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Jason Emerson

Stories by Jason

School district budget passes, new board members elected

Mehlbaum, Orbach, Parmalee to be next school board members

Cazenovia Central School District residents approved three ballot propositions, including the annual budget, by a 5-to-1 margin each and elected three new school board members during the annual budget vote on May 19.

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Town prepares to demolish New Woodstock highway garage

Will erect new state police barracks satellite office

The old town highway garage in New Woodstock — currently serving as a New York State Police satellite office — is about to be demolished, with a new building and garage, as well as extra public parking, to be constructed in its place. The project, announced by the town board in February, is expected to be completed by the end of summer.

Town of Cazenovia to resume sale of hunting and fishing licenses

Local hunters and anglers can now purchase their hunting and fishing licenses from the Cazenovia town clerk rather than traveling to other town offices or regional sporting goods stores. The town board last week unanimously approved (on a vote of 3-0 with two members absent) the resumption of the license sales by the town after a 16-month hiatus.

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DEC: High volume of dead sunfish in Cazenovia Lake a natural event

Cazenovians, especially those who live on Cazenovia Lake, have noticed an unusually high number of dead and dying sunfish in and around the shores of the lake, which has caused many to wonder why and what is the cause. According to experts, it’s stress.

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Middle school orchestra, band placed first and second at Darien Lake competition

The Cazenovia Middle School orchestra and band traveled to Darien Lake amusement park last Saturday, May 16, to compete in the annual Darien Lake Music Festival, where they placed first and second, respectively, in their competition groups.

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Ground broken for Hampton Inn and Suites on Route 20, scheduled for April 2016 opening

For the second time in two weeks, a major economic development project that will have a vast local and regional impact has broken ground in Cazenovia. This latest event, held Friday morning, May 15, in the Village Edge South area across from the Town and Country plaza on Route 20, was the official dedication ceremony for the new 80-room Hampton Inn and Suites hotel and conference center being built by Cazenovia Hospitality LLC.

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School board candidates square off at LWV forum

More than 50 Cazenovia Central School District residents came out to the high school Wednesday night to meet and hear the issue positions of the four candidates seeking seats on the school board in the upcoming May 19 election. The four candidates — Jennifer Bradstreet, David Mehlbaum, Louis Orbach and Jennifer Parmalee — all participated in the forum, which was sponsored by the Cazenovia League of Women Voters and moderated by Anne Redfern.

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Cazenovia Board of Education election candidates profiles

The May 19 Cazenovia Board of Education election will feature four candidates running for three open seats. The candidates are David Mehlbaum, Louis Orbach, Jennifer Parmalee and Jennifer Bradstreet. The three highest vote-getters will be elected to the board. Each will serve a three-year term, beginning July 1. The Cazenovia Republican sent each candidate a questionnaire in order to publish a profile to inform potential voters of who they are and what they stand for, although not all candidates followed the template we provided.

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New wine and liquor store opens on Albany Street

Oenophiles in Cazenovia now have a second option in the village on where they can purchase their wine, as well as liquor, with last week’s official opening of J.S. Hight and Sons wine store at 58 Albany St.

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Shovels in the dirt

Empire Farmstead Brewery breaks ground on Rippleton Road

The shovels were in the ground, the dignitaries were in place, the firkin was tapped — and after years of planning, discussions and municipal approvals, construction has begun on Empire Brewing Company’s farmstead brewery on Rippleton Road.

In brief: Cazenovia village board meeting

The Cazenovia Village Board of Trustees had a light and quick meeting last Monday, May 4, with no major items on the agenda. The board made a number of approvals and announcements.

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Albany Street shop Industrial Loft brings new life to old items

Mark Papa has been recycling and repurposing defunct, discarded items for new home décor use before television shows like “American Pickers” made it popular. Sitting inside Industrial Loft, his shop at 53 Albany St. that opened in November 2014, he is surrounded by a cornucopia of his creations: An old industrial circular fan that is now a coffee table, a wooden door that has been turned into a bed headboard, an old vent in a barn copula has become a chandelier. For the past 20 years, Papa has been “climbing through barns, factories and abandon buildings” searching for that one of a kind piece that he can remake into something unique.

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Canastota author, angler writes book on fishing Oneida Lake

Spider Rybaak has been fishing the waters of Central New York for half a century, and fishing heavily in Oneida Lake for the past 15 years; he is an angler, a teacher and a writer; and he has recently parlayed his trio of skills into his latest book, “Fishing Oneida Lake.”

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Isabella celebrates 10 years in business

Ever since she studied merchandising and design in college, Karen Eldridge had a goal to open her own women’s clothing store. In 2005, that dream became a reality when she opened the doors of Isabella at 61 Albany St. in Cazenovia. That grand opening was 10 years ago this month, and during that time Isabella has remained in the same location, selling its unique, quality items with a smile. And the business is still going strong.

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McDowell Insurance Agency relocates office

The McDowell Insurance Agency, formerly located in the White Lilacs building at 9 Albany St., has a new location at 133 Albany St., next to Buyea's Hardware store. The firm, which offers a full range of insurance and financial services, made its move down Albany Street on Dec. 1, after White Lilacs changed owners.

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Phillips named Mr. Caz 2015

Eleven Cazenovia High School students from grades eight through 12 strutted their stuff before a sold-out crowd last Friday, April 24, for the sixth annual Mr. Caz Pageant. In the end, only one could walk away with the crown — and that was senior Danny Phillips.

School board offers first reading of revised religious release time policy

The Cazenovia Board of Education last week received the first “reading” of the proposed revision to the district’s religious release time policy for students who attend religious education during the school day. The changes in the policy do not effect whether or not the program will continue to exist — it must under state law — but rather how it is administered and how it ensures that all students in the district receive “appropriate educational opportunities” throughout the school day.

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Village sued over Western Gateway rezoning

Two families who live on Ledyard Avenue have filed suit in state supreme court against the village of Cazenovia, claiming that the Western Gateway rezoning law approved in September 2014 was illegal spot zoning that is inconsistent with the village comprehensive plan and should therefore be annulled.

School board approves proposed 2015-16 budget

District stays within tax levy limit, maintain all programs

The Cazenovia Board of Education last night approved the proposed 2015-16 district budget of $26,858,858. The budget represents an increase of $362,904 or 1.37 percent from last year, and assumes a tax levy increase of 2.04 percent which is at, but does not exceed, the district’s tax levy limit for 2015-16. The budget maintains all existing academic, athletic and extracurricular programs as well as all existing class sizes.

Cazenovia town board continues benthic mat rental program for 2015

The Cazenovia Town Board last week voted once again offer its benthic mat rental program to lakefront property owners for the 2015 season to continue its efforts to manage excessive weed growth in Cazenovia Lake.

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Town finds, donates antique snow scoop to county historical society

After decades gathering dust in the New Woodstock Town Highway Garage, an antique horse-drawn snow scoop, once used to remove snow from the streets and sidewalks of Cazenovia, has been donated to the Madison County Historical Society.

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Village celebrates Arbor Day, dedicates four new trees for Lakeland Park

More than 100 people gathered on a warm, sunny spring morning in Lakeland Park this past Saturday for the Cazenovia Tree Commission’s annual Arbor Day celebration and tree planting ceremony. Members of the commission were present to explain the history and significance of Arbor Day as well as to talk about the future of Lakeland Park and its trees; the five middle school members of the Earth Club helped honor the day by reading the official Arbor Day proclamation and Burton Street Elementary School students sang the song “This Pretty Planet.”

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Project Café sponsors annual Earth Day village clean-up

More than one dozen members of Project Café, along with a few members of the Cazenovia community, spent an hour on Sunday, April 19, walking village streets picking up winter garbage.

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The changing face of Cazenovia’s downtown business district

The nature of communities is that they are often in a constant state of flux. Businesses change and adapt, close and move, while new businesses come in to offer something different to the local market and hope their business model works. In Cazenovia during the past eight months, there has been a great deal of change to the local business community with shops closing or moving locations, and others coming in to take over the newly vacant store fronts. Whether such change is, or will be, positive or negative remains to be seen — but many local officials and business owners see potential in what is happening, although they also see a need to change and adapt to certain realities of the marketplace and the needs of customers.

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Owera brings home five medals from Finger Lakes International Wine Competition

Cazenovia’s sole winery, Owera Vineyards, added recently to its ever-growing list of awards and accolades by bringing home five medals from the 2015 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition.

Fenner town office building, stop signs vandalized

Four stops signs in the town of Fenner and the main entrance door into the Fenner town office building were vandalized with spray-painted swastika signs recently, an action that will cost town taxpayers around $400 to fix.

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Cazenovia district officials to allow silent reading for students who opt-out of state testing

The Cazenovia school district administration team has decided to change its policy for students who opt-out of grades 3 through 8 math, science and ELA state assessment tests this month. Instead of sitting at their desks for 90 minutes staring into space each day for the six days of the testing, students not taking the tests now will be allowed to read quietly at their desks.

Village board approves tentative 2015 budget, taxes to increase slightly

Also announces 6 percent increase in village water rates

The Cazenovia Village Board unanimously adopted its tentative 2015 budget last week and, although tax rates for the coming year will decrease, village assessments this year have increased after last year’s property revaluation, which means the average homeowner will see a slight rise in their taxes.

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Three local teens arrested in February bomb incident at home of Cazenovia High School teacher

State Police in Morrisville have arrested three teenagers and charged them with criminal mischief, disorderly conduct and trespassing in connection to the February incident in which a Cazenovia High School teacher found two homemade bombs outside of her house.

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Cazenovia native named finalist in Realtor Magazine’s 30 under 30 contest

Twenty-seven-year-old Alex Parker, a native of Cazenovia who currently lives in Tallahassee, Fla., sold more than $22 million in Florida real estate last year. That achievement, among other factors, earned him a place as one of the final 50 candidates in Realtor Magazine’s 30 Under 30 2014 national contest recently. And, while Parker was ultimately not chosen last week to be one of the final 30 honorees, becoming a finalist and earning the experience and exposure of the contest was the achievement of a years-long goal for him.

Former Cazenovia College student indicted for on-campus rape charges

A man suspended from Cazenovia College last year after being accused of raping a fellow student has been indicted by a Madison County grand jury and was arraigned Friday, April 3, in Madison County Court. Jeffrey Diaz, 22, of New York City, was arrested by Cazenovia Police and charged with rape in the first degree and performing a criminal sex act in the first degree, both Class B felonies.

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Tait loses lawsuit against department of health

A New York State Supreme Court judge has ruled against Cazenovia funeral home director Brian Tait’s attempts to sue the state department of health over what Tait claims was a deal to suspend his funeral directing license for six months and seek no further administrative actions against him.

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Cazenovia named a top public school district in New York state in latest ranking

Cazenovia Central School District has been selected as one of the top 100 school districts in New York state, according to a list developed by research analyst company Niche.

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Something for every occasion — Gabrielle Chocolates sweetens up Albany Street

Two years ago, a mysterious chocolate shop opened for one night at a small, non-descript location at 72 Albany St. during the annual Cazenovia Christmas Walk. Many people in the community wondered what it was, where it came from and where it went to when it disappeared the next day. Four months ago, in mid-December 2014, Gabrielle Chocolates opened again at 72 Albany St. — but this time, the chocolate shop stayed open as a permanent addition to the downtown business district. And with the chocolate-heavy Easter holiday right around the corner, owner Gabrielle Regan hopes her handmade “chocolate creations for any occasion,” as her motto goes, will entice people to stop in.

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Cazenovia Public Library launches new website

The Cazenovia Public Library last week launched its new and updated website — still with the same web address — that will be easier for the library to use and update, and more user-friendly for its patrons.

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Veteran administrator appointed as new F-M superintendent

Dr. Craig J. Tice, an experienced administrator and current superintendent of Marcellus Central School District, was unanimously appointed the new Fayetteville-Manlius district superintendent by the F-M Board of Education on March 30. Tice, an educator with four college degrees and experience as both a teacher and administrator in districts such as Webster, Skaneateles and Marcellus, was approved for a three-year contract that includes an initial annual salary of $192,000. He will officially begin his new duties on July 1.

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Burton Street students participate in Health and Wellness Fair

Students at Burton Street Elementary School last week spent a day learning and even teaching about physical and mental health at the school’s first Health and Wellness Fair.

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Man convicted of Maegan Spindler death sentenced to more than 30 years in prison

Ronald Raymond Fischer Jr., the man convicted in February of the 2013 death of Cazenovia resident Maegan Spinder, was sentenced to more than 30 years in South Dakota state prison this week — the maximum sentence possible for his two felony counts of vehicular homicide.

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Burton Street students participate in Health and Wellness Fair

Students at Burton Street Elementary School last week spent a day learning and even teaching about physical and mental health at the school’s first Health and Wellness Fair.

Three school board seats up for election, at least two incumbents not running

Two of the three Cazenovia Board of Education members whose seats are up for election on May 19 confirmed Monday night that they will not seek reelection. Current board President Pat Vogl, a 12-year member, and Karin Marris, a 12-year member, both said they have decided not to run again simply because they have been on the board long enough and are eager to give someone else a chance to serve.

Steinhorst named new Cazenovia varsity football head coach

Jay Steinhorst, a longtime assistant coach with the Cazenovia Lakers varsity football team, Monday night was approved by the school board to become the new head coach.

State police still investigating homemade bomb incident, school district concludes the matter

New York State Police 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.

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Cudney wins second national snowshoe championship, profiled in Sports Illustrated magazine

Cazenovia native Jeanette Cudney has done it again. Less than one month after winning the junior women’s 5K world championship title in snowshoe racing in Quebec, Canada, Cudney recently won her second consecutive U.S. national junior women’s snowshoe title at the 15th annual Dion Snowshoes United States National Snowshoe Championship in Eau Claire, Wis. Cudney’s domination of the junior’s women’s category in the sport of snowshoe racing during the past year has also landed her recognition in the latest issue of Sports Illustrated as an outstanding amateur athlete in the “Faces in the Crowd” section of the magazine.

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More than 100 shaved, nearly $50K raised at Cazenovia St. Baldrick’s event

For the second consecutive year, Cazenovians have raised nearly $50,000 to help increase childhood cancer research and awareness through a St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraising event. Hundreds of people showed up to the event, held Sunday, March 22, at Burton Street Elementary School, more than 100 got their heads shaved and, as of press time, a little more than $47,000 was raised.

Amish culture discussed at community event

More than 100 residents of the greater Cazenovia area crowded into the Cazenovia Public Library community room last week to hear from members of the Peterboro-Cazenovia-Canastota Amish community who offered a discussion on Amish life, history, tradition and culture.

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Cuomo, Valesky, Magee respond to Cazenovia first graders’ letters about state school aid

Students in Catharine Taylor’s first grade class at Burton Street Elementary School received some surprise mail recently — from New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo, State Senator David Valesky and State Assemblyman Bill Magee. The three officials all wrote responses to letters sent by Taylor’s 25 students, mailed in early February, in which the students asked Cuomo, Valesky and Magee to restore Cazenovia’s state school aid funding to this year’s state budget.

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Cazenovia singers, musicians participate in spring All-County festival

Nearly 50 Cazenovia student musicians and singers in grades 5 through 12 performed in the annual Madison County Music Educators Association’s Spring All-County Music Festival, which was held March 13 and 14 at Vernon-Verona-Sherrill High School.

School district releases preliminary budget, considers exceeding tax levy limit

If New York state lawmakers do not pass a state budget by their April 1 deadline, the Cazenovia board of education may be forced to seek a tax levy limit increase in its 2015-16 budget to ensure it can continue to fund all existing district programs. Such a move is a gamble, however, because to exceed the limit requires a 60 percent voter majority or else the budget goes back to the community for a re-vote. This was the message conveyed to the Cazenovia Board of Education at its March 16 budget work session by Assistant Superintendent Bill Furlong during his presentation on the preliminary budget.

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Former Caz Fitness building undergoing renovations

Albany Street building to revert to retail, office space

When Caz Fitness closed its doors at 51 Albany St. in early February, local residents wondered why and what would occupy the space instead. Current construction activity in the building and “For Rent” signs in the windows have only increased the curiosity. The new owner of the building at 51 Albany St., Eric Burrell, said he is now ready to make public his plans. He is renovating the structure to create retail space on the first floor and office space on the second and third floors.

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Black Hawks touch down in Hamilton, company commander a Caz native

U.S. Army Captain Kyle Murray, a Cazenovia native currently stationed at Fort Drum, made a brief stop in the Cazenovia area recently — as commander of a Black Hawk helicopter squadron that touched down at the Hamilton airport as part of an air assault exercise.

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