By Colin Hogan
Organizers are getting ready for the 34th annual Memorial Day Salute in Fulton, which will be held this year on Saturday, May 23.
True to tradition, the celebration will kick off with the annual Memorial Day parade through town at 10 a.m., which this year will be themed “Remember Those Who Served.”
In a release on the parade, the Memorial Day Salute Committee said they wanted the theme to encourage thanks from the community to all those who have served in conflicts past and present.
“Our community has many heroes who are serving or have served in the present conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as veterans who have served their country over the years. These men and women ask for nothing from their fellow American citizens, so it is time to honor them on this Memorial Day weekend. Therefore, this year‘s parade is in honor of all those who have served their country,” the committee stated.
So far, at least 10 bands have signed up to participate in the parade, including the G. Ray Bodley High School Marching Band, Central New York Police and Firemen’s Band, City of Syracuse Highland Pipe and Drums, Camden Fife and Drum Corps, Central Square Middle School Band, Original Yanks Drum & Bugle Corps, Pembroke High School Marching Band, Naples High School Marching Band, Island Band and Downbeat Percussion — the official drumline for the Buffalo Bills.
The parade will also feature several floats made by local businesses and organizations. Organizers said anyone interested in entering a float, a marching group or a vehicle in the parade should contact parade chair Zach Menter at 591-4502 as soon as possible to get an application form.
Menter described this year’s lineup of floats and bands as “very exciting” and said that parade preparations have been going very smoothly.
“Everything seems to be coming together well,” Menter said. “We’ve got a lot of good stuff going on this year, and a lot to look forward to.”
Serving as the parade’s grand marshall this year will be John Young, Fulton’s 2015 “Veteran of the Year.”
Each year, the celebration is coordinated by members of Fulton’s four service clubs —Kiwanis, Lions, Sunrise Rotary and Rotary — as well as some city officials and representatives from the Fulton Veterans Council. MDS Committee Chair Larry Macner said the committee has been doing “a fantastic job” pulling the event together.
“Everyone on the committee is working really hard and doing great just getting everything together,” Macner said. “We’ve got some really good talent on that committee and all the work they’ve put into this over the years has made the process easy.”
While the formerly two-day event was reduced to only one day last year, publicity chair Holly Carpenter noted that the rides are still expected to be set up Friday evening and would be open for kids to use then, even though the event doesn’t formally start until Saturday morning.
Providing entertainment Saturday evening will be reputed central New York show band The Billionaires.
Macner said, in addition to coming out and enjoying the fun and entertainment, he hopes community members will remember the real reason they’re celebrating that weekend.
“We only have two holidays a year for our veterans, so we hope people take the time to think about what this is all for, in addition to enjoying the entertainment,” Macner said.
Both Carpenter and Macner said, as it has been every year, the event’s turnout will largely hinge on the weekend’s weather.
“Last year the weather was great and we had a really big turnout, but the year before it was raining and attendance suffered,” Carpenter said.
Macner said the committee will be checking the forecast for that weekend “up until the last minute and be hoping for the best.”
To learn more about this year’s event or to reach out to the committee, visit www.fultonmemorialdaysalute.com.
By Matthew Reitz
Over 500 people showed up to see Josh Batsone in concert at the Fulton War Memorial on Friday night.
Fans of Batstone and NBC’s “The Voice” got the chance to see a performance many of them had long been waiting for after his stint on the program in March. Diane Garcia of Oswego, who brought her 10- and 12-year-old grandsons to the concert, said they are big fans of “The Voice” and felt let down after Batstone appeared only briefly.
Garcia said she and her grandsons were excited about the concert and the opportunity to meet Batstone afterwards.
“It’s special when it’s somebody local,” Garcia said.
The 18-year-old Fulton native was accompanied on stage by 26-year-old Billy Harrison of Syracuse. Harrison also accompanied Savannah Harmon, the opening act.
In interviews prior to the event, Batstone said he was excited for the concert in his hometown, and saw it as an opportunity for the community to come together for a night.
“This is a moment we can come together as a community,” Batstone said as he began the show.
The nearly two-hour performance was followed by a meet-and-greet with the crowd, in which Batstone, Harrison and Harmon spent roughly another two hours taking photos with fans and signing autographs. The trio stayed until they got a chance to meet every fan.
Batstone’s parents, Nicole and Michael, said they were “very happy” with the concert’s turnout, with Michael noting that the crowd was “respectful and impassioned.”
Nicole said her son’s rise to notoriety has been “a little overwhelming,” having been by Josh’s side through his time on “The Voice,” and said it was hard to describe what the experience has been like.
“It’s a journey and you just see what happens,” Nicole said.
After the concert, Batstone called the show “an incredible success” and thanked everyone for coming.
“It was pretty awesome — my first concert after ‘The Voice,’” Batstone said. “The turnout was exactly what I was expecting.”
Batstone said he has a few more concerts in the works and would like to record an album in the not-too-distant future.
“We are definitely going to try to get an EP out,” Batstone said.
Nicole said Batstone planned to use some of the money from the concert to help pay for time in a studio. A portion of the proceeds will also go to Fulton Knee High and Lady Raiders basketball.
Batstone said he will have at least two more concerts in the area before moving to New York City to pursue a career in music. He is excited to be performing June 5 at the Westcott Theatre in Syracuse. His mother said he would also be playing at the 93Q Summer Jam on June 8 in Baldwinsville.
By Colin Hogan
Scores of emergency responders representing nearly 20 agencies battled a massive wildfire outside of Phoenix Sunday that claimed over nine acres of wooded ground and more than 400 discarded tires.
For more than five hours Sunday, 12 emergency response agencies from Oswego County and four others from Onondaga County, along with state forest rangers, collaborated to tackle a fire that officials say burned through about 9.5 acres of wooded ground over the course of the day, including roughly a quarter-acre’s worth of discarded tires that were in its path. The fire, which was called in a little before 3 p.m., was located beyond a residential area between state Route 48 and the Oswego River in the vicinity of County Line Road.
Oswego County Fire Coordinator Don Forbes estimated that anywhere from 400 to 450 tires were caught up in the blaze.
“Those were the stubborn part. That’s what took so long. We ended up having to bring in a lot of water to get the tires out,” Forbes said.
Throughout the day, departments had five tanker trucks continuously hauling water to the scene, as well as the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office’s Air-1 helicopter dropping loads of water from above. Heavy equipment was also used to break up the piles of burning tires to make them easier for firefighters to manage, Forbes said.
Forbes said conditions were optimal for a wildfire to spread, with warmth, low humidity and winds all culminating to create a critical environment. As of Monday, Oswego County was one of several throughout the region to have a red flag warning in effect with regard to fire conditions.
“The reason for the red warning right now is high heat, low humidity and winds, which are ideal for brush fires,” Forbes said. “People think that since we had a lot of snow melt that it’s not dry out there, but it’s very dry. We haven’t had much real rain in the last month or so, and it’s not as wet out there as people think it is.”
The fire mostly spread along the wooded area’s undergrowth. Forbes said the flames were “not very big, but just kept running” due to the location and weather conditions.
Firefighters set up two areas from which to stage their efforts: one along September Drive and the other off County Line Road. Combating a fire in that area took serious physical effort from those involved on the ground, with firefighters having to navigate through thick undergrowth in their heavy gear. Forbes said a forest ranger also led a crew through the area cutting down dead trees and clearing other things that might contribute to the spread of the fire.
“Woods are hard to access, and these guys were out there with tanks on their backs and dragging equipment along with them,” Forbes said. “We’re talking about a lot of hard work and a lot of manpower used to get this done.”
Officials believe the fire was started by a resident in that area burning trash in a burn barrel, which Forbes noted is illegal. The county’s burn ban, which went into effect in mid-March, remains in effect until mid-May. Forbes said, in addition to the burn ban, the county has a policy that prohibits the burning of trash year-round.
“When the burn ban expires in a couple weeks, people can have campfires and other small fires, but they still can’t have burn barrels for trash and garbage. That is banned all year long,” Forbes said.
Forbes said the state Department of Environmental Conservation is in charge of investigating the incident, and will ultimately decide whether tickets and/or charges will follow.
N&N Studio of Dance will present its annual recital, entitled “Uptown Funk” this year, on Friday, May 8 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, May 9 at 1 p.m. at G. Ray Bodley High School in Fulton. Tickets can be purchased at the door.
This year’s “Live Local, Shop Local” campaign commences Monday, a market event with more than two dozen area businesses and organizations participating to share and promote the value of supporting local business and fostering growth in the local economy.
The eight-week campaign, sponsored by The Palladium-Times, Valley News and Pathfinder Bank, has evolved over the last five years, culminating last year and this year in a drawing for a $1,000 shopping spree for participating businesses.
According to The Palladium-Times and Valley News publisher Jon Spaulding, the well-known red shopping bag logo materializes into an actual shopping bag this week, which readers of Monday’s Palladium-Times and Wednesday’s Valley News can find inserted into the paper.
Readers are encouraged to bring the bags with them while shopping locally throughout the event; bags will also be available at participating businesses where shoppers can fill out contest entry blanks. The more they shop locally, the greater their chances of winning the shopping spree.
“With Pathfinder Bank partnering with both The Palladium-Times and Valley News in the effort this year, we have been able to expand the reach of the message on the importance of shopping locally throughout Oswego County,” said Spaulding.
“Like our customers, we live, work and play here,” said James Dowd, senior vice president and chief financial officer of Pathfinder Bank. “Our success is intertwined with the success of the communities we serve.”
Dowd said local businesses are a “vital part of our community’s distinct character.”
“When we shop locally, we help these businesses and they, in turn, make a positive impact on the place we call home,” Dowd said.
Greg Mills, executive director of the Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce, said the campaign draws attention to products and services “right under our own roof,” shortening shoppers’ drive times and boosting the local economy in the process.
“I’ve been guilty of it too, thinking I’ve got to go to the mall or Syracuse,” Mills said. “But the last three Christmases I’ve been able to do all my shopping without leaving Oswego.”
The campaign coincides with National Small Business Week, and Mills expected it to increase traffic at local stores, markets and restaurants.
Chris Sachel, of Mimi’s in Fulton, said the diner likes getting involved in efforts promoting local county businesses, saying the campaign would “absolutely” inspire visitors to shop and eat locally.
“I wanted to help out the community,” Sachel said of participating.
Spaulding said The Palladium-Times and Valley News, as the county’s primary local news sources, was “happy to spearhead such initiatives,” and he thanked Pathfinder Bank for its continued support of the campaign.
“We challenge ourselves and our business partners to consistently grow the message each year,” Spaulding said. “This year’s campaign is already a winner, because everyone wins when you support local business and our local economy.”
By Colin Hogan
The deteriorating floor inside the Fulton War Memorial is slated to be completely replaced this summer with city officials currently awaiting bids for the estimated $333,450 project,
The 19-year-old floor has been in dire need of replacement, city officials say. Expanding rebar in the concrete compound beneath the surface has caused the material to spall, and a study done last year revealed that the floor contains a presence of mercury, as well.
The War Memorial plays host to big annual events like the Fulton Home Show, train shows and the circus, to name a few. It also provides the court for a men’s basketball league, which begins in November, a youth basketball league, which begins in December, and volleyball matches.
“It’s probably one of the most widely used buildings in the city,” Mayor Woodward Sr. said, “and when it’s not being used for the regular events there, people rent it out to host their own events.”
Woodward said if the floor isn’t replaced soon, the facility won’t be able to support those events.
“If we don’t do something with it shortly, they’re not going to be playing basketball or anything anymore,” Woodward said.
The project was originally planned for the fall of 2014, but was pushed back in an effort to not interfere with events and leagues scheduled to use the facility around that time.
On Tuesday, the Common Council agreed to extend the submission period for bids on the project from April 29 to May 6. Woodward said the project’s engineer needed to allow potential bidders more time because of the complexity of the work.
“That type of flooring is specialized, plus there’s mercury in the floor, so they’d need to make special arrangements to get rid of it and to get the EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) involved,” Woodward said.
He said corrosion from the floor’s drains is also contributing to the problem.
City officials now hope to begin the project by late May in order to have it wrapped up by late August. If they can finish the replacement within that time frame, Woodward said the project won’t interfere with the basketball leagues that use the floor in the fall.
City officials previously estimated that it would take three to four weeks to remove the rubber floor layer, another two to three weeks to remove the concrete, and about four weeks for the new concrete to cure.
Last fall, the city secured a $400,000 bond to finance the project.
By Matthew Reitz
A local Girl Scout troop was the latest to collaborate with Friends of Fulton Parks on cleaning up one of the city’s parks.
Girl Scout Troop 10771 recently cleaned up Rowlee Beach Park on S. 12th Street, and developed plans to beautify the area.
Kelley Weaver of Friends of Fulton Parks said the girls were active in the decision making and chose Rowlee Beach Park because of its setting.
“The natural beauty of this park, along with the wildlife at Sharp’s Pond makes it a perfect retreat for the scouts,” Weaver said.
According to Troop Leader Angela Stoutenger, it was the first time the two groups had worked together, and she considered the pairing a success.
Weaver said Friends of Fulton Parks and the troop plan to finish the project on May 4 when they complete the garden they’ve been working on and install geocache boxes.
The geocache boxes are “a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices,” according to www.geocaching.com. Geocaching participants can use a smartphone or other GPS-enabled device to search for the hidden geocache boxes using GPS coordinates.
Stoutenger said the girls earned woodworking badges for their hard work on the geocache boxes. She said they enjoyed the experience and it helped them learn how to work together to get a project finished.
“They actually had a blast,” Stoutenger said.
Stoutenger said the girls have wanted to bring flowers and geocaching to the parks for a year now and they were very excited. The geocache boxes will be placed around the city in May.
Weaver was happy to see kids having fun in the park.
“This park has a lot of potential for nature-focused activities, and it’s wonderful to see young people enjoying it,” Weaver said.