Fulton-Oswego Faith Partnership receives grant for backpack program

Fulton-Oswego Faith Partnership, consisting of churches in Fulton and Oswego, recently received a $5,000 “Lutheran Community Matthew 25: Neighbors in Need”  challenge grant from the Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Foundation.

The funding was awarded to the “Blessings in a Backpack” Program, based on its effectiveness in addressing physical, emotional and/or spiritual needs in the local community based on Jesus’ words in Matthew 25: 35-36.

For every dollar raised from donors by March 31 for “Blessings in a Backpack,” the foundation will provide an additional 50 cents — up to $5,000 — in support of the organization’s ministry.

Donations for the Program can be sent to any of the partnership churches.

The “Blessings in a Backpack” program helps children from low-income famlies have food to eat on the weekends throughout the school year.

Working with the schools to identify those in need, the Faith Partnership is providing healthy weekend meals for 100 students in Fulton and Oswego.

“Many families whose children receive reduced or free lunches in school may need assistance with meals on the weekends,” said the Rev. Richard Klafehn. “Our Blessings in a Backpack program provide 50 children in Oswego and 50 children in Fulton with additional food so that they may enjoy healthy meals over the weekend.

“The Blessings in a Backpack program is another way in which we reach out to the youth of our community to help them reach their true potential,” Klafehn said.

Fulton-Oswego Episcopal-Lutheran Faith Partnership includes Prince of Peace Lutheran in Fulton, Grace Lutheran Church and the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Oswego.

Klafehn, and assistant pastor, the Rev. Anne Wichelns, share ministerial duties at the three churches.

Founded in 1982, the Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Foundation is a private foundation that operates exclusively for charitable, educational and religious purposes.

Grants are provided for projects and missions that reflect Thrivent Financial for Lutherans’ charitable interests.

The primary charitable interest of the foundation is assisting nonprofit organizations and those they serve in achieving economic security and sustainability.

To learn more about the foundation and its programs, visit: thrivent.com/foundations.

Fulton couple receives thank-you from Will and Kate

By Ashley M. Casey

For the past four years, Karen and Jack Sushereba have been writing and illustrating books and stories for their 14 grandchildren’s eyes only.

But just before Christmas, the Susherebas decided to share their latest story with someone else — the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

The idea came from a distant noble connection. Karen said an ancestor of hers had been dubbed a knight, so she and Jack shipped a copy of their self-published book “Special Moments” to Kensington Palace, where Prince William and his wife, the former Kate Middleton, reside.

“We said, ‘Why don’t we just send them a copy and see what they think?’” Karen recalled.

The book included several short stories, photos and drawings done by Karen. Jack did most of the writing.

Together, they created a fictitious tale about their granddaughter called “Emma Visits the Queen of England.”

A few weeks went by, and the Susherebas had not heard anything more about their gift to the royals.

But on Jan. 13, they received an envelope postmarked from Buckingham Palace.

“When I saw that it said ‘Buckingham Palace,’ I almost passed out,” Karen said of her excitement.

The letter was sent by Claudia Spens, MVO, head of general correspondence for the Office of Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales.

“Their Royal Highnesses are most grateful to you for taking the trouble to send them the copy of your book, ‘Special Moments,’” read the letter inside.

“It really was most thoughtful of you and The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have asked me to send you their warmest thanks and best wishes.”

Karen said she has been “on Cloud Nine” since receiving the letter.

“I was just so elated that they took the time to do it,” she said.

Jack and Karen have written and illustrated more than 55 stories and 13 books for their grandchildren, working with an online publishing service to print the books.

Sister raises money for gym floor, clock in memory of brother

Michael E. Clark was a beloved coach in the Fulton Youth Basketball League.

When he died suddenly and unexpectedly in December, boys in Fulton, other coaches and Clark’s family were devastated.

Now, Clark’s sister, Nancy Clark of Williamsville, near Buffalo, wants to remember her brother by helping the place where he spent so much time.

Nancy has started a fund drive through gofundme.com to raise money to help pay for a new gym floor at the Fulton War Memorial.

The gym is home to the Fulton Youth Basketball League and its nearly 400 children in grades kindergarten through six who are learning the game.

“He loved the boys on the basketball team,” Nancy said of her brother, who was the assistant coach for the grade five and six team.

“My grandson is on that team and he really looked up to his Uncle Mike.”

Clark, 55, of Liverpool, was Christmas shopping Dec. 18 when he died of a sudden heart attack.

Nancy said she was extremely close to her brother, texting or talking to each other “four or five times a day.”

In fact, the day he died, he texted her at 4 p.m. He died about four hours later.

“He was very sports-oriented and worked the drills with the kids,” said Chris Atwater, Nancy’s son-in-law and coach of the boys’ grades five and six team.

“He also would coach the kids on the bench. He enjoyed the kids. He was attentive to them and would even go to other events for them,” Atwater said.

Clark spent time “on the side” working with team member Justin Atwater, Chris Atwater’s son.

“The boys were upset when he died,” Atwater said of Clark. “At our game on Dec. 21, Mike’s father had come up and we dedicated the game to Mike

and had a photo taken of the team and Mike’s father.”

Jerry Schremp, head of the Fulton Youth Basketball Program, said the rubber gym floor at the Fulton War Memorial is 18 years old (eight years past its prime) and starting to bubble.

“The rubber is breaking down,” he said. “It’s not dangerous, but has to be replaced.”

Schremp said it will cost about $100,000 to replace the floor.

Atwater said the game score clocks also need replacement.

Schremp found out it will cost more to replace the broken parts than to buy new clocks.

The money raised by Nancy may go toward the clocks.

“This is my mission,” Nancy said. “This is big for my mother, big for my sister, big for all of us.”

Her goal is to raise $5,000. As of Wednesday, the site had raised nearly $500.

To Help

To donate, go to
gofundme.com/65wh14.

Click on the blue donate box.

You also can click on Facebook to share the page with others to gather more donations.

Fulton Junior High receives $500,000 grant

By Ashley M. Casey

Fulton Junior High School has received a $500,000 grant from the NYS Community Schools initiative to provide certain social, health and academic services to students and community members.

Oswego County Opportunities and the Oswego County Department of Social Services will partner with the junior high for the program.

Director of Student Support Programs Geri Geitner unveiled the tentative plan for the Community Schools grant at the Jan. 14 school board meeting.

The grant will help create an extended learning program for students in grades five through eight, opportunities for immunization and wellness clinics, and other social services available to the community.

It also includes a partial restoration of Runaway and Homeless Youth Services.

“Because of funding reallocations within the state, the two full-time (positions) went down to a half-time,” Geitner said. “We wrote in the grant to restore that to one full-time position.”

The district will spend the first six months of 2014 in a mandatory planning period for the project implementation.

Officials will determine what educational and community services will be available through the junior high and recruiting staff for the various services, which will begin July 1, 2014.

“Are there services that will be provided to parents as well (as students)?” asked board President David Cordone.

Geitner said the program would not be “just student-focused.” Some of OCO’s and DSS’s services will be “co-located” within the junior high.

Board member Christine Plath asked if the program will focus only on at-risk student populations.

“It will include all students, but the initial focus is on at-risk students,” Geitner said. “(The program will) remediate barriers to learning and set goals.”

Geitner added while the grant estimated a number of 80 target students, “there is no limit to the number of students that can access this.”

Space, funding and regulatory limits will help determine what specific health services will be provided, though Geitner said the district is looking into vaccination clinics and wellness screenings.

“We could have covered a wall with what we would like to have, but we had to cut down and prioritize,” said Betsy Conners, executive director of instruction and assessment.

OCO helped the district write the 60-plus pages grant request in a period of about nine days. DSS is providing additional funding.

“It really helps us refine our focus so we can apply for more grants in the future,” Geitner said.

Superintendent Bill Lynch thanked OCO and DSS representatives who attended the board meeting for the “very strong, collaborative partnership” among the school district and those agencies.

“It’s very gratifying to have these partnerships,” Lynch said.

Update on Volney, Fairgrieve
renovations

As part of the capital project approved by district voters in 2012, major overhauls are coming to Fairgrieve and Volney elementary schools.

Director of Facilities, Operations and Transportation Jerry Seguin told the board updates to electrical and data wiring as well as asbestos abatement will begin in both buildings during the February recess.

Contractors will work double shifts Feb. 14-23 to finish as much of the project as possible while school is out of session.

Contractors’ bids are expected next week, and the schools will send letters home to parents informing them of the work being done.

Ceiling tiles will be removed to replace wiring, so some asbestos removal and aesthetic work will be done as well.

The district is hiring separate contractors for each building.

“If they run into a problem in one building, it won’t affect the other building,” Lynch said after the board meeting.

Three sixth-grade classrooms on the second floor of Fairgrieve will be temporarily moved for the abatement and renovation process, some of which will take the rest of the year.

Other classrooms will be displaced after the break until the end of the year.

“Once school starts, electrical contractors can come in during the second shift to do the wiring,” Seguin said.

“No one will be working during instructional hours,” Lynch assured the board.

Contractors will work 4:15 p.m. to 12:15 a.m. after school and double shifts on days when school is not in session, excluding weekends, to finish the project by June. By then, the yet-to-be-approved 2014-2015 capital project is expected to have begun.

Coming up

A public forum with three board members and the superintendent will be held from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., Jan. 25, in Room 130 of G. Ray Bodley High School. Coffee will be served.

The next school board meeting will be held 7:30 p.m. Jan. 28 at the Junior High School.

The public hearing regarding the upcoming 2014-2015 capital project vote will be held 6:30 p.m. Jan. 29 in the Lanigan Elementary School Media Center.

Voting for the capital project will take place 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Feb. 4 at all elementary schools, as per the school board election and budget voting patterns.

SUNY Oswego selected to be part of online degree project

The SUNY system has selected SUNY Oswego’s online master’s in business administration (MBA) and MBA in health services administration to join only six other degree programs in the soft launch this spring of Open SUNY.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher introduced the new Open SUNY+ degree programs during her annual State of the University address Jan. 14 in Albany.

“Open SUNY will provide our students with the nation’s leading online learning experience, drawing on the power of SUNY to expand access, improve completion and prepare more students for success,” Zimpher said.

She noted the online degrees “will completely redefine access to a college degree in our state” and reach people “on their terms — in their homes and communities, and on their time, adapting to their schedules.”

The first Open SUNY degrees were chosen based on factors including student interest, accreditation and capacity to meet current and future workforce demand throughout New York state.

“We are proud to have our online MBA and our MBA/HSA as the only graduate programs in the first wave of Open SUNY,” said SUNY Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley. “All the qualities that make our programs great will be available throughout SUNY and beyond as premier online offerings.”

Just this month, U.S. News ranked Oswego’s online MBA programs No. 14 in the nation, praising the level of student engagement and faculty expertise.

Princeton Review lists Oswego’s School of Business — which is accredited by AACSB International, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business — among the best in the Northeast.

Other campuses with degree programs in the initial rollout of Open SUNY are Stony Brook University, Empire State College, SUNY Delhi and Broome and Finger Lakes community colleges.

Students will enroll in each program through the campus that hosts it.

“Each home campus enrolls the students, confers the degrees and provides student services,” said Greg Ketcham, director of academic programs for Oswego’s Division of Extended Learning, who has long been instrumental in the instructional design and delivery of online courses at SUNY Oswego.

“We are looking at Open SUNY as the next-generation effort for what online courses should be in order to be the best possible experience for students,” Ketcham said.

Rigorous model

SUNY Oswego was an early adopter of modern alternatives to traditional classroom teaching and learning.

“Oswego has a long record of leadership in online education,” Ketcham said. The college started offering online classes in the mid-to-late ‘90s, he said, and was among the early members of the SUNY Learning Network, a partnership of more than 30 SUNY campuses that has provided support in the areas of best practices in teaching, technology, student and faculty support and marketing services.

Oswego and SUNY recognized that moving a course or an entire degree program — or an entire system’s worth of courses — online is not just “a flip of a switch,” Ketcham said.

His staff works closely with faculty in a mentored process to transform course content for the online world.

Stephen Aschkenes, a senior marketing major at Oswego, was chosen to attend a brainstorming session on Open SUNY last fall. He said the three online courses he has taken proved to be rigorous and collaborative experiences that included required online discussion of texts, videos and other students’ posts.

“You need to participate — you can’t just sit in the back of the class,” Aschkenes said. “From that aspect, I liked it.”

Open SUNY will eventually encompass every online course offered at every SUNY campus, the chancellor said, “and make them easy to find and accessible for every SUNY student.”

SUNY’s signature initiative will offer online courses and programs with a comprehensive suite of supports and services to aid in degree completion.

Built-in supports will include 24/7 assistance for students, whether they need technical help, tutoring, financial planning or academic advisement services, as well as a Center for Online Teaching Excellence where faculty can opt-in to training programs and online forums to broaden their knowledge about developing effective online courses or share best practices and learn directly from colleagues across SUNY.

SUNY Oswego receives largest single gift in its history — $7.5 million

SUNY Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley announced today (Jan. 17) that the college has received the largest single gift in its 153-year history: a $7.5 million gift from the estate of Oswego County resident Lorraine E. Marano, an education enthusiast.

The gift establishes the Nunzio “Nick” C. and Lorraine E. Marano Endowment, which will be used primarily to fund scholarships for students with financial need, especially those who are first-generation college students.

“Lorraine Marano’s profound understanding of the transformative powers of public higher education is affirmed by this extraordinarily generous gift,” said Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley. “Her gift will help put a college education within reach for many students, fulfilling their hopes and dreams and investing in a better future for all of us, as our graduates forge productive lives in their communities. We are deeply honored by her confidence in establishing the Marano family legacy at SUNY Oswego. It will live on for generations.”

 Lorraine Marano openly discussed her admiration for SUNY Oswego and believed the college was worthy of a gift of such magnitude because of the benefits it accords to students through academic programming, committed faculty and staff, and strong, imaginative leadership.

“A highly educated woman, Lorraine believed in the value of education and considered this a gift to the entire community,” noted Theresa A. Sugar Scanlon, a close friend of Lorraine. “Her confidence in President Stanley’s leadership and the extraordinary opportunities that the college provided to its students were instrumental to her decision. She hoped to help keep a college education affordable for all students, especially those who are the first in their families to attend college.”

 

One Oswego County school district on state comptroller’s fiscal distress list

The Oswego City School District is the only one in Oswego County on the list of fiscally distressed districts issued today 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.

Today’s announcement does not include scores for the dependent school districts in 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 later this year.

DiNapoli said 587 districts have been classified as “no designation.”One school district continues to have its information vetted and is classified as “data inconclusive,”and one school district has yet to submit necessary financial information to the Comptroller’s office and is designated as “have not filed.”

Ranked as “no designation” districts are Altmar-Parish-Williamstown, Central Square, Fulton, Hannibal, Mexico, Phoenix, Pulaski and andy Creek. Oswego was listed as “Susceptible to Fiscal Stress.”

According to a report issued today 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 were also found to have a much higher likelihood of using short-term borrowing to bridge cash flow gaps.

Fiscally stressed school districts also share a number of environmental themes, according to DiNapoli’s report. Although many factors are outside a district’s control, they can drive additional costs or hurt the district’s ability to raise revenues. For example, fiscally stressed school districts were more likely to experience declining property values, high poverty rates and low school budget support.

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;
  • The percentage of school districts in fiscal stress exceeded 30 percent in six counties –Chemung, Clinton, Madison, Montgomery, Niagara and Tioga;
  • 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).

Oswego County Health Department warns Sandy Pond residents about flooding

Sandy Creek – Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang advises residents and property owners near North and South Sandy Ponds to be aware of signs of flood damage to septic systems, wells, and homes.

General information on what to do during and following a severe weather event or power outage, and how to prepare for severe weather events and power outages, is contained in the NYS Department of Health’s publication “Don’t Be Left in the Dark.” The booklet is available at the Sandy Creek Town Hall, and online at http://www.health.ny.gov/publications/7064.pdf  and www.oswegocounty.com.Additional emergency response information is posted online at http://www.health.ny.gov/publications/2708.pdfhttp://www.health.ny.gov/publications/2752.pdf  and on the Oswego County web site at www.oswegocounty.com.

Huang said wells which have been covered with floodwater should be disinfected. Residents who need information about having their well water tested should contact the Oswego County Health Department, 70 Bunner St., Oswego, at 315-349-3557 or 1-800-596-3200, ext. 3557, weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. The health department offers a walk-in sampling program where homeowners can bring a sample of water in and have it tested for coliform. There is a $10 fee.

“If the area around your well gets flooded or if you suspect that your well is contaminated, you need to disinfect the water in the well before using it for drinking, cooking, hand washing or brushing your teeth,” said Huang.

Huang and Oswego County Emergency Management Director Dale Currier offer these flood safety tips:

During a flood:

–          Monitor NOAA Weather Radio and Emergency Alert System stations.

-          Disconnect electric appliances that can’t be moved. Do not touch them if you are wet or standing in water.

Travel with care:

-          Watch for washed out roads, broken water or sewer mains, loose or downed electrical wires, and fallen or falling objects.

-          Watch out for areas where rivers or streams may suddenly flood.

-          Do not attempt to drive over a flooded road or through standing water.

After a flood:

–          Before entering a building, check for structural damage. Turn off any outside gas lines at meter or tank. Let the building air out to remove foul odors or escaping gas.

-          Upon entering the building, use a battery powered flashlight. Do not use an open flame as a source of light. Gas may be trapped inside.

-          Watch for electrical shorts and live wires before making certain the main power switch is off. Do not turn on electrical appliances until an electrician has checked the system.

-          Throw out any medicine or food that has had contact with flood waters.

-          Test drinking water for potability. Wells that have been covered with floodwaters should be pumped out and water tested for drinking.

-          If the water system is declared unsafe by health officials, water for drinking and cooking should be boiled vigorously for one minute. In an emergency, water may be obtained from the hot water tank or by melting ice cubes.

-          Shovel out mud with special attention to cleaning heating and plumbing systems.

-          Flooded basements should be drained and cleaned as soon as possible. Structural damage can occur if drained too quickly. When surrounding waters have subsided, begin draining the basement in stages, about 1/3 of the water volume each day.

-          Do not handle electrical equipment in wet areas. It should be dried and checked before use.

-          Report broken utility lines to police, fire, or other appropriate authorities.

-          If floodwaters cause an oil spill or any type of petroleum release in or near your home, contact the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation spill hotline immediately at 1-800-457-7362 to report the spill.  If oil is mixed with water that has flooded your home, do not pump the oil water out into your yard. Contact the DEC spill hotline to request assistance.

Town and county officials continue to monitor the situation closely. Highway Superintendent Michael Kastler said roads in the area, especially ones that have had water over them, are being watched carefully.

Town residents with questions or needing assistance other than life-threatening situations may email the town supervisor atscsupervisor@frontiernet.net, or call the town hall at 315/387-5456, ext. 5 during business hours. For updates, people can go to the town’s web page atwww.sandycreekny.us.

In an emergency, call 9-1-1.

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