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Updated: 13 min 58 sec ago

Steuben County manager says flooding likely caused millions of dollars of damage

Thu, 08/19/2021 - 8:29pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has declared a state of emergency in Steuben County after flash flooding caused extensive damage in parts of the county. Teams of state and local first responders had to rescue some residents Wednesday night as several inches of rain fell due to the remnants of Tropical Storm Fred. Steuben County Manager Jack Wheeler said the county also declared a state of emergency to give crews time to clear debris and inspect infrastructure. “We had over 100 bridges, because we have a ton of bridges, a lot of small creeks in that area that were overtopped by water. And at that point, they need to be all structurally inspected before we can open them up,” Wheeler said. According to Wheeler, there was damage to a few hundred homes and businesses. While everything hasn’t been totaled up yet, he said the cost of the damage is likely in the millions of dollars. "We’re talking tens of millions, conservatively. You know, just based on the initial estimates," Wheeler said. "If you look at

Rochester hoops stars return home to urge kids to get vaccinated

Thu, 08/19/2021 - 12:04pm
Five professional basketball players who honed their skills on the hardwood in Rochester are returning to their roots next week to encourage teenagers to get vaccinated, city officials announced Thursday. The program, dubbed “Shot for a Shot!” is scheduled for Tuesday from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Lightfoot Rec Center on Flint Street and is to feature Isaiah Stewart of the Detroit Pistons, Nahziah Carter of the Atlanta Hawks, Anthony Lamb of the Houston Rockets, Quinton Rose of the Westchester Knicks, and Antwoine Anderson, who plays for Swiss Central Basket in the Swiss Basketball League. Youngsters, ages 12 to 17, can get their photo taken with the players and a $25 gift card in exchange for getting a vaccine shot, according to city officials. The youngsters would receive an additional $25 Visa or Mastercard gift card upon completing their two-dose series, and their parents or guardians who were vaccinated previously will get a $50 card for having their children vaccinated at the event.

Heavy rains result in state of emergency for Steuben County

Thu, 08/19/2021 - 1:03am
Heavy rains, particularly in the Southern Tier, caused flooding problems from Wednesday night into early Thursday morning. Steuben County on Wednesday night ordered the south side of the Village of Addison to be evacuated, as it borders Tuscarora Creek. Director of Public Safety in Steuben County, Tim Marshall, said on Thursday morning that Steuben County and Village of Addison officials advised residents of the southside of the Village of Addison that were evacuated may return to their homes. When residents reach their home, if their natural gas service is not functioning, they are advised to call Corning Natural Gas Customer Service at (607) 936-3755. If residents smell the odor of natural gas, they should not enter the building, and should call 911 immediately. The State of Emergency for the Towns of West Union, Woodhull, Troupsburg, Tuscarora, Greenwood, Canisteo, Hornellsville, Jasper, and Addison remains in effect until further notice. Many roads are closed, damaged, and covered

Lifetime Assistance breaks ground on day center expansion

Wed, 08/18/2021 - 5:33pm
Lifetime Assistance held a groundbreaking ceremony for the expansion and renovation of its Lowry Center. The adult day center located in Clarkson serves about 90 people with severe developmental and physical disabilities. The $2.7 million project is the first part of the agency’s Independence Together initiative , which will upgrade and modernize its three largest day centers in Monroe County. The Lowry Center project will feature a 6,800-square-foot addition and renovations to make the space more accessible. James Branciforte, CEO of Lifetime Assistance, said they sought input from the people they serve and their families who expressed the desire for an open concept design. “The building was kind of a classroom model,” said Branciforte. “They were dated, they were small, they were cramped. A lot more people use wheelchairs than when we started four decades ago. So we found there certainly is a better way.” He said community engagement was most important to families so the upgrades

Should some student loan debt be forgiven and how much? Lawmakers consider their options

Wed, 08/18/2021 - 4:56pm
According to the U.S. Federal Reserve , there was $1.7 trillion in outstanding student loan debt as of June. Much of that debt has not been paid since the COVID-19 pandemic began and student loan payments were suspended. All interest on those loans was temporarily eliminated as well, and collections on defaulted loans were stopped. The Biden administration has extended the pause until Jan. 31, 2022.

Activists demand protections for tenants as eviction moratoriums are challenged

Wed, 08/18/2021 - 3:53pm
Local housing activists are calling on Rochester officials to enact stronger tenant protections following a Supreme Court decision that blocked part of New York’s COVID-19 eviction moratorium. A recently-renewed federal moratorium could also face legal challenges. Speaking to City Council Tuesday, organizers with the Rochester City-Wide Tenant Union told Councilmembers that they fear an impending housing crisis without local action to, among other things, protect tenants from some evictions and sharp rent increases. “The urgency has gone up, and what we need to do is level the playing field for tenants in Rochester,” said tenant union member Lisle Coleman. The tenant union is calling on City Council to pass five pieces of legislation in September to protect tenants under the banner of “Stabilize Rochester.” So-called “good cause eviction” laws, which activists have pushed for over several years, are perhaps the most pressing part of their agenda. Good cause eviction laws provide

Mercy Flight Central to replace fleet of aging medical services helicopters

Wed, 08/18/2021 - 8:22am
Canandaigua-based Mercy Flight Central will be replacing its four-helicopter fleet at a cost of $21 million. President and CEO for Mercy Flight, Jeff Bartkoski, said that much of the cost of the equipment is paid for through financing and insurance payments. But Mercy Flight is also working to wrap up a $5 million fundraising campaign, which was jump-started by a a $1 million contribution from The Sands Family Foundation. The new choppers will come from Leonardo Helicopters, replacing helicopters that, Bartkoski said, are more than 20 years old. The new helicopters will have technology that will give them additional flexibility. “It may actually enable us to do some missions where we can't do them today because of the weather. But the other thing it does for us is even if we even if there's weather around and we're legally allowed to fly in it, this provides an extra safety enhancement,” Bartoski said, noting that the new helicopters have what is known as ‘IFR’ capability or

New York state vaccine mandate raises questions for healthcare workers and employers

Tue, 08/17/2021 - 11:04pm
Jada Vargas, a patient care technician at Unity Hospital spent much of last year working on a COVID unit and is still very hesitant to get the vaccine. "We literally created a vaccine within a year, and that’s like unheard of," said Vargas. "The fact that it’s new played a role in me not wanting to get the vaccine." Vargas is among thousands of unvaccinated healthcare workers who will have to decide to get the COVID-19 vaccine by the Sept. 27th deadline set by the state earlier this week. She said she feels neutral about the mandate but is hoping Unity will offer weekly COVID-19 testing as an alternative. The mandate raises questions for healthcare providers who are still awaiting guidance from the state health department. Keith Chambery, executive director of Genesee Health Facilities Association, which represents residents and health care professionals in 37 regional facilities, said the administrators at his facilities are hoping their workers will be given the same guidance as

Local Haitian woman working to help loved ones after earthquake

Tue, 08/17/2021 - 6:05pm
As Haiti is enduring a tropical storm days after a cataclysmic earthquake, one local Haitian woman is working to ensure the safety of her family and friends there. Pittsford resident Florence Lissade is from Léogâne, a city on Haiti’s southern coast. In 2010, her hometown suffered catastrophic damage in the historic 7.0 magnitude earthquake. The epicenter of Saturday's 7.2 magnitude quake was an hour west of there. More than 1,900 people have died, and more than 9,900 people were injured in the recent quake, according to officials in Haiti. Lissade’s been in touch with friends and relatives in Haiti's southwest region, which received the brunt of the quake. They’ve been dealing with aftershocks that threaten to topple buildings and a tropical storm. “This morning I spoke to some of them, and it’s raining bad,” Lissade said Tuesday. “They are sleeping outside under the rain. You know, they’re afraid to go inside their house -- those that are fortunate enough their house didn’t collapse.

Job training plan aims to slow gun violence

Tue, 08/17/2021 - 5:27pm
A plan to curb gun violence through job training and placement took another step forward Tuesday. Monroe County and RochesterWorks announced a program called ROC SEEDS. It’ll use more than $2.25 million from New York state to develop pathways to employment for people between ages 18 and 24 in select Rochester ZIP codes (14605, 14606, 14608, 14609, 14611, 14613, 14615, 14619, and 14621). The ZIP codes were chosen because of the high amount of gun violence in those neighborhoods. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the initiative last month as part of a plan to roll out similar programs in cities statewide due to a surge in gun violence. As of last week, Rochester Police data shows that there were 44 homicides so far this year. Last year, there were 52 homicides. Adrian Hale, with the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce, said finding employers was not difficult because plenty of unfilled jobs already exist. He doesn’t expect filling the 50 initial positions to be difficult either. The chamber

Bill looks to curb food deliverers' 'back-door dash' on restaurants

Tue, 08/17/2021 - 3:28pm
Kristen Flores-Fratto could not figure out why Grubhub drivers were arriving at her restaurant, The Gate House, to pick up orders and her staff was fielding calls from upset customers complaining that their orders were wrong. The Gate House, a gourmet burger and wood-fired pizza café in the Neighborhood of the Arts, does not contract with Grubhub or any third-party food delivery service — and does not want to. She said she came to learn that Grubhub had posted an outdated menu on its website and was taking orders on behalf of customers unbeknownst to the restaurant. Now she was upset. “People are calling irate that they didn’t get these menu items that they had ordered that we hadn’t been making in so many years,” Flores-Fratto said. “This went on for a couple of months and finally my manager was like, ‘Listen, we’ve got to do something about this. This is causing chaos.’” In an effort to grab more market share and meet demand, some food delivery companies have scraped menu items from

Local advocate warns Afghan ethnic minority group possibly in danger with Taliban takeover

Mon, 08/16/2021 - 5:20pm
The Taliban have taken over Afghanistan after a swift siege of the capital. Images from Kabul airport show crowds and chaos as people attempt to flee the country in desperation. Those who helped U.S. troops during the 20-year war are especially vulnerable with the collapse of the Afghan government. Ellen Smith, executive director of Keeping Our Promise, a Rochester-based organization that works with wartime allies, said on Monday that she is now receiving hundreds of requests from Afghan allies who are still trying to get out. “It’s just calls after calls and of course all of our SIVs (Special Immigrant Visa applicants) and all of their families are at risk and in danger from the Taliban,” said Smith,. Some of the most vulnerable people under Taliban rule, besides U.S. allies, women, and others, are from the Hazara ethnic minority group, Smith said. “The Hazara are always targeted by the Taliban,” she said. “It was the Hazara women’s hospital where they massacred the pregnant women and

Schumer, Morelle call state of New York’s bridges unacceptable

Mon, 08/16/2021 - 5:12pm
Two of New York’s poorly ranked bridges cross Interstate 590 near Pittsford Plaza. During a visit to Monroe Avenue in Brighton Monday, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer pointed to the bridges and at one point touched the rust. He remarked on the visible wear on those structures. He said bridges like these are one of the reasons why he pushed hard to pass President Joe Biden’s $1 trillion dollar infrastructure plan . He said $13 billion from the bill is expected be spent in New York state. “Too many of our bridges, over 145, are deemed in poor condition, poor condition, we can’t have that,” Schumer said. “Imagine if they weren’t working anymore? God forbid, if they collapsed on someone, but even if they didn’t this area would come to a grinding halt if people could no longer use the bridge.” Schumer said the bill requires union labor to be used for the projects which pleases Grant Malone of the Rochester Building & Construction Trades Council which represents roughly 10,000 construction

Army veteran says the U.S. needs to do more to help Afghan interpreters

Mon, 08/16/2021 - 3:14pm
A Rochester native and Army veteran who served in Afghanistan said the situation in that country is a disaster. Matt Zeller served in Afghanistan in 2008, and worked as a security analyst for the CIA when he returned. Zeller, who has been very active in helping get Afghan interpreters for the U.S. military out of Afghanistan safely, said the current administration should have seen this situation coming. "For months, there has been an army of advocates that have been pleading with the Biden administration that this exact scenario was going to transpire," Zeller said. "We had been warning them that the Taliban were on the verge of taking over; that Afghanistan was going to collapse faster than Washington could respond to it." Zeller said he’s been in touch with his contacts in Afghanistan who are facing the real possibility of being killed by the Taliban if they are identified. “This is a never-again moment. It's now happened, it is ongoing. And if we truly care about defending human

Bus crashes on NY Thruway; more than 50 people taken to hospitals

Sat, 08/14/2021 - 6:59pm
Weedsport, N.Y. (AP) A tour bus bound for Niagara Falls ran off the New York State Thruway and rolled over in central New York, sending more than 50 people to hospitals, state police and a hospital said. The bus landed on its side in the grass around 12:40 p.m. along the highway's westbound side near Weedsport, a village about 25 miles west of Syracuse. Some 57 people were aboard, and all were taken to hospitals for injuries ranging from minor to serious, state police said. It's unclear why the bus veered off the road, troopers said in a news release. Police photos showed papers and other items strewn around the white bus as it rested on the road shoulder. Authorities said that the driver of the JTR Transportation bus has been identified as Fermin Vasquez, 66, of Wingdale, New York. JTR is based out of Poughkeepsie, New York. State police said Vasquez was among those taken to a hospital but didn't elaborate on Vasquez's injuries. The bus was headed to Niagara Falls from Poughkeepsie in

Census: Rochester falls to New York's fourth-largest city

Thu, 08/12/2021 - 2:12pm
Rochester's population grew for the first time in 70 years, but not enough for the city to retain its longtime perch as the third-largest in New York, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released Thursday. Data showed that Rochester's population grew to 211,328 people in 2020 from 210,674 in 2010, a gain of 654 residents. The increase, however modest, was the first the city has seen in the decennial census since 1950, when its population stood at 332,488. The gain, though, was eclipsed by that of Yonkers, a suburb of New York City. Yonkers recorded 211,569 people in the census — edging out Rochester for the third-largest city in the state by 241 people. New York City remains the most populous city in the state, while Buffalo retained its second-place ranking. The new designation for Rochester represents a psychological blow to a city whose reputation has been battered as of late by media coverage of its government's handling of the death of Daniel Prude and the tribulations of its

Summer LEAP prepares students and future teachers

Wed, 08/11/2021 - 9:59pm
A summer program is helping Rochester City School students prepare for the upcoming school year while also creating a pipeline of diverse teachers. Community is the theme this summer for students attending the Allendale Columbia Summer LEAP program. The six-week educational program for K-7 students started as part of a school improvement plan to help RCSD school 17 get out of receivership. They successfully achieved that goal in 2019. Students from Teen Empowerment and the Teaching and Learning Institute at East High School were on board this summer to help with math, reading, and for social emotional support of the 77 students in the program. Sarah Adams of Teen Empowerment said that she has learned that students have different needs. “When I was in elementary school a lot of my teachers took the approach that every student had to deal with them the same way, but to some extent that’s not true,” Adams said. Adam adds that some students need different opportunities or different forms

Funding to fill highways like Inner Loop slashed, but optimism remains

Wed, 08/11/2021 - 5:44pm
President Joe Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill has made it through the Senate, but one part that some Rochester residents were counting on didn’t make it through the process unscathed. To get the measure passed, it took compromise, and that meant a massive cut to part of the bill that would help pay to fill the northern part of the Inner Loop . That part of the bill, called Reconnecting Communities, had $20 billion earmarked. Now, there’s only $1 billion available. The city of Rochester has been working on plans to fill that part of the Inner Loop for more than two years. The cost, the city said, could be as low as $70 million and as high as $300 million. City spokesperson Justin Roj called this turn of events disappointing but said the bill is still game-changing. “Certainly, would we like more money to be in the bill today? Of course,” Roj said. “But I think we should all be celebrating the fact that there is a billion dollars for projects like Inner Loop north.” He said the

Monroe County legislator resigns, citing health reasons

Wed, 08/11/2021 - 2:14pm
A Republican who represented Webster in the Monroe County Legislature resigned Wednesday, citing health-related issues. Legislator Matthew Terp had served in his post since being appointed in July 2015. He was subsequently elected later that year and was re-elected in 2019 to a two-year term that expires Dec. 31. His resignation was announced by Joseph Carbone, the president of the Legislature, who appointed Jennifer Wright, also a Republican, to replace Terp effective immediately. She is a former member of the town of Webster's Conservation Board. Wright will have to run for election in November if she hopes to retain the seat into next year, although that may prove challenging. Terp is on the ballot, and Republican County Elections Commissioner Lisa Nicolay said Wednesday that the window to remove his name and replace it with that of another candidate had passed. Republicans hold a slim 15-to-14 seat majority in the chamber. All the seats are up for grabs in this year's election.

New campaign hopes to increase vaccine confidence

Mon, 08/09/2021 - 5:52pm
A new campaign has launched to help boost vaccine rates and confidence in the Finger Lakes region.