Oswego only local school district on comptroller’s fiscal stress list

By Debra J. Groom

The Oswego City School District is the only district in Oswego County on the list of fiscally distressed districts issued last week by the state Comptroller’s office.

According to a news release from the Comptroller’s office, the fiscal stress scores are based on financial information submitted as part of each district’s ST-3 report filed with the state Education Department as of Dec. 13, 2013.

The list includes more than 700 school districts in New York state. A total of 587 were classified as “no designation, which means their level of fiscal stress had not reached a critical level.

The levels of stress listed by the Comptroller’s report were significant fiscal stress (the highest level of stress), moderate fiscal stress and susceptible to fiscal stress. Oswego City School District was listed under the susceptible to fiscal stress category.

“We have received this report and are reviewing the data to better understand the declaration,” said Benjamin Halsey, Oswego superintendent. “We will use this report to assist with budget decisions going forward.”

According to the Comptroller’s office, a district was reviewed for financial indicators, such as how well the district generates enough money to meet its expenditures, and environmental indicators, such as trends outside a district’s control that can affect its budget and revenue-raising capabilities.

The Comptroller’s office used only the financial indicators to determine whether a district would be placed on the fiscal stress list.

The other districts in Oswego County — Altmar-Parish-Williamstown, Central Square, Fulton, Hannibal, Mexico, Phoenix, Pulaski and Sandy Creek  — received no designation.

According to a report issued with the fiscal stress scores, school districts found to be in fiscal stress share a number of common characteristics. Most are operating with low fund balance, operating deficits and limited cash on hand. These districts

Of the top 10 districts found to be in the worst fiscal stress, only the Utica City School District (number 10) is in the Central New York region.

The district with the worst stress, according to the report, is Watervliet, outside Albany. The rest of the top 10 includes three districts from Western New York, two from Long Island, two from the Mid-Hudson region and one from the North Country (General Brown Central School).

The report also found:

• High-need urban/suburban school districts were three times more likely to be considered in fiscal stress compared to low-need districts;

• Upstate school districts were more likely to be in some level of stress compared to downstate districts; and

•  Regions with the highest percentage of stressed school districts were Central New York (22.9 percent of districts); North Country (16.9 percent) and Western New York (13.9 percent).

The report did not include scores for the “Big Four”cities of Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers. Information for these districts will be incorporated into the scoring for their respective cities and reported by the Comptroller later this year.

The Comptroller’s office also has looked at the fiscal stress levels of New York state’s municipalities. As reported earlier, the city of Fulton is listed as moderate stress. Another Oswego County municipality on the list is the town of Parish, which is listed as susceptible to fiscal stress.

Elizabeth “Betty” Ellsworth, owned Ellsworth’s Red & White Grocery, Econ-Wash Laundromat

Elizabeth  I. “Betty” Ellsworth, 93, of Phoenix, NY, passed away Thursday Jan. 16, 2014 at the Syracuse Home Association, Baldwinsville.

She was born in Phoenix June 3, 1920 to her late parents, Ora V. (Dolbear) and Claude P. Wallace. She was valedictorian of her graduating class, Phoenix High School, class of 1938.

Betty was owner/operator of Ellsworth’s Red & White Grocery Store, and Econ-Wash Laundromat, both located in downtown Phoenix, for many years, before closing and late sold. She also was owner of the coin-operated car wash located on Davis Street.

Betty was a member of the Phoenix United Methodist Church and it’s Women’s Fellowship organization; Ladies Auxiliary of the Phoenix Memorial Post 5540, VFW; Eastern Star; Century Club member and served as an officer; Topics Club; treasurer of T.O.P.S. organization; and an avid bowler.

Besides her parents, she was predeceased by her husband of 36 years, Arthur R. Ellsworth on Sept. 18, 1976; her three sisters, Mary Fryer, Marjorie Myers and Geraldine Miklada, all in 2012.

Surviving are her daughter, Jo Anne “Jody” Brooks Ryan and her husband, Harvey Ryan; her son, Arthur Craig (Mary) Ellsworth of Pennellville; four grandchildren, Heather (Jim) Stagnitta, Aaron Brooks, Amanda Ellsworth, and Kevin Ellsworth; two great-granddaughters, Elizabeth “Beth” Stagnitta, and Emilee Stagnitta; one brother, Earl “Cactus Bob” Wallace of Baldwinsville; one sister, Eleanor Fisher of Fulton; several nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Services will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday Jan. 22, 2014 (today) in the Allanson-Glanville-Tappan Funeral Home, Phoenix, with the Rev. Lauri  J. Craig officiating. Burial will be in Phoenix Rural Cemetery, 126 Chestnut St..  Phoenix.

Calling hours were Tuesday at the funeral home at 431 Main St..

Contributions in Betty’s memory to: Century Club, or the Phoenix Public Library, 34 Elm St., Phoenix, NY 13135

Honorary chairpersons sought for fundraiser

Oswego County Opportunities is focusing on eliminating hunger this year and is conducting its OCO “Retro Bowl” fundraiser to help the effort.

The “Retro Bowl” is the agency’s annual bowling tournament fundraiser set for noon to 6 p.m. April 5 at Lakeview Lanes in Fulton.

This event will raise money to help feed the hungry throughout Oswego County.

In keeping with this focus, OCO is inviting restaurant owners in Oswego County to consider serving as honorary co-chairs of the Retro Bowl. OCO is asking honorary co-chairs to:

** Commit to donating a portion of the proceeds (recommended 10% or more) from meals served at your restaurant during the day and hours of your choosing during the month of March.

** Donate two gift cards redeemable at your restaurant, or two gift baskets, to be raffled off at the Retro Bowl on April 5.

In return, the businesses will receive the following:

** Promotion of your business as a sponsor and co-chair through news releases, posters, flyers, the OCO website and social media and an event program booklet

** Your promotional materials will be handed out at the event

** You or your designee can participate in opening ceremonies for each flight of bowling on April 5 and say a few words to the hundreds of bowlers and spectators in attendance

** A free team for your business to use and join in the fun, or donate to OCO consumers who cannot afford to register a team of their own

Call OCO Executive Director Diane Cooper-Currier by Feb. 5 at 598-4735 or email her at dcurrier@oco.org if you are interested in participating or would like more information.

Retro Bowl registration is $100 and  opens Feb. 3 for five-person teams, with choice of flights: Noon – 2:30 p.m. or 3:00 – 5:30 p.m. (first come, first served).

Businesses and individuals are invited to donate door prizes for the raffles and silent auction, and major sponsors are being solicited as well.

OCO donations now as easy as buying off Amazon

Did you know you could help others in your community just by shopping?

Oswego County Opportunities (OCO), a nonprofit agency that offers 50 programs and serves hundreds of families and individuals throughout Oswego County, has teamed with Amazon.com’s AmazonSmile program to allow you to do just that.

AmazonSmile, a program of the AmazonSmile Foundation, will donate 0.5 percent of the purchase price from your eligible AmazonSmile purchases directly to OCO.

It is a simple and automatic way for you to support the work that OCO does at no cost to you.

To shop at AmazonSmile log onto www.smile.amazon.com from the web browser on your computer or mobile device. On your first visit simply select Oswego County Opportunities as the charitable organization to receive donations from your eligible purchases before you begin shopping.

Your choice of OCO will be stored and all future eligible purchases you make from AmazonSmile will result in a donation to OCO.

“We are excited about our participation in the AmazonSmile program,” said Betsy Copps, director of information and compliance for OCO.

“Smile.amazon.com offers the same prices, selection and shopping experience as Amazon.com with the added bonus that a portion of your purchase price will be donated to OCO to help others right here in Oswego County,” Copps said.

“Those that currently shop on Amazon.com may use their current Amazon account and items eligible for donations will be clearly indicated on their product detail,” Copps said.

There is no cost to OCO or to AmazonSmile customers. Purchases through AmazonSmile may be made using an internet browser on a desktop or laptop computer, mobile phone or a tablet.

All payment methods available on Amazon.com are available for use on AmazonSmile.

“Our collaboration with AmazonSmile provides community members with a convenient way to support OCO and our many human services programs,” said OCO Executive Director Diane Cooper-Currier.

“We are always looking for new and creative ways to help raise funds that benefit the nearly 30,000 consumers OCO serves each year,” she said. “This method works without any extra effort. You just shop; donations are calculated automatically. What could be easier?”

OCO’s website also contains an online donation section where donors can use a credit card through PayPal.

“This has been a popular option for those wishing to donate in honor or in memory of a loved one, or a former employee of the agency,” Cooper-Currier said.

While monetary donations are always beneficial, Cooper-Currier continued, the agency also welcomes in-kind donations of professional services (legal, consulting, graphic arts, media) as well as gently used home furnishings, appliances, clothing, toys, linens, and more.

“We have consumers in crisis situations who come to us with only the clothes on their backs,” she said. “Your donations help them get a new start. We can find an apartment for them, but they need just about everything to make it a home.”

For more information about donations or sponsorship of OCO events, call Cooper-Currier at 598-4717. If you have household items, clothing, baby items, personal care items, or food donations, call Sandy Wells at 598-4717.

Fulton senior dining center menu

Fulton Senior Dining and Activity Center lists its menu for the week of Feb. 3:

Monday Feb. 3 — Lasagna roll with meat sauce, green and yellow beans

Tuesday Feb. 4 — Macaroni & Cheese, stewed tomatoes, California blend veggies

Wednesday Feb. 5 — Baked chicken thigh, creamed potatoes, zucchini and tomatoes

Thursday Feb. 6 — Boneless pork chop, stuffing, peas and carrots

Friday Feb. 7 — Hamburger, garlic red potaotes, veggies

Lunch is served at noon. The daily activity is at 11 a.m. For reservations, call Eileen 24 hours in advance at 592-3408.

The dining center is operated by Oswego County Opportunities. For more information, visit www.oco.org.

Oswego Community Christian School prepares for open house

Students at Oswego Community Christian School, which serves pre-kindergarten through grade eight, are inviting everyone to their annual Open House from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 4.

If there is inclement weather, the open house will be Feb. 11.

Everyone is invited to come and meet teachers and parents, review curriculum and tour the school, located at 400 E. Albany St. in Oswego. Refreshments will be served.

Call the school at 342-9322 with any questions or visit www.MYOCCS.org. OCCS has been offering a value-based Christian education since 1979. 

Celebrate Groundhog Day at Amboy 4-H Environmental Education Center

Celebrate Groundhog Day at the Amboy 4-H Environmental Education Center, Route 183 in eastern Oswego County by snowshoeing in search of Amboy Annie, the center’s resident woodchuck.

The event is at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 2. Perhaps Amboy Annie can help determine if spring will arrive early or late. Participants are encouraged to dress warmly and in layers. Outdoor footwear, winter boots that can be strapped into a snowshoe, should be worn. Sneakers and fashion boots with heels will not work. Snowshoes are free of charge. There is a program fee of $3 per person or $12 per family. Children under 3 are free.

Valley Viewpoints

Residents thank sand owner

We wanted to write and thank William Simmons for offering his sand to the County for use on the roads in the winter.

In July, Kurt Ospelt wrote the Hannibal planning board that the county has “abandoned its plan to open a sand pit on the Beckwith property immediately” after it was found out the road to the sand pit had been put in illegally. This left the county without sand on the west side of the river.

The neighboring towns, at the direction of Mr. Ospelt, this year had to get their sand from the Scriba pit instead of the transfer station for whatever reason.

At a recent Town of Hannibal meeting, Terry Wilbur got up and said ‘if you have sand, contact Kurt Ospelt and the county administrator, they need sand for this side of the river.”

Mr. Simmons has a sand pit right near Mr. Beckwith’s sandpit and Mr. Simmons already has a road to it and the pit was already permitted by the DEC for mining a few years ago.

This is a wonderful opportunity for the County to get sand and not have to spend any more money to get to it after they’ve  already spent anywhere between $15-43,000.00 and up on the illegal road.

Mr. Simmons sent a letter on October 9 to Kurt Ospelt offering his sand. The letter reads as follows:

“Dear Mr. Ospelt, In light of the situation in Hannibal, I feel obligated to help the taxpayers of Hannibal and inform them that my sand is for Sale. My sand pit is located off of Mill St in the Town of Hannibal. It will be available for $1 a cubic yard. This should eliminate a lot of previous problems with access to available sand. There is already an access road to the sand pit off Mill Street and it has already been permitted in the past. This would decrease the amount of truck traffic through the center of town. I believe it would be a more cost effective alternative for the taxpayers of Hannibal. Sincerely, William Simmons”

Again we would like to thank Mr. Simmons for stepping up and helping out the residents of Hannibal and the surrounding towns who will use the sand.

Bill and Barb Bogacz

Josh and Molly Bomgren

Tim Harmon

All of Hannibal

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