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National Grid Transmission Line Project Under Way

Provided by Oswego Police Department
OSWEGO, NY – Starting today (May 20), National Grid and their contractors will be undertaking an extensive maintenance project on their transmission lines.

National Grid will be using helicopters, contractor line crews and associated heavy equipment during the length of this project.

The project will start at the substation on Liberty Street in the city of Oswego and will work its way east to Altmar.

We are notifying our residents of the use of helicopters, which will be flying overhead over the next few days and there may be some minimal traffic delays at various times during this project.

Bishop’s Commons Joins Community Read Project

OSWEGO, NY – A group of avid readers at Bishop’s Commons have joined together to participate in the community wide experience by reading the NY Times best seller  “Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson.

In front is resident Evelyn Copps. In back are volunteer Julie Smith and resident Glenn Clark.

In front is resident Evelyn Copps. In back are volunteer Julie Smith and resident Glenn Clark.

Under the direction of Book Club volunteer Julie Smith, the group meets each Monday to read the book that tells the story on one man’s mission to promote peace, one school at a time.

“Our residents are excited to be part of the community read initiative,” noted senior living coordinator Julie Chetney. “They have embraced the book and look forward to sharing it with our young neighbors at Riley School this fall.”

Intergenerational activities to read the children’s version of Mortenson’s story entitled “Listen to the Wind” with an elementary class from Riley School are being made for September.

The Bishop’s Commons Book Club has been meeting for more than three years each Monday afternoon to share stories and books.

“The community read has since created even more interest among residents to embrace literacy and participate in discussion regarding the issues in the book,” Chetney added.

OCO’s YES! Program To Expand Host Home Project

OSWEGO, NY – For more than 15 years Oswego County Opportunities’ Youth Emergency Services Program (YES!) has been providing support and encouragement to runaway and homeless youth in Oswego County.

As the recipient of a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, OCO’s YES! Program is able to help even more youth in crisis.

Prevention & Early Intervention Program Manager, Kathleen Knopp is excited about the possibilities the grant provides.

“We are happy to be one of only 19 recipients of this grant in the country,” said Knopp. “The Rural Host Home Project Demonstration Grant is allowing us to add to our staff and recruit additional Rural Host Homes in Oswego County.”

Knopp explained that Rural Host Homes provide an invaluable service as they offer runaway and homeless youth in crisis with temporary shelter until a more permanent housing arrangement can be established.

Currently, YES! has access to four Rural Host Homes and is looking to add four more in the near future.

“We are currently accepting applications from Oswego County families who would like to volunteer to become a host home. All they need is the availability of an extra bed, a private space for a youth, and a big heart,” Knopp said.

Enhancement Services Coordinator, Kristin LaBarge added that a thorough interview and screening process insures a successful match between the youth and the host family.

“Our host families have appropriate expectations of the youth coming into their home. We make sure that the youth understands what those expectations are and are willing to abide by them. We also provide orientations and monthly training for the host families to help them understand what youth development is and what our philosophy is towards helping youth. It is important that host families offer a welcoming and non-judgmental atmosphere. These young people often are coming from a negative family situation and are not use to functioning in a family environment without conflict. To step into another family, even for a short time, comes with another set of anxieties. Host families need to be welcoming and recognize these factors.  What the host family may consider to be ‘normal’ family activities, such as having meals together, doing dishes, doing laundry may never have been experienced by the youth they are hosting. A welcoming, supporting environment can help ease these anxieties,” she said.

Host homes provide shelter for up to 15 days, with the average length of stay being 1 to 3 days.

While the youth is there, staff from OCO’s YES! Program visit the host family daily and provide transportation for the youth to an OCO office where they can work with the youth during the day to help them stay connected with their school and establish a stable, more permanent living environment for them as soon as possible.

“We want to maintain a professional boundary between the host home and the youth. We don’t want young people to get so connected that when they leave the host home there is another loss for them to cope with,” added Knopp.

“Our goal is not to encourage youth to leave their family, but to reunite with them if at all possible. We focus on helping them work through the conflict and reunification with their family. If that is not possible, we help them recognize other support such as friends or extended family members,” added LaBarge.

With the expansion of the program OCO’s YES! Program is looking to add four new Rural Host Homes in Oswego County to help meet the demand for its services.

“Because it is not easily noticeable, many people do not realize that there is a problem with homeless youth in our community, however we receive approximately 250 to 300 calls a year from homeless youth. The Rural Host Home Project benefits our community in many ways. For youth in crisis, knowing that for this moment they have someone they can trust and a safe place to stay while they focus on their other needs is very comforting. For our volunteer host home providers it is a very rewarding experience as they enjoy the satisfaction of helping a young person in a time of crisis. They recognize the value of young people and are offering their support out of the goodness of their heart,” said Knopp.

For more information on becoming a Rural Host Home or the OCO’s YES! Program, call Knopp at 342-7532.

OCO is a private, non-profit agency that has been supporting communities throughout Oswego County since 1966 and touches the lives of more than 20,000 people annually.

OCO is a United Way of Greater Oswego County member agency.

For more information, visit www.oco.org

Wilber Field Project Under Way

Wilber Field Project Under Way

Wilber Field Project Under Way

OSWEGO, NY – Oswego High School student-athletes and marching band members will have new footing when they step on to Joe Wilber Field in September.

The Board of Education recently approved the resodding of the field.

John Dunsmoor of John Dunsmoor Farms (and a member of the Board of Education), in conjunction with the Buccaneer Booster Club, has volunteered to prep the field and has commenced tilling and grading the Oswego facility.

It is expected Sky High Turf Farms will be placing the sod on the field during the week of July 20.

Revote On Capital Project Comes With Board Guarantee: No Local Expense

Submitted by the Hannibal Central School District

HANNIBAL, NY – The Hannibal Board of Education has announced its decision to put the district’s proposed capital project up for a second vote.

The $26.9 million capital project was defeated at the polls by 31 votes this month. At the close of polls, the project was defeated 455-424. Without support from the public, the district was unable to use $1,298,070 in Expanding our Children’s Education and Learning (EXCEL) Aid that was awarded during the 2006-07 state funding cycle.

The board met Monday evening to discuss the project and its options. Ultimately, the members decided that the project should be put up for a vote identical to the way it was proposed earlier this month with one substantial difference.

“Board member Fred Patane offered a resolution that guarantees the project will come with no local share,” Superintendent Michael DiFabio said. “The resolution was accepted and the board voted to put the project up as is for a second public referendum.”

The vote will be held from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Jan. 21, 2009.

Board president Donna Blake said that the resolution was offered as a way to clear up any confusion and satisfy uncertainty the public may have about state funding for the project.

“When the project was defeated the first time, the public sent a clear message that it was not comfortable with the potential that state aid could fall through and that the cost of this project could fall in our laps,” Blake said. “No matter how many times we said that the project was coming at no cost to local taxpayers, there was still uncertainty.

“By passing this resolution, we are hopeful that the public concern will be put to rest,” Blake added. “We are saying that no matter what happens with the state budget, our taxpayers will not fund any part of this project with local money.”

The resolution requires the district to redesign its efforts in the event that state aid for the project was affected, according to Hannibal Business Administrator Nancy Henner.

“This resolution means that there will be no local effort, period,” Henner said. “If the funding stream changed, the project will be modified to make sure that taxpayers do not have to pick up any expense.”

If the funding stream stays as predicted, the district will reap the benefits of $26.9 million in state money, DiFabio said.

“Our district has limited revenue sources that we can use for capital projects,” DiFabio explained. “It boils down to state aid or local taxes.

“Our project was built to tap EXCEL aid and our 98 percent state reimbursement rate on capital projects,” DiFabio said. “Because EXCEL aid requires the support of the community, we can’t use that funding stream without consent of the voters. With the public’s support, we will be able to deliver on a multi-million dollar project that is funded entirely through state support.”

The capital project was developed as a facilities improvement plan to address a list of priorities primarily regarding the health and safety of the students and staff, disability-access expansions, energy-saving renovations, and security upgrades in all three school buildings.

“The items in the project are based almost entirely on district needs,” DiFabio said. “If we don’t tap this one-time funding source, we will still have to tackle most of these items. The difference is that we would have to rely on our taxpayers to pay for them.”

Patane abstained from the decision to put the project up for a second vote. Board member Matthew Henderson voted against the decision.

Any questions about the project can be directed to DiFabio or Henner at 564-7900. Information about the project is also available on the district Web site at www.hannibalcsd.org.

Voters Reject BOCES Project

Staff report

MEXICO, NY – The Oswego County BOCES referendum was defeated Wednesday, almost two to one by voters in the BOCES district.

According to the BOCES Web site, 2,810 voters said “no” to the project over 1,543 voters who supported the plan.

“On behalf Oswego County BOCES District Superintendent Dr. Joseph Camerino and the Board of Education, we would like to express our thanks to the voters who turned out for the Building Project referendum on Nov. 12,” a message on the Web site reads.

“We understand that the uncertain economic climate makes it difficult for some component school districts and BOCES’ district residents to support such a financial undertaking at this time,” the message continues. “With four years of planning behind yesterday’s vote, we now must regroup and consider what options are viable, as the need for renovation still exists.”

Hannibal Board of Education Rejects Funding Plan For BOCES Capital Project

Submitted by Hannibal Central School District

HANNIBAL, NY – The Hannibal Board of Education has announced its inability to support Oswego County BOCES’ proposed $48.4 million capital project.

Residents in the BOCES region will vote on the proposed plan Nov. 12 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. at 13 polling places around the county.

During its recent meeting, the Hannibal board unanimously agreed that it cannot support the plan as proposed.

“Hannibal supports the need for a new BOCES facility and supports BOCES, but at this time, we can’t support the funding mechanism that will be used for this project,” Hannibal Board of Education president Donna Blake said.

Blake explained that the project is slated to be funded through the Dormitory Authority and will appear as an expense line in the administrative budget line in school districts around the county.

“If the district was forced to go to a contingency budget, we would be unable to afford our administrative budget if this project is approved,” Blake said. “To approve a plan that threatens our ability to sustain our administrative budget is not fiscally responsible.”

In public meetings held around the county, BOCES Superintendent Joseph Camerino has explained that the project focuses on improvements and renovations to enhance safety, security and technology at the BOCES campus. It comes in with a $48,431,799 price tag.

The local share of the project is set to be divided among the nine county school districts that are included in the Oswego County BOCES region. Camerino has explained that BOCES will continue to investigate options to bring the local share down.

“Our board is aware that BOCES is working with state legislators in an effort to pass legislation that would relieve the funding burden for our districts,” Blake said. “But that legislation is not going to be in place before the vote. It would not be responsible of us to take it on faith that it will happen.”

Blake stressed that the board is not debating the need for upgrades at BOCES and noted that many of Hannibal Central School District’s students utilize BOCES programming.

“We totally support the BOCES concept,” she said. “But we cannot support the funding mechanism for this project.”

Project Request Will Be On Ballot In Hannibal

Submitted by Hannibal Central School District

HANNIBAL, NY – As voters head to the polls Tuesday to cast a vote in the Presidential Election, the Hannibal Central School District will ask for voter support for the District’s $26.9 million proposed facilities improvement plan.

The plan was developed by combining a 98 percent state reimbursement on capital projects with the district’s Expanding our Children’s Education and Learning (EXCEL) Aid to make up the district’s local share.

According to Business Administrator Nancy Henner, support from the voters will allow Hannibal Central to deliver the project with no local cost to district taxpayers.

“Our EXCEL Aid has given us the opportunity to put together a project that will address many of the district’s needs without burdening our taxpayers for the expense,” Henner said.

“Many of the items built into the project focus on health and safety, infrastructure and facility upgrades, technology, energy efficiency and accessibility at all of our buildings,” Henner noted. “They are items that will need to be addressed. The difference is that without this one-time aid source, we would have to ask the taxpayers to pay for them.”

Superintendent Michael DiFabio pointed out that the EXCEL Aid was awarded by the state as money that residents across New York have already paid through state taxes.

“State taxpayers have already paid this money out,” DiFabio noted. “If it didn’t come to Hannibal, it would have been allocated somewhere else.

“Because of the way that this project was crafted, Hannibal students and taxpayers may benefit from our EXCEL Aid allocation even more than others,” he added. “We have been able to maximize the money we received through a pro-active planning strategy.”

Hannibal was awarded $1,298,070 under the state’s EXCEL initiative.

“If we were to use that money by itself, we could address a few items from the capital project list,” DiFabio said. “But the bulk of the project would remain on our ‘to-do’ list. Because so many of the items are need-driven, we would have to find another way to fund a lot of work without this opportunity.”

Under the guidelines for EXCEL spending, at least 75 percent of the allocations to school districts must be committed to projects that fall within five categories, which include education technology, health and safety, accessibility, energy and instructional capacity expansions. Twenty-five percent of the money can be spent on items outside of the five categories to meet additional student needs.

DiFabio pointed out that the bulk of the project has been put together to fit within the five spending areas.

Business administrator Nancy Henner noted that this is the first time the district has been able to use state aid to displace the local costs of a capital project.

With voter approval, the project will be sent first to the State Education Department for approval. Construction would begin in the summer of 2010 and would take approximately a year.

The vote will be held from noon to 9 p.m., in the Board of Education Room at the Hannibal High School.

Any questions about the project can be directed to DiFabio or Henner at 564-7900. Information about the vote and elements of the project are also available on the district Web site at www.hannibalcsd.org.

Oswego School Board Updated On BOCES Proposal

OSWEGO, NY – The Oswego board of education heard a presentation Tuesday on the BOCES capital project.

Dr. Joseph Camerino, district superintendent, offered an overview of the upcoming vote on the BOCES capital project proposal.

Dr. Joseph Camerino, BOCES district superintendent, updates the Oswego school board on the upcoming vote on the BOCES capital project proposal.

Dr. Joseph Camerino, BOCES district superintendent, updates the Oswego school board on the upcoming vote on the BOCES capital project proposal.

When he got to BOCES, he spent the first six months doing tours of all the buildings, he told the board.

“A capital construction project is more than mortar and bricks,” he explained. “It’s an opportunity for the community to look at the programs and curriculum and say, ‘where do we need to go with this for the next 20 years.'”

BOCES serves nearly 23,000 school-age students in Oswego County. It’s main campus is located in Mexico.

The proposed project includes renovation of approximately 196,000 existing square feet as well as adding approximately 70,000 square feet of new space, he explained.

The new space essentially replaces several buildings that are no longer suitable for use, he said pointing to images of several buildings on the BOCES campus that are no longer in use.

The main campus has a total of 24 buildings, 19 are wood structures and five are masonry/steel structures.

Five buildings are currently closed for occupancy and an additional 10 buildings have less than five years of useful life left, he continued.

The average building age is 28 years. The main building was built in 1969.

The technology department is currently housed in an old horse barn on the campus.

All work, where possible and practical, will include energy efficient measures and standards of New York State and federal energy programs.

Right now, three or four BOCES students are hospitalized but able to keep up with their course work through “distance learning,” Dr. Camerino noted.

It’s one of several programs that BOCES offers that many people aren’t familiar with, he said.

Among the additions created by the project would be 18 General Purpose Classrooms (Special Education).

A Multi-Purpose Room for student presentations, meetings, large groups, and community access.

A focused main entry area (‘Storefront’ to the community where students could put their talents on display).

And, a new CTE Heavy Equipment classroom. The HERO classroom would be relocated to main campus in order to avoid students having to walking across County Route 64.

The main building will be reconfigured to accommodate Multi-Occ and CTE programs.

The cafeteria would also be reconstructed.

Also planned in the project is improvement of vehicle and pedestrian traffic patterns to increase safety, including separate entry and exit points to reduce traffic congestion.

The net decrease of paved areas would result in less snow plowing, the superintendent added.

The vote on the proposed project is set for Nov. 12.

If approved by the voters, Dr. Camerino said he estimates State Education Department approval by January 2010.

Actual construction would get under way around June 2010.

The target date to have the project completed is December 2012.

The estimated cost for renovation and new construction is $48,431,799.

According to the superintendent, existing BOCES capital funds, totaling $1.7 million, will be used to offset the project’s costs.

“We’re estimating, very conservatively, that 90 percent of project cost will be eligible for New York State aid,” he added. “Most projects claim 95. We want to be conservative here so in case there are any issues, we are covered.”

He estimated that the project would increase the average homeowner’s taxes by anywhere from $2.34 to $34.69 per year.

More specific figures, per school district, were listed in a brochure that was mailed to residents living in the Oswego County BOCES district.

Voting will be held from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. at established polling places in school districts throughout the county.

Individuals residing anywhere within the Oswego County BOCES region for at least 30 days prior to the vote and who are US Citizens at least 18 years of age are eligible to vote.

For more information, contact Dr. Camerino at 963-4222.

Reminder: Hannibal Hosts Capital Project Informational Session Tonight

HANNIBAL, NY – The Hannibal Central School District has issued a reminder that it will host an informational session this evening to discuss the district’s proposed $26.9 million capital project.

The local share of the project is being funded entirely through the district’s $1,298,070 in Expanding our Children’s Education and Learning (EXCEL) aid that was received during the 2006-07 state funding cycle.

The session is open to the public and will begin at 7 p.m. at the Fairley Elementary School Cafeteria.

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