State Police have identified the victim of Friday’s fatal industrial accident at Upstate Shredding as 49-year-old Michael Burke of Owego. Investigators say the man was walking across the scrap yard when he was struck by a front loader being operated by another employee around 2:30pm Friday. Burke was pronounced dead at the scene. State Police say OSHA is continuing their investigation of the accident. The accident occurred at the Upstate Shredding location at 15 West Main Street in Owego.
A male employee was run over and killed by a piece of heavy equipment at Ben Weitsman & Son on Main Street in Owego just before 2:30pm Friday. The victim has not been identified, but business owner Adam Weitsman released a statement saying the worker was killed while loading a piece of heavy machinery. He says he feels horrible about the accident, and that the man was pleasant and will be missed by other employees. The Owego Police Department was the first on the scene, but has turned the investigation over to the New York State Police and OSHA. No further details have been released pending the investigation and notification of family.
US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand stopped by the Tioga Elementary School today to urge fellow Senators to reject the Trump Administration’s proposal to cut SNAP benefits and funding to critical nutrition and nutrition education programs for low-income families. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, has funded programs like the “Eat Smart New York” program. 12 percent of all Tioga County residents rely on SNAP for their meals, but the presidential administration would cut SNAP funding by $193 billion over 10 years. Senator Gillibrand was at Tioga because the school has used federal funding to plan a “Tiger Farm” on district land that will grow food that they will use as part of school lunches next year. We have posted the full video of Senator Gillibrand’s talk today on the WEBO Facebook Page. Besides the SNAP issue, she also shared her thoughts on the Republican Senators health care plan yesterday.
The Village of Owego Board of Trustees unanimously approved the budget for the next fiscal year as well as local laws to abolish the Village Court and to change the clerk/treasurer position from elected to appointed at a special meeting last night. However, village residents will have the final say, because both changes will have to pass a referendum vote. That vote will be held on Tuesday, August 1 at the Central Fire Station on North Avenue and is open to all registered village voters. If approved by residents, the changes will take effect on April 2, 2018 at the conclusion of the terms for current Justice Dave Boland and Clerk/Treasurer Rod Marchewka. Only the clerk/treasurer change necessitated a mandatory referendum, but trustees elected to let village voters decide on both changes.
The National Weather Service in Binghamton says the Village of Owego experienced straight line wind during a severe thunderstorm on Sunday night, and not a tornado. However, they have confirmed that an EF-1 tornado touched down near East Smithfield in Bradford County on Tuesday. The weather service says the tornado touched down on Main Street around 12:20pm, knocked down many trees and tore off part of the roof of a barn while on the ground. It was measured as an EF-1, meaning wind speeds from 65 to 85 miles per hour. The straight line wind Sunday in Owego also brought down many trees, including a large tree at the corner of Main and Paige Street that knocked out power to part of the village for several hours. Straight line wind is defined as winds of 58 miles per hour or greater that can cause damage to houses, businesses, and trees along a path that is usually wider than that of a minor tornado.
The Owego Village Board is expected to adopt their final budget at a meeting tonight and also approve local laws that will abolish the village court and change the clerk/treasurer position from elected to appointed. The meeting will begin at 6pm at the village Department of Public Works Building at 20 Elm Street. Next year’s budget does not call for an increase in taxes. Trustees say they have slashed funding for departments to the absolute minimum levels in the $2.9 million spending plan in order to keep taxes down. A copy of the tentative budget is available for review at the village office. Also part of the board’s cost-saving measures is a plan to abolish both the village court and the village justice position. A review by trustees found that the court has operated at a $110,000 loss over the last three years, and is projected to operate at a $30,000 loss again this year. The village has received a $100,000 grant that will help pay to send all cases to the Town of Owego Court. The other law expected to be approved tonight will change the village charter to make the clerk/treasurer position appointed instead of elected. That change would require the approval of village residents in a referendum vote later this year. The court decision will only require a referendum if residents file a petition within 30 days of adoption of the local law. We will have full coverage of tonight’s meeting tomorrow on WEBO.
The Village of Owego has a new police chief. Michael Telfer was sworn in this morning as the new part-time chief. He replaces Karen Vinti, who retired as the full-time chief after the Strawberry Festival. The new part-time position calls for a 20-hour workweek with a salary of $30,000 per year. Telfer last worked for the New York State Police before retiring seven months ago, and previously worked in the Tioga County Sheriff’s Office. He lives locally, has two sons that also work in law enforcement, and coached football for several years at Owego Free Academy. His tenure begins immediately as the head of the OPD.
The Owego Village Board will hold a public hearing Thursday to adopt their final budget for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. The hearing will start at 6pm at 20 Elm Street in Owego. The $2.9 million spending plan will not raise taxes for village residents. Mayor Steve May wrote a letter to residents discussing the board’s budget plans and process (CLICK HERE TO READ IT). A copy of the tentative budget is on file at the village office at 178 Main Street and can be viewed during regular business hours.
Also tomorrow, the board will vote on measures to change the clerk/treasurer position from elected to appointed and to abolish both the village court and village justice position. If approved, the clerk/treasurer change would require a referendum vote since it’s a change to the village charter. The court decision would not require a referendum, but village residents can request one as long as a petition is filed within 30 days of the board’s decision. We will have full coverage of tomorrow’s hearing on WEBO. Again, it begins at 6pm at the Owego Department of Public Works building on Elm Street.