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Updated: 55 min 28 sec ago

Trooper fires at suspect's car after wrong-way incident & pedestrian struck

Sat, 11/28/2020 - 9:36am
State Police say that they are investigating an incident Friday night that involved a wrong-way driver on the Thruway, a pedestrian struck by a vehicle, and shots fired at a Thruway service area. It happened at about 8:20 p.m. Friday night when police got a call of a wrong-way vehicle in I-90 in the eastbound lanes near the Scottsville service area. A trooper responding to the call saw the car going west in the eastbound lanes. Shortly after that police got a call about an accident and multiple reports of the driver they were looking for intentionally trying to hit other cars. The trooper saw the vehicle they were looking for had pulled into the Scottsville service area. Troopers say that car intentionally hit a pedestrian in the rest area and was approaching the trooper. At that point, police say the trooper fired his gun at the vehicle. The suspect took off and went back onto the Thruway going east. The trooper gave medical aid to the injured pedestrian, and the suspect’s vehicle was

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

Bello's plan to expand county crisis response program suffers delay

Wed, 11/25/2020 - 4:24pm
Monroe County Executive Adam Bello’s plan to expand a county program that pairs mental health clinicians with police officers responding to calls in which a person is experiencing a crisis has hit a snag. Bello announced in September that the county was putting up $360,000 to expand its Forensic Intervention Team, an amount meant to match $300,000 that the city had designated to expand the FIT or bolster its own programs to provide a non-law enforcement response to mental health calls. Bello said at the time that the additional funding would allow the FIT to expand to around-the-clock service. But during a County Legislature committee meeting Tuesday, administration officials under questioning by Republican Legislator George Hebert acknowledged that the expansion hasn’t yet happened. Kelly Wilmot, associate director of operations and planning at the county Office of Mental Health, told Hebert that the money from the city never materialized. Corinda Crossdale, deputy county executive

Governor denies restoring voting rights to parolee Jalil Muntaqim

Wed, 11/25/2020 - 10:39am
Jalil Abdul Muntaqim, a parolee living in Brighton facing felony charges for attempting to register to vote, has been denied a pardon from the governor restoring his right to cast a ballot that is granted to most parolees, according to the Governor's Office and the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. Parolees are not allowed to vote in New York upon release from prison without the pardon. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has issued such pardons as a matter of course on a monthly basis since 2018, when he signed an executive order directing the corrections commissioner to submit to him each month a list of every felon newly eligible for parole, with each name to be “given consideration for a conditional pardon that will restore voting rights.” Anyone on the list is eligible for a pardon as long as they are not flagged by law enforcement for any specific concerns. Most parolees receive their pardon, which does not expunge their record, within four to six weeks of their release. A

Orange zone communities look to rapid testing to limit shutdowns

Tue, 11/24/2020 - 1:34pm
The supervisors of the towns of Brighton and Irondequoit say they hope to have drive-through sites set up for rapid coronavirus testing as soon as next week. Sections of both towns are in so-called orange zones under the state's microcluster strategy to manage rising transmission rates of the virus. Other orange zones are in the city of Rochester and the town of Gates. Irondequoit Supervisor Dave Seeley said rapid testing has worked to keep schools safe, and it should be expanded so every member of the community has access. "I think we need to know who has the virus and we also need to work to get our positivity rate down, and testing really is the remedy to that," he said. Seeley and Brighton Supervisor Bill Moehle both said they are finalizing these plans with Monroe County, which is providing the tests. As part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's targeted approach to curtailing the resurgence of COVID-19, a new round of restrictions begin Wednesday for orange zone schools and businesses. Greater

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.

Houses of worship prepare for orange zone restrictions

Mon, 11/23/2020 - 4:56pm
As parts of Monroe County phase into an Orange Zone, houses of worship will have to limit their services to either 33% of capacity or 25 people, whichever is fewer. At the Baitun Naseer Mosque on East Main Street, Muslim prayer services have already been limited to ten people at a time. Worshipers social distance instead of standing shoulder to shoulder, as is customary, and they also now bring their own prayer rugs. “We adapt fairly well,” said Mubarak Bashir with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Rochester Chapter. “So, we’re still able to pray. I think that’s the key thing. I think right now, as a person of faith, that prayer is the most important thing to get through these times.” As the area moves into an orange zone on Wednesday, Bashir said that they will re-evaluate their practices, and look to do more to support the community like possibly holding future blood drives. Over at Temple Beth Sholom, an Orthodox Jewish synagogue, Rabbi Avi Kilimnick said that the new restrictions will

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.

RG&E to raise rates slightly, scale back natural gas under plan approved by state

Fri, 11/20/2020 - 8:11am
Rochester Gas & Electric and its sister company, New York State Electric & Gas, will be allowed to raise their electricity rates slightly over the next three years, but will take steps to move away from natural gas under a modified rate case settlement approved Thursday by state utilities regulators. Under the rate plan approved by the state Public Service Commission, RG&E customers will see electricity bill increases of roughly 1.6% in the first year, which starts Dec. 1, and roughly 2% in each of the second and third years. RG&E had proposed raising electricity rates by 2.4% in the first year and 5.2% in each of the second and third year. The company had argued that the increases were necessary to offset necessary infrastructure investments, including projects to harden delivery systems against harsher weather brought on by climate change. But the Public Service Commission said those increases weren’t justifiable, given the economic impacts of the COVID-19 public

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

Clark appointed to Rochester City School Board

Wed, 11/18/2020 - 7:14pm
Former Urban League CEO William Clark has joined the Rochester Board of Education. Clark was CEO of the Urban League of Greater Rochester for 38 years. He replaces Natalie Sheppard, who left the board for a position at the Monroe County Board of Elections in August. During his announcement Wednesday, Clark said he was given the weekend to think it over. He said he discussed it with family and friends and he couldn’t resist the opportunity. He resigned from the board of the Rochester Prep Charter School network to become a commissioner. Clark said the impact of helping 26,000 city school students is bigger than helping 2,600 charter students. “I couldn’t live with myself had I said no because three or four years from now I wouldn’t know if I could make a difference,” said Clark. “Some folks would say why, why would you take on this responsibility and my answer to them would be you retire from a job you never retire from a mission.” Clark was approached by Board President Van White late

Many families reconsidering their holiday travel plans during pandemic

Wed, 11/18/2020 - 4:24pm
With COVID-19 restrictions in place around the country, many families are making the decision to alter or completely forgo their holiday travel plans. Webster resident Michelle Putnam and her family plan to spend Thanksgiving with relatives in Plattsburgh, in the northern part of New York state. Putnam said her family originally planned to spend a day in Vermont but decided against it because the family would need to be tested before and after their overnight stay. Although Putnam and her family plan to travel within the state this year, they are being extra careful. She said in preparation for their visit, her family members have chosen to self-isolate and are paying close attention to the infection rates and their exposure every day. She said they will cancel their trip if necessary. “With the different colors that are going on with the counties, if something stipulated say, red or whatnot, then obviously we would change our plans then as well,” said Putnam. Mendon resident Tracey

Confidentiality Program gives victims of domestic violence better access to protections

Tue, 11/17/2020 - 5:34pm
New York state has a free program that protects the location information of domestic violence survivors. It’s called the Address Confidentiality Program , where the state provides individuals with a post office box in order to keep their physical address hidden for their safety. Starting this week, any victim of domestic violence, stalking, sexual offenses or human trafficking can apply online. Willow Domestic Violence Center's Hannah Sonner said that Willow previously assisted individuals applying to the program by mailing in or faxing the application on their behalf. "Now it's instant,” said Sonnor. “You can just go online and just fill out the application. Which is especially helpful with COVID, thinking about ways to give survivors access to resources in a faster way.” The program protects victims who are transitioning out of abusive situations by working as an additional buffer between them and their abusers. All of the individual’s mail is re-routed to the post office box, and

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%.

Strong winds, power outages on Sunday

Sat, 11/14/2020 - 6:34pm
Western New York and the Finger Lakes dealt with thousands of power outages after strong winds and heavy rain swept thorugh the area on Sunday. RG&E, NYSEG and National Grid had additional crews standing by over the weekend due to the forecast for wind gusts that were forecast to top over 60 mph. There were scattered outages throughout the day on Sunday affecting more than 7,000 customers in Monroe County and more than 6,000 customers in the Canandaigua area. Service in those areas was restored late Sunday night, with just a few hundred customers without power Monday morning. The utility companies say they're still doing further damage assessment to see what work remains to be finished. On Sunday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state was ready to respond with trucks, dozers and other equipment as needed due to weather conditions across New York. The strong winds were part of cold fronts moving into the area; Monday the forecast calls for a high in the 40s and mostly sunny skies.

Disparities in criminal justice system discussed at virtual town hall

Fri, 11/13/2020 - 12:25am
About 40 people attended a hearing held Thursday night by the Commission on Racial and Structural Equity that focused on disparities in the criminal justice system. The commission, which was founded in June in response to an order from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is expected to analyze policies, procedures, and even laws in Monroe County and the city of Rochester. As part of that work, they’re holding multiple public hearings. On Thursday, RASE Commissioner Logan Brown said he’d like to create a fair system that anyone can understand. “I would like for everyone to key in their inner child and think about how you would go about explaining it to a little kid,” said Brown. How protesters were arrested at recent Daniel Prude demonstrations was a hot topic. Prude suffocated in Rochester Police custody in March , dying a week later. Michelle Daniels of Rochester said she's concerned that different protesters were treated differently. Daniels said that Rochester Police, Monroe County Sheriff

Mother of parolee charged with voter fraud says her son made 'a mistake'

Thu, 11/12/2020 - 3:56pm
The mother of a controversial parolee living in Brighton who was imprisoned for nearly 50 years for killing two police officers and now faces felony charges related to his alleged attempt to register to vote said Thursday that her son made a “mistake.” Billie Bottom Brown, 85, spoke outside of Spiritus Christi Church, where some 40 people, including local social justice activists and members of the clergy, gathered to call for the charges against her son, Jalil Abdul Muntaqim, to be dropped. “This is the first time that I have been able to bond with my child in 49 years,” Brown said, “and the thought of him being put back in (to prison) for a mistake that was made on a packet of papers that was issued to him to help him assimilate himself back into society is devastating.” Muntaqim, 69, was born Anthony Bottom in the San Francisco area. He was convicted along with two other men in the 1971 murders of two New York City police officers and sentenced to 25 years-to-life in prison. All

Landmark Society highlights historical sites in annual 'Five to Revive' list

Wed, 11/11/2020 - 11:49am
The Landmark Society of Western New York is out with its annual "Five to Revive." It's a list of properties or locations that are considered priorities for revitalization. One of this year's locations is the Clarissa Street corridor in Rochester's old Third Ward, known today as Corn Hill. In the mid-20th century, Clarissa Street was a hub of commercial activity for the Black community, but a decade of urban renewal decimated many of the clubs and businesses. Today, current and former residents have been working to revive the corridor. The list also includes two historical structures in Rochester. One is a large brick industrial building at 67-89 Canal St. that is being eyed by East House and MM Development Advisors as a supportive and affordable residential property with mixed-use development. In the late 19th century, it was the site of the James Cunningham & Son Company, and from 1900 to 1910, it was a shoe factory. The property is listed in the National Register of Historic

City Council approves Conor Dwyer Reynolds as PAB executive director

Tue, 11/10/2020 - 9:26pm
By a unanimous vote, the Rochester City Council has approved Conor Dwyer Reynolds as the first executive director of the Police Accountability Board. The vote followed several days of unease after a tense confirmation hearing on Thursday, Nov. 5. Prior to that meeting, Reynolds had submitted a 10-page legal memo to Council Chief of Staff BJ Scanlon and the city's law department, asserting the PAB as a "a wholly independent body, non-subordinate agency of the city.” Several councilmembers disagreed, with a belief the board is only assured independence from the Rochester Police Department. Before the vote on Tuesday evening, Council members expressed a need to move forward and create more harmony between Council and the PAB. “It’s always been my hope that Council would embrace the selection of a Police Accountability Board director,” said City Council President Loretta Scott. “We know the tremendous amount of work that the PAB put into the search, work done by volunteers with no