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1 – Cocaine, paraphernalia lands 2 people in jail after months-long investigation

NYSP narcotics investigation leads to two arrests in Ithaca — Two individuals were arrested in Ithaca after an investigation led police to find cocaine and other drug-related paraphernalia.

Maleek L. Miller, 32, and Kaitlin E. Smith, 35, both from Ithaca, were arrested as a result of the investigation. Police say the arrests were made as a result of a four-month-long investigation between multiple law enforcement agencies in Tompkins County.

According to a press release, the investigation came to a close on State Route 79, where police seized approximately 4 ounces of cocaine, a digital scale, cell phones and $1600 dollars in cash.

2 – Say I do…..at the McDonald’s drive-thru, I guess

Renew your wedding vows with a side of fries. Yes, really — In bizarre Ithaca news, newly ordained Chris Allinger, DJ for Q-Country 103.7, offered to renew people’s wedding vows at the McDonald’s drive-thru on Feb. 13.

And people did it! Congratulations to all the happy couples!

3 – Local chocolate shop closes its doors

Life’s So Sweet Chocolates to close after 10-year run — Saturday was the last day of business for the popular local chocolate shop Life’s So Sweet. Originally, opening in Trumansburg, a location opened up in Ithaca in 2015.

“It is with as sad yet grateful heart that I write this letter to you to say that as of February 17, 2018, Life’s So Sweet Chocolates will be closing its retail doors,” owner Darlynne Overbaugh wrote in an online post. “Why is the business closing? There is no one direct answer to this question – its a culmination of circumstances, many of which beyond my control, that have lead to this decision. Please know that this decision was not easy and I truly wish that a different solution could have been found.”

Life’s So Sweet Chocolates. Photo by Kelsey O’Connor/Ithaca Voice

4 – Maguire scoops up Honda of Ithaca

Maguire dealership buys Honda of Ithaca— The Maguire Family of Dealerships is officially taking over Honda of Ithaca, which will now be operating under the name Maguire Honda of Ithaca, and will continue selling, leasing and servicing Hondas.

Maguire said in a news release that Honda of Ithaca is the business’ first and only Honda franchise, making it the 19th automotive brand in its auto sales and services operation throughout 11 stores.

5) Taco twins are coming to toooown

Bickering Twins to open brick-and-mortar restaurant in former Bandwagon Brewpub— Moving on from catering and pop-ups, the Bickering Twins plan to offer lunch, dinner and a full bar in their new brick-and-mortar restaurant in downtown Ithaca.

Owners Corey and Kevin Adelman have their eyes set on a spring opening in the former Bandwagon Brewpub location after serving up tacos and Mexican cuisine for the past few years in borrowed kitchens at the Lincoln Street Diner and The Loft.

We hated to see Bandwagon close, but we are certainly happy to see these guys move into their own restaurant.

The twins serve up tacos during their last pop up night at The Loft last Thursday. Photo by Mike Blaney/The Ithaca Voice

6) What will happen to the The Nines?

A strange situation for The Nines— It’s been an odd and perhaps awkward few months for 311 College Avenue, informally known by its occupant, The Nines in the heart of Collegetown. It may become a historic landmark. It may come down, brick by brick. Like smoke from the fires it crews once fought, its future appears to be up in the air.

7) “I do not wish death or hell on you Mr. Barkley. I pray these words of forgiveness do not fall on deaf ears.”

Family of slain man offers forgiveness at Ithaca Walmart homicide sentencing – During an emotional sentencing hearing last week, the family of slain Candor man William Schumacher offered forgiveness to the man who killed him.

Justin Barkley was sentenced to 25 years in prison Tuesday afternoon for first-degree manslaughter and menacing a police/peace officer. The sentencing was part of a plea deal where he confessed to shooting Schumacher, a man he did not know, on Dec. 8, 2016.  He then fled the scene, shot at police officers and barricaded himself in him home for early eight hours.

The crime was picked up by national news outlets after Barkley said he believed he’d shot and killed Donald Trump, who was president-elect at the time, in a Walmart parking lot.

“I do not wish death or hell on you Mr. Barkley. I pray these words of forgiveness do not fall on deaf ears,” his son Blake Schumacher said. “Take this opportunity. Mr. Barkley. Seek Christ in this. Allow Jesus to make something of this mess you have made.”

Justin Barkley stands as Judge John Rowley enters for sentencing. Photo by Kelsey O’Connor/Ithaca Voice

8)  We are still not over Ithaca’s annual Chili Cook-Off 

Ithaca Chili Cook-Off Champs: Who won?—Armed with spoons, hundreds of people filled the Ithaca Commons on Saturday for the 20th Downtown Ithaca Chili Cook-Off.

The winners were as follows:

2018 Best Meat Chili

  • 1st Place: Taverna Banfi – “Burning Hog Chili”
  • 2nd Place: Cayuga Medical Center – “Medicine Man Beef Short Rib”
  • 3rd Place: AGAVA – “Deep, Dank Dark Pork Chili”

2018 Best Vegetarian or Vegan Chili

  • 1st Place: Gorgers – Chipotle lime quinoa chili
  • 2nd Place: GreenStar Natural Foods Market – Vegan smoky tempeh bacon chili
  • 3rd Place: Moosewood Restaurant – Maple Bourbon Chili w/sour cream scallion and tofu bacon

2018 Best Craft Beverage

  • 1st Place: Grist Iron Brewing Company – MaXXimus Brown Ale
  • 2nd Place: Wagner Valley Brewing Co. – Sled Dog Doppelbock
  • 3rd Place: Ithaca Beer Co. – Flower Power India Pale Ale

2018 Best “Other” Food Item

  • Life’s So Sweet Chocolates – Lucifer Falls Chocolate Bark – (part of their Finger Lakes Bark series)
Photo by Jolene Almendarez/The Ithaca Voice

9) Community paints over ‘despicable’ graffiti at Skate Park

Racist graffiti spray painted at Ithaca Skatepark — Graffiti that many people are calling racist was found at the Ithaca Skatepark Saturday and promptly reported to the Ithaca Police Department.

The graffiti is in several locations and says things, such as “Death 2 all apes” and “F— ape ass n—–.”

“It breaks my heart, but I’m also not surprised. Racism has been an issue in this town that people just didn’t talk about for decades,” Ithacan Cynthia Henderson, who reported the graffiti, said. “Like most places, Ithaca is a good place but we have a dark side.”

Later Saturday, several people including Mayor Svante Myrick, elected officials, police officers and community members painted over the slurs.

10) Police still investigating sexually explicit crimes

Ithaca police investigating 2 downtown crimes: woman groped, man exposing himself —Three disturbing sex crimes were reported in the city of Ithaca last week, all with a similar ring to them.

In each instance, a man either groped or exposed himself to an unsuspecting woman. The women all described a similar looking man, though police are saying they are investigating each incident separately.

In two incidents that happened in downtown Ithaca, the man is described as a white male, approximately 5’8″ tall, slim build, wearing dark pants, a black or dark-colored hooded sweatshirt, and a dark-colored baseball cap.

At the crime that happened at Cornell University, the man was described as a white male, between 30-35 years old, about 5’8″ tall, with an oval-shaped face and faint blonde stubble. The student reported that the suspect fled wearing a gray sweatshirt with black sleeves, a blue flat-brimmed hat, blue pants and possibly white high-top sneakers.

Anyone with information about the crimes should contact police using any of the following means:

Police Dispatch: 607-272-3245
Police Administration: 607-272-9973
Police Tipline: 607-330-0000
Email: policeinfo@cityofithaca.org
Anonymous Email Tip Address: www.cityofithaca.org/ipdtips
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ithacapolice
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ithacapolice

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at jalmendarez@ithacavoice.com; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.