Father deserves better

by Sandra Blanchard, Hannibal

I have lived in Hannibal all my life and proud of it. We have a great fire department with some great equipment that the men have secured through grants and fund-raisers.

I, for one, thank them for what they have done for the town. For those reasons, I was surprised, along with my mother Dorothy Pratt, to have gone to the Fairdale cemetery to place flowers on the graves of my father and younger brother and found that there were no Hannibal Fire Department flags of honor placed on the graves in the Fairdale cemetery.

My father was a member of the Hannibal Fire Department for 56 years. He worked on the design and construction of the fire station that still stands today.

He worked to bring the ambulance service to Hannibal. My father, Ted Pratt, and his wife, Dorothy Pratt, went and picked up the first ambulance that Hannibal ever had.

I will tell you this for anyone who cares. No matter what the time or type of call received, my dad was up and gone before you could take a breath. He never missed a call. I cannot tell you how proud of him we were.

He saved many lives in those years and I cannot believe that the Hannibal Fire Department left those great service men out of the recognition that they deserved.

To be fair to all of the firemen, I expect that one man was put in charge of this duty and did not do it. We not only pay a fire tax but we also pay all the firemen retirement — something that many of the firemen did not receive in the past.

They did it because they cared; they wanted nothing in return. It brought tears to my eyes as my dad deserved better from his service and friends.

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Fulton wrestler triumphs over cancer, earns leadership award

G. Ray Bodley High School senior Tim Conners is pictured with his father, Mike, after he received the Ken Julian Award, which the team’s leadership award. Conners lost his sight after he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
G. Ray Bodley High School senior Tim Conners is pictured with his father, Mike, after he received the Ken Julian Award, which the team’s leadership award. Conners lost his sight after he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

by Dan Farfaglia

“Cancer may have taken a lot of things away from me, including my sight, but it will never take my vision.”

That is a phrase that Fulton’s Tim Conners lives by on a daily basis. That also happens to be his yearbook quote.

A little over three years ago, the G. Ray Bodley High School senior was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.  Treatments began immediately and by the fall of 2010, he was given a lifesaving bone marrow transplant from his older brother, Mike P. Conners.

His parents are Betsy Conners, an administrator with the Fulton School City District, and Mike N. Conners; a former gym teacher and long time wrestling and football coach for Fulton, who is now an administrator with the Oswego School District.

After the long hard battle with cancer, Conners had to make some major life adjustments due to the fact that he became blind during the process. He had also missed a large part of life in high school as a result of his treatments and recovery.

“I currently have a TVI (a teacher of the visually impaired), a mobility specialist, a case manager, a one-on-one aide who goes to classes with me, and a counselor through my school now,” he said.

As far as plans after graduation, Conenrs noted, “Over the summer, I plan on attending a program at Le Moyne College sponsored by NYS Commission for the Blind for approximately four weeks. While I am there, I am going to learn what it is like to live on a college campus and learn what I will need to know before I start college on my own. In the fall, I plan on delaying admission to Ithaca College for one semester so I can attend the Carroll Center for the Blind in Newton, Mass. for approximately 22 weeks. This program will provide me with all the skills I need to become independent and to be successful in life.”

He continued, “After my time at the Carroll Center is done, I will begin my college career at Ithaca College. I am not 100 percent sure if I know what I want to do yet, but that is part of the reason I chose Ithaca because they have an Exploratory Program that will help me figure that out. Unfortunately, I will lose most of those services (that he currently has in high school), but I think it is important in my journey towards independence. I will still receive supports such as mobility training from New York State and support from the disability office in Ithaca. The disability office offerings is another great reason that I decided to go there.”

In his life after cancer, Conners has now become the guest of honor at many local service oriented functions and fund-raisers such as the United Way, Make a Wish, Lions Club, and Rotary.

As with many teenagers, public speaking was not his cup of tea during his life before cancer.  After going through what he has gone through these past few years, this is no longer a nerve wrecking experience.

During his speeches, he openly discusses his battles and how in the new phase of his life, will do what needs to be done and takes a “no excuses” approach to whatever his goals are in life now.

He is currently ranked eighth in his class, is a member of the National Honor Society, received numerous academic awards and has an overall grade point average of 98. He also played football last fall and just finished track and field.

He also has the distinction of being both prom king and homecoming king.

He also had a strong desire to return to the wrestling mat for his senior year. “Wrestling had always been a part of my life,” he said. “I wasn’t going to let cancer and blindness interfere with that.”

This sport has been a major feature of his family’s life since his father and uncle were standouts for Baldwinsville High School during the 1970s and 1980s.  The older Mike Conners ended his Fulton Wrestling coaching career in 2012 and his brother Pat has just finished his time as the head wrestling coach at South Jefferson High School.  The younger Mike Conners graduated a few years ago.

For competitors in wrestling with limited or no vision, there is an alternative style that is used where the two wrestlers for the most part, have to remain in close physical contact.

For example, whenever they are in the neutral position, they stand facing each other and have to have one palm up and one palm down with the opponents’ hands connecting before the whistle blows.

When asked if this took some getting used to, Conners replied, “Yes, because not only did I have to deal with wrestling without vision, but my body was still very weak, so I was unable to do some of the stuff I had done before.”

His most memorable wrestling moments this past season?

His first match at the Blindmen’s Tournament at Cicero-North Syracuse High School and when he received the team leadership award at the Fulton Wrestling Banquet.

“It felt great to win the Ken Julian Award, to be recognized for all the hard work I put in,” he said. “Not only do my brother and I share some the same bone marrow now, but we were both recipients of this prestigious honor.”

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

Granby soliciting

by Ed Williamson, Granby Town supervisor

Someone has been canvassing residents in the Town of Granby, indicating they got a list from the Granby Codes Department of people that were going to get fined.

This information and accusation is false. The town does not give out information of this kind.

They are soliciting their “business” to clean-up your yard. When they stop at your door, send them on their way.

If you have any information to give or any questions, please call me at 598-6500, ext. 223.

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Fulton Bowling Hall of Fame to induct three members next week

by Rob Tetro

The Fulton Bowling Hall Of Fame will induct three new members next week. This year’s inductees are Mike Jodway, Michelle Simpson and Earl “Bummer” Sixberry.

They will be honored at an induction ceremony to be held at Lakeview Lanes June 9.

Mike Jodway

Jodway has been involved in the sport of bowling for 41 years. Bowling found its way into Jodway’s life when he was 12 years old. When he was 14 years old, his uncle helped to manage The Bowl-Inn in Phoenix. In his first job, Jodway was allowed to bowl for free after he finished his dish washing duties. He bowled whenever he could while his uncle helped to develop his skills.

Jodway joined his first league when he was 16 and has been bowling ever since.

In the 1970s, bowling in a men’s league at 16 was practically unheard of. However, not only did Jodway take part in the league, he faired pretty well. One of his earliest accomplishments was being able to compete with some of the more experienced bowlers in the league.

Along the way, Jodway has held a few league positions as well. He was the president of the Summer Mixed League at Bowlarama. For the last 10 years, he’s been the president of the Saturday Night Mixed League at the Recreation Club in Fulton.

Some of Jodway’s most recent accomplishments include earning his first 300 game in 2011. He has also bowled three 299 games, two 290 games and numerous 279 games.

Jodway’s highest series is 787 but he has also bowled many 700 series as well.

Most of his most notable scores were bowled at the Recreation Club against many renowned bowlers. Two years ago, he had a 219 average, which is the highest average ever at the Recreation Club.

Outside of bowling, Jodway has been married to his wife for 34 years. They have a daughter and two sons who also enjoy bowling. He’s been an employee of Black Clawson/Davis Standard for 37 years.

Michelle Simpson

Simpson first began bowling in the late 1960s. She got the itch to bowl by watching both of her parents take part in the sport.

Some of her earliest achievements in bowling include winning eight to 10 No Tap Tournaments with her father. Just after finishing high school, Simpson bowled her first 600 series while taking part in a Monday Night Classic League with her mother at Bowlerama.

She’s held a few local positions as well. Simpson was the president of the 600 Club and secretary and treasurer of the Lucky 7 League.

Some of her more recent accomplishments include a high score of 279 while also bowling numerous 700 series.

Simpson considers bowling to be a very enjoyable sport. She said she is grateful to have had the experiences that she’s had, especially the moments bowling with her mother, father and brother. She also cited the friends she’s made through bowling. A lot of the friends she’s made through bowling over the years still bowl with her to this day.

Earl Sixberry

Sixberry first began bowling in 1966. Bowling became a part of Sixberry’s life after watching his parents bowl as a child. He began bowling in a Junior High League at the Bowl-Inn in Phoenix.

Some of Sixberry’s earliest achievements include bowling his first 300 game at The Bowl-Inn at age 16. He also won a Non-Sanctioned Sunday Tournament while throwing many 250 to 279 games as a teenager.

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

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State legislation aimed at improving synthetic drugs laws

Pictured is the Woolson family of Baldwinsville standing at a press conference held Tuesday in Oswego. They lost a loved one due to injuries related to synthetic drug use and support legislation that would close legal loopholes regarding synthetics.
Pictured is the Woolson family of Baldwinsville standing at a press conference held Tuesday in Oswego. They lost a loved one due to injuries related to synthetic drug use and support legislation that would close legal loopholes regarding synthetics.

by Nicole Reitz

A press conference was held Tuesday outside of the Oswego County Public Safety Building to discuss proposed legislation aimed at improving laws related to synthetic drugs.

Assemblyman Will Barclay spoke of a new comprehensive legislation that would increase penalties, penalize chemical swapping, mislabeling and other proposed charges.

Barlcay and Senator Patty Ritchie’s bill would also penalize both dealers and users of synthetics.

The legislation defines a synthetic drug as any substance that affects a person’s cannabinoid receptor.

The cannabinoid receptors language in the legislation pinpoints the affect the drug has on a person, rather than naming actual substances.

Oswego County Sheriff Reuel Todd said that while the use of synthetics has definitely decreased in Oswego County, these drugs are typically sold as other products, such as bath salts, shoe powder and incense.

“You still have a certain amount of people that want to make a buck and not have to work for it, and they prey on the vulnerable,” said Todd. “Having this law in place would allow us to act faster when a new drug comes on the scene and better protect the public.”

Police approaching a scene put themselves in danger because of the users’ erratic behaviors. Users can hallucinate, become extremely agitated, paranoid and violent — sometimes for days.

Todd said that those under the influence of synthetics also have a “terrific ability to mask pain,” and can withstand taser guns and pepper spray.

The reaction of the people taking these poisons also make the jobs of health-care professionals more difficult. Unlike more common street drugs, nurses and doctors do not know the chemical makeup of these drugs, making it hard to treat users symptoms.

Often the abusers of these agents do not realize or anticipate the intensity of symptoms that are produced from these drugs.

One of these people is the late Victor Woolson of Baldwinsville, who died last August of injuries sustained from a synthetic drug called Avalanche.

Woolson purchased it in Oswego on a store shelve, which he falsely believed to be a legal and safe alternative to real drugs.

The Woolson family was at the press conference, holding signs in remembrance of Victor.

The family advocates for strengthening laws regarding synthetics to prevent further addiction and deaths. Victor died after federal legislation and the New York Department of Health ban was put in place.

Teresa Woolson, Victor’s mother, knows that improving the law will help the problem of synthetic drug use in the county.

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

When I was a kid

RoyHodge_WEBby Roy Hodge

I found myself in a somewhat familiar situation this week. When lacking a column topic I began to do some reminiscing.

When I was a kid:

The next door neighbor kid used to entertain himself by dropping bricks or heavy rocks on the tops of my favorite metal trucks on the other side of the fence between our properties.

I lost many of my “treasures” by dropping them down the space (a few inches) between the stairs to our attic and the wall. I bet they are still there.

I often kept grasshoppers in a mayonnaise jar with grass in the bottom and holes punched in the top.

We spent most of our weekly allowance of 35 cents on popsicles at Steve’s corner grocery store.

My brother, sister and I rushed down the stairs on winter mornings to be able to sit over the warm air register in the living room floor.

We used to wait by the front of our driveway when it was time for our father to come home from work so we could ride to the other end on the running boards on the family’s 1936 Chevrolet.

When we got our first television set I thought it was very entertaining to see Uncle Miltie dress as a woman.

I also liked Howdy Doody, Buffalo Bob and Clarabelle the Clown, as well as Kukla, Fran and Ollie.

I don’t know if I would have eaten as many Cheerios as I did if I hadn’t needed the box tops to send for neat Lone Ranger stuff.

My brother and I spent the trips home from our aunt and uncle’s home in Oneida by making a makeshift tent in the car’s back seat. We did that by attaching one end of a blanket to the rope hangers on the back of the front seats, and tucking the other end into the back of the back seat.

Then, in our improvised, and more than slightly uncomfortable tent, we jockeyed for space, jabbed, poked, and finally settled down for the long ride home, when our father carried us into the house and our beds.

Mr. Birnbaum was my favorite teacher when I was in high school. One of the reasons for that was that he saved me and my friends from many hours of detention by picking us up on the way to school and getting us there on time.

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.

Free shuttle bus service for Hope Fest 2013

Hope Fest 2013 is fast approaching with three evenings of Christian outreach at the Fulton War Memorial June 7-9.

To help those without transportation and also for those who do not want to have to park far away, the Hope Fest Committee is partnering with Oswego County Opportunities to provide free shuttle bus service each night.

The bus is wheelchair accessible. The bus will be identified by bright yellow signs that say, “Hope Fest Shuttle.”

Transportation to the War Memorial: There will be two runs to pick up passengers and bring them to the War Memorial. The first run starts at 5:30 p.m. and the second run starts around 6:10 p.m. The schedule and times for the pickup stops during each run is as follows:

First Stop: Main Office Gilbert’s Grove, Pathfinder Courts – Emery St., 5:35 p.m. and 6:15 p.m.

Second Stop: Senior Buildings G-K, Pathfinder Courts – E. Broadway, 5:39 p.m. and 6:19 p.m.

Third Stop: Fulton Education Center/Park Area – South 4th St. between Buffalo and Rochester streets., 5:43 p.m. and 6:23 p.m.

Fourth Stop: Towpath Towers – 100 Rochester St., 5:48 p.m. and 6:28 p.m.

Fifth Stop: Fulton Mill Apartments – Riverside Ave. off West 1st St., 5:54 p.m. and 6:34 p.m.

Sixth Stop: Chateau West Apartments – W. 11th St., 6:01 p.m. and 6:41 p.m.

Arrive at War Memorial: Dropping off outside main entrance; 6:05 p.m. and 6:45 p.m.

There will be return-trip bus runs at the end of each evening. Each night’s activities are expected to end around 10 p.m. The schedule for dropping off passengers on the return trips is as follows:

First Stop: Main Office Gilbert’s Grove, Pathfinder Courts – Emery St.

Second Stop: Senior Buildings G-K, Pathfinder Courts – E. Broadway.

Third Stop: Fulton Education Center/Park Area – South 4th St. between Buffalo and Rochester streets.

Fourth Stop: Towpath Towers – 100 Rochester St.

Fifth Stop: Fulton Mill Apartments – Riverside Ave. off West 1st St.

Sixth Stop: Chateau West Apartments – W. 11th St.

After first return-trip run, bus returns to War Memorial for second and final run.

For those who need transportation in the Fulton area but cannot get to the bus stops, there will be mini vans available (not wheelchair accessible) that are driven by volunteers. Please call 315-226-3378 by 5 p.m. Wednesday, June 5 to arrange for pickup.

Hope Fest 2013 is a free Christian community outreach event on Friday, June 7, Saturday, June 8, and Sunday, June 9. Doors open at 5 pm with the event beginning nightly at 7 p.m. Live music, guest speakers, preaching, prayer, and testimonies.

Those seeking more information may visit www.hopefest2013.com or call 226-3378.

Marcellus tops Phoenix softball team in sectional playoffs

by Rob Tetro

The Phoenix varsity softball team went into the Section II Class B playoffs as the tenth seed following its 10-9 regular season.

In the opening round, Phoenix took on a familiar foe, Marcellus, May 25.

The Lady Firebirds split the season series with Marcellus in games that were both decided by one run each.

Unfortunately for Phoenix, Marcellus scored a couple of runs down the stretch to come away with the win.

The Lady Firebirds season concludes with a final record of 10-10.

After both teams were held scoreless during the first inning, the Lady Firebirds took a 1-0 lead during the top of the second inning. However, Marcellus stormed ahead during the bottom of the second inning. The Lady Mustangs scored two runs to take a 2-1 lead.

Phoenix battled back during the third inning. The Lady Firebirds scored two runs to take a 3-2 lead. Marcellus responded during the fourth inning, scoring two runs to regain the lead at 4-3.

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

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