In April Chamber, Harborfest Named New Directors

OSWEGO, NY – Making maple syrup can be a real sweet business. A fickle Mother Nature can sour things in a hurry, however.

Sometime between the last week of February and the second week of April, the Oswego County maple sugar harvest flows, according to Jonathan Schell, agriculture team leader at Cooperative Extension in Mexico.

The 2009 season got off to a good, albeit slow start. The weather didn’t cooperate as much as the local farmers would have liked, according to Gary Hurlbut. His family has been producing maple syrup for 103 years.

“This farm, in its history of making maple syrup, has made between 965 gallons of syrup down to 175. So, anything in that range is possible. It’s all over the board,” he explained. “The deciding factor is the weather.”

Early on April 3, members of the Oswego City Police Department, with assistance from the New York State Police, conducted a sweep of suspects who were arrested on warrants for drug related offenses.

All of the crimes were alleged to have occurred in the city of Oswego.

The sweep was a direct result an intensified investigation conducted by the Oswego City Police Department with assistance from the New York State Police’s Community Narcotics Enforcement Team (CNET).

In early April, Harborfest’s board announced the festival had a new executive director – Tom Van Schaack.

“Tom knows his way around Oswego and is excited to be taking on the challenge of executive director of Harborfest. He is a motivated professional and has already hit the ground running and is looking to make Harborfest 2009 a memorable event,” said John Scardella, president of the board of directors for Harborfest.

A graduate of Oswego High School, Van Schaack holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications / Broadcasting from SUNY Brockport and has spent the past 23 years working in professional baseball for a number of minor league teams, including a stint as assistant general manager with the Syracuse Chiefs and most recently as general manager of the Huntsville Stars.

With Harborfest only a little more than three months away, Van Schaack said he was busy getting up to speed and would be learning on the run.

A (former) Pulaski police officer and his father, an (former) Oswego County legislator, were charged in April in connection with a hit and run accident that happened in March.

Investigators were able to identify the operator of the Jeep Liberty to be 24-year-old Lee B. Walker III of 160 E. Second St.

On April 6, Oswego police arrested Walker charging him with Leaving the Scene of a Property Damage Motor Vehicle Accident (Traffic Infraction), and Official Misconduct.

He was later sentenced to community service.

As a result of the investigation, police further discovered that Walker’s father, Lee B. Walker Jr. of 131 W. Albany St., was alleged to have obstructed the investigation of the initial incident by physically removing his son, Lee B. Walker III, from the scene of the collision.

Charges against the elder Walker were later adjourned in contemplation of dismissal.

Lee Memorial’s transition from hospital to urgent care facility was going smoothly, the president and CEO of Oswego Health said in mid-April.

“Oswego Health’s new urgent care center (the site of the former Fulton hospital) will be staffed with physicians and nurses. The center will be equipped to treat a variety of illnesses and injuries,” according to Ann Gilpin.

“Our mission is to serve the healthcare needs of the city of Fulton as well as southern Oswego County,” she continued.

She cited the Oswego Health board, the Lee Memorial board and the residents of Fulton for stepping up and making sure the healthcare needs of the area would continue to be met.

The transition process was slated to wrap up by April 27. The site would reopen as an urgent care center April 27.

Beth Dice Hilton was coming home.

In April, the Port City native was announced as the new executive director of the Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce.

“I read the news online just about every day, and read that (former chamber director) Jennifer (Hill) had resigned. Just a few days earlier, my husband and I were talking about possibly moving back, and what our ‘dream job’ would be; I said running the chamber!” Hilton told Oswego County Today. “I immediately started emailing old friends that had chamber connections to see where I should send my resume, not even waiting for an official job posting.”

She said she’s glad to be returning to her hometown and is “anxious to greet the staff and begin meeting members.”

Hilton began her duties as executive director the second week in May.

The Red Planet Skate Park closed in late April after serving as a place for thousands of local skateboarders and bikers to ride and just hang out.

The West First Street business closed its doors for good with a picnic for the skaters, staff and supporters.

The skateboard merchandise and equipment were long gone from the front office of Red Planet. The inside was pretty well gutted, only a couple ramps remained. A few skaters continued to ride until the very last minute.

“At 6 O’clock we’ll tear down the last ramps and lock it up. And, probably shed a few tears,” said Red Planet owner Bruce Bailey.