All posts by Nicole Reitz

Steven Cooper Sr., Eagle Scout

Steven C. Cooper, Sr., 51, of Fair Haven, died Saturday, July 21, 2012 at home.

Born in Oswego, he was a life resident of the Fair Haven area. He was the greenskeeper at Springbrook Golf Course in Sterling which he had helped his family build. He graduated from the National Hardwood Lumber Association Inspection Training School Dec. 12, 1980 and had worked in the lumber industry before working at the family golf course.

He was an Eagle Scout and had been very active with the scouts.

He was predeceased by his father, Clarence Cooper, who died in 1989 and an uncle and close friend, Manford Lehne, who died in 2009.

Surviving are a son, Steven C. Cooper Jr. of Fair Haven; mother, Patricia Cooper Maxon of Sterling; a brother, Curt (Lisa) Cooper of Sterling; two step-sisters, Alayne (Neil) Howard of Hudson and Joyce (Jurgen) Englehardt of Maine; and several aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins.

Calling hours will be held tomorrow, July 26 from 4 to 6 p.m. at Foster Funeral Home, 837 Cayuga St., Hannibal. There are no services. Burial will be private at the family’s convenience.

Contributions may be made to the Fair Haven Fire Dept. P.O. Box 334, Fair Haven, NY 13064.


Tax exemptions considered for home improvement projects

by Carol Thompson

Members of the Oswego County Legislature’s Community and Consumer Affairs Committee will consider a resolution that would provide a property tax exemption to homeowners who make capital improvements to residential properties.

The committee will consider the matter during Thursday’s meeting, which is generally held Wednesday but had to be moved due to a nuclear plant drill.

According to an informational memorandum submitted by Legislator Dan Farfaglia, the resolution would bring back a program that expired several years ago, however, few residents took advantage of the program.

The proposed law would give 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.

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

Oswego Players to hold 75th anniversary fund-raiser

In anticipation of the Oswego Players’ 75th year of continuous operation beginning January 2013, the Players are looking for support in upgrading the Oswego Civic Arts Center building.

Formerly the Quartermaster building for Fort Ontario, the center, turning 100 in 2013, is in need of repair and upgrades.

It is shared by the Players and the Art Association of Oswego.  Both groups are contributing volunteer support to this fund-raising effort.

A fund-raising campaign is in progress to add to the building renovation fund.

Aug. 25, a fund-raising dinner will be held at the Foundry in Oswego. There will be a silent auction of items donated by local businesses, a cash bar and a buffet meal.

The “piece de resistance” will be the British farce by Ray Cooney, “Caught in the Net,” a sequel to his farcical romp, “Run for your Wife.” Cooney is well-known for his outrageously funny situations and characterizations.

Directing the farce will be Oswego Players veteran director Sherri Baker. The cast will include Michael Callahan, Beverly Murtha, Adele and Eric Cronk, Aaron Callahan, Elizabeth Ladd and Dr. Michael Nupuf.

Crewing will be Nelson Metz, stage manager; Christopher Metz, sound; Julia Preston-Fulton, props, and Elizabeth Ladd, makeup.

The Players and Art Association members are also selling raffle tickets for a trip for two to Las Vegas, including air fare, a week’s lodging and $500 spending money. There will a maximum of 1,000 tickets sold.

They will be available from any Player or Art Association member and also sold at the Oswego Farmer’s Marketon Thursday evenings and at Harborfest in the Art Association’s booth.

Those seeking more information may visit the Oswego Players web site at, or call the Box Office at  343-5138, or e-mail to

Legislators review ethics policy

by Carol Thompson

The Oswego County Legislature’s Strategic Planning and Government Committee reviewed a draft ethics policy that will eventually be the subject of a public hearing.

Legislator Milferd Potter said he had some concerns with the policy when it came up for discussion during Monday’s meeting.

“I think we are being a little bit tough on elected officials,” he said.

A part of the draft law prohibits legislators from taking a county job for two years.

“I don’t think we need to be more strict on this than what the state law requires,” Potter said. “I don’t think we should have a two year wait.”

Minority Leader Mike Kunzwiler asked what the state law provides. The county must follow the state’s ethics code and can add more but cannot subtract from.

“I don’t think it needs to be in there,” Potter said.

County Attorney Richard Mitchell said the clause applies more to vendors.

A discussion ensued as to vendor relationships and whether anyone covered under the policy cannot do personal business with the vendor.

Legislature Chairman Fred Beardsley used Legislator Doug Malone as an example. Malone owns an automotive repair shop and if a county vendor needed a tire repaired and they were down the street from Malone’s shop,  Malone would not be able to fix the tire, Beardsley said.

Malone said he cannot tow vehicles or work for the county and spoke about work he performed more than a decade ago that he was not allowed to receive payment for because of the conflict-of-interest.

The county had also been sued in the past by a group of taxpayers who objected to the county doing business with employees who own businesses.

There was uncertainty as to how the county’s policy addressed the issue.

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

Valley Viewpoints: Rome (Fulton) burns

by Wesley Belcher of Fulton

The City of Fulton and the so called movers and shakers are fiddling while Rome burns, so to speak.

If you visit any number of like-size cities in and around the upstate area, you’ll find boutiques, outdoor dining, small festivals and, more or less, well maintained businesses and homes.

On the other hand, here we have head shops, pawn shops, gold traders, and motorcycle gang parties (please spare me the rhetoric about these folks being regular folks out for a Sunday ride, it isn’t so.)

We have a disproportionate amount of welfare recipients and run-down properties as well as a homeless shelter. We display empty run down store fronts. The roads are atrocious in their condition. The drug problems are running rampant.

Yet we seem to do nothing. The folks who are bearing the burden of retirements for our public officials and the costs of running the city are selling their homes and getting out of Dodge. black magic

You can drive through the Third Ward; the “For Sale” signs are popping up like dandelions after a good rain. In deed, the news reported sometime ago that we enjoy the highest rate of taxes in the State of New York.

Problems that have been long promised to be addressed, for instance the river weed problem, have gone on the back burner now that elections of last year are over.

To read the rest of the Letter to the Editor, subscribe to The Valley News by calling 315-598-6397
Oswego County Undersheriff Gene Sullivan and the Amherst chief of police announced Friday that the body found washed ashore July 14, 1984 near Oswego was that of a teenaged girl missing from Amherst. The remains of 14-year-old Nancy Jo Scamurra, pictured, were found by a fisherman off the coast of Oswego County 28 years ago.

County sheriff’s department helps with cold case

Oswego County Undersheriff Gene Sullivan and the Amherst chief of police announced Friday that the body found washed ashore July 14, 1984 near Oswego was that of a teenaged girl missing from Amherst. The remains of 14-year-old Nancy Jo Scamurra, pictured, were found by a fisherman off the coast of Oswego County 28 years ago.

by Carol Thompson

Members of the Oswego County Sheriff’s Department assisted in identifying the body of a deceased in a decades-old case.

Undersheriff Gene Sullivan and the Amherst chief of police announced Friday that the body found washed ashore July 14, 1984 near Oswego was that of a teenaged girl missing from Amherst.

Oswego is 120 miles northeast of Amherst.

The remains of 14-year-old Nancy Jo Scamurra were found by a fisherman off the coast of Oswego County 28 years ago.

Sullivan said that when the torso was originally found, the missing girl was a center of publicity; however, officials could not make a connection because technology did not exist at the time.

At that time, the Onondaga County Medical Examiner’s Office could only say that the preliminary autopsy report revealed that the partial body of a woman had been found and all that could be determined is that it was a white female between five to six feet tall and under age 40, according to the July 17, 1984 issue of The Valley News.

The autopsy had concluded that the death was a homicide, however, the cause of death had not been determined.

Sullivan says the Onondaga County Medical Examiner’s Office contacted Oswego County Sheriff’s Department last year and specifically asked that they retrieve DNA from family members and relatives of the girl.

Within the last two months, officials were able to determine that DNA from the remains matched that of Scamurra.

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


Laughing Through Life: July 25, 2012

Andrew Henderson

A month from now, Central New York will be basking in all things New York State Fair.

When I mention the New York State Fair, what immediately comes to mind? The animals? The buildings, musical concerts, or the midway? How about the annoying clown in the dunk booth? Cold cups of chocolate milk, anyone?

Or is it the people who actually attend the fair? This annual event is probably one of the best people-watching spots on the planet — right up there with LaGuardia Airport in New York City and a REO Speedwagon concert.

For me, it is — and always will be — about the food. I must admit, however, that I only go to the fair once every couple of years. I am not a fan of having to spend money to purchase a ticket just to get inside to spend more money to purchase food. I usually like to pay once for my food. Usually.

I will also admit that I am sometimes intrigued by the food concoctions they come up with at the fair. Oh, I like to stick to my favorites, but I also like to change things up a bit.

The new concoction this year, according to a news release from the fair folks, is something called the Big Kahuna Donut Dog, which is the sidekick to last year’s sensation, the Big Kahuna Donut Burger.

The Big Kahuna Donut Dog is just what it sounds like: a hot dog wrapped in a glazed donut. But, instead of the usual condiments of mustard, ketchup and relish, the dog is wrapped in bacon. Well, I guess you could still put mustard or ketchup and relish on it…if you really had to.

In my life, I have been in some situations where I have been very afraid, including the time when a Cuban soldier armed with a machine gun was examining my undergarments while in a dinky airport in Cuba (that’s a story for another time).

The threat of being thrown into a Cuban prison, however, doesn’t compare to the Big Kahuna Donut Dog.

It’s not what you think. I am not worried about clogging my arteries, having an instant heart attack, or any other cliche you can think of when it comes to high-calorie, high-fat food items.

I’m afraid that if I do eat a Big Kahuna Donut Dog it will take away from my love of donuts, hotdogs, and bacon.

In other words, I don’t want to ruin my love affair with any of them. I’m afraid if I try this — and it ends of being totally disgusting — that it will diminish my fondness for each of them. It’s a risk I am not willing to take.

State fairs are synonymous with fried foods — and the New York State Fair is no different.

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

Valley Viewpoints: Campaign tool?

by Judy Prosser of Hannibal

I walked into our local library last week to find a huge sign with Senator Patty Ritchie’s name prominently displayed. The sign blocked access to the aisle.

It was part of the “Women of Distinction” display that her office has rotating through local libraries.

As a long-time supporter of women’s rights and women’s history, I had no problem with the historical portion of the display, which included posters of prominent New York women in history and some books of information about these women on the table.

What I did object to was the blatant use by Senator Ritchie to promote herself. I know that the incumbent always has an advantage in gaining exposure for their name, but this was over the line.

Senator Ritchie’s name was displayed more prominently than Jan Rebeor’s, the current year’s honoree, and it was Ritchie’s photo on the cover of the pamphlets for the current year honoree and nominees.

If this display was for the purpose of recognizing these women, why would she put her own picture on the cover and not the honoree?

I did a little bit of googling, and found that the pamphlet format was the same as that used by Majority Leader Dean Skelos for state awards with a big exception. Dean Skelos left Lady Liberty as the cover, while Ritchie substituted her own face on the cover.

I think that tells us who this exhibit is for — certainly not the honorees or the taxpayers.

The presentation would also lead one to believe that this award was entirely Mrs. Ritchie’s idea and sponsored by her. It is actually a program of the New York State Senate that has been in place since 1998 and senators in every district do the same thing.

It is interesting that while this award was also done by Ritchie in 2011, we did not see such a display make the library rounds then. I also wonder why the schedule for the exhibit on her web site includes only Oswego County libraries when her district (and the nominees) include Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties.

Could it be that last year Mrs. Ritchie was not running for re-election against Amy Tresidder, a strong woman from Oswego County?

I also wonder if I am I correct in assuming that it is our taxpayer money that is paying for both the production of the posters and the staff time to move it from locations to location?

I question it because this seems as much a campaign tool as an educational piece. Just wondering…