Category Archives: Columnists

Christmas cards

Christmas cardsAn important part of the Christmas holiday season for me has always been the sending and receiving of Christmas cards. It is a tradition that I have been familiar with since I was a young child when I met the mailman at the front door every day during the season on the small chance that there might be at least one envelope in his large pile addressed to me.

In my memory my family received hundreds of greeting cards at Christmas time when I was a child. I can remember them being strung around the doorway between the living and dining rooms of our house and around the big mirror in the living room. For every one received one was sent. It was a welcomed and well-practiced tradition in those days.

After many years, sending and receiving end-of-the-year greetings has remained important. Getting the first one of the season, usually soon after Thanksgiving, is an anticipated event. I can remember through the years participating in a contest of sorts — trying to guess who that first card would be from.

Back then I was much more interested in getting mail each day than in the process of preparing and sending our own stack of cards in envelopes. I do remember, however, my mother spending at least one afternoon and evening sitting at the dining room table with a stack of boxed cards as she pored through notes and address books and wrote names on envelopes.

My important job didn’t come until near the end of the process when I licked each stamp and, as neatly as possible, placed it in its proper place at the corner of the envelope.

My thoughts these days turn to the greetings I will send out as we approach Christmas. First I will find the familiar address book that I have been using for several years. The providers of that book were clever enough to leave a space on the edge of each page to check off the years that I have sent and received a card for each person on my list.

To read the rest of the column, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397

Christmas Bonus

Christmas Bonus

by Jim Farfaglia


You sit at the secretaries’ table,

nibbling hors d’oeuvres;

grateful for this holiday gathering,

for time away from the office routine.


I’m the DJ playing Christmas tunes,

sugarplum songs your boss purchased

to drown out the awkwardness

that keeps each table to themselves.


When you approach me with a smile

and whisper your request,

I nod to you, but think to myself:

There goes this party.


Still, I cue up your selection, and watch

as you retie your festive scarf,

breathe in the opening chords of your song

and step up to the microphone.


Your first timid words are lost to chatter,

but one by one, co-workers turn to your voice,

forget their gripes, and remember the magic

of a song sung true…


A simple yuletide carol

that lights our memories bright

and fills this humble room

with its message of the coming Joy…


As the last chorus fades

you return to your table, bathed in applause.

Dinner is being served,

but no one cares –


instead, we in this room

are only hungry for humanity,

and I watch as it’s offered:

Joy being shared, table to table.

Christmas concerts

Christmas concertsby Kate Rothrock

Congratulations to the juniors who are being inducted into the National Honor Society.

The induction ceremony starts tonight at 7:30 p.m. to recognize these hard working students who have excelled both in and out of school. It is a real privilege to be a part of this wonderful group.

Tomorrow is the holiday chorus concert at 7:30 p.m. Concert choir will be singing many holiday songs, including “Light a Candle,” “Let it Snow” and “In the Bleak Midwinter.”

Women’s choir will be singing “Where Are You Christmas,” ‘Santa Baby,’ and many more!  It is a concert you don’t want to miss out on.

Joining the holiday concerts are the GRB bands, which will be holding its holiday concert Monday, Dec. 17 starting at 7:30 p.m. Like the chorus, the bands will be playing a whole collection of different holiday songs.

This Friday marks the end of the 15 weeks. It is crazy to think that in five more weeks,  school will be halfway over with!

The senior class is proud to announce the hosting of a winter formal! The cost will be slightly higher than most dances but it is a fund-raiser that will be fun for all. Tickets for the dance will be sold in advance, so listen for the senior’s class announcements of when they will be available.

Dresses for girls and a shirt and tie for boys are encouraged for this formal night of fun! The dance will be in February, so listen for more details from the senior class!

To read the rest of the story, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397

Light In The Darkness: December 12, 2012

by Pastor David Grey

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” — Isaiah 9:6.

This is that wonderful time of year when we celebrate the miracle in Bethlehem. The birth of the promised One whose appointment that night was set before the foundations of the earth were even laid down.

Messiah, born to a virgin; born in a stable and laid in a manger in Bethlehem. Ancient prophecies fulfilled. God’s promise kept. It is easy to get so caught up in the cultural traditions of our Christmas season as to be consumed by them…all the social excitement, the purchasing and the preparation.

Oh, I’m sure that most believers give serious thought to the true meaning of our celebration. We are grateful and rejoice that God, Himself came to save us from our sins, to bring forgiveness and salvation.

Many probably even mourn the fact that so many in our society neither know nor care about any of that. For them, the celebration is all about family, parties, giving and getting.  But even among true believers, how many give much thought to the deeper meaning behind the coming of Messiah? Jesus said that He came that we, “might have life and that more abundantly.” (John 10:10). He came not only to save us from the consequences of our sins but from sin’s reign in our lives, here and now. He came that we might be sanctified unto God in this life.

In short, He came that we might live holy lives. That holiness must be God’s own holiness, of course, because it is certain that we have none of our own. His holiness is imparted unto us as we surrender all to Him. Andrew Murray wrote, “There is none holy but God: we have as much of holiness as we have of God.”

To read the rest of the column, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397

Mat-ter Of Fact: December 12, 2012

by Dan Farfaglia

The 2012-3013 Fulton Wrestling season is now under way.

A major change took place with the varsity team over the last year with the resignation of long time coach Mike Conners.

Western New York native Chris Stalker was hired as his replacement over the summer and has quickly immersed himself with the strong program, its long successful history and its important role within this community. More about Coach Stalker in the next edition of this column.

Doesn’t seem like it, but in the first week of action of the regular season, the Red Raiders have completed three events.  They are also in a re-building phase and adjusting to new leadership.

Seniors Derek Owen (220 pounds) and Mike Demauro (152 pounds) have been selected as the team captains for this year.

*  *  *  *  *

Saturday, Dec. 1, the team took part in the annual Anderson Memorial Tournament held at Cicero North Syracuse High School. Fulton finished a very respectable second place, acquiring 175 team points. South Jefferson, coached by Pat Conners — brother of the former Fulton Coach — came in first with 205 points and Canastota came in third with 165 points. Twenty-two teams participated in this tournament.

Coming in second place for Fulton were Kirby Labeef (103 pounds), Mitchell Woodworth (113 pounds), and Thomas Hill (120 pounds).  Joe Abelgore (99 pounds) and Brennan Roberge (285 pounds) came in third and Derek Owen finish the day in fourth.

Austin Whitney (126 pounds) and Brandon Hill (132 pounds) came in fifth place. Coming in seventh place were Mike DeMauro, Travis Race (160 pounds), Sam Rios (170 pounds) and Matt Marshall (195 pounds). Tim Holden (138 pounds) finished the day in 8th place.

Tuesday Dec. 4, the Red Raiders traveled to Palmyra-Macedon for the first dual meet of the year.  Pal–Mac, as it is called, was Division Two state champions a few years back and as expected, it was a tight one with Fulton defeating them by a score of 41-29. Bringing in six team points (pins) were Mitchell Woodworth, Austin Whitney, Sam Rios, Todd Oakes, and Brennan Roberge.

To read the rest of the column, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397
Leon Archer

Snow day

Snow day
Leon Archer

by Leon Archer

It had started out as a normal week, working at the high school where I was a media specialist, which was a new-fangled term for librarian.

I was busy with the daily routines, but already looking forward to a late December duck hunt with fellow teachers, Gary Narewski and Charlie Ottmann. It had been abnormally warm for so late in December and we were thinking that the lake ducks would probably not give us a lot of action on the coming Saturday, but we were going to go anyway.

That night, the weather report predicted a radical change in the weather for later in the week. It actually sounded severe enough that the three of us would discuss dropping our plans to hunt near the Narewski camp. Eventually, we agreed to just wait and see.

Tuesday morning dawned with a palpable sense of change in the air even though it was still warm. By mid-afternoon, the temperature began a skid as the sky turned first grey, then leaden, and finally threateningly dark. Walking across the parking lot after work, buffeted by a biting wind, I was wishing I had brought a jacket with me. By dinner time, it had begun spitting snow.

I awoke Wednesday morning to the moaning of our house as the wind roared doing its best to remove the shingles from the roof, and  later, my trip in to work found me driving through several inches of wet snow and navigating around numerous downed tree branches.

We lost power at the high school for short periods several times during the day. I was glad to be inside. From my warm library, I could look to the west at Lake Neatahwanta as it thrashed like a giant beast in pain; bucking, black, wind driven waves turned the surface to froth.

In the lee of the storm, on the far western side of the lake, the bluebills and whistlers poured into the calmer water until it seemed like the next arrivals would have needed a shoe horn to join them.

The lake ducks that had taken refuge on Neatahwanta were only a small percentage of the birds that had found Ontario’s open water to be outside even their comfort range. The Oswego River and harbor were clogged with thousands more; even old squaws and eiders could be seen in the company of the bluebills, goldeneyes, and buffleheads.

On my way home from school, I stopped by the river and gawked at the number and diversity of the waterfowl, but I didn’t spend long outside of my car. The temperature was suddenly dropping like a rock and the wood fire and warm meal that would greet me at home pulled me away.

Watching the news that evening, I had an idea that we might be in for a snow day. The weatherman predicted temperatures were going to near zero that night, and outside, the wind continued to increase.  On top of that, it had begun to snow again earlier, and by 8 p.m. it was a full blown blizzard.

Thursday morning, the radio came on at 5:30 p.m. and the first thing I heard were school closings. Fulton and several other schools were closed; I could go back to sleep for a while. Before I drifted off, I heard the news that there were a couple of lake ships that were having problems on Ontario as they sought a safe harbor.

I was up and about by the time I heard the first plow go down our street and as I pulled the blind open to take a peep, I could see that the wind had blown itself out during the night, but not before leaving huge snowdrifts, one of which filled my driveway to overflowing. My day was devoted to shoveling snow and trying to stay warm. By bedtime, the city plows had finished their rounds and my driveway was free of snow. Friday would find me back in school.

As I drove across the river on my way to work Friday morning, I could see that the majority of the water was iced over and the vast number of ducks I had witnessed Wednesday afternoon had mostly disappeared along with the open water.

Lake Neatahwanta was frozen solid. I almost expected to see waves frozen in place, but of course, the surface was smooth with an equally flat blanket of snow.

To read the rest of the column, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397

Winter weather

Winter weatherby Roy Hodge

It’s inevitable: we’re going to be talking a lot about winter weather and snow. We may as well get started.

We have talked about winter and its weather surprises in past years. Here’s what we said in the Patriot March 17 1992: “Snow Gets National Attention – 47.5 Inches in Four Days.”  Fulton’s winter weather does come with a certain amount of notoriety. That storm was mentioned on The Weather Channel and a CBS national news broadcast.

When I talked to John Florek, Superintendent of the Fulton Waterworks, at the end of March this year, he said that the 2011-2012 snowfall total of 108 inches up to March 26 was less than half of 2010-2011’s total for the same date which was 217.4 inches.

He said the annual average total for the date is 170.4 inches. The record high for the date was 268.5 inches in 2004. That year the city ended up with a season-ending total of 272.3 inches.

The heaviest snowfall during last year’s winter season was 33.5 inches Jan. 29 and 30.

From The Patriot May 5, 2012: “When I called John Florek last week I asked about Fulton’s final snowfall figure for the 2011-2012 winter. John corrected me quickly. ‘As of yesterday, April 26, the total snowfall was 108.2 inches and we received a trace overnight’.”

John reminded me that we had a few days remaining in April, and “It has snowed here on Mother’s Day.” John said that was in 1996 and that year the city received 273.5 inches of snow.

John said that in addition to the 1996 Mother’s Day snowfall it had also snowed in Fulton during May in 1977, and in 2010 the last snow of the season was the one-half inch recorded on May 9.

Hope for the best, but be prepared for whatever the freezing temperatures, the Arctic winds, the snowstorms and the blizzards may send our way.

Here are a few of the times I have thought it necessary to mention snow in this column:

April 17, 1979:  I was ready to write my last story of the 1978-79 snow year. But it wasn’t meant to be. Like my battered snow shovel, the worn out long johns, boots and snow tires, my calculator has had it. It was the 229th inch of Fulton’s winter that did it in.

January 13, 1981: I have my own battle plan for facing up to these winter mornings. I watch the neighbors while they’re getting their cars cleaned off. If a gloved hand or the windshield wipers can take care of the snow there is no problem.  If they need a snow brush, have another cup of coffee. If they go get the broom put on an extra pair of socks. If they attack the car with a snow shovel go back to bed.

February 12, 1985: When we were kids we used to think that Syracuse had more snow than any other place in the world. We were wrong of course; when I grew up I moved to Fulton and found out that Fulton has more snow than any other place in the world.

February 4, 1986:  I noticed while typing this that our little neighbor, Adam Schroeder, is using his plastic garden rake in the snow. The news from Adam could be good or bad. Maybe Adam thinks winter is far enough out of the way to put his rake into action. That’s good. Or maybe Adam is using his rake because his plastic shovel is buried in the four feet of snow next to the back steps. That’s bad.

During the 1985-86 winter season Fulton received 206.5 inches of snow.

February 23, 1993: I have been asked a lot of questions about snow the past two weeks. I am running out of answers. “Enough snow for you? Do you ever think it will stop snowing? Is it going to snow tonight? Is it going to snow this afternoon? Where am I going to put all this snow? How much snow have we got? Have we got more snow than Oswego? When are you going to shovel the snow? Why do you live in Fulton during the winter time? What is that big bump in the driveway, and where is the car?”

And the last one for now: February 12, 1996:  Remembering the Blizzard of ’66:  Former Patriot publisher Chet Rondo- manski said it best: “This is the way it’s going to be. Like a fishing excursion; you come back with an 11-inch small mouth bass, and before you can get through dinner it’s 24 inches. The first guy we sat with yesterday said the snow went up to his window, the next guy said that on his side of town the snow went over his garage door, and the third guy said the snow went right up to the roof of his house.”

Last week when I mentioned going to the Elmwood Theatre when I was a kid living on Syracuse’s south side, I also said that there were three other movie theaters that I could walk to from our house.   One of those theaters was the Riviera, which I also walked to for many Saturday matinees.

To read the rest of the column, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397