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4 Novels by the editor

Island Nights

Excerpt here.

The Islander

The entire novel:

Prelude-Chapter 4

Chapters 5-13

Chapters 14-21

Chapters 22-29

Chapters 30-36

Chapters 37-44.

Cabins in the Mist

Excerpt here

The Maiden of Mackinac

Excerpts Maiden

and here and here. 







Recent Headline Stories


Rotary honors Murphy as Student of Month

Watkins Glen High School senior Jason Murphy (right) was honored April 20th by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its WGHS Student of the Month for April. The honoree, who was introduced by teacher Sam Brubaker, is the No. 1 Singles player on the school tennis team, and was also a member of the basketball squad. He said he plans to "enter the trades, most likely the building trades," after graduation. Currently participating in regional and state competitions for SkillsUSA -- an organization that partners with students, teachers and industry leaders to ensure America has a skilled workforce -- he holds supervisory roles in the Construction Program at BOCES, and is helping to build a home as part of his coursework. He is also active in the Glen Baptist Church.

L to R: Liam Smith, Ryan Dean, Maddie Tuttle, Vinnie Ocasio.


Section IV individual champs honored by BOE

Athletes who won individual Section IV titles this past winter were honored Wednesday evening by the Watkins Glen Board of Education. Receiving Outstanding Athletic Achievement Awards were Madison Tuttle, who took first place in the 1500 Meter Race Walk at the Section IV Division 2 track championships; and swimmers Liam Smith, Ryan Dean, Vinnie Ocasio and Jon Spencer, Section IV champions in the 200 Medley Relay. Smith also won the 200 Free and 500 Free, while Dean won the 200 Individual Medley. All were present except for Spencer at Wednesday's awards presentation.


Montour Falls wins Dept. of Energy award

The Village of Montour Falls has been presented a 2023 Better Project Award from by the U.S. Department of Energy for outstanding accomplishments in implementing energy and waste reduction projects that support the municipality’s sustainability and decarbonization goals. Government.

Photo: Montour Falls Mayor Jim Ryan with the Department of Energy award.

Jake Sullivan, formerly of Beaver Dams and now of Syracuse, was on hand at the IMRRC with a display of his model cars.


Racing Research Center hosts model car show

The 8th annual Model Car Show -- featuring various model and diecast cars from collectors around the region -- was held Saturday at the International Motor Racing Research Center in Watkins Glen. Members of the Rochester LEGO User Group were also on hand, with parts bins for visitors to make and race LEGO cars down a scale race track.

Photo: Some of the many model cars on display at the Racing Research Center.

This photo of the early Easter morning fire in Montour Falls was provided by Schuyler EMS, which snapped it while enroute to the scene down Odessa Hill.

  Fire destroys unoccupied home in Montour

The Montour Falls Fire Department was dispatched at about 2:55 a.m. on Easter morning after a Schuyler County Sheriff's Deputy discovered a fully involved structure fire at 307 S. Genesee Street in the village. A second alarm was requested, which brought in the Watkins Glen, Odessa, Burdett and Beaver Dams fire departments, along with Schuyler County EMS. The home, which was unoccupied, was a t
otal loss.  

From left: Burdett Trustee Judy Mangus, Trustee Linda Arcangeli, Attorney Connie Fern Miller with her tribute resolution, Trustee Marty Evans, Village Clerk Charlotte Jaynes, Mayor Dale Walter, and Trustee Larry Jaynes. (Provided)


Burdett Village Board honors attorney Miller

After several decades as Burdett Village Attorney, Connie Fern Miller has decided to step down from the position. Mayor Dale Walter says that through the years, Miller has offered advice and opinions on issues ranging from code enforcement to the federal USDA application process. The Village Board of Trustees recently presented Miller with a tribute resolution and wished her well on her retirement.


Bids sought on Harbor Park bath facilities

The Schuyler County Legislature, at its monthly meeting on Monday, April 10, voted to seek bids for the reconstruction and refurbishing of the men's and women's bath facilites at Seneca Harbor Park. Chairman Carl Blowers said the move will give legislators "an idea of the cost." The move came at a meeting full of housekeeping resolutions, including one seeking bids for the replacement and upgrade of the standby generator at the County Office Building, and another setting a public hearing at the May 8 Legislature meeting on a proposal to transfer $837,448 from the Facilites and Grounds Reserve Fund for use in the repair of the Seneca Harbor Park seawall.

Photo: Legislators David Reed, left, and Michael Lausell at the April 10 meeting.

  Goal: to help restore underutilized properties

The Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development (SCOPED) reports how it, working with the Schuyler County Legislature and the Villages of Montour Falls and Watkins Glen, has facilitated three Restore NY applications in a recent round of funding. Business.


New Watkins Village Board members sworn in

Two recently elected trustees -- Peter Cherock and Margaret Schimizzi -- were sworn in April 4th at the first meeting of the Watkins Glen Village Board overseen by new Mayor Laurie DeNardo -- who in turn appointed a familiar face to fill out her unexpired trustee term. Government.

Photo: Mayor Laurie DeNardo


Watkins School Board reaching out to O-M about merger, pushes back on electric buses

The Watkins Glen School Board is reaching out to the Odessa-Montour district to discuss the possibility of merger. At the same time, it is showing resistance to the state's plans to put electric buses in every district -- its chief criticism aimed at the safety of such vehicles. Schools.

Photo: Watkins Glen School Superintendent Kai D'Alleva.

Left: O-M senior Jon Spencer. Right: O-M senior Katie Adams. (Photos provided)


Rotary honors O-M's Adams and Spencer

Odessa-Montour High School seniors Katie Adams and Jon Spencer were honored recently by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its O-M Students of the Month. Adams, a member of the school's soccer, basketball and track teams and a High Honor student, is planning to attend RIT or Clemson, focusing on Packaging Science. Spencer, who tackled the role of "Lurch" in the recent school play "The Addams Family," is also a High Honor student and plans to attend Roberts Wesleyan College in Engineering. An outstanding varsity swimmer, he recently committed to the Roberts Wesleyan swim program.

Watkins Glen Village Clerk Fred Warrick congratulates Laurie DeNardo after swearing her in as mayor.


DeNardo sworn in as Watkins Glen's mayor

Laurie DeNardo, who defeated Lou Perazzini in the recent village election for mayor, was sworn in to that post Tuesday afternoon, March 28, in a brief ceremony at Village Hall. The swearing-in had been scheduled for the next Village Board meeting on April 4th, but -- as DeNardo explained -- "the village clerk and attorney realized that because the mayor position was vacant, due to New York State law I should be immediately sworn in. This protects the Village since we have not had a mayor in eight months and there is work to be done." The other victors in the election -- Trustees-elect Peter Cherock and Margaret Schimizzi -- will be sworn in on April 4th.


Heather O'Grady-Evans is next SCHS Director

Heather O’Grady-Evans of Burdett has been appointed by the Schuyler County Historical Society (SCHS) Board of Trustees as the incoming executive director of museums.

She succeeds Glenda Gephart, who is retiring effective March 31. People.

Photo: Heather O'Grady-Evans (Provided)

The Tin Man, the Lion, Dorothy, and the Scarecrow in a scene from The Wizard of Oz.


WGHS's Wizard of Oz ends its 3-day run

“The Wizard of Oz” -- a musical presented by the Watkins Glen High School Class of 2023 -- was performed for the third and final time Sunday afternoon in the WGHS Auditorium. The show, a brisk, efficient production full of soaring voices and entertaining dance routines, opened Friday night and was presented Saturday night, as well. Features.

Photo: Sarah Schaffner, as Dorothy, singing "Over the Rainbow."


DeNardo tops Perazzini in Glen mayoral race

Democrat Laurie DeNardo (pictured at right) defeated Republican Lou Perazzini 289-198 Tuesday in the election for mayor of Watkins Glen, while her running mates for two trustee seats, Peter Cherock and Margaret Schimizzi, defeated Republican Jerri-Lynn Chronis. Cherock received 338 votes, Schimizzi 311, and Chronis 150. Steven Decker polled 317 votes in running unopposed for re-election as Village Justice. Perazzini, who congratulated DeNardo after the vote count was announced at the Watkins Glen Community Center -- where each mayoral candidate gathered with supporters -- will leave the board at the end of the month since his trustee term ends then. DeNardo's four-year term, and those of Cherock and Schimizzi, begin on April 1.

Elsewhere: In Burdett, where 17 votes were cast in uncontested elections, Mayor Dale Walter was returned to office with 13 votes, while incumbent trustees Linda Arcangeli (14 votes) and Judith Mangus (12) were re-elected.

In Odessa, 24 votes were cast in uncontested races. Mayor Gerry Messmer was re-elected with 21 votes, while Trustee Tom Letteer was returned to office with 20. Incumbent Trustee Kristine Gardner, who wasn't on the ballot, won her seat back with 12 write-in votes.


Spud Run draws 140 runners; VanScoyk 1st

More than 140 runners -- from the very young to a few members of the Watkins Glen High School faculty -- competed March 17 in the annual Spud Run on the Watkins Glen school grounds. The racers started and finished on the Alumni Field track, with a circuit around the school in-between. Sports.

Photo: WGHS junior Johnny VanScoyk nears the finish line -- the first runner to complete the 1.7-mile Spud Run.


Michael J. Maloney, former Schuyler Sheriff, dies at 82

Michael J. Maloney, 82, of Waneta Lake, NY, the longtime Sheriff of Schuyler County and a leader in law enforcement throughout the Southern Tier, died on Wednesday, March 15, 2023 after a long illness. Obituaries.


Artists-in-Residence concert spotlights talent

The annual Artists-in-Residence concert at Watkins Glen High School Wednesday night, March 15 showcased the musical talents of three-dozen Watkins students before a large and appreciative audience. The Artists program features professional musicians who mentor students leading up to the concert, and accompany them during it. Schools.

Photo: Student Topher Herforth on the alto sax.


Students weigh in on Schuyler's future

Seven students -- four from Watkins Glen High School and three from Odessa-Montour -- were guests March 15 at the annual meeting of the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development (SCOPED) at the Seneca Lake Event Center. Their role: to interact with community leaders at their tables in a discussion of the future of the area. People.

Photo: Watkins Glen High School student Sarah Jones


"Senecas" name fails to gain state approval; district to seek public input for a new name

The New York State Education Department's recently formed Indigenous Mascot Advisory Group has told the Watkins Glen School District it does not approve of the name "Senecas" -- the identifying nickname for generations of Watkins Glen sports teams. And under a State Ed decree adopted in December, that means the name must be retired by June. The district said it plans to seek input from students and the community on a new name. Schools.


Voters approve school parcel purchase, 88-77

Voters in the Watkins Glen Central School District Tuesday approved, 88-77, the purchase by the district of a quarter acre of land it sold several years ago to the International Motor Racing Research Center for $50,000. The district will buy back the parcel for $62,500. The parcel, once a school playground at the corner of Decatur and 15th Streets in Watkins Glen, was purchased by the Research Center with the intent to utilize it for expansion of its facilities. That expansion never happened, and the IMRRC recently offered to sell the land back to the school district. School Superintendent Kai D'Alleva said the district would now "start brainstorming for the best use of the property for the children of the community" and consult with engineers regarding site work. "It will probably be part of our next capital improvement project," he said.

Photo: School Superintendent Kai D'Alleva.


The Addams Family ends its run at Odessa

A large and appreciative audience was on hand Sunday afternoon, March 12, for the third and final performance of the Odessa-Montour Junior/Senior High School musical The Addams Family: School Edition in O-M's Fetter Brown Auditorium. The play, full of wry and funny lines and appealing musical numbers, opened with two shows Saturday after inclement weather forced postponement of a scheduled Friday night opener. Features.

Photo at right: Ben Campbell as Gomez Addams performs a dance number.

From left: O-M's Daniel Lewis, Hannah Nolan, Tori Brewster and Jon Spencer at the signing ceremony.


4 O-M athletes sign celebratory college forms

Four Odessa-Montour High School seniors participated March 9th in a celebratory signing in anticipation of college careers in sports in which they each excelled over the past few years. Daniel Lewis (who will play baseball at Alfred State College), Hannah Nolan (soccer at SUNY Cortland), Tori Brewster (track & field at Houghton University) and Jon Spencer (swimming at Roberts Wesleyan College) signed celebratory forms from their chosen colleges in a gathering at O-M in front of family, friends, coaches, school officials and the media. Such ceremonies have become traditional as each school year nears its end, but as many as four athletes participating at once was unusual for this area.

Photo: Tori Brewster inks her Celebratory Signing Form while observed by her father (and track coach), Burton Brewster.

Assemblyman Phil Palmesano speaks at a news conference calling for increased road, bridge and culvert funding. (Provided)


Coalition calls for more road, bridge funds

State Senator Tom O'Mara, Assemblyman Phil Palmesano and more than 70 state Senators and Assembly members joined March 8th in Albany with county and town highway superintendents and other local leaders from throughout the state calling for increased state support for local roads, bridges and culverts. The group held a news conference at the Capitol. Hundreds of local transportation advocates are in Albany this week for their annual "Local Roads Are Esssential" advocacy campaign -- once again fighting for greater state investment in New York's transportation infrastructure. Since 2013, O'Mara and Palmesano have organized legislative colleagues to get behind the effort and raise awareness of the need.


The Odessa File All-Stars, MVPs unveiled

The Odessa File's Schuyler County All-Sports 1st, 2nd and 3rd Team Winter All-Stars -- along with the Schuyler Winter MVPs -- are announced in a story on Sports.


Rotary honors Barber as Student of the Month

Watkins Glen High School senior Ava Barber was honored March 2nd by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its WGHS Student of the Month. Barber, introduced by high school secretary Alexis Bellavigna, is secretary of the school's chapter of National Honor Society and thus heavily involved in the soon-to-be-established Food Pantry at the school, which will add nutrition options for students. She is also vice president of Student Council and a two-sport athlete, in volleyball and softball. She has yet to decide upon which college to attend, but is considering pursuing study in either audiology or elementary education.

Photo: Honoree Ava Barber, right, with Alexis Bellavigna.

One of the Gala highlights was a silent auction of various packages ranging in value from $800 to $1,700.


Chamber holds dinner Gala at Harbor Hotel

The Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce held "The Gala: An Elegant Affair" March 4th at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel -- a gathering, the Chamber said, that celebrated its vision "to advance the Watkins Glen Area as a premier destination that intertwines its unique scenic beauty with economic diversity and prosperity." The event, which was on hiatus the past two years, attracted more than 200 diners and offered silent and live auctions, dancing, networking, and a casino annex featuring craps and blackjack.

Photo: Among the many guests at the gala was Ken Wilson. A networking social hour preceded dinner, which was followed by dancing.

  Montour selected for $4.5M Forward Grant

Governor Kathy Hochul announces that the Village of Montour Falls has been chosen to receive a $4.5 million grant through the inaugural NY Forward Grant Program. Such grants are highly sought by municipalities for revitalization projects. Government.


A tribute to the late Dr. James J. Norton ...

With the passing of Dr. James J. Norton early last week, Schuyler County lost one of its great men -- a county Hall of Famer who provided a great deal of service in a lifetime that lasted 100 years. Editor Charlie Haeffner takes a look at the man and his legacy. People.

Photo: Dr. James Norton attending a 2009 Schuyler Hall of Fame induction, which added three new honorees. He was already a member.


Congressman Langworthy visits Chef's Diner

First-term Congressman Nick Langworthy attracted a gathering of two dozen area government, law enforcement and emergency service officials to Chef's Diner Feb. 17 for a last-minute lunch as part of a swing by the recently elected representative through the eastern portion of his sprawling 23rd district. Langworthy, a Republican, discussed a range of issues he faces in Congress, among them a need to "change the spending behavior" of government, and fielded questions on subjects ranging from Medicare to marijuana dispensaries. He was particularly critical of New York Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul, who he has known since she was County Clerk in his home county, Erie. Friday's gathering wasn't announced until Thursday, leaving little time for preparation. But Langworthy said he was pleased by the turnout.

Photo: Congressman Nick Langworthy during his visit.


O'Mara rips farm-worker overtime move by NY

State Senator Tom O'Mara has sharply crilticized the decision Feb. 22 by New York State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon to finalize controversial regulations lowering the overtime threshold for farm workers in the state from 60 to 40 hours. The new threshold, to be phased in beginning in 2024, was recommended 2-1 by a three-member Farm Wage Board last September. " Governor Hochul," said O'Mara, "and her Cuomo-appointed labor commissioner had the chance to choose the future of farming over the so-called ‘progressive’ ideology that is driving this state into the ground. They have rejected thousands of farmers, farm workers, farm advocates, agricultural representatives, community leaders, and legislators, including me, who have spoken in near-unanimous opposition to this move. They have rejected the industry’s top advocates. They have decided to undermine an industry and a way of life that has defined the regions we represent. It will change the face of New York State agriculture as we have known it for generations. It will spark the loss of more family farms and the livelihoods these farms support across the industry."

Photo: State Senator Tom O'Mara


Palmesano honored by American Red Cross

Assemblyman Phil Palmesano has been honored by the American Red Cross as a 2023 New York state "Legislator of the Year." People.


Photo: Phil Palmesano (Photo provided)


Rotary honors Lagramada as Student of Month

Watkins Glen High School senior Skylar Lagramada was honored Feb. 16 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its WGHS Student of the Month for February. Lagramada was introduced by teacher Kathleen Popovich, who described him as someone she can always depend upon -- a student whose duties include management of a school store called the Snack Shack. Lagramada, a member of the National Honor Society, competes in track -- where he recently advanced to the State Qualifying Tournament. He said he plans to attend RIT in the field of Engineering Technology, with an eye toward possibly achieving a Master's Degree.

Photo: Teacher Kathleen Popovich and Skylar Lagramada.

Dandy's Sue Laughlin and SOS's Tony Vickio with the check.


Dandy donates $733.50 to Spirit of Schuyler

Sue Laughlin, Assistant Manager of the Odessa Dandy Mini Mart, recently presented the Spirit of Schuyler (SOS) a check for $733.50 raised through a fundraiser. "It is greatly appreciated and we are thankful of what a great county we live in," said Tony Vickio, president of SOS, a volunteer organization which (its website notes) provides "financial assistance for Schuyler County residents in time of emergency."


Tuttle 1st, sets school record at Sectionals

Watkins Glen High School freshman Maddie Tuttle set a school record and placed first among Division 2 competitors Feb. 10 in the 1500 Meter Racewalk at the Section IV Championships. Her time of 8:24.46 surpassed the old school mark of 8:26.63. Her time also qualified her for the New Balance national meet in Boston in March. Sports.

Photo: Tuttle with her 1st- place medal. (Photo provided)


Jan. 15 Town of Orange fire victim identified

The Schuyler County Sheriff's Office has released the name of the victim of a January 15 fire in the Town of Orange. "Positive identification has been made," it said, "confirming the identity of Andy R. Mattison, 46, as the victim of the fatal structure fire in the early morning hours at 1811 Hornby Road, Beaver Dams. The New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control has determined the cause to be accidental involving a woodstove."


Personal touch added to tax collection effort

County Treasurer Holley Sokolowski and County Attorney Steven Getman (right) are sending personal letters to about 80 tax delinquent Schuyler residents urging payment of back property taxes before a deadline of Feb. 28. Government.

Dr. Martin Stallone, Chief Executive Officer of Cayuga Health and one of the Jan. 30th speakers, talks during the Open House to Kirk Estrada, one of the EMTs in the Schuyler Emergency Medical Service.


Open House celebrates ambulance service

The recent start of the Schuyler Emergency Medical Service was the subject of a celebratory cake-cutting and open house Jan. 30 at the Human Services Complex in Montour Falls. The gathering gave area residents a chance to meet the EMS staff, listen to speeches by Cayuga Health and Schuyler County officials, and get a close-up look at the service ambulances, parked outside. Schuyler EMS launched full operations on Jan. 2. It was made possible by a contract between Cayuga Health and Schuyler County, through which Cayuga Health Transport provides ambulance services in the name of Schuyler EMS.

The EMS ambulances are dispatched through the county 911 system from stations in Watkins Glen (at the Arc garage off 12th Street), Odessa (at the new village hall out Church Street), and Tyrone (at the fire hall).

Top photo: Emergency Medical Technician Jason Overhiser displays a Proclamation presented to him and fellow EMT Thomas Benedict (rear right) Monday by a representative from the office of State Senator Tom O'Mara for their recent service helping the residents of snow-inundated Buffalo. Overhiser and Benedict, utliizing a Schuyler EMS ambulance, transported nearly 50 sick and injured patients to Buffalo area medical facilities.

Bottom photo: Among the many people on hand at Monday's Open House were Schuyler County Legislator Phil Barnes and his granddaughter, Cate Caslin.

  Vietnam War focus of Museum exhibit

A special exhibit honoring county residents' involvement in the Vietnam War opened Friday, Jan. 27 at the Schuyler County Historical Society's Brick Tavern Museum in Montour Falls. People.

Photo: A Vietnam Era U.S. Army uniform is among the exhibit items.


Wood hired as Bradford's interim principal

Chris Wood, who resigned as superintendent of the Odessa-Montour School District on Dec. 2, has been hired by the Bradford Central School District to serve as its interim principal through the current school year. Wood was hired to succeed Patrick Dunham, who resigned. Bradford Superintendent John Marshall, in announcing the hiring on the district website, cited Wood's "extensive and varied background in public education" -- seven years as O-M superintendent, and before that time as a high school principal, Dean of Students and Social Studies teacher. That experience, Marshall said, "will enable him to be a significant asset to our students, staff and district as a whole. Mr. Wood is excited to get back to serving as a principal, as he spoke extensively about wanting to work closer with children and to be able to help them succeed at Bradford Central and beyond."

Photo: Chris Wood (File photo)


O-M board puts superintendent search on hold

The Odessa-Montour School Board has decided to put the search for a permanent superintendent on hold until 2024. Board President Rob Halpin, in a letter to the "OM Team," said that interim superintendent Tracy Marchionda has been asked to continue in her role until significant "operational matters" such as capital improvements, budget development and "the challenges presented by the phase-out of federal grant revenue" can be addressed. "These matters," he said, "will require a lot of Board time and attention, and leadership and guidance from an experienced administrator. In consideration of these demands, and in order to give the appropriate time and attention to the superintendent search, the Board ... has decided to put the active search process on hold." The Board, he added, "is fortunate to have someone with (Marchionda's) expertise, knowledge and skill set, and she looks forward to continuing to work alongside all of you and the Board." Marchionda, a long-time administrator in the Bath and Geneva school districts, was named O-M interim on Dec. 8, following the resignation of Superintendent Chris Wood.

Photo: Tracy Marchionda

Drink service bars sculpted from blocks of ice occupied spaces in the patio behind the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel.


'Fire & Ice' ends 3-night run at Harbor Hotel

The annual "Fire & Ice" celebration at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel -- an event generically known as the Ice Bar -- ended Saturday evening. The event featured local wines, beers, and food samples from local establishments available in the ballroom. On the patio behind the hotel, warming fires helped ward off the winter's chill, and were interspersed with drink bars sculpted from blocks of ice, an ice throne, and plenty of camaraderie. The event raises awareness of, and funds for, the Schuyler Health Foundation.

Photo: Tables in the hotel ballroom were laden with food for the large turnout of attendees.


Storm gridders honored at board meeting

Members of the 2022 Schuyler Storm football team -- a combined squad of Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour High School athletes -- each received an Outstanding Athletic Achievement Award certificate Monday night at a meeting of the Watkins Glen School Board. The team was being honored for winning the Section IV Class C Independent Football championship this past fall. Athletic Director Rod Weeden praised the team for its success, and then the certificates were distributed by Coach Trevor Holland. A photo of the recipients is on Schools.

Photo: One of the Achievement Award certificates.

  Rotary honors 6 as Students of the Month

Having fallen behind in its monthly Student of the Month award program, the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club honored six students Thursday -- three each from the Odessa-Montour and Watkins Glen High Schools. And the club welcomed a new member. Schools.

Photo: Each honoree received a plaque.


Crackdown urged on 'sticker stores' in state

State Senator Tom O'Mara and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (pictured at left) joined other area legislators and law enforcement officials Thursday at a press conference urging state passage of a law that would lead to a crackdown on "sticker stores" that have proliferated since passage of legislation permitting recreational marijuana use. Government.


Fatal fire in Town of Orange is being probed

The Schuyler County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a fatal structure fire that occurred in the early morning hours of January 15. The Beaver Dams Volunteer Fire Department responded to 1811 Hornby Road in the Town of Orange for a garage fire. Firefighters discovered a body during fire suppression efforts. The identity of the victim is not being released at this time, pending positive identification. The Schuyler County Fire Investigation team and New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control are assisting in the investigation.


Houck to become superintendent at Bath

GST BOCES Superintendent Kelly Houck has agreed to become Superintendent of the Bath school district, effective July 1st. Houck, who secured a five-year contract, said she was "humbled and gratified" that Bath "reached out to me." She said she "thrives" in a job where she works closer with kids than the travel-heavy BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services) job offered. The BOCES Board will meet soon to discuss finding her successor. She has been at BOCES for two years after serving as Superintendent in the Dundee school district, and before that as Superintendent in the Canaseraga district.

Photo: BOCES Superintendent Kelly Houck. (File photo)


Board honors WGHS girls soccer champions

The Watkins Glen High School girls varsity soccer team -- which won the Section IV, Class C title this past fall -- was honored by the district School Board on Jan. 9. Each member of the team received a certificate of Outstanding Athletic Achievement from Athletic Director Rod Weeden before Superintendent Kai D'Alleva praised the squad for the hard work it embraced in pursuing its goal of a sectional title. For a team photo and a look at one of the certificates, see Schools.

Photo: Michaela Wheaton, flanked by teammates Maddie Tuttle, left, and Natalee Oliver, holds the team's Section IV championship plaque.

The ribbon is cut in front of the Pangea Global Teahouse.


Ribbon cutting marks opening of Teahouse

The Pangea Global Teahouse celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon-cutting celebration Thursday morning in front of the business, located in the former Watkins State Bank building at 221 N. Franklin St. in Watkins Glen. Various dignitaries welcomed the business owners, Suzanne Mathews and Keith Hill, in brief remarks preceding the ribbon cutting. The Teahouse prepares teas and treats from all over the world. Business.

Photo: Teahouse owners Suzanne Mathews and Keith Hill.

County Judge Matt Hayden swears in Legislators Phil Barnes, foreground, and Carl Blowers, both re-elected in November.


Legislators re-elect Blowers as chairman; appoint Chronis to 4-year administrator term

Carl Blowers was unanimously re-elected by his fellow legislators to a fourth one-year term Wednesday morning as chairman of the Schuyler County Legislature. The governing body, meeting for a brief organizational session in its County Office Building chambers, also appointed Fonda Chronis, who has served as County Administrator for the past year, to his first four-year term in that post. Sworn in to four-year terms as legislators were incumbents Blowers and Phil Barnes, each re-elected by voters in November.

Photo: County Administrator Fonda Chronis at Wednesday's organizational meeting.


Schuyler EMS helps Buffalo after storm

Medical Technicians with the new Schuyler Emergency Medical Services are home after helping Buffalo first responders following the storm there. People.

  Keeping watch

New Year's Day 2023: Two mature bald eagles, George and Martha, keep watch for fish at the confluence of Catharine Creek and the Barge Canal. They are overwintering in the Queen Catharine Marsh. (Photo and description by Mark Taylor)


WGHS 2017 state title hoops team inducted into the Senecas' Weightlifting Hall of Fame

The 2017 Watkins Glen High School girls basketball state championship team has been inducted into the Senecas’ Weightlifting Hall of Fame, hall originator Ralph Diliberto -- who helped that team weight-train -- announced on Dec. 28. "All of the puzzle pieces fell into place that year under the guidance and direction of Coach Alicia Learn, assisted by Coach Harold Chaffee and Coach Scott Morse," said Diliberto. "Every member of the team took ownership of their strength and conditioning with great determination."

Photo: From left, WGHS Athletic Director Rod Weeden, Coach Alicia Learn with induction plaque, and Ralph Diliberto.


Schuyler Legislature holds year-end meeting

The Schuyler County Legislature on Wednesday morning held its annual year-end meeting, wrapping up resolutions that needed approval before the new year along with other measures. Among resolutions passed: approval of the appointment of Chad Hendrickson and Margaret Lawrence to SCIDA (the Schuyler County Industrial Development Agency) for the term of Jan. 1, 2023 through Dec. 31, 2025.

Photo: Legislators Mark Rondinero (foreground) and Phil Barnes at the year-end session.

From left: Christine Stierly, Carrie Youmans and Emily Miller of Schuyler Hospital Rehab Services pose at the lunch. (Provided)


Schuyler Hospital, Seneca View employees recognized; leadership serves them lunch

Schuyler Hospital and Seneca View Skilled Nursing Facility senior leadership hosted their annual employee recognition lunch and celebrated "Ugly Holiday Sweater" day at both facilities on Wednesday, Dec. 14th.

This annual tradition, where senior leadership serves the employees as a thank-you for their hard work throughout the year, was put on hiatus during the Covid pandemic.

The senior leadership served roast prime rib, pork tenderloin, mushroom ravioli, steamed vegetables, mashed potatoes and cake in celebration of the holidays and in recognition of their employees’ dedication and hard work throughout the year.

Photo in text: Schuyler Hospital President and Cayuga Health Assistant CFO Rebecca Gould serves food to the hospital's Chris Brink during the lunch. (Photo provided)

Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, right, presents a Resolution from the state to retired Schuyler County Sheriff Bill Yessman.


State resolution, proclamation honor Yessman

Retired Schuyler County Sheriff Bill Yessman was honored at the Dec. 12 Schuyler County Legislature meeting with the presentation of a pair of certificates from New York State legislators, presented by Assemblyman Phil Palmesano on behalf of himself and State Senator Tom O'Mara. An Assembly Legislative Resolution said it was honoring Yessman "upon the occasion of his retirement after 36 years of distinguished service to Schuyler County Law Enforcement." A framed Proclamation "commemorating his retirement" extolled his "outstanding career achievements."

Santa Claus waves to the spectators lining Franklin Street during the Village Christmas parade.


Village Christmas draws crowd to Watkins

A heavy turnout of festival spectators wandered Franklin Street in Watkins Glen Friday night, Dec. 9 during the 29th annual Village Christmas. With temperatures in the mid 30s, outerwear ranged from winter coats to short-sleeve shirts as visitors bought crafts and food along the sidewalks, and voted in a Chili Cookoff outside the Cabins to Castles real estate office. A parade with fire trucks, horses, a hot-air balloon flame-shooter and creative floats entertained for a half hour, while a petting zoo was a popular stop throughout the three-hour festival. Also popular: a Pop-Up Shops array of businesses inside the Chamber of Commerce building, complete with music by the trio of Charles, Ed & Isabella. Features.

Photo: One of Santa's elves in the parade.


O-M Board appoints interim superintendent

The Odessa-Montour School Board on Dec. 8 named longtime educator Tracy Marchionda as the district's interim superintendent in the wake of last week's resignation by Superintendent Chris Wood. Marchionda, most recently Interim Director of Curriculum and Special Education in the Hammondsport School District, was to start her new duties Friday morning. Marchionda taught the 2nd and 5th grades in the Dundee School District starting in 1989. From 2000-2011 she served as a principal and then as Director of Curriculum and Instruction in the Bath School District, and from 2011-2022 was employed by the Geneva City School District, gaining the post of Assistant Superintendent in 2020. She retired from Geneva in August before taking the interim Hammondsport job. She will serve as Interim Superintendent for O-M until a permanent superintendent is found.

Photo: Interim O-M Superintendent Tracy Marchionda


Odessa Board OKs ambulance service pact

The Odessa Village Board on Dec. 5 approved a proposed agreement with Cayuga Health Systems for the use of the new Village Office Building at 1928 County Road 15 by Cayuga for the housing of an ambulance and crew as part of Schuyler County's new emergency response system. Plans call for ambulance facilities in three locations in the county: in Watkins Glen, Odessa and Tyrone. The village board agreed to a five-year lease with the receipt of monthly rental and utility charges. The 24/7 Odessa ambulance crew will have a vehicle bay in the primary building's garage, sleeping quarters in the building (a former home), and use of the structure's kitchen and restroom facilities, but will provide its own internet service. The agreement goes back to Cayuga Health for final approval.

Photo: Odessa Mayor Gerry Messmer at Monday's meeting.


Chris Wood resigns as O-M Superintendent

Chris Wood, who was in his 8th year as Superintendent of the Odessa-Montour School District, resigned Friday, Dec. 2, the departure to take effect immediately. Wood, saying that "physically, mentally and emotionally, I can no longer" do the job, announced his decision in a memo to staff members. In a phone conversation Friday night, he added this: "I love Odessa-Montour. It's been good to me and my family for many years. It has a great School Board, a great Administration team, a great staff and students who are second to none. I will miss all of those people." The text of his message to staff can be found on the Schools Page.

Photo: Chris Wood (File photo)

Dozens of packages were delivered by Hesselson's to the Seneca Santa storage room in Watkins Glen's First Presbyterian Church.


Seneca Santa truckload delivered in Watkins

More than 30 Watkins Glen High School student-athletes helped offload a truck from Hessleson's store in Elmira Heights Thursday that delivered scores of cases of Christmas gifts for the Seneca Santa program. The Hesselson delivery -- sold to the Seneca Santa program wholesale, an annual event -- included games, toys, sporting equipment and other items destined for delivery Christmas Eve morning to kids 2-12 in more than 100 Schuyler County families in need. Seneca Santa, which has operated since the early 1940s, is overseen by Peggy Scott. She has two dozen volunteer helpers, whose efforts lead to distribution of the gifts by the county's fire departments.

Photo: Ball that arrived in one of the cases.


The stark autumn beauty on Seneca Lake's shoreline

This photo was sent to us by Liz Fraboni, snapped along the shore of Seneca Lake, near Hector on Nov. 24th. The fading sun reminds us of the warm season past, and the nearly leafless branch foretells the winter season to come.






Photo by Liz Fraboni


The Odessa File All-Sports Autumn All-Stars

The First, Second and Third teams are unveiled, along with The Odessa File's Schuyler Fall MVP. Sports.

Storm football team wins postseason playoff. Sports.

Odessa-Montour Junior High School students participating in the food drive included Haley Young, Sidney Pike, Lauren Signor, Ella Kramer, Rianne Drake, Peter Dechow, Philip Coleman, Hannah Albertsman, Thomas Mace, and David Heichel. (Photo by Holly Faulk)


O-M Junior High students collect, donate food

The Odessa-Montour Junior High School Student Council on Friday delivered 500 cans and food items to the Food Pantry after a two-week 7th and 8th grade food drive. Students are shown at right loading a bus with the food outside the school.

The information and photos were provided by Junior High Student Council Advisor Holly Faulk.


Rotary honors Sarah Barr as Student of Month

Odessa-Montour High School senior Sarah Barr was honored Thursday by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its O-M Student of the Month. Barr was introduced by Physics and Chemistry teacher Doug Chapman, who said the honoree has done "a tremendous job in both" demanding classes while remaining "super dedicated" to other pursuits such as athletics and Student Council. She is, he added, a caring person who is "highly regarded" by her classmates and teachers. Barr, who plans to enter a nursing program at a college yet to be determined, said she's "always been involved in everything," and thanked Rotary, noting: "It's nice to have this validation."

Photo: Teacher Doug Chapman and Sarah Barr.


Schuyler Legislature approves 2023 budget

The Schuyler County Legislature on Nov. 14 unanimously approved a $59,124,384 budget for 2023. The approval followed a public hearing at which the spending plan was outlined by County Administrator Fonda Chronis (pictured at right). The tax rate will be $6.26 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The tax levy will be $11,180,310, up 1.26% from the current year.


Montour Falls names new clerk, new treasurer

Montour Falls Mayor James Ryan has announced the appointment of a new Village Clerk and a new Village Treasurer. Government.

Photo: From left, Village Clerk Emily Byers; Mayor James Ryan; and Village Treasurer Laurie Thompson.


Legislature approves new ambulance service

The Schuyler County Legislature, meeting in special session Nov. 9th, approved a contract with Cayuga Health System for a new ambulance service in the county. The Legislature passed two resolutions -- one that authorizes a contract with Cayuga Health Transport, LLC, "a New York Not-for-Profit Corporation whose sole member is Cayuga Health System, Inc." The other approves a schedule of fees to be charged to those people utilizing the new ambulance service. The contract is scheduled to take effect on Dec. 1 and go for two years, with a longer-term agreement expected by officials after that.

Photo: Legislature Chair Carl Blowers.


Odessa-Montour voters OK pool funding plan

Voters in the Odessa-Montour School District on Nov. 7 approved -- by a 190-17 margin -- a proposal to transfer $950,000 from a capital reserve fund to add to the $16.9 million capital project the district has been undertaking for many months. The money will be used to top off available funds for a new pool and related pump room, bleachers, records board and score board. Superintendent Chris Wood has said the bids for the capital project came in lower than expected, leaving money for the pool project. The shift of funds were needed to complete it. Wood, who has pointed to the educational value of the pool -- where kids in many grades learn to swim -- thanked the community for its continued support of "opportunities for our students," and said he was "excited for our kids," calling swimming "a great life skill to have."


Hochul wins; Langworthy going to Congress

Incumbent Kathy Hochul (pictured at right) was declared the winner on Nov. 8th in her campaign for election to her first full term as New York governor. Hochul, a Democrat who became the state's first female governor when she succeeded Andrew Cuomo upon his resignation, defeated Republican challenger Lee Zeldin. Republican Nick Langworthy defeated Democrat Max Della Pia for a seat from the 23rd District in Congress, while State Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, defeated Republican challenger Michael Henry. Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer won another term in Washington, while incumbent State Senator Tom O'Mara and incumbent Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, both Republicans, ran unopposed.

Judy and Phil Cherry were among the 170 people on hand for November Splendor at the Harbor Hotel.


November Splendor fund-raiser returns

November Splendor -- the biggest fundraising event of the year for Schuyler Hospital and Seneca View Skilled Nursing Facility -- returned Nov. 5th to the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel after a two-year COVID-19 hiatus. The cocktail-attire event, presented by the Schuyler Health Foundation and the Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary, featured dinner, live music by Letizia and the Z Band, raffles and auctions. There were about 170 diners. Health Foundation Chairperson Erin Thaete thanked the community for "its continued support of the hospital and Seneca View." The Foundation's avowed goal is to create and maintain a steady, dependable stream of funds to accomplish the hospital's mission of delivering high quality health care in partnership with the community.

Photo: Schuyler Health Foundation Chairperson Erin Thaete at November Splendor.

A silent auction was among the evening's fund-raising events.


Autumn yields colorful photography

Autumn in the Finger Lakes region can yield some stunning photography, as exemplified by photos recorded in recent days by Watkins Glen's Liz Fraboni, a frequent contributor to The Odessa File. For a gathering of Fraboni photos, see People.

Rachel Heselton as Maria sings among the hills
in "The Sound of Music."


LCP's 'Sound of Music" ends its 3-day run

The Lake Country Players' production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "The Sound of Music"was presented for a third and final day Nov. 6th, with a matinee performance in the Watkins Glen High School auditorium. Casey Manzer-Smith of Corning was the director of the musical, set in pre-World War II Austria.


Watkins girls blank Tburg, win Section IV title

The Watkins Glen girls varsity soccer team -- led by two Skye Honrath goals and one by her sister Sasha -- defeated Trumansburg 3-0 on Oct. 28 on the Johnson City High School athletic field to win its first-ever Section IV, Class C championship. Next up: a regional contest Nov. 5th in Norwich. Sports.

Photo: Championship medallion

John Jelliff of Odessa lights a candle Oct. 31st in one of two-dozen pumpkins on display on shrubbery in front of his house on Church Street.


Parade, games mark Halloween in Odessa

Kids dressed in all sorts of Halloween costumes paraded Oct. 31st with their parents along the streets of Odessa -- led by local firefighters who organized the event. The children followed the firefighters to the side of the Wesleyan Church on Church Street for games before heading out to homes around the village to trick or treat.

Photo at right: The parade on Odessa's Maple Avenue on its way to the Wesleyan Church festivities.

The ribbon was cut by building owner Sally Scaptura-Clark, who grew up in the renovated building when it was her family's home and a service station run by her father, Joseph P. "Li'l Joe" Scaptura. He died in 1998, and his wife Ellen in 2006. Flanking Mrs. Scaptura-Clark were Watkins Glen Village Trustee Laurie DeNardo, left, County Administrator Fonda Chronis, and the day's emcee, Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development Executive Director Judy McKinney Cherry.


Ribbon-cutting marks Li'l Joe's renovation

A ribbon was cut Oct. 28th at the site of the former Li'l Joe's Service Station on Franklin Street in Watkins Glen to celebrate completion of a Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) project: renovation of the building into retail space and a three-bedroom apartment, and the complete overhaul of the Li'l Joe's garage into what will soon be an Upstate Brewing Company business leased from property owners Sally Scaptura-Clark, daughter of the late Joseph P. "Li'l Joe" Scaptura, and her daughter Margaret Clinch.

The apartment is rent-limited under DRI terms for a few years at $1,500/month. It was still available Friday, as was the ground-floor retail space, where the service station business operated until 1996. Friday's ceremony saw remarks by various dignitaries, including State Senator Tom O'Mara. The general contractor for the renovation project was John Franzese. The engineer was Howard Cabezas.

Photos: The former Li'l Joe's service station as it is today (top) and how it looked when a ceremonial ground-breaking was held on Aug. 20, 2021.

And back in 2009

Smoke pours out of the Village Variety Shop on North Franklin Street in Watkins Glen Oct. 18th. More photos at Fire.


Watkins Glen fire deemed accidental

The fire that struck two businesses on North Franklin Street in Watkins Glen Oct. 18th, 2009 was accidental -- caused, fire officials say, by "the thawing of a refrigerator" in the rear portion of the Village Variety Shop. For the update and the original story and photos, see Fire.

Left: Flames curl out of the rear of the Village Variety Shop shortly after the fire started. (Photo by Phil Barnes)


Some vocal magic on an Island hike ...

The editor encounters some strange conversationalists during a hike to a farflung lighthouse on his vacation. For those looking for some magic, herewith a tale that most will deem fiction. Hike.


Left: The Bois Blanc Lighthouse

Check out some WGHS videos

Maggie Edgley's Video Production Class at Watkins Glen High School boasts a creative group of artists. We've linked up with the class so that you can have access to their video accomplishments. To visit the class website, click here


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A list of our contributors can be found on the Sponsors Page.


Some old photos from the Kelly collection

We have some more photos from the collection amassed over the years by the late Bill Kelly. For a look, click here.


The What, When and Why of this website

Editor-publisher Charlie Haeffner updates readers on what makes this website tick. Site.

Left: Charlie Haeffner (Photo by Dave Haeffner)



We also have a Business Card Page. Click here. 


The Elizabeth Amisano Ovarian Cancer Education Fund
Live Like Liz, Inc.
P.O. Box 434
Watkins Glen NY 14891


An eternal message of lights, hope and faith

The week following Susan Haeffner's passing was fraught with signs -- most of them light-based, and one in the form of a vision. Here the editor relives those days in an effort to pass along a message of hope and faith. Message.

Above: The Aurora Borealis (From the Internet--as seen in Scandinavia)



The Sound and the Silence: A Memoir

Some things in life can mean a great deal -- can embody hope and dreams ... and memories. The sailboat is one such thing for the author. Silence.




© The Odessa File 2022
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869

(607) 594-3594

E-mail chaef@aol.com