Category Archives: Featured Stories

State finds Fulton in moderate fiscal stress

By Ashley M. Casey

The depletion of Fulton’s available fund balance has brought the city under moderate fiscal stress, according to a new audit from the New York state comptroller.

According to a release from Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, the city’s fund balance fell to $136,068 at the end of 2012, down 84 percent from $841,747 in 2010.

Mayor Ronald L. Woodward Sr. attributed the fiscal stress to the poor economy, rising employee costs and declining property values.

“We’re doing our best,” Woodward said.

In an effort to cut costs, the city of Fulton has reduced its workforce by 10 percent in the last three years. Fulton has also reduced aid to the local library and ended ambulance contracts. These measures have saved the city about $800,000 since 2010.

“We’re not squandering money,” Woodward said. “We don’t even have a full-time attorney.” The mayor said he has been prosecuting most of the claims in code court himself.

“There’s only so much you can cut and still plow the roads,” the mayor added.

Fulton has applied to the state’s Financial Restructuring Board for Local Governments to aid in the process of solving the city’s financial woes. The FRB will closely review the city’s finances and make recommendations for generating revenue and cutting costs. The board may also be able to make grants or loans of up to $5 million through the Local Government Performance and Efficiency Program.

City officials have reviewed the comptroller’s audit and have agreed to take corrective action. The full report is available at


Oswego lawyer keynote speaker at women’s conference

Kimberly A. Steele, managing attorney of The Steele Law Firm, was one of the keynote speakers at the The Business of Women’s 10th Annual Conference in Watertown Nov. 20 held by the Watertown Small Business Development Center.

Steele talked on “How to Protect Your Business and Yourself.”

“This conference also its participants excellent networking opportunities and to hear first-hand the experiences and lessons learned by all of us in the course of business,” she said.

For informatin about The Steele Law Firm, call 216-4721 or visit the website at

Community Thanksgiving Dinner seeks donations, volunteer help

Financial donations and volunteer help are needed for this year’s Community Thanksgiving Dinner from noon to 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 28 at First United Church of Fulton at 33 South Third Street in Fulton.

The free sit-down dinner is open to everyone, and features a complete Thanksgiving Dinner and an opportunity for good food and fellowship.

Checks can be sent to the First United Church of Fulton, 33 S. Third St., Fulton, 13069. Interested volunteers may call Dinner Chairperson Carol Dexter at  592-5162.

An organizing committee consisting of representatives of several Fulton churches and the Salvation Army is busy planning the eighth annual dinner. “It has become such a community effort and wonderful holiday tradition,” Dexter said. “Over 200 meals were served last year.”

Farfaglia to give another presentation on his muck farming book

Jim Farfaglia will give another presentation on his book about local muck farms at 3 p.m. Sunday Nov. 24 at the Fulton Public Library.

Farfaglia recently released a book about the history of muck farms in Oswego County. He will present a slideshow and read excerpts from his book. Farfaglia recently presented the program to a capacity crowd and decided to schedule a second one.

“The response from the public was overwhelming,” Farfaglia explained, “and I believe this is because there is a lot of interest in muck farming here in Central New York. Many people know muck farm families and some have worked on their farms over the years. I enjoy doing this program because it gives me a chance to talk about this unique type of farming and to offer some of the rich stories farmers shared with me.”

Farfaglia interviewed about 35 muck farmers, their family members, neighbors, workers and agricultural specialists and used the interviews, along with photographs and maps, to create the book.

During the Nov. 24 program, Farfaglia will share highlights from the book, call on those in the audience with muck farming ties to offer their memories, and answer questions about his research and creation of the book.

Copies of the book will be available to buy. Refreshments will be served. Call the Fulton Library at 592-5159 or Farfaglia at for more information.

Volney board hears update on water districts

By Scott Allardice

The Volney town board Nov. 13 heard an update on the progress of several water districts in the town.

Bob Guminiak, an engineer with the firm C2AE, reported the MacDougall 6/45 water district work is nearly done.

“By the 1st of December everything should be done,” Guminiak said. The contractor has installed all the pipe, fire hydrants, made all the connections to existing water mains and completed work on virtually all the water service lines for customers.

Restoration of the ground in the project area will probably have to wait until spring, but before winter “all disturbed areas will be mulched with hay,” he said.

The new water mains are being pressure tested and chlorinated, in preparation for seeking health department approval for the system.

Once the system is approved, customers can begin hooking up to the water system. While homeowners are responsible for the costs of their hookup to the system, “The homeowners don’t have to buy the meters, the project is paying for them,” Guiminiak said.

Guminiak also reported on the progress of the proposed Airport Water District Extension #2. The project recently received approval from the state comptroller, but suffered a setback when the project’s projected interest rate jumped from 2.75 percent to 3.75 percent.

“That was unusual,” Guminiak said. He said the higher interest rate raises the project’s proposed costs for customers above earlier estimates. The funding proposal has been adjusted, with the federal government pledging more grant money.

“They’re anticipating it (the interest rate) will go down in January,” Guminiak said. “If it drops a quarter of a point we’re good.” If the rate fails to drop or goes up, the project may have to go back to the public for approval.

Another proposed water project, the Sherman Road – County Route 57 South Water District Extension #1, was also discussed.

The project would serve eight parcels that were left out an earlier 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. “They call all the time,” Supervisor Dennis Lockwood said.

Guminiak worked a plan to add the new users into the exiting district at a cost of $478 annually for five years. After the five years, the new users would pay “the exact same rates as the people in the existing district,” Guminiak said.

The additional customers in the district could actually help reduce the $374 annual cost during the last 33 years of the project’s loan repayment.

In other business:

1) The board discussed whether the town should continue selling licenses for the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Hunting, fishing and trapping license sales are sold by the town using a computer supplied by the DEC. After Dec. 1, the DEC will reclaim its computer and town clerk Barbara Mac Ewen was unsure if the sales could continue using her computer or if the town would have to purchase additional equipment.

“Do I really want to keep selling licenses for a 3 percent return,” Mac Ewen said, citing the town’s share of the license revenue. “But we need to keep doing it for the convenience of the people,” she added.

Councilor Kevin Kio asked about the town’s revenues and “if it’s cost effective” for the town to continue to provide the service. “We’ll have to look at it,’ he said.

Since the exact revenues, costs and costs to continue service were unknown during the meeting, Lockwood said, “It’s an issue we’ve got to look into.”

Lack of quorum delays Granby budget vote

By Scott Allardice

The Granby town board, already shorthanded due to a resignation, was forced to cancel its meeting Wednesday Nov. 13 when only two of the remaining four board members showed up.

Supervisor Ed Williamson and Councilor Matt Callen sat on the dais at the Granby town hall with the empty chairs and nameplates for councilors Lori Blackburn and Sue Richardson, the two missing board members.

The board lacked the required quorum of three members, so Williamson thanked the 10 members of the public in attendance for coming and announced the meeting was canceled.

Richardson was absent due to a family illness, Williamson said, and she had emailed the town to inform them she would be unable to attend.

At about 7 p.m. when the meeting would normally have started, Deputy Supervisor John Snow texted Blackburn to ask if she was planning to attend. Blackburn’s response, Williamson said, was “no.”

Frustrated, Williamson said, “I can’t imagine why anyone would run for office and then not want to serve.” Blackburn also did not attend an Oct. 9 board meeting and a Sept. 25 meeting, which was also canceled for lack of a quorum. She did attend an Oct. 23 meeting.

The board was scheduled to adopt the town’s preliminary 2014 budget during the regular meeting. State law requires towns to adopt a budget by Nov. 20, which the town may yet do.

Williamson said there’s a public hearing at 6 p.m., Nov. 20 in the Granby Community Center on a proposal to create a new water district. After that meeting, if there are three board members present, Williamson could call an emergency town board meeting to adopt the budget.

But the town’s preliminary budget, Williamson said, “was all set.” The board was set to adopt it and now, with or without a vote Nov. 20, the budget discussed at an Oct. 23 public hearing will become the town’s 2014 spending plan.

The budget holds the line on taxes for the third year in a row, Williamson says. The project town tax rate is $2.46 per $1,000 of assessed value.

In late September, Councilor Joseph Cortini resigned from the board. His seat on the board and Susan Richardson’s were up for election this year. The winners of the Nov. 5 election, Republicans Brenda Frazier-Hartle and Eric Clothier were in attendance at the Nov. 13 meeting.

Sign up now for Wednesday cover photos in The Valley News

As regular readers of The Valley News know very well, each Wednesday’s paper has a photo on the front page highlighting an event coming up in the community.

Organizations, nonprofits and other groups call us to line up this spot in the paper. Our photographer, Kelly LeVea, takes the photos ahead of time and the photos usually run one or two weeks before the event.

The Valley News has some open Wednesday papers coming up for which we have no photos scheduled. They are: Dec. 18, Dec. 26 and and Jan. 8.

We also have no one scheduled for Jan. 22.

If you have an event after but close to one of these dates, give me a call. Debbie Groom, 598-6397, ext. 31.

Follow these tips to get photographs into The Valley News

We at The Valley News love photographs.

We love photos of kids doing great work in school, people getting promotions at work, organizations conducting fundraisers for the community and people attending one of the many things to do here in Fulton and Oswego County.

I’m sure readers like opening their Valley News on Wednesdays and Saturdays to see the fabulous photos we run. Most of these great shots are taken by people just like you and then sent to me by email or snail mail.

But there are some guidelines to ensure your photos can be used in the newspaper. Here they are:

1)Do not take photos with your phone. Smartphones and iPhones take photos that are clear enough for online posting such as on Facebook or Flickr. But they do not reproduce well enough to put in the newspaper. We need photos to be at least 300 ppi (pixels per inch).

2)Try to use a digital camera. It doesn’t have to be some fancy smancy expensive camera. I have a point-and-shoot Canon PowerShot 2500. It shoots at 16 megapixels and has a 5 times zoom. Put in on the Auto mode and ANYONE –  even I – can take great photos. And the camera cost me only $89 on Amazon. Might be worth it for every organization to have one of these hanging around to take shots to submit to the newspaper.

3)Once you take that great shot, be sure to get the names of the people in the photo. Usually people are in rows, so get the names going left to right and, if there are more than one row of folks, do front row, then second row and on and on. It’s always important to remember for newspaper photos to not have too many people in the photos. We will not use photos submitted without names identifying the people in the photo.

At The Valley News, we are sensitive to issues surrounding children and photographs. Every school district I know has a policy about students being photographed for newspaper or website use. Usually, on the first day of school, a permission slip is sent home for the parent or guardian to fill out on whether the child is allowed to be in photos for the newspaper or a newspaper website.

When a person takes a photo for use in a newspaper or website, he or she can be steered clear of students who cannot have their photos taken. Then photos can be taken and names of the students can be includes for use in The Valley News.

We enjoy having photos emailed to us because it is easy for us to get them ready for publication. If someone has a hard copy photograph to put in the paper, it can be mailed to the office or dropped off and we can scan it into the computer system. That takes about two minutes and then we can return the original photo.

If anyone has any questions about how to submit a photo to The Valley News, please don’t hesitate to ask. You can reach me at or  Or call me at 598-6397 or stop in the office at  67 S. Second St., Fulton.