Category Archives: Featured Stories

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 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 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 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:

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.

Holiday concert at St. Francis Commons

Oswego Middle School’s “Con Brio” singers, accompanied by members of the middle school band, treated residents of St. Francis Commons Assisted Living Residence to memorable holiday concert.

Students performed a selection of holiday favorites, including “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Frosty the Snowman,” “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing,” for the residents and their family members who were in attendance.

“It is always a treat to hear such a talented group perform,” said Peg Livoti, director of activities at St. Francis Commons.

“Our thanks go out to all the student performers, to Mr. Paul Brewster, and to Mr. Jim Peer, Band Director at the Oswego Middle School, who coordinated this performance,” Livoti said.

St. Francis Commons Assisted Living Residence is the newest phase of development on the St. Luke healthcare campus, located on the east side in the City of Oswego.

The campus also includes St. Luke Health Services, Bishop’s Commons Enriched Living Residence and Little Lukes Childcare Center.

Oswego school board wraps up business for 2013

Submitted by the Oswego school district

The final regular meeting of 2013 was conducted by the Oswego school board on Dec. 18.

The board accepted a $60,180 grant  to extend universal pre-kindergarten and approved an agreement with First Step Universal Pre-K to support the extension of the district UPK program. (See more on this page.)

New Superintendent Ben Halsey said he was continuing his entry plan and had continued to be involved in a variety of visits, duties, programs and projects.

He said he had attended numerous school district holiday concerts and it was a “pleasure to see the connection between students and teacher” who are involved in the touted music program.

Under “Items from the Board,” board member Thomas DeCastro asked if the board would review its policy for appointing a member to the BOCES board to represent the Oswego City School District.

Currently, Dave White represents the district. He was on the Oswego school board when he was appointed to the BOCEs board, but now isn’t on the Oswego school board.

His term expires in the spring, but DeCastro asked if there was interest in having White continue in the BOCES position. Board members supported White, but stated the policy on appointing BOCES board members may need to be amended.

Board member John Dunsmoor asked the superintendent to provide direction to the school attorney in regards to tax PILOTs (payments in lieu of taxes).

He also mentioned he had spoken with a member of city government in regards to the possibility of the district taking over the two municipal skating rinks. Dunsmoor said this was just a discussion with one person, but there might be a possibility and asked to research into this area.

 Regular Meeting Actions

** Approved a field trip for the Oswego Middle School French Club to Montreal on May 9-10

** Approved creation of a JV winter guard for students in grades five through 12 and a winter drum line program at the Oswego High School.

** Accepted the resignation of Mary Beth Fierro as a mathematics teacher. She took a leave to serve as Oswego Middle School prinicpal and recently received tenure as principal.

** Appointed  Michelle Emmons as a regular substitute as a mathematics teacher thru June 30, 2014.

**Granted leaves of absence for Special Education teacher Melissa Guild and elementary teacher Samantha Spaulding

** Approved probationary  appointments for elementary teacher Carolyn Slobodian and Samantha Spaulding (OMS Reading).

** Approved Lee Williams and William Carney as permanent school bus drivers and Geoff Marsh as permanent head automotive mechanic.

** Accepted a $132 donation from Target for Frederick Leighton Elementary School and entered into an agreement with Oswego County Opportunities involving  the extension of the runaway-homeless youth specialist.

School board committee meetings will be at 5 p.m. Jan. 8 in the Oswego High School Anthony J. Murabito Media Center.