Town of Hannibal voters elected Republican and Conservative candidate George H. Ritchie to the town council with just over 53 percent of the vote Tuesday, according to unofficial results released by the Oswego County Board of Elections.
With 529 ballots cast in his named, Ritchie defeated challengers Christopher Soper, who received 314 votes (31.49 percent) and Gary D. Thompson Jr., who had 154 votes (15.45 percent).
Phoenix will be looking to an outside supplier to provide clean drinking water to its residents.
Village officials had been considering three possible courses of action to address the quality of Phoenix’s drinking water., after tests done by both the county and state health departments showed that the village’s two drinking water wells are susceptible to ground water infiltration.
A 2013 village drinking water report states that those conditions leave the wells at a “medium-high susceptibility rating for pesticides, metals and nitrates due to the unconfined aquifer.” The wells were also given a “high-risk rating for petroleum products, bacteria, protozoa, viruses, cations/anions, halogenated solvents and other industrial organics due to nearby land use activities.”
Through both news and social media, some residents have been publicly calling for village officials to take action on the matter. They describe their water as murky “like chocolate milk,” and emitting chemical odors.
After the 2013 drinking water report was released, village officials say they began working to eliminate the voids in the ground that allow surface water to reach the wells. However, that course of action hasn’t yielded strong enough results.
The Oswego County Health Department gave the village until the end of October to settle on a different course of action, which could have included putting in completely new wells, implementing a filtration system designed to treat surface water, or tying into a different public water supplier.
Village Administrator Jim Lynch said Wednesday that the village board has settled on using an outside water provider.
“We can’t say anything has been finalized, but at the last meeting the board decided to move forward in choosing to hook into a different public water source,” Lynch said. “We’re currently looking at a couple options.”
Those options include the city of Fulton’s water system or the Metropolitan Water Board’s (MWB) service.
Lynch said village officials will be exploring the costs and benefits of each service, but he believes MWB will end up being the more cost efficient choice.
“We plan to be talking with the city of Fulton about a connection to their water source, but it would probably be more cost effective to hook up to Metropolitan since we already have a connection for them here in the village,” Lynch said.
Should the village ultimately decide to go with MWB’s service, it could take a year-and-a-half or so to begin actually providing that water to village residents.
“Right now, as we reported to the health department, we would be looking at spring 2016 for the final hookup,” Lynch said.
That time would be needed to pursue grants and loans for the project, design a pump station, put the project out for bid and have it completed. Lynch said the most time-consuming aspect of that would be lining up the money.
“The majority of that time is getting funding. The village isn’t just going to fund the whole project. We need to get grants or line up zero- or low-interest loans. Getting all that in place takes a lot of time,” Lynch said.
Lynch said the cost to build the facilities needed to tie into MWB’s service is estimated at $516,000. The village would then pay $185,000 per year to MWB for annual operating costs, in addition to the wholesale price of the water it purchases. Phoenix residents would continue to pay their water bills to the village, he said.
Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang said be feels Phoenix officials have selected a good course of action.
“I think they’ve moved toward the right direction,” Huang said. “As the county health department, we are happy to see they have moved things forward in this way.”
Friends of Fulton Parks is looking to the city’s residents to determine which park will be the group’s primary focus next year.
The non-profit organization announced its “Raise the Bar at Your Park” initiative Monday, in which community members are asked to make a financial contribution toward the park of their choice as a way of voting for which park the organization designates as its primary focus in 2015.
“We want the community to give its input on which park should get the focus next year,” said Kelley Weaver, one of the organization’s board members. “We want it to be based on community support and interest, not just something we decide on.”
Weaver said the organization picks a particular park to focus on each year. Once it’s chosen, Friends of Fulton Parks devotes its resources to hosting community fundraisers and seeking grant money from various foundations and corporations to fund upgrades in that park.
As a way of selecting next year’s park, the organization is asking community members to make some sort of monetary donation, however large or small, in the name of either Foster, Hulett, Patrick, Recreation or Van Buren park. Weaver has set an ultimate goal of raising $28,000 for each park. Whichever park is closest to that mark by Jan. 1, 2015 will receive the “primary focus” designation.
“It could be any amount. It could be a dollar if that’s all a person can give. Yes, this itself is a sort of fundraiser, but what we’re really trying to do here is see which parks the community wants us to be focused on,” Weaver said. “We need, and want, the community input. Calling out to the community to say ‘which parks do you want us to be working on?’ allows residents to get in on the planning.”
Each of those parks is in need of playground equipment, though the specific needs at each park differs. For instance, the organization is trying to raise money to install equipment designated for older kids, ages 12 and up, at Recreation Park. At Foster Park, which recently received a $1,500 donation from the Fulton Sunrise Rotary club, the organization plans to install equipment geared toward younger children, ages 2 through 12. That equipment is slated to be installed next spring, Weaver said.
Weaver said, regardless of which park becomes the 2015 primary focus, the money given during the “Raise the Bar” campaign will only be used on the park named in the donation.
“If someone makes their contribution toward a specific park, that’s where that money will go,” Weaver said.
The organization has three goals it sets for its projects each year, which are to maintain safe playgrounds in compliance with insurance safety inspection requirements, promote developmental benefits to children through play, and provide community events at the parks. Last year’s primary focus was Hulett Park.
To achieve the first goal, the group installed safe-landing material at the Voorhees Park Playground, and C.V. Abbott Playground in Hulett Park.
Using $16,000 in grant money given by the Richard S. Shineman Foundation, and other donations from local individuals, the group accomplished its second goal last year by having a space cleared in Hulett Park for the installation of the new playground equipment. However, Weaver said the group still needs $9,500 to complete that installation this summer.
In fulfillment of the third goal, the group coordinated four community events in the parks last year, as well as 15 different volunteer clean-up events, Weaver said.
Weaver said people interested in getting involved with the projects or fundraising can mail their name and preferred contact information with $5 dues to Friends of Fulton Parks, P.O. Box 572, Fulton. Donations for the “Raise the Bar” campaign can be made in the same way.
United Way has touched the lives of countless families and individuals throughout Oswego County. Whether working to stop hunger, improving a community’s health and well-being, or helping children and youth succeed, the positive impact provided by United Way has made difference in lives of many.
While much of that impact is immediate and can easily be seen, there are some United Way programs that offer services that provide a positive impact that lasts a lifetime. For one Fulton resident it all began with a trip to Catholic Charities’ CYO Program.
When Mike Curtis was nine years old he learned from his friends that there was a place where he could go to have fun, meet new friends and best of all play basketball. The place, the Fulton CYO, soon became a favorite spot for him. He was soon going to CYO after school, evenings and Saturday mornings. The opportunity to play basketball and partake in the many other youth activities CYO offered was too much to pass up.
“I really looked forward to going to CYO. It was a big part of my life. I was still stopping in to play basketball some Saturday mornings when I was in my early 20s,” said Curtis.
In addition to basketball and the other activities, Curtis said that the all-night sleepovers were one of his fondest memories.
“They were great, especially around the holidays as there would be special holiday-themed activities,” Curtis said. “No really ever slept…we were having too much fun!”
While CYO provided Curtis with hours of fun, it also offered life lessons that would help shape his future.
“CYO taught me about discipline and responsibility. I remember having to stop at the front desk to sign in and CYO Director Jim Smiley explaining the proper conduct we were to display while we were at CYO. It was a privilege to be at CYO and he reminded us of that. It also taught me the value of hard work. I have vivid memories of painting those blue stairs that led to CYO when I was involved its summer work program. More importantly, it taught me how to build relationships. Life lessons like discipline and responsibility are only valuable when they can be passed on through strong relationships with family, friends and others, which is what I did,” explained Curtis.
As a 13-year member of the Fulton City Police Department, currently in the criminal investigation unit, Curtis has seen that the impact CYO had on his life is continuing to shape the lives of youth that visit CYO today.
“For many youth CYO is a respite from turmoil. It’s an alternative that offers healthy activities in a safe setting for those families that may not have the financial means to participate other wise. The impact that CYO has on our community is invaluable. It has the ability to intervene in the life of high-risk youth and offers a chance to help break the cycle of generational struggles and negative behavior. CYO teaches youth how to build relationships in a stable environment that are predicated on positive behaviors. The results of which benefit the community as a whole now and in the future,” said Curtis.
Curtis’ reflection on his experience with CYO is just one of the many stories that could be shared by the thousands of youth and adults who have experienced all that CYO has to offer. It paints a clear picture of how United Way and the programs it supports impact a community.
“Every experience in your life has a role in shaping you as a person, said Curtis. “CYO is a big part of why I am the person I am. I’ve heard people say why should I give to United Way. The answer is simple…results! We have a responsibility to support each other in our community. We need to give of our time, talent and finances if possible. One never knows when the tide may turn and it will be you in need of help, encouragement or even a life lesson. The impact that United Way has produces positive results that can help end hunger, assist our children and youth in succeeding, and improve the health and well-being of our county.
He continued, “for me the results are in the numbers: 42 years in the community, 21 years of marriage, 13 years with the Fulton City Police Department, three beautiful children, and one lovely wife.”
After nearly six months of negotiations, unionized service employees with Michaud Residential Health Services in Fulton and St. Luke’s Health Services in Oswego may have finally reached an agreement with their company.
St. Luke’s officials announced Friday that “tentative contract agreements have been reached” with the service employees. The previous contract agreements had expired on July 31.
The service employees, represented by Service Employees International Union (SEIU #1199) Upstate, include certified nursing assistants (CNAs), dietary workers and members of the groundskeeping staff.
Details of the tentative agreements were not available as of press time, as they were still pending final approval by both the St. Luke/Michaud Board of Directors and the union. Company spokesperson Greg Osetek told the Valley News the union would be voting on the agreement this week, and that the board is expected to evaluate the contract and make its decision some time in the next couple weeks.
“We are pleased that the work of all the parties involved in negotiations has resulted in tentative agreements,” said Osetek. “To continue to deliver the quality healthcare that St. Luke and Michaud are known for in our community, we need to be able to operate our not-for-profit affiliate organizations in a fiscally responsible manner. We believe these agreements allow us to accomplish this, and are fair and equitable for our hard-working employees.”
Calls to an SEIU #1199 spokesperson were unreturned.
In August, after a four-month stalemate in negotiations, the service employees, alongside union representatives and other supporters, held a non-stoppage picket outside St. Luke’s. There, workers spoke out against the company’s desire to eliminate their 15-minute shift overlap period, which would have cut down their weekly hours. In order to make up the difference in pay, workers were offered a total 4.3 percent raise in that contract – 3.3 percent of which was designed to supplement the time loss, while the remaining 1 percent would have served as their cost of living increase.
Most of those employees, who are paid hourly, would still have been considered full-time, and eligible for benefits accordingly.
Protesters called the wage increase unfair, and said residents’ care would suffer as a result of the time cut.
“The quality of care is going to decline. We’re not going to have as much time to take care of the residents,” said Eric Susino, a St. Luke’s employee. “They’re saying that they’re giving us a 4.3 percent raise, but 3.3 percent of it is just making up for the lost wages we would have had with the 15-minute loss of day. Only 1 percent of that is real money going into our pockets, and we don’t think that’s fair.”
If accepted, the new agreement would extend for the next three years, Osetek said.