All posts by Nicole Reitz

Valley Viewpoints: Labor Day

by Tracy Kinne of Parish

As Labor Day approaches, I am reminded of the benefits of labor unions and the challenges those unions face today.

I’ve never been a union member, but I, like countless other workers in the United States, have benefited from the union movement.

When I left my editing position at a newspaper and took a low-wage cashier job just before the Great Recession, I could clearly see the benefits unions had afforded me.

I got rest breaks — at the company’s convenience, for sure, but still one every two to three hours. I wasn’t allowed to work six hours or more without a lunch break.

I was scheduled for five days of work each week, although I almost always had to sign up for extra shifts to make ends meet, sometimes working 21 days in a row.

I used to wonder, what would this be like if not for the labor unions?

Today, there is a lot of talk about labor union excesses, and I see them myself — the neighbor who in retirement gets a state pension larger than my gross income in my best year working as a full-time journalist for one of the better-paying newspapers in the area.

But mostly, I see where we still need unions.

I talked the other day with one of my former co-workers at the big box store where I used to work.

She told me another cashier was fired for a minor infraction but told to reapply in eight weeks and she would be rehired — at a lower pay rate.

This Labor Day, let’s remember the value of unions.

Valley Viewpoints: ‘Break up the monopoly’

by Len Spano of Phoenix

Have you heard the saying, “Where’s the Beef?” Well, Patty Ritchie, where’s our STAR Rebate checks? Did the local neighbors get theirs? I did not get mine.

As part of her campaign, Ritchie promised to reinstate our STAR rebate checks. That was a big part of her campaign attacking former Sen. Darrel Aubertine. But as a local property owner, I did not receive a STAR Rebate check.

Your local GOP legislators gave out the bid to the highest bidder for work the Oswego County clerk’s office had been doing and should be doing. Now these people who work for Oswego County, entrenched in their union, still get paid and will have more time to campaign for the politicians who guarantee their jobs.

The biggest employer in Oswego County is Oswego County. They should not be hiring any firm outside the area to do their work. The best-qualified workers to do county work are the Oswego County employees who are already on our payroll. It adds up to hundreds of thousands of dollars going out of our area. Thank your Republican legislators for that.

I’m a senior citizen on a fixed income and would like to see our county employees work for their money.

Oswego County sales-tax income is rising along with the price of gas. They have almost doubled the sales-tax income. What used to be about $.08 Oswego County sales tax per gallon is now about $0.16 a gallon. It adds up to extra millions of dollars.

The workingman can barely afford to buy shoes while the Republicans are living high on the hog. They are milking every square inch of our county land for more property taxes. Oswego County should be giving us a break.

Break up the monopoly. Show the Oswego County politicians we can change for the better. Stop being the “sheeple.”

“We the People” will take the county back. The government is supposed to be a watchdog to be fed, not a cash cow to be milked.

County seeks assistance with state mandate

by Carol Thompson

When the Oswego County Legislature’s Strategic Planning and Government Committee meets Monday, an item under consideration is a resolution urging state officials to assist with yet another unfunded mandate.

This time, the county is seeking assistance in paying for a mandated salary increase for the district attorney.

“New York State has significantly increased judges’ salaries over the next three years, forcing counties to increase pay for district attorneys,” the resolution states. “This increased state mandate requires Oswego County to raise the salary of the district attorney from $119,200 in 2011 to $152,500 by 2014.”

Legislators argue that while the state pays the entire salary and benefits of judges and justices, the state only provides supplemental appropriations to counties to partially cover the cost of state mandated pay for local district attorneys.

The salaries of full-time district attorneys and the clerks of the five boroughs of New York City are statutorily tied to those of New York State judges and justices in the Unified Court System.

To read the rest of the story, subscribe to The Valley News by calling 315-598-6397

Arts, Crafts and Kite festival to be held at Fort Ontario

The Friends of Fort Ontario will host an Arts, Crafts, and Kites Festival on the spacious and historic grounds outside the old fort Saturday, Sept. 8 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Oswego Valley Railroad Museum will set up a display of trains in the Enlisted Men’s Barracks.

Candles, pottery, face painting, goat milk soap, jewelry, weaving demonstrations, and music will be featured.

In addition, food and refreshments, including baked goods, will be available  and picnicking on the grounds is encouraged.

Space is still available for crafters, artists, and not-for-profits interested in setting up. Those seeking more information may contact Gail Goebricher at 343-6992 or joshcat@verizon.net.

Admission to the festival is free, but normal admission fees to the old fort will be charged.

Kite experts from around the United States and Canada, including noted kite historian Thom Shanken and the New York Kite Enthusiasts will be on hand to assist kite fliers of all ages and abilities with their kite flying.

Kites up to 450 square feet with 150-foot tails will be featured at the festival and will be visible from miles around.

The public may bring their kites to fly and take part in the Rokkaku Kite Battle, the Running of the Bols, and the kid’s favorite candy drop.

Kites, including micro kites (five inches diameter), rotating box kites, shaped kites, and balsa wood gliders, rubber band powered helicopters, parachute balls, and other nostalgic flying toys will be available for sale.

AmeriCorps staffers Ian Mumpton and Steve Woods will conduct a variety of historic activities and demonstrations for children as well as assist young kite fliers.

Tickets for the fort’s annual Ghost Tours Oct. 19 and 20 will go on sale at the Sept. 8 festival.

State Senate denies request to release cost of recent mailings

by Carol Thompson

Oswego County mailboxes have been flooded with flyers from New York State Senator Patty Ritchie, all taxpayer funded, however, the state will not release the cost of each mailing nor the targeted mailing list.

Some residents in the town and Village of Hannibal said they recently received a flyer from Senator Ritchie announcing the “Women of Distinction” display through July 19 at the Hannibal Free Library.

The flyer also promoted the library’s summer reading program. Not everyone in the Hannibal zip code received the flyer; several registered Democrats said it never arrived in their mailboxes.

A request was made under the Freedom of Information Law, for the cost of producing the flyer, the mailing cost, and the mailing list. The request was denied. “Please be advised that the information you request is not subject to disclosure pursuant to the provisions of the Rules of the Temporary President,” was the response from Francis W. Patience, secretary of the Senate.

The temporary president (majority leader) is Senator Dean Skelos.

When asked why not all residents in the town and village of Hannibal received the mailing, Ritchie’s press spokesperson Sarah Compo said the flyer was sent out to target those who may be interested in the events going on at the library to save on mailing costs.

To read the rest of the story, subscribe to The Valley News by calling 315-598-6397

Services held for county legislator

by Carol Thompson

Oswego County Legislator Mary Flett died Friday, Aug. 17 at her home on East Seventh Street in Oswego.

Flett represented District 17 in the legislature and served on the legislature’s Community and Consumer Affairs Committee as well as the Public Safety and Emergency Services Committee.

Flett was appointed to the legislature in 2008, following the death of her brother, longtime legislator Leonard Ponzi.

Flett won election to the seat in subsequent years.

Prior to her service in the legislature, she had served on the Oswego Common Council, representing the Second Ward.

Flett worked as a custodian for the Oswego Police Department for many years and was also a waitress at Char-Pit for 32 years.

To read the rest of the story, subscribe to The Valley News by calling 315-598-6397

SUNY Oswego art alumni to open eclectic exhibition Sept. 7

A select group of nearly 40 alumni of SUNY Oswego’s art programs — from recent graduates to those who studied in decades past — will offer a free, eclectic exhibition of their work beginning Friday, Sept. 7 at the college’s Tyler Art Gallery.

The “Oswego Art Alums” exhibition will open with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. on Sept. 7, and many of the artists have said they will attend. The exhibition runs through Oct. 6 in Tyler’s north gallery.

Michael Flanagan, the gallery’s assistant director, said the artists, nominated by current and former art faculty, would show that art can be a life-enriching, long-term endeavor.

For example, the photographs of participating alumna Bernice Ficek-Swenson, a professor of art at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, explore “elemental forces of nature, photographing still life materials of stone, ash, cremated bones and, most recently, water,” Ficek-Swenson said.

These elements imply a metaphor of deep geologic time, belong to “our collective unconscious” and “convey a deep spiritual connection to earth,” the 1977 master of arts alumna wrote in an artist’s statement.

“In the series I am currently working on, ‘The Promise of Water,’ I’m exploring metaphors of purity/purification, water as a venerated source,” Ficek-Swenson said.

Tyler Art Gallery will be open for this and a companion exhibition, “Hannah Claus: In/Tangible Presence,” 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays starting Friday, Sept. 7. For more information, contact the gallery at 312-2112.

AndrewHenderson

Laughing Through Life: August 22, 2012

by Andrew Henderson

Roughly two weeks ago, I left for a one-week vacation in Louisville, Kentucky.

Well, in truth, it was not what you would call a real vacation…I led a group of 11, including seven teenagers, to a national youth convention and Fine Arts Festival hosted by the Assemblies of God.

Overall, nearly 13,000 teen traveled from all corners of this great nation to downtown Louisville.

We left late Sunday night/early Monday morning. We traveled by a charter bus. It took 12 hours. I still have nightmares from that bus trip…

Anyway, we arrived in the bluegrass state around 1 p.m. Monday afternoon. I must say that I really enjoyed my stay in Louisville. It is a pretty cool city.

Our hotel was one block away from the convention center and a few blocks from the KFC Yum! Center, which is where our nightly youth services took place.

The KFC Yum! Center is better known as the basketball arena for the Louisville Cardinals men’s basketball team.

When the Syracuse Orange visit the Cardinals this upcoming college basketball season, I can honestly say, “Yep. I’ve been there.”

Outside of the nightly services and Fine Arts Festival, the highlights of the trip were, in no particular order, the restaurants (ie. food), the Louisville Zoo, a section of the city called Fourth Street Live!, and the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory.

Before I go on one of these youth group trips — and I have been on several including Denver, Orlando, Charlotte, Phoenix, Indianapolis, and Washington, D.C.  — I have to be like the biblical character of Joshua and scout out the land. In my case, I’m not scouting the people. I’m scouting eating spots.

Here is a summary of the fine establishments that I visited: Doc Crow’s, Bluegrass Brewing Company, Hard Rock Cafe, Los Aztecas Mexican Restaurant, and a couple of mom-and-pop deli shops.

Doc Crow’s, which was billed as a southern smokehouse and oyster bar, was excellent! We actually ate there twice, which is usually a Henderson no-no. You never eat at the same restaurant twice while on vacation.

We made an exception, however, because of Doc Crow’s “Heap-n Chips,” which are kettle chips topped with pulled pork, cheese, salsa, jalapenos, barbecue sauce, and other hidden gems. They should have named the arena Doc Crow’s Yum! Center!

Also, my wife is planning to recreate the “Heap-n Chips” at home. I’ll let you know how that turns out.

As a group, we also went to the Louisville Zoo, which is a pretty cool zoo complete with a 4-D movie theater. In addition, they had an moving dinosaur exhibit that was originally supposed to end several weeks ago but was extended until the end of August.

The 4-D movie theater was pretty neat. We had our choice of Dora & Diego’s 4-D Adventure or Planet Earth: Ice Worlds. Of course, being with a group of teens, the chose Dora the Expolorer.

You already know about 3-D; well, 4-D is pretty much the same thing, but with a few surprises. For example, at one point, Dora and her rainforest friends were on a boat and waves were splashing into the boat. In 4-D, you can see the waves into the boat and you can actually feel them as water is squirted on you.

At one point, one of Dora’s friends was eating a banana and you could actually smell a banana. Later on during the movie, I could have sworn that Dora was, um, passing gas — that is until I realized that I was sitting next to a mother who was holding a baby. Doh!

Later on that night, my wife and I headed to Fourth Street Live — an area of downtown Louisville filled with restaurants, bars, and the such. Apparently, it’s the place to be in Louisville on a Friday night.

We were meeting my wife’s sister’s husband’s cousin and her husband from Cincinnati, who made the 90-mile drive to visit with us. We met up just after an outdoor concert was ending.

We stood around talking when we realized that one of the band members was right next to us. For the next 15 minutes, we watched as young females flocked to him and had their picture taken with him.

At one point, a 13-year-old teen who could not contain his excitement ran up to him and began fawning over him. It was like he was a member of the Beatles or something. I thought he was going to pass out from excitement.

I don’t think I ever saw someone fawning over someone else in my life. That was some seriously extreme fawning. Extreme fawning — they should make a reality show about that.

As we watched this happening, we were joking that we had no idea who this person was or what band he was in.

 To read the rest of the column, subscribe to The Valley News by calling 315-598-6397