Category Archives: Featured Stories

New superintendent chosen in Oswego school district

Benjamin Halsey has been named the new Superintendent of Schools for the Oswego City School District.

Halsey, a distinguished leader with more than 20 years of experience in education, will be appointed at the special meeting at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 29.

Halsey brings to the Oswego City School District nine years of experience as the Superintendent of the North Collins Central School District. Prior to his role of superintendent at North Collins, Halsey’s tenure in education includes experience as a building principal, assistant principal, athletic director and teacher.

The Oswego City School District Board of Education, on behalf of the community in which they serve, selected Halsey based on his demonstrated firsthand knowledge of the day to day operations of every department in a school district, including but not limited to finance, curriculum, and school law.

The board stated in his role as superintendent at North Collins, Halsey demonstrated the ability to make difficult decisions and stood for his convictions. He also demonstrated tremendous visionary skills and possesses the skills necessary to carry those out, bringing others alongside.

Additionally, he has some unique out of the box practices that the Oswego City School District Board of Education felt would bring the district and the community together through positive change.

Coupled with Halsey’s professional experience and demonstrated leadership abilities are resounding character virtues of integrity and humility. The virtues were echoed by Halsey’s professional references as well as from unsolicited sources and are qualities that the Board of Education believes the district will benefit greatly from.

The Board of Education said in a joint statement about the decision to appointment Halsey, “We look forward to his leadership, vision, and working with him for our community.”

Halsey will assume the duties of the superintendent for the Oswego City School District Dec. 2.

Gary Mix is the current Interim Superintendent of School, assuming the responsibilities following the retirement of William Crist in June 2013.

Barclay discusses state referenda to be voted on Nov. 5

When voters go to the polls Nov. 5, they will be asked whether to support a number of amendments to the State Constitution.

Recently, I talked about the casino referendum and the implications its passage will have on New York.

This week, I want to let readers know about five other referendums that will appear on the ballot.

All of these passed the State Legislature in order to be put in front of the public for a vote. Some matters I supported in the Legislature, while others I did not.

Civil Service Credits for Disabled Veterans

Our State Constitution allows veterans to receive additional credits on a civil service exam.

This is a one-time credit, according to our constitution. This amendment would enable veterans to receive additional credits if they become disabled.

For example, if a veteran was employed as a police officer, decided to return to military service in Afghanistan, and became disabled as a result of his or her service, the employee would be eligible to receive an additional credit as a disabled vet. I supported this in the Legislature and plan to do so at the polls.

Land Exchanges

Title disputes have a chance to be put to rest if the public supports the amendment to resolve claims between the state and private parties that own land in Hamilton County.

This constitutional amendment would allow the Legislature to settle 100-year-old disputes between the state and private parties over land in a state forest reserve. Owners of land in the Forest Preserve would receive clear title to the lands where they live and pay property taxes if this passes. I supported this in the Legislature as well.

Another land exchange amendment would enable NYCO Minerals, Inc., a private company, to continue its mining operations in Essex County. The company currently mines wollastonite, a rare white mineral used in ceramics, paints, plastics and other building products.

The Lewis Mine, which NYCO Minerals, Inc. uses, produces 60,000 tons of wollastoniate annually — 8 percent of the annual worldwide production.

The mine is approaching the end of its life cycle and its closure would mean the loss of nearly 100 full-time workers as well as tax revenue for the local economy.

Debt Limit Exclusion/Sewage Facilities

This amendment would enable municipalities to extend their debt limit for sewage treatment and related facilities until Jan. 1, 2024. I supported this in the Legislature.

Increasing Age Judges Can Serve

Currently, state Supreme Court judges must retire at 76. This amendment would increase the mandatory retirement age to 80. It would also increase the retirement age for judges of the Court of Appeals from 70 to 80. Also, it would prohibit the appointment of any person over the age of 70 to the Court of Appeals. I voted against this bill in the Legislature and plan to do so at the polls.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, contact my office by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, New York, by e-mail at or by calling 598-5185.

A cornucopia of plenty abounds in Oswego County agriculture

By Debra J. Groom

Friday night, I gathered with about 200 other folks to savor all that is grand about Oswego County agriculture.

From the lamb to the onions to the butternut squash to the strawberries, Oswego County has so much to offer that it’s easy as pie to put on a six-course meal using all that the county’s farmers serve up each and every year.

The fourth annual Oswego County Harvest Dinner, presented by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County, was Friday at the American Foundry in Oswego. As Executive Director Paul Forestiere put it, the dinner wasn’t for the extension folks.

“We already know about agriculture in Oswego County,” he said. “This is for you.”

And off we went, through a culinary exploration of Oswego County.

First, a savory butternut squash soup. While different from my own recipe, it was fabulous to taste the squash and the spices dance on the tongue.

Next up, a salad of greens and apples.

Now, Oswego County is well known for its apple orchards, from all along the shoreline of Lake Ontario to up into the northern reaches of the county in Mexico. In fact, Oswego ranks 11th in the state in apple production.

Then on to the main courses. First, an apple-cider braised beef with corn succotash and potatoes. This was soooo good I can’t even explain it. The meat fell apart, much like a pot roast that has been simmering in the crock pot for hours. And the succotash was interesting — it was missing the lima beans I was expecting. Instead, there was broccoli and peppers, which gave it a sweet flavor.

The next course was a leek and cheese quiche. Yummy. How can eggs, cheese and cream taste bad?

Next was lamb kabobs with onion. And don’t forget the creamy Chobani yogurt to dip them in.

And if that wasn’t enough (I was pretty full by then), then came dessert — a warm strawberry-rhubarb shortcake with sweet cream. Not sure where I put it, but it was fabulous.

Yes, all of these courses contained foods produced or grown right here in Oswego County. Even items like the Chobani yogurt, butter from Queensboro Farm Products in Canastota and milk, cream and half and half from Byrne Dairy all are made with milk from Oswego County cows.

Sure, you may think, “So what? It’s a dinner.” But it really means something to sit there, eat the scrumptious food and realize that people you know, people you may have talked to, people you have seen at the post office, they work hard each and every day to make this food for you.

Agriculture is a $40 million business in Oswego County. While many counties are known for their dairy industry, Oswego County is one of the most diverse agricultural locales in the state, said Cooperative Extension Agriculture Manager Jonathan Schell. In fact, here’s a bit of trivia — Oswego County is the largest producer of cranberries in the state.

So I wholeheartedly recommend attending this event if it is held again next year. It is totally worth it. And you just might learn something.

Farms contributing to the Harvest Dinner

Agri-Mark, Mass., (Oswego County milk goes to Agri-Mark), cheddar cheese and butter

Appledale Orchards, Mexico, apple cider and apples

Behling Orchards, Mexico, apples

Bieler Enterprises, Williamstown, cranberries and cranberry juice

Black Creek Farms, Oswego, lamb

Black Sheep Farm, Hannibal, lamb

Brannan Farm Stand, Fulton, sweet corn

Bristol’s Weather Haven Farm, Parish, squash

Byrne Dairy, LaFayette, milk, cream and half and half

Caltabiano Farm, Phoenix, garlic

Chobani, New Berlin, Greek yogurt

Colosse Cheese Store, Pulaski, Swiss cheese

Dan Dunsmoor Farms, Oswego, onions

Dan E. Yoder & Family, Mexico, strawberries

Fowler’s Farm, Hannibal, sweet corn

Fruit Valley Orchard, tomatoes and Lady apples

Gaetano J. Basta Farm, Fulton, leeks, peppers and celery

Greco Family Farm and Orchard, Oswego, apples

Grindstone Farm, Pulaski, salad greens and herbs

Hess Family Farm, Hannibal, eggs

Heritage Hill Farm, Lacona, maple syrup

Hives of Howard, Oswego, honey

Hopkinson Farms, Williamstown, potatoes

Ingersoll Farms, Fulton, sweet corn, butternut squash and garlic

Jacobsen Farms, Fulton, shallots

Maryinuk Farms, Phoenix, asparagus

Mattland Farms, Richland, beef, chicken and Italian sausage

Maurice and Virginia Hurd, Sandy Creek, rhubarb

New York Bold, Oswego, onions

Ontario Orchards, Oswego, butternut squash, carrots and pumpkins

Paul’s Nursery, Fulton, lettuce, butternut squash and tomatoes

Queensboro Farm Products, Canastota, butter

Sorbello & Sons, Inc., Granby, onions

Wiltse Farms, Constantia, blueberries

W.W.Ranch, Bernhards Bay, beef

Lake Neatahwanta talk tonight at Friends of History

The Friends of History in Fulton are welcoming Mayor Ronald L. Woodward Sr. as the guest speaker at their final program of the year.

He will be speaking about the project the city has undertaken to clean up Lake Neatahwanta. There are plans to dredge the lake and find the springs that were filled in when the American Woolen Mill left Fulton.

Woodward will speak at 7 p.m. Oct. 23, tonight, at John Wells Pratt History Museum, 177 S. First St., Fulton. Contact the Friends of History at 598-4616 or send an email to for more information. 

Pathfinder Industries celebrates grand reopening

Pathfinder Industries celebrated its grand reopening with a ribbon cutting  Friday, Oct. 11.

A fire destroyed the building March 9, 2013. Now, seven months later, the machine manufacturer of sheet metal and machine parts is up and running in a new building.

Evelyn LiVoti, marketing and development manager for Operation Oswego County, said the county’s industrial development agency helped Pathfinder finance the project. The new building is located directly on the site of the one that was destroyed in the fire. at located at 117 N. Third St., Fulton.

Pictured, holding scissors, are co-owners Marcia Ives (left) and Maribeth Myers (right) surrounded by their employees.

Also pictured, to Myers’ right, are Louella LeClair, 25th district county legislator; Holly Carpenter, representative for Sen. Patty Ritchie; L. Michael Treadwell, executive director of Operation Oswego County; Terry Wilbur, 21st district county legislator; and Larry Macner, Fulton Common Council, Sixth Ward.

Registration continues for Head Start

Oswego County Head Start Pre-K continues to accept applications for the 2013-2014 program year.

The program enrolls 3- and 4-year-old children and is provided at no cost to families.

Head Start’s goal is promoting kindergarten readiness through a variety of learning materials and developmentally appropriate opportunities that assist children in developing academically, socially, and emotionally.

Family involvement is strongly encouraged. Parents have a central role in the program as partners in the educational process.

There are opportunities to be involved in parent committees, volunteer in the classrooms, as part of program development, and attending workshops.

A program of Oswego County Opportunities, Head Start Pre-K has seven centers located throughout Oswego County and enrolls children from all nine county school districts.

Applications are accepted yearround with waiting lists maintained for openings that may occur.

Families that would like more information can visit our website at

To complete an application, call 598-4711 or 800-359-1171 to schedule an appointment.

Children collect markers to be recycled for fuel

Submitted by Oswego County BOCES

An eco-friendly initiative that recycles used markers to make fuel is gaining local support as the Blue Team at the Stepping Stones Day Program in Fulton recently hopped on board for the cause.

Students in the program, which is collaboration between Oswego County BOCES and Hillside Children’s Center, teamed with Crayola and other schools across North America to participate in the green initiative.

The Crayola ColorCycle program includes students in kindergarten through 12th-grade schools who collect used markers and send them to a conversion facility where they are transformed into clean-burning fuel.

“ColorCycle offers a great opportunity for teachers and their students to explore eco-friendly practices,” said BOCES exceptional education teacher Robyn Yorker, of the Stepping Stones Program. “In addition to the ‘magic’ of marker-to-energy conversion, specially developed standards-based lesson plans are available to enrich instruction.”

According to the energy companies involved in the recycling project, one box of markers can create enough energy to cook an egg, make toast and brew one pot of coffee.

Hundreds visit St. Francis Commons during open house

Hundreds of people visited St. Francis Commons Assisted Living Residence during an open house this past weekend.

Those attending toured the new residence and learned about the unique services and amenities to be offered to the community.

“It was wonderful to see such a great turnout for our open house and a little overwhelming; for us, this only confirmed the level of interest our community has in assisted living and visitors had the opportunity to be among the first to see the results of our construction project,” said Julie Chetney, senior living director at St. Francis Commons.

“It is confirmation that our organization is on the right track in terms of introducing a new service to our community, and in the weeks ahead we will prepare to begin to welcome our first residents,” she said.

Construction of St. Francis Commons took almost 11 months, commencing with our groundbreaking last November, said Karen Murray, executive director.

She said the residence will provide supportive housing and care at a level that is less than a nursing home but more than may be found in an independent setting.

Services at St. Francis Commons will include three meals a day, housekeeping with linen and personal laundry services, scheduled transportation, social programs, assistance with personal care and medication management.

A hair salon, gift shop, as well as cable television and telephone connections in each room are some of the amenities to be offered.

St. Francis Commons will accommodate 60 individuals in three “neighborhoods” within the residence. Private payment, Medicaid, private insurance reimbursement and Supplemental Security Income  will be accepted.

A 14-bed neighborhood within the new residence, Memory Care at St. Francis, will serve individuals diagnosed with mild to moderate dementia-related illness, like Alzheimer’s disease, who will benefit from a community-based living environment with specialized supportive services.

“Based on the feedback we received from folks we spoke with during the open house, there is a real need in our community for the services we will be able to provide through our special care neighborhood,” Chetney said.

St. Francis Commons is hoping to begin welcoming residents within a few weeks.

The St. Francis Commons project is the latest phase in development on the St. Luke health care campus. The campus consists of 15 acres and includes St. Luke Health Services, Bishop’s Commons Enriched Living Residence and Little Lukes Childcare Center.

Funding for construction of the $9.1 million assisted living program residence included an $8 million HEAL-NY grant through the state  Department of Health. Additional financing for the project has been made available through Operation Oswego County, the Oswego County Industrial Development Agency, the New York State Housing and Community Renewal and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant Program, the City of Oswego’s Office of Community Development, Pathfinder Bank and the St. Luke-John Foster Burden Fund.

For information about resident application process, call St. Francis Commons at 326-0870, or visit them on the web at