Volunteers of all ages gathered recently for a celebration in their honor at St. Luke Health Services.
The theme of this year’s luncheon event, “Volunteers Rock,” transformed the Riverview Room at St. Luke into a 1950s diner — a perfect setting for the Activities Department staff to use music of the era to celebrate the many contributions volunteers make on behalf of St. Luke residents throughout the year.
“We are appreciative of all the time and talents our volunteers share with our residents,” said Volunteer Coordinator Nicole Greenier.
“Our annual volunteer recognition luncheon is just a small way for our organization thanks them for their tremendous dedication and all the contributions our volunteers make on behalf of the people we serve and care for here at St. Luke,” she said.
In addition to an “All-American” lunch prepared by St. Luke’s culinary staff, the Activities Department entertained those gathered with a performance of their own creation; “Volunteers Rock!” a musical tribute to the important role volunteers play not only at St. Luke, but throughout our community.
“St. Luke has a tremendous base of 120 volunteers, including many groups from the community who share their unique gifts helping to enhance the quality of life that our residents experience,” said Greenier.
“Our volunteers are always ready to lend a hand, helping to make all the activities and outings we provide throughout the year possible,” she said.
Greenier noted last year, St. Luke volunteers ranging in age from 14 to 96 contributed nearly 4,000 hours of their time participating in hundreds of programs, activities and outings with residents.
“Volunteers at St. Luke can give of their time as often as they like,” explained Greenier. “Our program is flexible enough to accommodate a variety of schedules, and many people who inquire are surprised at the number of varied opportunities we have available that allows someone to volunteer as their schedule permits, and help make a difference in the lives of our residents.”
Anyone seeking information about the St. Luke Volunteer Program can call program Coordinator Nicole Greenier at 342-3166, extension 173.
Information about the program, including a downloadable application, can be found on the St. Luke website at www.stlukehs.com.
The town of Hastings in Oswego County is receiving a Farm Bill grant of $981,000 to help make wastewater treatment plant upgrades.
The grant was announced Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of its celebration of Earth Day. Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack announced grants and loans for 116 projects that will improve water and wastewater services for rural Americans and benefit the environment.
“Having reliable, clean and safe water is essential for any community to thrive and grow,” Vilsack said. “I am proud that USDA helps build rural communities from the ground up by supporting water infrastructure projects like these. I am especially proud that we can help communities that are struggling economically and those that have urgent health and safety concerns due to their failing water systems.”
Today’s announcement is USDA’s largest Earth Day investment in rural water and wastewater systems. Nearly $387 million is being awarded to 116 recipients in 40 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The Department is providing $150 million in grants through the 2014 Farm Bill plus $237 million in loans and grants from USDA’s Water and Environmental Program.
Go to Palermo man dies in Myrtle Beach fall to see the story.
Oswego Health is celebrating its fifth anniversary of introducing urgent care services to the Fulton community.
The Oswego Health facility, now known as the Fulton Medical Center, has provided urgent care services to more than 116,000 individuals since its opening in late April 2009.
The urgent care center located at 510 S. Fourth St., always has a board-certified physician on site and is conveniently open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. including weekends and holidays.
At the urgent care center, minor illness and injuries can be treated, including respiratory ailments, cuts or wounds that may require stitches, sprains, strains or deep bruises, mild to moderate asthma attacks, ear infections, sore throats insect bites and rashes, among others.
When the urgent care first opened five years ago, it also has minimal other services such as laboratory and X-ray. Today, as the Fulton Medical Center, which officially opened two years ago, it offers complete medical imaging, laboratory, occupational and physical therapy departments that are technologically advanced, patient comfortable and attractive.
Among the medical imaging services offered at the Fulton Medical Center are Computed Tomography (CT), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), DEXA scans, Fluoroscopy and general x-rays.
This department also features a separate and more private area for those needing digital mammography, bone density or ultrasound screenings.
The imaging department has the electronic capacity to take a patient image in real time and make it immediately available for the radiologist to read. The images can also be sent to a physician’s office or the Oswego Hospital emergency room through the Picture Archiving Communications System.
For community members needing blood work, the Fulton Medical Center offers a three-station lab draw area for quick and convenient testing.
The physical therapy suite is located off the Park Street entrance and offers physical, occupational and speech therapy. A 1,300-square-foot gym will be equipped with the latest in rehabilitation tools.
Oswego County Fire Coordinator Donald Forbes reminds county residents of the annual statewide ban on all open burning.
The ban took effect March 16 and will remain in effect through May 14, during the high fire-risk period.
The ban makes it illegal to use a burn barrel or open pits as a means for incinerating trash. The burning of leaves is also banned in New York state.
Agricultural burns are allowed and there are certain circumstances when controlled burns, with a written permit from the state Department of Environmental Conservation are permissible.
“The risk of brush fires is most prevalent at this time of year due to the lack of green vegetation, abundance of available fuels such as dry grass and leaves, warmer temperatures, and wind,” said Forbes.
On-site burning of limbs and branches between May 14 and the following March 15 in any town with a total population less than 20,000 is permissible, however, individual municipalities can pass ordinances that are stricter than, and not inconsistent with, the open fires regulations.
Forbes encourages residents to check with their local authorities to find out if local law requires a permit or prohibits open fires.
State regulation prohibits all open burning except for the following:
• Campfires less than 3 feet in height and 4 feet in length, width or diameter
• Small cooking fires
• Ceremonial or celebratory bonfires
• Fires cannot be left unattended and must be fully extinguished
• Only charcoal or clean, dry, untreated or unpainted wood can be burned
Violators of the open burning state regulation are subject to both criminal and civil enforcement actions, with a minimum fine of $500 for a first offense.
Additional information can be obtained on the NYSDEC website located at http://www.dec.ny.gov/press/80920.html. To report open burning, call the DEC at (800) 847-7332.
For more information on the Child Advocacy Center of Oswego County, call 592-4453.
To report a case of abuse, call the state Child Protective Services hotline at (800) 342-3720. If you feel a child is in immediate danger, call 911.
By Debra J. Groom
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month.
And Oswego County is doing more to help children be safe by reporting more cases of child abuse than ever before.
The number of children and families served by the Child Advocacy Center in Fulton increased by 48 percent from 2012-2013 – from about 320 in 2012 to 475 in 2013.
The Child Advocacy Center, the Oswego County Department of Social Services and others are stressing the importance of knowing the signs of abuse and letting authorities know when abuse occurs.
Oswego County is keenly aware of child abuse as a result of the Erin Maxwell case in 2008.
Erin was 11 years old when she was found unresponsive in her Palermo home by her stepbrother, Alan Jones. She was taken to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Jones was charged with her murder and her father and stepmother, Lindsey and Lynn Maxwell, were found guilty of four counts of endangering the welfare of a child. Jones’ conviction eventually was reduced to manslaughter and he is serving tie in Fishkill Correctional Facility. According to Vinelink, he is scheduled for release in June 2015.
Lindsey and Lynn Maxwell were sentenced to two years in the Oswego County jail, but were released after serving 15 months.
When investigating Erin’s death, police found that she lived in deplorable conditions, was locked in her room to eat and sometimes went to school with dirty clothing and no lunch. It came to light during the investigation that the Oswego County Department of Social Services had investigated reports about the Maxwell household and Erin, but did not remove her from the house. Many faulted the department for its inaction.
Since then, many changes were made to the way these cases are handled in Oswego County. Cornell University completed one of three studies done looking at how the social services department worked at that time. The report found Oswego County’s caseworkers were overworked, handling nearly double the national and state average of cases per caseworker.
Changes were made after the reports and more caseworkers were hired. Gregg Heffner, who was hired as commissioner of the Department of Social Services about three years after the Erin Maxwell case, said previously all of those working in the department learned from the Erin Maxwell case and have made improvements to ensure it never happens again.
One change made is the start of a Child Protection Advisory Council that meets monthly. The group, consisting of people from many different agencies throughout the county, works to increase employees’ training, make sure they are all following regulations and that workers are using the best practices possible.
Karrie Damm, executive director of the Child Advocacy Center, is on that advisory council.
“I heard a quote once that stated ‘for every one educated adult, 10 children are safer,’” she said. She believes the more people learn about child abuse, the more they understand what abuse is and how to prevent it, then the number of children being abused will decrease.
Both she and Oswego County District Attorney Gregory Oakes say the number of reported cases of child abuse coming into the Child Advocacy Center has increased so much because there is more abuse going on, but also because people are coming forward more often to report abuse cases.
Heffner recently said in a letter to the editor to The Valley News that it is important for people to report child abuse to the authorities. There is a state hotline for reporting cases, and abuse also can be called into the Child Advocacy Center or any police agency.
But people often are reluctant to report, feeling they shouldn’t stick their noses into someone else’s life or worrying the person they are reporting will come after them.
“People have to be trusting that there will be a response to their call,” Damm said. “People often feel as though ‘no one will listen to me.’”
Sometimes, the authorities aren’t listening well enough.
Oakes tells a story on how a trustworthy person he knows in the community called him about child abuse he saw in a family. Oakes said he checked out the information with others and found it to be valid and “caused me great concern as a DA and as a father.”
He called the state hotline to make a report. The state worker took Oakes’ information, but asked more questions. Oakes couldn’t answer the other questions, so the hotline worker said there was not enough information to take a report.
“I got very loud and threw my title out there,” Oakes said. “This mandated CPS (Child Protective Services) involvement. How can you turn this down?” Oakes said to the hotline worker. “This case screamed out for CPS involvement.”
Oakes then said he was going to call a press conference to let the world know the state hotline office was doing. He then was switched over to a supervisor who took the report.
Damm said if someone from the Child Advocacy Center calls the hotline with the case and is rejected, “we call back 10 minutes later to get another person to talk to or we ask for a supervisor.” She said it’s important for the public to know if they don’t get anywhere when trying to report a case of child abuse, don’t stop – try again.
“We like to blame the system. This is a community problem with a community solution,” she said.
People can report to the state hotline anonymously if they are afraid of retribution. But Damm said often it doesn’t matter if a person does or doesn’t give their names when reporting because the person doing the abuse usually knows who made a report.
“We have to be braver than the people doing the evil deeds,” she said.
Oakes, who prosecuted child abuse cases for six and a half years as an assistant district attorney in Oswego County, said many who abuse were abused themselves as children. “One of the best ways to break the cycle is to use prosecution, social services for the family and mental health services” for the child and the family.
If abuser were just prosecuted and then thrown in jail, the cycle of abuse would continue. “In many cases, abuse has gone unreported for many years across generations,” Oakes said.
That is why the nonprofit Child Advocacy Center works hand-in-hand with local law enforcement, prosecution, child protective services, medical providers, therapy providers and victim advocacy professionals in Oswego County. The center works with the parents and with the children.
“To prevent child abuse, we have to have conversations about it, keep talking about it, educate yourself and support the local program that helps kids,” Damm said. “Remember — one educated adult keeps 10 kids safer.”
By Rob Tetro
The Hannibal girls’ varsity track and field team comes into the 2014 season hoping to build off of its third place finish in last season’s Section 3, B-2 Meet.
This season, Hannibal has its sights set on winning the sectional championship. However, that’s not the only goal the Lady Warriors want to accomplish this season.
Coach Dan Pawlewicz said his athletes want to see 95 percent of the Hannibal runners improve on their times. Hannibal team members also are striving to be a team recognized for what they accomplish in the classroom.
It’s also important that the Lady Warriors have solid efforts in each invitational they participate in.
A year ago, the Lady Warriors sent two athletes to the New York State Qualifying Meet. This season, Hannibal also hopes to match or expand on the number of athletes who are invited to the state qualifying meet.
However, it all goes back to being the top team in Section 3, Class B-2 for the Lady Warriors. Pawlewicz said if his team can avoid injuries and maintain its impressive work ethic, sectional supremacy may be in the cards for Hannibal.
The Lady Warriors will feature a handful of both experienced and inexperienced athletes this season. In fact, 21 of the 31 athletes are in 10th grade or younger including four eighth-graders.
However, Hannibal has two juniors and two seniors who are expected to play key roles this season. Many of these athletes have the benefit of taking part in cross country and indoor track with Pawlewicz this year.
Some of the athletes have participated in all three sports for a number of seasons under Pawlewicz and have great familiarity with him. He feels his experienced athletes have a solid understanding of the expectations he has for them.
Yet, the future is now for two of the Lady Warriors eighth-graders.
McKenzie Mattison and Reilly Harris have already completed two seasons on Hannibal’s girls’ varsity cross country team and are embarking on their second season on the schools girls’ varsity track and field team.
Many Lady Warrior athletes who were part of Hannibal’s varsity cross country and/or varsity indoor track teams are also a part of their track and field team.
Pawlewicz said his athletes took part in an active but rather laid back summer program with the hope of peaking towards the end of last fall’s cross country season.
During indoor track season, varsity track and field athletes were prepared throughout the winter. They worked at a steady pace to build momentum throughout the winter.
These athletes have a chance to peak later on in the track and field season. For the athletes that did both varsity cross country and indoor track, they were in decent physical condition.
The athletes who didn’t take part in indoor track weren’t as physically prepared to begin practices. However, Pawlewicz is impressed with how hard these athletes are working to prepare themselves for the season. He is confident the physical conditioning of these athletes will develop as the season goes on.
The Lady Warriors will be led by seniors (Clarkson University bound) Devin Sorell and Gabby Griffin and juniors Micheala Sheldon and Kristen D’Angelo.
Pawlewicz points out the basic traits of a captain is leadership on and off the track and being a great role model for teammates and peers. Taking it a step farther, Pawlewicz feels a captain is someone who dedicates him or herself to working as hard to be a student as he or she does to being an athlete.
Not only does Pawlewicz believe his captains personify the expectations he has for his captains, but he also mentions his captains have so much familiarity with him that they could almost serve as secondary coaches.
The road to a Sectional Championship will be challenging one for the Lady Warriors.
This season, Hannibal takes on the likes of Cazenovia and Skaneateles. Pawlewicz considers those to be among the best teams in the state.
Jordan-Elbridge will also be a challenging meet for the Lady Warriors. Pawlewicz goes on to mention that meets against Westhill and Tully won’t come easily either.
Perhaps Hannibal will be tested the most when they compete in the numerous dual meets that have been scheduled.
First off, the Lady Warriors will host the Hannibal Sports Boosters Invitational April 26. Along with Jordan-Elbridge, Hannibal will face perennial powers Christian Brothers Academy and Holland Patent.
The Lady Warriors will also be competing in the Tully Invitational and the Fulton Athletic Boosters Invitational. Perhaps one of the more challenging events Hannibal will be taking part in this season will be the Oswego County Invitational. In this meet, the Lady Warriors will face the likes of Mexico, Fulton, Phoenix and Oswego.
If Hannibal is to achieve its goals this season, it will need to be a team with many strengths. The Lady Warriors are expected to have many.
Pawlewicz said athletes taking part in the shot put event have a lot of potential. Expectations are high for Micheala Sheldon in the 3000-meters and Mckenzie Mattison is expected to be solid in the steeplechase.
Pawlewicz said Reily Harris has what it takes to be a strong contender in the 1,500-meters and Hannibal’s 4×100 meter team could be one of the toughest in Section 3.
Tayler Dence might be in for an impressive season in the 100 meter and hurdles events. Senior Captain Devin Sorell is striving to return to the State Qualifiers in the long jump and fellow senior Gabby Griffin is expected to have a solid season in the 400-meters.
Pawlewicz said freshmen Sydney Alton, Callie Cacchione and Janejira Cooper and others have the potential to provide depth for the 4×100 meters team. He also expects athletes participating in the pole vault and high jump to improve as the season goes on.