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Election Results
  • Chemung County Executive Race: Chris Moss (R) 55% Jerome Emanuel (Dem) 29% Krusen (I) 16%
  • 1st District: Pastrick (R) 57% Pucci (Dem) 43%
  • 2nd District: Manchester (R) 69% Saglibene (Con) 30%
  • 3rd District: Sweet (R) 53% Lynch (Dem) 40%
  • 4th District: Brennan (R) 64% Bond (Dem) 35%
  • 5th District: Margeson (R) 64% Stow (Dem) 20% Miller 15% (I)
  • 7th District: Sonsire (Dem) 63% Milliken (R) 36%
  • 8th District: Woodard (R) 58% Callas (Dem) 41%
  • 9th District: Burin (R) 74% Fairchild (I) 25%
  • 12th District: McCarthy (Dem) 50% Collins (R) 45%
  • 13th District: Drake (R) 65% Logan-Lattimore (Dem) 34%
  • 14th District: Smith (R) 68% Heyward (Dem) 31%

Community Voices

Our community blogs

  1. Fall is when I tend to reflect on a year of many blessings as we look forward to celebrating Thanksgiving and remembering the first celebration of thanks just a few centuries ago.  On Thanksgiving Day, we realize once again that we have so much to be thankful for.  God has blessed us all in so many ways, yet we often (me included) tend to take much in life for granted.  And I cringe every time I hear this special day called Turkey Day, instead preferring to think that deep within each of us is a heart of thanksgiving for all the blessings showered upon us each and every day.

     

    As a nation, we treasure the story of the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving celebration at Plimouth Colony in 1621.   (The Pilgrims of Plimouth are not to be confused with the Puritans who settled the Boston area; they are each of different religious backgrounds.)  The original Mayflower passengers numbered 102, with about 50 crew members, when they set sail for the intended destination of the Virginia Colony.  Blown northward off course, they arrived in 1620 to a barren landscape amidst cold and bitter November winds and snows.  

     

    These hardy souls struggled to survive as the ravages of disease took a toll on board ship where they wintered.  Only 53 passengers and half the crew remained alive in the spring.  This left a straggling group of humanity to emerge from winter’s stark bleakness to face the early days of spring.  But, the days were bright with hope and promise as the warming sun nudged green buds alive on plants and trees.  They had survived!  And, with God’s help, they were determined to succeed in their endeavor to settle this new land.

     

    Building huts within the protection of a fort and its cannon, they moved from the hold of the ship to life on shore.  They learned to grow vegetables and hunt wild game and fish.  Native Americans who had befriended them were of great assistance in teaching the best methods for growing their gardens, and hunting and fishing.  At the end of harvest in October 1621, a feast was held for three days, traditionally considered the first Thanksgiving.  From records kept, 53 Pilgrims and 90 Native Americans attended this great feast.

     

    By 1623, their failed communal farming effort had been given over to the more productive privatized individual family farming.  With an abundant harvest following a drought and subsequent beneficial rains, Gov. William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving that same year:  “Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forest to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience; now, I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November ye 29th of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three, and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor, and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.”

     

    The Pilgrims’ annual tradition was followed in 1630 by the Puritans’ first celebration, in 1639 by settlers of Connecticut, and in 1644 among the Dutch of New Netherlands.  Each group also set aside an annual day of thanksgiving in future years. 

     

    By the 18th century, various colonies designated a day of thanksgiving for military victories or bountiful crops.  In December 1777, a national day of thanksgiving within all thirteen colonies was declared and set aside by General George Washington after British General Burgoyne surrendered at Saratoga.  On October 3, 1789, President Washington set aside the first Thanksgiving Day, and proclaimed such a day again in 1795.  Since then, a national day of thanksgiving was proclaimed by future presidents, but not necessarily annually.  It was President Abraham Lincoln who established a national Thanksgiving Day to be held on the last Thursday of November 1863.  Since then, Thanksgiving has been observed annually.  However, change again took place in 1941 when President Franklin Roosevelt set the fourth Thursday of each November as the official date, and there it has remained.

     

    What foods were on the menu for the first Thanksgiving Day feast in 1621?  From writings kept, the Wampanoag Native Americans killed five deer.  The colonists shot wild fowl – likely geese, ducks and turkey.  Indian corn was used since what we know as field and sweet corn were not yet available.  Jennifer Monac, spokesperson for the living-history museum at Plimouth Plantation, has said they “likely supplemented their venison and birds with fish, lobster, clams, nuts, and wheat flour, as well as vegetables such as pumpkin (not in pie), squash, carrots and peas.”  However, what we consider traditional foods for our Thanksgiving dinner (mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, sweet corn, cranberry sauce, stuffing and pumpkin pie) were not found on their table – these foods had not even been introduced into their diet yet!

     

    What sets this day apart for you and your family?  What makes your heart thankful?  What special memories or traditions of Thanksgiving Day do you share with family and friends?  I’d love to hear your memories!

     

    Thanksgiving has always been a family day for us, whether during my childhood or with my husband and our children.  When I was a small child, my dad had farm chores; but, we always attended a morning worship service.  In my late teens, and no longer on the farm, and no worship service at our church, he often took us hunting.  For my husband, Ed, every holiday was wrapped in never-ending milking and barn chores, continuing after we married.

     

    I especially enjoyed the big dinners after church at my dad’s parents’ home in Clifton, New Jersey in my early teens.  With her Dutch accent, my grandmother always welcomed us at the door with her cheery “Hello, Dear!”  My grandfather, a general contractor, had fully shed his accent, though they both spoke Dutch when we grandkids were not to know the content of their conversation!  And I well remember their food-laden table, surrounded by their three children and spouses, and all of us grandchildren.

     

    Thanksgiving Day also brings to mind the quintessential painting by Norman Rockwell of the family gathered around the table - Grandma setting down the large platter of turkey, eagerly awaiting Grandpa’s carving.  I began a fun tradition of naming our birds either Sir Thomas or Henrietta, depending on size.

     

    Growing up, our children always enjoyed watching the Thanksgiving Day parades.  I often had to work this holiday years ago, and looked forward to coming home to the delicious aroma of turkey dinner begun by my husband and children.  Now, with our two remaining children grown and married, and each with children of their own, they celebrate with their respective spouse’s family.  Ed and I celebrate with a small quiet dinner.  And then, we eagerly anticipate Christmas and the return of our family for a few days.

     

    Thanksgiving Day also never fails to remind us of those who have left behind an empty chair and a hole in our hearts – our oldest daughter, both my husband’s parents, and my dad and step-mother.  Yet, sweet memories of their love cast a warm glow over all. 

     

    With thankful hearts for the many blessings God has so generously bestowed on each of us, I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving Day!

  2. Linda Roorda
    Latest Entry

    Watching a fire burning in the fireplace is mesmerizing.  The dancing flames seem to take on a life all their own, swaying as if in a gentle breeze.  And it appears to be that time of year again.  Admittedly, fall is not my favorite season, though I do enjoy the brilliant colors as leaves turn various shades and hues before cascading down to replenish the earth.  I also tend to find the cold rain on dark and dreary days a bit depressing… yet, I do like the time to slow down, gather in, and observe nature’s changing moods. 

     

    We shiver as the cold air closes in around us, put on a warm sweater, or wrap ourselves in a cozy quilt or blanket, and grab a good book to read.  The flowers faded long ago as their greenery wilted, and the gardens have been put to rest for another season.  Soon pristine white flakes will flutter down to cover the drab browns and grays as winter’s blanket settles upon the earth… in a relentless cycle of time.

     

    This poem was among my earliest, written in 2013.  And, once again, I find myself sitting in front of the pellet stove, missing our trusty old woodstove, gazing at the small fire that slowly begins to burn.  As the fire is fed and builds momentum, its heat slowly radiates outward, and I take time to pursue thoughts that ramble… time to think about life… time to ponder where all the years have gone… time to worry… time to realize I need to give those frets to God… time to plan next year’s gardens… time to consider chores on my endless to-do list… and time to contemplate the innumerable blessings God has given us all.  Blessings in an every-day hectic life that we so often take for granted. 

     

    Dancing Embers

    Linda A. Roorda

    ~

    On a cold wintry night

    Sitting quiet by the fire

    A welcomed rest and retreat

    Watching embers glow bright

    Dancing as in a breeze

    Pausing to think and reflect…

    ~

    On blessings clearly seen

    In ways beyond counting,

    On those hid from view

    Only the heart can perceive…

    ~

    On a life oft’ encumbered

    With worries, frets and woes,

    On dreams gone up in flames

    Leaving memories behind…

    ~

    But then I remember

    One who softly entreats

    Draw near to Me

    And release your burdens

    For I’ll care for you

    Each step of the way.

    ~~

    Jan/Feb 2013

    All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without permission of author.

  3. Fall has finally arrived on Wipjibber Mountain, which means the boys of Troop 000 are back up and running after time off for summer vacation. The scouts are just back from their first camping trip for the 2018-2019 season and I’m told it was one for the history books.

    In an effort to train for next Summer’s backpacking trip in the Allegheny Mountains, the scouts hiked from the Methodist Church to the property of their scoutmaster, Gary Inzo. It was fair weather for the 5 mile hike with an overnight stop in the woods near the old railway station.

    The following morning they arrived at Inzo’s property and set up camp. The older scouts instructed their younger charges in the ways of woodcraft including cooking a meal over an open fire. I’m happy to report no injuries other than an incident in which Lawrence Hubschmidt got smoke in his eyes and recoiled, sending his pan full of half done fried potatoes flying through the air. As his spuds returned to earth, some landing in a fresh mug of coffee, just poured, Lawrence lost his balance and went rolling down the hillside, his scoutmaster following closely behind him. Lawrence was uninjured, thankfully, largely in part to the strength of the adult leaders who restrained said scoutmaster until a fresh cup of joe could be poured for him. The adults later remarked it was a good thing Inzo forgot about the shotgun he’d brought in case of a visit by a nuisance bear that’d been having around his place.

    The scouts enjoyed a rousing game of “Flashlight Tag” in the wooded section of the property until the game took an interesting turn which will not be soon forgotten.

    Bobby Joe Olson, being designated as the person who was”it”, heard what he suspected to be another scout in a nearby thicket. He snuck up on the unsuspecting boy aided only by the moonlight. He was nearly on his quarry when he heard a low, deep snuffling sound.

    “B-B-B… BEAR!!!!” he bellowed, before stumbling over a tree root and falling backwards, losing his flashlight in the process.

    Scoutmaster Inzo, seeing the opportunity to finally be rid of the bear, remembered he'd brought his 12 gauge and, grabbing it, sprinted up the hill towards the sound of Bobby Joe’s yelling. Arriving where the boy was still  thrashing in the dry leaves trying to get to his feet he took aim at the thrashing weeds where  he knew the bear stood, and let fly with two rounds of buckshot.

    At the report of the old Remington, Bobby Joe snapped to his senses. He also snapped countless small trees and limbs as he bolted into the night towards camp.

    Certain the bruin was down,  Inzo went to his tent, fetching a lantern and returned with the rest of the group. All were anxious to see the monster which nearly ate their fellow scout. All that is except said scout who was occupied cleaning up the mess in his shorts.

    Shining the lantern on his trophy, Inzo was immediately crestfallen to find not the bearskin rug he’d long desired, but Ollie, his grandson’s prize Hereford steer which until this weekend was bound for next year’s State Fair.

    The remainder of the weekend was a somber affair as scoutmaster searched for ways to break the news of the steer’s demise to his grandson. But all agreed it was a weekend they’d never forget.

     

                                   Community Announcements

    The Wipjibber Mountain Audubon Club will host a Pancake Breakfast at the fire department November 10th from 8-11 am. A free will donation is suggested.

    Scout Troop 000 announced they will be postponing their annual Fall Spaghetti Dinner. Instead, there will be an “all you can eat” roast beef dinner held in the dining hall of the Methodist Church on Nov. 17th from 4-7pm. Cost is $10 for those 12 and up, children $5. All proceeds will go towards the troops newly planned Summer trip to New York City.

     

     

  4. Without a doubt, we’re heading into some exciting times here in Chemung County. With the slate of candidates running for election this year, voters have the opportunity to enact change that could impact the county for decades to come.

    It’s exciting times for ElmiraTelegram.com as well. Not only has the site stepped forward to offer the chance for voters to voice their support for the candidates, but the opportunity for the candidates to reach out to the voters as well.

    Additionally, it’s a time of change for the website as a whole. Prompted by several people in our community and the void expressed by many, ElmiraTelegram.com will be making some major changes to the website in the next few weeks.

    Starting shortly after the election, ElmiraTelegram.com will be getting a major facelift, offering a more user friendly, professional looking website.

    Screen Shot 2018-10-28 at 8.00.51 PM.png

    Just a peek!

     

    The changes won’t be just cosmetic however. We’ll be making it easier for readers and community figures to make their voices heard with an expanded “Opinion” section, modeled off of the traditional op-ed pages found in newspapers across the nation.

    E.T will have a Special Features section appearing throughout the year including a section to celebrate the holidays.

    And for those who enjoy the laid back chat, the the forums will remain available to those who have signed up.

    Best of all, ElmiraTelegram.com will remain free to the public. No firewalls, no pop up, just news and information.

    This change has been something I’ve wanted to try for a long time, and now feels like the right time to give it a whirl.The original plan was to make the changes to coincide with the site’s five year anniversary, but there’s no way I can wait that long.

    So stay tuned and sometime after Election Day we’ll pull back the covers and unveil the new and improved ElmiraTelegram.com. I think you’re gonna like it!

     

  5. by Erin Doane 

    The Lake Street Bridge closed to vehicular and pedestrian traffic in March 2011. I started working here at CCHS in May 2011, so I never had the chance to go over the bridge that is just across the street from the museum. It was announced recently that work would start next summer to repair the bridge and open it to pedestrians. This is just the newest chapter in the history of this river crossing.

    The first bridge across the Chemung River in Elmira was completed at the foot of Lake Street in 1824. Before that, one needed a ferry to cross the river. The wooden bridge was constructed by the Elmira and Southport Bridge Company. It had three piers, one in the center of each channel and another on the island in the middle of the river. Some years after it was built, the spans began to sag considerably. Once, a drove of cattle crossing the bridge, broke through the first span during high water and timbers and cows went floating down the river. In 1840, the bridge was badly damaged in the “great fire” of that year. A new covered bridge was erected on the spot with J.H. Gallagher supervising construction.

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    The covered bridge burned in 1850 when the tannery at its south end caught fire. It was replaced by a wooden truss structure. This new bridge was open at the top except for some crossing timbers. This allowed the snow to fall through onto the roadway during the winter so that sleighs could more easily cross. A considerable part of this bridge was washed away during the St. Patrick’s Day flood of 1865. The bridge’s only stone pier was undermined and most of the southern span dropped out and washed down the river. The bridge was repaired and remained in used until 1869.

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    By 1869, there were two bridges over the Chemung, at Lake Street and Main Street. Both were toll bridges. Businessmen on the north side of the river did not like that people had to pay tolls to cross. Customers from the plank road district and other parts of Southport were reluctant to cross the bridge to do businesses. Farmers didn’t want to pay a toll to sell their produce so they went south to Troy, Pennsylvania instead of to Elmira.

    Early in 1869, the city passed a legislative act authorizing it to purchase both bridges for $25,000 (around $460,000 today). They dropped the tolls and used taxpayer funds to maintain the structures. Three years later, another act was passed authorizing the building of new bridges at both locations. The Main Street bridge was replaced first, then the Lake Street bridge was completed in 1874. The new Lake Street bridge was made of iron with three spans of 182 feet each and trusses that were 26 feet high. The piers were made of limestone. It cost $65,000 (about $1.4 million). 

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    The Lake Street bridge was replaced again by a new steel bridge in 1905. While the work was being done, a temporary wooden pedestrian bridge was erected next to it so that people could still move across the river.

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    In June, 1959, City Manager Angus T. Johnson reported to the Elmira City Council that the Lake Street bridge was in desperate need of repair. The bridge supports were weakened, the metal fixtures were corroded, and rivets were missing from some joints. Salt used on the roads during the winter caused much of the deterioration. The Council closed the bridge to both all traffic and plans were made to replace the structure.

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    On June 21, 1961, between 1,200 and 1,500 Elmirans gathered in the rain for the official opening of the new Lake Street bridge. The bridge had been closed for two years but construction had finished two weeks ahead of schedule. The cost of demolition of the old bridge and construction of the new was $473,270 (just under $4 million today). 

    In 1972, flood waters rose all the way to the bridge’s deck but it survived largely unscathed. Eleven years later, in 1983, it was closed for two months while new expansion joints were installed, the structural steel was scraped and repainted, and the roadway was resurfaced with a new membrane liner to help preserved the concrete deck.

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    Regular maintenance was not enough to keep the bridge from deteriorating. Winters can be hard here in the northeast and, despite yearly washing, salt used to treat the roads damaged the bridge’s concrete supports and rubber expansion joints. In March 2011, the Lake Street bridge was declared unsafe and closed to vehicles and pedestrians. At the time, it had the lowest traffic count of all the city’s five bridges over the Chemung River. As early as May 2011, there were reports that the bridge would be repaired for pedestrian use only. Next summer, some eight years later, the project may finally get underway.

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    Erin Doane is the curator at the Chemung County Historical Society. To see more of their blog, go to http://chemungcountyhistoricalsociety.blogspot.com

  6. I’ve been a member of the Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction since 2014. The task force was established at a time when local police departments and addiction centers, including many across the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions, were pointing to the alarming rise in the availability and abuse of heroin and opioids.  

    Since its formation, this crisis has only accelerated and deepened. 

    Significant resources have been committed to examining the myriad causes and effects, and to find solutions. State funding, for instance, has doubled to nearly $250 million in this year’s budget.

    Nevertheless, the work of responding is just beginning. 

    According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Every day, more than 115 Americans die after overdosing on opioids.”

    The federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) pegs the economic cost of prescription opioid abuse at nearly $79 billion annually in the United States, “including the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.”

    A report earlier this year from the Albany-based Rockefeller Institute of Government made this summary, “We found that drug deaths continue to surge in New York State. In one year, from 2015 to 2016, drug deaths increased 29 percent — from 3,009 total deaths to 3,894. In fact, it was the single largest annual increase in the number of deaths we examined going back to 2010. Overall…from 2010-16 there has been a 121 percent increase in the number of deaths in New York State.”

    That’s just a small sampling of the impact. It does not even begin to tell the personal, family stories of loss.
     
    Consequently, last week, our Senate task force released our latest, comprehensive report detailing a series of recommendations for ongoing state-level actions to address the burgeoning addiction crisis affecting communities. The report follows and continues to build on the series of public forums the task force has held across the state since 2014, including forums I have sponsored in Elmira and Penn Yan. 

    What the Senate task force has heard directly from the local front lines in fighting this heroin and opioid crisis is the foundation we are building on. This local input, which has been reflected in actions New York State has taken over the past several years, helps target the necessary responses and keep our strategies as up to date as possible.

    Local input has been the driving force behind the recommendations we’re now putting forth to build on and strengthen the state-local partnership that's going to remain critical to putting in place the most effective combination of law enforcement, awareness and education, and treatment and prevention.  

    We need to keep acting and keep working, and we will. The report details the task force’s emphasis on a four-pronged response focusing on prevention, treatment, recovery, and enforcement. Among many other actions highlighted in the new report, legislation spearheaded by the task force has served as a national model for other states and in the creation of the federal Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act recently approved by Congress. 

    The report’s 11 recommendations emphasize a plan to utilize public and private resources to help underserved populations and others without access to treatment, as well as improve existing support systems to keep enhancing and strengthening New York’s evolving fight against opioid abuse. 

    The full report, which includes more information on the recommendations and details about numerous legislative actions spearheaded by the Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction, is available on my Senate website, omara.nysenate.gov.
     

  7. The turkeys are back!!  About two dozen are now scratching up all the vegetation below the bird feeders.  Crisp leaves rustle like taffeta under their feet.  Young turkeys in the dog pen provide some wild entertainment when Freckles decides he must go out.   The birds race round and round, forgetting they can fly, and then suddenly they remember and soar over the fence with pounding wings and squawks of protest.  Then we let the dog off his leash and he barks after them.

    As the leaves continue to reluctantly fall, the catalogs have been pouring into our mail box; pages and pages full of Halloween, Thanksgiving & Christmas decorations and gift ideas.  My mind boggles at the plethora of STUFF ----- I am amazed that anyone would spend money on some of these items.   But then I remind myself that taste is surely subjective and what’s attractive, humorous or meaningful to one may not be equally so to another; I do not have a franchise on what is appropriate in décor, lawn ornaments or possessions.   

    Recently, we had visitors from Uganda --- a pastor and his wife --- and suddenly I looked at our house as they might see it.  I was struck by the thought that they could well find all my stuff over-the-top too much in the spiritual value system that we share.  Everyone’s culture is as different as everyone’s taste.  Rethinking our living conditions and our possessions is probably a useful activity now and then.  It’s so easy to accumulate, collect, and amass thoughtlessly.

    Anyone who has visited our home knows that I’m definitely not a minimalist (you can all stop laughing now!).  Each corner, the walls and all the shelves are full.  I surround myself with items that are meaningful to me or beautiful in my eyes, from shells and stones to cut glass and silver tea pots.  I like French provincial chairs and velvet pillows, homespun blankets and brass warming pans.  But I can also appreciate homes that are quite different; I admire the sleek glass and steel rooms with splashy Georgia O’Keefe paintings and luxurious fur throws.  I like the classic Arts and Crafts designs; Roycroft and Stickley.   Then there’s the Adirondack-style décor all pine cones and Pendleton blankets.  If I could decorate houses for a living, I’d be on cloud nine until my energy ran out.  On the other end, I probably would live in a wilderness cabin quite happily if I had my own pillow and tea cup.  I guess my point is that no one should feel a need to copy anyone else’s style – in homes, clothes or living.  We are each unique and, hopefully, are able to embrace that.   Alexandra Stoddard says: “Let the light that shines brightly inside you become the energy that guides the energy of your home.” * Now when any of my family lift their eyebrows at the multiplicity of my things ---- I’ll just respond that everything from the china and glass to the stacks of books, provide energy for my days------ but that I’m also trying to hold my possessions lightly. :)

    In another three days, it will be Halloween.   (And in thirteen days I hope you and all your friends, relatives and neighbors will be out to vote!!)  We’ve harvested our few pumpkins for the steps and brought out the broom corn.  These signs of autumn will remain until after Thanksgiving.  My small concession to actual Halloween decorating, are three orange pails with cut-out faces, through which candles shine, and we do usually carve a pumpkin or two.  I forgo the skeletons, ghouls, bats and spiders.  They are a bit macabre for my taste.

    Halloween began as the Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced Sah-ween).  This was a harvest celebration and the beginning of the Celtic New Year, but also a time when it was thought that spirits could come back; to vent their displeasure on those they felt had wronged them in this life.  The lighted pumpkins and gourds were carried to protect individuals from the unhappy spirits.  Bon fires were set in and around villages to make more light for said protection.  Samhain became our Halloween due to Pope Gregory the First.  In 601 AD, Gregory ordered the missionaries of the Christian church: stop trying to stamp out the pagan customs and holidays.  Instead, adapt the times already customary for celebration and rename them to fit the Christian faith.  So --- Samhain became All-Saint’s Eve, All Saints Day, and colloquially Halloween.

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    When I was a teenager, we went trick or treating for UNICEF.  Our sons seldom went out unless they were visiting someone who did.  However, we had several Halloween parties at home, where we and assorted friends constructed mazes, bobbed for apples, did skits and dressed in costumes.  Back when I sewed more, I made Super Man, Bat Man and other heroic costumes that after Halloween, became pajamas or went into the dress-up box.  Our house in the Catskills was a marvelous site for Halloween parties.  It had a split-level attic, the upper part of which was all gabled.  We set up mazes there with recorded ghostly music and props like cooked spaghetti and peeled grapes.  It was great fun.  Currently, since we live back from the road and away from the village, we seldom get any little voices calling: “trick or treat”.  However I find that it is sufficiently good to consider the All-Saints aspect of October 31st and November 1st.  Enough of my family and friends have gone beyond earth’s tether that I like remembering and celebrating them.   

    One of my current autumn activities is making potpourri – of two or three sorts.  My favorite happens to be a basil, sage and marigold combination.  This wouldn’t appeal to everyone --- including the men in my family who think that herbs are generally stinky.  But that pungent aroma brings back all the greenness and robustness of summer vegetable gardens.   I put phlox flowers and alyssum into another mix, creating a comfort-giving scent that triggers thoughts of warm conversations around my mother’s table accompanied by cocoa and molasses cookies.

    Diane Ackerman**, a local, but internationally-known writer, speaks at some length about fragrances and our sense of smell, in her book, A Natural History of the Senses.  Diane is a biologist, professor and poet; a woman of many interests.  This is what she says about our sense of smell: “Smells spur memories, but they also rouse our dozy senses, pamper and indulge us, help define our self-image, stir the cauldron of our seductiveness, warn us of danger, lead us into temptation, fan our religious fervor, accompany us to heaven, wed us to fashion, steep us in luxury.”   And she goes on to discuss perfumes, plants, animals and humans ---- our olfactory capabilities ----- and tells us what happens when the sense of smell leaves us --- we lose our sense of taste among other difficulties.  Odors are often hard to describe, but we can conjure them up in our memories if we concentrate.   Helen Keller*** said: “Smell is a potent wizard that transports us across a thousand miles and all the years we have lived.”  I’m not fond of most commercial potpourris and some perfumes actually give me a head ache.  But my home-made potpourri keeps me happy all through the long, NYS winters.

    Because Halloween is imminent, I conclude with this poem by Harry Behn**** to bring back your Halloween memories.  “Tonight is the night when dead leaves fly like witches on switches across the sky, when elf and sprite flit through the night on a moony sheen.  Tonight is the night when leaves make a sound like a gnome in his home under the ground, when spooks and trolls creep out of holes mossy and green.  Tonight is the night when pumpkins stare through sheaves and leaves everywhere, when ghoul and ghost and goblin host dance ‘round their queen.  It’s Halloween!”

    I hope this carries blessings and fragrant breezes wafting across your life this October time.

    Carol may be reached at: cpeggy@htva.net.

    ________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    *-Alexandra Stoddard—American writer and life-style guru.

    **-Diane Ackerman – American writer, essayist, biologist and poet; born 1948, resides in Ithaca, NY.

    ***-Helen Keller – American author, activist, lecturer; first person to achieve a BA degree who was both blind and deaf.  Quote from “The World I Live In”.

    ****- Harry Behn – American screen writer; 1898-1973

  8. 5bbf858569704_ScreenShot2018-10-11at1_13_49PM.png.e9403f877457670ec283c7042111ca8e.png

    The Chemung County Matters blog exists to help promote discussions about local issues. The views expressed by guest bloggers do not necessarily reflect my own, but are rather shared here in order to provide information and hopefully stimulate ideas.

    Last night the Chemung County Legislature voted 14-2 in favor of a new sales tax plan, with only Peggy Woodard (District 8) and Rodney Strange (District 15) voting no.

    The old plan has been under intense scrutiny since it was passed in 2013 for taking resources from the towns, villages and City of Elmira, causing many of them to suffer fiscal hardships.

    Numerous candidates for local office have strenuously advocated for a change in the way sales tax monies are allocated between the county and its municipalities, something that is undoubtedly part of the decision of county leaders to change course.

    However, the new plan has many problems as well.

    Prior to the vote, I offered comments to the sitting legislature about new plan as it relates to the towns and villages. I intend to describe my position in a subsequent post within the next day or so.

    John Burin, a former manager of the City of Elmira and current candidate for legislature in the 9th District, offered comments about the new plans as it relates to the city. A copy of his statement is shown below.


     

    Quote

     

    October 9, 2018

    Honorable Legislators:

    On September 24, 2018 I mailed each of you a letter with supporting documentation asking that you table this proposed plan to revise the reallocation of sales tax. I also referenced a process by which the 2019 county budget and budget message could move forward without the revised plan being in place. In my op ed on September 23, 2018, I pointed out in three months, newly elected officials should have the right to vote on this multi-year funding program.

    I fully support a plan to reallocate sales tax revenue however, I believe the plan should be based on more than fund balances and debt. For example, the County apportionment of real property taxes creates an unintentional double taxation for certain services. These inequities, which are common to most of the towns/villages in varying degree, should be taken into consideration with the allocation of sales tax dollars. Additionally, from 2013 to 2018 Chemung County expenses increased $15 million dollars. During this same time period five county budgets were passed with deficits that required $10.5 million dollars of fund balance to close the gap. Future estimates of county revenues and expenses should be projected showing the impact of a sales tax reallocation plan.

    In order for our county to realize desired social/economic growth, we must work together for a common cause. It was in this spirit that the City of Elmira allowed it’s Empire Zone Benefits to be used outside the City. The City’s willingness to share its zone in early 2000 produced economic benefits we still enjoy today and will continue to enjoy into the future.

    According to the Chemung County Industrial Agency report, Project Information, December 31, 2009 the City of Elmira Empire Zone;

    *Leveraged over $700 Million of private investment.

    *Generated new property tax revenue for the County in excess of $900,000 and $1.7 million local and school tax revenue. Each year as property tax exemptions expire, the real property tax revenue increases and therefore current tax revenue is significantly greater.

    *The City’s zone created 4,500 jobs and retained 10,000 jobs.

    *14,500 jobs with an average salary of $20,000 generated $290 Million of payroll.

    *$290 Million of payroll generates millions of sales tax dollars.

    This is a billion dollar infusion of economic benefits. If not for the City of Elmira sharing its Empire Zone, Chemung County finances would be quite different today.

    In June 2016, the New York State Financial Restructuring Board commented on the City of Elmira’s Bond Rating. “Prior to June 2015, the City had a bond rating of A2 with a negative outlook from Moody’s. On June 1st, 2015, Moody’s released a new rating for the City’s General Obligation bonds and lowered the rating by five notices – to Ba1 with a sustained negative outlook. This is non-investment grade (junk bond) rating from Moody’s.”

    The reasons Moody’s cited for this severe reduction in the City’s credit rating are:

    *Significant loss of revenue from the County sales tax sharing agreement;

    *Health insurance overruns;

    *Recurring general fund deficits

    Moody’s will view new development positively however this plan that defers City debt will most likely not improve the City’s poor investment grade of bonds. The mixed use $14,000,000 development project in Elmira was granted a twenty year payment in lieu of tax agreement with the first four years being 100% exempt, after eleven years the project will pay 30% and in year twenty 60%. Property tax revenue from the affordable housing projects are restricted by law and proposed private developments have been given multi-year tax exemptions. It is for these reasons additional sales tax revenue to the City should be a part of tonight’s plan. Even if the revenue is restricted as to use, Moody’s may look favorably at a slight upgrade.

    Sound business practice would suggest that this proposed sales tax allocation is deficient of solid reasoning for the suggested allocations. Over the next three months, a cohesive legislature working together should develop a plan that addresses the needs of the community keeping in mind the future needs of county government as well as the social and economic challenges inherent with high poverty levels, effective tax rates that stagnate real estate values and the ever increasing cost of providing efficient public safety services.

    The plan before you tonight falls short in capturing these community needs. Lets take a step back, analyze the financial impact of what is being proposed and compare those findings to the needs of our community.

    Thank you,

    John J. Burin


     

     

  9. The set of articles in this story were located in The Elmira Telegram and The Star-Gazette, Elmira, N. Y.  If anyone is offended by this article due to proximity of location or relationship to those in this story, please contact me. I find the article very interesting. It not only tells the sad story of this family but also gives us a snapshot of a families life back in 1917 in the Town of Chemung.  - Mary Ellen
     

    The stories were transcribed verbatim. Special Thanks to Mike Tuccinardi for uncovering this unusual piece of history of the town.

     

    Elmira Star-Gazette   Wednesday January 10, 1917 

    Murder in Second Degree Charge Against Bentley

    Evident That District Attorney Is Convinced William Bentley Did Not Premeditate Slaying of John Albee – Victim Buried in Cayuta but Son Does Not Care to Attend.

    5ad2334b4f23c_ScreenShot2018-04-14at12_55_31PM.png.6f2ee8e5a6d56b552964fe88069ec4a1.png

     

    Murder in the second degree will be the charge against William Bentley, the aged slayer of John Albee, so stated District Attorney Personius this noon.
     
    “I am going to put all the facts before the grand jury,” continued the district attorney. “When the grand jury sits on January 22 I shall summon all the witnesses before them and after they have told their stories I shall leave the matter in the hands of the grand jurors.”
     
    “The stories told by the witnesses conflict on a number of important points. After listening to each of the witnesses I cannot now say which story is correct.”
     
    Coroner Hammond this afternoon said he would hold an inquest either Friday or Saturday.
     
    Attorney Michael O’Connor representing William Bentley, today said he had no statement to issue regarding his client other than he issued yesterday when he said the public would get a different impression of the case when all the facts are known
    DIDN"T WANT TO GO 
    David J. Albee did not express a desire to attend the funeral of his father, which was held this afternoon at the homestead in Cayuta. He remains in a witness cell in the county jail.
     
    It is said that David Albee has been on two occasions in a hospital for the insane and received treatment. Those who have recently talked with the young man were impressed with the evidence that his mind is not as clear as it might be.
     
    District Attorney Personius, his assistant Attorney Leo Waxman, Sheriff Hoke and a stenographer were present this morning about two hours while Mrs. William Bentley related her version of the affair in detail. The statement made by Mrs. Bentley was recorded by the stenographer and later will be transcribed. As soon as Mrs. Bentley left the district attorney’s office she was interviewed by Attorney Michael O’Connor representing the defendant.
     
    It was learned today that the bruises on the right side of David J. Albee’s face were not caused by the encounter with William Bentley on the night of the slaying, but were inflicted on Saturday afternoon. It was while William Bentley and David Albee were driving home from Springs Corners, Pa., where they obtained liquor, that Bentley struck his horse a blow with his whip, the horse darted forward and David fell from the wagon, injuring his face.
    "DID HE CRY 'HALT'?"
    Information also comes in a round- about way that William Bentley is claimed to have warned Albee to halt before the shot was fired. This is a matter which probably will be brought out at the coroner’s inquest.
     
    William Bentley has told his version of the case for the last time, until he is called to the witness stand in his own behalf. Attorney O’Connor after talking with Bentley yesterday advised the prisoner not to discuss the case with anyone. The man has told his story to the district attorney and to his lawyer. Mr. O’Connor does not wish him to discuss it with anyone else.
     
    The fact that District Attorney Personius will place only a charge of murder in the second degree against the prisoner shows that the authorities are satisfied that there was no premeditation before the shot was fired.
     
    Attorney O’Connor today was unable to say whether he would be able to offer bail when Bentley is arraigned before Judge Swartwood.
     
    Elmira Star-Gazette Thursday January 25, 1917

    William Bentley Is Given Liberty 
    Walks From Jail a Free Man Today
    No Indictment For Killing Albee

    --------------------
    Chemung Man Weeps When He Hears of His Release –
    Says He Had No Reason to Kill His Old Friend and
    Blames the Victim’s Son for What Happened –
    Intends to Leave Whiskey Alone – Hopes to Save His Home
    William Bentley, of Chemung, walked from the county jail shortly after 1:30 o’clock this afternoon a free man. The grand jury which considered his case reported at 10:30 o’clock this morning to Justice Kiley in Supreme court that they had found no indictment against the man who killed John Albee, of Cayuta, two weeks ago last Sunday morning. Thus did William Bentley satisfy the grand jurors that the shooting was an accident.

    Shortly after the grand jury reported, Bentley was visited in his cell in the county jail. When informed that he would shortly be a free man the tears flowed from Bentley’s eyes and for a few minutes he sat weeping on the edge of the steel bunk he has occupied for nineteen nights and days. 
    Recovering himself he arose and said, “I had no reason to kill John Albee. We had always been close friends and if there was any way to bring him back to life I would be only too glad even to give my own life for him. When it was said that I stood and waited for him to come down the stairs and then shot him it was a lie. It was that woman, that Mrs. John Albee, that was the cause of all the trouble. She has been to my home several times and made trouble. When I was living in Lockwood she came to my house to see her mother, who is my wife, got drunk and had trouble with a man named Miller. Some time ago she left her home in Cayuta and said she was going to Binghamton to see her daughter, who was sick, but she came to my house at Chemung, went over to the hotel and got drunk and the hotel keeper brought her to my house along in the night.”
     
    “She wants to get my home from me in Chemung which was deeded to me by Aunt Martha Rorick. That’s what the trouble was about that night. She has fixed it up with the Crispins to get hold of the place and sell it to them, for Crispin wants to buy it. I took Aunt Martha to keep for the place and she deeded it to me if I would keep her. She has been sick since I took her and I have had to pay doctor bills and in lifting her I got a bad hernia so that I now am not able to lift hardly anything. The night of the trouble she wanted me to let her take Aunt Martha and keep her and have the home where I live. She did not want to pay me anything for keeping Aunt Martha for two years and I have gone on and improved the place, hauled stone to lay a foundation and improve the house and I have set out fruit trees and done a lot of work about that place. She is the one who is responsible for all this trouble and she goes free.”
    OTHER TROUBLES 
     
    “Since I have been here in jail I have had other trouble. I had a fine horse that I was offered, $65 for just before I was brought here. The other night the man who was taking care of it for me tied it too long and it cast itself and lay there all night in the stall and a part of the next day. When the horse was found down it was so bruised and injured that it was sold for $10. Now they are trying to take my home from me, but I guess they can’t do that.”
     
    “I don’t blame that David Albee for anything. He is not just right. On that night when I went to the top of the stairs before the shooting he jumped from bed and I guess he would have punched out one of my eyes, if his father, John, had not got out of bed and stopped him. John pulled David off me. They said I was not upstairs, but they found my hat up there after it was all over. The district attorney found it and that proved that I was upstairs. Some of the others said I was not up there. If John Albee had come down stairs first there would have been no shooting, for he would have kept David off me, but David grabbed me and pulled my coat over my head. That’s the reason I did not see John or know the shot had struck him when the gun went off.  John would have stopped that fight if he had been down stairs before David. Let me tell you, David is responsible for his own condition now, so I don’t blame him.”
     
    “What about leaving whiskey alone, now that you are out of this trouble?” was asked Bentley.
     
    “I said that if I get out of this trouble whiskey will never bother me again. This has been enough.”
     
    Attorney Michael O’Connor, representing Bentley, was pleased when the grand jury reported no indictment against his client. “I was satisfied that when all the facts were told Mr. Bentley would be freed,” said Mr. O’Connor. “From the very first I was convinced that the unfortunate shooting was accidental.”
     
    Mr. Bentley this afternoon started for his home in Chemung to join his wife.  He intends to pay for keeping Mrs. Rorick during the time he has been in jail. Bentley will live at his Chemung home for a time at least.
     
    At no time has any formal charge been placed against Bentley who is now in his sixty-third year. Brought to this city from Chemung by Sheriff Hoke within a few hours after the shooting he has been held in the county jail on an open charge.

     
  10. If someone told you that you could go back in time to a day of your choice and change it, would you? 

    I asked one of my sisters that question and she immediately answered "No, I have no regrets".   "I'm not talking about regrets" I said, "Is there any one day or incident that you would change if you could"?  Her answer remained a firm "no".   

    For me one moment in particular came to mind, a snowy day in January, 1978.  "I would have left the laundry soap in the car" I told her.   "Regret is a waste of time" she said.  I didn't see it that way at the time but Sis was right, I was talking about regret.

    January, 1978, was a very snowy month and another storm had hit the area two or three days prior to that day so there was still a foot plus of snow on the ground. I was unloading the car after shopping for our second son's first birthday celebration.  Maintainence for the apartment complex where we living had still not cleared the sidewalks so I was being careful.  All bags were in the house except for the laundry soap.  

    "Leave it" my husband said, "I'll bring it up later".  

    I should have listened.

    While carrying that single bottle back to the apartment I slipped and fell.  I don't know what happened because I didn't feel anything.  There was enough snow to cushion my fall and all I was aware of was the loud pop I heard echo through the apartment buildings.  Evidently, that was the sound of breaking bones.  When I tried to get up I found I couldn't move.  I tried a couple of times but I just couldn't move and I didn't know why.  Luckily someone saw me fall and my struggle to move and the next thing I know Hubby's kneeling by me telling me not to move.  My ankle was shattered and the two bones above the ankle were broke.

    I can still see the faces of my two little boys watching from the bedroom window as I was loaded into the ambulance.  Their tears broke my heart.

    In the operating room they told me my toes were where my heel should have been.  I was in a cast up to my hip from January until July and then a cast from the knee down until September.  That was nothing compared to the fact that I missed my son's first birthday. 

    To add further insult to  injury, two weeks prior to the accident I had interviewed for a position as a nurse at the Elmira Psych Center.  The call that the position was mine came while I was in the hospital so I had to decline the offer.  

    Thinking about the four surgeries, bone grafts, many, many casts and knowing I have not had a pain free day in 40 years because of that accident I was positive.  "Yep, the laundry soap would have stayed in the car that day", that's the moment I would have changed.

    But then I started thinking about how my life and that of my family's might have been different if I changed that moment all those years ago. 

    Working at the Psych Center meant I wouldn't have taken the various jobs through the years working with several different lawyers, which in turn eventually led me to my last position as a Court Clerk.  I would have met and worked with different people.  I wouldn't have met my youngest son's wife who also worked at the same municipality.  If I hadn't met her my son wouldn't have either and we wouldn't have the two wonderful grandchildren they gave us including our only granddaughter. 

    So many little things that would have changed that I couldn't even realize or the effects those changes would cause.

    If I had been able to accept that position at the Psych Center I believe that eventually the home we bought would have been a different home.  Our boys would have grown up in a different neighborhood,  met different friends, probably worked at different jobs.  It's also possible my other sons may not have met the wonderful women they would eventually marry.   

    So many things probably would have changed, some minor but some could have been major and definitely life altering, possibly not at all positive.  Changes that could have been much worse than a few broken bones.

    The difficulties we have dealt with through the years resulting from that snowy January day have made us the family we are now.  My sons grew up seeing their father cooking, cleaning, doing dishes and laundry every time I was  recovering from another surgery or was in a cast.  He has always been and continues to be my helpmate.  To this day he's always concerned about me falling.  I'd like to believe that in some small way my sons are the caring, loving, hands on husbands and fathers they are because of the example set by their Dad through the years.

    I will admit to having many "why me" moments through the years and will probably have more of them in the years to come.  I try to keep to myself during those moments because I will admit to sometimes being a bit irritable.  Hubby always knows when I'm having a bad day.  On the plus side I always know when it's going to rain or snow and that can come in handy.  I have often joked that in a past life I was a very mean, unpleasant diva ballet dancer who is paying for her actions in this lifetime.  

    Was that day just a random accident or did things happen exactly the way they were supposed to happen?  A long time ago someone once told me that everything happens for a reason and I've come to believe that is true.  I was wrong when I told my sister I wasn't talking about regrets because that's exactly what I was feeling.  Regret for a choice I made on that long ago day and the consequences of that decision.  

    I will admit Sis had more wisdon than I did at that time.  Regrets are a waste of time and I now try not to let that emotion into my life.  Despite the daily aching joints and difficulty walking most days, I wouldn't change that day or any other.   All those days, moments and choices through the years have led me to where and who I am right this moment.  It may not be a perfect life but it has been and continues to be a good life shared with those I love most. 

    If offered the opportunity to go back in time and change any one day or moment of my choice my answer would also be a firm "no thank you". 

     Have you ever had one of those moments?  What would you do?

     

     

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