Board seeks community input for superintendent search

By Colin Hogan

Fulton City School District officials are looking for community input as they move forward with the search to replace Superintendent Bill Lynch, who will retire at the end of the 2015-16 school year.
Late last week, board members selected a consultant to help guide the district though the process, and put together a survey they hope district residents will utilize to offer input for the search.
The survey is currently posted on the district’s website, where it will remain available until Sept. 23. For those without internet access, the board will provide hard copies of the survey at each school building’s open house this fall. Cordone said at least one board member will be present at each open house to hear input and help residents fill out the survey.
“We’re encouraging people to use the online survey, but we do want to include everyone’s input and we know there are some people in the district who might not be able to access the website,” Cordone said. “We felt it was important that we have something for those who don’t have internet access, so those people can attend any open house and we will have a board member present with a paper copy.”
The board has selected Dr. Vincent J. Coppola of the Western New York Educational Service Council to help with the search and hiring process. A former superintendent in the Corning City School District, Coppola is the lead consultant for the council, which has completed approximately 400 searches for school superintendents since 1966. He has also taught graduate courses in school administration at two Buffalo-area colleges and is a frequent speaker at state and national education conferences, according to biographical information provided to the board.
Locally, Coppola recently assisted with the hiring of Mexico Central School District’s new superintendent.
“We looked into several candidates and (Dr. Coppola’s) profile shows he’s worked with a number of school districts with a proven track record, and he’s not foreign to this area, having recently worked in the Mexico school district,” Cordone said.
Coppola will be working with a partner, as well, Robert Christmann, who, in addition to assisting in numerous superintendent searches, has taught administrators in the statewide Superintendents Development Program and is the current president of the National School Development Council.
Cordone said Coppola and the board have planned out a timeline that should result in a new superintendent being named by the first week of 2016.
On Sept. 17, the consultants and board members will meet with several 10- to 12-person subgroups that will provide input for the search, including but not limited to a parent group, community leaders, the teachers’ association, the administrators’ association, office staff and student groups. Later in the process, each of those groups will provide two representatives to sit on an interview team that will get to meet with candidates and provide the school board with an advisory opinion, Cordone said.
The information collected through the survey and meetings with subgroups helps build the profile the board will use to advertise the position to potential candidates, Cordone said. Once the board has gathered all the information it needs for that profile, it will be publicized through multiple school-oriented job recruitment outlets. The district will also be sending a notice of vacancy to other school districts throughout the state, Cordone said.
“All of that work will be done up front in September and will be sent out at the beginning of October,” Cordone said. “Then from Oct. 1 through Nov. 1, candidates will be able to apply for the position.”
The board will then vet the candidates in November. In early December, the team comprised of community and district stakeholders will conduct interviews of approximately six semi-finalists and give an advisory opinion to the school board, which will then conduct the final interviews and make its selection.
“Ultimately we hope to announce our selected candidate the first week of January,” Cordone said.
The survey can be found by visiting Those without internet access may call their nearest school to find out when it will be holding its open house, at which they can fill out a hard copy of the survey.

Consultant lays out options for Granby’s fire facilities

By Matthew Reitz

Several options were unveiled last week at the second of three public meetings hosted by the Granby’s First Fire District regarding an ongoing feasibility study of the department’s buildings, vehicles and equipment.
Sean Foran, executive project manager for Heuber-Breuer, which is conducting the study, addressed members of the community and revealed what has been discovered so far throughout the process. Foran said the company was about two-thirds of the way through the information-gathering process, and stressed that nothing has been decided yet on the future of the department’s building and equipment. He said the study will merely provide recommendations, and it will be up to the department and the voters to decide what to do with the information.
“Nothing might happen for a year or two, but everything will be available and valid for the future,” Foran said. “None of this is set in stone; it’s just trying to get us on the right option.”
Hueber-Breuer recently sent an inspector through the building to identify areas that could be improved. Foran laid out five options, which included building a new station on the existing site, building a new station at a different location, renovating/repairing the current building, building an addition and renovating/repairing the station, and consolidating the district.
Foran said the “biggest problem (in the building) is the fire bays,” which he described as having “zones where people are going to get hurt.” There is only about an inch of clearance above the fire engines when they’re pulled inside the building, and slightly more on either side of the vehicle. Foran said the lack of clearance has created “pinch points,” and he also pointed out that the district has had to pay extra to have modifications made to new trucks in order for them to fit the space. Fire Commissioners Peter Holmes and Tim Carly both confirmed the district has incurred additional costs in the past for vehicle modifications due to the size of the fire bays.
Building a new station on the existing site would cost an estimated $3.9 million, according to Foran. Heuber-Breuer estimates that a new facility would ideally be around 12,800 square feet in comparison to the roughly 8,100 square feet of the existing building. The company was able to rule out building a station at a new site after analyzing the call volume over the last three years. Foran said there would be “no advantage” to moving the department because it’s already located in close proximity to the majority of its calls.
Renovating and repairing the building would cost about $618,144, but would not address the issue of the undersized engine bays. It would make necessary upgrades to the electrical service, remove asbestos, replace a failing septic system, and streamline the building to better serve the public and decrease response times. It would cost approximately $2.6 million to renovate, repair and build an addition to solve the space issue in the engine bays.
The final option, consolidation of the district, is “still being developed,” and will be discussed in the future. Foran said the company will also provide estimates on how much each option would cost the taxpayers of Granby at the next meeting.
Community members can visit to track the progress of the study and provide input. The third and final public meeting will be held Oct. 15, at which time Heuber-Breuer will unveil more information and the public will have one last chance to weigh in with their thoughts. In December, the final product of the study, a Facilities Master Plan for the First Fire District, will provide a report that should help the district plan the next 30 to 50 years of major expenses.

Polish Festival to celebrate 10th year

By Matthew Reitz

The 10th annual Fulton Polish Festival will kick off at noon on Sept. 19 at the Fulton Polish Home in celebration of the culture’s music, food, dancing and more.
Event organizer John Kruk said in addition to “keeping our Polish heritage alive,” it also helps bring money into the Polish Home. Kruk said the Polish Home is important to the entire Fulton community because there aren’t many other venues for the city’s residents to host large events.
The building, constructed in 1949, is due for renovations that include electrical work, a new furnace and new flooring, Kruk said. All proceeds from this year’s festival will all go toward the Polish Home Building Fund, he said. In the past the proceeds have also contributed to a scholarship fund, but Kruk described that fund as “flush” and said this year’s proceeds would be better used on repairs.
The family-friendly event is open to the public and admission is free. The event is highlighted by a wide range of Polish food and drink inside, as well as hot dogs and hamburgers outside—all reasonably priced, according to Kruk. The Polish selections will include golabki (a type of stuffed cabbage), kapusta (a cabbage stew with meat), pierogies (a potato-stuffed dumpling), kielbasa from the Pulaski Meat Market in Utica, and Polish beer. Kruk said the golabki is especially popular, with almost 900 of them sold last year.
“There will be Polish dancers, kielbasa sandwiches—a little bit of everything,” Kruk said. “The place has been packed the last few years.”
The Concertina All-Stars, an eight-piece polka band from Buffalo, will headline the entertainment, which also includes Jasiu Klocek performing with his accordion. The Concertina All-Stars have “a unique sound,” Kruk said. Much of that sound can be attributed to an unorthodox lineup that includes three concertinas, which Kruk described as “small accordions.” Those who attend the event can sit down and have a Polish dinner while listening to Polish music, and “even dance a little” if they want, Kruk said.
Now celebrating a full decade, Kruk took some time to reflect on how the festival came to be and some of the key players in its continued success. He said years ago his father told him what a great venue the Polish Home would be for a festival, and knowing that the organization—which has been around for over 100 years—was looking to “raise money for scholarships and to keep the building going,” Kruk and others launched the first festival.
“When we started we didn’t really know how to do this,” Kruk said. He said it takes “a lot of man power” to put on the festival, and credited Dora Roik, Bob Vayner, Bob Pietrucha, Marysia and Ray Czachor, Dave Morrell, Vinnie Valelunga, and others as being instrumental in its development and success. After planning throughout the year, many of the organizers start preparing the Polish foods as early as the Tuesday before the event, when they begin coring and cooking the cabbage that becomes golabki and kapusta.
The event will run from noon to 7 p.m. Sept. 19, with entertainment beginning at 2 p.m.

Stephen R. Polacek, III

Polacek, StephenStephen R. Polacek, III, 76, of Palermo passed away on Tuesday, September 1, at home surrounded by his family.  He was born on May 22, 1939 in Syracuse, N.Y.  Stephen served proudly in the US Navy.  He had worked on construction for many years and he retired from Chrysler New Venture Gear after 23 years of service.  He was a devoted family man.  Stephen was an avid fisherman, outdoorsman and was a professional Santa Clause for children for over 20 years.  He was predeceased by his father, Stephen R. Polacek; step-mother, Sophie Polacek; mother, Jane Polacek; brother, Ronald Polacek and daughter, Barbara King.
He will be greatly missed and forever loved by his wife of 50 years Nancy Garrison Polacek; four children, Bonnie (Robert) Laforte, Debi (Joseph) Firenze, Ronald (Gidget) Kastler and Stephen Polacek IV; first born grandson and best friend, Jason (Nicole) Mace; grandchildren, Rebecca (Gary) Bevacqua, Jennifer (Tom) Bryson, Joshua Sixberry, Edwin Soble III, Jeremiah Kastler, Jessica Soble, Stephanie Tassone, Amanda Sixberry, Trevor Polacek, Kevin King, Jr.,  Ashley Polacek and Zachariah William Stephen Kastler; many great-grandchildren; son-in-law, Kevin King; brother, John Polacek; sister, Kathy Moody, as well as several nieces, nephews, relatives and close friends.
Calling hours and a service were held Saturday, Sept. 5, at Foster Funeral Home, 910 Fay Street, Fulton. Burial was in Roosevelt Cemetery, state Route 49, Schroeppel. In lieu of flowers, please make contributions in his name and memory to Make a Wish Foundation of CNY,

“My children are afraid to be in their yard…”

Residents on Ellen Street in Fulton recently found used syringes, razors and other items believed to be used for heroin injection littered across their yard.
Residents on Ellen Street in Fulton recently found used syringes, razors and other items believed to be used for heroin injection littered across their yard.
Fulton family finds hazardous drug paraphernalia littered on property
By Colin Hogan

A Fulton family is still shaken up after discovering hazardous paraphernalia — apparently used for heroin injection — strewn across their Ellen Street yard Sunday.
Meegan Adkins, the mother of the house, said the family discovered several suspicious items, including uncapped syringes and bloody gauze, that were left exposed in an area where her 7- and 8-year-old daughters play. According to her, the items were left there by either a tenant or visitor to her next-door neighbor’s property.
As they often do on Sundays, the family was getting ready for a leisurely afternoon of grilling and backyard fun until Adkins’ husband, Jeff, noticed some litter strewn around their trampoline.
“He was just starting up the grill when he yelled to me to look at the debris near the trampoline,” Adkins said. “We looked closer and found five or six needles — some uncapped — bloody gauze, some papers, a razor, and then other things the people had left behind like a Polaroid photo and handwritten note.”
Adkins promptly called the police. She said the responding officer confirmed to her that the papers had most likely contained heroin, and the syringes were likely used to inject it. According to Adkins, the officer initially said the police don’t clean up such items from private property and suggested she contact a hazardous materials clean-up agency, and then sue her neighbor for the expense. The officer did, however, eventually clean up the needles and razor, she said. He then went to the neighbor’s house and had someone there clean up the other items.
Fulton Deputy Police Chief Thomas Abelgore stressed in an interview with the Valley News that the department does clean up things it deems to be a hazard — such as syringes or razors apparently used for drugs — regardless of whether they are on public or private property.
“We do pick up needles. They are a hazard whether on public or private property, and we would encourage people to contact the police department if they find something like that,” Abelgore said.
On Monday, Adkins posted photos of the items on Facebook. Within 24 hours, more than 800 people had either commented on or shared the post. As of press time Thursday, that figure was closer to 1,100.
“This is clearly an issue a lot of people in our community are concerned with,” said Ryan Raponi, the city councilor for the third ward, where the Adkins family lives.
Adkins said this isn’t the first time her daughters have been frightened by their neighbors’ activities. For the last two years, they have played witness to several unnerving incidents that she said have left her children afraid to be on their own property, including a police raid that reportedly involved stolen guns and, later, a stabbing  — incidents Raponi also corroborated.
Adkins said her family was awoken one night in the spring of 2014 by police yelling orders to someone to “tell us where the guns are” from directly under her bedroom window.
“That’s terrifying to a kid, and us. Then there was a stabbing that happened there, and there’s all sorts of sketchy traffic and teenagers coming in and out all day,” Adkins said.
Raponi said he has visited every home on Ellen Street to stress the need for community involvement on this issue.
“This has been going on for two years, and the only way this is going to get truly resolved is if the community comes together and starts reporting things to police every time they see something suspicious,” Raponi said. “If you can take down a license plate number without risking exposing yourself, that’s the sort of thing we need to be doing in order to help the police, because a lot of times their hands are tied, and they can’t just come park outside a suspicious house and watch all day. I know if there was more they could do, they would.”
Abelgore said, while combating heroin is a major issue in this area, the problem is not isolated to Fulton.
“This is not just a city of Fulton problem. It’s an epidemic throughout central New York and the rest of the state,” Abelgore said.
In addition to all of the arrests that are directly related to heroin use or sale, Abelgore said local police are constantly responding to crimes peripheral to heroin addiction, such as burglaries, fraud, shoplifting or other theft committed by addicts in pursuit of more drugs. He said police are also frequently called in to assist with EMS responses that are related to heroin.
“This is a big issue that has permeated our community, without a doubt,” Abelgore said.
Raponi, whose council term ends this year and is not seeking re-election, said he hopes to establish a neighborhood watch in the third ward in the near future.
The Adkins family, though, still wishes there was a more immediate solution to the problem that has now spilled over into their yard.
“My children are afraid to be in their own yard now. They’re afraid of their neighbors, afraid to do things outside because they’ve been woken up in the middle of the night hearing these conflicts and seeing these bloody razors and needles strewn in their yard,” Adkins said. “All I can think is thank God my 7- or 8-year-old didn’t try to pick up one of those needles or razors.”

Editor’s Note:
Jeff Adkins is the production supervisor for
The Valley News and Palladium-Times.

City takes on energy savings initiative

By Matthew Reitz

Fulton city officials are moving forward with a project that they say will conserve energy, reduce costs and improve the comfort of some city facilities.
Following approval from the Common Council this week, Mayor Ron Woodward Sr. will now sign an agreement with Honeywell Building Solutions that will integrate, monitor, and control the various building systems. The new system will replace a costly and declining chiller, and upgrade the controls for the building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. Woodward expects the project to begin later this year, and Honeywell anticipates a 12-month installation period.
Woodward said the $513,213 project focuses on the Fulton’s municipal building, which is one of the city’s major energy consumers. The bulk of the money will go toward improving the performance and efficiency of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems that cover the police, fire and city offices.
The heating and cooling system in the building has not been replaced in many years, and the city is subject to considerable costs because of the inefficient nature of the current system. Woodward said the project will eventually pay for itself by lowering utility and maintenance costs.
“The savings we’re predicting will pay for the costs,” Woodward said.
The total savings could be more than $50,000 per year, according to Honeywell. The largest savings will come from 10 energy conservation measures that are expected to save the city over $30,000 each year.
The largest of the energy conservation measures is a time-of-day scheduling feature that Honeywell says could save the city as much as $7,500 each year. The time-of-day scheduling will scale back the heating and cooling when the building is not occupied at night and on weekends. The fire and police departments are occupied around the clock and will operate as they do now, but the city offices are only occupied about 30 percent of the time and the new controls will reflect that.
“They’re putting a system in that will shut down when there’s not people in the building,” Woodward said.
Woodward also said many of the large motors and fans in the building that don’t work properly and are inefficient will be replaced with new, energy-efficient variable speed motors. This could save over $13,000 each year, according to Honeywell, mostly from reduced electricity costs associated with running the motors.
The automated controls and improved heating and cooling provided by the project could make for a significant improvement on the existing system. The new system will also include motion sensor lighting to help conserve energy, and the city will install LED lighting throughout the municipal building. That work will be completed by the city. City officials are comparing the available grant and rebate programs, and hope to get reimbursed for some of those costs.
The city will be making a $50,000 down payment, and financing the remaining $463,213 over 10 years through the sale of municipal bonds. Woodward said the city expects to receive at least $30,000 in rebates from National Grid.
Other News
The common council authorized Woodward to execute the sale of 10 West Third Street North, a property acquired by the city through tax foreclosure earlier this year. The agreed upon sale price, contingent on the city paving the driveway and finishing the sidewalk, is $85,200. The property is one of several that the city has rehabilitated before selling in recent years, and Woodward said the city will continue those efforts.
“They’ve all been successful—every one of them,” Woodward said. “There will be (more), we just need to identify them.”

Fulton’s lake dredging faces slight delay

By Matthew Reitz

This year’s dredging efforts by Fulton’s Lake Neatahwanta cleanup committee are slightly behind schedule following a delay on the contractor’s end.
Fulton Mayor Ron Woodward Sr. said efforts were set to begin earlier this month, but a delay has set the operation back several weeks. Woodward said the individual who runs the dredge had a medical issue, but will arrive in the city to begin setting up next week. Groh Dredging and Marine Construction, the same contractor the committee used last year, will take several days to get situated, but sediment removal should begin within a week of their arrival, according to Woodard.
“He will be here next week, and hopefully be able to start shortly after,” Woodward said.
Chairman of Granby’s Lake Neatahwanta Reclamation Committee Ed Williamson said that committee’s dredging operation is underway and slowly, but steadily, moving forward.
“We’re training more volunteers so we can keep a full-time operation,” Williamson said. He said a volunteer has also agreed to take aerial photographs of the lake, which will allow the committee to track its progress and identify any areas that may need further attention. Williamson said the operation isn’t “something that happens overnight,” and stressed the importance of continued efforts on both sides of the lake.
Fulton’s committee — the Lake Neatahwanta Revitalization Corporation — began work last September after awarding the project to Groh. In just two months, the contractor had removed over 20,000 cubic yards of sediment. Both Woodward and Williamson hope that success can be repeated.
“They did a nice job last year,” Williamson said of the operation in Fulton. “The main purpose is to get the lake cleaned so we can use it again.”
Rather than hire a contractor, Granby’s committee opted to purchase the equipment and conduct the work with volunteers. Williamson said the on-shore infrastructure is now totally functional and one of the collection pits is operational, with a second to be completed this month.
Last month, Kansas City-based Geo Form International, the manufacturer of the equipment, trained several volunteers in Granby. Those individuals are now training additional volunteers so the committee can eventually keep the operation running full-time.
“We’re just continuing to move forward,” Williamson said.
He said the operation doesn’t move fast and isn’t pretty, but weather permitting will continue through the fall and pick up next spring as soon as fish spawning season ends.
Local officials believe the 750-acre lake can once again be a valuable recreational resource for the greater Fulton area. The water was deemed unsafe by state and county health officials nearly three decades ago, but officials believe removing built-up sediment will open the flow of freshwater springs that feed the lake and restore the water to safe levels for recreation.

Ruth E. Whorrall

Ruth  E. (Young) Whorrall, 71, of Phoenix, N.Y., passed away at St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center, Syracuse, on Sunday Aug. 30, 2015. Born in the town of Onondaga, NY to her late parents, Mildred E. (Drumma) and Roy J. Young, Jr. on May 19, 1944, she was a graduate of J. C. Birdlebough High School, Phoenix Central Schools, class of 1962.
Ruth was a custodian at the J. C. Birdlebough High School for nearly 20 years. She also was a parishioner at St. Stephen’s Church, Phoenix.
She was predeceased by her siblings, Janet, John, Roy, James, Joan, Beverly, Rosemary, Patricia, Shirley, and Marilyn. Surviving are her husband, Lyle W. Whorrall, Jr.; four daughters, Linda M. Eddy of Phoenix, Cindy M. (Jack) Murray of Pennellville, Donna M. (Rick) Gilkey of East Syracuse, and Tina M. Whorrall of New York City; two brothers, Robert “Bud” (Judy) Young and Richard (Beverly) Young, all of Fulton; two sisters, Jean Cook of Keystone Heights, Fla., and Barbara (Marvin) Johnson of Palmetto, Fla.; five grandchildren, Erika, David, Jordan, Ricky and Brooke; two great-grandchildren, Dominic and Vincent; several nieces, nephews and cousins.
Per Ruth’s request, her life was celebrated in a church mass on Friday, Sept. 4 at St. Stephen’s Church, 469 Main St., Phoenix, NY, with the Rev. Philip Brockmyre officiating.
Contributions in Ruth’s memory to: SPCA, 5878 East Molloy Rd., Syracuse, NY, or Oswego County Humane Society, 110 West Second St., Oswego, NY 13126. Allanson-Glanville-Tappan Funeral Home, Phoenix, has care of arrangements.

Your hometown. Your news.