Category Archives: Featured Stories

Masonic War Vets present gifts to VA Hospital patients

On Thanksgiving morning, Post 43 of the Masonic War Veterans in Oswego visited the VA Hospital in Syracuse to present gift baskets to more than 130 male and female patients.

The baskets were filled with special items of treats and needed items of hats, mittens and hand-knitted or crocheted lap blankets along with socks, gloves, sundries, T-shirts and more.

The Post also presented a fresh fruit bag to each patient, cheerfully delivered while singing Christmas carols.

The Post members and volunteers brought along professional clowns in tow and greeted the medical staff as well as the hospitalized veterans on this holiday.

Many volunteers came from area CNY Masonic Lodges on Thanksgiving morning to assist Post 43 in this annual true example of freemasonry at large.

Ages 13 to 80-plus arrived at 8 a.m. in the light snow to assemble the gift baskets in the VA Hospital auditorium before delivering to the seven floors.

Donations are encouraged each year, all year long to Post 43 so these American heroes may be honored on a day where many would not see a visitor otherwise.

For example, this month a very successful benefit breakfast buffet was held at Lake City Masonic Lodge No. 127 in Oswego to help fund this annual Thanksgiving tradition started decades ago by Post 43.

Everyone in the community who attended that breakfast helped to make this event possible.

Freemasonry is the oldest and largest fraternal organization in the world consisting of more than 6 million men from all walks of life.

Charity is a tenet of freemasonry. Across the U.S. Masons donate about $2 million dollars daily.

To become a member of the Masonic War Veterans, a man must be active in the Masonic Lodge and have been a veteran with military service.

Anyone interested in becoming a member, or wishing to make a donation, should call Commander Carl Hoyt Sr. at 383-2274.

Oswego city taxes up about 80 percent in proposed city budget

By Debra J. Groom

Oswego city residents could see their taxes go up nearly 80 percent if the proposed 2014 city budget is adopted by the Common Council.

But Mayor Thomas Gillen is hoping work with the council in coming weeks will find some places to cut in the plan. He already cut $65,879 from the budgets submitted to him by department heads.

The proposed budget totals $34,574,842, an increase of 14.2 percent compared to the 2013 budget of $30,112,264.

This is an increase of $4,462,578.

Gillen said this would increase the tax rate paid by residents and businesses from $10.03 per $1,000 to $18.25 per $1,000, up more than 81 percent.

He said it amounts to about an additional $575 in taxes for people who own an average home in Oswego assessed at $70,000.

“By all means, I am not minimizing this at all,” Gillen said. “That’s a lot of money to people.”

He said one reason taxes are going up is the city has lost more than $48 million in assessed value. He said the Port of Oswego and Oswego Hospital — both tax exempt entities — have bought up land whose owners used to pay taxes on that land.

Other budget increases came in the following:

A loss of $804,879 in non-property revenue. Gillen said this is items such as reduced payments to the city by Brookfield Power and National Grid for use of hydrostations on the Oswego River.

Mandated retirement rates. Gillen said the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System rate is increasing from 25.1 percent to 28.4 percent. The Employees Retirement System rates are increasing from 18.5 percent to 22 percent.

Affordable Care Act. Mandates a 2.3 percent increase for Medicare contracts and a 8.46 percent increase in insurer fees for active and non-Medicare contracts.

Union contracts. Gillen said constracts with the city’s unions resulted in higher pay for workers, lump sum payouts and retirement cost increases.

Gillen also said in his budget message:

“We also have to prepare ourselves for the potential loss of revenue in on-going and future negotiations with NRG, National Grid and the Metropolitan Water Board,” which own property in the city.

Gillen said the proposed budget includes no layoffs or cuts in city services. No elected officials are getting raises.

In his budget message, Gillen said if all new positions were removed from the budget, the tax rate would decrease to about $17.46 a $1,000. If all equipment purchases also were removed, the tax rate would be about $17.18 per $1,000.

If the city did both, the tax rate would be about $16.39 per $1,000 of assessed value.

“For every $1 million we cut from the budget, the rate changes by $1 per $1,000,” Gillen said in his budget message.

Other areas where the city saw decreases in revenue was in fewer launches at its marina, Medicare subsidies, loss of revenue from Midtown Plaza redevelopment and a new hotel due to lawsuits.

Even with the increase, Gillen believes Oswego residents get a lot for their money.

“They get ambulance, fire, police, DPW, clearing of leaves, parks and recreation. The value of living is a safe and clean city is worth something.”

For about four years straight, Oswego’s tax rate didn’t change, staying at $8.98 per $1,000. then it went up to $10.03 a $1,000

Gillen said Oswego’s rate for 2013 still is below most cities close to its 18,200 population: Amsterdam, 18,620, 2013 rate of $13.07; Auburn, 27,000, rate of $13.05; Cortland, 19,204, rate of $15.34; Ogdensburg, 11,000, rate of $16.75.

Bodley grad completes infantry training

Army Pfc. Sean L. LaBeef, a 2005 graduate of G. Ray Bodley High School in Fulton, has graduated from basic infantry training at Fort Benning, Columbus, Ga.

During the nine weeks of training, LeBeef received training in drill and ceremonies, weapons, map reading, tactics, military courtesy, military justice, physical fitness, first aid, and Army history, core values and traditions.

Additional training included development of basic combat skills and battlefield operations and tactics, and experiencing use of various weapons and weapons defenses available to the infantry crewman.

LaBeef is the son of Charles Knapp and Yvette LaBeef of Fulton.

He earned an associate degree in 2008 from Herkimer County Community College.

Lions barbecue benefits scholarship

The Fulton Lions Club has announced it will host its eighth annual chicken barbecue from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday Feb. 9 at the Fulton Polish Home.

The barbecue benefits the club’s Mary and Harold “H” Dowd Memorial Scholarship, said Don LaBarge, Fulton Lions president.

“This year, the tickets may be purchased in advance,” LaBarge said. “All tickets purchased before Jan. 9, 2014 will be entered in a drawing for a $50 Struppler’s Market gift card, or a Struppler’s $50 Valero gas card.

Barbecue Chairman Ken Ruscitto is selling the advance tickets; he can be reached at 427-1629.

Chicken dinner tickets may also be purchased for at the door for takeout, Ruscitto said.

Local delivery of five or more dinners may be pre-arranged by contacting any Lions Club member in advance of the event or by calling Ruscitto at 427-1629 on the day of the event.

In addition, there will be a 50-50 drawing that day.

The chicken, as last year, will be barbequed by Jim Aluzzi of Kristen’s Kitchen & Catering, Fulton, who is donating his time and equipment.

Each dinner features chicken, baked beans, salt potatoes, macaroni salad and dessert.

“We also want to thank Chris Satchel and Mimi’s Drive–In for donating macaroni salad to our event,” said Lion Charles McIntyre, event co-chair.

“Harold ‘H’ Dowd was a member of the Fulton Lions Club for more than 40 years,” LaBarge said. “ He served both our club and our community with dedication, selflessness and good humor.

Mary Dowd was an honorary Fulton Lions Club member who always opened her home to the club and to foreign exchange students for years. The Fulton Lions have established a scholarship for a graduating Fulton high school student in their name to be awarded on a yearly basis.”

For more information, contact Ruscitto at 427-1629. For more information on the Fulton Lions Club or membership with the club, visit fultonlionsclub.org.

Homeschool program finishes fall co-op

Oswego County LEAH (Loving Education at Home) announces the completion of its Homeschool fall cooperative.

Twice a year, homeschool students gather at the Christian Missionary Alliance Church in Fulton.

Classes are offered from preschool to high school, with a nursery available.

Once in the fall and once in the spring, area homeschoolers gather on eight consecutive Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to noon.

This year’s fall co-op ran from Sept.  17 to Nov. 12 and was comprised of nearly 150 children.

These three hours are divided into three 45-minute class periods with multiple choices available for each grade level.

Parent taught classes such as Shakespeare, Reader’s Theater, Magnetism and Electricity, Sewing and Gym were just a few of the class subjects available this co-op.

Co-op provides a chance for social interaction and supplements studies done at home.

Anyone interested in co-op or joining LEAH is invited to visit its website at homeschool-life.com.

LEAH is a nationwide homeschool group was founded in 1983 to allow homeschoolers to connect with, support, and encourage one another.

Oswego schools alive with the sounds of holiday music

This is the time of year for Oswego school district students to display their musical talents.

All concerts are open to the public.

Here is a concert list:

7 p.m., Monday, Dec. 9, Fitzhugh Park band, orchestra and chorus

7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10, Kingsford Park band, chorus and orchestra

7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 11, Charles E. Riley band, chorus and orchestra

7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12, Oswego Middle School choral

7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13, Oswego High School orchestra

7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 16, Oswego High School choral

7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17, Oswego Middle School band and orchestra

7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 18, Oswego Jazz Band

Honor Society offers peer tutoring at G. Ray Bodley High

Submitted by Oswego County BOCES

The National Honor Society Chapter at G. Ray Bodley High School offers free academic assistance to students at the school through a tutoring program.

The peer-assistant program is managed by honor society member volunteers and is offered three days per week — Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays — during the students’ 22-minute guided study hall block.

Students in grades nine through 12 can receive hands-on help through the tutoring program in several subject areas including algebra, geometry, English, social studies, science, French, German and Spanish.

Honor Society Adviser Nate Fasulo oversees the tutoring program and said it is mutually beneficial for both the tutors and the students.

It increases student collaboration as well as reinforces essential college and career-readiness skills such as independence and accountability.

“We encourage our students at GRB to utilize any and all academic recourses to be successful in school,” Fasulo said.

“Our honor society student-tutors are a great resource for students needing some hands-on help with homework or understanding course content,” he added.

For the honor society students, peer-tutoring provides an excellent opportunity to help with interpersonal skills and face-to-face communication skills.

In addition, the students’ participation in the peer-tutoring program fulfills a portion of their NHS community service requirements.

To maintain membership in National Honor Society at G. Ray Bodley, students must participate in at least 12 volunteer hours during a school year.

Through the peer-tutoring program, honor society members can earn up to one hour of volunteer service each school week.

Learning’s a blast at Lanigan Elementary

Sixth-graders at Lanigan Elementary School are having a real ‘blast’ in class this school year.

The students, turned budding scientists, tackled an out-of-this-world science project where they each crafted and launched their very own rocket.

The school’s sixth-grade teachers coordinate a rocketry project each year in conjunction with the classroom study of Isaac Newton’s three laws of motion:

An object at rest will stay at rest unless an external force acts upon it and conversely, an object in motion will stay in motion unless an external force acts upon it.

Force is equal to mass times acceleration of an object; and

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

The students construct model rockets over the course of several school days using kits from the Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES Science Center.

The teachers then host a NASA-inspired launch day for the students.

Parents are invited to join the students for their launch day.

Many of the younger grade levels at the school join the excitement as spectators.