David Cordone will continue serving as the Fulton City School District Board of Education President, the board determined in its annual reorganizational meeting Tuesday.
The 2015-16 term will mark the fourth consecutive year Cordone has held the leadership position. He has also previously served as the board’s vice president and clerk.
Cordone said it “is an honor to represent the board,” and expressed gratitude to his colleagues for the opportunity to continue as president.
“It’s always a pleasure when you’re leading a group to have their confidence. I’m grateful to the other board members for their vote,” Cordone said. “I look forward to another year working with my board colleagues, as well as the superintendent and his team.”
Among the many things Cordone said he and the board will continue to pay close attention to this coming year are plans to address fluctuating enrollment and staffing levels at the elementary schools, the district budget, graduation rates, student performance data, and changes to administrator and teacher evaluations. He said he also plans to work closely with administrators on maintaining the district’s guiding principles.
The board also re-elected Dan Pawlewicz to another term as vice president, and Barbara Hubbard to continue as clerk.
Board meetings will continue to be held, in general, the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month, with one exception scheduled in April. The second meeting that month has been set for Monday, April 18. Regular session for the board meetings will continue being held at 7:30 p.m., following an executive session that begins at 6:30 p.m.
A full schedule will be posted on the district’s website, www.fulton.cnyric.org.
New play equipment will be installed at Fulton’s Hulett Park on Friday, July 17 and Saturday, July 18.
Thanks to donations from the community, and a contribution from the Richard S. Shineman Foundation, Friends of Fulton Parks was able to purchase play components from Parkitects Inc., a park and playground design firm based in Lansing, N.Y. Parkitects Project Manager KJ Armstrong has been involved from the initial design concept, to evaluating needs space and age-appropriateness of the play components. She will be guiding volunteers through a supervised community build, and setting up a maintenance plan for long-term upkeep.
This is Phase 1 of the installation. Phase 2 is planned for mid-August. As more donations are made, more equipment can be added to the main structure.
Hulett Park will be closed to visitors on Friday July 17 and Saturday July 18 for safety reasons. It is a community build project, meaning anyone willing to work is welcome to join in the event any time from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Volunteers will be needed to build, rake stone, mix cement, move heavy things, put pieces together, rake the fence line, pull weeds from other play areas, paint swing sets and bouncers, shovel/wheelbarrow/rake wood chips, hand out water bottles to workers, serve lunch, keep any children present safe and entertained.
Volunteers should bring your own work gloves, wheelbarrow, round-nosed shovel, ladder, metal garden rake, weed-whacker, socket wrenches to use.
This is a collaborative effort made possible by individuals, businesses and institutions as well as the support of the City of Fulton Parks and Recreation Department.
By Matthew Reitz
The Fulton Common Council voted Tuesday to make the Fulton Farmers’ Market tobacco free beginning July 11.
The Tobacco Free Network of CNY, the Oswego County Health Department, and the Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce all supported the measure and encouraged city officials to pass the resolution, which prohibits the use of all tobacco products inside the farmers’ market barriers, not just cigarettes. The Tobacco Free Network will provide signage to designate the boundaries of the smoke-free area at the farmers’ market.
The Common Council passed the resolution unanimously with little discussion on Tuesday, and Mayor Ron Woodward Sr. said he thought the move was a positive.
“I think it’s a good thing,” Woodward said.
The Tobacco Free Network of CNY says the move will make it safer for young children at the market as they are in danger not only of being burned by a cigarette or its ashes, but also from the negative health effects of secondhand smoke.
Danielle Hayden, assistant director of the Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce, said the farmer’s market aims to be a safe, family-oriented environment, and this measure will improve on that.
“It’s a family-friendly market,” Hayden said. “We wanted to make it’s smoke free for that fact alone.”
Greg Mills, the chamber’s executive director, said the tobacco-free policy will create a “safer, healthier environment for market vendors and patrons” and in turn a more family-friendly experience.
Hayden also mentioned that the Oswego Farmers’ Market has been smoke free “for a few years,” and it was only logical to follow their lead.
Jackie Thorpe, community specialist for the Tobacco Free Network of CNY, said she was pleased that Fulton voted to “protect its residents and the spirit of our farmers’ market.”
“There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke,” Thorpe said. “Even if outdoors.”
Thorpe cited a 2010 study in which 91 percent of Oswego County residents considered secondhand smoke to be harmful, and another 75 percent of the county’s residents “favor restricting or completely eliminating cigarette smoking at public outdoor recreation areas or events.”
A 2013 ban on smoking in New York State Parks was also upheld by a state judge late last year.
Thorpe and the Tobacco Free Network provided an extensive list of reasons to go smoke-free that included preventing asthma, other respiratory diseases and cardiovascular disease.
The Fulton Farmers’ Market is located in the Canalview Park & Shop parking lot on S. Second Street on Saturdays through Oct. 13 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
By Matthew Reitz
Fulton officials agreed to sell two former Nestlé properties that were previously acquired through tax foreclosure on Tuesday night.
The properties were sold to Liverpool-based company Spring Storage Park, Inc. for a total of $100,000.
At its June 25 meeting, the Common Council had authorized Mayor Ron Woodward Sr. to execute the sale of three “nuisance properties,” but delayed a vote on the two Nestlé parcels due to concerns about the purchaser’s relationship with former Nestlé property owner Ed Palmer, from whom the tax-delinquent properties were acquired. The president of Spring Storage Park, Gary E. Spring, agreed to meet with councilors prior to the vote on Tuesday to alleviate any concerns they might have.
The council unanimously agreed to move forward with the sale following the meeting, but there was still hesitation among some councilors. First Ward Councilor Tom Kenyon said he was voting yes, but he was wary of the fact that Spring “used to be partners with Ed Palmer.” Kenyon said he feared the city would “get stuck” with the property again.
“This guy used to be partners with Ed Palmer who was up there before, and it scares me to death,” Kenyon said. “I’m afraid it’s going to come back to bite us again.”
The properties being sold are the former Building #30 on Fay Street, which Spring Storage Park has offered to purchase for $90,000, and an adjoining parcel with a parking lot on South Fourth Street that will be sold for $10,000.
Woodward said Spring shared his intent to use the properties as a warehouse and a U-Haul rental location. Woodward said the property sales were a positive, and would help the city move forward. Woodward previously told the council that, in addition to putting the properties back on the tax rolls, the sale would take care of the taxes owed on those parcels.
“We need to get these properties back on the tax role,” Woodward said. He added that it was “a good thing” to have someone utilizing any Nestlé buildings that are still usable.
Fourth Ward Councilor Jim Myers said the sale was the “start of a positive” to transform the former Nestlé properties from vacant buildings to something useful.
“I’m glad to see the sale of Building #30 and the parking lot go through,” Myers said. “I hope we can proceed with the Aldi’s, but it’s a start.”
By Colin Hogan
Members of the Fulton City School District Board of Education say they want to explore all possible options for addressing enrollment disparity among the district’s four elementary schools as they proceed with a study on the matter this coming school year.
The board recently authorized a study into possible solutions to an imbalance among enrollment numbers in the elementary schools, which will be conducted during the 2015-16 school year. The study will examine whether the district would benefit from a realignment of those buildings’ grade level configurations, along with other alternatives that might be prudent in helping balance out enrollment across the schools.
“We have a parameter in the district that we keep class sizes at 25 students or less. We don’t exceed 25, and younger grades we prefer to keep even lower than that if we can,” explained Superintendent Bill Lynch.
Based on anticipated enrollment figures at each school, the district could have a challenge keeping all elementary class sizes within its benchmark.
School officials say they’re interested in finding out if by consolidating grade levels among sister schools (schools that are on the same side of the river) through a realignment, they could reliably balance out those class sizes. They say, theoretically, each side of the river could have one elementary school that houses grades K-3, and one that houses grades 4-6, rather than having four separate K-6 facilities.
For example, district officials anticipate that Granby Elementary, which currently has three fourth-grade sections, will have about 80 students enrolled in that grade during the 2015-16 school year, causing those class sizes to exceed 25 students. Yet, its sister school, Lanigan Elementary, is expected to only have about 57 students spread among its three sections. If those six fourth-grade sections were consolidated to one building, class sizes could stay below the 25-student benchmark (23-24 students per class).
David Cordone, president of the school board, said he and other board members are eager to find a solution to enrollment disparity and the staffing issues it may cause, but want to be sure all options — not just a realignment — are explored before setting a course of action.
“We recognized that (a realignment) is one of the options that could be looked at, but is it the only option?” Cordone said.
Cordone said the board wants to thoroughly explore the concept, both in how it would work for the district and how the community at large would respond, before moving forward with any changes.
“If such a change is going to impact four buildings, there are going to be staff and students in each of those buildings impacted,” Cordone said. “We need to make sure we really know what all that is going to entail.”
One possible alternative to a realignment that Cordone mentioned would be to redraw the catchment areas (i.e. the boundaries that outline which households are assigned to a particular school) in a way that would balance enrollment numbers.
One of Cordone’s concerns with realignment, he said, is that it adds another school-to-school transition as students progress through grades K-12. He said research shows that students benefit from having fewer of those transitions during their time in school.
Cordone said details on how the study will be conducted still need to be worked out, but noted that the district would be working closely with parents, faculty/staff and community members through the process.
Syracuse native and jazz trumpeter Joe Magnarelli, with his wife, Akiko Tsuruga “Queen of the Organ,” headline the 2015 Fulton Jazz Fest, 5-11:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 7 and 4-11 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 8, it was announced by co-chairs Joe Cortini and Bill Hubel.
The event is on the shores of Lake Neatahwanta, behind the Fulton War Memorial on state Route 3 and admission is free.
“It’s extremely exciting to have both Joe Magnarelli and Akiko Tsuruga headline together,” Cortini said. “They have toured the world and are icons on both the New York and international jazz scenes. This is a true bop-meets-B3 matchup that will be over the top!”
The festival kicks off this year with Happy Hour from 5-6 p.m. on Friday, when vocalist Nancy Kelly will take the Fulton Savings Bank stage. Kelly has been a prominent figure in the success of the event, performing at two past Fulton Jazz Fests. Following Happy Hour, The Longwood Jazz Project will play from 6:30-8 p.m. Back by popular demand is Classified, featuring high-energy brass, keyboards and vocals from 8:30-11 p.m, Cortini said.
“Classified shares its roots with classic brass groups Eric & the Chessmen and Ascension from the ‘60s and ‘70s.”
The fun continues on Saturday at 4 p.m. with E.S.P. featuring Melissa Gardiner, “rising star of trombone.” According to their website, “E.S.P. gives yesterday’s bebop a tasteful modern touch by blending their traditional jazz roots with great improvisation.” Gardiner, featured in the February 2015 issue of International Musician, is a jazz trombone instructor at Cornell and Syracuse universities. She performs regularly with her jazz organ trio and has released the album, “Transitions.” Joe Magnarelli and Akiko Tsuruga will follow E.S.P. at 6 p.m. Rounding out the evening will be a performance by the mass brass of Atlas, a Fulton Jazz Fest favorite, from 8-11 p.m.
Headliner Joe Magnarelli, (aka “Mags”), has built a huge body of work as both a leader and a sideman with some of the world’s greatest bands. According to his website, (joemagnarelli.com), he toured and recorded with Lionel Hampton, Jack McDuff, Toshiko Akioshi, the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Harry Connick Jr., John Pizzarelli, Aretha Franklin, Rosemary Clooney, Joe Williams, Michael Feinstein, the Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center orchestras, and many more. He has nine records out as a leader, and in 1990, he was a semifinalist at the Thelonious Monk International Trumpet Competition in Washington, D.C. He is currently an adjunct professor of music at the Juilliard School of Music and Rutgers University.
Akiko Tsuruga, according to akikotsuruga.com, began playing the organ at age 3 and is a graduate of Japan’s Osaka College of Music. Lou Donaldson proclaimed her “Queen of the Organ.” She established herself in the NYC mecca of jazz since she arrived there in 2001 and has played regularly with Donaldson’s quartet in both the U.S. and Europe. She has headlined at the Blue Note, Smalls, the Green Mill in Chicago, Yoshi’s in Oakland, Calif., and Pine Grill Reunion in Buffalo. She has released five albums in Japan and four in the U.S. Both of her first two U.S. releases, “Sweet and Funky,” and “Oriental Express,” have ranked within the top 20 on national jazz radio charts. Upon releasing her new album, “Commencement,” she changed her name to simply AKIKO.
Gates open at 4 p.m. and admission is free, made possible through sponsorship from local businesses, including stage sponsor Fulton Savings Bank and major sponsors Chirello Advertising, Davis-Standard, Mimi’s Drive-In, Oswego Health, SUNY Oswego/SBDC, Community Bank and PathFinder Bank. The festival has also received promotional support from the Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce and the Oswego County Department of Tourism, as well as several other sponsors.
A variety of refreshments will be sold, and beer and wine is available to purchase with valid ID at the Blue Moon Grill stand, as well as Blue Moon’s New Orleans Cajun cuisine.
Please bring your lawn chairs or blankets, but leave your coolers and pets at home, Hubel said. For more information, find the event on Facebook under “Fulton Jazz Festival”.
By Matthew Reitz
The old Nestlé Park just south of Fulton will soon be in operation as Virgilio’s Event Centre, the owner recently told officials in the Town of Volney.
The 69-acre property on 52 Nestlé Drive was sold by Nestlé in 2003, and sold again late last year to the current owner, Virgil Dombroski. Dombroski says he is revamping the facility and plans to hold weddings, company picnics and other events at the venue.
“We’re looking to basically be a one-stop shop for everything,” Dombroski said. “We will have our own catering license and our own liquor license there.”
Dombroski said several people have expressed excitement to him about the renovations to the iconic park, and shared their memories of the site.
“People love that place,” Dombroski said.
Dombroksi, who also owns a party rental company in Syracuse, said the acquisition of a venue to host events was a logical next step.
“I have the resources to promote it because we already do the entertainment and wedding stuff,” Dombroski said. “We have the resources to promote it, to book it and to sell it.”
The venue is named after Dombroksi’s youngest son and features a 6,000-square-foot banquet hall with a full kitchen. Dombroksi said the existing basketball and tennis courts will be entirely redone, as well as a baseball field.
“We will have a full-size tennis court, a full-size basketball court with two hoops, and we are redoing the brand new baseball field with a 40-foot backstop — all brand new, we are gutting out everything,” Dombroski said.
There will also be a volleyball court and two brand new horse shoe pits with “sand and proper drainage,” he said.
The bathrooms are being renovated to feature a “Victorian chic” style women’s room and a “straight-up man cave”-style men’s room, he said.
Wedding ceremonies can be held at a private waterway at the site.
“It’s an inlet off the Oswego River, but it’s totally private,” Dombroski said.
Dombroski said he already has a couple weddings and company picnics booked, and would be opening as soon as he got approval from the fire marshal and a certificate of occupancy from the Town of Volney.
Dombroski is seeking to be added to the exemption list from a mass gathering law being considered in the Town of Volney. He said they would like to do car shows, chili and chicken wing festivals, and maybe even a summer concert series in the future if the town will allow it.
“We want to do those things down the road,” Dombroski said. “I want to bring it back to its heyday when it was Nestlé’s.”
By Colin Hogan
The estimated $24 million upgrade to the Pathfinder Courts apartment facilities is slated to break ground in September, officials said Thursday.
The project, which comes with the privatization of the former public housing facilities to a not-for-profit model, is expected to take 24-28 months to complete once it begins.
The Pathfinder Courts apartments, which currently include 60 low-income family units and a 50-unit senior housing complex, were established as state-sponsored public housing in the late 1960s and early ’70s under the Fulton Housing Authority. However, as state funding for local housing authorities has diminished over the years, leaving only the rental revenues to sustain the properties, FHA has struggled to make capital improvements to the aging facilities.
As FHA now approaches the end of those buildings’ 50-year mortgages, it is turning them over to a new not-for-profit entity — Emery Street Housing Development Fund Company, consisting of the same staff and administration who currently run the facilities — which will be investing millions of dollars to upgrade the sites and continue to run them under a low-income housing model.
With Pathfinder Courts privatizing to a not-for-profit model, the City of Fulton will no longer be obligated to make it whole if it can’t meet its financial obligations. As a public housing facility, the city was required to do so.
As the transition continues to move forward, officials are planning major upgrades to the buildings to the tune of $16 million. Those include new facades, repairing hazardous sidewalks, fixing drainage issues, providing outdoor lighting that meets safety guidelines, a new security system, upgraded fire alarm systems, better electrical service to buildings, new roofs and siding, better insulation, updated kitchen and bathrooms, and new furnaces and water heaters. The project will also do away with any asbestos-based materials within the facilities.
When adding in the cost of relocating residents for the construction period, asbestos removal, legal and bank fees, and other miscellaneous costs, officials estimated about $24 million would be spent on the endeavor.
However, officials said Pathfinder Courts will probably only end up borrowing about $1.5 million of that. The rest of the funds are being pooled together from several state and federal resources.
Holly Carpenter of the Fulton Housing Authority said Thursday that all of the expected funding has come through and is currently being finalized.
“All the funding has come through, it’s just a matter of the lawyers crossing the Ts and dotting the Is,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter said the deal is now expected to close sometime in August, and a groundbreaking ceremony is slated for September.