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The Forum:

Please note: All letters submitted to The Forum are subject to editing by the publisher at his discretion. Editing will be done in regards to length, clarity, grammar, libel and good taste. The existence of this page does not give any letter writer free rein to publish anything that does not meet submission standards. This policy is in keeping with sound and longstanding journalism practices.

How can we be trusted?

To the Editor on October 19:

Our Kurdish Allies are dying, our ISIS enemies are celebrating and Russian troops are moving through American Military Camps abandoned by President Trump. American soldiers are at risk and have been bombing their own bases to destroy military equipment. ISIS prisoners are escaping and making the world a still more dangerous place. The world does not know what to expect from us. How can we be trusted?

The House of Representatives agrees, having rebuked Mr. Trump's actions by a bipartisan vote of 354 to 60. 125 Republicans voted to rebuke the president and 60 did not. Our representative, Tom Reed, is one of the 60!

Anne Myers

Hayden helped me through difficult time

To the Editor on October 18:

I have been hearing that the other candidates running for Schuyler County Judge have been saying Matt Hayden does not help victims of domestic violence. I would like to say that he truly does help the victims 100 percent.

I know this because I was one of those scared victims, and Matt was the District Attorney who helped me through the fear, trauma and unknown that comes from being such a victim. Matt Hayden never let me down and went above and beyond to help me through the most difficult situation of my life.

I feel Matt would be an awesome judge for the people of Schuyler County, and he has my full support.

Joyce Robinson

I want to know what a candidate believes

To the Editor on October 18:

As a response to Ms. Miller's comments in The Odessa File Forum, I am in complete disagreement. When I ask any candidate a valid pointed question, I would like an honest answer, not a deflection.

One more reason to vote for Steven is that our opposition is using smear campaign techniques instead of directly answering our questions. If you can get the opposition to directly answer your question, that would be lovely; however, pay attention to how they will skirt your questions. Ask the opposition directly if they support our 2nd Amendment gun rights or do they support our governor's grabbing of our 2nd Amendment rights. Don't let them answer with another question or a deflection.

Personally I would like to know if I am voting for a candidate who upholds and believes in the entire Constitution, or someone who would like to take parts of the Constitution out of existence.

If citizenry are told they cannot ask certain candidates particular questions, that in and of itself is infringing on my right to fair speech and for transparency.

Norma J. Burris
Town of Orange

Political positions aren't appropriate
for candidates seeking judicial office

To the Editor on October 17:

In the current campaign for Schuyler County Judge, one candidate (Steven Getman) has been promoting himself as a defender of the “Second Amendment” and long-term member of the NRA. This comes distressingly close to being a violation of the Rules for Judicial Campaign Ethics, which state in part:

“A judicial candidate is prohibited from appealing directly to the fear, passion or prejudice of the electorate ...”

In one case, the Commission on Judicial Conduct disciplined a judicial candidate for misrepresenting to the public that the candidate would be “responsible for all pistol permits,” not only because the statement was “legally incorrect,” but also because the misstatement of law “buttressed” the candidate’s overall “biased message.”

The taking of a position on a controversial political issue (“gun rights” vs. “gun control”) would be appropriate for a candidate running for Legislature (a policy and law-making body), but it is improper for persons running for judicial office.

Ethical questions aside, voters might also wonder just what Mr. Getman is saying about how he would adjudicate in the event he is elected. About the only Second Amendment issue that he would be called upon to determine would be in the review and issuance of pistol permits, which is largely a ministerial act. (You meet the qualifications, you get the permit.) Is Mr. Getman telling us that in the (rare) close case, he would rather err on the side of  Second Amendment rights than exercise caution?

Would he hesitate to issue an Order of Protection in a Domestic Violence case because the respondent would be required (temporarily) to surrender his or her firearms? Would he sentence more leniently a defendant who has committed a violent crime with a gun, than in some other manner? Does he believe the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to hold a more sacred place in the administration of justice than the many other fundamental rights of citizens that he would be required to uphold and protect in the event he is elected, including those enshrined in the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments?

Voters should be wary of a judicial candidate who asks them to “read between the lines,” as to a particular political leaning. It is the candidates’ experience, ethics and qualifications that should be the deciding factors.

Connie Fern Miller, Esq.

Note: Connie Fern Miller is a practicing attorney in Schuyler County. She was formerly the Schuyler County District Attorney, the county Public Defender, and the Watkins Glen Village Justice. She twice ran for the position of Schuyler County Judge.

Hayden is dedicated to the community

To the Editor on October 17:

The intention of this open letter is to show my support for Matt Hayden, who is running for Schuyler County Judge.

I have had the opportunity to witness Matt's professionalism in his current job as Assistant District Attorney -- as I was a member of a jury in a case he tried in the recent past -- as well as seeing his personal side as a customer of my local business.

Throughout the trial, Matt showed a great amount of knowledge, respect for all parties involved, and genuine concern. I was truly impressed watching him “do his job."

Matt has shown his dedication to this community by participating in many public and private activities. He has shown an honest, pragmatic and hopeful insight into our community's problems and needs. He truly and genuinely cares about Schuyler County.

I support Matt's campaign, and my intention is to vote for Matt Hayden for Schuyler County Judge in November! I want to spread the word to others of the value of Matt's policies and abilities, as well as his genuine care for a safe and successful community.

Christine Roberts
Glen Harbor Marina

Hayden is honest, dedicated and ethical

To the Editor on October 17:

My daughter was a victim of a horrific crime in Schuyler County. It was at this very emotional and distraught point in our lives that my daughter and I met Matt Hayden, Schuyler County's Chief Assistant District Attorney. My daughter and I were very nervous and uncertain when first meeting with Matt. However, he instantly calmed our fears, made us comfortable and was compassionate with my daughter, who was terrified. Matt explained the workings of the criminal justice system in regards to this particular case.

Matt met with us on several occasions and was determined to seek justice for us. His hard work and dedication to our case was remarkable. When our case finally made it to trial, his trial skills were superior. It was very evident that Matt spent countless hours compiling the facts and data to present this case. He knew our case inside and out, and he knew the law.

Schuyler County has an opportunity to elect an honest, dedicated, hard-working and ethical person to hold the position of Schuyler County Judge. Unfortunately, we do not live in Schuyler County, but the residents of Schuyler County should be proud to have Matt Hayden as their next Schuyler County Judge.

Sherri Thompson

Hayden is the best candidate for judge

To the Editor on October 17:

I am writing this letter in support of Matt Hayden as the next Schuyler County Court Judge. Although I no longer live in Schuyler County, and I am a registered Republican, I believe Matt Hayden is the best candidate for the County Court Judge position.

In 2003, Matt Hayden became the Assistant District Attorney at the Schuyler County DA’s Office. At the same time, I was promoted to Investigator from Uniform Trooper with the New York State Police. As the sole NYSP Investigator assigned to Schuyler County, I relied on Matt for guidance in many cases. Matt made himself available at any hour, on any day, to answer questions, give guidance, and roll up his sleeves to get to the truth.

Matt has become a leader as a prosecutor who has always taken the time to educate, guide and help make your local police officers work better. Matt works closely with all law enforcement agencies, Child Protective Services, local non-profits, and volunteers at many County events. Matt and his wife, along with their two children, are invested in Schuyler County and its residents.

The County Court Judge position is a 10-year term. Having been in Law Enforcement in New York State for 30 years, I have seen the effects on areas which have elected an ineffective County Court Judge. If you look at social media, I would say some recent decisions from the past elected Schuyler County Court Judge were not what the voting public expected or accepted. I believe that Matt Hayden would execute his role as your elected Schuyler County Court Judge in a fair, firm and lawful manner for his complete tenure.

I ask that you vote for Matt Hayden on November 5th.

Joseph Kelly
Retired NYSP

Hayden helped me at a vulnerable time

To the Editor on October 17:

I am writing this letter in support of Matt Hayden for the position of Schuyler County Judge.

I was sexually assaulted in 2017 and it was the worst experience of my life. I was apprehensive to even report my assault because the process seemed terrifying, invasive, and overwhelming. Matt Hayden and his team were incredible in the compassionate and thoughtful way they guided me through the process, from reporting with the police to court dates and plea deals.

Matt considered my feelings and comfort in every step. Matt and his team worked closely with me as they negotiated a plea deal, making sure that I, as the victim, was comfortable with every decision. Matt even took the time in the courtroom to pull me aside and check that I understood, and hear how I felt.

I am beyond grateful for the way that Matt Hayden made me feel safe during one of the most vulnerable times in my life. He helped me feel that I had control and power following an event that made me feel powerless and small.

Matt is a dedicated family man who cares greatly about the safety of his community. Matt is ethical, compassionate, and professional. Matt will carefully consider the needs and safety of every member of our community as he has with the victims who have walked through the doors of his office needing help and kindness.

Veronica Mintegui

New law enhances voting opportunities

To the Editor on October 16:

All democracies gain strength when voter involvement increases. For this reason, the League of Women Voters of Schuyler County applauds our New York State government for the passage of the new Early Voting Law. The law greatly enhances voting opportunities by establishing a 10-day period during which we all may vote before the regular Nov. 5 Election Day.

Beginning on Saturday, Oct. 26, and through Sunday, Nov. 3, Schuyler County voters may vote in the Legislative Chambers in the Schuyler County Office Building at 105 Ninth St. in Watkins Glen. This is the only early-voting polling site in the county.

The New York State League of Women Voters is offering online information about the new law as well as dates and times for early voting in every county in the state. The site is www.nyearlyvoting.org.

The Schuyler County Board of Elections has posted information about early voting at schuylercounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/7636/2019-Vote-Early. You also may call the Board Elections at (607) 535-8195 Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. The Board of Elections website is at www.schuylercounty.us/128/Board-of-elections.

We encourage all eligible citizens to register to vote and exercise this precious civil right in the 2019 election cycle.

League of Women Voters
of Schuyler County

Watkins Glen's water test results are in, and the numbers contradict August blog

To the Editor on October 16:

As many are aware, in late August a blog post implied that the Village of Watkins Glen water supply was contaminated and this was met with understandable concern and alarm by our citizens. The Village Board, being fully committed to providing for the health and safety of our residents and visitors, took immediate action to investigate these allegations.

As a result, we conducted carefully controlled testing and engaged a certified laboratory to determine accurate measurements of our drinking water. Results of this testing was just received by the village from Microbac Labs. The testing was conducted for all 14 PFAS class of chemicals with particular attention paid to the PFOA and PFOS class, which were the focus of the August blog. There were 14 separate tests conducted from the sample.

Of the 14 categories 12 were recorded as undetectable, including PFOS. PFOA was detected at 1.46 parts per trillion (ppt) while PFHxA was detected at 1.05 ppt. The August blog post reported PFAS levels of 21 ppt; our certified testing determined the level to actually be 2.51 ppt.

The EPA currently has a guideline of 70 parts per trillion limit. While no NY state guidelines currently exist, it is anticipated that it will set PFOA limits at 10 parts per trillion, which would be one of the strictest limits in the country. Our results are significantly under those limits. Additionally, we have been informed by the state that our test results meet Department of Health requirements for submission when the state releases their standards and requires testing of all public water systems.

The Village of Watkins Glen Board takes very seriously its responsibility to provide clean and safe drinking water. As outlined above, our village has taken the proactive steps to assure our residents that our drinking water is safe. It is unfortunate that misinformation is put out with the appearance of fact and unnecessarily strikes fear in the public.

Additionally, this administration has committed to improve our infrastructure. Ongoing updates to our water systems and the construction of a new waste treatment facility will only strengthen and enhance our future ability to provide the village with clean drinking water and protect this vital resource.

Luke Leszyk
Village of Watkins Glen

In support of Maggie Coffey's candidacy

To the Editor on October 16:

In support of Maggie Coffey, candidate for Schuyler County Legislature:

Maggie has impressive educational and professional credentials that make her uniquely qualified to serve as a Legislator. In additional to being a retired veterinarian, a former Corning Inc. employee, and an MBA from Harvard, she has a community-oriented background that I find compelling and impressive. She has worked with a number of organizations and non-profit groups over the years, and I'm personally happy to see her current work with the Food Bank of The Southern Tier and the Schuyler County Humane Society.

In addition to Maggie’s extremely impressive credentials that some say are too good for the Legislature, she has personal qualities that appeal to me. She is fair minded, logic driven, and not partisan to any one way of thinking. She is a gun owner and has been licensed to carry. That's a point of experience that I find important as our community discusses Second Amendment rights at the local and state level.

I have gotten to know Maggie and find her to be a warm and compassionate person. Maggie sincerely wants to improve the quality of life in Schuyler County. I hope you will join me in supporting her on November 5th as she seeks to represent the Towns of Orange and Tyrone on the Schuyler County Legislature.

Richard Ballard
Resident, Schuyler County

Rondinaro is trustworthy, dependable

To the Editor on October 16:

As Town Supervisor, my experience with Mark Rondinaro is that he is a thorough and responsible Legislator for our District. He is someone you can depend on to give straight answers.

Mark Rondinaro is trustworthy, reliable and dependable. Now he needs you to join me on November 5th to vote for him. Thank you.

Don Desrochers
Tyrone Town Supervisor

Van Soest: I'm announcing my candidacy

To the Editor on October 15:

I am writing to announce my candidacy for Town of Catharine Supervisor. I have been nominated by the Democratic Party and the independent Small GOVT party.

For the past 10 years, I have held this position, and I hope people are familiar with what I have to offer. I believe it’s important to be respectful of different opinions, and have made a point of giving fair consideration to all sides of an issue and listening openly to what people have to say. Our community has diverse points of view, and we make the best progress when we work together and build on the best ideas, wherever they come from.

Our biggest challenge is paying for necessary town functions while keeping taxes in check. Our Town Board members know how much tax increases hurt our community, and have worked hard to find savings and do things smarter. We’ve been successful: we have not increased the town budget since 2013, a remarkable feat that I’m proud of. We’ve been able to do this by trimming where we can and increasing efficiency, but we’ve still been able to maintain our roads, update our equipment, modernize our facilities, and remain loyal to our employees. We are now working on a budget for 2020 I expect will stay flat again, and result in a tax-rate decrease. My commitment to you is we will continue this effort.

I’m very grateful for the cooperation I’ve received from our board, clerks, and highway staff, because I know they were key to the good work we accomplished.

Thanks very much to everyone who has supported me in the past, and I hope I can earn your support in the future.

John Van Soest

 In support of Paul Bartow for Legislature

To the Editor on October 12:

The Bartow family moved to Sugar Hill in Schuyler County in the very early '70's. I got to know many of the eight Bartow children when I was student teaching and substitute teaching in the Watkins Glen Central School District.

Throughout the last several decades Paul and his wife, Martha, have remained residents next to the Bartow homestead on Sugar Hill. Paul has taught at colleges in New York State and Virginia, and is also known as an artisan and builder. Martha is a partner at Lakeside Veterinary Services in Montour Falls.

Paul is extremely interested in the services, roadways, natural resources, schools and general conditions of our entire community, but especially interested in making sure his very rural district is not overlooked.

He is intelligent, articulate, fair, and open-minded. He listens when people speak and truly hears all sides of an issue. He and Martha have dedicated so much energy in what they offer to Schuyler County with their many talents. Paul is exactly the voice many of us have been looking for on our Legislature. Please, take the time to get to know Paul Bartow and help elect him in November.

Phyllisa DeSarno

Leszyk: Vote for Matt Hayden on Nov. 5

To the Editor on October 11:

I would like to take this opportunity to endorse Matt Hayden for Schuyler County Judge. When we consider judges, we have to look past political parties and consider the best candidate for the job. That candidate is Matt Hayden.

I have personally known Matt for several years, and I had many opportunities to work with him directly when I was a New York State Trooper. Matt has always been fair, firm and compassionate. He never went into a trial without having all the facts and details. Matt has always been honest. He always considered everyone that a case would affect to include not just the victims but the defendants, too. His experience is extensive, and I always felt confident when Matt was trying the case.

The County Court Judge is a 10-year term and should not be taken lightly. I am confident that our county would be in good hands with Matt on the bench. Please vote for Matt Hayden on November 5th.

Luke Leszyk
Village of Watkins Glen

Maloney: Hayden is the best candidate

To the Editor on October 3:

I am pleased to endorse Matt Hayden for the office of Schuyler County Judge. I have known Matt for many years and he has always been fair and just in all his dealings with the public.

I have over 33 years as Sheriff of Schuyler County, and Matt Hayden is the best candidate for Schuyler County Judge.

Michael J. Maloney
Ret. Sheriff of Schuyler County

A Hackers & Wackers thank-you

To the Editor on September 25:

On behalf of the Board of Directors and the 22 agencies United Way of Schuyler County helps support, thank you to all who made this year’s Hackers & Wackers Golf Tournament an overwhelming success. Monies are still coming in and it is anticipated that we will be very close to raising $10,000.

There are too many to thank individually, but some who need to be singled out: Current President and chair of the committee John Franzese and the remaining committee members Sarah Matthews, Aimee Churchill, Lynn Cacciotti, Terry Taney, Mike Learn, Esther Heichel, and Jessica Smith. The monetary results are due to their hard work and efforts.

We are so very grateful to our sponsors, some of whom have been with us from the beginning. We know they understand the far-reaching effects of their continued support and the impact that it has on so many of our friends and neighbors.

We are just as grateful and proud of all the teams that participate. They, too, recognize the need for United Way in Schuyler County. For some, it is the only tournament they choose to play in. Without them, there would be no tournament.

Thank you all for allowing us to continue United Way’s mission of raising monies for health and human service agencies that serve Schuyler County residents. Remember, “One gift works many ways”: United Way of Schuyler County, PO Box 270, Watkins Glen, NY 14891.

Peggy Scott
Executive Director
United Way of Schuyler County

In response to Mr. Fagan's response ...

To the Editor on September 23:

In response to Dennis Fagan’s letter published in The Odessa File’s forum section dated September 20th:

I welcome Mr. Fagan’s comments, as any dialogue is good dialogue, especially when it relates to Schuyler County’s economic health. Information regarding the sales tax growth, and sharing thereof can be found at https://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/pubs/research/2018-local-sales-tax-collections.pdf and https://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/pubs/research/salestax2015.pdf . The take-away from sales tax collections for Schuyler County is that we are doing well and the numbers are growing annually.

In regard to sharing sales tax income with towns and villages, the large majority of counties in New York State share sales tax income. In 2015, 46 out of 57 counties outside of New York City shared a portion of their sales tax income with their towns and villages.

Schuyler County is the second smallest county in New York Sate with a population of 18,500. Relative to our sales tax collections, our county has performed very well. Sharing sales tax prosperity throughout the county is essential and should be considered a necessity for our economic health as a whole.

When applied to infrastructure, the returns are greater and save on future costs. California, by the way, is the highest taxed state, and New York State has only had "one-party" control from 2009 to 2010 and 2018-2019. In other years from1992 to 2017 the state was divided. Ultimately, and more importantly on a local level, this is not about perceived lines that somehow divide our county, this is about a small community of 18,500 that prospers as a whole.

For over 200 years, tourism has made a huge impact on Schuyler County, specifically the county seat. Recently, the county received $9.7 million for a Downtown Revitalization Initiative, $6.2 million for a new main entrance to Watkins Glen State Park, and $7.2 million to improve NY State Rte. 14. In 2020 we will see more improvements to Rte. 14 in Montour Falls. This investment from New York State is massive and suggests that our region has been targeted for economic growth. In conjunction with our geographical position within the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, Watkins Glen and Montour Falls are well suited for further improvements.

The “5th” infrastructure that concerns me most for District 7 and 8, is the lackluster network of fiber optic cable and broadband, which pales in comparison to the eastern portion of Schuyler County (across the lake). We must develop this 5th infrastructure for all the rural inhabitants of our county. Without access to the world wide web, our rural residents will be severely disadvantaged in regard to economic autonomy, professional growth, community resources and networks.

Mr. Fagan, I respect your efforts, and the legislative body, for maintaining the operational needs of our county. I know the legislature is faced with weekly challenges related to the economic, social, and cultural health of our community. We are in a pivotal position to address the future transformation of our county as it relates to digital technology.

I imagine a growth for Schuyler County that fully embraces the challenges of the 21st century in a manner that is proactive, rather than reactive. Our county must be an active agent for positive change in New York State. We are all stakeholders in its evolution.

Paul Bartow, Legislative Candidate
District 7 -- Tyrone and Reading

In response to the Paul Bartow letter ...

To the Editor on September 20:

This letter is in response to Paul Bartow’s letter published in The Odessa File’s forum section dated September 17th. Mr. Bartow states that “Our County shares less than 25% of its sales tax income with its outlying villages and towns yet its sales tax income has increased from year to year by 6 to 9 percent. This less than reasonable distribution especially when the County is doing well, needs to be adjusted to address the infrastructure deficits in our unserved and underserved communities. Property taxes need to be stabilized and assessments need be relative to the median income of our County’s population ...”

First, I would like to clarify Mr. Bartow’s misinformation on sales tax growth. Our recent sales tax growth since 2014 has averaged 3.8 percent annually. Our best year was in 2018 when we experienced a 6.9 percent over the previous year. Currently year to-date, through August we are 5.1 percent above last year’s revenue.

Second, there are no State statutes requiring the counties without cities, to share their sales tax revenue. Schuyler County is one of the few counties without cities to share sales tax revenue with local villages and towns. For example, Allegany, Seneca, Yates and 10 other counties do not share any sales tax revenue with their local towns and villages.

In 2016, with Schuyler County continuing to face adverse economic pressure from New York State in the form of ever-increasing unfunded State mandates (which local villages and towns are not subject to) the county capped sales tax revenue sharing with the towns and villages at $2 million for the next five years. In 2021, a new revenue sharing sales tax cap would be adjusted upward based on the extent of the total local sales tax growth experienced in the county over the past five years. This sales tax sharing cap was in response to the Villages of Montour Falls and Watkins Glen fearing reduction in their sales tax revenue as their neighboring villages and towns were witnessing in Chemung County.

Our villages concerns were justified as they were facing increased bond costs associated with the construction of the new regional wastewater treatment facility. Hence the county stepped in and promised their annual sales tax revenue of $2 million would not be reduced to the local towns and villages.

In further regards to Mr. Bartow’s comment of “this less than reasonable distribution,” I would also point out another economic benefit the county gives to our local towns and villages. Currently Schuyler County is responsible for the maintenance/repair and, if necessary, the replacement of 47 bridges in the county. A total of 27 bridges are along county roads while 20 bridges are scatted throughout the county’s 9 towns. I don’t know the history of how the county became responsible for these 20 town/village bridges. But, the economic benefit is substantial based on the 2013 replacement of the Mill Street bridge in Odessa at a cost of $588,671 or the 2014 Bower Road bridge replacement in the Town of Hector at a cost of $493,981, all paid for by Schuyler County.

In regards to assessments, I share Mr. Bartow’s concern for developing a more fair and equitable approach. But, the fact remains the county must abide by New York State law relative to the process of assessing property values. In regards to property taxes, my overriding concern has always been to minimize the property tax burden on our industrial, commercial and residential taxpayers. I am proud of the Legislature’s record in this regard as our tax rate has decreased from $10.40 per thousand dollars of assessed value in 2005 when I came on the Legislature to the current rate of $7.40 per thousand dollars of assessed value.

Finally, I would like to make a comment on how exceedingly difficult the Schuyler County budget is impacted by continuing unfunded mandates placed on us by New York State. This year has been one of the worst in my 16-year tenure on the County Legislature. Many of our county departments are being impacted including the District Attorney’s Office, the Department of Social Services and potentially Public Health, Probation etc. This is the price we pay (even though we are already the highest taxed state) for one-party rule at the State Government in Albany.

Dennis Fagan, Chairman
Schuyler County Legislature

A future of smart growth is necessary

To the Editor on Sept. 17:

I am happy to say that my campaign for Schuyler County Legislator, District 7 -- Tyrone 1 and Reading 1 -- is well underway. In the past few weeks I have had the pleasure of meeting with many of you while traveling door to door throughout Tyrone and Reading. I’ve had many good conversations with individuals who care deeply about the growth of Schuyler County and the condition of the rural areas. These conversations have been informative and touch on three main areas of concern within District 7: property tax hikes that shift radically and inconsistently, leaving many retirees and families with a financial burden; fragmented access to the internet, where some households have no access at all; and infrastructure that needs shoring up which involves town roads, culverts and ditches. These issues are not specific to District 7 in Schuyler County, but can also be found in District 8, which includes a small portion of Tyrone and the Town of Orange.

Our county is in a healthy position to meet the 21st century challenges that lie ahead for its 18,500 residents, the population of a small city by comparison. We have a robust tourism economy which has kept the county’s budget in good shape. How we, as a community, leverage this economic health is determined by the residents and their representatives. District 7, as well as the other outlying regions in Schuyler County, should benefit more directly from the economic growth in our region.

Our county shares less than 25% of its sales tax income with its outlying villages and towns yet its sales tax income has increased from year to year by 6 to 9 percent. This less than reasonable distribution, especially when the county is doing well, needs to be adjusted to address the infrastructure deficits in our unserved and underserved communities. Property taxes need to be stabilized and assessments need be relative to the median income of our county’s population. A proactive approach that envisions a future of smart growth is absolutely necessary to achieve economic equity for the county as a whole.

As someone who has taught for twenty years in the realm of higher education (SUNY Oswego, Monroe Community College, James Madison University), I am familiar with the mechanisms associated with institutional and governmental management. Additionally, as a builder with 25 years of experience and a design background, I understand the importance of staying within budgets and the necessity of good design as it relates to urban planning and development. In the past three years I have devoted a large portion of my spare time with the Schuyler County Historical Society, both as a board member and more recently as its president. My genuine concern for Schuyler County is borne out of my formative history growing up in the rural region of Sugar Hill (Tyrone) in a large family with seven siblings on a factory worker’s income.

I am proud to say that Schuyler County history involves public leaders like Jane Delano, founder of the American Red Cross Nursing Service, born and raised in Townsend, and Frank A. Frost, Senator for New York State, born and raised in Watkins Glen. There are many others like them who have called Schuyler County their home, and as our future unfolds there will be others from both our rural and urban communities who will make history for their contributions to our society. With this said, our legislative leadership should focus on the economic sustainability, specifically for the younger residents and the soon-to-be retiring residents in our urban and rural communities. We must create an economic atmosphere that supports a decent quality of life for all the people who reside in our county. We need a countywide fiber optic and broadband infrastructure that serves all of Schuyler County, a key component for smart growth that will position us in the 21st century with an economically viable future.

My goal as a Legislator for District 7 is to ensure a transparent future of smart growth that is distributed in an equitable manner to all of Schuyler County’s residents. I look forward to meeting and speaking with more of you between now and Tuesday, November 5th. I’m running as a Democrat and an Independent (Unity party) and look forward to your vote for a future of economic sustainability and prosperity. If you would like to share your thoughts on how to create a better future for Schuyler County you can do so by emailing me at friendsofpbartow19@gmail.com. For those of you who do not have email, you can write me at 3455 CR 21, Watkins Glen, NY.

Paul Bartow

Exercise travel caution during festival

To the Editor on Sept. 4:

On Friday September 6, 2019, the Watkins Glen Grand Prix festival will again take place.

As has been customary in recent years, the original race circuit will be closed to public traffic from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. for the race re-enactments. In downtown Watkins Glen, Franklin Street from 1st to 11th Street will be closed from 12:45 p.m. to approximately 8:00 p.m. for a variety of activities.

Also please note that various tours of the original race circuit will occur between
2:00 p.m and 6:00 p.m. Please exercise caution as you travel during this time period.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

William E. Yessman Jr.
Schuyler County Sheriff

Rondinaro seeks re-election to Legislature

To the Editor on Sept. 3:

As Labor Day is upon us, with the more casual days of summer coming to a close, I felt that it would be an appropriate time to officially announce my candidacy for re-election to the Schuyler County Legislature from District 7 (encompassing parts of the towns of Reading and Tyrone). For some of you reading this letter, this announcement will come as old news. I have spoken to many of you while gathering petition signatures in February, and have spoken to others while carrying out Legislative duties or early campaigning. Now it is time to begin the fall campaign in earnest.

I have been honored to serve as a legislator these last four years, and have greatly enjoyed learning the budget and legislative process. I have worked to be approachable and responsive to the concerns of my constituents and other county residents. I have kept in the forefront of my mind that serving is a privilege that you have granted me, and have never forgotten that the money that County Government spends rightly belongs to our taxpayers.

I have brought an analytic perspective to my position, honed by my many years as a businessman and technologist. This perspective has been useful in many areas, particularly in budgeting and in understanding and evaluating programs. I have especially enjoyed my tenure as the Chairman of the Community Development and Natural Resources Committee of the Legislature. This committee is responsible for being the interface to all the contract agencies funded by the county, such as SCOPED and Cornell Cooperative Extension, as well as the County Planner's office. This committee's work is vital to the future of the county, as it deals with long-term issues which affect our economy and our culture and lifestyle, such as the Schuyler County Business Park and the Watkins Glen Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

During my tenure, the county has passed three successive budgets which have come in under the 2% property tax cap. In fact, over these three years, the property tax levy increase has averaged less than 0.3% per year, which is far less than the rate of inflation. These moderate property tax increases were made possible by strong revenue growth in both sales tax and room tax collected.

Schuyler County's economic engine is running smoothly at this point. Our next task is to enhance our economic base and build a vibrant community which can induce our youth who have left the area to return and build their future here. To bring this about, SCOPED has established a Business Attraction Committee, of which I am a member. This committee's charge is to find rapidly growing small manufacturers in targeted industries and to attract them to build in Schuyler County. This effort will take time, but is vital to our future growth.

This is just one of the initiatives which have been progressing within our legislature and county government. I look forward to meeting with all of you to discuss our other programs, and any ideas you have which could move our county forward.

I ask you to consider re-electing me to a second term on the Legislature in November.

I will be appearing on the Republican and Libertarian ballot lines. If you have any questions about my campaign or wish to discuss any issues or concerns that you have, you can call me at 607-398-0648 or email me at rondinaroforschuyler@gmail.com. I also have a Facebook page at www.fb.me/ReElectRondinaro; please stop by and leave me a message!

Mark Rondinaro
Legislator, District 7
Schuyler County Legislature

Thanks to the Burdett Fire Department

To the Editor on August 19:

With heartfelt respect and appreciation, we want to thank all the members of The Burdett Fire Department and their families for the honor and respect that they gave our loved one, Mark Wood, when he left this world to be with Jesus. We thank them also for the kindness and respect they gave us, his family, in our time of grief.

It has been said that "when one can reach out of his own grief to help and comfort another, that person is truly God’s person.” All of you in The Burdett Fire Department were Angels to us! You assisted us in caring for Mark and visited him with love and encouragement before he passed. You fulfilled his last wish of giving him a ride on the new boat. And from the “Honor Drive” to his final resting place, and “The-Last Call” and send-off at the firehouse, with refreshments; to all the sincere and comforting hugs and tears, kind words and prayers, you honestly made this transition into a wonderful and loving celebration of Mark’s life.

We live today in a culture of selfishness. But our faith in mankind is renewed when we can see people like you display selflessness, as you do by volunteering to care for others and their property without expectation of gain -- just because you care!

These are people like Mark, who served his family and community for over thirty years alongside his “other” family: the Burdett Fire Department. We would encourage anyone who wants to be part of a faithful, dedicated and honorable family, to join a volunteer fire department like BFD. This kind of service is greatly needed.

The Wood Family

Seeking information on tire vandalism

To the Editor on August 18:

I've had a lot (6) of large tractor tires go flat since May, and when we changed them we found holes in the sidewall of one -- holes that somehow just found their way there.

But without cameras in every field we work, nothing can be done about this.

I would like to know if anyone saw anything. I would just like to catch the person or persons responsible. I am attaching the picture for you to see.

Kathy Arcangeli
(607) 546-4678

Corrections unit backs Matt Hayden

To the Editor on August 13:

The Schuyler County Corrections Benevolent Association is proud to announce that it is endorsing Matt Hayden as its candidate for Schuyler County Judge for the upcoming November 2019 election.

Correctional Officers in Schuyler County ensure the safety and security of the Schuyler County Jail, participate in the transport and securing of detainees for court appearances, and serve as communication specialists for emergency calls and coordinate and dispatch personnel in response to emergencies and courtroom activities.

Over the past 16 years, the members of the Schuyler County Corrections Benevolent Association have had the opportunity to interact with Matt Hayden as the Chief Assistant District Attorney. Our members get to regularly observe Matt Hayden in the courtroom, and we get to interact with him as we dispatch Chief ADA Hayden to various court appearances which occur at any hour of the day or night.

Matt Hayden has always been there for our county, he immediately responds to calls for action, and he has been a valued partner in keeping the citizens of Schuyler County safe.

Matt Hayden is the person Schuyler County needs as our next Schuyler County Judge, and for that reason the Schuyler County Corrections Benevolent Association fully endorses Matt Hayden for Judge.

Daniel Walker
Schuyler County Corrections Benevolent Association

Thanks from Cash for Kids Committee

To the Editor on August 13:

This summer the Schuyler Cash for Kids Committee ran a fund-raising campaign with the help of local businesses to raise money for children's programming in the county. Beneficiaries included the Summer Swim Lessons program, My Place--A Play and Learning Center, and each library in Schuyler County, for their early literacy programming.

A heartfelt thank you to the businesses below, who participated in our month-long campaign. In addition, thank you to Schooner Excursions, the Seneca Lodge, and Bleachers Bar and Grill, all of whom provided additional sponsorship. Over $3,000 was raised, a huge accomplishment!

2019 Cash for Kids Campaign Participants:

Grist Iron Brewery
Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards
Hector Wine Co.
Lucky Hare Brewing Company
Mangus Farms
McGillicuddy's Bar and Grill
Paradiso's Village Bakery
The Old H&E
The Village Marina

Our business community is truly unmatched in its support of the families of Schuyler County.

Thank you!

Schuyler Cash For Kids Committee
Kate LaMoreaux, Summer Swim Program
Nicole Chaffee, Summer Swim Program
Shannon Schamel, My Place Board of Directors
Marian Saks, Montour Falls Library Baord of Directors

Members of the Odessa-Montour Class of 1989 posed for a photo during their recent reunion. (Photo provided)

O-M Class of 1989 had a great reunion

To the Editor on August 10:

The Odessa-Montour Class of 1989 recently celebrated our 30th class reunion the weekend of July 26-28, 2019. On Friday night we met at McGillicuddy's in Montour Falls for drinks, dancing, laughs, and shared memories. Saturday evening, the class gathered at the Montour Moose Lodge for dinner and socializing.

We met again Sunday morning at good ol' OMCS for a school tour led by Superintendent Chris Wood. After our tour we met one last time at Catherine Park for a family picnic. I feel that I can say all of us enjoyed our times together and are looking forward to reuniting in 5 years.

Becky Decker

Ceremony to mark 39 years of festival

To the Editor on August 3:

On Wednesday, Aug. 7, at 6 p.m. at Legacy Lane in Lafayette Park, the Schuyler County Italian-American Festival is hosting a small ceremony to mark 39 years of the "modern version" of the festival. We are expecting Sen. Tom O'Mara and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano to present a state proclamation. Watkins Glen Mayor Luke Leszyk and Schuyler County Administrator Tim O'Hearn also will be speaking.

The original August festivals in Watkins Glen were started by the Italian community as it celebrated the Catholic Church's Feast of the Assumption. It is believed the first festival was in 1906. The last of that era may have been in 1955.

The event was revived in 1981 as the Italian-American Festival, presented by the Center for Community Education. In 1981, it was a small gathering in Lafayette Park, with a parade, cooking and costume contests and Italian food. Today, a three-day festival (Aug. 9-11) attracts tens of thousands to Clute Park.

The Schuyler County Italian-American Festival is proud to be celebrating 39 years in 2019.

Legacy Lane was created in 2017 in Lafayette Park, in partnership with the Village of Watkins Glen, as a fundraiser for the Italian-American Festival. The brick walkway honors the residents, events and businesses of Schuyler County.

Please consider joining us on Aug. 7 at Legacy Lane and Aug. 9-11 at the festival. If you have any questions, please contact Lou Perazzini, festival chairman, at 607-220-4918.

Glenda Gephart
Italian American Festival Committee

The Southern Tier girls swim team poses afer winning the Junior Olympic Games title.

S. Tier swimmers excelled at AAU meet

To the Editor on August 1:

This past weekend, July 25th through the 28th, a group of local swimmers competed in the AAU Junior Olympic National Swimming Championship in Greensboro, NC. The United Southern Tier Aquatics swim team consists of swimmers from different clubs in the Southern Tier, including Glen Gators, Horseheads Thrashers, Ithaca Thrashers, Owego Thrashers and Liverpool Jets. We had a team of 44 swimmers and we had a great weekend. Some notable events included winning the Women’s National Championship.

The Schuyler swimmers included Brett Walters, Faye Mooney, Alannah Klemann, Maddy Moss, Amanda Wilbur, Peighton Cervoni and Thalia Marquez. A Top Drawer 24 alum, Catherine Craig (a Notre Dame graduate), also attended and was very successful as always, winning several events and being a part of several winning relays. The USTA as a whole finished 2nd overall in the meet, behind Team New England, which had double the amount of swimmers.

Some notable swims from Schuyler Swimmers included:

Faye Mooney: 2nd place in the 100 Breaststroke in the 13-14 division. Also part of a meet-record winning relay.
Catherine Craig: Won the 200 Meter Breaststroke and 400 IM in the 15-18 year olds.
Thalia Marquez: 5th in the 1500 Meter Free and 6th in the 400 Meter Free in the 13-14 year olds.

All of the Schuyler Swimmers were on medaling relays and contributed to the overall success of the team.

Nikki Chaffee

Race weekend traffic controls outlined

To the Editor on August 1:

On Sunday, August 4, 2019, we expect a large volume of traffic on County Route 16 because of the large influx of cars coming to the race circuit. As a result, it is necessary that we use County Route 16, as one-way traffic with three lanes of traffic going from State Route 414 to Gate 2 of the Race Track, and two lanes of traffic from Townsend Road to Kuhl Winner Way. There will still be one lane of traffic from Bronson Hill Road to Townsend Road. This will start at around 6:00 a.m. and last until 3:00 p.m. At 9:00 a.m., Kuhl Winner Way will be a one way road southbound from County Route 16 to Gate #5, and northbound from Bronson Hill Road to Gate #6. It was necessary to make this a part of our traffic pattern due to the growth of attendance at this event, as has been seen over the past several years.

If you are attending church services, shopping or going to Watkins Glen, and you live along this route, it is advisable if you live between C.R. 17 and Meads Hill Road, you travel west in the traffic to Meads Hill and go north to State Route 329 and into Watkins Glen or left on Meads Hill to Wedgewood Road to State Route 414. Then you can turn right for Corning or left to Watkins Glen or Montour Falls. Persons living between Meads Hill Road and the track are requested to get into traffic and go to Townsend and then take the Watkins-Townsend Road to Watkins Glen.

At approximately 4:30 p.m. on this Sunday afternoon, there will be only one-way traffic on County Route 16 with three lanes coming from the race track towards State Route 414 (traffic light) and then traffic will proceed two lanes down into the Village of Watkins Glen. This traffic is expected to last for more than 3 hours. There will also be one-way traffic, two lanes, going down Kuhl Winner Way from gate #6 to State Route 414. There will also be two lanes of traffic going from gate #5 and #4 on Kuhl Winner Way to County Route 16. All traffic coming off from Kuhl Winner Way will be three lanes and diverted in Townsend to County Route 16, County Route 19 or the Watkins-Townsend Road, preferably through the State Park, to the Station Road and down into the Village through Steuben Street.

Plans are in place with Emergency Services to respond to emergencies during the egress period for the safety of the residents in that area. Sheriff's patrols also will be in the area should there be any problems.

We apologize for any inconvenience this traffic pattern may cause you, but it is necessary for us to move a large volume of traffic in the shortest period of time for the safety of everyone. Please remember that these times are approximate and can change due to weather. Traffic patterns on Monday will be normal, but there will be a large volume of traffic leaving the race track that day also, so delays will occur.

If you have any problems, please call me at 535-8222.

Sheriff William Yessman

Thanks to those who helped on banquet

To the Editor on July 28:

The 94th Annual Watkins Glen High School Alumni Banquet was attended by approximately 350 enthusiastic alumni, invited guests, spouses, friends, past faculty, prior and current scholarship recipients, and the 2019 Distinguished Alumni honoree Steve Rondinaro. The program was in memory of Elvin West, inaugural member of the board of directors.

The board would like to thank Famous Brands and Glen Mountain Market for their continued support in selling tickets; Michelle Hyde and Diane Carl from the Parks Department; Chris Updyke, Amber Benjamin, Megan Hayes, Brianna Solomon, Julie Liu, Sammy Schimizzi, Cullen Suits, Margaret Schimizzi, Dan Sims, Nan Woodworth, Barb Deane, and Jenny Yuhasz Padilla for set up, banquet assistance, and clean up; Laura Greninger-Dunn for donating her 50/50 win back to the scholarship fund; and an outstanding board of directors who work so hard to make it all look easy.

The Association awarded H. Nathaniel Rose, Nancy Jackson, Julie Liu, and Annika Wickham a total of $6,000 in scholarships. An additional $1,000 was awarded to Danielle Leszyk from friends of Alice Joyce Haughey who donated monies to the Association in her memory.

Class contacts Jaime Beligotti, David Bartone, Ken Wilson, Phyllis Palmer, JoPat Wright and many others did an excellent job of contacting and bringing their classmates together. Our most esteemed alumni celebrating their 70th reunion, class of 1949, were Charles and Betty Calhoun, Anne Elder, Nancy Yost, and Josephine (PeeWee) Standish; plus celebrating their 74th reunion from the class of 1945 were Helen Mulderman and Evelyn and Howard Stamp. Distinguished faculty guests included John and Beverly Vona, Ed and Carol Lindsey, Don and Lori Maas, and Doug Chamberlain.

Special thanks to Superintendent Greg Kelahan and his wife Linda for attending the banquet and inviting as their guests six students from various arts programs and recognizing their accomplishments.

Steve Rondinaro from the class of 1972 was the 2019 Distinguished Alumni honoree in the field of broadcast journalism. His acceptance speech was humorous, inspirational, and humble as he recognized family and friends from his past and his years at the Watkins Glen school district that helped mold his professional career.

This banquet provides the forum for everyone to get together. It’s about prior and future graduates, friends, spouses, faculty, staff, school mates and classmates. It’s a wonderful tradition that the Association has been able to maintain because of the support from all of the above. Without you it wouldn’t be possible. Thank you, everyone!

Peggy Scott
Alumni Association President

Cakes sought for festival booth raffle

To the Editor
on July 24:

The Italian American Festival is approaching -- August 9-11 -- and the Lake Country Players would like to offer the popular cake booth raffle, but we need help!

We need 350 cakes to make it through the weekend, so if anyone would like to bake and donate, we would be very, very grateful! I've attached a flyer with details, but basically, someone will be at the Community Center in Watkins Glen Friday and Saturday mornings from 8-10 a.m. to accept cakes, or they may be brought right to the booth near the pavilion at the Festival.

We are very grateful to anyone who can help.

For any more information, folks may contact Kim Laursen at 607-594-6565 or text to 607-857-5252.

Kim Laursen

P.S.: No cream cakes, please! (No refrigerator available). Label allergens like nuts/peanut butter. Thank you.

Supplies being collected for school kids

To the Editor on July 24:

For the fifth year in a row, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield is requesting your help preparing local kids for a successful school year. From now until August 12, area businesses, Catholic Charities and the Economic Opportunity Program (EOP) will be collecting new school supplies. School Supply Starter Kits and new backpacks will be distributed at two Back to School Kick-off events in Watkins Glen (August 21) and Elmira (August 29).

The following businesses have partnered with Catholic Charities and EOP to offer drop off locations in Chemung and Schuyler Counties.

  • Buffalo Wild Wings, Horseheads
  • Community Arts of Elmira
  • Ferrario Ford, Horseheads
  • Five Star Bank, Elmira/Heights
  • Libraries in Chemung County
  • Mr. Panosian’s Famous Shoes, Elmira
  • Parmenter Tire, Auto & Truck Service, Horseheads
  • SPCA, Elmira
  • The Purple Iris Boutique, Horseheads
  • Treu Office Supply & Furniture, Elmira

  • Famous Brands, Watkins Glen
  • Parmenter Tire, Auto & Truck Service, Odessa & Montour Falls
  • Quinlan’s Pharmacy, Montour Falls
  • Schuyler Outreach Food Pantry
  • The Hi-Lites, Watkins Glen
  • Visions FCU, Watkins Glen
  • Watkins Glen Public Library

Donations will also be accepted at Catholic Charities’ Offices (215 E Church St., Elmira or 105 9th St, Unit 20, Watkins Glen): Monday-Thursday, 8:30 a.m.-12 noon & 1 p.m.-4:30 p.m.; Friday, 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. and at The Economic Opportunity Program (650 Baldwin St, Elmira): Monday-Thursday, 8:15 a.m.-5:45 p.m.

We are deeply appreciative of our local businesses who make this Back to School Drive a Success every year. Our continued partnership with EOP will ensure 600 children in Chemung and Schuyler Counties are better prepared for the school year and can enjoy getting ready to go back to school at our Events.

Catholic Charities’ Back to School Kick-off Events will be held at Schuyler Outreach on August 21 and The Elmira Community Kitchen on August 29. Both events are 3:30-5:30 p.m. and require pre-registration by August 14 for backpacks and school supply starter kits. There will be local businesses and organizations at both events with information and activities for kids. A free dinner will be served at both locations. The events are free and open to the public.

For a full list of needed items and additional ways to donate, please visit our website (cs-cc.org), email Katie Rhodes at Katie.Rhodes@dor.org or call 734.9784, ext. 2133.

Katie E. Rhodes
Development & Marketing Coordinator
Catholic Charities of Chemung & Schuyler Counties

Jungle Book looking for young thespians

To the Editor on
July 20:

The Lake Country Players are inviting all youths ages 6-12 to be in our next production, Disney's Jungle Book, on August 16 and 17.

I've attached a poster with some details, but it's going to be a cooperative effort between the Watkins Glen REACH program and us so that we don't have to charge any of the participants or the audience anything!

The kids are going to rehearse from 12:30-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, August 5-9 and 12-16. We will also be playing theater games, painting our own scenery and making our own costumes. Kelsey Johnson and Allyson Guild, along with myself, will be working with the young thespians.

Parents may register their children at this web address: bit.ly/REACH_LCP2019, or on the first day, Monday August 5. Auditions for the roles of Mowglie, Bagheera, Baloo and company will be held on the second day of the program.

This project is something new for us, so we are hoping to get excellent participation to make it work!

Many thanks for supporting our endeavors and our community as you do.

Kim Laursen

Thanks to those who helped on banners

To the Editor on July 20:

Now that the banners honoring our local veterans are up, the Hometown Heroes Banner Committee would like to recognize all those who had a hand in making this project a reality.

First and foremost to our sponsor, Schuyler County Opportunities Council (SHOC), which was there from the very beginning and donated the seed money to start the whole process. Please take a minute and check out SHOC’s website to really understand its role and importance in our community.

Our donors are organizations, businesses and private citizens who were instrumental in purchasing the brackets: American Legion, Cargill Salt, Walmart, Elks, Lions Club, Rotary, Jo Pat Wright, Tom and Peggy Richardson, Sandy Bartone, Harborside Lanes, Seneca Lodge and the Squires Alumni.

To those who helped get the word out to the public -- Brad Eakins and Wet Couch Podcast, Glenda Gephart, The Odessa File and the Hi-Lites.

Mayor Sam Schimizzi, Mayor Luke Leszyk and the Village Board for giving us permission to use Decatur Street and to expand beyond Decatur Street.

Minard LaFever, thanks for your guidance and patience with what seemed like endless emails and texts. Tray Cassidy from the Electric Department and Scott Taylor from the Street Department were responsible for installing the brackets and banners, and went above and beyond.

In order to keep the banners in good condition for years to come, the Watkins Glen Middle School Apartments has graciously offered storage. A big thanks to Sue Knapp (Community Manager) and Richard Fish (Maintenance).

Thank you Joan Scott and John Antes at the Veterans Service Agency for all the copies of DD214 and having the banner applications available. It was a little hectic for Cabins to Castles in the beginning with applications flying out the door, but the ladies were always smiling.

Finally, to the families of the Vets honored. Your passion to honor your family members is on the same level as ours and your response was awesome. I hope we met your expectations because your response certainly exceeded ours.

The application process to add more banners in 2020 will be from January 15-March 15. Applications with directions will be available on the SHOC website (www.shocny.org), at the Veterans Service Agency at the Human Services Building in Montour Falls, and at Cabin to Castles, Franklin Street, Watkins Glen.

This is a community event, run by the community for the community, but we still need your help. We have a growing wait list and in order not to burden the families who are paying for the banners, we are looking for donations towards the brackets. Anyone wishing to donate toward the banner brackets or the project in general, please sends checks to:

Hometown Heroes Banner Project
PO Box 371
Watkins Glen, NY 14891

Thank you.

Hometown Heroes Banner Committee
Ande Tallarida-Davis
Peggy Richardson
Julie Symes
Patti Schimizzi

I'm supporting Hayden for County Judge

To the Editor on July 18:

On the topic of Schuyler County Judge, I have the following to say:

When considering a judiciary position there are qualities that, to me, supersede the necessity of all others. These qualities include integrity, honesty, a commitment to public safety, and a willingness to tackle difficult problems with aplomb, grace, and resiliency. Additionally, I feel that a judicial candidate must be beyond reproach. When considering these qualities collectively, there’s only one candidate for Schuyler County Judge who I feel qualifies -- and that candidate is Matt Hayden.

Matt’s commitment to our community spans a variety of demographics, being involved with a number of charitable or volunteer efforts which involve different generations, income levels, and personal backgrounds. He has reached out to every corner of our community with a sincere desire to help and to improve. An inexhaustible list of Matt’s community-focused works include endeavors with the following groups: Schuyler County Community Services Board, the Arc of Schuyler County, the Schuyler Health Foundation, the Boy Scouts of America, the American Red Cross, CVSA Soccer, and the Coalition on Underage Drinking and Drugs.

To me the words "judge" and "ethics" must be synonymous. Why do I choose Matt? Because his commitment to our community, to my community, cannot be questioned. His commitment to ethics is clear. Matt is transparent. Matt is dedicated. Matt has the integrity necessary to be judge. Matt Hayden’s stewardship of the law will improve our community. I’m supporting Matt Hayden for Schuyler County Judge.

Stephenie Monroe
Montour Falls

Calling all past Festival Parade royalty ...

To the Editor on July 17:

The Italian Festival Committee is excited to report that planning is underway for this year’s Italian American Festival parade. The parade will be held on Saturday, August 10 at 12 noon, running from the Watkins Glen High School down to Clute Park.

The Festival Committee is extending an invitation to all former parade Grand Marshals and former Princes and Princesses to participate in this year’s parade. If interested, please contact the parade committee via email at italianamericanfestivalparade@yahoo.com or via text/phone to Kristen at (607) 592-7406 or Lorry at (607) 703-9300. Please provide your name, title held, and year participated. For coordinating purposes, you must register for the parade by July 26.


Kristen Bacon & Lorry Johnson
Festival Parade Coordinators

Getman is the right choice for Judge

To the Editor on July 15:

As a recently retired police Lieutenant, I felt compelled to write to you in strong support of Steve Getman's candidacy for Schuyler County Court Judge.

You are about to cast a ballot that will put someone in one of the highest seats with a tremendous amount of responsibility in your community for a term of ten years. This is a decision that should be given serious consideration and filled by an individual who consummates the words professionalism and integrity.

I've seen Mr. Getman’s work firsthand as a former student of his at Keuka College. Steve Getman was a college instructor who truly understood the diversity of the classroom and challenged each student to work to his or her highest level.

Mr. Getman's years of service and knowledge of all aspects of law is exceptionally impressive and will allow him to succeed as your Schuyler County Court Judge. Furthermore, his ability to consider the complex ideas that went into the spirit of law while interpreting the arguments behind the letter of the law in a manner that is comprehendible and fair is second to none. This ability would serve the people of Schuyler County well.

I urge the people of Schuyler County to elect Steve Getman in this year's race for County Court Judge. He is the right choice and will not let you down.

Michael J. Hatch

Hector 'condemns' threats, harassment aimed at alternate animal-control service

To the Editor on July 9:

Since 2015, the Town of Hector has contracted with the Humane Society of Schuyler County for dog sheltering services. Prior to 2009, these services, along with a dog control officer, were provided by Schuyler County. In 2009, Schuyler County decided to contract out the dog sheltering to the Humane Society of Schuyler County. In 2015, Schuyler County opted out and instructed the Towns to directly contract for dog sheltering services.

In November 2018, the Humane Society of Schuyler County requested a change in the contract that eliminated enumeration services with no drop in the 70% of license fees. This change, which was submitted after the 2019 budget had already been finalized, meant a 25% increase for the Town of Hector.

The Town of Hector actively attempted to negotiate the terms to a reasonable 65% to help fund the uncovered cost of enumeration. It was met with a negative response from the Humane Society of Schuyler County as well as an unwillingness to release financial records that would justify this large rate increase. The need for negotiations became pressing as requests to meet were ignored and refused by the Humane Society of Schuyler County. Since February 2019, Town Supervisors and some Clerks have met regularly to attempt to resolve the issues.

In March 2019, the Humane Society of Schuyler County finally agreed to meet with one representative for all six townships, and the attorney for the Towns was selected to represent the towns. He also was met with a lack of willingness to negotiate and only a dictation of terms with no compromise.

The Towns therefore had to look for alternate sheltering services and found Southern Tier Animal Control Inc., who represents the Towns of Big Flats and Veteran. The Town of Hector felt this was a positive direction and a better service overall as it would provide a dog control officer, enumeration, active pursuit of unlicensed dog ownership and sheltering for every breed.

Since the Humane Society of Schuyler County’s press release on 7/1/19, Southern Tier Animal Control received harassing phone calls, stalking news media and physical threats to individual and family. The Town of Hector strongly condemns these actions and is extremely disappointed in the community’s unwarranted and tempestuous reaction, biased in assumption and without regard to understanding the facts of this situation.

As a result of these actions, Southern Tier Animal Control notified all the Towns it could not fulfill the contract due to concerns for the safety of his family. With no alternatives, the Town is again attempting negotiations with the Humane Society of Schuyler County. Further information will be provided at a later date. Currently, for dog control issues, continue to contact the Schuyler County Sheriff’s Department.

Jessica Rodgers
Hector Town Board

Theater camp will produce Jungle Book

To the Editor on July 5:

The Lake Country Players is going to try something quite different this summer -- a theater camp to produce Disney's Jungle Book!

We would like to invite all youth ages 6-12 to join us for this adventure with Mowgli, Baloo, Bagheera and crew! It will be held at the Watkins Glen High School auditorium for two weeks, culminating in two free, family friendly performances on July 26 and 27 at 7 p.m. All rehearsals will be held during the Summer REACH program on Monday through Friday, July 15-19 and 22-26, from 12:30-4:30 p.m. The cost is FREE, but you must register at this link: bit.ly/REACH_LCP2019

Kelsey Johnson and Allyson Guild will be co-directing this show, and participants will audition for the main roles on the second day, Tuesday, July 16. All kids will help build sets, create costumes and learn about backstage as well as being onstage!

We are very excited about this adventure into the Jungle, and we hope many kids will attend!.

Kim Laursen

Town of Dix is working to find solution

To the Editor on July 2:

The Town of Dix would like to correct information that has been given to you.

The Town of Dix Board did NOT vote to move forward with the Southern Tier Animal Control contract at our June 24th meeting, and at this time we do not plan on moving forward with it. We have been in negotiations with the Schuyler County Humane Society since October, when we received their budget requests after our Town budget had been decided.

We would like the record clear that the Town of Dix is working to find a solution to the current contract and we are ready and willing to negotiate our contract with the Schuyler County Humane Society.

Harold Russell
Town of Dix Supervisor

County weighs in on dog control contract

To the Editor on July 1:

Below is the County’s response to public inquiries concerning our local towns' decision to contract for dog control with a non-county entity:

Schuyler County has been a leader in shared services long before this term became a popular buzzword. Dog control is one of the few mandated responsibilities that rests with town governments. However, with cooperation among the towns and county, it was deemed far more efficient to provide this service by partnering to do so.

Recently, however, the towns of Catharine, Dix, Hector, Montour, Reading and Tyrone, without discussion or input from the County, made the decision to contract with a private entity to provide this service instead of the County. While we strongly disagree with this action, we must respect the towns’ right to do so.

As such, effective July 1st, Schuyler County is no longer able to provide dog control services to these towns and will be referring any calls received to the new provider of this service. Additionally, the County has determined that it no longer is feasible or cost effective to provide service for the towns that have not elected to change at this time (Orange and Cayuta) and will be voting at its July meeting on a resolution to terminate agreements with all towns effective in early August.

Please understand that the County Legislature regrets having to take this action. Centralized dog control was one of our earliest success stories and we have been recognized as a model among the state for this town/county partnership. Were it up to us, no changes in service would occur.

All dog-related questions and concerns should be directed to your respective town representatives. A list is below:

Catharine: John VanSoest, 594-2273, Cell 220-6153 email: jvansoest@empacc.net
Cayuta: Brandon Theetge, Office 594-2507; email:
Dix: Harold Russell, Office 535-7973, Cell 481-8663; email: Supervisor@townofdix.com
Hector: Alvin White, Office 546-5286 ext. 225; email: Supervisor@hectorny.us
Montour: David Scott, Office 535-9476; email: msupervisor@stny.rr.com
Orange: Joanne Randall, Office 962-2978: email: supervisor@htva.net
Reading: Gary Conklin, Office 535-7459 ext. 103; email: readingsupervisor@htva.net
Tyrone: Donald Desrochers, Office 292-3185; email: supervisor@townoftyrone.org

Tim O'Hearn
Schuyler County Administrator

The Humane Society explains changes
in Schuyler dog sheltering services

6 municipalities contract with out-of-county facility for animal control and sheltering

To the Editor on June 30:

New York State law mandates that each town provide dog control and sheltering services, either directly or through contract. Since August of 2009, The Humane Society of Schuyler County has contracted to provide sheltering, care, and adoption services for the stray, abandoned, seized, and surrendered dogs of Schuyler County. The Schuyler County Sheriff's Office has provided dog control services through a dedicated Animal Control Officer with the additional support of Schuyler County deputies.

In October of 2018, The Humane Society initiated discussions with the towns regarding contract renewal for 2019. Despite the Humane Society having invested significantly in providing improved facilities and greatly expanded services with no increase in fees since 2009, the towns of Catharine, Montour, Dix, Hector, Reading, and Tyrone have not renewed their contracts for dog sheltering. These contracts would have been in effect beginning January 1 of 2019.

In good faith, The Humane Society has continued to house and care for stray, seized and abandoned dogs from each of these towns. During this time, the Sheriff's Department has continued to provide animal control services and transportation to the shelter.

Schuyler County Legislator and Humane Society board member Michael Lausell has informed the Humane Society that the aforementioned towns will be contracting with another organization outside of the county to provide animal control and dog sheltering services effective July 1. Dogs from these towns will no longer be brought to or held at The Humane Society of Schuyler County.

Further, Mr. Lausell indicated that, based on this notification, the Legislature cannot justify keeping an Animal Control Officer position. The Legislature will be voting on a resolution to terminate the municipal agreements for animal control services across the county at the July 8 legislative session.

The following statement comes from Georgie Taylor, Executive Director of the Schuyler County Humane Society.

"We are deeply saddened by the decision the towns have made to contract with another sheltering provider. We committed in 2012 to creating a facility this community would be proud of, offering the highest level of care possible, and funded by many local residents who expected that we would be the primary caregiver of lost, seized and abandoned animals in this county. Over the past ten years more than 80% of the stray dogs arriving at the shelter have been returned to their owners.

"For more than 30 years, this organization has been committed to advancing animal welfare in our community. Given this unfortunate decision, we will no longer be able to help those animals who need us most, those who often require the greatest medical attention, and those who have come from some of the most difficult situations. We are, however, grateful to have served those animals in need and to have saved so many lives. We would like to thank our staff, volunteers, donors and the community for their support during this period of transition. We would also like to thank the Sheriff's Department and the Schuyler County Legislature, the County Administrator and the Department of Public Health for their support in advancing animal welfare over the past ten years."

The Humane Society of Schuyler County will continue its commitment to providing spay/neuter services, maintain its feline sheltering and adoption programs, accept surrendered dogs into the adoption program, provide educational programs, offer a monthly pet food pantry and deliver continued resources for the community.

Schuyler County residents should contact their town supervisors for additional information regarding procedures for reporting or redeeming lost and found dogs in Schuyler County.

The Humane Society of Schuyler County is a not-for-profit 501c(3) corporation, a no-kill shelter dedicated to advancing animal welfare in Schuyler County for more than thirty years.

The Schuyler County Humane Society

Members of the cast of High School Musical, to be performed June 13-15 at WGHS.

Here comes Disney's High School Musical

To the Editor on June 8:

It's just me, Kim Laursen, from the Lake Country Players in Watkins Glen. I have been so busy, I've neglected the publicity for our upcoming show, so I hope you can find a little space for us in your publication?

We are presenting Disney's High School Musical June 13-15 at the Watkins Glen High School auditorium at 7:30 p.m. each night with a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at the door for $12 adults, $10 seniors and students. I've attached a cast photo -- we have 38 kids from six different school districts, ages 13-19. In fact, so many really talented kids auditioned that we actually have two complete casts, with each cast performing in two of the four shows!

This story of an unlikely romance between a jock (Troy Bolton, played by Wyatt Brower and Bryce Erickson) and a Brainiac (Gabrielle Montez, played by Edele Morgan and Amanda Frank) who come together for a musical audition serves as a reminder that we shouldn't let ourselves be pigeon-holed into a stereotype. Even the over-the-top drama club president (Sharpay Evans, played by Allison Heichel and Katherine Larson) finally learns that it's way better to encourage each other to do the things we love and to do them fearlessly. One the best-known songs from the show is the full ensemble number "We're All in This Together," and our cast has taken this to heart and made new friends and tons of new memories.

This is the fourth youth production Kelsey Johnson and I have co-directed, and her choreography is amazing! Alex Gill is learning the ropes for directing and playing in the pit band along with his incredibly talented mom, accompanist Christine Holleran. Business manager is Lorry Johnson, and backstage crew chief and set builder is Mr. Chris Barrett. Judy Fitcha and Amy Wysocki have costumed the kids perfectly, and Sound Men Chad Isett, Conlin Wysocki and Wrett Brower will make sure that everyone is heard!

If you'd like any more information, please feel free to contact me at 607-857-5252. Thanks a ton!

Kim Laursen

Jefferson Village is a good place to live

To the Editor on June 7:

I've been a tenant at Jefferson Village for a few years. If any handicapped or elderly people are looking for a good place to live, check out Jefferson Village.

This is a HUD/Village of Watkins Glen-sponsored apartment complex.

It is a safe, secure, clean and well-maintained place, thanks to the efforts of Beth the manager; Melinda, who keeps the common areas clean and also helps out in the office, and Dennis, who does the maintainance in a timely and efficient manner. And the rent is very reasonable.

Check us out. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Tom Augustine

Thanks to all who embraced the concept that the Graft bar and kitchen has offered

Our last day of service will be Saturday, July 27

To the Editor on May 20:

When the idea of Graft became reality four years ago, we didn’t know if our concept of a bar and kitchen with an all New York drink list and a daily changing menu that emphasized sharing would work. We trusted Watkins Glen was the place for us to share our passion for local food and drink, not only in location as a central hub of the Finger Lakes but also for the bustling opportunities in this growing village.

In our wildest thoughts, we could not have anticipated the joy and connection we’ve created with Graft. Our concept not only worked, but has been embraced by our locals as well as a welcoming place for travelers to experience the abundant bounty of our region.

Our success makes this letter especially bittersweet to write.

Our last day of service will be Saturday, July 27.

The reason is two-fold: Partner and Chef Christina Mckeough is relocating with her family to Philadelphia and co-owners Katie Marks and Ted Marks are changing gears after being in the wine business for 20 years with Atwater Winery.

We cannot truly express in words what these past four years have been for us in our happy little building at 204 North Franklin Street. It has been a pleasure serving you honest, straightforward food and local drink in Watkins Glen.

Thank you to all of the local farmers who work so hard to provide us with beautiful produce and sustainable meats which inspired Christina’s nightly menus. Thank you to the vineyardists, the vineyard workers, the orchardists. We truly respect what you do for the land and the humans.

Thank you to the winemakers, cidermakers, brewers and creative people behind all the outstanding libations of the region. Your dedication to your craft makes it it easy to sell and celebrate local in its best light.

Thank you to the artists, craftspeople, designers and creators who contributed to our beautiful space. Your art is appreciated daily.

Thank you to the Village of Watkins Glen, the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce, local B+B's, hotels, inns and all community folk who've referred and supported us over the years.

Thank you to our restaurant and bar peers, who work their asses off to serve others, creating spaces for people to gather and relish the good life in the FLX. Keep raising the bar. We’ll be sitting at yours soon.

Thank you to our loyal and lovely regulars, guests, families and friends. Seeing your smiling faces over the years has been more heart-warming than we could have imagined. Thank you for "getting us," understanding and liking what we do enough to return again and again. Thank you for laughing with us and yes, being sad with us, because we are sad this is happening. Thank you. We love you.

Finally, a giant thank you to our staff who have carried us daily and shaped the community of who we are. Noting a special shout-out to Antoinette Di Ciaccio: Without your guidance, Graft wouldn’t have opened on time.

And to Jacob, Ellen, Ava and Lexi: You have become family. We thank you for your dedication, your hard work, patience and kindness to all who’ve come through our doors. Those in this business know the strength, sharpness, stamina and creativity needed to do what you do. Thank you. We look forward to your what’s next.

So what’s next for this space?

As of now, the business and building is for sale. Watkins Glen has proved that this type of business is needed and wanted. Even the name GRAFT alludes to what we would love to see happen for the space: to evolve into a new off-shoot, a new creation using the rootstock of what we’ve created. Corny, yes, but we believe that the constant revitalization of Watkins Glen could support another business similar to what we do here. If you are interested or happen to have a cousin from Wisconsin who has been looking for an opportunity to relocate to have a bar and kitchen in wine country, please get in touch with Ted or Katie.

We will approach these final two months as we always do, with seasonal menus alongside really good wine, beer and cider while continuing to create a space where all are welcomed. Creating GRAFT was a great testament to our abilities and has taught us all so much. We will miss it, but are excited for our next chapter. We hope to see you all one last time before we close on July 27.

With gratitude,

Christina, Katie and Ted

I would appreciate your vote on May 21

To the Editor on May 15:

My name is Mary Barnes and I am running for a Board of Education position in the Watkins Glen Central School District.

My husband, Phil, and I have four children who graduated from our wonderful Watkins Glen school system. We now have four precious grandchildren who are currently enrolled in the Watkins Glen schools.

I am retired from a 30-year career working with children and their families. I was an investigator as well as a supervisor in the Schuyler Children’s Services Unit. I networked with several service agencies and the schools to promote assistance for families. During my career I also taught a “personal safety” program to the elementary school classes.

In our community I have served in the past as president of the Watkins Glen-Montour Falls Lions Club, and vice-president of the Schuyler County League of Women Voters, and have been a Literacy Volunteer, and an Election Inspector for Schuyler County.

I feel I am a good listener and an effective communicator. As a Board of Education member, I will work hard to enrich the educational experience of all the students. I look forward to working with the students, staff, parents, the community and the Board for the success of all our students.

I would appreciate your vote on May 21, 2019. Thank you!

Mary Barnes

Police Memorial Service set for May 15

To the Editor on May 1:

The Schuyler County Sheriff’s Office would like to announce its first annual Police Memorial Service. This service will take place on May 15, 2019 -- the day recognized as National Police Memorial Day.

During the service we will recognize those police officers who have died in the course of duty as well as those who have died while serving as a police officer.

This event will take place on the Schuyler County Courthouse lawn, Franklin Street in Watkins Glen, and will begin at 11 a.m. For information, please call Schuyler County Sheriff’s Chaplain Michael J. Kelly at 607-220-7873.

The Schuyler County Sheriff's Office

Clute Park is not for sale

To the Editor on April 24:

Seneca lakefront's Clute Park in Watkins Glen has endured as a public park for almost 100 years, beginning in 1922. The Downtown Revitalization Initiative committee decided to include Clute Park as a business development zone. A public park is not a blank slate for businesses to carve up for the images of a few. The ideas proposed by the DRI visualize Clute Park as a place suited for profitmaking.

Clute Park is not for sale. It belongs to us, we the public, not we the development company. We the public pay for Clute Park, we support it, we need it. More importantly, we use it. We bring our children and grandchildren there to play, swim and enjoy the shady old trees and the magnificent access to the waters. Some of us fish there, use the skateboard facilities, play basketball, and when some of the grounds freeze in winter, we even ice skate there -- no fee!

We park along the canal for an unobstructed view of the lake and can visit there even in inclement weather. We attend festivals there and many have their weddings with Seneca Lake as witness. Any day of the year you might see some of us walking our dogs. Clute Park’s ancient trees (they’re older than almost all of us) are also lofty perches for the Bald Eagles who come to look for lunch. Clute Park is also a stop in the international wildlife migration routes with dozens of bird species camping out on the lake and grounds.

If you value Clute Park as your public access to Seneca Lake, with its unconstructed, natural environment, a place away from the hustle and bustle of business and commotion -- a place proven to be a psychological necessity for human beings -- then speak up.

Contact the Mayor and Trustees of the Village of Watkins Glen on their website, or call 607-535-2736 and 535-2737. Do it now.

Mary Churchill
Watkins Glen

Lions Club plans BBQ for swim funds

To the Editor on April 17:

The Watkins-Montour Lions Club will host a Chicken BBQ at the Montour Moose Club on April 27 from 11:30 a.m. until the chicken is gone.

The proceeds of this event will benefit the Summer Swim Program held at the Watkins Glen High School. Because of the donations of community groups, Schuyler County residents have access to low-cost swim instruction each summer.

Call 275-7050 for a presale ticket. Tickets are $10 and include a coupon for a free ice cream cone from a local ice cream stand for dessert. Thanks to The Glen Dairy Bar, The Great Escape, The Colonial Creamery and Ben and Jerry’s for their donations!

Watkins-Montour Lions Club

Looking for a few musical souls ...

To the Editor on April 8:

I am looking for a few brave, hearty souls who would like to greet the dawn by singing in the 85th Schuyler Country Council of Churches Easter Sunrise service, Sunday morning, April 21 at 6:30 at the South Entrance (Pool) to the Watkins Glen State Park.

Just two rehearsals should get us OK, if everyone will take some time to listen to the CD I'll give you. Sunday, April 14 at the Montour Falls United Methodist Church from 3-4 p.m., and Saturday, April 20 at the park from 3-4 p.m.

If anyone knows of a trumpeter, I'd love to have them play for the service, as well.

Songs we will sing are "Risen" by Binion, Houghton and Dufrene, and "Forgiven" by David Crowder. You can listen at JW Pepper.com, too.

Looking forward to making music "soli deo Gloria!" with you.

Kim Laursen
(607) 857-5252

A person who gives me hope ...

To the Editor on April 4:

There are those among us who go about their business quietly with humbleness, yet dedication. One of these amazing people is Richard (Rick) Evans. Recently Rick won a raffle. Winning is always a great feeling and some of us don't often, or ever, get to experience that feeling. Rick's winning ticket gave him the opportunity to enjoy a shopping spree at the Trumansburg Shur Save grocery in Trumansburg. In this day and age of increasing grocery prices, that is a great prize for anyone.

But the story doesn't end here ...

Rick has a passion for Scouting. He has shown it for many years in his service to the Watkins Glen Scout Troop he is a leader of, and to Five Rivers Council, the local overseeing organization of the local district. With this in mind, and with the upcoming Scouting for food drive, he determined to donate his amassed groceries to a local food pantry held at Hector Presbyterian Church in honor of the Scouting program. In this small win Rick, in his humble and quiet way, benefitted several groups and honored one.

The rest of the story is this: Rick is being treated for terminal brain cancer. He has been undergoing chemo treatments for several months after having surgery in Rochester last August for removal of the initial tumor. Many would let this diagnosis and the prognosis get them down. It might send them off spending every last dime on the "trip of a lifetime" or just laying around relaxing. Not Rick, he has continued to be active in Scouts, in his position as president of the Hector area Lions Club, and he gets out for hikes and occasionally working in his happy place, the vineyard.

I wish to thank Rick for being a person who gives me hope that there is still goodness in the world and, most of all, for being a friend and wonderful brother-in-law! Bless you, Rick.

Judy Wickham Butterfield

Thanks for voting; it's been an honor

To the Editor on March 20:

I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every resident that voted in the Village Election and to congratulate Luke, Louis and Nan.

I would also like to thank all the residents and business owners of the Village of Watkins Glen for their support during my 22-year career with the Watkins Glen Police Department. It has been and honor and a privilege to serve you.

I have had the opportunity to meet many wonderful people throughout the years during festivals, running events, school events, and other functions and I will cherish all those relationships that I have made. I have worked with many great co-workers at the police department and I appreciate all their hard work and dedication. I would like to thank all the Mayors, Board Members, Village department heads, and the rest of the Village staff that I have worked with throughout the years.

Finally, I would like to thank my parents, my brothers, and most of all wife Catrina and daughter Gabriella who have sacrificed so much through the years. I could not have done any of this without their love and support. I look forward to the next chapter of my life and continuing to serve the Village of Watkins Glen as your Village Justice.

Steven Decker

The right choice for our village

To the Editor on March 18:

I would like to take the opportunity to introduce myself and let the village voters make a very important decision for their community. I am Luke Leszyk and I reside at 406 S. Franklin St. with my wife of 24 years, Jane Huey Leszyk. We have two children and one grandchild. I attended Odessa-Montour and my wife attended Watkins Glen. After graduation I joined the Army and served in Germany and fought in the Gulf War. I later joined the Navy Reserves where I retired as a naval officer after 23 years of service. In the early '90’s I entered law enforcement and retired in 2017 from the New York State Police after 23 years, the last 12 serving the people of Schuyler County. My wife and I currently own and operate Admiral Peabody’s Lakeside Lodging on Seneca Lake.

Some have said experience matters and I for one agree, but it is the right experience that matters. I have been in leadership roles as a Naval Officer. I have experience how we succeed when working as a team for a common goal. I have led people not by the rank on my collar but by the content of my character. I have dealt with large budgets that I have had to manage. I have always been able to do more with less. As a former Trooper I have worked with several police, fire and EMS personnel. I have experience how important they are to a community and I have seen whole neighborhoods crumble with the lack of public safety. I currently own a small business and have experienced the difficulties of taxes and fees placed on small businesses in New York. I understand how important it is for small business to work together with not just other businesses, but government as well to have everyone succeed.

I would like to see a board that works together, because the best ideas do not come from one person, but a well-informed board as a whole. We must have a comprehensive long-term plan for our infrastructure. We have to fix our crumbling streets, water and sewer services. We are currently building additions on a basement that is falling apart. We have to focus on every street and not just our main street. We also have to be more transparent. I would have a column on some sort of social media to allow all residents to know what their government is working on. Every project should be for the benefit or our residents and not done in spite of the residents. We have to find ways to get projects done not just by raising taxes and adding fees, but by finding other ways such as grants and shared services.

Some have said that in order to be mayor I must have experience in our government. If that is the case, then no one has the right to run for any government office without government experience, which is not how our democracy works. If we as a community do not like the direction our village is taking, why would we elect the same person that was part of that. I love our village and I do not want to change it into something it is not. We just need to fix what we have. We should not grow just for the sake of growth. We should have good responsible growth that benefits all residents.

Every election is important, but this election may be one of the more important elections for our village. The village could go in two very different directions. I am a firm believer that I don’t have all the answers, but with the help of all our great residents we will right the ship and get us headed in the right direction. Thank you, and please vote on Tuesday, March 19th from noon to 9 p.m. at our community center.

Luke Leszyk

Young Senecas at the Final Four semifinal game in Troy. (Photo by Keri Schubmehl)

Senecas are a great group of role models

To the Editor on March 17:

First, thank you, as always, for your excellent coverage of all things Schuyler County!

What a weekend for our Lady Senecas! It is always exciting when a community comes together!

I wanted to send you a couple of photos from this weekend. The photo of the group of young Senecas was taken by Keri Schubmehl at the semifinal game on Friday. The kids had such a great time cheering on the team all season, and especially this weekend!

The second photo is one I snapped of my 1st grade daughter, Leah, with Hannah upon the team’s return to WG. I know the loss last night was tough on Hannah, and she was exhausted from the emotions of the weekend. However, she took the time to give Leah a hug and pose with her for a photo. Leah’s had a smile on her face ever since. In her words, “Hannah is such a great basketball player!”

I have no doubt that our little Senecas will remember this team for their tenacity, their determination, and their work ethic. As a parent and educator, I couldn’t ask for a better group of role models for my own children as well as for the young students of Watkins Glen!

Jackie Bubb

Photo: Hannah Morse poses with Jackie Bubb's daughter Leah. (Photo by Jackie Bubb)

Former mayor: DeNardo is my choice

To the Editor on March 17:

I support Laurie DeNardo for mayor.

Yes, Laurie is my niece but that is not the reason to ask the village voters to elect her. Her experience and care for this village is. Since elected as a trustee she has been very active in board meetings, stepped up naturally when needed, attended countless meetings to be educated and helpful to the mayor and board. She attends functions and events to make sure a representative of the board attends to hear of the important issues that can affect you, the taxpayer. She listens and is responsive.

As a past mayor, I know the importance of no political personal agendas, just five people working together to make the best decisions for the community and taxpayers. Disagreements sure, but positive results. There is a lot of work to be done and I believe Laurie is the one to lead the village in a positive way, reduce costs and get the work done with funding to support updating our utilities, especially the water plant.

We cannot afford to go back and train someone who has no governmental or municipal experience. Laurie has the leadership, budgetary and heart for our village to get the job done with a great board. She has no personal agendas and will not support others that do. Her interest is our residents and building our community into the future.

If you want to protect our village and have a voice, use your vote to get it done. Please support and vote for Laurie DeNardo for mayor. This is a very important election for the future of our village.

Bob Lee

Matt Hayden has always impressed me

To the Editor on March 17:

It is with great enthusiasm that I write this letter of support for Matt Hayden...

Matt came to Watkins Glen in 2001 to attend Leadership Schuyler. He decided to move to Schuyler, renting a cabin on Salt Point Road.

It did not take long and Matt opened a law office and I was, likely, his first client. We had met at a few social gatherings at his parents' -- Carl and Cindy Hayden's -- home.

Matt has always impressed me, with his easygoing and approachable nature. When I met with him for a legal matter, he was all business. Again, I was impressed by his very mature and professional handling of the matter. He is smart, articulate, well-informed, and a well-rounded individual. Most importantly ... he is fair minded.

We have been so fortunate that this young man and his family chose to make their home here. He, and his wife, Denise, and their children, Jack and Beatrice, are all involved and active members of our community.

I hope you will join me in voting for Matt Hayden for Schuyler County Judge..

Phyllisa DeSarno
Watkins Glen

Young Dems back DeNardo, 2 others

To the Editor on March 15:

The New York State Young Democrats have officially endorsed Laurie DeNardo for Watkins Glen Village Mayor as well as Nan Woodworth and Brian Eslinger for Watkins Glen Village Trustee positions. This endorsement was made official on March 6th, ahead of the Watkins Glen Village election which will be held on March 19th.

The Young Democrats have sought to bring up at the local level candidates who embody the ideas of progress and forward thinking. We believe that the candidates mentioned above possess a desire to commit to public service, a willingness to be transparent with their community, and a drive to encourage or create the economic success of Watkins Glen and its residents. We proudly support DeNardo, Woodworth, and Eslinger in their campaigns, and we know that under their stewardship Watkins Glen and its people will thrive.

New York State Young Democrats

I highly endorse Steven Getman

To the Editor on March 12:

Dear Voting Residents of Schuyler County:

Supporting Steven Getman for Schuyler County Court Judge is an easy endorsement. Why? I have known Steve since 2005, when he came on board as the legal adviser for the Rte. 414 Scenic Byway Designation Committee. He served on the Board of Directors until the Byway was designated in September 2012.

Steve’s expertise on how to cross all the “t’s” and dot all the “I’s” came in handy when the committee was putting together the nomination package. Working with the NYS Transportation Department’s NY Advisory Board for the Scenic Byways was not an easy task. After a couple of meetings with the State it was quite evident that the Committee needed someone familiar in dealing with the State Advisory Board and the numerous rules and regulations that we had to deal with.

There were times when we felt a bit defeated by all the documents that were required by the Advisory Board. Many Scenic Byway committees hire a consultant to help them, but the Designation Committee agreed we could do this without having the expense of a consultant. We were able to accomplish everything we needed because of Steve’s help and dedication to this project. Even dealing with designing a logo for the sign was a bit tricky. However, Steve was able to help us in that regard.

When the Board found out that Rte. 414 would be designated as a Byway, all of us were excited. It had been a long 10 years since the conception of the idea of the 18 miles of Route 414 becoming a designated Scenic Highway.

I personally know that this would not have happened without Steven Getman and the other members of the committee. His expertise in working with the State to help us achieve our goal was enormous.

I highly endorse Steven Getman, and all residents should vote for him come November. You will not be disappointed.

Chris Kimball-Peterson
Town of Hector resident

Getman is our best choice for judge

To the Editor on March 12:

Schuyler County voters have a big responsibility in electing a new County Court Judge to fill the shoes of retiring Judge Dennis Morris.

In bigger areas, counties have separate judges for criminal court, family court and surrogates’s court. In smaller counties like ours, the judgeships are combined into one position, hence the Schuyler County Court Judge is what is known as a “three hat” judge. This fact makes it crucial that the person holding the position has a wide variety of legal experience and expertise.

Republican candidate Steven Getman has experience in each of these courts and more. He currently serves as Schuyler County Attorney, handling the difficult cases that come through our legal system. He has experience as a prosecutor, but is not one-dimensional. He also has extensive experience with family court, surrogate's court and the judicial system as a whole.

Voters should think of campaigns and elections like we voters are the bosses hiring someone for a job. There's no question in my mind that our best choice is to hire Steven Getman as our new Schuyler County Judge. He’s the most qualified and experienced person to serve in this important position.

Les Wilson
Montour Falls

Volunteering his time in the classroom

To the Editor on March 8:

On Friday, March 1st, Gerlando from Jerlando's Pizzeria volunteered his time in our Pre-K classroom where he helped us learn how to make pizzas. He walked the kids through step-by-step so they could make their own personal pizzas. He then baked the pizzas and brought them back for the kids to eat for lunch. Any recognition that you could give to him and the business as a "thank you" would be greatly appreciated! Thank you for your time.

Alycia Bianco
UPK Teacher
Watkins Glen Elementary School

How about a self-sufficient playground?

To the Editor on March 7:

I have been thinking about the Clute Park renovations plan controversy a lot lately. I have my own opinions as I know every individual does. I keep wondering if many people who want ice rinks and splash parks have thought about the future.

I'm looking a year or two, even three going forward. What happens when we get all these things built and running with all the available money now, but can't maintain them long term? Who has to pay for maintenance, insurance, staffing and upkeep? We already struggle to maintain things necessary like water service, and our utility bills have been rising. I personally don't want to pay higher taxes simply because there is money now to build something unnecessary.

Instead of an ice rink and a splash park, could an inclusive playground be built? That at least is relatively self-sufficient once built, requiring maintenance that could be done by those already employed by the village.

Marlana Beardsley

It's important to me to be voice of reason

To the Editor on March 5:

I am running for re-election to the Odessa Village Board. Balloting is on March 19.

--I have served as a trustee for the last 2 years.
--I have worked hard to listen to village residents and respect their needs and concerns.
--I have helped to obtain grant funds to bring a sewer system to Main Street.
--I have supported improving the existing water system.
--I am a member of the Schuyler County Planning Board.
--I have served on the Village Zoning Board.
--I owned and operated Centurelli Accounting right here in our village.
--I have been a resident of the Village of Odessa for 35 years.
--My husband and I raised our three children here. They graduated from OMCS.
--I am an Elder at my church, the First Presbyterian in Watkins Glen.

I decided to run for trustee two years ago to become more involved in my community. I also wanted to put some of my talents to use to help grow our village. It is important to me to be a voice of reason and experience for our village.

Please support me in my drive to be re-elected to the Village Board, so I can continue to serve you to the best of my ability.

Thank you.

Trustee Anne Centurelli

Photo in text: Anne Centurelli and her husband, Richard. (Photo provided)

Group seeks donations for STEM Forum

To the Editor on March 4:

STEM Group, a volunteer group, was created in December 2017 to provide funding for students of Odessa-Montour Jr./Sr. High School to attend the National Youth Leadership Forum: Explore STEM. The purpose of the Forum is to develop the skills of the next generation of leaders in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

Explore STEM is an Envision program for high-achieving middle school students. These students were nominated by local teachers and staff. They were selected based upon their abilities to maintain high grades, show interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) subjects, and demonstrate a high level of maturity and responsibility. This forum will provide these students with opportunities to develop critical thinking skills used in emergency medicine, robotics, forensic science, and civil engineering. A Mission to Mars project is planned to challenge their knowledge of STEM skills an dability to work as a team,while being mentored by professionals fromNASA and Discovery Education.

STEM Group is seeking contributions from local businesses, individuals, and agencies for assistance in paying the required tuition of $2,500 per student and related expenses. The tuition covers room and board at Villanova University campus during the summer of 2019. The tuition does not cover any other costs or fees such as transportation or clothing as per dress code. Any funds contributed are placed in an account which has oversight to ensure that the funds are used only for the required tuition and expenses of the students.

The eighth grade students who have been nominated and accepted in 2019 are Sarah Barr and Ben Campbell. Madison Moss attended the National Youth Leadership Forum: Explore STEM in 2018 and will be attending the Business Innovation program at Yale University in 2019.

Successful completion of the Forum guarantees the students future educational opportunities that are not typically available in our area. Each student will take away individual benefits from the Forum that will have a life-long effect on their own life and the communities that they live in.

Contributions are payable to STEM Group and can be mailed to P.O. Box 741, Montour Falls, NY 14865. Any amount of contribution will be greatly appreciated by the students and their families.

STEM Group

Rotary to award two $1,000 scholarships

To the Editor on Feb. 28:

The Watkins-Montour Rotary Club is proud to announce the application process is now open for the 2019 Rotary Scholarship. This scholarship emphasizes "service above self" and the application is scored on a weighted basis as follows:

Service above self: 40%
Extracurricular: 30%
Academics: 20%
Educational Goals: 10%

Two scholarships of $1,000 each will be awarded, one to a student from Watkins Glen and one to an Odessa-Montour student. Application forms may be obtained from each school's respective guidance office, and the deadline for application is April 1st.

Watkins-Montour Rotary Scholarship Committee

Thanks from the Arcangeli family

To the Editor on Feb. 18:

From the Family of Jay E. Arcangeli:

To say Thank You doesn't seem adequate. How do you thank an entire community for their love and support, when you tragically lose a loved one and you're numb and broken beyond belief ?

Your world STOPS! But the sun still sets and the next day it rises again, and you breathe and you put one foot in front of the other and you cry, and you hope that when the sun rises again that it hurts less than the day before! It doesn't!

And you thank God for your children, the letters, the calls, the visits from friends. That's what keeps you going!

Jay, you were taken from us far too soon! In your life you touched the lives of hundreds of people. We are not crying alone! We love you! We miss you!

We would like to thank Kyle at Royce-Chedzoy Funeral Home for all your help during this difficult time. Thanks to everyone who donated to the Go Fund Me page; to Pastor Evans for the service; to everyone who sent flowers; to the Burdett Fire Department for the service, the gathering after the service, the wooden plaque and everything else you guys/gals have done.

To Curt and Barb Connelly (Curly's) for the hot food; Paradiso Bakery for the rolls; Marty and Mary Ann Geck, Val Carocci, Terry Taney, Jamie Arcangeli, Sandy Spaulding for the desserts etc. If I forgot anyone in this list, please accept my apologies!

Thanks too to the hundreds of people who showed up, even though the weather was awful! To Schuyler County employees, for everything that you've done! We would also like to thank Silverline Construction; the guys from the squirrel derby on Jan. 19; WGSD teachers and staff; Watkins Supply; Monroe Tractor; K&J Surplus, Gates & Bower Farms for help harvesting our corn; the Schuyler County Association of Highway Superintendents; the Town of Hector Highway Department; Visions; Tim Dunlap (stone
plaque), and to everyone for the cards, letters, visits, food, gift cards, etc.

Out gratitude to Pat and Andy for plowing our driveway; to Aunt Marge and Uncle John and Aunt Sandy Spaulding for everything. To Val, Jerry and Jared Carocci, Curly, and
Daryl, we Thank God for friends like you! And to Andy Barrett Sr., who shows up every day to lend a hand, thank you so much for all you do!

Thank You ALL so much!.

Kathy, Alyssa and Joe Arcangeli

Jay: Till I see you again in that mansion you're building in the sky.
All my Love.

Hayden's qualifications are exemplary

To the Editor on Feb. 17:

I am supporting Matt Hayden in his campaign for election as the next Schuyler County Judge, and let me explain my reasons.

In late January 2016, I retired from employment with the New York State Courts here in Schuyler County. During my tenure with the court system, just over 22 years, I had the privilege and pleasure to work with three County Judges. I was secretary for the late Judge John P. Callanan, Sr.; secretary and County Court Clerk for Judge J.C. Argetsinger and County Court Clerk for Judge Dennis Morris.

Working with these gentlemen, I was able to observe their abilities and knowledge of the law. They showed compassion and empathy to those standing before them in the courtroom, and saw that justice was served at all times.

I have also seen this with Matt Hayden in his years as Assistant District Attorney. I was Clerk during many trials with Matt as the prosecutor. He’s very clear and to the point with his presentations, he’s very knowledgeable of the law and he puts forth his best efforts to represent the People of the State of New York and, specifically, THE PEOPLE OF THE COUNTY OF SCHUYLER.

Please join me in my support of Matt Hayden as our next County Judge. His qualifications are exemplary and his experience speaks for itself. Let’s support the candidate who is best suited for the position, regardless of party affiliation.

Rita Decker

Mayoral candidate: Experience matters

To the Editor on Feb. 15:

Thank you for the opportunity to introduce myself as the candidate of choice for Watkins Glen Village Mayor. I would greatly appreciate your vote during the upcoming Village Election on March 19, 2019.

My name is Laurie DeNardo, I am currently a Village Trustee and your candidate for Mayor. I am proud to be a lifelong resident of Watkins Glen. Not only do I have the relevant experience, dedication, education and background, I keep our residents at the forefront of every decision. Now is the time for me to lead our village and work hand-in-hand with our dynamic Village Board to lead the Village into the future.

The Village of Watkins Glen is sacred to me and I will work tirelessly to retain our heritage. I will sustain the quaintness of our village, support local businesses, and build a village for the future of our children and grandchildren. My top objective as mayor will be to establish a strategic financial direction for village infrastructure, maintenance and much more, making our water department a top priority. I have the drive and the commitment.

Through my commitment to the Village I have developed a strong rapport with our local and state agencies to bring more resources to the village. My proposed initiatives as mayor include reviewing the sales tax and room-tax revenue agreements, getting the garbage trucks OUT of our town, blocking the incinerator plans, initiating a tree replacement program, supporting a banner program for veterans in the community, and seeking designation for Watkins Glen as a Southern Tier Clean Energy community.

Working as a cohesive Board, we will work to institute a sidewalk audit with funding replacement plan, review parking and zoning laws, upgrade our deteriorating streets, and initiate a vacant-property analysis as it pertains to our tax base. We will monitor appropriate development and protect our municipal resources.

As your current Village Trustee, I’ve worked over the past four years to build programs and seek resources for our residents, but there is much more to do. I’m proud of my support to the WG Police and Fire Departments, which includes a new service award incentive program for our volunteer firemen and women (LOSAP -- please vote on the program). I worked with multiple village boards and residents to formulate and adopt the new Short Term Rental Law to ensure the safety and stability of short-term housing within the village. Given my robust Human Resource experience, I have successfully negotiated union contracts for our village employees to seek better wages and benefits which saved the taxpayers.

I was honored to be a member of the team that won the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Award from NYS to provide economic growth to our downtown along with Co-Chairing the Local Planning Committee. We had one of the largest DRI public participation rates in the state as we had an open and all-inclusive process. This past year I was able to develop a contract with Lime Bike to provide ecological transportation for residents and visitors, which was a huge success.

As your Mayor, I will listen, be open, thoughtful, and always protect “our village.” I will fight for what is right for the Village and its residents. I care, and it would be an honor to serve the Village of Watkins Glen as Mayor. I am the experienced candidate.

If you want to know the facts about Village initiatives or issues, please ask me. I can be reached at my email at TrusteeDeNardo@watkinsglen.us or call me at home at 607-535-9823.

My teammates Nan Woodworth and Brian Eslinger are running for Trustee seats. Together with Trustee Tony Fraboni, we shall build a dynamic and cohesive Board to strengthen our resources and work for you. We are your Village Voice.

I urge Watkins Glen residents to vote at the Village election on Tuesday, March 19, 2019 at the Village Community Center between 12 noon and 9 p.m.

Thank you.

Laurie DeNardo
312 N. Monroe St.
Watkins Glen, NY

Expressing my full support for Hayden

To the Editor on Feb. 12:

I met Matt Hayden early in his career as the Chief Assistant District Attorney for Schuyler County. I am a retired Investigator for the New York State Police, and was working for the DA’s Office as their investigator. I later became a Schuyler County Legislator. I continued to observe Matt’s work and his professional judgment and I found it to be of the highest standard.

On February 5th, 2019, Matt invited me and other supporters, from all political parties, to witness the announcement of his candidacy for Schuyler County Judge.

Matt Hayden is a highly skilled attorney in all aspects of the law. He is an asset to our community, has the utmost integrity, and has the moral judgment needed to be in this highly important position. I am personally excited to see Matt running for this position and am expressing my full support for him to become our next Schuyler County Court Judge.

Please consider Matt Hayden’s qualifications, experience, and personal attributes when deciding who to vote for, and not just party affiliation, and I hope you will agree with me that Matt is the best candidate to be our next Schuyler County Judge.

Stewart "Foot" Field
Town of Reading

Dr. Blanche Borzell will be missed

To the Editor on Feb. 11:

What a great loss our community has suffered with the passing of Dr. Blanche Borzell.
She was an outstanding physician and treated her patients as if they were family. There are not enough words to describe how wonderful she was to so many.

May you rest in peace, Dr. Borzell. You will never be forgotten.

Tom Carson

A thank-you from Seneca Santa

To the Editor on Feb. 11:

One of the most famous editorials ever written was in the September 21, 1897 edition of The (New York) Sun in response to a letter written by then 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon. Her question? Is there a Santa Claus? Editor Francis P. Church wrote: “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.”

Seneca Santa 2018 provided a gift package for 291 children from 119 families. Thanks begin with the 22nd annual fund-raising combined talents of The Grist Iron Brewing Company and Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards. The Schuyler County Highway Superintendent’s Association, Advanced Family Chiropractic, Dutton S. Peterson Memorial Library, Brandon VanHorn and The Glen Dairy Bar, various churches, civic groups, businesses, and individuals collect and donate a multitude of items used in the package.

Young people from the Watkins Glen High School, student athletes, and Girl Scouts led by Mary Coykendall unload the truck, wrap presents, and help bag the gifts. The Watkins Glen Presbyterian Church, Chris Dudgeon, Bill and Jen from Emergency Management, and the volunteer firemen and women provide services that make it all happen. Lastly, the ever faithful that man and coordinate the stations and those that show up the night we bag complete the picture.

To further quote from the editorial: “No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”

Thank you to all that support the Seneca Santa program.

Peggy Scott
Seneca Santa

LCP plans whodunit at Horseheads store

To the Editor on Feb. 10:

You are invited to a masquerade hosted by Marshall Inglewood, the Governor of Louisiana! The party will be held at the Governor’s posh New Orleans mansion. Everyone is expecting an elegant evening with hors d’ouvres, drinks and dancing -- they aren’t expecting a mysterious theft, dastardly deeds and unsavory scandal!

The Lake Country Players present “Mardi Gras, Masks and Murder” on Friday, February 22 at 6:30 p.m. at the Raymour and Flanigan store in Horseheads. This classic whodunit has a cast of 24 thespians from Schuyler County’s premier theater group who will portray the guests and wait staff at the Governor Marshall Inglewood’s (Anthony Curren) soiree.

You will meet Dominique LaBranche (LaVonne Finnefrock), the voodoo Mambo, and bumbling Sherriff Jacques LeBouef (Chad Isett). Architect Leon D’Loupe and Club owner Derek Nordhart (Alex Gill) are two of the characters whose shady past makes them targets of suspicion. Perhaps the ruthless lawyer Gabrielle LeBoef (Allyson Guild) or the beautiful bouncer Sarah Corrington (Kelsey Johnson) know more about the murder than they want people to realize! The flamboyant chef Noel Bellenuit (Joel Wilbur) works for caterer Tony Cour (Kim Laursen) and tries to rein in his sometimes violent sous chef Rene LeBoeuf (Joey Isett). There are many more quirky and delightful characters in the show -- something for everyone!

Audience members will be asked to join in a scavenger hunt for the mystery’s clues hidden around the store, and they will vote on whom they think committed the murder, as well as whom they think has the best costume, and is the best actor/actress in the production.

Admission is free and includes the show and dessert.

Kim Laursen
Lake Country Players

We need facts, not misinformation

To the Editor on Feb. 10:

On Tuesday, January 15, I attended the legislative session in Albany to witness the passage of the Reproductive Health Act (RHA) after many years of being stalled in the State Senate. It was a landmark moment for reproductive rights, a cause that I have supported for my entire adult life.

Those who would ban all safe, legal abortions in this country are disseminating much misinformation about the RHA. Their claims only serve to mislead the public about this issue and distract from what the RHA accomplishes. The purpose of this letter is to present facts about the legislation to help counter this misinformation.

The Reproductive Health Act protects safe, legal abortion for New Yorkers. This is a right that the majority of the people in this country support. Now more than ever this right is under threat from a reactionary administration and conservative Supreme Court. The legislation moves the regulation of abortion into the public health law where it belongs and out of the criminal code. It recognizes that in modern medical practice trained medical professionals like nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and licensed midwives, are qualified to provide certain early term abortion services. The RHA allows for late-term abortion for health reasons and places the decision in the hands of the woman in consultation with her health care professional, not in the hands of politicians. Before the passage of the law, some New York women were required to travel elsewhere for this healthcare.

Those who believe that the government should be in the business of deciding when and under what circumstances a woman should bear children paint images of abortion during labor or birth, either by deliberate action or failure to provide adequate medical care to a newborn. There is no such thing in abortion practice. The opponents of the RHA claim that unqualified professionals -- “even a podiatrist or optometrist” -- will be able to perform abortions without legal consequences. That is as false as it is absurd. Another groundless fear stoked by those against abortion rights is that law enforcers will not be able to charge criminals with a sufficiently serious crime when they commit violence against a pregnant woman resulting in miscarriage.

I urge everyone who supports access to safe and legal abortion to make sure your representatives in Albany and Washington are aware of your views. Support organizations that work to improve access to adequate healthcare for all. Speak out about the importance of respecting a woman’s ability to make the right decisions about those matters that impact the course of her life. Above all, make sure that the public conversation is based on facts, not misinformation designed to inflame emotions.

Andrea Beesing

Odessa Mayor: Vote Yes for fire truck

Odesssa Mayor Gerry Messmer, apppointed to that post in 2018, also announces his candidacy for a full term in March, and updates us on water and sewer plans.

To the Editor on Feb. 6:

Vote YES for our Fire Truck and in support of OFD!

This Thursday, February 7th from 12-9 PM is a critical vote for your Fire Department! Our Fire Department is in immediate need of a lifecycle replacement of our main fire truck. The time to do this is NOW while the old truck has good re-sale value, thus helping reduce the cost of the new truck. Chief Tomassi and First Assistant Jeliff have done a superb job of managing our Fire Department budget and are able to purchase a new combination rescue/pumper truck WITHOUT having to raise taxes. They are in an excellent financial position to be able to purchase this truck for our safety and the safety of the five other municipalities we support. The truck has many upgrades making it far safer to operate for our firefighters and with less manpower.

The vote will take place at the Village Office on Main Street, so come and show your support for our AMAZING Fire Department and for their efforts to continue to raise the bar of excellence in their support to our community. Clearly, our Fire Department is one of the premier fire departments in the region and they need your support on Thursday.

Other updates:

I have announced my candidacy to run in March for Mayor and would like your support for re-election as I continue to make changes to bring you transparency of operations and the budget (your money), changes in village operations to better serve you and to tackle the tough issues of water, sewer system on Main Street and better efficiency for our DPW.

I am working directly with Hunt Engineers on our water issues and meet with them consistently. Hunt Engineers are writing a grant for a study of our water system to determine what repairs and upgrades we need to make to bring clean water to you every day. It is a long process, but we are moving forward as fast as we can. After we do a comprehensive study of the water system and determine the exact issues, we can then apply for State and Federal Grant Money to make those repairs and upgrades.

The sewer system is moving along extremely well. We have finalized plans and are looking for a location for either a marshfield or a treatment plant. If you have ideas of what land may be available please contact me direct. To better increase our application for grants we have begun testing the water above and below the village in Catlin Mill Creek to determine potential contaminates from septics along the creek. These tests will help DEC and other agencies with understanding our issue and the critical need for a sewer system to service Main Street to allow businesses to expand and open. This is a critical need for Odessa and our ability to revitalize.

Also, in the coming month we will be placing speed signs to help determine critical times and locations for the incessant speeding in the Village. These signs will allow us to give the Sheriff's Department the times and days so they can target enforcement to bring us safer streets.

If elected, I will be looking for residents of the Village to participate with a Revitalization Task Force. This task force will help identify what it is we want for Odessa and to determine a way forward to get our Village back on the map! Schuyler County Planning and SCOPED have been a tremendous resource, and the director of SCOPED, Judy Cherry, and her team are standing by to support us in our efforts. The Task Force would work in concert with SCOPED to implement ideas and plans.

We have a great Village, but let's work together as a community to bring it to the next level! Come to the Board Meetings, ask questions or just observe what is going on so you can be a part of the process! And don't forget to vote YES for our Fire Truck this Thursday! Let's show the Fire Department our support, and again I ask for your support for election in March so I can continue to work on your behalf!

Gerry Messmer
Mayor of Odessa

Photo in text: Odessa Mayor Gerry Messmer

About the Odessa fire truck bond issue

To the Editor on Jan. 18:

The Village of Odessa and the Odessa Fire Department are in the process of purchasing a pumper/rescue fire truck. The Village Board has elected to hold a permissive referendum soon requiring Village residents to vote to approve this purchase. We would like to provide some essential details to the taxpayers to allow them to make an informed vote regarding this purchase. Here are some points to consider:

1.) The Odessa Fire Department has had an apparatus replacement plan in place for over 20 years. This plan allows for timely replacement of apparatus (abiding by N.F.P.A. recommendations) in a staggered timeframe as to allow for the financial saving and planning needed for financing of these purchases. The two rescue pumpers in our fleet are the costliest of all the fire apparatus we have and this equipment must perform flawlessly when their services are needed.

2.) The Odessa Fire Department has money in the capital equipment reserve account to offset approximately 1/4 of the cost of this purchase due to good financial management of the budget by the Fire Chief.

3.) The remainder of the money that will be spent to purchase this truck will be bonded and the payments will be made from the existing budget as to allow for no tax increase due to this purchase. Existing equipment used on the current pumper will be transferred to the new truck as to allow some savings to the taxpayers as we will not have to purchase new equipment.

4.) The officers of the Odessa Fire Department have designed this new truck with the following safety considerations in mind:

A. New options for fire suppression including foam capability and a larger pump as to allow more water flow which gives us more firefighting options. This will potentially lower our I.S.O. insurance rating, which in turn should save taxpayers money on their fire insurance.

B. All essential equipment mounted and/or built will be able to be accessed from ground level as to prevent firefighters from climbing on the apparatus and preventing firefighter injuries.

C. Fire suppression equipment will be built to be operated by a minimal number of firefighters due to short staffing especially during daytime operations.

D. Cab reinforcements will be built to specifically withstand rollover and collision accidents.

E. Installation of lighting equipment on the truck will allow for safe operations during nighttime operations.

Since 1910 the Odessa Fire Department has had a long tradition of providing quality fire protection to the Village of Odessa and the neighboring municipalities we contract with, utilizing an entirely volunteer department. In the past the Village has provided us with top notch equipment to be able to do this. All that we are now asking is that the taxpayers continue to provide us with safe and reliable fire equipment which we can utilize to protect our residents in times of emergency. Our residents and our firefighters' lives depend on it!

The Village of Odessa
Fire Department

Photo in text: Sign outside the Odessa Fire Department.

Why not vote on Clute Park renovation?

To the Editor on Jan. 10:

I have been following the controversy over the proposed renovation of Clute Park.

As there is is a Village election coming up this year, why not put a referendum (vote) on the ballot to allow all village residents to determine whether this project should go forward or not. All details should be presented before the vote, so we can make an educated decision in this matter.

Skip Ferris
Watkins Glen

Thanks to those helping with tourney

To the Editor on Dec. 14:

As we are getting ready for the 2nd annual youth wrestling tournament I would like to take time and thank some people. First I would like to thank the Odessa-Montour Central School and the custodial staff for helping us set up and clean up. Without them this tourney could and would not move forward. Thanks a ton. I would also like to thank the school for letting us use the facility and the mats. The varsity wrestlers for helping us with the tables. Also the Watkins Glen school for letting us use their mats as well.

I also wanted to give a very appreciative thanks to our sponsors: Watkins Glen Supply, Run-Rite Construction, Parmenter's Inc, Watkins Glen Lumber, Curly's Family Restaurant, the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel, Lane's Yamaha, Wright's Beverage. I know personally how hard it is for businesses to support so many different charities and non-profits. Not only do they pay taxes, but this area counts on their donations for quite a lot of reasons -- donations, sponsor money, etc. So I just wanted to let all of the businesses in Schuyler County know that we really do appreciate all that you do. So please, we as a community need to support these local companies. They do way more than we all give them credit for.

Rob Tuttle

We stand by these firefighters

To the Editor on Nov. 30:

On November 27, 2018 at approximately 4:36 p.m., the Burdett Fire Department received a call of a structure fire on Dolphsburg Road in Burdett. Mutual aid was also dispatched immediately. During the response and due to low visibility caused by weather conditions, one of our neighboring departments had a motor vehicle accident. Luckily there were no injuries.

We the chiefs and members of the Burdett Fire Department stand by these firefighters, men and women shoulder to shoulder, during this time. We would ask that the community of Schuyler County continue to support your local fire departments that are made up of trained and qualified volunteers who protect and serve the residents of Schuyler County every day. We as a volunteer service stand together in unity.

Thank you to all of the mutual aid departments for your support -- past, present and future. We would not be successful without you.

The Burdett Fire Department

Zonta is celebrating its 100th anniversary

To the Editor on Nov. 27:

Zonta International is celebrating 100 years. Watkins Montour Zonta Club has been meeting since 1925. Zonta empowers women through service and advocacy.

Carinne Wolford was inducted as a new member recently, as well as new officers for 2018-19: Nancy King Cole president; Marion Webster vice president; Judy Keough secretary; Trudy Collins treasurer. And Bev Stamp director.

This year the Watkins Montour Zonta Club gave monetary awards to four graduating high school girls, provided $1,500 to a woman needing more education for her job, donated $250 to the Safe House, gave $300 in gas cards to the Ithaca Schuyler Cancer Resource Center for women who couldn’t afford to drive to treatment, and ran the coat check at the Chamber of Commerce banquet. They also provided gifts to Seneca Santa, the Falls Home and the Safe House.

They meet once a month on the third Monday at 5:30 p.m. in the back room of Classic Chef’s, September through June -- with a December Christmas party and June a surprise destination. Call 425-2835 for information. Check out Zonta at Zonta.org.

The Watkins Montour Zonta Club

Thanks to all who helped on campaign

To the Editor on Nov. 27:

Congratulations, Phil Barnes. On Tuesday, November 20, 2018 the Schuyler County Board of Elections recorded the election results with the State of New York declaring Phil Barnes the winner. There were 985 total votes cast. Phil Barnes received 496 votes and I received 489 votes. Phil Barnes won by 7 votes (50.3 % to 49.7%). I would like to thank everyone who voted for me.

I am humbled by the community's support of me and I am grateful to so many of you who have taken the time to come to one of my Meet and Greet, Coffee with the Candidate or Town Hall meetings. I am grateful for your insights and honesty. Our elected officials should learn to listen to their constituents.

I want to personally thank Phil Barnes. Four months ago, Phil and I agreed that our campaigns would be based on the issues and we committed to keeping it professional. We wanted our campaigns to be an example to our county, state and federal candidates running for office that elections can and should be civil, based on the issues and respectful to all. Phil, we both should be proud of that! Thank you.

I would like to thank the Schuyler County Democratic Party for its support and continued encouragement. On a special note, I would like to thank the following people. First my partner and spouse David V. Hertel. David is my biggest fan. His encouragement and support in all I do is greatly valued and I am very lucky to have such a supportive and loving partner. We are truly a team and a strong force in all we do. To Carolyn Elkins, Raina Elkins, Jon Vona, Phyllis DeSarno, Peter Widynski, Angie Franzese, Paul Marcellus, and Stephanie K. Monroe. Your insights and guidance were invaluable to me and our campaign. We did a great job in defining who we were and what were the issues facing Legislative District 6. To the many volunteers who stuffed envelopes, manned the phones, put up signs and went door to door, thank you.

For those of you who were counting, we had over 100 signs out! Special thanks to Sandra Bartone ... Sandra, you were great and I appreciate your support and value our friendship. I would like to thank the following people for their public endorsement: Tom Di Napoli, NY State Comptroller; Tracy Mitrano, Democratic Candidate for Congress; Mayor Sam Schimizzi and Deputy Mayor Gary Schmidt; The Schuyler County Lodging and Tourism Association (Carol Henry, Mary Hartzell, Ilona Marmer and Gita Devi); Paul Marcellus, Phyllis DeSarno and Peter Widynski.

I am very proud that all of my endorsements other than Tom and Tracy came from residents of Legislative District 6. To the folks who donated to my campaign, thank you. To all who worked on my campaign, we were a strong team and you should be very proud. Phil hired a professional consultant to run his campaign. We were grass-roots volunteers and we went head to head with professionals.

We begin our work for November of 2022. I will be running again! Thank you all ... The work begins today. I am committed to working with Phil Barnes, Schuyler County Legislators and the residents of Legislative District 6 to make sure that our community's residents' needs are being met and that we have a voice in the County. .

Brian Eslinger
Candidate for Schuyler County Legislator 2018

Let's keep the Wreath Blue in Schuyler

To the Editor on Nov. 24:

The Schuyler County Firefighters Association is again teaming up -- for the 15th year -- with all the fire departments in Schuyler County, along with the Schuyler County Volunteer Ambulance Corps and Schuyler County Emergency Management, to remind all citizens to have a safe holiday season with our “Keep the Wreath Blue” safety reminder.

The participating agencies placed a wreath in front of each of their stations this holiday season starting the day after Thanksgiving -- November 23 -- and will keep the wreaths there until December 31. The wreaths are lit with blue lights. Whenever a structure fire occurs in the county, a blue light bulb will be replaced with a red bulb

We ask that the citizens of Schuyler County use this as a reminder that fire safety starts at home and to be vigilant in home fire safety.

For more information on fire safety, contact your local fire department or Schuyler County Emergency Management at 607-535-8200.

Follow Emergency Management and this program at one or all of these sites:

Web: www.schuylercounty.us
Facebook: www.facebook.com/SchuylerEMO
Twitter: www.twitter.com/SchuylerEMO

Let's keep the wreath blue in Schuyler County.

Schuyler County Emergency Management Office

Annual Vespers Candlelight Service set

To the Editor on Nov. 20:

The Choir of the Odessa-Catharine United Methodist Church will present its 69th Annual Vespers Candlelight Service on Sunday evening, December 16 at the church in Odessa. This tradition was started by the late, great Mrs. Lou Sand, and continues under the direction of Mrs. Kim Laursen.

The 12-voice choir will offer three anthems: "Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis" by Keith and Kristyn Getty, an exquisite arrangement of "Infant Holy, Infant Lowly" by Matthew Culloton, and "A Christmas Blessing" by BBC composer Philip Stopford. Rick Price will accompany, and he and Mary Wolfe will play prelude duets as well. Readings and Congregational Carols will be followed by a small reception in the fellowship hall.

There is no admission charge, and the public is invited. If anyone would like to join the choir and sing, rehearsals are Wednesdays at 7 p.m. at the Odessa church.

Kim Laursen

Christmas Chorus seeking participants

To the Editor on Nov. 20:

Calling all singers! Raise your voice in song with the Community Christmas Chorus as they perform Pepper Choplin's Cantata "A Christmas Presence: A Gathering of Hope, Peace, and Love" on Sunday, December 16 at 7:30 p.m. at the Montour Falls United Methodist Church on Owego Street in Montour Falls.

Any and all singers are welcome at rehearsals Sunday afternoons from 1-3 and Thursday evenings 6-8 p.m. at the Montour Falls church. Scores and rehearsal CD's are available for $10, and this contemporary telling of the Christmas story is a joyful and energetic piece all will enjoy. There is no charge, and a small reception will follow the service.

Pastors Sheila Price and George Norton will officiate, and Kim Laursen and Renee Brubaker will direct. You may contact Kim at 607-594-6565 for more information.

Kim Laursen

Good luck to Dylan at Ernie Davis game

To the Editor on Nov. 14:

Next week, on November 20 at 6 p.m., Odessa Montour High School Senior Dylan Houseknecht will be traveling to Johnson City to play in the Ernie Davis Classic All Star Football Game.

Dylan (right) is a three-year member of the Seneca Indians football team and was captain of the team this year. He was selected to represent Section IV Football for being an exceptional team player on and off the field.

Everyone at Odessa-Montour wants to wish Dylan good luck and a great game!

Fans at Odessa-Montour

Healing and Wholeness Ministry opens

To the Editor on Nov. 14:

A recent grand opening and ribbon-cutting for Healing and Wholeness Ministry @ Fresh Start signaled its opening at the Fresh Start Ministry House at 206 Fourth Street in Watkins Glen with a team of trained volunteers. We had a wonderful celebration and I want to thank the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce and all who came out to celebrate with us.

The Ministry is providing a coffee house-style Open Door space to drop in on Fridays from noon till 6 p.m. and will begin on Wednesdays in January of 2019. Hours are also available by appointment for individual needs. It is open to all who seek a quiet place to rest, meditate and pray. We provide resource material, light snacks, coffee, tea and water. We may on occasion provide a lunch.

We recently installed a Prayer Box outside for passersby to drop in a prayer request or ask for contact. Individuals may also call for appointments for private prayer and Pastoral Care Sessions. One Friday evening a month, we will host a study and discussion group. Our next study will begin in January and is titled “24/6, A Prescription For A Happier Healthier Life in a 24/7 World.” A prayer walkers group has been meeting on Wednesday afternoons at Lafayette Park. As we walk, we pray for community needs and have been in prayer around the community for those with addictions, their families and the agencies that assist them.

Each month there will be a different focus for prayer. A Centering Prayer & Meditation group will meet on Wednesdays at 12 noon beginning in January. Other events will be planned for workshops and retreats on health- and faith-related topics. A seminar and retreat will be held at the end of the winter on “The Cost of Caregiving: Engaging Self Care Practices to Prevent Burnout.”

We feel blessed to serve in this community and hope to work in association with the multiple helping agencies that provide care and service both faith-based and secular. Our space and services are open to all, and we hope to hear from you about your work and needs in the community. Please contact Sue by phone, email or text message.

Deaconess Susan Silhan
Cell: 631-813-7934
Email: healing.wholenessministry@gmail.com

Photo in text: From left: Rebekah Carroll, Rev. Nancy Adams, Nan Woodworth, Pastor Bill Vallet, Susan Silhan, Deputy Mayor Gary Schmidt, and County Legislator Phil Barnes Present but not pictured: Mayor Sam Schimizzi. (Photo provided)

Why we acted on speed limit, odd-even

To the Editor on Nov. 11:

In response to the letter written by Mr. Swinnerton (a former village of Watkins Glen elected official) written to the editor, I would like to set the record straight.

Back about 18 months ago, when the NYS DOT was starting the Rt. 14/Main Street project, a village official asked the DOT about 20 mph signs for the village. The village official was advised that our local law (made by the Swinnerton administration) was "unlawful." NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1643 forbids any village from having a lower speed limit than 30 mph unless in a school zone. A linear speed limit of 25 mph can be imposed on certain streets after traffic studies have been performed. The linear speed limit is meant for specific areas.

The village could not do a blanket "all" side street 25 mph speed limit. The village would have to prove that speeding/accident issues exist on certain streets to even start a study. Later the DOT asked the Village of Watkins Glen to change the speed limit from 40 mph to 30 mph at the north end of the village on Rt. 14. The current Village Board believes in the rule of law. As we were changing the north-end speed limit anyway, we decided to make changes so that the village was not violating state law. It appears that the former board did not exercise due diligence when it changed the village speed-limit law back in 2011/2012.

In regards to odd/even parking: A few years back the Village Board started using Code Red so that odd/even parking would be used only when it snowed, and it worked good, and I believe people who live in the flat, like myself, liked it, but we started to have issues. We do not have proper signage (working to fix now) which meant visitors did not know we had this law. We were having reliability issues with Code Red (incomplete phone messages); last year when Code Red was activated, the PD was still writing in excess of 30 tickets a night. The message was not getting out or was being ignored.

The Village Board decided to go back to using the odd/even law that was already on the books, and to use Code Red for emergencies or utility notice disruptions. This is why the Village Board made these changes. As for Mr. Swinnerton, stop the fear mongering and the deception; if you want to criticize me as the Mayor, that is fair game, but leave my employer out of it.

Sam Schimizzi
Watkins Glen Mayor

Shrek, the Musical set for Nov. 9-11

To the Editor on Nov. 7:

The Lake Country Players will proudly present "Shrek, the Musical" on November 9 and 10 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, November 11 at 2 p.m. at the Watkins Glen High School Auditorium.

More than 40 community members are included in this energetic, fun show directed by Casey Manzer Smith, with musical direction by Kim Laursen and Sarah Mathews.

The story is a fairy tale within a fairy tale which all begins "Once upon a time," when young Ogre Shrek (Collin McKenzie) is sent away by his parents (Phil Watson, Jen Kintz) at the tender age of 7 to find his way in the Big Bright Beautiful World. Young Fiona (Kylie Downing) finds herself in the same position when her royal parents (Melissa and Matt Norton) place her in a tower to await her true love's arrival .... on day number 8,423 of her confinement!

Meanwhile, the evil (and very short) Lord Farquaad (Anthony Curren) in his efforts to create his perfect kingdom in Duloc -- as described with the awesome choreography of Kelsey Johnson by the Duloc Dancers -- banishes all of the "freaky" fairytale characters to live in the smelly, awful swamp where the mature Ogre Shrek (Alex Gill) makes his home. When his solitary home is invaded by Humpty, Pinocchio, Big Bad Wolf, the fairies, witches, Gingerbread man, et al, Shrek goes to talk with Lord Farquaad about the situation, and strikes a bargain that the Ogre will go rescue the mature Princess Fiona (Melissa Neufer) from her tower so that the evil Lord can marry her and have a queen, thereby becoming a genuine King. In return, Farquaad will give Shrek his swamp back.

Shrek is joined on his quest by his new friend, Donkey (Rhys Stermer), who is much too talkative and very annoying to the Ogre. When Shrek encounters the Dragon (Amy Issett) who guards the Princess's tower, Donkey actually becomes the Dragon's love interest so that Shrek can rescue the Princess and take her back to Duloc. On the way to meet her prospective husband, Lord Farquaad, we learn that the Princess is a beauty by day, and turns into a green Ogre by night (Jen Kintz) due to a spell cast long ago by a witch.

Nevertheless, Shrek and the Princess get to know one another and a romantic friendship develops. Will the Princess actually marry evil Lord Farquaad or will there be a fairytale ending to this rollicking musical production?

Dani Rumsey, Odessa Math Teacher, has organized the building of the sets, and Sue Larson, Judy Fitcha and Kim Hurley are busy creating costumes for this large cast. Business manager Lorry Johnson will have tickets for sale at the door -- $10 Adult, $8 Senior and Student, and Under 5 free.

Kim Laursen
President, Lake Country Players

Speed-limit hike increases the risk

To the Editor on Nov. 6:

The current Village Board is putting the residents and visitors at risk. In 2011 a local resident was struck and killed by a motor vehicle in Watkins Glen. That tragic accident prompted that administration to discuss the safety issues associated with our narrow streets and our documented growing number of visitors we have coming to Watkins Glen each year.

Our streets are extremely narrow and I have personally seen what a 30 mph car looks like on several of the streets with cars parked on both sides of the street. The car seems like it’s going much faster with such little space on each side. God forbid a child step out between two cars, there is just not time enough to react. The 20 mph speed limit was only on the side streets, not the state highway. If you live on one of the side streets, you know all too well they are used as a shortcut to stay off of Franklin and Decatur Streets, and the speed often is dangerous. Next thing you’ll know, the Board will want to remove the stop signs too! This comes at a time when we are trying to encourage more people to walk and use the Lime Bikes in the Village. I hope the current board will be able to sleep at night knowing they have just increased the risk of an accident or fatality exponentially.

As to the Odd/Even parking, this was one of the most successful uses of technology that the Village has used to help the residents of Watkins Glen. Without CodeRed, the residents will now have to move their cars every single day of the week for only a few snow events per season. This seems to be a financial decision by the board, possibly looking for a revenue stream from the tickets that will be issued when it's 40 degrees out and the streets are dry. There are many residents who do not have driveways and are elderly. These residents are now going to have to move their cars every day for the few times a year that plowing needs to occur. Yes, CodeRed had a cost associated with it, but for the convenience and ability to contact residents in an emergency situation within minutes, it was well worth it.

These two decisions are not in the best interest of the Village residents; they both have life safety issues associated with them. The Village Board is in need of some new members who will put the residents' safety first. You would think that working at Cargill Salt, the Mayor would understand that Safety is first! Second to none. The time for change is coming this March! I hope the Village residents get out and vote for someone who can both lead and make decisions that will protect residents and visitors of this wonderful Village.

Mark Swinnerton
600 N. Perry St.
Watkins Glen

Eslinger will protect taxpayer dollars

To the Editor on Nov. 5:

I am pleased to endorse Brian Eslinger for Schuyler County Legislator. Brian is committed to protecting taxpayer dollars while still ensuring that residents get the services they need. He will bring transparency and accountability to county government, and offer a fresh perspective on the issues that matter most to communities.

Tom DiNapoli
New York State Comptroller

Mitrano: Eslinger offers fresh perspective

To the Editor on Nov. 5:

I would like to take this opportunity to endorse Brian T. Eslinger for Schuyler County Legislature representing Legislative District 6. I first met Brian in August of this year when he attended one of my events. He stated that he was planning on running for Schuyler County Legislature. I shared with Brian that the greatest way to impact people's lives is to serve them in public office.

I had the opportunity to hear Brian speak on October 12, 2018, at the Democratic Annual Dinner and Fundraiser for the Candidates. Brian is charismatic, engaging, and sincere. He was focused and had a clear message to his constituents. Brian will work to control spending while providing the services your community and residents need to prosper. He is committed to being your advocate in the County Legislature and working closely with your Mayor and Trustees to address the needs of the people of Watkins Glen. He will put you and your interests first.

Brian is a pro-active, outside-the-box thinker who is engaging and not afraid to ask the difficult questions for you. On November 6th, vote Brian T. Eslinger for Schuyler County Legislature for a fresh new perspective in these changing times.

Tracy Mitrano

Barnes used the old bait-and-switch

To the Editor on Nov. 5:

In response to the letter written by Mr. Barnes (a candidate on November 6th ) to the editor, I say the facts speak for themselves. I do not twist the truth. And, our legislators need to be truthful to our County taxpayers. Even when the truth hurts.

I am amazed at what he has written.

Mr. Barnes needs to go to www.schuylercounty.us and check out the budget for 2011. This is the first budget he helped prepare as a new legislator. This is the year he first took office and refers to. He said in his letter “the County was struggling to recover financially. Our fund balance was almost depleted, and we were deemed to be in fiscal distress by the New York State Comptroller.”

Not so, Mr. Barnes. The estimated cash surplus at the end of 2010, the year you came on the Legislature, was $6.1 million. The total spending for that year was $43 million. Note 10 % of that is $4 million. The County was in excellent shape with a more than reasonable cash surplus. In fact, they appropriated $750,000 of the Cash Surplus to reduce the tax levy that year (the taxpayer’s share). Mr. Barnes is the Finance Chairman. He has copies of all the budgets. My letter gave our taxpayers information that needed to be shared before the budget hearing coming up.

I also think that our taxpayers need to know the facts in this case. He says, “ Ms. Franzese provides some accurate information, but … paints an inaccurate picture of the the county’s financial strategy,” Not so, Mr. Barnes. I painted no picture. I gave the facts right off of the County’s own website. By the way, the New York State Comptroller does not establish what is allowed as Cash Surplus. New York State Municipal Law does, and it refers to a reasonable cash surplus for the size of the budget. If he checks out some other counties that have cash surplus policies, he will find that the 5-10% of total spending seems to be reasonable for them.

Mr. Barnes says, “There is no law mandating cash surplus be allocated either for deficit spending or to reduce the tax levy.” Likewise, Mr. Barnes, there is no law to prevent it. By law it can only be used in that manner, and it is left up to the discretion of our representatives to do so.

I presented only one opinion at the end of my letter -- that some Cash Surplus could be put into the 2019 Budget to help our taxpayers have more money to spend and stimulate the economy. I felt a taxpayer should have a right to give her input to the Legislature. Evidently, my own district legislator felt it necessary to criticize me.

He needed just to accept input from a County taxpayer. Mr. Barnes used the good old bait-and-switch strategy. If you can not attack the message, attack the messenger.

Angeline Franzese
Schuyler County Taxpayer

About Franzese's budget analysis ...

To the Editor on Nov. 4:

In response to a recent letter to the editor written by Angeline Franzese concerning Schuyler County's 2019 budget and estimated surplus, I would offer the following:
I find it somewhat ironic that the same individual who this year is offering criticism of the Legislature for restoring a prudent fund balance was even more vocal in her criticism four years ago over the fact that our fund balance was dangerously low. Given her condemnation at the time, I would have thought that thanks would be in order, but it is an election year ...

When I first took office, the County -- which suffered more than most from the recession -- was struggling to recover financially. Our fund balance was almost depleted, and we were deemed to be in fiscal distress by the NYS State Comptroller. The Legislature and administration acted to reverse this trend, not by raising taxes, but by promoting additional shared services and consolidations, effectively lowering the cost of government. Today, we are a model among the state for our pioneering initiatives both locally and regionally.

Shared Director of Weights and Measures (Yates), Information Technology(BOCES), Code Enforcement (Yates) and Health Insurance (Chemung) are but a few examples of regional success stories. Additionally, we have created partnerships for shared administration. Examples of this include shared Purchasing Director (BOCES) and Shared Public Health Director (Yates). We have also consolidated management of departments to include HR/Civil Service and Highway and Building & Grounds departments.

Parallel to restructuring for efficiency, the Legislature also supported numerous economic development initiatives both locally and regionally. One need only look at sales tax receipts to see the results of this strategy. Lastly, our County staff, from administration to our front-line workers, have continued to do everything in their power to control costs, coming in under budget in respect of the public's funds. Adopting a budget is easy; meeting or exceeding that budget is often quite another thing. We are very fortunate to have such a talented and dedicated workforce!

So, what does all this mean? In the last several years, we have reversed the economic downturn experienced by the County and have done so without burdening our taxpayers. The 2019 budget marks the 7th straight year that the tax rate will be reduced; almost 12% over that time period. But wait ... there's more!

With respect to the question of surplus, Ms. Franzese provides some accurate information but fails to address key points that have a bearing on this and in so doing, paints an inaccurate picture of the County's financial strategy. She also provides her opinion and would have us believe that this too is fact. Case in point, the NYS Comptroller does not establish a maximum percentage of expenditures allowed to be held in reserve. The Comptroller's guidance is that a municipality should establish reserves that are deemed by the governing body to be sufficient to cover unanticipated expenditures without further burdening taxpayers. There exists no law mandating cash surplus be allocated either for deficit spending or to reduce the tax levy. Beyond being inaccurate, this flies in the face of sound fiscal management principles, chief among which is to never use one-time revenues to fund recurring costs. Municipalities that choose that route invariably incur financial harm to their taxpayers.

In Schuyler's case, because we do have reserves the Legislature was able to fund a mandated upgrade to our jail, replacing 50-year-old plumbing and other infrastructure to the tune of a half-million dollars without having to raise taxes or borrow money to do so. The Legislature also committed $100,000 to help fund infrastructure improvement in the Business Park, which helped facilitate the construction of the new state-of-the-art Premium Beverage Facility which will soon be open.

As we look to the future, at least $2 million in capital improvements to County facilities will be required over the next two to three years. This list includes replacing HVAC units in multiple buildings as well as critical repairs to the break wall and retaining wall at Seneca Harbor Park. My point is this: not only is the Legislature staying on top of critical maintenance and upkeep (it will only cost more if we defer to future generations), we are doing so in a fiscally responsible manner. I fully believe that the expenditures can be accomplished while further lowering the tax rate for our residents and businesses alike.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide some balance.

Philip C. Barnes
Schuyler County Legislator -- District 6
Chairman of the Management and Finance Committee

My Dad is vested in our community

To the Editor on Nov. 4:

As Election Day draws near, I felt it was important to reflect on my father’s commitment to the residents of Schuyler County for over 40 years. My dad was born just north of here in Penn Yan. He was the oldest of two boys; my grandparents had strong family values that were passed down to all of us. Dad knew very early on that he wanted to help his community and felt best to serve the public through law enforcement. In 1973, while working for the Penn Yan Police Department he came to work in Watkins Glen one famous weekend. A lot of people’s lives changed that weekend of Summer Jam, as did my dad’s, and I think it’s safe to say that he never really left after that.

I have fond memories of my dad giving back to the people of Schuyler County from a very early age. For years, he would borrow my brother’s tricycle and ride it into a swimming pool to raise funds for the American Red Cross. I remember one Earth Day when he had my stepsister and I digging tires out of Seneca Lake for the Watkins Lions Club. Not to mention sitting in dunk tanks for school fundraisers. He was a part of our schools' Shared Decision Making Team in the '90s, making sure the community was involved in our schools.

Although Phil Barnes represents only the residents of District 6, he works for the whole county. In fact, I challenge you to find someone who has done more for our community then he has. He has in some way, shape or form had an impact on every township and village within the county. He is a strong supporter of our local fire departments and has been instrumental in securing funds for many new buildings, fire trucks and equipment within our county for years. He has worked closely with town and county highway departments to make our roads safer. He retired from the Sherriff’s office after 27 years of service. He sits on countless committees to make Schuyler County better. My stepsisters and I are all residents of Schuyler County. Our kids go to school here. Phil Barnes is vested in our community because our family is here and he is committed to making it a better, safer place for all of us. He has taught us to love our community and the people here.

Schuyler County needs someone who understands the issues facing the county right now. He’s aware of the lack of affordable housing we have, as well as the drug issues that don’t stop at the county lines. Many of these problems didn’t happen overnight, nor can they be fixed that way. That is exactly why it’s so important to re-elect my father, Phil Barnes, as your County Legislator.

Melanie Barnes Caslin
District 6 Taxpayer

This should be a wake-up call ...

To the Editor on Nov. 4:

I applaud Angie Franzese for her most recent letter to the forum.

I would not have known that the County cash surpluses are so high and out of proportion to the budget. And more importantly that there is no Countywide tax relief on the table for us, the public. As of Nov. 1, “foreclosure of tax lien” notices are in the mail, being sent from the Treasurer's office to 179 parcel owners who now stand to be foreclosed upon. Our friends, possibly family and neighbors, by the way.

You have likely already heard how disingenuous it is to me that our county's Republican majority sent the county planner to encourage a special taxation district for our business sector. This should be a wake-up call! Change is needed on Tuesday, November 6.

Paul Marcellus
A concerned taxpayer in Schuyler County

We endorse Eslinger for Legislature

To the Editor on Nov. 4:

We would like to endorse Brian Eslinger for Schuyler County Legislature representing District 6. Brian and his partner David moved to Watkins Glen over six years ago to open their business, The Blackberry Inn Bed & Breakfast. Over the last six years Brian has proven himself to be an active and committed member of our community.

Over two years ago Brian was appointed to the Village of Watkins Glen Planning Board.  He has proven himself to be an asset to the Board and the Village of Watkins Glen. He is committed to doing what is right for the people of this Village. Brian will put the time in to do his homework and know the facts. He takes the time to understand our Zoning Laws and how they apply to the Site Plans he is reviewing. He is a strong advocate of the Law!

Brian is a team player who will listen to the feedback from the community and is committed to working together with others for a common good. He has a strong business and management background and is an outside-of-the-box thinker. He will bring a fresh perspective to our County leadership and Village.

Brian is committed to driving additional Sales and Occupancy Tax revenues to the Village and municipalities in Schuyler County to help minimize the local resident tax burdens.  We look forward to working with Brian and having him be our advocate in the County Legislature. Please vote on Tuesday, November 6th for Brian T. Eslinger, Schuyler County Legislature.

Sam Schimizzi
Mayor of Watkins Glen

Gary Schmidt
Deputy Mayor of Watkins Glen

Schuyler County is so much more ...

To the Editor on Nov. 4:

Schuyler County is much more than the Bed and Breakfast, the Vacation Rental, and the Motel. We have agriculture, manufacturing, and production industries that allow many residents to live and thrive in our County.

The current volatile state of the Village of Watkins Glen government regarding the single issue of short-term rentals reflects a dysfunction and is evident in the pages of this website. The recent resignation of a Village Board member and the head of the Village Public Works Department further reflect this dysfunction. We do not need this dysfunction brought to the County level. The public depends on our elected and appointed officials to efficiently and effectively bring forth solutions to a variety of issues, not just the ones they may have a personal stake in.

I’m asking the residents of County Legislative District 6 to re-elect Phil Barnes so our County government can operate effectively, efficiently, and for all residents of Schuyler County.

Forrest Banks
County resident and taxpayer

We need Barnes in the Legislature

To the Editor on Nov. 4:

We appreciate this opportunity to speak directly to the voters of Schuyler County now that we’re on the doorstep of Election Day, Tuesday, November 6th.

This year’s elections are critically important at many levels, for many reasons, but we believe it’s especially important to share our strong support for the re-election of Schuyler County Legislator Phil Barnes.

We have worked together for many years to do whatever we can to strengthen the future of Schuyler County and our entire region. One thing we have learned, however, is that we are most successful when we work closely with our partners in government at the local level.

In our experience, there is not a more committed or more effective local legislator than Phil Barnes.

It’s important for you to know how much we have appreciated and valued so many opportunities to work with Phil Barnes on issues that impact every Schuyler County resident, and to benefit from Phil’s common sense, experience, and know-how to find the best solutions to the toughest challenges.

Make no mistake, these are enormously challenging times for local governments.

Nevertheless, Phil Barnes has led the way on making Schuyler County government more cost effective and efficient for property taxpayers, while maintaining an impressive level of services that county residents need and deserve. That’s no small achievement.

Phil Barnes is fully committed to cooperation and shared services as the way of government’s future. His overriding priority remains to do anything and everything possible to lessen your tax burden, strengthen the local economy, improve local infrastructure, and create jobs for local workers.

We could say plenty more, but here’s our bottom line: We need Schuyler County Legislator Phil Barnes as a partner in government and we hope that you will give him your full support on Election Day.

NYS Senator Tom O'Mara
Asseemblyman Phil Palmesano

Eslinger should receive your vote

To the Editor on Nov. 4:

"And why is that?" is the question Brian Eslinger repeatedly asked. You see, a little while back, we were discussing the short-term rentals popping up throughout the area and the impact it was having on the local housing market. We were not fully in agreement. I thought that was the end of the conversation. However, days later Brian said "Talk to your local officials with your concerns." And I realized that he listens!

Brian has since proven to be an honest, engaging, proactive force within the community. He may be listed on the ballot by certain party lines, but his all-inclusive character indicates a sincere desire to represent all. Regardless of party affiliation, he should receive your vote.

Peter Widynski

Eslinger will take our concerns seriously

To the Editor on Nov. 4:

Brian Eslinger is the candidate for Schuyler County Legislature I have been awaiting for a long time.

In recent years, there have been issues that concerned me. In public meetings and on occasion directly, I spoke to my representative about my concerns. It was so disappointing to see that they were not taken seriously.

It appeared that big business and corporate interests were more important than the interests of local residents, small businesses, wineries, and tourism.

Frankly, the whole LP gas storage saga has made a definite impact on how I look at all the current representatives within Schuyler County.

Brian visited my husband and myself and one by one we went over our concerns. He listened and asked us important questions. We felt we were being heard.

He knew so much about the details and had read up on issues. Finally, someone who was eager to make decisions on facts and documentation and, most importantly, listened to how we as a native and a longtime resident felt on issues.

Phyllisa DeSarno

County's tax levy can still be changed

To the Editor on Nov. 4:

On November 13, 2018 at 6:30 p.m. there will be a public hearing on the 2019 tentative Schuyler County budget at the Human Services Complex in Montour Falls. Schuyler County taxpayers, please come and take part. The 2019 Tax Levy (the money that comes from the taxpayers) can still be changed.

Here are some interesting facts taken from the 2017 Executive Summary of Schuyler’s Audit Report and from 2014 up to the tentative 2019 County Budget, which can be found on the County’s website. (www.schuylercounty.us)

*Schuyler had over $1.5 million Dollars left over (unrestricted Cash Surplus) at the end of each budget year (2014-2017).

*The Co. Audit report shows Schuyler’s Cash Surplus on hand at the end of 2017 was $6.3 million dollars.

*The generally accepted Cash Surplus for a County to have on hand is 5% to 10% of its total operating Budget.

*10% of Schuyler’s $49 million tentative operating budget would be $4.9 million dollars. That would be considered a reasonable amount of cash to have on hand by most counties.

*The Tentative 2019 Co. Budget estimates general fund Cash Surplus for 2018 to be over $9 million dollars.

*Cash Surplus by law is meant to cover deficit spending or each year a reasonable amount can go to reduce the taxpayers' share. (tax levy).

*In the past 5 Schuyler County Budgets (2014-2018), the Schuyler Legislature appropriated $0 Cash surplus to reduce property taxes.

*The Tentative 2019 Budget again has $0 Cash surplus appropriated to reduce the taxpayers' share. The facts speak for themselves.

Schuyler’s $11,116,913 tax levy (the taxpayers' share) can be further reduced, still preserving all programs and services with no workforce reductions. Legislators need to put a reasonable amount of Cash Surplus into the 2019 County Budget and give the Schuyler taxpayers tax relief. This year when State and Federal income taxes are filed, our County taxpayers are not going to be able to deduct their property taxes on their State and Federal income tax. Lowering taxes will stimulate our local economy, help keep small businesses here, attract new business creating jobs and help our senior citizens living on fixed incomes keep their homes.

Please get out and make your vote count on November 6th.

Angeline Franzese
Schuyler County Taxpayer
and Small Business Owner since 1986

Eslinger would serve the county well

To the Editor on Nov. 1:

Brian Eslinger is an asset to Schuyler County. He has worked hard to know his community and the issues that surround it. As the Chairman of Schuyler County Lodging & Tourism Association, he applied for the Tourism Promotion Agency grant for our organization to receive funding to promote Schuyler County and attract more overnight stays, resulting in more tax revenue.

Under Brian’s’ leadership we were able to update our by-laws and come up with a clear plan of action to carry our organization forward. Brian knows the tourism business, he understands what is needed to attract tourists and keep them here. As one of our major industries here is tourism, we think it is time we had a legislature that knows and understands one of the major economic influences of this community.

Brian has been a successful businessman for over 30 years. He and his partner, David, have been operating their bed & breakfast for the last six years, greeting guests from all over the world. He knows this community in a way that many of our legislators do not. He is fair and open minded and will serve this community well. We fully support Brian Eslinger for County Legislature.

SCLTA 2018 Leadership Team
Carol Henry
Mary Hartzell
Ilona Marmer
Gita Devi

Eslinger brings businessman's perspective

To the Editor on Nov. 1:

As most of you would do, when government is poised to reach deep into your pocket, you pay attention, and maybe mobilize.

Our Empire State already ranks dead last, behind all other states, for the expense and regulatory hurdles confronting those who operate a business! My personal belief is that when you are in a hole, STOP DIGGING!

Chairman of the County Management and Finance Committee, and incumbent District 6 Republican Candidate Phil Barnes, believes otherwise.

He deployed the County Planner to facilitate a group, to create a Special Taxation district, just for Main St. Our County Planner introduces the proposed district at the Village Trustee meeting of 8/20/2018, two days after the sudden loss of revenues of the Phish Concert.

The required public hearing date was set, but had to be subsequently cancelled because the committee didn’t know, or follow, the mandated guideline that all affected property owners and businesses were to receive notice of same by mail.

Just think of the division within the business community if only 49% could be rallied against the BID initiative. The district would go into effect and half of your business community would have an extra 20% added to their tax bill, against their will, in perpetuity.

I need a candidate whose policy efforts unreservedly support less taxation and smaller government.

I would encourage all voters from District 6, if you haven’t already, to track down Brian Eslinger and have a talk. Brian is part of the lodging community and through such I have come to know him well. He’s eminently approachable, listens well and follows through in his undertakings. He works hard and thinks outside the box, and brings a businessman's perspective to the table.

Paul Marcellus

His name was John Plumb ...

To the Editor on Nov. 1:

I really enjoyed reading "To be the devil's disciple." Local media outlets are so important to our country and I hope they continue to thrive. Every day I am grateful for the privilege of being able to read local stories and opinions from around the U.S.

John Plumb. That was his name. The Democratic candidate running against Tom Reed in 2016 was John Plumb. The name of the candidate from the "western realm" was John Plumb. He was/is a member of the U.S. Navy Reserve. He served this country. He deserves better than the snarky comments in your article.

Ironically, he was two years ahead of his time. Just look at the number of candidates with military experience, both Republican and Democrat, running this election cycle. John Plumb running against Tom Reed in 2018 would have had a different outcome from the race in 2016, I believe. His name was John Plumb.

Lori Ann Nystrom

Support Phil Barnes, District 6 legislator

To the Editor on Oct. 29:

While I am not a resident of Schuyler Legislative District 6, I believe the members of our Legislature represent the entire County. This is why I support Phil Barnes. Phil has dedicated his entire adult life to Schuyler County, as a Deputy Sheriff, Undersheriff, and member of the Schuyler County Legislature.

As Chair of the Management and Finance Committee, Phil has worked to keep our taxes in check, while supporting the various county departments and the services they provide to us.

As a member of the Public Safety Committee, Phil has firsthand knowledge and experience of law enforcement at all levels. This is especially important for our Sheriff Department as they continue their efforts to successfully combat life-threatening narcotics attempting to be manufactured and distributed in our community.

As a member of the Public Works Committee, Phil has helped secure funding to provide us with safe roads and structures so we, as residents, can efficiently travel to our work, schools, and businesses. These roads and structures enable commerce to move to, from, and within our County, which is vital to our economy.

Phil Barnes is a Legislator who provides fact-driven, rather than emotional, solutions to the various issues and needs of our County. I ask the residents of District 6 to vote for Phil so he can continue his excellent service to all the residents of Schuyler County.

Forrest Banks
County Resident

Thanks to the parents for the podium

To the Editor on Oct. 28:

The Watkins Glen girls varsity swimming and diving team would like to send out a huge thank-you to the parents who organized the effort for a new podium for the school that is worthy of the student athletes and their efforts.

Also, a giant thank-you to everyone who donated. Your hard-earned money was well spent and the podium is a sight to behold. Perhaps the biggest thank-you has to go to Mark Swinnerton for building and planning the magnificent podium. Also, to his building assistants Steve Klemann and Kris Clarkson.

Again, thank you so much for supporting the student athletes and all that they do. I will let the photo speak for itself.

Nichole Chaffee

Let's elect someone who cares about us

To the Editor on Oct. 27:

As a mother and grandmother, I am deeply concerned about the state of civility in our country.

How do I explain to my grandchildren that we have a president who regularly lies, has mocked a handicapped journalist, disparaged women and recently praised a congressman for body slamming a journalist? How do I explain that he lowers the bar for decency on a daily basis and sees the free press as “the enemy of the people”?

Like the president he supports, Congressman Tom Reed follows a similar playbook. His campaign literature is filled with unsavory lies about his opponent. He receives most of his campaign funds from outside our district and is beholden to special interests, not his constituents. He attempts to divide us by disparaging the residents of Ithaca, a thriving vibrant community in our district.

On Tuesday, November 6th we, the voters of the 23rd Congressional District, have the opportunity to elect a gifted individual we can all be proud of. We can elect a representative who is honest, smart, hardworking and truly cares about the people in our district. We can do our part to restore civility. Let’s elect Tracy Mitrano to Congress.

Joan Harriss
Catharine, NY

Reed has disdained the needs of district

To the Editor on Oct. 23:

Representative Tom Reed’s re-election campaign recently issued an ad that represented his opponent, Tracy Mitrano, as an “extreme Ithaca liberal.” The smear tactic is a low blow not only because Ms. Mitrano is from Penn Yann, not Ithaca, but because her positions are those of a mainstream progressive. She supports maintaining and improving Social Security, Medicare, and the Affordable Care Act; she advocates major investments in infrastructure and public education; she favors strong action to combat global warming; she backs multinational military alliances like NATO that are essential to national security; and she speaks out for restoration of the Voting Rights Act. These are principled democratic positions backed by a majority of Americans.

Meanwhile, Congressman Reed himself does qualify as an extreme right-wing supporter of the Trump administration’s policies. On more than 95 per cent of some 90 significant votes cast during the year prior to the start of the current campaign, he backed Trump’s position. He opposes pro-choice legislation, opposes measures that would restrict the kind of special-interest campaign financing that gives him a huge advantage over Ms. Mitrano, opposes federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, opposes gun-control laws, and opposes mandates to balance the federal budget. On the advocacy side, he supports repeal of the Affordable Health Care Act of 2010 and backs the Trump tax cuts that overwhelmingly favor the wealthy over the middle and lower classes.

Tom Reed has held to the radical stance of an elected representative who has disdained the needs and interests of citizens in his district. Now, however, while campaigning, he pretends to be a moderate proponent of bi-partisan cooperation. I urge your readers not to be fooled.

Philip Lewis

There's much more work to be done

To the Editor on Oct. 22:

It was never an ambition of mine to get into politics. But public service is in my blood, and I feel it’s important to give back to our community every chance we get.

With that in mind, I’m respectfully asking for your vote when you cast your ballot on Tuesday, November 6th, for Schuyler County Legislature.

Going back to my service with the Schuyler County Sheriff’s Office from 1974 through 2010, including ten years as Undersheriff, serving our community has always been a top priority. I love our area and do everything I can to help make it a great place to live, work, raise a family, vacation and retire.

It’s been an honor and privilege to represent you on the County Legislature since 2010. During that time, I’ve worked hard to listen to your concerns and to be your voice at the County Office Building. I’ve also prioritized keeping taxes in check while ensuring that public services are provided as efficiently and effectively as possible.

I was also proud to play a small role in our large communitywide effort to win a $10 million State Grant for Watkins Glen in 2017. It is my hope that these economic development funds will be a catalyst for new growth and opportunities for Schuyler County residents for decades to come.

We’ve accomplished a lot, but there’s much more work to be done. I need your help so I can stay on the job working for the betterment of Schuyler County for another four years.

It would be an honor to continue serving as your County Legislator. I hope I can count on your support -- and your vote -- when you vote on Tuesday, November 6th.

Thank you for your consideration.

Philip Barnes
Schuyler County Legislator

Together, we can do more for Schuyler

To the Editor on Oct. 20:

My name is Brian Eslinger and I am running for the Schuyler County Legislature, representing Legislative District 6 (Dix 1&2, Reading 2). I am seeking your support and your vote on November 6th.

My partner David and I have owned the Blackberry Inn Bed & Breakfast on 6th Street since moving to the Village of Watkins Glen in 2012. We were immediately drawn to this charming and welcoming community and have been happy to make our home here.

I have a BA in Psychology from Ramapo College of New Jersey and have worked in Corporate America in the area of Marketing and Management for over 33 years. I have over 20 years in the Hospitality & Tourism industry and have spent the last 11 years in manufacturing as a Sales Director of New Product Development.

In my 33 years of working in the business community I have learned several key business principles that have contributed to my success:

--Do Your Homework -- Know the Facts
--Talk to People -- Get Everyone’s input
--Discuss & Evaluate
--Agree on a Common Vision and Direction
--Be Moral, Ethical and Balanced
--Execute for Success!

I believe if we apply these principles in evaluating local policies we, as a Legislative body, will do the right thing, at the right time, for the right reasons!

I hope to meet you at one of my planned events. These include house parties, town hall meetings and more casual “coffee with the candidate” events. Keep an eye on my Facebook campaign page “Brian Eslinger for County Legislature” and the local papers for more information and dates.

I want to know how you think your government should be run and what local issues are important to you. Together, we can do more for Schuyler County and we can become a more truly united community.

Thank you, and please reach out any time.

Brian Eslinger
Candidate for Schuyler County Legislature


Let's observe Red Ribbon Week

To the Editor on Oct. 20:

The Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking and Drugs (SCCUDD) invites the community to take a visible stand against drugs by celebrating Red Ribbon Week from October 23-31. Community members can take part in Red Ribbon Week by sharing drug prevention messaging on social media, by wearing red on October 29, or by using the week as an opportunity to talk to children and teens about the dangers of drug use.

Red Ribbon Week raises awareness of drug use and the problems related to drugs facing our community, and encourages parents, educators, business owners, and other community organizations to promote drug-free lifestyles. Additionally, research shows that children are less likely to use alcohol and other drugs when parents and other role models are clear and consistent in their opposition to drug use and the misuse of prescription drugs.

In 1985, Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent Enrique S. "Kiki" Camarena was killed by drug traffickers. Shortly after his death, citizens from his hometown of Calexico, California, began wearing red ribbons to remember him and commemorate his sacrifice. The first official Red Ribbon Week celebration was created by the National Family Partnership in 1988. NFP continues to coordinate the campaign for families, schools and communities across the nation each year. Since then, the red ribbon has symbolized a continuing commitment to reducing the demand for illicit drugs in our communities.

Visit GetSmartAboutDrugs.com for more information about Red Ribbon Week.

SCCUDD is a group of dedicated community members, businesses, and agencies that work to prevent, reduce, and delay the onset of substance use among Schuyler County youth by collaborating with our community partners, promoting prevention education and substance-free activities, and implementing environmental strategies. SCCUDD works to reduce youth use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs as they can cause lifelong problems. SCCUDD’s vision is a connected community where youth have education, resources, and drug-free options to help their journey to become happy, healthy adults.

For more information, or to become involved with SCCUDD, visit SCCUDD online at www.schuylercounty.us/sccudd, or follow SCCUDD on Facebook and Twitter.

Deborah Dalmat, MPH, CHES
Public Health Specialist
Schuyler County Public Health

Library stories, activities benefit children

To the Editor on Oct. 13:

Join Mrs. Armbruster and friends for a fun-filled story time! Children and caregivers meet every Wednesday morning from 10-11 a.m. for an hour of stories and themed activities at the Watkins Glen Public Library.

Children benefit from attending group story times. These are just a few of the benefits:

--Children watch others become engaged in a story time and learn from each other.
--They are exposed to a wide variety of authors and genres.
--They learn vital school readiness skills.
--This is a great time for parents to get to know one another in the community, and to help prepare young readers for school.

Come join the fun at the Watkins Glen Library!

--Watkins Glen Public Library

Adding more taxes does not help

To the Editor on Oct. 12:

Some facts Watkins Glen taxpayers might like to know:

--In 2017-2018, the taxpayers’ share of the Village budget increased by $125,097.63.

--In 2018-2019, the taxpayers’ share of the Village budget increased by only $31,202.08. Thanks to a job well done by our Village Government.

Figures provided by the Village Treasurer show why the taxpayers’ share did not increase as much in the 2019 Village Budget.

Village governments in New York State have a taxing limit set by law. This limit is determined by a State formula based on a Village’s property assessments. A tax limit is the amount a Village government can legally tax its Village property owners to offset spending in their annual budget.

The 2019 tax limit set by general municipal law for the Village of Watkins Glen was $1,313,635.00. This is the most that the Village could legally tax the Watkins Glen property owners for the 2019 budget.

The tax levy (taxpayers’ share) of the 2019 Village Budget was $1,311,413.71

Watkins Glen has reached 99.9% of its’ taxing limit set by law for the 2018-2019 budget. Which meant the Village is just $2,222.00 below its taxing limit.

This is an indicator that the Watkins Glen Village government has financial problems.

Those pushing for a BID District need to know the facts. The money the Bid District would raise by putting additional Village taxes on our small businesses has to be included in the Village tax limit.

A BID district would add to the financial problems the Village is facing. For example, the BID District intends to spend $55,000 the first year. The $55,000 has to be included in the 2019 Village tax limit. Since the Village has only $2,222.00 left to tax for 2019, it would have put the Village over its legal tax limit.

There are consequences when a Village exceeds its taxing limit. General municipal law says “The local government shall place the excess amount of the levy in reserve in accordance with such requirements as the state Comptroller may prescribe, and shall use such funds and any interest earned thereon to offset the tax levy for the next year.”

This would only increase the Village’s problems. Our Village has some big projects ahead. Our Village government does not need more financial stress from a BID district.

Our Governor has already allotted $16.2 million in projects to transform Watkins Glen, $9.7 million of it to go for the Watkins Glen Downtown Revitalization Initiative projects.

To Quote Governor Cuomo, “Watkins Glen is a New York treasure, featuring its beautiful state park, an internationally renowned race track and a vibrant downtown.” I agree with our Governor. Watkins Glen is great.

To those advocating a BID District; Village merchants can work proudly together. In 2005 a BID District was passed by the Village Government and 62% of the taxable property owners within the District requested in writing to our Village Government that the District be dissolved, and it was.

Adding more taxes on small businesses does not help.

Angie Franzese
A concerned Village Taxpayer
& Watkins Glen Business Owner since 1986

Village should continue BID process

To the Editor on Oct. 8:

In response to the letter by Paul Marcellus on the Business Improvement District (called BID) that is proposed for the business district mainly on Franklin Street.

The first thing I notice is he is taking the current path of the national Democratic Party to personally attack a Legislator, rather than stick to the facts. How sad this attitude has reached our Village. And I do say "our" village, as while I may not live within the Village limits, I do have a small business on Franklin Street, GRAFT Wine & Cider Bar, and I do care how our Village looks and is perceived by the visitors to our community.

Can one really question the success that Market Street has had on the nearby city of Corning? 100% of their success was started by the formation of their BID 20 years ago, now called The Gaffer District. Fully funded by the merchants and property owners in the district. I sincerely believe the remarkable achievements that Corning has accomplished can be duplicated here in Watkins. I ask that the Village continue with the BID process and work with the merchants making our downtown the showcase we deserve, showing all we are proud to work together.

Ted Marks

Space will be run by Nicholas Thayer

To the Editor on Oct. 4:

In “Planning Board OKs Franklin St. project,” the article states that the new space will house a coffee shop ran by Doug Thayer. I just wanted to clarify that the intentions of the space will be determined and run by Nicholas Thayer. It’s created some confusion and is in the very early stages as of now.

Jenna Letersky Thayer

BID benefits are of questionable value

To the Editor on Sept. 29:

All property owners on Franklin Street should be aware that the village has scheduled a public hearing for the Business Improvement District legislation, to be held proximal to this coming Monday's Board of Trustees regular meeting, 10/1/2018. The gist of the proposal is that property owners, of business property, will be assessed, with their annual Village taxes, up to an additional 20% annually. The benefits to be received in return are of questionable value.

I have pointed out to the Village offices that the enabling legislation requires notice by mail, to all included property owners. As of this writing I have received no such notice. Has anyone received such? They intend to contact the County Planner, who has been spearheading this effort for the special taxation district’s creation, to clarify if they have missed this step of proper notification of taxable parcel property owners.

It is ironic to me that the Republican majority within our elected County Legislature would allow the deployment of the County Planner, to work to create a special taxing district, and to do it on the backs of Main Street small business.

At the recent Village Board of Trustees meeting where the resolution for the BID district proposal was introduced, I hoped to delay its introduction and asked for just that. In hindsight, I would have hoped my District 6 Legislator and former County Republican Chairperson, who also was in attendance, would have weighed in on behalf of his constituent. Instead he chose to attempt, I think, to embarrass me, by stating that at my property he personally had cut the weed growth three or four times this summer. Well, I guess I finally found some use for my Legislator!

Paul Marcellus
Former Legislator
and downtown small business owner
since April of 1997

The Little Free Library -- a place to donate and find books at Catharine Park.

'Little Free Library' honors Seeley

To the Editor on Sept. 21:

A dedication was held Tuesday night in Catharine Park of the “Little Free Library” in honor of the late Bonnie Seeley.

The “Little Free Library” is stocked with children’s books. The children are encouraged to take a book to read and if they have books at home that they would like to donate, they are encouraged to place them in the library.

The “library” -- a hinged unit on a post and with two shelves -- is located by the playground in Catharine Park and is "open” during daylight hours.

One of Bonnie’s passions was to read, and this is a way for her family to continue her legacy. The event was attended by some of Bonnie’s family, including one of her sons, her sister, members of the Dutton Peterson Library board and the Town of Catharine Board.

Carmella Hoffman
Town Clerk
Town of Catharine

Seeking Distinguished Alum nominations

To the Editor on Sept. 19:

The Watkins Glen High School Alumni Association is seeking nominations for our Distinguished Alumni Award(s), which are given at the Annual Alumni Banquet held in June of each year. We appreciate receiving nominations as far in advance as possible, at least four or five months, but no later than May 1st. Criteria as follows:

1. Graduate of Watkins High School.
2. Graduated at least 15 years ago.
3. Demonstrated an outstanding and unique contribution or level of service to their community, profession, or other good cause, whether at the local, regional, national or
international level.
4. Have agreed to accept the honor in person along with the associated publicity.

Nomination forms can be found on our website -- watkinsglenalumni.org -- or from the Watkins High School Office, the Watkins Public Library or the Historical Society in Montour Falls.

Supply a written narrative that clearly outlines the qualities and achievements of the nominee, demonstrating effectively how the nominee is recognized as distinguished by peers and professionals, and/or community organizations pertinent to the field of distinguished achievements. Attach the narrative to the nomination form and mail to WGHS Alumni Association, 301 Twelfth St., Watkins Glen, NY 14891.

DISTINGUISHED: Separated From Others By Superior Or Extraordinary Qualities;
Eminent, Extraordinary, Noted, Famous, Celebrated.

Jo Pat Wright
Vice President
WGHS Alumni Association

Thanks for use of practice field

To the Editor on Sept. 14:

I wish to thank Mr. Keith Caslin on behalf of the Watkins Glen High School Modified Soccer teams for providing a field for us to practice on while the high school fields are under construction.

Ralph Diliberto
Modified Soccer Coach

Editor's Note: The athletic fields at WGHS are torn up as new turf is being installed. Practice fields there are not available. Mr. Caslin's property is directly across 12th Street from the school.

Rural library impact focus of research

To the Editor on Sept. 11:

The Institute of Museum and Library Services has awarded the Southern Tier Library System a grant of $333,176 to conduct extensive research on the impacts of library services in rural communities.

The Southern Tier Library System will partner with the Pioneer Library System and the Association for Rural and Small Libraries to investigate how public libraries sustain or improve service in resource-poor geographies. The project team will work with experts at Cornell University and the University of Arizona's Native Nations Institute to conduct a literature review, gather data, and perform field research.

Findings and products will be shared throughout the rural library community nationwide.

Erika Jenns
Engagement Consultant
Southern Tier Library System

Vote for Lausell in Sept. 13 primary

To the Editor on Sept. 11:

As a resident and property owner within the 58th Senate District, I urge all registered Democratic Voters to vote for Michael Lausell in the primary election on Thursday, September 13th. The 58th Senate District is one of New York’s largest geographical districts, and it encompasses much of the Finger Lakes region. We need someone who will represent the interests of families and businesses in the District, and Lausell is the best candidate for the job.

In working with him as we battled against irresponsible gas industry infrastructure in the heart of the Finger Lakes, Michael proved himself to be an ardent supporter of what was best for the character and safety of the region, and was not afraid to get in the trenches and fight alongside his neighbors until we prevailed.

As an attorney, volunteer first responder, farmer, and Schuyler County Legislator, Michael has the right experience and qualifications to best unseat incumbent O’Mara in the election. Now is the time to vote out career politicians tied to corporate donors and vote for representation that will benefit the environment, our health, and responsible economic development in the Finger Lakes.

In talking with Michael about his duty to serve the public, his abundant exuberance and dedication to this work are clear. I urge you to do whatever you can to help Michael win the primary on September 13th and go on to become our Senator this November.

Yvonne Taylor

Town seeking candidates for clerk

To the Editor on Sept. 7:

After 25+ years of service to the residents of the Town of Catharine I have decided that it's time to retire from my position as Clerk to be effective December 31, 2018. The Town of Catharine Board is seeking letters of interest from anyone in the town who might be interested in seeking the position of Town Clerk/Collector. It would be an appointed position for up to one year, and the successful candidate would be required to run for election in the November 2019 elections.

Letters of interest should be sent to the Town of Catharine, Attn: John VanSoest, 5182 Park Road, Odessa, NY 14869 or a candidate could attend a board meeting to indicate interest. (Board meetings are held the third Tuesdays of each month at 7:30 p.m.). Letters of interest should be received by the Town no later than September 30, 2018.

It's been a pleasure serving the people of the Town of Catharine. I'll miss everyone.

Carmella Hoffman

New-podium help sought for swim team

To the Editor on Sept. 3:

The parents of the Watkins Glen Swimmin' Wimmin' are looking for some help, not in the pool but out of the pool! The team is hosting a multi-school invitational, IACs, and Section IV Class A, B and C Championships this year. They need a new award podium fitting for such grand events!

Their current podium was made in the early '80's and is much too small for an 8-lane pool and multiple relay events. The new podium will safely and effectively showcase the swimmers for their achievements in all eight places.

The funds raised will be for the construction of the 8-place podium pictured below with each individual stand being 4' X 4'. This new podium will be 32' long and will have a ceremony backdrop curtain with a removable event designation on the front of the podium for pictures.

If you are a parent of a current or past Watkins Glen swimmer or a proud alumni swimmer who has spent endless hours at the pool and understand how important this is, we need your help!

The immeasurable amount of hard work and long hours that goes into achieving a place on the podium deserves a podium grand enough to honor that hard work. The current swim team and every swim team for years to come would be very grateful for your support!

Please help support our Swimmin' Wimmin and donate! Thank you!


Parents of
The Watkins Glen High School
Girls Varsity Swim Team

The Watkins Glen girls varsity swim team on its mile-long trek in Raquette Lake.

Thanks from the WGHS girls swim team

To the Editor on August 30:

We would like to express a huge thank-you to the community members and businesses for their generous donations and pledges for us to swim the lake -- an annual event altered this year by circumstance.

Some of the generous businesses include: Taylor Construction, Gizmo Mowing and More, Inner Peace Floats, Graft, TJ’s Bar and Grill, Village Marina Bar and Grill, Schamel Bros. Contracting, Keller Williams Realty, Wixson’s Heating and AC, SCT Computers, Jerlando’s, Art and Nancy’s, Fiber Arts in the Glen, Watkins Glen veterinary clinic, Breezy Hill Farm, Toni’s diner, and Watkins Supply.

We have to purchase our competition suits and caps from year to year, and this swim helps to take the burden off of our families. Also it provides us with much needed equipment to help us in our training. The flooding in the area this year made it unsafe for us to swim the Mighty Seneca, so we had to change our lake swim location for the first time in over 20 years. We took a three-day training trip to Raquette Lake in the Adirondacks, so Raquette Lake was our swim location this year.

We swam a mile in open water -- from the dock to the rock (as pictured) and back to the dock. It was a great trip and we were so glad we were able to complete our open water swim this year! We will never turn down a donation, so if you would like to, there is still time; just find your local swimmer. Again, thank you so much! Our community has been so generous to our program through the years, and continues to be!

The Watkins Glen High School
Girls Varsity Swim Team

Reproductive rights are at stake

To the Editor on August 30:

As the Senate confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh get underway it is important for all Americans to understand what is at stake. Kavanaugh has demonstrated his adherence to ultra-conservative views on social issues such as reproductive rights, workers rights and LGBTQ rights. His appointment to the Supreme Court would pose a real and immediate threat to the progress we have made in extending the promise of the American dream to all, as our founding fathers intended.

Although there are so many other reasons to oppose this nomination, my focus in this letter is on reproductive rights. This is the cause that is the nearest and dearest to my heart, a conviction based on firsthand experiences as a young woman in the sixties and seventies. I know how hard people, especially women, fought for these rights and what it would mean to lose them. Make no mistake: the conservative agenda is to strip women of their right to choose -- a right guaranteed by the Supreme Court over four decades ago. Polls consistently demonstrate that the majority of Americans support the decision in Roe v. Wade. With Kavanaugh tilting the balance of the Supreme Court it is very possible that this decision could be overturned. If that ultimate blow to women’s rights is averted by some chance, there are many other ways an ultra-conservative Supreme Court can chip away at reproductive rights by ruling in favor of laws designed to limit access to the full range of reproductive healthcare services.

I would urge everyone who supports reproductive rights for women to contact your senators today to state your opposition to Kavanaugh’s appointment.

Andrea Beesing

Flood victims should call 211 if in need

Aug. 26: To Seneca and Schuyler County residents affected by the recent flooding:

We are working to organize a long-term plan to address the needs of the affected residents of the two counties. Crews have been working long hours on the roads and lake to clear the debris. The public roads have mostly been cleared and are close to normal function.

However; many of the private roads and homes remain impassable and we would like to get an accurate accounting of how many homes are in need and the extent of the assistance needed. If you are in need, please call 211 and provide them with your name, an exact address, and a description of the assistance needed, ie: there are trees and debris in my driveway or yard.

Although this storm struck fast, the cleanup will take some time. We all need to work together to accomplish the goal of getting back to normal.

If you know a seasonal resident, please pass this information along to them.

We appreciate all of the efforts of the residents of Seneca and Schuyler counties and the emergency personnel and public works employees who were there during the storm and since.

Thank You.

Seneca and Schuyler County Emergency Management

BID will only hurt Watkins small business

To the Editor on August 20:

“I contend that for a Nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to pull himself up by the handle.” -- Winston Churchill

This applies equally to our Village.

Today, the 20th of August, our Village trustees intend to bring a resolution to begin the process of instituting a “Business Improvement District” or BID as it is known in short.
BIDs began in NYC and are not well suited to our upstate, seasonal economy. The State legislation authorizing special taxing districts stipulates that the limit at which a BID may tax is 20% of the current municipality tax. In this case, this means the taxes levied on Village residents by our Trustees and Mayor. What is important to realize is that once created, the BID will never go away. Automatic increases in the BID's wealth are built in by tying the levy to a business owner's real estate assessed value. As everyone is aware, assessments do nothing but go up.

The reason the 20% is so unfair is that in NYC there is business 24/7, while in Watkins Glen we have business April through October only. So the proposed levy to local shop owners is actually more like 40%. Building owners are allowed to pass the levy on to their tenants and will. The committee that is championing this new taxation has built in other inequities. The taxing district, though including nearly all of our Main Street within the village, omits the corporate entities at our southern entrance: Tops, CVS, Advance Auto and the lodging facility opposite.

My neighbor, the Alternative Health Care facility, is moving to Montour Falls. Look at the turnover among small business startups. Look at the many vacant storefronts! To those of you on the committee and to the Village Trustees, I hope someone is questioning the prudence of allowing such an initiative to go forward. Those of big money, and those of corporations, and those who own most of the downtown buildings are leading us astray.

This will only hurt the sole proprietor and other owner-operator businesses, of which there are few enough already!

Paul Marcellus
Watkins Glen

Thanks to Rick Curren for his generosity

To the Editor on August 19:

I would like to publicly acknowledge and thank Rick Curren, owner of Rick Curren Auto Sales in Horseheads, for his wonderful generosity in recently donating a car to an Iraq War Marine Corps Veteran. Lance Corporal Steve is currently working as Caretaker here at Connections Retreat Center while recovering from PTSD, and recently became a Certified New York State Welder through the Corning Community College Welding Program.

As Steve works hard to get his new career off the ground, I put out a call to the community for a vehicle that would help Steve get to and from work. Rick Curren answered the call with a sharp, reliable set of wheels that fit the bill perfectly. Not only did Rick donate the car, he had his service team fine-tooth-comb the vehicle and put over $1,000 in new parts and labor to insure maintenance-free driving. This was well above and beyond the call, and Steve and his wife are eternally grateful to Rick.

The vast majority of citizens understand and appreciate the sacrifice that servicemen and servicewomen make to keep us safe, and many of us do what we can to show our support. It takes a special person to display such a high level of generosity to show support -- and Rick Curren is one such person. Our entire region should be proud to call him both patriot and gentleman businessman. THANK YOU, RICK!!!

Rich Greenberger
Executive Director
Connections Retreat Center for People & Dogs
Burdett, NY

Update on ongoing flood cleanup work

To the Editor on August 18:

Here is some information about the flooding and ongoing work.

The County of Schuyler and Town of Hector have requested and received assistance from several New York State resources to include but not limited to New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, New York State Incident Management Team, Department of Environmental Conservation, New York State Park Police, New York State Police, Department of Transportation, and the Department of Corrections.

Those agencies have been clearing roads and removing debris from the roads and lake. The debris on the lake will be put onto barges and shipped out to be chipped and/or destroyed.

The boil water advisory for Hector municipal water has been lifted. The water is now safe to drink. This applies to Hector municipal water only.

If you live in Schuyler County and have not been visited by a government official for a damage assessment or if you’re not sure if any damage to your home has been assessed please contact Schuyler County Emergency Manager Bill Kennedy at 607-535-8200 or email at bkennedy@co.schuyler.ny.us. You can also contact Hector Town Supervisor Alvin White at 607-703-1372 or Hectorsupervisor@htva.net

If you have concerns about your insurance not covering all of the damage that the flooding caused, you can go to the Hector Town Hall on Saturday or Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The New York State Office of Financial Services will be on hand to assist.

Bill Kennedy
Schuyler County
Emergency Management/Fire Coordinator

Residents need to speak up about project

To the Editor on August 18:

Regarding the Ithaca Neighborhood and Watkins Glen Housing Authority proposed housing project on East Second Street in Watkins Glen:

As residents directly impacted by this proposed ambitious project, we sent a letter expressing our concerns to the Planning Board, the Mayor, and the Code Enforcement Officer of Watkins Glen prior to the Planning Board meeting of August 15, 2018. At that meeting, although Mr. Fazzary was not present, the board strongly indicated they were in favor of granting a waiver for parking (for 34 apartments, 64 spaces are needed plus 20 for the proposed day care) because “people can park on the street,” and, according to the Ithaca Neighborhood Housing representative, persons living in the apartments with an income of less than $50,000, which would be the majority, would not have more than one vehicle and public transportation is available. The latter is sorely lacking in Watkins Glen.The representative also pointed out that there are some unused spaces at Jefferson Village, but this violates the code by which Jefferson Village was built.

The issue of the three-story proposed building, which is in violation of current zoning laws allowing two stories, was not addressed. Our letter indicated our views that the project does not meet the needs of the community at the proposed site according to the 2016 business transition zoning laws. Services will be overloaded as well with a building of this magnitude.

Apparently there was a written response to the board by the involved parties about our concerns; however, this was not made public when requested. We were told at the meeting we could voice our opinions at the public hearing, but no one could tell us when that would be. We feel the decision will already have been made prior to the public hearing, so the point may be moot. Village officials seem to be providing a great deal of double-talk, and not for the greater good of the Village. Residents need to speak up and not wait until this project is approved and underway..

Jack and Jo Ann Considine
222 Third St.
Watkins Glen

Who will pay for the new fields' upkeep?

To the Editor on August 15:

The Town of Catharine Board applied for a $200,000 grant because they want to put in three soccer fields and two softball field on 10 acres in the park. They wanted and received letters of support, which included several from people who do not live or pay taxes in the town. My main question to the town board is this: Who will maintain all of this? Will it be the town, and at what expense to the taxpayers? Who will mow it, dispose of garbage, maintain bathrooms, maintain roads? How about parking, security, insurance, legal fees? How will large numbers of cars get down the narrow park road for the tournaments the Schuyler County Adult Softball League plans on having there? Will we as taxpayers be footing the bill when we cannot afford to fix our roads?

The town needs a new excavator because the old one is broken and we cannot afford to replace it. In the next five years the highway department is looking at needing a potential of $500,000 worth of equipment to just maintain our roads so they are safe to drive on. The town will need new plow trucks, but we have no money -- but we can spend frivolously on ball fields for the Schuyler County Adult Softball League? We are most likely looking at a tax raise coming up in order to maintain our roads. Why make the increase more by throwing in the costly maintenance of 10 acres of ball field? We have not been mowing the roadsides for road safety in the Town of Catharine all summer because we have no mower and cannot afford a new one. So how can we mow 10 acres of ball fields?

The town needs to focus on maintaining our roads and making sure the highway department has the funding to do so -- which right now it does not. We were lucky enough to get CHIPS money from the state for the town salt storage building and this year’s road maintenance, but that money may not last forever. Then the taxpayers will be paying more.

Sure, this grant is a lot of money and it seems like we are getting a lot for free, but it is just like a free puppy. We all know a free puppy is never free!

Jason Paulisczak

Tourney 'transcended a typical event'

To the Editor on August 13:

It is with great sadness that I read about the demise of the Michael Watson Wrestling Tournament, an enormously successful annual winter-season athletic activity in the Watkins Glen community. For more than two decades this event, formerly the Watkins Glen Invitational Wrestling Tournament, showcased the very top high school wrestlers from the Southern Tier and from around New York State in general, and even attracted out-of-state teams as well.

This tournament -- named for a long-time beloved Health Teacher and coach -- transcended a typical school event, becoming a true community celebration. Teams would arrive at Watkins Glen High School on Friday and remain through Sunday, filling local motels and spending time and resources at local restaurants as well. Veteran teachers will remember having their classrooms utilized as "Team Rooms" during those weekends, and hallways filled with athletes, coaches, parents and spectators.

Mike Watson came to the Watkins Glen High School in the mid-1980s as a Health Teacher. Prior to that he was a teacher and coach at Notre Dame High School in Elmira. Before his arrival in Watkins Glen, the wrestling team had experienced only three winning seasons from 1952-1984. Coach Jeff Wheeler (Varsity) and Coach Brian Gawne (JV) left a pretty strong core of athletes for Mike's first team in 1985-1986. During his coaching tenure (1985-2000) his wrestling teams compiled a record of 145-45-2 with undefeated seasons in 1990 and 1991.He coached seven Century Club champions -- wrestlers with 100 or more career victories -- and two New York State Champions (one at Watkins Glen -- Matt Marciniak -- and one at Notre Dame).

In addition to coaching wrestling, he also coached cross country, soccer and track. When it came to recruiting athletes, he was a true "Pied Piper" -- inspiring and motivating athletes to excel and to consistently do their best. I remember with fondness his publication called "Mat Chat" -- always delightful! And he was the best leader for "Simon Says" that Sports Day ever had!

The "Michael Watson Wrestling Tournament" may be on hiatus for a while, but I suspect interest in wrestling will return sometime in the near future -- and once again Mike Watson will be honored and remembered for his positive contributions to the history and tradition that is the Watkins Glen High School.

Brian J. O'Donnell
Watkins Glen High School Principal 1989-2003

Race crowd requires traffic adjustments

To the Editor on August 1:

On Sunday, August 5, 2018, we expect a large volume of traffic on County Route 16 because of the large influx of cars coming to the race circuit. As a result, it is necessary that we use County Route 16 as one-way traffic with three lanes of traffic going from State Route 414 to Gate 2 of the Race Track, and two lanes of traffic from Townsend Road to Kuhl Winner Way. There will still be one lane of traffic from Bronson Hill Road to Townsend Road.

This will start at around 6:00 a.m. and last until 3:00 p.m. At 9:00 a.m., Kuhl Winner Way will be a one-way road southbound from County Route 16 to Gate #5, and northbound from Bronson Hill Road to Gate #6. It was necessary to make this a part of our traffic pattern due to the growth of persons attending the event, as has been seen over the past several years.

If you are attending church services, shopping or going to Watkins Glen, and you live along this route, it is advisable if you live between C.R. 17 and Meads Hill Road, you travel west in the traffic to Meads Hill and go north to State Route 329 and into Watkins Glen or left on Meads Hill to Wedgewood Road to State Route 414. Then you can turn right for Corning or left to Watkins Glen or Montour Falls. Persons living between Meads Hill Road and the track are requested to get into traffic and go to Townsend and then take the Watkins-Townsend Road to Watkins Glen.

At approximately 4:00 p.m. on this Sunday afternoon, there will be only one-way traffic on County Route 16 with three lanes coming from the race track towards State Route 414 (traffic light) and then traffic will proceed two lanes down into the Village of Watkins Glen. This traffic is expected to last for more than 3 hours. There will also be one-way traffic, two lanes, going down Kuhl Winner Way from gate #6 to State Route 414. There will also be two lanes of traffic going from Gate #5 and #4 on Kuhl Winner Way to County Route 16. All traffic coming off from Kuhl Winner Way will be three lanes and diverted in Townsend to County Route 16, County Route 19 or the Watkins-Townsend Road, preferably through the State Park, to the Station Road and down into the Village through Steuben Street.

Plans are in place with Emergency Services to respond to emergencies during the egress period for the safety of the residents in that area. Sheriff's patrols also will be in the area should there be any problems.

We apologize for any inconvenience this traffic pattern may cause you, but it is necessary for us to move a large volume of traffic in the shortest period of time for the safety of everyone. Please remember that these times are approximate and can change due to weather. Traffic patterns on Monday will be normal, but there will be a large volume of traffic leaving the race track that day also, so delays will occur.

If you have any problems, please call me at 535-8222.

William E. Yessman Jr.
Schuyler County Sheriff

Raising funds for the Reeve Foundation

To the Editor on July 27:

Hello Everyone!

On October 7th this year, just over two months from now, I’ll be running my second marathon in Chicago as a member of Team Reeve which raises money for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. Having suffered from an incomplete spinal cord injury in 2007, I’ve experienced first-hand the critical and immediate impact that organizations like the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation can have on individuals and families navigating paralysis and the mental and physical rehabilitation associated.

Considering the amazing chance I was given to not just walk again, but to run in races like the Chicago Marathon, I feel a sense of duty to help raise awareness and funds for the organization that proved so instrumental during my spinal cord injury recovery. I’ve included a link below to my fundraising page which includes a bit more detail specific to my connection to the Reeve Foundation.

The Schuyler County community was incredibly supportive after my accident and has continued to be an incredible support network over the last 11 years. My goal is to raise $10,000 and I thank you for any bit of support possible. I am only one person and one story, but as Christopher Reeve once said, “We can accomplish so much more when we work together.”


Donations are 100% tax deductible. Thank you!

Jeff Kellogg

Kudos on the heated sidewalks idea

To the Editor on July 25:

Watkins Glen's growing ability to innovate was clearly demonstrated recently by its support for a grant proposal for heated sidewalks.

If the idea works out, it will likely mean less ice, result in fewer falls on sidewalks and cut down on the use of salt that bedevils all our vehicles.

Kudos to the Village Board for signing on to this possibility.

Michael J. Fitzgerald

Let's show support for Alumni Banquet

To the Editor on July 25:

I had the occasion today to read Jo Pat Wright's letter to the Forum regarding the Watkins Glen High School Alumni Association. My husband and I were board members at the time the Association was incorporated and received its 501 (c) 3 charitable status.

From inception the awarding of scholarships, giving recognition to distinguished alumni and lending guidance in order to sustain the Alumni Banquet were guiding forces. I wholeheartedly support her request and would ask any and all graduates of Watkins Glen High School to join the Association or, alternatively, send a check payable to the WGHS Alumni Assoc. Scholarship Fund (tax deductible) to support its efforts in that regard. The address: 301 12th St., Watkins Glen, NY 14891.

My husband and I graduated from Watkins Glen High School in the early 1960s. As seniors the Alumni Banquet was part of our graduation activities; juniors served at the banquet. Each graduating class hosts the 25-year banquet. I do not know when the School Board, in its wisdom, removed those attendance practices. However, it has been long enough that graduates are not even aware the banquet exists. That's a sad testament to what is a unique event, having been in existence for 92 years. The 93rd Banquet will be June 22, 2019.

Although I'm no longer a Watkins Glen resident, I urge the School Board to reconsider and again incorporate banquet attendance into its graduation practices. I do not know how students now accumulate credits for special events, or if they even do. In days gone by our major fundraiser was the sale of Race Programs. If there are any faculty members or students interested in reviving support for banquet participation, I believe it would be a project well worth pursuing with the School Board. I, too, hope WGHS graduates will make an effort to support the Association's endeavors. Its website contains substantial public information as well as various application materials

Thank you for your time in reading this. I hope it generates some positive action.

Mary (Ray) King
Class of 1963

Heated sidewalks idea is ridiculous

To the Editor on July 19:

I have read that in this week's Watkins Glen Village Board meeting the board approved an effort by SCOPED to try to secure a "grant" for up to $25 million for heated sidewalks in the village. This is possibly the most ridiculous waste of taxpayer money I have ever heard of. Anyone who can possibly think this is a good idea must think "grant money" grows on trees. I know I will hear that this will not cost "local" taxpayers anything, but where does this money come from?

It comes from other taxpayers across the U.S. Would you want your money to go to Flagstaff, AZ for a similar program?

I sure wouldn't.

Next is the future cost of maintaining and heating this addition to our community. According to the article, "Heating could be done through the use of treatment plant effluent, or through 'deep earth source heat,' geothermal in nature and under study at Cornell University."

What the heck is that? I am pretty sure it would be done by increasing village taxes or increasing our utility bills.

I hope this idea is shelved. We do not need to apply for a $25 million "grant" just because we can.

Skip Ferris
Watkins Glen

Alumni Association seeks members

To the Editor on July 16:

Twelve years ago the Watkins Glen High School Alumni Association was formally incorporated. Its mission: to provide scholarships to graduating students, to honor Distinguished Alumni and to support the continuance of the annual Alumni Banquet. This year we awarded a total of $6,000 to five graduating seniors (a total of $53,300 to date), honored our 16th Distinguished Alumnus and oversaw an Alumni Banquet that included 240 attendees who had a great meal, a good time and enjoyed the opportunity to reconnect with former classmates and teachers!

We are proud of our accomplishments. However, none of it could have occurred without the help and financial support of previous graduates of Watkins High.

The membership of the Association is crucial to what we do. At this time we have 196 paid members. We hope to bring that number to 250 at least. The annual dues is $25 and used almost exclusively for scholarships. (The Alumni Banquet is paid for completely by the Banquet admission price.) The Association Board consists of volunteers and we keep operational costs to a minimum!

Please go to our website -- watkinsglenalumni.org -- to find a membership application form, or simply send a check for $25 to WG Alumni Assoc., 301 12th St., Watkins Glen, NY 14891 with a note that it is for membership and please note your class graduation year.

While on the website, browse through the photos and info on our yearly scholarship recipients. They have made us all proud. Then allow yourself to be amazed while browsing through the outstanding accomplishments of our 16 Distinguished Alumni.

We think you will be pleased, either as Watkins Alumni or simply as community residents, to see what your Watkins Glen High School Alumni Association stands for.

Please join us in our efforts. Become a member. Join now.

Jo Pat Wright
Vice President
WGHS Alumni Association

Tobacco-free outdoors has many benefits

To the Editor on July 15:

Summertime brings about smiling happy faces on children and adults in the outdoors. The outdoors has a lot to offer for people during this time in Western NY. Let’s not have it ruined by exposure to someone else’s secondhand cigarette smoke. Implementing policies regarding a tobacco-free outdoors is growing within Western NY as about 280 municipalities have adopted policies that restrict the use of tobacco in outdoor settings.

There are many benefits to restricting tobacco use in the outdoors. Some of these benefits are the health and well-being of our children and pets, as secondhand smoke is a proven carcinogen; the elimination of cigarette butts decreases the amount of litter (as the most common form of litter is cigarette butts); cigarette filters are not 100% biodegradable and can release toxic chemicals into the ground and our water. We are all aware that smoking adversely affects young lungs, healthy lungs, and can also trigger asthma attacks or breathing difficulties in people who aren’t even smoking.

So, please, think about the benefits of a tobacco-free outdoors as I believe it can benefit everyone. I urge our local government and our community members to stand behind this. I also encourage businesses to develop and implement policies that will help keep our environment clean and healthy.

Stephanie Wilcox
Prevention Educator
Steuben Council on Addictions

Letters of support requested

To the Editor on June 28:

Can you put out a request for letters of support from the public for our proposed new Recreation area at the Town of Catharine Park? We are applying for a grant to turn a 10-acre field into Softball/Baseball fields and three soccer fields. This will allow adults and youth the opportunity to get some recreational time out in the open!

There will also be a walking path around the field, allowing for a 1/4-mile walk. Letters are needed no later than July 15th so that they can be included in the application! This is an improvement of over $200,000 to Catharine Park, and we are excited to be afforded this opportunity to apply.

Letters can be sent to Catharineclerk@gmail.com.

Thanks so much!!

The Town of Catharine

Let's raise a glass of milk ...

To the Editor on June 14:

Let’s raise a glass of milk for June Dairy Month. It is a time to recognize not only the many delicious products that we enjoy but also the hardworking farm families who put the food on our tables.

It is no secret that it is a tough time right now for dairy farmers. We are in our fourth year of depressed milk prices and it is a real struggle for many to stay in business. The cost of production is often more than what comes in the monthly milk check. While it may not seem like a time to celebrate, it is more of a reason to drink another glass of milk or add another scoop of ice cream to your cone. Let’s support New York dairy products and in turn support our local farmers.

There are many choices in the grocery stores these days, but you can rest assured that when you choose dairy you will receive the same nine essential nutrients, including calcium, vitamin D, potassium, protein, vitamin B12 and vitamin A. It comes from more than 4,600 New York family farms whose passion is caring for their cows and farmland to produce the highest quality products.

Dairy farming is engrained in New York’s agricultural heritage. Most families have been in business for multiple generations and are integral to the rural economy that they support. Schuyler County Farm Bureau thanks each one of them for all that they do this month and all year rounds.

Nicole Rawleigh, President
Schuyler County Farm Bureau

STTAC is a valuable resource

To the Editor on May 31:

Over the last decade there has been a significant change in New Yorkers’ expectations regarding exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke. We are no longer exposed to tobacco smoke where we work, eat and shop. What about where we live? Living in a smoke-free home is a choice everyone should have.

New Yorkers are well aware that living in a smoke-free home is one of the best things they can do for their family’s health and to protect their property; the vast majority do not allow smoking in the home. Unfortunately, for residents of apartments and other multi-unit housing, the decision to have a smoke-free home is not theirs alone. For many people living in multi-unit housing complexes, breathing second-hand smoke from neighboring apartments has become a real health problem.

In addition to the obvious health benefits of reducing exposure to second-hand smoke, smoke-free housing can be a good business decision for complex owners and managers. According to a community survey of property owners in six upstate NY counties, 97% of landlords who have a no-smoking policy are satisfied with their decision. It’s clear why. No-smoking policies attract tenants, minimize maintenance costs, reduce fire risks and decrease the potential for legal liability due to non-smoking tenants’ exposure to secondhand smoke.

The Southern Tier Tobacco Awareness Coalition (STTAC) is a valuable resource for tenants and apartment managers. STTAC can provide consultation and policy development services and signage free of charge. They can be reached at 607-737-2858 or sarahrobbins@co.chemung.ny.us.

Gretchen Silliman
Community Educator, Schuyler County
Council on Alcoholism & Addictions
STTAC member

BBQ to help Swim Program a success

To the Editor on May 11:

The Chicken Barbecue held on May 5 to benefit the Summer Swim Program was a huge success, thanks to so many local groups and businesses! The Watkins-Montour Lions Club organized the event, which was held with the very generous cooperation of the Moose Club in Montour Falls. Lions assisted in preparation and serving the food, as well as ticket pre-sales. Our special touch is an ice cream cone dessert with cone coupons provided by Glen Dairy Bar, The Great Escape, Ben & Jerry’s and The Colonial Creamery.

Raffles were organized by Lions with amazing donations from community businesses: Atlas Brick Oven Pizza, Atwater Estate Vineyards, Burger King, Chateau Lafayette Reneau Vineyards, Classic Chef’s, Classic Cuts Barber Shop, Dunkin’ Donuts, Famous Brands, Finger Lakes Distillery, Glen Mountain Market, Glen Theater, Harbor Hotel, J.R.Dill Winery, Jerlando’s Pizza Co., Montour Falls, Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards, Lakewood Vineyards, Men’s Wearhouse, Montour Falls Moose Club, New Image Hair Network, O’Shaughnessy Antiques, Pizza Hut, Rooster Fish Brewing, Scale House Brewing, Seneca Lodge, Seneca Sunrise Coffee, Stillman’s Greenhouses, Tops Markets, Wal-Mart, Watkins Glen Promotions, Watkins Glen Supply, and Watkins Glen Wine and Spirits.

We hope that you will patronize these sponsors who have given so very generously to support the Watkins-Montour Lion’s Club $2,000 grant to the Summer Swim Program. We are so fortunate to live in a community in which so many people worked, gave, or simply bought dinners to help our children participate in affordable swim lessons.

Kate LaMoreaux
Summer Swim Program Diector

Golf tourney helps give kids 2nd chance

To the Editor on May 10:

CASA of the Southern Tier, Inc. is a non-profit organization that advocates for abused and neglected children in Family Court in Chemung, Schuyler and Steuben Counties.

Have you ever wanted to do something special for a child? Well, here is your chance to give back to the children in our community and enjoy a great day out with friends and family.

CASA of the Southern Tier, Inc. will be holding our CASA Golf Classic at Mark Twain Golf Course on June 9, 2018.

Shotgun start at 8:30.

Cost per golfer is $80 which includes holes, cart, snack, lunch and prizes.

Please join us. Registration is available at http://www.casasoutherntier.org/lets-golf

Hope you will join us in giving children a second chance for a positive future.

CASA of the Southern Tier

Support Tobacco 21 in Schuyler County

To the Editor on April 19:

I am a parent who wishes to raise her child to be free of addictions, which includes one of the most often abused substances among Schuyler County youth: tobacco.

The research surrounding what age it is safe to sell tobacco to the community is clear. Ninety-five percent of adult smokers start smoking before the age of 21, and 95% of people who buy cigarettes to give to minors are under the age of 21. We also know that exposure to nicotine earlier in life, while the brain is still developing, results in a stronger level of addiction and makes it much more difficult to quit. Raising the legal purchase age of tobacco from 18 to 21 would reduce tobacco use in teens, would delay the onset of tobacco use, and greatly curtail subsequent addiction to it.

Opponents claim that if you can enlist in the military, you should be able to buy cigarettes. The Department of Defense does not see it that way: Tobacco use not only gravely compromises military readiness, it is costing taxpayers over one billion dollars each year on tobacco-related medical care, increased hospitalizations and lost days of work for active duty military and veterans.

Opponents will also claim that people have the "right" to make their own bad choices. However, can any of us say that powerful tobacco companies marketing their products in the forms of flavorful e-cigarettes or candy-colored computer chargeable cartridges are “right”?

I’m with the 71.9% of Schuyler County residents who are in favor of a policy that would raise the legal purchase-age of tobacco products to 21 in our county. I’m with many of our residents who want to protect our children from the ravages of tobacco addiction. In passing a local Tobacco-21 Law, Schuyler County would join the other 13 New York counties, New York City, five states, and hundreds of other cities and municipalities across the country that have raised the legal purchase age of tobacco to 21. It is my sincere hope that Schuyler County chooses to be on the cutting edge of combatting this deadly addiction.

Please support the Tobacco 21 initiative by signing our online petition available at http://www.schuylercounty.us/923/Tobacco-Policies.

We need petitions and letters of support signed by June 30, 2018.

Thank you for supporting a healthy community.

Elizabeth Henry
Public Health Specialist
Schuyler County Public Health
Southern Tier Tobacco Awareness Coalition Member

Memorial planned to honor Sue Brill

To the Editor on April 6:

A Memorial to honor and celebrate the life of Sue Brill will be held at the Watkins Glen Performing Arts Center @ Middle School Apartments on Saturday, May 5th at 12 Noon.

All are invited to come together to share memories and tributes. Those wishing to assist with the memorial planning, or through contributions of time or resources, are invited to attend the memorial planning meeting on April 16th at noon at the Human Services Complex Building, 323 Owego St, Montour Fallsin conference room 115 or to contact the planning committee at celebrateforsue@gmail.com.

Jamie Thompson

Volunteers needed for emergency drill

To the Editor on April 5:

Schuyler County Public Health needs your help to make sure the community is prepared for public health emergencies! The Department is conducting a drill on April 10 from 10 a.m. to Noon at the Human Services Complex in Montour Falls. Volunteers from the community are needed to act as patients.

This drill will help the community prepare for public health emergencies that could happen in the County by allowing the Department and the community to practice how medications would be dispensed in the case of an emergency such as an outbreak of hepatitis A, anthrax, pandemic flu, smallpox, or a bioterrorism event.

“By doing this drill, we can be better prepared in the event something like this occurred,” Schuyler County Public Health Director Marcia Kasprzyk said. “In order for this drill to be successful, we really need the community’s help.”

Further information and pre-registration for volunteer patients will become available as the date of the drill approaches. Stay tuned to the Department’s website and social media for updates.

Schuyler County Public Health's mission is to protect and empower the community to be safe, healthy and prepared. Schuyler County Public Health’s vision is a connected community of healthy people and safe places.

For more information, visit Schuyler County Public Health online at www.schuylercounty.us/publichealth or follow Schuyler County Public Health on Facebook and Twitter.

Schuyler County Public Health

Rec areas should be off-limits to smoking

To the Editor on March 30:

Soon the weather will begin to get warmer and people will start spending more time outside enjoying time at parks with their families and, hopefully, breathing in the fresh air. That is as long as families are not being exposed to secondhand smoke.

We need to keep smoking in public places away from where children play. According to the American Cancer Society, “Secondhand smoke can trigger asthma attacks, make asthma symptoms worse, and even cause new cases of asthma in kids who didn’t have symptoms before.” This is why it is so important to prevent people from smoking in public places such as parks, playgrounds, and other recreation areas.

In addition to the dangers of secondhand smoke, smoking in recreation areas usually means an increase in the number-one littered item, cigarette butts. Littered cigarette butts are more than just unsightly, they can be consumed by animals, they are bad for the environment, and they can be a choking hazard for small children.

If we enact more public policies that prevent people from smoking in recreation areas, we help protect our community and our families. For more information on tobacco-free outdoor recreation areas, you can visit www.sttac.org.

Barbara Van Dine

Opportunity Zone designation could be
a game-changer for Schuyler County

To the Editor on March 20:

As part of the 2017 Tax Act, the federal government authorized the creation of federally designated Opportunity Zones. To qualify as an Opportunity Zone, an areas must demonstrate high poverty rates and slow economic growth. The Opportunity Zone must also be ready for success if investment is made available.

Several areas within Schuyler County qualify as Opportunity Zones. This designation can provide for additional investment. We are ready for success! In Schuyler County, there are two census tracks that meet the poverty level qualifications. They are Tract 9503, which is comprised of the towns of Orange and Tyrone, as well as Tract 9505, which includes the towns of Catharine, Cayuta and Montour and the Villages of Montour Falls and Odessa.

Although two census tracts in Schuyler County meet the qualifications of an Opportunity Zone, it must still be recommended by the State of New York to the federal government in order to receive designation. We need to let the state know that Schuyler County is ready for growth and needs the opportunity!

The State of New York has put up a webpage to gather citizens' recommendations. We need every citizen, business owner, employee, and anyone else who loves and believes in Schuyler County to let their voices be heard. Please go to the following address and record your support: https://esd.ny.gov/opportunity-zones

Together, we can give Schuyler County, its towns and villages, and most importantly its citizens the opportunity they need and are ready for! But we must act now! The deadline for your voice to be heard is this Friday, March 23.

The Schuyler County Partnership
for Economic Development

LCP plans auditions for youths 7 to 18

To the Editor on March 18:

The Lake Country Players would like to invite all youth ages 7-18 to audition to participate in their June 15-17 production of Disney's Peter Pan, directed by Kelsey Johnson and Kim Laursen.

Auditions will be held on Tuesday, March 27 and Thursday, March 29 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Watkins Glen High School Auditorium. There will also be Saturday morning auditions March 31 from 10 a.m. to noon.

If you've never auditioned before, it's really quite easy. When you arrive you will fill out some paperwork, then we'll teach you a song to sing with a large group. If you want to sing alone to audition for roles like Peter, Wendy, Captain Hook, etc., you will have the chance to do so. Then you will be asked to read some lines from the play to show us your acting ability. Parents/guardians are welcome to stay during the process.

If you need more information, please feel free to call me at 607-594-6565.

Thank you very much!

Kim Laursen
Lake Country Players

Women's Day of Prayer vigil planned

To the Editor on March 6:

To commemorate the International Women’s Day of Prayer, women and teens are invited to St. Paul’s Parish House, 108 S. Genesee St,, Montour Falls on Saturday, March 10 at 11 a.m.

After a brief program and international lunch, all are invited to a Candlelight Vigil at 1 p.m. at the base of beautiful Shequagah Falls, where participants will prayerfully consider the violence which is threatening children in schools, as well as women and children in their homes and communities.

“Recognizing that prayer and action go hand-in-hand, women know joint prayer can be effective, so we will ask participants to consider how they can best affect their communities and their homes to reduce the violence that threatens our children,” said event organizer Kate LaMoreaux.

Says Reverend Abidhananthar John (Father Abi) of St. James’ Episcopal Church of Watkins Glen and St. John’s Episcopal Church of Catharine: “I invite our women to show our solidarity with the victims of the Florida incident and urge them to pass the message of Christ to construct a nation with peace and justice webbed with love ... We invite all children, women and all friends to join the vigil to show our solidarity with life.”

Please RSVP if you would like to participate in lunch: kalamoreaux@gmail.com or abi74john@gmail.com or 929-264-1990. You are welcome to attend any part of this program.

Women's Day of Prayer Organizers

I hope their voices have been heard

To the Editor on Feb. 28:

I just finished reading the article regarding SCOPED’s annual meeting held on February 27th, and I was pleasantly surprised -- no, I was actually excited -- by the input from the WGHS students invited to take part in this meeting, specifically Kai Sutterby and Isabella Fazzary.

Thank you for expressing what many who live in our beautiful area have been saying for years. Tourism cannot and will not sustain growth. I am all for young people heading out to the great beyond after they complete whatever schooling as it makes them appreciate our unique area even more (I took this path), but when making the decision to return home, be prepared to commute 20-30 miles in order to be able to afford a home or a decent car, even year-round employment.

It’s not all bad. There are certainly more employment opportunities for high schoolers in town than when I was their age, the town has cleaned up real well, and of course the summers are great. I kind of like the quietness of winter as well. But the students hit the nail right on the head, and I hope their voices have been heard.

Patti Schimizzi

Thanks from the Seneca Santa program

To the Editor on Feb. 19:

A wonderfully supportive community made it possible for Seneca Santa to provide a Christmas for 286 children from 123 families in 2017. It takes teamwork, coordination, lots of manpower hours, and determination.

Thanks go to the Watkins Glen Presbyterian Church that allows us to use its facility. Thanks also to the following for planning fund-raisers and accepting toys for the program: Dollar General (Kathy), Country Haven Treasures (Kim), Dutton S. Peterson Memorial Library, Sal's (Antonella Purpura), Schuyler County Highway Superintendent's Association (Randy Rappleye), Advanced Family Chiropractic.

Students from the Watkins Glen High School are greatly appreciated for unloading the truck and stacking boxes. Mary Coykendall and her Girl Scouts wrap and label presents. Student athletes form a chain the night we bag. Frank Dudgeon donates his services. Brandon VanHorn and the Glen Dairy Bar donate to the gift package. Bill & Jen from Emergency Management and volunteer firemen and women deliver the gifts on Christmas Eve.

Special thanks to Linda Page, who donated fabric purchased by her mother Nancy Lee to be used for quilts/blankets. Rebecca Gilfus, Grade 8 Home & Careers teacher at WGCS, and Melissa Schroeder, Youth and Family Program Director for Cornell Cooperative Extension Schuyler County, completed the project.

Grist Iron Brewing Company and Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards combined their talents for the 21st annual fund-raiser for Seneca Santa. They solicit donations and provide a forum for folks to get together for a great time while raising money for a great program. We can't thank them enough.

Many churches, civic groups, and individuals have donated hat/mitten trees, knitted and/or crocheted beautiful sets and collected books, toys, and other miscellaneous items. The ever faithful volunteers who man and coordinate their individual stations and those who show up the night we bag are, indeed, priceless.

All of the above and many more take time out of their busy schedules to make sure the children of Schuyler County are taken care of. A simple "thank you" never seems like enough, but it truly says it all. So on behalf of the hundreds of children who benefit from this wonderful longstanding Schuyler County tradition ... THANK YOU.

Peggy Scott
Seneca Santa

STEM Group seeking donations to help finance 4 O-M students' trip to Forum

To the Editor on Feb. 4:

STEM Group, a Not-for-Profit, was created to provide funding for four eighth grade students of Odessa-Montour Jr./Sr. High School who have been accepted to attend the National Youth Leadership Forum: Explore STEM. The purpose of the Forum is to develop the skills of the next generation of leaders in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

Explore STEM is an Envision program for high-achieving middle school students. These students were nominated by local teachers and staff. They were selected based upon their abilities to maintain high grades, show interest in STEM subjects, and demonstrate a high level of maturity and responsibility. This forum will provide these students with opportunities to develop critical thinking skills used in emergency medicine, robotics, forensic science, and civil engineering. A Mission to Mars project is planned to challenge their knowledge of STEM skills and ability to work as a team, while being mentored by professionals from NASA and Discovery Education.

STEM Group is seeking contributions from local businesses, individuals, and agencies for assistance in paying the required tuition of $2,500 per student and related expenses. The tuition covers room and board at Villanova University campus during the week of June 24, 2018. The tuition does not cover any other costs or fees such as transportation or clothing as per dress code. Any funds contributed are placed in an account which has oversight to ensure that the funds are used only for the required tuition and expenses of the four students.

The students who have been nominated and accepted are: Mackenzie Cannon, Gabriel Grover, Madison Moss, and Aidan Thurston.

Successful completion of the Forum guarantees the students future educational opportunities that are not typically available in our area. Each student will take away individual benefits from the Forum that will have a lifelong effect on them and the communities that they live in. Each of the four students has leadership abilities and contributions they have already made to our community.

Contributions are payable to STEM Group and can be mailed to: STEM Group, P.O. Box 741, Montour Falls, NY 14865. The tax ID number is available upon request. Any amount of contribution will be greatly appreciated by the students and their families.

STEM Group

Robotics teams place 3rd and 4th

To the Editor on January 13:

I'm very excited to share that two robotic teams from Schuyler County placed 3rd and 4th in the recent Corning Inc. Qualifier Tournament. This is major kudos for the teams and Schuyler County too! If inspired to do so, kindly send a note to our volunteer coaches who have given hours upon hours to mentoring our youth. Plus the teams are available to show you our robots in action. Sponsorships are welcome. Contact Karen at 535-6686 for more information.

A bit about FIRST Robotics: It’s way more than building robots. FIRST Tech Challenge teams (10+ members, grades 7-12) are challenged to design, build, program, and operate robots to compete in a head-to-head challenge in an alliance format. Participants call it “the hardest fun you’ll ever have!”

Guided by adult Coaches and Mentors, students develop STEM skills and practice engineering principles (like keeping an engineering notebook), while realizing the value of hard work, innovation, and sharing ideas. Teams also must raise funds, design and market their team brand, and do community outreach for which they can win awards. Participants have access to tens of millions of dollars in college scholarships. For more information about FIRST Robotics, visit https://www.firstinspires.org/robotics/ftc

Both teams -- Mechanical Meltdown and Deus Ex Machina -- are invited to the SUNY Polytechnic Championship this Sunday in Utica. Wish us luck!

Karen Castor-Stewart

Addendum on Jan. 16: We would like the county to know that their local robotics team is advancing to the FIRST East Super Regional Championship Tournament for the first time ever! Here are a few accolades from their appearance at the SUNY Polytechnic Championship in Utica:

--Second Place Solo Competition
--First Place Alliance Competition
--2nd place winner of the Inspire Award 
--Won the Think Award 
--2nd place for the Control Award
--3rd place for the Innovate Award.

Karen Castor-Stewart

Tickets at school issued for public safety

To the Editor on January 10:

In response to the citizen who attended a School Board meeting to address concerns about being issued a parking ticket while attending an event at the Watkins Glen High School, the Watkins Glen Police Department would like to issue the following:

Parking tickets are issued for the purpose of public safety. We ask that people attending events at the school please adhere to all no-parking and handicap-parking signs. These signs are in place for the safety and security of all people in attendance and are in place in case of emergencies and to allow access in case of emergency. The Police Department has the full support of the Watkins Glen Fire Department in this effort. There are plenty of clearly marked legal parking places in the school lot, and in case overflow parking is needed, the Schuyler Arc has opened its lot to allow parking. Access to that lot is clearly marked.

We encourage the community to support all events that occur at the Field House and school, but we also ask that when attending that they adhere to the parking signs and park their vehicles in clearly marked legal parking spaces for the safety and security of all in attendance.

If anyone has any concerns, you may contact me at my office anytime so that they can be addressed.

Sgt. Steven Decker
Watkins Glen Police Department

Thanks to the Cargill Cares Committee

To the Editor on January 5:

I am writing to publicly thank the Cargill Cares Committee for its generosity to the families at Schuyler Head Start during this past holiday time.

Cargill Cares donated several hams and turkeys for Thanksgiving and Christmas and "adopted" 4 families at Christmas who would have been unable to provide for their children.

Cargill Cares takes the concept of "it takes a village to raise a child" and makes it a reality. Thank you for your support. It was our great pleasure to be able to see the joy and delight in the family faces when we presented them with your gifts.

Michele Gimbar
Schuyler Head Start Director

Halpin: It's been a rewarding experience

To the Editor on January 2:

A Note To My Constituents:

After eight years I have retired from the legislature, again. I have greatly enjoyed the opportunity of serving the people of Schuyler County and appreciate all your support.

I thank the voters of District I (both old and new) for supporting my candidacy for the legislature, an experience that has been very rewarding for me. I wish everyone a happy and healthy 2018!

Barbara Halpin

County takes action to help deliver property tax deductibility to taxpayers

To the Editor on December 27:

The following was issued by Schuyler County Administrator Tim O'Hearn.

Schuyler County officials are working to help property owners who itemize their deductions pre-pay their 2018 property taxes in the hope residents can receive benefits before restrictions take effect under the new federal tax law.

Late last week (December 22), New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an Executive Order relative to tax payments made in 2017 for 2018 tax bills. According to state officials, the order authorizes local governments to immediately issue tax warrants for the collection of 2018 property tax payments and allows property owners to pay their tax bill before the end of the year and under the current tax rules.

In consideration of this news, and to allow Schuyler County taxpayers the chance to take advantage of potential future tax benefits, Dennis Fagan, the Chairman of the Schuyler County Legislature, will be signing the warrant this year effective Thursday, December 28. Each town tax collector is now authorized to accept payments of warranted taxes from property owners until the close of business on Friday, December 29, 2017.

This would be in the hopes, pending IRS determinations, that such pre-payment would be allowable as a deduction in tax year 2017 as there are impending restrictions on property tax deductions in the new Federal tax bill for those who itemize their deductions. Town/county tax bills are released by the County to the collectors (town level) officially via a tax warrant. By present law, this can be done on any date post-budget adoption up to and including the 31st of December.

Property owners are required to pay their property taxes at the town level through Town Tax Collectors. The County only accepts payments after April 15. County landowners should contact their Town Tax Collector to determine if taxes can be paid on December 29 (Friday) in person. If they contact their Tax Collector or the County Real Property Office (535-8118) to obtain the proper amount due, taxpayers can also postmark payments up until December 30th if they are seeking pre-payment benefit.

In summary:
--The warrant date determines when people can base a payment of a legal amount due;
--Your Town Tax Collector is the responsible party for tax collection;
--The County, via the Towns, is positioned to allow people to make 2018 payments for Town/County taxes due in calendar year 2017 and these payments must be made to the local Town Tax Collector.

It should be noted that any commentary here should not be construed as legal or tax accounting advice. Additionally, the above process is only applicable to 2018 Town/County tax bills and not Village or School tax bills.

Tim O'Hearn
Schuyler County Administrator

Harp: Every vote certainly does count

To the Editor on November 26:

I want to personally thank everyone who voted for me and elected me by the one-vote margin Nov. 7th, to include those "crossing over the aisle" from other parties.

I am humbled so many voters placed their trust in me for four more years, particularly given the voters' choice of two competing candidates as well. I appreciate, and respect very much, the efforts of my opponents, which do illustrate the fact that "every vote certainly does count!"

As I promised all voters I spoke with during my campaign, I will do my very best representing each and every voter in Hector District 2, as well as the best interests of Schuyler. I am very committed to this promise in order to both continue the hard work, and honor the legacy of those in Schuyler County before me, who made this such a tremendous place to live.

I am able to make this commitment in view of the experiences gained from numerous changes of duty stations my wife, Patty, and I have had in service to the safety and security of this great country!

Special thanks to the members of the Schuyler County Republican Party, Schuyler County Legislature, the Hector Town Council, friends, neighbors and family -- who supported me, made telephone calls requesting voters to vote for me, and posted campaign signs strategically around the county -- and each one who furnished advice to me!

Your support and assistance was vital and resulted in that "One Vote Margin!"

Again, thank you for your trust and for voting for me as County Legislator -- Hector District 2!

God Bless the USA and God Bless Schuyler County!

Van Harp

Labor of Love awards 2nd annual prize

To the Editor on November 22:

Labor of Love has conducted its second annual cash raffle. Two hundred raffle books of five were sold for $10 each. The drawing was held at the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce in Watkins Glen on Tuesday, November 21st. The winner of the $1,000 cash prize is Michelle Fragola Hoffman (formerly of Watkins Glen) of Massachusetts.

Labor of Love is a group of Schuyler County residents who provide ongoing financial outreach to Schuyler County residents. Collaboration is maintained with many county agencies that include Catholic Charities, Schuyler Outreach, Department of Social Services, Schuyler Housing Opportunities Council, Office for the Aging, Adult Protective Services, and Mustard Seed Ministries. Needs have included hot water heaters, furnaces, propane, coal, minor home repairs, prescription costs, rent securities, and other emergency circumstances.

Labor of Love was initiated in 2006 to continue the outreach ministry of the late Rosanne Paradiso of Watkins Glen, who died that year. Under the auspices of Saint James’ Episcopal Church of Watkins Glen, all financial donations are tax exempt. Gifts to the fund are welcome and may be sent to 210 Reading Road, Watkins Glen.

The Revd Michael Hartney
Treasurer, Labor of Love

Campbell: I won't challenge the result

The following was submitted on Nov. 21 by Joseph Campbell, Democratic challenger in the District 2 race for a seat on the Schuyler County Legislature. His opponent, incumbent Republican Van Harp, was certified the winner on Nov. 20 by one vote, 313-312.

Dear friends and supporters:

There were many factors at play in the election that resulted in a one-vote margin with Van Harp leading the race. While there was one ballot that could conceivably have been argued in court, it would have been a long, drawn-out process and it was an extreme long shot.
Even had I won in court, the result would have been a tie, in which case there would have been a special election called for.

In the interest of not putting the voters in Legislative District 2 through more anguish over the election, I have decided not to pursue litigation.

I have every faith that Van will represent the interests of his constituents admirably.

I want to thank everyone who supported me in this tight contest; those who voted for me, put out lawn signs and contributed to my campaign.

If there are any takeaways from this year’s election, the one that stands out is this: When you hear someone say “Every vote counts,” don’t roll your eyes. As the saying goes, the proof is in the pudding. Another is to make sure you are properly registered to vote and that you know where your polling place is. The Board of Elections is made up of people just like you and me, and they can and do make mistakes.

Every year there are uncontested races for public office. Remember, there is always another election, and we need more voters and residents to get involved in the democratic process that determines who represents you in office.

I met a lot of great people while I was out campaigning and hey, we had a good run.

Joseph Campbell

Program: progress through partnership

To the Editor on November 20:

Recently two non-profit agencies operating in Schuyler County combined manpower and resources to provide a new learning experience for local kids. Cornell Cooperative Extension Schuyler County (CCESC) partnered with the Schuyler Chapter of Shooter's Committee on Political Education (SCOPE) to offer a new program in shooting sports to 4-H youth in the county.

Both organizations' core mission is education. CCESC has recently celebrated 100 years of educational services to youth and adults throughout Schuyler County in agriculture, horticulture, nutrition, youth development and many other areas. SCOPE's mission is more specific to the preservation of the right of firearms ownership as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Education on the proper and safe use of shooting equipment by youth brought the two organizations together.

Schuyler's CCE created a new 4-H Club titled the 4-H Shooters Club. The club provides a continuum of education for youth on the use of archery equipment, pellet guns, small-bore rifles and shotguns. To date 12 youth have engaged in the archery and air rifle programs this season.

Currently, four youths are participating in the small-bore rifle program, learning the basics of proper and safe firearms handling and target shooting. Getting the program up and running took some time, but both groups were committed to getting the program operational this fall. SCOPE members took the weekend-long comprehensive training provided by CCE and now serve as volunteer educators. SCOPE purchased much of the equipment necessary for the program and continues a close relationship with CCE. An additional partner, the Community Conservation Club in Odessa, provides the venue for the firearms program. The Millport Rod and Gun Club has also been very helpful and supportive in bringing shooting sports to our county youth.

The shooting sports program is new and small, but hopefully will grow over time. It is an important educational component in a rural area where hunting is popular and firearm safety is paramount. SCOPE is proud to have had the opportunity to work with CCE to provide the necessary education to youth to make the use of shooting equipment safe and enjoyable, and CCE is grateful to SCOPE, the Community Conservation Club and Millport Rod and Gun Club for making it all possible.

Phil Cherry
Executive Director, CCE Schuyler

Daniel Phillips
Chair, SCOPE

There are wonderful people out there

To the Editor on November 14:

A few weeks ago, it came to the attention of a person, who shall remain nameless, that there was a family in great need. There are 13 members to this family, and they are a close-knit group. The matriarch had been ill for a short time and had just passed away. The mother was the caretaker of the family, and without her the family was a bit lost.

This unnamed person had been periodically visiting the family during the mother’s illness, checking on them, and bringing food pantry items to help them out. The aforementioned individual was very sad to learn of the mom’s passing and just didn’t know what more to do to help this grieving family. So, this person went to a Bone Builder Group and asked for some help and enlisted suggestions on what could be done.

Then something magical happened. These wonderful people that attend this Bone Builder class opened their hearts and brought in food, toiletries, and gift items for the children and the family as a whole. The family was just overwhelmed by the generosity of these strangers.

The family has written a Thank You to these generous people, but the person that asked the group to help out in the first place wishes to thank them publicly. I said I would take care of that to protect the anonymity.

With all the negative things taking place in this world, I wanted to help spread the positive. There ARE good people in this world, and some are right here in Schuyler County. Thank you to all who donated to this family in need. What a great way to enter this “Holiday” time of Thanksgiving. Share something special with someone today, share a bit of yourself!

Susan D. Larson
Director of RSVP
of Schuyler/Yates Counties

Calling all Community Members!

To the Editor on November 11:

Calling all Community Members!

On 11/19, six high school students will be traveling to Albany to represent the Odessa-Montour Sr. High Student Council at the New York State Conference on Leadership and Student Activities (NYS CLSA). Each year the NYS CLSA partners with an organization and chooses a community service project. This year the organization is Make-A-Wish and there are two components to the community service project.

First, at the conference, students from around New York State will bring children's books with a theme of perseverance, strength or empowerment. We will then make individualized cards for students with cancer. We will fill the messages with encouragement, inspiration, hope, and love. The books will be given alongside the personalized, handmade cards to lift the spirits of the children battling cancer.

The second part of the community service is partnering with Macy's and Make-A-Wish. This season, Macy's is inviting believers of all ages to write a letter to Santa and help make wishes come true. For every letter dropped off at a Macy's store or sent online through December 24, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish up to $1 million!

The Senior High Student Council would like to encourage any community members who can find time in their busy schedules this week to participate in this project. Our goal is to bring as many cards and letters as possible to the conference. Please help us show that while Schuyler County may be small, we have a large heart!

Any cards or letters can be sent to Sadye Halpin at the Odessa-Montour High School (300 College Avenue) by Friday, 11/17. Thank you so much for your support!

Sadye Halpin and Lynda Kramer
Sr. High Student Council Co-Advisors

Howell thanks the voters in District 4

To the Editor on November 9:

I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to you, the voters -- my friends and neighbors of District 4 -- for your continued support.

I worked very hard to have a clean, successful campaign. I was able to reach out to many of you in one form or another, and I appreciate your feedback and your support.

I do not take this position lightly. You, the taxpayers, are always first and foremost on my mind, as well as my fellow county employees. As an involved Legislator, I attend numerous meetings every month so that I am informed and therefore able to make the right decisions as to how your tax dollars are spent. I will continue to do just that.

I appreciate you coming out to vote. It is an honor and privilege to continue to serve as your County Legislator. I look forward to continuing our momentum through the next four years.

As always, my door is always open, my phone is always on! Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.

Jim Howell
Legislator, District 4

Reed thanks his supporters in District 1

To the Editor on November 8:


I would like to thank everyone that supported and voted for me as your Schuyler County Legislator for District 1, which covers Catharine and Cayuta.

I would also like to thank the Republican and Conservative Committees for backing and supporting me in my candidacy.

Thank you.

David Reed

Van Harp: I have followed through ...

To the Editor on November 6:

Van Harp here and I am submitting this letter to address those residing in, and registered to vote in, Hector District 2.

Many of you are aware that I am campaigning for re-election as Legislator for Hector District 2. I want to thank again those voters who put their trust in me four years ago, and elected me then to the Legislature.

As I promised then, I have followed through on my commitment to the taxpayers, e.g. as shown by the recent Legislative budgetary accomplishments:

a.) Tax Levy at 0 (zero -- for 1st time in 14 years)
b.) Tax Rate reduced by 11%

Both of which are unusual in the State of New York. Also, both were accomplished by the entire Legislature, not just me alone. I am sure you understand that during the budget formulation phase, we had disagreements which were resolved. I do however approach budgetary issues as if the money being spent is my own. I weigh the difference between "critical needs" vs. "nice to haves." I am very conscious that we are spending your hard-earned tax dollars, inasmuch as I have similarly worked hard all of my life.

My wife Patty and I have been transferred 10 different times around this great country, nine of which were devoted to the Public Safety and Security.

I highlight the above budgetary accomplishment because four years ago I promised to be a "good steward" of Schuyler County's hard-working, taxpaying citizens' tax dollars. I ask that you consider this fact when voting this Tuesday, Nov.7th -- that fact being, I honor my commitments to you!

I also have attended over 90% of the Hector Town Board meetings during my four-year tenure as Legislator, to stay informed on issues and to support Hector as appropriate.

In fact, both Alvin White (Hector Supervisor) and Dennis Fagan (Chairman of the Schuyler County Legislature) endorse and support my re-election.

I firmly oppose the following;

-- The assault on the Constitution, especially the 2nd Amendment,
-- The assault on the "Rule of Law," Law Enforcement and the Military,
-- Confiscatory taxes and unfunded NY State Regulatory mandates.

I firmly believe in: the Constitution, which I have sworn two times to protect and defend, The National Anthem, The American Flag, Strong Schools, Academic Excellence, Strong Families, Law Enforcement, the Military and Term Limits. (This will be my second and final term if elected.)

I am a strong proponent for, and supporter of, the continued economic growth and development of Schuyler County into a center of excellence for families, taxpayers, agriculture, business and tourism.

I believe I have earned your trust again. Please vote for Van Harp on Tuesday, Nov 7th.

God Bless Schuyler County and God Bless America!

Van Harp

Thank you: United Way dinner a success

To the Editor on November 6:

United Way of Schuyler County held its annual pasta dinner on Monday, October 9 at the Montour Moose Club. We served a little over 400 dinners to a packed and enthusiastic crowd.

Deepest thanks begin with Mike Donnelly and the Moose Club. They are a blessing to this community in so many ways. An all-volunteer board of directors of United Way of Schuyler County and students from the Interact Clubs of the Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour schools provided all the grunt work and service that contributed to an outstanding event.

The well-known Hoffman Family, who are this year's campaign co-chairs, were a very visible presence selling 50/50 tickets. In addition to those already mentioned, the following volunteers offered their time and talents as well: Sally Hill, Vern Vorhees, Andrew Yessman, Cameron and Caitlin Connelly, Dustin and Dalton Cummings, Taylor Kelly, Heidi and Noah Gardner, Sue Larson, Jan Granston, and Wendy Drake.

None of this would have mattered were it not for a community that attends this event every year and supports the efforts of United Way.

A "great" time, with "great" food, and "great" service for a "GREAT" cause. Thank you one and all!

Peggy Scott
Executive Director
United Way of Schuyler County

Van Soest would serve the county well

To the Editor on November 4:

I'm somewhat confused. For years, David Reed has not wanted anything to do with Schuyler County, but now he wants to be part of the Legislative body that governs it! There's something wrong with that picture. If he thinks that being on the Legislature is going to magically correct all the problems of Schuyler County, I think he's wrong. But be that what it is.

My major reason for writing this letter is to correct some of his statements made in the letter he sent to the constituents of District 1. Yes, he has 22 years in local government, but John Van Soest has experience too -- maybe not that many years, but 8 years of exceptional service to the Town of Catharine. John might be a “transplant” from another county, but he came to this area and revitalized a dying business. He's upgraded, remodeled and improved the Fountainebleau Inn and made it a place for people to enjoy weddings and events -- and it brings in sales tax dollars to our county from other areas.

I also wonder if Mr. Reed has read the news lately. The Governor of this state is the one who is mandating shared services, the towns are just trying to comply. When the Town of Catharine joined the county for assessing services, we saved thousands of dollars.cWhy should one town pay $35,000-$40,000 plus benefits for an assessor when we can join together and pay less than half of that amount? Besides, can seven other towns ALL be wrong? Cayuta is the only town in the county that DIDN'T do joint assessing!

As for zoning, the Town of Catharine has had zoning since 1968 and we have made the new zoning laws easier to read and understand and much more flexible. You can now build a much smaller home than has previously been allowed. This was not a decision made solely by the Supervisor; there was a committee that met for over 18 months to draw up the changes and there were numerous public hearings. The goal wasn't to take away rights, but to protect rights and maintain neighborhoods in livable conditions! And no, John didn't agree with all the new decisions that were incorporated in the zoning, but he listened and went with the majority vote.

John won't go into the Legislature with a “preset list of wants.” He will take each matter at its own merit. John is a thinker with an open mind. He's not a yes man, and will listen to all sides of an issue before he forms an opinion, and will then vote the way he feels will benefit the county as a whole. He doesn't vote “party lines” -- and by the way, he will be part of the minority on the Legislature as a Democratic party member. He will listen to all sides and vote accordingly.

As much as I as Town Clerk for the past 24 years will hate to lose John as a Supervisor, I feel he has put the Town of Catharine in a good place and will do a fantastic job for the County of Schuyler. Please exercise your right to vote on Tuesday, November 7 -- and consider voting John Van Soest as your representative of District 1.

Carmella Hoffman
Town Clerk, Town of Catharine

Elected officials keep corporations at bay

To the Editor on November 4:

I received an unsolicited letter yesterday from a candidate for the County Legislature, David Reed. While I do not entirely disagree with some of the issues that Mr. Reed addresses, I did find his attitude and orientation to the political arena disturbing. What he stated was done in a manner that I thought was is divisive and which does not really address the difficulties we face today.

It is somewhat naive and short-sighted to blame all things on the local, state and federal governments. It is easy to do, but does not reflect the real source of the power which seems to rule us. When you go to your mailbox, are you confronted with government letters restricting your activities and opinions and choices? I certainly am not. I am faced with various plans and promotions, all of which want some payment, whether it is monthly or yearly, and access to my bank account.

Communications, insurance, banks and medical services compete not just at my mailbox, but with their lobbyists in the halls of Congress to shape and sway every law, regulation and guideline so that it favors corporate profit. What stands between solitary voters and complete governance by corporations? The answer is that elected officials do. Consumer protection regulations do. Banking regulation does. Limiting the power of insurance companies does. We voters in this country have more political power if we use it than do 99% of the people who have ever lived in the world, and that power should be used at every level.

A campaign which construes all government efforts as interference is neither creative nor helpful. The implication that all regulation is evil is lazy. Some is, some is not. Basically, legislation which has consideration for the general welfare, and regulations to make all citizens equally accountable is helpful. Corporations are not people and do not not deserve the legal status and preferential treatment they have carved out.

It is easy to try and drum up support by looking at a small portion of a large picture. That larger picture includes Russian propaganda and interference which is trying to promote the divisive finger-pointing which many candidates have chosen as their campaign message. Look up and around, not down at the ground within your fence.

David W. Burke

Candidate Reed: I am what I am

What follows is a portion of the statement distributed by mail by Schuyler County legislative candidate David Reed.

To the Editor on November 4:

My name is David Reed of the Town of Cayuta. I am running for your County Legislator  for District 1, which covers the Towns of Catharine and Cayuta. I am endorsed by the Conservative and Republican parties.

I have 22 years experience in local town government as Council member and later as Supervisor. I am a local business owner. I am very Conservative. I have been a resident of this area all my life. I am not a transplant from Ithaca or outside the area, that have brought outside ways and ways of doing business in our community.

I believe in landowners' rights. I also believe in local law local rule, a theory that was handed down to us from our country's founders.

I do not like the fact that now under the disguise of shared services that we are giving up our town's rights and turning authority over to the county and the state. They say that they can do things better and cheaper. Have you ever seen bigger government do anything better than local government at the local level where the voters have a say?

I am not in favor of zoning for rural communties and this brings out a point that I want to make: A little less than a year ago the Town of Catharine instituted a zoning ordiance, this is horrendous. It takes away landowners' rights and your ability to do anything on your property without their blessing. They want to dictate every aspect of your property.

They want to dictate to you the size of the house you build, the size of your lawn, where it can be built, the style of your house, the height of your house, and everything you can imagine -- it is in this zoning oridance. The people who approved this should be ashamed of themselves and voted out of office.

At the recent League of Womens Voters Meet the the Candidate night, the two concerns were jobs and taxes. One candidate from another district stated that we should have a special committee to get good paying jobs in our area. We already have the IDA and SCOPED. Although SCOPED is a real good grant writer, they get us into deals that cost us money in the end. But where are the jobs they promised? Where are all the businesses in the industrial park? SCOPED can not do their job. I view them as a drain on our budget, and in the real world they would be fired ...

I am not a liberal. I do not think like a liberal. I have lived here all my life ... I have seen things come and go, have seen bad deals made, such as where the county took the largest taxpayer in Cayuta and took them off our tax rolls, because they needed a feather in their cap to make them look good through the SCOPED and IDA and they wondered why our taxes went up in the Town of Cayuta.

I am what I am. I do not lay down for people ... I really need your support and would really appreciate your vote. If you think like I do and do not think that government is going to solve all your problems and should not be in control of every aspect of your life, I need your vote ...

David Reed
Town of Cayuta

Cheese Alliance plans Signature Dishes

To the Editor on November 3:

The Signature Dishes event is a new event for the Finger Lakes Cheese Alliance, and provides the opportunity for guests to not only sample the products of the Alliance, but also to taste the creations of local chefs and caterers, all using the cheeses of our Alliance members. We call it the Signature Dishes event.

From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, November 11, at Logan Ridge in Hector, in a casual atmosphere, our members will be providing cheese tastings and recipe samples of a variety of appetizers, main courses and desserts, all made using the cheese of the Finger Lakes Cheese Alliance. Logan Ridge will also have its bar open to serve during the event (not included in ticket price). Some of the creators of the dishes at the event include:

--Mama Said Hand Pies of Trumansburg
--Bryony Grealish of the Fingerless Kitchen
--Engelbert Farms working with the staff of Ithaca Beer
--Laura Sutter with East Hill Creamery doing a traditional Raclette melting
--Plus dips, chowder, pasta, fondue, cheesecake bites and more!

Tickets are only $10 and are available here.

Mark Costa
Finger Lakes Cheese Alliance

Ballot style is in full compliance with law

To the Editor on November 3:

I offer this letter in response to a campaign mailer sent out by Legislative District 2 candidate Joseph Campbell in which he implies that there was a deliberate attempt to mislead voters by creating a ballot that places the Listening Party on the same line with the Protect Hector Party.

If Mr. Campbell had done his homework he would have found out that the ballot style was in full compliance with election law. He would have known that before ballots are printed both political parties in the Board of Elections must sign-off. This was the case with the ballot Mr. Campbell references.

When the ballot style was questioned, both parties at the Board of Elections initiated a conference call with ballot stylists at the NYS Board of Elections. They confirmed that the format used was perfectly legal. Candidate Campbell has alleged that the Listening Party has been “allied” with the Republican Party. A little research would have indicated that that party has, in fact, listed candidates enrolled in other parties as well including the present election.

If Mr. Campbell should win, I would hope that he would not jump to conclusions and insinuations. The voters of Legislative District 2 would be better served by a representative who has a proven record of service and  dedication. Van Harp is that candidate.

Lester Cady, Chairman
Schuyler County Republican Committee

Vote 'yes' for Proposal #3 on Nov. 7th

To the Editor on November 2:

I'm writing to encourage everyone to vote "YES" for Proposal #3 on the back on the ballot on November 7th.

Many who love the Adirondacks have always staunchly defended Article 14 of New York State’s Constitution, the “forever wild” provision that secures the wildness legacy of the Catskill and Adirondack Parks, and keeps human development out of our most pristine, protected natural areas. It could be argued however, that our fervent defense of Article 14 has sometimes had unintended consequences for the communities living within the “blue line” of New York’s wilderness parks. Many towns and villages surrounded by wilderness are forbidden in many cases from widening unsafe roads to accommodate bicycles, upgrading deficient utilities or repairing derelict bridges and dams, without first going through the process of amending the constitution.

For a municipality to even slightly encroach upon wilderness lands by broadening a narrow road or fortifying a bridge abutment, it needs approval from both houses of the legislature, in two successive legislative sessions and approval by NYS voters on the November ballot. These significant hurdles, while appropriate for major proposed intrusions into the wilderness, are often too costly and time consuming for small but necessary public works projects.

Proposal #3, before the voters on November 7th, seeks to find a reasonable balance between local infrastructure needs and safeguarding New York’s wilderness protections enshrined in the constitution. Proposal #3 seeks to amend Article 14, the “forever wild” provision of the New York State Constitution, by creating a 250-acre “Health and Safety Land Account” to assist local governments in the Adirondacks and Catskills for maintenance and safety of local roads and to expand public utilities, such as broadband, to rural communities within the parks.

Instead of having to go before the legislature and voters in a costly, multi-year process, municipalities would appeal to the DEC with their infrastructure improvement requests. Construction could begin upon completing a public environmental review. The acreage shaved from “forever wild land” protected by article 14 would be transferred to a 250-acre land bank, representing new wilderness to be entered into the preserve. For these projects, local governments will have to demonstrate that no other viable alternative exists and that impacts are minimal. Proposals for major intrusions into wilderness lands will still need a constitutional amendment and go before the voters.

Every year, the State of New York has the opportunity to enter hundreds of acres of once-private land into our state forest preserves and have those ecologically valuable parcels receive constitutional protection. But the prospect of more forever wild land hampering the maintenance of basic municipal infrastructure within the parks has fueled resentment and eroded local support for putting more protected wilderness “on the books.” If a majority of voters approve Proposal #3 on November 7th, it will go a long way to alleviate those local tensions and foster a more unified approach to protecting New York’s wilderness legacy for this and future generations.

Kate Bartholomew
Montour Falls

Vote for Van Harp on Election Day

To the Editor on November 2:

I am writing today to endorse Schuyler County Legislator Van Harp for re-election in Legislative District 2. I also wish to respond to Mr. Steven Crout’s letter of October 24, announcing his candidacy for the same seat.

I had known Legislator Harp prior to his service on the Legislature, as he was an invited speaker for the Odessa Tea Party group when I was the group’s speakers committee chair. Legislator Harp spoke of his long career with the FBI, rising from field agent to Assistant Director, and of the lessons he learned from his service on how to balance safeguarding our constitutionally guaranteed rights with protecting the national interest. I believe that everyone in attendance that night left impressed with Mr. Harp’s intellect, his passion for freedom and the rule of law, and his commitment to conservative principles.

Since joining the Legislature, Legislator Harp has brought those same principles to bear in his performance as a Legislator, as well as a commitment to representing the concerns of the residents of his district. I have worked with him on many issues, and while we disagree on certain topics, I can say that he has always listened respectfully to my viewpoint and has always been committed to acting in the best interest of Schuyler County.

For these reasons, I am surprised by Mr. Crout’s letter wherein he speaks against electing a legislator who is “an outsider with an agenda.” From everything I know of him, Mr. Crout shares the conservative principles and personal integrity which are hallmarks of Schuyler County residents. Although not born here, Legislator Harp has these qualities in spades. One of these qualities is plain speaking, and to refer to someone as “an outsider with an agenda” without directly identifying that agenda creates a lot of controversy but provides no factual information.

Finally, I would ask the voters in the district to consider what qualities they are looking for in a Legislator. Consider what values and principles you support, and whether splitting votes between two candidates with similar views might allow the election of a third candidate known to hold a radically different viewpoint. Legislator Harp has a proven record in working within the legislature to move Schuyler County forward, and I ask you to vote for him on Election Day.

Mark Rondinaro
Legislator, District 7
Schuyler County Legislature

Barnes: Why I support John Van Soust

To the Editor on November 1:

As a proud, lifelong Republican and past Chairman of the Schuyler County Republican party, I would have never envisioned myself endorsing a non-Republican candidate in any electoral contest, and in fact I never have. This year however, I find myself enthusiastically supporting the candidacy of John Van Soest for Schuyler County District One Legislator.

As many are aware, long-time Legislator Barbara Halpin has decided not to seek re-election, leaving behind a legacy of fiscal conservatism and sound leadership. John's experience and qualifications, built on tremendous accomplishments as Town of Catharine Supervisor, make him uniquely qualified to serve the residents of Schuyler County in this important position.

In working with John over the past eight years in his capacity as Town Supervisor, I have found him to be a big-picture guy who utilizes common sense and practicality in his leadership and decision-making skills. John is equally concerned with sound fiscal controls, and while at the helm in Catharine has achieved five straight years of zero tax increase for his residents.

It is without hesitation that I offer my support of John Van Soest's bid to become the next District One Legislator. Schuyler County is on the verge of great accomplishments, and having someone with John's vision and professionalism will greatly increase our efforts to bring the best, most cost-effective government to our residents. I respectfully ask District One voters to support Mr. Van Soest this coming Tuesday, November 7th.

Philip C. Barnes
Schuyler County Legislator

Elect Van Soest to Schuyler Legislature

To the Editor on October 29:

The purpose of this letter is twofold. First I would like to offer my congratulations and heartfelt best wishes to retiring District 1 Legislator Barbara Halpin. Barb's absence in 2018 will create a huge void in the Legislature and her replacement will certainly have big shoes to fill. Her leadership and fiscal conservatism during her tenure has resulted in tax decreases for the past six years with an overall reduction in the tax rate from $8.37 when she took office to the 2018 proposed rate of $7.45/$1,000 assessed value. Barb has been a champion of not only her district but of all the residents of Schuyler County, and her presence will be greatly missed. Barb's distinguished tenure and her countless contributions have clearly demonstrated the impact one individual can make in this important position and has "raised the bar" so to speak when it comes to measuring the performance in prospective elected officials.

That brings me to my second point. As dismayed as I was to learn of Legislator Halpin's retirement, my concerns were lessened considerably upon learning that John Van Soest has decided to seek this legislative seat. In addition to working with John on the Council of Governments for the past eight years, I have also worked with him in his role as Town Supervisor for Catharine. During this time I have found John to be the consummate public servant, serving with integrity and honesty while maintaining objectivity and fairness in his decision making. John also shares Barb's fiscal stewardship, as evidenced by five years of no tax increases in the town under his leadership. John is sincere in his desire to provide representative government and I have never seen any evidence of an agenda that wasn't in the best interest of his constituents.

Schuyler County is on the cusp of realizing tremendous economic development growth. I believe John would be a valuable legislative team member enabling us to continue to provide taxpayers with efficient and effective public service while  helping to fully realize our development potential. I am confident that John's demonstrated leadership and common sense approach to government will complement the Schuyler County team and will result in further economies and reductions in taxes for our residents and businesses.

This year the voters of District 1 have an important choice to make to ensure the future of good government in Schuyler County. To that end, I respectfully ask the voters in District 1 to elect John Van Soest as their representative on the Schuyler County Legislature.

Dennis A. Fagan
Schuyler County Legislature
District 8

Howell: We have great momentum

To the Editor on October 27:

As you may know, I am running for re-election for Legislative District 4. It has been my honor and privilege for nearly four years to represent you -- my friends and neighbors.

We have great momentum currently and I look forward to working with you for the next four years to keep this momentum moving. I am excited to see what the future holds for us and our county.

As a legislator, I am fully committed, knowledgeable and involved. Currently I serve as the chair of the Public Works committee, as a member of the Management and Finance committee, and as a member of the Community Development and Natural Resources committee.

I serve as a board member of the Soil and Water Conservation District, am on the substance and alcohol abuse committee, am a Western New York Intercounty representative, and am part of the Seneca Lake Watershed organization, along with many other affiliations.

I have worked within county government my entire adult life. I have called Schuyler County my home since 1974, when I began my career with the Schuyler County Watershed Protection Agency. I'm appreciative and proud of our county and the many resources it offers.

I thank you for your continued support while once again seeking your support on November 7th. If I can assist you with transportation to the polls, please contact me at 607-227-1141 by phone or text.

Thank you.

Jim Howell
Legislator, District 4

Crout: I am running for Legislature

To the Editor on October 24:

My name is Steven Crout and I am running for Schuyler County Legislature representing District 2.

As a lifelong resident growing up here, graduating from Watkins Glen School District, working in the legislative district that I want to represent, and raising a family here, I feel that I am more than qualified to be the voice and represent the people who make up our district.

Like my fellow candidates running for the same district, I can tell you all the same things. How I will be fiscally responsible, put the people’s concerns first, lower taxes and so on. These are things that we all want, but let’s be honest: these statements are the same things that we hear every day from seasoned politicians. I will not bore you with all of that rhetoric.

Since I decided to run I have heard a lot about how I would ruin the election by splitting the vote. My answer to that is the people need to elect the best candidate who truly understands our district and can represent them. Sometimes that is not just voting party lines.

I am the only candidate running for District 2 who has been a lifelong resident of our district. I have coached and mentored the youth that live here. I have participated in many community events making our district a better place to live. I work every day for the Town of Hector to make our roads and district a safer place. I have volunteered the last 25 years of my life protecting and serving the people of our district as a Burdett fireman.

Together many of us have shared the good and the bad, but together we have made our district a better place to live. Allow me to be your legislative representative, and not an outsider with an agenda. I will be your voice, a voice of reason, and I will represent our district faithfully and responsibly.

Steven Crout

Thanks to many for a great Homecoming

To the Editor on October 16:

Dear Senecas & Seneca Indian Nation:

Thank you, thank you for a GREAT Homecoming celebration. It was a fun, fun weekend. There are many who need to be thanked for this event.

Starting with the Bonfire Friday night -- thank you to Jerry Harriger and his staff for building a great fire. Thank you to the WG Fire Dept. for lighting and dowsing the fire. Thank you to Trooper Waite and Mr. D’Alleva for watching out for our kids during the fire, and thank you to Mr. Holland for the music. The students enjoyed cider and Reisinger donuts.

Saturday, our Homecoming parade. Again thank you to the WG Fire Dept. and the O-M Fire Dept., whose fire trucks were part of the parade. Thank you to our convertible drivers, John Vona, Tony Specchio, David Asbury, and Chuck Franzese, who drove our Homecoming Queen and King candidates. Thank you to the “Tribe” football players, cheerleaders and their coaches for walking in the parade. Thank you to Grades 7-12 students and their class advisors. The students put together banners and floats with the help of their advisors, and thank you to the parents who provided and drove trucks with flatbeds in the parade. Thank you to the Police Dept. and a parent for directing traffic. Thank you to all spectators who came out to watch the parade. Thank you to Bettelynn Bravo for all the photos, and all the press coverage was wonderful as well. It was so appreciated.

Tailgate party -- Thank you to all the Fall Athletic teams that donated food, to the WG Administrators, Kristine Somerville, Rebecca Trank, Kelsey Delany and Rod Weeden, and BOE members Gloria Brubaker, Barb Schimizzi and Kris Clarkson for cooking the meat. Thank you to Brent Miller for great music. Thank you to Josh Chilson and our parents and students for clean-up.

Football game -- Thank you to Addy Coolican for the most beautiful rendition of our National Anthem. If you were there, you would agree, and she is only in 5th grade!! Thank you to Rod Weeden and Greg Gavich for filling in at a moment's notice as the clock keepers. Thank you to the “Flower Divas” for the beautiful flowers.

Dance -- Thank you to Mrs. Gilfus and the Student Council for putting on a Homecoming dance after the game. Many of our kids enjoyed themselves with dancing and snacks.
And a very special thank you to our Queen and King candidates -- Amber Benjamim, Emilia Bond, Clara Chedzoy (Queen), Jazmin Shea, Dayne Hughey, Jaren Prien, Tanner Ryan and Simon Wigmore (King) -- who did everything that was asked of them. They looked elegant and poised, and were a total joy.

We would also like to send a very special “thank you” to our Superintendent, Greg Kelahan, our Athletic Director, Rod Weeden, and teacher-coach-friend, Trevor Holland. Without their support, this event would not have been possible.

If we have left anyone out of this “thank you,” please know that we appreciate everything that was done by all.

Go Senecas!!!

Kaz Popovich, WG Varsity Club Advisor
Tracie McIlroy, WG Athletic Dept. Secretary

Helen Teed running for Dix Town Clerk

To the Editor on October 13:

Hello. My name is Helen Teed.
I am a candidate for Town of Dix Clerk/Tax Collector.
I have lived in the Town of Dix over 40 years.
I have worked at the Town of Dix for 5 years:
--5 years as Deputy Tax Collector.
--2 years as Deputy Clerk.
I helped reduce waiting time for paying taxes.
I helped bring back the DEC Hunting & Fishing licensing.
I have extended Clerk Hours by covering Monday 1 to 5 and Friday 8 to noon, along with regular hours of: Monday 9-1, Tuesday & Wednesday 9-11:30, and Thursday 2-5.
I am dedicated to Continuing Education of Clerk Duties:
--I have read the Town Clerk Book.
--I have read the Registrar's Book.
--I am reading the Town Law Book.
--I am an Active member of the Chemung/Schuyler Clerk's Association -- for networking with the other Town Clerks.
--I have attended several Town Clerk Conferences for State changes to duty.
--I am also a Member of the New York State Town Clerks Association -- working toward my Registered Municipal Clerk's Certification.
Thank you for your consideration of voting for me on November 7th, 2017!

Helen Teed

Van Soest: I am running for Legislature

To the Editor on October 1:

I am writing to announce my candidacy for Schuyler County Legislature, District 1, which comprises the towns of Catharine and Cayuta.

My wife Terri and I moved here 27 years ago to operate the Fontainebleau Inn, and we feel very fortunate to have raised our family in a rural area that’s beautiful, friendly, and safe. We are grateful, and feel it’s important to give back to our community.

For the past eight years, I have been the Town Supervisor of Catharine. I have been very lucky to work with great people from our town, and we have made real progress by working together. I believe it’s important to be respectful of different views, and have made a point to give fair consideration to all sides of an issue and listen openly to what people have to say. Our town is open to ideas regardless of party, which I think epitomizes the meaning of “good government.”

The town performs a number of important functions, especially related to roads and maintenance. These are necessary, but expensive, and I have never forgotten that they are paid for by our neighbors -- the taxpayers. Taxes in New York have become out of control, and in Catharine we have done our part to fight this trend. Our town has had zero tax increases for four years running, and in fact our 2017 budget was 1% less than our budget in 2013! By cutting expenses and making smart investments, we kept the cost of local government down without a penny of debt.

With a seat opening on the legislature, I feel now is the right time to step forward and work for the county at large. I want to fight for strategic choices to curb spending and spend smarter where money can be saved -- especially in the long term. Schuyler County provides many valuable services to the community and it is important for these to be recognized and maintained. But they should be scrutinized too, because we are in tough economic times and need sound and conservative economic decisions.

One of our best avenues for improvement is through healthy and sustainable economic development, and the key to this is promoting smart investments. I hope to use my business background and experience in Catharine to help Schuyler County grow, and will be especially interested in proposals that help Catharine and Cayuta directly. I think we should do this with respect for the beauty, the natural assets, and rural character our community has to offer.

Thanks very much to everyone who has supported me in the past, and I hope I can earn your support in the future!

John Van Soest

The Planning Commission's role

To the Editor on September 27:

Given the recent headlines and ensuing local discussion concerning the proposed Best Western Hotel in Watkins Glen, it appears that confusion exists surrounding the Schuyler County Planning Commission and its roles and responsibilities.

In an effort to clear up some of this confusion and provide balance to misinformation being generated by various parties, I felt it appropriate to provide a brief primer on the Planning Commissions role in Schuyler County.

In New York State, General Municipal Law Article 12B, Sections 239-1, -m, or n requires municipal boards to refer certain planning actions to the County Planning Commission for review before taking final action. The purpose of the law is to encourage local decision-makers to consider the countywide and inter-municipal impacts of their local land use decisions. It should be noted that municipalities that do not have any zoning or land use laws are not required to follow this process as those municipalities do not have the authority to approve/disapprove a project. The Planning Commission serves strictly in an advisory capacity to the County Legislature, and receives referrals from local municipalities within the county.

The meetings are open to the public and representation from proposed projects are encouraged to attend the meetings. It is important to note that the Planning Commission neither approves or denies projects; that is a power reserved to the jurisdictional municipality only. However, they are an integral part of a responsible review and should be considered an asset in comprehensive planning and land use regulations

The board is a representative one, with 17 voting members comprised of one member from each of the eight townships, one member from each of the four villages, and one member representing each of the following groups: Business, Agriculture, Industry, Medical and Tourism. Each Planning Commissioner is a volunteer and is appointed to a two-year term by their local Town or Village Board. A member can serve up to three consecutive terms.

The following is a list of frequently asked questions pertaining to the process for how/when projects are sent to the Planning Commission and the review process.

What planning actions should be referred?

The following municipal actions are to be subject to County Planning Commission review:
--Adoption or amendment of a comprehensive plan
--Adoption or amendment of a zoning ordinance or local law
--Issuance of special use permits
--Approval of site plans
--Granting of use or area variances
--Other authorization which a referring body may issue under the provisions of any zoning ordinance or local law

When or under what circumstance does a planning action need to be referred?
A proposed action is subject to review if the real property is within 500 feet of the following:
--The boundary of any city, village or town.
--The boundary of any existing or proposed county or state park or any other recreation area.
--The right-of-way of any existing or proposed county or state parkway, thruway, expressway, road, or highway.
--The existing or proposed right-of-way of any stream or drainage channel owned by the county or for which the county has established channel lines.
--The existing or proposed boundary of any county or state owned land on which a public building or institution is situated.
--The boundary of a farm operation located in an agricultural district, as defined by article twenty-five-AA of agriculture & markets law

What is the County Planning Commission looking for in their reviews?
The County Planning Commission’s job is to determine if there will be any countywide or inter-community impacts because of the proposed action. In doing so, they may consider the following:
--Compatibility of adjacent land uses
--Impact of any additional traffic
--Compatibility with existing municipal comprehensive plans
--Effects on community character and appearance
--Impacts on community facilities

What type of recommendations will the County Commission make?
Once a full statement of the proposed action is submitted for review, the County Planning Commission may choose from the following actions:
--Approve with conditions (modifications)
--Disapprove citing serious and unavoidable countywide or inter-municipal impacts.
--Disapprove citing that sufficient information was not provided that would allow the commission to evaluate the nature and magnitude of potential county-wide or inter-municipal impacts.
--No action (After 30 days without notice, the municipality may proceed to take final action).

How does the County Planning Commission’s decisions and recommendations affect local decision-making?
Final approval or denial of any project rests with the local municipality. For example, a municipality may act contrary to the County Commission’s decisions and recommendations and approve or deny the application. In the event the County Commission has disapproved or approved with conditions, then the municipal board may approve the application with a “super majority vote.” This is a vote of the majority of its members, plus one vote. The municipal board must then adopt a resolution citing the reasons for its decision. When the Planning Commission’s recommendation is consistent with a local board's actions, a simple majority vote by that board will approve the application in most cases.

If you have any questions or concerns about the Schuyler County Planning Commission or Planning Department, please do not hesitate to contact Kristin VanHorn at 607-535-8211 or kvanhorn@co.schuyler.ny.us

Kristin VanHorn, AICP
Director of Planning
Schuyler County

I am running for the Legislature

To the Editor on September 21:

My name is Joseph Campbell and I am running for the Schuyler County Legislature in District 2, also known as South Hector.

I am a lifelong resident of the Finger Lakes. I was born and raised here and raised my own family here. After learning the building trades and rising to the rank of foreman in a construction company, I did an about face and went back to school, graduating from New York Chiropractic College in Seneca Falls and then owned a successful practice in Naples, New York for many years. My partner and I built our permanent year-round home in Burdett on land that has been in her family for generations where we now live. I am a proud grandfather and I will fight to leave the Finger Lakes a better place for our children and grandchildren.

I threw my hat in the ring for a number of reasons, but one that stands out to me is the disparity of representation on our County Legislature. Here in District 2, Republican voters have a slight edge in numbers over Democratic voters, but there are nearly as many voters that are registered Independent or no party affiliation. That means that the existing makeup of the legislature leaves over half of the voters in Hector underrepresented.

As an independent, endorsed by the Democratic party, I promise that I will look at all sides of an issue and make my decisions based on the needs of Schuyler County residents, especially those in our amazing Town of Hector. That is why I decided to name my independent party “The People First.”

One of the things that I hear over and over from folks is that they are worried about the ever increasing property taxes. I believe that we can hold the line on property tax increases without putting our most vulnerable citizens in jeopardy. I believe that our single most valuable resource here in Schuyler County is Seneca Lake herself. We all depend on her, for everything from clean drinking water to the microclimate she provides that makes the backbone of our local economy possible. It’s important to understand that the tourism industry benefits us all through traveler spending in the form of sales tax which then helps to keep our property taxes in check. Without tourism, the average household in the Finger Lakes would pay almost $500 a year more in property taxes.

I am dedicated to economic growth that is in character with the direction that the Finger Lakes and the Town of Hector and Schuyler County have been moving for what can now be measured in generations. We are seeing investment in the County by private individuals interested in clean, sustainable business. These new enterprises are spending their own money, not looking for government handouts, and will be paying the full property tax due to the County based on their assessment, and many will also be contributing sales tax revenue.

This November 7th is considered an off year election cycle. Typically there is low voter turnout but, as they say, all politics is local. Everyone, please talk to your neighbors and encourage them to go to the polls and vote this November 7th. If you are not yet registered, there is still time.

For more on my views regarding some of the issues, please visit my website at josephcampbell4schuyler.com, but more importantly I want to hear from you, the residents and taxpayers of Hector and Schuyler County. Please sign up for updates and feel free to use the contact form on the website to reach me personally.

A vote for me is a vote for keeping Hector and Schuyler County a great place to live, work and raise a family for generations to come.

Joseph Campbell

Hackers golf tourney raises $6,000

To the Editor on September 9:

The 2017 Hackers & Wackers Annual Golf Tournament was held on Friday, September 1st. Final figures are not yet in, but early numbers show over $6,000 was raised for the United Way of Schuyler County.

It is difficult to express gratitude to all those who made it possible. As competition for limited resources continues to rise, we are so appreciative to the sponsors, businesses and individuals who donated gifts, and especially the players, many of whom are repeat participants, for their continued support.

The tournament would not have been possible without the hard work and efforts of committee chair John Franzese and Sarah Matthews, Mike Learn, Esther Heichel, Aimee Churchill, and Lynn Cacciotti.

Some people like to donate to their individual favorite charities. United Way donates to 22 of those same charities. From The Arc to Schuyler Hospital to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and so many more, United Way covers them all. On behalf of the all-volunteer board of directors and the thousands of people who benefit from your generosity ... thank you!

Peggy Scott
Executive Director
United Way of Schuyler County

Jerlando's thrilled to reach milestone

To the Editor on September 5:

This year will be Jerlando's 20th year in business in Watkins Glen. Bill Tague and family have worked all of these years to build up their business and are thrilled to have reached this milestone.

The business started in 1997 when Bill Tague and Sal Purpura bought the Pizza Shop from Scuteri's. Bill and Sal started with four tables in the main dining area and a bathroom. Like Scuteri's, at first they only offered pizza, calzones, and cannoli's. The now "famous" two-slice lunch special was $2.50. The only staff person to stay from the Scuteri employees was Mary Miller. Thank God she did. Mary had been at this game for some time. She knew the business and quite possibly every person to walk through the front door. Mary worked with them until her eventual retirement. It was a sad day when she left.

Many great things have happened over the years: the menus have changed and evolved always keeping customer favorites, the pizza selections have flourished while keeping that same great flavor.

In addition, there have been several renovations to the pizzeria and to the ristorante. After the initial purchase in 1997, a 1998 restoration added a 50-seat ristorante, and in 2010 another huge restoration took place allowing seating for 120 guests who can dine on a patio like an Italian Piazza under umbrellas with white lights and with a full bar available for libations.

As a local business, Jerlando's recognizes that the local community is the life-blood of all local businesses as we all live and work together to form our community and to make it stronger. Over the past 20 years, 580 individuals have worked at Jerlando's in a part- time/full-time capacity. Currently, there are 55 full- and part-time employees working there.

While Jerlando's has received great community support through the years, Jerlando's always attempts to recognize this support by re-investing in the community by contributing to various community organizations. Some organizations receiving funds have been the Schuyler Hospital Health Foundation, Catholic Charities, The Boy Scouts of America, and Sports Boosters clubs of the Odessa-Montour and Watkins Glen Central School Districts, to name a few.

In 2012, the final renovation occurred. The upstairs second and third floors of the massive building were renovated into four apartments meeting the needs of some community members.

In 2016, Sal and Maria Purpura retired from the Watkins Jerlando's, and Bill and Serafina Tague became the sole owners of the business.

A special thank you from Bill and Serafina Tague and their staff to the entire community for supporting them all of these years and in the years to come.


Jerlando's will offer its 20-years-ago "2-Slice Pizza Special for $2.50" all day on Wednesday, September 13.

Jerlando's Pizzeria and Ristorante
Watkins Glen

Cargill cares for Schuyler Head Start

To the Editor on August 23:

Once again the Cargill Cares Committee has donated a generous sum of money to benefit children and families in the Schuyler Community. This time, Schuyler Head Start was the fortunate recipient of their good will.

Head Start needed a new refrigerator for the food that is served daily to the children for breakfast and snacks. The Cargill Cares Committee came to the rescue with a check for $2,000 for the purchase.

Schuyler Head Start serves 80 children in combined programs at the Schuyler Human Services Complex, the Watkins Glen Elementary School and in conjunction with B.C. Cate Elementary School. An additional 10 children are served in an Early Head Start Home Based Program and come to the center weekly for socialization and to enjoy a healthy snack!

Schuyler Head Start

These gifts will benefit many children

To the Editor on August 22:

Seneca Santa, Inc. would like to publicly thank and recognize the family and friends of Cameron Nichols who donated monies in his memory.

The Seneca Santa program has been in existence in Schuyler County since the early 1940s. It serves an average of 350 children each year and the by-laws state that its purpose is to help provide a “Happy Christmas for the needy children of Schuyler County.”

I was told that Cameron loved children and Christmas. We are humbled and honored that Seneca Santa was chosen to receive gifts in his memory. Hundreds of children will benefit from these generous donations and Cameron’s light will shine through those children for years to come.

On behalf of those children and the program, I thank you.

Peggy Scott

The Toe Jam concert was a success

The Watkins-Montour Rotary Club held a fund-raising concert Sunday night at the “W” -- the named affixed now to the auditorium at the former Watkins Glen Middle School. The concert featured a central Florida band that plays music from the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s. Organizer and Rotarian Jim Guild reports:

To the Editor on August 21:

Despite some early concerns caused by slow ticket pre-sales, the concert was a success. California Toe Jam, a highly popular band in central Florida, absolutely rocked a near-capacity crowd, showing that the "W" has a great future as the performing arts center of Watkins Glen.

The band, which has been playing its special brand of music for many years, received several standing ovations from the appreciative audience. In fact, the band says it hopes to return to Watkins Glen for another concert next year.

Thanks to all who turned out for a special evening. The money raised from the performance will be used by the Rotary Club for community projects.

Jim Guild

Thanks to Strikers soccer coaches

To the Editor on August 15:

I would like to personally thank all the efforts of Eric Vanskiver, Paul Honrath and the rest of their staff, for all time and devotion they have put into the Strikers Soccer Club. They have produced a valuable resource that will enhance the future of the soccer program here in Schuyler County. I am really excited about what they have done and hope they continue!

Ralph Diliberto
Watkins Glen High School
Modified Soccer Coach

'Local resource' draws praise from visitor

WATKINS GLEN, Aug. 14, 2017 -- The following letter was sent to Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce President Rebekah Carroll by a visitor to our area who experienced an unexpected and not-soon-forgotten act of kindness while she was here.

To the Chamber of Commerce:

I am writing to you today to inform you of my recent experience as a Watkins Glen tourist.

My best girlfriend and I of 25 years took a 5-hour road trip up from Long Island to see the beautiful gorge this past Friday, August 4th. There are few words to describe the breathtaking experience the gorge provides. In addition to the gorge, we also stopped in to see the Farm Sanctuary, which was a fantastic addition to our short visit. I have nothing but rave reviews about our visit!

Unfortunately, while turning out of the parking lot at the sanctuary, my car took a pretty hard dive into a ditch. As we drove away we heard many concerning clanks and whooshes underneath the car which we concluded would not make for a safe 5-hour trip home. My friend had to get home that evening as her children had an event the next morning. Unfortunately, auto body shops were closed at that time and hotels were booked or highly priced due to racing events that weekend. Staying another night would have been extremely tough.

If it was not for Wade L. Pike at Pike’s Engine and Machine, our much-needed getaway would have turned into a stressful event.

Not only did Wade make it safe for us to drive the car home, he did it while off hours, and FOR FREE. Wade simply said “I have daughters; one is going away to college. I can only hope the same thing would be done for them.” Ms. Carroll, I am from the part of New York where that sort of kindness is much like the upcoming solar eclipse event: it rarely happens.

I understand Pike’s auto shop is not drawing crowds from all over or even providing aesthetics on a main road. However, what Wade provided was something much more valuable and priceless; safety and a rare kindness. Being a tourist somewhere is not only about the exciting experiences, it is also about a location’s resources. To know you will be safe and not taken advantage of (as we easily could have been since we were stuck and desperate) makes all the difference.

My amazing experience in your beautiful town is sprawled all over my social media with friends and families inquiring to plan a visit themselves. Had it not been for Wade, I would not have been able to express much enthusiasm about this trip. Wade and his shop are a valuable community resource!

Jessica Olivieri, CHES

'American Pickers' are seeking treasures

To the Editor on Aug. 14:

My name is Victoria and I work on the television show "American Pickers." The show will film in New York this September and the hosts are looking for people in your area with unique antique collections and interesting stories behind them.

I hope you can share this with your community. We are trying to get the word out as soon as possible, so the sooner people with large collections reach out to us, the better.

People with such one-of-a-kind items to sell can contact us on our phone number -- 1-855-OLD-RUST (653-7878) -- or at our email, which is AmericanPickers@cineflix.com.

Hosts Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz only pick large private collections -- so no stores, malls, flea markets, museums, auctions, businesses or anything open to the public. We are looking for accumulations of antiques that the Pickers can spend the better part of the day looking through.

Thank you so much for your time and help!

Victoria Weinberg
Casting Associate
American Pickers on History

Thanks for the heartfelt acts of kindness

To the Editor on Aug. 9:

The family of Barbara Westervelt would like to sincerely thank the very many people in this and surrounding communities for their authentic and heartfelt acts of kindness following Barb's death.

Not only food, flowers and scores of cards, but their sincere words of kindness and offers to help in the future.

Barbara was a very special woman who will be forever missed. She would be very proud of the outpouring of kindness during this very sad time.

The Westervelt Family

Motorcycle, bike stolen from garage

To the Editor on Aug. 8:

I'm writing to you with hopes that you will run an article in The Odessa File. Last night while my 16-year-old nephew and his family were sleeping, someone stole his racing motorcycle and BMX bike out of their garage in Alpine. This young man races the motorcycle weekly, winning fourth place last week, and has another race this coming weekend.

It is such a shame to dash the hopes of a young man! With some exposure of the theft, perhaps your readers will be able to help recover the stolen bikes and give the story a successful outcome.

You may contact Jacob Mayo on his cell phone at 607-923-0215 or his father, Harold Mayo, at 607-426-9341. Please help us get the word out about the theft.

Jo Mayo

SOS motorcyle run set for August 13th

To the Editor on Aug. 5:

Spirit of Schuyler is teaming up with the Italian-American Festival and Watkins Glen International this year to bring back our signature Motorcycle Run (including a lap around the race track).

9:30 a.m. at Matt's Place (formerly Monterey Jack's) in Beaver Dams.
Ride leaves promptly at 10:15 a.m.

Enjoy a scenic ride followed by a lap around Watkins Glen International. Final stop is the Italian-American Festival at Clute Park on Seneca Lake. There, all riders will be eligible to win a $250 cash prize provided by Corning Credit Union. Drawing will be at 1:30 p.m. Afterwards, hang out and enjoy the festival -- there will be a bike show, food/drink vendors, craft and gift marketplace, amusement rides, games of chance, and more!

--Pre-Registration Discount Price: $15/rider, $10/passenger
--Pre-register now at www.spiritofschuyler.org
--(Cost increases by $5 per person the day of the event, so be sure to pre-register by 5 p.m. on 8/12!)
--All proceeds benefit the Spirit of Schuyler.

All riders must be present at registration in order to join the ride and the lap around the track. Riders must be present at the Italian-American Festival to be eligible for the $250 cash prize.

Spirit of Schuyler

Grand Prix Festival looks for volunteers

To the Editor on July 20:

The Grand Prix Festival of Watkins Glen is fast approaching -- September 8, 2017 -- and there is always a need for new volunteers. The success of this day-long event depends on the wonderful volunteers in all areas of the event. We need you!

The Festival Committee is always encouraging new members of the community -- near and far -- to get involved in this historic event. From merchandise sales to hospitality, from traffic and parking control to transporting “dignitaries,” there are many jobs necessary to keep the event running smoothly.

Your skills -- retail experience, driving a golf cart, event registration, greeting and guiding guests, answering questions, directing traffic -- can help things flow smoothly and assure that everyone -- participants, village residents, merchants, and you -- enjoys the day. If you aren’t sure of what you can offer, but want to get involved, we will find the perfect place for you to help out for a few hours.

Shifts can be as long or short as you like, you can try a few different jobs, and you can be part of one of the most unique and historic automotive events in the country. You’ll meet old friends, make some new ones, and meet car lovers from all over. Check the website -- www.grandprixfestival.com -- to feel the excitement of the day and the various events and activities.

Discover where your skills can be used by contacting Volunteer Coordinator Judy Phillips at judyphillips@stny.rr.com (607-535-6680) or Carole at 607-535-3003 and get involved in the Grand Prix Festival of Watkins Glen this year!

Grand Prix Festival Committee

GP Festival seeks German automobiles

To the Editor on July 20:

The Grand Prix Festival of Watkins Glen is seeking owners of German-manufactured vehicles to participate in the September 8, 2017 event. Vehicles of all German makes are encouraged to enter the Tour de Marque event which features “Cars of the Autobahn.”

German manufacturers include Audi, Mercedes Benz, Volkswagen, Opel, Borgward and NSU as well as the more often seen BMW and Porsche. If you own any of these vehicles, or other German make, this is your year! Share your great German car -- or motorcycle -- with everyone.

Your day in the Tour de Marque will begin at Chateau Lafayette Reneau Winery on the east side of Seneca Lake; from there your group will enjoy a rallye-style tour of the area, ending at Watkins Glen International Race Track for brunch and paced laps on the world-class track.

Cars will then proceed to the Start-Finish line on the “Old Course” and take two laps of this historic route, including crossing Cornett’s Stone Bridge and later coming down into town, around Milliken’s Corner, hearing the reverberation of down-shifting exhaust notes against the buildings and hearing a sea of cheering enthusiasts welcoming the cars into the Village -- just as they did in 1948!

Your group will be parked in Lafayette Park for conversation and visiting with spectators and friends, within an easy walk of the festivities, food and fun on Franklin Street. And the fun continues -- Tour de Marque registration includes two tickets for the SVRA Vintage Races on September 9 and 10, too!

The website -- www.grandprixfestival.com -- shares details of the all the events, photos, video clips and registration information. An overall wonderful event for anyone can be even more exciting and memorable when experienced in your own special German vehicle! Check it out and join the excitement this September!

Grand Prix Festival Committee

Don't be afraid to ask, 'Are you okay?"

To the Editor on July 12:

“Are you okay?” It’s a simple question that can help save a person’s life if you take the time to listen and refer them to help if it’s needed. Suicide happens when stressful life events overload the coping abilities of someone suffering a mental illness. The most common condition that leads to suicide is depression.

For the many people who suffer with depression, the chronic illness can be treated with medications and by having the courage to talk with others who can help -- to overcome a stigma that often makes the sufferer feel alone. Talking about the depression and about suicide can help shatter the darkness that surrounds those who are going through this part of their life.

It’s necessary to talk about mental illness because one person every 5 hours dies by suicide in New York State. Men in the U.S. die by suicide 3.5 times more often than women. Also in the U.S., white males accounted for 7 out of 10 suicides in 2015. True strength is showing your weakness and having the courage to stand with others against the things that harm us. Encouraging the ones we love to embark on getting biological and psychological treatments can help address the underlying health issues that put people at risk for suicide, and ultimately decrease deaths by suicide.

One organization that has taken on the mission to decrease the suicide rate in Schuyler County is SAFE, which stands for Suicide Awareness For Everyone. They have been working on connecting people to prevention, intervention and recovery by providing education, support and advocacy. SAFE is an advocate for the more positive solutions to dealing with life’s struggles.

For more about SAFE contact:
Chris Tennant, LMSW, and Liz Sommers, LCSW, SAFE Coalition co-chairpersons,
106 South Perry St., Watkins Glen, NY 14891, or 607-535-8282.

Warning Signs of Suicide:
--Talking about wanting to die
--Talking about killing themselves
--Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
--Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
--Talking about being a burden to others
--Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
--Looking for a way to kill themselves such as searching online for materials or means
--Acting anxious, agitated or recklessly
--Sleeping too little or too much
--Withdrawing or isolating from family, friends and activities
--Giving away prized possessions
--Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
--Displaying extreme mood swings such as depression, loss of interest, rage, irritability, humiliation and anxiety.

The more of these signs a person shows, the greater the risk. Warning signs are associated with suicide but may not be what causes a suicide.

What to do if someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide:
--Do not leave the person alone
--Remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt
--Call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255)
--Take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.

Elizabeth Watson
SAFE Member

Teed running for Town of Dix Clerk post

To the Editor on July 5:

Hello. My name is Helen Teed.
I am a candidate for Town of Dix Clerk.
I have lived in the Town of Dix for over 40 years.
I have worked at the Town of Dix for 5 years -- 5 years as Deputy Tax Collector and 2 years as Deputy Clerk.
I helped reduce waiting time for paying taxes.
I brought back the DEC Hunting and Fishing Licensing.
I have extended Clerk Hours by covering Monday 1 to 5 and Friday 8 to noon, along with regular hours of: Monday 9 to 1, Tuesday and Wednesday 9 to 11:30, and Thursday 2 to 5.
I am dedicated to a continuing education of Clerk Duties:
--Have read the Town Clerk Book
--I am reading the Registrar's Book
--I am an Active member of the Chemung/Schuyler Clerk's Association -- for networking with the other Town Clerks
--I have attended several Town Clerk Conferences for State changes to duties.
--I attend all board meetings and take notes.


Thank you for your consideration of voting for me on November 7th, 2017!

Helen Teed
Town of Dix Clerk

Consider running for office yourself

To the Editor on June 20:

The 2016 election was a wake-up call for many of us. For me, the message was that our political system is broken by the undue influence of special interests and big-dollar donors, but the question I couldn’t answer was what I could do to fix it. There is no one answer that is right for everyone. Marching, calling, writing, or going to town halls are good responses, but I believe we also need many more people running for local office, or helping someone they know and trust get elected to local office.

Last year, I learned a few things when I saw the process up close and personal when my wife ran for City Council in our small city of Corning. First, at the local level, these campaigns don’t need to completely redefine your life -- it’s like many other things we do, like volunteering to coach your kid’s softball team. Second, like anything you do for the first time, it’s good to have a guidebook, so do a little studying before you start. Third, it isn’t something easily done without help, so get a team together. Fourth, you need money to run for office at any level, so have a good plan to raise money. Finally, and most importantly, participating in the process as a candidate or campaign volunteer is challenging, inspiring and exhausting, but absolutely worth the effort, whether you win, lose or tie.

My personal answer to November’s wake-up call has been to become the treasurer of Trailblazers PAC, a nonpartisan political action committee founded by Leslie Danks Burke that recruits and supports candidates for local office in New York and Pennsylvania. Our endorsed candidates must agree to raise campaign funding from small-dollar donors within their district and to disclose 100% of contributions. At Trailblazers, we believe that supporting candidates who commit to campaign transparency and grassroots fundraising will lead to quality representatives in government who will be responsible to voters like us, not anonymous, big-dollar campaign donors.

Please answer your wake-up call by considering running for office yourself, recruiting someone to run, or volunteering for the campaign of someone you trust. It’ll be worth every moment of your time and effort, and Trailblazers PAC is here to help.

Patrick Tepesch
Trailblazers PAC

Thank you from Ryan Pruitt's family

To the Editor on June 12:

This thank you note goes out to so many. The family of Ryan Pruitt #24 would like to send a sincere thank you to our church family at His Tabernacle for all the food and prayers. Pastor Spencer and Pastor Cody for the memorial service. Pastor Dan for the candlelight vigil, and many more.

To the Watkins Glen High School, Principal Kai D'Alleva and Superintendent Tom Phillips for allowing us to hold Ryan's memorial service at the football field and for making so many of the arrangements. To Tom Strong for providing his DJ services. To Ultimate Apparel on Franklin St., Watkins Glen for the many t-shirts that were made.

To Bettelynn Strong-Bravo and everyone involved in the fund raisers. To Vedder and Scott funeral home. To the many family and friends who sent cards, gifts and food. To all of the students at school, the football team, cheerleading team, coaches and teachers.

There is such a large outpouring of love for Ryan and his family that we hope we included everyone. It is truly amazing, what is being done in Ryan's name. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

David and Charlene Pruitt
Dede Labonte and Bill Tague

Alumni Banquet tickets are on sale now

To the Editor on June 10:

Tickets to the 92nd Annual Watkins Glen High School Alumni Banquet, to be held Saturday, June 24 at 5:00 p.m. at the Watkins Glen Community Center, are on sale now at Glen Mountain Market and Famous Brands or by contacting Peggy Scott at 546-8268.

Price is $25 in advance or with reservations, or $30 at the door. Frieda Scholtisek, Class of 1939, and Lawrence H. Field, Class of 1952, will be honored as recipients of this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

Three graduating seniors will also be awarded a total of $6,000 in scholarships. The banquet is sponsored by the WGHS Alumni Association and hosted by the class of 1992. All are welcome. Please join us!

Peggy Scott

Active bald eagle nest is in peril

To the Editor on June 9:

Did you know that there’s an active bald eagle nest in the Catharine Marsh between Watkins Glen and Montour Falls? Yes, you can find our national bird breeding right in our own backyard!

It’s also great news to hear that the Villages of Watkins Glen and Montour Falls are planning to build a new joint wastewater treatment plant. It is certainly needed!

The bad news, however, is that plans for the wastewater treatment plant place it within a couple of hundred feet of Schuyler County’s only active bald eagle nest. Apparently, there were 10 initial sites, but the worse one for the environment, located in the Finger Lakes' only remaining headwater marsh, was chosen. The fact that the marsh is an IBA (a globally designated Important Bird Area) and state-designated CEA (Critical Environmental Area) did not protect it from being selected!

Not only do bald eagles nest in the marsh, but also other rarities such as sandhill cranes, a newcomer to our state (google these birds -- neat to have in our area), and the least bittern, which is a threatened species in New York State, are also found in the marsh.

The NY DEC is accepting comments on the wastewater treatment facility application (Project Seneca Regional Wastewater Facility) until July 7, 2017.

If you think the wastewater treatment plant should not be located as is planned, write to
Scott Sheeley at:

NYSDEC Regional Headquarters
6274 E. Avon-Lime Road
Avon, NY 14414

You can give him a call also at (585) 226-2466.

To read more about the application, check out the NYDEC website: http://www.dec.ny.gov/enb/20170607_reg8.html#844240011100002.

Diane Karasevicz

Let's protect young lungs at play

To the Editor on May 30:

As a mother and an employee of Schuyler County Public Health, I am happy that our community has tobacco-free policies at the parks and playgrounds. I became concerned one day when I saw a parent smoking near the playground at a tobacco-free park. This is because children model adult behavior. When children see adults smoking in family-friendly places such as parks and playgrounds, they see smoking as acceptable.

In addition, secondhand smoke is harmful. Children exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to suffer from upper respiratory problems and ear infections. Secondhand smoke is especially harmful for children with asthma. There is no safe level of tobacco.

In addition, cigarette butts are hazardous; they are the most littered item in the world. Therefore, I was surprised that I did not find tobacco litter at the majority of the local parks that have tobacco-free policies in Schuyler County. This is great because that means small children are not exposed to cigarette butts, which they can pick up and put in their mouths, which can cause choking, burns, or nicotine poisoning.

The majority of tobacco-free public park policies in Schuyler County are largely self-enforcing. Some of the parks post adequate signage, which provides an opportunity to educate the community about the tobacco-free policy and allows individuals to handle tobacco use in the same manner as an alcohol or litter complaint that may occur at these facilities. The tobacco-free playgrounds that I am aware of are:

--Watkins Glen State Park
--Watkins Glen Elementary School
--Lafayette Park
--Clute Park
--Havana Glen Park
--B.C Cate Elementary School
--Odessa-Montour School

I would like to thank the citizens for keeping our parks clean of tobacco litter. Now I challenge you to reduce Schuyler County’s tobacco use rate of 22.3% down to 15%. There are resources available locally to help people reduce their use of tobacco. You can contact Schuyler County Public Health at 535-8140 for more information or the New York State Quit Line at 1-866-NY-QUITS.

Elizabeth Watson
Public Health Specialist
Schuyler County Public Health

Troop 50 of Odessa goes to Washington

To the Editor on May 27:

The Boy Scouts of America Troop 50 from Odessa, NY took on Washington D.C. from May 18-22, 2017.

The young men from Troop 50 are working on five merit badges -- Citizenship of the Nation, Citizenship of the World, Scouting Heritage, American Heritage and Journalism. As part of their requirements, the Scouts spent five days touring the country's capital.

Day 1: the bus trip to D.C., finding our hotel and preparing for a vigorous weekend.

Day 2: Covering over 50 miles on foot and learning to ride the metro and the buses of D.C. The Scouts visited places like the Capitol building, the Library of Congress and the White House, seen here in the background.

Day 3: A visit to Arlington National Cemetery to see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Changing of the Guards. The Scouts visited President Kennedy's final resting place and the Space Shuttle Challenger Astronauts' memorial. After lunch they went to The Spy Museum and to Madame Tussaud's, where they made wax hands.

Day 4: Troop 50 visited the Newseum to gather information for their journalism merit badge, and saw part of the Berlin Wall and memorials to 9/11. After lunch they went to the National Museum of American History and the National Air & Space Museum. Later that day came a visit to see the Pandas at the National Zoological Park. Along the way to those places, the Troop saw numerous memorials and monuments: the Lincoln, Washington and Jefferson, to name a few.

Day 5: The Scouts took a last-minute trip downtown for souvenirs before the bus ride home. Their journey doesn't end yet, though; they have the written essay portion of their merit badges to complete and be approved by the merit badge counselor.

The troop is looking forward to its next long adventure. The Scouts have several service projects throughout the community to complete before heading off to Camp Gorton this summer.

Don Smith
Assistant Scoutmaster

Calling all community choir singers

To the Editor on May 17:

Calling all singers to come honor our veterans on Memorial Day!

This year's Community Choir will sing at the service on Monday, May 29 at 11 a.m. at the Veteran's Memorial Park on Route 228 outside Odessa. Rehearsals will be Sunday evening, May 21 at 7 p.m. at the Odessa Methodist Church and Monday, May 29 at 10 a.m. at the park.

We will be singing "Battle Hymn of the Republic." For more information, you may contact me at 594-6565.

Kim Laursen

Philbin is running for County Clerk post

To the Editor on May 17:

My name is Theresa Philbin and I am proud to announce that I am running for the office of Schuyler County Clerk in the 2017 election.

I am currently serving as the Deputy County Clerk of Schuyler County, a position to which I was appointed upon the retirement of Joy Ector. I was fortunate to have Joy’s full support as her successor and trained with her for several months prior to her departure.

As many of you already know, Linda Compton has served diligently as County Clerk for the past twenty years and has recently announced her much deserved retirement. I am honored to say that Linda has expressed her sincere support for my candidacy.

Since my appointment I have made it my mission to maintain the integrity and respect for our community members that has historically been the hallmark of this office. During this time I have also worked side-by-side with Linda to actively assist in the progression of the technological advances our society demands. I have aided in the implementation of the new plastic Pistol Permit cards which are sturdier, longer lasting and more “wallet friendly” for our permit holders. In addition, in 2016 we launched our new on-line records database which we actively update making our Land Records more accessible to our community and the businesses that rely on this information.

As my campaign moves forward I will continue to focus on ideas for ways to better serve our residents while maintaining the core values which have made our office so respected in the County.

Your ideas, comments and messages of support are all greatly appreciated, and I invite you to contact me at any point in my campaign at Tphilbin4schuylercoclerk@gmail.com

Theresa Philbin
Deputy County Clerk
Schuyler County

Schuyler County Little Leaguers pose after last weekend's tournament. (Photo provided)

Tourney honors Tom Malina's memory

To the Editor on May 16:

Our Schuyler County Little League had a tournament on Friday and Saturday, May 12 and 13. It was the First Annual Tom Malina Memorial Tournament. Tom died on Sept. 7, 2015. His favorite activity was coaching Little League baseball.

We had two teams from Penn Yan, one from Newfield and two from Schuyler County. The two Schuyler County teams were in the playoffs, and the Schuyler County Maroon squad won 2-1.

Here are some pictures from the tournament of the two Schuyler County teams and members of the Malina family. We wanted the boys to play only for Tom; it wasn't about the trophy.

Coaches for Schuyler County were Carl Willett, RC Holmes, Dale Heichel, Jeff Fazzary and Brett Reynolds. The Little League board would also like to thank all of those people who volunteered on Friday and Saturday. All help was greatly appreciated!

Heidi Fazzary

Photo in text: Trophies were handed out after the tournament. (Photo provided)

The Mother's Club is alive and well

To the Editor on May 12:

I wanted to pass along a picture that was taken May 11 when the Mother's Club met to celebrate Mother's Day. During the meeting we realized that the Catharine Mother's Club was celebrating it's 70th Anniversary!

The organization was formed in the Spring of 1947 (just before the birth of Claudia Hubbell Roll (standing second from left in photo). In attendance at the May 11 meeting were Marion Roberts (103), Lois Hoffman, Claudia Roll, Louise Menzi, Jackie Wickham and myself. (Lois left before the picture was taken).

We thought maybe some of the folks around Odessa (readers of The Odessa File) would like to see that the Mother's Club is still alive. Although we're not as active as in our "earlier" days, we still get together to celebrate events -- birthdays, Mother's Day, Summer, Fall and Christmas!

Carmella Hoffman
Catharine Corners

Photo in text: From left standing, Carmella Hoffman, Claudia Roll, Louise Menzi and Jackie Wickham. Seated: Marion Roberts. (Photo provided)

I'll focus on what's best for the children

To the Editor on May 9:

My name is Tracey VanSkiver and I am running for a seat on the Watkins Glen School Board of Education.

I was born and raised here in Watkins Glen, and graduated from the Watkins Glen High School. I have a degree in American Sign Language and am a mother of three amazing kids. I have worked in Corporate America for Delco Remy, Spherion, Comcast and Cornell University in Human Resources. I have spent the last several years raising my kids as each one of them reached school age. Over the last four years, I have volunteered at the elementary school. This has recently led to employment as a monitor and aide. I'm also an active member of the PTO.

I believe that a school board must be receptive to the parents, staff, students and members of our community. The board must listen to input from all groups and evaluate the facts before making a decision. It is a board member’s obligation to be open and willing to collaborate with all members of the community, which includes the district employees. Anyone that approaches the board has the right to be heard and not just stand there and speak. A school board member must build public understanding, support and involvement. I believe a strong school district is the foundation of a strong community; therefore our community cannot be successful without the success of our schools.

As a board member, my efforts will be focused on what is best for the children in our community. Our schools are here to serve the educational needs of all of the children, and every child is as equally important as the other. Along with the students, board members need to work with members of the community, parents, and all district employees in order to be successful.

I believe a key issue for the school board is to help create a unified long-term vision for the district. Mapping a course that provides the necessary opportunities that students need to reach their full potential. The board is responsible for initiating and maintaining a structure that supports this vision, provides leadership, and empowers the staff. It is difficult to carry out a vision and provide leadership when a district does not have a solid long-term plan.

I strongly believe that we have outstanding teachers and staff working with our children. We must restore morale among all district employees and work to return harmony throughout. Education takes place in the classroom and the board's efforts must focus on enhancing and enriching the learning environment in each room.

By working together we can offer the knowledge to fulfill the educational needs of all children. We must focus on rebuilding and maintaining a district where students, parents, teachers, and staff feel they are appreciated and that they belong to something extraordinary.

I ask for your support by voting for me on Tuesday, May 16 at the Watkins Glen Central School.

Tracey VanSkiver

Photo in text: Tracey VanSkiver (File photo)


In memory of my Mom and her battle

To the Editor on May 9:

In memory of my Mom Janet (pictured at right), who passed away on Nov. 12, 2010 at Penn Yan's Keuka Comfort Care Home after a battle against cancer, Watkins Glen Wine & Spirits will be offering 20% off all wines this Sunday on Mothers' Day from 12 noon to 7 p.m.

Mom loved Keuka Lake and her friends at Harbor Club Marina in Branchport! I started Watkins Glen Wine & Spirits in her and Dad's memory, as they wanted me to be happy and productive in life. I couldn’t think of a better day to have this wonderful event!

You just have to bring your Mom, Grandma or a picture of them to receive the discount. We are also donating 10% of our net proceeds on Sunday to the American Cancer Society!

Please be a part of this special event. Thank you.

Bobby Kurz

Be sure to be safe on prom night

To the Editor on May 8:

With the month of May brings smiling faces on teenagers, gearing up for a highly anticipated event by most students in school: the prom.

A lot goes into prom planning: the dress, the tux, the flowers, the hair style, the friends, and the fun times. But please don’t forget to make sure one thing is planned for -- your safety. Being safe on such a busy and eventful night is key to making your prom night a memorable one.

Area schools are holding school-based events to educate teenagers on the importance of having a safe and fun prom night. Area police officers, and other community agencies/members, will be offering fun and safe activities, along with forums to illustrate what having a safe and fun prom night looks like. Emphasis is placed on having a night that consists of friends and fun, without the use of alcohol.

The main goal for schools it to provide an atmosphere for students that will allow them to have fun while maintaining a sober environment. Alcohol is one of the most used and abused substances among adolescents (next to tobacco), which becomes a dangerous and potentially lethal combination. By age 18, most adolescents report to having tried at least one drink. In 2015, some 7.7 million young people ages 12-20 reported that they drank alcohol beyond “just a few sips” in the past month (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism).

There are many things that parents and community members can do to prevent underage drinking from occurring. Some key points are: talking openly about the dangers of underage drinking with your teen(s), not making alcohol available, getting to know the friends your child hangs around with, making sure all parties are supervised, and talking with other adults/parents about sending clear messages in regards to the importance of not drinking.

Research shows that children whose parents are actively involved in their lives are less likely to drink alcohol. Don’t hesitate to have that conversation with your child(ren). Have fun, but above all else -- be safe!

Stephanie Wilcox
Prevention Educator
Steuben Council on Addictions

Responding to the cry of hunger

To the Editor on April 20:

The men and women of United Steelworkers Union Local 12460 heard the cry of hunger in Watkins Glen and responded in force. On Saturday, April 1, 2017, eight union members volunteered their time to serve at the monthly mobile food pantry held at Catholic Charities’ Schuyler Outreach. They distributed food to 95 households. That number included 56 children, 155 adults and 33 senior citizens for a total of 244 people.

In January, Schuyler Outreach Food Pantry put out a request to local businesses and service organizations looking for volunteers for the mobile food pantry that brings thousands of pounds of food to Schuyler County for distribution on the first Saturday of every month. The Steelworkers not only stepped up to the challenge, but took it one step further by holding a food drive, collecting 393 pounds of food and additional monetary donations.

Teams are still needed from July through December. Ideally, an organization brings 6-7 volunteers to help unload about 2,000 pounds of food at 8:30 a.m., unpack it on tables and then hand it out to people from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Cleanup is over by noon. We encourage volunteers to wear their company logos or even bring a banner and promotional materials.

If you are interested in bringing your team, please contact me directly. You can also visit Catholic Charities’ website or social media channels for more information.

Kris Morseman
Food Pantry Coordinator

Thanks for supporting Free Cone Day

To the Editor on April 19:

Watkins-Montour Rotary thanks the Schuyler County community for supporting Free Cone Day at the Watkins Glen Ben & Jerry's on April 4, 2017. Rotarians helped serve ice cream at the store and collected donations from patrons, totaling over $500! Thanks, also, to the Guilds for asking the Rotarians to be a part of the annual event.

The Watkins-Montour Rotary raises funds throughout the year to give back to community organizations, host Youth Exchange students here and abroad, coordinate the annual AMBA blood draw, send students to Boys State and Rotary Youth Leadership Conference, pick up trash roadside, help fund a camp for children with disabilities, support polio eradication worldwide, and more. New members are welcome!

Bill Phoenix
Watkins-Montour Rotary Club

GOP 'Spring Fling' fundraiser is April 22

To the Editor on April 11:

The Schuyler County Republican Committee would like to invite everyone to our annual "Spring Fling" fundraiser. The Spring Fling will be held on Saturday, April 22 from 5:30 - 9:00 p.m. at Logan Ridge Estates, which is located at 3800 Ball Diamond Road in Hector, NY. Logan Ridge is one of the premier event venues in the region, with impressive facilities, plenty of space and a stunning view of the lake.

Our keynote speaker for Spring Fling 2017 is Mr. Nicholas Langworthy, Chairman of the Erie County Republican Committee. Youthful at age 36, Mr. Langworthy is also highly experienced, having served as the Erie County GOP Chairman since 2010. As Chairman, he has re-energized and modernized the Erie County GOP, placing a major emphasis on growing grassroots support through digital outreach, while sticking to core Republican principles of smaller government, lower taxes and greater personal responsibility.

During Mr. Langworthy's tenure as Chairman, the Republican Party in Erie County has been growing, winning and leading, culminating in the election of a Republican majority to the Erie County Legislature for the first time in four decades. Mr. Langworthy's winning formula is worthy of emulation throughout the state, and he will be presenting to us his ideas on how to reinvigorate the party and restore the influence of Republican principles in New York State.

Bill Spaulding of Corning Catering will be providing a delicious appetizer buffet for the event, starting at 6:00 p.m. A cash bar will be available as well. Live and silent auctions will take place after our speaker has finished. We are once again honored that Corning Catering has donated a catered "surf and turf" dinner for 16 at the winner's location of choice within the region, but we will have many other items to bid on as well.

The cost of the event is $35 per person and $60 per couple. If you have a business or a group of friends who would like to attend together, Table Sponsorships with seating for eight are available for $250. Finally, I invite you to consider joining our "Chairman's Club," which provides a pair of tickets for both our Spring Fling and our Fall Dinner. For $110, it is truly "the best deal in town."

If you wish to purchase tickets, or would like additional information about the event, please call me at 607-398-0648 or send an email to GOPevents@zoho.com. Our event flyer is online at https://goo.gl/pmnP0T, or you can "like" Schuyler GOP on Facebook to see who is planning to attend. We look forward to seeing a big turnout for this most informative and entertaining event.

Mark Rondinaro
Events Committee Chair
Schuyler County Republican Committee

Kickball event was overwhelming success

To the Editor on April 3:

The Watkins Glen Faculty Association offers a hearty thanks for the support of our 1st Annual Kickball Classic and Family Fun Night. Our community’s generosity helped make the event an overwhelming success.

About 200 people attended the event to watch a hard-fought kickball game between faculty members in the elementary and high school. The ES team won 18-15 and the high school team wants revenge, so we look forward to the second annual event next year! We have our work cut out for us.

Thanks to contributions from several local businesses, as well as the generosity of our teachers and our community members, the WGFA raised $4,000 for the Ronald McDonald House Charities. We exceeded our modest fundraising goal and we are humbled by the generosity of our community. We thank the following businesses who donated money or provided donations for raffle:

McGillicuddy’s Bar and Grill, Walmart, Famous Brands, Castel Grisch, Reisinger’s Apple Country, Millport Landing, The Glen Theater, Seneca Sunrise Coffee, and Bleachers Sports Bar.

We look forward to working with you again next year. Thank you for taking part!

Travis Durfee
Watkins Glen Faculty Association

Underage drinking: a continuing problem

To the Editor on April 3:

As an employee of Schuyler County Public Health I am concerned about the underage drinking problem in Schuyler County.

According to the most current data, 47.6% of 7th through 12th grade students report using alcohol at some point in their life and 25.5% report using it in the past 30 days. Many young people in the county are using alcohol for the first time before they are 13 years old. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, research has shown that youth who begin drinking before the age of 15 are six times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse than those who begin drinking at the legal age of 21.

The Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking and Drugs (SCCUDD) would like to remind everyone that April is Alcohol Awareness Month. We want to continue to raise awareness about underage alcohol use. SCCUDD plans to continue its mission to decrease underage alcohol use by providing community members with information regarding youth alcohol use, its dangers, prevention tips, and providing support for alcohol-free youth activities and training for our youth.

I encourage people to learn more about the consequences of underage drinking and what they can do by following SCCUDD on Facebook or Twitter. SCCUDD will post facts, information, and tips each day in April.

If you or someone you know needs help because of underage alcohol use or you would like more information, you can contact the Finger Lakes Area Counseling & Recovery Agency (FLACRA) online at https://www.flacra.org or by phone 315-462-9466 or the Council on Alcoholism and Addictions of the Finger Lakes online at http://councilonalcoholismfingerlakes.org or by phone 315-789-0310.

For more information, or to become involved with SCCUDD, visit SCCUDD online at www.schuylercounty.us/sccudd, or follow SCCUDD on Facebook and Twitter.

Casey Allen
SCCUDD Project Coordinator

A Thank You from the basketball coach

To the Editor on March 29:

As I look back on this season, there are unquestionably many highlights. However, I must say the support of our community has had a big impact on our success. It has been said, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” This captures exactly what happened over this season.

Having the unwavering support of our families, the school, and the entire community pushed us to do our very best, to never give up, and to believe in ourselves even when faced with adversity. Because of all of you, we found the strength to rally from a 16-point deficit, to score 28 points in the fourth quarter, to leave the court champions!

I speak for the team and the entire coaching staff when I say we could never adequately express our appreciation for what the community has done for us. Every time fans filled the bleachers to cheer us on, they were contributing to our success. Each event that was organized to support us was humbling and left me so proud to be a part of this community. I’m sure I don’t even know all of the people who took their time to coordinate these events, but I do know that it was truly a community effort!

I am continually impressed by the level of community support my team, coaching staff and myself have received. Your hard work and dedication has not gone unnoticed. The generous outpouring has been overwhelming and it is greatly appreciated. We are so fortunate to be surrounded by such amazing people.

As a coach, I strive to teach my team lessons both on and off the court, but the lessons they had the opportunity to learn by watching their community rally in support of them are priceless. To see perfect strangers, multiple organizations, neighboring communities all come together in support of them ... that is truly an experience they will never forget and for that, I thank each and every one of you!

The Lady Senecas are proud to represent not only Watkins Glen High, but also the entire community each time we step on the court. Without all of your support, we would not be where we are today and we are beyond grateful for all that you do!

Alicia Learn
Girls Varsity Basketball Coach
Watkins Glen Central Schools

Local lifters excel at Henrietta meet

To the Editor on March 26:

World Natural Powerlifting Federation held a state Power Lifting meet in Henrietta, NY Saturday the 25th of March. A total of 57 lifters competed. The results involving local lifters are as follows:

* indicates state records, and all the lifters placed first. Records and places are set or broken by weight and age class.

--Brandon Beaumont, *squat 105 pounds, *bench press 90 pounds, *deadlift 200 pounds, *total 395 pounds.

--Tanner Dunham, *bench press 85 pounds, *deadlift 160 pounds.

--Matt Irwin, *bench press 110, *deadlift 200 pounds.

--Seamus Mooney,*bench press 75 pounds, *deadlift 200 pounds.

--Wrett Brower, *bench press 200 pounds, *deadlift 400 pounds.

--Wyatt Brower, *bench press 255 pounds, *deadlift 430 pounds

--Jeremey Brown, bench press 365 pounds, deadlift 570 pounds.

--Aaron Bower, *deadlift 350 pounds.

--Melanie Beaver, *squat 200 pounds, *bench press 130 pounds, *deadlift 275 pounds.

--Chris Clark, *bench press 160 pounds, *deadlift 315 pounds.

--Silas Farrell, *bench press 105 pounds, *deadlift 215 pounds.

--Ian Rossi, *bench press 265, *deadlift 405 pounds.

Four competitors were given best lifters of the day. Wyatt Brower and Jeremey Brown were each awarded one. Our lifters competed with determination and sportsmanship, cheering fellow competitors on!t!!

Ralph Diliberto

Photo in text: Front, from left: Tanner Dunham, Silas Farrell, Matt Irwin, Brandon Beaumont, Seamus Mooney, Ian Rossi, Melanie Beaver. Back, from left: Aaron Bower, Jeremey Brown, Chris Clark, Coach Ralph Diliberto, Wrett Brower, Coach Ward Brower, Wyatt Brower. (Photo provided)

Tobacco marketing still targets youth

To the Editor on March 24:

Cigarette use among teens is at an all-time low, at 6%. This is great progress, yet so much more needs to be done.

Just because teen cigarette use is down doesn’t mean tobacco companies have stopped trying to recruit youth as new consumers. According to the CDC, “In 2014, cigarette and smokeless tobacco companies spent more than $9 billion on advertising and promotional expenses in the United States alone.” Tobacco companies place most of their advertising in stores where 75% of teens shop at least once a week. Stores located near schools contain nearly three times the number of tobacco advertisements as stores not near schools.

Advertisements are only part of the problem, though. The actual products and their packaging are another way tobacco companies try to recruit new youth users. Many tobacco products are packaged in bright colors with fun fonts that make them resemble packages of candy. Actually, some of the products are even made to taste like candy, such as swisher sweets, and many e-cigarette liquids.

The tobacco companies and their executives know they need youth consumers to sustain their business. One representative from R.J. Reynolds said, “If our company is to thrive and prosper over the long term, we must get our share of the youth market ... thus we need new brands designed to be particularly attractive to the young smoker.” Sadly, R.J. Reynolds and other companies have succeeded in this. The average age of a new smoker is 13 years old and each year 22,500 youth become new, daily smokers in New York State alone. But the worst part is 5.6 million children alive today will die prematurely due to tobacco-related illnesses.

Tobacco companies obviously don’t care about our youth. Please take a stand against tobacco marketing by visiting www.seenenoughtobacco.org.

Gretchen Silliman
Concerned Community Member

What a weekend for entire community

To the Editor on March 22:

What a weekend for Watkins Glen Girls Basketball and the entire community! Coach Alicia Learn led the toughest group of girls I have ever seen to the Class C State Championship in what was an historic comeback! All was good in the Watkins Glen community. Then, we hit the road for the welcome home celebration. This is where it all began to rise to another level!

The community, and when I say community I am referring to the greater community, came together in a way that simply warms your heart. First, I would like to acknowledge the Ovid Fire Department and South Seneca Community. The Ovid Fire Department met the returning players’ bus and provided an escort from Ovid. The South Seneca Community, Girls Basketball players included, showed up in the street to welcome the State champions home. You talk about a Class Act! We all learned a lesson from that community! That is what community looks and feels like! Then, the Hector Fire Department, Watkins Glen Police, Schuyler County Sherriff, Burdett Fire Department, Watkins Glen Fire Department and the Schuyler County ambulance all escorted the Champions through the Village to their final destination, their home, the Field House!

To the Girls, YOU are ALL Champions! Your dedication and determination will serve as a model for future teams. Coach Learn, you provided the guidance and focus the girls needed at a time when many others (myself included) were too caught up in the moment. Clearly, your leadership along with the support of Coach Chaffee, Coach Morse and Coach Diliberto proved to be the foundation for the team’s confidence and success at the most critical moment of the season. Most importantly, you taught them a life lesson; “Believe in yourself and you can and will overcome adversity.”

To the community, we never travel this road alone. Without your support and belief in our children and school, this would not be possible! The Booster Club was incredible. In a very short period of time, with a few hands and dedicated supporters, they quickly put together a party for a couple hundred people! While the Girls brought home the State Championship, the community provided the support and acknowledgement that the girls deserved. You also taught the girls a life lesson: “Hard work pays off and people will recognize your efforts seen and unseen!”

I will end where I began: what a weekend for the Watkins Glen Girls Basketball team and the entire community. We all learned valuable lessons; but maybe the biggest lesson we learned ... Community matters! From the team’s accomplishment, the leadership and guidance of the coaching staff, the extraordinary example of Ovid and South Seneca Community, the fire departments, first responders, ambulance service and police/sheriff departments, this was truly a Class Act!!

Tom Phillips
Superintendent of Schools
Watkins Glen School District

In honor of the late 'Babe' Field

To the Editor on March 9:

ECO Stewart "Babe" Field was appointed to the position of Game Protector in Schuyler County, NY in 1957. He was a U.S. Navy Korean War veteran, having served on the USS Wallace Lind (DD-703). Prior to his appointment to the Conservation Department, he did a brief stint with the Watkins Glen Police Department.

I first met Babe in 1971 when I transferred from eastern Long Island to Chemung County. Babe was the go-to guy when it came to policing the well-known Catharine Creek rainbow trout fisheries that extended from Chemung County to Schuyler County. Many conservation lawmen who worked the Catharine Creek detail over the years were tutored by Officer Field on how to catch the fish poachers plying their trade along the waters of the great Catharine. His camp above Seneca Lake often was the command post for those assigned to the detail.

Babe adapted to the new role as an Environmental Conservation Police Officer over the course of his career and made a number of noteworthy environmental cases protecting the land and waters surrounding Seneca Lake.

One of the proudest moments in his career was his selection by the Shikar-Safari Club International as "Conservation Officer of the Year" for his work in protecting our state's wildlife and natural resources. As the captain for Region 8 at the time, I had the pleasure of accompanying ECO Field on the trip to NYS Safari Club representative Dr. Brandon Macomber's residence in Albany, NY for the award ceremony. Officer Field was presented this prestigious award and I still remember to this day how elated he was to be recognized by this organization and becoming part of this elite group of Conservation Law Enforcement Officers. It was not only a proud moment for Babe, but for me, his family and Region 8.

My heartfelt sympathy goes to his wife Marge and the entire Field family. He was a loving family man. Babe's wit, humor, and shenanigans will long be remembered by those who knew and worked with him.

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be known as the children of God." Rest in peace old friend, as you take your place as the Lord's Sentry at Heaven's Gate.

Retired Captain William V. Powell
Region 8
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

From the family of Bob Paradiso

To the Editor on March 7:

We would like to express our gratitude to the numerous wonderful and special people who were so important in making our brother Bob’s life comfortable and as pleasant as possible these past three years.

The support and company of his family of siblings and in-laws, cousins and numerous nieces and nephews; the support of lifelong friends; the numerous visits from his dear and longtime friends from Geneva, where he lived for 60 years -- these people made Bob’s days warmer and brighter on a regular basis.

The support, great care and great kindness of Dr. Paul Donnelly and Joyce Segar RN, at Arnot Health, was truly a gift, and enabled us to keep Bob comfortably at home.

The Watkins Glen Fire Department emergency response team, when called upon for help, always responded at once, providing professional assistance graciously.

The marvelous group of kind and compassionate people at Quinlan’s Pharmacy in Montour Falls, led by Mike Rosetti, Sandy Stillman, and Nancy Kinney, was always ready to help in every way that they could.

The Southern Tier CareFirst/Hospice organization, and their warm and compassionate Nursing Staff, offered us support, advice and care that was invaluable.

And finally, for these past 3 years, Bob had an unequalled staff of caregivers. Enough wonderful things cannot be said about them. First and foremost is our niece Kathy Paradiso, LPN, who devoted herself from day one to providing and ensuring nothing but quality, compassionate and professional care. As for Christie Standish, also with us from day one, there is no way we could possibly have managed without her. Her gifts are many. Jackie Bowen, always so dependable; Janice Potter, so very kind and gentle; Kellie Hoyt, great care and always with a smile; Viola Woodworth, who joined us later to share her years of experience; and finally, Larissa Mack, who joined us near the end, sharing her skills and compassionate care -- how fortunate Bob was to have each of them!

Our gratitude is beyond measure. To everyone mentioned above, and to all those who enabled them to assist us, we thank you, and then we thank you again.

The Family of Bob Paradiso

Undermining school spirit at WGHS

To the Editor on Feb. 28:

Pride in one’s school typically stems from several defining elements. Ask most people to recall fond memories of their youth and more times than not, school spirit seems to be the driving factor behind that "big game," "our senior trip," "those pep rallies," "homecoming parades," or "school dances." Students voluntarily participate in each of these activities by a common spiritual bond shared among them. It’s the reason many of us live through our kids who now attend the same programs we did so long ago or wear that high school paraphernalia well after we see our last day on the court. It’s taught us to become lifelong supporters of the colleges we attend and it’s what brings us back home to celebrate the trials and tribulations of youth at school reunions. In short, once school spirit becomes a part of us, we become members of an elite club that teaches pride in many other activities that we encounter in our lives. These qualities used to be an important staple in our Watkins Glen school system, but are now neither encouraged nor condoned.

For years, I’ve attended basketball games at Watkins Glen (both boys and girls) across the age group spectrum. They were once an energetic and exciting event propelled by a cohesive powerful student body known as the “Seneca Nation.” Resplendent with face paint, signs, chants and songs, it ensured that home games were an "event" not to be missed and it unquestionably helped our teams coast to victory and pressured the opposition. Parents and fans alike looked forward to the electric atmosphere, and the packed crowds on both sides of the court were left in awe. During one particular game, parents of the opposing team commented that "your student body is certainly alive and well here." That was four years ago, and those same parents would be shocked to see the abrupt turnaround from what seems to be a conscious effort by the administration to officially scalp school spirit.

School policy has now become an opportunity to provide the students with freely offered dictatorial in-game lectures on how to cheer, stand, and act appropriately. Rightly so, the student section once packed with a teaming throng is lucky to now have 20 kids in attendance. The ones who do decide to brave the abuse are usually found with the rest of the crowd by halftime, choosing instead to bury their heads in Instagram and Snapchat. In fact, crowd enthusiasm at this year’s varsity basketball games was at an all-time low. When pressed, the school administration will point to many excuses, including messes left in bathrooms, from face painting and in the stands, or the infamous Christmas Tournament court rush after the Moravia game, or perhaps one of the greatest sins of all, gasp: potentially offending someone. But rather than banish the act, in typical fashion, the administration has chosen the easy route by banning the action.

On Senior Night a few weeks ago, things appeared to be different. I was pleasantly surprised to see that a younger generation of Senecans lined the Nation student section complete with signs, shirts, and enough enthusiasm to get the crowd into the game. Most of them were 12 and 13 years old, the true youth of the sport who will eventually be filling the shoes of those on the court in just a few short years. Their confidence and excitement increased as the game progressed, and the team was visibly pumped up by the attention. While there was nothing offensive or disrespectful being chanted, the high school principal had apparently had enough and immediately put a stop to their efforts. The crime? Cheering for the home team and rooting against the other. The punishment? Yes, another Orwellian lecture. Way to go, school. Just like the Sullivan Campaign of old, you drove the Nation away again.

If this sounds like a regional epidemic, I can only say that by contrast, attending games over the past few seasons at the likes of Greene, Waverly, Lansing, Newfield, and countless others is far different. Opposing fans are typically greeted with a raucous, noisy, exuberant group of kids, cheering for their school and jeering the visitors. The home team is more than likely supported with an adornment of signs for favorite players, along with attempts to send the opposition packing with morale-depleting spirit fingers, shouts of "miss" or "air ball" and any other trick in their arsenal to provide that much-needed home field advantage. And isn’t this what it’s all about? In search of the popular catch terms of the day, Watkins fans did not appear to be "offended," "outraged" or "upset," but rather bewildered and quite frankly a little envious. "Remember when the Seneca Nation used to have this kind of excitement?" I ruefully commented to a nearby parent. "What happened?"

I attended the Watkins Girls sectional quarterfinal game on Friday and I was saddened to see the total absence of school spirit at a game that deserved a deafening home crowd. Here is a team that by all accounts deserves the full support of the student body, having compiled a very good season record. I sat there in disbelief and my mind raced. Is this what the administration and School Board were hoping for? Why do they think that political correctness is a healthier alternative to giving up one's school spirit or pride? Have we forgotten what it’s like to be young or the excitement that goes hand in hand with youth? Aren’t we embarrassed by empty seats and poor student turnout? But most importantly, and really what prompted me to write this opinion, I pointedly ask the Watkins Glen Central School District administration: What happened to your school spirit?

I’m sure my opinion will be refuted by saying that the school is simply trying to teach students about respect, sportsmanship and safety. I would find this condescendingly naive as most people would understand that there are limits. At this level, heckling, singling out specific players and obnoxious behavior should certainly be frowned upon. But how have we gotten to the point where collectively rooting for your team and against another is taboo? Isn’t the very nature of a sporting event an "Us against you" mentality? How does stifling exuberance help anyone deal with pressures in life? Has anyone from the administration ever been to a collegiate game?

One might think the effects of these edicts stop at the court, but this is far from the truth. Kids are reporting that interest in things like Spirit Week, dances, this past Senior Trip, and other typically popular pride-inducing events are down. The Homecoming parade was cancelled recently due to some "offensive themes" -- and rather than ensure that those themes aren’t repeated, I’m sure it just made sense to eliminate the whole thing, right? One student remarked, after another verbal beat-down at a recent game, "It just doesn’t matter anymore. There’s just no point."

There should be a lot of shame in what has transpired these past several years by an administration that has removed what could have been some of the fondest memories had by our young players and students. Its blindness and failure to see that its actions affect an entire athletic program, student body, and school speaks volumes, and I only hope that the Board might revisit its policies to recognize that pride and spirit are some of the most important traits that we carry throughout our lives.

John T. Smith
Watkins Glen
Go Senecas!!

Thanks to concession stand workers

To the Editor on Feb. 15:

This past weekend the Watkins Glen School District hosted the Section IV, Division II wrestling tournament. The Watkins Glen Sports Booster Club would like to thank several people who volunteered to help in the concession stand and made running the stand a complete success. The income from the concession stand provides funds to our athletic department in support of all athletes at Watkins Glen.

Our sincere thanks go out to WG Varsity Girls Basketball players: Emmie Bond, Makenna Fraboni, Taylor Kelly, Amanda Pike, Clara Chedzoy, Hannah Morse, Jazmin Shea, Kendra Larson, Julia Reilly, and Katlyn Kernan. In addition, other volunteers included Harold (Bub) Chaffee, Mary Wilson and Paul Horvath.

Without their help, our success would not have been possible.

If anyone is interested in joining the Watkins Glen Sports Booster Club, please feel free to check the WG website under athletics for meeting information or stop by the concession stand during an event.

The Watkins Sports Booster Club

ACA has helped insure millions of people

To the Editor on Feb. 15:

I will never forget the first time I cared for a patient who received a diagnosis of advanced cancer in the ER. She worked full time, but had no health insurance, and had put off going to the doctor’s office for her various symptoms in favor of keeping food on the table and clothing her children. This was before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) helped millions of uninsured people get health insurance.

As a Registered Nurse working in the hospital setting I am deeply concerned about the potential effects on our community of repealing the ACA. Thousands of people in Schuyler County alone will be at risk of losing their health insurance coverage. When people lack access to primary care, they often end up in the ER. This leads to overcrowding and long wait times, as well as compromising care for uninsured patients. ERs are equipped to deal with emergencies, not to do preventative care and manage chronic conditions.

Repealing the ACA will also reduce preventative care for those who do retain coverage such as Medicare. Colonoscopies and mammograms may not be much fun to get, but they sure beat having metastasized cancer. Diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol can be treated if caught early but can lead to major disability and even death if left untreated. Take away the ACA and you will take away these free screenings for seniors.

If the human cost of repealing the ACA doesn’t move you, what about the economic cost? The ACA provides funds to counties to help support Medicaid. Take away those funds, and how are counties supposed to make up the difference? You guessed it -- raise property taxes. At the national level, the ACA actually saves money. Take it away, and our national deficit gets even bigger.

I never learned what happened to the woman I met all those years ago in the ER. I hugged her while she cried, and then I wiped away my own tears and went to take care of the next patient. It was, as always, a busy day. I think it is unlikely she is still alive. I have to wonder, though, if the ACA had been in place when she first became ill, would she be?

Laura MacCarald RN
Hector, NY

Danks Burke not running for Congress

To the Editor on Feb. 13:

I am in the humbling and flattering position of receiving multiple calls to run as a Congressional candidate in New York’s 23rd district. As I believe in transparency, I want to respond to those calls immediately.

My 2016 State Senate campaign team and I were proud to garner 45% of the vote, well over the 32% Democratic voter registration in our 5-county district. The 58th State Senate district makes up about half the size, and a similar voter pattern, to the 11-county 23rd Congressional district. Earning 13 points over the base registration against a three-term Republican incumbent in a tough year for Democrats didn’t happen many places anywhere in the country. My team and I credit that outcome to our relentless focus on outreach to voters in all corners in our rural district, and it makes sense that people would think of my name when considering who will go represent us in Washington, DC.

Yet my heart lies with the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes and with the people of New York. My team and I haven’t stopped the hard work we put in during the 2016 cycle to build lasting change from the bottom up, to a political system that costs taxpayer money and rewards corruption at the top. I have launched Trailblazers PAC to invest the energy and resources of my 2016 campaign into candidates for local office across the state who stand against pay-to-play politics and corruption.

I am removing myself early from the field of potential Congressional candidates to clear the way for others who may wish to step in, for our political leaders to find and encourage those candidates, and to continue my work in funneling citizen energy into a grassroots base for a bright future. I hope to see a vigorous conversation unfold in the months ahead.

Leslie Danks Burke

We need Foreclosure Prevention funds

To the Editor on Feb. 7:

Catholic Charities of Chemung/Schuyler works hard to help families with children and individuals in Chemung and Schuyler counties and the region have decent, stable housing.
Since 2008 we have participated in the New York State Foreclosure Prevention Network -- providing counseling to 630 homeowners facing foreclosure, helping them understand their options and achieve affordable mortgage loan modifications to save their home.

We partner with the Legal Services attorneys at the Chemung County office of LAWNY to provide legal representation for homeowners in judicial settlement conferences and to defend foreclosures in court.

Funding for Foreclosure Prevention Services in New York State will end on September 30, 2017 despite the fact that foreclosure filings remain critically high across the state (34,000 new filings in 2016 and 72,000 pending foreclosure cases). Vacant and abandoned homes caused by foreclosure can turn into “zombie” properties that drag down property values and create unsafe conditions in our neighborhoods.

Catholic Charities and the entire New York State Mortgage Foreclosure Network urge the Legislature and Governor to invest funds to ensure the survival of the effective and highly trained housing counseling and legal services programs already in place in our communities. No local homeowner should have to navigate the confusing foreclosure process alone! For further information regarding Foreclosure Prevention Services, contact Jane Sokolowski at 734-9784 x2132.

Chuck Nocera
Executive Director
Catholic Charities of Chemung/Schuyler

We're standing up for public schools

To the Editor on Feb. 2:

If standing up for public schools is political grandstanding, then guilty as charged.

Betsy DeVos is an anti-public-education activist. She and her family have used their billions in wealth to undermine public education for decades in their home state of Michigan. She never attended public schools, nor did her children. She is unfit to oversee an agency that supports a basic American value, the common education of all citizens. In fact, just yesterday two Republican U.S. Senators announced their opposition to the DeVos nomination, something which should echo loudly in Schuyler County, a traditional GOP stronghold. These senators cited the thousands of responses they received in opposition to Ms. DeVos's nomination, and we thank them for their courage.

The WGFA is proud to stand with the members of the WGCSD Board of Education who stood in support of public education. It is the very nature of the public school system and democratically-elected school boards that even allows us to have this discussion; many of the charter schools Ms. DeVos has championed in Michigan are run by educational management companies that appoint boards of directors. These corporate boards are not accountable to the public and, as such, there is no free and open exchange of ideas, such as this one. We all know that public schools are not businesses, but social institutions, pillars of our community.

We support our public schools. And if voicing support in the face of efforts to privatize public education is political, then it is time for political action. The majority of our school board agreed. And we thank them for it.

Travis Durfee
Watkins Glen Faculty Association

Another BOE resolution objection

To the Editor on Feb. 1:

The following statement was read by Watkins Glen School Board member Mark Franzese at a special session of the Board on Tuesday morning, Jan. 31, regarding a resolution pertaining to the pending confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary. The resolution, detailed on the Schools page, passed 4-3, with Franzese and board members Keith Caslin and Barb Schimizzi opposed. A motion by Caslin to move the resolution to committee to provide time for the school attorney to study it was defeated 5-2, with only Caslin and Franzese in favor.

I agree with Keith Caslin's motion to move this resolution request to the Policy Committee to carefully consider this resolution so that we avoid any possibilities of violating any current school board policies or opening us up to future la suits and litigation.

We are here today because of an email that was sent to some of the school board members by the head of the WGFA ...

I for one have never watched a complete confirmation hearing of any presidential appointee and 1 feel confident in saying most Americans have not as well. We just learned of this proposed resolution to oppose the appointment of DeVos to Secretary of Education this weekend. Since I was out of town on vacation I have not had time to do any research on this nomination, so to render a decision in favor or against this resolution makes me very uncomfortable. I would venture a guess that most of my fellow board members have not been afforded that same time for research as well.

Let’s not make the same mistake some of our other local governing bodies have made in the past like the Watkins Glen Village Board or the Schuyler County Legislature made by weighing in on the politically charged topic of natural gas storage in abandoned salt mines -- something of which many of those elected officials had limited knowledge. Their decisions to oppose or approve such storage have resulted in protests that have resulted in tearing this community apart and costing taxpayer dollars to arrest said protesters.

Previous Secretaries of Education under previous administrations have not had glowing performance records -- one of which brought us the failed implementation of Common Core. We never drafted a resolution against their appointments and in hindsight we may have knowing what we know now. In my 43 years being part of this school district either as a student, taxpayer, parent or school board member, I never remember us drafting a resolution against a presidential nominee for Secretary of Education.

If this resolution is allowed to move forward, I am concerned how it might be perceived by the residents of this community. I believe we will alienate many of the voters that put us on this board and jeopardize passage of our capital improvement project. Furthermore, this board should be focused on our most important role, selecting a new superintendent. By focusing on those two efforts we will be accomplishing what the voters of this district expect of us and in the end the students of this district will be the beneficiaries of our focus for many years to come.

After all, isn't that what we are here for, the students? Not to pass a resolution that seems like nothing more than political grandstanding by the head of the WGFA and a couple of board members who chose to be influenced by his email.

Mark Franzese
Watkins Glen School Board member

A School Board resolution objection

To the Editor on Jan. 31:

The following statement was read by Watkins Glen School Board member Keith Caslin at a special session of the Board on Tuesday morning, Jan. 31, regarding a resolution pertaining to the pending confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary. The resolution, detailed on the Schools page, passed 4-3, with Caslin and board members Mark Franzese and Barb Schimizzi opposed. A motion by Caslin to move the resolution to committee to provide time for the school attorney to study it was defeated 5-2, with only Caslin and Franzese in favor.

Good Morning. Today I sit here and ask myself how did we get here. I have thought long and hard about the reasons that we are here today, and I have thoroughly researched the nomination for the Secretary of Education in question. I have looked at her experience or lack of in public education, special education, or with students with disabilities.

All members of this board know that I research as much as I can when making decisions that will have an impact on the children of our district. Being a member of the Policy Committee, I also have a further responsibility to ensure that we are within the parameters of the policies that this board has approved and put into place. On Sunday night, I placed a call to Superintendent Phillips asking him to contact Mr. John Lynch, our school attorney, about page 168 of our policy book which covers motion to refer to committee.

As a board member, it is our responsibility and duty to stay neutral when it comes to topics that are brought in front of the board. We make tough decisions that have impacts upon the youth in our district. Sometimes our vision may become blurred because we do have such strong feelings for the success of every student in our district. This may be one of those times. For the first time ever that anyone can remember there are a few board members who think that this board should address a Political Appointment or try to block that appointment. This is not our job; our job is to remain neutral. I have heard members say that this is not a political thing, but any action by this board that has the perception, again the perception, of being political is wrong. I respect every one of your opinions, and I would challenge you: If you do not like what is going on, then act as individuals and write your representatives and express your opinions.

Just last night I was sent yet another Resolution proposal to talk over. This one was drawn up by a fellow Board Member. First, I want to say thank you to her for taking the effort to clarify and reword this document; I appreciate her efforts on such a heated topic. But I must reiterate: We do not pass resolutions until they have been looked at by our School Attorney, John Lynch. That’s why he is on retainer, to protect our district, and that’s why we pay him to look over all our policies and procedures. If we were to act and make a hasty decision, this could leave the school vulnerable to further action.

Furthermore, we have all seen what happens when politics play into education with the introduction of the disastrous Common Core implementation or the possible appointment of a person without any educational experience such as Betsy Devos. Once we open this door and decide, it will spiral out of control. We will leave our district wide open and unprotected. This board knows all too well how that feels when wrong decisions are made, leaving the district without any other options or protection.

We should be devoting our time and energy right now to the superintendent search that we have undertaken, with this being one of the most important things that a school board does, and to the capital improvement project that we will be putting to our taxpayers in March, and stay out of politics.

With that I have referred through the superintendent to our school district attorney, John Lynch, and have reached out to the New York State School Board Association for guidance, and now I have only one recommendation to this board: Let’s do the right thing. I am making a motion to move this issue to Committee, so that the board members that you, the Watkins Glen School Board, selected can further investigate, draft, and propose policy that will protect us, our students, and our community.

Keith Caslin
Watkins Glen School Board member

Congratulations to Hoop Shoot winners

To the Editor on Jan. 28:

We have once again completed our local hoop shoot contest for the annual Elks Hoop Shoot sponsored by the Watkins Glen Elks Lodge 1546. Students from the Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour School Districts competed after preliminary hoop shoots at their schools/communities.

The following kids placed in their respective age categories:

8-9 yr. old girls: 1st -- Rachel Vickio (WG) 9 of 25; 2nd -- Anna Franzese (WG); 3rd --Giavanna Cinelli (WG).
10-11 yr. old girls: 1st -- Jenna Solomon (WG) 14 of 25; 2nd -- Carly Arnold (WG); 3rd -- Gina Gavich (OM).
12-13yr. old girls: 1st -- Aislinn Klemann (WG) 19 of 25; 2nd -- Abby Congdon (WG); 3rd -- Mackenzie Cannon (OM).

8-9 yr. old boys: 1st -- Nick D'Alleva (WG) 15 of 25; 2nd -- Connor Foggie (OM); 3rd -- Chris Simiele (WG).
10-11yr. old boys: 1st -- Ryan Thompson (WG) 13 of 25; 2nd -- David Kelly (WG); 3rd -- Ben Heichel (OM).
12-13yr. old boys: 1st -- Mitchell Pike (WG) 24 of 25 (highest we have ever had at the local contest); 2nd -- Dylan Morse (WG); 3rd -- Keith June (OM).

All age group winners were going on to compete at the District level Hoop Shoot held in Penn Yan.

There are over 1 million kids who compete annually in the Elks Hoop Shoot contest. Our local winners go on to compete in District contests with subsequent winners going on to State, Regional and then the National contest held in Sprinfield, Mass., to determine a National Champion in each age category.

The Watkins Glen Elks Lodge would like to thank the Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour school districts for their continued support and assistance with the Hoop Shoot. We would also like to congratulate all the competitors on their success and wish our winners good luck in the next round of competition.

David Waite
WG Elks Lodge Hoop Shoot Director

Photo in text: From left, Nick D'Alleva, Ryan Thompson, Mitchell Pike, Hoop Shoot Director David Waite, Aislinn Klemann, Jenna Solomon, and Rachel Vickio. (Photo provided)

Express your concern about library cuts

To the Editor on Jan. 27:

Governor Cuomo has reduced State Library Aid by 4.3% in his 2018 Executive Budget. He also eliminated $130,376 in Construction Aid for libraries in Allegany, Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben and Yates counties. In total, he has cut $191,760 to 48 Southern Tier libraries.

Residents should be disappointed. In 2015, our libraries received nearly 1.1 million visits, loaned 1.7 million materials, provided programs to 150,000 attendees and offered Internet access 200,000 times.

Conservatively, this is a $36 million savings to residents. What a great return on investment considering public money for all 48 libraries adds up to $6.6 million.
Comparatively, the least funded school district in our region has a $6.6 million budget.

Libraries are the smallest fraction of community investment. They represent 1% of total property taxes. Moreover, State Library Aid is 1/10 of 1% of the State Budget. Quite frankly, these funding levels are not enough for Southern Tier libraries to keep pace, but it shows how little we invest.

The Governor's library spending is off target. All libraries fall under the NYS Education Department. It is unfortunate he calls for a 4.3% cut to libraries, while increasing school aid by 3.9%. Please understand libraries support school investment. However, libraries are part of education infrastructure. There is a reason 160,643 Southern Tier residents hold library cards.

Moreover, libraries support economic development. Since 2014, the Southern Tier Library System has partnered with county government and Southern Tier Network to build a broadband fiber network connecting communities to Internet speeds exceeding NYS Broadband Standards. Twenty-five of 48 communities will be connected through their library in 2017.

This project is important because it marginalizes barriers to Internet for rural residents. It also supports businesses, agencies and governments by reducing costs and driving necessary infrastructure. One third of this project is funded by NYS Library Construction Aid, which the Governor intends to reduce. The remaining costs are covered by the federal government.

Despite some skepticism, libraries are thriving. They may be underfunded, but their impression on communities continues to grow. This is why library budgets pass with an average approval rating of 68%. Where else can you go to access computers, WiFi, music downloads, 3-D printers, eBooks, yoga or cooking classes, music concerts, lectures, book discussions, art shows, story time and digital instruction? The list goes on.

Southern Tier libraries also warehouse 1.9 million materials made available to all communities through delivery services. Ironically, of the 1.7 million materials checked out by residents, eBook usage only accounts for 10%. Anyone who thinks the Internet can replace library services is mistaken. Research indicates library users continue to depend on non-digital resources.

If you have been to a library recently you understand their educational, cultural, technological and economic value. But you also see funding shortfalls preventing libraries from meeting their potential.

What can residents do about the Governor's proposal? They can contact their elected officials to express concern. Contact information is available by visiting www.stls.org/advocacy-resources. Your representatives will be glad to hear from you, and I know your library will return the favor in immeasurable ways.

Brian M. Hildreth
Executive Director
Southern Tier Library System

Too few handicap spots at Field House

To the Editor on Jan. 24:

I would like to publicly ask the Watkins Glen School District why they will not address the issue of the lack of Handicap Accessible parking at sports events. As everyone knows, there are a lot of sports events that take place at the indoor Watkins Glen Field House. And for those attending these events, access for safety reasons is restricted to the doors in front of the Field House.

My question is why are there only two -- yes -- two Handicap Accessible parking spots? When I called the school and asked about this, I was told that the school has followed the guidelines outlined by the state for parking and handicapped parking and meets the requirements. Well, maybe for the amount of staff and students that attend the school during the day. But obviously not for sporting events or after-school activities.

In the last week I have attended two sporting events and have had to walk great distances to gain entrance to the events, causing me much physical discomfort and pain. The school district should take into account that there are not only many seniors handicapped in the community, but also other people who have valid handicap parking that attend school functions and that our needs for closer parking are not being met. I even suggested why not put up temporary signs to meet the after-school events' handicap parking needs.

This may not seem like a big deal to them, but for people like myself, being able to attend events to support children who are friends is important to me. Being able to not be exhausted, out of breath and fatigued because I had to walk a long distance would be even better.

Kerri Jaeger
Watkins Glen School District resident

Thanks to all who helped on tournament

To the Editor on Jan. 16:

The 2017 Mike Watson Invitational wrestling tournament was, again, a great success. The reason why this tournament is one of the best events around is the support the program receives from parents, community businesses, volunteers, and wrestling supporters in general.

This year over 220 athletes competed from 19 different teams. I would like to say thank you to everyone who contributed to the success of the event. Without the support from our WG community, this tournament would not be the premier event that it is. THANK YOU!

Nils Watson
WG Wrestling

4-H program gets grant for project

To the Editor on Jan. 15:

Our 4-H program has been awarded a grant from Cargill that will provide the 4-H Deus ex-Machina Robotics team the opportunity to mentor a community service project in our local 4-H program and the community that focuses on both STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) and Civic Engagement. Both STEM and Civic Engagement are two areas that are cornerstones to 4-H Youth Development, and the Hand Challenge project presents the perfect project to connect both.

The Hand Challenge came to life by three students (elsewhere) who addressed hands on, real life solutions utilizing STEM, and the students have been hard at work to spread the word throughout the United States and other countries. Their challenge is simple: if you have a 3-D printer we invite you to create a prosthetic hand for a child in need in a Third World country. The students provide the technical specifications and when you are done with your prosthetic hand you send it to them. They are working on the details of uniting hands with children who are in great need. For additional details regarding the Hand Challenge please visit www.handchallenge.com

Locally our 4-H Deus-Ex Machina First Tech Challenge (FTC) Robotic Lead Mentor and Coach, Roger Ort, heard about the Hand Challenge and presented the idea to our 4-H Program and the FTC team. There was a great deal of excitement and engagement in mentoring younger 4-H youth, and sharing the Hand Challenge project with the Schuyler Community; the only barrier was the 3-D printer. In the late fall we submitted a proposal to Cargill for the purchase of a 3-D printer that would provide the 4-H program the opportunity to participate in the Hand Challenge. We recently found out that we have been awarded the funds that will assist with the purchase of a 3-D printer and materials. We will receive our check at Cargill on Monday, January 16 at 2:30 p.m. Our 4-H Deus ex-Machina FTC members will share their metal robot with Cargill staff as part of our check receiving ceremony.

Cornell Cooperative Extension
of Schuyler County

Tribe football receives grant from WGI

To the Editor on Jan. 12:

I just wanted to pass along some exciting news with regards to football here in Schuyler County. As a part of the RACE Foundation Grant (Race And Community Enhancement from Watkins Glen International), the Schuyler County Tribe, the feeder program for the Seneca Indians football team of the Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour High Schools, was awarded a grant worth $1,500!

This generous contribution will provide the youth league with the ability to purchase new helmets and shoulder pads for the 2017 season. On behalf of both the Schuyler County Youth and Seneca Indians football programs, I would like to thank WGI for its thoughtful consideration in awarding this grant to the Tribe.

Trevor Holland
Seneca Indians Football

Photo in text: Front row from left: Cayden Confer, Isaak Willett, Ryan Willett and Dominick Fazzary. Back row from left: Coach Carl Willett, Coach Jeff Fazzary, Coach Trevor Holland and WGI President Michael Printup. (Photo provided)

Thanks to all for your generosity

To the Editor on Jan. 9:

We at Catholic Charities would like to wish all of you a peaceful new year and to extend a heartfelt thank you for the generosity and countless acts of kindness that we have witnessed and received throughout 2016.

With your help, Catholic Charities of Chemung & Schuyler Counties was able to share the gift of hope this Christmas season with 630 families and their children. Special thanks to Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield, local parishes and many business and community partners that made Christmas possible for so many.

In addition, we would like to share the names of those honored at our recent Annual Meeting, our Business Partners of the Year: Treu Office Supply & Furniture, Tops Friendly Markets in Chemung & Schuyler Counties, Walmart in Schuyler County and Americrown.

The Business Partner Award is presented annually to companies that consistently support Catholic Charities’ antipoverty efforts.

Charles Nocera
Executive Director
Catholic Charities of Chemung/Schuyler

Apologies for a future we helped create

Dear Future Great Grandchildren:

It is January 2017, a new year. The first thing that comes to mind to tell you, who are living about 100 years from now, is that I am sorry. Your world is different, and harder, and it is our fault.

We sat here and watched as the global temperature and the seas rose, the violent storms increased, the ice at the polls melted and the oceans sickened. We knew what was causing it and what to do about it, but we were too complacent, preferring instead to kick the problem to the next generations (yours). We were not willing to sacrifice our comforts and conveniences. Plenty of money was being made from our addiction to an easy lifestyle and the "fossil fuel economy." An addiction worse than any drug because it was accepted, even encouraged, by our society. We called it progress.

Those who were making the money did whatever they could to hide the truth. Consumption was encouraged, lies were told, politicians were bought. Some people tried to stop it, but their voices were lost. The efforts that were made were always too small, and our leaders could never summon up the courage to do what had to be done to ensure a healthy world for the future.

I hope the people of your generation will find the strength and wisdom to correct our mistake. Our legacy to you is a problem that is many times worse than the one that we refused to address.

Satanta Satank
Richford, NY

Project Seneca holds annual meeting

To the Editor on Jan. 9:

The Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development (SCOPED) will lead the review of 2016 activities and planned initiatives for 2017 for Project Seneca. Project Seneca is a world-class sustainable/livable community redevelopment effort that will drive regional economic growth through investment in targeted initiatives along the southern shore of Seneca Lake and throughout Schuyler County.

Project Seneca was conceived in 2012 as an effort to revitalize the lakefront in Watkins Glen, New York. Its first project, upgrading and relocating the wastewater treatment plant, became the impetus to enlarge the concept plan to include additional economic development efforts in the Village of Watkins Glen, along the Cayuga & Seneca Canal and in the Village of Montour Falls. As a result, Project Seneca became the umbrella effort under which multiple initiatives would be implemented over a 10-year period.

In order to create a consistent, area wide economic development message, Project Seneca is now the brand for all economic development efforts in Schuyler County including initiatives within all four of the historic village downtowns, Towns, Camp Monterey, Economic Clusters (Fermentation, Value-added Agriculture and Hospitality & Tourism), the Schuyler County Business Park and the Montour Falls Business Campus.

About 60 area residents attended the annual Project Seneca meeting that was held at the Harbor Hotel on Monday, Jan. 9, at which various related projects were outlined.

Judy McKinney Cherry
Executive Director

O-M students who helped wrap gifts for The Arc of Schuyler. (Photo provided)

O-M students provided holiday kindness

To the Editor on Jan. 7:

We had about 25 student volunteers from Odessa-Montour High School at The Arc of Schuyler before Christmas wrapping more than 200 gifts for people with developmental disabilities who receive residential supports!

They did an awesome job. It's wonderful to have youth in our community who are willing to give of their time to give others a great Christmas.

The Arc of Schuyler

Thanks from Arc for holiday kindnesses

To the Editor on Dec. 16:

As the holiday season comes to an end, The Arc of Schuyler would like to express our thanks to the many generous businesses, organizations, and individuals who help make this a wonderful holiday for people who receive services at The Arc and their families.

The Watkins-Montour Rotary Club continues to sponsor an annual holiday party at the Montour Moose Lodge -- an event where people with disabilities, their friends, and families enjoy time together with food, friendship, and music donated by A Walk on the Wildside Entertainment. St. Mary’s of the Lake parishioners generously donated gifts to nearly 50 people who reside at Arc homes. Supporters who donate to The Arc also helped provide gifts that inspire joy and gratitude, and students from Odessa-Montour High School volunteered their time to package and wrap presents for Christmas morning.

While many of the people we support are fortunate to be able to spend time with their families during the holiday, many others do not have that opportunity. The compassion and philanthropy of our big-hearted Schuyler County community has an incredible impact on the lives of people we support, showing how much they are cared about and reminding us all that Schuyler County is a great place to live. Thank you all for being a friend to The Arc and supporting a community of inclusion and kindness.

Michael E. Stamp
Arc of Schuyler Board President

Seneca Santa gifts still being accepted

To the Editor on Dec. 16:

Seneca Santa is accepting new, unwrapped gifts/toys for children between the ages of 0-12. The drop-off is any time before December 20th at the Schuyler County Sheriff's Department.

We appreciate your donations. For financial donations, the mailing address is PO Box 22, Watkins Glen, NY 14891.

We help provide Christmas gifts for Schuyler County families that can use the extra help.

Deborah Simpson

Odessa church plans Vespers Service

To the Editor on Dec. 8:

The Christmas season is upon us, and the Odessa United Methodist Church warmly invites you to share in their 68th Annual Vespers Service on Sunday, December 18 at 4:30 p.m. at the church in Odessa.

This candlelight service tells the Christmas story in exquisite music and traditional Bible readings. Featured songs performed by the choir include "The Shepherd's Lamb" by Elmira native Dan Forrest and one of the most beautiful settings of "O Magnum Mysterium" by Morten Lauridsen.

Danielle Rumsey and Kim Laursen will perform Patrick Hadley's "I Sing of a Maiden," and Mary Wolfe will offer prelude music on the piano. Rick Price accompanies the choir, and Eric Asperschlager of Burdett will be the reader. Please come if you are able.

Kim Laursen
Choir Director

SLPWA is different from GFS & WASL

To the Editor on Nov. 25:

Kirk Peter’s November 20th letter against Crestwood does the group Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association (SLPWA) a disservice, when he lumps them in with the two groups Gas Free Seneca (GFS) and We Are Seneca Lake (WASL) as joint protectors of Seneca Lake.

My position is that GFS and WASL adopted a "save Seneca Lake" stance only as a vehicle to promote their core purpose: to stymie any part of the carbon-handling industry. They rabidly pursue that goal, even though it penalizes society greatly through lack of adequate northeast USA storage capacity for LPG.

Both GFS (5 years old) and WASL (2 years old) are Johnny-come-latelys on the lake-protection scene. Both groups are composed of anti-carbon zealots with Ithaca roots and funding through Ithaca’s Park Foundation, and others. They ride the coat-tails of SLPWA. They have hijacked SLPWA’s 25-year concern over lake-chemistry deterioration as if it was their own. I understand the anti-carbon zealots took over the leadership of SLPWA group for a period, until saner heads recently prevailed. That would explain the 2015 newsletters that I received which were filled with anti-Crestwood rants.

If they really were concerned about saving Seneca Lake, they could organize their foundation-funders to fund building new high-efficiency sewage treatment plants at all communities around the lake. And most of them could just stay close to home, save the gas, and rail against Ithaca’s own sewage nutrients into Cayuga Lake.

GFS and WASL have worked overtime to connect Crestwood’s proposed LPG-storage facility with lake pollution in people’s minds, while saner heads at the state’s Department of Conservation have concluded from facts that the facility presents no threat.

Years ago I saw lake-expert Professor John Halfman warn that nutrients are the true long-term threat to the lake. Those incoming nutrients made this the first year that I’ve ever seen an algae-bloom in front of the "Painted Rocks" cliff area near Watkins Glen. It is not any salt plant causing that -- salt is not a bacteria or algae nutrient. And LPG cannot pollute the lake, because it is immiscible with water. Any leak would vaporize, dissipate and blow away with the wind.

I saw in the Star-Gazette that notable governance and business groups (Schuyler County Council of Governments and Business Council of New York) have called on the governor to issue the necessary DEC permits. It is about time.

Now, the holiday season is upon us, and once again we can see the many people who have left town for jobs elsewhere. It is time that Watkins Glen residents had jobs here, instead of having to leave for greener pastures.

David Crea

Mr. Crea is a technical professional at US Salt (owned by Crestwood), but says he acts on his own as a private, concerned citizen when jumping into the fray over LPG storage.

Odessa featuring Shop Small Saturday

To the Editor on Nov. 22:

I wanted to take a minute and talk with you about the Shop Small Saturday that will be taking place on November 26th in the Village of Odessa. I have worked very hard in the last week to get amazing people together for our community to shop local and get that unique gift for that someone on their Christmas list.

From the hours of 10 a.m.-2 p.m., the shops along Main Street will not only operate their businesses with amazing discounts and gift ideas, but other local vendors will offer handmade items. We will have someone who designs wine glasses at Odessa Wines and Spirits; she will have items on hand to sell, but will also do custom orders. In Sidle’s insurance building we will have Pampered Chef, Jamberry nail wraps, Signature Homestyles and Pink Zebra. In the barber shop you will be able to find handmade fleece blankets and 31 bags. On the street you will be able to find the Odessa-Montour senior class selling baked goods to help raise funds for their senior trip

Also on this day, the village with be having its tree-lighting ceremony at the Municipal Building, with free hot dogs and hot chocolate. While people are shopping at Small Business Saturday, they can pick up a card and get it stamped by Mayor Keith Pierce at the tree-lighting ceremony and have the potential to win 10% off Simply Your Best services and receive another 10% off any wine purchase at Odessa Wines and Spirits.

I hope that next year with more time that we can make this event into our Annual Village Christmas. With the help of the community and amazing business owners, I am hoping for a wonderful new tradition that will bring the community together.

Alyssa Wixson
Vice President, SCT Computers
Partner, Odessa Wines and Spirits

Members of the Watkins Glen Powerlifting Club and the hardware they won at the meet. (Photo by Don Romeo)

Powerlifting Club hosts its first meet

To the Editor on Nov. 20:

Watkins Glen Powerlifting Club hosted its first meet today in the Watkins Glen High School Field House. It was sanctioned by the World Natural Powerlifting Federation. Thirty-two lifters participated, 10 of whom represented the WGPLC. Results from our Club:

1. Cam Holland: 90-pound bench press, state record; 185-pound dead lift; first place.

2. Brandon Beaumont: 75-pound bench press; 190-pound dead lift, state record; second place.

3. Dylan Markley: 100-pound bench press, 200-pound dead lift, both state records; first place.

4. Madeline Williams: 75-pound bench press; 230-pound dead lift, state record; first place.

5. Melanie Beaver: 175-pound squat, 125 bench press, 250-pound dead lift, all state records; first place.

6. Chelsea Socha: 145-pound squat, 135-pound bench press, 265-pound dead lift, all state records; first place.

7. Wrett Brower: 200-pound bench press; 365-pound dead lift; second place.

8. Wyatt Brower: 245-pound bench press, 380 pound dead lift, both state records; first place.

9. Jeremey Brown: 400-pound bench press, 600-pound dead lift, both state records; first place; best dead lift of the day.

10. Ralph Diliberto: 355 dead lift, state record; first place.

State records and placement is according to weight and age.

All of the lifters performed well, and the sportsmanship was outstanding.

Ralph Diliberto

Photo in text: Ralph Diliberto on his way to a state record. (Photo by Don Romeo)

Schuyler Hospital thanks United Way

To the Editor on Nov. 20:

On behalf of Schuyler Hospital, we would lke to thank the United Way of Schuyler County for all of the support it has given to us over the years. United Way's generous donations have helped us to purchase various items of equipment and upgrade a number of services over the year. United Way is a valued partner of Schuyler Hospital.

We would also like to acknowledge the 62 Schuyler Hospital employees who support the United Way of Schuyler County on an annual basis.

As the largest employer in Schuyler County, we are grateful for United Way's support. We would also like to thank it for everything it does to benefit all of us in Schuyler County.

James B. Watson
President, CEO
Schuyler Hospital

Too many risks and no benefits

To the Editor on Nov. 20:

Crestwood’s plan to store LPG in the salt caverns of Seneca Lake and turn our area into the northeastern hub for gas storage has been met with resistance by thousands of people, local businesses, area governments, and three grassroots organizations for the past few years. The relentless mission of this Texas Corporation has caused quite the uproar as concern for the environment, public safety, health care, water quality and protection of our tourist industry has mounted. Our grassroots movement defies the notion that a giant corporation gets to hijack the quality of our lives and boss our community around. Still, it has been a long journey and everyone is tired. What does one do with this level of fatigue?

Do we look at Crestwood’s recent concessions and call it a day? Do we sit back and hope that the integrity of the caverns is not compromised? Do we ignore Crestwood’s clean air violations and trust that our most vulnerable citizens will not have their health compromised? Do we take a seat and hope that our tourist industry is not compromised? Or do we stand strong and maintain vigilance and protection of our lake and our community? I suggest we do the latter.

Three grassroots organizations are essential in the safeguarding of Seneca Lake:

--Gas Free Seneca has been a powerhouse in research, education, community building and legal action. Gas Free Seneca is not engaged in civil disobedience. For anyone to suggest otherwise is disingenuous.

--We are Seneca Lake (WASL) has been a tremendous organizer of community action and has been key in maintaining a consistent presence against the gas storage project. Members are from all around the Finger Lakes and beyond. From the most renown national environmental activists such as Bill McKibben and Sandra Steingraber to our local farmers, winemakers, health care providers, and businesses, all have played significant roles in preventing Crestwood from having its way with our lake and our community. Their activism is to be applauded. Democracy depends upon the activism of its citizens and it is no small thing to stand strong for our community, our lake, our air. Criticism of protesters as hypocrites for engaging in the use of fossil fuels is just silly. We all recognize that we have not yet achieved independence from fossil fuels and it is the good work of environmental activists that is moving us towards that goal. You can advocate for school reform and still go to school. You can advocate for improved health care and still go to the hospital. You can advocate for tax reform and still pay taxes. And you can advocate for alternate energy while using petroleum-based energy products.

--Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association (SLPWA) just celebrated its 25th anniversary with 200 people attending and thanking the elders who held an early vision of just how essential the protection of our water is. SLPWA has been a quiet and steady force in protecting Seneca Lake. Our cadre of water and stream observers are vigilant in their work, and their monitoring reports are essential for our public health and community welfare.

Seneca Lake’s salinity levels (75-80 mg per liter) are above the EPA guidelines (20 mg per liter) for drinking water. These levels are significant and pose a health threat to our community. Harmful algae blooms have been identified in Seneca Lake and these pose serious danger to our health. These blooms release toxins that can cause damage to the liver and other organs.

The storage of LPG along the shores of Seneca Lake poses too many risks and no benefits and the most recent EPA findings against Crestwood’s violations of the Clean Air Act expose the very real threats to our region. SLPWA is the voice of Seneca Lake and leads efforts to monitor and protect Seneca Lake as a source of drinking water, tourism, and recreation. Whether our concern is agricultural runoff, sewage, salinity, or gas storage, we need to keep investigating, educating and urging public policy that fiercely protects our water.

Kirk Peters, DVM

The real experts are the regulators

To the Editor on Nov. 15:

The Department of Environmental Conservation’s water experts have no problem with storing propane at US Salt. A lake expert has said that gas storage is not pushing salt into Seneca Lake. Even the new head of the volunteers known as The Voice of Seneca Lake has said their past fight against gas storage was more about supporting Gas Free Seneca than an objective decision to fight something known to harm the lake.

Groups like Gas Free Seneca have convinced people that gas storage will destroy the lake. Those against fossil fuels and climate change will go to great lengths to make others believe them, but misleading residents is wrong. Being vocal and finding "experts" willing to say anything to help their cause does not make these groups more knowledgeable than the real experts -- the regulators.

It is bad enough that arrested gas protestors are making me pay higher taxes than I should, but it’s a travesty to lose businesses because a few people who love the spotlight tricked residents into believing one story before the real experts gave us the non-fiction version.

Ray Morrissette
Watkins Glen

I will let your voice be heard in the town

To the Editor on Nov. 9:

I want to start by first saying I am very humbled to be elected to the position of Town of Dix Council. It was a journey I never saw myself taking. But as I look back I am very glad I did. I have met a lot of great people while out campaigning, some of you with concerns on the state of the Town and County. I ensure you I will work hard at meeting your expectations.

I would like to thank the voters for the support you gave me on Election Night. Your voice was heard and I will let it be heard in the town. I would also like to thank a few key supporters of mine who helped me spread the word of my campaign. The first is my wife for her support and help. The others are my mother, sister Renee and brother Judson. They all worked hard in helping me with this outcome. It was a true family effort.

To Mr. Purvis, you did a good job running your campaign with integrity.

Once again, thanks to the voters for showing the faith in me to lead you in this Town. I am much honored to do so.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any of your concerns.

Dominick Smith
Town of Dix Council

Grateful to the people for this journey

To the Editor on Nov. 9:

I am deeply grateful to the people of the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes for the tremendous journey we have taken together. While this is not the outcome we had hoped for, I am proud of our strikingly strong performance on a night of historic voter turnout.

There is no doubt that the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes has roared for change, with thousands of people standing together to force a real dialogue on getting our fair share, cleaning up Albany, and standing up for jobs, schools, and farms.

This is the beginning of a new era for our region. No longer will we settle for the status quo in Albany. Our leaders now have the powerful asset of an engaged electorate, and it will be up to us and to them to determine how that power gets used.

There are so many people who gave their time and hard work to make this possible, and it is impossible to thank them all enough. I especially acknowledge my truly incredible campaign team. I am proud and humbled to have had the resounding support of labor, standing for good-paying jobs and a fair deal for working people.

I thank all of our endorsing groups, the Working Families Party, the Women’s Equality Party, our five County Democratic chairs and all the hardworking committee members who worked tirelessly -- there’s something very special about the Democrats in red counties, and I am honored to stand with you. I thank all of the thousands of volunteers across the spectrum who telephoned, knocked doors, and worked ceaselessly for change -- your work is building a movement that will last far beyond this race. Finally, I thank my husband Cody and my daughters for throwing their all into this race with me. You are my world, and I love you.

I congratulate Senator O'Mara on his victory. For too long, our district has suffered from Albany's rampant corruption and a power structure that sends money downstate at our expense. Senator O'Mara has the power to change that, and I look forward to working with him in whatever way I can to help restore honesty and integrity to our state legislature.

Leslie Danks Burke

Thanks to the voters for their support

To the Editor on Nov. 9:

I deeply appreciate this vote of confidence and support from the voters of the 58th Senate District. We had a full discussion of the key challenges, crises and issues facing the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions -- from agriculture to manufacturing, from education to transportation, and from job creation to tax relief -- and I'm grateful to the voters for responding so positively and strongly to the case our campaign built on the foundation of my commitment, experience and record.

It's a great honor to continue representing the 58th District, and a great responsibility. I'm excited about continuing the important work we've started together.

State Senator Tom O'Mara

Thanks to United Way for its support

To the Editor on Nov. 9:

Thanks to the United Way of Schuyler County for its commitment to helping families throughout the county. Its support will assist Catholic Charities in fulfilling its mission to build a just and compassionate society rooted in the dignity of all people by reducing poverty, promoting healthy individual and family life, collaborating with the faith communities and advocating for justice and peace.

Catholic Charities' Schuyler Outreach program receives funds to assist in providing food and other services to those in need. Funds received can purchase food through the Food Bank of the Southern Tier at a lower cost, which increases the buying power of monetary donations. At Schuyler Outreach, individuals and families receive access to services -- including the Nutrition Outreach and Education Program, health insurance coverage and emergency financial assistance.

Without the support of the United Way of Schuyler County, these services would not be provided on a regular basis at Schuyler Outreach. We would not be able to serve an average of 536 individuals each month without United Way support. The children, seniors and families that we see are able to receive emergency food because those in Schuyler County give through United Way.

Thank you, United Way, for supporting Catholic Charities' Schuyler Outreach, which benefits those in need in our Schuyler Community. It truly is amazing what we can do together.

Debbie MacDonald
Agency Director

Leslie Danks Burke believes in us

To the Editor on Nov. 6:

We need the honesty, integrity, and focus of Leslie Danks Burke. We no longer accept that back-room politics and big money get to determine our education, environment, and economic decisions. We have the opportunity to elect a woman of impeccable integrity to the male-controlled NYS government where cronyism, outside interests, and outside money have dominated the decisions that affect our quality of life.

In Leslie, we will have a senator who will not accept any outside income. She will work to change the law so no elected official is influenced by outside money. While outside money lines the pockets of our officials, we cannot be assured of legislation that represents our best interests.

Leslie is fiercely devoted to quality education, restored infrastructure, clean energy, small businesses, and farming. You are going to be so pleased by the good work she does. Please join me in voting for this smart, energetic, and ethical candidate who believes in us.

Marie Fitzsimmons

Vote for John White for Town Board

To the Editor on Nov. 3:

Please vote for JOHN WHITE on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016.

I have known JOHN WHITE for three years, since we both entered politics and ran for Schuyler County Legislature.

I have interacted with, and observed JOHN WHITE substantially during those three years. He gets things done no matter how unpleasant, and is truly a "Man of His Word." He epitomizes the adage, "Once a Marine Always a Marine," which he was for six years.

Fundamentally, he is an honest, hardworking farmer in the very best tradition of those self-made men and women who have been the foundation of this great country since the colonists escaped the tyranny of the British King. JOHN WHITE epitomizes that tradition.

JOHN WHITE is a man of action who is straightforward and tells you what he believes and what he will do. Importantly, JOHN WHITE studies the issues and then actually executes on what he said he will do!

JOHN WHITE will continue to do so as a council member on the Hector Town Board.

JOHN WHITE is fiscally responsible and will "hit the ground running" because of his experience and familiarity on the Hector Town Board, his lifelong familiarity with the local community and also his four terms on the Trumansburg School Board, which he has served faithfully and extremely effectively.

JOHN's experience and perspectives on the major issues facing Hector, from clean water to tax reduction, will definitely have a positive material impact.

JOHN WHITE should absolutely be returned to the Hector Town Board.


Van A. Harp

Vote for Barton for Hector Town Board

To the Editor on Nov. 3:

An important election is coming to Hector residents, and we must all consider the candidates seeking election to our Town Board. A need for an honest and caring individual is vital to Hector’s future. It is my opinion that Bob Barton meets that need.

He cares about the needs of the citizens of Hector. He cares about the land, the air and the water that is needed for everyday life, and he works to protect it, as he does for all Hector residents.

On November 8, 2016, please join me in voting for Bob Barton: an honest and humble man who really does have the best interests of the citizens of Hector at heart.

Debra Reid
Town of Hector resident

Thanks to Reed for helping our business

To the Editor on Nov. 2:

Sometimes in government common-sense and legitimacy can prevail. The fact that I am able to write this letter today while listening to the sounds of welders, fork-lifts, and clanging metal in the background, is testament to this. Much of this can be directly attributed to Tom Reed and his outstanding staff.

Our company manufactures the Econoburn advanced high-efficiency, low-emission, wood gasification boilers at our factory in Northern Chautauqua County and have worked with NYSERDA for nearly a decade to "raise the bar" for advanced, and clean, wood heating in New York and beyond. Sometimes being "advanced" can work against you, especially if there is not a U.S. EPA-recognized test method that you can conform to, and new looming EPA regulations were about to take effect in less than a year.

Ultimately, NYSERDA and Brookhaven National Labs (U.S. DOE) were instrumental in developing a relevant test protocol that we were ultimately successful in passing. However, we still needed U.S. EPA recognition in order for us to stay in business. We were given a time for a teleconference with the White House Office of Management and Budget in January of 2015 to plead our case for our company’s survival.

Being scientists and businessmen (not politicians), we knew we needed support from our elected federal officials to help communicate effectively on this important call to the White House. Only Tom Reed’s office responded to our request for help. As a result we were successful in getting our points across and our boilers EPA Certified to the new 2016 regulations.

We can still hear the sweet sounds of welders, fork-lifts, and clanging metal today thanks in great part to Tom Reed and his staff.

Thank you for being a friend to U.S. manufacturing.

Mark Odell
Vice President
Econoburn LLC
Brocton, NY

Thanks to all who made dinner a success

To the Editor on Oct. 24:

Thank you to all those who helped make the annual United Way of Schuyler County pasta dinner a success. Mike Donnelly and the Montour Moose Club do an outstanding job year after year. The Board of Directors all pitched in sharing duties with students from the Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour school districts.

Co-chairs Dr. Ben & Marian Saks raised over $400 on the 50/50 drawings. And special thanks go to Judy Phillips, who donated her winnings back to United Way. Ruth Powers and Bonnie Seeley helped with tickets at the door. In addition, Bonnie graciously donated all of her "clowning for charity" monies to United Way this year. Volunteer help from Sally Hill, Dustin and Dalton Cummings, Brandon Jones, the Erdman family, Kathy Gillette and Jan Granston contributed greatly to the overall success.

We are especially appreciative to all those who purchased tickets for the dinner and ate their meal at the Moose or took it home to enjoy. It's a real pleasure to see so many people enjoying themselves while raising money for a most worthy cause. United Way helps support 24 agencies by raising $123,000 and giving it back to our local friends and neighbors. Dollar figures are not yet available, but we do know we served approximately 420 dinners.

On behalf of the Board of Directors and the 24 non-profit agencies, thank you all very much.

Peggy Scott
Executive Director

United Way has helped support agency

To the Editor on Oct. 24:

It is with appreciation that this letter is being sent, for many families in Schuyler County have benefited from United Way support given to the many agencies who reach out to others.

The phrase “United We Stand,” though not initiated for its causes, is certainly exemplified with all that the United Way stands for and all that it has accomplished.

Today, I write on the behalf of Mustard Seed Ministries, a social agency that the United Way has given funds to for many years. This support has allowed us to expand our assistance from Western Schuyler to all of Schuyler County. We would be remiss if we did not send our gratitude to this helpful agency and also to the many people who contribute to the United Way through their workplace or through fund raisers.

On a personal note: because Mustard Seed Ministries is a Schuyler United Way Agency, we make it known that employees in the Southern Tier may designate MSM for their contributions. Its number is #4688.

Anna Erdle
MSM Outreach

Seasoned Seniors of Schuyler County: Group still meeting after all these years

To the Editor on Oct. 24:

The Seasoned Seniors of Schuyler County is a loosely-structured organization which has been meeting for over 20 years, in some form or other. Originally known as the “Odessa Luncheon/Discussion/Fine Arts/Round Table Society” (and still often informally referred to by its acronym,  “OLD FARTS”), this group has evolved over the years into a tightly-knit group of loving and caring friends from throughout the Schuyler County community and beyond.

Established in February of 1996 by me (retired Odessa-Montour Central School teacher, Bonnie Seeley), and former Odessa Baptist Church Pastor Randall Stone, its origin stemmed from a desire to include/assimilate the residents of the (at that time, brand new) Sydney Place Apartments into the Odessa Community. That initial intent was never fully realized, but something much better evolved.

In the early years, Seasoned Seniors met twice a month, on the second and fourth Fridays. Luncheons were either Brown Bag, Soup & Sandwich, or Dish-to-Pass. Being only 46 years old at the time, I was nicknamed the group’s “Youth Advisor.” I did most of the prior planning, contacting of seniors, and any preparations for each and every meeting.

Before long, the Seniors decided that one of their get-togethers each month would have some kind of musical motif -- guest entertainment. Over the years we have been entertained by “The Elmirans,” “Dancing Grannies,” “The 12th Street Players” (a group from the Arc of Schuyler County), Caricaturist Jon Haeffner, and students from the OMCS Music Department.

One September we celebrated “Back-to-School Days," with some folks bringing their high school yearbooks and reminiscing about “the good old days.” One of our late former members, Bernice Raisley, a retired school teacher in her 90s at the time, shared pictures and stories of teaching in a one-room schoolhouse in Nebraska in the early 20th century.

We’ve had programs pertinent to the aging process … the sharing of a number of programs and materials available to seniors from our local library … Office for the Aging programs on Disaster Preparedness, Identity Theft, and Self-Defense. The group has not only provided entertainment for participating seniors, but also age-appropriate educational opportunities.

The second meeting of each month involved doing community outreach, as a way of sharing our Joy of Life with others. We sang for the residents of The Falls Home … made small holiday gifts to share with those unable to get out and attend luncheons … shared leftovers from holiday luncheons with shut-ins.

November and December have always been reserved for sharing a holiday meal. “I’ll fix the turkey, and y’all bring the fixin’s for a magnificent holiday dinner” has been heard from the "Youth Advisor" on many occasions. 

Additionally, for Thanksgiving sharing, folks bring canned goods and other non-perishable items to share with the Food Pantry at the First Baptist Church of Montour Falls. December sharing, after the holiday meal, takes the form of Seniors decorating a small Christmas tree with (often hand-made) hats, scarves and mittens to be distributed by Seneca Santa to Needy Youngsters throughout Schuyler County.

Many magnificent memories have been made over the past 20+ years. We have never charged any dues. If money is needed to help defray any cost involved with programs, some kind fellow in the group has always been willing to share his hat, so a free-will offering could be collected.

Faces have changed over the years ... more wrinkles and dimmed eyesight. A number of “my” Seasoned Seniors have migrated to “The Great Beyond.” We’ve lost some who can never be replaced, and have found new characters to join our ranks. We’ve built mountains of memories and shared laughter and tears, good times and bad.

We are planning to meet this Friday, October 28th, at noon in the Community Room of the Odessa Municipal Building/Firehouse, for a "Hilariously Healthy Halloween Happening." Folks who plan on attending should bring a brown bag lunch and their own beverage. I am bringing some spooky snacks and a delicious dessert. Lunch will be followed by some Eerily Exciting Entertainment. (Costumes are optional!)

Anyone wishing for further information is asked to contact me, Bonnie Seeley, at 607-594-2588 or 607-426-6025. Also, call me if you would like to attend, but have no transportation, and I can see that you are picked up and returned home safely.

Hoping to see you Friday! No tricks, just terrific treats!

Bonnie Seeley

A commentary on the Sports Awards

To the Editor on Oct. 24:

So awards are no longer given out to Outstanding Athletes or MVPs. How sad is it that trying your hardest, being your team's most valuable player, or being voted by your peers as the team's sportsmanship award-winner, is gone.

I still treasure the fact that my track-and-field coach, and my basketball coach, thought high enough of me to nominate me for such an award. Sometimes an award such as this one can spark an athlete to continue with his or her endeavor of a sport, or to become a coach of the sport they love. No sports awards? Ridiculous, and political rhetoric.

Kenny Depew

Why we decided to discontinue awards

To the Editor on Oct. 19:

In light of the discussion held at the Watkins Glen School Board meeting on October 17, we, the Watkins Glen Sports Booster Club, felt it necessary to provide the reasons the decision to discontinue sports awards was made.

1. Cost -- The awards last year for three seasons were just under $1,000. This money is now included in our $5,000-a-season commitment to sports at Watkins Glen.

2. Coaches' Input -- We reached out to many coaches for feedback on their feelings regarding the awards. None of the coaches we spoke to supported the awards and were all in agreement that discontinuing them was a good idea.

3. Attendance -- NEVER have we had a night where every winner was present.* We did not see much team support at the event, either. Fall awards night always conflicted with a team practice of a winter sport. During winter awards, the athletes involved in the school play could not attend. By the time Spring Sports rolled around, attendance was very, very small.

*The new baseball coach last year, Mark Kimmerly, stood and gave out three awards -- however, not one of the recipients was in attendance!!! Since the Spring Awards night was held after all sports that season had ended, the poor attendance was based on a lack of interest, not conflicts with other sports.

4. Significance -- We have coaches who feel it necessary to provide every player an award. Five MVP's on a team? We had 2 MVP’s on a team last year -- however, only one has a plaque; the other winner never received a plaque because it was up to the coaches to pay for any additional plaques. The practice of being sure every senior on a team received an award became the norm. Coaches created their own awards to be sure every senior had won something. Student athletes have commented that the honor of being chosen for an award is so diluted by this theory that the entire ceremony has lost its meaning.

5. Time -- It takes hours to get all of the parents of winners notified*; it takes phone calls, emails, even Facebook Messenger to get to a parent with such short notice. Many coaches have to be hounded to provide the list of their winners. Many times, those names were received the day before or even the morning of the awards. And after all the hours of calling and contacting, many of the recipients fail to show up.

*Two years ago: we contacted an athlete's parents to attend based on the list the coach had given us and the coach changed the MVP pick at the awards ceremony, leaving the student that was contacted with nothing.

6. Volume -- The prior athletic manager provided the Booster Club with a list of school athletic awards at the end of the year. It was two pages long. There are many other avenues where our athletes are regularly recognized: The Odessa File's Athlete of the week and seasonal All-Stars and MVPs; ESPN's Athlete of the week; WETM, Star- Gazette and Review and Express coverage, and the Board of Education's end-of-season excellence recognitions, to name a few. We had to take a long, hard look at whether these additional awards were even necessary. We felt it was the coaches' obligation to provide a “job well done” to their athletes on an individual basis.

We did not make this decision lightly. Discussions were begun just after Fall sports awards in November 2015 as to whether we should continue them or not. We spent months doing our research, getting as much input as we could from student athletes, parents and coaches. At meetings, attended by members of the athletic department, we kept up the discussion and continued to reach out and get more and more feedback. It was a decision made based on all that hard work and effort. We tabled the vote on discontinuing twice to be sure we were making the right decision. That vote was done in August, coaches were notified at the start of the season and there had been nothing negative said regarding these awards until the board meeting on Monday night.

The Booster Club made an educated and well-thought-out decision. It was made in the best interest of athletes at Watkins Glen to allow us to promote and support them with the $15,000 we have committed to them annually.

We firmly believe our money and our time is much better spent elsewhere.

Nancy Fraboni, President
Caroline Simpson, Vice-President
Valerie Carocci, Treasurer
Christina Rekczis, Secretary

Please support United Way of Schuyler

To the Editor on Oct. 19:

As United Way of Schuyler County kicks off its annual fund drive this month, The Arc of Schuyler would like to acknowledge the work of the dedicated volunteers who for so many years have brought together members of the community, businesses, and the nonprofit sector to positively impact people’s lives in Schuyler County. United Way has the unique role of providing a coordinated fundraising effort to support more than 20 health and human service agencies serving Schuyler County.

The Arc of Schuyler’s vocational training division, Glen Industries, appreciates the support of United Way. This funding has allowed us to continue to offer people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities opportunities to learn work skills and earn an income. This is a highly valued service that has been underfunded and requires fund raising support to continue as a viable option for people.

United Way is a trusted organization that recognizes the needs and supports of Schuyler County. Contributing to United Way is an easy way for people to make a difference in their community. Please support United Way of Schuyler through participation in their events, through your employer sponsored giving program, or by making a direct donation to United Way, PO Box 270, Watkins Glen, NY 14891.

Thank you for the important work you do, United Way. The Arc and Glen Industries sincerely appreciate your investment in our community.

Jeannette Frank
Executive Director
The Arc of Schuyler

Perhaps Tom Reed needs a nickname

To the Editor on Oct. 11:

It looks like Tom Reed has taken a page out of the playbook of his political BFF, Donald Trump, by giving John Plumb a cute nickname. Maybe we should think of a nickname for Tom Reed.

We could call him “Tea Party Tom” because Reed has joined his Tea Party extremist buddies in voting 60 times to overturn the Affordable Care Act, even though he knew that each and every attempt was a waste of time and bound to fail.

We could call him “Do Nothing Tom.” After all, Reed and his buddies have been part of one of the most unproductive Congresses in our country's history.

Maybe we could call him “Unpopular Tom” because, as of September, Congress had an approval rating of 20 percent, which is actually up from its low of 13 percent earlier this year.

Perhaps we should call him “Woman-Hating Tom” because of his refusal to withdraw support from Donald Trump, even after Trump admitted to sexually assaulting women and getting away with it because he was “a star.”

I do know one name we should not be calling Tom Reed in January -- Congressman.

Bob Recotta

Early learning services vitally important

To the Editor on Sept. 16:

There is a new movement underway in NY State that seeks to raise community awareness about the importance of affordable and high quality child care for all families. Within this region it is being led by Child Care Aware of Steuben and Schuyler, a Program of Pro Action, Inc. Pro Action, Inc. is a Community Action Agency and has been serving families in Steuben and Yates for over 50 years.

As a community we must become keenly aware of how important quality early learning services are for our children, families, communities, state, and our nation. What is astounding is the amount and speed of learning that is going on in the amazing brain of an infant or toddler. From the moment they are born, children are learning. During the first three years a robust child’s brain is bursting, growing at the rate of 700 neural connections per second! During the first four years of life, 85% of their brain architecture is completed! Making sure small children are cared for in a safe and healthy environment while their parents are at work or school is certainly our first priority. But it is not enough. We want and need young children to thrive, and that is much more likely to occur when a young child’s day is filled with Quality. Study after study has shown that what happens during these first few years will have a profound impact on the rest of that child’s life. This is where our investment needs to be! A child whose early years are filled with quality early learning experiences is more likely to be ready for kindergarten, to be proficient in reading and math by the 3rd grade, to graduate from high school, to succeed in higher education or job training, and to become a valued member of our work force and community tomorrow. When our children thrive, our communities thrive.

The United to Promote Quality campaign coordinated by Child Care Aware of Steuben and Schuyler is just the first phase of a statewide Quality Investments for Children initiative. We are asking this community to learn more, act more, and invest more in Quality. This is not just a noble cause, it is a critical challenge we need to take on as a community now, if we are to be a thriving community tomorrow. http://www.earlycareandlearning.org/quality-investments-for-children.html

Carla Hibbard
Child Care Aware of Steuben and Schuyler

Candidates' fair-pay positions sought

To the Editor on Sept. 10:

NYSARC, Inc. chapters in Schuyler, Chemung, and Steuben Counties urged State Legislative candidates this month to make their positions known on fair pay for direct support professionals by participating in a survey sent by the #BFair2DirectCareCoalition.

The Coalition is formed by seven organizations, including NYSARC, Inc., jointly advocating for increased wage funding for this highly trained workforce that provides critical supports and services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The answers to these questions are critically important to people with disabilities, their family members and friends, and more than 110,000 direct care workers in New York State.

There are thousands of voters in the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions who will decide how to vote based on the candidates’ responses to this survey. The issue of fair pay for Direct Support Professionals was first introduced during the 2016-17 state budget process. Forums were held across the state to educate lawmakers and community members on the potentially devastating effect of raising the minimum wage in New York State without also giving not-for-profits who provide services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities additional funding to cover the increased pay.

NYSARC, Inc. and its chapters -- The Arc Schuyler (arcofschuyler.org), The Arc of Chemung, and The Arc of Steuben -- will soon be sharing the results of this survey on their respective websites with voters in their communities. We received positive feedback from Assemblymen Phil Palmesano and State Sen. Tom O’Mara during the 2016 budget process and are hopeful that they and Leslie Danks Burke, who is running against O’Mara for the 58th State Senate District, will support this initiative for people with intellectual and development disabilities and people who support them.

Michael E. Stamp
Board President, The Arc of Schuyler
Resident, Montour Falls

2016 Hackers & Wackers thank you

To the Editor on Sept. 10:

On behalf of the United Way of Schuyler County's board of directors and the agencies that they help support, thanks to everyone who contributed to the success of this year's Hackers & Wackers Golf Tournament.

First and foremost is John Franzese, committee chair, and his fellow committee members: Sarah Matthews, Mike Learn, Esther Heichel, Stacey Parrish, and Aimee Churchill.

Just as important are all those who contributed gifts, were sponsors, the players themselves, and Greg Coon. Early numbers indicate over $6,000 was raised and more is expected.

On a very personal note, I am so grateful to John Franzese for bringing this tournament back. I remember when, with the exception of member/guest tournaments, we were the only one in town. Competition for limited revenue sources continues to increase, but the need for United Way services and its mission have remained the same.

I genuinely wish I could personally thank each and every one of those who contributed, and especially thank the golfers who have remained true supporters of United Way of Schuyler County. All of your efforts are greatly appreciated!

Peggy Scott
Executive Director
United Way of Schuyler County

Thanks for support on swim fundraiser

To the Editor on Sept. 5:

To Community Members: Thank you so much for supporting the Lake Swim Fundraiser for the Watkins Glen High School girls varsity swimming and diving team. All of our swimmers and divers made it across Seneca Lake and even had a smile on their faces at the end. We raised a significant amount of money that is going to offset the cost of the swim suits that the swimmers have to purchase.

We would also like to thank the Schuyler County Sheriff's Office and the Watkins Glen Police Department for providing the sheriff's boat to help us ensure the safety of our swimmers. Thank you also to Marian Saks, Molly Schamel and Liz Millhollen for providing a boat to help the swimmers stay safe. We are looking forward to making the community proud this season.

Nikki Chaffee and Kim Suddaby

Chateau LaFayette Reneau nets honors

To the Editor on Aug. 12:

We at Chateau LaFayette Reneau are proud to share news of the winery's many 2016 New York Wine & Food Classic awards. An estate winery founded in 1985, it is committed to celebrating the diversity of the Finger Lakes by farming some of the best grapes in the region and producing a long list of award-winning wines.

Known as “The Oscars” of the New York wine and food industry, the 2016 New York Wine & Food Classic took place August 8-10 at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel. Chateau LaFayette Reneau received the following awards.

2015 Late Harvest Riesling -- DOUBLE GOLD
2015 Dry Riesling -- GOLD
2015 Semi-Dry Riesling -- GOLD
2013 Syrah -- GOLD
2014 Chardonnay, Barrel Fermented -- SILVER
2012 Cabernet Sauvignon -- SILVER
2013 Pinot Noir -- SILVER
2013 Meritage -- SILVER
Seyval-Chardonnay -- SILVER
2014 Chardonnay, Proprietors Reserve -- BRONZE

We are extremely happy with the results of the 2016 New York Wine & Food Classic. We pride ourselves on being consistent award winners in this prestigious competition.

For more information, complementary tastings or tours, please contact Susan Weiner at 607.546.2062 or email at susan@clrwine.com.

About Chateau LaFayette Reneau

Located on the gentle western slopes of beautiful Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, our 140-acre estate receives optimal sunlight and air movement, ideal for consistently full-flavored grapes. For more than 30 years, Chateau LaFayette Reneau has produced estate-grown vinifera wines and received countless accolades and awards, including three Governor’s Cups, four coveted Jefferson Cups, and Gold from Riesling du Monde.

Tim Miller
Chateau LaFayette Reneau Vintner

No change in the amount of propane

To the Editor on Aug. 12:

Many, if not most, of the news stories that were published and aired following the announcement by Crestwood that they were modifying their gas storage proposal quoted directly from the letter to Administrative Law Judge McClymonds by DLA Piper attorney Robert Alessi.

Unfortunately, the language in the letter that was quoted is misleading. The quote that appeared in news stories from page 2, Section 2 is, "Elimination of Butane; and Reduction of Propane Storage Capacity by Almost 30%..." (emphasis added).

In truth, the proposed reduction is the 600,000 barrels of Butane only. The project has always called for the 1.5 million barrels of propane that is still proposed. The amount of butane in the original proposal represents 30% of storage capacity. There is no change in the amount of propane.

The rest of Alessi's letter regarding the community's lack of knowledge regarding butane is not only condescending, but is an insult to our intelligence. We are well aware that the chemical properties of butane and propane are almost identical and carry the same risks in the case of catastrophic release.

Furthermore, Crestwood may be proposing the elimination of butane storage and transportation infrastructure in this latest attempt to sway the public, but they don't commit to eliminating the storage cavern that would have been used, in effect keeping the 600,000 barrels of storage capacity intact in a cavern with serious questions.

Thank you.

Joseph M. Campbell, DC
President-Gas Free Seneca
Seneca Lake Guardian, A Waterkeeper Affiliate

O-M grad noted, quoted in equestrian story

To the Editor on Aug. 5:

I would like to call your atttention to a recent story in the Aiken, SC newspaper http://www.aikenstandard.com/20160803/160809806/equestrians-with-aiken-ties-are-in-rio-for-the-olympics.

Laura Jean VanderVliet, who is quoted, runs L & N Eventing with Nilson Moreira da Silva. Laura graduated from Odessa-Montour High School and Cornell University. Her mom Jean passed away recently and her Dad still lives in Hector. She found her way in the hard world of three-day eventing. A feat in and of itself as she is not rich and does not have rich relatives. She worked. Hard. She has made her way to the top.

Nilson, her partner, came here from Brazil to try and make it. He is now an alternate on the Brazilian eventing team. Eventing is a difficult sport consisting of three stages: dressage, stadium jumping and cross country timed event, jumping unbelievable obstacles. They own Muggles, his horse, as part of a syndicate.

As a horse person myself, I was shocked to see an article about a familiar Schuyler 4-H name in a prominent publication. (Note: More on Laura can be found by googling her name.) I couldn't believe it when I found this was one and the same woman. I realize equestrians are an insular part of the sports world -- but an unbelievable amount of work, training, and effort go into this. Nilson went from Aiken to England to work with Mark Todd, where he was added to the team and flew with his horse to Brazil. A Go Fund Me was set up and now a "Muggles" club, named after the horse, to help finance their effort.

I just thought this amazing feat should be noticed in our local news. Thanks.

Virginia Alexander

And this from Laura VanderVliet's sister

To the Editor on Aug. 5:

I read your story of Olivia Coffey heading to Rio as an alternate, and want to share my sister’s story.

She is Laura Jean VanderVliet, parents Roger and Jean VanderVliet, of a small country farm in Caytuaville, NY.

She has had ponies and horses since the age of 5, and now has a horse training business with partner Nilson Moreira da Silva, from Brazil.

Laura was a very active 4-H member and leader in the late 1970s and '80s, always giving lessons to anyone who showed a passion for horses, and now has grown her business to have 20+ athletic horses which she trains and sells. Nilson is now in Rio, as the alternate rider, for the Rio 2016 Games -- 3-day equestrian eventing, starting on Saturday; Laura was joining him this week as coach and support for her business partner to fulfill their dreams.

I'm attaching a link to their blog of their journey -- a really great story of where Nilson comes from and where they are today.


Also an interview where they speak of Laura and Nilson's business and where they come from (around minutes 11-13):


Additional Articles to share:

Headline news in Aiken, SC where their barn is: http://www.aikenstandard.com/20160803/160809806/equestrians-with-aiken-ties-are-in-rio-for-the-olympics


Thanks. I wanted to share this story with many Schuyler County residents who know the VanderVliet family to show you can meet your dreams! My father, Roger, now resides in Hector, NY. My mother, Jean, passed away in January 2015.

Nancy (Laura's sister) VanderVliet Lombart

Gas Free Seneca is not involved in arrests

To the Editor on Aug. 1:

We were just alerted to an article in The Odessa File regarding the most recent arrests at the Crestwood/ConEd gate. We respectfully take issue with the statement "The organizing Gas Free Seneca group ... etc."

Gas Free Seneca is not in any way, shape or form involved in the ongoing civil disobedience campaign and the arrests. In fact we asked the organization that is behind it, We Are Seneca Lake (WASL), to clarify that in a written statement. See that statement here.

Would it be too much to ask for a correction to the statement in this article to identify WASL as being behind the arrests? There is (and has been) confusion regarding this and, because we are the founding organization and have been opposing gas storage for the past 5 1/2 years, in the public eye we get blamed for anything gas related.

Thank you.

Joseph Campbell
Gas Free Seneca

Editor's Note: Mr. Campbell is correct. The reference to Gas Free Seneca in the article was in error. We apologize.

Guidance available on Medicare choices

To the Editor on July 25:

Do you understand Medicare? Like most people, your answer is probably “not really.” Thankfully, there are local Medicare counselors who do.

More than 500 counselors from the HIICAP (called State Health Insurance Assistance Programs -- SHIPs -- nationally) give unbiased, one-on-one guidance to the people age 65 and over and certain people with disabilities who rely on Medicare. They not only help individual beneficiaries in New York State find health plans that best meet their needs, they answer questions about coverage, costs, and appeals.

Every day, 10,000 people across the United States become eligible to receive Medicare and are commonly confused by the array of choices, the coverage offered, the costs, and their rights. In ­ New York State, 3,357,000 are eligible for Medicare. Every year, they must choose among Original Medicare (and numerous supplemental Medigap insurance policies), 30 insurance companies offering 128 different Medicare Advantage plans, and 22 prescription drug plans.

Medicare beneficiaries can also call 1-800-Medicare to get questions answered, but SHIPs are the only source of in-person counseling. Every year, 1-800-Medicare refers over 250,000 callers to SHIPs nationally for help with complex cases. An average counseling session lasts almost an hour, due to the complexities of Medicare and the in-depth nature of SHIP counseling. Last year, Schuyler County Office for the Aging HIICAP helped more than 500 people in our county.

National funding is needed each year to support the important work of the SHIP program. Our state’s SHIP has 400 counselors who are volunteers. Our volunteers are valuable partners in providing about half of our SHIP counseling sessions (paid staff provide the other half). But this work can’t be done by volunteers alone, and volunteers can’t go it alone. Funding is needed to screen, train, and support these valuable partners. The Senate Appropriations Committee has allocated no funds for the SHIP program for next year. The House of Representatives approved maintaining current funding.

For more information about how SHIP can help you or a loved one, please call 1-800-701-0501 or go to www.hiicap.state.ny.us. To find a SHIP in another state, call 1-877-839-2675 or go to www.shiptacenter.org.

Kylie Rodrigues
Insurance Counseling Coordinator
Schuyler County Office for the Aging/NY Connects

 Alumni Banquet drew record number

To the Editor on July 19:

The 91st Annual WGHS Alumni Banquet saw a record number of attendees with a head count of 279 people served. There were representatives from the Class of 1938, 1940, 1945 and 1946. In addition, attendees from the decades of the '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, and 2000s were present.

Jim Whiting, from the Class of 1944, was posthumously awarded a Distinguished Alumni Award. There were 22 members of his family in attendance. An emotional power point tribute was presented to honor this man who gave so much to his community. Also honored with a Distinguished Alumni Award was Joy Hyslop Mundy, a graduate of the Class of 1966. There were 63 classmates of Joy's on hand to congratulate and recognize her accomplishments in the field of law enforcement.

Three $2,000 scholarships were awarded to graduating seniors Tyler Jelenevsky, Cheyenne Stansfield and Parker Pangallo. The 50-year graduating class of 1966 collected and donated $870 to the Association in memory of their deceased classmates, which will be directed to the scholarship fund account.

The banquet has continued to grow and improve every year. It would not be possible without the support of the WGHS alumni and friends of the WGHS Alumni Association. We have a dedicated board of directors and volunteers that show up every year to help. We are grateful to everyone who played a role in this year's successful banquet. We could not have done it without you. Thank you, everyone.

Peggy Scott

Watkins Glen effort for $10M recounted

To the Editor on July 15:

Do changes in your local surroundings ever catch your eye? Do you ever wonder how these changes come to fruition? The answer to these questions is not a simple one; in fact there are many pieces that come together to create improvements.

Recently, the Village of Watkins Glen submitted an application for the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) launched by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. This is a $100 million revitalization effort to be distributed amongst one downtown in each of New York’s 10 economic development regions. Finalizing this application in the time allotted required an all-hands-on-deck effort. Many organizations, such as the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development (SCOPED), the newly formed Finger Lakes Gateway Community Development Corporation (CDC) and the Schuyler County Department of Planning, came together with Village officials to ensure a complete and thorough proposal for the $10 million that was on the table for the Southern Tier Region.

Once the Village made the decision to apply, the writing commenced over the Memorial Day weekend. Kristin VanHorn, Director of Planning for Schuyler County, led the effort by creating an outstanding outline with stellar graphics that everyone would write their pieces for, and without that outline, it would have been virtually impossible to produce a competitive, visually appealing proposal.

Following the many hours of researching statistics and trying to put the potential and value of investment our downtown holds into words came editing. Editing and additions occurred through the following days and nights.

As mentioned, all hands were on deck. Some of these hands included friends and family members of officials, co-workers and residents. The collection of different styles, viewpoints, and knowledge of our downtown came together tastefully to emulate what great things we could accomplish with the DRI.

After numerous hours of hard work, the application was submitted prior to the initial deadline. However, this was not the end. We soon learned that the application deadline had been extended by 7 days. We took this as an opportunity to build and strengthen our application and argument. We waited patiently for the results and soon heard that we made it through the first round as a top-three submittal and that in less than a week's time we would be in Binghamton presenting a seven-minute presentation to the Regional Council.

Once again, a number of individuals and organizations in Watkins Glen came together to help prepare to pitch our potential. The creative juices flowed and it was decided to send postcards to all the voting members of the Regional Council indicating that $10 million would transform the Village of Watkins Glen. The message, created by Ben Stamp, was “34 cents sends a postcard; 10 million dollars transforms a community.”

Integral members of the CDC were tasked with presenting the material along with the County Administrator and a Village Trustee. In some final efforts to smooth the presentation, members of the CDC came over to the Shared Services building and prepared to walk through the presentation. In a rallied effort -- as our community is known for -- several Village and County personnel in the Shared Services building, and from other places around the Village, came together to listen, support, and offer feedback to the presentation. Once again, different viewpoints and knowledge were coming together to add more depth and variety to the DRI presentation.

After many more hours of dedication, gathering data, writing, editing and rehearsing, a small team, made up of Brittany Gibbs, Kristin VanHorn, Tim O’Hearn and Kevin Thornton, made their way towards Binghamton on June 22 to deliver the presentation. The presentation could be no longer than seven minutes. This was then followed by 10 minutes of questions to the presenters from the Southern Tier Regional Council. Again, local officials came together to answer these questions in an effort to explain why the Village of Watkins Glen should be awarded the DRI funding.

Unfortunately, Watkins Glen did not receive the DRI funding. However, this was not the first time, nor will it be the last, that public and private partners have come together in a collaborative effort to secure funding for areas in our county. Efforts such as this are what bring beautiful and positive change to not only our downtown, but our county as a whole.

Despite not receiving the award, the process of submitting the DRI application had many positive outcomes. Momentum was gained, partnerships were formed and strengthened, and important facts about the Village of Watkins Glen’s potential -- including the role of Project Seneca -- were acknowledged. Wonderful things are happening in Schuyler County thanks to the efforts of those who wish to move things in a forward direction.

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Schuyler County Partnership (SCOPED), please accept the deep appreciation for the contributions of each and every person who participated, contributed and supported this effort.

Judy McKinney Cherry CEcD
Executive Director
Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development

To read the proposal submitted, please visit http://flxgateway.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Watkins-Glen-DRI_FinalApplication.pdf

To see videos of developments in Schuyler County be sure to visit the Schuyler County Partnership’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClCms-aVJI12WaE32l_KQ_g and remember, a loss is not always a loss. As the quote goes, “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.”

Garden Soiree raises more than $13,000

To the Editor on July 12:

Catholic Charities held its Third Annual Garden Soiree on Friday, June 24 at Lakewood Vineyards. This successful fundraiser raised over $13,000 through silent and live auctions as well as ticket sales and sponsorships. These funds will support Catholic Charities’ efforts to end local poverty; increase self-sufficiency, and help individuals and families grow and prosper.

Guests enjoyed the music of An Artist’s Depiction and Tom Bloodgood and Friends. We celebrated the beauty of summertime and the good work that Catholic Charities does all year long.

The evening’s success is attributed to the following community-minded individuals and businesses: BMS Manufacturing, Chemung Canal Trust Company, Corning Dental Associates, Curly’s Family Restaurant, Village Marina Bar & Grill, Visions Federal Credit Union, An Artist’s Depiction, Tom Bloodgood and Friends, Chamberlain Acres, Mr. Curt Connelly, Lakewood Vineyards, Mr. Shawn Mleczynski, Ms. Kate Fuller, Mrs. Joanne McLaine, Ms. Heather O’Grady-Evans, Mr. William Vaughn-Russell, Catholic Charities’ Staff and Board of Directors, and the Schuyler Advisory Board. Thank you all for your support.

Soiree 2016 (4)About Catholic Charities of Schuyler: Catholic Charities is committed to fighting the effects of poverty and its root causes through its work. Catholic Charities provides a number of needed programs and services in the community with a priority toward the poor. We work to ensure that people have food, clothing, shelter, medical services, and the ability to achieve a decent standard of living. For more information, please visit www.cs-cc.org or call 607-535-2050.

Katie E. Rhodes
Development & Marketing Coordinator
Catholic Charities of Chemung & Schuyler Counties

Natural gas and LPG projects unrelated

To the Editor on May 31:

As Crestwood's storage projects have drawn more attention recently, it's no surprise that groups opposed to the gas projects are spreading lies about them. Our employees and communities deserve better, so let's clear up a few things about Crestwood's joint venture with Con Edison and the Seneca Lake natural gas storage expansion.

Crestwood and Con Edison are going to be 50-50 partners when it comes to Crestwood's natural gas pipeline and storage business in New York, including the Seneca Lake natural gas storage facility in Reading. The joint venture has nothing to do with Crestwood's LPG storage facility in Savona or the proposed LPG storage facility in Reading. Our LPG storage proposal at US Salt remains under review by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, and that process is completely unrelated to the Con Edison partnership.

Last week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gave Crestwood two more years to complete a small expansion of the Seneca Lake natural gas storage facility, which the FERC first approved in May 2014. In granting Crestwood's request, the FERC said that (1) Gas Free Seneca and the other opponents didn't present any credible information to suggest that the expanded storage facility would be unsafe and (2) Gas Free Seneca's risk expert (Rob Mackenzie) does not have the expertise to correctly evaluate a project like this. Something to remember when gas opponents point out the number of opposing comments submitted to the FERC, or claim the FERC is ignoring their experts.

Gas storage opponents are also questioning Crestwood's motives and suggesting the company's FERC request was somehow tied to the Reading LPG storage proposal. This is ridiculous. The FERC has no involvement with propane storage, and Crestwood already has the federal permits needed to build the propane terminal. And with the propane storage proposal heading into its ninth year of state review despite support from the NY State Geologist and NYS DEC staff, does anyone really believe that anything Crestwood does with its natural gas storage facilities will hurt or help its cause on the LPG project?

Inergy/Crestwood has said from the start that the natural gas storage projects and the propane storage projects are unrelated. That's still true.

Barry Moon
Director of Operations East Coast NGL & Crude for Crestwood
Savona, NY

Kilcoyne, Brown win lifting honors

To the Editor on April 23:

A meet was held today, Saturday the 23rd of April, in Clyde NY. The Seneca Powerlifting Club came away with the best lifters of the day, male and female, Jeremey Brown and Madeleine Kilcoyne. The officials divided the body weight into what they lifted and these two came away with the top honors. Kilcoyne also set two  state records as well, on her bench and dead lift. Madeline Williams set two state records, benching 75 pounds and deadlifting 245 pounds; Dylan Houseknecht also set two state records.

Joe Chedzoy took first place benching 140 and deadlifting 290 pounds. Tanner Ryan benched 160 pounds and deadlifted 300 pounds and came in first place. Jeremey Brown's bench press was 390 pounds and deadlift was  600 pounds, and a first-place finish. He had the best dead lift of  33 lifters. Madeleine Kilcoyne competed against 7 female lifters and prevailed.

Ralph Diliberto

Condon thanks all for their support

To the Editor on April 19:

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone in the Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour communities for your support the last six years, when I was able to share with you my life and my passion for the great game of football.

It was truly one of the greatest times in my life, and for that I thank you all for your support not only for me but more so for your support of the young men who worked as hard as they did for me and my staff over those years!

I also would like to thank Tom Phillips for taking a chance and giving a young man who was hungry and eager for an opportunity to take a shot at being a head coach. Tom, I can't thank you enough for giving me my first shot at being a head coach and being able to build a true program. I'd also like to thank both School Boards for their support over the years and especially for the support that both gave to me during the merger process.

I would also like to thank Chris Wood, Skip McCarty, Greg Gavich, Kai D'Alleva, Rod Weeden and Erich Kramer for their support over the last year during the merger process.

I would definitely like to take this opportunity to thank my coaching staff: Coach Johnston Sr., Coach Condon Sr. "Dad", Coach Matt Johnston, Coach Tom Struble, Coach Brian Usiak, Coach Ward Brower, Coach Jack McCauley and Coach Josh Cole. Thank you so very much from the bottom of my heart. You all had a huge impact on not only my career but my life in general. You all have impacted my life in such ways that I can not even list them all. Most of all you showed me that with hard work and dedication and organization, anything is possible. I thank you all.

Last but certainly not least I would like to thank again all of the parents who truly supported me and my staff and the program over the years! A few that I have to thank even more for all of your help: Tina Rappleye, Sue Makowiec, Brett Chedzoy, Michelle Clark, and everyone else who helped with our team dinners and fundraisers over the years. It was truly an honor being able to serve you and your kids as the head coach. I thank you once again!

To Coach Holland and Coach Irwin and the rest of the coaching staff, I wish you all nothing but the very best of luck in the future! Thank you, everyone, once again so very much!

Coach Lou Condon Jr.

Input sought on old treatment plant

To the Editor on April 1:

When the new Regional Waste Water Treatment Plant comes online at the beginning of 2018, the site of the existing plant in Watkins Glen will be available for the Village to redevelop.

To help Village officials and community members think through redevelopment options, Cornell's Design Connect Program will be hosting an Open House to gain input from community members on what the future use of the site could be. Design Connect will use this input to provide -- to the Village of Watkins Glen -- design ideas for the reuse of the site.

Join them from 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 7 at the Watkins Glen Community Center (across from Clute Park off of Boat Launch Road behind the RV Park).

This Design Connect project is sponsored by Project Seneca.

Jason Carbone
Economic Development Specialist
Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development

Phillips owes us an explanation

To the Editor on March 22:

I am in Florida for the winter and clearly do not have all of the possible information, but I am pained to see your picture of the police removing a citizen from the school grounds in handcuffs. Unless there was some implied physical threat, and none was reported, this seems to be an unneeded use of force and a situation which could have been resolved in a different manner.

The school grounds are owned by the public and are not a private sanctuary. I think that Mr. Phillips owes all of us an explanation of why he thought this was necessary.

Nick Paradiso

Reed embarrasses us by backing Trump

To the Editor on March 17:

The Odessa File headline today that reads "Reed backs Trump" is quite troubling.

No candidate for public office, especially for President of the United States, should say vile and rude things about women, as Mr. Trump has repeatedly done.

No candidate for public office, especially for President of the United States, should say disrespectful things about Prisoners of War, especially of Senator John McCain.

No candidate for public office, especially for President of the United States, should in any way imply that one religion is to be preferred over another.

No candidate for public office, especially for President of the United States, should say incendiary things that border on encouragement to violence in public discourse or assembly.

No candidate for public office, especially for President of the United States, should be hesitant to renounce the KKK as a violent racist organization.

Mr. Trump is unapologetic about all of these things.

His rhetoric of a bully, "You hit me, and I will hit you back harder," only leads to more and more violence.

If my own children behaved in that manner I would not only reprimand them but I would insist that they apologize and become aware of the hurt that their words and actions have caused.

When I contacted Congressman Reed's office today I was told that the Congressman is endorsing Mr. Trump because of the "groundswell" of support he is receiving throughout the nation. Perhaps there is such a "groundswell," but I am reminded that one is judged by the company one keeps. I have a much higher regard for Congressman Reed than the hurtful and vile rhetoric of Mr. Trump. It is not enough to say that you don't agree with what Mr. Trump says, and still endorse him for President of the United States.

Congressman Reed embarrasses all of us by aligning himself with Mr. Trump's words and behavior. It would have been appropriate for Congressman Reed, as a Republican, to distance himself from Mr. Trump's rhetoric and urge his party to return the public debate to a civil discourse.

The Reverend Michael Hartney
Rector, Saint James' Episcopal Church - Watkins Glen
Rector, Saint John's Episcopal Church - Catharine

A day of record-setting lifts

To the Editor on March 13:

These are the results of a New York State Powerlifting Meet that was held Saturday, March 12 in Henrietta, NY under the umbrella of the World Natural Powerlifting Federation. There were 52 lifters at this meet and all of the participants of the Seneca Powerlifting Club set New York State records and placed first in their weight class and age group.

They included:

Melanie Beaver: 3 lifts: squat 150 pounds, bench press 110 pounds and deadlift of 220 pounds.
Joseph Chedzoy: 3 lifts: squat 190 pounds, bench press 135 pounds and deadlift of 260 pounds.
Kendale Crout: 2 lifts: iron man bench press 150 pounds and a deadlift of 300 pounds.
Wrett Brower: 2 lifts: iron man bench press 150 pounds and a deadlift of 300 pounds.
Dylan Markley: 2 lifts: iron man bench press 90 pounds and a deadlift of 185 pounds.
Cole Saunders: 2 lifts: iron man bench press 185 pounds and a deadlift of 285 pounds.
Dylan Houseknecht: 2 lifts: iron man bench press 185 and a deadlift of 265 pounds.
Wyatt Brower: 2 lifts: iron man bench press 230 pounds and a deadlift of 365 pounds.
Tyler Berry: 2 lifts: iron man bench press 250 pounds and a deadlift of 350 pounds.
Joseph DeSantis: 2 lifts: iron man bench press 185 pounds and a deadlift of 430 pounds.
Jeremey Brown: 2 lifts: iron man bench press 380 pounds and a deadlift of 600 pounds.
Nancy Loughlin: 2 lifts: iron women bench press 115 pounds and a deadlift of 200 pounds.
Madeline Williams: 2 lifts: iron women bench press 70 pounds and a deadlift of 220 pounds.
Madeleine Kilcoyne: 2 lifts: iron women bench press 70 pounds and a deadlift of 95 pounds.

They came to lift and indeed they did. Their total accumulated lifts were over 3 tons.

Tyler Berry was one of four people to receive the outstanding lifter of the day award. Jeremey Brown had the best deadlift of the day of 600 pounds.

Note: full power are the 3 lifts -- squat, bench and deadlift. Iron men-women is 2 lifts -- bench and deadlift.

This is a dedicated, disciplined group of athletes who work hard to achieve their goals -- not only on the platform, but in the challenges of life as well.

Ralph Diliberto

Donald A. Dryden remembered ...

To the Editor on March 3:

Don Dryden came to the Watkins Glen Central School District as Superintendent of Schools and led the District from 1990-2000, ushering in the end of the 20th Century and beginning the 21st Century. Having already completed an educational administrative career in Michigan, Don was anything but a caretaker Superintendent concluding his career.

His energy and enthusiasm fostered great improvements in technology and building infrastructure along with educational innovations and new opportunities for our students. His vision in keeping Watkins Glen at the forefront of outstanding school districts in our immediate area and throughout the state via a $36,150,000 building renovation and construction project set the stage for the full consolidation of our district onto one campus, which was accomplished a few short years ago. His support for Media Tech and Broadcast Journalism, Dimensions of Learning and Multiple Intelligences, Elements of Instruction and so many other program and professional development opportunities helped make education in Watkins Glen truly student-centered.

Team Building and Shared Decision Making were at the center of his own educational philosophy and brought more educational accountability and responsibility to faculty and staff, which also translated into great opportunity and achievement for our students. Don was always concerned with improving the teaching and learning process and was justifiably proud of his 40-year career in public education.

Ten years of my administrative career were spent working side by side with Don Dryden and I know -- first hand -- how hard he worked and how interested he was in our district and in our faculty/staff and students. He was active and involved in the community and he was visible and accessible as well. The Watkins Glen School District and the community were most fortunate to have Don (and his wife Marcia) in our midst for 10 years. Our condolences to Marcia and family as they mourn the loss of a life well lived.

Brian J. O'Donnell
Watkins Glen High School Principal, 1988-2003

We need tobacco-free pharmacy law

To the Editor on Feb. 17:

As a resident of Schuyler County, I feel we need to focus our energy on polices that promote both the prevention of tobacco use and tobacco cessation, to reduce our high tobacco use rates.  One way many communities have done this is by creating laws that eliminate the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies.

When you think about this, it just makes sense. Pharmacies are where you go to buy products that make you better when you’re sick or products that promote a healthy lifestyle. So, why do they sell tobacco products, which are the leading cause of preventable death and disease? With tobacco products on display, the chance youth will start using increases, and it makes it more difficult for people who are trying to quit. We are fortunate here in Schuyler County because all but one of our pharmacies are tobacco-free!

I strongly believe it would be a great idea for our community to create a tobacco-free pharmacy law, which would prevent any other pharmacies that may come into the area in the future from selling tobacco products. This will help lower exposure to deadly tobacco products, as well as help to lower our tobacco use rates.one.

Gretchen Silliman
Concerned Citizen

Crestwood protesters are not outsiders

To the Editor on Jan. 28:

On January 26, I was one of 11 veterans arrested for standing in opposition to Crestwood’s gas storage facility on Seneca Lake, all of us exercising our constitutionally protected right of peaceful protest.

Ranging in age from 33 to 76, we represented all branches of the U.S. military. We came from eight different counties. Two live here in Schuyler County.

What united us was a sense of duty and the shared belief that Crestwood’s plan to store volatile, highly pressurized fossil fuels below Seneca Lake is a threat to the safety and security of many people.

I myself grew up in Corning, served four years in the U.S. Army, and then served in the U.S. Air Force, from which I retired as a Senior Master Sergeant. While on active duty, I traveled to over 20 countries. Many of them were places where drinking water was scarce, made children sick, fueled conflict, and threatened security.

Nearly 100,000 people in five different counties depend on Seneca Lake for drinking water. Leaks, explosions, and accidents at Crestwood’s facility will imperil people who live far from the Town of Reading. We all have a stake in fighting for clean water and air and have a moral imperative to protect the climate.

Hence, contrary to the claims pushed out by the Town of Reading Board, the Schuyler County Legislature, and Crestwood itself, the hundreds of peaceful protesters who have been arrested for acts of civil disobedience are not outsiders.

As a veteran who served my country faithfully, I take issue with -- and am personally offended by -- the notion that veterans like myself are outsiders in this struggle. Veterans who served in foreign lands may well be called outsiders, but we should never -- in any instance -- attach this label to service members at home in our own country, in our own state, and in the regions where we were born and raised.

And the opinions of veterans should never be dismissed -- especially when we speak out on issues that threaten our well-being and the security of our loved ones.

I will continue to oppose dangerous plans for the Finger Lakes region. I will stand in the way of heavy-duty equipment if necessary, and I will fiercely defend and safeguard our right to clean water and clean air. After standing and being arrested with fellow veterans on the blockade line, I know that I will not be alone.

Colleen Boland
Senior Master Sergeant, U.S. Air Force (Retired)

Crestwood storage: point, counterpoint

To the Editor on Jan. 26:

I would like to respectfully disagree with some of the points recently made by a Crestwood official in The Odessa File when he claimed that Crestwood’s storage of gas at Seneca Lake is entirely different from Porter Ranch in California.

Crestwood: Porter Ranch's leaking methane harms the atmosphere but Seneca Lake's LPG would not.

Facts: Any leak from Crestwood’s existing methane storage facility on Seneca Lake would harm the atmosphere. Most gas storage disasters do not cause major greenhouse gas releases. However, smaller leaks of propane or methane cause fires or explosions that can result in injuries, deaths, evacuations, and major property loss.

Crestwood: Their LPG facility would be smaller and therefore safer.

Fact: The frequency of disasters has been higher at relatively small salt cavern facilities than at larger depleted reservoir facilities like Porter Ranch.

Crestwood: Porter Ranch storage is not in salt, but in sandstone.

Facts: The sandstone of depleted oil and gas fields has resulted in a safer track record than storage in bedded salt. Seneca Lake's salt layers are risky because they are corrosive of casings, contain shale layers and are folded and faulted. Crestwood's own drawings suggest that the roofs of some caverns may no longer even be encased in salt, which could lead to leaks and gas migration.

Crestwood: Methane in Porter Ranch is stored at a higher pressure than LPG and therefore their LPG proposal is not dangerous.

Fact: Crestwood also stores methane at pressure. Both methane and LPG can leak as explosive gases. Methane tends to dissipate into the atmosphere, whereas propane forms a more dangerous ground-hugging vapor.

Crestwood: The California leak was caused by rupture of an old well casing; at Seneca Lake new wells will be drilled to old caverns.

Facts: Two of the methane storage wells Crestwood is using have casings almost as old as the burst casing at Porter Ranch. Ceiling collapse is an on-going problem in old caverns. Old boreholes plugged and abandoned in salt formations sometimes leak.

Crestwood: If leakage occurs, it will be easier to drill a relief well and offload stored gas.

Reply: If safety were Crestwood's top priority, they would follow Europe’s standard providing two access wells per cavern and require a down-hole shut-off valve on each. This would eliminate the need for drilling a relief well.

Crestwood: Our regulatory oversight is stringent.

Reply: The likelihood of a serious or extremely serious event on Seneca Lake over 25 years has been confirmed by published research to be more than 40 percent. The risk is at least 100 times higher than the risk level judged acceptable by Crestwood's experts.

Nowhere else in the country have regulators (in this case the New York DEC) allowed underground gas storage close to a lake providing drinking water to 100,000 residents.

Crestwood's application for LPG storage at Seneca Lake should be denied.

John V Dennis, PhD
Environmental Planner
Sustainable Development Associates
Ithaca, NY

$15 minimum wage bodes ill for business

(The following is an open letter sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo, with copies to State Senator Tom O'Mara and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, from businessman Ted Marks.)

Dear Governor Cuomo:

I have had my building (287,000 square feet at 340 Upper Oakwood Ave. in Elmira Heights) for sale for about one year. It is in excellent condition, as it has been fully leased for almost 15 solid years.

Now with the decline of jobs in the area -- due to the loss of fracking jobs, company closings around us in the Southern Tier, and the declining economic (the CAF USA company is down in employment from over 800 jobs to about 120) and retail markets here (Macy's store closing) -- I have lost most of my tenants and have been unable to even find lookers for my building, to buy or even lease space.

Last week a major distribution company from Atlanta was scheduled to inspect my building, but they canceled due to the proposed $15-an-hour minimum wage throughout New York State. I am very concerned that we are unable to support this wage increase, let alone attract business into our state to even pay these wages.

I have enclosed a letter from my Realtor confirming what I just said.

I ask that you not mandate these wage increases without taking into consideration the health of our State to withstand them. And just as importantly, please consider this: If only New York State makes these wage demands and the other states do not, why would outside businesses even consider opening in this, the highest taxed state for business in the United States?

Ted Marks, Member
MTM Realty, LLC

Safety is our first priority

To the Editor on Jan. 22:

Not all wines and vineyards are equal. All doctors and healthcare systems are not the same. The same is true in our business: not all gases and gas storage facilities are equal. But that has not stopped opponents of our propane storage proposal from pointing to the Porter Ranch catastrophe as a reason to oppose our project. The truth is, trying to compare the Porter Ranch natural gas storage facility in California (and its uncontrollable methane leak) to our propane storage proposal is like comparing apples and oranges. For example:

--Natural gas (often called methane) and propane do not impact the environment the same. Methane is a greenhouse gas, which means that leaks from natural gas storage facilities like Porter Ranch pollute the air. Propane, which does not harm the environment if released, is not a greenhouse gas.

The Porter Ranch storage facility is one of the largest natural gas storage facilities in the country. The storage facility has 110 injection /withdrawal wells spread over 3,600 acres, while our project involves three injection/withdrawal wells at the US Salt property. In stark contrast to our proposal, the California storage facility is absolutely massive -- it’s more than three times bigger that the largest natural gas storage facility in New York State.

--Our proposal uses caverns with proven integrity in an impermeable salt formation, while the Porter Ranch facility uses a depleted oil and gas reservoir within porous sandstone.

--Although natural gas must be mechanically compressed at high pressures for underground storage, our propane storage proposal relies on simple displacement concepts. Propane injected during the summer will push the existing brine in the caverns to the salt plant or a holding pond, and brine injected during the winter will push propane into a connecting pipeline or to surface tanks for truck or rail car loading.

--The California leak resulted from a casing failure of a vintage well. Under our proposal, the existing wells connecting the proposed propane storage caverns to the surface will be abandoned (cemented in), and brand new wells will be drilled and maintained, under NYS Department of Environmental Conservation standards and oversight.

--The leaking Porter Ranch well is four times deeper than our proposed storage wells, and the geology at our site doesn’t pose the same problems being encountered in California. It would not take us months to drill a relief well if one of our brand new wells leaked, remembering that we could also transfer stored propane volumes to Enterprise’s pipeline, rail cars or trucks, or another cavern at our US Salt property.

It’s undeniable that the energy infrastructure being developed in New York State today is being designed and permitted under more stringent oversight than the storage facilities operating for decades in the Finger Lakes and throughout New York. Unfortunately, opponents of our propane storage proposal must continue to hold up unrelated disasters and suggest that can happen locally if our project is permitted. Opponents have no choice but to rely on scare tactics because science cuts against them, as confirmed by every regulatory expert involved with our project.

Energy infrastructure is not a risk-free proposition, but the risks are mitigated when facilities are designed and constructed properly. New York State’s regulatory framework does not foster an environment where businesses can ignore the risks of major problems until after the fact, and we encourage anyone believing otherwise to contact the DEC to better understand the length to which local energy storage infrastructure is scrutinized.

Safety is our first priority, and that means designing projects the right way from the start.

Brad Bacon
Vice President

A high-stakes game of roulette

To the Editor on Jan. 20:

In the face of the persistent myth that the anti-LPG movement doesn’t represent locals, I must remind our residents that a large group of health care professionals who live here and take care of thousands of Schuyler County residents went public in 2014 against the LPG project; they signed a letter that went to every local, state, and federal agency involved in this decision and emphatically stated that the health of this community would be jeopardized by this project. If people don’t trust their health care professionals, who do they trust? There are even more issues supporting the healthcare position at this time.

One of the more recent issues in the spotlight is the salinity of Seneca Lake; through several monitoring groups, it is clear that the salinity exceeds health standards for at-risk populations, namely infants and those with kidney disease and hypertension. The U.S. government just released its recommendations on sodium intake and once again, they are advising that it should be lowered for all of us. We are talking about our drinking water! Not canned foods, processed foods, etc. The agencies that test this water at the south end of Seneca Lake have either not tested for or released this information upon which healthcare professionals and the Public Health department should advise their patients. Please refer to Seneca Lake Pure Waters website for the documents and information regarding this issue. At the north end of the lake, they do test and report these high sodium levels.

What does this have to do with the LPG project? The point is that the watershed is so crucial to the health and wellbeing, the very survival of our communities, that we cannot tolerate the risks of the LPG project. There are enough questions around the relationship of the salt caverns and storage to the high salinity in the lake to take a precautionary position. “The precautionary principle or precautionary approach to risk management states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is not harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking an action.” This certainly has not been accomplished by Crestwood as it is impossible! Catastrophic accidents and the pollution caused by truck and rail transport are risks that have been covered extensively.

Some days the absurdity of the persistent defense of the project based on "those people aren’t locals" amuses me, some days it infuriates me. I have been active in this movement for years and am always surrounded by my neighbors on both sides of Seneca Lake. We are also surrounded by those who come because they heard the call to action. The environment and this watershed are not simply a local issue. We are playing out The Emperor's New Clothes, the famous fairytale: Crestwood -- the tailors promising all the finery and goods; the Emperor -- the Town of Reading and the County legislature believing it all; and the child -- thousands of people in the region surrounding this glorious lake who cry out that the "goods," Crestwood’s promises, are no good. Look around our country and the globe. Who is not convinced that our water is our most precious resource and must be protected fiercely? And healthcare professionals should be potently invested in this mission to protect the basic need of their patients, safe drinking water.

I remain in disbelief that every single governing body around this lake is against the project except our governing body. Stunning. The largest gas leak in our nation’s history is currently devastating those in southern California (Porter Ranch); data shows that the risk when using salt caverns is much greater. The citizens of Flint, Michigan are being poisoned by their drinking water due to a decision made by government officials to save money.

For the health of our residents, let’s stop this project. We should not even be discussing storing LPG or natural gas deep in the caverns under this lake given the high stakes of this game of roulette they are playing with our drinking water. Crestwood needs to store it somewhere else.

Do not believe anyone who says that there is nothing you can do at this time! Call Governor Cuomo and ask him to stop this project today.

Paula Fitzsimmons
Physician Assistant

There is help out there for addicts

To the Editor on Jan. 20:

There is an epidemic in our community. It is killing our children. It is not something that any one agency is going to solve on their own. We all need to take on a role in combating this. It takes a village to raise a child and it’s going to take a village to detox our children and keep them off of these drugs. I encourage everyone in our community to deeply educate themselves about heroin. It is a highly addictive narcotic, it mimics neurotransmitters in the brain, fooling receptors which allow the drug to lock on to the nerve cells producing the "high."

The accessibility of the drug is staggering, something that law enforcement is combating, but why is the user not afraid? I think back to my own education about this drug. There were highly publicized overdoses of musicians, but that happens now as well. People my age were taught that it killed people, that it robbed your future, that you became addicted, we didn't want that. What happened? Why are our children not afraid of this?

One of my current theories answering this question is the prevalence of over-the-counter medicine available and taken by everyone. A simple headache is your body's way of telling you something is wrong. At some point, instead of looking for the underlying cause we were taught that you can just pop this pill and continue on your day. How many of our children have learned that in order to deal with the stress of the day, Mommy or Daddy needs to take a pill so that they can get up and do it all again tomorrow? How many of your teenagers have access and are given those same drugs?

The human brain is developing well into our twenties. The cerebral cortex, that part of our brain that enables us to assess situations, make good choices, control our emotions and desires is especially vulnerable.

There are drugs that are prevalent in everyday life, caffeine, tobacco, etc., but no one should be popping a pill every time they receive a signal from their body that something's wrong, and we should definitely not be giving any child meds, especially meds designed for adults. We should be teaching by example, use drugs responsibly and don't let drugs use us.

I encourage everyone in the community to take a step back. Think about your relationship with medicine. Think about your relationship with your body. Instead of grabbing a pill the next time you have an ailment, ask yourself if another glass of water or tea would be more helpful. Warm compresses on the temple, cool compresses. No one should abandon modern medicine, but I believe we rely on it way too often.

One of the first steps I encourage everyone to take is to clean out your medicine cabinet, your grandmother's medicine cabinet, knock on the doors of your neighbors, encourage them to clean out their medicine cabinet. There are drop-off points for unused meds in each of our communities.

Dundee -- 40 Seneca Street
Penn Yan -- 227 Main Street
Watkins Glen -- 106 10th Street

No matter the path the user has taken to this drug, they all need to be helped.

We have an organization in our communities called FLACRA, Finger Lakes Addiction Counseling and Referral Agency. Their number should be on everyone's refrigerator. Their services should be offered to every overdose victim that first responders and law enforcement have saved with Naloxone (NarcanTM nasal spray). I am personally making sure that each of our emergency rooms has this information and that this information is given to the overdose victims before they are released from care. FLACRA is the first step in getting the user help with this addiction; continued and more intensive treatment may be necessary, and it may take years.

Penn Yan -- 315-536-7751
Watkins Glen -- 607-535-8260

This is not an easy topic to discuss, especially for the addicts. They are ashamed, scared of the family reaction. Your addict needs your help. There is a path away from this drug, it's not easy, and it is a lifelong endeavor. From personal experience I can tell you that the whole family feels like they've been thrown up against a wall; you feel bafflement, sorrow, guilt, anger, and helplessness. You do research, you cry, you feel anger, you want to help, you want to grab them and shake them, you feel over-protective, you want to shelter them. The path is going to be different for each family, and I encourage the family to find help as well. There are some deep wounds that need healing. Love each other.

We will all heal from this. We get up away from the wall and regroup. We search for help.

Tami Grawunder

Educational opportunity for the public

To the Editor on Jan. 7:

The recent verdict rendered in the case of a high school teacher offers an educational opportunity for all members of the public to better their understanding of the role of the Courts in deciding legal disputes. As both a sitting Justice and a practicing attorney, I am happy to share some information about the functioning of the Court system that members of the public might find of use. Of course, as a Justice and practicing attorney, I express no opinion about the underlying case nor do I have any information about the case other than what has been published.

From accounts published on this website, it appears that the trial of the high school teacher was conducted as a “bench” trial. Most trials can be broken down into two distinct parts; first, the Judge determines what specific set of rules apply and what evidence is permissible. Second, the jury hears the evidence and follows the instructions of the Judge in weighing the evidence.

In a bench trial, the Judge performs both functions. This means that the Judge determines what evidence is allowed and then evaluates the quality of the evidence as the “fact-finder.” Interestingly, whether the Judge or the jury is the fact-finder, the rules for fact-finding are the same. A fact-finder is supposed to apply their every-day experience in evaluating whether the evidence is convincing or whether the evidence is lacking. If you have ever served on a jury or if you serve on one in the future, the Judge will instruct you how to evaluate the value of the evidence by using your own common sense and life experience.

Just like in everyday life, there is no evidence you “must” believe. In fact, fact-finders are specifically instructed that they are to give no particular weight to a witness simply because of the witness' station in life. In other words, just because a person may be an authority such as a Doctor, a police officer or even a Priest, their testimony is to be evaluated by the fact-finder, not simply accepted. Here are some examples: A fact-finder might believe that the witness intends to tell the truth but might also find that the witness' testimony is not convincing because the witness lacked first-hand information or the witness was biased. A fact-finder might believe a witness but might also find that the witness' testimony, while believable, is not convincing enough to prove the matter beyond a reasonable doubt. A fact-finder might also determine that a witness' testimony might be partially accurate but might also be exaggerated either intentionally or by accident. Common sense and experience tell us that witnesses sometimes have a skewed perspective of the importance of their testimony based on their own motivations or perceptions. That is why disinterested people evaluate the testimony rather than the witnesses themselves.

It is a hallmark of our system and a sign of a mature democracy that our law protects the right of an individual to criticize any verdict that does not agree with that person's perspective or interests. Such verdicts are rendered on the basis of common sense and experience and not with an intention to please or defer to one party or another. In criminal cases, the verdict is not necessarily a determination of exactly what happened or a repudiation of anyone's intentions or beliefs, it is simply a determination whether the facts presented during the trial established the guilt of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. Thus, if a fact finder determines that a defendant “may” have committed the offense, or even “probably” committed the offense, the result is a not guilty finding. Only if the fact-finder determines guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt” may a guilty verdict be rendered.

In this particular case, it appears that the charge required that the District Attorney prove beyond a reasonable doubt what the teacher actually knew about the device at the time she possessed it. It is not a question of what she “should” have known or what she “might” have known. The consequences of a finding of guilt are very high and therefore in this type of case, a guilty verdict can only be made when it is proven that a person did a bad act and had a bad intention or mind-set at the same time. Proving a person did a bad act is one thing; proving the content of a person's mind is quite another. The reason Judges and juries make those decisions rather than witnesses is because someone interested in the outcome of the case is hardly in a position to impartially evaluate the merit of their own testimony.

As aptly stated by the District Attorney, the prosecutor's job is to present the available evidence of guilt. In this instance, the law required that he attempt to prove beyond a reasonable doubt what the teacher “thought” about the nature of the device, a very difficult task indeed. Our law requires that prosecutors vigorously pursue even difficult cases when, in their professional judgment, it is “probable” that an offense was committed. However, in law just as in the rest of life, many things are probable but fewer are definite. Within the legal profession, it is considered an admirable quality when an attorney expresses and fosters respect for the process even when they disagree with the result.

Similarly, there is a long and Constitutionally protected history of aggrieved persons complaining about the alleged incompetence of the Court system that has not ruled in accord with their desires. It is instructive to note that Judges, for the most part, are not permitted to respond to public criticism. In those instances when Judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys are permitted to speak publicly about a matter, they are expected to be both temperate and respectful in their comments. Among other things, such rules are intended to create an environment of mature discourse that disfavors personal attacks or incendiary bombast even when they might disagree with the outcome of a case. Lawyers and Judges are often perceived as leaders in their community and their public comments are seen as reflecting either well or poorly on the institution they serve. Immature, hyper-aggressive or ill-informed comments, even if reflecting their true opinion, are disfavored because such comments foster an air of disrespect for both the speaker and the institution the speaker serves. Thus you will note that the published comments and writings of the Judge, Prosecutor and Defense Attorney express their positions in respectful tones without resort to personal attacks or exaggerated self-serving hyperbole. I suggest that their discretion provides a good model for us all.

In conclusion, I am certain this trial was difficult and stressful for all parties involved. As a community, we might choose to learn from the experience and reflect both upon the proceeding itself and our roles as both participants and observers of the legal system.

Hon. Daniel J. Fitzsimmons

It seems like long-overdue justice

To the Editor on Jan. 6:

I have followed the case of Kate Bartholomew through her initial arrest, subsequent trial and recent verdict of not guilty. What has always amazed me about this long drawn-out legal process (20 months) is what one might characterize as slow torture for her -- what could easily have been handled in a more humane and less costly way. Yes, she made a mistake, immediately acknowledged it, and by all accounts without harm to anyone. With the leadership and concurrence of the school district superintendent, Tom Phillips, County DA Joe Fazzary and the local police department's school resource officer, David Waite, why wasn't a reprimand placed in Ms Bartholomew's personnel file -- just that, and be done with the unfortunate affair?

Some will undoubtedly question this suggested resolution, but several factors support it. To my knowledge, Bartholomew was and is a widely admired teacher, so much so that she was serving as head of the Watkins Glen teachers union, taught college-level biology courses and in my presence was constantly being approached by appreciative current and past students and their parents. She had taught for 17 years with a clear record of service to her community. Besides her school commitments, she served on several community organizations, including the Schuyler County Environmental Management Council, which she has chaired.

In essence, Kate Bartholomew, without prior blemish, was a valuable asset to her community. Not only would an entry in her personnel file have been more humane, it would have also saved the taxpayers of Schuyler County considerable expenditures. County costs that would have been avoided by a reprimand include the District Attorney's hours of preparation (submitting motions, responding to defense motions, witness prepping etc.) and the time required of Schuyler County Judge Morris. Bartholomew was suspended with pay for 20 months, and the costs to her in legal defense are dollars that might well have accrued to Schuyler County businesses.

Unlike the recent characterization by Tom Phillips that Judge Morris's decision constituted "judicial incompetence" and was "inexcusable," I see it as long-overdue justice to a friend and a caring citizen of the community. My hope is that the Superintendent can grow to appreciate just decision-making and not further indebt the County taxpayers by further actions against Ms. Bartholomew.

Jack Ossont

Many of us are glad to live in Schuyler

To the Editor on Jan. 6:

Been following the stun gun/school issue on The Odessa File the past few weeks. I know only good things about the teacher who made the error (and admitted it, and was sorry about it, and will be way more aware from now on, I’m sure.)

A statement published in the news after the ruling said this:

The judge's ruling, said Phillips, showed "a level of judicial incompetence" that is "inexcusable." He expanded on that comment with written remarks as follows: "Only in Schuyler County can you have a teacher admit to using a school computer during the school work day to purchase a stun gun, have it sent to her home, have her bring it to school and give it to a student, change her testimony on the stand and have a judge find her not guilty. The judicial incompetence demonstrated in this decision is clearly jeopardizing student safety and the safety of the school district."

What kind of slam to Schuyler County is that?! “Only in Schuyler County...?” Phillips offering a biased opinion with his spin on the evidence for all to read and believe. That’s almost as bad as having a U.S. president or his family say they are ashamed to be Americans...

Good grief -- many of us are glad to live in Schuyler County, proud of our local people, and our local judicial system. If that’s how you feel about our Schuyler citizens and area -- shame on you.

Glad to be a Schuyler-ite
Jeanne Johnson

It's time to approve Crestwood storage

To the Editor on Jan. 4:

The recent announcement of the Southern Tier, Finger Lakes, and Central Regions as winners of URI funds represents a huge opportunity for Upstate New York and could not have come at a better time. New York State has also been both generous and responsive to the economic downturn in the private sector through large subsidies to retain major employers in our region.

That being said, it seems that there is a dichotomy between recent actions and lack thereof with respect to the Crestwood LPG storage proposal in Schuyler County. We have before us an opportunity to promote large investment, create jobs, and expand our tax base, but it’s being stymied by the lack of action from New York State. Failure to issue a decision on the pending permit application is contrary to the recent economic development initiatives, and I fear that this sends the wrong message to businesses looking to relocate to or expand in our great state.

As a County Legislator, and board member of the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development, I have a unique vantage of our region’s opportunities to drive sustainable economic growth. The proposal by Crestwood, the largest taxpayer in Schuyler and Tioga Counties, to store propane in existing salt caverns in Reading is a prime example. Gas storage facilities have been an economic engine in local communities for decades. Crestwood’s plan to reopen the propane storage business previously conducted at the site will build on this proven legacy to create jobs, generate property tax revenue, and keep energy prices stable -- at no cost to taxpayers.

While Albany continues to tout that Upstate is open for business, Crestwood has waited seven years for a permit to break ground. It’s time for the Governor to heed his own technical staff: the State geologist approved the project almost three years ago and DEC Staff, finding no scientific reason refuting it, have endorsed the project’s merits and recommended permit issuance. Rhetoric of emotionally driven special interests who politically oppose all fossil fuel projects does not help struggling families and businesses.

Leadership is the gift that Upstate really needs. The Governor can further help our region, without taxpayer subsidies, by approving Crestwood’s LPG Storage Facility.

Dennis A. Fagan
Schuyler County Legislator, District VIII




The Pulse of the Neighbors

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