Category Archives: Featured Stories

Want to make your own maple syrup? Here’s how!

By Ashley M. Casey

As a child, Rich Finzer hated maple syrup.

His grandfather in Tupper Lake used to send Rich’s parents a gallon of “Fancy” grade each Christmas. After just a taste, Finzer swore off the stuff until adulthood, when he stopped by a roadside stand in New Hampshire and picked up a bottle on a whim.

“There had been a total change,” recalled Finzer, “and I loved the stuff.”

Although he once turned his nose up at the sticky-sweet amber breakfast condiment, Finzer is now the award-winning author of a book on how to produce maple syrup.

“Maple on Tap: Making Your Own Maple Syrup” was released Dec. 15, 2012, by Acres USA, a publisher that mainly focuses on organic and sustainable farming.

Finzer’s sugaring journey began a little more than two decades ago, when he bought a farm in Ira, where he now lives (just over the border of Oswego County). He decided to try his hand at his grandfather’s pastime.

“The first year went very badly,” he said.

But Finzer and his friend and sugaring partner, the late Paulie Bartkowiak, didn’t give up. Their persistence paid off in 1995, when they won a blue ribbon at the New York State Fair for their medium amber maple syrup.

More than 20 years after that first botched attempt at making syrup, Finzer has snagged the Independent Book Publishers Association’s 2013 Benjamin Franklin Award Gold Medal in the Crafts/Hobby/How-To category. “Maple on Tap” is the first Acres USA book to win an IBPA award.

“In the 25 years that Acres USA has been in business as a publisher, none of their books had ever won an award,” Finzer said. “The greatest kick is they initially rejected it.”

Finzer, who is a retired technical writer for firms such as IBM and Bristol-Myers Squibb, began his writing career as a cub reporter at a weekly newspaper in Cortland, in 1970. In 2007, he branched out into freelance writing. More than 1,100 of his pieces have appeared in print and on the Web.

He is also the author of two novels, “Taking the Tracks” and “Julie & Me.”

Finzer said his book offers a variety of methods for tapping trees, and offers superior — and cheaper — sap collection and storage methods.

“What sets it apart from other books about sugaring (is that they) don’t have my credentials. They don’t have a blue ribbon,” he said.

The book’s path to publication was a rocky one. His sugaring partner passed away in 2011, the first graphic designer and editor quit, and Acres USA had to print the book in China because of overbooked printing schedules.

Finzer recalled his new Texas-based editor, Fred Walter, told him, “Rich, I have never seen a book as snake-bit as this.”

Despite all the bumps along the way, “Maple on Tap” was ready for sale just before last Christmas. Sales have been trickling in since then, and Finzer has been featured in The Post-Standard, The Palladium Times and The Nashua Telegraph (of Nashua, N.H.).

For now, Finzer is taking a break from writing, though he said he is considering writing a screenplay in the future.

“I’m resting on my laurels,” he said.

 Where to buy the book

For a signed copy of “Maple on Tap,” write to Rich Finzer at 13070 White Cemetery Road, Hannibal, NY 13074. The price of the book is $15.95, plus $5.90 for priority mail shipping.

“Maple on Tap” is also available at the river’s end bookstore in Oswego, and

African dancers,singers bring their culture to Volney Elementary School

Submitted by Oswego County BOCES

Volney Elementary School students received a lively lesson on African culture during a musical performance by Biboti Ouikahilo and his dance troupe on Wednesday afternoon.

“We are going to take you to a culture that is significantly different from ours,” Interim Principal Michael Egan told the students prior to the performance. “We want you to keep your minds open.”

Although many of the students were unfamiliar with the musical instruments and dances popular along the Ivory Coast, the five-member troupe gave them a memorable lesson.

Wearing bright-colored traditional African clothing, Ouikahilo and his crew used a variety of drums, a xylophone, song and dance to engage the audience.

“Whenever we play music, we smile because it’s from the heart,” the troupe told the students.

Smiles were contagious throughout the program as students joined the musicians and dancers on stage and delivered performances that kept the audience smiling and clapping.

Fulton winter sports schedules announced

Scheduled for winter sports varsity team in the Fulton school district.

All dates and times are subject to change.

Boys Basketball

11/23/13-TBA-at Oswego (Scrim)

11/29/13-TBA-at Watertown Tourney

11/30/13-TBA-at Watertown Tourney


12/10/13-6:30-at Fowler

12/13/13-7:00-at Cortland


12/20/13-7:30-at Bishop Ludden

12/27/13-4:00-at Tech Tourney at ITC

12/28/13-TBA-Tech Tourney at ITC


1/7/14-6:30-at Homer


1/14/14-7:00-at Mexico


1/29/14-7:00-at Chittenango

2/4/14-7:15–at CBA

2/7/14-7:00-Bishop Ludden

2/11/14-6:30–at ESM

Girls Basketball

11/27/13-10:00-at B’ville (scrim)

12/3/13-7:00-at JD

12/6/13-7:00-at Cortland (NL)

12/10/13-7:00- Fowler

12/13/13-7:00 – Corcoran


12/23/13-11:30-at C. Square

12/27/13-12:00-at Oswego

1/3/14-6:30-at ESM

1/7/14-7:00- Homer

1/10/14- 7:00- Chittenango

1/14/14 -7:00- Mexico

1/16/14-7:00-at Cazenovia


1/24/14-6:30 -at Fowler

1/29/14-5:30–at Chittenango (NL)

1/31/14-7:00-at Skaneateles

2/4/14-5:30-at CBA

2/11/14-7:00 – ESM


11/26/13 – 5-9 – Red/Green (scrim)

11/30/13 – 2:00 – Canandaigua

12/3/13 – 6:00 -at Chittenango

12/7/13 – 9:00 – APW/Pulaski at APW

12/7/13 – 9:30 – Andersen Tourney at CNS

12/11/13 – 6:00 – JD/CBA/Westhill/Solvay at JD

12/14/13 – 8:45 – DeMeco-Trainor Dual Tourney  at Churchville-Chili

12/19/13 – 6:00 – Cortland

12/27/13 – 12:00 – Haines Tourney at SUNY Oswego

12/28/13 – 9:30 – Haines Tourney at SUNY Oswego

1/3/14 – 9:00 – Central Square Tourney

1/4/14 – 9:00 – Central Square Tourney

1/8/14 – 6:00 -at Homer

1/11/14 – 2:00/3:30 -at Phoenix

1/15/14 – 6:00 – ESM

1/17/14 – 4:00 – Clayton Barnard at Hilton HS

1/18/14 – 10:00 – Clayton Barnard at Hilton HS

1/22/14 – 6:00 – Mexico

1/25/14 – 10:00 – Section III Duals at CNS

2/1/14 – 5:00 – Baldwinsville

2/8/14 – 10:00 – Class A Tourney at Indian River

2/15/14 – 10:00 – Sectionals at OCC

2/28/14 – 10:00 – States at Times Union Center

Boys & Girls Bowling (all matches at Strike & Spare lanes, Mattydale)





12/18/13-3:30-Bishop Grimes

12/19/13 – 3:30 – ESM

1/8/14 – 3:30 – Homer

1/9/14 – 3:30 – Solvay

1/15/14 – 3:30 – Cortland

1/16/14 – 3:30 – Chittenango

1/22/14 – 3:30 – CBA

1/23/14 – 3:30 – Bishop Grimes

1/29/14 – 3:30 – ESM

1/30/14 – 3:30 – Homer

2/5/14 – 3:30 – League Meet

2/6/14 – 3:30 – League Meet

2/7/14 –TBA-Qualifier at Utica

2/14/14 –TBA-Sectionals

Boys Indoor Track (all events at OCC unless noted)

12/11/13 – 4:30 – CNYITA Meet (B)

12/18/13 – 4:30 – CNYITA Meet (B)

12/30/13 – 10:00 – CNYITA Meet (B/G)

1/3/14 – 3:30 – CNYITA Meet (B) at Colgate

1/14/14 – 4:30 – CNYITA Meet (B)

1/21/14 – 4:30 – CNYITA Meet (B)

2/4/14 – 4:30 – Sectionals (B/G)

2/12/14 – 4:30 – OHSL Championships (B)

2/19/14 – 4:30 – State Qualifier (B/G)

3/1/14 – – NYSPHSAA Finals at Cornell

Girls Indoor Track (all events at OCC unless noted)

12/17/13 – 4:30 – CNYITA Meet (G) at Colgate College

12/30/13 – 10:00 – CNYITA Meet (B/G)

1/2/14 – 4:30 – CNYITA Meet (G)

1/8/14 – 4:30 – CNYITA Meet (G)

1/15/14 – 4:30 – CNYITA Meet (G)

1/23/14 – 4:30 – CNYITA Meet (G)

2/4/14 – 4:30 – Sectionals (B/G)

2/13/14 – 4:30 – OHSL Championships (G)

2/19/14 – 4:30 – State Qualifier (B/G)

3/1/14 –TBA- NYSPHSAA Finals at Cornell


12/5/13 – 5:00 – Auburn

12/9/13 – 5:00 – at Syracuse City

12/13/13 – 5:00 -at Baldwinsville

12/19/13 – 5:00 -at Pulaski

12/27/13 – 11:00 – Dive Meet

1/7/14 – 5:00 -at Mexico

1/9/14 – 5:00 – Weedsport

1/11/14 -TBA – HAC Invitational at Harley Sch (Rochester)

1/14/14 – 5:00 – New Hartford

1/18/14 – 11:00 -at North Rose Wolcott

1/23/14 – 5:00 –at JD

1/24/14 – 5:00 – OHSL Diving

1/25/14 – 10:00 – OHSL Swim at Mexico

1/28/14 – 5:00 – at Oswego


11/21/13 – 7:00 – at Ontario Bay (scrim) at Pulaski

11/22/13 – 7:00 -at Clinton (scrim)

12/2/13 – 6:00 – RFA

12/4/13 – 8:30 -at F-M at Cicero

12/6/13 -TBA – B’ville Tourney vs Oswego

12/7/13 -TBA – B’ville Tourney vs TBA

12/10/13 – 6:00 – West Genesee

12/13/13 – 7:00 – IHC

12/19/13 – 7:00 – Syracuse at Mechum

12/30/13 – 6:00 – Auburn

1/3/14 – 7:30 – Whitesboro

1/7/14 – 7:30 – at Mohawk Valley at Kennedy Rink (Rome)

1/10/14 – 6:00 – Baldwinsville

1/14/14 – 7:00 – at Liverpool at Lysander

1/16/14 – 6:00 – CNS

1/17/14 – 8:00 – Niagara Falls

1/21/14 – 5:00 – F-M

1/24/14 – 7:30 – at West Genesee at Shove Park

1/26/14 – 1:00 – at Lake Placid at Lake Placid OSU Rink

1/28/14 – 6:00 – IHC at Watertown

1/29/14 – 6:00 – Ontario Bay

2/4/14 – 6:00 – Syracuse12/7/13 – 9:30 – Andersen Tourney at CNS


Prince of Peace Lutheran Church renews commitment to children

Members of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church just outside Fulton renewed their commitment to the Cherish Our Children prayer ministry on Dec. 8.

Also that day, the Child Advocacy Center of Oswego County received a donation from Lutheran Charities of Central New York.

Lutheran Charities of Central New York began 19 years ago as a united fund appeal among Lutherans to support significant local ministries and outreaches.

This year the Child Advocacy Center of Oswego County was nominated by Prince of Peace to be included among the beneficiaries and accepted.

The Lutherans donated $300 designated specifically for the Child Advocacy Center and the Lutheran Charity board matched those gifts with a second gift of $300 from undesignated donations, making a total gift of $600.

Cherish Our Children is a national Lutheran ministry of prayer, education, relationship-building, and action to prevent child sexual exploitation.

The heart of this ministry is praying intentionally for children in and outside the congregation. More than 30 members have committed themselves to pray for children, youth, and persons ages birth to 25, by name.

As part of the relationship-building and local action, the congregation has engaged in active partnership support of the Child Advocacy Center, and donates food and other supplies, volunteers, space and prayer for their work.

The Child Advocacy Center provides many professional services and a safe place for an abused child to tell their story and get the help they need.

Prince of Peace Evangelical Lutheran Church of Fulton is a participating congregation in the Fulton-Oswego Episcopal-Lutheran Faith Partnership along with Grace Lutheran Church and the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Oswego.

The Rev. Richard Klafehn, and assistant pastor the Rev. Anne Wichelns, share ministerial duties at the three churches.

Prince of Peace Church is located on the corner of Gillespie Road and Route 176 North just outside of Fulton.

Fulton and Volney hook up for dog control

By Scott Allardice

The Town of Volney could be going into the dog control business next year — in Fulton.

Supervisor Dennis Lockwood said at the Dec. 10 town board meeting that Fulton Mayor Ron Woodward had contacted him about the possibility of  hiring Volney’s dog control officer to replace the city’s animal control officer.

“The city is struggling financially and our costs are in our people,” Woodward said.

The city’s animal control officer, Paul Cooper, is retiring in April. Woodward said the city budget contains about $60,000 per year for Cooper’s salary, benefits, animal traps, vehicle and other expenses.

Woodward said he proposed hiring Volney’s dog control officer, Don Mason, to handle only dog calls in the city and to pay a flat rate for each call, with the rate negotiated to cover Mason’s time, the use of the town’s truck and any other expenses.

Woodward praised Cooper’s work in the city, which also includes trapping nuisance animals, but said, “He’s not always that busy.”

Lockwood said Mason too is “not that busy” and it would be a “good thing for the two municipalities to get together.”

The proposal would not have Mason trapping nuisance animals, like skunks and raccoons. “We can do that with private trappers,” Woodward said.

The two municipalities will have to negotiate a rate for the dog calls and sign an inter-municipal agreement to authorize Volney’s employee to work in the city.

Woodward couldn’t say how much the proposal could save the city, but when asked if the plan would help Volney, he said “I



would hope so.”

Woodward said the city is looking to other ways to implement “shared services” with neighboring municipalities.

As for the savings on dog control, Woodward said, “We have to take it out for a spin for a year and see how it goes.”

Lockwood said the town’s 2009 pickup truck would be used for the work, but that “We would have to re-sticker it, it would have to say Fulton and Volney on it.”

Volney also has a dog kennel behind the highway garage with six dog cages inside and four or five outside cages for use in warmer weather because, Lockwood said, “the kennel is heated, but it’s not air-conditioned.

In other business at the Dec. 10 Volney town board meeting, town clerk Barbara MacEwen reported she had obtained four out of 11 potential signatures on a petition to create the Sherman Road — County Route 57 South Water District Extension #1.

If a majority of eligible voters, representing more than 50 percent of the assessed value of the eight parcels, sign the petition, the town board can add the new customers to the existing district.

The project would serve parcels left out the water district because the homeowners at the time were opposed to the project.

Now the current homeowners are anxious to join the existing 70 users in the water district.

MacEwen said she would continue working to gather signatures and the town board has tentatively scheduled a public hearing on the water district extension for 5 p.m. March 5, 2014, at the town hall.

Bob Guminiak, the town’s engineer on water projects, reported construction work is done on the MacDougall 6/45 water district. Restoration work on the disturbed ground areas will be done in the spring.

Guminiak said customers should be able to hook up once the water testing results are submitted to and approved by the Oswego County Health Department.

Amateur historian preserves Fulton in online newspaper archive

By Ashley M. Casey

First-time visitors to might be taken a little off-guard when they see a playful animated goldfish and neon text on the home page.

These quirky elements belie the vast project the site contains: more than 25 million newspaper pages collected by Tom Tryniski, a retired Fultonian.

In 1998, Tryniski developed an interest in old postcards. A friend lent him his mother and grandmother’s collection of postcards depicting the booming days of Fulton’s business past. His scope spread to old photographs and newspapers too.

“I scanned them in and I put them on a real simple website … on a redirect out of Russia,” Tryniski said.

At the time, his internet service provider would not allow the bandwidth for a commercial website with an American domain.

Since retiring from Harland Simon in 1999, Tryniski has devoted his own time and money to digitizing and uploading records of the past using a simple scanner, several PCs, and word recognition software that makes the newspapers searchable.

He invested in a microfilm scanner for $3,500 to expand his collection.

“I produced over four million images with that scanner,” he said.

In 2001, Tryniski approached then-publisher Vince Caravan about creating archives for the Valley News.

“I took a box every three or four days and I hand-scanned them with a flatbed scanner that was slow as molasses,” Tryniski remembered.

He moved on to scanning the Fulton Patriot and other area newspapers. Now he’s tackling more East Coast publications.

In March 2013, online news outlet ReasonTV released a video comparing Tryniski’s work to the Library of Congress’ “Chronicling America” collection.

Using $22 million in grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Chronicling America has digitized nearly seven million pages. That’s about $3 per newspaper page in costs to taxpayers., which includes archives of the Valley News, the Palladium-Times, the Brooklyn Eagle and other newspapers across New York state and beyond, has 25,084,000 pages online, available for free.

The site also averages six million page views per month, twice that of Chronicling America’s.

Tryniski said that the feedback he receives about is very positive. Many people use his archives for genealogy research, or just to reminisce about “things they haven’t seen in years and years.”

Reading the newspapers he has collected has been a learning experience for Tryniski.

“I’m finding a lot of nice information about Fulton in the ‘30s and ‘20s,” he said, adding that the technical aspects of this pastime keep him on his toes as well.

He also assists site visitors in their research. “Not only do I get to help someone, but I get to learn myself,” he said.

Tryniski said he has no time for other hobbies. The scanning process keeps him incredibly busy, which he enjoys.

“I find it hard to focus on two things at once,” Tryniski said. “I’m only good at one thing at a time.”

Tryniski has created multiple backup copies of his archive just in case.

“I’m not going to let it drop off the internet if something happens to me,” he said.

As for what’s next for Tryniski, the piles of newspapers and photos in his house should keep him busy for years to come.

Beware when buying puppies

Submitted by Attorney General office

The state Attorney General has cracked down on an illegal dog seller from Oswego County.

According to a release from Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Carissa Seaman, of Cleveland, bought animals, or obtained them for free, from Craigslist and the trading post of a local radio station.

She would then re-sell the dogs to other consumers for more money than she paid for them. In just one year, Seaman sold more than two dozen dogs.

Schneiderman said Seaman, who is not a licensed pet dealer, kept the dogs in her home, cared for them poorly and none received veterinarian care.

Per the terms of a voluntary settlement agreement, Carissa Seaman is permanently barred from selling animals or becoming a pet dealer.

The Attorney General urges those interested in bringing home a dog to adopt from a local SPCA or shelter.

If you go through a seller, follow these guidelines:

** Avoid sites like Craigslist, which are unregulated and enable unlicensed individuals to sell and flip pets.

** Get the address of the seller and inspect where the seller houses the puppies.  Do not buy a puppy from a seller who refused to allow you to do this.

** Prior to buying a puppy, ask the seller where he or she obtained it.  If the seller is not the breeder, ask for the breeder’s name.

** Find out the age of the puppy. A puppy should not be sold until it is eight weeks old.

** Ask for proof of all veterinary care the puppy has received, including records of inoculations and worming treatments administered, as well as the dates and types of vaccines.

** Inspect the puppy for indications of poor health (low weight, patches of missing hair, runny eyes or snout, the ears and bottom are not clean).

County legislators adopt budget for 2014

By Debra J. Groom

The Oswego County Legislature adopted the 2014 county budget Thursday night by a vote of 17 to 8.

Three Republican legislators joined the five Democrats in voting against the spending plan.

Those voting ‘no’ were Michael Kunzwiler, Amy Tresidder and Jacob Mulcahey, Democrats from Oswego; Douglas Malone, D-Oswego Town; Daniel Farfaglia, D-Fulton; Margaret Kastler, R-Lacona; Shawn Doyle, R-Pulaski; and Daniel Chalifoux, R-Minetto.

The legislature also approved amendments totaling about $177,000 before adopting the final budget. The final budget totals about $197 million.

The tax levy — the amount to be raised by taxes — increased $17,894 with the amendments. The tax rate will be $7.19 per $1,000 of assessed value, compared to $7.10 per $1,000 in 2013.

One of the items included in the budget amendments was the new contract between the county and the Oswego County Deputies’ Association.

The contract added about $124,000 to the budget. The deputies’ contract covers 62 full time and 23 part time deputies.

The legislature approved the contract  retroactive to 2012. It covers years 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Deputies received no raises for 2012, 2 percent increase for 2013 and 2 percent increase for 2014. The old contract expired Dec. 31, 2011.

During discussion on the budget prior to the vote, Malone tried to get an amendment to the budget passed to not fill any positions currently open. But the measure failed, with only Malone, Kunzwiler and Farfaglia supporting it.

Kunzwiler, who is the minority leader, said he was going to oppose the budget because he doesn’t believe there was enough input from the Democrats in putting together a final budget. He also chastised the way the budget is written as a whole.

“I hope we can start (on the next budget) on Jan. 1,” he said. “We should do a study from day one. I have grave concerns on our reserves and where we’re going in the future. I think a lot more could be done when it comes to dialog.”

The new budget also includes $26,000 for a pilot project brought to them by District Attorney Gregory Oakes. Oakes proposed spending the money to hire an outside lawyer to handle all of the county’s appeals of felony convictions.

He told the legislators currently, one of the assistant district attorneys in the county DA’s office handles the appeals.

Oakes said if this lawyer instead spends all her time on prosecuting felony cases in county court, cases will be able to move through the system at a quicker pace, alleviating the amount of time defendants are spending in the county jail.

Oakes said this could lead to fewer people in the county jail at any one time.

Sheriff Reuel Todd has had problems for the last two years with overcrowding and has had to send inmates to other jails at $90 a day per inmates and transportation and overtime charges for the deputies taking the inmates to other jails. One year, this amounted to about $1 million.

Oakes said he wants to try the program this year and if it doesn’t save money, it will not be renewed for next year. Legislators approved the request.