All posts by Debbie Groom

Faculty, staff unions at CCC form new group

Faculty and staff at Cayuga Community College have united to form a new organization called United Cayuga Professionals.

Group officials say this organization was formed to facilitate transparency and clear communications within the college, while working on positive initiatives to bolster the work and learning environment for all at the Auburn and Fulton campuses.

United Cayuga Professionals combines members from the four unions which represent workers at the college, including the Faculty Association, the Administrative Professionals Group, the Educational Support Professionals, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 932-C .

Organizers say the need for the group grew out of the frustrations experienced after the college struggled with a budget deficit last spring, which led to the College’s Board of Trustees declaring a state of financial exigency, staff reductions, and the resignation of the CCC president.

They say the primary mission of United Cayuga Professionals is to promote a unified voice representing all workers to the college’s administration, Board of Trustees and the community.

“Our intention is to get all the employees of the college working together as a larger unit to make a better place for our students and for our employees,” said Doug Brill, one of the founding members of United Cayuga Professionals and a member of the Administrative Professionals Group.

“Our first full group meeting was a way for many workers to begin healing,” said United Cayuga Professionals founding member Professor Dia Carabajal.

“We suddenly found ourselves in a crisis, no one knew who to be upset with, so we’re hoping this group will help us build relationships that would stand if we face a crisis again,” Carabajal said.

“As a member of the Educational Support Professionals group and the United Cayuga Professionals committee, I would like to see the members of the four unions work together to become more of a solid unified workforce here at the college,” said Patricia Hamberger, senior typist.

“Morale issues are also on the forefront of everyone’s mind as well.  I have always been proud to be an employee here and would like to feel that way again,” she said.

“I think the four unions working together only makes sense and will be beneficial for the college,” said Henry D’Amato, mechanic and a founding member representing the Mechanics and Custodial Unit.

Already the group has experienced success.

Founding member E. Bruce Walter says CCC’s Board of Trustees has agreed to have a representative from each union participate on the search committee for a new college president.

They also hosted a guest speaker in December. Robert Freeman, executive director of the New York Department of State’s Committee on Open Government, gave a presentation to the group on open meeting laws and the Freedom of Information Act.

“We’re committed to learning together so we can help facilitate open and clear communication among all of the College’s constituents and the College’s Board of Trustees,” said Carabajal.

Nine Mile 2 down again

Nine Mile Point Unit 2 automatically shut down at about 4:30 p.m. Monday when a worker inadvertently contacted a highly sensitive plant component. All safety systems responded as designed and the plant went offline as expected, safely and without incident.

This issue is unrelated to last week’s shutdown, which was caused by an electrical equipment failure.

Nine Mile Point’s reactor protection system uses highly sensitive equipment to monitor a host of plant conditions and components, constantly looking for signs of a potential issue. When an anomaly is identified, the system is designed to automatically shut down the reactor. 

Station operators informed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and state officials of the issue. The temporary shutdown does not present a risk to public health and safety and is not expected to impact electrical service to homes and businesses in the region. 

Nine Mile Point 1 and 2 are owned and run by Constellation Energy Nuclear Group.

Nine Mile 2 back on line

Constellation Energy Nuclear Group’s Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station Unit 2 is back online and achieved 100 percent yesterday afternoon.

Station personnel completed necessary repairs and post-maintenance testing in order to return the unit to service.

The plant had been safely shutdown on Tuesday due to an on-site electrical component failure on the non-nuclear side of the plant.

OPINION: It’s Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

By Debra J. Groom

I was reading through some things on my desk and came across a notice that March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

I thought I would toss in my few cents on this subject in hopes of getting a bunch of Oswego County residents off their keisters to get their colons checked out.

The best screening available for colon cancer is the colonoscopy. Yeah, I know, the dreaded colonoscopy. There may be a few of you reading this saying to yourself “Hey, no one is going to put a scope up, well, you know where.”

But listen. It really isn’t that bad. And if it can save you from dying from colon cancer, I’d say, go for it.

I have had five colonoscopies. Colon cancer and colon problems run in my family. Both of my grandfathers had colon cancer. One died from it (back in 1944, before there were the tests and treatments we have today). The other was cured, but he lived with a colostomy for the rest of his life.

My mother had problems with benign colon polyps and my sister has had colon difficulties too. So you can bet your bottom I don’t miss a colonoscopy.

The Centers for Disease Control says colon cancer is the third most common cancer in men and women in the United States. It also is the second-leading cause of death from cancer for men and women combined in the United States.

In 2010 (the most recent year numbers are available), 131,607 people in the United States were diagnosed with colorectal cancer, including 67,700 men and 63,907 women.

A total of 52,045 people in the United States died from colorectal cancer, including 27,073 men and 24,972 women.

But here is the most important statement from CDC:

“Screening can find precancerous polyps — abnormal growths in the colon or rectum — so that they can be removed before turning into cancer. Screening also helps find colorectal cancer at an early stage, when treatment often leads to a cure. About nine out of every 10 people whose colorectal cancers are found early and treated appropriately are still alive five years later.”

Are you convinced yet?

Well, while the colonoscopy sounds yucky, it really isn’t that bad.

You spend the day before on a liquid diet, which leads to ravenous hunger. But hey, it’s only one day.

You drink some bad-tasting stuff the night before the procedure that makes you spend much of the next few hours on the porcelain throne. But you have to clean out that colon so the doctor can get some clean, pretty pictures.

That part — called the prep — is actually the worst part. And think about it, isn’t it worth it to go through a few hours of discomfort to live to a ripe old age with your colon in tact?

The test itself, I have found, is a breeze. I have always been totally knocked out by the anesthesia — I’ve never felt a thing. After, you lay in the recovery room for a bit, talk to your doctor to see what they found and then off you go. Most people can eat a regular meal not too long after the test is over.

Even with my extensive family history, I have this done only once every five years.

Of course, people should always mention any symptoms they have to their doctors immediately. The CDC lists the symptoms as blood in or on your stool (bowel movement, stomach pain, aches, cramps that don’t go away and losing weight when you don’t know why.

So if you have any symptoms or you’re over 50 and just want to be checked out, celebrate this month by see a gastroenterologist and having a colonoscopy.

I think that’s a small price to pay for life.

Fulton man charged with making meth

A 37-year-old Fulton man was arrested by Oswego police March 4 for a felony count of manufacturing methamphetamine in the third degree.

Ronald E. Recore, of 107 Highland St., Fulton, also was charged with a misdemeanor county of petit larceny for allegedly stealing a Rite Aid brand instant cold compress from the MidTown Plaza earlier in the day.

Oswego police said instant cold compresses contain ammonium nitrate, an ingredient used in the “one pot” method of making methamphetamine.

Recore was arrested after a car he was in was stopped by Oswego Police on East Ninth Street. As a safety precaution, East Ninth Street between East Bridge Street and East Cayuga Street was closed off to all traffic while Oswego City Fire Department stood by on scene.

Recore was being held in jail pending his arraignment. The investigation is continuing and further arrests are likely.

As always, Oswego City Police are asking anyone with information regarding this or any other illegal drug activity to contact them at 342-2283. Individuals wishing to remain anonymous may also contact the Oswego City Police Departments tip-line at 342-8131, or email crimewatch@oswegony.org

Lake Ontario water levels lower for 2014

By Debra J. Groom

Early estimates show water levels in Lake Ontario may be a bit lower in 2014 through June than they were in 2013.

A briefing on Great Lakes water levels given this week by the Army Corps of Engineers stated levels for February are 4 inches above last year for the month and near the long-term average for February.

But, long-range forecasts show through May, the lake’s level should be about 2 inches below last year and 2 inches to 4 inches below the long-range average through May.

The level is forecast at 3 inches below average in June and 5 inches to 7 inches below the long-range average in June.

So what does this mean?

Well, right now, no one knows for sure.

Cathy Goodnough is president of the Sandy Pond Channel Maintenance Association, which is charged with keeping an eye on water levels in the Sandy Pond area and ensuring the channel between the pond and the lake is open for boaters.

She said the area still has to see what the ice melt and snow runoff from the areas east of the lake do to the water levels. She said there was so much ice in January the Sandy Pond area flooded.

“We have 24 inches of ice here right now and we got a lot of snow,” she said Thursday.

One positive is the ice buildup at the Sandy Pond area. Goodnough said the channel between Sandy Pond and the lake close dup in January and the ice formation sucked a lot of water and sand out of the channel.

Last summer lake water levels fluctuated from being a little above average to a little below average, with Goodnough characterizing it as not a disaster, but not perfect either.

Residents of the lake shoreline have seen some bad times in previous years, with water levels so low they couldn’t get watr lines in or use their boats.

The International Joint Commission, consisting of U.S. and Canadian officials, regulate Lake Ontario water levels throughout the summer.

The cold and snow of this winter has caused near record conditions on the Great Lakes.

As of March 4, 91 percent of the Great Lakes’ surface was iced over. The lake with the most open water is Lake Ontario, which is ony 43 percent covered by ice.

The Army Corps of Engineers said the only year with more Great Lakes ice was 1979, when they were 94.7 percent ice covered.

Officials said extensive ice cover cuts down on lake water evaporation, so Lake Ontario is open to more water evaporation than the other lakes.

County officials work on college chargeback numbers

By Debra J. Groom

Oswego County and Cayuga County officials are working together to try to come up with a solution to funding inadequacies for Cayuga Community College.

Last year, during 2014 county budget deliberations, county officials found out their chargeback for Cayuga Community College was increasing 85 percent. Oswego County’s budgeted chargeback for all community colleges increased from about $4 million in 2013 to $5.4 million in 2014.

A chargeback is the amount the county pays to each community college attended by Oswego County residents. The colleges use the money for their basic operations.

“The chargeback is an unfunded State mandate charged to taxpayers on their property tax bills,” said Oswego County Administrator Philip Church.

In 2013, Oswego County paid $2.8 million to CCC, about $1 million to Onondaga Community College and $221,000 to Jefferson Community College. The county also pays for one student who attends the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.

A large majority of the county’s community college attendees go the CCC, either at its main campus in Auburn or at the campus in Fulton. The large increase from 2013 to 2014 was due to CCC officials overestimating how many students they would have in 2013, which made Oswego County’s chargeback smaller.

So the chargeback increased for 2014 to make up for what should have been paid in 2013.

County Legislator Terry Wilbur, R-Hannibal, legislature majority leader and chair of the legislature’s finance and personnel committee, said Oswego County’s biggest concern with the chargebacks is the county has no say in the running or operations of CCC, yet it still has to pay a huge sum of money to the college each year.

“It isn’t a level playing field,” Wilbur said. “It is taxation without representation.”

As it stands now, no one from Oswego County is on the CCC board of trustees. “If we have to pay, we should have a say,” Wilbur said. “How do we solve that situation?”

Wilbur said CCC officials, including interim President Gregory T. DeCinque, have listened to the concerns of Oswego County officials. Any change in the makeup of the CCC board would have to be approved by the State University of New York board.

To date, CCC has agreed to set up an Oswego County Advisory Board, Church said. There will be no voting power concerning actions at CCC, but the board members, including Church and Wilbur, will be able to make issues and concerns known to CCC officials.

The other way Oswego County would have more of a say in the issue would be to create a regional community college.

Wilbur said DeCinque has a strong background in creating regional colleges as he led Jamestown Community College through regionalization at his last job.

Regionalization would create a college that serves an entire region and isn’t aligned to just one county, such as Fulton-Montgomery Community College, Finger Lakes Community College, Adirondack Community College, Tompkins-Cortland Community College or Hudson Valley Community College.

Church said regionalization “has been looked at on and off” for a few years, but nothing solid has taken shape.

The chargebacks paid by counties are computed with a complex formula based on the number of students in the county attending a particular community college. That amount goes toward the college’s operating costs.

There also is a portion of the chargeback that goes toward capital charges and is restricted by law for use only on capital debt, construction or capital project repairs.

Applications being accepted for Camp Hollis Counselor-in-Training positions

Submitted by Oswego County

Applications are now being accepted for Counselor-in-Training positions at Camp Hollis.

Youth aged 15 or 16 years old may apply to be accepted into this training program. Camp Hollis will accept up to four 15-year-old participants and up to four 16-year-old participants.

Those who are 15 years old participate in the program June 22 through July 18 on a voluntary basis. Those 16 years old participate in the program from June 22 to Aug. 15 and receive a stipend.

Residency for both age groups is required from Sunday afternoon through Friday evening each week, with weekends off during the summer.

Camp Hollis is a children’s residential camp located in the town of Oswego on the shore of Lake Ontario with a strong focus on outdoor recreation and nature.  Children ages 8 to 14 attend camp for one week and participate in a variety of summer camp activities.

“The 15-year-old counselors-in-training shadow rotating counselors during the day to see what it is like and what it takes to work at a summer residential camp,” said Brandon Morey, coordinator of youth development and recreation for the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau.

“The 16-year-old counselors-in-training either shadow rotating counselors during the day and take a more involved role of the supervision and programming aspect of a residential camp, or work in the kitchen to help prepare meals for the campers while performing cleaning duties required to maintain camp standards.”

Camp Hollis is owned by Oswego County and operated by the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau as a residential camp. The facility is also available to rent from the beginning of May through October for use by families, clubs, school groups and other organizations.

Camp Hollis is located at 40 Health Camp Road, off Lakeshore Road in the town of Oswego.

Those seeking more information may call the Youth Bureau at 315-349-3451 or (800) 596-3200, ext.3451 or contact Morey at 349-3241 or by email at bmorey@oswegocounty.com.