Category Archives: Columnists

Hodgepodge, by Roy Hodge

No Business Like Snow Business

The first time I mentioned the fateful “S” word in this space was in my third column when the short article was about Fulton’s first winter festival.

“Hey Dad, I went down and signed up for the snow sculpturing contest; it will be fun.”

That’s how the Saturday afternoon adventure started. The family members were gathered together in our front yard at the beginning.  Then, the chief adviser had to leave to do her grocery shopping.

There were a couple of mysterious disappearances, and some shouted directions from inside the window; finally, the fearless leader was alone in the front yard with a 20-foot-long hunk of ice cleverly disguised as a vicious dragon generously slathered with green food coloring.

And then the proud declaration the next day:  “Hey Dad, I won.”

In January, 1980 I wrote about the arrival of winter – “I knew winter weather had finally arrived in Fulton last week when everybody in our household was frantically looking for mittens, boots, snow pants, scarves, etc. . . . and when someone said, How many days until spring?”

“There’s No School Today!”

Adam was worrying about snow days in 1981.

“Since it was snowing hard when we went to bed, I shouldn’t have been surprised by the knock on the bedroom door in the morning.

“Mom, Dad, guess what, there’s no school today.”

There were columns about cross country skiing and neighbor Matt MacDowell, snow blower doctor.  It was Matt’s skillful touch which brought our faithful friend back to life from impending doom time after time.

During ensuing winters, I wrote about how winter weather causes us to reminisce about the hot days of last summer and last year’s vacation; and how some of us brag about our winters: “Our schools are allotted five ‘snow days’ a year but we didn’t use them because we ‘only’ got 200 inches of snow.”

In one column, I was trying to explain what a blizzard was, and in another I was talking about the winters I enjoyed as a kid: “When we were kids we used to think that Syracuse had more snow than other place in the world.”

Years later, living in Fulton certainly changed my mind about that.

Another year I admitted that I was never ready for winter, and the next year I was wondering whether the stormy weather we were getting should or shouldn’t be called a blizzard.

Winter Questions

In February, 1993, I was pondering many questions I had been asked: “Enough snow for you?”, Do you think it will ever stop snowing?”, “Where are we going to put all this snow?”, “How much snow have we got?” “Is there school today?”

And on and on.

As the years went on, I felt like a refugee of winter: “My car doesn’t have one of those electronic voices but if it did I know it would be telling me to ‘Go back inside stupid, it’s 20 degrees below zero out here.’”

I thought I would feel better if I reviewed the “Blizzard of ’66,” and every year I called John Florek at the water works and talked about the city’s depressing snow figures.

As the century turned I was exclaiming. “My car, it’s back, out there on the deck. What I was looking at was our outside cooker with a pile of snow on it.

The cooker itself was the body of the car, the shelf next to it was the hood. There were two little round piles that resembled wheels.  The cooker sits out there all year long and it’s a cooker; we get six inches of snow and it becomes a car.”

251 Inches; Then, “Unsnowiest” Winter

It was March 10, 2001 and Fulton had received 251 inches of snow for the 2000-2001 snow season.

When I called John Florek in January, 2002 he said it had been the “unsnowiest” winter since records had been kept in Fulton.  The city ended up with a total of 100.5 inches of snow that year.

In February 2007, I wrote that Fulton schools were closed for the fourth time in five days.  In January 2009 I was reminded that people in my family, who were farmers, used to say that a year of heavy snow would be a good year later on.

The official proverb puts it this way: “A year of snow, a year of plenty.”

In January 2010, I was telling readers that the first patents for snow plows were issued in the 1840s.  On Feb. 12, 2011, I noted some of us like to see snow in December, not so much in January, a little less in February, and don’t want to hear the word in March.

Monday, Jan. 30, 2012: While I was out in our driveway in Syracuse clearing away 3 inches of light snow, Jeff was in Fulton working on moving 3 feet of a new snowfall around.

A year ago, on Jan. 5, 2013, I was thinking about the winter days my friends and I spent at the dump – the natural in- the-backyards hill at the end of our street – with lots of roller coaster-like bumps and jumps.

Now, it’s January, 2014 – I am supposed to be taking our Christmas tree down, but I’m looking out the window at the 3 or 4 inches of new snow we have received here in Syracuse.

“It’s probably 2 to 3 feet in Fulton,” I thought.

Addendum:  Sometimes I have written about winter and snow at least as early as October – maybe September.

Oct. 6, 1981: After I stumble over the snow tires out in the garage for the fourth or fifth time, I figure that someone thinks it’s time to put them on the car. . . and when the windshield scraper finds its way out of the depth of the trunk, or wherever it has been, the end is really near.

My mind is remembering a Fulton snow storm in March of 1993, after which I was too busy shoveling snow to write a column.

But, after all, it was most likely “just another day” in Fulton’s winter story. The storm that I am remembering happened on Jeff’s birthday; the two of us spent the day shoveling snow.

Happy birthday, Jeff!

. . . Roy Hodge 

In And Around Hannibal, by Rita Hooper

Continuing on District No. 11 South Hannibal   (Hannibal History in Pictures and Prose)

The first schoolhouse in this district is believed to have been constructed around the 1820s.

The schoolhouse was first located on the west side of what is now County Route 7 north of the hamlet center. The building was moved at least four times and eventually served as an annex and parsonage to the Methodist Church before it was federated with the Baptist Church.

The Baptists and Methodists in South Hannibal federated together in 1932 – in 1954, the Rev. Pauline Burdette, suggested moving the Methodist Church from its site on Goodman Road and joining it with the Baptist Church on County Route 7.

A vote was taken and the church family voted in favor of the move, which was completed in 1955. Thereafter it was known as South Hannibal Federal Church.

It has since joined with Hannibal Center Methodist Church to form the South Hannibal-Hannibal Center parish.

After the Methodist Church was moved from Goodman Road to become part of the new federated church, the old school building was sold to Danny Martin.

He converted the  structure into a house still located on Goodman Road.  Later Mr. Stowell purchased it to use as a tenant house for his farm employee.

It again changed hands when David Pierce bought the property. By now, the original school structure has had extensive additions built onto it; but if you look closely you can still tell it was once a schoolhouse.

A second schoolhouse was built about 1854 just south of the Baptist parsonage near the intersection of County Route 7 and Route 176. The lumber for the building was cut locally at the sawmill of Sidney Hulett.

The early teachers received from $1.50-$2 per week for five and one-half days a  week and boarded at sites in the district.  (Boarded means lived with a family – not their own.)

The year was divided into summer and winter terms. Attendance ran as high as 76 or more, with the older pupils really being young adults. Many of the school records were lost when the last South Hannibal store fire occurred.

At the 1877 school district meeting, it was voted to use Quackenbush’s  Arithmetic, Clark’s grammar, Montieth’s geography, the Analytical readers and spellers.

The teacher was paid $7 per week for winter session and $5.50 per week for summer session. In 1880, $1 was paid for cleaning the schoolhouse and a quart of soap cost 7 cents. In 1882, $72.89 was raised by taxes for the support of the school.

Men teachers in those days were earning money to help them go on to study law, medicine or engineering – a stepping stone to some other occupation of a higher caliber. Teaching was not considered a profession as it is now.

Certification was determined by the local school commissioner, not the New York State Board of Regents.

Trustees of District No. 11 over the years included: GV Wolven, SE Rowlee, SD Gardner, William Howland, DD Wells, Merritt Miller, AS Lane, B Wilcox, George Barlow, EJ Wells, CW Haws, Milton Terpening, FA Miller, George Hines, George Blake, Arthur Goodman, FN Palmer, Lynn Randall, George Baldwin, William Summerville, William reedy, Murray Megraw, Phillip Haws, Ivan Blake, Raymond Hovey, Fran Beadle, Gordon Dibble and Charles Warner.

Among some of the early teachers were 1857 Truman Showers, 1858 Miss Earl, 1859 Elizabeth Schenk.

Teachers in the 1930s-40s were: 1930-31 Marion Andrews and Frances Graves, 1933-34 Nellie Gifford and Aneita Graves, 1937-38 Mrs. L. Mae Signor, 1938 Mrs. Gordon Sturge (Gordon Sturge was also a teacher and town historian,) 1938-43 Hazel Chaffee, 1943-44 Mae Pellett Rogers ( Mr. Rogers ran Roger’s Mill in Hannibal Center,) 1945-46 Reta Merriam, 1945-46 Rowena Godfrey, Mae March and in 1946-49 Vivian Megaw, who was the last person to teach in District No. 11 before centralization.

Centralization signaled the end of the South Hannibal School as an independent district. Those in attendance for the last school session in 1949 included Diane Chillson, John and Joyce Crego, Elaine Dibble, Ruth Ann Hovey, Sandra Ingison, Jean and Kay Lewchanin, Mable, Leon, Harold and Charles Reynolds, Harold and Christine Roe, Robert Rogers, Jerry Toloff, Luella and Lela Summervile, Bobby Van Buren and Robert Wade.

However for a year or so after centralization, a grade was bused out to the school from Hannibal while an addition was being built onto the Hannibal High School

Eventually the schoolhouse was sold and now has disappeared from the scene.  In it’s place stands the home of Joan Wallace (as of 1994.)

*****************************

The Hannibal Fire Company Auxiliary will hold its Sunday Breakfast Buffet from 8 to 11 a.m. Jan. 26 at the firehouse on Oswego Street. It’s the first breakfast of the New Year.

The Senior Meals Program meets Monday, Wednesday and Friday for lunch at noon. The center opens at 10 for those who want to come early and read the newspaper or get caught up on what’s happening ‘bout town.

Jig-saw puzzles and games are always available.

Give Rosemary a call and make your reservation, 564-5471.

This week’s menu is:

Monday — Reuben noodle casserole, vegetable, juice, fruit cup

Wednesday — Cooks’ choice (call for specifics)

Friday — Turkey sloppy Joe, baked potato, peas and carrots, orange juice, peaches

Activities — Monday, Wii bowling;     Wednesday, bingo after lunch; Friday,   snowman races

On Monday, those at the center will participate in a Wii bowling tournament against other centers and beyond.  Come join their team, or just be a spectator!

The Elderberries will meet at noon Tuesday for a covered dish luncheon. Do join them – bring your own table service and a dish to pass.

The Senior Council would like to remind you that its rooms are available for groups and family rental when not being otherwise used. Give Rosemary a call for information and booking at 564-5471.

The Library has a new raffle basket, Winter Warm Up. Drawing is Jan. 31.

Hannibal Home & School will meet at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 4 at Fairley school, Room 30.

Don’t forget to donate your register tapes at the Village Market and your deposit cans to N&N Redemption so that community organizations can reap the benefits!

The Hannibal Village Board meets the second Monday of the month.

The Hannibal Town Board meets the third Wednesday of the month.

The Hannibal Planning Board meets the first Thursday of the month.

All meetings are held at the Municipal Building on Cayuga Street at 7 p.m. and are open to the public. Help yourself and your community by attending.

I can’t write it unless I have it – so you know what to do…phone or e-mail me with your clubs or organization’s info.

By the way, I’m writing to you from Texas (I’m off to Florida tomorrow – have to do some research on what’s happening with the Hannibalites who winter in Florida) so I don’t have access to snail mail or hands on observation, so please give me a call or e-mail me.  Thanks!

Rita Hooper 706-3564

Twohoops2@juno.com

Bodley Bulletins, by Julia Ludington

I hope all students and their families enjoyed their long weekend.

We are almost at the mid-year mark, and things at GRB are getting quite busy.

The GRB Environmental Club has recently implemented a new kind of recycling in the building called terracycling.

Instead of just recycling water bottles and soda cans, students can now recycle plastic products, including yogurt containers, apple sauce containers and lids, and many other items.

Students also can bring in items from home. These include empty shampoo, conditioner and shower gel bottles, as well as cream cheese and sour cream containers.

For a more complete list of items, visit www.terracycle.com.

Terracycling is not only good for the Earth, but it will help the Environmental Club raise money to install more water bottle-filling stations in the high school and elementary schools. Every little bit helps. Parents, send your kids in with these items if you have them, please.

Students who are taking a Regents exam during the upcoming Regents week should double check with their teachers to determine what time their exam is, what they need to bring and ask any last-minute questions.

The best advice the day before a test is this: get a good night’s sleep and eat a good breakfast.

You will be on your way to success if you are well rested. Avoid cramming and staying up late — this will only hurt you in the end. Walk into the test with confidence and you are sure to do well.

A Sportsman’s World — Smelt Fishing, by Leon Archer

By Leon Archer

I have many fond memories of smelt fishing with my father and additional memories of doing the same with some of my children.

I am confident many of my readers remember the great spring smelt runs with the same relish that I do, their thoughts very likely mixed with the same despondency that comes to me as I mourn the collapse of the smelt population.

There are still rainbow smelt in Lake Ontario, but their numbers have fallen to a level where very few hardy souls still search for them on cold spring nights, at least in the streams of the Eastern Ontario basin.

In the 1950s and 60s, when the lake’s water temperature hit 42 degrees, the smelt would move onshore for their annual spawning run. Fishermen by the hundreds would be waiting for them dressed in warm clothes and waders, holding their long handled nets.

The catching was easy, the cleaning arduous the next day. The delicious aroma of frying smelt could be detected escaping from homes on every block. The smelt was a fish for the common man, but all good things come to an end.

The decline of smelt populations has occurred over much of their range, not just in Lake Ontario, and there is no one reason that fisheries biologists have been able to single out as the culprit. It appears smelt have been negatively affected by a combination of factors. Among them are: the huge increase of major predators due to stocking of trout and salmon, the invasion of the zebra mussel, alewives and overfishing.

Probably the greatest factor at work in their decline in Ontario has been the decrease in the food they eat, both as fry and as young adults. A high percentage of the microorganisms needed for smelt fry survival are filtered out of the water by zebra mussels, and alewives, causing a great loss of baby smelt due to starvation.

Alewives (mooneyes to some) prey on the slightly larger organisms that the tiny surviving smelt need to continue growing, plus they also consume large numbers of smelt fry. It is a tough life for smelt right from the beginning, and the survival rate is extremely low during the first year of their lives.

As soon as the remaining smelt are large enough to migrate to the open lake away from the near shore (one to two years depending on growth rate), they join whatever smelt school they encounter and spend the rest of their life searching for food and trying to avoid trout and salmon.

Overfishing was not a significant factor on smelt while there were huge shoals of them throughout Ontario. They could absorb man’s overenthusiastic harvests and still grow their numbers back in the 50s and 60s. There was no creel limit on Ontario’s smelt in those days.

Things began changing in the 1970s and 80s, and smelt runs began their decline, almost unnoticed at first. Catches of washtubs full of smelt slowly gave way to a few five gallon buckets full of smelt and then to small buckets partly full.

The day finally came when men no longer swarmed onto the beach in the night at Selkirk State Park and Port Ontario in April and May in search of smelt. The runs had become only a memory.

As I said, there are still smelt in Lake Ontario. They are smaller and far less numerous, but they are there. I’ve heard rumors that a few are still caught in Oswego Harbor each spring, but it’s been at least 25 years since I’ve taken my Coleman lantern and gone smelting.

I do miss it, but I’m not sure I would go again even if they made a comeback here in the Oswego County area. I miss the excitement and camaraderie, but I’m not crazy about late nights and cold, plus the occasional dunking.

Should you have a hankering to try to regain a bit of those smelt fishing days of yesteryear, you could give it a try on the western end of the lake. They still get a pretty good run on the Niagara River.

It’s sort of a long drive for little fish, and the daily limit is eight quarts of smelt. The place to go, if you are so inclined, is Lewiston. There is plenty of parking by the dock area, and it’s open to dipping for smelt. The run can be as early as late March, but usually comes in April.

Lewiston is a little too far to run to just take a chance or to see if they are running, but you can find out when the run is on if you would like to take the trip.

It’s possible to stay abreast of the smelt run by checking www.outdoorsniagara.com. There is a regular fishing update on the site all year long, and it will make it easy for you to zero in on the best time to go.

Could be fun to get some of your fishing buddies together to share the expenses and catch some smelt once more in memory of the old days. If you go, let me know.

Hodgepodge, by Roy Hodge

Reading Old News

Packing away the Christmas decor-ations is a part of the holiday routine that I don’t particularly enjoy.

Like almost everything that “has to be done,” that job is not a whole lot of fun.

But, there is a small part of the process that I like and even look forward to. I enjoy looking through and reading some of the old papers used to wrap everything up before it is put in boxes to go back in the attic.

Since we use the same papers for a few years, until they are useless, it is an opportunity to jog my memory, news wise.

A story about celebrities observing their 60th birthday during the year ahead was the feature article on a newspaper page dated Jan. 6, 2006. President Bill Clinton, Dolly Parton and former Yankee Reggie Jackson would all turn 60 in 2006 according to the article.

The next day, on Jan. 7, 2006, President Bush shrugged off a report showing weaker than expected job growth and declared that “the American economy heads into 2006 with a full head of steam.”

Some of the pages that have been wrapped around our ornaments for a couple of years include a tattered half page from a Jan. 5, 2012 newspaper. One of the half stories on that page is about Alexander Gardner, a Civil War era photographer.

Gardner is credited with taking some of the Civil War’s most famous photos – photos of the Civil War battlefield at Antietam, stark pictures of the hanging of the Lincoln conspirators, and portraits of Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant and George McClellan.

The well-worn comics page from another 2012 issue features the antics of Garfield, Mother Goose and Grimm, Gasoline Alley, Blondie’s Dagwood and his boss, Mr. Dithers, Beetle Bailey and Charlie Brown.

On Dec. 3, 2008 a front page headline wondered “Do Weather Forecasters Really Have a Clue About This Winter?”  The answer: “Nope, Not This Year.”  So what’s new?, or in this instance, “What’s Old?”

A Trip Back in Time

I enjoy going to the jazz concerts hosted by the Jazz Appreciation Society of Syracuse (J.A.S.S.).  The musicians are usually familiar to the club’s members – Sunday it was the “Djug Django” group from Ithaca, well known for their Django Reinhardt arrangements. Reinhardt is often regarded as the greatest guitar player of all time.

Concert attendees are always happy to hear the band’s stylized renditions of old standards.

“Two Sleepy People” was written in 1938 by Hoagy Carmichael and Frank Loesser. It was recorded by Carmichael himself, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin and others and was performed in the film, “Thanks for the Memories,” by Bob Hope and Shirley Ross.

“Nagasaki” was a popular Tin Pan Alley hit written in 1928 by Harry Warren and Mort Dixon. The most famous rendition of the song at the time was by the Benny Goodman Quintet.

“Straighten Up and Fly Right” was written in 1943 by Nat King Cole and Irving Mills, performed by the King Cole Trio featuring some great lyrics by Cole – with a monkey telling a buzzard to “Straighten up and fly right, Cool down Papa, don’t blow your top.”

A Tribute to the “Emperor”!

The band also offered their versions of other favorites – “Brazil,” “Frankie and Johnny,” “Get That Jive, Jack,” “Creole Love Song” and “Take the A Train,” two Duke Ellington hits; “Sleepy Time Down South,” Louis Armstrong’s longtime theme song, ”Emperor Norton’s Hunch,” and a lot others.

“Emperor Norton’s Hunch” is one of my favorite traditional jazz songs. It is alive and peppy, a real rouser which tells a story through music of a real person.

The real person was Joshua Abraham Norton, an Englishman who came to San Francisco, accumulated a fortune, lost the fortune, left San Francisco; he returned to the city several years later a little bit “mentally unbalanced”, and claimed himself as the “Emperor of the United States”.

His “reign” over the city lasted 21 years; the city’s residents loved him and when the Emperor died in 1880, up to 30,000 of them lined the streets of the city in a two-mile funeral cortege to pay homage.

It’s all portrayed in this happy, peppy musical tribute without words – which even contains a chance for some audience participation.

It was a good time with good friends and good music.

Fulton’s snow

When I called John Florek at the Fulton Water Works on Tuesday to ask about snow figures, I told him that I had been calling him for facts and figures for many years.

“This is our 39th season of keeping track,” John said. “Sam Vescio was here in ’75-’76, and I came on for the ’76-’77 season.”  I knew that it had been a long time, but I’m not sure that I wanted to know exactly how long.

Getting back to this year, I was talking to John for the first time this winter, and quickly learned that as of Jan. 13, 75.8 inches of snow had been recorded at the Water Works.

He also told me that the normal amount for that date is 78.0 inches.  Well, I thought, we’re doing okay in that department.

Last year on the same date that total was 53.9 inches and the city finished up with a total snowfall amount of 206 inches. Oh, oh.

I knew from experience that once John starts talking about Fulton’s snowfall he doesn’t need a lot of encouragement to keep going. He talked along enough Tuesday to tell me that the lowest amount of snow Fulton had received by Jan. 13 during the years of record keeping was 15.25 inches in 2002. During 1996, the city had received 169.25 inches through that date.

So far, we seem to be doing okay, but   . . .  keep those shovels handy.

                                   . . . Roy Hodge 

Light In The Darkness

“It is God Who works in me both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”   (Phil. 2:13).

Nothing is more important in the life of the children of God than becoming fully persuaded that God does indeed lead his children on their journey from earth to heaven.

Besides building your confidence in God, I hope that this brief message helps you to face the great decisions of life. I hope it helps you this very week as you come to those moments when you must decide, when you come to those crossroads that everybody comes to, and you must make a decision.

It is my prayer that you will have confidence that God is leading you in exactly the direction he wants you to go.

Since God is in control of the minute details of life, you can relax, knowing that he will reveal his plan for your life step by step. God’s will is more like a sunrise than a sunburst.

Early in the morning the sun begins to peek above the eastern horizon. At first the sky lightens, then the first rays streak across the sky, then the rim of the sun begins to rise slowly from the earth.

Eventually the whole sun is revealed, rising until it dominates the sky, giving light to the earth, driving the darkness away.

God’s will is like that. At first we see his plan dimly, then the outline begins to emerge. Slowly over time, the clouds vanish, the darkness disappears, and the brightness of his presence fills our lives.

Do you get anxious at sunrise because all you can see is the tiny rim of the sun? No, because you know that you only have to wait to see the sun in all its brilliance.

The same is true of God’s plan for your life. We never see the whole thing in advance, but if we wait long enough, God reveals his will.

So relax! God is in charge. Soon enough the darkness will vanish and all that is vague will be made perfectly clear. God is in charge and he knows exactly what he is doing in your life.

Our response might be expressed in a prayer like this, “Loving Father, teach us to trust you. We want clear direction, and you say, ‘Give Me your heart.’ When we want precise answers, you say, “Trust me to do right.”

When we want to know about tomorrow, you say, “Follow me today.” So, Lord, help us today to give You our hearts individually and personally. Make us willing to be made willing to do your will in everything. We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Then, as you walk through the day, express confidence that these words are true; “I am led by the Spirit of God for I am a son (or daughter) of God.”   (Romans 8:14)

(Adapted with permission from author Dr. Ray Pritchard)

Pastor David M. Grey

Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church

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.

 

State Senate Report, by state Sen. Patricia Ritchie

I’ve always been a dog person and today, couldn’t imagine life without my lovable yellow lab “Gunner.” That’s why I’m pleased to report that just recently, a measure I cosponsored to allow municipalities to regulate pet dealers was signed into law.  The new law will give local governments the authority to enact stronger measures to protect the well-being of animals and will help to crack down on puppy mills—inhumane commercial dog-breeding facilities that may sell animals in pet stores, online or directly to the public. 

Not only am I working to prevent animal abuse, I’m also working to spotlight the hundreds of pets across Central and Northern New York who are looking to be adopted into caring homes.

That’s why I’m teaming up with the local animal shelters to feature “Pets of the Week,” on my website, www.ritchie.nysenate.gov, and on my Facebook page.  There, you’ll also find contact information for local shelters that are home to hundreds of other animals looking for loving caregivers.

According to recent statistics, an estimated 2.7 million healthy shelter pets are not adopted each year, and only about 30 percent of pets in homes come from shelters and rescues. If you’re considering adopting, it’s important to remember that bringing a new pet into your home is a big step that comes with a lot of responsibilities.  Here are several guidelines you can use to determine if you’re ready:

  • ** Make sure you have the financial resources necessary to care for a pet—that includes being able to budget enough money to pay for veterinarian visits, food, toys, bedding collars and other necessities;

** Is your home ready for a pet?  If you rent, it’s important to determine whether your landlord allows pets, and if so, what types.  In addition, the size of your home should also complement the type of pet you select.  For example, smaller dogs, like Dachshunds, Pugs and Cocker Spaniels are well-suited for apartments and larger dogs such as Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds need more room;

** You should also determine whether you have the time in your schedule to care for a pet.  Pets cannot be ignored when you are tired or busy, and require food, water, regular exercise and other types of care every day of the year;

** Is your family ready?  If you have little ones under the age of six, you may want to consider waiting a few years before you adopt, as younger children typically have a more difficult time understanding the way to properly handle a pet;

When you adopt a pet, you not only open your home, you open your heart too.  If you’re ready to care for a pet, I encourage you help an animal in need by considering adopting from a local shelter today.