Compiled By Ethan Shantie
March 7, 2014
District Attorney Mary Rain and her assistants will have more time on their hands to tackle other cases now that she has said she wants the police to be able to prosecute their own traffic tickets. Rain has sent out a letter to the local courts to officially authorize the police that right, but that will extend basically to minor infractions. More serious cases, such as impaired driving tickets and arrests, will still be under the eye of the DA. There has been some concern raised, considering many officers don’t currently have the necessary training to prosecute in court, but Massena police Chief Timmy Currier is on board, saying that his office is prepared to handle it.
As Massena clocked a recording low temperature for this time of year Thursday morning at -20 degrees, Mayor James Hidy is reminding residents to leave their faucets running so that their pipes don’t freeze and burst. Just a trickle should be sufficient, and not doing so could have expensive consequences. Hidy has also said that he’s going to wait before he votes on an agreement which would allow village firefighters to perform fire inspections in the town as well. The proposition would send firefighters to perform routine inspections in the town of Massena, with fees being paid directly to the village. Hidy has said that he wants to seek the guidance of the fire committee before he signs off on the inter-municipal agreement.
The Hannawa Falls teen who was jailed last month after violating the probation he faced when he brought a gun to Colton-Pierrepont Central School has gotten off relatively light. Sawyer Pignona has taken a plea deal with the district attorney’s office, which dictates that he will be restarting his interim probation. Pignona is said to have violated his probation by endangering the welfare of a child, and stayed behind bars until Thursday. While before Judge Richards, Pignona was scolded and ultimately received a mandatory curfew and will face evaluations for chemical dependency.
Investigation into the deadly explosion of train cargo at Lac-Megantic continues. Officials say they have found that the cargo was not accurately labeled; their report says that the hazard level of the shipment was “not accurately documented,” and that its volatility was comparable to that of a condensate or gasoline product.” The explosion at Lac Megantic left 47 people dead.
North Country Assembly Republicans say that even more reforms are necessary when it comes to the common core. This week, Assembly members voted and passed measures that will change the testing components of the Common Core. Ken Blankenbush said that the legislation passed will prohibit the use of student data by third parties, but more importantly, encourage further teacher and professional training. They are touting the benefits of their Achieving Pupil Preparedness and Launching Excellence, or APPLE Plan, which Republicans say was developed after sitting through nearly a dozen public hearings.
A Potsdam woman is facing a number of charges after police investigated an incident that occurred at the end of last year. They say that 23 year old Stephanie Volz was being disorderly past midnight just before the turn of the New Year, and was found to be in possession of a controlled substance. Volz is facing three disorderly conduct charges, including obscene languages and gestures, unreasonable noise, and violent behavior, in addition to the criminal possession charge. She’ll be in court today.
Two Massena teenagers have been charged by state police. Troopers say that 16 year old Andrew Northrup gave troopers a false name and false date of birth when he and 18 year old Joseph Mitchell were charged with the unlawful possession of marijuana. Mitchelle is facing a charge of obstruction of governmental administration, as well, because Police said that he knew that his friend provided false information. Police were at the home to pick up Northrup on a warrant. He was sent to county jail on 250 dollars bail for the false personation charge. Mitchell was also held on 250 dollars bail.
The Massena Board of Education wants the administration to find out how they can close a four million dollar gap in their budget. Their current revenue sits at around 44 million dollars, which a projected expense list this year clocking in at 48.9 million dollars, which includes increases in health insurance costs and contractual obligations. The Finance Committee Chairman said that the removal of the Gap Elimination Adjustment would help substantially, giving them back about a half a million dollars. There is also talk of restoring Foundation Aid, reducing staff numbers, and programs.
Local non-profits who serve the developmentally disabled are encouraging the state to increase their funding so they can give their employees a much needed raise. NYSARC workers have not received cost of living increases in five straight years, and now the organization is pushing for a three percent raise to their wages. The Cerebral Palsy Association of the North Country is experiencing similar hardships, including cutbacks which make the low paid jobs even harder to cope with.