Holiday concert at St. Francis Commons

Oswego Middle School’s “Con Brio” singers, accompanied by members of the middle school band, treated residents of St. Francis Commons Assisted Living Residence to memorable holiday concert.

Students performed a selection of holiday favorites, including “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Frosty the Snowman,” “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing,” for the residents and their family members who were in attendance.

“It is always a treat to hear such a talented group perform,” said Peg Livoti, director of activities at St. Francis Commons.

“Our thanks go out to all the student performers, to Mr. Paul Brewster, and to Mr. Jim Peer, Band Director at the Oswego Middle School, who coordinated this performance,” Livoti said.

St. Francis Commons Assisted Living Residence is the newest phase of development on the St. Luke healthcare campus, located on the east side in the City of Oswego.

The campus also includes St. Luke Health Services, Bishop’s Commons Enriched Living Residence and Little Lukes Childcare Center.

Oswego school board wraps up business for 2013

Submitted by the Oswego school district

The final regular meeting of 2013 was conducted by the Oswego school board on Dec. 18.

The board accepted a $60,180 grant  to extend universal pre-kindergarten and approved an agreement with First Step Universal Pre-K to support the extension of the district UPK program. (See more on this page.)

New Superintendent Ben Halsey said he was continuing his entry plan and had continued to be involved in a variety of visits, duties, programs and projects.

He said he had attended numerous school district holiday concerts and it was a “pleasure to see the connection between students and teacher” who are involved in the touted music program.

Under “Items from the Board,” board member Thomas DeCastro asked if the board would review its policy for appointing a member to the BOCES board to represent the Oswego City School District.

Currently, Dave White represents the district. He was on the Oswego school board when he was appointed to the BOCEs board, but now isn’t on the Oswego school board.

His term expires in the spring, but DeCastro asked if there was interest in having White continue in the BOCES position. Board members supported White, but stated the policy on appointing BOCES board members may need to be amended.

Board member John Dunsmoor asked the superintendent to provide direction to the school attorney in regards to tax PILOTs (payments in lieu of taxes).

He also mentioned he had spoken with a member of city government in regards to the possibility of the district taking over the two municipal skating rinks. Dunsmoor said this was just a discussion with one person, but there might be a possibility and asked to research into this area.

 Regular Meeting Actions

** Approved a field trip for the Oswego Middle School French Club to Montreal on May 9-10

** Approved creation of a JV winter guard for students in grades five through 12 and a winter drum line program at the Oswego High School.

** Accepted the resignation of Mary Beth Fierro as a mathematics teacher. She took a leave to serve as Oswego Middle School prinicpal and recently received tenure as principal.

** Appointed  Michelle Emmons as a regular substitute as a mathematics teacher thru June 30, 2014.

**Granted leaves of absence for Special Education teacher Melissa Guild and elementary teacher Samantha Spaulding

** Approved probationary  appointments for elementary teacher Carolyn Slobodian and Samantha Spaulding (OMS Reading).

** Approved Lee Williams and William Carney as permanent school bus drivers and Geoff Marsh as permanent head automotive mechanic.

** Accepted a $132 donation from Target for Frederick Leighton Elementary School and entered into an agreement with Oswego County Opportunities involving  the extension of the runaway-homeless youth specialist.

School board committee meetings will be at 5 p.m. Jan. 8 in the Oswego High School Anthony J. Murabito Media Center.

Polar Express gift shop pulls into Dillon Middle School

Submitted by Oswego County BOCES

The Polar Express rolled into the Phoenix Central School District on Friday Dec. 20, bringing with it plenty of Christmas cheer.

Students at Emerson J. Dillon Middle School had the opportunity to shop for family members as they perused a wide selection of gifts that were donated by staff and community members.

The annual event, which began more than a decade ago by the school nurse and school psychologist, has transformed into a gift-giving extravaganza, said school psychologist Jill Lunn.

“It started out with just a few kids who came down and teachers had brought a few things in for those couple of kids to wrap and take home to give to family members,” Lunn said. “(Since then) they have expanded it and asked for donations from all the staff. Each team nominates children to come down to shop. Every year it gets a little bit bigger and we get more and more and more (donations), which is wonderful.”

Although the donations were a bit scarce at the beginning of December, Lunn said a final push helped send the donations over the top, guaranteeing at least 205 students would be able to bring a gift home for family members.

“Monday there wasn’t nearly as much stuff, so I sent out an email to staff and said that we have more kids than ever … and they rallied and they brought in so many things,” Lunn said. “We have a lot of community members who donate. What’s incredible too is some of our families who could probably use a little help around the holidays also give.”

For student Love Phillips, Polar Express was a chance to provide a good Christmas for her three brothers and parents. That feeling of giving, according to Lunn, was what the initiative was all about.

“We wanted to do something a little different and let the kids know what it feels like to be able to give, and very rarely do we get a student who asks for something for themselves,” Lunn said.

While the shopping was a major part of the event, faculty and community members were also on hand to wrap each gift.

“Certainly we couldn’t do it without the community volunteers, district administrators (and) the teachers that donate. They give up their planning periods and their lunches to help wrap. It’s teamwork. It takes everybody,” Lunn said.

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.

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