You can reach the newsroom by calling 470-2265 or submit news by e-mail to

Call for Council applicants draws 31
Thirty-one Syracuse city residents responded to the call for new applications to fill a vacancy on the Syracuse Common Council, bringing the total number of applicants to 59. Majority Leader Kathleen Joy called for a second round of applications Thursday after council Democrats were unable to agree on a candidate from among the first group of 28 contenders. The deadline was 5 p.m. Monday. The at-large council seat has been open since Bill Ryan resigned Dec. 31 to take a job at City Hall. An election will be held for the position in November, but the council can appoint someone to complete Ryan’s term. Democrats, who hold a 6-2 voting majority, control the process but thus far have failed to agree. Joy said councilors will likely interview a limited number of the new applicants, as they did with the first group. There is no deadline, Joy said, but she would prefer to see a decision ‘‘as soon as possible.’’ One option would be to leave the position unfilled.

Motorist arrested in death of Grimes grad
Andrew Prior, 23, was killed by a hit-and-run driver in November.
By Charles McChesney
Staff writer

Prior graduated in 2005

Tuesday, February 15, 2011 THE POST-STANDARD


Steven Pieper, of Clay, is indicted in the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Jenni-Lyn Watson. A-9


Boston police arrested a man they said is responsible for the killing of a Syracuse man in a hit-and-run accident in November.

Colin Ratiu, 23, of Boston, was arrested Friday, three months after the crash that killed Andrew Prior, 23, a graduate of Bishop Grimes High School. Ratiu was charged with motor vehicle homicide and leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident after causing a death. Boston police had asked the

public for help several times since the crash. ‘‘Investigators asked community members to assist this investigation by being on the lookout for a gray or silver Hyundai Santa Fe (2001 to 2006 model), the vehicle used in the accident, and, thankfully, many did,’’ Boston police said in announcing the arrest.

from Grimes and in 2010 from Northeastern University with degree in sign language. He was riding a scooter through an intersection shortly before midnight Nov. 14 in Boston’s Roxbury section when he was struck. The SUV did not stop after striking Prior. Prior was pronounced dead at a Boston hospital shortly

after the crash. Prior’s brother, John, said Andrew was just beginning a career as a sign-language interpreter. In November, Boston police said the preliminary investigation indicated the SUV was traveling at a high rate of speed and likely had heavy front-end damage.
Contact Charles McChesney at

Sheriff’s Office retires 3 from its K-9 unit, shifts positions
By Rick Moriarty
Staff writer

Fewer Paws on Patrol

Speedy response saved woman
Thick smoke hid Shirley Cavaiolo from her rescuer until he touched her.
By John Mariani
Staff writer

Car slides on ice into child in stroller
Car accident reports poured in across Central New York Monday evening as temperatures plunged from the day’s high of 48 degrees to below freezing by 10 p.m. Icy conditions at Park and Mary streets in Syracuse may have contributed to a close call for a 3-year-old. Police said a 13-year-old was pushing the toddler in a stroller and entered the path of a car which was unable to stop before the car lightly tapped the stroller. The children were unhurt, said Sgt. Gary Bulinski, who added that the car and the stroller were undamaged as well. The crying toddler was taken to an area hospital as a precaution, he said.

CBA students learn about disabilities
Students at Christian Brothers Academy will learn about what it’s like to live with a disability during their physical education classes today. Greg Callen, founder of Move Along Inc. who was left paralyzed after an accident, will speak to students and lead 3-on-3 wheelchair basketball demonstrations. Callen founded Move Along to help people with disabilities take part in physical activities and learn life skills. Callen was invited to the school by Christian Brothers Academy eighth-grader Christina Kim, who is a Move Along Inc. participant.

Budget cuts eliminated 20 patrol deputy positions at the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office this year. And now they’re hitting the department’s K-9 unit. The department has cut the size of its K-9 unit from eight dogs to five in the last several months. Three German shepherds — Gabo, Gabi and Jesse — have been retired, leaving the unit with four shepherds and one bloodhound. ‘‘Given the economic times and given the cutbacks — we’ve lost 20 positions in the police side of the house that were eliminated from this year’s budget — it just puts us in a position where to have to rethink everything we’re doing and how we’re doing it to meet our manpower,’’ Sheriff Kevin Walsh said. He said the unit has had eight dogs as long as he can remember. The reduction to five dogs will not save the department a lot of money — just veterinary and food costs. But it has allowed the department to reassign three dog handlers to regular patrol positions that otherwise would go unfilled, Walsh said. When not responding to calls specifically requiring a K-9 unit, the department’s dog handlers have always been available to answer other types of police calls. But now one sergeant and two deputies are available to answer patrol calls all the time, the sheriff said. The unit still has four dog handlers (one handles two dogs). Walsh said the retired dogs will be kept by their handlers as pets. The useful life of police dogs is eight to 10 years, and the three dogs that were retired were approaching the end of their careers. Gabo

MIKE GRAHAM, an Onondaga County Sheriff’s deputy, demonstrates a training session with the K-9 unit Thursday at the heliport in Warners. The dog, named Anita, has been trained in the detection of explosives.

David Lassman / The Post-Standard

was nearly 10 years old. Gabi was 8 years old. And Jesse was 7 years, 6 months old. However, during more fiscally flush times, the department would have replaced them with new dogs after a 13-week training course, Walsh said. ‘‘They get to a certain point where their working life is beyond its prime,’’ he said. ‘‘It varies from dog to dog, particularly if they have hip conditions and those kinds of things and they just get to a point where they can’t do the physical requirements.’’ One other dog, a shepherd named Athos, is 8 years, 1 month old, and is nearing retirement. He will be replaced.

The K-9 unit responds to about 735 calls a years, ranging from searches for missing people, tracking criminal suspects and building, drug and bomb searches. Walsh said the county will call on the Syracuse police K-9 unit if a sheriff’s dog is not available to answer a call. The two departments have always assisted each other. But the departments are hoping to formalize that arrangement in a memorandum of understanding, he said. ‘‘We long ago started training together with K-9s, and we’re talking about exactly how we could work out, in case our bomb dog

isn’t available and theirs is, in case our drug dog isn’t available and theirs is and vice versa,’’ Walsh said. Syracuse police said they have no plans to reduce the size of their K-9 unit, which has seven dogs, all German shepherds. Nationally, there is a trend toward cutting the size of police K-9 squads to save money, said Sgt. Tim Stepien, who supervises the Syracuse police K-9 unit. But in Syracuse, a reduction would save very little money because all members of its unit frequently answer regular police calls, he said.
Contact Rick Moriarty at or 470-3148.

Quick action by a Skaneateles police officer and effective work by firefighters are being cited for rescuing a woman from a fire Sunday and saving the 195-year-old building that houses her home and business. Officer Eric Sharpsteen crawled on his hands and knees under the dense smoke and up a staircase, where he found Shirley Cavaiolo conscious but unable to find her way out, police Chief H. Lloyd Perkins III said. Sharpsteen guided Cavaiolo outdoors four minutes after her husband, Frank Cavaiolo, discovered the blaze in their downstairs business, the Chestnut Cottage gift shop at 75 E. Genesee St. In that time, Frank Cavaiolo hollered to his wife to get out, rescued one of their cats and telephoned Onondaga County E-911 at 9:28 p.m. Driven out by smoke, Cavaiolo then escaped the fire, Perkins said. Skaneateles and other fire companies arrived in moments and brought the blaze under control within a half-hour, Skaneateles Fire Chief Eric Sell said. The building sustained fire damage on the first floor, where the gift shop is located, and smoke, water and heat damage upstairs, Sell said. But the damage mainly is cosmetic, said Jorge Batlle, the village’s code enforcement officer. The wood-frame house, its original portion dating to 1816, remains structurally sound, he said. Numerous additions, partitions and staircases made the fire difficult to fight, as did the heat and thick, acrid smoke produced by the building’s old-fashioned construction, Sell said. According to Post-Standard archives, the couple have operated the Chestnut Cottage

See a video from the scene at

Snowman contest to help Make-A-Wish
The first SquareMan Contest, a snowman competition to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central New York, will be held from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday at SugarMOST Park in Armory Square. The Sugarman Law Firm is sponsoring the event in which local businesses will create snowmen for an entry fee of $25 per team. All proceeds will go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions.
— Staff reports

MPH head Baxter Ball, known as advocate for kids, dies at 64
Both the private school’s enrollment and endowment surged under his tenure.
By Elizabeth Doran
Staff writer

An article Monday had the wrong first name for a man running for Skaneateles village trustee. The candidate is James Lanning, not Jeff Lanning.

Baxter Ball, the head of Manlius Pebble Hill School in DeWitt since 1990, has died. Ball, 64, died either late Sunday or early Monday, said Susan Gullo, speaking for MPH. She said he had been suffering from a bad cold the last few days, but hadn’t been seriously ill. He broke his leg before Christmas, but had recovered from that injury. Faculty and staff learned of his death early Monday afternoon. Teachers plan to talk to students today and have coun-

selors available at the school for students and staff. ‘‘He was visionary, and was a great believer in the potential of all kids,’’ Gullo said. ‘‘He wanted them to find their own niche. He never said ‘no’ to students: if they wanted to start a bizarre club, he’d say ‘go ahead.’ He was a defender of kids, and he was their advocate.’’ Ball lived behind the school and had three grown children: Donald, Jonathan and Rebecca. He was awaiting the birth of his first grandchild, school officials said. Ball came to MPH from Albany, where he was head of the upper school at the Albany Academy. He made significant improvements at MPH. The

school had only one building when he arrived. Since then, three buildings have been added: the Center for Early Learning, a science building and a humanities building. Under his leadership, enrollment surged from about 200 students to about 600 today, and the schools endowment went from several thousand dollars to $4.7 million, Gullo said. When Ball joined MPH, the school didn’t have any full-time performance arts faculty; he established a robust performing arts department, she said. MPH also was one of the first schools in the area to offer Chinese language instruction. Ball loved American and European history and art and

BAXTER BALL, head of Manlius Pebble Hill School, died overnight Sunday. He was 64.

Angela Madonia / The Post-Standard, 2008

early days, Gullo said. He taught classes about the history of MPH to students. Tracy Frank, the school’s chief financial officer, will serve as interim head of He loved to read, knew a lot school. about antiques and collected Contact Elizabeth Doran at memorabilia from the school’s or 470-3012. studied history at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. He received his master’s degree from Bowling Green State University.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful