Category Archives: Featured Stories

CCC Fulton students learn to ‘Arrive Alive’

By Ashley M. Casey

Students at Cayuga Community College’s Fulton campus learned about the dangers of texting or drinking while driving in Arrive Alive’s virtual reality driving simulation on Sept. 17.

UNITE International, a national distracted driving prevention organization, sends the Arrive Alive tour to high schools, colleges and other places around the country.

After answering a survey and signing a “Fight for Life” pledge to not drive distracted, participants took a “spin” in a Kia Soul outfitted with sensors on the steering wheel, brakes and gas pedal while wearing virtual reality goggles that showed a busy road course.

Drivers could choose between a program that simulated the effects of driving while drunk, or a program that allowed them to text using their own phones while attempting to drive.

Once the simulation was over, Arrive Alive team leaders Patrick Sheehy and Marty Burke, both of Myrtle Beach, S.C., presented the driver with a “citation” of his or her infractions, ranging from not driving the posted limit to vehicular manslaughter, and asked them to take a follow-up survey.

For Sheehy, the issue of distracted driving is personal. At the age of 18, Sheehy ran his car off the road into a tree while changing the radio station. He later joined the Arrive Alive campaign to prevent other drivers — especially teenagers and young adults — from making the same mistakes.

“A lot of people don’t realize you’re actually four times more likely to get in an accident while texting and driving (than drinking and driving),” Sheehy explained.

He and Burke spend the school year driving their virtual-reality-outfitted Kia Soul across the country. They also show informational videos on alcohol- and texting-related car accidents and their tragic, lifelong consequences. UNITE compiles the surveys they administer to present to schools and for a nationwide research project.

“When I realized how many people this really needed to reach, that’s when I decided to stick with it and get the word out. It’s an epidemic,” said Burke, who has worked with Arrive Alive for about three years.

A few CCC students who tried the simulation shared their thoughts on the eye-opening experience.

Ricky Colón of Oswego said that he was familiar with the dangers of texting or drinking and driving through safety courses he took while in the Army.

“It’s something that happens way too frequently, so we have to have more severe laws,” Colón said. “It’s a good reminder.”

New York state announced in August that the penalty for texting while driving is five points on one’s license and a minimum $230 fine.

After trying the simulator himself, Devon Thomason of Fulton encouraged his friends and classmates to do the same.

“I’m a new driver as it is. I’m not invincible and I know it,” he said. “I’m not going to put my life at risk to send a text message. It’s stupid.”

Caroline Braley of Oswego vowed to stop texting while driving.

“I knew it was dangerous but I didn’t realize how much more dangerous it is. It was hard to focus on the road, keep my speed, watch out for pedestrians and send a text message all at once,” she said of the simulator.

Arrive Alive also visited CCC’s Auburn campus Sept. 18. This was their first visit to the Fulton campus.

For more information about Arrive Alive and UNITE’s mission to end distracted driving, visit arrivealivetour.com.

Threatening skies fail to cancel 9/11 remembrance

By Tracy Kinne

Skies were threatening, thunder rumbled in the distance and a few stray, light raindrops blew in the breeze at Henley Park in Phoenix a little after 6 p.m. Wednesday.

The village’s annual Sept. 11 remembrance ceremony was due to start in less than 30 minutes, and the National Weather Service had issued a severe storm watch.

“It’s going to go around us,” said Dan Dunn, a chief officer of Phoenix Enterprise Fire Co. No. 1.

Other firefighters raised a flag between ladder trucks from the Phoenix and Moyers Corners fire departments.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars, Phoenix post, lined up along the Oswego Canal. Members of Boy Scout Troop 750 scurried around.

Young people handed out red, white and blue helium-filled balloons to spectators, who were setting up lawn chairs.

For the rest of this story, pick up the Sept. 14 edition of The Valley News. Call 598-6397 to subscribe.

Budding authors debut work at Fulton Municipal Building

Fulton Memoirs Writing Project

Participants of Jim Farfaglia’s memoir writing workshop will present “The Stories from Our Past that Inspire Our Future” at 6 p.m. Sept. 19 at the Fulton Municipal Building, 141 S. First St.

Refreshments will be available.

For more information, visit jimfarfaglia.weebly.com or call the Fulton Public Library at 592-5159.

By Ashley M. Casey

Local author Jim Farfaglia teamed up with the Fulton Public Library to get the people of Fulton to share their stories of living in the city through the Fulton Memoirs Writing Project.

More than 40 locals participated, and will read excerpts from their work aloud at 6 p.m. Sept. 19 at the Fulton Municipal Building.

Made possible by a grant from the state Council on the Arts, Farfaglia led a series of writing workshops to draw memories out of his participants for the project, called “The Stories from Our Past that Inspire Our Future.” The memoirs will be collected for a book, the profits of which will benefit the library.

For the rest of this story, pick up the Sept. 14 edition of The Valley News. Call 598-6397 to subscribe.

Barbecue fundraiser nets $2,700 for Lake Neatahwanta cleanup

By Tracy Kinne

The Lake Neatahwanta Revitalization Committee raised about $2,700 at a chicken barbecue fundraiser Sept. 7 at Bullhead Point, said Mayor Ronald L. Woodward Sr.

Crystal English, owner of Shannons Hotdogs by Crystal, donated her proceeds from the day to the committee.

Also, core samples taken from the bottom of the lake were analyzed and revealed no substances that would require special disposal, Woodward said.

Woodward, who is a member of the revitalization committee, spoke prior to a special city council meeting Tuesday.

The samples all were “type A,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with them,” Woodward said. “We don’t have worry about how we get rid of it.”

The committee plans to dredge the lake bottom to get rid of sediment, he said.

“Can we take the signs down?” asked Dan Knopp, a committee member, referring to no-swimming signs posted around the lake.

The signs refer to blue-green algae, which can be toxic, so they will have to stay up, Woodward said.

But the goal is clean the lake enough that the algae disappears.

United Way kicks off 2013-14 fundraising campaign with soul

By Ashley M. Casey

Campaign Cabinet members of the United Way of Greater Oswego County donned fedoras, suits and sunglasses in a creative effort to present the organization’s 2014 fundraising goal of $800,000 at the 2014 Campaign Kick-off Breakfast.

Rob Rolfe, recently named the sole chair of the Campaign Cabinet, explained they were inspired by the 1980 movie “The Blues Brothers,” in which Jake and Elwood Blues reunite their band to raise money for the orphanage in which they grew up.

“We put the band back together for each and every one of you,” Rolfe said at the breakfast, held Sept. 11 at the American Foundry in Oswego.

For the rest of this story, pick up the Sept. 14 edition of The Valley News. Call 598-6397 to subscribe.

Tempers flare at Fulton school board meeting

446 people sign petition opposing changes brought about by conflict of interest policy; Egan appointed Volney principal

By Tracy Kinne

The Fulton board of education Tuesday night appointed a former superintendent as interim principal at Volney Elementary School, a few hours after a petition with 446 signatures was presented to the district saying, “We want our principal back!”

The petition, which makes reference to  the Volney school, says former Principal Jeff Hendrickson was forced into switching to a different school and that students are devastated by the change.

It suggests that teachers be moved instead of principals, says the switch in administrators is a change that the signers do  not want and says, “Save our principal.”

For the rest of this story, pick up the Sept. 14 edition of The Valley News. Call 598-6397 to subscribe.

County expects to keep any tax hike under 2 percent

By Debra J. Groom

Oswego County legislators should have a copy of the 2014 draft county budget to peruse come October.

County Administrator Philip Church told members of the Finance and Personnel committee this week that he expects to have a draft budget ready for the Oct. 10 legislature meeting.

He told the committee so far, “there should be no worries about meeting the (2 percent state) tax cap.”

New York state instituted a 2 percent tax cap in 2011. According to the state Comptroller’s website, “under this law, the growth in the property tax levy, the total amount to be raised through property taxes, … is capped at 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less.”

For the rest of this story, pick up the Sept. 11 edition of The Valley News. Call 598-6397 to subscribe.