All posts by Nicole Reitz


Students enjoy limousine ride to school as part of in-school banking program

Students from all five Oswego public elementary schools and Oswego Middle School enjoyed becoming “millionaires for a day” recently after their names were drawn from a hat as part of Compass Credit Union’s in-school banking program. Riley Elementary School riders Olivia Powers, Kathleen Winchek, Sophia Babcock, Jordan Ferlito, Tatum Winchek and Grace Tolley enjoy the smooth ride of the limousine.
Students from all five Oswego public elementary schools and Oswego Middle School enjoyed becoming “millionaires for a day” recently after their names were drawn from a hat as part of Compass Credit Union’s in-school banking program. Riley Elementary School riders Olivia Powers, Kathleen Winchek, Sophia Babcock, Jordan Ferlito, Tatum Winchek and Grace Tolley enjoy the smooth ride of the limousine.

Students from all five Oswego public elementary schools and Oswego Middle School enjoyed becoming “millionaires for a day” recently after their names were drawn from a hat as part of Compass Credit Union’s in-school banking program.

A part of the prize, the winning students enjoyed a high-class limousine ride to school with a handful of classmates, siblings and friends.

Later, Compass also provided a free pizza party for the winner’s classmates.

The six winners were Sofia Loayza of Leighton Elementary School, Josh Sterio of Kingsford Park Elementary School, Sophia Babcock of Riley Elementary School, Alexander Loomis of Fitzhugh Park Elementary School, Kasey Wells of Minetto Elementary School, and Nathaniel Ahart of Oswego Middle School.

“Students in our school banking program are really starting to understand the power of saving money and how rewarding it can be,” said Jackie Wiegand, marketing administrator for Compass. “For our grand-prize winners and their friends, the limousine ride to school is something they will always remember.”

Compass launched its first “Bank at School” program four years ago at Riley Elementary School and has since expanded the program to Leighton, Kingsford, Fitzhugh and Minetto, as well as Oswego Middle School.

Students who participate open savings accounts at the credit union, receive a free piggy bank and get small prizes for making deposits once a month during lunchtime.

Every time a student makes a deposit, he or she also gets their name put into a hat to win a prize at the end of the year. In May and June, Compass picked winners for Walmart gift cards, ice cream coupons from Bev’s in Oswego, Compass string backpacks and plastic “mood” cups with straws.

The grand prize was called “millionaire for a day,” which included the limo ride, the classroom pizza party and a special T-shirt. The limo was provided by G&G Limousine in Oswego.

Mexico captures title of best-tasting drinking water

The Village of Mexico captured the title of Oswego County’s best-tasting drinking water in an informal contest held June 13 at the Oswego Farmers’ Market.

Five municipal water districts took part in the 23rd annual contest.

Visitors were invited to taste samples of public drinking water and cast votes for their first and second choices.

Mexico was the winner with 55 points, followed by the Village of Pulaski with 51 points; Richland water district with 37 points; Oswego with 32 points; and Fulton with 26 points.

Mexico’s water will be entered in a regional competition and regional finalists from around the state will compete at the New York State Fair for the state’s best-tasting drinking water.

The village of Mexico won the title of best-tasting drinking water in New York State in 2002 and 1991.

Sixty-seven people voted in the Oswego County contest, which is sponsored by the Environmental Division of the Oswego County Health Department in conjunction with the New York chapter of the American Water Works Association.

Blessing or bill of goods?

by Frank Castiglia, Fulton

At a recent Fulton Common Council meeting, a public hearing and vote on changing a certain area of the City of Fulton from M1 to R1A.

In that meeting, we were told a story about a couple that came back to Fulton in hopes of fulfilling their American dream of owning their own home in (the wife’s) hometown. I am glad that people want to come back to Fulton and I would like to see more of it.

My problem is…why this property and why this area of Fulton? There are many vacant homes in the city of Fulton that are in R1 and R1A Zoned areas.

Let’s take a little look back in time. It was 1965-1975 era and everything in Fulton looked great. The city leaders at that time sold the citizens of Fulton a bill of goods that at the time sounded and looked good. They told us that urban deployment was the way to go to get federal and state money and keep our taxes low.

They destroyed our beautiful and historic downtown. They also told the residents of a certain area that the best thing for them to do was be zoned M1 so they could sell their property easily to then Sealright. Everyone was happy.

Fast forward to 2013. With urban development came an increase in public assistance housing. Costs have driven many of the manufacturing out of our city. Now we have an increase in crime, an increase in taxes — both city and school— and increased cost mainly due to the bill of goods sold to us by the city leaders of 1965-1975 era.

Let me try and put this all together now. Over the past year or so, a certain landlord in Fulton was trying to buy a house that had been left vacant for over a year. He tried and tried to get the zoning board to change it back to an R2 and they (Zoning board) told him and two other buyers that they couldn’t do that without the city changing the law or the zone.

The zoning board has done a great job in lowing the number of rental properties in the city. Now, the above mentioned landlord couldn’t get or didn’t try to get anyone to sponsor a bill to change the zoning so he or one of the other two could buy the property.

I am very glad that a multi-unit rental was not put back on the tax rolls. We need single family homes. I thought it was all over and done with.

Then along came a city councilor from another ward that sponsored a bill to change the zoning from M1 to R1A because he wants to see a couple live their American Dream and we need to help the people of the southwest corner of the Fourth Ward.

Oh, did I fail to mention that this couple is related to him.

Now, when questioned about this, he had me read at the meeting the definition of the word relative in relationship to the code of ethics and a conflict of interest.

Because he is a second cousin, he is not forbidden from voting on this. We all have read about the couple — how they bought a house and started doing repairs only to find out that they couldn’t move in. This is where I have a problem or question.

Why wouldn’t they have had a lawyer find out what the zoning was way before they bought it and at least way before they started repairs. If building permits were needed to do the repairs, why didn’t the city code office tell them about the change?

Also, I have checked the tax records for this property and it doesn’t show them as an owner. Now, the only thing I can check is the tax records for the Oswego County property tax rolls.

I’m sure someone will come up with a real good story why it doesn’t show and it will be a good one…just like the last one.

If this all happened five years ago, way before the problem with the house being vacant, there never would be any questions or concerns.

It didn’t and I think the city taxpayers have been sold another bill of goods telling us how good this will be for us.

Only time will tell. I just fear that we have just added another nail into the casket for the city of Fulton. I really pray to God that I am wrong.

Suicide prevention

by Angela Marotta, Fulton

I am sending the following letter on behalf of Angela Marotta, a board member of the CNY Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Her contact information is below.

We must take action to prevent suicide. I lost my daughter, Ashley to suicide in 2007. It has taken me some time, but today I am dedicated to making suicide prevention my life’s mission.

Sadly, as the 10th leading cause of death, suicide continues to take an enormous toll on families, friends and entire communities. We must do more.

That is why last Thursday, I traveled to our nation’s capital to meet with members of Congress and urged their support of legislation furthering suicide prevention, education and research.

My involvement was part of a national movement coordinated by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention as part of their Annual Advocacy Forum.  Hundreds of volunteer advocates from across the country met with their members of Congress that day to encourage action to reduce suicide.

Even if you haven’t been personally affected by suicide, please take a moment to visit and learn how you can get involved here in New York.

FEMA, NRC observe Nine Mile Point explosion exercise

by Nicole Reitz

The Joint Information Center at the Oswego County Airport was open Wednesday for a drill exercise to evaluate the Nine Mile Point nuclear power plant’s preparedness in case of an emergency.

The event was monitored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which reviews off-site agency plans, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The graded drill began when an alert was declared at Nine Mile Point Unit 2 at 8:52 a.m. In the scenario, a fire started in an emergency diesel generator, which caused an explosion at the reactor. Nine Mile Point Unit 1 had been operating as usual.

In response to the emergency, the Joint Information Center at County Route 176 in Fulton was activated. The center is the official source of emergency information from New York State, Oswego County and CENG, the licensee for the Nine Mile Point nuclear power plant.

If an alert were to be declared, residents, especially those within the 10-mile emergency planning zone surrounding the plant, should tune into their radio or television stations and listen for the Emergency Alert System messages.

The EAS messages carry official government information with health and safety instructions that the public would be asked to follow. Area residents wanting more information on plant conditions could also call the public inquiry line.

At 10:18 a.m., the drill escalated from an alert to a site area emergency and non-essential personnel were evacuated from the station.

Governor Cuomo advised farmers within the 10-mile radius to shelter all dairy animals and other livestock and place them on stored feed and water. In this stage, there was no release of radiation into the atmosphere or water due to the event.

In the case of a real event, at this time, residents in the 10-mile radius of the nuclear power plant would be asked to refer to their Public Emergency Response Information calendar, which contains maps of the planning areas. Similar information can also be found in the yellow pages of local telephone books, or on posters placed in public locations.

At 11:53 a.m., a general emergency was declared by officials at Nine Mile Point Unit Two because of release of radiation above the federal limits due to equipment problems. A general emergency is the most serious of the four emergency classifications as defined by the NRC.

By 12:55 p.m., people in the 10-mile radius were asked to evacuate to the New York State Fairgrounds and swallow their Ki tablet. The Potassium Iodide tablet is distributed by the county and is used to protect the thyroid gland against radioactive iodine released during a nuclear emergency.

In the event of a real incident, a state of emergency would be declared and the emergency alert system activated by the Kevin Gardner, chair of the Oswego County Legislature.

To read the rest of the article, pick up a copy of The Valley News. You can subscribe by calling 598-6397 or click on the link on our home page.

What’s happening at CNY Arts Center?

A brand new roster of classes for July and August has just been created for summer art fun.

A brand new class for 4-7 year olds, Story Time Art, will start meeting Tuesdays from 6 to 7 p.m. July 2 with Kendra Matott.

Each week children will listen to a story then create an art project inspired by the story.

The first class will read “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” and construct a book of things we can see.

Over the seven week series, “Harold and the Purple Crayon” will help children imagine and see what they can make with a magic purple crayon.

The popular “Fancy Nancy” will get children designing their own Fancy outfits and “Where the Wild Things Are” will guide the children to draw their own “Wild Thing” to take home! These and more great titles and fun art projects are bringing summer fun for children in an age group often overlooked! Don’t miss out. Please pre-register at

Also starting Tuesday, July 2 is the first of Bonnie McClellan’s painting classes with acrylics painting a wetlands crane from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

More classes to come with McClellan include oil and ink drawing – a class every other week throughout the summer.

Leslie Paice will start a six-week series with Introductory Stained Glass Thursdays, July 11 through Aug. 29 for ages 16 and up.

Coming July 23 is a new class for kids ages 8 to 15, Art of Heroes: Learning to draw Super Heroes.

In addition to the monthly Artist Meet-up at the new Arts in the HeART Gallery at 7 p.m. on the last Tuesday of each month, a new open studio will be offered at the center July 11 and Aug. 8 from 6 to 9 p.m. All skill levels are welcomed to join other artists to practice life drawing/painting from still life. Bring your own materials or use some of ours. An artist facilitator will be on site. Artists can get practice drawing/painting from life and go home with a finished work.

New writing programs are on tap with Showing and Telling from Carol Thompson meeting selected Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 8:30 p.m. starting June 25 or 27 (call the office for latest details, 592-3373).

This class will teach writers how to begin, plot and end a novel by showing and telling, while avoiding tense confusion and disruption of flow. Bring any work in progress or finished. Be prepared for class interaction and lots of learning fun! This class starts this week. Get registered right away!

Brittney Jerred offers Journal Entries – On a Personal Note as a one-time workshop July 22 from 4 to 8 p.m. while Jim Farfaglia takes Writers on the Road July 20 with a one day class open to all writers to explore how artwork can inspire and prompt our work.

The program will take place at CNY Arts Center’s “Arts in the Heart” Gallery, located at 47 South First Street in downtown Fulton. Instruction will be provided to guide participants as they write short pieces inspired by the artwork on display at the Gallery.

Writer’s Café July 14 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. is open to all writers to come and share their work.  Author Spotlight July 17 from 7 to 9 p.m. will introduce Jim Farfaglia’s newest book “People, Places & Things, the Powerful Nouns of My Life.”

As CNY Arts Center’s writing coordinator, Farfaglia will share excerpts from his latest book of poetry; will talk about his process of writing and will also work with those in attendance to create a “group poem.”

Exciting things are also planned for August.

Students are reminded to pre-register for all classes and workshops to avoid missing out. Classes and workshops charge a modest fee. Visit  for more information or call 592-3373 for details and updates.

Moon Moment

by Jim Farfaglia

Moon Moment


At my first glimpse of you –

just a comma in the evening sky –

I pause,


my clouded vision

my rainy-day blues

my skyful of regrets   vanishing


with just the illumination

of your slim, but undeniable truth:

How everything that holds me down


crumbles, when you lift me up.

Syracuse Shock will not return to Fulton this summer

by Rob Tetro

The Syracuse Shock has announced that it will not be playing its home games at G. Ray Bodley High School in Fulton this summer.

In a move that will allow its players to play closer to home, the Syracuse Shock will be playing its home games at Liverpool High School this season.

Following the conclusion of the 2012 season, offensive linemen Jamie Hantke, also known as 95X Radio Personality Big Smoothie, announced his retirement. However, shortly after his announcement, Hantke was named one of the Shock’s assistant coaches under head coach Ken Anderson.

However, Anderson recently resigned as head coach of the Syracuse Shock. Hantke quickly opted to do the same.

Currently, the Syracuse Shock is searching for a head coach for the 2013 season.

Former Syracuse University running back Robert Drummond has joined the Shock’s coaching staff. Though the entire coaching staff is yet to be completed, Drummond is considered a candidate to replace Anderson.

The Shock has home games against Glens Falls July 6, Watertown July 13, Plattsburgh Aug. 24 and Northeast Pennsylvania Sept. 14.

All games are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.