Category Archives: Columnists

A Sportsman’s World, by Leon Archer

My next year at deer camp was the charm.

Back in the late 1950s, the last day of deer season in the Southern Tier was “Doe Day.” Anyone who had not filled their deer tag could take a doe if one came along. As you might well expect, Doe Day was a big draw and everybody and their uncle was in the woods for a last chance at putting some venison in the freezer.

Our group was no exception.

On Doe Day I was out in the woods before dawn. It had snowed a couple of inches the night before, and it meant that deer would be easier to see. I had a spot where I knew deer had been coming through from time to time. I was counting on hunters outside the valley we were in to move some deer our way, hopefully coming by my watch. Amazingly, I remained on my watch until 8:20 that morning, and it paid off.

I saw a couple of deer moving down through the hardwoods above me, and my mouth got dry and my heart started beating faster. I tried wishing the deer to come close enough for me to get a shot. I was hunting with a 30/40 Kraig rifle that I had purchased during the summer, and I was pretty sure I could hit any deer that got within 100 yards.

Those deer vanished as they moved away from me into a bunch of hemlock trees. I was bummed out, but then I saw a single deer that was actually coming in my direction. I hunkered down, my mouth still dry, my rifle resting over the log I was sitting by.

Closer and closer the deer came, but I resisted the urge to shoot when it got into shooting range. I figured as long as it continued on its course, I would be wise to let it get even closer. It was a good plan, and the deer passed where I was sitting at a range of about 30 yards. It stopped behind some small spruces, but I could see its head.

At the crack of the rifle, the deer disappeared. At first I was afraid I had missed it, but as I stood up I could see legs kicking where the deer had been. I ran to where I had seen the legs, and there was my deer. I thought it was a doe, but instead it was a button horn buck. I didn’t care what it was as long as it was a deer and it was mine.

By the time I got to the deer, it had stopped kicking. It had actually been dead a split second after I shot; a 30/40 to the head will accomplish that quite easily. I got to field dress my first deer all by myself, and I like to think even today that I did a great job of it. I was so proud that I almost popped my buttons, my chest stuck out so far. I fastened the front legs up around the neck of the little buck with my dragging rope and hauled him back to our camp.

That night when I got back to Sandy Creek and presented my deer to my father, was one of the high points in my young life. I felt somehow like I had arrived. Later in the week, dad showed me how to go about butchering my venison. Nothing has ever tasted as good before or since as my venison that my mother cooked and put on the family table.

The following year at deer camp, I took another deer on Doe Day, but it was new landmark for me. That deer was a large doe that I shot with my trusty 30/40.

There were five does running about 100 yards away in an open field. It was a quartering shot going away, and I wasn’t very confident that I could hit one of them.

They showed no sign of stopping, so I drew down on the last deer in the group and fired. To my surprise, the deer faltered, indicating that I had hit it. The five deer went into a thicket at the other side of the field.

I watched and saw four deer come out the far side before going out of sight in the field, but the fifth deer remained in the thicket.

Fellow hunter, Leon Canale, remained behind watching from where I had shot, while I took off across the field for the thicket. I struck the deer tracks and soon came upon hair and blood. There was a considerable amount of blood from that point into the thicket, and I expected to find the deer dead up ahead.

As it turned out, the deer was still alive and attempted to leave the cover as I entered it. One more shot from my rifle and it was all over.

It was a mature doe, much larger than the little button horn I had gotten the year before. I say it was a new landmark, because I had shot it on the run, and it was out at a pretty good distance. I have always had great confidence in my own shooting ability since that day.

That night I was not feeling very well as we headed back north, but I was still elated by my trophy. I was feeling sicker when I got home, and early the next morning my father took me to Doctor Reed.

He in turn sent us to the hospital in Watertown, because he said I had appendicitis. The doctors at the hospital checked me over and told my father I had some sort of stomach bug. They gave me ginger ale and put me in bed.

The following morning they brought me in coffee and orange juice which I promptly barfed onto the floor. The doctors came in, checked my temperature and pushed on my abdomen which was painful.

They called my parents and told them they were going to do an emergency appendectomy. As it turned out I had a ruptured appendix, and it took a long time to get me cleaned out.

I was a sick puppy for a couple days, with two tubes draining my abdomen and one down my throat. I got so many shots of penicillin that I lost track. The doctors told my parents that I had nearly died, and it was seven days before I finally went home.

And thus ended my deer camp adventures. Most of us went off to college, and I never hunted there again, but the camp still has a place in my heart and mind.

Bodley Bulletins, by Julia Ludington

Some very exciting things have been happening lately at G. Ray Bodley.

Last Wednesday, students participated in the second Oswego County Academic Youth League competition of the year.

I am proud to say that our very own team won first place out of seven total teams from other Oswego County school districts.

The task was challenging and required a lot of creativity. The students had to create their very own high school.

The curriculum of the high school had to be of New York State standard, but they were free to come up with 7.5 credits worth of electives for students that attended the high school.

The students had to specify if the electives were full or half-year courses, how many credits they were worth, and describe the material taught in the class as well as what activities would take place.

In addition, the team had to perform an infomercial encouraging students to attend their school, come up with a mission statement, and create a brochure.

Senior students and their parents should mark their calendars for Dec. 9, as this will be GRB’s Financial Aid night.

Information regarding how to apply for financial aid to help pay for college will be provided. The session will begin at 7 p.m. in the auditorium.

The spring musical has been revealed. Quirk’s Players will be performing “Curtains,” a comedy, this coming March. The musical is always amazingly well done and I encourage attending to support our actors, actresses, and musicians.

The boys’ varsity and JV basketball teams have a scrimmage today at Red Creek High School, and the girls’ varsity basketball team has a scrimmage tomorrow against Solvay at Solvay High School.

The teams are working hard for their upcoming games.

Come out and support and visit the district website to see when upcoming games for our winter sports will be taking place.

Editor’s note: This edition of Bodley Bulletins was supposed to run in the Nov. 20 issue of The Valley News. We regret the error.

In and Around Hannibal

Moving along at our usual rapid rate, I bring you news from School District No. 5 in beautiful downtown Fairdale.

The exact date of the construction of the first school in Fairdale is not known, but would have been in the early 1800s. It was a red brick structure and contained seats with writing desks running around the inside.

The schoolhouse, like so many others of the day, was used as a Christian meeting house on Sundays.

In this instance, it was the Methodists who used the structure. In addition, many funeral services were held there, often under the direction of Harvey Randall. It was said his manners were perfect and had undertaking been in vogue, he would have found his vocation.

Eventually, a larger schoolhouse was built to the east of the intersection of County Route 7 and Old Route 3. Usually two teachers were employed there. For small classes, the cloakroom sometimes doubled as a classroom.

About 1934, the main classroom was partitioned into two classrooms.

The original school was sold to Dennis Broderick, who proceeded to add a second story. He then used the remodeled structure as both a residence and a grocery store.  Later on, the grocery business was operated in partnership with Melnychuk and Penkala.

Many years ago, Mr. and Mrs. Noah Wright lived near the school and when any of the students got sick they went to Mrs. Wright for comfort. The couple also had a number of fruit trees and it wasn’t uncommon for them to share the fruit with the youngsters.  For several years, Mrs. Raynor held the school library and kept the scholars supplied with good books.

In 1850, Miss McDugall taught in Fairdale – there is a more complete list of the early teachers in the Hannibal Historical Society’s Hannibal in History and Prose. Teachers beginning in 1927 were Bertha Youngs and Marie Gallagher, who taught there until 1933 with fellow teachers Marjorie Jackson, Kenneth Upcraft Winfred Beckwith.

Howard Wilson and Flossie Kellogg taught together from 1933-41. Joanne Baldwin and Lois Chaffee taught in Fairdale from 1941-43, Clara Smith and Mildred B. Johnson from 43-45, Minnie Perkins and Lena C. Ward 45-46.

In 1946-47 Minnie Perkins and Lois Chaffee worked together. Emily Cox and Lois Chaffee worked together in 1947 and 48, and Emily Cox and Evelyn Baldwin in 1948 and 49.

After centralization the schoolhouse was sold. It has since been converted into a private residence but still maintains the outline of an old schoolhouse and is easily recognized as such.  It is located next to Deb’s Diner in Fairdale.

As always I look for people who can fill in with any additional information about teachers, students and neighbors in Fairdale.  So send me an e-mail or give me a call!

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Well folks, the weekend you’ve been waiting for has finally arrived.  Hannibal officially kicks off the Christmas season this weekend with the 10th Annual Country Christmas this Saturday and Sunday.

Town merchants and organizations will be greeting guests, running specials and offering holiday treats. Each merchant will also be offering a door prize.

The Friends of the Library will hold their annual Christmas Tree Festival. Visitors to the Community Center, 162 Oswego St., can bid on decorated trees and wreaths from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

The theme for this year’s Festival is “The Polar Express.” Trees and Wreaths decorated with theme decorations will be eligible to win “The People’s Choice” Award.” Look for the featured Pet Tree.

The Annual Thanksgiving Raffle Basket is at the library full of great stuff for your holiday. It has a gift card from the Village Market, gift certificate from Travis Floral, turkey platter, tablecloths and more. Drawing is Nov. 24.

If you have ordered this year’s Christmas ornament from the Historical Society you may pick it up this weekend at the Library.

The Hannibal United Methodist Church, 320 Church St., is sponsoring a craft show from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. A soup, sandwich and homemade pie lunch will be served 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Takeouts are available.

God’s Vision Christian Church, 326 Church Street, will be holding an open house and tour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. There will be refreshments.

The Hannibal Fire Company Auxiliary Breakfast with Santa from 8 to 11 a.m.  Sunday Nov. 24 at the Firehouse on Oswego Street. Pictures with Santa 9 to 10:30 a.m. provided free by C. Perkins Photography

Our Lady Of The Rosary Famous Chicken and Biscuit will be tempting your palette from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 24.

On Sunday afternoon, the Hannibal Historical Society is hosting The Village Christmas Tree Lighting Festival. This event starts at 4 p.m. in the Village Square, with the arrival of Santa Claus. At 4:15 students from Kami’s Kix Dance Studio will perform.

Community organizations involving students have been invited to set up tables where children can make crafts or families can make purchases.  At 4:45 The Port Byron Brass will begin playing songs of the season. Door prize drawings will take place, followed by the children’s parade and the lighting of the Christmas Tree in the Village Square. Each child who attends this event will receive a gift from Santa, and be given an ornament to hang on the Village Christmas Tree.

There will be a community Thanksgiving Service following the tree lighting – about 6 p.m. at the Hannibal Methodist Church, 1 block west of the village square on Church Street (Route 3.) The Rev. Dean Flemming will bring the message and refreshments will be served. You are asked to bring groceries for the Hannibal Resource Center…they are anticipating  they will need food for 2500 meals over the Thanksgiving weekend.

The Country Christmas merchants and organizations look forward to seeing everyone, and are excited to kick off this 2013 holiday season.

Hannibal Senior Dining Center meets at noon for dinner at the Senior Center (Library Building) on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Come early for coffee and news or to work on a jigsaw puzzle or  play games or just some idle chit-chat. Give Rosemary a call and make your reservation, 564-5471.

This week’s menu is:

Monday: Baked chicken, garlic red potatoes, vegetable blend, juice, jello

Wednesday: Roast pork w/gravy, sweet potatoes, Brussel sprouts & carrots, ice cream

Friday: Center closed.

Activities: Monday, Ellen Wahl from RSVP will be here to talk to anyone interested in volunteering; Chris Parks from OCO will be here also to meet with volunteers and volunteer wannabees. On Wednesday, there will be a hot game of BINGO after lunch.

Kenney Middle School is holding a BoxTops for Education contest. Two students that bring in the most BoxTops in one week win free ice cream from the cafeteria. Anyone who brings in five or more BoxTops in one week is entered in a drawing for a large cheese pizza from the Village Market. The contest runs through Dec. 16.

The student who brings in the most BoxTops for the contest will win a Bowling Party.  Anyone that brings in 5 or more BoxTops during the contest will be entered in drawings for several prizes. Each BoxTops are worth 10 cents to the school.  We have raised over $ 600 for the school so far this year.  All monies earned benefit programs for the students.

We also have a new collection box at the Village Market for your convenience.

The Village Market (IGA) will be hosting their annual Christmas Luncheon for seniors at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10. This is free and no registration is needed. The high school music department will provide music for your enjoyment.

Life is just so full of choices this time of year…

The Elderberry Christmas Dinner will be at noon Dec. 10 at the American Legion. Catered by Brenda Fletcher. Call George Darling and make your reservation today.

The Hannibal Senior Band will be presenting their Holiday Concert at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10 in the Lockwood Auditorium. This concert will feature the Jazz Ensemble and the Concert Band presenting many familiar carols and winter songs. Audience members are asked to bring a donation for the Christmas Bureau.

Prior to the concert band members will serve their annual complimentary lasagna holiday dinner for local senior citizens in the high school cafeteria beginning at 6:15 p.m. Community seniors wishing to attend should make a reservation by calling 564-7910 extension 4132 before Dec. 9.

Shirts ‘N Skirts, Square Dance Club, meets from 7 to 9:30 p.m. every Friday at the Fulton Municipal Building, South First Street. All ages are welcome, under 16 years old must be accompanied by an adult. Info: 591-0093 or email information@shirtsandskirts.org

Remember this column is about and for the people of Hannibal and the surrounding area.  If you have an event that you would like the public to know about, send me an e-mail or give me a quick call. Rita Hooper, 706-3564, twohoops2@juno.com

State Senate Report, by state Sen. Patty Ritchie

How does hundreds of extra dollars in your pocket each year sound?

If you’re a homeowner, that’s what you could be receiving through the state’s STAR program, which provides 2.6 million homeowners in New York state — including nearly 85,000 in our region — with savings on their school property tax bills each year.

Recently, dozens of people in the Central and Northern New York region re-registered for the program through my STAR workshops, held in Pulaski, Watertown and Gouverneur. Made possible with the help of local assessors, these events helped those who currently receive Basic STAR re-register for the benefit.

A new state law mandates re-registering to streamline administration of the program and help prevent fraud. The requirement does not affect senior homeowners enrolled in Enhanced STAR.

The Basic STAR exemption is available for owner-occupied, primary residences where the combined income of resident owners and their spouses is $500,000 or less. Married couples with multiple residences are only eligible to receive one Basic STAR exemption.

I’ve been working hard to spread the word about re-registering for this money-saving program, and as a result, more than 1,100 homeowners have clicked through my website to reapply online for Basic STAR.  But, state officials say more than 20,000 Basic STAR enrollees in our region still need to re-register.

Recently, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a warning regarding deceptive STAR program solicitations. State officials said companies have been sending letters to homeowners offering to help them apply for their Basic STAR exemption in exchange for the first year’s tax savings.

Please know if you’re a homeowner, you can reapply on your own for free.

If you still need to re-register, you can find a link to do so on my website, www.ritchie.nysenate.gov.  You can also call the special STAR hotline at (518) 457-2036.  Representatives will be available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Jerry’s Journal

The night the lights went out: 

How many people remember that night of the Northeast Power Failure?

Mary Ann Cartner does. With her permission, I share with you now her personal account of that very scary event:

“It was a dark, cold and rain-stormy night in Buffalo, New York on November 9, 1965. I was expecting my first child and was home alone as my husband was working the night shift.

“I lay on the couch covered with an afghan while listening to a Canadian radio station. The music playing was soothing and I started to doze off when suddenly it sounded as though the music was playing on a warped record.

“The lights went out. The room was silent except for the sound of heavy raindrops on the parlor windows. There was total darkness and I thought a fuse blew, but I had no flashlight so I couldn’t take the chance to get to the basement.

“I eventually found the way to my bedroom and was happy that we had a gas space heater to keep me warm until the power finally came back on. My son was born two days later on Nov. 11, 1965.”

I thank Mary Ann for her memory-sharing and for suggesting a website about the ‘Power Failure” that, according to the New York Times, not only snarled the Northeast, but left 800,000 caught in subways in NYC, tied up auto traffic, left the city groping in the dark, and lasted for 13 hours.

“The snarl at rush hour in New York City spread into nine northeastern states and two provinces of southeastern Canada. Some 80,000 square miles, in which perhaps 25 million people live and work,” the reporter Peter Kihss wrote.

The lights and the power went out first at 5:17 p.m. somewhere along the Niagara frontier of New York state and spread outward from there. “The tripping of automatic switches hurled the blackout eastward across the state” and all over the northeast… “It was like a pattern of falling dominoes,” he said.

While some people wondered if sabotage was the cause, that idea was dismissed by the government and soon after President Lyndon Johnson called for a study of the power failure and a task force was formed.

 In Popular Culture: 

With my curiosity wetted by Mary Ann’s email and the write up in the New York Times, I googled Wikipedia (the free online encyclopedia) to learn what the study showed.

“The cause of the failure was human error,” it basically said, and that “a lack of voltage and current monitoring was a contributing factor to the blackout.”

That discounts the sabotage notion but, if you’re a fan of UFO sightings, this is what the section of Wikipedia entitled “In Popular Culture” has to say about an idea that continues to float around even today:

“When no cause for the blackout was immediately apparent, several UFO writers (including John G. Fuller, in his book Incident at Exeter) postulated that the blackout was caused by UFOs. This was evident by numerous sightings of UFOs near Syracuse prior to the blackout.”

Well, Dear Reader, I don’t know much about UFOs in and around Syracuse or anywhere else, but I do know that Mary Ann’s recollection is sure to prompt a lot of memories for many of you out there.

Do you remember what were you doing that dark night 48 years ago? (PS: not every place in the Northeast had a long blackout because they had their power plant.)

Sunrise, sunset:

As it has become the custom over the years — my mother used to do it and before her my grandmother — I will be hosting several of my family members to sit down to a turkey dinner with all the trimmings with Ed and me on Thanksgiving Day.

Actually, everyone — men and women and children — help out with the food, the table setting up and the cleaning up afterward. I couldn’t do it other wise.

As I tell my kids, I want to do it as long as I can. When I can’t, I say, they will have to take over at one of their houses!

My mother’s been gone a year and I miss her. My grandmother’s been gone several years and I still miss her. That’s how it goes, years fly by and people you love come and go.

That’s why, as I grow older, I have become more aware of this “sunrise, sunset” thing they sing about in “Fiddler on the Roof”.

We humans sure do fiddle a lot of our life away, spending too much of our time on things that don’t really count.

Why aren’t we grateful for the goodness in our lives instead of dwelling on all the bad things we have no control over? Who cares if So and So does such and such? Aren’t they struggling with how to get through this life like everybody else is?

Watching the news on TV and seeing so much misery in this world makes me wonder what the heck I have to complain about.

Sure, I have my share of old age aches and pains, but who doesn’t? And sure, my house is not quite as tidy as it used to be, but who’s to judge?

And if I sit in my recliner with my feet up and rest a little more than I used to, so what?  I have it good. That’s all there is to it. I hope you do, too. Happy Bird-day, everyone.

Now, here’s my caveat: Reader beware! I write for fun. I am not a historian, nor a reporter. I write from memory and from what others want to share. Sometimes I look things up; sometimes I mess things up.

I hope you have fun reading my stuff. Your comments, additions and corrections are always welcome.

You may contact me at 133 Tannery Lane, Fulton, phone 592-7580 or email JHogan@aol.com. Please put Jerry’s Journal in the subject line. Thanks!

Hodgepodge, by Roy Hodge

A-choo! A-choo!  And may God Bless You!

The sneeze – that sudden outburst from within that lets everyone around know that you are alive and well.

“Where,” you may sometimes wonder, “did that come from?”

My dictionaries are for the most part in agreement as to the definition of “sneeze.”

From Webster’s Scholastic Dictionary: “To emit air through the nose (and mouth) by a kind of involuntary convulsive effort.”

From The Random House College Dic-tionary the primary definition is quite the same. A second explanation is for the term, “nothing to sneeze at.” “Informal, to treat with contempt. Scorn (usually in negative construction):  ‘That sum of money is nothing to sneeze at.’”

Sneezing has been linked to sudden exposure to bright lights, a sudden drop in temperature, a breeze of cold air, a particularly full stomach or a viral infection.  There are sneezes to fit every person – every personality.

Some medical authorities think there are sneezing patterns, that is, in the number of times we sneeze and in the particular way we do it. This may be hereditary and vary in different families.

I seem to remember my mother sneezing only once at a time but making quite a production of it, finishing up with a scream that scared the wits out of everyone nearby.

I don’t remember my father sneezing.  If he did he may have done it quietly into a handkerchief, but in my memory he more often used his handkerchief to clean a spot off of his shirt, to put a quick shine on his shoes, and for various other reasons, but almost never to blow his nose or quell a sneeze.

I fondly remember my Uncle Les. At least once during every time we saw him, while in conversation with my father or someone else, he would go through all the motions of getting ready to sneeze.

His face would get bright red, he would get excited, bend over, make some loud noises as if he was going to sneeze violently. But instead of sneezing he would laugh hysterically and pound his knees. And that was our entertainment for that visit.

Unlike my father, I do sneeze – often four at a time. Recently, I have had bursts of up to 15 sneezes spread over a few minutes.

The nose is the proper channel for the air we live by, and our brain is so constructed that when anything interferes with that channel we breathe it out violently through the nose, and that is a sneeze.

Sneezing cannot occur during sleep; however, sufficient external stimulants may cause a person to wake from their sleep for the purpose of sneezing.

Sneezes move fast

In case you don’t know as much about the mighty sneeze as you should, read on.

*Sneezes travel at about 100 miles per hour.

*Exercise can make you sneeze.

*The longest sneezing spree is 978 days, a record set by Donna Griffith of Worcestershire, England.

*Sunshine may make you sneeze.

*The custom of saying “God Bless You” when someone sneezes was adopted by the Christian world from Pagan practices.

There’s more:

*It is good to sneeze while reading.

*It is lucky to sneeze while beginning an argument.

*It is lucky to sneeze while going to bed.

*If anyone looks at you when you want to sneeze you can’t do it.

There have been suggestions of how to cure sneezing.

One suggestion is to shoot off a revolver or anything to produce sudden fright.  It might be a lot less scary if you follow the second suggestion, which is to press your upper lip hard while reciting the alphabet backwards. I’ll get you started: zyxw.

Sometimes a sneeze can be stopped when we feel it coming by pressing on the nose, halfway down, just where the bone ends.

The following superstitious lines are still widely believed:

“Sneeze on Monday, sneeze for danger.

“Sneeze on Tuesday, kiss a stranger.

“Sneeze on Wednesday, receive a letter.

“Sneeze on Thursday, something better.

“Sneeze on Friday, sneeze for sorrow.

“Sneeze on Saturday, see your lover tomorrow.

“Sneeze on Sunday, your safety seek, or the devil will have you for the rest of the week.”

And, finally, this from A. A. Milne’s “Now We Are Six”: Sneezles

Christopher Robin had wheezles and sneezles,

They bundled him into his bed.

They gave him what goes with a cold in the nose,

And some  more  for  a  cold  in  the head. . .

All together now – “Ah – ah – ah-Chooooooooo!

I hope you covered your mouth and nose and tried to get away from innocent bystanders.

“Gesundheit!”  (And, by the way, I discovered some of the above information in Claudia De Lys’s fascinating book, “8,414 Strange and Fascinating Super- stitions”.

“Oh, No!” Colton

We sent our great grandson, Colton, a photo of our Halloween pumpkin sitting on our deck covered with four inches of snow.

When Colton, who is two and lives in North Carolina, saw it he said to his mommy, Courtney, who is our granddaughter, “Oh, no, there is snow on that pumpkin; where’s his coat?”

                                 . . . Roy Hodge

Barclay discusses referendum on casino gambling

Often issues arise in the state legislature where there are meritorious arguments on either side of the legislation.  This holds true for the state-wide referendum championed by Governor Cuomo that, if passed, would change our State Constitution to allow, among other things, the siting of four commercial casinos in Upstate New York.  Opponents of the measure argue that an expansion of casino gambling should not be part of any state economic development plan and that any expansion will also increase crime and gambling addiction.  Proponents of the expansion, including the Governor, claim that gambling is already all around us and they question why New York should miss out on the development of an industry that is attracting tourism and visitors to other states such as Nevada and New Jersey.

Currently, the New York Constitution prohibits all forms of gambling in the state other than pari-mutuel betting on horse races, bingo and lottery.  However, because of creative interpretations of the law and federal legislation, namely the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, we have three Indian run casinos in New York and a number of privately run facilities that operate video lottery gaming.  Further, gambling has expanded rapidly throughout the United States. Twenty three states have commercial casinos.  Casinos also exist north of the border in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

In order to amend the State Constitution to allow the expansion of commercial gambling in New York, legislation to do so has to be passed by two successive legislatures and then put to a statewide referendum.  The state legislature passed legislation to do so in 2012 and this year.  The decision will now be in front of the public in November. Voters will decide in a referendum.

If this referendum was simply about legalizing certain gambling in New York State, the argument for or against the referendum would be clear.  However, the gambling legislation gets into much more detail.  In effort to resolve various disputes between the state and certain Indian tribes, the legislation, if approved by referendum, would only allow the development of casinos in certain areas of upstate New York.  In essence, zones are created where the expansion of gambling would not be allowed so as not to compete with the already existing Indian owned casinos.  Onondaga, Oswego and Jefferson Counties all fall within exclusivity zones so any expansion of gambling could not take place within these counties’ borders due to reached agreements.

In addition, the gambling legislation sets out the taxes the state shall receive from each of the new casinos.  All taxes and fees assessed would be paid into the commercial gaming revenue fund.  The moneys of the fund would be distributed so that 80% of the revenues would be appropriated for elementary and secondary education, 10% of the revenues would be appropriated equally between the host municipality and the host county, and the final 10% of the revenues would be appropriated among the other counties in the region where the casino is located for the purpose of real property relief and education assistance.

During the last two legislative sessions, I voted against the gambling legislation and plan on voting against the referendum when it comes to a vote in November.  In general, I do not believe we should be using gambling as an economic development tool.  In addition, for the region I represent, the expansion of gambling will provide limited benefit and, in return, our area  would still be subject to the negative impacts that come with increased gambling.  However, if you believe gambling is here to stay, it is already all around, and that the state needs to settle its issues with various Indian tribes in the state, you should consider supporting the referendum.

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 North Second Street, Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us or by calling (315) 598-5185.  You can also friend me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.

 

 

Poetry Corner, by Jim Farfaglia

Even with 50 years heaped upon it,

even though other memories,

other tragedies,

have since been known,

this one burns eternal:

 

The principal’s voice over the PA,

his incomprehensible news

raining down on our third grade world.

 

The classroom cut-up, trying to make a joke,

as we tried to make sense of it all,

our teacher frowning through her tears.

 

The early dismissal,

walking the streets of Fulton,

cars dragging with the weight of the news.

 

Crossing the bridge of our innocence,

the once lively river below,

now just chilling water.

 

The stream of words from our TV,

Cronkite, Brinkley—all mankind—

remembering one man, beloved  by all.