Category Archives: Other News

Polish Festival to celebrate 10th year

By Matthew Reitz

The 10th annual Fulton Polish Festival will kick off at noon on Sept. 19 at the Fulton Polish Home in celebration of the culture’s music, food, dancing and more.
Event organizer John Kruk said in addition to “keeping our Polish heritage alive,” it also helps bring money into the Polish Home. Kruk said the Polish Home is important to the entire Fulton community because there aren’t many other venues for the city’s residents to host large events.
The building, constructed in 1949, is due for renovations that include electrical work, a new furnace and new flooring, Kruk said. All proceeds from this year’s festival will all go toward the Polish Home Building Fund, he said. In the past the proceeds have also contributed to a scholarship fund, but Kruk described that fund as “flush” and said this year’s proceeds would be better used on repairs.
The family-friendly event is open to the public and admission is free. The event is highlighted by a wide range of Polish food and drink inside, as well as hot dogs and hamburgers outside—all reasonably priced, according to Kruk. The Polish selections will include golabki (a type of stuffed cabbage), kapusta (a cabbage stew with meat), pierogies (a potato-stuffed dumpling), kielbasa from the Pulaski Meat Market in Utica, and Polish beer. Kruk said the golabki is especially popular, with almost 900 of them sold last year.
“There will be Polish dancers, kielbasa sandwiches—a little bit of everything,” Kruk said. “The place has been packed the last few years.”
The Concertina All-Stars, an eight-piece polka band from Buffalo, will headline the entertainment, which also includes Jasiu Klocek performing with his accordion. The Concertina All-Stars have “a unique sound,” Kruk said. Much of that sound can be attributed to an unorthodox lineup that includes three concertinas, which Kruk described as “small accordions.” Those who attend the event can sit down and have a Polish dinner while listening to Polish music, and “even dance a little” if they want, Kruk said.
Now celebrating a full decade, Kruk took some time to reflect on how the festival came to be and some of the key players in its continued success. He said years ago his father told him what a great venue the Polish Home would be for a festival, and knowing that the organization—which has been around for over 100 years—was looking to “raise money for scholarships and to keep the building going,” Kruk and others launched the first festival.
“When we started we didn’t really know how to do this,” Kruk said. He said it takes “a lot of man power” to put on the festival, and credited Dora Roik, Bob Vayner, Bob Pietrucha, Marysia and Ray Czachor, Dave Morrell, Vinnie Valelunga, and others as being instrumental in its development and success. After planning throughout the year, many of the organizers start preparing the Polish foods as early as the Tuesday before the event, when they begin coring and cooking the cabbage that becomes golabki and kapusta.
The event will run from noon to 7 p.m. Sept. 19, with entertainment beginning at 2 p.m.

“My children are afraid to be in their yard…”

Residents on Ellen Street in Fulton recently found used syringes, razors and other items believed to be used for heroin injection littered across their yard.
Residents on Ellen Street in Fulton recently found used syringes, razors and other items believed to be used for heroin injection littered across their yard.
Fulton family finds hazardous drug paraphernalia littered on property
By Colin Hogan

A Fulton family is still shaken up after discovering hazardous paraphernalia — apparently used for heroin injection — strewn across their Ellen Street yard Sunday.
Meegan Adkins, the mother of the house, said the family discovered several suspicious items, including uncapped syringes and bloody gauze, that were left exposed in an area where her 7- and 8-year-old daughters play. According to her, the items were left there by either a tenant or visitor to her next-door neighbor’s property.
As they often do on Sundays, the family was getting ready for a leisurely afternoon of grilling and backyard fun until Adkins’ husband, Jeff, noticed some litter strewn around their trampoline.
“He was just starting up the grill when he yelled to me to look at the debris near the trampoline,” Adkins said. “We looked closer and found five or six needles — some uncapped — bloody gauze, some papers, a razor, and then other things the people had left behind like a Polaroid photo and handwritten note.”
Adkins promptly called the police. She said the responding officer confirmed to her that the papers had most likely contained heroin, and the syringes were likely used to inject it. According to Adkins, the officer initially said the police don’t clean up such items from private property and suggested she contact a hazardous materials clean-up agency, and then sue her neighbor for the expense. The officer did, however, eventually clean up the needles and razor, she said. He then went to the neighbor’s house and had someone there clean up the other items.
Fulton Deputy Police Chief Thomas Abelgore stressed in an interview with the Valley News that the department does clean up things it deems to be a hazard — such as syringes or razors apparently used for drugs — regardless of whether they are on public or private property.
“We do pick up needles. They are a hazard whether on public or private property, and we would encourage people to contact the police department if they find something like that,” Abelgore said.
On Monday, Adkins posted photos of the items on Facebook. Within 24 hours, more than 800 people had either commented on or shared the post. As of press time Thursday, that figure was closer to 1,100.
“This is clearly an issue a lot of people in our community are concerned with,” said Ryan Raponi, the city councilor for the third ward, where the Adkins family lives.
Adkins said this isn’t the first time her daughters have been frightened by their neighbors’ activities. For the last two years, they have played witness to several unnerving incidents that she said have left her children afraid to be on their own property, including a police raid that reportedly involved stolen guns and, later, a stabbing  — incidents Raponi also corroborated.
Adkins said her family was awoken one night in the spring of 2014 by police yelling orders to someone to “tell us where the guns are” from directly under her bedroom window.
“That’s terrifying to a kid, and us. Then there was a stabbing that happened there, and there’s all sorts of sketchy traffic and teenagers coming in and out all day,” Adkins said.
Raponi said he has visited every home on Ellen Street to stress the need for community involvement on this issue.
“This has been going on for two years, and the only way this is going to get truly resolved is if the community comes together and starts reporting things to police every time they see something suspicious,” Raponi said. “If you can take down a license plate number without risking exposing yourself, that’s the sort of thing we need to be doing in order to help the police, because a lot of times their hands are tied, and they can’t just come park outside a suspicious house and watch all day. I know if there was more they could do, they would.”
Abelgore said, while combating heroin is a major issue in this area, the problem is not isolated to Fulton.
“This is not just a city of Fulton problem. It’s an epidemic throughout central New York and the rest of the state,” Abelgore said.
In addition to all of the arrests that are directly related to heroin use or sale, Abelgore said local police are constantly responding to crimes peripheral to heroin addiction, such as burglaries, fraud, shoplifting or other theft committed by addicts in pursuit of more drugs. He said police are also frequently called in to assist with EMS responses that are related to heroin.
“This is a big issue that has permeated our community, without a doubt,” Abelgore said.
Raponi, whose council term ends this year and is not seeking re-election, said he hopes to establish a neighborhood watch in the third ward in the near future.
The Adkins family, though, still wishes there was a more immediate solution to the problem that has now spilled over into their yard.
“My children are afraid to be in their own yard now. They’re afraid of their neighbors, afraid to do things outside because they’ve been woken up in the middle of the night hearing these conflicts and seeing these bloody razors and needles strewn in their yard,” Adkins said. “All I can think is thank God my 7- or 8-year-old didn’t try to pick up one of those needles or razors.”

Editor’s Note:
Jeff Adkins is the production supervisor for
The Valley News and Palladium-Times.

City takes on energy savings initiative

By Matthew Reitz

Fulton city officials are moving forward with a project that they say will conserve energy, reduce costs and improve the comfort of some city facilities.
Following approval from the Common Council this week, Mayor Ron Woodward Sr. will now sign an agreement with Honeywell Building Solutions that will integrate, monitor, and control the various building systems. The new system will replace a costly and declining chiller, and upgrade the controls for the building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. Woodward expects the project to begin later this year, and Honeywell anticipates a 12-month installation period.
Woodward said the $513,213 project focuses on the Fulton’s municipal building, which is one of the city’s major energy consumers. The bulk of the money will go toward improving the performance and efficiency of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems that cover the police, fire and city offices.
The heating and cooling system in the building has not been replaced in many years, and the city is subject to considerable costs because of the inefficient nature of the current system. Woodward said the project will eventually pay for itself by lowering utility and maintenance costs.
“The savings we’re predicting will pay for the costs,” Woodward said.
The total savings could be more than $50,000 per year, according to Honeywell. The largest savings will come from 10 energy conservation measures that are expected to save the city over $30,000 each year.
The largest of the energy conservation measures is a time-of-day scheduling feature that Honeywell says could save the city as much as $7,500 each year. The time-of-day scheduling will scale back the heating and cooling when the building is not occupied at night and on weekends. The fire and police departments are occupied around the clock and will operate as they do now, but the city offices are only occupied about 30 percent of the time and the new controls will reflect that.
“They’re putting a system in that will shut down when there’s not people in the building,” Woodward said.
Woodward also said many of the large motors and fans in the building that don’t work properly and are inefficient will be replaced with new, energy-efficient variable speed motors. This could save over $13,000 each year, according to Honeywell, mostly from reduced electricity costs associated with running the motors.
The automated controls and improved heating and cooling provided by the project could make for a significant improvement on the existing system. The new system will also include motion sensor lighting to help conserve energy, and the city will install LED lighting throughout the municipal building. That work will be completed by the city. City officials are comparing the available grant and rebate programs, and hope to get reimbursed for some of those costs.
The city will be making a $50,000 down payment, and financing the remaining $463,213 over 10 years through the sale of municipal bonds. Woodward said the city expects to receive at least $30,000 in rebates from National Grid.
Other News
The common council authorized Woodward to execute the sale of 10 West Third Street North, a property acquired by the city through tax foreclosure earlier this year. The agreed upon sale price, contingent on the city paving the driveway and finishing the sidewalk, is $85,200. The property is one of several that the city has rehabilitated before selling in recent years, and Woodward said the city will continue those efforts.
“They’ve all been successful—every one of them,” Woodward said. “There will be (more), we just need to identify them.”

Fulton’s lake dredging faces slight delay

By Matthew Reitz

This year’s dredging efforts by Fulton’s Lake Neatahwanta cleanup committee are slightly behind schedule following a delay on the contractor’s end.
Fulton Mayor Ron Woodward Sr. said efforts were set to begin earlier this month, but a delay has set the operation back several weeks. Woodward said the individual who runs the dredge had a medical issue, but will arrive in the city to begin setting up next week. Groh Dredging and Marine Construction, the same contractor the committee used last year, will take several days to get situated, but sediment removal should begin within a week of their arrival, according to Woodard.
“He will be here next week, and hopefully be able to start shortly after,” Woodward said.
Chairman of Granby’s Lake Neatahwanta Reclamation Committee Ed Williamson said that committee’s dredging operation is underway and slowly, but steadily, moving forward.
“We’re training more volunteers so we can keep a full-time operation,” Williamson said. He said a volunteer has also agreed to take aerial photographs of the lake, which will allow the committee to track its progress and identify any areas that may need further attention. Williamson said the operation isn’t “something that happens overnight,” and stressed the importance of continued efforts on both sides of the lake.
Fulton’s committee — the Lake Neatahwanta Revitalization Corporation — began work last September after awarding the project to Groh. In just two months, the contractor had removed over 20,000 cubic yards of sediment. Both Woodward and Williamson hope that success can be repeated.
“They did a nice job last year,” Williamson said of the operation in Fulton. “The main purpose is to get the lake cleaned so we can use it again.”
Rather than hire a contractor, Granby’s committee opted to purchase the equipment and conduct the work with volunteers. Williamson said the on-shore infrastructure is now totally functional and one of the collection pits is operational, with a second to be completed this month.
Last month, Kansas City-based Geo Form International, the manufacturer of the equipment, trained several volunteers in Granby. Those individuals are now training additional volunteers so the committee can eventually keep the operation running full-time.
“We’re just continuing to move forward,” Williamson said.
He said the operation doesn’t move fast and isn’t pretty, but weather permitting will continue through the fall and pick up next spring as soon as fish spawning season ends.
Local officials believe the 750-acre lake can once again be a valuable recreational resource for the greater Fulton area. The water was deemed unsafe by state and county health officials nearly three decades ago, but officials believe removing built-up sediment will open the flow of freshwater springs that feed the lake and restore the water to safe levels for recreation.

Ruth E. Whorrall

Ruth  E. (Young) Whorrall, 71, of Phoenix, N.Y., passed away at St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center, Syracuse, on Sunday Aug. 30, 2015. Born in the town of Onondaga, NY to her late parents, Mildred E. (Drumma) and Roy J. Young, Jr. on May 19, 1944, she was a graduate of J. C. Birdlebough High School, Phoenix Central Schools, class of 1962.
Ruth was a custodian at the J. C. Birdlebough High School for nearly 20 years. She also was a parishioner at St. Stephen’s Church, Phoenix.
She was predeceased by her siblings, Janet, John, Roy, James, Joan, Beverly, Rosemary, Patricia, Shirley, and Marilyn. Surviving are her husband, Lyle W. Whorrall, Jr.; four daughters, Linda M. Eddy of Phoenix, Cindy M. (Jack) Murray of Pennellville, Donna M. (Rick) Gilkey of East Syracuse, and Tina M. Whorrall of New York City; two brothers, Robert “Bud” (Judy) Young and Richard (Beverly) Young, all of Fulton; two sisters, Jean Cook of Keystone Heights, Fla., and Barbara (Marvin) Johnson of Palmetto, Fla.; five grandchildren, Erika, David, Jordan, Ricky and Brooke; two great-grandchildren, Dominic and Vincent; several nieces, nephews and cousins. Escort girls in prague – best service!
Per Ruth’s request, her life was celebrated in a church mass on Friday, Sept. 4 at St. Stephen’s Church, 469 Main St., Phoenix, NY, with the Rev. Philip Brockmyre officiating.
Contributions in Ruth’s memory to: SPCA, 5878 East Molloy Rd., Syracuse, NY, or Oswego County Humane Society, 110 West Second St., Oswego, NY 13126. Allanson-Glanville-Tappan Funeral Home, Phoenix, has care of arrangements.

Lynch to retire from FCSD next year

Superintendent Bill Lynch speaks at a budget hearing earlier this year.
By Colin Hogan

Fulton City School District Superintendent Bill Lynch will be retiring from his position at the end of the 2015-16 school year, district officials confirmed Wednesday.
Lynch, who has served as superintendent for more than a decade, recently announced his plan to retire to the district’s staff via email. Board of Education President David Cordone said Wednesday that Lynch will continue in his role through the end of his current contract, which ends June 30, 2016.
Cordone, who has served on the board for most of Lynch’s tenure with the district, praised Lynch for the level of stability his leadership has provided over the last 11 years, noting that many districts struggle to keep superintendents in place for that long.
“We’re very fortunate to have had the same superintendent in place for that length of time. He really brought a level of stability to the district,” Cordone said. “We’ve appreciated his leadership.”
The board has begun putting wheels in motion to find Lynch’s successor, Cordone said. In an executive session Tuesday, board members reviewed qualifications of consulting firms recommended by the New York State School Boards Association that specialize in such matters. Cordone said the board has narrowed its list to three candidates, and will officially make its selection in a special meeting on Sept. 3.
Once a consultant is lined up, the board will begin tailoring a search and hiring plan that fits the district’s specific needs. Cordone called the act of hiring a superintendent “one of the most important decisions a school board makes,” and said the board plans remain transparent and seek community input through the process.
“Right now, we’re looking to fine tune and tailor a plan that looks at what the district and community need in the next superintendent,” Cordone said.
Cordone said once the plan has been worked out with the consultant, residents can expect to see an online survey posted on the district’s website that seeks input for the superintendent search. The board also intends to schedule either site-based or general public gatherings to hear feedback from the community, the details of which will be announced as the process unfolds, he said.
Cordone noted that, unlike neighboring Hannibal Central School District — which saw its superintendent retire this summer and had to find an  interim replacement within about month’s time — Fulton has the benefit of a full school year to work through the process.
“We’re fortunate that we will have the whole school year to work this out,” he said.
Lynch, who was away on vacation this week, was not reachable for comment as of press time Thursday.

Granby officials debate plow options

By Matthew Reitz

Officials in Granby are in disagreement on how to deal with the town’s aging fleet of snowplows.
Councilor Lori Blackburn expressed concern over the town’s lack of a viable backup vehicle in a work session Wednesday, and the board struggled to come up with a plan to address the issue.
At a previous meeting, officials discussed a snow truck analysis report prepared by DeLong Enterprises, which lead Town Supervisor Ed Williamson to suggest the town put two of its aging snowplows and a wood chipper on the website Auctions International. In the same meeting, the board began weighing options for a backup snowplow, including the possibility of renting a vehicle from the county.
Blackburn said she spoke with Oswego County Highway Superintendent Kurt Ospelt, and he told her that he couldn’t guarantee a truck would always be readily available to the town. She conveyed that the town should be looking to the county strictly in the case of an emergency, and should have its own backup truck.
“You can’t rent a snowplow from the county for the year or for the month,” Blackburn said. “The only option we have if one of our trucks break down is, if they have a vehicle available—because they serve 22 towns—then we could go up and get it.”
Blackburn said this wasn’t a viable option, because it could cause interruptions in snow removal that create hazardous road conditions and school delays.
“We’ll have a real mess on our hands if we don’t have a backup on site,” Blackburn said. “We can’t run a fleet without a backup.”
Councilor Matt Callen said he had “heard horror stories” about the town’s oldest truck and said they would need a new truck, or some other alternative, to get through the winter. Blackburn said the town could put a down payment on a new truck by moving forward with the sale of the two aging snow plows and delaying what she called “unnecessary” purchases of furniture for the town offices.
Williamson said the town should look into how much it would cost to make one of the two trucks it currently plans to sell operable. Blackburn said “it’s not fiscally responsible to invest in a vehicle that old and in that much disrepair.” Highway Superintendent Robert Phillips and Deputy Highway Superintendent Mike Longo appeared to agree with Blackburn’s assessment.
Councilor Brenda Frazier-Hartle said she wasn’t against purchasing a new truck, but stressed that she was against purchasing one this year. Williamson said there was no money in the budget for a new vehicle, and suggested “intelligently working it into the budget (next year).”
Longo said he received a quote for a new truck, which would cost the town $216,000 and could be bought with payments delayed until next year. Blackburn said the town could purchase a new truck now and work the cost into next year’s budget. She said that would give the town a safe, reliable fleet to get through the coming winter, and the necessary time to plan for the expense.
“This is absolutely reasonable and attainable,” Blackburn said. “We have to be forward thinking about this.”
The board unanimously approved the sale of the two aging trucks, but took no action on replacing them. Williamson asked Longo to bring a representative from the snowplow company to speak with the board next month to further explore the possibility of purchasing a vehicle and the financing options available.
Following the debate over the snowplows, the board discussed a project that will replace the floors, paint the walls and bring new furniture to two town offices at a cost of nearly $8,000.
Blackburn questioned whether the furniture for both offices was urgent.
“I don’t think we think the process through very well,” Blackburn said. “When you say we don’t have money, we have money—it’s what we choose to spend it on.”
Williamson said the money was coming out of the town’s buildings fund, and the costs are “way under budget.” A divided board hesitantly approved the project with Frazier-Hartle and Callen approving the measure, and Blackburn opposing it.

Construction underway on Hannibal water extension

By Matthew Reitz

Crews have broken ground on the extension of a Water Service Area 3 in Hannibal, which will bring the service to about 70 more homes.
The project is being called Water Service Extension 4, and will cover the balance of Stock Road that is not currently serviced, Fowler Road and Sixty Six Road from Durbin Road to the other side of Dunham Road, according to Town Supervisor Ron Greenleaf.
Greenleaf announced at a recent meeting that the construction project was underway, with crews beginning to lay pipe and do what he called “pushes under the creeks,” where flexible pipe is needed as opposed to solid pipe.
“Our water project is going well,” Greenleaf said. “They were probably two weeks later than they said getting in here, but they’ll make that up in no time.”
The project is expected to be finished sometime this fall. Greenleaf estimated a mid-October completion.
“They have 100 days from last month,” Greenleaf said. “I really think they’re going to fly through on the main lines.”
He said the extension includes 22,000 feet of pipe, and will service approximately 79 additional parcels and 70 homes. Residents in the service area will have the option to hook in to the water service at their own cost. Voters approved the project in a referendum in 2013.
The entire project will cost approximately $1.457 million, according to Greenleaf. A $682,000 grant will come from the USDA Department of Rural Development, and the town will receive a low-interest loan for the remaining $775,000. Highlander Construction of Memphis, N.Y. is managing the installation.
Public hearing for
zoning laws set
The town board established a public hearing to discuss upcoming changes to the town’s zoning law before the September meeting, which will be held at 7:15 p.m. on Sept. 16. The board previously had a public hearing regarding its zoning laws in combination with a new set of regulations on dog boarding and breeding facilities, but Greenleaf said the it had to deal with the two issues separately.
“We have to separate them, and there’s some verbiage that needed to change,” Greenleaf said. The biggest change will take the responsibility of enforcement away from the planning board and place it with the code enforcement office.
Contention over
mileage payments
The board went into an executive session to discuss mileage claims made by the town’s dog control officer that one councilman deemed excessive.
Councilman George Ritchie brought the matter to the attention of the town board, and asked Greenleaf if mileage was paid from the town line or from the dog control officer’s home. Gary Thompson, a candidate for town council, has scrutinized past mileage claims and believes the dog control officer is improperly calculating mileage from her home in Scriba, rather than the town line.
Greenleaf said the board would discuss the issue in an upcoming workshop, and would likely set new, more specific regulations on how mileage is recorded and compensated.