Author Archives: Janine Mack

Labor Union, SIDA Push to Hire Locally For Construction Jobs

Labor union says not only are out-of-state people hired, but so are undocumented immigrants

© 2013 Janine Mack

© 2013 Janine Mack

By Janine Mack SYRACUSE (NCC NEWS) — The International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers says more needs to be done so that Central New Yorkers are hired for construction jobs.

Last Tuesday, the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency voted to require developers and companies seeking financial assistance to hire local workers for their projects. SIDA says many of the companies they work with already hire locally.

A CNY Labor Union disagrees. They say RockTenn in Solvay, which is owned by Universal Limited Inc. out of Birmingham Alabama, had 12 out of the 20 workers arrested June 10th arrested for being undocumented workers. The peopled worked for the manufacturing company in the boiler house.

RockTenn has a lease land agreement with Industrial Development Agency Business Manager of International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Bob Reap says this is an example of why this requirement is important.

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Reap says that RockTenn is not the only construction company to hire out-of-state or undocumented immigrants. CNY Area Labor Federation says when Destiny USA, Syracuse University, Hotel Syracuse and the Inner Harbor hired undocumented workers to expand or renovate.

The labor union says there are too many Central New Yorkers with experience that need a job.

“If you hire local labor, whether it’s union or non-union, that money gets turned over up to 7 times back into the economy,” Bob Reap says.

SIDA says that the companies they work with already hires locally and this was just a push to enforce that message. Sometimes they do get requests for an exemption from hiring locally, but that is the exception, not the rule.

“At a time when public resources are limited, we want to make sure we’re getting the biggest bang for our buck,” says Ben Walsh, deputy commissioner and executive director of the city’s office of Neighborhood & Business Development.

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If you are looking locally for a job, visit SIDA’s website to see what agreements are being made to hire construction and manufacturing workers, visit the New York State Department of Labor website or visit International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers website.

Water Safety Should Be Part of Summer Fun

CDC says drowning is the fifth leading cause of death

© 2013 Janine Mack

By Janine Mack SYLVAN BEACH (NCC NEWS) — The Centers for Disease Control says drowning is the fifth cause of unintentional death the United States. Nearly four thousand people die a year and ten people die everyday. Of those ten people, two are children. With the official start of summer two days away and Syracuse city schools ending for the year tomorrow, NCC News spoke to two experts in Central New York about how to keep your family safe in the water.

Tips on how to stay safe in water

Lifeguard Judy Spilka, the CDC and the Coordinator of Aquatics and Sports at the YMCA Alena Anthony all offer these tips on water safety:

  • Supervise When in or Around Water.

    © 2013 Janine Mack

    Designate a responsible adult to watch young children while children are swimming or playing in or around water. Adults or lifeguards should not be involved in any other distracting activity (such as reading, playing cards, talking on the phone, or mowing the lawn).

  • Use the Buddy System. Always swim with a buddy.
  • Learn to Swim. Formal swimming lessons can protect young children from drowning. However, even when children have had formal swimming lessons, constant, careful supervision when children are still important.
  • Learn Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). In the time it takes for paramedics to arrive, your CPR skills could save someone’s life.
  • Air-Filled or Foam Toys are not safety devices. Don’t use air-filled or foam toys, such as “water wings”, “noodles”, or inner-tubes, instead of life jackets.
  • Avoid Alcohol. Avoid drinking alcohol before or during swimming, boating, or water skiing. Do not drink alcohol while supervising children.
  • Don’t let swimmers hyperventilate before swimming underwater or try to hold their breath for long periods of time. This can cause them to pass out and drown.

Web exclusive: Some more tips and water safety techniques

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Anthony says often parents are too scared to get the water with their children. She encourages families to learn how to swim together so everyone can stay safe.

“You’re never too old to learn how to swim,” Alena Anthony said, coordinator of sports and aquatics at the YMCA in Syracuse.

There are pools at the YMCA located in Fayetteville, Liverpool and downtown Syracuse. There you can get information on swim lessons, aquatic environment, First Aid and CPR classes or anything else to stay safe in the water.

If you already know how to swim, you can still visit the YMCA. The YMCA is collecting new and used swim suits to donate to needy inner city children in Syracuse.

Watch more of the story here

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Cuomo Administration Pushes Tax-Free Proposal

Attendees leave with more questions than answers about Tax-Free NY

© 2013 Janine Mack

By Janine Mack SYRACUSE (NCC NEWS) — Gov. Andrew Coumo’s administration answered questions today about Tax-Free NY. Meetings were held at SUNY campuses state-wide; including, Syracuse’s ESF campus.

Dierdre Scozzafava, Deputy Secretary of State for Local Government, was in Syracuse, Matthew Driscoll, President and and CEO of Environmental Facilities Corp., was in Auburn and Brian Stratton, Director of New York State Canal Corporation was in Buffalo pushing the proposal.

Cuomo officials say if Tax-Free NY is approved, it would give tax breaks to businesses near SUNY campuses or colleges. Businesses would have to share the mission of a college or university near them and create jobs to apply for the tax break. If the proposal and the business is approved, they would not pay local, state or property tax for ten years.

“The more tax free and if they can show that the regulatory environment is becoming more streamline in the state and that makes it easier to do business as well,” said Scozzafava.

The goal is start new businesses, create more jobs, and bring even more money than just taxes into New York State.

© 2013 Janine Mack

© 2013 Janine Mack

SUNY campuses say it will bring more businesses

There were fifteen people and one reporter at SUNY-ESF’s morning meeting. Dierdre Scozzafava highlighted certain aspects of the program by referencing a power point presentation and by asking SUNY-ESF president Neil Murphy to answer questions she did not know.

At SUNY-ESF, they plan to an application program and will recommend companies to the state, if the bill is passed.

“Any of the kinds of things that are within the scope of what we teach our students,” said Murphy of the application process.

Critics say the program hurts existing businesses

© 2013 Blue Rock Energy

Phil Van Horne, president of Syracuse-based Blue Rock Energy cited a similar failed attempt called the Empire Zone program. This program was suppose to give tax credits to companies that did not create new jobs, but some companies did not create jobs.

“If you take a company like Blue Rock, where we’ve created 41 jobs in the last 10 years, and now if they created a competitor for us say on a local campus,” said Van Horne. “Not only would that competitor be subsidized, by all the other tax payers; including, me. It would raid our employees, because they could go work for them and not pay any taxes either. It’s really a double hit against those of us who started a business and have been successful.”

Scozzafava asked the audience at ESF to call their local officials to support this bill. Cuomo wants this to pass before the end of this session, which is June 20. The 48-page bill has not been sent to the Legislature yet.

Watch more of the story here:

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New Yorkers oppose hydrofracking

Pompey joined a growing grassroots movement that wants to stop hydrofracking

© 2013 Janine Mack

By Janine Mack POMPEY (NCC NEWS) — A town in New York with fewer than 10,000 people wants to protect the environment and the health of its people. Nearly 100 people came from throughout Central New York to hear the decision. The vote was on Monday at 7 p.m. inside Pompey’s town hall meeting.

“What we’ve seen is democracy in action,” said Joesph Heath, a lawyer and environmental activist.

Three town board members voted in favor of the ban. Two town board members did not vote. Town lawyer Jeff Brown says the two town board members are interested in this issue, but the two board members wanted to avoid a conflict of interest.

Hydrofracking is the process of mixing chemicals, high pressure and water to extract natural gas. Many people in rural New York State own private wells so this is cause for concern. Town board member Victor LaFrenz says other issues with hydrofracking are pollution, traffic, and noise.

“This is Pompey,” said Carol Marsh, town supervisor. “This is your town. We’ve listened to you for nearly two years now.”

If anyone was in favor, you could not tell at the meeting. There was no protests, outcries or comments from the other side. The town board did research other places where hydrofracking works such as Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, the natural gas industry brings in a lot of money and a lot of jobs. The law maybe changed in the future if the town wants to change it.

Pompey is one of 50 municipalities that ban hydrofracking

Pompey is not the only town that has 90 percent of its residents who own wells. Interlaken has a similar law up for discussion. Dewitt, Ithaca and Skaneateles have bans as well. For a list of all the towns and cities in New York state that have bans; including, Syracuse then click here.

“Town after town saying we don’t it. It’s a wonderful movement and inspirational,” said Joe Heath.

Onondaga County has a countywide ban. A statewide ban has stalled in Albany. To follow developments on the statewide ban, visit Governor Andrew Cuomo’s website.

Watch more:

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La Casita Cultural Center Improving Lives

Creating a community through art, culture and education


© 2013 Janine Mack

By Janine Mack SYRACUSE (NCC News) – After school, many children run to the sounds of Spanish music coming out of La Casita Cultural Center.

“The idea is to reduce the drop out rate among Latinos, because the numbers are still high,” said Luiz Encarnacion, one of the volunteers.

The center is located on 109 Otisco St. on the west side of Syracuse. It was founded in the fall 2011 by Inmaculada Lara-Bonilla and Tere Paniagua as way to keep disadvantaged Latino children off the streets and out of trouble. The center is housed on the ground floor of the former Lincoln Supply building, and it provides tutoring, dance lessons and an art gallery. La Casita’s initial funding came from the Route 2 Restore New York communities grant.

“A lot of these kids have mental disabilty, a learning disabilty, and it’s difficult for the school district to have room or space for all the kids,” said Encarnacion.

The center has students of all ages and has become a casita to all the Latino children. When it snows there is  winter break, the kids come there. The volunteers do not get paid and serve as a go between the school, the parents and the community.

“It’s like having a second mom, because she takes care of us and looks out for us. And even she punish us if we do something wrong,” said Jayña Deldado, 10h grader at Fowler High School.

A little something for everyone

La Casita has an exhibit open Monday through Friday from 12 noon to 6 p.m. running until April 21 called “Message of Sisterhood“.

The teenagers are learning how to take pictures through the photography series through April 10. The Bomba dance workshops are open students of all ages, and they are held on Monday, tuesday and Friday from 3 p.m. to 5p.m. every week.

The center is also looking for adults to help with mentoring the children. For more information, contact the center by calling (315) 443-1879 or emailing

Watch the story here:

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New Restaurant Serves Gourmet Meals with a Slice of Hands-on Experience

Cornell University students take a bite out of the hotel business

© 2013 Janine Mack

By Janine Mack ITHACA (NCC News) – As the sun sets on Cornell University’s campus, one place is full of people and is run by students.

“Every few weeks I like to come and see how the students are doing,” said Preston Clark, information systems and computer professor at Cornell University.

The place is called Establishment. It was launched in the fall 2012, but the idea for a student-run restaurant in Cornell University’s Hotel School of Administration has been part of a restaurant management class since the 1980s.

“The idea came to return to a model that we used up until about 2005,” said Alex Susskind, associate professor of food and beverage management. “The students have complete control over this operation.”

Before the doors open, students take two classes and receive on the job training before enrolling in the course. They learn every aspect of service by rotating positions in the front of the house such as servers and the back of the house such as cooking.

Each student is assigned a night when they manage either the kitchen or the service. All three managers come together to decide the theme, the specials and the decor.

“For management, it was a real good experience. You’ve got to organize the whole thing. You’ve got to prepare and do all the prep,” said Carlos Savasto, kitchen service manager and senior.

 Students serve up budget-friendly gourmet food

© 2013 Janine Mack

One night the specials on menu was bacon night. On bacon night, bacon was cooked into an avocado grilled cheese sandwich, a burger and an ice cream sundae.

A few nights later, it was jazz night. The specials were a pork shoulder and a jumbo crab cake.

Other highlights of the menu are steak frites that features a New York strip, mushrooms and fries; the fish and chips with tempura-battered haddock, shoestring fries and a tartar sauce; and a korean lettuce wrap with chicken or tofu, lettuce, pickled daikon, and rice. The prices range from $4 to $16.

“Back of the house was kind of great, because you rotate between different positions back there. One night doing cold food. The next is hot,” said Braden Birch, server and senior.

Professors and teaching assistants are always on-hand to ensure the best dining experience for guests. Each year a new group of students become employees.

“We did make money, but the idea isn’t to make money,” said Susskind. “The profit isn’t the driving force. It’s the educational motive.”

The restaurant is open Monday through Thursday from 5:45 p.m. to 8 p.m. while class is in session. Reservations are recommended and can be made online at Establishment’s website.

Watch the story here:

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James St. Renamed Jackie Robinson Way

First Black female anchor of Syracuse gets prestigious honor

© 2012 Janine Mack

By Janine Mack SYRACUSE (NCC NEWS) – The City of Syracuse renamed a section of James St., between Oak St. and DeWitt St., Jackie Robinson Way. The name change is part of a two-day celebration to honor the first black female anchor in Syracuse.

“Jackie was one of the first Newhouse students to get hired by the station and over the years has risen to be a personality within the community,” Common Council President Van Robinson said.

Jackie Robinson grew up in Syracuse and started working at WSTM in the 1970s.

“When I crossed the stage at Syracuse University, I never thought that my degree would allow me the opportunity to do so much,” Jackie Robinson said.

Other trailblazers such as the first woman mayor, Stephanie Miner, and the first black common council president, Van Robinson, talked about what she meant to them and the community.

The new street name is outside of CNY Central‘s building. The broadcaster also had a retirement party.

The former news anchor had a “Community Retirement” party on Thursday, Nov. 29 at the On-Center. Tickets were $75 a plate.

“It was a labor of love. We thank all of you for coming to enjoy the evening,” said Jean Philips, one of the organizers.

The event kicked off with a happy hour and live band where people networked. Once the ballroom doors opened, attendees were served a five course meal. Several people and community organizations from the Greater Syracuse community saluted Jackie Robinson.

“You’ve touched the minds and the hearts of a lot of people, myself included,” Frank Fowler said, the chief of Syracuse police.

Robinson received a proclaimation from the City of Syracuse and several gifts from attendees. The night ended with a dance party.

“Thank you for blazing the trail for all of us,” said Mayor Stephanie Miner. “And once again thank you for representating us so well when we were watching you and probably almost more importantly when we were not.”

Common councilor Van Robinson adds, “I just hope that more Jackie Robinsons will emerge from it all.”

Watch the story here:

Thanksgiving Travel To Increase For A Fourth Straight Year

AAA predicts nearly 50 million to travel over the next week

© 2012 Janine Mack

By Janine Mack SYRACUSE (NCC NEWS) – Fourty-three million people are expected to travel from Nov. 21 to Nov. 25. Thirty-nine million — or 90 percent — of people will drive. Wednesday, Nov. 21, Sunday, Nov. 25 and Monday, Nov. 26 will be the busiest travel days.

“We tend to see driving as the majority and it’s still very economical for a family,” said Diana Dibble, public affairs manager, AAA of Western and Central New York.

AAA advocates for safety and for security of all travelers.

Why are so many people on the road?

“People are still being cautious in their spending,” Dibble said.

This causes more people to hit the road. For example, if you wanted to get to New York City from Syracuse, the cost varies greatly.

  • In a car, it would cost $40 to $80 depending on the make and the model of the car and tolls.
  • On a plane from Syracuse Hancock International Airport, the average round trip ticket is $188.
  • On an Amtrak train, a round trip ticket is $100.
  • On a Greyhound bus, a round trip ticket is $80.

Despite gas in Syracuse and in Central New York at $3.73 a gallon, the Sunoco gas station on Erie Blvd. was packed with people getting gas.

“We don’t expect gas prices to have an impact on the volume of travelers,” Dibble said. “Seventy-five percent of people traveling indicated their primary reason was for spending time with friends and family.”

AAA said the average person will travel 588 miles, or the distance between Syracuse and Norfolk, Va, which is down from last year, and half of all travelers plan to shop during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Here are a few tips to stay safe with so many more cars on the road

  • Make sure to drive a well-maintained vehicle.
  • Check your route before you go.
  • Anticipate delays or detours.
  • Check the forecast and be prepared.
  • Let family know your route and anticipated arrival.
  • Allow yourself plenty of time.
  • Drive when you are normally awake and get some sleep before the drive.
  • Carry a fully charged cell phone.

The National Safety Council added a few more things to the safety list:

“Know your limitations,” David Daniels said, retired school bus driver. “Add an extra second of safe distance.”

“Stay off the cell phone. Do not answer it,” Matthew Thompson, school bus driver. “If you have to answer it, pull over.”

“I ended up getting one driver on my tail, because they wanted to tailgate. Tailgating is dangerous,” Don Cotton said, retired post office driver.

“What we need to do is sit back, enjoy the family and above all else be safe,” David Daniels said.

Watch more of the story here:

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Suicide Is One Of The Leading Causes Of Death Due To Injury

Millions commit suicide every year in the U.S.

Michele Pilchen

By Janine Mack SYRACUSE (NCC NEWS) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said nearly 40,000 people committed suicide in the United States. The American Journal of Public Health ranked suicide the number one cause of death and their research is located online here.

“Suicide is an outcome that has many causes,” Dr. Joseph Himmelsbach, clinical associate professor at SUNY’s Department of Psychiatry said. “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”

According to Dr. Joseph Himmelsbach, most friends or family members of those who committed suicide notice a change in their friend or loved one.

Warning signs of suicide

Here is a list of warning signs:

  • Talking about wanting to die.
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself.
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or not having a purpose.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  • Talking about being a being a burden to others.
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Acting anxious, agitated or recklessly.
  • Sleeping too little or too much.
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated.
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.

“Most survivors of suicide get severe guilt,” Dr. Himmelsbach said. “The signs are subtle.”

One suicide survivor is taking a stand against suicide

Michele Philchen is one of the many people dealing with the loss of a loved one to suicide on a regular basis.

“I was 19 and my family was going through some hard times and we were talking on the phone,” Michele Philchen said of her grandfather. “He said ‘Some days I just want to take my gun out and end it all.'”

That would be the last conversation she would have with her grandfather. After her friend, Howard Fung, committed suicide, she knew seeing a therapist was not enough. She joined “Stand Against Suicide,” where she volunteers as an American Sign Language Interpreter.

“I meet Tara and it just felt right. And it feels better knowing that these people have gone through the same thing,” Philcen said.

Stand Against Suicide met Tuesdays from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Elbridge Community Church located at 109 E. Main St. in Elbridge. Stand Against Suicide is volunteer-based support group.

What should you do if you suspect someone is suicidal

If you think someone is showing suicidal signs, here are a few ways to help:

  • Do not leave that person alone.
  • Remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Life Line at (800) 273-8255 or in Spanish, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at (877) 784-2432.
  • Seek help from a medical professional or take the person to the nearest hospital.

Watch more of the story here

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Syracuse Planning Commission Delays Vote On Selling Holy Trinity’s Stained Glass Windows

A community is fighting back over the loss of history

© 2012 Janine Mack

By Janine Mack SYRACUSE (NCC NEWS) – Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church merged with St. John the Baptist in August of 2004. The Holy Trinity Church building needs $115,000 for a roof replacement, $24,000 for interior wall and ceiling repairs, and $18,000 for electrical repairs. St. John the Baptist, the new owners, cannot afford the repairs so they decided to close and to sell the building’s 22 stained glass windows. This angered many former church members.

“When we merged, we were told that the new parish would inherit the debt and the finances and take care of both buildings. This has not happened,” Anne Angiolillo said, a church member for 35 years and the former organist.

St. John the Baptist wants to sell the stained glass windows to St. John the Baptist in Zachary, La.

“It is a locally protected site by the Holy Trinity Parish, ” said Kate Auwaerter, preservation planner with the City of Syracuse.

The city denied the request once before, and St. John the Baptist appealed. The final decision on it was delayed until November 15, said the city of Syracuse.

How the church doors closed

Anne Angiolillo said the parish began to weaken in 2005. At the time the parishioners did not know what was happening, but little things started to make a difference in the church attendance and donations.

courtesy Anne Angiolillo

“They don’t seem to care. All they are worried about now is how much money can they get,” Angiolillo said.

She went on to say that she went to services at other churches in the neighborhood since Holy Trinity’s closing. It was not the same. She has never been to St. John the Baptist for service.

Many of the former parishioners still do not know why their church was closed and why communication between St. John the Baptist and the Catholic Diocese of Syracuse  just stopped.

“We have never gotten to speak with the Bishop,” Angiolillo said. Bishop Robert Cunningham is the head of the Catholic church in Syracuse.

History of Holy Trinity Church

courtesy of Anne Angiolillo

Holy Trinity Parish was founded in 1891. The church building is located on 501 Park Street in the north side of Syracuse and was dedicated in 1912. In 1890, Mrs. Frederick Schneider petitioned Bishop Ludden to provide a more accessible religious school, because at the time the nearest parish was four miles away. Holy Trinity Parish was bound together by their German heritage and strong Catholic faith.

Holy Trinity Parish built a school in 1959. Holy Trinity School offered classes for grades Kindergarten to 8th. The school closed in 1987, but Holy Trinity rents the school building to the City of Syracuse School District so you still see children running in and out of the parking lot during the day. The church’s parking lot is the site of the original church-school building. The cornerstone was laid by Bishop Ludden on August 7, 1912 and is located to the left of the front steps. Electronic bells were used to call people to Mass and to announce the death of a parishioner.

On the weekends, Holy Trinity Church offered weekend adult class and meeting space for church and community groups. The church had a food pantry and fed the community. A woman walked by and asked when will it open?

Holy Trinity Church has 22 stained glass windows. Ten of the windows were put in from 1916 to 1917 by Otto Andrle of Buffalo. His signature is still on some of the windows. The glass was imported for Germany and the script is in German.

One window stands out the most on the east side of the church. It is called “Storm on the Lake.”  A small boat is tossed on the waves with lightning and clouds in the background. The Lord is calm, serene, oblivious to the problem. “Lord, help us! We are perishing, Matthew 8:25”. Each window has a meaning that carries on religious meaning of the church.

Another window on the west side of the church stands out. It is called the “Holy Family and Trinity”. The Holy Family with Mary and Joseph on either side of Jesus. It symbolizes the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus made to mankind.

What are the next steps?

Jon Werner is the former pastor of Holy Trinity Church and the current pastor of St. John the Baptist.

In a statement emailed to NCC News, Jon Werner said, “The beauty of the church is undisputed. What is disputed is how best to preserve its mission and purpose as expressed in undisputed artistry. Central to this discussion is the windows. The windows are a primary aspect of a consistent theology and unified architecture with one purpose — to promote the Catholic faith. We ask that you allow us to continue the contemporary Catholic mission and fulfill the mission of our ancestors by allowing the removal of the windows for relocation in another Catholic Church where they will continue on the mission of the universal Church: to preach, to teach and to sanctify.”

© 2012 Janine Mack

“Give it time and effort to find it new uses,” said Kate Auwaerter. “It’s important on the north side that this does not drag on the neighborhood.”

Anne Angiolillo and a “Group of Concerned Parishioners” took her fight to the highest court, the Vatican. The Vatican ruled in favor of the parishioners who want to re-open the church. There are at least 20 people who attend the Group of Concerned Parishioners meetings.

“It would be great if we could have a church again even it is not Roman Catholic. We could have weddings, events and get the community involved again,” Angiolillo said.

Angiolillo went onto say if it is not a church again, she hopes the building continues the Holy Trinity Church mission by giving back to the north side community.

A vote on the appeal is expected at the next Landmark and Preservation Commission meeting on November 15.

Watch more of the story and see the windows here: