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2014 In Review: Man Rescued From Rooftop of Burning Building

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

Oswego Fire Department units were dispatched to a structure fire at 2:46 p.m. Aug. 1 at 183 W. Fifth St. Initial reports were of a man trapped on a roof and black smoke coming from the house.

Crews rescued the occupant off of the roof immediately and assisted him to the ground with a ladder. The man was later transported to Oswego Hospital for an evaluation.

Once the occupant on the roof was rescued, crews forced entry and found active fire in the front hallway which was quickly extinguished. Other personnel searched the multiple apartments in the building for other victims.

With those searches being negative, crews overhauled the building, looking for concealed fire in the walls and attic. OFD personnel reported intense heat and smoke throughout the structure, but no fire extension. The fire was knocked down quickly and overhauling took nearly an hour to ensure it was completely out.

Crews were assisted at the scene by the Oswego Police Department, Oswego County Fire Coordinator OS-600, and the Oswego County Mobile Cascade Unit. This cascade unit allows firefighters to refill breathing air cylinders at the scene.

Dozens Rally In Support of Gary Thibodeau

Richard Thibodeau said Aug. 4 that he wants justice for his brother and for Heidi Allen’s family. Gary Thibodeau was convicted of kidnapping the New Haven teen on Easter Sunday 1994. Her body has never been found. In 1995, he was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. Richard Thibodeau was acquitted in a separate jury trial.

“We need to have justice; not just for my brother, but for the Allen family. They need justice, they need to put the right people behind bars,” Richard Thibodeau said. “I’d love to tell them where their daughter is. But I don’t have a clue.”

The rally in Oswego’s East Park came on the heels of recent searches at the site of a collapsed cabin in a wooded area in the town of Mexico. Following a lengthy search, it was concluded that no human remains were ever there, according to District Attorney Greg Oakes.

The “Gary the Innocent” rally was held to spread the word that his kidnapping conviction should be overturned, Amanda Crawford, Richard’s step-daughter, told Oswego County Today.

“He was railroaded.  We want to bring awareness that Gary is innocent. In light of the new evidence, we had to do something,” she said. “We want him to know that there are people that support him. Another reason is to let the Oswego County Sheriff’s Department to know that we seek the truth. We want the truth to come out. We want them to search every avenue for it. They haven’t been so hopefully, they will now.”

Richard said he hopes his brother is aware of what is going on.

“He has some hope now of getting out,” he said. “Hopefully, it ends for us and it ends for the Allen family. I hope they find her. That’s my hope; that they really find her so that it will exonerate him. These people are going through a lot … I feel bad for them. But there’s nothing I can do for them. I can’t tell them where their daughter is because I have no clue.”

Midway Drive-In Rebuilding Fundraiser A Huge Success

I’m pleased to report that our initial weekend fundraiser/T-shirt sale at the Midway and Harborfest was a fantastic success, said John Nagelschmidt of Midway Drive-In.

The support from the community was amazing and the girls from Troop 10101- so dedicated- so professional, exceeded their goal for T-shirt/bracelet sales by selling out of product (1,300 T-shirts and 1,000 bracelets) and then resorting to taking orders for additional shirts.

The funds provided the additional funds needed for the first required downpayment ($46,380) on a new screen tower. The order had been placed and they had a reserved place in the production schedule, with three more additional payments required before completion.

“Our insurance carrier (Dryden) has been very fair and done all it can to expedite a just insurance settlement. It’s my misfortune that I had grossly underestimated the cost for a complete rebuild using present state building codes with designed steel construction,” Nagelschmidt said. “I wished I could say it’s a done deal and that the fundraising was over, but there are still three additional payments coming up and we’re still asking for help to make those payments.”

It wasn’t long after that the Midway was back in the business of showing movies.

SUNY Oswego’s Start-Up NY Plan Wins State Approval

Empire State Development approved SUNY Oswego’s Start-Up NY campus plan. The college could begin reviewing applications from businesses interested in partnering with the college in the Start-Up NY initiative.

“I am very pleased to announce that our campus plan is fully approved by the state of New York,” said college President Deborah F. Stanley. “Advancing our academic mission while creating jobs for our region is an exciting opportunity for our college, which is already an economic anchor in Central New York and the largest employer in Oswego County.”

Oswego’s newly approved plan designates more than nine acres of land and nearly 10,500 square feet of office space as Start-Up NY tax-free zones for business development.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo last October launched Start-Up NY, providing major incentives for qualifying businesses to relocate or expand through affiliations with colleges and universities. Businesses have the opportunity to operate free of state and local taxes on or near academic campuses.

Their employees will pay no state or local income taxes for 10 years.

The key qualification: The company must add new jobs, providing an economic lift to the surrounding community without endangering nearby competitors.

In Oswego, parcels along Route 104 near Romney Field House and near the Lake Ontario shore to the west of the main campus join space in the SUNY Oswego Phoenix Center and the Syracuse Tech Garden in the college’s initial efforts to attract new or expanding businesses to strengthen the regional economy and boost opportunities for students and faculty.

Fire Strikes Oswego Business, Apartments

At 7:35 p.m. Aug. 16, the Oswego Fire Department was dispatched to a reported structure fire at 142 E. Bridge St. An active fire was reported in a second floor apartment of the building.

Officials said the structure contained a hair salon and four apartments.

Although the fire was knocked down quickly by firefighters, an apartment was heavily damaged by the blaze. There was no report of injuries.

The cause of the fire was said to be electrical and wasn’t considered suspicious, fire officials said.

Street Dedicated to Former Alderman

The Common Council approved dedication of the street between City Hall and Pathfinder Bank as “John M. Canale Drive.”

At the public session, city resident Miles Becker extolled the virtues of Canale.

“I’ve known him for years. But what’s impressed me the most is he spent four years in Europe (during World War II) without a break. I spent six months overseas and I got an R and R in Hawaii. I don’t think those guys got too many R and Rs,” he said. “Four straight years, without a break. That astounds me.”

Canale also fought in the Battle of the Bulge, “the greatest land battle of all time,” Becker noted.

Canale has spent nearly three-quarters of his life as a teacher and was also a city alderman for more than two decades.

A public dedication ceremony was planned.

Emergency Siren In Oswego Town Malfunctions

One of the emergency notification sirens surrounding the nuclear power plants in Scriba inadvertently activated during a thunderstorm in late August, possibly as the result of a lightning strike. There was no emergency at the three nuclear power plants.

Dale Currier, director of the Oswego County Emergency Management Office, said siren repair personnel from Exelon Generation responded to the site in the town of Oswego as soon as they were notified the siren was sounding.

The malfunction caused the siren to sound longer than the three minutes they are designed to sound.

The other sirens were functioning properly.

Oswego Councilor Braves The ‘Bucket Challenge’

Councilor Bill Barlow got drenched following one of the council committee meetings. It was all for a good cause as the freshman councilor from the Fifth Ward took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

Not just any old bucket would do for the hardy councilor. He opted for the bucket of a front end loader filled with gallons of frosty water and several bags of ice.

“That took my breath away! It was colder than I expected – a lot colder!” Barlow exclaimed after he was doused.

The ALS Bucket Challenge is to raise funds and awareness to help fight against ALS, the councilor explained.

The people who nominated Barlow each donated $100 to the cause and Barlow also added $100 to the pot.

Oswego School Board Names Principals, Interim Principal

The Oswego School Board adjusted the salaries for three administrators, hired two new principals and said goodbye to the district clerk in August.

The salary adjustments were as follows:

Peter Myles, director of personnel and human resources, $107,000; Nancy Squairs, business administrator, $104,000; and Dr. Dean Goewey, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, $120,000.

The board also approved the resignation of Brian Hartwell and Dr. Goewey (from his position as Minetto principal). Hartwell left his position as principal at OHS to become a superintendent elsewhere in the county.

Julie Kimmel-Gorman was appointed to fill Dr. Goewey’s former post as principal of Minetto Elementary School.

Earlier in the month, Larry Schmiegel, a Syracuse administrator, was appointed as the new principal of the Frederick Leighton Elementary School.

He officially commenced his duties on September 15.

And the meeting was Bill Foley’s last. His retirement was officially approved by the board.