2011 In Review – Oswego Gets A New Mayor

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

Tom Gillen won the task of leading Oswego city government in 2012 with a strong victory Nov. 8 in the county’s most prominent contested election.

He beat Republican William “Dave” White by about a 65 – 35% margin, according to unofficial results from the county Board of Elections.

Gillen will take over for Randy Bateman, who chose not to run for reelection.

“That’s the way it goes,” a subdued White said. “I congratulated Mr. Gillen and I wished him well.”

“Mr. White called to congratulate me and I said, ‘I hope I can count on you going forward. If there are any ideas you might have, let me know.’ Now I am looking forward to getting going,” Gillen said.

In the Oswego council races:

Democrat Francis Enwright beat back Republican Brenda Rice to claim the First Ward council seat.

Republican Mike Myers was unopposed in the Second Ward

Republican Mike Todd defeated Democrat Michael T. Johnson for the Third Ward seat on the council.

Incumbent Shawn Walker (Republican) turned back Democrat challenger David Sugar in the Fourth Ward.

Republican Daniel Donovan was unopposed in the Fifth Ward.

Democrat Eric Vanburen defeated Republican Steve Loadwick for the city’s Sixth Ward seat.

Council President Ron Kaplewicz was unopposed in the Seventh Ward.

Maritime Economy Highlighted

In October, 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. On 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 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.

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

Oswego Gathers To Remember Its Veterans

More than six dozen people, young and old, gathered in Veterans’ Memorial Park on Nov. 11. They stood among the flags and monuments like they always do – to honor their fallen comrades who gave the ultimate sacrifice to ensure the rest of us continue to live in a free nation.

The flags at the center of the park were lowered; the Oswego City flag was first. It was solemnly folded. The Prisoners Of War flag was next. Then, the American flag was retired as well.

Seaman Apprentice Matthew T. Glenn, of the Oswego Navy Sea Cadet, assisted Oswego veteran Paul Riordan in lowering and folding the American flag.

He then presented the flags to Oswego Mayor Randy Bateman.

The mayor accepted the colors on behalf of the city. They will be stored over the winter and then returned to their place of prominence next spring when Mayor-elect Tom Gillen presides over his first Memorial Day ceremony.

The temperature toyed with 50 degrees for the 2010 ceremony, making it one of the nicer days on which the ceremony has been held. For 2011, snow was in the air and the temperature languished in the upper 30s. However, the crowd appeared larger than in 2010, as more than 70 people huddled in the park.

Occupy Oswego Group Seeks ‘Positive Change’

A group of concerned citizens are following in the footsteps of the Occupy Wall Street movement and hope to bring positive change to Oswego.

Sue Matthews of Oswego spoke on behalf of the group at the Nov. 14 council meeting.

“As Occupy has sprung to life in small towns and cities across the world, the people involved have come to a consensus that one of the best and fastest way to bring positive change is on a local level,” she told the council.

The group wants to attend every public city council meeting in Oswego and take part in working toward forwarding the community in a positive way, Matthews added.

“We will continue to gather facts and make public, relevant issues, in an attempt to defeat the apathy that has allowed the current misuse, waste and corruption to exist on just about every level of our government,” she said.

Tax agreement reached for nuclear plants

In mid-November, it was announced that Constellation Energy Nuclear Group and Oswego County, the town of Scriba and the Oswego school district had reached a tax agreement for Nine Mile Point units I and II.

The Oswego County Legislature, Scriba town board and Oswego board of education all scheduled public hearings regarding the agreement.

Police Uncover Mobile Methamphetamine Lab

At about 3 p.m. Nov. 20, pursuant to an ongoing investigation into illegal drug activity, members of the Oswego City Police Department Anti-Crime Team stopped a motor vehicle in the parking lot of the Lowe’s Plaza. As a result of further investigation, police observed materials and items consistent with those used in the production of methamphetamine, within the vehicle.

Such materials can be extremely hazardous if not handled properly, and therefore the Oswego Police Department acted quickly to evacuate businesses in the immediate vicinity and secure the area.

Lowe’s remained open, but all other businesses located on the west side of the plaza were closed and the parking lot sealed off.

Both the Oswego County and the Oswego City Fire Department Hazardous Materials Response Teams were on scene, and the New York State Police Clandestine Laboratories Response Team responded to assist in the safe clean up and disposal of the materials within the vehicle.

The vehicle was driven by a woman, and the front seat passenger was identified as 34-year-old William J. Corcoran of Oswego. Also riding in the back seat of the vehicle was Corcoran’s 7-year-old niece.

Upon further investigation and interview of the vehicle occupants, police obtained consent to search the vehicle, at which time they observed items and materials in the trunk consistent with those used in the production of methamphetamine.

Additionally, information was developed which led police to the upper apartment at 3 Mary St. in Oswego. Upon arrival they obtained consent to search the residence and, although there was no working methamphetamine lab, police did discover additional evidence of methamphetamine production.

Corcoran was arrested and charged with Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Second Degree (C Felony), and Endangering the Welfare of a Child (A Misdemeanor).

Also arrested as a result of the investigation at 3 Mary St. were: 55-year-old Carl Dashnaw Jr., 33-year-old Heidi Dashnaw and 20-year-old Brianna Callen.

All three were charged with Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree (A Misdemeanor), and have been released on appearance tickets with a return court date of Jan. 5.

Legislators Pave Way For New Nuke Tax Pact

At a brief meeting Nov. 29, the Oswego County Legislature approved overriding the state-mandated two-percent tax levy limit for 2012.

Legislator Art Ospelt called the move an insurance policy for the county in case something else changes (regarding the county’s proposed 2012 budget).

“In the meantime, we are under the tax cap, but we might not be if they change the rules on us though,” he said. “That’s what the protection is for.”

According to County Administrator Phil Church, the county needs the ability to override the cap in case the state decides to change the way it computes payments in lieu of taxes agreements for the county’s three nuclear plants.

Legislator Mike Kunzwiler pointed out that others have also done this, for the same reasons.

“It is prudent that we, as leaders, take this action and protect the taxpayers just in case. I believe this is very important for us today, to protect the taxpayers to do this,” he said.

Legislator Fred Beardsley agreed it was important.

“It is important that the public understands that this legislature in its entirety has no problem with the concept of a tax cap. Our leaders on the state level, we are behind them on the concept of this program,” he said. “Unfortunately when this thing was put together there are a couple of rules in there that are a little vague pertaining to especially the situation in Oswego County the fact that we have three nuclear plants.”

“The bottom line is the public needs to understand this isn’t a tool for us to raise taxes. This is almost the opposite,” Legislator Jim Karasek added. “It’s protection so the Oswego County taxpayers don’t get hurt by this in the future. I think that is an important message to get out.”

“This should alleviate any chance of the state, in any way at all, penalizing the county in some sort of future dealings,” Legislature Chairman Barry Leemann pointed out. “We are going to stay within the tax cap.”