Category Archives: Other News

New nuclear plants siren system to be tested soon

Sirens in a new public warning system being installed by Exelon Generation and Entergy Nuclear will be ready for testing soon, and residents may hear individual soundings of sirens in the coming weeks.

Full testing of the new sirens will be announced by Exelon Generation when a schedule is established, officials reported. Before that schedule begins, as installation of each siren is completed, the individual sirens will be tested audibly to ensure functionality.

“Residents of the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone may hear sirens sounding as part of the installation testing anytime during the next few weeks,” Dale A. Currier, director of the Oswego County Emergency Management Office, said. “This is a normal part of the installation process.”

The project is a joint effort by Exelon Generation, which operates Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station, and Entergy Nuclear, which owns and operates the James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant, to upgrade the public warning system. It includes replacing 37 existing sirens and installation of two new sirens, as well as battery backup-power in the 10-mile radius around the nuclear power plants.

The system is operated by Exelon Generation and serves both of Oswego County’s nuclear facilities; however, it can also be called upon by county emergency management authorities to provide notification in any type of emergency.

The warning sirens are one of several methods used by county emergency management authorities to provide notification of emergencies. In an emergency, the sirens would be sounded prior to an Emergency Alert System message on broadcast stations participating in the Oswego County Emergency Alert System, which would tell people why the sirens sounded and what they should do.

“The sirens are not a signal to evacuate,” Currier stressed. “People should always consult an EAS station to hear instructions by Oswego County officials on what they should do.”

The new sirens will sound at a volume similar to the old ones. There will be a change to the frequency of testing and details will be shared on these changes. Until the new system is fully tested and approved by federal officials, the existing system will remain in place.

“We appreciate Exelon Generation’s and Entergy Nuclear’s commitment to public health and safety and the investment they’ve made in the new system,” Currier said. “The new sirens will enhance our ability to warn people of an emergency.”

Residents who have questions about the siren activations should call the Oswego County Emergency Management Office at 591-9150.

Purple Heart returns home to Hannibal man

By Nicole Shue

It was a special day for Dan Hunnicutt, a resident of Hannibal, when a certain piece of his personal property was recently returned to him after it went missing for decades. The item was his Purple Heart medal, which he first received in 1968 for his time as a Pathfinder Ranger in the Army Special Forces during the Vietnam War.

Pictured is Dan Hunnicutt of Hannibal donning his decorated uniform from his days as a Pathfinder Ranger in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam war. Photo provided
Pictured is Dan Hunnicutt of Hannibal donning his decorated uniform from his days as a Pathfinder Ranger in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam war.
Photo provided

The medal resurfaced earlier this year when a man in Tigard, Ore. was shoveling in his yard by his deck and found it in the dirt. He brought the worn and tattered medal to Veterans Affairs in Portland, Ore. An executive assistant with the VA, Rachel Hershinow, began searching for the owner. The back of the medal read “Daniel Steifer.”

Hunnicutt’s last name before joining the Army was Steifer, the same surname as his stepfather. After discovering that Steifer was not his biological father, he shed the last name. Hunnicutt was happy to cut ties with the family name. His stepfather had treated him cruelly as a child, so much so that the Army seemed like a place of refuge.

At age 15, Hunnicutt took the Army exam and passed it. Hunnicutt may have fooled the Army, but his deception didn’t get past his mother, who revealed to them her son’s actual age.

On his 17th birthday, Hunnicutt enlisted. He trained for a year at Fort Bragg and Fort Benning before arriving in Vietnam on his 18th birthday. He was an expert in weaponry and hand-to-hand combat.

Hunnicutt spent the next 14 months in the jungle, and witnessed unimaginable violence during the dark of night. It was in the Kien Hoa Province of Vietnam that Hunnicutt’s infantry squadron was ambushed. Hunnicutt and his unit were pinned to the ground, enemy fire whizzing around them.

Amid the chaos, Hunnicutt made the swift decision to stand up and gather scattered ammunition. His upright position made him an easy target, and he was shot at several times. Struck by a bullet, Hunnicutt crawled on his hands and knees, positioning himself close enough to throw a grenade.

The Army citation stated that Hunnicutt’s grenade silenced some enemy fire; enough that the Americans could overrun the field. During the ambush, Hunnicutt was shot in the leg, knee and back of the neck. He was awarded the Purple Heart for his devotion to duty and his extraordinary heroism.

While being treated for the wounds that landed him his Purple Heart, Hunnicutt was sent on another mission, but the fighting still left him with shrapnel in his leg. He was honorably discharged, and moved to Sebastopol, Calif.

“I was a mess when I returned to the states,” said Hunnicutt.

He recalls an incident from that time that lead to his incarceration. He attended a show in uniform, and people seated behind him began throwing popcorn at his head.

“Before the show was over I was at the jail,” said Hunnicutt.

Hunnicutt said his path to the straight and narrow was a long one. He suffered from PTSD and couldn’t understand even his own behavior. He was court ordered to meet with counselors and therapists, but says it wasn’t until he found God that his life began to turn around.

“I was angry back then. I wanted to get even. I found God a few years back and I’ve been able to forgive and put the war and my childhood behind me,” he said.

It was his love for gospel music and Jesus that started his career as a musician. Hunnicutt and his wife Joyce travelled the country for 10 years in a greyhound bus, spreading the word of God and Hunnicutt’s own testimony.

During his tour of the USA, Hunnicutt worked with Point Man International Ministries (PMIM). He visited Rescue Missions from California to Oregon, and jails along the way. PMIM is run by veterans from all conflicts, with a primary focus on mutual support, fellowship and spiritual healing from PTSD.

Hunnicutt’s first prison visit was in Salem, Oregon. He sang songs from Johnny Cash and Elvis to the convicts, and also his own gospel music he had recorded in Nashville under the name “Cross Ties.” Hunnicutt’s wife is also a songwriter, plays the bass and runs sound.

The band now performs under “Christ Ties,” a trio with his son Jason Hunnicutt and musician Jeannie Schmidt. Harmonizing with his son Jason is a real source of pride for Hunnicutt. Jason also shares a criminal past, but has moved forward with his life in a similar way.

Hunnicutt was reunited with his Purple Heart at a ceremony in August.

“Every veteran who came back from Vietnam deserves [a Purple Heart],” said Hunnicutt. “If not physical scars, we all left with emotional ones.”

Hunnicutt is currently mentoring a fellow veteran who also served in Vietnam.

Fulton Honors its Vets

A crowd of community members and local dignitaries sings "The Star-Spangled Banner" during the ceremony.
A crowd of community members and local dignitaries sings “The Star-Spangled Banner” during the Veterans Day  ceremony in Fulton Tuesday.

Scores of Fultonians gathered at the city’s veterans park Tuesday where, beneath a big American flag suspended from the ladder of a firetruck, the community paid tribute to its military veterans.

As the sound of nearby church bells marked the 11th hour of the day, the ceremony began with a prayer by Fr. Moritz Fuchs, a U.S. Army veteran. In his remarks that followed, Fuchs urged everyone to give thanks for those who serve, and their willingness to do so in the name of American ideals.

“As we honor veterans on this day, we remember the armistice that ended World War I, the so-called Great War, that was followed by World War II and the Vietnam War, Korean War and the disasters of Iraq and Afghanistan. A lot of our men and women served with honor in these conflicts. So we today honor them and thank God for their willingness and determination to stand up for the freedoms that are ours in America,” Fuchs said.

Fr. Moritz Fuchs, who served in the U.S. Army, gives the opening prayer at Fulton's Veterans Day ceremony Tuesday.
Fr. Moritz Fuchs, who served in the U.S. Army, gives the opening prayer at Fulton’s Veterans Day ceremony Tuesday.

Fuchs’ remarks were followed by the Pledge of Allegiance led by Jim Weinhold, the Fulton Veterans Council’s 2014 Veteran of the Year, and the singing of the national anthem by Bonnie Fauler.

Several local dignitaries delivered words in the ceremony, including Mayor Ron Woodward Sr., and state Assemblyman Will Barclay, who each stressed the importance of honoring those who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

“Our veterans live the words ‘honor,’ ‘loyalty,’ ‘duty’ and ‘nation’. It is fitting that we take this time to reflect upon those ideals,” Woodward said. “There is no better way to honor these men and women than to try our best to exemplify these characteristics for which they gave their service to their country.”

“We should never forget the sacrifices of our veterans,” said Barclay. “Our nation would not exist if not for the sacrifices of our veterans. Today, more than ever, please take time to thank a vet.”

Garry Visconti of the Fulton Veterans Council, who emceed the event, took a moment during the ceremony to reflect on the life of Harold Blake of Fulton – one of the last living local veterans to have fought in the Battle of the Bulge, who passed away on Nov. 2. Visconti stressed the importance of teaching younger generations to appreciate the sacrifices of men like Blake.

“As I reflect on the loss of (Blake), I have thought about a lot of the seasoned veterans we have who are still alive today, and who have a lot to say about our history. And with all these young children here, we need to get the word to them about the history of this great county — about everything these veterans have done so that these children have the right to live in a free country,” Visconti said. “I think that’s something that’s lost quite a bit here lately, and I think that it’s time for us to start reinstating that with them.”

Garry Visconti of the Fulton Veterans Council shares remarks during the ceremony.
Garry Visconti of the Fulton Veterans Council shares remarks during the ceremony.

In other remarks, veteran Alan DeLine gave Visconti a ray of hope on the subject. DeLine was part of group of about 50 veterans who recently toured elementary schools throughout the county, where children in grades K through 4 sang medleys of patriotic songs from memory – a display he found to be quite impressive.

“They sang about five or so patriotic songs that they had memorized. Now, we’re talking about kindergarten through fourth grade, and they had memorized them,” DeLine said. “So I’m glad to see that our kids here are coming along all right.”

Tuesday’s event also included a ceremonial laying of a wreath in front of the veterans monument as Fauler sang “An Old Irish Blessing;” a three-volley salute by by members of the Futon VFW Honor Guard, followed by the playing of “Taps;” the singing of “God Bless America; remarks by Ray Caprin of the Fulton Elks Lodge; and a closing prayer by Fr. Fuchs.

Members of the Fulton VFW Honor Guard stand at attention during the playing of "Taps."
Members of the Fulton VFW Honor Guard stand at attention during the playing of “Taps.”

Before the ceremony finished, Visconti took a moment to thank those in attendance.

“I really, really, from the bottom of my heart, thank everyone of you in the community for being here to support our veterans. You wouldn’t believe how much this crowd means to me and all the veterans standing here,” Visconti said.

Fulton Veterans Council Director Donna Kestner called the event’s attendance “fabulous,” and thanked all of the community leaders who helped make it possible, including the mayor’s office, the police and fire departments, county legislators, and members of the Fulton VFW, American Legion, Masonic War Veterans and the Marine Corps League.

The event continued with luncheon at the VFW sponsored by the Fulton Veterans Council.

Fulton’s 2015 Veteran of the Year named

By Nicole Shue
The Fulton Veterans Council has named John Young, Commander at the American Legion Post 587, its 2015 Veteran of the Year.
Young grew up in Gouverneur, about two hours north of Fulton. He had six uncles who were WWII veterans, but initially hadn’t given much thought to his own career path. That is, until a friend casually asked him to join the Air Force.

John Young
John Young

“We were at a county fair with our girlfriends and my buddy said hey let’s go sign up for the Air Force, I’ll pick you up in the morning,” Young said.
Young attended college for one year before starting basic training in San Antonio, Texas. From there, he attended a 12-week radar operator school in Mississippi.
Joining “Charlie Crew,” Young was a part of a 40-person team that controlled the border from a radar station in West Germany. At the height of the Cold War, searching the skies made for a highly strenuous job.
Young remembers the day his crew was put on high alert following the shooting of President John F. Kennedy.
“I was in the barracks playing cards when the sirens went off,” said Young. “We grabbed our weapons and headed to the NATO Operations Center.”
Communication during the 1960s was much different than what it is in the military today.

The Fulton Veterans Council has named John Young, who served as a radar operator during the Cold War, as its 2015 Veteran of the Year. Young (right) is pictured with a friend at Langerkopf Radar Station in West Germany during the summer of 1963.
The Fulton Veterans Council has named John Young, who served as a radar operator during the Cold War, as its 2015 Veteran of the Year. Young (right) is pictured with a friend at Langerkopf Radar Station in West Germany during the summer of 1963.

“There were a lot of unknowns,” said Young.
It was a few days before his crew learned the details surrounding the president’s death.
Young returned home after three years in West Germany, and began working for General Motors. He retired from Goulds Pumps Incorporated in Auburn.
Young has held the title of Commander at Post 587 for the past five years. He is also the Service Officer for the Fulton Veterans Council. He is responsible for ordering the flags for the city’s local VFW and American Legion. The flags placed on the grave markers of veterans, laid to rest in Fulton’s seven cemeteries, are also Young’s work.
In his spare time, Young has also given people rides to the VA Medical Center for their appointments, and helped deliver Christmas gifts to the families of hospitalized vets.
Young was surprised at the honor of being nominated Veteran of the Year, having only been a resident of the county for a decade.
“There are a great group of veterans in this city. I wish that more of our community shared in our ceremonies for veterans,” said Young. “There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about that place and those guys.”

Granby residents narrowly pass proposed water district

By just three votes, residents living within the proposed Water Service Area 6A in Granby have chosen to move forward with  the endeavor, which will provide water service to hundreds of homes in the southern end of the town.
Votes were cast Thursday in a special referendum organized by the town and held solely for property owners within the proposed district. The count showed that 159 people voted in favor of the endeavor, while 156 opposed it.
Granby Town Supervisor Ed Williamson said he was pleased to see the matter passed by the voters, but understands that it was a close tally that is bound to leave many disappointed.
“I was very pleased that it passed, though I have a lot of sympathy for those who don’t want water and now have to pay for it,” Williamson said.
Town officials say grant funds could cover up to $750,000 of the estimated $2,859,000 project, but the town will have to borrow the difference with what will likely be a 38-year loan at an anticipated interest rate of 2.75 percent, which is subject to vary.
Williamson said because the project doesn’t create a contiguous district, it is now being called Water Service Area 6A.
Property owners within the service area, whether they are receiving water or not, can expect to pay roughly $490 per year toward the loan repayment as a separate line item on their annual property tax bills. Town officials say that figure is only approximate and subject to change, depending the actual project costs. That amount was estimated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Agency.
Homeowners who choose to hook into the water service will pay a quarterly water bill based on usage. Town officials estimate that the average usage for a family of four would cost about $313 per year, or $78.25 per quarter. Property owners would also need to pay the costs of hooking into the system.
Prior to the vote, Granby officials stressed that the town government stood to gain nothing financially by implementing the water service area.
“Some people think the town is pushing this because its going to make money, but everything that comes in on that line item goes directly toward the loan. It’s illegal for the town to make any money on this,” Town Clerk Janet Ingersoll said.
Williamson said the town will likely put the project out for bid in late March or early April 2015. He said he hopes it won’t take longer than a year or so beyond that time to complete.
“It took about two years for Water District 3 to be complete, but that was many times bigger than this. I’m hoping this can be completed within a year,” Williamson said.

Unofficial results: Eby tops Coleman in family court judge race

Oswego County voters have chosen James K. Eby (R,C,I) to fill the county’s new family court judge seat, according to unofficial results released by the Oswego County Board of Elections.

Eby garnered 16,254 votes (60.05 percent) in Tuesday’s election, topping opponent Lou Anne Rucynski Coleman (D,WF), who received 10,786 (39.85 percent).

None of the tallies released Tuesday include absentee ballots, which board of elections officials said they will begin counting on Nov. 12. Results will then be made official upon certification the first week of December.

Unofficial results: Katko wins U.S. House seat

John Katko (R,C,I) will be the next U.S. Representative for New York’s 24th Congressional District, ousting incumbent Dan Maffei (D,WF) at the polls Tuesday.

The Associated Press called the race in favor of Katko at 11:18 p.m. Tuesday

In Oswego County, Katko won over the electorate by almost a two-to-one margin, taking 10,832 votes (64 percent) over Maffei’s 6,057 (35.78 percent).

Results from the other counties in the district–Onondaga, Cayuga and Wayne–are not yet available.

Unofficial results: Granby chooses Phillips for highway superintendent

Early results show that Robert M. Phillips Jr., who ran on both the Democrat and Republican party lines for Granby Highway Superintendent, won Tuesday’s election over opponent Eric A. Clothier.

Phillips landed a total of 1,016 votes, or 64.43 percent, while Clothier received 558, or 35.38 percent, according to unofficial results released by the Oswego County Board of Elections.