View from the Assembly

By Assemblyman Will Barclay

This year marks the 50th anniversary  of the first Surgeon General’s report on Smoking and Health.

That report, issued in 1964, was the first federal government report linking smoking to ill health, including lung cancer and heart disease.

The news was a wake-up call to America.

Following the landmark report, government began its tobacco control efforts. Since 1964,  the smoking rate in the nation has been reduced by 58 percent. Fifty years ago, about 42 percent of adults smoked. Today’s rate is 18 percent.

The lower smoking rate has saved numerous lives. According to a report issued by the Journal of the American Medical Association last month, researchers estimate 8 million lives have been saved since 1964 when the public became more aware of the dangers of smoking.

Our state rate — 17 percent — is still a high rate when you consider the known health costs associated with smoking. Unfortunately,  our regional smoking rate is estimated to be even higher.

A state report indicates Oswego County’s smoking rate is 27.4 percent, based on data from the state Health Department from 2010.

Local health officials more recently estimate the rate to be as high as 32 percent. In Jefferson County, the smoking rate is 23.7 percent and in Onondaga County, the smoking rate is 20 percent.

I recently met with local health officials to discuss some of the health care challenges unique to our region. Presentations on tobacco use, among other health issues, were given at the local Rural Health Network’s meeting.

Data presented there showed as many as 26 percent of pregnant women smoked during their pregnancy in Oswego County in 2011. Health officials also reported Oswego County has a high death rate from lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory diseases.

Research shows obesity and smoking contribute to all of the above.

Local data also indicates smoking rates of pregnant women on Medicaid was as high as 42 percent compared to 8 percent of pregnant women with private insurance. While the numbers are alarming, it’s beneficial to have this data so we can work to reduce these rates, specifically in Oswego County.

The good news, health officials say, is the physician to population ratio will hopefully help our region reduce these rates and prevent premature death and illness.

At the state level, I’m pushing for reforms that would make those on cash assistance unable to purchase cigarettes using EBT cards. In fact, the state is in jeopardy of losing federal dollars if it does not reform its policies as well, so I’m hopeful this will change soon.

Though incidents of tobacco use may be higher regionally, tobacco use remains the number one preventable cause of death in New York, and lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer deaths in the state.

Other health issues such as high blood pressure, stroke and other ailments are also caused by smoking.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that those who smoke are two to four times more likely to develop coronary heart disease and two to four times more likely to have a stroke. Men and women who smoke are 25 times more likely to develop lung cancer.

Tobacco use is also responsible for diminished health, increased absenteeism from work and increased health care costs. The CDC also reports that tobacco use costs at least $133 billion in direct medical care of adults and more than $156 billion lost in productivity.

Secondhand smoke is also estimated to cost the country $5.6 billion in lost productivity each year, according to the CDC. Last year the state Assembly unanimously passed a bill that banned smoking at on the grounds of 100 hospitals. I was pleased to support this in the Assembly.

To access cessation resources, visit http://www.nysmokefree.com/ or call NY Quits at 1-866-NY-QUITS.

If you have any questions or comments or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, contact my office by mail at 200 N. Second St.,Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us or by calling  598-5185.

Conservatives endorse Katko

The Conservative Party committees that constitute the 24th Congressional District (Onondaga, Wayne, Cayuga and Oswego) have endorsed former U.S. Attorney John Katko to challenge Dan Maffei fr Congress in November.

Katko, of Camillus, beat several other candidates for the endorsement.

“While emphasis on the economy has to be our primary goal for this election”, state Ron Greenleaf from Oswego County Chairman, “it cannot be our only focus.

“Mr. Katko has shown an ability to grasp issues that face us locally and nationally. It’s great to have such strong candidate as John representing the Conservative Party and the 24th district,” Greenleaf said.

“Mr. Katko aligns with our Conservative principles philosophically and understands the significance of this election,” said Chuck Mancabelli, chairman of Onondaga County’s Conservative Party. “Mr. Katko has a strong command of the issues and more importantly, an ability to connect with the voters.”

“For me, John Katko has the right mix of strengths to prevail in this election and help restore common sense to the NYS Congressional delegation,” said Jim Quinn, chairman in Wayne County.

Katko recently received the four counties GOP endorsements. Republican and Conservative Party unity are critical for Katko’s success.

Phoenix track boasts 2 Section 3 champs

By Rob Tetro

Phoenix boys’ varsity indoor track coach Keith Walberger considers this past season to be quite successful.

Phoenix placed highly in nearly every small school meet they took part in. Walberger and his team had smaller expectations going into the season while anticipating struggles with depth issues. However, Walberger’s team proved him wrong.

His seniors displayed fantastic leadership abilities and solid performances throughout the season. Walberger also said his younger players can learn from the effort and performances his seniors displayed this season.

Phoenix earned many team awards throughout the season. They came in seventh place out of 11 teams in the Onondaga High School League 1 Meet. The Firebirds earned a fourth place finish out of 10 teams in the Class B, Section 3 Meet.

The remaining events were meets that featured small schools from Class B, C and D. Phoenix tied for third in the Arcaro Memorial Meet.

They earned second at the Jensen Holiday Relays, came in fourth at the Grieve Memorial Meet, earned a second-place finish at the Kirschenheiter Memorial Meet and got a first place at the Last Chance Meet.

A few Phoenix athletes came away with individual honors this season.

Mike Leach, Anthony Brienza, Dylan Switzer and Sean Madden were named 2nd Team All-League 4×400 meter relay. Andy Padula was named 2nd Team All-League in the pole vault. Eric Hillpot was named 2nd Team All-League in the high jump.

Andy Padula won the Class B Sectional Championship in the triple jump. While Eric Hillpot won the Class B Sectional Championship in the high jump.

Along with the already mentioned team and Individual accolades, both Andy Padula (pole vault and triple jump) and Eric Hillpot (high jump) qualified to compete in the Section 3 State Qualifier Meet with the opportunity to earn the right to compete in the State Championship Meet.

At the Section 3 meet, both athletes came up short in their attempts to qualify for the State Championship events.

However, Walberger feels the progress his team made over the winter will bode well for them during the spring.

“We are all looking to build on this momentum during the upcoming outdoor (track) season!”, he said.

Raceway proposal obtains state grant

The plan to develop a racetrack outside Central Square has received a boost from the state.

Central NY Raceway Park, Inc., which was formed in 2012 to develop a 145-acre site in the town of Hastings, into the CNY Raceway Park, will use a grant of up to $1 million for a portion of pre-development costs, including planning, design, engineering, investigation, legal and accounting for its proposed $38 million development.

This is the third state grant the project has received, officials said.

Mark Bombardo, director of code enforcement and community planning and development in Hastings, said the town still is waiting for the project developers to come back to he town with more information on its project.

“We had a scoping session in January 2013 and then had a public hearing in January 2014 on some of the information,” Bombardo said. “We found some things to be deficient, so we asked for more information.”

Some of the issues town fathers wanted more information on included traffic and noise.

Bombardo said the entrance to the raceway would be off of U.S. 11, an already busy highway. There also are a number of houses near the proposed site.

Bombardo said the town of Hastings is coordinating the review of the proposal with the state Department of Transportation, state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Army Corps of Engineers.

“We are waiting on them now,” he said of the developers.

Oswego County is a motorsports destination that includes several race tracks, including the Oswego, Fulton and Brewerton Speedways. The availability of different types of racing is considered beneficial to the industry, building opportunity and interest in the sport.

The CNY Raceway Park will schedule events to complement the schedules of the existing facilities and will distinguish itself by offering opportunities for a wide array of racing and a year-round venue not available elsewhere.

Additionally, the Park will be strategically positioned at major crossroads in New York state, making it convenient and accessible for race participants and the public.

It will be located minutes from Syracuse and the state Thruway, adjacent to I-81 and Route 11, and 80 miles from Canada.

The completed project will transform the site into a premier multi-use destination facility for motor sports, trade shows, concerts and other events, and attendance is expected to be 5,000 to 7,000 spectators per event.

Fulton boys don’t make hoops postseason

By Rob Tetro

The Fulton boys’ varsity basketball team’s season came to an end with four losses to finish the season at 5-13.

Fulton needed to win one of its final 4 games to qualify for Sectional Play.

On Jan. 31, Cortland cruised past the Red Raiders, 73-52. Christian Brothers Academy rolled past Fulton, 77-53 Feb. 4. On Feb. 7, Bishop Ludden topped the Red Raiders, 76-49. While a final chance to qualify for Sectionals was lost when East Syracuse Minoa rallied for a 64-57 win Feb. 11.

Fulton had a 1-point lead over Cortland in their game, but Cortland took command of the game during the second quarter, outscoring Fulton by 11 points to take a 37-27 halftime lead.

Cortland kept pouring it on during the third quarter, outscoring the Red Raiders by 7 points to extend the lead to 17 points. Cortland capped off an impressive effort during the fourth quarter, outscoring Fulton again to win by 21.

Leading the way for the Red Raiders was Chris Jones with 17 points, followed by Cody Green with 12, Josh Hudson with 8  and Jon Cummins chipped in 5 points.

CBA and Fulton were competitive in the first quarter of their game, with the Brothers having only a 3-point lead over Fulton after the first. The Red Raiders hung tough during the second quarter and CBA had a 38-31 lead at  the half.

CBA pulled away in the third quarter, outscoring the Red Raiders by 9 points to push its lead to 16 points. Christian Brothers Academy put the game out of reach during the fourth quarter, outscoring Fulton by 8 points to cruise to the 77-53 win.

The Red Raiders were led by Cody Green with 18 points, followed by Chris Jones with 11, Jon Cummins and Josh Hudson with 8 points each and Brian Hudson added 6 points.

Bishop Ludden wasted little time putting its game with Fulton out of reach. They jumped out to an 18-point lead in the first quarter. The Red Raiders were far more competitive during the second quarter and were outscored by only 2 points. Ludden still had a 44-24 halftime lead.

Bishop Ludden refused to let up during the third quarter. They outscored The Red Raiders by 9 points to expand the lead to 29 points. To Fulton’s credit, they didn’t quit until the clock hit all zeros. They battled on while outscoring Bishop Ludden by 2 points during the fourth quarter. But the deficit they faced proved to be insurmountable as Bishop Ludden came away with 27-point victory.

Leading the way for Fulton was Cody Green with 13 points, followed by Chris Jones with 10, Seth Britton with 7, Josh Hudson and Mark Pollock scored 5 points each and Taylor Jordan chipped in 4 points.

The Red Raiders took on East Syracuse Minoa in hopes of winning to qualify for postseason play. After a competitive first quarter, the Red Raiders had a 2-point lead over ESM. But then the Spartans stormed ahead during the second quarter, outscoring Fulton by 10 points to take a 30-22 lead.

The Red Raiders fought back during the third quarter, outcoring ESM by 7 points to bring its lead down to a point at 39-38. Fulton’s rally continued into the fourth quarter as well.

It seemed the Red Raiders were in position to win late in the game. But Fulton ran out of gas down the stretch and the Spartans seized the opportunity and pulled away. They outscored Fulton by 7 points to escape with a 64-57 win.

Fulton was led by Chris Jones with 27 points, followed by Cody Green with 19, Brian Hudson with 7  and Jon Cummins with 4 points.

Local author Bruce Coville to give keynote address at Quest event

Submitted by SUNY Oswego

SUNY Oswego’s Quest has chosen Bruce Coville, alumnus and famed author of books for children and young adults, as keynote speaker for the daylong celebration of scholarly and creative pursuits.

Coville is scheduled to speak at 10 a.m. Wednesday, April 9, in the Campus Center auditorium.

The session is free and open to the public, as are scores of presentations, exhibitions and demonstrations that day, most in the Campus Center.

A 1973 alumnus and author of more than 100 books in such series as “The Unicorn Chronicles” and “Sixth Grade Alien,” Coville will set an inspiring tone, said this year’s Quest coordinator, Norm Weiner, SUNY Oswego emeritus professor of sociology and past director of the Honors Program.

“I was trying to find a keynote speaker students may have heard of and be interested in hearing,” Weiner said.

Generous to SUNY Oswego with his time during the years, Coville told graduates at the college’s December 2011 Commencement to hang onto their “deepest, truest beliefs” in searching for their life’s work: “Do as you love,” he prescribed.

As Coville and his wife, illustrator Katherine Dietz, struggled to sell books in the ‘70s and ‘80s, he lived by those words.

Long before his success with such international bestsellers as “My Teacher Is an Alien,” Coville worked many jobs.

A former elementary school teacher — as well as former “toymaker, gravedigger, cookware salesman and assembly line worker,” as he likes to say — Coville publicly credits his sixth-grade teacher, Florence Crandall, and a professor at SUNY Oswego, the late Helen Buckley Simkiewicz, with encouraging his love of writing.

Creative immersion

Weiner said Coville’s education and its connection to the creative life is a key ingredient that will energize students and members of the community at Quest.

“I think as someone immersed in creative activities, Bruce brings a lifetime of experience relevant to students,” Weiner said.

“I think he can speak personally and professionally about taking risks, being creative and about the place of creativity in every pursuit, from sciences to the humanities.”

Besides writing books, Coville has authored four musicals, formed Syracuse audiobooks publishing company Full Cast Audio and appeared frequently at schools around Central New York and elsewhere to pass along his love of reading and writing.

His best-selling works of science fiction, fantasy, adventure and magic have appeared in more than a dozen languages.

Along with Coville’s many literary awards, the Oswego Alumni Association honored him with a Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1998, and the State University of New York system awarded him an honorary doctor of letters degree in 2003.

Parking is free April 9 for visitors to Quest in the rear half of the lot behind Hart and Funnelle residence halls and in the adjacent commuter lot.

Dillon fifth-grader commended for kindness

Submitted by Oswego County BOCES

Random acts of kindness are committed on a daily basis in the Phoenix Central School District and those efforts were recognized Thursday (Feb. 27) morning.

Emerson J. Dillon fifth-grade teacher Sandy Silky nominated Ashlyn Wallace for the recognition, which is a joint initiative between the district and SUNY Oswego’s Office of Business and Community Relations.

When students commit a random act of kindness, they receive completed Go.Do.Good cards from their classmates and/or teachers and then submit their cards to be entered into a random drawing.

The initiative at Dillon Middle piggybacked off an anti-bullying program at the beginning of February, said Raina Hinman, the district’s dean of students.

“Students took on a Post-It initiative as part of the anti-bullying campaign. They wrote words of encouragement and nice things onto sticky notes and put them on students’ lockers,” Hinman said. “That campaign ended Feb. 7 and rolled nicely into Random Acts of Kindness Week, which was Feb. 10-14.”

While Random Acts of Kindness Week helps reinforce the message of doing good deeds for others, Hinman said that the initiative has really been ongoing since the start of the school year.

“We hand out the blank cards to students at the beginning of the year,” Hinman said. “If a student does something that meets the criteria — and it can be anything from helping with homework to giving compliments – then they receive a completed Go.Do.Good card describing the random act of kindness.”

For this year’s honoree, a simple act of kindness grabbed her teacher’s attention when Wallace offered to lend a hand to a student who had dropped folders on the floor.

“It feels really good,” Wallace said of the recognition. “I was just doing something nice.”

Your hometown. Your news.