Making a comeback: Cortland natives look to revitalize community spirit

CORTLAND, N.Y. – Erin Yager was hiking in Tempe, Arizona, back in May when she learned that a 16-year-old girl had been murdered in Cortland.

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"It just kind of floored me," Yager said. "I said, 'That's my hometown. I know things have gotten bad, but why do I keep reading this stuff?'"

That's when Yager and a few of her childhood friends decided to organize a positive community event to take the focus away from the recent tragedies that have afflicted her hometown.

Following weeks of coordination via Facebook and social media, the first annual "Cortland Comeback" event will be held Saturday, Aug. 8, at Courthouse Park from 1 - 9 p.m.

Yager and three of her friends from high school, one of whom still lives in the area, are the main organizers of the event.

Since the idea came to fruition, the event has gained some positive momentum. More than a dozen community organizations, along with the city of Cortland, have agreed to sponsor the event. Mayor Brian Tobin has told Yager he hopes a similar event can be held next year.

And despite the sometimes negative perception of her hometown, Yager maintains a positive outlook.

As she drives through Main Street Thursday afternoon, she sees a vibrant downtown with a lot of potential for growth.

"I've traveled all over the country, but this is still home," she says. "My heart's still here."

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