeting process, Cazenovia is nearly out of money with nothing left to cut.

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Religious release time conversation continues at school board meeting

More than 100 people — at least 50 from St. James Roman Catholic Church — attended the Cazenovia Board of Education meeting on Monday; most of them were there to stand up, literally, in support of the district’s religious release time program for district students.

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New invasive species identified in Cazenovia Lake

In addition to European watermilfoil, zebra mussels and blue-green algae, Cazenovia Lake now has a new invasive species in its waters: European Frog-Bit.

Town planning board closes public hearing on Owera Vineyards’ proposed event building

After a two-hour public hearing to discuss the proposed new 6,300 square-foot events building by Owera Vineyards on its East Lake Road land, the Cazenovia Town Planning Board closed the public hearing on the issue, which means a decision by the board on whether or not to approve the application must be made within the next two months. The hearing was similar to many of the previous public hearings on Owera’s proposals during the past year with East Lake Road neighborhood residents voicing concerns over the winery’s noise, lighting, traffic and hours of operation. There were, however, a few new points and facts brought up at the planning board’s Dec. 4 meeting — including the news that Owera owner Peter Muserlain is currently in the midst of an intellectual property theft lawsuit that potentially could affect, if not disable, his plans for the new winery building.

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