Category Archives: Featured Stories

Fulton school board appoints new principal, math coach

By Debra J. Groom

The Fulton school district hired a new principal for Volney Elementary School at its meeting Tuesday night.

Lisa Garofalo, who has worked for many years in the Syracuse City School District, will begin as the new Volney principal on Jan. 6. She will earn $91,500 a year.

Superintendent William Lynch said Garofalo is new to the Fulton district and previously was assistant principal at the West Side Academy in Syracuse. She also worked at Seymour Elementary and was an assistant principal at Ed Smith Elementary in Syracuse. She was principal of special education and pre-kindergarten at Herkimer County BOCES and taught math in the Whitesboro school district in Oneida County.

She received her bachelor’s degree from SUNY Geneseo, her master’s in special education from the College of St. Rose in Albany and her certificate of advanced study from SUNY Cortland.

The previous Volney principal Jeff Hendrickson was moved to the principal job at Lanigan Elementary at the beginning of the year due to a new policy that states spouses cannot work at the same school.

Former Superintendent Michael Egan has been filling in a interim principal.

In other business Tuesday night, the school board had the first reading of the new fragrance policy for the district. Lynch said the policy was studied and went through two months of discussion in the board’s policy committee before coming to the full board.

He said the policy sets a statement about fragrances in the district and “what factors impact people’s health.” He said the policy contains voluntary compliance and is primarily one to raise awareness amongst staff and students on items that could be offensive to some people.

The policy came about when science teacher Colleen O’Brien told the district she suffers from multiple chemical sensitivity and was bothered by various fragrances in school. She told the school board at a previous meeting that students would deliberately spray fragrances in front of her classroom to trigger an attack of her illness.

O’Brien has said in the past she supports the district enacting a fragrance-free policy for its buildings.

The policy will have its second reading and will be voted on at the school board’s Dec. 10 meeting.

Also Tuesday night, the board hired a teacher who will work as an instructional coach for math teachers in grades kindergarten through eight.

Lynnette DePoint, who currently works in the Hannibal school district, will help teachers deal with Common Core requirements in math. She will be paid a base salary of $56,765 a year and a stipend of $5,000.

A Sportman’s World, by Leon Archer

By Leon Archer

My brother, Warren, was five years older than me.

He had his own older friends who weren’t interested in my hanging around with them, and in all honesty, I had no desire to hang around with him and his friends either.

There were only two exceptions to that mutually acceptable separation – hunting and fishing. I fished with Warren whenever he gave me the opportunity, but it wasn’t until I was nearly a teen that he went out of his way to take me with him.

Hunting was a little different story. When I was about 9 or 10, I got the chance to go with Warren and my father as they hunted together. I had to walk behind my father, but I didn’t care, and I did get to take my BB gun with me.

It was all so exciting for me, especially when they would shoot at a rabbit or partridge, or even a grey squirrel in the limbs high above us.

I got the job of carrying whatever they shot. It wasn’t child abuse, it was a labor of love. Warren became a pretty good shot during the two years that he apprenticed with my father, and once he was 16, dad let him go hunting on his own, confident that he would be fine.

My father was not a big time small game hunter; although, when the time arrived, he came out of retirement long enough to get me through my two years of being a junior hunter.

I was especially fortunate that none of Warren’s friends were all that interested in hunting, so when he started hunting on his own he often took me with him. My job was to jump on all the brush piles the farmers had made in the fields. Back then, just about every third pile of brush could be counted on to have a cottontail hiding in it.

I also took it upon myself to walk through big clumps of low juniper bushes which were fairly consistent rabbit holders as well. Warren knocked off a good percentage of the fleeing cottontails, so I often found myself carrying three or four rabbits by the time we headed for home.

My best memories are of the times that Warren would bring down a partridge. To my way of thinking, the Ruffed Grouse was (and still is) the premier game bird, even more so than the gaudy ring necked pheasant that I also love to hunt.

I had the greatest admiration for my brother’s shooting ability when it came to grouse. I was present many times when he quickly zeroed in on a rapidly disappearing bird with a load of sixes.

I can close my eyes and picture a spot that my brother and I never failed to check out for birds when we were hunting in the fields and woods in back of our house in Sandy Creek. The lots and the adjoining woods belonged to a dairy farmer, Mr. Allen, who had no objection to our hunting there as long as we didn’t disturb his herd of Guernsey cows, and we took full advantage of the opportunity.

The spot I am writing about was at the edge of the fields that comprised Mr. Allen’s pasture. On one side there was a stand of new poplar saplings that jutted out into the field.

Walking farther west after clearing the thicket of saplings (which itself often concealed grouse or wood cock) we would come to what is my favorite grouse spot of all time. There had been an apple orchard there countless years before, and a couple of long untended trees still managed to survive. They continued to bear well year after year, and the fruit was a magnet for every partridge living in the big woods beyond.

My brother took his share of unlucky grouse from that locale each year he hunted, and I followed suit in the years after he moved away. I have many memories of that tiny portion of my world, but the best is of the first time my brother shot a partridge there.

It had thundered out from underneath one of the apple trees as we approached, putting leaves and apples between himself and my brother. Warren had been tracking the bird even as he brought the gun up to his shoulder.

He shot quickly, directly through the leaves that pretty much obscured the bird, but instinctively targeting the spot where the bird should be.

A moment later, I could hear a putt, putt, putt sound. I did not know what it was then, but like most every other grouse hunter, I have learned it indicates a successful hunt.

It is the sound of wings still reflexively beating, in their diminishing futile attempt to carry the now dead bird to safety. Running underneath that apple tree, I found the bird about 30 feet beyond, while its wings still jerked spasmodically. In moments; however, all movement ceased as I clutched the limp, beautiful warm bird in my hands.

I admired the exquisite brown patterned feathers of its back, the black ruff around its collar, and the long, barred feathers of the tail fan. The breast feathers were darkly barred over a creamy white.

As I held that bird, exulting in the feat I had observed, and feeling  that somehow I was at least a small part of it, for some reason I was drawn to smell of its warm body. I can still smell it today.

It was the wild smell of the woods, the fallen leaves and the ripe apples, yet that poor description does not truly do it justice. Over the years I have shot many grouse, but I have never failed to bury my nose in the feathers of each and breathe in that day once more.

I would give a great deal to be able to hunt grouse just once more with my brother on a warm October day, and match skill and wits with those magnificent birds. Perhaps there will come a day.

Who knows? I for one have no problem with the American Indians’ description of Heaven as the Happy Hunting Grounds, but if it exists, it must contain Heavenly wild apple trees and celestial grouse.

SUNY Oswego alum returns to campus to perform all roles in ‘A Christmas Carol’

Submitted by SUNY Oswego

Actor and SUNY Oswego alumnus Carl Whidden will present “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens — performing all of the characters himself — at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, in Hewitt Union ballroom at SUNY Oswego.

While versions of the holiday classic fill many stages this season, Whidden’s evening in Oswego offers a fresh approach to the story.

The veteran artist and 1975 Oswego graduate brings Dickens’ characters to life, from nocturnal spirits to the boy who fetches a turkey on Christmas morning.

For Whidden, his challenging one-actor presentation is also a theatrical homecoming.

Forty years ago this month, he was tapped as a college junior to play Scrooge in the memorable staging conceived, scripted and directed by the late Rosemary S. Nesbitt, then a member of the theatre faculty.

“Having seen Carl’s portrayal of Scrooge in that production, I look forward to experiencing the complete story through his gifts for storytelling,” said Mark Cole, professor of theatre specializing in acting and directing.

“He brings a perfect combination of empathy and humor to comic vignettes like the party given by Mr. Fezziwig and the touching moments with the Cratchit family,” Cole said. “Dickens’ wit and generosity of spirit will come alive in Carl’s performance.”

For the notable 1973 production, Nesbitt re-fashioned the stage to resemble a 19th century Oswego theatre known as Doolittle Hall — complete with a painted Victorian act curtain.

That setting allowed her to add dramatic embellishments to the production like a cameo appearance by Dickens himself. Her research showed the British author could well have visited Oswego during his American tour of 1867.

“Dickens himself often went on the road performing excerpts from his novels, so Carl follows in a time honored tradition,” adds Cole.

Memories of ‘73

More than 150 participants, both college students and children of the community were recruited for six performances in December 1973.

Nesbitt added engaging elements like snowball fights and audience sing-alongs to Dickens’ basic storyline.

Carl Whidden hopes many who remember that ambitious production will attend his performance as a 40th anniversary celebration. His characterizations will be based on Nesbitt’s original script.

Artwork from the 1973 production, loaned by Ellen Stengel Wahl, will be on view following the program. Wahl, who served as a student scene designer that year, now directs the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of Oswego County in the college’s Office of Business and Community Relations. Her husband, Mark Wahl, designed the original lighting.

When John Shaffer, Artswego coordinator for the college, called Ellen Wahl this spring, she knew right where to find the renderings she’d done for the Nesbitt production.

“I had made Christmas presents of them to my parents,” Wahl said. She retrieved, from her mother’s former home on Long Island, the 15- by 30-inch sketches that had been enlarged to 15 by 30 feet, loaning them to Artswego’s present-day performance by that long-ago “Scrooge.”

“What a great idea” of Whidden’s, Wahl said. “Forty years — I think it’s so cool. “

Tickets for “A Christmas Carol” with Carl Whidden cost $18 ($5 for students and children).

For more information, an artist video and a link for ticket purchases, visit Tickets also may be purchased at any SUNY Oswego box office location, online at or by calling 312-2141.

Patrons with disabilities needing assistance should call 312-2141 prior to the performance. Parking is included in the cost of the ticket, and is available in the employee and commuter lots in front of and to the east of Culkin Hall. Hewitt Union may be entered from the east or west sides.

County health clinics set for week of Dec. 2

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 from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. every Tuesday in Oswego, and from 9 to 11 a.m. the third Tuesday of every month 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. 2 at the Nick Sterio Public Health Clinic, 70 Bunner St., Oswego.

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

**  Immunization Clinic: Tuesday, Dec. 3, 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 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, ext. 3547.

The Rev. Anne Wichelns enters ministry

A church full of parishioners, two area bishops and musical performances were  part of the celebration at Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, Oswego, Nov. 21 as the Rev. Anne Wichelns was installed as assistant priest for the Episcopal-Lutheran Faith Partnership of Oswego and Fulton.

Wichelns, who previously worked as an English teacher in the Indian River High School and a facilitator for a school based drug abuse prevention program, is a welcome addition to a faith partnership that includes Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in Oswego, Prince of Peace Evangelical Lutheran Church in Fulton.

Wichelns, who also shares time with St. Andrew’s Shared Presbyterian/Episcopal Ministry in Evans Mills, is excited about putting her experience in faith partnerships to work.

“As we move forward our challenge is how we live together as a community.  Why do we gather, and what is the benefit of sharing our faith? By sharing our resources and our talents we have full ministry in all churches and we can grow together,” she said. “This is an exciting time.”

One of Wichelns’ duties will be to focus on youth and their families.

“The cultural shift that has taken place over the past few years has lessened the role that the church plays in many people’s lives. Work schedules and children’s activities can make it difficult for young families to be actively involved with their church,” she said.

“I will be reaching out to parishioners of all three churches and discovering ways in which we can better accommodate them and make it possible for them to become more involved with their church.”

The celebration was followed by a reception with light refreshments in the church’s Great Hall.

‘Christmas at Sea’ sails into Oswego Dec. 8

Only in Oswego does Santa Claus arrive on a boat.

Come to the H. Lee White Marine Museum from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Dec. 8 for “Christmas at Sea,” the annual open house during the holiday season in Oswego’s gaily decorated “Historic Maritime District.“

Munch on homemade cookies while enjoying the uniquely decorated holiday trees. This year’s theme trees will highlight snow and ice, lighthouses, canoes and sailboats.

Model train displays will be exhibited throughout the building courtesy of the Oswego Valley Railroad Association and Museum.

A vintage Waterfront Village is featured under the 10-foot high Christmas tree.

At 2 p.m., Santa Claus will arrive by U.S. Coast Guard Cutter and there is no need to have your child wait in a long line to see him!

Unlike the mall, children will have plenty to do as they participate in crafts, listen to festive stories, hear music or watch the train display run while waiting to take their turn. Santa will not leave until he hears every child’s wish.

The Museum and Treasure Chest Gift Shop are open daily 1 to 5 p.m.

Call 342-0480 or visit or for more information.

Severe weather expert, SUNY Oswego grad, speaks on campus Dec. 6

Submitted by SUNY Oswego

James Ladue, a SUNY Oswego alumnus and national weather scientist, will speak from 3 to 4 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, in Room 175 of the college’s Richard S. Shineman Center for Science, Engineering and Innovation.

Ladue will talk about extreme natural disasters, as well as how to improve communications with the public and the resiliency of our communities to severe weather.

Last May, two tornadoes ripped across Oklahoma, including the Oklahoma City metro area, killing 25 people and wounding 390 more. Less than two weeks later, a third tornado ripped through Oklahoma, injuring and killing scores more, including professional and amateur storm chasers.

Ladue will discuss these tragic events and what meteorologists are doing to improve forecasting.

With more than 20 years of experience as a meteorologist, Ladue works as a meteorologist instructor at the National Weather Service Warning Decision Training Branch in Norman, Okla., a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The office is responsible for training National Weather Service personnel on warning methodology and situation awareness to better serve the public in hazardous weather warning situations.

Ladue earned a bachelor’s degree in meteorology from SUNY Oswego in 1986. His previous work experience includes creating new satellite-based techniques to assist in improved forecasting of short-term hazardous weather.

The event is free and open to the public.

Ladue’s presentation is part of the Science Today Lecture Series, which brings together top names and developments from throughout the sciences, while also showing how the different avenues of science intersect. The content is geared toward a general audience.

Parking on campus for those without a current SUNY Oswego parking sticker is $1. Visit for information on obtaining a day-use permit.

For more information, contact Stephanie Lamb at or 312-2258.

Unemployment rate improves in Oswego County

By Debra J. Groom

Oswego County’s unemployment rate still is the highest in Central New York, according to figures released Tuesday by the state Labor Department.

Oswego County came in at 8 percent for October 2013. Only Jefferson County to the north has a higher rate at 8.7 percent.

But the Labor Department did have some good news. Oswego County’s 8 percent unemployment rate was down from the 8.7 percent in September 2013 and also is much improved over the 9.4 percent rate from a year ago in October 2012.

But still, Oswego County is slow to create jobs and see improvement in its economy compared to other Central New York counties.

Karen Knapik-Scalzo, a statistician with the Central New York region of the Labor Department headquartered in Syracuse, said Oswego County struggles with two problems.

One is the county is rural and doesn’t have as much industry as other counties like Onondaga. Second,   50 percent of its jobs are in two industry sectors: government (federal, state, local governments and schools) and utilities (such as National Grid, cable and the nuclear plants).

“In the metro Syracuse area of Madison, Onondaga and Oswego counties, the government sector overall was up 200 jobs for the year,” Knapik-Scalzo said. “And utilities sector jobs for the three-county area were pretty much even.”

Knapik-Scalzo said Oswego County always is in the top 10 for counties with the highest unemployment rates in New York state.

Unemployment across the region

Counties    Oct. 2013    Sept. 2013    Oct. 2012

Oswego           8.0                 8.7                     9.4

Onondaga       6.7                6.9                     7.7

Madison         6.7                 6.9                     7.8

Cayuga           6.5                  6.5                       7.4

Cortland        7.1                   7.1                       7.6

Oneida           7.2                  7.5                        8.1