Hello, and welcome to another new week, CivMixers!

I hope you all had a lovely weekend and got out to enjoy the weather in a safe and responsible socially distanced manner.

There’s more good news on the re-opening front, and also some not-to-great news when it comes to, well, other stuff. Let’s get right down to it, shall we?

1) Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that Western New York is the latest region within the state to fulfill all of the requirements to start a phased-in re-opening from the COVID-19 shutdown.

The re-opening effort will get underway tomorrow. The westernmost part of the state met the last benchmarks – contact tracing – by identifying and training 525 folks to take on that role. (521 was the requirement).

Cuomo also said that the state Department of Health granted Erie County Medical Center a waiver to begin elective procedures, which means there will be a non-CVOID revenue stream coming into the hospital.

A reminder of Phase I businesses that are allowed to operate: Agriculture, construction, fishing, forestry, hunting, manufacturing, and wholesalers. There’s also curbside pickup allowed for retail.

Check out where all regions stand on the state’s re-opening dashboard.

2) During a memorial held this past Saturday for Dominique James, a Louisiana man who was killed, police received reports of gunshots around 9 p.m.

James was found dead in his car in a wooded area, where it was believed that he was going to pick up a four-wheeler. His death has been ruled a homicide and is under investigation.

When the Bogalusa Police arrived at the memorial, there were still shots being fired. But somehow, there were no witnesses to the incident. The memorial was large; in fact, there were approximately 800 people gathered at its highest count. The officers secured the scene and searched for anyone who was injured. The injured were transported to the hospital as quickly as possible in a combination of private and emergency vehicles. One of the victims is in critical condition. 

The police found over 50 shell casings and believe there were multiple shooters. The local authorities have requested federal assistance in the memorial shooting. 

No permit was sought for the funeral, and one wouldn’t have been granted anyway, even if it was, as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 social distancing requirements, according to the Bogalusa authorities.

3) Yesterday morning around 10 a.m., Madison “Maddie Bell went out to go her tanning appointment at the Country Corner Market, a salon in Highland County, OH. Sheriff Donnie Barrera said there is no evidence that she ever arrived at her destination.

She was last seen at her home, and her car was later found at a church.

This morning, hundreds of people joined in a search for the 18-year old, who is a high school senior. Her mother, Melissa, said Maddie always came home when she said she would and also always went where she said she was going. She would text or call her mother if her plans changed. 

As time passed without any word from the teen, Maddie’s mother and boyfriend grew worried and tried to reach her. The two went looking for Maddie, driving in the direction of the salon and looking out for her car, which they assumed had broken down or perhaps been in a crash along the way. 

They finally found her car as they got to the Good Shepherd Church – a mere 100 yards away from the salon. The car was in the parking lot of the church and unlocked, with the keys in the ignition and Maddie’s cell phone on the driver’s side seat.

Melissa is sure that her daughter would never have left her phone behind willingly. 

The sheriff’s department received a call about a white car with California plates from a church employee. The news came in early Sunday morning. Other people have come forward and reported seeing the vehicle as well. They also have reported seeing a man in his late 20s to early 30s, with light hair and wearing a polo shirt.

Barrera has confirmed the sighting on a security video, but only the car was visible. Officials were unable to determine if there was anyone in the vehicle. There was also a report of the same vehicle in nearby Hillsboro, but upon follow-up, it was not the same car.

The search for Maddie continues, She is approximately 5’6” tall, weighs 120-125 pounds and has brown hair and eyes. She has a cross tattoo on her neck and a ghost tattoo on her side. She sometimes wears gray contacts.

If you have any information on Maddie or the white car, please call the Sheriff’s Office in (740) 773-1185 or the Greenfield Police at (937) 981-4466.

4) Rafael J. Caraballo, 24, was fatally shot this weekend in Troy. The Troy Police Department (TPD) say Caraballo was shot multiple times at around 2 p.m. yesterdat. The shooting occurred near 102nd Street and Fifth Avenue.

According to the TPD, it is not clear yet if there is a connection between this shooting and two others on Saturday evening, but none of them appear random. 

There are no suspects as of yet, and according to police, not a lot of other information. The TPD is asking for the public’s help in investigating. If you have any information, please call (518) 270-4411 or submit them anonymously here.

The investigation is being handled by the TPD’s Detective Unit.

5) Another cultural summer touchstone has fallen victim to the pandemic: The Saratoga Performing Arts Center Center has canceled its classical season for the first time since 1966.

The Capital Region has the green light to start a partial re-opening this week. But for SPAC, the concept of socially distancing so many people – not to mention things like bathroom cleaning and food sales and all the rest of the things that go along with special events – was just a bridge too far. Also hanging out there is the question of who will want to attend big gatherings while a vaccine is still in limbo.

This is a very sad turn of events. And the summer is shaping up to be, well, pretty paltry in terms of the normal plethora of offerings we’re use to here in upstate. But we have to remain hopeful that things will turn around…and that the arts will still be there when we’re all ready to go back to them.

Hang in there, folks. One day at a time, as they say.

Photo credit: George Fazio.