Oswego County gets $6 million grant to enhance E-911 radio system

By Debra J. Groom

A $6 million grant for Oswego County’s 911 radio system has been approved by the state.

The county’s 911 Director Michael Allen said the money will be used to enhance parts of the county’s new radio communications system. A total of 17 counties were awarded grants through the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.

Oswego County rolled out its new $28 million radio communications system last summer. New radio communication towers were built in Fulton, Scriba, Oswego Town, Orwell, Parish, Pulaski and northern Redfield. Existing towers in Redfield, Constantia, Hastings, Granby, Boylston, the city of Oswego and the hub site, at the Oswego County Justice Center, were refurbished. New handheld radios were purchased for emergency responders such as police and firefighters.

The new system not only provides better communications within the county (people in the Tug Hill area of Redfield now can talk to people in Phoenix or Hannibal), but also links Oswego, Madison, Cayuga, Cortland and Onondaga counties.

E-911 officials said the old radio system did not allow officials in one county to communicate with emergency officials in neighboring counties.

This was evident in 2005, when a train derailed in Central Square and some of the 28 cars contained toxic chemicals. Emergency responders from four counties, including Oswego and Onondaga, were on the scene, but emergency workers from Oswego County couldn’t talk by radio with Onondaga County workers, because their radio systems were incompatible.

Allen said the $6 million grant will be used for the following:

1. Expand the existing radio system to allow  agencies responding to Oswego County who operate outside the network to communicate using National Mutual Aid frequencies.

2. Provide  a redundant Prime Site and harden existing connectivity with suurounding counties to ensure critical communications are received..

3. Upgrade and replace radios using proprietary encryption. to comply with future interoperable requirements

4. Conduct a series of exercises and training to demonstrate interoperability and strengthen existing procedures in operating the system.

5. Conduct a study with recommendations to provide further shared services within the region , control costs and continue to provide the highest level of service to the public.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced earlier this week the $80 million in grant funding to strengthen local emergency preparedness capabilities in municipalities. The money comes from the cell phone surcharge users pay on their monthly cell phone bill.

This was the third round of funding for these grants. During the three rounds, 53 counties across the state will benefit from a total of $197 million that has been awarded.

Time to get out and buy a fresh Oswego County-grown Christmas tree

The holiday season is here and it’s time to get out to buy a fresh Oswego County-grown Christmas tree.

Buying local not only supports Oswego County farms, but it also assures the freshest tree possible. Fresh cut trees smell better and keep their needles longer.

“If purchased locally, and displayed properly with plenty of water, most real Christmas trees have excellent needle retention,” said Faye Beckwith, of Beckwith Family Christmas Tree Station in Hannibal and former president of the Christmas Tree Farmers of New York State.

“Many of our customers report few or no needles on the floor after several weeks in their homes. While most people enjoy the aroma of our farm fresh trees, we also grow a fragrance-free variety that is a favorite with people with sensitive noses,” she said.

“Real Christmas trees are the best choice for both the environment and the economy,” Beckwith said. “Real Christmas trees are a renewable and recyclable resource. They are grown as a crop, by local farmers who provide jobs for others.

“Trees are harvested and replenished annually. As they grow, real trees absorb harmful carbons and produce fresh oxygen,” she said.

Beckwith added “the experience of going to the farm to choose the perfect tree fosters family traditions and creates memories that last a lifetime.”

Cooperative Extnesion supplied this list of Oswego County tree farmers:

Austin Tree Farm – 221 Baldwin Road, Volney

Beckwith Family Christmas Tree Station – 189 Mill St., Hannibal

Bis-Mar Farms – County Route, West Monroe

Chengerian’s Tree Land – Merritt Road,  Lysander

Darling’s Christmas Tree Farm – 280 Blythe Road, Hannibal

Emerald Mist Christmas Tree Farm – 1484 Rathburn Road, Oswego

Finnerty Hill Tree Farm – 3750 County Route, Williamstown

Goodman’s Christmas Tree Farm – 460 Gilbert Mills Road, Phoenix

Grace Farms – 78 Gunther Road, Central Square

Granger’s Christmas Tree Farm – 380 Tubbs Road, Mexico

H & H Trees – 1430 Co Rte 28, Tinker Tavern Road, Pulaski

Hemlock Haven Tree Farm – 460 County Route 22A (Ellisburg Street), Sandy Creek

Leonard’s Evergreens – 70 Dunham Road, Hannibal

Spring Pond Farm – 3439 U.S. Route 11, Mexico

Three Season Farm – 429 Drybridge Road, Mexico

Trust Nursery & Florist – 4347 U.S. Route 11, Pulaski

Whitetail Acres Christmas Tree Farm – 1685 State Route 264, Phoenix

Sheriff offers safe shopping tips

With the Christmas and holiday celebration season upon us, Oswego County Sheriff Reuel Todd is providing some safety tips to help everyone have a safe and enjoyable holiday season.

With the increased demands on time and attention this time of year, everyone is more vulnerable to crime. Take a few moments to review the following tips and go out shopping and celebrating, confident that you are prepared.

Parking Lots

When walking through parking lots, be aware of your surroundings.

Always park where there is plenty of light between your car and the store.

Keep your car locked and have your keys in hand before you go to your car.

Before leaving your vehicle, make sure there isn’t anything of value in sight, including cell phones, GPS units, and holiday purchases.


Shop with a friend or relatives; there is safety in numbers.

Don’t leave your purse unattended (even for a few seconds) in your cart.

Don’t carry large amounts of money. Keep money in a front pocket.

Carry only one or two credit cards and make sure you secure them after use.

If shopping online, stick with established retailers and retailers from our local community with a presence online. Shopping locally is good for the local economy and more secure.

Shopping with Children

Always supervise your children in public places. Accompany young children to the restroom.

Teach young children to go for help if they get separated from you. Teach them to look for a cashier or uniformed security guard.

If you must allow your teenage children to shop without you, have them take a friend, check in with you on a regular basis and have a set time and place to pick them up.

At Home

Don’t display your gifts where they can be seen from a window or doorway.

Lock doors and windows when you leave the house.

Use only UL-listed extension cords, lights and Christmas ornaments. Don’t overload outlets or electrical boxes.


When celebrating away from home, don’t drink and drive.

Choose a designated driver before heading out.

If hosting a party, provide refreshments for designated drivers and arrange transportation for guests who should not drive home.

If possible, avoid driving during the early and late evening hours on Christmas and New Years.

Protect yourself and passengers by wearing a safety belt at all times, in case of a crash.

Please remember that if you are a victim of crime, you should contact your Sheriff’s Office or other law enforcement immediately.

If we all follow these common sense tips, we can enjoy a safe and Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday season.

Masonic War Vets present gifts to VA Hospital patients

On Thanksgiving morning, Post 43 of the Masonic War Veterans in Oswego visited the VA Hospital in Syracuse to present gift baskets to more than 130 male and female patients.

The baskets were filled with special items of treats and needed items of hats, mittens and hand-knitted or crocheted lap blankets along with socks, gloves, sundries, T-shirts and more.

The Post also presented a fresh fruit bag to each patient, cheerfully delivered while singing Christmas carols.

The Post members and volunteers brought along professional clowns in tow and greeted the medical staff as well as the hospitalized veterans on this holiday.

Many volunteers came from area CNY Masonic Lodges on Thanksgiving morning to assist Post 43 in this annual true example of freemasonry at large.

Ages 13 to 80-plus arrived at 8 a.m. in the light snow to assemble the gift baskets in the VA Hospital auditorium before delivering to the seven floors.

Donations are encouraged each year, all year long to Post 43 so these American heroes may be honored on a day where many would not see a visitor otherwise.

For example, this month a very successful benefit breakfast buffet was held at Lake City Masonic Lodge No. 127 in Oswego to help fund this annual Thanksgiving tradition started decades ago by Post 43.

Everyone in the community who attended that breakfast helped to make this event possible.

Freemasonry is the oldest and largest fraternal organization in the world consisting of more than 6 million men from all walks of life.

Charity is a tenet of freemasonry. Across the U.S. Masons donate about $2 million dollars daily.

To become a member of the Masonic War Veterans, a man must be active in the Masonic Lodge and have been a veteran with military service.

Anyone interested in becoming a member, or wishing to make a donation, should call Commander Carl Hoyt Sr. at 383-2274.

Victor and Margaret Potish celebrate 70th wedding anniversary

Victor and Margaret Potish of Sandy Pond recently celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.

Assemblyman Will Barclay presented the couple with a state Assembly Resolution commemorating the family milestone. The resolution states: “Whereas, their love, devotion, caring, sensitivity and responsiveness to their family, friends and all who know them are their hallmark and tradition.”

The couple celebrated the occasion with their family. 

Matthew Burnham, Abby Mandel married Aug. 3

Matthew Burnham and Abby Mandel were married Aug. 3, 2013 at Vintage Villas, Austin, Texas.

Officiating was the bride’s sister, Beth Mandel, of Ohio.

The groom is the son of Bruce and Ann Burnham, of Fulton. The bride is the daughter of Jeff and Rae Mandel, of Shelby Township, Michigan.

Maid of honor was Dana Mandel, of Michigan. Bridesmaids were Jessica Etien, of New York; Beth Moore, of Virginia; Lindsey Ferguson, of Michigan; Carrie Bochenek, of Texas; Lydia McClure, of Texas; and Christen Schram of Michigan.

Best men were Matt Ely, of New York, and Chris Guenther of Texas. Groomsmen were Bradford Burnham, of New York; Tim Lee, of Massachusetts; Mike Leota, of California; Mark Roberts, of California; and Brian Swift, of Massachusetts.

A reception at Vintage Villas followed the ceremony. The bride and groom honeymooned in Spain.

The couple resides in Austin, Texas.

In and Around Hannibal, by Rita Hooper

Lest we forget — today is Dec. 7, the date that President Franklin Roosevelt said “will live in infamy,” when he addressed a joint session of the US Congress in 1941.

On Dec. 7, Japanese planes attacked the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, killing 2,300 Americans.

The USS Arizona was completely destroyed and the USS Oklahoma capsized.

Twelve ships sank or were beached, nine more were damaged. A total of 160 aircraft were destroyed and 150 more damaged.

On Dec. 8, Congress declared war on Japan bringing the United States into World War II.

Within days, Germany and Italy also declared war on the U.S.

WWII began in 1939, when Germany invaded Poland and ended in 1945 when Germany and Japan surrendered to the allies.

In all, 60 million people were killed, over 2.5 percent of the world’s population.

In this Christmas season, as we await the birth of the Prince of Peace, let us take a few minutes to remember those who have lost their lives through wars, past and present.

Let us work to bring peace to the earth and to turn our swords into pruning hooks, that those who have died, may not have died in vain.


Hannibal Center Schools

Well folks — we are up to District No. 7 — Hannibal Center — Schools in Hannibal area before centralization.

Hannibal Center was settled in 1805.  Orren Cotton, one of the first settlers to the area was a millwright by trade and built the first grist mill.

He was a descendant of the celebrated Puritan preacher of Boston, Dr. John Cotton.

In the next 50 years or so, Hannibal Center became a thriving little hamlet.  There were a number of industries that gave employment to the residents.

John McLaury operated the tannery and Norman Titus was the proprietor of a flour and feed mill on the west side of Nine Mile Creek.

There were several saw mills and a peppermint still operated by W.W. Brackett. Later a carding mill and later a foundry came into being.

The Hannibal Center Church can date its beginnings back to 1830 with James A. Brackett as the first class leader.

The church building was built in 1862 or 63.

W.W. Brackett also had the largest of three general stores in the Center and he also had a general store in the Village.

There were also two hotels/taverns.  Judson S. Kellogg began blacksmithing in Hannibal Center in 1877.

At one time, great excitement was raised over digging for gold in the area.

Additional prominent residents of the center were Issac Ketcham, the Dickinsons, James Knolton and William Ames.

The first school in the town of Hannibal was kept at Hannibal Center in 1810; Laura Kent was the first teacher.

A large two-classroom wooden schoolhouse was built in Hannibal Center probably in the last half of the 19th century although the exact date of construction is unknown.

It was located on what is now call the Town Garage Road.

In 1931, the school was changed from a two-room school to a one-room school because of the small number of children in attendance.

Electricity was installed in 1933.

Two years later, the two-room school arrangement was re-established due to increased enrollment. However, this was a temporary condition and the school eventually went back to a one-room set up.

Successful teachers in this district were Hannah Wood, Malissa Lake, Richard Smith, Frank Haven, Eva Brackett, Georgia Brackett, Fannie Rogers Cooley, Mr. Vanderlinder, Leon Harris, Will Allen, Mattie Cox, Helen Gardenier, Mrs. Carrie Pooler, Cora Blake, Ruth Ames, Lorilla Loomis, Katie Walsh, Ruth Dennison, Ann B. Brackett, Grace Atwater Rogers, Maggie McNamara, Frank Tuller, Belle Tuller and Nettie Rogers.

In 1890, Frank E. Brackett; 1890-91 S.W. Holden; 1892-93 Emma J. Smith; 1893-94 Emma Smith and Jane Talmadge; 1894-95 Ella Mae Ames; 1897-98 Hattie J. Smith;1899-1900 Edna Godfrey and Mertie L. Dann; 1902-03 Rena Gardenier and Robert Burns; 1905-06 Ella Lounsbery; 1906-07 Zilpha Stickle; 1907-08 Mae Pellet Rogers; 1908-10 Mildred Perkins and Mae D. Pellett, 1910-11 Robert J. Burns and Ethel Robinson. 1917-Agnes Farden and Susie Spafford; 1919-20 Ruth

Baldwin Weldon; 1920-26 Ella Lounsbery and Mae Rogers; 1926-28 Mae Rogers and Ella Wheeler Perkins; 1928-30 Letty McGlen and Meda Cooper; 1930-31 Grace Welling and Mae Rogers; 1931-32 Grace Welling; 1932-35 Ella Lounsbery; 1935-38 Clara Wilke and Ella Lounsbery; 1938-39 Clara Wilke and Mae Rogers; 1939-41 Marion Gannon and Vivian Megraw; 1941-42 Olive Schneider and Vivian Megraw; 1942-43 Olive Schneider and Reta Merriam; 1943-49 Ella Lounsbery.

After centralization and the resulting closing of the school, the Town of Hannibal used the building for storage.

In 1983, the Town of Hannibal constructed a new town barn and no longer had any need for the old school.

The Town offered to give the schoolhouse to the Hannibal Historical Society; but the building would have been costly to restore. Therefore the group declined the offer and the structure was town down.

Teacher Grace Welling married John Cox and was organist at Hannibal Community Church for 43 years if memory serves me correctly.

And teacher Marion Gannon married and I can’t remember her married name and moved to Syracuse. She had a brother Jimmy (I think that was his name) who became a professional musician if I have the story correct.

I’m indebted once again to Hannibal’s Historical Highlights by Gordon Sturge and Hannibal History in Pictures and Prose by the Hannibal Historical Society.

Didn’t want you to think I was ‘that smart!’

Let me know if you have something to add so we all know the ‘rest of the story!’


Around the Town

The Sons of the American Legion will hold their monthly breakfast buffet from 8 to 11 a.m. Sunday Dec. 8 at the Legion, Rochester Street, Hannibal.

Hannibal United Methodist Church will have an afternoon of entertainment with the Tri-County Singers performing a Christmas Cantata at 2 p.m. Dec. 8. They will perform “On This Shining Night.”

It is a free performance with donations accepted.

Refreshments served after.

Also on the 8th, First United Church of Fulton, 33 S. Third (east side of the River) will be holding an afternoon of music with the Hannibal Jammers at 2 p.m.

Hannibal Senior Dining Center meets at noon for dinner at the Senior Center (Library Building) on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Give Rosemary a call and make your reservation at 564-5471.

This week’s menu is:

Monday: Lasagna with meat sauce, vegetable blend, green and yellow beans, ice cream

Wednesday: Baked chicken, creamed potatoes, zucchini and tomatoes, juice, cookie

Friday: Hamburger on roll, garlic red potatoes, vegetable, applesauce

Activities: Monday, Wii bowling;   Wednesday, bingo after lunch; Friday,  games.

Kenney Middle School is holding a BoxTops for Education contest.

Two students who bring in the most BoxTops in one week win free ice cream from the cafeteria.

Anyone who brings in five or more BoxTops in one week is entered in a drawing for a large cheese pizza from the Village Market. The contest runs through Dec. 16.

The student who brings in the most BoxTops for the contest will win a bowling party.

Anyone bringing in five or more BoxTops during the contest will be entered in drawings for several prizes.

Each BoxTop is worth 10 cents to the school. Hannibal has raised more than  $600 for the school so far this year.

All money earned benefit programs for the students.

We also have a new collection box at the Village Market for your convenience.


Holiday Events

The Village Market (IGA) will host its annual Christmas Luncheon for Seniors at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10. This is free and no registration is needed.

The High School music department will be providing music for your enjoyment.

The Hannibal Senior Band will be presenting its Holiday Concert at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10, in the Lockwood Auditorium. This concert will feature the Jazz Ensemble and the Concert Band presenting many familiar carols and winter songs.

Audience members are asked to bring a donation for the Christmas Bureau.

Prior to the concert band members will serve their annual complimentary lasagna holiday dinner for local senior citizens in the high school cafeteria.

Serving begins at 6:15 p.m. Community seniors wishing to attend should make a reservation by calling 564-7910 ext. 4132 before Dec. 9.

Mentioning Christmas Bureau reminds me drivers are needed to help deliver packages for Santa from 9 to 11 a.m., Dec. 18.

Give the high school or district office a call if you can help do this.

It is a great deal of fun and some high school students help you so there is no heavy lifting for you to do.

The Elderberry Christmas Dinner has been changed to noon Thursday, Dec. 12, at the American Legion. The luncheon will be catered by Brenda Fletcher — sure hope you made your reservation.

You are reminded to bring a $3 gift for the exchange game.

I have it on good authority that Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.

Friday Dec. 13, he’ll be at the Hannibal Fire Department Firehouse on Oswego Street from 6 to 8 p.m.

He’s keeping his eye out for all those good little boys and girls from birth to 10 years old and I understand from one of his elves, that he’s put a few gifts in his bag!

Kids of all ages are invited to share in refreshments.

Shirts ‘N Skirts, Square Dance Club, meets every Friday from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at the Fulton Municipal Building, South First Street. Admission is $5.

All ages are welcome, under 16 years old must be accompanied by an adult. for more infomation, call 591-0093 or email information@shirtsandskirts.org

‘Tis the season to be jolly … please email me or give me a call if your organization has any special plans for the holiday season that you want to publicize.

Remember this column is about and for the people of Hannibal and the surrounding area.

If you have an event that you would like the public to know about, send me an email or give me a quick call.

Rita Hooper 706-3564


Oswego city taxes up about 80 percent in proposed city budget

By Debra J. Groom

Oswego city residents could see their taxes go up nearly 80 percent if the proposed 2014 city budget is adopted by the Common Council.

But Mayor Thomas Gillen is hoping work with the council in coming weeks will find some places to cut in the plan. He already cut $65,879 from the budgets submitted to him by department heads.

The proposed budget totals $34,574,842, an increase of 14.2 percent compared to the 2013 budget of $30,112,264.

This is an increase of $4,462,578.

Gillen said this would increase the tax rate paid by residents and businesses from $10.03 per $1,000 to $18.25 per $1,000, up more than 81 percent.

He said it amounts to about an additional $575 in taxes for people who own an average home in Oswego assessed at $70,000.

“By all means, I am not minimizing this at all,” Gillen said. “That’s a lot of money to people.”

He said one reason taxes are going up is the city has lost more than $48 million in assessed value. He said the Port of Oswego and Oswego Hospital — both tax exempt entities — have bought up land whose owners used to pay taxes on that land.

Other budget increases came in the following:

A loss of $804,879 in non-property revenue. Gillen said this is items such as reduced payments to the city by Brookfield Power and National Grid for use of hydrostations on the Oswego River.

Mandated retirement rates. Gillen said the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System rate is increasing from 25.1 percent to 28.4 percent. The Employees Retirement System rates are increasing from 18.5 percent to 22 percent.

Affordable Care Act. Mandates a 2.3 percent increase for Medicare contracts and a 8.46 percent increase in insurer fees for active and non-Medicare contracts.

Union contracts. Gillen said constracts with the city’s unions resulted in higher pay for workers, lump sum payouts and retirement cost increases.

Gillen also said in his budget message:

“We also have to prepare ourselves for the potential loss of revenue in on-going and future negotiations with NRG, National Grid and the Metropolitan Water Board,” which own property in the city.

Gillen said the proposed budget includes no layoffs or cuts in city services. No elected officials are getting raises.

In his budget message, Gillen said if all new positions were removed from the budget, the tax rate would decrease to about $17.46 a $1,000. If all equipment purchases also were removed, the tax rate would be about $17.18 per $1,000.

If the city did both, the tax rate would be about $16.39 per $1,000 of assessed value.

“For every $1 million we cut from the budget, the rate changes by $1 per $1,000,” Gillen said in his budget message.

Other areas where the city saw decreases in revenue was in fewer launches at its marina, Medicare subsidies, loss of revenue from Midtown Plaza redevelopment and a new hotel due to lawsuits.

Even with the increase, Gillen believes Oswego residents get a lot for their money.

“They get ambulance, fire, police, DPW, clearing of leaves, parks and recreation. The value of living is a safe and clean city is worth something.”

For about four years straight, Oswego’s tax rate didn’t change, staying at $8.98 per $1,000. then it went up to $10.03 a $1,000

Gillen said Oswego’s rate for 2013 still is below most cities close to its 18,200 population: Amsterdam, 18,620, 2013 rate of $13.07; Auburn, 27,000, rate of $13.05; Cortland, 19,204, rate of $15.34; Ogdensburg, 11,000, rate of $16.75.

Your hometown. Your news.