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Simply Your Best
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Christmas Light Tour makes season bright
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, Dec. 22 -- The Arc of Schuyler and Jefferson Village Apartments in Watkins Glen partnered to hold their annual Christmas Light Tour Wednesday evening, December 21 for Jefferson Village residents.
The first tour was initiated in December 2012 thanks to Floyd Wicker, a driver for The Arc of Schuyler and the public transportation system, Schuyler County Transit. Wicker proposed the idea for a one-hour bus trip that would allow residents of Jefferson Village apartments to see homes decorated for the season with lights and holiday displays.
“For people who don’t have their own vehicle, don’t drive at night, or don’t drive at all they may miss out on the beautiful festive displays in our neighborhood,” Mobility Manager Amber Simmons said. “It’s a fun opportunity that has become an annual tradition.”
Wicker continues to lead the Christmas Light Tour. He chooses the route for the year and fills the bus with holiday music to create a festive trip for riders.
The Arc of Schuyler is a specialized transportation provider for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities as well as the operator of Schuyler County Transit and Transportation Link-Line, a free transportation information and assistance service for Schuyler County residents. For more information about charter services, visit transportationlink-line.org or call 607-535-3555.
Photo in text: Bus driver Floyd Wicker (Photo provided)
To reach our website, click here.
Former fighter tells of concussions' effects
WATKINS GLEN, Dec. 1 -- A former professional boxer, now 65 and with Parkinson's Syndrome and CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) as a legacy of too many concussions, was the guest speaker Thursday at the weekly luncheon meeting of the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club -- offering a cautionary tale.
Ray Ciancaglini, a native of Geneva, a member of the Rochester (NY) Boxing Hall of Fame and the Genvea Sports Hall of Fame, a winner in his fighting days of the Golden Glove Heart Award, said the remnants of his varied achievements are days now where "it's a struggle to tie my shoes and remember names of friends" -- and where "I'm constantly in a fog. Now it's not what I want to do, but what I'm capable of doing."
Ciancaglini, who started his boxing career in the mid-1960s as a teenager in the middleweight ranks, says nobody ever knocked him out or knocked him down in his many bouts, "and I refuse to let dementia be the first one to do it."
After retiring from the ring, he decided to impart his cautionary message in speaking engagements around the nation at high schools, colleges, NFL Player Development Camps and youth organizations, all free of charge. His message: the possible ramifications of not addressing concussions when they occur.
"A lack of concussion education and peer pressure led me to my demise," he said -- a downward spiral that started when he sustained two concussions in two bouts held in one week, in Buffalo and Syracuse, when he was still a teenager. He failed to tend to the concussions, which led to what is known now as the Second Impact Syndrome, which altered his behavior from that of a good student to one who was often absent, sleeping excessively, and disdaining authority.
He said he tried to mask his symptoms -- chief among them headaches, from which he still suffers -- but was suspended from boxing in New York, fought in other less regulated states under pseudonyms, and lost the ability that had carried him to multiple decisive victories. Eventually he retired.
"This," he said, referring to his current state, "is the toughest fight of my life," alleviated by the knowledge that his message might save other young athletes from a similar fate.
While competition is great, he said, and injuries will necessarily occur in all sports, common sense must prevail.
"Hiding concussions is self-destructive," he said. "It's not a badge of honor."
Photo in text: Ray Ciancaglini speaking at the Rotary Club luncheon.
The honored Vietnam veterans pose for a photo at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel.
Lions honor 26 at Salute to Veterans
WATKINS GLEN, Nov. 29 -- The Watkins-Montour Lions Club Monday night honored 26 Vietnam War veterans at a dinner ceremony held at the Harbor Hotel.
In prepared remarks, Sgt. First Class John Antes, a retired member of the U.S. Marines and U.S. Army, said: “We are here to do what we should have done 50 years ago.”
Photos in text:
Top: Lion Dr. James Norton, right, presents a pin to Don Foster. Norton is a World War II veteran; Foster served in Vietnam.
Lion George Roy, left, presents a pin to Vietnam veteran Marvin Switzer.
Winner chosen in Labor of Love raffle
WATKINS GLEN, Nov. 22 -- The Labor of Love has conducted its first cash raffle, selling 200 raffle books of five tickets each for $10 apiece.
Half of the $2,000 raised was for the organization's benefit, with the other half going to a lucky winner chosen in a drawing Tuesday morning at the International Motor Racing
The name selected: Doug Habbershaw of Montour Falls.
The ticket was pulled from the container holding all of the raffle entries by an archival assistant at the IMRRC, Josh Ashby.
Photo in text: Josh Ashby, archival assistant at the International Motor Racing Research Center, draws the winning ticket from a jar held by Rev. Michael Hartney of the Labor of Love organization.
The north end of the St. Mary's Parish Center was a colorful blend of blankets at one of the many vendor tables at the bazaar.
Holiday Bazaars held in Odessa, Watkins
SCHUYLER COUNTY, Nov. 19 -- Annual Holiday Bazaars were held at two different facilities Saturday, one in Odessa and one in Watkins Glen.
The Odessa bazaar was held at the Odessa-Catharine United Methodist Church, where craft and art vendors sold their wares, and a bake sale nearly sold out in the first hour.
The fellowship hall was the site of a lunch, while Santa and Mrs. Claus met with children upstairs.
The annual bazaar at the St. Mary's of the Lake Parish Center in Watkins Glen also had its share of craft vendors, along with a food court, a cake wheel, raffles, a money tree and Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Crowds were thick at both locales, signalling the start of what is expected to be a brisk Christmas buying season.
Note: And they weren't the only craft shows in the area. Another was held at the Montour Moose Lodge -- all on an appealingly sunny day that turned colder in the afternoon and then wintry at night.
Photo in text: Santa Claus was on hand at the St. Mary's Parish Center, above, and at the Odessa-Catharine United Methodist Church.
Left: Alpacas were featured outside the Watkins bazaar. Right: Kevin Austin was manning the cash box for lunch orders at the Odessa church bazaar.
Left: Artwork was among the goods available at the Odessa bazaar. Right: Ellie Brown shows one of the books she has authored and was selling at the Watkins bazaar.
Dollhouse raffle to benefit St. James'
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, Nov. 8 -- A custom-built dollhouse will be raffled to benefit St. James’ Episcopal Church in Watkins Glen.
Built by Nick Dugo, a member of the Parish, the dollhouse has four rooms on two floors, plus an attic. Each room is wallpapered and painted, with moldings and trim and hardwood floors; a staircase connects the two floors.
The dollhouse has a cedar-shake shingle roof and, of course, is painted dollhouse-pink.
He built one which is a replica of his sister’s house in Bath, a Federal-style “mini-mansion.” That one is hinged, to open up all the rooms in the house. He previously built one for a St. James’ raffle, as well as one for his mother’s Church to raffle. This makes the 12th one he has built. All of them have been from scratch, and of his own design.
Photo in text: The dollhouse, to be raffled Dec. 12. (Photo provided)
Friends of the Watkins Library honored
Special to The Odessa File
Photo in text: From left, Marie Scott and Carol Sullivan, of The Arc of Schuyler; Harriet Eisman, Watkins Glen Public Library director; and Glenda Gephart and Sue Dugo of the Friends of the Watkins Library. In the front is Teresa Higbie of The Arc of Schuyler. (Photo provided)
United Way sets goal, names co-chairs
SCHUYLER COUNTY, Sept. 22 -- The United Way of Schuyler County began its annual campaign Wednesday with a luncheon for member agencies at the Montour Moose Lodge -- where Executive Director Peggy Scott announced a goal to raise $123,000 to help support 24 agencies serving county residents.
This year's campaign co-chairs were on hand and introduced: Dr. Ben Saks and his wife Marian. The couple, who live in Hector, have two young children.
Dr. Saks is in internal medicine at Schuyler Hospital, which is a United Way agency. He serves on the Schuyler Hospital and Cayuga Health System boards, and is an elected county coroner. Marian is a structural engineer who serves on the development committee of the My Place, A Play and Learning Center, and is treasurer for the Montour Falls Memorial Library. Both My Place and the library are United Way agencies.
The campaign officially begins with an annual Kick Off dinner featuring pasta and meatballs on Monday, Oct. 10 at the Montour Moose Lodge. Serving starts at 5 p.m.
Photo in text: Dr. Benjamin and Marian Saks (Photo by Drew Guild)
Ken Wilson wins Marie Bailey Award
SCHUYLER COUNTY, Sept. 22 -- The United Way of Schuyler County has honored Ken Wilson of Watkins Glen with the annual Marie Bailey Award.
Photo in text: Ken Wilson with United Way of Schuyler County Executive Director Peggy Scott at the Sept. 21 luncheon at the Montour Moose Lodge.
Festival singing competition winners named
WATKINS GLEN, Aug. 25, 2016 -- Organizers of the Gara Di Canto Singing Competition at the 2016 Schuyler County Italian American Festival have been announced.
Organizer Deb Switzer said the competition, moved this year after several years at the Firemen's Carnival in Montour Falls, was a success, and she thanked the Italian American Festival for hosting and sponsoring it.
Honorable Mentions went to:
1st -- Kassidy Samuels
Ages 17 and up:
1st -- Kasey Samuels
One of the many units marching in Saturday's festival parade. (Photo provided)
Carnival rides are a staple of the annual Italian American Festival. (Photo by Liz Fraboni)
Italian American festival ends its 3-day run
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, Aug. 15, 2016 -- The 37th annual, three-day Schuyler County Italian American Festival ended its run Sunday, Aug. 14 at Clute Park in Watkins Glen. A talent show and motorcycle gathering highlighted the final day.
Saturday had featured an annual parade, a fireworks show and a bocce tournament.
The festival, which attracted a large crowd, included live music on Friday and Saturday, “L’Osteria at the Park,” vendors, carnival games and rides, and Italian gift sales. On Saturday, a dominant feature was also the heat, as was a storm that night.
According to one festival spokesperson, Saturday's parade "went well, but nine units canceled or just didn't show up -- perhaps due to the very hot weather. And the fireworks were great, but they started almost an hour early and were shortened due to a heavy rainstorm." But she added: "They were still wonderful."
The festival president was Louis Perazzini of Watkins Glen. Don Stocum of Hector was festival chairman.
Histories of local families were displayed at L’Osteria at the Park, a gathering place on the festival grounds that also offered Italian music and gifts.
Local wineries were also hosting wine tastings at L’Osteria.
John Vona of Watkins Glen, for many years the organizer of the Italian American Festival parade, was honored Saturday as parade marshal. Joining him in the always-popular parade were festival Prince Vincent Ocasio, 8, and Princess Grace Roney, 7.
The parade route Saturday was improved this year with the shift of the parade’s viewing stand from Lafayette Park to Clute Park. The change helped with traffic flow and control. The parade started at noon at Watkins Glen High School and traveled north on Decatur Street and east on Fourth Street to Clute Park. The emcee, as in past years, was County Legislator Jim Howell.
The entertainment lineup included two bands on Friday evening. The Sam Pallet Band, a longtime festival favorite, returned for a 5-7:30 p.m. performance. The Cheyenne Band played from 8-11:30, presenting country music at the festival for the first time in a long time. Saturday’s musical entertainment was by Ruby Shooz from 8 p.m. to midnight.
The Gara di Canto, a community talent show with 25 acts, was presented Sunday at noon on the Entertainment Stage. The acts were judged, and prizes awarded.
The annual fireworks show, described by Perazzini before the festival as "still the best in the Finger Lakes," was held Saturday night -- though early and shortened because of the weather. This year’s show, produced again by American Fireworks Co. of Utica, was presented in memory of Stephen Treleaven, who worked for American Fireworks.
Carnival rides and games, bingo, a pasta-eating contest and a motorcycle show were also part of the festival’s weekend of fun. More than 20 food concessions and upwards of 50 craft vendors lined the midway.
Returning this year for Saturday and Sunday were continuous marionette performances by the Robert Rogers Puppet Company on center court in front of the pavilion. Also returning: the “Salami Shack,” a game that offered Italian meats and cheeses as the prizes.
The Tony Tallarida Memorial Bocce Tournament was played on renovated bocce courts throughout the day on Saturday.
Another of Saturday’s highlights was the pasta-eating contest, open to anyone of any age. It was held at 4 p.m. at the Entertainment Stage. "It had the best participation ever," said the festival spokesperson. "There were 10 kids and four adults. Curly's Family Restaurant donated all of the pasta for the contest."
The Kenny Larson Memorial Motorcycle Show was held Sunday. Motorcyclists and motorcycle fans were invited starting at noon. Parking was free for all motorcycles.
Except for the amusement rides and games, all of the entertainment was free, and no admission to the festival was charged. Parking on Clute Park grounds was $5 per vehicle. The festival had plenty of handicapped parking spaces available.
As part of its emphasis on offering a family-friendly experience, the organizing committee prohibited all outside alcoholic beverages from the festival grounds. Coolers and bags were being checked.
Local wines and ice cold beer were available for purchase at the festival’s beer garden, a designated area designed to offer a relaxing atmosphere for festival-goers 21 and older.
Photos in text:
Top: Military jeeps were part of the annual parade on Saturday. (Photo by Liz Fraboni)
Third: The pasta-eating contest. (Photo provided)
Fourth: An American Diabetes Association bicycle was among the parade entrants. (Photo by Liz Fraboni)
The Caledonian Highlanders marching bagpipers entertained boaters along the shoreline of Clute Park after the band participated in the parade up Decatur and Fourth Streets.
The Girl Scouts were among the festival parade participants Saturday. (Photo provided)
A Burdett Fire Department truck in the parade was carrying some young passengers.
Parade tops the Hector Fair's 2nd day
The fair, now in its 58th year, opened Thursday, continued Friday evening and concludes today (Saturday) with a full day of activities including rides, displays, vendor stands, food and music, along with a car show and farmer's market. It ends after dark with a fireworks display.
About 40 units of various kinds participated in Friday's line of march, held under a bright sun but with a cooling breeze. Among them were fire department trucks from Hector, Ovid, Lodi, Interlaken, Odessa, Mecklenburg, Trumansburg, Enfield, Beaver Dams, Watkins Glen, Tyrone, Montour Falls, Burdett and the host Valois-Logan-Hector. Rescue operations included Schuyler Ambulance, South Seneca Ambulance, and Millport Rescue.
There were tractors, and classic cars, and marching units including the Montour Falls Fire Department Band and the bagpiping Caledonian Highlanderes. There was a color guard from the Odessa American Legion 676, and a restored police car driven by Schuyler Sheriff's Deputy Andrew Yessman.
Politicians were on hand, including Assemblyman Phil Palmesano and State Senator Tom O'Mara. A trio of people were carrying a sign promoting the State Senate candidacy of Democratic challenger Leslie Danks Burke, who they said could not attend due to a conflict.
There was a baton unit, Lily's Marching Hope of the NY Finger Lakes Region, which raises funds in the fight against Huntington's Disease (www.hdsa.org), and floats from Hazlitt's 1852 Vineyards, the Backbone Ridge History Group, Rasta Ranch Vineyards, and the Hector Presbyterian Church's Vacation Bible School.
Two Goats Brewery had a pickup truck with a couple, the Dahls, holding -- yes -- two goats. And Ehrhart Energy had a pickup truck display with its riders handing out Erhhart frisbees. And Smokey the Bear was riding another truck.
After the parade, many of the spectators adjourned to the fair itself, where food such as clams and shrimp awaited, as did games, rides, displays and a book sale.
Photos in text:
Top: A bagpiper performs as part of the Caledonian Highlanders.
Middle: A girl studies the passing crowd from atop a Valois-Logan-Hector fire truck participating in the parade.
Bottom: Former Montour Falls Fire Chief Jeff Confer, left, and current Chief Billy Thomas marched in the parade with other members of the department.
Lily's Marching Hope featured an array of baton twirlers ranging from teens to young girls.
Among the parade participants were Smokey the Bear and a woman seated on a Backbone Ridge History Group float.
One of the inhabitants of a Hector Fair display.
As the sun set, a rider was spotted high above the ground on the Paratrooper ride at the fair.
The line of cheese customers was steady through the day at this Cheese Festival tent.
Annual Cheese Festival draws a crowd
CATHARINE, July 24, 2016 -- The fifth annual Finger Lakes Cheese Festival drew a clear, hot day and a crowd numbering in the thousands Saturday at the Hoffman farm -- home of Sunset View Creamery -- at Catharine Corners south of Odessa.
Sunset View is a founding member of the Finger Lakes Cheese Alliance, which puts on this annual family-focus event. A total of 65 vendors were on hand, among them new ones as the event grows each year. Thousands of people made their way to the site, parking in the Hoffman farm field off of the Ridge Road. (The crowd last year totaled 5,000, and organizers were hoping to equal or surpass that.)
The Planning Committee thanked the Watkins Glen/Montour Falls Lions Club, The Spirit of Schuyler, and the Odessa Fire Department for providing assistance at the festival.
Photos in text:
Top: Hayrides were among the Cheese Festival attractions.
Second: Animals of various kinds and size were on hand for petting.
Third: Drew Guild served as announcer.
Bottom: Festival T-shirts with Whey Cool on them were available at a tent.
Heavenly Treats of Corning has been on hand every year at the festival.
The Finger Lakes Wine Lockers business of Watkins Glen was on hand with, among its specialties, quality cigars.
Left: Gloria Brubaker examines wares at one of the many booths. Right: A girl watches as Bonnie Scott of Odessa works behind safety glass in her mobile hot-glass studio.
Bob & Dee were among the musical performers. Also playing: the groups Sons of a Beach and The Tarps.
A food wagon attracted a constant line of customers.
Three entrants approached the finish line at the same time. Game On won its category: Fastest Elapsed Time Multi-hull-two or more.
Cardboard boats draw crowd to harbor
More than 40 entrant crafts -- going in heats of two around a course that ran from one end of the Seneca Harbor Marina to the breakwater, west to the pier, and then southbound to a finish line -- negotiated the water to the cheers of a large crowd lining the waterfront, pier and breakwater.
The event was broadcast by Fox TV, which will rebroadcast the event (see schedule here).
The race was preceded by a three-hour period in which spectators could view the boats in the parking area near the starting line. A Food Court -- featuring many vendors -- was also an attraction.
The races started at 2 p.m., with the following results provided by Waterfront Festival organizers:
Fastest Elapsed Time Multi-hull-two or more: Game On -- 2:49
Photos in text: From top: The Seneca Lodge entrant crosses the finish line: Game On is discarded after its race (a fate of most of the boats); and the Harbor Hound entrant capsized at the start of its race against Party Crashers, but its crew swam and pushed their craft all the way around the course, through the finish line.
A large crowd lined the Seneca Harbor Pier and breakwater, not to mention the shoreline.
Pre-race emcee Michelle Benjamin (left), and Renee Riley, singing the National Anthem.
The Party Crashers, winners of the first heat, near the finish line. The crew won its category: Fastest KIDS Boat under 12: Party Crashers -- 6:08.
The Hit Men, a brass band out of Rochester, were a hit with the crowd, playing both before and during the parade on Main Street.
Annual parade draws crowd to Montour
MONTOUR FALLS, June 11 -- Despite rumors of rain, the 60th annual Montour Falls Firemen's Parade was held Saturday under mostly sunny skies and a cooling breeze.
Five high school bands and 27 fire departments participated in the Main Street procession, along with various classic cars, antique tractors, floats and horses.
The parade was the highlight of the final day of the three-day Montour Falls Firemen's Carnival. A chicken barbecue was a popular stop earlier in the day at the carnival grounds, and the midway would be open until midnight, with a third straight night of live music.
Fire departments in the parade represented Pine City, Lodi, Wayne, Dundee, Hammondsport, Montour Falls, Dresden, Beaver Dams, Elmira Heights, Tyrone, Town and Country, Watkins Glen, Mecklenburg, Trumansburg, North Corning, Fairport, Penn Yan, Burdett, Odessa, Enfield, Horseheads, Valois-Logan-Hector, South Seneca, Branchport, Millport, Campbell, and Gibson.
School bands were from Jasper-Troupsburg, Dundee (a steel band), Odessa-Montour, Corning-Painted Post, and Addison.
Other musical groups included the Caledonian Highlanders (bagpipers), the Appalachian Grenadiers (drummers), and The Hit Men brass band out of Rochester.
Law enforcement was represented by the Schuyler County Sheriff's Department, State Police and Watkins Glen Village Police.
The parade drew a large crowd that lined Main Street from the Glorious T to a point well beyond Rte. 14. The line of vehicles and marchers took well over an hour to complete.
Photos from top: The Montour Falls Fire Department Marching Band; a truck from Elmira Heights, one of 27 departments represented; and Odessa scouts march up Main Street.
A Symphonic Steel Band from Dundee High School was transported on a float.
Left: A member of the 300-member Corning-Painted Post High School band. Right: A member of the Addison High School band.
Horses and horse riders were part of the Montour Falls Firemen's Parade.
State Senator Tom O-Mara (left) and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (sharing candy) were among the parade participants.
Among the parade marchers were the Appalachian Grenadier drummers.
Left: Odessa Fire Department members Keith Pierce and Taylor Rounds. Right: A member of the Caledonian Highlanders bagpipe band.
The Odessa-Montour High School Marching Band performed along Main Street.
Left: An Enfield Fire Department rough-terrain vehicle. Right: Emcee Jim Howell.
A member of the Jasper-Troupsburg High School Marching Band.
A throwback car draws some attention
MONTOUR FALLS, June 11 -- A police car near the front of the 60th annual Montour Falls Firemen's Parade was a throwback to the 1980s.
The car, a 1988 Plymouth Gran Fury, was driven in the parade by Schuyler County Sheriff Bill Yessman, who owns it with son Andrew Yessman, a Schuyler deputy. They purchased it privately about a year ago after finding it through eBay on Staten Island.
It has since been painted and striped by local artisans, with a rooftop bar of period police lights affixed. The bar was found, the sheriff said, in a barn.
The sheriff said his son had wanted to create a "period-correct car," and this offered the opportunity. The Gran Fury -- manufactured from 1975 to 1989 -- differs in name from the vehicles used in the '80s and early '90s by Schuyler road patrols (which were Dodge Diplomats), "but they are essentially the same car," said the sheriff, who drove one himself back in the day. "I was one of the last ones in the department to drive one," he said, explaining that he finally gave it up in 1994 "when it started falling apart."
This car is in no such danger. It was used first as an NCIS car, and then made its way to a Sheriff's Department in Virginia, where it was painted blue but little used. From there it was purchased by a retired policeman on Staten Island, who took good care of it. When the Yessmans picked it up, it was white. Minor restoration work remains, but it is parade worthy -- and car- meet worthy.
Sheriff Yessman said he and Andrew would be taking it the next day to the Chemung County Fairgrounds for a car gathering -- "a fun meet," he said. The weekend appearances, he noted, constituted the car's "coming out ... its debut."
Photo in text: Schuyler County Sheriff Bill Yessman with the 1988 Plymouth Gran Fury, renovated to a state that cars like it possessed back in the '80s and early '90s.
The exterior of the apartment complex, as viewed from a sidewalk along Decatur Street.
Ribbon cut for apartment complex in former Watkins Glen Middle School
Portions of the following were provided special to The Odessa File.
WATKINS GLEN, March 10, 2016 -- It was ribbon-cutting time Thursday morning for the new apartment development in the former Watkins Glen Middle School, and it drew a crowd.
State, county and village representatives were on hand for speeches, and scores of area residents turned out for the occasion -- which culminated with the familiar ribbon-slicing ceremony.
Then came snacks and self-tours of the facility, where 20 of the 51 apartments -- designed for lower income senior residents -- were already occupied.
Representatives of New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR), Two Plus Four Construction, the SEPP Management Group, and contributing partners were on hand to mark completion of the complex, known as Watkins Glen School Apartments.
Located at 906 N. Decatur Street, the newly created apartments are among the thousands of units that form the foundation of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s new, $10 billion House New York 2020 program to create or preserve 100,000 affordable units over the next five years.
The former school now consists of 44 one-bedroom apartments, and 7 two-bedroom apartments. The $14.3 million project includes an important extra benefit for the community in the form of civic space to be created by rehabilitating the former school’s existing auditorium and gymnasium.
The three-story building’s residential units are located on the first, second and third floors and are accessible by both stairs and an elevator. Laundry facilities are available on each floor, and the development provides a large community room with a kitchenette and a computer lab on the first floor. Two additional activity rooms are on an upper floor.
The building is located near downtown and the Watkins Glen harbor district. A grocery store, pharmacy and local retail shops are all within walking distance of the site.
On hand with speeches were:
Anthony F. Fiala, Jr. Executive Director/CEO of SEPP Management, which spearheaded the project. He said: “On behalf of SEPP, we are very pleased to be part of the Village of Watkins Glen and the County. It was a team effort with our partner Two Plus Four Construction and the result is an incredible project that will provide safe, affordable housing for generations to come.”
Susan M. Kimmel, President of Two Plus Four Construction, who said: “Watkins Glen School Apartments is a perfect example of a successful public/private partnership. In working closely with the development team, New York State Homes and Community Renewal has given the Village of Watkins Glen the opportunity to see the reuse of a historic landmark central to their Village while providing much needed housing to the seniors in their community.” Two Plus Four Construction served as the general contractor.
Senator Thomas F. O’Mara, who said: “What a fantastic, innovative project to help Watkins Glen address the critical need for more affordable senior housing, which remains a challenge across the region and state.”
Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, who said: "What a great day. This is what partnership is all about."
Said County Administrator Tim O'Hearn -- who first brought the building to the attention of SEPP: "This is an exciting time in a community with a progressive vision. This project is a huge asset to the community."
Watkins Glen Deputy Mayor Gary Schmidt, who charmed the sizable crowd at the ceremony, said this: "This (turnout) is crazy. I thank everyone for coming. What a great project, and a quality development ... I wish Governor Cuomo was here because I wore a tie today."
As an historic landmark, features such as the school lockers, skylights, doors and woodwork, chalk boards and other original fixtures and details have been retained, as a reminder of the building’s original use. They also add decorative elements and character to the building.
HCR funding for this $14.3 million project -- which began in November 2014 -- was provided through the Housing Trust Fund (HTF) and Federal Low-Income Housing Credit (LIHC) Programs, which leveraged an NBT Bank loan; Federal and State Historic Tax Credit Equity; NYSERDA incentives, and a deferred developer fee. Citi Community Capital provided the construction loan. HCR’s Rural & Urban Community Investment Fund program and Empire State Development, through a Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council CFA grant award, are providing funding for the civic space.
Residents began moving in on Friday, Feb. 26. The building is expected to be rented to capacity by April. Applications are currently being accepted. The gross rents (rent plus utilities) range from $485 to $616 a month, and will be affordable to households with incomes at or below 50% of area median income. HTFC Project-Based Rental Vouchers will be provided for the eight apartments reserved for frail elderly renters. For applications call 800-838-0441 TDD 711 or visit www.watkinsglenschoolapts.com
Photos in text:
From top: Dignitaries cut the ribbon; lockers populate a hallway; the kitchen in a two-bedroom apartment; and SEPP's Anthony Fiala, left, conducts a tour that included Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, center, and State Senator Tom O'Mara, right.
Ice Bar raises $25,000 for Red Cross
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, Feb. 23 -- The 2016 Ice Bar at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel in early February -- an annual three-night party celebrating winter and the region's wine and food -- raised $25,000 for the Finger Lakes Chapter of the American Red Cross.
"On behalf of the American Red Cross, I want to say thank you to the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel, sponsors and members of the community for their continued generous support,” said Chapter Executive Director Carlos McCluskey. “This is an incredible partnership that benefits the entire region."
"This marked the fifth year of the annual event, which has become a highlight of the region’s social calendar," said the hotel’s Director of Sales Christine Peacock. "Since its inception, the Ice Bar has generated $75,000 for the American Red Cross."
Donations from the event assist in providing relief to victims of disasters and helps people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies.
Photo in text: An ice sculpture that was part of the Ice Bar, an annual three-night party at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel. (File photo)
About the American Red Cross:
Left: Bonnie Scott, recipient of the Community Spirit Award. Right: Peter Honsberger, honored by the Chamber of Commerce for Lifetime Achievement.
Chamber holds its annual Winter Gala
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, Jan. 22, 2016 -- Men and women in elegant attire, live music by the group Suspect, a fine meal, silent auction packages, a Stock Your Cellar Wine Raffle, a masquerade theme, and awards for Community Spirit and Lifetime Achievement were all part of Friday night's annual Winter Gala at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel -- the largest fundraiser each year for the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce.
The event was presented by Visions Federal Credit Union and sponsored by Corning Enterprises.
The black-tie affair featured dramatic lighting and decor, not to mention stunning gowns. Event colors were white and gold. Attendees were invited to come masquerade style, including masks, and many did.
Cocktails were served from 5:30 to 7 p.m., and dinner from 7 to 8. The silent auction and Stock Your Cellar Wine Raffle was open from 5 to 8 p.m. After that came awards and speeches, and then the music from 9-11 p.m.
Honorees this year were Bonnie Scott (receiving the Community Spirit Award) and Peter Honsberger (for Lifetime Achievement).
Honsberger is well known in the business community, having operated the Great Escape Ice Cream Parlor at 221 S. Franklin Steet in the village for decades -- a business his Facebook page says he is handing off to his daughter Jackie.
He is a Navy veteran of the Vietnam War, and involved in various local activities such as the Chamber of Commerce, where he is a member of the Executive Committee. He winters in Florida, but was present for Friday's Gala.
Scott has had quite a week. She was honored Monday by the Odessa Village Board as its third annual Citizen of the Year, and now by the Chamber with its Community Spirit Award. She was introduced by daughter Keri, who will be moving with her parents to Virginia in the summer. Bonnie's husband, Fred, is retired after a long career running the Vedder and Scott Funeral Home. Bonnie, often involved in local activities -- including the Chamber's Ambassador Program and its Membership Committee -- helped Fred with his business, and is past owner of a Longaberger basket business and current owner of a glass studio, Joyful Adornments.
Photos in text:
Top: Brian and Loueda Bleiler in their masks. Brian is an optometrist.
From left: Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce President Rebekah LaMoreaux; Linda Confer, Branch Manager at Elmira Savings Bank in Watkins Glen, and Brian McKenzie of Finger Lakes Distilling.
Forum speakers air funding needs for people with developmental disabilities
Special to The Odessa File
WATKINS GLEN, Dec. 23 -- Arc chapters in Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, and Yates Counties jointly held a legislative forum on Tuesday at The Arc of Schuyler in support of the “It Matters to Me” grassroots advocacy campaign organized by the local agencies’ statewide affiliate, NYSARC, Inc.
State Sen. Tom O’Mara and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano attended the forum to hear families, self-advocates, and staff members share their personal stories focusing on funding needs for residential housing and program development, employment choices, and preschool programs for people with developmental disabilities as well as for a wage increase for direct support professionals at nonprofit agencies.
Jeannette Frank, Executive Director at The Arc of Schuyler, remarked that nonprofits provide critical services that contribute to the quality of life of the community, providing supports for some of New York State’s most vulnerable citizens.
Amanda Jakubowicz was one of many speakers at the forum. Jakubowicz, a service coordinator at The Arc of Schuyler, shared the story of a young man with disabilities and his mother who twice applied to the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities for residential placement. Their request was declined. The man has since lost both parents and now relies on a non-relative caregiver who continues to struggle finding a more appropriate housing situation to meet his needs.
“There are many people I work with in situations like this and without funding in the 2016 state budget for residential developments, where will they go?” Jakubowicz said.
Terri Rogers spoke on behalf of her brother Mike. She voiced concerns that without state funding her brother will lose the opportunity to work in a job he’s been successful in at Arc of Steuben for years due to New York State’s efforts to move people with intellectual and developmental disabilities into community employment.
She said she would like to see her brother have the opportunity to have a choice of employment options based on his goals and interests and the guidance of Mike’s circle of support, the family members and human service professionals that work with him every day.
“There are approximately 8,000 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities working in sheltered workshops across the state,” Bernie Berns. Executive Director of Arc of Steuben said. “People should have a choice about where they work.”
Arc of Yates Executive Director Daniele Lyman addressed the need for funding preschool programs for children with disabilities. These programs are at risk of closure. This is the first year Arc of Yates’ Keuka Lake School has received a rate increase since 2010. Lyman was followed by Adam Campbell, a parent of a child with Down Syndrome, who credited Keuka Lake School for his daughter’s progress and successful transition into regular education for kindergarten.
Many family and staff members also attended the forum to advocate for a minimum wage increase to compete with the NYS Labor Commissioner’s approved plan to enact a $15 minimum wage for fast-food workers.
“In my 35 years as an agency executive, the single biggest structural issue in our field has been the lack of appropriate pay for our frontline staff and the work they do,” said Michael A. Doherty, Ph.D., Executive Director of The Arc of Chemung.
Three parents, a residential manager, and two staff members spoke on the issue, reasoning that direct support professionals should receive a comparable wage increase or they would be forced to leave for better paying jobs, and supports for people with disabilities will be reduced.
“The expectations on direct support professionals have increased substantially and we are under enormous pressure,” Pat Wilcox, a 30-year Arc employee said. “Direct support professionals need a wage increase. We need it to retain employees, to recruit new employees, and to ensure people with disabilities have the best people working for them.”
NYSARC, Inc. is the State’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting people with developmental and other disabilities. Arc chapters in Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben and Yates Counties support more than 2,000 children and adults with disabilities and their families.
Photo in text: (From left) Michael Stamp, Arc of Schuyler board president; State Senator Tom O’Mara; Jeannette Frank, Arc of Schuyler executive director; and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano listen as Arc of Schuyler board member and parent, Jay Hoffmeier, speaks on the issue of employment choices for people with developmental disabilities. (Photo provided)
Schuyler County Transit drivers pose in front of one of the buses during the 5-year anniversary celebration. (Photo provided)
Transit marks 5th anniversary
WATKINS GLEN, Aug. 25, 2015 -- Schuyler County Transit celebrated its 5th anniversary on Tuesday, August 25 with a public event at its operation headquarters, The Arc of Schuyler. Members of the Schuyler County Coordinated Transportation Committee, the team responsible for the long-range planning and implementation of the public transit system, gathered for a celebration with legislative officials, bus drivers and riders.
In five years, Schuyler County Transit ridership has tripled, with about 18,500 passenger trips in the last year. Public transit opened in 2010 under a contract partnership between Schuyler County and The Arc of Schuyler, a not-for-profit organization serving people with developmental disabilities.
“With 30 years of experience training drivers, providing specialized transportation service, and maintaining a fleet of vehicles, The Arc was a clear choice for partnership,” said Schuyler County Administrator Tim O’Hearn.
Public transit launched in August 2010 with a fixed-route service to the villages of Burdett, Montour Falls, Odessa and Watkins Glen as well as a Dial-A-Ride service.
“The transit service is an important asset to Schuyler County. Senior citizens and many others need transportation to supports at the Human Services Complex in Montour Falls, the hospital, health care facilities, shopping, and more. This is an economical mode of transportation that is essential for our residents,” said Montour Falls Mayor John King.
The system made modifications over the years for rider convenience, installing bus shelters, adding stops, and adjusting the route to accommodate frequent riders, including people with disabilities and seniors. Said Tamre Waite, Schuyler County Office for the Aging Director and a member of the Coordinated Transportation Committee, “The public transit system is a safe, reliable and affordable means of getting to and from destinations. It is a great alternative when one must make that difficult decision to give up the car keys and allow someone else to transport them.”
Beth DeCaro, Property Manager for Jefferson Village Apartments in Watkins Glen, agreed and added: “Schuyler County Transit has allowed our tenants to maintain their independence for a longer period of time.”
In February 2014, the system opened additional routes to rural areas of the county, transporting riders from Bennetsburg, Hector, Reynoldsville and Valois to stops in Watkins Glen. The Corning Connections route was introduced later that year and has been utilized by Corning Community College students and employees of Corning businesses. Schuyler County Transit has also been contracted to offer shuttle services for events such as the annual Seneca Lake Wine & Food event at Clute Park and the recent Phish festival at Watkins Glen International.
“This is a time when public transport has never been more important in supporting growth and job creation,” said Judy McKinney Cherry, Executive Director of the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development (SCOPED). “For communities that can attract the right talent, the resulting wealth can be spread out across the economy. This is a win-win since there is a $4 economic return to a community for every $1 invested in public transportation.”
Speakers at the event included: O’Hearn; Waite; Jeannette Frank, Executive Director of The Arc of Schuyler; John Reel, NYS Department of Transportation; Dennis Fagan, Chairman of Schuyler County Legislature; representatives from the offices of Congressman Tom Reed and Senator Tom O’Mara; and frequent rider Debbie Ball of Watkins Glen.
“Schuyler County Transit has demonstrated an ability to serve riders and maximize existing transportation systems to benefit the whole community,” Frank said. “Public transit is a symbol of a community that is working together, and that’s what we’re celebrating.”
Photos in text:
Top: Schuyler County Administrator Tim O’Hearn enjoys a celebratory cupcake with Schuyler County Legislature Chairman Dennis Fagan looking on.
Bottom: Schuyler County transit rider Deb Ball, who spoke about the importance of public transportation for people who do not or cannot drive. (Photos provided)
"It's Kitten Season"
A Humane Society message
The following article was provided by the Humane Society of Schuyler County.
So, here in Schuyler County (at least at the Humane Society) we don't have four seasons. We have six! Winter, spring, kitten season, summer, kitten season and fall. And, the Humane Society of Schuyler County is swimming with kittens (and adult cats) needing homes. Cute comes in all colors, shapes and sizes. We've got 'em all. All of our kittens are sterilized, fully vaccinated, treated for internal and external parasites, tested for feline leukemia and have received any other necessary veterinary care. The adoption fee is only $75! A bargain!
Unfortunately, we get calls every day asking us to take in unwanted litters of kittens and are pedaling as fast as we can to make space for all the requests. We're doing everything we can, but the most effective way to prevent this situation is early spay or neuter.
We've been providing low-cost spay/neuter clinics for income eligible residents of Schuyler County for 15 years and have sterilized over 11,000 cats. But, it only takes two to tango, as they say. Kittens can become pregnant at only 4 months old and have as many as three litters a year. The resulting math is pretty simple ... too many kittens and not enough homes. A cat can be spayed or neutered as young as 3 months of age. Sterilization will prevent unwanted litters of kittens, reduce male/female aggression and fighting, and can also significantly reduce the risk of certain types of cancers.
If you'd like more information about our spay/neuter program for owned, stray and feral cats, please contact us at 607-594-2255 and leave a detailed message. We'll call you back to schedule an appointment.
Here's a good video to watch about the importance of spay/neuter:
If you already have a litter of kittens that need your care, check out this great video, loaded with tips on raising kittens:
The Humane Society of Schuyler County is a not-for-profit 501 c3 corporation dedicated to advancing animal welfare in Schuyler County. For additional information please call 607-594-2255 or visit www.schuylerhumane.org
Exchange students enjoy farewell weekend
WATKINS GLEN, June 18, 2015 -- The Watkins-Montour Rotary Club – along with the Corning, Elmira, Elmira Heights, Chemung Sunrise, and Horseheads Rotary Clubs – recently hosted 16 Youth Exchange students from District 7120.
Each year, monthly get-togethers are scheduled for the Exchange
students in the district. The June weekend is emotional for the students,
as it is the final time they are together as a group before heading back
to their home countries after a full year in the U.S.
The roadway on Bailey Hill in the Town of Tyrone was covered with mud after the storm. The Lamoka and Waneta Lake Roads had similar results. (Photo by Emily Grimmke)
Some scenes from the flood
SCHUYLER COUNTY, June 15, 2015 -- The rains passed, and the flooding receded in many areas of Schuyler County Monday, but damage was left behind.
Some roads were washed out or damaged, basements were still flooded, and the water on the lakes was up, carrying debris.
The photos here -- showing aspects of the flood and the damage -- were provided to The Odessa File by readers.
Photo in text: The Harley Davidson business at Alpine Junction was flooded. (Photo provided)
rushing along an intersection above Watkins Glen. (Photo
by Kevin LeRoux)
Swan Hill Road near Alpine was covered with water
Franklin Street in Watkins Glen was flooded at its northern end, below the curve into downtown. (Photo by Kevin LeRoux)
Monday cleanup included shoveling mud and gravel from
the Valero gas station lot,
Various roads like this one, the turnoff above Watkins
Glen leading to Tyrone,
Left: Meghan Coates as Pippin's grandmother, Berthe, sings. Right: Joseph Raymond, right, as Charlemagne, addresses Lewis (Justin Hickey) and Fastrada (Dana Roberts).
'Pippin' ends its run at O-M
ODESSA, March 14, 2015 -- The Odessa-Montour High School spring musical, "Pippin," ended its three-day run with matinee and evening shows Saturday in the school's Fetter-Brown Auditorium.
Twenty-five senior high school students worked with director Kim Laursen and choreographer Manley Gavich to prepare the show.
Its story is based loosely on the reign of one of France's greatest kings, Charlemagne, played by Joseph Raymond. His eldest son and heir to the throne, Pippin (Logan Barrett on Thursday and Saturday nights, and John Coates on Friday night and Saturday afternoon), spends the duration of the play trying to find his higher purpose in life, his "Corner of the Sky." His stepmother Fastrada (Cheyenne Barrett, Dana Roberts) does everything she can to get her son Lewis (Justin Hickey) to be next in line to the throne.
In Pippin's search for something extraordinary, he is helped every step of the way by the Leading Player (Manley Gavich, Emma Raymond), and also by his dear grandmother Berthe (Bronwyn Stermer, Maggie Coates).
After trying his hand at being a warrior, a partyer, a politico and a temporary king, Pippin almost gives up. A beautiful widow with a large estate to run and a son (Theo, played by Ben Campbell) is Pippin's next attempt to find something extraordinary. Is Catherine (Rosie Peckham, Sarah Norton) the answer to his dilemma?
For Director Laursen, this was the last show she will direct at O-M before retiring in July.
"Pippin" is presented with special permission from Music Theatre International of New York, NY.
Photos in text: Pippin (John Coates) addresses a rally with the character known as the Leading Player (Emma Raymond) at his side; a dance sequence in Act One.
Thursday night photos:
Cast members Rosemary Peckham (left) and Bronwyn Stermer.
Cheyenne Barrett and Justin Hickey in a musical number from "Pippin."
Left: Joseph Raymond as Charlemagne. Right: Emma Raymond.
Left: Nina Linton in a dance number. Right: Logan Barrett as the title character, Pippin.
On the Waterfront
This was the scene one pleasant day in Clute Park, along the southern shore of Seneca Lake.
The Indian of the Lake
WATKINS GLEN, March 30 -- This photo -- an old aerial view of Seneca Lake -- was shown to the editor while he was visiting the Legislature office in the Schuyler County Office Building.
It was in the possession of an official there.
The editor didn't see it at first -- but does now: the unmistakable shape of the lake, a lake named after an native American tribe. The shape looks like that of an Indian, kneeling perhaps, with head bowed, and a feather at the upper, northernmost point of the visible profile.
"Cool," said the editor when he finally recognized the outline. And interesting. So he snapped a picture of the picture for presentation here.
Check out the feature below
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869