Driver arrested after car crashes into Famous Footwear store in Auburn
An Auburn man was arrested Tuesday night after crashing his car into the Famous Footwear store in Auburn, police said.
Joshua LaClair, 31, of 19 Frazee St., was charged with second-degree unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, a misdemeanor, and leaving the scene of an accident, a violation.
Auburn Deputy Police Chief Roger Anthony said police responded to the accident at 9:13 p.m. Upon arrival, officers discovered LaClair had crashed his four-door Pontiac sedan into the store at 217 Grant Ave. No one was injured.
The Auburn Fire Department, Auburn City Ambulance and Auburn Code Enforcement Office were also called to the scene. Assistant Fire Chief Bill DiFabio said approximately 30 feet of the storefront was taken out in the crash. However, he said there did not appear to be any structural damage to the building.
Following the crash, Anthony said LaClair fled the scene on foot, leaving an adult female passenger in the car. LaClair was located a short time later and taken to Cayuga County Jail on a violation of probation bench warrant out of Auburn City Court.
LaClair was convicted of third-degree grand larceny, third-degree welfare fraud and misuse of food stamps in 2012 and sentenced to four months of weekends in jail and five years probation. Anthony said LaClair's license had also been suspended for driving while ability impaired and failure to pay a fine. Although the cause of the crash was unclear, the deputy chief said there was no evidence of intoxication Tuesday night.
LaClair was issued an appearance ticket and told to appear in court Feb. 23.
Newest NY casino: Resorts World Catskills opens in Sullivan County
The newest casino in New York, a $1.2 billion project in the Catskills, opened its doors Thursday.
Resorts World Casino & Resort is the fourth state-approved casino to open since December 2016. There are three other commercial, non-Indian casinos in New York: del Lago Resort & Casino in Tyre, Seneca County; Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady; and Tioga Downs Casino in Nichols, Tioga County.
The project was spearheaded by Empire Resorts, which also operates Monticello Casino & Raceway in Sullivan County.
"Today marks an exciting new era for us," said Ryan Eller, president and CEO of Empire Resorts.
The casino's 100,000-square-foot gaming floor has 2,151 slot machines, 150 table games and a poker room. There is 27,000 square feet of entertainment and meeting space at the venue.
There are a handful of dining options for customers. Cellaio, a restaurant operated by celebrity chef Scott Conant, will offer an Italian-style steakhouse menu. Two Asian restaurants are located within the casino: Good Friends Market, which will offer Asian "grab-and-go" cuisine, and Lotus, a more upscale restaurant.
Bar 360, Empire Lounge and The Doubletop Bar and Grill round out the casino's restaurant lineup.
Resorts World Catskills has a hotel with 336 all-suite rooms. Another hotel with 324 rooms, an indoor water park and spa will open next year. A renovated golf course will be part of the final project.
The casino has 1,500 employees and will add 600 more when the entertainment venue, golf course and water park open next year.
"Resorts World Casino will be a destination with a variety of gaming, entertainment and dining options for tourists near and far that will boost the region and the entire state," said Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who attended the grand opening ceremony Thursday.
Resorts World opens as there are questions about the long-term viability of the non-Indian casinos in New York. Del Lago, which opened in the Finger Lakes region last year, fell $100 million short of its revenue projections. Rivers and Tioga Downs also didn't meet revenue projections outlined in their gaming license applications.
But officials are optimistic about the fate of Resorts World. State Sen. John Bonacic, who represents the Catskills, called the opening of the casino "an exciting new chapter" for the region.
"Resorts World Catskills' casino resort campus is a true destination that will deliver untold opportunities for the Catskills and we're incredibly optimistic for its future," he said.
Auburn High School boys basketball player removed from team
AUBURN — The Auburn boys basketball team may be without one of its leading scorers after senior Majesty Wilder was removed from the team Tuesday.
Al Brown, Wilder's stepfather, said the senior was one of three students in a bathroom when a teacher said he saw a cloud of vapor from an electronic smoking device Tuesday morning. Wilder was later given an in-school suspension and was told he was off the team for violating the school's code of conduct.
Wilder told his father that he was just using the restroom and wasn't vaping. Based on that and his understanding of past circumstances involving athletes who escaped punishment for alleged conduct violations, Brown believes his son is being treated unfairly.
"My son can't even talk right now," Brown said in a phone interview Thursday. "My son is a one-sport student, which is basketball — his love — and they're taking it away from him because allegedly there was vape smoke coming from his direction."
Brown said he's aware of another recent incident in which two basketball players had posted photographs online of a party where there was alcohol — another violation to the code of conduct — but the players weren't removed from the team. He said the district has told him those players said they quickly left the party upon discovering that alcohol was being consumed, so they were not in violation of the conduct code.
Brown doesn't believe the two situations should have been handled differently.
"Majesty is allegedly involved in a situation with no tolerance. ... It was proven that other basketball players were in no-tolerance situations and they weren't treated the same as Majesty," Brown said.
Brown said he also learned that another basketball player had told Wilder about escaping punishment after being caught vaping earlier in the year. Brown brought this to the attention of the district, he said.
On Friday, district Superintendent Jeff Pirozzolo confirmed that Brown brought information to their attention and that the district is continuing the investigation into the incident.
The superintendent said that he could not comment on specifics of situations involving individual students, but emphasized that the district must be consistent with its enforcement of the conduct code.
"We're here for all children and we have to treat all children the same," the superintendent said. "They all fall under the same code of conduct."
Brown ultimately wants his stepson reinstated on the team, which is scheduled to start sectional playoff competition next week. Because he was removed from the team, Wilder was unable to play in Auburn's senior night home game on Thursday.
Wilder, who is originally from Auburn but lived in North Carolina since he was a freshman, moved back to Auburn for his senior season. He was second on the Maroons with 347 points this season going into Thursday night's contest.
"Him and his mother moved to North Carolina a few years ago, but he begged to come back so he could play his senior year with the guys he grew up with," Brown said.
Auburn resident surrenders after threatening to harm self, police
An Auburn resident surrendered to police without incident early Tuesday after calling the Department of Veterans Affairs' crisis hotline and threatening to harm themselves, the public and police if anyone responded, the Auburn Police Department said.
Auburn police officers responded at approximately 11:30 p.m. Monday to a report of a suicidal subject in the Prospect Street area of the city, according to a news release. The Auburn Police Department activated its emergency response and hostage negotiation teams. The Cayuga County Sheriff's Office and New York State Police assisted with the response.
Initial attempts to contact the individual, whose name and address were withheld by police, were unsuccessful.
After more than two hours of trying to contact the subject inside the residence, Auburn police negotiators were able to communicate with the individual by telephone. The subject exited the residence and was taken into custody for treatment and a mental health evaluation, police said.
Police found numerous loaded weapons and magazines inside the home. The subject had threatened to harm themselves, law enforcement and the public with guns and "electronic counter measures," according to police.
Deputy Chief Roger Anthony said Tuesday that he does not foresee any charges being made against the individual as all the weapons were legally obtained.
"These situations are very difficult because of mental health issues," Anthony said. "Threats have to be readily capable of being carried out, not just stated. The individual didn't make any attempt to carry them out and they weren't made directly to us, they were made to a third party."
The investigation is ongoing. Auburn police said in order to protect the subject involved, no names or an exact address of the residence will be released, unless charges are brought against the subject.
Fact check: Did Schumer, like Trump, call for a military parade in 2014?
President Donald Trump wants a military parade. He wants an event that will showcase the strength of the United States armed forces.
But is Trump's idea of a "military parade" similar to the idea floated by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in 2014? A few conservative media outlets would have you believe that's the case.
The Daily Caller and other conservative news websites claimed Schumer, D-N.Y., called for a military parade four years ago. The Daily Caller's story leads with the paragraph, "Democrats attacked President Donald Trump for wanting a military parade this week, even though Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer called for his own military parade back in 2014."
Is it true that Schumer wanted a military parade in 2014? It's important to know the facts, which are overlooked in the Daily Caller story.
Schumer's parade proposal
In April 2014, Schumer held a press conference to announce his proposal to hold a parade honoring Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans in New York City's "Canyon of Heroes," which hosted similar parades honoring Korean and Gulf War veterans in the 1990s.
New York City also hosted a victory parade after World War II.
A press release available on Schumer's website details his plan for a parade to honor Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans.
"With the war in Afghanistan winding down, now is the time to keep with longstanding American tradition and kick off a campaign for the first New York City welcome home parade for troops that served in Iraq and Afghanistan," Schumer said in a statement. "In years past, we've honored our troops with a parade along the iconic 'Canyon of Heroes' route and those who served in these post-9/11 wars also deserve a hero's welcome — and New York is the only place to do that."
Schumer's proposal received support from veterans groups, including Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and the United War Veterans Council of New York.
The announcement in 2014 was part of Schumer's push to encourage the Department of Defense to partner with New York City to plan the event. A parade was suggested in 2012, but defense officials said it was too early because military operations in Afghanistan weren't complete.
Schumer's office said if the Department of Defense participated in a parade, the agency would provide "joint military color guards, military bands, troop formations, equipment and flyovers."
What Trump wants
The Washington Post first reported about plans for a military parade. An anonymous source quoted in the story said, "The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France."
The event Trump is referring to is the Bastille Day military parade. The French parade is held July 14. Thousands of soldiers march in the parade, which also features military vehicles, helicopters and other equipment.
Trump attended the Bastille Day parade last year. In an exchange with reporters two months after the parade, he called it "one of the greatest parades I've ever seen."
"It was two hours on the button, and it was military might, and I think a tremendous thing for France and for the spirit of France," he said.
Plans are in the works for a military parade in Washington later this year, according to the Washington Post story. Specifics about the event are unknown, but it could feature military equipment — tanks, helicopters and more — and personnel.
Based on what has been reported by multiple media outlets, Trump views a parade as an opportunity to showcase America's own military might.
It is true that Trump wants a military parade. It's also true that Schumer, in 2014, wanted a military parade. But what's left out of the conservative media reports is why Schumer proposed a parade, and how it would differ from Trump's idea.
Schumer wanted a parade to honor veterans who served in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. He suggested a ticker-tape parade similar to those held in honor of veterans who served in past wars. The Daily Caller and other outlets buried those details in their reports or didn't mention them at all.
Trump's reasoning for a parade is much different. He wants to showcase the U.S. military. This would be an exhibition. There would be soldiers marching down Pennsylvania Avenue, military hardware rolling down the street and aircraft flying overhead.
That's why it's misleading to generalize and suggest that Schumer wanted a military parade just like Trump. Their visions of a parade are quite different. Schumer's proposal aimed to honor Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans. Trump's plan is a showcase.
'Organized chaos': An inside look at a pizzeria on Super Bowl Sunday
Pizza and chicken wing orders on Super Bowl Sunday just might make for the busiest few hours in the year for a local pizza shop.
Orders for the big game started trickling in last Tuesday, said Matt Bartolotta, the owner of Angelo's Pizza on East Genesee Street. Orders continued to pile up throughout the week, and last minute orders came in Sunday as well.
“It's probably one of the busiest days of the year,” Kyle Maine, a staff member at Angelo's, said.
“All the holidays are very good for us,” said Bartolotta, who's been running Angelo's since 2002.
Super Bowl Sunday is unique, however, because unlike other holidays, most orders fall in a concentrated time frame. “There's about a three-hour period where it gets crazy,” Bartolotta said.
To prepare for the surge of orders that largely fall between 4 and 7 p.m., Bartolotta ordered more ingredients for the week and brought in three additional staff members to join his regular Sunday crew.
"Kyle, how you holding up buddy?" Bartolotta asked around 4 p.m. as the pizzeria started to pick up speed.
“I'm good,” Maine said.
“Thank God,” Bartolotta replied.
“Everyone stresses out besides me,” Maine said, “I try to be very calm and collected.”
"It's a very intense day but it's a very fun day due to all the camaraderie of our staff," Bartolotta said.
Although it is perhaps the most hectic few hours in the entire year, Bartolotta said, the most important thing is still making customers happy and striving to make all deliveries on time.
Each pizza is made with care, with homemade dough kneaded with a machine that dates back to 1924, and domestically sourced ingredients — cheese from Wisconsin, tomatoes from California, and sausage from a local butcher shop — except for the extra virgin olive oil from Italy, Bartolotta said.
The sauce is a “labor of love,” made about every other day from fresh tomatoes in small batches to maintain a high standard of quality, Bartolotta said.
“Everything is fresh,” said Angelo D'Angelo, the man who opened Angelo's Pizza — the first pizza shop in Auburn — back in 1960.
At 5 p.m. the pizzeria picked up speed as last-minute orders started having wait times extended over an hour, more people filed in to pick up orders, and staff members from the front were constantly going into the back of the store where another whole crew was making dough, shredding cheese, baking more pizzas, frying wings and helping package orders.
About 20 more minutes passed and Bartolotta told his staff not to accept any more orders for sheet pizzas until after 7:30 p.m.
Even during the pizzeria's busiest time, Bartolotta continued to greet customers by name as they came in and made a point to introduce himself to new faces. He also thanked each customer before they walked out the door, even offering for his staff to help carry out pizzas to cars if customers had larger orders.
"We're getting our workout in today, guys!" Bartolotta called out at 5:30 p.m. as things continued to pick up.
"Thanks for being patient everybody, were trying to get (your orders) out as soon as we can," Bartolotta said to waiting customers that continued to file in at 6 p.m.
"No more orders until after 7 p.m. right now because we've got to catch up," he called out to his staff team.
At the busiest time, the staff team grew quiet, only talking to call out orders, give directions or interact with customers as they focused on completing orders quickly.
Just after 6 p.m. Angelo's stopped taking orders for wings, waiting until they could catch up on multiple large orders placed for 36-48 wings.
“There are other great pizza places in Auburn,” Bartolotta said while he made pizzas, adding that "all the pizzerias have a good camaraderie" and help each other out from time-to-time if they run out of ingredients.
Bartolotta also mentioned Nino's Pizzeria in Auburn is owned by his cousins, but he said there wasn't a family rivalry — “when we have relatives come from Italy, we get pizzas from both places.”
When the Super Bowl game kicked off at 6:30 p.m. Bartolotta started drinking a cup of coffee and the pizzeria began to quiet down, but all new orders still had a wait time of about an hour.
"It's been organized chaos," said John Butler Jr. who was the staff member managing most of the phone orders and deliveries.
“It went OK,” Bartolotta said, “better than expected.”
“Once a year we can deal with it,” Bartolotta laughed.
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Kyle Maine makes a sheet pizza on Super Bowl Sunday. For holidays and events, sheet pizzas are more popular than round pizzas.
Some customers came to pick up their game day pizza or wing orders in Patriots or Eagles gear, while others wore gear for their team of choice - such as the Giants.
Matt Bartolotta cuts a large sheet pizza just before handing it to a customer. Cheese, pepperoni, and sausage pizzas are their most popular orders.
John Butler Jr. carries a stack of chicken wing orders to the front of the store for waiting customers.
Come Prepared!! Download a registration form
Please plan to attend both try-out dates
Tryout Fee: $25
Tryout #1: Sunday, Mar. 4, 2018; 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM
Tryout #2: Wednesday, Mar. 7, 2017; 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM
– Prairie Stone
Tryout #1: Sunday, Mar. 4, 2018; 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM
Tryout #2: Wednesday, Mar. 7, 2018; 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM
– Prairie Stone
Tryout #1: Sunday, Mar. 4, 2018; 2:30 PM –4:00 PM
Tryout #2: Thursday, Mar. 8, 2018; 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
– Twin Groves
Tryout #1: Sunday, Mar. 4, 2018; 4:00 PM – S/B 5:30 PM
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– Twin Groves
Prairie Stone Sports (Day 1, Day 2 6/7)
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