Category Archives: Valley Viewpoints

Valley Viewpoints: Councilor addresses legislator’s questions

Questions answered

Legislator Frank Castiglia came to the Fulton Common Council meeting April 15, and if anybody had any doubts that he doesn’t know what he is talking about, he removed them.

He started out during the public session responding to a question posed to him by former Mayor Hayden regarding the different tax rates for Cayuga Community College.

Castiglia said Fulton has a higher rate than say Volney or Granby because we have more students living in Fulton. He then asked the mayor if we have anybody to verify that the students still live here.

The mayor told him that was a county function.

Okay, let’s review – the mayor had to tell a county legislator what the county’s function is. Reminds me of a previous meeting when he came and tried to tell us how to handle potholes.

Alderman Kenyon asked him what the county does with potholes. Legislator Castiglia intelligently said…..duh, I dunno. Maybe he should learn his own job before he goes around telling us how to do ours.

Now comes the public hearing on Aldi’s special use permit. Legislator Castiglia gets up and starts right out with his ridiculous questions.

He asked how much the property was going to be assessed.  If he knew anything about government he would know that March 1 is the taxable status date which is when the real property is assessed according to the price fixed as of the valuation date.

Like the mayor said, “you can’t assess a building that isn’t built yet.”  Frank, I don’t mind giving you lessons in county government but you could look this up yourself.

He went on to tell us: “right now the property is assessed at $2 million for the building.” The mayor corrected him and said: “for the entire complex.” Castiglia said: “no, no…(pause) for the entire complex, yes.”

He said in one breath the mayor was right and wrong.

At one point as he was talking about the zoning in the area he said: “the whole site wasn’t always industrial, Sixth Street always used to went all the way down to Kiwanis Park and was residential… it was residential so that area should actually go back to residential…that’s what the law says, if it’s left empty for a certain length of time it reverts back to its old zoning.”

Sorry Frank, that’s not the law, that’s a lie. There is no such law.

Then came the even more ludicrous questions. He asked how many employees they were going to employ. He asked what hours they would be open. Strupplers and Save-A-Lot are open until 9 p.m. while Wal-Mart and Price Chopper are open 24 hours, so I fail to see what difference it makes.

He asked where they would get their products. He asked if they will have fresh meat. He wondered about a “shopping cart patrol.”

All of these things are up to the store. These questions had absolutely nothing to do with the special use permit.

There was a gentleman in attendance that is the project manager and was willing to answer these questions, but Legislator Castiglia rudely dismissed him, which proves he didn’t care about the answers; he was just playing “gotcha” with the council.

Legislator Castiglia could have come to the Planning Commission meeting the night before and received those answers but of course, there were no cameras there.

Legislator Castiglia asked about a traffic study, which is premature at this point since there is no store there yet. If the police feel a traffic study is warranted then they will do one.

He said: “Fay St…. is almost a race track now and it may get bigger. My only concern is that you don’t have sidewalks on both of those streets, I don’t care to have sidewalks, if we had them, fine but we’re going to have walkers…..”

Did everybody get that? He said Fay Street is a race track but he doesn’t want sidewalks for the walkers.

Legislator Castiglia goes on to talk about stores that used to be on the east side referring to P&C. He said: “We had a store on the east side, we had P&C on the east side and we couldn’t support it.”

It wasn’t that “we” couldn’t support it, Penn Traffic, owner of P&C, went bankrupt and closed all the stores. You may have missed that, it was in all the papers.

During his speech Legislator Castiglia said: “If my wife was here tonight she’d be up here yelling at me because she, ya know, is 100 percent for a store coming in down there, an Aldi’s coming in down there.”

It’s sad to see that any county legislator would be against a new business coming into the area, but to have the legislator that represents the district be against it is even more shameful.

I guess he wants the people in his district to travel the 2½ mile round trip to Save-A-Lot, 3½ miles to Price Chopper,  4½ miles to Strupplers or 6½ miles to Wal-Mart.

Right after that statement he goes on to say: “I am voting the way the people, or I would say the way the people in the district are saying they want to see….”  I’m confused, when did he join the Common Council?

In his recent letter to the editor he wrote: “I didn’t think it was possible to obtain so little information from such a knowledgeable group about such an important issue.”

My response is: I didn’t think it was possible to have an elected official be so uninformed on the matters of zoning, assessment, special use permits, community colleges, county ways of fixing potholes, public safety and so many others things.

Jim Myers
Councilor, 4th Ward

Valley Viewpoints: Difficult choices for Oswego schools

This time of year, which is a season of fresh air, new growth, and our emergence from winter hibernation has also become “budget season” for public schools.   

Financial plans for public schools are built on a delicate balance between reasonable expenditures, and revenue from state aid and taxes.  The balance produces an academic and extra-curricular program in well maintained facilities that a community can support and be proud of.

When that balance is not struck and expenditures do not match your revenue, the difficult task begins. In the nine years I have served as a superintendent of schools, I have to say this season has proven to be the most difficult.

In finding balance with the proposed budget for the 2014-2015 school year, the district leaders and members of the board of education have worked diligently to craft a spending plan that is efficient yet supportive of our educational mission.

On April 23, the school board approved a spending plan of $79.9 million that is reflective of a 2 percent increase over this year’s spending plan.

Because our revenue is not balanced with our current expenditures, we had to make reductions of over $2 million. This task was difficult and we relied on close analysis of every department, building and program within the district.

In the end, we realized we are heavy on staffing for a district with declining enrollment and we had excessive costs in many areas that could be reduced.

The result is a reduction in staffing of over 27 positions and a reduction of over $500,000 in departmental expenses.

These decisions were difficult, but necessary. Our focus was to have reductions in areas that will have little or no impact to our students.

I believe that when students return in September they will have very little if any impact to their experience. Cuts and reductions were made based first and foremost on enrollment, and we used attrition to eliminate 12 of the 27 staffing reductions.

By following this guide, we were able to reduce our budget, protect our programs and craft a proposed budget that makes us a more efficient organization while still providing an academic and extra-curricular program of which the Oswego community can be proud.

Over the next several weeks, as your Superintendent of Schools, I will be presenting the budget to various groups and answering questions to inform our community of the budget proposal.

On May 20 the community will be asked to vote on this proposal.  I would be happy to speak with you or your organization as well and I welcome your feedback as we go through this process.

Thank you for your support of our students and school district and I hope you enjoy the spring season as it is intended.

Ben Halsey
Oswego City School District
Superintendent of Schools

Valley Viewpoints

Fulton zone changes

Regarding the above mentioned article on page one, of the Saturday April 5, 2014 edition of the Valley News, there was some important information left out of this article, that I feel that the residents of the 6th Ward, City of Fulton should be aware of.

After the Mayor and the Common Council heard concerns from a local Realtor and a landlord, I was given the opportunity to speak on reasons I thought that encouraged the Common Council to act on this zoning change in the 6th Ward.

I’ve mentioned since my campaign that the main concern to the 6th Ward, to which I try to make a difference, is the quality of life that everyone should enjoy from day-to-day.

Unfortunately, I’ll get calls from residents in the 6th Ward, concerning issues such as people arguing over bad drugs they’ve purchased; at 6 a.m. yelling out to each other, in front of certain rental properties.

Also, residents have found beer bottles, cans, used needles, and strewn trash in their yards.

This should not, and will not be tolerated by the good residents that work hard, pay taxes and keep their properties looking great.

While there are great landlords in Fulton, there are still a few landlords who just don’t care, and consequently, the neighborhood surrounding these few undesirable rental properties have to deal with the above issues, sometimes on a daily basis.

As the article did state, future legislation by the Common Council will address the Realtor and the landlords concerns. Also, the Common Council will pass further legislation to try to continually improve the quality of life for the hard-working residents in Fulton.

In the future, I’m hoping that the Valley News will print all the information given, to include that given by the Common Councilors, who have certain issues, pertaining to their respective Wards.

Larry Macner

6th Ward Councilor

City of fulton

Valley Viewpoints

Internet wine sales

At a time when online shopping continues to grow nationally, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is smart to launch bold initiatives to promote New York’s growing technology sector.

Already the state ranks third in the nation for technology jobs, according to the trade group TechAmerica. That is why it is so surprising that the state’s policy on one important element of e-commerce is anything but clear.

Across the nation, the vast majority of states have embraced Internet wine sales — seeing the benefits they have for consumers, businesses, and government revenue.

These states have issued guidance to Internet wine sellers, and have interpreted existing laws to match the realities of the modern economy.  In New York, however, regulators have issued no rules for online sales, and might even curtail Internet sales — a policy better suited to 1934 than to 2014.

Access to e-commerce is a vital issue for rural New Yorkers. Online sales enable growth of local businesses by giving them access to a larger distribution channel and, consequently, the ability to penetrate new markets.

For consumers, online sales promote competition, lowering prices on everything from food to books to clothing.  E-commerce forces companies to offer higher quality products and better customer service.

And, most critically for rural New Yorkers, buying online brings products from the far reaches of the world straight to their doorsteps, all with a few keystrokes and a click of a mouse.

Buying wine online is no different. As recently as a decade ago, New Yorkers were limited to the few wines they could find in local wine shops.

The Internet changed that, with wines of all varietals and regions available instantly. This is especially important to New Yorkers in rural areas and small towns who otherwise have few choices.

Consumers can compare prices on their favorite wines. Efficiencies of scale bring lower prices across the board. Ordering wine for home delivery is easy and convenient (with appropriate safeguards to ensure only adults can buy it).

But the state Liquor Authority — which regulates wine sales — seems to suffer from Internet-phobia. It seems more focused on protecting 80 years of status quo than embracing the realities of the 21st century.

E-commerce moves at a much faster pace, and on a much larger scale, than what regulators are accustomed to. It takes a lot of businesses to run a large-scale e-commerce site, from inventory managers and payment processers to website designers.

These businesses support the retailers who actually sell the wine, but do not sell it themselves. Yet the State Liquor Authority is considering vastly expanding its regulatory framework to capture these businesses.

The state needs sensible guidance that reflects the 21st century economy, not sweeping new regulation that will prevent hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers from shopping online.

The reality is with 70 percent of consumers shopping online, and 80 percent of those using mobile devices, online shopping has opened up more retail avenues for consumers across the country.

A consumer in Herkimer County can purchase antiques from Virginia or lobster from Maine or barbecue sauce from Kansas City with simply a few clicks on their laptop. The same consumers should enjoy their flexibility and convenience when it comes to a Napa red or Finger Lakes Riesling.

At 21st Century Consumers, we support efforts to increase consumer selection and enhance the e-commerce experience. Visit our website at for more information.

John R.D. Celock

Executive Director

21st Century

Valley Viewpoints

Thanks event sponsors

The Run for Dennis event would not have been possible without the generous and heartfelt support we received from so many individuals and sponsoring organizations.

We would like to thank all who supported us both financially and with donated services:

Auyer Race Timing, Associated Dental Arts of Oswego, Azteca, Burke’s Home Center, C’s Farms, Cestaro Chiropractic, Chirello Advertising, Eagle Beverage, Entergy, Fitzgibbons Agency, Fleet Feet of Syracuse, Gibby’s Irish Pub, GU energy gel, Hibernians of Oswego, Integrative Healing Spa, Kinney Drug, Mitchell’s Speedway Press, National Honor Society Chapter of Oswego High School, Ontario Orchards, Oswego County Federal Credit Union, Price chopper, Riverview Wellness, Road ID, Sugar-Scanlon Funeral Home, The Press Box, The sunset Group-Oswego Triathlon, Trinity Catholic School, I Heart Oswego, Wiltsie Construction, Oswego Lions club, Top Stitch, DJ Plus, RJ Caruso, The Beacon Hotel, Oswego Bagelry and Sandwich shop, Bosco and Geers, Harbor Eye Associates, Murdock’s sports, Port City Chiropractic, Warner Physical Therapy, Wegman’s, WSYR NewsChannel 9’s Bridge Street, Time Warner Cable News, Jim and Phyllis Allen, Chip and Karen Kio, Bob and Kristen Lenz, and James and Darlene Tynan.”

Jessica Newson



Child Abuse Awareness Month

Each April, we celebrate Child Abuse Prevention Month.

This year’s theme is “Pinwheels for Prevention” and will be celebrated locally through the Department of Social Services and the Child Advocacy Center.

Child Abuse Prevention Month is a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of child abuse and neglect in our communities and is a call to action from the Prevent Child Abuse America organization.

This organization was founded in Chicago in 1972 and now has chapters in all 50 states and includes 581 Healthy Families America home visitation centers in 41 states, Puerto Rico and Canada.

Prevent Child Abuse America is focused on advocating for the creation of a national policy framework and strategy for the safety of children, while helping families to prevent incidents of abuse and neglect.

“Why Pinwheels for Prevention? Prevent Child Abuse America wants to transform awareness into action this year using the Pinwheel as a national symbol.

The pinwheel reminds us of childlike notions and stands for the chance at a healthy, happy, and full life that children deserve.”

Please review other important information on the organization’s website at:  (

Friday, April 4, 2014 was “Wear Blue Day” in recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month.

This year in Oswego County, we celebrate the resilience of children and families determined to heal from these traumatic experiences, and honor the committed workers that support families and children in the community.

Far too many to name individually, they frequently come from the following areas:  schools, medical/mental health providers, caseworkers and managers, therapists, law enforcement, legal professions, Family Court and the District Attorney’s Office.

Providers committed to the safety of children in Oswego County encourage citizens to be involved in the lives of children in your neighborhood. Know children’s names and where they live, guide them away from danger whenever possible; whether it is a car in the street or a stranger approaching.

Be concerned and question children without appropriate supervision, without a coat in the winter, a child that appears to be hungry, or a child that is not attending school. The safety of children in our community relies on the commitment and willingness to act of community members.

Child Protective Services can intervene only once a report has been made to the State Central Registry.  A “finding” or positive conclusion of abuse or neglect can only be obtained if credible evidence is discovered to support the allegation.

When you see a child at risk, please do the following:

If you witness a crime being committed against a child:  Call 911

If you suspect abuse or neglect:  Call the NYS Child Abuse Hotline at (800) 342-3720. Provide as much information as possible: Name, address, parent’s name, if known. Detail your concerns. Be specific.  Bruises, malnourished, alone — no supervision, child has contact with inappropriate adults.

Date, times, or frequency of your observations. Calls can be made to the Hotline anonymously.

Protection of children in our community is everyone’s responsibility. The tried and true “it takes a village to raise a child” is a partnership we continue to build in Oswego County.

Be part of this effort through your commitment to the life a child. They indeed hold the future of our community in their hands.

Gregg Heffner, LCSW-R


Oswego County Department of Social Services


Read Rita

On behalf of the residents of our fair Village of Hannibal, I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank our correspondent to The Valley News.

Rita Hooper has done a great job over MANY years – actually she wrote the column for many years before she and her late husband, the Rev. “Bob” Hooper moved to Pennsylvania to serve a church until his retirement.

They always considered Hannibal to be their home having served the Community Church for 20 years and both sons grew up and graduated from Hannibal Central School.

While Bob and Rita were in Pennsylvania, Bea Scott took over the editorial job for the Hannibal news until the Hoopers returned to Hannibal for their retirement, living several years at Cain’s Corners, a couple miles from the village.

After Bob’s passing, Rita sold her home in the town and moved to an apartment in Fulton. However she let us know she still considers Hannibal “her home” and she still writes the weeky column for The Valley News.

She also returns to the community for most events (even card-playing) and likes to keep up to date and take part in Hannibal activities. We of Hannibal are blessed to have such a go-getter as Rita still representing us.

Hers is no easy task as she prefaces the local activities with a little editorial, usually educating all readers on many topics. She does much research to write these articles.

Many people outside Hannibal mention the fact they saw something in “Rita’s column,” as we call it.

Today she is very active in the First United Church of Fulton. (Once retired from a church the pastor and family are encouraged – sometimes mandated – to not attend their former church.)

But, should you want something about Hannibal to appear in The Valley News it goes without saying be sure to put it in “Rita’s column.” Also, I’ve heard many readers say they can’t wait for Saturday’s paper to see what Rita wrote.

So thanks again to our Hannibal correspondent for a job well done. Keep up the good work, Rita and God Bless.

Louise Kellogg

Village of Hannibal


VALLEY VIEWPOINTS: Majority party needs GPS; Vet fees too high

GPS, rearview mirror needed

The Oswego County majority party in the County Legislature needs to know how to use both of these.

They need the GPS (I would suggest a Garmin) to find out where they are headed because even with as many times you try and tell them something they don’t hear you.

They listen just like some teenagers do when you tell them how important an education is, but just like those teenagers they don’t hear you.

Then they need to learn how to use a rearview mirror and what it shows you when you look into it. A rearview mirror has two functions: First it shows you what is coming at you from behind. Second it shows you where you have been.

I have been a legislator now for three months and I have been to three full legislature meetings and about five committee meetings. The only meeting in which they didn’t spend or authorize to spend money was the first full legislature meeting (I believe).

Now this isn’t their money, it is your money and maybe that is why they think nothing of spending it.

The spending of this money is why they need a GPS. Now I know one of them will say “its unfunded mandates. That is why we spent the money.”

Well the last time I checked the state government has not mandated we put up a new mix plant building in Hastings costing the taxpayers $200,000. It wasn’t mandated for almost $200,000 more that they have passed (needed yes, but not mandated).

I am no way in favor of unfunded mandates. Now I relate these to saving of jobs and we could save at least 10 to 15 jobs without spending this money. The reason I say this is as the experts all say “History repeats itself.”

Ten years ago, the county had a general fund balance of  $5 million (almost broke)and then over the next two years they hit the taxpayers with about 35 percent tax increases. With very watchful spending the county general fund reached a high of about $32 million by 2010.

Now over the last 2 years, we have spent or transferred almost $12 million  so our balance is now down to $20 million. Now if they (county majority party) can’t see where this is headed then that is why they need a GPS.

Another useful tool is the rearview mirror and if they used it they could see that where they have been (2003) is not somewhere they want to go back to.

Even more they could see the facts that if they keep spending money this way, job cuts and double digit tax increases are coming up from behind them. It may not happen this year but mark my words, it will happen.

I know that unions are not in favor of any kind of tax freeze and I can understand why. I would like to see the unions use their power to force Albany to give back the funding for the mandates.

Raises could be given with that funding and without raising costs to the taxpayer.

The fact of the matter is that the taxpayers can’t afford and don’t want any double digit tax increases. What I myself want is a tax freeze that will guarantee single digit tax increases and save the jobs of those workers we now have.

The way the county majority party is spending money, they don’t want any tax freeze because they want to be able to repeat what they did in 2003 and 2004. It’s not right.

Frank Castiglia Jr. 
Oswego County 
Legislator, 25 District


Reduce vet fees

I have a request for all the veterinary services in Oswego County.

We all know the shelters are full of unwanted dogs and cats. I know when you adopt from a shelter there is an initial fee, which covers a vet-check and shots.

Why don’t you offer an additional discount price for further treatment? It doesn’t cost a lot to feed an animal, but the vet costs are getting extreme.

I know, myself, I would gladly adopt another dog if I could afford the vet costs. It would, I’m sure, make adoption more appealing and help the shelters.

Think about empty shelters. What a great thing that would be!


Judy Holmes

Valley Viewpoints

Rule changes needed

The Fulton Softball Association needs some major rule changes.

Every team has to pay a $415 entry fee, $150 players fee and $375 umpire fees for a total of $940 for a 15-game season.

Now let’s look at what they get for their money, 1 and 1 count, mat ball, moved the bases back to 70 feet, 6 to 10 for arc (half the time you can’t throw more than 8 feet), limited home runs, 20 run rule after three innings or 10 run rule after five innings and 1 hour time limit.

These are the reasons why a lot of teams and players wanted me to run the league, because it is not fair to them. They pay all this money and don’t have a say about the rules, why not let them have a say on some of the rules.

They don’t even get to elect their own board members. I have seen a lot of games in the last few years that didn’t go more than 30 minutes, so now they paid $62.66 to pay that game when you divide $940 by 15.

Now you wonder why people quit playing the game.

The fees are too high and the rules only benefit the league.

I have played, coached and sponsored teams in this association for 33 years and seen this association go from being a great place to play to having no fun to play in anymore. Every team should be entitled to play at least 5 innings or an hour and 20 minutes if they ar not at the run rule.

If you want to speed the game up, get rid of the mat and call the game, there are a lot of batters who will take a talk because the mat is too short.

The game is so easy for umpires now and don’t take this wrong guys, because I have umpired a lot of games with your guys and respect every one of you for the job you do.

But the players deserve a lot more than what they are getting for their money. I will say this to you, Mr. Ostrander, that you wrote a letter of recommendation for hiring to the mayor when I worked seasonal for your department not too long ago, along with a lot of aldermen.

Now why all of a sudden the change in what you wrote? So if I can’t take you as a man of your word about  what you wrote in that letter, then what can people believe from you. I offered to run this league for nothing to relieve some of the stress on the businesses that sponsor teams and to bring back the sport. Instead, you hire someone to do it — let’s just keep spending unnessary money.

I am not all about money, I donate a lot of my time to this community. This was my way of giving back to this great sport that my dad and I have played for years.

I guess the only person who truly was a man of his word was Don Smith. He hired me as a scorekeeper, field manager and let me run the first ever fall league in Fulton. He saw the same thing in me that you saw when you wrote that letter.

So it’s not like I don’t have the experience to do the job. In order to be in control of the league, you have to come there and check it out. If someone calls you about the league, you call the president you hired.

Look where that has gotten this league, two years in a row of a couple of teams playing without paying any fees. as the head of the recreation department, you should come there to check up on things, just like you do with War Memorial and North Bay Campgrounds.

This way you know how things are being run and if there are any problems that can be handled differently. Instead let’s just keep chasing things to do out of Fulton, with all these high fees and poor management on your part.

Frank Allen

Former player, coach and sponsor


Saving our part of the planet

I do not recall the date, but clearly remember the moment, when a couple of friends of mine approached me about investing in a company that was making “conversion” kits for the Volkswagen beetle.

These kits would turn your “slug-a-bug” game or in the case of a few in our group, their flower power car, into a dune buggy.

Now being the owner of a Dodge Challenger convertible and a cult follower of anything mopar, I was not interested. DUMB IDEA……needless to say; even though it was a fad of sorts these two went on to make a lot of money.

Investing in your future comes in many forms. Maybe you go after an education to secure a comfortable position that pays you well. You take on leadership and walk in shoes that put you in the crosshairs of the public eye.

You value family, friends, and the simple moments in life that the “busy” crowd chooses to never see. Whatever path(s) you choose to walk down, you have some control over your destiny.

All of those investments in life, good or bad, all of those choices you make daily, and all that shapes you will still put you into one group. We all share a responsibility to take care of our planet.

Now let me clarify, I am not a “tree hugger” don’t know a maple from an ash tree, still get confused over which plastic is recyclable and which type is not. I don’t care if you smoke, I don’t, yet get upset with the idiot who thinks they can flip their cigarette butt out of the car window and it bounces off my windshield.

I am fully aware of the roadside trash, the litter from fast food, the select few who feel that they do not have to make arrangements for trash removal and dump anywhere and those who feel it is easier to just throw things out of the car window.

I cannot change those who will not make an attempt to do what’s right. I cannot wrap myself around the concept of cleaning up the entire planet. Of what I am aware, is that we have some amazing areas right here in our own neighborhoods.

We have it all: forests, trails, lakes, streams, green space, recreational spots, sporting areas and so much more.

So as the legislative member who sits on the EMC Committee (Environmental Management Council) for the County of Oswego, I have finally decided that I am going to get off of my comfy chair sometime during Earth Week, and go out to join a group and pick up the trash and litter of those who do not care about our counties, towns, villages, and neighborhood assets.

My goal is to fill one trash bag. Depending on the spot, that could be a quick commitment, or maybe not.

Will it make a difference? In the big picture of things, nah, not so much. I will feel better for a couple of reasons: I will have engaged in something new for me and……well, if another 500 or 600 people in this county did the same, then maybe we kick the door open a little.

I will go with a group who can tell me, “No, wait, that is recyclable!”  Then maybe in the long run my goal will have to be modified to learn new information and have two bags — one for recyclables and one for trash.

If you would like to join in to help “clean up the earth” in Oswego County, EMC suggests you organize a group or join one to clean up a local park or green space.

You can call 343-4565 or visit to sign up for an Earth Week cleanup project, or for more information.

James Karasek, 

Oswego County Legislator