New York state briefs

Staff reports

DA to look into recent termination of Corning police officer

CORNING – The Steuben County District Attorney's office has been asked to look into circumstances that led to the recent firing of a veteran Corning police officer.

Former Officer Jason Dininny was terminated Jan. 15 for misconduct, City Manager Mark Ryckman said Monday.

“The matter that led to his termination has been referred to the Steuben County District Attorney's office,” Ryckman said.

Ryckman said he could not provide further details because the incident is a personnel matter and possibly involves an investigation.

Because of the Dr. Martin Luther King holiday Monday, no one could be reached for comment in the district attorney's office. An attempt to reach Dininny at home was unsuccessful.

Dininny recently served as president of the Crystal City Police Benevolent Association, the union that represents city police officers. He joined the Corning department in April 2001.

Prior to joining Corning's force, Dininny was a Hornell City Police officer. In March 2001, he and another officer were cleared of any wrongdoing by a grand jury for fatally shooting Gary Baker, 41, in his Hornell home.

The officers opened fire when Baker lunged at them with a knife after fatally stabbing his estranged wife. The grand jury ruled the shooting was justified.

State recognizes scholars program

UTICA – The Young Scholars Liberty Partnerships Program of Utica College was recognized by the state Education Department to the Board of Regents as an exemplary program, college officials said.

The success of the Young Scholars partnership with Utica City School District students in grades 7 through 12 was shown as an example of what these partnerships can achieve, college officials said.

Student participants had a 96 percent high school graduation rate from 1999 to 2005, school officials said. More than 76 percent of those students enrolled in college.

School pep band to be featured in commercial

WELLSVILLE - The Pride Rock Pep Band can usually be seen playing at home basketball games, pep rallies and sometimes at games elsewhere. In February and possibly March, you’ll be able to see them on TV as well.

The band will be featured in a commercial for the Basil Automotive Group. Ray Stoklosa, marketing director for Basil, the Wellsville dealership and which a few others in the Buffalo area and Chautauqua County, filmed the commercial. The commercial ended with the band shouting, “Just great deals!”

Band Director Casey Vanderstouw said the filming was done Friday in the high school gym. The students were able to wear their customary orange wigs and perform music they had arranged and practiced for months.

“There was no written music,” Vanderstouw said. “We had to take the jingle and apply it to all the instruments in the band," he said.

Vanderstouw said with over 50 musicians, the band is fairly large this year. It includes students in grades seven through 12.

St. E’s school joins pilot project

UTICA – St. Elizabeth College of Nursing is one of five schools invited to participate in a pilot project that uses nursing experiences to promote critical thinking among nursing students, school officials said.

The school was invited to participate by a nursing professor at Indiana State University, officials said. Marian Kovatchitch, dean of academic affairs at St. Elizabeth College of Nursing, will serve as the director.

Faculty will regularly participate in teleconferences to discuss their efforts and experiences with other participants, officials said.

For the love of art – and seniors

GATES — Fifty-feet of construction paper, paint brushes and acrylic paints, that’s how Dawn Steffenilla expresses her love for the seniors who meet at Town Hall year round. She has been covering one wall with her artwork for five years now, and the scene changes several times a year.

“This one will come down mid-March,” she said. “I’ll tear it down and throw it out. Then I’ll do one in March that will stay up through September. It’s going to be something springy, something flowery and bright. I never really know what I’m going to do until I start on that wall. ... It just comes.”

For this winter’s mural, she opted for a simpler design than she has in the past – at least it looks simple from afar. A closer look at palm-sized snowflakes covering the dark colored construction paper shows each one is actually a small snow angel. She enlists help to cover the entire wall with construction paper, and then she paints, using just a sponge.

“I love them to death, you know,” she said of the seniors, “and you know what? They can feel it. They know.”

Jennie Montesano of Gates said she enjoys Steffenilla’s winter murals the best. Rita Schneider said the murals give the room atmosphere.

“It changes with the season, and boy there’s some beautiful stuff up there,” said her husband, Herb Schneider.

DOT will work at night — quietly

BRIGHTON — It took a little negotiation, but Brighton and the state Department of Transportation are now playing nice.

An agreement reached last week means the state will be allowed to perform nighttime road maintenance along Interstate 490 from South Landing Road in Brighton to Route 31F in Pittsford. The state hit the brakes on the project after residents in the Kirk-Aster neighborhood

complained about the night work, which DOT representatives said was required so that daytime traffic wouldn’t be disrupted.

As a result of communications between Supervisor Sandra Frankel, DOT Regional Director Kevin O’Buckley and Jim Weller, a spokesman for the residents, the town will allow the state to do the work at night, which could take up to 10 evenings. Once the road is paved, noise levels should quiet, Frankel said. Construction could start in the spring.

The DOT won’t use vibratory equipment that could potentially damage nearby homes and cause loud noise. The state will perform pre- and post-construction noise level testing to determine the impact of the construction and state officials will survey area homes before construction, providing photographs and information in the case that damage to property does occur.