Category Archives: Featured Stories

Hot times

by Leon Archer

Man, is it me or have we had a lot more hot sticky weather than is usual in upstate New York this year?

Sure, I can remember plenty of days in my 70-plus years when the temperatures pushed 100 and nights were so humid that the sheets on my bed were wet from sweat almost before I hit the hay, but

I don’t remember such long stretches of uncomfortable heat. I haven’t checked the historic weather records, so maybe it’s just my sometimes faulty memory, but in any case, I don’t believe anyone would deny it’s been really steamy so far in 2013.

The heat hasn’t left me with any desire to go fishing lately, but if I was so inclined I would probably opt for going out on the open water in a boat.

I certainly wouldn’t take a hot sweaty hike down a little trout stream, but sitting beside a lake, pond or big stream in a folding chair with a cooler of cold drinks at my side while I waited for a bite would be acceptable as long as the fish didn’t keep me too busy.

We had a family reunion last week and all my children and grandchildren were here with the exception of my oldest grandson, Willie, a marine deployed overseas.

We did a picnic at Fairhaven and a trip to Boldt Castle in the St. Lawrence, but mostly we did inside things where we could take advantage of air conditioning. The youngsters all went to Sea Breeze one day, but Sweet Thing and I stayed home and relaxed.

Usually when we have our biannual family reunion we do some fishing, but I wasn’t able to put it together with the rest of the things we were doing.

Now that the reunion has run its course, a weekend in Canada at my son’s property on 30 Island Lake is in the cards and I’m looking forward to that.


To read the rest of the column, please pick up a copy of The Valley News or subscribe by calling 598-6397


Fire department offers free smoke detectors

Free smoke detectors – With the help of Eagle Beverage and Raby’s Ace Home Center, the Oswego Fire Department is offering free smoke detectors to owner-occupied residences in need. From left are Lt. Brooks Hourigan, secretary of The Oswego Firefighters Association; Rob Raby of Raby’s Ace Home Center; Jeff McCrobie, fire chief; Dan Dorsey Jr., co-owner of Eagle Beverage; and John Geraci, president of the Oswego Fire Fighters Association.
Free smoke detectors – With the help of Eagle Beverage and Raby’s Ace Home Center, the Oswego Fire Department is offering free smoke detectors to owner-occupied residences in need. From left are Lt. Brooks Hourigan, secretary of The Oswego Firefighters Association; Rob Raby of Raby’s Ace Home Center; Jeff McCrobie, fire chief; Dan Dorsey Jr., co-owner of Eagle Beverage; and John Geraci, president of the Oswego Fire Fighters Association.

Oswego residents in need of a smoke detector need to look no further!

With the help of Eagle Beverage and Raby’s Ace Home Center, the Oswego Fire Department is offering free smoke detectors to owner-occupied residences in need.

“This program is an outstanding example of people helping people,” said Jeff McCrobie, Oswego fire chief.

Eagle Beverage kicked off its “Paint the Town Black” fund-raiser in early March, selling Guinness Firefighter Helmets at more than 40 taverns, restaurants, and convenience stores in Jefferson and Oswego counties.

All the money raised was matched dollar for dollar by Eagle Beverage and passed along to local fire departments in the area.

The Oswego Fire Department was given a check for $934 dollars. The department will use the money to help buy smoke detectors.

“The association chose to purchase smoke detectors for local residents in need with the money donated and contacted Raby’s, who donated 100 detectors,” said John Geraci, president of the Oswego Fire Fighters Association. “Raby’s was also generous enough to provide other detectors at a reduced price.”

“We are so glad to see the money raised with the generosity of the community put to good use,” said Dan Dorsey, Jr. co-owner of Eagle Beverage. “Being that this was the first year we did the fund-raiser and having such a positive turn out, we are looking forward to next year and raising more money to give back to the local fire departments. “

Those seeking more information on this program may call the Oswego Fire Department at 343-2161.




Literacy Volunteers hold annual picnic to recognize students and tutors

More than 80 people gathered at Breitbeck Park in Oswego Thursday, July 11 for Literacy Volunteers of Oswego County’s annual picnic and awards ceremony.

The evening began with Sarah Irland, deputy executive director of Oswego County Opportunities, welcoming all attendees. The picnic was an occasion for everyone to share their stories and have a good time.

“This event gives the organization an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of its outstanding students and tutors and to express appreciation to all of our supporters,” said Beth Kazel, education director of OCO. “The highlight of the evening was the enthusiasm of student Andrei Gunin and tutor Nancy DeGilormo whose speeches reminded us of what LVOC is all about.

“In the United States, the ability to read, write and speak in English are the most important skills needed in daily life, something many of us take for granted,” Kazel added. “Our students recognize the significance of these skills.”

This affair acknowledges the courage and determination of all of the students in pursuing the ability to read and the generosity of the volunteers for their time and dedication.

Over the past year, the program has grown serving almost triple the number of people compared to last year at this time.

From July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013 volunteers tutored over 2,600 hours.

“It was extremely difficult selecting our award recipients this year,” said Meg Henderson, LVOC Program coordinator. “The program has expanded. We serve both Basic Literacy Learners and English Language Learners. We have greatly increased the number of students we provide literacy services to including people residing in rural areas of Oswego County.

“Many students made progress and educational gains,” Henderson added. “All of our tutors and students worked very hard and accomplished numerous goals.  Besides improving their reading, math, computer or communication skills; many gained or retained employment, were promoted, became actively involved in their child’s literacy activities and education, entered a secondary education program, obtained a driver’s license, and much more.” Henderson noted, “All of our tutors are devoted to their students and rejoice in their progress. We have recruited many new tutors this year to meet our growing demand. It is through everyone’s hard work and dedication that we have accomplished so much this past year.

“Everyone here is driven by their love of literacy, need to help, and desire to learn,” she continued. “We continue to learn and aspire to improve throughout our lifetimes. I am proud of every one of our students and I am very grateful to all of our tutors. Our annual picnic is a good time to honor all of them (students and tutors).”

Awards were presented by Henderson and Kazel. Award winners were presented with a commendation from Senator Patty Ritchie and Assemblyman Will Barclay.

The Citizenship Award was given to student Cindy Jiang. Students recognized for completing the program were Mike Kemp and Yin Yin Sim-Fellows.

The top three BLL Students of the Year were Eric Lance, David Loftus, and Jennifer Pickard.  The top three ELL Students of the Year were Andrei Gunin, Jung Ha Lee, and Carlos Rodriguez.

The Spirit of Literacy recipients were students Steve Kirby, Patricia Mazzoli and Ndomba Tshiwabwa.

Tutors Vivian Anderson, Laurie Wood and Dianne Woods were given the Outstanding Dedication Award.

Tutors of the Year were awarded to Laura Bishop, Kathy Boutelle, and Bridgette Sequin.

Volunteers of the Year were tutors Nancy DeGilormo and Mary Stancampiano.

Arrest made in possible meth lab in Oswego

An arrest has been made as a result of the investigation into a possible methamphetamine lab at 11 Gregory St. Oswego, according to Oswego police.

Brenda L. Howard, 41, who lives at the residence, was charged with third-degree unlawful manufacture of methamphetamine, a class D felony.

During the afternoon Wednesday, Oswego police, with the assistance of the New York State Police Contaminated Crime Scene Emergency Response Team), executed a search warrant at 11 Gregory St.

Pursuant to the execution of said search warrant, items used to manufacture methamphetamine were seized. Those items, coupled with other evidence gained during the investigation, allegedly showed that Howard possessed them with the intent that they be used to manufacture methamphetamine

Around 11 p.m., the scene has been released and Gregory St. reopened.

Howard was held at the Oswego City Police Department pending arraignment in Oswego City Court. The investigation is continuing and further arrests are possible.


Mexico Point Park to hold Severin Bischof art show

Art show in Mexico – Friends of Mexico Point Park are hosting an art show featuring Severin Bischof’s watercolors and wood cuts. Friday, Aug. 9 at 7 p.m. will be opening night with a wine and dessert gala. There will be an admission fee. The show will continue Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 10 and 11 from 1 to 4 p.m. There is an admission price as well.
Art show in Mexico – Friends of Mexico Point Park are hosting an art show featuring Severin Bischof’s watercolors and wood cuts. Friday, Aug. 9 at 7 p.m. will be opening night with a wine and dessert gala. There will be an admission fee. The show will continue Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 10 and 11 from 1 to 4 p.m. There is an admission price as well.

Friends of Mexico Point Park are hosting an art show featuring Severin Bischof’s watercolors and wood cuts.

Friday, Aug. 9 at 7 p.m. will be opening night with a wine and dessert gala. There will be an admission fee.

The show will continue Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 10 and 11 from 1 to 4 p.m. There is an admission price as well.

This is a fund-raiser for the maintenance and restoration of Casey’s Cottage. Those seeking reservations may call 963-7657 or email Betty at

Bischof, a master painter, was born in 1893 in Germany where he apprenticed and began is art career. He learned to restore religious paintings and worked in the great cathedrals in Europe.

He also learned the art of cutting glass and was a decorative painter of furniture.

In 1928, Bischof was an art student at Syracuse University, and later worked for Syroco, an ornamental woodworking company.

While at Syracuse University, he met Dr. William Casey and began what became a lifelong friendship.   Dr. Casey, a sociology professor at Columbia University, summered at Mexico Point Park.

The unused carriage house at Mexico Point was transformed into Casey’s Cottage by the two close friends. Casey provided the means and Bischof provided the designs.

The art show will feature the artwork of Bischof including his woodcuts and pastels of his vision for transforming the carriage house into Casey’s Cottage.

According to John Bischof, the artist’s son, “The cottage was a work of love, a place of beauty, friends, companionship and good conversation only.”

‘Fulton Idol’ seeks youth voices

“Fulton Idol” will take place at First United Church of Fulton, 33 S. Third St., Fulton, Aug. 5-9 from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

“Fulton Idol” has been described as “a star making experience.”

It is designed for youth ages 10-15 as an opportunity to develop and display vocal performances by individuals and by groups.

There is no charge to partcipate. Highly qualified voice coaches will work with vocalists with a performance of songs scheduled for Friday evening, Aug. 9.

Significant cash prizes will be awarded to the top three entries.

Registrations are due to Thursday, Aug. 1. Those seeking to register my call First United Church at 592-2707 or e-mail

This event is sponsored by the Open Doors Neighborhood Center, a ministry of the First United Church of Fulton.

OCO Education Services feels impact of federal sequestration

For hundreds of low-income families in Oswego County, the dream of having their children begin their school years as well prepared as their peers has ended.

Federal Sequestration, which many first heard months ago, has affected Oswego County Opportunities’ Education Services.

For decades OCO’s Head Start program in Pulaski has prepared youth ages 3 and 4 to begin school ready to succeed. This fall, however, there will be no Head Start program in Pulaski.

Federal Sequestration has resulted in a $118,403.00 cut to Head Start locally. Due to the loss of these funds, the Head Start program will no longer be available in the Pulaski School District.

The Cleveland Head Start, which serves the Central Square School District, has been forced to eliminate one of its two classes.

Additionally, these cuts have a domino affect that goes well beyond the loss of vital services to low-income children and their families.

The loss of three teachers, the reduction of hours to 11 other staff members, and the loss of an administrative position will directly affect the local economy as well, according to OCO Director of Education Services Beth Kazel.

“Reliable studies have found that the positive long-term effects of Head Start result in lower rates of grade repetition and special education placement, as well as increased high school graduation rates for Head Start graduates,” said Kazel. “Additionally, Head Start children are significantly more likely to attend college than their siblings who did not attend Head Start.”

Head Start does much more than prepare children to begin their school career, she noted. It helps parents work with their children and strengthen their parenting skills as well.

It also provides comprehensive services, including a registered dietician who plans healthy, nutritious menus and offers nutrition counseling to parents; family services staff who advocate for, and work directly with, parents; mental health consultants who observe Head Start children and work with parents and teachers on issues such as child behavior; and nurses who connect with parents and staff on children’s health needs such as dental exams and other health issues.

“Head Start provides a healthy and a safe learning environment where children learn through play,” said teacher and Pulaski Head Start Center Director Sue Austin. “We also assist families with everything from getting enrolled in GED programs, to enrolling in college, finding jobs, and other referrals for success in their communities.  Head Start provides opportunities for parents to become involved in their child’s education in a positive and supportive setting.

“I have seen firsthand how former Head Start students are thriving in the public school system,” she added. “Over the years, we have welcomed back former students to volunteer and read to our class.  It has been amazing to see their growth as students, both academically and personally.

“We not only help the students academically but also socially and emotionally,” she continued. “Over the past nine years more than 180 families in the Pulaski school district have been given a head start on their education.  We will sincerely miss the children and the families that we have had the pleasure to come to know. Our only hope is that we have made a difference in their lives as much as they have made in ours.”

Robin France has had two sons go through the Head Start program and has had the opportunity to experience Head Start as a mother and as a teacher.

Her connection with Head Start inspired her to continue her education and pursue her goal of teaching. France, who holds a BA in early childhood and a master’s in special education, is saddened by the affect Federal Sequestration is having on Head Start.

“It’s very hard to put your feelings into words when your heart is involved,” she said. “This isn’t a job; it’s what I am and what I do. To come in each day and have a child say ‘good morning’ and give you a hug; to see the ‘Aha!’ moment in their eyes and the wondrous expressions when they discover they could do it by themselves; to see them interact and problem solve with peers is priceless.”

While the cuts to the Head Start program affect three- and four-year-olds preparing for school, the complete elimination of the Rural After School Program will affect middle and high school age students in three Oswego County school districts.

The Rural After School Program served approximately 600 students in the APW, Hannibal, and Fulton school districts.

While not directly a result of the Federal Sequestration, OCO’s RASP and several other RASP programs in the state lost their funding when the annual request to renew the grant funding was denied.

OCO’s RASP was available every day and offered students a more social setting than the school day, allowing them to build healthy relationships with other students and adults.

Students were engaged in a number of educational, recreational and enrichment activities, as well as community service activities that allowed them to give back to, and feel connected to, their community in a positive way.

Research has shown that students involved in After School Programs do better both academically and socially as they achieve higher grades, better attendance records, and experience overall educational success.

RASP provided youth with a number of groups and activities, including: Social Support and Community Service Groups; Youth Issues Groups that address violence prevention, pregnancy prevention education, and substance use prevention; Life Skills Training; Recreation Activities; Tutoring; and Enrichment Activities.

Staffed by youth specialists, peer specialists, and academic staff members, RASP provided youth in rural areas with a productive way to fill their after school time.

Diane Cooper-Currier, executive director of OCO, said that while these cuts hurt, they in no way reflect on the quality or value of the programs or the employees who rendered these services.

“The services provided by these programs and staff were of the highest caliber,” she said. “The decrease or elimination of these programs is a reflection of the challenging fiscal times we’re currently facing. Regardless of the challenges we face, our mission remains the same. OCO continues helping people, supporting communities, and changing lives.”


In and Around Hannibal: July 13, 2013

InAndAroundHannibal1by Rita Hooper 

The “wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, the wheels on the bus go round and round all about the town!”

That’s how a good number of the children of Appalachia receive their dental care. The ToothBus, the size of a large mobile home, is staffed by volunteer dentists and dental assistants from Mission Children’s Dental, a part of Mission Children’s Hospital.

Doctors at Children’s Hospital soon found that tending to children’s oral health had vast benefits for their overall health.

Medicaid reimbursement to dentists is too low for dentists to be able to take many Medicaid patients. The ToothBus began operating 18 years ago.

Statistics from 2004 show that in the nation, there are 59 dentists per 100,000 people. In the distressed counties of Appalachia that number drops to four dentists per 100,000 people.

I wonder what the statistics are for Oswego County.

A recent study shows that North Carolina is one of five states that is failing in its efforts to prevent tooth decay. The ToothBus delivers convenient care to children who may have limited access to dental resources.

Each year, 500 to 600 children receive three to four visits from the ToothBus for regular dental check-ups, cleanings, sealant care and oral health education.

Since the bus began its travels, 7,500 children have received help and 20,000 visits have been made all across western NC working with the local school systems. This service is free and open to every child whether they are documented or not, receive Medicaid, have no insurance or parents can’t take the time off from work to take their children to the dentist.

They specialize in distraction techniques so that the child’s fears are lessened; the children also receive toothbrushes and a good dose of dental education. As one parent said, “I lost my teeth at 30 and I don’t want that to happen to my children.”

And so the “wheels on the bus continue to go round and round all about the town.”

Now to bring the story back to Hannibal: Once upon a time, Hannibal schools provided a dental hygienist for the students. As best we can figure, that service ended in the early 1970s due to budget cuts.

The last one in Hannibal was Mavis Nihoff, whose job it was to clean every students teeth once a year (1,400 students is the number I heard.) Her daughter, Kathy Gilbert said she used something that “tasted awful…maybe it was ashes!” If any of my readers would like to add to the story, please let me know!

Keep brushing and don’t forget to floss! Everyone has a right to a smile!

*  *  *  *  *

Sterling Valley Community Church’s annual ice cream social will be today at 5 p.m.  There will be food, including hot dogs, hamburgers, soda, ice cream and cake, popcorn and cotton candy. There will be a bake sale and lots of things for kids to do. The highlight of the evening will be music by the blue grass band “Different Brothers.”

Hannibal Senior Citizens will be meeting at noon for dinner. Come early for coffee and news or to work on the jigsaw puzzle or  cards. Give Rosemary a call and make your reservation at 564-5471. This week’s menu is:

• Monday, July 15: Barbecue turkey on hamburger roll, au gratin potatoes, vegetable, and tropical fruit. Monday will also be hobby day.

• Wednesday, July 17: Hoffman hotdog on roll, baked beans, seasonal salad, juice, and cookie. Wednesday will also feature music with Deanna Hubbard and bingo after lunch.

• Friday, July 19: Goulash, Italian blend vegetables, juice, and pineapple tidbits. Friday is also game day.

The Jammers will meet at the American Legion Monday evening at 7 p.m. If you play an instrument or sing, blue-grass, country, or Gospel come on over and join the fun.  Listeners are always welcome, too!

Summer reading at the library for children has begun. The sessions are Tuesdays through Thursdays from 10 to 11 a.m. for six weeks. This year’s theme is “Dig into Reading.”  Remember children are great copiers; if mom and dad read, the odds are that children will too.  Parents, check out what the library has in books that interest you!

Thursday, July 18, three will be a free concert, featuring Jeff Sawyer with Rick Bush, on the Hannibal Library lawn from 6 to 8 p.m. Friends of the Library will be serve ice-cream sundaes and the Elderberries will cook hot dogs and serve drinks. Come for supper or dessert. In case of rain, and we’ve had plenty of that, we’ll move everything to town hall.

An upcoming yard sale and bake sale to benefit Hannibal Home and School will be held at the Hannibal Library July 19 and 20 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. All proceeds go to Hannibal Home and School.

The Hannibal Summer Recreation Program has begun its summer season at the Hannibal Town Hall Park and Pavilion. Hannibal students in grades K-4 are welcome. Parent supervision is required and siblings in grades 5 and 6 are welcome to participate. A free breakfast and lunch will be provided if ordered a day in advance at 806-9542). The day begins at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m. The program will run for six weeks until Aug. 16. Registration is not required (but do call in advance for the meals) so children are free to miss a week to go on family vacation or whatever! Sounds like there are many interesting activities planned.

The Hannibal Resource Center has changed its hours. The center will no longer be open Thursday nights. They will continue to be open Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and  will now be open Wednesday evenings from 5 to 7 p.m. The center is located at Our Lady of the Rosary, across from the high school and is supported by the three village churches.

Your church or youth group can still have a booth at the SOS FEST July 19-21 at the Hannibal Fireman’s Field in Hannibal. Sell food, have a bake sale, set up games, activities, or mission display,; your group keeps all your money. Non-profit mission booths are free! Crafters and Vendors pay only a small fee. Those seeking more information may visit

The Hannibal Nursery School is celebrating their 40th year this upcoming 2013-2014 school year. July 27 from 10 a.m. to noon at the nursery school, 162 Oswego St., they will celebrate with games, crafts and face painting. If you or your children were involved in the Hannibal Nursery School, it would be a good time to come to the reunion. There will also be an opportunity to meet the new teachers. Enrollment is open for the 2013-2014 school year. They will also be having an open house Aug. 22 from 6 to 8 p.m.