Mother and Three Children Die in Vestal Fire

Four people — three children and their mother — were killed after an early morning house fire in Vestal. The house is at 439 State Line Road in Vestal, which is off of Route 26. Initial calls for the fire came in after 2am this morning. One member of the family made it out of the house safely. The home is a complete loss. The Vestal Fire Department was on the scene along with a number of other departments. The fire is now under investigation.

Second Attempt to be Made to Pass Tioga Central School Budget

The Tioga Central School District’s board of education voted yesterday to try and get its budget passed a second time. A proposal– that included a 30 percent tax levy increase– failed to get the 60 percent super-majority needed to pass on Tuesday night. The board will meet next Tuesday to decide whether to make slight adjustments to the previously-proposed budget. Those adjustments could include tinkering expenditures and the tax levy. But, board members said they expect to adopt a budget on Thursday May 28th that looks nearly identical if not the same as the one that included the 30 percent levy– all with the hope the district can garner enough support to pass it in a second vote. On Tuesday, 621 people voted for the budget and 559 voted against it. The 52 percent “yes” vote was not enough to reach the 60 percent super-majority legally required to break the tax levy cap. If the second version of the budget does not pass on June 16, then the board is required to adopt a contingency budget which would include over 900,000 dollars in budget cuts. If the contingency budget is adopted, the possibility exists that the Tioga school district could merge with another district or dissolve altogether. In a twist that surprised even the school board members, a representative from Tioga Downs attended last night’s meeting. The representative expressed interest in helping the district fund the budget gap. No official plans were made at the meeting, but board members appeared receptive to considering the idea.

Four Injured in I-88 Rollover Crash

New York State Police responded to an accident on Interstate 88 in Sidney Tuesday morning. Four people, two of them toddlers, were hospitalized. A New York State Police investigation determined that Ericka SaKeema of Virginia was driving a 2002 Ford eastbound on I-88 when she drove off the north side of the roadway onto the shoulder. When she tried to correct this she lost control of her vehicle and it traveled into the center median where it over turned and rolled over several times, coming to rest on the wheels. During this accident SaKeema was partially ejected and her two rear passengers, both toddlers, were completely ejected from the vehicle. Her front seat passenger remained in the vehicle during the accident. The driver was transported to Wilson Memorial Hospital for head and internal injuries. The investigation also revealed that the toddlers were not secured in child restraint seats which caused them to be ejected. The investigation is ongoing.

School Budget Results

Across the Southern Tier, many people came out to cast their ballots on their district’s spending plan for the 2015-2016 school year.

The Tioga Central School District’s proposed 30 percent tax levy increase did not get the super-majority required to pass. 621 people voted for the budget and 559 voted against it, but the budget required a 60 percent super-majority to break the tax levy cap, which was set at negative 1.49 percent. The district was counting votes on the proposed tax levy increase until 11 last night. Superintendent Scot Taylor said roughly 300 taxpayers normally vote on the school budget, but, 1,180 taxpayers cast their vote yesterday. Now, the school board has three options. The board can submit a different budget, re-submit the same budget or move to a contingency budget. The contingency budget would require more than $900,000 worth of cuts. The cuts would include closing the swimming pool, laying off staff, cutting a principal and reverting to half-day kindergarten. A contingency budget would also entirely eliminate extra-curricular programs– including clubs and sports. In addition, three new school buses– that were intended to replace aging vehicles– would not be purchased. Taylor said the school board would move swiftly to choose an option for moving forward. He said a decision would be made by Friday about whether to use a contingency budget or not.

Other local school budget results in Tioga County include:

– Owego-Apalachin which voted to pass their budget with 60 percent approval. The OA Bus Replacement Program was approved at 66%. The Apalachin Library Funding was approved with 54% voting in favor. And both incumbents were re-elected to the Board of Education. John Crosby received 825 votes, while David Barton received 838 votes.

– Newark Valley also voted to pass their budget, which included a 1.5 percent tax levy increase and 2.41 percent total budget increase.

– Candor passed their budget as well

Grace Lutheran Church a Total Loss

Grace Lutheran Church was completely destroyed after a two-alarm fire Monday night. Yesterday, investigators examined the wreckage. It took two to three hours for nearly 100 firefighters to control the flames. The whole back lobby was completely consumed, the roof was caved in and everything is a total loss according to the senior fire investigator for Broome County. Even though the church was destroyed, members of the congregation said they plan to hold Sunday services in the parking lot. Parishioners said other area churches have been extremely supportive and helpful.

Owego-Apalachin School Budget Vote Is Today

Today is the Owego Apalachin School district budget vote. Dr. Bill Russell joined the morning show yesterday to talk about how this year’s budget is balanced. Voting is open to any registered voters within the OA school district. You can vote between noon and 8 today at OFA or Apalachin Elementary school.

Major Fire at Grace Lutheran Church

Last night, there was a two-alarm fire at the Grace Lutheran Church at 709 Main St. in Vestal. The call came in right after 10:30 p.m. According to Broome County Emergency Dispatch, the fire was fully involved. Fire units from Vestal, Endwell and Endicott were on the scene. No information about a possible cause or damage is available at this time.

Matthew Libous To Serve Six Months

The son of republican State Senator Tom Libous will serve prison time for tax fraud. Matthew Libous was sentenced in US District Court, Southern District of New York yesterday. In January, Judge Vincent Briccetti found Libous guilty of three counts of subscribing to false tax returns. Each count carried a maximum sentence of three years in prison. Briccetti handed down a sentence of 6 months with 100 hours of community service and a $25,000 fine.

St. Patrick’s School Students Hold Final Memorial day Service

Students at St. Patrick’s School in Owego held its last annual Memorial Day service. It was held at the St. Patrick’s Cemetery yesterday Morning. Fifth graders placed American Flags on graves of nearly 200 fallen veterans. St. Patrick’s School will be closing in June, which makes this annual tradition the last. Gold Star Mother Barbara Bilbrey spoke at the event to honor her son Charles Bilbrey, who died in 2007 when he was hit by an IED in Iraq.