2011 In Review – Heffner Tapped For Social Services Commissioner

OSWEGO, NY – Here’s a glimpse of the some of the news from the past 12 months.

In early October, the Oswego Country Legislature’s Finance and Personnel Committee recommended the hiring of Gregg Heffner as the new county commissioner of social services.

The full legislature approved his appointment at its meeting Oct. 13.

Heffner, of Phoenix, was serving as acting commissioner of social services since the retirement of long-time commissioner Frances Lanigan in June.

He previously was director of services for the department.

Great Pumpkins Abound In Port City

The pumpkins were GREAT. The weather, not so great. And yet, dozens of hardy souls braved the cold temperatures and heavy rain for the annual Great Pumpkin Festival’s weigh off.

The greatest great pumpkin was the last to hit the scales this year.

Alan Nesbitt’s entry totaled 1,268 pounds to slip past John Miller’s 1,217.5 pumpkin.

Nesbitt had a 1,229.5-pound winner in 2009, as well.

This pumpkin was his “official personal best,” he said, adding, “I had one back a few years ago that was 1,436 but it split.”

Mayoral Candidates Questioned

While they sat just a couple yards away from each other at the October debate, Dave White and Tom Gillen were miles apart on some of the issues facing the Port City.

The two candidates for mayor of Oswego; Gillen, a Democrat, and White, a Republican, squared off in Oswego High School’s Faust Theater.

Nearly 200 people were scattered around the auditorium as the candidates responded to a handful of previously submitted questions.

“This city is poised for greatness. And, I would like to be part of that,” Gillen said in his opening remarks. “We need to embrace the new technologies … grow with that and make Oswego what it was supposed to be.”

One of the biggest concerns people have expressed to him is the deterioration of the neighborhoods, White said.

“When people are concerned about their homes, which is the biggest single investment that they make, then we’ve got to do something to help them,” he said.

Army All-American Bowl Selection Taps OHS Pair

The 2012 U.S. Army All-American Marching Band Selection Tour visited Oswego High School Oct. 11.

During an 8:30 p.m. ceremony, immediately following practice for the Marching Buccaneers, they officially announced the selection of mellophone player Gina Bartholomew and drummer Jeffrey Murray to the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band.

The pair was honored before their band members, classmates, fans and family during the post-rehearsal presentation.

Army representatives were on hand to conduct the official Bowl Jacket Presentation.

The 2012 U.S. Army All-American Bowl will be televised live on NBC, from the Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas, on Jan. 7.

The All-American Marching Band performs at halftime of the nationally broadcast Army All-American Bowl.

Combating EEE

The deadly illness Eastern Equine Encephalitis took its ultimate toll on Aug. 14. Maggie Sue Glenister Wilcox, a five-year-old girl from New Haven died from the mosquito-borne disease.

In an effort to prevent this tragedy from being repeated, local and state officials gathered in the board room at the Oswego Education Center in October for a three-hour forum on finding better ways to combat EEE.

State Senator Patty Ritchie organized the event after this summer’s large-scale outbreak of the disease claimed the life of the New Haven child.

“I don’t want any other family to have to go through what Maggie Wilcox’s family has gone through,” Ritchie said today as she offered her condolences to members of Maggie’s family who were seated in the front row.

Donna Wilcox, Maggie’s aunt, said following the forum that the little girl would have relished the event.

“If you knew Maggie, this would just be an ordinary day for her. It’s just how she was. Everything with her was done in a very big fashion, a big production and she loved it. She would have loved this,” her aunt said.

The family wants to make sure the public is educated about EEE, so that no other family has to go through what they have.

“We need to know we’re doing everything possible so another ‘Maggie’ doesn’t happen. At this point, that’s our family’s goal; to make sure that the public is aware because so many of them are not aware of what is happening, and what has happened and what they can do to prevent it and keep their families safe,” Donna said.

The forum helped answer a lot of questions for the family, she added. She hopes the forum will encourage more people to pay attention.

“If my presence here helps get someone to spray their child (with insect repellant), to take heed and listen to what is going on and to protect one person, then it’s worth me coming here,” said Julie Wilcox, Maggie’s mother. “I don’t want my daughter to have died and nothing positive come out of it. So that’s why I am here. People … if they see my tears and it makes them do something, than that is worth it to me.”

Oswego Mayoral Candidates Focus On Arts, Culture

The two candidates for Oswego mayor squared off again in a debate Oct. 12.

This time, Republican Dave White and Democrat Tom Gillen met at The American Foundry to respond to previously submitted questions that focused on the candidates’ vision for supporting and working with the non-profit organizations that serve the Oswego community. In particular, questions dealt with cultural – heritage tourism, the arts as an economic development tool and community services provided by non-profit organizations.

The candidates were asked to explain their vision of Oswego’s community arts and cultural organizations.

“Without vision it is kind of tough to figure where the city is going to be. Without a vision, we don’t know where we’re going,” Gillen said.

He vowed to support Oswego’s heritage and tourism activities.

“It just seems to me that we are not including everyone. We have a closed society here,” White said. “My one criticism of these organizations is they tend to be a closed society. We have to make it so other people want to see what we’re doing.”

Importance Of Oswego Port Cited

On Oct. 18, 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.

The study was commissioned by members of the marine shipping industry, in partnership with U.S. and Canadian government agencies, according to Jonathan Daniels, executive director of the Port of Oswego.

The study found that maritime commerce supported 227,000 jobs; contributed $14.1 billion in annual personal income, $33.5 billion in business revenue, and $6.4 billion in local purchases; and added $4.6 billion to federal, state/provincial, and local tax revenues, Daniels noted.

The numbers, specific to Oswego and Central New York, were to be announced at a press conference early November.

Onondaga Street Returns To Oswego

An eastside Oswego street now has a new, old, name.

About two dozen people, including city officials and representatives of the Onondaga Nation gathered Oct. 25 for the official dedication ceremony of Onondaga Street.

Formerly Canal View Drive, this city street is located along the Oswego canal, just a block west of East First Street (Route 481) and it begins at the foot of East Cayuga Street and continues southerly behind the EconoLodge Hotel and the Oswego Education Center to East Oneida Street.

Mayor Randy Bateman recognized city resident Mike Goldych as the one who approached the city with the idea for the name change.

“He had done some research and discovered that originally East Bridge Street had been named Onondaga Street,” he said, adding that according to some old French maps, the Oswego River was called the Onondaga River.

“It’s fitting that we have Cayuga, Seneca, Mohawk and Oneida streets and now we have an Onondaga Street in the city of Oswego as well,” the mayor noted.

“Greetings to you all. We are honored to be here for this name change,” said Chief Jake Edwards of the Onondaga Nation.

He spoke about the great history of this area and how everyone should be educated about it.

“This is a great honor to be here with you guys for this dedication. I look forward to working more with you; re-educating our own people, too, on the whole history of this area. This is a wonderful area; we have to take care of it. It is up to us now,” he continued.