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Local
Snowy Sunday sees heavy snowfall

Police and first responders had a relatively quiet Sunday, despite heavy snowfall throughout the night and into the afternoon.

Most people in the area heeded the travel warnings and stayed off the roads altogether, according to Deputy Sheriff Cory Hurlburt. (name corrected)

“We’ve had less snow before and been busier, I’ll put it that way,” Hurlburt said.

Hurlburt said the combination of the snow falling on a Sunday and the next day being a holiday was enough to keep most people off the roads. With little traffic, there was little opportunity for accidents and only three minor fender-benders, with no injuries were reported as of Sunday evening.

Warren County Sheriff’s Office reported 10 accidents and snow-related calls on Sunday as of 5:30 p.m.

There was one accident Sunday morning on the Northway near Exit 25 that drew an emergency response, and other crashes were reported on Route 9 in Lake George and Main Street in Warrensburg.

Sixteen inches of snow fell in Glens Falls Sunday, and flurries persisted into the evening. The National Weather Service reported 17 inches in Warrensburg, 12 inches in Lake George and 15.5 inches in Saratoga Springs as of Sunday evening.

Snowfall map

Ray O’Keefe, a meteorologist at the Albany office of the National Weather Service, said the main snowfall of the storm ended around 4 p.m. However, the most dangerous part of the storm was only getting started.

“The main threat is the combination of wind and cold,” O’Keefe said, with the wind chill expected to be lower than -20 degrees Fahrenheit Sunday night.

There were also been relatively few power outages in the area, with National Grid reporting 104 Fort Edward customers without electricity between the hours of 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and fewer than five houses in both Queensbury and Whitehall without power for a few hours Sunday afternoon. NYSEG had reported no outages in its coverage area in Washington County as of Sunday evening.

Queensbury, near West Mountain, had about 18 inches by the afternoon, a welcome sight to many at West Mountain, which had a steady stream of skiers and snowboarders ready to ride fresh powder, according to Emily Biddiscomb, a front-desk clerk at the ski area.

“The snow has been great today,” Biddiscomb said. “We’ve had 14 to 15 inches of natural snow, and people have been all over it.”

She said they expect to be busy for the rest of the week as people continue to try and take advantage of the favorable conditions.

Bitter cold will follow the storm, with temperatures falling below zero Monday morning before warming up to the 30s mid-week. The National Weather Service has issued and wind chill warning from 6 p.m. Sunday through 6 p.m. Monday evening.

For the latest on the weather, visit poststar.com/weather.



State-and-regional
Bitter cold sets in as winter storm wreaks havoc on travel

BOSTON — A major winter storm brought some of the coldest temperatures of the season and blanketed a wide swath of the country in snow as it wreaked havoc on air travel and caused dangerously icy conditions throughout New England on Sunday.

The National Weather Service issued winter storm warnings or advisories for part or all of at least 15 states stretching from southeast Missouri to the northern tip of Maine ahead of the weekend storm.

More than 1,500 flights were canceled nationwide Sunday, with Boston’s Logan Airport among the hardest hit, according to FlightAware, a flight tracking company.

Typically bustling security lines, ticketing counters and baggage claims were largely deserted Sunday morning at Logan Airport, but some stranded passengers lingered.

Xavi Ortega, a 32-year old engineer from Spain, slept overnight at the airport with his wife after their 10:30 p.m. flight to Barcelona Saturday was canceled. He said the couple won’t be able to get onto another flight until Sunday night.

“We’ve been sleeping, playing Candy Crush,” Ortega said.

The heavily populated coast from New York to Boston largely escaped major snowfall Sunday but saw plummeting temperatures as snow gave way to icy rain and sleet in parts.

Manhattan saw mostly rain and cities along Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts’ coast recorded two to five inches of snow.

Mountain regions saw significantly more, with the Adirondacks in upstate New York registering up to 20 inches while western Massachusetts’ Berkshires saw as much as 10 and parts of northern New England were on track to see up to two feet of snow.

Nicholas Nicolet and his 6-year-old son Rocco welcomed the fresh powder as they cross-country skied on the sidewalks of Montpelier, Vermont early Sunday morning during the storm.

“We think it’s great,” said Nicholas Nicolet.

Meteorologists warned the primary concern heading into Monday is plunging temperatures that will be some of the coldest felt so far this season.

Wind chills were expected to hit in the teens in the New York City area, 25 below in Albany and down to 40 below in the Adirondacks.

In New England, they’re expected to fall to as low as 20 below zero around Boston, 30 below zero in the Berkshires and as low as 35 below zero in parts of Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire.

Officials warned people to limit their time outside to prevent frostbite and avoid treacherous travel conditions. They also said places would see strong wind gusts, flooding and power outages.

“It’s life-threatening,” said Ray O’Keefe, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albany. “These are dangerous conditions that we’re going to be in and they’re prolonged, right through tomorrow.”

As ice accumulated on trees and power lines Sunday, utilities in Connecticut reported more than 20,000 customers without power.

“We had more freezing rain and sleet than we expected,” said Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin as crews across the state raced to clear and treat major roadways to prevent dangerous black ice conditions.

Amtrak canceled trains across the Midwest and Northeast over the weekend, but said full service would resume Monday.

A ferry service route across Lake Champlain between Vermont and New York was also closed Sunday and flights were mostly cancelled at Vermont’s Burlington International Airport and New Hampshire’s Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.

The powerful, wide-ranging storm was caused by the clash of an Arctic high-pressure system with a low-pressure system coming through the Ohio Valley.

It caused travel problems as it dumped up to 10 inches of snow on parts of the Midwest Saturday.

In Chicago, a plane skidded from a slick runway at O’Hare International Airport. No injuries were reported. In Kansas, a snowplow driver was killed when his vehicle rolled over. And in southeastern Missouri, slippery conditions caused a 15-vehicle crash on Interstate 55.

President Donald Trump urged Americans affected by the winter storm to “be careful” in a tweet early Sunday. But, as he’s done in the past, Trump conflated the short-term weather phenomenon with longer-term climate change.

The White House’s own National Climate Assessment recently rejected the idea that a particular plunge in temperatures can cast uncertainty on whether Earth is warming.

“Amazing how big this system is,” Trump tweeted. “Wouldn’t be bad to have a little of that good old fashioned Global Warming right now!”

Associated Press reporters Bob Salsberg in Boston, Deepti Hajela in New York, and Lisa Rathke in Montpelier contributed to this story.


Local
Judge dismisses two charges against camp counselor

Stolz

QUEENSBURY — A judge has dismissed two charges against a former camp counselor who has been accused of sexually abusing 10 boys at the camp where he worked, as defense lawyers question a claim that another camp employee may have molested one of the boys as well.

Acting Warren County Judge Kelly McKeighan dismissed a felony sexual abuse count and misdemeanor charge of endangering the welfare of a child charge against Dylan T. Stolz, who is accused of fondling the children at the exclusive Brant Lake Camp in Horicon.

McKeighan found that one of the alleged victims was 8 years old when he testified before the grand jury that indicted Stolz, and that there was no evidence in the grand jury record that the child had received a judicial examination to determine whether he could testify. Under state law, witnesses under the age of 9 can’t give sworn testimony unless their “capacity” to testify is confirmed first.

The ruling still leaves 27 charges related to nine alleged victims of Stolz, and Warren County District Attorney Jason Carusone said his office can seek to re-indict Stolz on the charges that were dismissed.

“The court has upheld 27 of the 29 counts, and we are preparing for trial,” he said.

McKeighan’s decision comes as a defense lawyer for Stolz asked that prosecutors be required to give more information about a statement by one of the alleged victims that Stolz and a second camp employee had what could be construed as improper contact with him in a shower last year.

That employee has not been charged, but lawyer Julie Nociolo asked prosecutors to detail “how the people (prosecution) determined that statement was false to (the other man) but not Mr. Stolz.”

Authorities, though, said it was determined that the other man did not have sexual contact with the child as he assisted him in a shower and touched his buttocks. Counselors frequently assisted boys with washing in the shower at the camp.

Stolz was arrested last July after a boy who attended summer camp told a parent about alleged sexual abuse, and numerous other boys made similar allegations in the weeks that followed. He has been indicted three times in the months since as the case has progressed. He has been accused of fondling the genitalia of boys ages 8-10 in his room, a shower and bunkroom at the camp.

He has pleaded not guilty to charges that include felony sexual abuse and course of sexual conduct and misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child.

Stolz is free on bail and due back in court Jan. 25 for pretrial hearings, with trial to start Feb. 4. He has turned down a plea deal offer that would net him a state prison term between 7 and 12 years.

He faces up to 7 years in prison on each of 14 felony charges if convicted, though under state law he would be eligible for parole at 20 years if sentenced to more than 20 years.

In addition to dismissing two charges last week, McKeighan ruled that the cases related to three separate indictments will be tried at once, finding that they are “inextricably intertwined.”

Stolz, 51, of Little Neck, Long Island, had worked at the camp for 33 years, serving as a supervisor of younger counselors. He works as an elementary school teacher on Long Island, but was placed on administrative leave in that case after his arrest.

Camp leaders have refused to comment on the case since Stolz’s arrest.


Stolz


National
After 2016 ruling, battles over juvenile lifer cases persist

Locked up for life at 15, Norman Brown remains defined by the crime that put him behind bars.

Twenty-seven years ago, Brown joined a neighbor twice his age to rob a Chesterfield, Missouri, jewelry shop, and the man shot the owner to death. The shooter was executed. But state officials, bound by a 2016 Supreme Court ruling, pledged to give Brown an opportunity for release — then rejected parole in a process a judge ruled recently must be overhauled.

Three years after the Supreme Court gave inmates like Brown a chance at freedom, about 400 offenders sentenced to life without parole as juveniles have been released nationwide and hundreds more have gotten shortened sentences. But most remain behind bars, and amid tensions over how to handle some of these cases, lawsuits have been filed in states like Missouri.

“States are moving away from these sentences,” said Jody Kent Lavy of the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth. But “there are still some outliers that in many ways are refusing to comply with the court’s mandate.”

Missouri lawmakers decided the more than 100 inmates serving life for adolescent crimes would get a parole hearing after 25 years. But the board has denied release in 85 percent of cases and failed to consider offenders’ rehabilitation efforts, a lawsuit by the MacArthur Justice Center alleges.

The board’s actions violate the constitutional requirement that inmates be provided a “realistic opportunity for release,” a federal judge wrote in October, ordering changes. Missouri’s corrections agency and attorney general’s office declined comment.

In an interview from prison, Brown, now 42, recounted his 1991 crime and said he hopes officials will recognize his remorse and his work in a prison hospice and training rescue dogs.

“It’s shameful. ... Because I’m an adult now, I know what it is to love your family,” he said.

Florence Honickman’s husband, Stephen, was killed by Brown’s companion, and she vividly recalls the teen snatching a pendant off her neck as she lay bleeding from bullet wounds.

“Do you really know deep down that this man — he’s a man now, not a child — has he really, really changed?” she asks.

The Supreme Court, citing research that the brain development of adolescents makes them likelier to act recklessly, found they must not be punished with the same severity as adults unless deemed beyond rehabilitation. At the time of the 2016 ruling, more than 2,000 inmates sentenced as teens were serving mandatory life without parole, most for murder convictions.

In Pennsylvania, 399 of more than 500 juvenile lifers have received new sentences and 163 have been released, according to the Department of Corrections.

In Louisiana, after years of resistance by courts and prosecutors, the state is reconsidering the sentences of roughly 300 offenders. Through December, 45 had come before a parole committee, with 37 approved and 31 released, according to the Board of Pardons and Parole. Louisiana prosecutors are seeking to keep 80 others in prison for life.

In Michigan, more than 140 inmates have received new sentences and about half freed. Prosecutors are pursuing new life-without-parole sentences for 200 others. Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker has sought no-parole terms in about half of his 24 cases, and judges have agreed for four inmates.

“We tried to take the worst of the worst, the most depraved ones,” Becker said.

Some requests have been rebuffed. A Kent County judge recently resentenced inmates Chad Maleski and Joshua Rogers to 35 to 60 years. They were 17 when they joined two others in abducting and killing 66-year-old Willie Jones. The judge cited Rogers’ remorse and participation in prison self-improvement programs and Maleski’s cooperation that led authorities to Jones’ body.

The Supreme Court has shown little appetite for revisiting the issue of juvenile sentences, leaving unsettled what to do with thousands of others who are legally entitled to parole but serving such lengthy terms they are unlikely to ever be freed.

In April, the court declined to hear the case of Missouri’s Bobby Bostic, who was 16 when he and a friend participated in one armed robbery, then forced their way into a woman’s car and demanded cash at gunpoint before releasing her. Bostic won’t be eligible for parole until he turns 112.

“I’m not the victim,” said Bostic, 40. “But a teenager dying in prison, what lesson do you teach him?”

In Maryland, the American Civil Liberties Union alleges in a lawsuit the parole system is unconstitutional because the release of juvenile offenders is rare and decided in secrecy. When the case was filed in 2016, no juvenile offender had been paroled for nonmedical reasons in two decades, said Sonia Kumar, an ACLU lawyer. State law requires the governor to approve parole for Maryland’s 200-300 juvenile lifers. Gov. Larry Hogan has done so for three former teen offenders since taking office in 2015, all for medical reasons, and has granted clemency to two others.

Other governors have recently approved inmates’ release.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper granted clemency last month to Curtis Brooks, serving life for his role in a 1995 fatal carjacking. Brooks, then 15, was not the shooter, but the family of victim Christopher Ramos opposed clemency. Brooks said he would not presume to ask for their forgiveness.

“I want them to see in the way I live my life that I do understand the impact of what happened that night,” he said in an interview. “I want them hopefully one day to see the person I was, not the person I am.”