• Robert Forbes hospitalized from gun shot wounds

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    Mr. Robert  Forbes, son of Roc The Peace Founder Sirena Cotton, was shot during a fight on Monroe Avenue Saturday morning remains hospitalized today.

    The 25 year old aspiring artist nnown by peers as “Hennessey” , was shot twice in the lower torso on Monroe Avenue, near South Goodman Street, about 3 a.m. yesterday, said Rochester Police Officer Stephen Scott. The shooting stemmed from a large fight near the intersection, according to police.

    Scott said it appeared that Forbes had “a verbal exchange with an unknown suspect” just before he was shot.

    Forbes was taken to Strong Memorial Hospital, where he was listed in guarded condition today, Scott said.

    Officers continue to investigate the shooting. Anyone with information is asked to call 911.

  • Shooting Victim Speaks Out About Physical and Emotional Pain

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    A Rochester woman is speaking out after being shot in the face in her own home early Thursday morning. Zora Wright, 53, suffered non-life threatening injuries but healing the physical and emotional scars could take time. As police continue to search for those responsible, the fear and anger Wright is experiencing isn’t getting any easier. YNN’s Kate McGowan and photojournalist Matt Matt explain.


    ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Zora Wright said, “I was in shock…”

    It’s the one place she felt safe. A place, she said, that doesn’t feel safe anymore.

    “I knew it sounded like it was close but I never imagined it was my house.”

    Zora was home with her family Thursday morning when bullets sprayed into her home. First through her son’s window, and then into Zora’s room.

    “I was just lying on the floor, saying ‘I’m hit! I’m hit!”

    Wright was shot in the right side of her mouth. A second bullet was lodged in her back.

    “I knew I was, I knew I was struck in the face when I fell, and there was just blood coming out of my mouth, thick like pudding.”

    Zora was rushed to Strong Hospital. Her injuries were not life threatening, but Zora needed stitches in and around her mouth.

    She’s been released from the hospital but is still in pain.

    “Mostly my tongue, where the bullet fragment is in my tongue, and up where my teeth is because they knocked my teeth all the way up here to where my eyes is. You can actually feel it there,” she said.

    Rochester Police are still looking for whomever is responsible for the shooting.

    While investigators said it’s too early to tell if Zora was targeted, Zora believes it was no accident. She now fears for her family.

    “I’m dealing with when I look at myself, I’m dealing with worrying about my kids, and worrying about myself. I’m dealing with what did I do to you? Mainly, I’m dealing with not having my life.”

    With the shooter or shooters still walking free, Zora isn’t even comfortable in her own home.

    She said, “This will go away, this will go away. But the pain in my heart won’t. I would just like to know why? Why they did it?”

    There were four people in Zora’s house during the shooting. No one else was injured.

    Police are still investigating this incident and are asking anyone with information to call 911.


    [View previous post regarding this incident]
    [Article courtesy of YNN]
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  • In your opinion, why are Rochester’s younger adults leaving?

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    Migration by year born

    Over the past 10 years, Greater Rochester has seen a net 8,300 younger workers — or 5.7% — leave Rochester.

    According to a recent article in the Democrat & Chronicle, young professionals are leaving Rochester at a substantial rate. Here’s an excerpt below. In your opinion, why do you think people are leaving Rochester?

    Many in the business community have been saying it for years, and now there are concrete numbers to back it up: Young professionals are leaving the Rochester area.

    New demographic data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau show that Monroe County’s workforce has dwindled, while the region’s migratory population gains came only from the elderly and middle- and high-school-aged youths.

    Every segment of people born between the years of 1936 and 1990 showed some level of migration away from Monroe County over the past 10 years, with the largest exodus coming from those born between 1966 and 1980.

    In 2000, there were about 145,000 county residents who were born in that time frame. By last year, that same group had dwindled to roughly 135,000.

    Of the decrease, only about 1,700 can be attributed to deaths, meaning that over the past 10 years, the Rochester area has seen a net 8,300 younger workers — or 5.7 percent of the original total — leave the area for other parts of the country and world.

    “I didn’t have any hard feelings about Rochester, I just wanted to get out of there and find myself,” said Janet Kotwas, 30, a Honeoye Falls-Lima High School graduate who now lives in San Clemente, Calif. “I was working dead-end jobs and wasn’t really doing anything with my life.”

    Employment is likely the biggest factor, said Alexei Alexandrov, assistant professor of economics at the University of Rochester’s Simon School of Business. The area’s universities attract a good share of students, but many of those students stay for only a handful of years after graduation, he said.

    “It’s probably easier to get a job locally than it is to go into the national job market,” said Alexandrov. “But once they’re in a company here, they network, and then many of them move. In 10 years, they’ll definitely have had a chance to go somewhere else.”

    The Rochester Young Professionals group started in 2002 as a direct result of young people moving out of the area, said Steve Vogt, the group’s president.

    “Young people want to be in an area with energy that excites them,” Vogt said. “The right track is to build up downtown. Why people were moving to the South is because they are taking the southern cities, knocking down everything that was there and building whole new cities — lifestyle centers, places where you can work and play in the same area. Downtown Rochester is coming back.”

    [Read more on democratandchronicle.com]

  • 2 charged in shotgun robbery on Erie Canal path

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    Two Rochester brothers accused of robbing a bicyclist at gunpoint were arrested Saturday afternoon.

    Christopher N. Carter, 21, and Jeremy C. Greene, 17, were charged with first-degree robbery, first-degree criminal use of a firearm, and fourth-degree grand larceny, according to Lt. Jim VanBrederode, of Gates Police Department.

    A bicyclist told police he was robbed on the Erie Canal bike path, between Chili and Brooks avenue, by two men who were armed with a .20-gauge shotgun, said VanBrederode.

    One round was fired from it but the victim was not injured. The men then fled down the bike path towards Brooks Avenue. The bicyclist was able to flag down two Gates police cars on Buell Road and recounted the incident.

    Police officers Shawn O’Mara and Michael Ludolph spotted the two suspects walking east down Brooks Avenue by the canal and a foot chase ensued, said VanBrederode.

    With the assistance of other agencies, the suspects were located in a home on Ellicott Street from where they were taken into custody. Police said the shotgun was recovered inside a Laundromat on Thurston Road.

    The brothers were arraigned before Gates Town Justice Peter Pupatello. Bail was set at $25,000 cash or $50,000 bond to appear in the Gates Town Court Tuesday. Both suspects were sent to the Monroe County Jail.

    [Courtesy of Democrat & Chronicle]
  • Rochester woman struck in jaw by bullet fired into her house

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    Shooting on Pennsylvania Ave.: A 54-year-old woman was struck by a bullet in the jaw while lying in her bed early Thursday.

    A 54-year-old Rochester woman preparing to go to sleep was struck in the face by a bullet fired through the wall of her Pennsylvania Avenue house about 12:45 this morning on the city’s east side.

    Lt. Gary Moxley of the Rochester Police Department said that the woman, the homeowner, was in bed ready to turn in when shots were fired into three side sides of the house at 127 Pennsylvania Ave.

    The woman, who name was not released by police, was taken to Strong Memorial Hospital by Rural/Metro Medical Services ambulance with a minor injury to the jaw.

    Moxley said that there were several other people in the house at the time of the shooting, but there were no other injuries.

    Police investigators were talking to witnesses at the scene and also to neighbors, Moxley said, but as of 4 this this morning, there had been no arrests in the incident.

    Moxley said it had not yet been determined what kind of weapon was used in the shooting.

    Moxley said there was no evidence of any criminal activity occurring inside the house when the shooting occurred.

    [Courtesy of Democrat & Chronicle]
    Shooting on Pennsylvania Ave.
  • Parents plea to five years in state prison for 2-year-old abuse

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    Corey Bach, 26, and Melissa Mosher-Bach, 24, of Canandaigua both pleaded guilty to a charge of second-degree assault in Ontario County Court this morning.

    Each will serve five years in state prison, followed by three years of post-release supervision. A temporary stay-away order of protection was put in place for the child, now 3, that will receive term limits at the sentencing.

    Corey Bach will be sentenced on June 6 at 10 a.m., and Mosher-Bach’s sentencing is scheduled for June 20 at 10 a.m.
    The maximum sentence for second-degree assault is seven years.

    Last month the couple was accused of striking him, pulling his hair out, and strapping him in a car seat under a running shower back on Jan. 16.

    Both are currently being held in Ontario County Jail without bail.

    Courtesy of MPNnow.com
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  • Organizers see bright future in Downtown Youth Arts Initiative

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    Jequan Huff, 16, a junior at Edison, left, joins others in learning a song and dance performance piece at the Downtown Youth Arts Initiative teen arts center.

    Shaquille Payne used to spend hours at the Liberty Pole.

    He and a few hundred other students waited amid the chaos and fistfights for a transfer bus to take him to the School Without Walls in the morning, and back home in the afternoon.

    He’d wait, he said, because he had no place else to go.

    That changed in January when the Downtown Youth Arts Initiative — since renamed “Cypher” by students — opened in the basement of the Lutheran Church of the Reformation on Chestnut Street, and students such as Payne were given the opportunity to do something other than languish at the City School District’s bus transfer spot.

    “It’s safer, and there’s something going on  here,” Payne, 17 and a senior, said last week.

    Cypher’s directors are claiming measured early success as two professional artist-run programs have already been implemented, about 35 students have enrolled, and within weeks they will have three or four more programs or subprograms operating and nearly 100 students involved.

    Critics, though, have called the initiative a misguided effort to quell issues at the downtown meeting spot where, since Midtown closed in 2008 and downtown options for youth dried up, fights have been persistent and a massive daily police effort has been necessary to control disturbances by teens either waiting for buses or visiting with friends.

    “I think the genuine intention was there, but that is not the problem at Liberty Pole,” City Councilor Adam McFadden said of the youth arts center. “I can tell you the problems are still down there and it has not had an impact.”

    Organizers of the arts initiative and its programming agency, ArtPeace Inc., understand the skepticism, but say the center’s potential – and its influence on downtown issues – has yet to be fully realized.

    “You could ask what impact it’s having on the Liberty Pole and I think there isn’t any one answer,” said Heidi Zimmer-Meyer, president of Rochester Downtown D evelopment Corp. and the main catalyst behind the center. “It’s not going to fix all of what drives the volatility. It can’t, it’s not big enough yet.

    “But we know the cost of doing nothing.”

    Positive programs

    In the basement of the church last week, about 20 students sang and danced as part of a rehearsal for a musical they have created called “Can You Hear Us Now?” The Possibility Project-Rochester — an affiliate of a national program based on musical theater — oversees the production.

    As part of the program, students write scripts based on their own lives, they learn about acting and choreography, design scenes and eventually will perform the full musical theater production using original music and songs. A Garth Fagan dancer is overseeing the project, as well as a professional music director and artistic director.

    “It’s a serious commitment,” said Kristin Rapp, the founder and executive director  of ArtPeace. “They are here Tuesdays and Thursdays after school, and Saturdays for practice. … Another initiative, a Slam Poetry Team, consists of five students who write and perform their own poetry in competition in front of judges.

    Other programs have either just begun, or will be implemented within weeks, including:  Music writing: Students write lyrics for original songs and record them. Twenty kids can participate in the program which includes guitar lessons for some students and the formation of a choir. Digital media: With a focus on graphic design, photography, and videography, the group will develop a brand for the youth arts center. Capacity is for 20 students. Silk screening and painting: Between 20 and 30 students can participate. The program will be housed at the Salvation Army, at 60 Liberty  Pole Way. Much of the new programming could be held at alternate locations throughout downtown, Zimmer-Meyer said, and the arts center should be considered more of a concept than one specific location.The RDDC and its partners announced in December plans for the arts center to open under a two-year pilot program. Cypher relies heavily on a $50,000 grant from Bank of America Rochester, whose offices overlook the Liberty Pole and whose directors have had a front row seat for the activity there.

    The two-year budget is estimated at about $250,000, to be paid by private donations , fundraising and grants.

    All the programming has a common goal, Rapp said.

    “Our goal is social change, and the kids changing within themselves and then working together toward community change,” she said.

    Zimmer-Meyer and Rapp said the youth have been involved in the planning process and the design phases from the beginning, and several, such as Payne, are on the steering committee.

    Six youths have been hired to work at the arts center.

    “This was a way to create something that the kids really wanted, and something that would be different,” Rapp said.


    Both the students and the centers’ directors acknowledge recruiting and retention have been difficult. “We’ve got the center, now we have to get the kids, which has been tough,” said Kala Oakes, a 17-year-old junior at School of the Arts, and a member of the steering committee.

    That could take time.

    “I think it’s unrealistic to assume that there would be a parade over here right away,” said Gabrielle Lewis, 18, also a member of the steering committee and a senior at School Without Walls. “Kids are going to flock to it eventually, but there is also trepidation and I think they probably don’t trust it, yet. There are so many organizations that have tried to do other things but they haven’t worked. They have to know that we will be around to do the things that they want to do.”

    All the students are recruiters for the center, particularly at the Liberty Pole.

    Payne, who said he was once purposely “bumped” by seven people on his way from the Liberty Pole to the arts center, recently revisited the transfer spot on a recruiting trip armed with his own original poetry and a guitar-playing colleague.

    “You knew people were interested, but they didn’t want to come over,” he said of his  performance. “We’ve got to go out there and keep doing it, and keep doing it, and keeping doing it.”

    Rapp said the majority of the students at the center have been recruited directly from the Liberty Pole, a dynamic she tracks by having students fill out a registration form which includes the question: Do you use the Liberty Pole as a bus transfer spot?

    McFadden, while acknowledging the sincere intent of the center’s creators, said it won’t work unless the school district’s busing s ystem is changed and hundreds of students are not forced to transfer at the Liberty Pole.

    He recently called upon community members to act as adult supervisors two hours per day to help students get “safe passage” to and from school.

    The intention of the center was never to move everyone from Liberty Pole under one roof, said Rapp.

    “We knew that we couldn’t impact hundreds of kids all at once, but we’re not sure we want to do that, either,” she said. “That might just be moving the problems at the Liberty Pole from outside, inside. And that wouldn’t be effective.”

    As more programming is added the impact of the center will become more obvious, she said.

    “Where I see the impact the most is in the young people who have really gotten involved in the planning process, they feel a sense of ownership in this,” she said. “They are going out and recruiting their friends into this and generating a sense of excitement about it, and a groundswell of interest.”

    Written by JHAND@DemocratandChronicle.com
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