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2015 In Review: February – Dozens Welcome Julian Home

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

Dozens of people stood in frigid temperatures on February 2 in Oswego Town to welcome home a young boy in the final stages of neuroblastoma.

Julian Ross had just completed another round of tests in Maryland. His family documented the journey on Facebook.

“This is the hardest post I’ve ever had to write,” Julian’s father, Steve Ross, wrote. “Julian’s tests revealed that the neuroblastoma has taken over too much, too fast. There is nothing more that (can) be done.”

Told the time had come to prepare for hospice care, the family returned to Oswego County, where dozens of people gathered on their front lawn to welcome Julian home.

Julian’s parents were honest. He knew the latest results were not good and he was all too aware of the devastating news his family is facing.

Judge Upholds NLR Board’s Findings
An Administrative Law Judge upheld the National Labor Relations Board’s findings that Novelis in Scriba committed extraordinary violations of labor law, making it impossible to hold a fair election for union representation.

The company was facing an order to bargain with the United Steelworkers Union, even after employees narrowly voted against unionizing in 2014. About 570 votes were cast.  The union needed a majority to win, but fell 14 votes short.

A press release on behalf of plant manager Chris Smith indicated the company was planning to fight unionization as long as possible.

Salvation Army Graduates First Group In Bridging The Gap Program
The Oswego Salvation Army graduated three students in the inaugural session of  the “Bridging the Gap Between Youth and Community Services” program developed by The Salvation Army.

It is the first time the program has been offered in New York State.

The graduation ceremonies took place Feb. 5, during the conclusion of the 12-week program.

“Bridging the Gap is an innovative program focusing on either prevention or intervention for court involved at-risk youth ages 16-19,” said Major Kathryn Purvis. “We are very excited to bring this program to Oswego. We’ve seen this program work when we were posted in Massachusetts and we were eager to start it here.”

Through the curriculum, Bridging the Gap Between Youth and Community Services offers a diversion program that approaches criminal behavior head-on among youthful offenders by providing specific and useful alternatives for unhealthy behavior.

Goals of the program are to:
• Remove the arrest from the juvenile’s criminal record;
• Lower recidivism rates;
• Have students graduate from high school or complete a GED and
• Improve student communications with parents, teachers and police.

Major Purvis noted that this program “continues our mission of working with the Oswego city and county community.”

The program serves to ‘bridge the gap’ between youth and community services by working cooperatively and effectively with the Oswego County District Attorney’s office, County Probation Department, local law enforcement, schools and health care organizations.

Oswego Warms Up For Annual Festival
In early February, the Port City celebrated what the area is best known for – Winter.

This year marked the 10th annual Warm Up Oswego festival. In 2006, the YMCA adopted the festival in order to raise money to renovate the Armory and to create more programs. Temperature sunk near 30; the windchill made it feel even colder. However, the hundreds of people braved the weather in and around the downtown Oswego didn’t seem to mind.

Throughout the afternoon, hundreds of people wandered around the Civic Plaza and two floors of King Arthur’s Suites to check out the vendors’ wares and watch the various demonstrations and performances.

At one point, the unofficial count put the afternoon’s visitors at more than 1,600  — and that’s not counting the large crowd that turned out to view the 6 p.m. fireworks display by Pyrotechnico.

Nathan Emmons, festival chair, welcomed the large crowd to the opening ceremonies.

“This festival gives us the opportunity to celebrate Oswego’s fabulous winters. Today, we’re going to show the world that Oswego is one hot town!” Mayor Tom Gillen said. “This is the 10th annual festival. I want to say thank you to Mary Vanouse for all the work she’s done over the years to make this festival happen.”

211 Program Highlights County’s Human Service Agencies
Call it the ‘yellow pages’ for the new millennium.

Legislator Terry Wilbur announced at February’s county legislature meeting that Oswego County now had the informational system. “We’re the last area of the state to come onboard with 211,” he said. “We’re finally at that point; yesterday, February 11 (2-11) was the launch of this program,” he said.

Wilbur has been working with the United Way of Greater Oswego County to implement the program. He introduced Melanie Trexler, executive director of the United Way.

“I want to thank Terry. He has been a great partner in this very worthwhile effort. 211 is the number for information on human services for our community,” she said. “We’re one of the last to get it. Finally, we got money in the state budget so we could bring it to fruitarian.”

Cheryl Derusso, director of community contact who has worked to get all the human service information from Oswego County into the 211 data base, Trexler said.

“If you go to 211cny.com (.org will also work) it will take you to the 211 site and you’ll see the home page. There is an “all topics” bar. That is the first way you can search,” Derusso explained. “There is a check box on the side, if you click Oswego County, you will get all the resources here as well as in surrounding counties that may also serve the citizens of Oswego County.”

You can also get in by clicking on (Oswego County) the map, which will take you to “all topics.” You can also use the search bar. Or you can use the pictures on the home page; click the photo that represents your needs, click Oswego County and the records for Oswego County will be displayed.

At the bottom of the page is a “focus on resources.” It will be topical according to the season. Currently, it is featuring heat issues and taxes.

“We have taken information that has been provided to us from the folks in Oswego County and we have put it all in this data base,” she said. “We really encourage you to go in and poke around. If you find something that is important to you that is very near and dear to your heart and you want to check that it is in there and in there correctly – please do so.”

The service is 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

College Officials Take Exception To Drug Ranking
“Drugs On Campus,” a report by Project Know, a website that provides information about getting help for drug addictions, analyzed drug and alcohol arrests and disciplinary actions on campuses in 2013, the most recent data available. It showed that several SUNY campuses have some of the nation’s highest rates of on-campus drug arrests.

The analysis was limited to colleges with at least 5,000 students.

Eight of the top 50 schools with the highest rate of drug arrests per capita are part of the 64-campus SUNY system; SUNY New Paltz was rated No. 1 — 13.9 per 1,000 students. In second place is SUNY Oswego.

“The Project Know ranking looks only at drug arrests. Unlike Oswego, many colleges, especially private ones, deal with such incidents as marijuana violations not with arrests but through their internal disciplinary procedures,” said Julie Harrison Blissert, Director of Public Affairs. “SUNY Oswego’s rate of drug arrests would fall from about 12.5 to 1.5 per 1,000 if we did the same. And, we would not appear in the ranking at all. In my opinion, a fairer ranking would combine the numbers of arrests and disciplinary actions, both of which all colleges are required to report to the U.S. Department of Education.”

Part of the reason that there are so many on-campus arrests may be that each SUNY campus has an actual police force.

“The health and safety of our students is a top priority for SUNY and I am concerned that the SUNY numbers are not a true reflection of the amount of drug use happening on our campuses in comparison to others nationwide,” SUNY’s University Police Commissioner Bruce McBride told Oswego County Today. “On each of these campuses, for example, we are fortunate to have University Police forces exclusively patrolling the campus, while many other public and private institutions rely solely on local law enforcement agencies. Having a dedicated, community-oriented police department located right on campus likely results in our officers discovering or being called to incidents of recreational drug use more frequently.”