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Seaway Development Corporation, Port Fight DEC Proposal

OSWEGO, NY – Last month, the Great Lakes maritime industry released the results of a year-long study of the economic impacts of the entire Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway navigation system. Earlier today (Nov. 2), they highlighted the figures regarding the Port of Oswego.

However, looming new ballast water regulations, if implemented by the state, could devastate the port and erase the good economic picture, according to Jonathan Daniels, executive director of the Port of Oswego.

The study was commissioned by members of the marine shipping industry, in partnership with U.S. and Canadian government agencies, Daniels told the small crowd of state and local officials gathered at the port.

The port and St. Lawrence Seaway officials hope the economic impact benefits contained in the report helps to sway a state government plan that could drastically cripple, if not close, the port.

“This study is the first-ever analysis of the economic impacts of the entire system, to both the US and Canada, at the same time, using the same methodology,” Daniels explained.

System wide, the study found that maritime commerce supported 227,000 jobs; contributed $14.1 billion in annual personal income, $35.5 billion in business revenue and contributes a total of $4.6 billion to federal, state/provincial, and local tax revenues, Daniels noted.

Shipping is a key driver to the US economy, creating 129,000 jobs and $18.1 billion in economic activity throughout the eight Great Lakes states; wage and salary income amounts to nearly $10 billion he said, adding that $3 billion is poured back into the local economies.

In this area, the port has an impact of about $6 million to $7 million the director pointed out.

Nearly five years ago, when he first came to town, he said he was stopped on the street one day by a person who said, “Oh, you’re going to be running that little port at the end of the street.”

“I kind of chuckled at that and said, ‘Yes, we are going to do our best to have an impact in the community,’” he replied. “So this is not bad for a ‘little port at the end of the street.’ Directly and indirectly, we support in essence more than 500 jobs. Business revenue at the port is over $38 million.”

Current ballast water regulations require all commercial vessels operating in New York’s waters, traversing through New York, that by Aug. 1, 2013, they need to be able to clean their water and treat the water to a standard that is 100 times the current International Maritime Organization standards.

Additionally, vessels constructed after Jan. 1, 2013, must have equipment that meets a standard 1,000 times higher than international standards.

“That’s a little bit of a problem. No technology exists to treat the 100 times, the 1,000 times, or anything above the current IMO standard,” he added.

It could mean the loss of 500 jobs supported directly by the port; local business revenue of $38 million will be lost; system wide there will be a loss of $10.5 billion in business revenue, he continued.

“Can we, as a community, afford to lose the $10.5 million in state and federal taxes that are currently moving through because of shipping and maritime activities?” he said. “These regulations will not only harm the maritime shipping industry but also steel producers, the farmers, construction companies, the power generation plants and the US consumers who depend on the 47 million metric tons of cargo handled through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence system.”

A new company notified the port this morning it will be coming through the St. Lawrence Seaway and depositing cargo in Oswego starting early in 2012, said.

“Ironically, the regulation that are being put in place to help control pollution in our waterways actually will add more pollution,” according to Daniels.

For example, he said, a seaway sized laker carrying 25,000 tons can carry the same amount of cargo as 225 rail cars or more than 850 trucks.

Marine shipping saves companies approximately $3.6 billion per year in transportation costs compared to the next least-costly land-based alternative, that being rail.

The industry and the port aren’t crying wolf or saying the sky is falling, Daniels said.

“These are hard facts. These are facts that are backed up by peer review … and are true and accurate,” he said. “The maritime industry faces a patchwork of incoming regulations and standards from nation to nation and state to state in a number of different areas including ballast water and air emissions. The industry’s goal is for practical bi-national regulations that will allow the industry to invest in new technology to protect the environment with the certainty that these regulations won’t arbitrarily change.”

There has been some talk recently that the state DEC might be amending its rules. But nothing has been finalized, Daniels said.

“The shipping industry is in turmoil as they attempt to set schedules for years to come with inbound cargo,” he added. “Given the dire circumstances of these regulations, we hope some positive news will be forthcoming to the Port of Oswego. Because, if not, on Aug. 1, 2013, the Port of Oswego would be forced to cease all international shipping operations.”

And, many other ports throughout the region would also suffer a negative impact, he said.

“The port of Oswego is not the largest port in the system. But, it is very important,” said Collister Johnson Jr., administrator of the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. “In some ways, it kind of sets the tone for how the rest of the system is going to operate, how it’s going to succeed.”

The work the port has done “is quite extraordinary. That, in large part, is due to the skill and talent of your executive director,” he said.

The report is very accurate, he said, adding that it isn’t “hidden;” Links to the Executive Summary and the full report can be found on the Home Page of the Marine Delivers website: www.marinedelivers.com

“That certainly speaks to the accuracy of these numbers,” he said.

If the system ceases to exist, the jobs Daniels talked about would go away, Johnson said, adding, “They wouldn’t shift someplace else. They’d simply disappear. And, that’s a big number in an economy where jobs are scarce to contemplate not having in the region.”

Another thing the report did was measure “what if” the Seaway closed, Johnson said, adding “that is a direct threat facing us from the DEC.”

The report said 72,000 jobs would disappear from Canada and the US, $3.8 billion in annual personal income would also disappear along with $10.5 billion in annual business revenues and $1.4 billion in taxes, he noted.

“Another thing that is puzzling about this process is the DEC’s cavalier approach to Canada,” he said. “Canada is our largest trading partner. There is more trade between the US and Canada … than we undertake in a year with the country of Japan. We are joined at the hip, and the notion that through a set of regulations of one state that would impose on a bi-national system, would thereby prevent Canada from having its ships going to its ports.”

What should be done to protect the environment is get reasonable, workable standards, installed on ships as quickly as you can and then improve from there, Johnson said.

“Just simply snatching out of the air an unsustainable standard and one that the technology doesn’t support and simply keep hammering away at it doesn’t really protect the environment,” he said.

Since the Seaway Corporation and Canada put their own rules in place in 2006, there have been no new discoveries of aquatic nuisance species entering the Great Lakes via ballast water, he added.

By the end of this month, the federal EPA will come out with its standard for ballast water treatment and the Coast Guard will follow shortly after, he said. That will be a national standard.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is also looking closely at this issue, Johnson said, adding that the governor “understands the balance that needs to be taken between environmental protection and job creation.”

The DEC will take another look at its requirements following the release of the EPA’s plan, according to Johnson.

Legislator Jack Proud pointed out that New York jumped way out in advance of the other states that border the lakes and are also impacted.

“Wouldn’t it be better for New York State to work collectively and cooperate with other states and with Canada to develop a stringent standard; something that represents more than just an isolationist point of view?” he asked.

There is a collaborative that gets together every few months that is comprised of many stakeholders, Johnson said.

Hopefully, New York will join in and amend its proposal, he said.

“There are states out there that have recognized they can’t meet the standard. New York State is not one of those, yet,” Daniels said. “And, certainly we hope that they follow suit with the EPA and Coast Guard guidelines. To have the same standards on an international basis, certainly makes sense.”

County To Further Scrutinize Options For Health Care Programs

OSWEGO, NY – A resolution to initiate a request for proposals to explore alternatives for home health care in the county was sent back to the committee level at this month’s legislature meeting.

Legislators have several questions about how this will impact the county’s employees and budget.

Prior to the start of the regular meeting, Janet Clerkin, president of the Oswego County Professional Association. It’s the labor union that represents many of the middle management, supervisory staff and several departments of county government.

“We recognize and respect that the county is being forced to adapt to many economic and legislative conditions and factors that you have no control over,” she told the legislators.

New York State is no longer providing state aid reimbursements to counties for their Certified Home Health Agency (CHHA) and Long Term Care (LTC) programs, explained Phil Church, county administrator.

Last May, the Health Committee examined there options relating to the matter, discussing the advantaged and disadvantages of all of them.

The committee recognized that the phase out over two years of the state’s funding meant that the full negative impact that would have to be mitigated would not be known until the 2012 budget is developed.

The committee directed the Health Department to pursue “Option 1,” to refine its reform and efficiency plan and report back to the committee. They would continue the programs, giving the department the opportunity to make adjustments in personnel assignments, service delivery and claiming practices to minimize the net county cost.

The committee also directed the administration to examine budgetary and cost report data and prepare a draft RFP (request for proposals) to sell Oswego County’s certification to a licensed home care provider. That is a state-monitored process that can take about two years to complete. And, it requires final state approval.

These steps have been completed, the administrator pointed out.

If the county decides to sell its certificate, 18 employees would be laid off, including nurses and support staff.

However, the RFP would require they buyer to offer employment to all former county CHHA and LTC staff, so no one would become unemployed, except by choice.

The former employees would be removed from the NYS retirement system.

“Several of our members would be affected if these two programs were outsourced,” Clerkin said. “They supervise and oversee the health care of fragile and vulnerable patients in our county. Many of their functions cross over into other programs such as quality control, monitoring the Health Department emergency management function and working in public health emergencies and immunization clinics. If their jobs are eliminated, these vital programs would also be affected.”

When people fear they are going to lose their jobs, they start looking for other employment, she said, adding that when one staff person leaves, it jeopardizes the program’s ability to safely maintain patient care levels and that in turn jeopardizes the revenue that the program is able to generate.

They are also concerned about the impact on residents in the rural areas of the county who don’t have access to private sector nursing services.

She asked the legislature to give the Health Department more time to demonstrate the continued viability of the programs.

The staff members live in the county and have families here, she pointed out.

“They care for the residents of Oswego County and they spend their paychecks here in Oswego County,” she said.

Legislator Jake Mulcahey noted that the estimated amount of lost revenue had changed since the matter was discussed in committee.

“I’m just a little concerned that everything has changed,” he said.

The numbers are “continually” changing in regard to this issue, Legislator Shawn Doyle explained.

“The numbers are always changing. They’ll be different next week,” he said. “We could actually be able to see a profit. So I think it is entirely pertinent to pull this resolution until we do get a better look at the figures.”

The matter will likely be back on the committee agenda next month for further discussion.

District To Address Parents’ Concern Over Phys Ed Requirements

OSWEGO, NY – The president of the Oswego Board of Education said he’d work with some concerned parents to ensure their children get the required amount of physical education

Cathy Axtell, the parent of a sixth grader at Minetto Elementary, said her son told her there was only one gym teacher at his school.

“I have a great concern based on state requirements and that school in particular,” she told the board at Tuesday’s meeting. “Last year, we were cut many positions in the building, my child has a larger class size and it limits a lot of things. The next thing is now there is less gym time for them. We keep cutting and for some reason, unless I am totally missing it, there’s an awful lot from our school.”

She asked the board why it couldn’t find money from some reserves to pay for another phys ed teacher for the school.

The lack of staffing hinders the school from doing some of the things it has done in the past, she added.

“These are traditions that the kids look forward to since the time their big brothers and sisters were students in that school,” she said. “Tradition is very important to these children along with their physical education.”

She said she didn’t understand how the board could make cuts that go against state requirements. Kindergarten through third grade need physical activity every day of the week, fourth through sixth are required three days of gym, she pointed out.

“If they are getting it every third day, how are they getting three gym classes in (in a week)? Recess does not count,” she said.

Heidi Samson, president of the Minetto Home and School Association, also has two children in the school.

According to the current schedule at the school, students will have gym one day, every other week, she said.

The state mandates students have at least 120 minutes of physical education per week, she continued.

“Since gym periods at our school are 40 minutes long, this current schedule will only get each student 40 minuets of phys ed one week and 80 the next,” she said. “I understand that these are lean times and money needs to be wisely spent as there is precious little to go around. But, can you honestly justify this decision of eliminating our second phys ed teacher’s position?”

She asked the board and administration to consider the long-range implication the lack of a second phys ed teacher will have on the students.

“I fully understand your frustration. I have a child in Minetto, too,” said Board President John Dunsmoor. “But also understand the other side of it. When you go from 24 sections down to 16 in special areas, you do have to be creative in order to continue to offer the same level of education for all the other classes.”

He said he has contacted Dean Goewey, the building principal, about the matter.

“We all need to work together to come up with solutions and solve the problem,” he added. “I think there might be a better creative way of (doing things).This is only discussion; I hope that both of you that spoke tonight will maybe sign up and sit down with Dean and all of us and come up with a solution.”

Kingsford is the only elementary school in the district that currently meets the state mandate on phys ed, the board president said.

“State requirements say you need to have 20 minutes of physical education every day K through three,” he said.

He cited a couple other schools, with larger enrollments, that incorporate physical education in the classroom. Teachers there educate the students about the importance of physical education, healthy diets and other things, he noted.

“There are a lot of ways of solving what’s now become an issue that I believe is definitely better than just adding a phys ed teacher to Minetto,” he said.

Dunsmoor gave Axtell his number and asked her to call him at her convenience. He said he would set up a meeting with Goewey and accompany her there.

“How does one school meet the requirements and the others do not? There are a lot of questions that need to be answered and not just with Dean. I don’t see where this is the school’s choice,” she said.

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

State Testing Dates Force Change In Spring Break

OSWEGO, NY – This is an important message from Superintendent Bill Crist in regards to the scheduled April break which now must be changed thus possibly impacting plans of students, families, faculty and staff for the 2011-12 school year.

Dear Oswego City School District Community Members,

Late last week, I received notice from the New York State Education Department that the English Language Arts state testing in grades 3-8 would be occurring during what was scheduled as the 2012 spring recess of most Central New York school districts including our own.

The SED considered revising that testing schedule and on Aug. 26th, Dr. John King, the Commissioner of Education, released this information to state superintendents.

This action will create a conflict for families who have made vacation plans for the week of April 16 through 20, which were our original dates for Spring Recess.

I will be providing additional information to you regarding new dates for Spring Recess 2012 once those new dates have been determined.

Until then, please do not proceed with any vacation planning for the week of April 16 – 20 if you have a student in grades 3-8.

Again, I will update you once we have new dates for Spring Recess in April 2012.

Sincerely,
Bill Crist
Oswego City School District Superintendent of Schools

Second Half Rally Not Enough In State Lady Lacrosse Semifinal

OSWEGO, NY – An outstanding second half of play couldn’t make up for the halftime deficit as the Oswego High School girls’ lacrosse team finished the season losing to Brighton 15-9.

Taylor Giglio

Taylor Giglio

Oswego, playing at SUNY Cortland, saw its season come to an end in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class B Championship semifinal.

The Bucs trailed 9-1 at halftime. Oswego gained a 1-0 lead in the opening moments on a free possession by Lacey Brown, but Brighton used an aggressive style and pinpoint shots for the eight goal lead.

The second half saw the Bucs rally back, but they could not overcome the opposition.

Kaitlyn Armstrong had three goals, Sam McCarrick two goals and three assists, Mikayla Place two goals and an assist and Libby Sherman one goal.

Tayler Bowman and Hayley Lukaczuk each saw action between the pipes for the Bucs.

Welcome Home Lady Bucs

Welcome Home Lady Bucs

The disappointed Oswego team arrived home shortly after 2 p.m. on Friday and was shocked with what they saw.

As the bus moved down Hillside Avenue they suddenly realized that the entire Oswego High School student body, faculty and staff members were lined up along the entire length of Buccaneer Boulevard.

“Buc Pride’ was evident as cheers, noise from party favors and arms waving welcomed the Lady Bucs.

The moment was etched in their minds as tears began to flow.

Goalie Tayler Bowman prepares to stop attack

Goalie Tayler Bowman prepares to stop attack

One Buc said, ”This is the nicest thing that anyone has ever done for me. This is very, very special.”

The members of this year’s team included seniors Lacey Brown, Hayley Lukaczyk, and Sam McCarrick along with juniors Kaitlyn Armstrong, Tayler Bowman, Cassie Collins, Danielle Faivus, Taylor Giglio, Abby Haessig, Paige Hart, Christie Hoefer, Brittany Kearns, Becca Martin, Mikayla Place, Mackenzie Robinson, Kelsey Ross and Libby Sherman; sophomores Kelly Chetney, Andrea Folgerhait, Sarah Stobener, Alexa Healy and Allison McPherson and frosh Erica Atkins and Kerrigan Cummins.

Laura Burger was the head coach and she was assisted by Ted Beers and Brad Sherman.

The season might have ended earlier than the girls’ had hoped, but being in the Final Four for the first time in the history of the Buccaneer lacrosse program will provide inspiration and the goal of being there once again at the conclusion of the 2012 season.

Captains Hayley Lukaczyk and Brittany Kearns hold state semifinal plaque

Captains Hayley Lukaczyk and Brittany Kearns hold state semifinal plaque

CNY Officials Keeping An Eye On Wisconsin

By Erin Kelly, Contributing Writer
OSWEGO, NY – The Wisconsin state government is trying to pass a bill which would eliminate unions’ rights to collective bargaining, a way in which employers and employees negotiate wages, benefits and safety conditions.

While this is putting pressure on other states, such as Ohio and Indiana, the impact it will have on CNY is uncertain for now.

What exactly is going on in Wisconsin?

Jeffrey Stonecash a Maxwell professor of Political Science at Syracuse University gave a brief summary of the recent events in Wisconsin.

He explained that the governor of Wisconsin announced in order to make up the $3.6 billion deficit unions would have to pay more on pension plans, pay more for health insurance and eliminate collective bargaining.

The unions agreed to the first two options but are opposed to eliminating collective bargaining.

The Republicans, who control most of the government in Wisconsin, at this point needed one Democrat to be present at the capital of Wisconsin to pass this law through.

The Democrats however disagreed with the Republicans and have decided to protest by walking out of the capital in support of the unions since February.

Just recently, according to The Journal Sentinel in Wisconsin, Judge Maryann Sumi issued a temporary restraining order to stop this bill from going through.

The Republicans will appeal the temporary restraining order as soon as possible.

Stonecash said this could also impact CNY. However, he added that although New York State in general is too liberal and controlled by Democrats, this could put more pressure to raise health care benefits.

Barry Leemann, chair of the Oswego County Legislature, agreed with this scenario.

“Yes, I don’t know how it will affect us, but contracts are coming up and unfortunately public employees will be affected just like it has affected the private sector.”

Leemann went on to say this couldn’t come at a worse time since most people in the public sector are having problems paying taxes and living expenses.

Oswego Winter Guard Captures Silver Medal At State Championships

OSWEGO, NY – The Oswego High School Winter Guard, performing its 2011 program “inDEPENDence,” took home the silver medal from the Mid-York Conference Championships on March 26 at Shenendehowa High School in Clifton Park.

Oswego Winter Guard

Oswego Winter Guard

Oswego placed second with a score of 84.9 in the highly competitive SRA division ahead of guards Albany 80.4, Mexico 78.5, Fonda-Fultonville 76.5, Johnstown 75.4, Liverpool 74.8, Susquehanna Valley 73.6, Sherburne-Earlville 72.1, and Cortland 71.8.

Cicero-North Syracuse won with a score of 87.1.

The winter guard was led on the floor by seniors Jessica Gilbert, Paige Gray, Jacqueline Hondro, Jenna Hotchkiss and Katherine Robinson.

Other members of the 2011 OHS winter guard include Myranda Arnesen, Gina Bartholomew, Kyrstin Blackburn, Rachael Chetney, Stephanie Cuszyck, Danielle Gilbert, Morgan Hanley, Carly Hewitt, Cassandra Hondro, Julie Knight, Cayla Knopp, Khadijah Malone, Elizabeth O’Gorman, Kylie Pelkey, Brittany Reed, Deanna Santiago and Elizabeth Westcott.

The 2011 staff included Michael Tierney, Shannon O’Mara, Ali Sivers and Ryan Bronner.

Potential Cuts Could Decimate Oswego County Opportunities’ Programs

FULTON, NY – In his State of the Union Address, President Obama announced that his administration has proposed cuts and changes to Community Action.

Community Action was birthed in the mid-1960s out of the Johnson Administration’s War on Poverty and 1,200 agencies like Oswego County Opportunities have been fighting that battle in their respective communities ever since.

The proposed cuts will devastate these anti-poverty agencies nationwide, which means that critical services for helping families achieve economic stability will be lost.

The Obama Administration has proposed a 50% cut in the Community Services Block Grant, the central source of funding for Community Action agencies.

The administration also plans on eliminating the state allocation formula and forcing competitive bids for all remaining funds.

All together these actions would mean eliminating CSBG and dismantling the national Community Action system.

Why is this a problem?

CSBG is the only federal funding focused on comprehensive services to fight poverty.

If it is eliminated, the 1,200 Community Action agencies across the country will be forced to slash programs, or even to shut their doors.

Oswego County Opportunities receives $200,000 in CSBG funds each year.

While this amount may seem small for an agency with an annual budget of $30 million, that money allows OCO to incubate programs that meet a local need but are not yet funded through government legislation.

Sometimes it takes government several years to address a need; CSBG dollars help us meet that need sooner.

We put CSBG funds to work providing supportive and comprehensive job training activities at a variety or work sites including Back Street Books, for example.

Last year, OCO helped 276 people find jobs; some of them were helped by this job training.

In this economy, any job found is a success story!

There will be many difficult budget decisions needing to be made at the state and federal level.

Detrimental budget decreases such as 50% reductions or eliminating funding altogether to social and economic development programs means we are balancing the budget on the backs of individuals who can least afford it.

We’re sharing this concern with the public because the people of our communities are the ones who stand to lose the most from these cuts.

It is essential that President Obama and the Congress hear from communities like ours, all across America.

We need to work together to let our national leaders know that Community Action is important to us.

You can call or email the President and your representatives in Congress.

Tell them how Community Action has made a difference in your life, in Oswego County – and encourage others to do the same.

To sign an online petition, please copy this link and type or paste it into the Internet browser window on your computer: http://www.petitiononline.com/4iA8vA4g/petition.html

You can also obtain more information from the “Community Action WORKS!” website at:

http://www.capworks.org/

To learn more about Oswego County Opportunities, visit our website: www.oco.org.

Sincerely,
John Babcock, OCO Board President

Report Cards Released For NYS Schools, Districts

OSWEGO, NY – On Thursday, the State Education Department released the 2009-10 School Report Cards for all schools and districts throughout New York.

In addition to school and district information, there is also a School Report Card for the entire state.

The Report Cards are available at http://www.p12.nysed.gov/irs/reportcard/

Much of the data contained in the School Report Cards has already been publicly released throughout the past year, but the Report Cards represent a single place for finding all of that information.

The report contains some good news for the Oswego district, according to Cathy Chamberlain, assistant superintendent for instruction and curriculum.

“We are happy to report some very positive trends upon reviewing the current release of the New York State District and School Report Card,” she said. “For the district we are celebrating that all of our schools are in good standing.”

The Oswego High School was removed from the list of schools that failed to make adequate yearly progress (the Schools in Need of Improvement list).

“Our district graduation rate is 70 percent (2005 cohort) which is up 4 percent from last year. Our graduation rate at OHS was 72 percent (2005 cohort) which is up 5 percent from the previous year,” Chamberlain noted. “We also have a 76 percent graduation rate for OHS after five years.”

“I am pleased to see the positive movement of our graduation rate. However, it is far from where we can rest,” said Superintendent Bill Crist. “The incremental steps to improving graduation and testing rates can only be realized through the collaborative efforts with the school Board, administration, faculty, staff, and, most importantly, students and parents.”

The district has also seen increases in many of its test scores and Chamberlain will be presenting that information at the next board of education meeting.

“A high school education is but the first step for our students to be success in this global 21st century society,” Crist added.

To find the previously released state data and press releases, visit http://www.oms.nysed.gov/press/

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Motivational speaker brings uplifting message to Granby students

Granby Elementary School students were anything but blue when singer-songwriter and motivational speaker Jared Campbell stopped by to present the Blue Project. The cafeteria was abuzz with excitement recently as he entertained students during two separate assemblies that focused on the importance of respect, friendship and kindness.

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Sandra Scott Travels: Schools Are Rather Similar World-Wide

There are many places where students go to school six days a week including the school I visited near Siem Reap, Cambodia. Interestingly, they only have classes five of the days. On Thursdays they clean the school and work in the garden where they grow food that is used for their lunch. When I entered the fourth grade classroom all the students stood up. After greeting them, I said that they could be seated. My guide said, “No, they must stay standing as a sign of respect to their guests.”

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Phoenix elementary students embrace positivity

Students at Michael A. Maroun Elementary School kicked off the school year with an assembly that promoted positive behavioral traits. The Show of Love, presented by Joe Trionfero, was an infusion of music with kindness as the overarching theme.

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Vernon C. Collett, Jr., 65

Vernon C. Collett Jr., 65, of Fulton, passed away Thursday September 18, 2014, at the Syracuse V.A. Medical Center.

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Tim Green Helps NFL Launch ‘Read20′ Program With NY Giants’ Rashad Jennings

The NY Giants and the NFL have advocated 60 minutes of activity a day for kids across America to promote physical fitness. Now, the team is adding education to that message.

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