Category Archives: Featured Stories

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.

In And Around Hannibal, by Rita Hooper

In 1920, seven acres were purchased on Cayuga Street for use as a school athletic field.

Financing for this acquisition was quite unique. All the money was raised and donated by the students, alumni, residents and teachers of the school system.

Subscribers of the fund actually held the deed to the property and granted the school exclusive use of it for athletic purposes. Not one dime came from the levy of school taxes.

At 3:15 in the afternoon of Friday, Feb. 23, 1923, smoke was discovered pouring out the second floor windows of the school building by the janitor, Frank Little.  (Remember from last week…this building was on the site of the present day Dollar General, built in 1868.)

Fortunately, the students had left the building just minutes before the blaze was noticed. Responding to the alarm, the firemen hastily arrived on the scene with their chemical apparatus, directed by Chief R.A. Bradt.

(R.A. Bradt was the first fire chief of the Hannibal Volunteer Fire Company, Inc. and was one of the charter members in 1910.)

Unfortunately, their chemical equipment failed to operate, necessitating the formation of a bucket brigade bringing water from the Methodist parsonage next door.

This proved inadequate to check the flames and within two hours the structure was reduced to smoldering ruins. However, the firemen and villagers were able to save a quantity of furnishings and books, plus the school piano.

In addition, the firemen were able to save the vocational training building to the rear of the school and other nearby dwellings. This was due in large part to the fact that all the roofs had a heavy covering of snow and there was no strong wind.

The cause of the fire was attributed to the buildup of soot in the chimney as a result of burning soft coal in the furnace.  Once the accumulated soot ignited, the hot chimney then in turn set fire to the adjoining woodwork.

The Board of Education met the following morning to assess the damage and to make arrangements to use the local churches and halls for instruction until a new school could be built.

The first three grades finished that school year and the next in the session room of the M.E. (Methodist Episcopal – the present day United Methodist Church, same church and congregation just a name change) Church.

Grades four through six were in the session room of the Presbyterian Church  until the fall of 1924. (The Presbyterian Church later federated with the Baptists and currently known as God’s Vision Christian Church.)

High school classes were held in McFarland and Chillson Halls. The homemaking and agricultural classes continued in the vocational training building.

The first action taken for the construction of a new school occurred March 20, 1923, when the decision to acquire a new site was approved at a district school meeting.

The considered location was the athletic field owned by the citizen’s group.  This property was just up the street from the burned out school, separated by two residences.

It made good sense to have the scholastic and athletic activities all in one place.

Plans for a new 18-room school building, including a gymnasium/auditorium, were created by architects Hallenbeck and Van Auken. On Oct. 26, 1923, the corner stone for the new school was laid during a special ceremony which included an address by David P. Morehouse, Sr.

Construction continued into the following year and was finished in time for the beginning of school in September of 1924.  There were 18 in the first graduating class in 1924; Helen Cooper was valedictorian and Harold Horton was salutatorian.

At a special meeting held Jan. 26, 1942, authorization was given to purchase additional land for school purposes from Grant Wilson. Today, what used to be District No. 4, is now the center of the sprawling Hannibal Central School system.

OK, fellow historians of Hannibal, where and what were Chillson and McFarland Halls?

Likewise who were Hallenbeck and VanAuken…yes I know they were architects but where were they located?  Who was David P. Morehouse, Sr.?  A local big wig or someone from Albany? Syracuse?

What happened to Helen Cooper and Harold Horton after graduation? Any other information you can offer about this story would be welcome, so drop me a note…All of Hannibal wants to know!


This week we learned of another weather related tragedy, this time in the Philippines when Typhoon Haiyan brought horrific winds and rain and storm surges topping 20 feet.

At this time the government has estimated 10,000 people may be dead. Many people are missing, many are homeless and hungry and looking for family.

Relief agencies from the United Nations to the Red Cross, to Catholic Charities and Church World Service have kicked in and are already on the scene trying to bring order out of chaos. Money and prayers are urgently needed. I have already heard from CWS and they have tapped into global networks to help provide emergency food, shelter, water and other relief to those most in need.  As the storm moves north, CWS staff in Vietnam stand prepared to help.


Hannibal Senior Dining Center meets at noon for dinner at the Senior Center (Library Building) on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Come early for coffee and news or to work on a jigsaw puzzle or  play games or just some idle chit-chat!  Give Rosemary a call and make your reservation, 564-5471.  This week’s menu is:

Monday: Beef stroganoff over noodles, green and yellow beans, orange juice, cookie

Wednesday: Thanksgiving luncheon of turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, 5-way blend vegetables, juice, pumpkin pie

Friday: Crispy fish clipper, au gratin potatoes, vegetable blend, juice, peaches

Activities: Monday, Wii bowling;  Wednesday, bingo after lunch; Friday,  shuffleboard and other games

Elderberries will not meet Nov. 26 – Have a wonderful, thankful Thanksgiving.

The Christmas gathering will be at noon Dec. 10 at the American Legion. Catered by Brenda Fletcher. Call George Darling and make your reservation today.

The annual Thanksgiving raffle basket is at the library full of great stuff for your holiday. It has a gift card from the Village Market, gift certificate from Travis Floral, turkey platter, tablecloths and more. Drawing is Nov. 24.

Plans are underway for the celebration of the 10th Annual Country Christmas in the town of Hannibal Nov. 23 and 24.  This event kicks off the holiday season and showcases local merchants’ seasonal offerings.

The Friends of the Library will hold their annual Christmas Tree Festival.  Visitors to the Community Center, 162 Oswego St., can bid on decorated trees and wreaths from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 23 and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 24.

The theme for this year’s Festival is “The Polar Express.” Contact Linda Remig at 564-6643 for information or pick up an entry form at the library.

If you have ordered this year’s Christmas ornament from the Historical Society, you may pick it up Nov. 23 and 24.

The Hannibal United Methodist Church, 320 Church St., is sponsoring a craft show from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 23. A soup, sandwich and homemade pie lunch will be served 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Lunch takeouts are available.

God’s Vision Christian Church, 326 Church St., will have an open house and tour at the church from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 23. There will be refreshments.

At 4 p.m. Nov. 24, the Hannibal Historical Society is hosting The Village Christmas Tree Lighting Festival at the Village Square, with the arrival of Santa Claus.

At 4:15 p.m., students from Kami’s Kix Dance Studio will perform. Community organizations involving students have been invited to set up tables where children can make crafts or families can make purchases.

At 4:45 p.m., the Port Byron Brass will begin playing songs of the season. Door prize drawings will take place, followed by the children’s parade and the lighting of the Christmas Tree in the Village Square. Each child who attends this event will receive a gift from Santa, and be given an ornament to hang on the Village Christmas Tree.

There will be a community Thanksgiving Service following the tree lighting – at about 6 p.m. at the Hannibal Methodist Church, 1 block west of the village square on Church Street.

The Rev.  Dean Flemming will bring the message and refreshments will be served.  You are asked to bring groceries for the Hannibal Resource Center…they are anticipating  they will need food for 2,500 meals over the Thanksgiving weekend.

Shirts ‘N Skirts, Square Dance Club, meets from 7 to 9:30 p.m. every Friday evening at the Fulton Municipal Building, South First Street, Fulton.

All ages are welcome, under 16 years old must be accompanied by an adult. For more information, call 591-0093 or email

The Hannibal Town Board meets the third Wednesday of the month, Nov. 20.

Remember this column is about and for the people of Hannibal and the surrounding area. If you have an event that you would like the public to know about, send me an e-mail or give me a quick call.

Rita Hooper 706-3564

Phoenix dealership partner in line for association chair

William C. Fox, a partner in Fox Dealerships Inc. in Phoenix and Auburn, has been named vice chairman of the board of directors of the National Automobile Dealers Association.

The position puts him in line for chairman in 2015.

“I am honored to be elected by my peers as NADA vice chairman,” said Fox, who currently represents New York’s franchised new-car dealers on NADA’s board. “I am committed to ensuring NADA’s position as the voice of the dealer, and helping to shape the future of auto retailing for dealers across the country.”

Fox dealerships sell Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Honda, Subaru and Toyota brand vehicles.

He is chair of the NADA’s Regulatory Affairs Committee and served as finance chairman of the Dealers Election Action Committee. Fox was chairman of NADA’s Public Affairs Committee and Policy and By-Laws committee.

He has also served on the association’s Government Relations, Industry Relations and Dealer Operations committees. He serves as a member of Subaru’s National Dealer Advisory Board and has served on several manufacturer dealer councils and advertising associations.

Fox serves as vice chairman for the New York State Automobile Dealers Association.

For the past 14 years, he served as a director for the NYSADA and charred several committees. He served as NYSADA secretary and treasurer, and has been a member of its executive committee for the past five years.

His community service activities include awarding scholarship to local students who attend Georgetown University, Cayuga Community College and BOCES. He supports Nazareth College, LeMoyne College, Auburn Memorial Hospital, Tyburn Academy, Merry-Go-Round Theater, Auburn Public Theater, Matthew House, the Cayuga Foundation, YMCA, Auburn Doubledays, the SPCA and local youth athletic leagues.

He recently funded the creation of two new athletic fields for the Auburn City School District, as well as many other improvements to their athletic complex.

Fox has a bachelor’s degree in finance from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and a law degree from St. John’s University in New York City. He’s admitted to practice in all New York state courts, including the Federal District Court for the Northern District of New York and the U.S. Supreme Court.

He was a practicing attorney at Melvin and Melvin in Syracuse for 12 years, and has consulted for the law firm during the past 33 years.