Category Archives: Featured Stories

View from the Assembly

By state Assemblyman Will Barclay

Library use has increased across the state.

According to some of New York State Library’s latest statistics, visits to public libraries increased by seven million from 113 million to 120 million from 2007 to 2009.

The number of items borrowed — books, ebooks, movies, magazines and more — has increased by more than 11 percent.

National Library Week is celebrated in April. This year’s theme is “Lives Change @ Your Library.”

The Assembly commemorated the week (April 13-19) with a resolution, which I was happy to sponsor. I’m an advocate for libraries and believe their presence is an important component to any community.

This year’s enacted state budget provided $86.6 million for libraries across the state. Thankfully, we were able to prevent cuts to libraries as the governor had proposed and instead, the Legislature slightly increased funding from last year by $1 million.

Libraries are an important part of both urban and rural communities and I was pleased funding was increased even if by a relatively small amount.

Historically, libraries have always been important to literacy, but they are also the leading digital literacy educators in New York and are the number one point of Internet access for those who do not have Internet access at home.

To meet the demand of New Yorkers seeking Internet access, including job seekers, libraries have responded by increasing the number of publicly-available Internet-connected computers by more than 28 percent, to more than 17,000 computers.

There are a number of resources available through libraries. I wanted to highlight one in particular that is provided by New York State Library called NOVELny.

It’s an electronic resource access project that enables residents across New York State to have online access to the full text of journals, newspapers and other references for free. It’s funded in part from federal dollars to libraries through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) of 2013.

Users can access databases that maintain a warehouse of business highlights and journals, encyclopedias, elementary level periodicals, general periodicals, health references, and newspaper articles.

For example, a subject search in the eLibrary Elementary, one of the many searchable databases accessible through NOVELny, retrieves child-safe articles published in encyclopedias or magazines that are age appropriate.

Articles can be read in their entirety by the user. Users may also opt to have the article read aloud with a computer-enabled reader called ReadSpeaker.

Users can create and save a list of articles they like or may want to reference for research as well. Genealogy may also be researched through NOVELny.

To find out more, visit

According to the New York State Library, NOVELny provides a minimum of $35 in resources for every $1 of LSTA funding through statewide purchase of electronic information, now freely available. It’s a vast database but even more will be added beginning in July.

We need to continue to invest in our libraries, especially considering how much library use has increased in recent years.

I sponsor legislation that would amend the education law and enable libraries to utilize state aid to install broadband services. Given recent statistics of how much Internet use has increased at libraries, this is important, and especially important to Upstate and rural communities.

Currently, under the Public Library Construction Grant Program, $14 million is appropriated annually for construction, acquisition, renovation or rehabilitation of public libraries.

Excluded from this grant is aid for the purpose of installing broadband services. My bill would allow for libraries to access these funds for broadband installation.

I will continue to advocate for this legislation, A7680, moving forward.

If you have any questions or comments or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, contact my office by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at or by calling 598-5185.

Fort Ontario clean up set for May 3

Saturday, May 3 marks the third annual I LOVE MY PARK Day at Fort Ontario State Historic Site, Oswego.

I Love My Park Day is a statewide event to improve and enhance New York’s state parks and historic sites, bringing visibility to the entire state park system and its needs.

Volunteers from across the state will participate in cleanup, improvement and beautification events at New York state parks and historic sites.

Last year, Fort Ontario had one of the highest turnouts across the state with at least 80 volunteers showing up on I LOVE MY PARK DAY to help ready the fort for the 2013 season.

Coordinators are looking forward to doubling that number in 2014.

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. with work to start by 9 a.m. There will be assignments available for all ages and abilities.

General projects scheduled for I LOVE MY PARK Day include:

** Readying buildings for the 2014 season – sweeping, dusting, mopping and returning exhibits to buildings from winter storage

** Painting – the  exterior of Officer Quarters’ privy as well as the fort’s many benches

** Landscaping/clean-up -– trimming of hedges and bushes inside old fort, weeding and mulching flowerbeds in parking lots, cleaning up sticks, branches, and winter debris throughout the grounds, edging  sidewalks and pulling young weeds that grow among the stonework of the old fort.

In addition to these yearly tasks, the support garnered from I LOVE MY PARK Day 2013 has prompted organizers to plan three larger scale projects this year.

Cuts in both staffing and budgets in recent years have resulted in an overgrowth on the bluff overlooking Lake Ontario, which threatens to completely occlude views of the lake.

With enough volunteers on May 3, officials hope significant clearing can be done that will benefit literally thousands of people who use the grounds of Fort Ontario annually.

The second large scale project planned for the event is straightening headstones in the Post Cemetery. Many of the stones in the historic cemetery are leaning and in danger of falling over.

As this little cemetery is also visited by thousands of people per year, this small improvement will impact visitors throughout the entire year.

Finally, a replacement entry sign for Fort Ontario has been received over the winter and what better time to install it than on I LOVE MY PARK Day? Not only will the new sign and framework be erected, a new flower bed at its base is being designed to enhance the entrance to the fort’s main parking lot.

Everyone is needed on at Fort Ontario on I LOVE MY PARK Day. Scout troops, youth groups, sports teams, school clubs and civic organizations are all definitely welcome.

Bringing your own tools is highly encouraged although only hand tools are allowed (no power tools). Volunteers are advised to wear appropriate footwear, sunglasses and hats when working outside and consider wearing an extra layer of warmth as it is usually slightly cooler on the shore of Lake Ontario.

Feel free to bring your own water and snack, although a light lunch will be provided through our faithful sponsor Marks Pizzeria of Oswego.

In addition to volunteers, organizers are also looking for area businesses and individuals interested in donating supplies and/or tools to help make Fort Ontario’s third I LOVE MY PARK Day event a rousing success.

Kindness will be acknowledged by recognizing you as an official sponsor of the event. Individuals with expertise or backgrounds in forestry, landscaping or cemetery preservation willing to help lead project teams are also needed.

If you are interested in supporting Fort Ontario’s I LOVE MY PARK Day in either of these two ways, call  Ron Healt at 343-4711 or email him at

Those interested in volunteering for any of Fort Ontario’s I LOVE MY PARK DAY projects may pre-register for the event at, or by emailing Jenny Emmons, event coordinator, at  or calling 343-4711.

State Senate Report

By state Sen. Patricia Ritchie

If you’re like me, you’ve had a teacher in your life who has made a significant, lasting impression on you.

Whether he or she taught you your ABCs or impressed upon you some of life’s bigger lessons, like being kind to others, many of us have teachers to thank for the people we have become.

In an effort to recognize teachers who go above and beyond to help their students succeed, I will once again be honoring educators with my “Golden Apple” Award for Teaching Excellence.

Last year, I was able to honor more than 40 educators from Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence Counties with this special program. This year, I am excited to recognize a new group of teachers for their dedication and commitment to helping others learn.

Teachers residing in the area I represent — Oswego, Jefferson and part of St. Lawrence County — are eligible for this award. Nomination forms can be found on my website,, or you can request that one be mailed to you by calling 782-3418.

All nominations must be received by May 9. All nominees will be recognized at a special ceremony taking place on May 30.

I know how important a quality education is, and I know how hard our educators work to ensure every student succeeds.  That’s why I’ve been working hard to support our region’s schools as well as our teachers.

Recently, the newly-enacted state budget provided $20 million in new funding for schools in the region I represent. This is the largest hike in five years, and nearly three times the increase proposed in January by the governor for Northern and Central New York schools.

It was once said, that a great teacher takes a hand, opens a mind and touches a heart. I’ve met many of those teachers through my “Golden Apple” award program, and know there are countless others out there.

If you know a teacher who is impacting young lives by enabling students to achieve success, I encourage you to nominate him or her for this special honor.


Fulton ups fines for rental violations

By Ashley M. Casey

Fulton landlords will have to be a little more diligent in caring for their properties.

The Fulton Common Council amended the law concerning housing maintenance and rental permits to include steeper fines for property owners who skip out on inspections and a $500 fee to renew a revoked rental permit.

“It adds fees to multiple inspections and ‘no-shows’ to help offset our costs and entice owners to come into compliance in a more timely manner,” Brace Tallents of the code enforcement office told The Valley News. “We think that the $500 per unit fee will provide some incentive to the owners to pay a little more attention to their properties.”

The law amends the City Charter’s Subsection C 152(J), “Housing maintenance; rental permits.” The fee for a rental permit is $30 per unit, which includes one code inspection and one follow-up re-inspection to correct any code violations.

That fee doubles to $60 for a second re-inspection, and increases by $30 for each subsequent re-inspection, up to $180 for a sixth re-inspection. If a unit is occupied, the cutoff is the third re-inspection and the code enforcement officer files charges against the property owner.

There are also cancellation and “no-show” fees: $25 if the owner fails to appear within 15 minutes of a scheduled inspection, $25 if the owner cancels within 24 hours of the inspection and $35 for a second cancellation.

“This is not going to hurt landlords that take care of their properties,” Fourth Ward Councilor Jim Myers said. “This is basically recouping our costs for landlords that don’t fix up their properties in a timely manner.”

Fulton resident Dennis Merlino asked the council about “checks and balances” in terms of this amendment’s financial incentive to the city.

“What mechanisms does the city have in place to prevent this from being abused?” Merlino asked.

Mayor Ron Woodward Sr. said the fees mainly act as a deterrent to delinquent landlords and the city spends a lot of time in court battling with such property owners.

“We’re not going to waste our time … on people who don’t want to do simple housing maintenance,” Woodward said.

Tallents said property owners usually have 30 days to correct code violations. Woodward said landlords who are making improvements or need more time to correct violations can apply for an administrative hearing through the code enforcement office without incurring extra penalties.


Audiologist joins Oswego Health


Karah Gottschalk, Au.D./CC-A, has joined Oswego Health as an audiologist.

She is providing hearing and balance testing for those of all ages using the newest technology.

Dr. Gottschalk earned her doctor of audiology degree at the University of Louisville and completed her residency at the University Hospitals Case Medical Center, in Cleveland, Ohio.

She also holds a Certificate of Clinical Competency (CCC-A) from the American Speech and Hearing Association. Throughout her schooling, she took part in extensive training in all aspects of audiology, allowing her to offer comprehensive hearing and balance services.

Oswego Health has purchased the latest hearing and balance equipment for Dr. Gottschalk so community members can receive exceptional audiology care close to their homes.

For those with hearing issues, Dr. Gottschalk is conducting specialized hearing tests using an audiometer in a newly purchased sound booth.

The Audiostar audiometer offers patient comfort and consistent results. When testing an infant’s hearing, she will utilize advanced Auditory Brainstem Response  equipment.

For balance testing, state-of-the-art Videonystagmography equipment, which records a patient’s eye movements during a series of actions, can assist in determining a patient diagnosis.

“I am excited to be offering a variety of excellent hearing and balance services in the community,” Dr. Gottschalk said. “This is a great opportunity that allows me to care for all ages from the very young to the elderly in a hospital environment, which I greatly enjoy.”

The new audiologist offers her hearing and balance services in suite 210 of the Oswego Health Services Center, which is adjacent to Oswego Hospital. The phone number is 349-5828.


Sunrise Rotary pork barbecue April 27

11th Annual Sunrise Rotary Pork BBQ – Sunday April 27, 2014 at the Polish Home – Noon until GONE. Eat in or take out and children under 5 eat FREE – All proceeds used for Community Projects. Pork BBQ Sandwich, Baked Beans, Coleslaw.
Pictured Back row from left; Dennis Goss, Chad Whelsky, Patrick Waite, Betty Maute, Dan Farfaglia, President Ed Garrow, Peggy Donnelly, Doug Stevens, Donna Kestner and Diane Cooper-Currier. Front from left: Linda Rossiter, the Rev. David Nethercott, Ellen Nowyj, Abby Wiertzema and LaVerne DeLand.

St. Luke Health Services honors volunteers

Pictured at a luncheon honoring the over one hundred and twenty volunteers at St. Luke Health Services are (left to right) St. Luke volunteer Hillary Adkins; St. Luke Volunteer Coordinator Nicole Greenier; and volunteer Betty Bartholomew. The St. Luke organization hosted the event as a way to thank their many dedicated volunteers who share their time and talents and help add to the quality of life of residents in their care.
Pictured at a luncheon honoring the more than 120 volunteers at St. Luke Health Services are (left to right) St. Luke volunteer Hillary Adkins; St. Luke Volunteer Coordinator Nicole Greenier; and volunteer Betty Bartholomew. The St. Luke organization hosted the event as a way to thank their many dedicated volunteers who share their time and talents and help add to the quality of life of residents in their care.

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


Hastings receiving money to upgrade sewer plant

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.