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2016 In Review: In October – Great Pumpkins, Super Dirt and Golden Bucs

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

Oswego Crowns Its Great Pumpkin Champ
Karl Haist of Clarence Center, NY, returned to the champion’s podium in a big way at the Great Pumpkin fest in October.

In the waning moments of the official weigh-in, James Hazeltine’s 1,457.0-pound pumpkin sat atop the leader board.

Haist’s mammoth squash was gently lowered onto the scale. When the numbers settled, he had a record-setting 1,511.5-pound winner. Then the scales were readied for the final pumpkin of the competition – another behemoth from Haist. The 1,968.0 giant was the undisputed winner.

Haist is no stranger to growing huge pumpkins. The last couple of years his entries have weighed in at (2012) 1,349.5 pounds, (2013) 1,264.0 pounds, (2015) 1533.5 pounds, and (2014) 1,725.5 pounds.

The state record set at the Great Pumpkin Fest in Oswego in 2014 by Haist. But it was short-lived. He broke it the next day.

Fastest Parade Ever in Oswego
It was the fastest parade in the history of the city of Oswego. But, but it was super.

Super Dirt Week made its presence felt in downtown Oswego in early October.

Parades are noted as slow with many breaks.

That wasn’t the case as nearly 30 Modifieds, Small Blocks, Sportsmen and Pro Stocks started off at City Line Road, headed to East Tenth Street and then up the Utica Street hill before turning on to West First Street, right on Bridge and headed back to the Oswego Speedway pits.

Later, the dirt racers would take to the newly “paved” clay oval around 3 p.m.

Racing and non-racing fans gathered along the parade route to watch an event that probably didn’t take more than three minutes.

The “high speed” parade cruised over the route in record time.

Standing at the corner of West First and Bridge streets, people started pointing as the Oswego City Police rolled over the top of the hill being followed by the rumbling sounds of race cars.

As the cars made a quick turn at the corner, phones and video units were being put to good use. The first car around the corner was driven by Australian Peter Brittan and  following in the 35 was the veteran and former Syracuse winner Frank Cozze. Last year’s Syracuse Small Block winner and Brewerton track champion along with Fulton Outlaw 200 winner Jimmy Phelps was next in line.

It was something quite unique in downtown Oswego on the Wednesday of Super Dirt Week as  the racers have come to Oswego. And, one little girl sitting alongside the highway hopes it happens again.

The three-year-old immediately after the parade looked at her father and said, “I want the orange car to win.”

Oswego County Receives Honor From Northern Neighbors
Scott A. Gray, chairman of the Jefferson County Board of Legislators, presented a proclamation honoring Oswego County on its bicentennial and recognizing its rich heritage.

The decree outlined the county’s founding on March 16, 1816 at a time when it consisted of just nine townships, to its development into 22 towns, 10 villages and two cities, all with a population of more than 122,000 citizens.

The declaration offered the well-wishes of Jefferson County and its residents to Oswego County in reaching its 200th anniversary milestone.

Second SUNY Oswego student tests positive for the mumps
A second SUNY Oswego student tested positive for the mumps, just weeks after health officials identified the first case in September.

SUNY Oswego said the second case was found while a student was seeing their doctor back home. That individual received positive test results after being tested days before.

The student served the 5-day isolation period at home and returned to campus after that.

Students received a campus-wide email notifying them of this newest case.

On September 14, a different student was diagnosed with the mumps.

Since that incident SUNY Oswego worked to ensure that all students were vaccinated. Both affected students were vaccinated prior them contracting the virus.

Oswego Legislature Receives 2017 Budget Plan
At the close of October’s county legislature meeting, Phil Church, Oswego County Administrator, presented a succinct overview of the county’s proposed 2017 budget. The 2017 draft budget for the county was $198,530,227.

It included a real property tax levy $42,979,701, a 6.4 percent decrease.

The full value of the county is $5,527,561,433, which produces a generic tax rate of $7.78 per thousand dollars of assessed value. That’s a 1 percent increase.

By comparison, the current budget is $194,733,416. The tax rate is $7.70 per thousand dollars of assessed value.

The original request for the 2017 spending plan was $204,735,225 ($10.19 tax rate). “That would have been unacceptable. So, since August and September myself and the department heads worked to bring that number down to the level you see today,” Church told the legislators.

Oswego’s Marching Bucs ‘Golden’ in Massachusetts
The Marching Bucs competed in the New England School Bands Association competition held at Wakefield High School in Massachusetts. They won the entire show with a score of 88.3 and received a gold rating.

The Marching Bucs also won caption awards for Best Music, Best Color Guard, and Best Percussion! They were first place in the top class and had the highest score out of the 18 bands at the show.

“Thank you to the Oswego City School District, Board of Education, Oswego City School District Administration, Buildings and Grounds, Transportation, the OHS Band Parents’ Association, the Oswego community, the chaperones, and MB staff that helped make this possible. It truly was a team effort. We will look to continue our success this weekend at New Hartford HS,” said Scott Ciesla, band director.

SUNY Oswego Police offer tips after campus bear sightings
University Police at SUNY Oswego offered students and others in the campus community suggestions after at least one black bear was reported near the school’s entrance.

Police said the animals pose “no immediate threat,” but they want people to keep their distance.

Citing the Department of Environmental Conservation, police offered tips, including:

Never approach, surround or corner a bear: Bears aggressively defend themselves when they feel threatened. Be especially cautious around cubs as mother bears are very protective.

Never run from a bear: stay calm, speak in a loud and calm voice, slowly back away and leave the area.

Use noise to scare away bears from your yard if you live off campus: yell, clap or bang pots immediately upon sighting a bear near your home.

Dr. Liepke Named NY Army National Guard State Surgeon
Dr. Matthew Liepke, an Oswego resident and a Lieutenant Colonel in the New York Army National Guard, has been named New York Army National Guard State Surgeon.

In that role Liepke will be responsible for overseeing medical issues and medical training for the members of the 10,300 Soldier New York Army National Guard.

He is  a veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Liepke, who is vice president and partner of Port City Family Medicine in Oswego, as well as Medical Staff President of Oswego Hospital, has served in the military since 1992 when he enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve’s Company C. 479th Engineer Battalion in Canton.

He also served in the 1019th Quartermaster Company in Mattydale.

He received a direct commission into the Individual Ready Reserve in 2003, after becoming a doctor, and joined the New York Army National Guard in 2005.

He has served brigade surgeon for the Syracuse based 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, as a member of the 466th Area Support Medical Company and in the New York Army National Guard Medical Command.

Rally Supports Keeping Nuclear Energy Plants Open via Clean Energy Standard
On October 24, the Upstate Energy Jobs Coalition, a group representing 130 business, labor, education and community organizations throughout upstate and central New York, alongside key labor groups including IBEW, the Central-Northern New York Building and Construction Trades Council, the Rochester Building and Construction Trades Council, and more, reiterated their support for keeping nuclear energy plants in the state open via swift implementation of New York’s Clean Energy Standard.

The groups cited the need for nuclear in New York due to its tremendous economic, environmental, and energy benefits; without them, the state would face significant job and economic losses, and be unable to reach its clean energy goals.

“We are proud to represent a coalition of 130 New York organizations that support the inclusion of nuclear energy in the CES.  The New York Public Service Commission (PSC’s) implementation of the CES was rigorous and took into account the feedback of thousands of New Yorkers who support keeping nuclear plants open via the CES,” said L. Michael Treadwell, CEO of the County of Oswego Industrial Development Agency and Member of UEJ.

Speakers: Crackdown On Landlords Is Hurting Families
The city’s recent efforts to crack down on landlords whose properties are in need of repair due to severe code violations, or are delinquent in their taxes or water bills came under fire in late October.

At the council’s public session, two speakers pointed out while the initiative was well-intentioned, it was having unwanted repercussions.

Valerie Donovan is a teacher in the city school district. She said she applauds the city’s efforts to crack down on landlord code violations. However, those efforts have had some undesirable ramifications, she added.

“I do not feel it is being done in a responsible, compassionate way,” she told the council. “Is there a plan to help the families that currently are or will be homeless?”

Displaced families are referred to an area hotel, five miles away from any gas station or grocery store, she said.

“They pay their rent. They are the victims,” she said. “I know this is not your intent.” She urged the city to offer some sort of emergency services.

Sue Matthews, a Scriba resident who owns property in Oswego, asked the councilors if they knew something like this would happen, before they voted.

If someone is being evicted, they must receive 30 days notice, she said.

Mayor Billy Barlow pointed out that blight housing can be seen in just about every corner of the Port City. The focus on stricter code enforcement, he said, will help clean up Oswego.

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