There was a fire early this morning at the Villa Serene Apartments in Elmira Heights. Fire officials have confirmed one death. The high rise apartments sit at the corner of East 14th Street and Horseheads Boulevard. The fire started on the 11th floor. Multiple fire department have responded to this scene. Residents from floors 1 through 9 were allowed back inside, but those evacuated from the 10th through 12th floors were taken to the North Presbyterian Church on College Avenue in Elmira by the American Red Cross. A news conference is expected later this morning.
The Elmira Heights Central School District is breathing a sigh of relief. The district’s budget was the only one that failed in the Southern Tier last month, but the superintendent said voters came out in large numbers this time around. More than 70 percent of voters supported the latest budget Tuesday. The new plan is about $93,000 less than the originally proposed $20.1 million budget. It also calls for a 5.4 percent tax levy increase, just short of the tax cap. In addition, a vacant English language arts position will be cut, as will field trips. The district superintendent said she’s grateful for the community’s support. The district said starting Wednesday, they’ll be back to the drawing board, this time preparing for the 2014-2015 school year.
A house in Elmira Heights was leveled by an apparent explosion Wednesday night.
Firefighters on scene say around 7:45 p.m., they received reports from neighbors who had heard the blast and then moments later, watched as the house at 3052 Camden Avenue went up in flames. After the fire was out, a gutted frame was all that remained. Neighbors looking on said they couldn’t believe the impact of the blast. Neighbors say two people lived at the home. A man was injured and taken to the hospital, but they said his injuries didn’t appear to be too serious.
State Police are handling the investigation. NYSEG was also called in to secure gas lines in the area.
The Elmira Heights school board has agreed on a new budget to send back to voters in two weeks. The original plan, which called for a 6.9 percent tax hike, was shot down last month.
The revised budget calls for a 5.4 percent increase, just below the tax cap. In addition, a vacant English Language Arts position will be cut, as will field trips, and more money will come out of the reserves. A public hearing is scheduled for next Monday with the vote on the 18th. If this proposal doesn’t pass, the superintendent says they’ll likely have to cut at least 11 other jobs.
After a tumultuous budget year, the Elmira Heights Central School District is facing a new set of challenges. Several jobs could be on the line if voters don’t approve the revised budget Tuesday night. The initial plan, which called for a 6.9 percent tax hike, did not get the super majority it needed to pass. The school board is back to the drawing board and has proposed bringing that tax levy down to 5.4 percent. The original tax cap would have brought in about $483,000. Now the district is proposing several additional money saving measures to make up for the difference. Those include eliminating a vacant English Language Arts position, which would save about $83,000 a year, and eliminating field trips. That would save about $5,600 a year. On top of that, district officials have proposed dipping into reserves for an additional $20,000.
Both the superintendent and president of the teachers association say the public’s support is critical. Without it, at least 11 positions are at stake. The board will meet next Monday to adopt the budget, which will be voted on June 18th.
Two Chemung County school districts are working together to help solve current financial needs. The Horseheads and Elmira Heights school districts have agreed to look into doing a feasibility study of a possible merger. The districts already share transportation services and will continue to look into sharing more. The feasibility study costs about $40,000 to $50,000 and the first step the districts are taking is to try and secure funding for the study. Each superintendent believes in looking into every possible option to plan for years ahead. They say no consolidation would take place without the public’s support.
The Elmira Heights School district is facing possible insolvency, and like other school districts across the state is looking at consolidation with other districts as one solution.
The school board and several hundred residents this week heard the details of the decisions that lie ahead a community forum. About 9 percent of New York’s school districts foresee financial insolvency within two years, according to a recent New York State Council of School Superintendents survey.
But Elmira School Superintendent Mary Beth Fiore pointed out that consolidation may not be the complete solution. She noted that some districts have merged but ended up with financial problems anyway. Fiore cited health insurance and pension costs as the major expenses pushing some districts towards insolvency.
The district is projecting a $1.8 million shortfall for the 2013-14 school year. In the past, Elmira schools have cut staff and non-mandated programs. If raising taxes was the board’s only option, it would currently call for a 22 percent tax levy increase, Fiore said.
An Alpine man has been arrested after Elmira Heights Police say they found a meth lab in his car.
25-year-old Christopher Weisner has arrested after police received a tip and pulled him over. They discovered what they say was a meth lab.
Police also found prescription medication.
Weisner has been charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance and additional charges are pending as State Police continue to investigate the car and evidence collected inside.