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2014 In Review: In March – Oswego Man Wins $1 Million Birthday Gift

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

John Spotswood of Oswego celebrated his 50th birthday with the usual flurry of phone calls and cards from family and friends. It wasn’t until the following day that the nuclear power plant technician opened a card from his sister and realized what a life changing experience birthdays can be.

“I got home from work and my sister had left a birthday card and three scratch-offs in it and a cheese cake in the mailbox,” Spotswood said at the official announcement at KTM. “I scratched the first one off and I won $25 on the first ticket. Didn’t win nothing on the second. The third one, scratched that one all off (A Jumbo Bucks ticket) and I seen the ‘jackpot’ and I said, ‘Wow.’ I couldn’t believe it.”

Spotswood scratched the $5 Lottery ticket and revealed an “Autowin” coin symbol with the word “Jackpot” printed beneath – making him $1 million richer in an instant.

He said he thought maybe his sister was playing a joke on him.

The New York Lottery’s Yolanda Vega presented an over-sized prize check to Spotswood at the KTM Mini Mart, 2203 County Route 1, Oswego, as a small crowd of friends, store employees, customers and the media applauded.

The prize was designed to be paid out in 20 annual installments. However, Spotswood opted to take the cash value of the annuity prize. As a result, he will receive a one-time payment of $840,000.

“If I had won a thousand, I would have been happy,” he said.

Nine Mile 2 Shut Down in Response to Electrical Issue

Unit 2 at Constellation Energy Nuclear Group’s Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station was manually shut down at approximately 1:45 a.m. March 3 due to an electrical component failure on the non-nuclear side of the plant. All safety systems responded as designed and the plant went offline as expected, safely and without incident.

Unit 2 Operators took immediate and appropriate action based upon plant parameters to shut down the unit in accordance with their procedures and training.

Station personnel investigated the cause of the shutdown and took actions to complete necessary repairs in order to return the unit to service.

The plant was communicating with the regional grid operator and the temporary shutdown wasn’t expected to impact electrical service to homes and businesses in the region.

Project To Upgrade Oswego’s Water Treatment Plant Moves Ahead

Oswego councilors heard an update March 3 on a project that will increase the efficiency of the Water Department.

Prior to the start of committee meetings, councilors heard a presentation by the City Water Department and Wendel Energy Services regarding the Efficiency Study and Performance Contract.

“The purpose of this is to give you an update on the efficiency study and performance contract,” said Brian Folgherait, plant manager of the Water Department. “It’s about 80 percent done at this point.”

The Water Treatment Plant is in need of upgrades to improve energy efficiency and water production capacity, and reduce operational and maintenance costs, he said.

He contracted with NYSERDA and Wendel Energy Services to conduct the study.

Based on the results of the NYSERDA Study, the city of Oswego may issue a request for qualifications from energy services companies for an energy performance contract to design and implement selected upgrades.

At this time, the Water Department’s primary need is to increase the through put capacity of the plant.

“Currently, the bottleneck in the plant is the filtering process due to the lost efficiencies of the 40-year-old under drain design and media system,” Folgherait told the councilors. “It’s highly inefficient.”

Three Decades of Port of Oswego Revenues Highlighted

The Port of Oswego Authority examined three decades of revenues from its operations, starting from 1985. The fiscal year for the POA starts April 1 and ends on the following March 31. Following each fiscal year, a professional audit is completed, submitted to the POA and recorded for public and New York State review.

A very interesting statistic in each audited report is the total revenues for the fiscal year.

Those revenues accrue from the fees charged for the docking of vessels, the handling and storage of a variety of commodities, and marina revenues.

The thirty-year period was examined on an annual fiscal year basis, and the total revenues for each year were recorded. The fiscal years were then grouped into five-year periods, e.g., 1985-90, 1990-95, etc., for ease of reporting.

For each five-year period, the average annual and the total amounts were listed in tabular form.

During the 1985-90 years, each fiscal year averaged less than $1 million, and the total revenues were $4.61 million. The averages and totals increased gradually to $1.37 million and $6.84 million during the years, 1995-2000.

During the subsequent five-year period (2000-2005), both average and total revenues dropped to $1.23 million and $6.16 million.

The following two periods have seen a dramatic increase in both average and total annual revenues.

During the 2005-2010 periods, the average annual revenues were $2.65 million, and the total annual revenues were $13.23 million, more than double the previous period.

The final five-year period (2010-15) still has a year to go. During this period, the first annual revenue level of $3 million was reached and exceeded (during 2010-11) when the annual revenues were $3.61 million.

Synthetic Legislation Closes Legal Loopholes

Assemblyman Will Barclay was joined March 4 by fellow lawmakers from the state Senate and Assembly and Upstate Poison Control officials at a press conference to ban synthetic drugs. Joining them was Teresa Woolson and her family, who are advocating for stronger laws regarding synthetic drug use. In 2012, Woolson’s son, Victor, died from injuries related to synthetic drug use.

Banning synthetic drugs has been a challenge because New York and the Federal Government outlaw drugs based on their chemical compounds. Because these drugs are synthetic, manufacturers have been able to slightly change their chemical composition so they are no longer on the state’s controlled substance list and therefore no longer illegal.

In addition, synthetic drugs are often mislabeled and sold as products other than drugs (i.e., bath salts, shoe deodorant and incense).  However, the seller and the purchaser realize that the intended use of the synthetic drug is to provide a high for the user.

The new legislation announced addresses mislabeling, chemical swapping and creates penalties for possessing and selling synthetic drugs equivalent to their “street drug” counterpart.

The bill contains two key provisions: (i) broader power is given to the Commissioner of Health to add synthetic drugs and their chemical compounds to the controlled substance list, rather than having the legislature act to add to the controlled substance list; and (ii) stores will be penalized for selling mislabeled products when they are clearly intended to be used as drugs.

United Way Salutes Its Volunteers

A large crowd braved an impending snowstorm to help the United Way of Greater Oswego County honor its legions of volunteers. The organization’s 76th annual meeting and salute to volunteers was held at The American Foundry.

“This is our opportunity to say ‘thanks’ to all of the dedicated, hard-working individuals in our community that work together to make the 2013- 2014 United Way campaign such a success,” said Melanie Trexler, executive director of the United Way of Greater Oswego County. “It is an honor to recognize all of you. I want to personally thank you for all your efforts this past year.”

Their efforts have helped seniors maintain their independence, helped youth develop to their full potential, assisted special needs residents and strengthened families, Trexler said.

“It is indeed our community, and, it is personal to us and all of you,” she said. “I thank you for your selfless involvement in our common cause. Your dedication is truly an inspiration.”

Kathy Fenlon, United Way board president, cited the United Way’s staff, board of directors and legion of volunteers for all they have done to improve the quality of life all over the county.

“I have really gained a deeper perspective of Oswego County and the tremendous impact that the United Way of Greater Oswego County has on our community,” she said.

“Today, we are really here to thank and pay tribute to every one of you, the many citizens throughout our county who have made significant contributions to this year’s United Way campaign,” said campaign chair Robert Rolfe.

College Hockey Team’s Bus Crashes Into Canale’s

A bus being used to carry a men’s college hockey team to a game at Oswego State crashed into Canale’s Italian restaurant on March 12. No one was injured, according to police.

Bowdoin College was visiting from Maine to play Oswego State in the first round of the NCAA Division III Tournament.

Oswego City Police said no one was on the bus when it slid into the building. It appeared an air brake system may have failed.

The bus damaged an awning, but there was no other structural damage to the restaurant.

The game against the Lakers was postponed for a day.

Oswego State also cancelled classes for the day.

Part-Time City Court Judge Appointed

Mayor Tom Gillen announced the appointment of David J. Roman as part-time Oswego City Court Judge, effective March 17.

Roman, 63, a native of Rome, NY, received his juris doctor degree from Albany Law School, and a bachelor of science from Cornell University. He practiced law in the city of Oswego from 1976 through 1988.

He was elected Oswego County Family Court Judge in November, 1988, and served in that capacity through December 31, 2008. He also served as an Oswego County Court Judge in 2010.

For the last five years, he had served as a Judicial Hearing Officer in the Onondaga County Family Court in Syracuse.

Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station Unit 2 Returned to Service

Constellation Energy Nuclear Group’s Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station Unit 2 was back online and achieved 100 percent March 9. Station personnel completed necessary repairs and post-maintenance testing in order to return the unit to service.

The plant had been safely shutdown due to an on-site electrical component failure on the non-nuclear side of the plant.

Rudy’s Opening Heralds The Arrival Of Spring

Spring unofficial arrived March 19 with the opening of Rudy’s. Local residents know Spring returns as soon as the historic little restaurant nestled on the shore of Lake Ontario at The Loop throws open its doors.

“Everything tastes better on opening day,” one of the first customers said. “Then it tastes even better during the summer!”

More than a dozen cars lined up in front of the eatery shortly before its scheduled 10 a.m. opening; by 10 a.m., close to three dozen patrons had already been served.

The first patron to place an order again this season was Debbie Gilmore.

Garrison Earl, 2, continued his life-long tradition of attending opening day at Rudy’s.

“When he was just three months old, he came to his first opening day,” his grandmother, Ann Tuanley, told Oswego County Today. “He gets so excited when you say we’re going to Rudy’s. His traditional meal is a Texas hot and fries (with gravy to dip them in).”

Oswego Speedway Ranked Nationally Among America’s Favorite Tracks

For the second consecutive year Oswego Speedway was ranked in the Top 5 among America’s favorite race tracks according to National Speed Sport News Magazine.

Each off-season National Speed Sport News conducts a reader poll across thousands of motorsports enthusiasts and race fans in the United States to determine America’s Top 10 Favorite Race Tracks. After placing fifth overall in the 2013 poll, Oswego Speedway climbed to third in the overall rankings in 2014 behind only Rossburg, Ohio’s Eldora Speedway and Knoxville, Iowa’s Knoxville Raceway.

“Oswego Speedway is no doubt one of the more captivating racing facilities in the country,” said Dan Kapuscinski, Oswego Speedway public relations director. “When you walk through the steel gates at Oswego, you feel as though you have walked into a piece of motorsports history. The Caruso family, the founding fathers of our great Speedway helped to make that happen 64-years ago, and the Torrese family is doing all they can to continue our great tradition of excellence in Supermodified racing. We thank our amazing race fans for continuing to support our facility and we welcome everyone to Oswego Speedway this coming May.”

National Speed Sport News has been known as “The bible of Motorsports.”

Oswego Speedway, founded in 1951 by Harry Caruso and family, has been known as the ‘Home of Supermodifieds’ since 1961, remaining the only auto racing facility in the world to host weekly Supermodified racing culminating with the richest Supermodified race in the world, the Budweiser International Classic 200 held each Labor Day Weekend.

St. Baldrick’s Fundraiser Draws Huge Crowd

At the Lake Ontario Event and Conference Center in Oswego more than 200 people were helping to raise money to fund research for childhood cancer.

The eighth annual St. Baldrick’s fundraiser was held at the conference center for the second year. Previously, it had been held in the food court of SUNY Oswego’s Campus Center.

Scores of volunteer shavees had their heads shaved to raise money to fund research for childhood cancer. On one side of the center there was a silent auction for a myriad items and raffles for dozens more.

“There are several children in our own community who have fought and are fighting this terrible disease,” said John Sheffield, a volunteer for the event. “In fact, there is one young community member who without the help of St. Baldrick’s would likely be dead today.”

In 2013, their efforts brought in more than $93,000. For 2014, the goal was set at $100,000.

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a volunteer-driven charity committed to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long and healthy lives, according to local coordinator Dan Witmer.

“I have a good feeling we’re going to hit our goal,” he told Oswego County Today. “I’ve organized annual St. Baldrick’s events in Oswego since 2007.”