Category Archives: Featured Stories

Two New York State Troopers exit the 420 Emporium on Broadway in Fulton Wednesday afternoon. The Fulton Police Department, the Oswego Police Department, the State Police, and the Drug Enforcement Administration raided the “head shop.”

Fulton ‘head shop’ raided by local and federal agents

Two New York State Troopers exit the 420 Emporium on Broadway in Fulton Wednesday afternoon. The Fulton Police Department, the Oswego Police Department, the State Police, and the Drug Enforcement Administration raided the “head shop.”

by Carol Thompson

Just days after President Barack Obama signed a bill making bath salts and synthetic marijuana illegal, authorities across Central New York raided shops suspected of selling the now illegal substances.

The 420 Emporium in the City of Fulton was one of the many shops targeted. The raids were conduced by multiple law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and state and local officials.

In Fulton, residents were cheering the raid from across the street as it took place.

The nationally coordinated raids took place in New York, Minnesota, California, Ohio, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and other states.

Over the past two years, the country has seen a surge in the use of synthetic drugs.

Earlier this week, Oswego County District Attorney Gregory Oakes gave members of the legislature’s Strategic Planning and Government Committee an update on the drug use locally. (see related story).

The bath salts have led to a surge in arrests that are caused by the hallucinate effects of the drugs.

To read the rest of the story, subscribe to The Valley News by calling 315-598-6397

Backdated documents could cause legal problems for county

by Carol Thompson

The allegation of backdating legal documents in the Oswego County Clerk’s office surfaced during a committee meeting earlier this week.

Legislator Jake Mulcahey raised the issue during Wednesday’s meeting of the legislature’s Community and Consumer Affairs Committee. He said he had received three telephone calls from people with concerns of the impropriety of backdating documents. Minority Leader Mike Kunzwiler said he had also received a call from an abstractor who was concerned with the alleged backdating.

The clerk’s office had three index clerks working in the court records department. One of those employees, Claudia Gamble, was promoted to senior index clerk at the first of the year and moved to the land records department. The vacancy left in court records was never filled, although Mulcahey said that when he spoke with County Clerk George Williams six to eight weeks ago, he was told the process was underway to hire another person.

Continue reading

N1009P32006C

GOP legislators block property tax break

by Carol Thompson

Republican lawmakers blocked an effort by the Democrat caucus that would allow homeowners who make improvements to their property to receive a tax break.

During Wednesday’s meeting of the Oswego County Legislature’s Consumer and Community Affairs Committee, a resolution was presented to schedule a public hearing on the issue.

Legislator Jake Mulcahey, a Democrat, made the motion to set the hearing date. Legislators Dan Chalifoux, Mary Flett, Kevin Gardner, Terry Wilbur, John Martino and Robert Hayes, all Republicans, sat in silence.

With the lack of a second to the motion, the resolution cannot be brought to the floor. “I guess it dies then,” said Wilbur, who chairs the committee.

Continue reading

County to participate in ‘yellow dot’ program

by Carol Thompson

A new program being promoted by the New York State Sheriffs’ Association could help emergency responders provide better medical care immediately after a car crash or any other emergency.

The goal of the “Yellow Dot” program is “to help first responders provide life-saving medical attention” by having drivers store basic medical information in the glove compartments of their cars.

Started in Connecticut in 2002, the program has begun to spread nationally. Approximately 30 counties in New York State participate in the program that is free to both residents and the county.

Free kits are available that contain a medical information card and a Yellow Dot decal. Participants complete the card, attach a recent photo and place it in the glove compartment of their vehicle. Participants then place the Yellow Dot decal on the rear driver’s side window to let first responders know to look for the information.

The service is also available to those placing the sticker near the front door of their home and the medical information is placed in the freezer.

To read the rest of the story, subscribe to The Valley News by calling 315-598-6397

N01A1560

Welfare fraud program leads to 25 arrests

by Carol Thompson

Oswego County District Attorney Gregory Oakes gave the legislature’s Strategic Planning and Government Committee an update on the new welfare prosecution program Monday morning.

County Administrator Phil Church and Barry Leemann, who was the legislature chairman at the time, approached Oakes with concerns in regard to welfare fraud cases.

“Since we’ve began this program we’ve had 25 arrests,” Oakes said.

Between October and December, there have been 11 felony arrests. As of the first of the year, there have been 14 arrests. The total number of arrests in four years is 29.

“So essentially in the last three months, we’ve got what we had four years prior,” Oakes said.

He added that the staff is building great cases. “I thank this body,” Oakes said to the committee for allowing his department the resources to do the work.

The county has recovered $57,861 since the first of the year. The amount of $48,924 has been paid to the county Department of Social Services. Approximately $5,700 is being recouped through diminished benefits and $3,182 is being paid through probation.

To read the rest of the story, subscribe to The Valley News by calling 315-598-6397

Legislators consider hiring firm to assist with employee retention

by Carol Thompson

Members of the Oswego County Health and Human Services Committee will consider a proposal from Core Skills, True Impact in the amount of $9,200 to assist with the retention of employees in the county Health Department’s nursing services.

The county has seen a significant turn over of staff, especially registered nurses. The high turnover has been attributed to a lower salary than other entities offer.

If approved, the company will conduct an employee satisfaction assessment through interviews with 22 clinical staff and five supervisors. The company will then be required to analyze the results and provide both a written and oral summary to managers and staff as well as provide 20 hours of training for specific groups with the goal of improving staff satisfaction and retention.

Only one other bid was received. SUNY Oswego submitted a proposal for $15,000.

To read the rest of the story, subscribe to The Valley News by calling 315-598-6397

County encourages state to provide more significant mandate relief

by Carol Thompson

Oswego County Administrator Phil Church presented members of the legislature’s Strategic Planning and Government Committee a draft resolution asking the state to finish the job it began in April and provide more significant and sustainable mandate relief to counties.

During Monday’s meeting, Church said the resolution addresses Medicaid and state retirement.

“Using the letter that they sent to us, the state health department is only taking over the state portion of Medicaid,” Church said.

Mandates consume 82 percent of the county’s annual budget and the Medicaid mandate alone is 58 percent of the entire property tax levy.

The three-year phase out of county-paid Medicaid growth will cost the county taxpayers an additional $500,000 in 2013 and an additional $250,000 in 2014.

“Taxpayers will send one-half million dollars to Albany every week,” Church said.

To read the rest of the story, subscribe to The Valley News by calling 315-598-6397

N1203P49011C

Tax exemptions considered for home improvement projects

by Carol Thompson

Members of the Oswego County Legislature’s Community and Consumer Affairs Committee will consider a resolution that would provide a property tax exemption to homeowners who make capital improvements to residential properties.

The committee will consider the matter during Thursday’s meeting, which is generally held Wednesday but had to be moved due to a nuclear plant drill.

According to an informational memorandum submitted by Legislator Dan Farfaglia, the resolution would bring back a program that expired several years ago, however, few residents took advantage of the program.

The proposed law would give residential homeowners the opportunity to make improvements in excess of $30,000 for a 100-percent exemption on the increase in the assessed value attributable to the reconstruction, alteration or improvements for the first year and for the following four years on a sliding scale basis.

The exemption would be limited to $80,000 in increased market value of the property.

To read the rest of the story, subscribe to The Valley News by calling 315-598-6397