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Bishop LaValley to meet with Pope Francis during U.S. visit this month

First published: September 03, 2015 at 12:30 am
Last modified: September 03, 2015 at 1:49 am

Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg Bishop Terry R. LaValley will be traveling to Washington, D.C., and New York City later this month, where he will participate in religious services and meet with Pope Francis during the pontiff’s first official visit to the United States.

Bishop LaValley said Wednesday that he will attend an 11:30 a.m. midday prayer with Pope Francis and other U.S. bishops Sept. 23 at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington. Later in the day, Bishop LaValley will be in attendance as Pope Francis celebrates Mass on the east portico of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, also in Washington.

During the service, Pope Francis will canonize Junipero Serra, a Spanish-born Franciscan friar credited with starting nine Spanish missions in California in the 1700s.

In New York City on Sept. 25, Bishop LaValley is slated to attend an interfaith service with Pope Francis at 11:30 a.m. at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, World Trade Center building. That service will be followed by a 6 p.m. Mass at Madison Square Garden.

The pontiff also will travel on to Philadelphia, Pa., on Sept. 26 and 27, where he will take part in multiple meetings and services and meet with U.S. bishops during his five-day trip to the U.S.

Bishop LaValley said he and other bishops will have an opportunity to speak directly with Pope Francis during his visit, but it is unclear how much time the pontiff’s itinerary will allow for one-on-one dialogue. He said it will be his first meeting with Pope Francis.

“I am afraid that the opportunity for personal dialogue might be rather limited,” Bishop LaValley said. “There will be a lot of folks there. But I’m looking forward to it. It’s a great blessing for the Catholic Church in America, and a great honor and blessing for me as well, as a bishop.”

To help celebrate Pope Francis’s visit to the U.S., the Diocese of Ogdensburg announced through its individual parishes on Tuesday that it was giving away 200 tickets to the Madison Square Garden Mass on a first-come, first-served basis. By Wednesday afternoon, all 200 of the tickets were gone.

In addition to giving away tickets to the Madison Square Garden Mass, diocese officials have organized a bus trip to see Pope Francis celebrate Mass at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia.

He also will take part in a Festival of Families celebration in the city.

The Sept. 27 Mass in Philadelphia is free and as many as one million worshipers are expected to attend, church officials said.

The Diocese of Ogdensburg will provide bus transportation to and from the Philadelphia Mass.

Three buses have been reserved with pickups in Plattsburgh, Massena and Watertown.

The cost for a seat on the bus is $100.

The tentative itinerary for the bus begins with an 8 p.m. departure Sept. 26. The expected arrival in Philadelphia is about 5:30 a.m.

Immediately following the service, travelers will meet at the pickup location for departure about 4 p.m.

On the return trip, the buses will stop at a restaurant for dinner, make a few rest stops along the way and arrive back in the diocese about midnight.

Information about traveling to the event by bus is available at 315-393-2920, ext. 1420.

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Gouverneur Central school tax bills wrong; have to be reissued by St. Lawrence County

First published: September 03, 2015 at 12:30 am
Last modified: September 03, 2015 at 1:49 am

GOUVERNEUR - School tax bills mailed out this week by St. Lawrence County to property owners in the Gouverneur Central School District will be reissued because they omitted veterans exemptions.

Darren W. Colton, director of the county’s Real Property Tax Office, said his office became aware of the mistake after being called Wednesday by a Gouverneur veteran who received his tax bill and noticed the error.

“A computer glitch removed the veteran’s exemption from the bills,” Mr. Colton said Wednesday, “A property owner called who was exempt last year so we started looking into it. Even though the exemptions are on file, they weren’t applied.

The state started allowing veterans exemptions on school tax bills last year and Gouverneur Central is the only St. Lawrence County school district offering them. Between 100 and 150 Gouverneur property owners receive the veterans exemption, with the amount varying among recipients, Mr. Colton said.

“It can be between $10 and $400,” Mr. Colton said.

He said new tax bills will be reissued to all Gouverneur property taxpayers because the exemptions impact how much is charged to the other taxpayers. The bills will be accompanied by a letter and his office plans to mail out the corrected bills on Friday.

“We have to re-run them, but most people will be barely impacted,” Mr. Colton said.

Property owners will have 30 days to pay their bill from the date of the second mailing.

The Gouverneur Village Clerk’s Office collects school tax bills and received about 50 payments on Wednesday, according to village Clerk Barbara A. Finnie.

“Some people get their bill and come right down to pay,” Mrs. Finnie said.

Village Mayor Ronald P. McDougall said there is some confusion over whether the village is allowed to accept payments made on the original bills from those who don’t receive the veteran’s exemption.

“We’re trying to get our arms around this,” he said.

A small portion of St. Lawrence County residents pay school taxes to the Tupper Lake Central School District which also approved exemptions for veterans. Mr. Colton said those bills were correct and the exemptions were included.

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Ogdensburg man faces up to life in prison for attempted burglary

First published: September 03, 2015 at 12:30 am
Last modified: September 03, 2015 at 1:49 am

CANTON — An Ogdensburg man will be sentenced up to life in prison after he accepted a plea deal Wednesday in St. Lawrence Court that halted his trial for a 2014 burglary.

Andrew R. Sharpe, 31, of 1420 Jay St., pleaded guilty to a reduced count of the violent felony of second-degree attempted burglary as a persistent felony offender.

Oct. 1, 2014 Mr. Sharpe unlawfully entered a home located at 421 Judson St. in the city where he stole a lockbox containing marijuana, he told County Court Judge Jerome J. Richards. Mr. Sharpe, who was on parole, was released from state prison six months prior to the crime.

Ogdensburg police responded to the burglary, which occurred at about 5 p.m. and arrested Mr. Sharpe several hours later, during a traffic stop as part of their investigation. The marijuana was found during the stop with the use of the city police’s K9 Unit.

The plea, which came as a deal with the district attorney’s office, was entered just prior to the opening arguments in a trial where Mr. Sharpe was facing charges of second-degree burglary, fourth-degree grand larceny, both felonies, seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and fifth-degree criminal possession marijuana.

Mr. Sharpe’s attorney, Bradford C. Riendeau, had received new evidence in the form of recordings of phone conversations his client had while being held in St. Lawrence County jail. After an argument for the evidence to be precluded from the trial, Mr. Riendeau was given a several hour recess to listen to the recordings with Mr. Sharpe. Judge Richards scheduled opening arguments for 1 p.m.

But at about 12:25 p.m., Mr. Sharpe, took a plea deal after it was discovered that he would have been inevitably tied to the burglary if the tapes were entered into evidence.

Through the recordings according to Mr. Riendeau, Mr. Sharpe was heard telling the person on the other line that if the person showed police where the safe was “I’ve got a problem.”

“It was the first evidence they had that he had knowledge of the safe, Mr. Riendeau said. “The admissions would have overcome any reasonable doubt we could have created with witnesses.”

Mr. Riendeau said there had been other portions of the recording that would not have been favorable to his client, which is what convinced him to take the plea deal.

In the plea deal, Mr. Sharpe will be sentenced to a minimum of 12 years and a maximum of life.

If he had gone to trial and found guilty, he could have been sentenced to a determinate life sentence.

Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 23 and Mr. Sharpe was returned to St. Lawrence County jail where he is being held without bail.

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