Police: Brawl led to July hit-and-run, multiple arrests made

By Matthew Reitz

Fulton police recently charged four people following their investigation of a hit-and-run incident outside of Shotz bar in July.
Police say Michael A. Kessler, 24, of Fulton, Marquis D. Andrews, 23, of Fulton, Kevin L. Waugh Jr., 24, of Fulton, and Bryan M. Whelan, 46, of Pennellville, had all assaulted Michael K. Stafford III outside the bar around 2 a.m. on the morning of July 31.
Following the alleged assault, Stafford reportedly got into his 2011 Kia and recklessly drove the vehicle into a group of eight people standing on the sidewalk in front of the building.
Stafford reportedly struck and injured three people with the Kia — including two of the men who allegedly assaulted him, along with one bystander — before fleeing the scene of the incident.
A lengthy investigation began with police executing a search warrant at the bar and seizing video of the incident.
The video evidence led police to Stafford, who admitted to being involved in the incident, according to police.
Police said interviews with Stafford and other patrons of the bar led investigators to witnesses, and ultimately the arrests of Kessler, Andrews, Waugh and Whelan.
Stafford, 30, of Fulton, has been charged with class D felony counts of second-degree assault, third-degree criminal possession of a weapon and eight counts of first-degree reckless endangerment.
According to police, an arrest warrant has been issued for Stafford, who is currently incarcerated at the Willard Correctional Facility in Seneca County for a parole violation.
Kessler, Whelan and Waugh have been arrested and charged with one count of third-degree assault, a misdemeanor.
Police said the three men intentionally engaged in the physical altercation. They said Waugh initiated the fight by rushing Stafford and pushing him to the ground.
Police say Kessler, Andrews, Waugh and Whelan then punched and kicked Stafford causing facial swelling, bruising to the left eye, and a loss of consciousness.
Whelan was additionally charged with one count of second-degree strangulation, a class D felony, for allegedly choking Stafford during the fight and causing him to lose consciousness.
The motor vehicle incident following the alleged assault caused injuries to Kessler, Whelan, and Cindy Coe, 45, of Baldwinsville.
Kessler was treated for fractured vertebrae, and Whelan and Coe suffered minor bruising and abrasions.
A criminal summons has been issued for Andrews, who remains at large. Kessler, Whelan and Waugh were arraigned by Judge David Hawthorne and released on their own recognizance.

Update: Power restored to most Fulton area households

FullPolePolice: Drugged driver crashed into pole, caused outages


macdonald mug
Nathen A. MacDonald

A Granby man is facing charges after he allegedly crashed his truck into a utility pole Sunday morning, causing a transformer to explode and resulting in power outages throughout the city.
According to police, 29-year-old Nathen A. MacDonald, of Granby, was driving with his ability impaired by drugs when his vehicle crashed into a utility pole on W. Third Street, between Curtis and Cedar streets, around 11:15 a.m.
Eyewitnesses said they saw MacDonald’s pickup truck heading southbound on W. Third Street when it crossed the oncoming lane and struck the pole, which was on the other side of the road. The crash then caused a transformer about 200 feet down the road to blow, resulting in power outages throughout the area lasting well into the afternoon.
One National Grid official estimated “about a quarter” of the city had lost power as a result of that incident. That outage also left some of Fulton’s traffic lights out of order, including the intersection of Broadway and W. First Street, where police were directing traffic for hours after the crash.
Power had mostly been restored to the households affected by the blown transformer when, around 7 p.m., another transformer on W. Fifth Street overheated and blew, causing a utility pole to catch fire and another wave of power outages. National Grid said the second transformer blowing came as a result of work being done on the first transformer.
The Fulton Fire Department responded to the burning utility pole, which took about an hour to extinguish.
National Grid said about 2,500 Fulton area residents went without power through the evening Sunday and into Monday morning. As of 9:30 a.m. Monday, over 90 customers were still without power, according to National Grid’s outage map.
The incident also caused several households’ electric meters to fail. National Grid was working to the replace those Sunday.
MacDonald was charged with driving with ability impaired by drugs (misdemeanor), aggravated unlicensed operation 3rd degree (misdemeanor), criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th (misdemeanor) and failure to keep right.
He was released on pre-arraignment bail set by the police department. He is scheduled to be arraigned in Fulton City Court on Sept. 24.


An earlier version of this report contained misleading information about Macdonald’s arraignment. A press release provided by the Fulton Police Department Sunday stated that MacDonald had been “released on bail and is due back in Fulton City Court on Sept. 24.” Court officials have since clarified that MacDonald had not appeared in Fulton City Court Sunday, but was released on a pre-arraignment bail set by the police department. He was not arraigned Sunday, as was reported in the newspaper. His appearance on Sept. 24 will be the first time he appears before a judge for these charges. 

Fulton Veterans Council holding 9/11 remembrance ceremony

On Friday, Sept.18, the Fulton Veterans Council will hold its POW/MIA 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony at 6:30 p.m. in the Fulton Veterans' Park across the street from city hall. The council invites the public to come honor those who lost their lives in the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the United States, as well as those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the protection of our country. Coffee and donuts will be served in the community room at city hall following the ceremony.
On Friday, Sept.18, the Fulton Veterans Council will hold its POW/MIA 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony at 6:30 p.m. in the Fulton Veterans’ Park across the street from city hall. The council invites the public to come honor those who lost their lives in the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the United States, as well as those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the protection of our country. Coffee and donuts will be served in the community room at city hall following the ceremony.

Lynch to continue progress on curriculum, technology in final year

By Colin Hogan

Students returned to school last week to kick off the 2015-16 year, which will mark the final term for Superintendent Bill Lynch, who is retiring this coming summer.

“We had a great opening of school last week,” Lynch said. “Everyone was on task and working hard. It was really great to see all the kids come back in ready to start another year. I have a true appreciation of all the parents for all they do to make that first day back a positive experience for everyone.”

This year, Lynch — who has been serving in his position for more than a decade — will turn 62. He said he had planned on retiring at that age for a long time. However, having spent the vast majority of his career in Fulton, he said the transition into retirement is bound to be a bittersweet experience.

“I’ve had such a long connection with the Fulton community. Working in this district and with the families of this community, I feel very privileged to have worked in such a supportive and caring place,” Lynch said.

He began his career as one of the district’s school psychologists in 1980. A few years later, he would do a brief stint in the Batavia school district before returning to Fulton to work for Oswego County BOCES from 1985-1992.

“Even when I worked for BOCES, I was working with the western half of the county and my office was here in the (Fulton) Education Center, so I’ve been here in Fulton for almost all of my career,” Lynch said.

He then served as the principal at Granby Elementary from 1992-1997 before becoming the district’s executive director of instruction and assessment. Then in 2005, after eight years in that position, he was appointed by the Board of Education to take over as superintendent.

As the final year of his career pans out, Lynch said he plans to continue making progress on things like Common Core implementation, the incorporation of technology that supports the curriculum, and staff development — three initiatives he said have been among his priorities in recent years.

He said finances continue to be a challenge for low-wealth communities like Fulton, but the district is still making great strides in getting its students ready for whatever step they may take after graduation, whether it’s higher education, military service or the workforce.

“I certainly plan to do everything I can possibly do to make sure the district is in the greatest shape possible for whoever the board selects (to be the next superintendent),” Lynch said.

Earlier this month, the Board of Education hired a consultant to help guide the district though the process of finding Lynch’s successor. The board also put together a survey it hopes district residents will utilize to offer input for the search.

The survey is currently posted on the district’s website, where it will remain available until Sept. 23. For those without internet access, the board will provide hard copies of the survey at each school’s open house this fall. Board President David Cordone said at least one board member will be present at each open house to hear input and help residents fill out the survey.

“We’re encouraging people to use the online survey, but we do want to include everyone’s input and we know there are some people in the district who might not be able to access the website,” Cordone said. “We felt it was important that we have something for those who don’t have internet access, so those people can attend any open house and we will have a board member present with a paper copy.”

Cordone said the board hopes to announce Lynch’s successor in early 2016. Lynch said he plans to do everything he can to ensure a smooth transition to the new leader. Harkening back the lessons he learned as runner in high school, he said he plans to “end the race 10 yards past the finish line.”

Charbonneau honored as Lions celebrate 25th Duck Derby

About 1,000 rubber ducks float to the finish line Sunday during the Fulton Lions Club’s 25th annual Duck Derby. This year, the club officially renamed the event the Charby Duck Derby in honor of its founder and longtime Lions club member, Donald “Charby” Charbonneau.  Matthew Reitz photo
About 1,000 rubber ducks float to the finish line Sunday during the Fulton Lions Club’s 25th annual Duck Derby. This year, the club officially renamed the event the Charby Duck Derby in honor of its founder and longtime Lions club member, Donald “Charby” Charbonneau.
Matthew Reitz photo
By Matthew Reitz

The Fulton Lions Club hosted its 25th annual Duck Derby over the weekend on the Oswego River, and renamed the event Charby’s Duck Derby in honor of Donald “Charby” Charbonneau.

“The one big thing we did this year was rename it after our dear friend,” event chairman Zachary Merry said.

Charbonneau founded and organized the very first Duck Derby over 25 years ago, and his name will now be attached to the event. Fulton Lions Club President Paul Foster called Charbonneau “a shining light” for the club and said he “possessed a wonderful sense of humor.” Both Foster and Merry said the renaming of the Duck Derby was a way to pay respect to Charbonneau, a “longtime Lion” and former president of the club.

The rain held out long enough for the derby to take place uninterrupted, and community members gathered to spend the afternoon enjoying food, entertainment, raffles and the main event. Each year, traditionally the weekend after Labor Day, participants gather to cheer on their rubber ducks as they race down the canal. The ducks that reach the finish line the fastest, as well as the last-place finisher, earn cash prizes.

Over 1,000 rubber ducks were part of the derby this year, and Merry estimates the event raised “just under $10,000.” He said all proceeds from this year’s event will go toward the club’s sight and hearing projects, local scholarships, and other fundraisers and efforts throughout the year. The Fulton Lions Club actively works to help local people with vision or hearing impairments by providing financial assistance for things like eyeglasses, eye exams and hearing aids.

Local sponsors provided the 23 cash prizes for the duck race, along with entertainment, t-shirts, door prizes and approximately 50 raffles, which included gift certificates to local businesses and scratch-off lottery tickets

The Fulton Medicine Place was the main sponsor for the event, and provided the $2,525 grand prize for the duck race won by Mary West. Software Development Services – http://www.bellintegrator.com/en/services-software.html

The event took place in Canal Park near Lock #3 behind Tavern on the Lock restaurant. The Fabulous Ripcords provided entertainment throughout the day. Children’s activities were added this year to make the event more family-friendly, including face painting and a pick-a-duck station.

“It was a nice community event where people came together to help out the community,” Merry said.

Howard “Boomer” Thompson

Howard “Boomer” Thompson, 66, of Ira passed away suddenly on Sunday, September 6 while on vacation in Florida. A native of Granby, he was a life resident of the Ira area. Boomer retired in March from Jerome Fire Equipment Co. in Clay after 35 years. He was a longtime member and former chief of the Ira Volunteer Fire Department. Boomer was an avid hunter, fisherman and he enjoyed boating. He was predeceased by his father, Howard W. Thompson, a brother, Gerald Thompson, and a daughter-in-law, Cindy Thompson. Surviving are his wife of 45 years, Kathy Thompson; their children, David Thompson, Jodi (James) Garrity and Becky (Jeremy) Guernsey; grandchildren, Ashley, Jordan, Kathryn, Melinda and Kyle; his mother, Ruth Thompson; brothers and sisters, John (Kelly) Thompson, Mary VanLare (Darren Terpening), Cindy (David) Crockford, Ruth (Ed) McCarty, Beverly (David) Hoyt, Betty (Nelson) Parsons, Helen Fisher and Brenda Thompson; many nieces, nephews and cousins. Graveside services will be held 10 a.m. on Saturday, September 19 at Ira Union (White) Cemetery, White Cemetery Road in Ira. There are no calling hours. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the American Heart Association, PO Box 417005, Boston, MA 02241-7005. Foster Funeral Home in Fulton has care of the arrangements.

David R. Birdsell Sr.

Birdsell, David R. Sr.David R. Birdsell Sr., 60, of Palermo, passed away Thursday. Born in Fulton, he was a life resident of the Palermo area. Dave was employed at General Electric in Syracuse as an electrical engineer for many years. He had previously been employed at Nestle Company and Coastal Cogeneration, both in Fulton. He was a member of the Gamma Theta Gamma fraternity at Alfred State University and had previously served as the secretary for the fraternity Board of Directors and as the Palermo Town Justice. Dave enjoyed tinkering with electronics and his John Deere tractor, and also golfing and long walks in the woods, where he would find fossils and various artifacts. He was predeceased by his father, Reuben Birdsell who died in 2004; his maternal grandparents, Nellie and Rance Raymond; and by an uncle, George Birdsell. He will be greatly missed by his wife of 36 years, Sandra Birdsell of Palermo; a son, David Birdsell Jr. of North Rose; two granddaughters, Sara and Mackenzie Birdsell; a grandson, Maverick Birdsell; mother, Marion Birdsell; two sisters, Linda (C. Hadwin) Fravor of Mexico and Brenda (John) Fietz of Liverpool; a brother, Dennis (Marsha) Birdsell of Volney; and several nieces and nephews. A funeral service will be 10 a.m. today at Foster Funeral Home, 910 Fay Street, Fulton. Calling hours were Tuesday at the funeral home. Burial will be at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery. Contributions may be made to the Epilepsy Foundation of Rochester, Epilepsy-Pralid, Inc., 2 Townline Circle, Rochester, NY 14623 or the American Cancer Society, 6725 Lyons Street, East Syracuse, NY 13057

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