Wrapping up 2008: Part I

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express

As we look ahead to the approaching year when we’ll welcome a new president and work to remedy a struggling economy, we can reflect on the events of 2008.

Marked by elections, legal battles, championships, disappointing losses, births, deaths, new businesses and dear traditions, the past 12 months were full of local news stories that touched our lives every day.

January

Jan. 2 marked the 52nd anniversary of the final passenger train leaving Pennsylvania Station on East Elm Street.

Ronald E. Dailey, a Penn Yan Middle School Social Studies teacher, was accused of taking $7,200 from activity funds at the school. Later in the month, he was charged with 36 felonies in relation to funds missing from the Sheldon Hose Company of the Penn Yan Fire Department.

The Yates County IDA agreed to hire a consultant to complete a housing study.

After 30 years of service, Norm “Jack” Snow stepped down from his post as Milo Town Supervisor.

A group of homeowners on North Main Street posted “No Smoking” signs after Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hospital became a smoke free campus, prohibiting smoking on any portion of its property.

The Yates County Legislature elected Robert Multer as chairperson for another term. He made committee assignments and reviewed a short list of priorities for 2008, including upgrades to the highway department facilities in Benton; addressing overcrowding in the jail; completing the clean-up at the Penn Yan Marine Manufacturing site; compliance with election laws; filling many key staff positions and upgrading the county’s GIS system.

Herbert Gaston who was convicted of destruction of records in a federal investigation on Dec. 8, 2006, was sentenced to six months imprisonment, six months home confinement, two years of supervised release and a $2,000 fine in U.S. District Court.

The Torrey Town Zoning Board of Appeals requested Maxim Development submit a new special use permit application for the development proposed for property near Long Point on Seneca Lake.

Penn Yan Police Chief Gene Mitchell reported the arrests of seven area people on drug charges.

Conflict between members of the Penn Yan Police Benevolent Association, Mayor Douglas Marchionda Jr. and Police Chief Gene Mitchell bubbled to the surface during a village board meeting. The PBA presented a letter accusing the mayor of acting unprofessionally during discussions about serving alcoholic beverages on Dec. 24, and Marchionda responded the following week with a six page document he read at a special session.

The Penn Yan Library Board announced plans for a major addition.

St. Michael’s School was not on the list of schools a task force recommended the Diocese of Rochester close.

Penn Yan Academy bowler Nate Johnson bowled a perfect 300 game in a match at Doug Kent’s Lakeside Lanes.

The hazardous waste clean-up at the former J.T. Baker Chemical site on the Keuka Lake Outlet was complete and the contractors were restoring the site which is owned by the Friends of the Outlet.

Town of Milo officials learned the cost for a temporary restraining order to keep the Keuka Maid from the north end of Keuka Lake was $15,000.

Sam Holder, son of Chris and Becky (Bloomquist) Holder of Branchport, completed a 2,175 mile hike along the Appalachian Trail.

February

The Penn Yan Village Planning Board gave a conditional approval to Seancony, LLP for construction of a Peebles Department Store and restaurant. The proposed project includes moving the entrance to the shopping plaza about 90 feet south.

In 2007, 84 property mortgages in Yates County were foreclosed upon, more than Seneca and Schuyler County combined.

Penn Yan Native Lt. Col. Dan Williams reported on the transformation he sees in Iraq.

Penn Yan School officials are working on finding ways to teach students who have been suspended following recent drug arrests. The school is also planning a program to help teach parents what to look for with drug abuse.

The Dundee Scots basketball team defeated three teams in one week to keep up their winning ways.

After several years of studies, reports, applications and lobbying, Yates County’s proposed Empire Zone has been approved by the Empire State Development Corporation.

Empire Pipeline workers spent a week pulling back a section of the Empire Connector natural gas pipeline under the Keuka Outlet. The 24-in. diameter pipeline’s construction began in Yates County last fall. It will connect the Empire Pipeline with the Millenium Pipeline to carry natural gas to the downstate region and Connecticut.

Penn Yan Police Chief Gene Mitchell filed an article 78 lawsuit against the village of Penn Yan Board of Trustees and Mayor Douglas Marchionda Jr. for their December decision to discontinue payments of a stipend for the investigative work he continued to carry out after being appointed chief in July, 2007.

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Dana Born, a 1979 Penn Yan Academy graduate, visited Keuka College.

The Yates County Legislature agreed to reimburse lodging businesses that collect the newly-adopted occupancy tax 3 percent of the total tax they collect, up to $30 per property, for administrative fees.

After a sprinkler head broke when the Ball Hall sprinkler system froze Feb. 11, 150 Keuka College students were evacuated for the night because of water damage and the lack of a fire alarm and suppression system. The $10 million Ball Hall renovation project had recently been completed when the frigid temperatures caused the damage.

The Moravec family, which owns Moravec Well Drilling, has branched out into another business — A. K. Storage — which offers climate controlled storage that uses geo-thermal energy to maintain constant temperatures.

Morgan Simmons of Keuka Park won the New York State Elks Hoop Shoot Championship.

After a few weeks of turmoil, the Penn Yan Village Board, Mayor Douglas Marchionda Jr. and Penn Yan Police Benevolent Association members were beginning to meet in labor/management sessions aimed at improving communication.

Eight individuals filed petitions for four trustee seats on the Penn Yan Village Board. The candidates are incumbents Nancy Taylor, Michael Christensen, Robert Church, Michael D’Abbracci and challengers Richard Stewart, Michael Carmel Jr., Kenneth Kamholtz and Matt Mitchell.

Captain Neil Pritchard, a physician who formerly operated a practice in Penn Yan, reported again from an air base in Kandahar, Afghanistan. “I’m afraid I have no warm and fuzzy stories or feelings about my time here — only an ever-strengthening conviction that we are in the opening throes of the next World War,” he wrote.

Penn Yan’s Justin Galusha won the Section V wrestling crown and the Mustang bowlers captured the Section V Class C championship.

State Sen. George Winner Jr. and Assemblyman James Bacalles presented the proposed New York State budget, and called it “controversial.”

The red-hot Dundee Scots basketball team defeated Red Jacket in the Section V Class C semi-final game to advance to the championship round where they will face rival Harley-Allendale-Columbia.

March

Penn Yan area farmers Klaas and Mary-Howell Martens will accept a major award recognizing their efforts in sustainable agriculture.

The Dundee Scots Varsity Basketball team defeated HAC to capture the Section V Class C basketball championship.

For the second time in his career, Dundee teacher Douglas Coleman has been suspended pending a tenure hearing. He was previously suspended in the 1990s for conduct unbecoming a teacher.

Two cottage owners attended the Yates County Legislature meeting to voice their opposition to the 4 percent occupancy tax that will be charged to people staying in vacation rental homes in addition to hotels, motels and inns.

The proposed 2008-2009 Penn Yan School budget topped $30 million, up from the current $29.4 million spending plan.

An icy weekend led to scattered power outages and kept road and emergency crews busy with clean-up efforts.

East Rochester Bombers defeated the Dundee Scotsmen in the regional state qualifier game, ending the Scot’s season with a 21-4 record and the school’s first Section V Class C boys basketball crown.

Property owners on both sides of the fence related to development in the town of Torrey packed the Torrey Town Hall for a public hearing on laws related to planned unit developments (PUDS).

A Canandaigua Lake property owner, three vacation rental agencies and a Penn Yan Bed & Breakfast Inn owner filed a lawsuit against Yates County and Yates County Treasurer Bonnie Percy over the occupancy tax law stating the law violates their Constitutional rights.

Organizers announced plans for the Keuka Arts Festival, to be held June 14 and 15 along the Keuka Outlet Trail near the Keuka Street Boat Launch.

Bob Church received the most votes in the Penn Yan Village Election. Others winning seats on the village board were Michael D’Abbracci, Richard Stewart and Nancy Taylor. In Dundee Judy Duquette and Lawrence Howell were elected to trustee seats and in Rushville, Jon Bagley was elected mayor while David Field and Tim Jabaut won seats on the village board. Loujane Johns was re-elected to her Dresden Trustee seat with 21 votes.

The Yates County Industrial Development Agency has been re-named the Finger Lakes Economic Development Center.

The assessment scheme trial of Yates County residents John Nicolo and Constance Roeder, along with a former Kodak executive and the former Greece Town Assessor began in U.S. District Court in Rochester. Prosecutors said the defendants manipulated property assessments to swindle the public and the company out of millions of dollars.

Next week: April through June.