All posts by Ashley M. Casey

Ashley M. Casey is the assistant editor of The Valley News. Previously, she was the associate editor of Today's CNY Woman magazine. She has also written for The Finger Lakes Vacationer. She graduated from Le Moyne College in 2012 with a degree in communications and Spanish.

2 Mexico grads perform with SU band at Super Bowl

By Ashley M. Casey

They didn’t get to stay for the game, but two Syracuse University students from Mexico, N.Y., played in the school’s marching band at Super Bowl XLVIII.

Anthony Veiga, a junior music education major, and Shaun Kinney, a sophomore music industry major, are alumni of Mexico High School. They boarded a bus at 4 a.m. Feb. 2, arriving in New Jersey five hours later to rehearse with the Rutgers University marching band.

“The NFL was looking for a band to represent what they considered the New York Super Bowl,” said Veiga, who plays the baritone.

But New Jersey governor Chris Christie pointed out that MetLife Stadium, while it is the home of the New York Giants, is located in East Rutherford, N.J.

“We had to ask Rutgers to join us,” Veiga said.

In 2013, SU’s marching band, led by Justin Mertz, played in Montreal for a Buffalo Bills game and Houston, Texas, for the Pinstripe Bowl. The band also plays for SU football’s home games and may travel to away games in the future.

“We went to the Heisman Gala, which is the dinner for the Heisman Trophy,” Veiga said.

Despite the miles the band has racked up, they had never been to the Super Bowl before.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Veiga said.

The band members had to keep the news of the performance under wraps.

“When we were first told, we went nuts,” Veiga said. “We had to keep it a secret until the NFL let it go public.”

Kinney, a tuba player, said the band members complained somewhat about the rehearsal schedule, but “everybody thought the rehearsals were worth it when we got there.”

“It was amazing. It was just cool to be part of the production,” Kinney said.

The band spotted a few celebrities while waiting to run onto the field for the pre-game performance.

“Kevin Bacon walked by,” Kinney said. “Being around all these people you see on TV that are famous … (was) pretty crazy.”

“We got to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and they mingled with the band,” Veiga said. There was no sight of halftime headliner Bruno Mars, however.

Kinney said he remembered little of the performance because it was so brief.

“Being right about to run on the field — that’s where it really hit me that we were at the Super Bowl,” he said. “It went like a flash.”

“It was about just doing the show, and less focusing on the environment,” Veiga said. “I never thought I’d be able to do that.”

Veiga said performing with Rutgers was a unique part of the Super Bowl experience as well.

“We got to meet a different band. You double in size — it’s really loud and really cool,” he said.

Unfortunately, the musicians did not get to see the game. They loaded their equipment to head back to Syracuse during performance by opera singer Renee Fleming (grad of SUNY Postman’s Crane School of Music) of the national anthem.

Fireworks went off and helicopters buzzed overhead.

“Some of the (seniors) were actually crying … because it was their last marching band event,” Kinney said. “What a way to go out!”

Veiga said he didn’t think SU would get to play the Super Bowl again, but he joked with the band director, “What are you going to do next year to match this?”

Hannibal-based hard rock band works on first full-length album

Hannibal-based hard rock band Far From Over is becoming more well known in the music business, rubbing elbows with nationally known artists and working on a full-length album.

The band is set to play at Monirae’s Restaurant in Pennellville 6:30 p.m. Feb. 13. Far From Over joins national recording artist Buckcherry and other local bands.

Started as a cover band in 2011 by drummer Zane Pointon, bassist Alex Carter and guitarist Tyler Battist, Far From Over welcomed vocalist Zac Birdslow in 2012. Pointon, Carter and Battist attend Hannibal High School, and Birdslow is taking classes at Cayuga Community College.

The show with Buckcherry is not Far From Over’s first time rubbing elbows with some of rock radio’s biggest stars. Last year, the band played at 95X Fest 2013, which featured acts such as Sick Puppies and Adam Gontier, formerly of the band Three Days Grace.

“95X-Fest was a blast! It was so amazing to be able to hang out backstage and talk with the other bands,” Pointon said in an email.

He cited Gontier and Sick Puppies as influences of the band.

“We tend to blend both modern rock sound and the newer post-hardcore genres into our own work,” Pointon said.

Far From Over began gaining local exposure when a 95X DJ played their music on his show.

“Scott Dixon has always been a huge help to us and the whole Syracuse music scene. I don’t think there is one thing he cares more about then this music scene,” Pointon said. “Dixon does a show on 95X called ‘Locals Only.’ Bands all throughout Syracuse can submit their music to be played.”

Having released the “Burn” EP in 2012, Far From Over is working on their first full-length album. The video for the band’s newest single, “Tonight,” has reached more than 1,600 views on YouTube.

“ Filming the music video was a lot of fun and a great experience. It was all produced by our bassist, Alex,” Pointon said. “Being able to make the video for free and on our own was awesome but it was a lot more work. Our bassist stayed up for nights reviewing the shots and making the final edit.”

The band is trying to raise money for recording the new album on fundraising website Indiegogo.

“Like most local bands we make close to nothing. So funding our production and buying are merch can sometimes be hard,” Pointon said.

Despite the challenges of finding funds and juggling work, school and music, Pointon said Far From Over allows him and his bandmates to do what they love.

“We plan to just keep growing bigger in hope of turning from a local act to a touring national one day,” Pointon said. “Our new musical style is just what this world is asking for and we’re ready for the next step.”

Presale tickets for the Feb. 13 show are $25 and can be purchased at ticketweb.com, Monirae’s or the Sound Garden in Armory Square, Syracuse.

For more information about Far From Over, visit ffoband.com or like the band on Facebook at facebook.com/ffoband.

‘Safe haven’ meeting set for Feb. 11 in Fulton

By Ashley M. Casey

The Catholic Daughters of America, Court Pere LeMoyne #833, are holding an informational meeting about the “Safe Haven” program at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 11 at the Fulton Municipal Building.

Timothy Jaccard, founder of the AMT Children of Hope, will present a program and answer questions about an anonymous, safe drop-off system for unwanted infants.

In July 2010, New York state updated the 2000 Abandoned Infant Protection Act to remove criminal liability for parents who surrender unwanted infants to a “safe location,” usually a hospital, fire station or police department.

A person may drop off an infant less than 30 days old — no questions asked  — as long as the child does not show any sign of being abused or harmed.

Patty Mancino, regent of the local Catholic Daughters of America chapter, saw Jaccard speak at a statewide Catholic Daughters of America conference last April.

After Catholic Daughters of America Program Coordinator Teresa Kempston contacted Jaccard with questions about his Safe Haven program, Jaccard offered to come speak in Fulton.

Jaccard sent promotional materials, and Catholic Daughters of America has been spreading the word across the area through decals on Menter Ambulances.

“He’s the one that has worked so hard into making the law,” Mancino said of Jaccard.

In January 2011, Liverpool police found a newborn girl who had suffocated to death in a Dumpster.

The child’s mother was sentenced to 13 years in prison after pleading guilty to first-degree manslaughter in her daughter’s death.

Safe Haven programs, which are available across the country, have been instituted to give parents a legal alternative to abandoning and risking the lives of their infants.

“Upstate, it hasn’t caught on like it has in other parts of the state,” said Fulton Mayor Ronald L. Woodward Sr.

He said the meeting would serve to educate local agencies about the “Safe Haven” program and how agencies and organizations can  become a safe drop-off location.

Mancino said Kempston has invited area fire departments, local legislators and the Greater Fulton Area Council of Christian Churches to the Feb. 11 meeting.

“You can’t just leave a baby on a step or a porch. It’s not safe,” Mancino said. “There’s got to be some help out there to save these lives.”

Mancino said the idea has piqued the interest of several local fire departments. The general public is invited as well.

“The more you sit at the dinner table and discuss these controversial topics is how you get them out there,” she said.

“I think it’s good that people are educated, and young girls know they have an alternative,” Woodward said. “We’d certainly feel very, very bad if something like that happened in this community when there were other alternatives.”

Mancino acknowledged that training Oswego County agencies to be Safe Haven locations is a big endeavor.

“It’s got to start someplace. Baby steps,” she said.

For more information about the Safe Haven informational meeting, call Catholic Daughters Regent Patty Mancino at 598-9748.

 

BOX:

Need help?

To find the Safe Haven location nearest to you, call AMT Children of Hope’s anonymous, confidential hotline at 877-796-HOPE (4673).

To learn about safe drop-off locations under the Abandoned Infant Protection Act, call 866-505-SAFE (7233).

Visit the New York state Office of Children and Family Services website at ocfs.ny.gov for more resources.

 

Common Council discusses insurance overruns

By Ashley M. Casey

The Common Council’s budget workshop, scheduled for today, Feb. 8, has been canceled.

Mayor Ronald L. Woodward discussed the workshop’s only agenda item — the 2013 health insurance overrun — at the Feb. 4 Common Council meeting.

Woodward told The Valley News the city’s spending on health insurance ran over by $512,000 last year.

“It put us into deficit spending,” he said. “We’ve got to go through the accounts and cover that spending.”

The mayor said the city’s financial consultants predicted a surplus of $500,000 in October 2013.

“Two months later, we ended up with a deficit,” Woodward said. “You can’t predict who’s going to get sick.”

FULTON FAMILIES: There’s no place like Fulton for the Farfaglias

Isodore and Antonia Farfaglia
Isodore and Antonia Farfaglia

Editor’s note: This is the fifth installment of stories about Fulton Families. The monthly series will tell the stories of families that have either lived in Fulton for ages or perhaps only a short while — but the common bond will be they love the city and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. If you know of a family we should highlight, please email Debbie Groom, Valley News managing editor, at dgroom@scotsmanmediagroup.com.

 

By Ashley M. Casey  |  Photos courtesy of Dan Farfaglia

Growing up in a large family in Fulton was like a movie for Dan Farfaglia.

“It was the Italian version of ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding,’” Dan recalled.

Since their arrival in the early 20th century, the Farfaglias have been active in the Fulton community. In addition to serving as a county legislator for Fulton and Granby, Dan is active with the Rotary Club.

His cousin, Jim, is an author who writes the “Poetry Corner” in The Valley News and teaches writing classes. And, of course, the family is well known for its participation in the Fulton Wrestling Club.

Although they are a bit more spread out now, the Farfaglia family has deep roots in, and deep pride for, the city of Fulton. Continue reading

SAM North American opens expanded site in Schroeppel

By Ashley M. Casey

Sung An Machinery’s North American arm — better known as SAM-NA, LLC — has made a new home for itself in the Oswego County Industrial Park in Schroeppel.

Local legislators and business owners attended the center’s ribbon cutting Jan. 21.

The 10,000-square-foot facility houses SAM’s new Extrusion Technology Center and marketing office, which will allow SAM’s North and South American customers to see firsthand how new extrusion and lamination technologies can be applied.

The facility currently employs seven people — mostly engineers — but is projected to hire seven more.

Extrusion coating is a process that binds multiple layers of polymers together to create flexible packaging and other products, such as potato chip bags, juice cartons, disposable diapers and plastic packing tape.

Based in South Korea, SAM has headquarters in Italy and Granby, N.Y. and more than 600 machine installations in 27 countries across the globe.

SAM-NA has had an office in Granby since 2010, which has been a support and service organization for SAM-NA.

“We’re excited about this. It’s a great addition to the Industrial Park,” said L. Michael Treadwell, CEO of the County of Oswego Industrial Development Agency and executive director of Operation Oswego County.

Treadwell said that SAM first contacted IDA about expanding in the summer of 2011.

“They had to sell this project to the parent company in South Korea,” Treadwell said.

Officials from SAM’s Korea headquarters visited the Industrial Park and agreed to purchase and modify the building, which sits on two-and-a-half acres of land. The building previously served as the IDA’s startup “incubator” site.

Andy Christie, managing director of SAM-NA, said that the company made a lot of modifications to the building before moving in, including new power, floors, a furnace and other renovations. Treadwell estimated the investment in the building to be about $2.5 million.

“We’ve made a substantial investment to improve this building, as well as bring in the pilot extrusion and laminating line,” Christie said.

The pilot machine, which is mainly for demonstration and product testing, cost about $2 million. A full-size extrusion machine costs $3.5 million.

“Ninety percent of the (work) was done by Oswego County contractors,” Christie said.

Holly Carpenter, a spokesperson for New York state Sen. Patty Ritchie, said that Sen. Ritchie extended a warm welcome to SAM-NA’s new business site and applauded their support of local contractors.

“Small business is the backbone (of New York state), and we’re so pleased to have you here,” Carpenter said.

“It just gives Oswego County another success story in terms of attracting manufacturing with an internationally known company,” Treadwell said.

Fulton couple receives thank-you from Will and Kate

By Ashley M. Casey

For the past four years, Karen and Jack Sushereba have been writing and illustrating books and stories for their 14 grandchildren’s eyes only.

But just before Christmas, the Susherebas decided to share their latest story with someone else — the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

The idea came from a distant noble connection. Karen said an ancestor of hers had been dubbed a knight, so she and Jack shipped a copy of their self-published book “Special Moments” to Kensington Palace, where Prince William and his wife, the former Kate Middleton, reside.

“We said, ‘Why don’t we just send them a copy and see what they think?’” Karen recalled.

The book included several short stories, photos and drawings done by Karen. Jack did most of the writing.

Together, they created a fictitious tale about their granddaughter called “Emma Visits the Queen of England.”

A few weeks went by, and the Susherebas had not heard anything more about their gift to the royals.

But on Jan. 13, they received an envelope postmarked from Buckingham Palace.

“When I saw that it said ‘Buckingham Palace,’ I almost passed out,” Karen said of her excitement.

The letter was sent by Claudia Spens, MVO, head of general correspondence for the Office of Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales.

“Their Royal Highnesses are most grateful to you for taking the trouble to send them the copy of your book, ‘Special Moments,’” read the letter inside.

“It really was most thoughtful of you and The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have asked me to send you their warmest thanks and best wishes.”

Karen said she has been “on Cloud Nine” since receiving the letter.

“I was just so elated that they took the time to do it,” she said.

Jack and Karen have written and illustrated more than 55 stories and 13 books for their grandchildren, working with an online publishing service to print the books.

Fulton Junior High receives $500,000 grant

By Ashley M. Casey

Fulton Junior High School has received a $500,000 grant from the NYS Community Schools initiative to provide certain social, health and academic services to students and community members.

Oswego County Opportunities and the Oswego County Department of Social Services will partner with the junior high for the program.

Director of Student Support Programs Geri Geitner unveiled the tentative plan for the Community Schools grant at the Jan. 14 school board meeting.

The grant will help create an extended learning program for students in grades five through eight, opportunities for immunization and wellness clinics, and other social services available to the community.

It also includes a partial restoration of Runaway and Homeless Youth Services.

“Because of funding reallocations within the state, the two full-time (positions) went down to a half-time,” Geitner said. “We wrote in the grant to restore that to one full-time position.”

The district will spend the first six months of 2014 in a mandatory planning period for the project implementation.

Officials will determine what educational and community services will be available through the junior high and recruiting staff for the various services, which will begin July 1, 2014.

“Are there services that will be provided to parents as well (as students)?” asked board President David Cordone.

Geitner said the program would not be “just student-focused.” Some of OCO’s and DSS’s services will be “co-located” within the junior high.

Board member Christine Plath asked if the program will focus only on at-risk student populations.

“It will include all students, but the initial focus is on at-risk students,” Geitner said. “(The program will) remediate barriers to learning and set goals.”

Geitner added while the grant estimated a number of 80 target students, “there is no limit to the number of students that can access this.”

Space, funding and regulatory limits will help determine what specific health services will be provided, though Geitner said the district is looking into vaccination clinics and wellness screenings.

“We could have covered a wall with what we would like to have, but we had to cut down and prioritize,” said Betsy Conners, executive director of instruction and assessment.

OCO helped the district write the 60-plus pages grant request in a period of about nine days. DSS is providing additional funding.

“It really helps us refine our focus so we can apply for more grants in the future,” Geitner said.

Superintendent Bill Lynch thanked OCO and DSS representatives who attended the board meeting for the “very strong, collaborative partnership” among the school district and those agencies.

“It’s very gratifying to have these partnerships,” Lynch said.

Update on Volney, Fairgrieve
renovations

As part of the capital project approved by district voters in 2012, major overhauls are coming to Fairgrieve and Volney elementary schools.

Director of Facilities, Operations and Transportation Jerry Seguin told the board updates to electrical and data wiring as well as asbestos abatement will begin in both buildings during the February recess.

Contractors will work double shifts Feb. 14-23 to finish as much of the project as possible while school is out of session.

Contractors’ bids are expected next week, and the schools will send letters home to parents informing them of the work being done.

Ceiling tiles will be removed to replace wiring, so some asbestos removal and aesthetic work will be done as well.

The district is hiring separate contractors for each building.

“If they run into a problem in one building, it won’t affect the other building,” Lynch said after the board meeting.

Three sixth-grade classrooms on the second floor of Fairgrieve will be temporarily moved for the abatement and renovation process, some of which will take the rest of the year.

Other classrooms will be displaced after the break until the end of the year.

“Once school starts, electrical contractors can come in during the second shift to do the wiring,” Seguin said.

“No one will be working during instructional hours,” Lynch assured the board.

Contractors will work 4:15 p.m. to 12:15 a.m. after school and double shifts on days when school is not in session, excluding weekends, to finish the project by June. By then, the yet-to-be-approved 2014-2015 capital project is expected to have begun.

Coming up

A public forum with three board members and the superintendent will be held from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., Jan. 25, in Room 130 of G. Ray Bodley High School. Coffee will be served.

The next school board meeting will be held 7:30 p.m. Jan. 28 at the Junior High School.

The public hearing regarding the upcoming 2014-2015 capital project vote will be held 6:30 p.m. Jan. 29 in the Lanigan Elementary School Media Center.

Voting for the capital project will take place 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Feb. 4 at all elementary schools, as per the school board election and budget voting patterns.