All posts by Debbie Groom

Family Literacy Nights planned for today, tomorrow

Oswego County Opportunities (OCO) Head Start program is treating parents and children participating in Head Start to a series of Family Literacy Nights.

One is scheduled for April 9 (today) in Oswego and April 10 in Cleveland.

OCO Head Start Family Literacy Nights are filled with fun activities based on well-known children’s books.

Recently, the theme for the nights is based on the works of acclaimed author Eric Carle, including The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Grouchy Ladybug and The Very Busy Spider, to name a few.

The creator of brilliantly illustrated and innovatively designed picture books for very young children, Carle is best known for his book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

The book has been translated into more than 50 languages and has sold more than 33 million copies. Since the book’s publication in 1969, Carle has illustrated more than 70 books, many best sellers, most of which he also wrote, and more than 110 million copies of his books have sold around the world.

Beth Kazel, director of OCO Education Services said that the uniqueness of Carle’s books make them a real treat for the children.

“Mr. Carle’s works are much more than just books.  Many have added dimensions such as die-cut pages and lifelike sounds.  While they are interesting and fun to read they are much like a toy that can be played with and enjoyed,” said Kazel.

Carle has said the appeal of his books lies in his intuitive understanding of and respect for children, who sense in him instinctively someone who shares their most cherished thoughts and emotions.

“With many of my books I attempt to bridge the gap between the home and school. To me home represents, or should represent, warmth, security, toys, holding hands, being held. School is a strange and new place for a child. Will it be a happy place? There are new people, a teacher, classmates — will they be friendly?”

“The unknown often brings fear with it,” Carle said. “In my books I try to counteract this fear, to replace it with a positive message. I believe that children are naturally creative and eager to learn. I want to show them that learning is really both fascinating and fun.”

Kazel added some of the activities for the Family Literacy Nights include: Grouchy Lady Bug math, making spider webs, caterpillars, puffy paint and snacking on pancakes while parents take turns reading Eric Carle books to the children.

“We have had excellent feedback from both parents and children that have attended our Literacy Nights in Fulton and Phoenix. “We are looking forward to our upcoming Literacy Nights in Oswego on April 9, and in Cleveland April 10.  Families will have fun while engaging in early reading skills with their children,” said Kazel.

For more information on the OCO Head Start program, contact Beth Kazel at  598-4711, or visit

Phoenix student signs with Oral Roberts University

Destiny Teel recently signed a letter of intent to Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla.

Teel, a senior at John C. Birdlebough High School in Phoenix, will attend the school and participate on the track team.

Teel, a standout in the pole vault for Birdlebough’s indoor and outdoor track seasons, also runs sprints and hurdles.

Born in Tulsa, Okla., Teel is excited to go “back home.” An excellent student as well as an exceptional athlete, Teel has also been nominated for the university’s  Quest Whole Person Scholarship.

She will interview with the selection committee this month to find out whether she will receive a scholarship of up to $20,000 per year to the prestigious university.

The scholarship program recognizes students who demonstrate the following: Christian world view, lifestyle of service, academic achievement, leadership ability, vision to make a life-changing impact on others and a healthy lifestyle.

While at Oral Roberts, Teel plans to major in biology.

Andy Lewis, who was her track coach for three years, called Teel, “a good kid who has come a long ways, especially in pole vault. She did a lot of extra work above and beyond to better herself,” he said.

A leader on the field and in the classroom, Teel was co-captain of the indoor team for the past two years.

Teel finished second in the pole vault in sectionals during the indoor season and jumped a personal record of 8 feet 6 inches earlier this year.

She also was named Field Most Valuable Player during the indoor track season and looks forward to the start of the outdoor season soon, providing weather and field conditions cooperate.

Tie-flying competitions, film festival coming to Altmar

Submitted by Oswego County Tourism

The Tailwater Lodge will host a fly-tying competition and IF4 film festival Friday and Saturday, April 11 and 12.

The event opens with social time and viewing video segments in the Tailwater’s lounge Friday evening.

Starting at noon Saturday, April 12, spectators can watch 20 fly-tiers produce four special flies each, one per hour, from a grab bag of materials and hooks valued at more than $50.

There are still a few openings available for fly-tiers. Materials are donated by Fly Men, JP Ross and Mad River.

Registration for fly-tiers is $99 and includes one night’s overnight lodging, the grab bag of materials, admission to the traveling Fly Fishing Film Festival (IF4) and access to the hospitality suite on the day of the event.

Tom Fernandez, director of business development for the Woodbine Group, encourages spectators to watch the tie-off event and stay for the film festival. Drawings and awards will begin at 5 p.m. that day, followed by the opening of IF4, a traveling Fly Fishing Film Festival, at 7:30 p.m.

Admission to just the Tie-Off and IF4 is $15. Tickets are available online at IF4 showing is limited to 100 people.

“Tailwater is offering a special discounted room rate of $99 for both Tie-Off participants and spectators,” said Fernandez. “Guests also receive access to fish the Salmon River on the property.”

Guests should use the code “WKND” when booking.

More information is available by contacting the Tailwater Lodge at 298-3434 or Tom Fernandez  at or 569-7413.

Events planned for Library Week at Oswego Public Library

That special week in April, from April 13 to 19, is almost here!

National Library Week is a perfect time to stop in to the Oswego Public Library and see what’s up in 2014.

Fun, free, and new events for young adults include chess club, which will pair novice and grand master alike, as popular chess software is tested versus mortal men.

Also, the intriguing and ambitious art of coding with Java will be introduced to all who appreciate the inner workings of the digital realm.

Photoshop Elements, led by artist Ben Jerred, is an invaluable software class, transforming digital photos and scans into your own artwork.

And of course, computer games and friendly rivalries will commence at the Computer Gaming workshop.

Dates and times are as follows:

April 14 – Chess Club 10:30 a.m. to noon

April 15 – Photoshop Elements for Young Adults 10 a.m. to noon

April 16 – Computer Gaming 10 a.m. to noon

April 17 – Introduction to Coding 10:30 a.m. to noon

April 18 – Chess Club 10:30 a.m. to noon

The Library Learning Center is located on the lower level of the Oswego Public Library, and is open Monday through Saturday.   All programs are free and open to the public.

Call the library at 341-5867 to register for workshops or if you have further questions.

“Bundle of Bucks” fundraiser set for May 31

Port City Chiropractic, P.C. is helping line up support for this year’s St. Luke “Bundle of Bucks” Charity Drawing  event.

Dr. Ed Galvin, Jr. at Port City Chiropractic has donated a Chiroflow Premium Watebase pillow, one of the many valuable prizes to be awarded during the drawing party May 31 at the Oswego Elks Lodge.

In addition to door prizes, the “Bundle of Bucks” event will award 15 cash prizes totaling $25,000, with a top prize of $10,000 to a lucky winner when all 1,000 tickets are sold.

Every ticket purchased will be entered in all 15 cash prize drawings.

The entry fee for the drawing is $50 per ticket. Ticket applications are available by calling St. Luke Health Services at 342-3166, or you can stop and purchase tickets directly at St. Luke Health Services, Bishop’s Commons or St. Francis Commons in Oswego, and Michaud Residential Health Services in Fulton.

Ticket applications are also available online at

Proceeds from the “Bundle of Bucks” go to the St. Luke–John Foster Burden Fund, directly supporting resident programs at the nonprofit affiliate organizations of The St. Luke Family of Caring; St. Luke Health Services, Bishop’s Commons Enriched Living Residence and St. Francis Commons Assisted Living Residence in Oswego, and Michaud Residential Health Services in Fulton.

Each ticket admits two adults to the “Bundle of Bucks” drawing party from 1 to 4 p.m. May 31 at the Elks Lodge in Oswego. The event features free food, beverages, live entertainment, games and prize drawings.

You must be 18 years or older to purchase a drawing ticket and you do not have to be present at the drawing to win.

For more information call 342-3166.

Applications due soon for Oswego revitalization grants

The Oswego Renaissance Association  began accepting pre-applications for the “Renaissance Block Challenge” grant program April 2.

As the first of several revitalization and beautification projects to come to the city of Oswego this year, these are matching grants to property owners in the city of Oswego. The Oswego Renaissance Asociation will match expenses, dollar-for-dollar, up to the first $1,000 for exterior improvements to homes and properties in targeted neighborhoods in the city.

The deadline for submitting pre-applications in April 21; with final applications due May 15.

Applications and details are available at the ORA website at

“A large number of residents in neighborhoods throughout Oswego are very excited about this opportunity,” said association Director Paul Stewart.

“Many residents and neighbors are passionate about the revitalization of their neighborhoods, and when multiple neighbors work and invest together, they often have confidence to invest more than the matching amounts — both financially and socially,” he said.

“The ORA is growing partnerships with these residents in a multi-year strategy to restore beauty, vibrancy and community to Oswego neighborhoods.,” Stewart said.

Tanya Miller, a homeowner on West Fourth Street, has been organizing her neighbors to apply.

“Our area of West Fourth and Schuyler has had an overwhelmingly positive response to the program, with planned projects ranging from new fencing to garden plantings to new siding,” Miller said.

“I myself am planning to have my house painted in a Victorian era color palette and could not be more excited,” she said. “The most rewarding aspect of the program so far, however, has been the opportunity I have had to get to know so many more of my wonderful neighbors.”

Another Oswegonian, Casey Towne, of East Utica Street, also plans to apply.

“I am so excited to see this plan come to fruition. The response on my block has been great, with over half the households participating in the application,” Towne said.

“Summer plans for our block include repair and replacement of fences, paint, windows, landscaping, porches and a roof. More important than the physical improvements are the social strengths that we are building upon. We are bringing back block parties, establishing a block directory and planning group yard sales and clean ups,” Towne said.

Four areas in the city, each 15-25 blocks in size, have been targeted for the program. Houses located in or very close (within a block) to the target zones may apply.

Applications are awarded to clusters of houses. Each cluster must include a minimum of 5 households on or near the same street, and fill out a Pre-Application Form.

Applications require coordination among neighboring households, so the block cluster works as a team to improve their homes and neighborhoods. The Oswego Renaissance Association expects to grant awards to 10-15 clusters this year.

Renaissance Block Challenge grants will cover half of the homeowner’s investment (minus sales tax). If the application is funded, a homeowner who invests $1,000 on a project would be reimbursed half or $500; likewise a homeowner who invests $2,000, or more, into a project would be reimbursed half, or $1000.00.

A homeowner who invests more than $2,000 total on a project would be reimbursed the maximum $1,000.

Before and after pictures of the completed work, along with copies of all receipts related to expenses of each project must be submitted once the work is completed. All work for the 2014 Block Challenge Grants must be completed by Oct. 31, 2014.

Once the work is completed, property owners will receive a matching reimbursement check in approximately 4 weeks.

“My neighbors and I are really excited,” said Rob Way, of East Seventh Street. “It’s great motivation. Some of my neighbors are looking to replace their porches, others just to touch up the trim around their houses. Either way, it’s a terrific way for us all to invest together in our block.”

Last year, the ORA, participated in revitalization projects at Franklin Square Playground, Montcalm Park, as well as the Bridge Street Tree Canopy Project.

For more information visit the ORA website at


Porky and Buddy discuss FIV positive cat

Dear Porky and Buddy,

Yikes! I took in a stray cat last winter.

He had been hanging around my back porch looking pathetic and it got to one of those 10 below nights and you know how that goes.

The next thing I knew he was in my bed with me. He was thin but seemed to be in pretty good shape and he had already been neutered so one thing led to another and I only just now got around to getting him to my vet to check him out, get him his shots etc.

So, now that I have gotten very fond of Mr. Slim, I found out that he is FIV positive! My vet said that he seemed to be in good health at this point and I don’t have other cats right now so not to worry too much, but I feel like such an idiot.

What should I do?


Dear Carol,

Let’s get this straight. Out of the goodness of your heart you took in a stray cat who would probably be dead by now if it wasn’t for your kindness, and yes, you really should have taken him to the vet sooner (but one thing led to another) and, let’s face it, if you had taken him in sooner you would still have an FIV positive cat who has stolen your heart.

Why do you feel like an idiot and not a saint???

Here are the simple facts straight from our friends at the ASPCA.

FIV stands for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, a disease that weakens a cat’s immune system. Cats with FIV can live full, long, happy lives with proper care.  Humans, dogs and other animals cannot contract FIV. Other cats can contract FIV—and that’s why you should adopt an FIV-positive cat only if you have no other cats or you have only FIV-positive cats.

So what should you do?  You need to be vigilant about any illnesses that Slim Jim might develop. Because his immune system may be weaker now or may become weaker over time, early intervention for infections is critical.

Many FIV cats have dental problems so you need to watch for that.  And of course you need to keep him inside. You should be careful to feed him a high quality cat food.

Feel free to ask your vet for recommendations and for more practical advice about caring for your new best friend.  And then go buy more cat toys to enjoy his company even more.

Speaking of saints . . . you could be one too by adopting Shadow, a gorgeous FIV positive cat up for adoption on the Oswego County Humane Society website.

The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County.

Our office is located at 265 W. First St., Oswego. Phone is 207-1070. Email is Website is

State Senate Report

By state Sen. Patricia Ritchie

Snow and cold aside, March is a “sweet” month.

That’s because of “Maple Weekend,” an annual celebration held to promote New York’s maple industry. With 2.2 million taps, our state is the nation’s second largest maple producer (after Vermont) with plenty of room for growth.

During this year’s Maple Weekend, I had the chance to visit with our region’s newest young farmer, Josh Parker.

A 16 year-old, Josh has set up his own maple sugar operation in St. Lawrence County.  The operation uses wood pellets to power an evaporator — a first for the maple industry in New York state.

Meeting with Josh during Maple Weekend gave me the opportunity to talk with him about my Young Farmers NY plan, an initiative to support and encourage careers in agriculture.

Included in the new state budget is $1 million to support key elements of this plan, including my proposal for new farmer innovation grants — now called the “NY Beginning Farmer Fund” — of up to $50,000 each to help start or expand an agriculture business.

In addition, the budget also includes $100,000 for student loan forgiveness for agriculture college graduates who commit to farming careers, increased funding for the in-school, agriculture leadership–focused FFA program, and reforms the Estate Tax, to make it easier for families to pass on their farm business to the next generation.

In addition to funding for my Young Farmers NY plan, the budget also includes record funding — the highest rates in six years — for critical agriculture marketing, education and research programs.

This record amount includes funding for the Apple Growers Association, Farm Viability Institute, the NY Wine and Grape Foundation, wildlife rabies prevention, the NY Maple Producers Association and much more.

You can find complete details of the agriculture portion of the State Budget — as well as the other details of the spending plan — on my website,

Throughout my years as your senator, I have worked to restore cuts to agriculture funding and secure new funding to help our state’s largest industry continue to grow.

I’m confident the investments contained in the new State Budget will encourage more young people to consider careers in farming and strengthen family farms across the state.