Local community developer to lead YMCAs in Oswego County

The collaboration between the Fulton Family YMCA and the Oswego YMCA has a new executive director.

Greg Mills of Oswego will lead the two YMCAs starting July 29. To take the post, he will step down as a longtime board member of the Oswego YMCA and as assistant director of the Oswego Community Development office.

“I see the Y as being the foundation to bringing healthy lifestyles and opportunities to our community,” Mills said. “The Y helps people gain confidence in managing their health and overcoming anything that keeps them from living their lives to the fullest. Being a part of that is powerful. I don’t think there’s a more ideal place for me to be.”

Fulton Family YMCA Board Chairman Steve Osborne said both Fulton and Oswego will benefit from Mills’ experience and passion. “He’s steeped in the Y spirit,” Osborne said. “He really does have a vision of both Ys as a true force for good in the community. He knows that the job is to make both Ys stronger. That’s going to be good for our Y and our community.”

Oswego YMCA Board Chairman Michael Segretto said he’s excited about Mills’ appointment. “He’s well versed on both Oswego and Fulton, and that’s what we needed,” Segretto said. “He brings to the table over 20 years of banking and nonprofit experience. I think he’s a great pick.”

The Fulton Family YMCA, the Oswego YMCA and the YMCA of Greater Syracuse have signed a one-year agreement to work together to serve the Fulton and Oswego communities. Under the agreement, the two Oswego County YMCAs will share administrative services and key staff. Each YMCA will retain its own board, its own finances and its own identity.

Under the agreement, Mills is employed by the YMCA of Greater Syracuse and reports to the boards of both the Fulton and Oswego YMCAs. Mills said he plans to divide his time equally between the two Ys. His first job, he said, is to create a joint leadership team and to help all employees find their niche within the collaboration. “

There’s an opportunity for people to look at their jobs and identify where they feel they’re best suited,” he said. “There will be more opportunities.”

Through its strong relationship with the YMCA of Greater Syracuse and its CEO, Hal Welsh, the new coalition will have access to expertise, programs and other resources that can help it better meet community needs, Mills said.

“Bringing two agencies together that have the same mission is very positive for both communities,” Mills said. “The Syracuse Y has people who can make those efforts much more productive and successful. This is an opportunity for us to be mentored by a successful organization. At the end of this year, we’ll be a better organization, a better YMCA.”

Welsh said he will work with Mills to create a growth strategy plan for both YMCAs. The plan will help the Ys reach their fiscal objectives and position them as community leaders in the areas of youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Working in Mills’ favor are his commitment to health, his many local connections, and his more than 20 years of experience in the areas of banking, community development, writing and administering grants and facilities management, Welsh said.

Mills earned a management degree with a concentration in marketing from the State University of New York at Geneseo. He first came to Oswego in 1989 as a branch manager for Columbia Bank. In 1992, Mills began a 13-year career with Pathfinder Bank, where he served as vice president of market development. He later served as a financial consultant, banker and sales representatives for firms in Oswego and Wayne counties before returning to Oswego in 2011 to work in the city’s Community Development Office.

Mills has a history of volunteer service, including service on the Oswego County Planning Board and boards of directors for the Oswego County Historical Society, the United Way of Oswego County and Literacy Volunteers of Oswego County, among others. He currently serves on the Oswego County advisory board for ARISE and the Oswego Children’s Museum board.

Law banning smoking in restaurants turns 10

For many of us, it seems like a lifetime ago when we were asked if we wanted to be seated at the smoking or non-smoking section in our local restaurant.

For Zachary and Matthew Metott, it was an actual lifetime ago. The Metott boys turn 10 years old this year and have never known a world where smoking was allowed in New York state restaurants. July 24th is the 10th anniversary of the Expanded Clean Indoor Air Act, most commonly known for prohibiting smoking in bars and restaurants.

The 2003 state law banned smoking in almost all workplaces, bars, restaurants, bowling facilities, taverns and bingo halls and protected millions of New Yorkers from daily exposure to second-hand smoke and the illnesses it causes.

When the Metott boys were asked their thoughts on having smoking and non-smoking sections in restaurants Matthew replied, “That’s just weird!” Zachary added “I’d wonder why they were doing that.”

Zachary and Matthew met at Vona’s Restaurant to talk with the Tobacco Free Network of Oswego County about this milestone. Vona’s was one of the first Oswego restaurants to go smoke-free, making the decision before New York even passed the Expanded Clean Indoor Air Act. The boys also had strong opinions on being exposed to smoke in restaurants.

“We wouldn’t want to go there to enjoy time with our family because it would hurt us or make our little sisters sick,” said Zachary.

A recent survey of bars and restaurants in Oswego County revealed that compliance with the law 10 years later is excellent. In fact, there was a 100 percent compliance rate at the time of the unannounced survey. Despite the success of this law and the countless lives that have been saved, smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and kills more than 25,000 New Yorkers every year.

The U.S. Surgeon General characterizes youth smoking as a pediatric epidemic, and states that the evidence is clear that tobacco marketing causes youth to start smoking, and most start before they reach the age of 18.

“Smoking is still a problem in Oswego County and New York state as whole, particularly among teens,” said Abby Jenkins, Program Coordinator of the Tobacco Free Network of Oswego County. “Zachary and Matthew have never known a time when smoking was allowed in restaurants. Maybe the next generation of 10 year olds will never know a time when they were inundated with tobacco marketing.”

For more information about efforts to reduce smoking and protect youth from tobacco marketing, visit www.tobaccofreenys.org.

In and Around Hannibal: Schools in Hannibal

by Rita Hooper

There’s an old adage that if you don’t know what to write about – just keep writing and it will come. That’s sort of my predicament tonight except I want to share some info provided me my Mary Pawlenko Phillips on when she was a student at North Hannibal School. However, I know many of my readers will say, “Huh, never heard of North Hannibal School,” so I think it best if I do a little background work.

This may just turn into a series on schools of Hannibal.Once again, I’m indebted to the Hannibal Historical Society’s Hannibal History in “pictures and prose,” as compiled by Lowell Newvine for much of my information.

Hannibal Central Schools became centralized into one district in 1949 by a vote of 767 to 318. This new district encompassed approximately 90 square miles and included the Town of Hannibal and portions of the towns of Oswego, Granby and Sterling. The student body that first year was about 670 with teachers and staff numbering 38.

Let me imagine the discussions around the kitchen tables and at the local hangout back then: “Why we’ve been running this school for over a 100 years and we dun just fine.” “All those kids will have to be bussed – whose going to pay for all those busses?” “But the children will have more options in a bigger school – like sports and music.” “The kids will have a more uniform education – one that meets higher standards…following the guidelines of the NYS Board of Regents.” “While it will cost more in the beginning, it will be more economical in the long run.” “The children learn just fine, because all the students are in the same room. Younger students have the advantage of also listening to the lessons taught to their older peers. In a similar manner, the upper level students could coach their younger counterparts.”

By the way, the first school session was held in Hannibal Center in 1810. Laura Kent was the first teacher, a daughter of one of Hannibal’s earliest families having moved here from Vermont. Just think Mayor Kent could have been a Green Mountain Boy!

Before centralization, there were 15 school houses in the area. They were one-room structures most of them made of wood. Student desks would be in rows and the building was heated by a pot-bellied stove in the middle of the room. Those near the stove roasted and those far from it shivered. Usually one teacher taught all the children in grades 1-8 and they also did the custodial work.

To read the rest of the column, pick up a copy of The Valley News or subscribe by calling 598-6397

Good bye, Fulton

by Andrew Henderson

The great New York Yankee Yogi Berra coined many bewildering phrases and he is perhaps one of the most quoted personalities of our time.

These utterances, now called “Yogi-isms,” have invaded our society, often bringing us delight in the simplicity and truthfulness of these phrases. “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over” is arguably his most famous and often quoted “Yogi-ism.”

This utterance brings relevance to me personally as this is my last Laughing Through Life column. Yesterday was my last day at The Valley News.

It has been a great and rewarding career as I have tried to deliver the best and most comprehensive local news coverage to your mailboxes twice a week. For nearly 14 years, I have been a part of this community. You welcomed me in. You were quick to say hello and offer a smile.

And to that, I say, thanks.

Even though I grew up in Phoenix and currently live in Onondaga County, I consider myself a Fultonian. I love this community. I love the people. I even appreciate those who called and complained. Without you, I wouldn’t be doing my job.

I have many people to thank, so if you will just bear with me…

First and foremost, I want to thank Vince and Ron Caravan for their trust and faith in me. Three months after I was hired in 2000, they saw it worthy to promote me to managing editor. The Caravans are true champions in journalism. I have learned a lot from them ­ — not just about the newspaper business and journalism, but about life, family, integrity, and faith.

Vince and Ron, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You are truly newspapermen and I only hope that I was half the newspaperman that you both are.

To all my co-workers over the years, I thank you for putting up with me and my sometimes over-the-line antics. Thank you for making this job fun. Obviously, I am limited by space and cannot list every one who I worked with over the years, but there are some who stand out the most in my mind:

• Former production coordinator Roger Beck is more than a colleague. He is a good friend and I will cherish our friendship. Thank you.

• Former graphic artist Jeri Jones made my job fun. I will never forget the way she laughs, jokes, and giggles. Keep giggling, Jeri!

• Former graphic artist Richard Forbes is one of my favorite people of all time. We would often exchange barbs and jokes, piling on each other with put-downs, all in jest, of course. ‘Zat you, Santa Claus?

• Office Manager Carolyn Eaton and Receptionist Roxanne Seeber are quality people in my book. But, of course, most of you already know that.

• Former Assistant Editor Nicole Reitz is a very talented feature writer. She is also a great person whom I will miss dearly. Good luck in your new career!

• To all the sales representatives, especially Allyson McManus, I thank you for your faith in me. I truly appreciate and honor you all!

• Former graphic artist Jeff Adkins is a baseball nut like me. We could talk baseball for hours and hours. Thanks and go Cardinals!

• Photographer Kelly LeVea was always there when I needed her. Thanks for putting up with last-minute photo appointments!

• Outside of the Caravans, I probably learned most from Roy Hodge, former publisher of the Fulton Patriot and my partner in crime in hundreds and hundreds of Fulton Common Council and Fulton Board of Education meetings. Thanks, Roy!

• Reporter Carol Thompson has always kept me on my toes. Over the years, I have learned to lean on her knowledge and expertise and for that, I thank you.

There is probably dozens and dozens of people who I am forgetting. Please forgive me if I did not mention you. The reporters, columnists, and photographers are the reason for the success of The Valley News. It’s not the editor. It’s the workers. Thank you and job well done.

I would also like to thank the folks at Scotsman Media Group, including former Publisher Tom Cuskey, Sharon Henderson and all the artists in the composition department, and Associate Publisher Rich Westover. It’s been a pleasure working with you all. Thanks for all the cupcakes and cheesecake!

Of course, there are the people, groups, and organizations that I covered for the paper. Thank you for allowing me to do my job. I just don’t have the space to list you all. You know who you are.

And then there is you, the readers and members of this community. What else can I say? Thanks for allowing me to be a part of this community. Thanks for allowing me to bring you the news.

As I am writing this, a thought just occurred to me. There’s a good chance that I might never travel to Fulton again. It’s a sad and sobering thought. But know this: Even if I never step a foot into this great city and community again, Fulton will always have a special place in my heart.

God bless you all!

Exciting news at your hometown newspaper

For years, you’ve trusted the Valley News to be your No. 1 source for fair and accurate coverage of news and community happenings in your hometown. In an effort to continue that, we are excited to announce we are expanding our staff.

First, we welcome Tracy Kinne as managing editor. Kinne is no stranger to Oswego County or journalism. As a lifelong resident of the county, she has dedicated the last two decades to covering news at local papers like The Post-Standard, Watertown Daily Times, Oswego County Weeklies and more.

Kinne has a long history of solid reporting, editing and a track record of leading coverage with a keen eye for news and journalistic integrity.

Ashley M. Casey will be joining the reporting team as an assistant editor. Casey is a graduate of Le Moyne College and has been writing for Today’s CNY Woman magazine and Finger Lakes Vacationer, also published by the Scotsman Media Group. Her fresh approach to coverage will be a welcome addition to the Valley News.

Debbie Groom will be an investigative reporter covering a variety of issues including Oswego County government. Groom certainly knows her way around a newsroom and has been both an editor and reporter at papers such as The Post-Standard, Utica Observer-Dispatch and the Plattsburgh Press-Republican.

As an award-winning journalist, skilled in social media and research, Groom will give an assured voice to the community. Rich Westover has been promoted to associate publisher of sales for the Scotsman Media Group, which includes the Valley News. This promotion allows Westover to take a lead role in guiding the company’s sales team for all publications.

Finally, Cammi Clark will drive the direction of the publications as associate publisher. As an award-winning journalist, formerly at The Post-Standard, Clark led the creation of Today’s CNY Woman magazine. While she will continue in her lead role with the magazine, her company role has expanded to include leading editorial for the Valley News as well.

We are excited about the upcoming opportunities that the staff changes will provide in our efforts to continue to stand strong as your hometown newspaper!

Hot times

by Leon Archer

Man, is it me or have we had a lot more hot sticky weather than is usual in upstate New York this year?

Sure, I can remember plenty of days in my 70-plus years when the temperatures pushed 100 and nights were so humid that the sheets on my bed were wet from sweat almost before I hit the hay, but

I don’t remember such long stretches of uncomfortable heat. I haven’t checked the historic weather records, so maybe it’s just my sometimes faulty memory, but in any case, I don’t believe anyone would deny it’s been really steamy so far in 2013.

The heat hasn’t left me with any desire to go fishing lately, but if I was so inclined I would probably opt for going out on the open water in a boat.

I certainly wouldn’t take a hot sweaty hike down a little trout stream, but sitting beside a lake, pond or big stream in a folding chair with a cooler of cold drinks at my side while I waited for a bite would be acceptable as long as the fish didn’t keep me too busy.

We had a family reunion last week and all my children and grandchildren were here with the exception of my oldest grandson, Willie, a marine deployed overseas.

We did a picnic at Fairhaven and a trip to Boldt Castle in the St. Lawrence, but mostly we did inside things where we could take advantage of air conditioning. The youngsters all went to Sea Breeze one day, but Sweet Thing and I stayed home and relaxed.

Usually when we have our biannual family reunion we do some fishing, but I wasn’t able to put it together with the rest of the things we were doing.

Now that the reunion has run its course, a weekend in Canada at my son’s property on 30 Island Lake is in the cards and I’m looking forward to that.


To read the rest of the column, please pick up a copy of The Valley News or subscribe by calling 598-6397


Fire department offers free smoke detectors

Free smoke detectors – With the help of Eagle Beverage and Raby’s Ace Home Center, the Oswego Fire Department is offering free smoke detectors to owner-occupied residences in need. From left are Lt. Brooks Hourigan, secretary of The Oswego Firefighters Association; Rob Raby of Raby’s Ace Home Center; Jeff McCrobie, fire chief; Dan Dorsey Jr., co-owner of Eagle Beverage; and John Geraci, president of the Oswego Fire Fighters Association.
Free smoke detectors – With the help of Eagle Beverage and Raby’s Ace Home Center, the Oswego Fire Department is offering free smoke detectors to owner-occupied residences in need. From left are Lt. Brooks Hourigan, secretary of The Oswego Firefighters Association; Rob Raby of Raby’s Ace Home Center; Jeff McCrobie, fire chief; Dan Dorsey Jr., co-owner of Eagle Beverage; and John Geraci, president of the Oswego Fire Fighters Association.

Oswego residents in need of a smoke detector need to look no further!

With the help of Eagle Beverage and Raby’s Ace Home Center, the Oswego Fire Department is offering free smoke detectors to owner-occupied residences in need.

“This program is an outstanding example of people helping people,” said Jeff McCrobie, Oswego fire chief.

Eagle Beverage kicked off its “Paint the Town Black” fund-raiser in early March, selling Guinness Firefighter Helmets at more than 40 taverns, restaurants, and convenience stores in Jefferson and Oswego counties.

All the money raised was matched dollar for dollar by Eagle Beverage and passed along to local fire departments in the area.

The Oswego Fire Department was given a check for $934 dollars. The department will use the money to help buy smoke detectors.

“The association chose to purchase smoke detectors for local residents in need with the money donated and contacted Raby’s, who donated 100 detectors,” said John Geraci, president of the Oswego Fire Fighters Association. “Raby’s was also generous enough to provide other detectors at a reduced price.”

“We are so glad to see the money raised with the generosity of the community put to good use,” said Dan Dorsey, Jr. co-owner of Eagle Beverage. “Being that this was the first year we did the fund-raiser and having such a positive turn out, we are looking forward to next year and raising more money to give back to the local fire departments. “

Those seeking more information on this program may call the Oswego Fire Department at 343-2161.




Family reunion

by Leon Archer

I was at the loop two weeks ago on a calm day and as I sat at a picnic table I could count 17 boats well out on the lake, probably fishing for trout and salmon.

I could imagine what was taking place on those craft as they trolled their lures and watched their arched down rigger rods for a strike.

The salmon are silver bright right now and full of fight. Some nice browns are out there with them and they have not turned into their fall colors yet. I munched my haddock sandwich and envied those fishermen just a bit.

My Lake Ontario afternoon was part of the Archer family reunion. All my children and grandchildren were here with the exception of my oldest grandson, Willie, a marine deployed at the present time. Rudy’s and the Loop are so ingrained in the areas culture and my kid’s memories that we had to go at least once.

Some of the fishermen coming into port had been into great fishing and it appeared that this year’s Oswego County Pro-Am Salmon and Trout Team Tournament should be a good one.

To read the rest of the column, pick up a copy of The Valley News or subscribe by calling 598-6397

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