Category Archives: Featured Stories

Hot air balloon fest coming to Oswego County

A hot air balloon festival is coming to Oswego County in June.

Hot air balloons will take to the skies over the Sandy Creek Fairgrounds June 6, 7 and 8 at the Oswego County Balloon Festival. The event opens at 3 p.m. Friday, June 6, and closes with music by Frostbit Blue Sunday night, June 8.

There also will be plenty of action on solid ground with music, a petting zoo, crafts and vendors.

At least 10 hot balloons in a variety of styles are scheduled to fly, with balloon launches Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday morning, and Saturday and Sunday nights, weather permitting. After the sun sets Saturday evening, spectators will be treated to the sight of glimmering hot air balloons in flight during the “balloon glow” from 9 to 10 p.m.

The event is being organized by All Over Events of Pulaski, NY.

Fulton wrestling prepares for next season

By Rob Tetro

James Bailey and Travis Kemp recently wrestled their final matches in Fulton red and green.

As they move on to the next phases of their lives, they do so while having left their marks on the Fulton Wrestling Program.

Both athletes were four-year wrestlers for the Red Raiders. Varsity wrestling coach Chris Stalker said Bailey and Kemp were great leaders who taught their teammates the importance of hard work, dedication and determination.

As these athletes move toward life beyond high school, Stalker hopes they do so while having learned that hard work pays off. He also hopes Kemp and Bailey move on with the ability to understand what it means to be a part of a successful team — that success isn’t just a part of individual efforts, but rather it’s understanding just how much a team can accomplish when they work together.

While the Red Raiders begin preparing for the 2014-15 season, they do so having been able to get many younger wrestlers some experience at the varsity level this past season.

However, Stalker feels James Bailey’s example could be felt for years to come.

As a junior, Bailey didn’t have as much as success as he hoped he would. Despite the disappointment, Bailey worked hard over the offseason and continued to display his impressive work ethic throughout the season.

The end result was a very successful season, including solid performances in Sectional and State meets.

Stalker said his younger wrestlers know what it takes to succeed at a high level because Bailey led by example and had the success to show for it.

Looking ahead to next season, Stalker is excited about some of the younger athletes making their way up the ranks of the Fulton Wrestling Program.

He said this past season, his team had ninth-grader Travis Race qualify for the State Meet and 11th-grader Mitch Woodworth had a solid performance at the State meet.

Stalker expects these two athletes to serve as key leadership figures next season. He looks forward to seeing these two  lead by example like Bailey and Kemp did with the hopes that they too, will succeed while encouraging others to follow in their footsteps.

Volunteers sort Girl Scout cookies for ‘emergency drill’

By Ashley M. Casey

Blowing snow and bitter winds didn’t deter the Oswego County Health Department on Wednesday as they unloaded and sorted 26,500 boxes of cookies for about 25 local Girl Scout troops.

About 30 volunteers from several county departments processed the cookies at the Oswego County Highway Garage in Scriba as a practice run for distributing emergency supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS).

This was the second year the Girl Scouts and the county teamed up for the Strategic National Stockpile drill.

The SNS is the nation’s collection of vaccines, medicines and other supplies that state and local governments must be able to distribute to the public in case of a health emergency such as a massive flu outbreak or bioterrorism attack.

“We’ve been asked by the state to demonstrate our ability (to distribute the supplies),” said Diane Oldenburg, senior public health educator for the Health Department. “It was a way to test our capabilities that goes beyond sitting around the table … with ‘paper’ scenarios.”

Volunteers wore color-coded vests — yellow and red for picking boxes, silver for quality assurance and orange for inventory control — over coats and scarves in the chilly garage.

Oldenburg said a health department staff member is involved in Girl Scouts, so the county contacted local Girl Scout leaders with the idea for the drill. Last year, volunteers handled 30,000 boxes of cookies at the drill.

County volunteers had to work quickly to break down pallets stacked high with Thin Mints and Tagalongs, sorting out the orders for area troops.

“It’s not an empty box. It’s got a little more value — it’s something that can be damaged, so it makes it a little more realistic,” Oldenburg said.

Girl Scouts NYPENN Pathways Community Development Manager Judi Knowlton and several local “cookie moms” were on hand to help as well.

“It saves us from having to get the volunteers, and it gives the county the practice they need, so it’s a win-win,” Knowlton said.

Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang said Wednesday’s weather — which led to school cancellations and traffic woes across the region — did not affect the drill.

“The weather is not a factor,” Huang said. “When the real (emergencies) happen, we don’t know what the conditions will be.”

Legislature approves investment policy change

By Debra J. Groom

The Oswego County Legislature OKed a measure Thursday that will allow the county treasurer to get a better interest rate when he invests county money.

Treasurer Fred Beardsley said the county already has an investment policy. But the governor recently signed a law that allows a change in how county invetments are made, so the Legislature on Thursday approved a new investment policy.

Beardsley said banks were losing money when there were large investments made at the banks. This is because the bank had to put up collaterol of its own money on large deposits.

For example, he said if the county invested $100,000, the bank has to put up the $100,000 plus an amount for hte interest.

“With interest rates so low, the banks are losing money on this,” Beardsley said. “So many banks are refusing to take these investments.”

The change OKed by the governor allows the county to invest the money, which then goes to a holding company and then is divvied out to banks in smaller increments.

For example, Beardsley said if the county invests $1 million, the money goes to the holding company and then is given to different banks in $250,000 increments, called insured cash sweeps.

“It provides us with a higher interest rate and the banks will take the investments,” Beardsley said.

He said the county has had trouble making much money on its investments since interest rates have plummeted.

He said interest rates now are about 0.05 of a percent to about 0.15 of a percent.

“Our income on inteerst used to be about $1 million a year,” he said. “This year, we’ll be lucky to see $75,000.”

The legislature also approved a measure to transfer cemetery accounts in the custody of the county treasurer to the cemetery owners.

Beardsley said when he became treasurer, he checked all the bank accounts and found two accounts that were more than 40 years old. They were from cemeteries founded back in the 1880s.

“The cemeteries went defunct at one time and the money was transferred over to us,” Beardsley said.

He researched the cemeteries and found both — one in Richland and one in Pennellville — still are being kept up. So the money in the accounts will be given to those in charge of upkeep at the cemeteries to help with the maintenance.

The total being transferred is about $900.

The legislature also approved:

• Supporting a statewide indigent defense legal system. County Administrator Philip Church said having the state run the system to provide lawyers to low-income defendants  would save the county about $1.5 million.

• Supporting an alternative to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed tax freeze that would lead to the state taking over mandated programs such as Medicaid, indigent defense and special education preschool.

Storm dumps about a foot in Fulton, Oswego area

By Debra J. Groom

It may have seemed like the end of the world on Wednesday, March 12.

But actually, it wasn’t even the worst March 12 the area has ever seen.

Weather observers in Fulton and Oswego tallied about a foot of snow for the area on Wednesday. Both Paul Cardinali in Fulton and William Gregway in Oswego said they have only estimates for snowfall because the wind was blowing so hard it was difficult to get a good reading.

“I have been doing this for 45 years,” Gregway said Thursday. “This was the most difficult day to try to get a measurement that I’ve ever seen. The wind was out of the North-Northeast and was gusting from 40 to 45 mph. I had drifts here where I’ve never had drifts before.”

Cardinali agreed.

“I shoveled off a couple of areas to check the snowfall early Wednesday,” he said. “Come afternoon, it was all over.”

Cardinali measured about 13 inches for Fulton while Gregway came up with about 10 inches in Oswego.

But Cardinali reminded everyone the storm of 1993 was also on March 12. He said Fulton tallied 20 inches on that day.

So perhaps this past Wednesday wasn’t really that bad.

Fulton girl leads all-star bowling team to state title

Mikayla Guernsey, right, with teammate Kate Ely.
Mikayla Guernsey, right,
with teammate Kate Ely.

By Ashley M. Casey

G. Ray Bodley High School senior Mikayla Guernsey led the Section III all-star girls’ bowling team to victory at the state title championship March 2 on Long Island.

Section III girls won over Section VI by 53 pins with a score of 5772. The boys’ Section III team came in third place behind Sections XI and VIII.

Guernsey, 17, averaged a score of 213.33 over six games at Babylon Lanes in West Babylon, N.Y. Hers was the highest average of the six girls on her team and of the whole girls’ championship.

Guernsey’s fellow Fultonian and all-star teammate, Kate Ely, a junior at G. Ray Bodley, averaged 158.50.

Another Fulton junior, Kyle Denson, averaged 174.16 with the Section III boys’ all-star team.

“It was really, really cool … getting to compete against other people we don’t usually compete against (and) meeting new people,” Guernsey said of the state championship.

“We knew we had a really good chance, but I didn’t think we were going to win,” she added. “I was surprised — we were very happy.”

As a graduating senior, Guernsey said she will miss her teammates and the “close bonding” they have shared over her high school career.

“We’re all close friends, so I’m going to miss that a lot,” she said.

Guernsey’s father, Mike Guernsey, said the Fulton bowling coach is Mike Tryniski of Lakeview Lanes.

Mikayla Guernsey, who has been bowling since age 5, said she plans to study accounting at Robert Morris University in Chicago, Illinois.

She said the school is known for its bowling program.

County to expand landfill

By Debra J. Groom

Oswego County should see the expansion of its landfill begin sometime next summer.

Director of Solid Waste Frank Visser said planning has been going on for some time on how and when to expand the Bristol Hill Landfill in the town of Volney. He said the county is planning to add another 5.3 acres to the site, which should last the county 10 years.

The cost — $3.5 million. It is one of the biggest factors officials are considering in looking at aspects of the 2015 county budget.

“It costs so much because there are several layers of polyethylene and clay liners that go into the landfill,” Visser said. These liners are built so nothing put into the landfill would ever leak into the ground or groundwater in the area.

Visser said drawings for the expansion are “99 percent complete.” The proposal then has to be reviewed and approved by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

He said county officials hope to put the project out to bid by Feburary so a contractor can be selected by spring 2015.

“There is a very narrow construction season for this,” Visser said, notig the work cannot be done when it is wet. “We hope to do it next summer.”

The construction will take about three months, he said.

Visser said the landfill has been operated well and has been depositing solid waste on seven acres of land opened in 1996. “That’s phenomenal for a landfill,” he said.

The main reason so little solid waste is being dumped in the landfill is the county’s Energy Recovery Facility in Fulton. Nearly all household garbage is taken there to be burned instead of being dumped in the landfill.

Visser said most of what goes to the landfill is sludge, contaminated soil and construction and demolition debris —things that can’t be burned at the Energy Recovery Facility.

Visser said Oswego County residents are “average” recyclers. When asked what could be done to get people to recycle more, he said programs to increase recycling cost a lot of money to run.

Visser said the Bristol Hill Landfill opened in 1983with 17 acres. There have been five additions since then — the landfill now consists of 40 acres.

Seventeen of the 40 acres have been closed and 23 are still being used.

Visser said the landfill’s 2007 permit was modified to allow the county to expand higher than the 23 acres it is now using.