2016 In Review: May Saw Support for FitzPatrick, School Board Newcomers and More

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

Benefits of Keeping Upstate Nuclear Plants open Surpass Costs
The New York State Public Service Commission held a technical conference in Albany on May 4 on the costs of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed Clean Energy Standard, which reinforced that the benefits of keeping upstate nuclear energy plants open far outweigh the costs of implementing the nuclear tier of the CES.

In fact, a recent analysis from The Brattle Group showed that upstate nuclear plants result in $1.7 billion per year in electricity savings for New York, and in addition causes a reduction in emissions worth over $700 million.

The study also found that in the early years of the CES (up until 2023), over 75% of the carbon avoided by the program is directly attributable to preserving upstate nuclear.

Moreover the report also found that the Tier 3 component of the CES, which would preserve upstate nuclear plants, is responsible for over 50% of the CES program’s lifetime financial benefits from carbon avoidance, despite incurring only 21% of the program’s overall costs.

On the heels of the conference, members of the Upstate Energy Jobs coalition, a group including elected representatives, business leaders, organized labor, education institutions, economic development organizations and community leaders, reinforced the many benefits that FitzPatrick, Ginna and Nine Mile Point bring to upstate and central New York, including 25,000 jobs, supporting $3.16 billion in state gross domestic product based on findings from a previous Brattle report released in December 2015, “New York’s Upstate Nuclear Power Plants’ Contribution to the State Economy.”

“The upstate New York economy is already lagging,” said Mike Treadwell, CEO of the County of Oswego Industrial Development Agency. “The Cuomo administration has expressed that helping lift up the area’s economy is a top priority, and implementing the CES, which includes preserving upstate nuclear, helps New York meet not only its clean energy goals, but the Governor – and many others’ – goals to help the upstate economy. The benefits of keeping upstate nuclear energy plants clearly outweigh the costs of the CES, which should be implemented swiftly.”

Mayor Barlow Calls on Landlords to Take Responsibility
Mayor Billy Barlow called on Oswego city landlords May 4 to plan and be responsible in the coming weeks as the college spring semester comes to a close and students begin to move out and tenants start their spring cleaning.

“With students moving out all at once and everybody beginning their spring cleaning, our city landlords need to step up and care about our neighborhoods. I am asking property owners and managers to make plans ahead of time and tend to the stockpiling and garbage that is placed in the front lawns quickly,” said Mayor Barlow. “I have authorized the Office of Code Enforcement and the Oswego City Police Department to immediately take necessary enforcement action as needed to gain compliance should landlords fail to to make adequate plans and fail to comply with our expectations.”

Earlier this year, the new administration removed the duties of code enforcement from the city fire department and created a separate Code Enforcement Office directed by Susan Deary.

Deary said the department has sent out letters ahead of time to warn property owners of increased enforcement during the end of semester transition and will take the necessary action to hold landlords accountable and maintain integrity within the neighborhoods.

Oswego BOE Candidates Questioned
The five candidates running for a seat on the Oswego City School District’s board of education faced a variety of questions. Fran Hoefer, James Bell, Bill Meyer and Amy Callen were joined in the OHS theater by current board president Kathleen Allen who is running as a write-in candidate.

The first question was: What makes you the best candidate?

Meyer pointed to his experience as a former board member and transportation supervisor for the district. He was also a union president and had experience dealing with budgets.

Bell noted that as a parent of a child in the district, he wants to help ensure all students have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Also, as a businessman, he has had experience with budgeting and making hard decisions, he added.

Callen said as a parent, she too would be very passionate about helping the board. She also has experience in the education field, working with teachers and administration. All that put together would give her an advantage, she said, adding that she is trustworthy and a very good listener.

Hoefer, another former board member, said he cares about the kids and the community.

Allen cited her six years on the board, the last three as president, as experience. She said she could look at the big picture and look at what’s best for the students, taxpayers and everyone.

Oswego Mayor Proposes New Sewer Rate Schedule
The sewer rate schedule that was adopted by the Common Council in December 2015 didn’t create parity between low-volume users and high-volume users, Mayor Billy Barlow said in ear;y May.

A typical residential property would be expected to use about 20,000 gallons of water per quarter and would be charged $200 for such usage under the current rate schedule. That amounts to a rate if $10 per 1,000 gallons, the mayor noted.

High end users would be charged about $5 under the current rate schedule.

According to the 2015 resolution: “… Metered sewer base rate shall be $150/quarter for the first 10,000 gallons or 1,337 cubic feet and usage over the base shall be billed at $5 per 1,000 gallons or 134 cubic feet. The new water and sewer rates shall be applied to all accounts on the current schedule.”

“I am recommending a modification to the sewer rate schedule that addresses this disparity,” the mayor said. “Our goal is to alleviate some of the pressure for our homeowners and to get our heavier users to pay their fair share.”

The change won’t affect homeowners, the mayor said, adding, “Obviously we don’t want to hurt small businesses in town” like small restaurants, for example.

Bomb Threat Reported At OHS
On May 10, at approximately 1: 50 p.m., a threat of a bomb was reported at Oswego High School to school officials and the Oswego City Police School Resource Officer. The Oswego High School was evacuated without further incident at that time.

The investigation was conducted by The Oswego City Police Department and Oswego City School District, with assistance from New York State Police, the U.S Border Patrol and the Oswego Fire Department.

At about 5:20 p.m., through investigation and the use of two New York State Police explosives canine units, the bomb threat has been determined as not a credible threat.

The Oswego City School District said the high school would be in session the next day.

OMS Bomb Threat
At 9:40 a.m. May 12,  a hand-written note indicating a bomb threat was located by school employees at Oswego Middle School.

The decision to evacuate the school was made; all students and staff were evacuated and were safe. Law Enforcement searched the school.

Students returned to classes shortly.

Members of the Oswego City Police Department, working in conjunction with the Oswego City School District, identified a juvenile suspect. The suspect was a female student of  Oswego Middle School.

The suspect, being a juvenile, was dealt with in Family Court for a crime which, if committed by an adult, would amount to “Falsely Reporting an Incident in the First Degree” (A Class-D Felony).

Public Weighs In On Route 104 Streetscape Revitalization Project
A handful of city residents attended a workshop to help create the future of the Route 104 corridor in the Port City.

The city’s Department of Planning and Zoning hosted the event at the Quality Inn & Suites Riverfront, to hear suggestions from the public regareding the streetscape revitalization project.

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

Before the end of the year, the city intended to unveil a Route 104 Complete Streets plan, according to Mayor Billy Barlow.

It’s a process that involves an evaluation of the Route 104 corridor in the context of providing safe, convenient access and mobility for users of all ages and abilities.

The document will identify recommendations for improvements, as well as opportunities to offer greater transportation choices while maintaining efficient, reliable passage for pedestrians, bicyclists, public transportation riders and motorists.

Newcomers Win Seats On Oswego School Board
A pair of newcomers claimed the two open seats on the Oswego School Board in May.

With all of the four polling sites reporting, Aimee Callen was the top vote getter and James Bell garnered the second most.

Callen had 1,966 votes and Bell trailed her by slightly less than 100 votes with 1,870.

Former board members Fran Hoefer (1,190) and Bill Myer (714) came in third and fourth, respectively. Current board president and write-in candidate Kathleen Allen finished in fifth position with nearly 800 votes.

The $79,510,611 budget plan for 2016-17 school year was also approved by the voters, with nearly 70 percent of the voters saying yes (2,521 to 1,116).

The budget included a 2.5% levy increase. For a $100,000 home that translates into an additional $52.98, or $4.42 a month. It also contained many reductions; several support staff and teaching positions were eliminated as well as a big chunk of the district’s athletic programs.

This election marked the first time the district consolidated its 10 election districts into four polling locations.

Dunkin’ Donuts Hosts ‘Coffee With Mayor, Police Chief’
OK, nobody actually sat down and shared a cup of coffee with Mayor Billy Barlow or Chief Tory DeCaire. But what they did share was plenty of productive dialogue.

“This was a chance for Oswego residents to meet with Chief DeCaire and myself in a casual setting, ask questions and voice any concerns they might have,” the mayor told Oswego County Today.

“There wasn’t any set agenda,” the chief added. “It was just a chance for residents to discuss issues important to them and ask some questions.”

He said he hopes the meetings build a relationship that will strengthen the entire Oswego community.

A lot of things people talked about are concerns the city is already working on, the mayor and chief pointed out.

“There really wasn’t any surprises,” the mayor said. “Much of what they asked about was getting the water and sewers fees lowered and getting the roads fixed.”

Other issues included vandalism, illegal dumping, snow removal, and increased traffic on some city streets.

Mayor Barlow Appoints Downtown Revitalization Committee
Mayor Billy Barlow announced the creation of the Downtown Revitalization Committee whose primary task will ensure the city of Oswego competes for Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

The Downtown Revitalization Initiative program will invest $10 million in ten communities throughout the state.

“The city of Oswego has an exciting amount of momentum working in its favor at the moment; not only in downtown, but throughout the entire community. The investment by Governor Cuomo and the State of New York will not only strengthen this momentum, but will allow us to fortify our focus on economic development for small businesses, job creation and retention, and emphasize all components regarding downtown livability,” Mayor Barlow said. “I have selected a diverse group of stakeholders from our community who all bring specialized expertise to the table so that the city of Oswego can deliver a multi-faceted, thorough, viable and realistic plan on how we can best capitalize on this extraordinary opportunity.”

The Downtown Revitalization Committee will be co-chaired by city Community Development Director Justin Rudgick and Planning and Zoning Director Amy Birdsall.

Other members selected by Mayor Barlow include:

Kevin Caraccioli,  City Attorney, City of Oswego
L. Michael Treadwell, Executive Director, Operation Oswego County, Inc.
Jane Amico, Vice President of Chamber Services, Centerstate CEO
Ben Walsh, Business Development Director, Mackenzie Hughes
Thomas Schneider, President and CEO, Pathfinder Bank
Zelko  Kirincich, Executive Director and CEO, Port of Oswego Authority
Pamela Caraccioli, Deputy to the President, SUNY Oswego
Paul Stewart, Executive Director, Oswego Renaissance Association
Patrick Carroll, Business Manager, United Association of Plumbers and Steamfitters
Shane Broadwell, Majority Leader, Oswego County Legislature
Stephen Butler, Executive Director, CNY Arts
Hon. James Eby, community member/residenty streets and more.

Oswego Dedicates Part Of East Albany In Honor Of Nolan Swift
It is fitting, race fans say, that the “Dynamic Duo” has streets intersecting across from the iconic Oswego Speedway. Nolan Swift and Jim Shampine competed side by side many times at Oswego’s ‘Steel Palace.’ Now they will forever more be wheel to wheel at the speedway.

Oswego Speedway PR director Dan Kapuscinski emceed the ceremony in the shadow of the Jim Shampine Drive sign, officially designating  the section of East Albany Street between Jim Shampine Drive and City Line Road as Nolan Swift Drive.

“Everybody associated with the speedway is very excited that a great group of people came together to do something that is long over due,” Kapuscinski said.

Kapuscinski never had a chance to see Swift race. “But I was very much honored to meet Nolan one time. It was several years back. “My father, Mike Kapuscinski, was a very big Nolan Swift fan and it was an honor for me to actually have that one great opportunity to meet such an amazing champion,” he said.

Swift stands as the grand champion of Oswego Speedway, with eight career track championships and six International Classics, “but more importantly he was a true fan favorite who helped cultivate the exciting and fan friendly atmosphere that the speedway has held since his retirement in the mid 1970s,” Kapuscinski said.

Robert Metcalf, a longtime Oswego Speedway fan, spearheaded the project during the 2015 racing calendar. With the help of Oswego Common Council President Shawn Walker, he secured more than 200 signatures to urge the council to pass the street dedication. The resolution passed the council unanimously.

The Future of Oswego County Reflects on The Future
The Oswego County Legislature held its annual Youth Government Day as dozens of middle school students from around the county got the chance to take part in county government.

Throughout the day, students met with their assigned legislators, visited the Public Safety Center where they met with representative from the District Attorney’s Office, County Court Judge Walter Hafner, and toured the 911 Center.

In the afternoon, they sat with their legislators and took part in the legislature meeting. Prior to the meeting, Legislator Shawn Doyle, of the county’s bicentennial committee, conducted a survey of the students.

He asked the young students various questions about the county’s present and future. One question asked where they thought the county would be in the next 50 years.

Among the responses were:

I see Oswego County having more factories and businesses and more people living here.
The economy will improve
I believe Oswego County will have converted to solar and wind power and not have the nuclear plants we have right now
I see Lake Neatahwanta being cleaned and people swimming
More people will move here because it’s too hot in the South due to global warming

The next question bumped it up to 100 years. These are some of the responses:

In 100 years, Oswego County will be full of new technology and businesses
It will be home to different cultures
Better education in the schools, more technology and perhaps flying cars
I believe if the world stays on this track, Oswego County will be close to or completely uninhabitable due to global warming
We won’t rely on nuclear energy. We’ll come up with better ways to produce power
I’d like to see the county powered by windmills and solar panels
There will be more diversity in race and religion among the population.

Novelis Celebrates Commissioning of $120 Million Automotive Finishing Line

Novelis, the world leader in aluminum rolling and recycling, May 23, celebrated the commissioning of its third state-of-the-art  automotive finishing line in Scriba.

Installed to support the production of stronger, lighter and safer vehicles, the line represents Novelis’ latest investment of $120 million to expand high-strength aluminum alloy supply for Ford F-Series trucks, America’s best-selling truck for 39 years and best-selling vehicle for 34 years.

Take a tour at:

As a result of this expansion, Novelis has furthered its position as the leading automotive aluminum sheet supplier in North America.

“As a result of our investments across the globe, Novelis is able to offer our automotive customers unique advantages and benefits through automotive lines such as this one in Oswego,” said Steve Fisher, president and CEO, Novelis. “Automakers are seeking alternative materials to cut vehicle weight while maintaining strength and safety requirements. With investments in Asia, Europe and North America, Novelis has the global footprint, assets and expertise to meet the needs of automakers in every major auto-producing region.”

Novelis is a key supplier for the Ford F-150 – the toughest, smartest, most capable F-150 ever – supplied from Novelis’ plant in Scriba.

Red Nose Day Garners Support For Those In Need
That reindeer at the North Pole isn’t the only one with a big red nose anymore. Hundreds of Oswego elementary and middle school students donned the bulbous proboscis for a good cause.

Leighton School held its Red Nose Day to raise money for the Human Concerns Center. Oswego Middle School’s students also helped support the cause.

“The students brought in money to donate and each received a red nose to wear in exchange,” Amy Armet, PR/Literacy Specialist at Leighton Elementary, told Oswego County Today.

The students and staff gathered in the school gym for a photo – and words of praise from Principal Dr. Larry Schmiegel.

“Our school social worker, Sarah Dodd, came up with this inspiration and we have jumped on board,” Armet said. “We used our own care and concern money from here at school to purchase the noses upfront and all of the donated money will go to Human Concerns.”

Dodd retiried this year and this was a nice way for her to end the school year – with a big project that promotes student awareness and creates a feeling of generosity in us all, Armet added.

“I have a big red nose. It’s funny,” one young student commented. “We’re helping kids. It’s fun!”

Leighton’s principal declared May 26, 2016, officially Red Nose Day at the elementary school. The red nose signifies laughter, he pointed out.

“The purpose is to make someone laugh. Today we come together to have fun and to put a smile on someone’s face and help those who are in need,” he said. “Today we have raised $287!”

The children and adults in the crowded gym enthusiastically applauded the announcement.

And, the children also applauded when the principal proclaimed he’d give lunch detention to any teacher the students pointed out not wearing a red nose.

“Every grade level had to choose a way to give back to the community. So this is something we did as a school-wide program,” Dr. Schmiegel told Oswego County Today.

“Students and staff at OMS had been purchasing red noses for weeks to wear on May 26. All faculty, staff and students got together with a red nose to promote this wonderful cause. Noses were distributed during lunches and the assembly began at 1 p.m.,” said Sandy Burroughs.

“Each nose was a dollar,” said Carol Jones, assistant principal at OMS. “We’ve raised about $1,000. Plus we have received even more as just donations today. During just the lunch periods, we’ve raise more than $150 more.”

Oswego Honors Its Veterans
Once again, dozens of people visited Veterans’ Memorial Park to honor and thank the men and women who fought and died for our freedoms.
Members of the area veterans’ and service groups spent the early morning visiting various parks and cemeteries in Oswego and surrounding communities paying tribute to our nation’s veterans. A few onlookers, several with flags and cameras, lined the parade route from West Park to Veterans’ Memorial Park shortly before 11 a.m. They applauded as the group marched by.

The larger crowd, many decked out in red, white and blue, ringed Veterans’ Memorial Park under the clear skies and warm temperatures greeted the group as it marched into the park.

Memorial Day is sacred to all veterans and families of veterans, according to George Hoffman Jr., of the Oswego City Veterans’ Council and the master of ceremonies.

He was joined on stage by Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow and Assemblyman Will Barclay.

“Today is the unofficial first day of the summer season. However, let’s not forget who gave us these times of pleasure and enjoyment. Do we, or our children, know why this day is so important? It is a time to remember those who gave so much so we can enjoy all these events. The sad part is that if we don’t instill in our youths’ minds the importance of this day, it will soon be forgotten,” Hoffman said.

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