All posts by Nicole Reitz

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State panel would study immunizations for diseases

by Carol Thompson

The New York State Senate passed legislation last week that would create a panel to study the track record and emerging science of immunization and vaccines for Lyme disease, tuberculosis, HIV and Eastern equine encephalitis.

The bill, proposed by Senator Patty Ritchie, would create a “21st Century Workgroup for Disease Elimination and Reduction” within the Department of Health, comprising top experts in diseases, infection and public health, and charged with finding ways to push for the development of effective vaccines against EEE, Lyme disease, tuberculosis and HIV.

The bill, which has been referred to the state Assembly, would require the new panel within the state’s Department of Health to report annually on findings.

Lyme disease and EEE are insect borne disease. West Nile virus, another mosquito borne illness, is not referenced in the legislation.

The Oswego County Legislature has been attempting to raise public awareness of EEE and visitors to the back of the county office complex are greeted with a sign asking residents to be aware of the mosquito-borne disease.

EEE is a disease spread by mosquitoes that primarily infects horses, but is also responsible for five human deaths in Central New York in the past 30 years, including last summer’s death of four-year-old Maggie Sue Wilcox of New Haven.

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

Signs have been posted at Camp Hollis, the county recreation camp for youth, designating it a tobacco-free park. From left are Kathleen Fenlon, director of the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau; Abby Jenkins, program coordinator of the Oswego County Tobacco Free Coalition; and Brandon Morey, coordinator of youth and recreation development for the Oswego County Youth Bureau.

Oswego County legislature adopts tobacco-free parks policy

Signs have been posted at Camp Hollis designating it a tobacco-free park. From left are Kathleen Fenlon, director of the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau; Abby Jenkins, program coordinator of the Oswego County Tobacco Free Coalition; and Brandon Morey, coordinator of youth and recreation development for the Oswego County Youth Bureau.

The Oswego County Legislature has adopted a tobacco-free parks policy for county parks.

The action was taken at the annual “Government Day” program of the legislature with seventh grade students from around the county participating in the meeting.

“Residents of all ages enjoy the pristine environment of our parks and trails,” said Legislator John Proud, chairman of the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee. “People should be able to use and exercise in all Oswego County-owned parks without being exposed to the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.”

The three county parks maintained by the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau are Camp Hollis in the Town of Oswego, Camp Zerbe Nature Park in Williamstown, and Independence Trail in Scriba.

Kathleen Fenlon, director of the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau, said her agency has made it a practice to restrict tobacco use at the county parks.

“Children have smaller lungs than an adult, and therefore breathe in 50 percent more air pollution than an adult.”

“This action by the county legislature makes the Youth Bureau practice an official county policy,” said Fenlon. “Oswego County does not allow the use of tobacco products on the entirety of the Independence Trail system. There are designated smoking areas behind the maintenance shed on the Camp Zerbe and Camp Hollis property grounds; the rest of these facility grounds are tobacco-free.”

According to Abby Jenkins, program coordinator for the Oswego County Tobacco Free Coalition, discarded cigarette butts constitute the majority of litter on beaches, parks, playgrounds, and sidewalks.

“It’s important to focus on the health and safety of our children, community members, pets and wildlife by making our outdoor recreational areas tobacco free, especially when 75 percent of Oswego County adult residents favor smoke-free parks and playgrounds,” said Jenkins. “Making our local outdoor public areas tobacco-free keeps them beautiful and free of pollution, protects our children and wildlife from ingesting toxic cigarette butts, prevents second hand smoke exposure, and maintains positive role-modeling for youth.”

The resolution was discussed and approved by the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee prior to a vote by the full legislature.

More than 300 municipalities in New York State have adopted a tobacco-free outdoor area policy or ordinance.

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County legislators review new code of ethics

by Carol Thompson

Members of the Oswego County Legislature’s Strategic Planning and Government Committee got a first look at a new draft code of ethics for county employees and elected officials.

During Monday’s meeting, the draft policy was handed out and legislators were asked to review it for later discussion.

The state recently made major changes to the law and local municipalities may add to, but cannot subtract from, the state laws.

The draft policy addresses disclosure of interests in legislation and other matters, the prohibition on use of a municipal position for personal or private gain, recusal and abstention, private employment in conflict with official duties, future employment, use of municipal resources, interests in contracts, nepotism, political solicitations and activity, confidential information and gifts.

The draft policy keeps the number of ethics board members at three, something some legislators oppose. Minority Leader Mike Kunzwiler, as well as other committee members, have suggested that the number of board members be increased to five or seven. Many counties in the state have more than three board members.

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

Poetry Corner: A River Runs Through Us

by Jim Farfaglia

Most days we don’t give it a thought,

our cars traveling over it so swiftly.

But if you ever get the chance to walk across

– either bridge will do –

you can almost hear its history

flowing beneath you:

 

The Iroquois, enchanted by its waters,

listening to its message

and living by it, peacefully.

 

The European explorers, passing through,

finding its churning life-force

and finding good reason to stay.

 

The mills – flour, paper and woolen –

its industrious waters turning wheels,

turning this settlement into a city.

 

The locks, bringing in the big boats,

bringing young and old to its banks,

where they watched in wonder.

 

The parks, havens beside its waters,

fishing in summer, skating in winter;

a pause in life’s busyness.

 

This mighty river,

how it moves us through time.

How it reflects our lives.

How it stirs our spirits!

Golden Sun Bus driver and Fulton resident Martha Becker holds a poster made for her and signed by students who ride bus 478. Becker has transported three generations of families in her career.

A surprise send off for longtime school bus driver

Golden Sun Bus driver and Fulton resident Martha Becker holds a poster made for her and signed by students who ride bus 478. Becker has transported three generations of families in her career.

by Nicole Reitz

Martha Becker, a 42-year employee with Golden Sun Bus, completed her last route Thursday.

Becker, 73, has had the same route in the Fulton City School District since she started back in 1970.

As Becker pulled into the bus garage for the last time, she was greeted by fellow drivers, honking their horns. Teary eyed, she stepped off bus 478 and was welcomed into the arms of her children, grandchildren, administrators and students who were there to surprise her.

“Congratulations, you are a prize,” said board of education Vice President Rosemary Occhino.

Carson Metcalf, who just graduated from G. Ray Bodley High School, presented Becker with a bouquet of flowers, posters made by students, a framed article from The Raider, a signed farewell book and a 2012 year book.

The yearbook includes a dedication to Becker in the front of its pages.

Metcalf, a writer for GRB’s student newspaper and aspiring meteorologist, organized the surprise. Becker is his bus driver and has deeply inspired him.

“She is one of my favorite people and an incredible person,” he said. “Not often do school bus drivers get the recognition they deserve, so its nice to be able to do something for her.”

Metcalf acknowledged that at one point he aspired to be a school bus driver, simply because he wanted to inspire others, just like Becker has inspired him.

More kind words were said about Becker, including comments from her colleagues.

“She’s given everything she has to her run. She’s a sweet little old lady and she’s going to be greatly missed,” said school bus driver Debbie Alton.

School bus monitor Daryl Cobb of bus 198 echoed Alton’s remarks. “Martha is the sweetest lady you will ever meet in your life,” said Cobb. “I’m going to miss her a whole mess.”

Becker makes runs to all of the schools in the Fulton City School District and also transfers elementary students to Granby for swimming.

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

At The Fencepost: June 27, 2012

Karen Abbott

by Karen Abbott

I’ve been doing a lot of quilting lately and it feels great. I put it off, sometimes, even though I know I enjoy it once I get started.

I think it’s going to be tiring or hot or take energy I don’t have. It gives back, though, like all good hobbies do.

I just finished up a quilt for my older daughter’s graduation. I had made one for her sister, so it’s a bit of a tradition now.  With my second child leaving the nest, though, it feels a more bittersweet.

I now know what it feels like to hear about milestones many weeks after they occur. Stories about the new boyfriend, the big cantata, and the road trip with best friends sound different, like trying to hear the nuances of a loved one’s voice on speaker phone from the next room. You recognize the voice, but syllables are dropped here and there.

You’re not sure if you’re saying “Oh, that’s wonderful!” at the right time. The immediacy that gave living under the same roof all its drama also gave it charm and solidarity. We were family.

When I went to college, I moved in with my aunt and grandmother.  So it wasn’t such a distinct rite of passage for me. We lived just up the hill from where I’d visited my great-grandmother in my youth.

I find myself thinking about her a lot as I quilt. She was a quilter, though I didn’t know it until college. My aunt showed me a trunk that had some of her quilts in it, just like something from Little House on the Prairie.

I wasn’t a quilter at the time so the value and skill of her work was lost on me.

In those college years, my aunt and my grandmother and I would sit around the radio Sunday evenings, listening to Paul Harvey and eating popcorn and homemade fudge. Though great-grandma had died when I was in seventh grade, the folks were just getting comfortable talking about her.

Once I asked my aunt to tell me as much family history as she could remember. She scoffed.  “What’d you want to know that for?” Well, why wouldn’t I want to know? I was the daughter of a history teacher who taught me more about New York State than anyone I ever met. I was taking history classes in college — Russian history, Colonial history, European, history of the Reformation — I couldn’t get enough. Walking past Great-Grandma’s house on my way to classes, I was curious.  I wanted to know more.

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

Valley Viewpoints: North Bay facts

by Barry Ostrander, Parks and Recreation Superintendent of the City of Fulton

I’m writing in response to a Valley Viewpoint that was printed in The Valley News on June 20. I wanted to respond with accurate information relating to the North Bay Campground revenues and expenditures for 2011.

At the June 12 Recreation Committee meeting held at the east-side pool, I presented the council, Recreation Committee, two city employees and three Fulton citizens with figures on how the campground fared in 2011.

Each year. I present the council and mayor an expenditure budget that I anticipate I may need for the operations of the campground. During that time, I also present a revenues budget of the same amount so that the campground operations are on a break-even basis on paper and is not a tax liability when used to factor in the tax base.

The budget for 2011 was $49,502 for both budgets. The campground revenues for 2011 were $45,716.00 and its expenditures were $41,775.50 of which both came in under budget; however, there was a surplus of $3,941.50 that more than covered the operations of campground.

These figures do not include the property tax the campground parcel sits on that is paid to the Fulton City School District, Town of Granby and Oswego County.

The reason for this is that the city pays for that parcel regardless of what it is used for. When the campground was closed in the early 1990s, the city was paying for property that sat empty and was over grown with weeds, brush and left inhabitable.

The Bullard Administration in 1994 decided to reopen the campground for camping under the condition it paid for the maintenance and upkeep associated with camping.

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

The men and women of the Oswego Fire Department march through the streets of Oswego during the 2011 Independence Celebration. The 49th annual Independence Parade and Celebration will take place Sunday, July 1 in Oswego.

Oswego’s Independence Celebration to be held Sunday

The men and women of the Oswego Fire Department march through the streets of Oswego during the 2011 Independence Celebration. The 49th annual Independence Parade and Celebration will take place Sunday, July 1 in Oswego.

One of the official signs of summer in Oswego is the Independence Celebration, which will be held Sunday, July 1 beginning with the 49th annual Independence Parade at 1 p.m.

Last year, the parade route was returned to the original direction, which was heading East on Bridge Street. The route will be slightly shorter this year.

The starting location will remain the same with the parade beginning at Oswego High School on Liberty Street and will end on East Seventh Street at the tunnel leading into Fort Ontario.

The concert that evening at Breitbeck Park will begin with Oswego High School Jazz Band at 7 p.m. and Oswego City Band following.

Good Times of Oswego will be celebrating its 10th anniversary by bringing all 10 of their inflatables to Breitbeck Park that night.

Food vendors Garafalo’s, Barlow’s Concessions and Ma & Pa’s Kettle Corn will also be in the park.

The evening concludes with a fireworks display over the Oswego Harbor beginning at dusk.

Those seeking more information about the Independence Celebration may call the chamber at 343-7681.