The onset of spring brings thoughts of making home improvements and repairs.
“But, watch out for dishonest home repair firms,” warns Oswego County Sheriff Reuel A. Todd.
The sheriff offers some tips on how you can avoid fraudulent home improvement and repair schemes:
Be leery of offers to do an expensive job for an unusually low price. Once you sign the contract, you learn why — they never deliver the service.
Be suspicious of high-pressure sales tactics.
Shop around. Ask friends, neighbors, or co-workers for references. Always get several estimates for every repair job and compare the prices and terms. Check to see if there is a charge for estimates before asking for one to be done.
Before choosing a firm, ask the firm for references and check them out. When you find people you trust, stick with them.
Check the identification of all “inspectors.”
Call the local Consumer Affairs Office or Better Business Bureau to check the company’s reputation before you authorize any work to be done.
Pay by check, never with cash. Arrange to make payments in installments, one-third at the beginning of the job, one-third when the work is nearly completed, and one-third after the job is done.
“Sometimes you might not know you’ve been cheated until it’s too late,” Todd said. “If you don’t report fraud, you’re only helping the crooks; that’s just what they want.”
The sheriff stresses to report any and all fraud you’ve been a victim of by contacting the sheriff’s office or your local police.
If you’re a victim of fraud, they want to know about it. In addition, contact your local district attorney or the state Attorney General’s Consumer Fraud Division.
“If we all take special precautions,” Todd concluded, “we can all outsmart the dishonest people.”
For more information on the Child Advocacy Center of Oswego County, call 592-4453.
To report a case of abuse, call the state Child Protective Services hotline at (800) 342-3720. If you feel a child is in immediate danger, call 911.
By Debra J. Groom
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month.
And Oswego County is doing more to help children be safe by reporting more cases of child abuse than ever before.
The number of children and families served by the Child Advocacy Center in Fulton increased by 48 percent from 2012-2013 – from about 320 in 2012 to 475 in 2013.
The Child Advocacy Center, the Oswego County Department of Social Services and others are stressing the importance of knowing the signs of abuse and letting authorities know when abuse occurs.
Oswego County is keenly aware of child abuse as a result of the Erin Maxwell case in 2008.
Erin was 11 years old when she was found unresponsive in her Palermo home by her stepbrother, Alan Jones. She was taken to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Jones was charged with her murder and her father and stepmother, Lindsey and Lynn Maxwell, were found guilty of four counts of endangering the welfare of a child. Jones’ conviction eventually was reduced to manslaughter and he is serving tie in Fishkill Correctional Facility. According to Vinelink, he is scheduled for release in June 2015.
Lindsey and Lynn Maxwell were sentenced to two years in the Oswego County jail, but were released after serving 15 months.
When investigating Erin’s death, police found that she lived in deplorable conditions, was locked in her room to eat and sometimes went to school with dirty clothing and no lunch. It came to light during the investigation that the Oswego County Department of Social Services had investigated reports about the Maxwell household and Erin, but did not remove her from the house. Many faulted the department for its inaction.
Since then, many changes were made to the way these cases are handled in Oswego County. Cornell University completed one of three studies done looking at how the social services department worked at that time. The report found Oswego County’s caseworkers were overworked, handling nearly double the national and state average of cases per caseworker.
Changes were made after the reports and more caseworkers were hired. Gregg Heffner, who was hired as commissioner of the Department of Social Services about three years after the Erin Maxwell case, said previously all of those working in the department learned from the Erin Maxwell case and have made improvements to ensure it never happens again.
One change made is the start of a Child Protection Advisory Council that meets monthly. The group, consisting of people from many different agencies throughout the county, works to increase employees’ training, make sure they are all following regulations and that workers are using the best practices possible.
Karrie Damm, executive director of the Child Advocacy Center, is on that advisory council.
“I heard a quote once that stated ‘for every one educated adult, 10 children are safer,’” she said. She believes the more people learn about child abuse, the more they understand what abuse is and how to prevent it, then the number of children being abused will decrease.
Both she and Oswego County District Attorney Gregory Oakes say the number of reported cases of child abuse coming into the Child Advocacy Center has increased so much because there is more abuse going on, but also because people are coming forward more often to report abuse cases.
Heffner recently said in a letter to the editor to The Valley News that it is important for people to report child abuse to the authorities. There is a state hotline for reporting cases, and abuse also can be called into the Child Advocacy Center or any police agency.
But people often are reluctant to report, feeling they shouldn’t stick their noses into someone else’s life or worrying the person they are reporting will come after them.
“People have to be trusting that there will be a response to their call,” Damm said. “People often feel as though ‘no one will listen to me.’”
Sometimes, the authorities aren’t listening well enough.
Oakes tells a story on how a trustworthy person he knows in the community called him about child abuse he saw in a family. Oakes said he checked out the information with others and found it to be valid and “caused me great concern as a DA and as a father.”
He called the state hotline to make a report. The state worker took Oakes’ information, but asked more questions. Oakes couldn’t answer the other questions, so the hotline worker said there was not enough information to take a report.
“I got very loud and threw my title out there,” Oakes said. “This mandated CPS (Child Protective Services) involvement. How can you turn this down?” Oakes said to the hotline worker. “This case screamed out for CPS involvement.”
Oakes then said he was going to call a press conference to let the world know the state hotline office was doing. He then was switched over to a supervisor who took the report.
Damm said if someone from the Child Advocacy Center calls the hotline with the case and is rejected, “we call back 10 minutes later to get another person to talk to or we ask for a supervisor.” She said it’s important for the public to know if they don’t get anywhere when trying to report a case of child abuse, don’t stop – try again.
“We like to blame the system. This is a community problem with a community solution,” she said.
People can report to the state hotline anonymously if they are afraid of retribution. But Damm said often it doesn’t matter if a person does or doesn’t give their names when reporting because the person doing the abuse usually knows who made a report.
“We have to be braver than the people doing the evil deeds,” she said.
Oakes, who prosecuted child abuse cases for six and a half years as an assistant district attorney in Oswego County, said many who abuse were abused themselves as children. “One of the best ways to break the cycle is to use prosecution, social services for the family and mental health services” for the child and the family.
If abuser were just prosecuted and then thrown in jail, the cycle of abuse would continue. “In many cases, abuse has gone unreported for many years across generations,” Oakes said.
That is why the nonprofit Child Advocacy Center works hand-in-hand with local law enforcement, prosecution, child protective services, medical providers, therapy providers and victim advocacy professionals in Oswego County. The center works with the parents and with the children.
“To prevent child abuse, we have to have conversations about it, keep talking about it, educate yourself and support the local program that helps kids,” Damm said. “Remember — one educated adult keeps 10 kids safer.”
Veteran continuing education administrator Jill Pippin has joined SUNY Oswego as dean of extended learning.
Oswego’s Division of Extended Learning serves a wide array of part-time students and working adults interested in pursuing degrees, career-specific coursework and professional development opportunities in Oswego, Syracuse and Phoenix and online.
Pippin comes to SUNY Oswego from Jefferson Community College in Watertown, where she was dean for continuing education and a member of the senior academic leadership team responsible for innovative and community-oriented programs for adult and nontraditional students.
In her new position, Pippin takes charge of programs at the SUNY Oswego Metro Center in Syracuse, offering graduate courses in business, education, mental health counseling and other fields as well as professional development workshops, contract training and noncredit courses.
She also will be in charge of the SUNY Oswego Phoenix Center and its management consulting and professional development programs; the college’s summer and winter sessions; and a variety of other programs and initiatives to serve nontraditional students.
“What I really get excited about in terms of extended learning is I like to serve those under-served populations — the part-time student, adult student, evening student, online student — in ways that allow us to be flexible so that they can continue their education,” Pippin said.
“We offer the gamut, from our high school programs for students who are ready to take on the challenge of a college class all the way through to the person who already has a master’s degree and comes back for some professional development to hone a skill.
“We are trying to address the different, the nontraditional, audiences — the veterans audience, the international and English as a second language audience, folks more physically or geographically bound. It’s about being innovative, flexible and responsive,” Pippin said.
At Jefferson Community College, Pippin managed several associate’s degree programs, an office at Fort Drum, military and veterans’ services, a high school program, summer and winter course offerings on campus, online and at offsite locations, and Jefferson Express noncredit, workforce development and contract course programs.
She developed and cultivated the Jefferson Higher Education Center from its inception, proposed and administered more than $2.15 million in grants, and increased revenue and enrollment during her eight-year tenure at the community college.
Her earlier career spanned both academic and business positions in roles such as director for graduate services and enrollment, business adjunct instructor, director of operations, and major accounts manager.
Pippin earned a master’s degree in business administration at Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio, and a bachelor’s degree from SUNY Oswego in communication studies with an emphasis in interpersonal communication.
She received the Continuing Education Association of New York’s Outstanding Continuing Educator Award for 2013 and the 20 Under 40 Award from the Watertown Daily Times in 2009.
Metropolitan Opera bass-baritone Philip Cokorinos, a 1979 alumnus of SUNY Oswego, will perform in concert at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 30, in the college’s Sheldon Hall ballroom as the season finale of the Ke-Nekt Chamber Music Series.
A member of the Metropolitan Opera roster for more than 27 years, Cokorinos has appeared numerous times in productions of “Tosca,” “Macbeth,” “La Bohème” and many others. His notable roles for the Met have included those of Leporello and Masetto in “Don Giovanni” and the English ambassador in John Corigliano’s “The Ghosts of Versailles.”
SUNY Oswego music faculty member Juan F. La Manna, Cokorinos’ host, will accompany him on the piano and give a preconcert talk scheduled for 7 p.m.
“Philip has traveled the world singing,” La Manna said. “He studied here and went on the big world. He has come back to help Oswego Opera Theatre a number of times. He is a wonderful guy and a star.”
Cokorinos has performed more than 100 leading roles with eminent companies around the globe. Reviewing his performance in the title role of “Don Pasquale,” the Santa Barbara Independent wrote, “Philip Cokorinos was terrific as the production’s lead, handling his many agitated diatribes and inadvertent duets with aplomb.”
This season at the Met, he performed Benoit/Alcindoro in “La Bohème,” Don Maginifico in “La Cenerentola,” as well as covering the roles of Sacristan in “Tosca” and Mathieu in “Andrea Chenier.”
Tickets for the Philip Cokorinos concert are $15 ($7 for students), and are available at all SUNY Oswego box offices, online at tickets.oswego.edu and by calling 315-312-2141. Patrons with disabilities needing assistance should call 312-2141 in advance of the concert.
Parking is included in the price of the ticket and is available in the employee and commuter lots adjacent to and across Washington Boulevard from Sheldon Hall.
Students from the Oswego Taekwondo America martial art school on 133 E. Bridge St., traveled to Monroe Community College in Rochester March 22 to participate in the 19th annual Rochester Super Cup Tournament.
More than 500 students from eight central New York Taekwondo schools, all under Grand Master Kim’s direction, attended the annual event to match their skills against one another in forms competition, sparring, board breaking.
The yearly event is organized by the master instructors of the all three Rochester Sam Kim Martial Arts schools.
Black Belt instructors and students from all the schools contribute and assist while Black Belt judges score the students’ efforts and abilities. Good sportsmanship and friendly competition is the focus of Grand Master Kim’s tournaments and all students, young and older, compete with an emphasis on personal growth and development.
Students of similar age and rank compete against one another, demonstrating theirs skills and abilities at the same time as they develop confidence and pride in themselves.
Competitors, as young as age 4 are matched as closely as possible, according to age, weight and belt rank and all students participating received specially designed medals which had been made and shipped from Korea.
In the morning, participants competed in the new Hamadan Style Creative Poomse Division competition. Students performed a Poomse of their choice in groups of two or more, and scoring was based on synchronicity and creativity.
The standard Poomse Competition followed this new event and students were awarded trophies for their individual accomplishments.
Each students’ execution is judged according to their intensity and accuracy of the standard Taekwondo poomses. The Poomses are a specific series of choreographed blocks, punches, kicks and stances, developed by the Taekwondo Masters of Korea centuries ago.
Poomses have been handed down through the generations and are an integral aspect in the study of any martial art. Poomses are practiced over and over again, reinforcing proper technique, enhancing one’s balance, accentuation and intensity each time they are preformed. Poomses are the foundation of any martial art.
Immediately following the Poomse competition, competitors were able to compete in Board Breaking Competition. Taekwondo means “the art of hand and foot,” and in this event performers are able to show off their power, skill and creativity in still another dimension.
Each competitor broke, or attempted to break, two boards. Creativity, intensity and level of difficulty were considered by the judges as well as technique and power. All students participating received trophies for their achievements
This year’s event featured a new event, Demo Team Competition. Three schools from Rochester participated in this event and inspired viewers and visiting participants and each school has been challenged to enter their own Demo Teams in the next tournament.
Taekwondo America in Oswego already plans to enter a Taekwondo America Demo Team for the Watertown Tournament held in August and this year’s Governor’s Cup, held in October in Rochester.
Sparring competition completed the all day event. Sparring, or “Gyoroogi” matches are single elimination fights between two competitors wearing protective sparring gear. A match consists of at least two one-minute rounds, where points are accumulated when a competitor makes proper contact with their opponent with a properly executed punch or kick, in a specifically designated area on their helmet or chest protector (Hogu).
The culminating sparring performances of the advanced Adult Black Belts topped off the day’s activities.
For more information call Oswego Taekwondo America, call Master Leo Pryor at 342 2470 or visit the website at masterpryorstkda.com
April 27 is a very big day for Paws Across Oswego County, a local nonprofit animal rescue located in Oswego.
For its ninth year, Paws Across Oswego County is hosting its annual Open House and Rescue Fundraiser.
Paws Across Oswego County’s Open House will be from noon to 5 p.m. at Paws & Effect at 2035 County Route 1 in Oswego. Inquiries regarding event questions or donations can be sent to email@example.com.
This event is known for bringing local animal rescues together to spread the word about animal adoption and to raise funds for their cause.
There are drawings, a silent auction, food, demonstrations, a bake sale, door prizes and more.
The silent auction includes more than $5,000 in products donated by local and nationwide businesses for the attendees to bid on. Including baskets and gift certificates, the products offered will be both human and pet related.
The drawings also have brought a lot of attention to the cause this year. Tickets are being sold for items such as a Disney Getaway, a one-year supply of Merrick Dog Food, a one-year supply of Merrick Cat Food, a one-year supply of Whole Earth Farms Dog Food and a 32 GB iPad Air.
The Disney trip includes four one-day Park Hopper Passes to Disney World and a three day-two night stay at the Buena Vista Palace Hotel in Orlando, FL.
The pet food drawings will be presented as 12 gift certificates for bags of food and have been generously provided by Merrick Pet Care.
The iPad Air is a 32 GB model that has been donated by Stella and the Merriam Barrett Guest House.
Tickets for the drawings are available for presale at Paws & Effect and will be sold the day of the event for $5 each, three tickets for $10 or 10 tickets for $20.
Lighthouse Lanes will be supplying barbecued chicken and pulled pork meals for sale. Each meal comes with two sides and will be $10 each.
There also will be small salads for vegetarians. There will be a bake sale and drinks available for purchase, as well.
Chiropractors throughout Oswego County will host a special Patient Appreciation Day in support of the United Way of Greater Oswego County.
On Saturday, April 26, participating chiropractors will offer chiropractic treatments for current and former patients, as well as examinations for new patients in exchange for a $20 donation to the United Way of Greater Oswego County.
“Patient Appreciation Day is a wonderful opportunity for health conscious individuals to receive an important examination and valuable information at a very affordable price,” said Melanies Trexler, executive director of the United Way. “You really can’t afford not to take advantage of this rare opportunity.”
All proceeds from the day will benefit United Way of Greater Oswego County and the many member agency programs that the United Way supports.
Chiropractors participating in Patient Appreciation Day include:
Falanga Family Chiropractic
Oswego – 343-2961
Dr. Beth Dubois
Dr. Richard F. Falanga
Family Chiropractic Office
Fulton – (315) 593-7555
Dr. Brett R. Tallents
Oswego – (315) 342-3877
Dr. Casey McCaffrey
Hannibal – (315) 564-7022
Dr. Franklin L. Perkins II
Oswego – (315) 343-5713
Dr. Richard Tesoriero
Oswego – (315) 342-6300
Dr. Anthony Licatese
Dr. Ryan Barker
Active Chiropractic – Oswego
Dr. Jason Cunningham (315) 383-9614
Dr. Dustin Wahrendorf (315) 591-1091
Advanced Wellness Chiropractic
Mexico – (315) 963-8700
Dr. Michael Soucy
Those interested in Patient Appreciation Day are urged to call the participating chiropractor of their choice and schedule an appointment as soon as possible.
For more information, call one of the chiropractors or the United Way at 593-1900.
Residents at Bishop’s Commons welcomed Oswego County Sheriff Reuel Todd who presented tips to help seniors avoid falling victim to “scams” or consumer fraud.
“There are many aggressive and creative ways con artists use to attempt to steal your money and obtain personal information, whether it is through a telephone conversation or an e-mail,” warned Todd.
The Internet alone accounts for billions of dollars in fraudulent activity each year. One of the biggest crimes involves identity theft, usually when an unsuspecting victim provides their name and social security number.
The sheriff warned that consumer fraud is not just happening in other places, but has occurred right here in Oswego County.
“If you receive a phone call where the caller is asking you for personal information,” Todd said, “just hang up; don’t confirm your name or social security number”.
The best way to avoid becoming a victim is to avoid giving out personal information over the phone or by responding to emails from unfamiliar sources.