Heroin use on the rise in Oswego County

By Ashley M. Casey

Heroin accounts for the majority of Oswego County’s drug cases, according to the county district attorney’s office.

“It has skyrocketed. It is out of control,” said Jeff Kinney, an investigator for the DA. Kinney retired as a lieutenant from the Fulton City Police Department. “It’s a complete switch from last year,” he added. Previously, most of the county’s drug offenses involved crack cocaine, marijuana and alcohol.

Kinney cited many reasons for the increase in heroin abuse within the county.

“The potency of heroin in the last decade or so has increased, so you don’t have to inject as much,” he said. Kinney said heroin is cheaper and more widely available than other drugs.

Oswego County Undersheriff Gene Sullivan said that heroin used to be a “boutique drug,” available only to those who could afford expensive narcotics.

“Back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, heroin was really expensive and really hard to get,” Sullivan said. “You just didn’t see it around here.”

Kinney also pointed to the recent painkiller addiction epidemic as a catalyst for heroin’s popularity. Heroin, like highly addictive painkillers such as hydrocodone and oxycodone, is an opiate drug.

David Guyer, resource coordinator for Oswego County’s Drug Treatment Court, made the prescription-street connection as well. He said some doctors may prescribe opioid painkillers “too liberally.”

“The addiction starts out as a legitimate opiate prescription from a doctor, or (the addict) takes someone else’s,” Guyer said.

He said people might sell excess pills, or teenagers might raid their parents’ medicine cabinet. Once the pills run out, heroin is a cheaper alternative for a similar high.

A study from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that prescription opiate addicts aged 12 to 49 are 19 times more likely than others in their age group to become addicted to heroin.

Guyer also said people with “unaddressed mental health reasons” may use illegal drugs such as heroin to self-medicate. “The heroin makes them feel better,” he said.

People of all types can become heroin users. Kinney said he could see no pattern in the demographics of heroin addicts involved in the cases he’s worked on.

“Based on our experience, it’s crossing all aspects of life. Race doesn’t matter. Occupation doesn’t matter,” Kinney said. “I think the trend is younger people are using it, but we know of older people using it too.”

Guyer said while the heroin cases he oversees are also a mix, there is somewhat of a socioeconomic pattern.

“Generally, I would say the people I deal with are of lower socioeconomic status,” he said. “However, I’ve seen people that come from more means that (use as well).”

A recent Post-Standard article reported that Onondaga County has already attributed 20 deaths to heroin overdose in 2013. That number is up tenfold from four years ago.

As of June 2013, no heroin deaths had been reported in Oswego County.

Kinney said he did not have figures on how many heroin overdoses Oswego County may have seen this year.

“Sometimes law enforcement isn’t called, and it’s found out later it was an opiate overdose,” he said.

Sullivan said that the heroin problem in Onondaga County has had a “ripple effect” on Oswego County. He said that people travel back and forth to Syracuse more often than they did in previous generations, and they may be bringing new drug trends back with them.

“For us, it almost ends up like a preview (of) things to be aware of,” Sullivan said. He added that this has made Oswego County law enforcement more “proactive” in tackling the county’s drug cases.

As for what can be done about the county’s growing heroin problem, there are many resources in place for addicts.

“From our perspective, we try through the drug court program … (to) divert more people into treatment,” Guyer said. He added that law enforcement officials have been “very supportive” of this plan.

Oswego County DA’s office to purchase equipment for local police agencies

The state is providing nearly $700,000 in grants so local law enforcement agencies can either purchase equipment for the first time or upgrade existing systems that allow them to video record interrogations, a practice widely recognized as enhancing the fairness and effectiveness of the criminal justice system.

In Oswego County, $11,708 will go to the Oswego County District Attorney’s Office for use with the Fulton, Oswego, Phoenix and Pulaski police departments and Oswego County Sheriff’s Office.

“With these grants, New York State is giving local law enforcement the resources they need to enhance the integrity, fairness and effectiveness of our criminal justice system,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “The practice of video recording interrogations helps prevent wrongful convictions and at the same time, protects investigators from false allegations. These grants will provide an important and recognized tool to law enforcement agencies that will help better protect our communities.”

District Attorneys’ offices in 29 counties across the state will use the grants to purchase or upgrade equipment for 150 agencies, including police departments and sheriffs’ offices, bringing the number of agencies that will use the technology statewide to about 400. There are more than 500 police departments and sheriffs’ offices in New York.

Of those 150 agencies, 55 are receiving grants from the state for the first time. With these grants, each of the state’s 62 counties will have agencies that video record interrogations.

Germanow joins Nelson Law Firm

Lawyer Lesley C. Germanow has joined the Nelson Law Firm, it was announced by Allison J. Nelson, owner.

Germanow will be responsible for representing clients in the areas of municipal law, real estate, business and corporate law, estate, trusts and vehicle and traffic matters.

Germanow is admitted to practice law in New York and the Northern District of New York Federal Court.

“Lesley has experience and skills that are an excellent match for our longstanding clients, “ Nelson said.  “We are delighted to have her expertise here at Nelson Law.”

Germanow earned her law degree from Syracuse University’s College of Law after she received her bachelor’s degree from College of Charleston. She previously owned her own law office in Fulton where she conducted her practice in appeals, traffic law, family law, real estate, land use planning and zoning and wills and estates.

Germanow has previously worked as a legislative assistant and paralegal.

Nelson Law Firm has strong ties to the community and serves a variety of leadership roles within community organizations and through its volunteer efforts.

In addition, Nelson Law Firm is a certified woman owned business enterprise with more than 75 combined years of experience, practicing in the areas of municipal law, real estate, business and corporate law, estate, trusts and vehicle and traffic matters.

For further information, call Nelson at 312-0318 or anelson@anelsonlaw.net.


2 join Burritt Motors staff

Dustin Geers and Andrew Halsey joined Burritt Motors recently as sales representatives, it was announced by Chris Burritt, owner.

“Dustin and Andrew have skills and qualifications that are an excellent match for the positions,” Burritt said. “ We’re delighted to add them to our growing sales team.”

Halsey had worked as a technician for a year at Burritt Motors before pursuing opportunities as an internet sales consultant. Halsey earned his associate degree in occupational studies as an automotive service technician from SUNY Alfred. He resides in Oswego.

Geers previously worked at a Syracuse dealership and earned his associate degree in business from the University of Phoenix. Geers resides in Oswego.

Burritt Motors’ history dates back to 1955 in Hannibal when Chris’ grandfather, Elmer O. Burritt, purchased a Chevrolet franchise that he operated until 1963.  To expand in a larger market, Chirs’ father, Richard, purchased the assets of a Chevrolet dealership that had been located on Oswego’s East Third Street.  About a year later, he built the present dealership on Route 104.

Burritt Motors recently completed a seven-month, $2.2 million expansion and renovation of their entire dealership.  The expansion included a new and expanded show room, new customer lounge, new service area with seven more service bays, a vehicle photo gallery to take a virtual test drive on the web site, and new administrative offices.

The dealership celebrates its 58th anniversary this year and can be reached at 343-8948, www.burrittmotors.com or www.themechanixgarage.com.



Deadline Dec. 4 for United Way mini-grants

United Way of Greater Oswego County is offering a limited number of mini-grants to community organizations.

The organizations must reflect the United Way’s mission and its five funding  categories: emergency services; heal and special needs; supporting families and children; senior services; and youth development.

United Way Executive Director Melanie Trexler said the mini-grants are for nonprofitsts serving Oswego County.

“Organizations that wish to apply for a mini-grant must submit a brief narrative that includes a description of the project and proposed activities, its goals, who it will serve and how it will benefit those served.

“The project must also have clear, measurable goals and a defined beginning and end. Applicants are also encouraged to partner with other community organizations on the project,” said Trexler.

Nonprofits wishing to apply for a mini-grant may download an application from the United Way website at www.oswegounitedway.org.

For more information, call Trexler at 593-1900, or send an email to melanieunitedway@windstream.net.

All proposals must be submitted no later than Dec. 4.

Kimberly Russell and Andrew Matteson wed July 6

Kimberly Hyde Russell and Andrew Jason Stanley Matteson were married July 6, 2013 at the West Baptist Church in Oswego by the Rev. David Nethercott.

The ceremony was followed by a reception at Lombardo’s Bridie Manor, Oswego.

The pride was escorted down the aisle by her mother, Georgia Hyde Russell, of Cicero. The groom is the son of Linda Sue Matteson, of Hannibal and the late Francis Earl Matteson.

The maids of honor were Kaitlin Doby and Brooke Lazore, friends of the bride. The best man was Kevin Matteson, brother of the groom.

Bridesmaids were Katie Kendrick, childhood friend of the bride and Dr. Beki Matteson, sister of the groom. Junior bridesmaid was Hannah Gigliotti, friend of the groom. Flower girls were Sarah and Lydia Gigliotti, friends of the groom.

The groomsmen were Doug Morgan and Rob Piascik, friends of the groom. Junior groomsman was Devante Ray, friend of the bride. Ring bearer was Kyle Doby McNally, friend of the bride.

Readings wee done by William Cross and John Manion, friends of the couple.

Kimberly is a graduate of Christian Brothers Academy and SUNY Oswego. She is employed by the North Syracuse and Hannibal school districts as a substitute teacher and she also is employed at Wegmans’ Cicero store.

Andy is a graduate of Hannibal High School and SUNY Oswego. He is employed as a teacher at Fairley Elementary School in the Hannibal school district.

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