Category Archives: Featured Stories

Lanigan Elementary students learn history while getting in holiday spirit

First-graders at Lanigan Elementary got into the Christmas spirit recently, and learned a little about Fulton history too, with a visit to the John Wells Pratt House Museum.

The museum had on display decorated Christmas trees as part of their 25th annual Parade of Trees.

This year’s event drew in a total of 11 themed trees decorated by local organizations, clubs, youth and children’s group. Julie Galvin’s class from Lanigan Elementary decorated a tree with the theme “Sweet Christmas.”

All of the tree’s ornaments were made from candy; a marshmallow snowman, peppermint wreaths and candy cane sleds.

Gracia Thompson’s class at G. Ray Bodley also decorated a tree, with the theme “Home is Where the Heart Is.”

Ornaments were made from foam hearts, and embellished with beads and sequins.

Students on the field trip were able to vote for their favorite tree in each of the three categories — adult, youth and children’s. They also toured the Pratt House and learned about factories that used to call Fulton home, including Nestlé and Hunter Arms.

Oswego Middle School takes on mural challenge

Upon entering the Oswego Middle School art room, immediately visitors’ attention is turned toward a massive ceramic sea aquarium mural.

Student teacher Cassandra Mazur has conducted a collaborative project with seventh- and eighth-graders to create a lasting memory for students.

“Over the course of the last month the 140-piece ceramic mural was created by a group of 93 students. The mural measures 6 by 8 feet,” she said.

“It focuses on collaborative community art. It began with a simple idea and transformed into students learning about group collaboration, ceramic tile making and personal artistic expression. The story of this mural is about imagining a vision, believing in all possibilities, working with others, trusting the process and spreading inspiration,” she said.

Initially, the project began by introducing students to ceramic tile murals found throughout history and in everyday life.

“I created a full size ocean themed drawing of the mural to provide a solid framework for the students to work from. Students spent the next two weeks sculpting the tiles,” Mazur said.

“They were given templates of the larger design to trace on to the clay tiles. That design would become altered and personalized by students through various sculpting techniques.

“This process allowed students to apply their own unique style and artistic fingerprint to the tiles which in turn made the work unique and one of a kind,” she said.

Students then spent another week glazing and adding color to the tiles. The seventh-graders were in charge of glazing the border tiles, which include the words “Inspire, Love, Imagine, Create, Dream and Believe,” while the eighth-graders were assigned to specific tiles according to their artistic styles.

Those who preferred detailed work were in charge of painting the fish, turtles and smaller coral reef. Others who preferred to work at a faster pace were assigned to water and the larger coral reef.

Mazur said this was a positive experience as “You never heard ‘I’m not artistic’ because everyone was helping each other through the process and fully contributed their own unique abilities.”

Erin Platten, an Oswego Middle School art teacher, was extremely positive concerning the experience.

“She came to me with this huge idea of creating a mural. I could see the passion she had and the excitement, and I do love a good challenge and new opportunities for my students,” Platten said. “She worked very hard to design the project, and put endless hour and purchased many materials.”

“We had many discussions along the way about the process and the outcome and we both learned a lot. I really enjoyed the experience and watching my students learn and grow from a totally different perspective,” Platten said. “They really seemed to enjoy the overall project and it is a lot of fun to watch students, faculty and staff come into my room and ogle over the mural. I can see it being a conversation piece for years to come.”

Mazur noted there is further credit that needs to be given.

“Once we had all the tiles fired and out of the kiln, they were ready to be installed,” she said. “Albert Lemire, an employee of Raby’s ACE Hardware story in Oswego, donated his time to install the mural on the wall. The final mural would not have been possible without him.”

Patten noted, “The mural is beautiful and a real testament to Cassie’s love and devotion for teaching. She will be a wonderful teacher, and I think that by beginning big and being successful she will go forth and do amazing things.””

Oswego County health clinics scheduled

The Oswego County Health Department offers a variety of services to all residents of Oswego County, including preventive health services, certified home health care, long-term home health care, certified hospice, and a maternal and child health program.

Walk-in influenza clinics are held weekdays from 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. at the Nick Sterio Public Health Clinic, 70 Bunner St., Oswego for people age 19 and older. No appointment is needed; walk-ins are welcome.

Children’s flu vaccine is available every Tuesday from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. in Oswego, and the third Tuesday of every month from 9 to 11 a.m. at the H. Douglas Barclay Courthouse, Pulaski.

The children’s flu vaccine is available at no cost to all children who qualify for the Vaccines for Children Program provided by the New York State Department of Health.

For those who do not qualify, the cost is $37 for the inactivated vaccine (the shot) and $43 for the flu-mist (nasal vaccine).

Patients with private insurance, Managed Medicaid, Managed Medicare, Medicaid, Medicare, and Medicare Part B should bring their benefit cards with them to the immunization clinic.

No one will be turned away due to inability to pay.

The following services will be offered during the week of Dec. 16 at the Nick Sterio Public Health Clinic, 70 Bunner St., Oswego, and the H. Douglas Barclay Courthouse, Pulaski.


Adult Influenza Clinic: Monday through Friday, 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m., walk-in clinic.

Immunization Clinic: Tuesday, Dec. 17, 12:30 to 3:30 p.m., walk-in clinic.

Pregnancy Testing: Free pregnancy testing is available. Call 349-3391 to schedule an appointment.

Sexually Transmitted Disease Testing and Treatment Services: Call 349-3547 to schedule an appointment.

HIV Counseling and Testing Service: Call 349-3547 to schedule an appointment


Immunization Clinic: Tuesday, Dec. 17, 9 to 11 a.m., walk-in clinic.

Immunization clinics are held every Tuesday from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. at 70 Bunner St, Oswego, and the third Tuesday of every month from 9 to 11 a.m. at the H. Douglas Barclay Courthouse, Pulaski.

For more information about public health services, contact the Oswego County Health Department, weekdays at 349-3547 or (800) 596-3200, extension 3547.

Faith partnership helps fill kids’ bellies on the weekend

By Debra J. Groom

A number of children in the Oswego and Fulton school district do not go hungry on the weekends anymore thanks to the Episcopal-Lutheran Faith Partnership of Oswego and Fulton and its participation in the Blessings in a Backpack program.

The program, which began in 2005 in two schools in Louisville, Ky., provides backpacks of food for needy children to take home over the weekend.

The faith partnership began the program the second week of this school year and church members get together at the end of each week to fill bags with food for the children.

Beth Hallinan, of Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, Oswego, said children receiving the bags are selected by school nurses, social workers and psychologists. Children are from families that qualify for the federal Free and Reduced Price Meal program.

At the beginning of the school year, the church members packed 25 bags each for children at Leighton Elementary in Oswego and Volney Elementary in Fulton.

“But then an anonymous donor allowed us to expand that to 50 bags at each school each week,” Hallinan said.

A donation of $80 will provide a bag for one child each week of the school year.

More than 62 percent of children in the United States are fed meals at school, but often there isn’t much food for them when they are at home on the weekends.

Long-term childhood hunger can lead to a weaker immune system, increases hospitalizations and impaired neural development which can hamper a child’s ability to learn in school, according to a fact sheet issued by Blessings in a Backpack.

Hallinan said the program used to use actual backpacks, but officials were having difficulties getting the bags back, cleaning them and keeping them in good condition. So now the food is sent home in plastic bags.

The faith partnership consists of Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in Oswego and Prince of Peace Evangelical Lutheran Church in Fulton.

Christmas event tonight for some OCO consumers

By Debra J. Groom

For the second year, it will be a Merry Christmas for people in the transitional living programs at Oswego County Opportunities.

Tonight, 40 people, some homeless, some struggling with mental illness or drug or alcohol problems, will gather in fellowship to share in the goodness of the season.

They will eat a tasty meal, talk, sing holiday songs and even laugh. And everyone will receive a Christmas gift.

Betsy Copps, director of information and compliance and corporate compliance officer for OCO, said the community comes together to make this a special Christmas treat for these OCO consumers.

OCO Transportation Services is providing a bus to transport 22 consumers and staff from Arbor House and the Chemical Dependency Transitional Living Apartments.

The person driving the bus is doing so for free.

Prince of Peace Lutheran Church is donating space and the use of its fellowship hall and kitchen for the dinner.

Lakeview Lakes is donating table settings, including plates, bowls, cups, saucers and utensils for the meal.

OCO staff is donating its time to be hosts and servers during the dinner while employees who can’t be there are baking pies, cakes and cookies for everyone’s sweet tooth.

And to top it off, a group from Calvary Baptist Church has donated bags of gifts, such as food, hats, games and Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards, so all can share in the season.

“Money is so tight right now that it’s wonderful that people want to donate for this,” Copps said.

Copps said Oswego County Opportunities offers a variety of transitional living options for people or families suffering through chronic homelessness, coping with mental illness or overcoming a chemical dependency.

The problem is, these people often are forgotten at the holidays.

“Some people don’t have home and family support in place,” she said. “Some may not have a place to go for the holidays. This provides a human connection. They can enjoy being together and feel cared for.”

Oswego County Opportunities provides a variety of transitional living options for individuals or families experiencing one or more of the following situations:

Chronic homelessness; learning to cope with mental illness; overcoming drug or alcohol dependency; youth homelessness.

The agency operates apartments as well as residences where consumers in need of these services can receive the necessary supports to successfully make the transition back into the community.

Supports include counseling, goal planning, life skill development and improvement, job readiness training, literacy services, connecting and referring to medical and professional services outside OCO, case management, advocacy, victim assistance and crisis intervention.

OCO serves about 175 consumers annually through these types of programs.

As of Monday, no cause yet determined in Sorbello onion farm fire


By Debra J. Groom

Two days after a devastating fire at the Sorbello and Sons onion farm in Granby, crates of onions and the building were still smoldering.

These photos were taken Thursday Dec. 5 by Duane St. Onge.

The fire occurred at about 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3 and destroyed the large barn at the farm.

Morris Sorbello said the barn was actually three parts connected by tunnels. Nearly the entire crop of onions was being stored in the building.

Sorbello said Monday (Dec. 9) investigators still are combing through the piles of burning crates and onions trying to determine the cause of the fire.

The area was still smoldering Monday morning — in fact, Sorbello said the fire department was called out again Sunday night when a 3- to 4-foot high fire erupted.

Once the investigators are done with their work, Sorbello will begin disposing of the piles and piles of burned crates and onions. He hopes to be able to bury them in a huge hole on his farm.

“It’s the most economical method,” he said.

The crates, which are made of wood, and the onions would decompose in the ground.

City completes first round of budget talks

By Ashley M. Casey

Mayor Ronald L. Woodward Sr. announced Tuesday that the Fulton Common Council has worked out a preliminary budget for 2014. He stressed that many changes are still to come before the budget is presented for a public hearing, the date of which is to be announced.

Under the current version of the budget, taxes would increase 27.864 percent, bringing the tax rate up to .021789. Woodward said this rate was by no means the final rate.

The public hearing date will be announced at a community development meeting 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17, at the Fulton Municipal building. The Common Council is holding a budget workshop immediately after the meeting.

See the rest of the story in the Saturday, Dec. 14, edition of The Valley News. Call 598-6397 to subscribe.

Alternate side winter parking in effect as of Dec. 11 in Oswego

Mayor Thomas Gillen said the city’s “Alternate-Side Parking Restriction” will begin at 1 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 11.

During this time, parking on city streets must be done on an odd-even schedule. This means on an odd numbered day, for example Dec. 15, parking must be done on the odd side of the street, such as the side where houses numbered 103 and 107 are located. On even numbered days, such as Dec. 14, parking must be done from 1 to 6 a.m. on even numbered sides of the street.

This is in addition to, and not in lieu of, any other permanent parking restriction that may apply.

Simply remember — On even calendar days, park on the even side of the street, and on odd calendar days, park on the odd side of the street.

If parking a vehicle for the night prior to midnight, be sure to park where parking is regularly permitted and on the correct side for the next day (1 to 6 a.m.)

And be aware of instances where the last day of the month and the first day of the month are both odd-numbered days.

Permanent signs have been installed in the downtown area (West Bridge Street from Water Street to West 2nd Street, and West First Street and West Second Street, from West Oneida Street to West Cayuga Street) indicating “NO PARKING -1:00 am to 6:00 am.”  Please note that these “NO PARKING” signs are just for the posted hours, 1 to 6 a.m. and not intended for any other time of the day.