Packed house for Oswego City budget hearing Dec. 23

By Debra J. Groom

The Oswego Common Council unanimously adopted a budget for 2014 Monday night that will raise taxes by about $4.46 per $1,000 of assessed value for Oswego taxpayers.

That is much less than the original budget proposal that was going to raise taxes more than $8 per $1,000.

Also, the budget adopted Monday night reinstates 15 jobs that were going to be cut from the Department of Public Works and keeps Gallagher Pool open. Three positions in the codes enforcement office still remain cut in the adopted budget.

Also, the new budget includes 10-day unpaid furloughs for all city workers. Common Council President Ron Kaplewicz said this will have to be negotiated with employee unions, but he said it will be made clear to them that if furloughs are not taken, then job cuts will have to be made.

It was standing room only at the council chambers at City Hall as about 120 people showed up for the public hearing on the budget Monday night. A fire department official was counting poeple are they filed in to be sure the number did not exceed the fire code limit.

Twelve people spoke, many about keeping the codes enforcement office and DPW workers.

Barry McConnell, representing Local 200 United of the Service Employees International Union, told the council it would cost only 68 cents per $1,000 of assessed value to keep the 15 DPW workers on the job.

“I guarantee they will serve day after day, week after week and month after month,” he said of the workers. A huge contingent of SEIU Local United 200 employees were in the council chambers for the one-hour budget hearing.

Resident Sue Matthews told the council they have to continue pressing state officials for mandate relief.

Most local governments and school districts face mandates given to them by the state that they have to pay for and local officials say these mandates are too much of a drain on their budgets and taxpayers.

Cliff Wahrendorf told councilors they should try to come up with a way to obtain a user fee from properties that are tax exempt but still rely on city services.

Mayor Thomas Gillen and many councilors have said these properties, owned by city, state or county entities or nonprofits, receive snow removal, police and fire protection from the city but provide the city no payment in return and this is another drain on the city budget.

A couple of speakers also talked about raises being given to the police department and two councilors were serve as president and vice president of the council.

Common Council President Ron Kaplewicz explained the raise for him and vice president Mike Myers were approved nearly a year ago — at the 2013 reorganizational meeting in January. So these were not new raises

For the police, he said during police contract negotiations in the spring, it was found the city was losing a lot of young officers who were leaving to go to other departments where the pay was higher.

Kaplewicz said councilors decided lower pay scales had to increase to keep these younger officers in Oswego.

“After 10 years here, they could move to Fulton and make $10,000 more,” Kaplewicz said. “So we bumped the base salaries.”

Gillen’s preliminary budget increased taxes about 82 percent – from $10.03 per $1,000 of assessed valuation to $18.25 per $1,000. Owners of an average house assessed at $70,000 would pay $575 more in taxes in 2014 than in 2013 if cuts weren’t made.

The adopted budget raises taxes about 44.7 percent — from $10.03 per $1,000 to $14.49 per $1,000. This means owners of an average house assessed at $70,000 would pay about $312 more in taxes in 2014.

 

Hannibal school district emergency communication system goes live

Submitted by Oswego County BOCES

After several successful test runs of the Hannibal school district’s new emergency communication system, the notification tool has gone live.

The system, Global Connect, uses cloud-based technology that allows the district to call, email or text important information to parents, staff, board members and others. It can hold up to five different contacts per person.

“The way we’re going to start using it is as just a mass communication system, just in case there’s a school closing or emergency situation or if we wanted to notify people of anything that is coming up at the school,” said director of technology Matt Dean. “It’s more of an emergency notification tool than something for daily announcements.”

Test calls went out to administrators, staff and parents/guardians in late November.

Dean said all parents/guardians who are listed as a student’s emergency contact person should have received a telephone test call during the week of Nov. 25.

Those who did not receive a call are asked to email their contact information to globalconnect@hannibalcsd.org.

In addition to districtwide alerts, Global Connect has several other unique attributes, Dean said.

“It has the capabilities to notify just the football players if practice times have gone from a 4 p.m. start to a 5 p.m. start, or if it’s changed to a different location,” he said. “As long as the information is in our student information system or is in a spreadsheet I created … and that information is up to date, then they will get a phone call and notification.”

The system also can track calls to see if the call was answered, if a message was left or if a number was invalid.

It has the ability to survey each person on the contact list as well.

“The poll question is a nice feature,” Dean said. “We can generate a report and get a printout of how many people answered the question and what their answers were.”

With communication a primary objective of the district, Dean said Global Connect will satisfy that goal, as it provides a mass audience with instantaneous, accurate information — without jeopardizing anyone’s contact information.

New restaurant opens on Oswego Harbor

Alex’s on the Water, a new restaurant and bar located at 24 E. First St., Oswego, is open for business.

The restaurant is adjacent to the Best Western Plus Captain’s Quarters on the lower level of the Lake Ontario Event and Conference Center.

It is owned and operated by the Broadwell Hospitality Group, an Oswego-based hospitality company.

“We are very pleased to introduce Alex’s on the Water to the Central New York restaurant and dining scene,” said Alex Broadwell, Broadwell Hospitality Group’s director of marketing and accounts. “Alex’s truly offers amazing food with an incredible view.”

“We could not be happier with the tremendous feedback we have received about the restaurant, menu, and our waterfront setting,” she added.

Alex’s on the Water is located along the Oswego River overlooking the Historic Oswego Harbor on Lake Ontario.

An expansive exterior patio with seating, a full bar, fireplace and docking accommodations is also available.

Alex’s on the Water is open Monday through Sunday at 4 p.m., and Executive Chef Thomas Waite presents a diverse and expansive menu of starters, small plates, salads, pizzas, sandwiches, burgers, pasta, seafood, chicken, steak vegetarian and gluten-free entrees.

In addition, the restaurant also has a large specialty drink menu, wine and beer list, as well as dessert menu available for their patrons.

For additional information on Alex’s on the Water, visit its website at AlexsontheWater.com or like the restaurant at Facebook/Alexsonthewater.

Alex’s on the Water is available for walk-in dining or by reservations at 343-7700.

Broadwell Hospitality Group also oversees the management and operations of the Best Western Plus Captain’s Quarters Hotel, Quality Inn & Suites Riverfront Hotel, Lake Ontario Event and Conference Center, Alexandria’s Premier Lakeview Weddings, Bayshore, GS Steamers and the Captain’s Club.

Grant allows Oswego Pre-K to expand

Submitted by Oswego school district

The Oswego City School District recently learned it would be the recipient of the Expanded Half Day Pre-kindergarten Grant.

The funds received would allow the district to add an afternoon class of Universal Pre-K at Kingsford Park School and expand a current morning class at Leighton Elementary to full-day.

“The UPK teachers and staff strive to create a warm and nurturing environment for all our 4-year-olds,” said Cathleen Chamberlain, assistant superintendent for instruction and curriculum.

“The goals of the program are to meet the individual needs of four-year old children in the areas of social, academic, language, emotional and physical development,” she said.

The afternoon class at Kingsford will run from 12:45 to 3:15 p.m. and follow the regular school calendar. Transportation can be provided home; however, it is the parent’s responsibility to get the children to school.

This program will begin sometime in January. To qualify, a child’s birthday must fall between Dec. 2, 2008 and Dec. 1, 2009.

“We currently have a few openings for the Kingsford class,” Chamberlain said.

“If you are interested in placing your child in that class or have any questions, please call the curriculum Office at 341-2013. A registration packet will need to be filled out and returned to us,” she said.

Alice G. Smith, graduate of Fulton High School

Alice  G. Smith, 87, of Merritt  Road, Granby, passed away Tuesday Dec. 17, 2013 at Oswego Hospital.

Born Feb. 12, 1926, in Phoenix, N.Y., to her late parents, Florence (Patton) and Fred I. Smith.

She was a graduate of Fulton High School. Alice was a painter for General Electric Co., Syracuse, N.Y.

Alice was predeceased by her brothers Smith, Lawrence, Tom, Sam, Fred and Charles.

Surviving are her brother, Harold Smith of Granby; two sisters, Jane Didowski, former Weedsport resident, and Freida Mason of Baldwinsville; sister-in-law, Phyllis G. Smith of Granby; several nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Services were Monday Dec. 23, with the Rev. Terrance E. Millbyer officiating in the Allanson-Glanville-Tappan Funeral Home, 431 Main St., Phoenix, N.Y.

Burial will be at a later date in Merritt Cemetery, Granby.

Hazel Yager Brown, lover of music

Hazel Yager Brown, 96, of Phoenix, passed away Friday, Dec. 20.

She was born Aug. 14, 1917, the daughter of the late Royal and Ella (Thomson) Yager.

She was a 1935 graduate of Fulton High School and worked at Nestlé Co. from 1935-39.

Hazel married her husband Howard Brown in 1937 and lived in the hamlet of Jacksonville, town of Lysander, for 63 years.

She attended the Little Utica United Methodist Church and was active with the Granby and Jordan-Elbridge Senior Citizens.

Hazel had a love of music and continued playing the organ into 2012. She enjoyed crocheting and many crafts.

Hazel was predeceased by her husband Howard in 1976, and by siblings Emma Loveland Vollendorf, Jane Hungerford, Gordon, Leonard, Adelbert, Lawrence and Robert Yager, and a granddaughter, Tania Horner.

Surviving are her children, Jeanette (John) Horner of Elbridge, Ronald Brown of Syracuse and Wendy (Joseph) Borayi Jr. of Pennellville; grandchildren, John III, Joel (Lori), Jeffrey (Tina) and Donielle Horner; step-grandchildren, Joseph (Theresa) Borayi and Felicia Weber; great grandchildren, John Wesley, Ashley and Lizzie Horner and Michael Demascole; several step-great grandchildren, great great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews and a sister-in-law, Leone Yager.

Calling hours were Friday, Dec. 27, at Foster Funeral Home, 910 Fay St., Fulton, with services following.

Burial will be at Jacksonville Cemetery in Lysander.

Memorials are encouraged to the Little Utica United Methodist Church, 9100 Prine Road, Baldwinsville, NY 13027.

Anna Mae Ladd, worked at Nestles for years

Anna Mae Ladd, 74, of Sterling, passed away at home Thursday morning, Dec. 19, following a long battle with cancer.

She was born in Fulton, a daughter to the late Merton and Helen Beshures.

Anna graduated from Hannibal High School in 1957 and worked for Nestlé in Fulton for nearly 40 years until her retirement in 2002.

She is survived by her husband of 57 years, Robert E. Ladd; three daughters, Nancy (Anthony) Ladd Toscano of Martville, Roberta Ladd of Williamstown and Cindy (Richard Hillman) Ward of Hannibal; three sisters, Carol Strauts of Oswego, Linda Walters of Florida and Elizabeth McQuaid of Fulton; three brothers, John (Cindy) Beshures of Scriba, Richard Beshures of Fulton and Jack Beshures of Fulton; nine grandchildren; 14 great grandchildren as well as several nieces and nephews.

Calling hours were Dec. 23 with services following, at Foster Funeral Home, 837 Cayuga St., Hannibal.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in memory of Mrs. Ladd may be made to the American Cancer Society, Memorial Processing Center, 6725 Lyons St., P.O. Box 7, East Syracuse, NY 13057.

January is Stalking Awareness Month

By Ashley M. Casey

The U.S. Department of Justice defines stalking as “a pattern of repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact, or any other course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.”

Each year, 3.4 million Americans are victims of stalking. Most of them are between the ages of 18 and 24, and 80 percent of them are female.

While often difficult to prosecute, stalking is a major crime related to domestic violence.

Oswego County Opportunities’ Services to Aid Families (SAF) program is recognizing January as Stalking Awareness Month.

SAF is providing educational events and resources on stalking, domestic violence and how to maintain a healthy relationship — or how to escape from an unhealthy one.

(See the next issue of The Valley News for the list of Stalking Awareness Month events.)

“In terms of stalking, we offer a variety of legal services,” said Sarah Stevens, who works with SAF. “We assist victims in obtaining orders of protection, compensation or updates on a criminal case.”

SAF also provides free professional training sessions for employers who want to teach their staffs about domestic violence.

Stalking behavior takes a variety of forms. A stalker may follow his or her victim near their home or workplace, call or text them repeatedly, or threaten the victim and his or her loved ones and pets.

Stalking behavior can spread online as well, through unwanted emails and social media contact, or by tracking the victim’s whereabouts through “check-in” information on sites such as Foursquare or Twitter.

“We also talk a lot about Internet safety and stalking,” Stevens said. She suggested that if you are being stalked online, “change your phone numbers and your Internet passwords.”

While not all stalkers are violent, some may escalate their harassment to property damage, physical harm or worse. More than three-quarters of women murdered by their intimate partners were stalked beforehand.

According to the National Institute of Justice, only 15 percent of stalkers were prosecuted for their crime. Of that number, only 40 percent were actually convicted of stalking.

Oswego County First Assistant District Attorney Mark Moody said statutes for stalking are more specific than what most people would consider in the broader definition of stalking.

The statute requires a pattern of behavior that is “likely to cause reasonable fear of material harm to someone’s health, safety or property.”

“There are other charges that can be brought,” Moody said. “For example, if your tires are slashed, the (perpetrator) will be charged with criminal mischief. We might not be able to show there was a repeated course of conduct.”

Moody said some victims report only one incident to the police, but never return to report additional incidents which would point to a pattern of stalking.

“If we can’t prosecute this (particular incident) because the evidence isn’t sufficient enough to make an arrest, that doesn’t mean that’s the end of the case,” Moody said. “If you have another incident, go back to the police.”

To aid law enforcement in prosecuting stalkers, victims must document the crimes as best as they can.

“A detailed journal is probably the No. 1 way if they want (the stalker) prosecuted,” Stevens said.

“You document a pattern of behavior, the course of conduct that the statute requires,” Moody said.

Both Moody and Stevens said friends and family are important in helping a victim of stalking stay safe.

“If it’s an abusive relationship that has ended or (you) are trying to end, it’s important to create a safety net around you,” Moody said.

Stevens also offered suggestions for supporting victims of stalking.

“Believe them,” Stevens said. “Don’t ask judgmental questions. Respect their privacy and don’t tell others things the victim has asked you not to tell.”

Friends can help victims develop a safety plan or seek resources as well.

“Call our hotline if (you’re) not sure what to do,” Stevens said. “Being a nonjudgmental listener is the best option.”

SAF provides shelter for those who feel too unsafe to go home, as well as free “911 phones.” Stevens said the cell phones SAF gives out are not activated with cell phone plans, but they can still dial 911 in an emergency.

For more information about OCO’s resources for domestic violence victims, visit oco.org or call the Crisis and Development Services division at 342-7532.

What do I do if I am being stalked?

If you are in immediate danger or feel that your life is being threatened, call 911. Other important numbers: OCO’s 24-hour Abuse & Assault hotline, 342-1600; Fulton City Police Department (non-emergency) 598-2111.

Obtain an order of protection and keep a copy with you.

Keep a dated journal of each stalking incident (e.g., “Dec. 30, 11 p.m.: Stalker showed up uninvited at my home” or “Jan. 2: received flowers from stalker”). Save voicemails, letters or unwanted gifts as evidence. This documentation will help if you choose to press charges against your stalker.

Inform your family, friends, neighbors and employer that you are being stalked and ask them not to share information about you if the stalker approaches them.

Be careful of what you post on social media. Your stalker may try to use information about your location and activities against you.

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