“The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
Those words, made famous by Mahatma Gandhi, characterize a recent community outreach project where students at Oswego County BOCES experienced the true spirit of generosity.
The project was a cooperative effort between OCB School Counselor Jo Ann Smegelsky and students in Marian Becker’s and Joanne St. Gelais’ classrooms to create fleece tie-blankets for homeless teens in Oswego County.
In preparation for the project, students researched generosity and were asked to write their own definition for the word.
Connor Cauchy from Ms. Becker’s class defined generosity as “more than an item or article of clothing, it is the friends you can make by giving your friendship to them.”
In addition the students were asked to give their interpretation of many notorious quotes about selflessness and giving including this statement by Helen Keller: “Believe, when you are most unhappy, that there is something for you to do in the world. So long as you can sweeten another’s pain, life is not in vain.”
Generosity is one of the four central values of the Circle of Courage youth empowered model adopted by Special Education classrooms at OCB. The other values are independence, belonging, and mastery.
As part of the Circle of Courage philosophy students participate in curriculum-enriched ABLE time each school day. Standing for Actions Building Life Experience, ABLE time gives students an opportunity to engage in collaborative projects and build relationships while demonstrating personal responsibility.
It was during their ABLE time that the students in Ms. Becker’s and Ms. St. Gelais’ classrooms made the fleece tie-blankets.
The finished blankets were donated to Oswego County Opportunities for distribution to the Program to Assist the Teenage Homeless or PATH, which provides services to assist homeless youth in becoming self-sufficient.
Karen Merrill from the PATH program stopped by the school to accept the donation and thank the students for their hard work, kindness and generosity.
Seven Oswego County municipalities, businesses, and not-for-profit agencies have been awarded state funding through Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council program.
Central New York and Northern New York were named “Top Performers” — taking home prizes of $93.8 million for 73 projects and $90.2 million for 82 projects respectively.
“Once again, we are showing that Central and Northern New York communities are ready to grow,” said Senator Patty Ritchie. “We have the good ideas, a trained and enthusiastic workforce and now, the needed investment and support of state government to continue to make our plans a reality and keep creating the jobs we need to revitalize our economy.
“I have been proud to work with Governor Cuomo on ideas and initiatives that will help our state grow and create more — and better — jobs,” added Ritchie. “This is just one more example of how by working together we are creating a brighter future for New York and the people who live here.”
Ten Regional Economic Development Councils, comprised of experts and stakeholders with backgrounds in business, academia and local government and non-governmental organizations, were created last year to develop long-term strategic plans for economic growth for their regions.
In 2011, $785 million was up for grabs by 10 regions. Central and Northern New York received more than $200 million in funding for presenting “best plans” for growth. The funding awarded last week will help both regions continue those plans.
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Oswego County officials are mourning the loss of a colleague who gave more than four decades of public service to Oswego County residents.
Arthur Ospelt, District 12 legislator and vice chairman of the legislature, died Dec. 18.
Ospelt served in several leadership roles in town and county government. He is remembered as a strong and visionary leader who took great pride in the people and resources of Oswego County.
“His heart and soul were truly devoted to Oswego County,” said Legislature Chairman Fred Beardsley. “Art truly was a larger than life presence in Oswego County. His knowledge of the county and his dedication to it was immeasurable. His accomplishments will continue to benefit our citizens for generations to come.”
Ospelt is best known for the development of Oswego County’s comprehensive solid waste management system.
When New York State began to close town dumps across the state, under Ospelt’s leadership, Oswego County took a proactive position and offered to implement a centralized county-owned solid waste system.
The county took over the locally operated Silk Road landfill from the municipalities of Fulton, Granby, Volney and Phoenix.
In 1975, the county opened the first solid waste transfer stations in Hastings, Pulaski and Oswego. All were located on active dumps that were closed by the county.
The county began the process of developing a new county landfill in 1976. Following a number of permit applications, public hearings, and lawsuits, the county was issued a construction permit and began building the Bristol Hill Landfill in Volney in 1982. The new state-of-the-art landfill opened in September 1983.
Having suffered through the sometimes painful trials and tribulations of siting the county’s first landfill, Ospelt quickly recognized the advantage of prolonging its projected life. It was this quest that led him to propose the construction of an Energy Recovery Facility in 1979.
The resource recovery facility was constructed on N.Y.S. Route 481 north of Fulton, and by late 1985, the facility was converting vast quantities of potential landfill materials into steam and electricity that could now be sold to third party users.
A few years later, under Ospelt’s leadership, Oswego County implemented one of the first voluntary recycling programs in New York State.
Soon after, the county began a feasibility study for a materials recovery facility to process and sell recyclable materials. Separate recycling drop-off centers were built at the Pulaski, Hastings and Oswego transfer stations. Mandatory recycling was enacted in 1992 and the Materials Recovery Facility opened for business the same year.
“Art’s efforts to minimize the amount of materials that go into the landfill have likely extended the potential life of the facility by as much as five times the original estimates,” said Beardsley. “As a result, Oswego County has received several awards and international recognition for the solid waste system and energy recovery facility, which will serve our residents for years to come.
“As county legislator, superintendent of Public Works, and as county administrator, Art always had the ability to see the big picture and look for the best solution for Oswego County residents,” continued Beardsley.
“He made sure that Oswego County roads were in excellent condition. Our snow removal programs are second-to-none, with the best crews and equipment anywhere. He was instrumental in the development and maintenance of the county airport and served for many years on the county industrial development agency board. He was a kind and caring person, with a great sense of humor that smoothed over many a debate on the floor of the legislature.”
Ospelt was first elected supervisor of the Town of Schroeppel, serving from 1970 to 1990. When the Board of Supervisors transitioned into the County Legislature, Ospelt served as chairman of the Legislature in 1976 and 1977.
He resigned as legislator in 1977 when he was appointed superintendent of highways and later superintendent of public works, a position he held until 1990.
In 1990, Ospelt was appointed Oswego County administrator, a position he held until his retirement in 1996. After a four-year retirement, he returned to his passion of serving the public and was elected legislator from District 12 in Pennellville, a position he served from 2000 until his death.
The Oswego County Legislature will meet at 2 p.m. Friday to vote on the new legislative district lines.
The meeting will be held in legislature chambers on the fourth floor of the county government complex in Oswego.
The legislature has anticipated having a new plan passed by the end of the year.
A public hearing was held earlier this month with several residents speaking in opposition of the plan. The new lines will divide several towns, including the towns of Oswego and Volney. The Volney Town Board sent an opposing resolution to the legislature.
Legislator Dan Farfaglia has been a vocal opponent of the plan and has proposed his own plan, which he claims meets the legal requirements.
Farfaglia is a member of a reapportionment committee formed to draw the new lines. Legislator Dan Chalifoux serves as chairman of the committee.
When legislators decide on a final plan, the new lines will be represented in next year’s election. At that time, all 25 seats will be on the ballot.
An employee of the Oswego County Clerk’s office walked off the job today.
Many legislators have been notified of the most recent incident and said that they are working toward a permanent resolution to the problems that have plagued the office for over two years.
The New York State Labor Department and the EEOC have been contacted as well as Oswego County Personnel Director Carol Alnutt.
The employee, an index clerk, has been asked to perform accounting work while the senior account clerk is out. The employee has refused to do the accounting work because it is not a part of her job duties, according to the legislators working to resolve the issue.
The accounting duties are supposed to be done by the deputy clerk of operations in absence of the account clerk, according to the job description of the deputy position.
Minority Leader Mike Kunzwiler said enough is enough and that legislators need to work together to end the constant turmoil. Legislator Shawn Doyle is working on the matter with other legislators and said he spoke with Alnutt Friday morning.
“I absolutely expect something to be done about this,” Doyle said. “I don’t need to restate the sympathy I have for these employees.”
Kunzwiler agreed. “This is exactly what happens when you create a political position,” he said.
Legislator Doug Malone said the turmoil has got to come to an end and that a special meeting needs to be called before the end of the year to eliminate the deputy clerk of operations position and to lower the pay of the deputy clerk.
“It needs to be addressed soon,” he said. “We need to seriously look into this.”
Legislator Amy Tresidder has also been working on the matter, she said, and is making telephone calls.
There was no word as to whether the employee would return to work.
North Volney Methodist Church will be holding a “Make a Gift Day” Saturday, Dec. 8 from 10 a.m. to noon.
There will be a variety of crafts available for the children to complete as well as materials to make cards for their family members. It is all free to those who attend with no charge for materials. Refreshments will be served.
The church is also sponsoring a “Lights of Christmas” tree for the upcoming Christmas season.
Lights will be sold and can be dedicated to a friend or family member, both living and deceased.
A listing of names will placed alongside the lit tree. The tree will be lit through the Christmas season on the church grounds at the corner of County Routes 4 and 6 in the Town of Volney.