Dead waterfowl found along Oswego County’s Lake Ontario shoreline

Type E botulism has again struck the eastern basin of Lake Ontario this fall resulting in sizeable mortality in migrating waterbirds.

Reports from the public and field investigations by DEC crews indicate at least 200-300 common loons have washed ashore along northern Oswego County and Jefferson County shorelines.

The loon deaths were all attributable to type E botulism. Long-tailed ducks, grebes and gulls also have been found.

A mortality event involving this many loons has not been seen on Lake Ontario since 2006.

Type E botulism is caused by a bacterial toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum, a widespread bacterium in the sediments of the Great Lakes.

Certain environmental conditions cause this strain of Clostridium to produce a toxin that can spread through the food web of the lakes. First documented in waterbirds from Lake Michigan in the 1960s, type E botulism was recorded irregularly for three decades in the lower Great Lakes.

Since the late 1990s, however, type E botulism in birds has become an annual event in one or more of the Great Lakes resulting in very large kills in some years.

Two non-native species, round gobies and quagga mussels, appear to play a key role in this change of pattern. Botulinum toxin, generated in the vicinity of mussel beds, possibly in rotting mats of algae, is picked up by the filter-feeding mussels.

The mussels are the preferred food of the round goby, a small bottom-dwelling fish that is very sensitive to the toxin.  Intoxicated gobies in turn become easy prey for diving waterbirds, such as loons, grebes, and some duck species.

The remains of gobies are the most common component in the stomach contents found in botulism-killed diving birds. Since the emergence of this new disease system, thousands of birds have perished annually.

To date in 2013, all known botulism mortality in diving birds in New York has been confined to the eastern basin of Lake Ontario.

Bird carcasses did not wash ashore until late October, the majority arriving in the last two weeks. In past years, mortality events have not occurred much later than the third week of November therefore DEC biologists do not anticipate much additional mortality, although carcasses may continue to wash ashore for a while longer.

The public is encouraged to report dead birds to the regional DEC offices.  Carcasses contain small amounts of toxin and pose some threat to animals that feed on them.

DEC has removed carcasses from portions of state-owned shoreline. Shoreline residents are encouraged to bury carcasses if feasible.

To report dead birds found in Jefferson County, contact the DEC at 785-2263; to report birds found in Oswego or Cayuga counties, contact the DEC at (607) 753-3095, extension 247.

Public hearing Dec. 11 on proposed new water district in Hannibal

A public hearing is scheduled for today (Dec. 11) at the Hannibal town hall concerning a proposed new water district.

Hannibal Supervisor Ronald Greenleaf said the town recently submitted an application for funding for a water district.

Town officials have been notified the town is eligible for money from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development.

Before funding will be committed, a final application must be submitted.

The estimated funding includes a grant of $697,000 and a loan of $760,000 at 2.75 percent for this $1,457,000 project.

As part of the project, the town must hold a public hearing to explain the project and projected user costs, as well as to obtain input from you whether to proceed or not.

Greenleaf said about 75 properties are involved in the project.

It would connect the two ends of Stock Road that already have water and would provide wter to Sixty-Six Road south of Route 104 to Dunham Road.

He said the cost to property owners would be about $638 a year for 38 years in addition to water usage.

He said it isn’t known yet if this cost would include the hookup of the water line to the house.

All of these properties now are on wells, Greenleaf said.

Sometimes in dry summers, the wells will go dry, he said.

“There is a need” for water in these areas, he said.

Phoenix varsity wrestlers ready to begin season

The Phoenix varsity wrestling team comes into the season looking to fill the voids left behind by Nick Tighe and Rowdy Prior.

In fact, Coach Gene Mills suggests that in many ways, this season will be a rebuilding year, which is uncharted territory for Mills and the Firebirds.

The Firebirds inexperienced team is striving to learn and develop one match at a time. However, Mills is allowing only so much cushioning for his young team. He hopes his wrestlers show significant individual and team development by mid- to late January.

Mills is quick to mention that this season’s team might be one of the most inexperienced teams that he’s coached at Phoenix.

The Firebirds return only two junior and senior starters from last year’s team, which means a lot will be expected of lone senior Jason Nipper, junior Derrick Button and sophomores Brad Dietz, Will Hilliard and Tim Gandino.

However, Phoenix does feature many younger wrestlers with an abundance of potential. “(Our younger kids) need to find out where we are and where we need to go to get where we want to be”, Mills said.

When practice began in early November, Mills expected his wrestlers to show up in decent physical condition. In fact, it is a known fact the wrestlers will be physically tested from the first day of practice.

Mills felt the physical conditioning of his team was questionable at best during the first few days of practice. However, this is a bit of an issue that coaches have come to expect over the years. Wrestlers always get to work knowing that their physical conditioning will develop more and more as December approaches. Mills feels his team’s physical conditioning has improved greatly since early November.

The Firebirds practice for two hours every day, working hard on many skills development drills which tend to develop their bodies’ abilities at a solid pace.

Mills has yet to name captains for the upcoming season. He said his captains are expected to be impressive individuals socially, academically and athletically regardless of what grade a wrestler may be in.

Those named as captains may not necessarily be the best wrestlers on the team, but are the individuals who show the most initiative towards being a role model socially and in the classroom as well as within the sport of wrestling itself.

Phoenix looks forward to the opportunity to take part in the challenging dual tournaments awaiting them. The Firebirds will be a little banged up during their dual meets but they expect to be fully recovered and even more competitive by early to mid-January.

Returning Sectional Place Winners Brad Dietz, Tim Gandino and Will Hilliard are expected to be a major strength for Phoenix this season. Dietz, Gandino and Hilliard clearly have what it takes to step up and be leadership figures for the Firebirds. Their guidance will be key in the development of the many hardworking younger wrestlers Phoenix will feature this season. Mills suggests with the right leadership, his younger wrestlers could begin to see their hard work pay off during the second half of the season.

View from the Assembly — let’s fix the tax code

It is widely understood that New York state is a high-tax state.

New York state citizens are acutely aware of this fact. It is hardly surprising then that the governor, being the politician that he is, has appointed not one, but two, commissions to examine how to reform New York’s tax system.

The first commission he appointed, with the Orwellian name, “New York State Tax Reform and Fairness Commission,” released its report last month. Notwithstanding its name, the report contains some good ideas on how New York should reform its tax structure.

The report begins by acknowledging we are a high-tax state.  In the 2012-13 fiscal year, state and local governments levied about $146 billion in taxes.

Of that $146 billion, $64 billion is attributable to state taxes and the remaining $82 billion came from local tax collections.

Of the $82 billion raised in local taxes, $49 billion was raised through property taxes.

Although the report raises the issue of local taxes, the majority of its suggested changes deal with reforming our state’s tax system, not our local tax systems.

First, the report acknowledges the state’s use and sales tax system is antiquated and needs to be modernized. I agree with this conclusion.

At the very least, we need to simplify the system. I have heard from many small businesses about how difficult it is for them to understand exactly on what they need to collect sales tax.

For example, if you sell bagels, you do not charge sales tax on plain bagels, but if you toast it, slice it and put butter on it, then you must charge sales tax.

There are all sorts of inane examples along these lines that businesses encounter on a regular basis. The report states the structure is “unduly complex” and makes “voluntary compliance more difficult, increasing the cost of doing business in the state and creates financial risk for vendors who ‘get it wrong’ and adds to the government’s tax administration costs.”

If nothing else, in the upcoming legislative session, we should make revenue neutral changes to our sales tax system to take out much of the complexity that has arisen over the years.

Second, the report also acknowledges our state’s estate tax has not kept pace with changes made to federal estate tax laws.

As characteristic of our high-tax reputation, New York is one of only 17 states that has an estate tax. Moreover, there are only two states that have estate tax exemption amounts lower than New York’s $1 million amount.

I was pleased the report notes New York’s estate tax may be a factor in taxpayer migration from New York to states without an estate tax.

In Central New York, we have seen many change their residency to Florida (a state without an estate tax) in effort to avoid NY’s estate tax.

It is hard enough competing with Florida on the basis of the weather. We shouldn’t also be giving people an economic incentive to move there.

To try to alleviate this problem, the commission recommends in its report to raise New York’s exemption from $1 million to $3 million.

This is a start.  However, I would rather see us eliminate our estate tax entirely or, at the very least, match the exemption amount to the federal amount which is $5.25 million.

Third, the commission recommends an accelerated phase out of the 18-a surcharge. This surcharge is a 2 percent assessment on electric, gas, water and steam utilities.

Like all taxes on businesses, they are passed on to the consumers. This assessment is no different. It places an additional burden on New York families and businesses because we already pay high utility bills notwithstanding our taxes.

In last year’s budget, the legislature and governor agreed to phase out this charge over a three-and-a-half-year period. As mentioned, the commission recommends phasing this out more quickly because it has such a detrimental effect, particularly on businesses.

I agree and indeed sponsor legislation to fully repeal this surcharge.

The commission also recommends many other changes to our state’s tax code. Some of its other recommendations I agree with, some I do not.

However, I am pleased at least there is some focus being brought to what is a primary economic problem in our state.

As mentioned above, the governor also has appointed a second commission to look at our state’s tax system.

Apparently, this second commission is supposed to focus on coming up with proposals to relieve New Yorkers from our high property tax burden.

I look forward to seeing its proposals and hope that they will be broad based.

Solutions will have to get at the reasons why we have high property taxes in this state and not simply shift the burden of our taxes from one group of citizens to another.

I will provide an update once their report becomes available.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office.

My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, 13069, by email at barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us or by calling 598-5185.

You can also friend me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.

Seguin named manager at ARISE

Lisa Seguin has been named manager of the Oswego Medicaid Service Coordination, Consolidated Support Services, and Family Support Services programs for ARISE in Oswego.

Seguin’s experiences and strong commitment to the mission of independent living and self-direction make her extremely well-suited for this role.

She began her career with ARISE in 2003 as a Medicaid Service Coordinator (MSC).

Two years later she became a senior MSC.

This year she was approved as a broker and began to provide Office of Persons with Developmental Disabilities trainings.

In the community, Seguin is known for her work on the Family Support Services Council in Oswego as well as on the state level.

She pursued self-directed services (Consolidated Support Services) for her daughter Kateri, who has Down syndrome, when this option was first introduced in Central New York.

The families that work with Lisa have commented on her good listening skills, compassion and her passion for focusing on the abilities and strengths of everyone with whom she works.

Volney students ‘on a roll’

Volney Elementary School students were treated to a spirit assembly Nov. 26 in recognition of their positive behavior and for being role models.

The entire student body united in the auditorium to sing “You Can Count on Me” prior to Interim Principal Michael Egan recognizing one student from each classroom for exemplifying the character trait of gratitude.

In addition to the classroom role models, 22 students were awarded certificates for being “On A Roll” models.

The monthly classroom role models were Brady Jacobson, Zackery McDougall, Branden Garner, Cassie Clarke, Santina Cunningham, MaKenna Grant, Gabriella Runge, Hunter Riebel, Zachary Ranieri, Nicholas Shaw, Ben Roberts, Noah Morales, Amara Fischel, Mallorie Smart, Brandon Burch, Erin Phillips, Destiny Miller, Rain Frank, Alicia Merritt, Emily Tice and Heidie Hall.

Students earning recognition as the monthly “On a Roll” models included Hunter Stein, Ellie-Mae Barnum, Deven Searor, Aiden St. Germain, Cadyn Reed, Danielle Boyce, Mackenzie Kerfien, Amber Dumas, Sydni Casler, Daymon Hooper, Alex Knapp, Lexis Casler-West, Ethan Jacobson, Sydney Osborn, Noelle McDougall, Serenity Lauckarn, Logan Wilson, Kalista Reynolds, Mason Williamson, Isabella Robillard, Travis Loomis, and Robert Moon.

To cap off the assembly and get the audience ready for Thanksgiving, Jessica Hyman, Lyle Beeman and Cassandra Seaton read “Giving Thanks” as a slideshow played in the background.

Fulton Community Theatre announces 2014 season

CLARIFICATION:

A recent edition of The Valley News carried a story announcing the upcoming 2014 season for Fulton Community Theatre.

The story stated the organization has put on its productions at Holy Trinity Catholic Church for the past four years. The story did not say the plays for 2014 will be held at Holy Trinity.

None of the venues for the 2014 plays has been announced.

Original story:

The quirky aspects of love, lust, class warfare, family and crossword puzzles will be in abundance in the upcoming year as Fulton Community Theatre announces its 2014 season.

For its 24th-anniversary year, Fulton Community Theatre is planning productions of six productions, including a Central New York debut, return engagements of two musical events and three classic plays by four of the most celebrated playwrights of the last century.

The community theatre is coming off a very successful 2013 season, which saw seven productions, increased audience attendance, and major improvements to the Jubilee Hall stage at Holy Trinity Church in Fulton where the theatre has performed for the last four years.

The 2014 season is as follows:

Up first, just in time for Valentines Day, Fulton Community Theatre will bring to the stage the Central New York debut of “2 Across” a romantic comedy by Jerry Mayer, whose writing credits include several stage plays, as well as writing for television shows such as M*A*SH, All in the Family, The Bob Newhart Show, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

The comedy tells the tale of two strangers who meet on a commuter train. They are alone in the car, each is married, and both are doing the New York Times crossword.

She’s an organized, sensible, psychologist. He’s a free spirited, unemployed ad exec. She is a crossword pro, he always quits. They learn from each other, argue, laugh, reveal big problems, they kiss.  Will they meet again?

FCT’s production of 2 Across, directed by Michael A. Bolio, will run weekends, Feb. 15, 16, 22, and 23, 2014.

In April, the theatre will mount a return engagement of the rock and roll Easter Cantata “Tenebrae” that made its world debut in 2013.

The musical piece, which features the talents of “The Sent Forth backing a chorale of voices and narration, will play for one night only on Friday, April 11.

In June, Fulton Community Theatre will bring back to Central New York a production of “You Can’t Take It With You”, the classic comedy of family and social classes by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart.

The 1930s comedy, which has been dubbed the “funniest play every written” centers around the eccentric Sycamore family.

Penny paints and writes risqué plays. Her husband Paul builds fireworks in the basement with an ice cream man who came one day and never left. Grandpa Vanderhof keeps snakes and doesn’t pay income taxes, since the government wouldn’t use the money properly if he did.

When daughter Alice falls in love with Tony Kirby, the son of a wealthy family, more than fireworks ignite as families and social classes clash.

The production, directed by FCT Artistic Director William Edward White, will play weekends — June 14, 15, 20, 21 and 22.

Also returning for another season is the 13th edition of the theatre’s long-running “An Evening on Broadway” cabaret series. Directed by Kathleen DeGolyer, this year’s theme will explore the works of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Timothy Rice. Dates for the production have yet to be announced.

For September, Fulton Community Theatre will bring to the stage Paddy Chayefsky’s “Marty”, the timeless classic about a lonely butcher who has given up on ever finding love, who stumbles upon a chance of happiness one night at a dance.

The story, which was adapted into the 1955 Academy Award-winning movie starring Ernest Borgnine, began life as a 1953 teleplay for the Goodyear Television Playhouse on NBC.

For the Fulton Community Theatre production, director White will draw upon the original teleplay, which has been seldom seen since its original live broadcast. The special event will run Sept. 12, 13 and 14.

To cap off the 2014 season, the theatre will present Neil Simon’s “Last of the Red Hot Lovers.” The comedy, which Simon wrote in 1969 for character actor James Coco, unravels the misadventures of Barney Cashman, a quiet, married man who wants to join the sexual revolution before it is too late.

A gentle soul, with no experience in adultery, Barney’s quest for seduction brings him in contact with a sexpot, a free-spirit, and his wife’s best friend.

The production will run weekends Nov. 8, 9, 14, 15 and 16, 2013.

For more information, including upcoming auditions for the season, please contact FCT at its website, www.fultoncommunitytheatre.org.

Lanigan Elementary students learn history while getting in holiday spirit

First-graders at Lanigan Elementary got into the Christmas spirit recently, and learned a little about Fulton history too, with a visit to the John Wells Pratt House Museum.

The museum had on display decorated Christmas trees as part of their 25th annual Parade of Trees.

This year’s event drew in a total of 11 themed trees decorated by local organizations, clubs, youth and children’s group. Julie Galvin’s class from Lanigan Elementary decorated a tree with the theme “Sweet Christmas.”

All of the tree’s ornaments were made from candy; a marshmallow snowman, peppermint wreaths and candy cane sleds.

Gracia Thompson’s class at G. Ray Bodley also decorated a tree, with the theme “Home is Where the Heart Is.”

Ornaments were made from foam hearts, and embellished with beads and sequins.

Students on the field trip were able to vote for their favorite tree in each of the three categories — adult, youth and children’s. They also toured the Pratt House and learned about factories that used to call Fulton home, including Nestlé and Hunter Arms.

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