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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
expansion should be approved
To the Editor on June 15:
I would like to add my comments to the Dunkin' Donuts
Although I don't live near there, I do live in Watkins and I am happy
to have Dunkin' Donuts in the village. Their parking is severely limited,especially
with no parking allowed on Franklin Street, so I believe many people
just pass them by.
I am thinking mainly of late-night truckers. There is nowhere they can
stop for a cup of coffee or something to eat except for Dunkin' Donuts,
but there is nowhere for them to park. It was different when Chef's
diner was open 24 hours a day; there were always truckers stopping there.
I guess that I have two main concerns. One is that we can give the truckers
a place to stop, have something to eat and rest awhile. That makes the
highways a lot safer. They have no place for that now.
The other concern is that we do not lose Dunkin' Donuts because they
don't get enough customers. We were lucky to get them to open in Watkins
Glen, and I would like for them to stay. I would guess the tourists
like it also.
A business needs parking available to them, and as long as we can provide
it for Dunkin' Donuts I would ask the Planning Board to approve it for
206 N Decatur St., Apt 2
her school betrayed her
To the Editor on June 13:
As a parent of a student who was affected negatively
by a poor decision made by the Watkins Glen School District Administration,
I would like to express my thoughts and concerns.
After my daughter attended the Watkins Glen School District
for 13 years, it went from fairly good to politically disgusting in
one day! I understand someone made a mistake, but what is wrong with
being accountable and to acknowledge your mistake? This is what we teach
our children: to be accountable for their actions. It’s okay to
make a mistake as long as you can be liable for it in the end.
For the complete letter,
the parking-area expansion
To the Editor on June 12:
The Dunkin’ Donuts store located on South Franklin
Street recently submitted a proposal to the Village Planning Board to
expand its current parking area. As a private homeowner, local voter,
taxpayer, and father of two little girls I find this proposal to be
deeply disconcerting. I am troubled by the prospect of the Dunkin' Donuts
franchise tearing down one perfectly good residential property (if not
two) to increase the size of its parking area, and the message it sends
to the citizens of this town, the surrounding area, and the thousands
of tourists who visit each year.
To see the entire
letter, click here.
from Top Drawer 24 committee
To the Editor on June 12:
would like to thank all of our Top Drawer 24 sponsors for their help
in making our celebration a complete success for 2013. Without the help
of such a wonderful and supportive community, our program would not
exist. Some have been involved for many years and others are just joining
in, but all joining together is what makes this event a great success.
We are proud to honor the two-dozen students chosen to
represent the Top Drawer 24 for 2013:
Watkins Glen High School's Chelsea Kennard,
Sarah Wickham, Josh Teeter, Jesse Teeter, Ryan Rondinaro, Mikaela Suddaby,
Katrina Swarthout, Devon Shaw, Sarah Hazlitt, Matt Gill and Samantha
Odessa Montour High School's Brittany
VanAmburg, Sydney Eberhardt, Lee Sidle, Morgan Shutter, Morgan Stermer,
Dakota Simpson, Danielle MacDougall and Dana Roberts.
Trumansburg High's Cal Randle, Mitchell
Swartwood and Tyler Sutherland.
Bradford High School's Hillary Bonning.
Spencer-Van Etten High School's Taylor
Our sponsors were as follows: E.C. Cooper, Lakewood Winery,
Atwater Estate Vineyards, Seneca Lodge, Damiani Winery, Keuka Brewing,
Simmons-Rockwell, Visions Credit Union, Watkins Glen Faculty Association,
Watkins Glen Wrestling Club, National Football League, Watkins Glen
Presbyterian Church, Watkins Glen PBA, BSN Sports and Glen Dairy Bar.
Craig Cheplick, chairman,
and the rest of the Top Drawer 24 Committee
program subject of talk
To the Editor on June 12:
The Odessa Tea Party group would like to invite everyone
to our next regular meeting on Wednesday, June 19 at 7:00 pm. We meet
in the Community Room of the Odessa Municipal Building at 300 East Main
Street in Odessa, NY.
This meeting, our guest speakers will be Lisa Christiansen, Jodi Kohli
and Lisa Johnson. Mss. Christiansen, Kohli and Johnson will be giving
a presentation about the Common Core State Standards currently being
implemented in New York State's public schools. The Common Core curriculum
elevates soft skills like “global awareness,” “media
literacy” and “cross-cultural flexibility” to an equal
footing with academic knowledge. For example, a sample question taken
from one Common Core worksheet asked:
"By cutting down a forest full of beautiful trees a logger makes
(a) What do you think of this way of making money?
(b) How do you think the forest birds and squirrels feel?
(c) Draw a picture of the forest as you would like it to look."
In addition to its misguided social engineering and substitution of
"fluff" for academic skills, the Common Core curriculum is
an infringement on the rights of local parents and school boards to
determine the quality of the curriculum taught in our schools. This
program is being driven by the Federal government, using "Race
To The Top" and economic stimulus funding to coerce states to adopt
the Common Core State Standards in violation of multiple Federal statutes
(20 USC Sec 7097a, 1232a and 3403b) regarding state and local control
Mss. Christiansen, Kohli and Johnson are all mothers of children attending
local schools in Horseheads and Corning/Painted Post. They are very
active in local educational issues and have researched the Common Core
curriculum thoroughly. They are presenting their findings to organizations
throughout the area -- a presentation which is both engaging and highly
informative. Please join us to learn how to recognize and confront this
latest example of progressive indoctrination masquerading as “educational
for the Odessa TEA Party Group
to the 'Silence' commentary
To the Editor on June 10:
Responding to your commentary on Board silence pertaining
to the Watkins Glen Central School District's "Class Ranking"
system, I do feel compelled to respond -- not to begin any dialogue
about District policies but to serve as information people need to know.
I know for a fact that the High School Principal, the Superintendent
and the Board of Education are not happy with the current system utilized
for Class Ranking and steps are underway to make some very positive
changes in that system so that the scenario described by a grandparent
at our most recent Board of Education meeting never happens again. I
do apologize to any student and his/her family if they perceive any
unfair treatment under the present system. Superintendent Tom Phillips,
Principal Dave Warren and high school faculty are implementing a process
of discussion and planning this week which will result in a better "student-friendly"
policy beginning in September. Additionally, a number of other policies
and practices are being reviewed.
As for responding at public Board of Education meetings, it is not a
mandate that Boards of Education provide for "Visitors Comments"
-- we do so out of longstanding practice and our desire to listen to
questions/concerns/comments that we can work on for future improvement.
We do solicit and appreciate those questions/concerns/comments and often
do respond to those that have relatively simple and quick solutions.
With those more complex issues we gather as much information as possible
then respond at a later date with something more substantial. Often
we have requested that the Superintendent respond back in writing to
the concerned party. I believe at our most recent Board meeting I did
thank the person for her comments and did indicate that we appreciated
Please don't lose sight of the fact that we are parents, grandparents,
aunts and uncles also, and we want what is best for ALL students.
Brian J. O'Donnell
Watkins Glen Central School
Board of Education
debate, followed by silence
To the Editor on June 8:
The Watkins Glen High School Model UN and Global Studies
class carries class. I was blessed to be able to meet the group
recently during the culmination of their semester project. After discussing
which of three current-event topics to study in depth, the class, democratically,
chose the Inergy project. The class held two marches on consecutive
evenings down Main Street in Watkins Glen. I went in support of our
up-and-coming generation. Prior to the march on the first evening, each
student spoke as to why they were in favor of the Inergy project, or
why they were not. They attended in total respect to each other. It
was telling -- each felt at ease speaking his and her opinion.
On Wednesday, I was a part of the reporting crew for the Model UN and
Global Studies debate of the Inergy project conducted in the Schuyler
legislative chambers in front of the Legislature. It was a debate that
followed to a T the science of debate. Quick statements out, quick retorts
-- all statements well-researched. Courage they had; timid they were
not -- no matter on which side they stood on the issue.
Post-debate, the class's teacher asked the Legislature if they'd like
to make comments or had questions of the debate team. One legislator
commented on the respect the students had for each other.
No other comments nor questions from any other legislator. The teacher
asked again if the Legislature had comments or questions. A long, silent
pause. The same legislator told the team thank you for presenting, and
what a wonderful job they did. Then silence. It was over. A few of the
legislators did go up and greet and talk with students briefly after.
Several stayed on one side of the room and did not interact. Was it
the cameras? The reporters? The students?
Surely manners, if not politics, dictate a thank you. Entirely odd,
the lack of reception. To be fair, there was a meeting to be held in
the chambers after -- but how much time does it take to walk up and
pat a young person on the back? I felt sad for this team -- but sadder
still for the Legislature, who appeared not able, not knowing, or not
willing to express themselves to our up-and-coming Schuyler generation.
Consolidation hearing important
To the Editor on May 30:
I was hoping you could do a PSA for the Police Consolidation
Public Comment session which will be on Monday, June 3rd, at 7:00 PM.
All residents are encouraged to attend and voice their opinions on the
options in the study, located here.
I appreciate the help! It's a very important meeting and public participation
Watkins Glen Mayor
marks EMS Kids Day
To the Editor on June 1:
Every year in May the nation celebrates EMS Week. This
year Schuyler Ambulance decided to host EMS Kids Day, too.
May 22nd was the designated day and we hosted an open
house for the community along with Girl Scout Troop 40404. The troop,
led by Monica Jackson and Joyce Cole, opened the evening’s events
with a display and safety education information for the girls. The evening
was also open to other members of the Girl Scouts, with about 40 in
attendance. The troop held registration for the 2013-2014 year.
Schuyler Ambulance EMT's talked with them about general
safety, and the girls enjoyed a tour of the station and of an ambulance.
Their ambulance tour taught them all the different types of equipment
used, and the girls asked questions. After the tour, the girls were
given a lesson and information booklets about Bicycle Helmet Safety.
At the closing of the event, the girls gave cookies and
a big thank-you banner to the EMT’s as recognition for their hard
work and dedication to the community. For participating in the event,
the girls also earned a new Ambulance patch for their uniforms.
Schuyler Ambulance encourages the community to come in
and volunteer their time, and receive free training. Persons aged 18
and up are eligible to be volunteers, and we are always looking for
new people. Initially we teach CPR and safe ambulance driving skills,
and volunteers receive a uniform shirt as a part of the orientation.
We also have an Explorers program which allows 15- to 20-year-olds to
volunteer their time, receive free training, and learn about becoming
an EMT while riding along on calls. As a volunteer member, each year
they also receive free continued EMS skills, and education at local
and regional conferences and seminars to keep up with their training.
For those interested in finding a new career field, anyone
who comes in as a volunteer and takes all the training we offer has
the ability to move on to become a paid EMT within six months.
For more information about Schuyler Ambulance or to volunteer your time,
would hurt farms, employees
To the Editor on May 29:
Farming in New York is under attack once again by people
who have never set foot on a farm, but think they know best how a farm
should operate. And frankly, if they succeed, I worry about the future
of farming. The legacy and landscape of agriculture in New York will
The New York Assembly, led by New York City lawmakers,
passed the Farm Workers Fair Labor Practices Act under the guise that
there are no protections in place to safeguard the hardworking men and
women who work on our farms. This assumption could not be more wrong.
There is a long list of state and federal protections that oversee everything
from workplace housing to health and safety standards to wages.
The Farm Labor Bill is also pushing for mandatory overtime
on an individual eight-hour work day and collective bargaining. While
these may work in a structured factory setting, they are not designed
for a family farm. If employees should choose to strike during a critical
week of harvest, a year’s livelihood could be lost. Our dairy
cows in need of milking would also be put in harm’s way. Also,
Mother Nature dictates the schedule during planting and harvest seasons,
not the farmer. A rainy day may keep us out of the field and force us
to play catch-up the next day. Overtime would force many farmers to
limit workers to eight-hour shifts and seek other employees to fill
in the gaps. The migrant farm workers who choose to come to this country
to work hard for a given season would be shortchanged. Other farmers
may simply choose to grow fewer labor-intensive row crops, giving up
on the fresh fruits and vegetables New York is known for.
In the end, farmers treat their employees well because
it is not only the right thing to do, but because the farmers also depend
on their workers for important jobs. If an employee were treated unfairly,
he or she would simply find employment elsewhere. Many of our farm employees
work for the same farms year after year.
I would like to thank Assemblyman Phil Palmesano for
his no vote and continued support for farms in the county and the state.
I encourage you to write or call Governor Cuomo and your state senator
and explain that if this bill should pass, farmers and farm employees
will be hurt.
Stephanie Bergen, President
Schuyler County Farm Bureau
dissolution of the Village police
The following letter was directed to Watkins Glen
Mayor Mark Swinnerton, with a copy provided by the author to The
To Mayor Swinnerton:
With great interest, I have been following the study of the Village’s
police department through The Odessa File and have several
comments which I wish to share. Since I will be in Michigan visiting
our son and his family at the time of the public hearing, I have decided
to do this via letter.
First, let me thank you and the Board for taking on this study. As
we all know, our system of considerably overlapping government is a
product of a time long gone by when transportation from one end of the
jurisdiction to the other often took days or longer and before the advent
of the telephone and the internet. No doubt that this old pattern produces
duplication of efforts and other inefficiencies. My impression is that
the consultants have done a thorough job in cataloguing both the risks
and rewards of any possible consolidation.
In my opinion, the results of this analysis lead to the conclusion
that continuation of the present pattern of police protection is both
outdated and inefficient. As such, I wish to lend my support to the
dissolution of the Village police and a full merger with the Schuyler
County Sheriff’s Department. Since I am also, of course, a resident
of the County, I see no benefit in assuming that the County budget is
any more flexible than that of the Village. However, in some regards,
the Village is now subsidizing the rest of the County by relieving the
Sheriff’s Department of providing equal protection for the Village
residents. Additionally, while I reluctantly but absolutely agree with
the need for a police protection in the schools, I see no need for the
Village to do this at anything less than full cost. This cost should
appropriately be absorbed, in its entirety, by the school district.
While a full consolidation may lead to a sense of reduced comfort by
Village residents, it does not automatically follow that we will be
any less safe. Additionally, this consolidation will allow for the shifting
of police resources in the best way to meet changing needs. Should the
Board choose to move in this direction, I promise to help in seeking
support for the required permissive vote by Village residents.
Thanks again for taking on this study and providing the opportunity
to register my thoughts. Please feel free to share this letter with
the Board and any other way that you choose. I have sent a copy to The
Odessa File in the event that they find it of interest.
thanks his supporters
To the Editor on May 25:
On behalf of Rob Tuttle and myself, I would like to thank
the Odessa-Montour Central School District taxpayers for their overwhelming
support during the last School Board election. I personally will continue
to do what I feel is right and most beneficial for our students and
We would also like to thank the Local and Regional CSEA
for their hard work and professional approach in supporting us.
is invited to awards night
To the Editor on May 23:
As the school year is winding down, it is time to honor
those who have excelled in the arts at Odessa-Montour. The O-M Fine
Arts Boosters will sponsor the Great American Picnic/Awards night Tuesday,
June 4 from 6-8 p.m. outdoors in the courtyard in front of the auditorium
entrance at the high school on College Avenue. The public is cordially
invited to attend.
The Junior High Band, under the direction of Mrs. Michelle Voorheis,
will perform, as will the Senior High Band and Chorus under the direction
of Mrs. Clarice Miles. Hot dogs, hamburgers and picnic fare will be
available for $6 adults, $3 students, and under 5 free, with a family
rate of $20. Proceeds go to the performing organizations and the Boosters
After supper, Principal Chris Wood will emcee the awards ceremony where
our high school musicians and artistic students of Mrs. Karen Gunning
will be honored. Scholarship winners will be announced, and capping
the evening's program will be the bestowing of the Fine Arts Booster
of the Year award for 2012-13.
Please join us, and bring your lawn chair for an evening of music,
food and fun. In case of inclement weather, we will "picnic"
in the high school cafeteria.
Mrs. Kim Laursen, music teacher
Odessa-Montour Central School
Watkins apartment complex
would definitely have a negative impact
The following was sent to the Village of Watkins Glen
Planning Board in late April. Its writer wishes to make it public.
To Whom it May Concern:
My name is Lisa Scaptura, daughter of George and Elizabeth Scaptura.
My parents built our home on North Glen Avenue in the 1950s. It is the
home I was raised in and where I currently reside. I am writing to you
in regard to the Seneca Terrace Project (on the Magee Manor property).
After attending the Planning Board meeting held Wednesday, April 17,
2013, I feel the need to voice my concern in regard to this project.
The architect/engineer who has designed this project has shown a plan
for 28 apartment units on two levels, complete with access roads and
parking for two cars per unit, plus guest parking. They have promised
that these units are high end apartments specifically for "senior
It is my belief that the impact of this structure in our immediate
neighborhood will be negative. Many of the reasons were highlighted
during the board meeting. These included, but were not limited to: increased
traffic, safety, lighting, increased costs, increased noise, and type
of tenants. I agree that these are all extremely valid concerns.
To see the entire
letter, click here.
to those running for WG Board
To the Editor on May 19:
Many thanks to all the fine folks who are running for the Watkins Glen
School Board! Community spirit and volunteerism are alive and well.
We are mighty grateful to have so many candidates willing to donate
hundreds of hours to the well-being of our children.
We are particularly drawn to Kristin Hazlitt as a potential board member.
We have admired her extraordinary work as a representative of the most
vulnerable children in our community. We find her knowledge of our community’s
needs invaluable and are hopeful that she will be elected.
We are deeply appreciative of Kristin’s commitment to education
and are confident that she will be a fierce protector of learning and
teaching across the curriculum. We are thrilled by her desire to be
inclusive of teachers, parents, and students in the decision-making
We have not been well-acquainted with our other candidates and have
been so appreciative of their attendance at Meet the Candidates events
and letters to the editor. What lovely people! We have found Barb Schimizzi’s
voice to be so unfiltered and so authentic -- there is something about
that kind of honesty that is mighty appealing.
All the best to Brian O’Donnell and Joe Fazzary and many thanks
for their years of service.
Kirk J. Peters DVM
those who want district intact
To the Editor on May 19:
I have been keeping up with all being said about the upcoming
O-M board elections and am unnerved by some of the comments.
Having actually been to board meetings, as well as the Meet the Candidates
night, I feel I have unique perspective. I can tell you that board meetings
are very sparsely attended. Until you actually come to one it is hard
to pass judgment on what occurs there, unless you are getting inside
information from a board member, and their personal perception about
I, for one, have never noticed any "cliques." There are some
that most likely share the same vision but every member of that board
is given the opportunity to ask questions and to have those questions
answered. And from what I have seen, every question is answered, addressed,
fully with facts to back up those answers. I have never witnessed in
all the meetings and workshops I have attended, anyone be disregarded,
I do find it funny that there are some that do not want the status
quo. What status quo are we talking about? The one where our board has
worked together to come up with a budget that protects our
children's interest, while coming up with a plan to keep the tax levy
lower than many of our neighboring districts? There is no one person
or group that kept that levy low or came up with the budget this year.
I saw a very collaborative effort that went through many changes throughout
the process before coming up with the final numbers.
One issue that did come up at the Candidates night was the one of consolidation.
The candidates were asked whether consolidation was on their agenda.
Despite the fact that at least one candidate has been very vocal about
the desire to seek potential consolidation with a neighboring district,
that candidate denied that was on the agenda. Those that did attend
found in general that the candidates were well spoken and seemed informed.
I was particularly impressed with Wendy Shutter, who fielded questions
pertaining to "status quo" and the ability to do what is best
for all concerned, students and taxpayers, even if it is not popular.
I also have to say that Mr. Westervelt was very thorough in stating
his position for the future.
Like other submitters to this forum, I do not have any relationships
with the candidates, other than those that occurred through school activities.
I have formed opinions based on all that I have learned from attending
board meetings and doing independent research into the issues that interest
and concern me. In the end we should remember that these positions are
voluntary and unpaid. Every single one of these candidates are there
because they want the best for our district; some just have different
visions for what the best is.
Not one of the candidates, or board members for that matter, are conspiring
with each other to cheat the taxpayers or the students. They all in
their own way are doing what they believe will best benefit us all.
I respect all the candidates for their willingness to put themselves
out there. I just happen to support the vision of Wendy Shutter and
Sharon Lewis. Please vote for the candidates that want to keep our district
intact, while continuing to support our students with programming, both
academic and athletic, that prepares them for the future. Thank you.
Shutter deserve your votes
To the Editor on May 19:
Two of the candidates running for the O-M School Board
are clearly the best choice to represent the district. I believe they
are Sharon Lewis and Wendy Shutter. Just because an "incumbent"
is running doesn't mean that person is the best choice for our future.
Remember, the board is made up of seven individuals; credit for an accomplishment
should not be given to a single member.
After reviewing the minutes of the board meetings for the 2011-2012
and 2012-2013 years (which are published on the O-M Schools website
to date), it shows Sharon Lewis attending 11 meetings, while Rob Tuttle
has only attended 4. I don't see mention of "tough questions"
posed by Rob. Living in a small community, means "everyone knows
everyone" and paths do cross between friendship and political aspirations;
however, that does not mean a person's thoughts and beliefs are not
their own. Sharon and Wendy are independent thinkers, not afraid to
voice their opinions and fight for what they believe in. Do they sound
As a previous officer of the Sports Boosters (I served for 7 years)
I have had the privilege and honor of working with Sharon and Wendy
on projects that took a lot of effort and money. In no instance did
either of these ladies follow the majority. They were not afraid to
disagree with that majority, suggest alternatives and come up with solutions
to any issues the Boosters faced -- and trust me, there were many. Sharon
and Wendy know how to make the tough decisions that they will have to
face as board members.
Please vote for Sharon Lewis and Wendy Shutter on Tuesday to help the
Odessa-Montour School District remain strong and continue the quality
education our students deserve.
Tuttle are the right choices
To the Editor on May 17:
I am a current employee of the Odessa-Montour School district.
I am also a taxpayer in the same district. None of the candidates running
for the open positions this year are my friends. With that said, I must
state that I believe that Scott Westervelt and Robert Tuttle will be
the best choices for the two open spots on the School Board.
Scott Westervelt as an incumbent has been a true representative
of the people who have elected him. He has always been accessible to
the taxpayers and makes his decisions based on fact, not popularity
or peer pressure. As many of you know, he was instrumental in reducing
the tax increase from the 4+ % that was originally set down to the 2%
that it is now. He does not fit into the current “clique”
which has made him an outcast to the current board but makes him invaluable
to our school programs and our tax bills.
Robert Tuttle has been bringing a lot of tough questions
to the board as of late. He is an outspoken individual who I believe
will not fall into the roll of a follower, but rather that of someone
who will find the answers before making decisions. He has proven that
he is capable of following through with the problems that the district
faces by seeking answers that the board was unable to give to him on
In this time of economic hardships it is more important
than ever to disrupt the status quo and open the doors to as many ways
possible to solve our problems and maintain the future of our district.
The worst that we as taxpayers can do is to fall into the political
ways of loyalties, friendships and party lines. Let’s leave that
in Albany and do what's right for the future of our children, our school
and our district.
Lewis are the best choices
To the Editor on May 17:
As a former Board of Education member, current school
employee, taxpayer and parent, I take the election of School Board members
very seriously. This is a non-paid position which is usually a thankless
job, but has enormous impact on the students and staff, as well as taxpayers.
This year there are two seats open, and I feel the best
candidates are Sharon Lewis and Wendy Shutter. Both have supported the
school in various ways over the years, most recently as dedicated officers
of the Odessa-Montour Sports Boosters. Many, many hours have been volunteered
in making the new concession stands become realities. Through years
of fund-raising efforts and strategic planning they were also instrumental
in acquiring the beautiful LED sign on the school grounds. These accomplishments
(as well as numerous others) are a result of dedication, hard work,
budgeting and negotiating… all important attributes of good Board
members. Sharon and Wendy are not representing any one group –
but the entire community of taxpayers, staff and students.
Both have kept abreast on school issues – Sharon
has been a minority of the public that has actually attended almost
every meeting in the last couple of years… not with a "set
agenda," as some do; but because she is a concerned citizen.
People must realize that some tough decisions have to
be made and there is protocol that needs to be followed. The role of
the Board, as with any legislative body, is to act collectively, not
individually. It is the Board’s job to set policy and entrust
the daily operations to the people who have been hired to do just that.
It is not the Board’s responsibility to micromanage or have direct
contact in day-to-day labor relations. As far as opening the lines of
communication, the lines have never been "closed." Procedures
are in place and followed when issues are raised. Both Sharon and Wendy
have experience dealing with Boards in their respective careers and
understand the Board’s role in policy making, planning and appraisal.
Having worked with both Sharon and Wendy over the past years, I can
also attest to their ability to "speak their mind" and fight
for what they believe in. Neither are "followers"….
They are leaders willing to commit the time and effort on behalf of
all the stakeholders.
Please plan to vote on Tuesday, May 21st – the
polls will be open from noon-8 p.m. at the Hanlon Elementary School
– and cast your votes for dedicated, concerned citizens who want
to uphold the fiscal integrity of Odessa-Montour while maintaining student
successes, strong teaching and support staff. Clearly, those candidates
are Sharon Lewis and Wendy Shutter.
Debra M. Dupuy
Lewis will be loyal to taxpayers
To the Editor on May 15:
The A. Moralis article on The Odessa File makes
several good points, but ends with the statement that board member loyalty
should be to the taxpayer. Sharon Lewis and Wendy Shutter also believe
we should be loyal to the school district's taxpayer. That loyalty,
however, should not be measured strictly based on the tax levy of the
If your community is to thrive, your school district must
provide the residents' families with a marketable and well-rounded education.
This includes robust programs providing experiences in sports, arts,
music, technology, and social awareness. When families have a choice
where to live, a school district with a variety of programs and supports
for their children is a determining factor.
Our current board has done a wonderful job maintaining
programs while minimizing tax increases. We hope to join that team and
keep providing our current and future residents with the best we can
offer. Please help us do that by voting for us on May 21st.
Wendy Shutter and Sharon Lewis
Lewis and Shutter
To the Editor on May 15:
I would like to encourage voters to cast their votes for
Sharon Lewis and Wendy Shutter in next week’s Odessa-Montour school
As an involved parent myself, I know the amount of hours
it takes to accomplish successful events at the school. I have been
involved in PFO, Sports Boosters events, and the After Prom Party and
have seen first-hand the work and dedication that Sharon and Wendy have
given to this school, the students and staff. So many things happen
"behind the scenes" that people take for granted … these
two are some of the driving force that makes these events happen.
The obvious succession to this type of dedication and
involvement is to serve on the Board of Education. They are committed
to the welfare of the district, staff and students. Their knowledge
of the district and their professional backgrounds make them ideal candidates
for the position.
Voting will take place on Tuesday, May 21 from noon to
8 p.m. in the Hanlon Elementary School. Please think about all that
Sharon Lewis and Wendy Shutter have to offer and support two candidates
who have the district’s best interests in mind.
'We are all in this together'
To the Editor on May 14:
My name is Barbara McGrath Schimizzi and I am running
for the Watkins Glen Central School District Board of Education.
My parents, Robert (Sarge) and Sundine Nitche McGrath, moved their
family back to Watkins Glen to raise us after my father retired from
the U.S. Air Force. They wanted us to know what a great community Watkins
Glen was and still is. I attended both the Middle and High Schools.
I reside in the house my parents previously owned with my husband, Dominick
(Buddy), and our two sons, Max, an eighth grader and Alex, a seventh
I work in Geneva as a Clinical Coordinator of the CT department at
Geneva General Hospital.
I am currently involved in the Boy Scouts Troop 2674 and Saint Mary's
of the Lake Youth Group, and when my sons were younger, I was involved
in the Watkins Glen PTO. I believe one thing that particularly qualifies
me to serve on the BOE is I have regularly attended School Board meetings
for the past three years to become informed as much as possible and
to better know the personnel of the district. As a member of the audience,
I was never afraid to express my opinions, being a firm believer that
we are all in this together.
I want the children of the Watkins Glen Central School District to
get the very best education possible. I believe we have an obligation
to be fiscally responsible to the taxpayers while also being able to
walk that fine line in avoiding staff and program cuts. It’s a
tightrope that I am willing to balance if elected to the School Board.
Please consider me in the voting booth on May 21, 2013. The budget
and open seats on the Board of Education vote will be held at the High
School from 9am-8pm. Everyone who is 18 and a resident of the district
Barbara McGrath Schimizzi
'I will be a positive voice'
To the Editor on May 13:
My name is Mark Franzese and I am running for the Board
of Education in the Watkins Glen School District. I am running because
I care about our kids! I have 3 children in the district and I want
them to have quality educational and extra-curricular experiences that
should be afforded every child.
The reality of the current challenge facing education
as funding continues to be reduced at the federal and state level is
that schools have two choices: Shift the cost for educating children
to the local taxpayers or think about possibilities and find creative
solutions. I believe the latter is the most responsible approach.
The school district has lost over 500 students since 1980,
state funding for education in Watkins Glen is less than it was in 2009
and the district has lost over $2 million in federal funding. With the
loss of student population and the loss of federal and state funding,
it is only responsible to evaluate this information in an effort to
preserve the future of the Watkins Glen Central School District.
I will be a positive voice on the School Board as we evaluate
ideas, solutions and opportunities for problem solving. We must find
ways to preserve programs while ensuring fiscal responsibility by controlling
costs and minimizing the property tax impact to our local community.
Please remember to vote Tuesday, May 21st! Thank you and I appreciate
your support. Please vote Mark Franzese Watkins Glen Board of Education.
you all to vote for Tom Lewis
To the Editor on May 13:
I have known Tom Lewis and his family for several years
and I can tell you that as a former Odessa-Montour School Board member,
I know Tom has what it takes to be successful. Tom is a dedicated husband
and father who cares about the students, taxpayers and teachers of the
Watkins Glen Central School District. His wife Jenny, is a teacher in
the O-M district, which helps him have a broader knowledge then most
of the candidates regarding what teachers are facing on a daily basis.
Tom's background in the Healthcare Industry gives him
a thorough understanding of the challenges that continue to face all
school districts in that regard. However, the one thing that sets Tom
apart the most, in my opinion, is that he is deliberate and thoughtful
in all of his responses. Tom will not take one side or another quickly.
He will weigh the opinions and facts of both sides of any argument and
he will make his decision based on what he feels will be in the best
interest of the WGCS district.
Tom cares most about the programs that are offered for
the students of Watkins Glen. He will do what needs to be done to preserve
those programs. He is not in favor of an OM/WG school merger, but does
see the potential in the many ways the two districts can continue to
work together. Tom is and will be a wonderful choice for the School
Board in Watkins Glen. I urge you all to vote for Tom Lewis.
for Devon was heartwarming
To the Editor on May 13:
Last Saturday night I had the privilege of being a small
part of the Play for Devon basketball event held at the Field
House in Watkins Glen. It was heartwarming to see the number of people
-- students, faculty and community members -- who came out to support
Devon and his family.
Linda Gregory put in endless hours organizing this event
and rallying support from business and community members. A special
thank-you to all of the businesses who donated items or services, as
well as to those individuals who made items for the numerous raffles
conducted throughout the event. We are forever grateful for your support
of Devon and the efforts of the school to support him and his family.
We even had Village Mayor Mark Swinnerton and District Attorney Joe
Fazzary as “officials.”
As I sat in the Field House Saturday night and looked
around, I once again took stock of how fortunate we are to live in a
place where students, faculty and community come together as one to
support “one of our own.” I have often said I love working
and living here, and Saturday night was an example of why Schuyler County
is a great place to live.
Superintendent of Schools
meeting subject: '4th Branch'
To the Editor on May 10:
The Odessa Tea Party group would like to invite everyone
to our next regular meeting on Wednesday, May 15 at 7:00 pm. We meet
in the Community Room of the Odessa Municipal Building at 300 East Main
Street in Odessa, NY.
This meeting, our guest speaker will be John Darash from Dutchess County
who will speak about the Common Law Grand Jury, our nearly unknown "fourth
branch of government." Mr. Darash will describe the origins, operations
and powers of the Common Law Grand Jury and will tell of his project
to institute Common Law Grand Juries in all counties in New York State.
Mr Darash believes that this Common Law Grand Jury is the key to safeguarding
the rights of citizens and preserving the U.S. Constitution. Please
join us to learn about this new and very surprising information.
Mark Rondinaro, for the Odessa Tea Party Group
affect local streams?
To the Editor on May 10:
No one can say with certainty how or if hydrofracking
will impact our streams, lakes and rivers. The Community Science Institute
(CSI), based in Ithaca, is recruiting and training several groups of
volunteers for its "Red Flag" Stream Monitoring program to
The Community Science Institute is a nonprofit organization whose mission
is to empower citizens to monitor and protect their community's natural
resources, especially water. In addition to partnering with volunteer
groups, CSI also operates a state certified water quality testing lab
(NYSDOH-ELAP #11790). CSI currently partners with twelve volunteer groups
in the Cayuga Lake watershed and Upper Susquehanna River Basin, covering
over 1,700 square miles of drainage area.
Water monitoring by volunteer groups in partnership with the certified
laboratory is a low-cost and effective strategy for tracking water quality.
With support from the CSI lab, volunteers will perform regular "red
flag" field tests on stream samples to assess whether or not contamination
occurs from shale gas operations. If a "red flag" is found,
the CSI lab will perform further testing. Training workshops for the
program will be held in July & August 2013.
CSI will be holding the following Information Sessions for interested
volunteers in the Chemung and Schuyler county areas:
-- Monday, May 13th, 6:30 PM at the Steele Memorial Library, located
at 101 E. Church Street in Elmira.
-- Thursday, May 30th, 6:00 PM at the Montour Falls Public Library,
located at 406 Main Street in Montour Falls.
Come and find out how CSI's stream monitoring program works and how
to get involved!
If you would like to get involved but cannot come to the Info Sessions,
please email Becky Bowen, CSI's Outreach Coordinator, at email@example.com
or call 607-257-6606.
to Moose for hosting breakfast
To the Editor on May 9:
Schuyler Nursery School would like to give a very special
thank you to the Montour Falls Moose Club for hosting our recent pancake
breakfast fundraiser. All of the planning and hard work put in by all
is really appreciated.
Thank you also to the community for attending the breakfast
and supporting this great community program.
Schuyler Nursery School
to Haeffner for trial coverage
To the Editor on May 9:
The Schuyler County community owes a debt of gratitude
to Charlie Haeffner for his professional coverage of the recently completed
murder trial in Schuyler County Court. This was a very complicated trial
prosecuted by our District Attorney. No journalist who attended the
trial, other than Charlie, gave us a complete diary of every day's proceedings.
Charlie distilled every day's testimony to a summary,
and detailed what every witness said. Without The Odessa File's
record we would have known very little about the trial. I am sure that
I speak for many citizens who are thankful to Charlie for devoting his
professional time to being a "trial reporter." We are a better
informed citizenry because of his efforts. Thank you, Charlie, for a
job very well done.
The Reverend Michael Hartney
Episcopal Parishes of Schuyler County
what district needs
To the Editor on May 8:
I am writing to support Sharon Lewis in her bid for a
seat on the Odessa-Montour School Board.
She has been a presence to the students and parents of
the Odessa-Montour Schools for years through her participation with
the Sports Boosters. She has gone above and beyond to show her support
for our athletes, such as keeping the picture boards up to date and
helping in the creation of our first-ever sports yearbook. These things
give our students a sense of pride and show them we recognize their
accomplishments. Many of these activities take up hours of her personal
time, which she gives happily.
She has also attended board meetings regularly and has stayed up to
date and involved in the important issues our district faces. She gives
thoughtful consideration to the subject of the meetings and bases her
opinions on the facts presented.
I believe she understands what this district needs and will keep the
best interests of the students and the district in the forefront of
on term-limits law is May 13
To the Editor on May 8:
I would like to remind everyone that on Monday, May 13,
at 6:50 pm, the Schuyler County Legislature will be holding a public
hearing on a proposed local law to institute term limits for Schuyler
County Legislators. This local law, if passed, will set a limit of 12
years of continuous service for all legislators, such limit being calculated
beginning with the legislators elected in the 2013 election.
This law, if approved by the legislature, will be placed
before the voters as a referendum in the 2013 election and will only
go into force with a positive vote of the electorate.
I am a strong supporter of this local law, as I believe
that, over time, it will help to bring new ideas and voices to our legislature.It
will also break through the "group think" that develops when
a group of incumbents has been working together for years. It will especially
lessen the influence of the County Administrator, since, for at least
a certain period, he will have to explain to the new members why it
is that Schuyler County does things the way that we do them.
I urge all Schuyler County residents to come to the public
hearing and voice your views on this proposal. Alternatively, if you
are unable to attend this hearing, please call or email your legislators
to let them know where you stand on this issue. Their contact information
is as follows:
Dennis Fagan, chair - District 1, Tyrone (R) - Chairman@co.schuyler.ny.us,
Doris L. Karius - District III, Hector (R) - Legislature@co.schuyler.ny.us,
Thomas M. Gifford - District II, Montour (R) - T5141@aol.com, (607)
Glenn R. Larison. - District III, Catharine (R) - firstname.lastname@example.org,
Michael A. Yuhasz - District II, Dix (R) - Legislature@co.schuyler.ny.us,
Stewart F. Field, Jr. - District I, Reading (R) - email@example.com,
Barbara J. Halpin, - District III, Catharine (R) - firstname.lastname@example.org,
Philip C. Barnes - District II, Dix (R) email@example.com, (607)
Finally, I suggest that if you support this proposal, please note which
legislators vote to block this referendum from coming before the voters.
There will be four legislative seats up for election in November, and
this is an important issue to consider when deciding who to support
in the primary and general elections.
To the Editor on May 3:
for help on Fisherman's meal
To the Editor on May 3:
A BIG thank you goes out to Montour Moose Lodge #426 for
hosting the Annual Fisherman’s Breakfast for Schuyler Outreach
Food Pantry and also to the dedicated volunteers and supportive patrons.
The breakfast was a huge success! Because of their efforts,
we will be able to purchase six tons of food for families all
over Schuyler County. We would also like to extend a special thank you
to Hazlitt’s Winery and the Watkins Glen Walmart.
Thank you again for all your help and support. Hope to
see you next year!
I am running for School Board
To the Editor on April 29:
My name is Kristin Hazlitt and I am running for the Watkins
Glen School Board. My husband, Fred Wickham, and I have two children
currently in middle school who have attended school in Watkins Glen
since kindergarten. For the last ten years, I have been employed by
Schuyler County as the Assistant County Attorney serving as the Social
Services attorney. I prosecute cases of child abuse and neglect and
pursue child support. Both my personal and professional lives have been
focused on the children of this County. In addition, my professional
life has made me aware of the needs of children from backgrounds that
may be very different from my own.
Serving on the Watkins School Board will be no easy job with the current
budget crisis. Our current School Board has been confronted with the
task of making tough decisions for the school district, and I have no
doubt that there are more tough decisions on the horizon. I hope to
be a part of making those decisions responsibly to be sure that the
students in our district have a well-rounded education that ensures
their future opportunities. I can tell you that I am a parent who believes
strongly in preserving the arts in education. But at this cross roads,
with so many programs at risk, I have no such limited agenda. I was
very impressed with the students who spoke at our recent school district
public forum. They noted that having opportunities during their educational
experience that went beyond core classes was not just for their fun
and pleasure, but made them the well-rounded people that colleges looked
for when they applied. Whether students are college bound or not, they
need that wealth of experiences to succeed in life.
While working in the social services arena professionally, I have witnessed
budget cuts and lost programs and services. I know that the people working
on the front lines of those services are the ones who know best where
the “fat” is and what services are essential. Yet the people
who know best are seldom the ones asked to participate in the decision-making
process. I would hope to be part of a school board that keeps open communication
with the teachers, administrators and students and considers that input
when the hard decisions are made.
The public forum discussed the issue of whether consolidation of school
districts should be considered. I think that all of these creative options
must be discussed as well as others that look at infrastructure rather
than programs. But I noted as well that another member of the audience
asked if such consolidation would preserve the programs that we are
otherwise afraid of losing. The answer given was that we simply do not
know. Whatever happens next must be the result of creative thinking
backed up by good, solid information. I would like to serve on the School
Board to be a part of the process.
for education: a rally cry
The following account of a run around Seneca Lake
in support of education was submitted by Marie Fitzsimmons, a Watkins
Glen High School teacher.
To the Editor on April 27:
The WGHS Staff has been working so hard to protect education.
We have marched in Albany, written to the governor, rallied with TAE,
written letters to the editor, worked with the student SOS committee,
attended board meetings and spoken passionately for the needs of students.
In December, we made a commitment to run around Seneca
Lake as part of the Seneca 7 Event to continue our rally for education.
With our students in our hearts, we gathered at 5:30 Sunday, April 21
and began a journey that was truly exquisite. Some of us have been running
our whole lives and some of us are new to the world of racing. It did
not matter; we all laced up our running shoes, with matching WGHS Seneca
shirts and education slogans on our back and began a journey that will
stay with us for a long time!
For the complete
letter, click here.
'68 reunion set at alumni picnic
To the Editor on April 26:
The OMCS Class of 1968 will be having its class reunion
at the Alumni picnic on May 25, 2013. Please contact Kathy Cleveland
at 6086 State Route 224, Cayuta, NY 14824 for tickets and information.
The cost is $10 per person or $25 for a family. Bring a dish to pass,
along with water or soda. The picnic will be held at the Catherine Park
Class of 1968
trial coverage is excellent
To the Editor on April 26:
I have to tell you how complete and informative your information
regarding the Trappler trial is. I feel as though I am in the courtroom.
There is no sugar coating. All information is matter of fact, clear
and spot on. The photographs are also very good, but The Odessa
File always has excellent photos. So "Excellent Job"
to you and your staff.
Patti Woods Dryburgh
ads resonate with me
To the Editor on April 24:
I loved my mother. She and her three siblings had all
been valedictorian of their high school class. Being the oldest of four
and her parents dying early in life, she married and went to work. She
was effervescent, an athlete and married a local baseball star, my dad.
Unfortunately, my mom also smoked a lot.
The recent anti-smoking TV commercials resonate with me.
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death. My mom died in
1983 at age 67 from lung cancer. My son, who was four, never really
got to know his grandmother.
Mom could never seem to quit smoking...until...they found
the spot on her lung. She quit, but was gone in four months.
There are many ways we can destroy our health. In the
case of tobacco use, the evidence speaks for itself.
James E. Hare
you to friends, family and team
Submitted on April 18:
On this day, the 6th birthday of Seneca Physical Therapy,
I wanted to spread the incredible joy and gratitude that I feel.
You, in an instrumental way, have contributed to our success and helped
attach helium balloons to a dream that I couldn't have made a reality
on my own. Thank you for your confidence that exceeded my own, reminders
of what is possible around the corner that I might not have been able
to see and your unwavering support. You, my friends, family and team
that I work with, are what has made this day possible.
With sincere appreciation,
for county lawn treatment?
To the Editor on April 17:
For several of the 10 years I lived at 1006 North Decatur
Street, Watkins Glen, I contracted with EarthGuard of Corning, NY (father-son
team) to treat my lawn quarterly with weed killer, fertilizer, etc.
The first year Jim provided aeration at a nominal, additional fee, and
often times even seeded bare spots at no charge.
Cost? $45 quarterly = $180 annually.
Yesterday I drove around the entire Schuyler County Court House block
to compare its lawn to my former lawn, and estimate the green area to
be two, no more than three times, larger than the combined front and
back yards at 1006 Decatur Street (for those unaware, I had a large,
spacious back yard, lush from EarthGuard's treatments).
I would guess that TruGreen (a national company) has made quite a profit
at taxpayer expense, myself included.
I'm betting EarthGuard, phone #607-562-3797, might offer a far, far
lower price for a healthy courthouse lawn.
Why is a national chain, and not a local business, being used by the
Thank you, Barbara Halpin, for giving your fellow legislators a reality
Mary Fanara (formerly Simiele)
FBI official to speak at meeting
To the Editor on April 10:
The Odessa Tea Party group would like to invite everyone to our next
regular meeting on Wednesday, April 17 at 7:00 pm. We meet in the Community
Room of the Odessa Municipal Building at 300 East Main Street in Odessa,
At this meeting, our group will host retired FBI Assistant Director
Van Harp. Mr Harp, a 33-year FBI veteran, was in charge of the Bureau's
Washington, D.C. field office at the time of the 9/11 attacks. Following
his retirement from the FBI, he was employed managing security in the
private sector, most recently at Corning, Inc.
Mr Harp will discuss topics including Homeland Security, federal overreach,
and organizational differences in managing governmental and private
security operations. We are very fortunate to have someone with such
a breadth of experience available to address our group, and invite everyone
to join us to hear him.
for the Odessa Tea Party Group
democracy in Hector?
To the Editor on April 10:
My husband and I attend many meetings these days and most
of our friends and neighbors attend many meetings these days regarding
local, state and federal government matters. It is the most extraordinary
example of civic responsibility and of a democracy at work.
Or is it?
At the Hector Town Board meeting last night, Tuesday,
April 9, 2013, the experience justified why many citizens would give
up on the democratic process and participation.
For the Town of Hector, the most pressing current affair
is our environment and how we as a town map our future and our legacy
regarding clean air and water. But over the past two years, we in Hector
face a board that persistently ignores its constituents, and which makes
a mockery of civic participation. How are its members not embarrassed
to carry on this way?
Last night’s issue for the people attending was
the vacancy on the board since the tragic loss of Cliff Yaw as a member.
With overwhelming pressure and opinion to fill the seat, and with plenty
of legal justification and precedent, the board refused to respond,
continuing to leave the citizens of Hector without fair representation.
It is theater of the absurd for local folks to watch. We have devoted
hours and hours to these meetings over the past two years and never
get a response on the agenda items presented.
The citizens of Hector overwhelmingly support a ban on
fracking. Mr. (Supervisor Ben) Dickens made it clear last night that
as long as he has control, it will never be discussed with
the public. Citizens are being encouraged to attend the countywide meetings
for the Schuyler County Comprehensive Plan. Why would we when the professional
survey executed for Hector’s Comprehensive Plan has gone absolutely
ignored, the Board acting like it doesn’t exist. Anyone can go
on-line and look at the results of the survey and understand that
it doesn't matter that citizens participated and made their wishes
clear. As long as the current Hector Town Board does as it pleases,
we do not have a democracy in Hector.
I am not the first to feel frustrated and impassioned
about this situation, and many people have spoken eloquently at meetings
and in public regarding our stalemate here in this vibrant community.
But witnessing last night’s meeting was too much for me.
My fellow citizens and neighbors, let’s vote these
people out and return to democracy. Before Mr. Dickens says “next
agenda item” one more time.
in Chumpcars race
To the Editor on April 6:
I wanted to fill you in on a little project four friends
and I have been working on for the past couple of months. I (Connor
Evans), along with Jason Hazlitt, Eric Upham, Matt Fitch and Rob Roessel,
have been building a race car for the upcoming "Chumpkins Glen"
event April 13th-14th at Watkins Glen International.
We decided back in January that we would put together
a local team to run against over 80 teams from across the U.S. and Canada
and try to win a very unusual type of race at a world-renowned facility.
The Chumpcar circuit is a race series that is focused
on getting the average person on the track to compete head to head with
other car enthusiasts from around the continent -- the catch being that
a car's value can't exceed $500. After many hours and a lot of sweat,
we have a car, five drivers and a 15-hour endurance race to look forward
If you want to see more check out our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hector-Racing/289676527821307
Here is the link to the Chumpcars website: http://chumpcar.com/
I hope to see you at the track on April 13th-14th!
A cause bigger than just me
The following letter was circulated to friends and
family by Jeff Kellogg, a Watkins Glen High School graduate.
The late Christopher Reeve, immortalized as "Superman"
on the big screen, and as a visionary and hero in his personal life,
wisely stated, "At first something seems impossible; then it becomes
improbable; but with enough conviction and support it becomes inevitable."
Currently in the United States there are 1.275 million
people living with spinal cord injury, more than 5 times the number
of Americans previously estimated in 2007 (255,702). Great strides have
been made; people are living healthier, vibrant lives, and many are
walking again thanks to the work of the Christopher & Dana Reeve
Foundation. The Reeve Foundation is committed to finding treatments
and cures for spinal cord injuries. To achieve this goal, the Foundation
funds some of the most brilliant minds in neuroscience – researchers
who are poised to deliver the answers that will change the lives of
spinal cord-injured people worldwide.
As I train, I will not lose sight of why I am really putting myself
to this challenge. It is always for a cause bigger than just me. Running
a marathon is certainly nothing compared to the "marathon"
that those living with spinal cord injury face every day. That is why
I have decided to run with Team Reeve® in the Bank of America Chicago
Marathon on October 13, 2013.
For those of you less familiar with my personal experience, here is
a quick rundown:
On September 29, 2007 I broke my neck and suffered an incomplete spinal
cord injury. After being airlifted to the hospital and hours of surgery,
the immediate result was loss of all motor function (paralysis) of everything
other than my left arm. I progressively began to regain use of my left
leg. The shorter term result was continued loss of motor function on
the right side of my body, specifically the right leg and right hand,
with sensory loss on the left side, also known as Brown-Sequard Syndrome.
I was a patient at Kessler Medical Rehab in New Jersey, where I was
discharged using a walker.
What followed was years of physical and occupational therapy. After
a lot of hard work and determination, fueled by the support of my amazing
family and friends, I have completed two half-marathons and I strongly
feel it is now time to capitalize on the second chance I have been provided
and raise awareness for this amazing foundation. It will be the hardest
physical challenge post-accident and I am full of excitement to demonstrate
the power of positive thought, modern medicine, and hard work.
All of the Kessler patients I met inspired me to work harder, and will
continue to be my inspiration, as well as the hundreds of thousands
of individuals living with spinal cord injury every day.
But there is no way I can do this alone! Please help me support the
vital work of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.
My goal is to raise at least $2,600 ($100/mile) and, of course, cross
the finish line. This money will enable continued research, education,
and services for patients and their families.
All donations are 100% tax deductible.
Thank you for all the support and I will leave you with my favorite
quote from Christopher Reeve:
“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to
persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”
P.S.: Donations made simple ... Below is the link to my website to make
a donation online (via credit card).
You can also make a check out to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation
(be sure to include my name and Bank of America Chicago Marathon in
the memo field) and mail to:
Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation
636 Morris Turnpike, Suite 3A
Short Hills, NJ 07078
Attn: Team Reeve
lucky to have Gifford
To the Editor on March 23:
I am glad to see that Tom Gifford has decided to run for
the county legislature after all.
In addition to his time on the legislature, I remember him when I used
to work at Schuyler Hospital and Tom was on the hospital board. In addition
to being honest and capable, he was always willing to listen to anything
that anyone had to say.
For many years Tom has unselfishly volunteered his time to the county,
and we are lucky to have him. He deserves to be elected again.
in Our Schools concert is March 20
To the Editor on March 13:
All across the nation, March is Music In Our Schools
month, and we are celebrating at Odessa-Montour with a grand concert
on Wednesday, March 20 featuring all of the musicians in our school
from grades 3-12. We would like to invite the public to come share the
music with us at 7 p.m. in the Fetter-Brown Auditorium. We may be a
very small school district, but we have over 250 students involved in
chorus and/ or band!
There will be performances by the Elementary Choruses directed by Mrs.
Kim Laursen, the Elementary and Junior High School Band directed by
Mrs. Michelle Voorheis, and the Junior and Senior High School chorus
and Senior High Band directed by Mrs. Clarice Miles. Our amazing and
faithful accompanist, Mrs. Sally Michel, has played for students at
O-M for over 40 years! We hope to see you at this wonderful event!
Mrs. Kim Laursen
O-M, music teacher
Sunrise singers sought
To the Editor on March 12:
Calling all singers! If you would like to sing in the
Community Easter Sunrise service on March 31 at 6:30 a.m. at the south
entrance to the Watkins Glen State Park, please join us this Sunday,
March 17 at 3 p.m. for our first rehearsal. It will be at the Montour
Falls United Methodist Church on Owego Street in Montour Falls.
Two other rehearsals are planned -- on Saturday, March
23 at the church, and on Saturday, March 30 at the State Park. Music
and rehearsal CD's will be provided.
All are welcome! For more information or to RSVP, call
Kim Caldwell Laursen at 607-594-6565.
to voice concern to legislators
To the Editor on March 10:
I would like to remind everyone that on Monday, March
11, at 6:45 p.m., the Schuyler County Legislature will be holding a
public hearing on a proposed local law to replace the elected office
of County Treasurer with an appointed Director of Finance. As many of
you know, I am very opposed to this action. My reasons for opposing
this change can be found on this very forum, in a letter dated on September
8th of last year, so I will not repeat them again here.
I believe that our legislature is unified in support of this change,
and that whatever is said at the public hearing will not change that
fact. I therefore anticipate that this issue will go to the ballot for
the voters of Schuyler County to decide. That is as it should be, and
I plan to bring this issue back to public attention as the election
season approaches. For now, however, we have one final opportunity to
publicly express our views on this issue, and I invite all Schuyler
County residents to appear at the public hearing and to provide the
legislators with their input.
To the Editor on March 10:
The Watkins Glen High School Sports Booster Club is now
accepting applications for scholarships for summer sports camps. Any
Watkins Glen student currently in grades 8 through 11 is eligible to
apply for assistance with sports camp fees. Application forms are available
at the Middle School and High School Main Offices. Forms must be returned
to the Booster Club by April 19, 2013. Amounts awarded to applicants
will be determined by the number of requests. For more information,
e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call Lisa Palumbo at 546-4230.
WG Booster Club Secretary
to address gun law twice
To the Editor on March 10:
On Tuesday, March 19 from 6:00-8:00 p.m., Schuyler County
Sheriff William Yessman will be hosting an informational meeting on
the NY Secure Ammunition and Firearms Act (NY SAFE Act) in the auditorium
of the Odessa-Montour High School. This meeting will present information
about the Act and its provisions but will not be an opportunity to discuss
the merits (or lack thereof) of the Act itself.
The following evening, on Wednesday, March 20 from 7:00-8:30 p.m.,
Sheriff Yessman will appear at the March meeting of the Odessa Tea Party
group to explain his reasons for opposing the NY SAFE Act. After Sheriff
Yessman's presentation, we will have an open discussion period to allow
all area residents to express their views about this law and the extraordinary
way that it was passed.
This meeting will take place in the Community Room of the Odessa Municipal
Building at 300 East Main Street in Odessa, NY. We hope for a lively
discussion and welcome all perspectives on the value of this law. I
personally consider this law to be both ineffective in reducing violent
crime and a grave infringement on our rights guaranteed by the Second
Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I am, however, very interested in
hearing well-considered alternate views. To facilitate a productive
discussion, we ask that everyone attending please come prepared to express
their views in a respectful manner.
We invite everyone to attend this meeting to become more informed on
the NY SAFE Act, and to express support to Sheriff Yessman for his leadership
on this important issue.
to those who helped on fundraiser
To the Editor on March 10:
Watkins Glen Senecas Lacrosse thanks our volunteers who
made our Spaghetti Fundraiser a success: Chip Dunham, Tammy Clarkson,
Amy & Lexi Deraiche, Jannica & Mark Moskal, Gretchen Van Valen,
Danielle Cummings, Brenen Murphy and future players Aidan DeBolt, Garrett
Bellinger, Jackson Dunham, Dalton Cummings and Lucas Wickham.
Special thanks to the following businesses for their support:
Valero/Stewart P. Wilson, Jerlando's Ristorante, WGI, Washington College
Lacrosse, Glen Mountain Market, Hobart Lacrosse, Peters Supply, Nelson
Development Group, Hector FUDGE, Harbor Hotel, Odessa File, Maria's
Tavern, Savard's, WG McDonald's, Elks Lodge #1546, WG Walmart, WG TOPS,
Sam's Club, and Dunkin' Donuts.
If you missed the fundraiser you can still contribute
by sending funds to Watkins Glen Central Schools, Attn: Gayle Sedlak,
303 12th Street, Watkins Glen NY 14891 and asking for your donation
to go to the lacrosse expenses fund. Watch for details on our Chili
Cookoff in April. Thank you!
Watkins Glen Senecas Lacrosse
cut threatens Arc services
To the Editor on March 5:
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo recently proposed
a $240 million across-the-board budget cut to voluntary programs providing
supports and services to people with developmental disabilities effective
April 1, 2013. For The Arc of Schuyler, this 6% cut means an annual
income reduction of up to $600,000.
With agencies on the brink, critical staff stretched to the breaking
point, an ocean of new regulations, and nearly $300 million in cuts
over a 3-year period, the implications of this reduction are severe.
Health and safety risks will be increased. Program quality will be reduced.
The ability of people we support to be included members of our community
will be undermined.
The Arc has joined with its statewide association, NYSARC, Inc. and
other associations across New York State to fight this budget cut. Family
members, self-advocates, and volunteers are in an ideal position to
influence and inform our local legislators about the need for out-of-home
residential placement, day services for their adult child, and other
quality services for people with
developmental disabilities and how these supports will be difficult
to provide with these cuts.
Governor Cuomo is asking the State legislature to pass his budget by
April 1, 2013. Local representatives, Tom O'Mara and Phil Palmesano
will play important roles in whether or not these cuts are enacted.
People can help advocate for services for people with developmental
disabilities. Contact Senator Tom O'Mara and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano
at their District or Albany office to request an appointment within
the next few weeks where you can share concerns about what these cuts
When you call:
--Introduce yourself and tell the Senator or Assemblyman that you are
a concerned constituent and describe your interest in people with developmental
Tell them what these cuts will mean:
--This severe budget cut will have devastating effects for thousands
of vulnerable New Yorkers and their families.
--Critical services for people with developmental disabilities cannot
be sustained with such a significant loss of funding.
--Direct support professionals and employees across the state could
lose their jobs through layoffs, creating critical staff shortages.
--Voluntary agencies will have diminished ability to comply with key
health and safety regulations, and health and safety risks will increase
for people with developmental disabilities who should be protected.
--There has been an enormous increase in costly regulatory mandates
that have exceeded the capabilities of current funding and staff.
--These cuts are in direct conflict with the Americans with Disabilities
--These cuts will threaten the quality of life for more than 120,000
people with developmental disabilities statewide.
The Arc of Schuyler
to all who attended Pasta Night
To the Editor on March 1:
On behalf of Spirit of Schuyler, I would like to thank
everyone who attended the Glenora Pasta Night Thursday and, especially,
Tom Phillips for being our "Guest Chef"!
was a huge success
To the Editor on March 1:
CASA of the Southern Tier, Inc. held our first ever Zumbathon
on February 23, 2013. This fundraiser was a huge success; over 150 Zumba
enthusiasts came out to dance and we were able to raise $4,550 to help
serve abused and neglected children in Chemung, Schuyler and Steuben
This event could not have been successful without the support and dedication
given by the community. We would like to thank our 10 outstanding Zumba
instructors who volunteered their time and energizing dancing talents;
our participants, vendors and sponsors: Simmons Rockwell, Bellacapelli
Salon, Minier’s, Weiss Markets and Corning American Legion; and
WETM 18 New and Backyard Broadcasting for promoting our event on the
air. We would also like to thank the volunteers for everything they
helped us do to make this a great experience.
CASA of the Southern Tier is a not-for-profit volunteer program which
advocates for abused and neglected children in Chemung, Schuyler and
Steuben counties. CASA has served in the Southern Tier for over 20 years
to give children a voice where they would otherwise have none.
If you would like to become involved with CASA’s mission, please
contact CASA of the Southern Tier at (607) 936-2272.
CASA of the Southern Tier, Inc.
The Imprintable Images team. Right: The
Simply Your Best team.
Entertainment's team. Right:
The Schuyler Hospital team.
to sponsors, coaches, helpers
To the Editor on Feb. 25:
The Odessa-Montour youth basketball program completed
its 2013 season on Saturday, February 23. The program was held on Saturday
mornings for students in grades 3 and 4, and had a record number of
participants this year.
Special thanks to our team sponsors this year: Imprintable Images,
Mastermind Entertainment, Simply Your Best salon, and Schuyler Hospital.
Also thanks to our volunteer coaches: Addi Rhodes, Callie Stillman,
Brittany VanAmburg, Ashton Stadelmaier, Joey Collins and Tyler Clark
as well as volunteer helpers Gabby Fazzary and Bryce Elliot. Also special
thanks to Brad and Theresa Clark for their help in organizing the program.
We look forward to offering this program again next winter.
roundtable: teen dating violence
To the Editor on Feb. 23:
At the United States Attorney’s Office, prosecutors
regularly handle the most horrific cases of violence. One type of violence
which is often hidden and unreported is teen dating violence. Unfortunately,
the physical and emotional damage from such an event can be long standing.
In a nationwide survey, 9.4 percent of high school students report being
hit, slapped, or physically hurt on purpose by their boyfriend or girlfriend
in the 12 months prior to the survey (Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey).
About 1 in 5 women and nearly 1 in 7 men who ever experienced rape,
physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner, first experienced
some form of partner violence between 11 and 17 years of age (Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010 National Intimate Partner and
Sexual Violence Survey).
Reasons for such violence vary, but they include that fact that teens
may lack the experience to navigate romantic relationships, or are unable
to voice their feelings or communicate when emotional situations take
a turn for the worse. When adolescents find the courage to tell their
friends about being in an abusive relationship, statistics show that
more times than not, their friends won’t know what to do to get
To help address this situation, February has been designated as National
Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. To further add
to the resources parents and teens can utilize, I’m happy to report
that our Office will host a roundtable discussion of teen dating violence
on February 28, 2013.
This event will draw approximately one dozen young people from across
the region to discuss real-life situations of teen dating violence.
The roundtable panel will include a member of a Buffalo-area assistance
organization, as well as a young person who herself was victimized.
Canisius College has graciously agreed to serve as the host location
for this event.
My hope is that the participants will be able to shine the light of
day on this troubling phenomenon. Because the entire event will be available
via webcast to schools, the roundtable discussion can be more broadly
used as an educational tool, as well as a starting point for further
Let me also recommend that parents continue to stay involved in the
lives of their children, and work to keep the lines of communication
with them open. If you are a parent of a teenager, do you know the names
and faces of three of their friends? Chances are, one of them—maybe
your own son or daughter—will be in an abusive relationship.
Model healthy, non-violent relationships in your own homes. Learn how
to identify the signs of abuse. Educate yourself, and assist young people
in locating services if they or someone they know is experiencing a
physically or emotionally abusive relationship.
Working to end violence in the community remains one of the highest
priorities of the United States Attorney’s Office. By addressing
the issue of teen dating violence with your children, and by encouraging
your local school to view next week’s free web event, you too
will not only help address this serious issue, you will join me in protecting
all of our area’s children at the same time.
Public Affairs Officer
United States Attorney's Office
Western District of New York
support resolution opposing
the NY SAFE Act for several reasons
To the Editor on Feb. 20:
It is apparent from recent communications to the legislature
that there is concern that the Schuyler County Legislature take a position
in opposition to the NY SAFE Act; that being the legislation passed
by the NYS legislature implementing certain forms of gun control in
New York State.
The Public Safety Committee which meets February 25th at 9:15 a.m.
will discuss a proposed resolution in opposition to this legislation.
The entire legislature will review the resolution at their Legislative
Resolution Review Committee meeting March 6th at 9:15 a.m. and the resolution
will be voted on at the regular Legislature meeting March 11th at 6:30
p.m. All of those meetings are held in the legislative chambers at the
County Courthouse Complex. Please feel free to attend any or all of
I personally will support the resolution opposing the NY SAFE Act for
a number of reasons:
--The Constitution is explicit in guaranteeing my right to keep and
--The NY Safe Act was rammed through without the usual time for public
--The law will have no effect on criminal behavior but will only restrict
Seniors set anniversary lunch
To the Editor on Feb. 14:
The Seasoned Seniors of Schuyler County, a group of active
and involved seniors, will be meeting for a Dish-to-Pass Luncheon this
Friday, February 15th, in the Fellowship Hall of Odessa Baptist Church.
In actuality, the group of individuals, ages 50 and older, will be celebrating
the 17-year anniversary of these gatherings.
From its inception, the very closely-knit group has been a rather motley
crew of unique personalities. Known originally as the “Odessa
Luncheon/Discussion/Fine Arts Round Table Society” (Check out
that acronym!), they met for the first time in February of 1996, with
entertainment provided by some very talented High School Chorus students
The formation of the Seasoned Seniors was the brainchild of the Pastor
of the Odessa Baptist Church at that time, Randy Stone, and Bonnie Seeley,
a member of his congregation. In 1996, the Sydney Place Apartments,
situated behind the Odessa Fire Department/Municipal Building, was a
newly-opened Senior Citizens complex, and Stone & Seeley hoped to
“pull” the residents into this group to make them feel a
sense of belonging to the Odessa community.
The first gathering took place on the Friday closest to Valentine’s
Day, in what has been the group’s primary location -- the Odessa
Baptist Church Fellowship Hall. Since no residents of Sydney Place attended
that initial luncheon, permission was secured from the appropriate individuals,
and the second luncheon was held in the central community room at the
Over the years, there has been a wide variety of activities that the
Seasoned Seniors have participated in: Brown Bag or Dish-to-Pass luncheons
… community outreach to shut-ins … making small gifts for/visiting/singing
at Seneca View Skilled Nursing Facility and The Falls Home … informative
“lectures” on Identity Theft, Disaster Preparedness, and
self-defense … videos such as “Fly Away Home” and
“Pay It Forward” … entertainment by such folks as
Martha Kress, the “Dancing Grannies,” “The Elmirans”
and caricaturist Jon Haeffner.
In all the years that this beloved group has been meeting we have enjoyed
celebrating … laughing, living and loving together. We have sadly
seen quite a number of our original members pass on to their Heavenly
Rewards, while gladly welcoming dozens of new members over the years.
Our gatherings have been as small as just 2 or 3 in “lean’
times, to upwards of 45 attendees for some of our more memorable programs.
As in the very beginning, 17 years ago, the Seasoned Seniors has no
constitution, no “set-in-stone” rules, no membership dues
or requirements, but always lots of fellowship, food and fun. We really
don’t even hold fast to the “50 & over rule” and
have been known to welcome visiting children and grandchildren on occasion.
(Rumor has it that neither of the founders of the group was anywhere
near the age of 50 seventeen years ago!)
If you are in the vicinity of Odessa Baptist Church at lunchtime this
Friday, February 15 , we’d love to have you join us. Remember:
12 Noon, Dish-to-Pass luncheon … Beverage, dessert, and table
service provided. Come alone or bring a friend. If you’d like
to come, but have no transportation, call Bonnie Seeley (594-2588 or
426-6025) and she will arrange a ride for you. It is rumored that the
surprise entertainment is going to be fantastic!
to all who helped Seneca Santa
To the Editor on Feb. 11:
Thanks to the support and efforts of many volunteers,
Seneca Santa 2012 helped provide a Christmas for 417 children from 200
Schuyler County families.
Recognition needs to go to the Watkins Glen Presbyterian
Church for the use of their facilities, to the staff and employees of
Hazlitt winery for their fund-raising efforts, to Frank Dudgeon for
cleanup, to the Hi-Lites and Schuyler County Sheriff's Department for
allowing gifts to be dropped off at their offices, to Drs. Schultz and
Fitzgerald for donating the oral hygiene supplies, to Marty Roberts,
Dr. Bob Berry and Parmenter Motors and their coworkers/patients for
the toys and games that they collected, to Karey Solomon for coordinating
hundreds of handmade hats and mittens, to the local Girl Scouts for
their wrapping skills, to the JV and varsity basketball teams and those
high school students who helped unload the truck, bag the toothbrushes
and toothpaste, and man the "assembly line" at the church,
and to Bill Kennedy and Jennifer Geck and the firemen and firewomen
who made sure the gift sacks were delivered on time.
It is so difficult to thank by name all those who donate
their time and monies. There are several people who order the necessary
supplies and set up their stations, and those who show up to bag the
gifts and have been doing it for years. None of them want or expect
thanks, but the program would not run as smoothly without them. Each
person, no matter how small they consider their donation, contributes
greatly to the overall success of the program. The longevity of Seneca
Santa's existence is due solely to the support of this very generous
community. Many thousands of children have wonderful memories of Christmas
because of their giving spirit.
May God bless you all.
I'm running for Legislature
To the Editor and the residents of Montour Falls,
the Town of Montour and Southwest Burdett on Feb. 8:
am very excited about running for the newly formed seat created by the
redistricting plan approved by the Schuyler County Legislature in 2012.
I will need your support to gain a seat on the Schuyler County Legislature
during this difficult period of revenue reductions coupled with unfunded
mandates requiring tough decisions to be made leading to possible program
and employee reductions.
As most of you know I have been a “fixture”
in Schuyler County for nearly 40 years, working in the County Watershed
Protection Agency. With my inside track knowledge of Schuyler County
projects (having served on many boards and committees), I feel highly
qualified to be an exceptional representative for you, my neighbors
As an attentive listener, I will take your concerns very
seriously and present them to the Legislature on your behalf. I can’t
promise the outcome you desire, but I assure you I will do my best to
present your thoughts and ideas in a wise and timely manner and fight
for what is the best outcome for your district.
My accessibility to you will be one of my utmost concerns.
I will be available to you by phone, text, email, snail mail, or face
As resident of a newly formed district, you now have
the opportunity to have one (1) new representative to be your spokesperson
to the full legislative body. Together we now have the opportunity to
make our voices heard and make a difference in our communities.
I will be personally paying a visit to you within the
next few months to obtain your signature of support on my petition to
put my name on the ballot. This letter serves notice to you that I am
running for this position. Others may seek this post, but I assure you
no one has my level of energy to reach out to you “one on one”
to represent you.
For more information on the redistricting, visit www.schuylercounty.us;
click on legislature and then district map.
Please support me in being “your” voice on
the Schuyler County Legislature. Thank you in advance for your support.
James D. Howell
provide Sharing Sharee's Smile foundation with its 1st donation
To the Editor on Jan. 29:
wanted to share a story with you in hopes to have recognition given
to the Watkins Glen High School students who donated stuffed animals.
This donation was the very first donation collected for a newly developed
foundation, "Sharing Sharee's Smile." This foundation has
been developed in memory of Sharee Saltzer-Auger.
Sharee, at the age of 35, was diagnosed with appendiceal cancer in June
2011. She underwent four surgeries and numerous chemotherapy treatments
over the course of the next seven months. Throughout these hospitalizations,
Sharee never gave up her fight for her cure. Her level of faith, hope,
love and courage was immeasurable. Sharee insisted on sharing her blessings
Numerous flowers were delivered to Sharee's hospital room from her many
loved ones. Sharee took these flowers and delivered them to other cancer
patients throughout the hospital, because she felt the need to spread
love and hope to others. Even in her darkest moments, she was compelled
to give away her blessings to others who may not have as many.
this seven months of tribulation, one thing remained, Sharee's smile.
Sharee's courageous battle with cancer ended on January 19, 2012, but
her love remains.
Sharing Sharee's Smile has been developed by family to spread Sharee's
blessings of love, faith, courage and hope by giving a gift to others
who are facing the battle of cancer.
The Watkins Glen High School students collected and -- on December 26
-- donated 43 stuffed animals to the Sharing Sharee's Smile Foundaton.
They were distributed to Golisano Children's Hospital/Strong Memorial
for children battling cancer. Golisano Children's Hospital/Strong Memorial
was the birthplace of Sharee's two children, and December 26, being
Sharee's birthday, was a very special day -- the day on which "Sharing
Sharee's Smile" began.
Carin Kennard (Sharee's sister),
parent of WGHS students Chelsea and Taylor Kennard
Photos in text:
A picture of Sharee, and another of family members making the donation
at Golisano Children's Hospital.
It was a productive meeting
To the Editor on Jan. 25:
Odessa-Montour School District Superindentent Jim Frame
and I met with Watkins Glen School District Superintendent Tom Phillips
and Board President Brian O’Donnell on January 16.
-- We had a positive and productive meeting. Spoke about
the need to look to the future and gather as much information as possible
as we plan for education in Schuyler County. We did not talk about merger
or consolidation, but rather about the future of education in the County.
-- We spoke of a process to meet informally in a public setting (a
neutral setting like the Human Services Complex building in Montour
Falls) with a trained facilitator (also neutral) to gather community
input, concerns, suggestions and ideas. We need to find out what our
residents, students, staff and/or stakeholders want as we plan to face
our challenges and make data-driven decisions that impact education.
-- We spoke about having a public meeting that would permit us to present
factual information in relation to topics the public really needs to
be educated about (contract issues, legal issues, mandated programs,
etc.). Residents and community members who cannot make the meeting will
have the opportunity to submit their questions/concerns/comments to
each school's website in advance to be considered as part of the process.
-- Our public relations personnel from GST BOCES will put together
and distribute official press releases following the first and any other
meetings so that the entire public will be informed of the information
as it happens. This will dispel any misinformation or rumors that may
occur. All media sources will be treated equally.
-- It will be important for all Board Members and both Superintendents
to make a commitment to attend the meeting(s). Both parties will be
actively listening and seeking suggestions from all stakeholders. Are
there concerns or comments from the community?
-- After hearing from the entire community and looking at data, what
is the next step? Do we develop a plan of action? Where do we go from
-- In closing, I will agree with Brian O’Donnell that we are
in no way seeking to limit space nor attendance as some people might
believe. In addition, there is absolutely no attempt to be vague about
anything. Both boards and Superintendents will be setting all parameters.
OMCS Board President
St. Mary's parishioners
To the Editor on Jan. 18:
As we wind down from the holiday season, the staff of Seneca View Skilled
Nursing Facility would like to send our most sincere thanks out to the
parishioners of St. Mary’s of the Lake Church. Each year, St.
Mary’s donates, wraps and delivers gifts for each of our 120 residents
– who couldn’t be more touched and pleased!
We cannot thank you enough, St. Mary’s!
The Staff of Seneca View Skilled Nursing Facility
I'm seeking another term
To the Editor on Jan. 14:
Many thanks to all of you who emailed, wrote, called and
stopped me on the street to offer your support for my positions during
the last three years which included no increase in real property taxes
and smaller government. I sincerely appreciate your support!
I believe there continues to be a need for a voice that supports positions
in opposition to the majority of the county legislature and therefore
I have decided to run for a second 4-year term.
I will be running for a seat representing the new Legislative District
I, Towns of Catharine, Cayuta and the Village of Odessa in the Town
of Catharine. I encourage all voters in District I to monitor my legislative
performance this year as well as the last 3 years. I welcome comments
and questions from all Schuyler residents and can be reached at 594-3683
or by email at email@example.com.
I hope, by running again, I can encourage like-minded folks from Legislative
Districts II, III, and IV to run this year as well. If you are considering
a run, please let me know if there is anything I can do to help. If
you are interested in the configuration of the new legislative districts,
go to www.schuylercounty.us; click on legislature and then
Happy New Year!
Schuyler County Legislator
provide the utmost service
To the Editor on Jan. 6:
Schuyler County’s ninth annual Holiday Fire Prevention
Program “Keep the Wreath Blue” has concluded for 2012.
From Nov. 23 to Dec. 31 the firefighters of Schuyler County
reminded county citizens to be safe by replacing a blue bulb on emergency
service wreaths with a red bulb for each structure fire that occurred
within the county during the holiday season. This year we replaced five
(5) blue bulbs. During the same period in 2011 we only posted two (2)
red bulbs. Our goal is to keep the wreath blue for the entire season
and promote fire prevention awareness. We want to thank the schools
of Schuyler County for participating and promoting Fire Prevention.
This season there were five structure fire incidents that destroyed
two small barns and a small cabin and caused slight damage to one apartment
building and one house. Through the quick, efficient, and dedicated
efforts of the county's volunteer fire departments, all of the incidents
were quickly contained. Estimates of the losses due to damage are $39,000
total. However, the value of the properties was $184,300, which means
Schuyler County firefighters saved $145,300 in property! The most important
result for this year’s program was no injuries to citizens or
This outstanding result is a direct reflection of the commitment volunteer
firefighters have to provide the utmost service to their communities.
Emergency responders throughout the county were very busy this holiday
season. Between November 23 and December 31 they responded to 495 incidents.
This is an increase of 85 incidents over 2011.
With the end of this year’s program, we want to remind everyone
that “Fire Prevention Starts at Home” and is a year-round
For more information on fire prevention, please contact your local
fire department or the Schuyler County Emergency Management Office at
607-535-8200 or find us on the web at www.schuylercounty.us
Schuyler County Emergency Management Office
a community Open House
To the Schuyler County Community on Jan. 4:
It is a privilege to introduce myself as the new Director
of Catholic Charities in Schuyler County. I began this new role on October
23, 2012. I have 26 years of experience working in various human service
organizations in Chemung and Schuyler Counties. For the past six years,
I have served as the Executive Director of the Schuyler County Child
Care Coordinating Council.
I earned an associate degree from Corning Community College
in 1986. After raising my children, I returned to college and earned
a bachelor’s degree in Human Services Management from Empire State
College in 2010.
I wholeheartedly believe in the mission of Catholic Charities:
to help build communities that care for all people by reducing poverty,
promoting healthy individual and family life, collaborating with faith
communities and advocating for justice and peace. Every person has the
potential to succeed when given the right tools. Catholic Charities
assists individuals with meeting some of their most basic needs such
as shelter, food, and emergency financial assistance and provides ongoing
support through case management.
While I am a resident of Chemung County, I believe it
is imperative to be a part of the Schuyler County community. It is my
goal to know not only what people need, but where to find the resources
to meet those needs.
I anticipate working with the Schuyler County Community
through Catholic Charities for many years.
I am holding an Open House to meet and connect with community
members. Please join me at Schuyler Outreach located at 112 Tenth Street
(St. Mary’s of the Lake Center) in Watkins Glen on January 15
from 2:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. I look forward to meeting you there.
Catholic Charities of Schuyler County
to save the CASA program
To the Editor on Dec. 30:
The NYS Office of Court Administration, which provides
funding for the Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA),
recently announced that it is eliminating its $800,000 funding for CASA
in 2013 because of budget constraints.
This program provides one-to-one advocacy to help children
in foster care grow up in safe, permanent and loving homes. CASA programs
utilize professionally trained staff and volunteers to monitor the mental
health, physical health, education and permanency plans for children
placed in foster care. Their advocacy is life-changing for thousands
of children across the state. It is a program that pays for itself many
times over at an average cost of $1,000 per child served.
CASA volunteers are currently supporting 79 at-risk children
in the Southern Tier -- and this only represents about 8% of current
open cases. While local Family Court Judges are urgently requesting
increased advocacy, the cuts to the 2013 program puts the representation
of even the current 79 children in jeopardy.
After what we recently witnessed in Newtown, Connecticut, we need even
more services to preserve children’s mental health -- not the
elimination of vital programs.
Please call the Office of Court of Appeals, Chief Judge Lippman, at
(212) 661-6787 and urge him not to allow the elimination of CASA funding
statewide. The message is, “We urge you to stop the elimination
of funding statewide to the CASA Program. It has been incredibly successful
in helping children who have been abused and neglected to navigate the
system of foster care, and grow up in safe, permanent and loving homes.”
Donations can also be made to CASA of the Southern Tier at www.casasoutherntier.org.
Thank you so much for your support of children in need in your local
Board Member, CASA of the Southern Tier
to the parishioners at St. Mary's
To the Editor on Dec. 30:
On behalf of the board of directors of The Arc of Schuyler,
I wish to sincerely thank the parishioners of Saint Mary’s of
the Lake Church in Watkins Glen for their continued generosity to people
with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Schuyler County.
For many years, St. Mary’s congregation has ensured
through its annual holiday gift drive that more than 60 people receiving
residential supports through The Arc have a gift to open on Christmas
morning. People are delighted with the gifts they received this year,
and I would like to extend their joyful appreciation as well.
I would also like to acknowledge Terri Orbin for heading
this charitable effort. My heartfelt appreciation goes to everyone at
Saint Mary’s of the Lake for demonstrating true Christmas spirit
and compassion in our community.
Arc Board Member and Program Services Committee Chair
a success; thanks to all
To the Editor on Dec. 21:
CASA of the Southern Tier’s annual “Light
of Hope” Brunch at Castel Grisch Winery and Restaurant in Watkins
Glen was held December 9, 2012 . This year’s event was well attended
and CASA raised $3,000 in much-needed funding toward recruiting and
training volunteers to advocate for abused and neglected children in
Chemung, Schuyler and Steuben Counties.
CASA wishes to thank everyone who supported our program by attending,
and also Castel Grisch for its dedication in helping make this year’s
CASA brunch such a success. The wonderful staff at Castel Grisch donated
their time to cook, prepare and serve at the brunch. The food was delicious
and the staff, as always, did an outstanding job!
With our deepest thanks,
CASA Board and Staff
safety is our Number 1 priority
The following letter is being sent home to parents
and guardians of school children in the Watkins Glen School District
and posted on the district website.
Dear Parents and Guardians:
It is with a very heavy heart I write to you. With the recent tragedy
in Newtown, Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary, we all have taken
a collective breath and hugged our children a little tighter, loved
them more deeply and reflected on the meaning of family. As school Superintendent,
I continue to reflect on my role as educational leader and the responsibility
I have in ensuring a balance between the safety of our children and
the establishment of a comfortable educational environment free of fear.
As a district, our number one priority is ensuring all children have
a safe, supportive quality learning environment. Should you or your
children have the need for support, please do not hesitate to call the
school to arrange for an appointment.
You may notice some changes in access to our schools. I apologize for
any inconvenience; however, limiting access, increasing the adherence
to a consistent protocol for entry and increased monitoring of those
wishing to gain access to the schools are some of the steps I am putting
in place as we move forward.
We are fortunate at Watkins Glen to have a School Resource Officer.
In spite of the fact that the New York State Legislature in 2009 decided
to eliminate State funding to schools for this program, the District
and Village of Watkins Glen were able to collaboratively identify a
solution that resulted in the full-time assignment of a Village Police
Officer at the School. Thank you to Chief Struble for his commitment
to problem solving and his willingness to work with the District.
In closing, please know I will do everything possible to ensure the
safety of our children. Thank you to the teachers, administrators and
all school support staff for your commitment to our children and providing
them with a supportive, caring learning environment.
Thomas J. Phillips
to those who've helped festival succeed; planning has started for 2013
To the Editor on Dec. 15:
The 33rd annual Schuyler County Italian American Festival, celebrated
in August, appears to have been a great success. Many thousands of guests
attended and enjoyed our event, and those who traveled here from far
away supported our community by staying in the area. We believe that
the Italian American Festival is an important and valuable asset to
the Schuyler County community.
Planning has begun for the 2013 festival to be held at Clute Park in
Watkins Glen Aug. 2-4. All of the usual events and attractions will
be offered, and some new entertainment will be added.
Recently elected officers are Charlie Scaptura, President/Chairman;
Kristina Olevnik, Vice-President; Rocco Scaptura, Secretary; and Shirley
and Len Salvatore, Co-Treasurers. All committee chairpersons have remained
faithful to the organization, and new members have joined the staff,
which has been meeting monthly since October preparing for 2013.
The entire not-for-profit organization is made up of volunteers. We
could not present the event without the financial support of our sponsors
and the hours and hours of time given by the 100 or more volunteers
who work the festival. Our sponsors and our volunteers are essential
to the organization.
The parade participants, the crafts and food vendors, the bocce tournament
players, the entertainers, Main Event Amusements, American Fireworks
Company and all others that participate in the festival are its foundation.
We thank them all.
Cooperation and support from Mayor Mark Swinnerton and the village
trustees, Superintendent Mark Specchio, Streets Supervisor Donny Perry,
all of the village department heads, Parks Manager Michelle Hyde and
her staff, Code Enforcement Officer Gordon Wright, and Clerk Donna Beardsley
and the office staff are critical to the continuation of the festival.
We thank everyone.
We salute Chief Tom Struble and his Watkins Glen Police Department
officers for their cooperation. The assistance they give to our committee
and our security staff ensures that visitors to the festival have a
safe and enjoyable experience. Thanks also to the Schuyler County Sheriff's
Department for providing their mobile command station.
Members of the Watkins Glen Fire Department and their rescue squad
spend their weekend with us. We, and they, hope their services are not
needed, but should a visitor suffer an injury or illness the rescue
squad is always there on site and ready for action.
We thank those who help with our events each year including Jim Howell,
our talented parade announcer; Mike Stamp at E.C. Cooper Insurance;
the Rev. Paul Bonacci of St. Mary's of the Lake Catholic Church for
presenting the Mass; Stillman's Greenhouse for providing flowers for
the Mass, and the Southern Finger Lakes Women for organizing our pasta-eating
Many thanks to Rick Evans and the Boy Scouts of Troop 2674 who worked
tirelessly to keep the park clean of litter.
Some area businesses support the festival through annual contributions,
and we give thanks to Wood-Tex for delivering and donating the building
used as our headquarters, Jeff's On-site Services and The Glen Theatre
for helping with our advertising, and Seneca Harbor Station for the
donation of spaghetti and lots of sauce for the pasta-eating contest.
Hazlitt's Winery lends a golf cart for our parking personnel, and Lakewood
Vineyards, one of our sponsors, also lends golf carts for use by festival
officers and security personnel.
We extend special thank-yous to Seneca Beverage Corporation for sponsoring
the festival's entertainment for the third consecutive year and Watkins
Self Storage for donating a storage unit for our materials and supplies.
We would not be able to hold the festival without the contributions
from our major sponsors. Their generous donations are essential for
our startup services and we thank: Visions Federal Credit Union, Cargill
Salt Inc., H&R Block (Clay Bullers), Chemung Canal Trust Co., Lakewood
Vineyards, Hunt Engineers, Architects, Land Surveyors, Community Bank,
Lanes Yamaha, Haughey-Wood Funeral Home, Seneca Lodge, HSBC Bank, and
the James Anagnost Family for donating the proceeds from their golf
tournament. Thanks also to the following 2012 patrons for their donations:
Savard's Family Restaurant, Central Asphalt, Schultz & Fitzgerald
Dental Associates, Learn Motor Co., Royce-Chedzoy Funeral Home, Stewart
P. Wilson Inc./Lakes Gas, and Bower Catering. We hope you will show
your appreciation by using the products and services of these great
"Awesome" is the word we hear most following the ground-shaking
Saturday night fireworks show. Once again, the American Fireworks Company
of Utica presented a display over Seneca Lake that we think is the best
And finally, we thank you, the residents of Schuyler County and the
visitors to our area, who attended the festival over its three days.
We sincerely hope you had a great time, and we hope you come back to
the 2013 Italian American Festival.
We look forward to seeing your smiles on the amusement rides and your
joy from a great meal and hearing your applause at the parade and your
cheers at the fireworks. This is our reward, and this is what reminds
us that it's all worth it and that we've done a right and good thing.
Schuyler County Italian American Festival Committee
seeks award nominations
To the Editor on Nov. 30:
The Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce is seeking nominations
members to recognize during our Winter Gala/Annual Celebration on January
18, 2013. This year, we would like the public (as well as our members)
to submit their suggestions for nominees in the categories below.
Community Spirit Award –
Must be awarded to a business and/or individual that has demonstrated
leadership and excellence in philanthropy; must have encouraged civic
initiatives, and/or facilitated humanitarianism; made a significant
contribution within the last five years; and positively impacted the
community in which the business operates.
Lifetime Achievement Award –
May include a successful partnership of one or more persons;
must own or manage a local business and have taken business risks to
create jobs or trade over a period of time; must have demonstrated staying
power as an established business; must be actively involved in community
and civic organizations in Schuyler County over the last 15 years; must
be of the stature as to keep the award prestigious and compliment past/future
winners; must be respected and recognized throughout the community;
and must be a resident or own/manage a business in Schuyler County.
Leader in Business –
Must have made a dynamic contribution to the Schuyler County business
community within the last decade; must have expanded the business mix
in Schuyler County; continues to foster economic opportunity such as
creating new job opportunities; must have assumed considerable risk;
and be considered a highly respected entrepreneur.
If you know of any great candidates, please complete the nomination
forms and return to the Chamber by Tuesday, December 11. The forms are
available on the Membership Page of our website here.
Forms may be submitted via email to Rebekah@watkinsglenchamber.com or
faxed to 607-535-6243 or mailed to 214 N. Franklin Street, Watkins Glen,
Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce
is not the answer
To the Editor on Nov. 17:
I would like to weigh in on the school consolidation debate
going on. I decided, after reading about what is going on, to do some
good old-fashioned research on consolidation and school size. I read
around 30 articles and reports about these two subjects. I ended up
writing an article that is about 10 pages, obviously too long to submit
here in its entirety, so I will provide a summary. Everything included
in this summary is based on real published research and I am more than
willing to provide resources to those who would like them.
For the full
text of this letter, click here.
aren't doing their job
To the Editor on Nov. 15:
Tuesday night, in an astounding display of sheer ineptitude,
the Schuyler County Legislature failed to make the tough choices and
instead decided to pass the buck. Rather than seeking a solution to
the unchecked, rampant spending that has been occurring in most halls
of government across our country, our elected leaders opted to not only
approve a Local Law permitting it to exceed its state tax cap of 3.38%,
but it also voted to shift $400,000 in community college chargeback
costs to the towns. Perhaps even more astonishing is that the decision
to pass the buck was made with a vote of 6 to 2.
Fundamentally, we’ve seen an increased local tax burden driven
by the continuous expansion of local government spending. Ask yourself:
After this year, what about the next? Better yet, what about the past
10 or 20? I’m not a soothsayer, but I can tell you with a great
deal of surety that your taxes will go up again and the County will
continue to kick more expense down to the other communities which ultimately
go to you and me. Your local government is essentially taking the easy
path and forcing others to deal with something that they are unwilling
to do. To make matters worse, they address the rest of the budget gap
(and doesn’t it seem like there’s always a budget gap?)
by continuing to feed the monster and raising taxes. This will undoubtedly
be coupled with a respective increase that you’ll likely receive
from the other governments too who are now directly affected by the
chargeback when they have new budget problems of their own.
We talk of terms like "sustainable" in energy, finances and
government. If the region as a whole doesn’t look at how to curb
excessive spending, learn how to do more with less, and yes, even reduce
"pet" services, then, my friends, there is no way for us to
get back on track.
Case in point. The main problem with property tax is that it is very
rigid. It is completely unrelated to the taxpayer’s income, and
can in fact go up when personal earnings fall. Even if property assessment
values do not change, taxpayers are hit hard by property taxes in a
recession, when many have to accept a decline in income. Endless tax
hikes do nothing to help our community, and I am positive that many
of our leaders don’t even consider this when they argue dollars
Solving the problem is where the real breakdown lies because it seems
like no one either knows how or is willing to tackle it. Are we even
considering the larger picture? What happens every time a new source
of revenue (i.e. Walmart, the Harbor Hotel) comes on the horizon? Monies
from those new sources seem to be spent rather than thinking ahead and
putting them as a future down payment towards reducing the tax burden
on the residents.
I suppose the blame can’t be put solely on our leaders when
we talk about things like unfunded mandates. We’re taught to dodge
from a long line of professional wizards in the trade. It starts with
our biggest brother, Uncle Sam, who in turn pushes burden down to our
middle brother, the State of New York. The process continues by kicking
the financial burden down to the smallest of the family, the community
governments. Each of them deals with the problem as they see fit, and
we rely on our elected officials to look out for us.
To me, it appears Barbara Halpin and Doris Karius (the 2 legislators
in the 6-2 vote) are the only two who actually “get it”
and understand what needs to be done. It is time our Schuyler County
legislators wake up and start making the tough decisions that they were
voted into office for. In areas where I see many of our local governments
trying to do the right thing by holding tax burdens below the cap, the
County (and you can throw the school in there too!) appears to be doing
the complete opposite and should be ashamed for turning its back on
us as a community.
Start making the right and assuredly tough decisions or the citizens
of this County will start looking for your replacements. Let this be
a message to the other municipalities that the buck needs to stop somewhere,
and that is with their respective Boards. I’ve had enough, haven’t
welcome to join Cantata
To the Editor on Nov. 13:
Any and all singers are invited to sing in this year's
Community Christmas Cantata called "A Festival of Carols"
to be performed Sunday, December 16 at 7 p.m. at the Montour Falls United
Methodist Church in Montour Falls, NY.
First rehearsal will be this Sunday, Nov. 18 at the Montour
Falls UM church from 4-6 p.m. There will be scores to purchase at that
time. Thank you very much!
Director Kim Laursen
to merge sports programs
To the Editor on Nov. 11:
I want to add my opinion to the discussion of merging
school districts. I know that merging school districts is a drastic
move that needs to be studied carefully, but I can't believe that we
need to have O-M, Watkins Glen, and even Bradford school districts for
that matter, within the close proximity that they are. It may indeed
mean having to transport students for longer distances, but how far/long
is too much?
With declining enrollments, increased pressure to provide
a quality education for fewer and fewer students creates increasing
costs for taxpayers who are already taxed to the max. The same could
be said for post offices. Do we actually need them in Watkins Glen,
Odessa, Montour Falls, Alpine, Cayuta, Millport, etc.? Just because
we have been used to having them doesn't mean that we NEED them now.
Each of the sports teams have been in decline, for the
most part, for the past decade. If Corning and Elmira can merge schools/teams,
so can we. And it is long past time that we do it, too. Just my opinion.
was a success
To the Editor on Nov. 8:
The Schuyler Nursery School would like to thank the entire
community for supporting our first annual summer chicken BBQ fundraiser.
Our sincerest thank you to the Moose Club for their hard work making
sure this fundraiser was successful.
The kids are really enjoying the new playground equipment;
including a new caterpillar and new picnic tables. We had planned to
purchase two new spring rider horses for the playground, but unfortunately
they are on back order until next spring. Instead we were able to use
the funds to purchase two new computers for the kids to use; this was
a much-needed upgrade for the school.
We look forward to another chicken BBQ next summer. Thank
Schuyler Nursery School
The Pulse of the Neighbors
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