2016 In Review: In February, Oswego Warms Up

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

Electrical Wiring Sparked Fire
On Feb.2, it was announced the origin and cause of the fire that occurred at 194 W. Fifth St. on January 28 was electrical.

After conducting several interviews, taking photographs, and gathering
physical findings from the structure, the city of Oswego Fire Investigation Unit concluded that electrical wiring supplying power to a second story ceiling light failed and started the fire.

The fire spread in the ceiling void space, and traveled to the south wall before moving to the attic space. This type of rapid fire travel is very typical in balloon frame building construction.
“This structure had working smoke alarms, that certainly helped the residents escape harm. We also know that occupants, along with the Oswego Police Department helped to evacuate others in the building prior to our arrival and we thank them for their work,” said OFD Lt. Paul Conzone.

The fire resulted in great loss for the families involved. Several people lost all of their belongings, heirlooms, pictures and memories in the fire.

Oswego Warms Up For Annual Festival
In early February, the Port City celebrated what the area is best known for – Winter. The only thing missing was the snow.

This year marked the 11th annual Warm Up Oswego Fire and Ice Festival.

Temperatures lingered near 40 Saturday; the windchill made it feel even colder. However, the hundreds of people who flocked to Elim Grace Church and all around the downtown Oswego didn’t seem to mind.

Throughout the afternoon, hundreds of people wandered around the church to check out the vendors’ wares and watch the various demonstrations and performances.

“The crowd has been good all day (at the church),” said Nathan Emmons, festival chair. “There’s been a constant flow around the vendors and performers. The crowd has been good in the food area, and chili cook off as well.”

At one point, the unofficial count put the afternoon’s visitors at around 800. Scores more turned out to view the 6 p.m. fireworks display by Pyrotechnico.

The crowds came in waves. With the start of each new performance a whole new group of people, young and old,  crowded around the performance area.

Emmons said he was pleased that so many area crafters were taking part in the festival. The ratio was around 70% to 30% crafter to direct sales, he said, adding that the event wouldn’t be possible without “all the great sponsors and volunteers.”

Cooking Fire Damages Westside Oswego Residence
The Oswego Fire Department was dispatched to a multiple occupancy residential building for a reported cooking fire at 8:33 p.m. on Feb. 9 at 136 W. Fourth St.

OFD units arrived on the scene at 8:36 p.m. and reported smoke showing
and that the building was being evacuated. Firefighters made entry to the building, with the engine company working on the fire, and the ladder truck company searching for trapped occupants.

Crews were able to confine the fire to the kitchen stove area, with some extension to the wall and range hood. The building was charged with smoke throughout and was ventilated before residents were allowed to return.

This building did have working smoke alarms, which helped the residents escape the fire unharmed. It appeared that there were 7 occupied bedrooms along with some common areas located in this structure.
The building sustained minor smoke damage throughout the common areas, and heavier damage to the kitchen area. No injuries were reported.

County Health Department Reports Rabid Fox in Minetto
The Oswego County Health Department reported on Feb. 10 that a fox in the town of Minetto has tested positive for the rabies virus.

Two people are undergoing post-exposure rabies treatment as a result of an encounter with the fox.

Jiancheng Huang, Oswego County Public Health Director, said the recent mild weather was causing wild animals to be more active than usual this time of year.
“The first rabies-positive animal report usually comes more toward the springtime, but we’ve already had a positive diagnosis during the middle of the winter,” said Huang. “We’ve had unusually mild weather over the past several weeks and many wild animals are quite active. Residents are reminded not to disturb wild animals, and pet owners need to make sure their pets are protected against rabies, to avoid getting rabies infection.”

Mayor Barlow Shares His Vision For The City
Mayor Billy Barlow shared a recap of his first 40 days in office and his vision for the rest of his term with a large crowd of area business leaders in February.

The Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce, working in concert with the Mayor’s Office, held its first economic development roundtable at the Beacon Hotel. The chamber has been on an upward swing in recent years, the mayor said.

“Forty days in office and I’d say we’ve started with some momentum,” Barlow said. “We’re getting things done. We’re fielding constituent phone calls more than ever. If they call with a problem, we try to take care of that problem as quickly as possible. That’s what people pay taxes for, that’s what they expect – an immediate response from City Hall. ”

Barlow said he wants the people in his administration to be out in the public more, to be more assessable to the residents.

He highlighted a few of his accomplishments in office and hinted at a few things in store for the future.

The city’s website “is an embarrassment,” he said, adding that the council is in the process of working with a local firm to create a new and improved website. He hopes to have it up by April.

The mayor also wants to improve the Community Development Office. It has under performed during past administrations, he said. But under the leadership of Community Development Director Justin Rudgick, there has been significant improvement, the mayor said. Code enforcement has been taken out of the Fire Department and is now being handled by Sue Deary, city assessor.

Certified Home Health Agency Closed
The Oswego County Health Department announced the Oswego County Certified Home Health Agency officially closed as of Jan. 20, 2016.

“On behalf of the Oswego County Legislature, we want to take this opportunity to thank the community, health care providers, contractors, and county nursing staff for decades of support and dedication to Oswego County’s Certified Home Health Agency,” said Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang.

Judy Lester, Director of Patient Services for the Health Department, said the agency has a long history of providing home health care services.

“Oswego County first started providing these services in 1966 when there were few choices for residents seeking home health care. We are pleased that the community now has so many excellent non-governmental agencies to choose from,” said Lester.

Oswego County Celebrates 200 Years of History
Oswego County marked its 200th anniversary this year with a variety of events and activities throughout its cities, towns and villages.

Legislator Shawn Doyle, District 3, chairman of the Oswego County Bicentennial Committee, presented “History Moment” to open each monthly Legislature meeting.

These accounts offered legislators and the attending public a glimpse into the county’s past to learn about the people and events that helped shape this region as well as the attributes that make Oswego County a great place to live, work, study and play.

The first meeting of the year began with the legislators’ oath of office.

Each brought in their family Bible or one of significance to their community for the ceremony.

“Traditionally, all legislators have been sworn in to office on a private family Bible or one on hand in the Legislature’s chambers,” said Doyle. “With the bicentennial in mind, we decided to ask each legislator bring in their family Bible or borrow one from their local historical society or community.”

Marking the occasion, January’s “History Moment” highlighted the significance of family Bibles in maintaining family records and a brief discussion about the settlement of the county.

The Bibles brought in for the January Legislature meeting spanned from 1795 to the 1990s.

Oswego County Land Bank Receives State Approval
The board of directors for Empire State Development approved Oswego County Land Bank Corporation’s application of incorporation.

As stated in the New York State Legislature Land Bank Act of 2011, land banks are non-profit corporations created by the government for the purpose of converting vacant, abandoned and tax delinquent properties back into useful and prosperous properties.

Through the land bank, properties would be renovated or demolished and the property would be sold to a responsible buyer.

According to the Oswego County Legislature’s Government, Courts and Consumer Affairs committee, the land bank would consist of an 11-member board made up of government, business and other county stakeholders, approved by the legislature.

The board will develop the policies and procedures of the land bank, with the legislature’s approval. It’ll outline the process by which properties would be acquired, renovated and dispersed. The land bank will seek funding, initially, from a state pool designated for newly-formed land bank corporations.

Entergy Responds to PSC Offer
“We have not received a definitive proposal from the state of New York since our settlement talks ended in late 2015. What we’ve read in the NYPSC’s press release doesn’t provide us with any more certainty than we had in late 2015,” said Mike Twomey, vice president of external affairs for Entergy EWC.

The press release by the New York PSC will not change Entergy’s decision to close the FitzPatrick plant, he added.

“While we share the NYPSC’s concerns about the loss of nuclear generation, the financial implications of its efforts are too uncertain and this proposal comes too late to save FitzPatrick,” Twomey said. “Entergy met with New York State officials from the Governor’s office and with the PSC repeatedly over the last few years to discuss how the current New York market structure disadvantages nuclear generation, how nuclear power’s carbon-free attributes could be recognized in the market, and the financial challenges faced by the Fitzpatrick plant. Unfortunately, these discussions resulted in no meaningful progress or policy changes by New York State.”

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