Category Archives: Phoenix News

Deadline Dec.18 to apply to take Civil Service tests

Wednesday Dec.18  is the deadline for applications to take a number of Civil Service exams coming up Jan. 25.

The positions are Housing Program Specialist, Housing Program Inspector and Accounting Supervisor Grade B.

Candidates must be legal residents of Oswego County for a minimum of four months preceding the Jan. 25 date of examination. Application are available at the Personnel Department, County Office Building, 46 E. Bridge St., Oswego or online at http://www.oswegocounty.com/personnel/openings.html.

‘Next Great Idea’ business competition set to begin

“The Next Great Idea: 2014 Oswego County Business Plan Competition”  is about to begin.

The competition culminates with  $25,000 awarded to the winner at an awards luncheon in November 2014, said Austin Wheelock, co-chair of the NGI Steering Committee.

The NGI competition will accept Business Concept Proposals Jan. 22 through April 11.

The Next Great Idea Oswego County Business Plan Competition began in

2008 when economic development officials along with business and community leaders came together to develop a program to encourage entrepreneurism and develop a solution for a problem many businesses find when getting started- access to equity capital.

“We knew we had a lot of great business ideas in the community but the recurring obstacle we kept finding when trying to assist businesses was a lack of equity for companies to get off the ground or to go to a bank and obtain traditional financing,” Wheelock added.

“We were losing companies and talented entrepreneurs to areas that had these types of programs and cultures of entrepreneurism in place,” he said.

Financial contributions that support this program come from the Richard S. Shineman Foundation of Oswego, Operation Oswego County, the Small Business Development Center at SUNY Oswego, Key Bank, and Pathfinder Bank.

In addition, the $25,000 equity prize can potentially be leveraged to borrow up to $250,000 in partnership with local banks, the County of Oswego Industrial Development Agency, the cities of Oswego and Fulton community development offices, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and other economic development agencies and programs.

Since the program began, it has made the dream of owning a business come true for two companies.

Lakeside Artisans Cooperative won the 2010 competition and Ocean Blue Technology, LLC, was the winner of the inaugural NGI competition in 2008.

Lakeside Artisans is a start-up, for-profit cooperative that has developed a retail and gallery showcase in Oswego’s Canal Commons to promote local artwork and artisans’ crafts. They have grown from a core group of six artists to more than 20 and continue to expand.

OBT, a Fulton-based manufacturing company, developed the DiveBud™ Scuba Safety Platform which is designed to be safer than its competitors and to appeal to the recreational and commercial diving market.

The DiveBud is a floating marker with a reflective flag and LED beacon that is tethered to the diver below.

The first phase of the 2014 NGI Competition will formally begin on Jan. 22 and the deadline for submitting proposals is April 11. The entire competition consists of three phases that will require the selected participants to develop full business plans and make their “pitch” in person to a panel of judges.

The judging panel will be composed of local bankers, business owners, venture capitalists and angel investors. This panel will determine which proposals will be selected to enter the subsequent phases culminating in the winner being chosen and honored at a luncheon in late 2014.

Ideas that are not selected will receive written feedback from the judges of how to improve their proposals for the future.

“We’ve designed the NGI program in a way to benefit all the participants involved, not just the ultimate winner of the competition,” Wheelock said. “If we have one $25,000 prize winner come out of this, but several bankable, feasible business plans with confident entrepreneurs then everyone wins, especially Oswego County.”

For more information, visit the website at www.oswegocounty.org/ngi, which includes an overview of the event, the application, a competition timeline, guidelines, details on the $25,000 prize, sponsors, and partners.

You may also call Austin Wheelock at -343-1545 or email at ngi@oswegocounty.org.

A note about holiday news deadlines

We here at The Valley News love receiving news items and photographs sent to us to place in the newspaper.

As devout readers know, we fill the paper twice a week with lots of school news, events and happenings from area nonprofit agencies, business news, city and county government news, church happenings, sports and senior news.

There also are the popular weekly columns — Hodgepodge, In and Around Hannibal, Jerry’s Journal, Bodley Bulletins, A Sportman’s World and Light in the Darkness.

For all of you who send items to us, there are some deadline changes for the coming weeks due to the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. These deadlines are for news items — retail advertising, classified advertising, etc., has different deadlines.

If you want to get an item in the Saturday, Dec. 21 Valley News, you must have it to me by 1 p.m. Monday Dec. 16.

If you want to get an item in the Tuesday Dec. 24 paper (we are publishing Dec. 24 because Wednesday is Christmas), you must have the items to me by 3 p.m. Monday Dec. 16.

If you want to place an item in the Saturday Dec. 28 Valley News, please have it to me by 9 a.m. Monday Dec. 23.

There is no newspaper Wednesday Jan. 1.

If you want to place an item in the Saturday Jan. 4 Valley News, send it along to me by noon Dec. 31.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and keep those items coming. Send to editor@valleynewsonline.com or dgroom@scotsmanmediagroup.comand

Oswego County budget approved

The Oswego County Legislature adopted the 2014 county budget Thursday night by a vote of 17 to 8.

Three Republican legislators joined the five Democrats in voting against the spending plan. Those voting ‘no’ were Michael Kunzwiler, Amy Tresidder and Jacob Mulcahey, Democrats from Oswego; Douglas Malone, D-Oswego Town; Daniel Farfaglia, D-Fulton; Margaret Kastler, R-Lacona; Shawn Doyle, R-Pulaski; and Daniel Chalifoux, R-Minetto.

The legislature approved amendments totaling about $177,000 before adopting the final budget. The final budget totals about $197 million.

The tax levy — the amount to be raised by taxes — increased $17,894 with the amendments. The tax rate will be $7.19 per $1,000 of assessed value, compared to $7.10 per $1,000 in 2013.

Legislators also approved a pilot project brought to them by District Attorney Gregory Oakes to spend $26,000 to hire an outside lawyer to handle all of the county’s appeals of felony convictions. Currently, one of the assistant district attorneys in the county DA’s office handles the appeals. Oakes said if this lawyer instead spends all her time on prosecuting felony cases in county court, cases will be able to move through the system at a quicker pace, alleviating the amount of time defendants are spending in the county jail.

Oakes said this could lead to fewer people in the county jail at any one time. Sheriff Reuel Todd has had problems for the last three years with overcrowding and has had to send inmates to other jails at a huge expense to Oswego County.

Public hearing Thursday Dec. 12 on proposed 2014 county budget

By Debra J. Groom

A public hearing on the 2014 Oswego County budget is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday in Oswego.

The proposed 2014 spending plan $196.8 million. The tax levy — the amount to be raised by taxes — is $42.6 million, the same as in 2013.

This means most people in the county would pay about 9 cents more per $1,000 of assessed valuation in 2014.

For a house assessed at $70,000, that would be an additional $6.30 for the year.

The rate would be $7.19 per $1,000, compared to $7.10 per $1,000 in 2013.

The county Legislature’s Personnel and Finance committee approved the budget Dec. 3.

No one on the committee made any comments or suggestions for changes in the budget or cuts that could be made during that meeting.

After the public hearing, the full Legislature can  make cuts or additions to the budget. The Legislature may vote to adopt the budget thta night.

The budget portion of the meeting is at 7 p.m. in the legislative chambers in the county office building.

Earlier in the day, at 2 p.m., the legislature will have the first part of its regular monthly meeting and will tackle other issues such as:

1) Vote on whether to ban the state of New York from using the county seal, name or letterhead for any purpose associated with the SAFE Act.

The SAFE Act was enacted in January to strengthen gun laws in the state by requiring universal background checks to buy guns and increasing penalties for people using illegal guns. According to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the law “imposes the toughest assault weapons ban in the country.”

The law has been unpopular in many parts of the state, including Oswego County.

Many lawful gun owners, including sportsmen and hunters, believe the law infringes on their rights to own guns.

Oswego County Clerk Michael Backus said he voted in November for a resolution banning the state from using county seals in his SAFE Act promotions.

“I voted for, and the (state) Clerks Association unanimously passed, a resolution opposed to the use of county seals regarding the SAFE Act,” Backus said.

“Quite honestly, it’s another example of how flawed this law is that the governor shoved through the legislature,” Backus said. “It was advertised to have no financial impact on counties and that has been proven to be false.”

Part of the law allows a list of a county’s gunowners names to be released to the public unless the gunowners fill out a form opting out.

This is costing counties money — namely about $26,144 in Oswego County, Backus said.

“That figure covers shifting staff time to cover pistol permits, additional staff hours, and increased supply costs,” Backus said. “Those numbers correlate with a 60 percent increase in pistol permit transactions as compared with 2012. Background checks alone are up over 112 percent.

“As you can see, the SAFE Act most certain has a local cost that was not anticpated and has been largely dismissed by the governor,” Backus said.

A television report recently stated some counties are trying to get the state to reimburse them for these costs.

Reports in other media say the state wants to use county seals in letters to pistol permit holders concerning the permit recertificaion process.

But counties have nothing to do with recertification — the new law has turned this duty over to the State Police.

2) Vote on a resolution to impose a dog quarantine in the county through April so dogs do not run loose and harass or attack deer in the wild.

3) Vote on contracts with two firms dealing with collecting appraisal information used in the tax certiorari court proceeding with Entergy for the James FitzPatrick Nuclear Plant.

The two firms are George Sansoucy LLC and Cost Plus Consulting LLC.

Phoenix varsity wrestlers ready to begin season

The Phoenix varsity wrestling team comes into the season looking to fill the voids left behind by Nick Tighe and Rowdy Prior.

In fact, Coach Gene Mills suggests that in many ways, this season will be a rebuilding year, which is uncharted territory for Mills and the Firebirds.

The Firebirds inexperienced team is striving to learn and develop one match at a time. However, Mills is allowing only so much cushioning for his young team. He hopes his wrestlers show significant individual and team development by mid- to late January.

Mills is quick to mention that this season’s team might be one of the most inexperienced teams that he’s coached at Phoenix.

The Firebirds return only two junior and senior starters from last year’s team, which means a lot will be expected of lone senior Jason Nipper, junior Derrick Button and sophomores Brad Dietz, Will Hilliard and Tim Gandino.

However, Phoenix does feature many younger wrestlers with an abundance of potential. “(Our younger kids) need to find out where we are and where we need to go to get where we want to be”, Mills said.

When practice began in early November, Mills expected his wrestlers to show up in decent physical condition. In fact, it is a known fact the wrestlers will be physically tested from the first day of practice.

Mills felt the physical conditioning of his team was questionable at best during the first few days of practice. However, this is a bit of an issue that coaches have come to expect over the years. Wrestlers always get to work knowing that their physical conditioning will develop more and more as December approaches. Mills feels his team’s physical conditioning has improved greatly since early November.

The Firebirds practice for two hours every day, working hard on many skills development drills which tend to develop their bodies’ abilities at a solid pace.

Mills has yet to name captains for the upcoming season. He said his captains are expected to be impressive individuals socially, academically and athletically regardless of what grade a wrestler may be in.

Those named as captains may not necessarily be the best wrestlers on the team, but are the individuals who show the most initiative towards being a role model socially and in the classroom as well as within the sport of wrestling itself.

Phoenix looks forward to the opportunity to take part in the challenging dual tournaments awaiting them. The Firebirds will be a little banged up during their dual meets but they expect to be fully recovered and even more competitive by early to mid-January.

Returning Sectional Place Winners Brad Dietz, Tim Gandino and Will Hilliard are expected to be a major strength for Phoenix this season. Dietz, Gandino and Hilliard clearly have what it takes to step up and be leadership figures for the Firebirds. Their guidance will be key in the development of the many hardworking younger wrestlers Phoenix will feature this season. Mills suggests with the right leadership, his younger wrestlers could begin to see their hard work pay off during the second half of the season.

Frederick “Ted” Bidwell, co-owner and VP of North End Paper Mill

Frederick E. “Ted” Bidwell, 83, of Palermo, passed away at his home Wednesday Dec. 4.

He co-owned, operated and was vice president of North End Paper Mill in Fulton retiring in 1991.

Ted was also an independent masonry contractor for many years. He enjoyed hunting and was founder of the Eight Point Club in Addison, N.Y.

Ted was predeceased by his wife of 55 years, Carolyn Grassi Bidwell in 2006.

Surviving are his four children, Fred Bidwell Jr. (Sharon) of Palermo, Mary Ann Czyz (Randy) of Baldwinsville, Tom Bidwell (Carol) of Palermo and Teresa Eggert (Fred Mellini) of Fulton; a brother, Francis “Butch” Bidwell (Connie) of Palermo; eight grandchildren; 15 great-grandchildren and many nieces, nephews and cousins.

Services will be private at the convenience of the family. Memorial contributions are encouraged to the American Heart Association, P.O. Box 417005, Boston, MA 02241-7005.

Foster Funeral Home, Fulton has care of arrangements.

Time to get out and buy a fresh Oswego County-grown Christmas tree

The holiday season is here and it’s time to get out to buy a fresh Oswego County-grown Christmas tree.

Buying local not only supports Oswego County farms, but it also assures the freshest tree possible. Fresh cut trees smell better and keep their needles longer.

“If purchased locally, and displayed properly with plenty of water, most real Christmas trees have excellent needle retention,” said Faye Beckwith, of Beckwith Family Christmas Tree Station in Hannibal and former president of the Christmas Tree Farmers of New York State.

“Many of our customers report few or no needles on the floor after several weeks in their homes. While most people enjoy the aroma of our farm fresh trees, we also grow a fragrance-free variety that is a favorite with people with sensitive noses,” she said.

“Real Christmas trees are the best choice for both the environment and the economy,” Beckwith said. “Real Christmas trees are a renewable and recyclable resource. They are grown as a crop, by local farmers who provide jobs for others.

“Trees are harvested and replenished annually. As they grow, real trees absorb harmful carbons and produce fresh oxygen,” she said.

Beckwith added “the experience of going to the farm to choose the perfect tree fosters family traditions and creates memories that last a lifetime.”

Cooperative Extnesion supplied this list of Oswego County tree farmers:

Austin Tree Farm – 221 Baldwin Road, Volney

Beckwith Family Christmas Tree Station – 189 Mill St., Hannibal

Bis-Mar Farms – County Route, West Monroe

Chengerian’s Tree Land – Merritt Road,  Lysander

Darling’s Christmas Tree Farm – 280 Blythe Road, Hannibal

Emerald Mist Christmas Tree Farm – 1484 Rathburn Road, Oswego

Finnerty Hill Tree Farm – 3750 County Route, Williamstown

Goodman’s Christmas Tree Farm – 460 Gilbert Mills Road, Phoenix

Grace Farms – 78 Gunther Road, Central Square

Granger’s Christmas Tree Farm – 380 Tubbs Road, Mexico

H & H Trees – 1430 Co Rte 28, Tinker Tavern Road, Pulaski

Hemlock Haven Tree Farm – 460 County Route 22A (Ellisburg Street), Sandy Creek

Leonard’s Evergreens – 70 Dunham Road, Hannibal

Spring Pond Farm – 3439 U.S. Route 11, Mexico

Three Season Farm – 429 Drybridge Road, Mexico

Trust Nursery & Florist – 4347 U.S. Route 11, Pulaski

Whitetail Acres Christmas Tree Farm – 1685 State Route 264, Phoenix