Welcome to the quickest way to learn the week’s most important local news.
1 – Bike share program rolls out
New bike share program officially hits Ithaca streets — Ithaca’s new dockless bike share program rolled out last week. Anyone traveling in the City of Ithaca has likely seen the lime green bikes around town by now.
Bike Walk Tompkins and the City of Ithaca partnered with LimeBike to bring the program to Ithaca. Unlike some bike share programs, these bikes will not have to be fastened to a docking station. The bikes can be rented on a per-ride basis for $1 per ride, or less for students. Users can unlock the bikes using a smartphone app.
2 – Tompkins fires Office of Human Rights director
Tompkins opts to dismiss Human Rights Director Karen Baer — Tompkins County Administrator Jason Molino has decided to dismiss Karen Baer, director of the Office of Human Rights, effective immediately.
Molino’s determination was sent to Baer on Monday. In a letter to Baer, which The Ithaca Voice acquired through a freedom of information request, Molino said he chose to terminate Baer because of her failure to participate in an official investigation, lack of accountability and failure to follow directives.
In October 2017, Baer was suspended from her position and charged with not fulfilling her duties as director and creating a dysfunctional environment after refusing to participate in an investigation into claims she made. For more information on the events leading up to the charges, read this. A summary from the hearing is here.
3 – Expelled Cornell student sentenced after forging way into universities
Former Cornell student sentenced for student loan fraud after forging way into universities — A former Cornell University student was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay back thousands in restitution to Cornell after committing student loan fraud and forging her way into several universities.
Cavya Chandra, 26, of Carmel, Indiana, was sentenced Monday in federal court in Syracuse. She pleaded guilty in October to fraudulently accepting federal student loan money while attending Cornell.
Chandra admitted to gaining admission to and attending three universities, including Cornell, Carnegie Mellon and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, between 2008 and 2014 by forging documents, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The forged documents included inflated academic transcripts and letters of recommendation.
4 – Changes to Tiny Timbers plan
Revised Tiny Timbers plan seeks Lansing town’s approval — As plans for the Lansing Town Center slowly come together, the second project announced, Tiny Timber’s for-sale homes, appear ready to move forward.
At last report in July 2017, the plan was for up to 60 new for-sale homes in the $175,000-$225,000 range. Since then, the plans have shrunk in size somewhat, though the plan still calls for mid-market for-sale housing.
The latest submission for “The Cottages At Lansing Center,” as it’s now being called, would construct 36 houses on 12.47 acres, to be in two phases (18 homes each) over a two-year period. Project costs are estimated to be approximately $7 million.
5 – 2 Lansing men charged with home invasion
Two Lansing men charged in connection with Dryden home invasion — Police have arrested two men from Lansing in connection with an early morning home robbery Wednesday in Dryden.
New York State Police at Ithaca arrested Kevin P. Chambliss, 32, and Henry J. Moreno, 28, on charges of first-degree burglary, first-degree kidnapping and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Chambliss was also charged with first-degree criminal sexual act.
6 – IHS goes on lockdown over ‘suspicious incident’
Police investigate ‘suspicious incident’ at IHS after lockdown — Ithaca High School went on lockdown Thursday morning after reports of a suspicious incident, police say.
Ithaca Police Public Information Officer Jamie Williamson said IPD responded to the high school at 9:37 a.m. Students were on lockdown for over an hour until it was lifted just before 10:45 a.m. Police have not said what caused the lockdown, but students were told there was no credible threat.
The Ithaca City School District has not responded to multiple requests for comment for more information.
7 — Firefighters extinguish large barn fire in Caroline
Caroline barn engulfed in flames, firefighters on scene for more than eight hours — After more than eight hours on the scene, firefighters quenched the flames that engulfed a barn in Caroline on Wednesday morning.
Firefighters responded to the scene at Seventy Six Road at 9:18 a.m. Doug Keefe, Fire Chief of the Speedsville Volunteer Fire Company said while the cause is still unknown, it was likely an electrical issue.
8 – EpiPens are in short supply locally
EpiPens are in short supply at Ithaca, regional pharmacies — Wegmans, Tops and other local pharmacies are out or running low on EpiPens, a drug used to treat people with life-threatening allergic reactions.
Despite local pharmacies in Ithaca, Syracuse and Buffalo reporting shortages of EpiPens, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said there is no widespread shortage. The cause of the local shortage is unclear.
However, the drug does appear to be coming back in stock. In an update late last week, a spokesperson for Wegmans said they were back in stock and expecting more shipments.
9 – Hundreds march in Ithaca for Take Back the Night
Take Back the Night: 1,300 people in Tompkins sought help for domestic and sexual violence in 2017 — Survivors of domestic and sexual violence and allies took to Ithaca’s streets Friday for Take Back the Night, an annual international event that puts the spotlight on domestic and sexual violence.
Last year, the Advocacy Center provided support to nearly 1,300 youth and adults in Tompkins County impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault, rape or child sexual abuse.
Hundreds of people marched to the Ithaca Commons. Some came from Cornell University, some from Ithaca College and another large group that left from the Greater Ithaca Activities Center. They met at the Bernie Milton Pavilion for a rally, where speakers talked about their experiences, and shared music and poetry.
Watch video coverage by Jacob Mroczek below.
10 – Feeding Tompkins series concludes with look at policies, plans and solutions
Feeding Tompkins Part 8: Solutions, policy and progress in food security — On Thursday’s gray morning, Friendship Donations Network volunteer Joni Spielholz walked into GreenStar in Collegetown, where she was greeted as a familiar face. She was led back to a refrigerated area where a box labeled “Donations” was ready for her to grab and add to her trunk that would slowly be filled with rescued food that won’t go to waste.
It’s estimated that one third of food produced in the U.S., about 133 billion pounds, goes to waste, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The amount of food waste is striking when so many communities like Tompkins County struggle with food insecurity. Rescuing food that would otherwise end up in landfill is one solution taking place daily behind grocery stores and other organizations in Tompkins County.
In this last installment, we examined what solutions are taking place or in the works in Tompkins County and looked to other communities to see how they are addressing food insecurity.
The Feeding Tompkins series has been a collaboration between WRFI News, the Ithaca College Park Scholar Program, The Ithaca Voice and Hot Potato Press.