Category Archives: Other News

SUNY Oswego alumnus gift adds up to hometown help

James F. Okoniewski, a graduate of Fulton’s G. Ray Bodley High School and SUNY Oswego, feels strongly about two things: his love for his hometown of Fulton and the Oswego County area and his belief that mathematics is a key subject for success in life.

He decided to act on those convictions by establishing a scholarship for students from G. Ray Bodley High School to attend SUNY Oswego and study math.

His gift of $50,000 will endow a scholarship for a Bodley graduate with financial need who majors in mathematics or in education with a concentration in math.

The first scholarship will be awarded for the 2013-14 academic year, and it is renewable, provided the recipient meets certain academic standards.

“I’m trying to counteract the feeling out there that the study of mathematics is not that important,” the 1972 SUNY Oswego graduate said. “Math is clearly important in analyzing any situation.”

He pointed out that if people were better able to analyze the risks versus the return on their investments, it would benefit not just individuals, but the economy as a whole.

It’s a strategy he used to build a successful real estate business by analyzing the value of his property investments.

Now he would like to share his success with students from his hometown school, where his cousin Joseph Sczupac was chair of the math department. Francis Godici was a Bodley math teacher who influenced Okoniewski.

Okoniewski’s roots run deep in Fulton, particularly in its Polish community. He was the youngest president of the city’s Polish Home, a post he held in his teens during the 1960s.

“When I was younger I hung around adults more than kids my own age, so that is when I joined the Polish Home,” he explained.

As a SUNY Oswego student, he took his love for his ancestral homeland one step further and studied one summer in Poland at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University, thanks to encouragement from professor emeritus Joseph Wiecha to apply and win a Kosciuszko Foundation fellowship.

Okoniewski shared his Polish heritage by starting a Polish language affiliation club at the college, holding a book drive to raise money to buy Polish literature for Penfield Library and bringing the first polka band to SUNY Oswego.

He became a DJ at the student radio station WOCR. WRVO station manager Bill Shigley recognized his talent and invited him to go on air at the public radio affiliate.

His other mentors were in the college’s math department, including professors emeriti Richard Orr and John Daly.

Now the influence comes full circle, as Okoniewski reaches out with this scholarship to help students from Fulton succeed at SUNY Oswego, now and for generations to come.

Mosquito surveillance program begins in Oswego County

The Oswego County Health Department launched its full-scale mosquito surveillance program for the 2013 season with training sessions the week of May 28 at its field station at Toad Harbor Swamp in the Town of West Monroe.

Participants learned about how mosquitoes are trapped, identified and prepared for testing for diseases such as the Eastern equine encephalitis virus and the West Nile Virus.

“As part of a long-term surveillance program, our staff collects mosquito specimens from a number of trap sites around the county,” said Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang. “This year, we will continue to monitor the same areas that had high mosquito activities last year.”

Two of these locations are the Toad Harbor and Big Bay swamp areas in the town of Hastings, which are often the first places where EEE appears each summer.

Traps are set in and near hardwood swamp areas because they are a perfect breeding ground for the Culiseta melanura mosquito, the main carrier of EEE. Once captured, mosquitoes are identified and grouped by species, gender, and whether or not they have ingested blood.

The collection or “pool” of mosquitoes is then sent to the NYS Department of Health laboratory near Albany for testing that same week and the results are usually received the following week.

The EEE virus is one of the most serious mosquito-borne diseases. It rarely affects humans; however, when it does, the virus can cause a serious infection or even death.

The best defense against the virus is to guard against mosquito bites.

The Oswego County Health Department reminds residents to protect themselves and their families by taking the following precautions:

• Use insect repellent properly. Repellents containing DEET or picaridin are the most effective, but should be used with caution. Read the product label and use according to package instructions.

• Whenever possible, limit outdoor activities in areas where mosquitoes are most active and between dusk and dawn which is the peak mosquito-biting time.

• As weather permits, wear protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts, long pants, shoes and socks.

In addition, people can follow these protection measures to minimize mosquito populations in and around their homes and properties:

• Install or repair all door and window screens.

• Reduce or eliminate all standing water from old tires, pails, recycling containers, flower pots, wheelbarrows, wading pools and pool covers.

• Change the water in birdbaths and horse troughs twice a week.

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Fairgrieve school holds Health and Science Fair

Devyne Ferebee not only researched the habitat of the peacock, he created his own paper mache model of the bird for visitors to the Fairgrieve Health and Science Fair to see.
Devyne Ferebee not only researched the habitat of the peacock, he created his own paper mache model of the bird for visitors to the Fairgrieve Health and Science Fair to see.

The recent Health and Science Fair at Fairgrieve Elementary School was packed with student-made projects and health-related activities and information.

Parents and community members turned out to see what budding scientists and researchers at the school have been working on and visit with some of the local community health and wellness organizations in the gymnasium.

Submissions for the science fair covered a plethora of topics and areas of interests.

Participation in the science fair requires students to research and/or develop and test a hypothesis; write a report on their findings; and create an eye-catching display that explains their topic, experiment and/or results.

The Health and Science Fair is coordinated annually by Fairgrieve teacher Sharon LaChut as a way to encourage the students to explore areas of interest, learn new things, and also learn about commitment and follow through.

Each student who completed a project was presented with a certificate of participation along with a scholarly ribbon to recognize their creativity, effort and dedication to learning.

Quarterly siren tests scheduled for next week

The Oswego County Emergency Management Office has announced that the system of emergency notification sirens surrounding the three nuclear power plants at Nine Mile Point are scheduled to be tested Monday, June 3 through Friday, June 7 between 4 and 8 p.m.

The test is a portion of the regular testing program of the Oswego County emergency alert system. This quarterly testing includes individual activation of each siren.

No response by the public is required during these tests.

Should an actual event occur during the time of testing, the Emergency Alert System would be activated on radio and TV stations providing directions to members of the public.

The system of sirens and tone-alert weather radios in the 10-mile emergency planning zone surrounding the nuclear power plants at Nine Mile Point is designed to alert residents in the event of an emergency. Tone-alert weather radios are provided to residences in the 10-mile zone that are out of hearing range of the sirens.

A listing of residences eligible for tone-alert weather radios is on file at the Emergency Management Office, 200 N. Second St., Fulton.

During an emergency, the sirens would be sounded for three minutes to alert residents of the area to turn their radios or televisions to local Emergency Alert System stations for further information and instructions.

EAS stations are listed in the 2013 “Public Emergency Response Information” calendar that was mailed to residents of the Emergency Planning Zone in January.

The calendar is available online at http://www.oswegocounty.com/emo.shtml.

EAS stations are also listed in the yellow pages of local telephone directories

Alive at 25 program Comes to Oswego County

The Oswego County District Attorney’s Office has joined forces with the National Traffic Safety Council to bring the Alive at 25 Program to Oswego County.

This four-hour driver’s awareness course is designed to educate younger drivers.

“Drivers in this age group are more inexperienced, tend to travel in groups and may be more likely to engage in dangerous behavior behind the wheel,” said Oswego County District Attorney Gregory S. Oakes. “Tragically, this can lead to traffic accidents involving multiple fatalities.

“We want to do better for the young people of our county, so we have started this program to raise awareness about safe driving practices.”

The program follows established protocols to reach younger drivers. Participants will gain awareness and develop strategies to stay safe on the road through the defensive driving classroom curriculum.

They will also learn decision-making and responsibility-taking through interactive media, workbook exercises, role-playing and class discussions.

The Alive at 25 Program is designed to educate younger drivers; however, it is not a point-reduction course.

Oakes said, “From this point forward, if a driver between the ages of 16 and 24 receives a ticket for certain moving violations, they will be required to complete the course in order to be eligible for a ticket reduction. Most importantly, we would like to reach drivers who participate in dangerous behaviors that put themselves, their passengers, and other motorists at risk of serious injury or death. This includes cell phone, texting, and speeding offences.

“Because the program is recognized statewide, drivers can attend any Alive at 25 Program throughout New York to meet this requirement,” added Oakes. “However, we will also offer two courses here in Oswego County every month as well.”

After a driver completes the “Alive at 25” program, they are issued a certificate of completion, which they need to bring to the district attorney’s office. Once they show the certificate, the office will issue a reduced ticket.

“I am pleased to announce that the Oswego County courses will be taught by Ralph Scruton, a retired lieutenant of the Oswego County Sheriff’s Department,” said Oakes. “With 27 years in law enforcement and nine years as a senior deputy coroner, Mr. Scruton brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the position.”

Classes for the Alive at 25 Program have been scheduled through the summer.

Wednesdays, June 5, July 10 and August 7, a class will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. at Rich Hall on the SUNY Oswego campus.

Saturdays, June 22, July 20, and August 24, a class will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the SUNY Oswego extension site in Phoenix.

Drivers can register for the Alive at 25 Program online at www.safetycouncilny.org, by e-mail at info@safetycouncilny.org, or by phone at 1-800-255-1300, ext. 13. There is a cost for each class and drivers must pre-register and prepay.

Those seeking more information may call the Oswego County District Attorney’s Office at 349-3200.

Oswego County receives grant for emergency call center

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that $9 million in Public Safety Answering Point grants have been awarded to 24 counties — including Oswego County — through the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Office of Interoperability and Emergency Communications.

PSAPs are call centers that are responsible for answering emergency calls and dispatching police, fire or ambulance emergency services to the public.

“These grants provide critical support to local governments to improve, streamline and consolidate emergency communications systems,” Cuomo said. “By taking advantage of these grants, local governments are strengthening their ability to respond more effectively and efficiently to any emergency situation and thus raising the level of their ability to serve and protect the citizens of New York State.”

Oswego County will receive a  $836,009 consolidation grant.

“PSAP awardees demonstrated significant needs for improving public safety answering points and saw the fiscal and programmatic value in consolidation,” DHSES Commissioner Jerome M. Hauer said. “These grants will help counties improve service through consolidation and collaboration.”

The State Interoperability Grant Program, for the 2012-13 state budget, consisted of two parts. The first, and larger portion, was for $102 million and was awarded in February to 29 counties across the State to help improve the ability of first responders to communicate with each other and promote a network of regional partnerships that will include State agencies.

The PSAP Grant is the second portion of the program and is intended to reimburse counties for costs associated with consolidation and improvements. As a result, $7 million was awarded to applicants for reimbursement of PSAP consolidation, improvements and enhancements, and $2 million was distributed for reimbursement of sustainment and operating expenses in consolidated PSAPs.

Emergency medical services providers to be honored

The Oswego County Emergency Medical Services Advisory Council will honor emergency medical services providers for outstanding patient care during the annual awards banquet Friday, May 10 at Bayshore, 104 Bayshore Dr., Oswego.

The awards are based on the actions of emergency medical services providers in the calendar year 2012 and will be chosen by a subcommittee of EMSAC.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to honor the professionals who serve the community as emergency medical services providers in emergency care,” said EMSAC President Norm Wallis. “Last year, 20 of these highly trained and compassionate people were honored.”

Recipients at this awards banquet will include Alexander Stevens of Oswego County Ambulance Service; Advance Life Support Provider of the Year; David N. Turverey of SOVAC and Ricky Johnson of North Shore, Basic Life Support Providers of the Year; Adam G. Howard of Fulton Fire Department, Educator of the Year; Zach Menter of Oswego County Ambulance Service,

Leadership Award; and Wayne Hall of McFee Volunteer Ambulance and Marty Spink of SOVAC, Excellence in STEMI Care.

The EMS Communications Award will be presented to Dorine Hanevy, Susan Buske, Cathy Forsythe, Angela Pietroski, and Jennifer Miller of the Oswego County E-911 Communications Center.

Cathy Barry of Oswego Hospital will receive the Registered Nurse of Excellence Award.

Oswego County Ambulance Service (Menter’s) and Oswego Fire Department will each receive two Life Saving Awards.

Menter’s providers Michelle Rockwood, Tracie DeSantis, Garrett Hauf, and Jim Webster will be honored for their efforts in one life-saving incident, while Chris Foy, Steven Sant, Dennis Shaw, Joe Susino and Brandon Brown will be honored for their work on another event.

At Oswego Fire Department, Carl Emmons, Robert Smith, Ray Abbott, and Dr. Derek Cooney will be honored for their efforts on one EMS call while Bryan Easton, Don LaBarge, William Delapp, David Engle, and William Harrington will be cited for their EMS services on another call.

There is a cost to attend the event. Business sponsorships are still available.

Anyone interested in being a sponsor may contact one of the banquet committee members or call 591-9150.

Record numbers attend annual Oswego War of 1812 Symposium

More than 250 people gathered to enjoy a weekend of history talks, demonstrations, art and literature during the third annual Oswego War of 1812 Symposium, which was held April 5-7.

Oswego Mayor Tom Gillen formally opened the symposium by unveiling a painting of the U.S. Brig Oneida by local artist Tim Ames.

“The energy in the room was electric as War of 1812 passions still run high some 200 years later,” said Fort Ontario State Historic Site Superintendent Paul Lear, chairman of the event. “There was a heated exchange between two speakers with opposing views about British Governor Prevost’s abilities and movements during the war; in particular, the September 1814 Battle of Plattsburgh. The audience was mesmerized as they watched these two heavyweights of War of 1812 history engage in such a lively debate.”

Eleven speakers from across the U.S. and Canada explored a variety of War of 1812 topics, including military training and battle analysis, maritime and military archeology, naval history, wartime society and commerce, espionage, and the art of war.

Participants also discovered engaging exhibits, living history demonstrators and historical authors who presented and signed their works.

Also at hand was a crew from WCNY-TV to interview participants and document the symposium for an upcoming program.

Lear added, “We’ve taken an important step toward developing Oswego County’s heritage tourism potential. Many people came in from out-of-town and are spreading the word of our history and hospitality around the U.S. and Canada. Even our speakers commented that they plan to promote our event in their own travels on the lecture circuit.”