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Updated: 59 min 8 sec ago

Meeks, advocates call for bold action to tackle opioid epidemic

5 hours 45 min ago
Assemblymember Demond Meeks, and a group of community activists, are calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to take bold action to stem the opioid crisis. During a news conference Monday, Meeks, a Democrat from Rochester, said overdose deaths are often overlooked. “We have issues in this community that have been plaguing us for some time,” said Meeks. “We heard about the ills as it relates to violence in the Rochester community. But one of the things we don't talk much about is the overdoses.” Monroe County’s Heroin Task force data show that there were roughly 700 overdoses in Monroe County last year , 137 of those incidents ended in death. Those numbers are slightly down from 2019. In 2021, taskforce data shows 330 so far, with 72 fatalities. The vast majority of these incidents were in the city of Rochester. Meeks said these numbers show that the current course isn’t working, and there is need for “bold government solutions to do what’s right by the community.” He said we have to focus on

United Way branches locally to merge into one organization

10 hours 31 min ago
Six local United Way organizations are merging into one agency to serve Monroe, Genesee, Livingston, Ontario, Wayne and Wyoming Counties. Officials in the non-profit sector are calling it a momentous occasion. Jaime Saunders, who currently leads the Rochester-based United Way, will be the head of the new organization called the United Way of Greater Rochester and the Finger Lakes. "This merger builds on the strength of six United Ways and gives us an opportunity to share best practices and learnings throughout the region,” Saunders said, adding that wherever people live, their United Way will remain local, and offer increased opportunities to make a difference in communities. Saunders said that the first formal actions of the new merged organization is to provide full pre-pandemic funding levels to its partner agencies. Saunders said a total of nearly $13 million will be invested in 190 programs region wide starting in August. Saunders said that as a regional United Way, donors and

Canada to reopen border Aug. 9; cannabis is not invited

13 hours 41 min ago
Canada is opening their border to vaccinated U.S. travelers on August 9, but while cannabis is now legal in New York state and Canada, it’s still illegal to take it between the two locations. Since Canada legalized cannabis in 2018, Mike Niezgoda with U.S. Customs and Border Protection said there have been a number of smuggling cases. “We had an incursion that came via helicopter that landed in Grand Island, just north of Buffalo,” he said. That was in 2019 when Border Patrol agents recovered four duffel bags carrying a total of more than 100 pounds of weed with an estimated street value of more than $100,000. However, Niezgoda said that smaller infractions, and unintended smuggling, are another matter for travelers to keep in mind. “Say they went to Toronto to go up to see the Maple Leafs play the Sabres, they bought some marijuana, and then they forgot about it and then came back and they realized it right when they saw the booth.” In this example, Niezgoda said there are a few

The Reboot: 2020 inspired Rochester musician to take nomadic journey

17 hours 39 min ago
The first thing you notice when you walk into Avis Reese's house is her grand piano. The Steinway dominates the dining room. She's playing a song she wrote a few years ago for a friend who was going through a tough time. It's called "Loss of Meaning." 2020 brought loss to Reese's own life; several members of her family died during the pandemic. It's shifted her perspective and she wants to break out of some old habits. She's looking for adventure now. "I kind of felt myself getting in that space where I'm feeling too comfortable," she said, "and I'm not taking risks and I don't feel like I'm growing personally." Reese plays the keyboard for the Danielle Ponder & the Tomorrow People. She doesn't have anything against Rochester. It's been her home for 34 years, but she wants to find out what will happen if she's forced to make it on her own in a new place. She said the pandemic taught her the risk is worth it because anything can change at any moment. "We had music taken away from a

'We need to put the lid back on': State offers jobs, training to help stem violence

Thu, 07/22/2021 - 5:26pm
As part of the state’s push to decrease gun violence, New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul visited Rochester’s David Gantt R-Center on North Street on Thursday. Citing more than 200 shooting incidents in Rochester so far this year, Hochul said it wasn’t this way just a few years ago. Rochester Police data from 2018 shows there were 137 shooting incidents that year; in 2019, there were 157. Last year, there were 267.

In Out Alliance’s absence, Rochester's Black and brown LGBTQ organizations expand reach

Thu, 07/22/2021 - 8:00am
The words “safe zone” still frame the windows of the empty Out Alliance building on College Avenue, but Bianca Castro wouldn’t describe her experience there as safe. “We went to one of the trans groups and it literally was divided," Castro said. "There were white folks on one side and brown folks on the other, and it didn’t feel safe.” Castro briefly attended programs at the organization, which was then called the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley, but she said she never found a community there. The abrupt closing of the Out Alliance last year has been received differently by a divided LGBTQ community. For years, the organization was criticized for centering its mission around white gay men. Its absence has allowed smaller organizations to step in and fill the needs of the Black and brown LGBTQ community who say they never felt included by the organization. Rochester Black Pride may be best known for organizing the annual Black Pride weekend, but its reach goes far beyond that.

After Albany officials pass eviction protections, local activists say Rochester should be next

Wed, 07/21/2021 - 5:52pm
City Council members in Albany this week passed certain eviction protections for residents, and local activists are renewing their calls for Rochester City Council to pass a similar law here. Albany’s good cause eviction protections give tenants the right to renew their lease and dispute rent increases. They also prevent landlords from evicting tenants without cause. “What it ends is a system we have right now where at the end of the lease, a tenant could be evicted for no reason,” said Ritti Singh with the City-wide Tenant Union of Rochester. “The landlord doesn’t need to tell the judge there’s a reason for it. The landlord can just say, ‘I don’t want them on my property anymore,’ and that’s it.” Earlier this month, Rochester City Council members Miguel Melendez and Mary Lupien gave their support for good cause eviction measures. In a statement Wednesday, Lupien said following Albany's lead on the protections is "imperative." “We must prioritize our people over landlord profits,” she

Mayor Warren pleads not guilty to illegal gun possession and child endangerment charges

Wed, 07/21/2021 - 11:19am
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges that include criminal possession of a firearm, which is a felony, and misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child and failure to properly secure firearms in a dwelling. Warren appeared in a Monroe County courtroom along with her estranged husband, Timothy Granison, who faced the same charges as Warren. He also pleaded not guilty, and both he and Warren were released after the court appearance.

Senator Jeremy Cooney hosts a financial literacy workshop

Wed, 07/21/2021 - 8:16am
For 12% of adults living in the U.S., an unexpected expense of $400 or more would be a financial hardship, according to a 2019 study by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. Studies have shown that financial literacy — learning about budgeting, debt management, and banking — can prevent financial hardship. Those are some of the topics offered at Wednesday’s ROC Your Money financial literacy workshop, hosted by State Sen. Jeremy Cooney and the Financial Empowerment Center.

Warren, estranged husband expected to be arraigned Wednesday

Tue, 07/20/2021 - 5:25pm
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren and her estranged husband, Timothy Granison, are scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday on five charges including one class E felony. This is the third felony charge that Warren has faced in the last year. There are still two pending felony counts from campaign finance charges filed last October. A news release from the Monroe County District Attorney’s office Friday said Warren and Granison will be accused of criminal possession of a firearm, a class E felony; two misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child; and two counts of failure to lock or secure a firearm in a dwelling, a misdemeanor violation under Rochester’s city code. The charges stem from a raid on their home in May. Granison is alleged to be part of a mid-level drug ring and is believed to have sold crack and powdered cocaine . He pleaded not guilty on all charges . There is no indication that Warren was involved at all. A months-long investigation led authorities to Warren and

Former Monroe County judge accused of sexual abuse by secretary

Tue, 07/20/2021 - 11:51am
A Monroe County state Supreme Court justice who abruptly resigned his seat on the bench last year after allegations surfaced that he had made “improper” and “abusive personal demands” of his staff is now accused of subjecting his secretary to years of forced sex acts and other forms of harassment. The new allegations against the former justice, Matthew Rosenbaum, were leveled in a civil suit brought in federal court last week by his once secretary, Rebecca Klymn, who charged that Rosenbaum demanded that she perform oral sex on him in his chambers. Her lawsuit claims Klymn was compelled to meet his demands over a period of four years — from March 2005, when she was hired, to June 2009 — under threats from Rosenbaum that she would lose her job and custody of her son while she was going through divorce proceedings. The lawsuit also alleges that in November 2006, Rosenbaum raped Klymn in her home. After Klymn refused to continue complying with Rosenbaum’s alleged demands for oral sex in

Bello, Mendoza, Democratic legislators denounce ethics reform measure

Mon, 07/19/2021 - 3:36pm
Dr. Michael Mendoza, Monroe County’s public health commissioner, would face a tough choice under a county ethics law proposal introduced by two leaders in the Legislature . The ethics measure would bar all county management and professional employees from earning outside income, without exception. In addition to serving as public health commissioner, a position that pays between $170,565 and $214,376, Mendoza maintains a medical practice at Highland Family Medicine, where he sees patients two days a week. During a news conference Monday, Mendoza explained that in order to keep his board certification in family medicine, he needs to maintain his practice and see patients. But ethics legislation proposed by Republican Majority Leader Steve Brew and Democratic Legislator Vince Felder, who claims the title of Democratic minority leader, would mean Mendoza would have to choose between his county job or his practice. Mendoza, 46, said he has much of his medical career ahead of him and that

Cleanup continues after record-setting rain

Sun, 07/18/2021 - 5:37am
The heavy rains that caused some flood damage and other problems on Saturday have eased, but the cleanup continues. Rochester saw just over 2.3 inches of rain which broke a daily record set back in 1873. Some area creeks overflowed their banks, including a usual trouble spot in Monroe County at Ellison Park. The Irondequoit Creek caused flooding in that area, in parts of Brighton and Penfield. There is still a flood warning i n effect for that part of the county until 2pm Sunday. Local fire departments were kept busy on Saturday, pumping out basements, and area highway crews worked to clear debris that was clogging up storm sewers. Sunday's forecast calls for showers to end, with cloudy skies and a high in the mid 70s. This tweet was sent by the Monroe County Sheriff's Dept. on Saturday: Several neighborhoods throughout Monroe County are experiencing flooding due to today’s heavy rain. Landing Hill at Boughton Hill Rd. in the Town of Mendon, Hogan Rd. @TPerinton & Railroad Mills Rd

Visitors return to theme parks by the thousands, but finding good help is hard

Fri, 07/16/2021 - 4:21pm
Workers have tons of choices when it comes to employment right now, particularly in the leisure and hospitality sector. New York state Department of Labor data released Thursday showed the number of jobs in those industries is up 46% since last year, likely because of the season and pandemic protocols are easing. One of the most common seasonal opportunities for work is at amusement parks like Roseland Water Park in Canandaigua or Irondequoit’s Sea Breeze. Roseland owner Dan Fuller said reopening earlier this month was a thrill. “This year, starting Roseland again was like opening a brand-new business because we've been closed for the past 22 months,” said Fuller, whose family also runs Bristol Mountain Ski Resort. He said they were prepared to open last summer, but a last-minute change in state COVID-19 protocols nixed that. This year, many of those protocols are gone, and crowds are back with thousands visiting on some days. But seasonal employees have been harder to come by. Fuller

Warren, Granison face gun, child endangerment charges

Fri, 07/16/2021 - 3:56pm
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren and her husband, Timothy Granison, are facing felony gun charges under an indictment handed up by a Monroe County grand jury and unsealed by a judge on Friday. Warren and Granison have each been charged with criminal possession of a firearm, a class E felony; two misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child; and two counts of failure to lock or secure a firearm in a dwelling, a misdemeanor violation under Rochester’s city code, according to a news release from the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office. A copy of the indictment was not available Friday, and will likely be available from the court next week, according to an office spokesperson. The defendants will be arraigned on the charges before Justice Thomas Leone, a Cayuga County Court judge who will handle the case in Monroe County Court, though a date has not yet been set, according to the DA’s office. The indictment stems from a search warrant executed May 19 by New York State Police

Extra monthly checks heading to millions of families

Thu, 07/15/2021 - 5:37pm
Almost every family with children in the country is expected to be eligible for direct payments from the U.S. government for the next several months. This temporary child tax credit extension offers cash until year’s end. It was passed as part of a COVID-19 stimulus package, and the monthly payments started appearing in checking accounts Thursday. How much money families will receive varies depending on income, the child’s age and the parent’s marital status. Some checks will be about $300 per child, others about $160 per child. The money varies based on eligibility . More than 133,000 children in Monroe County are expected to be affected.

Merging to survive: More nonprofits turning to United Way for help

Thu, 07/15/2021 - 4:57pm
More and more community organizations are coming together lately. In recent weeks, Catholic Charities and Catholic Family Center announced a merger. Then Willow and RESOLVE announced their own. It’s been happening more and more, and in most cases, the funding behind it comes from the United Way of Greater Rochester.

Our Lady of Victory squashes the 'Mosquito'

Thu, 07/15/2021 - 3:48pm
Pleasant Street may have just gotten a little more pleasant for those who were annoyed by the anti-loitering "Mosquito Device" that Our Lady of Victory Roman Catholic Church was using to ward off loiterers. In a phone call Thursday, a worker with the church's answering service relayed a message from the church's Father Ronald Antinarelli giving an update on the device. "The sounding device at the church has been turned off," the message said. Michele Tucker, a neighbor of the church, said Thursday that she hadn't heard the device since about midday Friday. On Monday, CITY and WXXI News published a story about Our Lady of Victory's use of the Mosquito, and the effect it has had on neighborhood residents' quality of life. The Mosquito looks like a metal-grate box and that emits a high-frequency squeal. The church has boxes affixed on its side, blaring out the tone at intermittent times throughout the day. Antinarelli did not respond to comment for the original story, nor did the Diocese

Some Monroe County primary election results aren’t set in stone yet, thanks to lawsuit

Tue, 07/13/2021 - 4:35pm
A lawsuit filed Friday will mean some Monroe County primary races can't be officially called yet. Rochester Board of Education President Van White finished about 300 votes shy of winning one of those races. He was up for one of three spots in last month’s Democratic primary for County Court Judge. Because of a new state law , the close race required a manual recount, which the county board of elections did using machines last week . Seven races met this criteria, including two county legislative races. But in a lawsuit filed Friday, White argued that the law requires a manual recount by hand. A judge agreed. White said Tuesday that his suit is more about the law than himself. “The law, in my mind at least, was very clear with respect to what a manual recount meant,” said White. “This wasn't just about the Monroe County Court race. This is also about other candidates' races and more importantly, it was about the tens of thousands of citizens whose votes might not be counted.” White

Work begins on 100th Habitat for Humanity house in JOSANA neighborhood

Tue, 07/13/2021 - 4:14pm
The goal was huge: 100 houses, built from scratch, all within a half-mile of Enrico Fermi School 17. It took 10 years, but on Tuesday, Flower City Habitat for Humanity began work on house No. 100.