Category Archives: Featured Stories

Hannibal girls’ basketball loses a close one

By Rob Tetro

The Hannibal girls’ varsity basketball team suffered a heartbreaking season opening loss to Bishop Grimes Dec. 2 by score of 59-51.

After a back and forth first half, Hannibal built a lead during the third quarter, taking a 41-33 lead into the fourth quarter. But Bishop Grimes got right back in it down the stretch.

They stepped up its defense to trigger the rally. When regulation ended, the game was headed to overtime tied at 45.

Bishop Grimes carried its momentum into the overtime period. In the end, Bishop Grimes outscored Hannibal 26-10 during the fourth quarter and overtime to come away with the win.

Bishop Grimes struck first. They built a 5-point lead over the Lady Warriors during the first quarter. However, Hannibal fought back during the second quarter, outscoring  Grimes by 5 points to even the game at 23 headed into halftime.

The Lady Warriors kept it going into the third quarter. They pulled ahead to take an 8-point lead. Bishop Grimes began to put it together during the fourth quarter, storming back to force overtime with the game tied at 45. With momentum on its side, Bishop Grimes took care of business during overtime, outscoring the Lady Warriors by 8 points.

Hannibal was led by Devin Sorell and Gabby Griffin, who each scored 14 points against Bishop Grimes. Following Sorell and Griffin was Spencer Kenney with 13 points and Sydney Alton with 5 points.

Girls’ softball clinics begin Jan. 5

A girls’ fastpitch softball hitting/pitching clinic will be held Sunday mornings from Jan. 5 through Feb. 23 at the Oswego YMCA Armory.

The clinic is open to all girls in grades 5-12 who are interested in softball, and would like to develop their skills before the school or summer ball seasons begin.

Both beginners and advanced players are encouraged to attend.

Hitting will be from 8:45 to 9:45 a.m. each week in the Armory gym and batting cage. Each session will consist of a 20-minute presentation by a coach or guest clinician, and then the remainder of the hour will be hands-on hitting drills and/or practice in the batting cage.

Pitchers will also receive brief instruction weekly, then use the 10 to 11 a.m.  hour to throw under the supervision of the coaches.

Videotaping will be used as a teaching tool in later sessions for both the pitchers and hitters.

The cost of the clinic is $10 per hour for either pitching or hitting. For players who want to stay for both sessions, the fee is $15. Eight-session packages are $80 for hitting or pitching, $140 for both.

Pitchers must bring a parent or friend as a catcher. Hitters can bring their own bats. Sneakers are recommended. All other equipment will be provided.

The clinic is sponsored by the Amateur Softball Association, and local ASA youth commissioner Mike McCrobie. The clinic will be staffed by the OHS softball coaches, the Pride travel softball coaching staff, and alumni of the Oswego High School softball program.

No pre-registration is required, but for more information, you can contact McCrobie by phone at 343-8749 or via e-mail at

J.C. Birdlebough students show community leadership

Submitted by Oswego County BOCES

With the holiday season in full swing, members of the Leadership Program in the Phoenix Central School District are doing their part to make spirits bright.

The program, spearheaded by community member and volunteer service coordinator Cathy Lee, sponsors several initiatives throughout the year to aid local residents in need and help beautify the village.

Activities include summer beautification efforts to spruce up the community, a ball for senior citizens, a trip to the mall with senior citizens, and a homeless night to raise money for the Rescue Mission.

With two decades under her belt as the leadership program’s volunteer service coordinator, Lee said that there is nothing more satisfying than watching students giving back to their community.

“Seeing kids caring and sharing is rewarding,” she said. “Our formula is motivation and caring and sharing equals a leader, and I see that happen to all of the students who are in leadership group. Once they have that experience of caring or sharing, it causes them to be motivated to do more.”

During the holiday season, the leadership group is especially active as students ring the bell for the Salvation Army every day in November and December. They help out at the tree lighting ceremony and also collect winter hats, mittens and scarves for the homeless, and pack food boxes for 200 needy Phoenix residents.

“Pay it forward,” Lee said.

That sentiment is not lost on the recipients of the donated goods, nor is it lost on the student leadership group members.

“It’s fun to help out the community and make it a better place,” said John C. Birdlebough sophomore Tyler Gabriele while ringing the Salvation Army bell recently.

25 years later, campus remembers 2 SUNY Oswego lives lost in Pan Am 103 bombing

By Debra J. Groom

It began like any other winter’s night in Oswego.

Brisk air, snow, shoppers rushing around trying to finish their Christmas preparations. Most students had left the SUNY Oswego campus for their vacations at home.

Some locals may have been heading to Syracuse as the S.U. Orangemen were playing Western Michigan in a home basketball game that night in the Carrier Dome. Others may have been attending holiday parties.

Then came the horrifying news. A terrorist bomb had blown up a plane over Lockerbie, Scotland. All 259 on Pan Am Flight 103 were lost.

It was Dec. 21, 1988 – 25 years ago today.

As bits and pieces of information trickled in that night, the news became more and more grim for Central New York’s collegiate community.

On that plane were two SUNY Oswego students returning home from their semester studying in London. Lynne Hartunian, from Niskayuna, who was set to graduate in 1989, and Colleen Brunner, of Hamburg, on course to graduate in 1990, were both communications majors. Reports state the friends had stayed in England after classes ended to visit some other countries. They were sitting together — Lynne in seat 44D and Colleen in seat 44C – as they ventured home on Pan Am 103.

The Boeing jet, called the Clipper Maid of the Seas, also carried a Colgate University student and 35 Syracuse University students returning home from their semesters abroad.

Like the Kennedy assassination and 9/11 terrorist attacks, most everyone who was in Central New York Dec. 21, 1988 remembers where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news about Pan Am 103.

One is Fritz Messere, who was chair of the communications studies department at SUNY Oswego.

“When I first heard the news, I called the International Studies office,” he remembered this week. “I talked to Jose Perez, the director of International Studies. I said we know there were Central New York students on that plane. Were any of them ours?”

“I was hoping to hear the answer ‘no,’” he said.

Then the SUNY Oswego community found out the bad news.

“They were both liked very well. I remember one professor, Professor David Glick, called me in great distress. We were all terribly saddened.”

“I wrote notes to the families immediately,” Messere said. “And then we all wondered ‘what do we tell the students when they return to campus?’”

Betsy Oberst today is associate vice president for alumni relations and stewardship at SUNY Oswego. Twenty-five years ago, she also was working in the alumni office. She said at first, it was difficult to tell if any SUNY Oswego students were on Pan Am 103.

“We had 12 to 13 students studying in London that semester and they all came home on different flights,” she said. “It was devastating to learn we had lost two students.”

With few students still left on campus, the immediate impact with students was slight. She said unlike today with email, text messaging and Twitter, news did not travel as quickly from person to person.

And while Central New York was immersed in the tragedy because of the deaths of the SU, Colgate and SUNY Oswego students and a married couple from Clay, Oberst said it was possible for students who lived farther away to not even realize SUNY Oswego students were killed in the attack.

“Some may not have found out until they returned to campus in January,” she said. A memorial service for Brunner and Hartunian was held in Hall Newman Center after the new semester began.

“I remember so many people showed up that kids were standing in the parking lot unable to get in,” Oberst said. “The campus TV station videotaped it so they could watch.”

Both Oberst and Messere said Brunner and Hartunian were well liked on campus and involved in many activities. According to written reports, they both were members of Alpha Sigma Chi sorority on campus, a sorority devoted to helping others.

Brunner and Hartunian are remembered with a memorial in Penfield Library, complete with photos and a recounting of their time at SUNY Oswego, Messere said. Oberst said they also are remembered through the Alumni Association. In fact in 2014, the Class of 1989 – Hartunian’s class – will have a special ceremony remembering her during their 25th year reunion.

The Alumni Association also is still is touch with their families, Oberst said.

“It is definitely an event that had a tremendous impact on Central New York,” Messere said. “It was a terrible day.”




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.