Ithaka Terraces in January 2018. (Photo by Brian Crandall)

Welcome to the quickest way to learn the week’s most important local news.

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1 – Man sentenced after attempting to rape young teen

Freeville man sentenced to 10 years in prison for attempted rape of a teen —  Ray Dennis, 49, of Freeville, was sentenced to 10 years in prison Tuesday after being found guilty of attempting to rape a young girl.

During the court proceedings, Dennis did not deny going into a young teenager’s room in February, asking her to take her clothes off and physically struggling with her while she cried out for help and he removed her clothes. His defense was that he didn’t intend to rape the teen — he wanted to see her naked.

When the girl testified in court, however, she made it clear that there was a horrible struggle between her and Dennis, during which she tried to fight off a man who appeared nearly twice her size.

2 – Flu numbers soar in Tompkins County, nationally

Tompkins County: Flu rate increases more than tenfold in December compared to 2016 — Flu rates in Tompkins County are well above average for this time of year, increasing more than tenfold in December compared to last year. The local numbers align with a national trend of what professionals are saying could be the worst flu season in history.

In December 2016, seven cases of the flu were reported. In 2017, about 100 cases were reported in December, Samantha Hillson, director of health promotion at the Tompkins County Health Department, said. In 2014, when the flu was also widespread throughout the country, only 59 cases were reported in December.

3 – Seeking shelter: Annual homeless count highlights rising need this winter

Rising homelessness in Tompkins: Volunteers take count and connect with people without shelter — Over one night last week, volunteers searched parks and parking lots, looked under bridges and trekked to known encampments in Tompkins County searching for people who may be sleeping unsheltered.

Though some volunteers found no one, others did. With clipboards in hand, they asked people about their living conditions and health and handed them big bags stuffed with blankets, flashlights, tarps, socks, gift cards, gloves, toothbrushes and other essentials. The outreach was part of a the annual Point in Time count of the homeless.

File photo of The Jungle in Ithaca.

4 – ICE makes third arrest in Ithaca this month

ICE confirms third Ithaca arrest this month — A man was taken into custody Tuesday in Ithaca by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, an official confirmed late Wednesday night.

Khaalid Walls, regional director of communications for ICE, said in an emailed statement that the man’s arrest was part of an “ongoing criminal investigation.” He refused to comment about what the investigation entails or if the man is being charged, but said the person is an “unlawfully present foreign national” who is in ICE custody following an arrest from special agents with the Homeland Security Investigations.

5 – Three eateries to close on Commons

Bandwagon Brewpub has announced the closure of its Commons location to focus on its tasting room and brewery in Interlaken. A newer restaurant, Le Commons Bistro, may close at the end of the month. It’s listed as a turnkey purchase and the owner hopes to find a subleaser. At the end of the Commons, Subway has closed and it’s unclear if it will reopen.

Bandwagon Brewpub to close Downtown Ithaca location

Two eateries off the menu on Ithaca Commons

6 – A look at plan for updated City Harbor, Ithaca’s proposed waterfront neighborhood

A look at updated plans for City Harbor, Ithaca’s proposed ‘waterfront neighborhood’   Upscale apartments, public waterfront walkways and restaurant space are some of the features proposed as part of the City Harbor project, which will be located at the former Johnson Boatyard site.

Early site plan renders suggest three waterfront residential structures with a total of 80 units. There would be parking on the ground level and four floors of apartments or condominiums above. A building facing the confluence of the Inlet and Cascadilla Creek called “The Point” would potentially have hospitality and residential uses in a five-story building, with a one-story wing that would house a waterfront restaurant.

City Harbor plans. Provided image.

7 – Neighbors voice concern with proposed duplexes for South Hill

Neighbors voice concern about duplexes proposed on South Hill — A proposal to subdivide a lot on South Hill and build duplexes is drawing concern from neighbors about more student housing being added to the neighborhood.

The proposal, which went before the city of Ithaca Planning and Development Board on Tuesday, is for 209 Hudson Street, where a house sits on a 26,484 square-foot parcel, a large lot in the neighborhood. The owner/developer, Bia Stavropoulos working with architect Jagat Sharma, has proposed to subdivide the parcel into three lots. It will retain the existing house on one lot and build two new duplexes on the other lots. The duplexes would have three bedrooms in each unit.

Plans for 209 Hudson St. Ithaca

8 – Ithaca man arrested in connection with robbery of local convenience stores

Ithaca man arrested in string of recent armed robberies at Shortstop, Byrne Dairy, Mirabito — The man responsible for robbing three local convenience stores at gunpoint over the course of a week in December has been taken into custody, police say.

Ithaca man Curt Rosenfeld, 32, was charged with three counts of first-degree robbery Wednesday after being taken into custody during a multi-jurisdictional task force effort. He’s accused of robbing the Mirabito Convenience Store at 3:17 a.m. on Dec. 17 in the town of Dryden; the Byrne Dairy at 10:44 p.m. on Dec. 19 in the City of Ithaca, and the Shortstop Deli at 4:18 a.m. on Dec. 24 in the City of Ithaca.

9 – Ithaca High School cancels spring play after student diversity demands

Ithaca High School cancels spring play in wake of student diversity demands — Four Ithaca High School students sit in their friend’s living room on a frigid mid-January afternoon. Prachi Ruina, 16, Maddi Carroll, 17, Ari Cummings, 16, and Eamon Nunn-Makepeace, 14, have all just come from school, where the environment is nearly as chilly as the air forming icicles outside.

Their gathering has come after a flurry of meetings with administration, public letters and an outcry from high school students voicing their concern for the lack of diversity and representation in the Ithaca City School District’s theater productions.

Thursday evening, it was publicly announced that the spring play,  The Hunchback of Notre Dame, is canceled and there won’t be any other play in its stead.

Featured image: left to right, Nunn-Makepeace, Ruina, Carroll and Cummings.

10 – Suspect charged in connection to armed bank robberies

Update: Police ID man they say robbed Ithaca, Lansing banks at gunpoint —Police have identified an Ithaca man they say robbed two banks in Tompkins County within a matter of weeks.

Chaio Slater, 32, is charged with two counts of felony first-degree robbery and is currently in custody at the Tompkins County Jail. He is being held on $100,000 cash bail or $300,000 bond after being arraigned at the Town of Lansing Court Friday night. He is scheduled to appear in court again on Feb. 2.

Featured image: Ithaka Terraces at 215-221 West Spencer Street, Ithaca. Photo from a gallery featuring building updates around Tompkins County


Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.