Deadly Fire Marred The Start of 2009

OSWEGO, NY – The year 2009 got off to a somber start.

Eight people were killed in a fire in Richland early on Jan. 4.

Reports from the scene said the home collapsed into the basement, hampering the search for victims.

One person, a man living in the basement who tried to save others, survived the fire.

The home, at 1133 County Route 48, caught fire before 3 a.m. Oswego County Sheriff Reuel Todd said the home had no smoke detectors.

He confirmed that four children and four adults perished in the blaze. The age of the home and the lack of smoke detectors were contributing factors to the tragedy, he said, adding it was probably the deadliest house fire in Oswego County’s history.

The Oswego Common Council got reorganized on Jan. 5.

In a brief session, prior to the regularly scheduled committee meetings, councilors voted to appoint Dan Donovan (R-Fifth Ward) as the presiding officer of the council for 2009. He also served in that capacity for 2008.

The councilors also approved Shawn Walker (R-Fourth Ward) as the council’s vice president. He replaced Connie Cosemento (D-First Ward) who was VP for 2008.

As council president, Donovan will assume the mayor’s duties in his absence; and, if the mayor becomes incapacitated for any reason, Donovan would take over as the acting mayor.

Two busloads of workers from around the Oswego County area headed out from the Port City Jan. 7 to join working people from across New York in being heard loud and clear outside the state capital.

They wanted to deliver a message to Governor David Paterson as he delivered his first State of the State speech.

The March for Main Street sought greater fairness and better priorities for the middle class than what the governor has proposed in his state budget, according to Mark Kotzin, regional communications specialist for the CSEA.

The march highlights that communities, jobs and services are at risk under the governor’s plan, said Charlotte Adkins (Oswego County Local 838).

“The rally went exceptionally well, considering the weather we had,” Kotzin said. “The turnout was in the thousands. We had 13 busloads of people from Central New York, nearly 500 people.”

“Everybody was pretty fired up. It was a very big turnout,” Adkins agreed. “I think we made an impact.”

The Oswego Fire Department responded to a structure fire at 120 Ellen St. early on Jan. 10.

The fire was reported at 3:53 a.m. with first units arriving a few minutes later reporting a fully involved structure fire with two male occupants out of the building. However, two cats perished in the fire.

The home was a total loss, firefighters said.

“There were no working smoke detectors in the house,” according to First Assistant Fire Chief Jeffrey McCrobie.

When Barack Obama became our nation’s president on Jan. 20, an Oswego High School student was on hand to witness the historical event.

Outstanding high school students from across the country took part in a truly American celebration – the inauguration of the 44th president of the United States.

“I can’t wait to get going. I’m pumped!” exclaimed Tom Drumm who was a sophomore at OHS.

When Tom was in the middle school, his social studies teacher nominated him for the National Youth Leadership Forum in Albany, according to his mother, Pam Branshaw-Drumm.

“As an alumnus of that group, he gets invitations to follow-up conferences,” she explained.

“When I got the chance to attend this, I grabbed it,” Tom said. “I’m very much into politics; this is history, once in a lifetime, the inauguration of our first Afro-American president.”

“This event was truly life-changing,” Tom said. “For the swearing in/inauguration, I was about 200 yards away from Barack Obama.”

He also got to see all the other politicians including Vice President Biden, Secretary of State Clinton and the outgoing Republicans including former President Bush.

“I got to the inauguration about 3 hours early to get a great spot. The crowds were unbelievable,” Tom said. “People filled the National Mall all the way from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial. I was close enough to see Obama himself, giving his speech.”

“Obama’s speech was truly amazing. He gives hope to people every time he speaks! In his speech he seemed to take on all of the country’s problems head-on and just throw them on his back,” Tom said.

He admits “it was freezing” but it was “totally worth it!”

More than two dozen Girl Scouts were honored Jan. 17 for having completed the many requirements for the Bronze, Silver and Gold awards for the Girl Scout Council of Central New York.

Approximately 100 family and friends were on hand to applaud the young women as they received their plaques and other citations.

The ceremony was held in Priory Hall of St. Paul’s Church in Oswego.

“These awards are very difficult to obtain and require a lot of hard work and dedication from these young women,” said Alice Benjamin, a Girl Scout leader in Oswego. “In fact, only around 5.4% of registered Girl Scouts in grades 10-12 completed the gold award last year; one of these girls is right here in Oswego! This young lady even received a letter of recognition from the President.”

Elizabeth Scullin earned the Gold Award for creating a summer reading camp for area youngsters at the Oswego Public Library.

“It was a three-week reading enrichment program for elementary children,” she explained. “The first week we read books from around the world. Then the second week we read historical type books and the third week we read books about games.”

Nearly three dozen youngsters took advantage of the camp.

Susan Stewart, CEO of Girl Scout Council of Central New York, said she’s very proud of Elizabeth and all the other award winners.

“These girls are amazing! Just totally representing the leadership that we have to offer in this community,” she said.

The face of the Oswego Police Department is getting younger.

Several officers who joined the force in the 1980s have retired. On Jan. 26, six new recruits stepped up to replenish the ranks.

The six new recruits are Stephen Carroll, Derek Jansson, Kylie Black, Justin D’Elia, Jennifer Earl and Shane Spencer.

There were welcomed by Captain Tory DeCaire as family members and friends along with several current OPD members packed the Council Chamber to witness the ceremony.

The recruits are spending roughly the next year of their career undergoing training, first at the police academy and then under the scrutiny of a training officer in Oswego.

“It’s a very proud moment for all the folks being sworn in today and it’s nice to see so many friends and family here to support them,” the captain said.

Police Chief Michael Dehm Jr. said he is proud of the new recruits, pointing out the various ties they have with Oswego.

Kylie Black said she was proud and “a bit nervous” to join the Oswego Police Department.

“We got our lockers today. I think there are only five lockers in the entire female locker room,” Kylie laughed.