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2013 In Review: In June Grassroots Group Looks To Start Children’s Museum

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

A new non-profit organization began working towards opening a children’s museum in the city of Oswego.

“We are looking to gain awareness in the community,” Jon Shaver, president of the board of trustees for the Children’s Museum of Oswego, told Oswego County Today.

They held a public informational meeting on June 11 at the YMCA Armory.

The museum would be for the benefit of children, families, educators and caregivers in the community, Shaver explained.

“This won’t be your ‘typical’ museum. It’s going to be hands-on experience with self-directed play for the kids,” he added.

There just didn’t seem to be much to engage children, especially young ones, in the Port City, he said, explaining why he and his wife came up with the idea and formed a board of directors of other parents and interested parties.

The museum would house a variety of interactive exhibits designed to promote physical and intellectual development.

Exhibits will focus on aspects of current and historical local significance, imaginative play, the arts, science and mathematics.

The Children’s Museum of Oswego will also offer programs for various age groups that provide a structured learning objective such as crafts, topics in science exploration, environmental studies, music and movement and literacy activities.

According to Shaver, children’s museums are based on the idea that play is the gateway to childhood learning.

Through a hands-on approach, children are presented with interactive exhibits that build understandings of early learning concepts in a unique environment. Inside the museum, children are encouraged to touch, move, build, make noise and explore.

“So far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive,” Shaver said. “We want to keep the momentum going and get this done. We want to get the word out so more people can get involved.”

Children’s museums empower children to learn through play, Shaver noted.

Midway Drive-in celebrates nostalgia, embraces the digital age

John Nagelschmidt wanted to do something different to mark 80 years of drive-in theaters in America.

This year, Midway Drive-In in Minetto showed Going Attractions, a documentary film directed by April Wright as part of a triple feature.

The documentary was shown between family-friendly Epic and comedy classic Young Frankenstein.

Wright was also be in attendance.

Wright frequented drive-in theaters growing up and made the film to answer the question: what happened to them?

According to Wright, “Overall the film is a biography – the life story of the drive-in, which isn’t over yet.”

There are currently 366 drive-in movie theaters in the US, which is a much lower number than 80 years ago.

Wright’s film explores the rise and fall of drive-ins, and also options for the industry making a comeback using new technology.

Midway is the perfect example of this, as they just converted to digital projection this year.

“There was little choice,” said Nagelschmidt. “35mm film is going to go away.”

With the switch to digital there are more options for Midway when it comes time to choose which movies to screen.

“With digital projection the picture looks amazing because it takes care of any issues of residual light or lamp brightness,” said Wright. “So the quality of the experience is better than ever.”

Even though the switch to digital has gotten positive reviews so far, there was apprehension.

Midway is known for its nostalgic feel, from the retro concessions stand to that dancing hotdog singing the intermission jingle “Let’s all go to the lobby.”

“A lot of people say that’s the highlight of the drive-in, and they were afraid that is was going to go away,” said Nagelschmidt.

There’s no need to fear though, the dancing hotdog has been converted to digital and still screens at Midway.

Even though the first film of the night doesn’t begin until dusk, Nagelschmidt said there are cars that arrive as early as 5 o’clock looking for that perfect parking spot.

“And ‘experience’ is the right word,” said Wright. “Because going to a drive-in isn’t about seeing a movie, it’s about having a fun experience with your family or friends, something that you can’t create at home.  And the types of movies Hollywood is making right now…are exactly the types of films that play very well at a drive-in.”

“We probably have a core group of between 100-200 people,” said Nagelschmidt, “who’ve been coming for years and are responsible for keeping the theater alive.”

In the midst of celebrating 80 years of the drive-in tradition, Midway also celebrated its 65th anniversary on July 18.

Appeals over, Alan Jones’ manslaughter conviction will stand

The reduced manslaughter conviction against Alan Jones in the death of his stepsister Erin Maxwell will stand after the Court of Appeals declined to hear the case, according to Greg Oakes, Oswego County District Attorney.

Jones was convicted in 2009 for second-degree murder by reason of depraved indifference to human life.

That conviction was reduced upon appeal. The state Supreme Court Appellate Division Fourth Department ruled there wasn’t enough evidence to prove Jones acted with “depraved indifference to human life” and recklessly killed Maxwell.

Jones was re-sentenced to 5 to 15 years in state prison on a reduced second-degree manslaughter conviction.

Oakes and Jones’ lawyers had attempted to appeal the case to the state’s highest court; the prosecution hoping to reinstate the murder conviction, the defense hoping to get the case thrown out.

But the court denied both requests, ending the appeals process.

“While I knew it was a long-shot to get the murder conviction reinstated, I wanted to do everything in my power to fight for Erin Maxwell, regardless of the odds,” Oakes said in a news release.

Law Enforcement Carries Torch For Special Olympics

For more than 30 years, police officers throughout Oswego County participated in the annual “Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics.”

Officers representing the cities of Fulton and Oswego, the county, state police and Oswego State University carried on the tradition.

The statewide torch relay began recently according to Fulton Police Chief Orlo Green. “This is the Oswego County leg of the relay,” he added.

The runs are designed to focus attention on the Special Olympics.

The torch run came to New York in 1985.

Since 1981, the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics has raised more than $415 million, with a record $43 million raised in 2011 alone.

Locally, the runners began the more than 13-mile Oswego County leg of the run at the Oswego State’s University Police Department’s headquarters on Iroquois rail on campus, and it concluded at the Fulton Municipal Building.

For safety, they had an escort of police vehicles the entire route.

A crowd greeted the runners in Fulton. Several other snapped photos of the runners along the route.

Oswego Councilors Agree To Seek Lower ‘Bed Tax’

At its meeting in June, the Common Council approved decreasing the city’s tentative bed tax rate from 5% to 1%.

Councilors reconsidered Resolution No. 220 of 2013, which authorized the mayor to execute all documents necessary to state legislators and other state agencies to request authorization for and empower the Port City to adopt a local law for the purpose of imposing a city of Oswego room occupancy tax law.

In May, Councilor Ron Kaplewicz, council president, had proposed a bed tax that “shall not exceed 5% of the per diem rental rate for each room” and that the proceeds be designated equally for promotion and tourism and for the general obligations of the city.

The council passed Resolution 220 at its May 28 meeting by a vote of 4-2-1.

Voting yes were councilors Fran Enwright, Mike Myers, Erik VanBuren and Kaplewicz. Mike Todd and Dan Donovan voted no and Shawn Walker was absent.

“Officially, it passed. It now goes to the State Legislature for consideration,” Kaplewicz said following the meeting. “The legislation says ‘may not exceed 5%.’ We will, as a council, set that rate. Our goal is to fill every hotel room in the city but we need a dedicated revenue stream to accomplish that goal.”

Citing the potential for future declines in revenue, he said, “We need to start looking and turning over every stone as a city. Or, some day, our property taxpayers … won’t like the outcome.”

Tri-Oswego Tests Area Athletes’ Prowess

For the third straight year, the annual Tri-Oswego triathlon successfully wrapped up another competition on the shores of Lake Ontario in the Port City.

More than 300 men and women took on one of the several challenges the event offered. Competitors could either take on an intermediate triathlon or the sprint triathlon.

The race began with swimming in Wright’s Landing Marina and local police blocked off roads from the nearby neighborhood for the cycling and running portions of the race, with the finish line at Breitbeck Park.

The top men’s finisher for the third year in a row was Brad DePoint from Fulton.

“It’s awesome,” DePoint said of his title defense.

Tri-athletes train year round to stay in shape for the grueling challenge of participating in triathlons.

To maintain his mental edge for the race, DePoint said he keeps his preparations simple.

“Just go,” DePoint said. “A lot of family, trainers and friends supported me.”

The female winner, Sascha Scott of Syracuse, completed her last triathlon five years ago.

“It was a long race,” Scott said.

Prior to her five-year absence, Scott took part in a total of five other triathlons; the Tri-Oswego is her first victory.

Former WRVO General Manager John Krauss dies

Former WRVO general manager and on-air host John Krauss, 64, died Monday June 17, 2013, in Oswego.

Krauss was one of the longest serving station administrators in public broadcasting having held various managerial titles for more than 40 years, 14 as general manager. He retired in 2010.

Krauss started at the then ten-watt WRVO on January 6, 1969 – the day the station signed on the air at SUNY Oswego. WRVO’s primary transmitter at Oswego now broadcasts at 50,000 watts.

“It would be impossible to overstate John’s contribution to the growth of WRVO over the years,” said current WRVO general manager Michael Ameigh. “When he took over as general manager WRVO had five full-time staff members. At the time of his retirement the staff numbered 17. He was first and foremost an engineer whose understanding of signal propagation and other technical aspects of broadcasting resulted in expansion to a network of 10 transmitters serving at least 20 counties of upstate New York.”

To many WRVO listeners Krauss may have been best known as the long-time host of ‘The WRVO Playhouse,’ a nightly rebroadcast of national network radio programs from the 1930s-1950s.

Gary Mix Chosen as Oswego Interim Superintendent of Schools

Gary Mix was appointed as the Oswego City School District Interim Superintendent of Schools. The Oswego City School District Board of Education unanimously approved the appointment at the June 18 regular meeting.

“I am very pleased and excited to become a part of the Oswego City School District educational community. My approach to my responsibilities will not be to be a ‘placeholder’ or to keep the superintendent’s seat ‘warm’ for the next superintendent. I want to contribute to implementation of effective practices that enhance outstanding student performance as well as a common vision for the future of our district,” he said.

In his previous positions Mix has provided the momentum for impressive improvement.

He said, “During the course of my tenure as Superintendent of Schools in Pembroke we were successful in establishing a team approach that allowed our students performance to consistently and significantly improve. With everyone working together we were able to move from being in the bottom third of Genesee County to be ranked as the highest performing school district in our three county area.”

Alan Jones denied parole

The Oswego County man who killed his 11-year-old step-sister was denied parole in June.

Alan Jones is serving five to 15 years in prison for the death of Erin Maxwell back in 2008. His charge was reduced from murder to manslaughter earlier this year – in effect – lowering his sentencing.

The denial means that Jones will not be eligible for release again until June 2015.

Former Oswego Resident Donates ‘Circus’ To RR Museum

The circus came to town, thanks to a former Port City resident.

David Dice presented the Oswego Railroad Museum the circus layout he built over the last few years.

“I want people to in joy it. My grandchildren and there children and family can see it and say, ‘My Grandfather made this.’ I am so happy to be able to do this,” he said.

It took him more than three years (“maybe four”) to do.

“I just did it a little bit at a time; as I found the very old kits on E-Bay. Jackie did the big top,” he said.

Now that he has cleared out some space – what’s next?

“I don’t know right now. But, I will find some thing,” he replied.