March, April Were Busy Months For Police

OSWEGO, NY – The following are just a few of the stories that made news in and around the Port City the past 12 months.

The county’s Child Protection Advisory Council began taking shape in early March.

The county’s health committee approved the 16 inaugural members. The full legislature approved them later that month.

The group’s membership represents a cross-section of the county of individuals all with significant connections to children.

According to Frances Lanigan, DSS commissioner, the resolution formally established the committee, as well as what its primary duties will be, what kind of membership it will have and other things.

The audience expected to see the outcome of a months-long fact-finding inquiry into a Middletown schools trustee’s conduct in early March.

Instead, they witnessed a visit by an old nemesis of Superintendent Ken Eastwood and by the Middletown police.

By 10 p.m., no mention had been made of the report by law firm Girvin & Ferlazzo into the conduct of Trustee Roy Paul. The board voted for an investigation into Paul’s conduct to see if it rose to a level that merited removal. On July 16 he was caught on a live TV feed to the district’s public access Channel 20, screaming in the face of board Vice President Linda Knapp.

After an extended executive session on legal matters and a pleasant interlude in which scholar-athletes and art students were honored, Oswego school board member Fran Hoefer approached the microphone for public comment.

President Will Geiger cut him off immediately, saying public comment was for local residents. Board member Nick Mauro loudly interjected that Geiger was violating open meetings law by stopping a nonresident from speaking. Hoefer tried to keep talking and chaos momentarily ensued before Geiger called a recess and cut the video feed.

Security asked Hoefer to leave. Middletown police were called and escorted Hoefer from the meeting.

“All I want to do is speak to the board,” Hoefer said. “I’ve been a victim of the same kind of illegal attack as your young board member.”

On March 8, the Oswego Common Council passed a resolution authorizing the mayor to sign a consent decree, requiring the city to spend an estimated $87 million over the next 12 years to fix the west side sewage treatment plant.

The pact was later reviewed and accepted by the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Environmental Conservation.

It was discovered (in 2006) that the operation of the wastewater treatment plant had long-standing compliance problems concerning overflow into the Oswego River and Lake Ontario; a violation of the Clean Water Act.

If went to the Oswego Farmers’ Market this summer, you needed to get going a little sooner.

In March the council agreed to a request from the director of the chamber to try an alternate schedule for the annual summer market place held Thursday evenings on West First Street between Oneida and Bridge streets.

The market’s hours were moved back from 5-9 p.m. to 4-8 p.m.

The change didn’t go over well with a lot of people, including merchants, as the season got under way.

Oswego City Police continued their investigation into the March 14 death of a 44-year-old woman.

Police investigators worked with the Onondaga County Medical Examiner’s Office to determine the exact nature and possible causes of the fatal injuries.

Investigators were continuing to follow up leads, and speaking to persons of interest as the investigation progresses.

According to court documents, an Oswego Town woman killed her husband “because she would rather go to jail than live the life she’s been living for so long.”

Joyce Malone’s trial is expected to get under way early in 2011.

Police Wrap Up Death Investigation

In early April, Matt Doheny kicked off a three-day announcement tour across the 11-county 23rd Congressional District with stops in Oswego, Watertown and Canton.

Doheny, who was raised in Alexandria Bay, was seeking the 23rd Congressional Seat. He now lives in Watertown and Alexandria Bay. A graduate of Allegheny College and Cornell Law School, he currently is a businessman who works as a portfolio manager for Fintech Advisory.

In announcing his campaign at Vona’s Restaurant, he vowed to bring “North Country values” to Washington.

When Zac Caruso, a sixth grader at Leighton Elementary School, received a puppy one Christmas he was thrilled to welcome the new pet into his home.

However, the puppy contracted distemper and died just two months after Zac received her.

Motivated by the puppy’s death, Zac decided that had to do something to help animals and raise awareness of the problem of cruelty to animals.

He began a can and bottle drive to benefit the city’s animal shelter. And, this fall he conducted another to provide “A Christmas To Remember” for a local needy family.

Zac was just recently honored by the Oswego school board for his efforts.

Harborfest 2011 could be a reduced version of the summer festival that has attracted nearly 250,000 visitors to the Port City each summer for more than two decades.

The Common Council voted 5-2 in April to approve the transfer of funding ($77,700) into the police, fire, traffic and parks accounts to cover anticipated overtime costs for Harborfest 2010.

The funding for overtime for Harborfest was transferred out of the appropriate budget accounts during the 2010 budget process.

In order to support the 2010 celebration, it was necessary to transfer funding from Account 1990.462 to the appropriate accounts under the fire ($15,000), police ($29,000), traffic ($4,700) and parks ($29,000), the mayor told the councilors.

Voting against the move were councilors Shawn Walker (R-Fourth Ward) and Bill Sharkey (R-Sixth Ward).

Even the councilors who supported the move agreed that the city cannot continue to spend so much on Harborfest related matters in the coming years.

“If we do not have enough money to run the city of Oswego properly, should we be taking taxpayers’ dollars to fund Harborfest’s party?” asked Sharkey. “I have received numerous calls from people in different wards, including my own, they’re saying they can’t afford the sewer fee, can’t afford the taxes, can’t afford to live here. And, we’re going to fund a hundred grand for Harborfest?”

Representatives from Harborfest and the city got together throughout the year to discuss what could be done to support the festival in the future, and at what level.

In mid-April, the Oswego school board spent about two and a half hours cutting approximately $80,000 from the proposed 2010-11 spending plan.

Board members approved the latest budget option 5-2. Voting in favor of the plan were Sam Tripp, Jim Tschudy, Dave White, Tom DeCastro and Sean Madden. Fran Hoefer and John Dunsmoor were opposed.

At times, tempers flared and voices raised as board members argued back and forth about what to leave in and what to leave out; prompting board president Tripp to call for an impromptu recess for several minutes.

When school district residents went to the polls in May, they voted on a $74,848,045 that contained a zero percent tax levy increase.

Approximately 80 Second Ward residents crowded into the Ponzi Recreation Center at Fort Ontario to discuss problems plaguing the area.

The April meeting was facilitated by Mike Myers, the ward’s councilor. Two police officers were also on hand to take questions from the residents.

The neighbors were concerned with the amount of vandalism, obscene language and all around mischief by some of the youth in the area, Myers said.

At the meeting some residents suggested taking a firm approach to the offending youth; others pointed out kids will be kids and if you respect them, they will respect you. Several of the residents were upset because they feel the police aren’t doing enough to curb the problem.

Betty Gray, coordinator of the Oswego Neighborhood Watch Program, suggested residents put a motion light outside of their houses.

“It’s sad we have to do this, but it will help to protect you and your property. If your neighbor is looking out for you, you will feel better and this is what the neighborhood watch is all about,” she said.

“For a first meeting I think it went very well,” Myers said. “There were times when a lot of people were talking all at once. There are a lot of issues and we need to address them.”

Near the end of the month, Coast Guard Station Oswego rescued a man and a woman from the west breakwall in Oswego Harbor.

They were walking along the breakwall when they fell in the water from six-foot waves. They were able to climb up the rocks and cling to the wall until help arrived.

A 25-foot small response boat crew arrived on scene within a few minutes to bring the pair back to the station safely.

Emergency Medical Services took both of them to Oswego Hospital, where they were treated for mild hypothermia.

A fisherman from the vessel Lucky Dutchman contacted the Coast Guard on channel 16 when he observed two people stranded on the breakwall.

The man and the woman, who were both students at SUNY Oswego, planned to visit the Oswego Lighthouse.

Five people sought the two open seats on the Oswego City School District Board of Education.

Elections were set for May 18.

The terms of Sean Madden and James Tschudy expired on June 30 and the newly elected board members would take office at the reorganizational meeting in July.

Submitting petitions and indicating their intention to seek a seat on the school board were Kathleen Allen, Jeffrey Carson, John Dunn, Samuel Sugar and Tschudy.

Oswego Police were dispatched to a menacing complaint early one April morning.

The complainant reported that a woman had displayed a knife and was acting in a threatening manner.

The woman had reportedly retreated and barricaded herself inside her apartment.

Upon arrival, officers attempted contact her. Although she wouldn’t communicate with officers, it was obvious to police that she was still inside.

Officers continued their attempts to communicate with the female and at about 7:25 p.m. police were able to establish communication. She was then taken into custody without any further incident.

Based on the officer’s assessment at the scene, the female was transported to Oswego Hospital for a mental health evaluation. No criminal charges were filed.

Also in April, city police wrapped up the lengthy investigation into the death of an eastside woman.

As a result of the investigation, it was determined that on March 14, at about 12:30 a.m., the woman was walking on Mercer Street when a man operating a 1997 Chevy pickup truck, backed out of his driveway and struck her; the collision resulted in severe head trauma causing her death.

Due to the time of night, lighting, weather and geographic conditions the driver didn’t realize, at the time, that he had struck anyone. Approximately 20 minutes later, when he returned to his residence, he discovered the victim in his driveway and immediately reported the incident to 911.

There were no criminal charges filed.

At the end of April, the city hosted an informational meeting among city officials, Harborfest representatives and the general public to discuss plans to once again locate the festival’s midway at the marina parking lot north of Lake Street.

The meeting was facilitated by Connie Cosemento, the First Ward’s councilor.

Up until 2009, the midway was located on the east side of the river, at the Port Authority. However, the Port began an expansion project in 2009 that facilitated finding a new home for the midway.

After much debate and vocal opposition, the midway was moved into the parking lot.

Residents of the area complained that the noise and lights from the rides and amusements coupled with the noise from the crowds would be major problems. They also said the smell of the motors for all the rides would be unbearable.

According to Harborfest officials and Oswego Police, things went rather smoothly last year with no major problems.

The midway was held on Lake Street for the second year.