2013 In Review: In August SUNY Oswego to welcome interim chief of staff

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

Kristi Eck, education program director at Say Yes to Education in Syracuse, was set to join the administration of SUNY Oswego at the start of the fall semester Aug. 26 as interim chief of staff for President Deborah Stanley.

“Kristi Eck has shown impressive leadership and managerial skills in her roles with the innovative and collaborative Say Yes to Education program in Syracuse, and I am pleased to welcome her to SUNY Oswego,” Stanley said.

Eck has worked with the 5-year-old Say Yes to Education in Syracuse for the past four years successively as program coordinator and site director at Frazer School, assistant to the director of operations and higher education program specialist, and now education program director.

She previously worked at SUNY Cortland as a study abroad adviser.

Eck holds a master’s degree in higher and postsecondary education administration from Columbia University’s Teachers College and a bachelor’s degree in English from Colby College.

She is a member of Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner’s Commission on Women and Leadership Greater Syracuse Class of 2013.

Jim Shampine Drive Re-Dedicated to local racing legend

The small stretch of blacktop that connects Route 104 to East Albany Street was re-dedicated on Aug. 3 to the man who still has a huge influence over Oswego Speedway.

Jim Shampine Drive was re-dedicated in honor of the late speedway champion prior to the running of the 27th annual Mr. Novelis Supermodified.

“I basically noticed the sign was missing (at Route 104 and Shampine Drive). It got misplaced when (the state) widened the road. I asked the mayor to look into what happened. So, he called DOT and that started the ball rolling,” Oswego’s ‘Downtown Mayor’ Mike D’Amico explained.

The sign at the top of the hill, at East Albany and Shampine Drive “was really weathered and beat,” he added.

“One thing lead to another. I talked to a few people,” D’Amico said.

Pathfinder Bank, Romey Caruso (whose family formerly owned the Oswego Speedway for decades), the current speedway owners, the city and others all pitched in to help replace the signs, he said.

Oswego Mayor Tom Gillen, Speedway representatives, as well as D’Amico and Jim Paternoster were on hand to re-dedicate the road and unveil the brand new street signs designed by Paternoster, who also made the sign poles and 8 Balls on top.

The entire process took about five or six months, D’Amico said.

Paternoster’s newly designed Jim Shampine Drive signs are one of a kind with the added flare of airbrush artist Matthew Hubbard of Airbrush Plus, of Minetto.

The artwork is so detailed, you can see the spark plug wires, D’Amico said.

“Each sign probably took 50 to 60 hours, each side. There is a lot of detail,” Hubbard explained. He has done works all over the country and is very pleased now that some of his artwork will be prominently displayed in his hometown.

“It was a lot of fun. I’ve always enjoyed racing. I came up here (Oswego Speedway) as much as I could as a kid. We had a lot of kids in the family, so we could afford too many trips. It was a lot of fun. I always enjoyed it. One of the first things I remember drawing as a kid was race cars,” Hubbard said. “So, when they asked me to help with this, I was thrilled.”

Shampine’s daughter said she best remembers her father’s “rear engine (race car). It sticks in my mind the most, just because it was cool looking.”

“All I can tell you is that he spent hours and hours in that garage. I can remember he’d come home from work, eat dinner and then out to the garage! He lived, ate and drank racing. He was really smart, he knew his stuff. I probably got in the way a lot riding around in the garage with my three-wheeler,” she added with a laugh. “I’d just be driving around, getting dirty. Then I’d go in the house and my mom would go, ‘arrg, not again!'”

County Moves Ahead with Plans To Alleviate Over-Crowding At OCJ, Save Money

The Oswego County Alternatives to Incarceration Advisory Board voted Monday afternoon to move ahead with approving the county’s ATI plan. Deborah Meyer, director of the county’s Probation Department, chaired the meeting.

The county’s plan would be based on the state ATI programs. The goal of the state programs is “to reduce recidivism through offender behavioral change, promote public safety and enhance defendant-offender accountability through community corrections.”

The county is required to fill out the plan and submit it to the state annually

The Probation Department had about $21,112 that can be earmarked for the program.

“With that money, the Probation provides some alternatives to incarceration services to the county. It’s a mandate of the Probation Department, but we think it’s important because it saves a lot of money in a lot of different areas, Meyer said.

Some of the money helps fund the Sheriff’s Office’s weekend work program and some assist the Pre-Trial Release program.

Also part of the program will be the use of electronic monitoring devices.

Last fall, Oswego County legislators approved a proposal to allow the Probation Department to use a GPS tracking system and electronic bracelets to monitor criminals who are awaiting court action.

“Electronic ankle bracelets and similar devices provide a cost-effective alternative to incarceration for individuals who wouldn’t normally be eligible for pre-trial release without an added ability to monitor them,” according to Meyer.

Maffei and Hanna Push for Strong Water Resources Development Act

During a tour of the Port of Oswego Aug. 7, Rep. Dan Maffei (D-NY) and Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY) announced a new effort to pass a strong Water Resources Development Act and bring critical support and infrastructure improvements to Central New York ports and the Great Lakes region.

This legislation will significantly impact water-related infrastructure in Central New York.

Maffei and Hanna are partnering together along with other local leaders to push for provisions to be included in WRDA that ensure adequate resources are provided for dredging and other critical needs that will protect the long-term economic viability of the Port of Oswego and the surrounding Great Lakes water infrastructure.

Maffei and Hanna also emphasized their support for H.R. 2273, new legislation that will authorize the Great Lakes Navigation System as a single, integrated system, an approach that allows for enhanced rehabilitation and expansion of the regional infrastructure network that connects the Port of Oswego and the Great Lakes, with trade around the world.  Maffei and Hanna both represent the southeastern coast of Lake Ontario.

“The Port of Oswego is a vital economic anchor that supports thousands of jobs in our region,” said Maffei.  “I am honored to partner with Rep. Hanna and work together to push for a strong WRDA and to consolidate our Great Lakes network. Creating jobs, strengthening our middle class, and spurring our local economy are my top priorities.”

“More needs to be done to reform how we invest in our valuable water resources, including the Port of Oswego,” Hanna said. “The Great Lakes, the Erie Canal and other waterways are economic assets that support jobs, trade and economic competitiveness. Through a new, strengthened WRDA bill we can ensure that Central New York benefits from less red tape, a quicker project delivery process and a transportation network that truly promotes prosperity and growth. I will be working on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to achieve these important goals and I’m pleased to have Congressman Maffei as a partner in this effort.”

Forensic artist depicts what Heidi Allen Would Look Like Today

Heidi M Allen was kidnapped at the age of 18 on Easter Sunday 1994 while working alone at the D & W Convenience Store in New Haven. She remains missing today.

But thanks to Diana Trepkov, forensic artist, we know what Heidi might look like today.

This past April, Heidi’s older sister, Lisa Buske, published a book titled, Where’s Heidi? One Sister’s Journey. She shared the saga of Heidi’s kidnapping from the sister’s perspective.

It is because of Buske’s book that the updated age progression artwork is available.

Laurie Travis read the book in hopes of finding hope. Her sister went missing more than 28 years ago.

Travis knows the pain of “losing” a sibling and living with the unknown.

After she read Where’s Heidi?, she shared Lisa (and Heidi’s) stories with forensic artist, Diana Trepkov.

“Laurie read my book and shared it with Diana,” Buske said. “Diana was so moved by Heidi and my story – she did this for our family.”

Trepkov and Buske exchanged emails and messages for a few days before Trepkov went to work on an updated age progression of Heidi, who would be 38 years old.

“We are all thrilled with this likeness. Mom’s first words were, ‘That’s my girl,'” Buske told Oswego County Today.

The updated age-progression was added to Heidi’s National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, NamUs, Doe Network, and Codeus accounts – in order to increase the chances of matching her remains with one of the thousands of remains across the United States.

“Diana did two different styles of hair and the face is slightly different on the left to the right, to give people a couple varieties,” Buske explained. “She kept the length (of hair long) because most of us, at age 38, in our family, still had longer hair.”

For more information on Trepkov, visit http://www.forensicsbydiana.com/

To contact Buske: [email protected]

SUNY Oswego named best in the Northeast

The Princeton Review has released its list of best colleges in the Northeast for 2014, and SUNY Oswego was on it.

The 152-year-old college on the shore of Lake Ontario has been on every regional best list produced by the educational services company. The first edition appeared in 2003.

Oswego is one of 226 institutions recommended in the “Best in the Northeast” section of the website feature “2014 Best Colleges: Region by Region,” which went live this month on PrincetonReview.com/best-regional-colleges.aspx. The Princeton Review does not rank colleges on its regional lists.

“We chose these as ‘regional best’ colleges mainly for their excellent academic programs,” said Robert Franek, Princeton Review’s senior vice president and publisher. “Our ‘regional best’ colleges constitute only 25 percent of the nation’s four-year colleges — a select group, indeed.”

From several hundred schools in the Northeast, Princeton Review crafted its list based on data collected from the schools, visits to schools over the years, and the opinions of Princeton Review staff as well as of college counselors and advisers. Princeton Review also takes into account what students at the schools reported about their campus experiences on an 80-question student survey.

EEE Found in Bird-Biting Mosquitoes in Central Square; West Nile Virus Found near New Haven

Eastern equine encephalitis virus and West Nile virus were found in mosquito pools collected in Oswego County Aug. 7, the Oswego County Health Department announced. Tests were performed in the State Department of Health’s Wadsworth Center Laboratories near Albany.

Two mosquito pools collected in the village of Central Square tested positive for both the EEE virus and West Nile virus, and a third pool in the village of Central Square tested positive for EEE. One mosquito pool collected in the town of New Haven tested positive for West Nile virus. A mosquito pool is a collection of mosquitoes of the same species taken from a site for testing.

“It is critical that people take individual protective measures to reduce their chances of being exposed to EEE virus and West Nile virus,” said Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang.

In rare cases, humans may be infected with the EEE virus or West Nile virus. Both may cause severe inflammation and swelling of the brain, even death. West Nile virus could be much less severe and most infected humans do not develop symptoms. Symptoms from the viruses’ infections include sudden high fever, muscle pains, and a headache of increasing severity.

Inaugural ‘Oswego Bike Fest’ Welcomes Riders to Famed Oswego Speedway

In the 63 years that Oswego Speedway has stood along the scenic shores of beautiful Lake Ontario, the 5/8 mile ‘Steel Palace’ oval has seen its share of big events, but nothing quite like what rumbled into town August 23-26.

The Oswego Bike Fest brought two-wheel enthusiasts from across New York State and New England to the ‘Home of the Supermodifieds’, for a four-day long gathering of bikers, vendors, rock n’ roll, and good times.

Beginning on August 23, the weekend long Oswego Bike Fest brought attendees three consecutive nights of live music featuring acclaimed regional acts Jimmy Wolf, Poison Whiskey (Lynyrd Skynyrd Tribute Band), JP Shaggy, Code Red, 21st Century Cowboys, Emerald City, 3 Inch Fury, and Under the Gun.

The headline concert of the weekend was August 24 when national recording artist Molly Hatchet hit the main stage.

A full slate of activities was on tap including a motorcycle rodeo, the Miss Bike Fest bikini contest, Vertical Outlaws stunt bike show, a burnout pit, mechanical bull rides, bikini bike wash, as well as charity bike rides, several vendors, plus a Military Tribute and fireworks on Sunday.

World War II Veteran Brings LT-5 Tugboat To Life

The LT-5 tugboat, docked at the H. Lee White Marine Museum in Oswego, is a National Historic Landmark because of its brave acts during World War II. The tugboat was built in 1943 and is one of the last remaining operational US Army Transport vessels of its type left from the war.

The tugboat tells a story that no one else can tell but one man. A story that this man lived as he too faced brave acts of his own, making the LT-5 not only a tour but an experience of a lifetime.

Joe Murabito, 93, is one of a kind.

He has been volunteering at the marine museum for more than three years and specifically focuses on the LT-5 tugboat.

Mercedes Niess, the museum’s executive director, said that his tours are very popular and the museum frequently receives cards in the mail from visitors regarding Murabito’s amazing real-life stories and knowledge.

“Joe is a special and very dedicated volunteer. We are honored to have him here. His tours are becoming legend,” said Niess.

The museum celebrated Murabito and other World War II veterans on August 25. This event highlighted the 70th anniversary of the LT-5 as well as all of the World War II veterans who served.

Murabito was born in Oswego in August of 1920 and lived all of his life here. He worked at Fort Ontario growing up and was drafted into the service in 1942 at age 21.

He spent three years in the Army, 155th Infantry as a scout, and was discharged in 1945 because of tropical diseases contracted in the swamps of New Guinea, Buna, Morotai and the Phillipines.

Murabito was a part of three invasions and knows from his experience in the islands how important the LT-5 tugboat truly was to Normandy.

Maffei Announces More Than $1.5 Million In Federal Funding For Oswego County Airport

On Aug. 23, U.S. Representative Dan Maffei (D-Syracuse) announced the Oswego County Airport had been awarded more than $1.5 million in federal funding from two U.S. Department of Transportation grants to acquire aircraft deicing equipment and upgrade taxiways, lighting, and wiring throughout the airport.

“Investing in transportation infrastructure promotes economic growth in our local communities and attracts more travelers and business to our region,” said Rep. Maffei.

“This funding is very exciting news for our airport and travelers to and from Oswego County,” said Bruce Bisbo, manager of the Oswego County Airport. “With these grants, we will have the funds to undergo a much-needed overhaul of our airport facilities.”

A $1,026,000 DOT grant will be used to upgrade taxiways and improve lighting and wiring throughout the airport. An additional $519,000 grant will be used to acquire aircraft deicing equipment.

Oswego Moving Ahead With Consent Decree Project

At the August 19 Administrative Services Committee meeting, Tony Leotta, city engineer, requested the mayor be authorized to sign Amendment No. 3 for professional engineering design services with GHD Consulting Engineers for preparation of plans and specifications for C7-6344-19-04, Area 1-Part 3.

The price tag is $58,500, which is less than what was programmed, he told the committee.

This project is for the West Tenth Street Basin Sanitary Sewer Rehabilitation which is included in the Consent Decree and must be completed by November 1, 2014.

This is the last of the series of projects in the Consent Decree that require completion by November 1, 2014, according to the city engineer.

“Once this is completed, then hopefully, the city can renegotiate the Consent Decree,” Leotta said. “We’re hoping that this would be the last project. If we’re fortunate enough to renegotiate that Consent Decree (it would really help the city). We’re hopeful.”

The committee sent the request to the full council to be approved.

County Weighing Options For Former Jail

The Old Jail Property & Planning Committee took another step forward in plans to raze the dilapidated former Oswego County Jail and sheriff’s apartment on Route 481.

At its August meeting, the committee approved seeking requests for proposals for demolition management (to do the abatement of any hazardous materials and do the demolition).

Asbestos had been found in the mechanicals of the former jail; however, the roof was the main concern in regards to asbestos.

“You can’t demolish a building if you know there’s asbestos in it,” explained Phil Church, county administrator. “It has to be remediated before you demolish.”

“We could,” interjected Dave Turner, director of the county’s Community Development, Tourism and Planning Office.  “But then, you’d have to treat the whole thing as hazardous waste and it will more than double the cost.”

The resolution to seek proposals passed unanimously.

The committee also discussed post demolition options for the site and space needs.

“The records center is nearly at capacity,” Michael Backus, county clerk said.

The DMV and records center are on the same tax parcel as the old jail.

“So, if your decision was not to do anything with that structure and leave that functioning as a county office, you’d have to sub-divide that parcel in order to sell the jail section of the parcel,” Turner said. “The feeling was, at the previous meeting, that the combination of the two along the river would create a much better option for potential purchasers. It would bring the county a higher price than just (selling) the portion of the parcel that has the jail on it.”

Oswego’s Big Picture School Ready To Open In New Site

The BUC Junior-Senior High School was ready to open in its new home when school started in September.

“Our district team really pulled together to get the school up and running on time. Our district building and grounds director, Dave Crisafulli, and his staff put our move from the portable classrooms on the middle school campus as one of their priorities and moved us – totally moved the whole contents of our school – in two days (into the lower level of the Education Center)! They were efficient, effective and great guys to work with,” said Principal Deb Smith. “Our district technology department was an integral part of our team, also. They were there right from the beginning, running wires, setting up our media classroom, putting in our teacher and student computers, hanging SmartBoards and getting us hooked up to the Internet!”

Dozens of students and their parents attended an open house and toured the new school site in late August.

Smith told everyone to give themselves, “A big atta boy, atta girl!”

“We are incredibly lucky to be here at the Ed Center. It is amazing; in three days what our school district accomplished,” the principal told the crowd in one of the new classrooms. “Those of you who were here about a week and a half ago know this was the (board of education’s) board room. The board said that education is so important in Oswego that they gave up the board room. They love our school. They support our school 100%. So they literally moved heaven and earth and in the space of just a few days they cleared everybody out of here.”

Jessica Zemken Becomes First Woman to Qualify for International Classic 200

On an afternoon full of storylines during pole day qualifying for the Budweiser International Classic 200 at Oswego Speedway, none was more historical than that of Jessica Zemken looking to become the first woman to qualify for the richest Supermodified race in the world.

With a lap of 16.590 seconds at 135.624 mph, history was indeed made, as Zemken officially clocked in 10th quick locking herself into the starting field for the annual 200-lapper.

After three full days of testing in the Corr/Pak Merchandising, Graham Racing No. 11 Supermodified, Zemken managed to shave more than a full second off of her lap times moving into the 16.6 second bracket before time trials.  The Sprakers, NY, driver would save the best for last, setting her fastest lap of the week on her final lap of qualifying.

Upon entering the event, Zemken became just the third woman to attempt to qualify for the International Classic joining Sheila Hayes and Jennifer Chesbro.

Zemken joined 13 other drivers as locked in qualifiers from the first round of time trials that were guaranteed to start in the front seven rows of Classic.

Additional  EEE and West Nile Virus Found in Oswego County

Four mosquito pools tested positive for EEE. They include one in the town of New Haven, two in the Toad Harbor Swamp area of West Monroe, and one near the village of Central Square. Two pools near the village of Central Square tested positive for WNV.

The Oswego County Health Department planned to aerial spray areas where EEE was found. The boundaries of the spray zones and the dates of spraying were announced as soon as they are finalized.

Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang reminded residents to continue to be proactive in protecting themselves against mosquitoes.

“We are working closely with the state health department to monitor the situation,” said Huang. “People should remain vigilant to prevent exposure to mosquitoes. Personal protection measures are the most effective way to guard against mosquito bites.”