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Literacy Coalition of Oswego County Literacy Event Sept. 22 Celebrates ‘Dream Big: Read’

The Literacy Coalition of Oswego County (LCOC), is hosting a free literacy event, “Dream Big: Read,” noon to 3 p.m. at Fairgrieve Elementary School, 716 Academy St., Fulton, it was announced by Jon Spaulding, president of the LCOC Leadership Council.  It’s part of Oswego County Literacy Weekend, which begins with the Diane Falise Memorial Scrabble Fest on Friday, Sept. 21, sponsored by and benefiting Literacy Volunteers of Oswego County.

he Literacy Coalition of Oswego County (LCOC), is hosting a free literacy event, “Dream Big: Read,” Noon to 3:00 p.m. at Fairgrieve Elementary School, 716 Academy St., Fulton, it was announced by Jon Spaulding, president of the LCOC Leadership Council. The CNY Arts Center generously created two sets of 3-feet tall wooden letters built by Oswego County BOCES students that spell ‘R-E-A-D’ and will be on display at the event. Each letter is brightly painted with messages and symbols about the joys of reading. The letters were designed and painted by artist Ken Blount. CNY Arts Center artists Bonnie McClellan, Leslie Paice and Diamond Chapman collaborated with Blount on painting. Representing the LCOC above are, from left: Jeff Grimshaw, director, Office of Business and Community Relations, SUNY Oswego; Bill Crist, superintendent, Oswego City School District; McClellan; Paice; Blunt; Nancy Fox, director, CNY Arts Center; Beth Hilton, executive director, Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce; Sabine Ingerson, director, ARISE Oswego County Offices; and Jennifer Cook, aide to Assemblyman Will Barclay. Absent from the photo is artist Diamond Chapman. For more information about The Literacy Coalition of Oswego County, visit www.oswegocounty.com and click on the literacy coalition link.

“The Dream Big: Read event promises to be a wonderful celebration of literacy and the joy of reading for all ages—from pre-school through adults,” Spaulding said. “There will be a multitude of activities for families. Among these are door prizes, face painting, craft projects by CNY ARTS, light refreshments, and the Cat in the Hat character. Plus, kids are encouraged to come dressed as their favorite book character.

“The CNY Arts Center generously created two sets of 3-feet tall wooden letters built by Oswego County BOCES students that spell ‘R-E-A-D’. Each letter is brightly painted with messages and symbols about the joys of reading. The letters were designed and painted by artist Ken Blount. CNY Arts Center artists Bonnie McClellan, Leslie Paice and Diamond Chapman collaborated with Blount on painting. These are truly a highlight of the celebration and echo our ‘Dream Big’ theme.”

Also on display at the event will be an extensive exhibit of 60 unique works of art and literature provided by ARISE, an independent living center run by and for people with disabilities in Onondaga, Oswego and Madison counties, said Sabine Ingerson, director of ARISE’s Oswego County Offices. Each piece was created by a person with a disability ranging from multiple sclerosis, to physical disability, to mental health challenges.

“There’s a direct tie-in with literacy by the many poems that are within this exhibit,” Ingerson said. “Other media include acrylic and oil painting on canvas and paper, sculpture, wood working, paper casts, fiber art, and mixed media.

“In addition, we will have copies of ARISE’s Unique magazine that has the complete collection in color photos with backgrounds on each of the artists. This is a truly moving exhibit and a testament to the artists’ success in rising above their respective disabilities.”

One of the most popular interactive attractions at the event will be “Recording Our Future,” said Jennifer Cook, chair of LCOC’s Event Committee. “The project is a partnership between Oswego Middle School  (OMS) and SUNY Oswego that allows OMS students to experience music through the use of audio recording and technology. Students and faculty from SUNY Oswego work with the middle school music classes as they create their recordings, learn about various aspects of the music business and discover some career options for their future.

“At our event, people can sing-along to recorded tracks, make their own music, and learn about the technology involved in the recording industry.

“Among the providers for the event are: Literacy Volunteers of Oswego County (LVOC); Oswego County Opportunities (OCO) Headstart; Oswego County Workforce NY; Oswego County Library Council; ARISE; Cayuga Community College; SUNY OSWEGO; Oswego County BOCES; Fulton School District GED; NY State Assemblyman Will Barclay; Rural Health Network; local police and fire departments; and more.”

In addition, children from around the county have been participating in local summer reading programs through the Oswego County Library Council and the top ten from each program will be entered in a contest to win prizes at this event, Spaulding said. “The top prize is an e-reader donated by Chirello Advertising, Fulton.

“The goal of The Literacy Coalition of Oswego County is to empower our community to build literacy in a collaborative, inclusive and comprehensive manner,” Spaulding said. “The Coalition is dedicated to supporting and expanding literacy services so that people can work, the economy can grow, families can thrive, and our community can prosper.”

The LCOC is a growing coalition of more than 36 local organizations. These organizations work together to address the literacy needs of people of all ages.

Members of the LCOC Leadership Council include: Alliance Bank; Assemblyman William Barclay 124th District; Cayuga Community College; Chirello Advertising, City of Fulton; City of Oswego; Constellation Energy; Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County; Eastern Shore Associates; Entergy Nuclear Northeast; Fulton City School District; Fulton Family YMCA; Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce; Literacy Volunteers of Oswego County; Operation Oswego County; Central Southern Tier Regional Adult Education Network.

Other Leadership Council supporters include: NYS Education Department; NYS Sen. Patty Ritchie 48th District; Oswego City School

District; Oswego County Administrator; Oswego County BOCES; Oswego

County Federal Credit Union; Oswego County Legislature; Oswego County Opportunities; Oswego County Workforce Development Board; Oswego Family County Family Court Judge Kimberly Seager; Oswego Health; Oswego Public Library; Oswego YMCA; Pathfinder Bank; Pulaski School District; State University of New York at Oswego; The Palladium-Times; United Way of Greater Oswego County; CNY Arts Center, and the Wes Hyde Foundation.

An estimated 40 to 44 million adults in the United States demonstrate skills in the lowest level of prose, document, and quantitative proficiencies.

Many are unable to total an entry on a deposit slip, locate the time and place on a meeting form, or identify a piece of specific information in a brief news article (ProLiteracy Worldwide).

In Oswego County, close to 17,000 adults cannot read above a fifth grade reading level. With the help of volunteers, donors and advocates, the Literacy Coalition of Oswego County helps adults develop their basic literary skills.

In addition, several local school districts support the coalition to address illiteracy within their student populations, Church said.

For more information about The Literacy Coalition of Oswego County, visit www.oswegocounty.com and click on the literacy coalition link.

 

County Says Goodbye To Retiring Legislators

OSWEGO, NY – The Oswego County Legislature said goodbye to two of its own. Barb Brown and Barry Leemann, both of whom are retiring, were recognized at the last count meeting of the year.

“Barb has been a legislator here as you all know for a very long time – 20 years, from 1992 until now,” Chairman Leemann pointed out.

Barb Brown thanks her fellow legislators for their well wishes. Looking on is Barry Leemann who also retired from the legislature.

Barb Brown thanks her fellow legislators for their well wishes. Looking on is Barry Leemann who also retired from the legislature.

She has been the legislator for District 8, representing Palermo, parts of Hastings and Schroeppel.

“She has seen a lot of things transpire over those years. She has also served on the following committees,” he began but after going over the first 10 he added, “She has served on just about every committee there is!”

She has done an excellent job for us, Leemann said, adding that he thinks there is no better advocate for farmers than Brown.

“We have spent many days together, Barb. Throughout the years I have enjoyed your friendship, sense of decency and overall heart-felt commitment to the people of Oswego County. I wish you the best of health; we want you to get better, we wish you the best of health and happiness in the days ahead,” he said. “On behalf of the whole legislature and all the people of Oswego County, thank you for all you’ve done in 20 years for making our county a little stronger, our families a little safer, our farmers a little better and our hopes for tomorrow a little more reachable.”

“I will miss you all,” Brown said. “I will come back once in a while.”

“Thank you all for the work that we did together. And thank you for all your good wishes this year through my troubles,” she added as her voice cracked with emotion.

“This is a very enjoyable moment,” Legislator Jack Proud started in his farewell address to Leemann.

“Enjoyable because he’s leaving?” Legislator James Karasek jokingly interrupted.

“Getting to pass this on to a legislator for whom I have a great deal of respect,” Proud explained as he highlighted some of the chairman’s political career.

Leemann is retiring after 10 years of service, representing District 4 – Amboy, Parish and parts of Hastings and Williamstown.

“He has served as Majority Leader as well as being a distinguished chairman of the legislature . . . at which time he soundly defeated my candidacy, quipped Proud, the former chair of the legislature.

“I have enjoyed your friendship, your sense of decency and your heart-felt commitment to the people of Oswego County,” Proud continued. “I wish you all the best of health and happiness in the days ahead. On behalf of the entire legislature and all of the people of Oswego County, thank you for all you have done in your 10 years to make our community a little greener, stronger and our hope for tomorrow a little more reachable.”

Former clerk of the legislature Ted Jerrett is greeted by Legislator Barb Brown. Both along with Chairman Barry Leemann, were cited by the New York State Senate for their years of service.

Former clerk of the legislature Ted Jerrett is greeted by Legislator Barb Brown. Both along with Chairman Barry Leemann, were cited by the New York State Senate for their years of service.

Holly Carpenter, representing Sen. Patty Ritchie’s office, presented recognitions from the state to Leemann and Brown as well as former clerk of the legislature Ted Jerrett who retired earlier this year.

“On behalf of the minority caucus I want to thank you and Barb on your years of service,” said Minority Leader Mike Kunzwiler. “I want to thank you for all your help over the years. Barry, it’s tough being in a leadership position. You held yourself up high and well in representing this county and we appreciate that. It’s not always easy. We don’t always get along. But, at the end of the day you’re always fair and honest with our caucus and we appreciate it. That’s better government when we work together, thanks to you. We’ll miss you.”

“All I want to say is everything that I’ve ever done here I have done with the help of you,” Leemann told his fellow legislators and county employees. “I couldn’t do a thing without the people that are in this room; we all know that. There is nothing that one person can do, you can try, but it is very difficult if you don’t have the rest of the people work with you.”

He said he enjoyed his tenure on the legislature and learned a lot.

“I appreciate it. I am leaving while I am in good health. I’ve got a lot of things I want to do. I’ve got a lot of energy left and I am going to do some other things and probably spend time doing things that might be fun; this was fun, but after a while it wears on you, as you all know, look at Barb for God sakes.”

The District 8 representative smiled knowingly and just nodded her head at the out-going chairman.

Leemann strongly encouraged the legislature to maintain the Green Team task force that he began.

The Green Team has brought in a lot of money through its energy recovery and energy saving efforts, he pointed out.

They have also brought in around $7.5 million. A lot of that money went to replace stuff that the county would have had to replace anyway (using taxpayers’ money), Leemann said.

“So we have actually saved county taxpayers an awful lot of money,” he said. “Everything that we have done and any costs … we will be getting our money back and be breaking even in two years then we’ll benefit for a long time. So I wish you’d keep that going.”

“We have worked together as much as we can, bipartisanly. I know we’ve had differences. But I appreciate everything everybody has done here working with me. I’d also like to thank (County Administrator) Phil Church. I wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t able to keep my head above water and (County Attorney) Rich Mitchell telling me which resolution to vote on … it’s tough to keep up with this stuff.”

Schumer Vows To Fight For Funds To Help Area Battle Meth

OSWEGO, NY – Flanked by nearly a dozen Oswego city and county law and fire personnel, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer today (Nov. 22) announced a new effort to fight back against the growing scourge of crystal meth use and mobile production labs.

Senator Charles Schumer outlines his plan to fight meth in Oswego County. With him, from left, are: Oswego Police Chief Tory DeCaire, Oswego Fire Chief Jeff McCrobie and Oswego Fire Captain David Engle.

Senator Charles Schumer outlines his plan to fight meth in Oswego County. With him, from left, are: Oswego Police Chief Tory DeCaire, Oswego Fire Chief Jeff McCrobie and Oswego Fire Captain David Engle.

Speaking in the Legislature Chamber at the Oswego County Building, Schumer presented a “one-two punch” plan to curb the flow of meth production, sales and consumption in Central New York, specifically Oswego County.

The senator called for more federal and private assistance to combat the meth problem in the wake of a series of lab busts over the last several weeks, including a mobile lab bust on Sunday afternoon in the Port City.

It could mean in the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars for area law enforcement, Schumer said.

“Over the past year, Oswego County and the cities and other law enforcement have stepped up their efforts to combat drug crimes in our communities,” County Administrator Phil Church said. He thanked the senator for pushing for more help for the county.

He noted the recent high-profile drug arrests made by the county and Oswego City police and the legislature’s hard stance against synthetic drugs.

The county this year has re-established its Drug Task Force, he added.

“Our efforts have not gone unnoticed,” he said. “Senator Schumer has come here today to announce a new federal initiative which may provide some assistance here to Oswego County. So we are very happy to welcome him.”

“Now, we all know about meth. It is a terrible, terrible drug. It can be smoked, snorted, injected, taken orally – meth is psychologically addictive,” Schumer said. “Users become paranoid and unpredictable. It is so bad that if taken orally, it actually destroys your mouth.”

“The disturbing trend of increased meth use is something the brave men and women standing here with me know very well,” he continued. “Oswego County does a very good job locally in trying to go after meth; it is a hard drug to go after because it can be so easily made and made just about anywhere.”

It isn’t like certain other drugs that have to be imported, he said.

Law enforcement should do everything it can to curb the problem, before it gets out of control, the senator said, adding he’d do his part to ensure they have the needed resources.

“It’s as simple as this: one speck of meth in our Central New York community is one speck too much!” he proclaimed.

Standing with local law enforcement officials, Schumer called on the New York and New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area group and the Office of National Drug Control Policy to add Oswego County to the list of counties eligible to receive additional federal resources to fight back against meth production and consumption.

The designation would help put more resources behind the county’s drug task force, he said. HIDTA works with local authorities to assess the drug problem in the region, designs specific initiatives; they know what has worked in other places and they share that information and “best news of all” they help pay for some of the resources, Schumer explained.

Law enforcement in the county is doing a great job fighting the war on drugs, “they are giving it everything they’ve got,” Schumer said, adding, “The designation would give them more.”

Also, he said he’s like Oswego County and all of Central New York to benefit from The Meth Project. It’s a private national group that partners with individual states.

They would help to raise awareness of the dangers of crystal meth and partner with New York State to eradicate its use by getting the word out to kids through public service announcements and educational programming.

He said he will encourage New York State to apply to the project and have Central New York as the site where it is implemented.

Young children are one of the favorite targets of meth dealers, the senator said.

“So, we need education. It’s very important,” Schumer said.

A partnership could lead to public service announcements, private marketing campaigns, and community action programs that will increase the amount of information available to Central New Yorkers regarding the dangers of crystal meth.

Oswego County Sheriff Reuel Todd talks about the battle against meth in the area.

Oswego County Sheriff Reuel Todd talks about the battle against meth in the area.

“With the number of methamphetamine busts and arrests on the rise in Central New York, the time is now to crack down and to stop the dangerous spread of crystal meth in its tracks,” Schumer said. “This devastating drug can literally rip our families and communities apart – we can’t let that happen. It is clear that Oswego County and all of Central New York need additional federal and private assistance in fighting back against both production and consumption before this trend reaches epidemic proportions.”

Besides Church, Schumer was joined by Oswego County District Attorney-elect Greg Oakes, Oswego County Sheriff Reuel Todd, City Police captains David Lizotte and Michael Beckwith, Oswego Police Chief Tory DeCaire, Oswego Fire and HAZMAT Chief, Jeff McCrobie, firefighters and police officers as he announced his push to crack down on methamphetamine production and use in Central New York.

Also present were Oswego Mayor Randy Bateman and mayor-elect Tom Gillen as well as several legislators.

The senator thanked Bateman for the good job he has done as mayor and said he looks forward to working with Gillen.

Specifically, Schumer is urging the New York and New Jersey HIDTA group and the ONDCP to add Oswego County to the group of counties, eligible for additional resources in the fight against methamphetamine presence in the region.

Just this week, Oswego police arrested four people in connection with this past Sunday’s mobile meth lab bust in Oswego.

Police received a tip about illegal drug activity in a local parking lot and pulled a vehicle over to find materials inside that are used in the production of methamphetamines.

“Aside from the fact that this was happening right here in everyone’s back yard, what was particularly disturbing was the fact that a small child was in the car where this illegal and potentially combustible drug-making took place,” the senator pointed out.

Additional information led police to an apartment at 3 Mary St., where they reportedly found more evidence of methamphetamine production.

Schumer noted two other incidents of meth consumption and production in Oswego County within two weeks in October. The first occurred in Williamstown on Oct. 3, where a man was found to have the necessary paraphernalia to produce meth in his single-family home. In the second incidence on Oct. 12, a Mexico resident was found to have a small meth producing operation in her home.

“Unfortunately,” Schumer said these incidents “may just be the tip of the iceberg.”

In light of such examples, Schumer noted the volatility of the ingredients and danger of meth-making, not only for those involved in the illegal activity, but also innocent children in the home and neighbors that live in close proximity to these labs.

Neither incident was found to be an extremely large operation on its own, Schumer said. But the ingredients are very dangerous and one wrong move can create a large fire and explosion putting innocent children and neighbors at risk, he added.

The repeated meth-related arrests, over such a short period of time, suggest a large and dangerous trend in Central New York.

“We have to put a cap on this trend,” he said. “The best thing to do when there is a trend in any kind of drug use it to try and stamp it out as quickly as possible. When you let something fester, it gets worse. When you do what we’re doing here in Oswego County, going after it as quickly as possible, you can stop it before it becomes too embedded in the community.”

“I couldn’t agree with Sen. Schumer any more. I think the biggest problem we have here is the fact that we are a rural area and the meth dealers are being driven out of the city because of task forces and the smells that comes from ‘cooking’ the products that you need are much less noticeable up her in a rural area. The fires that we’ve had, the fire departments know these are very dangerous vapors that are being used to create these fast-burning fires; people can be severley hurt or killed,” Sheriff Todd said. “The guys in the field, our deputies, the patrol officers here, they are the ones that are getting these tips, getting the information. These are the people we need to continue to get this information and be able to make these raids and take this off our streets. Again, one life is way too many to lose.”

Under the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 and the ONDCP Reauthorization Act of 2006, the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy is authorized to declare areas that exhibit serious drug trafficking problems as HIDTAs following the successful petition by groups of local law enforcement.

HIDTA-designated counties comprise approximately 14 percent of U.S. counties, and exist in 45 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia. Schumer noted that Onondaga County is already designated as a HIDTA, and it is clear that Central New York as a whole needs more federal and private assistance to combat its meth problem.

Based on recent events, Schumer is urging that Oswego County be added as an eligible county for this federal assistance, so that this disturbing and growing trend can be stopped in its tracks.

The mission of the HIDTA program is to disrupt the market for illegal drugs in the United States by assisting federal, state, and local law enforcement entities to dismantle and disrupt drug trafficking organizations – with an emphasis on drug trafficking regions that have harmful effects on other parts of the United States.

Since 1990, 28 regions in the United States, comprising 14% of U.S. counties, have been designated as HIDTAs and are eligible to receive targeted funding through the program.

A HIDTA is regarded as a coordinating umbrella for federal, state and local agencies. Once ONDCP, in consultation with a number of government officials such as the Attorney General, designates a region as a HIDTA, the region can receive federal money to help local law enforcement clamp down on illegal drugs transported through those counties.

The HIDTA’s Executive Board, based in New York City, then allocates funding in order to fight drug trafficking most effectively.

Law enforcement organizations within HIDTAs assess drug trafficking problems and design specific initiatives to reduce or eliminate the production, manufacture, transportation, distribution and chronic use of illegal drugs and money laundering. Through a combination of joint initiatives and resource and information sharing, the HIDTA program helps improve the effectiveness of drug control efforts.

In the coming weeks and months, Schumer will work with the New York and New Jersey HIDTA and the ONDCP in support of Oswego’s anticipated application to join the group.

Schumer is also pushing The Meth Project foundation to begin a “New York Meth Project” as they have done in numerous other states.

The Meth Project was established in 2005 in response to the growing Meth epidemic in the U.S.

The Meth Project partners with states and is a large-scale prevention program aimed at reducing Meth use through public service messaging, public policy, and community outreach.

Central to the program is a research-based marketing campaign and community action programs designed to communicate the risks of Meth use.

This privately funded program has already partnered with Georgia, Montana, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois and Wyoming, and Schumer is asking The Meth Project to select New York as a new partner.

Schumer’s request of The Meth Project to partner with New York comes as many communities in Central New York have seen serious incidence of methamphetamine use, including the operation of mobile methamphetamine labs in Oswego.

Schumer applauds The Meth Project for its critical work in educating individuals and larger communities of the extreme physical dangers, as well as financial and social effects that methamphetamine can have on its users, and urges the Project to expand its work in New York.

If The Meth Project began to help tackle New York’s meth problem, the group would conduct survey research across the state to understand patterns of meth use, and attitudes and behaviors towards the drug.

The research would draw on six years of experienced research in other states that has surveyed 50,000 individuals and 112 focus groups in consultation with research experts.

The group would then launch an integrated campaign including messaging on all types of media including TV, newspapers, radio, online, mobile and social media campaigns that clearly highlight the dangers of meth use.

“This plan would be a one-two punch to fight back against this glaring and growing problem,” Schumer said. “If the last month is any indicator, we don’t have a moment to lose. If we can save one life, if we can prevent one person following meth right off the cliff, it’s going to be worth it. And, I’m sure we’re going to do a lot more than that.”

County Departments’ Budgets Under The Microscope

OSWEGO, NY – County legislators got to work Monday examining the department budgets that will make up the entire 2012 spending plan.

The Strategic Planning and Government Committee meeting covered several departments including: Clerk of Legislature, County Attorney, County Legislature, District Attorney, the Oswego County Library Council, Oswego County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs and Mercy Flight Central.

“The (draft) budget looks quite different than it did last year,” according to Phil Church, county administrator. “As it stands right now, the nuclear power plants are on the tax rolls for 2012 because there is no agreement. All the money that was in PILOT revenue goes onto the levy. But also full value goes up because the value of the plants goes up.”

“So, the total numbers of the budget look totally different then they have the past 10 years (when there was a PILOT),” he continued. “Our goal is to comply with the tax cap (set by the state) when the budget is passed.”

The county’s 2012 budget will be passed on Dec. 15 (the last scheduled legislature meeting of the year) or shortly thereafter because by law it must be passed by Dec. 20.

“So we got a lot of work left to do yet, but I am confident that we will get there,” Church said.

Chief Assistant District Attorney (and candidate for DA) Greg Oakes spoke on behalf of his department.

In 2010, they handled about 721 felony cases. This year, as of Oct. 21, the number was 705. They expect to likely finish the year with more than 800 cases, Oakes said.

He added that they are making due with what they have and isn’t asking for any additional staff.

“We appreciate the incoming district attorney, his efforts as to keeping costs down and not bringing forward to the committee as far as any personnel changes. We do appreciate your efforts,” said Legislator Jim Oldenburg.

The director of the Williamstown Library and president of the Oswego County Library Council spoke on behalf of that group.

She told the committee that 46.4 percent of the charter population in Oswego County holds library cards.

“Library usage is increasing by 15 to 30 percent while budgets are cut 10 to 15 percent. With operating costs continuing to rise, even if library budgets remain constant, which they don’t, something has to give,” she said. “That means fewer books, computers and hours. Budget cuts continue as library use soars.”

State aid to the North Country Library System has decreased 22 percent in the last four years; yet the state budget has increased from $66 billion to more than $133 billion, she pointed out, adding, “Libraries have been left behind.”

“There isn’t a library in this county that doesn’t work our butts off for fundraisers. So we don’t just sit and wait for people to give us money. We work all the time,” she added.

“Maybe we ought to look at a little bit of an increase here,” suggested Legislator Doug Malone. “We cut the guts out of them a few years ago.”

He moved to send a proposal to the personal and finance committee to recommend to the full legislature a 7 percent increase for the libraries in 2012. That would mean about $58,800 for the libraries.

The resolution was unanimously approved.

Mercy Flight was asking for $5,000 from the county, according to Milferd Potter, committee chair.

“My way, up east, the helicopter does fly up there to rescue snowmobilers and occasionally a car accident,” he said. “I’m not sure where the helicopter is out of; if it is Mercy Flight or which helicopter it is. We do see them … quite a few times a year.”

Legislator Oldenburg pointed out that Mercy Flight is privately owned with home offices in Canandaigua. They charge approximately $10,000 a rescue, Potter added.

Mercy Flight is in Onondaga County, Oldenburg said. “Onondaga County Air One is the Onondaga County owned helicopter and they are starting a federation to raise funds to keep that running,” he added.

“I’d rather be reimbursing Onondaga County for their helicopter rather than Mercy Flight,” Potter said. “Mercy flight is charging money for their services.”

Legislator Bob Hayes said he is interested in seeing how many times Mercy Flight has assisted someone in Oswego Count over the past year.

“Five thousand dollars is a lot of money. If they were serious about us giving them $5,000, they would have had a representative here,” Oldenburg said.

The motion to provide the funds for Mercy Flight failed for lack of a second.

On Monday afternoon, the Public Safety and Emergency Services Committee reviewed the budgets for E-911, Emergency Management, Fire Coordinator, Probation, Sheriff, and Search and Rescue.

On Tuesday, the Economic Development and Planning Committee and the Infrastructure and Facilities Committee will review the departments under their umbrellas.

City Looks To Joins County In Opposition To Shaman

OSWEGO, NY – At its meeting Monday night, the Common Council will consider a resolution to join forces with the county in opposing the manufacture and sale of synthetic drugs, such as Happy Shaman.

Last week, a county legislator urged the Common Council to approve a resolution similar to what the county recently passed.

“This is a resolution that was addressed by the county and we are being urged as the city council to do the same,” Councilor Connie Cosemento, chair of the Physical Services Committee, explained.

“Legislator Jake Mulcahey contacted me over the weekend and we decided that is was a good idea. Since the county already passed this resolution, we would just mirror theirs and urge our state representatives to pass the appropriate laws (to curb the spread of these substances),” said Mayor Randy Bateman. “It seems to be an issue in our community for sure as well as the whole county and rest of the state.”

Happy Shaman is a product that is marketed as an herbal incense blend.

Opponents say it is a type of synthetic marijuana; known on the street as “legal weed.” Many people aren’t using it as incense and are instead inhaling it using drug paraphernalia smoking it in cigarette form, they added.

“The sticky parts are with the wording, as these things are constantly evolving and changing,” Mulcahey told the councilors. “So, what we did was pass our resolution through Health and Human Services and move it to the full legislature, which passed it unanimously to move on to state and federal government.”

If the product is deemed illegal in one form, the manufacturers change the formula and remove the suspect compounds thereby making the product legal again.

There has been a large public response (against Happy Shaman), “far more than usual, Mulcahey said.

The county’s Health and Human Services Committee recently unanimously passed a resolution asking the state and federal government to ban or better regulate the sale of the substances in question, Mulcahey told the city councilors.

According to the county’s resolution: “Hospitals, health agencies and poison control centers are experiencing increased emergency room cases, illnesses, deaths and reports linked to the use and abuse of these substances by children and adults.

“Law enforcement agencies and courts are seeing increased crime in our local communities associated with the sale and abuse of these substances.

“Manufacturers and retailers of these substances often directly market them to children and teenagers through the Internet and by colorful, youthful packaging designs that include no warnings or adequate description of the ingredients and are deceptively sold as incense or aroma products.”

It urges federal drug enforcement, health, justice and commerce agencies and elected officials to “recognize the urgency of this matter and adopt effective regulations or bans on the manufacture, sale and possession of these substances and their future derivatives or successors by anyone in New York State.”

The resolution concludes by urging the NYS Legislature and governor to immediately pass meaningful and effective legislation criminalizing the manufacture, sale and possession of these substances and their future derivatives or successors by anyone in New York State.

For more information, Mulcahey suggested contacting Farnham.

Established in 1971, Farnham Family Services offers prevention services, school-based Student Assistance and treatment services to all residents of Oswego and surrounding counties. Anyone interested in learning more about Farnham can call 342-4489 or visit www.farnhaminc.org

At the county meeting, health officials said it isn’t fair to compare these products to alcohol. Alcohol is what it is, they said, whereas these products are being marketed as one thing but used as something else.

“Alcohol is labeled as alcohol and it is regulated,” according to County Administrator Phil Church. “Whereas, these other substances, sold as incense or stimulants, were mislabeled as bath salts. So a vast difference exists. Alcohol is identified as what it is. And, people know what it is. These substances are sold under labels that don’t clearly say what they are, ingredients aren’t clear, completely unregulated.”

Sales of alcohol are restricted to people of a certain age, added Health Committee chair Jack Proud.

“These drugs are intended toward youth; there is no regulation on this. It is necessary for us to begin to establish regulation,” he said.

Literacy Coalition of Oswego County Event, Sept. 24, Celebrates ‘One World, Many Stories’

The Literacy Coalition of Oswego County (LCOC), is hosting a free literacy event, “One World, Many Stories,” 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Oswego YMCA Armory, 265 W. 1st St., it was announced by Jeanne Cieszeski, event planning team chairperson.

“The event promises to be a wonderful celebration of literacy and the joy of reading for all ages—from pre-school through adults,” Cieszeski said. “There will be a multitude of activities for families throughout the day. Among these are a free book giveaway station; a bounce house for kids, face painting, balloon animals, craft projects by CNY ARTS, food, and the ‘Driving Books Home’ Bookmobile.

“There will also be ‘Paws For Reading’ set up to offer children the opportunity to read to pets. Plus there will be an Author’s Corner to offer participants the opportunity to meet local authors.

The Literacy Coalition of Oswego County (LCOC), is hosting a free literacy event, “One World, Many Stories,” 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Oswego YMCA Armory, 265 W. 1st St., it was announced by Jeanne Cieszeski, event planning team chairperson. “The event promises to be a wonderful celebration of literacy and the joy of reading for all ages—from pre-school through adults,” Cieszeski said. “There will be a multitude of activities for families throughout the day. Among these are a free book giveaway station; a bounce house for kids, face painting, balloon animals, craft projects by CNY ARTS, food, and the ‘Driving Books Home’ Bookmobile (above). For more information about The Literacy Coalition of Oswego County, visit www.oswegocounty.com and click on the literacy coalition link.

“A number of education provider booths will echo the event theme—One World, Many Stories—by representing different countries. ‘Passports’ will be provided to anyone who attends so that they can get them stamped at each booth. Anyone who visits all the education provider booths can enter to win door prizes. Among the providers are: Literacy Volunteers of Oswego County (LVOC); Oswego County Opportunities (OCO) Headstart; Oswego County Workforce NY; Oswego County Library Council; ARISE; Cayuga Community College; SUNY OSWEGO; Oswego County BOCES; Fulton School District GED; NY State Assemblyman Will Barclay; Rural Health Network; local police and fire departments; and more.”

In addition, children from around the county have been participating in local summer reading programs of the same name and the top ten from each program will be entered in a contest to win prizes at this event, Ciezeski said.

“The goal of The Literacy Coalition of Oswego County is to empower our community to build literacy in a collaborative, inclusive and comprehensive manner,” said Philip R. Church, Oswego County Administrator and coalition chairperson. “The Coalition is dedicated to supporting and expanding literacy services so that people can work, the economy can grow, families can thrive, and our community can prosper.”

The LCOC is a growing coalition of more than 36 local organizations. These organizations work together to address the literacy needs of people of all ages.

Members of the LCOC Leadership Council include: Alliance Bank; Assemblyman William Barclay 124th District; Cayuga Community College; Chirello Advertising, City of Fulton; City of Oswego; Constellation Energy; Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County; Eastern Shore Associates; Entergy Nuclear Northeast; Fulton City School District; Fulton Family YMCA; Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce; Literacy Volunteers of Oswego County; Operation Oswego County; Central Southern Tier Regional Adult Education Network.

Other Leadership Council supporters include: NYS Education Department; NYS Sen. Patty Ritchie 48th District; Oswego City School District; Oswego County Administrator; Oswego County BOCES; OswegoCounty Federal Credit Union; Oswego County Legislature; Oswego County Opportunities; Oswego County Workforce Development Board; Oswego Family County Family Court Judge Kimberly Seager; Oswego Health; Oswego Public Library; Oswego YMCA; Pathfinder Bank; Pulaski School District; State University of New York at Oswego; The Palladium-Times; United Way of Greater Oswego County; and the Wes Hyde Foundation.

An estimated 40 to 44 million adults in the United States demonstrate skills in the lowest level of prose, document, and quantitative proficiencies.

Many are unable to total an entry on a deposit slip, locate the time and place on a meeting form, or identify a piece of specific information in a brief news article (ProLiteracy Worldwide).

In Oswego County, close to 17,000 adults cannot read above a fifth grade reading level. With the help of volunteers, donors and advocates, the Literacy Coalition of Oswego County helps adults develop their basic literary skills.

In addition, several local school districts support the coalition to address illiteracy within their student populations, Church said.

For more information about The Literacy Coalition of Oswego County, visit www.oswegocounty.com and click on the literacy coalition link.

Oswego County Pomona Grange Holds Changing Of Guard

OSWEGO, NY – On Sept. 10 elections and installation of officers was held for Oswego County Pomona Grange.

Robert Lewis receives the gavel from Past Master George A. Reed.

Robert Lewis, left, receives the gavel from Past Master George A. Reed.

Master George A. Reed turned the gravel of leadership over to Robert Lewis the newly elected Master.

The meeting was held at Mount Pleasant Grange Hall.

Newly elected officers assumed their stations for the coming year.

George assumed the office of Steward previously held by Lewis.

Business discussed included the Belgium Waffles breakfast to be held on Sept. 17 at Mount Pleasant Grange Hall.

Members of Mount Pleasant display wedding dresses that are up for sale.

Members of Mount Pleasant display wedding dresses that are up for sale.

A sale of used and new items including more than 100 wedding dresses will be held Sept. 15- 17.

A bargain for new brides – $1,000 dresses for as little as $30.

At the end of the meeting, a covered dish dinner was shared by the members of Oswego County Pomona.

The next meeting will be held Nov. 12, at Sandy Creek Grange.

United Way Campaign Chairs Up To Challenge

Written by: John DeRousie, Custom Marketing Solutions
OSWEGO, NY – When United Way board member, Jonathan Daniels, executive director of the Port of Oswego Authority, was asked to return for an unprecedented third term as a chair for the United Way’s Campaign Cabinet he was honored to realize that his contributions as campaign cabinet chair benefited such a worthy endeavor as the United Way’s Annual Campaign.

Jonathan Daniels

Jonathan Daniels

Joining Daniels in guiding this year’s United Way campaign and serving as co-chairperson, is Robert Rolfe of Pathfinder Bank. Longtime supporters of United Way, the two are well aware of the importance of their roles and gladly accepted the challenge to help make the United Way’s 2011 / 2012 campaign a success.

Daniels, who has been involved with past campaigns for the United Way of Eastern Maine has served as a member of the Campaign Cabinet for several years and chaired the past two United Way campaigns. “United Way provides much needed support to so many entities that provide vital services to those in need in Oswego County. It is an honor to be able to work once again with the Campaign Cabinet and the United Way staff in this capacity. We are excited about making this year’s campaign the best ever and I am looking forward to getting the campaign underway,” said Daniels.

Rolfe, who is true champion of the United Way’s efforts in Oswego County, has served as an in-house United Way company campaign coordinator for 11 years, a member of the United Way asset allocations committee for 7 years, and has been a vital part of the United Way campaign cabinet for the past 3 years. When asked why he is so passionate about the success of the United Way’s Annual Campaign, Rolfe said the answer is obvious. “United Way builds stronger communities in Oswego County. United Way’s Annual Campaign raises much needed funds that help 23 United Way member agencies fund 37 human services programs that benefit  families and individuals right here in the neighborhoods we live and work in,” said Rolfe.

Robert Rolfe

Robert Rolfe

The United Way’s Annual Campaign officially gets under way with a Kickoff Breakfast to be held Sept. 14 from 8 – 9 a.m. at the American Foundry, Route 104 East (behind The Fajita Grill).

Executive Director of the United Way of Greater Oswego County, Melanie Trexler, said Daniels, Rolfe, and the other members of the Campaign Cabinet have been working diligently to ensure that the United Way’s Campaign Kickoff Breakfast is an enlightening and inspiring event that will provide community members with a better understanding of the existing needs in Oswego County and the role United Way plays in helping to meet those needs. “Our Campaign Cabinet is excited about this year’s campaign. They are dedicated to establishing a precise plan of action that will allow us to achieve our campaign goals and, through our member agencies, serve as many families and individuals in Oswego County as possible,” she said.

Daniels sees this year’s campaign as one of the most challenging in the agency’s history. “The Kickoff Breakfast is the starting point for what may very well be the most important campaign the United Way has ever had.  These trying economic times have put many of our neighbors in dire need. We need to step up and set the stage for an exciting campaign.  This is the time for a call to service. We will use our Kickoff Breakfast to announce our goal and inspire the community to help us reach that goal,” said Daniels.

As for the focus of this year’s United Way Annual Campaign, Rolfe said that it is clearly set on the meeting some of the many basic needs of families and individuals in Oswego County. “It continues to be a challenging economy, which creates a greater need for many families and individuals throughout Oswego County. Throughout this campaign we are looking to bring these life needs to the forefront and help our community members understand how their generous donations truly benefit those in need,” said Rolfe.

United Way’s Annual Campaign serves as the organization’s primary fundraiser as the campaign looks to raise money in support of the many human services programs that the United Way and its member agencies provide for those who live in Oswego County.

“The Kickoff Breakfast will be the first step in a campaign that will reach out to more community members than ever before,” said Daniels. “Our Campaign Cabinet is 100% committed to making this campaign a success. Throughout this campaign we will be addressing as many business and individuals as possible to tell the story of the United Way and the positive impact that it has on the quality of life in Oswego County. While past campaigns have seen success, we are looking to bring this year’s campaign to new heights.”

Rolfe echoed those thoughts, praising those who have donated in the past and encouraging other to join them in supporting this year’s campaign. “As the need in our county has increased, I am proud to say that the generosity and compassion of our community has also increased. The support United Way has received from those who unselfishly contribute their time and money to help others makes our county a better place to live for everyone. The increasing support of United Way is a positive trend that I hope will continue with this year’s campaign and future campaigns,” said Rolfe.
 
“We invite community members to join us for the United Way Campaign Kickoff Breakfast and learn more about the United Way and how their donations to the campaign make a difference in the quality of life in Oswego County,” added Trexler. The cost to attend the event is $15. For more information, or to make reservations to attend the United Way Campaign Kickoff Breakfast, contact Lois Luber at your United Way office, 593-1900 or via e-mail at loisunitedway@windstream.net

County Begins To Map Out Redistricting Possibilities

OSWEGO, NY – The Oswego County Legislature has begun looking at whether to redistrict. It’s an option that could reduce the number of county legislators in the future.

The county’s redistricting committee held its first meeting Tuesday night. The committee is made up of legislators Dan Chalifoux (chair), Amy Tresidder and Fred Beardsley.

A handful of other legislatures and department heads also attended the informational meeting.

Representation on the county legislature is set forth by the Municipal Home Rule Law – “shall be apportioned providing for substantially equal weight in population of local government in the allocation of representatives….”

It is done using figures from the previous census. The last reapportionment was done in 2000.

“The latest census data that the county has received shows a change in population of 122,377 in the 2000 census to 122,109 in the 2010 census,” according to Richard Mitchell, county attorney.

The numbers, however, can change, said Dave Turner, director of the county’s Community Development, Tourism and Planning Department. He suggested the committee set a specific date for its planning purposes and use whatever the number is at that time as their final figure.

“You should be mindful not to create unnecessary election districts,” Mitchell warned the committee, adding each election district would have an associated cost to it.

Election commissioner Don Wart noted that if, by redistricting, the legislature eliminated an election district, it would mean a savings of $9,000 a year or $90,000 over the 10 years until the redistricting issue came up again.

“Any place we can make those significant changes in the way those lines are drawn could save the county a lot of money by reducing the number of districts that we have,” he said.

Five of the county’s 25 districts have exceeded the population average by more than 5 percent, according to Turner.

Those districts are in Mexico, Palermo, Central Square, Phoenix and Oswego Town, he added.

Districts below the population average by more than 5 percent include a district in Mexico, Scriba, a district in the city of Oswego, Hannibal, and two districts in the city of Fulton.

The trouble is, not all of these districts border each other, he pointed out.

“It’s not as easy as just moving a line,” he said. “It’s not as easy as saying, ‘We’ll, move this line over here a little bit and that will fix that, and move this line over here and that will fix that.’”

“There really has to be some major changes to the whole ship in order to make all of them balance out the way the population is currently distributed,” he told the committee.

Could an entire district just be taken out, asked Barry Leemann, chair of the legislature. Absolutely, Turner replied.

“We could probably balance things by taking out an entire district,” he said

The county’s population really hasn’t changed to a great degree, Chalifoux pointed out. The only that has changed is some of the populations within some of the districts, he said, adding, “I think that can be worked out. It’s not going to be easy, but we have to take a look at it and see what we can do.”

“We’ll meet again, probably in about three weeks, so we have time to put something together in writing to present to the chairman,” Chalifoux said. “We’re going to take a hard look at everything. I have no predetermined idea on what we are going to do yet.”

County Solicits State, Federal Help In Curbing Flow Of Shaman

OSWEGO, NY – Members of the county’s Health and Human Services Committee heard an update regarding the local sale and abuse of synthetic “designer” drugs, artificial cannabinoids and other currently legal products, including Happy Shaman.

On Wednesday, representatives from Farnham Family Services and Oswego Hospital gave presentations on the drugs and their affects on the users.

The meeting and discussion tied in well with National Substance Abuse Recovery Month, according to Phil Church, county administrator.

“The Health Committee started dealing with this a couple of months ago with the issue of ‘bath salts’ that weren’t really bath salts,” he noted.

The committee unanimously passed a resolution asking the state and federal government to ban or better regulate the sale of the substances in question.

According to the resolution: “Hospitals, health agencies and poison control centers are experiencing increased emergency room cases, illnesses, deaths and reports linked to the use and abuse of these substances by children and adults.

“Law enforcement agencies and courts are seeing increased crime in our local communities associated with the sale and abuse of these substances.

“Manufacturers and retailers of these substances often directly market them to children and teenagers through the Internet and by colorful, youthful packaging designs that include no warnings or adequate description of the ingredients and are deceptively sold as incense or aroma products.”

The resolution concludes by urging the NYS Legislature and governor to immediately pass meaningful and effective legislation criminalizing the manufacture, sale and possession of these substances and their future derivatives or successors by anyone in New York State.

It also urges federal drug enforcement, health, justice and commerce agencies and elected officials to recognize the urgency of this matter and adopt effective regulations or bans on the manufacture, sale and possession of these substances and their future derivatives or successors by anyone in New York State.

“These things go by several names on the street,” Church said, adding that they pose a public health threat.

The state has attempted before to ban the manufacture, sale and possession of these products but has never followed through.

“This resolution simply urges the state and federal government to come together on this,” Church said.

In many cases, the administrator pointed out, users are substituting these legal drugs for their illegal drugs.

Some products, such as Happy Shaman, are being sold legally as herbal blend incense. However, it is being used by people to gain effects similar to marijuana, hashish and other forms of cannabis,” according to Jeanne M. Unger, executive director of Farnham.

It is also hard to detect in typical urine screens.

Karen Hoffman, prevention director at Farnham Family Services, shared an experience she had with a local teen-ager.

He told her he had tried Happy Shaman, adding, “How can there be anything wrong with it if it’s legal?”

Another teen told her he tried it once.

“I was so freaked, so anxious that I couldn’t wait to come down,” she recalled him saying to her.

“What we’re looking at is kids experimenting with stuff that is available to them. My concern is, if it’s available to them, what do adults know about this? I would give a very good guess that 50 percent of the adults in our county – if you said the words Happy Shaman would have no clue what it is. We need to educate our public,” she continued.

If parents are educated about these products, then, when they walk into a room and see a package marked “incense … not for human consumption,” they will know what it is, she said. “Then, they can say to their child, ‘Why did you buy this?’”

A big problem, according to Farnham officials, is that people are using these products and are basically driving and working “under the influence.”

Drug tests cost about $266 and take about two weeks to come back from the lab.

When faced with a possible ban, manufacturers reportedly have just change the formula slightly to get around the law and the product remains legal.

“But, it still has the same effect,” Unger noted.

Health officials pointed out it isn’t fair to compare these products to alcohol. Alcohol is what it is, they said, whereas these products are being marketed as one thing but used as something else.

“Alcohol is labeled as alcohol and it is regulated,” Church said. “Whereas, these other substances, sold as incense or stimulants, were mislabeled as bath salts. So a vast difference exists. Alcohol is identified as what it is. And, people know what it is. These substances are sold under labels that don’t clearly say what they are, ingredients aren’t clear, completely unregulated.”

Sales of alcohol are restricted to people of a certain age, committee chair Jack Proud pointed out.

“These drugs are intended toward youth; there is no regulation on this. It is necessary for us to begin to establish regulation,” he said.

Thanks in part to these types of products, business is booming at Farnham, Unger said. That isn’t really a good thing, she pointed out.

The director of the emergency department at Oswego Hospital told how employees there have been “punched, bitten and thrown” by patients brought in under the influence of these products.

One problem state and federal lawmakers are facing is how do you craft legislation that covers something that keeps changing, Church said.

One local businesswoman who sells Happy Shaman said she had a petition signed by “many signatures of adults, over 18, who want to continue to purchase the Shaman.” She left the committee meeting without presenting the petition, however.

It’s something you need an ID for; it’s only sold to 18 and over, she added.

The county’s public information department will work with the health department on a series of informational press releases on the subject in the near future.

“We need to look at our priorities,” Proud said. “We need to control the problem, before the problem controls us. Hopefully we can move forward with something positive to combat this type of situation.”

Established in 1971, Farnham Family Services offers prevention services, school-based Student Assistance and treatment services to all residents of Oswego and surrounding counties.

All services are licensed by the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. Farnham’s professionally certified staff is comprised of competent and skillful individuals who are continually updated with training through conferences and workshops.

Anyone interested in learning more about Farnham can call 342-4489 or visit www.farnhaminc.org

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Car Over Embankment Near Lake Ontario

Two people escaped injury today as their car went over an embankment and landed precariously on the shore of Lake Ontario, according to the Oswego Fire Department. The accident occurred just before 3 p.m. today (Nov. 20) at Fourth Avenue, near SUNY Oswego, in a parking lot adjacent to “Flatrock.”

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Bryce Wardhaugh

Bryce Wardhaugh was born in Oswego Hospital on Nov. 14, 2014.

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Isaiah Joseph Schroeder

Isaiah Joseph Schroeder was born in Oswego Hospital on Nov. 12, 2014.

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Cedric Baker

Cedric Baker was born in Oswego Hospital on Nov. 10, 2014.

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Thanks from the Oswego Public Library

Thanksgiving is the time of the year the Oswego Public Library reflects on the generosity of those in our community who have helped us provide services to our patrons. This year, the Children’s Room is thankful for receiving a substantial grant from the Oswego County Youth Bureau to help with the costs of the Summer Reading Program.

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