Myers seeking another term on council

By Matthew Reitz

Common Councilor Jim Myers is seeking a second consecutive, and fifth overall, term representing the city’s fourth ward.
Running unopposed, Myers said he will look to continue pushing for the development of the former Nestle property and  work to bring new business into Fulton.
“I’ll be working to get the rest of the Nestle buildings torn down and Aldi’s in there—that’s a big thing,” Myers said when asked what he would try to accomplish in the next two years.
The city has been forced to cut personnel over the years due to decreases in revenue, according to Myers. He said “trying to run the city on what little money we have and still giving people the services they want” is an ongoing challenge.
Myers said there are “positive things” happening in the city, such as the recent development of parts of the former Nestle property, and the continued efforts by Friends of Fulton Parks to improve the city’s parks.
“It’s not as gloomy as some people think,” Myers said.
He said he’d also like to keep taxes stable without having to cut any more positions within the city and “continue with what we’re doing” to attract business and improve the lives of Fulton residents.

Mauté named region’s Library Director of the Year

Fulton Public Library Director Betty Mauté was recently named Director of the Year by the North Country Public Library System. Pictured congratulated Mauté (center) are library Board of Trustees President Carolyn Mosier and Fulton Mayor Ron Woodward Sr.  Colin Hogan photo
Fulton Public Library Director Betty Mauté was recently named Director of the Year by the North Country Public Library System. Pictured congratulated Mauté (center) are library Board of Trustees President Carolyn Mosier and Fulton Mayor Ron Woodward Sr.
Colin Hogan photo
By Colin Hogan

Out of a competition pool fed by 65 other libraries, Fulton’s Betty Mauté was recently named Director of the Year by the North Country Public Library System.
NCLS leaders honored Mauté with the award at the group’s annual meeting last month, citing several of her initiatives both in Fulton and throughout Oswego County as their reasons for selecting her.
Topping the list was Mauté’s leadership through the library’s recent transition from a municipal funding model to a school district one. NCLS Consultant Angela Newman, who presented the award, praised Mauté for the “courage and conviction” she showed in “taking that leap of faith” from one area of financial support to another.
“This director worked tirelessly with her trustees to set her library on a course for stable funding, and still had the time to forge community partnerships, pilot new programs and carry on with the daily grind of running a successful library,” Newman said.
During that transition, Mauté not only maintained the library’s existing programs, but piloted new ones, as well, Newman noted.
Newman also cited initiatives like the Fulton Memoir Project and Mauté’s lobbying efforts to bring more funding to Oswego County’s libraries as justification for the award.
“She works tirelessly to engage with the community, from delivering books to the local senior housing, to collaborating with local schools and agencies, to simply chatting up library patrons,” Newman said. “She has served during drastic economic challenges and is committed to providing the good service that is the heart of a successful public library.”
Carolyn Mosier, president of the library’s board of trustees, said it wasn’t hard coming up with reasons to nominate Mauté for the honor. In fact, most of the things Newman said about Mauté during the presentation came straight out of Mosier’s nomination letter.
“She’s so involved, both in and outside of the library. She’s in the Rotary. She always has her finger on the pulse of this community, and is finding out what the needs out there are and how they can be met,” Mosier said. “She’s the face of the library — what people see when they’re thinking about the library. It really has been an honor to work with her.”
In hearing the praise, Mauté was quick to say that she was “just doing her job,” but was pleased to have to recognition. She said she couldn’t have done it without the support of the community, board of trustees and, most of all, the library’s staff.
“I couldn’t have done it without the support of the staff,” Mauté said. “If I didn’t have them to cover for me,  I couldn’t get anything done.”
The NCLS is made up of libraries in Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence and Oswego counties.

Second ward candidates lay out different visions for city

By Matthew Reitz

In November, voters in Fulton’s second ward will be choosing between two newcomers who each lay out very different visions of how they’d represent the ward as a Common Councilor.
Conservative candidate Dave Ritchie, a retired city employee, is seeking elected office for the first time, and says he’ll look to bring common sense and accountability to the Common Council. Ritchie spent 37 years working for the city—20 in the recreation department and the rest in the Department of Public Works—and said the experience gives him “an idea of how things should work.”
Ritchie, who was born in Fulton and has spent his entire life in the city, has spent time serving on the library board and as president of the youth hockey program. He said he knows the needs of the different departments and will make himself readily available to residents.
“I’m just a phone call away and am easily available,” he said. “I’ll be responsive. I’ll get you an answer one way or another. It might not be the one you want, but you’ll get one.”
Ritchie outlined examples of wasteful spending he witnessed during his time with the city, and said keeping tighter purse strings and holding people accountable would be priorities.
“I don’t want excuses,” Ritchie said. “I want results. I don’t want (to know) why we can’t, but why we can.”
Democratic candidate Ernesto Garcia is seeking public office for the third time. Like Ritchie, Garcia said he would also be readily available to constituents, but the similarities end there.
Garcia, a 2005 graduate of G. Ray Bodley High School, has spent about 25 years in Fulton and considers it his home. In January, he purchased a house in the second ward, and he has a 6-year-old daughter who attends Lanigan Elementary.
Garcia said he comes into politics with an open mind, and is always willing to listen to every side of an issue. Garcia said “being in the middle and being able to talk to people on both sides of the aisle,” is something he’d bring to the council.
“I’m sensible, and I’m very open-minded,” Garcia said. “I like to hear all sides of the argument.”
One of Garcia’s biggest concerns is that, in spite how much Fulton residents pay in taxes, he’s seen too many city programs that he enjoyed as a kid cut over the years.
“There are still programs, but there’s not a lot that the city is doing to help kids spend their time wisely,” Garcia said. “We aren’t doing enough for the kids.”
Garcia said the city needs leaders who are involved in the community. Discussing the issues with residents and increasing their involvement with city government is another major goal of his.
“We have to open the conversation to the people,” Garcia said. “Look at the Common Council meetings—nobody shows up.”
Garcia would also like to see a reassessment of home values in the city. He gave an example of a commercial property outside of his ward with a storefront and apartments that’s assessed at the same value as his home.
“It just doesn’t make any sense,” Garcia said. “I don’t want to tax people, but everything should be fair. How is it that a residential dwelling is the same as a money-making place?”
Garcia is also calling for an examination of city retirees’ benefits. He said the mayor is doing a good job not filling positions when employees retire, but he’d like to see current city employees pay more into their retirement system, which he says hurts the city’s finances in the long-run.

Running unopposed, Kenyon aims to improve Fulton’s code enforcement

By Matthew Reitz

First Ward Councilor Tom Kenyon is seeking a fifth-term on the Common Council in an uncontested race, and says he’ll work with the code enforcement department to clean up nuisance properties throughout the city.
Kenyon said he has a good relationship with residents in his ward and always responds when people contact him, whether he can help them or not.
“I think I have one of the best wards, and it’s the people in the ward,” Kenyon said.
He said residents in his ward are “conscious of keeping their properties up” and he isn’t afraid to stand up for them and bring their concerns to the council.
Kenyon feels the code enforcement department is too “complaint-driven,” and would like to see changes in the way it operates. He feels the department’s inconsistencies and a lack of initiative have been holding the city back, and said stricter code enforcement would help clean up the city and boost property values.
The city also needs to figure out more ways to access grant money from Albany and Washington, Kenyon said. He’d like to see the city be debt-free someday, and wants to see an effort to find money for things like sidewalk improvements and new equipment for the Department of Public Works.
“We need to look into grants more,” Kenyon said. “I don’t want to raise taxes. We made a bunch of cuts last year. I don’t know what we’re going to do this year. There’s nowhere to cut anymore.”
Increases in Social Security benefits are not keeping up with rapidly increasing taxes and healthcare costs, causing too many seniors in the city to lose their homes, Kenyon said.
“That scares me,” Kenyon said. “There must be somewhere we can help them.”
Another issue Kenyon would like to address is the list of licensed electricians that are approved to do work within Fulton. He said he’s “getting very upset” and feels like certain contractors “have a little monopoly here in town.”
“I think the people are being ripped off,” Kenyon said, adding that anyone with a state license should be able to work in the city.
The council will have some new members next year, and Kenyon said he welcomes any “fresh ideas” they might have.

Fulton man registered in 2016 Presidential race

Webbershot2Dave Webber wears a lot of hats — retired bank manager, husband, father, vice president of the Fulton Little League, highly-active American Red Cross volunteer — but he recently took on a new title that he expects will turn a few heads: candidate for President of the United States.
It’s true. On Oct. 5, the 64-year-old Fulton man officially filed with the Federal Elections Commission to be on the 2016 ballot as a Democrat running for president.
While many might dismiss such a campaign as unrealistic — and he, himself, is quick to point out how much of a long shot winning would be — Webber says he’s committed to being in the race and fighting tirelessly to raise the issues he feels should be more a part of the conversation.
“When you’ve got a regular Main-Street-America guy like me, nobody really believes it can work,” Webber said. “But it really can.”
Issues that he feels need more attention from the federal government include election reform, care for our veterans and tax relief for small businesses. And while his biggest challenge will no doubt be financing a national race, he said he’s not interested in special-interest money, but rather grassroots contributions from individuals and small businesses who support his vision on such issues.
“I’m looking for people who believe that Washington needs to be changed and that someone like me, who is not a politician, can do it,” Webber said. “I’m not rich, just live comfortably in retirement… I worked my way through college (at Syracuse University) to help pay for most of it. I’m truly a person who is of the people, by the people and for the people, who has the intelligence and management experience to do this.”
So what will it take to be a serious contender next November? For starters, he’d have to meet each state’s requirements to appear on the ballot, which vary widely. Most require a certain number of petition signatures from state residents, plus the costs associated with filing, to be listed on the ballot.
“Each state has a different amount (of signatures required),” Webber said. “For Alabama I’ll need 500 signatures and $2,500 for the filing fee… For Iowa, you need 1,500 signatures. If you have a team built up and can get some exposure, you can accomplish those things, but it’s hard when you don’t have the money to support that.”
Thus becomes Webber’s most immediate challenge: raising money quickly. Next month, he’ll hit the filing deadlines in four different states. And if he’s going to maintain his own personal campaign financing ethics while running, he’ll need to find money through either a serious backer whose views are aligned with his own, or through a rapid influx of individual and small business contributions.
Along with his campaign Web site, Webber has launched fundraising efforts through, and is active on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
“I’m convinced that if people start hearing what I have to say, I will get the money and support I need. It’s just tough getting a foot in the proverbial door,” Webber said. “I want to keep moving forward, though, and I’m willing to go as far as the American people will take me.”

Several positions up for grabs in Granby next month

By Matthew Reitz

A perceived indifference and lack of response to residents’ concerns is at the heart of several new candidates’ decisions to seek office in the town of Granby this year.
“I don’t like hearing ‘there’s nothing we can do,’” Stephen Abraham, a Democrat seeking to unseat Conservative/Republican incumbent Ed Williamson as town supervisor, said regarding the town’s handling of residents’ complaints.
Williamson, who has been in office since 2008, said he’d like to know where people think the lack of response is with him or the board.
“I’m in that office Monday through Friday, and I’m there on Saturday and Sunday if the job warrants it,” Williamson said. “Any time someone has a problem, if they call me, I do my level best to try to solve the problem for them.”
Abraham, who has been in business for over 30 years at Fulton TV and Appliance, feels he’s a good fit for the job, and spending more time at town meetings has given him a better sense of the issues facing the community.
“I feel I can make a positive impact,” Abraham said. “The supervisor’s job is to manage the town, oversee finances, and deal with the public.”
Through his years in business, Abraham feels the experience he’s gained lends itself well to the job of town supervisor. He said he’d like to see some of the water service projects expedited, and thinks the town could better address residents’ concerns over a particular gravel mining operation on county Route 85.
“That’s a lousy situation,” Abraham said of the county Route 85 mine. “It’s been very non-confrontational, and I think a lot more could and should be done.”
For his part, Williamson says he’s been able to keep the tax rate in the town steady and control the finances, while still improving the community.
“The tax rate in the town of Granby has been kept the same ever since I’ve been in office at $2.46 per every $1,000 of assessment,” Williamson said. “I can’t do anything about school taxes or fire department taxes.”
Williamson said he’s also been successful in procuring grants for construction projects, working with state and federal officials to bring money into the town, and has been able to pay off many of the town’s loans for heavy equipment earlier than required. A lifelong resident of Granby, Williamson also cited the beginning of the town’s Family Fun Day in 2008, and the continued efforts to clean up Lake Neatahwanta as some of his major accomplishments apart from controlling the town’s finances.
“We’ve done a great job in keeping the taxes low,” Williamson said when asked why people should vote for him again. “I’m constantly working for the people.”
Lynn Lyons, a Democrat seeking one of the two open seats on the town board, also feels the current leadership doesn’t always understand the issues facing the community.
“Going to town board meetings, as I have for years, I’m really appalled at some of the lack of knowledge that we have on the town board,” Lyons said. “When questions are asked they don’t even know that it was an issue. I just think that we need more people that care.”
People like to know that their concerns are being treated as such, Lyons said. She said her regular attendance at meetings has kept her well-versed in the issues facing the town and its residents.
“I want to be one of those people that try to get the answer for people,” Lyons said. “It might not be the one they like, but they need an answer.”
A lifelong resident of the area, Lyons has lived in Granby for over 30 years and raised four children in the town. She said she cares deeply about her community, and would like to help create opportunities so many of the area’s young people don’t need to leave in search of jobs.
“So many kids have left because of no jobs,” Lyons said. “I would like to see our community brought back to where it was—where people feel free to walk the streets and enjoy one another. I just want to see that all happen again, and I think I can help out with that.”
In the past, Lyons has served on the town’s Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals. She said she’d like to “check into the water districts,” because she thinks water will eventually be an issue for the community.
“I care. I can’t state that enough,” Lyons said when asked why voters should choose her. “And I’m sick of getting answers that aren’t really answers. I’d be more attentive to the needs of the people. I think there’s a lack of that right now.”
Tracy Doyle is also seeking one of the two open seats on the town board, and will be running on the Conservative and Republican lines. He said he’s lived in Granby for “quite a long time,” and he’d like to see some properties in the town cleaned up, but there aren’t too many other things he would change.
“Granby is in good shape,” Doyle said. “Granby has the second-lowest taxes in the county.”
He said he does a lot of community service in the area, including a bicycle giveaway drive for needy children, the annual Great Eastern Whiteout, and is involved in efforts to clean up Lake Neatahwanta.
“I’m very attached to that project,” Doyle said of the lake cleanup.
Doyle stressed that there’s no place for kids to go swimming in the area, and that he’d like to see Granby have it’s own public access spot on the lake.
“It’s a great natural resource that we have, and it’s just gone overlooked,” Doyle said.
One thing Doyle said he would like to see is a park for the children of Granby. He said the town is in good shape financially, and now is the time to make an investment in the future.
“Kids are everything,” Doyle said. “We need to invest in our future.”
If elected, Doyle said he will make a point of listening to the people. He said he’s easy to get ahold of and has a flexible schedule as a business owner.
Doyle said he’s looking forward to a friendly competition, and he won’t get involved in ‘dirty politics.’ He urged people to come out and vote, whether it’s for him or the other candidates. All the people running are good people, he said.
“People need to get out and vote,” Doyle said. “Let’s see a big voter turnout.”
Melissa Fortier, also running on the Conservative and Republican lines, has spent over 25 years in Granby and raised her family there. Fortier said she currently manages a bank in Fulton, and working with people for eight to nine hours each day has given her valuable experience that could help on the town board.
“I have to deal with differing opinions and the use of common sense,” Fortier said.
Fortier said that more of the town board’s decision making needs to be in the interest of the residents, not the politicians. She said there weren’t any specific issues she’s planning to bring up with the board, but would like to see board members become more responsive to the needs of the community.
A three-way race for highway superintendent will pit Jeffrey Richards, running on the Conservative and Independence lines, and Robert Collins, a Republican, against incumbent Robert Phillips, who is running as a Democrat.
Collins said he’s worked highway jobs for “quite a few years” through several different contractors and has had a store and construction business of his own. He said that experience will help him know the costs of maintenance and repair, and how to manage a staff. He said the highway department currently isn’t doing the job as best it can.
“They need to plow the roads better,” Collins said. “The (highway superintendent’s) job is basically to make sure the roads are safe for people to get out on. Basically, we’re not getting that.”
Richards, who has raised a family in Granby and lived in the town since 1982, said things have changed in the last four years since longtime highway superintendent Lynn Moyer retired. Richards said he’d like to return the department to the way it was prior to Moyer’s departure.
“I want to see the highway department set back to where it was under the supervision of Lynn Moyer,” Richards said.
A part-time dairy farmer who works a night job in Syracuse, Richards said he sees the road conditions every day of the year and is an avid weather-watcher. He said past superintendents have relied on workers to watch the weather and assess road conditions at night, but he will be able to get that information first-hand.
In the past, Richards has spent time on the town’s planning board, two years as chairman of the Oswego County Soil and Water Conservation District, and participated on an Agricultural Program Committee with Cornell Cooperative Extension.
“When people ask what kind of experience I have, I tell them I have no more or no less experience than the two guys I’m running against. I’m honest with everybody,” Richards said. “I feel this is a job for a true public servant.”
Robert Phillips, the incumbent, said he’s doing his best to keep the roads in good condition without spending too much money. Phillips, who’s spent his entire life in Granby, took the position following a special election last November.  Experience with paving, bridge construction and plowing are among Phillips’ qualifications, and he said he’s gotten valuable experience over the last year learning the billing process with the county, working with the budget and presenting issues to the town board.
He said he drives his own vehicle to help save the town money, something past superintendents did not do, and puts in full-time hours at a part-time position.
“I’ve tried to improve the roads for safety purposes and kept the budget down doing it,” Phillips said.
He also said he recently helped the town find a used snow plow to purchase from the Town of Schroeppel for around $70,000, saving over $140,000 off the $216,000 price for a new vehicle.

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