Category Archives: Featured Stories

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


February is Black History Month

It is Black History Month, so The Valley News thought it would be good to share some stories of African-American history right here in Oswego County.

Here are a few vignettes:

‘Harlem Hellfighters’ at Fort Ontario.

The Harlem Hellfighters were an all-black military infantry unit during World War I, a group that received high recognition for its heroism and fighting ability.

By the time World War II rolled around, the group from Harlem in New York City now was called the 369th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment. And before shipping out to take on the Japanese in the Pacific, these 1,800 black soldiers did their training at Fort Ontario.

Sure, fighting the Germans would be rough. But the soldiers also got a taste of rough when they arrived in Oswego for training in January 1941. One soldier said he remembers getting off the train in Oswego and they immediately lost a soldier in a mound of snow.

Even though the United States was not yet in the war, training of troops was taking place as President Franklin D. Roosevelt prepared for the worse. The men with the 369th spent eight months at Fort Ontario, practicing anti-artillery drills at the Johnson Farm, an abandoned area east of the fort, where nine Mile Point One is now located.

A history student at SUNY Oswego wrote in 1972 that the men of the 369th often went into Oswego or Syracuse when they were off duty. They would hang out at the Dunbar Social Center in Syracuse and play basketball. They would shop in Oswego and eat at local restaurants.

Adding nearly 1,800 black soldiers to the population changed the demographic makeup of Oswego. In a county of more than 71,000 residents, 55 were black before the soldiers arrived, according to the U.S. Census in 1940. By contrast, Harlem — where most of the men were from — had an 89 percent black population, the 1940 Census shows.

“Outside of Harlem, the issue of race became more immediate for the 369th,” a 1993 article in the Journal of Social History says. “Oswego was, in the words of one member of the 369th, ‘lily white.’

The most famous of the 369th soldiers at Fort Ontario was Lt. John Woodruff, also known as “Long John” Woodruff. He had won the gold medal in the 800 meters at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.

The 369th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment was at Fort Ontario from Jan. 15 through September, when they shipped out to Massachusetts and then to Hawaii.

During World War II, they engaged in defensive and tactical operations on new Georgia Island, Emirau, Los Negros Island, Admiralty Island, Biak Island, Sansapor New Guinea, Middleburg Island and Morotai Island, all in the Papua New Guinea area of southeast Asia.

Starr Clark Tin Shop

Starr Clark had a business in Mexico in the 1850s – a tin shop making stove pipes and other pieces of tin wear.

But in addition to the tin work, Clark and his family also used their house to shelter runaway slaves as they made their way north to freedom in Canada.

The tin shop building, on Main Street (Route 104), still exists and has since been renovated into a museum to mark Mexico’s importance along the Underground Railroad.

Judith Wellman, a professor emerita at the State University College at Oswego and expert on U.S. African-American history, researched the building’s role in the Underground Railroad. Her work produced enough evidence to have the tin shop named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001. She said it is one of the best documented Underground Railroad sites.

Oswego Public Library

Gerrit Smith, the famous abolitionist who lived in Peterboro, Madison County, provided the money for construction of  the Oswego Public Library.

But he had two conditions to providing the money. One was that the library must be on the east side of the Oswego River. And the second is that the library should be open to everyone, regardless of his or her race or complexion.

According to the library’s history on its website, the library has had “African-American patrons including prominent members of the Underground Railroad and the local community.” Records kept on who was borrowing books from the library show that many African-American families used the library during its first years, the history states.

Grant – dentist, patented golf tee 

The Tudor E. Grant family was a well-known African-American family in Oswego. Tudor Grant’s son, George Franklin, who was born in Oswego, made a name for himself in later life, becoming the second African American to graduate from Harvard’s dental college. He later became a faculty member of his alma mater and was a leader in the treatment of cleft palates.

But he also is renowned in the sports world. He received the first patent for the wooden golf tee.

Bristol Hill Church, Volney

This church on Route 3 had many white and African-American members dating to the early and mid-1800s. The church was built in the 1830s and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Case House in Fulton

The Case House on South First Street in Fulton was well known for the Underground Railroad activity that took place there. It is at the site where the old Elks Lodge was located.

Interracial Couple in Fulton

In a book titled “the American Prejudice Against Color,” William Allen, a college professor who says he was one-quarter African American, tells the story of how he fell in love with a white girl in Fulton, became engaged to marry her and the prejudice they encountered due to their engagement.

In fact, an angry mob of Fulton-area residents who did not want this marriage to take place went after Allen.

“Tar, feathers, poles, and an empty barrel spiked with shingle nails had been prepared for my especial benefit; and, so far as I was concerned, it must be escape or death,” Allen wrote in his book.

He wrote that a mob of 400 to 500 people came looking for him after they learned of his engagement to Miss King. He wrote “Reader, the life of a colored man in America, save as a slave, is regarded as far less sacred than that of a dog. There is no exaggeration in this statement—I am not writing of exceptions.”

Allen and King were eventually married in New York City and then left for Europe.

There are many other stories about African Americans in Oswego County at . The county had its own Anti-Slavery Society and was known as a hotbed of abolitionist action.

Springside resident takes special interest in NY Yankees

There isn’t anyone looking forward to the opening day of the New York Yankee’s 2014 season more than Springside’s Mille McCann.

When the snow finally melts this spring and baseball becomes the nation’s pastime once again, she will be watching her grandson, catcher Brian McCann, who recently signed a multi-million dollar contract with baseball’s most famous team.

Brian McCann had previously played for the Atlanta Braves for eight years. His catching skills have earned him five silver slugger awards and all-star honors for seven years, with one of those years having the added designation as All Star Most Valuable Player.

As Millie waits for winter to blossom into spring and her grandson to take his position behind home plate, she certainly won’t need to brush up on her baseball knowledge.

Millie, who is a youthful 89, is known at Springside as ‘Baseball Grandmother.” She rarely misses one of Brian’s games and most nights can be found in front of her television watching a game through a major league baseball package on cable television.

She began following baseball when Brian’s father, Howie, who grew up in Oswego, took the sport up as a young boy.

“I think it was baseball that kept me young,” Millie said. “I drove all over to attend games.”

Howie would go on to both play and coach college baseball. Today, he operates the Windward Baseball Academy, in Georgia, which assists players develop their skills.

In fact, Howie and his wife, Sherry (Brown), were both inducted into the Oswego High School Hall of Fame in 2013.

It was just a natural fit that Brian and his brother, Brad, who now works at Windward, became involved in baseball.

In 2013, when Brian’s contract was up, Millie said, it was an opportunity for him to explore some options.

“The Yankees brought him to New York, where they wined and dined him,” Millie said. “I agree with his decision, it was time to move on. The time was right for another challenge.”

Millie says her grandson is kind hearted and that she is most proud of his baseball accomplishments.

Later this year, Millie hopes to trade in her Springside chair in front of her television for a real seat at a Yankee’s game. She’s never seen her grandson play professionally and with the Bronx within driving distance (as Millie doesn’t fly), it’s a possibility.

Millie said her daughter, Sue Fox and husband, Dick, are seeing what arrangements can be made.

One thing is for sure, the residents of Springside are sure to be supporting the Yankees this year.

Springside at Seneca Hill is a retirement community for active seniors age 62 and older, located between Oswego and Fulton. Springside is an affiliate of Oswego Health.

To learn more about Springside, call 343-5658 or visit

SUNY Oswego’s Tyler Hall to get a facelift

Submitted by SUNY Oswego

SUNY Oswego’s Tyler Hall will undergo a $22.2 million rejuvenation starting this summer, welcoming campus and community about a year and a half later to a more approachable, flexible and high-tech home for the performing and fine arts.

Work will include a fully accessible Waterman Theatre with modern seating, lighting, sound and multimedia; a two-story music rehearsal hall doubling as a new venue for small performances and facade improvements that include two inviting new entrances at the building’s eastern corners  leading to a spacious and welcoming lobby.

There also will be an expanded box office, new elevator, larger and more flexible Tyler Art Gallery; a digital media lab and a recording studio; and a host of environmentally friendly improvements to the building’s heating, ventilation, air conditioning and other systems, from lower level to roof.

That comprises Phase 1 of a three-phase master plan to revitalize the 46-year-old Tyler Hall and nearby Hewitt Union as an arts district and long-planned home of the college’s School of Communication, Media and the Arts.

“There’s still a lot to do in Tyler,” said Fritz Messere, dean of the School of Communication, Media and the Arts and a key liaison articulating arts needs and ideas to Pfeiffer Partners Architects and their engineering, acoustics and other consultants.

“But this first phase really sets the stage by completely renovating the mechanicals, by reconfiguring the entrances and lobby area giving students and the public a place to congregate, and it gives music students a place to rehearse and perform, and students in art, art history and museum studies a better place to study and display their works,” Messere said.

Bette & Cring, a Latham contractor with an office in Watertown, was the apparent low bidder Feb. 5 to bring to life the SUNY Construction Fund-financed project.

The company has done higher education construction projects at University at Albany, Albany College of Pharmacy, SUNY Adirondack, SUNYIT and Hudson Valley Community College, among others.

 Alternative venues

During the renovation period for the 81,500-square-foot Tyler Hall, the SUNY Oswego art, music and theatre departments and the Artswego Performing Arts Series will offer exhibitions and performances in alternate campus and community locations — using the temporary dislocation as an opportunity to explore new ways of engaging audiences.

“We like the motto adopted by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art as they face a similar situation,” said Associate Dean Julie Pretzat. “Closed for construction, but more open than ever!”

Artswego Director John Shaffer also expressed excitement about possibilities that have arisen during the search for alternate venues.

For example, he said, negotiations are in progress with a Brooklyn-based dance company for the creation of a site-specific performance at a city park or historical site.

“The temporary loss of Waterman Theatre and Tyler Art Gallery can be a time of festive exploration for the campus and community with surprises and lasting benefits for both,” Shaffer said.

Messere said classroom and lab theater modernization and many other improvements in Tyler would need to await Phase 2 funding. The money for phases 2 and 3 of the project remain to be allocated in the state’s capital plan.

“My goal is to move all of communication studies and graphic design into a new, reimagined Hewitt Union, and to have an arts precinct or an arts district that combines visual communication, multimedia communication and the fine arts together in one place,” Messere said.

Road to renewal

Tom LaMere, the college’s director of planning and design, said he’s hopeful Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s capital plan could accommodate the remaining work on Tyler and Hewitt a couple of years from now.

In the meantime, he said at any given point in time during Tyler’s Phase 1 renovation there could be up to 60 workers employed in various trades.

Messere expressed particular excitement about the music rehearsal hall, something the college has never before had.

“The rehearsal hall has been designed in a very striking manner, so it’s going to look very interesting as well,” he said.

“It’s really going be to a kind of showplace in some ways, and I think that’s going to encourage students who want to study music to come to Oswego,” he said.


Fulton wrestlers compete today to go to New York State Tourney

By Dan Farfaglia

All wrestlers in Section 3 today (Saturday, Feb. 15) are competing at Onondaga Community College for the right to represent their weight class at the New York State Tournament,  which will be held in Albany Feb. 28 and March 1.

In order to take part in today’s event, they had to place in the top five in their Class tournament.

Last Saturday at Indian River High School, the Fulton Red Raider wrestling team finished in first place in the Section 3 Class As.

Overall they accumulated 264.5 points and 16 of their wrestlers earned the right to participate in today’s state qualifiers.

Mitch Woodworth (120 pounds), Travis Race (160 pounds) and Jonathan Earl (132 pounds) finished the day as champions in their individual weight classes.

Joe Abelgore (106 pounds) and Collin Flynn (145 pounds) came in second place.

Finishing in third were Kevin Tucker (113 pounds), Tim Holden (138 pounds), Kyle Ware (also at 145 pounds), Aaron Yablonski (152 pounds), James Bailey (170 pounds), Noah Gates (182 pounds) and Matt Marshall (220 pounds).

Coming in fourth place were Nick Noel (99 pounds), Mitch LaBeef (126 pounds) and Malachi Manford (285 pounds).

Jacob Bailey (152 pounds) won the fith place prize.

Hannibal, Phoenix compete in track championships

By Rob Tetro

The Hannibal and Phoenix boys’ and girls’ varsity indoor track teams took part in The Class B, Section 3 Championships Feb. 6 at SRC Arena at Onondaga Community College.

Hannibal’s girls’ varsity indoor track team earned a fifth place overall finish. The Warriors boys’ varsity indoor track team finished in seventh place overall.

The Phoenix girl’s varsity indoor track team placed seventh overall while the boys’ from Phoenix came in with a fourth place overall finish.

Hannibal girls

In the Girls 55 Meter Dash, Hannibal’s Tayler Dence placed third at 7.69 seconds. Dence had another successful showing in the 300 Meter Dash, where she placed fourth at 45.67 seconds.

In the Girls 100 Meter Run, eighth-grader Reilly Harris finished second with a time of 3:24.5 while Kristen D’Angelo came in seventh at 3:29.56. Harris was also impressive in the Girls 1500 Meter Run where she placed eighth with a time of 5:20.42.

In the Girls 300 Meter Run, Michaela Sheldon placed sixth at 12:02.89.

Perhaps one of most memorable moments for Hannibal’s Tayler Dence was still yet to come. Her time of 9.75 seconds earned her The Class B, Section 3 Championship in the Girls 55 Meters Hurdles event.

Led by Paige LaFurney, Katherine Martinez, Rebekah Mills and Kasi Blanchard, the Lady Warriors earned an eighth place finish in the Girls 4 x 200 Relay with a time of 2:17.32.

In the Girls 4 x 400 Meter Relay, Kasi Blanchard, Paige LaFurney, Rebekah Mills and Michaela Sheldon led Hannibal to seventh place at 5:17.49.

Led by Reilly Harris, Kristen D’Angelo, Rebekah Mills and Michaela Sheldon, the Lady Warriors clinched fourth in the 4 x 800 Meter Relay at 11:12.60. Kristen D’Angelo placed fifth with a distance of 14-08.75 in the Girls Long Jump.

Phoenix girls

The Phoenix girls’ varsity indoor track team had its fair share of success as well.

In the Girls 600 Meter Run, Haylie Virginia finished fourth at 1:48.73. Destiny Teel placed 12th with a time of 10.59 seconds the Girls 55 Meter Hurdles.

Led by Brandi Ashley, Destiny Maybe, Amanda Deryke and Alexis Gabrielle, the Lady Firebirds placed seventh in the Girls 4 x 2000 Meter Relay with a time of 2:15.50. In the Girls 4 x 800 Meter Relay, Meghan Lantz, Brianna Ball, Emma Brunell and Emilie Schneider led Phoenix to eighth with a time of 12:58.01.

In the Girls High Jump, Haylie Virginia placed fifth with a distance of 4-08.00. Destiny Teel placed second in the Girls Pole Vault at 8-06.00.

It seems Haylie Virginia saved her best for last. With a distance of 16-04.00, Virginia earned the Sectional Championship in The Girls Long Jump Event.

Hannibal boys

It was another stellar effort by the Hannibal boys’ varsity indoor track team.

In the Boys 600 Meter Run, Ben Slate placed seventh at 1:34.73. Slate later won the Sectional Championship in the Boys 1000 Meters with a time of 2:44.12.

In the Boys 1600 Meter Run, Jason McFarland finished sixth at 5:12.07. McFarland was also solid in the Boys 3200 Meter Run, finishing third at 10:29.36.

In the Boys 55 Meter Hurdles Event, Sean Lange earned ninth place with a time of 9.86 seconds. Led by Ben Raymond, Jared Mason, Austin Cooper and John Motell, the Warriors took fifth in the Boys 4 x 200 Meter Relay with a time of 1:46.70.

In The 4 x 400 Meter Relay, Ben Raymond, Blake Farnham, Austin Cooper and Sean Lange led Hannibal to seventh place at 4:04.93. The Warriors capped off the event by taking third in the Boys 4 x 800 Meter Relay, with Austin Baker, Jason Mc Farland, John Motell and Ben Slate posting a time of 9:14.94.

Phoenix boys

It was also a very impressive day for The Phoenix boys indoor track team.

In the Boys 600 Meter Run, Mike Leach placed fifth at 1:33.55. Following Leach was Anthony Brienza who finished eighth at 1:36.76.

With a time of 3:00.96, Eric Hillpot came in fifth in the Boys 1000 Meter Run.

In the Boys 3200 Meter Run, Mike Girard placed sixth at 11:30.91. Dylan Switzer placed sixth in the Boys 55 Meter Hurdles with a time of 9.41 seconds.

The team of Mike Leach, Anthony Brienza, Sean Madden and Dylan Switzer took third in the Boys 4 x 400 Meter Relay with a time of 3:44.60. The Firebirds were also stellar in the Boys 4 x 600 Meter Relay with Mike Leach, Eric Leach, Mike Girard and Anthony Brienza placing second in a time of 9:14.86.

Eric Hillpot won the Sectional Champions in the Boys High Jump with jump of  5-08.00. In the pole vault, Andy Padula came in second with a height of 12-00.00.

The Firebirds also had a decent showing in the Boys Long Jump, with Andy Padula in second with a distance of 18-11.00. Teammate Sean Madden came in fourth with a jump of 18-06.00 and Dylan Switzer placed eighth with a distance of 17-08.50.

The day concluded with another Sectional Championship for a Phoenix athlete, as Andy Padula won the Sectional Championship in the Boys Triple Jump with a distance of 41-02.50.

Hannibal girls’ hoops close season strongly

By Rob Tetro

The Hannibal girls’ varsity basketball team won 3 out of its last 4 games of the regular season, finishing a 11-6 campaign.

On Feb. 1, Hannibal knocked off Solvay, 44-35. The Lady Warriors rolled past Jordan-Elbridge, 60-27 on Feb. 3.

On Feb. 7, Hannibal fell to county rival, Altmar-Parish-Williamstown, 50-38. The wrapped up  the year with a win over Cazenovia, 46-41 on Feb. 11.

Hannibal and Solvay were tied at 9 after the first quarter of their game. Solvay pulled ahead in the second and took a 4-point lead at the half.

The Lady Warriors then took control of the game in the third quarter, outscoring  Solvay by 15 points to take an 11-point lead. Solvay couldn’t overtake the lead Hannibal had put on the board so the Lady Warriors won by 9 points.

Leading the way for the Lady Warriors was Devin Sorell with 20 points, followed by Spencer Kenney with 9, Sydney Alton with 7, McKenzie Mattison with 5 and Rachel Shute with 3.

The Lady Warriors pounded Jordan-Elbridge Feb. 3, with Devin Sorell scoring 22 points. Gabby Griffin scored 13, followed by McKenzie Mattison with 11 and Sarah Otis with 6.

A-P-W was trailing Hannibal after the first quarter of its game and then Hannibal doubled its lead for a score of 22-16 at the half.

But then, A-P-W began pouring it on, outscoring he Lady Warriors by 8 points in the third quarter and 10 points in the fourth quarter for the 50-38 win.

Leading the way for A-P-W were Devin Jones and Kylee Bartlett, who scored 11 points each against Hannibal. Following Jones and Bartlett was Katie Palmer with 9, Alexis Stevens with 8 and Erin Stever with 7.

Hannibal was led by Devin Sorell with 17 points, followed by Sydney Alton, Spencer Kenney and McKenzie Mattison with 5 points each. Gabby Griffin added 4 points.

Hannibal stormed past Cazenovia in the season finale, but the two teams were tied at 13 after the first quarter.

Caz pulled ahead during the second quarter, outscoring the Lady Warriors by 2 points to take a 24-22 lead into halftime.

Hannibal took care of business during the second half, outscoring Caz by 4 points in the third quarter and 3 points in the fourth quarter to win 46-41.

Leading the way for Hannibal was Devin Sorell with 24 points, followed by Spencer Kenney with 9, McKenzie Mattison with 6, Sydney Alton with 3 and Gabby Griffin added 3.