With a dedication to community service and a focus on helping others, 19 Phoenix youth earned recognition during a ceremony at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5540 on Thursday night April 24.
Local dignitaries, school administrators and community representatives were on hand to commend the students for their dedication and volunteer service as part of the 18th annual President’s Youth Volunteer Service Award dinner.
“It’s an honor to be in the room with you,” said Brian Chetney, executive director of the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau. “This is a recognition program that honors tens of millions Americans who have made a commitment to sustained service … and you have all done your part.”
“Sustained” was the key word, as the honorees have devoted much of their free time to serving others. The juniors and seniors who received the silver distinction accumulated at least 300 volunteer hours, while the gold recipients tallied at least 500 hours.
For John C. Birdlebough High School students Meganne Murphy and Dylan Switzer, who each earned the Youth of the Year Award, volunteer service has been a way of life.
“I started in first grade as a Boy Scout,” said Switzer, who earned his Eagle Scout badge in October. “I remember helping out at the shows for winter guard because my sister was in it. Volunteering is something I enjoy.”
Murphy began her community service contributions almost a decade ago.
“I’ve been volunteering since fifth grade, I started out as a Bridge House Brat,” she said. “It makes me feel good that I can make a difference.”
Although that positive feeling is enough to satisfy Murphy and Switzer, the additional recognition Thursday night was equally satisfying and humbling, they said.
“I was really surprised because I didn’t expect to get anything from being so involved,” Murphy said. “It means a lot to me to know that I’ve made a difference in the community.”
Switzer echoed those sentiments.
“It’s a big honor,” he said. “Honestly, I don’t know how the selection committee made the decision. There are other people who were just as deserving as me.”
Birdlebough Principal Greg Molloy spoke about the Youth of the Year recipients and the qualities that contributed to them receiving the distinction.
Prior to presenting them with plaques, he lauded their volunteer spirit and commended them for their commitment to the community.
In addition to the Youth of the Year Award presentation, Superintendent Judy Belfield and Phoenix Board of Education President Earl Rudy congratulated the Gold and Silver Award recipients and presented them with commemorative pins and certificates.
“Your efforts will make you a well-rounded and a better person,” Rudy told the students.
Gold Award winners were James Benthin, Ben Bulgrien, Finella Campanino, Trever Ferens, Eric Hillpot, Maria Musumeci, Matthew Pelton, Paige Recore, Brian Stafford, Shaun Turner, Ryan Thorn and Olivia Uttamsingh. Silver Award recipients were Hailee Claycomb, Gianna Garofalo, Bailey Goldthwait, Hannah Lees and Jessica Lord.
Bring your boots: rain or shine, young nature enthusiasts will be facing off tomorrow at the Oswego County Envirothon, held at Jellystone Park in Mexico.
Since 1991, the Oswego County Soil and Water Conservation District has sponsored the county’s Envirothon, a hands-on test of high school students’ knowledge of forestry, aquatics, soils, wildlife and current environmental issues.
The county winner goes on to the New York state competition. Last year’s county champion, Altmar-Parish-Williamstown, came in 11th of 49 teams at the state Envirothon.
“(Envirothon) encourages students to be more in tune with the environment and the natural resources in the county,” said Erica Schreiner, district educator of the Oswego County Soil and Water Conservation District and Envirothon Coordinator.
The competition consists of five 30-minute exams with 25 questions, plus a video presentation submitted prior to the event.
Teams of five students must properly identify trees, analyze soil and perform other tasks to demonstrate their environmental knowledge. Schools can send two teams of five with up to two alternates.
Local experts in each field create a new test for each subject each year. This year, the Oswego County branch of Cornell Cooperative Extension is covering the current issue of sustainable local agriculture.
Schreiner said Envirothon is an outdoorsy outlet to keep students engaged.
“It sparks their interest in something and gives them something to belong to,” she said. “It’s a great hands-on event.”
Some Envirothon participants pursue the interest after high school.
“A lot of them do go on to ESF (SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry) at Syracuse and other environmental colleges,” Schreiner said.
Jamie Hefti, adviser of two Envirothon teams at Pulaski, said one of his graduating senior “stars” will study biology at Harvard University and another is headed to Clarkson University for environmental engineering.
He said the competition’s individual focus helps prepares students for college, especially the oral video presentation.
“It’s so self-directed. It’s on them,” Hefti said. “When I watched them prepare for the oral part of it, I think it’s the most truly applicable skill for preparing for college that there is in high school.”
Hefti said he has a study area in his classroom for students to visit and borrow materials when they have a free period during the day. The students each become an “expert” on one of the subjects and coach each other.
“It’s really an awesome thing to observe,” he said.
Roxane Thormann and her husband, Rich, led the APW team to a surprise victory last year. The Thormanns volunteered to coach APW’s Envirothon team after their daughter’s beloved science teacher retired. Roxane Thormann said she and her husband, who are not teachers, faced a “big learning curve” in coaching the kids in environmental science.
“We were awestruck,” Thormann said of the 2013 win, which was APW’s first Oswego County Envirothon victory. “We didn’t have any idea we had it in us. (The team was) just flabbergasted.”
Catherine Celeste and Billie Jo Peterson are the co-advisers of the environmental club at Oswego High School The club is open to students in grades seven through 12, so it provides a “feeder group” of middle schoolers preparing for the high school Envirothon team.
“I have a lot of younger kids … getting some of the preparation long before they have a chance to compete in it,” Celeste said.
In addition to the Envirothon, Oswego’s environmental club focuses on eco-tourism, fundraising and cleaning up around the district.
“We hope, bottom line, that there’s a better appreciation for nature, and we want our students to be better earth stewards,” Celeste said. “Every year they’re going to Envirothon, I know they’re learning something they didn’t know before.”
She said her students have worked hard to prepare for Envirothon.
“I’m proud that we can get students who put the time in,” she said.
Missing from tomorrow’s competition is ten-time consecutive winner G. Ray Bodley High School. The Fulton school is not fielding a team this year. Bodley last won in 2012, but was ousted last year by APW.
“Due to new duties and responsibilities, I relinquished the helm and it just didn’t transfer well for the students,” former GRB Envirothon adviser Dan Mainville told The Valley News in an email. “Sadly there just wasn’t enough interest this year. Maybe next year.”
“We will definitely miss them, but it opens up opportunities for other schools to win,” Schreiner said of Bodley’s absence from the competition.
“It opens the door a little bit for us,” Celeste said. “My students are a little more motivated now because they feel they can be more competitive.”
“There’s always someone to replace Fulton,” Thormann said. “I’m sure there’s someone who wants to knock us off the pedestal. All the teams are tough.”
Fulton firefighters and police officers were honored Wednesday night during the annual city of Fulton Police and Fire Awards Ceremony.
The ceremony, emceed by Channel 9 anchor and reporter Christie Casciano, was filled with the exceptional stories of what the police officers, firefighters, Menter EMTS and civilians did durig 2013 to help their fellow Fulton residents.
Beverly Belton wiped tears from her eyes as her saviors — Officers Brian Dumas and Michael Blasczienski — received the Medal of Honor Award for saving her and others in her apartment building during a fire.
“Blasczienski kicked my door down to get to me. I didn’t even know the building was on fire,” she said. “If they hadn’t gotten me out, I’d be gone — the fire was int he attic right above me.”
She kissed and hugged the two men after they received their award. From her ordeal, Belton is lobbying the state and federal governments to institute a First Responders Day to honor these workers.
Another poignant moment was when 10-year-old Kiernan O’Neil received his Civiilian Service Award. He stood on the stage with her mom, Jennifer, who he saved.
Kiernan, who was 9 at the time, was playing outside last June 24 when he needed to tell his mother something. He went into the house and found her lying on the bed.
According to accounts, he knew something was wrong because his mom wasn’t moving and it didn’t seem as though she was breathing.
“While a lot of kids out there would probably panic, Kiernan didn’t. Instead he ran out of the house to the neighbors to call 911,” said the narrative read during the ceremony.
Police Officer Gary Percival, Fulton Rescue and Menter Ambulance all heard the call and responded. Jennifer was found to have no pulse.
According to the narrative read at the ceremony:
“Percival rolled Jennifer onto her back and began CPR. A short time later Fulton Fire Department Personnel Lt. Mark Pollock, Firefighter Randy Spencer, Firefighter Chris Adkins, Firefighter Chris Caza and Firefighter Ryan Maxam arrived. They took over life saving efforts from Percival.
“Jumping into action, Firefighters Adkins and Maxam got Jennifer’s airway open and began giving her respirations while Lt. Pollock and Firefighter Caza continued CPR. With crucial time ticking away, they set up an AED and delivered a shock to Jennifer.
“Still not breathing they continued with CPR. Menters ambulance personnel Michael Zukovsky, Sean Morganti, Edward Kasperek and Joseph Susino arrived on the scene and immediately got to work. An IV was started and Jennifer was shocked a second time.
“They kept up their efforts and soon after she was loaded into the ambulance, Jennifer was breathing on her own and had a pulse.”
Jennifer O’Neil hugged each of the firefighters and officers who helped save her that day. And young Kiernan got a hearty thanks and good job from the first responders and, of course, Mom.
Here is a list of others honored Wednesday night:
Firefighter of the year: Christopher Adkins
Police officer of the year: Christopher Jones
Triumphant Award, for scoring 90 percent or better in the annual Fitness Challenge: Officer Brian Dumas; those scoring 85 percent or better were Capt. David Eiffe and Deputy Chief Thomas Abelgore.
STEP (Selective Traffic Enforcement Program) awards for participation in the program that targets traffic offenses:
Leading the Fulton department was Officer Brandon Lanning, followed by Officer Jarret Marino and Officer Lucas Hollenbeck. Others receiving certificates of commendation for their work on this program are Officers Christopher Jones, Jeffrey Margrey, Victor Kaufman, Rick Hahn, Christian Dempsey, Brandon Harris and Brian Dumas.
Meritorious Service Award: Officer (retired) Lennet Whitmore and Officer Jeremy Algarin.
Here is a narrative of what they did:
Last summer, Officer Whitmore and Officer Algarin were on patrol when they were dispatched to a reported suicidal woman on the city’s west side.
When they arrived, several people were gathered around a house pointing to a second-floor window. The people said a woman had come to the window with something wrapped around her neck, threatening to jump.
Whitmore went to the upstairs apartment and tried to make contact with the female, but she refused to open the door. Due to the circumstances, Algarin kicked in the door and both officers entered the apartment.
At first, they were unable to locate the woman, then Algarin saw that she was hanging by her fingertips out the second-story window.
Both officers went into action, throwing the window open and grabbing the woman by each of her arms. After a brief struggle, they were able to get the woman back inside to safety.
Completing two consecutive years of service without an absence: Firefighters Robert Summerville, Daniel O’mara, Chris Adkins, Lt. Steven Dexter, Lt. Mark Pollock, Officer Victor Kaufman, Inv. Aimee May, Inv. Michael Curtis, Lt. William Clark, Deputy Chief Thomas Abelgore
Honorable Service Award: Officer Lucas Hollenbeck.
Here is a narrative of what he did:
In March 2013, Officer Lucas Hollenbeck was patrolling Fulton’s west side late in the afternoon. Hollenbeck decided to do an area check of some of the local businesses and while checking NET & DIE, a local machine shop, he noticed a vehicle parked along the side of the building.
A quick check of the building found it secure, but the truck bed was loaded with what appeared to be a large amount of metal.
Believing that he may have interrupted a larceny in progress, Hollenbeck called for backup. Other police units arrived and they began checking the area, when they located Kyle Moore and Jonathan Loomis hiding behind a dumpster.
Neither man would admit to stealing the metal, even though the truck was registered to one of them. The owner of the company was contacted and he confirmed the metal in the back of the truck did indeed belong to his business.
After further investigation both males were arrested for felony grand larceny.
Meritorious Service Award: Officer Christopher Jones
Here is a narrative of what he did:
Last spring, Officer Chris Jones was on patrol when he was dispatched to a reported house fire. When Jones arrived he could see smoke pouring out of the house.
Being the first on scene, Jones jumped into action grabbing a fire extinguisher out of the back of his patrol car. He started for the house as people fled the burning building.
When he entered the house, Jones could see the smoke was coming from the basement. Without regard for his safety and no equipment to protect him from the fire, he went down looking for the source of the smoke.
When he got to the basement he found the fire and went to work quickly putting it out before more damage could be done.
As he battled the flames in the confined space he was nearly overcome by the toxic combination of smoke and dry chemicals from the extinguisher.
After exiting the building, Jones was treated for smoke inhalation and chemical burns to his lungs, but even as he was being treated he was able to learn vital information from people on scene that eventually helped lead to the arrest of Christopher Holbrook for arson.
Life Saver Award: Michael Zukovsky, Garrett Hauf and Ronald Frawley.
Here is a narrative of what they did:
Just over a year ago Menters personnel, Michael Zukovsky, Garrett Hauf and Ronald Frawley were sent to the city’s east side for a report of a woman with severe chest pain. When they arrived the patient was already being attended to by the Fulton Fire Department.
She was alert and conscious, but reporting she was in a lot of pain. It was decided that the patient would be transported to St. Joseph’s in Syracuse.
What started as a fairly routine transport suddenly became anything but routine. As they drove the patient stated she felt dizzy then suddenly she went unresponsive. The Menters crew immediately reacted, looking for a pulse, but finding none.
The patient took a last breath then stopped breathing. The crew worked tirelessly through out the race to the hospital culminating with Zukovsky using an AED to administer a shock to the patient as they pulled into St. Joe’s.
Amazingly the patient started breathing again and by the time they got into the ER, she was conscious and talking.
Exceptional Duty Award: Russ Johnson, Sgt. Stephen Lunn and Inv. Michael Batstone.
They are honored for their work over several years that finally led to the discovery of the person driving the car involved in the accident that killed Carolee Ashby in 1968.
Life Saving Award: Fulton Firefighters Lt. Steve Dexter, Lt. Shane Laws, Firefighters Ed Kasperek, Chris Adkins and Ken Gleason along with Menters AEMT’s Chris Foy, Michael Zukovsky and EMT Cory Richer.
They are honored for saving the life of a woman who was barely breathing, turning purple and unconscious.
Civilian Service Award: Edward Witkowski, of Fulton.
He is honored for rushing into a burning building and quickly extinguishing a fire, preventing a huge loss.
The 33rd Annual Fulton Service Clubs’ Memorial Day Salute Parade is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, May 24.
The parade theme this year is “Showing Gratitude to Our Veterans.”
The Memorial Day Salute Committee feels our community has many heroes who are serving or have served in the present conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as veterans who have served their country over the years. These men and women ask for nothing from their fellow American citizens, so it is time to honor them on this Memorial Day weekend.
Therefore, this year‘s parade is in honor of all those who have served their country.
For the past 33 years, the four service clubs in Fulton — Kiwanis, Lions, Sunrise Rotary and Rotary — have chosen to honor our heroes and veterans by featuring them in the annual parade.
Fulton’s “Veteran of the Year” for 2014 is Jim Weinhold. He served seven years in the Navy and 15 years in the Air National Guard with the 174th “Boys of Syracuse.”
Weinhold will serve as Grand Marshal of this year’s parade.
The Fulton Memorial Day parade traditionally features children and bands. Many children’s groups have already signed up for the parade this year. There is always room for more groups, businesses and individuals to be in the parade.
Anyone who belongs to a group that wants to be in this year’s parade, should sign up now. Zach Menter is the parade chairman and his phone number is 591-4502. Call him if you have questions about the parade, or wish to be in it.
The Memorial Day Salute Committee so far has nine bands signed up for this year‘s parade. They are our own Fulton Marching Band along with The Central New York Police and Fireman’s Band, City of Syracuse Highland Pipe and Drums, Pembrooke High School Marching Band, Central Square Middle School Band, The Original Yanks Drum & Bugle Corp and Naples High School Marching Band.
The fun loving Island Band, which won the best parade band award last year, is back this year as well, and we also have the Fulton Gauchos Alumni Band marching in the parade this year.
Several businesses and groups are working on floats to place in the parade. Whether you are interested in planning a float, a marching group or want to show off an unusual vehicle, now is the time to act.
Call Menter at 591-4502 and he will send you a parade application form.
SUNY Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley announced April 22 that the college will become smoke free and tobacco free on Jan. 1, 2015.
“In our efforts to support the educational mission of the college and to provide a safe, clean and healthy working, living and learning environment, the college will provide cessation assistance and resources to members of the campus community who wish to stop smoking or using tobacco in any form,” Stanley said in her Earth Day announcement.
“We’ll also support exercise and nutritional changes to help all of us enjoy the vitality and freedom that a smoke- and tobacco-free lifestyle affords,” Stanley said.
Starting with 2015, tobacco use in all its forms will be prohibited everywhere on college premises, including in any vehicle on college property.
SUNY Oswego will join more than 800 other colleges and universities in the United States that have adopted fully tobacco-free policies and nearly 1,200 that are smoke free.
SUNY Cortland, Cayuga Community College and the 24-campus City University of New York, among several other New York institutions, are tobacco free.
SUNY Upstate Medical University, University at Buffalo, Broome Community College and several other campuses in the state system are smoke free.
The SUNY board of trustees, acting on Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher’s recommendation, passed a June 2012 resolution supporting legislation to make all SUNY campuses tobacco free.
The system has actively encouraged remaining members of its 64 campuses to move in that direction even without a law.
SUNY Oswego’s Clean Air Committee launched a website — oswego.edu/OzQuits — to help the faculty, staff and students find cessation resources online, learn how the upcoming new policy on tobacco use developed, find links to research, answers to frequently asked questions and an online form for expressing their ideas.
The committee, chaired by Dr. Jerald Woolfolk, vice president for student affairs and enrollment management, includes student members as well as representatives of such cross-campus constituencies as the employee unions CSEA and United University Professions.
“This is about a healthier, cleaner and more vital college,” Woolfolk said. “But it is also about respect for all campus citizens — smokers and non-smokers alike. We are not asking anyone to quit smoking or using tobacco, but we do intend for the new policy to provide the motivation and the means to encourage it.”
A 2012 survey of more than 1,200 faculty, staff and students conducted by the committee reported that 16 percent of students said they used tobacco in the last 30 days. Only 7.1 percent of the surveyed faculty and staff said they use tobacco on a daily basis.
Donna Jerrett, a Clean Air Committee member and registered nurse at the college’s Mary Walker Health Center, announced the start of an educational and promotional campaign for Tobacco Free 2015 during an Earth Day afternoon celebration to mark the announcement.
Student and employee supporters handed out brochures and buttons bearing the “OzQuits!” nickname for the campaign and provided information about cessation opportunities, adverse health effects of tobacco use and secondhand smoke, and environmental impacts.
The Fulton City School District Board of Education approved the fourth and final draft of the 2014-2015 district budget at its April 23 meeting.
The final budget totals $67,357,685, up 3.22 percent from the 2013-14 budget of $65,259,100.
The proposed tax levy — the amount to be raised by taxes — is $20,142,125, a 1 percent increase from the previous year’s budget. Actual tax rates will be calculated in the summer.
Not included in the total budget amount is a $60,000 proposition to buy two vehicles.
If the proposed budget is defeated twice by voters, the district goes to a contingency budget of $66,871,685. The tax levy would be $19,942,698, the 2013-14 amount.
The contingency budget would remove $30,000 in equipment and would eliminate the restoration of $25,000 to the athletic program, three elementary teaching positions, and the proposed $35,000 for an elementary mental health clinician.
• Director of Instructional Assessment Betsy Conners said the district is applying for several STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) grants for the middle and high school grades.
One such grant would allow seventh- and eighth-grade teachers to participate in a three-day professional development opportunity through BOCES in August. Conners said the interdisciplinary approach of STEM is becoming increasingly important to skilled jobs. The district will hear back about the grant in May.
• Director of Student Support Programs Geri Geitner introduced a “school within a school” model for alternative education students at G. Ray Bodley High School.
Currently, about 85 high school students participate in an alternative program at the Education Center. This would allow alternative students to take elective classes at GRB but maintain their current flexible scheduling and “safety net” of support services in a “pod” or partial wing at the high school.
The program would move four full-time and a handful of part-time alternative teaching positions to GRB. Geitner and GRB principal Donna Parkhurst are aiming to start the new program in September.
“It’s going to take a lot of coordination and individual planning if we move to this model,” Geitner said. “We want to replicate all the components that we believe are effective — and that students are telling us are effective — (and) offer them a broader range of opportunities.”
• Director of Facilities, Operations and Transportation Jerry Seguin updated the board on the 2012 capital project’s progress.
He said crews worked “fast and furious” through the April break to update IT infrastructure and clean power systems at Volney and Fairgrieve elementary schools, as well as asbestos abatement at Fairgrieve and the Education Center.
The district has received state Education Department approval for the replacement of the gym floor at Lanigan Elementary School, part of the 2014-15 capital project. The project will be bid out in May and the renovation will take place over the summer.
The replacement of locksets across the district will extend into the fall of 2014.
Seguin said other summer projects include the replacement of the Volney and GRB roofs, renovations of the Education Center’s auditorium and gym ceiling, and renovations in Volney and Fairgrieve classrooms.
• The board also voted to pass the BOCES administrative budget, which is tentatively calculated at $6,408,434. The school board voted three members to the BOCES board for three-year terms: Eric Behling of the Mexico district, John Shelmidine of Sandy Creek and William “Dave” White of Oswego.
• Petitions for school board and library board candidates are due to the district office by April 30.
• The public hearing on the budget will be held at 7 p.m. May 7 at the Junior High School.
• The next regular school board meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. May 13 at the Education Center.
• The budget vote, school board election and library proposition vote will be held May 20 at the elementary schools.