All posts by Andrew Henderson

CNY Arts Center offers writing classes

The CNY Arts Center of Fulton has announced its latest writing classes.

“Journal Entries – On a Personal Note” will be offered Monday, July 22, from 4 to 8 p.m. Instructor Brittney Jerred will introduce writers to the concepts of voice, colorful writing, and showing, not telling.

All will complete a writing project in class — either by hand or by word processing — that will be published on the internet for participants to share with friends and the public.

A link will be provided at class.

“I look forward to meeting our local talented writers at this workshop and reading their submissions,” said Jerred. “We will have a finished product to share at the end.”

Those who prefer to write on a laptop computer may do so, but traditional pen-and-paper writing is also welcome.

The class will be held at the CNY Arts Center, located at 357 State Street in Fulton

Participants should bring a bagged lunch.

“Writers On The Road” is a class that will take place at the Arts Center’s “Arts in the Heart” Gallery, located at 47 S. First St. in downtown Fulton.

The program will take place July 20 from 1 to 4 p.m.

Instructor Jim Farfaglia will explore how artwork can inspire and prompt work. Instruction will be provided to guide participants as they write short pieces inspired by the artwork on display at the Gallery.

“Writing and creating studio art are related at a basic level,” said Farfaglia. “They are different ways to express ourselves, but when experienced together, they can further inspire us. Not only is this class a great way to see the exciting artwork being created by local artists, but to look deeper into what the artists are expressing through our writing.”

Both classes are open to writers of all levels of experiences. There is a fee for the classes.

Those seeking more information about the fees and other class details, or to register, may call the CNY offices at 592-3373.

School districts and United Way kick off Stuff-A-Bus Campaign

Members of the Oswego County Teachers Association, Oswego County Civil Service Employees Association, Catholic Charities, Oswego County Opportunities and United Way have announced that the annual Stuff-A-Bus Campaign is underway.

Working in collaboration with United Way of Greater Oswego County, other area school districts, and more than a dozen business and organizations, the annual Stuff-A-Bus campaign collects donations of school supplies for distribution to less fortunate students throughout Oswego County.

Beginning in April Stuff-A-Bus Co-Chairperson, Jo Ann Conzone organized a gift basket in order to raise awareness of the Stuff-A-Bus campaign and to encourage donations of school supplies in the Oswego City School District.

Patti Perfetti was the winner of that basket. She is also in contact throughout the school year with the Roller Derby Oz Girls who are supporters of this much-needed venue.

The APW school district has purchased raffle tickets for a cruiser bike and is selling them at this time; OCO collects supplies from communities for this program, many other county school district do a variety of fund raisers.

Conzone said, “I am proud to say that last year’s county give away totaled over 8600 supplies given to 1600 Oswego County families.   We are very appreciative of the work that the unions and county organizations do to help make the Stuff-A-Bus campaign so successful.”

“Hundreds of families are grateful for the supplies they receive.  Of course this would not be possible without the support we receive from the businesses and organizations that host their own school supply collections and serve as official donation sites for the Stuff-A-Bus campaign,” said United Way of Greater Oswego County Executive Director Melanie Trexler.

The highlight of the “Stuff-A-Bus” campaign will be the special collection day Wednesday, Aug. 14 when school buses will be at the following sites from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to accept donations of school supplies from pens and pencils to notebooks and backpacks.

They will be held at:

• Wal-Mart on Route 49 in Central Square;

• Wal-Mart on Route 104 in Oswego;

• Wal-Mart on Route 3 in Granby;

• Kinney Drugs at 3318 Main Street in Mexico;

• Kinney Drugs at 3873 Rome Road in Pulaski;

• Kinney Drugs at 17 South First Street in Fulton;

• The Hannibal Village Market IGA, Route 3 in Hannibal; and

• Fulton Savings Bank parking lot, Route 57 in Phoenix.

Those seeking more information on the Stuff-A-Bus campaign may call the United Way office at 593-1900 or the Oswego City School District Superintendent’s Office at 341-2001.

OCO Education Services feels impact of federal sequestration

For hundreds of low-income families in Oswego County, the dream of having their children begin their school years as well prepared as their peers has ended.

Federal Sequestration, which many first heard months ago, has affected Oswego County Opportunities’ Education Services.

For decades OCO’s Head Start program in Pulaski has prepared youth ages 3 and 4 to begin school ready to succeed. This fall, however, there will be no Head Start program in Pulaski.

Federal Sequestration has resulted in a $118,403.00 cut to Head Start locally. Due to the loss of these funds, the Head Start program will no longer be available in the Pulaski School District.

The Cleveland Head Start, which serves the Central Square School District, has been forced to eliminate one of its two classes.

Additionally, these cuts have a domino affect that goes well beyond the loss of vital services to low-income children and their families.

The loss of three teachers, the reduction of hours to 11 other staff members, and the loss of an administrative position will directly affect the local economy as well, according to OCO Director of Education Services Beth Kazel.

“Reliable studies have found that the positive long-term effects of Head Start result in lower rates of grade repetition and special education placement, as well as increased high school graduation rates for Head Start graduates,” said Kazel. “Additionally, Head Start children are significantly more likely to attend college than their siblings who did not attend Head Start.”

Head Start does much more than prepare children to begin their school career, she noted. It helps parents work with their children and strengthen their parenting skills as well.

It also provides comprehensive services, including a registered dietician who plans healthy, nutritious menus and offers nutrition counseling to parents; family services staff who advocate for, and work directly with, parents; mental health consultants who observe Head Start children and work with parents and teachers on issues such as child behavior; and nurses who connect with parents and staff on children’s health needs such as dental exams and other health issues.

“Head Start provides a healthy and a safe learning environment where children learn through play,” said teacher and Pulaski Head Start Center Director Sue Austin. “We also assist families with everything from getting enrolled in GED programs, to enrolling in college, finding jobs, and other referrals for success in their communities.  Head Start provides opportunities for parents to become involved in their child’s education in a positive and supportive setting.

“I have seen firsthand how former Head Start students are thriving in the public school system,” she added. “Over the years, we have welcomed back former students to volunteer and read to our class.  It has been amazing to see their growth as students, both academically and personally.

“We not only help the students academically but also socially and emotionally,” she continued. “Over the past nine years more than 180 families in the Pulaski school district have been given a head start on their education.  We will sincerely miss the children and the families that we have had the pleasure to come to know. Our only hope is that we have made a difference in their lives as much as they have made in ours.”

Robin France has had two sons go through the Head Start program and has had the opportunity to experience Head Start as a mother and as a teacher.

Her connection with Head Start inspired her to continue her education and pursue her goal of teaching. France, who holds a BA in early childhood and a master’s in special education, is saddened by the affect Federal Sequestration is having on Head Start.

“It’s very hard to put your feelings into words when your heart is involved,” she said. “This isn’t a job; it’s what I am and what I do. To come in each day and have a child say ‘good morning’ and give you a hug; to see the ‘Aha!’ moment in their eyes and the wondrous expressions when they discover they could do it by themselves; to see them interact and problem solve with peers is priceless.”

While the cuts to the Head Start program affect three- and four-year-olds preparing for school, the complete elimination of the Rural After School Program will affect middle and high school age students in three Oswego County school districts.

The Rural After School Program served approximately 600 students in the APW, Hannibal, and Fulton school districts.

While not directly a result of the Federal Sequestration, OCO’s RASP and several other RASP programs in the state lost their funding when the annual request to renew the grant funding was denied.

OCO’s RASP was available every day and offered students a more social setting than the school day, allowing them to build healthy relationships with other students and adults.

Students were engaged in a number of educational, recreational and enrichment activities, as well as community service activities that allowed them to give back to, and feel connected to, their community in a positive way.

Research has shown that students involved in After School Programs do better both academically and socially as they achieve higher grades, better attendance records, and experience overall educational success.

RASP provided youth with a number of groups and activities, including: Social Support and Community Service Groups; Youth Issues Groups that address violence prevention, pregnancy prevention education, and substance use prevention; Life Skills Training; Recreation Activities; Tutoring; and Enrichment Activities.

Staffed by youth specialists, peer specialists, and academic staff members, RASP provided youth in rural areas with a productive way to fill their after school time.

Diane Cooper-Currier, executive director of OCO, said that while these cuts hurt, they in no way reflect on the quality or value of the programs or the employees who rendered these services.

“The services provided by these programs and staff were of the highest caliber,” she said. “The decrease or elimination of these programs is a reflection of the challenging fiscal times we’re currently facing. Regardless of the challenges we face, our mission remains the same. OCO continues helping people, supporting communities, and changing lives.”

Oswego school board prepares for New Year

Kathleen Allen and Samuel Tripp were elected as Oswego Board of Education officers for the upcoming year.

During the annual reorganizational meeting, Allen became the new president of the board while Tripp will serve as the vice president for the 2013-2014 year.

Other appointments during the reorganizational portion of the meeting were approved for King & King P.C. (Architect of Records), William Foley (Clerk of the Board of Education, Clerk of the School District, Records Retention and Disposition Officer, Records Access Officer), John Edwards (District Treasurer), and Joyce Galletta (Deputy District Treasurer and Tax Collector).

Also, Michael Riley (Reserve Internal Claims Auditor), Peter Myles (School District Purchasing Agent and Title 9 Compliance Officer), Benefit Consulting Group (Health Insurance Consultant Services), Dermody, Burke & Brown CPA, LLC (Internal Auditor), Syracuse Newspapers (Official District Newspaper), Oswego Daily News (Official Media Website) and official bank depositories J.P. Morgan Chase Manhattan Bank, Key Bank, Community Bank and NBT Bank.

Raymond Wager CPA, P.C. was named the independent auditor for the district and the law firm of Ferrara, Fiorenza, Larrison, Barrett and Reitz P.C. was named as the attorney for the Oswego City School District Board of Education as well as for the school district.

During the regular meeting the board acted on several resolutions relating to school district business.

Approval was given for six to twelve Oswego Middle School seventh graders to participate in the Baja California Sur Island Ecology Program at Espirtu Santo Island, off LaPaz, Mexico during Spring break.

The board also approved the posting o several positions including a regular substitute English teacher, registered substitute Mathematics teacher, school bus driver, part-time school bus attendant, custodians, custodial workers and girls’ junior varsity soccer coach.

Christine Babcock was appointed as a temporary part-time typist while Marilyn Rhinewald was approved as a Data Processing Department typist.

Under finance the Board of Education approved a series of cooperative bids will Oswego County BOCES.

During the “Items from the Board” portion of the meeting board member Lynda Sereno announced she was resigning from the board. However, she retracted that decision and will continue to serve.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Oswego Board of Education will be Tuesday, July 23 with the public portion of the session slated to be conducted beginning at 6 p.m.

Fulton to begin tree inventory

The Davey Resource Group, a division of the Davey Tree Expert Company will be conducting a tree inventory, tree risk assessment and pest detection of all publicly-owned trees in the City of Fulton neighborhoods during the month of July.

This work is partly funded through an Urban Forestry Grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Phoenix receives grant funds to continue Friday night concert series

The Village of Phoenix has been awarded $975.00 from CNY Arts, formerly the Cultural Resources Council, under the 2013 Community Arts Grants Program.

Community Arts Grants provide support for arts and cultural projects to community-based organizations, groups, collectives, and artists in Cortland, Herkimer, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga and Oswego counties that meet certain criteria.

Funds are provided by the State and Local Partnership Program of the New York State Council on the Arts through its Decentralization initiative.

“The Village of Phoenix is very excited to receive another grant for the Friday Nights of Fun concert series,” said Mayor Anthony Fratto. “Due to the overwhelming support for this program, we have expanded this year’s concert series to include seven performances by some of Central New York’s most talented musicians.

“One of our many goals of the Village of Phoenix is to enhance the quality of life for our residents and visitors,” Fratto aded. “We accomplish this goal by generating and supporting cultural experiences, such as the concerts in Henley Park.”

The Village of Phoenix will use the grant funds to continue the Friday Nights of Fun Concert Series, which was started in 2012.

The concert schedule has been finalized and will feature performances by Flat Face and the Shemp-dells July 12, Stone River Band July 19, Vote for Pete July 26, Hendry Aug. 2, Western Swing Aug. 9, Clean Slate Aug. 16 and Nite Life Aug. 23.

All performances will be held at Henley Park and begin at 6 p.m.

In addition to funding from CNY Arts, the continuation of this concert series would not be possible without the financial contributions of the Village of Phoenix, Northwestern Mutual Financial Network, Michelle’s Baskets and Bows, Dunn and Sgromo Engineers, Gingersnap Bakery, Leon Vickery, Inc/Vickery Insurance and KL Consulting Services, along with many generous donations from members of the community.

The Town of Schroeppel has also received a grant from CNY Arts for the Monday Night concert series that will be held in Henley Park.

The concert schedule is as follows: July 15 – Joe Whiting, July 22 – Susan Taylor Trio, July 29 – Weekend Pass, Aug. 5 – DeSantis Trio, Aug. 12 –  The Custom Taylor Trio, and Aug. 19 – Phoenix Community Concert Band.

The rain location for both the Monday and Friday night concerts will be at the Phoenix Fire Station.

The Phoenix Community Band performance will be cancelled if the weather is bad.

‘Art in the Wind’ mural takes flight

CNY Arts Center is ready to launch its next community mural project titled “Art in the Wind.”

The 8-foot-by-12-foot mural will invite visitors to Harborfest’ Novelis Family Park July 26-28 to paint recycled aluminum squares as a portion of a larger painting.

Pieces will then be baked, strung on an aluminum frame, and hung in a permanent location in the CNY region.

“We are excited to present another community mural project for Harborfest visitors,” said concept creator Leslie Paice. “Last year’s stained glass mural of Van Gogh’s Starry Night was a crowd pleaser. The completed mural using nearly 2,000 cut glass bottles was erected in Fulton at Indian Point Park.

“This year’s mural is the exact opposite in terms of lightweight construction.” Paice added. “It is bigger and calls for more than 600 individual aluminum squares to be painted and assembled like a giant puzzle.”

The original art entitled “Wings” is the creation of Angela Arrey-Wastavino whose artwork was chosen in a juried competition earlier in the year.

“We are delighted with this selection for the mural,” Paice noted. “It is inspirational and uplifting and with the metal exposure will capture the sunlight beautifully drawing the eye and making spirits soar. The art evokes feelings of freedom and joy, a perfect depiction of what the mural intends to convey.”

Arrey-Wastavino is a versatile multi-disciplinary artist and academician whose work has exhibited internationally in Europe and Latin America.

She is currently president of Onondaga Art Guild and leads public relations for Associated Artists of Central New York. Her international life style and multiethnic background have inspired her creativity in the field of visual arts developing concepts with particular attention to details.

The artist will be in attendance during Harborfest to help with the project, accompanied by students and family members coming from Europe to participate in the historic event.

“This is another example of the arts bringing the community coming together, an international community in this case, to create a lasting legacy for all to enjoy,” said Paice.

Those seeking more information on the group may visit or call 592-3373.

Outdoor Channel host promotes Wear It!

Campaign Brookfield Renewable Energy Group announced a new strategic partnership with veteran professional bass angler and Outdoor Channel series television host Joe Thomas to promote the Wear It! Campaign.

The Wear It! initiative raises public awareness about responsible and safe recreation on or near water, and the importance of wearing a life jacket.

“Brookfield first collaborated with Joe in 2012 for its Fish with a Pro sweepstakes, part of the Wear It! Oswego campaign,” said Shannon Ames, Brookfield’s director of community and stakeholder relations.“Joe follows many of the same common-sense safety tips Brookfield encourages when he’s fishing or hunting. We believe through this partnership, Joe and Brookfield can maximize our reach to more effectively convey the importance of the Wear It! water safety campaign.”

“This is a tremendous opportunity to really help make a difference,” said Thomas. “Having fished professionally for close to 30 years I understand the importance of water safety which starts simply by wearing a life jacket.”

The 2013 season of Thomas’ Outdoor Channel series Stihl’s Reel in the Outdoors begins in July and will feature special public service announcements made possible by Brookfield. The PSAs will remind viewers to always wear a life jacket when recreating on and around the water.

In addition, Thomas will also make personal appearances at select Brookfield hydroelectric generating facilities in 2013 and 2014 to promote the Wear It! initiative.