Surprise! Surprise!

by Frank Castiglia, Fulton

I recently read a news story that wasn’t news to me or anyone that has been reading any of the letters I have been writing over the past four years.

In the news story, they give a lot of facts and figures saying how things are bad and they aren’t getting any better in Fulton. Also in the story, you can read the same thing being said by our mayor. Such as “We’ve done everything we could do” or “Until we get a handle on the health care, until we get a handle on the economy so everyone is not moving out, it’s going to get worse.”

Well, here is something new (only if you haven’t read or ignored what I have been saying for at least four years) — health care cost aren’t going to go down, more manufacturing companies are going to leave so you have to stop spending so much taxpayer money wastefully.

Even a high school student taking at least two classes in economics will tell you that when you spend more than you have coming in, you have to cut cost anywhere you can. That doesn’t not mean layoffs; that means cell phones, overtime, fuel costs, insurance costs, maintenance costs, and building costs (ie. two fire stations).

The same student will tell you that you have to increase revenues (not taxes, or user rates) so you can keep your costs to customers (taxpayers) down.

In the news story, the mayor said, “I don’t know what else we can do. If they know how to restructure it, I’m all ears.”

I think there in is the problem. You have to stop listening and start hearing. It seems that things go in one side and out the other.

The other famous saying our mayor has used in the past is something he stole from Einstein. It goes like this: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

Well, I have a saying, “Doing the same thing over and over and it’s not working and you don’t change it is foolish.”

I know that when people criticize you (city government) for the job you have done, you almost always take it personally. You (city government) have to stop taking it personally.

We can’t keep doing the same old, same old and think things will change.

Maybe now that it is “official” you will start to hear the things being said. God I sure hope so!

Fishing halibut

Leon Archer
Leon Archer

by Leon Archer

I have been wondering if the numerous heavy rains we have had this year will show up in a smaller crop of young turkeys.

I’ve been watching for birds as I have traveled here and there during the last month, but all I have seen so far has been two nice toms and one lonesome hen.

It’s getting to be time that some of this year’s broods should be in fields and alongside roads. I would be interested in hearing from readers about what they are seeing or not seeing as far as turkeys go. Is it going to be a lean year?

I have been seeing plenty of deer and quite a few fawns. The red summer coat certainly makes deer stand out in contrast to the green fields, more so I think than any other time of year, even winter.

It’s pretty hard to miss the summer deer, because there are not very many other things of that particular hue in the outdoors.

I was talking with Frank Maurer a few days back. He was about ready to make a trip to Alaska to go halibut fishing with a friend. I envy him. While fishing halibut is hardly an exciting kind of fishing, when one is successful the rewards are wonderful. Fresh caught halibut is a treat no matter how it is prepared for the table.

Don’t get the idea that I don’t enjoy halibut fishing, I do. One doesn’t troll for them or fish them with flies; although, it’s possible to catch them either of those ways, but one would really have to work at it and put a lot of time in.

Fishing a big chunk of cut fish on bottom is the most common way to target these big flat fish. Heavy metal jigs are successful as well, but working one of those babies all day is a chore I am no longer interested in doing.

A halibut when it is hooked puts up a dogged fight, but he doesn’t make long runs nor does he charge to the surface and get a person’s heart pumping with spectacular jumps.

He will do his best to stay on the bottom, trying to scrub the offending hook off or to tangle the line on an obstruction. Usually the bottom where halibut are found has few things to tangle on. If it did, the halibut would win a lot more often than he does, because a big halibut has a mountain of power when it is first hooked.

Fighting a halibut is mainly lift and crank as the heavy boat rod flexes with each thrust of the halibut’s wide tail and points to the bottom.

To read the rest of the column, pick up a copy of The Valley News. You can subscribe by calling 598-6397 or click on the link on our home page.


Students enjoy limousine ride to school as part of in-school banking program

Students from all five Oswego public elementary schools and Oswego Middle School enjoyed becoming “millionaires for a day” recently after their names were drawn from a hat as part of Compass Credit Union’s in-school banking program. Riley Elementary School riders Olivia Powers, Kathleen Winchek, Sophia Babcock, Jordan Ferlito, Tatum Winchek and Grace Tolley enjoy the smooth ride of the limousine.
Students from all five Oswego public elementary schools and Oswego Middle School enjoyed becoming “millionaires for a day” recently after their names were drawn from a hat as part of Compass Credit Union’s in-school banking program. Riley Elementary School riders Olivia Powers, Kathleen Winchek, Sophia Babcock, Jordan Ferlito, Tatum Winchek and Grace Tolley enjoy the smooth ride of the limousine.

Students from all five Oswego public elementary schools and Oswego Middle School enjoyed becoming “millionaires for a day” recently after their names were drawn from a hat as part of Compass Credit Union’s in-school banking program.

A part of the prize, the winning students enjoyed a high-class limousine ride to school with a handful of classmates, siblings and friends.

Later, Compass also provided a free pizza party for the winner’s classmates.

The six winners were Sofia Loayza of Leighton Elementary School, Josh Sterio of Kingsford Park Elementary School, Sophia Babcock of Riley Elementary School, Alexander Loomis of Fitzhugh Park Elementary School, Kasey Wells of Minetto Elementary School, and Nathaniel Ahart of Oswego Middle School.

“Students in our school banking program are really starting to understand the power of saving money and how rewarding it can be,” said Jackie Wiegand, marketing administrator for Compass. “For our grand-prize winners and their friends, the limousine ride to school is something they will always remember.”

Compass launched its first “Bank at School” program four years ago at Riley Elementary School and has since expanded the program to Leighton, Kingsford, Fitzhugh and Minetto, as well as Oswego Middle School.

Students who participate open savings accounts at the credit union, receive a free piggy bank and get small prizes for making deposits once a month during lunchtime.

Every time a student makes a deposit, he or she also gets their name put into a hat to win a prize at the end of the year. In May and June, Compass picked winners for Walmart gift cards, ice cream coupons from Bev’s in Oswego, Compass string backpacks and plastic “mood” cups with straws.

The grand prize was called “millionaire for a day,” which included the limo ride, the classroom pizza party and a special T-shirt. The limo was provided by G&G Limousine in Oswego.

Natalie Alton, Pennellville resident

Natalie Alton, 84, of Pennellville, died Wednesday,  June 26, 2013.

A native of Oswego, she live in New Jersey, Manlius, and Atlanta, Ga., before retiring to Pennellville.  She was a staple in the community.  She was a ready volunteer with various organizations and was an active member of the Red Hat Society.

She enjoyed cooking and gardening.

She is survived by her sons, Richard (Lisa) Alton, and Mark Alton; grandchildren, Greg (Beth) and Catherine (Jonathan); a sister, Bernadette Capeling (Clint); a great-granddaughter; and many nieces and nephews.

Calling hours will be held Wednesday July 3 from 4 to 7 p.m., followed by a brief prayer service at the Allanson-Glanville-Tappan Funeral Home, located at 431 Main St., Phoenix.

Contributions may be made to CNY SPCA, 5878 East Molloy Road, Syracuse, NY 13211.

Mexico captures title of best-tasting drinking water

The Village of Mexico captured the title of Oswego County’s best-tasting drinking water in an informal contest held June 13 at the Oswego Farmers’ Market.

Five municipal water districts took part in the 23rd annual contest.

Visitors were invited to taste samples of public drinking water and cast votes for their first and second choices.

Mexico was the winner with 55 points, followed by the Village of Pulaski with 51 points; Richland water district with 37 points; Oswego with 32 points; and Fulton with 26 points.

Mexico’s water will be entered in a regional competition and regional finalists from around the state will compete at the New York State Fair for the state’s best-tasting drinking water.

The village of Mexico won the title of best-tasting drinking water in New York State in 2002 and 1991.

Sixty-seven people voted in the Oswego County contest, which is sponsored by the Environmental Division of the Oswego County Health Department in conjunction with the New York chapter of the American Water Works Association.

Virginia Balcom, Pennellville resident

Virginia May Nelson Balcom, a lifetime resident of Pennellville, died Sunday, June 23, 2013.

She was born to Hazel May (Foster) and Earl W. Nelson March 31, 1931 at their home in Pennellville. She was a 1948 graduate of Phoenix schools. She was an avid reader and could always be found with a pair of knitting needles in her hands.

She was married to her husband, Francis, June 11, 1950; he died Aug. 29, 2008.

She started her working career at Sweet Brothers Co. in Phoenix as a bookkeeper. When she began her family, she focused her energy as a homemaker and a mom. In the 1970s, she began working for Phoenix schools, first as a teacher’s aide and then as a library assistant in the Cherry Street School.

In the early 1980s, she worked at TRIO Ceramics, helping to teach classes. Later, her talents were applied to painting and decorating wood crafts for shows and fairs.

She was active in many organizations, including Phoenix Chapter of Amaranth and Eastern Star. She gave many years of service to Pennellville Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary, serving in roles as secretary, vice president, and president.  She also served in the same roles for the Oswego County Ladies Auxiliary.

She was a member of Phoenix Senior Citizens, a past member of Phoenix UCC Church for more than 70 years, and a current member of the Pulaski UCC Church.

Besides her husband Francis, she was predeceased by a grandson, Scott Morrison.

Surviving are her son, Gordon W. of Parish; daughters, Linda L. Lyons of Oswego and Sherri A. Jackman and her husband, Paul, of Cicero; her son Alan F. and partner Robert Weiner of LaFayette; her grandchildren, Ryan J. Lyons, Lori L. Lyons, Nate and Wesley Ann Balcom, Jessica L. Lyons, Rebecca Balcom, Robert and Mandy Morrison; two great-grandsons; and several cousins, nieces and nephews.

Calling hours will be Thursday June 27 from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. at the Allanson-Glanville-Tappan Funeral Home, 431 Main St.,

Phoenix. Funeral services will be Friday at 10:30 a.m. in the funeral home with the Rev. Lauri J. Craig officiating.

Interment will be in Pennellville Cemetery, County Route 54.

Contributions may be made to Alzheimer’s Association of CNY or the American Cancer Society.

Blessing or bill of goods?

by Frank Castiglia, Fulton

At a recent Fulton Common Council meeting, a public hearing and vote on changing a certain area of the City of Fulton from M1 to R1A.

In that meeting, we were told a story about a couple that came back to Fulton in hopes of fulfilling their American dream of owning their own home in (the wife’s) hometown. I am glad that people want to come back to Fulton and I would like to see more of it.

My problem is…why this property and why this area of Fulton? There are many vacant homes in the city of Fulton that are in R1 and R1A Zoned areas.

Let’s take a little look back in time. It was 1965-1975 era and everything in Fulton looked great. The city leaders at that time sold the citizens of Fulton a bill of goods that at the time sounded and looked good. They told us that urban deployment was the way to go to get federal and state money and keep our taxes low.

They destroyed our beautiful and historic downtown. They also told the residents of a certain area that the best thing for them to do was be zoned M1 so they could sell their property easily to then Sealright. Everyone was happy.

Fast forward to 2013. With urban development came an increase in public assistance housing. Costs have driven many of the manufacturing out of our city. Now we have an increase in crime, an increase in taxes — both city and school— and increased cost mainly due to the bill of goods sold to us by the city leaders of 1965-1975 era.

Let me try and put this all together now. Over the past year or so, a certain landlord in Fulton was trying to buy a house that had been left vacant for over a year. He tried and tried to get the zoning board to change it back to an R2 and they (Zoning board) told him and two other buyers that they couldn’t do that without the city changing the law or the zone.

The zoning board has done a great job in lowing the number of rental properties in the city. Now, the above mentioned landlord couldn’t get or didn’t try to get anyone to sponsor a bill to change the zoning so he or one of the other two could buy the property.

I am very glad that a multi-unit rental was not put back on the tax rolls. We need single family homes. I thought it was all over and done with.

Then along came a city councilor from another ward that sponsored a bill to change the zoning from M1 to R1A because he wants to see a couple live their American Dream and we need to help the people of the southwest corner of the Fourth Ward.

Oh, did I fail to mention that this couple is related to him.

Now, when questioned about this, he had me read at the meeting the definition of the word relative in relationship to the code of ethics and a conflict of interest.

Because he is a second cousin, he is not forbidden from voting on this. We all have read about the couple — how they bought a house and started doing repairs only to find out that they couldn’t move in. This is where I have a problem or question.

Why wouldn’t they have had a lawyer find out what the zoning was way before they bought it and at least way before they started repairs. If building permits were needed to do the repairs, why didn’t the city code office tell them about the change?

Also, I have checked the tax records for this property and it doesn’t show them as an owner. Now, the only thing I can check is the tax records for the Oswego County property tax rolls.

I’m sure someone will come up with a real good story why it doesn’t show and it will be a good one…just like the last one.

If this all happened five years ago, way before the problem with the house being vacant, there never would be any questions or concerns.

It didn’t and I think the city taxpayers have been sold another bill of goods telling us how good this will be for us.

Only time will tell. I just fear that we have just added another nail into the casket for the city of Fulton. I really pray to God that I am wrong.

Suicide prevention

by Angela Marotta, Fulton

I am sending the following letter on behalf of Angela Marotta, a board member of the CNY Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Her contact information is below.

We must take action to prevent suicide. I lost my daughter, Ashley to suicide in 2007. It has taken me some time, but today I am dedicated to making suicide prevention my life’s mission.

Sadly, as the 10th leading cause of death, suicide continues to take an enormous toll on families, friends and entire communities. We must do more.

That is why last Thursday, I traveled to our nation’s capital to meet with members of Congress and urged their support of legislation furthering suicide prevention, education and research.

My involvement was part of a national movement coordinated by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention as part of their Annual Advocacy Forum.  Hundreds of volunteer advocates from across the country met with their members of Congress that day to encourage action to reduce suicide.

Even if you haven’t been personally affected by suicide, please take a moment to visit and learn how you can get involved here in New York.

Your hometown. Your news.