Category Archives: Columnists

State Senate Report from state Sen. Patty Ritchie

It’s often said the one of the most important responsibilities we have in a democracy is to vote.

On Nov. 5, people across the country will head to the polls to exercise this right.  Here in New York state, people won’t just be casting their votes for candidates on Election Day — they will also be making decisions on amendments to the New York State Constitution.

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard about the referendum on the Nov. 5 ballot concerning the authorization of expanded casino gaming in New York state.

This proposal would amend the state Constitution to allow construction of up to seven Las Vegas-style casinos in designated regions across the state, with the first four to be built Upstate.

You should also know that there are five other resolutions that are up for a vote from the public.  This year’s ballot contains the largest number of such proposals in a number of years and several could have a significant impact on the economic health of communities right here in our backyard.

Here’s a look at measures you’ll be asked to weigh in on:

** Additional Civil Service Credit for Veterans with Disabilities Certified Post- Appointment: This proposed amendment would grant additional civil service credit to veterans who are certified as disabled after they have been appointed or promoted to a civil service position.

** Exclusion of Indebtedness Contracted for Sewage Facilities: This proposed amendment would extend until Jan. 1, 2024, the authority of counties, cities, towns and villages to exclude from their constitutional debt limits, indebtedness contracted  from the construction and reconstruction of facilities utilized for the treatment and disposal of sewage.

** Settling Disputed Title in the Forest Preserve:  Under the State Constitution, it is typically prohibited to sell, exchange or take any forest preserve land. This proposed amendment would allow the Legislature to settle century-old disputes between the state and private parties over ownership of certain parcels of land in the forest preserve by giving up the state’s claim to disputed parcels.

In exchange, the state would get land to be incorporated into the forest preserve.  The land exchange would occur only if the Legislature determines the land to be conveyed to New York state would benefit the forest preserve more than the disputed parcels do.

** In Relation to a Land Exchange in the State Forest Preserve with NYCO Minerals:  This amendment would allow NYCO Minerals, Inc., a private company, to continue its mining operations in Essex County.  The proposal would allow the state to convey roughly 200 forest preserve acres to the company for mining and in exchange, the company would give the state at least the same amount of land of at least the same value, with that land being added to the forest preserve.

Under this proposal, when NYCO Minerals finishes its mining, the company would restore the condition of the land it received in exchange and return it to the forest preserve.

** Increasing Age Until Which Certain State Judges Can Serve: This amendment increases to age 80 the age Justices of the Supreme Court and Judges of the Court of Appeals may serve, in certain instances.  In addition, the proposed amendment would also prohibit the appointment of any person over the age of 70 to the Court of Appeals.

Our vote is our voice and the six referendums that will appear on the Nov. 5 ballot represent democracy in its purest form.

I hope you’ll take the time to learn more about these amendments before you head to the polls and exercise your right to vote on Election Day.

Assemblyman Will Barclay: Cell phone fees high in NY

Recently, the Tax Foundation released a map showing the combined local, state, and federal cell phone rates.

The map showed, not surprisingly, that New York residents pay the third highest cell phone tax rate in the country.  Our state and local cell phone tax is 17.85 percent.  When those taxes are combined with the federal tax rate, New Yorker’s cell tax rate is 23.67 percent.

Most cell phone customers get a breakdown of costs.  Service providers often line-item out these taxes on your bill.  In New York, cell phone users are charged $1.20 every month.  This surcharge is known as the “New York Public Safety Commission Surcharge.”

In addition to this state surcharge, many of state’s 62 counties charge an additional 30 cents a month.  (Fourteen counties, Bronx, Delaware, Hamilton, Jefferson, Kings, Lewis, New York, Niagara, Oneida, Oswego, Queens, Richmond, Schoharie and St. Lawrence counties, do not charge the additional $.30.) Some of this $1.20 surcharge is earmarked for sensible emergency spending through the Public Service Commission while other dollars are placed, unfortunately, in the state’s general fund.

Here is a cost breakdown with some history.  In 1991, the state began charging the New York Public Safety Commission Surcharge, which was set at 70 cents a month.  This 70 cents was used to establish the federally-mandated Emergency 911 Centers with the state Public Service Commission.  These centers save lives.  This was a sensible way to raise revenue to enable our state to implement new technology and connect emergency services so that New York residents would be able to call 911. These call centers dispatch local units and police, ambulance or fire personnel to respond to emergencies.

However, as New York has faced several budgetary challenges since 1991, that surcharge has been increased and not all of it goes to the E911 or emergency responders.  As mentioned, the state surcharge is now $1.20.  Out of that $1.20 collected, 50 cents gets placed in the state’s general fund.  That means that New York collected $84 million from cell phone users to put into the general fund.  This does not include the 4 percent sales tax. Sales tax paid on an $80 monthly “smart phone” bill is $1.80 or $21.60 a year. New York also imposes gross receipt taxes on wireless companies. That is passed down to the consumer as well.

As can been seen, when government (especially in NYS) gets a tax stream, it is never temporary and inevitably over the years it increases.  For illustration, one simply has to look at the tolls on the New York thruway.  The number of cell phone users has grown significantly.  In 1997, there were 48.7 million cell phones in the United States.  In 2012, there were 321.7 million nationwide, according to the Tax Foundation.

Because of additional users, revenues from these taxes continues to increase.  For government, this revenue is addicting.  While establishing a dedicated funding source for projects very often makes sense, too often these taxes are diverted to the general fund and the taxes never seem to go away even after the original project for which the tax was initially established is completed. Our state should use taxes for their dedicated purpose. If that purpose no longer exists, it should give the public back its money.

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, contact my office.  My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at or by calling 598-5185.


Bodley Bulletins — by Julia Ludington

Keep listening to the morning announcements, as the activities of the school year are in full swing!

It may seem early, but many clubs and organizations have begun fundraising for trips later in the year. The GRB Chorus and Symphonic and Concert Orchestras are heading to Boston this spring and are putting together numerous fundraisers to support their visit.

The items they are selling are quite useful and oftentimes delicious. Members are selling Music Money Cards, which are a sort of reusable coupon that gives you discounts to several restaurants and other forms of entertainment in the area. If you are a frequenter of any of these establishments, a card could save you a lot of money.

Additionally, the members are selling candy bars throughout the school day and have just begun taking orders for frozen pies. If you know anyone in either of these organizations, make sure to treat yourself to either of these to help support the cause.

The first National Honor Society meeting for current members went well, and the chapter is hoping to give back to the community more than ever this year.

Members now have to complete eight in-school community service hours, which will be mainly through tutoring, and four outside-of-school hours each semester. The second meeting will take place Oct. 21 after school.

The end of fall sports is also the last time some of our seniors will play on the home turf.

The boys’ soccer senior night was last Tuesday, and it was an extremely exciting matchup. The boys played Marcellus and won 1-0, with Derek Prosser scoring the loan goal. The win was definitely bittersweet, as the underclassmen said goodbye to 11 extremely talented and dedicated team members.

Another senior night takes place tomorrow for girl’s soccer. The girls take on Homer, with JV playing at 4:30 and varsity starting at 5. The night will consist of a tribute to the team’s six beloved leaders and exciting play. Please come support.

Speaking of seniors, don’t forget to submit by Nov. 5 the prom and baby pictures you would like to see in the yearbook. Additionally, if you will be using your own headshot instead of the one taken by the school, then those pictures need to be in by the same date. All pictures can be turned in to Mr. Senecal.

Nov. 5 is a date to mark on your calendars not only because of the photos are due, but because it is the date of the first GRB orchestra concert. Nov. 6 is the date of the first GRB band concert.

The November concert is always a nice prelude to what the groups will play for the rest of the year. I know both groups have been working hard on their pieces. Be sure to come and listen to our very own musicians!

Archer talks duck hunting — The Sportsman’s World

Having hunted ducks for more than 55 years, I have seen my share of ducks that didn’t look quite right to me.

By that I mean that they didn’t look like the identification pictures and photographs of other ducks. As waterfowl hunters hit the marshes, ponds, and lakes this year, some of them will no doubt take a duck or two that is a bit hard to identify.

The early season is the time when most of the mystery ducks show up in hunters’ bags. Birds which are still going through the molting process and have not yet gotten their winter plumage can often leave the hunter scratching his head trying to discern the species and sex of his prey. Hybrids are another story.

The first such birds I encountered was when I was 16, but my experience was so limited at that time that I thought two of the four mallards I had shot were just a natural variation in the species. Interestingly, that opening day there was a team of professors and students from Cornell University doing a survey on Sandy Pond. They asked if they could examine my ducks, and of course I was very proud of my harvest and more than willing to let them look the birds over.

The group leader showed the students the birds, indicating how to determine sex and whether the duck was an adult or young of the year. Then he asked them if they noticed anything different about the four drake mallards. One of the students noted that the white strip above and below the speculum was missing on one of the birds, and barely visible as a thin strip on the other, and in addition, those two drakes did not seem to have completed molting into winter feathering.

I hadn’t noticed the white speculum border was missing, but I had noticed that the head was not uniformly dark green, but had brown intermixed, and the body sides were sort of patchy colored. The leader then made the pronouncement that these birds might well have been nest mates and that they were black-mallard hybrids. One of the things they were specifically looking for was hybrid ducks, so they were all rather excited.

They asked if they could take a wing from each of the four birds, and although I sort of hated to have my birds mutilated that way, I told them to go ahead. They took my name and address, and later on I received a thank-you letter from the team and information about the birds. They were definitely hybrids and they were both young of the year. Since then, I always look for possible hybrids, but I have never shot another as far as I know.

Actually, hybrids are not all that uncommon in the world of ducks, with mallard drakes probably being the greatest culprit in siring such young, but many other species cross breed at times. It is seldom the result of some beautiful duck falling madly in love with a handsome drake from across the tracks.

More often, the hybrids are the result of forced copulation, and drake mallards are great womanizers, not above forcing their attentions on an unwilling pintail duck, black duck, gadwall, or other available hen.

There are still people who study these hybrid birds. At the University of Washington Burke Museum, there is an ongoing study, and if you should shoot a really unusual duck, you might want to stick it in the freezer whole and contact them to see if they would be interested in it. I checked them out on the internet, and there was quite a bit of information about what they are doing. You could reach them at, < > If they would like to see the duck, they will give you instructions on how to get it to them.

This column was inspired by a short article about the Burke Museum and hybrid ducks in the Fall issue of Delta Waterfowl Magazine, which by the way, if you are a duck hunter or a duck lover, you really should get a subscription to it. It is one magazine I read cover to cover. You can find information about them on the internet as well.

I hope your duck hunting is going well.

In and Around Hannibal

Can you believe it’s Columbus Day weekend?

We have had some great fall weather, haven’t we? Last weekend, I had the opportunity to drive down to the Southern Tier and into northern Pennsylvania. The colors were breathtaking, especially on the drive back.

We forget what a beautiful state New York is…we are sort of in the flats or rolling hills areas but as you drive south, you find more rolling to the hills as you head into the Appalachians and Endless Mountains.

What a glorious quilt of fields appears as you look across them there hills from 81. Take advantage of what is near you and head out and take in some of the countryside this weekend.

While I’m on the subject of travel — I was lucky to have my Texas family visit me for two-and-a-half days — a rare chance to be with my granddaughter. So we went to the Strong Museum of Play in Rochester. What a delightful place to take your children or grands or even the neighbors.

We didn’t begin to cover it, spending most of our time on Sesame Street and at the Wegmans store. But that just means we’ll have to go back. Might make a good destination for this weekend. It was easy to find even if it is in downtown Rochester.

Upcoming events

Craft Fair at the American Legion from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, Oct. 12. Contact Sue Souva at for more information.

The Hannibal Homecoming Dance will be 7 to 10 p.m. this evening Oct. 12 at the High School.

School and the Senior Center are closed this Monday for the holiday so hit the road and take in the sites of New York.

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, play games or just engage in some idle chit-chat. Give Rosemary a call and make your reservation at 564-5471.

The center will be closed this Monday in honor of Columbus Day.

Wednesday, Oct. 16: Chicken and biscuit, mashed potatoes, peas & carrots, juice, fresh fruit

Friday, Oct. 18: Turkey sloppy Joe, rice pilaf, vegetable blend, fruit cocktail

Activities: Wednesday: bingo after lunch; Friday: Music with Deanna

The Hannibal United Methodist Church will be having its annual pie by order sale next week. Ordered pies are to be picked up at the (brick) church, corner of West and Church Street (state Route 3) by 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18. To place an order call 564-6690 by Tuesday Oct. 15.

The Friends of the Hannibal Free Library will be holding their Fall Book and Bake Sale from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19 and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20. It will take place in the Hannibal Community Center, next to the library.

There will be hundreds of books,  plus videos, and CD’s for all ages and interests. This year, there also will be many children and teen books. There will also be a wide variety of baked goods for sale. For more information please call Faith at 564-5192.

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 email or give me a quick call. Rita Hooper, 706-3564,


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

The Hannibal Village Board meets the second Monday 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.

State Sen. Patty Ritchie: ‘Hometown Heroes’ display honors local vets

Since its creation in 1861, more than 3,400 Medals of Honor have been awarded to some of our nation’s bravest soldiers, airmen, sailors, marines and coast guardsmen.

Next week, William Swenson, a former Army captain and Fort Drum soldier, will join the ranks of these brave men and women.

On Oct. 15, Capt. Swenson will be awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery during combat in Afghanistan in 2009 at a special ceremony being held at the White House.

Capt. Swenson is being recognized for his courageous actions while serving as an embedded trainer and mentor with the Afghan National Security Forces with Afghan Border Police Mentor Team, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division in Kunar Province in northeastern Afghanistan on Sept. 8, 2009.

A recipient of the Purple Heart and Bronze Star medals, Capt. Swenson retired from the military Feb. 1, 2011. He now lives in Seattle.

As the nation pauses to recognize Capt. Swenson, I too will honoring his bravery by featuring him in my “Hometown Heroes,” exhibit; a traveling tribute to recipients of the nation’s highest military honor now on display at museums, libraries and other locations throughout Central and Northern New York.

In addition to Capt. Swenson, my “Hometown Heroes” display features several St. Lawrence and Oswego County Civil War heroes, a group of little known Jefferson County Medal of Honor recipients who served at Madison Barracks at the turn of the century, and a former member of the 10th Mountain Division from WWII.

The exhibit, which is marking the 150th anniversary of the creation of the Medal of Honor by President Abraham Lincoln, is the second in a series that began last year. The display will be featured at a number of locations in Oswego County including:

Oct. 15-Oct. 25: Central Square Library

Oct. 28-Nov. 18: Oswego City Library

Nov. 12-Nov. 22: Mexico Public Library

One in four of America’s 3,400 Medal of Honor recipients nationally are from New York state and you can learn more about many of these brave individuals by visiting my “Hometown Heroes” display or viewing it online at

In addition to my “Hometown Heroes” exhibit, I have also introduced legislation to pay tribute to these recipients by naming some of the state’s 20,000 bridges and overpasses in their honor.

The “Hometown Heroes” exhibit is just one small way we recognize the contributions of Capt. Swenson and the many other brave men and women who have acted valiantly in the name of our country.

I encourage you to take the time to view this display to learn more about the courageous individuals who have put their lives on the line in the name of freedom and liberty.

Jerry’s Journal

Who knew where it would lead?

The saga of the Bates Grip began a couple of columns ago and with it came a suggestion I call Jim Best who had worked at the old B&T Sport’s Shop on South First Street back in the 1950s.

Jim Best the Well Driller? I asked. Yep, that’s the one.

And so I did, and so did he graciously return my phone call. Jim said he worked at the B&T from 1952 to 1956, and it was Ed Bock, the owner of the sport’s shop, now deceased, who drilled the bowling balls with the Bates Grip.

We sold bowling balls only occasionally, though, Jim said. Most were done at the bowling allies in town. He said he looked up the Bates Grip on the Internet and discovered that prior to that, bowling balls were mostly the 2-fingered kind.

Then came the 3-fingered bowling balls we became so familiar with in the heyday of league bowling here in Fulton and indeed across the country.

No mystery no more: I asked my sister Denise, who is married to pro-bowler Mark Roth, to see what she could find out about the Bates Grip.

This is her return email from which I quote:

“I talked to Larry Lichstein who drilled balls for the Professional Bowlers Tour for 25 to 30 years. His reply about Bates Grip is that it was actually referred to as Bates Curve Grip. It was an automatic motorized drill feed that went into the ball and would curve the finger grip toward your palm or other adjustments depending on the customer’s need.

In his entire career and after visiting more than 12,000 bowling centers/pro shops worldwide, he encountered only two of these motorized devices as there were very few ever made.

Since there were so few made and they were not predominantly used during Larry’s career, he’s never known anyone to use that type off ball drilling today. The Bates was first used in the 1940s.”

(Thanks, Neice, for the info!)

Still at it: Most of us know Jim Best as “The Well Driller” who lives out in Granby where he was once held the title of town supervisor, and who also once served as a county legislator.

In any case, he said he still has his Ebonite bowling ball, drilled with Bates Grip, complete with his initials on it, tucked away in a closet. He used to bowl three nights a week, he said, when the alleys were filled up with teams made up people who worked together or belonged to the same church and so on.

His mom bowled too, “to the day she died!” he said. A lot of stay-at-home moms bowled. It was a way to get with friends and relax. Everybody could bowl because of handicap (an amount added to the actual score).

Jim said who knew that someday TV would become a necessity. He said he likes the way things change.

As humans we need to keep improving. Today we have better things, better medical … better everything … he said … that’s the way it should be. I thank him for the most interesting conversation.  He’s still in the well drilling business, by the way.

The old pavilion, football and Halloween: Bowling balls were not the only pieces of sports equipment lost in the fire at the old pavilion at Recreation Park back in the 1940s.

According to Jim “Hunky” McNamara, Fulton High School’s football team’s uniforms were stored there as well. (The team played at Recreation Park. Who remembers the big, wooden bleachers?)

“Syracuse University gave us their practice uniforms,” Hunky said.

FHS football coach Willard “Andy” Anderson was a graduate of SU — “one of their best running backs ever” — and he got the uniforms for us. “They were blue and gray.”

I told Hunky I have my own memory of the pavilion. I was in first grade in 1940, and it was Halloween and the city held a Halloween costume parade on West Broadway and they treated us to cider and doughnuts in the pavilion.

I somehow got lost from my classmates and was sobbing my little head off when Seymour Cole, the police chief, found my mother for me. I forever after, during by growing up years at least, told how the police chief saved my life.

My friend Ellie Pryor also remembers that parade all too well and said she got mixed in with a class other than her own from Phillips Street School and was so scared and upset because she thought she’d get in trouble for it.

Hunky laughed at my tales and said the kids from the east side didn’t walk in the parade because they were probably out tricks and treating. He said he thought Sam Vescio might have played for Fulton High School during that time of the fire and suggested I call him. So I did! (Thanks, Hunky, for “adding” to my column.)

Sam Vescio, in my opinion, is the “ultimate local historian” if there ever was one.

He said the pavilion burned down in 1943, and he lost his bowling ball in that fire as did many others. He said it was an Ebonite and drilled with the Bates Grip, and that he had his two best games at that time with that ball: a 226 and a 242.

Later on, he said, he bowled at Anderson’s lanes, which eventually became Tony Fedora’s Lanes, near the forks of the road where today Par K does business.

His teammates were Bubba Tracy, Walt Glod, Joe Swiech and Myron Hryncek. And yes, he did play football at Good Old Fulton High, but it was in 1944 and 1945. Thanks, Sam. You’re always fun to talk to.

I interviewed a nice gentleman by the name of Tom Trepasso a few weeks ago and will feature him in my next column. Meanwhile, if you happen to be over on Hannibal Street one of these fine fall days, check out the Yankees logo on the front of his house and the cute Halloween decoration on his lawn.

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 Please put Jerry’s Journal in the subject line. Thanks!

Hodgepodge by Roy Hodge

Throughout the past summer, and now into early fall, I have noticed something unusual.

I don’t remember anyone — and it is usually lots of anyones — saying to me: “We sure need some rain.” The best reason for that, of course, is that we don’t especially need any more rain than we are receiving. We are getting part of a predicted rainfall as I am writing this.

But along with the rain we have seen the sun shining. It seems to me that the rain to sunshine ratio was just about perfect this summer.

There was a lot of warmth and sunshine and enough rain to make the gardeners at least semi-happy.

I have been thinking about summers during the years my friends and I were growing up on Wiman Avenue. I remember that showers, even an occasional storm, provided us with summer fun.

When it stopped raining we would run outside, often in our bare feet, or wearing our soon to be soaked shoes or sneakers.  We would run up and down the paved street in front of our homes, splashing in the rivers of water rushing down the road, next to the curbs.

In my memories of those summer days of the past, we had a lot more quick and sometimes quite violent thunder showers.

As a small child I was frightened by the loud thunder. My mother later told me that she said, “Don’t be scared; it’s just the angels moving the furniture around up in heaven.”

There was a special place where my mother and I would go during a thunder storm and also during an air raid drill.  There was a shelf at the bottom of the dining room table big enough for the two of us to comfortably sit.

That’s where we would be while the thunder boomed, or the air raid sirens sounded. I would sit and listen while my mother, in her soft, comforting voice, sang to me.

More weather stuff:

From Hodgepodge, July 8, 1996: The difference between “partly sunny” and “partly cloudy”: “Partly cloudy” means more sun than clouds and more blue skies will be seen. “Partly sunny” means more clouds than sun.

When I was talking to John Florek at the city water works on August 14, 2002 he said “There’s been hardly any rain for a month and a half.” John said 0.25 inches of rain had been registered at the water works so far in August.

Looking back a few years in the record books John said, “In the summer of 1992, the summer that wasn’t, there had been 32.5 inches of rain recorded through Aug. 14.”

And the quote of the week in September 1981 from Fred Sumner: “ … and I haven’t even started building my ark.”

Rain songs

You probably haven’t thought lately about the popular songs written about rain.

We all know “April Showers,” “Singing in the Rain,” and “I Get the Blues When It Rains.” How about “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head,” “Rainy Days and Mondays,” and “Come Rain or Come Shine”? I think Ray Charles sang that one.

Willie Nelson sang the song, “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” and you may not remember that a group called the Cascades had a one-hit wonder called “Rhythm of the Rain.”

And, this old popular song: “Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella on a Rainy, Rainy Day,” was recorded by Bing Crosby and Perry Como.

Along with the lyrics of that song I found a definition: “It means that the bad conditions only bother you when you let them. Your smile, a positive attitude or being happy, protects you from bad things, rainy days, and the bad feelings you might have from a situation.”

I remember this little refrain: “Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day, little Roy (or Johnny, or Susie) wants to play.”

The following was — and  probably still is — a popular nursery rhyme:

“The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout. Down came the rain and washed the spider out.

“Out came the sun and dried up all the rain. And the itsy bitsy spider climbed up the spout again.”


“October’s Party” by George Cooper:

October gave a party;

The leaves by hundreds came –

The Chestnuts, Oaks and Maples,

And leaves of every name.

The Sunshine spread a carpet,

And everything was grand,

Miss Weather led the dancing,

Professor Wind the band.

… Roy Hodge