2018 In Review: April – Coakley Promoted by Oswego Health, Tresidder appointed Chair of Port Board, DSS Reports $1.1 Million Savings

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

OSWEGO – At the start of April, Oswego Health President and CEO Michael Harlovic announced the appointment of Jeff Coakley to the position of Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Oswego Hospital.

“It is my pleasure to announce Jeff’s appointment as he continues to advance in his career at Oswego Health,” said Harlovic. “Jeff is a proven leader who possesses a strong vision for Oswego Hospital and the health system as it continues its growth as Oswego County’s healthcare leader.”

In this new position, Coakley continues to fulfill his responsibilities for business development, overseeing the growth of the health system, which also includes strategic planning, physician recruitment and community relations.

As the hospital’s Chief Operating Officer, “He will provide leadership as Oswego Hospital continues to develop a positive culture for its physicians and staff, which, in turn, creates the teamwork that is necessary as we evolve to meet the needs of patients and remain competitive in the market,” added Harlovic.

State DOT Begins Intersection Improvement Project On Route 481
OSWEGO – New York State Department of Transportation Acting Commissioner Paul Karas on April 3 announced that construction has begun on a $1.9 million project to improve safety on State Route 481 at County Route 45 in the town of Volney.

The project would reconfigure the intersection to allow only right turns onto Route 481.

The intersection provides easy access for staff, residents and visitors to The Manor at Seneca Hill.

“Providing safe facilities for the traveling public is and will continue to be the highest priority for the State Department of Transportation,” Karas said.

Limited sight distance and a wide center median make crossing the five-lane Route 481 difficult.

Oswego County DSS Reports $1.1 Million Savings in 2017
MEXICO – The Oswego County Department of Social Services reported 105 cases of people whose applications for public assistance were either denied or withdrawn in 2017.

This resulted in $1.1 million in savings of avoided benefits costs for county taxpayers.

These cases involved attempts by people to collect benefits that they weren’t eligible for.

Legislator Roy Reehil, chair of the Oswego County Legislature’s Human Services Committee, said, “The public needs to know that we are vigilant in our attempts to prevent welfare fraud before it occurs, as well as prosecuting fraud when we detect it. We need county taxpayers to know that this is our highest priority. And anyone who would consider attempting to defraud us should know that too.”

The information was part of a report recently presented to the committee by Oswego County Department of Social Services Commissioner Stacy Alvord.

Harborfest Announces Fireworks Sponsorships, Entertainment
OSWEGO – Oswego Harborfest on April 5 announced a new multi-year agreement with its new Grucci Fireworks sponsors – Exelon Generation and Pathfinder Bank.

Entertainment for the festival also announced. Headliners include Don Felder (formerly of the Eagles), Almost Queen, Changes in Latitude and more.

The festival will provide free entertainment and music from nationally known and local acts as well as a wide variety of food and other vendors.

“I am very pleased to have Exelon Generation and Pathfinder Bank as the new sponsors for the fireworks,” Peter Myles, the festival’s executive director, said at a press conference at G&S Steamers in Oswego.

Port City Moves Ahead With Dock Replacement Plan
OSWEGO – At the Administrative Services Committee Tom Kells, DPW commissioner, requested a general budget amendment and authorization to purchase new dockage for the International Marina. Several of the docks had reached the end of their lifespan and had been severely damaged.

The request was $58,343.21 for 10 units plus shipping and handling, he said.

He also requested authorization to create a Request For Proposals for labor costs associated with the installation of the new dockage.

The recent flooding severely damaged some of the docks, Kells said.

Amy Tresidder Elected Chair of Port of Oswego Authority Board
OSWEGO – Terry Hammill stepped down from his position as board chair of the Port of Oswego Authority’s board of directors.

However, he remained on the board.

Vice Chair Amy Tresidder was named acting chair of the board and later formally elected as chair of the board.

DelConte Announces Candidacy For Supreme Court
OSWEGO – Oswego attorney, farmer and life-long Central New Yorker Scott DelConte April 12 announced his candidacy for the New York State Supreme Court, bringing his decades of legal experience and fiercely independent principals to serve the people of the Fifth Judicial District.

Throughout his career, DelConte, 44, represented a client base ranging from local businesses and families to Fortune 500 companies.

DelConte also serves as the Chancellor and General Counsel to the Upper New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.

“I have spent my entire career making sure my clients receive the best possible legal counsel,” said DelConte. “Now I want to advance the rule of law for the people of Central and Northern New York, with impartial and fair justice. It would be the highest honor to add my experience, integrity and independence to the bench.”

Huge Amount Of Aluminum Rolling Into Port
OSWEGO – The number of railcars rolling into the Port of Oswego Authority this spring increased significantly over last year.

“This is the 40th railcar we received since January,” William Scriber, acting executive director of the Port of Oswego Authority, said. “We basically had no railcars the two previous years. We are aggressively going at increasing our aluminum at the port.”

This is just one example of how the port is making a very productive stride at increasing its aluminum over the last couple years, he added.

The vast majority of the aluminum was headed to the Novelis.

“We basically haven’t received aluminum by railcar in about three years, I think,” Scriber said. “In the summer, we started an aggressive outreach to our aluminum producers and brokers and offered some incentives to bring it in via rail, via barge. And this is one of those examples that we’re now seeing aluminum turn around back toward railcar at the port.”

Soldiers Share Personal Stories Of Oswego’s 444th Engineer Company
OSWEGO – SUNY Oswego Public Relations major and Fort Ontario intern Alexis Bowering wanted to do something to the men and women of the 444th Engineer Company, 479th Engineer Brigade, USAR, stationed in Oswego.

With assistance from Friends of Fort Ontario, the daughter of the 444th’s former First Sergeant, organized the free program featuring personal stories from officers and soldiers of the company.

The Francis Marion Brown Theatre, located on the grounds of Fort Ontario State Historic Site, hosted the event.

Captain Donald Oechslin currently lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, Shelia, and their two daughters.

He spoke about his 2012-13 deployment to Afghanistan from a leadership standpoint, highlighting the planning process going into and during the posting.

He was part of Operation Enduring Freedom (2012-13).

From Fort Drum they traveled to California for training and then, more training in Louisiana.

In January of 2012 they all met back at Fort Ontario for the beginning of their mobilization to Afghanistan.

“I know, for me it was hard, as was probably for everyone else, being dropped off by your family,” he said. “It takes a special kind of person to sign on the dotted line and serve their country.”

Staff Sergeant Joe Pitre explained about his post to Fort Hood in Texas in 2003-04 as well as his deployments to Iraq in 2007-08, and Afghanistan in 2012-13.

“Our main mission was to support in-coming and out-going troops,” he explained. “We loaded and unloaded equipment and vehicles on planes.”

“Literally everything where I am now is just because of these guys and how they helped me grow into who I am,” Bowering said. “There’s no way I’d be over at Fort Ontario; most people at college don’t even know where Fort Ontario is.”

Leighton Officially Opens Its New Playground
OSWEGO – It was years in the making. The new Leighton Elementary School playground was officially opened in April.

Home and School Association President Jacqueline Wallace and Mary Ann Preston, a parent volunteer from the Home and School Association and the playground committee chair, officially cut the ribbon.

They were joined by members of the Home and School Association, volunteers and donors as well as Principal Kara Shore and Superintendent Dr. Dean Goewey for the ceremony.

Following the ribbon cutting, Shore invited everyone inside for cake and refreshments.

“Thank you everyone for coming. I remember when I first started here, one of the first things we were talking about at a school meeting was the playground,” she said. “As funny as it may be, every school that I’ve been in … it’s always been about the playground. And, never once have I been able to say in my tenure, any place that I’ve been, that we finished that project.”

However, the Leighton Home and School Association “went above and beyond” and all of our community members as well to make sure the playground project was successfully completed, she added.

Oswego St. Baldrick’s Gets A Boost From The Czech Republic
ISRAEL – Saints know no earthly boundaries. Such is the case with St. Baldrick.

Recently, the Port City hosted the annual St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraiser at the Lake Ontario Conference and Events Center.

The goal was to raise $75,000 to help fight childhood cancers. They had raised more than $61,000 so far, but were waiting for the final tally.

A chunk of that total would arrive from thousands of miles away – the Czech Republic.

“Our website currently shows $60,401. But, we have checks and cash to count, an upcoming breakfast (May 5) and long-distance shavees in Delhi, NY, and Prague, Czech Republic who are still fundraising,” local volunteer event organizer Dan Witmer told Oswego County Today. “Projected total is somewhere between $70,000 – $80,000.”

Spearheading the East European fundraiser was Witmer’s son, Brian.
Brian Witmer works for a group promoting the sport of lacrosse around the world. Currently, he was living in Israel.

In July, he flew to Prague to participate in a lacrosse tournament – and raise funds for St. Baldrick’s.

“I will be shaving my very, very long hair in public,” Brian Witmer said. So far, he and his brother had raised a little more than $1,000.

Nine Mile Point Unit 2 Refueling Outage Under Way
SCRIBA – Operators at Exelon Generation’s Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station removed Unit 2 from service just after midnight on April 15 to begin a planned refueling outage.

More than 1,700 highly-skilled local and regional union and tradespeople are in the area to support the outage.

For several weeks, they filled nearby hotels to capacity and bolster local businesses during a typically slower tourism period.

“As the business advocacy organization for the Oswego County region, we recognize and appreciate the significant impact that Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station’s annual refueling outages have on our local economy,” said Katie Toomey, executive director, Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce.

Oswego School District Announces New School Safety Measures
OSWEGO – The Oswego City School District will soon implement a new and comprehensive district security management system and is urging community members to familiarize themselves with the new policies to help keep all students safe at all times.

All buildings currently use single-point of entry access, monitored by security cameras, with all doors locked during school hours.

On May 7, all OCSD schools began using the Raptor Visitor Management System to control visitor intake and strengthen campus safety for students and faculty.

“The safety and security of our students and staff is the district’s highest priority at all times and the implementation of the Raptor system is another step in our mission to constantly improve our security measures and take pro-active steps to meet our student, staff and community needs,” said Superintendent Dr. Dean Goewey.

Visitors entering a district building will be asked to present a government-issued form of identification. The identification is then scanned or manually entered into the Raptor system by a staff member.

The Raptor system checks the visitor information against a national database of registered sex offenders.

Remembering The First World War
OSWEGO – This year marked the centennial of the end of World War I, making it the theme of this year’s Fort Ontario History Conference.

Historians from across the U.S. and Canada spoke on various topics including the Armistice, the Remembrance Day poppy, and Canadian Army physician and poet John McCrae whose poem “In Flanders Fields” inspired the adoption of the poppy as the symbol of remembrance in Great Britain, Canada, the U.S., and other allied countries.

Other 1914 to 1918 topics covered uniforms and equipment of the Canadian Army, and daily life of the Canadian soldier on the front lines and his family back home.

Fort Ontario State Historic Site Superintendent Paul Lear presented a discussion about the fort’s history as a U.S. Army general hospital during the “war to end all wars.”

It included its conversion from infantry to medical use, daily life, and the impact of the global Spanish Influenza epidemic on the post.

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