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There’s No Place like Home: Why My Husband and I Chose to Build Our Life in Fulton, NY

To The Editor:

They say all roads lead to home and for a while I didn’t believe that; the reason being that I didn’t really know where “home” was.

I grew up in a split family, sharing time with my parents throughout the years.

My mom had me in several small town places in the North Country – Alexandria Bay, Theresa, Adams – my dad planted roots in Fulton where he grew up.

Every other weekend I would come to Fulton to visit. Sometimes I would even bring friends with me to show off that cool, far away town that had lots of fast food options, a Nestle Factory and even a roller-skating rink.

My favorite pastime was always picking my quarters out of my United States collectors map so that I could walk down to Carvel to get ice cream, always telling my father that I had money from my mom when he questioned where I got it.

Obviously if you’re familiar with any small town in the North Country, to a child coming to Fulton wasn’t so bad.

As a freshman in high school, I moved to Fulton full-time.

Never once did I ever question its success, economy, educational systems or even hometown vibe.

It was just home.

I took all the same classes I would have anywhere else, if not more.

I participated in sports year round, playing for GRB and club teams.

I made new friends, if not more as a result of a higher class number.

I had some really good teachers that I continue to have connections with.

I aced every Regent’s test, despite the weight that they put on you all year long.

I worked hard; I graduated at the top of my class and got into every college I applied to because of GRB.

Fulton was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Unfortunately, I said goodbye to Fulton half way through my senior year after my father passed away and my high school diploma does not read G. Ray Bodley High School.

I will always be saddened by this.

Fast forward to six years later: I’ve moved to multiple places in the North Country, to North Carolina, back to Syracuse and then in Liverpool with my husband, also a Fulton native, Mike Bleau.

If you’re from Fulton, you might know the name Bleau by Mike’s father, the State-Champion Fulton Wrestling Coach: Wayne Bleau.

Ironically, three weeks after moving back “home” from North Carolina in 2014, I met Mike for the first time at the Tavern on the Lock in Fulton one day while meeting friends.

We were both visiting Fulton that night.

Wayne was of course the “wing-man” making sure that Mike was able to sit next to me.

In the beginning of our relationship, we had discussed moving south.

I knew I loved it, and thought maybe he would too.

What’s not to love? Warmth, more jobs, and a better cost of living – you just can’t go wrong!

We quickly ruled that out as we learned the importance of family, and realized that our security and stability we had built here wasn’t worth risking.

Last spring after getting newly engaged, Mike and I began discussing moving closer to his job as a result of about an hour-long commute.

He works at Nine Mile and Liverpool was just getting to be too far, especially in these winters.

Luckily, moving was my specialty. I don’t mean that because I’ve got a record of more than 20 addresses in the past 24 years, but because I’m a licensed real estate agent.

Finding a place to move is one of my many specialties.

We looked in multiple surrounding areas of Nine Mile: Pulaski, Mexico, Baldwinsville – ruling out Fulton because we felt there could be better options for us.

One day, after scanning the internet for the perfect home, I found it – “the one.”

But was it too good to be true?

The price was right, the build was right, it hit everything on my checklist, except one thing: the location.

It was in Volney. I sat there, pondering how I could talk my soon-to-be-husband into moving back home after buying his first house in Liverpool – a community with what seemed to have many more options for people our age.

However, I saw no downfall. It was my dream house, and Fulton did not steer me away.

After seeing the house the first time, he immediately surrendered his hesitations.

We were moving back to Fulton, no ifs, ands or buts about it. One day as we were in the midst of the buying process, we stopped into the Tavern on the Lock for a bite to eat as we enjoy doing, and ran into some of our previous teachers from GRB.

We told them that we were moving back to Fulton, and they expressed something to us that I will never forget: “Thank you. We need more young people like you coming back to Fulton. We need more successful, driven alumni to believe in our community to get it back to where it used to be. We need your children to come to our schools and be the leaders like you were. Thank you for coming home.”

We bought our house in foreclosure almost $100,000 under the assessed value.

We underwent multiple renovations from Day 1, maintaining its beauty and believing in its potential, and will continue to invest in our home for years to come.

We walked into this house and pictured our future children growing up here, our friends and family sharing memories, hosting holidays – isn’t that what everyone hopes for in their pursuit of a dream house?

Not only did we say yes to moving back to Fulton, despite its challenging economy, its lower priced and slower-moving real estate market, its low rank in the educational system, and its lack of value to outside industries, we said yes to our future in Fulton.

Our children will attend these schools, we will continue to pay our taxes, we will support the local businesses that work so hard to stay afloat in hard times.

Of all the places in the world we could have gone, we chose to be the epitome of the saying “all roads lead to home.”

Today I work in the school system as both an educator and a coach, and am devoted to for years to come, in addition to practicing real estate in hopes to help revitalize our neighborhoods.

Mike continues to work at Nine Mile, a company in which we’ve decided to invest our future in.

We love Fulton and this community, and we trust in it.

We can only hope to be a catalyst in this very critical message to those who may not believe in our community, to believe in it again.

– Alyssa Moroz Bleau

39 Comments

  1. Nice positive letter, you are articulate and enthusiastic, you need to run for city council and spread your message of hope! Young people in communities helps revitalize them!

  2. This is a great letter and there isn’t anything in here that I don’t agree with but the fact that you live in the town of Volney not the city of Fulton. A Gary Bleau lives in Fulton but not a Mike. All those things that you mention about Fulton are true and would still be here even if it were a village. The difference would be your grand children wouldn’t have the high taxes. Why didn’t you move in to the City you so mention in your letter. Sorry to burst your bubble. Thank you for all the kind words and beautiful memories of Fulton it was a great story.

  3. A very positive letter. Thank you for sharing your experience. While “some” continually choose to be negative, your letter chooses to remain hopeful. Please don’t listen to the naysayers. Fulton and the surrounding towns will come back….because of young adults, as yourself , who choose to make things better.

    Thank you again. You will have a wonderful future now that you are back HOME.

  4. A nice letter. I on the other hand would never consider moving back to Fulton let alone New York State. I left in 1992 to join the military. Even after retiring from the military I never had the urge to return, despite a majority of my family still being up there. The jobs aren’t there. Taxes are skyhigh. Welfare and other social subsidies are a way of life rather than an exception. The school system is something to be desired. City management sucks. Infrastructure is crumbling and there is no plan on how to fix it within our lifetime. While family may be important, it’s not something everyone would be willing to put at the top of their list while giving up a lot in other areas. I know a lot of folks back home who are afraid to take that step out of Central New York. It perplexes me why that is. All I hear from them in the meantime is how bad things are economically, job wise, etc. They also cite parents getting older and health failing and now not wanting to venture too far from them. Seems like a lot of folks simply never leave for whatever reason and then wait around for their parents to grow old and die. I know that sounds a little harsh but hopefully those who read this understand what I’m trying to say. More than likely, people who choose to do that will never make it out of Central New York ever.

    I hope Nine Mile stays open for a few more years for the writer’s sake. The sad reality though is the plant is near its equipment end-of-life. While the new management has invested millions to keep the doors open, the required level of investment to keep it open long-term and upgrade the reactor plant fully simply isn’t there. This is simply a short gain financial move for the investor. They really aren’t concerned with the workers well-being now or ever. Ever notice how many new nuclear plants have been built in the past 30 years? Only a couple.

  5. Thank you for capturing some of the best reasons to be in Fulton. It is that wonderful attitude and personal commitment that will continue to rebuild this once great community. Thank You!

  6. Ariel, If that is the case then I guess all you people that live in Volney and Granby should start paying the same taxes as those of us that have chosen to still live in the City we grew up in and pay the high taxes. That will lower my tax bill greatly thank you for pointing that out. I will get on that on Wed. The first thing a person from either one of those towns says when someone says “Oh you live in Fulton” is “No way I live in Volney or Granby” Let me point out a fact to you Ariel…the zip code is only the post office that severs your address not location of the house you live in. This is just to easy.
    Louella, As always your ability to read and comprehend is lacking. Mrs. Colter is turning over. I have never once said anything negative about the city of Fulton. Only about the Leaders and the fact that the costs of having the Fire and Police are too high along with the taxes and fees. If you don’t think so well bully for you. This nice young lady lives out off the Emery Rd. I have a right to my opinion just like everyone else. Mine is a way to help save something and yours is to pick on the messenger in stead of coming up with a solution to the problem.

  7. Frank, having Fulton designated as a Village will help with taxes. But will it keep Fulton from getting any of the Federal Infrastructure $ that Trump will be handing out? I rely on your expertise to tell us what the difference, approximately, it would mean for a typical city home and lot. We live in Pollard Hills. Also, less in taxes would mean less to do any capital improvements for infrastructure. Perhaps you can explain the advantages of making Fulton a Village as opposed to remaining a city. I know the taxes we pay are very high in the city. What will we be gaining as a community if we become a Village instead?
    Thanks!
    By the way, great article by my daughter in law, Aly!

  8. A wonderful letter and a great testimony to Fulton and the Fulton area. There are a lot of great things happening in our small town. It’s wonderful to see a young couple realizing that is true and joining in. Thanks so much for writing such an inspiring letter, Alyssa.

  9. Dave, The answer to your questions would have been in doing a feasibility study. I have said all along that a study is needed to tell us just what is needed and what will happen. Fulton hasn’t been able to secure any grant money of substance as a city whether or not any would be available under the new President is not answerable at this time. Mine was an Idea and like all ideas they have to be researched fully before they can be deemed bad. To have people tell us that it’s bad and don’t do this to the city I grew up in but they fail to live in and pay taxes in is wrong. This young ladies’ story could be told by many but few are willing to stay and pay the taxes. People in the out laying area’s who use to live here aren’t willing to help out with sharing the burden of the costs to run a city they say they love. Ask them they will say no way it’s our problem we created it live with it.

  10. i have a problem,when the city sent out letters,telling us that there is an increase in camping fees this year,and yes dated the 19th,hmmm,funny how that worked out mr. city official,why does the back of the envelope say,FULTON THE CITY WITH A FUTURE…..really…. just what is going on with this town…not city…like i said it should read WELCOME TO MAYBERY N.Y….only thing missing is aunt bee,,the rest of the crew are running our drug infested town,,,anyone of you know what f.u.l.t.o.n.stands for?well we all do,,,ask me ill tell you,i cant wait for my wife to retire,another couple moving on,,

  11. When I travel out of state and people ask me where I live I say “Fulton, New York, near Lake Ontario”. I’ve lived and worked HERE for 48 of my 62 years. I shop in Fulton, go to the doctor and dentist in Fulton, get my hair cut in Fulton, go out to eat in Fulton, get my car serviced in Fulton, go to school plays in Fulton, go swimming at the Granby pool in Fulton, etc., etc. I’m a Fultonian. It’s easier to say Fultonian than Volneyonian. It’s also the name of my yearbook.

  12. Erik, you obviously have close ties, or you wouldn’t be taking the time to log on to view your hometown news. Heartstrings are tough to break.

  13. One final thought: Just so Alyssa doesn’t get the wrong idea. I think your letter is a fine testament to life growing up in the City of Fulton. There could be thousands of such stories. Because there are such stories is the true reason I do what I do. Thank you for sharing again here is hoping future generations will have stories to tell. If I didn’t love and care about the city I grew up in I wouldn’t feel so strongly about trying everything and anything to save what is left.

  14. What a wonderful story! This young lady wants to say nice things about our community, ( something so few do) and she gets bashed by so many, including someone who is a local representative for us.
    This is not a great welcome home for this young couple.
    Whether they live in Fulton or Volney they are still part of our community. This is so very disheartening .
    All I can say is “WELCOME HOME” and I wish you and your husband a
    wonderful bright future here.

  15. OK…Just when I thought I was out they draw me back in. Sheree Griswold…please show me one line where I bash this young lady. The closest thing to that was when I corrected her on where she lives. Other than that I in every statement I said her letter was very nice. Now if your talking about other people that made comments that is different because most attacked me or inferred their comments to me. Please facts vs fiction…Now I’m not bashing you here I’m asking for facts hopefully this doesn’t upset you. I represent the people yes but first and foremost I’m a taxpayer in the city I grew up in.

  16. I agree, you would be great in local politics! You are so hard working and organized. As if you didn’t already have enough on your plate. Good job Aly.

  17. Mr. Castiglia is clearly a negative person. He has a problem with every solution. Continually trying to make himself look smart at the expense of those listening to him. The time we waste reading his comments can never be gotten back. He seems to alienate those in Granby and Fulton as not having a worthy opinion. Fulton cannot sustain itself without Granby and Volney. We pay school taxes don’t we? We frequent local stores and restaurants. We pay sales tax. We help provide a revenue for “your” city. If Frank Castiglia thinks those who live just outside the city have no say in the future of Fulton. No problem, we can take our business elsewhere. Clay has a better selection of both stores and eateries. Why not even travel to Oswego. Frank Castiglia is counter productive to local government. I will guarantee he cant even control himself enough to not respond to this. Maybe he should conduct a feasibility study to see if Fulton can survive without Granby or Volney. Stop hitting the hand that feeds you Castiglia.
    With respect to the young woman’s letter. Good for you and your family. We need more of that. Mr. Castiglia should be ashamed of himself for even bringing the slightest bit of negativity to light from her letter.

  18. Welcome Home Alyssa and Mike and THANK YOU for taking the time to share your very inspirational journey back to Fulton. We are thrilled to have you.

  19. Debbie Downer Castiglia, if your going to call a person out have the guts to use your real name. You and one other person have used a fake name. First up is your fact that you pay school taxes. They go to the school district not the city to help with the costs of running the city. That may be a surprise to you. Then there is the stores that you go to in the city. There is no city sales tax. Only State and County. The city made a deal with the county a few years back that sends all the sales tax money to the county and they give the city around $6 million a year that just almost covers the cost of our Public Safety. That may change and then you will be helping pay for the cost of running the city and I will thank you for that. If the city could tax the residents of both Granby and Volney as they tax the city homeowners then our city taxes would be a lot lower. Yes I am a negative influence on local government because I ask questions of the handling of city business. but am I a negative person only in the minds of those that are uneasy with a person asking questions that they don’t want asked. Not negative but a realist look up the difference in the dictionary. Yes I had to answer this when there were so many incorrect statements made. Fulton will live or die on it’s own because the towns of Volney and Granby have spoken through their representatives and said they are not willing to accept the city into the towns. I’m sure you will say this is again negative and all I did was state FACTS.

  20. Debbie Downer…..YOU ARE SO RIGHT….Thank you for your honest comments about very negative statements made by an elected official. VERY VERY SAD….he just can’t help himself

  21. Mr Castiglia
    Definition of Negative
    -lacking in constructiveness, helpfulness, optimism, cooperativeness, or the like:
    a man of negative viewpoint.
    Definition of realist
    -a person who tends to view or represent things as they really are
    Mr Castiglia asked me to look up the definition. Clearly he didn’t review the dictionary before making such a bold statement. Wrong again Mr. Castiglia. You are negative not a realist per the resource you selected.

  22. You said we on the outskirts don’t pay for sales tax then you said that sales tax goes to the county and then back in the form of 6 million dollars a year. (city tax/county tax, either way)Just because they collect the money and then give it back to the city doesn’t mean that it didn’t originally come from people outside the city. (as well as inside) If I give you $20 and tell you to give it to the mayor, that doesn’t mean the money came from you. It still came from me.
    Your statement about our school taxes only going to pay for school. Our schools employ locals and those who commute into the city. They buy goods at our stores, eat lunch in the city. Those students contribute to our economy as well. Our school taxes contribute to the school which in turns contributes to the city economy. We many school activities that bring people into the city. Lets not ignore the schools either Mr. Castiglia or their value to the city.
    I think you are still short sighted about the contributions of those who surround you and keep “your city” afloat. You mentioned facts but the facts are only as short sighted as you understand them.

  23. Based on the real definition negative and realist.
    lets take a poll. Is Mr. Castiglia negative or a realist?
    Definition of Negative
    -lacking in constructiveness, helpfulness, optimism, cooperativeness, or the like:
    a man of negative viewpoint.
    Definition of realist
    -a person who tends to view or represent things as they really are

    Maybe once he sees that he truly is negative, he will stop trolling these pages every day trying to share his almighty wisdom with negativity.
    Mr. Castiglia, had you just left this young woman alone and not tried to dis-credit what she was saying because she didn’t live in the “city”.
    I think you owe her an apology but people like you cant admit when they are wrong.
    anyways, folks lets hear it. is this guy negative or a realist?

  24. Just FACTS Louella LeClair. The FACTS are why you are no longer an elected official but you are a POLITICAL APPOINTEE. Your voting record at the legislative level were FACTS, your millage reimbursement record was FACTS, the FACT that you voted yourself a raise and kept it again are FACTS. SO SO SO SAD. Your voting to increase the tipping fees to the city of Fulton again are FACTS. Your voting for keeping trash in the county is FACT..then saying “Well nobody from Fulton said anything” well you have to go to some CC meetings to see what is happening in the city. SO SO SO SAD. The FACT that you voted against lowering the number of legislators in a effort to lower the costs is on the record…FACTS…they hurt don’t they….And a person that votes no on spending and questions the spending and use of taxpayer money is considered NEGATIVE…by those that vote yes and accept everything, as that is the way it is. Good luck Louella sure has been nice bringing back good memories as to why I stopped voting for you and ran against you.

  25. Frank I think you are a very angry man when you get called out.

    Maybe I should remind you that you are elected to represent the city at the county level. If you think going to CC meetings and telling them what they need to do is representing them you are wrong. I worked with the council and the mayor behind the scenes. I didn’t grandstand. Ask the mayor how many issues we work together on to help the city. No press coverage…just hard work.

    Grow up Frank….stop being negative about the city.

  26. Don’t attack Louella because you failed to win the argument. That’s what children do.
    Still waiting for the apology for your “dig” at this woman.

  27. Debbie Downer Castiglia..1st Statement:”This is a great story and there isn’t anything in there that I don’t (should have been Argue not agree I didn’t proof read well enough)with but you live in Volney not Fulton” also in that statement”Thank you for all the kind words and beautiful memories of Fulton it was a great story” Now for the 2nd Statement: was a correction to Ariel about the location of living in 13069 zip code and reading comprehension to Ms. LeClair. 3rd Statement:Was to Mr. Dave Webber a man I voted for for President . 4th Statement: One final thought: “Just so Alyssa doesn’t get the wrong idea. I think your letter is a fine testament to life growing up in the City of Fulton. There could be thousands of such stories. Because there are such stories is the true reason I do what I do. Thank you for sharing again here is hoping future generations will have stories to tell. If I didn’t love and care about the city I grew up in I wouldn’t feel so strongly about trying everything and anything to save what is left “5th Statement: was an ans. to Sheree Griswold asking her to show where I bashed this young lady. 6th Statement was to you.7th Statement: Was again to Ms. LaClair reminding her of her voting record. 8th Statement 8th Statement: You are reading now: the 9th Statement will be to Mr. LaClair again. You people have gone so far away from this young ladies letter and tried very hard to attack me in hopes that I would fall for the bait and all I have done is state fact after fact and only giving praise about the letter.

  28. Louella, You have a hard time understanding that before I became a Legislator I was a taxpayer in the City of Fulton. Now that I am a Legislator I didn’t move out of the City of Fulton and therefore I have every right in the world to go to the CC meetings and bring issues to the CC about the City. Oh as far as your working behind the scenes I asked the Mayor if you had talked to him about the law requiring all garbage to remain in the city because of what you had said and he said you hadn’t talked to him. Also telling them that there is a raise in tipping fees coming isn’t consulting them it’s relaying news. Then you still voted in favor of them each time. So I guess you are correct you did work BEHIND the scenes and all of us thank you for Voting to raise everything next time buy us a drink.

  29. Debbie Downer–Mr. Castiglia and President Trump are the only elected Officials that are Realist…thanks for asking…I wish I could vote for Mr. Castiglia the way I voted for President Trump…

  30. Louella, That law is called “Flow Control” and it costs the city a lot of money because they can’t take their trash where it is cheaper and to a recycling area where they could make money on recycled material somewhere around $20,000 a year in lost revenue. So your voting record costs the city and the taxpayers. So thank you very much. And that was meant to be “County ” not “City” in my last post. Again you and your friends have taken this a long way away from a nice letter that the young lady wrote. You have a nice habit of changing the subject when ever you have the light shown on your past. Now say again how you stand by your voting record..I love it when you do that.

  31. “Now for the 2nd Statement: was a correction to Ariel about the location of living in 13069 zip code” is what Mr Castiglia stated.
    Who are you to correct anyone? What makes you think you need to chime in with your unnecessary comments of negativity? You hadn’t said a word til then. You cant understand why people “attack” you. You want to stand behind its not negative, its a realist thought process. Its not being a realist. You continue to take the bait. Come on Mr. Castiglia, I am holding the fishing pole and guarantee that again you just cant keep quiet!

  32. Excuse me I responded to the “sweet” letter from an intelligent young lady in the beginning appreciating what she feels through her eyes(period)
    Then all of a sudden it turns into a “whiners sewer” on here, please take it somewhere else, it’s embarrassing and juvenile! In small towns you do run into these people that you are fighting with, keep that in mind when you start your sniping!

    Still love the letter’s message…please write again, this paper needs positive comment!

  33. ….Frank and Louella, take your personal fight elsewhere. I feel bad for the voters in your district that you two have been their only choice the last couple of times.

  34. I want to SINCERELY apologize to Alyssa, her family and friends. I took the bait. Your letter was inspiring and uplifting. It was not about a political battle. My first response was WELCOME HOME. I mean it. Your desire to come home makes us all happy.

    My very best wishes to you.

  35. My zip code is 13069, but, I live in Volney, over 5 generations of my family have lived here. I never tell anyone I live in Fulton, because I don’t. So argue away, don’t care. I live in VOLNEY.

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