Joe Labernik, Observer-Dispatch

Joe Labernik


Utica, NY, United States

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Past articles by Joe:

Suicidal suspect in custody after car found at MVCC

UTICA —A suspect is in custody after Mohawk Valley Community College reported a possible gunman on campus Saturday morning.At about 9:30 a.m., the Utica Police Department was dispatched to assist the Oneida County Sheriff Office in attempting to find a suicidal subject armed with a handgun and believed to be in the Utica area, city police said.The subject’s vehicle eventually was found… → Read More

Students react after suicidal suspect's car found at MVCC

UTICA — Dave and Debra Sampson were in a driver’s education class at Mohawk Valley Community College on Saturday morning when a fellow student announced a text alert warning about an active shooter."We called campus security and they said stay in place," Dave Sampson said. "We locked the door, put stuff in front of the door, and kind of just stayed there and waited.""Everyone stayed calm," Debra… → Read More

Utica police: Drones a 'unique issue' to security efforts

UTICA — It is safe to say that the air space above the Boilermaker Road Race is a no-fly zone.An added focus of Boilermaker security experts → Read More

Fire reported in East Utica

UTICA — City firefighters Friday night responded to a fire at a vacant warehouse in East Utica.Crews responded around 8:45 p.m. to the corner of Bleecker and Oscar streets and reported flames coming from a window when they arrived.A short time later, crews reported that the bulk of the flames were extinguished.Officials said the fire was contained to one room on the first floor, but smoke had… → Read More

Herkimer Co. Chamber of Commerce acknowledges half century

Ilion — The Herkimer County Chamber of Commerce’s 50th anniversary certainly got the fanfare it deserved.Besides hosting four-time Olympian Erin Hamlin as its guest speaker, Vice Chairman of the Herkimer County Legislature Vincent Bono announced that Friday would be the “Herkimer County Chamber of Commerce Day” in Herkimer County.“(I) urge the residents of this great county to join in the… → Read More

Cast of Adirondack Scenic Railroad donates 'Polar Express' tickets

UTICA — It seems the generosity of the Christmas season hasn’t ended, even in April.As tickets for the Adirondack Scenic Railroad’s "The Polar Express Train Ride" show went on sale April 1, the cast bought a few for the less fortunate at The House of the Good Shepherd.“(The kids at the house don’t typically) get to do something like this,” said railroad volunteer Grace DeGeorge, 17. “It’s good… → Read More

Local author donating book proceeds to Hope House

UTICA — Author Miss Doddie didn’t want to write her new book, “At the Table with Jesus.”She felt it was something she needed to do.Now, as she plans for the book’s release party, the long-time Cornhill resident wants to donate all the sales to Hope House.“(Hope House helps) a lot of people that I know,” Doddie wrote in an email. “I hope this donation will help Hope House be a help to the… → Read More

Local farmers split on genetically engineered crops

It seems like something out of science fiction — taking the DNA of one organism and replacing it with part of another.Yet, the idea has been a part of the agriculture industry for years, with the debate centered around genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.A GMO isn’t necessarily an organism with manipulated DNA, however. What some people call GMOs most farmers call hybridized plants.This is… → Read More

Party like it's 1930: Brewery hosts Prohibition Party

UTICA — They partied like it was 1930: suspenders, boas and flapper dresses included.On Friday, the 10th annual Prohibition Party invaded the F.X. Matt Brewery. Men in fedoras and pinstripe suits and women in stilettos and flower headbands walked through the brewery, participating in one of St. Elizabeth Campus of the Mohawk Valley Health System's biggest fundraisers of the year.“We live in… → Read More

They'll be lovin' it in Washington Mills

WASHINGTON MILLS — An era is coming to a close, but for local businessman Harold “Tom” Clark Jr., a new one will begin this summer.The local businessman is renown for owning numerous local McDonald’s (besides his philanthropy). He’s been a part of the franchise since the 1970s, buying one of his earliest buildings in Washington Mills at 3918 Oneida St.That building recently was torn down.… → Read More

Public Eye: Illegal handicapped parking a problem, reader contends

UTICA — It seems not all the parking problems in Utica have been fixed. Recently, a reader wrote into the Observer-Dispatch about issues with non-handicapped drivers parking in handicapped parking spots. “Whenever I go shopping, whether it is for groceries, to the mall or any shopping center in Utica I cannot believe all the vehicles I see parked in the handicap spots without a handicap… → Read More

Utica Zoo finances improving, officials say

in 2011, the zoo's budget was somewhere between $765,000 and $785,000. Now, it's roughly $2 million. → Read More

Maintenance projects could be key to Utica Zoo's accreditation

UTICA — The Utica Zoo is looking for a little reaffirmation of its vision — and also some benefits for its members.After the zoo lost its Association of Zoos and Aquariums accreditation in the mid 2000s, it always eyed a return to the organization.This year, the Utica Zoo applied for accreditation Feb. 24 with what Utica Zoo Executive Director Andria Heath said was a “confident written… → Read More

MWPAI's First Friday Happy Hour 'a big social event'

UTICA — Beer, wine and art made for the perfect mix Friday at Munsons-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute for the museum’s monthly First Friday Happy Hour.The event is a happy hour that attempts to engage community members with live music and craft activities. On Friday, the museum had collage-making sessions, offered small tours and hosted the band Chris Eves & the New Normal.“I think people are… → Read More

Notre Dame NJROTC marches off to Florida

UTICA — Waiting for an escort by the Utica police and the fire departments Tuesday morning, Notre Dame Junior-Senior High School’s Cadet Lt. Cmdr. Sarah Snyder wasn’t fazed by the morning’s brisk temperatures."We come in every morning at (7 a.m.) and we practice every single day," Snyder said. "(We) keep the kids involved, keep them happy but also get them stronger and more involved."The Notre… → Read More

The bionic arm of the law

UTICA — It is an art to deconstruct the memory of a digital device.Anthony Martino, director of the Northeast Cybersecurity and Forensics Center at Utica College, is an artist in that respect. Having founded the center from a literal supply closet, Martino was the person who mined a backup of Kaitlyn Conley’s iPhone and testified in the trial and retrial in the 2015 poisoning death of… → Read More

Cyberforensic field growing, but workers are scarce

The dearth of cybersecurity workers has forced many organizations to share facilities — such as the Northeast Cybersecurity and Forensics Center at Utica College, a program that grew out of a supply closet at the Utica Police Department.“If you can name a law enforcement agency, we were probably doing work for them — FBI, Secret Service, Homeland Security, DEA, state police, county sheriffs,”… → Read More

Police investigating possible suicide at Adirondack Bank building

UTICA — Utica police are investigating the death of a man who possibly jumped off the roof of the downtown Adirondack Bank Building on Genesee Street.Though much of their evidence leads them to believe its was a suicide, they have not ruled out homicide as a possibility, authorities said."At this point, all evidence (suggests) this is a suicide," said Utica Police spokesman Lt. Bryan Coromato,… → Read More

Daughtry to play Thursday at the Stanley

UTICA — It started with the grunge and alternative music scene but became much more for the artist that would fill the Billboard charts for half a decade.“I was always around (music) most of my life,” Chris Daughtry said. “I started getting really, really into the whole '90s grunge era — and not necessarily grunge but just alternative in general.”Years later, Daughtry headed an eponymous band… → Read More

Recent tariffs on steel, aluminum imports keep local businesses, experts in wait

UTICA — The Oneida/Herkimer Solid Waste Authority presses scrap aluminum and scrap metal into flaky blocks that reach to the metal ceiling of its facility.It also sells these large piles of material, the value of which is determined, in part, by the global trade market. However, it remains uncertain how the Trump Administration’s recent decision to implement tariffs on imported steel and… → Read More