Category Archives: Valley Viewpoints

Farm bill should not be approved

by Nancy Weber, President Oswego County Farm Bureau

Farming in New York is under attack once again by people who have never set foot on a farm, but think they know best how a farm should operate.

The New York Assembly, led by New York City lawmakers, passed the unnecessary Farm Workers Fair Labor Practices Act.

There is already a long list of state and federal protections that over see everything from workplace housing to health and safety standards to wages.

The Farm Labor Bill is also pushing for mandatory overtime on an individual eight-hour work day and collective bargaining. These may work for a factory, not a family farm.

If employees should choose to strike during a critical week of harvest, a year’s livelihood could be lost. Our dairy cows in need of milking would also be put in harm’s way.

Mother Nature dictates the work schedule, not the farmer.  Overtime will force many farmers to limit workers to eight hour shifts and seek other employees to fill in the gap. The migrant farm workers who choose to come to this country to work hard for a given-season would be shortchanged.

Other farmers may simply choose to grow less labor intensive row crops, giving up on planting fresh fruits and vegetables. The legacy and landscape of agriculture in New York will undoubtedly change.

In the end, farmers treat their employees well because it is not only the right thing to do, but because the farmers depend on their workers for important jobs.

If an employee was treated unfairly, they would simply find work elsewhere or not return the following year.

I would like to thank Assembly Member Will Barclay and Bob Oaks who stood up for farms and farm families by voting “no” on this bill.

We encourage you to write or call Governor Cuomo and your state Senator and explain that if this bill should pass, farmers and farm employees will be hurt. Sincerely,

Thanks for the lake support

I want to thank all of the Lake Neatahwanta Committee members and others who donated not only food and supplies but also their time to make the chicken barbecue on May 11 a huge success.

The committee will continue to seek grants and donations and hope to see a clean lake become a reality.

Many thanks again to all who put their change and bills in the collection boxes.

Ed Williamson

Granby

Remember to vote Tuesday

by Bill Lynch, Superintendent of Schools Fulton City School District

I am writing to encourage all registered voters in the community to participate in the Fulton school budget vote and board of education elections.

Tuesday, May 21, registered voters in the Fulton City School District will be asked to vote on the 2013-14 school district budget.

Members of the school board approved a $65.26 million tentative budget at their April 9th meeting. This budget, which was developed with input from a District Budget Committee and approved by the board, continues to provide and support quality educational programs, services and activities for our students.

Over the prior four years, our district has faced significant financial challenges which resulted in reductions to staff, programs and services.

The primary goal again this year in creating the 2013-14 budget is to maintain all student instructional programs, services and opportunities.

The budget is a $2.86 million increase from the current year budget and represents a 4.6 percent budget increase. The budget is supported by an increase of over $1.2 million in state foundation aid and in $1.1 million in expense driven aids including building aid for prior voter approved capital projects.

It is noteworthy that state operating or “foundation” aid to our district is still $1,236,669 less than received in 2008-09!

The district is prudently using $1.5 million in the district fund balance to cover general expenses plus $651,000 from two reserve accounts to cover specific expenses for which the reserve accounts were established.

Finally, a 1.5 percent increase in the local tax levy is anticipated, well below the district’s allowable school tax levy limit increase of 3.6%.

This spending plan supports district goals and the learning needs of all students, both high achieving and at risk.

Specifically, all instructional programs and course levels are maintained as are social and behavioral supports and services.

The budget further covers costs for district transportation, the maintenance and upkeep of schools and facilities and staff salaries, benefits and retirement costs.

The 2013-14 budget directs 74.2 percent of funds to student instruction, services and programs. Of the $2.86 million increase in the total budget, $2.26 million is directed to the program portion of the budget, which focuses on student instruction and learning.

The capital and debt portion of the budget makes up 15.8 percent while administration the remaining 10 percent.

State aid will provide 62.3 percent of the revenue, with the local tax levy providing 30.7 percent and other revenues contributing 7.0 percent of support.

Voters will also cast ballots to elect two members to the board of education.

Fantastic night at the theater

by Bob Weston, Fulton Lions Club

Emotional, inspirational and every other positive adjective you can think of describes the production of “Helen Keller” at the CNY Art Center at last Saturday’s performance, which was cosponsored and attended by Fulton Lions Club members and friends.

It was an excellent opportunity for those of us in attendance to reacquaint ourselves with the life of Helen Keller and the impact that she has had on all of our lives.

In 1925, at the Lions Club International Convention, Helen Keller spoke of her arduous journey and appealed to the Lions to reach out to those of us that are given the burden of the lack of sound and sight.

To this day, the Lions Club continues to advocate for sight and hearing.

The actors were absolutely amazing. We thank them for their hard work and dedication.

Fight the bite

by Jiancheng Huang, Oswego County Public Health Director

With summer soon upon us, I would like to take this moment to talk about how the Oswego County Health Department is preparing for the upcoming mosquito season.

We will begin staff training during the last week of May and move into full surveillance the following week.

As part of a long-term surveillance program, our staff collects mosquito specimens from a number of trap sites around the county.

The survey area this year will be the same areas with high mosquito activities last year.

Most traps are set in and near hardwood swamp areas because they are a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes, especially the “Culiseta melanura” mosquito, the main carrier of Eastern equine encephalitis.

Once captured, mosquitoes are identified and grouped by species, gender, and whether or not they have ingested blood. The collection or “pool” of mosquitoes is then sent to the NYS Department of Health laboratory near Albany for testing that same week. The results are usually received one week later.

In 2012, we received special funding to coordinate the Mark-Release-Recapture Project which tracks the migration patterns of adult mosquitoes.

Due to budget constraints, we will not be able to go on with the project this year; however, we will continue to monitor mosquito populations through traditional surveillance methods.

We created educational signs with funds made available from the New York State and procured through the efforts of Senate Senator Patty Ritchie last year.

The signs convey information about protecting yourself and your family from mosquito bites. They will be distributed to schools, municipalities, campgrounds, playgrounds and golf courses.

Still, the best defense we have against EEE and the West Nile Virus is to guard against mosquito bites. Protect yourself and your family by limiting outside activities from dusk to dawn when mosquitoes are more active.

If you have to be outside or in areas with mosquitoes, wear shoes, socks, long pants, and long-sleeved shirts as the weather permits.

Also, be sure to use insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus according to the directions on the label.

You can also reduce mosquito populations around your home and yard by eliminating or minimizing standing water.

Empty or drain pails, flower pots, wheelbarrows, wading pools and pool covers. Drill holes in recycling containers, clear roof gutters, dispose of old tires, and change the water in bird baths and horse troughs twice a week to discourage mosquito breeding.

Also, repair or replace broken or torn window and door screens to keep mosquitoes from entering your home.

These are all important steps in the battle against EEE and WNV. Personal protection is the most effective way of preventing EEE, WNV and other insect-borne diseases.

Last year, our public health educators launched more than three dozen community outreach activities about EEE and WNV alone.

We will continue our efforts to educate people about personal protection methods this year. I, too, will join the educational team to reach out to more organizations and groups throughout the county.

Please contact our department for an educational session about EEE and WNV, be thorough in their personal protection practices and enjoy a safe and happy summer!

Mock trial program

by Thom Benedetto (via e-mail)

The 2013 Mock Trial Season is now behind us. I would like to congratulate the students from Paul V. Moore High School for winning the County Tournament. All of the teams, however, deserve congratulations.

The students worked very hard, spending countless hours learning the case, about the law, and rehearsing. They, the students and teachers/advisors alike, put their hearts and souls into this competition. It surely shows, and I have consistently received positive feedback from parents, our judges, attorneys and community members, about how well the students do every year.

It is so very rewarding to see the students perform and I am always in awe watching their excitement at the events.

It has been my distinct honor and privilege to be the coordinator of the Oswego County Mock Trial program. I am very grateful and feel blessed for the confidence placed in me. It is with regret, however, that I announce my retirement as county coordinator. I do so with much trepidation and sadness, but

I am pursuing some other challenges which will undoubtedly take me in different directions, both personally and professionally. I will take away many fond memories, however, and a strong sense of accomplishment surrounding this program.

What does this mean for mock trial? I hope it represents an opportunity for another member of our association to step forward. I will be working closely with the executive committee to identify someone to take over. It is my hope that my successor will be named by the end of this school year so that planning may begin for next year.

In closing, there are many, many people that I must thank who have been very generous with their time and assistance. In particular, the following teachers deserve recognition: Carol Blackburn (Phoenix), Jonna St. Croix (Sandy Creek), Vern Borrowman (Mexico), Sarah Jobin (Central Square), and several others.

You all work very hard, and most were involved from the very beginning, so thanks for sticking with me. It has been my distinct pleasure to work with you.

I’d also like to thank our judiciary, all of whom have been very generous with their time, year after year, after year, after year. Thanks to all of the other volunteers and supporters of this program. I truly thank you, one and all.

Village election

by Sandra Blanchard, Hannibal

I wrote a letter to the editor in The Valley News recently, asking to make our government accountable.

I was surprise to see that the 19th of June was the wrong date for village elections as I had called the village clerk to confirm the date. Some how there must have been a miscommunication.

The correct date for the village election is the June 18.

Mayor Fred Kent’s two-year term is up along with two-year terms of trustees Joseph Caruana and Wendell Blanchard.

The elections will be held at the Hannibal town hall again June 18.

Many of our elected seats are filled year after year unopposed. We need people that live within the Hannibal village willing to run for these seats and work to make Hannibal a better and safer place to life.

Don’t forget to vote June 18.

Accountable government

by Sandra J. Blanchard, Hannibal

Our legislators, town and village officials all need to be made accountable.

This year, we will have a chance for change. Take the next few months before elections to ask questions, attend Hannibal town meetings on the third Wednesdays of the month at 7 p.m. Hannibal Village meetings are on the second Monday of the month also at 7 p.m.

Oswego County is dominated by the Republican Party. This means that the majority of all decisions being made within the county are being made by the Republican Party. No party should have that kind of control. Are you, as taxpayers and voters, happy with animal control, neighborhood junk issues and your rising taxes to name a few?

We need you, Step forward and have a say in the county, town and village future. People should know that, by law, we all have to be registered to a party before we can vote in any election.

Some people do not know that they have the right to vote for any candidate running on the election ballot regardless of the party that they are registered in.

Belonging to a certain party does not mean that you have to vote for a candidate within that party. Freedom of choice is a wonderful thing — take advantage of living in America.

Now serving the Hannibal Town is Supervisor Ron Greenleaf. Two town board members are up this year: Virginia Wilber and Carl Emmons.

You have to live within the town to fill these positions. Legislator Terry Wilbur is the legislator for the Hannibal area. Candidates for this office must live within the 21st district. These votes will be in November.

June 19th is the date for the village elections. Candidates must live within the village to run for these offices. Mayor Fred Kent and two village trustees, Joseph Caruana and Wendell Blanchard, are up for re-election this year. You must live in the village to run for village seats.

Very few people vote in the village elections; sometimes only seven or eight votes are casted.

Any one interested in running for any of these seats should contact the Hannibal town hall or the Oswego County Election Board as soon as possible. Intentions to run should be know by mid May.