Category Archives: Featured Stories

FULTON FAMILIES: A school of fish: The Westons just keep swimming

The favorites – Bob Weston used to tell each of his three daughters — Cindy, Alison and Kelly — that she was his favorite. It wasn’t until later that they found out they were all his favorites.  Photo courtesy of the Weston family
The favorites – Bob Weston used to tell each of his three daughters — Cindy, Alison and Kelly — that she was his favorite. It wasn’t until later that they found out they were all his favorites.
Photo courtesy of the Weston family

Editor’s note: This is the fourth installment of stories about Fulton Families. The monthly series tells the stories of families that have either lived in Fulton for ages or perhaps only a short while — but the common bond is that they love the city and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. If you know of a family we should highlight, please email Debbie Groom, Valley News managing editor, at dgroom@scotsmanmediagroup.com.

By Ashley M. Casey

It’s well past Christmas, but Bob and Sandy Weston’s tree is still decked out in the living room. It’s not a Christmas tree anymore, though — it’s a celebration tree.

“The bulbs come down (and) we put pictures, we put cards, birthdays, anniversaries, celebrations, any kind of card that we get from friends and from family we put on the tree,” Bob said. Continue reading

News in brief

Students from the Oswego Middle School’s National Junior Honor Society program took time out of their vacation recently and helped celebrate the holidays with residents, staff, family and friends at Bishop’s Commons.

Junior Honor Society students lent a hand during the annual Christmas Party held at Bishop’s Commons. Students played games with residents and the children who attended the party, served refreshments to those on hand and even helped Santa Claus distribute presents.

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Saturday workshops for January at the Oswego Public Library include:

1 to 3 p.m., Saturday,  Jan. 4, Computer Tune Up

1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11, Advanced Iphones

Noon to 2 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 18, Tower Teardown. Learn how to take a PC apart and put it back together again.

Noon to 2 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 25, File/Photo Recovery. Learn how to recover files and photos from a dead or infected PC.

3 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, Photoshop Elements.

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Laurie Smith is the guest at the 8 a.m. Jan. 9 Women’s Network for Entrepreneurial Training monthly breakfast meeting at the SUNY Oswego Phoenix Center.

She will demonstrate show how changing your thinking and actions will have a great effect on the success of your goals. She is a self-development junkie, a serial entrepreneur and a health and fitness advocate with a 20-year career in different aspects of the beauty industry.

The cost for each seminar is $12 for members and $15 for non-members. The WNET annual (Sept. 2013-Aug.2014) membership cost is $25. Each seminar includes a light breakfast.

WNET is supported locally by Operation Oswego County, SUNY Oswego Phoenix Center, NBT Bank, BeautiControl, By Detail and The Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce.

Pre-registration is required for each seminar, and may be made by calling Operation Oswego County, weekdays, at 343-1545, or via e-mail elivoti@oswegocounty.org. Payments may also be made via credit card on our website.

For more information about WNET, visit http://www.oswegocounty.org/WNET/index.html. Follow us on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/WomensNetworkforEntrepreneurialTraining.

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The Pennellville United Methodist Church, 389 County Route 54 in Pennellville, will have a roast pork and dresing diner beginning at 4 p.m. Jan. 11.

The menu will consist of roast pork, dressing, mashed potatoes, green beans, coleslaw, rolls and butter. Attendees may choose from a wide selection of homemade pies and other desserts.

Coffee, tea, cool aid and water will also be available.

Music will be provided while you wait to be seated.

The ladies from the church also have a variety of crafts and goodies for sale.  There is a large supply of used books available at reasonable prices.

The next dinner will be Feb. 8. Call  Anne Jones at 695-6086 with questions.

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A soup luncheon is planned for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (or until sold out) Jan. 11 at the Granby Center United Methodist Church, County Route 3.

The menu will include vegetable beef soup and cream of broccoli soup, bread, crackers, beverage and dessert.

Takeouts are available.

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The Oswego County 911 Program has launched a new Facebook page to keep residents informed about new developments in the 911 office.

E-911 serves the community by answering emergency and non-emergency requests for police, fire and emergency medical services.

The Facebook page contains information on training, community education programs, staff activities, and new developments in emergency communications technology.

The page may be accessed at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Oswego-County-911-Emergency-Communications-Department/247959888691914.

“Oswego County 911 recognizes the importance of public outreach and the use of modern social media for the delivery of information,” said program director Michael Allen.

“We are excited to launch this Facebook Page and hope the public finds it informative and useful,” he said.

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A new law signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will require manufacturers to collect and recycle mercury-containing thermostats at no cost to consumers.

The law implements a statewide thermostat product stewardship program to ensure that hazardous mercury is properly handled, preventing potential adverse health effects and damage to the environment.

Mercury is found in many older wall-mounted thermostats used to regulate room temperatures. If these thermostats break, they can release mercury into the air, causing adverse health effects when inhaled.

Exposure also can occur when mercury thermostats are improperly discarded into the solid waste stream because switches can break or be incinerated, releasing the mercury into the environment.

Beginning July 1, 2014, thermostat manufacturers are required to establish a system for the collection, transport, recycling, disposal and proper management of out-of-service mercury thermostats, and also conduct education and outreach to consumers, thermostat wholesalers, contractors and contractor associations regarding the collection program.

The statewide goal for calendar year 2015 is to collect 15,500 out-of-service mercury thermostats.

Roller derby junior league featured at bout

Port City Roller Derby’s junior league will get 2014 rolling with their “Snow Ball” bout on Saturday, Jan. 11, in the Oswego YMCA Armory.

For the bout featuring two teams of Port City Roller Derby junior skaters, ages 10 to 17, doors will open at 5 p.m. with action beginning at 6 p.m. in the armory, corner of West First and Utica streets in Oswego.

It is the second event of the juniors first full competitive season, a prelude to a Feb. 8 home bout versus a juniors team from Buffalo’s Queen City league.

A portion of proceeds of the January bout will support the Children’s Museum of Oswego.

Advance tickets, available from league members, cost $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 5 to 12, with children 4 and under admitted free.

Tickets can be purchased at the door, but will cost $12 for adults. Attendees interested in trackside seating are encouraged to bring their own chairs.

Port City Roller Derby is produced by Oz Roller Girls Inc., a member-run nonprofit organization dedicated to athletic competition, empowerment and supporting its community.

Port City Roller Derby always seeks skaters, refs and other volunteers for its adult (18 and over) and juniors (ages 10 to 17) teams, and will provide training.

For more information, visit www.portcityrollerderby.org or email portcityrd@gmail.com.

Oswego County tourism a mouse click away

Submitted by Oswego County

The Oswego County Tourism Office has launched a new interactive map (iMap) that allows prospective visitors and local residents to create their own customized itinerary for visiting hundreds of places in Oswego County.

The iMap is a computerized map linked to the Oswego County tourism website at www.visitoswegocounty.com.

Designed to be a mobile-friendly tool, it contains more than 500 properties or points of interest, including places to stay, eat, shop and explore with location details and links to web sites.

“The iMap provides quick access to information on destinations throughout Oswego County,” said David Turner, director of the Oswego County Department of Community Development, Tourism and Planning.

“It allows you to create your own itinerary and customize it to your interests, such as museums, fishing spots, farm markets, shopping and eating,” he said. “You can share the map with friends, print it out, and access it from anywhere there is internet service.”

Former County Legislator Louella LeClair, R-Fulton, former chair of the Legislature’s Economic Development and Planning Committee during 2013, said the iMap provides a valuable tool for people who are already planning trips to visit Oswego County as well as local residents.

There is no charge for Oswego County businesses and attractions to be included on the iMap.

“The iMap contains information already in our tourism database such as Internet links, photographs and social media sites,” said Faith O’Brien, tourism assistant.

“We ask businesses and attractions to look at the iMap and contact our office if we are missing any information, so that we can provide the most accurate and up-to-date information for Oswego County visitors and residents,” she said. “We’re also working to make sure that the locations of points of interest are accurately placed on the map.”

Anyone who would like to submit information for the iMap may e-mail the county tourism office at tourism@oswegocounty.com, or call O’Brien at 349-8322.

The map was created by the county tourism staff in partnership with Lunar Cow Design of Akron, Ohio.

Turner said the tourism Office is also working on a fishing app for mobile phones which will be released soon.

The department also has developed a free snowmobiling app, which includes information about the 360 miles of groomed trails in the county.

The snowmobile app, which has experienced several thousand downloads already, was developed in partnership with Mohawk Valley GIS and is available at http://www.nysnowmobilewebmap.com/smartphone.htm.

View from the Assembly, by Assemblyman Will Barclay

The Tax Relief Commission issued its final report this month.

The commission was established by the governor and was charged with providing recommendations to cut $2 billion in state taxes during a three-year period.

Included in its final report were property tax relief recommendations the governor will consider.

Three property tax relief recommendations were outlined. They include a property tax freeze, a circuit breaker and a tax credit for manufacturers.

The commission recommends freezing residential property taxes for two years but only for jurisdictions within the property tax cap; property tax relief will only continue into a second year if the local government adopts reforms that reduce costs — such as sharing services or consolidating.

The circuit breaker would establish a personal income tax credit for taxpayers whose real property taxes exceeds a certain percentage of their household gross income.

Manufacturers would receive a tax credit and specifically, Upstate manufacturers would benefit.

While I’m pleased to see this conversation taking place, I’m disappointed by the lack of recommended budget cuts or long-term cost-savings measures included for localities or school districts.

The reason we have such high taxes is New York has a spending problem. For example, last year we spent 42 percent of our total budget on Medicaid, yet we continue to offer several coverage options within the framework of Medicaid that other states do not offer, such as dental care.

Medicaid costs are expected to grow only because last year, the state predicted 400,000 additional people would qualify for Medicaid due to changes caused by Obamacare — the giant federal mandate that requires people purchase health insurance.

In fact, according to news articles published recently, out of the roughly 1.6 billion who have enrolled in Obamacare, 1.46 million actually signed up for Medicaid.

The latest report contains only temporary fixes and does not fully consider that the state needs to cut spending. Tax freezes, tax credits and tax rebates are temporarily helpful but we need more permanent fixes — ones that will reduce the property tax load for New Yorkers for years to come.

We also need to stop passing state mandates onto localities. I sponsor legislation that would prohibit new unfunded mandates from passing the State Legislature (A1570).

Also, the report encourages consolidation, but we’ve budgeted for consolidation and shared services in the past. This year’s state budget provided $79 million in grants for local governments to fully explore and utilize shared services and consolidations.

Those resources have been largely underused and many times, the voting public rejects consolidations. We need to provide more direct tax relief to small businesses, but this latest list does not make recommendations for small business tax relief either.

If you have any questions, comments or would like to be added to my mailing list, send a letter to 200 N. Second St., Fulton, New York 13069, or an email to barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us or call 598-5185. You can also friend me, Assembly Barclay, on Facebook.

State Senate Report, by state Sen. Patricia Ritchie

The New Year is a time for resolutions, and according to recent statistics roughly 45 percent of Americans usually make them.

However, of those who make resolutions, only 8 percent actually stick to them.

Not surprisingly, topping the list of resolutions year after year, are those related to our health.

Whether it’s losing weight, staying fit or quitting smoking, there are countless people looking to make healthy changes when we turn the calendar page to the next year.

Here are tips that can help you improve your health and achieve your goals in the New Year:

1) Cut the salt: Too much sodium can increase your blood pressure as well as your risk for a heart attack and stroke.

One of the most important steps you can take to become healthier is reducing the amount of salt you use on your food.

2) Convenience is key: It’s critical to get enough fruit and vegetables each day, and the key to that is making sure you have these foods accessible.

For example, keep a bowl of fresh fruit on your kitchen counter, place a box of raisins in your child’s backpack and in your briefcase or add fruit to your cereal or oatmeal.

3) Eat right while out and about: It’s easy to overeat and consume too many calories when eating at a restaurant.  It’s a good idea to skip the sides, try healthy options like grilled chicken and skip sodas, which are loaded with sugar and calories.

4) Choose fresh: Here in our region, we are fortunate to have so many options for healthy eating.

For fresh foods, vegetables and meats, try shopping at a local farmers’ market or farm stand. Not only will you be eating healthy, you’ll be supporting the local economy too.

5) Get moving: The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends 30 minutes of physical activity per day for adults and 60 minutes per day for children at least five days a week.

For those who aren’t active, it may sound daunting. However, it’s a lot easier than you think — take the stairs, hit the gym, go for a walk — it all adds up.

6) Kick the habit: Each and every day, 4,000 U.S. children under the age of 18 smoke their first cigarette, and 1,200 people die from smoking-related illness — an average of 50 an hour.

Smoking can be deadly, and we need to do more to help those who want to quit. That’s why I joined a bipartisan group of 16 senators in calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to increase funding for smoking cessation and youth tobacco prevention programs in next year’s state budget.

If you need help quitting, I encourage you to contact the New York State Smoker’s Quit Line at (866) NY-QUITS.

The great thing about the New Year is that it offers us an opportunity to make a change and start fresh.

Whatever your resolution may be, I wish you the best of luck as you work to stick to it and make a difference in your own life. Happy New Year!

Oswego County jobless rate up in November

By Debra J. Groom

Oswego County’s unemployment rate was up in November and still is the highest in Central New York.

But for the first time in many months, Oswego County is not one of the top five highest rates in the state.

The jobless rate for November was 8.3 percent, up from 8 percent in October. But it is a vast improvement on the rate from November 2012 of 9.5 percent.

The only county in the area with a higher rate is neighboring Jefferson County, with a November unemployment rate of 9 percent. Jefferson County is the only county north of the Bronx with a rate of 9 percent or higher.

New York counties with the lowest unemployment rates are Tompkins, 4.4 percent; Putnam, 5 percent; Nassau, 5.1 percent; Saratoga, 5.2 percent; and Rockland, 5.3 percent. Counties with the highest unemployment rates are Bronx, 11.2 percent; Jefferson, 9 percent; Kings, 8.7 percent; Hamilton, 8.5 percent; and Orleans, 8.5 percent.

Christian Harris of the state Labor Department’s office in Binghamton said on average, there are about 400 more people entering the jobless market about this time in Oswego County. But in November, only 200 more were unemployed.

He believes the increase in the unemployment rate is due to construction jobs and other seasonal positions coming to an end and these people beginning to look for work.

He said often, the rates about this time of year bounce up and down for a few months.

“If there is a discouraged workforce, they will be jumping in and out of the job hunt,” he said. “We often see this slow growth cycle near the holidays.”

The United States unemployment rate was 6.6 percent in November, down from 7 percent in October and down from 7.4 percent a year ago.

The New York state rate was 6.9 percent in November, down from 7.5 percent in October and down from 7.9 percent in November 2012.

Parents of Special Children host ‘Breakfast with Santa’

Parents of Special Children, Inc. recently held its seventh annual Breakfast with Santa for individuals with special needs and their family members.

The 2-hour event was sponsored by the Fulton Elks #830 Lodge and featured a gourmet breakfast, arts and crafts and a visit from Santa, who had gifts for all.

Typically, the holiday season can become extremely stressful for everyone, especially those living with special needs.

The amazing members of the Elks Lodge helped create a relaxing and enjoyable time for all who attended.

“For many reasons, it is difficult for our families to visit Santa at the mall or in a store. Standing patiently in a long line, trying to keep our hands to ourselves and being in a confined space, is hard for many of our family members,” said Parents of Special Children Executive Director Theresa Familo. “Shrieking with excitement can be viewed by others as being impatient or rude, when in reality we just can’t control our emotions.

“Sometimes we need to jump or flap our hands and we often end up bumping into others. At this special event, our families are all accepted for who they are and their own uniqueness,” she said.

“The staff, board members and families of Parents of Special Children, Inc. would like to sincerely thank all those who helped make this such a memorable event. Without them, this would not have been possible. Your kindness and generosity remind us all of the true meaning of Christmas,” she said.

Parents of Special Children, Inc. is a parent-driven organization, dedicated to family empowerment and improving the quality of the everyday lives of special needs families.

For more information, call Familo at  598-7672.