2011 In Review: Oswego Council Reorganizes, Mayor Bows Out

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

The Oswego Common Council got reorganized on Jan. 3. And, a few days later the mayor dropped a bombshell

In a brief session, prior to the regularly scheduled committee meetings, the Oswego Common Council voted to appoint Ronald Kaplewicz (Seventh Ward) as the presiding officer of the council for 2011.

He was approved 5-2 with Shawn Walker and Bill Sharkey voting no.

Dan Donovan had served in that position since 2008.

The councilors also approved Walker (Fourth Ward) as the council’s vice president. He was also the VP for 2009 and 2010.

That vote was 7-0.

Mayor Bateman Won’t Seek New Term

A few days later, Jan. 6, Oswego Mayor Randy Bateman announced he wouldn’t be seeking re-election to the post he’s held since 2006.

Bateman, a Democrat, served as a county legislator from 1992-95 and Fourth Ward city councilor from 1998 to 2006.

In 2006, he was councilor, council president and the acting mayor. He has been mayor from 2006 to the present.

“It is an honor and privilege to have been given the opportunity to serve my community for a combined total of 18 years,” he said.

After weighing many factors including family responsibilities and time commitment, “I am announcing today that I will not be a candidate for the fall election for mayor of the city of Oswego,” Bateman told the large crowd in the Council Chambers.

At one point, he became overcome with the emotion of the moment and had to pause before continuing.

“Of course, I will finish out my term, which expires on Dec. 31, 2011,” he said.

He decided to make the announcement early so that anyone interested in pursuing the office of mayor will have ample time to prepare, he explained.

Lifesaver Recognized

The U.S. Coast Guard formally recognized Edward Fillingham, 77, on Jan. 18 for his life-saving efforts in 2009.

Rear Admiral Mike Parks, commander of the Ninth Coast Guard District, presented Fillingham with the Coast Guard’s Silver Lifesaving Medal at Coast Guard Station Oswego in recognition of his rescuing three boaters on Lake Ontario on April 17, 2009.

Fillingham, of Henderson Harbor, was 75 when he performed his Herculean rescue.

A woman and two men were floundering in 40-degree water after their paddleboat capsized in Henderson Harbor.

Upon hearing the cries for help, Fillingham said he immediately launched his canoe despite extremely dangerous conditions and paddled 500 yards to the boaters.

“Mr. Fillingham, it’s been an honor to meet you,” Admiral Parks said. “Three families are whole today because of your efforts, sir.”

The guest of honor, however, said he “was surprised so many people and the media are here.”

None of the three people were wearing lifejackets, Fillingham noted.

“You can’t leave kids out there like that. Once you commit yourself, you go after them. You got to try anyway. No way I could have left them out there. No way. I had to get those kids out of the water,” Fillingham said following the ceremony.

Guilty Verdict

Joyce Malone was facing a 5 to 25 years prison sentence.

The 70-year-old Oswego Town woman was found guilty Jan. 24 of first-degree manslaughter.

In Oswego County Court, an eight-woman and four-man jury found her guilty of second-degree murder. However, they also accepted the defense of extreme emotional disturbance, which reduced it to the lesser charge.

Malone remained free on $100,000 bond, which she posted shortly after her arrest last spring.

She was to return to court on March 7 for sentencing.

Malone shot her husband, Ralph, on March 19, 2010, in their Tug Hill Road home. They had been married 51 years and had three children together, two daughters and a son.

Malone’s attorney, Jim Eby, said she admits shooting her husband to death.

Eby argued that his client suffered from extreme emotional disturbance and didn’t realize what she was doing when she killed her husband.

Maxwells released from county jail

After serving approximately 16 months behind bars at the Oswego County Correctional Facility, Lindsey and Lynn Maxwell, father and stepmother of deceased 11-year-old Erin Maxwell, were released Jan. 24.

In August 2009, the couple was convicted on four counts each of endangering the welfare of a child. They were sentenced to two years in Oswego County jail.

The charges were a result of the deplorable living conditions that were discovered in the Palermo home they lived in, shortly after Erin’s death, which occurred Aug. 30, 2008.