Category Archives: Featured Stories

Program put SUNY Oswego students on bikes

Submitted by SUNY Oswego

The new SUNY Oswego Bike Share program provides refurbished bicycles to students up to a semester at a time to encourage fitness and cost savings while helping cut down on car trips.

Cycling and recycling come naturally to Alex Elkins, a senior technology education major and founder of SUNY Oswego Bike Share.

He races mountain bikes on a national level, rides about 10,000 miles year-round and works in a Rochester bicycle shop, where he applies skills he needed to learn to afford racing.

“We’re going to teach basic maintenance to borrowers. To those so inclined, we’ll teach advanced maintenance,” Elkins said. “That’s a big part of sustainability, along with fitness and saving gas — you can save a lot of money fixing your own bike.”

Bike Share’s headquarters are in the basement of Hewitt Union on campus, where students can apply for one of 15 bicycles the club has ready to go.

With other two-wheelers scavenged for parts, Bike Share has received about 25 donations of used bicycles from the Oswego community, Elkins and his contacts in Rochester, University Police and other campus staff, and from roadside discards.

Contact to make a donation.

SUNY Oswego Bike Share has received assistance from the college’s Facilities Design and Construction office. Graduate assistant Jason MacLeod recruited Elkins and has helped him launch the program, and campus sustainability coordinators Mike Lotito and Jamie Adams encouraged the program with new tools, repurposed space in Hewitt Union and other startup necessities.

Adams and Lotito pointed out that vehicular traffic accounts for about a third of Oswego’s contribution to greenhouse gases as a lot of people drive around campus, as well as to and from it.

“The bike-sharing program is right up there on our roadmap for strategically reducing the college’s carbon footprint, and at the same time proving health and wellness on campus,” Adams said. SUNY Oswego, through its Climate Action Plan and the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, is pursuing strategies to reduce emissions up to 40 percent by 2020.

Elkins said Bike Share has built accountability into its program: statements of need, waivers, locks to go with each bicycle, encouragement to share the two-wheeler with others and, as experience and growth dictate, perhaps a deposit that includes a fee to help the program safeguard its investment and pay its way.

“I want to see people take responsibility for the bikes,” he said.

Elkins, who will student teach in technology this fall, said he minors in sustainability and comes by his interest in cycling through his parents, who both ride and minimize driving.

“Bike Share is right on point with what I’m interested in,” he said. “My passion is cycling and the outdoors. Why not share that in this way?”

For more information on sustainability initiatives at the college, visit


FULTON FAMILIES – The good earth: The Vescios’ roots go deep in Fulton

Front page – The Vescios gathered for youngest child June’s baptism in November 1934. This photo appeared with a story about the family in The Post-Standard. Photo courtesy of Sam Vescio
Front page – The Vescios gathered for youngest child June’s baptism in November 1934. This photo appeared with a story about the family in The Post-Standard.
Photo courtesy of Sam Vescio

Editor’s note: This is the seventh installment of stories about Fulton Families. The monthly series will tell the stories of families that have either lived in Fulton for ages or perhaps only a short while — but the common bond will be they love the city and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. If you know of a family we should highlight, please email Debbie Groom, Valley News managing editor, at 

By Ashley M. Casey

“One of Fulton’s Largest Families: Vescio’s 12 Children Range From 5 Months to 18 Years” reads the 1934 Post-Standard clipping’s headline.

Although the story is 80 years old, it’s not unlike headlines found in The Valley News today. Now, the Vescios’ appearance in the local media has come full circle.

Of the 14 children born to Angelo and Rosina Vescio, only 12 lived to adulthood. Today, four of the original Vescio children are alive in Fulton: Joe, Sam, Ellen and June. Sam Vescio, now 87, and his daughter, Rosemary Vescio Pollard, shared their story of what keeps them in the city that their clan has called home for more than a century. Continue reading

Aldi’s wants to come to Fulton

By Ashley M. Casey

The supermarket chain Aldi Inc. has requested a special use permit from the city of Fulton to begin building a store on the former Nestlé site on the corner of Fay and South Fourth streets.

The Common Council approved a resolution to set a public hearing April 15 for the special use permit.

Mayor Ron Woodward told The Valley News Aldi and the site’s owner, Carbonstead LLC, approached the city about a month ago about the proposed construction. The property falls under the Manufacturing M-1 district and would need to be re-zoned as Commercial C-2.

According to Aldi’s special use permit application, the store will be 17,651 square feet.

Aldi is a German supermarket chain that operates 1,200 stores in the United States and 9,235 stores globally.

The public hearing will be held at the next Common Council meeting — 7 p.m., April 15, in the Common Council Chambers of the Municipal Building, 141 S. First St. Continue reading

Oswego County unemployment rate in double digits

By Debra J. Groom

Oswego County’s unemployment rate remains in double digits for February 2014.

Although the rate is down from a year ago, it is still one of the highest in the state.

In February 2013, the jobless rate was 11.7 percent, while in February 2014, it was 10 percent.

The February 2014 rate of 10 percent is up from the January 2014 rate of 9.7 percent.

All unemployment rates in Central New York counties for February 2014 are down from a year ago.

Chris White, speaking for the state Labor Department, said Oswego County has been hit harder than other counties with losses in the manufacturing sector.

“But officials and other companies there are working much harder to get more manufacturing jobs into the county,” he said.

The lowest jobless rate in the state for February is Tompkins County at 4.9 percent. The highest is the Bronx at 12 percent.

The highest rates after the Bronx are Lewis County at 10.9 percent, Jefferson at 10.5 percent, Orleans at 10.2 percent and Hamilton and Oswego at 10 percent.

A report issued by the state Labor Department shows Oswego County lose about 500 jobs in manufacturing, financial activities and natural resources-construction in the 12 months ending in February 2014.

The county gained more than 1,000 jobs in that 12-month period in leisure and hospitality and about 500 jobs in trade, transportaion and utilities.

Some of the expanding or growing businesses mentioned in the labor report are Sunoco, Oswego REcycling, Fulton Cos., K&N Foods, Champlain Valley Specialty, Novelis, Teti Bakery, F.W. Webb Co. and Little Luke’s Day Care.

The unemployment rate in Oswego County was at its lowest point in April through December 2013. It went up to 9.7 percent in January 2014 and now again to 10 percent in February 2014.

New state budget includes enhancements for anglers, hunters

The new state budget for 2014-15 just passed this week by the legislature and signed by the governor includes some money to help hunters and anglers.

Here are some of the items in the budget:

** $4 Million for New York State Hatcheries and Continued Efforts to Stock NY’s Waterways. The money will be used to address critical infrastructure repair needs in the state’s fish hatchery system.

Specifically, DEC will make repairs to hatcheries, including boiler replacements at Chautauqua Hatchery in Western New York and Oneida Hatchery in the Mohawk Valley, and rearing pond (raceway) repairs at several DEC hatcheries. Building repair and improvement projects are also in the works for Caledonia Hatchery in the Finger Lakes, which will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2014.

In addition, DEC plans to purchase 16 new fish stocking trucks with fish life support systems that are essential for the safe delivery of stocked fish.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) operates 12 fish hatcheries in New York and plans to stock more than 2.3 million catchable-size brook, brown and rainbow trout in more than 309 lakes and ponds and roughly 2,900 miles of streams across the state this spring.

A list of all waters scheduled to be stocked this spring can be found at

** Reduced Price Fishing Licenses, Free Fishing Promotions. Fees will be reduced for seven-day fishing licenses, from $31 to $28 for non-residents and $13 to $12 for residents. There also will be an increase in the number of authorized statewide free fishing days to eight from two and authorization for DEC to offer 10 days of promotional prices for hunting, fishing and trapping licenses.

These reduced prices build upon efforts last year, which saw successfully streamlined fishing and hunting licenses, reduced fees, and made fishing licenses valid for one year from the date of purchase.

** $6 Million for Access to Fishing and Other Recreational Opportunities will allow for 50 new access projects involving 380,000 acres for fishing, hunting, hiking, canoeing, bird watching and other forms of recreational activities throughout the state.

The vast majority of these new access sites will provide new or improved access to fishing opportunities, with new trails to fishing sites, fishing platforms, boat launches, improved signage, and new and improved parking.

** Expanded Adventure License Offers involves discounted Adventure Plates to existing lifetime fishing licenses holders and access to the plates to annual license holders.

Anglers, both new and existing license holders, will now be able to choose from licenses plates featuring trout, striped bass and walleye:

** Boating and Fishing Access Upgrades Underway at facilities on Forge Pond in Suffolk County, the Mohawk River in Schenectady County, Great Sacandaga Lake in Saratoga County and Lower Saranac Lake in Franklin County.

New access projects to be completed in 2014 include a new boat launch on Round Lake in Saratoga County and installation of a fishing pier on Green Lake in Greene County. The state has invested more than $2.8 million on boat launch improvements during the past three years.

Other enhancements for sportsmen include:

** Authorization of crossbow hunting, except on Long Island and Westchester County, for hunters 14 years of age or older for small game, and for big game throughout firearms seasons and during portions of archery season

** Debut of Lifetime Empire Passport, which offers visitors to state parks the option of paying a one-time fee to experience all that New York Parks have to offer throughout their lifetime

** Launched new Adventure Licenses to holders of lifetime hunting, fishing and trapping licenses, as well Parks’ Lifetime Empire Passport and NY Safe Boating certificates, whereby a person can consolidate his or her paper licenses onto one document

** Streamlined access to sporting licenses at to easily purchase and print fishing licenses online from a home computer. License holders also can order new Adventure Licenses and Adventure plates from the website.

Fulton teams receive Scholar/Athlete awards

The New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) has recognized the seven varsity winter athletic teams in the Fulton City School District.

The association presented Scholar/Athlete Team Awards to the following teams: Girls’ basketball, boys’ basketball, girls’ bowling, ice hockey, boys’ indoor track, girls’ indoor track, and boys’ swimming.

To receive the NYSPHSAA’s scholar distinction, the team average must be 90 percent or higher during the season.

Maroun supports St. Baldrick’s

Submitted by Oswego County BOCES

For the eighth time in his 17 years of teaching in the Phoenix Central School District, Matt Wieczorek is sporting a shaved head in support of childhood cancer research.

The fourth-grade teacher has been participating in the annual St. Baldrick’s Day fundraiser for nearly a decade to help fund life-saving studies in childhood cancer treatment. With a lofty goal of $5,000, Wieczorek reached out to friends, family, the school district and the Phoenix community, and the results were overwhelming, he said.

“I was blown away by the outpouring of tremendous support I received last year when everyone helped me crush my goal of raising $3,500,” Wieczorek said, noting that the support was even stronger in 2014. “I don’t know if people think it’s just me using a phrase that ‘you can’t thank people enough,’ but between the support I’ve received from friends outside of the district and the people within the district … it’s pretty wonderful.”

Students at Michael A. Maroun Elementary School even got in on the fundraising action with Bald is Beautiful Day, resulting in an extra $660 for childhood cancer research. The youngsters were encouraged to donate to the fundraising efforts and, in return, they could wear a hat during the school day. Decked out in all types of hats, from traditional baseball caps to whacky winter hats, students showed their support in any way they could to push the teacher closer to his goal.

When it was Wieczorek’s turn to have his head shaved March 30, he had nearly reached his goal by collecting $4,720.

“All I do is lose hair, but everyone else hands over money,” he said. “I don’t think they realize that they are the ones actually doing the work. I just show up and get my head shaved. Without them I’d just be some goofy-looking bald guy.”

The teacher wasn’t the only one with Phoenix ties who received the bald treatment March 30. Wieczorek’s former student Mary Bergman joined him in the head-shaving fundraiser.

“It’s great to see so many people help this cause,” Wieczorek said. “It’s even better when I see former students being so selfless and donating their time, money and efforts.”

Health clinics set for week of April 7

The Oswego County Health Department offers a variety of services to all residents of Oswego County, including preventive health services, certified home health care, long-term home health care, certified hospice, and a maternal and child health program.

Walk-in influenza clinics are held weekdays from 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. at the Nick Sterio Public Health Clinic, 70 Bunner St., Oswego for people age 19 and older. No appointment is needed; walk-ins are welcome.

Children’s flu vaccine is now available every Tuesday from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. in Oswego, and the third Tuesday of every month from 9 to 11 a.m. at the H. Douglas Barclay Courthouse, Pulaski.

The children’s flu vaccine is available at no cost to all children who qualify for the Vaccines for Children Program provided by the state Department of Health. For those who do not qualify, the cost is $37 for the inactivated vaccine.

The health department accepts cash or checks for payment. The department does not accept credit or debit cards. Patients with private insurance, Managed Medicaid, Managed Medicare, Medicaid, Medicare, and Medicare Part B should bring their benefit cards with them to the immunization clinic.  No one will be turned away due to inability to pay.

The following services will be offered during the week of April 7 at the Nick Sterio Public Health Clinic, 70 Bunner St., Oswego.


** Adult Influenza Clinic: Monday through Friday, 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m., walk-in clinic.

** Immunization Clinic: Tuesday, April 8, 12:30 to 3:30 p.m., walk-in clinic.

** Pregnancy Testing: Free pregnancy testing is available. Call 349-3391 to schedule an appointment.

** Sexually Transmitted Disease Testing and Treatment Services: Call 349-3547 to schedule an appointment.

** HIV Counseling and Testing Service:  Call 349-3547 to schedule an appointment.

Immunization clinics are held every Tuesday from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. at 70 Bunner St., Oswego, and the third Tuesday of every month from 9 to 11 a.m. at the H. Douglas Barclay Courthouse, Pulaski.

For more information, call the County Health Department, weekdays phone 349-3547 or (800) 596-3200, ext. 3547. For information on rabies clinics, call 349-3564.