Letters to the editor

Man mourns Caravan

Allow me to express my condolences to the family of Vince Caravan.

He deserves much credit for being a good newspaper man. He always gave the opposition a chance to have their say, even thought i might have been in direct opposition to his point of view.

I can say that with experience, because I am on the opposite end of the political spectrum from him and wrote my opinion to him more than once. He didn’t have to print any of my views, but he did. Why? Because he was a good publisher, loved his job and took it seriously.

I have also written to him when I was in agreement with what he said in his column “Vince the Caravan.” Even though I now live in Florida, I grew up in Oswego, have always read The Oswego Valley News and still get The Valley News by mail.

Ralph Riker

Silver Springs, Fla.

Castiglia questions county budget 

It’s that time of the year:

It’s not just the holiday season but it’s also budget season.

Holiday season is fun and budget season Isn’t.

I have been looking over the first draft of the budget for Oswego County. I will not have a vote on this budget but I and all of you will have to live with it for the next year.

What I find surprising is the fact that in a budget of $196 million, that there is $30 million listed as “Fringe Benefits.”

Now your initial response might be “Oh My God” but you have to look and see what they call “Fringe Benefits.”

They are: retirement and Social Security.  These are basically untouchable and therefore we somewhat have to live with them.

What we shouldn’t have to live with is the fact that the county Legislature receives almost $88,000 in “Fringe Benefits” when it is a job that is part-time and is a job that they all chose.

In the $88,000 is almost $20,000 for reimbursement for mileage and other travel reimbursements. I’m sure that the part-time workers at McDonalds and Rite-Aid don’t get paid mileage to go to work.

Why should an elected official take taxpayer money to pay for them to attend meetings? It’s just not right.

Somewhere in the budget is reimbursement money for attending seminars. Why? Also in the budget is $57,870 for books and periodicals and $34,935 for memberships and dues. That is a total of $92,000 of what I would call real “Fringe Benefits.”

Now this over $90,000 is for all the county departments. Either way why should a taxpayer that can’t afford to have more than basic cable have to pay for these “Fringe Benefits.”  It’s just not right.

Also in the budget is $100,000 in a contingent account for the Legislature. You and I both would ask — Why?

Oh did I fail to mention that there is almost $10,000 worth of raises for the county Legislators. I don’t feel any elected official has the right to vote themselves a raise. Do you?

All this money isn’t coming from some corporate giant — it’s coming from TAXPAYERS.

The reason I bring all these items up is the fact that almost always the county legislators are asked to look over the budget and make suggestions as to where there might be a way to cut the budget and save the taxpayers some money.

Now I know that so far this budget as it stands goes up only some 1 percent and there doesn’t seem to be any increase in the tax levy.

What you may not see though is the fact that this year they are going to take some $5.5 million out of tax stabilization fund in order to balance the budget (according to the paper).

I don’t know if they did this last year or the year before but what I do know is that doing this kind of thing is what put the city of Fulton into the shape they are in now.

I am going to suggest that although the county administrator has done a “good job,” we can no longer be satisfied with “good” we need “great” and the way to start is by cutting the entire budget by 5 percent saving over $9 million.

That way he wouldn’t have to take the $5.5 million from the tax stabilization reserve fund.

I know the first words are “You don’t understand it’s not that easy.” I say nothing worth having is ever easy. Also they may say “What should we cut?” I would say the same thing my boss at the business school only had to say to me once.

“Frank, if I have to tell you where to cut and what to do I don’t need you.”

With that, you must keep in mind the fact that these cuts must, I repeat must be made without cutting staff or services and you can’t outsource.

Frank Castiglia Jr.

County Legislator Elect, 25th District


Editor’s note: The legislature’s Government Committee removed legislator raises from the proposed county budget Oct. 28. The Finance and Personnel Committee confirmed the tentative budget without raises Nov. 6. 

County health clinics set for week of Dec. 2

The Oswego County Health Department offers a variety of services to all residents of Oswego County, including preventive health services, certified home health care, long-term home health care, certified hospice and a maternal and child health program.

Walk-in influenza clinics are held weekdays from 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. at the Nick Sterio Public Health Clinic, 70 Bunner St., Oswego for people age 19 and older. No appointment is needed; walk-ins are welcome.

Children’s flu vaccine is available from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. every Tuesday in Oswego, and from 9 to 11 a.m. the third Tuesday of every month at the H. Douglas Barclay Courthouse, Pulaski.

The children’s flu vaccine is available at no cost to all children who qualify for the Vaccines for Children Program provided by the New York State Department of Health.

For those who do not qualify, the cost is $37 for the inactivated vaccine (the shot) and $43 for the flu-mist (nasal vaccine).

Patients with private insurance, Managed Medicaid, Managed Medicare, Medicaid, Medicare, and Medicare Part B should bring their benefit cards with them to the immunization clinic.  No one will be turned away due to inability to pay.

The following services will be offered during the week of Dec. 2 at the Nick Sterio Public Health Clinic, 70 Bunner St., Oswego.

** Adult Influenza Clinic: Monday through Friday, 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m., walk-in clinic.

**  Immunization Clinic: Tuesday, Dec. 3, 12:30 to 3:30 p.m., walk-in clinic.

** Pregnancy Testing: Free pregnancy testing is available. Call 349-3391 to schedule an appointment.

** Sexually Transmitted Disease Testing and Treatment Services: Call 349-3547 to schedule an appointment.

** HIV Counseling and Testing Service:  Call 349-3547 to schedule an appointment.

Immunization clinics are held every Tuesday from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. at 70 Bunner St, Oswego, and the third Tuesday of every month from 9 to 11 a.m. at the H. Douglas Barclay Courthouse, Pulaski.

For more information about public health services, contact the Oswego County Health Department, weekdays at 349-3547 or (800) 596-3200, ext. 3547.

The Rev. Anne Wichelns enters ministry

A church full of parishioners, two area bishops and musical performances were  part of the celebration at Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, Oswego, Nov. 21 as the Rev. Anne Wichelns was installed as assistant priest for the Episcopal-Lutheran Faith Partnership of Oswego and Fulton.

Wichelns, who previously worked as an English teacher in the Indian River High School and a facilitator for a school based drug abuse prevention program, is a welcome addition to a faith partnership that includes Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in Oswego, Prince of Peace Evangelical Lutheran Church in Fulton.

Wichelns, who also shares time with St. Andrew’s Shared Presbyterian/Episcopal Ministry in Evans Mills, is excited about putting her experience in faith partnerships to work.

“As we move forward our challenge is how we live together as a community.  Why do we gather, and what is the benefit of sharing our faith? By sharing our resources and our talents we have full ministry in all churches and we can grow together,” she said. “This is an exciting time.”

One of Wichelns’ duties will be to focus on youth and their families.

“The cultural shift that has taken place over the past few years has lessened the role that the church plays in many people’s lives. Work schedules and children’s activities can make it difficult for young families to be actively involved with their church,” she said.

“I will be reaching out to parishioners of all three churches and discovering ways in which we can better accommodate them and make it possible for them to become more involved with their church.”

The celebration was followed by a reception with light refreshments in the church’s Great Hall.

‘Christmas at Sea’ sails into Oswego Dec. 8

Only in Oswego does Santa Claus arrive on a boat.

Come to the H. Lee White Marine Museum from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Dec. 8 for “Christmas at Sea,” the annual open house during the holiday season in Oswego’s gaily decorated “Historic Maritime District.“

Munch on homemade cookies while enjoying the uniquely decorated holiday trees. This year’s theme trees will highlight snow and ice, lighthouses, canoes and sailboats.

Model train displays will be exhibited throughout the building courtesy of the Oswego Valley Railroad Association and Museum.

A vintage Waterfront Village is featured under the 10-foot high Christmas tree.

At 2 p.m., Santa Claus will arrive by U.S. Coast Guard Cutter and there is no need to have your child wait in a long line to see him!

Unlike the mall, children will have plenty to do as they participate in crafts, listen to festive stories, hear music or watch the train display run while waiting to take their turn. Santa will not leave until he hears every child’s wish.

The Museum and Treasure Chest Gift Shop are open daily 1 to 5 p.m.

Call 342-0480 or visit hleewhitemarinemuseum.com or facebook.com/hlwmm for more information.

Severe weather expert, SUNY Oswego grad, speaks on campus Dec. 6

Submitted by SUNY Oswego

James Ladue, a SUNY Oswego alumnus and national weather scientist, will speak from 3 to 4 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, in Room 175 of the college’s Richard S. Shineman Center for Science, Engineering and Innovation.

Ladue will talk about extreme natural disasters, as well as how to improve communications with the public and the resiliency of our communities to severe weather.

Last May, two tornadoes ripped across Oklahoma, including the Oklahoma City metro area, killing 25 people and wounding 390 more. Less than two weeks later, a third tornado ripped through Oklahoma, injuring and killing scores more, including professional and amateur storm chasers.

Ladue will discuss these tragic events and what meteorologists are doing to improve forecasting.

With more than 20 years of experience as a meteorologist, Ladue works as a meteorologist instructor at the National Weather Service Warning Decision Training Branch in Norman, Okla., a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The office is responsible for training National Weather Service personnel on warning methodology and situation awareness to better serve the public in hazardous weather warning situations.

Ladue earned a bachelor’s degree in meteorology from SUNY Oswego in 1986. His previous work experience includes creating new satellite-based techniques to assist in improved forecasting of short-term hazardous weather.

The event is free and open to the public.

Ladue’s presentation is part of the Science Today Lecture Series, which brings together top names and developments from throughout the sciences, while also showing how the different avenues of science intersect. The content is geared toward a general audience.

Parking on campus for those without a current SUNY Oswego parking sticker is $1. Visit oswego.edu/administration/parking for information on obtaining a day-use permit.

For more information, contact Stephanie Lamb at stephanie.lamb@oswego.edu or 312-2258.

Unemployment rate improves in Oswego County

By Debra J. Groom

Oswego County’s unemployment rate still is the highest in Central New York, according to figures released Tuesday by the state Labor Department.

Oswego County came in at 8 percent for October 2013. Only Jefferson County to the north has a higher rate at 8.7 percent.

But the Labor Department did have some good news. Oswego County’s 8 percent unemployment rate was down from the 8.7 percent in September 2013 and also is much improved over the 9.4 percent rate from a year ago in October 2012.

But still, Oswego County is slow to create jobs and see improvement in its economy compared to other Central New York counties.

Karen Knapik-Scalzo, a statistician with the Central New York region of the Labor Department headquartered in Syracuse, said Oswego County struggles with two problems.

One is the county is rural and doesn’t have as much industry as other counties like Onondaga. Second,   50 percent of its jobs are in two industry sectors: government (federal, state, local governments and schools) and utilities (such as National Grid, cable and the nuclear plants).

“In the metro Syracuse area of Madison, Onondaga and Oswego counties, the government sector overall was up 200 jobs for the year,” Knapik-Scalzo said. “And utilities sector jobs for the three-county area were pretty much even.”

Knapik-Scalzo said Oswego County always is in the top 10 for counties with the highest unemployment rates in New York state.

Unemployment across the region

Counties    Oct. 2013    Sept. 2013    Oct. 2012

Oswego           8.0                 8.7                     9.4

Onondaga       6.7                6.9                     7.7

Madison         6.7                 6.9                     7.8

Cayuga           6.5                  6.5                       7.4

Cortland        7.1                   7.1                       7.6

Oneida           7.2                  7.5                        8.1

Doctor knows benefits of New Vision program

Submitted by Oswego County BOCES

A passion for health care and helping others, which was ignited during observational rotations as an Oswego County BOCES New Vision Allied Health student, has transformed into a successful career in the medical field for Pennellville native Jerry Emmons.

The 30-year-old director for emergency services at Oswego Hospital said his experience in New Vision created a solid foundation for his future.

“There’s no other way to see so many different parts of medicine as you do in New Vision,” he said. “It was an investment on the part of my school district, but I’m so glad that I had that opportunity.

“I met a lot of interesting people, a lot of professionals that I would work with later on in my career  … So much of what I did after school came out of the New Vision Program,” he said.

From 2000 to 2001, Emmons was enrolled in the BOCES-run program, which provides Oswego County students the opportunity to enhance their college applications by experiencing various health care settings.

“You would go … out on the (surgical) floor with the nurses, various doctors’ offices, primary care offices that were affiliated with the hospital, local cardiologists’ offices, there was a nursing home experiences … a little bit of everything,” he said.

While Emmons experienced every aspect of the health care field, he said a ride-along with Menter Ambulance was a life-changing opportunity that he was able to experience thanks to New Vision.

“I had never been on the ambulance before and I had no exposure to EMS, but I loved it,” he recalled. “It was just a chance encounter. After that, I was hooked.”

With an interest in emergency medicine, Emmons took the knowledge he gained through New Vision and pursued a biological sciences degree from Cornell University — spending school vacations and breaks as a paramedic with Menter, where he now serves as medical director.

Emmons earned his medical degree from Upstate Medical University in 2009.

After completing his residency there, he decided that home is where the heart is.

“I decided that I really wanted to be in this community. I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want to go to a big city,” Emmons said.

He began his tenure as the director for emergency services at Oswego Hospital Jan. 3, overseeing a department that treats nearly 25,000 people per year.

From student to teacher, Emmons now provides instruction to New Vision Allied Health students during their rotations through the Oswego Healthcare System.

“Definitely if we have an interesting case or if we’re going to do a procedure, I’ll ask them to come in for that,” Emmons said of today’s New Vision students.

“It is very rewarding. When I’m teaching them I’m telling them, ‘Look, this program is really worthwhile if health care is something you want to do, this is definitely a good foot in the door,’” he said. “It’s also valuable to those who discover that healthcare is not what they are interested in — sometimes rotations are the only way to know.”

While New Visions does serve as a “sneak peek” into the medical field, the success of the program has been much more than a preview for students like Emmons.

The Oswego County BOCES Career and Technical Education Department offers three New Vision programs for high school seniors: Allied Health, Specialized Careers and Law and Government.

Each program provides a balance between classroom instruction and hands-on work in the career field.

For more information, visit oswegoboces.org or call 963-4255.

Fulton wrestlers strive for sectional, state supremacy

By Rob Tetro

The Fulton varsity wrestling team comes into the 2013-14 season with great expectations.

Varsity wrestling coach Chris Stalker said the Red Raiders are hard at work preparing to make a run at both a Section 3 Championship and The Class B State Championship.

However, Stalker is aware of the winning tradition associated with Fulton wrestling. In fact, he suggests the best way to respect the Red Raiders winning tradition is to duplicate it.

“We always want to be one of the top 10 teams in all of New York state,” Stalker said.

Fulton will have its work cut out for it to accomplish those goals. Only a few wrestlers return from last season’s team. For the most part, the Red Raiders are a young and inexperienced squad.

In preparation for the upcoming season, wrestlers have been allowed and encouraged to take part in the morning lift sessions available to them four days a week before school.

Fulton also has a wrestling club in which the school’s wrestlers can participate. The wrestling club is an open mat workout available to The Red Raiders 3 days a week.

Currently, Fulton is in good physical condition, but Stalker said there is room for improvement. On top of the morning workout sessions and the wrestling club, the Red Raiders practice usually lasts 2 to 2 ½ hours.

Stalker said recentl practices have gotten more and more intense. Aided by an additional 30 minutes of conditioning development, the wrestlers are showing they are physical capable of handling more intense practices.

The Red Raiders have not yet named team captains for the upcoming season. The criteria Stalker uses for naming a captain is based on leadership, commitment and initiative.

A wrestler Stalker is considering naming a captain is someone who leads both verbally and with action and makes the most out of every practice — a wrestler who takes advantage of the opportunities that the morning lift sessions and the wrestling club offer is also someone who could be named a captain.

As Stalker assess his teams’ schedule, two opponents immediately stand out —   Phoenix and Baldwinsville. Stalker considers those teams to be two of the top teams in all of Section 3.

The Red Raiders will be looking to avenge losses to both schools from last season.

Interestingly enough, Stalker feels his teams’ inexperience can be considered a strength. Thus far, Stalker’s young team has shown development as a result of a lot of hard work and enthusiasm.

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