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2011 In Review – IBEW Members Walk Picket Line In July

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

Striking members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 97 set up a picket line on County Route 1 at the intersection of Lakeview Road in early July.

At 12:01 a.m. July 9, the workers from Nine Mile Point Unit I and Unit II went on strike. Their jobs were being done by Constellation Energy Nuclear Group managers.

According to a press statement from Constellation, they had a contingency plan in place and have trained managers to step in; and “are prepared to safely run the facility.”

However, Ted Skerpon, Local 97 president and business manager, told Oswego County Today that “They (management) don’t have the hands-on experience the union members have.” They began job-shadowing the IBEW members just a couple weeks ago, he added.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission sent three extra inspectors to monitor the two nuclear plants’ operations.

The union that represents 590 of the approximately 1,000 workers at the plants and plant management ratified a new contract a while later.

Police chief was sworn in

Tory DeCaire, the Port City’s new police chief was sworn in on July 6.

Fire Chief Jeff McCrobie presided over the swearing in ceremony for both the Oswego Police and Fire department recruits and promotions.

Mayor Randy Bateman administered the oath of office.

McCrobie said he has worked with DeCaire for many years as they both climbed the ranks in their respective departments.

“The city is getting a real gem here,” he said.

“I am truly humbled and honored to be sworn in as the city of Oswego’s chief of police,” DeCaire said.

Also, police Sgt. David Lizotte was promoted to the rank of captain.

Two new officers also joined the police force. Scott Patterson and Michael Baker took the oath after Lizotte.

Three members of the fire department also received promotions: Jon Chawgo was promoted to the rank of deputy chief. Dave Engle went from lieutenant to captain and firefighter Allen Chase was promoted to lieutenant.

“When Tory was growing up, he was never a problem,” his father noted. “We didn’t really expect him to become chief of police.”

Youngsters Keep Reading All Summer Thanks To Bookmobile

Also in July, the Oswego Bookmobile hit the streets around the area.

Reading is fun, but it is essential that students continue to read throughout the summer months when they are out of school.

The Oswego YMCA bookmobile traveled regular weekly routes throughout the Oswego City School District providing students with opportunities to select free books they can keep and at the same time encourage continued reading.

This is a major cooperative venture from organizations and businesses throughout Oswego.

Entergy, the Oswego Youth Bureau, Pathfinder Bank, Key Bank, Glider Oil, the Oswego YMCA, Oswego City School District and SUNY Oswego are major sponsors in this effort.

The project commenced after the 2009 “Community Reads” effort that brought internationally acclaimed Greg Mortenson to Oswego.

It was noted that the goal of this program is to encourage youngsters to continue reading over the summer so they don’t lose the skills they learned in school.

Council Looks To Form Oswego’s First Dog Park

The Crisafulli baseball diamond area of Breitbeck Park was targeted to become the city’s new dog park.

At its meeting July 18, the Physical Services Committee gave a favorable recommendation to transforming the currently idle baseball field into a park for canines.

Councilor Connie Cosemento requested discussion regarding the proposal due to what she called public demand.

“The folks involved with T-ball have relocated the teams to the fort so that this particular diamond is not being used at this point,” she explained.

Dog parks are place dogs and their owners can play together; it offers off-lease time for the dogs.

“Research shows that dogs that get to run freely are less aggressive and owners become more informed dealing with other dog owners,” Cosemento said. “According to the city attorney, there shouldn’t be any more liability in this particular area, with dogs sharing space with people, then there would be in any park where there are dogs on leash.”

One of the reasons she picked this area is because dog parks have to be fenced and the ball field is already pretty much enclosed and you need at least an acre (1 to 5 is usual).

However, opposition hounded the idea and it has yet to become a reality.

Strike Ends

It was announced July 22 that Constellation and union negotiators had reached a tentative contract agreement that would end the two-week-old strike at the Nine Mile Point nuclear plants.

Union members were set to vote on approving the deal on July 25 and 26.

According to union president Ted Skerpon, it was better than the contract the union rejected prior to the walkout, and it fixed the issue that workers went out on. The strike was settled the next week.

Novelis Announces $200 Million Expansion

Novelis announced major plans for its operation in Oswego; a $200 million expansion in New York to meet rising automotive demand.

The investment by Novelis is to expand its rolling operations in Oswego in response to escalating demand for aluminum sheet in the United States, according to a statement by the company.

Novelis expects to hire approximately 100 new employees at Oswego over the next two years leading to start-up of the new equipment in the summer of 2013.

The expansion will result in a capacity increase of 200 kt, five times the company’s North America capacity for producing aluminum sheet for the automotive industry.

Harborfest 2011

Nearly idyllic weather greeted the large crowd at the opening of Harborfest #24. There were a few clouds; but other than that everything went like a well-oiled machine – thanks in large part to The Machine performing Pink Floyd.

The music started at 7 p.m. with the Jody Raffoul Band. Many in the crowd were on their feet dancing and singing along.

And, after a short interruption for the official opening ceremonies, The Machine kept Harborfest 2011 rocking and rolling.

The rock band performed many of Pink Floyd’s greatest hits.

The crowd continued to grow in front of the NRG Lakeview Stage. The crowd was massive, sprawling all the way back to the sidewalk in Breitbeck Park toward the food vendors.

Oswego Mayor Randy Bateman welcomed the enthusiastic crowd to Harborfest.

Hundreds March In Annual Children’s Parade

The rains were unable to hold back Harborfest’s annual Children’s Parade two years in a row.

The 2010 event, considered by many to be the true start of Harborfest, was postponed a day due to inclement weather.

For 2011, Friday started out overcast; showers made the hours leading up to the start of the parade soggy. Even a power outage that delayed the start of Joe Trionfero’s Show of Love (program for youngsters prior to the parade) seemed to conspire against the event.

However, the power of positive thinking prevailed. Mayor Randy Bateman took the stage in West Park and lead the huge crowd in the countdown to the parade – with a twist at the end.

“Five, four, three, two, one!” he said and then was joined by hundreds of children in proclaiming “Make the rain go away!”

The parade, from West Park to Breitbeck, drew several hundred participants, from infants to teen-agers.

Many of them were dressed in English attire, highlighting the cultural component of the 2011 festival – “England.”

Mother Nature continued to cooperate as thousands surrounded the Lake Ontario shoreline to take in the annual fireworks spectacular on Saturday night.