Category Archives: Featured Stories

Trees planted in Oswego

About $25,000 has been donated to the Oswego Renaissance Association for the planting of 60 trees in highly visible sections of Oswego this month.

The money was donated by Novelis Oswego. The trees will be planted along the West Bridge Street corridor as part of the Oswego Renaissance Association’s revitalization work in the City of Oswego.

In addition to the donation, Novelis Oswego employees will be planting the trees alongside volunteers from the City of Oswego, the Oswego Tree Stewards, Trees for Vets, Oswego DPW,  SUNY students among others.

“Our Novelis colleagues around the globe will be committing time, energy and resources to their local communities during the company’s Month of Service in October,” said Chris Smith, Novelis Oswego plant manager.

“We are excited to work closely with Oswego Renaissance Association and other members of the community to help revitalize the area,” Smith said.

“Trees will be planted in high need, high visibility areas along the West Bridge Street corridor. They will provide a 200- year improvement in the visual impact, air cleansing, storm water handling capacity, reduction of the city ‘heat island’ effect, improvement in property value and the many social and tourism aspects of a solid tree canopy,” said Phil Mac Arthur; founder of the Oswego Tree Stewards.

“This is more than just planting trees,” said Oswego Rensaissance Association Director Paul Stewart explained. “This is also about reconnecting people and building community. This is a win-win for the community and all involved.”

The ORA promotes the “Healthy Neighborhood Approach” to neighborhood and community revitalization, which is a market-based approach that builds on strengths.

“There is that old saying; ‘You only get one chance to make a first impression.,’” said Steven Phillips, an ORA resident leader and coordinator for this project. “This project will improve the first and lasting impressions people get entering our city from the West allowing us to compete better for new residents and businesses.”

Stewart said the community is beginning a steady rebirth, with many places in neighborhoods and downtown coming alive.

“Many of our neighborhoods and business districts are beginning to demonstrate that our community is ‘invested’, it encourages additional new investment. The Tree Canopy Project will be a visual signal that our community is invested and continues to re-invest.”

Emotions up, grad rate down at Fulton school board meeting

By Ashley M. Casey

Tuesday’s board of education meeting saw some tense moments with a discussion of lower testing and graduation rates and the resignation of a teacher.

In a lighter moment of the meeting, board president David Cordone and superintendent William Lynch awarded a diploma to Bob LaRock, a veteran of the Korean War.

“Bob would have graduated in 1953 had he not left high school to join the Marine Corps,” Lynch explained.

Several of LaRock’s family members were present for the occasion, which was made possible by Operation Recognition. This is a campaign that allows veterans of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam conflict to receive a high school diploma if they present satisfactory discharge papers.

Secondary assessment results

G. Ray Bodley High School principal Donna Parkhurst and department chairs presented the results of the 2012-2013 secondary assessments. Last year’s exams were graded on the 2005 standards, but the next set of exams will be based on the new Common Core standards.

Nate Fasulo, chair of English and social studies, explained the 14 percent drop in English Regents scores. Compared to 86 percent of students passing in 2012, 72 percent of students passed the English Regents in 2013. Fasulo attributed this drop to two factors.

He said the grade conversion chart has been adjusted by 4 percentage points to reflect the tougher Common Core standards that will be in place for next year’s tests.

Fasulo also said that the weather-related cancellation of school in January 2013 prevented approximately 3 to 5 percent of students from taking the English Regents in January, so students only had one chance to pass the test instead of two.

GRB has overhauled many aspects of the English department to boost test scores. Following the example of Oswego High School, 11th graders will take the English Regents in January 2014. In June, students will be required to take the Common Core test, and they may retake the Regents if they want to aim for a higher Regents score.

Students who require academic intervention services (AIS) have been pooled from three groups into one to allow teachers to better meet their needs.

English teachers also will be instructing other departments’ teachers on close reading, or a careful, detailed interpretation of a passage, to help students with the learning style required by the Common Core.

The January test cancellation also greatly affected math scores for AIS students, math chair Penny Downing explained. However, the passing rate for Regents Integrated Algebra increased 11 percent.

Integrated Algebra students in eighth and ninth grade will take both the Common Core and Regents tests in June. The higher score will count in the students’ transcripts.

Geometry and Algebra 2/Trigonometry scores dipped, but Downing said that Applied Geometry and Applied Trigonometry students were included in the test results.

Downing called the inclusion of these students a step forward because previously they had not had a chance to be tested, which kept them from seeking an Advanced Regents diploma. She said trigonometry was essential for success in college math classes as well.

Science chair Chris Leece presented mainly stable numbers, especially for chemistry and physics, but the passing rate for the Earth Science Regents dropped to 52 percent.

“We have some places where we’re teaching far beyond what is expected, and in other places we have some gaps,” Leece said.

He added earth science teachers at Fulton Junior High School and GRB are meeting regularly and following common planning and pacing guides to keep students on track.

Fasulo’s report on social studies was brighter. Fulton students scored the best in Oswego County and the region on Regents Global History. Scores also have been consistently high for Regents U.S. History and Government.

As for college preparation tests, Parkhurst said Fulton students scored higher than the national and state averages on the reading portion of the SAT. Math scores were about level compared to state and national averages, and writing was lower but steadily improving.

ACT scores were between the state and national rates.

Graduation rate down

“We are dealing with some very significant issues,” Parkhurst said when introducing the presentation on the 2013 graduation rate.

Of students who entered ninth grade in 2009, 63 percent graduated from Bodley in 2013.

Parkhurst said the school has examined 86 individual cases of students who did not graduate to determine why they did not complete school. Of these 86 students, half were of low socioeconomic status.

Parkhurst listed other statistics as well:

  • 14 pregnant or parenting
  • 28 with drug or alcohol dependence
  • 14 incarcerated
  • 22 homeless
  • 16 with mental health issues

The dropout rate for 2013 was 17 percent, and overall attendance has dropped 1.1 percent. GRB’s attendance rate is down 2 percentage points to 85.1 percent. In their presentation on math and science assessments, Downing and Leece noted many students in applied classes or who had low socioeconomic status had missed a significant amount of class time.

Board vice president Dan Pawlewicz asked for reasons for these figures, and noted that the district has many resources for struggling students, including AIS, home-school liaisons and counselors.

“How do we fix it? How do we get every kid across the stage?” Pawlewicz asked.

Parkhurst said many of these students’ problems begin in junior high or even elementary school.

“With some of them, their problems presented in the intermediate grades,” she said. “Their problems did not begin in ninth grade.”

Board member Rosemary Occhino put Parkhurst’s figures on troubled students into perspective for the board. She said although resources are available to these students, many of them lack supportive parents and a stable home life.

“It is somewhat foreign to we individuals who sit around this table. The children we raised — we encouraged them,” she said. “Not all young people have that advantage.”

Fred Cavalier said the ever-tightening testing standards might cause a child to fall even further behind and not want to come to school.

“If he’s struggling before, he could be discouraged,” Cavalier said.

Betsy Conners, executive director of instruction and assessment, said attendance is key to reaching these students.

“When we have the kids in the seat, we can teach them,” she said. “But we can’t drag them and handcuff them there.”

Superintendent Lynch mentioned the Fulton police have assisted in reminding students in parks that they should be in school.

“One of the detriments of having a beautiful fall is kids want to be outside (and not in school),” Lynch said.

O’Brien resigns

Colleen O’Brien, the science teacher who says she suffers from multiple chemical sensitivity, announced her resignation during the public forum.

She recounted stories of students deliberately spraying fragrances in front of her classroom to trigger an attack of her illness, and other students who tried to stand up for her.

O’Brien claimed the district would not cover her $13,000 in medical expenses. She also said she would no longer be attending school board meetings to discuss the issue. The board has previously discussed enacting a fragrance-free policy, which O’Brien supports. She added that she plans to write a book about her experience with multiple chemical sensitivity.

She said her resignation would be effective when her sick leave ran out, and she exited the meeting in tears.

Other business

  • Enrollment in college-level courses at GRB is strong. The high school offers courses for credit from Cayuga Community College, Onondaga Community College, SUNY Oswego, SUNY ESF, Rochester Institute of Technology and several Advanced Placement courses. BOCES offers some AP courses online. In English, 51 students earned college credit in 2013 through AP or OCC English. In social studies, 149 students earned credit from AP or CCC courses.
  • Kathy Nichols, director of finance, presented the audit report. The school district is in a positive fiscal state. Raymond F. Wager, CPA, PC, has performed the audit for the last four years.
  • The Lanigan Elementary school gymnasium floor is separating from the subflooring. While physical education classes have not been disrupted, testing indicates the floor contains mercury and must be replaced. Lynch estimated the cost of removal and replacement at $400,000. The board will discuss this and other facilities issues at the next meeting.

Coming up

The Fulton school board will meet next at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 22 at Granby Elementary School.

At the Education Center at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 17, administrators will present “Common Core Learning” to teach families about the new standards and their impact on students.

This is part of the Partnerships for Success workshops.

Childcare and refreshments will be available. Call 593-5509 with any questions.

Oswego Health promotes Breast Cancer Awareness Month

The physicians and staff of Oswego Health will take part in activities throughout October that promote national Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Perhaps the most important action community members can take is to encourage the women they know to have a mammogram.

Oswego Health Radiology Chief Dr. Mark Franklin recommends most women undergo a yearly mammogram beginning at age 40. Women who are at higher risk of breast cancer should talk with their healthcare provider about whether to have mammograms before the age of 40 and how often to undergo one.

Those at a higher risk for breast cancer include individuals who have a first degree relative — such as a mother or sister — who has had the disease.

Oswego Health radiologists, as part of the interpretation of each woman’s mammography screening, use a risk tool that can be found at U.S. National Institutes of Health web site: www.cancer.gove/bcrisktool.

“A digital mammogram is one of the most important tools physicians have to diagnose breast cancer,” Dr. Franklin said. “Early breast cancer detection through mammography likely results in improved outcomes.”

“Along with having a yearly mammogram, I encourage women to have a clinical breast exam yearly by their healthcare provider,” Dr. Franklin said. “Monthly self-breast exams are also important in the detection of breast cancer.”

In addition to offering digital mammogram services, Oswego Hospital can perform breast Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), adding one more diagnostic tool in the fight against breast cancer.

A breast MRI is one of the latest technologies available to assist in the detection of breast cancer. This new technology allows radiologists to see abnormalities that sometimes cannot be seen on either a mammogram or ultrasound. Specialized software assists radiologists with the interpretation of the approximately 1,200 images created during a single study.

Dr. Franklin encourages women who are known to be at high risk for breast cancer, or who have a first-degree family member with the disease, to have a breast MRI. Among those at higher risk are women who have had a first degree family member with breast cancer.

“This new technology is another tool for women at risk for breast cancer,” Dr. Franklin said. “A MRI of the breast has been performed for a number of reasons that include the diagnosis of breast implant rupture, surgical planning, staging of breast cancer and treatment planning, post surgical and post radiation follow up, dense breast tissue evaluation and evaluating trouble areas identified through a mammogram or ultrasound.”

Dr. Franklin added a breast MRI is not a replacement for mammography or ultrasound imaging, but rather a supplemental tool for detecting and staging breast cancer and other breast abnormalities.

The breast MRI takes about 20 minutes and entails the use of an intravenous contrast. A physician referral is required.

Digital mammography appointments can be made in several convenient locations throughout Oswego County, including the Oswego Health Services Center, Fulton Medical Center, the newly opened Central Square Medical Center and at the Pulaski Health Center.

To make a mammography screening appointment in either Oswego or Pulaski, call 349-5540. For appointments in Fulton and Central Square, call 592-3555.

To make an appointment for a breast MRI, call (800) 634-2468.

Oswego Health Offers Breast Cancer Support Group

For residents seeking a breast cancer support group, the caring and sharing breast cancer support group meets the third Tuesday of the month from 6:30 to 8:30 p. m. in the conference room of the Fulton Medical Center.

Leading the group is Liz Schremp.

“We call breast cancer treatment a journey and our members have all experienced the many emotions you feel during that journey,” said Schremp last year when the group began meeting at the Fulton Medical Center. “Breast cancer for a woman can be very, very overwhelming. There are phases of the journey and we lead each person on a positive route.”

In addition to the support group, its members can provide a facilitator 24 hours a day to those that need support before the next support group meeting. Schremp can be contacted by calling 592-7468.

New Oswego Health ENTs visit senior health fair

Oswego Health’s two new otolaryngologists who treat a variety of ear, nose and throat issues, as well as provide facial plastic surgery, attended state Sen. Patty Ritchie’s Senior Health Fair held earlier this week at the Fulton War Memorial.

Board Certified ENTs Nicholas Groch and Melanie Pence opened an office Oct. 8 in Suite 210 of the Oswego Health Services Center, located next to Oswego Hospital. Contact them by calling 349-5828.

The otolaryngologists have a joint practice providing services such as hearing and balance testing to allergy testing, sinus surgery, pediatric ear infections, snoring and sleep apnea, thyroidectomies, skin cancer excisions and cosmetic procedures.

Both physicians are board-certified by the American Osteopathic Board of Otolaryngology in head and neck/facial plastic surgery. An audiologist is also expected to join the practice in the upcoming weeks.

The ENTs will host an Ask The Doctor program at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22 in the  lower level JPC conference room of the Oswego Health Services Center, next to Oswego Hospital. The program is free and open to the public.

The Oswego Healthcare System includes Oswego Hospital, The Manor at Seneca Hill, a skilled nursing facility; Springside at Seneca Hill, a retirement living community; an urgent care center in Fulton, and health services centers in Mexico, Parish and Phoenix. For more information, call 349-5500 or visit oswegohealth.org.

Hannibal schools chart course for future

Submitted by Oswego County BOCES

Uniting with a common vision, members of the Hannibal Central School District Plan Committee discussed the district’s blueprint for the future at a meeting Oct. 3.

The newly formed committee, comprised of nearly 30 people from all walks of life, outlined their goals and hopes for the district as it moves forward into the future.

Spending more than two hours brainstorming and bouncing ideas off one another, the meeting was the first of several that will be held throughout the year to help develop a strategic plan to guide the district during the next five years.

Penny Ciaburri, chief executive officer of PLC Associates Inc., the consulting firm contracted to help the district develop the strategic plan, said the initial meeting was a resounding success.

“They’re absolutely on fire,” Ciaburri said of the committee. “They jumped right in. They are having the important conversations, looking to take advantage of best practices.”

Committee members talked about some of the key factors that lead to a successful district.

Ideas ranged from ways to increase student engagement, boost academic achievement and strengthen the family and community connection — all of which will be further addressed by three separate task forces in developing the overall strategic plan.

District superintendent Donna Fountain noted that reaching that benchmark is one of the many goals she envisions the district achieving in the years ahead.

“I think Hannibal can honestly become a shining star, not just in our community, but across the state,” Fountain said. “Hannibal can become a destination district. People can move here for the education that we offer.”

Committee member Jill Rice, who has children enrolled in seventh and eighth grade at Hannibal, believes the district has a solid foundation that can become even stronger through the strategic plan and community involvement.

“It starts at home,” Rice said. “It’s imperative as soon as (students) hit pre-K to let them know that their potential is limitless.”

With educational success and student growth as key components of the plan, committee members also developed a list of advocating and opposing factors facing the district.

“We need to find out what do we have in our favor, what’s holding us back and how strong those forces are,” Ciaburri said. “A huge advocating force is that we, as an organization, have decided to build a strategic plan.”

Fairley Elementary staff member Dawn Thompson reviewed a variety of factors that her group added to its list, ranging from student expectations and strong leadership to resources and socioeconomic issues.

“There have been many impoverished districts that have soared,” Thompson said as she looked over the list where the advocating forces more than doubled the opposing forces. “The good guys get a win.”

Thompson’s optimism was shared by her fellow committee members, as each offered their positive outlook concerning the process in developing the district’s blueprint for the future.

Words like hopeful, inspired, empowered, invigorated, enthusiastic and refreshing were commonly spoken as each member assessed the first meeting.

“In my 16 years here, this is the first time I’ve ever seen a group come together like this with such a definitive and worthy goal,” Fairley principal Jody Musa said.

“A group of ordinary people, if given the right tools, can do some extraordinary things, and that’s what I think you’re going to do,” she told the committee. “It’s a very thoughtful and reflective process that will help put in place a blueprint so that five years from now we’re telling the Hannibal story.”

The next core committee meeting will be held from 4 to 6:15 p.m. Nov. 7 in the district boardroom. Task forces are set to meet Nov. 19.

The anticipated completion date for the overall plan is March 21, followed by a presentation to the school board at 7:15 p.m. April 9.

For more information on the process or to become involved, email internal facilitator Tammy Farrell at tfarrell@hannibalcsd.org or call 564-7900, ext. 3004.

American Legion leaders come to Oswego County

When New York’s American Legion leaders visited Oswego County Oct. 5, they were treated to some Marine Junior ROTC drilling at Mexico Academy and Central School, a glimpse of the War of Independence in a scenic mural, and a reminder to “Support Our Troops” during lunch at Horning-Fournier American Legion Post 418 in Phoenix.

The visit was capped off with dinner at Prior-Stock American Legion Post 1552 in Hannibal, where NY Legion Commander Kenneth Governor spoke of “Service First” and the Department of New York’s refocusing on the core mission to serve men and women in uniform, veterans and families, and community and nation.

He was joined by New York Auxiliary President Barbara Corker and New York Sons of the American Legion Detachment Commander John Chang.

Chang spoke of his passion for the National Emergency Fund, which provides financial assistance to Legion families struck by disaster.

Corker expressed her dedication to providing equipment and supplies to wounded warriors through the Legion’s Operation Comfort Warriors.

She expressed two reasons why this is important: First, unlike other charities, 100 percent of donations go directly to helping injured service members; and, second, it’s important to “show our warriors our love.”

The leaders visit to Mexico High School featured a demonstration by the Marine Junior ROTC drill team, and a briefing by Senior JROTC Instructor Lt. Col. John Freda (Ret.).

“The instructor emphasized the drill team was not a vehicle to recruit students into the military, but rather a method of instilling teamwork, establish a strong work ethic and all the traits necessary for a successful life,” Governor noted.

The school also is home to the hand-carved woodblock scenic mural, “La Guerre D’Independance.” They got to view the multi-panel mural by French artist Deltel, which depicts scenes from the Revolutionary War.

The only two places where this historic circa-1853 artwork survives in its entirety are the White House in Washington, D.C. and in the oak-paneled upper foyer of Mexico High School.

After enjoying lunch at Post 418 in Phoenix, the state Legion leaders were quick to don “Support Our Troops” T-shirts presented by the Post leaders, Post Commander Ron Smithers, Auxiliary Unit President Anna Goettel and Sons of the American Legion Squadron Commander Shawn Mills.

Women’s conference coming to Fulton Oct. 29

Connections, a day-long conference for women, is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 29 at River Vista Center in Fulton.

The program is being presented by the Women’s Network for Entrepreneurial Training and SUNY Oswego’s Office of Business and Community Relations.

Women from across the state will gather for the program titled “Connect – Pursue – Advance.” There will be several speakers, networking opportunities, continental breakfast, lunch, a dessert reception, and a women’s marketplace.

Speaker Susan Conklin, Source for Personal and Professional Growth, will present “Chart your course with the Wheel of Life.”

The Wheel of Life is a tool that provides a “helicopter view” of life, to help us assess where we are and envision where we’re going.

Again this year, headshots will be offered by Dayger Photography, with no sitting fee. Hair and make-up touchups will also be available.

New this year, we are featuring Bee-Hive Networking. Each attendee could walk away with an average of 12-20 cards of qualified prospects who want to meet them. Come “catch the buzz” at the Bee-Hive Networking Game. Please be sure to come armed with 100 business cards.

Tickets are $65 and are available through the Tyler Hall Box Office, tickets.oswego.edu. Those interested also may  download our registration form at oswegocounty.org/WNET/schedule.html and mail it with your check.

For more information, contact Evelyn LiVoti, Connections’ co-chair, at 343-1545 or elivoti@oswegocounty.org.

New VP named at SUNY Oswego

Dr. Jerald Woolfolk Adley has been named SUNY Oswego vice president for student affairs and enrollment management, effective Jan. 1, 2014.

Adley has been vice president for student affairs, enrollment management and diversity at Mississippi Valley State University since 2011. Previously, she was vice president for student affairs at CUNY’s College of Staten Island.

“Dr. Adley has built a record as a strategic innovator in student affairs who sets clear and high goals and provides the leadership to achieve them,” said SUNY Oswego president Deborah Stanley. “We are delighted to welcome her to SUNY Oswego.”

At Mississippi Valley, Adley led initiatives that significantly increased enrollment, including raising freshman enrollment by 18 percent in one year.

As associate dean of students for residential life at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, she implemented a range of initiatives — academic, security, administrative and marketing — that increased residence hall occupancy from 50 percent to full capacity.

In addition to her accomplishments on her home campuses, Adley is active nationally in her field. She is an accreditation evaluator for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Higher education institutions in Delaware, Alabama, North Carolina and Arkansas have retained her as a consultant on accreditation, strategic planning, enrollment management and organizational management.

She received her doctorate in urban higher education from Jackson State University in Mississippi. She began her career as a counselor at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff after receiving her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Jackson State and her master’s degree in counselor education from Iowa State University.

The Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management at Oswego, which Adley will oversee, encompasses Admissions, Financial Aid, Auxiliary Services, Residence Life and Housing, Student Conduct and Compliance, Walker Health Center and the Counseling Center, Campus Life, Athletics, Student Advisement, Orientation and Career Services.

Adley succeeds  Dr. Joseph Grant, who retired from SUNY Oswego in 2012.