2016 In Review: In November – Safe Haven’s Ruth Gruber Dies

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

Former AmeriCorps Member Serving In Africa
A former Oswego County AmeriCorps member has taken it to the next level. He has joined the Peace Corps and is currently serving in Africa.

“I submitted my application to serve in Peace Corps in the spring of 2014,” Ben Boltz told Oswego County Today. “Throughout my education at Fordham University, I had spoken with several of my friends, as well as attended several career fairs, about my post-graduation life. One topic that seemed to come up continually was serving with the Peace Corps.”

The Peace Corps allowed Boltz to accomplish each of these objectives as well as serve in a manner reminiscent of his service with AmeriCorps.

His service in Burkina Faso with Peace Corps mainly filters down into three main objectives and side projects. The three main objectives of Peace Corps are:

1. To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained volunteers.
2. To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
3. To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

“Essentially, I work towards these three goals by helping my co-teachers at my preschool become more efficient and effective teachers and I engage in cultural exchange with people in my village,” Boltz said.

New 680 Area Code Overlay Requires Callers to Use Area Code for All Local Calls

In early November, Oswego County E-911 director Michael Allen reminded residents that a new 680 area code overlay is being added to the geographic area served by the 315 area code. Because more than one area code will serve the same geographic area, Central New York residents who have a 315 or 680 phone number will need to enter the area code for all calls – including calls within the same area code.

The new calling procedure will be required for all calls beginning Feb. 11, 2017.

To complete local calls from a phone with a 315 or 680 area code, the new calling procedure requires callers to enter the area code and 7-digit phone number.

“An overlay is the addition of another area code to the same geographic area as an existing area code,” said Allen. “You won’t have to change your existing area code or phone number, but it does require you to dial or enter the area code and the 7-digit number for all calls. In New York, the 680 area code is being added to the area served by the 315 area code.”

The change affects anyone who has a phone number with a 315 area code, as well as anyone who receives a phone number from the 680 area code in the future.

Oswego Pauses To Honor Its Veterans

Port City veterans, their friends, families and others hunkered down Nov. 11 along the west bank of the Oswego River to pay tribute to those who have gone before them – especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice. The crowd, down a couple dozen from last year, dozen, stood by reverently in Veterans’ Memorial Park as the appointed hour neared.

Veterans’ Day is celebrated on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour; that’s when the (World War I) truce was declared, according to LTjg George Hoffman, USNSCC, of the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corp Truxtun DDG-103 Division in Oswego.

A chaplain offered the Veterans’ Day prayer and the flags at the center of the park were lowered.

The flags were dutifully presented to Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow. He accepted the colors on behalf of the city. They will be stored over the winter and then returned to their place of prominence next spring on Memorial Day.

“Today we honor our veterans who have sacrificed both in war and in peace to protect America and the American way of life,” Hoffman said. “We are here to honor our brave men and women who have proudly served this great nation, for they are the fabric from which our flag has been woven.”

College Earns ‘Best for Vets’ Ranking

SUNY Oswego recently earned Military Times’ Best for Vets ranking for the third consecutive year, just as it announced a Veterans Day observance that will feature dedication of a Battle Buddy Center promoting camaraderie among veterans attending the college.

New York State Industries for the Disabled has designated the Battle Buddy Center within the college’s Veterans Lounge in Hewitt Union as a safe haven for veterans to socialize with each other and receive services that are unique to their military backgrounds.

“SUNY Oswego remains dedicated to providing outstanding educational services that reflect the unique needs of our veteran students,” said college President Deborah F. Stanley. “The Battle Buddy Center will enhance our ability to serve our veteran students as they transition from active duty into and through higher education. Creating a safe space that promotes a strong sense of community and supports academic and personal success for our veterans is a project we are proud to support.”

German Anglers love Oswego County Fishing Experience

Several local businesses recently partnered with the Oswego County Department of Community Development, Tourism and Planning and I Love New York to host a team of German businesses who are interested in bringing visitors to Oswego County.

The fishing familiarization tour was organized by the New York State Division of Tourism to attract Germans who would like to fish while on vacation in the U.S. The guests included Olaf Jochmann, publisher and owner of “Am Haken” magazine, Jan Hrdlicka of the magazine’s editorial staff, and Andreas Quenstaedt of Deutscher Reisring, a group tour operator  that specializes in outdoor recreation trips.

They were accompanied by Markly Wilson, Director of International Marketing for I Love NY, Wolfgang Wekwert, representing the I Love NY international staff in Germany, and Lori Solomon of Van Tourism Specialists.

While in Oswego, the group enjoyed Oswego’s unique “urban” fishing experience on the Oswego River with Captains Kevin Davis of Catch the Drift guide service and Andy Bliss of Chasin’ Tail Adventures.  The following day they experienced the more traditional fishing environment of the Salmon River with guide Mike DeRosa of Zero Limits Guide Service, and toured the Salmon River Fish Hatchery in Altmar with NYS DEC Special Project Coordinator Fran Verdoliva.

“The experience in Oswego County was compelling, and will be re-lived by others from Germany in the future,” said Wilson.

The international team also fished on Long Island Sound, the Niagara River and the St. Lawrence River while in New York State.

More than 34,000 people from outside of New York State purchased non-resident fishing licenses in Oswego County last year.

Rabid Bats Found in Oswego and Fulton

The Oswego County Health Department advised residents that the rabies virus was still active in Oswego County. Rabid bats were found over the weekend of Nov. 5 and 6 in the cities of Oswego and Fulton.

Jiancheng Huang, Public Health Director, said bats rarely attack humans, but any physical contact with a rabid bat may result in the transmission of rabies. In some situations, such as when a bat is found in a room with a sleeping person or next to an unattended young child or pet, a bat bite may not be detected.

If a bat is found in the home, health officials ask that residents try to capture the bat so it may be tested for rabies.

“People should try to avoid any contact with bats, especially if one is outdoors during daylight, on the ground, or appears to be paralyzed,” said Huang.

SUNY Oswego President Stanley Assumes Role as Chair of American Association of State Colleges and Universities

Deborah F. Stanley, president of SUNY Oswego, assumed the chair of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ Board of Directors during the association’s annual meeting on Nov. 1.

In her role as chair of AASCU, President Stanley will lead the national association in its vision to influence American public higher education through advocacy, leadership and service.

In addition to working together as AASCU member institutions who share a learning and teaching-centered culture, Stanley points out that the more than 400 public colleges, universities and systems are committed to underserved student populations and are dedicated to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development.

According to Stanley, the association brings college and university presidents and chancellors together to support member institutions in their public mission.

“I look forward to the leadership role that SUNY Oswego will play in the association’s efforts to prepare students to enter a competitive economy and global society; advocate for effective public policy; promote access and inclusion; and foster regional stewardship, economic progress and educational innovation,” she said.

At Oswego, Stanley’s tenure has been highlighted by academic excellence, campus renewal and the creation of a learner-centered environment.

Leighton Students Honor Veterans

The entire Leighton Elementary School student body turned out to honor several local veterans – many of whom were their fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers.

Members of the school’s student council escorted the very special guests to their seats. The students then applauded the veterans.

In August, the school board appointed Kara Shore principal at Leighton. School board member Sam Tripp took part in the school’s program. And, Jim Hartmann, a fifth grade teacher at FLS was the ceremony’s MC. All three are veterans.

The students learned what is a veteran and ways to thank veterans.

Members of various classes took part in saying the Pledge of Allegiance and singing patriotic songs, including America and You’re a Grand Old Flag. Students in Pre-K through second grade presented the veterans’ relatives with gifts.

The children who had a veteran visiting were presented with a flag pin by Principal Shore. The students then went and presented the pin to their father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.

A flute solo of God Bless America was performed by sixth grader Anna Coonan.

The youngsters learned about each branch of the service and what it does.

Ruth Gruber Dies At 105

Ruth Gruber, an American journalist who stumbled into one of the great rescue stories of the Holocaust when the U.S. government appointed her to escort nearly 1,000 Jews across U-boat infested waters to the shores of the United States, died Nov. 17 at her home in Manhattan. She was 105. Her son David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, confirmed the death.

In an era when many female reporters were writing for the social pages, Dr. Gruber, as a photographer and reporter, was a dynamic exception. Working for the New York Herald Tribune, she was the first Western journalist to visit the Soviet Arctic and the gulag.

In 1947, she watched as a ship carrying 4,000 Holocaust survivors and displaced persons was turned away from Palestine. She photographed and later chronicled those events in a book that Leon Uris used to write his best-selling novel “Exodus.”

Her transatlantic ship ride with the European refugees — a journey that she recorded in her 1983 book “Haven,” which became a CBS miniseries starring Natasha Richardson — that remained the defining act of her life.

It was in 1944, a year before the war’s end, that President Franklin D. Roosevelt decided to grant temporary asylum to a group of the 36,000 refugees housed in Allied camps in Italy. They would depart from the port of Naples, traverse the ocean in the ship the Henry Gibbins and live until the end of the war at an Army camp in Oswego, N.Y.

At the time, 32-year-old Dr. Gruber was working as a special assistant to Interior Secretary Harold Ickes in a brief interlude to her journalistic career. In “Inside of Time,” she recalled the fateful conversation with her boss:

“Mr. Secretary, these refugees are going to be terrified — traumatized. Someone needs to fly over and hold their hand,”

“You’re right,” Ickes responded. “I’m going to send you.”

Some people considered the assignment too dangerous for a woman. Among them was Dr. Gruber’s mother, who came to Washington and confronted Ickes the morning of her daughter’s departure, demanding to know how he was going to keep her safe.

Ickes said that he was providing Dr. Gruber with papers naming her a “simulated general” so that she would be treated as such an officer, in accordance with the Geneva Conventions, if the ship were intercepted during the trip. It was enough to reassure her worried mother.

Fred Crisafulli dies at 91

Fred Crisafulli, former Oswego tourism director and harbormaster, died t Seneca Hill Manor.

Crisafulli, 91, will be remembered as a family man with a passion for food, his church, his country and the city of Oswego.

The Oswego Veterans’ Council named Crisafulli Veteran of the Year in 2006.

North Carolina ‘Mayor’ Meets Port City’s Mayor

When the youngest mayor in North Carolina needs a little advice, she turns to the youngest mayor in New York. Genna Losurdo is mayor of her third grade class at Abbott Creek Elementary School in Raleigh, N.C.

Her honor the mayor, 8, and her sister, Brielle Losurdo, 9, accompanied their parents north to visit family in the Port City for the holiday. One thing on her to do list was to meet with Oswego’s mayor.

Genna  told Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow her platform included things like being nice to people and following the rules.

Mayor Losurdo said she enjoyed her visit with her counterpart in Oswego. She even asked the mayor for his autograph.

Rumor has it she’s eyeing a re-electin bid for fourth grade.

Oswego Lights Up For The Holidays

Snow? Oswego didn’t need no stinkin’ snow to get into the holiday spirt. The Port City had the likes of Jennifer Losurdo (chief elf), Nate Emmons (MC and holiday music guru for the event), Kevin Carracioli and their legion of tireless volunteers.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Oswego, except maybe for the lack of snow. The Port City officially lit up for the holidays on Nov. 26.

Hundreds of people throughout the day enjoyed Light Up, Oswego, a community-wide, all-day event that welcomed the holiday season in Oswego at myriad locations. The day-long event opened at 9 a.m. with the annual Holiday Expo in the YMCA Armory with more than 40 vendors, children’s activities, food and holiday music.

At noon, a new element was added to the event as part of Civic Plaza was transformed into an ice skating surface. Dozens of people, of all ages and skating abilities, enjoyed the rink.

A children’s parade wound its way to City Hall. Members of the Oswego Police and Fire departments ensured the youngsters had a safe route. And, shortly after their arrival, the Oswego Fire Department delivered the guest of honor – Santa Claus.

“You’ve made me oh so proud children. My nice list is so big,” Santa told the children as he stretched his arms wide apart. “My naughty is this small,” he added holding his thumb and index finger about an inch apart.

Then, Santa spent more than two hours in City Hall greeting children of all ages. He paid close attention to every child as they visited with him and shared their Christmas wish lists.

Did we miss any of your favorites? Let us know in the comments section.