Fulton police, firefighters honored

Fulton firefighters and police officers were honored Wednesday night during the annual city of Fulton Police and Fire Awards Ceremony.

Medal of Honor recipients Officer Michael Blasczienski and Officer Brian Dumas. Photo by Thomas Abelgore
Medal of Honor recipients Officer Michael Blasczienski and Officer Brian Dumas.
Photo by Thomas Abelgore

The ceremony, emceed by Channel 9 anchor and reporter Christie Casciano, was filled with the exceptional stories of what the police officers, firefighters, Menter EMTS and civilians did durig 2013 to help their fellow Fulton residents.

Beverly Belton wiped tears from her eyes as her saviors — Officers Brian Dumas and Michael Blasczienski — received the Medal of Honor Award for saving her and others in her apartment building during a fire.

“Blasczienski kicked my door down to get to me. I didn’t even know the building was on fire,” she said. “If they hadn’t gotten me out, I’d be gone — the fire was int he attic right above me.”

She kissed and hugged the two men after they received their award. From her ordeal, Belton is lobbying the state and federal governments to institute a First Responders Day to honor these workers.

Another poignant moment was when 10-year-old Kiernan O’Neil received his Civiilian Service Award. He stood on the stage with her mom, Jennifer, who he saved.

Civiilian Service Award recipient Kiernan O’Neil and his mom, Jennifer
Civiilian Service Award recipient Kiernan O’Neil and his mom, Jennifer

Kiernan, who was 9 at the time, was playing outside last June 24 when he needed to tell his mother something. He went into the house and found her lying on the bed.

According to accounts, he knew something was wrong because his mom wasn’t moving and it didn’t seem as though she was breathing.

“While a lot of kids out there would probably panic, Kiernan didn’t. Instead he ran out of the house to the neighbors to call 911,” said the narrative read during the ceremony.

Police Officer Gary Percival, Fulton Rescue and Menter Ambulance all heard the call and responded.  Jennifer was found to have no pulse.

According to the narrative read at the ceremony:

“Percival rolled Jennifer onto her back and began CPR. A short time later Fulton Fire Department Personnel Lt. Mark Pollock, Firefighter Randy Spencer, Firefighter Chris Adkins, Firefighter Chris Caza and Firefighter Ryan Maxam arrived. They took over life saving efforts from  Percival.

“Jumping into action, Firefighters Adkins and Maxam got Jennifer’s airway open and began giving her respirations while Lt. Pollock and Firefighter Caza continued CPR. With crucial time ticking away, they set up an AED and delivered a shock to Jennifer.

“Still not breathing they continued with CPR. Menters ambulance personnel Michael Zukovsky, Sean Morganti, Edward Kasperek and Joseph Susino arrived on the scene and immediately got to work. An IV was started and Jennifer was shocked a second time.

“They kept up their efforts and soon after she was loaded into the ambulance, Jennifer was breathing on her own and had a pulse.”

Jennifer O’Neil hugged each of the firefighters and officers who helped save her that day. And young Kiernan got a hearty  thanks and good job from the first responders and, of course, Mom.

Here is a list of others honored Wednesday night:

Police Officer of the Year Chris Jones, with his daughters Casey, left, and Hannah, right.
Police Officer of the Year Chris Jones, with his daughters Casey, left, and Hannah, right.

Firefighter of the year: Christopher Adkins

Police officer of the year: Christopher Jones

Triumphant Award, for scoring 90 percent or better in the annual Fitness Challenge: Officer Brian Dumas; those scoring  85 percent or better were Capt. David Eiffe and Deputy Chief Thomas Abelgore.

STEP (Selective Traffic Enforcement Program) awards for participation in the program that targets traffic offenses:

Leading the Fulton department was Officer Brandon Lanning, followed by Officer Jarret Marino and Officer Lucas Hollenbeck. Others receiving certificates of commendation for their work on this program are Officers Christopher Jones, Jeffrey Margrey, Victor Kaufman, Rick Hahn, Christian Dempsey, Brandon Harris and Brian Dumas.

Firefighter of the Year, Chris Adkins
Firefighter of the Year, Chris Adkins

Meritorious Service Award: Officer (retired) Lennet Whitmore and Officer Jeremy Algarin.

Here is a narrative of what they did:

Last summer, Officer Whitmore and Officer Algarin were on patrol when they were dispatched to a reported suicidal woman on the city’s west side.

When they arrived, several people were gathered around a house pointing to a second-floor window. The people said a woman had come to the window with something wrapped around her neck, threatening to jump.

Whitmore went to the upstairs apartment and tried to make contact with the female, but she refused to open the door. Due to the circumstances, Algarin kicked in the door and both officers entered the apartment.

At first, they were unable to locate the woman, then Algarin saw that she was hanging by her fingertips out the second-story window.

Both officers went into action, throwing the window open and grabbing the woman by each of her arms. After a brief struggle, they were able to get the woman back inside to safety.

Completing two consecutive years of service without an absence: Firefighters Robert Summerville, Daniel O’mara,  Chris Adkins, Lt. Steven Dexter, Lt. Mark Pollock, Officer Victor Kaufman, Inv. Aimee May, Inv. Michael Curtis, Lt. William Clark, Deputy Chief Thomas Abelgore

Honorable Service Award: Officer Lucas Hollenbeck.

Here is a narrative of what he did:

In March 2013, Officer Lucas Hollenbeck was patrolling Fulton’s west side late in the afternoon. Hollenbeck decided to do an area check of some of the local businesses and while checking NET & DIE, a local machine shop, he noticed a vehicle parked along the side of the building.

A quick check of the building found it secure, but the truck bed was loaded with what appeared to be a large amount of metal.

Believing that he may have interrupted a larceny in progress, Hollenbeck called for backup. Other police units arrived and they began checking the area, when they located Kyle Moore and Jonathan Loomis hiding behind a dumpster.

Neither man would admit to stealing the metal, even though the truck was registered to one of them. The owner of the company was contacted and he confirmed the metal in the back of the truck did indeed belong to his business.

After further investigation both males were arrested for felony grand larceny.

Meritorious Service Award: Officer Christopher Jones

Here is a narrative of what he did:

Last spring, Officer Chris Jones was on patrol when he was dispatched to a reported house fire. When Jones arrived he could see smoke pouring out of the house.

Being the first on scene, Jones jumped into action grabbing a fire extinguisher out of the back of his patrol car. He started for the house as people fled the burning building.

When he entered the house, Jones could see the smoke was coming from the basement. Without regard for his safety and no equipment to protect him from the fire, he went down looking for the source of the smoke.

When he got to the basement he found the fire and went to work quickly putting it out before more damage could be done.

As he battled the flames in the confined space he was nearly overcome by the toxic combination of smoke and dry chemicals from the extinguisher.

After exiting the building, Jones was treated for smoke inhalation and chemical burns to his lungs, but even as he was being treated he was able to learn vital information from people on scene that eventually helped lead to the arrest of Christopher Holbrook for arson.

Life Saver Award: Michael Zukovsky, Garrett Hauf and Ronald Frawley.

Here is a narrative of what they did:

Just over a year ago Menters personnel, Michael Zukovsky, Garrett Hauf and Ronald Frawley were sent to the city’s east side for a report of a woman with severe chest pain. When they arrived the patient was already being attended to by the Fulton Fire Department.

She was alert and conscious, but reporting she was in a lot of pain. It was decided that the patient would be transported to St. Joseph’s in Syracuse.

What started as a fairly routine transport suddenly became anything but routine. As they drove the patient stated she felt dizzy then suddenly she went unresponsive. The Menters crew immediately reacted, looking for a pulse, but finding none.

The patient took a last breath then stopped breathing. The crew worked tirelessly through out the race to the hospital culminating with Zukovsky using an AED to administer a shock to the patient as they pulled into St. Joe’s.

Amazingly the patient started breathing again and by the time they got into the ER, she was conscious and talking.

Exceptional Duty Award: Russ Johnson, Sgt. Stephen Lunn and Inv. Michael Batstone.

They are honored for their work over several years that finally led to the discovery of the person driving the car involved in the accident that killed Carolee Ashby in 1968.

Life Saving Award: Fulton Firefighters Lt. Steve Dexter, Lt. Shane Laws, Firefighters Ed Kasperek, Chris Adkins and Ken Gleason along with Menters AEMT’s Chris Foy, Michael Zukovsky and EMT Cory Richer.

They are honored for saving the life of a woman who was barely breathing, turning purple and unconscious.

Civilian Service Award: Edward Witkowski, of Fulton.

He is honored for rushing into a burning building and quickly extinguishing a fire, preventing a huge loss.

Parks medallion contest winner picks up her prize

Audrey Avery, fourth from left, holds the envelope with a check from The Valley News for $250 for being the winner of the Treasure Fulton Parks 2014 Medallion Hunt contest. She found the medallion in Van Buren Park April 16. The award ceremony was April 22 in Recreration Park. Children and adults who collected the colored rocks in all the parks also received their prizes that day. Shown in the photo from left are Bob Weston of Friends of Fulton Parks; Kelley Weaver, Friends of Fulton Parks and creator of the medallion contest; Charles Avery; Audrey Avery; Fulton Mayor Ronald Woodward Sr; and Dan Knopp, Fulton Common Council president. The person who found the medallion after reading clues hidden in The Valley News would receive $150 if he or she wasn’t a Valley News subscriber and $250 if he or she was a Valley News subscriber.
Audrey Avery, fourth from left, holds the envelope with a check from The Valley News for $250 for being the winner of the Treasure Fulton Parks 2014 Medallion Hunt contest. She found the medallion in Van Buren Park April 16. The award ceremony was April 22 in Recreration Park. Children and adults who collected the colored rocks in all the parks also received their prizes that day. Shown in the photo from left are Bob Weston of Friends of Fulton Parks; Kelley Weaver, Friends of Fulton Parks and creator of the medallion contest; Charles Avery; Audrey Avery; Fulton Mayor Ronald Woodward Sr; and Dan Knopp, Fulton Common Council president. The person who found the medallion after reading clues hidden in The Valley News would receive $150 if he or she wasn’t a Valley News subscriber and $250 if he or she was a Valley News subscriber.

Sign up now to be in Memorial Day Salute parade

The 33rd Annual Fulton Service Clubs’ Memorial Day Salute Parade is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, May 24.

The parade theme this year is “Showing Gratitude to Our Veterans.”

The Memorial Day Salute Committee feels our community has many heroes who are serving or have served in the present conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as veterans who have served their country over the years. These men and women ask for nothing from their fellow American citizens, so it is time to honor them on this Memorial Day weekend.

Therefore, this year‘s parade is in honor of all those who have served their country.

For the past 33 years, the four service clubs in Fulton — Kiwanis, Lions, Sunrise Rotary and Rotary — have chosen to honor our heroes and veterans by featuring them in the annual parade.

Fulton’s “Veteran of the Year” for 2014 is Jim Weinhold. He served seven years in the Navy and 15 years in the Air National Guard with the 174th “Boys of Syracuse.”

Weinhold will serve as Grand Marshal of this year’s parade.

The Fulton Memorial Day parade traditionally features children and bands.   Many children’s groups have already signed up for the parade this year. There is always room for more groups, businesses and individuals to be in the parade.

Anyone who belongs to a group that wants to be in this year’s parade, should sign up now. Zach Menter is the parade chairman and his phone number is 591-4502. Call him if you have questions about the parade, or wish to be in it.

The Memorial Day Salute Committee so far has nine bands signed up for this year‘s parade. They are our own Fulton Marching Band along with The Central New York Police and Fireman’s Band, City of Syracuse Highland Pipe and Drums, Pembrooke High School Marching Band, Central Square Middle School Band, The Original Yanks Drum & Bugle Corp and Naples High School Marching Band.

The fun loving Island Band, which won the best parade band award last year, is back this year as well, and we also have the Fulton Gauchos Alumni Band marching in the parade this year.

Several businesses and groups are working on floats to place in the parade.  Whether you are interested in planning a float, a marching group or want to show off an unusual vehicle, now is the time to act.

Call Menter at 591-4502 and he will send you a parade application form.

Church plans rummage, bake sale

Bowen’s Corners United Methodist Church is preparing for its Annual Spring Rummage Sale and Bake Sale from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, May 2 and Saturday, May 3 at the church at 758 State Route 176, just west of Fulton. Featured will be a wide array of clean, wearable clothing, books, toys and household items along with a variety of home baked goods. On Saturday, shoppers may fill a bag for $2. Shown preparing for the event are Belva Beck, Wilma Ware and Faye Besaw.
Bowen’s Corners United Methodist Church is preparing for its Annual Spring Rummage Sale and Bake Sale from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, May 2 and Saturday, May 3 at the church at 758 State Route 176, just west of Fulton. Featured will be a wide array of clean, wearable clothing, books, toys and household items along with a variety of home baked goods. On Saturday, shoppers may fill a bag for $2. Shown preparing for the event are Belva Beck, Wilma Ware and Faye Besaw.

Apply now to participate in Fulton Community Garden

Employees of Excellus BlueCross BlueShield volunteered their time to help the Nutrition Collaboration of Oswego County build additional garden beds for last year’s Fulton Community Garden Project. Located at John Lincoln Park, the Fulton Community Garden Project offers Fulton City residents the opportunity to have their own garden bed to grow vegetables, herbs or flowers. For information on this year’s Fulton Community Garden call Amy Roland at 598-4712, ext. 1811. Kneeling from left are: Rachel Sgroi, Michelle Mushock, Ieva Doyle, Daryl Shultz, Alecia Ryznik, and Jen Soule-Parrish. Standing from left are: Jan Smith of Cornell Cooperative Extension; Geovanni Ballog, Bridget Marion, Renee France, Jacqueline Iacovelli, Michelle Simpson, Dale Miller, Brittany Taylor, Rachel Gleason; Amy Roland, Oswego County Opportunities; Dr. Arthur Vercillo;  and Cindy Walsh of Cornell Cooperative Extension.
Employees of Excellus BlueCross BlueShield volunteered their time to help the Nutrition Collaboration of Oswego County build additional garden beds for last year’s Fulton Community Garden Project. Located at John Lincoln Park, the Fulton Community Garden Project offers Fulton City residents the opportunity to have their own garden bed to grow vegetables, herbs or flowers. For information on this year’s Fulton Community Garden call Amy Roland at 598-4712, ext. 1811. Kneeling from left are: Rachel Sgroi, Michelle Mushock, Ieva Doyle, Daryl Shultz, Alecia Ryznik, and Jen Soule-Parrish. Standing from left are: Jan Smith of Cornell Cooperative Extension; Geovanni Ballog, Bridget Marion, Renee France, Jacqueline Iacovelli, Michelle Simpson, Dale Miller, Brittany Taylor, Rachel Gleason; Amy Roland, Oswego County Opportunities; Dr. Arthur Vercillo; and Cindy Walsh of Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Community members interested in enjoying their own garden fresh, homegrown vegetables or the beauty of a fresh flowerbed are invited to be a part of this year’s Fulton Community Garden Project.

The Nutrition Collaboration is soliciting Fulton city residents interested in participating in the Community Garden Project.

Participants will receive their own garden plot where they can grow vegetables, herbs or flowers that will be theirs to enjoy.

Amy Roland, director of Nutrition Services for Oswego County Opportunities (OCO) and a member of the Nutrition Collaboration, said the project is open to all Fulton community members, and members of Cornell Cooperative Extension will provide support for those who have never tended a garden before.

“The community garden is a great way for Fulton residents to enjoy fresh vegetables, herbs and flowers right from their own garden!” said Roland.

Thanks to the collaborative efforts of  Cooperative Extension of Oswego County, the city of Fulton and the Nutrition Collaboration of Oswego County, the Community Garden Project it entering its third growing season and continues to be success.

Since its inception in 2012, the project has more than doubled its number of garden beds and has provided fresh fruits and vegetables to participating families and individuals.

Roland said planting at the community garden will begin in late May. Fulton city residents interested in participating in the community garden may do so by picking up an application from the Fulton Housing Authority, 1100 Emery St., Fulton, or by visiting oco.org, Health and Nutrition Services.

Return the completed application to the Fulton Housing Authority or mail to: OCO Nutrition Services, 239 Oneida St, Fulton, NY 13069. As space is limited, submitting an application does not guarantee a plot in the garden.

The Nutrition Collaboration will utilize a lottery system in the event that the requests for plots out number the amount of plots available in the garden.

Sponsors for the community garden project include: Oswego County Nutrition Collaboration, Rural Health Network of Oswego County, Food Bank Of CNY, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County, Oswego County Department of Social Services, Fulton Department of Parks and Recreation, the Fulton Housing Authority, United Way of Greater Oswego County, the Cancer Services Program of Oswego County, and Catholic Charities of Oswego County.

For more information on the community garden project contact Amy Roland at 598-4712 ext. 1811, or via email at aroland@oco.org.

SUNY Oswego goes smoke free, tobacco free

SUNY Oswego will go smoke free and tobacco free everywhere on its premises starting Jan. 1, President Deborah F. Stanley announced on Earth Day, April 22. A slideshow-style video titled “’Stache the Ash” on the website of the college’s Tobacco Free 2015 campaign shows some of the numerous reasons many students choose not to light up.
SUNY Oswego will go smoke free and tobacco free everywhere on its premises starting Jan. 1, President Deborah F. Stanley announced on Earth Day, April 22. A slideshow-style video titled “’Stache the Ash” on the website of the college’s Tobacco Free 2015 campaign shows some of the numerous reasons many students choose not to light up.

Submitted by SUNY Oswego

SUNY Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley announced April 22 that the college will become smoke free and tobacco free on Jan. 1, 2015.

“In our efforts to support the educational mission of the college and to provide a safe, clean and healthy working, living and learning environment, the college will provide cessation assistance and resources to members of the campus community who wish to stop smoking or using tobacco in any form,” Stanley said in her Earth Day announcement.

“We’ll also support exercise and nutritional changes to help all of us enjoy the vitality and freedom that a smoke- and tobacco-free lifestyle affords,” Stanley said.

Starting with 2015, tobacco use in all its forms will be prohibited everywhere on college premises, including in any vehicle on college property.

SUNY Oswego will join more than 800 other colleges and universities in the United States that have adopted fully tobacco-free policies and nearly 1,200 that are smoke free.

SUNY Cortland, Cayuga Community College and the 24-campus City University of New York, among several other New York institutions, are tobacco free.

SUNY Upstate Medical University, University at Buffalo, Broome Community College and several other campuses in the state system are smoke free.

The SUNY board of trustees, acting on Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher’s recommendation, passed a June 2012 resolution supporting legislation to make all SUNY campuses tobacco free.

The system has actively encouraged remaining members of its 64 campuses to move in that direction even without a law.

SUNY Oswego’s Clean Air Committee launched a website — oswego.edu/OzQuits — to help the faculty, staff and students find cessation resources online, learn how the upcoming new policy on tobacco use developed, find links to research, answers to frequently asked questions and an online form for expressing their ideas.

College-wide support

The committee, chaired by Dr. Jerald Woolfolk, vice president for student affairs and enrollment management, includes student members as well as representatives of such cross-campus constituencies as the employee unions CSEA and United University Professions.

“This is about a healthier, cleaner and more vital college,” Woolfolk said. “But it is also about respect for all campus citizens — smokers and non-smokers alike. We are not asking anyone to quit smoking or using tobacco, but we do intend for the new policy to provide the motivation and the means to encourage it.”

A 2012 survey of more than 1,200 faculty, staff and students conducted by the committee reported that 16 percent of students said they used tobacco in the last 30 days. Only 7.1 percent of the surveyed faculty and staff said they use tobacco on a daily basis.

Donna Jerrett, a Clean Air Committee member and registered nurse at the college’s Mary Walker Health Center, announced the start of an educational and promotional campaign for Tobacco Free 2015 during an Earth Day afternoon celebration to mark the announcement.

Student and employee supporters handed out brochures and buttons bearing the “OzQuits!” nickname for the campaign and provided information about cessation opportunities, adverse health effects of tobacco use and secondhand smoke, and environmental impacts.

Fulton school board approves budget

By Ashley M. Casey

The Fulton City School District Board of Education approved the fourth and final draft of the 2014-2015 district budget at its April 23 meeting.

The final budget totals $67,357,685, up 3.22 percent from the 2013-14 budget of $65,259,100.

The proposed tax levy — the amount to be raised by taxes — is $20,142,125, a 1 percent increase from the previous year’s budget. Actual tax rates will be calculated in the summer.

Not included in the total budget amount is a $60,000 proposition to buy two vehicles.

If the proposed budget is defeated twice by voters, the district goes to a contingency budget of $66,871,685. The tax levy would be $19,942,698, the 2013-14 amount.

The contingency budget would remove $30,000 in equipment and would eliminate the restoration of $25,000 to the athletic program, three elementary teaching positions, and the proposed $35,000 for an elementary mental health clinician.

Other business

• Director of Instructional Assessment Betsy Conners said the district is applying for several STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) grants for the middle and high school grades.

One such grant would allow seventh- and eighth-grade teachers to participate in a three-day professional development opportunity through BOCES in August. Conners said the interdisciplinary approach of STEM is becoming increasingly important to skilled jobs. The district will hear back about the grant in May.

• Director of Student Support Programs Geri Geitner introduced a “school within a school” model for alternative education students at G. Ray Bodley High School.

Currently, about 85 high school students participate in an alternative program at the Education Center. This would allow alternative students to take elective classes at GRB but maintain their current flexible scheduling and “safety net” of support services in a “pod” or partial wing at the high school.

The program would move four full-time and a handful of part-time alternative teaching positions to GRB. Geitner and GRB principal Donna Parkhurst are aiming to start the new program in September.

“It’s going to take a lot of coordination and individual planning if we move to this model,” Geitner said. “We want to replicate all the components that we believe are effective — and that students are telling us are effective — (and) offer them a broader range of opportunities.”

• Director of Facilities, Operations and Transportation Jerry Seguin updated the board on the 2012 capital project’s progress.

He said crews worked “fast and furious” through the April break to update IT infrastructure and clean power systems at Volney and Fairgrieve elementary schools, as well as asbestos abatement at Fairgrieve and the Education Center.

The district has received state Education Department approval for the replacement of the gym floor at Lanigan Elementary School, part of the 2014-15 capital project. The project will be bid out in May and the renovation will take place over the summer.

The replacement of locksets across the district will extend into the fall of 2014.

Seguin said other summer projects include the replacement of the Volney and GRB roofs, renovations of the Education Center’s auditorium and gym ceiling, and renovations in Volney and Fairgrieve classrooms.

• The board also voted to pass the BOCES administrative budget, which is tentatively calculated at $6,408,434. The school board voted three members to the BOCES board for three-year terms: Eric Behling of the Mexico district, John Shelmidine of Sandy Creek and William “Dave” White of Oswego.

Coming up

• Petitions for school board and library board candidates are due to the district office by April 30.

• The public hearing on the budget will be held at 7 p.m. May 7 at the Junior High School.

• The next regular school board meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. May 13 at the Education Center.

• The budget vote, school board election and library proposition vote will be held May 20 at the elementary schools.

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