2018 In Review: June – Oswego’s Dog Park Opens, Festival Celebrates Bemelmans, Funding For Harbor Trail and Lighthouse

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

Festival Celebrates Bemelmans’ Times At Fort Ontario

OSWEGO, NY – The Port City’s annual Bemelmans Festival wrapped up in June at the Fort Ontario Complex.

The festival celebrated the 1917 deployment of Ludwig Bemelmans, author of the Madeline books, as a Private at Fort Ontario.

Dozens of children were able to interact with Madeline, fly their own kites, enjoy arts and crafts as well as several other activities.

From 1917 to 1919, Fort Ontario served as General Hospital #5 where sick and wounded soldiers from army camps in the U.S. and the fighting in Europe were brought for follow-up surgeries, rehabilitation, and convalescence.

“The Bemelmans Festival started last year to celebrate the life of Ludwig Bemelmans who is very famous for writing the ‘Madeline’ books. He was stationed in Oswego during World War I. He signed up with the US Army. They wouldn’t send him to Europe for obvious reasons, ja; you don’t want to give a German a gun and stick him in a US Army barracks,” Bemelmans (a.k.a. Oswego actor Matthew Fleming) told Oswego County Today.

Hundreds Turn Out To Christen Oswego’s Dog Park
OSWEGO – Moments after the Port City’s newest park was opened, it was filled with scores of canines running happily inside the two enclosures; sniffing all over while making new friends.

The dogs, large and small and just about every bred imaginable romped in the playground built just for them – without any altercations. It prompted one pet owner to remark, “If only people could get along as well.”

Oswego’s Dog Park is located at 375 Mitchell St., on the city’s east side.

The park took about two months to build. It’s filled with various exercise equipment and, of course, the ever present fire hydrant.

“We are an extremely fortunate community to have all of the good energy and good things going on in the community at this point in time,” Mayor Billy Barlow said. “I would like to think that all of these things happening at the same time are a product of a smart approach by Oswego city government.”

He also thanked former First Ward Councilor Connie Cosemento who had long championed the creation of a dog park in the Port City. When he first thought about making a dog park, she was the first person he contacted, he said.

“As a pet owner, I can confidently say that pets are considered family. I didn’t grow up with a pet and didn’t fully understand the idea until I got Sammy and he made me see the light,” the mayor said.

Support Fort Ontario’s Bid For National Designation
OSWEGO – National Honor Society members from the Oswego City School District attended Oswego County Government Day during the May legislature meeting to voice local support for an historic landmark.

Students throughout the district wrote more than 300 letters of support for Fort Ontario’s bid for national designation.

The five members at hand read aloud some of the outstanding letters highlighting the fort’s significant role in our country’s history and the importance of it receiving a national designation.

The letters were distributed to state and federal representatives to call for their advocacy in support of the proposal.

The Lighthouses of Oswego To Be Featured
OSWEGO – In celebrating the release of the new book, Lighthouses & Life-Saving at Oswego, the H. Lee White Maritime Museum at Oswego presented “The Lighthouses of Oswego” as its second installment to the 2018 History Lecture Series featuring Michael R. Pittavino, the Maritime Museum’s curator and coauthor of Lighthouses & Life-Saving at Oswego.

The lecture featureed a brief historical overview of the four main lighthouses that have stood watch over Oswego Harbor since 1822, as well as images of the US Lighthouse Service, US Life Saving Service, and US Coast Guard who manned the lights.

As part of Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series, Lighthouses & Life-Saving at Oswego features both iconic images of Oswego as well as those never-before-seen; presenting a unique visual journey of the maritime services between 1822 and today.

Councilors Updated On Lighthouse Restoration Project
OSWEGO – A grassroots effort continued to work to ensure Oswego’s iconic lighthouse shines on for years to come.

And, that it is accessible to the public.

In early June, the Oswego Common Council heard an update about the endeavor to restore the lighthouse.

“It’s really an honor to work on the lighthouse. It’s a very important symbol of our community,” Mercedes Niess, chair of the restoration committee, told the councilors. “I’m sure you’ve seen the symbol of it everywhere. People in Oswego really identify with that lighthouse.”

Niess was joined by the group’s board members as well as several volunteers and others.

She recognized Pathfinder Bank for its donation in support of a lighthouse exhibit (at the Maritime Museum).

Scouts, Elks Retire Flags At Fort Ontario
OSWEGO – Most people believe the right way to retire an American Flag is to burn it – whole. However, that is not entirely correct.

In June, historic Fort Ontario hosted several representatives of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, Oswego Lodge #271 as well as a large contingent of Girl Scout troops 10566 and 10567.

Nearly two dozen members of the public were also in attendance.

They conducted a U.S. flag retirement program inside the old fort.

Members of the public were invited to turn in their worn out flags for proper retirement.

Exhalted Ruler Nelson Metz and other members of the Elks assisted the scouts in the flag retirement ceremony.

The Elks receive many worn flags throughout the year, Metz said. They are properly stored until the next retirement ceremony.

Gary Thibodeau Denied Appeal Again
OSWEGO – I’m so grateful for the court’s decision. In the past four years, Chief ADA Mark Moody and I have literally spent thousands of hours on this case seeking the truth and doing all that we could to obtain justice DA Greg Oaks said.

I appreciate all of the trust and respect that Heidi’s family has shown us, and I pray that she is found and brought home so that they have some measure of peace, Oaks added.

It’s been more than 24 years now and the whereabouts of Heidi Allen are still unknown.

Gary Thibodeau was convicted in her kidnapping.

“The court’s opinion although split 4 to 3 was absolutely correct in all respects,” said Oaks.

“I’m devastated and disappointed and very sad for Gary. I’ll have to go to him again with very disappointing news,” said Lisa Peebles, Defense Attorney.

Yakkers Help Clean Up Along Oswego River
VOLNEY – On June 6, a riverside cleanup was done by the Oswego Kayaking Club (“Yakkers”) at the Stop 28.

This a small boat launch site on the Oswego River, Volney.

The typical litter picked up was fast food containers, foam bait boxes, food wrappers and cigarette butts.

The Yakkers is an informal paddling group that meets on Wednesdays at different Oswego County locations for casual paddling enjoying the various water resources of the county.

The group also participates with the yearly pulling of the invasive water chestnut on the Oswego River and other water bodies.

Mayor Barlow Announces $225,000 for Harbor Trail Improvement Project
OSWEGO – Mayor Billy Barlow announced a $225,000 project enhancing the Oswego Harbor Trail along Breitbeck Park and the Oswego lake front in the city of Oswego.

The Oswego Harbor Trail project will transform the recreational trail, clearing brush, weeds and overgrown vegetation in an effort to beautify the area and increase usage along the trail and Breitbeck Park.

The Harbor Trail project was originally included in the Waterfront Revitalization plan unveiled in 2016 and is the latest of many projects the city has started to revitalize and improve the waterfront area within the city.

“Immediately after taking office in 2016 we did a comprehensive waterfront feasibility study. Even before we conducted the feasibility study, I had a project in mind that I felt needed to be done and should’ve been done a long, long time ago,” the mayor said. “It is
unacceptable to have what should be the most picturesque scene in the city along our lakefront appear the way it does today.”

“Enhancing the Oswego Harbor Trail around the bottom of Breitbeck Park and along our lake shore will dramatically improve this walkway and make it look and feel the way it should,” Barlow continued.

Additional $75,000 Earmarked For Oswego Lighthouse Restoration Project
OSWEGO – On June 21, the H. Lee White Maritime Museum and Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow hosted an historic plaque dedication ceremony at the Oswego Lighthouse to recognize the historic Oswego landmark.

In 2000, the Oswego Lighthouse was placed on the national register through the efforts of the Heritage Foundation of Oswego County.

Thanks to a grant from the William J. Pomeroy Foundation, a plaque to recognize the significance of this historic building will be dedicated on the building.

The mayor was joined at the ceremony by H. Lee White Maritime Museum Director Mercedes Niess, the Oswego Lighthouse Restoration Committee, Oswego County Legislature Chairman Shane Broadwell, Oswego County Legislators and Oswego Common Council members.

In addition, Mayor Barlow officially announced $75,000 in funding from the city of Oswego to paint the exterior of the lighthouse.

Mayor Barlow Signs MOU with New England Regional Council of Carpenters Local 277
OSWEGO – Mayor Billy Barlow stood with members of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters Local 277 outside Oswego City Hall to celebrate the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Union and the city.

The agreement allows the city to supplement its existing workforce with members of Local 277 when necessary.

“This agreement allows the city of Oswego to reach out to the New England Regional Council of Carpenters Local 277 to assist with various city projects when we may need it. We support local organized labor and I am proud to partner with Local 277 as we work to continue improving the Oswego community,” the mayor said.

Oswego High School Class of 2018 Told: ‘Dream Small’
OSWEGO – After 13 years of school, it took 24 minutes to turn the OHS Class of 2018 into freshly minted graduates.

The first diploma was presented at 10:38 a.m. and the clock above the SUNY Oswego Campus Center’s ice rink clicked to 11:02 a.m. as the last graduate received their diploma.

“Are you excited? I know I am,” OHS Principal Patrick J. Wallace asked a bunch of seniors in the hallway outside the ice arena. “Any butterflies? It’s going to be a great day!”

Valedictorian Eleanor Lisec recalled when she first “moved across the country to a small town in Upstate New York; one that I had never heard of.”
It was daunting, but she overcame the fears and found “it wasn’t so bad after all … and, here we are.”

“For as long as I can remember, we have been told to dream big, to reach for the stars, that no dream is too far out of our grasp,” Salutatorian Danielle DelConte said. “However, allowing yourself to be consumed by the pursuit of a big dream often means missing out on life as it is meant to be experienced. The gift of living involves being conscious of your choices in each step of your journey.”
Dream small, she told the Class of 2018.
“To dream small requires us to suppress the need to always look ahead. It feels very counterintuitive, especially at this stage in our lives. But, dreaming small is to consciously decide to value immediate moments as they occur, so you can glean the most from them,” she explained. “The pursuit of happiness is often mistaken as the idea that we will find a better life if we work harder, if we are more dedicated to achieving the things that we selfishly want to gain.”

Mayor Barlow Proposes Partnership With County DSS To Ensure Safe Housing
OSWEGO – Mayor Billy Barlow announced June 28 a proposed partnership between the city of Oswego and Oswego County Department of Social Services that will require a landlord receiving rental assistance payments for their tenants from the Oswego County Department of Social Services to demonstrate compliance with all city of Oswego laws and regulations and must possess a valid city of Oswego Rental Permit.

The partnership, through a Memorandum of Understanding, ensures collaboration between the Department of Social Services and the city of Oswego Department of Code Enforcement allowing the two departments to work together to ensure that tenants relying on rental assistance from the Department of Social Services are placed in property in the city of Oswego that is code-compliant and has a valid rental permit.

This partnership ensures DSS clients are placed in safe, quality housing and increases the accountability of landlords accepting payments of taxpayer money.

“This agreement is a huge step forward for the city of Oswego and Oswego County. The agreement ensures that when DSS places tenants in the city of Oswego these tenants, many of them women and young children, are placed in quality housing with a reputable landlord,” said Mayor Barlow. “The two departments will work together in real time to ensure landlords receiving public tax dollars will maintain their obligation to provide safe, fair housing to their tenants.”

SUNY Oswego Wins Two SUNYCUAD Awards
OSWEGO — SUNY Oswego won two Best in Category awards in the State University of New York Council for University Advancement (SUNYCUAD) Awards of Excellence competition.

The college topped the Individual Events category for its March 2017 record-breaking Rokerthon effort, where 593 members of the campus community shattered the Guinness World Record for longest conga line on ice live on NBC’s “Today” show in front of Al Roker, a 1976 Oswego alumnus and the popular morning show’s co-host and weathercaster.

Oswego also earned highest honors in the Websites: Shoestring Budget category for its 2016-17 annual report microsite (https://www.oswego.edu/annual-report-2017).

Awards were presented at SUNYCUAD’s annual educational conference, held June 6 to 8 in Syracuse.

Both awards highlight the strength of SUNY Oswego, emphasize the collective commitment to excellence, and recognize the students’ and employees’ coordinated spirit and innovative efforts to come together to make an impact and achieve far-reaching success, according to the award submissions.

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