Category Archives: Featured Stories

Oswego County tourism a mouse click away

Submitted by Oswego County

The Oswego County Tourism Office has launched a new interactive map (iMap) that allows prospective visitors and local residents to create their own customized itinerary for visiting hundreds of places in Oswego County.

The iMap is a computerized map linked to the Oswego County tourism website at www.visitoswegocounty.com.

Designed to be a mobile-friendly tool, it contains more than 500 properties or points of interest, including places to stay, eat, shop and explore with location details and links to web sites.

“The iMap provides quick access to information on destinations throughout Oswego County,” said David Turner, director of the Oswego County Department of Community Development, Tourism and Planning.

“It allows you to create your own itinerary and customize it to your interests, such as museums, fishing spots, farm markets, shopping and eating,” he said. “You can share the map with friends, print it out, and access it from anywhere there is internet service.”

Former County Legislator Louella LeClair, R-Fulton, former chair of the Legislature’s Economic Development and Planning Committee during 2013, said the iMap provides a valuable tool for people who are already planning trips to visit Oswego County as well as local residents.

There is no charge for Oswego County businesses and attractions to be included on the iMap.

“The iMap contains information already in our tourism database such as Internet links, photographs and social media sites,” said Faith O’Brien, tourism assistant.

“We ask businesses and attractions to look at the iMap and contact our office if we are missing any information, so that we can provide the most accurate and up-to-date information for Oswego County visitors and residents,” she said. “We’re also working to make sure that the locations of points of interest are accurately placed on the map.”

Anyone who would like to submit information for the iMap may e-mail the county tourism office at tourism@oswegocounty.com, or call O’Brien at 349-8322.

The map was created by the county tourism staff in partnership with Lunar Cow Design of Akron, Ohio.

Turner said the tourism Office is also working on a fishing app for mobile phones which will be released soon.

The department also has developed a free snowmobiling app, which includes information about the 360 miles of groomed trails in the county.

The snowmobile app, which has experienced several thousand downloads already, was developed in partnership with Mohawk Valley GIS and is available at http://www.nysnowmobilewebmap.com/smartphone.htm.

View from the Assembly, by Assemblyman Will Barclay

The Tax Relief Commission issued its final report this month.

The commission was established by the governor and was charged with providing recommendations to cut $2 billion in state taxes during a three-year period.

Included in its final report were property tax relief recommendations the governor will consider.

Three property tax relief recommendations were outlined. They include a property tax freeze, a circuit breaker and a tax credit for manufacturers.

The commission recommends freezing residential property taxes for two years but only for jurisdictions within the property tax cap; property tax relief will only continue into a second year if the local government adopts reforms that reduce costs — such as sharing services or consolidating.

The circuit breaker would establish a personal income tax credit for taxpayers whose real property taxes exceeds a certain percentage of their household gross income.

Manufacturers would receive a tax credit and specifically, Upstate manufacturers would benefit.

While I’m pleased to see this conversation taking place, I’m disappointed by the lack of recommended budget cuts or long-term cost-savings measures included for localities or school districts.

The reason we have such high taxes is New York has a spending problem. For example, last year we spent 42 percent of our total budget on Medicaid, yet we continue to offer several coverage options within the framework of Medicaid that other states do not offer, such as dental care.

Medicaid costs are expected to grow only because last year, the state predicted 400,000 additional people would qualify for Medicaid due to changes caused by Obamacare — the giant federal mandate that requires people purchase health insurance.

In fact, according to news articles published recently, out of the roughly 1.6 billion who have enrolled in Obamacare, 1.46 million actually signed up for Medicaid.

The latest report contains only temporary fixes and does not fully consider that the state needs to cut spending. Tax freezes, tax credits and tax rebates are temporarily helpful but we need more permanent fixes — ones that will reduce the property tax load for New Yorkers for years to come.

We also need to stop passing state mandates onto localities. I sponsor legislation that would prohibit new unfunded mandates from passing the State Legislature (A1570).

Also, the report encourages consolidation, but we’ve budgeted for consolidation and shared services in the past. This year’s state budget provided $79 million in grants for local governments to fully explore and utilize shared services and consolidations.

Those resources have been largely underused and many times, the voting public rejects consolidations. We need to provide more direct tax relief to small businesses, but this latest list does not make recommendations for small business tax relief either.

If you have any questions, comments or would like to be added to my mailing list, send a letter to 200 N. Second St., Fulton, New York 13069, or an email to barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us or call 598-5185. You can also friend me, Assembly Barclay, on Facebook.

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.