Category Archives: Featured Stories

AmeriCorps positions available in Oswego County

Submitted by Oswego County

The Oswego City-County Youth Bureau will receive more than $128,000 in state money to support 20 new AmeriCorps positions in the area.

Brian Chetney, interim director of the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau, said the money will support 20 new 900-hour AmeriCorps member positions to provide financial literacy and housing services in Oswego County.

Applications are being accepted for the positions. Applicants should have a bachelor’s degree or be working on a degree along with volunteer or work experience with the public.

Applicants should also possess leadership skills, be emotionally mature, and have an openness and awareness of diversity.

AmeriCorps members in 900-hour positions receive a living allowance of $6,527 paid in biweekly pay checks. At the end of their term of service, 900-hour members receive an education award of $2,775.

AmeriCorps members also can receive forbearance on qualified student loans.

The application can be downloaded at  http://oswegocounty.com/youth/application.pdf

For additional information on the current openings, call AmeriCorps program coordinator Kathy Andolina at the Oswego City/County Youth Bureau, weekdays at 349-3451 or (800) 596-3200, extension 3451.

Chicken processing company moves into former Birds Eye plant

The familiar blue stripe of the former Birds Eye plant has gone red for K&N's Foods, the plant's new occupant. Valley News photo by Ashley M. Casey
The familiar blue stripe of the former Birds Eye plant has gone red for K&N’s Foods, the plant’s new occupant.
Valley News photo by Ashley M. Casey

By Ashley M. Casey

Pakistan-based poultry processing company K&N’s Foods USA, LLC, has settled into the former Birds Eye Foods plant. The company kicked off its new residence in Fulton with an inauguration ceremony Jan. 3. The plant, which Birds Eye vacated in December 2011, is located at 607 Phillips St. in Fulton.

The new plant is expected to add 183 jobs to the city over a course of three years. Although production will not begin for another two months or so, K&N’s has already employed 44 people in Fulton, 35 percent of whom are former Birds Eye employees.

K&N’s will receive about $1 million in Excelsior tax credits from New York state in exchange for its promise to create jobs.

“If we succeed, it means economic development (for Fulton),” said Khalil Sattar, founder and chairman of K&N’s Foods.

Founded in 1964, K&N’s produces halal chicken products such as chicken nuggets and kebabs. “Halal” is an Arabic term that refers to food prepared under Muslim dietary standards, which prohibit pork and alcohol and require certain methods of slaughtering an animal for meat.

Look for the rest of this story in the Wednesday, Jan. 8, edition of The Valley News.

Phoenix receives state grant for State Street Improvement Project

The Village of Phoenix has been awarded $187,071.00 from the state for the State Street Improvement Project.

The money is from the state Homes and Community Renewal’s Office of Community Renewal (New York Main Street Program). The New York Main Street Program is one of the 26 programs across 13 state agencies that was part of the 2013 Consolidated Funding Application.

In December 2013, $750 million in economic development funding was announced and will provide resources for projects focused on community development, job creation, water revitalization, energy and environmental improvements, sustainability and low-cost financing.

The State Street Improvement Project in Phoenix involves the renovation and rehabilitation of eight mixed-use properties, in addition to streetscape enhancements for residents and visitors and a canal-side signage program.

The project will serve to jumpstart continued economic investment, community revitalization and promotion of tourism and recreation in the village.

Since 2007, the village of Phoenix has received almost $800,000 in state and federal grants for community development, recreation, tourism and public safety-related projects.

Phoenix also has been the recipient of more than $6.5 million in grants and zero-interest loans for repairs and upgrades to the sanitary sewer system.

“The Village of Phoenix is very excited to receive another grant for the restoration of key properties along State Street,” said Mayor Anthony Fratto.

“The tremendous improvements that have already been made, in addition to those included in the State Street Improvement Project, would not be possible without the participation of local business and property owners,” he said. “I am grateful for this partnership and look forward to our continued success for the benefit of our community.”

Oswego County Legislature conducts reorganizational meeting

The Oswego County Legislature conducted its reorganizational meeting Thursday and appointed people to various positions.

They are:

County Attorney, Richard Mitchell

County Administrator, Philip Church

Legislature chairman, Kevin Gardner

Legislature vice chairman, Linda Lockwood

Legislature majority leader, Terry Wilbur

Legislature minority leader, Michael Kunzwiler

Purchasing Director, Daniel Stevens

Director of Emergency Management, Dale Currier

Director of 911 Communications, Michael Allen

Director Solid Waste, Frank Visser

Director Central Services, Richard Hogan,

Director Community Development, Tourism and Planning, David Turner

Direcotr of Public Health, Jiancheng Huang

Director of Veterans Services, Donna Kestner

Director of Youth Bureau, Brian Chetney

Aging Services Administrator, Sara Sunday

Auditor, Stephen Loadwick

Official newspapers, Oswego County Weeklies, Oswego Palladium-Times

Also at the meeting, members of the Democratic caucus presented letters to some legislature members concerning a renaming of their caucus.

Thr group is now called the Independent Reform Caucus. It consists of Democratic legislators Michael Kunzwiler, Amy Tressider, Douglas Malone, Jacob Mulcahey and Daniel Farfaglia, along with new legislators Marie Schadt, Frank Castiglia and Richard Kline.

Kline, of Schroeppel, is a registered Republican but has decided to caucus with the Democrats.

Phoenix staff boosts United Way donations

Submitted by Oswego County BOCES

With a desire to give back to the community, Phoenix Central School District staff and faculty joined forces with United Way of Oswego County again this year and contributed to the organization’s annual campaign.

Mary Stanton, principal at Michael A. Maroun Elementary School, said this year’s giving effort was one of the most successful to date.

Employees of the school district donated $1,807 in 2013 compared with the $1,360 collected in 2012 — a trend Stanton hopes will continue.

“We have a very high staff participation rate,” Stanton said. “Donations can be made through cash, checks or payroll deductions. It doesn’t matter how much you give. It’s the fact that you’re part of that overall total. Every little bit counts.”

The money collected as part of the campaign goes toward 20 local service agencies and 34 programs. Nonprofit organizations, the Human Concerns Center, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, ARISE, Literacy Volunteers of Oswego County, Catholic Charities and American Red Cross disaster relief efforts are all aided by the funding.

“It’s an easy way to give back to the community,” said United Way’s resource development director Lois Luber.

“We depend on any campaign efforts. Small donations add up. Mary Stanton knows there is a need and she sees it. These contributions go a long way to ensure so many youth development programs can (continue to) operate.”

Maroun students fill Blizzard Bags

Students at Michael A. Maroun Elementary School in Phoenix enjoyed the true spirit of Christmas as they came together to make Oswego County Opportunities (OCO)’s Blizzard Bag program a school project that would involve all students in every grade.

The Blizzard Bag program provides OCO clients with an emergency supply of food in the event that they are unable to receive their regular home-delivered meal due to inclement weather conditions.

The students worked together and did everything from decorating the bags to collecting food and preparing the bags for delivery.

Guidance counselor and member of the school’s Character Education Committee Nora Germain said the students were excited to be a part of this year’s Blizzard Bag program from start to finish.

“Last year our kindergarten students decorated the bags. Our teachers and students enjoyed it so much that we decided to make it a schoolwide project this year. Kindergarten teacher Lucille Mercer spearheaded the project and we were underway,” said Germain.

Third-grade teacher, Mary Delphant explained each grade had a specific assignment.

Fourth-graders made cheerful notes for each bag; kindergarten and third-grade students organized a food drive and sorted donations; second-graders decorated the bags, and first-graders decorated and colleted food for pet bags.

“It was a good experience for our students,” said Delphant. “They learned the importance of generosity, caring for others, and giving back to their community.”

Mary Stanton, Maroun principal, echoed those sentiments.

“Service learning is an important part of a child’s education,” she said. “It’s wonderful that the whole school was involved in this project. It was a powerful experience that touched all their lives.”

The students prepared 150 Blizzard Bags and 25 Pet Bags.

OCO Volunteer Coordinator Christine Parks said the efforts of the Maroun students marked the first time that an entire school was involved with the program.

“Over the years we have been fortunate to receive support from a number of Oswego County students, however this was remarkable. We greatly appreciate everything the students did and the encouragement they received from their teachers and parents,” said Parks.

For more information on donating items or volunteering to assist with OCO’s “Blizzard Bag” program you may contact Christine Parks at 598-4712 ext. 1807 or visit oco.org.

A private, nonprofit agency, OCO touches the lives of more than 30,000 people each year through more than 50 programs operating in more than 80 locations throughout Oswego County. The agency employs more than 650 people and has more than 1,200 volunteers. For more information, visit OCO’s website at oco.org.

News in brief

The Oswego County Farm Bureau will  host a series of Coffeecake Meetings on the first Monday of the winter months at 1 p.m. at the Mexico branch of the Oswego County Federal Credit Union on Route 3 (5828 Scenic Ave.).

The first will take place at 1 p.m. Jan. 6 with special guest speaker, Jim Farfaglia, author of “Of the Earth — Stories from Oswego County Muck Farms.”

Farfaglia also has agreed to do a book signing and will have books available for purchase.

These meetings are free and will be open to the public as well as Farm Bureau members. As the name implies, light refreshments will be served.

Future meeting speakers will include Josh Hornesky, a resource conservationist for the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service.

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A series of Sunday Snowshoe Wanders are scheduled for January at the Amboy 4-H Environmental Education Center.

The wanders begin at 2 p.m. Jan. 5, 12, 19 and 31. If there isn’t enough snow, the snowshoeing will be canceled but there will be a winter walk.

An environmental educator will give a brief instructional clinic on snowshoe technique and then lead participants for a short wander through the center’s mixed woods and wetlands.

There is a program fee of $3 per person with a family rate of $12.

These programs are designed for individuals, not groups. Call the Oswego County 4-H Program at 963-7286, ext. 401 for more details if necessary or to arrange a group program.

Amboy 4-H Environmental Educational Center is located on Route 183, between Routes 13 and 69 in eastern Oswego County.

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Students in grades pre-kindergarten through grade 12 in the Fulton school district will not have classes on Thursday, Jan. 9.

Teachers and staff will spend the day at G. Ray Bodley High School for a staff development day concerning effective grading practices.

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The Oswego Public Library’s Library Learning Center will offer a four-part Introduction to Computer for Spanish Speakers workshop on Jan. 9, 16, 23 and 30.

Each class is free and runs from 10 a.m. to noon. Topics covered by the instructor include: parts of the computer, accessing the Internet, searching for information and Internet safety.

In addition to our introductory workshops, the Library Learning Center will feature Online Job Search for Spanish Speakers from 4 to 6 p.m. Jan. 13 and 27.

In partnership with Oswego County BOCES, the Library Learning Center offers English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes.  These are held every Tuesday and Thursday from 4:30-7:30. Classes are open to any non-English speakers ages 16 and up.

The Library Learning Center is located on the lower level of the Oswego Public Library, and is open Monday-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.

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Thomas W. Schneider, President/CEO of Pathfinder Bancorp, Inc., has announced the com  pany has declared a cash dividend of 3 cents per share on the company’s common stock relating to the fiscal quarter ending Dec. 31.

The dividend will be payable to all shareholders of record on Jan. 15, 2014 and will be paid on Feb. 7, 2014.

What does 2014 hold for Oswego County?

By Debra J. Groom

As we count down to the beginning of 2014 on Wednesday, there are some important issues to keep an eye on in Oswego County this coming year.

County Administrator Philip Church said one big issue is the ongoing assessment negotiations with companies owning the county’s three nuclear plants.

The tax agreement between the county, the Oswego school distirct and Scriba and Constellation Nuclear Energy Group for Nine Mile Point One and Two expires in 2014.

The county, Scriba and the Mexico school district’s negotiations for a tax agreement with Entergy for its James FitzPatrick Nuclear Plant are ongoing.

“These two revenue matters, combined with increasing costs from state and federal mandates, will be driving factors in the development of the 2015 budget and impact the Legislature’s decision-making about the services the county provides,” Church said.

“Throughout the year, the Legislature and departments will take a critical look at programs and contracted services to identify priorities and find cost-savings and efficiencies,” he said.

Also in 2014, the county will move forward with demolition of the former jail, and will decide the future of the property, Church said.

The Route 2A bridge over the Salmon River will undergo significant repair and reconstruction.

The grant-funded repair of the Camp Zerbe lodge will be completed, providing the eastern end of the county with facility that can be utilized for recreation, tourism, family activities and business events.

“And the county is also researching the installation of a fiber-optic network that could be built out to provide high speed Internet connectivity to enhance small business growth,” Church said.

Church also said the county will continue its enhanced efforts to investigate and prosecute drug crime and public assistance fraud.

In January, the county Legislature will reorganize, electing a chairman and vice chairman, and new standing committees will be established by the chairman.

Legislature Minority Leader Michael Kunzwiler, D-Oswego, said the county’s budget and finances are the primary issue for 2014.

His concern, which he voiced numerous times during the 2014 county budget deliberations, was the county is not planning far enough into the future concerning its finances and does not begin the budget p[rocess early enough in the year.

““We are not doing real budgeting, we are not looking at the future,” he said this week.

“Right out of the box, we should get with Phil (Church), get together with Kevin (Gardner, legislature chairman) and discuss the budget,” Kunzwiler said. “We should have a staffing study to look at our numbers. We should look at where we are retirement-wise.”

“This is called doing the right thing,” he said. “We have to embrace change or we’re going down the toilet.”

He also said the county was wrong for the past few years to always try to put together a budget with no tax increase.

This was a problem mentioned recently in the city of Oswego’s budget negotiations — the city had not raised taxes for many years and them this year was hit with a huge increase.

Kunzwiler believes the same thing could happen in the county.

He said the county in the past few years should have raised taxes 1 percent each year and cut more spending each year to keep the budget manageable.