Category Archives: Featured Stories

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.

*********************

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.

*********************

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.

*********************

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.

*********************

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.

Port of Oswego hires new executive director

The Port of Oswego Authority has announced the appointment of Zelko N. Kirincich to the position of executive director as of Jan. 6.

Kirincich comes from the Port Authority of Tampa, Fla., where he worked from 1996-2013. He most recently served there as deputy port director and chief operating officer.

Prior to his 17 years at the Port of Tampa, Kirincich worked for 14 years at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, where he specialized in the engineering department, project management and facility management.

Kirincich received a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Manhattan College, and a master’s degree in business administration from Manhattan College/Fordham University.

Prior to his appointment to the Port of NY/NJ, he worked as a design engineer at the Syska Hennessey Engineering Group in New York City.

In the Port of Tampa, Kirincich’s leadership resulted in increases in shipping tonnage, and the diversity of materials handled. His team expanded the aggregate and cement business from two to five million tons in less than four years.

Kirincich also initiated a new computer communication program to improve fiscal communication within the port and between the port and customers. He also worked closely with a burgeoning cruise line business that now includes 900,000 passengers annually.

The Port of Tampa, during 2012, had a $15.1 billion economic impact on the Tampa area (up from about $8 billion in 2006). It is one of the country’s biggest ports in total tonnage. More than 80,000 jobs (in all categories) were supported by the Port of Tampa, and the total port-related wages and salaries in that area were calculated at $4.2 billion.

“We are very excited that Zelko Kirincich has agreed to be our new port director. He comes with the most experience of any port director in our port’s history,” said Port of Oswego Chairman, Terrence Hammill.

“The recent growth in the Port of Oswego, and the new economic vision of Central New York will be enhanced by Zelko’s experience, energy level and vitality,” Hammill said.

Willy Wonka auditions set for Jan. 4

CNY Arts Center will conduct auditions for the next Kids Onstage production, Willy Wonka Jr., from 3 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 4.

Call backs will be from 4 to 5 p.m.

Auditions for ages 7 and up will be held at the Arts Center location at 357 State St. Methodist Church, in Fulton where the show will run March 14–16 and 21-23.

Teenagers are especially encouraged to audition. While there are numerous good roles for young actors, there will be a limit to the cast given the stage size at the Arts Center.

“This is a large show with lots of set pieces and while we all love the Oompa Loompas, not every child is guaranteed a role,” said director Amy Price.

“We are looking for those with experience or the maturity to understand the commitment they are making. This is not to discourage anyone from auditioning, but rather to distinguish from the open call for Charlotte’s Web when every child was assured a role,” Price said.

“We’re also excited to do a musical again, but that requires dance movement,” Price said. “Only so many children can fit on the stage so casting will reflect those best suited to the roles.

“Watching the movie and getting a good feel for the wide range of character choices will help young actors prepare for the role they are most interested in,” she said.

The production will pair the duo Amy Price and Adam Schmidtmann again who co-directed last spring’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Schmidtmann, who continues as Kids Onstage instructor for CNY Arts Center, is scheduled to play the title character onstage with the children.

“We think this is really going to enhance the musical experience for the children, and add a measure of stability to the production,” Price said.

For the audition, children are asked to prepare a song to sing a cappella, and a poem or monologue to recite. Children will also be asked to read from the script.

Following auditions, call backs will take place immediately so the cast can be chosen as soon as possible. Rehearsals start the week after auditions.

Based on the book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl- ROALD DAHL’S WILLY WONKA JR is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI.

Words and Music by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley. Adapted for the stage by Leslie Bricusse and Timothy A. McDonald.

For more information visit the web site at www.CNYArtsCenter.com or call 592-3373.

RPR performs Jan. 11 at Oswego Music Hall

Stylish songs, stunning arrangements, great musicianship – and those massive vocal harmonies – all delivered with good humor and a sense of fun.

That’s what former Tanglefoot–and now R-P-R — fans look forward to when this re-connected Canadian band comes to the Oswego Music Hall stage at 8 p.m. Saturday Jan. 11.

Rob Ritchie, Al Parrish and Steve Ritchie rocked the folk/roots music scene as the rhythm section of Tanglefoot until a few years back.

They developed a remarkable presence with their bold sound and hard-working tour schedule and earned a loyal following throughout Canada, the United States and Great Britain.

After the iconic Canadian “superband” TANGLEFOOT retired in 2009, Steve Ritchie, Al Parrish and Rob Ritchie branched out in different directions, writing, broadcasting and solo performing.

Now, as veteran musicians in their new band configuration — RPR — they, along with their master percussionist Beaker Granger, are stretching their wings musically.

Together they create a memorable experience for their audiences with arresting music, stories, laughter and reminiscence. Their shows are studies in contrast: light and shade, irreverent and poignant, music that’s gentle as a whisper and then rampantly energetic.

Whether it’s an original country song of Al’s, Steve’s recollection of a Robert Plant version of an old Dylan tune, or Rob’s incisive musical humor, the trademark harmony, chemistry, and impact . . . are all there, according to reviews of the band’s concerts.

The Beat Magazine (March 2013) wrote “They sing raucously and passionately with big stirring harmonies. . . . at times with roaring vigour, at other [times]  with sparse intensity, creating many moods. . . songs full of humour, pathos and love.”  R-P-R’s song subjects derive largely from history, especially Canadian history.

Check out R-P-R’s music at http://www.ritchie-parrish-ritchie.com/ Then come to enjoy a live musical treat at the Oswego Music Hall Jan. 11.

The venue is the McCrobie Civic Center, 41 Lake St., Oswego. The atmosphere is intimate with candlelit tables surrounding a small stage.

Desserts, snacks, popcorn and beverages are available for purchase.

Tickets can be purchased on line at http://oswegomusichall.org/ or at the river’s end bookstore, 19 W. Bridge St., Oswego.

Holders of tickets purchased before 1 p.m. the day of the concert will have preferred seating. After 1 p.m., seating will be general admission.

Ticket prices for this event are $14 if purchased in advance and $16 at the door.   Children 12 and under are half-price; under 5 is free.

Season Passes and All-Season Passes also are available and may be purchased at any show. For information contact membership secretary Carol Forrest at 343-2988.

The Music Hall’s next concert Jan. 25 will be a double billing, featuring singer/songwriters Honor Finnegan and Anna Dagmar, two New York city talents who will complement each other in fascinating ways.

The Music Hall has been run entirely by volunteers from its inception, for more than 36 years. Music Hall concerts are made possible in part with funding by the NYS Council on the Arts.

For more information call 342-1733 or visit the Music Hall website: http://oswegomusichall.org/

Lanigan students honored for having empathy

Jeff Hendrickson, principal at Lanigan Elementary School, recently honored students for demonstrating the Fulton City School District’s virtue of the month for December which is empathy.

Empathy is the ability to recognize and share someone else’s feelings and emotions.

The following students were recognized at the ceremony – pictured in front, left to right are: Finley Nye, Kiley Pudney, Orianna Romanowicz, Addison Smith, Alyssa Bort, Josephine Regensburger, Ethan Clark, Katelyn Gerth, Vincent Salerno, Makenzie Gardner, Justin Noeller, and Isabella Deane. In back, left to right: Christina Tallents, Sean-Evan Rogers, Mark Smith, Kyra Baker, Brock Lindsley, Julia Brown, Nicholas Furbeck, and Dana Galoni. Missing from the photo was Chloe Bergman.