Category Archives: Featured Stories

ACE program celebrates with ziti dinner

A successful launch of the Academic and Community Enrichment program at Fairley Elementary School last year has translated into a great start for 2013-14, with a community dinner punctuating that success Nov. 14.

Eighteen first- and second-grade students who participate in the afterschool program helped make appetizers and desserts, prepare salads and create placemats for the dinner, with Canale’s providing baked ziti as the main course.

In addition to the students, their families and Canale’s, several Fairley teachers and staff members worked together to make the meal a reality.

“We have Lynn Bullard, who is our master chef,” said school psychologist Geri Seward. “She plans dinner at her church every week, so she knows how to buy in bulk and prepare in bulk. She is the queen of this dinner. She knows exactly what she’s doing.”

As teachers served nearly 75 meals to those in attendance, parents and students expressed their appreciation for the program.

“I like it, and I know they love it,” said Heather Hamrick, whose daughters Chloe and Lexus Sinko participate in ACE. “They’re eager to come to these events.”

The meal is just one of the many offerings provided through the afterschool initiative.

“We do 45 minutes of academics every day too, and then we do a project or craft. We’ve done all kinds of things. We’ve done yoga, we’ve had people come in, talk with them … a little bit of everything,” Seward said.

First-grade teacher Telia Tomayo said the program enriches the lives of students and their families and connects them with school in a positive way.

“We like to get the students and families here and involved, and this program does that,” she said.

Fairley Elementary students learn about Native American culture

Submitted by Oswego County BOCES

The Fairley Elementary School cafeteria was transformed into an Iroquois village Nov. 13 as fourth-grade students showcased homemade longhouses, recipe books, a lacrosse stick and other aspects of Native American culture.

As part of the curriculum, students studied Iroquois culture in the classroom and built upon that knowledge by watching a live performance from an expert on the subject.

However, learning was not confined to the school building, as students took their knowledge home and created a variety of projects, culminating with a presentation during this week’s board of education meeting.

“I think the live performance and demonstrations helped our kids connect to the Iroquois traditions and cultures,” Fairley Principal Jody Musa said. “That is evident through these projects.”

Students used everything from store-purchased goods to natural resources to items within their own homes to create their projects.

“The Iroquois did not use paint or cardboard because they did not have paint or cardboard,” fourth-grade Maria Khan said as she presented her longhouse made of tree bark.

For Musa, the presentations were a great way to wrap up the Iroquois unit and shine a spotlight on the students, their parents and teachers as well.

Hannibal school district tests communications program with parents/ guardians week of Nov. 25

Submitted by Oswego County BOCES

Hannibal Central School District officials have been exploring a variety of options to provide immediate communication with families when issues arise, and soon a new tool will be in place that will provide the mass communication service that the district has been seeking.

During a meeting Wednesday evening, school board members reviewed the new communication tool, Global Connect, with the district’s director of technology, Matt Dean.

Dean said the cloud-based technology allows the district to call, email or text important information to parents, staff, board members and others. It can hold up to five different contacts per person.

The system will go through several test runs before being implemented, Dean said. Test calls went out to administrators last week, and more are expected to go out to staff this week.

“The test on Friday for the 18 (members of the administrative cabinet and school board), I think it went pretty well,” he said as he played the recorded test message on his computer. “The sound clip is a .Wav file, so it can be uploaded to the district’s website as well.”

With a successful initial round of calls, the district is gearing up for the final and largest component of the communications system — the community portion — with test calls planned for parents and guardians during the week of Nov. 25.

A flier will be distributed next week for students to bring home as a reminder.

“We will be sending a message out to all the contacts currently in our system,” Superintendent Donna Fountain said. “If parents do not receive a call by Nov. 29, contact (”

Fountain said if the community test calls go well, the district could implement the new notification system in the beginning of December.

Locals remember day Kennedy was shot 50 years ago

What were you doing 50 years ago Friday?

It is one of those moments that each generation seems to have — a moment when time stood still.

It is a moment when most everyone remembers where they were, what they were doing and how they felt when they heard the news.

For people age 80 and older, that day could be the attack on Pearl Harbor. For the younger generation today, it most like is 9/11.

But for many people, from seniors to baby boomers, what happened 50 years ago Friday, Nov. 22, will always be a part of their psyches. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated that day while visiting Dallas, Texas. It happened about 1:30 p.m. our time, and news quickly spread across Central New York, the nation and the world.

Like that year, Nov. 22 falls on a Friday again in 2013. Unlike 1963, people will not be fixated on every word and picture they see on the television for four days straight. — see all the preparations for the funeral, the long lines of people waiting to see the president’s casket, waiting to hear if the police caught the assassin, then two days later seeing him get killed on live TV.

Here is what some Fulton and Oswego folks remember about that day:

Ellen Kane, 70, president of the Women’s Club of Fulton:

“I was in college, D’Youville College in Buffalo. I don’t remember actually hearing about it. But  I remember people saying ‘get down to the lounge. Get down to the lounge.’ It was the only place with a TV. I remember the room was full of totally unbelieving people sitting in total silence watching. How could somebody do this? He was so young, had so much charisma. He was like a shining star.”

Ronald Woodward Sr., 64, Fulton mayor:

“I was in shop class, I was a freshman at Fulton High School. I remember the teachers crying and all the media blitz when I got home. I was sad — he was a very popular president.”

Thomas Gillen, 64, Oswego mayor:

“I was a freshman at Oswego Catholic High School. It was Friday afternoon and we were having a pep rally in the gym because the basketball team was going to be playing that night. They had already started the pep rally and there was an announcement that the president had been shot. They they came back with the announcement that he had died. I remember going back to homeroom and a lot of people were crying. I remember one girl was weeping. We didn’t play the game that night. And Sunday was always the day we would go out tot he turkey farm to ge our Thanksgiving turkey. I was watching TV and Oswald was shot. I remember thinking ‘I just saw someone killed on TV.’”

John DeRousie, 55, public relations professional, Fulton:

“Like everyone else alive at that time, I do remember it well. I was in first grade at St. Mary’s School in Oswego. Our teacher told us that the president had been shot. We were asked to close our books, and say a prayer for him. We were then dismissed and asked to leave quietly in single file. I also remember watching the funeral procession at home with my Mother. I felt a little nervous. I was too young to really grasp the magnitude of the situation, but I could tell from the nuns’ reactions and my parents’ reactions that this was a very bad thing. I realized it more when I watched the funeral procession and I distinctly remember seeing John Jr. salute as the casket went by.

Reuel Todd, 66, Oswego County sheriff:

“I was a sophomore sitting in study hall at Oswego HIgh School when they broke in with an announcement that President Kennedy had been shot. They broke in later to say he had died at the hospital and that they were making preparations to swear in Lyndon Baines Johnson. Even for us as kids, death to us wasn’t really real, but this affected everyone. I was watching everything I could on TV.”

Debbie Groom, 57, Valley News
managing editor:

“I was sitting in my second-grade class at Main Street Elementary School in North Syracuse. The principal, Mr. Miller, came over the loud speaker telling us the president had been shot. Doing something that probably wouldn’t be allowed today, he asked us all to pray. My teacher had a shocked look on her face. But she turned it into a teaching moment. She pulled down one of those rolled up maps that hung on the wall and showed all of us where Texas was and where Dallas was. A little while later, Mr. Miller came on the loud speaker again and told us the president had died and asked us to pray again. It was a day you’ll always remember.


Heroin use on the rise in Oswego County

By Ashley M. Casey

Heroin accounts for the majority of Oswego County’s drug cases, according to the county district attorney’s office.

“It has skyrocketed. It is out of control,” said Jeff Kinney, an investigator for the DA. Kinney retired as a lieutenant from the Fulton City Police Department. “It’s a complete switch from last year,” he added. Previously, most of the county’s drug offenses involved crack cocaine, marijuana and alcohol.

Kinney cited many reasons for the increase in heroin abuse within the county.

“The potency of heroin in the last decade or so has increased, so you don’t have to inject as much,” he said. Kinney said heroin is cheaper and more widely available than other drugs.

Oswego County Undersheriff Gene Sullivan said that heroin used to be a “boutique drug,” available only to those who could afford expensive narcotics.

“Back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, heroin was really expensive and really hard to get,” Sullivan said. “You just didn’t see it around here.”

Kinney also pointed to the recent painkiller addiction epidemic as a catalyst for heroin’s popularity. Heroin, like highly addictive painkillers such as hydrocodone and oxycodone, is an opiate drug.

David Guyer, resource coordinator for Oswego County’s Drug Treatment Court, made the prescription-street connection as well. He said some doctors may prescribe opioid painkillers “too liberally.”

“The addiction starts out as a legitimate opiate prescription from a doctor, or (the addict) takes someone else’s,” Guyer said.

He said people might sell excess pills, or teenagers might raid their parents’ medicine cabinet. Once the pills run out, heroin is a cheaper alternative for a similar high.

A study from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that prescription opiate addicts aged 12 to 49 are 19 times more likely than others in their age group to become addicted to heroin.

Guyer also said people with “unaddressed mental health reasons” may use illegal drugs such as heroin to self-medicate. “The heroin makes them feel better,” he said.

People of all types can become heroin users. Kinney said he could see no pattern in the demographics of heroin addicts involved in the cases he’s worked on.

“Based on our experience, it’s crossing all aspects of life. Race doesn’t matter. Occupation doesn’t matter,” Kinney said. “I think the trend is younger people are using it, but we know of older people using it too.”

Guyer said while the heroin cases he oversees are also a mix, there is somewhat of a socioeconomic pattern.

“Generally, I would say the people I deal with are of lower socioeconomic status,” he said. “However, I’ve seen people that come from more means that (use as well).”

A recent Post-Standard article reported that Onondaga County has already attributed 20 deaths to heroin overdose in 2013. That number is up tenfold from four years ago.

As of June 2013, no heroin deaths had been reported in Oswego County.

Kinney said he did not have figures on how many heroin overdoses Oswego County may have seen this year.

“Sometimes law enforcement isn’t called, and it’s found out later it was an opiate overdose,” he said.

Sullivan said that the heroin problem in Onondaga County has had a “ripple effect” on Oswego County. He said that people travel back and forth to Syracuse more often than they did in previous generations, and they may be bringing new drug trends back with them.

“For us, it almost ends up like a preview (of) things to be aware of,” Sullivan said. He added that this has made Oswego County law enforcement more “proactive” in tackling the county’s drug cases.

As for what can be done about the county’s growing heroin problem, there are many resources in place for addicts.

“From our perspective, we try through the drug court program … (to) divert more people into treatment,” Guyer said. He added that law enforcement officials have been “very supportive” of this plan.

Oswego County DA’s office to purchase equipment for local police agencies

The state is providing nearly $700,000 in grants so local law enforcement agencies can either purchase equipment for the first time or upgrade existing systems that allow them to video record interrogations, a practice widely recognized as enhancing the fairness and effectiveness of the criminal justice system.

In Oswego County, $11,708 will go to the Oswego County District Attorney’s Office for use with the Fulton, Oswego, Phoenix and Pulaski police departments and Oswego County Sheriff’s Office.

“With these grants, New York State is giving local law enforcement the resources they need to enhance the integrity, fairness and effectiveness of our criminal justice system,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “The practice of video recording interrogations helps prevent wrongful convictions and at the same time, protects investigators from false allegations. These grants will provide an important and recognized tool to law enforcement agencies that will help better protect our communities.”

District Attorneys’ offices in 29 counties across the state will use the grants to purchase or upgrade equipment for 150 agencies, including police departments and sheriffs’ offices, bringing the number of agencies that will use the technology statewide to about 400. There are more than 500 police departments and sheriffs’ offices in New York.

Of those 150 agencies, 55 are receiving grants from the state for the first time. With these grants, each of the state’s 62 counties will have agencies that video record interrogations.

Deadline Dec. 4 for United Way mini-grants

United Way of Greater Oswego County is offering a limited number of mini-grants to community organizations.

The organizations must reflect the United Way’s mission and its five funding  categories: emergency services; heal and special needs; supporting families and children; senior services; and youth development.

United Way Executive Director Melanie Trexler said the mini-grants are for nonprofitsts serving Oswego County.

“Organizations that wish to apply for a mini-grant must submit a brief narrative that includes a description of the project and proposed activities, its goals, who it will serve and how it will benefit those served.

“The project must also have clear, measurable goals and a defined beginning and end. Applicants are also encouraged to partner with other community organizations on the project,” said Trexler.

Nonprofits wishing to apply for a mini-grant may download an application from the United Way website at

For more information, call Trexler at 593-1900, or send an email to

All proposals must be submitted no later than Dec. 4.