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2015 In Review: September – Counties Submit Application for National Marine Sanctuary

eric vanburen and tony pauldine

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

Representatives of four Lake Ontario counties announced Sept. 4 that they were pursuing a nomination to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to nominate southeastern Lake Ontario as a National Marine Sanctuary.

“Southeastern Lake Ontario is eligible for consideration due to the age, type and preserved state of numerous historic shipwrecks and many other features,” said Oswego County Administrator Phil Church, who acted as the emcee for the announcement. “Our goal in seeking an NMS designation is to establish international recognition for the unique features of the region and increase economic, recreational, scientific research and educational activities.”

Church is also the chair of a task force created by Kevin Gardner, chair of the Oswego County Legislature, and Oswego Mayor Tom Gillen charged with the development of the nomination.

The announcement was made at the Lakes of NY exhibit at the New York State Fair by representatives of Oswego, Jefferson, Cayuga and Wayne counties and the city of Oswego. National marine sanctuaries are designated by the federal government and are intended to increase responsible visitation and use of unique resources by visitors, anglers, divers, scientists, researchers, historians and educators.

They are administered by the NOAA.

“Our goal in seeking a sanctuary designation is to establish international recognition with the unique features of this region, to preserve our heritage and to increase economic, recreational, educational and scientific research activities here in this region,” Church said.

Church emphasized that “the term ‘sanctuary’ does not mean an off-limits preserve.  In our case it means just the opposite – to promote and increase responsible visitation, understanding and appreciation of this unique area without interfering with the lake’s commercial and recreational activities.”

It’s estimated that Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary on Lake Huron annually generates in excess of $100 million to the regional economy and supports more than 1,500 jobs. The visitor center for Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary is a major tourism destination for the region, hosting approximately 60,000 visitors annually.

Church said he sees the NMS impact on this region being similar – if not greater.

New EEE Samples Found in Oswego County; Additional Spraying Planned
The Oswego County Health Department reported Sept. 1, that the Eastern equine encephalitis virus was detected in four mosquito samples in the Toad Harbor area. These samples were collected recently during routine testing conducted by the county and state health departments.

The county plans to conduct aerial spraying Friday evening, September 4 in the Big Bay/Toad Harbor Swamp area.

Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang emphasizes that people in all areas of Oswego County need to continue to protect themselves against mosquitoes when they are outdoors.

“As we take advantage of the late summer weather for outdoor activities, please do not forget about mosquitoes,” said Huang. “While the overall numbers of mosquitoes are declining, we are still finding infected mosquitoes. As it is not possible to eliminate all mosquitoes, it is critical that we remain diligent with our personal protection measures until the first killing frost.”

Aerial Spraying of Toad Harbor Area is Completed Sept. 4
Aerial spraying of portions of the towns of Hastings, West Monroe and Constantia was completed between 6 and 8:15 p.m. Sept. 4.

Oswego County contracted with Duflo Spray-Chemical Inc. from Lowville to conduct the aerial spraying of about 10,000 acres of the Toad Harbor / Big Bay Swamp near the north shore of Oneida Lake to reduce the spread of the Eastern equine encephalitis virus, which is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito.

Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang said people in Oswego County should continue to use mosquito repellants, limit their outdoor activities around dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active, wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts, shoes and socks when outdoors, and eliminate standing water around the home.

Grassroots Group Continues Fight To Save Cahill’s
The Administrative Services Committee spent the majority of its time on an item that wasn’t on the agenda.

The fate of the Cahill Building is on the minds of hundreds of people. And, in early September a large contingent of those supporting preservation of the historic structure gave the committee an earful.

Austin Wheelock, president of the Heritage Foundation, board member of the Oswego Renaissance Association and an economic developer with Operation Oswego County, said he has heard there are multiple offers on the building.

He urged the councilors to “consider all proposals to rehabilitate the Cahill Building.”

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

“It is a national landmark; the oldest surviving commercial in Oswego County. And, one of the most recognized and cherished landmarks, connecting the city of Oswego to its maritime past,” he said “The preservation of the Cahill Building has been a very important topic for residents and businesses this past year and almost a thousand have signed a petition as well as postcards supporting the restoration of the building.”

Greene’s Wingin’ It With Awards at National Chicken Wing Festival
Greene’s Ale House & Grille chicken wings are no secret in Oswego. After all, the local establishment for the last three years has earned the “Best Chicken Wings” in Oswego. But, owner Sean Ohnmacht, better known as Jabber to all who know him, wanted to try something different.

So the ultimate stop for his wings was the annual National Chicken Wing Festival in Buffalo.

He said, “You have to be invited to participate. I applied a couple of years ago. We have been the best in Oswego and I wanted to do this. Two weeks before this year’s event they contacted us to invite us to participate.”

When Jabber and his team returned to Oswego, they brought home the coveted “Rookie of the Year” trophy as well as two third place trophies in two of the four “creative” categories.

Imagine more than 70,000 people overflowing the entire field of one of the top minor league baseball stadiums in the nation. At the same time those thousands are roaming like free range livestock devouring an unimaginable variety of chicken wings.

Every year on the Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day Weekend  the annual national chicken wing festival is held in Buffalo.

For years the founding father of the buffalo chicken wing the Anchor Bar has been joined by renown wing palaces from Western New York as well as invaders from such places at Arizona, Wisconsin, Rhode Island, Georgia and even the United Kingdom.

This year Oswego, NY, was added to the list of invited chicken wing connoiseurs as Greene’s Ale House made its presence known in award winning style.

Oswego Firefighters Remember 9-11
On Sept. 11, in Oswego, in honor of the countless lives lost as a result of the attacks on 9/11, the Oswego Fire Department displayed the American flag overhead on East Bridge Street.

This will remain there until midnight.

“Originally, we were setting up to display the flag for a promotional video for the 9/11 Remembrance run held on Sunday,” according to Lt. Paul Conzone. “After receving positive feedback from locals, we decided it would be best to leave the flag up for the day.”

Raising Awareness of Suicide Prevention
Jamie Leszczynski is making strides to assist those who have gone through what she’s experienced and, hopefully, save others from the ordeal. She lost her brother to suicide 13 years ago.

“For the past five years I have been working with a close group of others that have lost someone to suicide to plan a community 5K Run/Walk to raise awareness,” she told Oswego County Today. “Last year alone we had more than 500 people participate. This year we are aiming for 700!”

Stride to Save Lives was set Sept. 19 at SUNY Oswego. Runners and walkers, including suicide survivors (those who have lost someone to suicide) and mental health advocates, gathered to raise awareness for mental health and suicide prevention.

Proceeds raised would benefit SAVE – Suicide Awareness Voices of Education.

“This is our fifth year, which is amazing. Counseling and Healing Arts of Oswego County is our underwriters. We’re so thrilled that we have their support. We would not be able to do this this year without their help,” Leszczynski  said. “I want people to hear Counseling and Healing Arts and go, ‘Oh, yeah, they’re the SAVE people.”

Leszczynski approached Tiffany Gentile, clinical director, and Geoff Baer, executive director, of Counseling and Healing Arts recently with the proposal.

“We were looking for a partner that would truly be a partner for us. We could have gone after a large corporation to sponsor our event. But, we want somebody that alligned with our mission, that truly, because we’re dealing with suicide survivors, those at risk and families that if something happened, we could call on these guys to be support for us,” she explained. “That’s how this partnership, this marriage, kind of evolved. They’re not just sponsors. They are truly partners.”

Oswego County Confirms Human Case of EEE
The Oswego County Health Department Medical Director Christina Liepke, MD, announced today (Sept. 18) the confirmation of the first human case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in Oswego County this year.

The individual, an adult resident of the town of Albion, was currently hospitalized and is listed in critical condition.

To comply with federal law and protect the privacy of this patient and of the family, additional details about the individual weren’t shared with the public.

No EEE was detected in any of the mosquito surveillance traps in the Albion area.

County and state health officials were investigating possible sources of the patient’s infection and continuing surveillance.

The virus can cause encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain.

Those at greatest risk for infection with this virus include the very young, the elderly and people who spend a lot of time outdoors.

Oswego County Resident Dies of Eastern Equine Encephalitis
The Oswego County Health Department was saddened to confirm that the individual who was hospitalized with Eastern Equine Encephalitis had died.

“Our thoughts are with the family at this difficult time,” said Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang.

“EEE is a rare but serious viral disease that is spread by the bite of infected mosquitoes,” said Huang. “The virus will remain in our environment until the first heavy frost occurs. Until that time, people in all areas of Oswego County need to remain vigilant and fully protect themselves from mosquito bites.”

Pauldine Gets Preferred Developer Status on Cahill Building
By a unanimous vote (6-0-1, Councilor Ron Kaplewicz was excused), the Oswego Common Council approved granting preferred developer status to Tony Pauldine in regard to the Cahill Building.

The local developer’s commitment to preserve the historic Port City landmark helped sway the council’s vote, according to Council President Eric VanBuren.

When asked when he’d like to get started on the project, Pauldine replied, “Tomorrow!”

When the vote was announced, it sparked a round of applause from the audience members still present in the Council Chamber.

The voted was based on Pauldine’s purchase offer ($130,000) and his commitment to preserve the city’s oldest commercial building.

“Preferred developer status doesn’t award him title,” VanBuren explained. “It is a commitment to him that we will go with him. One of the pieces of Tony’s offer was that he was going to stabilize the building at his own risk, his own money. Awarding him preferred developer status allows him to do that.”

United Way Annual Campaign Under Way
Positive community impact.  It was a theme that echoed throughout the morning as United Way of Greater Oswego kicked off its 2015 – 2016 campaign.

Following a brief welcome and overview of United Way from Executive Director Patrick Dewine, United Way Board President Bill Crist spoke of the impact and measurable results that United Way funded programs have on those in need.

Those words came to life when he introduced the United Way’s campaign video.

The video highlighted the impact and results United Way helps support through the community.

Some programs that match United Way’s mission of building strong communities by ending hunger, helping children and youth succeed, and improving the health and well-being of families and individuals were demonstrated in the video.

Fire Department helps Kick Off Breast Cancer Awareness Month
In recognition of October as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Oswego Fire Department has partnered with Oswego County Opportunities’ Cancer Services Program to help get its campaign off to a colorful start.

“It was a pleasant surprise when Fire Chief Jeff McCrobie called to tell me that the Oswego City Fire Department will once again be supporting our efforts by selling pink Oswego Fire Department T-shirts,” said Carolyn Handville, coordinator of OCO’s Cancer Services Program Partnership. “This is the third year in row that the Oswego City Fire Department has done this for us. Last year, they raised $3,500 for the Cancer Services Program and their goal is to raise even more this year.”

“The Oswego Fire Department Firefighters IAFF Local #126 is proud to be a part of this national effort. IAFF Local #126 is joining with IAFF members across the United States and Canada in suiting up in pink. IAFF affiliates can be effective advocates for breast cancer awareness and prevention. We encourage others to give so that no breast cancer patient goes without the life-saving treatments they need today and the promise of a cure for tomorrow,” said IAFF Local #126 President John Geraci.

“I’m very appreciative of the fact that the Oswego City Fire Department and IAFF Local #126 recognize our efforts and have chosen to support us in this way,” said Handville.