Category Archives: Featured Stories

Legislators allege they were told FBI has left town

by Carol Thompson

The Federal Bureau of Investigation in Albany will not confirm or deny an investigation is ongoing into Oswego County government, pursuant to the agency’s policy, however, some legislators allege they were told at a Tuesday evening caucus by a top-ranking county official that the investigation has concluded with no findings.

Because caucus proceedings are confidential, the legislators spoke on the condition of anonymity. They allege they were told the FBI is no longer looking into County Clerk George Williams or county clerk vendor Info Quick Solutions, Inc. of Liverpool.

The announcement was made, they claim, because there has been a concern with some legislators in regard to awarding a contract to a vendor under investigation.

The legislature is expected to vote on a recommendation to award the contract to IQS at the August 9 meeting.

Last year, the U.S. attorney’s office reportedly issued subpoenas for a decade worth of records from the office of the county clerk and the company.

The FBI generally does not confirm an investigation unless it has gone public, an agency spokesperson noted.

The county official whom legislators allege made the statement did not respond to a request for comment.

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Oswego county administrator may change the way vacancies are filled

by Carol Thompson

Oswego County Administrator Phil Church said he is looking into a change in the manner in which employment vacancies are filled.

Church told members of the legislature’s Finance and Personnel Committee that he is reviewing the vacancy review process.

The change would result in vacancies remaining unfilled for a certain period of time to allow for review.

Currently, the department heads make requests to fill vacancies at the time an employee leaves or prior to notice given, Church said.

Under the new policy, an employee would not be hired immediately in the exiting employee’s place, but rather down the road once it has been determined that the position is needed.

“There are certain positions that would be exempt,” Church said.

Legislator Art Ospelt said he would not refer to it as a hiring freeze, but rather a hiring delay.

“I think there are some things you can’t hold up…but this way here they have a little bit more time to see if they actually need that person.” he said. “I think it’s worth trying.”

Legislator Milferd Potter said he believed it would be a good idea to try it.

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Pictured is the view from the second floor at the new Cayuga Community College Fulton campus, located on River Glen Drive. The second floor student development suite looks down into the first floor learning commons. The college intends to open for business at the new campus Monday, Aug. 13.

CCC to temporarily close to accommodate move

Pictured is the view from the second floor at the new Cayuga Community College Fulton campus, located on River Glen Drive. The second floor student development suite looks down into the first floor learning commons. The college intends to open for business at the new campus Monday, Aug. 13.

by Nicole Reitz

Cayuga Community College Fulton Campus members have been busily packing and preparing for the move from the current campus at 806 West Broadway to the new campus at 11 River Glen Drive, along Route 481.

To accommodate the move, both the Broadway and River Glen campuses in Fulton will be closed to students and community members  Thursday, Aug. 9 and Friday, Aug. 10.

The campus will re-open for business Monday, Aug. 13 at the River Glen location.

College employees will not be available via e-mail, phone or in person during the move. Staff members will respond to any missed e-mails and phone calls upon their return Aug. 13.

At that time, faculty will also be happy to meet with new students and visitors in the new campus building.

The move is the culmination of more than seven months of construction on the former P&C grocery store.

The $16 million project offers 82,150 square feet, including a second floor with 31,000 more square feet.

The new site also expands the campuses learning commons, a central hub that brings together the library, academic resources, computers and flexible work spaces for students.

The building will include 13 more classrooms, and doubles the amount of space for full-time faculty offices.

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Minority leader: ‘Taxpayers lose’ with clerk contract

by Carol Thompson

When the Oswego County Legislature meets Aug. 9, the Republican majority is expected to pass a contract for data imaging services that will be more costly to taxpayers.

“It’s a joke,” Minority Leader Mike Kunzwiler said.

He and the other four members of the Democrat caucus will not support the recommended vendor, Kunzwiler noted.

In what some legislators said is expected to be a controversial meeting, it is expected the contract will be approved despite opposition.

Last week, Republican members of the legislature’s Community and Consumer Affairs Committee voted to recommend Info Quick Solutions, Inc. (IQS) of Liverpool receive the contract, based on a recommendation from County Clerk George Williams.

A panel was named to perform a blind review of the proposals and rate each one using a scoring system.

IQS was given the lowest score of the five companies vying for the contract.

IQS was given an overall score of 457.25 while Property Info Corp. had the highest score at 649 followed by ACS Systems with a score of 618.25. IMR received a score of 561.25 and New Vision was scored at 516.25.

Each vendor was given four pricing options. Option four, which would require county-owned hardware, had IQS with the second highest pricing. IQS submitted a proposal for $13,543.

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Cover-Pic-08-04-12

Bridge work to pick up next week, delays expected

Construction work continues on the Broadway Bridge in Fulton. Starting next week, traffic will be shifting to the north side of the bridge with only one lane eastbound and one lane westbound. The rebuilding of the bridge will take another year and a half to complete.

by Nicole Reitz

Those living and driving through Fulton’s west side can expect delays near the Broadway Bridge next week.

Construction work is about to be kicked up a notch.

So far, work that has completed on the four-lane bridge included the temporary north-side sidewalk. This wooden pathway allows foot travelers to get from one side of the bridge to the other and accommodates traffic flow.

Starting next week, traffic will be shifting to the north side of the bridge with only one lane eastbound and one lane westbound. Pedestrians will be allowed on the five-foot wide temporary sidewalk along the north-side of the bridge.

Beginning Tuesday, Aug. 7, a new, temporary traffic signal — recently installed by the New York State Department of Transportation — will begin regulating traffic at the intersection of West Broadway and West Second Street South.

Because of the closure of some lanes during the construction project, left turns for westbound bridge traffic at West First Street South will be prohibited, Fulton police officials said.

The new traffic signal will allow for a greater volume of left turn traffic of westbound traffic on State Route 3 at the intersection of West Second Street.

The police department is also advising motorists that the construction project will most likely lead to delays on the Oneida Street Bridge and its surrounding intersections as well. This will be due to the anticipation of vehicular traffic attempting to avoid the Broadway Bridge construction area.

Police are urging motorists to plan accordingly for the change in traffic patterns and for traffic delays.

Motorists are also asked not to enter an intersection if it causes their vehicle to block the intersection.  Blocking an intersection is a violation of the vehicle and traffic law and creates further traffic delays and hazards, police said.

The police department will be closely monitoring traffic and will be taking appropriate enforcement action during the construction project.

According to New York State Department of Transportation Public Information Officer Gene Cilento, the bridge’s renovation plan is over 300 pages and discusses the separate phases of construction.

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County’s unemployment rate increases

by Carol Thompson

Oswego County’s unemployment rate is on the rise once again, placing the county as one of six with the highest jobless rate in New York State.

The state Department of Labor recently released the figure for June, which shows the county’s jobless rate is at 10.9 percent.  The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 8.9 percent.

“Over the past year, the state had a decrease in the amount of initial unemployment insurance claims, and an increase in the labor force as more New Yorkers gained confidence in the economy,” the labor department said in a press release.

Claims dropped 8.5 percent from 92,628 in June 2011 to 84,738 in June 2012.

“Furthermore, the percentage of job seekers re-entering the labor force, or entering the labor force for the first time, increased 7 percent from June 2011 to June 2012,” the release states. “By comparison, the nation showed a two-percent increase during the same period.”

The county’s unemployment rate for May was at 10.2 percent, equal to the rate in June 2011.

The counties with the highest unemployment rate along with Oswego County include St. Lawrence, Orleans, Fulton, Bronx and Kings. The counties with the lowest unemployment include Hamilton, Putman, Saratoga, Tompkins, Rockland and Yates.

According to the Department of Labor,  New York State’s economy added 15,400 private sector jobs in June. By comparison, the nation’s private sector job count increased by 84,000.

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Oswego County prepares for landfill liner expansion

by Carol Thompson

Members of the Oswego County Legislature’s Infrastructure and Facilities Committee took the first step toward preparing for a costly landfill liner expansion at the Bristol Hill Transfer Station.

During Thursday’s meeting, the committee approved a budget transfer of $1 million to begin the project.

Oswego County Solid Waste Director Frank Visser has identified the need to begin planning for the engineering and construction of the next 5.4-acre cell.

The current estimate for the liner is $3.5 million.

According to an informational memorandum provided to legislators, the airspace currently left at the landfill will be sufficient for another six or seven years of use at the current filling rate.

“It is advisable to start working towards (sic) building the next cell now, because of the process involved,” Visser wrote.

The engineering needs to be completed April 2013 and the state Department of Environmental Conservation has to review and approve the plans and specifications.

Bidding and construction would begin around 2016.

Once landfill liners have been constructed, the first sold waste filled on top of the new liner must be “select waste” that generally consists of residential waste and is only available when the county’s Energy Recovery Facility bypasses waste during scheduled maintenance downtime.

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Police make arrests in assault case

by Andrew Henderson

Three people have been arrested in connection with a fight early Saturday morning, Oswego police said.

At approximately 2:40 a.m. July 28, police and EMS responded to West Bridge Street between West 7th and West 8th streets for a physical altercation between a two groups of males.

Upon investigation, it was determined that the fight had resulted in two people being injured.

One 20-year-old male suffered minor injuries. He was treated at Oswego Hospital for minor cuts, abrasions and bruises. The victim was later released.

A second male, also 20 years old, suffered serious injuries including broken facial bones and a possible skull fracture.

The victim was transported by private vehicle to Rochester General Hospital where he currently remains hospitalized. Police said the injuries do not appear to be life threatening.

Both victims are from the Rochester area.

Oswego Police have arrested three suspects in connection with the incident: 21-year-old Angel L. Lopez of Oswego, 21-year-old Jordan M. Perkins of Syracuse, and 16-year-old male of Oswego. The 16-year-old’s name is not being released due to his age.

Each suspect has been charged with third-degree assault, a class A misdemeanor, but, further charges and additional arrests are possible as the investigation continues.

Officers are asking anyone with information regarding the incident to call the Criminal Investigation Division at 342-8130 or 342-8201.