Category Archives: Featured Stories

New York B.A.S.S. Nation wins conservation award

New York B.A.S.S. Nation has won the 2013 Berkley Conservation Award.

The Berkley Conservation Institute  announced the award, worth $2,000 in cash, Monday and will present it at the B.A.S.S. Conservation Awards banquet Feb. 22 in Birmingham during the 2014 Bassmaster Classic.

“The New York B.A.S.S. Nation is a role-model for other organizations to follow,” said Jim Martin, Berkley Conservaton Institute Conservation Director.

“Their members are making a difference. They have a great plan, are organized and dedicated. The Ramp Monkeys concept is something that every state B.A.S.S. Nation should emulate,” he said.

:Getting youth involved in conservation efforts is vital to the future of our aquatic resources. I salute the New York B.A.S.S. Nation for their commitment to the principles that the Berkley Conservation Institute holds dear,” Martin said.

In winning the Conservation Award, the New York B.A.S.S. Nation took a multi-pronged approach to battling invasive species in the Empire State.

State Conservation Director Barb Elliott worked with New York B.A.S.S. Nation youth clubs to form “Ramp Monkeys.” These groups attend area bass tournaments and first remove plant debris from launch areas, then as anglers pull their rigs out, the Ramp Monkeys use kid-power to “Clean, Drain and Dry” each boat and trailer.

The operation is an opportunity for outreach to anglers and boaters and an educational experience for the youth members.

The New York B.A.S.S. Nation members also continued to battle invasive water chestnuts by physically removing the plants from lakes, canals and rivers and worked with state agencies, lake associations, universities and watershed alliances to distribute educational/outreach materials to increase awareness of invasive species.

“The New York B.A.S.S. Nation is honored to receive this award,” said President Fred Blom. “I am proud of the accomplishments of the whole organization. We are all working hard to make a difference.”

Berkley Conservation Institute is a division of the Pure Fishing Co., the world’s largest tackle company headquartered in Columbia, SC.

The brand names of Pure Fishing include Abu Garcia, All Star Rods, Berkley, Fenwick, Mitchell, Penn, Pflueger, Shakespeare, Spiderwire and Stren.

NYS offering lifetime licenses for hunting, fishing, visiting NY parks

The state last week introduced the New York State Adventure License Series, providing New Yorkers and visitors the opportunity to purchase lifetime licenses to fish, hunt and visit New York State Parks.

The state also unveiled New York’s Outdoor Adventure License Plates, which features nine new plate designs – including the I [love] NY HUNTING, I [love] NY FISHING, and I [love] NY PARKS license plates – available for free exclusively to those buying new lifetime hunting, fishing, or parks licenses in 2014.

In addition, New York residents who secure lifetime licenses will have the opportunity to receive an Adventure License, which allows them the option of consolidating all their recreation licenses and benefits onto their New York State Driver’s License, an initiative first introduced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo during his State of the State address last month.

The Adventure License and plates are available on the state’s revamped online licensing portal: http://licensecenter.ny.gov/nys-adventure-license.

To promote these latest offers, the state will launch a direct mail campaign and send one million letters to notify current short term recreational license holders.

Big changes in store for Oswego County BOCES CTE program

By Ashley M. Casey

With a $35 million renovation of the Oswego County BOCES complex on the agenda for this summer and some new programs on the way, the Career and Technical Education branch of BOCES is undergoing some big changes for the 2014-15 school year.

CTE Principal Marla Berlin, who took the helm in September 2013, presented an update on the programs’ progress at the Feb. 11 Fulton Board of Education meeting. This academic year, 123 of the county’s 704 CTE students come from the Fulton district.

Berlin, who previously taught business at Mexico High School, said CTE is introducing a STEM academy, two business education programs and “Career Connections,” an effort aimed at disengaged 10th graders.

Career Connections is a half-day exploratory career program that lets 10th graders who are in danger of dropping out of high school experience the various programs CTE has to offer. Berlin said the program’s goal is to “try to hook them into learning” and “bring back that joy of learning.” Although enrollment numbers are not yet final, Berlin said she expects up to 40 students to participate.

Next year, CTE will also eliminate the Floral Design and Greenhouse Technology programs.

“It really was not self-sustaining and not supported by local labor markets,” Berlin told the Fulton school board.

Berlin told The Valley News that current 11th-graders in those programs can continue in different CTE programs next year. She said one student who is interested in opening a floral shop one day may take the new business program, and another botany-minded student may continue in the new STEM academy.

The STEM academy will use scientific inquiry to solve real world problems. Berlin said BOCES has acquired 3-D printers for use in the digital media, STEM and motor sports fabrication programs. Students are using the 3-D printers to design and create objects. She said one of BOCES’ non-3-D printers has a broken component that is no longer made by the printer’s manufacturer.

“Our students are working with CAD and 3-D printers to design … and replicate that part,” Berlin said.

She said BOCES is also looking into buying a 3-D printer that uses chocolate and hard candy for the culinary arts students to create their own confections.

“The kids here think out of the box,” Berlin said. She recalled one student who suggested that BOCES build a mini-fire station for CTE public safety students to practice. “It says a lot about the innovative and creative thinking that kids are inspired to do while they’re here.”

CTE’s programs align with New York state’s new Common Core Learning Standards, which have an emphasis on hands-on, project-based learning and real-world application.

“That’s how they learn, that’s what excites them, and that’s what keeps them in school so they graduate,” Berlin said.

Students in CTE programs are held to industry standards and participate in internships with local companies.

“The success of our internship placement really depends on community support,” Berlin said. “We have excellent rapport (and we’re) making sure our students are knowledgeable, prepared and appropriate for those placements.”

CTE works with Oswego County and the state Department of Labor to keep a finger on the pulse of the county’s job market and place students in fields in which they can find jobs upon graduation.

“It’s not just about placing students just to place them somewhere,” Berlin said. “We truly want to help them move forward in their career path.”

Recently, Oswego’s CTE students won 32 awards in the regional SkillsUSA competition at Morrisville State College. Oswego took the top three spots in collision repair. Many students will go on to the state conference in April at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse.

Despite the whirlwind five months of hard work her new position has brought, Berlin said it has been rewarding.

“It’s all about the kids, watching them learn and their experiences the instructors give them,” she said. “Whenever I get bogged down with paperwork, I walk through the programs. That just makes me smile. They’re looking at their future.”

Legislature OKs appeals lawyer; accepts snowmobile trail maintenance money

By Debra J. Groom

The Oswego County Legislature on Thursday approved hiring an outside lawyer to handle appeals.

District Attorney Gregory Oakes pitched this idea to the legislature during the December 2014 budget hearing. He said an assistant district attorney is his office was spending half of her work time on appeals instead of prosecuting county cases.

County officials have been trying to move cases through the court system quicker in hopes of alleviating overcrowding at the Oswego County jail.

Often, defendants in felony cases are held in jail waiting for their court dates when they can’t make bail, so Oakes and others came up with way to move people through the court system quicker.

The legislature hired Amy L. Hallenbeck, of Johnstown, at $2,600 per appeal. Oakes said during the past 10 years, the office has averaged 10 appeals a year.

Also Thursday, the legislature:

** Passed a resolution in support of allowing crossbow hunting in Oswego County.

** Approved spending $80,000 to replace turbine steam condenser tubes at the Energy Recovery Facility. The facility operates two steam turbine generators to produce electricity and the steam exiting the turbine is cooled by steam condenser that use river water as a cooling medium. The system has been in use for nearly 30 years and the tubes are wearing thin from normal wear and tear.

** Approved naming Dr. Michael S. Nupuf of Oswego to the Oswego County Board of Health. Nupuf is in private practice in internal medicine.

** Approved the transfer of $38,000 for the recruitment and retention of nurses for the Oswego County Health Department’s Certified Home Health Agency and Long Term Home Health Care Program.

** Appointed John FitzGibbons to another term on the Oswego County Board of Ethics. His term will run through Feb. 1, 2017.

** Authorized Chairman Kevin Gardner to enter into agreements in relation to the Snowmobile Trail Development and Maintenance Program and accept $218,365 for use in the 2012-14 snowmobile trail season. The money will be split between 10 county snowmobile clubs who maintain the hundreds of miles of trails in the county.

** Awarded a contract to Miller Consulting Services and Miller Engineers, of Manlius, for $35,020 for consulting work needed prior to the demolition of the old jail on Route 481 across from the current Oswego County Correctional Facility.

** Approved urging New York state to extend or make permanent Real Property Tax Law Section 485, which would allow municipalities to negotiate tax agreements with the owners of nuclear power plants.

** Approved urging New York state to review and amend the taxable status of spent nuclear fuel storage facilities.

‘Rigoletto — the Oswego Story’ comes to the stage Feb. 21 and 23

Oswego Opera Theatre’s reimagined “Rigoletto,” Feb. 21 and 23 at SUNY Oswego’s Waterman Theatre, shows the many ties of college and community, from plot to people.

“Rigoletto — The Oswego Story,” a rewrite of Verdi’s classic opera by SUNY Oswego adjunct instructor Mack Richardson of the music department, will take the Tyler Hall stage at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 23.

“I was inspired by two things,” said Richardson, artistic director and conductor of Oswego Opera Theatre since 2008.

“First, I was interested in how the Metropolitan Opera reset ‘Rigoletto’ in Las Vegas in the 1960s. I like how it worked — they updated it quite reasonably. Of course, it takes on timeless ideas,” he said.

“And I wanted to try an audience-building marketing idea. Apparently, it has worked because it’s gotten a lot of attention,” he said.

Rather than the original Mantua, Italy, Richardson sets his adaptation of Giuseppe Verdi’s 1851 opera “Rigoletto” in 1920s Oswego, where workarounds to Prohibition are in full bloom and the womanizing Duke of Mantua becomes Duke, the womanizing and personally and politically connected owner of a speakeasy.

In this reimagining, Duke pretends to be a SUNY Oswego college student to woo love interests on campus.

‘Great fun’

While Duke (Jonathan Howell) headlines at his own club, Verdi’s tragic court jester becomes, in the adaptation, Rigoletto the Don Rickles-like comic (Jimi James), hated by everyone for his vicious insult-jokes.

While sung in Italian, the opera will offer a projected image of Richardson’s translation of the lyrics to English. The orchestra features members of Syracuse’s Symphoria.

Richardson said stage director Fred Willard and the cast have embraced the remake of “Rigoletto,” which began life in the mid-19th century as an initially censored and then wildly popular opera.

“Fred very willingly agreed to take on the idea and is having great fun with it,” said Richardson, who is teaching “Introduction to the Worlds of Music” and “The Business of Music” at the college this semester.

Richardson said he came up with the idea for the “Rigoletto” adaptation about a year ago, but has been familiar with the opera since high school.

With bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and master’s in orchestral conducting and arts administration from the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, he has led productions of Mozart’s “The Impresario,” Gilbert and Sullivan’s “HMS Pinafore,” Lerner and Loewe’s “My Fair Lady,” Bizet’s “Carmen,” and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music” and “Carousel,” among others.

As with many community productions, town and gown members work together in the cast and crew.

Jonathan Powers, a recent SUNY Oswego graduate, will sing the part of Ceprano, one of the men loyal to Duke. Oswego graduate Dan Williams will serve as chorus director.

Suzayn MacKenzie-Roy, an alumna who is facilities manager for Waterman Theatre, will deploy the crew for “Rigoletto — The Oswego Story,” Richardson said.

Other key roles include Gilda (Tatiana Poletskaya) and Maddalena (Danan Tsan).

Tickets for “Rigoletto — The Oswego Story” are $25 ($20 for educators and for seniors over 60; $5 for students) and are available at all SUNY Oswego box offices, online at tickets.oswego.edu or by calling 312-2141.

Parking for these performances is included in the ticket price, and is available in the lot in front of Culkin Hall, the rear half of the lot behind Hart and Funnelle halls or in the adjacent commuter lot.

Patrons with disabilities should call 312-2141 for assistance in advance of the performances.

Flood watch in effect through Saturday

The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for late Thursday through late Friday for Oswego County.

Meteorologists say the significant warm up with rain expected Thursday through Friday should result in greatly increased runoff and rising 
waterways. Runoff from rain falling on frozen ground may cause flooding of streets and in areas of poor drainage.

They said plenty of ice also is still in place in creeks so there will be an enhanced risk for ice jams and subsequent flooding. 


2 teens charged in Byrne Dairy robbery

Two Hastings teens have been charged with robbery in connection with a theft at the Byrne Dairy on Route 11 in the town of Hastings on Sunday (today).

Oswego County Sheriff’s deputies and state troopers responded to a robbery at the store and revealed a strong-armed robbery had just been committed by two suspects who fled the scene on foot.

Officers followed footprints in the snow to 166 Roxbury Estates.  Both suspects were arrested and property stolen from the store was recovered.

Those arrested are, Frank J. Burt, 17, and Jeremy L. Champney, 17.

Each is charged with one count of robbery in the 1st degree, a felony,  one count of robbery in the second degree, a  felony, one count of conspiracy in the 4th degree, a felony and Jeremy was charged with an additional count of resisting arrest.

Both men will be arraigned in town court.

Oswego County organizations receive CNY Arts Decentralization Awards

A number of Oswego County organizations are receiving 2014 CNY Arts Decentralization Awards.

The awards are given through the New York State Council on the Arts to to help localities support their own funding for arts events and programs.

Community Arts Grants partially fund community-based arts projects featuring dance, theater, film, music, and folk, literary, digital and visual arts.

Those receiving awards are:

Art Association of Oswego Inc., $1,700, Outreach Program

ARTSwego (through the Oswego College Foundation), $2,100, The Acting Coming: Coming to a Theater in Your Community

Cleveland Historical Society, $2,400, Children’s Glassworks Theatre

The Children’s Museum of Oswego, $710, Bash the Trash Environmental Arts Concert

Cooperative Extension of Oswego County, $1,400, Nature Inspires

Fulton Community Theatre, $1,900, for 2014 season

Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce, $2,300, 014 Fulton Jazz Festival

H. Lee White Marine Museum, $2,700, War of 1812 — The Great Rope Play

Oswego Players Inc., $2,391, Gypsy

Pulaski Congregational Church, $2,200, Rhea LaVeck Memorial Concert Series

Salmon River Fine Arts Center, $2,460, Drawing Families into Art

Town of Schroeppel, $1,180, Music in the Park

Village of Lacona, $510, Lacona Music at the Market Concert Series

Village of Phoenix, $1,000, Friday Nights of Fun Concert Series