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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

California Toe Jam, a Florida band that specializes in 1960s-'80s music, was in concert Tuesday night at WGHS.


California Toe Jam performs at Glen school

The four-man Central Florida band California Toe Jam presented a concert Oct. 16 in Watkins Glen for the second time in two years. The group, which plays popular songs from the 1960s, '70s and '80s, played in the Watkins Glen High School auditorium, a change from last year's Middle School venue. Proceeds were earmarked for the Watkins Glen Rotary Club, a community service organization.

Photo: Among the concert fans were Ken Wilson and Max Neal.


O-M teacher Kimmerly wins national honor

Marc Kimmerly, an Odessa-Montour junior high school history teacher, earns a national award presented monthly by Honored, a nonprofit organization that celebrates life-changing teachers across the U.S. A story about Kimmerly and his impact on students -- one of them, Gabriel Grover, nominated him -- was written for Honored by Shaun Waterman, a journalist from Politico and the BBC. For a look at the article, click here.

Photo: Marc Kimmerly (From the Honored website)

Homecoming Queen

Watkins Glen High School senior Claudia Parker was crowned Homecoming Queen on Saturday night, Oct. 13, during halftime of a game won by the homestanding Seneca Indians at WGHS, 51-6. Nate Wickham was named Homecoming King.

The BFC Family Band -- with Jim Guild on bongo -- performed Sunday evening at The Glen Theater.


Glen Theater rocks with gospel-music concert

An evening of gospel music by opening act Sara Heit -- Worship Leader for the host Fresh Start Church Watkins Glen Campus -- and the BFC Family Band from Sebring, Florida drew almost 100 people to the Glen Theater on Oct. 14. The music, billed as "gospel with a classic rock vibe," was free along with various foods -- cookies, crackers and cheese -- and beverages, with "love offerings" accepted to help finance Fresh Start's Mission Fund. Fresh Start, which holds Sunday services at the theater, is a ministry of the Pennsylvania Avenue United Methodist Church of Elmira.

Photo: Opening act Sara Heit performed several songs.

An attendee at Thursday's Hall of Fame induction ceremony checks out inductee Georgie Taylor's plaque, which contains a list of some of her accomplishments.


4 added to Schuyler County Hall of Fame

Four people were inducted Oct. 11 into the Schuyler County Hall of Fame during a ceremony at Seneca Lodge: Georgie Taylor, Judy Phillips, Brian O'Donnell and Kate LaMoreaux. For story, see People.

The hosts of The Gathering, Tony and Harriett Vickio, who spearhead The Spirit of Schuyler.


Gathering raises funds for Spirit of Schuyler

The Spirit of Schuyler held its annual fund-raising Gathering Oct. 13 at the Hidden Valley lodge, attracting a crowd for food, music and prizes -- the latter provided through raffles and silent auctions. The event usually raises between $5,000 and $7,000 to help finance the organization's mission to help Schuyler residents who have emergency funding needs. The Spirit of Schuyler started as an annual party in the Vickios' garage, but eventually outgrew that venue and was moved to Hidden Valley.

Photo in text: One of the raffle prizes offered a mix of items donated by The Arc of Schuyler.


Rotary honors Brewster as Student of Month

Odessa-Montour High School senior Noah Brewster (right) was honored Oct. 11 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its O-M Student of the Month for September. He was introduced by teacher Russ Gardner, who described the honoree as "well-rounded" -- No. 2 academically in his class; a member of National Honor Society, Student Council, Band and Chorus; a frequent performer in school plays; a distance runner in track, and active in his church youth group.

Left: Odessa-Montour Brazilian exchange student Manuela Buffo told Rotarians about her country's geography and culture, saying: "I'm proud of being Brazilian. I love my country." Right: Jackie Honsberger, at microphone, of The Great Escape Ice Cream Parlor, presented Rotary's Camp Star program with $250 from a recent fund-raiser at her business. Another $250 was raised for the Watkins Glen Summer Swim Program. Pictured far right: Rotary Club president Rebecca Carroll.


Cayuga Health System CEO plans to retire

John Rudd, president and chief executive officer of Cayuga Medical Center and the Cayuga Health System, announced Tuesday his plans to retire in the fall of 2019. Martin Stallone, MD, vice president of physician operations at Cayuga Medical Center and president of Cayuga Medical Associates, will succeed him on Jan. 1, 2019 as president and CEO of Cayuga Medical Center, and then in the fall of 2019 as president and CEO of Cayuga Health System -- which has two hospitals, Schuyler Hospital and Cayuga Medical Center, as well as a multi-specialty group, Cayuga Medical Associates.

Photo: John Rudd, left, and Dr. Martin Stallone (Provided)


Wine Trail names Gibson Executive Director

The Executive Committee of the Seneca Lake Wine Trail has announced that Brittany Gibson (pictured at right) has been selected to lead the organization as Executive Director. She has most recently been serving as Tourism and Marketing Manager at the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce. Business.

The Moose Lodge was filled with Spaghetti Dinner diners.


Annual United Way dinner fills Moose Lodge

The usual crowd of diners turned out Oct. 8 to the Montour Moose Lodge for the annual United Way of Schuyler County Spaghetti Dinner -- a key fund-raiser for an organization that serves 22 agencies. The campaign goal: $123,000. On hand were servers from the Odessa-Montour High School National Honor Society, as well as various other volunteers. About 400 dinners -- possibly more with an early order from the Lions Club for two-dozen take-outs -- were expected to be consumed.

Inset: National Honor Society members from O-M -- like (L to R) Olivia, McKennah and Maria -- were on hand to help.

Busy in the kitchen were Jessica Smith (left) and Taylor Kelly.

The United Way campaign chairs -- the Dominick and Stacy Smith family, here with daughter Kayla -- ran a 50-50 raffle.


Falls Harvest Festival draws crowd to Montour

Montour Falls' Main Street was busy with foot traffic Saturday, Oct. 6 as a crowd ventured there to the annual Falls Harvest Festival, a celebration of the season featuring food, crafts and entertainment. For a story, see Features.

Left: Balloons were a staple of the festival's entertainment.


Penn Yan chosen for $10 million DRI Award

Penn Yan will receive this year's New York State $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award in the Finger Lakes region -- a year after Watkins Glen won a similar funding influx. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul made the announcement Friday morning in Penn Yan. "This award will help the village and all of Yates County move forward," said State Senator Tom O'Mara and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano in a joint statement.


Planning Board gives go-ahead to Cheese Co.

The Watkins Glen Planning Board gave Final Site Plan approval on Oct. 3 to Robert MacBlane (right) and his wife Barbara for creation of the Seneca Cheese Company in the former Eyes on Seneca building at 29 N. Franklin St. -- a business that will sell local cheeses as well as local beers and wines. It will have an added second floor, part of which will be long-term apartments. Construction is expected later this month, with an opening in March. Also approved: demoliton of a house at South Glen and Second Streets belonging to Al McMichael, who plans to replace it. Preliminary Site Plan approval was given the Glen Racig Grill -- a racing-themed eatery -- at 107 Eleventh St. A public hearing on that project will be held on Oct. 17.


FEMA aid for flood recovery is announced

Schuyler is among the counties named Oct. 2 as major disaster areas impacted by significant flooding in mid-August. Congressman Tom Reed's office announced that President Trump had named Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Delaware, Schuyler, Seneca and Tioga counties and authorized Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance. The FEMA Public Assistance Program will provide grants to state and local governments, and certain non-profits, to assist with debris removal, emergency protective measures and permanent restoration of infrastructure. The federal government will cover 75 percent of the cost of approved recovery projects.


Woodworth appointed to Glen Village Board

The Watkins Glen Village Board on Oct. 1 welcomed a new member: Nan Woodworth, appointed to the vacancy created with the recent resignation of Kevin Thornton from the board. Woodworth, a retired educator, was sworn in for a period extending until the next election in March. If she wishes to continue on the board after that, she will need to seek election.

Meanwhile, the board canceled a public hearing on a proposed and controversial Business Improvement District. Village Clerk Lonnie Childs said it is "on hold until further notice. ... A lot of projects take precedence over that."

Photo in text: Nan Woodworth at Monday's meeting.


Glen wrestlers to compete under O-M banner

The Watkins Glen School Board on Oct. 1 approved a measure that permits WGHS varsity wrestlers to compete as part of the Odessa-Montour varsity wrestling team this season, with an eye toward reestablishing a team at WGHS in the future. The partial merger -- which involves four or five WGHS athletes -- is viewed as temporary, according to O-M Superintendent Chris Wood, and falls short of the mergers in football and baseball that have created Seneca Indian squads. This one will remain O-M in title.


Saunders to lead IMRRC Governing Council

John Saunders (left), president of the International Speedway Corporation, is the new chairman of the International Motor Racing Research Center. He was chosen by his fellow IMRRC governing council members at the Center's recent council meeting. He has served as vice-chair since 2002. He succeeds IMRRC governing council chair Bobby Rahal, elected to the position in 2014.

A musical puppet show was among the Fit Fest features.


Family Fit Fest draws a crowd to Montour

The turnout was steady, the weather cooperating, and the organizers pleased at the first Schuyler Family Fit Fest Sept. 29 at the Montour Falls Carnival Grounds along Route 224. The event, which included the Strong Kids, Safe Kids program that has been on-again and off-again in recent years (previously at Clute Park in Watkins Glen), featured dozens of tables under a large, long tent where various agencies and businesses offered information and games -- including one table where the Glen Gators were recruiting new swimmers, and another featuring massage therapy.

There was recorded music, and a puppet show, and free burgers and hotdogs provided by the Salvation Army, with accompanying healthy drinks. The inaugural event -- plans call for it to be held annually -- was presented by the Cayuga Health System (Schuyler Hospital and Cayuga Medical Center), Schuyler County Public Health, and Strong Kids, Safe Kids.

Photos: Cooperative Extension offered some fun through large soap bubbles; and a pumpkin advertised the Glen Gators table.

Odessa Mayor Gerry Messmer, left, makes a point in his meeting with State Senator Tom O'Mara.


Odessa mayor, O'Mara meet, discuss projects

Odessa Mayor Gerry Messmer met one-on-one with State Senator Tom O'Mara Sept. 28 in the Odessa Municipal Building to discuss a wide range of challenges facing the village, and how O'Mara might help. Infrastructure -- including the village water system and a proposed sewage treatment system -- was discussed, along with available grant funds for various other projects, such as development of a park. Additional subjects: procuring natural gas for the village; addressing speeding, especially on Main Street, Church Street and Speedway; and the possible development of a logging industry museum.


Rotary honors Sutterby as Student of Month

Watkins Glen High School senior Kai Sutterby was honored Sept. 27 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its WGHS Student of the Month for September. Sutterby, the school's Student Council president and a member of last year's Top Drawer 24 team of outstanding student-athlete-citizens -- was introduced by teacher Sam Brubaker, who decribed her as "the epitome of what a Student of the Month stands for." Sutterby, a State-level cross-country runner for several years, and founder of a multi-school clothing swap program that Brubaker said "gives students the chance to enhance their wardrobe without draining their wallets," plans to pursue a career in medicine. She said she loves small-town life, but wants to "do good on a larger scale," becoming a surgeon "to save lives."


Planning Board OKs Franklin St. project

The Watkins Glen Planning Board, after much debate, gives Final Site Plan approval to a mixed use (commmercial and apartment) complex on the site of the former Clifford Motors. Government.

Photo: Representatives from Lakewood Development listen as Village Trusee Laurie DeNardo addresses the Planning Board.


Ribbon cutting

The Grand Opening Sept. 20 of the new Warren Real Estate office at 210 N. Franklin St. in Watkins Glen featured a ribbon cutting and speeches. On hand along with Warren employees were Schuyler County Legislature Chair Dennis Fagan, left, Village Trustee Gary Schmidt (next to him) and Rebecca Carroll, president and CEO of the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce (right). (Photo provided)

Dominick and Stacy Smith -- with daughters Kayla, left, and Ashley, right --are the 2018 United Way of Schuyler County Campaign Chairs. (Photo provided)


United Way campaign sets goal of $123,000

The United Way of Schuyler County held its annual Agency Luncheon Sept. 19 at the Montour Moose Lodge, where 2017 Campaign Chairs Ron and Carmella Hoffman were honored for their service, and the new Campaign Chairs -- the Dominick and Stacy Smith family, long devoted to the Watkins Glen Fire Department -- were introduced. The campaign goal is $123,000 for 22 agencies that serve Schuyler County. The Marie Bailey Volunteer of the Year Award went to Glenda Gephart, a United Way past Secretary, of whom Executive Director Peggy Scott said: "Glenda was always there -- one step ahead of all of us to help meet our goals for many, many years." The annual United Way Spaghetti Dinner fundraiser will be held Oct. 8th at the Moose Lodge.

Photo in text: Marie Bailey Volunteer of the Year Award winner Glenda Gephart, right, with United Way Executive Director Peggy Scott. (Photo provided)


Glen Board tables action on short-term rentals

The Watkins Glen Village Board on Sept. 17 tabled action until its next meeting on a proposed Local Law designed to amend the Village Zoning Code in an attempt to deal with the rise of short-term rentals in the village. A standing-room-only crowd weighed in pro and con on the proposal, which the board decided needed "some tweaking" before any action is taken. Government.

Photo in text: Village trustee Tony Fraboni, seated, addresses one of the meeting speakers, Tony Compese.


Coffey helps U.S. win gold at World Rowing

Olivia Coffey, 29, a one-time Watkins Glen High School student-athlete who went on to prep school, All-America rowing status at Harvard and an alternate rowing spot at the Olympics, was on the winning U.S. women's eights team Sept. 16 at the World Rowing Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Her team finished 2.08 seconds ahead of runnerup Canada in the finals to win the event for the 12th time in the past 13 years. It was Coffey's fourth career gold at Worlds. "It was," said Coffey, "a great way to end an incredible year" -- which included a spot in The Boat Race as she helped Cambridge beat Oxford in England. She had attended Cambridge as part of a Master of Business Administration program.

Photo: Olivia Coffey (File photo)

Glass blowing demonstrations were the order of the day on the GlassBarge Friday. They continued through Sunday.


GlassBarge visit triggers Glen celebration

The touring Corning Museum of Glass GlassBarge -- marking the 150th anniversary of the relocation of the Brooklyn Flint Glass Company from Brooklyn to Corning -- opened to the public Friday, Sept. 14 for the first of three days as Seneca Harbor Park turned into festival grounds with vendors and live music --including Donna the Buffalo (inset). The 30-by-80-foot canal barge -- equipped with glassmaking equipment -- was berthed at the Seneca Harbor Pier. The three-day celebration (which ended Sunday, Sept. 16) included live hot-glass demos, fireworks, music, vendors and local artisans. Business.

Historian Gary Emerson talks about the Chemung Canal. Business.

Troop leader Rick Evans with Boy Scouts from Troop 2674.


Inquisitive Scouts visit Legislature session

Eleven Boy Scouts from Troop 2674 in Watkins Glen had some questions for the Schuyler County Legislature Sept. 10 in an exchange designed as a civics lesson for the boys. Government.

Swim podium drive reaches goal

Watkins Glen High School's girls varsity swim team is hosting a multi-school invitational, IACs, and Section IV Class A, B and C Championships this year. Accordingly, a new awards podium is needed. A goal of $3,500 was set for it by interested parents, and had reached $3,655 as of Sept. 9th. For details on the donation drive, see Forum.

Cars line up for one of the day's tours of the original Grand Prix circuit, a course running through the hills outside Watkins Glen and back to the village.


Watkins Glen Grand Prix Festival draws crowd

The annual Watkins Glen Grand Prix Festival Sept. 7 in downtown Watkins attracted a large and enthusiastic crowd. This year the festival honored the Jaguar, with an XK120 that won the Seneca Cup Race in 1952 on display. Activities began at 9:30 a.m., and Franklin Street was closed to traffic at noon. Original course laps, vintage-car displays, a Legends Speak gathering at Lafayette Park, wine tastings, and various vendors and foods were all part of the celebration. Features.

A few Schuyler County flood photos snapped from a drone camera by Tony Vickio can be seen here.


Museum exhibit focus: 70 years of local racing

Schuyler County’s 70-year history of car racing is spotlighted in the newest exhibit at the Schuyler County Historical Society’s Brick Tavern Museum. Sports.

Photo: At the start-finish line of the 1948 race, in front of the Schuyler County Court House. The 6.6-mile race course ran through the streets of Watkins and the rural roads of the Town of Dix.


Thornton resigns from Watkins Village Board

Kevin Thornton has resigned his seat on the Watkins Glen Village Board, citing several reasons -- including dissatisfaction with board communications, disagreement with some of the projects chosen in the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, and health. The vacancy might be filled by mayoral appointment that carries through to the end of Thornton's elected term, March 31. The next village election is in March; other terms expiring will be those of Trustee Gary Schmidt and Mayor Sam Schimizzi. Government.

Photo: Kevin Thornton (File photo)


Best Wine Region victor: the Finger Lakes

The results are in on a number of USA Today 10 Best Readers' Choice competitions, with the Finger Lakes finishing first in the America's Best Wine Region competition. In other contests, Veraisons Restaurant at Glenora was 8th in the Best Winery Restaurant competition; the Herman Wiemer Vineyard 7th among Best Winery Tours; and the Finger Lakes Wine Festival 5th among Best Wine Festivals. "It's a truly satisfying victory," State Senator Tom O'Mara and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano said of the Best Wine Region win, "that keeps the Finger Lakes region on the national map."

Tips to avoid scams in flood cleanup

Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman shares some suggestions for homeowners to protect themselves while seeking a contractor to repair damage inflicted by the recent storm and flooding. Tips.

A few Schuyler County flood photos snapped from a drone camera by Tony Vickio can be seen here.


Schuyler Hall of Famer William Elkins dies

William C. Elkins, a World War Two veteran, a lawyer, an active community member, law clerk to two County Court judges and a member of the Schuyler County Hall of Fame, died Aug. 19 at the age of 95. Mr. Elkins, of Burdett, had resided in his final months at the Seneca View Skilled Nursing Facility. Calling hours are Thursday, Aug. 23 at the Vedder and Scott Funeral Home in Montour Falls, with a service set for Friday at the Glen Baptist Church. Obituary.

Photo: Bill Elkins at his induction into the Schuyler County Hall of Fame in 2013.


Crowd turns out to raise funds in Tim's honor

Those who knew and loved Timateo Kamanga of Hector (right) turned out in force Aug. 21 at a gathering at Two Goats Brewing in Hector to raise funds to cover his funeral expenses. A celebration of his life was to be held Aug. 25 at Damiani Wine Cellars. Kate LaMoreaux of Hector, a teacher at Watkins Glen High School when Tim was there as an exchange student from Malawi years ago, described Tuesday's gathering in a posting on Facebook: "Hundreds of people...all ages...were there to remember how Tim touched their lives. His was a beautiful story with the wrong ending! He taught us to see the world with his eyes, appreciating the blessings of our lives as he learned to share them. He taught us to appreciate what is really important in this world...respect and human connection. Thank you Hector for loving Tim." Kamanga died Aug. 11 when he was struck by a vehicle while walking along Route 414 in Hector.


Bails posted in Phish concert drug arrests

The Schuyler County Sheriff's Office charged six people with various drug violations during the gathering of fans at Watkins Glen International prior to the cancellation of the Phish concert -- called off due to health concerns. Those arrested, from New York, Pennsyvlania, Vermont and Texas, all posted bail and are expected to reappear at later dates in Town of Dix Court. The charges were a mix of misdemeanors and felonies involving heroin, psilocybin mushrooms, marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy.


Health issues force Phish concert cancellation

Health concerns left behind by the Aug. 14 storm (see Boil Water Notice below) prompted state health officials and Schuyler County to cancel the following weekend's scheduled Phish concert at the Watkins Glen International racetrack. Government.

Dundee Fire & Rescue Team members remove cats from the Humane Society's "kitty kaboose" building at the rear of the animal shelter property in Montour Falls. At least two rooms were lost to the waters. (Photo provided)


Cleanup follows heavy rains, flash flooding

Cleanup was under way Wednesday, Aug. 15 on roads and various flooded properties following Tuesday's heavy rains and flash flooding -- conditions that led to road closures (including large portions of Routes 414 and 14, since reopened) and some evacuations -- including Peach Orchard Point in Hector. Various businesses also closed Tuesday, but were reopening Wednesday.

Photo in text: Flooding Tuesday morning around 8:30 a.m. on Summit Ave. in Watkins Glen. (Kathy Fragola photo)


Flood view

A view Aug. 14 of the Humane Society shelter on Marina Drive in Montour Falls, taken by Tony Vickio with his drone following flooding caused by a heavy storm the night before. (Provided)


The challenge: to get involved, stay informed

Watkins Glen High School senior Kathleen Clifford (pictured at right) -- after attending the American Legion Auxiliary's Empire Girls State Program at SUNY Brockport-- weighs in with some thoughts on the education of today's youth. In particular, she says, the younger generation "needs to be educated on how to get involved and stay informed." Schools.


Sheriff's Office probes fatal accident on 414

The Schuyler County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a fatal motor vehicle-pedestrian accident that occurred on State Rte. 414 in the Town of Hector about 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11. Deputies said the initial investigation shows the operator of the vehicle, Dewey L. Herren, 23, of Valois, was traveling south on Rte. 414 when his vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian identified as Timothy J. Kamanga, 30, of Bennettsburg, who was also southbound. The Burdett Fire Department, Schuyler Ambulance and New York State Police Collision Reconstruction Unit were also on the scene. The investigation is ongoing.

Photo in text: Timothy J. Kamanga.

  Italian American Festival ends its 3-day run

The 39th annual Schuyler County Italian American Festival, which opened Aug. 10 at Clute Park in Watkins Glen, concluded Aug. 12. It was highlighted Aug. 11 by its annual parade, with fireworks on tap after dark. The parade featured bands, floats, fire departments and a festival Prince and Princess, among other attractions. For details, see the story on Features.

Right: Festival parade Grand Marshal Tony Vickio. (Photo by Glenda Gephart)


DOH warns of potential Legionella exposure

The New York State Department of Health has announced that individuals who were guests at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel between July 16, 2018 and August 1, 2018 and were in proximity to the hotel's pool and spa may have been exposed to Legionella bacteria. Government.


Schuyler may join suit against Interior Dept.

Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman says the county might join a class-action lawsuit against the Department of Interior for possible underpayment to Schuyler of payments in lieu of property taxes on federal lands within the county. The legislature will vote on the matter on Monday, August 13. Government.

Photo: County Attorney Steven Getman.


State gives Lakewood environmental honor

Lakewood becomes the first vineyard to receive the New York State Agricultural Environmental Management Award. Agriculture.

Sunset on Seneca

This view of the sunset over Seneca Lake on Friday evening, August 10, was snapped by photographer Liz Fraboni from in front of her cottage on the eastern shore near Hector.

  WGI wins best NASCAR track honor again

The Watkins Glen International racetrack has -- for the third straight year -- been voted the best NASCAR Track in a USA Today 10Best Readers' Choice contest. The designation comes on the track's NASCAR weekend. Twenty tracks were nominated, with balloting ending July 23. Said State Senator Tom O'Mara and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano in a joint statement: "It's a well-deserved national honor for track officials and staff, drivers and, most of all, the fans who help make The Glen one of the renowned venues in all of sports."

  Chase Elliott wins NASCAR race at The Glen

Chase Elliott, 22, son of 1988 Winston Cup Series champion Bill Elliott, won his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race Aug. 5, posting a narrow victory over Martin Truex Jr. at Watkins Glen International. Elliott had 48 top-10 finishes in his first 98 NASCAR Cup Series starts, but never a first until Sunday -- in a 90-lap, 220.86-mile stock car event held on WGI's 2.45-mile road course. Elliott, the 2014 Nationwide Series champion and the Daytona 500 pole winner in both 2016 and 2017, held off Truex for the last 31 laps. Truex finished second, followed by Kyle Busch, Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones.

Photo: Chase Elliott (Photo provided)


WGHS pulls plug on the Watson Tournament

Watkins Glen High School's annual Mike Watson Wrestling Tournament has been canceled in the coming school year.

Athletic Director Rod Weeden, in an email to Athletic Directors, coaches "and others," cited a weakness in the current WGHS wrestling program, which had only a handful of participants last year.

"It pains me to send this email," he wrote, "but we really have to come to terms with the lack of wrestlers coming out for the program here at Watkins Glen. With that being said, I would like to get the word out early that we will not be holding the Watson Wrestling Tournament this year. I think it is only fair to get this out early, so you can make new plans with your wrestling schedules."

The longstanding two-day tournament -- which often attracted better than 20 schools to the WGHS Field House -- was named in honor of Mike Watson, a Watkins teacher and wrestling coach, following his death in August 2000.


3 from Watkins compete at Junior Olympics

A trio of Watkins Glen High School swimmers competed recently at the AAU Junior Olympics in Des Moines, Iowa. Amanda Wilbur, Sarah Swinnerton and Allie Gibson were part of the United Southern Tier Aquatics Swim Team, representing Watkins Glen, Horseheads, Owego, Ithaca and Waverly high schools. Sports.

Photo: From left, Amanda Wilbur, Allie Gibson and Sarah Swinnerton (Photo provided)

  Annual Finger Lakes Cheese Festival is a hit

The 7th annual gathering of vendors, artisans, farm animals, musicians and an estimated 8,000 visitors enjoyed the Finger Lakes Cheese Festival Jul 28 at the Hoffman farm at Catharine Corners, outside Odessa. The event featured cheeses from the 12 members of the Finger Lakes Cheese Alliance, as well as food products and crafts from 70 other vendors. Said Carmella Hoffman, owner of Sunset View Creamery, located on the farm: "We do it so that we give some benefit to our members of the Cheese Alliance." Added Mark Costa, the festival communications coordinator: "This event is a wonderful way for people to come out and experience all of the products of all of the members of the Alliance, all in one place."


Annual Hector Fair Parade marches up Rt. 414

A highlight of the 60th annual Hector Fair -- a parade along Route 414 -- went off under sunny skies Friday evening, July 27, its participants marching and riding and walking past an appreciative crowd lining the roadway. Bands, floats and firefighters led the way to the fairgrounds, where an evening of fun, food, music and rides followed. The fair continued through Saturday, July 28, with a fireworks display at 10:30 p.m. For more photos, see Features.

Photo: Members of the Montour Falls Fire Department.

  WG grad Littler performs with Zajac orchestra

Jessica Littler, a 2013 graduate of Watkins Glen High School and known as a talented fiddler, played in the 2nd Violin section July 22 during a concert at South Seneca Central School in Ovid featuring the 40-member Seneca Summer Music Festival Orchestra. It performed Beethoven's Symphony No. 6 in F Major, known as Pastorale; the first movement of the Concerto for Horn and Orchestra No. 1 by Richard Strauss; and three Pomp and Circumstance marches by Edward Elgar. The conductor and summer orchestra founder is 2011 South Seneca graduate S. Shade Zajac, who drew together Finger Lakes and Rochester area musicians for the performance, as he has for previous concerts in his hometown -- including one other this summer. Zajac, a 2015 graduate of Nazareth College and an accomplished cellist and composer, is Principal Conductor and Music Director of the Genesee Symphony Orchestra in Batavia -- the youngest conductor in the group's history. Littler, of Hector, plans to attend Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, this fall, majoring in early childhood education.

Photo: Violinist Jessica Littler and Conductor S. Shade Zajac.


Glenora releases 2nd 'SpokesPup' wine

Glenora Wine Cellars released a new wine on July 26 called “GG’s Reserve,” which joins “Chase’s Reserve” in its SpokesPup series. Glenora hosted a Meet & Greet with GG -- a rescue pup -- from 5-7 p.m. that day. A portion of each bottle sold in the series goes to animal charities across the U.S. Business.

Photo: The GG's Reserve label

The Warriors' third baseman, Saul Monroy, dives in vain for a sharp Pioneers hit down the line.


Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team defeats Pioneers with late-inning rally, 11-5

Watkins Glen High School 2004 graduate Desiree Ellison (right) is Executive Director of the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team, which travels the country playing slow-pitch games against established squads while raising money through donations to help fund an annual Kids' Camp for children with amputations -- an effort to show the kids that what has happened to them is something they can overcome as the players have; that they are not alone. The team played at Dunn Field in Elmira July 21 against the Pioneers, coming from behind by scoring the final eight runs -- five in the 5th inning and three in the 7th -- to win 11-5. The Warriors rapped out 20 hits to the Pioneers' 12 as both teams played error-free ball on a rainy night. The Warriors had arrived Friday from around the country, gathering that first evening for a picnic at the home of Ellison's parents, Will and Dodie Hrynko in Burdett.

The team has a roster of about 40 players, but not all play at each of the year's 25 or so events. About seven players, said one coach, are regulars, with the rest alternating. Eillison, who has previous experience with the Syracuse Chiefs baseball team, has been Executive Director since May, and said she loves the work. She lives in Norfolk, Virginia, where she went to college. Veterans attending the July 21 game were admitted free, and gathered on the field before the first pitch to welcome the Warriors, who rode in through a centerfield gate on motorcycles and pickup trucks. The game was sponsored by the Hilliard Corp. and Ziff Law.

Photos: Desiree Ellison; Josh Wege rounds third for home.

For a related column, click here.


Glen Planning Board has a busy meeting

The Watkins Glen Planning Board gives Preliminary Site Plan approval to two proposals, and hears about plans for two mixed-use apartment complexes. Government.

Photo: Hunt Engineers' Dan Bower and 2nd Street plan.


Coffey on bronze rowing team at World Cup

Former Watkins Glen resident Olivia Coffey (right) served in the stroke position for the United States women's eight team that finished in third place July 20 at the World Rowing Cup III in Lucerne, Switzerland. The U.S. team finished behind New Zealand and Canada. Coffey, an All-American during her college days and an Olympian, helped Cambridge University defeat Oxford in April in The Boat Race, an important competition held in England.

  Arc of Schuyler planning changes, fund drive

Jeannette Frank (right), the executive director of The Arc of Schuyler, on July 19 outlined to the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club a multi-pronged plan by The Arc to meet changing legal regulations. In essence, the moves will further integrate The Arc's clientele with the community. Included is an expansion of the building at 210 12th St., across from The Arc headquarters, where a Neighborhood Center will be developed. Renovations are also on tap in the main Arc building to its food manufacturing faciltiies. Well over $1 million in grants have been secured for the efforts, with a $375,000 fund drive planned in the coming months to make up the shortfall in the $1,750,000 price tag. The Arc provides support and services to people with developmental and other disabilities.

To learn more about The Arc's plans, click here.


Village, Walmart at odds over store colors

A new blue-and-orange color scheme on the Fourth Street store draws a stop-work order from the village and verbal jousting at a Village Board meetiing. Government.

Photo: Trustee Tony Fraboni


LPG storage plan along Seneca nixed by state

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos (pictured at right) on July 12 issued a decision denying the Crestwood Midstream energy firm's plan for the storage of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) in salt caverns along the western shore of Seneca Lake. Seggos denied the application -- a decision that took years to be issued -- on the grounds the facility would have a "significant adverse impact on community character." The caverns are north of Watkins Glen, which joined with most municipalities along the lake in opposing the plan. The Schuyler County Legislature backed it four years ago, but rescinded that approval earlier this week based on safety concerns recently raised by Crestwood. DEC.

The band Uncle Joe and the Rosebud Ramblers out of Ithaca entertained the audience at the Logan Center.


Logan Center honors Smith history book

The completion of a decades-long project by former resident Marsha E. Smith -- to collect, transcribe and publish Backbone Ridge family history that appeared in the Interlaken Review's Contributors' Column from 1917-1942 -- was celebrated July 15 at the Logan Community Center. Smith, who now lives in Washington State, was on hand to sell and sign copies of her book. Snacks and live music were part of the event.

Left top: Marsha Smith signs a copy of her book for one of the day's many buyers.
Left bottom: The Logan Community Center, a church built in 1832 and closed in 1975, has been under restoration since 1985.


Florida musician entertains Rotary Club

The Watkins-Montour Rotary Club was entertained July 12 by Harry Havery, front man for the central Florida musical group California Toe Jam and often a solo artist. Havery is spending the summer in the Finger Lakes area, performing at various venues including the Grist Iron Brewing Company on July 12, Landon's Pub July 19, and the Seneca Legacy Dinner Cruise on Saturdays through Aug. 4, among others. Then, on Oct. 14 and 16, he will be back with California Toe Jam to perform in fund-raisers at either the Glen Theater or the Watkins Glen High School -- details to be determined. The same group appeared last year in Watkins and attracted a large crowd.

Photo in text: Harry Havery at Rotary Club.


Seneca Powerlifters set marks at National

Members of the Seneca Powerlifting Club (including Sarah Horton, left) set new national records by weight and age and took home first-place trophies July 14 at the World Natural Powerlifting Federation's national meet in Henrietta. Sports.

Rob Halpin, after his re-election by fellow board members as President, swears in Karen Rock as the Board Vice President.


Halpin re-elected as O-M School Board chief

Rob Halpin was renamed president of the Odessa-Montour School Board on July 12 at the group's annual reorganizational meeting. Karen Rock was elected vice president, while Dana Sgrecci was sworn in as a new board member, elected by district residents in May. Rock, who tied with Halpin in that May election for the third 3-year seat on the board (the others went to Sgrecci and Jeff Parmenter), agreed after that vote to take the lone available one-year term rather than pursue a costly revote. She accordingly was sworn in to that shorter term before being elected vice president. The board also named a long list of officers and depositories for the coming school year, and set the second Thursday of every month for its regular monthly meetings, and the fourth Thursday of every month for its monthly workshop meetings.

Photo in text: Dana Sgrecci, right, signs in after taking the board oath of office from Superintendent Chris Wood, left.

At the meeting, from left: Village Clerk Lonnie Childs, Village Treasurer Rhonda Slater, and Utilities Superintendent Lee Kent.


Village Board seeks $50,000 water-study grant

The Watkins Glen Village Board, meeting in special session on July 11, approved an application seeking a $50,000 Community Development Block Grant (for which the village would match just $2,500) from the New York State Office of Community Renewal. The funds would be used for a Water System Evaluation that could be utilized in village infrastructure improvements.

The board also heard from Trustee Laurie DeNardo (right), updating plans for a festival being planned in the village in September when the Corning Inc. GlassBarge (pictured top right and measuring 30 feet by 80 feet) visits Watkins Glen, one of 20 stops it is making around the state as it recreates the move by the Corning Glass Works from Brooklyn to Corning in 1868 along the Hudson River and Erie Canal. It will pull up to the Seneca Harbor Pier after being escorted upon its approach by a parade of boats. Once it docks, it will offer free glassblowing demonstrations from Sept. 14-16 as the focal point of weekend festivities before completing the final leg to Corning by land. (The original Watkins-to-Corning canal section is no longer functional.) Further festival details will soon be released by organizers.

Vocalist Cookie Coogan sang several selections with the Ageless Jazz Band behind her. The group is based in Ithaca.


Ageless Jazz Band performs at Lafayette Park

The second week of summer Concerts in the Park at Watkins Glen's Lafayette Park on July 10 featured the Ageless Jazz Band and its mix of classic swing to Latin jazz. Future Tuesday performances include Dean Goble & Friends on July 17 (country music); the Sgro Brothers on July 24 (featuring harmonicas); Gentlemen of Song on July 31 (Big Band and swing); Donna and the Country Mystics on Aug. 7; the Terry Walker Quartet on Aug. 14 (jazz and rock); and Diana Leigh & The Shorty Georges on Aug. 21 (swing and jazz).


Legislature rescinds support for LPG storage

The Schuyler County Legislature voted unanimously on July 9 to rescind its prior support -- from 2014 -- for the proposed storage of propane in local salt mines along the western shore of Seneca Lake. The move followed a report that one of the caverns might have leaks. "It comes down to a matter of safety," said Chairman Dennis Fagan. Government.

Photo at right: Legislator Michael Lausell, an outspoken critic of the storage plan.


Thousands attend funeral for fallen trooper

The funeral service for New York State Police Trooper Nicholas F. Clark (right) -- killed in the line of duty July 2 while responding to a 911 call regarding a suicidal subject -- drew thousands of people Sunday, July 8 to Alfred Unversity to pay their respects. Police said Clark was killed when he was struck with buckshot from a 12-gauge shotgun fired by Steven M. Kiley, a Bradford School District principal, at Kiley's residence at 10041 Welch Road in the Steuben County Town of Erwin, just south of Corning. Kiley later died of a self-inflicted gunshot to the head after being wounded by law enforcement. Police said they recovered 12 illegal firearms owned by Kiley, including eight assault rifles, numerous high capacity magazines, and two silencers. Trooper Clark, 29, resided in Troupsburg. He had served in Ithaca, Auburn and most recently Bath.


Fireworks display draws crowd to Clute

A Chamber of Commerce-sponsored fireworks display Friday night, July 6 packed Clute Park in Watkins Glen and drew other spectators to surrounding hills to view the show. Young Explosives Corp. of Rochester produced the display.

Left: Friday's fireworks.


Mitrano pulls away for win; Della Pia concedes

23rd Congressional District candidate Tracy Mitrano of Penn Yan has come from behind to win the Democratic Primary, with opponent Max Della Pia conceding Tuesday afternoon. Della Pia, a retired Air Force General who led by 26 votes before absentee ballots were counted, fell behind by a reported 194 votes with absentees in Yates County -- Mitrano's home county -- the only ones left to count. Della Pia called for party unity as Mitrano, an educator and lawyer, turns to square off against incumbent Republican Tom Reed in November's election. The results of the Primary will be officially certified Thursday. Della Pia, of Owego, led 7,022-6,996 on election night, June 26, but soon fell behind as absentee ballots were tabulated. Mitrano reportedly won every county except Owego.

Photo: Primary winner Tracy Mitrano

Ed Clute's Dixie Five Plus in action Tuesday in Watkins Glen.


Tuesday concerts return to Lafayette Park

The weekly summertime Concerts in the Park series returned Tuesday evening to Watkins Glen's Lafayette Park with Ed Clute's dixieland band providing the music for the season-opener. Music fans brought their folding chairs to the park for the performance. The concerts are held on Tuesday evenings throughout the summer. Next up: the Ageless Jazz Band, with Big Band and Swing music, on July 10.


Brubaker re-elected president of School Board

Gloria Brubaker was elected by her fellow board members to a second one-year term Monday night as Watkins Glen School Board President. The group's annual reorganizational meeting also saw Mark Franzese renamed vice president, and Barbara Schimizzi sworn in after being elected in May to a second three-year term. Board member Kelly McCarthy, also re-elected in May, was absent due to an extended illness for which Franzese offered "thoughts and prayers." Meanwhile, board members will be interviewing finalists next week for an Assistant Principal position. Superintendent Greg Kelahan said the post is expected to be filled shortly thereafter.

Photo: Gloria Brubaker takes the oath of office.

Jim Somerville receives his Paul Harris Fellow award from Rotarian Nancy Loughlin at the Rotary Club's Changeover Dinner.


2 Rotarians honored as Paul Harris Fellows

Watkins-Montour Rotary Club members Jim Somerville and John King were honored at the club's Changeover Dinner on June 28 as Paul Harris Fellows. Each received a certificate, medallion and pin emblematic of the award, given to select people -- both club members and non-members -- deemed to possess a liviing philosophy of "service above self," a Rotary motto. Such presentations to members, the Rotary Foundation says, constitute a "way of expressing appreciation for a substantial contribution to Rotary's humanitarian and educational programs." The award is named after a Chicago lawyer who started Rotary International with three business associates in 1905.

The dinner, at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel, marked the annual change in the club presidency -- in this case from Rich Greenberger to Rebekah Carroll, who is also president of the local Chamber of Commerce. She will serve as the head of the club until mid-2019.

Photo: John King receives a Paul Harris pin from his wife Lorna


France Family honored with Argetsinger Award

The fifth annual Cameron R. Argetsinger Award for Outstanding Contributions to Motorsports was presented to the France Family during a dinner June 28 at the Corning Museum of Glass. People.

From left: O-M students Madison Moss, Aidan Thurston, Mackenzie Cannon and Gabriel Grover. (Photo provided)


4 Odessa students at Villanova STEM Week

Odessa-Montour school district students Mackenzie Cannon, Gabriel Grover, Madison Moss, and Aidan Thurston joined outstanding Middle School students from across the nation in a unique academic and career-oriented development experience, NYLF Explore STEM, during the final week of June at Villanova University in Philadelphia. Schools.

The Historical Society's Paul Bartow and Glenda Gephart.

  Historical Society names president, director

The Schuyler County Historical Society membership has elected Paul Bartow as president and the Society Board of Trustees has appointed Glenda Gephart as executive director. People.


Watkins graduates 89 in annual ceremony

The Watkins Glen High School Class of 2018 says farewell with a Commencement exercise in the school Auditorium. The Valedictorian and Salutatorian: Clara Chedzoy and Trevor Thurston, respectively. Providing the music: Ed Clute at the piano. Graduation.


Left: WGHS graduate Emmie Bond enters the school auditorium during the Processional.


WGHS Alumni group holds annual banquet

The Watkins Glen High School Alumni Association's annual gathering honors five scholarship recipients from the Class of 2018 and a Distinguished Alumnus. People.


WGHS Distinguished Alumnus Capt. Gary Voorheis, U.S. Navy, Retired.


O-M graduates 59 in evening ceremony

The Odessa-Montour Class of 2018 says farewell with a Commencement exercise in the school's Fetter-Brown Auditorium before a capacity crowd. Graduation.


Left: Valedictorian Hailey Perraut


Planning Board gets 1st look at Cheese Co.

Further steps ahead as new business owners prepare building on North Franklin Street in Watkins Glen for a possible fall opening. Cheese, wines, beer, and paired offerings ahead. Business.

Left: The front of the Seneca Cheese Company building.


Rotary honors Scheffey as Student of Month

Watkins Glen High School senior Isobel Scheffey was honored June 21 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its WGHS Student of the Month for June. Scheffey was introduced by teacher Kelly Muir, who called the honoree a "delightful, hard-working, motivated" person who "will excel" at whatever she attempts and "achieve her goals." Scheffey, a member of this year's Top Drawer team of 24 outstanding student-athlete-citizens selected from 10 schools, is a High Honor student and an outstanding soccer player and runner. She set school records at 55 and 300 Yards in Indoor track this year, and at 400 Yards in Outdoor Track. She was also the Section IV, Class C champion in both the 200 and 400. She plans to attend the University of Albany, and would like to become a pediatrician. "Helping kids is what I want to do," she said.

Photo: Isobel Scheffey at the Rotary luncheon.

Community Grants

Watkins-Montour Rotary Club President Rich Greenberger, left, hands a check to Boy Scout leader Rick Evans at the June 21 Rotary luncheon as part of the distribution of thousands of dollars by the club to area service groups, an annual event. Other organizations receiving funds included the Watkins Glen Summer Swim Program, the Humane Society, Youth Football, Habitat for Humanity, the Historical Society, Cooperative Extension, Labor of Love, the Elizabeth Pert Library in Hector, the My Place Play and Learning Center, and the Schuyler County Veterans Memorial.


Douglas to step down as CCC president in '19

Dr. Katherine P. Douglas has announced she will retire on June 30, 2019 after eight years as President of Corning Community College. The school's 6th president, her tenure has been marked by expansion and public/private partnerships. Schools.

Left: CCC President
Dr. Katherine P. Douglas

School Board summary

The Watkins Glen School District office has issued a draft summary of the June 18, 2018 meeting of the Board of Education. To read it, click here.


State Park renovation ceremony held; NY unveils DRI projects

The dedication of the upgraded Watkins Glen State Park entrance area drew more than 130 people to the park's new amphitheater June 18, and served another function: the unveiling by the state of the 14 projects that have won funding under Watkins Glen's Downtown Revitalization Initiative. Government.

Photo: A ribbon was cut as part of the park dedication.


Border politics dog
a visit to La Bourgade

Congressman Tom Reed gets a tour of the "hillside village" being built -- and rented out -- by Bruno Schickel along Rt. 414. Reed also weighs in on tariffs and responds to questions about the President's "zero tolerance" immigration policy. Bourgade.


Left: Congressman Tom Reed, left, and Bruno Schickel.


Far away from Schuyler County, out West ...

Photographer Liz Fraboni of Watkins Glen -- a frequent contributor to this website in years past -- provides us with a look through her lens at the landscape -- and regional features -- of Arizona, snapped while she was visiting family out there. For a look at her offerings, click here.


Photo: One of the scenes that caught Liz Fraboni's eye on her Arizona journey.

  Grand Prix Fitness wins walking competition

Grand Prix Fitness is the champion of the 8-week Schuyler Steps Out walking competition, ahead of runnerup Watkins Glen High. The 2017 champion Humane Society was third. The walking program, in its 12th year and designed to get participants walking in the spring, had 13 teams. GP Fitness, with 16 walkers, had a cumulative average of 973,886 steps. Watkins Glen High, with 10 walkers, had a cumulative average of 889,659 steps, while the Humane Society, with 16 walkers, had a cumulative average of 889,390 steps. The program was sponsored by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

Sunset on Seneca

This photo of the Tuesday, June 19 sunset on Seneca Lake was sent by Joe Fazzary. It was snapped from the deck at his home, looking to the northwest.


WGHS champs, State qualifiers are honored

Watkins High School sectional champions and State tourney competitors are recognized by the school district at a School Board meeting. Four retirees are also honored. Schools.

  Glen Village Board OKs sewer rate increase

The Watkins Glen Village Board on June 18 approved a $1 increase in sewer rates -- to $15.50 per month from $14.50 -- to help maintain the village's distribution system. The increase -- which also includes hikes for usage above 300 cubic feet -- is effective July 1. The board also approved a Joint Project Committee audit showing 10 invoices totaling $939,000 in expenditures for the sewage treatment plant planned along the canal. Much of that money was for construction of a road leading to the site, bringing to just over $5 million the amount spent on the project thus far. Trustee and JPC member Tony Fraboni said almost $27 million remains budgeted for construction of the plant itself.

Photo: Watkins Glen Village Trustee Tony Fraboni.

Aaron Planty at his signing ceremony, and his Geneseo cake.

  Planty signing ceremony held at Watkins High

Watkins Glen High School senior Aaron Planty -- who will be attending Division III SUNY Geneseo in the fall and competing in cross country and track there -- was the center of attention June 18 at a celebratory signing ceremony in the WGHS Library. Friends and family watched as Planty signed a form in which he pledged to participate in those two sports at Geneseo. Aaron capped an outstanding high school career this year with The Odessa File WGHS Male Co-Athlete of the Year Award, shared with his brother Gabe, also a runner.

Tinker Bell (Jule Osburn) and Peter Pan (Molly Heichel) soar.


'Peter Pan Jr.' ends its 3-day run at WGHS

The Lake Country Players' production of Disney's musical "Peter Pan Jr." -- with flying provided by ZFX Flying Effects of Louisville, Kentucky -- ended its 3-day, 4-performance run with a matinee Sunday afternoon, June 17 before an enthusiasic audience of more than 260 people in the Watkins Glen High School auditorium. The three-day attendance totaled about 1,000.

The flying rigging, installed last weekend, enabled several of the play's young actors to fly -- much to the delight of the audience.

Kim Laursen and Kelsey Johnson were co-directors. Features.

Photo: Emma Malnoske as Wendy Darling takes to the air.

Rosie Newton, left, and Lydia Garrison performed June 16.

  Lakewood hosts annual Fiddlers Gathering

The first day of the two-day 29th annual Old Time Fiddlers Gathering and Folk Arts Festival drew a larger-than-usual crowd June 16 to Lakewood Vineyards north of Watkins Glen. Musical acts featuring Old Time selections in the main tent highlighted the day along with various items for sale, such as quilts and handmade banjos. The event concluded Sunday with an Irish Folk Arts theme.

Photo: Jamming is a staple of the Fiddlers Gathering.


Legislators Blowers, Barnes seek re-election

Incumbent Schuyler County Legislators Carl Blowers (left) and Phil Barnes (right) -- both Republicans -- are seeking re-election this fall, running as a team. For a story on their announcement and background, see Government.

Schuyler opposes Seneca Army Depot incinerator plan. Government.

Youth Bureau holds annual celebration

More than 60 attend the event at the Human Services Complex in Montour Falls. A mock trial and several awards highlight the gathering. People.

A boat rounds the final turn of the Seneca Marina course.

  25th annual Cardboard Boat Regatta held

The 25th annual Watkins Glen Waterfront Festival concluded Saturday, June 16 with the popular Cardboard Boat Regatta held in the Seneca Harbor Marina. The regatta, held under clear skies and warm temperatures, drew its usual large crowd lining the pier, the breakwater and the shoreline. The evening before, the festival featured live music, plenty of food, vendors, and Harbor Lights of various colors and effects. The regatta, featuring both solidly built and porous homemade crafts, resulted in various awards, such as Best Construction (a Flintstone-themed boat), Best Sinking (ironically, it was named Unsinkable), Best Name (Hull and Boats), and People's Choice (the Tiki Torpedo).

Photo: The breakwater was a great place to watch from.

Left: The Seneca Harbor Pier during the Harbor Lights portion of the Waterfront Festival on June 15. Right: The True Love's sails that night.

  Enrollment numbers look promising at O-M

The Odessa-Montour School Board on Thursday night, June 14 heard a report from an independent consultant -- Dr. Paul Seversky, a former school superintendent -- that foresees O-M's enrollment, now about 800 students, will stabilize or grow slightly in the next 10 years, to between 825 and 950 students. Seversky's report, presented for an hour in person to the Board, dealt with various subjects, such as enrollment, building use and optimum class sizes. Said Superintendent Chris Wood of the enrollment projection: "It's great news. The fact that we're not decreasing" -- a problem in some area schools -- "is pretty great."

Photo: Board members Jeff Parmenter, left, and Will Shrout.


Schuyler Scholars honored at dinner

The 11th annual Schuyler Scholars celebration at the Harbor Hotel on Tuesday night, June 12 honored 19 seniors from three school districts for their academic achievements. Schools.

Left: Each honoree received a plaque.

  Conservation Field Day teaches 6th graders

A total of 142 sixth-grade students from the Odessa-Montour, Bradford and Watkins Glen school districts attended the annual Schuyler County Soil and Water Conservation District-led Conservation Field Day on June 5 at the Millport Hunting and Fishing Club. Field Day.

Photo: O-M student Lily Bixby caught a largemouth bass at the Field Day's fishing station. The fish was released.


Erie Canalway Photo Contest is under way

The 13th annual Erie Canalway Photo Contest for professional and amateur photographers has begun. The Canalway Corridor reaches as far south as Montour Falls. Winning photos will be featured in the 2019 Erie Canalway calendar. For details on entering, see Features.


Montour parade draws crowd to Main Street

The 62nd annual Montour Falls Fire Department Parade of Bands -- featuring nearly a dozen musical groups and 21 fire departments, along with floats, tractors and vintage cars -- attracted a large gathering of spectators who lined Main Street through the village for the hour-long procession on June 9. Features.


Left: The Montour Falls Fire Department color guard.

One of the many carnival attractions.

  Fire Department Festival ends its 3-day run

The 62nd annual Montour Falls Fire Department Festival on the carnival grounds alongside Route 224 -- which opened on Thursday evening, June 7, concluded June 9th. The highlight that last day was an annual parade down Main Street in the village beginning at 5 p.m. and featuring firefighters, firetrucks, bands, floats and classic cars. The festival featured food, rides, games, bingo, clams, and craft beer. Admission was free. Live music Thursday was by Rusted Bucks. Friday it was classic rock by RUST; Saturday it was country music by Devon Franks.

Photo: One of the several rides available at the festival.

Ryanna LaMoreaux, center, at the celebratory signing with her sister Ali and mother Rebekah Carroll.

  LaMoreaux signing ceremony held at WGHS

Watkins Glen High School senior Ryanna LaMoreaux, who will be attending and playing basketball at Division III Lycoming College in Pennsylvania in the fall, was the center of attention June 8th at a celebratory signing ceremony in the WGHS Library. Friends and family, along with basketball coach Alicia Learn, watched as LaMoreaux signed forms in which she pledged to play basketball at Lycoming, where she will be studying pre-law. A letter from Lycoming official Mike Konopski, a 1981 graduate of WGHS, welcomed Ryanna to college "as she makes the transition from Senecan to Warrior. I invite fans from Watkins Glen and Schuyler County to make the short trip south to Williamsport to see her play and for underclassmen to perhaps consider joining her in attending Lycoming College in the future." LaMoreaux was a member of two Section IV championship basketball teams and a state titleist at WGHS.

Some of the members of the Top Drawer 24 pose for the team photo. The full team photo appears with a story inside.
(This photo by Hailey Perraut)

  Top Drawer 24 are honored at park ceremony

The 13th annual Top Drawer 24 team of outstanding high school scholar-athlete-citizens -- two dozen honorees from 10 area high schools -- were celebrated Monday evening, June 4th at a ceremony at the Watkins Glen State Park pavilion. Party.

Photo: Honoree Kai Sutterby of Watkins Glen High School.

Exchange students Beatriz Silva of Brazil (left, attending Odessa-Montour High School) and Arnaz Bhoruche of India (attending Watkins Glen High School) -- both of whom will soon be going home -- gave accounts of their school year and various travels when they appeared June 7th at a luncheon meeting of the sponsoring Watkins-Montour Rotary Club at Seneca Lodge.

  Rotary honors Tague as Student of the Month

Odessa-Montour High School senior Syria Tague was honored June 7th by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its O-M Student of the Month for June. The honoree -- listed as a junior but completing her high school requirements a year early and entering Hartwick College in Oneonta in the fall -- was introduced by teacher Russ Gardner. He described Tague as "an excellent example ... of a well-rounded student" who carries a 96 average, has participated in swimming, tennis and cheerleading, and is a member of Interact and the National Honor Society. Tague, said Gardner, is a determined individual, never turning defensive or creating excuses "if she gets something wrong," instead digging in and figuring how to correct it. "She's a pleasure to be around," he added.

Photo: Syria Tague at the Rotary Club luncheon.

Watkins Glen High School's Female Athlete of the Year is Hannah Morse, pictured with WGHS Male Athletes of the Year Aaron Planty (center) and his brother Gabe. The awards were presented Monday at the Watkins Glen State Park pavilion.


Odessa File names its Athletes of Year

The Odessa File distributed trophies June 4th to its Female and Male Athletes of the Year from the Odessa-Montour and Watkins Glen High Schools: Kennedey Heichel and Curtis Harris at Odessa, and Hannah Morse and the Planty brothers, Aaron and Gabe, at WGHS. The awards were sponsored by E.C. Cooper Insurance.

Photo: O-M Athletes of the Year Kennedey Heichel and Curtis Harris.

Lime Bikes across the street from the Watkins Glen State Park.

  Lime Bikes have arrived in Watkins Glen

A new way to get around has come to Watkins Glen: Lime Bikes -- a bike-sharing program using apps on a phone for rentals at $1 per half hour. For details, see Business.

Hanley Elliott putts as Gabi Decker watches in practice round. (Photo provided by Steve Decker)

  Section 4 golfers finish tourney in 6th place

The nine-member Section 4 girls golf team finished near the middle of the pack at the two-day New York State Public High School Athletic Association Golf Championships on the par-72 Bethpage Yellow Course on Long Island. Sports.


WGHS distributes awards at assembly

Academic and athletic honors were handed out at an evening gathering in the Watkins Glen High School auditorium. Awards.


Photo: Lexi Castellaneta with one of the awards.


Introducing the 2018
Top Drawer 24 team

The 13th annual Top Drawer 24 team of outstanding area student-athlete-citizens contains 16 seniors and 8 juniors from 10 schools. To see who they are, click here.

Top Drawer celebration held at State Park. Party.

Diners networked first on the Seneca Lodge porch. Here Liz Stamp of Lakewood Vineyards chats with Phil Cherry. Wine was provided by Lakewood, J.R. Dill Winery, Atwater Estates Vineyards and Chateau LaFayette Reneau.

  Ribs & Riesling draws crowd to Seneca Lodge

More than 80 diners attended the third annual Ribs & Riesling fund-raising dinner May 24 at Seneca Lodge in Watkins Glen. The event, sponsored by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club, was conceived by Rotarian Rebekah Carroll. It raised funds Thursday for the Montour Falls Library's Early Literacy Program. Rotarian Jim Howell was the emcee. Speaking briefly was Montour Falls Library Director Roxanne Leyes.

Photo: Emcee Jim Howell and Rebekah Carroll.


Montour earns Clean Energy designation

The Village of Montour Falls has been recognized for its leadership in reducing energy use and cutting costs. A related energy study could lead to a renovation of the Village Hall. Government.


A Track Day at WGI

Montour Falls' Bob Brown participates in a learning experience at Watkins Glen International racetrack that is popular among a diverse group of drivers. Track.


Memorial Day observed in 4 Schuyler ceremonies

Ceremonies in Montour Falls, Watkins Glen (two) and outside Odessa remember those who have given their lives in defense of our nation. People.


At the Montour Falls ceremony

Schuyler Spring All-Stars

The spring All-Schuyler All-Star teams of high school athletes are unveiled, led by Odessa-Montour track standouts Kennedey Heichel and Zach Elliott. Sports.

  Watkins places 3rd for Small Town Adventure

Watkins Glen placed third in USA Today’s latest 10Best Readers’ Choice travel award contest! It finished behind Marquette, Michigan, and Florence, Oregon for Best Small Town for Adventure. Voting took place until May 14. Results were announced May 18. Twenty locales were nominated.

Photo: Seneca Harbor Pier.

  Ken Wilson is a Jefferson Award honoree

Schuyler County Hall of Famer and community leader Ken Wilson (pictured at right) was honored May 17 as a Jefferson Award recipient by the Chemung Canal Trust Company and Corning Enterprises during a luncheon at the Elmira Country Club. The award is presented for outstanding leadership and volunteerism over the years. Other recipients: David Biviano and Betty Hess, along with Elmira's Carl Hayden, who was named the "National Jefferson Award Representative." Hayden will represent the Twin Tiers region next month at a Jefferson Awards event in Washington, D.C. with about 80 other designees from communities around the nation.

Wine tasting and sales are a staple of Seneca Lake Wine & Food.

  Wine & Food event draws crowd to Clute Park

Wine and food lovers flocked on May 19 -- despite overcast skies and the occasional rain -- to the aptly named (and annual) Seneca Lake Wine & Food at Clute Park in Watkins Glen. About 1,500 people had passed through the entry gate in the first three hours, and another 500 or so were expected before the event ended. Tents with more than 40 area food and wine vendors were present selling their products, and there were wine and cheese seminars along with live music.

Photo: Organizer Jeff Dill.

Sara Caldwell was on hand running her Global Taco truck.


Ground broken for Kayak/Canoe Launch

A groundbreaking ceremony on May 18 drew village, county and state officials to the site of a planned Kayak/Canoe Launch at the eastern end of Clute Park. Government.

Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, center, and State Senator Tom O'Mara with Arc of Schuyler Executive Director Jeannette Frank. The Arc's 40th anniversary drew a proclamation and resolution of praise from Albany officials.

  Arc of Schuyler celebrates its 40th anniversary

Longtime Board member Harold J. Hoffmeier, right, was among the speakers May 18 as The Arc of Schuyler celebrated its 40th anniversary with a luncheon at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel. The main ballroom was packed with Arc supporters and local dignitaries. Said State Senator Tom O'Mara: "Nothing exemplifies community more than the Schuyler Arc does." Assemblyman Phil Palmesano praised The Arc for "improving the quality of life of our most vulnerable citizens. There can be no greater calling or greater mission." Arc Executive Director Jeannette Frank thanked both men for their recent efforts in securing improved wages for Direct Support Professionals, employees The Arc calls "the linchpin in a system of supports that empower people with disabilities to lead self-directed, meaningful, and productive lives."

Odessa-Montour High School senior Hailey Hoose at Rotary.

  Rotary honors Hoose as Student of the Month

Odessa-Montour High School senior Hailey Hoose was honored May 17 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its O-M Student of the Month for May. Hoose was introduced by O-M teacher Lisa Frost, who called the honoree "an amazing and unique individual" who has been "very active in the Odessa school community." Hoose has competed in swimming and tennis and has been part of school musicals for two years while also a student in the BOCES Dental Assisting program. She is known, Frost said, for "her perseverance and caring nature" and for always helping those in need.

Photo in text: Hailey Hoose receives her Student of the Month plaque from Rotary's John King.

The ribbon is cut at the expanded Sunset View Creamery.

  Ribbon-cutting held at expanded business

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on Wednesday, May 16 at the Sunset View Creamery on the Hoffman farm at Catharine Corners -- marking the grand opening of a new tasting room and retail space for the long-estabished cheese business. "After years in a very humble tasting room," says creamery owner Carmella Hoffman (pictured at right), "we now have a full-size retail shop and tasting area." The ceremony was part of a Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce After-Hours Mixer -- a Chamber tradition offering networking opportunities. Notes Chamber President Rebekah Carroll: "The Hoffmans are an integral part of our agritourism and local food communities."

  Palmesano welcomes Bacalles to Albany

Special to The Odessa File

ALBANY, May 16, 2018 -- Assemblyman Phil Palmesano welcomed his predecessor, Jim Bacalles, back to the Assembly during a recent visit by Bacalles to the Capitol.

"It was a real privilege for me to welcome Jim back to Albany," said Palmesano. "Jim is a true friend to this institution. He was a principled legislator who set a tremendous example for all of us. I'm honored to follow in his footsteps."

Palmesano noted that he and Bacalles have maintained an excellent relationship over the years: "Jim was my mentor in government. I worked for him from 1995 to 2004, and during that time I learned so much. He epitomizes what public service should be all about."

Photo: Jim Bacalles, left, and Phil Palmesano. (Photo provided)

  Budgets pass easily at Watkins Glen, Odessa

Voters overwhelmingly approved budget proposals on May 15 in the Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour School Districts. The $27.2 million budget passed 207-36 in Watkins Glen, while a proposition to lease buses passed 195-47. In Odessa, the $16.8 million budget passed 221-43, while propositions for the purchase of buses and for an increase in the library tax for the Montour Falls Library passed 209-54 and 165-104, respectively. Incumbent School Board members Barb Schimizzi and Kelly McCarthy ran unopposed for two seats in Watkins Glen, receiving 213 and 190 votes, respectively. Three incumbents -- Rob Halpin, Karen Rock and Jeff Parmenter -- and newcomer Dana Sgrecci ran unopposed. Halpin, Parmenter and Sgrecci will serve three-year terms, and Rock a one-year term.


WGHS holds its annual Spring Concert

Students in grades 7 through 12 perform an array of choral and instrumental music in the school auditorium. Schools.


Photo: The flute section in the Grade 7/8 Band.

  Legislature acts on coroner, bridge, noms

Schuyler County Legislators on May 14 approved the appointment of Patricia Kelly, NP, as one of two County Coroners to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Dr. James P. Coleman III "until such time (as) a general election can be held." The appointment runs from June 1 through Dec. 31.

In other businesss, legislators: --Accepted a bid for construction of a bridge replacement over Johns Creek on North L'Hommedieu Street in Montour Falls.
--Approved Harold J. Hoffmeier Jr. and John Terry as Schuyler County nominees for the 2018 New York State Office for the Aging Senior Citizen of the Year award.
--Heard Chairman Dennis Fagan say Sales Tax for the first four months of 2018 are 8.1% higher than the same period in 2017. "We are experiencing a strong local economy," Fagan noted.
--Approved an independent audit report that, for the second straight year, fournd no significant problems in county finances. The treasurer's office under Harriett Vickio, said Fagan, is doing "a fantastic job."
Photo in text: Legislature Chairman Dennis Fagan at his computer during Monday's meeting.

  Glen teacher places 2nd in Jeopardy semifinal

Watkins Glen Elementary School Special Education teacher Rachel Niegelberg of Trumansburg -- who won a quarterfinal "Jeopardy" match aired May 8 in the popular TV show's annual Teachers' Tournament -- finished second in a semifinal aired May 15, ending her TV run. According to a "Jeopardy" fan website, she trailed Claire Bishop of Lexington, Kentucky by $100 entering Final Jeopardy, where both answered correctly -- Niegelberg betting $10,000 and finishing with $25,900, and Bishop betting $15,801 and finishing wih $31,801. The clue was in the U.N. Languages category: "Of the 6 official U.N. languages, it's the one that is written in cursive form only." The correct response: "What is Arabic?" Bishop moved on to the two-show finale in the quest for a $100,000 prize. The two-week tourney -- taped earlier -- has featured 15 teachers from around the U.S. Each received a $2,500 educational grant to help fund classroom projects.

Photo: Niegelberg with "Jeopardy" host Alex Trebek.

  Ground broken for new Burdett Fire Station

The long-awaited Burdett Fire Depaartment took a symbolic step toward completion May 11 with a groundbreaking ceremony on the site, fronting Rt. 79 at the eastern end of the village. Various dignitaries were on hand. Groundbreaking.

  Lausell to challenge O'Mara for Senate seat

Schuyler County Legislator Michael Lausell (right), a Democrat, has opened a campaign office in Montour Falls as he launches a challenge to incumbent Thomas O'Mara for the State Senate seat held by O'Mara in our 58th Senate District. O'Mara, a Republican and Conservative, was first elected to the Senate in 2010. Lausell has been a legislator since 2013, and was re-elected in 2017. The Senate term runs four years. Lausell, who held a campaign kickoff at his headquarters at 232 W. Main St. in Montour Falls on Thursday, May 17, says he believes voters should have a choice in picking their senator. The election is in November. Lausell is a lawyer, and raises beef cattle, selling some of his product at the Farmer's Market held Thursdays seasonally at the park in Montour Falls directly next to his campaign office.

School Board summary

The Watkins Glen School District has issued a summary of the School Board meeting held May 7. To see it, click here.

  Rotary honors Chedzoy as Student of Month

Watkins Glen High School senior Clara Chedzoy (right) was honored May 10 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its WGHS Student of the Month for May. Chedzoy -- the class Valedictorian -- was introduced by teacher Kelsey Wood, who called the honoree "a great scholar" and "a truly kind, lovely person. I can't think of a better person to go out in the world to make it better." Chedzoy -- a defensive standout on the school's girls basketball team that won the Class C state title in 2017 and reached the finals of the Section IV tournament this year -- plans to attend Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, and study astrophysics and astronomy. She says she would like a career in Research and Development in the aerospace industry.

  Missing Montour Falls infant found safe

The infant girl missing from a Montour Falls residence on Rock Cabin Road -- Gionna K. Harter, 15 days old -- was located "safe and sound" along with her mother in the City of Geneva by Geneva and State Police Officers, the Schuyler County Sheriff's Department reported Thursday night, May 10. The Sheriff's office said the child was removed from the Montour Falls residence by her mother, Katrina M. Harter, over a court order that had granted temporary custody to a third party on May 9. The Sheriff's Department, which said no criminal charges are pending against the mother "at this time," thanked the public "in calling in tips and providing information to assist in the investigation. Law Enforcement followed up on over 100 leads in Schuyler, Ontario, Wayne, Monroe, Erie, Seneca, and Yates Counties."

Photo: Gionna K. Harter (Photo provided)

Kai Sutterby, right, and Isabella Fazzary arrive at the prom.


WGHS holds prom at Logan Ridge Estates

The annual prom drew a large gathering of gown-clad young women and tuxedo-clad young men for an evening of fun, food, music and camaraderie. For photos of the night, see Prom.




Left: WGHS senior Amber Benjamin.

  League luncheon topic: DOT project in Glen

The annual meeting of the League of Women Voters of Schuyler County was held May 1 at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel. Guest speakers were Mike Griffin and Jeremy Ferris of the New York State Department of Transportation, who outlined the Route 14 reconstruction project that has begun in Watkins Glen and will be completed next spring. It is being done in stages that the two men said are designed to minimize disruption downtown. The project includes new sidewalks and roadwork designed to reduce speed as motorists enter the village from the north.

Photo: The DOT's Mike Griffin (left) and Jeremy Ferris.


Ceremony marks breakthrough at park

Various dignitaries were on hand April 30 for a ground-breaking ceremony at the Schuyler County Business Park -- the symbolic start of the planned construction of a beverage production facility there -- the park's first tenant. Business.

Left: State Ag & Markets Commissioner Richard Ball.


O-M team wins county Envirothon crown

The Otters, one of five Odessa-Montour teams in the April 30 Southern Tier Envirothon in Owego, won the Schuyler County team title and will compete in a statewide event. Schools.

Left: Billy Tague (left) and Andy Ink of winning Otters.

  It's a time for youth to stand up and be heard

Watkins Glen High School junior Kathleen Clifford -- an Odessa File intern -- has written about the recent March for Our Lives in Ithaca and elsewhere and about youth empowerment in general as the younger generation has lifted the issues of gun violence and gun control into a national debate. Her thoughts are on Schools.

Photo at right: At the Ithaca March for Our Lives. (Photo provided by Kathleen Clifford)

Drug Take Back Day

Saturday, April 28, was a day on which law enforcement agencies operated drop-off centers to allow for the safe and responsible disposal of unused prescription drugs. In Schuyler County, the Odessa and Tyrone Fire Departments were such centers. In the photo above, Corrections officer Anthony Nieves stands beside two bags full of prescription drugs dropped off at the Odessa site that morning. (Take Back Day important: Government.)

Some of the large crowd at the Watkins Glen Community Center.

  Burdett Fire Dept. holds fund-raising dinner

The annual Burdett Dinner-Dance hosted by the Burdett Fire Department drew more than 400 people April 28 to the Watkins Glen Community Center. The event -- featuring thousands of dollars in raffle prizes -- is a major fund-raiser for the department, with proceeds going toward the purchase of trucks and equipment. One such truck, a new rescue vehicle, was put into service a week ago.

Photo at right: A buffet dinner was served by Carol Bower Catering.

From left: Watkins Glen Fire Chief Charlie Smith 3rd, emcee Tom Carson, and Junior Specchio, being honored for 70 years with the department. He joined in 1948.

  Watkins Fire Dept. holds its annual banquet

The annual Watkins Glen Fire Department banquet drew a crowd April 28 to the Hidden Valley lodge. The evening saw the installation of officers by Watkins Glen Mayor Sam Schimizzi: Charlie Smith 3rd as Chief, Derek Bacon as 1st Assistant, Robert Gruver as 2nd Assistant and Jason Hudson as 3rd Assistant. There were Years of Service awards, Appreciation awards, and Training and Response awards.

Two of the vehicles on display April 28: a 1933 Chevrolet sedan (left) and a 1930 Ford Model A.

  Car show featured at Paint the Town Purple

The annual Paint the Town Purple fund-raiser -- aimed at helping finance cancer-cure research -- was held April 28 at the Montour Firemen's Carnival Grounds. The event, with a flea market, chicken barbecue and various displays, also featured a car show with a wide range of vintage vehicles. The 1941 Ford Super Deluxe pictured in the inset was for sale at $22,000 by its owners, Don and Mary Paterson of Elmira, who said they could be reached at (607) 739-7051. Other vehicles were there for show.

Youth production

Some of the cast of the Lake Country Players' youth production of Peter Pan, Jr., set for June 15-17 at Watkins Glen High School. Features.

Opportunity Zones recommended

New York State has recommended 514 census tracts -- including two in Schuyler County -- for designation as Opportunity Zones, a new federal community development program. Government.


OFD installs officers, gives annual awards

The Odessa Fire Department's annual banquet Saturday, April 21 at the Fontainebleau Inn drew 125 to a dinner evening marked by the installation of incumbent chiefs (and one new one) and the distribution of response and longevity awards. See another photo on People.

Left: Keith Pierce, honored for most fire calls last year, and Charlene Mahnke, the top rescue responder.

Rotary offers grant request guidelines

The Watkins-Montour Rotary Club annually accepts requests for community grants, which are funded by a variety of club efforts. The guidelines are on People.

  They're promoting Donate Life New York State

Employees in the Schuyler County Clerk's office and Department of Motor Vehicles, along with other county workers, have been supporting New York's Donate Life campaign by wearing t-shirts, pins and bracelets touting the movement, which encourages organ and tissue donations. The campaign is of special interest to Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, who years ago donated a kidney to his sister and often preaches the benefits of the program. (Photo provided)

To learn more, visit https://donatelife.ny.gov


A transplant journey: the Schmidts' story

Deb Schmidt of Watkins Glen recounts -- in the third person -- the experiences she and her husband Gary underwent as Gary received lung and kidney transplants and Deb donated one of her own kidneys. The couple were guests at a Rotary Club meeting on Thursday, April 19 at which Assemblyman Phil Palmesano spoke of the importance of organ donations. Journey.


Tyrone meal site celebrates 25 years

The Office for the Aging and Tyrone Methodist Church hold an anniversary gathering at the church. 80 attend. People.

Photo: Legislature Chair Dennis Fagan and OFA Director Tammy Waite at the event.

  Rotary honors Dunn as Student of the Month

Odessa-Montour High School senior Trevor Dunn (right) was honored April 19 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its O-M Student of the Month for April. Dunn was introduced by teacher Peter Fitch, who described the honoree as "a leader and a positive role model" who has twice been a GST BOCES Student of the Month while studying welding there. He has also been involved for years in robotics, and is on the seven-member team from FLARE (Finger Lakes Area Robotics Education) that has qualified for robotics competition at a world gathering next week in Detroit, Michigan. Dunn, who Fitch said is always "willing to try things" that others might shy from, plans to pursue a college degree in engineering technology.

A booth operated by the Southern Tier Tobacco Awareness Coalition was one of many booths at the Business Expo.

  Glen Center hosts 12th annual Business Expo

The 12th annual Business Expo -- organized by the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce and presented by Elmira Savings Bank -- was held April 18 at the Watkins Glen Community Center. It started with a public portion of the event from 4 to 5 p.m., and then transitiioned into the Chamber's monthly After Hours Mixer with refreshments, a raffle and networking. Dozens of businesses and organizations participated, providing information booths explaining or touting their various services or products.

Supports for at-risk students was among the subjects discussed.

  School safety forum focuses on mental health

The Watkins Glen School District -- which recently held a safety forum focusing on physical safety and the threat of guns in schools -- shifted gears to another piece of the gun debate Tuesday night, April 17: "Mental Health Services and Psychological Safety." On hand were counselors, psychologists and a social worker from the schools, and a representative from the nearby Mental Health Clinic on Porter Street. They discussed their roles and that of the district in assessing troubled students who might be helped -- a key element, they said, in a two-prong approach (with physical preventative measures) needed in the effort to keep the schools safe. "It truly takes a village" -- parents, teachers, counselors, mental health experts, the community and fellow students -- "to ensure the mental health of our students," said one speaker. That, in turn, some experts say, should help prevent tragedies like the mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida school recently. The forum was live-streamed from the Watkins Glen Elementary School auditorium.

Photo: Watkins Glen Elementary School Psychologist Katie Richardson was among the speakers.

  In the heart of April

Just when we think we're out of the winter, it keeps pulling us back in. Snow paid a return visit to Schuyler County -- mostly in the higher elevations -- on Tuesday, April 17. The photo here was snapped from College Avenue in Odessa looking out onto Route 224 in the afternoon.

Gerry Messmer is sworn in as Odessa mayor by his predecessor, Keith Pierce, at Monday's Odessa Village Board meeting.

  Pierce resigns in Odessa; Messmer new mayor

Keith Pierce, mayor of Odessa for the past nine years and a village official for the past 13 -- resigned Monday night, April 16 at the outset of a meeting of the Village Board -- which in turn named as his successor Gerry Messmer, 53, a retired Army Lt. Colonel who moved to the village last year. Messmer, a 31-year Army veteran with significant administrative experience during a career that took him to various combat areas, lives with his wife Cathy at the corner of Church Street and Speedway. Both run their own businesses -- Cathy in custom embroidery and Gerry in powderhorns. He will serve the final year of Pierce's latest two-year term, and indicated an intent to seek election next year. Pierce explains his decision in a column here.

Budget approved: The Village Board, after Messmer was sworn in, approved a 2018-19 budget. It shows a drop in the tax rate from $6.35 per $1,000 of assessed value to $6.23, but with full-value assessment recently instituted, tax totals have gone up in many cases. The tax levy: $159,662.

Photo: Keith Pierce, facing camera, shakes the hand of Fire Chief Mike Tomassi after leaving the mayor's post Monday.


A final column by Mayor Keith PIerce

Keith Pierce presents his final column as he leaves the post of Odessa Mayor -- one of more than 30 Odessa File columns he has written over the past few years. In this farewell, he explains his decision to give up his seat as he assumes another role -- that of 3rd Assistant Chief in the village fire department. Column

Left: Mayor Keith Pierce

  4 seek 4 seats in Odessa; ballot positions set

Four candidates are vying for four openings on the Odessa-Montour School Board in the May 15 election. Positions on the ballot were determined April 16 in the district office when Superintendent Chris Wood picked names of the four out of a paper cup, the first name getting the top ballot position, the second the next position, and so on.

Incumbent Board President Rob Halpin has the top spot, followed by incumbent Karen Rock, newcomer Dana Sgrecci, and incumbent Jeff Parmenter. Three of the vacancies are for three-year terms, and one to fill the unexpired year of a seat held by Mel Switzer before he left the board several months ago. The top three vote-getters earn the three-year terms.

Watkins Glen drew for ballot positions April 17. Two seats are up for grabs -- each for three years -- and there are only two candidates: incumbents Barbara Schimizzi and Kelly McCarthy.

Photo: O-M Superintendent Chris Wood holds the last name drawn -- that of incumbent board member Jeff Parmenter.


Arc Grand Prix held in thick fog; 600 on hand

The fifth annual Arc of Schuyler Grand Prix Run/Walk on the Watkins Glen International racetrack Saturday morning, April 14, was fog-shrouded as 600 participants tested their physical capacities and raised money at the same time for The Arc. Grand Prix.

Photo: During the National Anthem.


Odessa-Montour holds its annual prom at WGI

The annual gathering -- on Friday night, April 13 -- of students wearing gowns and tuxedos had the theme of "Garden Gala." Junior and Senior Class courts were announced at 11 p.m. For story and photos, click here.




Photo: Lexi Castellaneta makes an entrance at the prom.

Patricia Enriquez of Brooklyn charges her 2016 Tesla at the new charging station in Montour Falls. She was participating in the Green Grand Prix at Watkins Glen International when she heard that village officials were looking for a volunteer with an electric car to help unveil the station.

  Montour unveils electric-car charging station

Montour Falls officials on April 13 unveiled a new electric-car charging station (right) -- the first in Schuyler County -- installed the day before at the rear of the park along Main Street that is often used for Farmers' Markets. The $16,000 station -- which cost $1,600 thanks to local DPW labor and a NYSERDA rebate -- can charge two electric vehicles at a time. On hand April 13 was a 2016 Tesla and its owner, recruited from the Green Grand Prix being held that day at Watkins Glen International. The owner, Patricia Enriquez of Brooklyn, was in touch by phone with the station operator, EV Connect -- which is located in El Segundo, California, and controls the station through the internet. Electric car drivers with proper apps will be able to find the station through remote guidance from EV Connect. The station was an action item tackled by Village Trustee Jim Ryan, in conjunction with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schuyler County, that was a prerequisite for application for a $50,000 grant -- which, if attained, might be used to enhance the Village Hall's second floor to make it usable year-round.

Some of the many model cars on display, as viewed from above.

  Model Car Show concludes at Research Center

The fifth annual Model Car Show -- with the theme "Watkins Glen Racing: A 70th Anniversary Celebration, in miniature!" -- was held Friday and Saturday, April 13-14 at the International Motor Racing Research Center, 610 S. Decatur St. in Watkins Glen. Admission was free to the event, which included models, die-cast cars and slot cars on loan from collectors -- as well as an extensive collection of Porsche models donated to the center by their owner, Ron Ratcliffe, before his passing in 2017.

Photo in text: Visitors to the Model Car Show could test their slot-car abilities on a track set up by a Horseheads firm.

Two vehicles on the WGI Track as part of a fuel-efficiency competition named after the late Doris Bovee, a well-known area environmentalist.

  14th annual Green Grand Prix is held at WGI

The 14th annual Toyota Green Grand Prix was held Friday, April 13 at Watkins Glen International -- once again showcasing motoring technology that aims for a cleaner environment. It included involvement by students from colleges and high schools -- the high school students coming from Odessa-Montour, Watkins Glen, Horseheads, Corning and GST BOCES. College participants and/or volunteers came from Alfred State, Penn College of Technology, SUNY Morrisville and SUNY Broome Community College. Talks were presented on such subjects as self-driving vehicles, and an on-track fuel-efficiency rally was held featuring alternate-fueled vehicles, hybrids and traditional gasoline-powered and diesel-powered vehicles. The Green Grand Prix events -- including an afternoon autocross -- are sanctioned and run by the Sports Car Club of America's Glen Region and Finger Lakes Region and are the only official SCCA competitions of their kind in the nation.

Photo in text: Joah Sapphire, a University at Buffalo researcher, was among the day's speakers.

Rotary Club Student of the Month Amber Benjamin.

  Rotary honors Benjamin as Student of Month

Watkins Glen High School senior Amber Benjamin was honored Thursday, April 12 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its WGHS Student of the Month for April. Benjamin was introduced by teacher Travis Durfee, who runs a Journalism Class and serves as advisor of the school newspaper. The honoree has taken a leadership role in both -- conducting interviews on school safety for an article after the Parkland, Florida shootings that triggered a school-wide assembly on the subject -- which she moderated. She is a member of National Honor Society, Interact and Youth Court, has played both varsity volleyball and softball, and is a High Honor student heading to Keuka College in the fall. She plans on Law School after that, and a career in the legal field, possibly as a District Attorney. That and "a happy life" are her goals, with a return to Watkins Glen to raise a family.

Inset: Rotary President Rich Greenberger greets Benjamin.

  Robotics team & their robot visit Rotary Club

The FLARE (Finger Lakes Area Robotics Education) team called Mechanical Meltdown -- which leaves April 24 for Detroit to compete in a world event there (see previous story on Features) -- was the guest program April 12 at the weekly luncheon meeting of the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club. Three of the seven team members -- Trevor Dunn (a student at Odessa-Montour High School), Sam Stewart (home-schooled) and Kaden Loucks-Scuteri (of Watkins Glen High School) -- showed a video of a recent competition involving the robot they built (named Renaldo), and explained how they reached the Detroit competition as one of just four (out of 260) teams that qualified from New York. They demonstrated some of Renaldo's moves under the watchful eyes of coaches Roger Ort and Kathy Gascon, each of whom also spoke. The world event is under the auspices of FIRST (For Inspiration & Recognition of Science & Technology), a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) engagement program for kids worldwide.

Photo in text: Team member Trevor Dunn with Renaldo.


Free Cone Day raises Habitat funds

The annual season-opening Free Cone Day at the Ben & Jerry's ice cream store in Watkins Glen on April 10 featured Habitat for Humanity's Rev. Michael Hartney (serving a cone, left) among the scoopers, and raised funds through donations for the Habitat mission -- which is "to work in partnership with people in need to build and renovate decent, affordable houses" that "are then sold to those in need at no profit and with no interest charged."

Sidewalk closure, orange cones and work on the edge of the road were evident April 9 as the Rt. 14 project began from the village's southern end, heading north.

  Road project begins on Watkins' southern end

Sidewalk and road work got underway Monday, April 9 along Route 14 at the southern end of Watkins Glen -- the start of a project that will involve that roadway through, and north of, the village this year and next. The multimillion-dollar state Department of Transportation project will upgrade the roadway and brilng new sidewalks, lighting and signage. A press conference celebrating the project was held three days earlier on the front lawn of the Schuyler County Courthouse.

From left: Ambassadors John and Chris Updyke; Shannon Alger.

  Ambassadors named for Library Week

The Friends of the Watkins Libary (FOWL) group selected John and Chris Updyke as community ambassadors for its observance of National Library Week, which ran April 8-14. Maggie Field, Watkins Glen High School Library Media Specialist, chose junior Shannon Alger as school district ambassador. The week is an annual celebration of the nation's libraries and librarians, with the theme this year of "Libraries Lead." A FOWL membership form can be found at http://www.watkinsglenlibrary.org -- or ask for one at the Watkins Glen Public Library.

Watkins Library budget vote is set. Schools.

At the ceremony, from left: Watkins Glen village trustees Tony Fraboni and Kevin Thornton and Mayor Sam Schimizzi.

  Ceremony marks upcoming Glen road project

Village, county and state officials were on hand for a snowy "groundbreaking" ceremony Friday morning, April 6 in Watkins Glen extolling the upcoming Route 14 road and sidewalk project in the village. Government.

Watkins School Superintendent Greg Kelahan at the meeting.

  School Board OKs proposed budget; tax rate, levy are down; public vote is set for May 15

The Watkins Glen School Board on April 3rd unanimously approved a proposed 2018-19 budget that calls for a drop in both the tax rate and tax levy while maintaining expenditures identical to the 2017-18 plan. The "two-compartment" plan proposes a $27,047,750 budget ($172,500 lower than its predecessor) and a Proposition to establish a five-year bus-leasing system at an annual cost not to exceed that same $172,500 -- the goal of the Proposition being to save money by departing from the longstanding practice of buying buses. The levy will drop -- for various reasons -- to $9,300,245 from $9,508,760, and the tax rate will be an estimated $11.41 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, down 26 cents. Voting by the public on the budget will occur on the third Tuesday of May -- the 15th.

Photo in text: Business Manager Gayle Sedlack outlined the budget before the School Board voted on it.

High school kickball pitcher Ralph Diliberto catches a low line drive.

  Kicking the ball for a worthy cause at WGHS

The second annual WG Kickball Classic drew a crowd and a lot of energy on March 29 to the Watkins Glen High School Field House -- all to raise funds for the Ronald McDonald House. The kickball game pitted elementary staff against high school staff, and they were playing all-out, diving for the ball with regularity. Near the playing area -- the basketball court -- were a silent auction, facepainting, a book giveway, and booths for Catholic Charities, the Schuyler County Commission on Underage Drinking and Drugs (SCCUDD), and the Watkins Glen Faculty Association. Spectators lined bleachers on either side of the court, and the concession stand was busy out in the hallway. Umpiring the kickball were Superintendent Greg Kelahan and High School Principal Kai D'Alleva. Said one participant: "This is so much fun ... and for a good cause."

Photo: The kickball championship trophy.

Left: Teacher Kaz Popovich sends the ball flying. Right: Teacher Trevor Holland makes a diving catch on a ball that bounced off the outfield wall. The high school staff won 7-6.

  Class examines responses to 'active shooter'

The Schuyler County Sheriff’s Office conducted a "Civilian Response to Active Shooter Event" (CRASE) class March 28 in the Watkins Glen Performing Arts Center at the former Middle School -- with Lt. Todd Day (right) outlining for the 30 or so people present the responses and actions available to those who find themselves caught in such a shooting situation. Day said when people are threatened like that, they should calm themselves as much as possible and either get out (if possible), barricade or block the door to whatever room they are in, or fight back. This could include positioning themselves near an entrance as the shooter walks through it, and then grabbing the gun -- two hands tightly to the barrel of a rifle, with arms extended straight, holding the weapon down. If a free-for-all ensues, he said, those threatened are allowed under the law to fight back with whatever means are at their disposal. Lt. Day, certified by the state in the subject matter, plans further such educational talks.

  Democrat Gallant quits campaign for Congress

Rick Gallant (right) -- a Corning teacher and one of several Democratic candidates looking to unseat incumbent Republican Tom Reed in the 23rd Congressional District in November -- has pulled out of the race, saying "the challenge of raising the necessary money and resources to sustain a viable run for office has placed too great a burden on my family. We are not independently wealthy and simply can not afford the endeavor. Until campaign finance laws in the nation change, ordinary working people like myself will find the challenge of running for office is often insurmountable."

  Union activist Brill dies in Town of Dix fire

Sue Brill, 57, a longtime Schuyler County union activist, has been identified as the victim of an early morning fire March 27 at her residence in the Town of Dix. The fire, at about 1 a.m., was fully involved when firefighters arrived from Beaver Dams; they discovered the body during fire suppression efforts, according to the Schuyler County Sheriff’s Office. A Civil Service Employees website, in mourning her death, noted that Brill (right) had worked for the county for 35 years, "most recently as an employment supervisor in the Department of Social Services. She served in several leadership capacities within the union, including several terms as Schuyler County Administrative Unit president and Local president." Added CSEA Central Region president Colleen Wheaton: "Sue was as dedicated as they come. She will be missed by many throughout our union."

  Local robotics team qualifies for Worlds

A team of seven high school-aged students from Schuyler County and Ithaca has advanced to face robotics competition from throughout the Northern Hemisphere in Detroit in April. Now the team is looking for ways to help finance the trip. Features.

Photo: The team's robotic creation, named Renaldo.


'Hunchback' concludes its 3-day run at WGHS

The Watkins Glen High School spring musical "Hunchback of Notre Dame" was presented for a third and final time Sunday afternoon, March 25 in the WGHS auditorium. Schools.

Left: Grace Wickham as Esmeralda.

  Suddaby finishes 6th at NCAA diving tourney

Ithaca College senior Lindsey Suddaby (right) -- a 2014 graduate of Watkins Glen High School -- placed sixth among divers on the 3-meter board at the NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving Championships on March 24 in Indianapolis. Suddaby, a speech pathology and audiology major, earned All-America honors with her finish. Suddaby, a diver at WGHS for four years and a member of the Top Drawer 24 team of outstanding student-athletes in her senior year in high school, will receive her diploma in June and attend graduate school at IC. She is also a two-time academic All-American.

Odessa File Winter Sports MVP, All-Stars

We unveil our 1st, 2nd and 3rd Team high school All-Stars, and honor an O-M swimmer as our Winter Sports MVP. Sports.


Sheriffs' Institute drive starts; benefits camp

Schuyler County Sheriff Bill Yessman is encouraging support of the New York State Sheriff's Institute through its Honorary Membership drive. The Institute's programs include a summer camp (left) on Keuka Lake for economically challenged children. People.

  Rotary honors Elliott as Student of the Month

Watkins Glen High School senior Hanley Elliott (right) was honored March 22 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its WGHS Student of the Month for March. Elliott was introduced by teacher-coach Chris Clark, who said the honoree has earned many accolades, among them qualification in four straight years to the New York State high school golf championships. She has been a key member of the school's varsity volleyball team, as well as a member last year of the Top Drawer 24 team of outstanding student athletes in the region. She is ranked 7th in her class academically, and plans to attend Ithaca College as she pursues a doctorate in Physical Therapy.

  Coffey's Cambridge team wins 'The Boat Race'

Former Watkins Glen High School student Olivia Coffey -- who was on the Senecas' sectional final basketball team in her freshman year before moving on to prep school, Harvard, All-American status and a rowing career on U.S. National teams and an Olympics berth -- rowed March 24 for Cambridge University's Women’s Boat Club against Oxford University's Women’s Boat Club in “The Boat Race” on The River Thames as part of Cambridge’s elite women’s eight team. And her team won, finishing seven lengths ahead of Oxford. Coffey is attending Cambridge, working on her MBA. The 6-foot-1 Coffey, 29, also known for her hockey prowess in her prep school days (and whose father stroked the men’s pair to a silver medal at the 1976 Olympics), was one of two Americans on the Cambridge squad -- seated next to the coxswain and helping dictate the boat’s pace.

  Odessa, Montour voters re-elect incumbents

The turnout was low, and there were no surprises March 20 as the Village of Odessa saw trustees Sally Hill and Thomas Letteer re-elected to 2-year terms on the Village Board. Only 14 residents voted, with Letteer named on 14 ballots, Hill on 12, and write-in Gerry Messmer on 1.

Montour Falls: 41 ballots were cast, with incumbents James Ryan (38 votes) and Philip Smith (37 votes) re-elected to 4-year terms. There were two write-in votes -- one each for Harriet Farrell and Pat Nelson. Incumbent Village Justice Donald Spaccio was re-elected, named on all 41 ballots.

Village trustee Tony Fraboni listens as Chamber of Commerce President Rebekah Carroll, right, and Tourism & Marketing Manager Brittany Gibson outline plans to help merchants during upcoming work by the state on Franklin Street and adjoining sidewalks. The Chamber will coordinate with the Department of Transportation and merchants to help minimize the disruption of business.

  Village Board hears Market-Movie Night plans

The Watkins Glen Village Board on March 19 heard Movie Night originator Sara Caldwell outline the 2018 plans that combine a Farmers' Market with movies at Clute Park. The Wednesday events begin on July 4, and continue through Aug. 29, with the exception of Aug. 8. The market will run from roughly 5:30-8:30 p.m., with each movie outdoors at dusk. The board also accepted a state grant for the Kayak Launch at Tank Beach and approved Silverline Construction as general contractor for the project. The target date for groundbreakng is April, with completion planned by June 30. (Photo inset: Trustee Gary Schmidt)


'Secret Garden' ends run at Odessa-Montour

The Odessa-Montour High School spring musical "The Secret Garden" ended its two-day, three-performance run with matinee and evening performances Saturday, March 17 in the school's Fetter-Brown Auditorium. Features.

Left: Rhys Stermer and Molly Heichel in a "Secret Garden" dance number.


Hotel Ice Bar raises $25,000 for Red Cross

The 7th annual Ice Bar -- a 3-day celebration of area wines and foods and a showcase of sculpted and colorful ice bars at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel in February -- raised $25,000 for the Finger Lakes Chapter of the American Red Cross. That amount -- $25,000, which brings to $125,000 the 7-year total donated by the hotel to the Red Cross -- was presented in a check ceremony March 16 at the hotel. Attending were both hotel and Red Cross representatives. Plans are already underway for the 8th Ice Bar in 2019. Business.

Photo: Red Cross Finger Lakes Chapter Executive Director Brian McConnell at Friday's ceremony.

Guest Speaker

Andrew Tompkins, former director of the Schuyler County Historical Society Museum and now director of the Finger Lakes Boating Museum in Hammondsport, was guest speaker at the March 15 luncheon meeting of the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club. He described the exhibits and services of the museum, located in the former Taylor Wine Company buildings. It is open 7 days a week, year round, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is $7, although free to members and youths 12 and under.

  Rotary honors Coates as Student of the Month

Odessa-Montour High School senior John Coates (right) was honored March 15 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its O-M Student of the Month for March. The honoree was introduced by music teacher Jennifer Kraemer, who said she has taught Coates for years and finds he is someone "you can always rely on," and someone who is "happy to do whatever task needs to be done." She also said he is "a wonderful leader in our ensembles" -- for Coates' specialty is music. He is a member of the school Choir and Band, its Brass Quintet and Jazz Club, the Honor Choir, and the current and previous school musicals, in addition to belonging to Drama Club. Coates said the award was "a huge honor. I've never been Student of the Month or Student of Anything before." He will perform as Archibald Craven in this weekend's O-M spring musical, "The Secret Garden."


Students hold walkouts, silent vigils at O-M, Glen

Some students at the Odessa-Montour and Watkins Glen school districts staged 17-minute walkouts from their classrooms March 14 on the day of a nationwide movement created in reaction to the Parkland, Florida school shooting. At both Schuyler schools, silence marked the day instead of protest. Schools.

Left: Friends shared a blanket in a WGHS courtyard vigil.

Members of the band Kilrush perform at Wednesday's concert.

  Kilrush in concert at Performing Arts Center

The Elmira-based Celtic Rock group Kilrush performed March 14 in a free pre-St. Patrick's Day concert sponsored by the Schuyler County Legislature at the Watkins Glen Performing Arts Center. The county, which recently took over operation of the facility -- in the former Middle School -- says it hopes the Kilrush concert "is the first of many performances there" in a drive to develop it into a cultural center. Also performing Wednesday -- before a crowd estimated by one county official as more than 300 people -- were The Ring of Chiarraighe Celtic Dancers from Horseheads.

From left: WGI President Michael Printup, State Senator Tom O'Mara, race car driver Katherine Legge, and Assemblymen Phil Palmesano and Chris Friend. (Photo provided)

  State Legislature recognizes WGI in Albany

State Senator Tom O'Mara and Assemblymen Phil Palmesano and Chris Friend welcomed Watkins Glen International President Michael Printup, WGI Vice President Andrew Smith and race car driver Katherine Legge to the State Capitol March 13 to celebrate the contributions of motorsports to the economy and culture of the Southern Tier and statewide. Legge competes in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Together, the group officially opened a New York State Motorsports Exhibit in the Empire State Plaza, and both houses of the Legislature adopted a resolution proclaiming March 11-17 as Motorsports Appreciation Week in New York.


Legislature backs the wage tip credit system

Schuyler legislators back local restaurateurs who see dire consequences-- rising prices, fewer customers and fewer employees -- if the state terminates the credit system. Business.

Also: Legislators pass Local Law on opioid cost recovery that draws emotional response. Government.

Photo: Watkins restaurateur Curt Connelly at Monday meeting.


Wood: Robocalls will be used in the future

Odessa-Montour School Superintendent Chris Wood (left) said at the March 8 School Board meeting that the district -- after notifying parents by letter following a student-issued threat recently -- will employ much faster robocalls in the future. The announcement came after one parent complained at the board meeting. Schools.

Mark Rondinaro and Emily Peckham at the Rotary Club.

  Rondinaro, Peckham join local Rotary Club

The Watkins-Montour Rotary Club welcomed two new members during its weekly luncheon meeting March 8 at the Upper Deck Grill located in the Watkins Glen Elks Lodge. Schuyler County Legislator Mark Rondinaro and Schuyler Public Health Specialist Emily Peckham joined the club -- introduced respectively by members Judy Cherry and Ken Wilson.


Program showcases students' talents

The annual Artists in Residence program at Watkins Glen High School culminates with two concerts featuring students' musical talents. Schools.

Photo: Student Sarah Joslin sings "Beneath Your Beautiful."


Final public workshop held on DRI projects

The third and final public workshop is held regarding Watkins Glen's $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative. Government.

Photo: DRI consultant Susan Favate at Wednesday's session.

  Village Board approves Lafayette Park clock

The Watkins Glen Village Board on March 5th held a 37-minute meeting at which it approved purchase of a Howard Replica Victorian Style Street Clock for Lafayette Park with $14,995 from $50,000 in funds bequeathed to the Parks Department by the Robert Louis Paradiso Estate for the beautification and improvement of the park. The Board also:
--voted to advertise for bids for one of the phases of the wastewater treatment project;
--heard Trustee Laurie DeNardo say that the final public workshop of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative is Wednesday, March 7 from 6-8 p.m. at the Community Center.
--heard Mayor Sam Schimizzi say that in addition to his sister Patti, appointed at the last meeting to one of two vacancies on the Watkins Glen Housing Authority Board, a second person is interested in the other vacancy.

Photo: Trustees Laurie DeNardo and Tony Fraboni.

Watkins' Hannah Morse shoots as B-G-s Macie Leizear defends.

Watkins girls fall in title game, 59-48

Top-seeded Bainbridge-Guilford pulled away in the closing minutes of the Section IV, Class C final, ending Watkins Glen's sectional title streak at three. The Senecas, who won last year's state championship, finished this season with a 16-6 record. Sports.

Aaron Planty 26th in the 1600 at States

Watkins Glen High School senior Aaron Planty posted his personal-best time at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Indoor Track Championships, held on Staten Island. Brother Gabe competed in the Intersectional Relay. Sports.


O-M's Tague places 50th at State Meet

Odessa-Montour senior Billy Tague (left) completes his stellar high school swimming career at the New York State Championships at the Nassau County Aquatic Center. For story and photos, see Sports.

Winter in Odessa, looking up toward the tower of the former Baptist Church.

  Power outages strike area; thousands affected

The winter storm that struck the Southern Tier March 2 caused power outages around the area, including more than 3,000 NYSEG customers in Schuyler County, almost one third of the total number of customers here. The total was down to 1,240 by 8 p.m., but some outages lingered for the next two days.


Assembly talk: Safety in age of shootings

The 7th through 12th graders at Watkins Glen High School gather to discuss their fears and ideas in the wake of the attack at a Florida school. Schools.

Left: One of many sheets with ideas from the assembly.


SCOPED holds annual meeting, with students

Schuyler County's Partnership for Economic Development hears reports on tourism-related projects, and a pitch from students for something more. Government.

Left: Schuyler County Planning Director Kristin VanHorn, one of the meeting speakers.

  Donations sought for O-M students' STEM trip

The STEM Group, a Not-for-Profit, is seeking donations to help finance participation by four 8th grade Odessa-Montour students accepted to attend the National Youth Leadership Forum: Explore STEM at Villanova University in June. A letter explaining the situation appears here.

Phish adds WGI to schedule

The rumored return of the rock band Phish to Watkins Glen International has been verified by the band on Facebook and on its schedule -- which lists a three-day Phish Curveball Festival from Aug. 17-19 at WGI. The band played there before in 2011 and 2015, proving a boon to the local economy both times. For details, visit curveball.phish.com


Are WG snow-removal fines in the forecast?

Watkins Glen Trustee Kevin Thornton (pictured at right) said at the Feb. 20 Village Board meeting that the village's method of trying to enforce sidewalk snow removal is "antiquated," and suggested that any residents failing to clear their walkways following snowfalls might instead be fined. The village, he said, currently sends letters to violators that often go unanswered. He said Burdett imposes fines, and that Watkins Glen would be better served doing the same thing. Trustees took no action, but kicked the idea around, with Mayor Sam Schimizzi saying a $10 fine "might freak people out, but it would get their attention." He added: "Whatever the board wants to do, but maybe we can look around at other municipalities" for ideas.


Urged: Inclusion of area lakes on priority list

State Senator Tom O'Mara and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano have urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo to amend his budget proposal to add Seneca, Keuka and Canandaigua lakes to a list of priority lakes considered vulnerable to harmful algal blooms threatening drinking water sources. Government.

Photo at right: Assemblyman Palmesano

O'Mara seeks expanded Student Journalist rights. Schools.

Seeking nominations

State Senator Tom O'Mara is seeking nominations by April 13 for the New York State Senate's Veterans Hall of Fame -- an online tribute to the military and civilian lives of veterans from our region. Government.

  Rotary honors Clark as Student of the Month

Odessa-Montour High School senior Gillian Clark was honored Feb. 15 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its O-M Student of the Month for February. Clark was introduced by teacher Russ Gardner, who described the honoree as "a great student" -- 4th in her class academically -- who volunteers frequently for school and community events, and is a standout three-sport athlete (soccer, basketball and golf, and a two-time Odessa File O-M Athlete of the Year). Clark, who has qualified for States in golf in each of the past four years, cited that sport as her best. She plans to attend college, and is considering the University of Buffalo or Tompkins Cortland Community College.


Mr. Chicken building comes tumbling down

The building that for decades housed the Mr. Chicken restaurant was demolished Tuesday morning, Feb. 13. Some scenes from the ground, and one from the air, are on Business.


At the demolition site.


Humane Society stages Bridal Gown Blowout

More than 150 off-the-rack designer wedding gowns and 200 prom and formal dresses were available for sale at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel Feb. 11 to raise funds to help benefit the Humane Society of Schuyler County and its shelter animals. Features.

  $80 million in projects as Watkins heats up

"Look at the money coming in. It's huge," SCOPED Executive Director Judy Cherry told the Watkins Glen Village Board Feb. 5 as she outlined projects totaling more than $80 million in and near Watkins Glen. Among them, a soon-to-be-built beer and wine production and distribution facility (like at right) in the long-vacant Schuyler County Business Park, and Cargill plant expansion. Government.

  Rotary honors Prien as Student of the Month

Watkins Glen High School senior Jared Prien (right) was honored Feb. 8 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its WG Student of the Month for February. Prien was introduced by English teacher Kelly Muir, who described the honoree as "a kind and generous person" who overcame a difficult circumstance -- the death of his mother and a move here from Illinois in the 10th grade to live with a cousin -- and an extreme distaste for school to become "a tremendous student." He was helped by teachers who saw his potential, she said, and now "gives back" by encouraging and leading other students. A gifted writer, he plans to attend Corning Community College and then a four-year school. While he isn't sure which career path to follow, he said he might become a history teacher, perhaps even at Watkins Glen.

  Palmesano gives State of the State speech

Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (right) was the guest speaker at the Feb. 8 luncheon meeting of the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club at the Watkins Glen Elks Lodge, a session co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters. While attendees expected a State of the State message from Palmesano and State Senator Tom O'Mara, the Assemblyman did solo duty when O'Mara was unable to attend -- stuck in Albany for key meetings, Palmesano explained. Subjects of his talk: the high tax burden in New York State (which he said has helped drive a net total of one million residents out of the state since 2010), budget deliberations, the heroin-opioid crisis ("We have to take an all-hands-on-deck-approach"), and the lack of broadband access in rural areas ("a significant problem" and "a priority issue"). After the luncheon, he met with students at Watkins Glen High School and with a robotics club in the village.

An ice sculpture in the shape of a crane. The sculpture, behind the Harbor Hotel, was sponsored by Silverline Construction.


Ice Bar wraps up its 3-day run at Harbor Hotel

The 7th annual Ice Bar at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel concluded its 3-day 2018 run on Feb. 3, with all sorts of wines and other adult beverages dispensed in the ballroom and through carved ice bars behind the hotel. The event -- sold out Friday and Saturday nights -- raised funds for the Finger Lakes Chapter of the American Red Cross. In the Ice Bar's first six years, $100,000 was donated to the Red Cross through the event.

A total of $25,000 was donated last year alone, and hotel officials said they hoped to raise that amount again, although costs (ice, for instance, runs $20,000) have gone up. Employees of The Ice House in Auburn brought the ice to the hotel Thursday and carved it into various bars and a two-seat throne through the day. About 450 people attended Thursday night, 1,000 people Friday night, and another 1,000 Saturday night.

Photos: Sculpted ice sponsor blocks, and one of the several ice bars that served beverages behind the Harbor Hotel.


Barnes named Vice Chairman of Western OTB

Schuyler County Legislator Phil Barnes -- a member of the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corporation Board of Directors, has been named the board Vice Chairman, succeeding former vice chair Thomas Wamp, who decided to step down. Richard Bianchi continues as board chairman. Said Barnes: "We have some challenges, things to deal with," and said he was looking forward to it. Western Regional Off-Track Betting is a public benefit corporation that is owned by 15 counties and the cities of Buffalo and Rochester. It operates various betting locations and a telephone wagering service in those counties, and owns and operates Batavia Downs Gaming, a racetrack and gaming facility.

Photo at right: Phil Barnes.


Chamber's Winter Gala offers a '20s theme

The annual Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce Winter Gala at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel Jan. 20 drew a crowd enjoying an evening of food, drink, music, auctions and a Great Gatsby theme with Roaring '20s style clothing. People.


Watkins Glen Library has a new Director

Beth Staff has been selected by the Watkins Glen Library Board of Trustees to succeed Sarah Kurcoba as the new Library Director. People.

Left: Beth Staff (Photo provided)

Rotary Club President Rich Greenberger congratulates Trey McCarty on his selection as Rotary Student of the Month.

  Rotary honors McCarty as Student of Month

Odessa-Montour High School senior Trey McCarty was honored Jan. 18 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its O-M Student of the Month for January. McCarty was introduced by teacher and Interact advisor Lynda Kramer, who said the honoree -- a three-sport athlete (soccer, basketball and golf), Student Council secretary and Yearbook treasurer -- is "dependable and diligent" and "cares about his school and community," volunteering "behind the scenes in many ways." He plans to attend SUNY Cortland and study sports management.


Tailor Shop seamstress Marie Maiden dies

Locally known seamstress Marie Maiden has died after operating The Tailor Shop on Main Street in Montour Falls for almost 20 years. An acquaintance said Maiden died last week a day or two after confiding that she was planning to retire. There is no obituary, but family members have issued a memorial note thanking her friends and clients, and concluding: "Mom: We love you so much and will miss you. Earlene, Roger and Dani."

Jill Wendela, with her award, is flanked by Schuyler County Legislature Chairman Dennis Fagan, left, and County Administrator Tim O'Hearn. (Photo provided)


Public Health names Employee of the Year

Schuyler County Public Health has named Jill Wendela as its 2017 Employee of the Year. Wendela, RN, MS, manages Public Health's programs for lead poisoning prevention and immunizations. She also serves as the department's Accreditation Coordinator, and in that role guided Public Health through the process of applying to become a federally accredited health department. Said Public Health Director Marcia Kasprzyk: "Jill Wendela is committed to making sure the department is doing the best it can to improve the health of the community."

Erick Thorpe, left, owner of the Bucket Bar & Grill, is presented the Odessa Citizen of the Year Award by Mayor Keith Pierce.

  Thorpe honored as Odessa Citizen of the Year

Bucket Bar & Grill owner Erick Thorpe was named the Odessa CItizen of the Year for 2017 Jan. 15 at a meeting of the Odessa Village Board. The fifth annual honor, Mayor Keith Pierce said in a prepared statement, was presented for the "tremendous impact" Thorpe and his business have had "on the future and well-being of our village by bringing to us a place to gather, talk to neighbors and just take a few moments to enjoy life." He also cited Thorpe's practice of taking time "to help any and all local causes," including "recently donating all the food for a wounded warriors hunting trip held in Newfield." Pierce said the board wanted "to thank this year's recipient for bringing a sense of community and caring back to Odessa."

Photo in text: Thorpe displays his plaque.

WGHS senior Kaitlyn Valla receives her Student of the Month plaque from Rotary Club President Rich Greenberger.


Rotary honors Valla as Student of the Month; Sweet discusses Havana Stoneware history

Watkins Glen High School senior Kaitlyn Valla was honored Jan. 11 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its WGHS Student of the Month for January. Valla, who plans to pursue a degree in Environmental Engineering and a career that focuses on water quality, was introduced by teacher Karen Armstrong, who praised the honoree's humility and work ethic, and her ability to raise the performance of other students around her who feed off of her efforts.

Valla is a member of Rotary Interact, National Honor Society, Youth Court, Debate Club, History Club, and Yearbook, and competes in powerlifting, soccer and lacrosse -- the latter as goalie on the school's boys team. She plans to attend Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York.

The Rotary program was presented by Al Sweet, an expert on Stoneware of Havana -- Havana being what became Montour Falls in 1894. Sweet outlined the history of such pottery, produced in large quantities in the 19th century but hard to find now. He has written a book on the subject, which is available at the Schuyler County Historical Society Museum.

Photo: Al Sweet with an 1855 piece of Havana Stoneware.


Rehearsals start for 'Hunchback' at WGHS

Rehearsals began Jan. 4 in the Watkins Glen High School auditorium for the March 23-25 WGHS production of the musical "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." Features.

Left: Cast member Kelsey Kernan strikes a pose.

Legislators David Reed, foreground, and Michael Lausell.


Dress code will get closer look by legislators

The Schuyler County Legislature on Jan. 8 withdrew for further discussion a resolution to impose a dress code on county employees. Several of those employees, females and mostly from Child Services, were on hand to object to the code plan for not differentiating between office workers and field workers who often visit challenging terrain in their on-site work. In particular they objected to a ban on sweatshirts or hoodies, and on hats, since they are often practical for field work and, in any event, permitted under the proposed rules for maintenance and highway staff. Said one Social Services worker to legislators: "The problem is you've taken a sledgehammer to this when all you need is thumbtacks." County Administrator Tim O’Hearn expanded on the matter Tuesday, saying a code has been brought up from time to time over the years, that it is supported by the legislators, that “nothing listed as prohibited is unreasonable,” and that the code is not “overly restrictive.” He and Human Resources Director Lorry Johnson will meet soon with union officials, he said, adding: “I’m interested to hear their arguments against it ... I don't know how they'll justify bare midriffs” -- one of the prohibitions.

Photo: County Administrator Tim O'Hearn

Legislators (from right) Van Harp, Jim Howell, David Reed and Michael Lausell are sworn in by County Clerk Theresa Philbin at the Legislature's Organizational Meeting. (Photo provided)

  Fagan re-elected to chairmanship in 7-1 vote

The Schuyler County Legislature held its annual Organizational Meeting Jan. 3rd, a session highlighted by the swearing in of four legislators and the election of longtime Legislature chairman Dennis Fagan to another year in that post. The vote was 7-1, with Michael Lausell voting against Fagan. Sworn in for four-year terms as legislators were incumbents Lausell, Jim Howell and Van Harp, along with District 1 newcomer David M. Reed. For a photo of the full Legislature, see Government.

Photo: Chairman Dennis Fagan.

School Board members Mark Franzese and Gloria Brubaker flank Superintendent Greg Kelahan at Tuesday's session.

School Board meeting summary

The Watkins Glen School Board gathered on Jan. 2 for its first meeting of the new calendar year. To see a summary of that meeting, provided by the School District, click here.

The blaze occurred on New Year's Day. (Photo provided)

  Fire totals unoccupied house on County Rt. 6

Firegfighters were called out at 2:17 p.m. Monday, Jan. 1 to the scene of a house fire near Cayutaville. The structure at 2457 County Route 6 was deemed a total loss. A fire investigator said the cause was believed to be water pipe-affixed electrical heating tape that overheated. The house, owned by a Pennsylvania couple, was not occupied at the time of the fire.

From left: Legislators Jim Howell, Carl Blowers, Michael Lausell and Van Harp at the Dec. 28 session.

  Schuyler Legislature wraps up 2017 business

The Schuyler County Legislature held a 7-minute year-end meeting Thursday morning, Dec. 28 in which: a Local Law was passed setting legislators' salaries at $9,500; Laury Poland and John H. Terry were approved for 3-year appointments to the Industrial Development Agency; and tribute was given to 2017 county retirees, including (among eight) Barbara Halpin, who was attending her final meeting as a legislator. Halpin, who served for 15 years (1991-1997 and 2010-2017), said: "I'll still be around, still doing abstract things." Chairman Dennis Fagan replied: "I'm sure you'll be looking over our shoulder." Answered Halpin: "Oh, I will."

Photo: Barbara Halpin at her final meeting as legislator.

Tractor trailer is hung up at turn onto Owen Place in Odessa.


Truck fails to make turn, shears pole in two

A Nussbaum company tractor trailer failed to make an impossibly sharp and prohibited turn from Cotton Hanlon Road onto Owen Place in Odessa Friday morning, Dec. 22, shearing a power pole in two, knocking down a couple of signs and becoming stuck in a swale and atop concrete barriers alongside the road. The driver, out of the Toledo area, said he missed his turn in Odessa onto the road leading to Parmenter's, for which he was carrying a load of tires. Officials said his GPS then led him to Cotton Hanlon Road and, soon thereafter, to narrow Owen Place, where a right turn is well beyond a 90-degree turn -- inadvisable for a car, let alone a 50-foot tractor trailer. Two wreckers managed to pull the truck back onto the roadway after NYSEG personnel raised the broken pole and its wires clear of the road. The truck driver said he would drop off his load at Parmenter's, secure another load and head home for Christmas.

Photo: A NYSEG worker prepares to move the broken pole.

  Police probe fatal incident in Town of Reading

The Schuyler County Sheriff's Office is investigating a fatal incident that occurred Dec. 19 on State Route 14A in the Town of Reading. Deputies said a caller at 2:46 p.m. reported a man had jumped from a motor vehicle. Preliminary information, deputies added, shows that Erik B. Morse, 47, of Tyrone died "as a result of injuries he sustained in the incident." Assisting at the scene were state police, Schuyler Ambulance and the Watkins Glen and Dundee Fire Departments. No further information was available.

  Beaver Dams woman sentenced to 2 years

Wendy Kennedy, 39, of Beaver Dams -- who was convicted of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine --has been sentenced to 24 months in prison by Chief U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci, Jr. People.


Civic leader, Hall of Famer Peters dies at 77

Former Watkins Glen businessman and civic leader William Henry (Bill) Peters, 77, died Dec. 15 in Venice, Florida, where he had been living in retirement. Peters, a member of the Schuyler County Hall of Fame, moved to Watkins Glen in 1970, where he purchased the E.C. Cooper, Inc. insurance agency. He served on several boards of directors, including the Chamber of Commerce, the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Corporation and Schuyler Hospital. Obituaries.


County taking over operation of Arts Center

Schuyler County -- and specifically County Administrator Tim O'Hearn (left) -- is taking over management of the Watkins Glen Performing Arts center in the old Middle School after termination of an agreement with Eric Hollenbeck -- who has been leasing the facility from the county for several months. Business.

Left: Tim O'Hearn

Dirk Stephens, right, is congratulated by O-M School Board members Jeff Parmenter (left), Will Shrout and Jennifer Mosher.

  Stephens honored for his 16 years of coaching

Dirk Stephens, longtime boys soccer coach at Odessa-Montour High School -- who stepped down at the conclusion of the fall sports season -- was honored at the Dec. 14 School Board meeting for his service to the district. Superintendent Chris Wood presented a plaque (right) that read: "Dirk Stephens: In appreciation of 16 seasons, 124 wins and 2 division titles as boys varsity soccer coach at Odessa-Montour." On the plaque was a photo of one of the coach's title-winning squads. Wood said Stephens took control of a sport "on life support, and brought it back," serving as "a great role model for our kids. We're gonna miss you."

Who was wearing the Ugliest Sweater? Schools.

  Rotary honors Lindsley as Student of Month

Odessa-Montour High School senior Alyssa Lindsley was honored Dec. 14 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its O-M Student of the Month for December. Lindsley was introduced by teacher and cheerleading coach Trina Shepherd, who described the honoree as "a well-rounded student who is very deserving" of the honor. Lindsley, a member of the National Honor Society, has been active in cheerleading, track, high school musicals, and violin and dance lessons. A High Honor Roll student, she "is very polite, respectful and helpful to peers and teachers," said Shepherd. "We at O-M consider it a privilege to know Alyssa." Lindsley thanked her parents and teachers, and said O-M "offers many opportunities." And she said she took to heart words of encouragement from Superintendent Chris Wood: "Make the most of your education."

  2nd public session held on Watkins Glen DRI

The $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant and investments program awarded to the Village of Watkins Glen last summer was the focus Dec. 13 of a second public workshop at the Watkins Glen Community Center. About 100 area residents and officials attended, listened to a summary by state consultants charged with overseeing the DRI process, and visited various stations featuring maps and proposals resulting from the program's Vision Statement, which seeks "to leverage the accessible Seneca Lake waterfront, famous wine trails, vibrant arts scene, internationally recognized racetrack ... and world class State Park for progressive community development ..." The DRI process is about at its midpoint as it seeks to identify and develop grant-worthy plans for submission to the state, which will decide which projects to include.

Photo in text: Ted Marks, left, and Rev. Michael Hartney examine maps at one of the work stations.

Schuyler receives $2.8 million in state grants. Government.

Left: O-M's Rhys Stermer, a member of the Senior High Band. Right: Simon Wigmore, a WG High School Band member, playing bongos to accompany the 7th-8th Grade Chorus.

  WGHS, Odessa-Montour hold Winter Concerts

The two schools conducted their seasonal concerts at the same time Dec. 13 in their respective auditoriums. Each drew a large crowd. Schools.

Barbara Halpin at her last regular monthly Legislature session.

  Halpin lauded as she nears end of final term

Retiring Schuyler County Legislator Barbara Halpin was lauded at the Legislature meeting on Dec. 11, the final regular session of 2017. Halpin has only a year-end morning meeting Dec. 28 before she completes her 15th and final year on the governing body, a career split into two segments -- from 1991 through 1997 and from 2010 through this year. She chose not to seek re-election. Phil Cherry (right), executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schuyler County, presented Halpin with a certificate of thanks from Extension for all the help she has provided that organization over the years. And Legislature Clerk Stacy Husted presented a Certificate of Recognition for Halpin's many years of service and her fiscal acuity. Various members of the Legislature also praised Halpin's tenure and her attention to detail at budget time.

The annual Seneca Santa fundraiser had a festive atmosphere, full of music, conversation (maybe even with a State Senator) and colorful headwear.


Food, drink, music aid Seneca Santa funding

The annual Seneca Santa fundraiser at the Grist Iron Brewing Co. outside Burdett on Dec. 9 raised money for the long-established program that provides Christmas gifts for disavantaged kids 2 to 12 in Schuyler County. Live music, cash donations, and silent and live raffles added to the effort, held for years at Hazlitt's 1852 winery, which still co-sponosrs the event.

Photo above: Brett Beardslee of the group Portajohn Blackout was among the musical enertainment.

WGHS students line a hallway of the First Presbyterian Church in Watkins Glen, moving -- assembly-line style -- packages toward a storage room on the second floor. The packages, for Seneca Santa, were delivered by Hesselson's.

  Students help Seneca Santa offload packages

Forty students from Watkins Glen High School ventured to the First Presbyterian Church at Decatur and Sixth Streets in the village Dec. 7 after school to help offload a truck from Hesselson's store in Elmira Heights that delivered toys and games at cost for the Seneca Santa program. Seneca Santa delivers presents each year to youngsters aged 2-12 from families in need in Schuyler County. The most recent numbers are 282 children from 122 families. The presents are stored, organized and prepared for delivery at the Presbyterian Church. Seneca Santa was formed in the 1940s, started by fire men and women and postal employees who saw the need in the county.

Photo in text: WGHS seniors Makenna Fraboni, left, and Clara Chedzoy were among the student helpers.

Left: The Hesselson's truck is offloaded. Right: Student volunteer Kelsey Kernan carries a box from truck to church.


Rotary honors Dunham as Student of Month

Watkins Glen High School senior Jackson Dunham (left) was honored Dec. 7 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its WGHS Student of the Month for December. Teacher Kelsey Wood described Dunham -- a standout lacrosse player -- as "mature" and "a dedicated, hard working student." He has recently completed his Eagle Scout project -- a flagpole in Burdett -- and said he plans to attend college (first choice: the University of Maryland) to pursue a business degree in marketing or management, and "I'll see where that takes me."


O-M inducts 10 into National Honor Society

The National Honor Society chapter at Odessa-Montour High School has 10 new members -- eight sophomores and two juniors -- following an induction ceremony at the school Wednesday night, Dec. 6. Schools.

Photo: Inductee Tori Reese, an Odessa-Montour junior. (Photo provided)

From left: Diver Maria Brubaker and swimmers Allie Gibson and Amanda Wilbur were honored with their Section IV, Class C championship teammates at the School Board meeting.


Section IV titleists, State competitors honored

The Watkins Glen girls varsity swim team and boys varsity cross country team, both Section IV champions this past fall (the cross country team also finished second at States), were honored with certificates during the Dec. 4 Watkins Glen School Board meeting -- at a ceremony in the school library. Honored too was another States competitor, cross country runner Kai Sutterby (right), who has made a habit of qualifying annually for the tournament.

Swim team honorees: Madeline Williams, Sarah Swinnerton, Jena Slater, Faye Mooney, Jillian Kilcoyne, Allie Gibson, Gabi Decker, Liza Carnes, Maria Brubaker, Amanda Wilbur, Annika Wickham, Maddie Suddaby, Madeline Parker, Madeleine Kilcoyne, Elizabeth Kilcoyne, Isabella Fazzary, Kathleen Clifford, Peighton Cervoni, Jill Cantieni and Lexi Castellaneta.

Cross Country honorees: Steven Gublo, Clint Craven, Conlin Wysocki, Ben Swinnerton, Tanner Ryan, Sam Thorsland, Max Evans, Sean Holland, Aaron Planty, Gabe Planty and Kai Sutterby (pictured above).

For a summary of the School Board meeting, click here.
Kelahan offers data food for thought. Schools.

The Cargill check presentation. (Photo provided)


Cargill donates $7,500 to SWCD for project

Cargill, Inc. has awarded the Schuyler and Chemung County Soil and Water Conservation Districts $7,500 to assist with a unique, state-of-the-art education project that will be utilized throughout the two-county area. Cargill.


Village Christmas float winners announced

The Watkins Glen Village Christmas Committee has announced winners of the Visions of Santa's Workshop parade held during the festival on Dec. 1. The winners included:

--Most Christmas Spirit: Watkins Glen Post Office;
--Best Decorated: Elmira Savings Bank;
--Best Decorated Fire Truck: Beaver Dams Fire Department;
--Judges' Choice: Montour Falls Fire Department.

"This year's parade was a huge success, with our increased number of participants," said Susanne Vedder, committee chair, "and we would like even more next year, when the theme will be Visions of Dr. Seuss."

Photo: Santa and Mrs. Claus in Village Christmas parade.

Frank Steber signs a book for Bonnie Schweizer while Mike Steber, one of Frank's sons, watches.

  Museum open house features Steber signings

The Schuyler County Historical Society held its annual holiday open house Sunday, Dec. 3 at its Brick Tavern Museum in Montour Falls, with its featured attraction a visit by local author Frank Steber. A retired (in 1984) Watkins Glen High School English teacher, Steber, now 96, was selling and signing his three historical novels, Seneca Sunrise, Seneca Dawn and Seneca Hope. He said he is contemplating a fourth, called Seneca Steam, about the steamboat trade on Seneca Lake in the 19th century. There was a steady stream of well-wishers and buyers Sunday, with Steber's first novel, Seneca Sunrise, nearly sold out.

Photo: Frank Steber signing one of his books.


Sunday, Dec. 3 was a calm, reflective day along the canal between Watkins Glen and Montour Falls. The photo above was snapped from the Catharine Valley Trail. (Liz Fraboni photo).

  It was a bright, sunny day in Schuyler County

Sunday, Dec. 3rd was a day made for hiking along the Catharine Valley Trail south of Watkins Glen. lt was sunny and bright, with a hint of warmth in the air, fighting off a light chill wafting down from the north. The photo at right and the one above were snapped on such a hike by Watkins Glen photographer Liz Fraboni.

Casey Max belts out a tune at the Dec. 2 concert.

  Casey Max & the Dixie Kats perform at The W

Casey Max and the Dixie Kats played Dixieland and Christmas music Saturday night, Dec. 2 before an appreciative concert audience in The W -- the auditorium of the former Watkins Glen Middle School. Famous Bands -- a trio of rock musicians featuring brothers Joe and Charlie Silhan and Watkins businessman Jim Guild -- presented several songs as a warmup for the Dixie Cats. The concert was presented by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club.

Photo: From left, Charlie Silhan, Jim Guild and Joe Silhan perform as group called Famous Bands.

  Some scenic photos from Watkins' Liz Fraboni

Watkins Glen resident and photographer Liz Fraboni -- who in past years has contributed hundreds of photos to this website -- returns with some more, this time of Schuyler County and of Maine, where she recently vacationed. Photos.

Seasonal and other crafts were available at the Street of Shops.

  Church hosts annual Street of Shops sale

The Watkins Glen Presbyterian Church held its annual Street of Shops gathering Saturday, Dec. 2 in the church fellowship hall, offering crafts of various kinds for sale, raffle items from area businesses, baked goods and a lunch featuring soup, sandwich, beverage and dessert.

Photo: Baked goods and jams were available at the sale.

The Montour Falls Fire Department featured an antique engine on a float in the Watkins Glen Village Christmas parade.

  Watkins Village Christmas draws a crowd

The 25th annual Watkins Glen Village Christmas held Friday, Dec. 1, featured a large crowd, food vendors, music, craft vendors, fireworks, and a parade sponsored by Visions Federal Credit Union and featuring Santa and Mrs. Claus (right). Features.

2 sentenced in Beaver Dams meth case

Two men convicted in connection with a Beaver Dams methamphetamine ring that operated in three counties were sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Rochester. People.

  Committee extends DRI proposal deadline

The deadline for submitting applications seeking funding under the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative awarded to Watkins Glen by New York State has been extended to Dec. 8. The decision came at a meeting of the Local Planning Committee considering project proposals. Government.

Photo: Committee member Ken Wilson in front of a chart listing some of the 30 project proposals received so far.


Holiday focus turns to Small Businesses

The Small Business Saturday in Schuyler County on Nov. 25 saw a number of holiday-related events, including special sales, wagon rides, face painting, and Santa Claus. Business.

Photo: Remi Frasier, 3, gets a hug from Santa at the 401 Espresso shop in Montour Falls.


Campbell: I won't challenge election result

Joseph Campbell (right), Democratic challenger for the District 2 seat on the Schuyler County Legislature won by incumbent Republican Van Harp by a single vote, 313-312, says he will not challenge the result, although "there was one ballot that could conceivably have been argued in court." His concesson letter appears on the Forum Page.

  Chief to Board: No gas detected at ceremony

Watkins Glen Fire Chief Charlie Smith told the Watkins Glen Village Board Nov. 20 that detectors showed no gas during or after the Veterans Day ceremony at the fire department where three people collapsed. Government.

Dogs and children accompanied runners and walkers along the route. Here are some participants crossing Franklin Street.


Annual Turkey Trot held in Watkins Glen

About 125 people -- and a dozen dogs -- took part Nov. 23, Thanksgiving Day, in the 4th annual Turkey Trot Run/Walk in Watkins Glen. The route ran from 4th and Franklin Streets out to Clute Park, back to Lafayette Park, south on Decatur Street to Fairgrounds Lane, over to Franklin and back to Landon's Pizza and Pub, where everyone had gathered to stay warm before the event. The registration fee: non-perishable food donated for the local food pantry. The sponsor: Exercise Enterprise. Coffee, donuts and prizes were donated by local businesses.

Photo: A crossover at Clute Park; donated food.

  Harp certified as winner in District 2 by 1 vote

Incumbent Republican Legislator Van Harp was certified Nov. 20 by the Schuyler County Board of Elections as the winner of the District 2 race for the Schuyler County Legislature. The margin over Democratic challenger Joseph Campbell was one vote, 313-312. Election Commissioner Joseph Fazzary said that the outcome, while official, could conceivably be challenged through a court-ordered recount. But he doubted one could be obtained, since Campbell sat in on the vote count and the counting of absentee and affidavit ballots without raising an objection to the process. (Addendum the next day: Campbell concedes in letter on the Forum Page.)

Photos in text: Van Harp (left) and Joseph Campbell.

Superintendent Greg Kelahan and School Board President Gloria Brubaker at the Nov. 20 meeting.

  Kelahan cautions: reduced revenue ahead

Watkins Glen School Superintendent Greg Kelahan told the School Board Nov. 20 that "the financial picture is not terribly reassuring" as the federal government moves toward a tax reform package that could negatively affect education financing in New York State. That, with other local tax issues, "indicates less revenue than anticipated ... a bitter pill to swallow" as the board moves into its budget considerations. For a summary of the board's meeting, click here.


Kennedy gets 235 months in meth-ring case

Scott Kennedy, 40, of Beaver Dams, who was convicted of federal drug charges in connection with a methamphetamine ring operating across Schuyler, Chemung and Steuben Counties, was sentenced in federal court Monday to 235 months in prison. People.


Lexi places 10th at NY Diving Championships

Watkins Glen High School senior Lexi Castellaneta finished in 10th place on Nov. 17 at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Diving Championships at Ithaca College. Castellaneta completed her 11 dives with 459.40 points, just 5.70 points from 7th place. She earned a spot on the podium, along with medals. Sports.

Photo: Lexi with her medals.


Bazaars offer crafts, food, holiday cheer

Holiday Bazaars were held Nov. 18 at the Odessa-Catharine United Methodist Church, St. Mary's of the Lake Parish Center and St. James' Episcopal Church's Friendship Hall -- marking the start of the holiday season in Schuyler County. People.

Photo: Santa was available for photos in Odessa.


Rotary honors Kleist as Student of the Month

Odessa-Montour High School senior Erin Kleist (right) was honored Nov. 16 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its O-M Student of the Month for November. Kleist was introduced by O-M counselor Holly McNelis, who described the honoree -- president of the school's National Honor Society and a member of the Interact Club and Student Council -- as "determined to succeed" and "tireless." Among Erin's outside interests: a job at Burger King in Watkins Glen, where she was recently promoted to Team Leader, a management position. She plans to attend college to pursue a career as a veterinarian. Erin, said McNelis, "is a true treasure within the Odessa-Montour family."


Lt. Governor tours Chicone cabinet firm

Kathy Hochul visits Chicone Cabinetmakers' workshop in Montour Falls and views the firm's expansion site, which is being partially funded by a state grant. Business.

Left: New York Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul during her visit.


Legislature OKs budget with no levy increase

Schuyler County's Legislature on Nov. 13 approved a 2018 county budget following a public hearing at the Human Services Complex. The $49.4 million spending plan calls for a reduced tax rate -- from $7.75 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2017 to $7.46 in 2018 -- and for a tax levy identical to that in 2017: $11,058,944. All members present voted for it; Legislator Jim Howell was absent. The vote followed a 40-minute presentation by County Administrator Tim O'Hearn (pictured) regarding the budget.


Lions honor vets from Vietnam Era at dinner

Vietnam Era veterans were feted Nov. 13 by the Watkins-Montour Lions Club at the second annual such dinner at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel. Features.


Photo at left: Children from Watkins Glen Elementary School played a musical role in the ceremony.


Watkins boys finish 2nd at XC State Meet

The Watkins Glen boys varsity cross-country team finished second Nov. 11 behind Mount Academy in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class C State Championship held at Wayne Central School east of Rochester. Mount Academy won with 50 points, while the Senecas -- the state champion last year -- totaled 67 points. Aaron Planty led Watkins Glen, placing 11th. Sports.


Vets honored; event jarred as 3 collapse

Veterans were the focus of speeches at a Veterans Day ceremony Nov. 11 at the Watkins Glen Fire Department, but the event was interrupted when three people there -- two youngsters and a senior citizen -- collapsed and were taken by ambulances to the hospital. People.

Photo above: American Leigon Post 676 Commander Rick Lewis was among the speakers at the Veterans Day ceremony.


Fire destroys home outside village of Burdett

A fire starting at about 4:30 p.m. Nov. 11 destroyed a log-style home on Carpenter Road near the village of Burdett. A black plume could be seen in the distance rising from the structure, which was a total loss. The cause was still under investigation, although one early report attributed the fire to a woodstove. Nobody was home at the time.

The Hepcats are shown performing Saturday night at the Watkins Glen Community Center. An auxiliary generator was on hand for the band's use if the power outage had continued, but the rest of the Community Center would have been lit by candles.


Power outage strikes Glen for over 2 hours

The power was out in Watkins Glen from about 4 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. Nov. 11, adding some stress to a couple of scheduled events: the Hepcats dance at the Watkins Glen Community Center at 7 p.m., and the second night of the Lake Country Players' performance of "Sister Act" at the Watkins Glen High School at 7:30. But power was restored in time for both -- although the turnout at the dance was only about half of what it was last year, according to organizer John King.

Sara Caldwell, left, played Deloris Van Cartier and Lisa McKnight portrayed Mother Superior in "Sister Act."

  'Sister Act' ends its 3-day run at Watkins High

The Lake Country Players' "Sister Act, The Musical"-- which opened Friday night, Nov. 10 -- was presented again Saturday night, Nov. 11 in the Watkins Glen High School Auditorium, and concluded with a third performance Sunday afternoon, Nov. 12. Sara Caldwell portrayed showgirl Deloris Van Cartier, who becomes a protected witness in a convent after seeing a murder, and while there develops the convent choir into a dynamic singing group. Joel Wilbur was the play's director, with choreography by Heather Evans.

Photo in text: Steve Hovis & Stephen Cole in an early scene.

Among the event's record 290 diners were Phil and Judy Cherry.

  November Splendor raises funds for hospital

The annual November Splendor dinner Nov. 10 at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel drew an event record 290 diners who spent thousands of dollars on silent and live auction items. Funds raised were for Schuyler Hospital and the Seneca View Skilled Nursing Facility. The event was presented by the Schuyler Health Foundation and the Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary. Among the silent auction items were trips to San Francisco Wine Country, Alaska, Costa Rica, France, Greek islands, Spain, Tuscany and Ireland.

Photo in text: Josh and Lisa Navone were among the diners.

L to R: Michelle & Tim Benjamin; Wayne & and Heidi Pike.

Left: Matt Hayden served as auctioneer. Right: A one-of-a-kind handcrafted table by Matthew Taylor sold at auction for $500.


BOE gives blessing for scoreboard fund-drive

The Odessa-Montour Board of Education on Nov. 9 gave its approval for a fund drive planned by district resident Jeff Confer (pictured at right at the meeting) to finance the purchase and installation of a $5,000 scoreboard for the school's baseball field. Confer said the recent resurgence of baseball at O-M (which has teamed with Watkins Glen to create the Seneca Indians) merits such a step. Funds will be channeled through the O-M Sports Boosters, who will use the donations to pay for the board when enough money has been collected. Any excess will be applied to the purchase of team equipment.


Our Schuyler Fall MVP, and All-Star teams

Watkins Glen High School soccer standout Hannah Morse is The Odessa File's Schuyler Fall MVP after a remarkable season that saw her team, despite an 0-7 start, reach the postseason Section IV tournament and earn a win in the opening round there. We also unveil our All-Schuyler All-Star teams. Sports.

Right: Hannah Morse

  Rotary honors Hayes as WG Student of Month

Watkins Glen High School senior Meghan Hayes (pictured at right) was honored Nov. 9 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its WGHS Student of the Month for November. Hayes was introduced by teacher and coach Chris Clark, who described the honoree as "an extremely organized person" who ranks third in her class academically. She has been a member of the school's varsity golf team since 7th grade, a member of the varsity soccer team since 10th grade, and is a member of National Honor Society, the Rotary Interact Club, Music Club, the Yearbook, and Youth Court. She is also involved in her church youth group and officiates CVSA Soccer. She plans to attend college and undertake Physician Assistant studies.

Mariah Gonzalez signs a Letter of Intent and a Financial Aid Agreement providing a full scholarship to the University of New Hampshire. Her mother Michelle Simiele is at right.

  Gonzalez signs Letter of Intent to play at UNH

Mariah Gonzalez, a member of the 2016-17 New York State Class C champion basketball team from Watkins Glen High School -- and now, in her senior year, a student-athlete at Elmira High School -- signed a National Letter of Intent Nov. 8 to attend and play basketball at the Division 1 University of New Hampshire. Gonzalez will receive a full scholarship to play for the Wildcats. She thanked the coaches in her life, her family, and in particular her mother -- seated next to her at the ceremony -- who she called "my biggest critic and my Number One fan." The estimated 70 people on hand for the ceremony at the Seneca Harbor Station Restaurant in Watkins Glen were then treated to a free buffet meal.

Photos: Three of Mariah's teammates (from left: Hannah Morse, Emmie Bond and Taylor Kelly) from the WGHS state championship basketball team were among those on hand for the ceremony; at right, the celebratory cake.

Legislators Van Harp, left, and Jim Howell.


Howell, Reed win seats; Harp in close battle

Incumbent Schuyler County Legislator Van Harp narrowly led Tuesday night, Nov. 7 in his bid for re-election to his second 4-year term, topping challenger Joseph Campbell 295-291 in District 2. Steven Crout was third with 122 votes. Harp is a Republican, Campbell a Democrat. Absentee ballots were yet to be counted. (The race days later tightened, with absentee and affidavit votes counted, down to a one-vote lead for Harp, 313-312. That count was certified on Nov. 20.)

Incumbent Legislator Jim Howell won re-election easily in District 4, outpolling challenger Richard Ballard 366-123. Howell is a Republican; Ballard a Democrat.

In District 1, the race to succeed retiring Legislator Barb Halpin went to Republican David M. Reed (pictured at right), who defeated Democrat John Van Soest 279-215.

In the Town of Hector race for three Council seats in a six-person field, Democrats Jessica Rodgers (881), Liz Martin (831) and Bob Barton (820) won, defeating Republicans Michael J. Bergen (810), Robert Landon (787) and Gretta Zafonte (727).

In the race for Town Clerk/Tax Collector in the Town of Dix, Helen Teed (D, pictured at right) defeated James A. McMahon (R) 386-249.

In the Town of Orange contest for Town Clerk/Tax Collector, Republican Thomas G. Peer defeated Democrat Caitlyn Roser 243-72. In the race for a seat on the Town Council, Susan R. Allen (R) defeated Carol Rhoades (D) 192-100. In the contest for Highway Superintendent, Jeremy Abbey (D, R) defeated Jeffrey L. Sutton (Listening Party) 204-122.

In the Town of Tyrone race for two council seats, Joe T. Sevier (R) led with 212 votes, followed by Troy W. Eyer with 209. They defeated Kerri S. Bartlett (D) with 186, and Christopher W. Bason with 182.


Watkins Glen schools eye safety measures

The Watkins Glen School Board on Nov. 6 heard recommendations from Elementary School Principal Rebecca Trank and High School Principal Kai D'Alleva (both pictured at right) regarding safety in the schools -- a subject that has grown in prominence thanks to repeated violence in school and church settings around the U.S. One key recommendation, expected to be acted upon in the near future: employment of a security officer (or two part-timers), in addition to the School Resource Officer, to add what Superintendent Greg Kelahan said would be "another level of authority," something he called "very attractive to me."

Also discussed: sports enrollment, in particular boys swimming (with just five sign-ups and a new coach); and wrestling (11 signups but only six with completed physicals). Bowling, indoor track and basketball have plenty of participants.

For school district meeting summary, click here.


Glen girls swim team wins sectional crown

The Senecas take the Class C championship as well as two individual titles.

Story on Sports.

Left: Watkins' Amanda Wilbur, the 200 IM champion.

Glen committee seeks DRI project proposals

The Watkins Glen Local Planning Committee (LPC) is seeking proposals for private projects to be considered for the Downtown Revitalization Initiative funding -- the $10 million awarded to the village by New York State. Government.


Readers say Jerlando's has Best Upstate Pizza

Jerlando's Ristorante & Pizza Co. in Watkins Glen has won the Readers' Choice award for Upstate New York's Best Pizza in a contest run by NewYorkUpstate.com. The Judges' Choice award went to O'Scugnizzo Pizzeria in Utica. The Readers' Choice award was determined by online voting, while a team of judges visited the six finalists chosen in semifinal voting. Jerlando's easily outdistanced the competition in the online vote, garnering 50.26% of the ballots. O'Scugnizzo Pizzeria was second with 18.03%.

Ag plastic container recycling set

The Schuyler County Soil and Water Conservation District is once again working with USAg Recycling Inc. to offer local agricultural producers an environmentally “green,” convenient option for disposing of their empty agricultural plastic containers for the 2017 crop season. See Containers.


Rotary honors Perraut as Student of the Month

Odessa-Montour High School senior Hailey Perraut (right) was honored Oct. 26 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its O-M Student of the Month for October. She was introduced by O-M Superintendent Chris Wood, who described her as "an incredibly well-rounded individual taking an intense course load" while ranking No. 2 in her class academically. She is President of O-M's Rotary Interact Club; a 4-year varsity soccer player and a 5-year member of the school's track team; a member of Student Council and of the Superintendent's Advisory Group; a scorekeeper during basketball season; a photographer for the Yearbook and, on occasion, for The Odessa File; and a tutor for underclassmen. She also creates pottery. "She is very mature and highly motivated," said Wood, noting that Perraut hopes to attend the University of Rochester and major in engineering. "She is a great student and a great person," he added. "She is both outgoing and a quiet leader. She will be incredibly successful in whatever she does because of who she is."

Schuyler County Legislature candidates in District 2: from left, Steven Crout, incumbent Van Harp, and Joseph Campbell.


County office candidates field forum questions

The candidates for county-level offices took the stage at the Schuyler County League of Women Voters Meet the Candidates forum Wednesday evening, Oct. 25 in the Watkins Glen Elementary School auditorium. Government.

Participating in the ribbon-cutting ceremony were, from left: Schuyler County Legislature Chair Dennis Fagan, Arc of Schuyler Board President Harold (Jay) Hoffmeier, Schuyler County Office for the Aging Director Tamre Waite, County Administrator Tim O'Hearn, Watkins Glen Mayor Sam Schimizzi, Office for the Aging Nutrition Coordinator Roxanne Stanko; Watkins Glen Village Board member Kevin Thornton, and Chamber of Commerce Tourism and Marketing Director Brittany Gibson.


Congregate meal site opens at former school

The Watkins Glen School Apartments building is home to a new congregate meal site provided by the Schuyler County Office for the Aging. Arc of Schuyler workers will operate the site, which officially opened Oct. 20 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony led by the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce. The site, located in the first-floor community room of the Apartments building (the former and renovated Watkins Glen Middle School), will provide meals and social interaction from noon to 1:30 p.m. Fridays.


Tax rate down, levy flat in county budget plan

The Schuyler County Legislature will hold a public hearing on the proposed 2018 county budget at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 13 in Room 120 of the Human Services Complex in Montour Falls. The $49,410,000 spending plan calls for a reduced tax rate -- from $7.75 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2017 to $7.46 in 2018, and for a tax levy identical to that in 2017: $11,058,944. County Administrator Tim O'Hearn (inset) attributed the absence of a tax hike to sales-tax growth and revenue-generators such as a partnership in which BOCES is paying the county to handle purchasing functions. A vote on the budget is expected to follow the hearing as the Legislature conducts its regular monthly meeting.


Glen meeting focus: Downtown Revitalization

More than 120 people attended a community session on the Downtown Revitalization Initiative -- which is providing Watkins Glen with $10 million in state funds and investments. Government.

Right: A Post-It note in answer to a proposal to enhance, under the Initiative, the downtown with murals.


Shortcuts: A history of ferries on Seneca Lake

Local historian Gary Emerson revisits a time when ferries were an important part of Seneca Lake traffic. This was an article that first appeared in the Schuyler County Historical Journal. It is the second in a series of articles that we are re-publishing. History.


Appeals Court rules in Schuyler abuse case

The New York State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division has issued a decision largely upholding a Schuyler County Family Court order that found two local children to be neglected and abused. People.

WG State Park vies for Best NY Attraction

The Watkins Glen State Park is on a list of nominees for Best New York Attraction in a contest being run by USA Today. Business.

  Watkins school enrollment rises for a change

Watkins Glen School Superintendent Greg Kelahan (right) reported to the School Board on Oct. 16 that for the first time in years, the district enrollment has shown an increase instead of a drop, rising by 14 students to 1,098. He termed it "terrific news," and said "reversing the trend of reduction ... means we have a product that people want."

Another subject: safety. Kelahan and other administrators touched on state-mandated drills, cybersecurity, and the matter of seniors and National Honor Society juniors leaving campus for lunch -- something on which Kelahan said he was taking no position. But he added that some districts don't permit such a practice -- during which school officials lose sight of the students in their charge. "I'm just sharing it with you; something for us to consider," he said.

For a meeting summary, click here.


Jeff Kellogg thanks 'Community of Heroes'

Watkins Glen High School graduate Jeff Kellogg has written what he describes as "a bit of a reflection given the 10-year-anniversary of my accident (a broken neck and spinal cord injury) and the important role the community played in my recovery." People.

Bob and Dee performed live at the Spirit of Schuyler Gathering.


SOS raises funds at its annual Gathering

The Spirit of Schuyler, a non-profit organization that provides emergency financial assistance to county residents in need, drew hundreds of people to its annual fund-raising Gathering Oct. 14 at the Hidden Valley 4-H Camp Lodge. The event, with plenty of food from local restaurants and volunteer chefs, also featured basket raffles, a gun raffle, silent auctions, live music by Bob and Dee, and prizes including a flat-screen TV. All proceeds raised will go to benefit the efforts of the Spirit of Schuyler.

Photo in text: Tony & Harriett Vickio, the Gathering's hosts.

  Odessa awarded $691,000 wastewater grant

The Village of Odessa will receive a $691,000 New York State Environmental Faciilties Corp. grant toward a $2,875,000 Main Street Corridor wastewater treatment plant project. Mayor Keith Pierce termed the grant "huge" and "the next hurdle cleared" in a sewer-system project in the planning stages for the past couple of years. "This was the biggest chunk needed" to reduce the cost and bring residents' monthly payments down, he said, noting that other grants are being pursued. "Now we'll go back and see if we still have the no-interest loan approved two years ago by the EFC." The Main Street Corridor project would include properties along the village's Main Street and the Odessa-Montour Central School. The plant would be near the west end of the village. The village currently relies on septic systems.

  Memorial service honors '92 murder victims

More than 100 people gathered Oct. 13 in front of the Schuyler County Court House for a public memorial service honoring the four Schuyler County employees murdered on Oct. 15, 1992 while working at the County Office Building.

The ceremony remembered and celebrated the lives of Florence Pike, Phyllis Caslin, Nancy Wheeler and Denise VanAmburg 25 years after their deaths.

Speakers were retired Schuyler County Sheriff Michael J. Maloney and State Senator Tom O’Mara.

Maloney spoke at length, detailing "the worst day of my life" -- when he lost "friends of mine" killed in their offices by a man named John Miller. Security at the county building was not as stringent as it is today. But said Maloney: "All the security in the world is nice, but if someone wants to hurt someone, they're going to do it ... Nothing is going to prevent a madman from doing bad things to good people."

Photo in text: Retired Sheriff Michael Maloney at the service.


Rotary's WG Student of Month: Kayla Smith

Watkins Glen High School senior Kayla Smith was honored Oct. 12th by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its WGHS Student of the Month for October. Smith was introduced by teacher Kaz Popovich, who described the honoree as a self-motivated and organized person with a strong work ethic who has served as a teaching assistant in Popovich's business class this year and last, taking over the class on occasion. A member of National Honor Society and the Business Honor Society, Smith plans to attend Corning Community College in its nursing program, and said she will probably pursue further education in the health-care field.

Photo in text: Kayla Smith is congratulated by Rotary Club President Rich Greenberger.

A bonfire was the highlight of Homecoming festivities Friday night, Oct. 13 at Watkins Glen High School. A parade is set for 3 p.m. Saturday from Lafayette Park to the school, followed by a 3:30 p.m. tailgate party, the Homecoming game (against Lansing) at 7, and a Homecoming Dance from 9-11 p.m.

Left: A youngster tries on fire gear as part of the open house.
Right: Fire truck rides were popular during the open house.

  Firefighters host fire-prevention open house

The Watkins Glen Fire Department, as part of Fire Prevention Week, held a Fire Prevention Open House Tuesday evening, Oct. 10 at the fire hall. Sparky the Fire Prevention Dog was on hand, along with a Smoke House, Rope Repelling, live fire extinguishing, and fire truck rides. Hot dogs were also available.

Copies of Barb Warner Deane's novels, on display at the library.


Deane signs her books, speaks at museum

Author Barb Warner Deane of Elmhurst, IL, who grew up in Schuyler County and graduated from Watkins Glen High School, was selling and signing copies of her novels "On the Homefront" and "Killing Her Softly" Oct. 7 at the Watkins Glen Public Library. She later discussed "Women of WW II" at the Schuyler County Historical Society's Brick Tavern Museum. Her "Homefront" book is a World War II historical novel, while "Killing Her Softly" is a contemporary romantic suspense novel.

Photo: Barb Warner Deane at the Watkins library.

The band Black Diamond Express performed at the festival.


Annual Falls Harvest Festival held in Montour

The 11th annual Falls Harvest Festival -- featuring vendors, kids' games, a chicken barbecue, alpacas, crafts, a reading tent, live music and a fireworks display -- was held Oct. 7 at the carnival grounds off Rt. 224 in Montour Falls, a change from its traditional Main Street locale. Organizers reported a steady turnout on a day in which the rain held off -- unlike last year, when it poured.

Photo: An alpaca from Owl Ridge Alpacas, Interlaken.

Watkins Glen School Superintendent Greg Kelahan is spearheading a drive to formalize the district's vision, incorporating Ingenuity, Achievement, Perseverance, Dignity and Synergy. He said 10 different mission statements have been suggested. A goal likely to be incorporated, the School Board indicated at its meeting, is the preparation of students "for an ever-changing world." Further input is being sought before a final draft is created.


School Board reduces out-of-district tuition

The Watkins Glen School Board on Oct. 2 approved a reduction in the annual tuition charged to Watkins Glen students who live outside the district, cutting it from $7,000-plus for secondary school enrollees down to $3,000, and reducing the elementary-school rate of $2,500 to a new rate of $1,500. The issue was raised by Board President Gloria Brubaker (pictured), who said the old rate, the maximum allowed under State guidelines, was too high. Board member Kristin Hazlitt suggested, too, that it was unwise to effectively be turning people away in a period of declining enrollment. The new rate runs retroactively from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018. Any seniors who moved from the district after July 1 but are still attending Watkins Glen High School in their final year can do so without charge, although the tuition will apply to younger siblings. The board will revisit the tuition issue near the end of the school year, but both Brubaker and Hazlitt doubted another change would be forthcoming so soon.


Blue-green algae blooms identified on lakes

Schuyler County Public Health is warning the community that harmful blue-green algae blooms have been identified on the east side of Seneca Lake and on Waneta Lake. Contact can result in health issues. Government.


Watkins Best Western plan is 'dead in water'

The plan for a three-story Best Western hotel proposed on land currently occupied by the Seneca Clipper Inn in Watkins Glen is “dead in the water, for lack of a better term,” says Code Enforcement Officer Greg Larnard. Government.

Photo: Greg Larnard

Members of the Hoffman family of the Town of Catharine are this year's leaders of the annual United Way of Schuyler County campaign, which seeks to raise $123,000 for 22 agencies. Ron and Carmella Hoffman are fourth-generation operators of a dairy farm at Catharine Corners, where the clan lives.


United Way sets goal, names Bailey winner

The United Way of Schuyler County held its annual luncheon Sept. 20 at the Montour Moose Lodge -- a gathering of its board members and of representatives from the 22 agencies it serves. The luncheon marks the start of the United Way fund drive ($123,000), and introduces the campaign chair -- which this year is the entire Hoffman clan led by matriarch Carmella and patriarch Ron. The annual Kickoff Pasta and Meatball dinner is set for Monday, Oct. 9 at the Moose Lodge, with serving starting at 5 p.m.

Photo: Sherry O'Neill, left, who has long represented Cargill for the United Way and who has served on the United Way Board, was named winner Sept. 20 of the annual Marie Bailey Volunteer of the Year Award by United Way Executive Director Peggy Scott (right).

Watkins-Montour Rotary Club President Rich Greenberger and Odessa-Montour exchange student Beatriz Silva of Brazil hold a Brazilian flag presented by Silva to the club at its weekly luncheon meeting Thursday.

  Rotary honors Robinson as Student of Month

Odessa-Montour High School senior Nakiaha Robinson was honored Thursday, Sept. 21 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its O-M Student of the Month for September. She was introduced by O-M Superintendent Chris Wood, who described Robinson as "one of the most amazing individuals that I have ever presented at Rotary." She is a member of the National Honor Society and Rotary Interact, president of the Student Council, the school's Homecoming Queen, a 5-year varsity basketball player and recipient of various awards, including the Susan Award presented by this website annually for Sportsmanship. She is ranked 8th in her class.

Photo at right: Nakiaha Robinson at Rotary.


Bond hike, ZBA resignations highlight session

The Watkins Glen Village Board on Sept. 18 approved a motion to increase by $3 million the amount permitted under the bonding resolution for the upcoming water treatment plant, and accepted the resignation of two members of the Zoning Board of Appeals. Government.

Photo: Village Baord member Tony Fraboni.

  Rotary honors Ryan as Student of the Month

Watkins Glen High School senior Tanner Ryan (right) was honored Sept. 14 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its WGHS Student of the Month for September. He was introduced by teacher Alex Richmond, who described Ryan -- a member of the school's defending state champion cross country team -- as "an exemplary young man with a commendable devotion to both character and academics." The honoree, Richmond added, is "a capable leader" who "shines brighter than most" students academically at school, but is "far more than grades and awards. Indeed, his character is second to none." Ryan thanked his parents and teachers, and said he plans to attend college in an engineering program and "hopefully continue this trend of success in life."


County rebounds from a malware attack

Schuyler County was looking to return to full functionality Sept. 18, nearly two weeks after its computer system was compromised by what County Administrator Tim O’Hearn (pictured at right) said was a “brute force” malware attack that threw the county's workers back to a paper recording and filing system. Government.

Jerlando's Pizzeria and Ristorante's Bill Tague and his daughter Emerie, 4, celebrate the eatery's anniversary milestone.


Celebration marks Jerlando's 20th anniversary

Family and friends gathered Sept. 13 at Jerlando's Pizzeria and Ristorante at the corner of 4th and Franklin Streets in Watkins Glen to celebrate the 20th anniversary milestone of the eatery. Bill and Serafina Tague own and operate the establishment after partnering with Serafina's father, Sal Purpura, until Sal's retirement in 2015. The Tagues' three children were on hand, too: Billy, 17; Syria, 16, and Emerie, 4. Representatives from the offices of Congressman Tom Reed and State Senator Tom O'Mara (also representing Assemblyman Phil Palmesano) delivered written proclamations to the Tagues on their milestone. Said Bill: "We look forward to providing a unique dining experience for many years to come."

Photo from left: Bill Tague, daughter Emerie, Sharon Murphy from Congressman Reed's office, and Serafina Tague with the proclamation presented by Murphy.

A story preceding the celebration appeared on Business.

Home destroyed by fire along Rte. 13

An electrical fire destroyed a home Sept. 18th on Route 13 near the Chemung County line. The trailer home belonging to Chad and Marcia Nelson was "a 100% loss" according to fire officials. The fire was called in at 7:59 a.m. Odessa, Montour Falls, Newfield, Mecklenburg, Town & Country, Horseheads, Community Fire (Van Etten) and Millport firefighters were at the scene, with Burdett on standby at the Odessa department. The home, consisting of a central trailer and several add-ons, was insured. Nobody was home at the time of the blaze.


Annual Grand Prix Festival draws car lovers

The 2017 Watkins Glen Grand Prix Festival took to the streets of the village Sept. 8, with vintage cars from far and wide part of the event. Franklin Street from 2nd to 10th Streets was closed from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Among the day's many features: "The Legends Speak," a gathering at Lafayette Park honoring racer Otto Linton, who has reached 100 years of age. Features.

Photo: Two men watch a classic car pass by on Franklin St.


Shortcuts: A history of ferries on Seneca Lake

Local historian Gary Emerson revisits a time when ferries were an important part of Seneca Lake traffic. This was an article that first appeared in the Schuyler County Historical Journal. It is the second in a series of articles that we are re-publishing. History.

Members of the Hackers & Wackers golf tournament committee. Front from left: Lynn Cacciotti, Mike Learn and Aimee Churchill. Back from left: Sarah Matthews, Esther Heichel and chair John Franzese. (Photo provided)


Golf tourney raises $6,000 for United Way

The annual Hackers & Wackers Golf Tournament held Sept. 1st at the Watkins Glen Golf Course raised more than $6,000 to help the United Way of Schuyler County in its effort to provide funding for 22 area health and human services agencies. See letter on Forum.

Mario Andretti, center, receives the Argetsinger Award from Peter Argetsinger, left, and Bobby Rahal, chairman of the International Motor Racing Research Center's Governing Council. (Photo by Angelo Lisuzzo)


Andretti receives Cameron Argetsinger Award

Racing icon Mario Andretti was honored Aug. 31 with the fourth annual Cameron R. Argetsinger Award for Outstanding Contributions to Motorsports by the International Motor Racing Research Center. The dinner ceremony was held at the Corning Museum of Glass. Features.


Mario Andretti Day observed in Watkins Glen

Under proclamation of the Watkins Glen Village Board, Thursday, Aug. 31 was Mario Andretti Day in the village. That was the day that Andretti, the famed racecar driver who competed in six different series at The Glen, was honored by the International Motor Racing Research Center with the annual Cameron R. Argetsinger Award for Outstanding Contributions to Motorsports. The award was presented at a dinner at the Corning Museum of Glass.

Photo: Mario Andretti (Photo provided)


Scouts recondition horseshoe pits at park

Members of Boy Scout Troop 50 have reconditioned a dozen horseshoe pits at Catharine Park near Odessa and added four pits outside the Odessa Fire Department as part of a community service project. They hope the work increases use of "this underrated local park." People.

Photo: One of the park's reconditioned pits.

Near the south end of Seneca Lake on August 17.


A placid sight on Seneca Lake in the morning

These photos were snapped by Leo Kawczenski of Hector on his way to work at about 7:15 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 17 at the south end of Seneca Lake in Watkins Glen, and passed along by Tony Fraboni, who noted that while he had no information on the origin of the balloon, "when I came in about 10 minutes later, it was above Cass Road heading east."

Photos by Leo Kawczenski


Marie Fitzsimmons reports from Rwanda

Retired Watkins Glen High School teacher Marie Fitzsimmons and her husband Kirk Peters are serving with the Peace Corps in Rwanda. Marie reports on her first three months there. Rwanda.

Photo: Marie Fitzsimmons in Rwanda


Schuyler Transit plans bus to Tompkins

Beginning Aug. 28th, Schuyler County Transit will offer a new Monday through Friday public transit service to Tompkins County -- connecting people in Schuyler to Cayuga Medical Center and to TCAT routes that stop at Ithaca's downtown transit hub and at Cornell University. People.

Boats gathered offshore for the festival. (Photo by Liz Fraboni)


Italian American Festival ends its 3-day run

The annual three-day Schuyler County Italian American Festival drew to a close Sunday, Aug. 13. The festival, highlighted by a parade at noon Saturday and by fireworks Saturday night, finished up Sunday with a sauce-making competition, live entertainment by the Rusted Bucks Band, bingo, rides, games, vendor tents, and judging for the second annual Kenny Larson Memorial Motorcycle Show held in conjunction with the Spirit of Schuyler Motorcyle Ride. For photos from Saturday's parade and from both Friday and Sunday, see Features.

Photo: Members of the Montour Falls Fire Department march in the parade. (Photo by Lisa Harer)


1 dead in boating accident on Waneta Lake

A 17-year-old Rochester youth died Thursday night, Aug. 10 in a boating accident on Waneta Lake. The Schuyler County Sheriff's office said that Owen L. Thomas fell overboard shortly after 8 p.m., and was pronounced dead at the scene. Two other people on board were treated at Soldiers and Sailors Hospital in Penn Yan. The cause is still under investigation by the Sheriff's Office, assisted by the New York State Marine Services Bureau.


Legacy Lane dedicated at Lafayette Park

The new Schuyler County Legacy Lane in Watkins Glen's Lafayette Park, a project of the Schuyler County Italian-American Festival, was dedicated in a ceremony Monday evening, Aug. 7. The dedication kicked off the Festival, which will run Aug. 11-13 at Clute Park, along Route 414 in Watkins Glen. The Legacy Lane dedication included remarks by Mayor Sam Schimizzi, along with other community leaders. Features.

Photo at right: Louis Perazzini, Co-Chairman of the Italian-Amerian Festival, was among the dedication speakers.


Watkins Glen School Board meeting summary

The Watkins Glen Board of Education met Aug. 7, and among other things named a new music teacher and a new varsity volleyball coach. For a summary provided by the school district, click here.


Truex Jr. wins Watkins Glen NASCAR race

Martin Truex Jr. held off Matt Kenseth down the stretch to win the I Love New York 355 at The Glen NASCAR race Aug. 6 at the Watkins Glen International racetrack. Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney both pitted for gas in the race's final laps, helping to set up the tight Truex-Kenseth finish. It was the first NASCAR career win at WGI for Truex, who leads the NASCAR Cup standings. Daniel Suarez finished third in Sunday's race, with Denny Hamlin fourth and Clint Bowyer fifth.

Kristin VanHorn, left, Director of Planning for Schuyler County, and Judy McKinney Cherry, executive director of SCOPED, with the $10 million Watkins Glen prize. (Photo by Holly Baker)


Watkins Glen wins $10 million in DRI funding

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (right) announced Thursday morning, Aug. 3 at the Watkins Glen International racetrack that the Village of Watkins Glen -- one of three finalists -- has been selected to receive $10 million in Downtown Revitalization Initiative funds. Watkins is the winner in one of the 10 regions in the state in which a total of $100 million is being awarded. Watkins Glen -- along with finalists Ithaca and Endicott in this region -- presented its case before a panel of judges at a recent gathering at Cornell University. Government.


Watkins 3rd in Best Waterfront Hotels contest

The USA Today 10Best Readers Choice poll for Best Waterfront Hotel across the U.S. found the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel finishing third, only behind the Acqualina Resort & Spa of Sunny Isles Beach, Fla., and the Lake Pointe Inn of McHenry, Md. The results, announced Aug. 4th, listed 10 "waterfront properties" that "set the scene for a memorable and relaxing vacation." There were 20 finalists. Results.


Column examines "The impact of insects"

"It’s hard not to be scared of insects. Many fly and buzz around us, just out of reach, reminding us of the times they hurt or annoyed us in the past. But not all insects are out to get us. In reality, these small creatures do much more good than harm." So starts a column by Danielle Wolleman. To reach it, click here.


Craig wins big at AAU Jr. Olympics swimming

Molly Craig (right), a 2017 Elmira Notre Dame graduate and a member of The Odessa File-sponsored 2017 Top Drawer 24 team of outstanding student-athletes in our area, won nine of the 10 individual 15- to 18-year-old swim events in which she was entered at the AAU Junior Olympics in Michigan from July 27-30, and was on the winning team in all four relays. Her sister Catherine also competed, as did Watkins Glen freshman Amanda Wilbur. Sports.


Driver promotes seat-belt use in Schuyler

NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Ross Chastain and his No. 4 Xfinity Series “Protect your Melon” race car were at the Human Services Complex in Montour Falls on Tuesday, August 1st from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and at the Watkins Glen State Park Pavilion on Wednesday, August 2, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. promoting seat belt use.

The events were co-sponsored by the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee and the Schuyler County Office for the Aging. Government.

Kennels owner Laurie VanWormer and her husband Clinton cut the ribbon as Schuyler County Administrator Tim O'Hearn and Chamber of Commerce President Rebekah Carroll observe.


Ribbon cut at Lake Country Kennels ceremony

Lake Country Kennels, which opened for business in December at 1811 Baker Hill Road, Watkins Glen, celebrated its startup with a ribbon-cutting Friday, July 28 at the facility. The Kennels is a small animal boarding faclity surrounded by a 22-acre farm. The new building contains 20 indoor kennels, each with an indoor climate-controlled run area. and there is an adjacent outside, contained area for socialization of the Kennel "guests." For more information, visit www.lakecountrykennel.com


Annual Hector Fair ends its three-day run

The annual Hector Fair -- highlighted Friday evening by a parade marching up Rte. 414 on the second day of the three-day event -- wrapped up with a full day Saturday July 29. The Friday parade featured fire departments, police, floats, and live music. Saturday offered games, rides, a book tent, music, food and fireworks. (For a look at the parade, see Features.)

Photo: The Rasta Ranch Winery was among the parade participants. (Photo by Liz Fraboni)

Congressman Tom Reed and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand at a Clute Park news conference on Monday, July 24.


Reed, Gillibrand announce push to designate Finger Lakes Region a National Heritage Area

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Tom Reed visited Clute Park in Watkins Glen Monday afternoon, July 24 to announce legislation to authorize the National Parks Service to take the first step toward making the 14-county Finger Lakes Region a National Heritage Area. That would include a feasibility study in Cayuga, Chemung, Cortland, Livngston, Monroe, Onondaga, Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, Wayne and Yates counties. According to Gillibrand, such a designation "would help boost local tourism and conserve and protect the region's natural, historic and cultural resources." She told a gathering of dignitaries at Clute that the legislation will be attached to another bill soon and will hopefully gain passage by the end of the year.

Photo in text: Gillibrand autographs a Clute attendee's copy of a book the Senator wrote, Off The Sidelines: Speak Up, Be Fearless and Change Your World.


Annual Cheese Fest draws thousands to farm

The annual Finger Lakes Cheese Festival attracted thousands of people Saturday to the Hoffman Farm at Catharine Corners, where wine tastings, hayrides, animals (inset), live music and dozens of vendors awaited. Features.


'Rock of Ages' musical ends its three-day run

Dream Barn Productions presented "Rock of Ages," a musical, in four performances on July 28, 29 and 30 at its building at 4991 County Road 14, outside Odessa. A cast of 16 -- eight young men and eight young women -- told the tale of the big, bad 1980s in Hollywood, where the party raged hard. The show was sold out, with a waiting list. For a cast list, see People.


Boil Water Notice lifted in Village of Odessa

A Boil Water Notice issued July 20 in Odessa for homes from 207 to 523 Speedway and along all of Mitchell Hollow was lifted Tuesday, July 25. The order had been issued while the village was "in the process of repairing" a valve broken during routine water-main flushing. "When water mains lose pressure, it increases the chance that untreated water and harmful microbes can enter your water," the Notice had explained when it was issued.


About those bees, moths, flies and beetles

"Bees, moths, flies, and beetles are just some of many insects who are responsible for pollinating various plants in our backyards," writes Cooperative Extension's Danielle Wolleman, adding: "Instead of exterminating the bugs, you can support these beneficial creatures in simple ways." Column.


Schuyler Hospital awarded $10.3 million grant

Schuyler Hospital will be receiving $10,304,060 in grant funding from the New York State Health Care Facility Transformation Program toward construction of a new medical office building attached to the hospital and for renovation and modernization of the hospital's Medical/Surgical inpatient unit. Business.


WGI wins 'Best NASCAR track' title again

Watkins Glen International, adjudged America's best NASCAR track in a USA Today poll two years ago, won again July 21 with announcement that it finished atop this year's poll, which concluded earlier this week. There were 20 finalists.

Said State Senator Tom O'Mara and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano in a press release: "Thanks to everyone who took a turn at the wheel and kept voting, day after day, to support WGI. It's a well-deserved national honor."

Meanwhile, the annual Finger Lakes Wine Festival recently held at WGI -- adjudged the best wine festival in America last year -- is in the running again this year. Click here.

In addition, the Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard in Dundee is in the running for the USA Today's Favorite Tasting Room (here), while the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel is competing for the USA Today Favorite Waterfront Hotel (here).


Rt. 14 project through Watkins Glen outlined

The New York State Department of Transportation will repave Rt. 14 through Watkins Glen in 2018, as well as replace sidewalks and provide other improvements. A pair of informational meetings at the Watkins Glen Village Hall outlined the plans. Government.

From left: Sam Norton, Bob Briggs and Megan Coates in a scene from "Peril of the Purloined Pirate Plunder."


'Pirate Plunder' opens at Courthouse Theater

The second play of the Old Havana Courthouse Theater 2017 summer season -- an original comedy from writer-director Jeff Hetzel -- opened July 21 on the second floor of the Montour Falls Village Hall. The play, titled "Peril of the Purloined Pirate Plunder" -- deals with the search by two competing groups for buried treasure. It was scheduled to be presented again at 7 p.m. July 22, 28 and 29, and at 2 p.m. July 23 and 30.

Photo: Jack Olcott as Captain Black Friday and his parrot.


Therapist's prop helps explain proper posture

Dr. Somer White, a physical therapist and an occupational therapist at Schuyler Hospital, gave Watkins-Montour Rotarians a lesson July 20 in posture and how it can alleviate back and shoulder pain. She utilized a skeletal model to outline the stresses that poor posture inflicts on specific parts of the body -- and distributed printed exercise instructions to help the Rotarians, most of whom indicated they suffer from such pains.

Left: Somer White and friend.


2 sentenced in sex case; one gets 21-to-life

Two area men found guilty last month by Schuyler County Judge Dennis J. Morris on rape-related charges were sentenced July 20 by Morris -- one of them, Jeffrey A. Forney, Jr., to 21 years to life in state prison. Government.

Photo: Jeffrey A. Forney, Jr. (Photo provided)

Aunt Sarah's Falls in Montour Falls were roaring -- and attracting spectators -- after Thursday's storm.


Storm knocks down limbs, knocks out power

A storm that moved through Schuyler County at about 3.25 p.m. Thursday, July 20 brought down various tree limbs (right), roiled waterfalls and knocked out power -- including for three-and-a-half hours in Odessa. Among the damages: the Clute Park pavilion, which park staff reported "took a hit and is going to need some repairs." Accordingly, the Summer Recreation program held there is canceled on Friday.

Left: Rotary Club President Rich Greenberger takes a tumble in the sack race. Right: Bradley Gillett of the Seneca Lake Brewing Co. (back) and Ben Stamp of Lakewood Vineyards get tangled as they near the finish line in their race. Both fell, with Gillett rolling over the line first.


Summer Rendezvous draws crowd to park

The annual Summer Rendezvous hosted by the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce Wednesday, July 19 at the Watkins Glen State Park's Iroquois Lodge attracted a crowd.

The gathering featured a tasty chicken barbecue prepared by The Bucket Bar and Grill; wine tastings from JR Dill Winery, Grist Iron Brewing and Lakewood Vineyards; ice cream from the Great Escape Ice Cream Parlor; music from A Walk on the Wildside Entertainment; a traditional sack race; lawn games; live music by Sam Swanson, and plenty of camaraderie.


Left top: Amanda Smith-Socaris and defending champ Dave Sidle were declared co-winners of the sack race cup when their championship race finish was too close to call. Four brackets of two racers each competed.

Left bottom: Singer Sam Swanson of the group Handsome Young Ladies entertained.


Treatment plant rebid, rescue issue top session

A rebid on work at the planned wastewater treatment plant on the canal, and concern for rescue personnel responding to overdose cases highlight a Watkins Glen Village Board meeting. Government.

Left: Village Board member Tony Fraboni.

A toga contest was a highlight of the Launch of the Lakes Party on the first day of the Wine Festival. (Photos by Mike Stamp)


21st annual Wine Festival ends its 3-day run

The 21st annual Finger Lakes Wine Festival -- voted last year as the "Best Wine Festival" in America by USA Today readers -- concluded its three-day run Sunday, July 16 at the Watkins Glen International racetrack. The event, which opened Friday with a Launch of the Lakes party that included a toga contest (pictured at right), and which featured fireworks, continued Saturday and Sunday with wine tastings, food, live music, wine seminars, cooking demonstrations, pace car rides, ice carving, a Polynesian Dance Show, and a brass band from New York City called the Drumadics. Plus ... there were about 90 wineries on hand for tastings and for sales, often by the case.


Habitat for Humanity plans its 2nd home

Schuyler County Habitat for Humanity has purchased property at 306 Broadway in the Village of Montour Falls -- the site selected for its second Habitat home. The first is located on Havana Glen Road in Montour Falls. The building on the Broadway property will soon be removed for site preparation. People.


Hospital wins HANYS community health honor

The Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS) presented its 2017 Community Health Improvement Award to Schuyler Hospital in recognition of an initiative designed to improve the health of the community. Business.

Odessa-Montour School Board president Rob Halpin, left, swears in vice president Scott Westervelt.


Halpin, Westervelt lead O-M School Board again

Rob Halpin was re-elected president and Scott Westervelt vice president of the Odessa-Montour School Board at the group's annual organizational meeting July 13. This marks Halpin's fifth year at the board's helm. Also sworn in: incumbent board member Jennifer Mosher and newcomer William Shrout. The board also discussed raising the price of school lunches by 25 cents, but took no immediate action. And it heard an update from Superintendent Chris Wood on the ongoing capital project, which he said is on schedule and within budget.

Left: Incumbent board member Jennifer Mosher, sworn in for another term, and board newcomer William Shrout.

From left: Retired Watkins Glen Public Library director Harriet Eisman and new library director Sarah Kurcoba, along with Montour Falls Library Board member Phil Archer.


Library directors past, present are honored

Recently retired Watkins Glen Public Library director Harriet Eisman and new library director Sarah Kurcoba were honored July 13 at the weekly luncheon meeting of the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club, and presented bouquets of flowers by Montour Falls and Southern Tier Library board member Phil Archer, who was the club's guest speaker -- and who related how he entered the library field upon retirement from an education career on Long Island. The club also presented the library with $500 for use in its e-reader section -- one of several community donations the club is making this year.

Concert in the Park

WATKINS GLEN, July 12 -- The July 11 Concert in the Park, featuring Donna and the Country Mystics (above), was held in the pavilion at Clute Park rather than in Lafayette Park due to the threat of rain. The pavilion was packed with music fans, and many more set up their chairs outside.

Rotary Club members Meredith Williams (left photo) and Matt Hayden (right) became Harris Fellows at the club's annual Changeover Dinner, where the gavel passes from one president to the next -- in this case from Bill Phoenix to Rich Greenberger.


3 receive Harris Fellow honors from Rotary

Three members of the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club were honored recently with Paul Harris Fellow awards during Rotary functions. Meredith Williams, membership services manager at the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce, and Matt Hayden, Schuyler County Chief Assistant District Attorney, were presented the honor during the club's annual Changeover Dinner, while Judy Cherry, executive director of the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development (SCOPED), was honored at the club's luncheon meeting the following week. The award is presented to those people -- whether club members or not -- who exhibit "service above self." Also cited: club member Nancy Peters, designated a "Paul Harris +2" for her cumulative Rotary Foundation financial contributions.

Photo in text: Judy Cherry receives Harris Fellow medallion from Rotary Club member Nancy Loughlin. (Photos provided)

From left: Alison Eldin, Mike Scullin, Jeff Hetzel and Michelle Benjamin in a scene from "The Terrible Time Twist."


Old Havana Courthouse Theatre opens season

The seventh summer season of The Old Havana Courthouse Theatre opened July 7th with the presentation of an original melodrama-comedy, "The Terrible Time Twist, or Let's Twist Again Like We Did Next Summer." Jeff Hetzel wrote the play and is directing (as well as acting, in the role of the evil Doctor DeNomolos).

The production, running two hours (with an intermission), was being presented again five times: July 8, 14 and 15 at 7 p.m., and July 9 and 16 at 2 p.m. on the Montour Falls Village Hall's second floor. Other plays will follow into August. Said theater founder Bill Christoffels: "I can't believe we've lasted seven years. I can't believe I've lasted seven years."

Photos: Pianist Donna Christoffels, and one of the signs used to prompt reactions from the audience.

The ribbon at Simply Your Best was cut by business owner JoAnna Sindone and her staff. From left: Odessa Wesleyan Church Pastor Ed Ross; Simply Your Best employees Ryan Hayes, Lovona Carrigan, Peyton Westlake and Lisa McKee; Sindone; County Administrator Tim O'Hearn, and Odessa Mayor Keith Pierce. Hidden behind Sindone is employee Jamie Colon. Also hidden is Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce President Rebekah Carroll.


Ribbon-cutting marks expansion of salon

A ribbon was cut July 6 to help celebrate an expansion of JoAnna Sindone's Simply Your Best Salon along Rt. 224 west of Odessa. The event also featured hors d'oeuvres, a bounce house, and cheese, coffee and honey products from area businesses. Raffles were also conducted, with proceeds going to the Humane Society. The ribbon-cutting featured remarks by Sindone, landlord Rob Halpin, County Administrator Tim O'Hearn, Odessa Mayor Keith Pierce and Chamber of Commerce President Rebekah Carroll. Sindone doubled the size of her business by expanding into the ground floor's previously vacant western half. "I feel truly blessed," she told supporters who gathered for the celebration.

Left: New board president Gloria Brubaker. Right: New board member Tracey VanSkiver is sworn in,


Brubaker named Glen School Board president

Longtime Watkins Glen School Board member Gloria Brubaker was elected Board President for the coming year July 5th at the group's annual reorganizational meeting at the school.

Brubaker, elected by the other board members unanimously, succeeds two-year board chief Kelly McCarthy, who maintains a seat entering the third year of her three-year term. Mark Franzese was named vice president. The meeting also saw the swearing in of incumbent board member Kris Clarkson to his second term, of Tracey VanSkiver to her first term, and of Deputy Superintendent Greg Kelahan (inset), who is succeeding Tom Phillips as Superintendent upon the completion of Phillips' contract in mid-October. Kelahan has moved into Phillips' office, while the latter is working out of the school library. Phillips said he expects to be on hand through July, then is vacationing in August and will be available for consultation if needed after that.

The board also accepted the resignations into retirement of music teacher Diana Groll and of physical education instructor and pool facilities director Cyndy Wood, along with that of teacher Deb Gleason -- all effective this past June 30th.

Photo in text: Greg Kelahan, the next superintendent.

A School Board meeting summary can be found here.

The first Movie on the Lake of 2017 was "Willie Wonka."


Movies on the Lake season opens at Clute

The first of the Movies on the Lake of the summer attracted about 80 people on July 5th to Clute Park in Watkins Glen to watch "Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." The evening, sponsored by Global Taco and Rasta Ranch Winery, was preceded by a vendors' market offering fresh farm produce to sweets to dinner. Music was provided by the band Profuselies. Next Wednesday's movie is "Spaceballs," starting at dusk. The films are free to the public. Bring a lawn chair and blanket.

Blood shortage prompts call for donations

The American Red Cross has issued an emergency call for blood donations across the country in the face of a shortage and a summer season that traditionally sees fewer donors. People.


Overcoming the fear of racing in the rain

Bob Brown of Montour Falls, who has been road racing motor bikes for a decade, faced his fear of competing on a wet track at a recent race weekend in West Virginia. For his entertaining description of that fear and of that weekend, just click here.

Photo: Bob Brown. (Photo provided)

The 42-foot boat parked in the Tops Markets lot in Watkins.


An impressive-looking visitor in Watkins Glen

A boat with the insignia of the "World Champion Cigarette Racing Team" was stationed for a while July 2nd in the Tops parking lot in Watkins Glen. A number of local people wandered over to talk to a young Williamsport man at the rear of the boat, who said it belonged to his father, who was busy on the phone in the pickup truck hauling it. They were on their way to Seneca Lake, a body of water they visit annually. The craft is 42 feet long, with a fuel capacity of 246 gallons and twin 800 engines. It goes over 100 mph. Each such boat, says the Cigarette website, is customized to the owner's wishes -- with the company evolving over the years from performance racing to production for anyone from new boaters to "serious powerboaters." Did anyone see it on the water?


Shared Services played role in storm recovery

The Schuyler County Soil and Water Conservation District teamed with various governmental units and highway workers to tackle a recovery project after the June 5 storm that struck Watkins Glen, closing Rt. 14 between Montour Falls and Watkins Glen. A key part of the project was clearing a clogged box culvert under Fairgrounds Lane in Watkins. Recovery.

Photo: At work on the project. (Photo provided)

Also: SWCD tackles wetlands project. Wetlands.


Reception welcomes new Glen library director

The Watkins Glen Public Library board hosted a reception on June 28 to say goodbye to longtime library director Harriet Eisman and welcome new director Sarah Kurcoba. From left in the photo above are Kurcoba, Eisman, Judy Phillips, current board president, and Brian O'Donnell, who served on both the library board and the board of the Friends of Watkins Library. Eisman is retiring after 30 years with the Watkins Glen library. (Photo provided)

Mark Specchio smiles broadly upon entering Murabella's for dinner. He found a surprise retirement party awaiting him.


Surprise party greets WG's retiring Specchio

The Village of Watkins Glen's Superintendent of Utilities, Mark Specchio, retired June 29 after 22 years working for the village. Accordingly, a surprise party staged by his family and attended by friends, family and co-workers was held Wednesday evening, June 28 at Murabella's Restaurant in Montour Falls. Specchio appeared surprised and was all smiles as he and his wife Bonnie entered the restaurant and encountered a loud "Surprise!" and then music by Robin Burnett. The first-floor room was packed with well-wishers as Specchio starts the next chapter in his life. Note: Specchio's wife Bonnie retired at the same time after 20 years as a teacher assistant in the Watkins Glen School District.

Photo in text: Robin Burnett provided vocals.


Schuyler Steps Out: Humane Society wins

The Humane Society of Schuyler County has successfully defended its 2016 Schuyler Steps Out title, winning the 2017, eight-week free community walking competition with an average of 1,035,032 steps from 14 walkers. The Humane Society, atop the leader board from early in the season, outdistanced runnerup Grand Prix Fitness (897,925 average), the Watkins Glen High School/Library (712,320), the Senka Agency (683,276) and Sidle Insurance (675,886). There were 11 teams. MVP and Most Improved Awards will be announced in the near future.

Author Cynthia Neale's books were on display, along with a vintage hat reflecting the period she writes about.


Neale gives reading, touts her latest novel

Novelist Cynthia Neale, formerly of this area but now living in New Hampshire, was on hand June 26 in Montour Falls for a reading from her latest book, "The Irish Milliner," part of her series about Norah McCabe, an Irish immigrant in 19th century America. The novel -- available for sale at the reading -- deals with Norah as a young widow during the Civil War, and features a meeting with Abraham Lincoln.

Left: Author Cynthia Neale

To learn more about Neale's books, visit www.cynthianeale.com


WGHS says farewell to its Class of 2017

The Watkins Glen High School Class of 2017 graduated June 24 in a Commencement ceremony in the school auditorium. A total of 78 seniors received their diplomas. Graduation.

Right: Phebe Wickham of the WGHS Class of 2017.

The Watkins Glen High School Alumni Association honored its four $1,500 WGHS scholarship recipients at Saturday's annual banquet. From left, they are Liz Mason, Rong Hang Lin, Max Schimizzi and Brienna Solomon.


Alumni Association holds its annual banquet

The Watkins Glen High School Alumni Association held its annual banquet on June 24 at the Watkins Glen Community Center -- an event that drew more than 200 people. Honored as a Distinguished Alumnus was Larry Field (right) of the Class of 1952, who served for more than 20 years in the Air Force, retiring in 1978 with the rank of Lt. Colonel. He flew 5000 hours, including 1000 in support of the Vietnam War. He flew 210 combat missions, and earned seven air medals. Also honored was the late Frieda Scholtisek, Class of 1939, a fashion model who graced the covers of numerous magazines, including Life (May 8, 1944). She worked under the name of Lynn Davis, and appeared in a number of films, including one called "Baby Sitter's Jitters" with The Three Stooges. She later returned to Watkins Glen and worked part-time in the school business office. Few knew of her successes.

Photo: Distinguished Alum Larry Field.

Frieda Scholtisek, aka Lynn Davis, in "Baby Sitter's Jitters" with Stooges Moe Howard (back) and Larry Fine.


Odessa-Montour Class of 2017 graduates

The Odessa-Montour High School Class of 2017 graduated June 23 when its 42 members were handed diplomas and sent out into the world to make their marks. Valedictorian was Emelia Paulisczak. Salutatorian was Madison Morse. The keynote speaker was 1993 O-M grad Charlie Wood, partner in a cyber security consulting firm based in Rochester. Graduation.

Photo at right: Graduates Sage Garrison and Kyle Frasier pose for photos after the commencement ceremony.


Hotel plan is off: 'Pieces didn't come together'

A plan to turn the top two floors of the old three-story Peele Building at 214 N. Franklin St. -- home on the ground floor of the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce -- into an upscale, four-diamond boutique hotel "is off the table," according to building owner Jim Guild. "There are a few reasons why we gave up on the project," said Guild, who expressed concern at "a rumor going around that the Chamber was holding it up. That is untrue." It was really just a case where "all the pieces didn't come together," he said, adding that the Chamber "still has a long-term lease with me, which I am very happy for."

Photo: The building at 214 N. Franklin St. (File photo)


Watkins-Montour Rotary Club has a busy day

The club's weekly luncheon meeting on June 22 saw two young women honored as Students of the Month, Paul Harris Fellow honors bestowed on a couple; a farewell talk from Swedish exchange student Angelika Friis (right) and a talk by Cooperative Extension executive director Phil Cherry on beekeeping. People.

Present for the press conference at Clute Park were, from left, Jennifer Bertron of the Food Bank; Sue Larson; Mayor Sam Schimizzi; park director Michelle Hyde; Wendy Wirth; and Rob Cole, who directs food preparation for the program in the WGHS kitchen.


Summer Meals Awareness touted at gathering

The free summer meals program provided at summer recreation programs and elsewhere in Schuyler County was publicized June 22 as part of a Summer Meals Awareness Day proclaimed by Watkins Glen Mayor Sam Schimizzi. Members of the Schuyler County Chiild Hunger Task Force were present at the Clute Park Pavilion for the occasion. The summer program provides free meals for all kids and teens on Monday through Friday at the WGHS cafteteria from June 26-Aug. 17, at the Clute Park Pavilion from June 26-July 28, and at the Odessa-Montour cafeteria from July 10-Aug. 4, and at Reading Center's Paradise Park on Monday through Thursday from July 5-Aug. 3. Funding is mostly from the federal goverment. The task force includes a dozen partner organizations representing education, health, government and churches. Established in 2015, it battles child hunger in the county during the summer.

The Sheriff's Department says this car is being sought.


'Suspicious package' prompts hunt for car

The Schuyler County Sheriff's Department posted the picture above of a red car being sought by law enforcement "after a suspicious package was dropped off at the New York State Fire Academy in Montour Falls on Thursday morning, June 22. The building was reportedly evacuated and Route 14 near the Academy was temporarily closed off. The "package" was later identified as a metallic cooler, with a TV report noting that bomb experts determined by X-ray that it was empty. The red car reportedly had a male driver with a female passenger. Anyone with information was being asked to contact the Sheriff's Department dispatch center at 535-8222.


One-vehicle crash kills man in Town of Orange

An Elmira man died early Wednesday afternoon, June 21 as the result of one-car accident on County Route 16 in the Town of Orange. The Schuyler County Sheriff's Department said the victim, Paul Wagner, 26, was a passenger in a delivery truck when the northbound vehicle left the road and struck a NYSEG pole. The truck driver, identified as a 23-year-old from Elmira, was taken to Corning Hospital, treated and relaesed. The investigation is continuing.

Interior and exterior views of the gorge, near the entrance.


State Park gorge: Construction, but popular

The Watkins Glen State Park entrance off Franklin Street is undergoing extensive renovation as part of a $6.5 million upgrade project, but access to the gorge stairs is still available by following a route between two fences that starts near the parking pay booth on the west side of the road. In the photos above, taken June 21 and conceived by local photographer Liz Fraboni, the tunnel stairs (left) lead to the walking bridge from which the shot on the right was snapped. There was a continuous flow of visitors into and up through the gorge.


New pizzeria opens on Franklin Street

There is a new pizza outlet in Watkins Glen on North Franklin Street, across from the Village Hall. The Atlas Brick Oven Pizzeria offers sit-in and take-out meals, with seating on both the first and second floors. A bar is also located on the second floor. The restaurant opened on the June 18-19 weekend, and was drawing a steady flow of new and curious customers on Wednesday.

Photo: The entrance to the Atlas Brick Oven Pizzeria on Franklin Street.

Patrick Hazlitt signs his letter of intent to attend the University at Buffalo, where he will continue his running career. He is flanked by his parents, Doug and Cheryl.


Hazlitt signs with the University at Buffalo

Watkins Glen High School graduating senior Patrick Hazlitt -- who won two Class C state running titles this year (as a member of the WGHS cross country team in the fall and then, on his own in the 800 Meter Run this spring) -- signed a letter of intent June 19 to attend the University at Buffalo. He will continue his running career there while majoring in business. The signing ceremony was in the WGHS library.

Left: Hazlitt cuts a celebratory cake.


Watkins Glen School Board: a summary

The Watkins Glen School Board on June 19 accepted several retirements and bid farewell to Keith Caslin, right, who was at his final session after serving three years on the board. Said Caslin afterward: "I want to thank the Watkins Glen community for allowing me to serve. It was an honor helping to make it a better place. I enjoyed my time on the board." For a summary of the meeting, click here.


Site lists Glen among top 12 vacation stops

Watkins Glen has made another desirable list: one as a Destination Vacation: Top 12 Places to Bring the Family. The list was compiled by CarRentals.com, which said it "chose places near national parks, locations on the shores of lakes, and even a town in the middle of the Pacific Ocean" (Hanalei Town, on Kaua'i, Hawaii). In including Watkins Glen, the website points to the village's lake, its gorge, and its reputation as "a world famous raceway."

The U.S.S. Recovery sank just as it reached the finish line.


24th annual Cardboard Boat Regatta held

Forty boats made of cardboard, duct tape and paint competed June 17 in two-craft heats at the 24th annual Cardboard Boat Regatta at the Seneca Harbor Park marina in Watkins Glen. A large crowd was on hand, cheering on their favorites and those unfortunate enough to sink along the course. Features.

One of the June 18 acts under the main tent was Phil Banaszak (left) and City Fiddle, a group from Buffalo.


Annual Fiddlers Gathering held at Lakewood

The 28th annual Old Time Fiddlers Gathering and Folk Arts Festival concluded June 18 at Lakewood Vineyards north of Watkins Glen. The two-day event featured various artists under a main tent, a jam tent, workshops, and food trucks.

Photo in text: In the Jam Tent at the Fiddlers Gathering.


Area author holds book signing in Odessa

Author Molly Bilinski, a Watkins Glen High School graduate now living and working near Buffalo, was on hand Saturday morning, June 17 at the Dutton Peterson Library in Odessa to sell and sign copies of her novel, Lady of Sherwood, about a female Robin Hood. Bilinski, who appeared at a similar session last month at the Watkins Glen Public Library, was also scheduled to sign her books Saturday afternoon at a Barnes and Noble store.

Photo in text: Molly Bilinski at the Odessa library.

The Seneca Harbor Pier was illuminated as night fell.


Annual Waterfront Fest features harbor lights

The 24th annual Waterfront Festival -- featuring an array of harbor lights, a food court, live music at three locations, and assorted vendors -- was held Friday evening, June 16 at Seneca Harbor Park in Watkins Glen. The festival was a prelude to Saturday's annual Cardboard Boat Regatta.

Left top: Among Friday's festival visitors: Judy Cherry.

Tru Bleu, of Ithaca, was among several musical groups on hand.

Harris Fellows: Heather Lodge, left, and Nancy Ruda were honored June 15 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as Paul Harris Fellows, given to area residents who exhibit "service above self." Both women are involved in various endeavors in which they help people in need.


Rotary Club: Harris Fellows, and a farewell

The Watkins-Montour Rotary Club luncheon on June 15 saw a new member (Lindsay Wickham) join, a check presentation to Kate LaMoreaux for her Summer Swim program, two Harris Fellow presentations (see above), and a farewell speech by Japanese exchange student Moeko Oshima (right), who outlined her year as a student at Watkins Glen High School.

Some of her highlights: her arrival on Aug. 21, 2016 at Rochester Airport ("I was so excited and nervous"); her membership on the school swim team; her first American sandwich (at Glen Mountain Market, "so large I couldn't eat it all. Now I can."); dressing as a witch on Halloween; a Senior Trip to Washington, D.C.; a 3-day trip to New York City; "tons of presents on Christmas"; a chance to meet with her grandmother and sister when they visited Toronto; a Spring Break trip to North Carolina; the school's "amazing" prom; and the chance to get together with other exchange students in the region. One, O-M's Angelika Friis of Sweden, "I'm sure will be my lifetime friend."

"I love Watkins Glen so much," Moeko added. "This year is my treasure." She will return home in August after a bus trip around the country.

Among those at the Arc of Schuyler annual meeting were, from left: Harold J. Hoffmeier, Jr., who takes over as Board President from Mike Stamp; Jim Wilson, the organization's former executive director; and Willie Pittman, formerly of Schuyler County and now retired and living in Virginia. Pittman, a longtime supporter of The Arc, traveled north with his wife Brenda to attend the meeting and see old friends.


Arc holds annual session, taps board officers

The Arc of Schuyler board of directors has a new slate of officers, headed by Harold J. Hoffmeier, Jr., as President, succeeding Michael Stamp, who in turn had succeeded Hoffmeier five years ago and will now be vice president. The election came at The Arc's annual meeting and awards ceremony June 15th at the Harbor Hotel in Watkins Glen. Various recognitions were made, mostly relating to The Arc's renovation of its Canal Street home in Montour Falls, while a Direct Support Professional Excellence Award was presented to Beth Macri. The annual $1,000 Joanne S. Hayes Memorial Scholarship was presented to Destiny Decker, a senior at Bradford Central School who plans to attend Elmira College.

Photo: Outgoing board president Mike Stamp, right, with former Schuyler County Judge J.C. Argetsinger.


Report: Police descend on Beaver Dams

A number of police vehicles were present on Rt. 414 in Beaver Dams Thursday morning, June 15 with a search underway for a man who police at first believed had fired shots in a home before leaving on a bicycle, possibly armed with a long gun and a knife. Police in full tactical gear and holding rifles had set up a perimeter around the home, and a helicopter was overhead searching fields from above. But a State Police Special Operations Response Team that entered the residence in the afternoon found no evidence of a shooting. The investigation is continuing.


Pruitt memorial service attracts hundreds

The bleachers at the Watkins Glen High School football field overflowed June 11th as a service was held there in the memory of Ryan Pruitt, a standout student athlete who died six days earlier. Schools.

A thank you letter from the Pruitt family is on the Forum.

Left: The football scoreboard carried nothing but Ryan Pruitt's uniform number

From left: Senator Tom O'Mara, Travis Durfee, Zachary Burrows, Patrick Madaffari, James Jensen, Haley Dean, Ali LaMoreaux, Isabella Bond, David Armstrong, and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano.


Watkins Glen debate students visit Albany

Watkins Glen High School 9th graders studying debate visited the State Capitol recently to meet their state lawmakers, discuss a variety of ideas and issues, visit the state government complex, and watch live sessions of the Assembly and Senate. They were led by teacher Travis Durfee, and greeted by State Senator Tom O'Mara and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, who said in a joint statement that the group's "insights and thoughtfulness were outstanding. It certainly leaves us hopeful that the next generation of leadership will benefit from their sense of civic responsibility."

Bonnie Scott, right, and daughter Keri visit with Scott McCray, left, and Del Bleiler in the Odessa Municipal Building.


Friends say goodbye
to the Scott family

Fred Scott, a lifelong area resident and long-time businessman, his wife, Bonnie, and their daughter, Keri, will soon be relocating to the Roanoke, Virginia area. A gathering was held June 11th in the community room of the Odessa Municipal Building to wish them the best as they move into this next chapter of their lives.

Left: Fred Scott visits with a well-wisher.


LCP's 'Cinderella' concludes 3-day run

The Lake Country Players' youth production of "Cinderella" was presented for its third and final time Sunday afternoon, June 11 in the Watkins Glen High School auditorium. The play, which opened Friday night, was directed by Kim Laursen and Kelsey Johnson, along with student director Trevor Keller. Features.

Left: Cheyenne Barrett as Cinderella

A member of the Canisteo-Greenwood High School marching band, one of several bands in the parade. (Parade photos here.)


Festival concludes; parade tops last day

The 61st Annual Montour Falls Fire Department Festival ended its 3-day run June 10th, after an hour-plus parade on Main Street in the village that featured two dozen fire departments, 10 bands and assorted antique cars and tractors, along with floats. The festival's evening entertainment was country music by Devon Franks. Parade photos here.

Left: This girl won a prize for popping some balloons.

Patrick Hazlitt celebrates with his family -- father Doug, mother Cheryl and sister Megan.


Hazlitt wins Division 2 State Championship

Watkins Glen High School senior Patrick Hazlitt won the Division 2 New York State Public High School Athletic Association championship in the 800 Meter Run on June 9 at the state tournament at Union-Endicott High School, setting a school record in the process. Hazlitt posted a time of 1:53.79, breaking his own school record of 1:54.88 set on May 12 at the Fast Times Invitational in Corning. He was fourth Friday overall, finishing behind only three Division 1, large-school runners. "What a great way to end the already phenomenal year he has had," said WGHS Athletic Director Rod Weeden.

  Declining an honor ... in honor of a friend

The monthly Watkins-Montour Rotary Club Student of the Month honor June 8th went to Watkins Glen High School senior Angel Hamm, but she declined it -- saying "if it is alright with all of you," she was dedicating it to classmate and friend Ryan Pruitt, who died Monday. She said she would be replacing the award plaque's word plate with one with Ryan's name on it, and passing the honor along to his parents. For her complete, remarkable speech, click here.

Left: Angel Hamm at Rotary


Schuyler Spring All-Stars and MVPs unveiled

Two high school track standouts share this year's Schuyler Spring MVP Award for record-setting performances. And we have The Odessa File's picks for All-Schuyler All-Star teams. Sports.


Top Drawer 24 honored at State Park ceremony

The 12th annual celebration of two-dozen student-athletes from 10 area school districts was held June 5 at the State Park pavilion. Honorees received medallions and certificates. Presented too: Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour Athlete of the Year Awards, a Lifetime Achievement Award, and the annual Susan B. Haeffner Sportsmanship Award. Party.

Left: O-M's Nakiaha Robinson, winner of the Susan Award.


Schuyler 6th graders get in touch with nature

A total of 130 sixth graders from the Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour school districts attend a daylong outdoor program designed to stimulate interaction with, and respect for, our natural surroundings. Field Day.

Left: Archery was among the day's activities.

Police blocked the northbound lane on Rt. 14 near Montour Falls Monday afternoon, June 5 because of flooding up the road.


Storm prompts flooding, road closures

Storms that moved through the area Monday afternoon, June 5 led to flooding and road closures in Schuyler County -- including Rt. 14 between Watkins Glen and Montour Falls, and portions of Rt. 414 above Watkins Glen. The Sheriff's Office said flooding also impacted several streets in Watkins.


Elliott closes with 91 at State Golf Tournament

Watkins Glen High School's Hanley Elliott shot a 91 Sunday, June 4 on the second and final day of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Girls Golf Championships at the par-72 Bethpage Yellow course on Long Island. Elliott's total of 191 for the two days was third best on the Section IV team. Odessa-Montour's Gillian Clark followed her opening-round 94 with a 104 on Sunday for a 198 total. Alex Tomasso of Waverly led the Section IV squad with a 163 total, 20th on the leader board. The medalist was Lauren Peter of Section I, who shot a 4-under-par 140.

Photo: Hanley Elliott during Sunday's round. (Photo provided)

At the Live Like Liz race, from left: Gary Schmidt, who walked the 5K course; Travis Durfee, whose band provided music afterward; and Margaret Mary Amisano, one of Liz Amisano's sisters.


Live Like Liz 5K raises funds to fight cancer

The annual Live Like Liz 5K Walk/Run was held Sunday, June 4 at Watkins Glen High School and on the Catharine Valley Trail -- raising funds as it has for years in memory of Elizabeth Amisano and to raise awareness of ovarian cancer, the disease that took her life. Race awards were presented in various age categories.

Left: Overall male and female race winners Brandon Pike and Brooke Shaffer.

The barbecue meals were sold from this spot on Visions Federal Credit Union property in Watkins Glen.


Chicken barbecue sells out quickly at Glen

The annual Watkins-Montour Rotary Club Chicken BBQ -- whose proceeds will support local community projects and help provide charitable donations -- was held June 3 in Watkins Glen. The event, sponsored by and held at the Visions Federal Credit Union, saw the Rotarians sell all of their 225 half-chicken meals in about 85 minutes. Also raising funds: a bake sale.


WGHS distributes awards at evening assembly

Dozens of Watkins Glen High School students were presented academic and athletic awards during an evening assembly in the school auditorium. Schools.

Photo at right: Cambria Weeden receives an award from Principal Kai D'Alleva.

From left: Richard Franklin, Rachel Pyhtila and Ronald Havens


3 from Schuyler face meth manufacture charge

Three people were arrested June 1, charged with the Manufacture of Methamphetamine, 3rd Degree, a Class D felony, following an investigation by the Schuyler County Sheriff’s Office at 1619 County Route 15 in the Town of Catharine. The Sheriff's Office said Richard A. Franklin, 41, and Rachel J. Pyhtila, 19, both of Montour Falls, and Ronald H. Havens, 64, of Odessa allegedly possessed several items of laboratory equipment and chemicals used to manufacture meth. Officials said further charges are possible pending the results of laboratory testing. All three were arraigned in Town of Catharine Court and sent to jail in lieu of bail.

Two men found guilty in Schuyler sex case. Government.

At the signing in the WGHS Library, from right: WGHS girls basketball coach Alicia Learn; Amanda Pike's father, Wade; Amanda Pike; her mother, Tammy; and brother, Mitchell. (Photo by Don Romeo)


Pike signs to play at East Stroudsburg U.

Watkins Glen High School senior Amanda Pike, who led her varsity basketball team to a New York State, Class C championship this year, signed a Letter of Intent June 1st to play basketball at East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania, where she will pursue a career in Hotel, Tourism and Restaurant Management. Pike presented a short speech in the WGHS Library in which she thanked her coaches, parents, siblings, friends and fans, concluding: "Let's all celebrate together because we all share in today's event. But let's not settle on what we have accomplished. Let's make new goals for ourselves and go after them." She then signed the paperwork, admitting afterward: "My hands were shaking."

Left: Amanda Pike and a celebratory cake.

At the ribbon-cutting were, from left: Watkins Area Chamber of Commerce President Rebekah Carroll, County Administrator Tim O'Hearn, the Performing Arts Center's Mary Beth Wolf and Eric Hollenbeck, and Watkins Glen Mayor Sam Schimizzi.


Ribbon cut at Glen's Performing Arts Center

Eric Hollenbeck, whose Hollenbeck Film + Experience recently won a Schuyler County bid to operate and manage the Watkins Glen Performing Arts Center in the old Middle School, and his partner Mary Beth Wolf cut a ceremonial ribbon May 31 at the doors leading to the facility. Hollenbeck said he looks forward "to bringing more arts and culture to the community, and igniting economic development in the region." The Center is in the old school auditorium. Changes will include the construction of dressing rooms where the old school gym now stands behind the stage, as well as the installation of new lighting and a sound system.


Memorial Day services held around Schuyler

Services were conducted in Montour Falls, Watkins Glen and outside Odessa May 29 on a rainy day. People.

Left: Rick Lewis, Commander of American Legion Post 676, was emcee at the Odessa service.


WGHS cross country champions honored

The Watkins Glen High School boys varsity cross country team was honored by State Senator Tom O'Mara and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano with a special Legislative Resolution May 26th during an assembly held in the school auditorium. The team won the state Class C title and the Federation championship in November. Schools.

Left: The cross country team's Patrick Hazlitt with a copy of the Legislative Resolution.


Hospital, Seneca View and Auxiliary news

--Schuyler Hospital and Seneca View Skilled Nursing Facility employees are honored. People. --Chris Updyke is Hospital Auxiliary Volunteer of the Year. People.
--Christina Hoose is the Lou Sand Award winner. Business.
--Deadline nears for Hospital Auxiliary scholarship applications. Schools.
--Schuyler Hospital and Seneca View donate 3,200 food items to the Food Pantry and Humane Society in colorful, themed boxes (see photo). Business.

These two wine tasters happily posed for a photo.


Wine event draws large crowd to Clute Park

The sixth annual Seneca Lake Wine & Food event drew hundreds of patrons to Clute Park in Watkins Glen May 20th to sample wine and food from nearly 50 vendors, and to take home plenty of wine, often by the case. More than 1,200 people had filed through the entrance to the gathering midway through its 11 a.m.-5 p.m. schedule. More than two dozen wineries were represented, and nearly two dozen eateries. Live music was also provided. Unlike last year, when storms bedeviled the event, the weather was cool but mostly sunny Saturday.

Photo: Lakewood Vineyards' Bev Stamp pours a sample.

Odessa-Montour students -- members of the National Honor Society -- work on one of the many vehicles they washed.


Odessa NHS members raise funds with wash

Odessa-Montour High School students who are members of the school's chapter of the National Honor Society raised funds for the chapter May 20th by washing cars for $5 apiece and selling baked goods in front of the Odessa Village Hall. Funds will be used, among other things, to cover the cost of food, shirts and other items needed for NHS inductions.

Photo: NHS member Hailey Perraut

Molly Bilinski signs a copy of her novel, Lady of Sherwood.


Bilinski signs copies of her book at library

Watkins Glen High School and William Smith College graduate Molly Bilinski (right) was present at the Watkins Glen Public Library Friday evening, May 19 signing copies of her newly published novel, Lady of Sherwood -- a young-adult retelling of the Robin Hood story with Robin as a female. A steady stream of well-wishers stopped by to buy one or more copies of the book and have Bilinski sign them. The author, a chemist in the Buffalo area, is planning a sequel to the book while working on another, unrelated novel. She will also be selling and signing copies of Lady of Sherwood from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday, June 17 at the Dutton S. Peterson Library, Odessa.

Photo in text: Molly Bilinski with a copy of her book.

Carmella Hoffman addresses Rotarians at Thursday's luncheon.


Cheese Festival officials outline July 22 event

Representatives of the annual Finger Lakes Cheese Festival held at the Hoffman farm at Catharine Corners, outside Odessa, discussed the July 22 festival during the May 18 luncheon meeting of the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club. Carmella Hoffman, her daughter Niki Turnmyre and Heather O'Grady-Evans said a new pavilion will be available as the festival, in its 6th year, is expected to draw up to 7,000 people. When the festival began, said Hoffman, 1,250 people attended. Last year, despite scorching heat, there were 5,300 people. The family-friendly festival features music, children's events, hayrides, seminars, and many vendors with locally produced food. Advance tickets are $5; at the gate $8, plus $2 per semiinar.

Photo in text: O'Grady-Evans (left) and Turnmyre.

The National Honor Society candles representing Scholarship, Leadership, Service and Character.


National Honor Society inductions held at Glen

20 Watkins Glen High School students were inducted Wednesday night, May 17 into the school's chapter of the National Honor Society. The ceremony was held in the Watkins Glen Elementary School auditorium. Schools.


Budgets pass in O-M, Watkins Glen districts

Voters overwhelmingly passed school budgets in the Odessa-Montour and Watkins Glen school districts May 16th, by 167-34 in Odessa (a $16,642,703 spending plan) and by 334-100 in Watkins (a $27,220,200 spending plan). O-M also easily passed capital reserve and bus propositions, and saw incumbent Jen Mosher (168 votes) and newcomer William Shrout (146) elected to the School Board unopposed. In Watkins Glen, newcomer Tracey VanSkiver won one of three 3-year terms on the School Board, unseating incumbent Keith Caslin. Top vote-getter was Kris Clarkson (308), followed by Gloria Brubaker (291), VanSkiver (290) and Caslin (268). There were two write-in votes, one of them for Optimus Prime.


WG bands, choruses entertain at concert

Watkins Glen High School held its Spring Concert May 16 in the WGHS auditorium. The concert featured the 7th-8th Grade Band and Chorus, the High School Band and Chorus, and the 7th-8th and High School Choruses together. Highlights: "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" by 7th-8th Band, "Count on Me" (7th-8th Chorus); "Blackbird" (H.S. Chorus), and "Shenandoah" (H.S. Band). The concert program bid farewell to graduating seniors from Chorus and Band: Alexis Atchie, Mikenna Ayers, Abbie Chapman-Heichel, Aidan DeBolt, Dakota Evans, Ezra Evans, Elizabeth Mason, Kacey Samuels, and Brienna Solomon.

Left: Members of the High School Band.

Watkins Glen prom-goers included, from left: Jacob Carocci, Sam Hanley, Daniel Paradiso and Tanner Ryan. (Photo provided)


Watkins holds annual prom at Logan Ridge

Watkins Glen High School students dressed in gowns and tuxedos made their way to the Seneca Harbor pier and marina and elsewhere for photos on Saturday, May 13, before going to the annual prom at Logan Ridge in Hector, the event's chosen site in recent years. Before reaching that event -- highlighted by dancing, group photos and camaraderie -- they went, many of them, in pairs and groups to area restaurants for a special meal on a special occasion.

Note: The editor was out of town on prom night. Anyone with photos, please send them along, and we'll publish as many as we can on these pages.


Left top: WGHS students Cierra Barber, left, and Danielle Leszyk posed at the Seneca Harbor Marina.

Left bottom: WGHS students Mikenna Ayers, left, and Brienna Solomon, dressed for the prom. (Photos provided)

More WGHS prom photos are on Schools.


Italian-American fest launches Legacy Lane

The Schuyler County Italian-American Festival is partnering with the Village of Watkins Glen to honor the county’s heritage in the new Lafayette Park Legacy Lane. Features.

Left: The lane at Lafayette Park. (Photo provided)


Pike named Class C Player of Year in NY

Watkins Glen basketball standout Amanda Pike -- who led her team to the state Class C basketball championship -- has been named the Girls Class C Player of the Year by the New York State Sportwriters Association. Two other Watkins Glen players, Mariah Gonzalez and Hannah Morse, made All-State teams, as did Odessa-Montour's Gillian Clark. Sports.


Left: Amanda Pike


Simulation gives prom message to students

A simulated emergency Friday involving two crashed vehicles, injuries, death, DWI, rescue personnel, fire trucks and a helicopter provided an anti-drinking, anti-texting message to Watkins Glen High School students planning to drive to and from Saturday's prom. Schools.

Left: A Guthrie Air helicopter lands at WGHS.


Rotary honors Neira as Student of the Month

Watkins Glen High School senior Brendan Neira (right) was honored May 11 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary as its WGHS Student of the Month for May. He was introduced by teacher Nancy Ruda, who said he had "overcome many challenges in his journey through academia" and that "he has taught me much about perseverance and never giving up." She also described Brendan as diligent and compassionate and "always looking out for his classmates." He "can be found on weekends and after school working on his grandmother's farm," she said, and "has shown great interest in planting seeds to grow in the school greenhouse and caring for the plants the last two years." He also works at the family business, the Smoke 'N' Bones restaurant in Burdett. Concluded Ruda: "I believe in Brendan, his ability to contribute to his family's business and the community he lives in."


Exchange Students update local Rotarians

The two current Rotary Exchange students in Schuyler County and an Odessa-Montour student soon to be an outbound Exchange student were guest speakers May 11 at the weekly luncheon meeting of the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club. Moeko Oshima of Japan (attending Watkins Glen High School) and Angelika Friis of Sweden (now at O-M) spoke of their experiences here, while O-M junior Noelle Chamberlain looked ahead to her year in India that begins this summer. Highlights for Moeko and Angelika included a Spring Break trip to North Carolina. Angelika found the O-M prom fascinating, and Moeko was looking foward to the WGHS prom on May 13. Noelle has been learning the Hindi language, spoken in Mumbai, where she will be residing in India.

Photo in text: From left, Moeko Oshima, Noelle Chamberlain and Angelika Friis.


Hoffman honored as 'Woman of Distinction'

State Senator Tom O’Mara honored Carmella Hoffman, owner and operator of Sunset View Creamery at Catharine Corners outside Odessa, as his 2017 New York State Senate “Woman of Distinction" in a ceremony in Albany on May 9th. People.

Photo: Senator O'Mara and Hoffman


Storage: Natural gas out, LPG still proposed

Citing an unsuccessful effort to secure "long-term contractual commitments from customers," a subsidiary of Crestwood Midstream Partners, the Arlington Storage Co., says in a compliance report filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that it has "discontinued efforts" to expand natural gas storage in salt caverns along the western shore of Seneca Lake, say published reports. However, while opponents Wednesday hailed this as a victory in the two-year-plus protest that has led to hundreds of trespass arrests outside Crestwood gates along Rt. 14 north of Watkins Glen, Crestwood is still moving ahead with its proposal to store liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in salt caverns, say the reports. That plan has been held up at the state level for several years.

State Senator Tom O'Mara, front left, and Asssemblyman Phil Palmesano, front right, with the Watkins Glen girls varsity basketball team Tuesday in the State Capitol.


Watkins basketball team honored in Albany

The Watkins Glen girls varsity basketball Class C state champions visited Albany on Tuesday, May 9, where the Senate and Assembly paid tribute to the team with a special Resolution. Government.

One of several gaming tables at the Watkins Glen Fire Department's annual Casino Night at the fire station.


Watkins firefighters hold a busy Casino Night

The Watkins Glen Fire Department bays were packed with people Saturday night, May 6 at the annual Casino Night there -- a fundraiser for the department. The community room was also in use for Bingo. Blackjack, Beat the Dealer, Money Wheels and Over-Under 7 were among the games of chance in the truck bays. There were also raffles for firearms, a $500 cash giveaway, door prizes, beverages, and various foods. Admission was any cash donation at the door.

Photo: A roll of the dice.


Ken Wilson honored with hospital award

Ken Wilson has been named recipient of the Schuyler Hospital Community Partner of the Year Award, presented annually to an organization or individual as recognition "for helping the hospital achieve its mission." Wilson served as Executive Director of the Schuyler Health Foundation from 2006-2008, co-chaired the Family of Friends campaign in 2011, raising $300,000 for the Seneca View Skilled Nursing Facility, and continues "to be one of our strongest supporters in the community," says Jim Watson, the hospital President and CEO. The 2016 award went to the Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary.

Left: Ken Wilson and his award

Watkins Glen's next Superintendent of Schools, Gregory Kelahan, greets School Board member Gloria Brubaker at the May 2 board meeting. The board approved his contract. Pact.


Board introduces next school superintendent

The man selected recently by the Watkins Glen School Board to be the next district superintendent, Gregory Kelahan, was introduced during the May 2 board session. He spoke briefly, saying he had toured the school that day and was impressed by it. Current Superintendent Tom Phillips, due to retire no later than Oct. 16, said Kelahan had met with staff and with "the administration team, and the feeling was 'Wow! This is gonna be good.' We're off to a great start." Kelahan, who comes on board July 1, will serve initially with the title of deputy superintendent.

Check presented for Summer Rec. Schools.
Board meeting summary. Report.
Board approves contract with next superintendent. Pact.

From left: Watkins Village Trustee Kevin Thornton, Clerk Donna Beardsley, and Sergeant in Charge Steve Decker listen to Streets Superintendent Don Perry the May 1 Village Board meeting.


Board okays state champions sign request

The Watkins Glen Village Board on May 1st approved the placement of a sign observing Watkins Glen as home to Watkins Glen High School's state champion boys cross country team and state champion girls basketball team, both titleists during the 2016-17 school year. A request for placement of a sign was made by the school district. The board -- with suggestions that the sign might be afffixed to a "Welcome to Watkins Glen" sign -- left it to Streets Superintendent Don Perry to pick a suitable spot. "Use your judgment," said Mayor Sam Schimizzi (inset).

Casey Max belts out a song during concert April 29 at WGHS.


Concert features jazz, bluegrass at WGHS

The groups Casey Max and the DixieKats (dance, New Orleans jazz and Dixieland music) and Rebecca Colleen and the Chore Lads (bluegrass and Americana music) entertained for three hours April 29 during a Rotary Club-sponsored concert in the Watkins Glen High School auditorium. The event raised funds for Rotary community projects.

Left: Rebecca McDonald


Odessa-Montour holds its annual prom at WGI

The prom season is upon us. Odessa-Montour held its annual party April 28 at the Watkins Glen International Media Center, the school's locale of choice for the gala in recent years. Prom.

Left: This group chose shades as its theme.

Lt. Michael A. Notarfonzo took his honorary "final walk out"from work -- between lines of fellow law officers -- as he left the Schuyler County Sheriff's Office into retirement on April 28. He will be back, though, working part-time as needed.


Lt. Notarfonzo honored upon his retirement

Schuyler County Sheriff's Lt. Michael A. Notarfonzo retired April 28 after nearly 39 years with the department, and greeting him upon his departure were two lines of fellow law officers lining the driveway outside the Sheriff's Office, providing him with a "final walk out" from work that honored his many years of service. On hand too were family members: his mother, two brothers and daughter-in-law. Notarfonzo -- the department's longest serving member ever -- began his career in the Sheriff's Office in 1978, and worked in the jail, on dispatch, on the road, as a sergeant and as lieutenant. "I figured they'd try to do something," he said of Friday's gathering. "This is pretty nice."

Above top: Lt. Notarfonzo after the honorary walk.
Above bottom: Lt. Notarfonzo greets the man who hired him nearly 39 years ago, retired Sheriff Michael Maloney.


Schuyler Envirothon title goes to Bradford

A team from the Bradford school district wins the Schuyler title during the annual Envirothon competition in Owego. Schools.

Left: Members of 2nd-place Martens team from O-M.


Rotary honors DeBolt as Student of Month

Watkins Glen High School senior Aidan DeBolt (right) was honored April 27 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its WGHS Student of the Month for April. DeBolt was introduced by teacher Kelly Muir, who described the honoree as "a strong student" who is a class and club leader and a standout swimmer -- a three-time Section IV champion. "He is talented and smart," Muir said, noting that he plays the guitar and "sings beautifully." Another teacher, Karen Armstrong, sent word that DeBolt "is always polite, kind and hardworking" and is "a natural leader" and "a great student who takes pride in a job well done." DeBolt said he plans to attend Ithaca College and study Emerging Media -- "and from there, I guess I'll let life decide."


Vernyi-Kellogg is Assistant County Attorney

Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman has appointed Olesya Vernyi-Kellogg as an Assistant County Attorney, effective April 24. She joins Getman in representing Schuyler County in civil litigation, family court prosecutions and social services law. She has served as a staff attorney with the Legal Resource Center for Public Health Policy at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law, and before that worked at the Maryland Attorney General's Office. She is a 2014 graduate of the Syracuse University College of Law. The County Attorney's staff also consists of deputy county attorney Kristin Hazlitt and secetaries Donna Hyer and Vickie Perrazini.

Photo: Olesya Vernyi-Kellogg.

The WGHS Model UN team poses before leaving for Cornell.


10 WGHS students participate in Model UN

Students from the Watkins High School's Model United Nations and Global Issues class traveled to Cornell University for the annual Model UN Conference attended by more than 1,000 delegates from around the country and the world. Conference.


School Board approves next superintendent

The Watkins Glen School Board voted unanimously April 18 to appoint Gregory K. Kelahan (right) as the next superintendent of schools, to succeed the retiring Tom Phillips. Kelahan, currently superintendent of the Oriskany Central School District, will start as Deputy Superintendent on July 1, taking the Superintendent's title when Phillips uses up his vacation and sick days, no later than Oct. 16. Schools.

Board approves budget plan; 4 candidates competing for 3 board seats. Schools.
Board weighs easement proposals for racing research center, wastewater treatment plant. People.
For a district summary of Tuesday's meeting, click here.


SWCD holds a spring tradition: its tree sale

The Schuyler County Soil and Water Conservation District held its 37th annual Green Arbor Program April 22 -- the distribution of bare root seedlings and transplants on Earth Day. Agriculture.

Photo: Dan Lewis of Montour Falls at the sale, with his family's trees and a bluebird house made by the SWCD.

From left at the Watkins Glen firefighters' banquet: Chaplain Tony Specchio, Deputy Chief Robbie DeDominick, Chief Charlie Scaptura


Watkins firefighters hold annual banquet

Firefighters and officials from around the area gathered April 22 at the Hidden Valley 4-H banquet hall for the annual Watkins Glen Fire Company banquet. The master of ceremonies was Paul Cartwright. Chief Charlie Scaptura delivered his annual report, and awards were given for training and response, as well as for years of service.

Left top: Bill Haeffner was honored for 20 years of service with the department. Among others honored were Dominick Smith (25 years) and Joe Matwiejow (60 years).

Left bottom: Among the many guests on hand were fire inspector Dale Jaynes and longtime fire official and EMT Rebecca Franklin-Guild.

From left: School Board President Rob Halpin, Superintendent Chris Wood, and board member Scott Westervelt.


O-M School Board OKs tenure for 7 teachers

The Odessa-Montour School Board approved tenure for seven teachers at a meeting April 19 at the school. Granted tenure were Ashley Cross (right), Elementary Education; Kara Dougherty, Mathematics; Molly Kinnetz, Foreign Language; Jennifer Kreamer, Music Education; Margaret Mortimer, Elementary Education; Jennifer Sarno, Elementary Education; and Kevin Tarbert, Science.

A pair of three-year seats on the board will be filled in the May 16 election. Running uncontested are incumbent Jennifer Mosher and newcomer William Shrout. Christian Maphis decided not to seek a second term.

Photo in text: Ashley Cross, along with the other teachers granted tenure, was present at the meeting.

At the Business Expo

From left: Watkins Glen High School teacher Kaz Popovich and students Sara McManus and Kayla Smith were on hand April 19 at the 11th Annual Business Expo at the Watkins Glen Community Center promoting their school's May 18 Job Fair. Sixty vendors were present for the Expo, organized each year by the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce. Business.

Seeking information on stolen excavator

The Schuyler County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the theft of a 1995 Caterpillar 320L excavator belonging to the Schuyler County Highway Department from a job site on County Route 1 near Lewis Road in the Town of Hector. It is believed to have been stolen Friday night or Saturday morning, April 14 or 15, and appears to have been loaded onto a lowboy trailer. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Office at 607-535-8222.


And on The Odessa File's Agriculture Page:

Local farmer and forester Brett Chedzoy (pictured at right) earns a chapter service award from the New York Forest Owners Association, while a Watkins Glen coffee business plans a Meet the Farmer event on April 22nd. Agriculture.

Annual Report

The Village of Odessa releases its annual Drinking Water Quality Report. For a look, click here.


An update on the Watkins State Park project

With work well underway on the $6.5 million Watkins Glen State Park upgrade project (right), the Chamber of Commerce presents an update on the project's various aspects. Business.

Kids race to pick up eggs at the April 15 Lafayette Park hunt.


Egg hunts held in Watkins Glen and Odessa

Easter Egg hunts were held around the region and country on April 15 -- including at Lafayette Park in Watkins Glen and at the Odessa-Montour school's athletic field. The Lafayette Park hunt -- which started at 11 a.m. under a sunny sky -- was hosted by Cabins to Castles on Seneca Real Estate, and boasted a disc jockey, Tom Strong. This was the second year of the event, and attracted hundreds of people. The O-M egg hunt was sponsored by Odessa American Legion Post 676. It was held under darker skies at 1 p.m. as rain approached, and attracted fewer participants than in past years. The O-M hunt, once overseen by the Lions Club, has been a staple of Easter weekend for decades.

Photo: The Easter Bunny -- seen above at the Odessa-Montour event -- was present at both egg hunts.


A walk along the Catharine Valley Trail

The weather was chilling but the walk energizing on Monday, Jan. 30 along the Catharine Valley Trail between Watkins Glen and Montour Falls. Photographer Liz Fraboni hiked with a camera, and snapped some photos of nature's way along the trail. The photos by Fraboni, who has been featured on these pages many times in past years, are presented this time at right and on Features.

Left: Working on the traffic light. Right: Working on an extension behind the concession stand.


Watkins Glen State Park project progressing

Paving of the Watkins Glen State Park parking lot across Franklin Street from the park is well underway, as is installation of traffic lights at the corner of Franklin and 10th Streets and construction in the park itself -- including a new visitor center and an extension to the rear of the concession/restroom structure. The $6.5 million park enhancement project will include a green space fronting the gorge.


Official outlines Catholic Charities services

Charles Nocera, executive director of Catholic Charities of Chemung/Schuyler, was the guest speaker April 13 at the weekly luncheon meeting of the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club. Nocera (right) outlined the services provided by Catholic charities in Schuyler County. A look at the organization and all it does for Schuyler residents can be found here.

Photo in text: Charles Nocera at Rotary


2 Montour Falls residents face meth charge

Richard A. Franklin, 41, and Rachel J. Pyhtila, 19, both of Montour Falls, were charged April 10 with Unlawful Manufacture of Methamphetamine in the third degree, a Class D felony. The Schuyler County Sheriff's Office said the pair were found in possession of "several items and chemicals used in the manufacture of methamphetamine" when "a search warrant (was) executed at a Henry Street Apartment in Montour Falls." Both were both remanded to jail in lieu of bail.


Runners brave cold at Arc Grand Prix Run

Hundreds of people were on hand for the 4th Annual Arc Grand Prix Run/Walk at the Watkins Glen International race track on a cold April 8th morning. Race.

Left: Race medal.

One of the autocross competitors makes his way through a line of cones in the parking area outside the WGI garage.


Green Grand Prix turns white and very cold

Snow and a bone-chilling wind greeted the annual Green Grand Prix April 7 at the Watkins Glen International race track. The event -- despite the cold -- proceeded with its planned schedule, which included a fuel-efficiency challenge, a road rally, talks in the WGI Media Center, and an afternoon autocross competition near the WGI Tech Garage -- a first this year. The Green Grand Prix, which started in 2005, has an educational focus -- on motor technology with a cleaner environment in mind through creative fuel and driving efficiencies. It attracts students -- 20 of the day's 37 registered vehicles were from colleges and BOCES districts -- who it encourages to actively participate as the region moves toward cleaner energy.

Photo: Flag man signals the start of an autocross run by a fuel-efficient car. Said one GGP spokesman: "The intent of the autocross is to demonstrate the handling and performance capabilities" of such vehicles.


Hazlitt breaks school record at 400 Meters

Watkins Glen High School senior Patrick Hazlitt broke a 33-year-old school record in the 400 Meter Run April 6 during a non-league track meet at Campbell-Savona against the host school and Wellsville High. Hazlitt posted a time of 51.4 seconds, breaking the 52.0 mark set by Shawn Callahan in 1984.

Patrick Hazlitt after his run at Campbell-Savona. (Photo provided)


Rotary honors Povoski as Student of Month

Odessa-Montour High School senior Collin Povoski was honored April 6 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its O-M Student of the Month for April. Povoski was introduced by Superintendent Chris Wood, who described the honoree as "a quiet leader with a positive attitude," "a strong communicator" and "a role model ... involved in everything" -- on the Summer Rec program staff, as a volunteer at school events, and in the Rotary-sponsored Interact program. Povoski, ranked sixth in his class with a 93 grade-point average, is a member of National Honor Society and Wood's O-M Leadership Council, and was an All-Star on the school's soccer team. He plans to attend Tompkins Cortland Community College in the fall for Liberal Arts.

Photo: O-M senior Collin Povoski at the Rotary meeting.

Foods of different lands -- such as French crepes, Norwegian meatballs, and Indian Samosa -- were featured at the International Night dinner prepared by members of the sponsoring Model United Nations class and their parents.


Other lands featured at International Night

The annual International Night held April 5th in the Watkins Glen High School cafeteria featured foods from other lands and speeches about various of those lands -- including two talks by current exchange students Angelika Friis of Sweden and Moeko Oshima of Japan. Both were scheduled to leave after the dinner for a trip to North Carolina for Spring Break. Angelika is attending Odessa-Montour High School, and will return to Sweden about a week after graduation. Moeko, who is attending WGHS, will travel through the U.S. after the school year before returning home in August. Also speaking at Wednesday's dinner was WGHS student Enqi Lin, who was born in China before moving to the U.S.

Photo: Exchange students Angelika Friis of Sweden and Moeko Oshima of Japan.

Karen Herron, left, and Barbara Hubbell are community ambassadors for the Friends of the Watkins Library (FOWL). (Photo provided)


FOWL picks its annual Reading Ambassadors

WATKINS GLEN, Apirl 6 -- To celebrate National Library Week and National School Library Month, Friends of the Watkins Library (FOWL) have selected Karen Herron and Barbara Hubbell as community ambassadors. Maggie Field, Watkins Glen High School Library Media Specialist, has chosen Junior Ashley Caslin (right) as school district ambassador.

National School Library Month and National Library Week are an annual celebration of the contributions of our nation's libraries and librarians. All types of libraries -- school, public, academic and special -- participate. FOWL is an organization that supports the Watkins Glen Public Library.

Says FOWL: "When you see any of these ambassadors, ask them for information regarding membership in FOWL and how you can help in supporting your Watkins Glen public and school libraries. Memberships by area residents help sponsor programs for children, Books Sandwiched In, provide seasonal plants and flowers, give financial aid for computer classes, and provide financial support to unanticipated needs of the library."

The FOWL membership form can be found at the WGPL, the high school library, from the ambassadors, and at the following website: http://www.watkinsglenlibrary.org/

Photo in text: Ashley Caslin (Photo provided)

Enjoying free Ben & Jerry cones were four cast members of the recent Watkins Glen High School musical "Into the Woods": from left, Dakota Cole, Maria Brubaker, Scott Brubaker, Phebe Wickham.


Ice cream season arrives with free cones

It was Free Cone Day April 4th at Ben & Jerry's ice cream store in Watkins Glen -- its opening day of the season. A steady stream of customers were on hand, helping raise funds for this year's designated recipient -- the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club -- which had several members helping to scoop. Rotary will use the funds to help in its community service projects. Other ice cream outlets in the village are also open, including the Glen Dairy Bar, Great Escape Ice Cream Parlor and Colonial Inn -- all, like Ben & Jerry's, on Franklin Street.

Roche running for Steuben judge

Philip J. Roche of Painted Post announces his candidacy for Steuben County and Family Court Judge. Government.


Village Board celebrates mayor's birthday

Birthday hats and cupcakes were in evidence at the April 3rd Watkins Glen Village Board meeting, in honor of the 59th birthday that day of Mayor Sam Schimizzi. While only trustee Kevin Thornton was seen donning the celebratory hat, cupcakes were consumed afterward, although without a birthday song. The meeting, low-keyed, saw the board accept the resignations into retirement of:

-- Mark Specchio, Superintendent of Utilities, after 22 years with the village, effective June 30; and
-- Minard LeFever, Electric Department supervisor, after 34 years with the village, effective June 30.

Photo: Trustee Kevin Thornton, left, with a hat in honor of the birthday of Mayor Sam Schimizzi, right.

Congressman Tom Reed listens intently to one of his constituents following the town hall meeting in Tyrone.


Reed greeted by contentious Tyrone audience

Congressman Tom Reed held four town hall meetings April 1st, including one at the Tyrone Fire Hall, where he was challenged loudly by an audience of 130 people upset with the current moves by the government in Washington, D.C. Government.

Phebe Wickham as the Witch in WGHS's Into the Woods.


Into the Woods ends its 3-day run at WGHS

The musical Into the Woods -- presented by the Watkins Glen High School senior class and directed by veterans Tim and Michelle Benjamin -- was presented for a third and final time April 2nd in the school auditorium. It opened on March 31. The play followed a variety of fairy tale characters as they headed into the woods to fulfill their wishes, actions which led to haunting consequences. Songs included "Children Will Listen," "Giants in the Sky," "No More" and "Into the Woods." Features.

Photo: William Yeater as The Baker in Into the Woods.


Andretti to receive Argetsinger Award

Mario Andretti will be honored on Aug. 31 by the International Motor Racing Research Center (IMRRC) with the 2017 Cameron R. Argetsinger Award for Outstanding Contributions to Motorsports. Andretti.

Drive underway for Sheriffs' Institute

Sheriff William Yessman announces the start of an annual drive designed to help support initiatives of the New York State Sheriffs' Institute -- including a Summer Camp for economically challenged children. People.


Concrete at Park

This aerial shot from Tony Vickio's drone snapped March 30th shows concrete being poured for a visitor center at the Watkins Glen State Park near the park's concession shop. It's part of a $6.5 million project that is turning the previous parking area into greened landscape with improved amenities, and establishing a block-long parking lot across Franklin Street.


Schuyler receiving communications funds

Schuyler County is among counties statewide that have been selected to share $45 million in state funding to help enhance and support local emergency communications systems. Government.


Capital project wins voter approval in Watkins

The proposed $12.6 million Watkins Glen School District capital project was approved by voters March 28th, 245-196. The project features roof replacements, Elementary School renovations, improved exterior lighting at the athletic field bleachers, an additional tennis court, and the establishment of a synthetic turf football field and turf infields on the baseball and softball diamonds. "I continue to be amazed by this community and the support it gives to the school," said Superintendent Tom Phillips afterward.

Photo: At the voting site: the School Board meeting room.

Two anglers tried their luck under a Montour Falls bridge.


1st day of trout season leaves much to desire

Anglers were out along Catharine Creek April 1 for the first day of trout season, but early reactions showed disappointment. The current was heavy, muddying the water. "It's chocolate," said one man. "You can't see the fish. Maybe it will be better in a couple of days." Said another: "I think it's a lost cause." All reported meager results -- mostly no fish at all. "It would have been better in January," said a third man about the thaw that month. "But if we'd been caught fishing then, we'd have gotten the hook."

WGHS girls team honored

Watkins Glen girls basketball players Amanda Pike, left, and Mariah Gonzalez spoke at the March 27 Lions Club dinner at the Chateau LaFayette Reneau in Hector, where the entire state championship team was honored. Sports.

Alicia Learn kicks the ball ... into the hands of Sam Brubaker.


Kickball fund-raiser held at Glen Field House

A "WG Kickball Classic & Family Fun Night" was held Friday evening, March 24 in the Watkins Glen High School Field House. The event, sponsored by the Watkins Glen Faculty Association, featured a team of high school teachers against one with elementary school teachers. Also involved: kids' games, a gift-basket silent auction, face painting, concessions, a book exchange, and a 50-50 raffle. The goal: to raise money for Ronald McDonald House charities.

Photo: Isobel Scheffey was among the students on hand.

Baskets full of themed gifts (movie night food, beach toys, toiletries, etc.) were available in a silent auction.


Rachel Vickio, born in 1913, turns 104

A woman who her family says might be the oldest person in Schuyler County -- and who is certainly at least one of the oldest -- turned 104 March 24. Rachel Vickio, born in Schuyler County in 1913 and the eldest of nine children of Thomas and Christina Martino Filippetti, has lived in Watkins Glen her entire life. She married her husband, Nicholas, in 1945, and they raised their two children, Tony and Nicholas ("Chip"), in Watkins Glen. She resides now with her grandson Mark, his wife Betty, and her great granddaughter and namesake, Rachel. Last year, when she turned 103, she was asked for the secret to her long life, and recalled a visitor in her 50s who, while climbing stairs, said she wished she were 30 again. Rachel laughed and retorted that she wished she was 80 again. These days, says a family member, Rachel "still makes meals, plays with her great grandchildren, writes to her loved ones, and is even active on Facebook to keep track of our family all over the world." A family celebration was held Sunday, March 26.

Photo in text: Rachel Vickio (Photo provided)


Glen police car towed after odd vehicle stop

A motorist faces numerous charges in a March 23 traffic-stop incident in which a Watkins Glen police car was disabled and three other cars struck, and which was followed by a high-speed chase. Government.

To view a Facebook video of the incident in Watkins Glen, click here.


Cuomo adding funds to budget for DSPs

State budget negotiations have resulted in an agreement by Governor Andrew Cuomo to provide increased funding in the final 2017-18 state spending plan to compensate direct service professionals for the work they do to support people with disabilities. Government.


Rotary honors Bryington as Student of Month

Odessa-Montour High School senior Cameron Bryington was honored March 23 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its O-M Student of the Month for March. Bryington was introduced by teacher Pete Fitch, who described the honoree as "hard working" and "a bright young man who others look to for help." Bryington, a member of the school's bowling team and a member of Tech Club, said he plans to attend Corning Community College and then the University at Buffalo, studying engineering "with a focus on the mechanical and aerospace aspects of it," with the goal of a job at either Lockheed Martin or Boeing.

Photo: Cameron Bryington receives his Student of the Month plaque from Rotary Club president Bill Phoenix.


Man indicted on perjury, contempt charges

A Town of Montour man, Gary Kline, 61, is indicted on perjury and contempt counts in connection with a recent trial in Schuyler County Court. Officials say the charges stem from Kline's jury service on a rape case that ended in a hung jury and mistrial. Government.


WGHS holds annual Spud Run on a sunny day

More than 100 runners -- young kids, older kids and adults -- took part March 21in the annual Spud Run at Watkins Glen High School. The event, normally held on or closer to St. Patrick's Day, was delayed from last week by the weather. Tuesday was sunny and bordering on warm as participants ran from -- and to -- the area in front of the school's Field House, with two laps around the school in-between. WGHS cross country runners were the top finishers, with Gabe Planty first, Aaron Planty second, Shawn Rutledge third and Sam Hanley fourth. The top female finisher was cross country's Julya Slater.

Photo: Teacher Sam Brubaker and his daughter Sydney, a fifth grader who finished 38th in the Spud Run, well ahead of dad.

Village elections held in Odessa, Burdett

There were no surprises in the March 21 village elections in Odessa and Burdett. With no opposition -- and no write-in campaigns -- the following were elected:

Odessa -- 34 votes:
Mayor Keith Pierce: incumbent, 33 votes
Trustee Robin Thoman: incumbent, 30 votes
Trustee O. Anne Centurelli: newcomer, 32 votes
Justice Ron Goossen: incumbent, 32 votes.

Burdett -- 25 votes:
Mayor Dale Walter: incumbent, 17 votes
Trustee Linda Arcangeli: incumbent, 17 votes
Trustee Judith Mangus: incumbent, 22 votes

Hannah Morse is congratulated by her basketball coach, Alicia Learn, during distribution of award certificates Monday night.


State champs, other WGHS athletes honored

Members of the state champion Watkins Glen girls varsity basketball team were honored March 20 at a meeting of the Watkins Glen School Board along with other outstanding WGHS winter athletes: Patrick Hazlitt and Jacob Carocci from Indoor track, Kameryn Sheldon from wrestling, and Aidan DeBolt from swimming. Those four, along with each member of the girls basketball squad, received a school district Outstanding Athletic Achievement Award from his or her respective coach. The girls squad: Ryanna LaMoreaux, Hannah Morse, Makenna Fraboni, Clara Chedzoy, Amanda Pike, Katlyn Kernan, Emmie Bond, Taylor Kelly, Mariah Gonzalez, Julia Reilly, Mikenna Ayers, Kendra Larson and Jazmin Shea.

Photo in text: Patrick Hazlitt with his coach, Kelly Sterner.

The Watkins Glen girls celebrate after their last-second victory. (Photo provided)


Watkins Glen rallies, wins state title at buzzer

The Watkins Glen girls varsity basketball team rallied from a 16-point fourth-quarter deficit March 19 and scored at the buzzer on a baseline floater by Hannah Morse to defeat Port Jefferson 65-63 for the Class C New York State Public High School Athletic Association championship. The title, the first for the Watkins Glen girls, saw Amanda Pike score 17 points, including 13 in the second half. Emmie Bond scored 12, while Taylor Kelly and Clara Chedzoy scored 9 each, Morse and Mariah Gonzalez 8 each, and Ryanna LaMoreaux 2. Sports.

Watkins Glen Athletic Director Rod Weeden posted the winning shot on Facebook. See it here.

And for a video posted by the NYSPHSAA, click here.

John Coates and Hannah Rosier perform a duet in Honk!


Honk! ends its 2-day run at Odessa-Montour

The musical Honk! -- presented by the Odessa-Montour Fine Arts Boosters and with roles filled by O-M students -- completed its two-day run with matinee and evening performances March 18 in the school's Fetter-Brown Auditorium. The play is a story about a duckling named Ugly who doesn't fit in with the rest of the barnyard poultry and turns mistakenly to a villain, the Cat. He escapes the Cat's clutches, gets lost and encounters a goose squadron leader and other memorable characters, including a bullfrog who tells him "Someone's gonna love ya -- warts and all." And at the end, someone does.. Play.

Photo: Noah Brewster portrayed Drake in Honk!

Flames shoot out of a structure on Shaffer Road near Newfield.


Fire extensively damages Newfield-area home

The Odessa Fire Department was called out Thursday night, March 16 at about 11:30 to assist the Newfield Fire Company battling a blaze at 1399 Shaffer Road near Newfield. Also on hand were the Enfield, West Danby and Community fire departments. Firefighters worked for two hours to bring the blaze under control. It destroyed a wing of the home, and left the rest damaged.

A slot car track was part of the model car show at the International Motor Racing Research Center in Watkins Glen. At the table on March 17 were, from left, featured weekend speaker Frank Spena; Dave Van Duzer, co-owner of a slot-car shop in Horseheads, and photographer Angelo Lisuzzo.


Annual Model Car Show concludes at Center

The 4th Annual Model Car Show at the International Motor Racing Research Center in Watkins Glen started March 17 and continued through March 19. Featured March 18 was a talk by Frank Spena, a professional slot car racing champion. Details on Sports.


Parking lot work underway across from gorge

Work has begun (above) to prepare the parking lot at the corner of Franklin and 10th Streets in Watkins Glen for use by visitors to the Watkins Glen State Park across the street. With the demolition recently of structures on the east end of the street, workers have dug out much of the parking lot base, reportedly for the placement of gravel and a drainage system. Parking has been eliminated on the gorge side of Franklin, where a greenscape is being developed -- all part of a $6.5 million state project.


Rotary honors Hazlitt as Student of the Month

Watkins Glen High School senior Patrick Hazlitt was honored March 9 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its WGHS Student of the Month for March. Hazlitt was introduced by teacher Sam Brubaker, who described the honoree as a "hard working, respectful, dedicated student" and as "a man of high character and one who gives back to his community" through work with Seneca Santa, the Catharine Valley Trail Half Marathon and the United Way dinner. Hazlitt, who led the WGHS cross country team to a state title this year and recently placed 7th in the state in the 1600 Meter Run, is a member of the National Honor Society and Student Council, and was a member last spring of the Top Drawer 24 team of outstanding scholar-athletes sponsored annually by this website. He will attend the University at Buffalo, where he said he was recruited to run cross country, indoor track and outdoor track -- a future he called "exciting."

Photo in text: Patrick Hazlitt at Rotary.

Student William Yeater sings "Impossible Year" during concert.


Student talents showcased at WGHS concert

Student musicians from the 7th through 12th grades took the stage at the Watkins Glen High School auditorium Wednesday night, March 8 for a concert demonstrating their abilities and what they had learned from three visiting artists. Schools.


Capital project outlined; Summer Rec a 'go'

Watkins Glen School Superintendent Tom Phillips -- speaking at the March 6 School Board meeting -- outlined the $12.6 million capital project heading for a March 28 vote of district residents. He described its need, its three phases, and its 80.9% state aid. Only one question was asked by a resident on hand to listen: Why is the vote on March 28 and not in May with the budget? Said Phillips: "This is separate and apart from the budget" because "I didn't want people confused" by having to vote on the two issues at once.

Phillips also said that Cargill has approved a $15,000 grant for the Summer Rec program, which the school district and village of Watkins Glen have been trying to keep in operation. "So it's pretty much a 'go' right now. That is huge," he said.

Also: it was announced that three board seats are up for grabs for three-year terms in the May election -- those now held by Gloria Brubaker, Keith Caslin and Kris Clarkson. Potential candidates can pick up petition packets at the district office; deadline for submission is April 17.

Photo: Superintendent Tom Phillips prepares to present a powerpoint program on the proposed capital project.

Board meeting summary can be found here.


O-M hosts Exceptional Seniors games

The annual Interscholastic Athletic Conference Exceptional Seniors basketball games -- bonus games for players whose high school basketball careers have concluded -- were held Tuesday night, March 7 at Odessa-Montour High School.

In the girls game, the North players beat the South 54-46, while in the boys game, the South -- with two Watkins Glen representatives, Connor Seeley-Ion and Max Schimizzi -- came from behind to defeat the North, 87-79.


Left: O-M was represented on the South squad in the girls game by Sage Garrison, left.


Home a 'total loss' after Hornby Road blaze

An uninsured home on the Hornby Road in Monterey was, in the words of one official, "a total loss" Saturday morning after a blaze that started in the chimney. The alarm came at 10 a.m., with fire calls going out to the Monterey, East Campbell, Bradford, Burdett, Beaver Dams, Tyrone, Watkins Glen and Montour Falls departments. Schuyler County Emergency Management, state troopers, Sheriff's deputies and AMR Ambulance were also called. "Initial reports," said one official, "had an occupant still in the structure. He was safely evacuated. Water had to be trucked from the Watkins Glen International race track over five miles away," and additional tankers were requested. An attached garage was saved. Firefighters were on the scene for three hours "on a very cold day," the official said.

Photo: Firefighters battle the blaze. (Photo provided)


27 years later, Monks gets championship ring

Former Odessa-Montour High School wrestling standout Troy Monks, a three-time Section IV champion who went on to win a national title while wrestling for SUNY Cortland, finally receives a ring for that Division III championship. See story here.


Hazlitt wins 1600 heat, places 7th at States

Watkins Glen High School senior Patrick Hazlitt broke his own school record in the 1600 Meter Run, won his heat and finished 7th overall among public school runners and 8th among public school and Catholic runners March 4th at the New York State Indoor Track Championships on Staten Island. Hazlitt, who ran a time of 4:21.06, was also presented with the Section IV Sportsmanship Award at a morning ceremony.

Left: Patrick Hazlitt at States.


Collins inducted into Section IV Hall of Fame

Odessa-Montour alum Stefanie Collins was inducted March 4th into the Section IV Hall of Fame during a ceremony at the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena in Binghamton between sectional basketball title games there. Collins led O-M to a State Class D basketball title in 2001, when she was named the Class D State Player of the Year, and holds the all-time O-M scoring record with 2,204 career points. She played ball at St. Bonaventure University and has enjoyed a pro career in England and Europe for years. She was also the starting point guard on the 2012 Olympic basketball team representing Great Britain. Twenty-three people were inducted Saturday, including Elmira Notre Dame graduate and Olympic runner Molly Huddle and Candor graduate and basketball standout Megan Shay.

Photo in text: Stefanie Collins with her induction plaque


Fire levels old farmhouse on Hayes Road

Fire of undetermined origin destroyed a farmhouse on Hayes Road outside Montour Falls early Friday, March 3rd, bringing four fire departments to the scene. The structure, a two-story uninsured home with attached garage at 2510 Hayes Road, was reported on fire at 3:17 a.m. by its lone tenant, a man -- identified as a son of the building's owner, Ruth Hayes -- who was awakened by a smoke detector. Officials said the fire started in the area of the roof, and was thus above him; he raced outside and called 911. Firefighters from Montour Falls, Odessa, Watkins Glen and Millport responded to the scene, where they found flames 25 feet high upon their arrival. They were there for hours. Most of the building fell in on itself, into its basement, said an investigator. A portion of its framework remained. No injuries were reported. The investigator said the fire started at roof level in the area of the chimney, but that the cause is officially undetermined.

Photo in text: Framework of a portion of the structure was visible from the road later Friday.

Scenes of the Mardi Gras at the Watkins Community Center.


Humane Society holds 5th annual Mardi Gras

The Humane Society of Schuyler County's 5th annual Mardi Gras fund-raising party was held Feb. 25 at the Watkins Glen Community Center. Food and catering were donated by Nickel's Pit BBQ, and music was provided by Li'l Anne & Hot Cayenne (for the fifth straight year) and the Jess Novak Band of Syracuse. Patrons danced to both groups' tunes. There was also a silent auction with items donated by local businesses and individuals, caricature drawings, and a cash bar featuring local wines and craft beers. And as always, many of those in attendance wore masks, Mardi Gras-style.

Photo at right: Humane Society president Georgie Taylor

Li'l Anne & Hot Cayenne, one of two bands at the Mardi Gras.


SWCD bestows honors at its annual luncheon

The Schuyler County Soil and Water Conservation District showcases agricultural projects, presents Merit and Lifetime Service awards. Luncheon.


3 SWCD units combine forces on repair work

Soil and Water Conservation Districts from Schuyler, Yates and Chemung counties join together to repair and stabilize sections of the Keuka Lake outlet and Outlet Trail. Joint.


Rotary honors Crout as Student of the Month

Odessa-Montour High School senior Alyssa Crout (pictured at right) was honored Feb. 23 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its O-M Student of the Month for February. Crout was introduced by teacher/coach Greg Gavich, who described the honoree as "tough as nails" and "a very good student who takes her studies seriously." He said she is involved in numerous service organizations "and is president of virtually all of them," and is a member of Student Council and Interact, and vice-president of the Senior Class. She is a three-sport athlete -- volleyball, basketball and softball -- and an Honor Roll student. She plans to attend Corning Community College and enter the field of Nursing.

Map of proposed fast-food venture on vacant site in Watkins Glen where Pudgies Pizza once stood.


Developer tests water on fast-food venture

The Watkins Glen Planning Board on Feb. 22 heard from a representative of Kashyap Shah, who is interested in building a fast food restaurant on the now-vacant site that years ago held Pudgies Pizza. Shah -- the owner of the Franklin Plaza in Watkins Glen -- has an option on the vacant land, and wants assurances that he can obtain zoning variances to meet his needs before purchasing the property and building the business. For that and other items of interest at Wednesday's meeting, see Government.

Workers restore the Collier Stone to an upright position. (Photo by Tony Vickio)


Workers restore race course Collier Stone site

Watkins Glen International workers on Feb. 22 helped preserve a piece of Watkins Glen racing history by restoring the Collier Stone to an upright, solid position alongside the original Grand Prix course above the village. The stone, a native granite boulder, has a bronze plaque that says Samuel Carnes Collier (pictured at right) crashed there "while leading the Grand Prix 1950" -- a fatal accident in a Ferrari he had borrowed. His brother Miles, winner of the 1949 Grand Prix on the same course, never raced again, dying in 1954. The stone had in recent years been tipping and sinking. Tony Vickio, who snapped the photo above with his drone, said "Thanks to the WGI crew the stone now stands straight, marking a historic spot in the history ... of Road Racing in Watkins Glen."

The Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel presented a $25,000 check Feb. 22 to the Finger Lakes Chapter of the American Red Cross -- proceeds from the hotel's recent 6th annual Ice Bar celebration. From left: Hotel General Manager Carolyn Guyer; Finger Lakes Chapter board member Benita Nesbitt; Chapter Executive Director Brian McConnell; Chapter Major Gifts Officer Elizabeth Morrisey; and Hotel Sales Manager Liz Salamendra.


Ice Bar at hotel raises $25,000 for Red Cross

The Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel's "hottest party in the coolest town" raises $25,000 this year and has now generated $100,000 in its six years for the Finger Lakes Chapter of the American Red Cross. Business.


Above: Advertising pieces are among the ice sculptures at the Ice Bar event. (Photo provided)

Eric Hollenbeck addresses the Village Board, saying he would like to discuss the festival plans with them in the near future.


Village Board hears pitch on Film Festival

The Watkins Glen Village Board on Feb. 21 heard Eric Hollenbeck (right), a filmmaker and founder of the Finger Lakes Film Society, outline plans for the Oct. 20-24 Seneca Film Festival he is planning for Watkins Glen. He said he plans to screen films at The Glen Theater and hold events at other locales as a first step in attracting future film talent and production to this area, where they can take advantage of generous tax credits. Among his plans: utilizing talent in the high school. Hollenbeck, raised in Horseheads but a summer visitor to Seneca Lake growing up, says he recently returned to this area -- his "favorite place in the world" -- and hopes to spread his enthusiasm for it in the film community. He wants to make the festival an annual event: "I hope we can look back 50 years from now and see how big it has grown." His plan for October might involve a street closure -- "probably Second Street between the theater and Glen Mountain Market" -- and he urged beautification efforts at a couple of buildings he said need painting. "If I have to," he said, "I'll write letters to the owners offering to paint the buildings myself."

The Corning Museum of Glass will host a fundraiser for the Seneca Film Festival on Sunday night -- Oscar Night -- titled The 1st Annual Hollywood-Inspired Black-Tie Gala Celebrating The Academy Awards. See details here.


A message from our area's Assemblyman

Assemblyman Phil Palmesano takes a hard look at Governor Cuomo's Executive Budget proposal, and asks for your input on it. Palmesano.


Left: Assemblyman Phil Palmesano.


Project eases flooding risk in Town of Cayuta

State funding enables the Jackson Creek flood attenuation and fish habitat project to proceed -- the intent being to eliminate a flooding risk to nearby County Route 13. Project.

Legislator Barbara Halpin talks to Legislator Mark Rondinaro before the start of the meeting.


Legislators OK 10-year underwater license

Schuyler County Legislators on Feb. 13, at their regular monthly meeting, approved a 10-year license with the State Office of General Services for the use by the county of state-owned underwater land at Seneca Harbor Park and beneath the marina there. County Administrator Tim O'Hearn explained that land underwater is controlled by the state, and that before this license the county had a 25-year lease at the park that extended to 2016. The new license, for a shorter period of time, costs a total of $10,795.42. "It allows us to continue using the park -- and the marina and docks -- for public purposes," O'Hearn said.

Legislators also:

--Approved the hiring of a third Assistant District Attorney, Jeremiah King of the Rochester area, at an annual salary of $62,000, effective this week.
--Acknowledged the appointment of Kate Bartholomew as the Town of Montour representative on the Environmental Management Council for a three-year term.

Photo in text: County Attorney Steven Getman makes a point at the Legislature meeting.


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The result of work at the park on Friday, Feb. 10.


Work on State Park involves Indian Trail

Work on Feb 10 at the Watkins Glen State Park -- site of an ongoing, yearlong $6.5 million project that will transform the park entrance -- included carving out a path to, and up, the old Indian Trail, closed to hikers for years. Among the project goals, which include returning the longstanding parking area to green space and expanding parking across Franklin Street, is a reopening of the Indian Trail.


The Seneca Harbor Pier, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017: The wind was blowing, the waves were crashing, and the icicles were forming and growing.


Rotary honors Rong Lin as Student of Month

Watkins Glen High School senior Rong Lin was honored Feb. 9 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its WGHS Student of the Month for February. He was introduced by teacher Kelsey Wood, who said the honoree -- who came to this country from China four years ago and has been in her history classes for the past two years -- is "the most incredibly hard-working student" and has "been learning English while learning American history, American culture and American figures of speech ... He values learning in a way that is very unique." She said he is also on the varsity swim team, whose other members "love having him" there. "It has been a real privilege" having him as a student, she added, noting: "He is an amazing young man" who will do well in the world, and "is a true asset to the community." He plans to attend college in New York State.


O'Mara, Palmesano give update at Rotary

State Senator Tom O'Mara and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano paid their annual visit Feb. 9 to a meeting of the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club at the Watkins Glen Elks Lodge.

The event was held in conjunction with the Schuyler County League of Women Voters.

The two men provided an update on state politics, touching on: (Click here)

Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara, right, speaks as Assemblyman Phil Palmesano watches at Rotary session.

Drawing highlights the planned turf fields (the tan infield areas on the baseball and softball fields would be turf, too)


Watkins School Board OKs capital project

A $12.64 million project with "no impact on taxes" will go to Watkins Glen school district voters on March 28, the School Board decided Monday night, Feb. 6. The project includes elementary school and high school upgrades, a turf football field, turf baseball and softball infields, extensive school roof repair work, and other improvements. The project, in four phases, was outlined to the School Board by the Hunt engineering firm's Director of Architecture, Jeffrey Robbins, pictured at right. Schools.

Alfredo Garcia of Elmira poses on a large ice chair, a popular spot for pictures and centrally located among the ice sculptures.


Annual Ice Bar concludes at Hotel

The Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel's mid-winter Ice Bar featuring ice-sculpted bars, ice-sculpted advertising signs and a large ice chair, ended its 3-day run Saturday night, Feb. 4. The event was sold out Friday and Saturday nights.

Left: Visitors could sample wines and various foods at the Ice Bar gathering.

One of the ice bars set up to distribute drinks behind the hotel.


Man faces multiple charges following rollover

An Indiana, Pa. man was charged with multiple driving offenses after his pickup truck crashed and overturned early Saturday, Feb. 4 following a traffic stop that he allegedly fled in the Village of Watkins Glen. People.

Green Arbor, Fish Stocking programs set

Every year -- and again in 2017 -- the Schuyler County Soil and Water Conservation District offers the Tree and Shrub Seedling Sale, also known as the Green Arbor Program, and the Fish Stocking Program. For details, click here.

Part of the act: Hanlon third grader Isaac Hough brandishes a plastic bat as he chases a Wizard who is hiding behind O-M Athletic Manager Greg Gavich.


Harlem Wizards pack gym on PFO's behalf

A capacity crowd filled the Odessa-Montour gym Tuesday night, Jan. 17 as the traveling and entertaining Harlem Wizards basketball team -- whose ads read "tricks, hoops and alley oops" -- met O-M faculty and administrators in a game full of fun that often interacted with the crowd. The event, organized by the B.C. Cate/Hanlon PFO, raised funds for that group's public events. Said a spokeswoman: The PFO wanted to provide "a community event," and that the turnout and support was "amazing."

Left: Dunks were plentiful; and the gym spectators, who packed the bleachers, were amused by the Wizard hijinks.

Tom Cook after receiving the Citizen of the Year Award.


Odessa Board honors Cook as Citizen of Year

Former Odessa Village Mayor Tom Cook (who served from 1989 to 1995), well-known locally for his construction business and a man often sought by the village for his knowledge and opinions regarding the water system there, was honored by the Odessa Village Board on Jan. 16 as the village's fourth annual Citizen of the Year. Cook, present at Monday's Village Board session to discuss water issues, had no idea he was being honored -- standard each year with the award presentation. The honor was previously bestowed on Charlie Haeffner, Jeff Parmenter and Bonnie Scott.


Rally: Hike Arc funds to offset wage increase

Rally participants at the Arnot Mall call on Governor Cuomo to increase state support for human-service agencies to help offset the effects of the minimum-wage hike. People.

Left: At the rally.

Schuyler Legislature Chairman Dennis Fagan left, and Legislator Mark Rondinaro at Monday night's meeting.


County to take Cultural Center under its wing

The Schuyler County Legislature will meet in special session on Jan. 23 to approve a lease agreement to oversee the public-use portion of the renovated Middle School on Decatur Street, in the building's auditorium and former gym. County Administrator Tim O'Hearn (pictured at right) told the legislature at its monthly meeting Monday night -- and an hour earlier told the annual Project Seneca meeting at the Harbor Hotel -- that once the lease is signed with the Two Plus Four management firm and the county assumes oversight, a Request for Proposals will be issued to find professional management to bring in cultural events at the former school -- thereby enhancing options for tourists. That will lead to "more feet on the street" in Schuyler County and increased traffic for local businesses, he said, as "somewhat of a cultural void" is filled.

About 60 people were on hand to hear about area projects under way or envisioned under the Project Seneca umbrella.


Project Seneca session outlines projects

The annual meeting Monday of Project Seneca -- the name that serves as an umbrella for millions of dollars worth of water treatment, infrastructure, traffic, recreational and other enhancements aimed at improving life and tourism in Schuyler County -- attracted about 60 people, many of them community leaders, to the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel. With Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development Executive Director Judy McKinney Cherry serving as emcee, several officials took the podium to describe progress on various projects, most notably the regional wastewater treatment plant on the canal, a facility that will serve both Watkins Glen and Montour Falls. Other projects, some nearing completion and some still concepts: a kayak and canoe project on Seneca Lake; a downtown revitalization initiative for Watkins; Montour Falls canal dredging; a Business Improvement District for Watkins; a boutique hotel in the Chamber of Commerce building; and the Seneca Terrace Apartments on the hill above the Elks Lodge, with expected completion in the summer.

Photo in text: Dan Bower of Hunt Engineers, who described the progress on construction of the Watkins Glen Brewery Vacation Rentals in the old frozen food locker building on the north end of the Watkins Glen business district. Expected completion date: April 2017.


How the Masonic mural came to be

Myrtle-Jefferson Lodge No. 131 tells how the mural on the east wall of its Masonic Temple in Montour Falls was created last summer. People.

Members of the Montour Falls Village Board listen at Thursday night's meeting. From left are Trustee Phil Smith, Mayor John King and Trustee Steve Lawton.


Rumor put to rest: No gas-storage stance

A rumor that had spread -- that the Montour Falls Village Board was going to vote in favor of the Crestwood LPG storage plan -- drew 20 people to the board's meeting on Dec. 15. But there was no resolution, and no position. "We haven't discussed the issue," said Mayor John King. "We're neutral on the subject. I don't feel we have the expertise" to issue a vote on it. "We don't even know what the residents of Montour Falls think on the subject ... We're not prepared to have a resolution on Crestwood, period."

One visitor, Michael Warren Thomas of Rochester, a radio personality and steadfast LPG storage opponent, said that "to be neutral would seem to go against what's best" for Seneca Lake, which project opponents worry will be ruined by an LPG accident. Another person, Marcia Douglas, presented the board with a sample resolution in opposition, much in the style of one passed a couple of years ago by the Watkins Glen Village Board. And county legislator Michael Lausell, also an opponent, said that even with amendments made to the storage plan, "there is still the issue of cavern integrity," salt caverns being the storage of choice in the LPG plan. When asked by resident Tom Weidemann if the village populace would be surveyed should the board decide to vote on a resolution, King said: "That's the best way. Can we close this subject?"

Photos in text: Michael Lausell and Michael Warren Thomas

Legislator Michael Lausell, left, and Chairman Dennis Fagan.


Fagan re-elected as Legislature chairman

The Schuyler County Legislature, at its annual organizational meeting January 4th, named incumbent chairman Dennis Fagan to another year in the post. There was no competition, although Legislator Michael Lausell criticized Fagan for his consistent support of the Crestwood energy firm's LPG storage proposal, something Lausell has staunchly opposed. Legislator Jim Howell in turn weighed in on Fagan's side for the solid economic footing on which the county finds itself. The vote re-electing Fagan soon followed.


Board topics: safety, special-needs student

The Watkins Glen School Board discusses the need for medical personnel at sporting events, and hears from the parent of a special-needs student. Board.

Left: Supt. Tom Phillips.

For a district summary of the Board meeting, click here.


This website has now operated for 14 years ...

The Odessa File was launched on Dec. 29, 2002 -- a day (I like to tell people, and which is true) on which it received three visitors, two of them being me. Much has occurred since, but little (I think) has changed about The File. And I mean that in a good way. To those who have helped keep it afloat, I thank you. I hope everyone -- members of our Schuyler County family -- continue to find it both useful and enjoyable.

--Charlie Haeffner, Editor & Publisher


Rotary honors Wickham as Student of Month

Watkins Glen High School senior Phebe Wickham (right) was honored Jan. 12 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its WGHS Student of the Month for January. Wickham was introduced by teacher Maggie Field, who lauded the honoree's dedication and skill in video production at the school and her participation in school plays, as a photographer for the yearbook, and as a lifeguard.

Wickham, a member of National Honor Society, a High Honor student and a self-taught piano and ukulele player, hopes to attend college in the East to study film, a field she says she loves.


Man, snowmobile pulled from Cayuta Lake

An Alpine man was pulled from Cayuta Lake in Alpine Sunday, Jan. 29 after he fell through the ice while riding a snowmobile on it. Investigators said Wayne Simpkins had driven the snowmobile onto the lake when it fell through the ice a short distance from shore. He was pulled from the water by rescuers and transported to Robert Packer Hospital. The snowmobile was also pulled from the water.

The Odessa Fire Department, Schuyler Ambulance and the Schuyler County Sheriff's Office responded. The Sheriff's Office urged everyone "to use extra caution in the area of any ice-covered waterways due to the warmer temperatures."

A view of the Watkins Glen State Park entrance photographed Jan. 27 from a drone shows the parking area ripped up and heavy equipment at work. (Photo by Tony Vickio)


Work under way at Glen State Park entrance

The parking lot off of Franklin Street leading to the Watkins Glen State Park gorge has been ripped up as work has begun on the overhaul of the entrance area. The $6.5 million project announced almost a year ago will relocate the parking away from the gorge, creating a less congested and more welcoming approach to what is a leading Finger Lakes tourism destination. The former parking area will be returned to green space, as it once was, and new park amenities will be created, including a visitor center. Parking will be across the street in space now occupied by a dirt lot and by properties yet to be cleared.

The Stamp family's Lakewood Vineyards was honored with the Chamber's Leader in Business Award. Present from Lakewood at the Jan. 20 gala were, from left, Chris, Liz and Beverly Stamp.


Chamber holds its annual Winter Gala at hotel

The annual Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce Winter Gala on Jan. 20 at the Harbor Hotel featured a social hour, dinner, keepsake photos, live and silent auction packages, a wine raffle, live music (by Top Shelf), dancing, a blackjack table, and programs honoring various Schuyler notables. Among the honorees were Jeff and Linda Confer (right), recipients of the annual Community Spirit Award; Lakewood Vineyards, recipient of the Leader in Business Award; Susan Silhan of Selah Yoga and Music, recipient of the Chamber's Ambassador of the Year Award; and the hotel general manager, Carolyn Guyer, recipient of the Max Neal Award for dedication to and support of the Chamber's efforts.

Photo in text: Community Spirit Award winners Jeff and Linda Confer at Friday's gala.

At the gala, from left: Max Neal, Jim Howell, and Betty Vinti.


Rotary honors Frasier as Student of Month

Odessa-Montour High School senior Kyle Frasier was honored Jan. 19 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its O-M Student of the Month for January. Frasier was introduced by O-M teacher Russ Gardner, who said the honoree -- a High Honor student, a member of the school swim team and a member of "outside organizations like the Future Farmers of America" -- has a "positive outlook" that makes him "the kind of student that teachers love to have in the classroom, the kind of student we want in our schools, the kind of person other students want on their team." Frasier, who works on the Hoffman farm, hopes to have his own farm one day. He is undecided about college, but said that if he goes, it will be to Morrisville State for its agricultural program.

Photo in text: Kyle Frasier at Rotary Club, with teacher Russ Gardner watching in the background.


Community leader Jean Argetsinger dies

Schuyler County Hall of Fame member Jean Argetsinger, the widow of Cameron Argetsinger and a community leader in Watkins Glen for decades, dies at her home at the age of 97. Argetsinger.


Left: Jean Argetsinger


O-M volleyball coach Kayla Kelly, left, and honoree Paxtyn Brown, who was a captain on the volleyball team this year.


Brown honored as Rotary Student of Month

Odessa-Montour High School senior Paxtyn Brown was honored Dec. 15 by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its O-M Student of the Month for December. She was introduced by school librarian Kayla Kelly, who has been Brown's varsity volleyball coach for two years. Kelly said the honoree -- president of her class, ranked 5th academically, and a member of the National Honor Society -- is "a student who will go above and beyond; someone you can always count on for help. She is an all-around great student and person." Brown plans to attend Daemen College.

The view Tuesday night after the decorative lights were turned on in the courtyard outside the Seneca View Skilled Nursing Facility.


Seneca View holds annual Festival of Lights

Lights on the trees and fencing in the courtyard outside the Seneca View Skilled Nursing Facility -- as well as decorative lights inside -- were turned on Tuesday night, Dec. 13 during the Facility's annual Festival of Lights ceremony. The festival generates donations to honor loved ones and recognize family members or friends, or special events. Proceeds go to the Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary to support the hospital and Seneca View. The lights were turned on at a switch outside by Facility resident Kathleen Dempsey, assisted by Activities Director Sally Daniels.

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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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)



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


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Sponsors' Page

Check out our list of readers who have contributed to keeping this site going. Sponsors.

The number of visits to this site has been steadily growing -- more than 3,000 daily, and more than 20,000 a week -- as readers in 48 states and dozens of countries check out what's happening in Schuyler County.

Statistics are from an online tracking service, DeepMetrix Live Stats.


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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 2017
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869

(607) 594-3594

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