Host families needed for foreign exchange program

The Greenheart of Cultural Exchange, a locally-run organization which promotes cultural understanding, academic development, environmental consciousness and world peace, is in need of good host families for students in January.

LindaJo Germain is the director of the program. Germain also is looking to expand the number schools which host foreign exchange students as well. For more information, contact Germain at 561-1068.

Views from the Assembly, by Will Barclay

On any given week, tens of thousands of unsolicited checks end up in New York residents’ mailboxes — making these checks easy targets for criminals looking to capitalize on someone else’s line of credit.

Last month, the governor signed a bill into law that will put the onus on those issuing checks if they are lost or get into the wrong hands.

I was pleased to support this in the Assembly. Hopefully, this measure will reduce the volume of checks like this and better protect consumers from fraud.

The bill, A3601, which became effective last month, aims to protect consumers from liability for unauthorized use of unsolicited convenience checks. These checks are mailed by credit card companies to account holders in the hopes that consumers take out more credit.

Many of people throw them out. It’s best to shred or destroy them somehow if you do not intend to use them.

The problem with the checks is consumers do not know when they are mailed. A few things can happen and do: the mail gets into the wrong hands and then, the check is cashed, or they are stolen if consumers simply place them in the recycle bin.

In the past, unless a consumer acted quickly and was able to convince the credit card company the checks were not cashed by the cardholder, the consumer is held liable.

With this new law, companies would be held responsible, not the consumer. It amends the general business law and adds a section, clearly stating that consumers sent such convenience checks by credit or debit card issuers shall not be liable for the use of such checks unless the consumer has accepted the check.

Hopefully those convenience checks will be reduced with this measure.

There are a number of ways scammers can infiltrate our finances. It’s important to remain vigilant and help loved ones to do the same.

Good guidance and tips, as well as scam alerts can be found on the State’s Division of Consumer Affair’s website at https://www.dos.ny.gov/consumerprotection/.

The site also contains good information on preventing identity theft. Unfortunately, seniors are unwitting targets of many types of scams.

A good number to keep handy is the Division of Consumer Affair’s phone number, (518) 474-8583 for guidance or assistance on consumer matters. Residents may also file a complaint there as well, and be placed on the Do Not Call list.

If you have any questions, comments or would like to be added to my mailing list, please sent a letter to 200 N. Second St., Fulton, 13069, or an e-mail to barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us or call 598-5185.  You can also friend me, Assembly Barclay, on Facebook.

Hodgepodge, by Roy Hodge

Dear Dad

First there was a note on my dresser with a message – Dear Dad, see page 242 in the Christmas catalog.

That subtle missive led me to a check mark in the Christmas catalog next to something called “Radio Controlled Fat Wheels.”

A couple of days later copies of an intricately prepared 15-item Christmas list began appearing around the house. Lest prospective readers of that list be discouraged by its length, asterisks led to a supplemental listing whereby each item was given a yes, no or maybe, denoting its importance.

Not surprisingly, the yes column held a healthy lead at last look, strengthened by number 13 – money, with its yes in capital letters.

Another sure sign of the approaching season – a few days ago we were asked for Grandma’s address. No doubt, in a few days Grandma will be receiving one of her annual letters reading something like this: “Dear Grandma, how are you and Grandpa? I am fine. Here are some things I would like for Christmas this year.”

Then will follow Grandma’s own copy of the hallowed list. And, if she’s lucky, it won’t even be a carbon copy. But the crayons will be getting dull by then.

I think I may have found something useful in all of those catalogs and TV commercials, though. Someone is advertising a durable 42-key toy typewriter. Could that lead to a much improved, neater Christmas list next year? Maybe even double-spacing.

-Hodgepodge, Nov. 20, 1979

Other Christmases

I started writing “Hodgepodge” in 1979. In December I wrote my very first “Christmas column.”

That year I wrote about people watching at airports, about letters kids wrote to Santa, and about one special letter I was given to mail that year: On the outside of the envelope was the following note: “Dear Santa (or Dad) please send a copy of this list to Grandma.”

The following year 1980, I wrote this column:

It’s a well-known fact that television watching is down this week before Christmas. I also read somewhere that people, this week when they are deeply involved with last minute holiday preparations, will just browse at the ads and the headlines in the newspapers.

That’s okay with me. If the readers are too busy to read, the writers won’t have to write. And it couldn’t come at a better time. Since I’m not going to write a column this week I won’t have to interrupt watching the 54th television special of the Christmas season.

I’m glad I’m not going to write a column this week. Instead of laughing at and cleverly detailing this last hectic week before Christmas, I can just ignore it and relax.

If I were to write an article this week I’d probably have to think of something cute to say about that last Christmas shopping expedition; the one you make a couple of days before Christmas – long after you have vowed not to spend another cent. That’s when you find yourself face to face with a sweet old grandmother who could probably go eight rounds with Ali and you’re having a tug-of-war over the last pair of stockings in your wife’s size.

Since I’m not doing a column this week I won’t have to go into detail about those Christmas letters we receive from our friends every year. The ones that go on and on about the many accomplishments of themselves and their kids and make you ashamed to look at your kids or into a mirror for a week.

Another good thing about not writing this week: I won’t have to agonize any further by telling readers about my annual five-hour bout during which I transform a beautiful tree growing freely in the great outdoors into a poor bedraggled heap of needles standing in the corner of my living room.

And best of all, if I don’t write a column this week, I won’t have to re-live in type those horrible hours spent every Christmas Eve assembling this year’s new toys.

It’s a real load off my mind now that I decided to take a vacation from writing this week.

If I were writing this week (but I’m not) there is one positive thing I would say:

Have a Merry Christmas.

No “Christmas column”

So for the next several years I didn’t write a “Christmas column” — my column the week before Christmas was about my pledge not to write a Christmas column. But I did and that week I wrote my last “I’m not going to write a column this week” column.

From December 22, 1986:

Some traditions aren’t all that easy to get established, but then again, they don’t die off without a fight either.

A few years ago I started what I thought would be a long standing tradition during the week before Christmas. I decided to write my Christmas week column about how I wouldn’t be writing a Christmas week column.

The problem is that some opposition seems to have grown up around that concept.

“Don’t tell me that you’re going to write that same old column about not writing a column.”

So, it’s time for a change in strategy. This year I’m not only not going to write a column; but I’m certainly not going to take the time to write a column about not writing a column. And that’s final.

Good advice from Dickens

Several years since then I have ended my Christmas week column with this:

Charles Dickens, who wrote and said a lot about Christmas said, “It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas when its mighty founder was a child Himself.”

Merry Christmas.

 

 

 

. . . Roy Hodge

 

Hannibal girls’ basketball loses a close one

By Rob Tetro

The Hannibal girls’ varsity basketball team suffered a heartbreaking season opening loss to Bishop Grimes Dec. 2 by score of 59-51.

After a back and forth first half, Hannibal built a lead during the third quarter, taking a 41-33 lead into the fourth quarter. But Bishop Grimes got right back in it down the stretch.

They stepped up its defense to trigger the rally. When regulation ended, the game was headed to overtime tied at 45.

Bishop Grimes carried its momentum into the overtime period. In the end, Bishop Grimes outscored Hannibal 26-10 during the fourth quarter and overtime to come away with the win.

Bishop Grimes struck first. They built a 5-point lead over the Lady Warriors during the first quarter. However, Hannibal fought back during the second quarter, outscoring  Grimes by 5 points to even the game at 23 headed into halftime.

The Lady Warriors kept it going into the third quarter. They pulled ahead to take an 8-point lead. Bishop Grimes began to put it together during the fourth quarter, storming back to force overtime with the game tied at 45. With momentum on its side, Bishop Grimes took care of business during overtime, outscoring the Lady Warriors by 8 points.

Hannibal was led by Devin Sorell and Gabby Griffin, who each scored 14 points against Bishop Grimes. Following Sorell and Griffin was Spencer Kenney with 13 points and Sydney Alton with 5 points.

Girls’ softball clinics begin Jan. 5

A girls’ fastpitch softball hitting/pitching clinic will be held Sunday mornings from Jan. 5 through Feb. 23 at the Oswego YMCA Armory.

The clinic is open to all girls in grades 5-12 who are interested in softball, and would like to develop their skills before the school or summer ball seasons begin.

Both beginners and advanced players are encouraged to attend.

Hitting will be from 8:45 to 9:45 a.m. each week in the Armory gym and batting cage. Each session will consist of a 20-minute presentation by a coach or guest clinician, and then the remainder of the hour will be hands-on hitting drills and/or practice in the batting cage.

Pitchers will also receive brief instruction weekly, then use the 10 to 11 a.m.  hour to throw under the supervision of the coaches.

Videotaping will be used as a teaching tool in later sessions for both the pitchers and hitters.

The cost of the clinic is $10 per hour for either pitching or hitting. For players who want to stay for both sessions, the fee is $15. Eight-session packages are $80 for hitting or pitching, $140 for both.

Pitchers must bring a parent or friend as a catcher. Hitters can bring their own bats. Sneakers are recommended. All other equipment will be provided.

The clinic is sponsored by the Amateur Softball Association, and local ASA youth commissioner Mike McCrobie. The clinic will be staffed by the OHS softball coaches, the Pride travel softball coaching staff, and alumni of the Oswego High School softball program.

No pre-registration is required, but for more information, you can contact McCrobie by phone at 343-8749 or via e-mail at coachmccrobie@gmail.com.

J.C. Birdlebough students show community leadership

Submitted by Oswego County BOCES

With the holiday season in full swing, members of the Leadership Program in the Phoenix Central School District are doing their part to make spirits bright.

The program, spearheaded by community member and volunteer service coordinator Cathy Lee, sponsors several initiatives throughout the year to aid local residents in need and help beautify the village.

Activities include summer beautification efforts to spruce up the community, a ball for senior citizens, a trip to the mall with senior citizens, and a homeless night to raise money for the Rescue Mission.

With two decades under her belt as the leadership program’s volunteer service coordinator, Lee said that there is nothing more satisfying than watching students giving back to their community.

“Seeing kids caring and sharing is rewarding,” she said. “Our formula is motivation and caring and sharing equals a leader, and I see that happen to all of the students who are in leadership group. Once they have that experience of caring or sharing, it causes them to be motivated to do more.”

During the holiday season, the leadership group is especially active as students ring the bell for the Salvation Army every day in November and December. They help out at the tree lighting ceremony and also collect winter hats, mittens and scarves for the homeless, and pack food boxes for 200 needy Phoenix residents.

“Pay it forward,” Lee said.

That sentiment is not lost on the recipients of the donated goods, nor is it lost on the student leadership group members.

“It’s fun to help out the community and make it a better place,” said John C. Birdlebough sophomore Tyler Gabriele while ringing the Salvation Army bell recently.

25 years later, campus remembers 2 SUNY Oswego lives lost in Pan Am 103 bombing

By Debra J. Groom

It began like any other winter’s night in Oswego.

Brisk air, snow, shoppers rushing around trying to finish their Christmas preparations. Most students had left the SUNY Oswego campus for their vacations at home.

Some locals may have been heading to Syracuse as the S.U. Orangemen were playing Western Michigan in a home basketball game that night in the Carrier Dome. Others may have been attending holiday parties.

Then came the horrifying news. A terrorist bomb had blown up a plane over Lockerbie, Scotland. All 259 on Pan Am Flight 103 were lost.

It was Dec. 21, 1988 – 25 years ago today.

As bits and pieces of information trickled in that night, the news became more and more grim for Central New York’s collegiate community.

On that plane were two SUNY Oswego students returning home from their semester studying in London. Lynne Hartunian, from Niskayuna, who was set to graduate in 1989, and Colleen Brunner, of Hamburg, on course to graduate in 1990, were both communications majors. Reports state the friends had stayed in England after classes ended to visit some other countries. They were sitting together — Lynne in seat 44D and Colleen in seat 44C – as they ventured home on Pan Am 103.

The Boeing jet, called the Clipper Maid of the Seas, also carried a Colgate University student and 35 Syracuse University students returning home from their semesters abroad.

Like the Kennedy assassination and 9/11 terrorist attacks, most everyone who was in Central New York Dec. 21, 1988 remembers where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news about Pan Am 103.

One is Fritz Messere, who was chair of the communications studies department at SUNY Oswego.

“When I first heard the news, I called the International Studies office,” he remembered this week. “I talked to Jose Perez, the director of International Studies. I said we know there were Central New York students on that plane. Were any of them ours?”

“I was hoping to hear the answer ‘no,’” he said.

Then the SUNY Oswego community found out the bad news.

“They were both liked very well. I remember one professor, Professor David Glick, called me in great distress. We were all terribly saddened.”

“I wrote notes to the families immediately,” Messere said. “And then we all wondered ‘what do we tell the students when they return to campus?’”

Betsy Oberst today is associate vice president for alumni relations and stewardship at SUNY Oswego. Twenty-five years ago, she also was working in the alumni office. She said at first, it was difficult to tell if any SUNY Oswego students were on Pan Am 103.

“We had 12 to 13 students studying in London that semester and they all came home on different flights,” she said. “It was devastating to learn we had lost two students.”

With few students still left on campus, the immediate impact with students was slight. She said unlike today with email, text messaging and Twitter, news did not travel as quickly from person to person.

And while Central New York was immersed in the tragedy because of the deaths of the SU, Colgate and SUNY Oswego students and a married couple from Clay, Oberst said it was possible for students who lived farther away to not even realize SUNY Oswego students were killed in the attack.

“Some may not have found out until they returned to campus in January,” she said. A memorial service for Brunner and Hartunian was held in Hall Newman Center after the new semester began.

“I remember so many people showed up that kids were standing in the parking lot unable to get in,” Oberst said. “The campus TV station videotaped it so they could watch.”

Both Oberst and Messere said Brunner and Hartunian were well liked on campus and involved in many activities. According to written reports, they both were members of Alpha Sigma Chi sorority on campus, a sorority devoted to helping others.

Brunner and Hartunian are remembered with a memorial in Penfield Library, complete with photos and a recounting of their time at SUNY Oswego, Messere said. Oberst said they also are remembered through the Alumni Association. In fact in 2014, the Class of 1989 – Hartunian’s class – will have a special ceremony remembering her during their 25th year reunion.

The Alumni Association also is still is touch with their families, Oberst said.

“It is definitely an event that had a tremendous impact on Central New York,” Messere said. “It was a terrible day.”

 

 

 

Want to make your own maple syrup? Here’s how!

By Ashley M. Casey

As a child, Rich Finzer hated maple syrup.

His grandfather in Tupper Lake used to send Rich’s parents a gallon of “Fancy” grade each Christmas. After just a taste, Finzer swore off the stuff until adulthood, when he stopped by a roadside stand in New Hampshire and picked up a bottle on a whim.

“There had been a total change,” recalled Finzer, “and I loved the stuff.”

Although he once turned his nose up at the sticky-sweet amber breakfast condiment, Finzer is now the award-winning author of a book on how to produce maple syrup.

“Maple on Tap: Making Your Own Maple Syrup” was released Dec. 15, 2012, by Acres USA, a publisher that mainly focuses on organic and sustainable farming.

Finzer’s sugaring journey began a little more than two decades ago, when he bought a farm in Ira, where he now lives (just over the border of Oswego County). He decided to try his hand at his grandfather’s pastime.

“The first year went very badly,” he said.

But Finzer and his friend and sugaring partner, the late Paulie Bartkowiak, didn’t give up. Their persistence paid off in 1995, when they won a blue ribbon at the New York State Fair for their medium amber maple syrup.

More than 20 years after that first botched attempt at making syrup, Finzer has snagged the Independent Book Publishers Association’s 2013 Benjamin Franklin Award Gold Medal in the Crafts/Hobby/How-To category. “Maple on Tap” is the first Acres USA book to win an IBPA award.

“In the 25 years that Acres USA has been in business as a publisher, none of their books had ever won an award,” Finzer said. “The greatest kick is they initially rejected it.”

Finzer, who is a retired technical writer for firms such as IBM and Bristol-Myers Squibb, began his writing career as a cub reporter at a weekly newspaper in Cortland, in 1970. In 2007, he branched out into freelance writing. More than 1,100 of his pieces have appeared in print and on the Web.

He is also the author of two novels, “Taking the Tracks” and “Julie & Me.”

Finzer said his book offers a variety of methods for tapping trees, and offers superior — and cheaper — sap collection and storage methods.

“What sets it apart from other books about sugaring (is that they) don’t have my credentials. They don’t have a blue ribbon,” he said.

The book’s path to publication was a rocky one. His sugaring partner passed away in 2011, the first graphic designer and editor quit, and Acres USA had to print the book in China because of overbooked printing schedules.

Finzer recalled his new Texas-based editor, Fred Walter, told him, “Rich, I have never seen a book as snake-bit as this.”

Despite all the bumps along the way, “Maple on Tap” was ready for sale just before last Christmas. Sales have been trickling in since then, and Finzer has been featured in The Post-Standard, The Palladium Times and The Nashua Telegraph (of Nashua, N.H.).

For now, Finzer is taking a break from writing, though he said he is considering writing a screenplay in the future.

“I’m resting on my laurels,” he said.

 Where to buy the book

For a signed copy of “Maple on Tap,” write to Rich Finzer at 13070 White Cemetery Road, Hannibal, NY 13074. The price of the book is $15.95, plus $5.90 for priority mail shipping.

“Maple on Tap” is also available at the river’s end bookstore in Oswego, Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.

Your hometown. Your news.