All posts by Nicole Reitz

F. Irene Blake, born in Fulton

F. Irene Blake, 86, of LeRoy and formerly of Palm Coast, Fla., died Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012 at the LeRoy Village Green Nursing Facility.

Mrs. Blake was born December 19, 1925 in Fulton, a daughter of the late David and Elizabeth (Howard) Griffiths.

She had recently relocated to LeRoy from her home of 24 years in Palm Coast, Fla. She was a faithful member of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Palm Coast. She loved to play cards and bake.She was a former member of the Cosmopolitan Club in Allentown, Pa.

Mrs. Blake enjoyed singing, and was a member of several church choirs over the years. She also greatly enjoyed entertaining people for dinner.

She was the wife of the late Donald J. Blake, who died in 1996. They spent 51 years together.

In addition she was predeceased byher brother, John (late Mary) Griffiths, and sisters, Marie Drake and Jean (late Richard) Oberg.

She is survived by her sons, Douglas (Grace) Blake of Kingwood, Texas and David (Donna) Blake of Stafford; grandchildren, Brendan (Shauna) Blake of Byron, Karen Blake and Kathryn (Scott) Chapman, both of Texas; a brother-in-law, Edward Drake of Pennsylvania; and several nieces and nephews.

Graveside services will be held at the convenience of the family. Burial will be in Mt. Adnah Cemetery, Fulton.

Contributions may be made to Trinity Presbyterian Church, 156 Florida Park Drive North, Palm Coast, Fl, 32137.

Arrangements have been entrusted to the H.E. Turner & Co. Funeral Home, Batavia.


Conference outlines the future of the canal system

by Nicole Reitz

The 14th New York State Canal Conference, co-presented by the New York Canal Corporation and the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, will be held Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 in Oswego.

The Canal Society of New York State is a group of men and women who have joined together to study canals and their history. Founded in Buffalo in 1956, the society’s goal is to promote an interest in the canal system, past and present, and to encourage preservation of canal records, artifacts and sites.

This year’s conference will be held at the Lake Ontario Event and Conference Center and will include panels and presentations of major issues for the canal system. International speakers and regional experts from Kentucky, Ohio and New York will be on hand.

“As a community, we are proud to host the 2012 New York State Conference in a location Where the Water Never Ends,” said Jonathan Daniels, executive director of the Port of Oswego. “The canal has played a significant role in shaping the economy of the City of Oswego, and New York State as a whole.

“The conference will show how we continue to depend on the recreational and commercial activities of the waterway, and will outline development opportunities that will enhance our economic fortunes for the future,” Daniels added.

Sunday, Sept. 30 will showcase Oswego with a variety of activities, the CNY Great Pumpkin Festival at Washington Square Park, re-enactment of a Civil War Battle at Fort Ontario Historic Site, and an Oktoberfest celebration.

The Oktoberfest celebration will feature German and American food from 4 to 9 p.m. at the conference center, followed by music from Fritz’s Polka Band from 6 to 8 p.m., and concluding with a light and fireworks show over the Oswego River.

The opening plenary session, Monday, Oct. 1, will be presented by Daniels on the economic impact on the Port of Oswego.

Monday’s reception and dinner will be at the Bayshore Grove banquet facility on the shore of Lake Ontario. The dinner features a keynote address by James Clifton, who is from the United Kingdom’s Tourism Enterprise Group.

Tuesday morning will include more breakout sessions.

To read the rest of the story, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397

Legislator irked over clerk memos

by Carol Thompson

Three memos — all issued by Acting County Clerk Georgiana Mansfield — has the ire of legislators, who according to Mansfield, are not allowed to speak to employees or allowed to go behind counters.

The memos, issued Thursday, instructs employees not to speak to legislators, the press, or the public.

“Any contact with representatives of the public, media or legislators concerning the functioning of the Oswego County Clerk’s office or any topic concerning this office not related to the filing, recording or searching of documents will be handled solely by the acting county clerk or the deputy clerk,” the memo states.

Oswego County Minority Leader Mike Kunzwiler said he was livid to think that two employees would make an attempt to dictate to other employees who they can and cannot speak with. He added that he was further angered with the attempt by Mansfield and Deputy Clerk of Operations Matthew Bacon to attempt to stifle the legislators.

“We, as legislators, are responsible for the county building and what goes on inside them,” said Kunzwiler. “These two employees cannot dictate to the legislature. What are they trying to hide?”

A second memo instructs employees to restrict access to specific parts of the clerk’s office to anyone any other than employees.

Both memos state that permission must be granted by either Bacon or Mansfield before stepping outside of the boundaries of the memos.

“This is why the governor needs to appoint someone to come in for the remainder of the year,” Kunzwiler said.

Mansfield was named acting clerk upon the death of George Williams. Kunzwiler has been pushing for Governor Andrew Cuomo to appoint someone through the end of the year due to the “continual controversy and mismanagement” of the office.

A third memo instructs two employees to essentially train a new employee. Kunzwiler said that he will investigate why the employees are being asked to show a new employee how to do work when Bacon’s position was created in part for the purpose of training.

 To read the rest of the story, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397

Republicans once again block property tax break

by Carol Thompson

Oswego County Legislator Dan Farfaglia can’t get the Republican caucus to agree to give a property tax exemption to homeowners who make improvements to their dwellings.

During last Thursday’s meeting, Farfaglia attempted to bring a resolution to the floor that would provide a public hearing on the proposal. The resolution would bring back a program that expired several years ago, however, few residents took advantage of the program.

Farfaglia said he believes with more publicity, the program would be better utilized.

The proposed law would have given residential homeowners the opportunity to make improvements in excess of $30,000 for a 100-percent exemption on the increase in the assessed value attributable to the reconstruction, alteration or improvements for the first year and for the following four years on a sliding scale basis.

The exemption would be limited to $80,000 in increased market value of the property. The exemption would not be available to those making routine maintenance and repairs.

Eligible properties could not be more than two family homes and the greater portion of the home to be improved is at least five years old. Farfaglia asked for the rules to be waived so that he could introduce the resolution to schedule a public hearing.

Legislator Dan Chalifoux objected and called a point of order. Minority Leader Mike Kunzwiler said Farfaglia had the right to introduce the resolution.

Majority Leader Jack Proud said he objected to the procedure because the Republican caucus had not received a copy of the resolution prior to the meeting.

County Attorney Richard Mitchell ruled the procedure was proper.  Farfaglia made an argument for the exemption, citing that other counties offer the program.

Chalifoux again voiced objection.

 To read the rest of the story, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397

Sweet considers write-in campaign for county clerk

by Carol Thompson

Susan Sweet, a registered Conservative and 29-year employee of the Oswego County Clerk’s office, said Wednesday she is considering a write-in campaign for the clerk’s position that will be on the ballot in November due to the death of George Williams.

Sweet did not receive the endorsement of the Oswego County Conservative Party. She was not made aware the Conservative Committee was holding a meeting to nominate a candidate to put on the ballot.

Instead, the Conservatives nominated Michael Backus, a Republican, who did attend the meeting.

County Conservative Party Chairman Ron Greenleaf said he was surprised Sweet had not sought the nomination because he was aware she had been interested in running for the office in the past.

He said Sweet had not been notified that a meeting was going to be held for the purpose of nominating a candidate.  A notice had been issued stating than an organizational meeting was to be held, however, it did not reference the nomination and Sweet did not receive it, Greenleaf said.

“We had a short time frame,” Greenleaf said, adding that no one had called Sweet to tell her of the meeting in the event she was still interested in running.

“I was approached after the fact,” Sweet said. “I had calls the day after the meeting asking why I didn’t attend and why I wasn’t running.”

Sweet said she has been encouraged by members of her own party and some residents of the county to launch a write-in campaign.

“I’ve had calls from registered Conservatives who said they were disappointed the line went to a Republican and not someone from their own party,” she said. “They encouraged me to do a write in campaign.”

Sweet said she has not made a firm commitment, although she said she has had many offers of help with a campaign, should she decide to run.

Two years ago, Sweet attempted a run against George Williams, however, her nominating petitions were not valid due to a technicality.

At that time, she did interview with the Conservative committee and was passed over for Williams, a Republican.

Her campaign theme was to add a mobile office to the clerk’s office, which would travel to towns around the county on a regular schedule.

“I wanted, and still would like to see, a traveling office so that it is convenient for those living a far distance from the Oswego office to have easy access to the services the clerk’s office provides,” she said.

Sweet said she also campaigned on the negatives of outsourcing the clerk’s office to Onondaga County-based Info Quick Solutions, Inc., the company that provides the data imaging services for the office.

“Before IQS, the public could come to the Oswego office and purchase a map at a very low cost,” Sweet said. “Now maps must be ordered from IQS and not only are they more costly, but the public is forced to pay a shipping fee. The price of a map for the public has more than doubled and I firmly believe that it is wrong.”

 To read the rest of the story, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397

CNY Arts Center to present Christmas musical

The CNY Arts Center, located in the lower level of State Street Methodist Church, 35 State St., in Fulton, will present “Yes, Virginia…The Musical,” a new adaptation of the classic holiday story.

It will debut Dec. 7 and run through Dec. 16.

In 1897, eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon asked her father if there truly was a Santa Claus after her disturbing encounter with friends who claimed there was no such thing. Her father, Dr Phillip O’Hanlon, a Manhattan physician, suggested she write to The Sun, New York City’s prominent newspaper, assuring her an answer from The Sun would be a trustworthy reply.

One of the paper’s editors, Frank Church, took up the challenge and wrote an editorial that is today the most widely read and remembered editorial of all time. His response delivered a timeless message of hope, faith and belief that addresses a contemporary society as easily as the one that existed when the editorial was written.

“We’re excited to present this new version that has a light-hearted story, an eclectic assortment of characters and wonderful music,” said Nancy Fox, director. “‘Yes Virginia, The Musical’ was written by the creative team at MACY’S who wanted to bring their original animated ‘Yes, Virginia’ holiday special to the stage. This is a perfect cast size with suitable roles for all ages and the first opportunity for children to become involved onstage with us.”

Open auditions for the Christmas musical will be held Sept. 25 and 26 from 7 to 9 p.m. with auditions for children only set for Sept. 29th from 1 to 2 p.m.

There are four speaking roles for children and three speaking roles for adults with multiple singing and dancing opportunities for all others.

Those wanting to audition should plan to sing a song and tell a favorite story. Some reading from the script will also take place.  Those seeking more information on CNY Arts Center or the musical may visit or call 216-8790.


Shock cruises past Montreal 46-21

by Rob Tetro

The Syracuse Shock toppled Montreal in its final regular season game in Fulton last Saturday.

Syracuse built an early 14-point lead, which set the tone for a solid performance. Led by the tandem rushing of DeWayne Gordon and Justyn Hardwick, the Shock came away with a 46-21 win over Montreal.

Syracuse built a two-touchdown lead during the first quarter. Though Montreal showed signs of life during the second quarter, the Shock still outscored Montreal by a point, which gave the Shock a 29-14 halftime lead. During the third quarter, Syracuse outscored Montreal by 10 points, which put them ahead by 25 points. Each team scored a touchdown during the fourth quarter.

Gordon and Hardwick led The Shock offensively. Gordon and Hardwick combined for 79 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 18 carries. Qaurterback T.J. Sheard had four carries for 32 yards while C.J. Moore and Chris Hart combined for 17 yards on two carries.

Sheard had a stellar day throwing the ball as well. Sheard completed 19 of 25 passes for 259 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Once again, Tyrone Burke Jr. was the Shock’s leading receiver. Burke caught 6 passes for 66 yards and a touchdown.

Tyler Gage caught only five passes but he made the most of those receptions. He tallied 119 yards receiving and caught a touchdown.

Derek Serino, DeWayne Gordon and Justyn Hardwick each caught two passes while combining for 68 yards receiving. Jeff Case and Duane Milton also had receptions for the Shock.

 To read the rest of the story, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397
Michael Backus
Republican candidate for county clerk

Backus to take an ‘evaluative’ approach

Michael Backus
Republican candidate for county clerk

by Carol Thompson

Oswego County Clerk candidate Michael Backus said he will evaluate some of the concerns with the office to determine the best path to take.

When asked if he would call for an audit of the office, Backus responded, “Should the taxpayers of Oswego County honor me with their vote in November and elect me County Clerk, I will do my own personal evaluations of the office and work with the oversight committee in the legislature, our auditors and the comptroller’s office to determine the best path forward for the office.”

Backus said he will address the controversy and allegations of mismanagement and investigations also by his personal evaluation.

“As with any change in administration, I will certainly take the time to evaluate the office as it currently exists after I am sworn in and make changes to ensure the office is accountable and responsive to the taxpayers of Oswego County,” he said.

The clerk’s office has been shrouded with controversy in recent years and some problems have been discussed at legislature meetings. Backus said while he has read news reports and heard rumors and innuendo, he did not feel it was appropriate to comment.

“If mismanagement took place, if laws or rules were broken, I will act swiftly and constructively to ensure the integrity of the office going forward for the taxpayers of Oswego County,” he said.

The controversial contract for data imaging services is also something Backus said he would need to evaluate.

 To read the rest of the story, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397