CSEA has filed federal lawsuits against the state Thruway Authority and Canal Corp., charging that last spring’s layoff of union members working at the agencies was unconstitutional.
The suits claim the state violated CSEA-represented employees’ constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom of association, due process and equal protection of the law when it let go CSEA-represented workers while sparing all management employees and political appointees.
“The fact that only union members were targeted proves the layoffs were meant to punish them,” said CSEA president Danny Donohue. “If the layoffs were truly financially necessary, wouldn’t it make sense to get rid of at least one highly paid manager or appointee?”
The CSEA lawsuits quote statements made at a Thruway Authority and Canal Corp. board meeting, held seven days before the layoffs took place, that the agencies were “in solid shape financially” and “doing very well this year.”
The union contends that management used the layoffs to try to unfairly influence the outcome of negotiations by attempting to pressure union representatives to succumb to management demands. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s negotiator, Joseph Bress, is representing the Thruway and Canal management at the bargaining table.
The Safe Haven Museum and Education Center, located in Oswego, has announced that it has been chosen as the host site of the 2014 Jewish Motorcyclists Alliance Ride To Remember.
The Jewish Motorcyclists Alliance is an umbrella organization consisting of 44 clubs worldwide and has over 8,000 members.
Each year, a site is chosen for the annual Ride to Remember to memorialize the victims of the Holocaust and to raise money for organizations that support and promote Holocaust education and awareness.
The Safe Haven Museum and Education Center is dedicated to keeping alive the stories of the 982 refugees from World War II who were allowed into the United States as “guests” of President Franklin D. Roosevelt to escape the horrors of the Holocaust.
These refugees were housed at Fort Ontario in Oswego from August 1944 until February 1946.
“Safe Haven tells a very unique story as this shelter was the only one of its kind in the United States,” said Judy Coe-Rapaport, president of Safe Haven’s board of directors. “We are proud and honored to be chosen by the Jewish Motorcyclists Alliance for this memorable event.”
The Ride to Remember event will take place June 19-21 of 2014. This year, the event took place in Orange County, California and in Toronto, Canada in 2012. In the last nine years, the organization has raised over $400,000 for Holocaust awareness.
In conjunction with the Ride to Remember event, the museum will also be commemorating the 70th reunion of refugees and their families.
It will be the first time some of these people will have visited Oswego since leaving in 1946.
“We want the story told and how nice to celebrate 70 years with survivors and their families who were lucky enough to come to Oswego,” said Betsy Ahrens, president of the Jewish Motorcyclists Alliance.
Seventh grade students at the Fulton Junior High School are exploring the experiences of a world that is much different than their very own.
Through the Expeditionary Learning’s Common Core ELA Curriculum, students read the novel “A Long Walk to Water” by Linda Sue Park and learned about a world that is on the continent of Africa, in the country of South Sudan, and during a time when children as young as six fled their villages and left their parents to escape war and starvation.
Through the novel and related classroom activities and assignments, the students learned about South Sudan during the Second Sudanese Civil War and how individuals, including the nearly 10,000 “Lost Boys of Sudan,” survived challenging environments.
In conjunction with the novel and classroom activities, former Lost Boy Chol Majok was invited to share some of his personal experience with the students during a recent visit.
Majok talked about the ‘Lost Boys’’ struggles to find food and water.
“We grew up with no parents,” he said. “We were parents and doctors to one another. All we had was one another.”
He talked about the importance of having a strong heart and strength and shared messages about the values of hard work, dedication, and perseverance to achieve goals.
Majok was 16 when he came to the United States. He attended Fowler High School and went on to obtain a bachelor’s and a master’s degree.
He works for Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner and shares his story to help others and encourages others to do the same.
“Don’t be afraid to share what you know,” he told the students. “It might help someone go another mile.”
The Village of Mexico captured the title of Oswego County’s best-tasting drinking water in an informal contest held June 13 at the Oswego Farmers’ Market.
Five municipal water districts took part in the 23rd annual contest.
Visitors were invited to taste samples of public drinking water and cast votes for their first and second choices.
Mexico was the winner with 55 points, followed by the Village of Pulaski with 51 points; Richland water district with 37 points; Oswego with 32 points; and Fulton with 26 points.
Mexico’s water will be entered in a regional competition and regional finalists from around the state will compete at the New York State Fair for the state’s best-tasting drinking water.
The village of Mexico won the title of best-tasting drinking water in New York State in 2002 and 1991.
Sixty-seven people voted in the Oswego County contest, which is sponsored by the Environmental Division of the Oswego County Health Department in conjunction with the New York chapter of the American Water Works Association.
The Great Bear Recreation Area near Fulton has been added to the series of self-guided walking tours along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail National Scenic Byway.
The Great Bear Walk, organized by the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Volkssport Association and Friends of Great Bear, is the first of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Walks to be entirely “off-road” as it follows well-marked woodland trails.
Volkssporting in German is “the sport of the people.” The Great Bear Walk joins a series of walks created by the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Volkssport Association along or near the 518-mile Great Lakes Seaway Trail National Scenic Byway, which parallels Lake Erie, the Niagara River, Lake Ontario, and the St. Lawrence River in New York and Pennsylvania.
The walks are family-oriented and targeted to those who enjoy outdoor physical activity in which people of all ages and fitness levels can participate.
The Great Bear Springs area is comprised of over 400 acres in the City of Fulton and Town of Volney.
The name is based on a Native American legend in which a young brave was attacked by a large bear near the springs. The property also contains the historic Oswego Canal guard lock number 2 and towpath that were a part of the original Oswego River Canal.
After completing the walk, participants have the option of purchasing a collectible pin depicting the bear for which the area is named.
“The area has more than eight miles of natural trails over rolling terrain, and is ideal for walking, cycling, cross-country skiing and snow shoeing,” said Richard Drosse, coordinator of the Friends of Great Bear. “The Great Bear Walk was developed with the option of either a 3.1 mile or 6.2 mile route, and is sanctioned by the American Volkssport Association.”
The walk is open to all, and there is no charge except for Volkssporters wishing to earn credit or for those interested in purchasing the pin.
In May, a group of 18 walkers from the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Volkssport Association and the Finger Lakes Volkssport Club met in Fulton to christen the Great Bear Walk.
“The Great Bear Walk makes an excellent addition to the series of Great Lakes Seaway Trail Walks, and we’re confident it will serve as an important means to attract visitors to the region,” Great Lakes Seaway Trail Volkssport Association President Daryl Giles said.
To get started, go to the Riverside Inn located at 930 S. First St. in Fulton and ask for the Great Bear Walk box at the front desk. Walkers can then sign in and pick up the walk directions.
Oswego County also hosts a sanctioned Volkssport walk near Fort Ontario.
The walk is head-quartered at the Quality Inn and Suites, 70 E. First St., Oswego, and commemorates the 1814 British Naval attack on Fort Ontario. The walk can be done in 5 and 10-kilometer routes.
Those seeking more information on the Great Bear and Oswego 1812 walks, and the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Volkssport Association may visit www.seawaytrail.com/volkssport.
James F. Okoniewski, a graduate of Fulton’s G. Ray Bodley High School and SUNY Oswego, feels strongly about two things: his love for his hometown of Fulton and the Oswego County area and his belief that mathematics is a key subject for success in life.
He decided to act on those convictions by establishing a scholarship for students from G. Ray Bodley High School to attend SUNY Oswego and study math.
His gift of $50,000 will endow a scholarship for a Bodley graduate with financial need who majors in mathematics or in education with a concentration in math.
The first scholarship will be awarded for the 2013-14 academic year, and it is renewable, provided the recipient meets certain academic standards.
“I’m trying to counteract the feeling out there that the study of mathematics is not that important,” the 1972 SUNY Oswego graduate said. “Math is clearly important in analyzing any situation.”
He pointed out that if people were better able to analyze the risks versus the return on their investments, it would benefit not just individuals, but the economy as a whole.
It’s a strategy he used to build a successful real estate business by analyzing the value of his property investments.
Now he would like to share his success with students from his hometown school, where his cousin Joseph Sczupac was chair of the math department. Francis Godici was a Bodley math teacher who influenced Okoniewski.
Okoniewski’s roots run deep in Fulton, particularly in its Polish community. He was the youngest president of the city’s Polish Home, a post he held in his teens during the 1960s.
“When I was younger I hung around adults more than kids my own age, so that is when I joined the Polish Home,” he explained.
As a SUNY Oswego student, he took his love for his ancestral homeland one step further and studied one summer in Poland at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University, thanks to encouragement from professor emeritus Joseph Wiecha to apply and win a Kosciuszko Foundation fellowship.
Okoniewski shared his Polish heritage by starting a Polish language affiliation club at the college, holding a book drive to raise money to buy Polish literature for Penfield Library and bringing the first polka band to SUNY Oswego.
He became a DJ at the student radio station WOCR. WRVO station manager Bill Shigley recognized his talent and invited him to go on air at the public radio affiliate.
His other mentors were in the college’s math department, including professors emeriti Richard Orr and John Daly.
Now the influence comes full circle, as Okoniewski reaches out with this scholarship to help students from Fulton succeed at SUNY Oswego, now and for generations to come.
The Oswego County Health Department launched its full-scale mosquito surveillance program for the 2013 season with training sessions the week of May 28 at its field station at Toad Harbor Swamp in the Town of West Monroe.
Participants learned about how mosquitoes are trapped, identified and prepared for testing for diseases such as the Eastern equine encephalitis virus and the West Nile Virus.
“As part of a long-term surveillance program, our staff collects mosquito specimens from a number of trap sites around the county,” said Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang. “This year, we will continue to monitor the same areas that had high mosquito activities last year.”
Two of these locations are the Toad Harbor and Big Bay swamp areas in the town of Hastings, which are often the first places where EEE appears each summer.
Traps are set in and near hardwood swamp areas because they are a perfect breeding ground for the Culiseta melanura mosquito, the main carrier of EEE. Once captured, mosquitoes are identified and grouped by species, gender, and whether or not they have ingested blood.
The collection or “pool” of mosquitoes is then sent to the NYS Department of Health laboratory near Albany for testing that same week and the results are usually received the following week.
The EEE virus is one of the most serious mosquito-borne diseases. It rarely affects humans; however, when it does, the virus can cause a serious infection or even death.
The best defense against the virus is to guard against mosquito bites.
The Oswego County Health Department reminds residents to protect themselves and their families by taking the following precautions:
• Use insect repellent properly. Repellents containing DEET or picaridin are the most effective, but should be used with caution. Read the product label and use according to package instructions.
• Whenever possible, limit outdoor activities in areas where mosquitoes are most active and between dusk and dawn which is the peak mosquito-biting time.
• As weather permits, wear protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts, long pants, shoes and socks.
In addition, people can follow these protection measures to minimize mosquito populations in and around their homes and properties:
• Install or repair all door and window screens.
• Reduce or eliminate all standing water from old tires, pails, recycling containers, flower pots, wheelbarrows, wading pools and pool covers.
• Change the water in birdbaths and horse troughs twice a week.
The recent Health and Science Fair at Fairgrieve Elementary School was packed with student-made projects and health-related activities and information.
Parents and community members turned out to see what budding scientists and researchers at the school have been working on and visit with some of the local community health and wellness organizations in the gymnasium.
Submissions for the science fair covered a plethora of topics and areas of interests.
Participation in the science fair requires students to research and/or develop and test a hypothesis; write a report on their findings; and create an eye-catching display that explains their topic, experiment and/or results.
The Health and Science Fair is coordinated annually by Fairgrieve teacher Sharon LaChut as a way to encourage the students to explore areas of interest, learn new things, and also learn about commitment and follow through.
Each student who completed a project was presented with a certificate of participation along with a scholarly ribbon to recognize their creativity, effort and dedication to learning.