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They got it going on in Maine

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Maine Universities Extend Tuition Freeze for Historic Sixth Year

Prompted by pledge of additional funding from Governor LePage, UMS Board of Trustees vote to extend the tuition freeze for a historic sixth year at Maine’s public universities

FARMINGTON, MAINE – The University of Maine System Board of Trustees unanimously voted to extend the tuition freeze at Maine’s public universities into the 2016-2017 academic year.  The decision by the Board will hold instate tuition rates at all seven of Maine’s public universities flat ensuring that the tuition paid for a four-year, public higher education in Maine will remain unchanged for a historic sixth year (FY 12-FY 17).

Maine is the only state in the country to reduce the inflation-adjusted cost of four-year, public higher education over the last five years.   Maine has reduced the real cost of public higher education by 2 percent while the national average has increased by 13 percent over the last half decade.

Maine’s commitment to affordability leads the nation for a second year in a row.

While holding tuition flat Maine’s universities have increased investments in financial aid (tuition adjustments and scholarships) by 33 percent since the start of the decade.  Increasing at an average annual rate of 7.5 percent during this period, $18.9 million was added to University aid bringing the total to $75.7 million in aid spending in the 2014-2015 academic year; 24,409 students across the University of Maine System received an average of $11,622 in financial aid from all sources in the 2014-2015 academic year, an increase of $963 (9 percent) over the last five years.

Maine Governor Paul R. LePage recently wrote University of Maine System Board of Trustees Chair Samuel Collins, urging a continuation of the tuition freeze that has been in place at Maine’s public universities for half a decade.  In exchange for maintaining the freeze for a sixth year the Governor proposed requesting additional state support of $4.65 million for the universities in an FY 2017 Supplemental Budget Proposal next January to offset the revenue that would have been generated by an inflation-based adjustment to instate tuition.   The Governor’s letter also includes proposed funding for One University Initiatives that are strengthening access to public higher education in communities throughout Maine.

“On behalf of our students and their families, I want to thank my colleagues on the Board of Trustees, Chancellor Page, and the entire university community for maintaining Maine’s tuition freeze for a sixth year in a row,” said Paul Nelson, Student Trustee to the University of Maine System.  “Our commitment to providing Maine students with affordable access to a quality, career-advancing education leads the nation and is a great service for the people we serve.”

“I am a proud student of the University of Maine at Farmington,” said Jamie Austin, a junior political science major from Springvale, Maine.  “Thanks to Governor LePage and the Board of Trustees I will graduate next year without a single increase in what my family and I pay for tuition over my four years in college.  Maine’s commitment to affordably has made a big difference to me and to students across Maine.  We are grateful.”

“Governor LePage’s support for higher education has yet again shone through,” said Dominic J. DeLuca, a junior from Gorham, Maine studying environmental studies with a game warden focus at the University of Maine at Fort Kent. “By supporting the affordability of Maine’s Public Universities, the Governor is providing a catalyst for developing a stronger future for Maine’s students and businesses, as well as the communities that drive them.”

“It has meant a great deal to me and to many of my peers, non-traditional and traditional students alike, that the University of Maine System has fought long and hard, contentiously at times, to keep higher education an affordable opportunity for all of Maine’s learners,” said Brad O’Brien of Milford, Maine who is senior liberal studies major at the University of Maine at Augusta.  “I see the Governor’s recent pledge in support of the goal of keeping tuition down, while acknowledging much needed investments in Maine’s Universities, as a landmark moment of recognition of the public good, and long-term investment Maine’s economy, that higher education represents.”

“We are achieving savings and extending access to high quality programming as part of our One University reforms,” said Samuel Collins, Chair of the UMS Board of Trustees.  “We appreciate Governor LePage’s support of our efforts and for sharing the Board’s view that affordable access to public higher education is essential to Maine’s future.”

“We have come far in a few short years thanks to the ingenuity and resolve of our faculty, staff and presidents,” said James H. Page, Chancellor of the University of Maine System.  “With the support and leadership of Governor LePage and the Legislature, we will continue our work to ensure public higher education remains affordable and focused on providing transformation leadership for our students and our state.

The University of Maine System Board of Trustees will finalize the FY 2017 Budget at its next meeting scheduled for May 22 & 23, 2016.

From a press release issued by news@meltwaterpress.com

 

Holy Seeping Suburban Watershed: It's all downhill from Cayuga Heights

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THINK I'LL JUST SIT HERE AND WATCH THE NEIGHBORHOOD FLOW ...

Editor's note: Hilary Ann Lambert is a person with a driven curiosity; which makes her someone who gets things done. She's also executive director of the Cayuga Lake Watershed Network. When tinytowntimes.com asked Lambert if there was any reasonable count of the number of creeks, streams, freshets, rivulets and intermittent runs in Cayuga Heights alone, she contacted an associate who provided the map of the Cayuga Heights area you see below ... Whew. That's not easy reading.

Why, you may ask, do we care how many of these hillside latrines exist? Visit us at our uptown office on North Sometimes Sunset Road during a gully washer (or, regional, "warsher"). The entire area transforms from a quiet wooded suburb with a few trickly creeks into a gigantic hillside seep. It's a wonder the whole place isn't in the lake. Maybe it is and we're in denial (no Egypt jokes, please).

To witness with eye and ear the torrents unleashed by a sudden heavy downpour is to feel unstable; an instinct to seek higher ground pervades the self until the storm passes and even the driveway into my garage apartment is a puddle of silt and vehicular toxins oozing mysteriously around my abode seeking its own level as water does.

So it's amazing to us that no ready count is available. Some ravines run dry for months. Add a little water and they'll pull down an oak and wash it across Remington Drive.

Our office is perched in a precarious geological and atmospheric zone. Several hundred feet up from the flats yet oddly the target for windstorms that veer from the north to the northeast or just come blowing in from the west. In our first week here a tornadic storm darkened the neighborhood for 48 hours straight; The Admin fell down stairs at night tracking what he thought for sure was a bobcat and suffered a concussion he never recovered from. That's another story.

Here then, is Hilary's story; while she offers the caveat "I am not a hydrologist or map-reading expert," we think she's being modest. What you see here is the first private citizen's rough count of almost every (visible) watercourse in this neck of the woods. Get out yer magnifying glass and scuba gear, Mabel, it's a fuzzy science.

 

From intrepid Researcher HL: "I have stared at this wee map until my eyeballs rolled back into my frontal lobes. I am counting the waterways that make it down the final steep slope to Rte. 13 and thus, one assumes, to the lake."

 

So goes:

1. BLUE-LINE: See the creeklets with blue lines? That means they are permanent, year-round, officially recognized as such by the authorities, and can be used to fight off permits for development etc.

2. INTERMITTENT: Dotted line streams means “intermittent,” part-timers, which flow when it rains, snowmelt etc. You can see that several of the blue liners are marked as intermittent further up the slopes, but gather enough water from the tiny side trickles in people’s backyards to be full-time at the final drop to the lake. Often when you actually check out intermittents in person, you will find that they run most of the year, but they are harder to protect in court (I did this stuff a lot in Kentucky, trying to protect streams from a landfill expansion, coal mines, quarries and highways). Except on the upper slopes, I do not see any dotted line streams. I do see the indentations – a sort of line of scallops – in the contours down the final steep slopes to the lake, which means they are places where the water has carved a small channel at one time or another. So I count them as intermittents.

RESULTS

Very fuzzy – approximate – !

NINE year-round brooks and streams.

These all reach the bottom of the final slope and make it directly to the lake via stream-channels or culverts.

NINE intermittent brooks and streams.

These all reach the bottom of the final slope and make it directly to the lake via stream-channels or culverts.

COUNTLESS RIVULETS The perhaps hundreds of tiny rivulets and future Grand Canyons that grace people’s backyards, joining the named/counted bigger waterways further downslope.

Named brooks, origins

Only two of the full-time waterways have names on the map, and are both “brooks” (smaller than “creeks”):

Renwick Brook – Its headwaters are in two wetland areas along Sapsucker Woods Road. From them, two small brooks flow downslope through Lucente-land and join into one bigger brook between Hanshaw Road and Kendal, and head downslope into the heart of Cayuga Heights along the steep W. Remington Road, under Route 13 to the lake at East Shore Park, near the CU Merrill Family Sailing Center.

Pleasant Grove – Its headwaters are in the ponded area just west of the Cornell Thoroughbred Horse Farm buildings around Bluegrass Lane (not so great for water quality). Crosses Pleasant Grove Rd by the cemetery (not so great for water quality!) and heads down into the heart of steep-sloping CH. Its final mini-gorge fall down the steep slopes is not marked in blue, which is strange because its upslope course is all blue (full-time brook). Maybe the waterfall was routed into a culvert to keep it off Route 13? One way or another, the blue line starts up again at the bottom of the slope on the west side of Route 13, where it gets mingled in with the engineered waterways and cricklets and drainage ditches, and makes its way to the lake next to the Visitors Center/Chamber of Commerce.

Likely names, origins for other blue-liners

At the north end of Cayuga Heights is a noticeable brook or small creek, perhaps named McKinneys Creek/Brook – it wanders downslope from Lansing to CH and finally arrives at the lake in the Town of Ithaca in one of the dense lakeside cottage areas.

At the south end of CH are two significant brooks that flow in steep, significant small gorges next to the tortuous routes of Klein and Wyckoff Roads. These gorges/brooks bracket the prominence/hill occupied by Carl Sagan and pals at the Lake View Cemetery (not so great for water quality). The more southerly of these two brooks is the longer one - has its headwaters in ponds/low spots on the east side of Pleasant Grove Road in the Robert Trent Jones Golf Course (not so great for water quality).

I would venture that the Lansing brook and the two southerly brooks are the natural boundaries of Cayuga Heights. I bet Carol Kammen or someone like that knows the history.

Not named on the map but is a biggie

The blue-line brook that reaches the lake at Willow Point, which travels downslope just inside CH at its north end, is a significant brook, competing with Renwick Brook for prominence. Its headwaters are the open areas among the houses just south of the Trip Hotel at Triphammer Market, and I bet was a bone of contention when that neighborhood was built. It flows around the north side of Kendal and graces many a backyard in the bigger-property area on the north side of Cayuga Heights as it heads downslope to the lake at Willow Point. Bet it has a name. (EDITOR: Let's NAME IT! TripMall Crick?).

Jurisdictional note!

All the named waterways start in the Town of Ithaca, excepting the one that starts in Lansing (possibly named McKinneys). They travel through Cayuga Heights, and all emerge for their final plunge to the lake back into the Town of Ithaca. I am sure there are meetings and agreements between CH and Ithaca for their management, protection and upkeep.

OK more detail than you needed or can possibly use.

 

Peace,

Hilary Lambert

 

Thank you Hilary, what an insanely detailed answer to my question: Are we all gonna die in a mudslide? – The Admin

Last Updated on Thursday, 07 January 2016 13:43
 

Citizen First-Responders confront panic, mass hysteria and risk their lives to help others

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This post is based on a conversation with two citizen first-responders who, in face of terror, did what they could to help. It is not a complete report, and no one is claiming any props for heroism. In fact, the tragedy is compounded for them by the fact that despite the finest efforts, a life could not be saved. These people did something extraordinary and, while they are not asking for any special attention, deserve our thanks. If anyone referred to in this piece wishes me to remove it, just give me the word and I will take it down.

Tiny Town, USA – Allen Forest was halfway through his haircut at the Big Time Barber Shop when a loud concussion rocked the building. Someone wondered aloud if a crane had collapsed on the construction site  outside on The Ithaca Commons. Forest's brother Kyle Henderson "got a funny kind of look on his face," says Crystal Forest, who also was there with her husband and 10-year old son. With uncanny precision Mr. Henderson guessed exactly what had just occurred: A runaway truck had slammed into a building down the street. Mr. Henderson, shop owner Joe Knight and Mr. Forest's wife, Crystal, among others, left the building and confronted an appalling scene: Dozens of people, pedestrians as well as construction workers, were fleeing the site of an incomprehensible disaster: A semi hauling a two-tiered trailer of vehicles was embedded in Simeon's Restaurant, the rig itself completely buried inside the building.  Mr. Forest's son, Anthony, was terrified as he watched his father and uncle move deliberately toward the horror. The boy cried out "why is daddy going that way? Why?" says Crystal Forest who told her son to remain in the shelter of the barber shop , and then returned to follow her husband. A woman, badly injured and bleeding from head wounds came toward them. "One of her shoes was missing and she wanted to find it; she was speaking a hundred words a second," says Mrs. Forest. "We tried to get her to sit and wait for help, but she was in such bad shock she only said, 'I've got to get a phone, I'm going to the library, I need a phone.' " Several people, including Mrs. Forest attempted to convince the injured woman to stay with them. "But she wouldn't. We couldn't get her to stay, she just kept going."  Mass hysteria erupted on the east end of the Ithaca Commons Friday afternoon at a little past 4 p.m., the couple told me today during an informal interview at my home. "Lots of people were on their cells calling 911, but it was a few minutes before we heard sirens and police and fire fighters arrived. A reporter from the Ithaca Journal was there taking pictures and asking questions right as we got outside." There was no time for answering questions. The situation was intensified by construction barriers that line the center of the mall hemming people into a narrow area. Workers also fled the scene, the couple said, running down the center of the site. To get to the building, Mr Forest says the men jumped the barriers and criss-crossed the Commons; somehow they navigated past the wreckage. Mr. Henderson entered the building and Mr. Forest and Joe Knight followed suit. Mr. Forest says a man exited the bar carrying an injured woman. Bricks fell from the upper stories of the building, the air was filled with smoke and dust and powdered glass.  There was scant visibility inside a surreal space filled with "smoke and fumes and we could barely see," says Mr. Forest. He called out for his brother and for survivors. Gradually the shape of the semi came into focus: the truck had passed through the entire restaurant at an angle "kitty-cornered to the street" he says.  He heard his brother also calling for survivors but could not see him; Mr. Henderson had somehow gotten onto the other side of the vehicle and was furiously smothering a fire with pieces of cloth. Debris continued to fall. The smell of gasoline was overpowering, says Mr. Forest. "It was so strong it made me dizzy; I pulled my shirt up over my face." The men's voices pierced the gloom as they desperately calling for anyone who might be conscious or alive. "We assumed the driver was dead," says Mr. Forest. "But there wasn't anybody in the cab, he wasn't on the scene."

Crystal Forest says the cries of pedestrians outside made it almost impossible to hear anyone in the building.

She also smelled the gasoline and feared for her husband's life. "I've been through a few bad things in my life," she says. "Like hurricanes in Florida, but this was the saddest thing I've ever seen – it really seemed like something from 9/11."

She recalls a young woman in a state of terror who said she was supposed to meet her mother on the corner and could not find her.

"People were in a complete panic," she says.

Not Mr. Forest, nor Mr. Henderson or Mr. Knight. Forest, a retired oil field worker, is trained in CPR and first aid and understands hazardous duty. "The first thing you don't do is panic," he says. Mr. Henderson, a motor equipment operator for the county highway department, focused on dousing fire and crying for injured people. But after several minutes, says Mr.Forest, the danger of an explosion was too great and, not hearing anyone other than his brother and Mr. Knight, implored everyone to get out.  "My brother thought he heard someone, but I didn't hear any voices calling back. The way that truck was positioned, I figured God had already taken anyone who was in its path." It was a terrible feeling, he says. "We really wish we could have pulled someone out of there. I'm from Ithaca, this is my home, and I really wanted to know if there was anyone in there who was alive." That job would require entire rescue crews and 12 hours of intensive, painstaking labor on the part of uniformed responders. What they discovered was everyone's greatest fear.

For more about that, see http://ithacavoice.com/2014/06/mother-killed-simeons-crash-sweet-earth/

The Forests remained at the scene for an hour. They had a dinner date for a family birthday but their son refused to go. He didn't want to eat in a restaurant because of what had happened, they say. Mr. Forest, realizing "I only had half a haircut," visited with a friend who finished the job. Mr. Henderson, shook-up by the experience, didn't want to talk about it with me today, but we did meet the evening before. The Forests returned to the Big Time Barber Shop late Saturday afternoon to see friends; the shop was open for business.

"Now I know what it was like on 9/11; now I know what it was like at the Boston Marathon," says Mr. Forest, referring to the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in New York in 2001, and the bombs detonated at the Boston race in 2013. "It seems that you can't be sure of anything – not sending your kids to school, not going out on a date to the movies or even going out to eat."

We thank these people for telling their story. We hope we have conveyed accurately what was expressed to us and we extend our thanks to them for their exemplary actions.

– Franklin Crawford, administrator, tinytowntimes.com

Last Updated on Sunday, 22 June 2014 13:50
 

Crunching Tiny Town Crime for 2013 ...

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Originally printed in the Tompkins Weekly ...

By Franklin Crawford

The officer in charge of records was at lunch. When he got back from lunch, I was at lunch. Lunch is very personal. When a body leaves the relative security of its work space and enters this hyper-pollinated Desiderata in broad daylight, anything can happen. Lunch is not as safe as it sounds.

Anyway. I got back from lunch unscathed. But by the time I’d settled a dispute with my computer, the records officer was no longer in his communication’s space. That’s okay! The Ithaca Police Department is under-staffed. I've written about this. The mayor knows this. In fact, the mayor made sure that for the next year or so, it stays that way. So I did some interpolating of the data at hand: End of the year crime statistics for 2013.

There are some items on this IPD readout that make sense. Some don’t.

This caught my attention: 14 kidnappings in 2013. I don’t really know what that means. What constitutes a kidnapping? Actual kids being spirited away by creeps, or some family thing – or both?

Further evidence of a staffing problem: Last year’s stats are all neat and tidy in a chart. This year’s stats, available off the IPD website, are a mere data dump. Some categories resemble last year’s references, some don’t. Things change. For instance, there is a line in the 2013 stats called “forcible fondling.” That isn’t in the previous year’s chart. “Rape” also has changed. It was simply entered as “rape” last year, but in the 2013 numbers there is a new emphasis, something called “forcible rape.” Which strikes me as redundant (is there consensual rape? Answer that in the quiet of your own brain-casing). In 2012 there was a single case of “forcible sodomy” but in 2013, it is not even listed.

What you’ll see in the 2013 numbers: Five instances of forcible rape reported; six incidents of forcible fondling.

Let’s move on.

It is good to note that “aggravated assault,” is down a notch, from 29, in 2012, to 27, in 2013. Huzzah! Props to McGruff.

The bad news starts around the “Break-in and Entering/Burglary” category: 179 in 2012; 200 in 2013. Where did these occur? We don’t know. Ask a policeman on the street. Dial 911. Form a Neighborhood Watch Group. Call a realtor! I’m sure these kind of facts give agents the hives.

This is not a cheap-shot at police authorities. It’s just that, holy smokes, they got a $2 million-plus computer to number-crunch and GPS-coordinate these crimes. But it’s just “Mission Critical” all the time at the IPD. And that means a data collector has no time to harvest, sift, sort and create user-friendly data charts, not to mention, eat a humane lunch. I volunteered for the task of data entry and the chief thought I was joking.

I wasn’t. Chief?

More data: “Theft from buildings” jumped from 218 in 2012 to 247 in 2013 – roughly a 12.4 percent increase; “Shoplifting” – hooooo-ey! In 2012: 298; in 2013 – 343; a 14 percent increase. “Thefts from motor vehicles”: In 2012, a mere 195 –wanna bet on the spread, gambling friends? Faggedaboudit: Only 211 in 2013. Go back to your scratcher cards.

Here’s a category: “All Other Larceny.” Sounds like a love story. It's not: 327 larcenies in 2012; 350 in 2013, a six percent increase.

Good news: “Motor vehicle thefts” were down last year: 16 as opposed to 29. As well with “counterfeiting and forgery”: In 2013, a whopping 57 con-artists got popped; in 2013, we amended our ways in view of its incarceration-potential, and only 29 locals faced the orange-jump-suited penal colony.

You know, those uniforms give orange a twist that Tropicana never intended. Would you call it a Syracuse orange?

Ah, but. The “destruction of public property and vandalism.” Sorry, realtors – the numbers are up! In 2012, 343 instances; 363, in 2013: A five percent increase

I’m going to skip drug violations. I believe in Colorado and Oregon – let’s work it out in the stupid bowl. As for the tons of meth and crack and heroin in Ithaca, speak to your doctor, or, contact an offshore pharmacist.

Other news: “Disorderly conduct” up by 10 instances. But! “Driving under the influence”? Down – from 116 to 70.

Lastly among a long list you can look up yourself: “Impersonation.”

You’d think with all the acting classes and stagecraft we have in such abundance here it would be boom times for impersonators. Not so. Last year 22 daring individuals stepped outside their own characters, largely for nefarious reasons, and lost the charade. In 2013? Feh. Only 19 bothered gave it a shot.

Practice, practice, practice, and get to those casting calls: The Ithaca Blues are always on the lookout for fresh talent to bust.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 June 2014 15:43
 

Local Tree-Huggers Need Your Help: Stop the Hemlock Wooly adelgid scourge

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This Saturday, February 22 at 10 AM, please come help with a survey of hemlock trees in the beautiful Six Mile Creek gorge. Meet at the Giles St. parking lot at the Mulholland Wildflower Garden in Ithaca NY.

Dress appropriately for being outdoors for 2-3 hours. Thank you!

Contact: steward@cayugalake.og for information about this event.

The City of Ithaca, assisted by the Cayuga Lake Watershed Network and others, are launching an intensive tree-by-tree survey for the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid (HWA), an aphid-like invasive pest that can quickly weaken and kill hemlock trees.

 

Come join one of several small survey teams and head to your assigned grove to inspect each tree. HWA was first found along the creek there last November by Cornell expert Mark C. Whitmore.

There is a special urgency to locate HWA infested trees along the creek that supplies the City of Ithaca with drinking water. Losing hemlocks from steep gorge slopes and along the creek would lead to a rise in sediment from increased erosion, and warmer creek water from loss of shade, altering water quality and habitat.

Our hemlock trees are also essential to the region’s beauty and their loss would leave a big hole in our hearts. The HWA can be controlled and the disease slowed or stopped – if caught early.

 

Residents along the west shore of Cayuga Lake are already dealing with this pest, as are our local state parks. Yes, this is a climate change opportunist – HWA is moving north with warmer weather overall. Once established, even a colder winter like this one won’t stop it. More info:http://www.cornellplantations.org/our-gardens/natural-areas/invasive/hemlock-woolly-adelgid

Hug a Tree-Stompa woody Adelgid~!

Last Updated on Monday, 17 February 2014 20:56
 
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