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Today's Top Stories - Tuesday, January 10th

No Jurors Selected in Day 1 of Clayton Trial:


The murder trial of Thomas Clayton got off to a bit of a slow start Monday.  Some 220 jurors were called to the Steuben County Courthouse, but no one was actually selected.  Instead, they met privately with Judge Peter Bradstreet to discuss why they may not be able to serve – the case is expected to take several weeks, and has already received widespread media attention.  Jury selection will continue today, with another group of potential jurors appearing at 9 a.m.  Attorneys hope to have 105 prospective jurors to begin questioning by 1 p.m.  Clayton pleaded not guilty in December 2015 to one-count of first-degree murder and two counts of second-degree murder in connection with the death of his wife Kelley Clayton.  Thomas is accused of hiring Michael Beard, of Elmira to kill his wife and burn down the home they shared in the Town of Caton.  Beard was found guilty in November of first-and-second degree murder.  A third man, Mark Blandford of Elmira, has also been charged.  He is currently awaiting trial.



Heroin Bust in Corning:


A heroin bust in Corning has resulted in the arrest of a Connecticut woman.  39-year-old Zena Mendoza was arrested after a search of a home on Kingsbury Avenue and she has been charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell.  Authorities reportedly seized a large amount of heroin, packaging materials, drug distribution documentation, and nearly $5,000 in cash.  Mendoza was sent to the Steuben County Jail on $25,000 bail.  Further arrests are expected.



Governor Kicks Off “State of the State” Addresses:


As expected, Governor Andrew Cuomo was in Buffalo Monday to kick off his “State of the State” address campaign.  The Governor will be doing several regional addresses this year, as opposed to the traditional single speech, in various locations across the state.  Monday, he spoke of reform for the criminal justice system, eliminating the wage gap, combating hate crimes throughout the state, and the possibility of expanding after-school education for children in high-need areas.  Among those areas, Elmira was mentioned as a possibility for expansion.  Cuomo also said he’s making the expansion of ride-sharing services a top priority.  He’s putting forth a proposal for a uniform statewide regulatory framework that will be overseen by the Department of Motor Vehicles.  The Governor will give his next address in Syracuse on Wednesday.



Help for Heroin Addicts in Hornell:


On Sunday, the Hornell Police Department made multiple arrests as a part of two separate heroin busts, but authorities are offering more than just legal action.  Chief Theodore Murray has said that if there’s anyone addicted to drugs who’s buying, whether it’s heroin or any other drug, they can go to the police station for help without facing legal consequences.  With a commitment from the Loyola organization, authorities will help get people immediately to a treatment facility.



SNAP Recipients to be able to Purchase Groceries Online:


Recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (or SNAP) will soon have an easier time purchasing their groceries.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced a two-year pilot program that will allow participants to purchase groceries online through select retailers.  It’s set to begin this summer and will include Amazon, FreshDirect, Hart’s Local Grocers (based in Rochester), and Dash’s Market (based in Buffalo).  Benefits can only be used to buy eligible items – not including delivery charges. 



Corning Inc. Wins Emmy:


Corning Incorporated’s track record of innovation and invention has led to a prestigious honor being awarded to them.  They took home an Emmy in the Pioneering Invention and Deployment of Fiber Optic Cable at the 68th Annual Technology & Engineering Emmy awards in Las Vegas.  The award honors breakthrough innovations that materially affected television engineering.  Corning Inc. was recognized for inventing low-loss optical fiber.



Expect Gas Prices to Continue to Climb:


If you were hoping for some relief at the pump next time you fill up, predictions aren’t looking good.  According to AAA the state-wide average is $2.54 a gallon, up 35 to 40 cents a gallon from a year ago depending on location.  The price has jumped, and is expected to continue to do so, due to a shrinking international supply of crude oil as OPEC countries have agreed to a significant cut in production.

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