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Jason Emerson

Stories by Jason

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Cazenovia again achieves high state test scores for 2014

Average math scores increase while ELA scores decrease for students in grades 3 through 8

The state education department Thursday released the results of the 2014 English Language Arts and math test scores for students in grades 3 to 8, and Cazenovia Central School District remained a high achieving district, scoring more than 20 percentage points above the state average in both subjects. While Cazenovia’s continued high scores is good news for the district, the results were a mixed bag, with math scores having improved by more than 7 percent, but ELA scores declined by nearly 5 percent.

Nelson town board works to improve alternate process for planning board, ZBA

The Nelson Town Board last week discussed how to improve the quality of its planning board and zoning board of appeals alternates by ensuring that candidates for the positions understand the requirements, education and dedication necessary to do the job.

Cazenovia town board continues public hearings on noise ordinance, special event permit

Board approves new law on permitted uses in New Woodstock hamlet

In a relatively quiet, quick and straightforward meeting last week, the Cazenovia Town Board held four public hearings, scheduled four more and attended to other basic business. The board continued for the third time each public hearings on the proposed noise ordinance and special events permit laws that have been under consideration since May. The proposed laws would prevent and control excessive noise and establish procedures and requirements to hold special events throughout the town.

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Boys aged 8, 11 rescue man who fell into DeRuyter Lake

“You are our heroes,” man says in thank you note

An 8-year-old New Woodstock boy and his 11-year-old cousin on vacation at DeRuyter Lake acted quickly and decisively last week when they rescued a middle-aged man who fell out of his boat about 100 yards from shore and was wearing an unsecured life vest.

Final version of proposed Western Gateway zoning law now online

Village board may vote on law at Sept. 2 meeting

Three months, five public hearings and vast amounts of public comment after the introduction of the proposed Western Gateway zoning district law, village officials have posted online the fifth and final version of the proposed legislation. The village board intends to continue receiving public input on the proposal until its next regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 2, at which time it will officially close the public hearing and could possibly vote on the law.

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Cazenovia wine continues to receive accolades

Owera wins three medals at state fair, Wine Spectator magazine recognizes local restaurants

Wine producers and wine purveyors in Cazenovia have a history of receiving recognition and awards for their high quality products — and the trend shows no signs of stopping. In recent weeks, Cazenovia’s only winery received three medals at the 2014 New York State Fair and two village restaurants were recognized by Wine Spectator magazine for the quality of their wine lists.

Ledyard Avenue neighbors consult attorney to fight proposed Western Gateway rezoning plan

Fourth revision of proposed law unveiled, discussed at latest public hearing

The residents of Ledyard Avenue have consulted a local zoning attorney to help them fight the village’s proposed law to create a new Western Gateway zoning district on their street; and that attorney told the village board last week that the Western Gateway proposal is nothing more than “spot zoning” that benefits a few to the detriment of the village and, if the law is passed, it will be “vulnerable” to a legal challenge.

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Adirondack Distilling Company brings spirit to the farmers market

Central New York is well-known for its hops and grape industries, and the beer and wine that comes from it, but is not as well recognized for its production of spirits. The Empire State is known, however, for its corn; and every Saturday morning at the Cazenovia Farmers Market, patrons can sample a new, local product made from 100 percent New York corn — hand-crafted vodka, gin, white whiskey and bourbon from the Adirondack Distilling Company.

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Meadowood Farms wins two awards at 2014 American Cheese Society

Meadowood Farms has two new additions to its awards collection, after its “Ledyard” and “Strawbridge” sheep’s milk cheeses last week received honors at the 2014 America Cheese Society annual competition in Sacramento, Calif.

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Taste of Cazenovia to be held at Willow Bank Yacht Club

More sponsors, increased participants scheduled for this year’s annual event

The gourmand, the oenophile, the epicurean, the zymurgist — whatever the label for people who love good food and drink, they all will be happy on Sept. 9, when the annual Taste of Cazenovia event returns. This year, for the first time ever, the event will be held at the Willow Bank Yacht Club.

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Cazenovia police, Dunkin Donuts, raise money for Special Olympics

Police officers were swarming rooftops last week throughout Central New York communities — not searching for criminals, but raising awareness and money for New York Special Olympics athletes through the “Cops on Top” fundraiser. The annual event saw police officers standing on the roofs of participating Dunkin Donuts shops, getting the attention of local patrons, while volunteers on the ground collected donations and gave away free gifts.

Peggy’s Lot to change to monthly permit parking during daytime hours

Two new 10-minute spots for postal parking also added

Cazenovia residents and visitors are not paying to use “Peggy’s Lot,” the paid public parking lot next to the post office on Lincklaen Street, so the village board decided Monday it was time to change how the lot is operated. Starting next week, 18 of the 23 spaces in the lot will be offered for monthly use via parking passes during daytime hours, while three spots will remain general use at the cost of $1 per hour. The remaining two spots, closest to the post office, last week were changed to free, 10-minute parking for postal patrons.

Zoning board hears further arguments in Owera codes enforcement appeal, says decision will come in August

After listening to an hour of legal arguments and public comments concerning Owera Vineyards’ appeal of code enforcement decisions regarding winery operations, the town Zoning Board of Appeals Monday closed its public hearing on the issue and declared it would make a decision in the case by its August meeting.

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Fire Department salutes former chief John Haley during Monday funeral

Ladder trucks from Cazenovia and DeWitt fire departments were poised in front of the Cazenovia Fire House on Monday, July 28, a U.S. flag suspended between the two extended ladders, as firefighters from Cazenovia, DeWitt, and numerous other local, regional and state fire and emergency services organizations said goodbye to their colleague, John Haley.

Village looking for public input to improve usage of Lincklaen Street pay parking lot

It has been nearly one year since the opening of the “Peggy’s Lot,” the paid public parking lot next to the post office on Lincklaen Street, and usage of the lot has not been as robust as the village board had hoped. In an effort to address this issue of the parking lot’s under-utilization, the village board is seeking public input on ways the village can improve the lot’s attractiveness for parking.

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Thousands turn out for 2014 Madison County Open Farm Day

More than 5,000 people spent the day on the farm last Saturday, July 26, for the seventh annual Madison County Open Farm Day event. Farmers from all corners of the county, offering everything from beef to bison, from honey to mushrooms, from fruits to vegetables and everything in between, opened their farms for the day to allow the general public to come and see exactly where their food comes from and what it takes to make it available.

Town board working on four proposed laws, joint sewer district consolidation agreement

The Cazenovia Town Board last week moved forward on four proposed local laws and the proposed joint sewer district consolidation agreement by holding three public hearings, introducing one new law and setting five more public hearings to occur between now and Sept. 8.

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Cazenovia will have a hotel and conference center

Planning board approves proposed hotel site plan for Village Edge South on Route 20

Cazenovia will have a four-story, 82-room hotel and conference center located in the Village Edge South area on Route 20 across from the Town and Country plaza — the result of last week’s unanimous approval by the Village Planning Board of the subdivision, site plan, architecture and special permit application of Cazenovia Hospitality LLC.

School board approves annual appointments

New superintendent presides over first meeting at head of Cazenovia district

The Cazenovia Board of Education held its annual organizational meeting last week, during which it made its yearly appointments and authorizations for the upcoming school year. New district Superintendent Matt Reilly, who officially took over as head of the district on July 1, presided over the meeting and said he has had an excellent and welcoming beginning to his new position.

Fenner town board clarifies: It opposes Clean Water Act resolution verbiage, not clean water

The Fenner Town Board has received a lot of community feedback and concern during the past month about its June resolution to oppose New York state’s Clean Water Act Resolution, with many residents asking board members why they oppose clean water, Town Supervisor Dave Jones said during the board’s July 10 regular monthly meeting.

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Keeping it local: Cazenovia entrepreneur raising funds to grow local necktie business

For men, wearing a handsome — and unique — necktie can garner attention, start conversations and make a lasting first impression. TieBros, an online retailer of premium pre-tied neckties with some of the world’s most refined knots, not only wants to help men “stay classy,” the founders also want to keep the business and the funding 100 percent in America — and they are currently in the middle of a Kickstarter fundraising campaign to help them remain headquartered in North Syracuse.

Mann, Joseph swap commission assignments in annual village board reorganization

Trustees Amy Mann and Jim Joseph have swapped their commissioner assignments in the village board’s latest annual board organization, with Mann transitioning from police commissioner to village works commissioner, and Joseph leaving village works to become police commissioner.

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Brewster Inn tentative expansion plans presented at latest Western Gateway public hearing

At the second public hearing in seven days concerning the village’s proposed rezoning of Ledyard Avenue into a “Western Gateway” development district, Brewster Inn owner Richard Hubbard offered some new information into the discussion by having his architect present a brief slideshow of the tentative Brewster Inn expansion plans. Hubbard’s plan is to purchase the houses at 8 and 10 Ledyard Ave. — formerly a single-property house and carriage barn — directly next door to the Brewster Inn at 6 Ledyard Ave., and create a new Brewster Inn overnight wedding and dining venue.

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Tornado in Smithfield kills four, Gov. Cuomo visits the scene

The National Weather Service confirmed Wednesday morning that the storm that killed four people in Smithfield Tuesday night was a tornado. The round of severe storms that hit Madison County Tuesday evening caused widespread damage in the towns of Smithfield, Sullivan and Lenox. Hardest hit was Goff Road and Northrup Road in Smithfield, where the tornado came through, completely destroying four residential structures, damaging three residential structures and completely destroying one barn, Madison County Sheriff Allen Riley said during a press conference Wednesday morning.

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Cazenovia H&R Block named one of top 100 franchise branches in U.S.

The Cazenovia branch of H&R Block was recently named one of the top 100 H&R Block franchises out of 4,500 in the United States. The recognition was given for having some of the highest client satisfaction and business growth numbers in the company.

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Cazenovia weed harvester takes to the lake

For the past two weeks, Cazenovia residents and visitors may have seen a strange-looking boat out on Cazenovia Lake — like a diminutive paddleboat with a treadmill in the front, and often covered with weeds. This is the town of Cazenovia’s newly purchased weed harvester, and it has been working to divest the lake of milfoil since late June.

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Happy ending: wheelchair-bound boys allowed to join July 4 Foot Races after initial denial

Syracuse Chargers Track Club reverses controversial decision amid public outrage, national media exposure

The news broke early Wednesday morning, July 2, that the Syracuse Chargers Track Club had denied the request of 12-year-old twin boys, Jack and Nolan Willis of Manlius, who have muscular dystrophy and are wheelchair-bound, from participating in the annual Cazenovia July 4 Foot Races 10-mile race. After nearly 36 hours of public outrage and national media attention, the Chargers board reversed its decision and announced that the Willis brothers would be allowed to participate after all.

Ledyard Avenue neighbors continue to oppose Western Gateway proposal

After three public meetings and three proposal drafts, Ledyard Avenue residents remain opposed to the proposed new law that would change the zoning on their street — what is being called the “Western Gateway district” — to allow for more and varied building uses in the area. Continuing to question not only the reason, but also the motivations, behind the proposal, project opponents filled the village board meeting room last week to continue to press for the withdrawal of the law, or, at the very least, significant revisions, clarifications and changes to the proposed language.

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Brian Tait funeral directing license suspended for six months

State health department takes action 18 months after Tait pleads guilty to two misdemeanor charges

Tait Funeral Home director Brian Tait has had his license to practice funeral directing suspended for six months by the state health department, the result of his 2012 guilty pleas to two misdemeanors stemming from his arrest for subjecting a number of his female employees to inappropriate physical exams.

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Willis brothers will be allowed to participate in Cazenovia July 4 Foot Races

Syracuse Chargers reverse course on previous denial of wheelchair-bound boys request to participate

A solution has been found to the quell the recent brouhaha over the Syracuse Chargers Track Club's denial of the request of 12-year-old twin boys, Jack and Nolan Willis of Manlius, who have muscular dystrophy and are wheelchair-bound, from participating in the annual Cazenovia July 4 Foot Races 10-mile race tomorrow. After nearly 36 hours of outrage and criticism directed against the club for its decision, the Chargers board announced that the Willis brothers will be allowed to participate in the race.

Zoning board moves Owera code enforcement appeal hearing to July 28

It will be another three weeks before the town Zoning Board of Appeals considers the appeal of Owera Vineyards over a decision by the town codes enforcement officer denying Owera’s plans for a June 10 event. The delay in the case — originally heard by the board on June 23 — was decided after the CEO’s attorney filed a motion for the ZBA to dismiss the appeal altogether as “untimely,” claiming that Owera had missed the 60-day appeal deadline as required by law.

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Goodbye, Mr. Dubik – a look back at superintendent’s 38-year career in education

In his 14 years in the Cazenovia Central School District — 10 of those as superintendent — Bob Dubik has achieved many successes, made institutional changes, passed 10 budgets, attended at least one event for every school sport and extracurricular activity offered and been a constant and visible participant in community organizations and events. “I’m a proud father,” Dubik said after ticking off the numerous accomplishments of Cazenovia students he has fostered and witnessed since he became superintendent in 2004. “I’m proud of everything, not just one thing that we’ve accomplished. … Certainly there are things I will miss, especially the kids — seeing them every day, getting hugs, cards, well-wishes from parents, the thank yous and appreciation from community members.” Last Saturday’s commencement ceremonies for the Cazenovia High School Class of 2014 were, in fact, Dubik’s last as superintendent. He retired on June 30, after a career of more than 30 years in education.

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Graduation: Cazenovia High School Class of 2014 crosses the stage

It was a sunny, 80-degree day in Cazenovia last Saturday, June 28, as the Cazenovia High School Class of 2014 celebrated its commencement on the green outside the Cazenovia Middle School. Hundreds of white folding chairs were packed with family, friends, teachers and district staff as the 132 candidates for graduation, dressed in their blue and white robes, each holding a yellow rose, received their awards, scholarships, general accolades and, of course, their high school diplomas.

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Lions Club adds more, louder shells to Fourth of July fireworks show

The 2014 Fourth of July Fireworks over Cazenovia Lake will be the largest, loudest, most impressive show the Cazenovia Lions Club has ever sponsored — and the club is excited to show off the results to the community.

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Brewster Inn offers new, farm-fresh menu

The Brewster Inn on Ledyard Avenue is known for its elegant cuisine and farm-fresh menu items, but owner Richard Hubbard has been taking actions in recent months that he hopes will enhance his restaurant’s already impressive reputation. To do this, he has recently unveiled a brand new menu, one that includes 20 new items, offered in half-size as well as full-size portions, and all farm fresh from Cazenovia as well as from some of the highest quality farms and purveyors around the world.

Police chief warns Cazenovia residents to beware of new phone scam

A new phone scam has been reported by multiple village residents recently, and Cazenovia Police Chief Michael Hayes urges residents to be aware of the attempted fraud. The scam involves a call from someone who claims to be an attorney or police official who claims that the receiver’s relative has been arrested in Europe and needs money for bail.

Google Virtual Area Guide of Cazenovia now live online

People across the United States — and even the world — who may be curious about Cazenovia and wonder what the community looks like now can walk the streets in a virtual tour through the Google Sidewalk View / Virtual Area Guide of Cazenovia.

Lions Club honors 2013-14 students of the month

The Cazenovia Lions Club last week honored its 10 students of the month for the 2013-14 school year at its 12th annual end of the year dinner at Cazenovia College, which featured a presentation by world-renowned musician Samite Mulondo, founder of Musicians for World Harmony.

Approved: Residents pass public referendum on fire department retirement benefits

Two trustees, village justice also win reelection

Starting in 2015, members of the Cazenovia Volunteer Fire Department will begin accruing retirement benefits, sponsored by the village, in the amount of $700 per firefighter for each year of service completed. This proposed Length of Service Award Program (LOSAP) was overwhelmingly passed as a public referendum by a vote of 108 to 14approved by village voters during the June 17 village election. Also victorious on June 17, Trustees David Porter and Jim Joseph and Village Justice Timothy Moore won reelection to their respective positions. All three ran unopposed.

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School board approves new director of special education, high school principal

With Cazenovia’s 2013-14 school year just days from ending, a new district director of special education and a new high school principal have been selected for the 2014-15 school year. Terry Ward and Eric Knuth were unanimously appointed by the Cazenovia Board of Education during its June 16 regular monthly meeting.

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Local World War II veteran recalls D-Day bombing runs

Seventy years after Allied forces created the largest armada ever assembled to accomplish the greatest seaborn invasion in history, 96-year-old Cazenovia veteran, Fred Taylor, can recall flying his B-17 bomber during the D-Day invasion of Normandy as if it were only yesterday. “There were so many planes in the air it looked like Broadway,” Taylor said. “We bombed ahead of the troops. We flew at 12,000 feet — low altitude for heavy bombers. We could see the men down there. The English Channel looked like Broadway and Times Square with all the ships and transports, loaded with an enormous number of men and supplies. We put ashore 400,000 men. The Germans didn’t stand a chance.”

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Magee honored for 50 years of service with Erieville Fire Department

The Nelson Town Board last week honored Erieville firefighter Bob Magee for his milestone of 50 years of service with the Erieville Fire Department, and presented him a plaque in commemoration of the achievement.

Town board hears earful on proposed noise ordinance and special events laws

One month after the Cazenovia Town Board officially proposed new town laws to prevent and control excessive noise and to establish procedures and requirements to hold special events, numerous town residents and business owners attended a public hearing to voice their concerns and criticisms of the potential actions.

Sour grapes: Owera Vineyards appeals codes officer decision denying scheduled event to zoning board

After a quiet spring, the controversy between Owera Vineyards and the town of Cazenovia over the winery’s allowed operating procedures has reared up again — this time in the form of an appeal to the town zoning board of appeals over a recent decision by the town codes enforcement officer denying Owera’s plans for a June 10 event. The winery is repeating its previous claim that its three-season events tent is an indoor, not an outdoor, structure as the town claims, and is offering a new argument that its hours of operation as approved under its original site plan approval are not enforceable by the town.

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New Canastota brewery mixes local ingredients with local history

Erie Canal Brewing Company is the only local brewery to use 100 percent Madison County ingredients

In the 19th century, hops were the staple crop of Central New York; and Madison County was actually known as the “Hops Capital of the United States.” Prohibition, plus a killer hops fungus, decimated the county’s agricultural pride — but in recent years beer-making has made a comeback in CNY in general, and in Madison County in particular. Under state law, for a brewery to be deemed made in New York 20 percent of the hops and 20 percent of all other ingredients must be grown or produced within the state. There is a new brewery in Canastota, however, that not only gets most of its ingredients from a farm in Chittenango, but is the only brewery around that boasts a beer made from ingredients 100 percent grown in Madison County — Erie Canal Brewing Company.

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Village election to be held June 17

Trustees, village justice and firefighter retirement program proposition on ballot

In less than one week, Cazenovia village residents will go to the polls to elect — or, more correctly, to reelect — two members of the village board of trustees and the village justice. Voters also will decide whether to accept or reject a ballot proposition that would allow the village to create a retirement benefit program for village volunteer firefighters. The only uncertain outcome on the ballot is the proposition, since the candidates for trustee and justice — all incumbents — all are running unopposed.

Village board begins work on possible Riverside Drive redevelopment plan

The village board last week took its first official step to attempt to redevelop — once again — the currently vacant municipal land on Riverside Drive behind the Cazenovia Public Library by tasking the village’s professional planner to create a development plan and detailed map of the area.

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Village board braced by extensive opposition to Ledyard Avenue ‘Western Gateway’ rezoning proposal

The mayor and village trustees received an earful of resident concern and opposition last week regarding a village proposal to rezone the Ledyard Avenue/Route 20 entrance corridor into the village — what the board is calling the “Western Gateway” — as a way to promote economic development as well as to maintain the appearance and historical integrity of the grand homes on the road. Calling it an ill-conceived and under-developed plan that could turn the spacious residential corridor into a village-soul-killing commercial strip, neighbors questioned numerous aspects of the proposed law, including the allowed commercial uses in the new zoning district, the availability and aesthetics of parking, the danger to the existing historic homes, the benefits and potential spot zoning for the owner of The Brewster Inn and even the way in which the village notified the neighbors of the proposed zone change.

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Demolished: Farnham Street house removed to create fire department parking lot

Village spends $42,000 for action deemed necessary for resident safety and community aesthetic

A property that has been deemed a significant eyesore and potential public health hazard was removed from the village of Cazenovia last week when the derelict house at 6 Farnham St. was demolished and a gravel parking lot for Cazenovia Fire Department members put in its place.

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Google Street View photographers capture Cazenovia in high resolution

Some people would say being named the second-coolest small town in America this year has helped put Cazenovia on the map — and now that map will show high-resolution street view images of Cazenovia’s main streets and some businesses. This is because a Google Trusted Photographer team was in Cazenovia last week to photograph streets, sidewalks and storefronts for Google Maps’ “Street View” application — and the team will be back this week to photograph the insides of local businesses if owners request the job.

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