Category Archives: Featured Stories

Don’t forget to register to vote

The Oswego County Board of Elections reminds residents that Oct. 11 is the last date new voter registrations can be filed in person in order to vote in the Nov. 5 general election.
New registrations sent in the mail must be postmarked by Oct. 11 and received by Oct. 16.
The Board of Elections office will be open extra hours on the following dates for those who wish to receive absentee ballot applications or file paperwork:
9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 22
9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24
9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Oct. 26.
9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 29.
9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 31.
9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Nov. 2..
The Board of Elections is located at 185 E. Seneca St., Oswego. Regular office hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
For more information, call 349-8350, or 349-8351 or visit www.oswegocounty.com/boe/register.html.

SUNY Oswego hosts Walk-A-Thon for United Way

SUNY Oswego is hosting its 22nd annual United Way Walk-A-Thon Oct. 12 on campus.

Each year it is sponsored by Auxiliary Services and is now coordinated by VEGA, a women’s honor society.

All proceeds of the walk will go to United Way of Greater Oswego County and will ultimately benefit various programs within the community.

The 5K walk will take place Saturday, Oct. 12. The $5 registration fee for the walk will be a direct donation to the United Way.

Registration will take place right before the walk at noon in front of Lanigan Hall. There are no pre-registrations.

The first 150 participants to register will receive a free T-shirt.

The walk will circle campus, passing Sheldon Hall during its 100th anniversary year, and the newly opened Richard S. Shineman Center for Science, Engineering and Innovation.

At the end of the walk, there will be a drawing for prizes. Supporters who are unable to participate, but wish to contribute, can do so by making a donation online at www.oswegounitedway.org.

“United Way of Greater Oswego County applauds SUNY Oswego students and staff in their volunteer efforts to support the community. Their commitment to the walk-a-thon event has helped to raise awareness of local human needs and the programs that address them,” Lois Luber, resource development director at United Way of Greater Oswego County said.

United Way of Greater Oswego County raises funds from the community each year for specific programs that help thousands of people right here in Oswego County.

United Way of Greater Oswego County, located on South First Street in Oswego, is part of a national network of 1,300 United Ways. Additional information is available at OswegoUnitedWay.org.

OCO Health Services Open House Oct. 10 in Fulton, Oswego

Anyone looking to learn more about the changing face of healthcare should attend the Oswego County Opportunities health Services Open House from 2 to 5 p.m. Oct. 10.

In recognition of National Health Service Corps’ Corps Community Day OCO’s Open House will offer community members the opportunity to meet OCO’s health services staff and tour the agency’s Fulton Center at 522 S. Fourth St., Suite 400 and OCO’s Oswego Center at 10 George Street, Suite 100.

Penny Halstead, administrative assistant with OCO Health and Nutrition, said representatives from OCO Health Services will be at both locations to answer questions, and provide information on health services and programs such as: WIC; family and individual health insurance plans; Migrant Services, Outreach and Education; and Cancer Services which includes free cancer screenings for cervical, breast and colorectal cancer.

The Nation Health Service Corps (NHSC) focuses on building healthy communities that are designated in medically underserved areas with limited access to care.  To achieve this goal the NHSC offers financial support to primary care providers in underserved communities. It makes it attractive for healthcare providers to practice underserved communities.

“Over the years we have had many healthcare providers on our staff who have benefited from NHSC support, including several of our current staff members.  Their commitment provides access to quality healthcare and makes for a healthier community.  We are proud to be a part of Community Corps Day and to celebrate our providers,” said Halstead.

For more information on the Health Services Open House at OCO’s Fulton and Oswego Centers, contact Penny Halstead at 315-592-0721, or visit the OCO website at www.oco.org.

OCO, Inc is a private, non-profit agency that has been supporting communities throughout Oswego County since 1966. A member agency of the United Way of Greater Oswego County, OCO provides more than 50 vital services throughout 80 separate locations.  For more information, visit www.oco.org.

 

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Anthony Joseph Swingtet performs Oct. 18 at Under the Moon

The Anthony Joseph Swingtet will be the first featured performer Oct. 18 at Under the Moon.

The band will perform from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. as Under The Moon launches “Under The Moon: Where The Stars Come Out” live cabaret entertainment and dining, said co-owners Bill and Karen Hubel.

Under the Moon is located directly beneath Blue Moon Grill, also owned by the Hubels, in Fulton’s Canal Landing.

“We will have a full bar and table service featuring our special Tapas menu,” said Bill Hubel. “There is no cover charge and reservations are welcome, but not necessary.

“We anticipate a very enthusiastic response to this opportunity to enjoy soft, intimate live music in Under The Moon’s warm ambiance,” he said.

The Anthony Joseph Swingtet has become especially popular among jazz enthusiasts who appreciate the refreshing new energy the group brings to various classic jazz standards and ballads that have stood the test of time.

The group was among the featured performers at the 2013 Fulton Jazz Festival and they appeared Under The Moon as part of two benefit performances that preceded the Fulton Jazz Festival.

The Swingtet’s 2007 CD was recorded as a trio and received a 2008 SAMMY Award nomination.

The Swingtet performers for Under The Moon are: Anthony Joseph, clarinet and vocals; Bill Palange, trombone; Tom Bronzetti, guitar; and Dave Welsch, acoustic bass.

The group provides the listener with a ‘swingin’ sound that is smooth, sweet, and in the groove. Usually performing as a small combo (trio, quartet or quintet), the group has been described as providing a ‘chamber music-like jazz setting, creating a pleasant atmosphere that is comfortable for the listener to enjoy the music.’

It is also quite obvious that the band genuinely enjoys performing and will naturally develop a friendly rapport with their audience.

“Tony Joseph is a master at connecting with his audience through both music and conversation,” Bill Hubel said.

For more information, contact Karen or Bill Hubel at 598-4770.

Fulton Common Council discusses domestic violence, campaign signs, STAR registration

By Ashley M. Casey

 

Fulton mayor Ronald L. Woodward Sr. has proclaimed October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. He presented the proclamation to representatives from Oswego County Opportunities’ Services to Aid Families Education program at the Oct. 1 Common Council meeting.

“[I] urge all citizens to observe this month by becoming aware of the tragedy of domestic violence, supporting those who are working toward its end and participating in community efforts,” Woodward’s proclamation read.

Meredith Needham, SAF Education program manager, and Sara Gozzi, SAF educator, accepted the proclamation on behalf of OCO.

A few council members spoke on the urgency of the issue of domestic violence in the community.

“It hits close to home,” said Fifth Ward councilor and council president Norman “Jay” Foster. He told the council and meeting attendees that his aunt had suffered abuse at the hands of her husband. “In my ward there’s a lot of issues with (this). You get out there and try to see what’s going on. It’s all about quality of life for the neighbors.”

Third Ward councilor Peter Franco also attested to the local effects of domestic violence. He commended the work of OCO’s SAF program employees.

“I was a police officer for a few years before I became a councilor, and domestic violence was really our biggest issue,” Franco said. “I want to thank (Needham and Gozzi) for doing what you do — it takes a lot.”

After the meeting, Needham and Gozzi said that SAF will be offering support throughout the county for communities to create their own campaigns against domestic violence.

“We’ve talked a lot about community change and how we can get it out to the community,” said Gozzi. “The leadership (in the county) is supportive of ending domestic violence.”

Needham said that SAF has reached out to City Hall in Oswego to light their building purple on Oct. 10 to raise awareness of the issue. “Silent witness” displays in Fulton and Pulaski include a shadow figure of a woman with information about domestic violence, surrounded by purple flags to represent the people SAF served in 2012.

Gozzi said that SAF is working with Oswego County pizzerias to put information about domestic violence on pizza box tops.

Needham said that providing communities with the tools to create their own campaigns would be more effective than SAF simply stepping in and doing all the work.

“It’s letting communities change themselves,” she said.

SAF is asking all Oswego County residents to wear purple Oct. 10 in solidarity with survivors of domestic violence.

“(The goal is to) get everyone in the community to say, ‘I know domestic violence exists, and I’m not okay with it,’” Needham said.

STAR registration explained

The council welcomed Kris Nuñez and Kay Kearney from the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance (DTF) to present on the new STAR registration process.

Under new state legislation, Basic STAR recipients are encouraged to register this year with DTF either online or by phone. This is to eliminate intentional and unintentional fraud and to make sure only

qualified homeowners receive STAR exemptions. Basic STAR recipients will not have to re-register every year after this application for 2014.

In August, homeowners should have received in the mail a packet containing property information, instructions on how to register and a unique STAR code. Visit tax.ny.gov and click on “Register for STAR” to register. You may also look up your STAR code on this website. Call 518-457-2036 with any questions or to register by phone. The deadline is Dec. 31.

The new legislation does not apply to senior citizens who receive Enhanced STAR benefits.They must continue to register with their local assessor.

VanBuren revamp contractor announced

The city has selected a contractor for minor repairs and painting of the VanBuren Park tennis courts. On the recommendation of recreation superintendent Barry Ostrander, the council unanimously voted for the low bidder E-Z Paving, which bid $25,900 for the job.

The other bidders were Nagle Athletic Services and Super Seal Sealcoating Co. Bids were accepted until 2 p.m. Sept. 20 and then read publicly at 2:15 p.m. that day.

Issues around town

A public hearing was held regarding the zone change on the block surrounded by Highland Street, South Third Street, East Broadway and Park Street. The block, which contains 14 residences, was changed from R-2, Residential, to R-1A, Residential, which allows single-family residences on smaller parcels of land.

There were no objections from the public or the council.

“I’m very encouraged by doing this,” said Foster. “It’s a good, healthy move to make … to promote better neighborhoods.”

Frank Castiglia Jr., who is running for county legislator in the 25th District, used the public forum to express a complaint about excessive campaign signs on city property.

“If it was my way, I’d say just put one of each candidate per block,” Castiglia said. “Yard signs put on city-owned property is a little bit annoying because if they have to do mowing, they have to move the signs.”

Woodward said that any signs found on city-owned property were removed.

“We throw them away,” he said. “They’re not supposed to be there.” Woodward stressed that signs were allowed on city right-of-way areas because that is public right-of-way as well.

Castiglia also asked about the city’s use of bond anticipation notes. Woodward explained that these are short-term bonds that must be paid off within five years, or within the useful life of the object they are used to purchase. Police cars, for example, are considered to have a three-year useful life by New York state. If not paid within that period, the bond goes to long-term or permanent financing.

Woodward said the city’s current bond anticipation notes are being used for equipment and vehicle purchases, as well as asbestos encapsulation and water damage repair at the fire department and municipal building.

Proposed 2014 county budget unveiled

Oswego County residents could see their taxes go up about 16 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation if the proposed 2014 county budget is adopted.

County Administrator Philip Church unveiled the proposed spending plan for 2014 at this week’s meeting of the legislature’s finance and personnel committee.

The proposed budget totals $197,408,657 and carries a real property tax levy (the amount to be raised by taxes) of $43,053,017. This falls within the limit of the state-mandated real property tax cap.

The proposal includes a tax rate of $7.26 per $1,000, up from $7.10 per $1,000 paid by taxpayers in 2013. Church said in his budget statement that the average Oswego County house is assessed for $94,500, so someone with this house would pay $15 more in county taxes in 2014 than in 2013.

Church said when he began putting the budget together, the tax levy (amount to be raised by taxes) was at about $48.5 million. But savings in social services costs, electricity and employee costs due to attrition and use of $5.5 million in unappropriated fund balance and reserves, he was able to pare it to $43,053,017.

He cautioned county legislators that pulling money out of fund balance and reserves must continue to slow and warned that pulling more out this year to create a 0 percent tax increase could cause problems.

“We’ve been through many lean years lately due to mandate increases and a poor economy, and as a result, our reserves and fund balance are decreasing,” said he in his budget message to the finance committee. “The annual operating budgets are not generating monies adequate to replace reserves and fund balance anymore. Add to this the unpredictable impact of Entergy’s tax certiorari, which could force the county to refund several million dollars to the company.”

Entergy, owner of the James FitzPatrick Nuclear Plant in Scriba, is challenging its assessment in court. If successful in its challenge, Entergy may be owned millions in back taxes from the county.

“The preservation of our fund balance and reserves is, therefore, imperative,” he said in the budget statement. “I strongly recommend that any further reductions identified by the legislature during the budget process be applied to lower our reliance on fund balance and reserves, rather than lower taxes.”

Church did say, though, that the $5.5 million being used in the 2014 budget is more than $1 million less than what was used in the 2013 budget, “thereby making important progress in the vital goal of reducing reliance on these declining sources.”

No one is getting raises in the proposed county budget except those in the Civil Service Employees Association union contract. There are no layoffs and no new positions being created. Eight positions are being eliminated, five were downgraded and 32 vacancies are being filled at lower salaries.

Here are positives and negatives in the proposed budget:

Positives:

** After tripling from $3.1 million in 2009 to $9.3 million in 2013, the county’s contribution to the NYS Pension System decreased slightly by $200,000.

** Medicaid is now capped at $25,614,052 and Medicaid transportation has decreased $1.65 million.

** CHiPs (highway) revenue increased more than $500,000.

** The Health Department decreased it net cost by $112,020, partially by the elimination of three positions.

** The Department of Social Services continues to implement improvements, including elimination of under-performing contracts, maximizing the productivity of the current workforce and remaining contracts. Despite significant increases in mandates services, the department’s draft budget lowers its net cost to taxpayers by more than $200,000.

Negatives:

** State mandates continue to rise in costs to local taxpayers.

** Foster care costs are increasing $600,000.

** Maintenance for the new emergency communications system is increasing $309,000 because it is the first full year on the contract.

** Health insurance for employees and retirees is going up $433,987.

** An increase in the county-paid chargeback allowed by the state for tuition payments to Cayuga Community College increased nearly 85 percent. This increased Oswego County’s community college budget from $3.8 million to $5.4 million.

The overall tax rate paid by taxpayers is down about 20 percent from 2005. The tax rate decreased from 2005 to 2008, then stayed the same for 2009, then went down again in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

The rate increased from  $6.95 to $7.10 from 2912 to 2913.

The next step in the budget process is the legislature committees will review the budgets for their particular areas — for example, the public safety committee will review the sheriff’s department budget. Each committee can make recommendations for changes.

Then the finance and personnel committee will look over all recommendations and either approve them or deny them.

The full legislature must approve a final budget by Dec. 20.

 

Rachel’s Challenge against bullying comes to Fulton Junior High

By Oswego County BOCES

For the second year, Rachel’s Challenge was brought to the Fulton Junior High School for three presentations.

Rachel’s Challenge is a school assembly program that combines footage of the Columbine High School shooting with Rachel Scott’s inspiring drawings and writings in a campaign to quell bullying. Scott was among the students killed during the 1999 shooting in Colorado.

The presentation for eighth-graders focused on five new challenges for students.

Mike Walker of Rachel’s Challenge presented these guiding principles: leave a legacy of kindness, show compassion, practice pre-acceptance, learn from mistakes and forgive yourself and others.

The presentation didn’t end there. Later in the afternoon, 100 students were chosen for the Friends of Rachel Club. The FOR Club is a place for students to feel safe and comfortable. Students were chosen based on staff recommendations and student interest.

FOR Club is an extension of Rachel’s Challenge, and provides the opportunity to continue on with the message of kindness and compassion throughout the school year. Eighth grade English teacher Emily Paglia is the FOR Club Advisor.

As a result of last year’s program, students involved in FOR Club helped the SPCA and talked about animal cruelty, sent chickens and goats to third world countries, raised funds during Fall Fest and visited Seneca Hill Manor, delivering Christmas cards and valentines.

Principal Ryan Lanigan said that he’s seen the school’s culture change in a positive way since introducing Rachel’s Challenge last year. “This is their club,” said Lanigan.“We want students who want to take ownership to be a part of the decision making process.”

At the beginning of the one and a half hour afternoon session, Walker asked students how the presentation impacted them. A handful of students shared their stories on how they’ve overcome adversity. The message beneath each personal account was to find your true friends and that things will get better.

The Friends of Rachel Club students broke up into small groups to brainstorm project ideas for the upcoming year. Collectively it was decided that the first project would be to use the stairwells as a blank canvas for tracing student’s hands and filling them with kind words.

Rice Creek welcomes public back with “Celebrating Science” event

 Submitted by SUNY Oswego

After a year of construction on a new field station, SUNY Oswego’s Rice Creek invites the public to a welcome-back afternoon of events titled “Celebrating Science at Rice Creek” on Saturday, Oct. 12, to highlight science research, programming and fun with nature at the popular 400-acre living laboratory.

Dozens of family-oriented events, rain or shine from noon to 5 p.m., will include the following: guided trail walks — highlighting such topics as plant identification, invasive species, nature photography and butterfly research; children’s walks and an investigation station; facility tours and collection displays; and faculty, staff, student and community expert talks, information and demonstrations, including a keynote presentation by plant ecology expert and SUNY Oswego biological sciences faculty member Dr. C. Eric Hellquist.

The free public program will include shuttle service to Rice Creek from the parking area at Fallbrook Recreation Center. Both Rice Creek, 1 mile south of the main SUNY Oswego campus, and Fallbrook, about 1.5 miles, are on Thompson Road, just west of the main college entrance off State Route 104.

Events running concurrently all afternoon will include hands-on demonstrations of amphibian research and the chemistry of plants, a visit to the observatory to use the telescope and learn about daytime astronomy, a giant-pumpkin display, tours of the new, 7,700-square-foot field station and self-guided tours that include the Ruth Sachidanandan Herb Garden, whose new sign will have been dedicated in a ceremony that morning.

From noon to 3 p.m., “Celebrating Science” will offer information about bird migration and ecology; an information table for the facility’s community support group, Rice Creek Associates; a 20-minute media presentation titled “Rice Creek Field Station: A Journey to the Future”; wildlife viewing and tables for children to explore nature, art and more.

Hellquist’s 3 p.m. Rice Creek Reflections presentation, titled “The Great Lakes Watershed: Botanical Crossroads of a Continent,” will discuss the lakes’ notable position in the study of plant ecology, including some species found nowhere else in the world. Great Lakes ecosystems are home to a variety of plants whose presence reflects ecological conditions related to the lakes themselves, geological context and changing climate over the past 100,000 years, the scientist noted.

For a complete list of the day’s events, including the schedule of topic-specific guided trail walks and talks, visit oswego.edu/ricecreek or call 312-6677.