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2012 In Review: In September County Unveiled Map Of Proposed New Districts

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

In early September, the Oswego County Legislature’s Redistricting Committee unveiled a map of what the legislative districts could look like by Jan. 1, 2013.

The committee was looking to bring all of the districts’ average populations to fewer than 4,900. They used 2010 census data to establish the boundaries.

The goal was to make district populations more equal and easier to manage not only for the legislators but their constituents as well, according to Dave Turner, director of the county Community Development, Tourism and Planning Department.

The average population, using the latest census figures, is 4,884.

According to the law, populations in each district is required to be as close as possible to that figure, Turner explained, adding that it can’t be 5 percent above average or below average; 244 people over the average number or 244 people below.

If the plus and minus groups were lumped more closely together, it would make things easier to redraw boundary lines and shift populations to make things equal, Legislature Chairman Fred Beardsley said.

The legislature approved the plan at a special meeting in late December.

EEE Virus Found in Central Square: County Will Conduct Aerial Spraying

The Oswego County Health Department was notified by the State Health Department late Sept. 4 that the Eastern equine encephalitis virus was found in a sample of mosquitoes collected in the village of Central Square.

Jiancheng Huang, Oswego County public health director, said he requested the New York State Department of Health to issue a declaration of “imminent threat to public health” in Oswego County with the intent to conduct aerial spraying of the Big Bay and Toad Harbor Swamp area as soon as possible.

“The new evidence of Eastern equine encephalitis, together with the West Nile virus activity already present in Oswego County, drove the decision to spray,” said Huang.

Huang emphasized that the decision on when and where to conduct aerial spraying is based on data collected in surveillance and mosquito control guidelines.

Longtime county clerk Dies

Veteran Oswego County Clerk and politician George Williams died in early September.

Williams was a former chairman of the Oswego County Republican Party and a county legislator for five years, representing the town of Constantia.

He was 77 years old.

Williams started as county clerk in 1981. He served continuously up to his death.

Support Pours In For Rookey Family

The outpouring of support from the Oswego community and beyond was amazing, according to the parents of Spc. Kyle R. Rookey. The 23-year-old Oswego native died in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, according to a brief statement from the Department of Defense. The death was the result of “a non-combat related incident.”

He entered the Army on March 3, 2010, and joined his current unit on Jan. 7, 2011.

Kyle was assigned to the 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo. He was deployed to Afghanistan on March 10, 2012.

He was a great kid, who would do anything he could to help others and make them smile, his friends said.

Hundreds Light Up Fort Ontario With Memories of Kyle

Nearly 200 friends and family circled the parade grounds at historic Fort Ontario to pay homage to Kyle Rookey.

Hundreds more, from Fort Ontario to Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, Colo. (where Kyle was stationed) and beyond also remembered the 23-year-old Oswegonian who died Sept. 2, in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

Kyle was remembered with some tears but mostly by smiles and laughter as those present recalled the young man they said would do anything to help anybody.

Christine Mansfield was one of the organizers of the event.

“Kyle was like my brother and I wanted to pay some sort of respect to him,” she said. “He was a big impact on my life as well as many other people in this community.” He was a “motivator,” she said, adding that he didn’t like to see people sad or upset.

Hundreds more lined East First Street the following week as his body was returned to the Port City for his funeral.

Cayuga CC Dedicates Its New Fulton Campus At River Glen

Cayuga Community College hosted a dedication and ribbon cutting to celebrate the completion of construction at its new Fulton Campus.

Nearly a dozen speakers praised the multi-million dollar project, thanked those who made it possible and extolled its benefits for the local economy and future generations of students.

Of all of them, Oswego County Legislator (District 21) Terry Wilbur put it in simply, yet elegantly.

The 2008 graduate gestured toward the new education center behind him and told the large crowd assembled under a tent in the school’s parking lot, Wow!”

Dr. Daniel P. Larson, President, Cayuga Community College, welcomed the crowd. “This is our fourth, final and permanent home in Oswego County,” he said to a round applause.”

They started offering nursing courses in 1979 in Mexico; then in 1994 in their first campus in two rented classrooms in the Fulton Education Center and then within the following year they moved to the former Holy Family School building and stayed there until 2001 when they moved into their leased campus on West Broadway.

The ceremony marked the completion of the nine-month, $16.1 million construction of the 82,150 square-foot campus in the former P&C grocery store.

In late August, the campus opened its doors to 1,100 students who are currently enrolled at the Fulton site.

Cover Of Heidi Allen Book – A Map To Hope

Standing at the site where her sister disappeared more than 18 years ago, Lisa Buske unveiled the cover of her book on what would have been Heidi Allen’s birthday.

On April 3, 1994, Heidi Allen went missing from the convenience store at the intersection of Route 104 and 104B in New Haven. Authorities say she was kidnapped by a couple of local brothers and is presumed dead.

Her body has never been located. But to this day, the case remains open and police continue to investigate, according to Oswego County Sheriff Reuel Todd.

Buske said she revealed the cover as a birthday gift to her sister, “and what better place than here at the remembrance garden.”

The target audience for the book (“Where’s Heidi: One Sister’s Journey) is siblings. Buske is aiming to have the book released April 3, 2013, the anniversary of Heidi’s disappearance; so that there can be some hope on that day instead of, “Oh, I remember where I was that day when I heard…”

There are four different things going on on the cover. It reflects the New Haven community. It has a rose in the Remembrance Garden, which was created by the community to remember Heidi.

United Way Sets Goal At $800,000 – This Time, It’s Personal

The United Way of Greater Oswego County began its annual campaign – and this time, it’s personal.

Melanie Trexler, executive director, welcomed the large crowd to the kickoff breakfast meeting at The American Foundry in Oswego.

“I am delighted that you have chosen to be with us this morning. Everyone here, along with our family, our friends, co-workers, and neighbors make up our community. It truly is our community and it is personal. We need to take ownership of our community,” she said. “Our common charge is to strengthen the fabric of our community and to champion the needs of families, youth and our seniors in Oswego County.”

The United Way helps to support 20 agencies and 29 programs that serve thousands of individuals.

“None of that would be possible without community members like you,” Trexler told the audience. “It is our community, and it is personal.”

Kathy Fenlon has served the United Way for more than 20 years in some capacity. She is currently president of the board of directors.

Over the years she has seen “how the United Way touches the lives of countless members of our community.”

“By joining us today, you are demonstrating your conviction to the United Way and our mission,” she said. “You are aware that it truly is our community and it is personal.”

FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant Achieves Record Performance

Early on Sept. 16, control room operators removed Entergy’s James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant from service to begin its 20th refueling and maintenance outage after generating electricity safely for 700 consecutive days.

This marked the second consecutive time FitzPatrick has operated “breaker-to-breaker” (operating from one refueling outage to the next without needing to take the plant offline in between).

That means the plant had been on line every day for the past four years with the exception of two required outages to refuel and perform maintenance.

Since completing its last refueling and maintenance outage in October 2010, the plant produced more than 14 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity over its 700-day run. During the previous operating cycle, FitzPatrick achieved a site record by operating continuously for 702 days.

“Breaker-to-breaker operation is a significant accomplishment for any plant, but achieving it back-to-back over two consecutive operating cycles is truly a noteworthy accomplishment,” said Mike Colomb, Entergy’s site vice president at FitzPatrick.

“This achievement is the direct result of our workforce being committed to the safe and reliable operation of FitzPatrick through a focus on standards of excellence, equipment reliability, maintenance and continuous improvement and training.”

Big, Bigger BIGGEST

The top 10 great pumpkins at the 21st Oswego Great Pumpkin Fest (including one ‘exhibition’) were all more than 1,000 pounds. And the winner dented the scales at 1,598 pounds.

Quinn Werner’s behemoth made fellow pumpkin grower and winner of the 2006 fest Eric Gerry of LaFayette exclaim, “That’s the biggest pumpkin I have ever seen in my life!”

Gerry won the 2006 event with a pumpkin that weighed 912.5 pounds. That would have been about 15th place this year.

“The pumpkins are getting bigger and better every year here,” said Connie Cosemento, fest director. “These folks take pumpkin growing very seriously.”

Oswego’s Steve Wescott had a personal best of 1,465.5 pounds. That held the top spot until Werner’s giant came along and relegated it to second place.

Karl Haist of Clarence Center, NY, captured the number three spot with a 1,349.5-pound pumpkin.

Gary Adams was right behind in fourth place with an entry of 1,339.5 pounds.

Council Approves Amendment To City Code Regarding Taxi Drivers

The Oswego Common Council approved Local Law No. 2 of the Year 2012. The local law amends Chapter 228, Taxicabs, of the Code of the city of Oswego.

It is an attempt to ensure proper background checks are done on potential taxicab drivers, explained Third Ward Councilor Mike Todd.

Taxi companies had a two-week grace period to get the background checks done after the new law was approved. The police department will conduct the checks.

“This is a credit to Councilor (Eric) VanBuren from the Sixth Ward, he did a lot of the legwork on this,” Todd said following the meeting.

The council was threatened with a lawsuit regarding the passage of the local law.

Jeremy Zielinski, the founder and CEO of an advocacy group for convicted felons, told the council the new law wouldn’t survive judicial review. Legal consequences would befall the city if the law was passed, he said.

If the city didn’t reconsider the law, he said he had already instructed his attorneys to prepare a lawsuit.

The law is currently being challenged.

Oswego girl vows to be the face, voice of homeless

A 12-year-old girl is pushing for the creation of a shelter for the homeless in the Oswego area.

“Everyone deserves to be treated equally and some people have a hard time. If you get pushed down, sometimes you need help getting back up,” said Emily Bradshaw.

The Oswego Middle School seventh grader spoke at a county legislature meeting lobbying lawmakers to help start a homeless shelter. She vowed to be the face and voice of homelessness; shining a light on what she said is “a nearly invisible problem.”

Bradshaw is also spearheading a drive for personal items like soap and shampoo. She has already created and distributed hundreds to those in need.

“When they think of homelessness, they can think of me sleeping on the dirty street and having no dinner every night,” Bradshaw told the legislators.