Valley Viewpoints: Councilor addresses legislator’s questions

Questions answered

Legislator Frank Castiglia came to the Fulton Common Council meeting April 15, and if anybody had any doubts that he doesn’t know what he is talking about, he removed them.

He started out during the public session responding to a question posed to him by former Mayor Hayden regarding the different tax rates for Cayuga Community College.

Castiglia said Fulton has a higher rate than say Volney or Granby because we have more students living in Fulton. He then asked the mayor if we have anybody to verify that the students still live here.

The mayor told him that was a county function.

Okay, let’s review – the mayor had to tell a county legislator what the county’s function is. Reminds me of a previous meeting when he came and tried to tell us how to handle potholes.

Alderman Kenyon asked him what the county does with potholes. Legislator Castiglia intelligently said…..duh, I dunno. Maybe he should learn his own job before he goes around telling us how to do ours.

Now comes the public hearing on Aldi’s special use permit. Legislator Castiglia gets up and starts right out with his ridiculous questions.

He asked how much the property was going to be assessed.  If he knew anything about government he would know that March 1 is the taxable status date which is when the real property is assessed according to the price fixed as of the valuation date.

Like the mayor said, “you can’t assess a building that isn’t built yet.”  Frank, I don’t mind giving you lessons in county government but you could look this up yourself.

He went on to tell us: “right now the property is assessed at $2 million for the building.” The mayor corrected him and said: “for the entire complex.” Castiglia said: “no, no…(pause) for the entire complex, yes.”

He said in one breath the mayor was right and wrong.

At one point as he was talking about the zoning in the area he said: “the whole site wasn’t always industrial, Sixth Street always used to went all the way down to Kiwanis Park and was residential… it was residential so that area should actually go back to residential…that’s what the law says, if it’s left empty for a certain length of time it reverts back to its old zoning.”

Sorry Frank, that’s not the law, that’s a lie. There is no such law.

Then came the even more ludicrous questions. He asked how many employees they were going to employ. He asked what hours they would be open. Strupplers and Save-A-Lot are open until 9 p.m. while Wal-Mart and Price Chopper are open 24 hours, so I fail to see what difference it makes.

He asked where they would get their products. He asked if they will have fresh meat. He wondered about a “shopping cart patrol.”

All of these things are up to the store. These questions had absolutely nothing to do with the special use permit.

There was a gentleman in attendance that is the project manager and was willing to answer these questions, but Legislator Castiglia rudely dismissed him, which proves he didn’t care about the answers; he was just playing “gotcha” with the council.

Legislator Castiglia could have come to the Planning Commission meeting the night before and received those answers but of course, there were no cameras there.

Legislator Castiglia asked about a traffic study, which is premature at this point since there is no store there yet. If the police feel a traffic study is warranted then they will do one.

He said: “Fay St…. is almost a race track now and it may get bigger. My only concern is that you don’t have sidewalks on both of those streets, I don’t care to have sidewalks, if we had them, fine but we’re going to have walkers…..”

Did everybody get that? He said Fay Street is a race track but he doesn’t want sidewalks for the walkers.

Legislator Castiglia goes on to talk about stores that used to be on the east side referring to P&C. He said: “We had a store on the east side, we had P&C on the east side and we couldn’t support it.”

It wasn’t that “we” couldn’t support it, Penn Traffic, owner of P&C, went bankrupt and closed all the stores. You may have missed that, it was in all the papers.

During his speech Legislator Castiglia said: “If my wife was here tonight she’d be up here yelling at me because she, ya know, is 100 percent for a store coming in down there, an Aldi’s coming in down there.”

It’s sad to see that any county legislator would be against a new business coming into the area, but to have the legislator that represents the district be against it is even more shameful.

I guess he wants the people in his district to travel the 2½ mile round trip to Save-A-Lot, 3½ miles to Price Chopper,  4½ miles to Strupplers or 6½ miles to Wal-Mart.

Right after that statement he goes on to say: “I am voting the way the people, or I would say the way the people in the district are saying they want to see….”  I’m confused, when did he join the Common Council?

In his recent letter to the editor he wrote: “I didn’t think it was possible to obtain so little information from such a knowledgeable group about such an important issue.”

My response is: I didn’t think it was possible to have an elected official be so uninformed on the matters of zoning, assessment, special use permits, community colleges, county ways of fixing potholes, public safety and so many others things.

Jim Myers
Councilor, 4th Ward

Hodgepodge: Sixth-grade memories


It’s true: when you start remembering and thinking about things that happened in years past, it is hard to stop. And that’s what I found myself doing one day this past week.

I was thinking about my teachers when I went to McKinley Elementary School, and the organized thinker that I am (insert muffled chuckle here), I started at the beginning and kept going, from my first teacher on.

My kindergarten teacher was Mrs. Salmon (that sounds fishy – maybe it was Mrs. Sammons – that sounds better).  I remember Mrs. Tierney, Mrs. Hart, Miss Colbert, Miss (or was it Mrs.) Carrigan, and a few others.

One thing I am sure of – all of my teachers in elementary school were women.

One of the few men on the McKinley School staff was Mr. George. (Not Mr. George Something, but Mr. Something George). Mr. George was our principal.

Mr. George was a pleasant, friendly man and I liked him most of the time. The one time that I didn’t like him so much was the afternoon that I was introduced to his paddle.

That afternoon Mr. George took his paddle off the nail on his office wall and used it for a couple of whacks on my behind. Those were the days when corporal punishment was allowed in the principal’s office.

I had been turned in after I threw a snowball at one of the little girl crossing guards on the way back to school after lunch.

That episode aside, Mr. George was an interesting principal and I liked him. He raised bees and brought some of them to school. He showed them to us at assemblies, along with little jars of their product, which we could buy.

Mr. George was also a talented film maker. He directed and filmed a cinematic masterpiece called “The Haunted Schoolhouse,” which featured our school building and its janitors in a Halloween tale shown every year to classroom after classroom of McKinley students.

There were a couple of other men at McKinley School. They included two janitors and also a gym teacher who came to our school once or twice a week.

He guided us through an hour of running around the gym, trying to climb a huge rope suspended from the ceiling and tossing wooden “Indian pins” around.

One of the janitors was Mr. Kenyon. I remember the janitors’ little office. It was tucked in between the furnace and the boys’ lavatory in the school’s cavernous basement.

Vintage Hodgepodge

(These paragraphs are from the Hodge-podge column of January 26, 2002.)

A few weeks before Christmas I was with my wife at one of those perfect kind of places that have a lot of stuff to look at.

Some new stuff, but a lot of old stuff – things that still smell like the attic or cellar where they’ve been since they fell into the “not particularly useful, but way too good to throw away” category – probably many years ago.

When we go to those kinds of places we tend to wander off in different directions. She gravitates toward the sewing stuff – spools of thread, thimbles, buttons, old lace, or swatches of material.

That day I wandered around the store, looking at everything, stopping to investigate a few things. I stopped to browse through a couple of old books, but I didn’t buy anything.

My wife did better, finding a whole carton of old sewing stuff. She bought it, we put it in the car and headed home.

“Harold Kenyon,” I said excitedly after we had driven a couple of blocks from the store.

“Where?” she asked, looking in both directions.

I quickly returned to West Genesee Street from my vision from more than 50 years ago of Mr. Kenyon standing in the boiler room at McKinley School.

Mr. Kenyon wasn’t just a janitor at the elementary school that I attended. He was an important part of the lives of every kid that spent kindergarten through sixth grades at the school.

We saw him every day as we passed his “office” while taking the shortcut through the basement from one side of the school to the other.

I had thought of Mr. Kenyon a few times in the 50-plus years since the big furnace in the basement of the school was a highlight of my life, but I hadn’t thought of him for years.

Until that day at the old stuff shop: While browsing through the old books I noticed that a couple had Harold Kenyon, West Pleasant Avenue, written in a boyish scrawl on the first page.  And that was that until I was driving home on West Genesee Street.

“Where the heck did he come from?” my wife asked.

“I think he lived right across from the school,” I said.

“No, I mean why did you think about him all of a sudden?”

I told her, and said I’d have to look at the books again the next time we went to that store.

My mother always told me that magical things happened at Christmas time. And it’s true. Christmas morning, Mr. Kenyon’s books were under our Christmas tree. I will probably think of him a lot more often now.

Sixth-Grade Memories

My sixth-grade class at McKinley had to leave the school and go on to Roosevelt Junior High School a year early so construction on an addition to the school could get underway.

At Roosevelt, students moved from room to room between classes, but not us interlopers from McKinley.

We were in the junior high school building, but we were sixth-graders. Our teacher, Mrs. Finnegan, was new to the school too. I remember her sing-songing her name to us – “F-i, double n-e,” she sang,  “g-a-n spells Finnegan.”

It wasn’t quite as polished as Dennis Day’s version of the St. Pat’s Day favorite, “Harrigan,” but it was a welcome introduction to our new school.

… Roy Hodge 

Bodley grad completes basic training

5-3_FULrusawAir Force Airman Jeffrey S. Rusaw Jr. graduated from basic military training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, San Antonio, Texas.

The airman completed an intensive, eight-week program that included training in military discipline and studies, Air Force core values, physical fitness, and basic warfare principles and skills.

Airmen who complete basic training earn four credits toward an associate in applied science degree through the Community College of the Air Force.

Rusaw is the son of Stephanie Cunningham of Fulton and Jeffrey Rusaw Sr., of Oswego.

He is a 2013 graduate of G. Ray Bodley High School, Fulton.

Raynor Ford hopes to expand at new site

By Debra J. Groom

It shouldn’t be long before Fred Raynor Ford in Granby gets the go-ahead to build a new dealership.

Granby Supervisor Ed Williamson said the Raynor project has only one or two meetings left before the town planning board before it can move forward. He expects the project will be approved.

Raynor proposes building a new 21,000 square foot building on a 5-acre parcel on Route 3, not far from where the current Raynor business is located.

The site is at the corner of Route 3 and Airport Road, a bit closer to the Granby-Fulton line than the present dealership. Williamson said the new building would be about double the size of the present Raynor dealership.

Raynor has said in his proposal that he would employ from six to eight more people at the new site.

Williamson said Ford Motor Co. is upgrading many of its sales facilities across the country and Raynor is included in this endeavor. He believes the move not only will help Raynor, but should be a lift for Granby as well.

“I’m working with the state Department of State, division of local government, to apply for a shared services grant,” Williamson said.

What he wants to do is get money to run the sewer line from where it ends at Airport Road down to WalMart to the treatment station at the corner of Hannibal Street and Route 3.

Then the city of Fulton can use part of the money to upgrade the pump station  on Hannibal Street to help take care of the additional sewage moving through the extended sewer line.

Williamson said extending the sewer line down that stretch of Route 3 and upgrading the pump station would allow more businesses to open along that part of Route 3 because they would have sewer access. Now any business along that portion of Route 3 would have to have septic systems.

“We want to do this now so future expansion can hook in so we don’t have to do this again,” Williamson said.

Fred Raynor could not be reached for comment.

Ryan Churchill, the engineer on the project by GYMO Architects, Engineers and Land Surveying in Watertown, said Williamson said Raynor already owns the property for the new site and no zoning changes are needed.

Williamson said Raynor most likely will sell or lease his old dealership building to another business.

He also said the hope is to have the Raynor project approved so construction can begin this year.

Remember Mother’s Day, 1996?

Last week’s story about the winter that just ended and the amount of snow and cold the area saw got some folks digging through their old photos. A reader sent in this photo of her house on West Third Street showing the snow cover from May 12, Mother’s Day, 1996. Local weather observers said that is the latest the Fulton area has seen snow.
Last week’s story about the winter that just ended and the amount of snow and cold the area saw got some folks digging through their old photos. A reader sent in this photo of her house on West Third Street showing the snow cover from May 12, Mother’s Day, 1996. Local weather observers said that is the latest the Fulton area has seen snow.

Square dancing club celebrates 60th anniversary

Bob Rice, Vivian Rice, Karen Eno, David Eno (caller), Pal Eno (caller) and club presidents Paula and Ray Schumacher, pose after the event.
Bob Rice, Vivian Rice, Karen Eno, David Eno (caller), Pal Eno (caller) and club presidents Paula and Ray Schumacher, pose after the event.
Pat Whaley and Ross Pickreign cut a rug during the dance.
Pat Whaley and Ross Pickreign cut a rug during the dance.

The Fulton Shirts ‘n Skirts Square Dancing Club celebrated its 60th anniversary with a special dinner and dance last weekend. The group had a dinner at Springside at Seneca Hill April 26 and enjoyed an afternoon of dancing April 27 at the Fulton Municipal building.

The dance was open to its 70 club members and visiting square dancers from across the region. Shirts ‘n Skirts square dance every Friday in the community room at the Fulton Municipal Building.

For more information, search Fulton Shirts ‘n Skirts on Facebook. Club members said square dancing means “fun, socializing with good people, laughter, smiles, good times and good food and exercise.”

FULTON FAMILIES — The whole herd: The Rowlee family’s mark on Fulton

Fulton Dairy Farms began with one cow, shown here with Elon Rowlee at Cannon Hill between North Seventh and North Eighth streets, circa 1919 or 1920. Photo courtesy of Judy Rowlee Howard
Fulton Dairy Farms began with one cow, shown here with Elon Rowlee at Cannon Hill between North Seventh and North Eighth streets, circa 1919 or 1920.
Photo courtesy of Judy Rowlee Howard

Editor’s note: This is the eighth installment of stories about Fulton Families. The monthly series will tell the stories of families that have either lived in Fulton for ages or perhaps only a short while — but the common bond will be they love the city and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. If you know of a family we should highlight, please email Ashley M. Casey, Valley News assistant editor, at

By Ashley M. Casey

It began with a cow.

Elon K. Rowlee and his bride, Gertrude Candee, received the small cow from Elon’s parents as a wedding present in 1917. Four years later, that cow inspired the start of the Fulton Dairy Farms Co., which lasted more than four decades. Continue reading

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