Endicott Gets Funding For Local Bomb Squads

VESTAL, NY (WSKG) -The Village of Endicott is among the communities receiving funds for local bomb squads. Endicott has been awarded $100,000. $2 million is being spread among 12 communities across the state. The money comes from the federal Homeland Security Grant Program. It equips and trains local FBI-accredited bomb squads to check for improvised explosive devices.

Akshar Accusations Talking Point In Broome DA Race

Last week, a story broke that 52nd District State Senator Fred Akshar had an intimate relationship with the mother of a murder victim. It’s a case Akshar supervised while with the Broome County Sheriff’s office. This week, the story hasn’t gone away. It’s become part of the Broome County District Attorney race.

Elmira Enforcers Face Elimination In FHL Championship Series

VESTAL, NY (WSKG) — The Elmira Enforcers look to stay alive in the Federal Hockey League championship series tonight. Elmira trails Carolina two games to none in the best-of-five series. It lost both games to start the series last weekend. The team lost 4-3 in OT in game two. Heated exchanges after led to suspensions for the Enforcers.

For Second Time In Two Months, Binghamton University Student Is Killed; Suspect Now In Custody

UPDATE: A suspect in the killing of Binghamton University student Joao Souza is now in custody. According to the Press & Sun-Bulletin, Michael Roque, 20, of Massapequa, New York, was charged with second-degree murder. Roque pleaded not guilty and was remanded to the Broome County Jail. Roque is also a student at Binghamton University. He is accused of stabbing the victim multiple times with a knife.

With Net Neutrality Decision, This Model Could Offer More Broadband Choices For Rural Customers

Opponents of Thursday’s FCC decision to roll back net neutrality rules are concerned about the effect on broadband internet access, especially in rural areas. Bringing broadband to these areas can be expensive. For the last couple years, the FCC had regulated the internet as a utility. Now, that’s changed and some fear providers won’t have the incentive to bring better access to rural areas. One solution could be open access networks. These supply the infrastructure for broadband internet; things like fiber are laid down.

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As Ulysses Sells Historic Church, Memories Of Gas Spill Linger

Residents in Jacksonville, New York must still deal with fallout from an underground gas leak at a Mobil station in the 1970’s. Jacksonville is a hamlet in the Town of Ulysses in Tompkins County. Now, Ulysses owns the properties contaminated by the spill. That includes a historic Methodist church. The church is two stories tall.

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Steuben County Pursues Legal Action Against Big Pharma Over Opioid Epidemic

Steuben County plans to join the chorus of municipalities filing lawsuits over the opioid epidemic. The county legislature gave the unanimous go-ahead to pursue the lawsuit on Monday. Steuben is targeting major pharmaceutical companies and large prescribers. Large prescribers could mean places like hospital systems.  The decision came after the public urged legal action at forums in Bath, Corning and Hornell. The county population is relatively small, but still had 16 overdose deaths last year.  “The number is staggering in comparison to what we were looking at even five years ago.

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Residents Berate Rep. Tom Reed Over House Tax Bill At Town Hall

Congressman Tom Reed returned to the Southern Tier this week and faced heat over his support of the big GOP tax bill that just passed the House of Representatives. The Republican’s district includes Elmira, Corning and Ithaca. He was an architect of the bill. At a town hall at the American Legion in Horseheads, Reed was greeted with jeers. The building was  packed with residents who disapprove of the Republican tax bill.

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Sen. Gillibrand Rebukes Criticism For Clinton Comments, Says Harrassment Culture Needs to Change

US Senator from New York Kirsten Gillibrand is pushing to change the sexual harassment culture in Washington. In an interview last week with the New York Times, Gillibrand said President Clinton should have resigned over his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky 20 years ago. Gillibrand’s been criticized for waiting until now to make the comments. Philippe Reines, an ex-Hillary Clinton advisor, called Gillibrand a “hypocrite” on Twitter. Reines said the Senator shouldn’t have taken campaign contributions if she felt so strongly about Clinton’s affair. During a visit to Broome County on Monday, Gillibrand said Reines’ comments were wrong, but didn’t focus much on the criticism.

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Last Minute Lobbying Of Congress Members Helps Pass GOP Tax Bill

The mayor of Binghamton texted Southern Tier Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford) about his worries with the bill – worries that she shared. But it wasn’t until US Vice President Mike Pence called her Wednesday afternoon that Tenney finally decided to help pass it. The sticking point? The elimination of a state and local tax deduction – or SALT. The SALT deduction allows taxpayers to offset the burden of state and local taxes by deducting them on their federal return. It protects against “double taxation.”

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How The SALT Deduction Works And Why It Matters In New York

Part of the debate over Republican tax plans in Congress has been a limit to the state and local tax, or SALT, deduction. The SALT deduction allows taxpayers to offset the burden of state and local taxes by deducting them on their federal return. It’s been a sticking point in New York. Seven of the state’s nine Republican members of Congress want to keep the deduction. Governor Cuomo and other state Democratic leaders do, too.

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Binghamton Mayor David: GOP Tax Plans “Unfair” To New York

Binghamton Mayor Rich David is joining the chorus of lawmakers who oppose the Republican tax plans in Congress. David said the plan is unfair to New Yorkers, especially the limit to state and local tax deductions (SALT). The SALT deduction allows taxpayers who itemize their taxes to deduct their state and local taxes on their federal return. This helps offset the burden in high tax states like New York. This is something that we’re very concerned about,” David said. “When the city, the county the school district talk about how to provide tax relief, with regard to our own budgets, it is counterproductive then at the federal level when you eliminate deductions that are very important to local taxpayers.”  David said the deduction protects people from double taxation.

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Fenton Residents Fume Waiting On Next Gas Transfer Station Decision From DEC

Even with no update on the station, Fenton Planning Board meetings are packed and tense. At a meeting this week, residents protested the station wearing white t-shirts that read “no compressor station” in red and black writing. There’s a picture of a gas pipeline on the bottom. The residents and the board are waiting to hear back from the state. The Department of Environmental Conservation is combing through 14 state agencies to pick one to run an environmental study.

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Fenton Residents Fume Waiting On Next Gas Transfer Station Decision From DEC

Even with no update on the station, Fenton Planning Board meetings are packed and tense. At a meeting this week, residents protested the station wearing white t-shirts that read “no compressor station” in red and black writing. There’s a picture of a gas pipeline on the bottom. The residents and the board are waiting to hear back from the state. The Department of Environmental Conservation is combing through 14 state agencies to pick one to run an environmental study.

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Where Binghamton Mayoral Candidates Stand On Regional Issues

Next Tuesday, Binghamton voters choose between Republican incumbent Rich David and Democrat Tarik Abdelazim for their next mayor. WSKG’s Gabe Altieri talked with both of the candidates about issues that affect not only Binghamton, but communities throughout the Southern Tier.  Blight and Opioids: On Blight: When a property is foreclosed on, the county takes control, then auctions it off. Tarik Abdelazim doesn’t like this process. He says the people bidding on these properties are often slumlords who aren’t interested in revitalizing them. Abdelazim, instead, wants to move all the properties over to the land bank and only sell to landlords without code violations at their properties over the last two years.

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Rural Companies Connect Neighbors Through New York Broadband Program

New York’s Broadband for All program hopes to bring broadband speed internet to the entire state by the end of 2018. This has led to an opportunity for local companies in rural areas, who are taking advantage of the state funds to expand to underserved customers. “How Many of Us Are There?” Husband and wife duo Bill Gruber and Helen McLean live in Franklin, New York. Their home sits among the rolling hills of rural Delaware County.

Fenton Pushes Forward After Transfer Station Ruling

The Town of Fenton is prepared to start over with a new process to approve a natural gas transfer station. A Broome County Supreme Court Judge halted the project this week. The judge said the town didn’t follow the proper safety and environmental procedures when it approved the application from NG Advantage, a natural gas delivery company. But he did open the door for the company to reapply. NG indicates it plans to do so.

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Broome County Sets Up Peer Response Team To Fight Opioid Epidemic

Broome County is launching a program to get treatment for people at risk of an opioid overdose. It’s called the Peer Response Team. It works with law enforcement, hospitals and social services around Broome County. The idea is to better connect people at risk of an overdose to the services they need. “It is my hope that this initiative will give us the opportunity to be out in the community,” said Jill Lloyd, of the Addiction Center of Broome County, “[It can help us] reach out to populations who may not feel comfortable stepping forward and stepping up to treatment services themselves.” The ACBC will have certified peer advocates meet with the at-risk person, establish contact and conduct wellness checks. County Executive Jason Garnar said there were 76 overdose deaths in Broome last year.

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Elmira Hopes State Funds Can Put Dent In Poverty

Antanisha Garrett likes it in Elmira.   “Coming from a fast paced state like New Jersey, it’s really different,” she said. “You can really come here and get your life together.” Garrett has tried to do just that. She’s lived in the Southern Tier off-and-on for several years. But she’s now in Elmira full-time.

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At Hearing, Residents Argue Against Proposed Natural Gas Transfer Station In Fenton

A hearing on Wednesday in Broome County Supreme Court may decide the fate of a proposed natural gas transfer station in the Town of Fenton. The company NG Advantage wants to build the station in Fenton, which is just north of Binghamton.  Separate lawsuits from residents, a church and the Chenango Valley School District say the company and the Town didn’t follow the right procedures. They also question the reliability of safety reports and environmental impact studies. Maeve Tooher is a lawyer representing the school. She said the judge told both sides he’d have a decision soon.

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Proposed Natural Gas Transfer Station In Fenton Heads To Court

Maureen Singer is not happy about a proposed natural gas transfer station in the Town of Fenton. “It’s tough to digest how a responsible governing body approved that,” she said.   A natural gas transfer station taps into an existing pipeline, puts the gas on trucks, and ships it to places where relatively inexpensive fuel might be hard to get. The town approved the project earlier this year.  Singer is part of a group of residents that filed a lawsuit against Fenton and the company building the transfer station, NG Advantage. A hearing on the case is scheduled for Wednesday.  A church and the Chenango Valley School District have filed separate lawsuits.  Concern Over Process  Next to the proposed site, there are baseball fields, a playground, and a basketball court.

The Saga Of Elmira’s First Arena

It’s been a turbulent year for Elmira’s First Arena.  In 2016, the Chemung County Industrial Development Agency bought the arena. The IDA wanted to sell it quickly to a private owner, but things still aren’t settled.  Just last week, a potential buyer backed out. Amanda Renko has been reporting on the story for the Elmira Star-Gazette. She joined WSKG’s Gabe Altieri to discuss what happened.  Interview highlights On the details of the original deal: Amanda Renko: In March, the Chemung County IDA held a press conference and announced that the proposed new buyer would be Brian Barrett, who is a co-owner of the Simmons-Rockwell auto dealership group.

Upstate Schools Look For More Budget Breathing Room

Last year, several upstate school districts were criticized New York Comptroller Tom DiNapoli for exceeding the cap on their unexpended surplus fund, also known as a rainy day fund. Now, a pair Southern Tier lawmakers are trying to raise that cap: Republican Fred Akshar in the Senate and Democrat Donna Lupardo in the Assembly. Here’s why the fund is important: this past school year, the Southern Tier got hammered with snow. Which is something Union-Endicott Superintendent Suzanne McLeod knows all too well. “This past year?

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Are Governor Cuomo’s Economic Development Programs Working?

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s economic development programs have been criticized for a lack of results. He’s said they’ll bring jobs to the state, others argue that’s not happening. Joe Spector is the Albany Bureau Chief for the Gannett Papers. He and his colleagues investigated Cuomo’s economic development programs. Read the rest of the stories here, here and here. WSKG’s Gabe Altieri sat down with Spector to discuss his reporting.  On whether the spending has created jobs: Joe Spector: It’s been really a tale of two states.

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Debate Over NY Primary Date May Be More About Logistics Than Politics

New York lawmakers want fewer elections. They say they can save millions of dollars by consolidating primaries for state and federal offices into one day, but they can’t agree on when that day should be. Both legislative chambers have passed bills to consolidate the primaries. Democrats in the Assembly want to hold the elections in June. Senate Republicans want August.  These primaries would be for all state and federal offices, except the presidency.

BU Computer Science Professor Runs For Congress

A Binghamton University professor says he’s running for Congress because he thinks science and technology is ignored in Washington. “I am pleased, terrified out of my mind, excited – I don’t know what you want to call it – to be running for Congress in New York’s 22nd District,” said Patrick Madden, computer science professor, on the Binghamton University campus Monday morning. Madden identifies as a Democrat and hopes to challenge freshman Republican Claudia Tenney in 2018. Madden wants to run because he thinks there needs to be more representatives from the technology world in Congress. He’s against a decision by Tenney and other Republicans to vote to repeal Obama-era internet privacy rules.

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NY Workers’ Compensation Reform Has Something For Everyone

State lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are touting workers’ compensation reform as a win this legislative session. It was added as part of the recently approved New York State budget. WSKG’s Sarah Gager and Gabe Altieri discuss some of the big changes. Interview Highlights:

On what workers’ compensation is:

Gabe Altieri: Worker’s compensation is the insurance that employers buy to cover employees who are injured at work. It’s a big cost for businesses.

Southern Tier Economy Growing, But Help’s Wanted

Micatu is growing fast, The Horseheads start-up has over 20 employees right now and wants to expand to more than a hundred. “Started in my garage with $75 and, you know, five years later, here we  are,” co-founder Mike Oshetski explained.  Oshetski credits state economic development money for helping Micatu grow. The company makes a device that tracks energy usage. It sells the device to utilities.

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Small NY Cities Wonder Whether To Fund Stadiums

Public money is often used to fund stadium upgrades. Elected officials say it builds up a local economy by attracting businesses, who want to set up nearby, and people, who spend their dollars in the city. That claim is debated in major league cities around the country. But what about smaller cities, like Elmira and Binghamton? Could stadiums benefit those economies?

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Tompkins County Administrator Questions Cuomo’s Consolidation Proposal

While lawmakers debate New York’s budget in Albany, the head of Tompkins County is worried about one of the proposals. The proposal would require local governments to come up with a way to consolidate services by November. Tompkins County Administrator Joe Mareane thinks that’s too much, too fast. Earlier this year, Governor Cuomo proposed requiring counties to develop a plan with municipalities to share services. Cuomo said this would relieve property taxes.

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Unpacking Changes To How New York Values Solar

Earlier this month, New York’s Public Service Commission changed how solar energy is valued in the state. Ahead of the decision, some solar advocates were worried a change in regulations would make solar panels less attractive for homeowners and small businesses. WSKG’s Gabe Altieri spoke with Valessa Souter-Kline, who works with NYSEIA, about what the decision means for the solar industry. NYSEIA is a trade association that advocates for the solar industry. On what the Public Service Commission decided: 

Valessa Souter-Kline: This new system gets into ‘what is solar actually providing to the grid?’

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Small Solar Advocates Worry State Decision Will Limit Access

The New York Public Service Commission could make a decision this week that would have a big impact on the state’s solar industry. Advocates for small solar producers worry they’ll be left behind. Big Pay Back For Small Producers 

Meredith Kohn-Bocek has had solar panels on her house for about five years. She seems to be the only one in her small Tioga County neighborhood who has them. “I’m not aware of anyone else in the terrace that has solar,” she said.

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This Reporter Looked Into Claims Of “Paid Protesters.” Here’s What He Found.

Several Republican members of Congress from around the country have lamented over “paid protesters” at town halls over the last month. Binghamton area Congresswoman Claudia Tenney cited “paid protestors” as a reason not to hold a town hall meeting. John Roby is an investigative reporter with the Press and Sun Bulletin. He and his colleagues set out to find examples of paid protestors across the state. He joined WSKG’s Gabe Altieri to talk about it.

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State Language Led Elmira To Rebuke Consolidation Grant

New York State wants municipalities to share services and it’s offering $20 million to do it.  Chemung County and the City of Elmira had planned to apply for the funds, but that has now changed. The two municipalities already share a lot of services, so they felt they had a good shot at winning the $20 million. They informally agreed to apply for the money, but city leaders had second thoughts. They were worried they’d have to dissolve and the state language on that wasn’t clear.

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Elmira’s First Arena Sale In Jeopardy

The future of Elmira’s First Arena is in jeopardy. A proposed sale might not happen because of a disagreement between the Chemung County’s Industrial Development Agency and the City of Elmira. WSKG’s Sarah Gager and Gabe Altieri discuss the cause of the disagreement and what might happen now. Interview Highlights:

On First Arena’s ownership history:

“Back in June, the Chemung Industrial Development Agency bought the arena. It was supposed to be a temporary thing, as it looked for a new owner.

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Elmira Hopes $10M Will Draw Millenials, Established Businesses

ELMIRA (WSKG) – As Elmira plans out how to spend $10 million to revitalize its downtown, the city is looking for some life. There doesn’t seem to be much in the area. A symbol of Elmira’s downtown revitalization might be the Lake Street Bridge. The bridge is currently closed to all traffic: pedestrians, cars, everybody. But those in charge of the revitalization want to change that.

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Binghamton Senators To Become Binghamton Devils

BINGHAMTON (WSKG) – Professional hockey in Binghamton will have a new look next year. “The New Jersey Devils will be bringing their American Hockey League development team to Binghamton and the Floyd L. Veterans Maines Veterans Memorial Arena will be their home,” said part-owner Tom Mitchell. New Jersey replaces Ottawa as the team’s NHL affiliate. Last year, Ottawa announced it would move its American Hockey League affiliate to Belleville, Ontario. At the time, Mitchell said the AHL guaranteed Binghamton would get a replacement team.

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Investing In Higher Ed Grows Jobs, Population

Among the winners in New York’s Regional Economic Development awards last month were colleges and universities. Binghamton University, Cornell University and Broome Community College combined to win nearly $700,000 through the economic development grants. The money will be spent on research labs, manufacturing and start-up business incubators. Amanda Knarr works for the American Institute for Economic Research. She said this kind of investment creates jobs.

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Elmira’s First Arena Still Expecting January Sale

The future of Elmira’s First Arena has been in question for most of 2016, but there could be answers within the next month. First Arena is home of the Elmira Jackals hockey team. Both have been owned by the Chemung County Industrial Development Agency since June. The group hopes to sell both by the end of January. Mike Krusen is the head of Southern Tier Economic Growth, which supports the Chemung County IDA.

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BU Nursing School To Expand Into Endicott Johnson Shoe Factory

Binghamton University’s Decker School of Nursing will expand into the former Endicott-Johnson Shoe Company factory. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the decision on Tuesday in Johnson City and expects the move to create about 150 jobs. Cuomo said it should help the Southern Tier recover from the loss of manufacturing jobs and transition an innovation economy through high-tech and healthcare jobs. That’s something, he says, that’s taken too long. “Upstate New York learned that lesson, parts of Pennsylvania learned that lesson,” said Cuomo.

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Researchers Scope Cayuga Lake For Invasive Plant

In September, a class from Wells College was on Cayuga Lake, near Aurora, when someone noticed a non-native weed in the water. It was hydrilla, an invasive plant that can cause big problems.

Hillary Lambert, with the Cayuga Lake Watershed, is trying to figure out how widespread the hydrilla is before the lake gets even colder and freezes. “If we let hydrilla take control over several years time, it could make large areas of the shoreline impassable every summer,” she explained. Hydrilla grows quickly in the water. Once it reaches the surface, it creates a dense mat and crowds out other plants.

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How To Bring Broadband To Rural New Yorkers

Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers lack what the FCC considers “broadband speed” internet. As part of our series on the issues at stake in this election, WSKG’s Sarah Gager and Gabe Altieri discuss the problem and possible solutions. Interview Highlights

On why is rural broadband important

Gabe Altieri: Well, this is a big problem for a lot of people. I took a trip to Windsor to meet Steve Herz. He’s a former Broome County Legislator and led a charge to get funding for rural broadband about a decade ago.

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Veterans Support Their Peers In Transition Home

The American Legion Post 80 is one of Bert Proper’s favorite places. Aside from the plaques, pictures and flags that remind him of military service history, he loves the feel of the building. “You’re around people that have been there,” he explained. Proper means been deployed. He served during the Persian Gulf War and had a tough transition back home.

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Tompkins County Rolls Out A Mobile Compost Drop Spot

Tompkins County Solid Waste Division rolled out their traveling compost drop spot Saturday. Shishir Nair, a senior at Cornell, came to drop off his food scraps. “Yeah, we have a small compost bin at my house that my dad started, but we don’t really use that very often and it’s hard to get to in the winter,” he said. Convenience is one thing the county is hoping to accomplish. They already have a few static sites.

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Want To Improve Graduation Rates? Emotional Connection Matters.

American Graduate Day is tomorrow. It’s a day meant to highlight “education heroes”–the people who inspire kids to graduate. We can’t fully appreciate the day without understanding the trend we’re fighting. The big statistic is that in the United States, 1 in 5 students will drop out. Annie Cartie from WSKG’s education department tells us that finding the dropout rate for the Southern Tier region is difficult.