Tag Archives: Paul McKinney


A Little Of This And A Little Of That: September 8, 2012

by Paul McKinney

“Life turns on a dime,” they say. How often do we hear this when we are smacked upside the head with a reality check? It stirs our soul.

We are reminded that life is fragile. In deed, the road traveled is marked by unexpected curves and twists.

Driving is not always a pleasant task as we find ourselves trying to avoid the obvious bumps and unknowingly hitting the unexplainable ruts that mark the way.

Sometimes we take an active part in the game of life, making plans and feeling content when all seems to be going along the way we think it should. Someone said to me once, “If you want to see God laugh, tell him your plans.”

Other times we can’t help but feel like pawns on the game board.

Are we just observers? If so, who is in control?  And why is there a constant vale of the unknown?

I was sitting on the deck sipping my second cup of hazelnut coffee. It had been an emotional five days and I could feel the tension slowly slipping away as I rocked away my sadness.

I was thinking about my Mom and how blessed we were to have her with us all those 94 years.

She raised a wonderful family that now numbered in the 40s, kept active in her community, and was loved dearly by those around her. What a great life she had led.

Suddenly, my neighbor Rich appeared at the side gate. As soon as Millie and Mia saw him, they charged for him, knowing that his fist was full of those yummy dog treats they love so much.

His first words to me were, “Gee, we are so sorry about your Mom. Sheila and I were away and just heard the sad news.”

Just then Sheila joined us on the deck and we started to talk about the last few days.

When I asked how their trip to Boston had gone, the conversation took an unexpected turn as Rich got quiet and lowered his head. It was obvious that both he and Sheila were visibly upset by something.

His voiced cracked as he said quietly, “I want to tell you something, but I don’t know if I can.”

It’s strange how our minds work when someone says these words. I waited then Sheila added, “Yes, this is very hard.”

Rich carefully took out a tissue from his pocket, and after wiping away a few tears, he began to tell their story:

“We were enjoying our leisurely ride home across Route 2 in northern Massachusetts.

“Our journey took us from Cape Ann just north of Boston to Williamstown on the western end of the state.

“Gosh, it was a beautiful sunny day. We had the top down and were taking in the beautiful scenery along the winding road way.

“Suddenly the traffic slowed as cars began to pile up along the road ahead of us. From that point on, the line began a slow crawl. I don’t think we ever reached 20 miles per hour.

“As we inched our way down the winding road, we finally approached a straightaway. We could see the distant lights of a state trooper car leading the procession of cars right behind.”

I said to Sheila, ‘There must have been an accident. I can see an emergency vehicle right behind the trooper car.’

 To read the rest of the column, pick up a copy of the Valley News at our office or at one of several locations throughout the City. For Subscriptions call 598-6397.

A Little Of This And A Little Of That: August 25, 2012

by Paul McKinney

This is about as clear and easy to understand as it can be. The article below is completely neutral, neither anti-Republican or Democrat.

I received this from a friend. Mr. Reese posted it on the internet and asked that it be passed along to the 300,000,000 Americans out there. After 49 years of reporting, this is Mr. Reese’s final article.

Charlie Reese, a retired reporter for the Orlando Sentinel, has hit the nail directly on the head, defining clearly who it is that in the final analysis must assume responsibility for the judgments made that impact each one of us every day.

It’s a short but good read. Worth the time. Worth remembering. The title of the column is “545 vs. 300,000,000” and is written by Charlie Reese:

Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.

Have you ever wondered, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, WHY do we have deficits?

Have you ever wondered, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, WHY do we have inflation and high taxes?

You and I don’t propose a federal budget. The president does.

You and I don’t have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does.

You and I don’t write the tax code. Congress does.

You and I don’t set fiscal policy. Congress does.

You and I don’t control monetary policy. The Federal Reserve Bank does.

One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one president, and nine Supreme Court justices equates to 545 human beings out of the 300 million are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private, central bank.

I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a president to do one cotton-picking thing.

I don’t care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator’s responsibility to determine how he votes.

Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.

What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker, who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits. The President can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it.

To read the rest of the column, subscribe to The Valley News by calling 315-598-6397


A Little Of This And A Little Of That: August 15, 2012

by Paul McKinney

Forty-five years ago this fall, I was working as an office boy for the Palladium-Times in Fulton. The papers would arrive by truck from Oswego and be dumped at the little paper office door on Cayuga Street next to Perkin’s Florist.

My big time responsibility was to count out the papers and put them into neat piles so the paper boys could run in, put them in their canvas bags, and get on their way with deliveries. I graduated from paperboy to office boy after a couple of years. It sure did beat having to go out into those “lake effect” snowstorms during the winter.

One day, Don McCann came into the office. Don was the advertising manager for the Pal-Times. His weekly visit was to talk with Carl Johnson, the Fulton manager and editor. Carl was a great guy to work for. I remember Don as this funny little guy about 5’4 with an infectious laugh. Don was always very professional, well spoken, and very good at his job.

I had attended a couple of plays presented by the Oswego Players and knew that Don was well embedded in the group’s organization. He and I would talk on occasion about the theater since I had been in a couple of plays at Fulton High School.

I remember this one afternoon when Don came in to the office and asked me, “Paul, the Players are in rehearsal for a production of the old English farce, ‘She Stoops to Conquer.’ One of the leads has had to drop out and I thought you might be interested in reading for the part.” I can remember how excited I was to be asked and said, “Yes”, immediately.

Later that night, I traveled down to the little Frances Marion Brown Theater by Fort Ontario and walked onto the stage and into the part. I think they were desperate so I got the roll on the spot. I can tell you now, that I didn’t know the difference between an old English farce and an American tragedy, or stage right and stage left. I just knew that I was in an Oswego Players production and I was thrilled and scared as hell.

Little did I know that this would be one of the best things to happen in my life. Here I am 45 years later and I still love the Oswego Players.

While, I’m not able to participate much any more, I still pay my dues (most of the time) and have wonderful memories of the productions I have been a part of over the years. When I do have the occasion to attend a meeting and sit in that warm cozy place, I feel surrounded by the many friendly “ghosts” that fill the theater.

Many of the present “crew” are new faces to me. Yet even though I do not know them well, we all share a common bond: the love of theater.

When you are a member of Players, you find yourself wearing many hats. You could be painting flats for the set, working the lights in the light bridge or standing at the door ushering folks up those two tiny steps to their seats.

To read the rest of the column, subscribe to The Valley News by calling 315-598-6397


A Little Of This And A Little Of That: August 1, 2012

by Paul McKinney

A number of you have asked me, “What happened with your car insurance case?” Well, in a nutshell, the big guns, the money folks at the insurance agency won! Or did they?

I received a fax response from them, via my attorney, relating a case in which a judge ruled that one has the right to get reimbursed for the actual damages or the amount in diminished value. The claims manager then wrote that since I did not take their low-ball offer…well, let me quote from his letter…

“(The insurance agency) paid to repair his vehicle. No further offers of settlement will be made at this time as our company has complied with its obligations under New York law. As was relayed to Mr. McKinney, our original offer of $3,378.00 to settle this matter is now rescinded as he rejected this offer when we last communicated.”

So, in laymen’s terms, they win and I can go “pound salt.”

I was advised that I could pursue damages through the NYS court system. This would most probably result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in court costs and two to three years of time. And I could still lose.

What would you have done? Right, that’s what I did. But, that’s Oay. I gave it the good fight.

Now, I have another human-interest story to share. And it’s personal. I have written about my Mom in previous articles. Talk about the all mighty dollar undermining personal safety…listen to this one:

On July 23, my mother, Helen Van DeWater, was released from the Oswego Hospital. This was preceded by a nine-day stay dealing with a severe intestinal infection. Mother is 94, in failing health, requires regulated oxygen 24 hours a day, and has recurring dementia. Her physician released her back to Michaud Health Facility recommending comfort care. Can’t get any clearer than that.

It is my understanding that the Oswego Hospital contacted Oswego County Opportunities on the same day to arrange for appropriate medical transportation. The hospital requested that she be transported by Mentor Ambulance in that she:

• Is in a tenuous physical condition,

• Suffers with significant altered mental health,

• Requires regulated oxygen dependence that she cannot maintain herself.

The hospital then contacted Mentor Ambulance to alert them that OCO would be calling to schedule her pick-up. The hospital also requested that OCO confirm the arrival time. OCO failed to call the hospital back.

When the hospital did not receive this confirmation, they again called OCO and were told that Mom would be transported by bus/van and that they needed to stop by Michaud to get her wheel chair and oxygen. OCO was again informed that this was not acceptable because she needed transportation with trained medical personnel.

OCO did not contact the hospital again. Instead, mother was picked up by the OCO driver, placed in her wheel chair and driven by bus/van back to Fulton unattended.

I was at Michaud waiting for her arrival having been told by the hospital that Mentors were transporting her as recommended by her doctor and the hospital.

To read the rest of the column, subscribe to The Valley News by calling 315-598-6397


A Little Of This And A Little Of That: July 28, 2012

by Paul McKinney

It always seemed sunny back then. Was everyday a sunny Sunday? No, not really. Maybe it’s just a made up vision of growing up. If lucky, looking back and remembering is like viewing life with a pair of rose-colored glasses. It really was like that, wasn’t it?

I’m asked all the time, “How do you remember all that stuff you write about?”

“You have such a good memory,” some say.

I laugh in response, “Crazy isn’t it, I can’t keep track of my car keys today. And forget about finding my cell phone in time, before the call goes to message.”

But those images of growing up still linger ever so clear in my mind.

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A Little Of This And A Little Of That: July 5, 2012

by Paul McKinney

As the George M. Cohan song goes…

You’re a grand old flag, You’re a high flying flag, And forever in peace may you wave.

You’re the emblem of the land I love. The home of the free and the brave. Ev’ry heart beats true  ‘neath the Red, White and Blue, Where there’s never a boast or brag. Should auld acquaintance be forgot, Keep your eye on the grand old flag.

July 4, 2012 will celebrate the 236th year as a country and a people. And if pride and tradition prevails, many a house will fly that beautiful symbol of the U.S.A. — the Red, White and Blue.

And in some cities, like our own, tons of folks will start to mark their place along the parade route, waiting in anticipation of the bands, floats, fire engines, and young and old marching proudly down the “main streets” all over our fair country.

We have much to be proud of that’s for sure. Our history as a nation is brimming with generosity, sacrifice, and a human spirit unmatched in the history of human civilization.

As our veterans march by, with heads held high, we must remember the human sacrifice they have paid to keep our country and others around the world free.

Those who have gallantly gone before, served a nation of people in just and unjust wars proudly wearing the uniform of the land and people they swore to protect.

Those who serves us now, do so with a continued honor of tradition and pride and often leave loved ones at home who face the heartache of separation and potential loss.

To read the rest of the column, subscribe to The Valley News by calling 315-598-6397

Paul McKinney

A Little Of This And A Little Of That: June 2, 2012

Paul McKinney

by Paul McKinney

So my damaged car is sitting in the collision parking lot waiting to be repaired. It’s only been two weeks since the accident and the insurance adjuster has finally shown up from the OIC (other insurance company) but has failed to send the estimate of repairs to the collision manager.

And I am on my way up to Syracuse in my rent-a wreck to find out what I can do to get this whole process going.

The collision manager is all apologetic and offers to call the OIC to find out what happened to the written estimate. (At this point I am beginning to wonder if the right hand and left hand even know each other let alone know what each is doing.) The insurance adjuster calls back with a fax copy of his estimate of $8,000 of damages.

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Paul McKinney

A Little Of This And A Little Of That: May 19, 2012

Paul McKinney

by Paul McKinney

It was a beautiful summer day, June 30 around 1:30 in the afternoon.

I was riding home from a visit with my orthopedic doctor, having just had my third in a series of three spinal injections for one of those darn sciatic nerves.

My friend Bill was driving since I couldn’t. As we approached the city limits of Fulton, we had to stop adjacent to the Alliance Church on Route 48. A dumpster was ahead down the road making a regular pick up and there were five cars lined up in back of the dumpster and in front of us.

It was just a minute or two after coming to a dead stop that she came barreling from behind at full speed. Looking in the rearview mirror, Bill said to himself, “She’s not going to stop.”

Without saying a word, he gripped the wheel not knowing what to expect. Instinctively, he knew he had to keep the car in the right lane or we would come head on with the traffic-traveling south or hit the car that sat motionless 200 feet in front of us.

Suddenly, we heard a horrendous sound and felt the thrusting impact from the rear of our car. I remember saying out loud, “Oh no.” Next, we saw a mass of metal flying about 10 feet in the air to the right of our car. My window airbag quickly came down, pinning my right hand to the door rest. The car she was driving landed in the deep ditch along the right side of the road.

I could see her car was in tact, that all of the airbags were deployed, and watched as her little PT Cruiser right itself in the crevice of the drainage ditch.

We slide about 100 feet in a straight line (thanks to Bill’s good driving control) finally coming to a complete stop just short of the car ahead of us.

Suddenly from the On Star system overhead, I heard a voice say, “We have information that you have been in an accident on Route 48 in Oswego County. Does anyone need an ambulance?”

“Oh my gosh, I said to Bill,” that On Star thing really works.” “Oh joy,” he snapped back, “what a way to test it.” By the look on his pasty white face and his beet red knuckles, I figured he was as shocked as I was. And who could blame him.

I told the voice above my head to call for an ambulance, thinking surely, the crash lady, was in need of medical attention. And since we were outside the city limits, to call the New York State Police.

Within minutes both pulled up to the crash scene, where many people had gathered around us as the “rubber neck” crowd passed by. Don’t ya just love people at an accident?

To read the rest of the column, subscribe to The Valley News by calling 315-598-6397