Local maple producers reap ‘best season ever

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.

How ladies can come out shooting and ‘Rule the Range’ on July 25

Volunteer instructors help Ladies Rule the Range participants through hands-on guidance and instruction with various firearms at last year’s event. This year’s event will be held July 25 at the Pathfinder Fish and Game Club. Photo provided

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 linda.parry725@gmail.com. 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.”

Granby committee prepares to begin lake cleanup

Workers begin clearing excavation pits at the Knapp Farm on Lakeshore Road for the Lake Neatahwanta Reclamation Committee to begin dredging on Aug. 1. Matthew Reitz photo
Workers begin clearing excavation pits at the Knapp Farm on Lakeshore Road for the Lake Neatahwanta Reclamation Committee to begin dredging on Aug. 1.
Matthew Reitz photo
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.

Cordone to serve another term as BOE president

Fulton School Board President David Cordone (right) and Vice President Dan Pawlewicz (left) sign the oath of office after being re-elected to their leadership positions in during the annual reorganizational meeting Tuesday. Colin Hogan photo
Fulton School Board President David Cordone (right) and Vice President Dan Pawlewicz (left) sign the oath of office after being re-elected to their leadership positions in during the annual reorganizational meeting Tuesday.
Colin Hogan photo

By Colin Hogan

David Cordone will continue serving as the Fulton City School District Board of Education President, the board determined in its annual reorganizational meeting Tuesday.
The 2015-16 term will mark the fourth consecutive year Cordone has held the leadership position. He has also previously served as the board’s vice president and clerk.
Cordone said it “is an honor to represent the board,” and expressed gratitude to his colleagues for the opportunity to continue as president.
“It’s always a pleasure when you’re leading a group to have their confidence. I’m grateful to the other board members for their vote,” Cordone said. “I look forward to another year working with my board colleagues, as well as the superintendent and his team.”
Among the many things Cordone said he and the board will continue to pay close attention to this coming year are plans to address fluctuating enrollment and staffing levels at the elementary schools, the district budget, graduation rates, student performance data, and changes to administrator and teacher evaluations. He said he also plans to  work closely with administrators on maintaining the district’s guiding principles.
The board also re-elected Dan Pawlewicz to another term as vice president, and Barbara Hubbard to continue as clerk.
Board meetings will continue to be held, in general, the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month, with one exception scheduled in April. The second meeting that month has been set for Monday, April 18. Regular session for the board meetings will continue being held at 7:30 p.m., following an executive session that begins at 6:30 p.m.
A full schedule will be posted on the district’s website, www.fulton.cnyric.org.

Volunteers needed to help with Hulett Park project this weekend

Hulett 2
Renderings provided
Hulett3Courtesy of Friends of Fulton Parks

New play equipment will be installed at Fulton’s Hulett Park on Friday, July 17 and Saturday, July 18. 

Thanks to donations from the community, and a contribution from the Richard S. Shineman Foundation, Friends of Fulton Parks was able to purchase play components from Parkitects Inc., a park and playground design firm based in Lansing, N.Y. Parkitects Project Manager KJ Armstrong has been involved from the initial design concept, to evaluating needs space and age-appropriateness of the play components. She will be guiding volunteers through a supervised community build, and setting up a maintenance plan for long-term upkeep.

This is Phase 1 of the installation. Phase 2 is planned for mid-August. As more donations are made, more equipment can be added to the main structure.

Hulett Park will be closed to visitors on Friday July 17 and Saturday July 18 for safety reasons. It is a community build project, meaning anyone willing to work is welcome to join in the event any time from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Volunteers will be needed to build, rake stone, mix cement, move heavy things, put pieces together, rake the fence line, pull weeds from other play areas, paint swing sets and bouncers, shovel/wheelbarrow/rake wood chips, hand out water bottles to workers, serve lunch, keep any children present safe and entertained.

Volunteers should bring your own work gloves, wheelbarrow, round-nosed shovel, ladder, metal garden rake, weed-whacker, socket wrenches to use.

This is a collaborative effort made possible by individuals, businesses and institutions as well as the support of the City of Fulton Parks and Recreation Department.

Linda A. Gowda

Linda A. Gowda, 76; of Fulton passed away at Oswego Hospital Sunday, July 5, 2015. Mrs. Gowda was born in Fulton, N.Y., to the late Robert and Mary (Moore) Stevenson. She has been a lifetime resident of Oswego County. Mrs. Gowda was a loving and devoted wife and mother. She was also an avid golfer. Mrs. Gowda was predeceased by two brothers, Robert (Carol) and Michael Stevenson. She is survived by her husband of 56 years, John Gowda of Fulton; their son, John Gowda of Fulton; two brothers, James (Beth) Stevenson of Liverpool, N.Y. and Dennis (Kathy) Stevenson of Fulton; sister-in-law, Joanne Stevenson of IN, and several nieces and nephews. Burial will be held privately.  The Sugar Funeral Home, Inc., 224 W. 2nd St., S. Fulton has care of the arrangements.

City bans tobacco at Fulton Farmers’ Market

 Fulton city officials, along with Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Greg Mills celebrate the Common Council’s recent action to ban smoking at the Fulton Farmers’ Market. Pictured from left are Second Ward Councilor Daniel Knopp, Third Ward Councilor Ryan Raponi, First Ward Councilor Tom Kenyon, Common Council President Larry Macner, Mayor Ron Woodward Sr., Mills, Fifth Ward Councilor Norman “Jay” Foster, and Fourth Ward Councilor Jim Myers. Photo provided

Fulton city officials, along with Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Greg Mills celebrate the Common Council’s recent action to ban smoking at the Fulton Farmers’ Market. Pictured from left are Second Ward Councilor Daniel Knopp, Third Ward Councilor Ryan Raponi, First Ward Councilor Tom Kenyon, Common Council President Larry Macner, Mayor Ron Woodward Sr., Mills, Fifth Ward Councilor Norman “Jay” Foster, and Fourth Ward Councilor Jim Myers.
Photo provided

By Matthew Reitz
The Fulton Common Council voted Tuesday to make the Fulton Farmers’ Market tobacco free beginning July 11.
The Tobacco Free Network of CNY, the Oswego County Health Department, and the Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce all supported the measure and encouraged city officials to pass the resolution, which prohibits the use of  all tobacco products inside the farmers’ market barriers, not just cigarettes. The Tobacco Free Network will provide signage to designate the boundaries of the smoke-free area at the farmers’ market.
The Common Council passed the resolution unanimously with little discussion on Tuesday, and Mayor Ron Woodward Sr. said he thought the move was a positive.
“I think it’s a good thing,” Woodward said.
The Tobacco Free Network of CNY says the move will make it safer for young children at the market as they are in danger not only of being burned by a cigarette or its ashes, but also from the negative health effects of secondhand smoke.
Danielle Hayden, assistant director of the Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce, said the farmer’s market aims to be a safe, family-oriented environment, and this measure will improve on that.
“It’s a family-friendly market,” Hayden said. “We wanted to make it’s smoke free for that fact alone.”
Greg Mills, the chamber’s executive director, said the tobacco-free policy will create a “safer, healthier environment for market vendors and patrons” and in turn a more family-friendly experience.
Hayden also mentioned that the Oswego Farmers’ Market has been smoke free “for a few years,” and it was only logical to follow their lead.
Jackie Thorpe, community specialist for the Tobacco Free Network of CNY, said she was pleased that Fulton voted to “protect its residents and the spirit of our farmers’ market.”
“There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke,” Thorpe said. “Even if outdoors.”
Thorpe cited a 2010 study in which 91 percent of Oswego County residents considered secondhand smoke to be harmful, and another 75 percent of the county’s residents “favor restricting or completely eliminating cigarette smoking at public outdoor recreation areas or events.”
A 2013 ban on smoking in New York State Parks was also upheld by a state judge late last year.
Thorpe and the Tobacco Free Network provided an extensive list of reasons to go smoke-free that included preventing asthma, other respiratory diseases and cardiovascular disease.
The Fulton Farmers’ Market is located in the Canalview Park & Shop parking lot on S. Second Street on Saturdays through Oct. 13 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

City sells off two former Nestlé parcels

By Matthew Reitz
Fulton officials agreed to sell two former Nestlé properties that were previously acquired through tax foreclosure on Tuesday night.
The properties were sold to Liverpool-based company Spring Storage Park, Inc. for a total of $100,000.
At its June 25 meeting, the Common Council had authorized Mayor Ron Woodward Sr. to execute the sale of three “nuisance properties,” but delayed a vote on the two Nestlé parcels due to concerns about the purchaser’s relationship with former Nestlé property owner Ed Palmer, from whom the tax-delinquent properties were acquired. The president of Spring Storage Park, Gary E. Spring, agreed to meet with councilors prior to the vote on Tuesday to alleviate any concerns they might have.
The council unanimously agreed to move forward with the sale following the meeting, but there was still hesitation among some councilors. First Ward Councilor Tom Kenyon said he was voting yes, but he was wary of the fact that Spring “used to be partners with Ed Palmer.” Kenyon said he feared the city would “get stuck” with the property again.
“This guy used to be partners with Ed Palmer who was up there before, and it scares me to death,” Kenyon said. “I’m afraid it’s going to come back to bite us again.”
The properties being sold are the former Building #30 on Fay Street, which Spring Storage Park has offered to purchase for $90,000, and an adjoining parcel with a parking lot on South Fourth Street that will be sold for $10,000.
Woodward said Spring shared his intent to use the properties as a warehouse and a U-Haul rental location. Woodward said the property sales were a positive, and would help the city move forward. Woodward previously told the council that, in addition to putting the properties back on the tax rolls, the sale would take care of the taxes owed on those parcels.
“We need to get these properties back on the tax role,” Woodward said. He added that it was “a good thing” to have someone utilizing any Nestlé buildings that are still usable.
Fourth Ward Councilor Jim Myers said the sale was the “start of a positive” to transform the former Nestlé properties from vacant buildings to something useful.
“I’m glad to see the sale of Building #30 and the parking lot go through,” Myers said. “I hope we can proceed with the Aldi’s, but it’s a start.”

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