Category Archives: Featured Stories

‘Searching for Eden’ returns for an encore

CNY Arts Center announces the return of’ Searching for Eden: The Diaries of Adam and Eve’ for an encore weekend April 4, 5 and 6 at the Arts Center located at 357 State St. Methodist Church, (Park Street entrance) in Fulton.

The romantic comedy written by James Still and starring Peter and Kelly Mahan in the roles of Adam and Eve will be presented for three performances only, at 7:30 p.m. April 4 and 5 and at 3 p.m. April 6.

The performances will be presented as dessert theatre where desserts are included in the ticket price of $15.

“This production was well received by audiences who saw it in February as part of our Date Night Dinner Theatre on Valentine’s Day and we felt strongly we should bring it back for a limited run,” said Nancy Fox, director.

“We heard audience members tell us ‘Every couple should see this play’ and ‘More people need to see this play.’ It is very gratifying to get such vocal support from the audience and with the winter we’ve had and the distractions of the holiday weekend it first played, we felt it was a great kick-off to our spring season,” she said.

This is the first time Peter and Kelly Mahan have worked together as the only characters in a play and their personal relationship as husband and wife lends credibility to the play based on Mark Twain’s original Diaries of Adam and Eve.

By Act Two Adam and Eve are imagined in contemporary society caught up in all too familiar busy lives and annoying cell phones. Drawn to revisit Eden, now a resort called “E,” the couple struggles to rekindle the innocence of their beginnings in the garden when everything was an simple.

“The play is a wonderful portrayal of relationships, the sweet innocence of discovering the special person created just for you, “ Fox said.

“Peter and Kelly lead us through those moments of realizing you’re incomplete without the relationship you were created for which suddenly makes personality differences worth the confusion,” she said. “The play has rich moments of humor and tenderness. It’s a healthy look at what’s important in all relationships.”

Searching for Eden: The Diaries of Adam and Eve runs April 4-6 at CNY Arts Center, 357 State St. Methodist Church in Fulton. Tickets can be reserved and purchased online at www.CNYArtsCenter.com.

For reservations and more information, call 592-3373.

‘Run Boy Run’ to play April 5 at Oswego Music Hall

Run Boy Run, a young five-piece band from Arizona, is coming to town to play traditional and new traditional music in their fresh “string-heavy, old-timey, not-quite-bluegrassy way” at the Oswego’s Music Hall at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 5.

Run Boy Run is officially listed as one of Arizona’s hottest bands. On its current tour, the band is crossing the country to perform in cities the like Denver, St. Louis, Minneapolis, New York and Baltimore.

All in their 20s, the members of Run Boy Run still consider themselves a Tucson band, because they began playing together there in 2009, when the five were students at the University of Arizona.

They got their start, playing open-mics and wherever else they could get gigs. Mere weeks after forming, Run Boy Run won the band contest at Pickin’ in the Pines.

Soon they got a special appearance at the Tellerude Bluegrass Festival in 2012 and two appearances on National Public Radio‘s A Prairie Home Companion. Run Boy Run has been making friends and fans alike ever since with their open-ended musical approach and wonderful stage presence.

Their debut CD, So Sang the Whippoorwill, was released in March 2013 to regional and national critical acclaim.

Garrison Keillor, host of Prairie Home Companion was so impressed with Run Boy Run, that he penned the notes for their debut CD.

“When I hear Run Boy Run,” he wrote,  “it all comes back to me, why I started doing that [radio] show back then. I hope they go on forever.”

The band is brother and sister Matt Rolland (guitar and two-time Arizona state fiddle contest winner) and Grace Rolland (cello, vocals); sisters Bekah Sandoval Rolland (fiddle, vocals) and Jen Sandoval (mandolin, vocals); and bass player Jesse Allen.

Comfortable in the tension between tradition and the current musical frontier, Run Boy Run‘s all-acoustic format blends bluegrass, folk and the old timey American vernacular with touches of classical and jazz.

Their music is rooted in the traditional music of the Appalachian South, but is also definitively present in the 21st century. Run Boy Run plays a mix of original compositions, cover songs, and traditional tunes attributed to the public domain.

Learn more the band’s luminous harmonies at http://www.runboyrunband.com/, and then come and see for yourself how Run Boy Run warms up the stage at the Oswego Music Hall on April 5.

The venue is the McCrobie Civic Center, 41 Lake St., Oswego. Tickets can be purchased on-line at http://oswegomusichall.org/ or at the river’s end bookstore, 19 W. Bridge St., Oswego.

Holders of tickets purchased before 1 p.m. on the day of the concert will have preferred seating. After 1 p.m., seating will be general admission.  Ticket prices for this event are $14 if purchased in advance and $16 at the door. Children 12 and under are half-price; under 5 is free.

The Music Hall’s next concert, April 19th, will feature “Percussion Wizard” Jeff Haynes & Co., including NYC guitarist Sean Harkness.

The Music Hall has been run entirely by volunteers from its inception more than  36 years ago. Volunteers can earn admission to shows through different tasks.

Music Hall concerts are made possible in part with funding by the state Council on the Arts.

For more information call 342-1733 or access the Music Hall website: http://oswegomusichall.org/

Heidi Allen’s sister writes about coping with loss

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Lisa Buske, left, and her younger sister, Heidi Allen
By Lisa Buske
On April 3, 1994, Heidi M. Allen, opened the D &W Convenience store in New Haven, NY by herself.
Instead of leaving at the end of her shift, she was abducted and remains missing today.
Many relate to the parent’s loss after the abduction of a child because this resonates to the core of family. You don’t have to be a parent to understand the impact this loss has because we all have parents and know how we would feel to lose them, the impact when the role is reversed is more intense, heart breaking, and life changing.
As the sister to one of America’s missing, I’ve seen the toll it takes on the parents, family, friends and community. Of course the family suffers the greatest loss, yet the pain and after effect is felt farther than anyone may realize. Many lives are changed forever after the abduction of one child or adult.
The family’s focus is more internal initially, our bodies enter survival mode. Sleep isn’t possible. Overeating or lack of eating is common. An inability to focus for more than a moment makes daily tasks difficult. The poor nourishment, lack of sleep, and stress induced brain freeze can even trigger mental and physical disabilities, preventing the family from returning to their daily routines.
There is a void left in the community as they accept the tragedy. The challenge is to move forward without paralyzing yourself, children, and neighborhood with fear of the unknown.
A common and natural thought is “I can’t do this. How can I survive this loss?”
Our thoughts have the ability to take us captive. It’s a choice each member of the family must make, to accept defeat or keep fighting, like we imagine our loved ones did…to survive. Twenty years later, we still wrestle with the loss of Heidi yet with the help of God and each other, we are stronger and more determined to make sure
Heidi is never forgotten and others know it’s possible to survive tragedy.
Think of the family’s journey as a roller coaster ride. The ride starts when the loved one disappears, and over the years, you are forced to travel up, down, sideways, and even upside down at times because of the things thrust at you during the search, investigation, trials and waiting.
Phone calls from law enforcement to say “A body was found. It could be Heidi.” Or “We’re following up on a tip, we’ll keep you posted.” These induce sleepless nights. Recoveries of cold case missing persons’ trigger grief and hope at the same time.
Heidi’s friends get married, have children, and share milestones via social media. Although thankful to be included in their lives, often tears trickle down our cheeks because Heidi was denied these simple joys. Natural twists and turns yet when your loved one is missing, the responses vary.
We hope and pray to know where Heidi is, but regardless of how she is found, the roller coaster ride is never over, we just get on a new one. There is no closure for the families of the missing. If you’ve lost a loved one, you say “rest in peace” when you say good-bye but to the families of the missing, we may never be able to list RIP on the headstone.
Our question is still the same, “Where’s Heidi?” but some things have changed. We are stronger. We’ve learned to endure, persevere, and cherish each moment for what it is, a memory waiting to happen. A life lesson learned years ago yet one that motivates us daily, tomorrow isn’t a guarantee, so make the most of today.
Will you join us April 3, 2014 to remember Heidi M. Allen, on the platinum anniversary of her disappearance? Enjoy a time of fellowship and light candles of hope to light Heidi’s way home. The initial search and rescue organized at the New Haven Fire Barn so it’s only fitting we gather here for this special occasion.
Today’s moment is tomorrow’s memory. Will you join us as we make new memories of hope for Heidi M. Allen? We hope you will.

 

Hannibal school district updates website

Submitted by Oswego County BOCES

Months of dedicated efforts among the Hannibal Central School District’s technology department, administrators and staff have culminated with the successful launch of a new website.

The site, which can still be found at www.hannibalcsd.org, experienced a significant overhaul and was unveiled recently.

It addresses some of the flaws that users ran into with the previous version. It also is much more user-friendly, said district director of technology, Matt Dean.

“From what I’ve gathered from the people who have provided feedback, (the new site provides) ease of access, it’s cleaner, all the information is centrally located,” Dean said.

In addition to being streamlined and easier to navigate, Dean said that instead of stock photos, the website creates a feeling of Purple Pride, as district students are featured prominently throughout the site.

“We’ll do what we can to make sure you have updated information and pictures right at your fingertips,” he said.

With access to information and school news at the top of the priority list, the district has also added a YouTube channel and joined Twitter as other communication tools.

To follow the district on Twitter, search for the handle “HannibalSchools,” or click on the Twitter icon at the top of the district’s home page.

Hannibal food services receives an A-plus grade

Submitted by Oswego County BOCES

Students in the Hannibal Central School District are not the only ones who are subject to testing, as the Food Service Department recently passed its semiannual inspection.

The department, under the leadership of manager Debbie Richardson, receives a full examination from the Oswego County Health Department twice a year.

Each school undergoes a comprehensive inspection that checks for sanitation problems, safety violations, storage issues and a plethora of other potential hazards.

“They come in and they inspect Part 14 of the health code, which entails a little bit of everything,” Richardson said. “They check the temperatures of the foods and make sure everything is sanitary.”

Richardson said cold foods must be kept below 45 degrees while hot foods must be held at 140 degrees. Anything in between the 45 degree and 140 degree range is known as a danger zone and food can’t be in that zone for more than two hours.

“But we are stricter than that, we’re extra careful with what we do,” Richardson said. “We have a driver and we temp the food before the driver takes it and again when it arrives at the other site.”

For Richardson, the fact that the district received no major violations during its inspections speaks to the efficiency and commitment of her employees.

“We have a head cook in each building who ensures day-to-day operations run smoothly and on time. We have a driver and other food service employees who all work together and make our operations successful,” Richardson said.

“My staff here is so unique; yes they come for a paycheck, but that’s not the only reason,” she said. “They really care about the students. They want to make sure we are giving the students what they want within the regulations and that they are happy with it.

“We’ve got some good foundation as far as years of experience and dedication,” Richardson said.

The food service department is much more than workers dishing up meals to the district’s students each day, Richardson said. She noted the department is responsible for “anything and everything” that needs to be done with food service, from ordering and preparing food to ensuring sanitation guidelines are met on a daily basis.

Students and families learn how to be healthy

Submitted by Oswego County BOCES

Fairley Elementary School transformed into a massive health fair on March 3 as dozens of local health care agencies, businesses and organizations set up shop in the gymnasium for the first-ever Healthy Family Night.

The event was a huge collaborative effort and a significant undertaking, according to organizer and school psychologist Geri Seward. However, Seward noted that months of planning paid off as hundreds of people packed the school’s two gymnasiums.

“It was a lot of work but really was a fabulous event and successful in every way,” Seward said. “The presenters were amazing; the donations were amazing; the families and kids were amazing.  The feedback from all participants was amazing. What else could you ask for?”

Vendors were on hand from Oswego Health to provide information about their services and display X-ray images of bones. Businesses like Ontario Orchards also participated and gave out free bottles of apple cider. Representatives from police and fire agencies were on hand as well, discussing safety and even issuing child identification tags. Even youth development organizations, such as Boy Scouts, provided demonstrations.

“It was such a great bridge-building (effort) between home and school and community and school,” Seward said. “We all had a chance to learn, have fun and be together.”

In addition to holding raffles and hosting different vendors, Healthy Family Night focused on physical fitness as well. Students had an opportunity to show their parents what they learned in physical education class by using some of the equipment in the small gym.

Although the inaugural event just wrapped up, organizers are already looking toward the future.

“We hope it will be the first of many Healthy Family Nights,” Seward said.

Kenney students behave, achieve good grades

Submitted by Oswego County BOCES

At Hannibal’s Dennis M. Kenney Middle School, student achievement has soared this school year while disciplinary referrals have plummeted, creating a cause for celebration among faculty and pupils alike.

During a recent school board meeting, DMK Principal Dee Froio, DMK counselor Meg Jaworski and school psychologist Meredith Furlong discussed the reinvigorated Character Education Program. The program has gained traction since the beginning of the school year, when members of the building leadership team first got together to discuss their goals for the year. That team has evolved into a separate subcommittee and developed various initiatives to help boost student achievement while also addressing student disciplinary issues.

“We are looking to infuse character education within the culture and climate of the school,” Froio said.

The principal noted that the eight-person character education subcommittee meets monthly to decide on a particular trait that they want to see reinforced in the school community. However, rather than simply expecting students to know what respect is, there is an educational process that teaches students exactly what respect looks like.

“The focus of the committee is to take those traits and make them a focus every month so students can see these things in action, being practiced. “We have different activities for each trait that really helps reinforce everything.”

Morning announcements typically incorporate a word of the day that correlates with that month’s character trait, which also helps emphasize the trait. Respect, citizenship, kindness, caring and other qualities have been the focus of the initiative so far this school year, with announcements, incentives and activities held in conjunction with each. Activities include a free breakfast pizza event, an ice cream social, prize drawings and other celebratory happenings.

“We are trying to couple each character trait with academics and expectations and help our kids grow into (well-rounded) individuals,” Furlong said.

So far, mission accomplished. Teachers, counselors and faculty members have reported a noticeable change among the students. According to Jaworski, students are going out of their way to exhibit the character trait of the month. In addition to positive feedback from staff members, disciplinary data also confirms the strides students have taken to exhibit good behavior.

“We’re holding the students accountable and we’re also asking the staff to enforce those expectations,” Froio said. “If you compare the total referrals from September to December last year, we had 529 for that period; this year we’re at 435. We are trending in the right direction.”

With the district placing an emphasis on character education, Froio said she expects that trend to continue into the next marking period, the next school year and beyond. Judging by the 20 percent increase in students who earned recognition during  a recent character education breakfast, the principal’s vision is becoming a reality.

People still remember disappearance of Heidi Allen after 20 years

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By Debra J. Groom

April 3, 1994.

It’s Easter Sunday. People in Oswego County are getting ready to celebrate this holiest of days on the Christian calendar.

It’s about 7:30 a.m. In New Haven, Town Justice Russell Sturtz is getting ready for church. Ditto Historian Marie Strong.

Over in Oswego, Undersheriff Reuel Todd is helping his wife with preparations for a family holiday feast later in the day.

Everything changes about 20 minutes later.

“I got a phone call about 7:50,” said Todd, who now is Oswego County sheriff. “They said one of our deputies was flagged down out in New Haven because the door to the D&W Convenience Store was unlocked but there was no one at the store.”

Sturtz got a similar call from his sister-in-law, who was Heidi’s mother. “She said Heidi wasn’t at the store,” he said.

Heidi Allen, then 18, was working at the D&W Convenience Store at the intersection of Route 104 and 104B that Easter morning. Some time after 7:30 a.m., she disappeared.

She has not been found in all these 20 years.

Heidi and her disappearance still affects people throughout New Haven and other parts of Oswego County to this day. Many will gather April 3 at the New Haven Fire Department to remember Heidi, share stories and light candles.

In those 20 years, two trials were held. Brothers Richard and Gary Thibodeau were arrested and charged with kidnapping Heidi. Separate trials were held – Richard was found not guilty, Gary was found guilty.

Gary, now 60, is serving 25 years to life in the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, Clinton County. His scheduled release date is May 19, 2020, according to state prison records.

While many cases this old may be set aside, especially after someone has been found guilty and sent to prison, that isn’t the case here.

Todd said the Heidi Allen case is still very active. The case is discussed once a month and rookies and trainees even get in on the action by checking all the information from the case to see what has been done.

And the Oswego County Sheriff’s Office still has a Heidi Allen page on its website.

“It is discussed here probably more than any case we’ve ever had,” Todd said. “We continually follow up leads as to where she is. If we get a teletype for remains that have been found, we follow it up. Our main interest is the family. If we could recover her, it would put an end to it for the family,”

Heidi’s older sister Lisa Buske, of New Haven, has written four books about the feelings one has when a loved one vanishes without a trace. She has met other people from all over who also have missing family members. She speaks to many groups across the country about her journey.

She said “it is more common than you think” that someone can remain missing for 20 years. She has met people with family members missing for 30-plus years.
The use of DNA to make matches with discovered remains has helped solve many cases.

“There are a lot of cold cases out there,” she said.

Todd talked of the searches held from the moment Heidi was discovered missing.

“I gathered up the things we would need, pens, county maps, yellow pads, and headed to New Haven,” he said. “Our initial thought was ‘oh, she ran home for something and forgot to lock the (store) door.’ Or ‘we’re going to get a call — she’s going to call and say ‘I’ll be back shortly.’”

But those calls never came. Todd and scores of others spent much of the next two weeks at the New Haven fire hall, putting together search parties, tracking down leads, talking to witnesses.

Strong, the historian, heard about the case when Sturtz showed up at her house to get her son to help with the search. She also worked at the fire hall registering people who were helping out.

“This just seemed impossible,” she said. “It didn’t seem like this could happen around here – it’s a small town, a quiet town.”

Many members of the public showed up to help search. Todd said searches actually were made easier by the heavy wet snow that fell that Easter morning. If the snow in an area was pristine and untouched, everyone knew Heidi couldn’t be there.

“There were guys all over searching,” said Alan Downing, who was New Haven supervisor at that time. “I volunteered for searches.”

To date, the Heidi search has taken sheriff’s office officials to many different states. Buske said Todd is always sure to let the family know when remains are found that are being checked to see if they could be Heidi.

In fact, the case was publicized in many parts of the country. Downing, who took a trip to the Canadian Rockies a number of years after the kidnapping, said he was traveling back into Washington state from Canada and saw a 3-foot square sign “Have You Seen Heidi?” with her photo as he entered the U.S.

Todd said not finding Heidi is the matter that bothers him the most in his nearly 40-year law enforcement career.

“I would like to think we left no stone unturned,” he said last week. “I’m a parent and I can’t figure out what they’re (Heidi’s parents Ken and Sue) going through. I think because we got so close, it’s more troublesome. When you have something like this you like to see a finality.”

Todd recently announced he is running for another four-year term as sheriff. That will give him another four years to try to find Heidi.

“If I could find her, I would retire a very, very happy man,” he said.