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Harborfest 27 Kicks Off In The Port City

OSWEGO, NY – The 27th annual festival was greeted by mild temperatures and mostly clear skies – with hundreds of people, young and old, ready to celebrate.

The music started at 7 p.m. Thursday with Brass Inc.

Members of Brass Inc. belt out a classic Miami Sound Machine hit Thursday night.

Members of Brass Inc. belt out a classic Miami Sound Machine hit Thursday night.

The party band from nearby Syracuse got the festival off to a great start with many in the audience singing and dancing along with them

There was a slight intermission at 8:30 p.m. for the opening ceremonies.

Oswego Mayor Tom Gillen welcomed the enthusiastic crowd to the 2014 edition of Harborfest.

The mayor said Harborfest is the largest “family reunion” in the Northeast. It showcases Oswego’s greatest attributes – its history, its warmth and its people, the mayor added.

Doug Buske, president of the Harborfest board of directors, introduced the color guard from the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum. As they presented the colors, Sgt. Linda Wolf sang the National Anthem.

A young fan, with the best seat in the house, claps along with the music at Thursday's concerts.

A young fan, with the best seat in the house, claps along with the music at Thursday’s concerts.

“Twenty-seven years and we’re still here; still going strong thanks to you folks,” Buske told the huge crowd in front of the stage. “We have a great four days planned. The weather man looks like he’s going to cooperate with us. We hope everybody has a great time. It’s hard to believe 27 years have passed since the first Harborfest.”

He thanked the sponsors and everyone else who has helped the festival over the years, “especially the hundreds of volunteers who unselfishly donate thousands of hours every year to make this a success.”

“Also, it would not be a success without you folks out there!” he added. “We certainly appreciate every one of you for coming and helping us celebrate our community and Harborfest.”

The Atlanta Rhythm Section kept the festival rocking well into the night.

The Atlanta Rhythm Section kept the festival rocking well into the night.

Mayor Gillen also recognized the Harborfest volunteers for their dedication and hard work.

“One of the things we in Oswego are really good at is having fun. We’re going to have some fun this weekend,” the mayor proclaimed. “Let’s make this the number one (Harborfest) to remember.”

Historically, every year, there are four magic words that start each and every Harborfest, “Let The Fun Begin!”

This year, the mayor lead the countdown from 10 to one and the crowd yelled out, “Let the fun begin!”

Sgt. Linda Wolf sings the National Anthem during the opening ceremony.

Sgt. Linda Wolf sings the National Anthem during the opening ceremony.

Following that short interruption, The Atlanta Rhythm Section took the NRG Lakeview Stage shortly after 9 p.m.

The crowd continued to grow in front of the main stage as the night wore on, many of them singing along to the group’s hits such as ‘Imaginary Lover’ and ‘So Into You.’

There’s More Fun Coming Up

This year’s Children’s Parade will step off at 1:30 p.m. Friday from Breitbeck Park, travel along Lake Street making its way to West Fifth Street where it will conclude at to the Novelis Family Park (West Park).

Prior to the start of the Children’s Parade, pre-parade activities will start in Breitbeck at noon, hosted by Joe Trionfero and his Show of Love.

Harborfest’s music continues today (July 25) with Simplified on the Lakeview Stage at 7 p.m. followed by Grand Funk Railroad at 10 p.m.

The color guard from the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum present the colors Thursday night.

The color guard from the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum present the colors Thursday night.

Double V’s gets things started at 11 a.m. at the C’s Beverage Center Veterans’ Stage on River Walk West.

The Oswego Valley Barbershop Chorus is slated to follow them at 3:30 p.m. and is followed by Blake at 5 p.m. and Mitty and the Followers at 7 p.m.

Over in East Park, at the Oswego County Federal Credit Union Jazz and Blues Park, The Camillians starts at 1:30 p.m. on the Labatt Blue Light Jazz and Blues Stage.

The Luber Cators will perform at 3:30 p.m. followed by the Carolyn Kelly Blues Band at 5:30 p.m., Mark Doyle and the Maniacs at 7:30 p.m. and The Rusty Wright Band at 9:30 p.m.

At the Novelis Family Park, there will be a senior concert (Dan Elliot’s Greatest American Songbook) at 11:45 a.m. and at 1:30 p.m. (My Gal Patsy). At 4 p.m., the Children’s Musical Peter Pan will debut.

There’s plenty of music on all the festival’s stages throughout the weekend.

The Harborfest midway lights up the night along Lake Street.

The Harborfest midway lights up the night along Lake Street.

The annual children’s musical will also be performed twice on Saturday with a final performance on Sunday morning.

Youngsters will want to check out all the other performances and activities at the Children’s Stage today and all during Harborfest.

Some highlights include the Bubbling Juggling Mime, The Marionette Magic Theater, Sylvia Fletcher “The Magic Trunk,” Wade Live and Tae Kwondo America among other attractions.

The Children’s Museum of Oswego will also be a center of activity for all ages to enjoy in the Family Park. Visitors will have the opportunity to experience interactive, hands-on exhibits that nurture the curiosity and imagination in young and old alike.

For more information, visit www.oswegoharborfest.com

Volunteers To Hand Pull Water Chestnuts

FULTON, NY – Volunteers will take to the water early next month to help protect the environment.

On Aug. 2, dozens of people will once again do a hand-pulling of the invasive water chestnut around the historical Battle Island area of the Oswego River and Canal.

Cat Hadlow with water chestnuts she's pulled at the Battle Island area of the Oswego River and Canal

Cat Hadlow with water chestnuts she’s pulled at the Battle Island area of the Oswego River and Canal

The invasive water chestnut has plagued the Oswego River and Canal, creating a negative impact on the ecological balance of the river, boating and fishing.

Currently, large mats of the chestnuts are effectively being topically treated.

In conjunction, smaller and hard to reach locations have had the chestnuts hand pulled with great success.

Each rosette (the floating top pad) can produce multiple nutlets, which in turn, each produce new water chestnuts.

Volunteers will launch at 10 a.m. from the Drosse residence at Hickory Grove, Fulton.

Plastic collection bags will be provided, courtesy of Oswego County Soil and Water Conservation District.

For information about participating, write: rdrosse@twncy.rr.com or call 343-4565.

An extra canoe is available, for use, if needed.

Refreshments to follow.

Volunteers display their water chestnut booty pulled from the historical Oswego Canal and guard lock by Battle Island during a previous event

Volunteers display their water chestnut booty pulled from the historical Oswego Canal and guard lock by Battle Island during a previous event

The water chestnut plant is an invasive species that, once established, can significantly reduce the quality of the native habitat, impede recreational use of waterways, and interfere with aquatic ecosystems.

Water chestnut is present in shallow areas of the lower Salmon River Estuary as well as in sections of the Oswego River, Oneida River and Oneida Lake.

It is difficult to slow the spread of water chestnut once it becomes established in a shallow water area. Volunteers have successfully led hand-pull efforts over the past several summers to remove the plant from the Salmon River Estuary, Oneida Lake and sections of the Oswego River.

The plants can create large floating mats of vegetation that restrict the penetration of sunlight, limit the growth of native plants, and disrupt the food web.

Each water chestnut plant can produce up to 300 nuts per year.

The floating leaves are triangular to rhombic in shape, one to two inches long, and have sharp pointed teeth on the margins.

They are arranged in a broad rosette that sits on the water surface. The submerged leaves are alternate and coarsely feather-like, growing up to six inches in length.

Tiny white flowers emerge from the center of the rosettes and produce large (about one inch) hard, horned fruits.

Dave (a retired Forest Ranger) and Uli Larribee help with hand pulling at Battle Island at a previous event.

Dave (a retired Forest Ranger) and Uli Larribee help with hand pulling at Battle Island at a previous event.

Fruits ripen in about a month and soon sink to the bottom. Most fruits germinate within the first two years, although a few may wait up to 12 years.

One seed can give rise to ten to fifteen rosettes, and each rosette may produce as many as twenty seeds. With high rates of germination, growth can be explosive.

Decomposition of the large volume of plants may also contribute to lower levels of dissolved oxygen in shallower waters.

Low levels of oxygen adversely affect the natural inhabitants of these waters, creating additional problems.

To learn more about the water chestnut, and other invasive aquatic and terrestrial plants go to the SLELO-PRISM webiste: http://www.sleloinvasives.org/regional-prisms/slelo-prism-partners/

Long-Time District Clerk Announces Retirement

OSWEGO, NY – After more than 20 years on the job, William Foley will step down next month from his position as clerk for the Oswego City School District.

Foley, who also acts as the district’s public information officer, said he applied for the position because the ad said they were looking for someone to help promote the school district – something the OHS grad felt he could do well.

William Foley takes notes during Tuesday night's Oswego School Board meeting. In background, from left are: board vice president Lynda Sereno, board president Kathleen Allen and Ben Halsey, superintendent.

William Foley takes notes during Tuesday night’s Oswego School Board meeting. In background, from left are: board vice president Lynda Sereno, board president Kathleen Allen and Ben Halsey, superintendent.

The school board unanimously approved his retirement at Tuesday night’s meeting.

At the end of August, he will be unemployed for the first time since he was a teen-ager, he said.

“I was an annual appointment, served at the pleasure of the board, when they hired me as a district clerk. They wanted a PR person at the same time. But they didn’t want to commit to a long-term deal. For 20 years I’ve been an annual appointment, which I consider a success story,” Foley said.

“I recall back in the late 1980s, early 1990s, Dave Christopher, our transportation supervisor, was the board clerk,” board member Sam Tripp pointed out. “He didn’t do all that other stuff.”

He added the board has to look at just what it wants from the position prior to hiring Foley’s successor.

“I want to thank Mr. Foley for his years of service to the Oswego City School District. Since I’ve become an officer, he’s been very helpful to our executive board for the past eight or 12 years. Whenever we had any district fundraisers, Bill would show up with a camera and get us in the media,” CSEA president Jim Jackson said during the public session. “I just want to thank him for that. On top of all that, it doesn’t matter who you call in this district, what office you call, he’ll answer the phone and take a message.”

Superintendent Ben Halsey also praised Foley for assisting him get accustomed to the district.

“I haven’t known him long, but I’ve certainly enjoyed working with him. He’s been an incredible resource for me,” he said. “I wish (him) and his wife well.”

Foley has six grandchildren; three of them don’t live in the area.

“I’d like to see them a little more. I’d like to see my daughter, who lives in New Jersey, some more. My wife and I would love to do some traveling – not a lot but some,” he said. “I just think it’s time. I wasn’t sure; I thought about it back in May and at that point I was ready to retire, but I wasn’t really ready to retire.”

He talked to a few people and decided he wasn’t retiring for the right reason.

“I didn’t feel good about it then. And now, I can honestly say I am ready. I am really looking forward to it. I’d like to move on and do something else,” he added. “There are things I’ve wanted to do that I haven’t done. So I just think it’s time.”

The past 20 years have been an experience that I could not have had anywhere else. I’ve experienced a ride that even the best amusement park in the world could not have provided. Every year was a roller-coaster ride with excitement and thrills. However, now it is time to let someone else on the ride, he wrote in his retirement letter.

He said he will miss the people he has worked with and come in contact with during his tenure with the district; especially the students.

“The kids have just been great,” he said.

David C. Webb Memorial Park Bathing Beach is Closed

CONSTANTIA – The Oswego County Health Department announced today (July 23) that the David C. Webb Memorial Park Bathing Beach on Oneida Lake in the town of Constantia has been closed to swimming due to the presence of a blue-green algae bloom.

The beach will remain closed until the blooms have cleared and the health department approves its re-opening.

the David C. Webb Memorial Park Bathing Beach

The David C. Webb Memorial Park Bathing Beach is closed until further notice.

Constantia’s Children’s Summer Recreation Program will continue to operate in the park.

However, swim activities have been suspended until further notice.

“People and animals should stay out of the water to avoid contact with any algae blooms, scums, and colored water,” said Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang. “Blue-green algae blooms can turn the water green and form thick scums on the water surface. It can cause skin or eye irritation if exposed; or diarrhea and vomiting if ingested.”

The Oswego County Health Department recommends taking the following precautions:

• Don’t swim, wade or fish near blooms or scums.

• Don’t drink the water.

• Keep children and animals away from any blooms or scums.

• Rinse with clean water if you are exposed.

For more information or to report any symptoms associated with exposure to blue-green algae blooms, call the Oswego County Health Department at 315-349-3557 weekdays or 315-341-0086 evenings, weekends and holidays.

To learn more about blue-green algae, visit www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/77118.html or www.health.ny.gov/environmental/water/drinking/bluegreenalgae.htm

Additional Charges Filed In May Fatal Crash

PULASKI, NY – On July 21, Casey C. Billings, 29, from 426 Villiard Road, Parish, was arrested and additionally charged with Manslaughter 2nd and Attempted Burglary 3rd as a result of a fatal motor vehicle accident in May.

On May 8, Billings was involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident on Sate Route 69 in the town of Mexico, according to troopers.

Casey C. Billings

Casey C. Billings

Billings who was injured in the accident was originally charged with DWI.

Billings’ brother, Christopher J. Billings, 41, a passenger in the vehicle died as a result of his injuries from the accident.

Investigation revealed the brothers were allegedly fleeing the village of Mexico after they attempted to break into the Kinney Drug Store in Mexico.

Casey Billings, the driver of the vehicle, 2012 Ford F-250, driving at a high rate of speed lost control on a curve on Route 69 striking several trees, according to the accident report.

He was arraigned in the Town of Hastings Court and released to reappear at a later date.

OMF Ontario Open For Tours During Harborfest

OSWEGO, NY – Deck tours aboard the schooner OMF Ontario will be offered during Oswego’s Harborfest celebration.

Tours will be available at the West Pier.

OMF Ontario officially sails into Oswego Harbor on August 27, 2005.

OMF Ontario officially sails into Oswego Harbor on August 27, 2005.

The times are as follows:

July 25 from 10 a.m. – noon and 3 – 5 p.m.

July 26 from 10 a.m. – noon and 3 – 5 p.m.

July 27 from 10 a.m. – noon.

The ship was built by a crew of “dedicated volunteers.”

History 1988 to 2012

June 25, 1988 – Official keel-laying

July 2, 1994 – OMF Ontario hull launched 115 years to the day of the last schooner, Leadville, which was launched in Oswego on July 2, 1879, at Goble Shipyard and Drydock.

August 27, 2005 – Commissioning ceremony OMF Ontario officially sailed into Oswego Harbor.

August 13, 2008 – Schooner sailed to Sodus Bay for hull inspection and maintenance. Invasive microbiological induced corrosion was discovered resulting in steel hull replacement below waterline.

June 27, 2012 – OMF Ontario returned to Oswego for Harborfest 2012 for a successful sailing season.

The Future

OMF Ontario will serve as a floating classroom for education.

The Education Through Involvement Program, developed by the Oswego Maritime Foundation, will take organized groups under sail on Lake Ontario.

The ETI Program will utilize a hands-on approach to learning about the history, heritage, resources and ecology of the Great Lakes.

Great Lakes schooners transported people, manufactured goods, grain, coal and lumber throughout the region for most of the 19th century and many were built here in Oswego until 1879.

Rail and steam replaced schooners in the 20th century.

Gay Pride Parade, Festival Planned In Oswego

OSWEGO, NY – At its meeting Monday night, the Physical Services Committee paved the way for the Port City’s first gay pride parade and festival.

Gary L. Smith Jr., president of the Oswego Pride Committee, requested permission to host an Oswego gay pride parade and outdoor festival on October 12.

He also asked the committee for permission to use the Veterans’ Stage to hold a family-friendly drag show.

The committee voted 4-0 to send the requests to the full council for consideration next week.

The parade will originate in Breitbeck Park and head east on Lake Street to West Linear Park, Smith explained.

They plan to have a family-friendly event offering food vendors and craft booths set up by non-profit groups and agencies that are geared toward the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, he added.

There will also be an art exhibit, “Express Your Pride,” to focus on pride – showcasing local artists, expressing different people’s views on diversity in the community.

“Since we are anticipating having many people in attendance, with their families, we are also planning games and activities for children,” Smith said. “Hopefully with a bounce house, face painting and other activities for kids. We are not serving alcohol at all. It’s strictly family-friendly.”

In regard to the drag show, he pointed out that they will be featuring Disney music and “all costumes and music choices will be appropriate for all ages.

The parade would start around 11 a.m., and the festival would run from noon until 4 p.m.

“Obviously, this is something that has never happened here in Oswego,” committee chair Mike Myers said. “I see ‘drag show’ and I know people’s minds are going to go wild.”

“We are going at it more from a theatrical direction, a Disney theme. Drag is not new at all. Drag appeared in Shakespeare’s plays. Women were not allowed to perform on stage. So, all the female roles were played by men. In the script, it would say the character would enter ‘DRessed As Girl,’” Smith explained. So we’re just taking that and putting a little more flair on it, a little more theatrical twist on the thing.”

There won’t be anything inappropriate or of sexual nature, he told the committee.

“It’s not like your basic gay bar drag show,” he said.

“G-rated,” Myers said.

“Exactly,” Smith replied.

They “tested” parts of the show recently at the Relay For Life Walk, he said, adding that it was very well-received.

“We’re not looking to corrupt anyone. It’s strictly theater,” Smith said. “We’ll have music groups; we’re looking at bringing in some people from the Syracuse Gay and Lesbian Chorus.

Councilor Mike Todd asked if the college would be involved in the event.

Smith noted that the purposly scheduled the event in October so that the college students would be back and settled in.

“It (October) is National Gay and Lesbian Month. And the weekend of the 12th is National Coming Out Day,” he said.

Councilor Fran Enwright asked how many people would be in the parade.

Smith said he didn’t have a set figure, adding that the event isn’t until October; “Being the first time we’ve ever done this, it’s hard to say,” he said.

Councilor Ron Kapleweicz inquired about a raindate.

There isn’t a set raindate, Smith said. However, they have talked with representatives at The American Foundry who have indicated they can bring the show inside if need be. There just won’t be a parade, Smith noted.

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