New York state briefs

Staff reports

Auditor says 'no' to sympathy cards but school will continue to send them

ALMOND – Sending sympathy cards to grieving families and honoring four-year athletes with trophies is apparently a no-no for school districts.

The Alfred-Almond school board discussed a pair of claim denials by a BOCES auditor at its meeting Wednesday night. Board President Earl Pierce said one of the claims denied were for the purchase of sympathy cards typically sent when a faculty or staff member has a death in the family.

“We’ve always sent a card acknowledging the staff member is going through a difficult time and offering our condolences,” Pierce said, adding the auditor said that is technically “gifting of taxpayer resources.”

The board has decided to continue the practice, he said.

“We feel this is an appropriate thing to do,” Pierce said, “and we feel the community would approve as well.”

The other denial stemmed from the traditional practice of giving four-year athletes a trophy signifying that at the final athletic awards banquet of the year, in the students’ senior year. Because the students are given the trophies, Pierce said the auditor stated that also was gifting of taxpayer funds.

Pierce said the board has a different interpretation of the trophies, saying athletics are an important part of students’ education, adding that opinion is in line with continuing to provide trophies to the students. “We are acting as we believe our community would like us to.”

The board will send a letter to the auditor providing authorization for the purchases, which Pierce said would most likely lead to those expenses being approved.

“But, it will be noted as a special circumstance,” he said.

Documentary wins New York Emmy

PENFIELD — Tony Machi’s work has paid off.

Machi, a Penfield resident and the man behind Machi & Machi Communications, was presented a  state Emmy award on Sunday for his work on the documentary “Albert Paley: In Search of the Sentinel.”

Machi wrote, produced and directed the film. He picked up the awarded at a ceremony in the Broadway Ballroom of the Marriott Marquis in New York City on April 6.

A rebroadcast of the documentary, which highlights the life of Albert Paley, a metal sculptor, is scheduled for 9 p.m., Wednesday, April 16 on WXXI-DT 21.3 or cable Channel 433.

Alfred College student dies

ALFRED –  An Alfred State College student died Friday after being hospitalized Thursday.

Anthony Carino, 22, of Poughquag, who was a senior in ASC’s four-year Architectural Engineering Technology program, died at Highland Hospital in Rochester Friday. He fell ill Thursday and was transported to St. James Mercy Hospital in Hornell, then on to Highland.

College spokesperson Cindy Santora said the college’s health services people have been in contact with several state health agencies to determine if Carino’s death was caused by anything that could be contagious. They don't believe it is.

“We want to allay any fears there is not any contagious aspect here,” Santora said, adding health officials were told Carino’s death was not caused by meningitis, which was one rumor circulating campus.

The hospital has not released any cause of death yet, she said.

The college kept students, faculty and staff updated on the situation on its Web site, where numerous postings have been listed since Friday. President John Anderson said Mr. Carino "was a good friend to many students, faculty and staff at the college and will truly be missed."

Anyone with health questions is encouraged to call (607) 587-4200.

Calling hours took place Tuesday and Wednesday at the McHoul Funeral Home Inc. in Hopewell Junction, and a Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at 10 a.m. today at St. Denis Church in Hopewell Junction.

Rochester jazz fest to feature Sinatra Jr.

ROCHESTER – Frank Sinatra Jr. and Dee Dee Bridgewater will join 800 other jazz musicians and singers performing at this year’s Rochester International Jazz Festival.

The seventh annual, nine-day festival opens June 13 with a “Sinatra Sings Sinatra” concert at the Eastman Theater, followed the next night by Bridgewater — a two-time Grammy winner — and alternative-country rockers Cross-Canadian Ragweed.

The festival, which drew more than 120,000 people last year, will feature 250 performances ranging from formal concerts to free street gigs, including such headliners as Al Green, Boz Scaggs and Dizzy Gillespie’s daughter, Jeanie Bryson.

Free venues include a stage at East Avenue and Chestnut Street, another at East Avenue and Alexander Street, and another on Gibbs Street, all in downtown Rochester.

Visit for more information, or to access a complete lineup of artists for the festival.

Fee shock in one town

GATES — Landowners, residents and  developers in Gates should be aware that it costs more for permits and other applications — in one case, by 400 percent.

The Town Board adopted new fees with a 4-1 vote last month, with Councilman Mark McIntee voting against the hike.

More than a dozen fee hikes include those for a certificate of occupancy, a swimming-pool permit and various fees related to Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals review and permit procedures.

Certificate of occupancies for residential homes is increasing 400 percent, from $40 to $200. Commercial certificate of occupancies is increasing 366 percent, from $75 to $350.

Supervisor Ralph Esposito said, “It is a large increase and with good reason. The philosophy of government is to try to reduce real property taxes at any opportunity. With user fees, if you use a service, you pay for that service.”

Of the town’s $14 million budget, Esposito said, $9 million is raised by taxes. The remaining $5 million is raised by grants, contracts and user fees, he added. In 2008, the town anticipates earning $50,000 in town clerk fees, $200,000 in recreation fees and $8,000 in Planning Board fees.

School-board watchdogs call it a day

GREECE — “HMO” is over, come July.

Two of the three Greece Board of Education members who make up that slate – Charlie Hubbard and Frank Oberg — will step down then. Joe Moscato has not said if he will seek re-election.

The three men won their seats in 2005 on a platform of change, charging that the board was too close to the administration, the district and board too secretive and that Greece Central was a workplace rife with intimidation.

The HMO ticket was endorsed by the citizen watchdog group Citizens

for Accountability and Reform in Education, or CARE. Critics have said the three men are divisive and focus too much on taxes and too little on education. Hubbard and Oberg contend they did what they were elected to do.

"I'm quite content with the fact that we've kept our promises that we made when we ran,” Oberg said.

Arguably the biggest decision made by the board during their terms was to put former Superintendent Meg Keller-Cogan on paid leave while the district was investigated for employee discrimination. The board then subsequently accepted her resignation.

Hubbard is particularly proud of “getting rid of Keller-Cogan.” It “had to be done,” he said.