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Open Door Mission and Dimitri House keep Thanksgiving traditions going

Thu, 11/26/2020 - 5:00am
For those who are homeless or impoverished, Thanksgiving can often be a difficult time regardless of a pandemic. Local organizations helping those in need have found ways to share the feast while abiding by social distancing guidelines. At the Open Door Mission, Thanksgiving dinner will be served in two ways. As a curbside pick-up for those passing through, and as a sit-down dinner for those staying at the shelter. “It means a lot to be able to come up with ways to make people feel connected even though things look a little different,” said Anna Valeria-Iseman, executive director of Open Door Mission. Anyone is welcome to collect a dinner plate for themselves or for their family, she said. However, while the pick-up option gets food to people, she said it doesn’t necessarily fulfill the need for connection. Whether someone is grappling with addiction, homelessness, or their mental wellness, she says she often hears from people that the most difficult part of the holidays is the

A Brockport turkey farmer and Alfred University provide a Thanksgiving gift

Tue, 11/24/2020 - 7:41am
A local turkey farmer and Alfred University have combined forces to make Thanksgiving a little brighter for staff at that Southern Tier college. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many of us in different ways, and for Travis Mattison, who owns Ridgecrest Turkey Farm in Brockport, it has put a deep dent in what would normally be one of the busiest times of the year.

Orange zone restrictions mean uncertain times for bars, restaurants

Mon, 11/23/2020 - 5:22pm
Bar and restaurant owners across Rochester saw the new COVID-19 lockdowns coming. Starting Wednesday, dining at restaurants in orange zones can only happen outdoors, with a maximum of four people per table. Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday designated a swatch of Monroe County -- including parts of Brighton, Irondequoit, Gates and a large part of the city of Rochester -- as orange zones as COVID-19 infections increase.

I AM SPEAKING mural honors a legend and demands the attention of Rochester

Fri, 11/20/2020 - 3:43pm
Ephraim Gebre and Jared Diaz are on vacation. In a Rochester parking lot. By day, they work for a boutique New York City ad firm. But since the spring, when they're not working, they and two other colleagues have been making statements through building-sized art projects. Diaz says it's the latest part of their "I AM" series, featuring pictures taken by Danny Lyon, a famed photographer of the civil rights movement.

Rochester families get creative with socially distant Thanksgiving plans

Thu, 11/19/2020 - 5:15am
Family gatherings at Thanksgiving are a tradition, but with the coronavirus pandemic, they can also be risky. Some local families are finding ways around that. Alex Turner’s family has a new ritual. “We just set up a video call, set the computer up somewhere in the kitchen, and then we cook and we talk and we lift up the plate to the camera and say, 'Is this about how it’s supposed to look?' ” Turner said. Turner’s family’s approach is almost like an interactive, personal cooking show. Instead of 40 to 60 relatives gathering for Thanksgiving dinner, Turner said they can connect this way instead. It's nice, he said, but it's not a substitute. “Oh, it’s not going to be anything like it,” he said. “We’re so used to having that great big everyone around the same table having fun playing board games. So it’s going to be really hard.” However, public health officials say Turner is doing the right thing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising people to keep gatherings

Monroe County elections workers begin marathon absentee ballot count

Mon, 11/16/2020 - 12:16pm
The Monroe County Board of Elections at 10 a.m. Monday began counting the more than 103,000 mail-in ballots it received in recent weeks. Those votes will determine the outcome in several highly contested races, and officials expect the counting to take all week. Perhaps the closest of the bunch is the contest for the 56th State Senate District. At the end of early and Election Day voting, Democrat Jeremy Cooney led Republican Mike Barry 46,469 to 45,587, or 50.3% of the vote to 49.4%. On paper, Cooney had the advantage headed into absentee counting. Countywide, registered Democrats completed twice as many absentee ballots as registered Republicans. Of the roughly 35,000 absentees cast in the 56th District race, 17,489 came from Democrats while 7,582 came from Republicans. Democrat Samra Brouk had a more comfortable lead against her opponent, Republican Chris Missick, for the 55th District state Senate seat. She had 59,560 votes to Missick’s 54,504 for a breakdown of 49.9% to 45.7%.

Grand jury convened in Daniel Prude case

Mon, 11/09/2020 - 2:51pm
A grand jury is hearing from the New York Attorney General’s office in the case of Daniel Prude. The case got national attention when body camera footage showed Prude suffocating while being restrained by Rochester Police in March after they responded to a mental health call. He was revived, hospitalized, and died a week later. The video became public in September. Lawyer Matthew Rich is representing four of the officers involved in the case. He said the state attorney general’s office has been presenting to the grand jury since mid-October. Grand jury proceedings are kept secret, so much about them is unknown. “The proceedings are kept secret, and the assistants over at the attorney general’s office have not really told me much about what’s going on with the grand jury,” said Rich. “None of my clients have testified, I don’t know how many witnesses have testified, and I don’t know when they are going to conclude.” Rich said he does not know when the proceedings will end or what

Weekend full of history brings tourists to significant spot in American politics

Mon, 11/09/2020 - 12:44pm
It's been 172 years since the first convention in the Finger Lakes kicked off the fight for women's rights. A new chapter in that story unfolded Saturday as news spread of the election of the first woman to a national office. But when Ella Jordan and her family set out from Fairport for Seneca Falls on Saturday morning, the news of Kamala Harris' election as the first female vice president hadn't broken yet.

Victims of 1942 factory fire remembered in Perinton

Fri, 11/06/2020 - 5:00pm
The Rochester Fireworks Company on Whitney Road in Perinton, like many factories during World War II, had been converted to manufacture war products - in this case, military flares. On November 6, 1942, at 4:30 p.m., a half hour after the start of the second shift, there was an explosion in one of the dozens of buildings at the plant. "And that small explosion broke out into a fire and the fire spread quickly through a building where many people were working," said Perinton town historian Bill Poray. Twelve people - Eleven women and one man, ranging in age from 26 to 60, died in the fire. It was not unusual during the war for women to fill most of those factory jobs, with many men serving overseas. "What a trying time it must have been already, to be engrossed in this really horrific war and always fearing news from overseas and the loss of sons or husbands and then to learn of this loss of primarily women - mothers, grandmothers, daughters of these families in our community," Poray

Rocky confirmation hearing for proposed Police Accountability Board executive director

Fri, 11/06/2020 - 3:10pm
A memo took center stage during the confirmation hearing for the first leader of Rochester’s Police Accountability Board. The ten-page document was written by Conor Dwyer Reynolds early this week. The Police Accountability board wants him to be its first Executive Director.

Veteran Latino journalist: the Latino vote is as diverse as the people

Fri, 11/06/2020 - 1:42pm
Latino voters are more complex than one label can capture. Veteran journalist Julio Saenz, who has covered Hispanic communities across the U.S. and currently works with Ibero-American Action League, said that it comes as no surprise that there would be a split within a community so rich with various histories and cultures. “We have to remember that even the category Hispanic is something that was created by the Census in order to track this larger trend,” Saenz said. “Within it there are all these individual communities that see themselves as such, and have different agendas.” Cuban-Americans in Florida traditionally vote Republican and oppose socialism, which he said goes back to the Reagan era. However, in Rochester, the majority of Latinos in Rochester are Puerto Ricans who tend to vote Democrat. Those leanings aside, Saenz said that for some Latinos from countries where there is no freedom of the press, they can be more susceptible to misinformation. “People come from, sometimes,

Voter turnout slightly down despite increase in mail-in votes

Wed, 11/04/2020 - 5:09pm
Mail-in voting was commonplace this year and Zach King, chair of the Monroe County Democratic Committee, said it should stay that way. An executive order from Gov. Andrew Cuomo allowed all eligible voters to vote by mail due to the COVID-19 pandemic. King said more options is good for democracy.

U.S. Election: One local Native American voter weighs in on what’s at stake

Wed, 11/04/2020 - 4:43pm
While election results won’t be official until absentee ballots are counted, one local Native American voter says that there is more than partisan politics on the line. Michael Galban is a Native American citizen of the Washoe and Northern Paiute people. He says that while some Indigenous people do not vote in U.S. elections, he did. “We’re just a portion of creation not the entirety, and so that’s always been our position as Native people to protect the environment, to protect creation,” said Galban. “That, for me at least, appears to be on the ballot.” Galban said that many in this area don’t vote outside of their own systems of governance, whether to assert their sovereignty, or out of a feeling of powerlessness to impact in U.S. governance. He doesn’t fault them for it nor does he see it as a weakness. “I would never criticize somebody for that stand,” said Galban. “That’s sort of the real beauty, maybe, of Indigenous thought is that we can be lots of things and we can be tolerant

Romeo leads Boyce in County Clerk race

Wed, 11/04/2020 - 12:40am
In the race for Monroe County Clerk, Democrat Jamie Romeo held a lead over Republican Karla Boyce, though given the number of outstanding absentee ballots that could affect the race's outcome, she was hardly assured a victory.

Hundreds visit Susan B. Anthony grave on Election Day

Wed, 11/04/2020 - 12:23am
Voters paid their respects at Susan B. Anthony’s gravesite in Mt. Hope Cemetery on Election Day, carrying on a local tradition on the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which granted many women the right to vote. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said she visits Anthony’s gravestone for inspiration, and to remind others of the suffragist’s legacy. “As women in the state of New York, we have a special responsibility conferred on all of us, particularly those of us in elected office, to make that torch grow even brighter before we pass it on to the next generation,” said Hochul. “There are more battles to be had.” One of the eldest visitors at the gravesite was Floris Lent, a descendent of the Anthony family who was celebrating her 99th birthday on Election Day. After casting her ballot, her friend took her to the cemetery so she could place her "I Voted" sticker on Anthony’s gravestone. “I think she’d be very pleased.” Lent said. “My God, she was a pioneer.” Anthony was arrested in Rochester

Absentee ballots will decide race to replace Joe Robach in the 56th Senate District

Wed, 11/04/2020 - 12:06am
Democrat Jeremy Cooney held a very narrow lead over Republican Mike Barry in the race for the state Senate's 56th District seat Tuesday. The high-stakes contest will be decided by absentee ballots. Cooney pulled in 50.5% of the vote at the close of the polls with 318 of 322 election districts reporting, while Barry, a Greece Town Board member, held 49.4%.

Board of Elections hopes to wrap up elections process by Thanksgiving

Mon, 11/02/2020 - 5:39pm
Polls open at 282 sites across Monroe County on Tuesday, and Republican Monroe County Elections Commissioner Lisa Nicolay said this is the beginning of a long process. She said she anticipates a long and busy day but expects lines to be minimal thanks to early voting, which more than 105, 000 residents took part in. Nicolay said her team expects to be counting votes past midnight, but their work will be far from done.

DOJ and FBI to increase Election Day security measures for voter protection

Fri, 10/30/2020 - 3:42pm
U.S. attorney James Kennedy, whose office covers the Rochester area, said on Thursday that the Department of Justice and the FBI have increased security and monitoring measures to address any voter interference through Election Day, including harassment and intimidation. Kennedy said that actions like videotaping or photographing voters at polling places for the sole purpose of uncovering illegal voting may violate federal law. He said that there is no specific threat for voters at this time in Western New York. “It’s a sacred right in America and it’s one we will, I will, endeavor to protect with everything I have,” he said. “The pandemic obviously has impacted some individuals -- the manner in which they may vote. So we just want to make sure that no matter how (they) voted, that every voter has a voice.” Possible voting law violations can be reported to the local FBI field office at 716- 856-7800, or to the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division in D.C. at 800-253-3931. Kennedy said that any

55 years after historic Voting Rights Act victory, record turnout expected among Hispanic voters

Fri, 10/30/2020 - 5:00am
Hispanic voter turnout is expected to break records this election. But the right to vote for some Latinos was not always a guarantee. In 1965, the same year as the Voting Rights Act, Maria Lopez, a 21-year-old Spanish-speaking Puerto Rican woman living in Rochester, challenged the Monroe County Board of Elections' decision not to register her to vote. The reason? While Lopez met federal education requirements, New York state mandated that voters had to be educated in English. A federal judge overturned that. It was a controversial landmark decision that ensured that non-English-speaking citizens had the right to vote. “Yo quiero votar también. Translated: I want to vote, too. And she was able to actually overcome all of the redlining that occurred in our very own city and was able to cast her vote,” said Annette Ramos, executive director of the Rochester Latino Theatre Company. Ramos has adapted Lopez’s story into a monologue and performance piece for the Susan B. Anthony Museum and

'They’re under our feet': Highland Park is final resting place for hundreds of unidentified remains

Fri, 10/30/2020 - 4:00am
Several years ago, Gillian Conde was minding her own business in Highland Park, when she found out she was standing on a pile of bones.