Category Archives: Featured Stories

State Senate Report, by state Sen. Patricia Ritchie

The New Year is a time for resolutions, and according to recent statistics roughly 45 percent of Americans usually make them.

However, of those who make resolutions, only 8 percent actually stick to them.

Not surprisingly, topping the list of resolutions year after year, are those related to our health.

Whether it’s losing weight, staying fit or quitting smoking, there are countless people looking to make healthy changes when we turn the calendar page to the next year.

Here are tips that can help you improve your health and achieve your goals in the New Year:

1) Cut the salt: Too much sodium can increase your blood pressure as well as your risk for a heart attack and stroke.

One of the most important steps you can take to become healthier is reducing the amount of salt you use on your food.

2) Convenience is key: It’s critical to get enough fruit and vegetables each day, and the key to that is making sure you have these foods accessible.

For example, keep a bowl of fresh fruit on your kitchen counter, place a box of raisins in your child’s backpack and in your briefcase or add fruit to your cereal or oatmeal.

3) Eat right while out and about: It’s easy to overeat and consume too many calories when eating at a restaurant.  It’s a good idea to skip the sides, try healthy options like grilled chicken and skip sodas, which are loaded with sugar and calories.

4) Choose fresh: Here in our region, we are fortunate to have so many options for healthy eating.

For fresh foods, vegetables and meats, try shopping at a local farmers’ market or farm stand. Not only will you be eating healthy, you’ll be supporting the local economy too.

5) Get moving: The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends 30 minutes of physical activity per day for adults and 60 minutes per day for children at least five days a week.

For those who aren’t active, it may sound daunting. However, it’s a lot easier than you think — take the stairs, hit the gym, go for a walk — it all adds up.

6) Kick the habit: Each and every day, 4,000 U.S. children under the age of 18 smoke their first cigarette, and 1,200 people die from smoking-related illness — an average of 50 an hour.

Smoking can be deadly, and we need to do more to help those who want to quit. That’s why I joined a bipartisan group of 16 senators in calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to increase funding for smoking cessation and youth tobacco prevention programs in next year’s state budget.

If you need help quitting, I encourage you to contact the New York State Smoker’s Quit Line at (866) NY-QUITS.

The great thing about the New Year is that it offers us an opportunity to make a change and start fresh.

Whatever your resolution may be, I wish you the best of luck as you work to stick to it and make a difference in your own life. Happy New Year!

Oswego County jobless rate up in November

By Debra J. Groom

Oswego County’s unemployment rate was up in November and still is the highest in Central New York.

But for the first time in many months, Oswego County is not one of the top five highest rates in the state.

The jobless rate for November was 8.3 percent, up from 8 percent in October. But it is a vast improvement on the rate from November 2012 of 9.5 percent.

The only county in the area with a higher rate is neighboring Jefferson County, with a November unemployment rate of 9 percent. Jefferson County is the only county north of the Bronx with a rate of 9 percent or higher.

New York counties with the lowest unemployment rates are Tompkins, 4.4 percent; Putnam, 5 percent; Nassau, 5.1 percent; Saratoga, 5.2 percent; and Rockland, 5.3 percent. Counties with the highest unemployment rates are Bronx, 11.2 percent; Jefferson, 9 percent; Kings, 8.7 percent; Hamilton, 8.5 percent; and Orleans, 8.5 percent.

Christian Harris of the state Labor Department’s office in Binghamton said on average, there are about 400 more people entering the jobless market about this time in Oswego County. But in November, only 200 more were unemployed.

He believes the increase in the unemployment rate is due to construction jobs and other seasonal positions coming to an end and these people beginning to look for work.

He said often, the rates about this time of year bounce up and down for a few months.

“If there is a discouraged workforce, they will be jumping in and out of the job hunt,” he said. “We often see this slow growth cycle near the holidays.”

The United States unemployment rate was 6.6 percent in November, down from 7 percent in October and down from 7.4 percent a year ago.

The New York state rate was 6.9 percent in November, down from 7.5 percent in October and down from 7.9 percent in November 2012.

Parents of Special Children host ‘Breakfast with Santa’

Parents of Special Children, Inc. recently held its seventh annual Breakfast with Santa for individuals with special needs and their family members.

The 2-hour event was sponsored by the Fulton Elks #830 Lodge and featured a gourmet breakfast, arts and crafts and a visit from Santa, who had gifts for all.

Typically, the holiday season can become extremely stressful for everyone, especially those living with special needs.

The amazing members of the Elks Lodge helped create a relaxing and enjoyable time for all who attended.

“For many reasons, it is difficult for our families to visit Santa at the mall or in a store. Standing patiently in a long line, trying to keep our hands to ourselves and being in a confined space, is hard for many of our family members,” said Parents of Special Children Executive Director Theresa Familo. “Shrieking with excitement can be viewed by others as being impatient or rude, when in reality we just can’t control our emotions.

“Sometimes we need to jump or flap our hands and we often end up bumping into others. At this special event, our families are all accepted for who they are and their own uniqueness,” she said.

“The staff, board members and families of Parents of Special Children, Inc. would like to sincerely thank all those who helped make this such a memorable event. Without them, this would not have been possible. Your kindness and generosity remind us all of the true meaning of Christmas,” she said.

Parents of Special Children, Inc. is a parent-driven organization, dedicated to family empowerment and improving the quality of the everyday lives of special needs families.

For more information, call Familo at  598-7672.

Hodgepodge, by Roy Hodge

Christmas in the White House

In 1834, President Andrew Jackson held a “frolic” for children of his household.

The party included games, dancing, a grand dinner and an indoor “snowball fight” with specially made cotton balls.

There’s an 1880 reference to President John Tyler hosting a children’s party in the 1840s at which there was a Christmas tree with gifts.

The first White House Christmas tree, decorated with candles and toys, was placed in the second floor oval room in 1889 for President Benjamin Harrison and his family.

In 1895, the Grover Cleveland family strung electric lights on their Christmas tree.

President and Mrs. Theodore Roose-  velt, an avid conservationist, did not approve of cutting trees for decoration.  However, his son Archie smuggled in a small tree that was decorated and hidden in a closet.

President Teddy Roosevelt and his family would pile into the family sleigh (later the family car) and travel to a Christmas service at Christ Church in Oyster Bay, N.Y. Following the sermon Teddy would deliver one of his “sermonettes” on the meaning of Christmas.

Official Tree in Blue Room

The official White House Christmas tree is decked out annually in the White House Blue Room. The first tree in that room was decorated by President William Taft’s (1909-1913) children.

President Calvin Coolidge was the first president to preside over a public celebration of the Christmas holidays with the lighting of the National Christmas tree, in 1923.

First Lady Lou Henry Hoover established the tradition of presidential wives decorating an official tree in the White House in 1929.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt would set up and decorate a tree on Christmas Eve, gather the family together, and either read Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”, or recite it from memory.

In 1953, the first White House Christmas card was created by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, an artist in his own right.

A 50-year tradition

Having the First Lady choose a theme for the White House Christmas tree is a 50-year tradition established in 1961 when Jacqueline Kennedy decorated the Blue Room Christmas tree with gingerbread men, snowflakes and small toys from her favorite holiday ballet, “The Nutcracker.”

In 1977, First Lady Rosalynn Carter’s tree featured ornaments made from pine cones, peanuts and eggshells.  In 1980 she highlighted a Victorian theme.

Nancy Reagan, in 1988, hung ornaments from previous Blue Room trees, including hand blown glass ornaments from the Eisenhower White House and flower-themed ornaments from Pat Nixon.

First Lady Betty Ford’s tree was decorated with homemade ornaments.

Over her eight White House holiday seasons, First Lady Hillary Clinton displayed talents of America’s artistic communities.

First Lady Laura Bush included the theme of “All Creatures Grand and Small” in 2002 and a patriotic “Red, White and Blue Christmas” in 2008.

This year, Michele Obama’s tree is filled with photos of military families and their homecomings. She also had kids living on military bases create cards shaped like their home states.

Traditionally, the tree in the Blue Room is the official White House Christmas tree, but generally there is more than one Christmas tree in and around the White House.

For instance, in 1977 there were 36. In 2008 there were 27.

Just so you’ll know

Clement Moore wrote his famous “A visit from St. Nick,” which is better known as “The Night Before Christmas,” in 1824.  There is some thought that the true author of this poem is Major Henry Livingston, Jr.

Gift giving became a tradition in 1857, and in 1897 Francis Church wrote his famous “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” in The New York Times.

The song, “White Christmas” was written by Irving Berlin and sung by Bing Crosby in 1942.

The first Christmas postage stamp was issued in Canada in 1898. The first Christmas stamp issued in The United States was the four-cent “Wreath and Candles” stamp in 1962.

Happy New Year!

A new year has started, time for a new routine.

Just look at the calendar, it’s two thousand fourteen.

When the new year comes, it’s nice to make changes.

Maybe try to be more patient, nicer to strangers.

Say you’ll be nicer, eat less and exercise more,

Resolutions we have all heard before.

As the old year ends, look back with gratitude,

Enter the new year with a positive attitude.

Good luck and much happiness – you know what I mean.

And remember — when writing checks, it’s 2014.

 

. . . Roy Hodge

Scarf painting class Jan. 25 in Oswego

A class in hand-painted silk scarves is being offered from 9 a.m. to noon,m Jan. 25 at Lakeside Artisans, 191 W. First St., Oswego.

The instructor, Michele Southgate, will offer a class in painting silk scarves using a technique called Batik.

Batik is an Indonesian method of producing colored designs on fabric by applying wax to the parts to be left uncolored. The method produces bright colors with repetitive patterns over the entire scarf.

To register for the class, or for more information, call 342-8880 or email lakesideartisans@gmail.com

You also can like us on Facebook.

The class is limited to four participants and there is a non-refundable deposit of $10 per participant to register.

Hannibal plan committee looks to the future

Submitted by Oswego County BOCES

The Hannibal Central School District Strategic Plan Committee, comprised of community members, business owners, parents, students and faculty, continues to make strides to create a plan for the district’s future.

Led by outside education expert Penny Ciaburri and Hannibal school administrators, the committee has met three times since October to talk about goals, concerns and ideas to make the Hannibal school system a “destination district” for those seeking a premiere learning environment.

The ideas are recorded and discussed as potential components of the district’s five-year plan.

“It’s a very thoughtful and reflective process that will help put in place a blueprint so that five years from now we’re telling the Hannibal story,” Ciaburri said.

While the initial meeting in October served as an introductory gathering at which committee members met one another and began outlining the foundation for their work, the Nov. 7 meeting provided more in-depth conversation with administrators.

Kenney Middle Principal Dee Froio, Fairley Elementary Principal Jody Musa and the district’s internal facilitator Tammy Farrell reported on efforts currently underway to help transform Hannibal schools.

Administrators said teachers are engaging in job-embedded and traditional methods of professional development aimed at developing a curriculum that meets Common Core Learning Standards.

“(These efforts will) foster growth in research-based best practices aligned to Common Core shifts in English and mathematics,” a district official said.

Such efforts include teachers working with Cheryl Dobbertin, author of “Common Core Unit by Unit;” consulting with literacy specialist Auddie Mastroleo to implement the third- through eighth-grade English modules; collaborating with a data expert and receiving training on the use of data to drive instruction; attending literacy and math networks at Oswego County BOCES; and building leadership teams to help create school comprehensive improvement plans.

In addition to the administrators’ report, Superintendent Donna Fountain brought the committee up to speed on the board of education’s efforts to strengthen the district.

Fountain said board members attended an outside retreat to assess the current condition of the district and develop goals to lead the transformation efforts.

Committee members also evaluated data collected from a student survey and worked in groups to identify strengths, concerns and surprises indicated by the survey responses.

While the core team continues to develop a mission, vision and beliefs for the district’s future, three separate task forces are also meeting to solidify a five-year blueprint by focusing on student engagement, family/community engagement and academic achievement. The task forces are comprised of core team committee members and additional members of the community.

The next core team meeting will be held from 4-6:15 p.m. Jan. 9 in the Hannibal Central School District boardroom.

The following week, from 4-6:15 p.m. Jan. 16, the core team and the three task forces will meet. The core team will present a final plan to the school board April 9.

For more information on the process or to become involved, contact Farrell at tfarrell@hannibalcsd.org or by phone at 564-7900, ext. 3004.

Lions Club “Roar With Laughter” fundraiser is Jan. 31

The Oswego Lions Club presents “Roar with Laughter” with headliner Moody McCarthy Friday, Jan. 31 at the American Foundry, 246 W. Seneca St., Oswego.

Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show begins at 8.

“We continue a Lions Club tradition once again this year with a great night of laughs,” said Mike Henderson, Oswego Lions Club president. “This event has always been a popular fundraiser and we anticipate that this will be another great one.”

The event is a major fundraiser for the local service organization. This fundraiser helps to support ongoing programs and services throughout the Oswego community for the visually and hearing impaired.

Proceeds from past fundraising events have helped to support Camp Rainbow of Hope, Make a Wish Foundation, Oswego Salvation Army, the ER’s Children Fund at Oswego Hospital, Oswego Library Capital Campaign, The Children’s Hospital in Syracuse and Habitat for Humanity.

“The performances of McCarthy and his warm up comedian promise to bring the crowd a good hour of laughs,” said Chris Pelton, chair of the event.

Tickets will be available at the door the night of the event, or can be purchased prior to the show at Cakes Galore and More for $12.

Anyone interested in purchasing tickets or looking for more information about the show can contact Pelton at 343-1394, or visit the Lions Club Facebook page at www.facebook.com/oswegolionsclub.

CNY Arts Snow Day set for Jan. 18

CNY Arts Center’s third annual Snow Day is 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 18.

This year the fun will take place downtown at the Community Room in City Hall and across the street at Veteran’s Park.

Family fun will include a snow sculpture contest, snow painting and snow themed games, a children’s carnival, art projects, entertainment and food. CNY Arts Center hopes to revive winter fun and create a new tradition for the community.

Organizers of the children’s carnival are gearing up for a day of fun with a snowman bean bag toss, face painting, ice fishing,  snowmen ring toss and more.

Children can build a marshmallow snowman, make beaded snowflakes, step into a snowman backdrop and have their picture taken, design their own snowflake and more in a day that promises to be as much fun indoors as outdoors.

Hearty snow lovers can register at the park for the Snow Sculpture contest by 11 a.m. and create any snow sculpture, creature or snowman. Some accessories will be available, or bring your own.

Creations will be judged at 1 p.m.

Food such a hot dogs, nachos and cheese, soup, chili, popcorn, cotton candy, doughnuts and plenty of hot chocolate will be offered. Carnival tickets are available at the door for a nominal fee and special coupons are available at the gallery for free game tickets.

The event goes on snow or no snow. For more information, visit www.cnyartscenter.com or call 592-3373 for details.