Category Archives: Featured Stories

Guitarist performs his original score to Japanese silent film

Submitted by SUNY Oswego

Once upon a time, movies and live music went hand in hand.

Guitarist Alex de Grassi revives that tradition, performing his original score for the classic Japanese film “A Story of Floating Weeds” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, in SUNY Oswego’s Waterman Theatre.

At the height of the silent film era, movies provided one of the largest sources of employment for musicians — including pianists, organists and orchestra players. That changed rapidly with the introduction of “talkies” in the 1920s.

Live music at the cinema languished from that period until a recent revival of interest.

In 2006, the New York Guitar Festival commissioned de Grassi to create and perform an original score for one of the best-known works of Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu. Further work on the score preceded its presentation at the 2009 Guitar Festival at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Illinois.

In Oswego, de Grassi will perform his entire 90-minute score onstage as the black and white film plays on-screen.

“While some scenes are tightly scored, others are based on a rhythm or a short melodic fragment that allows improvisation,” de Grassi said. As a result, each performance of the interdisciplinary project is unique, he explained.

 Critically acclaimed

“A Story of Floating Weeds” is among the most successful and critically acclaimed films by the legendary Ozu, whose work was honored with a major retrospective at Film Forum in New York City this summer.

“Floating Weeds” is a familiar metaphor in Japanese prose and poetry and, in this 1934 film, it refers to a group of traveling actors who seem to drift aimlessly, carried by currents beyond their control.

The story revolves around the lovable ne’er-do-well character Kihachi, head of an itinerant Kabuki troupe visiting a small town where he had fathered a son years before. The son does not know that Kihachi is his father, but the leading lady of the troupe — Kihachi’s mistress — finds out and plots revenge.

The film comes to life with de Grassi’s score, based on a pentatonic — a scale of five notes — blues motif that suggests the sound of the koto, a Japanese harp-like instrument. Separate musical themes assigned to five central characters combine and clash as the drama unfolds and the characters’ lives intertwine.

The Wall Street Journal has called de Grassi’s playing “flawless,” and DownBeat magazine says, “His touch is as exquisite as his lyricism …” His solo recordings for the iconic Windham Hill label and his Grammy-nominated recording “The Water Garden” are considered classics of the solo steel-string guitar genre.

Detailed program information, video clips and ticket links for this and other performances of the Artswego Performing Arts Series are available online at www.oswego.edu/arts.

Tickets, priced at $18 ($5 for SUNY Oswego students), may be purchased at any SUNY Oswego box office, online at tickets.oswego.edu or by calling 315-312-2141.

Parking for this performance is included in the price of the ticket, and is available in the employee and commuter lots in front of and to the east of Culkin Hall.

This presentation is made possible by a grant from the Japan Foundation New York.

Fairley Elementary students travel to Sterling Nature Center

Second-graders at Fairley Elementary School ventured into Cayuga County on Oct. 17 to visit the Sterling Nature Center.

The nature center has more than 10 miles of hiking trails and two miles of lake shore.

Stephanie Griffin’s second-grade class started their day with a teacher-lead lakeside trail walk. Along the walk, students were asked to look and listen to nature sounds, and pick up three leaves to use later in a leaf rubbing session.

The second-graders kept a safe distance as Lake Ontario’s rolling waves crashed into the rock shoreline. Students learned that rocks near the water’s edge are smooth and flat, the perfect shape for skipping.

Other rocks found near the Great Lake contained fossils. Students were fascinated by two trees on the shore that had been overturned, roots exposed.

Before breaking for an outdoor bagged lunch under the pavilion, students toured the visitor’s center. Inside, they saw preserved animals, animals that they could find in their own backyards. Griffin’s students were particularly interested in the coyote and flying squirrel on display.

Second-graders also went on a nature walk with guide Jim D’Angelo. Students in Lisa Bailey’s class trekked down to the rookery, where the herons nest. Ducks, a beaver dam and a bald eagle were all spotted on the trail.

During the second session, Bailey had her class do leaf rubbings and habitat relay races. Each student picked a plastic animal toy, and had to categorize the animal into its natural habitat, either water, forest or field.

The leaf rubbings were done with crayons at the picnic tables. Students placed a leaf on the table, covered it with a sheet of paper, and used the side of a crayon to shade the leaves veins. They were then asked to write a sentence about its texture, or what tree the leaf came from.

Transportation for the field trip was paid for through a grant from Novelis. The Home and School Association also provided a portion of the cost.

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 barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us 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 friendsofhistory@windstream.net 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 oco.org/education.

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