Welcome to the quickest way to learn the week’s most important local news.
1 – Justin Barkley pleads guilty to manslaughter before trial starts
Ithaca Wal-Mart shooter: Justin Barkley accepts manslaughter plea for 25 years in prison — Shortly after jurors were selected and before opening statements, the trial of Justin Barkley, who shot and ran over a man in the Ithaca Wal-Mart parking lot last year, paused. Barkley was charged with second-degree murder but on Thursday pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and menacing a police officer. He will be sentenced to 25 years in prison for the manslaughter charge, and eight for the menacing charge.
In December 2016, Barkley shot and ran over William Schumacher, of Candor. They did not know each other. In a court appearance after the homicide, Barkley told the judge he believed he shot Donald Trump.
2 – Endowment fund honors Dr. Marguerite Uphoff for her work in Tompkins schools
Endowment fund honors Dr. Marguerite Uphoff, 25-year medical director at Tompkins schools – When Dr. Uphoff was appointed medical director of the Ithaca City School District in 1992, school nurses conducted hundreds of physical exams each year because children had no other medical care. Though the checkups fulfilled requirements, Uphoff realized they were not helping children improve their health so Uphoff and school nurses launched a campaign to connect students with doctors in the community and showing families how to buy health insurance.
To honor Dr. Uphoff’s dedication and support for children and families in the community, nurses from the Ithaca City School District have created the Dr. Marguerite Uphoff Endowment Fund. The fund will support Community Foundation of Tompkins County’s Children and Youth Fund, which awards grants to nonprofit organizations that serve youth.
3 – Taste of Thai employees taken into ICE custody and charged with ‘immigration violations’
Few new details available regarding Tuesday arrests by ICE in downtown Ithaca — Two employees at Taste of Thai on the Ithaca Commons were reportedly taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Tuesday.
Khaalid Walls, regional director of communications for ICE, confirmed in an emailed statement Friday that two people were taken into custody from the Taste of Thai restaurant Tuesday and are still in custody. Walls said they are charged with “immigration violations” but declined to comment further.
4 – NLRB finds Cayuga Medical Center unlawfully fired two nurses in attempt to ‘rid itself of the union organizing drive’
NLRB finds Cayuga Medical Center unlawfully fired two nurses to ‘rid itself of the union organizing drive’ — The National Labor Relations Board has found Cayuga Medical Center unlawfully fired two nurses “in an effort to rid itself of the union organizing drive,” a decision released Tuesday states.
In its defense, CMC said it fired two Intensive Care Unit nurses — Anne Marshall and Loran Lamb — for violating blood transfusion policy and falsely documenting it. The complaint about the blood transfusion came from the patient. However, the nurses argued that the way they performed the transfusion and documented it was common practice and they were really targeted for their union activity.
5 – Affordable housing complex planned for West End
West End Heights: Tompkins, Ithaca investing big in 60-unit affordable housing project — A 60-unit affordable housing complex aimed at helping people with mental health needs, people experiencing homelessness, and people with low-income budgets is coming to fruition thanks to money invested from throughout Tompkins County.
West End Heights is a 60-unit facility that will be built at 709-713 W. Court St. and 326-328 N. Meadow St. in the City of Ithaca.
Ithaca Common Council unanimously voted to spend $150,000 to help fund the project. The vote comes after the Tompkins County Legislature also unanimously voted in December to provide $100,000.
6 – The Shop Cafe closes
Ithaca to lose local coffee spot, The Shop — The Shop, a cozy cafe near the Ithaca Commons known for great local tea and coffee — and for the tattoo parlor in the back — is closing its doors for good at the end of the week.
On Monday, The Shop announced it would close at the end of the week. To customers, they said “Thank you, truly for your support and love for The Shop Cafe.”
7 – Downtown Ithaca welcomes 2 new restaurants and expanded comic book shop
Downtown Ithaca: 2 new restaurants, expanded comic book shop — With ribbon cuttings last week, Ithaca welcomed two new restaurants —Bol Ithaca and Nikki Green — and celebrated the expansion of Comics for Collectors.
“As we look around downtown, we see growth and development happening everywhere. The level of investment … it’s amazing,” Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick said in a news release. “But the truth is, it doesn’t matter how many buildings we have if we don’t have a vibrant retail economy, if we don’t have small businesses that are willing to take a chance and invest in our city, then nothing else matters. We are extremely pleased that these businesses that we’re recognizing today chose to invest in this community.”
8 – City considers more flexible zoning and green building standards
City considers overlay zoning for ‘more flexible approach’ — At its first meeting of the year, the Ithaca Planning and Economic Development Committee discussed more flexible, controllable zoning, green building standards, and got an earful over controversial parts of the draft Parks Master Plan.
9 – Wild week for weather in Tompkins County
Flash freeze interrupts mid-winter warm front in Tompkins County — After weeks of frigid temperatures, Ithaca saw some relief with unseasonably warm weather near the end of the week. But the melting ice caused creeks to swell and Tompkins saw flooding in places. Ice jams were also a big cause for concern. But over the weekend everything froze again, with rain turning to ice and several inches of snow.
Looking ahead this week, the weather looks a little more stable with some snow expected Tuesday.
10 – Tompkins Legislature chair calls President Trump’s comments ‘not normal’ and ‘un-American’
Tompkins County calls Trump’s statements ‘not normal’ and ‘un-American’ — Tompkins County has joined the international anger, condemning President Donald Trump’s language used during a meeting Thursday, in which he reportedly called African nations “shithole countries.”
Tompkins County Legislature Chair Martha Robertson issued a statement Friday on behalf of Tompkins County government. She writes, “I want to express in the strongest possible terms our outrage at President Donald Trump’s racist statements yesterday toward the Haitian people and all of Africa.”
Featured image: Ducks perch on ice in Cascadilla Creek as creeks melted last week. Alyvia Covert/Ithaca Voice