Category Archives: Other News

FCSD to select alternate capital projects with leftover funds

By Mathew Reitz

Two Fulton City School District capital projects coming to completion have come in under budget, and the district will look to pursue further improvements with the leftover funds.
An $8.8 million capital project that was approved in 2012 and a $4.4 million project approved in 2014 did not cost as much as the district had planned for, and School Board President David Cordone said the district will use the additional funds to make more upgrades.
“The work came in favorably, and we’re going to be able to do more than we were anticipating,” Cordone said.
The board will consider a series of alternate projects before further work is commissioned.
The $4.4 million 2014 project is currently on schedule, according to Director of Facilities Jerry Seguin. A gym floor replacement and a new storage building at the athletic facilities have already been completed, and contractors are putting the finishing touches on roof replacements at Granby and Lanigan elementary schools.
Seguin said the membrane on both roofs was “completely installed,” and contractors were currently installing edge metal and ice guards.
There are also still some skylights that need to be installed in the gym at Lanigan, but Seguin said they should be in by the end of the week.
He said paving at Granby was beginning on schedule and should be completed next week.
Superintendent Bill Lynch said the work throughout the district “has proceeded well this summer.”
One of the final components of the 2014 project will be the replacement of locks on classrooms and offices throughout the district. Officials say the doors must currently be locked from outside the classroom, which they say is not ideal for safety.
Seguin said the hardware began arriving this week, and crews will immediately begin the installation.
Another small project driven by security concerns at G. Ray Bodley High School incorporates the mailroom into an existing office space. Seguin said the nearly completed project is a much better use of the space and improves security within the office.
Improvements to parking lots, sidewalks and access roads throughout the district have also been a priority this summer.
Seguin said “all the pavement” at Volney Elementary was resealed and repainted, and some paving was done on the south end of the high school. Access roads at the athletic complex and behind the junior high have been revamped, and Seguin said he hopes the district will “get a few more years out of that material” before it needs to be replaced.
A sign donated by the booster club is also expected to be installed at the athletic complex before school begins.
Major components of the 2012 project included the replacement of the stage curtain; lighting and rigging at the Education Center; a partial roof replacement at G. Ray Bodley High School; technology upgrades and new computer facilities at both Fairgrieve and Volney elementary schools; security upgrades, asbestos abatement, ceiling tile/grid replacement, removal of classroom lockers and new ductwork/relief fans at Fairgrieve; and a partial roof replacement at Volney.

Hospital to pay $1.4M settlement for ‘improperly submitted claims’

Staff Report

Oswego Hospital will have to make a $1.4 million repayment to federal and state authorities as part of a settlement over “improperly submitted claims,” hospital officials announced in a prepared statement Thursday.

An internal investigation started in early 2013 into billing practices by independent contractors in the Behavioral Health Services Division (BHS) turned up a wide range of improperly submitted claims, according to the release, forcing the hospital to settle with state and federal authorities to the tune of $1.4 million.

The hospital must pay $890,553 to the federal government — specifically the Office of Inspector General for the United States Department of Health and Human Services — and $565,904 to the state Office of Medicaid Inspector General in the settlement proposed by the hospital and accepted by all parties.

“We take this matter very seriously,” said Allison Duggan, MD, executive vice president and administrator for Oswego Hospital. “We have been openly communicating and fully cooperating with federal and state officials since the billing discrepancies were discovered.”

The internal investigation started in the summer of 2013 after a question from a patient led to the discovery of “irregularities” in “patient care documentation and the corresponding billing records for Medicare and Medicaid services provided at BHS,” according to a release from the hospital.

The investigation was conducted by Harris Beach PLLC Attorneys of Rochester, who was hired by the hospital.

In a statement from Oswego Health, officials acknowledged the hospital received payment for situations where billing records were “not adequately documented.”

Hospital officials stressed that the psychiatrists providing care at the time were independent contractors, not hospital employees, but the release from the hospital notes that officials “discharged appropriate medical and administrative staff.”

Officials declined to say the names or the total number of those independent contractors involved in the billing irregularities, nor did hospital officials state whether any employees at BHS who were not contractors were terminated or disciplined.

The hospital “took immediate action to add internal controls” when the billing discrepancies were discovered, according to a release.

Hospital officials declined, though, to answer specifically whether controls and reviews had been in place for BHS prior to the investigation, nor did officials answer specifically what new controls were added.

Instead, Duggan stated that “Oswego Hospital maintains significant internal controls that manage the complex and ever-changing federal and state regulations related to reimbursement for health services. Oswego Hospital used this event as an opportunity to strengthen its internal controls at BHS, as well as through the health system.”

Hospital officials also declined to speculate on any future action that could be taken by federal or state authorities. Efforts to speak with state or federal officials were unsuccessful by press time.

The billing situation at BHS — which had a gross billing of more than $50 million during the time frame examined in the investigation — didn’t impact services for patients, according to hospital officials.

The settlement comes at a time of transition for the hospital as Chief Operating Officer Ann Gilpin abruptly announced her retirement on June 30. She had served as C.E.O. since 2007.

According to Duggan, Gilpin had actively supported a resolution to the issue.

“It’s important to note that we did the right thing by contacting the appropriate state and federal agencies with our findings in this matter,” said Duggan

Local history buffs preparing for Hunter Arms Homecoming

By Matthew Reitz

Collectors of the locally made shotguns that helped put Fulton on the map will flock to the city this month for a weekend of nostalgia, sport and fun.

The L.C. Smith Collectors Association and Friends of Fulton History will host the fifth annual Hunter Arms Homecoming the weekend of August 21.

Les Weldin, a member of both the L.C. Smith Collectors Association and Friends of Fulton History, said the event was created to promote L.C. Smith shotguns, safe firearm practices and collecting and preserving the history of the Hunter Arms factory and L.C. Smith guns.

The event is open to the public, and allows collectors, shooters and other enthusiasts to share stories and display their L.C. Smith shotguns, which were produced in Fulton from the 1890s to the middle of the 20th century. Trap, skeet and five-stand shooting competitions, in which participants use L.C. Smith shotguns, will take place at the Pathfinder Fish & Game Club on Crescent Road in Fulton. An awards banquet for those competitions and displays will take place Saturday at Tavern on the Lock. Flac lossless download here. best music portal!

The history of the Hunter Arms Company began in 1877, when W.H. Baker and Company started making the Baker Three-Barrel Gun in Lisle, N.Y. Two years later, Baker formed a partnership with L.C. Smith to begin manufacturing the weapon in Syracuse, and by 1888, Smith had taken over the company and sold it to John Hunter Sr. of Fulton. A year later, a factory in Fulton was completed and L.C. Smith guns were being manufactured by the Hunter Arms Company.

Weldin said the factory was on the east side of the Oswego River just north of where the Oneida Street Bridge sits. Weldin said Hunter Arms produced L.C. Smith shotguns of various grades, from a basic “field grade” to the “deluxe grade,” which Weldin said had “intricate etchings with gold inlays.”

More than 500,000 L.C. Smith guns were produced in 25 different grades and variations, but most of them were “field grade,” which Weldin said sold for about $25. He said there were only 37 “deluxe grade” shotguns made, and those sold for around $1,000.

The L.C. Smith brand competed with some of the best English- and Belgian-made shotguns, according to Weldin. He said it was known as “the best American side-lock” or “the gun that never shoots loose.” Weldin said the guns were owned by many famous Americans, such as Humphrey Bogart, Teddy Roosevelt and Clark Cable, and have become valuable collector’s items over the years, with some valued over $200,000.

The Hunter Arms Company employed around 400 people at its peak, and is a “big part” of Fulton history, according to Weldin. Ownership of the Fulton factory changed hands on several occasions, but production of the L.C. Smith guns remained in the city until the late 1940s when a section of the first floor of the factory collapsed, and was not rebuild.

“By this time, pump shotguns and automatics were coming out and could be produced with interchanging parts,” Weldin said. “They were made so easily and cheaply that the market changed.”

On Tuesday, Mayor Ron Woodward Sr. was to deliver a proclamation during the Common Council meeting declaring Aug. 22 Hunter Arms Homecoming Day in Fulton.

To learn more about the event contact Weldin at weldinj@gmail or call the John Wells Pratt House museum at 598-4616.

Country singer aims to ‘encourage small-town pride’ in Fulton

By Matthew Reitz

RickyLee2Nashville recording artist Ricky Lee will be giving a free concert in Fulton next weekend to honor local veterans and first responders.

The “Hometown Heroes” concert will take place August 15 at the Bullhead Point pavilion on state Route 3 beginning at 6 p.m.

Lee describes himself as “basically a huge patriot” and said he’s honored to play for the veterans and first responders who “keep us safe.”

Lee is “living the American dream,” he says, by being able to do what he loves for a living. The Altoona, Pa. native said giving back to veterans is something he strives to do, and working with veterans and non-profits is rewarding. A large portion of Lee’s performances — he said about 50 percent — are geared toward veterans. He said “music is a very powerful and tremendous tool,” and the performances are just his way of trying to give back.

“There are a lot of veterans out there that need our support,” Lee said. “They’ve done a lot.”

After spending much of his time playing concerts for veterans, Lee decided to give back in another way, pursuing music therapy to help veterans dealing post-traumatic stress, depression and other issues.

“We don’t know what they’ve been through, what they’ve seen,” Lee said.

Music therapy has been used across the country as an effective tool to help veterans struggling to cope with PTSD, and Lee hopes that he can get other musicians to follow his lead. Our partners professional video equipment.

“It’s a different type of treatment and it could have a tremendous impact,” Lee said. “This is what they need.”

The therapy gives them something else to focus on, Lee said, and it “lets them know someone cares.”

Lee is currently in the middle of his “Small Town America Tour” aimed at “encouraging small town pride,” and he said Fulton caught his eye. While visiting the city recently, he thought to himself “this is small town America, let’s put on a show (here),” he told the Valley News

“Small-town America is what built this country,” Lee said. “We’ve got to keep patriotism alive so freedom never dies.”

GRB alumni pitch in towards Recreation Park restoration

Members of the G. Ray Bodley High School Class of 1975 surround the new sign at Recreation Park their fundraising efforts helped pay for. Members of the class celebrated their 40th reunion on Saturday, and released balloons in the park in honor of their deceased classmates.  Matthew Reitz photo
Members of the G. Ray Bodley High School Class of 1975 surround the new sign at Recreation Park their fundraising efforts helped pay for. Members of the class celebrated their 40th reunion on Saturday, and released balloons in the park in honor of their deceased classmates.
Matthew Reitz photo
By Matthew Reitz

The G. Ray Bodley High School class of 1975, which celebrated its 40-year class reunion over the weekend, gathered at Recreation Park on Saturday to remember their deceased classmates and celebrate their fundraising efforts toward the park’s improvements.

Friends of Fulton Parks board member Kelley Weaver said the class was able to raise $3,175 for improvements to the park, which is in part being used for a new sign located near the Chestnut Street entrance and a bench dedicated to their classmates who have passed away.

Colleen Madigan, now living in Virginia, organized the fundraiser and challenged a corporate sponsor to match the class’ donation. She also called on other classes to follow the group’s lead and contribute to the park’s restoration.

Madigan said she received $300 more on Saturday with “many more promises.” Additional funding will go toward the upcoming renovation of the park’s pavilion. Madigan said the park, which is adjacent to the school, meant a lot to her and her classmates when they were young. She spoke with optimism about the renovations at the park and the ongoing cleanup of Lake Neatahwanta. Madigan said the fundraising and reunion “went really well,” and the class was thinking about meeting once a year to stay involved. Attorney in New York.

“Everybody wants to be involved,” Madigan said, “and we agreed we want to do more for the park.”

Recreation Park is undergoing a three-phase project that will restore the pavilion and update playground equipment. Weaver said this campaign “is an example of how much Recreation Park means to past and present residents of Fulton.”

“They have great memories from the park and they appreciate their Fulton childhood,” Weaver said. “They would like to help pass that along for the next generation to have the opportunity to make their own fond memories in the park.”

Anyone who would like to volunteer for the project or with fundraising can contact Friends of Fulton Parks at FriendsofFultonParks@gmail.com.

County’s solar farm project moving forward in Volney

By Matthew Reitz

The Town of Volney will hold a public hearing on August 4 to take comments on a site plan review for a large solar power system submitted by SolarCity Corporation.
The solar farm, along with a similar project at the county’s highway garage on state Route 104 in Scriba, is part of an effort by Oswego County to become more financially and energy efficient. The efforts began several years ago when a task force was created to research opportunities for the county to use environmentally friendly technology in ways that could save money, according to county administrator Phil Church.
The two projects are expected to save the county $355,897 in 2017, with increased savings in following years reaching up to $400,000.
The Volney site is located west of the Bristol Hill landfill behind the Oswego County Soil and Water Conservation facilities, and will sit on over nine acres of county-owned property. Officials say the proposed 2-megawatt solar farm will produce enough electricity to power the equivalent of over 400 average homes.
County Legislator Linda Lockwood said certain project details still needed to be worked out, but the endeavor is “still in the works” and moving forward.
“I know it’s coming,” Lockwood said.
Church said the project documents have been signed, and the county hopes to finalize the planning process and break ground later this year.
“I want it done before the snow flies,” Church said.
He said the county has entered into a 20-year contract with SolarCity in which it will purchase power at a fixed rate that is less than current utility prices. The panels will be installed on county-owned property, but SolarCity will own and maintain the system throughout the terms of the lease. Church said the plan will “guarantee savings” without putting any additional stress on county taxpayers.
Based in San Mateo, Calif., SolarCity is one of the nation’s largest developers, financers and installers of solar power products.
Church said the county has installed smaller solar projects in the last few years that have worked out well, including systems at Camp Hollis and the Bunner Street facilities in Oswego, but this will be the county’s first experience with a large-scale solar farm.
Volney’s planning board will hold the public hearing at 6:30 p.m. on August 4, directly preceding the regularly scheduled planning board meeting.

Cleanup efforts to continue at contaminated Fulton site

By Matthew Reitz

Fulton officials took action last week to continue a decade-long cleanup effort of gasoline-contaminated soil at a site on N. 5th Street.
The Common Council agreed to amend a 2006 contract with the state Department of Environmental Conservation that will extend the original agreement to complete what the mayor called “ongoing cleanup.” The original contract was part of a DEC Brownfield Cleanup Program that called for a joint venture, funded by the state, in which the city would conduct investigation and/or remedial activities at the site of 60 N. Fifth Street. Mayor Ron Woodward Sr. said the Brownfield cleanup projects often take extensive time and effort, which deters some municipalities from participating in the program.
The city acquired the property through tax foreclosure in 2003, and demolished a single-story concrete block building on the site in 2004. During the demolition, the city discovered a 700-gallon underground storage tank containing approximately 200 gallons of gasoline product. The storage tank was removed, but it became evident gasoline had leaked into the soil.
Woodward said the building was most recently a maintenance garage for a small business. In the past, the site had also been used as a brass and metal works facility, a foundry, an automobile paint shop, an automobile warehouse, and a construction materials warehouse.
A 2007 report prepared for the City of Fulton and Oswego County by ENSR Corporation spelled out a work plan to move forward with the cleanup. Woodward said the city “did the remediation” work that was recommended for the site when it removed the gasoline-impacted soils and brought clean fill in to the site.
“We took out all the bad dirt and brought in new,” Woodward said.
As part of the cleanup, the DEC also required the city to put monitoring wells on the property, and the results of that monitoring now indicate more work needs to be done.
“It turned out the ground water on the site was contaminated,” Woodward said.
The findings necessitate further cleanup, but the path forward it not yet clear. City officials are waiting for the DEC to instruct them on how to proceed with the project.
“There will be an added phase,” Woodward said, “and we’re waiting on what they want to do.”
The city also changed engineers “a couple times” throughout the process, causing further delays, according to Woodward.

Fulton native charged in Rochester-area murder

Soble mugStaff Report

A former Fulton woman has been arrested as an accomplice in a Rochester-area murder.
Jessica Soble, 34, is facing a second degree murder charge for her alleged role in the stabbing death of 39-year-old Jehon Gervalla late last Thursday at a Motel 6 in the town of Gates.
Police say Soble was an accomplice to Donovan Zuhlke, 26, of Rochester, who reportedly stabbed Gervalla once in the chest, causing his death.
The district attorney told local media Soble faces the same murder charge as Zuhlke “because she was in the motel room and was a ‘knowing accomplice,'” according to 13WHAM in Rochester.
According to Gates police, the two suspects were acquaintances who had met only days before the killing.
Police discovered Gervalla’s body after they had been called in for a welfare check. They believe the killing took place some time just after 11 p.m. last Thursday.
According to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, both suspects were clearly pictured on the motel’s security camera. Police believe their motive was to rob the victim.
Gervalla was reportedly a refugee from Kosovo who moved to the United States in 1999. Police said he did not know either of the suspects.
Soble was arrested Saturday afternoon at a trailer in Oswego County, the Democrat and Chronicle reports, and Zuhlke had been apprehended from a home in Rochester by a police task force earlier that morning.
Both were scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing in Gates Town Court Thursday, though no further information was available by press time.