Welcome to the quickest way to learn the week’s most important local news.
1 – With the help of Cornell student, former Afghan interpreter seeks safety in U.S.
Former Afghan interpreter hopes to find sanctuary in U.S. with help of Cornell student — Every day is dangerous for Muhammad, a former Afghan interpreter for U.S. military on the Taliban’s “kill list.” He is holding out hope he will be able to start a new life in the U.S., and with the advocacy of a woman in Ithaca, he may find a way out.
Muhammad worked with the U.S. military for about a decade before he fled Afghanistan to hide in Pakistan with his wife and daughters. By chance, he connected with a Ph.D. student at Cornell University, Kristy Perano. For months, she has been fighting to find a way out of Pakistan for Muhammad. She met Muhammad at a point when he was almost ready to give up after being denied entry to the U.S. as a refugee twice.
2 – Ride-hailing services scheduled to begin trial period in Ithaca
Uber, Lyft scheduled to hit Ithaca roads as soon as Friday, legislators hear final arguments – Nearly a dozen community members gathered before local legislators during a committee meeting on Monday morning, each bringing their own argument for or against ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, which are slated to move into Ithaca as early as this Friday.
The Senate and Assembly approved a bill earlier this month, allowing ride-hailing services to begin their services in Upstate New York by June 29. While transportation methods like Uber and Lyft are scheduled to start by the end of the week, their soon-to-be presence is still met with controversy.
3 – Tompkins County residents impacted by 4 fatal heroin overdoses
4 heroin overdose deaths reported near Tompkins County, local residents impacted – At least four suspected heroin overdose deaths have been reported near Johnson City and Elmira this week, and the deaths appear to be closely associated to people in or from Tompkins County.
The Johnson City Police Department stated that there were four overdoses in 10 hours on June 24, three of which were fatal. At least one other person is believed to have died from an overdose since police released the warning.
4 – Namgyal Monastery sets expansion into action
Namgyal moves forward with monastery expansion in town of Ithaca — One of Ithaca’s more unusual assets will be expanding its presence this summer. Namgyal Monastery will be adding dorms and apartments at its Tibet Drive home in the Town of Ithaca.
According to a filing with the county, the dorms will be designed to house 40 students, and the apartments, which are a separate building, will host 18 beds. Tompkins Trust Company is lending Namgyal $500,000 in a construction loan to finance the build-out.
5 – Ithaca police prepared to set LEAD program in motion
Police prepared to begin Ithaca LEAD program with help of city resources – Harm reduction has been one of Ithaca’s recent buzzwords on the topic of addiction treatment, and the Ithaca Police Department is making moves to integrate the concept into their work, too.
In a Community Police Board meeting at City Hall on Wednesday afternoon, Officer Mary Orsaio and Sgt. Kevin Slattery presented IPD’s new harm reduction program proposal – the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program.
Orsaio explained that LEAD was developed as a harm reduction based program aimed to keep low-level offenders out of the criminal justice system.
6 – Cayuga Medical Center investigates odd billing statement issue
Cayuga Medical Center’s bill link could send people to nurse unionization page — Cayuga Medical Center is investigating an odd issue tied to its billing statements. A link on their bills, if typed slightly differently, is sending people to the Facebook page for nurse unionization efforts at the hospital.
7 – Former Sheriff’s deputy released on bail 4 days after sentencing
Former Tompkins County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremy Vann to be released on bail 4 days after sentencing — Four days after his sentencing, former Tompkins County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremy Vann was scheduled to be released from jail after the appellate court granted an application for his release late Thursday morning.
Vann’s attorney, Ray Schlather said he submitted a stay judgment appeal to the third-division appellate court on Monday after Vann received a 30-day jail sentence with a three-year probation period. Schlather said the court considered the matter, granted the application for release, and set Vann’s bail at $10,000 cash until further determination on his appeal.
8 – ‘Pay it Forward’ progam launches to help community members in need
Ithaca ‘pay it forward’ program aims to help homeless and curb panhandling — Notice the red boxes on the Ithaca Commons lately? Dropping in a dollar will help people in need with food and other basic necessities. The boxes are part of a new program meant to curb panhandling and help community members who are homeless or in need.
The red donation boxes have popped up on the Ithaca Commons this week and read “Pay it Forward” with a slot to drop in a donation. In the past year or two, concerns have been mounting about panhandlers on the Commons, Gary Ferguson, executive director of the Downtown Ithaca Alliance, said. The concerns have come from businesses and locals.
9 – Finger Lakes PULSE wraps up Pride month
Finger Lakes PULSE on LGBTQ+ community, visibility, and action — As Pride month comes to an end, one LGBTQ+ organization is just getting started.
Finger Lakes PULSE, which was founded by eight friends after the most recent presidential election, is an advocacy-oriented organization to support the LGBTQ+ community in the Finger Lakes area.
10 – Ithaca Commons fountain returns, barricaded by flowers
It’s back! Ithaca Commons fountain returns with flower barricade —The fountain on the Ithaca Commons is flowing again and is now enclosed by flower planters.
Last week, the new fountain was shut down by order of the Tompkins County Health Department due to health concerns. After coming to an agreement in the form of planters and a sign, the fountain is back on.