Quirk’s Players holding fundraiser Saturday

QuirksPlayersQuirk’s Players of G. Ray Bodley High School will hold a chicken barbecue dinner from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Fulton Polish Home, 153 W. First St. South in Fulton. The event will include a meal prepared by Fricken Chicken, with music provided by Mystic Music Entertainment. Additionally there will be gift baskets and a dessert table. Proceeds will help the Fulton students present this year’s annual school musical. Pictured here finalizing details for the event are, from left, Brandon Webb, Erica Perwitz, Zach Almeter, Sarah Fisch, Tim McAfee, Gina Babcock, Michael Mankiewicz, Victoria Eckhard, David Houck and Quirk’s Players’ Assistant Director Rob Lescarbeau.
Photo provided

Report: Fulton’s fiscal stress improved since previous year

City still carries ‘moderate’ stress
Staff Report

The Office of the State Comptroller released an annual report Wednesday denoting the levels of fiscal stress felt by municipalities throughout the state, two of which are located in Oswego County.
The report, which is based on the 2014 fiscal year, takes into account an end of the year report submitted by municipalities to the comptroller’s office and considers environmental factors as well as financial ones, such as major population demographics and government spending.
Those factors are assigned point values by the comptroller’s office, with “significant” fiscal stress, the most serious rating, reflecting a score of 65 percent or more of those points, and “moderate” fiscal stress reflecting 55 percent to 64.9 percent.
If a municipality appears to be headed towards fiscal stress, earning a score between 45 percent and 54.9 percent, it is rated as “susceptible to fiscal stress.”
The financial indicators include a municipality’s year-end fund balance, cash position, operating deficits and use of short-term debt to determine how stressed a municipality is. The environmental factors account for areas such as the population size, its age, poverty levels and sales tax revenue.
The more points accrued by a municipality, the more severe their fiscal stress, according to DiNapoli’s report.
According to Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, the city of Fulton is considered to be in “moderate fiscal stress,” while the town of Parish is considered to be experiencing “significant fiscal stress.”
Fulton Mayor Ron Woodward said the city had been on DiNapoli’s list since 2013, which accounted for the 2012 fiscal year, and that the primary reason for the stress was the lack of industry in the city.
Fulton scored 57.5 percent of all possible points for the 2014 fiscal year, stemming primarily from a low unassigned fund balance of $123,389. Woodward pointed to the closure of both the Nestle and Birds Eye plants as causes for the city’s prolonged rating.
“When Nestle left so did its $22 million payroll,” Woodward said, saying the city’s residents struggled to make up for the absence.
He also pointed to cost-cutting tactics employed on the city’s end to try and combat the issue and lower spending by changing full-time positions to part-time ones and combining others. He described the staff as “bare bones.”
Fulton’s score is actually down from the previous year’s, which came in at 64.2 percent, though Woodward was unable to point to any specific cause.
Fulton Common Council President Larry Macner also pointed to the absence of industry, and specifically high-paying jobs, as a major factor in the rating.
“We need more higher paying jobs. Fast food (jobs are) nice but we need industries like we used to have so people could be able to afford more, but industry’s are leaving all over,” Macner said.
He pointed to the recent news of the possible closure of the James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant as another example, saying it “would be terrible” if the plant were to actually close.
The decision regarding its fate is to be made by the end of the year; the plant currently employs more than 600 people.
Macner also placed blame on New York state’s government for not releasing more aid to the city, as well as holding out on funds intended to help with the demolition of the old Nestle plant to make way for new businesses.
“There’s been a lack of action on the government’s part,” he said.
The town of Parish also made it into the report, though the town is rated as experiencing a significant level of fiscal stress, which is the most serious designation.
According to data available on the comptroller’s website, the town of Parish earned 69.2 percent of all possible points, up 15 percentage points from the previous year’s rating of 54.2 percent.
The data points to a low fund balance as well as a high amount of short term debt — $240,000 — which is nearly half of the town’s $470,475 in revenue.
Town officials were unable to be reached for comment by press-time.

Fulton Memoir Project reflects on city’s public servants

Local author Jim Farfaglia, who helps members of the community craft stories each year for the Fulton Memoir Project, speaks during the presentation of this year's memoirs at Cayuga Community College Wednesday evening.
Local author Jim Farfaglia, who helps members of the community craft stories each year for the Fulton Memoir Project, speaks during the presentation of this year’s memoirs at Cayuga Community College Wednesday evening.
By Matthew Reitz

“My father once saved a young boy from drowning in the Oswego River,” Kathy Andolina read aloud from a memoir written by Fulton’s Roxanne Stuart. “He was walking in front of the Fulton Public Library on his way to the police station when he heard someone calling for help from behind the building.”
Stuart’s story about her father, Thomas Frederick Alnutt, and four generations of civil servants in her family was one of nearly 25 shared by community members at the Fulton Public Library’s 2015 Memoir Project presentation on Wednesday.
Each year, members of the community gather to share their memories of Fulton and craft short memoirs along a certain theme to complete the year’s Memoir Project.  This year’s theme, “Services that Strengthen Our Community,” brought contributions from many local officials, firefighters, police officers, EMTs and their families. On Wednesday, they read excerpts from what they wrote at Cayuga Community College.
“We have a lot of stories to tell, and I’m sure there’s a lot more out there,” said Betty Maute, director of the Fulton Public Library, which coordinates the project each year.
Maute introduced the program and said the project seems to be doing well in its third year.
Local author Jim Farfaglia, who works with contributors on their writing, presented each of the speakers and thanked local officials and community members for their participation. Farfaglia said over 100 memoirs have now been collected as part of the project, and it continues to grow.
“When we originally came up with the idea we thought of the services provided by the city of Fulton—our firefighters, our police officers, that sort of thing,” Farfaglia said.
As time went on the program expanded to include a wide range of services in and around Fulton, he said, including non-profit organizations and those that preserve the city’s history.
Farfaglia said each year when the project begins he wonders how they are going to get enough memoirs to fill a book. He said they offered “memory circles” at the library to encourage people to think about local history.
William “Bud” Dyer, an early participant, remembered his grandfather, Edward Dyer, who was among the first police officers in the city of Fulton. Edward had served as the city’s second chief of police from 1914 to 1942 at a time when Fulton, and police work in general, was much different than it is today.
“As a youngster I can remember visiting my grandfather up in the station,” an emotional Dyer said. “It’s hard to imagine what life was like when my grandfather was appointed police chief in 1914—a time without modern conveniences.”
There were no traffic lights until the 1920s, and Dyer said, each night, police lighted red lanterns at dangerous intersections to alert drivers to use caution. In his grandfather’s early days on the force, police didn’t have radios in their vehicles, either, and communication was a major obstacle.
“Think of trying to maintain law and order with no communications to reach the police on the beat,” Dyer said. “In order to solve the communication gap with the officers on the beat patrol, a telephone pole call box was installed. Call boxes were mounted on poles located strategically around the city, and each had a very loud horn that could be heard from blocks away.”
Farfaglia interviewed Mayor Ron Woodward Sr. and helped shape a memoir around some of the stories the mayor shared. He said he felt lucky to have the mayor be “so open and candid” during his interview. Woodward reflected on some of the stories others told, and then shared his own narrative about being drawn into politics and some of the challenges he’s faced in his years in office.
Woodward said it’s not always easy to make things better, and “some of the hardest things you’ll ever do in your life are the things that are right.”
The evening featured more light-hearted tales, as well, like Lt. Jason Delano sharing a series of short anecdotes about animal mishaps at the Fulton Police Department. Delano read excerpts from several police reports, including a missing boa constrictor that was later found warming itself on the back of a refrigerator, and an incident involving a skunk with a spice jar on its head.
“He (the responding officer) covered the skunk with a blanket, got it in a headlock and removed the jar,” Delano said. “He was sprayed during the process, and his partner watched and laughed during the event.”
Farfaglia said copies of this year’s Memoir Project are expected to be published by mid-November, and will be available for purchase through the Fulton Public Library. Proceeds from the sales will benefit the library, he said. For more information, contact the library at 592-5159.

Greenleaf: Dog control officer never violated spending limits

By Matthew Reitz

After recently coming under fire from some town officials over mileage claims, Hannibal Dog Control Officer Theresa Penfield says she never violated any rules — something the town supervisor affirms.
At last month’s meeting, the Hannibal town council approved changes to the mileage claims policy, including a 20-mile round-trip restriction for calls within the Town of Hannibal and a 130-mile limit on necessary trips to Lollypop Farm in Fairport, where Penfield often brings unclaimed animals. Town councilor George Ritchie said changes needed to be made to the policy to ensure Penfield couldn’t submit excessive mileage claims, and used language that suggested she had been improperly taking money from the town.
Penfield responded to those remarks this week, saying she never took anything, nor did she violate any rules by calculating mileage from her home in Scriba instead of the Hannibal town line.
“He said I’ve taken $10,000 (over time),” Penfield said about Ritchie’s comments. “No, I haven’t.”
Penfield said her budget goes in front of the board every month, and mileage claims and other expenses are scrutinized and voted on. She said no one has ever had an issue with her mileage or budget until recently.
“For nine-and-a-half years I’ve never had an issue,” Penfield said. “No one ever had a problem. I did my job, and everyone was happy.”
In recent months, Ritchie brought the mileage matter to the attention of the town board after he and Gary Thompson, a candidate for town council, looked at past mileage claims and concluded Penfield was calculating mileage from her home in Scriba, rather than the town line, which they say is improper.
Town Supervisor Ron Greenleaf confirmed that the town never had a formal agreement in place regarding mileage, and Penfield has never gone over her department’s contractual spending limits. He hopes everyone can move on from the issue.
“Anything in the past is in the past,” Greenleaf said.
Ritchie previously said Penfield had travelled as far as Alexandria Bay to pick up a rescue dog and charged the town for the 139 miles. Penfield has since clarified that the trip was to drop off a dog whose adoption she had arranged, not to answer a call.
Greenleaf said Penfield is a “very caring person,” and has been an asset to the town over the years. He said if the town put all the animals down, its costs would double. Bellintegrator – Our technology partner!
“I’ve tried to save them (the town) money over the years and still have the dogs cared for in a proper, humane manner,” Penfield said. “The only time I’ve taken dogs from another township is when it’s a 9-1-1 call.”

Out-of-use river turbine being refurbished

Staff Report

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced $175 million in awards to clean energy projects across the state this week, $1.3 million of which has been allotted to a 20-year contract for a refurbished hydroelectric turbine in Fulton.
Andy Davis, a community relations manager for Brookfield Renewable Power Inc., the company that owns the turbine, said the award will fund the refurbishing of an out-of-service unit on the Oswego River near Lock Three.
The contract will be between Brookfield and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), and was one of five projects to have been selected as a winner from a wide-ranging pool of applicants, according to the governor’s announcement.
Support for these awards comes from New York’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, which is an initiative that encourages the development of sources of renewable energy throughout the state.
The Fulton unit has been out of commission for “about two years” according to Davis, who said Brookfield applied for the award “a couple years ago.”
Brookfield’s project is the smallest out of the five recipients, according to a release, which states that, once operational, the turbine will be a 560-kilowatt minimum flow system. Holiday in Greece – holidaygreece.eu
“Bringing this unit back to service will provide renewable energy to several hundred homes in the Oswego area,” Davis said, noting that Brookfield would also be repairing a second turbine at the same location at its own expense.
While the award has been announced, Davis explained that there was still most likely a year before the hydroelectric unit would be operational.
“We’re hoping to start the project in June 2016 and finish it up in the fall,” he said, noting that the company had to put bids out for the project’s contract and custom-made materials would have to be ordered.
“It’s going to take some time,” he added.
According to the governor’s announcement, every dollar invested in these projects creates approximately $3 in economic benefits to New York state.
These awards, which will be opened again in 2016, are part of the state’s efforts to meet its “Reforming the Energy Vision Goals” – an initiative to increase the amount of electricity brought to New Yorkers from renewable sources.

Police: Brawl led to July hit-and-run, multiple arrests made

By Matthew Reitz

Fulton police recently charged four people following their investigation of a hit-and-run incident outside of Shotz bar in July.
Police say Michael A. Kessler, 24, of Fulton, Marquis D. Andrews, 23, of Fulton, Kevin L. Waugh Jr., 24, of Fulton, and Bryan M. Whelan, 46, of Pennellville, had all assaulted Michael K. Stafford III outside the bar around 2 a.m. on the morning of July 31.
Following the alleged assault, Stafford reportedly got into his 2011 Kia and recklessly drove the vehicle into a group of eight people standing on the sidewalk in front of the building.
Stafford reportedly struck and injured three people with the Kia — including two of the men who allegedly assaulted him, along with one bystander — before fleeing the scene of the incident.
A lengthy investigation began with police executing a search warrant at the bar and seizing video of the incident.
The video evidence led police to Stafford, who admitted to being involved in the incident, according to police.
Police said interviews with Stafford and other patrons of the bar led investigators to witnesses, and ultimately the arrests of Kessler, Andrews, Waugh and Whelan.
Stafford, 30, of Fulton, has been charged with class D felony counts of second-degree assault, third-degree criminal possession of a weapon and eight counts of first-degree reckless endangerment.
According to police, an arrest warrant has been issued for Stafford, who is currently incarcerated at the Willard Correctional Facility in Seneca County for a parole violation.
Kessler, Whelan and Waugh have been arrested and charged with one count of third-degree assault, a misdemeanor.
Police said the three men intentionally engaged in the physical altercation. They said Waugh initiated the fight by rushing Stafford and pushing him to the ground.
Police say Kessler, Andrews, Waugh and Whelan then punched and kicked Stafford causing facial swelling, bruising to the left eye, and a loss of consciousness.
Whelan was additionally charged with one count of second-degree strangulation, a class D felony, for allegedly choking Stafford during the fight and causing him to lose consciousness.
The motor vehicle incident following the alleged assault caused injuries to Kessler, Whelan, and Cindy Coe, 45, of Baldwinsville.
Kessler was treated for fractured vertebrae, and Whelan and Coe suffered minor bruising and abrasions.
A criminal summons has been issued for Andrews, who remains at large. Kessler, Whelan and Waugh were arraigned by Judge David Hawthorne and released on their own recognizance.

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