Category Archives: Other News

County’s high schools invited to local GENIUS environmental competition

SUNY Oswego has launched an Oswego County branch of the college’s global GENIUS Olympiad competition for local high school student projects aimed at highlighting or solving environmental issues.

The new science competition among students from area high schools will take place 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 17 in the Campus Center arena, concurrent with Quest, the college’s day to celebrate the scholarly and creative activities of students, faculty and staff.

“It’s very exciting, and the winning school will receive a $2,000 stipend to do a sustainability project at their school,” said Tammy Elowsky, assistant director of the SUNY Oswego Office of Business and Community Relations, helping organize the fledgling competition for the Civic Engagement Coalition at the college.

The winning student or two-student team in the Oswego County competition will receive an automatic entry for the 2013 global GENIUS finals, June 16 to 21 at the college, Elowsky said.

Students and their projects from G. Ray Bodley High School in Fulton and Paul V. Moore High School in Central Square are among early entrants for the local GENIUS competition.

Elowsky said that initially she spoke with Fehmi Damkaci, the foudner of GENIUS and associate provost for graduate studies at the college, about putting together a traditional science fair to encourage young minds toward further education.

“How do we keep students studying here, perhaps staying here?” wondered Elowsky. “By getting them interested in and thinking about college.”

Damkaci suggested she consider organizing a local GENIUS competition.

The GENIUS Olympiad, now in its third year, invites high school students from around the world to compete for finalist spots each June in a juried exhibition and weeklong series of educational events.

Nearly 300 finalists, accompanied by 139 mentors, participated in 2012 from 49 countries and 30 states.

Elowsky, who began working at the college a year ago, recalled being impressed last year when she toured the GENIUS exhibition and spoke with students.

“I was blown away by how intelligent these high school students are,” Elowsky said.  “It really started me thinking.”

The local competitors will set up their new exhibition in the midst of the annual Sustainability Fair, which also takes place on Quest day.

Among the high school entries are “The Effects of the Round Goby on Local Fish Populations,” “The Footprint of a Domestic Cat” and “How Economic Status Influences Environmental Views.”

“Everything at the Sustainability Fair will be going on around us,” Elowsky said. “The (energy-saving) cars will be right behind us. So the students will get a lot of exposure.”

Parking is free April 17 for visitors to Quest, whose hundreds of talks, panel discussions, demonstrations and concurrent events, such as the local GENIUS competition and the Sustainability Fair and Symposium, will take place largely in the Campus Center and nearby Lanigan and Snygg halls.

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Bald eagle sightings along the Oswego River

Several bald eagles have been sighted in recent weeks along the Oswego River on State Route 48 between Minetto and Oswego. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed bald eagles from the list of Threatened and Endangered Species in 2007 but they are still listed as threatened on the New York State Endangered species list.
Several bald eagles have been sighted in recent weeks along the Oswego River on State Route 48 between Minetto and Oswego. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed bald eagles from the list of Threatened and Endangered Species in 2007 but they are still listed as threatened on the New York State Endangered species list.

Sightings of bald eagles have been reported along the Oswego River recently. Several have been spotted in the Minetto area starting by Gray Road to just before the Midway Drive-In.

“Bald eagles are known for congregating near areas with open water and Oswego County has several pristine natural areas, such as the Salmon River corridor, that attract our national bird,” said David Turner, director of the Oswego County Department of Community Development, Tourism and Planning.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed bald eagles from the list of Threatened and Endangered Species in 2007 but they are still listed as threatened on the New York State Endangered species list.

“In the 1960s, there was one nest reported, and as of now there have been 130 to 140 nests reported,” said ornithologist Gerry Smith, former president of the Onondaga Chapter of the National Audubon Society.

“There are more bald eagles in our parts of the world, which includes Lake Ontario and the Oswego River area, than there has been for at least a century or possibly more.”

“The bald eagle population continues to increase, therefore sightings of them will increase along with the number of birds seen at one time,” said NYS Department of Environmental Conservation spokeswoman Lori Severino.

“They typically nest in mature trees in forested areas near the shorelines of large wetland complexes, rivers, lakes or oceans.”

The breeding season of the bald eagle starts in January, and eggs are laid in late February to early April. The eggs hatch after being incubated for 35 days. The young eaglets remain with their parents through the end of summer.

It takes five years for the birds to mature to the point where they develop the familiar white head and tail of our national symbol.

Bald eagles are resourceful feeders who hunt fish, waterfowl, shorebirds, small mammals and reptiles.

They will also search for deer carcasses in the winter.

The best time to see the bald eagles is in the early morning, even before sunrise, when they are looking for food in the open waters.

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Oswego AmeriCorps members recognized across Oswego County

AmeriCorps members Ian Mumpton (left) and Peter Sterbak are familiar faces at Fort Ontario State Historic Site. They are among the many AmeriCorps members who serve at sponsoring organizations across Oswego County.
AmeriCorps members Ian Mumpton (left) and Peter Sterbak are familiar faces at Fort Ontario State Historic Site. They are among the many AmeriCorps members who serve at sponsoring organizations across Oswego County.

Several organizations across Oswego County recognized the works of AmeriCorps members during AmeriCorps Week, March 9 through 15.

The annual event provides an opportunity to salute AmeriCorps members for their impact on the lives of children they serve and to thank community partners who make AmeriCorps possible.

At Fort Ontario State Historic Site, two AmeriCorps members funded by the Friends of Fort Ontario are familiar faces providing children’s programming and living history projects.

“Our AmeriCorps members have always been an invaluable asset,” said Paul Lear, superintendent of Fort Ontario State Historic Site. “Their enthusiasm, creativity and hard work have enabled us to share the story of the past with new audiences.”

Ian Mumpton is currently serving his third term of service. “Serving with AmeriCorps at Fort Ontario gives me the unique opportunity to positively impact people of all ages and backgrounds, both in my immediate community and from much further afield,” said Mumpton.

Peter Sterbak is serving his fourth term — the maximum allowed. He has found that “being an AmeriCorps member has been an incredibly rewarding experience. It’s great to see just what an important impact history can make here and now.”

“AmeriCorps members in Oswego County certainly fulfill the national motto of ‘Getting Things Done,’” said Kathy Andolina, Oswego County AmeriCorps program coordinator with the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau. “In the past program year, members mentored 170 youth for an hour a week during the school year and provided classroom assistance to 1,100 students, more than 5,300 youth participated in fitness activities, more than 2,900 youth participated in nutrition activities, and 956 youth and adult volunteers contributed 5,600 hours of service to their community.”

Members serving this program year in the Oswego County AmeriCorps Program are Kayleigh Adsitt, Leighton Elementary School; Morgan Batchelor, Mexico Elementary School; Jennifer Blanchard, Oswego Public Library; Jamie Colvin, Oswego Community Christian School; Katelyn Cusimano, Hannibal High School; and Michael DeMassey, APW Elementary School.

Also, Jessie Joss, APW Elementary School; Kathryn Justus, Fulton Public Library; Barbara Kelly, Palermo Elementary School; Anne Knutson, Hannibal High School; Aaron Lehman, APW Elementary School; Matthew McLaughlin, Oswego Youth Court; Kelly Mayer, Leighton Elementary School; Ian Mumpton, Fort Ontario; Melissa Parkhurst, Mexico Elementary School; and Niki Raymond, Palermo Elementary School.

Also, Sara Sheffield, Oswego YMCA; Joseph Shepard, APW Elementary School; John Snow Jr., Hannibal High School; Nicole Snyder, Fulton Family YMCA; Peter Sterbak, Fort Ontario;  Rachel Verdoliva, New Haven Elementary School; Gabrielle Vono, Lanigan Elementary School; and Karen Wing, New Haven Elementary School.

AmeriCorps is a national service program that provides opportunities for more than 85,000 Americans to give back to their community and country each year.

Since 1994, more than 775,000 AmeriCorps members have given one billion hours of service, mobilizing tens of millions of volunteers, and impacting the lives of countless citizens.

Legislature chairman delivers state of the county address

by Carol Thompson

Fiscal challenges lie ahead for the Oswego County Legislature in part because of the state’s unfunded mandates.

That’s the message Legislature Chairman Fred Beardsley delivered in his State of the County address last Thursday.

“Dealing with this dilemma will require many difficult decisions and bipartisan support, and recognition that the state must stop this practice,” Beardsley said.

“It is now my fear that the ongoing practice by the state of creating mandated programs and services with no funding stream attached is going to drive us to the point where we have to consider cutting services that our constituents have come to enjoy so we can operate mandated programs that may not necessarily be among our most needed or desired.

Beardsley encouraged the legislature to work together.

“To my colleagues here in the legislature, I continue to have faith that we can set our political differences aside and that together, we can accomplish our task of providing the people of Oswego County with an efficient, effective, and friendly government,” he said.

Both Republicans and the Democrats worked in harmony to pass an acceptable 2013 budget, however, the Democrats now allege that promises were broken.

One of those promises was to begin making cuts at the first of the year. Minority Leader Mike Kunzwiler said that it has yet to happen.

Kunzwiler said that he respects the olive branch that he agrees everyone must work together.

To read the rest of the story, pick up a copy of The Valley News or subscribe today by calling 598-6397

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Fulton resident’s ‘Blood Hex’ to be published in April

Erin Butler, a soon to be published author, writes at her antique spinet desk in her Fulton home. Butler’s first young adult novel, “Blood Hex,” will be published by Evernight Teen in April.
Erin Butler, a soon to be published author, writes at her antique spinet desk in her Fulton home. Butler’s first young adult novel, “Blood Hex,” will be published by Evernight Teen in April.

by Nicole Reitz

Fulton resident Erin Butler will become a published author in April. She recently signed a contract with publisher Evernight Teen for her debut novel, “Blood Hex.”

Butler was born in Louisiana, but moved to Phoenix during elementary school. She graduated from John C. Birdlebough High School in 2000 and earned a bachelor’s degree, studying literature with a minor in writing.

Butler has a master’s degree in library and information science and works part-time at the Central Library in Syracuse. At her job, Butler works mostly with teens.

Butler began writing her novel in 2009. The idea sprung from watching a piece on the history channel about ancient prophecies. Butler was fascinated by prophetess Mother Shipton, a contemporary woman who published her prophecies in rhyme and verse.

“I kept thinking about Mother Shipton and how cool her story was and my own story just bloomed from there,” said Butler.

Half of “Blood Hex” takes place in the past while the other half is set in the future. The story is about a curse that spans four centuries.

The original title for the book was “The Desk,” because an antique spinet desk inspired Butler to start writing her first novel-length work four years ago.

Butler went to an estate sale with her husband at the Battle Island Inn Bed & Breakfast and spotted an old spinet desk.

Knowing she wanted it, her husband went back to buy it for her.

Butler writes on the desk in her reading room. In the first drafts of “Blood Hex,” the desk was written into the story, carrying the essence of a witch’s curse.

At one point, the novel was also temporarily named “Cursed.” Ultimately, Butler chose the title “Blood Hex” because the curse in the novel has to do with family ties. Another word for “ancestry” is “blood,” she said.

The first draft of Butler’s novel was 55,000 words and was written in third person.

After querying agents and getting mixed feedback, Butler reworked her story in first person. She has also opened up the ending to a sequel.

When she started writing the book, the young adult market had not started blossoming yet. Butler decided to change the age of the main character from a college age woman to the voice of a teenager.

“I think I’ve rewritten ‘Blood Hex’ ten times,” said Butler.

Over the process of a few years, Bulter received three contract offers for the book. She decided to join with Evernight Teen, a newer publishing company that wanted her novel to promote their teen line. With Evernight Teen, Butler was able to release her novel sooner and was glad to be with a company who was willing to work with her.

It will be released in April for the Nook and Kindle. It will also be sold in paperback online at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

“I can’t wait to get a physical copy of my book and be able to hold it,” said Butler. “I’ve only ever seen it on a screen.”

To read the rest of the story, pick up a copy of The Valley News or subscribe today by calling 598-6397

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RSVP begins annual free tax preparation in Oswego County

The Retired & Senior Volunteer Program will again offer free annual income tax preparation, e-Filing and counseling services in the cities of Oswego and Fulton and by appointment in the villages of Constantia and Phoenix. Pictured are Betty Talamo (Fulton and Phoenix sites) and Fred Wall (Phoenix site).
The Retired & Senior Volunteer Program will again offer free annual income tax preparation, e-Filing and counseling services in the cities of Oswego and Fulton and by appointment in the villages of Constantia and Phoenix. Pictured are Betty Talamo (Fulton and Phoenix sites) and Fred Wall (Phoenix site).

The Retired & Senior Volunteer Program, a division of SUNY Oswego’s Office of Business and Community Relations, will again offer free annual income tax preparation, e-Filing and counseling services in the cities of Oswego and Fulton and by appointment in the villages of Constantia and Phoenix.

RSVP supervises its program in cooperation with the AARP, the IRS and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.

Taxpayers should have with them last year’s completed tax forms, W-2s, 1099s, unemployment compensation statements, all forms indicating federal income tax paid (for example, estimated payments), dependent care provider information — including name, employer, provider identification or Social Security number — all receipts or canceled checks for itemized deductions and a Social Security or individual identification card for the taxpayer, spouse and dependents.

Now through April 15, the following sites will be open to serve county residents.

Rarely will sites close due to bad weather.

To avoid a long wait at the walk in sites, consider delaying your visit to those sites until mid-February.

RSVP sites:

• Constantia:  St. Bernadette’s Bistro, 1667 St. Rte. 49; Thursdays by appointment.  Call 623-9803 Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday to schedule.  Lunch is optional. Feb. 7 through April 11.

• Fulton: Municipal Building, 141 S. First St.; walk in site; Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to noon and from 6 to 8 p.m.  Feb. 6 through April 10.

•  Oswego:  McCrobie Civic Center, 41 Lake St.; walk in site; Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. from Feb. 5 through April. 9.

• Phoenix:  Public Library, 34 Elm St.; Weekdays by appointment. Call to schedule: Fred at 695-2553, Bill at 458-1465, or Betty) at 934-4333.  Feb. 1 through Apr. 15.

YMCA offers adult competitive basketball

AA038144-2The Fulton YMCA will be offering a new adult competitive basketball league starting Jan. 19.

The league will continue until April 27. It will be held Saturdays from noon until 5 p.m.

The season will run a maximum of 15 weeks including playoffs and championships with one or two bye weeks being added depending on the number of teams participating.

Registrations are now open for those 18 years of age and older. A maximum of six teams will be in the A division for 18 and older and a maximum of six teams in the B division 25 and older with a minimum of five teams needed in order for the leagues to run.  The divisions will be combined if five teams or under register.

Registration is on a first come first served basis. Applications and forms can be picked up at the YMCA at 715 W. Broadway or can be downloaded from its web site at www.fultonymca.org.

Those seeking more information may call the YMCA at 598-9622.

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Local agencies still in need of Christmas toy, food donations

toyWith Christmas just days away, area human service agencies are making their list and checking it twice.

The economic challenges that many families and individuals in Oswego County are facing has resulted a record amount of requests from families in need this holiday season.

In an effort to meet these requests, several agencies have partnered with the United Way of Greater Oswego in an attempt to form an Oswego County Christmas Bureau, and while they have received numerous donations of toys and food there are many more Christmas wishes to fill.

“Our partners have done an excellent job gathering donations and the response that we have received from the community has been encouraging,” said Melanie Trexler, executive director of the United Way of Greater Oswego County. “The Department of Social Services is once again doing a remarkable job with the Children’s Fund, and the efforts of our partners, including Catholic Charities of Oswego County, and Toys for Tots are helping to expand the success of the Children’s Fund.

“To date we have enough toys for 1,600 children and 500 food baskets, however, we are in need for additional donations as we have 400 children on the Christmas toy waiting list and many more families in need of food baskets.”

Trexler added that those wishing to donate unwrapped toys, non-perishable food items, or money for food baskets, may contact Helen Hoefer at 598-3980 or drop them off at Catholic Charities of Oswego County, 301 Beech Street in Fulton.

Monetary donations for the Children’s Fund Christmas toy drive may be sent to the United Way, attention Doreen Clark, 1 South First Street, Fulton, NY, 13069.

Additionally, those who would like to Adopt-a-Family for Christmas may do so by contacting Deanne Myers of Oswego County DSS at 963-5246.

“Sharing our good fortune with those in need reflects the true spirit of the season,” said Trexler. “I’m confident that the generosity of our community will shine this Christmas.”