The end of the year typically marks the time to reflect back on what has happened in our communities over the past 365 days. The year 2018 had a number of major headlines in the areas of community news, crime, arts, schools, business and sports that made us rejoice, lament, commiserate and, at times, shake our heads in utter consternation and confusion.
Thinking back over the past year, and looking through the past 52 issues of the Eagle Bulletin, there have been many important stories, other than our top stories, including the $9 million Meadowbrook-Limestone Inflow and Infiltration Abatement project, the opening of Hercules Candies’ storefront in East Syracuse, the Minoa banker who won $3 million in a scratch-off and the arrest of a couple in the stabbing death of a DeWitt man last December.
On the social media side of things, the stories with the widest appeal were stories about crime, new businesses and local tragedies, such as the double homicide at Chili’s in DeWitt and the murderer’s arrest, the Delphi Falls home fire described as a “total loss,” concerns over the Willowbrook Development project in Manlius, the opening of Heritage Hill Farm Brewery in Pompey and the loss of longtime volunteer Pat Tobin of the Fayetteville Tree Commission and two beloved high school students. The closing of Grover’s Table in Fayetteville received the most impressions on Facebook with 2,700 impressions.
Some celebrities also stopped by the community to promote products at local markets, including Gene Simmons of KISS fame and actor Jonathan Goldsmith, also known as The Most Interesting Man in the World.
Here are the top stories and issues that caught the attention of area residents during 2018:
Double homicide/robbery at Chili’s in DeWitt
This story, along with the developments that occurred afterwards, was definitely one of our most-read stories of the year.
On Sept. 15 at around 1:04 a.m., a robbery and double homicide occurred at the Chili’s Restaurant on 3691 Erie Blvd E in the Town of DeWitt. The suspect, William D. Wood Jr., 32, from the City of Syracuse, was arrested early Sunday morning, Sept. 16, and was charged with two counts of Murder in the First Degree and one count of Robbery in the first degree. Two days later on Sept. 18, DeWitt Police arrested three more for giving assistance to Wood —Ronald B. Green, 47; Tracy L. Brown, 53; and Ryan J. Brown, 30, all from the City of Syracuse.
Police arrested a fifth suspect —Jerome C. Pinkard, 29, of Syracuse — on Sept. 19 and charged him with the criminal sale of a firearm in the third degree.
Police identified the victims as Kristopher Hicks, a Chili’s worker, and Stephen Gudknecht, a Chili’s manager. They were killed near the end of their closing shift at the restaurant.
A vigil was held for them on Sept. 16 in front of the restaurant — attended by over 200 family, friends, coworkers and other community members — to honor their lives.
Wood fled the scene and was on the run for 24 hours, later arrested in Fulton at an address he frequented.
Jamesville-DeWitt Board of Education receives community backlash
It has been a tumultuous year for the Jamesville-DeWitt Board of Education as community disapproval of district proceedings and discussions (or lack thereof) have ignited a heavy presence of students, parents and teachers at nearly every meeting since last September.
On Sept. 10, over 60 students, parents and community members attended a board of education meeting, over 15 of which accused high school Choral Director Beth Quackenbush of multiple offenses, including “lying” to students and the administration, “inappropriate standards of perfection” and “ostracizing” students. While conversations like this were happening before, the sudden loss of recently-graduated student Blake Lucas elicited an even stronger reaction from the community and propelled the issue further.
On Oct. 1, a new superintendent was appointed — Assistant Superintendent Peter Smith — to take the place of Dr. Alice Kendrick, who announced her retirement this July after serving 23 years as the district superintendent and 40 years with the district altogether. She officially left her position Jan. 1, 2019.
Early November, two members of the board — then-board president Mark Schulman and board member Patrick Brown —resigned.
On Nov. 19, over one dozen students amplified their voices with signs at a board of education meeting— citing phrases from the district’s Code of Conduct and Handbook — to demand increased transparency from the board and the administration.
In response to parents’ and students’ demands for better communication and board transparency, the board refused to answer questions in public session, until board member Juanita Rivera-Ortiz broke the mold by announcing that her, along with three other board members, would begin holding trial-run “office hours” to hear the concerns forbidden at board meetings.
Beloved F-M high schooler passes away from brain cancer
Charlie Thomas Poole, a junior at Fayetteville-Manlius High School, passed away on the morning of Aug. 6 after a two-year fight against brain cancer. He was 17 years old.
Poole was an “active and vibrant member of the class of 2019, who loved life, family and friends,” according to a letter to parents from FM High School Executive Principal Ray Kilmer.
Poole was terminally diagnosed two years ago on Feb. 2, 2016 with an aggressive, pediatric brain tumor known as Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), which is an inoperable tumor found at the base of the brain.
“He loved every minute of this life and world. He will always be with us who had the privilege of knowing him, loving him and being loved by him,” wrote his mother Lynda in a public Facebook post. “He would want nothing more than for the rest of us to appreciate the life we have. To stop, look around and feel the wonder surrounding us, and cherish the connections with those in our lives.”
Poole was a communicant of St. Ann’s Church in Manlius, served as an altar server and sacristan, was a runner on the F-M cross country team and is remembered for his quirky humor and wit.
According to his obituary, Poole was a committed advocate for others in the DIPG community, reaching out to others suffering and offering peer support.
He donated his brain for DIPG Research to the Monje Lab at Stanford University and a green burial was held, upon his wish, at Greensprings Natural Cemetery Preserve in Newfield.
Morgan Management vs. the Village of Fayetteville
After the Village of Fayetteville dropped Rochester-developer Morgan Management’s apartment proposal for the second time after not meeting agreed-upon requirements, the developer filed a federal lawsuit against the village, claiming the decision “violated lawful procedures.”
At the start of the year in January, developers from Morgan Properties presented proposed rezoning changes to its Fayetteville Village Apartments application for the former O’Brien & Gere site to the Fayetteville Village Board.
The developers planned to rezone the 30-plus acre lot on 547 E Genesee St. to include five, three-story apartment buildings and 10, two-story townhouse style apartments totaling 200 apartment units.
However, in early May, a search warrant application was filed against Morgan Management, alleging that the company falsified income statements to obtain larger mortgages.
The indictment indicated that the loans involved totaled about $170 million.
This affidavit led to a 62-count indictment of Robert Morgan’s son, Todd, and nephew, Kevin, for conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud. Frank Giacobbe, previous owner of Aurora Capital Advisors, and Patrick Ogiony, managing director of Morgan Management, were also indicted by the same federal grand jury.
In September, FOUBU Environmental Services LLC — formed by O’Brien & Gere — and Morgan Acquisitions LLC filed a lawsuit against the village, asking the court to reverse the village’s decision and alleging its decision was “arbitrary and capricious,” used “unconstitutional exclusionary zoning,” was an “abuse of discretion,” and was taken “without just compensation.”
In December, Judge Anthony J. Paris ordered the village to make its final determination in either accepting or denying Morgan Management’s application by Feb. 19, 2019.
Manlius Art Cinema celebrates 100 years
Owners Nat Tobin and Eileen Lowell celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Manlius Art Cinema early this December with 10 cent films — the price of movies back in 1918.
The cinema at 135 E. Seneca Street in Manlius is Central New York’s oldest, and its owners also celebrated their 26th year in operating the theatre last April.
The single screen theatre, first called The Stand, began as a silent theatre, converted to sound in 1931 then went digital in 2012.
Reporter for the Eagle Bulletin and Cazenovia Republican.
Feb 18, 2019
Feb 18, 2019
Feb 18, 2019
Feb 18, 2019
Feb 17, 2019