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Online @ ITH ACA .COM

Winter 2020

BUS DREAMS Transportation officials explore equitable, efficient public transport in Tompkins County




Local officials talk police reform

Health Dept. talks distribution



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Nirvana Foods Bazaar BVCFESTIVAL breaks down Bangs Ambulance Offers worldy 4 “new to him” films Celebrates 75 years groceries, food


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Holiday Lending Opportunities at Ithaca’s Hometown Credit Union! It’s refinancing season. Save money now! If you need a loan, I want to hear from you today!

Too many people are so far away from the starting line. That’s why I have devoted my life’s work to moving the goalposts to ensure equity. Financial inclusion and empowerment are fundamental rights, especially for those who have either been traditionally underbanked, underserved, underinsured, and underappreciated. It is my sincere goal to ensure that everyone has an equal start, and that begins with mission-driven, service-based lending, financial planning, and inclusive visioning. James Hunter, Chief Lending Officer

If you need a loan, I want to hear from you TODAY! Contact me directly at: jhunter@alternatives.org

Cooperatives exist to make a difference in the world and in the communities they serve - not just to make a profit. At GreenStar, we endeavor to be a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive Co-op. Shop your Co-op this Holiday Season and support local farmers, producers, businesses, and workers.

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VOL.XLI / NO. 17 / December 16, 2020 Serving 47,125 readers week ly

Bus Dreams�������������������������������������� 8 Transportation officials explore changes


New To Me Film Festival����������� 19

Vaccines expected here this week

BVC continues archive trip

NE W S & OPINION Newsline��������������������������������������������������3-9 Sports�������������������������������������������������������� 10 Business������������������������������������������������ 11-18


ompkins County leadership held another COVID town hall on Dec. 9, where they tackled a couple key questions that have been on people’s minds — vaccines and how nursing homes handle outbreaks. According to Public Health Director Frank Kruppa, the Southern Tier is designated to get 4,500 doses of the Pfizer vaccine sometime this week to distribute throughout the region. As of the afternoon of Dec. 15, the vaccines had not yet arrived. As with the rest of the 170,000 being distributed throughout the state, they will be given to hospital healthcare workers and long-term care residents and staff first. When asked if the 4,500 vaccines would be enough for all the healthcare workers in the region, Kruppa said no, but that more would be continuously supplied as it became available. “We’ll be starting with prioritizing healthcare workers in the hospitals, especially in the emergency departments and COVID wings,” he said. There aren’t many details available yet about rollout of the vaccine beyond frontline healthcare workers and longterm care residents, but that plan will become clearer in the coming weeks. The Pfizer vaccine requires two dosages; Kruppa said the first shot doesn’t give you immunity, but once you get the second shot your body will create the antibodies. “It takes about seven to 10 days for your body to fully defend yourself,” he said. “It does take some time for that immunity to occur. And every vaccine is not perfect. Pfizer is in the 90% [effective]…that’s still way better than nothing.” Kruppa added that while the vaccine may not be 100% effective for 100% of people, it’s widely effective enough that if everyone gets it, it will limit the disease’s ability to jump person

ART S & E N T E RTAINME N T Stage���������������������������������������������������������� 21 Books��������������������������������������������������������� 22 TimesTable����������������������������������������������� 25 Classifieds������������������������������������������26-28 Cover: Photo: Casey Martin, Design: Marshall Hopkins

to person, thus causing it to die off. A resident also asked about what protocols are at nursing homes to prevent the spread of the disease. This comes after five residents at Oak Hill Manor Nursing Home in Ithaca died from COVID in the past couple weeks after a widespread outbreak. Kruppa explained that there are many restrictions in place, including testing requirements, limited visitation and cohorting, meaning grouping people who test positive in one section, close contacts in another and negative tests in a third section. However, even despite the numerous precautions, Kruppa said those types of facilities are just the perfect place for spread. “People are close together and they’re indoors, so transmission can occur,” he said. “And unfortunately, they’re the most vulnerable to this disease. [Nursing homes] are doing everything humanly possible to help keep the folks in

their residences safe. Those are their people, they care for those folks, and they chose that profession for a reason.” And of course, residents were urged to remain vigilant as the area continues to see record-breaking numbers of cases. “We had 61 new cases on Dec. 7,” Kruppa said. “That was almost double our biggest day prior to that.” He reiterated that the majority of cases are stemming from small gatherings around Thanksgiving, and that entire households are testing positive while more than one thousand people are currently in quarantine. “We want to get those numbers down, Kruppa said. “The reminders are the same. They’re the same as they’ve been since March — use a face covering, avoid crowded spaces and keep six feet of distance […] Those three things are the most simple steps we can take.” With holidays like Hanuk-

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▶  ICSD goes remote Ithaca City schools will transition to full distance learning from Dec. 15 until Jan. 3. Superintendent Luvelle Brown sent out an email explaining that the community spread of COVID-19 has resulted in many mandatory isolations and quarantines of students and staff across the school district.

Known active COVID-19 cases in Tompkins County since April 1, 2020 (Chart Marshall Hopkins)

ON T HE WE B Visit our website at www.ithaca.com for more news, arts, sports and photos. Call us at 607-277-7000

kah, Christmas and Kwanzaa coming up, he urged people to stay home. “We said it and we’re going to continue to say it,” Kruppa said. “Stay home for the holidays. Do not gather with others. Consider virtual alternatives. A vaccine is on the horizon, and a little more vigilance and patience will make a huge difference.” -Ta n n e r H a r d i n g

L i s a B i n g a m a n , A cc o u n t R ep r ese n ta t i v e , x 218 l i s a @ I t h a c aTi m e s . c o m T o n i C r o u ch , x 211 A d m i n i s t r a t i o n Sharon Davis, Distribution J i m B i l i n s k i , P u b l i s h e r , x 210 j b i l i n s k i @ I t h a c aTi m e s . c o m L a r r y H o ch b e r g e r , A ss o c i a t e P u b l i s h e r , x 214 l a r r y@ I t h a c aTi m e s . c o m F r e e l a n c e r s : Barbara Adams, Rick Blaisell, Steve Burke, Deirdre Cunningham, Jane Dieckmann, Amber Donofrio, Karen Gadiel, Charley Githler, Linda B. Glaser, Warren Greenwood, Ross Haarstad, Peggy Haine, Gay Huddle, Austin Lamb, Steve Lawrence, Marjorie Olds, Lori Sonken, Henry Stark, Dave Sit, Bryan VanCampen, and Arthur Whitman


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Upon the return in January, a COVID-19 testing program will be implemented to support in-person learning for those who have selected that options. Brown said they are still coordinating the testing program but will provide further updates when it is finalized. Free grab-and-go meals (breakfast and lunch) will

T a n n e r H a r d i n g , M a n a g i n g E d i t o r , x 224 E d i t o r @ I t h a c aTi m e s . c o m J a i m e C o n e , E d i t o r , x 232 SouthReporter@flcn.org C a s e y M a r t i n , S ta f f P h o t o g r a p h e r P h o t o g r a p h e r @ I t h a c aTi m e s . c o m C h r i s I b e r t , C a l e n d a r E d i t o r , x 217 A r t s @ I t h a c aTi m e s . c o m A n d r e w S u l l i v a n , S p o r t s E d i t o r , x 227 Sports@flcn.org Steve L awrence, Spo rts Co lumnist St e v e S p o r t sD u d e @ g m a i l .co m M a r s h a l l H o p k i n s , P r o d u c t i o n D i r ec t o r / D es i g n e r , x 216 P r o d u c t i o n @ I t h a c aTi m e s . c o m

continue to be available at Boynton Middle School, LACS, and Fall Creek Elementary School from 10 a.m. to noon every virtual learning day. Home delivery forms will continue to be available on the district’s website. Call the Food Service Office at (607) 274-2302 if you need to make special arrangements for food delivery.

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All rights reserved. Events are listed free of charge in TimesTable. All copy must be received by Friday at noon. The Ithaca Times is available free of charge from various locations around Ithaca. Additional copies may be purchased from the Ithaca Times offices for $1. SUBSCRIPTIONS: $89 one year. Include check or money order and mail to the Ithaca Times, PO Box 27, Ithaca, NY 14851. ADVERTISING: Deadlines are Monday 5 p.m. for display, Tuesday at noon for classified. Advertisers should check their ad on publication. The Ithaca Times will not be liable for failure to publish an ad, for typographical error, or errors in publication except to the extent of the cost of the space in which the actual error appeared in the first insertion. The publisher reserves the right to refuse advertising for any reason and to alter advertising copy or graphics deemed unacceptable for publication. The Ithaca Times is published weekly Wednesday mornings. Offices are located at 109 N. Cayuga Street, Ithaca, NY 14850 607-277-7000, FAX 607-277-1012, MAILING ADDRESS is PO Box 27, Ithaca, NY 14851. The Ithaca Times was preceded by the Ithaca New Times (1972-1978) and The Good Times Gazette (1973-1978), combined in 1978. F o u n d e r G o o d T i m e s G a z e tt e : Tom Newton

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N e w s l i n e


PHOTOGRAPHER By C a se y Mar tin


“Netflix subscription and a solid internet connection.” -Liam M & Rachel C.

“Animal Crossing and LOTS of coffee!” -Ben B. & Jennifer Y.

“Video games (Switch!), Disney + and lots of water.” -Aidan G, Bailey W & Sebastian P.

“Getting outside as much as possible… and a Sourdough Starter…it’ll take longer than you think!” -Melissa P & Joh G.

“Negronis, puzzles and a good set of hair cutting shears!” -Sappho H. & Jane W.

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LEAD program receives $900,000 grant


he Ithaca Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Program (LEAD), an organization dedicated to reorienting typical responses to crimes and helping those suffering from addiction, poverty and mental health issues, was awarded a $900,000 grant, the City of Ithaca announced Nov. 25. The grant was awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Program (COSSAP) which similarly works to support access to treatment and recovery services in the criminal justice system. The funds will be spread out over a period of three years and will be distributed among LEAD, the Greater Ithaca Activities Center (GIAC) and the REACH (Respectful, Equitable Access to Compassionate Healthcare) project, a non-profit which provides healthcare to people struggling with addiction. REACH will use part of the grant money to hire caseworkers to help those who enter the program. The Ithaca Police Department will also be receiving money as part of the grant, primarily to pay for the officers’ overtime cost of attending monthly LEAD meetings and LEAD-run training sessions on equity and diversity. Travis Brooks, LEAD project manager and Deputy Director of GIAC, made it clear that while the police department is receiving portions of the grant, they are not in charge of LEAD. “I think a lot of people, when they hear law enforcement assistance, they say, ‘Oh here's another program for the police,’” he said. “It's a tool for the police, but it's not their program,


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it's actually the community's program and the community is supervising the implementation and the work of LEAD.” Although Ithaca LEAD orig-

Covid.” As Gloria Coicou, community liaison describes it, LEAD is an “umbrella program” that encompasses and works with

Travis Brooks, LEAD project manager and Deputy Director of GIAC (Photo, Casey Martin)

inated in 2017, it did not have enough funds to get past the concept stage. “We were busy designing the program, but were never able to flip the switch because we lacked funding, but now we can,” Ithaca mayor Svante Myrick said. “It's validation that we were on the right track all along.” Brooks said he was inspired to bring LEAD to Ithaca after hearing and touring the LEAD National Support Bureau which oversees all LEAD operations. “I think LEAD is kind of like a catchall that meets people who are falling through the cracks.” Brooks said. ‘For me it was that we could finally bring this program to the community and do it right and not have to put the ownership of funding on anybody especially during

pre-existing organizations like REACH and GIAC. The grant comes at a crucial time in Ithaca amidst local and nationwide calls to defund the police and the City’s ongoing reimagining public safety collaborative, which seeks public input on police reform. “Here's an opportunity to say, ‘look, here's some issues you have to address here's a program that's developed nationally,’” Brooks said. “All you’ve got to do is bring it to your community, implement it and work it the way it's supposed to be done and we can actually make a difference in this area.” Amy Gecan, director of finance and strategy for the REACH Project, helped write the grant proposal and said a driving factor behind the pro-

posal was detailing racial disparity in policing in Ithaca. “I think the thing that we focused on the most is the fact that using the current and historical arrest data … we found that Black people were arrested at 8 times their per capita rate in terms of what percentage of the population they represented in Tompkins County,” she said. “That was really powerful, I think, in shaping the narrative because it told a really compelling story that Black people are disproportionately affected by potentially divertable arrests compared to white people.” Coicou added that the COVID-19 pandemic has also increased the need for LEAD in the community. “People are out of work, bills are piling up and people are losing hope, so some people turn to crime or drug dealing, these low level offenses,” she said. “Rather than these people having a criminal record that follows them around for the rest of their lives, they’re given a second chance and then given the support and the resources to lift them up.” Brendan Cox, director of policing strategies for the LEAD national support bureau said Ithaca is unique in that there are so many people pushing for the program’s success. “I’ve been to Ithaca a couple times now since I’ve started this job and It's clear that the stakeholders, the community, everybody wants to do this,” he said. “The fact that Ithaca was successfully able to apply for the COSSAP grant and now have that funding just means that now they’ll be able to take off and finally do what they’ve been planning to do for so long. Rya n Bieber


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Officials discuss reimagining police, funding alternative agencies

fficials faced some tough questions and criticisms from residents on Dec. 11 at a public forum about the reimagining police process as people asked about trust and what is currently being done to change policing. Right off the bat, people wanted to know why they should trust the government in this process. Mayor Svante Myrick said he understands the hesitation, but that he feels like this time is different. “I think there’s evidence of this change,” he said. “The intense community input has never happened before.” He said that fixing the problem in public safety is dependent on fixing the racial discrimination, particularly anti-Black racism, within the justice system. “[Racism] has been the case in America for as long as there’s been an America,” he said. “Past reform has stalled out because people in power couldn’t admit that. Without acknowledging that, we can’t agree on any of the needed steps. This summer really changed things. The murder of George Floyd, the uprising that followed […] in my 13 years of public service I have never seen such unanimity among officials that anti-Black racism is a problem in our system. That gives me confidence that this effort will be different.” Both County Sheriff Derek Osborne and Ithaca Police Chief Dennis Nayor agreed that public approval is critical to their jobs, and that they’re hoping to achieve that through this process. “Everything is meaningless if the public we serve doesn’t support us and trust us,” Nayor said. “I think this movement and reform is a great example of that. I think what we’re going to be able to do is learn how we can better be the police departments that the communities we

serve want us to be.” The group — Myrick, Nayor, Osborne and County Administrator Jason Molino — also discussed the working groups, and why there aren’t many community members involved. Molino explained that the groups are city and county staff that have specific backgrounds in this area, but that they were working off of the suggestions from the community voice forums. Myrick added that they didn’t want to put the burden on the public. “This is a tough thing to design, to figure out how to get people’s input without burning them out,” he said. “And the truth is, we have folks on staff and we should rely on them to do the work. The community can give input and expect the work to flow […] Working groups aren’t there to decide where to go, they’re here to curate the ideas from the community and do the footwork to get us ahead.” Echoing the calls of protesters for months, one of the questions asked the group for their thoughts on defunding the police. Nayor focused less on taking funding away from his department and more on adding funds to others. “So many things the police are called to do are better suited for others, and should be

filtered to others,” he said. “So how can we find ways to fund other services so the things we are doing can go to the correvct entity and we can connect more with the community and do more preventative policing? How do we fund those other things we need?” Myrick agreed, and said that by funding other agencies, the police budget would likely decrease over time. “We really do need to fund alternatives,” he said. “We have to pay other people to do more […] If by defund the police you mean reduce the department by 80%, we’re not going to do that. But we can find alternatives so that 20, 30, 40% of call volumes are sent to other agencies. We absolutely should take that course. So it depends on what your definition of defund the police is. We need to fund alternatives and need to ask the criminal justice system to handle less. Then we’ll have less discriminatory and less violent outcomes.” The follow up question, of course, was why not defund the police by that 80%? The answer, Myrick said, is that it’s just not realistic in the society we live in. “In the City of Ithaca, especially in the daytime, we have about 100,000 people in Ithaca,” he said. “We normally have six officers. Could we do that

with […] one officer? No. We have as many guns as people in this county, and […] the City of Ithaca is still part of this county. We do exist in that broader reality.” He said that to get to the point where we need fewer police, we have to build a better society. “Building the kind of community that doesn’t require such intensive police coverage I do believe is possible,” he said. “If we had better policies — housing first policies, higher minimum wages, more affordable housing, better and earlier mental health support — and if we had universal and universally affordable healthcare treatment you would need fewer police officers. But do you slash the police department and figure it out from there or build that better world gradually? […] I say this as someone who isn’t unsympathetic to the idea that funding social supports can lead to less crime, we have to build the world we want to live in before we pull out that safety net.” However, one resident asked that if more funds need to go to social programs and the police budget is around $13 million, then wouldn’t it make sense to defund the police in favor of those programs? Myrick said it was more complicated than that, and that the city would need way more money than any amount it could pillage from the police budget and that it would have to come through taxes. “A progressive tax, where we tax not only income but wealth, would build a society with less crime,” he said. “But even in those societies, like the Netherlands, they still have a baseline of public safety. It’s not like if we build bike lanes we don’t need sidewalks. You need both.”

Vaccine alert The FDA approved the first COVID vaccine, and the first batch is arriving in Tompkins County this week. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Another nursing home death The county continues to break its own records as daily COVID cases continually increase, and a fifth death was recorded at Oak Hill Manor Nursing Home.

HEARD&SEEN Open seat Third Ward Alderperson Fleming has announced that she will not seek re-election when her current term ends on Dec. 31, 2021. Candidates for the position will likely need to declare their intentions by late February 2021. “Great artists steal” A mysterious monolith appeared in McDaniels Park on Monday. It’s a vertical slab of metal, just like the ones popping up in other places around the country. We’re not saying it’s aliens...but it’s probably aliens.

IF YOU CARE TO RESPOND to something in this column, or suggest your own grievances or praise, write news@ithacatimes.com, with a subject head “U&D.”

-Ta n n e r H a r d i n g


When they go low, I go... 60.9% High 8.7% Lower 30.4% High to middling

N ext Week ’s Q uestion :

Will you now acknowledge Biden as the President Elect? Visit ithaca.com to submit your response.

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New Year, New Choice A

Death (and life) on the airwaves

By M a rc e l G e m m e s we look back at 2020 and ahead to the New Year, we should be worried. At least 250,000 people in the United States have died of COVID-19 since February, and many health experts believe that we are just now entering the deadliest phase. And it has already been one of the deadliest events in American history. So why has America been unable to control this virus when others have “dodged the bullet” or had a swift, minimal impact?   Collectively, we’re not on the same page. We’ve been divided into two groups; people who care and people who don’t.   Of course, this isn’t true. Everybody cares. It’s just that we’re all different. Retired, high-risk seniors will have a different outlook than the younger, healthy person with children to feed. Just like the health professional will feel differently than the tour guide about businesses being closed down.   This pandemic has driven many into poverty and welfare dependence for the first time in their lives. Others have lost family members or become ill themselves. We cannot expect anyone else to feel how we do about this highly unusual situation or behave the same. But what we can hope for is responsibility.  

Responsibility is tricky because it’s always about more than us. A person cannot be only responsible for themselves because that violates the definition of responsibility. Selfish people are always irresponsible because in taking care of themselves only, they neglect or injure others. We must take care of each other. It’s too simple to say that everyone needs to stay home and stay safe. We all need food. Many of us have jobs. All of us have cabin fever.   Each of us is doing what we think is right and best given our own circumstances.  Hypocrisy abounds in the current climate. We’ve all been at the store where the employee bumps into us while they’re putting up social distancing signs. Or we have a doctor who advised us to stay home for the holidays but is secretly traveling across the country to see their family. Let’s face it; everyone thinks they’re right.  Some believe that restrictions are needed — more closures, rules, and consequences for not following them.  But nobody wants to be told what to do, and

By St e ph e n Bu r k e

continued on page 7

Offset lithograph by John Lennon and Yoko Ono


t was 40 years ago this month that John Lennon was killed. The news traveled fast for those prewired days. Someone from ABC television happened to be at Roosevelt Hospital when Lennon arrived there dead. The staffer hurriedly called the network, which immediately had its Monday Night Football sportscasters announce the stark fact

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of the murder live from their game booth, with no involvement from a news team nor any other refinement or delay, to millions of stunned viewers. The news arrived in Ithaca disjointedly, as many households went without television in those days, when free reception was spotty and cable was underdeveloped. I got the news in a phone call from friends who


ITHACA NOTES Contin u ed From Page 6

had gone to a bar in Collegetown to see the football game. Media has again brought Lennon’s death to mind, first in a trickle, then a flood. I didn’t make the connection with December 8, 1980 the first time this month that I heard Lennon’s “Imagine” on the radio. By the third or fourth time I did. Probably such a milestone shouldn’t be ignored. Still, the memory of such a detestable act and traumatic time can be unpleasant and unwanted. John Kennedy’s family, for example, makes a point of commemorating his birthday in May, not his assassination in November. Media seems to add grimness to much that it touches. Just minutes ago I heard radio news with the words “chaos” and “anger,” the phrase “dividing the country,” and the sentence “All the options are bad.” This was on a responsible NPR station, not an alarmist or extremist one. WRVO, an NPR station heard in Ithaca, this week broadcast a syndicated interview with James Patterson, the best-selling crime author. In time for the anniversary of Lennon’s death, Patterson has released a new book, “The Last Days of John Lennon.” The book is not an examination of Lennon’s life or work. It is described as a “thriller” about his death. The interview made clear, although inadvertently, that Patterson has little knowledge of Lennon’s stature as a man or musician, with interest only in his murder. The word “exploitation” did not come up in the segment, although the interviewer asked Patterson whether his book gives to Lennon’s murderer a large measure of the attention he sought through his act. Patterson said, “I think that’s an issue for other books, but not this one.” He didn’t say why he thinks that, nor anything more on the subject. Possibly a response of “Yes, but in this case it’s alright because I’ll make a lot of money from it” would have been impolitic and unpleasant to say publicly. Of course, it is pleasant to hear Lennon’s music on the radio no matter what, even limitedly. It tends to happen every December when “Imagine” is played toward the

beginning of the month and “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” toward the end. Lennon’s catalog of music is vast and varied, but normally does not get much airplay. These two December songs probably fall below the median in esteem among his most devoted fans, and the somewhat fawning and exclusive focus on them doesn’t help, but to less zealous fans the appeal is undeniable and should be appreciated. Even jaded fans can marvel at the popularity enjoyed by these two songs despite some typically irreverent lyrics by Lennon, forever an avatar of audacity. “Imagine” begins, “Imagine there’s no heaven, it’s easy if you try; no hell below us, above us only sky,” which is not necessarily an agreeable sentiment for fundamentalists or conservatives. The same applies to the later lyric, “Imagine there’s no countries, it isn’t hard to do; nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too.” “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” is a seasonal song with an anti-war message added. It was released in 1971, at the height of the war by the U.S. government in southeast Asia. The chorus of “War is over, if you want it” is more innocent than virulent, but has aspects of personal empowerment, political resolve, and leftleaning advocacy unusual for a holiday song, or maybe any. This week a colleague of mine wore a Beatles t-shirt to work. She is too young to know the Beatles first-hand but said she knows their music well. The wearing of the t-shirt was coincidental, but I mentioned Lennon’s two December songs and asked what she thought about them. She said she liked them and thought the simplicity of the songs was a strength. “They have peace and love messages simplified to terms applicable to anyone,” she said, “to take to heart.” And, it seems, to last years.

GUEST OPINION Contin u ed From Page 6

the people already not following rules don’t ordinarily take well to directives. Or consequences. And the people wishing for this don’t themselves want to be controlled. They want to be trusted to think for themselves and make their own choices. Instead of just offering up condescending suggestions about how wearing a mask isn’t that hard, health professionals

like the CDC could instead offer up solutions. Virtual celebrations, outdoor gatherings, or anything else that makes people feel cared for and respected is the kind of communication that creates change. And since we’re all the ones suffering, whether from illness or loss of liberties, we can each choose to take some responsibility for each other and start working together.  

Re: Dogs on the Commons


am pleading with you to delay any action to allow dogs on the Commons. I have come before you about the impacts of this. Living on the Commons for about 10 years, I know all its noise issues. The concrete and narrow corridor amplifies sounds of all times, and is cumulative. COVID also has kept us at home more, not able to escape a noisy situation. Dog barking is continuous at all hours of day and night and unpredictable, unlike a set time of events and concerts. There are also busker musicians with dogs that bark. We do not have enough police, if at all, to come prompt to a noise complaint. Dogs pee on the Commons and poop. Cleaning up poop will leave a smear which still gets stepped on and transported by wheels and shoes to indoor environments, which many are carpeted. Pressure cleaning can disseminate feces further and be airborn. Like the past bird droppings. The city also will bear the expenses of extra labor and cleaning. Staff that works on beautifying the Commons planters can be subjected to the poop. Dogs bark and fight with each other. Events now on the Commons are crowded with dogs at close quarters. Some people feel unsafe and uncomfortable. More dogs will guarantee dog noises, which are unpredictable. I have experienced all of the above and dog owners, which some can be irresponsible. It is not true that tourists don’t respect the rules. I have encountered many who do with caring and respect. The laws of the Commons don’t have to be unwelcoming. We have them so we can coexist and acknowledging that dogs do have an impact, which without the laws are hard to control. Taking the dog rules away will leave no protection of unruly dogs and irresponsible dog owners. We must have more emphasis on education through public outreach in our tourist pamphlets, info, website and Commons representatives. We have a number of laws protecting the Commons, chipping away at them will only serve to a place of uncooperation. The process also must be democratic. We need a public hearing, one that is postCOVID where people can be physically at Common Council chambers with all parties concerned. I ask for a delay in any action to reverse the existing law. Please take the time to reflect on these concerns. -Fay Gougakis, Ithaca, NY

On helping child care centers


OVID-19 has triggered serious financial problems for child care centers in Tompkins County. Social distancing rules have required that child care preschool classrooms reduce their size by 2-5 fewer children per class, signifying a loss in revenue of approximately $2,000 - $5,000/month per classroom. Due to NYS Licensing rules about De c e mb e r

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ratios, classrooms cannot proportionally reduce staffing. Child care centers normally operate with tight budgets and, given these losses, are at risk of closure. We are college students concerned about the child care sector as we recognize the ripple effects the economy and families. Child care provides critical social infrastructure for the community; it is integral to child development, allows parents to work, and helps employers. Prior to COVID-19, Tompkins County experienced a shortage of child care spaces. Losing additional centers would further hinder workforce participation. We have joined with Cornell retired faculty to create an intergenerational coalition to save child care centers in Tompkins County. We encourage readers to donate to the Adopt a Classroom campaign to help child care centers weather the pandemic. Cornell University and the Tompkins County Community Foundation are providing matching contributions, so your dollar will go twice as far. The Child Development Council will distribute funds to area centers in need. We’ve created a campaign infographic at https://www.childdevelopmentcouncil.org/adopt-a-classroom/ and would be happy to present to your community group if needed. -Olivia Gee and Pete Assakul, Cornell students

THE TALK AT Re: Ithaca police arrest man for armed robbery in Wegmans parking lot Can't even sit in the Wegmans parking lot anymore without being worried about armed robbery? Get it together Ithaca. This is getting ridiculous. -Seymour the Bluebird, via Ithaca.com

Re: DeWitt tech teachers, students keep creating despite COVID Both of these technology engineering teachers exemplify what it means to be an educator. They have been challenged to respond to new and extremely arduous circumstances within which to further student participation and, most critical, student engagement! If you needed to point to one highly successful effort to defy Covid 19 in the school environment, this is it. Hats off to the students, the teachers, and the Dewitt admin staff to encourage and lovingly support this terrific program! Go Team Tiger! -Evie Weinstein, via Ithaca.com David Buchner, Carson Case, and the whole Tech team are so awesome! Thank you Ithaca Times for writing such a great article about a truly dedicated group of teachers and students!!! -Hardy Griffin, via Ithaca.com

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Bus Dreams

Transportation officials explore equivtable, efficient public transport in Tompkins County By Ta n n e r H a r di ng

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n Montpelier, Vermont, you can summon a public bus to pick you up right where you are, and drop you off exactly where you want to go using an app or by a phone call. It’s a way to transform public transportation into a more efficient and equitable system for the people who live there. The concept is called micro-transit, and some transportation officials in Ithaca are wondering if it might work here too. “Maybe you’d drive and park at Wegmans or Lowe’s or wherever and then get shuttled into town to your work location,” Fred Schoeps, a board member at Downtown Ithaca Alliance and member of the Transportation Demand Management Committee said. “Or, you’re in town and want to get something at Wegmans, so you’d call a bus from the app and be dropped off wherever you want. We want people who are not in the city and can’t just walk to our core downtown to have an affordable service that would be equal to using a car, or near equal.” However, transportation isn’t so straightforward in a county with scattered rural communities and a lake dividing it. And that’s to say nothing of wealth disparities that have forced lower income people out of the walkable downtown core and into more rural areas. There’s no easy answer when it comes to figuring out the most convenient and most equitable way to provide transport options to Ithaca and its surrounding communities. “How do you develop routes for any kind of transportation that’s going to have the ridership to be cost effective?” Mobility, Accessibility & Transportation Commission chair Eric Lerner asked. “The chronic issue for TCAT is that there are a few hours of the day — morning, lunch time, evening rush hour — when buses can be very crowded, but they run empty the rest of the day. People see that and say ‘what a waste of money.’” He did note, though, that getting fewer cars in downtown Ithaca has been the goal of many people for a long time. “Getting fewer cars in the city is what everyone wants to do but it’s really hard,” he said. “If your daily routine is driving into downtown Ithaca to work at the bank and you live in Lansing or Trumansburg, there are going to be days you want to pick up the dry cleaning or get the kids from daycare.” Currently, TCAT executive director Scot Vanderpool describes the bus routes as a “hub and spoke type thing.” “Tompkins County is a pretty sprawled out area, so we have routes that concentrate

schedule a pick-up time for a bus through an app to help rural residents access existing bus routes, and accommodates multiple pick-up and drop-off locations beyond fixed-route connections. Riders can schedule trips to a TCAT bus stop, as well as Cayuga Mall, Ithaca Airport, the post office, Convenient Care at Ithaca and the Tompkins County Pubic Safety building (jail and sheriff ’s office). The program launched Aug. 30 and is currently only available on the weekends, but Vanderpool said it was an effort to ensure people who were priced out of Ithaca and the downtown areas of the smaller towns could still access transportation services. “It’s really an equity issue,” he said. “We want to try to help some of the folks that are more rural.” He said it’s part of a bigger goal to solve some of the problems TCAT riders have, and added that microtransit could also be part of that solution. “It’s not out of the picture for us,” he said. “We could do something like that as well, and we should be thinking about [micro-transit] and how that would work for us. We could replace the 40-foot transit buses and be able Fred Schoeps, a board member at Downtown to get people where Ithaca Alliance (Photo: Provided) they need to go. There are a lot of plusses there.” do, but it’s hard financially.” He said that he’d be interested in pilotHe added that people have also commented that the transfer service between ing it in a community like Dryden to see lines isn’t the most convenient thing for how it might work, and that his willingness riders, which is where something like to explore options comes from his belief that TCAT’s purpose is to get people where Montpelier’s micro-transit could come in. “The initial goal for [Montpelier] is the they need to go. “If it’s going to help people get to esbus will be there in 15 minutes from when you requested it, and get you there in 10 sential services, get to job interviews, that didn’t have a chance before, then that’s a minutes or less,” Schoeps said. success in itself,” he said. “It’s not just about No transfers required. Though not quite on the scale of Mont- the number of folks we’re carrying on a daipelier’s transportation overhaul, TCAT has ly basis.” However, as with everything, COVID actually begun a pilot program in Lansing to try out an idea that works similarly. has presented new challenges to public Called TConnect, the program lets riders transportation. on different hamlets,” he said. “That’s what we shoot for, the hamlets that are quite a way out, so the buses travel quite a few miles every year.” Vanderpool said that TCAT is actually in the middle of a transit development plan, and they are evaluating all available services and have had at least 30 community focus groups. “The feedback from the folks is critical to us,” he said. “The purpose is to make our service more efficient.” So as for what the feedback is? “Some people want more direct service to Wegmans, some want more service later in the evening or in the middle of the day,” he said. “Some are things we really want to

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“We’ve lost 75-80% of our ridership,” Vanderpool said. “When we’re down so much, and we don’t know when these riders are going to come back, you have to think about things a little differently.” He pointed at remote working as the biggest problem transit is facing right now, as people continue to work from home amid the ongoing pandemic. “Things will never be the same,” Vanderpool said. “People will continue to work remotely. So we really need to think out of the box and do some things differently.” In terms of how people in Ithaca get around in general, Lerner added that since the pandemic the city has seen more walkers and bikers as people look for alternatives to gyms for exercise and for safe ways to get out of their houses. And speaking of bikes, who could forget the city’s brief romance with LimeBike? The bike-share program launched in Ithaca in spring 2018, and a couple hundred bikes were brought to the city that could be rented for $1 per 30 minutes. The goal was to provide equitable transportation opportunities for low-income community members who may not be able to afford a bike, but could pay the $1 when they needed to get somewhere. There was a little bit of controversy, with some community members complaining the bikes were being left haphazardly around the city and in the way of sidewalks, but proponents readily embraced the bikes and used it to avoid traffic and decrease gas usage and greenhouse gas emissions. In the first month, the bikes racked up 10,000 rides. However, the bikes were pulled from the city in March of this year. At first, it was assumed to be in response to the pandemic, but this summer LimeBike confirmed they were pulling out of Ithaca permanently, as they were not making enough money. “We’ve reached out to other bike companies and found some players, but the energy isn’t here to bring that in,” Schoeps said. “But the issue with biking in Ithaca isn’t access to bikes, it’s the fear of safety. It’s not enough to put up a sign that says Bike Boulevard on Tioga Street, it’s about making it a bike boulevard not just in name.” So whether the solution to transportation issues in Ithaca is bikes or buses, everyone has the same goal. “We want to make life in a small city even more livable,” Schoeps said.

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Speaking His Mind By Ste ve L aw re nc e


ny longtime local sports fan will read the following statement by Dave Wohlheuter and know that truer words were never spoken: “I’m not afraid of anyone.” Dave and I both laughed when he told me that, as he is not the most physically imposing person you will ever meet. The reason he fears no one is that after 36 years as Sports Information Director (S.I.D.) at three colleges, he retired from Cornell in 1998, and as a “private citizen” (as opposed to a university spokesperson), Dave can speak his mind on topics that may stir controversy. Dave (who has been my friend, advocate and sports media consultant for nearly 40 years) and I were talking about his freedom of speech in response to a letter he recently penned to the Cornell Daily Sun. Given the topic of the letter involves Ivy League athletes, Wohlheuter also sent it to the S.I.D.s at all eight Ivy League schools, and it is a good follow-up to the story I wrote two weeks ago about the three Big Red senior basketball players who must now — as a result of the Ivy League cancelling winter sports — either

delay their graduation by a year, transfer to another school or accept the fact that their collegiate hoops days are behind them. The fact that Ivy League athletes cannot just finish their undergrad work and use up their final year of eligibility and play as grad students seems profoundly unfair, it seems to put disincentives in place, and it irritates the hell out of Dave. “Students have to delay graduation for a semester, or two, and it’s tough for families to have to come up with an extra $40,000 so a student can play that fourth year,” Wohlheuter offered. He added, “I can’t get anyone to tell me why it’s wrong to play as a grad student. This would be such a great time, when people are down about so many things, to say ‘We’re going to make a change.’” Wohlheuter had a front row seat to a great example of why he believes that the current rule is archaic, especially in a time when so many student-athletes are losing a year of playing time through absolutely no fault of their own. In 1978, Cornell’s Joe Holland put together a spectacular AllAmerican season, rushing for 1,396 yards in ten games. Joe (whose father, “Brud”

Joe Holland was a 1978 All American at Cornell, playing as a grad student. (Pictured with an image of his father.)

Holland, was an All-American standout at Cornell back in the late 1930s and later went on to be the United States Ambassador to Sweden and President of Delaware State and Hampton Institute), averaged north of five yards per carry, and he ran



wild against Harvard, rushing for 244 yards on 55 carries. Holland – a motivated and gifted student – had completed his undergrad degree in three years, and put continued on page 24

Just take a photo that you think best captures Tompkins County and send it our way. The person with the best photo submission will win $250 and another $250 will be given to a nonprofit of their choice. The winning image will also become a featured photo on a Visions VISA debit card that all members can order! Entries will only be accepted through January 31, so get them in now at visionsfcu.org/contest

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New York | New Jersey | Pennsylvania *Individual must be at least 18 years of age or older and a resident of Tompkins County, NY. (1) entry per person. Photo must be original work, appropriate for all ages, not include people, be taken in horizontal position, and must be taken in Tompkins County, NY. Entries must be uploaded at visionsfcu.org/contest; no alternate methods of entry apply. (1) winner selected by likes/reacts via Facebook; entry with the most likes/reacts votes will win. Entry period Dec. 7, 2020 to Jan. 31, 2021. Winner will be announced on Feb. 15, 2021 via social media and email. Winner must respond by Feb. 28, 2021 or prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be selected, based on the second highest number of likes/reacts. Winner will receive $250 and Visions will donate $250 to a nonprofit of their choice in Tompkins County, NY. Prize value may be reportable for tax purposes; must have valid US Social Security number to win. Winner must provide consent for their image to be reproduced in a variety of mediums and relinquishes ownership rights to the work. Winner will have a consent and release option for Visions Federal Credit Union to use their name, photo, or likeness in social media posts or future advertising and promotional materials. This contest sponsored solely by Visions Federal Credit Union, 24 McKinley Ave, Endicott, NY 13760, 800-242-2120. Federally insured by NCUA.


Trust Company emphasizes community Nirvana Foods Bazaar The cost of Christmas in Ithaca

Bangs Ambulance celebrates 75 years, amidst one of its greatest challenges yet


t seems like no year would be more fitting than 2020 to recognize how important Bangs Ambulance is to the Ithaca community. Because even if the pandemic is, in many ways, unprecedented, Bangs Ambulance’s commitment in the community has been steadfast. Bangs Ambulance was formed in October 1945 by John and Rita Bangs, who also owned Bangs Funeral Home (the funeral home is currently run by other members of the Bangs Family as a separate business). However, complex

By Marin Langlieb EMS services that can treat and transport patients is a fairly new concept, and only started nationwide around the 1960s. At the time John and Rita, a registered nurse, were forming Bangs Ambulance, there was only one vehicle that could transport patients lying down safely to the hospital — a hearse. It was Rita Bangs’ fearless dedication that formed the legacy of Bangs Ambulance today. Rita delivered over 23 babies on emergency calls, was described as “an extraordinarily good nurse with the guts of a burglar” in a 1972 profile of her in the

Ithaca Journal, and put herself in harm’s way to help those who needed her. In 1967, when a deadly fire broke out at Cornell University, and Rita was one of the first people on the scene, “enter[ing] the building time and time again… to determine with her stethoscope whether students were dead or alive,” the Syracuse Post-Standard described. After helping several students, she herself had to be carried out by a fireman and spent time recovering from smoke inhalation. Robert Kennedy, then the senator of New York,

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Left: Rita and John Bangs. Right: Courtney Tim Bangs, and Meghan Teeter (Photo: Provided)

personally reached out to thank her for her bravery. Tim Bangs, Rita’s son and the current president of Bangs Ambulance, recalls

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B usiness T imes BANGS AMBULANCE Contin u ed From Page 11

helping his mother on calls at a young age. “When I was around 15 or 16 years old, my mom would say ‘You’re coming with me in the ambulance because I might need some help lifting this patient,’” he said. “All the family members blend right into the business.” The same has been true for Tim’s own children, Meghan Teeter and Courtney Bangs, who literally grew up in the office. The building where Bangs Ambulance is currently stationed was at one point the office, the family’s home and the ambulance base station. “When Courtney and I were really little, we would run up the stairs to the attic, which was where the workers would hang out when they were on call. We got quite an earful in that environment as toddlers,” said Meghan. “My dad has always been involved so it’s always been a part of us as well.” Working alongside the Bangs family are 90 other employees who help answer over 12,000 emergency calls a year. Bangs Ambulance also works closely with students at Cornell University and Ithaca College to provide experiences in the medical field. “Students take an EMT or paramedic course and work with us for a year, and many of them go on to become doctors,” said Tim. “It’s been a very good working

Tim Bangs (Photo Ivy Castle)

relationship that we have with both campuses up there.” The family says that much of Bangs Ambulance’s success is from the close relationships they have with the community, whether it be with the colleges, other agencies like the Ithaca Police and Fire Departments, or the residents themselves. Tim noted how during the pandemic, many Ithacans have stopped by to drop off extra N95 masks and local restaurants have delivered lunch and dinners to the staff.

The COVID-19 pandemic is unlike anything Bangs Ambulance has ever experienced. The staff is on the frontline, oftentimes working in close contact with multiple COVID-19 patients a day. “What the crews go through now, how well they have to protect themselves when they are on the scene with the patient, having to go through a total disinfect of the equipment before they can go take care of the next patient. We’ve never had anything like this happen in the past,” said Tim.

Even the second spike of the pandemic has brought new challenges compared to the first. “We were fortunate that in the beginning part of the pandemic, we didn’t have any staff come down with COVID-19,” said Meghan. “Recently with this second spike up in cases, we did have a handful of staff members who tested positive and even more staff members who were put in quarantine or isolation. We’ve had to deal with decreased staffing levels for a month now.” With these challenges, it was tough for Tim to comment on where he sees Bangs Ambulance in the future. “How are we going to be in six months, nine months, a year, after what we just went through?” Tim said. “You just kind of hope that, because of what the whole medical industry has gone through, that burnout is not going to be a long-term issue.” But if there is one thing that has guided Bangs Ambulance in the past, and what will continue to shape its future, it is their mission to be there for those who need them. This includes not just the patients they treat and the community they serve, but also for each other. “Being a family-oriented organization is what differentiates us from other places. That’s what makes us special and makes our staff want to stick around,” said Meghan. “This is a hard job, but it’s easier when you’ve got a good group of people backing you.”

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B usiness T imes

Tompkins Trust Company emphasizes community, with philanthropy By Tanner Harding that,” he said. “Part of our culture is that our folks learn when they join the company what our values are. We have six core values, and one is a commitment to the community we serve.” He added that it isn’t enough to just put it down on paper, but that it needs to be practiced. “It wouldn’t mean a whole lot if we didn’t live it,” he said. “We are so fortunate to live in a community that has so many really dedicated notfor-profit organizations that make the quality of life what it is here. We all benefit from that. So whether it’s a youth organization, mental health services, job services, whatever it is, we all benefit from those things.” When it comes to his favorite event of the year, Hartz said it was the James J. Byrnes Awards for Excellence — a Tompkins Trust foundation that recognizes local volunteers, named for Jim Byrnes, the former CEO. The awards recognize between six and eight people who are “almost always unsung heroes of the community,” Hartz said. “Anyone can nominate somebody to win an award,” he said. “These are people who spend their lives donating their time, talent and energy. It’s a nice recognition.” In addition to the recognition, each winner gets to designate a charity to receive between $1,000 and $2,000 on their behalf, paid for by Tompkins Trust Company. As for the receipt of their own award, Hartz said Tompkins Trust was honored to be recognized by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, a group who he said shines a light on philanthropy. He also thanked the Sciencenter, which is the organization that nominated Tompkins Trust. “They’re a critically important organization [in Ithaca],” he said. “So I just want to thank them for the work they do.”

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he team at Tompkins Trust Company doesn’t just talk the talk when it comes to philanthropy — they walk the walk, as evidenced by the Finger Lakes Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals awarding them Corporate Philanthropist of the Year. “Philanthropy, or supporting the community, is one of the core values of our company,” Tompkins Trust Company CEO and President Greg Hartz said. “It’s truly a cornerstone of being a community bank.” Hartz estimates he and his employees work with a couple hundred organizations across the Southern Tier in some capacity or another. In addition to the 100 or so organizations the company supports financially, there are an equal number that benefit from the volunteer work of employees. Additionally, the company encourages employees to get involved with their communities through the things that interest them, whether it be joining the school board or an arts organization or a youth organization. “A lot of our people serve either as volunteers or in board positions,” Hartz said. One of the events Tompkins Trust itself put on this year was called Banksgiving, in which the company supported local food pantries and non-profits like Loaves & Fishes. Hartz said early on in the pandemic they also did food collection for essential workers. “And then we make financial contributions to most of the local not-for-profits in some form or another,” he said. “Everything from arts organizations like the Hangar Theatre and the Kitchen Theatre Company to human service organizations, like the Child Development Council and GIAC. Those are just some off the top of my head.” Financial support aside, Hartz said one of the most important things to him is fostering a culture of philanthropy and community support at Tompkins Trust. “Every organization has a culture, and there’s a lot of things that go into

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B usiness T imes Ithaca Index

The Cost of Christmas in Ithaca Every year since 1983, PNC Bank has checked the prices on all twelve items mentioned in the age-old song “The Twelve Days of Christmas”.

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Elia Kacapyr


n 2020 the PNC the Christmas Price Index fell a whopping 58.5 percent. It turns out that the items for days nine thru twelve are not available due to Covid-19 restrictions. You cannot get Nine Ladies Dancing this year but the virtual performance is free. The same with ten Lords-ALeaping, eleven Pipers Piping, and twelve Drummers Drumming. Given the free virtual performances, the bank estimates that it would cost someone’s True Love $16,168.14 to purchase all twelve items in the amounts stipulated by the song. This is down from $38,993.59 in 2019. But consider this: No one likes a virtual gift. Every year since 1993, the Department of Economics at Ithaca College has checked the prices on twenty typical holiday items in Ithaca. Every effort is made to purchase the exact same item in the same store each year. When this is not possible,

a similar item or a different store is substituted. This year the twenty items cost $799.83, up from $739.03 last year. This amounts to an increase of $60.80, or 9.3 percent. Only three items fell in price: flour (down 10.8 percent to $2.49), ice cream (down 4.4 percent to $4.39, and white wine (down 56.3 percent to $14.99). Many items held steady in price including the IC sweatshirt. We did not include the shipping fee even though it would take a Christmas miracle to get into the IC bookstore to buy it. Several items increased in price but the main culprit was the diamond stud earrings. They are back up to $349.00 after dropping down to $299.99 last year. Unlike True Love, we had to pay a sales tax on many of the items in our bundle. That was up 9.93 percent to 55.25. And no one on our list got any virtual gifts.

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Sujata and Sanjay Behuria

he Nirvana Foods Bazaar is one of many innovative businesses in downtown Ithaca. Owned and run solely by couple Sujata and Sanjay Behuria, the Indian eatery combines the convenience of international grocery and ingredients with the quality of an in-store restaurant. Taking inspiration from the many places the Behurias have lived over the years, the Nirvana Foods Bazaar delivers big flavors and a compelling story behind them. Prior to settling down in the U.S. in 2009, Sanjay and Sujata lived in India, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Dubai, where Sanjay worked as a financial consultant and Sujata, a schoolteacher. “I never liked being a banker from the day I started to the day I gave it up 35 years later,” Sanjay admits. “But I needed the money! We worked hard for this for many years. It took a long time but it happened. That’s how life comes around and around and around.” Nevertheless, the couple’s travels throughout the Middle East and Africa help to inform many of the flavors and cooking used in their eatery today. “We use the same Marsala, but it never tastes the same as it did the last time. There’s a lot of variation,” explained Sujata. The idea for starting their own local business was first planted into their heads in 1998 when the couple visited their son, Srujan, in Rochester where he studied at the Rochester Institute of Technology. While there, Sujata was praised for her biryani

recipe, a mixed rice dish with meat that uses Indian spices and yogurt. She was told by anyone who tried her dish that she should stay in the Rochester area to make biryani for the local college town. The couple went back to India however, but their idea to start a food service that brought people together continued to grow. After many years of being a reluctant banker and a move to the U.S. in 2009, Sanjay and Sujata finally decided to purchase a space for a local convenience store in 2018. The Collegetown Mini Mart became Your Own Variety Store and although it served its purpose for a while, Sanjay still felt unsatisfied with their business. “Well, I used to say, when people asked me how I was doing, ‘I have a lot of fun, but the joy is missing,’ because people come for their groceries and then leave. But I wanted to be able to make people food.” Thus, the couple’s new selfdescribed retirement plan became the Nirvana Foods Bazaar. Using a unique business model, Sanjay and Sujata provide the community with their best recipes and Indian grocery. “Normally, a store and eatery is not a popular thing; it’s probably popular in villages, but in cities, people don’t understand that concept, so I had to do a lot of explaining [at first],” Sanjay describes. “You can buy online groceries, you can order online food, and you can walk in and say, ‘I need food,’ and you can sit on

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Tompkins Financial Corporation has hired Aurelia Mensh as the Human Resources Business Partner. She will report to Bonita Lindberg, SVP Director of Human Resources. Mensh, who was previously employed by Naval Nuclear Laboratory, will be responsible for aligning the HR objectives of Tompkins Financial with employees and management in Tompkins affiliates. Additionally, Mensh will formulate partnerships across the HR function to deliver value-added service to Tompkins affiliates' management and employees. “We are very pleased to have Aurelia join the Tompkins Team in this new role. Her education and experience are a terrific match for our company,” stated Lindberg. “As the HR Business Partner for our Shared Services Team, I’m certain she’ll quickly make a very positive contribution not only to those team members but to our overall Human Resources function.” Mensh holds a Bachelor of Science in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Connecticut School of Law. She lives in Ithaca with her husband Aaron, son Sam, and daughter Nora. Tompkins Financial Corporation is a financial services company

Visions Federal Credit Union announces book program

Ithaca, NY – Visions Federal Credit Union helped the Children’s Reading Connection (CRC) launch their new READ.SING.LOVE. BOOKS campaign at their soon-tobe-open Ithaca branch location at 410 Elmira Road near Home Depot and Kohl’s. Visions committed $17,500 from their Visions Cares initiative to support the community-wide literacy campaign. $10,000 of this commitment was donated as a matching grant challenging the Tompkins County community to step up their support of the CRC. This donation from Visions will help the CRC fulfill its commitment to provide every Pre-K and Head Start child in Tompkins County a set of books that will come as special gifts before the holidays. This will also allow the CRC to provide the Sing Me a Story set, which consists of six books read and sung by John Simon and Cal Walker. Every Ithaca Central School District

B usiness T imes Pre-K child and Pre-K child at the Downand mortgage assistance, and even have town Ithaca Children’s Center will receive an outdoor amphitheater for local and a set. Sets will also go to all of the public Visions-hosted events. libraries in Tompkins County so that famiRules: One entry per person. Must be lies across the area can check them out. original work, appropriate for all ages, not “Learning to read is a foundational include people, be taken in horizontal pobuilding block for many successes in life. sition, and be taken in Tompkins County, Through our unique partnership with the New York.* Children’s Reading Connection, we are putting books in the hands of those who need them most – and helping to unlock doors to unlimited potential by doing so,” said Timothy Strong, Community Development Manager at Visions Federal Credit Union. Visions Cares is a way for the credit union to show their commitment to the communities they are part of. Visions Cares celebrates all that Visions does to help make the communities in their various markets better. The donation helped Visions surpass their yearly goal of donating at least $1 million to organizations throughout their communities. “Now more than ever in this time of uncertainly and stress, children need the calm and comfort of children's books and read-aloud experiences. Visions has helped Children's Reading Connection give families what they need in this time of crisis. These books will build a strong foundation for literacy, learning, love, and life,” said Brigid Hubberman, President and CEO of Children’s Reading Connection. Those interested in learning more about Visions can visit their website or stop by their new, local office once it opens in February. It will have a full-service teller line, help with loan and mortgage assistance, and even have an outdoor Cindy Armstrong amphitheater for local and Visions-hosted events.

Tompkins Financial Corporation Hires Cindy Armstrong as Commercial Banking Relationship Manager

Visions FCU Presents the Tompkins County Debit Card Photo Contest Visions Federal Credit Union is looking for individuals to submit their best photographs of picturesque Tompkins County. The individual who sends in the best photo will win $250 and another $250 will be given to a nonprofit organization of their choice. The winning image will also become a featured photo on a Visions VISA debit card that will be available for all members to order. This is an exciting new opportunity leading up to the opening of the Visions branch in Ithaca this February. Entries will only be accepted until January 31 and the winner will be announced on February 15 via social media and email. All Tompkins County residents over the age of 18 are eligible. Submissions can be made online at visionsfcu.org/contest. Those interested in learning more about Visions can visit their website or stop by their new, local office once it opens. Located at 410 Elmira Road near Home Depot and Kohl’s, it will have a full-service teller line, help with loan

Tompkins Financial Corporation has hired Cindy Armstrong as Commercial Banking Relationship Manager. She will report to Karen Parkes, Senior Vice President of Commercial Banking. Armstrong has 33 years of combined experience in the financial industry. In her new role with Tompkins Financial, she will be responsible for growing a portfolio of clients by servicing existing clients and building new prospective relationships. “We are thrilled to welcome Cynthia to the Trust Company,” said Parkes. “With her financial background and quality customer service skills, she is well positioned to contribute significantly to our team.” Armstrong holds an Associates Degree in Marketing/Management from SUNY Broome and is working towards completing a dual Bachelors to MBA program in Business Administration at Excelsior College. She holds Omega Certifications in Commercial Loans to Business, Financial Accounting, and Commercial Real Estate. Additionally, Armstrong serves as Treasurer and Executive Board Member of Goodwill Theatre.

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Tompkins Financial Corporation is a financial services company serving the Central, Western, and Hudson Valley regions of New York and the Southeastern region of Pennsylvania. Headquartered in Ithaca, NY, Tompkins Financial is parent to Tompkins Trust Company, Tompkins Bank of Castile, Tompkins Mahopac Bank, Tompkins VIST Bank, Tompkins Insurance Agencies, Inc., and offers wealth management services through Tompkins Financial Advisors. For more information on Tompkins Financial, visit www. tompkinsfinancial.com.

Cloud software startup raises $1M, signs pilot deal The pandemic might have ended Exotanium’s ambitions before the cloudoptimization company even got off the ground. The startup – launched in 2018 by Hakim Weatherspoon, associate professor of computer science; Robbert van Renesse, professor of computer science; and postdoctoral researcher Zhiming Shen, Ph.D. ’17 – was in the midst of fundraising when COVID-19 hit. “We could have easily been forced to shut our doors,” said Weatherspoon, CEO of Exotanium, which has created software tools to help companies save money on running software in the cloud. With the help of the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Plan and advice from mentors at Cornell’s Praxis Center for Venture Development, Exotanium was able to shift operations online and continue talking to investors – ultimately raising more than $1 million in pre-seed funding so far this year. In May, Exotanium began a pilot with the software company Autodesk, Inc. to test Exotanium’s concept for cloud back-end optimization. Though the pandemic created challenges, it also led to opportunities: With most organizations operating entirely online, demand for cloud application servers is at an all-time high. “The past few months have been a wild ride,” Weatherspoon said. Now, the company is moving to larger offices in the Praxis Center complex in Rhodes Hall and hiring additional staff. It’s also a member of Rev: Ithaca Startup Works, and its donors come from Red Bear Angels, a group of Cornell alumni; and Launch NY, an upstate New York venture development organization; as well as individual Cornell alumni. The cloud was initially viewed as an opportunity for cost savings, since companies would no longer have to own and maintain physical servers to run their applications. But the cost of renting servers in the cloud – paid to cloud providers such as Google, Microsoft and Amazon – can consume as much as 50% of businesses’

revenue, Weatherspoon said. Because cloud companies must have application servers available when clients need them, cloud providers often have temporarily unused servers, known as spot server instances, which they make available for a fraction of the cost of their regular service. Although, significantly less expensive, these spot server instances can be terminated at any time, making the cloud spot market unusable for most kinds of application servers. Exotanium’s technology – called “Xspot” and based on Shen’s doctoral thesis – allows businesses to effectively navigate what’s known as the spot market, so they can take advantage of the low prices when temporary spot servers are available and then move to more reliable cloud servers when it isn’t. “The underlying technology is called a container, meaning that you have your application and its environment, everything that it needs, packaged together, which makes it easy to test and deploy in different places,” Weatherspoon said. “And then we have an artificial intelligence base scheduler to optimize where we’re actually placing your application.” Their research shows that the method could save businesses up to 90% on cloud application server fees, giving the company a huge advantage in a market estimated to be worth $26 billion by 2024. “This allows for a live migration, to move applications back and forth, to make a volatile environment stable, and to provide continuous availability to the end user,” he said. “That’s an absolute, fundamental advantage we have over everybody.” Exotanium – a name that refers to an outer shell as tough as titanium – started out in 2018 as an internet security company. But as its founders talked to companies, investors and mentors, they realized how important cloud-optimization and cost-reduction tools were to their potential client base. “We pivoted from a security focus when we found out that people were spending a lot of money in the cloud, and they didn’t know how to rein in the spending,” Weatherspoon said. “We realized we actually had a good solution for that.” Exotanium is a graduate of the Upstate New York I-Corps and the national ICorps team, National Science Foundationfunded programs that offer funding and mentorship. Having access to the mentors and experts in Rev and the Praxis Center has been invaluable, Weatherspoon said. “We’re scientists, not businesspeople,” he said. “Praxis and the Rev provide a lot of expertise to help a company like us grow. They help scientists learn invaluable business skills to bring their technology to market.”

With movie theaters closed, BVC has spent his quarantine catching up on some old movies


B y B r y a n Va n C a m p e n

his whole thing started because of Joan Davis. I’ll get back to her shortly. When COVID shut down movie theaters, I decided for myself that if I couldn’t see as many new movies as I would under normal circumstances, by golly, I was going to see as many old “new” movies as I could. I have a lot of DVDs and Blu-Rays that I’ve never seen, and I began to haunt stores for DVD theme sets: four Meg Ryan rom-coms, four Randolph Scott Westerns. Every time I watched one, I’d post “Today’s ‘New to Me’ feature” and an image of the poster on Facebook, and add it to the list: 160 films and counting. I shivered my way through “The Exorcist.” I saw 20 Abbott and Costello comedies and six Don Knotts pictures. I finished off film franchises: four “Dirty Harry” movies, three “Phantasm” movies. I’d never seen Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Conan the Barbarian” movies, so I watched ‘em. I saw long-overdue classics like “Some Like It Hot” (1959), “The Big Sleep” (1946), “Rebecca” (1940), “Stagecoach” (1939) and “It Happened One Night” (1934). I saw films with bad reputations that were wellfounded — “The Lonely Guy” (1984) might be Steve Martin’s worst comedy.

Some movies didn’t make it. My copy of Paul Bartel’s “Cannonball” (1976) wouldn’t stop glitching. I didn’t get hooked into Alfred Hitchcock’s “To Catch a Thief ” (1955), but I’m sure I’ll try again soon, which is more than I can say for Marcus Nispel’s 2003 remake of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” with Jessica Biel. After 20 minutes of torture, I hit eject, wishing I could take a chainsaw to that disc. Here are thoughts on four of the movies that really affected me. ● ● ●

I said this all started with Joan Davis, and here’s why: When I was a kid, WPIX-11 played an Abbott and Costello movie every Sunday morning, but aside from “The Time of Their Lives,” (1946) arguably their best film where they weren’t a team, I only watched “Abbott and Costello Meet…” flicks. I decided to run the team’s Universal Pictures box set this year and saw “Hold That Ghost” (1941) for the first time. This was Bud and Lou’s fourth picture, and the first of their popular scare-comedies (no one got scared like Lou Costello). Stuck with Bud and a few other characters in a haunted tavern, Lou is paired with Joan Davis. The boys were often linked early on with the Andrews Sisters — great singers but not really funny. From the moment Joan Davis trips and falls into frame, I could tell that this actress was a born comedienne and a great romantic foil for Lou. Her timing is terrific and she gives as good as she gets. Tasting some bad soup, she cracks, “Just like mother used to make. It stinks!”

At 33 minutes into the film, Bud Abbott turns on the phonograph, “The Blue Danube Waltz” starts playing, and Lou Costello and Joan Davis start dancing. Their dance is so crazy and kid-like, I was beside myself with laughter. I rewound the dance and watched it three times in hysterics. I love movies because there are always discoveries like that dance. I was describing it to a friend, and he asked if it was as inspired as that vintage SNL sketch with Steve Martin and Gilda Radner hoofing it all over Studio 8H to the tune of “Dancing in the Dark.” It is, and you can draw a straight line from Lou and Joan’s ‘40s clowning to Steve and Gilda’s giddy ‘70s silliness. Unfortunately, Costello was a very insecure performer, and when he heard the roars of laughter during crew screenings, he worried that Joan Davis was trying to steal the movie, and she never appeared in another Abbott and Costello movie again. Costello should have signed her up and never let her go. There’s a rule at Second City: make the other person look great and you’ll look fantastic. It’s a lesson that Lou Costello should have learned. ● ● ●

Jumping ahead a few decades while we’re talking comedies, how did I miss Malcolm D.

Lee’s “Undercover Brother” (2002)? Based on internet characters created by John Ridley and Michael McCullers, here is a raucous, smart and prescient satire of James Bond, ‘70s blaxploitation movies and the specter of systemic racism. Eddie Griffin is terrific as the title character, a freelance agent drawn continued on page 20

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from ‘70s black movie icons like Shaft and Superfly, who joins a think tank called B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D. alongside agents named Conspiracy Brother (Dave Chapelle) and Sistuh Girl (Aunjanue Ellis). They’re out to foil the efforts of “The Man'' and his secret organization that seeks to undermine the Black community. “Undercover Brother” mines comedic territory that was established decades ago in movies like “Putney Swope” (1969) and “Blazing Saddles” (1974). These are not racist comedies, these are comedies about racism. Lee’s rowdy comedy is also smart and revelatory in ways that still play 18 years later, and some of the ideas may have inspired “Chapelle’s Show.” It would make a great double bill with Scott Sander’s

dead-on blaxploitation parody “Black Dynamite” (2009). ● ● ●

Stephen Frears’ 1990 adaptation of Jim Thompson’s “The Grifters” really surprised me at the time; it was so merciless, so brutal. Sure, he’d done some dark stuff in “Dangerous Liaisons” (1988), but “The Grifters” was so startling in its menacing violence that I was taken aback: this from the man who made “My Beautiful Laundrette” (1985)? Then I saw Frears’ “The Hit” (1984) this year, and began to connect some dots. Starring Terence Stamp and a very young Tim Roth eight years before “Reservoir Dogs” (1992) “The Hit”

is Frears’ own particular brand of pulp fiction. Stamp stars as a London gangster who turns in evidence against his compatriots and retires comfortably in Spain. He is kidnapped and delivered by a hit man and his sidekick, played by John Hurt and Roth. The film is a tense mix of city and desert, sweeping dolly shots, and raw documentary realism as the three men travel across the country. Stamp plays against the usual pleading stereotypes; he’s enjoying his predicament. Roth is the impetuous, amoral youth paired with the cadaverous Hurt, clad in a stylish cream-colored suit, a cigarette permanently pasted to the corner of his mouth. Hurt has rarely been scarier, and

he may only speak 200 words in the entire film. Roger Waters and Eric Clapton play the title music piece, and the lurking, lyrical guitar score is by Spanish flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia. Weeks later, I am haunted by “The Hit.” ● ● ●

Thankful for quality health care close to home. By Jean McPheeters


aking a gratitude list at this time each year reminds me of the good things in life that can get overlooked in each day’s distractions. High on my gratitude list this year is enjoying good health for me, my family and having quality health care close to home. I am thankful for the time and talent invested over many years in building a health-care system that is ready to provide care when my family and my neighbors need it. The importance of having the high-quality care Cayuga Health System provides 24/7 every day was underscored this past spring when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in our region. In some cases, lives depended on having local care because a trip to a distant hospital could have had life-ending consequences. Having sophisticated medical care close to home is near the top of my gratitude list. Also getting high places on this year’s list are five thank yous for Cayuga Health achievements that deserve an extra helping of gratitude.

Thank You #1. Two days after the first case of COVID-19 arrived in Tompkins County, Cayuga Health and the county’s health department began a collaboration to screen the public for the virus. The innovative partnership launched the Cayuga Health Sampling Center that has been the only mass testing program in our region, and it is essential for reducing the spread of COVID-19. The drivethrough Sampling Center at the Shops at Ithaca Mall each weekday allows residents of Tompkins and surrounding counties to get COVID tests close to their homes and avoid a long out-of-town trip. Thank You #2. Getting COVID test results rapidly so infected patients can be treated and quarantined prevents the spread of the virus. The medical laboratory at Cayuga Medical Center delivers next-day test results because of decisions made locally to upgrade the facility and develop a skilled lab staff equipped with state-of-the art diagnostic technology. When the pandemic arrived in our region, the lab was prepared to launch a COVID diagnostic program on a scale that few upstate hospitals could match. Nearly 500,000 patient samples have been tested at the lab for COVID-19 from mid-March to early November. Thank You #3. The Cayuga Cancer Center at Cayuga Medical Center began treating patients this fall with a new radiotherapy system. The advanced technology delivers more powerful cancer treatments with pinpoint accuracy and better precision than previous generations of medical linear accelerators. About two-thirds of local cancer patients have radiation therapy as part of their treatment. The new system reduces many treatment sessions to less than two minutes that had taken 10 to 30 minutes with the earlier system. The improved radiotherapy system at the Cancer Center combined with its collaboration with Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo allows more patients to get the care they need at Cayuga Medical Center. Thank You #4. Robotic surgery programs for joint replacement and general surgeries offer surgeons high precision to the procedures done at Cayuga Medical Center. The DaVinci Surgical System for abdominal surgeries and the Navio System used for knee joint replacements each had rapid growth in 2020 during their first full year in service. The advanced robotic technology provides and extra margin of safety to patients and often result in less post-operative pain and faster recoveries. Thank You #5. Years of planning at Cayuga Health are improving health-care access in the City of Ithaca and developing the city’s economy. The Carpenter Park Medical Office Building opening in early 2021 brings a wide range of patient-care services supported by the extensive hospital care Cayuga Medical Center provides into the City of Ithaca. The 65,000-square-foot facility will have a walk-in clinic, laboratory services, physician offices, a primary care clinic for medically underserved neighborhoods, diagnostic imaging, an outpatient clinic and a comprehensive women’s health center. The Medical Office Building is part of a 10-acre project along Route 13 that also brings more affordable housing, market-rate residential units and retail space to the city. The Cayuga Health project is improving community health care, expanding the city’s tax base, creating local jobs and building more housing with this major investment. I wish everyone a safe and healthy holiday season. Jean McPheeters is a member of the Cayuga Health Board of Directors and a past president and CEO of the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce.

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Like any self-respecting geek, I’m a big fan of Roger Corman’s movies, particularly the cheap black-and-white pictures he was grinding out in the 1950s and ‘60s. As director Joe Dante (“Gremlins” 1984)) has said, Corman made better cheap movies than anyone else: “A Bucket of Blood” (1959), “Little Shop of Horrors” (1960), “Not of This Earth” (1957) and “Attack of the Crab Monsters” (1957), to name just a few. But there were several Corman miniclassics I still hadn’t seen, and there’s a treasure trove of goodies available on YouTube. And since his movies usually run about 67 minutes, I had a great afternoon catching up. “It Conquered the World” (1956) is Roger Corman at his resourceful best. Featuring a space alien that looks like an angry traffic cone and a lot of Lee Van Cleef and Peter Graves speechifying at each other, this is Corman’s poverty-row version of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1956). Starring the always feisty Beverly Garland, this is one of those movies that wears its low-budget on its sleeve. Paul Blaisdell’s monster FX are cheap, but they’ve gone on to be emblematic of the period. Also, Corman instructed Blaisdell to build the traffic cone creature squat and low to the ground. When Garland saw it, she sneered at it and said, “So you’ve come to take over the world,” and kicked it over. Corman learned an important lesson: always make your monster bigger than your leading lady.

‘What if…In a Snow Storm’ pauses the world and lets us breathe By Ad am Me s s inge r


lockmaker Arts has risen to the challenge once again. Forged at the beginning of what would become the hell-storm of a year known as 2020, in their infancy the new theatre company found itself with quite the predicament: connect and create in a time where both aspects of human life seem to be more than unattainable. The release of their second show, which premiered this past weekend, “What if, In a Snow Storm…” is the epitome of the challenges, and the triumphs, they, and us, have come to know throughout this infamous year. Set in the most familiar of places for Ithacans, but also for anyone who has lived through it all, ‘What if ’ tells the story of four roommates at the tail end of 2020 confined to some Zoom quality time as a snowstorm rages outside and isolates them from the world even further.

The play opens with the line, “What if in a storm, you saw clearly for the first time,” a line that stood out in the calm of the ice and snow of the mirrored world they created. After adapting their debut show “What Haunts You” from its stage roots to a virtual performance earlier this summer, the team’s second go-about is a first for the company by writing a show that lives and breathes online in this new form of virtual entertainment. From the helms of the creative team behind Clockmaker Arts, the show is written by Elizabeth Seldin (who also acts in the show) and directed by Evie Hammer-Lester. “When we were creating the show we had to struggle with the reality of Zoom theatre,” Seldin said. “It’s hard because I don’t particularly want to watch a virtual play—so why would I ask others to do that? But in a time where we crave connection, ultimately the alternative is not doing

anything, and I’d rather share a story and connect with other people in the community than just sit at home watching The Crown.” The themes of connection and disconnection run through this piece as it shows its four actors coming to terms with themselves and the world around them. The snowstorm, as raging and scary as it may be, provides them with some much needed time to decompress as people and as participants in this global pandemic. Seldin appears as the self-proclaimed “captain” of the pandemic pod, Isabella. Complete with a short haircut and fingerless gloves that don’t inhibit her ability to play a ukulele with startling grace, Isabella threatens to be the heart of the show, and yet the other characters around her give her a run for that title. Rounding out the cast of roommates are Carley Robinson as Rose, the walls-up member of their little community whose complicated feelings about her girlfriend being away for the night lead to the friends playing the namesake game: “What If?” During the game, straight guy Liam, played by NYC-bound Victory Chappotin, admits to not voting in the presidential election while the members of the group let out their “deep darks” and attempt to “get clean.” Breaking out of the mold of the sassy gay best friend trope, Tyler Gardella’s Felix takes the emotional reins as the story progresses. One of the penultimate moments of the show finds him calling the voicemail

box of a deceased relative and reminding the audience of all we’ve lost this year and the brave faces we don to keep going. “Something that never changes is that I love actors,” Hammer-Lester said. “They do such incredible work since they are on their own through this process. The world we’ve created for ourselves lives with each of them, and they are their own dressers, and tech, and designers. And that part of enjoying actors and their work will always be there for me.” All of the actors come together in a way that truly leaves you with a feeling of connection. Their commitment to their craft and to the narrative propels the show further regardless of personal feelings about the merit of Zoom theatre. “Nothing will ever replace live theatre, but what we’re learning through this process is that we’re able to work with people we wouldn’t normally have had the chance to connect with,” Gardella said. “Whatever the format, if you’re meant for the work and the work is meant for you, you’re still going to feel it.” In the end, relationships shift and new secrets are revealed that color our perceptions of the characters, and whether or not those specific aspects and dynamics are relatable to the viewer, seeing the trials and tribulations of life in quarantine represented through this new form of entertainment is something special and unique and something not to be missed.








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hen the COVID-19 pandemic hit New York in March of this year, the libarians within the Tompkins County Public Library (TCPL) strived to provide access to the entire community in a safe way for all concerned. Plans were develeoped, new computer programs were learned and a way was made out of no way. In this emailed interview, Youth Services Director Sarah O’Shea talks about the work that was undertaken and achieved in this challenging time. Ithaca Times: What first drew you to libraries and being an advocate for them? And talk about how you first became involved in Tompkins County Public Library Youth Services? Sarah O’Shea: I’ve always been a reader and loved books and libraries. I was a fairly shy kid so books were, as for many shy kids, my escape. I became a library shelver (page) for a summer job in college and while I was in the stacks there, I realized how much good libraries do for their

communities. That’s when I first started to realize libraries are so much more than books. They are community hubs where people find connections, information, friendships, reassurance, support, fun, and education. I knew it’s where I belonged. Once I had my Masters in Library Science from Syracuse University, I began looking for a job. I worked for a year at the Steele Memorial Library in Elmira and then an opening for a Youth Services librarian at TCPL became available. I’d always loved Ithaca, so I jumped at the chance to work here and have worked here ever since! Over 20 years! IT: Youth Services this past year has been very active such as the Tompkins County Public Library Teen Center, and the Young Adult Book Club. Talk about the past year and what that has been like for you as the Director of Youth Services? SO: 2020 has been a year of upended expectations, difficulties, and happy surprises, as it has for everyone. Our Teen

Center had been an incredibly active place for our community’s teens to hang out, relax, have fun, find information, and connect with each other since it’s opening in 2017. It was a bustling place – in part because it really was one of the very few places in our community that actively welcomed teens and didn’t require them to buy anything. All of our programming – for teens and for younger kids - were having wonderful attendance and were incredibly appreciated by our community. We offered 3 book clubs – STEAM, Tween, and Young Adult. We had Makerspace programs for all ages, Robotics clubs, Musical storytimes, Baby, Toddler, Family, and Chinese storytimes, writing programs, and homeschooling fairs. The library building was bursting most days. These things were all going strong and our plans were growing until March 2020. IT: It seems the pen pal program and the virtual programs are very active too. Can you say more about them? SO: Of course, once COVID hit, the brakes screeched on all of that and we had to quickly readjust our thinking about what it means to serve our community’s children, teens, and families and how we could do that safely. Our first step was bulking up our ordering of e-books and e-audiobooks so that our families could access books during the early shut-down days when the library building was closed. That we began to do within days of shutting down. Circulation of all of those items rose dramatically in March, April, and beyond. The Youth Services staff blew me away at their ability to quickly learn new technologies so we could, within the first few months of the shutdown, begin to offer Virtual Baby Storytime, Family Storytime, Chinese Storytime, and a Kindergartner program that we offer as part of the Kids Discover the Trail organization. We offered a literacy calendar that parents could use to find fun and educational activities to do at home with their littlest children. We eventually added all three of our monthly Book Clubs back into the schedule, all virtual. Despite all the negatives about doing virtual programming, we did discover some happy surprises. We found in our book clubs, some of our regular attendees who didn’t always feel comfortable speaking in a group setting, would share via Zoom messaging and it was a much more comfortable way for them to share their thoughts and ideas! It’s those little things that surprise us and keep us going! Virtual Robotics Club quickly was added to the schedule as well and our families have really been enjoying that as well. It includes virtual robot races and battles. The kids send in their code, our staff programs the robots, and then films the battles and races. It’s incredibly fun to watch! As well as the programming side of things, we also wanted to help the families that we knew would regularly come in and check out heaps of books for their families, so we devised the Family Book Bundle, where staff curates a collection of 10 books for a particular age level on a particular topic that families share with us through

a simple Google form. Families can then come on our lobby or curbside days to pick up the bag of books. Those have been incredibly popular and so appreciated! As the school year began, we added Learning Pod bundles as well – which are larger and for a wider age range to provide resources for homeschooling families and families opting out of traditional public schooling this year. We knew there were many families who were new to that and wanted to support them in a safe way. We were still missing our daily interactions with our “library regulars,” so we recently began our library pen pal program where kids can write letters to librarians and the librarians write back! It’s so fun and fulfilling to read the letters from kids of all ages – how they miss the library, what they are reading, and asking for suggestions about what to read next. One child even told us all about her broken arm! It’s been a nice substitute to getting to talk with the kids in person regularly. Of course, now that we have begun our Express Browsing, we are finally able to see some of our regulars face-to-face (from a distance) which has been heart-warming to return to. IT: Do you have plans for the coming new year at TCPL Youth Services? SO: It’s hard to plan these days with all the constant changes and uncertainty that COVID has brought into our lives. We do plan to continue with virtual programming to keep our patrons and our staff safe – our storytimes, our book clubs, our Robotics club. We will try to add more when we are able. We have been working on potentially offering a storytime via the radio to reach our community that might not have access to the internet in order to view our virtual storytimes. We have been keenly aware of the difficulties that some families face in this new “virtual world” when internet access is not always easy to come by and have been trying various ways to serve them as well. We know we will have budgetary and staffing limitations in this upcoming year, but we hope to offer as much as we can – programming-wise and resource-wise. IT: Would you like to say anything more to our readers about Tompkins County Public Library and Youth Services? SO: I am incredibly proud to work at Tompkins County Public Library and to lead this Youth Services department. I consider myself so lucky to love my job and to see, on a regular basis, the good our work does. We are helping children love reading and learning, we are helping families enjoy time together, bond, and connect, and we are helping teens feel welcome in a world that does not always feel that welcoming to them. Working with people in the public library setting is never dull and it’s incredibly satisfying. TCPL does our best to change, adapt, and grow to meet the needs of our community – no matter what those needs look like or what the world brings. We want to be a welcoming place for all and continually strive to be just that.

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NIRVANA FOODS Contin u ed From Page 15

the porch and we’ll make it,” says Sanjay. “Yeah, we like to make [our food] fresh; we don’t like to reheat,” Sujata adds. While Sujata may have first been recognized for her dishes, it is mainly Sanjay who cooks the food now. “I cook

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After many years of careers and homes that never felt quite right, Sanjay and Sujata have finally found the joy they first began working towards in India, in Rochester, in Africa, and in every career they took on. “ We wanted to be as unique as possible, but there’s an impression that this is something different. It’s standard, but it’s different. It’s something that people see

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too much!” Sujata jokes when asked why she no longer enjoys cooking. “So now he makes the recipes but I’m still around to see that everything goes right.” The couple believes in customizing their recipes rather than standardizing them and hopes to feed their customers food that is constantly surprising and never the same. Featured on the menu of Nirvana are Kathi rolls, Chicken Tikka Masala, Curries, Masala Dosa and Masala Chai with additional foods added to their menu regularly.

and get excited,” Sanjay explains. Sanjay now works at the eatery fulltime while Sujata works part-time at TJ Maxx and at Nirvana. “It’s not very big,” Sanjay explains, “but it’s really nice. We don’t intend to make it bigger. One of the lesser known American dreams is to have a second home where you can relax. So this is our second home.” The Nirvana Foods Bazaar is located at 526 W Seneca Street in downtown Ithaca. The boutique eatery is open every day with varying hours. You can order food and learn more on their website here.

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Contin u ed From Page 10

his All-American season together as a grad student. “I have no idea why,” Wohlheuter told me, “but the rule was in place before the next season.” Dave laments the rule, writing “If athletes could use up their eligibility while attending graduate school, we would have more individuals receiving education at a higher level while increasing the number of Cornellians achieving Master’s degrees.” In his letter, Dave also said, “Now, not next year, would be an ideal time for the Ivy League to change this rule. How great that decision would be viewed around the country during these troubling times. Please, Ivy League presidents, reconsider and help your student-athletes achieve their respective goals.”

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I remember Holland’s All American season, and I was fortunate enough to spend some time with him in June of 2019,

when he stopped by the Cornell Bookstore to visit retired lacrosse coach Richie Moran, who was signing books at Reunion Weekend. After getting his Master’s from Cornell, Holland went on to Harvard Law School, and in Wohlheuter’s words, “Joe could have taken his Harvard Law degree and made millions, but he chose to live in New York City, and is an ordained minister, Harlem-based attorney and civic leader working in prominent organizations in law, business and government.” Clearly proud to be friends with Holland, Wohlheuter added, “He cares more about improving the lives of people in his community who need help, and he posts an inspirational message on Facebook every single day.” Dave Wohlheuter, my sports media guru since 1981, referencing social media… Who woulda thunk it?

Virtual Music Bars/Bands/Clubs

12/19 Saturday Heather Pierson Duo | 7:30 PM, | $20 Concerts/Recitals

Readings & Carols with the Cornell Chorus and Glee Club | 7:00 PM, 12/16 Wednesday | Carrying on a beloved annual tradition, we invite you to join the Cornell University Chorus and Glee Club in a musical holiday celebration including singalong carols (featuring the virtually assembled choirs), seasonal poetry readings, and recordings from past Christmas services. For access to this one-night-only virtual event, pre-registration on Zoom https:// cornell.zoom.us/webinar/register/ WN_1SlcpxJcRLGPwytOsBknHw is required. At Home for the Holidays: A Virtual Theater Organ Concert | 7:00 PM, 12/18 Friday | Featuring David Peckham. Visit Clemens Center’s Facebook page. Dorothy Cotton Jubilee Singers present virtual concert | 3:00 PM, 12/20 Sunday | The concert is free, but donations are gratefully accepted to help the chorus through these difficult times. Please register at dcjsingers.com.

Stage ComedyFLOPs Supports the Southern Tier AIDS Program Virtual Holiday Improv Show! | 7:00 PM, 12/17 Thursday | Virtual Show, | Join ComedyFLOPs for our D*ck The Halls Holiday Improv Show and help us support the Southern Tier AIDS Program. Stream the show live and have some laughs with us!†See the show: https://www.

youtube.com/ComedyFLOPs. Click on the live stream link when we go live. Seasonal Story Jam & Hootenanny Ft. The Burns Sisters | All Day 12/18 Friday | Dec. 18-21 & 2327.Families can enjoy Hangar artists performing a variety of short stories by writers from Ithaca and beyond, as well as beautiful holiday music live streamed from the Hangar!Buy tickets now at hangartheatre.org/ story & 607.273.ARTS | 25

Art Makerspace at Home: Upcycled Ornament Making | 12:00 PM, 12/22 Tuesday | Makerspace Librarian Cady will lead this ornamentmaking lunch hour, during which participants will create a mini book ornament. Basic materials will be supplied to registered participants.†To register and receive updates and the Zoom link for participation, visit https://www. tcpl.org/events/makerspace-homeupcycled-ornament-making.

Movies Virtual Cinemapolis: Louis van Beethoven | All Day 12/16 Wednesday | Despite his great successes, most recently with the Ninth Symphony, Beethoven struggles with himself because his late work completely overwhelms his contemporaries. Now completely deaf, he looks back at missed opportunities. | 3 day rental available for $8 Virtual Cinemapolis: Tazzeka | All Day 12/18 Friday | Growing up in the Moroccan village of Tazzeka, Elias learned the secrets of traditional Moroccan cuisine from his grandmother who raised him. Years later, meeting a top Paris chef and a young woman named Salma inspires him to leave home. In Paris, Elias faces unstable work and financial hardship as an undocumented immigrant. | 48 hour rental available for $10

and effective program for spreading the love of reading.† | 3 day rental available for $12

Off-Campus/On-Screen: Cornell Life in the Time of COVID-19 | 7:00 PM, 12/18 Friday | A collage of short films led by theatre director†Rebekah Maggor†and filmmakers†Jeffrey Palmer†and Youngsun Palmer. Reserve your ticket at†schwartztickets.com. Additional showings 12/19 & 12/20. Virtual Cinemapolis: Monsoon | All Day 12/19 Saturday | Ends 12/24. Kit returns to Ho Chi Minh City for the first time since he was six years old when his family fled the country in the aftermath of the VietnamAmerican war. He embarks on a personal journey across the country that opens up the possibility for friendship, love and happiness. | 3 day rental available for $12 Virtual Cinemapolis: The Library That Dolly Built | All Day 12/19 Saturday | Ends 12/24. Goes behind the scenes of Dolly Partonís Imagination Library, to show how one of the most famous and beloved performers in the world has partnered with thousands of local community organizations to develop an efficient

Virtual Cinemapolis: The Twentieth Century | All Day 12/19 Saturday | Ends 12/24. Toronto, 1899. Aspiring young politician Mackenzie King dreams of becoming the Prime Minister of Canada. But his romantic vacillation between a British soldier and a French nurse, exacerbated by a fetishistic obsession, may well bring about his downfall. | 3 day rental available for $12 Virtual Cinemapolis: The Weasels’ Tale | All Day 12/19 Saturday | Ends 12/24. The story of a group of four long-time friends, including a used-to-be-famous actress, her now disabled husband and an actor as well, who she eclipsed, and the sharp-tongued screenwriter and director of her greatest hits.† Their coexistence is menaced by a young couple who, feigning to be lost, slowly insinuate themselves into their lives.

Special Events 100 Years of Light: Fireside Musings with United Way of Tompkins County | 6:30 PM, 12/17 Thursday | Join United Way of Tompkins County for an evening of stories and musings that celebrate the warmth, goodwill, and hope that is abundant in Tompkins County. Register at www.uwtc.org

The Winter Wonder Wander at Tag’s | 5:00 PM, 12/18 Friday | Tag’s, 3037 State Route 352, Big Flats | A walk-through experience with over 500 wooden cut outs of favorite holiday characters. Vendors on site. Fridays thru Sundays from 5PM-9PM until January 2, 2021. Center Players Holiday Stroll | 6:30 PM, 12/18 Friday | Center For the Arts of Homer, 72 S Main St, Homer | A holiday-themed walk through with photo stops for the entire family. Face masks required. | $2/$3 Live Virtual Fire Ceremony Munay- Ki ‘Rite of the Womb’ Gifted | 7:00 PM, 12/18 Friday | The December Winter Solstice virtual fire ceremony will be held live on Zoom.†connecting2spirit.com Cyber Nuts: Ithaca Ballet’s firstever Virtual Nutcracker | 7:30 PM, 12/18 Friday | Ithaca Ballet via State Theater website, Stateofithaca.com, Ithaca | Additional showings: 12/19 at 3pm; 12/20 at 3pm & 7:30pm. In this unprecedented year the time-honored tradition of the Ithaca Ballet Nutcracker Will happen in a creative new formólive streamed to your living room with your favorite characters danced in innovative Ithaca friendly landscapes by dancers in the Ithaca Ballet.† With new scenery and adaptations. | $20 plus handling

Holiday Open Farm Days at Shepherd’s Creek Alpacas! | 10:00 AM, 12/19 Saturday | Shepherd’s Creek Alpacas, 5797 Stillwell Rd, Trumansburg | The alpacas will be greeting Holiday visitors, posing for pictures & hoping for treats every Saturday through Christmas from 10 - 4!† Visit our Alpaca Shop where we have a wide selection of unique and beautiful alpaca gift items. Drive Through Live Nativity | 4:00 PM, 12/20 Sunday | Lansing United Methodist Church, 32 Brickyard Rd, Lansing | In the event of severe weather, please check our website for cancellation notice at www.lansingunited.org.

Notices Women & Wellness Financial Roundtable Discussions: Time to Take Control | 10:00 AM, 12/16 Wednesday | Hosted by Susan Redsicker, Vice President and Director of financial planning for Tompkins Financial Advisors.†webinar.tompkinsfinancialadvisors.com Ithaca Rotary Club Weekly Meeting | 12:15 PM, 12/16 Wednesday | The Ithaca Rotary Club holds its weekly meetings every Wednesday via Zoom. This week’s speaker is Julia Taylor, Co-Director of Civic Ensemble, “Ithaca’s CivicMinded Theatre Company.” Visit www.ithacarotary.com†to request an invite and link to the meeting.

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26  T

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/ T h e

I t h a c a T i m e s   27



For rates and information contact Toni Crouch at



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ince 1981, the Ithaca Times has closed every year with the “Readers’ Writes” issue, featuring submissions from the most diverse writing staff at our disposal: you. Stories, poems, drawings and photographs are all welcome and complete artistic freedom is in your hands. It’s a platform for you to be heard beyond the letters page.

R E A DE R S ’


IS SU E D e a d li n e JA N 1

28  T

h e

Ithac a T imes


This year’s theme is “Struggle & Gratitude”

As tradition dictates, any interpretation of what this prompt means to you is fair and, of course, a wide range of submissions will be accepted–just as long as you stay under 600 words. Send your submissions to Attn: Readers’ Writes, the Ithaca Times, PO Box 27, Ithaca, New York 14850 or email them in with a subject line of “Reader’s Writes” to editor@ithacatimes.com. Looking forward to seeing your stuff!

1 6 – 22 ,

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get writing!

Profile for Ithaca Times

December 16, 2020  

December 16, 2020