2016 In Review: In March, Oswego School’s 2016-17 Budget Takes Shape

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

The path to the Oswego City School District’s new budget is a bit clearer than things were at this time last year. Superintendent Dr. Dean Goewey said he wants to build a budget that focuses on instructional programs and one that is based on only the dollars that the district has.

On Feb. 8, the revenue projection was $77,763,939.

The assumed revenue increases were $516,916 for restoration of the Gap Elimination Adjustment and $563,397 for a 2 percent levy increase, according to the superintendent.

That means, as of March 1, the projected revenue now stands at $78,844,252.

Dr. Goewey said that the district is “pretty confident” that the full amount of GEA funds will be restored.

“These dollars in some of these lines are very fluid. We’re not committed to these dollars yet, but we’re very hopeful that there will be some additional money for the district,” he said.

Motion For New Thibodeau Trial Denied
A motion for a new trial for Gary Thibodeau was denied in early Match.

Thibodeau was convicted of first-degree kidnapping in 1995 for the kidnapping of Heidi Allen on Easter in 1994.

Thibodeau’s defense argued that the decision should be vacated based on the fact that “newly discovered evidence which could not have been discovered during trial would have resulted in a favorable verdict for the defendant.”

In a 65-page decision, the court said, “with respect to the facts before the court in the instant case, the evidence presented is too remote and disconnected to show that someone other than the defendant kidnapped Heidi Allen.”

Thibodeau is currently serving 25 years to life in prison for Allen’s kidnapping.

Committee Paves The Way For Ethics Board
The Planning and Development Committee paved the way for establishing an Oswego city board of ethics. The full council approved the plan at its meeting later in March.

Mayor William Barlow recommended creation of the board to dispel the public’s perceived corruption in city government.

“The code of ethics was first adopted in the city of Oswego in 1980,” according to Kevin Caraccioli, city attorney. “It provided for a total of seven sections.” Since then, things have changed in both state and local government, he added.

“There is a plethora of cases at the state level in particular of elected officials violating the public trust,” he said. “In the state of government, I think, there is a lot of mistrust. This is our effort top try to address that.”

County Celebrates 200th
County Legislator Shawn Doyle gave his peers a brief history lesson at the March legislature meeting. The lecture was part of the celebration of Oswego County’s bicentennial.

The earliest proposal (1804) to form the new county would have had Redfield as the county seat. Nothing came of this, however, Doyle said. Then, in 1807 a petition from residents and landowners in Camden, Redfield, Florence, Mexico, Williamstown and Fredricksburg was circulated. Nothing came of this as well.

In 1810 residents of Oswego formed a drive to create a new county. In 1813, serious discussions began again.

“Finally, on March 1, 1816, the New York State Legislature adopted the plan,” Doyle said. “As a compromise, two county seats would be named, Oswego and Pulaski.”

The first officials appointed to govern Oswego County in 1816 included the nine town supervisors, the Judge of Common Pleas, the six associate justices, sheriff, undersheriff, county clerk, Surrogate Judge and treasurer.

Oswego’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade Draws Huge Crowd
The inaugural Oswego St. Patrick’s Day Parade was greeted bright blue skies, temperatures that flirted with 60 degrees and a large enthusiastic  crowd. Clusters of parade watchers lined West First Street toward Bridge Street. Some of them staked out prime viewing locations a few hours prior to the 1 p.m. start time of the parade. The crowd was even larger along Bridge Street.

Cead Mile Failte!

Rudy’s Opening Heralds The Arrival Of Spring

The return of the robins? Nope. The daffodils start to bloom? Not really. Large number of sea gulls gathering at The Loop? You’re getting warmer.

Local residents know that Spring really returns as soon as Rudy’s, the historic little restaurant nestled on the shore of Lake Ontario at The Loop, throws open its doors.

The iconic eatery celebrated its 70th season. And, was already making plans for a bigger celebration to mark its 75th anniversary, because “it will be here before you know it!”

More than a dozen cars lined up in front of the eatery shortly before its scheduled 10 a.m. opening. By 10:30 a.m., close to three dozen patrons had already been served. The first patron to place an order this season was Debbie Gilmore. In 2013 it was the first time she had been the very first. She was first again in 2014, but arrived a bit later in 2015.

“Everything tastes better on opening day,” she said. “Then it tastes even better during the summer!”

Oswego District Proposes Cuts; Still Face Nearly $1 Million Gap
More than two dozen cuts loom in the tentative 2016-17 Oswego City School District budget, Superintendent Dr. Dean Goewey told the school board.

“We want to build a revenue based budget on the money that is coming into the district,” he said.

The gap was originally $5.6 million. It shrunk to $4.9 million last month. Now it’s less than $1 million – but at a cost. Dr. Goewey presented the board an overview of the budget process up to work done just prior to the meeting.

On Feb. 8 the revenue projection was $77,763,939. The full restoration of the Gap Elimination Adjustment would add $516,916.

The goal is a 2% tax levy increase, which would generate $563,397, the superintendent said.

“So, our projected revenue right now (as of March 1) is $78,844,252. That has not changed,” he said.

Expenses as of Feb. 8 were $82,734,860.

Appeals Court Upholds City’s Ownership Of Cahill Building
The New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department, unanimously affirmed a lower court rulking that dismissed a legal claim by local developer Thomas Millar asserting his ownership of the historic Cahill Building.

The appellate ruling means that the city of Oswego retains title to the property located along the Oswego River, Mayor Billy Barlow announced March 26.

“I am very pleased with the outcome of this litigation,” Mayor Barlow proclaimed. “This will allow the city of Oswego to move forward with the transformation of this historic building from an eyesore to something we can all be proud to have in our community.”

The Fourth Department ruling agreed with the city’s assertion that all of the necessary parties to the joint venture agreement entered into by the city and Millar’s partners were not parties to the legal action to enforce the development agreement and thus the city met its burden of establishing their entitlement to judgment as a matter of law.

“We are excited to work with Mr. (Tony) Pauldine and his company as he plans to transform the oldest commercial building in the city of Oswego back into a hub of commercial activity,” said Justin Rudgick, community development director.

Route 104’s Potential Makeover Unveiled
City, county officials and several others got the first look in March at Oswego’s main street’s tentative revival plans.

Kimberly Baptiste, AICP project manager, for Bergmann Associates, the project consultant, presented the firm’s overview of the potential revitalization of the Port City’s main street.

“Beautifying our main corridor is a top priority of my administration,” Mayor Billy Barlow Jr. said.

He called the plan an “exciting first step of initiating the long overdue process of beautifying the Route 104 corridor.”

Planning and Zoning Director Amy Birdsall thanked Governor Andrew Cuomo (Cleaner, Greener Communities Initiative) for awarding Oswego a $225,000 grant through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to prepare the revitalization plan.

The multi-year project will encourage private investment in homes and businesses; it’ll increase property values and it will increase business, she added.

Oswego County Health Department Reports Two New Cases of Rabies
The Oswego County Health Department reported March 24, that two new cases of rabies were recently confirmed in Oswego County. They included a skunk in Scriba and a raccoon in Albion.

Both animals attacked unvaccinated pet dogs.

Jiancheng Huang, Director of Public Health, said it’s imperative that pet owners make sure their animals’ rabies vaccines are up-to-date.

Council Votes 4-3 In Favor Of Ethics Board
The Oswego Common Council approved the formation of an ethics board. The vote was 4-3. Councilors Shawn Walker, John Gosek, Nate Emmons and Robert Corradino voted in favor.

Voting no were councilors Pat McLaughlin, Caitlin Reynolds and Eric VanBuren.

One of the sticking points was that some feel that if Mayor Billy Barlow appoints the three members, they could be perceived as beholden to the city’s chief executive, regardless of whether or not they actually are.

At the public hearing, Dick Atkins said he had a problem with the members being appointed by the mayor and serve at the pleasure of the mayor.

“I think that’s probably the worst thing that you can do,” he said. “It weakens your board immensely.”

Oswego Speedway Ranks Third Among America’s Favorite Race Tracks in National Poll
For the fourth consecutive season, Oswego Speedway has ranked in the top five of Speed Sport Magazine’s ‘My Favorite Track’ poll, finishing in the third position overall.

Speed Sport’s survey was conducted from February 3-24 with votes being tallied for a total of 286 tracks in 45 states and seven countries.

For the fifth year running, Rossburg, Ohio’s Eldora Speedway, owned by motorsports star Tony Stewart, claimed the top rating with Virginia International Raceway, Oswego Speedway, New Jersey Motorsports Park, and Knoxville Raceway finishing in the top five positions. Once again, Oswego Speedway was voted as the top asphalt oval in Speed Sport’s poll.

“Each year this poll grows in stature and our amazing fans continue to respond,” said Oswego Speedway’s PR director Dan Kapuscinski. “The fact that 286 different facilities received votes this year and we remain in the top five positions is fantastic. We cannot thank our fan base enough, as well as everyone at Speed Sport for the great exposure they continue to provide not only for Oswego, but all of the short tracks in this great country.”

First Rabies Clinic Of 2016 Draws a Crowd
Hundreds of people took advantage of the first rabies clinic of the year in March to safeguard their pets from the rabies virus. They had about 700 doses of the vaccine on hand.
The Oswego County Health Department will hold seven more rabies clinics at locations around Oswego County this year. All of them will be held on Wednesdays from 6 to 8 p.m.

“Rabies continues to be a threat in Oswego County,” said Jiancheng Huang, Oswego County Public Health Director. Most of the cases involve wild animals, he noted.

A fox in the town of Minetto tested positive for rabies earlier this year. And, a skunk in Scriba and a raccoon in Albion also tested positive in March. Both of these animals attacked unvaccinated pet dogs, Huang pointed out.

Immunizing your pets is an effective way to reduce the risk of human exposures to rabies, he said. The clinics now use computers to cut down on paperwork and save people time.

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