Fulton Honors its Vets

A crowd of community members and local dignitaries sings "The Star-Spangled Banner" during the ceremony.
A crowd of community members and local dignitaries sings “The Star-Spangled Banner” during the Veterans Day  ceremony in Fulton Tuesday.

Scores of Fultonians gathered at the city’s veterans park Tuesday where, beneath a big American flag suspended from the ladder of a firetruck, the community paid tribute to its military veterans.

As the sound of nearby church bells marked the 11th hour of the day, the ceremony began with a prayer by Fr. Moritz Fuchs, a U.S. Army veteran. In his remarks that followed, Fuchs urged everyone to give thanks for those who serve, and their willingness to do so in the name of American ideals.

“As we honor veterans on this day, we remember the armistice that ended World War I, the so-called Great War, that was followed by World War II and the Vietnam War, Korean War and the disasters of Iraq and Afghanistan. A lot of our men and women served with honor in these conflicts. So we today honor them and thank God for their willingness and determination to stand up for the freedoms that are ours in America,” Fuchs said.

Fr. Moritz Fuchs, who served in the U.S. Army, gives the opening prayer at Fulton's Veterans Day ceremony Tuesday.
Fr. Moritz Fuchs, who served in the U.S. Army, gives the opening prayer at Fulton’s Veterans Day ceremony Tuesday.

Fuchs’ remarks were followed by the Pledge of Allegiance led by Jim Weinhold, the Fulton Veterans Council’s 2014 Veteran of the Year, and the singing of the national anthem by Bonnie Fauler.

Several local dignitaries delivered words in the ceremony, including Mayor Ron Woodward Sr., and state Assemblyman Will Barclay, who each stressed the importance of honoring those who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

“Our veterans live the words ‘honor,’ ‘loyalty,’ ‘duty’ and ‘nation’. It is fitting that we take this time to reflect upon those ideals,” Woodward said. “There is no better way to honor these men and women than to try our best to exemplify these characteristics for which they gave their service to their country.”

“We should never forget the sacrifices of our veterans,” said Barclay. “Our nation would not exist if not for the sacrifices of our veterans. Today, more than ever, please take time to thank a vet.”

Garry Visconti of the Fulton Veterans Council, who emceed the event, took a moment during the ceremony to reflect on the life of Harold Blake of Fulton – one of the last living local veterans to have fought in the Battle of the Bulge, who passed away on Nov. 2. Visconti stressed the importance of teaching younger generations to appreciate the sacrifices of men like Blake.

“As I reflect on the loss of (Blake), I have thought about a lot of the seasoned veterans we have who are still alive today, and who have a lot to say about our history. And with all these young children here, we need to get the word to them about the history of this great county — about everything these veterans have done so that these children have the right to live in a free country,” Visconti said. “I think that’s something that’s lost quite a bit here lately, and I think that it’s time for us to start reinstating that with them.”

Garry Visconti of the Fulton Veterans Council shares remarks during the ceremony.
Garry Visconti of the Fulton Veterans Council shares remarks during the ceremony.

In other remarks, veteran Alan DeLine gave Visconti a ray of hope on the subject. DeLine was part of group of about 50 veterans who recently toured elementary schools throughout the county, where children in grades K through 4 sang medleys of patriotic songs from memory – a display he found to be quite impressive.

“They sang about five or so patriotic songs that they had memorized. Now, we’re talking about kindergarten through fourth grade, and they had memorized them,” DeLine said. “So I’m glad to see that our kids here are coming along all right.”

Tuesday’s event also included a ceremonial laying of a wreath in front of the veterans monument as Fauler sang “An Old Irish Blessing;” a three-volley salute by by members of the Futon VFW Honor Guard, followed by the playing of “Taps;” the singing of “God Bless America; remarks by Ray Caprin of the Fulton Elks Lodge; and a closing prayer by Fr. Fuchs.

Members of the Fulton VFW Honor Guard stand at attention during the playing of "Taps."
Members of the Fulton VFW Honor Guard stand at attention during the playing of “Taps.”

Before the ceremony finished, Visconti took a moment to thank those in attendance.

“I really, really, from the bottom of my heart, thank everyone of you in the community for being here to support our veterans. You wouldn’t believe how much this crowd means to me and all the veterans standing here,” Visconti said.

Fulton Veterans Council Director Donna Kestner called the event’s attendance “fabulous,” and thanked all of the community leaders who helped make it possible, including the mayor’s office, the police and fire departments, county legislators, and members of the Fulton VFW, American Legion, Masonic War Veterans and the Marine Corps League.

The event continued with luncheon at the VFW sponsored by the Fulton Veterans Council.

Fulton’s 2015 Veteran of the Year named

By Nicole Shue
The Fulton Veterans Council has named John Young, Commander at the American Legion Post 587, its 2015 Veteran of the Year.
Young grew up in Gouverneur, about two hours north of Fulton. He had six uncles who were WWII veterans, but initially hadn’t given much thought to his own career path. That is, until a friend casually asked him to join the Air Force.

John Young
John Young

“We were at a county fair with our girlfriends and my buddy said hey let’s go sign up for the Air Force, I’ll pick you up in the morning,” Young said.
Young attended college for one year before starting basic training in San Antonio, Texas. From there, he attended a 12-week radar operator school in Mississippi.
Joining “Charlie Crew,” Young was a part of a 40-person team that controlled the border from a radar station in West Germany. At the height of the Cold War, searching the skies made for a highly strenuous job.
Young remembers the day his crew was put on high alert following the shooting of President John F. Kennedy.
“I was in the barracks playing cards when the sirens went off,” said Young. “We grabbed our weapons and headed to the NATO Operations Center.”
Communication during the 1960s was much different than what it is in the military today.

The Fulton Veterans Council has named John Young, who served as a radar operator during the Cold War, as its 2015 Veteran of the Year. Young (right) is pictured with a friend at Langerkopf Radar Station in West Germany during the summer of 1963.
The Fulton Veterans Council has named John Young, who served as a radar operator during the Cold War, as its 2015 Veteran of the Year. Young (right) is pictured with a friend at Langerkopf Radar Station in West Germany during the summer of 1963.

“There were a lot of unknowns,” said Young.
It was a few days before his crew learned the details surrounding the president’s death.
Young returned home after three years in West Germany, and began working for General Motors. He retired from Goulds Pumps Incorporated in Auburn.
Young has held the title of Commander at Post 587 for the past five years. He is also the Service Officer for the Fulton Veterans Council. He is responsible for ordering the flags for the city’s local VFW and American Legion. The flags placed on the grave markers of veterans, laid to rest in Fulton’s seven cemeteries, are also Young’s work.
In his spare time, Young has also given people rides to the VA Medical Center for their appointments, and helped deliver Christmas gifts to the families of hospitalized vets.
Young was surprised at the honor of being nominated Veteran of the Year, having only been a resident of the county for a decade.
“There are a great group of veterans in this city. I wish that more of our community shared in our ceremonies for veterans,” said Young. “There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about that place and those guys.”

Granby residents narrowly pass proposed water district

By just three votes, residents living within the proposed Water Service Area 6A in Granby have chosen to move forward with  the endeavor, which will provide water service to hundreds of homes in the southern end of the town.
Votes were cast Thursday in a special referendum organized by the town and held solely for property owners within the proposed district. The count showed that 159 people voted in favor of the endeavor, while 156 opposed it.
Granby Town Supervisor Ed Williamson said he was pleased to see the matter passed by the voters, but understands that it was a close tally that is bound to leave many disappointed.
“I was very pleased that it passed, though I have a lot of sympathy for those who don’t want water and now have to pay for it,” Williamson said.
Town officials say grant funds could cover up to $750,000 of the estimated $2,859,000 project, but the town will have to borrow the difference with what will likely be a 38-year loan at an anticipated interest rate of 2.75 percent, which is subject to vary.
Williamson said because the project doesn’t create a contiguous district, it is now being called Water Service Area 6A.
Property owners within the service area, whether they are receiving water or not, can expect to pay roughly $490 per year toward the loan repayment as a separate line item on their annual property tax bills. Town officials say that figure is only approximate and subject to change, depending the actual project costs. That amount was estimated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Agency.
Homeowners who choose to hook into the water service will pay a quarterly water bill based on usage. Town officials estimate that the average usage for a family of four would cost about $313 per year, or $78.25 per quarter. Property owners would also need to pay the costs of hooking into the system.
Prior to the vote, Granby officials stressed that the town government stood to gain nothing financially by implementing the water service area.
“Some people think the town is pushing this because its going to make money, but everything that comes in on that line item goes directly toward the loan. It’s illegal for the town to make any money on this,” Town Clerk Janet Ingersoll said.
Williamson said the town will likely put the project out for bid in late March or early April 2015. He said he hopes it won’t take longer than a year or so beyond that time to complete.
“It took about two years for Water District 3 to be complete, but that was many times bigger than this. I’m hoping this can be completed within a year,” Williamson said.

Unofficial results: Eby tops Coleman in family court judge race

Oswego County voters have chosen James K. Eby (R,C,I) to fill the county’s new family court judge seat, according to unofficial results released by the Oswego County Board of Elections.

Eby garnered 16,254 votes (60.05 percent) in Tuesday’s election, topping opponent Lou Anne Rucynski Coleman (D,WF), who received 10,786 (39.85 percent).

None of the tallies released Tuesday include absentee ballots, which board of elections officials said they will begin counting on Nov. 12. Results will then be made official upon certification the first week of December.

Unofficial results: Katko wins U.S. House seat

John Katko (R,C,I) will be the next U.S. Representative for New York’s 24th Congressional District, ousting incumbent Dan Maffei (D,WF) at the polls Tuesday.

The Associated Press called the race in favor of Katko at 11:18 p.m. Tuesday

In Oswego County, Katko won over the electorate by almost a two-to-one margin, taking 10,832 votes (64 percent) over Maffei’s 6,057 (35.78 percent).

Results from the other counties in the district–Onondaga, Cayuga and Wayne–are not yet available.

Unofficial results: Granby chooses Phillips for highway superintendent

Early results show that Robert M. Phillips Jr., who ran on both the Democrat and Republican party lines for Granby Highway Superintendent, won Tuesday’s election over opponent Eric A. Clothier.

Phillips landed a total of 1,016 votes, or 64.43 percent, while Clothier received 558, or 35.38 percent, according to unofficial results released by the Oswego County Board of Elections.

Unofficial results: George Ritchie takes Hannibal town council seat

Town of Hannibal voters elected Republican and Conservative candidate George H. Ritchie to the town council with just over 53 percent of the vote Tuesday, according to unofficial results released by the Oswego County Board of Elections.

With 529 ballots cast in his named, Ritchie defeated challengers Christopher Soper, who received 314 votes (31.49 percent) and Gary D. Thompson Jr., who had 154 votes (15.45 percent).


Phoenix to use outside supplier for drinking water

Phoenix will be looking to an outside supplier to provide clean drinking water to its residents.

Village officials had been considering three possible courses of action to address the quality of Phoenix’s drinking water., after tests done by both the county and state health departments showed that the village’s two drinking water wells are susceptible to ground water infiltration.

A 2013 village drinking water report states that those conditions leave the wells at a “medium-high susceptibility rating for pesticides, metals and nitrates due to the unconfined aquifer.” The wells were also given a “high-risk rating for petroleum products, bacteria, protozoa, viruses, cations/anions, halogenated solvents and other industrial organics due to nearby land use activities.”

Through both news and social media, some residents have been publicly calling for village officials to take action on the matter. They describe their water as murky “like chocolate milk,” and emitting chemical odors.

After the 2013 drinking water report was released, village officials say they began working to eliminate the voids in the ground that allow surface water to reach the wells. However, that course of action hasn’t yielded strong enough results.

The Oswego County Health Department gave the village until the end of October to settle on a different course of action, which could have included putting in completely new wells, implementing a filtration system designed to treat surface water, or tying into a different public water supplier.

Village Administrator Jim Lynch said Wednesday that the village board has settled on using an outside water provider.

“We can’t say anything has been finalized, but at the last meeting the board decided to move forward in choosing to hook into a different public water source,” Lynch said. “We’re currently looking at a couple options.”

Those options include the city of Fulton’s water system or the Metropolitan Water Board’s (MWB) service.

Lynch said village officials will be exploring the costs and benefits of each service, but he believes MWB will end up being the more cost efficient choice.

“We plan to be talking with the city of Fulton about a connection to their water source, but it would probably be more cost effective to hook up to Metropolitan since we already have a connection for them here in the village,” Lynch said.

Should the village ultimately decide to go with MWB’s service, it could take a year-and-a-half or so to begin actually providing that water to village residents.

“Right now, as we reported to the health department, we would be looking at spring 2016 for the final hookup,” Lynch said.

That time would be needed to pursue grants and loans for the project, design a pump station, put the project out for bid and have it completed. Lynch said the most time-consuming aspect of that would be lining up the money.

“The majority of that time is getting funding. The village isn’t just going to fund the whole project. We need to get grants or line up zero- or low-interest loans. Getting all that in place takes a lot of time,” Lynch said.

Lynch said the cost to build the facilities needed to tie into MWB’s service is estimated at $516,000. The village would then pay $185,000 per year to MWB for annual operating costs, in addition to the wholesale price of the water it purchases. Phoenix residents would continue to pay their water bills to the village, he said.

Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang said be feels Phoenix officials have selected a good course of action.

“I think they’ve moved toward the right direction,” Huang said. “As the county health department, we are happy to see they have moved things forward in this way.”

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