John Waloven, 91, of Fulton passed away Friday, June 26 at Oswego Hospital, Oswego N.Y. He was born in Fulton, N.Y. to the late Dennis and Magda (Yacura) Waloven. Mr. Waloven has remained a lifetime resident of Fulton. He was a United States Veteran having served in the Army from 1943-1945. Mr. Waloven retired in 1986 from Sealright Co., after 43 years of service. He was a lifetime member of the Fulton VFW and a past communicant of Holy Family Church, Fulton. Mr. Waloven enjoyed performing with his accordion for residents of the local nursing homes. He was a past communicant and council member of Our Lady of the Rosary, Hannibal. He and his wife Shirley were avid volunteers and successfully chaired Our Lady of the Rosary Chicken and Biscuit Dinner Committee for several years. They were also longtime communicants of Holy Trinity Church, Fulton and most recently Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Minetto. He is survived by his wife of 36 years, Shirley Waloven of Fulton; three children John Waloven Jr. of Oswego, Gregory Waloven of Hannibal, Christopher Waloven of Hannibal; five stepchildren Michael Elhage of LA., Mark Elhage of Baldwinsville, N.Y., Christine Hunter of Kingston, Ontario, Joanne Weldin of Fulton, Linda Johnson of N.C.; son-in-law Daniel Jurenko; and several grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Mr. Waloven was pre-deceased by his first wife Ann Waloven in 1977; his daughters Patricia Nappi in 1997, and Ann Jurenko in 2010; stepson Gerard Elhage; three siblings Frank Waloven, Michael Waloven and Torra Waloven. Funeral Services were held June 30 at Holy Trinity Church, Fulton with a Mass of Christian Burial celebrated by Rev. James Schultz. Burial was in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Fulton. Calling hours were conducted June 29 at the Sugar Funeral Home, Inc., 224 W. 2nd St. S. Fulton. The family has requested that in lieu of flowers donations may be made to Oswego County Catholic Charities 365 West 1st St. Fulton, NY 13069.
By Colin Hogan
Fulton school officials will be bringing in an outside consultant to assist the district in its study on class size and staffing equity at its four elementary schools.
Last month, the board authorized a study to determine the best approach to confronting an imbalance in enrollment numbers across the elementary schools, which in turn affects class sizes and, potentially, staffing efficiency.
The study will delve into what options the district has for striking a balance among those class sizes, such as a building realignment — which would adjust which grade levels are taught at each elementary school — or by redrawing the catchment areas, which are the boundaries that outline the households that are assigned to a particular school.
However, the board “isn’t just looking to make a big change,” vice president Dan Pawlewicz was quick to point out during discussion on the matter Tuesday. Board members said they want to make sure they’ve considered every aspect of what a building realignment or changing catchment areas would entail before a decision is reached.
“I would really like to take our time in doing this because once we reach a decision there’s no going back,” said board member Christine Plath.
Should the district eventually decide to pursue a realignment, one of the most likely outcomes would be to consolidate grade levels at sister schools (schools that are on the same side of the river). This would likely result in having one school for grades K-3 and one for grades 4-6 on each side of the river.
Board member Barbara Hubbard said pursuing that kind of solution would bring about several changes in the way those buildings and their staffs operate, all of which the board would need to carefully examine.
“If — and this is a big ‘if’ — we went to a primary/intermediate model on each side of the river there are just so many little pieces of the puzzle that we would have to consider to make that happen,” Hubbard said.
Factors like whether certain buildings would have enough kindergarten-sized classrooms, whether buildings have enough primary classrooms that include bathrooms, special area schedules, teachers’ schedules and moving arrangements were just some of the concerns Hubbard raised.
Hubbard also wondered if redrawing the catchment areas could feasibly be done in a way that would ensure enrollment numbers stay balanced in the future.
“If we did change our catchment areas I would be curious to know the number of students that would be involved, and the feasibility of those being able to sustain themselves over time,” Hubbard said.
Both Plath and board President David Cordone have said they are leery of a realignment adding another building-to-building transition in students’ K-12 experience.
“I know one thing, an extra transition is not advantageous for students,” Plath said.
Cordone said he will “making sure that we’re involving the community” in the decision-making process. He said the board would like to establish a Citizens Advisory Committee comprised of parents, staff, students and other community stakeholders to assist in the process.
Board members said Tuesday that they would like to bring in a consultant to help conduct the study. Superintendent Bill Lynch agreed to research possible candidates and provide the board with a list of names from which to choose..
The district plans to conduct the study over the course of the 2015-16 school year.
By Matthew Reitz
Granby officials discussed a proposal for painting and repairs at local cemeteries, the status of an impending water service project, and a plan to evaluate the town’s heavy duty truck fleet at the town meeting last week.
The town received a proposal to repair and paint the fences at Merritt Road, Granby Center and Lewis cemeteries. The work would include repairing the stone wall at Lewis Cemetery and repairing or replacing the steps at Granby Center Cemetery. The cost of the proposed projects is expected to be $1,800 for Granby Center, $1,100 for Lewis and $1,200 for Merritt.
Rhonda Nipper, a cemetery records clerk in the town, said it has been years since the town has done anything with the cemeteries and urged the board to move forward with the projects.
“The town has done nothing with the cemeteries in years,” Nipper said. She said the time has come for the town to do something with the cemeteries and noted that it has money available for the projects.
“Every year we put money in the budget and it never gets done,” Nipper said.
Councilor Eric Clothier said the cemeteries had been in need of repair for some time, but he was apprehensive about moving forward when the board had seen only one proposal regarding the projects.
Councilor Lori Blackburn was concerned that if the board didn’t take action it would be another month closer to winter before the project was authorized. Blackburn made a motion that the town start by approving the work at Granby Center Cemetery and move forward one cemetery at a time. The board unanimously agreed.
The board gave an update on the Water Service Area 6A project, for which the DEC recently posted notice of a complete application. The town is now awaiting a funding letter from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the water service area before it can put the project out for bid. Documents have already been sent to the town from the USDA regarding another anticipated water service area. According to Town Supervisor Ed Williamson, the town will not proceed with Water Service Area 7 until after it has secured funding for the 6A endeavor.
A petition from residents on Lakeshore Road was presented to the board outlining their desire to be added to one of the town’s water districts. The residents requested that water service be expanded to their homes as soon as possible. Williamson said the board would review the petition, but said it would likely be a matter of years before water service could actually be installed along that road.
Some residents also commented on ongoing concerns regarding the gravel mine on county Route 85.
Williamson said he and resident Christine Bassett had delivered letters to residents in the vicinity of the mine who may be having problems with their well water. Williamson said the letters instructed residents on how the county can help them get their wells tested. The letters were in response to concerns over potential contaminants and impurities that arose after some residents noticed discoloration of their water. He told Bassett and the board that the letters were getting people’s attention.
“I know that people are picking the letters out of their mailboxes because they’ve been calling the county already,” Williamson said.
Resident Lynn Lyons also addressed the board about dumping that may be occurring at the mine. Lyons said she recently saw a truck going into the pit filled with road surfacing material. After contacting the state Department of Environmental Conservation, Lyons discovered that a permit had been issued in September 2013 for dumping at the mine site. She asked Williamson if he had been notified and had knowledge of the dumping.
“I wasn’t notified of anything,” Williamson said. “I received nothing.”
The board also unanimously agreed to move forward with an evaluation of the town’s six heavy duty trucks. Williamson said the evaluation would make sure that the town’s trucks were ready for the winter season. The evaluation will cost the town $1,350.
By Colin Hogan
Participants in this year’s Treasure Fulton Parks Medallion Hunt flocked to Rowlee Beach Park off Sharp’s Pond last weekend to celebrate another successful contest.
The contest, which is designed to get local residents more acquainted with the 14 beautiful parks the city offers, gives participants a chance to search for a medallion and other little treasures that have been hidden within those parks, and then redeem their findings for prizes. It is coordinated each year by Friends of Fulton Parks. This year’s event was co-sponsored by The Valley News and Par-K Chrysler Jeep in Fulton.
The headlining item participants hunt for each year is the Friends of Fulton Parks Medallion. Using clues published in the Valley News and Oswego County Advertiser, hunters scour the parks trying to be the first to locate the medallion, which this year came with a $250 shopping spree at local businesses.
This year’s hunt for the medallion lasted only moments after it began on June 24, with 22-year-old Michelle Cavalier of Fulton finding the medallion at eye level on the trunk of a tree in Rowlee Beach Park at around 7 a.m.
She was able to locate it using the first clue, which published only moments earlier on valleynewsonline.com: “’I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree’—Joyce Kilmer. Swing to the left or picnic to the right. Don’t get stumped, choose the right path.”
Cavalier said that was the third place she had looked, after having scoured Foster and Patrick parks that morning. She was able to locate the medallion without the help of the second clue, which was to be published Saturday, June 27 and would have read: “Ducks and fish swim in this park, but people no longer do. Go for the fences… not over them.”
Luckily for everyone else, the event included several other hidden items to find over the following few days, for which FOFP provides various prizes.
Four letter tiles — P, A, R and K, each about the size of a quarter — were hidden throughout the parks. There were no clues for this hunt, but those who found them would each receive a $25 gift card to a local merchant. The tiles were found by Kelly Caza (P), Alan Baker (A), Amanda Hollenback (R) and Jeremy Laws Jr. (K).
The event also included several special stones hidden in a different park each day of the hunt. Clues on which park the stones could be found in were published each day of the event on valleynewsonline.com, with more than 20 winners redeeming them for park prizes last weekend.
Kelley Weaver of Friends of Fulton Parks called this year’s event “a big success” and thanked all those who participated. The event is slated for next year around the same time. See future editions of the Valley News for more information.
Petitions to run on major party lines in November’s election were due last week, providing a first glimpse into how this year’s city, county and town races will look.
Candidates interested in seeking their political party’s nomination are required by New York state election law to gather signatures of 5 percent of enrolled voters of that party in the district in which they will run.
In cases where multiple candidates have filed petitions for the same position under the same party, a primary will be held on Sept. 10 to determine who will represent the party on the ballot in the November general election.
Candidates who wish to still appear on the ballot will have a chance to gather signatures for an independent party line until Aug. 18.
In Oswego County government, District Attorney Gregory S. Oakes faces a challenge this year from West Monroe attorney Michael R. McAndrew.
In the county Legislature, 13 of the 25 districts saw only one person file petitions to seek office.
The district attorney serves for a term of four years and county legislators are re-elected every two years.
In the City of Fulton, Mayor Ron Woodward Sr. has been the only candidate to submit petitions for the upcoming mayoral election.
In the Common Council, multiple candidates filed to run in the Second, Third and Fifth Wards. The First, Fourth and Sixth Wards are all being sought by their incumbents, with no challengers yet appearing.
Below are those who filed petitions in the Valley News subscriber area.
Editor’s note: * indicates incumbents.
City of Fulton
Ronald L. Woodward Sr.*: Republican.
Thomas G. Kenyon*: Conservative.
Ernesto Garcia: Democratic.
David B. Ritchie: Conservative.
Timothy J. Crandell: Republican, Conservative.
Donald R. Patrick Jr.: Democratic.
James R. Myers*: Republican.
Daniel W. Cunningham: Conservative.
Norman J. Foster*: Republican.
Lawrence E. Macner*: Democrat.
Town of Granby
Stephen R. Abraham: Democratic.
Edward A. Williamson*: Republican, Conservative.
Francis S. Doyle III: Republican, Conservative.
Lynn M. Lyons: Democratic.
Melissa J. Fortier: Republican.
Superintendent of Highways
Robert M. Collins: Republican.
Robert M. Phillips Jr. *: Democratic.
Jeffrey L. Richards: Conservative, Independence.
Town of Hannibal
Ronald K. Greenleaf Sr.: Conservative.
Denise J. Hafner: Republican, Conservative.
Margaret L. Shepard: Republican, Conservative.
Mark A. Otis: Conservative.
Richard F. Shoults: Republican.
Gary D. Thompson Jr.: Republican, Conservative.
Superintendent of Highways
George H. Ritchie Sr.: Republican, Independence, Conservative.
Town of Mexico
David J. Anderson*: Republican.
Elizabeth Dishaw*: Republican.
Larry J. Barber: Republican.
Russell B. Patrick: Republican.
Superintendent of Highways
Kenneth W. Dingman: Republican.
Charles E. Fortier*: Republican.
Russell L. Marsden Jr.: Republican.
James L. Gracey: Republican.
Town of Minetto
David J. Domicolo: Republican.
Jennifer A. Allen*: Republican.
Sean P. Haney: Republican
Michael J. Paestella: Republican.
Andrew J. Wallace*: Republican.
Superintendent of Highways
Keith J. Moody: Republican.
Dominick A. Yacco: Republican.
Kenneth G. Auyer*: Republican, Conservative.
Town of Scriba
Kenneth E. Burdick*: Republican.
Kelly M. Lagoe: Conservative.
Kelly A. Rhinehart Harris: Republican.
James E. Sheldon: Republican.
Superintendent of Highways
Michael J. Barry: Democratic, Republican.
Roger S. Myers*: Republican, Conservative, Independence.
Douglas G. Crouse*: Republican.
Town of Volney
Dennis C. Lockwood*: Republican.
Barbara A. MacEwen*: Republican.
Garry L. Stanard: Republican.
Steven S. Wilcox: Conservative.
Edward T. Wavle*: Republican
Superintendent of Highways
Roger A. Dunsmoor*: Republican, Conservative.
Patricia D. Kerfien*: Republican.
Sandra L. Austin*: Republican, Conservative.
Gregory S. Oakes*: Republican, Independence, Conservative.
Michael R. McAndrew: Democratic, Working Families.
Margaret Kastler*: Republican, Independence, Conservative.
Neil J. Cheny: Democratic.
Milferd H. Potter*: Republican, Conservative.
Herbert Yerdon: Democratic.
Shawn Patrick Doyle*: Republican, Conservative.
David M. Holst*: Republican, Conservative.
Roy E. Reehil*: Republican.
John J. Martino*: Republican.
John E. Proud*: Republican.
Daniel L. LeClair*: Republican, Independence, Conservative.
Jay F. Elhage: Republican.
James S. Weatherup*: Republican, Independence
Robert J. Hayes*: Republican, Independence.
Rodney E. Trask: Republican.
Richard Walberger: Democrat:
Linda Lockwood*: Republican, Conservative.
Richard P. Kline*: Democratic, Republican, Conservative.
John W. Brandt: Republican, Independence.
Kevin L. Gardner*: Republican.
Stephen M. Walpole*: Republican, Independence.
Jacob A. Mulcahey*: Democratic.
James B. Scanlon: Republican, Independence, Conservative.
Thomas B. Drumm: Democratic.
Shane E. Broadwell*: Republican, Independence.
Kelvin (Chip) Kio: Republican, Independence.
Heather D. Del Conte: Democratic, Conservative.
Marie C. Schadt*: Democratic, Conservative.
Joseph L. Susino: Republican, Conservative.
Tim M. Stahl: Republican, Independence, Conservative.
Laura J. Brazak: Democratic.
Terry M. Wilbur*: Republican, Independence.
Jack M. Beckwith: Republican, Independence, Conservative.
Joseph C. Blanchard: Democratic, Working Families.
James L. Karasek*: Republican, Independence, Conservative.
James A. Rice: Democratic
Morris Sorbello Jr. *: Republican, Conservative.
*Daniel T. Farfaglia*: Democratic, Conservative.
Peter E. Holmes: Republican, Independence.
Frank Castiglia Jr. *: Democratic, Conservative.
Louella F. LeClair: Republican, Independence.
By Matthew Reitz
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced that maple syrup production in New York state reached its highest level in 70 years, allowing the state to retain its standing as the second-highest producer of fresh maple syrup in America. Local maple producers say they experienced a jump in production, despite a challenging winter.
“Once again, New York’s maple syrup industry is thriving and breaking records in spite of tough conditions,” Cuomo stated in a release.
New York state managed to produce more than 601,000 gallons of syrup from the more than 2.3 million taps across the state this season — the most in recent history. Timothy Whitens, a producer from Willow Creek Farm in Granby, said Cuomo’s announcement was “a pretty good parallel” to his production season.
“I had my best season ever,” Whitens said.
Whitens said he added about 600 taps this year, which also helped boost his production to about 1,025 gallons, up from 890 gallons last year.
Kim Enders of Red Schoolhouse Maple in Palermo said she also had a good season despite the difficult winter. Enders said the number of days she was able to make syrup was reduced due to the weather, but “when the sap did run it ran hard.”
“We had some really good days,” Enders said.
According to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, the amount of maple syrup produced in New York state increased over 10 percent from 2014 and almost 5 percent from the previous modern production record set in 2013. New York state remains the nation’s second-ranked producer of maple syrup, increasing its lead over third-ranked Maine by nearly 50,000 gallons. Vermont remains the nation’s top producing state.
This year’s production was the highest since 1944, which was the last year before the beginning of a long drop-off in the number of tree taps and the yield of syrup per tap in New York. State officials say the resurgence began in 2008 as vacuum pumping systems began to replace the hanging buckets and metal tree taps that had been used in maple syrup farming for centuries.
The New York State Maple Producers Association estimates that 60 percent of maple farms, including most of the larger farms with more than 500 taps, are now using vacuum systems to collect raw sap. The modern vacuum system is easier for producers to maintain, they say, which has helped increase production per tap.
Enders said about half of Oswego County’s producers use the vacuum systems to collect sap, and “there’s no comparison” between the vacuum systems and traditional methods. Whitens, who changed to the vacuum system in 2009, said it “saves a lot of energy and gives a good yield.”
New York’s brutal winter this past year included sustained stretches of low temperatures and heavy snow — conditions that made production particularly difficult, local producers said. As a result of the harsh weather, the USDA estimates that the average maple syrup collecting season in 2015 was just 26 days. By comparison, the previous record from 2014 was reached in an estimated 40-day-long season.
“This was pretty much a four-week season,” Whitens said. He said “the flows were slightly better than last year,” which allowed for a strong harvest, but he typically has a six- to eight-week-long season.
Helen Thomas, executive director of the New York State Maple Producers Association, said the organization was “pleasantly surprised and very pleased” to see a production record come out of such a short, difficult season.
By Diana Cook
It probably won’t come as a surprise to most people that exposure to guns, either through ownership or family proximity and activity, is not a high percentage among women.
In today’s society, with awareness and safety at high focus, surveys show the gender gap apparent. The percentage of men who own a gun is three-times higher than that of women (37 percent to 12 percent), even though quite a few more than that live with someone else who owns a gun.
That doesn’t mean, however, that when presented with the opportunity, women aren’t interested in learning more about the safe and appropriate ways to handle a firearm. That fact is exactly the reason that the Pathfinder Fish and Game Club decided to start something new two years back, organizing an event for women so they could have the chance to take that first step. The third annual Ladies Rule the Range event is scheduled for Saturday, July 25 this year, designed for “ladies who have no idea about shooting,” says Lou Ann Daniels, the event’s chairperson.
Ladies Rule the Range, Daniels explains, is “about empowering women in the shooting sports,” offering hands-on basic instruction for shooting a bow, pistol, shotgun or rifle. The whole day revolves around a variety of both targeted and fun activities, supported by volunteers who makes it their mission to show that “girls can do it too!”
“Any woman can do this,” said Daniels, pointing out that the prior two years brought in women from ages 18 to 80. “We’ve had doctors, lawyers, teachers, nurses, teenagers, grandparents, and moms. We’ve had people in wheelchairs, and with hearing impairments – we have the volunteer instructors to handle any of that”.
While some of the instructors may be male, the whole day is designed to be “just for women” Daniels reinforces. And they do bring out some female volunteers as instructors when possible. Sheila Bray, who is quite familiar with shooting pistol, skeet, and rifle is also a world-class shooter in skeet shooting.
“This is a chance for women to be out there without the guys”, explained Daniels — an element organizers learned has foundation in the reasons why many women have never engaged before.
“Some of these women have never been around shooting at all. Others may have a partner, a parent, or friends who have guns, who shoot, or hunt etc.” she said. “But what they’ve told us is that they are afraid to ask to learn. They are often worried about being embarrassed, or laughed at, or even reprimanded, for not doing it right … our goal is to alleviate all that.”
Of particular importance for women to know, Daniels says, “is that you don’t have to be big and strong to do this. Last year we had a woman who was 80 years old who came because her friend wanted to come. She was tiny! She had never shot and she wanted to learn how to shoot a pistol. And the instructor handled her with such grace.”
Going on to tell a little more of the story, Daniels told how the instructor pointed to a table of pistol firearms and asked this woman which one she wanted to try. “The biggest one!” she told him. After getting her set up with appropriate eye and ear protection, he showed her how to load it, unload it, taught her about the safety, and had her give it a shot.
“The excitement on her face when she hit the target was priceless,” Daniels said. “She was having the time of her life”.
Pathfinder’s organizing committee also brings in a group to set the stage with a little “cowboy/cowgirl action” which is perhaps the “most fun” part of the day, Daniels says. Members of that group are in costume. They wear holstered pistols and have names like Jesse James and Annie Oakley. The setting includes saloon doors to go through, a corral, and a chuck-wagon. They set up targets from the old west; old fry pans, cans and bottles.
“Who knew?” said Daniels “The group competes around the country with this — fascinating sport in itself. Everybody who has come to the event in the past says it’s a premiere part of the whole thing.”
The event also includes a luncheon, sometimes presented with its own twist. Last year Ladies Rule the Range introduced its participants to wild meats — buffalo, bison, elk and ostrich, to name a few. This year the meal plan includes bringing in wild boar from Indiana, a pulled pork option.
“Many women have never tried this food,” Daniels said.
In addition, Pathfinder organizers enlist the support of local restaurants, offering a smorgasbord of items, including things like stuffed manicotti from Canale’s, salads and delicious dessert options.
To make it even more fun, shooting instruction and the variety of activities are accompanied by other girlish interests. There will be a raffle table of basket donations, featuring things like wine and cheese baskets, and other “pamper me” options. All profits from the event go to an annually chosen charity. Last year’s went to a small animal rescue, and this year’s will go to Paws and Effect in Oswego.
“We don’t make anything on this,” Daniels says.
The cost for joining on to the Ladies Rule the Range fun is $25 and includes use of all equipment needed, ammunition, targets and the meal.
Daniels points out that “the club is very generous. They give us the whole day’s use of the club, and offer those who participate a membership through the end of the year to encourage those who want to come back after that one day.”
Once the year ends, there is hope, of course, that women might be intrigued and engaged enough from their recent experiences with the shooting sports to join up as a member.
“Overall, it offers a really good and sustained introduction,” Daniel says.
A registration form can be found on Facebook at “Pathfinder Fish and Game – Ladies Rule the Range” with further information on registration available by calling LouAnn Daniels at 315-343-4734 or by emailing Linda Parry at firstname.lastname@example.org. The club is located at 116 Crescent Road in Fulton.
Daniels is hopeful that Ladies Rule the Range will draw even more women this year than in years past. The first year, she said, the club was “kind of shocked. They really didn’t think it would work.” And even though she set her sites low at about 15 to 20 women, they got 50 – “and we were flabbergasted,” she said. The second year brought in 81 women, and they are hoping to hit the 100 mark this year.
She also doesn’t want people to worry about missing other events that day.
“We are very precise on timing,” said Daniels. “We start at 8 a.m. They will be done by 3:30 to 3:45 p.m. – still plenty of time to go up for the Harborfest Fireworks!”
All in all, Ladies Rule the Range is primarily geared towards fun. With great volunteers who encourage the fledgling interest of a variety of women and keep them going as they learn, “there’s such a sense of accomplishment!” said Daniels. “It’s a very good time. It’s their day to just enjoy being out there — learning and playing outside the box in the comfort of an all-woman’s day.”
Dredging of Granby waters to begin Aug. 1
By Matthew Reitz
The Lake Neatahwanta Reclamation Committee in Granby has recently begun preparations to start dredging at the southern end of the lake next month to begin restoring the once-thriving waterway.
On Friday, crews from Syracuse Utilities were on site at the Knapp Farm on Lakeshore Road to begin excavating the collection pits that will hold the dredged material.
Lake committee chairman Ed Williamson said the committee’s volunteers will “be in the water” to begin dredging by Aug. 1. The dredging efforts aim to clear out sediment and debris that for decades has blocked many of the natural springs that flow into the lake.
Granby’s committee secured the project’s funding last year from a cooperative effort between state Sen. Patty Ritchie and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office. Williamson said last year the town used the money to purchase a machine used for dredging from Geo Form International. The Kansas-based company will be visiting the area this month to train volunteers to operate the machinery.
Next week will mark 27 years since Lake Neatahwanta beaches were fenced off and warning signs were posted to prohibit swimming. On July 21, 1988, the Oswego County Health Department closed North Bay Beach and Stevenson Beach in Recreation Park due to high levels of fecal coliform bacteria and blue green algae.
Bruce Stillman, former director of the Oswego County Health Department’s environmental division, said at the time that shallow water and high temperatures created a natural incubator where the organisms could thrive.
Williamson said the dredging will eventually allow the lake to be stocked with fish and opened up for swimming. He said Granby, of which he is also the town supervisor, would benefit greatly from the lake’s restoration.
“The recreational potential is immense,” Williamson said.
He said the more dredging is able to open up the natural springs, the more the lake temperature will drop. Once the temperature drops, officials believe the algae will start to dissipate, Williamson said.
“Once you can get rid of the blue-green algae people will be able to get in there and swim,” Williamson said.
At the time the beaches were closed, algae had already begun to take hold in the lake. The blue-green algae invasion is a result of high levels of phosphorus, according to a 2009 State of the Environment report from the Oswego County Environmental Management Council. Increased algae can reduce oxygen levels in the water, making it difficult for some native wildlife to survive.
Williamson is optimistic that the algae and bacteria that caused the lake to become unsafe can be overcome, but he stressed that the project would take time and a massive effort from the volunteer committees in both Granby and Fulton.
There is also optimism that recreational opportunities provided by Lake Neatahwanta could bring much-needed tourism revenue into the area. Williamson said in the past people would come from out of town to enjoy fishing, boating and swimming in the lake.
“People came from all over to fish here when I was a kid,” Williamson said.
The lake committee in Fulton, which operates separately from Granby’s, has announced that it plans to begin its dredging season soon, as well. Unlike Granby’s committee, Fulton’s will contract with a professional dredging service, as it did last summer, to work on its portion of the lake.