Category Archives: Oswego News

‘Remarkable Women’ celebrates state’s difference-makers

Muriel Allerton among those profiled in new book

A new book co-edited by current and former State University College at Oswego faculty recounts the indelible niches the women of New York state have carved, from suffragist Susan B. Anthony to astronaut Eileen Collins, from abolitionist and humanitarian Harriet Tubman to actor, comedian and producer Lucille Ball.

In “Remarkable Women in New York State History,” a book of mini-biographies, dozens of less well-known women shine among the celebrated, thanks to having made significant differences in their communities — among them Oswego County’s Doris Allen, Muriel Allerton, Rosemary Nesbitt and Lida Penfield.

“We originally wanted the title to be ‘Women Making a Difference,’” said Marilynn Smiley, SUNY Oswego professor of music, who with Helen Engel, former Oswego adjunct in biological sciences, served as co-editors of the book and co-historians for the state’s branches of the American Association of University Women.

“We asked every (AAUW) branch in New York state to submit a brief bio of at least one woman in the community who really made a difference in some way,” Smiley said.

The outpouring that followed — edited to 145 mini-biographies from 85 authors in 32 branches of AAUW around the state — kept Smiley and Engel busy for more than four years, resulting in the 320-page work published in May by the History Press of Charleston, S.C.

The path to publication actually began seven years ago, when Smiley noticed at a regional AAUW conference that Pennsylvania’s branches had produced a similar work.

She and Engel began research on women in the Oswego area who would fit the difference-maker criteria.

“The amazing things these (New York) women did really needed to be recognized, and I’m so pleased that they have been,” Smiley said. “There is a sense of relief and of immense accomplishment” that it’s done, she added.

Inspirational work

The co-editors see “Remarkable Women in New York State History” as a reference book for libraries, historical societies and for museums dedicated to some of the famous women.

The biographies are presented alphabetically from Allen, a retired SUNY Oswego professor, actor and former local politician, to Rita Wright, a Cortland social worker.

But Smiley and Engel also view it as a potential source of knowledge and inspiration among a much broader range of women, students and others.

The authors hope the book helps convince young women “they can become leaders,” Smiley said.

“That even if they’re in an era when what they’re doing is very unusual – it’s amazing how recently women were allowed to go to college – that they could accomplish it. … Some women at the (AAUW) state convention said they were giving it to their daughters and granddaughters who were graduating from college,” she said.

Smiley and Engel acknowledge that as a reference work, there are significant gaps in the book.

For example, former Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, one of the nation’s most famous women and a Chappaqua resident, is not included, because representatives of lower Hudson Valley branches of the AAUW chose less well-known women to write about.

Smiley said she shouldered one key gap herself, authoring a mini-bio of JoAnn Falletta, music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

In all, Smiley wrote 10 of the 145 biographies, and Engel, who did a great deal of the photo editing, wrote two.

Their writing focused largely on women who made a difference in the Oswego area.

Smiley, who has taught at SUNY Oswego for more than 50 years, said the late Lida Penfield, longtime English professor and local historian, helped form the state AAUW in the 1920s, at the request of the Cornell University president’s wife.

Penfield became the first president of the association’s Oswego branch after traveling to Cornell for meetings.

“Lida Penfield went there from Oswego, and I believe some other faculty members from here attended,” Smiley said.

“They were complaining because their salaries were so low,” Smiley said. “They were pleading for AAUW to make it known how low their salaries were. That’s been one of the missions of AAUW ever since: equal pay, as well as equal educational and research opportunities.”

All profits from the sale of “Remarkable Women of New York State History” go to the American Association of University Women in New York state, which owns the rights to the book.

The AAUW, founded in 1881, advocates for women and families, attempting to break down any barriers to engagement and advancement that remain at colleges and universities around the nation.

Plenty of primary races in county Sept. 10

By Debra J. Groom

The primary election is set for noon to 9 p.m Sept. 10.

There are a number of primaries in Oswego County, from county legislature seats to town council members and highway superintendents. Parties having primaries are Republican, Conservative and Independence.

Here is the list of primaries:

County Legislature 

District 5, Constantia districts 1 to 4, Republican primary, Ronald E. Sakonyi; Roy Reehil

District 12, Hastings district 5 and Schroeppel districts 4 and 5, Republican, John W. Brandt; Richard P. Kline

District 12, Hastings district 5 and Schroeppel districts 4 and 5, Conservative, John W. Brandt; Richard P. Kline

District 14, Scriba districts 3, 4 and 6 and Volney district 2, Republican, Bradley T. Coe; Stephen M. Walpole

District 20, Oswego town, Conservative, Douglas Malone; Joseph Susino.


Councilor Ward 1, Republican, Bradley J. Warner; Thomas G. Kenyon

Councilor Ward 4, Republican, James R. Myers; Mark Sherman

Councilor Ward 4, Independence, James R. Myers; Ralph Stacy Jr.

County Committee, Ward 3 District 1, Republican, Timothy Crandell; Jeffrey Kinney; Mark Sherman


Supervisor, Republican, Carl Anson Jr.; David Aaron Walter

Council member, Republican, Randy Mattison; Lonny Mattison; Richard Mullin; Nancy Sheeley


Council member, Republican, Susan D. Halbritter; Bruce E. Stone; Edmund J. Lescenski

Council member, Independence, Susan D. Halbritter; Bruce E. Stone; Lawrence C. Rayder

Highway superintendent, Republican, Jonathon E. Granger; Franklyn Sampson; John Perkins III


Town clerk, Republican, Doreen Macklen; Paulette Skinner

Council member, Republican, Jimmy J. Walker; Dale McNitt; James Macklen


Council member, Conservative, Eric Clothier; Mike French; Brenda Frazier Hartle


Justice, Republican, Jack Beckwith Jr.; Edward Lewis; Eugene Hafner

Justice, Conservative, Jack Beckwith Jr.; Edward Lewis; Eugene Hafner

Highway superintendent, Republican, George Ritchie; Sean Simpson

Highway superintendent, Conservative, George Ritchie; Sean Simpson; Daniel Mahaney


Highway superintendent, Republican, Robert Clark; Linwood Woody Hall


Justice, Republican, Jon Moretti; Douglas Horton


Town clerk, Conservative, Mary Ann Phillips; Kelly I. Reader

Sandy Creek 

Highway superintendent, Republican, Tim Crast; Michael Kastler Jr.

Mayor (only for village of Sandy Creek district 3), Republican, Steven J. Washburn; Grant J. Rohrmoser


Supervisor, Republican, Patrick J. Nugent; Lynett Greco

Council member, Republican, Timothy J. Dunnigan; Suzanne M. Duquette; Stephen Hutchins


Highway superintendent, Republican, Roger S. Myers; Michael J. Barry

County considers ways to cut legal costs for indigent defendants

By Debra J. Groom

Oswego County officials and the county’s bar association are trying to find a way to cut costs in the Oswego County Assigned Counsel office.

At the Aug. 26 meeting of the county legislature’s Government, Courts and Consumer Affairs committee, legislators heard that the Oswego County Bar Association has submitted a proposal with changes in the assigned counsel office that could save the county about $200,000 a year.

Assigned counsel office spending began to escalate about 2009 when the office began handling more cases and some very high-profile cases.

From 2008 to 2009, the number of cases went up from 2,018 to 2,208 and the spending went from $1,065,047 in 2008 to $1,552,021 in 2009.

For the rest of this story, pick up the Sept. 5 edition of The Valley News. Call 598-6397 to subscribe.

Rolfe to chair United Way campaign cabinet

Kick-off breakfast is Sept. 11 in Oswego

Melanie Trexler, executive director, United Way of Greater Oswego County, has announced that Rob Rolfe of Harmony Financial Services will serve as chairperson for the United Way’s Campaign Cabinet.

A longtime supporter of United Way, Rolfe has served the agency in a number of capacities including 13 years as an employee campaign coordinator, a member of the community investment committee for nine years and a member of the Campaign Cabinet for the past five years.

Having previously served as co-chairperson for United Way’s Annual Campaign, Rolfe is excited to take the reins for the 2013 campaign.

“I am a strong believer in the power of the United Way,” Rolf said. “From the more than 400,000 meals served by United Way member agency soup kitchens, nutrition sites and food pantries, to the countless number of youth, seniors and families that receive assistance when they need it the most, programs supported by United Way continue to make a difference by positively impacting the quality of life in Oswego County.

“I gladly lend my support to United Way because the member agency programs it supports serve our neighbors, family and friends right here in Oswego County,” said Rolfe.

“Rob and everyone in our Campaign Cabinet are excited about this year’s campaign,” Trexler said.

“They have established a precise plan of action that will allow us to achieve our campaign goals and through our member agencies, serve as many families and individuals in Oswego County as possible,” said Trexler.

Rolfe sees this year’s campaign as a challenge that members of the Campaign Cabinet and the volunteers that serve as employee campaign coordinators are ready to take on.

“The economy continues to be an issue for many families,” Rolfe said. “There is a greater need for services. Working together we can insure that those services continue to meet the needs of those less fortunate. It’s our community … and it’s personal!”

The United Way’s Annual Campaign, which serves as the organization’s primary fundraiser, will officially get underway with a kick-off breakfast 8 to 9 a.m. Sept. 11 at American Foundry, Route 104 East (behind the Fajita Grill) in Oswego.

“We invite community members to join us for the United Way Campaign Kick-Off Breakfast and learn more about the United Way and how their donations to the campaign make a difference in the quality of life in Oswego County,” added Trexler.

For more information, or to make reservations, contact Lois Luber at 593-1900 or via email at

OCO welcomes new employees

Oswego County Opportunities, one of the top 10 largest private employers in Oswego County, has welcomed six new members to the agency’s staff.

The employees, who will join the OCO’s staff of human services professionals, recently completed the agency’s orientation process and will begin to serve consumers in their respective programs.

Designed to acclimate new employees with the history, mission and vision OCO, the agency’s orientation provides new employees with the tools, guidance and atmosphere they need to thrive and continue to grow in their new positions.

“We take pride in our workforce and the job that they do. To ensure that OCO employees provide our consumers with the outstanding service they deserve, we offer each new staff member every opportunity to become a productive employee and excel in their position,” said Christine Prevost, training coordinator. “Additionally, our culture is to encourage employees to continue their growth and to take advantage of the many training opportunities available to them.”

Prevost added that OCO’s monthly orientation sessions offer in-depth information on the structure, programming and history of OCO.

“In addition to receiving training on mandated items such as HIPAA confidentiality, diversity and right-to-know, we discuss expectations and growth as our culture is to encourage employees to take advantage of the many training opportunities that are available and the best way to pursue them. Our orientation session is a full day of training and information that will allow our new employees to build a successful career at OCO,” said Prevost.

OCO Inc is a private, nonprofit agency that has been supporting communities throughout the county since 1966.

A member agency of the United Way of Greater Oswego County, OCO provides more than 50 services throughout 80 locations. For more information, visit

County reiterates stand against federal Lake Ontario plan

By Debra J. Groom

The Oswego County government has again sent a letter to federal officials opposing the proposed plan for regulating Lake Ontario water levels.

The county went on the record last summer when it sent its first opposition letter against the plan, then called Bv7.

But this year, the plan was revised and so the county decided to send another letter to the International Joint Commission, the agency in charge of controlling water levels on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

Frank Bevacqua, spokesman for the International Joint Commission’s United States office in Washington, D.C., said the comment period on the plan ended Aug. 30.

The county legislature’s Economic Development and Planning Committee voted Aug. 26 to send a letter opposing the plan.

For the rest of this story, pick up the print version of the Valley News. Call 598-6397 to subscribe.

Legislators discuss moving records center after jail demolition

By Debra J. Groom

The Oswego County Legislature’s Old Jail committee decided this week to seek proposals from companies who can put together a bid document for the demolition of the structure.

County Administrator Philip Church said the county could have tried to seek demolition bids itself, but having a firm such as an engineering management company draw up the bid specifications will ensure the county receives good bids from companies that can do the work.

He showed committee members one such bid document that was about an inch thick.

For the rest of this story, pick up the print version of The Valley News. Call 598-6397 to subscribe.

Wild Mushrooms Festival set Sept. 15

The Vince O’Neil Wild Mushrooms Festival returns to Beaver Lake Nature Center from 1 to 4 p.m. Sept. 15.

Members of the Central New York Mycological Society will discuss edible and poisonous mushrooms, those that help trees and hurt trees, and those that are decomposers.

Guided hikes through the woodlands around Beaver Lake in search of various species of mushrooms are scheduled for 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. Each walk will be limited to the first 30 participants.

Tables with identified mushrooms will be on display and experts will be available to identify mushrooms brought in.

Activities include cooking demonstrations, how to grow mushrooms, crafting with mushrooms and spore print demonstrations.

The events are free with nature center admission.