Category Archives: Featured Stories

SUNY Oswego receives largest single gift in its history — $7.5 million

SUNY Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley announced today (Jan. 17) that the college has received the largest single gift in its 153-year history: a $7.5 million gift from the estate of Oswego County resident Lorraine E. Marano, an education enthusiast.

The gift establishes the Nunzio “Nick” C. and Lorraine E. Marano Endowment, which will be used primarily to fund scholarships for students with financial need, especially those who are first-generation college students.

“Lorraine Marano’s profound understanding of the transformative powers of public higher education is affirmed by this extraordinarily generous gift,” said Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley. “Her gift will help put a college education within reach for many students, fulfilling their hopes and dreams and investing in a better future for all of us, as our graduates forge productive lives in their communities. We are deeply honored by her confidence in establishing the Marano family legacy at SUNY Oswego. It will live on for generations.”

 Lorraine Marano openly discussed her admiration for SUNY Oswego and believed the college was worthy of a gift of such magnitude because of the benefits it accords to students through academic programming, committed faculty and staff, and strong, imaginative leadership.

“A highly educated woman, Lorraine believed in the value of education and considered this a gift to the entire community,” noted Theresa A. Sugar Scanlon, a close friend of Lorraine. “Her confidence in President Stanley’s leadership and the extraordinary opportunities that the college provided to its students were instrumental to her decision. She hoped to help keep a college education affordable for all students, especially those who are the first in their families to attend college.”

 

One Oswego County school district on state comptroller’s fiscal distress list

The Oswego City School District is the only one in Oswego County on the list of fiscally distressed districts issued today by the state Comptroller’s office.

According to a news release from the Comptroller’s office, the fiscal stress scores are based on financial information submitted as part of each district’s ST-3 report filed with the state Education Department as of Dec. 13, 2013.

Today’s announcement does not include scores for the dependent school districts in the “Big Four”cities of Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers. Information for these districts will be incorporated into the scoring for their respective cities and reported later this year.

DiNapoli said 587 districts have been classified as “no designation.”One school district continues to have its information vetted and is classified as “data inconclusive,”and one school district has yet to submit necessary financial information to the Comptroller’s office and is designated as “have not filed.”

Ranked as “no designation” districts are Altmar-Parish-Williamstown, Central Square, Fulton, Hannibal, Mexico, Phoenix, Pulaski and andy Creek. Oswego was listed as “Susceptible to Fiscal Stress.”

According to a report issued today with the fiscal stress scores, school districts found to be in fiscal stress share a number of common characteristics. Most are operating with low fund balance, operating deficits and limited cash on hand. These districts were also found to have a much higher likelihood of using short-term borrowing to bridge cash flow gaps.

Fiscally stressed school districts also share a number of environmental themes, according to DiNapoli’s report. Although many factors are outside a district’s control, they can drive additional costs or hurt the district’s ability to raise revenues. For example, fiscally stressed school districts were more likely to experience declining property values, high poverty rates and low school budget support.

The report also found:

  • High-need urban/suburban school districts were three times more likely to be considered in fiscal stress compared to low-need districts;
  • The percentage of school districts in fiscal stress exceeded 30 percent in six counties –Chemung, Clinton, Madison, Montgomery, Niagara and Tioga;
  • Upstate school districts were more likely to be in some level of stress compared to downstate districts; and
  • Regions with the highest percentage of stressed school districts were Central New York (22.9 percent of districts); North Country (16.9 percent) and Western New York (13.9 percent).

Oswego County Health Department warns Sandy Pond residents about flooding

Sandy Creek – Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang advises residents and property owners near North and South Sandy Ponds to be aware of signs of flood damage to septic systems, wells, and homes.

General information on what to do during and following a severe weather event or power outage, and how to prepare for severe weather events and power outages, is contained in the NYS Department of Health’s publication “Don’t Be Left in the Dark.” The booklet is available at the Sandy Creek Town Hall, and online at http://www.health.ny.gov/publications/7064.pdf  and www.oswegocounty.com.Additional emergency response information is posted online at http://www.health.ny.gov/publications/2708.pdfhttp://www.health.ny.gov/publications/2752.pdf  and on the Oswego County web site at www.oswegocounty.com.

Huang said wells which have been covered with floodwater should be disinfected. Residents who need information about having their well water tested should contact the Oswego County Health Department, 70 Bunner St., Oswego, at 315-349-3557 or 1-800-596-3200, ext. 3557, weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. The health department offers a walk-in sampling program where homeowners can bring a sample of water in and have it tested for coliform. There is a $10 fee.

“If the area around your well gets flooded or if you suspect that your well is contaminated, you need to disinfect the water in the well before using it for drinking, cooking, hand washing or brushing your teeth,” said Huang.

Huang and Oswego County Emergency Management Director Dale Currier offer these flood safety tips:

During a flood:

-          Monitor NOAA Weather Radio and Emergency Alert System stations.

-          Disconnect electric appliances that can’t be moved. Do not touch them if you are wet or standing in water.

Travel with care:

-          Watch for washed out roads, broken water or sewer mains, loose or downed electrical wires, and fallen or falling objects.

-          Watch out for areas where rivers or streams may suddenly flood.

-          Do not attempt to drive over a flooded road or through standing water.

After a flood:

-          Before entering a building, check for structural damage. Turn off any outside gas lines at meter or tank. Let the building air out to remove foul odors or escaping gas.

-          Upon entering the building, use a battery powered flashlight. Do not use an open flame as a source of light. Gas may be trapped inside.

-          Watch for electrical shorts and live wires before making certain the main power switch is off. Do not turn on electrical appliances until an electrician has checked the system.

-          Throw out any medicine or food that has had contact with flood waters.

-          Test drinking water for potability. Wells that have been covered with floodwaters should be pumped out and water tested for drinking.

-          If the water system is declared unsafe by health officials, water for drinking and cooking should be boiled vigorously for one minute. In an emergency, water may be obtained from the hot water tank or by melting ice cubes.

-          Shovel out mud with special attention to cleaning heating and plumbing systems.

-          Flooded basements should be drained and cleaned as soon as possible. Structural damage can occur if drained too quickly. When surrounding waters have subsided, begin draining the basement in stages, about 1/3 of the water volume each day.

-          Do not handle electrical equipment in wet areas. It should be dried and checked before use.

-          Report broken utility lines to police, fire, or other appropriate authorities.

-          If floodwaters cause an oil spill or any type of petroleum release in or near your home, contact the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation spill hotline immediately at 1-800-457-7362 to report the spill.  If oil is mixed with water that has flooded your home, do not pump the oil water out into your yard. Contact the DEC spill hotline to request assistance.

Town and county officials continue to monitor the situation closely. Highway Superintendent Michael Kastler said roads in the area, especially ones that have had water over them, are being watched carefully.

Town residents with questions or needing assistance other than life-threatening situations may email the town supervisor atscsupervisor@frontiernet.net, or call the town hall at 315/387-5456, ext. 5 during business hours. For updates, people can go to the town’s web page atwww.sandycreekny.us.

In an emergency, call 9-1-1.

Flood waters recede in Sandy Creek area

Flood waters in the Town of Sandy Creek west of Route 3 along the shoreline of Lake Ontario are beginning to recede today, town officials reported, but people in the area should continue to use caution and follow flood safety tips.

The water has receded about 8 inches overnight following flooding that occurred along North Pond in the Town of Sandy Creek. While the water is continuing to recede, town officials stressed, the levels are still not back below normal and changes in weather conditions could cause them to rise again.

Town Supervisor Nancy Ridgeway, Town Highway Superintendent Mike Kastler, and County Legislator Margaret Kastler (1st District), along with Oswego County Emergency Management Office Director Dale A. Currier continue to monitor the situation closely. Highway Superintendent Kastler said roads in the area, especially ones that have had water over them, are being watched carefully.

“People should continue be very aware of their surroundings,” Town Supervisor Ridgeway said. Residents and property owners west of Route 3 in the town should continue to check their residences and ensure their propane and other gas tanks are secured. If necessary, they should turn off electrical power.

People who have a life-threatening situation should call 911.

“We also have a concern for ice fishermen on Sandy Pond,” Highway Superintendent Kastler said. “We urge them to use extreme caution and to check the New York State Department of Conservation web site (http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7733.html)  for recommended guidelines on ice thickness.”

Highway Superintendent Kastler reminded travelers not to drive over flooded roadways.

Town officials have lined up a source of bottled water in the event it’s necessary, Town Supervisor Ridgeway said.  “We’re fortunate to have the assistance of the Salvation Army in our town,” she said.

Town residents with questions or needing assistance other than life-threatening situations may email the town supervisor at scsupervisor@frontiernet.net, or call the town hall at 315/387-5456 during business hours. For updates, people can go to the town’s web page at www.sandycreekny.us.

The governor’s declaration of a State of Emergency for heavy lake effect snow on the Tug Hill last week includes Oswego County and is still in effect, Currier said. County Emergency Management and town officials are working to secure state resources to aid the flooding situation in the town.

 

 

Sign up for young boater safety course

The US Coast Guard Auxiliary and New York Sea Grant will offer the Young Boater Safety Certificate Training at the Central New York Boat Show Feb. 12-16, at the state Fairgrounds in
Geddes.

The course is for age 10 to 17. Successful completion of the 8-hour course and  exam is required for youth to legally operate a motorized boat or watercraft alone on New York state waters.

Registration for limited space is now open for the two-part course that will be taught at the Central New York Boat Show from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13 and 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15 in the Horticulture Building Seminar Room.

Both sessions must be completed. Pre-registration is required with New York Sea Grant by phone at 312-3042.

Each youth registering for the course will receive three free admission passes into the 2014 show that is New York’s largest and oldest boat show.

The Central New York Boat Show fills three buildings with more than 500 boats, including the 2014 New York Sea Grant Discover Clean & Safe Boating vessels, plus water recreation equipment; marine accessories; boating, fishing and Adirondack guides; charter captains, water recreation industry leaders and waterfront destinations with exhibits, information and mini-seminar exhibits.

The show’s Boating Information Center is expanding in 2014 to include the New York Sea Grant Launch Steward voluntary watercraft inspection program along with boating, tourism, safety, invasive species and law enforcement exhibits by local, state and federal organizations.

Boat show hours are 1 to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $10/person, children 13 and younger enter free, with free parking and shuttles.

Fulton woman warns of scam

By Ashley M. Casey

Although it hasn’t deterred her from entering any more contests, Fulton resident Fanny Knapp wants to let community members know about a Publishers Clearing House-style scam she discovered last week.

Knapp, 85, has entered several of the real Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes a few times a year for the last two or three years, and has purchased a few of their magazines and other items, but she has never won anything.

Last Thursday evening, however, she received a call informing her that she had won a cash prize.

The caller, who claimed to be an employee for Publishers Clearing House, told Knapp to call (702) 516-5521 and ask for “Michael Best.” Knapp called twice, but the line was busy both times.

Finally, “Michael Best” called back and asked Knapp to send in a $50 gift card to claim her prize. She became suspicious.

“He asked me how far I live from Walmart, and I thought, ‘That’s a strange question,’ because Publishers Clearing House already knows where I live,” said Knapp.

She said she receives six to eight letters a month from Publishers Clearing House. In addition to sales offers, the letters include “sweepstakes facts” that outline the rules of the sweepstakes and how winners will be contacted.

“It says in the letter … the winners will be contacted by mail,” Knapp said.

She realized it was a scam and took note of the phone number. Knapp called The Post-Standard in Syracuse to share her story and was also interviewed by WSYR. She said she alerted the media so that “somebody else might not fall for it.”

Publishers Clearing House’s website has a page called “Fraud Protection” that explains how to spot a possible scam. It says winners of major prizes — that is, $1,000 or more — are only notified in person.

Winners of smaller prizes are contacted by mail. Publishers Clearing House does not call winners beforehand. The site also warns people not to send money to claim a prize, as Knapp was asked to do.

Despite her encounter with a scammer, Knapp said she still plans on entering for Publishers Clearing House’s sweepstakes prizes, though she won’t be spending money on the company any time soon.

“Earlier this month, you got a prize if you ordered something, so I ordered some shears,” she said. “I won’t order anything else this year.”

For more information on how to avoid a sweepstakes scam, visit info.pch.com/consumer-information/fraud-protection.

Got a summer event? Contact the county tourism office

The Oswego County Tourism Office is compiling information for its 2014 “Summer in Oswego County” brochure.

Events that take place between April and October will be posted on the county tourism Web site and listed in the calendar, which is widely distributed at travel and vacation shows, chambers of commerce, NYS Thruway information centers, businesses and other outlets.

“The brochure typically includes more than 200 events as well as information on fishing tournaments, farm markets, outdoor concerts, and other summer activities,” said David Turner, director of the Department of Community Development, Tourism and Planning.

Organizations and businesses have until Wednesday, Feb. 19 to submit information.

People can fill out a form online and submit it directly to the Tourism Office at http://visitoswegocounty.com/more-to-see-do/calendar/events-in-oswego-county-entry-form/.

Forms have been sent to those who have submitted information in the past.

For more information, contact the Oswego County Tourism Office weekdays at 349-8322 or (800) 596-3200, ext. 8322, or e-mail fobrien@oswegocounty.com.

Is pet insurance worth the cost? Porky and Buddy answer the question

Dear Porky and Buddy,

I am about to adopt my very first pet, a yellow lab named Shirley, and I am so excited, but a friend asked me if I was going to get pet insurance for her and I acted like I knew what she was talking about, but really I had no idea.

Is pet insurance a good idea? And if so, how do you go about choosing a plan?  Do you have any suggestions?

Barb

Dear Barb,

First of all, thank you for adopting Shirley — we suspect she is excited too!

We can’t make specific recommendations about pet insurance because there are so many plans with so many different considerations that it would be impossible.

Start out though by talking to your vet to ask if there are any plans they would or would not recommend. Although vets generally don’t deal with the insurance companies directly — you pay upfront and then get reimbursed — they probably hear from their clients about their experiences.

Should you get the insurance?  We think it is often a good idea, as veterinary costs continue to rise, primarily because there is so much more that veterinarians can do now to protect the  health of our pets.

If you have a good plan, that is one less thing to have to  worry about. But you need to do your research.

Here are some basic considerations:

** The insurance provider should clearly spell out to you the details of coverage for routine and/or wellness care as well as emergency treatments and conditions that require extensive care.

Find out whether and how your premiums will be increased as your pet ages or if you make any claims.

** Find out how the plan defines and handles pre-existing conditions (diseases or conditions your pet already has – or has had) prior to purchasing the plan.

In some cases, insurance providers will not insure a specific pet or breed of pet, or may limit the number of pets you can insure, if they consider them “high risk.”  You need to know about those limitations, especially based on what you know about Shirley’s health history.

** All of the charges, including co-pays, deductibles, add-on charges and other fees, should be clearly explained to you so you fully understand the policy and its limitations.

** Ask the insurance provider how claims are processed as well as the time frame for reimbursement of your expenses so you know what to expect.

If you feel that you are not getting clear answers to your questions try another plan. There are too many of them out there — you can find them with a simple Google search–to settle for one that does not answer questions clearly.

We hope that you have many happy healthy years with Shirley, but if she does need veterinary care, we also hope that you are able to find a good solution for providing it.

The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County. Our office is at 265 W. First St., Oswego. Phone is 207-1070. Email: ochscontact@hotmail.com Website: www.oswegohumane.org