All posts by Debbie Groom

People still remember disappearance of Heidi Allen after 20 years

3-26_HEIDIflyer

By Debra J. Groom

April 3, 1994.

It’s Easter Sunday. People in Oswego County are getting ready to celebrate this holiest of days on the Christian calendar.

It’s about 7:30 a.m. In New Haven, Town Justice Russell Sturtz is getting ready for church. Ditto Historian Marie Strong.

Over in Oswego, Undersheriff Reuel Todd is helping his wife with preparations for a family holiday feast later in the day.

Everything changes about 20 minutes later.

“I got a phone call about 7:50,” said Todd, who now is Oswego County sheriff. “They said one of our deputies was flagged down out in New Haven because the door to the D&W Convenience Store was unlocked but there was no one at the store.”

Sturtz got a similar call from his sister-in-law, who was Heidi’s mother. “She said Heidi wasn’t at the store,” he said.

Heidi Allen, then 18, was working at the D&W Convenience Store at the intersection of Route 104 and 104B that Easter morning. Some time after 7:30 a.m., she disappeared.

She has not been found in all these 20 years.

Heidi and her disappearance still affects people throughout New Haven and other parts of Oswego County to this day. Many will gather April 3 at the New Haven Fire Department to remember Heidi, share stories and light candles.

In those 20 years, two trials were held. Brothers Richard and Gary Thibodeau were arrested and charged with kidnapping Heidi. Separate trials were held – Richard was found not guilty, Gary was found guilty.

Gary, now 60, is serving 25 years to life in the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, Clinton County. His scheduled release date is May 19, 2020, according to state prison records.

While many cases this old may be set aside, especially after someone has been found guilty and sent to prison, that isn’t the case here.

Todd said the Heidi Allen case is still very active. The case is discussed once a month and rookies and trainees even get in on the action by checking all the information from the case to see what has been done.

And the Oswego County Sheriff’s Office still has a Heidi Allen page on its website.

“It is discussed here probably more than any case we’ve ever had,” Todd said. “We continually follow up leads as to where she is. If we get a teletype for remains that have been found, we follow it up. Our main interest is the family. If we could recover her, it would put an end to it for the family,”

Heidi’s older sister Lisa Buske, of New Haven, has written four books about the feelings one has when a loved one vanishes without a trace. She has met other people from all over who also have missing family members. She speaks to many groups across the country about her journey.

She said “it is more common than you think” that someone can remain missing for 20 years. She has met people with family members missing for 30-plus years.
The use of DNA to make matches with discovered remains has helped solve many cases.

“There are a lot of cold cases out there,” she said.

Todd talked of the searches held from the moment Heidi was discovered missing.

“I gathered up the things we would need, pens, county maps, yellow pads, and headed to New Haven,” he said. “Our initial thought was ‘oh, she ran home for something and forgot to lock the (store) door.’ Or ‘we’re going to get a call — she’s going to call and say ‘I’ll be back shortly.’”

But those calls never came. Todd and scores of others spent much of the next two weeks at the New Haven fire hall, putting together search parties, tracking down leads, talking to witnesses.

Strong, the historian, heard about the case when Sturtz showed up at her house to get her son to help with the search. She also worked at the fire hall registering people who were helping out.

“This just seemed impossible,” she said. “It didn’t seem like this could happen around here – it’s a small town, a quiet town.”

Many members of the public showed up to help search. Todd said searches actually were made easier by the heavy wet snow that fell that Easter morning. If the snow in an area was pristine and untouched, everyone knew Heidi couldn’t be there.

“There were guys all over searching,” said Alan Downing, who was New Haven supervisor at that time. “I volunteered for searches.”

To date, the Heidi search has taken sheriff’s office officials to many different states. Buske said Todd is always sure to let the family know when remains are found that are being checked to see if they could be Heidi.

In fact, the case was publicized in many parts of the country. Downing, who took a trip to the Canadian Rockies a number of years after the kidnapping, said he was traveling back into Washington state from Canada and saw a 3-foot square sign “Have You Seen Heidi?” with her photo as he entered the U.S.

Todd said not finding Heidi is the matter that bothers him the most in his nearly 40-year law enforcement career.

“I would like to think we left no stone unturned,” he said last week. “I’m a parent and I can’t figure out what they’re (Heidi’s parents Ken and Sue) going through. I think because we got so close, it’s more troublesome. When you have something like this you like to see a finality.”

Todd recently announced he is running for another four-year term as sheriff. That will give him another four years to try to find Heidi.

“If I could find her, I would retire a very, very happy man,” he said.

John Spotswood, of Oswego, newest Oswego County lottery winner

John Spotswood of Oswego recently celebrated his 50th birthday with the usual flurry of phone calls and cards from family and friends.

He also got three scratch-off New York Lottery tickets from his sister.

The first one won him $25, he said. The second — zilch.

The third was the charm. It was worth $1 million.

Spotswood, who works as a nuclear power plant technician, is taking the cash option and will net $555, 912. Spotswood said the money will allow him to retire at a decent age, take a trip next year and buy some new shoes. 

If it’s spring, then Rudy’s is open

Rudy’s Lakeside Drive-In opened for the season Wednesday March 19 with a full house of patrons. Cars were parked in both lots and across the front and sides of the building at lunchtime. The stand, famous for its seafood and hot sauce, has spring hours of 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. The eatery uses 200 gallons of ketchup every week  and cooks 2,000 pounds of fish every week — a total of 60,000 pounds of fish a season. Rudy’s rice pudding, macaroni salad, cole slaw and tzatziki are all proprietary recipes prepared fresh daily. And local butcher, Boscos, has supplied beef to Rudy’s for more than 50 years and fresh produce comes daily from Ontario Orchards, which is right down the road. For more info on Rudy’s, go to 222.rudyshot.com
Rudy’s Lakeside Drive-In opened for the season Wednesday March 19 with a full house of patrons. Cars were parked in both lots and across the front and sides of the building at lunchtime. The stand, famous for its seafood and hot sauce, has spring hours of 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. The eatery uses 200 gallons of ketchup every week and cooks 2,000 pounds of fish every week — a total of 60,000 pounds of fish a season. Rudy’s rice pudding, macaroni salad, cole slaw and tzatziki are all proprietary recipes prepared fresh daily. And local butcher, Boscos, has supplied beef to Rudy’s for more than 50 years and fresh produce comes daily from Ontario Orchards, which is right down the road.
For more info on Rudy’s, go to 222.rudyshot.com

Nine Mile 2 out of service for refueling

Operators removed Nine Mile Point Unit 2 from service at about 12:30 a.m. today to begin the station’s planned refueling outage.

During the outage, Constellation Energy Nuclear Group employees and more than 1,200 supplemental workers will perform more than 2,000 maintenance activities, tests and safety inspections on a variety of plant components and systems. Many of the activities performed during the outage cannot be accomplished while the unit is operational and all are designed to ensure the continued safe, efficient and reliable production of electricity.

“The safe, reliable operation of Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station is always our top priority,” said site vice president Chris Costanzo. “We’re also proud to stimulate our community’s economy by bringing to the area so many supplemental workers who will support local businesses.”

In addition to replacing nearly one third of the reactor’s fuel, outage workers will be performing a host of equipment enhancements and modifications while the unit is offline. Nine Mile’s two units are on a 24-month refueling cycle. Efficient completion of this necessary work, combined with longer operating cycles, helps the customer by optimizing nuclear energy’s benefits as a reliable source of emissions-free electricity.

 

Brindsley “Brin” McCann, retired from Sealright

Brindsley “Brin” McCann, 85, died Friday March 21, 2014 in University Hospital, Syracuse.

Mr. McCann was born in Volney, the son of Myron and Gertrude McCann.

Mr. McCann worked for Sealright Co. for 45 years before his retirement.

He served in the United States Army from 1950 until 1952.

He was a member of the Volney seniors and a communicant of Sacred Heart Church.

Mr. McCann was predeceased by his wife Mary F. McCann in 2014, and his siblings Fred, Richard, Maurice, Donald, Worden, Louis McCann and Eileen Mileskey, Dorothy Miller, Eleanor Lachut, and Gertrude Craw.

He is survived by several nieces and nephews.

Spring burial will be in New Haven Cemetery. There are no calling hours. The arrangements are in the care of the Sugar Funeral Home, 224 W. Second St. S., Fulton.

Veteran of the Year to be Fulton’s Memorial Day Parade Grand Marshal

Each fall, the Fulton Veterans’ Council chooses a Veteran of the Year from among the membership of several Fulton veterans’ organizations. This year, Jim Weinhold, center, was named Veteran of the Year and is seen with Fulton Mayor Ron Woodward (right) and Memorial Day Salute Chairman Larry Macner (left). Weinhold will be the Grand Marshal for the Memorial Day Salute Parade May 24. The parade is sponsored by the Fulton Lions, Kiwanis, Rotary and Sunrise Rotary service clubs, in cooperation with the Fulton Veteran’s Council.
Each fall, the Fulton Veterans’ Council chooses a Veteran of the Year from among the membership of several Fulton veterans’ organizations. This year, Jim Weinhold, center, was named Veteran of the Year and is seen with Fulton Mayor Ron Woodward (right) and Memorial Day Salute Chairman Larry Macner (left). Weinhold will be the Grand Marshal for the Memorial Day Salute Parade May 24. The parade is sponsored by the Fulton Lions, Kiwanis, Rotary and Sunrise Rotary service clubs, in cooperation with the Fulton Veteran’s Council.

Jim Weinhold, of Fulton, has been named Veteran of the Year and will be the grand marshal of Fulton’s Memorial Day Salute Parade May 24.

Weinhold, 83, has lived in Fulton for 31 years, coming here from Seneca Knolls outside Baldwinsville.

He is on his fourth year as commander of the Fulton VFW, is past commander of the Fulton American Legion, is a member of the Fulton Veterans’ Council and is captain of the VFW Color Guard, which presides at military funerals in the area.

Weinhold said he served seven years in the Navy and 15 years in the Air National Guard with the 174th “Boys from Syracuse.”

From 1953 to 1954, he served on a Navy ship near the 38th parallel just off Korea as the Korean War was winding down.

He was a radarman and petty officer third class in the Navy.

In the Air Guard, he was in the supply field and retired as a master sergeant.

Weinhold worked for Western Electric for years and after retiring, worked as a custodian for the Fulton school district at G. Ray Bodley High School, Volney Elementary School and the Education Center.

“I am very humbled to be named Veteran of the Year. I’m very appreciative,” he said. “This is not just about me, but about all veterans alive and deceased.”

The first Maple Weekend is this coming weekend

By Debra J. Groom

This coming Saturday and Sunday are the days to get out and visit area maple syrup producers.

It’s the first of two Maple Weekends, in which many producers open their operations so visitors can see how maple syrup is produced. Many also have pancake breakfasts so folks can taste that sweet nectar of the maple tree and have products people can buy.

So far this season, the weather hasn’t been ideal. There were a few days a couple of weeks ago that were warm enough for the sap to run. But then it got cold again.

“We’re scared,” said Kim Enders, who runs Red Schoolhouse Maple in Palermo. “We just boiled for the first time yesterday (Thursday March 13) but we didn’t make any syrup. We haven’t been able to get a string of good days in a row to get sap.”

Maple producers need temperatures during the day in the 40s and lows in the 20s to get a good sap flow. It has just been too darn cold for the sap to flow for a good number of consecutive days.

The temperatures for this week are OK for a four-day stretch in Onondaga County, but cooler in Oswego County, which means it is iffy how much sap will flow this week.

Some producers, like Timothy Whitens who runs Willow Creek Farm of just outside Fulton in the town of Granby, said he did get enough sap to make syrup in late February when there were four days of 40 degree temperatures.

“That first weekend, I made about 75 gallons, mostly medium amber,” Whitens said. “The sap ran again Monday and Tuesday (March 10 and 11) and I was able to make more.”

Feb. 19-23 all had temperatures of 40 or higher during the day and cold nights. But on Feb. 24, it got brutally cold again and shut off the taps.

While the temperatures this year have be too cold, in 2012, it was the opposite problem.

The weather during maple season began fine in January. But by early February, temperatures rose into the 50s. In mid-March, when sap should still be flowing and syrup would normally still be made, temperatures hit near 70.

Cornell University officials said the average temperature for the first 50 days of winter in Central New York is usually 24 degrees. In 2012, it was 32 degrees, the second warmest since 1950.

Anothr problem for maple producers in the Tug Hill area has been the amount of snow. Helen Thomas, executive director of the New York State Maple Producers Association, said with more than 300 inches of snow in some places, producers were having a difficult time getting to their lines and taps.

Enders said she hopes to have enough maple products to sell and offer for tasting during Maple Weekend. Red Schoolhouse Maple is open both days of the weekends, March 22 and 23 and March 29 and 30, and offers pancake breakfast, tours of the sugarbush and boiling area and tastings.

Whitens is open only Sunday, March 23 and March 30, and offers tours.

Maple Weekend hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Go to http://www.nysmaple.com/mapleweekend/ or www.mapleweekend.com for more information.