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.
Local writers Craig Abbott and Joe Abbate, co-authors of Craig’s autobiography “Classified Terminally Ill: My Story of Beating the Odds” will be speaking at a Call for Writers kick-off event on Sept.13 at 1 p.m. under the Bullhead Point Pavilion, state Route 3, Fulton. Craig will be discussing his connection to the playground at Hulett Park, known as the “C.V. Abbott Memorial Playground,” named after him when he was a baby and not expected to survive. The book chronicles Craig’s life from his birth to the present day as an author and public speaker. As an infant he was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type-1 and was anticipated to die before the age of two. He is now in his mid-20s.
The Friends of Fulton Parks is hosting this Call for Writers to author a portion of their upcoming book about Fulton’s city parks. The book will be filled with stories including that of C.V. Abbott, as well as residents’ answers to the question “Why are parks important?”
Editor Jim Farfaglia explains the purpose of the book.
“Just like where we went to school or worked or gathered in faith, our city parks were a part of our growing up. Gathering people’s stories about playing at a neighborhood park, working for the city in summer recreation programs and volunteering to keep the parks looking beautiful helps Fulton continue to be a great place to live,” Farfaglia said.
“We are writing a book celebrating the parks in the past and present, to revitalize them for the future,” said Friends of Fulton Parks board member Kelley Weaver.
Anthony Bellardino, 94, of Oswego died Friday at his home peacefully surrounded by his family. He was born in Oswego the son of the late Luigi and Aniela (Wieliezko) Bellardino. Mr. Bellardino retired in 1980 from the New York Railroads, having worked for NY Central, Conrail, and Penn Central as a conductor and yard foreman for 42 years. He served in the United States Navy from 1943 until 1945 during WWII. Mr. Bellardino was a communicant of St. Joseph Church, St. Joseph Golden Age, Oswego Senior Citizen Group, the Polish Legion of American Veterans, Conservation Corp in Idaho and Selkirk, N.Y. He was very proud of the fact that he built a camp in the town of Orwell with his wife, and their five children.
Mr. Bellardino was predeceased by his wife Mary Meade Bellardino; sons-in-law Ernest Chiarella, Alfred Schwankl; grandson Joey Fenske; granddaughter-in-law Natalie Schwankl; and his sisters Helen Castiglia, Philomena Proppe, and Louise Ardiuni. He is survived by his children Steven (Sam) Bellardino of Boston, Anthony (Donna) Bellardino of New Haven, Antionette Chiarella of Minetto, Christine Schanwkl of Pa., Lorraine (Charles) Fenske of Oswego; sisters Janette Mulcahey of Minetto, Susie (Frank) Fox of Granby, Mary Tremack of Oswego, Nellie Roach of S.D.; 12 grandchildren Lisa (Andrew), Gary (Nicole), Mary Beth (Sean), Christopher, Lisa (Randy) Charles, Travis (Heather), Steward (Melissa), Clinton, Anthony, Alexander, and Angela; 21 great-grandchildren; three great-great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews. Funeral services will be Friday Sept. 12 at 9 a.m. in St. Joseph Church. Burial will be in Minetto Cemetery. Calling hours will be Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Sugar & Scanlon Funeral Home, 147 W. Fourth St., Oswego. Family requests in lieu of flowers contributions may be made to friends of Oswego County Hospice.
The rehabilitation of the Broadway Bridge in Fulton should be wrapping up by the end of September, according to the state Department of Transportation
The estimated $12.2 million project, which began a little more than two years ago, was originally expected to be finished by the end of 2013. Transportation department officials say once it’s complete, the rehabilitated bridge, coupled with improvements made to the intersection of state routes 3 and 481 in 2012, will ensure an easy flow of traffic through the city for years to come.
On Friday, DOT spokesperson Gene Cilento said construction should be done by Sept. 30.
The project has entailed replacing the bridge’s entire super-structure, including the steel support beams and concrete deck. Significant repairs its sub-structure, such as the concrete piers and abutments, have also been made. Other parts of the project include the replacement of the short arch span on the bridge’s west side with a pre-cast box unit, new curbing and sidewalks, and a new decorative railing.
When the work is complete, the rehabilitated bridge will consist of two 12-foot travel lanes with two-foot shoulders in each direction, and six-foot-wide sidewalks on each side.
Work still to be done, as of Friday, included curbing and sidewalk installations on the south side of the bridge and the approaches; paving; painting road markings; the removal of the temporary walkways; setting and cleaning the drainage structures; and laying topsoil and grass seed on the embankments and roadside, Cilento said.
According to the DOT, the cost of the project remains mostly on-budget, totaling $12,273,371.
The State Street United Methodist Church in Fulton will be receiving some additional funds to help replace its roof and repair one of its bell towers thanks to the New York Landmarks Conservancy.
The conservancy announced last week that the church will be one of 22 across the state to receive the latest round of Sacred Sites Grants, which are awarded exclusively to historic religious properties.
“Religious institutions anchor their communities,” Peg Breen, president of the New York Landmarks Conservancy stated in a release on the grant. “They remind us of our history and provide vital social service and cultural programs today.”
The conservancy awarded State Street UMC the Robert W. Wilson Sacred Sites Challenge Grant of $35,000 to go toward the roof and towers project. This marks the second Sacred Sites Grant the church has received for the project, after being awarded another for $2,250 last spring.
The roof and tower project was born out of a three-year $250,000 capital campaign church officials launched around a year-and-a-half ago. In addition to the roof and towers, the campaign aims to raise funds for things like brick work and repairs to stained glass windows. Lately, though, church officials have found there is more urgency in getting the roof repaired.
“The one bell tower has rotten wood around the windows. It’s imperative that it be repaired. It doesn’t have to be replaced, only repaired. The roof is bad, too. Shingles are being blow off in every wind that we have,” said Barbara Camic, who helps coordinate the campaign. “Last fall, we repaired some leaks for emergency reasons, but there’s still a lot to do.”
Church officials estimate the roof and tower project on its own will cost around $190,000. This week, contractors will be returning bids that will give a more certain figure, Camic said. Of the $190,000, she estimates $70,000 would have to go toward the bell tower. The goal, Camic says, is for the church to line up a contractor quickly and have that work completed by winter.
Raising the money to cover the roof and tower project remains an ongoing effort. The capital campaign kicked off as a private effort among the church and members of its congregation. Camic said parishioners have been making pledges and donations since it all started a year-and-a-half ago. In May, however, church officials went public with the campaign, asking local officials to help publicize the endeavor, and hosting fundraisers to benefit the roof fund.
“State Street has a long history here and has been a pivotal place in this community,” Camic said. “We feel an obligation to fight for this not just for us, but for the community itself.”
Completed in 1894, the church has served a number of roles to the community over the years, Camic said. It was the first to launch a soup kitchen, which has since been taken over by the Salvation Army. In 1918, when a devastating flu epidemic struck the area, leaving the hospitals overwhelmed, State Street UMC opened its doors and began offering beds.
So far, between contributions from the congregation, local fundraising efforts and grant funds, a little more than half of what is needed to get the roof repaired has been raised. But a lot more help is needed, Camic said.
Upcoming roof fund benefits include a hair cutting/bake sale event Thursday beginning at 3 p.m., and a barbecue chicken fundraiser on Sept. 7. beginning at noon. Both events will be held at the church, 357 State St., Fulton.