2013 In Review: In September Smooth Opening for New School Year

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

More than 4,000 students commenced the new year in the Oswego City School District on September 4. Interim Superintendent of Schools Gary Mix was touched by the positive atmosphere that permeated the district on opening day.

He said, “Watching the many examples of care and concern for our students helped to energize my thinking and my pride in being an educator. In my visits to buildings I was pleased to note how friendly, welcoming and helpful the faculty and staff were to students and parents.”

Board of Education President Kathleen Allen said, “I visited a few schools on opening day and it was great to see so much excitement in our district buildings again. I am looking forward to a great year in the Oswego City School District.”

Continuing, Mix noted, “As Cathy Chamberlain (Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and Curriculum) and I visited the buildings we had the pleasure of observing some wonderful examples of proficient planning and excellent implementation of effective lesson plans.”

The first to arrive to begin the 2013-14 school year were Oswego High School, The BUC and Oswego Middle School students as they departed their buses shortly before 7:30 a.m.  Just over an hour and fifteen minutes later the five elementary schools came to life as nearly 2,200 students arrived.

OPD’s Quality of Life patrols active over holiday weekend

Over the Labor Day weekend, the Oswego City Police Department deployed additional personnel to address quality of life concerns in residential neighborhoods. This detail consisted of marked, unmarked and foot patrols.

A total of 33 individuals were arrested as a result of the detail.

Oswego Officials Hope To Revitalize River Fishing

Some Oswego businessmen and city officials were looking for ways to reinvigorate the local fishing industry – specifically along the Oswego River.

Some changes have been made along the river that are impacting everyone, Council President Ron Kaplewicz pointed out at September’s Administrative Services Committee meeting.

“We are not fish friendly; we may be a lake friendly city for fishing, but I’m not sure we’re river friendly,” he said. “In our heyday on this river, literally from September through November, you could find folks on both sides of the river … standing shoulder to shoulder fishing on that Oswego River. You don’t see that anymore. And, that concerns me. There are tourism dollars being lost. And, certainly, businesses are suffering.”

Phil Reitz, owner of the Reitz Dinner, told the councilors that the city’s promotion of river fishing has been “lackluster.”

“I’ve seen the decline (in fishing) probably from about 1992 to today. When I was about 11 years old, I ran a hot dog stand behind the restaurant (along the river) and it was just how you said – shoulder to shoulder,” he said. “We had people who had been coming for like 30 years. Those people aren’t here anymore.”

He took over the dinner in 2006. His fall sales have declined “somewhere around 60 percent” because of the lack of (river) fishing tourism, he told the committee.

The decline can be blamed, in part, on the recent poor economy, he said. It’s also due to “DEC harassment,” he continued.

Other factors include over-regulation on where fishing is allowed, lifejacket requirements and siren warnings forcing people out of the water.

“We’re very aware of what’s going on,” Kaplewicz agreed. “I would suggest that, through the Mayor’s Office, we can have a sit-down with Brookfield (Renewable Energy Group, operators of the hydroelectric station in the Oswego River) again (along with others including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission).

Kites Soar At Fort Ontario

OSWEGO, NY – The skies over historic Fort Ontario were filled with rain – and kites in September.

Dozens of people, young and old, braved the elements to take part in the annual kite fest event.

Some crafters, artists, artisans and others pulled up stakes and sought drier locations; others hunkered down outside the landmark until the skies cleared.

Members of the New York Kite Enthusiasts (NYKE) said Fort Ontario is perhaps the best place in the state to fly a kite.

“There is a lot of wind,” said Todd Brown of Fulton. “However, it is swirling around and come down, shoving a lot of the kites down. I am trying to find a spot where the wind is more calm.”

Rhylan Botsford of South Granby was flying a kite for the very first time. It was fun, she said, once her kite finally got airborne and started to soar upward.

It’s her new most favorite thing, she added.

Tom Shanken is member of NYKE as well as a member of the Friends of Fort Ontario’s board.

“It used to be huge,” he said of the festival. “Then they had the close the fort scare and now the past couple of years, the weather hasn’t cooperated. But we’ll bring it back. We had a real good crowd earlier (before the rain showers) and people are starting to come back now.”

Dragon Boats Churn Up Lake For A Good Cause

For the second time in as many years, the Oswego Dragon Festival filled Breitbeck Park with boats, music, and drum beating. The long dragon boats raced along Lake Ontario’s waters while fundraising for the Oswego YMCA’s Strong Kids Campaign.

Racing began at 9 a.m. with the final race happening around 3 p.m.

Teams consisted of 20 paddlers to row the 40-foot long boats on a 200m course. Along with paddlers a drummer and someone to steer were also inside boats.

Bob Klose, a member of the Lake Effect Lizards and employee at the nine mile point station, said the festival was a great experience for his team.

“We enjoy the competition, team spirit and gathering,” Klose said. “It’ll be great seeing it continue to grow.”

This year’s event featured 32 teams total, 10 of which were corporate sponsors, 16 community not-for-profit teams and six student teams.

Along with the team tents were food vendors and music. Kids were able to keep busy in “Dragonland,” which consisted of face painting, karate demo, ParKour Demo, air hops and crafts.

Teams were allowed a practice run before the event to get accustomed to the boats, which were provided by the YMCA along with paddles and life jackets.

Dragon boats are an ancient Chinese boat which is believed to have originated 2,500 years ago.

More Evidence of West Nile Virus Found

The New York State Department of Health notified the Oswego County Health Department that further evidence of the West Nile virus was found in two different mosquito pools that were submitted for testing on September 6. Both pools were located in the town of West Monroe.

The Oswego County Health Department urges people to continue to protect themselves against mosquitoes.

City Plans To Enter Into Updated Water Deal With Novelis, Scriba

At the September 16 Administrative Service Committee meeting, Gay Williams, city attorney, requested council authorization for Mayor Gillen to enter into the proposed Water Supply Agreement between the Novelis Corporation, the town of Scriba and the city of Oswego.

“The city and Novelis have been discussing this contract for many months,” she said. “The prior agreement expired in January 2012. We have drastically changed it because of Novelis’ expansion.”

Water is now supplied through the city’s 36-inch line through Scriba.

The 10-year agreement calls for 2.88 million gallons of water per year, “which is considerably more than Novelis was previously using,” she added.

If Novelis comes back to the city with a request for additional water, which calls for any capital improvements on the part of the city, Novelis will participate in that cost.

The committee sent the request to the full council for approval.

Bishop Cunningham Appoints New Superintendent of Catholic Schools

On September 24, Bishop Robert Cunningham said he was pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. William W. Crist as the new Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Syracuse. The Diocese of Syracuse is comprised of 22 schools in its seven-county area with more than 5,000 students Pre-K-12.

Crist comes to the diocese with a career history in education of 31 years.  Since August, he has been the Interim Superintendent of Schools for the Massena Central School District.  Prior to that he was Superintendent of Schools for the Oswego City School District since 2008, and Assistant Superintendent prior to that time, since 2004.

He and his family are active Catholics and members of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Minetto.

“I eagerly anticipate the challenges and experiences associated with transitioning to the Roman Catholic educational program and sharing my instructional leadership and Catholic faith with professionals, parishioners, parents and children,” Crist said.

Bishop Cunningham added, “I am most pleased to welcome Bill Crist as our new Superintendent of Catholic Schools and am very happy that he has accepted our invitation to join us.  I am also most grateful to the Search Committee who prayerfully and professionally considered each of the twelve applicants.”

Crist will begin his new post on March 10, 2014, in order to complete his current responsibilities.

Oswego City School District Superintedency Two Finalists Set

The Oswego City School District was also moving forward in the search for the next leader of the district.

The Board of Education and the stakeholder committee finished with the preliminary interview process leaving two candidates for the final interviews with the Board of Education.

The two finalists were Benjamin Halsey and Anita Murphy. Both candidates come to the final round of interviews with extensive experience in education.

Halsey was currently the Superintendent of North Collins Central School. During his nine-year tenure with the district the expansion of Advanced Placement courses and corresponding honors classes  and a graduation rate of 96.3% with a 40% low wealth population are just a few of the accomplishments he brings with him.

Murphy was serving as the Deputy Superintendent of Schools for the City of Rochester. Prior to her serving in that role she was the Associate Commissioner of Education for Curriculum for the New York State Education Department. As the Deputy Superintendent she is responsible for the implementation of all aspects of the Regents Reform Agenda, including, but not limited to APPR, common core implementation, data driven decision-making and state reporting.

The board was hopeful that a final decision would be made within a month.

Incident Near Elementary School Results in Lock Out

On September 30, at 3:08 p.m. the Oswego City Police were dispatched by 911 to a report of “a suicidal male with a gun” on West Third Street.  It was confirmed the man was alone in the residence and was not a threat to anyone outside the area.

Kingsford Park School was notified of the situation and as a precaution the school was locked out. At no time were students in danger, police and district officials said.

The subject was contacted via phone by Oswego City Police and Oswego County Sheriff Crisis negotiators. At approximately 4:23 p.m. the subject voluntarily exited the residence and was taken into custody without incident.

Oswego police officers conducted a search of the residence and there was no firearm located.

The man was taken into custody under the NYS Mental Hygiene Law and no criminal charges were filed.