Category Archives: Other News

Legislator suggests redrawing of Fulton’s city wards

This map outlines Oswego County Legislator Dan Farfaglia's proposed changes to the current ward boundaries in Fulton.  Map courtesy of Dan Farfaglia
This map outlines Oswego County Legislator Dan Farfaglia’s proposed changes to the current ward boundaries in Fulton.
Map courtesy of Dan Farfaglia

By Colin Hogan
A county legislator representing Fulton has proposed that the Common Council consider revamping the boundaries of the city’s wards.
Legislator Dan Farfaglia (D-Fulton, Granby) is suggesting the city redraw the boundaries of its six municipal wards, which according to 2010 U.S. Census figures have vast differences in their populations.
Using the U.S. Census’ adjusted 2010 numbers for Fulton, Farfaglia has come up with the following ward populations: First ward—1,993; second ward—1,760; third ward—1,832; fourth ward—2,421; fifth ward—1,814; sixth ward—2,120.
State law and court decisions have mandated that only a 10 percent deviation (up to 5 percent above and 5 percent below) be allowed from the median population for a district. That means in Fulton, each ward’s population would have to fall somewhere between 1,890 and 2,090 residents.
According to Farfaglia, only the city’s first ward is compliant with those rules. He’s proposing extending the second ward into part of the third ward’s current boundary; the third ward would then extend into the fourth ward’s current boundary, which would put parts of the third ward on both sides of the Oswego River; and the fifth ward would extend partially into the sixth ward’s current boundary.  (See Farfaglia’s map.)
Under that arrangement, Farfaglia’s tally of ward populations would be as follows: First ward—1,993; second ward—2,008; third ward—2,010; fourth ward—1,995; fifth ward—1,951; sixth ward—1,983.
Mayor Ron Woodward Sr. said he doesn’t believe the 2010 census figures were entirely accurate, but that he “wouldn’t oppose” changing the ward boundaries if the council favored doing so.
“I do agree with what the mayor said — that there have been parts of the city undercounted in the last census. But you still have to use whatever the available data is. It doesn’t mean you should just leave the lines as they are,” Farfaglia said. “It’s important that everyone’s vote is counted equally.”
To accommodate Farfaglia’s proposal, however, the city would need to make changes to its charter, which currently does not allow for any wards to cross over the Oswego River. Making such a change would require the public’s consent through a mandatory referendum.
Third Ward Councilor Ryan Raponi said, if the council were to look into making changes, he would like to see the city’s number of wards reduced from six to four.
“I think financially that makes the most sense,” Raponi said, noting the savings of having two fewer councilors on the city’s payroll. “We’re not overworked by any means. I feel like having six of us is a waste of taxpayer money.”
Raponi said he has spoken to at least three other councilors who were “open to discussing” such a change.
According to Oswego County Elections Commissioner Richard Atkins, Fulton’s council has the autonomy to make such changes, provided they are in keeping with any related provisions in the city’s charter. However, reducing the number of wards would be a much more complicated process than just redistributing the population among the existing six, provided one of those wards doesn’t have to cross the river.
“When you start talking about removing wards, you’re talking about reducing the power of elected officials,” Atkins explained, “which would require a mandatory referendum instead of just a passive referendum. The people have to say ‘yeah we want to go to four wards’ rather than just agree to whatever the council has decided.”
Atkins was quick to point out that his office would have no authority over the matter, but would have to accommodate whatever changes were made by adjusting the election districts. He said, in either case, the city would have to work closely with legal counsel and appoint a designated committee to oversee the process.
Should the council decide to pursue a reduction of wards, Atkins said the election cycle would need to be taken into consideration in order to avoid electing more councilors than would be needed once the change goes into effect.
Some on the Common Council said they’re not opposed to making changes to their own structure, but feel a more pressing issue is the number of representatives on the county legislature.
“I’ve got more of a problem with the county’s (representative districts) than I do with the city’s. I don’t think we need four legislators in the city of Fulton and I think (the whole legislature) should go down to about 15 legislators,” said First Ward Councilor Tom Kenyon. Raponi said later in an interview that he agreed with Kenyon.
Farfaglia agreed, as well, saying some of the legislators, including himself, “advocate for that change on a regular basis.”

City honors its first responders

By Matthew Reitz
The city of Fulton honored its first responders Wednesday night at the 19th annual awards ceremony for firefighters and police officers.
Leading off the event, Mayor Ron Woodward Sr. spoke about how fortunate the city is to have such a great team of first responders. He stressed that the awards recognized “just a small part of what they do” for the city.
The ceremony, emceed by Channel 9 anchor and reporter Christie Casciano, featured several stories of local police officers, firefighters, Menter Ambulance EMTs and civilians going above and beyond their duties throughout 2014.
The following awards were given:
Firefighter of the Year
Capt. William Molascon was recognized as Firefighter or the Year for his contributions to the department and the city. Molascon has served in vital roles within the department, and is one of only two members of the department to graduate at the top of their basic training class.
Police Officer of the Year
Jeremy Hutchinson was honored as Police Officer of the Year for his roles in the community and police department. Hutchinson serves the department as the firearms instructor and defensive tactics instructor. He is responsible for making sure all members are kept up to date on use of force and acceptable force tactics.
Hutchinson was given the assignment of School Resource Officer in 2014. Hutchinson is also involved in the community as a wrestling coach at the junior high school and a volunteer coach for the Fulton Youth Wrestling club.
Lifesaving Awards
Officer Sean Hanks, firefighters Chris Adkins and Bob Gardner, EMT Regan Robinson-Barnes, and AEMT David Mendenhall Jr. were each presented with a Lifesaving Award for their efforts to revive an unresponsive young woman.
Officials said in October 2014, Hanks was dispatched to the scene of an unresponsive female in a home on the city’s east side. When Hanks arrived, he found the woman on her back in the living room. Hanks she had recently used heroin. Treating it as an overdose, Hanks grabbed a pocket mask and began rescue breathing. Adkins and Gardner arrived on the scene and began assisting Hanks. Together, they established an airway. Robinson-Barns and Mendenhall arrived and took over. With the information provided by Hanks, they administered Naloxone and continued lifesaving operations. After several minutes the woman began regaining consciousness. She was transported to the hospital and made a full recovery.
Firefighters Rob Rosenbarker and Peter Solinsky, along with EMT Jeffrey Brown, and AEMTs Stephen Sant and Alexander Stevens were also presented with Lifesaving Awards.
According to officials, firefighters Rosenbarker and Solinsky arrived on a scene to find a man unresponsive on the floor. They immediately began CPR. Soon after, Brown, Sant, and Stevens arrived on scene to take over. Believing a drug overdose may be the cause, Naloxone was administered. The man began breathing on his own and later made a full recovery.
Firefighters Stephen Dexter, Kenneth Gleason, Chris Caza, Edward Kasparak, and Paul Kinne were recognized with EMT Joseph Susino, AEMT Michelle Rockwood and AEMT Nathan Smith with a Lifesaving Awards for their efforts to revitalize 84-year-old George Stergius.
Stergius was at the Fulton War Memorial playing tennis when suddenly he slumped over. Firefighters arrived on the scene and found no pulse and no signs of life. An automated external defibrillator (AED) was hooked up and Stergius was shocked for the first time. Susino, Rockwood and Smith arrived to take over lifesaving efforts. Stergius was shocked multiple times with the AED, and went on to make a full recovery.
Sergeant Aimee May, firefighters Eric Hudson and Ken Gleason, EMT Jami Cox and AEMT John Medico were also presented with Lifesaving Awards.
May was dispatched to a possible overdose last spring. Officials say she found a man unresponsive on the floor upon arrival. After a quick evaluation, May performed CPR until Hudson and Gleason arrived. They took over lifesaving efforts, ventilating the man and continuing CPR. Cox and Medico then arrived and administered Naloxone. The man began breathing on his own and was conscious and responsive when they loaded him into the ambulance.
EMTs Steven Parker and Jennifer Figueroa were presented Lifesaving Awards along with AEMTs Gary Frisch and James Pyke for helping keep a mother and her child alive.
According to the description read at the ceremony, a young expectant mother was at home and didn’t feel right last November. At 21 weeks pregnant, she spontaneously gave birth to a son with no warning. Parker, Frisch, Pyke and Figueroa were dispatched to the call to find the young mother holding a small baby gasping for breath.
The mother and baby were loaded into an ambulance and sent to Crouse Hospital. The crew performed CPR on the baby throughout the trip to the hospital. After a long stay at the hospital, the mother and baby are now doing well.
Honorable Service Award
Officer Michael Blasczienski was presented with the Honorable Service Award for diligent and proactive police work that led to two substantial narcotics arrests. The arrests also led to the discovery and safe removal of a mobile meth lab from a populated residential neighborhood.
In November 2013, a neighboring police agency was looking for a man they believed lived in Fulton. Blasczienski was familiar with the man and the vehicle he drove. After searching for the man, Blasczienski spotted what he believed was the man’s truck parked at the rear of a residence. As he approached the vehicle he could see the windshield was fogged up, and shined his flashlight inside. The two startled occupants started reaching down to the floor and scrabbling around in the truck. When they opened the door Blasczienski could see syringes and other obvious drug paraphernalia. An open bag with what appeared to be materials used in the manufacture of methamphetamine was clearly visible. The two people in the vehicle were identified as Michael Procko and Chel-C Dunham.
Neither Dunham nor Procko owned the vehicle but the owner of the vehicle later gave police permission to search it, at which time it was confirmed the truck contained a mobile meth lab. Durnham and Procko were charged with unlawful manufacture of methamphetamine and other narcotics charges.
Exceptional Duty Award
Sergeant Aimee May was presented with the Exceptional Duty Award for a tenacious investigation that led to the arrest and conviction of a sexual predator.
In late 2013, May was approached by a city department supervisor who reported that one of his employees believed an adult and a juvenile had engaged in an inappropriate relationship. May discovered the adult was Lisa Merritt and the juvenile was just 14 years old. May found there had been several reports of this nature in the past involving the two individuals, but there was no evidence to support the complaints and the victim was not cooperative. May continued to work on the case and developed witnesses and evidence over the course of several months. The work culminated in the arrest of Lisa Merritt. Facing overwhelming evidence against her, Merritt pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years in prison.
Exceptional Duty Award
Retired investigator Michael Batstone and investigator Michael Curtis were recognized with the Exceptional Duty Award for their persistence and diligence in investigating a complex armed robbery.
Last summer a hold up alarm was activated at a city convenience store. When police arrived, Phillip Whitney, the store clerk, reported that he had been robbed at gunpoint. Investigators Batstone and Curtis were assigned to the case.
Officials said there were no leads initially, but Batstone and Curtis continued interviewing anyone they could who might have information. After interviewing associates of Whitney, one of them reported they had overheard Whitney talking about a “fake robbery.” Several days later during a narcotics investigation, Batstone learned that Daniel Craig and Andy Jones were involved in the “robbery” along with Whitney. The three men planned the robbery together with the intention of splitting the proceeds.
Civilian Service, Meritorious Service and Samaritan awards
Roman Evans, Allen Winters, Warren Vail, Steven Haste and Douglas Gibson were presented with the Civilian Service Award for their efforts to attend to a motor vehicle accident.
Officer Jarrett Marino received the Meritorious Service award and Denise Clark was recognized with the Samaritan Award for the same accident.
According to the description read at the ceremony, Marino arrived on the scene of a major accident at the intersection of state Route 481 and county Route 57. Marino saw a charter bus in the roadway with most of the front end gone and a tractor trailer on fire in the embankment. Marino ran to the tractor trailer to find the driver trapped in the cab. Grabbing a fire extinguisher from his patrol car he went to work trying to put the fire out.
Evans and Winters were staying at the Riverside Inn during their Army Reserve duty for the 444th Engineer Company at Oswego. They heard the crash, grabbed fire extinguishers and began helping Marino. Gibson and Haste came across the accident to find the driver still trapped in the cab and fire surrounding the vehicle. Gibson and Haste broke out the back window of the truck, and Gibson unhooked the driver’s seat belt. Together, the two men were able to get into the cab of the truck and pull the driver free. Evans and Winters then helped to get the driver to safety.
Vail and Clark were also on their way home when they came upon the crash. Seeing a man lying in the roadway, Clark approached the bus driver who had been thrown over 100 feet from the bus. She found him in severe pain, bleeding profusely from a head wound, and falling in and out of consciousness. Clark didn’t hesitate to help, using her own shirt to put pressure on the driver’s head wound to slow the bleeding until EMTs arrived.
Other awards
Firefighters and police officers who completed two consecutive years of service without an absence were recognized. They include firefighters Robert Summerville, Paul Kinne, and Chris Caza, Lt. Steven Dexter, Lt. Mark Pollock, Sgt. Aimee May, officer Rick Hahn, and officer Jarret Marino.
Officer Brian Dumas was recognized as the “best of the best” with the Triumphant Award for scoring in the 90th percentile or better in the fitness challenge.
Firefighter Adam Howard was recognized with the Exceptional Duty Award for his services. Howard is responsible to update, train and certify all FFD members in current medical protocols. As a direct result of his efforts members are better prepared to deal with the issues they encounter during EMS calls.
Firefighter Ryan Reed received the Honorable Discharge Award for his service and commitment to the city. After a life threatening medical event in 2009, Reed was able to find a way to battle back and finish his career. He became a valuable asset to the Code Enforcement Department until his retirement on March 31, 2015.
Lt. Shane Laws, Lt. Kenneth Sheldon, Sgt. Christian Dempsey and officer Christopher Jones were presented with a Unit Citation for their hard work and professionalism.

Park cleanup events being held all over city this spring

Steve and Deana Ives were among the 20 volunteers who helped in one of Fulton’s “Sparkle-a-Park” cleanup events last weekend. Groups and individuals will be volunteering throughout the spring to get each of the city’s parks ready for the season. Photo provided
Steve and Deana Ives were among the 20 volunteers who helped in one of Fulton’s “Sparkle-a-Park” cleanup events last weekend. Groups and individuals will be volunteering throughout the spring to get each of the city’s parks ready for the season.
Photo provided

By Colin Hogan
Volunteer cleanup events are being held in all of Fulton’s parks this spring, with several community groups each taking on their own project.
The “Sparkle-a-Park” cleanup events, coordinated by Friends of Fulton Parks, will be occurring in each of Fulton’s parks over the next five weeks.
“We’ve organized Earth Month cleanups with 12 groups that are helping out,” said FOFP board member Kelley Weaver. “That will cover most of the parks in the city.”
Groups have each agreed to clean up a designated park sometime between April 22-May 22. Weaver explained that, due to the late snow thaw and changes in weather, some of the cleanup events are being rescheduled. Some events may appear in the Valley News’ What’s Happening section, but others may occur in a more spur-of-the-moment fashion. The time for each event will be posted on the Friends of Fulton Parks Facebook page the day prior to the event.
Still, anyone living in the neighborhood of a park being cleaned up is encouraged to join the efforts.
“If you see a group cleaning up in your neighborhood park, and you’d like help out, please feel free to go over and join in,” Weaver said. “We’re very grateful to all of the groups and anyone else who might want to help us get our parks ready for the season.”
The following groups are taking part in “Sparkle-a-Park” this year:
Empower Federal Credit Union —Voorhees Park; Fulton Alliance Church —Veterans Park, Towpath Trail; DJR Landscaping —Schenk Park; ARISE of Oswego County —Rowlee Beach Park play area; Girl Scouts Troop 10771 —Rowlee Beach Park picnic area; Mrs. Murdoch’s 3rd Grade and kindergarten buddies from Granby Elementary  — Recreation Park picnic area; Girl Scouts Fulton Unit Troops — Recreation Park; Another Level Youth —Quirk Park; Team Patrick (staff of Dental Health Solutions and other neighborhood volunteers)–Patrick Park; Fulton Lions Club —Oswego Falls Park; ARC Seniors —Hulett Park; Walmart employees —Foster Park; Oswego Industries Group Day Habilitation —Foster Park; local skaters —Van Buren Park; Fulton Rotary Club —Bullhead Point; “The Lake Guy” group —Bullhead Point.
Weaver said, at this point, the only park that does not have a designated group working on it this spring is John Lincoln Park, located on Gilbert Street near South 12th Street.
On Saturday, May 2, FOFP is asking anyone interested in helping out to gather at the park at 1 pm. to get it clean for the season. This cleanup event will happen rain or shine, Weaver said, and volunteers should bring a pair of gloves and wear sneakers or boots.

Antonio “Tony” Viscome

Antonio “Tony” Viscome, 92, of Fulton died Monday at St. Luke Health Services, Oswego. He was born in Fulton, N.Y. to the late Samuel and Teresa (Gualtire) Viscome. Mr. Viscome has remained a life resident of Fulton. He was a United States Veteran having served in the Navy from 1942-45. Mr. Viscome owned and operated Tony Viscome Plumbing & Heating, Fulton, for over 60 years. He enjoyed woodworking, fishing, gardening, raising chickens and making maple syrup. Mr. Viscome was predeceased by his wife Luella Viscome in 1991, and two siblings, Alfred Viscome and Alphonso Viscome. He is survived by his children Carrie (Robert) Skinner of Wolcott, N.Y., Michael (Georgeann) Viscome and Peter Viscome, both of Fulton; siblings Robert (Alice) Viscome of Hannibal, N.Y., Teresa Raponi of Fulton, Victoria Czerow of Oswego; eight grandchildren Fauna Skinner, Erin Viscome Burton, Joshua Skinner, Miriam Fernaays, Leanna Viscome, Maria Viscome, Sam Viscome and Joseph Viscome; eight great-grandchildren, one great-great-grandchild and several nieces and nephews.
Calling hours were held and military honors were bestowed Wednesday at the Sugar Funeral Home, Inc., 224 W. 2nd St. S., Fulton by the U.S. Navy Honor Guard.
Burial will be held privately at St. Mary’s Cemetery, Fulton.

City takes action to prevent another Nestle cleanup situation

By Colin Hogan

Fulton adopted a new policy last week that officials say will help prevent the city from getting stuck with the cleanup bill after a building gets demolished.

The Common Council approved an amendment to the city’s “Demolition” law last week that requires anyone seeking a permit to demolish a structure to provide the city with a performance bond, provided the project is expected to cost $35,000 or more.

“There’s a lot we have to do before we issue a demolition permit,” Mayor Ron Woodward Sr. said, citing things like requiring property owners to have the building’s gas and electric service shut off and having asbestos surveys conducted. “But the one thing we didn’t put in there initially is a guarantee that when they do the demolition, they have to clean up afterwards.”

According to the amendment, the bond must be equal to the project’s estimated cost, which must include the removal and disposal of any hazardous substances and any other work needed to achieve the minimum site restoration as determined by the city.

“What this does is protect the taxpayers from having to cover those costs (for cleanup following a building’s demolition),” Woodward said.

Woodward said the new law is intended, specifically, to help prevent another situation like the city’s current struggle with the former Nestle Co. facilities, the cleanup of which has been estimated to cost more than $250,000.

“If it’s a small building they’re going to demolish, it’s easy. But if you get a property the size of Nestle, you can run into a lot of problems, as we’ve seen,” Woodward said. “We want to make sure that, when that happens again, we can force them to do what they should be doing.”

Once the cleanup of the Nestle site is complete, the city plans to divide the complex into several different parcels to be sold off. Woodward said he has met with “several” parties interested in portions of the property, but isn’t yet at liberty to disclose who they are.

Fulton allocates $49K for Phillips Street bridge replacement

By Matthew Reitz

Plans to replace the Phillips Street Bridge over Tannery Creek in Fulton are moving forward after city officials authorized funding for the project last week.

City Clerk/Chamberlain Dan O’Brien said the city was “just buttoning up the last few documents that need to be done.”

“The environmental assessment is complete, and permits are in place,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien said the project is still awaiting approval from New York state, and once approved, the city will put the project out for bid. The project is expected to take about three months once it starts, and the city is hoping to break ground in June.

Officials say the bridge is beyond repair and will need to be replaced entirely.  Once the project begins, residents can expect to see that portion of Phillips Street closed until the replacement is complete.

The project will require a 5 percent local contribution, while 80 percent will come from federal funds and 15 percent will be covered by the state’s Marchiselli program.

Last week, the Common Council appropriated $49,150 to cover the local contribution.

According to New York State Highway Bridge Data, the bridge was last replaced in 1978 and has been ruled structurally deficient by the state.

New York state gives condition ratings on bridges, with anything below 5.0 being deemed deficient.  The Phillips Street Bridge received a 3.49 rating during the last inspection in June 2014.

Josh Batstone to give concert in Fulton

By Matthew Reitz

Josh Batstone had a short-lived experience on NBC’s “The Voice,” but plans to build on that moment of national exposure to develop a career in the music industry.

“I want to be a musician for the rest of my life,” Batstone said. “I want to make people smile with what I can do with my guitar and my voice.”

Batstone believes the experience on “The Voice” was the “foot in the door” he needed to get a career in music off the ground.

He says the experience showed him how to be more professional in his approach to music and gave him his first impressions of the music industry. Batstone said working with celebrity singer and vocal coach Adam Levine was “incredible” and he was “ridiculously grateful” for the opportunity.

While he didn’t get to stay in the competition as long as he would have liked, it’s hard for Batstone to find a downside to the endeavor. Getting some first-hand experience in the competitive world of pop music, making contacts in the industry, and reaching a wider audience were more than enough to satisfy him.

“I have big dreams and big goals, but all I really want to do is make people happy with music,” Batstone said.

He said performing for a national television audience wasn’t as stressful as one might think, noting that it was something he “didn’t really think about.”

Looking back, Batstone said getting on the show in the first place might be his favorite memory, but he also “made some great lifelong friends” in the process.

Since his time on the show, Batstone has kept himself busy by working diligently to hone his skills and release new material for his fans. The 18-year-old musician has published a series of original videos on his YouTube Channel recently and plans to continue doing so.

In a few months, Batstone plans to move to New York and further pursue his dreams of making a living as a musician. He said wants to be in a place surrounded by other musicians to collaborate with and help develop his skills.

“I plan to be bouncing around places like Nashville, New York and Los Angeles the rest of my life,” Batstone said.

In the meantime, though, Batstone will continue sharing his gift here in Fulton. On May 1, he will be holding a public concert at the Fulton War Memorial.

“I want everyone to come and everyone to have a good time,” Batstone said.

The concert will be at 8 p.m. on May 1. Tickets are available at Mimi’s diner and B&G Sports. For more information, visit the Josh Batstone (Entertainer) Facebook page.