Category Archives: Featured Stories

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

Oswego Music Hall hosts two singer-songwriters Jan. 25

The Oswego Music Hall is pleased to bring two New York City-based singer/songwriters to its stage at 8 p.m. Saturday Jan. 25.

Honor Finnegan has been called the “Susan Boyle of quirky indie folk, only hotter,” and compared to Christine Lavine.

Anna Dagmar stepped into folk music after a critically acclaimed songwriting career weaving together colorful jazz harmonies, inviting pop melodies and refined classical piano textures.

Sharing the stage, they will create a wonderful and lively show that will surprise and stretch the folk music tag at times.

Finnegan and Dagmar come from very different musical backgrounds, but they both know how to write and sing about modern life.

Dagmar — British born, raised in Massachusetts, schooled at the Eastman School of Music — is influenced by classical composers, Joni Mitchell’s mystical poetry and the breathtaking piano improvisations of Keith Jarrett and Bill Evans.

Finnegan was raised in South Side Chicago and plugged into her mom’s radio station and was cast in the first national tour of Annie at age 11. She is influenced by her study of Improv in Chicago and years spent in Ireland singing in all sorts of bands: jazz, blues, big bands and Irish traditional.

Here’s how John Platt, host of “Sunday Breakfast,” WFUV, NYC describes both of these artists:

“In a world over-populated with guitar-playing folksingers, Dagmar is pursuing a different path – writing piano-based songs that evoke the best of Judy Collins or the musical theater.”

“Honor Finnegan’s clever songs, powerful voice, and endearing stage presence have made her standout on the fertile NYC folk scene. Don’t miss her!”

Anna Dagmar is praised for her “gorgeous voice, lyrical piano stylings and lovely, intelligent songs.” She has released three albums and a printed songbook.

Her 2009 album, ‘Let the Waves Come in Threes,’ charted #6 on the National Roots Music Report, and received five awards in the 2010 Mid-Atlantic Songwriting Contest.

Inspired by standout artists like Susan Werner, Jonathan Brook and Sufjan Stevens, Dagmar’s music carries a depth and variety that appeal to a wide audience. With a warm and graceful stage presence and an honest and clear voice, her fingers seem to fly around the piano keys with effortless virtuosity.

Honor Finnegan’s songs are humorous and then heartbreaking, with melodies that soar. She’s been making a splash in the northeastern regional folk scene with her original songs and her ukulele playing, instrumentation that suits her fun, upbeat songs.

She combines elements of musical theatre, comedy, traditional folk, and poetry,.

She is also a proud member of Tribes Hill, a folk music collective based in the Hudson Valley and has been recognized with awards such as the Kerrville New Folk Winner 2013 and Falcon Ridge Emerging Artist 2012.

You can check out these artists’ music at their websites, http://annadagmar.com/ and http://www.honorfinnegan.com/.

The Oswego Music Hall is in the McCrobie Civic Center, 41 Lake St., Oswego. The atmosphere is intimate with candle-lit tables surrounding a small stage.

Desserts, snacks, popcorn and beverages are available for purchase. Tickets can be purchased online 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 $12 if purchased in advance and $14 at the door.   Children 12 and under are half-price; under 5 is free.

The Music Hall’s next concert Feb. 8 will bring back the popular father-son duo, Beaucoup Blue, double billed with Carolann Solebello, founding member of the female trio Red Molly.

New GOP legislator takes “a different step”

Richard Kline has always been a Republican.

He’s still a Republican today and was all the years he was a councilman on the Schroeppel town board.

But when he took his seat as an Oswego County legislator representing District 12 (parts of Schroeppel and Hastings), he decided to join what was formerly known as the Democratic caucus in the legislature — not the Republican caucus.

“I have taken a different step,” Kline, 63, said recently. “I am an independent thinker and I plan to do what I campaigned on – coming up with solutions for our problems.

The Independent Reform Caucus consists of the five Democratic legislators who were re-elected to two-year terms on the county legislature: Michael Kunzwiler, Amy Treissider and Jacob Mulcahey, all of Oswego, Douglas Malone of Oswego Town and Daniel Farfaglia of Fulton.

Joining them are Frank Castiglia, a Democrat from Fulton representing District 25; Marie Schadt, a Democrat from Oswego Town representing District 19 which covers parts of Minetto, Oswego Town, Hannibal and Granby; and Kline, a Republican from Schroeppel.

“There are some real progressive people in there – it’s not all the good old standbys affecting our government,” Kline said. “We all have to work together to come up with solid solutions to our problems. There has to be a different way of thinking. I’m not saying we’re all going to be right, but these people have a lot of great ideas.”

Kline said he has no issues or difficulties with the Republicans in the legislature. He said they are a smart group of people and he is willing to work with them on all the county’s issues.
But his main thrust is everyone working together all the time. He agrees with Kunzwiler’s approach to putting a budget together – Kunzwiler, the legislature’s minority leader, says legislators should begin the budget process Jan. 1 and work throughout the year looking at areas to cut where the county can save money.

“We have to figure out what can the people afford,” Kline said. “We are an elderly county and the last thing I would ever want is seeing someone forced out of their home because they can’t afford it.”

He also is worried about the county’s reserves, which have been used in past years to keep tax increases at about 0 percent.

Kline was not endorsed for the Republican line when he ran for legislator, so he ran a primary against incumbent Republican Legislator John Brandt. He lost by seven votes.

He won the Conservative primary against Brandt. The two squared off in the general election in November, with Kline coming out on top by one vote.

Kline also was endorsed by the Democrats in District 12.

“I am for bipartisanship,” he said. “I really didn’t run under a straight party line. I want to work with all people.”

As for his next election, in November 2015, he isn’t sure what the Republicans in Schroeppel and Hastings will think about him joining the Independent Reform Caucus. He said so far, he hasn’t heard any negatives from folks in the district.
“I guess we’ll have to see how that plays out,” he said.

 

2 school superintendents react to Cuomo’s State of the State

Two area school superintendents agree with initiatives Gov. Andrew Cuomo featured in his State of the State Address concerning education.

But they also mention one item Cuomo didn’t bring up in his speech – getting rid of the gap elimination adjustment.

Cuomo’s two primary initiatives for education in his speech were:

** A $2 billion fund to be set up (from borrowing) to help all school districts in the state take full advantage of the latest computer technology. Voters would have to approve this borrowing.
** Offering full-day pre-kindergarten classes for all students.

Fulton Superintendent William Lynch and Phoenix Superintendent Judith Belfield both said they agree pre-kindergarten is important for young students and keeping up with technology in schools is important.
But they are concerned about where the money is going to come from to pay for the pre-K idea and also wonder exactly for what they could spend the technology money.

The gap elimination adjustment was not mentioned by Cuomo in his speech, much to the dismay of Lynch and Belfield. This adjustment was put into place in the 2009-10 school year – the state held back some of the state aid allotted to each school district to help the state with its budget shortfalls.

Belfield said last year, Phoenix saw $2.1 million of its state aid held back by the state.

“With the Regents reforms and all the initiatives we’re in on now, this hurts,” she said. Phoenix is increasing its staff development and has begun more work at the high school to ensure students are college and career ready when they graduate.

“One thing I’d do if I had that $2.1 million is hire two more reading teachers,” she said. “I could fund all the programs I need and not have to raise taxes.”

Lynch said Fulton lost $1.5 million in the latest gap elimination adjustment.

“If I had $1.5 million, I could relax some of the tax pressure on our taxpayers,” he said. “I think before (Cuomo) looks at new things, he should give us the money that the state aid formula says we’re supposed to get.”

Both Lynch and Belfield said they do not offer pre-K to all students due to money.

“We don’t have full pre-K here,” Belfield said. “We have enough funding (from a grant) for 58 slots, but our typical class of entering kindergartners is about 130.”

She said pre-K can be a great help to children from families living in poverty or families that do not have the time to help children prepare for school.

“If a child doesn’t keep up on their reading during the summer they can lose a half year of reading ability,” she said. “Pre-K will help as long as he funds it. Right now, it costs us to run the program.”

Lynch agreed. He said Fulton has offered pre-K since 1998 and today it serves about 155 children. But a typical entering kindergarten class in Fulton has nearly 250 children.

He said pre-K has helped children from lower-income homes increase their vocabularies, increase their language development and “children who had gone to pre-K did not have school adjustment issues.”

“I’m very supportive of this,” he said. “But who is going to pay for the program and pay for the transportation?” he asked.

The two superintendents agreed many rural districts with no access to Internet would benefit from the $2 billion technology referendum, called the Smart Schools Initiative.

Lynch and Belfield said this would help their districts if they are allowed to use this money to update old technology, install new wiring or buy laptops. Lynch also said Cuomo wants the money to come through competitive grants – “it’s too bad he’s doing it this way,” he said.

View from the Assembly, by Assemblyman Will Barclay

This past week, Gov. Cuomo presented his 2014 State of the State address.

For the first 30 minutes of the approximately one-and-a-half hour speech, the Governor reviewed what he saw as successes during his first three years in office.  During this part of his speech, his main point was that state government, which has often been labeled by the media as dysfunctional, is now working again thanks namely to his leadership.

In some cases, he has a point.  For example, we have passed several on-time budgets which were a rarity under previous administrations.  In addition, over the past three years, state spending has been held in check (although it might be argued that spending was held in check due to economic realities and not because of strong political leadership. Nevertheless, increases have been kept under 2 percent).  Cuomo also stated while great strides have been made to improve the Upstate economy, more needs to be done.  As far as “more needs to be done,” I strongly agree with the Governor.

It was at this point in his speech that the Governor pivoted away from what he labels as his successes to what he wants to accomplish this year.  I was pleased that providing tax relief was his number one priority.  If we are ever going to revive the Upstate economy, the first order of business needs to be to lower the state’s tax burden on its citizens.  In his address, the Governor proposes to:

** Eliminate the Corporate franchise tax for Upstate manufacturers;

** Speed up the phase-out of 18-A, a surcharge on utilities that is passed on to consumers; and,

** Freeze property taxes for two years by having the state provide a personal income tax credit to homeowners if localities stay within the 2 percent property tax cap and take steps to share or consolidate services.

These proposals are a good start in helping New York shed its reputation as the highest-taxed state in the nation.  Indeed, I would like to go further and address why our state taxes–primarily, our property taxes–are so high.  To provide long-term property tax relief we need to address the problem of state mandates on school districts and localities, our Medicaid system, and equitable state funding for schools.

Following his call to lower taxes, the Governor then stated that there is no greater economic development program for our state than our education system.  In many respects, he is right.  A raise in socioeconomic status begins with a quality education.  In order to improve our state’s education system, the Governor proposes a $2 billion bond referendum to provide capital for the state to improve technology in the classroom.  In his speech, he also proposed bonuses of for teachers who are deemed “highly effective.”  I think both of these proposals have merit and look forward to seeing more information regarding them.

The Governor concluded his speech by saying generally that we need to restore public trust in state government.  It would be hard for anyone to argue with this proposition in light of the rash of legislators who have been accused of public corruption as of late.  To combat this problem, Cuomo calls for, among other things, public financing of campaigns. Unfortunately, it seems lost on the Governor that the large majority of legislators who have been accused of corruption are from NYC–a place where they have public financed campaign (albeit not for state offices).  Indeed, some of the alleged corruption actually arose from NYC’s system of public financing of campaigns.  Simply put, public financing of campaigns will not help restore the public’s trust on government.

Obviously, there were several more proposal set forth in his State of the State address and I look forward to hearing more details about them over the next few weeks.  I remain optimistic that 2014 can be a very successful legislative year for New York state.

Correction: In the column dated Dec. 30, 2013, there was an error.  It stated there were roughly 1.6 billion people that have enrolled in Obamacare when it should have read 1.6 million enrollees.  I apologize for the mistake.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office.  My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us or by calling 598-5185.  You can also friend me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.