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2015 In Review: July – Harborfest 28 Kicks Off In The Port City

Once again Entergy Nuclear presents the world class show of the Grucci family fireworks on July 25 at 9:30 p.m. at Oswego Harborfest. (Photo by Robert Clark)

Once again Entergy Nuclear presents the world class show of the Grucci family fireworks on July 25 at 9:30 p.m. at Oswego Harborfest. (Photo by Robert Clark)

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

The 28th annual festival was greeted by mild temperatures and mostly clear skies – with hundreds of people, young and old, ready to celebrate.

Opening night music started at 5:15 p.m. with Avalanche, the US Army Band followed at 7 p.m. by Nik and the Nice Guys. The party band from nearby Rochester got the festival off to a great start with many in the audience singing and dancing along with them.

There was a slight intermission at 8:30 p.m. for the opening ceremonies.

Harborfest officials recognized Chlarissia Crast. The recent graduate of G. Ray Bodley High School in Fulton created the artwork for the cover of this year’s program and T-shirts.

I’m so terribly nervous about going up on stage,” she said prior to receiving her honor.

Doug Buske, executive director, presented her with a framed copy of the official Harborfest poster. Another copy will be presented to the school at a later date.

“I’ll really have to thank the community and everybody here for the support we have had the last 28 years,” said Chena Tucker, president of the Harborfest Board of Directors.

Oswego School Board Names Officers For 2015-16 School Year
In a brief reorganizational meeting, the Oswego school board appointed its slate of officers for the 2015-2016 school year.

Kathleen Allen was re-elected as president.

Lynda Sereno was re-elected as vice president.

Prior to the meeting, Tom DeCastro and Sereno took the oath of office. The pair was re-elected to full three-terms on the board this past May.

The board then acted on various housekeeping items for the upcoming school year among which were several appointments.

Annual Fourth Of July Parade Attracts Thousands
Crowds lined West Bridge Street to catch a glimpse of the annual Oswego Independence Day Celebration parade. The event had something for everyone from marching bands to fire trucks.

Temperatures flirted with 80 degrees and a light breeze made it perfect to sit by the side of the road and watch the parade go by.

The parade came up West Bridge Street at 1 p.m. and headed east, passing large cheering crowds as it did so.

Many people have been attending the annual parade for years. For some it is a tradition to arrive several hours before the parade and stake out their favorite spots using lawn furniture and blankets. There is an unwritten parade law that you don’t disturb a location someone has already claimed.

While Oswego had hosted many parades on different occasions, it was during 1964 that friends and fellow Jaycee members Bill Green and Bill Gregway decided that Oswego needed a bigger event than just a fireworks display to celebrate our nation’s birthday.

The original parade had a budget of approximately $600 and started by Oswego Hospital, traveling east to Fort Ontario.

City Looks To Close Sheldon Beach During Harborfest
The action was being reconsidered to prevent any large parties at the beach, such as the one in 2013, which trashed the area.

On the night of the fireworks, at 7 p.m., the Police Department will allow access only for viewing of the fireworks, and will close the area at the conclusion of the fireworks until 7 a.m. July 27.

At the July 6 Physical Services Committee, Tory DeCaire, police chief, requested authorization to again close Sheldon Beach (north end of Sixth Avenue) during Harborfest.

The council approved the closure last year in response to the massive amount of junk and debris left behind following a raucous unauthorized party in the area during Harborfest 2013.

“We had some problems out there two years ago,” the chief said. “We closed it off last year and it worked out very well as far as not having any problems. We actually ran a chain fence across the entrance and we had signage, also.”

Careful monitoring of the area by city police and members of the SUNY Oswego University Police was in place during Harborfest weekend.

Outstanding Efforts of Emergency Medical Community Cited
Emergency Medical Services providers throughout Oswego County were recognized recently for their outstanding service in 2014 at the annual Emergency Medical Services awards banquet at the Lake Ontario Event and Conference Center, Oswego.

The Oswego County Emergency Medical Services Advisory Council, which organized the event, expressed appreciation for the major sponsors of the 2015 EMS awards banquet. This year’s gold sponsors were Oswego County Ambulance Service (Menter’s), Entergy, and Exelon Generation. Uniforms Etc. was a silver sponsor, while Oswego Health was a bronze sponsor. Jeff Paquette of Paquette Photography donated the photos of the presentations.

Also during the awards ceremony, Oswego County Legislature Vice Chairman Linda Lockwood (District 11, Volney), chairman of the Public Safety and Emergency Services Committee, presented EMSAC with a proclamation designating Emergency Medical Services Week in Oswego County. Legislator Lockwood was joined by Legislators Margaret Kastler (District 1, Sandy Creek) and Amy Tressider (District 16, Oswego).

“First responders, emergency medical technicians and paramedics stand ready to provide compassionate, lifesaving care to those in need 24 hours a day,” Legislator Lockwood read from the proclamation. “The members of EMS teams, both career and volunteer, engage in thousands of hours of specialized training and continuing education to enhance their life saving skills.” The proclamation by Oswego County Legislature Chairman Kevin Gardner urged the Oswego County community to observe the EMS week with the national theme of “EMS Strong.”

The banquet’s guest speaker, Dr. James Syrett of Oswego Health, told the group that while providers don’t make much money in the profession, “you’re in it because you enjoy it. You enjoy helping people.”

Heritage Foundation Lecture Focuses On Cahill Building, West Side Pier
Days of future past. Historically, Oswego’s waterfront was the city’s most vibrant area. Many residents hope that in the near future, the area can be resurrected to once again be an economic for in the Port City.

In July, Oswego City Historian Mark Slosek presented a program on the history of the Cahill’s Fish Market/Walton & Willett Stone Store and the development of the west side pier with an eye toward economic impact of each.

The Heritage Foundation of Oswego County event was hosted at the J. Richard Pfund Boating Center on Lake Street.

“We are pleased to host this event and support what the Heritage Foundation is doing in our community,” said Mercedes Niess, executive director of the maritime museum.

Austin Wheelock, president of the Heritage Foundation, welcomed the crowd of nearly four dozen area residents.

“Heritage was formed in 1962 as a grassroots reaction to urban renewal in the city of Oswego. There were a lot of buildings on the east side that were being torn down and there was the threat that a lot of buildings on the west side would be torn down as well,” he said.

The Walton Willett Stone Store building was constructed in 1828 and is known throughout the region as the former Cahill’s Fish Market (and for a few years, Coleman’s Restaurant).

It was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 as the Walton Willett Stone Store/Cahill’s Fish Market. In 1983 it was added as a historic Oswego landmark by the Heritage Foundation, Wheelock said.

“Even back then, there was interest in preserving the building,” he said. “Hopefully, we can keep this building for decades to come. Today, more than ever, our historic buildings have come under threat from Mother Nature, from budgets … it’s more important than ever to remember why these buildings are important and why we should save them. They are part of our character. They make us who we are today and they’re going to lead us into the future as well.”

“Buildings speak, if one can read their language. They tell us much about a place and its people. This is what makes them significant,” Slosek pointed out.

Using dozens of large historic photos, he traced the history of the Port City from its early days as a fur trading center through its robust era as a commercial shipping community to the present.

Oswego Council OKs Hiring A Consultant
At its June 22 meeting, the Common Council tabled a resolution to hire a consultant to help the city compete for state funds. On July 13, councilors removed the resolution from the table and then voted 6-1 to authorize the mayor to sign a proposal to hire Connecticut Planning and Development.

The cost was $20,000 and was paid out of the 2015 Planning Budget (Fees for service – non-employee – consulting account).

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed a regional competition for seven upstate regions to contend for three $500 million prizes. The main objective of the funding is to generate jobs, positively impact multiple economic indicators and provide a catalyst for transformative economic growth in the awarded regions.

The Port City and local stakeholders have been engaged in the process to assist in the formation of the application with the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council.

Seventh Ward Councilor Ron Kaplewicz noted in June that $20,000 was a lot to spend on a consultant. He suggested the application could be done in-house. He was the lone nay vote in July.

However, Council President Eric VanBuren (Sixth Ward) felt that a fresh set of eyes was needed. The department heads in Planning and Zoning are relatively new and he didn’t want to “spread them too thin” with the deadline for the application fast approaching.

Oswego Teen Receives Assistance Dog From Canine Companions for Independence
Canine Companions for Independence – a national non-profit organization that provides assistance dogs for children and adults with disabilities – announced that Oswego resident Brittany Kaye received a Canine Companions Assistance Dog.

Thirteen-year-old Brittany was matched with Fonda, a two-year-old Lab/Golden Retriever cross who has been trained to respond to more than 50 commands. Fonda can turn light switches on and off, open and close doors and retrieve dropped objects.

However, one of her most important jobs is to provide constant companionship for Brittany.

Brittany and Fonda returned to Oswego after completing Canine Companions recent Team Training Class, an intense, two-week course held at Canine Companion’s Northeast Regional Center in Medford, NY, one of five such centers nationwide.

Each student who attends Team Training – held at each center four times a year – is paired with a fully trained, working assistance dog like Fonda, and is taught to work with his/her canine companion.

Brittany said, “Fonda is a very special dog and I hope to have many wonderful years with her.”

For more information about Canine Companions for Independence, contact the Northeast Regional Center at 1-800-572-BARK or visit us at www.cci.org

Repairs Under Way To Oswego Public Library Turrets
LeChase Construction began repairs on the interior turrets of the Oswego Public Library July 20. Repairs took approximately four weeks to complete.

The library moved its book drop to the East Oneida Street entrance for patrons who needed to return items. Patrons had to enter the library through the East Oneida Street entrance located on the south side of the building.

$150,000 Earmarked For Local Fishing Tournaments
State Senator Patty Ritchie announced she has secured $150,000 in special funding to help boost tourism by promoting fishing tournaments throughout Jefferson, Oswego and St. Lawrence counties.

Funding secured by Senator Ritchie supports more than a dozen tournaments throughout the region she represents.

“Whether you’re a competitive angler or someone who likes to fish for fun, there’s no disputing that fishing is a big part of our way of life here in Central and Northern New York,” said Senator Ritchie. “And, it’s more than just an enjoyable sport. Fishing provides a major boost to our local economy, helping to support small businesses and create jobs here locally.”

“Oswego County is a year-round international fishing destination,” said Janet Clerkin, Oswego County Tourism and Public Information Coordinator. “Hotels and restaurants, charter captains and river guides, campgrounds, marinas, bait and tackle shops and many other businesses rely on our visitors and are essential to the local economy. We’d like to thank Senator Ritchie for this funding, which will help us boost our economy by attracting even more people to Central New York. We greatly appreciate her efforts.”

SUNY Oswego University Police Earns National Recognition
SUNY Oswego’s University Police Department took first place in the college and university category of the 2015 National Law Enforcement Challenge, the International Association of Chiefs of Police announced.

Cornell University police came in second, and the University of Maryland police took third place honors.

This was the third consecutive year that Oswego’s University Police has been selected as a national winner — and the first time it has come in first — in the competition. The National Law Enforcement Challenge is a traffic safety awards program that recognizes excellent law enforcement traffic safety programs.

Police departments are judged on their department policies and guidelines, training of officers, incentives and recognition, public information and education, enforcement activity, and effectiveness of efforts in the areas of speed enforcement, occupant restraint, driving while intoxicated enforcement, and state or local issues.

The award was presented at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference scheduled for Oct. 24 to 27 in Chicago.

SUNY Oswego University Police Chief John Rossi and Assistant Chief Kevin Velzy thanked all of the University Police officers for their hard work and dedication to making the SUNY Oswego community safe.

SUNY Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley told them, “This is a terrific recognition of your excellent care for and expert focus on keeping our campus community protected and safe. We are fortunate to have such a dedicated team.”