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is a life-changing experience
To the Editor on April 16:
If you’ve ever wondered how to host a youth exchange
student, the Watkins-Montour Rotary is here to answer that question.
My husband, Tim, and I wondered for a long time how we could host a
foreign student, and when I joined Rotary in 2005, we were so excited!
Here was the answer! Since then, we have hosted 10 students in all (and
counting). Students from Brazil, Chile, South Africa, Switzerland, Germany,
Japan, Taiwan. We continue to keep in touch with the majority of our
students (our international kids), and have seen several of them when
they returned to visit the U.S. When we “win the lottery,”
we will have many new countries to visit and homes to stay in.
What makes hosting a youth exchange student so rewarding? Well, for
one, they become one of your children – for now and forever. They
teach you about their culture and share foods and traditions and clothing
and language with you. In return, we help them with their English (at
which they become quite proficient), introduce them to American experiences,
share American holidays, and – as if they were a tourist –
show them around to all of our favorite attractions locally and throughout
NYS – and beyond, if possible. They generally are excited to soak
in anything new – new sports, new activities, new people, new
states or countries (i.e., Canada).
Just think about sharing the experience of a foreign student’s
first Halloween, American Thanksgiving and Christmas, New Year’s
Eve, 4th of July – and also prom, school trips, sports or other
activities they’ve never tried before, shopping malls, American
restaurants and foods, New York City, semi-professional hockey or baseball
games. And, if they’re from the southern climates – their
You learn so much not only about this new member of your family, but
also about yourself and your family. And you certainly learn just how
much American slang we all rely on to communicate!
This summer, the Watkins-Montour Rotary will be bringing in two new
exchange students – a boy and a girl – and we are now seeking
host families. Each family hosts for 3-4 months only, so the student
moves around to experience how different families live. You provide
room and board, rides to school and activities, parental oversight.
Rotary pays the student a stipend for expenses.
So, if you’ve ever wondered … it’s time to take the
first step. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
Michelle LaDue Benjamin
Proud Youth Exchange Host Mom
for supporting O-M baseball
To the Editor on April 15:
As a junior high school teacher and coach at Odessa-Montour
Central School, I want to take this opportunity to publicly thank parents
and local businesses for participating and donating their time, energy
and financial contributions to the Odessa-Montour Baseball Program.
On Sunday, April 12, the Varsity Baseball team offered
a chicken BBQ in order to raise funds for the program. The program is
in need of new equipment. Our student-athletes worked diligently at
serving the food to make it a success.
We are writing to express our deepest thanks for the recent
donations and generous gifts from Jerlando’s Restaurant and the
Blue Ribbon Diner. With their gifts and moral support we were able to
continue our mission as teachers, coaches, and student-athletes. With
their financial contributions they have demonstrated their deep commitment
to our work of education, athletics, and growth of the Odessa-Montour
Thank you for encouraging the players in our community
to participate in functions that will help bring about school spirit
Social Studies Teacher/Coach
on Opting Out
To the Editor on April 11:
State testing begins next week, and with it comes a big
decision. To test or not to test. This is a very important and personal
choice for many families.
Many of you may be aware of the “Opt-Out” Movement taking
hold across the state. The movement is a response to the overuse of
standardized tests in Math and ELA for students in grades 3-8. The tests
are used by the state to evaluate students, to judge teachers and to
compare school districts. Parents have the right to decide whether it
is in their child’s best interests to refuse to sit for 6 days
of standardized testing throughout the month of April. We respect the
rights of parents and guardians who refuse state testing. Individual
teachers are unable to advise parents about their right to refuse 3-8
state tests. However, the Watkins Glen Faculty Association wants to
share information to help you become better informed about the options
available to your family.
Those who choose to refuse upcoming state tests for their children
should know that their child should face no disciplinary repercussions
for their non-participation. Refusing the test does not affect academic
placement in remediation services or grade-level promotion. Families
have the right to insist on opting out of state exams regardless of
whether their district has planned for an alternative learning activity
during testing. Some districts allow students to read or complete school
work elsewhere on campus. Other districts, however, require students
to sit and stare at the tests despite your refusal. Parents have the
right to submit a letter informing their school of their intent to refuse
state testing for their child.
The Watkins Glen Faculty Association supports parents’ rights
to refuse if the standardized tests are not in their child’s best
interests. We disagree with sit-and-stare policies, and encourage the
development of alternative learning environments for students whose
families refuse state testing.
The over-reliance on standardized testing of students does not encourage
the kind of education that we strive to provide to the children of this
community. The state’s misguided use of these tests to evaluate
teachers, principals and school districts creates incentives to narrow
the curriculum to a one-size-fits-all, test-prep education. Our children,
our schools, and our communities deserve better.
President, Watkins Glen Faculty Association
For more information about parental rights and test refusal:
Q&A on Opting Out :
A list of common questions parents have about the concerns with state
Fact Sheet on Opting-Out of State Tests :
This attempts to clear up the misinformation by reviewing the federal
requirements for participation in the state assessments and potential
consequences of opting-out for districts, students and teachers.
Allies for Public Education :
This comprehensive site guides you through the steps of opting out,
contains letter templates, flyers, policy guides, and videos to help
you understand test refusals. Here the movement is explained in a simple
Also, by New
York State Allies for Public Education :
An explanation about how districts do not automatically lose funding
if many families choose to opt-out.
for addressing immediate need
To the Editor on April 9:
Schuyler Head Start would like to thank this year’s
Leadership Schuyler graduates who teamed up with Catholic Charities
of Schuyler County to conduct a food drive at Walmart in Watkins Glen.
The class collected donations of food items from shoppers, then donated
the food to Catholic Charities in an effort to relieve childhood hunger
in Schuyler County.
The day culminated with a delivery of all food donations
to Catholic Charities’ Schuyler Outreach Food Pantry. Catholic
Charities then contacted Schuyler Head Start because they knew we could
ensure that some of these food donations would be delivered to families
directly who may not have access to the pantry.
Leadership Schuyler is a program that strives to help
our community leaders and local businesses strengthen their knowledge
of community issues, facilitate positive problem-solving techniques,
and encourages them to take active leadership roles. Businesses and
local leaders recognizing the needs of our community is the first step
in that direction. There is an old saying that people cannot roll up
their sleeves to get to work if they are too busy wringing their hands.
So thank you again, Leadership Schuyler and Catholic
Charities, for recognizing and addressing an immediate need of childhood
hunger in our county. I am hopeful that through future ventures between
businesses and nonprofit collaborations we can continue to work together
on creatively solving issues facing our families that help lead them
The success of the children depends on these efforts.
Schuyler Head Start
underage drinking is critical
To the Editor on April 9:
Each April since 1987, the National Council on Alcoholism
and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) has sponsored Alcohol Awareness Month
to increase public awareness and understanding, reduce stigma and encourage
local communities to focus on alcoholism and alcohol-related issues.
This year's theme, "For the Health of It: Early
Education on Alcoholism and Addiction," is aimed at educating people
about the treatment and prevention of alcoholism, particularly among
our youth, and the benefits of providing early education to give kids
a better understanding of the impact that alcohol can have on their
Alcohol use by young people is extremely dangerous—both
to themselves and to society, and is directly associated with traffic
fatalities, violence, suicide, educational failure, alcohol overdose,
unsafe sex and other problem behaviors, even for those who may never
develop a dependence or addiction.
Adolescence is a time of heightened risk-taking as a
young person’s brain continues to mature until age 25. Therefore,
they may not be fully prepared to anticipate all the consequences of
alcohol use, such as the swift and devastating effects on the developing
brain, or being in a car with a driver who has been drinking.
Alcohol is the number one drug of choice for America's
youth, and is more likely to kill young people than all illegal drugs
Reducing underage drinking is critical to securing a
healthy future for youth and requires a cooperative effort from parents,
schools, community organizations, business leaders, government agencies,
the entertainment industry, alcohol manufacturers/retailers and young
For more information see:
-- Fact Sheet on Underage Drinking: https://ncadd.org/images/stories/PDF/factsaboutunderagedrinking.pdf
--Drinking Too Much Too Fast Can Kill You: https://ncadd.org/images/stories/PDF/DrinkingTooMuchTooFastCanKillYou-NCADD.pdf
--Council on Alcoholism & Addictions of the Finger Lakes—
http://www.councilonalcoholism.net Schuyler office: 607-535-8264.
Council on Alcoholism & Addictions
Mill Creek Center
Service set; singers sought
To the Editor on March 24:
The Schuyler County Council of churches will sponsor the
81st annual Easter Sonrise Service on Sunday, April 5 at dawn at the
South Entrance to the Watkins Glen State Park.
I will direct the choir, and am looking for singers. Rehearsals
will be this coming Sunday, March 29, at 3 p.m. at the Montour Falls
Methodist Church, and the following Saturday, April 4, at 3 p.m. at
Music and CDs will be provided. Please join us as we
make a Joyful Noise! For more info, you may contact me at 607-594-6565.
Mrs. Kim Laursen
Odessa-Montour Central School
an honor and a privilege
To the Editor on March 20:
To the residents of the Village of Watkins Glen, it has
been an honor and a privilege to serve as your Mayor and Deputy Mayor
for the past four years. We have enjoyed our community service and found
great pride in all that we have accomplished.
We are extremely proud of the fact that our Waste Water
Treatment Plant that is under a consent order from the DEC for polluting
Seneca Lake, our drinking water and our public swim areas, will be replaced
and relocated off our beautiful waterfront with a “state of the
art” facility. This project will benefit our environment, our
Village, the Village of Montour Falls, and our County for generations
to come. It is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we are so
proud to have played a role in bringing this project to fruition.
We wish the incoming Board all the best and hope they
find serving the public as rewarding as we have.
We would be remiss if we didn’t thank those who
came out and voted for us on Election Day. Your support is very much
Mayor Mark Swinnerton
& Deputy Mayor Scott Gibson
League's work is still not done
To the Editor on March 20:
In the wake of the recent election, the Board of Trustees
of Schuyler County Little League would like to say THANK YOU to Mayor
Mark Swinnerton and the Board of Trustees at the Village of Watkins
Very recently our league was in dire financial trouble.
Thanks to Mayor Swinnerton sharing our vision for growth at Clute Park
South, we were able to not only build a new field but also to build
a stronger and even bigger league (with growth to almost 230 participants
Unfortunately, our work is still not done. We still need
to continue what we started down there with the new field. We welcome
in the new Mayor of Watkins Glen and the new Trustees and wish them
all the best. It is our hope that the new Mayor and Trustees will share
our passion for promoting youth sports in our county. I hope they keep
in mind, as Mayor Swinnerton did, that Youth Programs are part of what
makes a Village attractive to prospective residents and adds value to
this already beautiful community.
accepting exhibit entries
To the Editor on March 19:
The Franklin Street Gallery is accepting entries for our
spring exhibit, Family Tree. The gallery will host an artist’s
reception from 5:00-8:00 p.m. on Arbor Day, Friday April 24th. Deadline
for entries is April 14th.
The first 50 patrons attending the reception will receive
a free sapling tree from the National Arbor Foundation and our reception
The exhibit is open to all media including: painting,
sculpture, photography and mixed media.
Only Finger Lakes artists are eligible to participate.
This is a judged exhibit where Best in Show and Honorable Mention receive
awards (lots of kudos) and cash prizes.
To learn more, see http://www.arcofschuyler.org/images/pdf/family%20tree-call.pdf
Contact me at the gallery if you have any questions.
Franklin Street Gallery
Wyatt Brower (left) and Jeremey Brown competed successfully
at the New York State powerlifting meet. (Photos
excel at powerlifting meet
To the Editor on March 3:
These are the results from a New York State powerlifting
meet held in Rochester on Saturday, Feb. 28.
--Jeremey Brown set two state records with a bench press
of 365 pounds and a deadlift of 550 pounds. He was named best lifter
of the day.
--Nicole Chaffee set two state records with a bench press of 175 pounds
and a deadlift of 265 pounds.
--Elexis Ameigh set two state records with a bench press of 80 pounds
and a deadlift of 175 pounds.
--Nancy Loughlin set two state records with a bench press of 100 pounds
and a deadlift of 165 pounds.
--Wyatt Brower took first place with a bench press of 180 pounds and
a deadlift of 315 pounds.
--Wrett Brower also placed first with a bench press of 140 pounds and
a deadlift of 250 pounds.
All the records were set according to age and weight.
These athletes left it all on the lifting platforms and
represented the Watkins Glen School District with dignity and class.
at SUNY Cobleskill, eyeing IC
To the Editor on March 3:
Hello. I have seen you put stuff on here about area school
alumnis in the past and wanted to catch you up on my daughter Maia's
accomplishments at SUNY Cobleskill, where she is in her first year.
She was on Dean's list for her first semester with a 3.8.
She also just competed at the NEAC swimming championships and placed
second in all three of her individual events (the 50 Free, the 100 Back
and the 100 Free) as well as leading two relay teams to second place,
the 200 Free Relay and the 800 Free Relay. She was named to the All
Conference Second Team for all five of these events. The team was in
second place overall.
In this her first season she broke three individual Cobleskill
swim records, the 50 Free, the 100 Back and the 100 Free, which was
a 25-year-old record she broke by swimming a 57.62, almost two seconds
faster than the record. She had PR's in all of these events throughout
the season, lowering her 100 Back time by more than 3 seconds. She also
was part of a 200 Free Relay record for Cobleskill.
She recently applied to Ithaca College and was accepted
to the Math Education program; in addition she received the President's
Scholarship worth $20,000. She looks forward to swimming with the Bombers
next year. I believe she has lived up to the honor of being a Top Drawer
24 honoree. Thank you.
set for March 12-14 run at O-M
To the Editor on March 2:
March is " Music in Our Schools Month," and
we have an amazing production of "Pippin" being presented
at Odessa-Montour school from March 12-14 at 7:30 p.m. and a Saturday
matinee on March 14 at 2 p.m. Twenty-five senior high school students
have been working long hours since New Year's with me and choreographer
Manley Gavich to prepare this "show within a show" recounting
the tale of Pippin, eldest son of King Charlemagne of France.
From the opening choral number "Magic to Do" to the unexpected
finale featuring 10-year-old Ben Campbell as Theo, you will enjoy upbeat
songs like "Corner of the Sky" (sung by actors John Coates
and Logan Barrett as Pippin), "Simple Joys" (sung by Leading
Player Manley Gavich and Emma Raymond) and "Right Track."
Pippin's grandmother Berthe (Brownwyn Stermer, Maggie Coates) will
lead the audience on a
delightful sing-along of "Time to Start Living," and Pippin's
stepmother Fastrada (Cheyenne Barrett, Dana Roberts) will amaze you
with her cunning rendition of "Spread a Little Sunshine."
King Charlemagne himself (Joseph Raymond) sings "War is a Science"
to explain his amazing prowess on the battlefield, and Pippin and his
lover Catherine (Rosemary Peckham, Sarah Norton) do their sweet "Love
Song" in beautiful harmony.
Tickets are available at the door beginning at 6:30 performance nights
for $7 student, $8 senior citizen, and $9 adult. "Pippin"
is presented with special permission from Music Theatre International
of New York, NY.
For more information, you may call the school at 607-594-3341.
Mrs. Kim Laursen
Odessa-Montour Central School
to Arc dinner vols, supporters
To the Editor on Feb. 21:
For those who braved the cold, there was plenty of warmth
and plenty of pasta at The Arc of Schuyler’s 3rd Annual Spaghetti
Dinner. The fundraiser was held February 16 at the Montour Moose Lodge
#426 in Montour Falls.
The event raised more than $2,000 through ticket sales and donations,
funds that will help The Arc of Schuyler provide important services
to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their
families in our community. A big thank you goes out to everyone who
worked hard to make this dinner a success and a lot of fun!
The Montour Moose and The Arc have partnered to hold a fundraiser dinner
for more than 30 years – a huge commitment - and the organization
has helped raise thousands of dollars for The Arc. I want to especially
thank Jay and Crystal Banks, our leaders for this event, Mike Donnelly,
and the many Moose volunteers who helped us in the kitchen and with
the cleanup. We sincerely appreciate the generosity of the Moose and
look forward to the continued partnership.
The students of the Watkins Glen High School Interact Club always do
an outstanding job – working hard, working fast, and working with
a smile on their face. It was great to see a group of students that
included youth with disabilities and their family members helping at
this year’s event. Not only did they volunteer, the Club made
their own donation to support The Arc! Thank you to all the students
and to their advisor, Nancy Ruda.
Finally, a sincere thanks to everyone who joined us for dinner, stopped
by for a take-out meal, or made a donation to The Arc. Even our 50/50
raffle winner, Tom Weidemann of Montour Falls, donated his winnings
back to The Arc to support a very important mission. It might have been
a simple thing to enjoy a spaghetti dinner, but your support means a
The community involvement at this event is fantastic! We look forward
to welcoming all of you and your friends at the 4th Annual Spaghetti
Dinner next year. Thank you.
Note: Don Stocum is postmaster of Watkins Glen and an active volunteer
in Schuyler County, serving on The Arc’s board of directors and
as chair of The Arc’s fundraising committee.
propane supportive, but ...
To the Editor on Feb. 8:
Until now I have been generally supportive of the LPG
storage project. I reasoned, what better place for propane than a mile
down. And, I don't want to be a hypocrite, I've used propane all my
life. After all, It's a rural fuel and we are surely rural.
In summertime, the shallow brine ponds will be full and
stagnant, as the caverns are at capacity with the propane awaiting wintertime
deployment. Many things happen with warm stagnant waters. Green algae
thrives in less saline water (our lakes), but halobacteria flourish
as salinity and summertime temperatures increase. The brine waters will
take on pink and red tints and give off putrid odors. It is also only
a matter of time before Brine flies (Ephydra Cinera and Ephydra hians)
are in abundance. It is their rapid breeding and short life cycle that
contributes to putrid odors on the shores of bodies of inland salt water.
For my friends and neighbors who are proximal to this project or downwind,
we can only hope that the company can and will chemically manage the
proliferation of insects and odors.
I've never been to a DEC "issues conference,"
but this project has so many aspects that directly affect us as a county
and community, that I believe I will go and listen. The Feb. 12 issues
conference may well be our last chance to weigh in and to have questions
answered and assurances given!
Concerned Village of Watkins Glen Resident
support the proposed storage plan
To the Editor on Feb. 7:
I make my living in the local tourism industry. The lodging
establishment I own is located just down Route 14 from the site of Crestwood’s
proposed propane storage facility. As someone who relies on the beauty
of the Finger Lakes region to drive visitors and customers to our area,
let me say without hesitation that I fully support the proposed storage
Of course, safety must always be paramount. However,
history, science, and regulators all tell us that this type of facility
will be safe. Propane has been stored safely in the Finger Lakes region
for decades. The New York State Geologist and Army Corps of Engineers
have both approved plans for the Finger Lakes LPG facility. Additionally,
the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has said that salt cavern walls
have the structural strength of steel, and has approved similar facilities
in this same salt formation on multiple occasions.
Unfortunately, there is a vocal minority of individuals
that would like you to believe otherwise. The author of a Letter to
the Editor published on this site earlier this week was the latest to
ignore the facts about this project. I, however, join thousands of residents,
businesses, and organizations throughout the Finger Lakes region and
across New York State who support this facility and believe that misinformation
should not get in the way of a project that is safe and will provide
important economic benefits to our communities.
By the way, if anyone is interested in learning the facts,
they should go to the project’s website at www.nypropaneadvocacy.com.
Owner, Longhouse Lodge
Jordan with money, arms
To the Editor on Feb. 6:
Three cheers to Jordan for stand.
ing up to ISIS by attacking their camps etc. and also
for executing the two prisoners that they held.
I hope that we support Jordan with the money and arms
that they need to defeat ISIS.
to all who helped Seneca Santa
To the Editor on Feb. 5:
A giant thank-you to everyone who made Seneca Santa, Inc.,
2014 happen. You provided a gift package for 317 children from 151 families.
Whether it be monies, time, or talent, it really is next
to impossible to list all the names that contribute to this wonderful
program. From the folks who participate in the Hazlitt Winery annual
fund raiser, to the people who make handmade hats and mittens or encourage
donations through their churches, to the volunteers who man the stations
and order supplies, and to the folks who show up every year to bag,
none of it would be possible without them.
Special mention and personal thanks go out to Hazlitt
Winery, the Watkins Glen Presbyterian Church, Tracie McIlroy and the
students from the Watkins Glen High School, Mary Coykendall and her
Girl Scouts, Bill Kennedy, Jen Geck and the firemen and women who deliver,
Frank Dudgeon, Brandon VanHorn from the Glen Dairy Bar, Josh Johnson
from the Glen Theater, Bill Tague from Jerlando's, and Advanced Family
Chiropractic for their contributions.
I sincerely hope that each and everyone of you know what
an impact your donation has on the hundreds of children who receive
a Seneca Santa package. You make it possible for Santa Claus to come
to Schuyler County every year. On behalf of all those children, thank
you and God bless you always.
reminder of LPG's dangers
To the Editor on Jan. 30:
Yesterday’s massive explosion of Liquefied Petroleum
Gas (LPG) that leveled a children’s and maternity hospital in
Mexico City brought unspeakably horrific images of mothers fleeing with
newborns and rescue workers searching for babies under the rubble of
what had been, just moments earlier, a place of safety and healing.
One nurse and two infants lost their lives; 60 people were injured;
39 people remain hospitalized; 18 are listed in critical conditions;
and half of the victims are babies. One infant was burned over 80 percent
of its body.
Gas Free Seneca and We Are Seneca Lake express our sorrow and deepest
condolences to the victims, families, first responders, and the health
care professionals who oversaw a hasty evacuation in the moments before
the blast, and, in the attempt to save lives at their own peril, were
nevertheless forced to leave behind babies in their care.
We express our admiration for the Red Cross, which promptly sent 23
ambulances and 40 rescuers to the scene.
While details of the blast are still emerging and we are waiting to
learn more, this accident, prompted by a gas leak, is a tragic reminder
that these fuels carry inherent dangers and that the risks of burying
hundreds of millions of gallons of LPG in the old salt caverns beside
Seneca Lake are too great.
We recommit ourselves to our ongoing efforts to stop Seneca Lake from
serving as a mass storage depot for LPG and call upon Governor Cuomo,
the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and Senators
Schumer and Gillibrand to join us in these efforts. There should be
no possibility that the horrific scenes in Mexico City will be replayed
in New York’s Finger Lakes.
We Are Seneca Lake
and Gas Free Seneca
effort to scapegoat teachers
To the Editor on Jan. 28:
Governor Cuomo is no friend of public education. In fact he’s
a schoolyard bully. And like any bully he needs to belittle and attack
others to feel empowered. His recent education proposals are a very
real and terrifying threat to our students, teachers, schools and democracy.
As a public school parent I am honestly offended by the way Mr. Cuomo
speaks about my child’s teachers. Recently, while driving in the
car, my six-year-old was exposed to Mr. Cuomo’s bullying tactics
when he said, “But we have teachers that have been found guilty
of sexually abusing students who we can’t get out of the classroom.”
Immediately, my daughter wanted to know what it means to sexually abuse
a student and why someone would do such a thing.
Mr. Cuomo’s words are part of an ongoing effort to vilify and
scapegoat our children’s teachers. His rhetoric is obscene and
nauseating, as is his related proposal to have teachers, based on accusation
alone, suspended immediately without pay. In essence: a guilty verdict
without the fundamental right of due process.
This is but one component of Mr. Cuomo’s anti-public-schools
agenda. Other weapons in his bullying arsenal include withholding school
funding until all of his demands are met, like increasing the emphasis
on mandatory state testing, narrowing the curriculum to teach to those
tests, and further decreasing local control of our schools by our democratically
elected school boards.
His reckless, dangerous, and anti-democratic war on teachers is a war
on my children and yours. Stand up and fight back!
Liam F. O'Kane
had erroneous statements
To the Editor on Jan. 28:
The Ryan McHugh letter of January 25 is ample evidence
of why Technical Professionals at NYS DEC should deal with the issues
related to Upstate's 30th energy-storage facility, and NOT members if
the general populace. It contains erroneous statements galore, which
I will correct here.
1. The cavity at Well 30 which had the rock-fall in 1967 was NOT "closed
in the '60s" as is stated, but rather continued in service for
LPG storage until 1984. Nor is the claim it "is already damaged"
valid. A rock-fall is merely a rock-fall and is "normal,"
and has no bearing on the cavity's mechanical integrity.
2. Said cavity is NOT being reopened to store "liquefied propane,
butane" as claimed, but ONLY Natural Gas, as recently permitted
by FERC. Again, it cannot be "the same cavern that was closed in
the ’60s" as-claimed, because it was NOT closed in the '60s!
3. The gas-compressors are not "incredibly loud."
4. The claimed "incredible amount of trucks are needed to transport
materials to and from the facility" is one of Gas Free Seneca's
favorite "Mythical Constructs" and is patently false. The
same LPG demand will cause the same number of truck trips, no matter
the origination point. But current market projections indicate most
LPG volume will be transported in and out by pipeline, advancing to
the terminals near Harford Mills/Ithaca and Selkirk/Albany.
5. The claims involving Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development
(SCOPED) are not even valid, but were mere items of discussion at one
time. The facility will enter Reading's property tax base and thus help
the whole county.
6. McHugh presents as if the 7,000 'tourism" jobs were of equal
economic stature to the 8-10 "LPG" jobs, but they are grossly
dissimilar. Full-time vs part-time; skilled-worker rate versus minimum
wage; with benefits versus no benefits; those are your differences.
One pays a mortgage and supports a family, the other doesn't -- and
might even draw unemployment or welfare benefits.
7. McHugh urges people to write the Schuyler County Legislature, implying
they are the regulatory agency. They are not, but the professionals
at NYS DEC are.
Only the screwed-up politics of New York state is what has prevented
this facility from already being in service several years. Probably
a suitcase full of money well-placed in Albany would have greased the
skids, but that is not the way it should be done, and the delay is certainly
evidence it was NOT done!
If you ever wonder why the majority of younger people have to find
jobs in other states (where prosperity DOES exist), there is no better
example than this 5-years-delayed project to show the dysfunction of
New York state.
I am currently in Idaho, where the low costs and relative prosperity
compared to New York are painfully obvious. Since I have seen "the
other side of the hill," I gladly tell anyone who will listen,
that for them to find cheaper education and better opportunity now,
GET FAR OUT OF NEW YORK! A New York Strip Steak here is $10-$12. Education
in the Philippines is 1/6th the cost inside New York, and that is with
the air fare included!
David A Crea, PE
Town of Reading, Salt Point Road
Watkins Glen, NY
tourism is not worth taking
To the Editor on Jan. 25:
In 1992 a gas storage facility in Houston started to leak,
until it eventually exploded, killing two. In 2001, gas leaked from
a salt cavern storage facility in Hutchinson, Kansas, causing explosions
as far as 7 miles away. A salt cavern collapsed in Louisiana in 2013,
which has since grown to a 29 acre-wide sinkhole. A salt cavern in New
York’s Finger Lakes region was closed in the ’60s because
a 400,000-ton rock had separated from its ceiling. Now in 2015, it is
the goal of Crestwood, a Houston-based energy company, to reopen an
abandoned salt cavern in Schuyler County, New York, to store liquefied
propane, butane and natural gas. In fact, it’s the same cavern
that was closed in the ’60s.
There are dangers to storing gas in salt mines, but even if there
weren’t, we still shouldn’t allow Crestwood to be here.
The compressors that are used to store gas are incredibly loud, plus
an incredible amount of trucks are needed to transport materials to
and from the facility. As it stands, the Seneca Lake tourism industry
employs around 7,000 people and brings in over $40 million in state
and local taxes each year. Crestwood’s plan will only create about
8-10 permanent jobs, and the Texas-based company will not have to pay
any taxes on the gas they store here in New York either. Instead, the
Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development (SCOPED) was given
the one-time payment of $290,000, while a payment of $440,000 will also
be made to the county and school district annually.
As the noise and traffic increases, the beauty of this area will decrease.
The risk of losing the tourists who come to enjoy the splendor of the
Finger Lakes is not worth taking, especially when all we’re getting
is a yearly $440,000 payment. Using salt caverns as storage facilities
has a history of catastrophe, and the salt cavern Crestwood is going
to use is already damaged. Not only that, but by allowing Crestwood
to be here, we are also taking the risk of our neighbors’ losing
their livelihoods. These are risks we should not be taking. If you agree,
please take the time to call or write the Schuyler County Legislature.
Address: 105 9th Street
#6, Watkins Glen, NY 14891
Phone: (607) 535-8100
Village is a great place to live
To the Editor on Jan. 18:
I moved into the Jefferson Village about 5 months ago
and I want to say it is a very nice, clean, safe and secure place for
seniors to live. There is plenty of free parking and is also handicapped
It is in a good location -- one block from the lake and about a block
from the business district Plus Schuyler County Transit stops by here
several times a day.
The rent, which is subsidized, is based on your income, and is very
reasonable, as is the heat bill which is from the village electric.
The office staff is very helpful and easy to deal with. Beth, the manager,
and Anna, the case worker, are more than willing to assist with any
questions we may have. John, the maintainance man, keeps the place in
good condition and fixes any problems that may arise. Melida, the housekeeper,
keeps the place clean -- which includes the common areas (community
rooms, laundry room -- one on each floor -- and the trash/recycle area,
also one on each floor).
With the way some of the rents are in town, and the condition of some
of the apartments I've seen, we are fortunate that the viillage provides
this as a place to live. It is so much better than my last place.
So if you are a senior citizen and looking for a nice place to live,
give the Jefferson Village Apartments a try.
Jefferson Village Apartments
Let's not lose chance
with CCC branch
To the Editor on Jan. 18:
More than 100 years ago, Charles Cook and Montour Falls lost the race
for being the site of Cornell University. Let's not allow history to
repeat itself by missing the chance to locate a branch of Corning Community
College at the recently removed Shepard Niles building.
O'Mara isn't alone in
To the Editor on Jan. 18:
The incident with Senator Tom O’Mara being "baited"
and surreptitiously recorded is the third instance I know of where Gas
Free Seneca members or sympathizers have pulled that stunt.
The first instance was done to me alone at their 2nd “Kayak Flotilla”
in 2013, on the deck at Marina Bar & Grille, where I was sipping
a Bloody Mary and watching the kayakers get into the water to see how
many fell out (as did happen at the first Flotilla). A so-called “reporter”
from the Ithaca PBS Radio Station came over and asked for some comments
“from a Crestwood spokesman.” He casually set a recorder
upside-down in the middle of the table, but at no time advised me
that the thing was running. Nevertheless, I suspected it.
I explained to him that I was not a Crestwood spokesman, just an interested
private citizen, and he could have my private citizen comments, but
that was all he’d get. He proceeded to ask me a few questions,
and I proceeded to tell him what a worthless exercise it was to organize
these “Kayak Flotillas,” but I was thankful for the humorous
diversion they were providing that afternoon. I spoke perhaps 4 or 5
minutes, then he had enough and left.
Shortly thereafter, his recording (barely audible -- the guy flubbed
the job!) was posted by Gas Free Seneca on their Facebook Page, in some
misguided attempt to embarrass me. It was removed after a few days.
But I am reminded that I still need to speak to that so-called reporter’s
boss about his underling’s “ethical shortcomings.”
Then about 3 months ago, (Crestwood representative) Barry Moon and
I were giving a short presentation to the Government Affairs Subcommittee
of the Yates County Board of Supervisors. As we sat at a table preparing,
some idiot came and set a super-sensitive microphone up on the floor
directly behind and between us, as if we didn’t know what they
were up to. They also had a camera trained on us and videotaped us the
whole time. We had nothing to hide, and I don’t know what they
expected to accomplish except perhaps intimidate us.
So, the lesson is: Gas Free Seneca’s leaders, members and sympathizers
not only exhibit hypocrisy from using gas and LPG themselves, while
trying to deprive others of it, but they will stoop to chicanery and
unethical conduct to try to intimidate opposition, or just a person
like me who works to “keep them honest.”
I applaud Mr. Ted Marks for recognizing their duplicity, though it
took quite a while to get overwhelming evidence, as the O’Mara
David A. Crea, PE (Chemical)
Video was particularly
To the Editor on Jan. 17:
Ted Marks’ vigorous defense of State Senator Tom
O’Mara misses the mark widely in one respect -- criticizing Gas
Free Seneca for reposting a link to O’Mara’s videotape-conversation-turned-rant
published by a newspaper, The Albany Times Union.
After the Times Union published the video and
explanation, the video was republished by a journalistic Who’s
Who of newspapers and news websites across the nation. For a few moments
last week, Tom O’Mara was probably more infamous than Justin Bieber.
Gas Free Seneca was simply doing what it has been doing
since its inception -- providing information about the dangerous gas
storage project at Seneca Lake and the people who support and oppose
it. In this case, O’Mara’s belligerent comment in the video
“I've had enough of you and your kind” (made in reference
to opponents of the Houston, Texas-based company’s gas storage
project) made the video particularly relevant for Gas Free Seneca to
provide as information.
Michael J. Fitzgerald
We now know O'Mara's
To the Editor on Jan. 17:
Mr. Marks' comment is misdirected regarding the news stories about
Senator O'Mara's recent outburst that was caught on video.
For the record:
Gas Free Seneca did not create the Tom O'Mara video.
Gas Free Seneca did not orchestrate the creation of the Tom O'Mara
For the past four years Gas Free Seneca has reposted news articles
pertaining to the gas storage issue on Seneca Lake on a regular basis.
This situation is no different.
What is different this time is we now know Senator O'Mara's position
on the issue. Gas Free Seneca, and scores of Senator O'Mara's constituents,
have repeatedly asked the Senator for his assistance in stopping this
threat to the Finger Lakes region. Up until the release of the video
in question, Senator O'Mara claimed to be "neutral" on the
gas storage projects. We now know his position and it is not one of
neutrality. Senator O'Mara supports the gas storage projects proposed
for Seneca Lake. We felt obligated to let people know this.
We believe it is unfortunate that the video has become such a divisive
issue for some. We also believe it is most important for all of us to
keep our focus on doing what we can to keep the gas storage threat at
bay. That is our plan. We hope it is yours as well.
Yvonne Taylor, Joseph Campbell, and Jeff Dembowski
Co-Founders, Gas Free Seneca
Disgusted with secret-recording
To the Editor on Jan. 14:
The only "thing" Tom O'Mara might have done
wrong is some of the language. I certainly would not have given this
underhanded sneaky person four minutes of my time in a darkened parking
lot, with my wife in the car, and not knowing who this nut-case was.
I compliment Tom for first saying who he is (Like the person didn't
know? He just wanted to get Tom's name on the recording) and then starting
to let the person talk at all, under those circumstances. Notice the
set-up person didn't identify himself.
Knowing that this was secretly recorded and is now being so published
by the Anti-LPG community makes me very upset with their tactics. While
I too am concerned about the safety and possible effects the proposed
facility could have on our area, I am disgusted that this group feels
this is the way to accomplish their goals. If they didn't have something
to do with it, then why are they making sure we all know about it?
You have lost my respect, Gas Free Seneca, as a group that possibly
cares about our community and have become self-absorbed in your own
personal agenda. You have totally lost track of realizing, as Martin
Luther King says, working together we can do it. I sure hope we can
Atwater Estate Vineyards
Editor's Note: Mr.
Marks refers to an incident reported on a blog site of the Times
Union newspaper of Albany, information of which was later disseminated
through emails by Gas Free Seneca.
for spreading the joy
To the Editor on Jan. 13:
Catholic Charities of Schuyler County is honored to be
a part of a community that cares for its neighbors in need.
past holiday season we had the opportunity to work with many businesses,
churches and individuals to combat poverty and help those in need work
We are especially grateful to those who helped us make
hundreds of families’ holidays a little brighter in their own
way: Boy Scouts’ Food Drive; FiberArts in the Glen Mitten Drive;
1st Annual Turkey Trot sponsored by Exercise Enterprise; Odessa-Catharine
United Methodist Church’s 15-week canned food challenge; Dandy
Mini Mart collecting donations; Seneca Santa gift bags for students
made possible by Hazlitt’s; St. Mary’s Youth Group for making
stockings; The Glen Theatre and its guests donating hundreds of food
items; Watkins Glen Interact Club hosting a teens’ personal care
drive; Corning Community College’s Hat/Mitten Drive; Walmart;
Montour Falls Moose Lodge; Labor of Love; Cargill for donating food
items; Tioga Downs for donating turkeys; St. Mary’s of the Lake
for allowing us to use their space; Watkins-Montour Rotary for donating
gifts; The Elks Club; Fund for Women and O'Susannah's Quilt Shop and
Upstairs Inn for hosting a Giving Tree for First Step Clients; Odessa-Montour
Interact Club and National Junior Honor Society Students; Area Churches;
the Mobile Work Crew and Volunteers assisting with the Christmas Giveaway
I am also profoundly grateful for our dedicated volunteers and committed
staff who worked with local businesses and individuals to adopt 116
families and provide Christmas gifts for hundreds of families. We could
not reach so many children and families in Schuyler County without working
together. Thank you for giving of your time, energy and resources to
help us meet the needs in our community.
We look forward to expanding these partnerships as we prepare to face
the challenges ahead in 2015. Thank you for your support and compassion.
Catholic Charities of Schuyler
Photo in text: From left,
Jessie Ketter (Catholic Charities staff), Susann Dugo (FiberArts), and
Nancy Brand (Catholic Charities staff) with donations from the FiberArts
in the Glen Mitten Drive. (Photo provided)
for the Fagan era to end
To the Editor on Jan. 5:
The Schuyler County Legislators need to do the right thing
for our community and elect a new chair at their morning meeting on
Wednesday, Jan. 7.
Whether you are for or against the proposed gas storage
project in Schuyler County, it's clear that Chair Dennis Fagan has effectively
galvanized the growing opposition to the proposal by Crestwood of Houston
with his relentless support of the project while also shutting out community
I doubt that galvanizing and strengthening the opposition
to the gas storage project was ever his intent. But it illustrates his
political incompetence so clearly that it should be difficult for his
legislative peers to endorse his leadership for one more year.
How could they possibly re-elect a chair who:
• Acted on behalf of the community by officially supporting this
major a project without ever consulting the community or the Legislature.
• Railroaded a controversial resolution through the Legislature
without due process.
• Clearly violated the New York State Open Meeting Law when he
locked 128 residents out of the hearing to debate the controversial
• Refused to recuse himself from voting on the flawed pro-gas
resolution, which would have deflated much of the controversy surrounding
• Continues to publicly state that the November election for the
Legislature proved a mandate of support for gas storage when he knows
that the numbers prove the opposite --- that Phil Barnes won on a split
vote and more people voted against him than for him. And that the trustees
of the Watkins Glen Village Board also voted against the gas storage
--- the board who represent the same population as District 2, Phil
I ask the County Legislators to take a stand and select
a new chair with a working knowledge of democratic rules of order, who
believes that if you follow the procedures set in place for representative
government, the end result will best serve the community.
It’s time to end the Fagan era by choosing a new
chair to lead our community and to start the healing process. And let
it begin on Wednesday.
was a philosopher, poet, essayist, farmer and social activist ...
To the Editor on Jan. 4:
In Jim Whiting's memoir, Analecta, Jim describes
his experience of starting a student newspaper at Watkins Glen High
School. He took the idea to Lucy Viglione and The Student Standard
was born. I had the privilege of co-editing the paper with Sam Argetsinger
(1952-2014) in 1969-1970, our senior year.
I first heard of Sam's passing on December 31st, the fifth anniversary
of the death of my sister Betsy. Ironically enough, that morning I dreamed
of letterpress halftone block cuts, which was what was used at the time
to produce photos in The Student Standard.
Sam was the Wendell Berry of Schuyler County, philosopher, poet, essayist,
farmer, and social activist. The following quote by Berry could have
been written by Sam Argetsinger: "Whether we and our politicians
know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and
she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice
than we do."
"Blessed are they which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea,
saith the Spirit , that they may rest from their labors; and their works
do follow them." (Revelation 14:13--KJV)
coaching basketball in NC
To the Editor on Jan. 3:
Conti was appointed head varsity coach of the Sanderson High School
girls basketball team in Raleigh, NC. Sanderson plays in The Capitol
8 conference, which competes in class 4A.
Shelly is a 2000 graduate of Watkins Glen High School
and a member of the WGHS Sports Hall of Fame. She played Division 1
basketball at Towson University in Maryland and at Lemoyne College in
Shelly is a special education teacher at Brassfield Elementary
School in Raleigh. As of right now the team has a record of 5 wins and
8 losses. The team is very young with 2 seniors and 8 sophomores. One
of her seniors has committed to play Division 1 at VCU University in
Richmond, VA on a full-ride scholarship.
The team recently played in an 8-team Christmas Tournament
in Raleigh and finished 4th. The tournament was won by St. Basil's Academy
out of Philadelphia. We thought maybe Shelly’s ex-teammates and
friends might like to know what she is up to. We have attached a picture
of her coaching at last week's tournament.
Sally and Sante Conti
believer in combining programs
To the Editor on Jan. 1:
As a student at Odessa-Montour and a proud athlete, I
would like to add my opinion to the recent letters concerning the combining
of Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour sports programs.
I was raised in Montour Falls and have grown up as an
Odessa-Montour Indian and have participated in sports around the area
for many years. This will be my 8th year swimming for Glen Gators swim
club and my 2nd year swimming on a varsity level for Odessa-Montour.
I have also played CVSA soccer when I was younger and will be playing
varsity soccer in the coming year.
From my personal experience I have never had conflicts
with any of the Watkins Glen athletes. I have been friends and teammates
with Watkins Glen students since I have been small, and there has never
been an issue over this “rivalry.”
I’m a firm believer in us combining sports programs.
Odessa-Montour has always been a small school with a big spirit, but
a big spirit doesn’t win you games, meets, matches etc. I competed
in our first swim meet against Watkins Glen in December. The meet came
down to the last race to make or break it, and we weren’t able
to pull it off because we were exhausted after a full meet with only
11 swimmers compared to Watkins Glen’s 17 swimmers.
We give it everything -- we have at each meet -- but swimming
is a sport that requires not only talent but also numbers. Odessa-Montour
has struggled to have the number of players needed to be competitive
or even compete at times. Swimming already competes with basketball
in the winter, which has always been a popular choice for many athletes
at Odessa-Montour, and this leaves us with a smaller selection of kids
swimming. This happens with a lot of sports at Odessa-Montour; it isn’t
just swimming, but also football, tennis, golf and wrestling.
I would like to agree with my friend Brandon Pike and
say I would rather win with Watkins Glen than lose alone. I believe
it's time for change, and Odessa-Montour needs to be willing to look
into this at least and give it a chance. I am here representing the
students at Odessa-Montour who want bigger opportunities, who crave
championship titles, and I would join with Watkins Glen.
Student Athlete of Odessa-Montour Class of 2018
shows county culture clash
To the Editor on Dec. 31:
It is not marked on any map, but there is apparently a
dividing line running up the middle of Seneca Lake. The real-life data-set
provided to me by the group “We Are Seneca Lake” indicates
this. This data-set is the "arrestees" (aka “Seneca
Lake Defenders”) who have blocked the Crestwood Gates to supposedly
stop an expansion of natural-gas storage capacity at the Seneca Gas
Storage facility on the west shoulder of Seneca Lake.
letter by clicking here.
David Crea, PE
Watkins Glen, NY
Glen students would rather
win with Odessa than lose alone ...
To the Editor on Dec. 28:
As a student of Watkins Glen, I would like to say that
I take offense to the accusations that were brought up on this Forum
page against Watkins Glen, its coaches, its faculty, and its students.
This opportunity that we have is a very positive one and
could lead to opportunities for the teens of Watkins and Odessa to progress
not only concerning athletics, but also socially. Our schools are a
mere 6 miles apart yet many of the students at either school do not
know many if any students from the other on a personal level. Yes, there
may be conflict between the students, but there is conflict between
students inside of each of our individual schools. The idea that we
should halt this endeavor of creating more opportunities for our students
due to the possibility of conflict is frankly preposterous.
From my personal experience I can say that I have never had a conflict
with a student of Odessa-Montour that was based solely on the fact that
we go to different school districts. I have swum with Odessa kids in
Gators and I have played Small Fry with them. Through this mixing of
students I have had the opportunity to forge friendships that far outlast
the sports season.
As Coach DeBolt had previously said, the Watkins and Odessa swim teams
shared a bus up to a swim meet and there was no animosity whatsoever
between the kids. Heck, while at the meet the teams would cheer for
one another. I am sure that the boys swim team from Odessa can vouch
to the validity of that statement.
By looking at the forum and being a student at Watkins Glen I have come
to the conclusion that the only people who have negative feelings towards
this are a small percentage of the folks from Odessa, and none from
Watkins Glen. I can confidently say that the students of Watkins would
rather win with Odessa than lose alone.
I think we all need to just take a chill pill and cool off before tapping
away at our keyboards producing only negative statements. As all kindergarten
teachers say: "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say
anything at all."
Happy Holidays, and Have a Prosperous New Year!
Student Athlete of Watkins Glen and Class of 2016
Sadye Halpin (co-adviser), Olivia Scata, Angela Hess, Samantha House,
Dana Roberts, Emelia Paulisczak, Méchel Wead, Paxtyn Brown, Logan
Barrett, and Holly Campbell (co-adviser) with gingerbread houses. (Photo
a gingerbread competition
To the Editor on Dec. 20:
On Saturday, December 6th, the Odessa-Montour High School
cafeteria was filled with a scent ubiquitous to the holidays -- the
sweetness of gingerbread. The O-M chapter of National Honor Society
hosted its first-ever gingerbread house competition. Over a dozen creations
were on display in four different categories -- students in grades K-2,
3-6, and 7-12, and also a family/community category.
Those in attendance were encouraged to vote for their
favorite entries by making monetary donations, and a gift card was awarded
to the winner in each group. The winners included Brennan Mathews (grade
2), Abigail Gunning (grade 3), Paden Grover (grade 7), and the Harrington
family (in the family/community category).
The organization also hosted a bake sale. Proceeds from
the event will help the National Honor Society with future endeavors
in the school and the community.
The organization wishes to thank the Odessa-Montour community
for its support of this new venture. We were very pleased with the turnout,
and hope to expand on the event next year.
National Honor Society Co-Advisor
A note of thanks
To the Editor on Dec. 20:
The family of Frances Bulkley wants to express their thanks
to the dedicated staff of the Seneca View Nursing Facility (unit 2)
for the loving, professional care that they provided for our mother,
Frances Bulkley, who resided there until she passed away recently.
These wonderful people care for our elderly relatives
day and night, every day of the year, regardless of the difficulties
experienced due to the diminished abilities of the people they care
for. They do it with kindness and compassion. And they do it with genuine
heartfelt concern for the well-being and happiness of the people to
whom they are assigned.
We have witnessed their actions during the countless hours
that we have spent visiting our mother. We mourn the loss of our mother,
but we will also miss our Seneca View “family” as well.
The Family of Frances Bulkley
is seeking alumni
To the Editor on Dec. 20:
Schuyler Head Start is looking for alumni (children or
parents) to find out how Head Start may have impacted their lives as
part of a 50-year anniversary celebration. Call to speak with Ruth Prince
Kristine Morseman, Program Coordinator for Schuyler
Literacy Volunteers of Chemung & Schuyler Counties
To the Editor on Dec. 16:
In response to the letter from Christy Rumsey, I would
like to state that I take offense to her assertion that if students
from O-M were to join a WG sports program they would be treated unfairly
or poorly by the coaches and staff here at Watkins Glen. She stated,
“We will be treated by some as unwanted guests,” and “we
will need unbiased representatives (from O-M) to speak for their children.”
She is speaking of future imagined mistreatment as fact.
The coaches, teachers, and staff at WG are professional and would never
treat a child in their care inappropriately no matter the child’s
address. It is wrong to assert otherwise. The only serious problem I
see is parents making accusations and extrapolating a negative meaning
from everything, even as talks are in their infancy and nothing has
been made public at this time. Facts are important.
Mr. Phillips stated that in the case of football we would
be the “host” school. This terminology is correct as WG
has an intact and successful program. What is at issue is allowing students
from O-M to join this intact program if that sport was not available
at their home school. That is not a merger. It would simply allow students
from another district to participate here at WG. Mr. Phillips must think
in terms of insurance, liability, the law, facilities, staffing, and
what is in the best interest of our district and its students. In this
case WG is the host school. If an agreement also allowed WG students
to join a sport such as tennis at O-M that was not offered here, wouldn’t
O-M be the host school in that case? These are just facts, and facts
The students from WG and O-M play sports together until
7th grade. They play Small Fry football, Little League baseball, morning
basketball, CVSA soccer, swim Glen Gators, and even cheerlead for football
together. I have coached baseball and soccer in these countywide programs
and the students get along just fine with each other and the coaches.
As a varsity coach last year, my team shared a bus with the O-M team
and by the end of the day the kids were intermixed in their seats and
talking up a storm. Three of the O-M athletes played Little League baseball
for me previously. It was a positive experience.
Nothing may come of these talks. It’s important
to wait until the facts are presented and the resulting policy proposed.
Voter input may be required depending on the proposition. In the interim
I do think it’s important to avoid negativity and accusations.
people they know and trust
To the Editor on Dec. 16:
One last response. To me it is obvious that the person
who responded is/was from Watkins, just saying. No one has said that
there is a plot, or that I do not think coaches try to be fair, but
years of experience have showed me that there is a natural lean toward
students you already know versus the ones you do not. Many of us have
sat back and watched as our kids were called many names, including some
Watkins students' favorite name for our children, slowdessans. That
is a fact. I am sure this happens on both sides, but I can only speak
to what I have heard and what my children have told me. We have also
watched as coaches have looked past this, calling it “just kids
Well maybe it is, but it does not take away from the fact
that this general behavior is what makes this process hard. Athletes
on both sides are going to need help to acclimate and stop this behavior
that has been allowed for too long. We will not be able to continue
status quo. I have no doubt the administrators involved in this are
well aware of that, but my point was that everyone needs to be more
sensitive to issues that face this process. This will not be a seamless
transition; there will be bumps. If it goes anything like the speakers
from last spring said, most of the athletes will choose not to play
as part of another team. Hopefully some will change their minds, but
many will not. It may have been a little easier with new uniforms for
all the athletes; that way they would all be even. It would be even
easier if they had a coach they know there to make it more familiar,
one encouraging them to take a chance.
To answer another thing, I am not from Odessa originally but moved
here to get my children out of Ithaca. I do not have a rival mentality
about Watkins. I only know what my children tell me, but I did listen
carefully at last spring's meeting about this subject and heard numerous
athletes talk about how they have been treated by other students and
even adults, so I think it is naïve to say that it is a parent
issue. Trust me, this is not my issue. I listen carefully to what my
children have to say. I support them, and anyone who knows me or my
children know they are some of the most responsible children out there.
There are real issues between some students and there needs to be representation
on both sides until there is felt to no longer be a need. To say otherwise
is just plain ridiculous. Our children need to know they have someone
there for them until enough time goes by that they begin to build trust.
This will not happen overnight, especially now that it is obvious we
will not be getting new names and uniforms for at least a year. There
is no reason that we should not be able to have a coach or assistant
coach there, other than they want their own people, which I understand,
but we want to protect our people too. It should involve some compromise,
but we will see.
In closing, I want to make sure it is clear that I am not concerned
about playing time. I am concerned about getting O-M students to believe
and trust that they will be treated fairly, and the best way for that
to happen is for them to have some people they know and trust in the
will get a fair shake
To the Editor on Dec. 15:
I'm responding to the concerns of Christy Rumsey (and
any parents who share her concerns) in regard to some of the statements
made by Watkins Glen Superintendent Tom Phillips about merging the football
programs of Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour.
I think too often we get caught up in the words people say while looking
for something to get upset about. The bottom line is this: All of the
kids will wear the same uniform. You won't be able to tell who is a
Watkins kid and who is an Odessa kid when they take the field. Any coach
at any school is going to put the eleven best players on the field to
give his team the best chance of winning.
The idea that coaches sit home at night, plotting to bench certain
players and start others based on where they are from or who their parents
are is absurd. People have been concerned about it forever, and it makes
no sense. The catalysts behind these concerns are almost always parents
who don't think their kids are getting a fair shake. As someone who
has coached at the youth and high school level, I can honestly say the
toughest part of the job is keeping parents happy.
The best thing any parent can do for their student athlete is to make
sure they are at every practice on time. That's the key. Once that happens,
everything else falls into place. If your child isn't starting or getting
what you feel is adequate playing time, the problem is not the coach,
I promise you. It's the effort of the student athlete both in practice
and in games.
Ask any coach in any sport and they'll all tell you the same. I'd rather
bench my friends' kids and win than bench the best players and hardest
workers and lose. If your kids show up on time and work hard in practice,
they'll get a fair shake.
WGHS Class of 1997
Preparedness Course offered
To the Editor on Dec. 12:
The Watkins Glen Fire Department in conjunction with the
American Red Cross will be hosting a Disaster Preparedness Class for
the public. The class is free and will be held at the fire station on
January 15th at 6:30 p.m. The class should last around an hour and a
half. The class is good for all ages.
This class is designed to help prepare the general public for a disaster.
It will provide citizens with the right tools to make the right decisions
when a disaster happens. It will also arm citizens with the very basic
tools to help their local emergency service in the event of a disaster.
This class is very important and I hope that the citizens of Watkins
Glen and Schuyler County take this opportunity to come and learn. To
sign up for the class please email me or call.
Watkins Glen Fire Chief
work if O-M athletes are 'guests'
To the Editor on Dec. 12:
Once again I feel the need to inform the public about
the happenings at O-M. At last night's School Board meeting the motion
to authorize the superintendent to pursue opportunities for football
with Watkins was approved. This is a motion that most of us who follow
sports issues closely were prepared for. As I stated recently on this
forum, it was a move that appeared inevitable.
However, recent comments made by Watkins Glen Superintendent
Tom Phillips have made it harder to believe that O-M and WG can come
together and work out a viable solution. Mr. Phillips was recently quoted
in the Review as saying: “The coaching issue is personnel,
so that would be driven by the host school employment contract."
I find this statement to be almost offensive. First of
all, the statement uses the term “host school.” I thought
this merger would be equal, in which case there would be no host; it
would be a collaboration, an equal partnership. It is disturbing to
me to see such an unfortunate term used so early in the process. So
if we are not the “host” school, then are we the guest?
This immediately puts our students at a disadvantage. If we will be
guest, than we will be treated by some as unwanted guests -- not appealing,
if you ask me.
As for the coaching issue, please clarify to me why each school cannot
provide a football coach to represent the interest of each school, especially
in the beginning when it will be difficult to meld together two recently
rivaled student populations. I would think a coach from each school,
paid for by their respective schools, could work together to build the
program until all parties feel there is no longer a need. It would be
the only way parents would feel their children had an unbiased representative
to speak for them in a new and unknown system. To say even before meetings
and negotiations that it is a non-negotiable point is making it clear
who will call the shots. This to me is not a “willingness”
to share services.
Originally, this was an issue I felt would never work. But with the
troubles that O-M has had fielding a large enough team, it became apparent
that football was not going to happen. At that point I felt it was in
the best interest to pursue opportunities for our children to play football
somewhere, even if that is not really the optimal situation.
Now I am once again uncertain if a merger is really possible without
our children getting the short end of the stick. When Watkins is willing
to split it down the middle and have a partnership maybe, but not as
long as we will always be the guest that they are “hosting.”
29 gas and LPG facilities in NY
To the Editor on Dec. 6:
From all the hullabaloo about the Crestwood projects,
you’d think this was the first time ever that gas or LPG had been
stored in the ground, one way or another.
What probably only a relatively few people know is that there are 29
-- yes, 29! -- operating gas and LPG storage facilities in upstate New
York, split as 26 Natural Gas, and 3 LPG storage.
This nicely-done map from NYS DEC shows where they are located:
This, and a descriptive, factual overview of this industry,
can be found on the web at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/energy/35817.html
What, you say you had no idea there were 29? Where is all the news about
fires, explosions, leaks and injuries that are reputedly connected with
Well, it is not surprising that people don’t know there are 29
energy-storage facilities because…..you just DON’T hear
anything at all about them in the news, unless they have perhaps donated
to some local Scout group or the like! Yes, these facilities sit there,
unobtrusive and unnoticed, and just do the job that society has the
need for, while employing people, paying the taxes and bills, and distributing
what is left to shareholders/owners.
Their employees are well-trained, just like you’d expect an intelligent
facility operator to be for a high-tech, high-value plant, handling
high-value flammable materials.
And those same people, if need be, can be trained emergency responders
as well, and naturally fit in to buttress the local volunteer fire departments.
But mostly, they just live, perform their jobs, hunt and fish, raise
families, pay the mortgage and tax bills, and get up and do it again
the next day. Just like responsible citizens are expected to.
So the next time an anti-carbon-energy sympathizer tries to make you
think the Crestwood facility is a terrible idea, unsafe, unneeded, a
blight on the land, will scare away the tourists, and will blow the
village away, etc., just ask them: “Why then, have these 29 facilities
not done that already, if they are so terrible? Are you stretching the
truth into a lie……to delude me? Shame on you! And by-the-way,
you DID drive here and use gasoline, didn’t you? And by-the-way,
just how do you stay warm in the winter, and obtain your food, supplies
and mail? Where is your horse?”
Hypocrisy, when exposed to reality, can melt like the Wizard of Oz’s
Wicked Witch of the North.
David A. Crea, PE (Chemical)
Note: Mr. Crea is a US Salt technical professional
employee who is involved with their brinefield and wells management,
but who says he wrote this as an interested citizen-observer, not as
a spokesman for Crestwood or US Salt.
stand on the side of fanaticism
To the Editor on Dec. 4:
I have sat back and watched this whole thing unfolding
over the last months and beyond, unsure of how to approach it or think
about it. I have done some research and can find information that supports
both sides of the overall argument, as well as information like in the
letter here in the forum that makes it clear that there are just as
many other dangers to the lake from other business ventures. To argue
that point though is futile, as both sides feel strongly about what
they believe and I applaud them for their persistence to stand behind
what they believe.
What I really want to address is the protest itself. I
have never been one to shy away from a debate over something I feel
strongly about, I have done so several times right here on this very
website, but what I do not really understand is this constant disrespect
for the town and the law. I understand civil disobedience and the need
for it when human rights are being violated or unjustly withheld, but
at this point I believe the protesters are working against themselves.
letter by clicking here.
Christy Rumsey, RN, MSN-Education
do not represent everyone
To the Editor on Dec. 2:
I have been following the ongoing protest stories. I read
them and have my own opinions about them. One thing stands out for me,
though. Each group, whether they be protesters, non-protesters, residents
or non-residents, whether they agree or disagree, consistently like
to say they are speaking for everyone. That is the part of this whole
issue I find most frustrating.
No one knows what I am thinking, and I have the ability
to speak if I choose. None of the groups can possibly be speaking for
everyone, yet that is what they each claim to do. It's a little like
the Holiday season. I celebrate Christmas, but I don't tell everyone
to have a Merry Christmas. Why? Because I know that not everyone around
me celebrates Christmas, nor do I expect them to just because I do.
The various groups, whatever they think, are wanting everyone
to think like they do, so claim that they represent everyone. Well,
simply put, I'm not everyone and no matter your opinion, stop saying
everyone is included. Speak only for yourself or for the group you represent.
an imperative to take a stand
To the Editor on Dec. 2:
I was arrested yesterday for trespassing outside the gates
of Crestwood, the Texas-based company attempting to turn Seneca Lake
into the “gas storage hub of the Northeast” by storing LPG
in the salt caverns on Seneca Lake. I feel passionately about my patients
and Seneca Lake, and the preponderance of evidence is that the Crestwood
project is a public health risk of an unacceptable magnitude. I am not
willing to stand by any longer while the air quality deteriorates and
the watershed is threatened.
As a Physician Assistant, I provide medical care for
all kinds of folks with all kinds of ills. From simple problems to complicated,
from troublesome to devastating. In the past few years it has become
clear that the threat to the air and water by industrialization of this
area may cause an explosion in the severity and frequency of certain
health issues. Around New York State, many medical societies and medical
institutions have publicly declared their position against fracking
in this state based on health risks. We, as a medical community, have
an imperative as gatekeepers and protectors of health to publicly take
a stand against the LPG project, which carries similar and
letter by clicking here.
Paula Fitzsimmons, P.A.
Hector, Schuyler County
in support of lake protectors
To the Editor on Nov. 24:
We stand in support for those brave individuals who have
spoken out and stood at the gates of Crestwood here in Watkins Glen,
Schuyler County. We cannot thank them enough for all that they have
done and continue to do to protect Seneca Lake.
Our family has lived in this most beautiful and bountiful
of regions for five generations now. We have been a part of the efforts
which have made this region the premier tourism and agricultural mecca
that it is today. Why would anyone want to risk all that so many of
us have worked so hard to achieve? We must be stewards of this very
sacred land of lakes and make every effort to keep Schuyler County and
the Finger Lakes Region as pristine and natural as possible. We must
ensure that our children and their children have the opportunity to
live and thrive in this region, as we have. We must keep corporations,
who have no connection to our regional history, with no concern for
our health and safety, out of our region.
It is with the deepest respect for our tourism, agricultural, and hard
working people of this region, that we submit this letter.
and Peter Widynski
To the Editor on Nov. 24:
For the first 15 years of my life, my family lived less
than two blocks from Seneca Lake, I spent every summer at Coach Lemak’s
summer program until my involvement with the local drum corps, and after
moving from 4th Street to Magee, still lived close to the lake. My brother
had lakefront on Magee Point for a few years, so it’s safe to
say my family has spent many hours on and around our magnificent lake.
Once I moved away from the area for a few years, I really
came to appreciate the beauty our area has to offer, and more than once
I would remark that the best part of the drive home was rounding the
corner on Rt. 79 on Burdett Hill and that view…
I do not believe the amount of jobs that might be created by Crestwood
will exceed the headaches of more truck traffic, the damage to our roads
and never mind the constant worry of contamination to the environment.
How about finding something substantial that will create jobs in that
ghost town you call an Industrial Park (Corning Hill)?
Keith Slater does not represent me, nor does Phil Barnes or Dennis
Fagan. I am thankful that there are peaceful demonstrations. I don’t
really care if Crestwood is inconvenienced, but I also understand the
County Sheriff’s office has their job to do.
Long Live Seneca Lake!
time to learn the truth
To the Editor on Nov. 24:
Protest for purpose has a long and great tradition in this country.
People who take the time to research, understand, ask questions, and
enter dialogues with those they oppose before protesting are admirable.
People who have determined that every other avenue is closed to them
and then choose to protest – without breaking the law –
should be vaunted. This is how change happens. It does not happen when
people who protest are ignorant of the issues, take on passion projects
just for the sake of protesting. These people should be criticized –
not covered day in and day out by the media. Those who protest in order
to create “an amazing show,” as Sandra Steingraber has described
We Are Seneca Lake’s recent efforts, should be ashamed of themselves.
These “professional protesters” have been attracted to
this area because of fracking. Fracking does not take place in New York,
and the projects at the US Salt facility have absolutely nothing to
do with it. Nothing. People are entitled to oppose fracking, but it
has nothing to do with continuing the decades long safe practice of
storing propane or natural gas in salt caverns near Seneca Lake.
letter by clicking here.
(Michael Gilbert is a member of the United Steelworkers District
4 and a long-time employee of US Salt.)
Lake is ... not to be sacrificed
To the Editor on Nov. 23:
On this Thanksgiving, far from home, we send our deepest
gratitude to our family, friends and neighbors who carry on with the
protection of our community. We thank those who come from their own
communities and support us in our work to defend our lake, our health,
our safety, and our livelihood.
We are deeply cognizant of the sacrifices of each protester
and are moved to tears by the elders who stand so bravely to care for
that which is right and good. Seneca Lake is a treasure. It belongs
to our children and our grandchildren. It is not to be sacrificed.
Kirk J. Peters DVM
takes is one little crack or leak ...
To the Editor on Nov. 23:
I have three spectacular grandsons, 12, 10 and 4. I adore
these boys and hope for a wonderful future for them. However, I've been
wondering and worrying. The situation at Crestwood causes much alarm
and yes, fear for my future and that of the boys, for all of us really.
Water is life, I think we all know that. How can it be
that procedures at Crestwood can be allowed? I would ask that we all
recall our early education: Science, mathematics, history, and literature.
Science taught us the geology of the earth and what lies below where
we stand: ecosystems and life. Mathematics taught us the basics of statistics
and probabilities. Literature allowed us to journey with our early ancestors
to the new world, a world of plentiful clean water, clean air and fertile
soil. History has taught us that stewardship has always been a principle
necessary for all to practice. Stewardship: the responsible maintenance
and care of the earth and its environment.
Nothing is ever perfect. All it takes is one little crack, one leak,
one accident ... let us think very clearly and remember nothing ever
goes as planned all the time. I, for one, do not want to take a chance
on my future, or that of the boys or for anyone. This should not be
about politics and greed, but about the safety and quality of life.
So, let's simplify and review what we already know and say no to Crestwood,
their politics, procedures and actions.
do not speak for community
To the Editor on Nov. 22:
I am a resident of Watkins Glen, and I have spent the
last year or so in relative indifference regarding the gas storage issue.
I have seen the protests and the arrests. I've read the letters to the
editor. I may have signed something. I've even talked to neighbors and
friends. Now people can talk about the silent majority, but they are
silent for a reason, and I think I've figured it out. THEY REALLY DO
Your average area resident does not feel that the project is a danger.
They also don't think the project will improve their lives one way or
another. They may have an opinion, but it is not a strong enough one
to do something. They are like me, pretty much indifferent.
I have found myself starting to care about something, the anti-Crestwood
protesters. The rest of my letter is addressed to them.
Now don't get me wrong, I appreciate and admire when people stand up
for what they believe in, and that is what I am doing here. However,
as a guest in our community (and face it, most of you are guests), how
about treating us with a little respect? I've written down a few things
you are doing that both bothers me and is more than likely not helping
1. Don't say you are standing up for me or the other members of our
community. We could protest if we wanted to. We are not dummies; don't
treat us like we are. Don't tell us how to think.
2. Don't assault and bully our elected officials. Don't mob and yell
at them. They were elected because the silent majority wants them in
office. Don't say they are not representing us. If we do not want them,
we will vote them out.
3. Don't attempt to monopolize our village, town, and county board
meetings. We are paying these people to do a job. They have more than
your one issue on their plate.
4. Don't park on the side of the highway and cause dangerous traffic
5. Don't block the entrance of a business. You are costing them money
and making life hard for the workers.
6. Try to not get arrested. When you do, you are costing us money.
You are hurting our community.
7. If you do get arrested, try and act sad about it. It comes across
that you feel it's a big party worthy of pictures, hugs, signs and smiles.
If you think I am exaggerating, take a look at the photos on this website.
Please understand that it is not a game; it is dangerous work for everyone
8. I assume you know that the arrests are eventually going to lose
the media's interest. Please do not find new and more interesting ways
to cost our community money.
Thank you for your time,
words to strengthen argument
To the Editor on Nov. 21:
First of all, let me say that I won't engage in a war
of words with Sylvia Fox. I don't know her, nor have I ever spoken with
her. In her recent letter I think that she makes it very clear that
she only had one agenda if elected as the District 6 Legislator. She
makes several comments that I would like to address.
"And if Sheriff Yessman really believes, as he publicly stated,
that diverting officers to arrest peaceful protestors at Crestwood will
put the rest of us at risk, we had all better be afraid. What will happen
if a propane truck rolls over on Route 14, or if there is a major propane
leak, or a railroad car carrying LPG derails? He's just admitted we're
These are her words taken from her letter. Just like everyone else
in this issue they twist words to strengthen their arguments. I have
never stated that we are not ready to handle these emergencies. Emergency
Services in Schuyler County are hard-working men and woman who protect
their community. To say that they are not ready is an outright lie.
If Ms. Fox doesn't believe that we are ready, maybe she should pick
up an application and join the Fire Department or the Schuyler County
Volunteer Ambulance Association . We have handled these types of incidents
in the past and will do so in the future. An emergency is an unforeseen
incident that in duration is short-term. These deliberate planned protests
that violate the law every day are a totally different situation. We
have to dedicate resources to deal with them on a daily basis, taking
the Deputies and Troopers away from their normal duties which include
Schuyler County, keeping the residents safe.
"In a letter written to the Yates County Legislature in October
(and published in The Odessa File), Mr. Fagan claimed that
the incumbent legislator, Barnes, won the GOP Primary on a pro-gas storage
mandate because of the 107 Republicans who voted for him. Apparently
that means the approximately 1,400 remaining registered voters (and
their opinions) simply don't count."
I went to the Schuyler County Board of Elections website (anyone can)
and found that in the 2014 Primary Election for District 6 there were
186 votes cast. Phil Barnes received 107 votes, Angie Franzese received
78 votes, and there was one write-in vote. According to her that leaves
approximately 1,322 people that didn't vote, or were not Republicans
and couldn't vote. In the 2014 General Election there were 703 votes
cast in the District 6 Legislative race. Phil Barnes received 313 votes,
Angie Franzese received 204 votes and there were 186 write-in votes.
If we use her number of approximately 1,400 other people, plus the 107
votes that Mr. Barnes received in the Primary, that makes 1,507 voters.
If the true issue of the election was gas storage, then 704 voters didn't
vote on this issue. Maybe we can assume that they really don't care
one way or the other, so isn't this really the silent majority that
everyone is speaking about?
From a letter to the editor written October 27, 2014 by Sylvia Fox,
she states "My candidacy is about making the public -- the voters
-- part of the team and representing the people in District 6".
I am now a target of the protestors because I feel a duty to keep the
residents of Schuyler County, who I work for, informed of the effect
of these protests on my agency, public safety and the costs associated
with this activity. I have always made the voters who elected me, part
of my team. My words are twisted by people like Sylvia Fox to strengthen
their argument. I am one of the silent majority on this issue. I have
and will remain neutral. When called to deal with these protests, we
will continue to do our duty in enforcing the law.
Schuyler County is and will remain a safe place to live, work and raise
our families because of the dedication of our Emergency Services workers
who are ready to handle any emergency that may arise. Thank you.
William E. Yessman Jr.
Schuyler County Sheriff
are reaction to the Legislature
To the Editor on Nov. 20:
There have been protests and arrests for trespass in the past few weeks
at the Crestwood natural gas storage site in the wake of the Federal
Energy Regulatory Commission’s rubber-stamp approval of the project
in favor of the Texas-based company -- which also owns U.S. Salt in
Although the arrests have been clogging the Town of Reading judicial
system and impacting our county jail, County Sheriff William Yessman,
Jr. is wrong to say the protestors are the problem, as he posted on
his Facebook page and was quoted in WENY-TV.
The leadership of the Schuyler County Legislature is the real problem.
These protests are a citizen reaction to the misguided, misinformed
and poorly thought-out actions by Schuyler County Legislative Chair
Dennis Fagan and the legislature, starting at least four years ago.
Documents and emails confirm that Mr. Fagan was smoothing the way for
this incompatible and dangerous industrial complex by Inergy/Crestwood
as early as 2011, working on an agreement so that SCOPED would receive
a payment of somewhere in the neighborhood of $500,000 rather than requiring
Inergy/Crestwood pay substantially higher county taxes. And since then,
Crestwood property has been reassessed downward, from its original purchase
price of approximately $65 million to the current $24 million. Next
year Crestwood expects to lower its assessment to $22 million.
And have the legislature and Fagan howled in protest?
No. They continue to kowtow to Texas and promote the project, ignoring
every study of the dangers and problems – and ignoring overwhelming
Outrage about costs to the county associated with the protests should
be aimed squarely at the County Legislature and Dennis Fagan, who laid
the groundwork for this confrontation between residents and an industrial
project that has no business locating on the shore of our lake.
And if Sheriff Yessman really believes, as he has publicly stated,
that diverting officers to arrest peaceful protestors at Crestwood will
put the rest of us at risk, we had all better be afraid. What will happen
if a propane truck rolls over on Route 14, or if there is a major propane
leak, or a railroad car carrying LPG derails? He’s just admitted
we’re not ready. And, by the way, Crestwood is not financially
liable for related propane or natural gas disasters that happen off
site. Nor is the company insured adequately – a fact it has told
stockholders and potential investors and the SEC.
Schuyler County is the only county surrounding Seneca Lake that has
voted in favor of this project. Its pro-gas resolution passed by only
a single-vote margin in the legislature. Those against this project
understand there is no gain to Schuyler County, only risk and negative
impact, despite Dennis Fagan's and Legislator Phil Barnes’ claims
to the contrary. Our communities are being asked to take all the financial
and environmental risks for a multi-million-dollar corporation and we
don’t stand to gain a thing.
None of us -- including Sheriff Yessman -- should be surprised that
people from our region are pushing back against this terrible decision
by the county legislature to promote this incompatible industry without
And no matter how many times Mr. Fagan and Mr. Barnes declare that
the primary and the recent election was a mandate for the gas storage
project, they need to go back and check their fuzzy math.
Fifty-four percent of the voters in District 6 rejected Phil Barnes
and his pro-gas storage stance. This constitutes a majority vote against
the project, no matter what Barnes publicly declares.
Dennis Fagan also needs a quick civic lesson about representation.
In a letter written to the Yates County Legislature in October (and
published in The Odessa File), Mr. Fagan claimed that the incumbent
legislator, Barnes, won the GOP Primary on a pro-gas storage mandate
because of the 107 Republicans who voted for him. Apparently that means
the approximately 1,400 remaining registered voters (and their opinions)
simply don’t count.
So don’t be surprised when these protestors feel their government
has failed them.
Sylvia S. Fox
interesting take on wineries
To the Editor on Nov. 20:
I've been following the gas storage protests closely on
The Odessa File. I noticed that a number of the names are involved
with local wineries and one of the primary concerns that these protests
focus on is clean water.
On that note, I stumbled across a paper written by a Harvard student
back in 2011 for an Environmental Management of International Tourism
Class taught by Megan Epler Wood, the current president of the International
Sustainable Tourism Initiative. I found the paper very interesting,
especially the parts where it talked about the detrimental impact that
the region's wineries have had on Seneca Lake over the past few decades.
I have no idea what grade the paper received, but all of the statements
and claims are backed up with references, just as you would expect from
any college paper. I thought it would be of extreme interest to the
readers of The Odessa File, especially those with an interest
in the gas storage controversy.
The paper can be found here: http://eplerwood.com/beta/images//Griffin%20-%20Seneca%20Lake%20Wineries.pdf
Watkins Glen High School, Class of 1997
who cares should be welcome
To the Editor on Nov. 18:
We might wonder why those protesting gas storage in the
salt caverns near Seneca Lake are from places like Iowa and Oregon and
Ohio. I live in Tompkins County and I even ask myself sometimes, why
should I care about what is going on on the shores of Seneca Lake?
There are very strong local and regional reasons for these
peaceful protests, like: the protection of drinking water, the protection
of the wine and tourism industries, and the protection of residents
from potential explosions, increased road accidents, polluted air and
excessive noise. But, ultimately, the Crestwood gas storage project
is a small piece in a very large puzzle of planned infrastructure to
move fracked gas across the country.
Its intent is to connect the entire Northeast with a network
of compressor stations, pipelines, truck traffic, and rail transport
of gas. Similar networks are being proposed and created all across the
country and world. And, due to the excessive leakage of methane inherent
in unconventional gas drilling and gas transport, this is a very bad
idea in the context of devastating climate change.
And climate change, which impacts us all, is what should
make everyone who cares welcome here.
to cut county's tobacco use
To the Editor on Nov. 18:
There is no level of tobacco that is safe. Yet, 22.3%
of Schuyler County citizens choose to smoke, according to the New York
State Department of Health. The occurrence of adult cigarette smoking
is higher in Schuyler County than the New York State (16.6 %) and National
Averages (19 %). The majority of people do not smoke because of the
dangers of tobacco use and availability of tobacco cessation. The medical
research and tobacco cessation products encourage people to stop tobacco
use; therefore it is not a drastic leap for a pharmacy not to sell tobacco.
When CVS Pharmacy changed their corporate policy and
stopped selling tobacco products, the company rolled out the “Let’s
quit together” campaign. Therefore, our local CVS Pharmacy in
Watkins Glen also changed. When you walk into CVS Pharmacy, you see
posters that say “Let’s quit together.” Smoking cessation
products are behind the counter now. Tobacco products and ads are no
longer in the store. Some employees have no-smoking pins on their shirts.
As I spoke with staff at our local CVS, it was clear that the CVS Corporation
had offered training to all levels of their staff on the importance
of not smoking. An employee from the CVS said: “We received good
feedback from the community, even though we lost our regular tobacco
customers.” She added: “We even had a tourist looking for
tobacco products and they purchased the nicotine gum instead.”
There is a small section of pharmacies that still sell
tobacco in Schuyler County. CVS is the first corporate chain that is
trying to decrease our communities’ use of tobacco. Whether or
not the difference becomes a reality is up to Schuyler County’s
citizens. There are resources available locally, to help people reduce
their use of tobacco.
If you or someone you know is in need of support to decrease
tobacco use, you can contact Schuyler County Public Health at 535-8140
for more information.
Public Health Specialist
Schuyler County Public Health
to all who helped with dinner
To the Editor on Nov. 16:
United Way of Schuyler County would like to thank everyone
who attended, worked at, sold tickets, and supported in any way the
annual spaghetti dinner held at the Montour Moose Lodge on October 13,
We raised over $4,100 that will go directly to the 2014
campaign goal of $123,000 to help support 23 health and human service
agencies that benefit Schuyler County residents. There were 162 tickets
sold at the door, 120 pre-sale tickets, and 175 take-outs for a total
None of this would have been possible without Mike Donnelly
and the Montour Moose Lodge, the United Way board of directors, students
from the Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour Central School Districts, co-chairs
Jeff and Amy Parmenter and their sons Phoenix and Drew, additional volunteers
who show up every year -- including previous board members and spouses
of current board members -- and members of the community who enjoy the
dinner every year.
Please know your continued support is greatly appreciated
and improves the quality of life for hundreds of your friends and neighbors
who reside in Schuyler County. Thank you very much!
United Way Board of Directors
on Odessa football issue
To the Editor on Nov. 14:
I would like to once again put my two cents in on the
subject of merging sports. I think in the case of football it may be
time to look at options. With OM’s inability to field a working
team it may be time to think about how these kids can still have a chance
to play football if they want to. At this point there will not be any
team. Now I know from the outpouring last year about this subject that
there will be kids who would rather not play than play elsewhere, but
I think this is where the administration needs to take a hard look and
make sure the kids are represented and made a part of the process.
Last night at the OM Board meeting two options were presented with
other options possible from Newfield as yet to be determined. And none
of these options will be possible without approval from the other schools
as well as our own Board of Education.
The first way it might be done is with a short-term commitment. This
would be a year-to-year thing. If we wanted to do it this way we are
looking at just sending our kids elsewhere to play on another school's
team, whether it is Watkins or any other school. Without a longer term
commitment no school will be willing to invest in a combined sport that
represents both schools. Our players would be playing as Watkins or
even Newfield players. This makes a lot of sense. Why would any school
including our own invest time and money into creating mascots and colors
and new uniforms for a one-year commitment? So that is why to me this
is not a viable solution. If we are going to take this step we need
to do it in a way that includes both sides and includes a commitment
to stay the course and ride the waves. To deal with the issues that
will most assuredly come as a result of combining, and make a commitment
that says we will meet these issues and stay in it for the long haul.
To do anything less will cheat our kids of the opportunity to feel a
part of the process and engage fully in what has apparently become an
I am sure there are some who will say that this is not a good option
and I definitely agree that it should be a last option, but it appears
that at least with football there is just not enough interest to field
a big enough team, so it would seem it is time to look at the best way
our kids can play football if they want, but still be able to represent
who they are. Being absorbed into another team for a school that is
not your own is not an option and should not even be considered. The
only choice is to go full speed ahead and do what is best for those
kids who still want to play football.
I do want to make it clear though that this should only be considered
for those sports that are not capable of fielding an adequate team.
Many sports such as swimming and track are more individual in nature
and can be successful with smaller numbers, and other teams such as
volleyball, soccor and basketball have always had plenty of numbers.
This should still be considered a last resort, but it appears, at least
to me after listening, that that is where we are at with football.
Please write your board members and tell them where you stand on this
subject, whether you would rather see the short-term commitment, even
if it means our kids wearing another school's jersey, or if you would
rather see the longer commitment that protects our kids and gives them
a chance to be represented. Or would you rather see neither and would
rather see the football team be cut than merge? Regardless of where
you stand, you should let your board members know. They cannot make
a decision that is fair without knowing what the people of the school
and community want. So please speak out!
Christmas adopters, donations
To the Editor on Nov. 13:
Catholic Charities of Schuyler County requests your help
in sharing the gift of hope this Christmas season.
Catholic Charities makes the process very simple for donors.
First, we get an idea of what size family you would be interested in
adopting. Then we match you with a family in need and provide you with
the individual, senior’s or family member's age, size, needs,
and interests. You then select items for each family member and one
or two household needs.
We ask that you purchase gifts and drop them off at Schuyler
Outreach on December 15. Families will pick up their gifts the following
day. We also ask adopters to bring ingredients for a Christmas meal
for their adopted family as well as 3 days’ worth of meals (visit
our website for a list of suggestions).
If you’d like to help in a different way, Catholic Charities
is also requesting donations of new or gently used toys and gifts (no
stuffed animals) for those families that are not adopted. Gifts for
children, teenagers and adults can be dropped off at Schuyler Outreach
on Tuesdays from 9am-2pm and 6pm-8pm, Thursdays from 7am-2pm, and Fridays
from noon-4pm from now until December 8 (112 Tenth Street, Watkins Glen,
Last year, Catholic Charities was able to adopt 120 families. Please
help us adopt more families this year. We turn to you this season for
your support and compassion.
If you are interested in adopting a family or volunteering to sort
Christmas donations, please contact Jessie Ketter at 607-535-2815 or
Schuyler Outreach has been your local provider of emergency services
for over 20 years. Schuyler Outreach provides emergency food and financial
assistance with rent, utilities & prescriptions. For additional
information, please contact Schuyler Outreach at 607-535-2815 or visit
Katie E. Rhodes
Catholic Charities of Chemung & Schuyler Counties
great season for WG athletes
To the Editor on Nov. 10:
What a season! I write to say congratulations to coaches
and athletes at Watkins Glen High School for what can only be said was
an outstanding Fall season! Girls X-Country wins Sectionals and places
6th in New York State. In Girls Swimming, Lexi Castellaneta captures
the Sectional Diving title with a school-record point total that qualifies
her to compete in the State Tournament. Katherine Meehan wins the Sectional
title in Breaststroke, setting a school record, and the team finishes
2nd in Section IV.
The Boys X-Country finishes 2nd in Section IV, and Patrick
Hazlitt finishes 3rd overall in the Section, qualifying for the State
meet. The Watkins Glen Football team establishes itself as one of the
top teams in the division and a force to be reckoned with in the future.
And there were many other individual accomplishments that we all should
be proud of.
These accomplishments do not happen in isolation. Thank
you to the parents, grandparents, other family members and the community
for supporting all of our athletes. Whether running to get a uniform
that was left home, providing money for stops on the way home from events,
or just being there supporting the athletes during the competitions,
your presence makes a difference.
To our coaches, thank you for your continued commitment
to our athletes. With your guidance, encouragement and willingness to
go the “extra mile” for the athletes and the programs, we
can and do accomplish many great things!
Watkins Glen School District
is 20.8% a true majority?
To the Editor on Nov. 8:
New math? I am confused as to how exactly 45.5% constitutes
a majority. 313 votes may have been enough to win an election, but it
is certainly not a majority. 390 voters voted for candidates running
on platforms opposed to Mr. Barnes’ stance on major issues facing
District 6. That represents 54.5% of the voters, which actually is the
Additionally, 313 of the approximately 1500 voters eligible
to vote in the District 6 election constitute only 20.8%. How can 20.8%
of eligible voters be referred to as a “true majority,”
and aren’t legislators responsible to represent all of the residents
of their district -- not just the ones who vote for them?
be honored to serve as Treasurer
To the Editor on Nov. 8:
With deepest gratitude, I would like to thank everyone
who supported me during my campaign for Treasurer; all your hard work
and positive support was appreciated more than words can express.
I am confident that going forward, we will all work together
to effect positive changes, not only within the Treasurer’s office
but countywide, sharing our common goal of acting in the best interest
of our county’s residents.
I will be honored to serve as Schuyler County’s
helped raise awareness
To the Editor on Nov. 8:
October was National Domestic Violence Awareness Month
and Catholic Charities wants to thank the Schuyler Community for helping
raise awareness about the issue of Domestic Violence.
On Saturday, October 25th -- in a program titled "Take a Hike,
Domestic Violence" -- over 50 adults and children hiked the gorge
to raise awareness about this significant issue. In addition, over 200
personal care items were donated by the participants. Catholic Charities
accepts on an ongoing basis donations of women’s personal care
items, diapers and wipes that will assist victims when fleeing abusive
This free event was made possible by a generous grant from the Raising
Dough for Kids Foundation and hosted by Catholic Charities of Schuyler
County and the Coordinated Community Response Team (CCRT). For more
information or to make a donation, please visit the Catholic Charities’
Katie E. Rhodes
Catholic Charities of Chemung & Schuyler Counties
voters of District 6
To the Editor on Nov. 6:
Thank you, voters of District 6! Your overwhelming support
is greatly appreciated and affirms my commitment to representing the
true majority of this district. I am both gratified and humbled by the
resounding message the voters have sent. I look forward to continuing
to represent you for the next four years!
With sincere thanks,
to those who supported me
To the Editor on Nov. 4:
I would like to thank all those who came out on Election
Day to support me.
Also, I wish to thank those who helped with my campaign
in many different ways. May God bless you and your families. Good Luck
to the winner.
'breaks my heart'
To the Editor on Nov. 3:
It breaks my heart to see what has happened to my beloved
home in Montour Falls. When I bought it from the Bartons I promised
them and felt a deep responsibility to maintain it for Montour Falls
-- to love it, and let people see it; which I did.
I restored its furnishings back to its Victorian age as best I could
with lovely pink antique sofas, yellow velvet Victorian chairs, a lovely
square piano and many other period items or reproductions of same. Most
things I bought in Watkins and Montour.
I filled it with my paintings and taught my trade to students there
with great joy.
On its grounds I loved the hundreds of century-old Hostas, and I added
thousands of tulips and lilies, and roses. The colonnade was festooned
with wisteria. The coy pond held coy more than a foot and half in length,
scores of yellow lilies and zillions of frogs.
When the time came that I had to sell it, I did so to Jill Drummond,
who I felt would be able to keep it and maintain it as I had. Her untimely
death changed all of that.
What has happened there since I do not know. I wish I could have kept
it, but since I couldn’t I moved to a wonderful house in Odessa,
and that too I fixed up and loved. Although not as stately as Barton’s
House, it still was elegant and much more homey!
Now I live in Ithaca, where there are many artists like me. My home,
I think, could fit into the living room of my house on Genesee Street.
But some would say it is adequate for me. And, considering what many
in this world have to deal with, I am grateful for what I have.
But I will never forget and never love more than what was once my cherished
home in Montour Falls.
RIP 203. You will never be the same.
response on Election Eve
To the Editor on Nov. 3:
It is getting late, the night before Election Day, and
I respond to Ms. Halpin’s letter due to the confusion I am hearing
from voters regarding the facts in the race for Treasurer.
All pretty words aside, math skills and a basic knowledge of our accounting
software do not make a person an accountant. My writing skills and skill
at typing would never have made me a lawyer without a bit of schooling.
To attack Ms. Starbuck’s training at this late stage of the campaign,
when she has campaigned on her record of having attended Comptroller
trainings, needs some actual facts.
I zeroed in on Ms. Halpin’s allegation of Ms. Starbuck “essentially
defrauding county taxpayers” because this statement is inaccurate.
The Comptroller’s audit was initiated due to a conviction for
embezzlement in the Monterey Fire Department. The paper trail led to
the Sheriff’s office, and from there to the Treasurer’s
Office. The good news, no public funds were found to be missing –
As far as the statement that the Democratic Party had the opportunity
to back Harriet Vickio, she never approached her party, nor made any
effort to identify herself as a Democrat. She appeared to be an independent
until the record showed otherwise.
Legislator, District 3
and additional comments
To the Editor on Nov. 3:
I offer a few clarifications to Michael Lausell’s
post. I am confused about what facts I misstated but I am happy to offer
some additional comments.
After Michael suggested that everyone in the treasurer’s
office take the training that he himself took, the legislature received
a copy of an email from Harriett Vickio asking Michael for the contact
information for the folks providing the training that he took and indicated
an eagerness to take advantage of training provided, particularly as
it would be held at the county. As to Harriett not taking the training
until after the election, that makes perfect sense. Her focus now is
to try to clean up some of the mess from the last 10 years so that the
legislature can finally be in possession of accurate numbers while she
waits to see the result of the election. I have no doubts but what she
will avail herself of any and all training and will dedicate herself
to accurate financial reports should she be elected treasurer.
As has been pointed out in the past, elected officials
do not require any training or experience to stand for election and
as is evident at all levels some elected officials respect their elected
position enough to learn the job, get training where necessary, and
apply the necessary time and resources to function in a competent and
professional manner as expected by the electorate. Harriett Vickio came
to Schuyler County with the requisite qualifications, including 7 plus
years in the private sector, for her position as Purchasing Director.
The position requires math skills but more importantly an ability to
use the KVS software, her module being a part of the countywide financial
software. During her 6 years with the county she has worked cooperatively
with departments and the legislature and has availed herself of additional
training. She has worked with other staff and the county auditors to
facilitate the process for closing the books at the end of the year.
She is professional and has a very respectable work ethic and is seen
as a valuable asset to county government.
Michael makes the point that only $100 of allocated training
dollars were spent in the last three years. It would have been more
instructive had he reported on the expenditure of training dollars during
Margaret’s tenure but it points out the fact that past treasurers,
including Margaret, did not take advantage of available training. What
Michael fails to point out is that you cannot force an elected treasurer
to do anything they don’t choose to do. Margaret failed to get
the necessary training because she chose not to and as an elected, not
appointed, official there was no way to compel her to do so.
Michael barely mentions my comments on Margaret using
her position to skirt the regulations that all other taxpayers must
follow and then only in the context of my perhaps inappropriate use
of the word "defraud"; he omits any mention of whether he
views that type of behavior as inappropriate. Does that mean he condones
that type of behavior from elected officials?
As for my knowledge of candidates hand-picked by the
legislature, I maintain my innocence. Someone tapped Harriett to throw
her hat in the ring. I don’t know who did but I was not involved
in the process so the claim that the “legislature” hand-picked
Harriett is patently false. After Harriett was endorsed by the Republican
County Committee of course I circulated her petitions. I don’t
understand Michael’s concern with “everything being in place.”
Why would the Republican-controlled legislature not have everything
in place? If the Democrat Party held the majority on the legislature,
I would expect nothing less.
Michael’s comments about the discrepancy in the
STOP DWI accounts point out exactly what has been the frustration of
the legislature for the past 10 years, 8 of which Margaret was treasurer.
At this point, many of the financial records of the county continue
to be inaccurate. It will take commitment and time on the part of a
new treasurer to finally provide accurate numbers.
Michael is absolutely correct that political rhetoric
should not drown out the facts but that is exactly what is happening.
The Democratic Party had the opportunity to support an individual of
their own party who has a stellar record with the county and in three
months has demonstrated her commitment to the treasurer’s office.
Instead the Democratic Party chose to support Margaret Starbuck, whose
record clearly indicates that she is unable to perform the functions
of Schuyler County Treasurer.
Legislator, District 1
Fox: A breath of fresh air
To the Editor on Nov. 3:
Schuyler residents are witnessing an encouraging political
story in the making. On Nov. 4th, voters in Legislative District 6 will
chose a new representative, and it is entirely conceivable that they
will choose write-in candidate Sylvia Fox.
Her campaign is a testament to the energy and heartfelt enthusiasm
that motivates her actions. In less than two months, she has knocked
on many doors, spread her message, and made the name Sylvia Fox well
known in our community.
I accompanied Sylvia as she visited local voters, and how she engaged
them in thoughtful conversation. She understands that running a local
government involves risk analysis, financial accountability and above
all open government – government that is respectful of the voters
-- both in respecting their voices and respecting that they pay the
taxes that allow government to function.
Her candidacy requires of voters the unusual step of writing her name
on the ballot under the column for Legislative District 6. Because voting
for a write-in candidate is foreign to most voters, Sylvia has taken
the extra time to meet voters at their homes. Once they make the connection,
it is easy to see them taking the time to write in her name on their
Election Day ballot. As she has explained, “write Fox in the box!”
Some voters are concerned that in a three-way race between Sylvia Fox,
Angeline Franzese and Phil Barnes, the outcome will be uncertain. I
have accompanied her from the Village of Watkins Glen to the outer reaches
of the district in Van Zandt Hollow. Over the last six weeks she has
methodically covered the entire district, speaking with all voters that
she found at home. From the enthusiastic response Sylvia Fox has received,
she can duplicate Bob Lee’s successful write-in campaign for Mayor
of the Village of Watkins Glen. It can be done.
Legislator, District 3
of the story ...
To the Editor on Nov. 1:
In Legislator Barbara Halpin’s letter regarding
the race for the Schuyler County Treasurer office, my name was cited
in regard to candidate Harriett Vickio responding “affirmatively
to legislator Michael Lausell’s recent suggestion regarding specific
training.” This report completely misstates the facts.
When Treasurer Whyman resigned, members of the legislature approached
me asking whether we could “rally around” a candidate. They
had caught wind that the Democratic Party was going to endorse Margaret
Starbuck, and they were looking for a candidate. When they found Ms.
Vickio, I asked what her qualifications for the job were. I was told
she had no preparation in accounting.
In September, I attended the Comptroller Accounting School, given twice
a year for accounting staff that work in all the political subdivisions
of New York State: counties, cities, towns, villages, school districts
and fire departments. The week before the course was to begin, I asked
Ms. Vickio whether she would be attending. Her response was she had
considered it, was very busy, and would go after the election.
I attended the training, a course presented by the State Comptroller
Office that every treasurer must report to. The course is an introduction
to how entries should be made, reports prepared, and Annual Update Documents
submitted. When I returned, I reported to the legislature that the training
was excellent, and that all the staff in the treasurer’s office
should attend. Our county has spent only $100 in the training line of
the Treasurer’s office budget over the last three years. We are
not utilizing this valuable resource.
I also reported to the legislature that the state training staff is
willing to arrange training in our county. Ms. Vickio heard this and
asked me for the contact information. That is the small piece of the
puzzle that Ms. Halpin reports. The fact remains, Ms. Vickio has almost
no preparation for this position, and whether through the conceit of
her advisors or her complacency at the broad support she enjoys from
members of the legislature, she declined to avail herself of the training
that she desperately needs to learn the skills required of the position.
Ms. Halpin states further that she was never consulted on her position
regarding Ms. Vickio before the Republican Party chose their candidate.
Sworn independent nominating petitions from August 11th show that legislators
Halpin, Fagan, Gifford, Barnes, and future legislator Carl Blowers,
all circulated petitions for Ms. Vickio. Clearly this was part of a
concerted effort that culminated in the Republican Party endorsing Ms.
Vickio. (In full disclosure – former legislator Glen Larison and
myself circulated independent nominating petitions for Margaret Starbuck.)
Deputy Treasurer Lisa Snyder became Acting Treasurer, and she swiftly
named Ms. Vickio as her Deputy Treasurer. Ms. Vickio assumed her duties,
while her position at the Purchasing Department was held open for her
in case she lost the election, temporarily staffed by another county
employee. The legislature voted an increase in the Treasurer’s
salary to attract qualified candidates – even though we already
knew who the two candidates were – and all was in place.
Ms. Halpin goes on to state that Treasurer Starbuck was “essentially
defrauding county taxpayers.” This prompted an Editor’s
note clarifying exactly what the allegations were.
This brings us to the concern I stated in my first letter to this Forum.
No one should let political rhetoric drown out the facts. Is our financial
house in order? Not yet. When Sheriff Yessman stated at the recent budget
hearings that he believed he had $80,000 in Stop DWI funding available
that the Treasurer’s office could not find, the amount was corrected
last week to $32,000. Last Wednesday I asked Deputy Vickio and Treasurer
Snyder to explain the discrepancy. Ms. Snyder said nothing, and Ms.
Vickio said she was not prepared to respond to that topic. County Administrator
O’Hearn responded with the usual, “the records were not
up to date.” Let’s be perfectly clear, I am not alleging
wrongdoing or misuse of funds, but in every private business I am involved
in I can expect a more complete and detailed explanation.
We all must serve our county government with the dedication it requires.
The majority of the legislature makes political hay of the lack of qualifications
for the job, and then picks a candidate that fails to meet those qualifications.
Our voters will choose who they want in the position of Treasurer. I
have stated why reasonable minds may choose Margaret Starbuck.
Legislator, Dist. 3
6 voters can make a change
To the Editor on Oct. 31:
There is a real good reason for Didtrict 6 to vote November
4th. Schuyler County is in poor fiscal shape and financially getting
worse. For 2012 Schuyler County with 18,500 people was labeled “moderately
stressed.” For 2013 Schuyler County was rated “significantly
fiscally stressed” by the Office of the State Comptroller. (Check
What is Interesting is that Chemung County (88,000 people),
Yates County (25,000 people) and Hamilton County (4,500 people) are
all rated not fiscally stressed. All counties large or small face the
same State Mandates. The State Comptroller’s Report indicates
the important relationship of a County’s fund balance to its financial
condition. It’s designed to alert a county to the existence of
factors which threaten their financial well-being.
All Counties need to have money on hand for emergencies
that may come up. If a county’s fund balance is depleted it means
trouble for the taxpayers because in a deficit situation a county is
forced to borrow and property taxes have to make up the difference.
It is recommended that a county carry a fund balance equal to 10% of
its total budget. Schuyler with a 2014 budget of $43 million dollars
should have a $4.3 million fund balance. In 2006 the County had an $8
million fund balance. At the end of 2013, there was only $2 million.
Yet, County spending and property taxes continued to increase.
Imagine it’s 2006. You are head of a Company with
an $8 million surplus and things are fine. Now back to the future. It’s
2014. You are told by your auditor your surplus is gone and the company
is in “severe financial stress.” After you tell the Board
of Directors, how long will you keep your job?
It is time for a change. Currently 670 properties are
listed as delinquent. In September 35 county properties were taken for
taxes and auctioned off. My record shows I am an independent thinker,
a fiscal conservative and I I listen to the people. I believe no one
should have to live in fear of losing their home for taxes. When the
County is “significantly fiscally stressed” so are its taxpayers.
We deserve better. Going out into our community I know
many taxpayers are not happy with their increasing assessments and rising
property taxes. District #6 voters can do more than complain. They have
an opportunity to make a change on election day, November 4th.
Conservative and “We the People”Candidate
for the Schuyler County Legislature
against Starbuck are petty
To the Editor on Oct. 31:
The article titled “Schuyler Financial Practices
Slammed” in the October 10th issue of the Star-Gazette
is based on an audit by the State Comptroller’s office covering
the period from January 2011 to September 2013. Margaret Starbuck was
County Treasurer in 2011 and Gary Whyman was County Treasurer in 2012
and 2013 and until he resigned in August 1, 2014.
I have read the Audit Report, and it appears that the
main problem is a failure to follow improved accounting methods recommended
by the state and to file reports on time. This problem has existed for
many years before Mrs. Starbuck started as Treasurer in 2004. Fixing
it requires additional staff. After Mr. Whyman took office in 2012,
our County Legislature saw the light and provided some extra help and
an improved software program.
Mrs. Starbuck is running for re-election in November.
She has been nominated by both the Conservative and Democratic Parties.
The complaints against her are petty and trivial. She has had 16 years
experience in the office, 8 as a clerk and Deputy, 8 as County Treasurer.
She deserves to be re-elected, and the Legislature should provide whatever
additional staff is needed.
William C. Elkins
is the clear choice for treasurer
To the Editor on Oct. 31:
The county treasurer is perhaps the most important position
in county government because, like any large business, the board of
directors (in this case the county legislature) must know the financial
situation of the county at any given time in order to make reasoned
decisions. Despite the critical nature of the office it is an elected
position, which means that the person elected does not have to know
anything about public finance and accounting, does not have to educate
himself or herself about same, does not have to show up for work or
work any more hours than he or she desires, and has absolute and complete
authority over the treasurer’s office.
While the treasurer position in Schuyler has always been
an independent position, the expectation has always been that the elected
treasurer works for the benefit of county government and therefore for
the benefit of the citizens. In order to fulfill the obligations of
the position, an elected treasurer would necessarily need to seek training
where necessary, be willing and able to work with the legislature and
all county departments and be committed to highly professional outcomes
no matter the time needed to do so.
While it doesn’t seem practical to discuss other
past treasurers who are not running for office, it is instructive to
discuss any candidate who has previously held the position of treasurer
and therefore has a record that can be examined. Such is the case with
Margaret Starbuck. The auditor’s reports from her tenure speak
volumes. Margaret served 16 years in the treasurer’s office, eight
of them as Treasurer, and yet the audit reports at the end of her tenure
were as dismal as those at the beginning. According to some accounts
she attended most of the annual training provided by the comptroller’s
office, but it seemed to have little positive effect on the outcomes
of her office. Some have spoken of the need for the highest level of
integrity in that office and I agree. Margaret used her position to
avoid paying the down payment on her own real property tax installment
agreement, essentially defrauding county taxpayers. (Editor's Note:
The audit addressing this said: "We found that the previous Treasurer
failed to pay any of the required $383 down payment on her own installment.
Although this amount was added to her amortization schedule, she used
her position to circumvent the requirements to avoid paying the down
Some have attempted to make the claim that the legislature
is to blame for Margaret’s problems – she didn’t have
enough staff; she didn’t get the proper training, etc. The truth
is the legislature had no intention of adding staff to an office where
the treasurer was not willing to do her job nor willing to get public
accounting training when it was recommended by the auditors and included
in her budget by the legislature. Near the end of her tenure Margaret
was offered another part-time person in the office but refused the position
because it was not full time.
It has also been alleged that the legislature has been
involved in hand picking candidates. I can tell you that the allegation
is false because, as a member of the legislature I was never consulted
on my position on either Mr. Whyman or Ms Vickio. The chair of the Republican
County Committee who sits on the legislature was likely involved in
tapping both Mr. Whyman and Ms Vickio, as is his responsibility. To
his credit, this time he picked a Democrat, certainly not because of
her party but because she is a known commodity. The legislature is driven
to support a candidate that can administer the office in a professional
manner and deliver accurate numbers.
Harriett Vickio has worked for the county as the Purchasing
Director for six years as well as positions in the accounting field
in the private sector. She has demonstrated that she is an independent
thinker, but is also a team player and is capable of using the financial
software that is also used in the treasurer’s office. Since Harriett
assumed the position of deputy treasurer she has demonstrated her ability
to assume the treasurer position. I have requested information from
her several times as part of the recent budget process and each time
she immediately delivered exactly what I asked for. She has spent countless
hours with other staff already attempting to correct inaccurate financial
information. She and the other staff in the office have already set
in motion necessary remediations to complete the action items set forth
in the Corrective Action Plan that followed the Comptroller’s
report. Harriett has also committed to acquiring the necessary training.
She immediately responded affirmatively to legislator Michael Lausell’s
recent suggestion regarding specific training.
This election for Schuyler County Treasurer is not a
popularity contest and Margaret Starbuck does not deserve to get the
position, as some believe. There is however a clear choice. Voters can
choose the candidate who, despite all her years in the Treasurer’s
Office, was still unable to create accurate financial reports and relied
on our auditors, at significant expense to the taxpayers, to do her
job; and used her position to bypass the regulations of that office
for her own benefit. Or they can choose a candidate who has a solid
record from her own endeavors and has already demonstrated that she
can turn the office around and do it with competent personnel, not more
personnel and at a decreased cost to the county taxpayers.
This election for county treasurer is not about the legislature
having control over the treasurer but rather it is about the need to
have a person in that position who can manage and oversee the financial
operations of a $44 million enterprise that uses your money.
Please vote Harriett Vickio on election day for Schuyler
Legislator, District 1
Robertson chooses us
To the Editor on Oct. 29:
My husband and I cast our absentee ballots for Martha
Robertson before leaving the country to serve with the United States
Peace Corps. As I read The Odessa File this morning (from our
home in Northwest China, less than 200 miles from Mongolia), I felt
an urgency to write home.
Our beloved community is threatened by Crestwood's plans to store LPG
on the shores of Seneca Lake. Congressman Reed has offered no support
to us as we have stood strong for our local businesses, our farmers,
our wineries, our tourist industry, and most importantly, our children.
He has ignored our pleas to protect our drinking water and our air.
He has ignored our pleas to keep our roads and railways
safe. He has ignored our pleas to protect our local businesses.
He has chosen a corporate giant over the people of Seneca
Please choose Martha Robertson for our Congresswoman. Martha Robertson
stand for goes beyond gas storage
To the Editor on Oct. 27:
I read your “Roiling the Campaign Waters”
column from Oct. 23 with great interest – especially as someone
who has covered the news as a journalist and not been the news.
But I challenge your interpretation – stated in two columns now
– that my candidacy to become elected to the Schuyler County Legislature
to represent District 6 is solely focused on the gas storage issue.
Yes, the gas storage project is an issue for the voters. And I’m
against it. But what I stand for goes a lot farther than gas storage.
I am running because the chair of the Legislature acts without consulting
us, the Legislature is giving tax breaks to multinational corporations
without consulting us – and decisions are being made in secret.
My campaign is about the voting record of Phil Barnes, who has voted
exactly the same as Legislature Chair Dennis Fagan more than a thousand
times in the past four years. Barnes has only voted independently of
Fagan twice – just TWICE – because, as Barnes explained
at the League of Women Voters event, legislators talk about issues first
and all agree on how they will vote.
So in his view, there’s no need for any public discussion. They
vote as a team.
My candidacy is about making the public – the voters –
part of the team and representing the people in District 6.
In a letter written to the Yates County Legislature and published in
The Odessa File, Dennis Fagan claims that the incumbent, Phil
Barnes, won the GOP Primary on a pro-gas storage vote 60 percent to
40 percent. What that statement says to me is that Mr. Fagan and Phil
Barnes believe that the only people that count -- on the gas issue or
any other issue -- are the 107 Republicans who voted for Phil Barnes
in the GOP Primary.
Well, the rest of us count. And we care. And we vote.
No more speaking on our behalf without consulting us. No more corporate
giveaways and then claiming that our county is broke. Or that it’s
the treasurer’s fault. Or it’s all about the state mandates.
Or that the problem lies with anyone – anyone – but the
Please resist simplifying what I stand for as “She’s against
the gas storage project.”
I stand for much more than that, and I believe the majority of voters
already understand that nuance.
I did not
sit still and do nothing
To the Editor on Oct. 27:
I am grateful to the League of Women Voters for hosting
the Candidates forum.
That night Mr. Barnes ended by saying I want to ask Mrs.
Franzese what she was doing the years prior to becoming Chairman?
I did not have a opportunity to answer the incumbent’s
question that night because time was up. I think it’s important
that he has an answer. Prior to 1992, I was a minority member on the
board. I was outvoted many times when it came to finances. It takes
five votes to pass a resolution.
I had to watch the Legislature dig a deeper hole for
our taxpayers. I did not sit still and do nothing. I tried to help and
was outvoted. All that I could do was to document in the record when
things could have been different. At the end of 1991, the Legislature
had no fund balance left.
I have a copy of the letter sent November 8, 1991 by
the board clerk to the County Attorney.
“It appears that our 1992 County budget may be
well over our constitutional tax limit. Would you kindly advise as to
what our options are if this is the case, taking into consideration
the fact that we are aware we are able to raise the constitutional tax
limit within the guideline of the
statute, but that even in doing so it does not appear that we would
be within our limits.”
That board had no choice left but to cut . In order to
keep the 1992 budget under the taxing limit, they ended up raising taxes
9% , leaving a $300,000 deficit and laying off county employees. I had
opposed the layoffs and suggested cutting elsewhere. That Legislature
left the county at 99.8% of its taxing limit. The voters took action;
several new legislators came on board in 1992 and I was elected chairman.
The rest is history. Schuyler was restored to fiscal health. We kept
the county operating and maintained infrastructure without raising taxes
five years in a row to the county auditor’s amazement.
I care and have great interest in our community. I review
each county budget to see how things are going. Since 2006, it’s
like déjà vu all over again. Our community can’t
afford to see history repeated.
This year 35 homes were taken for taxes and sold at a
public auction. Now listed for unpaid taxes are 670 county properties.
We can no longer afford the status quo. The incumbent’s voting
record shows he has helped the county get significantly fiscally stressed..
The voters will decide the course of the next four years
on November 4th.
Conservative and “We the People”Candidate
for the Schuyler County Legislature
Choice vs. People's Choice
To the Editor on Oct. 23:
Here we go again. We will be electing a County Treasurer
on November 4th and once again a majority of the legislators have a
hand-picked candidate they plan to install as Treasurer.
The county legislators seem to have a strong desire to
control the Treasurer’s position. Last year we voted against changing
the Treasurer position from an elected one to a Legislature appointment.
The message: We want to have a say in who is in that position. The year
before that, however, they were successful at shoehorning their hand-picked
candidate into that same position. Unfortunately for them, their candidate,
Gary Whyman, found he was unable to continue his duties, and resigned
before his term was up. The deputy treasurer took over the position
temporarily, and their next choice for treasurer was moved into the
deputy position to get acquainted with the job. Now we’re back
where we were two years ago. We have two candidates running for County
Treasurer. One is the legislators' choice. The other is Peggy Starbuck,
running to be the People's Choice.
Peggy has over 16 years experience in the Treasurer's
office, including eight years as County Treasurer. She has an associate's
degree in accounting. While in office she attended 7 of the 8 annual
comptroller's finance schools offered, missing just one while recovering
No one is saying that the legislators do not have a right
to prefer one candidate over another. However, they didn't just wait
to see who would run against Peggy Starbuck, they went out and beat
the bushes until they found someone who could be talked into running
on their terms. From then on they could have stood back and let the
electoral process drum its natural course, but that is not what they
are doing. They are doing and saying anything they can think of to stop
Peggy Starbuck from winning this election.
The voters should choose the candidate they feel
is most qualified for the job, and this is no small job. We voted to
keep this an elected position; now let's exercise our right. There are
many reasons to vote Margaret Starbuck for Treasurer, and you will undoubtedly
hear them in the coming weeks as she has great community support. Vote
for yourself, though, and do not let the election be manipulated by
a few with their own personal agendas.
Their last "selection" for the office worked
out poorly. Let’s choose for ourselves this time around. Vote
Margaret Starbuck for County Treasurer.
plan Guitar Workshop Nov. 8
To the Editor on Oct. 23:
At the Odessa-Montour Fine Arts Boosters meeting in September,
we decided to proactively
do some fundraising toward the upgrade of our auditorium lighting system.
One of the first things we are doing is to offer a Guitar Workshop to
students in grades 7-12 and adults on Saturday, November 8, 2014 from
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Students will register and pay the $15 fee at 10 a.m.
in the foyer of the O-M High School auditorium. They will then be divided
into age and ability groups – beginners, advanced beginners, intermediate
and almost pro. Clinicians will work with all students to learn one
or two basic chords and a song to play at the culminating performance.
Students can bring their own guitars or use any of the school’s
24 instruments. (The Fine Arts Boosters have agreed to buy new strings
for the 10 that need them.)
Lou Cicconi will help anyone who is interested in electric
guitar or bass. Tom Bloodgood will instruct the intermediate players,
and Kim Laursen and Jen Kraemer will instruct beginners.
Lunch break will be from noon to 1 p.m., and the Boosters
will offer homemade soups and
sandwiches to participants. Clinics will resume at 1, with the culminating
performance at 1:30. Any of the guitarists who want to stay and play
will be encouraged to do so.
President, O-M Fine Arts Boosters
up discarded cigarette butts
To the Editor on Oct. 21:
Fall is the best season to hike in upstate NY. All too
often along trails throughout our community though, cigarette butts
litter the grounds. Cigarette butts are not just litter though. They
cause damage to habitats, landscapes, and ecosystems, while they pose
a danger to children and wildlife, and consume tax dollars through clean-up.
One third of cigarettes sold end up as butts discarded into the environment.
These butts are not biodegradable and the toxic materials are poisonous
when ingested by people, including children, and by other living organisms.
These discarded cigarettes can also ignite and cause destructive and
deadly fires. More than 900 people annually die of fires in the U.S.
Picking up these butts is also very costly, and taxpayers and local
authorities bear this cost. The worst part of it all is that big tobacco
companies blame the smokers and say that the responsibility to protect
the environment from cigarette-butt pollution rests solely on the smoker.
Our Reality Check youth group at STTAC is planning a butt pick-up for
the Great American Smoke Out in November. For information about joining
them, contact us at STTAC at 607-737-2858.
Community Engagement Coordinator
STTAC, Southern Tier Tobacco Awareness Coalition
Chair seems frustrated
To the Editor on Oct. 20:
The Chairman of the Legislature made several assumptions
in his response to my letter on sales tax which are not true. My only
motivation for the letter was to prevent the legislature from adding
to its financial problems. I am shocked by the writer’s response.
I am running for a seat on the Schuyler County Legislature because people
are not happy with our current county government.
My facts on the sales tax are accurate and were taken from the county’s
website. Evidently, the writer has no intention of taking the sound
advice given. In an attempt to discredit me, he makes several untrue
assumptions that he wants the readers to believe.
The writer must be frustrated since his letter intended
to influence the Yates County Legislature failed to stop them from passing
their resolution “opposing gas storage in Schuyler County."
In his letter to Yates County he forgot to mention that the Village
of Watkins Glen, after much study, opposed the gas storage project on
behalf of their constituents. I assume this is an example of one of
the writer’s delicate balancing acts. I applaud and thank the
Yates County Legislature for listening to what their public had to say;
and for their overwhelming opposition to the storage project with a
vote of 12 to 2 to keep Seneca Lake clean.
One can only assume by the writer's response that he
may now be trying to influence the election outcome. In his letter he
accused the writer (me) of “lacking an understanding of budgeting.”
I can only assume he meant his kind of budgeting. I did not attack the
county’s budget practices in my letter. I simply made a recommendation
on the sales tax figure. I found his letter defending his own practices
quite interesting. It shows his lack of understanding of “sound
budgeting.” And demonstrates “a shocking mentality for public
budgeting” which helps explain why our taxes have increased yearly;
why our county ‘s fund balance is being depleted and why our county
is now rated significantly fiscally stressed by the NY State Comptroller’s
I recommend that the writer check county history. He
will find that the “delicate balancing act” type of budgeting
did not work in the past. In 1991, the county’s fund balance was
depleted down to $0 and the county was left with a deficit of over $300,000.
The county had also reached 100% of its taxing limit. The legislature
could not raise taxes and was forced to borrow in order to cover the
deficit. The financial situation couldn’t get any worse.
In 1992, I became chairman. Using good, sound budgeting
practices, we paid back the deficit and restored the county fund balance.
We also maintained our infrastructure, completed a state mandated building
addition, had an emergency bridge replacement to keep open what is now
US Salt. For the writer’s information, this was accomplished by
the legislature and the department heads working together. The county
auditors were amazed at what the new legislature had accomplished without
raising property taxes 5 years in a row.
Sales tax was up in 2011 because of the music festival
at the track. The writer said they anticipated another music festival
in 2012 so they budgeted $10.2 million. The county was short $600,000.
He fails to explain why for 2013 they budgeted $10,2 million again.
One can only assume they were still hoping for another music festival.
The county was short $600,000 again for 2013 . The writer nicely points
out the problem his kind of budgeting has caused; saying if they lowered
the sales tax figure for 2012 and 2013 they would have had to raise
taxes. For 2014 they put in $10.2 million again. At Monday night’s
meeting he predicted sales tax will be up the last quarter of this year
and the county may receive $10,000,000, leaving them just $200,000 short
this year. Or he hopes? The sales tax figure in the 2015 budget is $10.2
million again. I assume the writer believes that if you budget it; it
“It is only common sense when operating any business that you
do not spend more than you take in,” is what I wrote. I did not
say or imply that the county overspent its budget. The writer says that
for 2013, the county had $930,204 left and for 2014 projects only $750,000
to be left of the budget. Things seem to be not as rosy a picture as
he has painted.
I never said or implied in my letter that I advocate
overtaxing property taxpayers or underestimating revenues to increase
fund balance. That is not my way of budgeting. The writer’s way
of over estimating revenues and hoping to cover spending will eventually
bankrupt our taxpayers when the fund balance is gone. “Delicate
balancing act” type of budgeting is simply gambling with our taxpayers'
money and the future of our county.
The writer says the legislature has done everything possible to maintain
a stable tax rate and that the county tax rate decreased over the past
three years. I believe he wants the reader to think their tax bills
will decrease. How was the county tax rate really decreased? Many of
our homes and businesses had their assessments increased by the county
at least twice in the past three years. Taxpayers beware: Whenever the
total value of the county increases, the tax rate decreases and the
amount the county can raise through property taxes increases.
Yes, raise the assessments and you lower the tax rate.
A lower tax rate with a higher assessment equals a tax increase. Over
the last decade the Legislature increased total spending from $32 million
in 2006 to $42 million for 2014 and the tax levy increased from $8 million
to $10 million. Currently 670 properties are being advertised for unpaid
taxes. Also, 39 county properties were taken for taxes and sold at public
auction this year.
I am amazed that a letter suggesting a second look at
the sales tax figure written by a county taxpayer would warrant such
a warm response from the County Chair. I guess maybe it’s because
I am running for office.
an end-around run
To the Editor on Oct. 19:
Does anyone else long for a time when the foremost qualification
to be any one of New York's County Treasurers was simply integrity?
Someone please correct me if I am wrong, but didn't both Gary Whyman
and Peg Starbuck serve as such?
I don't recall any impropriety alleged or so much as
the assertion of a single dollar missing or misappropriated.
I appreciate Legislator Lausell's recent response in
which he advocates that the will of the electorate be upheld and the
agenda of the Legislature not continue to be doing away with the elected
post of Treasurer.
No matter which of the candidates for Treasurer prevails
in the upcoming -- but definitely should the electorate reinstall Peg
Starbuck -- watch for an end-around run.
Our neighbor to the west, Steuben County, recently altered
its form of government in becoming a "Charter County." Steuben
has set the local precedent. Local governmental efficiency touts some
In becoming a "Charter County," the post of
an elected Treasurer can be done away with, without public referendum
of that single issue.
Additionally, executive powers which have traditionally
been vested in our Legislature are given up by the Legislature and vested
in a County Executive. A County Executive that can even overrule the
Legislature's will in some instances.
I hope our Legislators choose to keep all the powers
that they have traditionally held and honorably exercised.
responds to Fagan's response
To the Editor on Oct. 17:
Chair of the Legislature Dennis Fagan responded to my letter regarding
the County Treasurer’s office by stating my comments were irresponsible
and deceptive. My letter was motivated by the responsibility I believe
all County Legislators share to present the truth to their constituents.
We are the Board of Directors of the county government, and our voters
and taxpayers – as stakeholders – have a right to receive
accurate information. I stand by every statement I made in my letter,
and offered to clarify for other legislators any confusion at last Tuesday’s
legislative session. No one had any questions.
I do appreciate when Mr. Fagan approaches a topic in a reasoned manner,
as he did with the issue of our county budgeting and tax revenues in
his letter to this Forum. At other times, his communication is much
more biased. Readers can appreciate that his letter to the Yates County
Legislature reveals his writing at its worst. In that letter, his desire
to push approval of the proposed LPG storage facility in our county
led him to state that a 60% victory by the pro-LPG candidate in a recent
Republican primary translates into majority support for the project
within the Village of Watkins Glen. He cannot expect us to believe 60%
of all registered voters support the project. He means any voter that
is not a Republican does not count in public debate.
Returning to the Treasurer’s office, the Review & Express
quotes Mr. Fagan as stating “The comptroller indicated that Treasurer
Whyman was receptive to implementing recommendations whereas Treasurer
Starbuck was not.” These words are incorrectly attributed to the
Comptroller. These words are from the Legislature’s response to
the audit. I objected in private discussions with other members of the
Legislature to this narrative, because implementation was in fact Mr.
Whyman’s biggest downfall. By a majority vote, my voice was silenced.
For now, we can set aside the complaint by members of the Legislature
that there are no qualifications for the post of County Treasurer. The
voters of Schuyler County overwhelmingly rejected the proposal to convert
the treasurer to an appointed position in the 2013 election. To continue
to raise this issue is disrespectful of the will of the voters, indicating
either a belief that the voters are misguided and misinformed, or a
disregard for the clear message from the voters: They do not trust the
Legislature to choose their treasurer.
to the budgeting critique
To the Editor on Oct. 16:
A recent letter to the Forum from a local political candidate
questioned the County’s budget practices while implying that the
County Legislature had adopted budgets that weren’t fiscally sound.
While I understand that political campaigns often motivate individuals'
positions or words, in this case I beg to disagree and would like to
offer the following:
The writer specifically takes the County to task for
an over budgeting of sales tax and then correlates that with an assumption
that as a result we are “spending more than we take in.”
A review of the financial statements (NYS Comptroller AUD filing 2012
& 2013) speaks otherwise. For the period in question, while the
County budget did reflect an overestimation of sales tax, in the total
budget (of which sales tax is but one line of a 140-page document) revenues
exceeded expenses by $930,204. In other words we did not spend more
than we took in. Additionally, in the current fiscal year, with one
quarter remaining we are on track to further that trend with our budget
officer conservatively projecting a $750,000 all funds operating surplus
for this year alone.
As a result, not only has the County fund balance increased
each of the last two years, it will do so again this year, which will
result in our being removed from the list of significantly fiscally
With respect to the over estimation of sales tax, the
writer fails to note that in 2011 we exceeded our sales tax projection
by $778,518. This was largely due to the addition of a music festival
to WGI that was a significant economic boom, not only to the County,
but the entire region. In preparing the 2012 budget we anticipated that
event being repeated the following year, but unfortunately that did
not happen. We remain supportive of efforts to attract similar venues
More importantly and directly to the thesis of the writer,
the 2015 budget projection that she is advocating be revised, reflects
a 0% increase in sales tax revenue over the 2014 budget and a 2% increase
over what we are projecting to be the actual sales tax amount this year.
Historically, in the last decade sales tax growth has averaged 2.6%
a year. That being the case, I see no need to adjust the 2015 budget
On the subject of fund balance, the writer references
the County’s low fund balance and advocates underestimating revenues
as a way to increase reserves. While this is an option, it demonstrates
a shocking mentality for public budgeting and helps explain why New
Yorkers pay one of the highest property taxes in the nation. In balancing
the budget, had the Legislature elected to reduce sales tax projections
for 2012 and 2013, it would have been necessary to
either further cut programs and services or raise taxes to make up the
As an example, if the $600,000 shortfall was covered by
raising taxes, the tax rate would have increased by almost 5% or $0.40
per thousand of assessed value for our taxpayers. Given that the County
did not overspend in any of those years, that additional tax money would
indeed have gone to fund balance but at a significant price to residents.
It is very simple to increase fund
balance if you are willing to overtax your residents as the writer would
advocate. In contrast, the county tax rate has dropped each of the last
three years and is proposed to decrease again in 2015 by over 1%.
It is interesting to note that the $8 million fund balance
cited in 2006 was accompanied by a tax rate of $10.50 per thousand of
assessed value. The proposed 2015 rate is $8.24/1000. I will take my
lumps for being on a list, knowing that we have done everything possible
to maintain a stable tax rate during this time while also maintaining
services. I would much prefer that than to have increased taxes unnecessarily
under the guise of being “conservative.”
This is not to imply that raising taxes is the first
line of response to fiscal stress and our actions have proven this to
be the case. During the referenced time period, we have cut our workforce
by 10% and worked diligently to control all expenses. Shared services,
department consolidations, increased draw down of state and federal
dollars are but a few examples of efforts made by this Legislature,
department heads and staff that have resulted in increased
efficiencies and reduced costs for critical services.
In addition to the aforementioned, we have aggressively
worked to increase local revenues through leasing county space. We currently
receive in excess of $250,000 per year in rental income through opportunities
realized by renovating and developing office space and renegotiating
park land leases. In each year, when it appeared that we were not going
to realize our sales tax projections, budget corrections were made and
the end result was that we came in under budget those years. That being
said, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the significant efforts
of all county staff to deliver the best services in a fiscally responsible
manner. We are indeed fortunate to have such a committed and dedicated
In preparing public budgets, there is always a delicate
balancing act between estimating the amount and cost of resources necessary
to fulfill the mission, and the taxpaying public’s ability to
afford these services. In County government that balancing act is further
compounded by the challenge of delivering services on behalf of NYS,
almost 90% of which are mandated and
beyond our control or influence. To have done so, decreased the tax
rate, and increased reserves, should be commended, not criticized. The
writer’s comments, beyond demonstrating a lack of understanding
of budgeting, paint an inaccurate picture of County budgeting practice
I hope that my response helps to provide some balance
and I understand that political contests often generate this type of
hyperbole. I encourage all residents to gain firsthand knowledge of
these challenges by attending the next budget workshop, scheduled for
October 23 at 7 p.m. at the Legislative Chambers. Beyond an opportunity
to educate yourself about the process, this provides a forum for your
voice to be heard as the Legislature deliberates funding for the upcoming
Dennis A. Fagan
Chairman, Schuyler County Legislature
time to adjust sales tax projection
To the Editor on Oct. 14:
As a business owner I know how important it is to have
a balanced budget. It is simply common sense, when operating any business,
that you do not spend more than you take in.
A local news story reported that Schuyler County's sales
tax for one quarter was up 3% OVER LAST YEAR. Saying it in this manner
makes it sound good to the taxpayers. The key words are OVER LAST YEAR.
Not mentioned is the fact that the county for 2013 failed to receive
$600,000 of the sales tax revenues that it had budgeted. When any revenue
shortfall occurs, the county’s fund balance ends up covering.
The problem is the county’s fund balance has gone
from $8 million (2006) down to $2 million -- leaving Schuyler County
with a fund balance which is 50% less than what is recommended for a
county with our size budget of over $42 million dollars. This is one
of the reasons Schuyler County is now rated “significantly fiscally
stressed” by the Office of the State Comptroller. The Comptroller's
report is designed to alert municipalities to the existence of factors
that are threatening their financial well-being.
Sales tax is an important revenue used to balance county
spending. It’s the Legislature’s job to determine the amount
of sales tax revenue to be put into the budget to balance spending each
year. Most Counties take a conservative approach and budget no more
sales tax than they received in the prior year. The Schuyler Legislature
evidently does not believe in the conservative approach. The Legislature
has overestimated Schuyler’s sales tax in the past three County
budgets. This has added to the County’s fiscal stress. Check out
the 2012, 2013, 2014 budgets on the county’s website (www.schuylercountyny.gov).
You will find the following:
In 2012 the Schuyler Legislature put in $10.2 million
of sales tax revenue. The County took in only $9.6 million -- leaving
it a shortfall of $600,000 of sales tax. For 2013 the Legislature again
put in $10.2 million of sales tax revenue. The County again took in
only $9.6 million -- leaving the County $600,000 short of sales tax
revenues. This adds up to $1.2 million dollars of sales tax revenue
for the two years 2012 and 2013 which were never received.
$1.2 million is a lot of money for a County our size to
cover. Yet, to my dismay for 2014 the legislature again put in $10.2
million for sales tax revenue. Based on the actual sales tax received
I estimate the county could be another $500,000 to $600,000 short. Yet,
what do you think they put in the tentative 2015 Budget for sales tax?
Yes, you guessed …. $10.2 million again.
There is still time. The sales tax in the tentative budget
can still be changed by the Legislature. If not, Schuyler County’s
financial situation will only get worse. If the legislators want to
build up the depleted fund balance, they need to use common sense.
Conservative & Independent Candidate
made me physically ill
To the Editor on Oct. 10:
No matter what side of the issue you fall on, the topic
of storing methane or liquid petroleum in salt caverns adjacent to Seneca
Lake tends to produce a very visceral reaction when discussed. I am
no different; when I read the FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission)
approval story, it actually made me physically ill.
Beyond the seemingly business-as-usual questionable politics (at all
levels), it comes down to a handful of essential questions, as far as
I can tell. What are the benefits to storing hazardous chemicals in
these caverns (despite warnings from geologists with no vested interest)?
Who stands to benefit and how? Does the benefit (to the community) outweigh
the risks (to the community)?
The way I see it, the life blood of this region is the wine industry
and our ever-increasing travel and tourism – supreme scenic beauty,
ample fresh water, bus loads (and literally boat loads) of tourists
who can’t wait to come back, world-renown wines, and so much more.
Look around. This place is a treasure, folks. People come from around
the world to experience it.
Regardless of the percentage of risk, if even the slightest, how can
it possibly be worth it? You can have all the plans you think you need
to react, but if (when) catastrophe happens, it’s “game
over.” If the water becomes contaminated, the scenic beauty compromised,
or the grapes tainted, we are done. What then? What is our legacy?
Who benefits? How do they benefit? Is it worth it (to the rest of us)?
When did the voice of the majority become insignificant? How did the
importance of these basic questions cease to matter? And, yes, the fact
that we have to ask these questions at all makes me sick.
Mr. Lausell's letter ...
The following letter was sent by Schuyler County Legislature
Chairman Dennis Fagan to The Odessa File in answer to a published
letter from Legislator Michael Lausell critical of several aspects of
To the Editor on Oct. 7:
I am writing in response to a recent post by Legislator
Michael Lausell that is critical of the Treasurer's office. While I
respect Legislator Lausell's right to state his opinion, I take exception
to a number of misleading or flat-out inaccurate assertions he makes
and would like to take this opportunity to set the record straight.
In outlining key points to support his position, Mr. Lausell fails to
elaborate on supporting details and selectively presents information
that misleads the reader in furthering his agenda. The following is
my rebuttal, or more appropriately additional information on each of
the points (italicized) he mentions.
Dennis A. Fagan
Schuyler County Legislature Chairman
To see this
letter in its entirety, click here.
to all who made tourney a success
To the Editor on Oct. 6:
The Hackers & Wackers Golf Tournmanet was held Friday,
August 29 at the Watkins Glen Golf Course. All proceeds benefit United
Way of Schuyler County and the 23 agencies it serves. Approximately
$7,500 was raised.
We need to recognize and thank coordinator John Franzese
and his committee of Sarah Matthews, Rosanne Doane, Mary Ellen Fraboni,
and Terry Taney. Without them, the tournament would never have taken
place. The Board of Directors is especially grateful to John for his
determination in bringing back this tournament and doing an outstanding
job the last three years.
We are also deeply indebted to the sponsors, supporters,
and participants of the tournament. There are several golf tournaments
held every year and people have to pick and choose which ones they will
United Way cannot match some of the prizes and incentives
offered by other tournaments. But it can guarantee that the monies raised
go directly back to the residents of Schuyler County and benefit hundreds
of people. Profound thanks to everyone who makes this tournament a fun
event while helping our friends and neighbors improve their quality
of life. Your support is greatly appreciated.
in the County Treasurer's office
To the Editor on Oct. 2:
With a month to go until Election Day, I am concerned
by public statements of how well things are going in the County Treasurer’s
Office since the last treasurer resigned on August 1st. Election rhetoric
should not drown out the real concerns that our community faces in regard
to how our local government manages the funds our taxpayers entrust
to their care.
As a newcomer on the Schuyler County Legislature, I am viewed as one
who asks too many questions and shares too easily with the public, concerns
over how the affairs of our county government are managed. I do so,
not to assign blame, but to speak frankly on issues that are of utmost
concern to all.
* The 2013 yearly independent audit of the Treasurer’s office
has recently been posted to the Schuyler County website and it again
identifies material weaknesses in the daily operations of the treasurer’s
* At the October 14th legislative session we will vote to approve
the payment of $20,000 to cover significant unanticipated expenses involving
the 2013 audit due to deficiencies in our accounting practices that
had to be corrected by the auditors.
* On September 28th, the New York State Comptroller added Schuyler
County to the list of counties in New York State under significant fiscal
* In our budget meetings this week we continue to be hampered in planning
for the 2015 budget by inadequate reports from the Treasurer’s
office regarding our account balances.
To address these issues, we must work together. The full legislature
was not informed that the Comptroller's staff was coming to the county
to discuss the problems in the Treasurer’s office. Only by calling
them beforehand was I able to meet with them.
We must add funding to the 2015 budget for training of the treasurer's
office staff. The very small amount spent on training of staff over
the last three years only hurts us. They should all attend the reasonably
priced Comptroller Accounting School.
We must work closely with our accounting software vendor. In early
July they suggested a small change that will improve the efficiency
and accuracy of data entry. As of last week, it still has not been implemented.
We must accurately define our state of affairs and work together to
deliver the finest local government possible.
Schuyler County Legislator, District 3
make sure open meetings are open
To the Editor on Oct. 1:
Meetings of the Schuyler County Legislature are open
meetings by law. Open means not closed to any member of the public who
wishes to attend. By a resolution of the Schuyler County Legislature;
the public is also guaranteed the right to speak at the beginning of
a meeting (30 minutes) and at the end (15 minutes) of each legislative
meeting. This was one of my first resolutions passed as a legislator.
We wanted to guarantee the people of our community an opportunity to
give their input before and after a decision of the legislature is made.
The night the Schuyler County Legislature voted to support
the Finger Lakes LPG storage project, it was difficult for me to watch
people who came and wanted to speak unable to get into an open meeting.
When the meeting room was full; the doors were closed, leaving many
of the public standing outside. The same thing happened again at the
July legislature meeting I attended. Again not everyone could get into
the meeting room.
No one should be closed out of a public meeting of the
Schuyler County Legislature. An open meeting means it is open to everyone.
According to the Open Meetings Law, the legislature should
have adjourned and moved to a meeting facility that would allow everyone
present the right to attend their open meeting. If elected November
4th as your legislator, you can be assured I would make the motion if
necessary to move an open meeting of the legislature to a location where
none of those who wanted to attend would be left standing outside. I
will keep open meetings open.
Festival has new kickoff
To the Editor on Sept. 28:
The Falls Harvest Festival is October 4, 2014. It is a
family event filled with entertainment, activities, vendors, and food.
year we are kicking off the event with something new: The Fierce Falls
5K Run/Walk sponsored by Visions Federal Credit Union, Welliver, and
Parmenter, Inc. at 11 a.m. More than your average 5K run, this is a
challenge run that begins at the She-qua-gah Falls Park and continues
through the historic “Glorious T,” up the hill and past
the falls. The route is full of obstacles that promise fun to everyone
and a challenge to the most experienced runners. Families are signing
up for the Fun Run, a shorter course for anyone who wants to walk or
run on an autumn day. (For more information, google Fierce
Falls 5K and go to the Facebook page.)
Festival activities starting at 12 noon include bouncy houses, a donut
contest, and a host of activities at the Montour Falls Fire Department
to kick off Fire Prevention Week. Several local restaurants will be
cooking up their best harvest concoctions to compete in the Harvest
Soup Contest. And of course, we will see many entrants for the pumpkin
carving and scarecrow contests. The Lake County Players return this
year with their very popular Ghost Walk.
Our entertainment lineup includes everything from live music to juggling
and a poi fire show, all sponsored by the Montour Falls Fire Department,
Harvest Café, and the ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes.
Music begins at 12 noon and continues all day until the festival closes
at 7:00 p.m. with fireworks over the falls.
You’ll see new booths from regional vendors, along with favorites
including face painting and pumpkin carving demonstrations.
Be sure not to miss this day of fun, live street music and performances,
and a street filled with vendors sharing the bounty of the Autumn harvest.
Chair, Harvest Festival 2014
Board congratulates Jim Frame
To the Editor on Sept. 28:
Last week OMCS superintendent Jim Frame advised the Board
of Education that, after serving the District for nine-plus years, he
will be leaving to accept the District Superintendent position with
The bad news for OMCS is that the District will be losing
one if its longest-serving and most dedicated and able superintendents.
The good news is that Jim will be bringing this same ability and dedication
to our BOCES District.
The Board congratulates Jim on his new position and looks
forward to working with him during the coming transition period.
Robert L. Halpin
Odessa-Montour Central School District Board of Education
action made us all proud
To the Editor on Sept. 22:
On Saturday, September 20, the Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour
varsity girls swim teams participated in the EFA Invitational in Elmira.
There were many other teams present from large schools to small schools.
The swimming competition was awesome to say the least. Our Schuyler
County girls competed at the highest level, leaving many in their wakes.
The event was a success on many levels, in and out of the pool.
Notwithstanding the excellent swimming competition, something
else took place at the meet that has compelled me to write this letter.
At the beginning of the meet, like most other athletic events, the plan
was to play our national anthem. Unfortunately, on this occasion, the
public address announcer stated that there was something wrong with
the system and “we are going to skip the national anthem.”
The crowd slightly booed and then something happened that brought tears
to the eyes of many parents and swim enthusiasts.
Our girls, and those of eleven other schools, belted out
the Star Spangled Banner, in unison and in spectacular fashion, on their
own initiative. To say the least, I was proud to be a parent of one
of those girls and proud to be an American citizen. From the fastest
to the slowest swimmer, these fine young women showed us all that they
do, in fact, get it. Congratulations to the "Swimmin Women"
of WG and the O-M varsity girls. You made us all proud on Saturday.
Joseph G. Fazzary
should videotape meetings
To the Editor on Sept. 22:
Our elected officials need to find better ways of keeping
their constituents informed. All County Legislature meetings and public
hearings are open to the public by law. Unfortunately, the meetings
of the county legislature and their public hearing times are not always
convenient for many of our community to attend. Some counties do videotape
their meetings and public hearings and make them available to the public
on their websites along with their written meeting minutes.
The idea of videotaping meetings has been brought up to
the Schuyler Legislature by the public at recent meetings. The response
is always the same from the Chairman of the Legislature. We are checking
on the costs. I suggest the chairman meet with the Mayor of Watkins
Glen. The Village Board of Watkins Glen does videotape its public meetings
and public hearings. Anyone can go to Village of Watkins Glen website
and watch Village Board meetings or public hearings at their convenience.
I compliment the Village Board members for making their board meetings
more accessible to our community and taxpayers. I would like to see
Schuyler County do the same for us.
to the 'county-tax tango' ...
To the Editor on Sept. 21:
I would like to comment to Editor Charlie Haeffner’s
recent article, “The county-tax tango.”
Having been appointed as Schuyler County Deputy Treasurer
in August, I have had the opportunity to observe many processes and
procedures in the Treasurer’s office, including those of tax collection.
I will be on the ballot in the upcoming November 4th election for Schuyler
County Treasurer; should I be successful, I will be assessing many of
these procedures and their impact to the County and its taxpayers to
identify opportunities where improvements are needed, including those
related to the tax collection process.
I would offer further assurance that come January 2015, all Treasurer’s
office staff will maintain a courteous and professional manner that
will be extended to everyone who may have interaction with the Schuyler
County Treasurer’s office.
Schuyler County Deputy Treasurer
Editor's Note: To
reach "The county-tax tango," click
Charities thanks community
To the Editor on Sept. 19:
Catholic Charities of Chemung/Schuyler is thrilled with
the outpouring of assistance for our recent Back to School Drive.
Thanks to you, we were able to help over 500 children
start the school year right. An example of this tremendous support came
from Mr. Panosian’s, where parents came in to purchase school
sneakers for their children and bought an extra pair for a child in
need. We have amazing people in our community!
Special thanks to the following individuals and businesses
for their support and to everyone who contributed: Cappy’s Cards
& Gifts, Cabins to Castles Real Estate, Lori Coon, Culligan Water,
Mike & Bonnie Donnelly, Famous Brands, Farmer’s Insurance,
Fidelis Care, Food Bank, General Revenue, Glen Mountain Market, Polly
Gutelius, Cathy Heroin, Jerlando’s, Labor of Love, Maguire Motors,
Methodist Youth Group, Montour Moose Lodge, Mr. Panosian’s Famous
Shoes, Elizabeth Parone, Purple Iris Boutique, Schuyler County Mobile
Work Crew, St. Mary’s of the Lake, Tangles-Shanea Rinker, Top’s
N Bottoms-Brandi Crissinger, and Treu Office Supply.
About Catholic Charities Chemung/Schuyler:
Catholic Charities is committed to fighting the effects of poverty and
its root causes through its work. Catholic Charities provides a number
of needed programs and services in the community with a priority toward
the poor. We work to ensure that people have food, clothing, shelter,
medical services, and the ability to achieve a decent standard of living.
For more information, visit cs-cc.org or call the Elmira office at 607.734.9784
or the Watkins Glen office at 607.535.2050.
Catholic Charities’ Director of Development
to those who donated
To the Editor on Sept. 18:
This past June the Burdett community lost an inspirational
matriarch, Ruth Given. Ruth served many roles in our community, including
Fire Commissioner, and a member of the Village Board. It is due to her
constant leadership and support of the fire department that we were
able to purchase our first AED (automatic external defibrillator). This
AED is currently located on our small rescue truck, BR1.
When Ruth passed, her family generously asked that, in
lieu of flowers, donations would be made to our department in her honor.
It has been our goal to purchase a second AED to keep on our engine,
BE4, in the event that it was needed in an emergency involving one of
our members. It is our honor to apply all the donations received in
Ruth’s memory towards this second AED. We have also recently received
a grant to assist in purchasing this unit.
On September 6, 2014, the second AED was put in service!
We would like to thank everyone who sent donations to the Burdett Fire
Company in memory of our beloved Ruth. She was well respected in our
community and is truly missed.
The Burdett Fire Department
to all those who supported me
To the Editor on Sept. 10:
Thank you to all the Republican voters in Legislative
District Six who supported me on Primary Day!
Thanks also to all of the people who allowed me to put
up lawn signs, placed calls, and assisted me in so many ways! And thank
you to my wonderful and supportive family who always work very hard
for me in all my endeavors!
I ask for
your continued support
To the Editor on Sept. 10:
I want to thank all who came out on Primary Day to support
me. I ask for your continued support for the General Election November
All registered voters in District 6 will be able to vote
on November 4th .
You will find me on the CONSERVATIVE line and on an INDEPENDENT
Angie Franzese on Legislature
To the Editor on Sept. 8:
I am writing to urge that Schuyler County citizens in
District 6 get out and vote on Tuesday, Sept. 9 for a person with the
competence to control spending and cut property taxes for all of Schuyler
Angie Franzese is that person.
I have known Mrs. Franzese for over 40 years. While Chairperson
of the County Legislature, she managed to lead Schuyler in the direction
of good fiscal health.
In light of all the recent audits and year after year
increases to property taxes, it is time to elect Angie back into leadership.
Schuyler County taxpayers need her.
I recommend that all voters in District 6 send a clear
message -- that they want taxes reduced -- by electing Angie Franzese,
a fiscal conservative.
A concerned Schuyler County Citizen
tutors and learners
To the Editor on Sept. 8:
September is National Literacy Month. The ability to read
opens so many doors to opportunity. Unfortunately Schuyler County is
not immune to illiteracy and its impact on adult's abilities to expand
their horizons. Economic Opportunity Program of Chemung and Schuyler
County has many programs that serve to help families overcome the obstacles
of poverty. Kristine Morseman of Watkins Glen has recently accepted
the position of Literacy Volunteers Coordinator for Schuyler County
with the agency.
“In a small county such as ours poverty and illiteracy lie quietly
in the community, but they are there and need to be addressed,”
According to Catholic Charities there are currently 14 homeless families
in Schuyler County, yet many community members are unaware of this problem.
Illiteracy exists here as well, and may be even more unnoticed -- yet
needs to be addressed.
“We are not just looking for learners who need basic literacy
skills or English as a second language," says Morseman, explaining
that the goal is to instill "a level of literacy skills that will
allow adults to be successful learning to budget and maintain bank accounts,
continuing their education, and expanding their knowledge for personal
interests in hopes that they will further contribute to our community
with their special skills and talents."
To celebrate National Literacy Month and raise awareness, Morseman
is calling out a challenge to Schuyler County.
"Our goal," she says, "is to recruit 10 tutors in 10
days from September 20 through September 30."
To become a tutor you do not need any special skills, just to be 18
years old, hold a high school diploma, and be willing to commit to tutoring
2 hours a week for one year. All training is provided free of charge,
and the coordinator will work closely with all tutors and learners to
assure they have everything they need for successful learning such as
lesson plans and learning materials.
Be sure to keep on the lookout for special events during the volunteer
drive at local libraries. For more information about becoming a tutor
or learner, you can call 734-6174 EXT 244 or email email@example.com.
Literacy Volunteers of Chemung & Schuyler
responses are online
To the Editor on Sept. 2:
On Wednesday, August 27th, the Odessa Tea Party group
held a candidate forum for candidates for Schuyler County offices running
in the September 9th primary election. This year the group was pleased
to host the Legislative District 6 candidates in the Republican party
primary, incumbent Legislator Phil Barnes and former Legislator Angeline
Franzese. We thank both candidates for taking time out of their busy
campaign schedules to appear before our group.
As part of the candidate vetting process, all candidates appearing
before our group are asked to fill out our Candidate Vetting questionnaire,
which asks a series of questions relating to our group's core principles.
We have made the candidates' answers to our questionnaire available
online, in the hope that it might prove valuable to voters in the district.
The document contains a table of the candidates' answers as well as
additional sheets containing any clarifications of their answers that
they wished to make. This document is available at http://1drv.ms/VO83ln.
A notable result from this year's questionnaire responses is that Angeline
Franzese is the first candidate who has agreed with Tea Party positions
on all of these questions. Ms. Franzese answered all 14 questions with
"Yes" and answered none with either a "No" or an
ambiguous answer. Mr. Barnes answered 5 questions with "Yes",
2 questions with "No" and 7 questions with an answer other
than "Yes" or "No", and often provided an extensive
explanation of his position on a question.
We invite all residents of District 6 to use this document while making
your decision on who to support in the primary. We especially urge everyone
eligible to vote in this primary election to please do so. Primary elections
usually have very light turnout, and every single vote counts.
for the Odessa Tea Party group
Candidate on Sept. 3rd
To the Editor on Aug. 31:
September 9th is the Republican Primary Day for District
6. The polls are open from noon to 9 p.m. Please remember to vote.
The polling place for Dix residents in the Village of
Watkins Glen is at the Community Center at Clute Park. Reading residents
in the Village will vote at the Reading Town Hall, 3934 CR 28.
All are invited September 3rd (from 7-9 p.m.) to a “Meet
the Candidate Night” at The Glen Manor in Watkins Glen on 4th
Street. Please join me for coffee and cake and an opportunity for me
to hear your concerns.
for help on the petitions
To the Editor on Aug. 26:
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to everyone
carrying my petitions for Treasurer, as well as all those people who
signed them, over the past couple of weeks. You all did an amazing job!
Your hard work and continued support are deeply appreciated!
of Library honor Maria Dascalu
on August 19:
For a number of years the Watkins Glen Public Library
has maintained a financial award to be given to a deserving student
studying in the field of Library Science. Very few young people have
gone into this important field and quite often the Library's financial
"gift" is not awarded.
For the past year or so the Officers and Directors of FOWL (Friends
of the Watkins Library) have been discussing the possibility of keeping
this award active or looking for another way to honor a deserving young
man or woman. At our annual meeting this past May it was decided to
create a new award --- in place of the former award for Library Science
-- and select a young person who has made a significant contribution
to either the Watkins Glen Public Library or to the Watkins Glen High
School Library. Both WG Librarian Harriet Eisman and HS Librarian Maggie
Field will collaborate annually to select the award winner.
This year I'm proud to announce the very first winner of this new award
(a monetary gift of $200 to honor someone for demonstrated interest
in the Library and enthusiasm for reading): Maria Dascalu, who was selected
as a representative of the Watkins Glen Public Library. In addition
to being an avid reader and a very consistent visitor to the Public
Library, Maria has volunteered countless hours to assist Mrs. Eisman
and Mrs. Fowler.
Brian J. O'Donnell
President, Friends of the Watkins Library
Photo in text: Brian
J. O'Donnell, President of the Friends of the Watkins Library, presents
a $200 check to Maria Dascalu. (Photo
School fireplace sparks memories
To the Editor on Aug. 15:
That picture of the Middle School fireplace (on the
Home Page) was so nice to see. I remember the cupboards where,
as kindergartners in Miss Abbott's class, our "wraps" were
kept (I had never heard a coat called a wrap until then) ... and on
the shelf above the hooks we stored our mittens and hats in flat cardboard
boxes brought from home for that purpose. The fireplace wasn't the same
brick then ... it was more like white plaster made in an arch over the
fire area, as I remember, and we pretended it was an igloo when we studied
-- and learned about -- Eskimos.
There was a closet with a door in that room, too, where
Miss Abbott put me with big sheets of white newsprint and India ink
and dip pen to make drawings that she mailed in to the Childrens' Activities
Magazine art-page section. She must have thought I had some artistic
ability at age 5. I remember feeling I was missing out on the things
the other kids were doing and I had no idea what to draw ... so I looked
at the bulletin board in the classroom that had a tree with birds around
it and copied that.
Thank you for the sweet memories.
School Giveaway set
To the Editor on Aug. 14:
Catholic Charities is requesting your help preparing
kids for a successful school year. We are in need of the following items:
new or like new clothing, sneakers and backpacks and new school supplies.
Items can be dropped off at Schuyler Outreach, located at 112 Tenth
St. in Watkins Glen (St. Mary’s Center) from Monday, August 18
through Thursday, August 21 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Catholic Charities’ Back to School Giveaway will
be held at Schuyler Outreach on August 21 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. (must
be a Schuyler County resident).
Monetary donations may be sent to Catholic Charities,
607 N. Franklin St., Watkins Glen, NY 14891 or made online at cs-cc.org.
Please indicate Schuyler County Back to School Drive.
About Catholic Charities
Chemung/Schuyler: Catholic Charities is committed to
fighting the effects of poverty and its root causes through its work.
Catholic Charities provides a number of needed programs and services
in the community with a priority toward the poor. We work to ensure
that people have food, clothing, shelter, medical services, and the
ability to achieve a decent standard of living. For more information,
visit cs-cc.org or call the Watkins Glen office at 607-535-2050.
candidates to speak at meeting
To the Editor on Aug. 13:
The Odessa Tea Party group would like to invite everyone
to our first event of the 2014 political campaign season. On Wednesday,
August 27th at 7:00 pm, we will host a public forum for candidates running
for Schuyler County offices in the September 9th primary election. This
forum will take place in the Community Room of the Odessa Municipal
Building at 300 East Main Street in Odessa, NY.
There are races in two of our newly established County Legislature
districts this year. Legislative District 5 (the central and southern
portions of the Town of Dix and the southernmost portion of the Town
of Montour) has only a single candidate running for office, and therefore
will not have a primary for this seat in either party. In Legislative
District 6 (the northernmost portion of the town of Dix and the portion
of the Town of Reading which is within the Village of Watkins Glen),
there are no Democratic candidates running for this seat. District 6
Republicans, however, have two candidates running in this primary election,
with current legislator Phil Barnes facing off against former legislator
Angeline Franzese for this ballot line.
Both Ms. Franzese and Mr. Barnes have agreed to appear at this event.
As this will be the only public candidate forum taking place during
the primary season, it presents the best opportunity for Schuyler County
residents to hear the candidates describe their positions and explain
why they deserve to be (re)elected. There will be ample time for public
questions after the candidates have made their statements. We encourage
everyone, especially registered Republicans residing within the concerned
County Legislature district, to attend this forum.
Please note that this is a date change from our regularly scheduled
meetings on the fourth Tuesday of the month. We have rescheduled our
August meeting to accommodate the candidates' availability and will
return to our normal Tuesday evening meetings in September.
for the Odessa Tea Party group
to salvage our freedom
To the Editor on Aug. 13:
Having grown up in a country far different than what I
observe today, I often wonder if America’s best days are over
and we as a country have surrendered our souls to the socialists, progressives,
fascists, or whatever they elect to call themselves today. We basically
have a two-party system, Republicans and Democrats. The progressives
exist in both parties but absolutely dominate the Democratic party.
You seldom if ever see a conservative Democrat, which is much different
than the 1950s or even in the 1960s.
Today, the Democratic party is all about big government,
and with policies (whereby) many people have no drive to improve their
lot in life. Many young people are content to exist on a day-to-day
basis and blame any and all discrepancies on the greed of the wealthy
people for not “spreading” their wealth. Many of the wealthy
people in this country worked very hard for many years and sacrificed
much “family time” to reach success. It is my belief that
while all people are not born equal, they were all born with equal opportunity.
Every criticism of the current administration leads to
a charge of racism. This is absolutely absurd, but seems to play out
well in the press, to the point that it silences many from expressing
their views. In my opinion the ACA (Obamacare) is a disaster, just as
the VA Government-run health care system is. A recent article in The
Leader referenced Senator Schumer addressing the shortage of physicians.
Is anyone surprised? Now the Government is going to generate more legislation
to address that. President Obama touted that the ACA was to address
the 47 million people with no health insurance. Now the administration
is bragging about getting 8 million people to sign up for the ACA. I
guess we really do not know if they have “officially” signed
up and actually paid for anything, but, not to worry. Meanwhile, it
has been reported over 6 million lost their insurance because of the
ACA and companies just dropped employee insurance packages that they
had been providing. Cheaper for companies to push people to ACA.
My math isn’t very good, but I do not see where
we have even begun to impact these 47 million people addressed in the
campaign, but everyone’s health insurance is nothing but a disaster.
Hopefully it will be repealed if we can get the progressives out of
office, be they Republican or Democrat.
I encourage all veterans, seniors, landowners, and people
who believe in the 2nd Amendment to get involved in getting our country
back. We cannot afford to sit on the sidelines and do nothing. Get involved.
Join a tea party. They are fighting for your rights. Attend a meeting
and meet many good people who want our country back, and elect people
who actually support our Constitution.
I encourage people to vote for Tom Reed for Congress and
Astorino for Governor. Gov. Cuomo has got to go and needs to take his
so-called “Safe Act” and Common Core with him. Stand up
for capitalism. It is what made our country the greatest country on
earth. 2014 is a very important election year, and may be our best chance
to salvage our freedom.
Beaver Dams, NY
stay vigilant on O-M sports
To the Editor on Aug. 13:
Just a reminder to all that the next business meeting
for the Odessa-Montour Board of Education is August 21st at 6 p.m.
At the last meeting many things were discussed, but in particular it
was decided to look closer at combining sports and talk about putting
a plan in place to avoid “what happened at the last meeting.”
My hope is that this means they plan on including the public and keeping
them informed or looking at ways to increase numbers and a more efficient
way to get real numbers of signups, but until it happens I am skeptical.
It was put on the list of future workshops and goals for the year.
Check the agenda on the O-M website to see what topics
will be voted on at the next meeting; they usually post the agenda the
Friday afternoon before the meeting. Come be heard if it is an issue
you feel strongly about. I can tell you that general discussions do
not have to be put on the agenda; only issues that will be voted on
will be on there. So please do not assume because an issue is not on
the agenda that they will not be talking about it.
To the 100+ students and parents that came to that June 12th meeting,
just remember this is not over. We must stay vigilant so that the board
knows what the students in particular want. We all hoped after that
meeting that a clear message was sent, but I have to assume that because
combining is still being discussed as an option, it was just put aside
to make the crowd happy. Now that two new board members are in place,
their goals are unclear, and the support we had at that meeting may
have changed. I don’t know, as I do not have personal knowledge
of what direction these new members are leaning. I do know that one
of them brought it up to be put on the list for discussion.
Winter sports will be looked at very soon. Sports such as wrestling,
bowling and boys swimming -- which have generally lower numbers than
sports like basketball -- will be up for discussion about possible combining.
Then it will be spring sports and then once again fall sports. No sports
are safe necessarily. Any sport in which sign-ups fall below what they
deem as an appropriate number will be targeted. I believe everyone needs
to have their voice be heard. Whether you support combining or you are
against it to the point where you would rather see no sports at Odessa,
or something in between, speak out. I also strongly encourage Watkins
students and parents to weigh in as this will also affect them. I am
sure their board must also vote on whether to combine as well, so they
should let the board know their thoughts on it.
I also want to send out a message to O-M students that you need to sign
up for sports you want to play. You can no longer assume they will be
there when it is time to play. If you do not sign up, it may be gone
by the time you show up.
focus is on education
To the Editor on Aug. 8:
The Schuyler County Chapter of S.C.O.P.E. (The Shooters' Committee
on Political Education) would like to invite everyone with an interest
in firearms and Second Amendment rights to attend our next meeting.
We meet monthly on the second Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. at the
Moose Lodge in Montour Falls. Our current focus is on educating Schuyler
County residents about, and organizing opposition to, the New York SAFE
This month's meeting will take place on August 14th. Our guest speaker
will be NYS Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (132nd district), who will speak
to us about opposition to the SAFE Act within the legislature and the
issues at stake in the upcoming election. S.C.O.P.E. is actively seeking
to register voters for the upcoming election, as a massive voter turn-out
from upstate gun enthusiasts is the key to sending a message to Albany
to repeal this legislation.
We are also in the midst of selling tickets for a raffle to fund our
educational activities. The prize to be awarded is a NY State SAFE Act
compliant AR-15 rifle or $400. The cost is $5 for a single ticket or
$10 for three tickets. Anyone desiring tickets may purchase them at
the meeting or by contacting Mark Rondinaro at 607-398-0648. Finally,
if anyone is in need of voter registration forms, we can supply them
to you at the meeting as well.
Schuyler County S.C.O.P.E.
6's GOP voters have a choice
To the Editor on Aug. 5:
There will be a Republican Primary for Legislative District
6 on September 9, 2014. The Republican voters of District 6 do have
a choice. I am a graduate of Watkins Glen Central School, Geneseo and
the leadership and Management Program at Virginia State University.
I have worked for Roswell in Buffalo and for Cornell University. My
husband and I have owned and operated the Villager Motel in Watkins
Glen for over 28 years. I have been a member of the League of Woman
Voters, the Regional Housing Council, the Watkins/Montour International
Zonta Club, the Montour Moose Club, the Chamber of Commerce, and the
Schuyler County Lodging & Tourism Association.
As a District 1 legislator, I served 5 years (1992-1996)
as Chairman of the Schuyler County Legislature. In 1995 and 1996 I also
served as chairman of the Chemung, Schuyler & Steuben Regional Planning
and Economic Development Board. My leadership role in lobbying the state
for Mandate Relief for Schuyler got me elected chairman of The New York
State Association of Chairs of Legislative Boards in 1995. I chaired
the first meeting between the Governor and the Legislative Board Chairs
& County Executives to discuss the removal of state mandates from
County tax bills. This is still far from happening.
In the meantime Legislators need to address spending they
can control. That is one reason I am running again. I have been going
out in District 6 and listening to the people; I have heard over and
over again that increasing property taxes and the safety of our county
are their main concerns.
Schuyler at the end of 1991 had reached its taxing limit
set by the State Constitution. It ended the year with a $300,000 deficit
and no cash in the bank. Things could not have been any worse for our
county. At the January 1992 organizational meeting, I was elected the
first woman chairman of the Schuyler County Legislature. During this
same time the county had a state mandated $2.1 million building addition,
an emergency replacement of our communications tower, several major
local share Medicaid increases, numerous snow, flood and bridge emergencies.
We maintained our infrastructure and I kept my word to the people I
represented. During my five years as Chairman the 1991 deficit was paid
in full, the county again had the recommended dollars in the bank to
protect our taxpayers and property taxes never increased during those
My focus along with keeping a watchful eye on spending
will be to listen to what the people of District 6 are saying. My platform
is simple: I will protect our environment, support our growing tourism
industry and other businesses, and encourage economic development to
fill our industrial park.
to Freeman and co-sponsors
To the Editor on Aug. 4:
I would like to express my sincere thank-you to the groups
that helped co-sponsor the Tyrone Open Meetings Forum on July 31.
I believe everyone who attended walked away with a little
more knowledge on the two important topics: the Open Meetings law and
Freedom of Information laws, which go hand in hand.
Special thanks to guest speaker Robert Freeman, Executive Director
of the Committee on Open Government in the New York State Dept. Of State.
Also to: The Friends Of Tyrone, The Odessa Tea Party and the SCOPE
fire unit earns $300,000 grant
To the Editor on July 31:
It is my pleasure to announce that the Watkins Glen Fire
Department has been selected for an Assistance to Firefighters Grant
Program award from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The
grant is for the amount of $300,000 and will be used to fund new apparatus.
The process of building the new apparatus is expected to take up to
a year. The apparatus will be replacing a 1986 Auto Car Tanker/Tender
that has been out of service since last October with major mechanical
and safety issues. This will be the 5th grant award to the Watkins Glen
FD from FEMA since 2007.
I would like to say thank you to FEMA for recognizing
the need here in this great community, but secondly thank you to the
line staff at the Watkins Glen Fire Department for continuing to work
hard to offset the cost of the fire service to the taxpayer. A special
thank you to Captain and past Chief Dominick Smith for facilitating
this grant last year. Your hard work paid off. Last but not least, thank
you to the public for your constant support and belief in us. We will
give updates to the apparatus build as it gets under way.
Watkins Glen Fire Chief
diabetes through Tour de Cure
To the Editor on July 29:
Help “Stop Diabetes” with your support of
the Tour de Cure cycling event this summer.
This American Diabetes Association fundraiser will be
hosted August 16 in Watkins Glen. Join hundreds of riders from every
experience level as they pedal for prevention and treatment of diabetes.
The disease is growing at an epidemic rate, taking someone’s
life every 17 seconds. Currently it affects more than 26 million children
and adults – approximately 7 million of whom don’t even
know they have it. In addition, more than 79 million American adults
are at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
Tour de Cure promotes healthy living and raises critical
funding for research, support and advocacy. Each participant raises
funds to ride in routes that range from 15 to 100 miles.
Each year a growing number of diabetic “Red Riders”
take part in the Tour de Cure as a testament to the ADA’s important
work and the value of donations to the cause.
Be a part of the movement to stop the growing diabetes
crisis. Register to ride or support another cyclist at www.diabetes.org/flxtour.
American Diabetes Association
forward to seeing a large turnout
To the Editor on July 28:
I am writing to let everyone know of a great event which
is happening this week. Robert J. Freemen, Esq., the Executive Director
of the NYS Committee on Open Government, is coming to Schuyler County.
Mr Freeman will be speaking on Thursday, July 31 at 7:00 p.m. in the
Tyrone Fire Hall at 3600 State Route 226 in Tyrone, NY. His topic will
be a discussion of the requirements of the state Open Meetings and Freedom
of Information laws, and our rights as citizens under these laws.
Mr Freeman is an attorney and an internationally acclaimed expert in
the areas of Open Government and Freedom of Information law, and we
are very fortunate to be able to have him speak here. He is the recipient
of numerous awards for his work in Open Government law; a brief biography
of Mr. Freeman is available at: http://www.nysba.org/workarea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=43621
This meeting promises to be very interesting and highly educational.
Mr. Freeman is an excellent speaker, and the information that he will
be presenting is vital for all citizens who are interested in keeping
government (at all levels) responsive and accountable. I look forward
to seeing a large turnout for this event.
Finally, I would like to thank the event's sponsors, Alan Hurley, the
"Friends of Tyrone" and the Odessa Tea Party group for arranging
this event. Mr. Hurley in particular deserves a vote of gratitude for
doing the legwork to bring Mr. Freeman here. Thank you very much, Alan.
a survey ...
To the Editor on July 27:
Hi. I was reading through The Forum a while back and saw
that someone wondered what the kids thought about the possibility of
OM and Watkins combining. I am completing my Bachelor's Degree and needed
a project for a class called Communication Through New Media. So....
naturally I thought "Well, let's see." I have set up a Facebook
page and a short online survey. I was hoping that you could share the
links for anyone interested. The survey is anonymous. I am the only
one who will see the actual answers. I will post results on the Facebook
page, as well as updates and answers to questions. Thank you.
resign from the post of treasurer
To the Editor on July 21:
I wanted to send this to you so that you could post it
if you wanted. This has been a very difficult decsion, brought about
by family issues. The letter says it all.
Schuyler County Treasurer’s Position
Letter of Resignation
There comes a time for everyone when family events occur that bring
about a change of life focus. I have recently endured such an event…
and it has, and is still changing my focus.
Because of this change in focus, I am officially tendering my resignation,
effective August 1st, 2014, from the position of Schuyler County Treasurer.
I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been exceptionally
patient and understanding during my tenure here. I also want to express
my great pride in the teams I have worked with and the forward strides
we have made, and improvements that have been put in place for the future
of Schuyler County.
I wish you all the very best in your future ventures.
to those who helped with banquet
To the Editor on July 20:
The Watkins Glen High School Alumni Association board
of directors would like to express their thanks for another very successful
annual banquet held at the Watkins Glen Community Center on Saturday,
This banquet is, indeed, unique. It provides a forum for alumni from
every year and guests to come together to celebrate and reconnect with
fellow classmates and school mates. This year every decade from the
'30's through the '80's had representatives in attendance. It is also
unique because we recognize and honor distinguished alumni and award
three scholarships totaling $5,000 to current graduating seniors.
Therefore, special thanks go to the class contacts who put forth an
effort in locating classmates and informing them of the banquet. And
we greatly appreciate those who support the banquet by simply attending.
Those who choose to get together with just their fellow graduates miss
out on the opportunity to pay tribute to our oldest and most revered
fellow alumni. They also are denied the pride in witnessing the presentation
of the scholarships to three talented and well deserving graduates who
may one day come back and be recognized as distinguished alumni.
We would also like to publicly recognize and thank Famous Brands, Glen
Mountain Market, Don Romeo, Michelle Hyde, and Bleachers for contributing
their time and talents. We hope to see you June 27, 2015 for the 90th
annual WGHS Alumni Banquet.
on a job well done
To the Editor on July 20:
Bob Morin Jr. did the half ironman recently in Geneva,
New York. (He is a Watkins Glen High School graduate.)
The race calls for a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride,
topped off with a 13.2-mile half marathon. He finished in 7 hours and
Bob came all this way from San Antonio, Texas with his
wife Jill and two daughters, Ellis, 8, and Harper, 6.
Bob Sr. and Marianne Morin
of Tax Relief
To the Editor on July 17:
Recently, the City of Corning hosted a coalition of local
governments, school districts and businesses in which they called on
state lawmakers to enact mandate relief for schools and local government.
A number of recommendations were offered to ease the financial burden
of unfunded state mandates including arbitration, pension, health insurance,
and prevailing wage changes. While Corning Mayor Richard Negri, City
Manager Mark Ryckman, and their City Council should be lauded for raising
public awareness of the adverse impacts caused by unfunded stae mandates,
there was no discussion of tax relief legislation which was passed in
Albany this year and has been touted by the Governor at every opportunity.
The Governor has done a masterful job of promoting this legislation
as the vehicle for moving us away from being one of the highest taxed
states in the country. Unfortunately, when one "peels back the
onion" and considers the actual legislation, this is nothing more
than a sham to our taxpayers, who deserve meaningful tax cuts as opposed
(The complete text of this letter
can be found here.)
behavior was disturbing
To the Editor on July 17:
Shame on Who?
Putting politics aside, whatever side you are on, who you did or did
not vote for, what you do or do not support, putting all of this aside
for a moment. The performance of the Gas Free Seneca and Concerned Citizens
of Schuyler County groups in the parking lot after Monday night’s
Legislative meeting is nothing short of disturbing. It goes against
the grain of human nature and mankind to treat a person or persons in
such manner because they have a difference of opinion. What is even
more disturbing to me is that these same folks who, as one person in
attendance stated, are a “kind and friendly group,” are
a far cry from that -- clearly evidenced on a video of Chairman Fagan
as he left the County Building.
This video is now posted on YouTube in what is portrayed to be a proud
moment for the groups. It is, in my opinion, painful to watch. To watch
the protesters verbally and physically assault Mr. Fagan is just a disgrace.
Those involved should be ashamed. I don’t know Mr. Fagan personally;
however, while watching this video one can very quickly conclude that
he is a man of integrity. He walked through this angry crowd with grace
and dignity, never wavering from his stride.
The posting of the video is a twofold matter for me, one being that
these groups have showed they have no respect for others or themselves
and in my opinion lose all credibility by their disturbing behavior.
And two, Mr. Fagan is an upstanding man with a great deal of integrity.
So as painful as the video is to watch, it shows a true reality. I applaud
Mr. Fagan, Chairman of the Schuyler County Legislature, for taking the
high road. It takes a bigger man to walk away than to stand and fight.
Bonnie S. Howell
is acceptable: America needs companies who are in the LPG business
To the Editor on July 17:
Over the past few weeks, I've tried to read up and familiarize
myself with the LPG Gas Storage issue going on in Watkins Glen. I no
longer live in the area, but I am not ruling out the possibility of
returning one day and again making it my home. As such, I thought it
would be wise to read up on the local issues, specifically those pertaining
to the environment and impacting our beautiful lake and surrounding
waterfalls and gorges.
I read about a lot of protests against the LPG facility. I see that
there are concerns over the safety of the water supply as it relates
to the storage. I see that there are concerns about the semi-truck traffic
that will coincide with the facility. I've also read about concerns
in regard to pipelines that will be used in the project.
I'm happy to see so many people in my hometown concerned with environmental
safety. It is something we should all be cognizant of while we walk
this earth. You only get one life and one planet. I am, however, curious
as to why all of a sudden there is this newfound concern for environmental
safety now that an LPG facility is on the horizon.
(The complete text of this letter
can be found here.)
doing this for 8 jobs?
To the Editor on July 16:
I haven't followed the LPG controversy as closely as I
should have, especially since I live so close (Watkins Glen).
I wonder if the Schuyler County Legislature has ever given a reason
why they would like to put the people, the lake, etc. in danger.
Certainly they must have a reason other than the so-called promise of
won't hold July meeting
To the Editor on July 17:
I am writing to inform your readers that The Odessa Tea Party group
will not be holding our regularly scheduled July meeting, which would
have been held next Tuesday, July 22 at 7:00. We will be meeting on
August 26 for our Schuyler County Primary Election Candidate Vetting
Forum and look forward to seeing everyone at that event.
for the Odessa Tea Party Group
Your action is disappointing
To the Members of the Schuyler County Legislature
on July 15:
I live two miles downhill from the proposed storage sites. Dozens and
dozens of propane trucks and semi tractor trailers barrel down past
my home every day.
I was present in the Legislative Chamber last evening when you considered
a resolution to rescind your affirmative resolution regarding the storage
of liquid propane in the Town of Reading.
I am very disappointed that you have not heeded the warnings of those
who are justly concerned regarding safety issues. The company's offer
to provide safety plans after construction and operation have begun
is a plan that no other business would possibly be allowed.
But I am more disappointed that you have not heeded the voices of wineries,
lodging, restaurants and everyone else who depend on the presence of
a million tourists every year. Our County is about to become the Napa
Valley of the East Coast. The world is already coming to the shores
of Seneca Lake to grow, make, sell and drink wine. This is our economy.
God gave us this beautiful lake and this wonderful soil and Schuyler
County is poised to be at the forefront of all of it. And this project
risks everything. It would seem that only fools would make this gamble.
All of that being said, I am embarrassed at the behavior exhibited
in the County Building parking lot last night. None of you deserve to
be accosted and shouted at by anyone. We have a disagreement, a very
serious one. But the behavior of a few persons stains all of us who
disagree with your position. I cannot apologize for anyone else, but
I apologize for their behavior and accept some responsibility for whatever
I could have done to prevent it. It was unbecoming for all of us who
want this propane storage project to fail.
The Reverend Michael Hartney
Episcopal Parishes of Schuyler County
Resident of the Village of Watkins Glen & the Town of Reading
reconsider sub pay hike
To the Editor on July 11:
The phrase “penny wise and pound foolish”
came to mind when I read about the Odessa-Montour BOE’s rejection
of Scott Westervelt’s motion to increase sub pay. While I applaud
Scott’s suggestion, as someone who still cares about the place
I worked for many years, I’d ask the board to revisit this issue.
H. Ross Perot once famously said, “If you pay peanuts,
you’ll get monkeys.” To get quality subs, O-M must raise
the bar. Already, I’m willing to bet there are many days when
there is a sub shortage. While most subs clearly aren’t subbing
for the money, being ordinary people, who must at least consider the
financial implications of the work they do, most are apt to go the districts
within driving distance who pay considerably more (such as Horseheads).
Subbing can be rewarding, but also, at times, frustrating.
Many of today’s young people aren’t inclined to work very
hard, even for their regular teachers, and can often be less than pleasant
to interact with.
As someone who subs every day school is in session, I
understand the issues involved here quite well. Even though I now live
and work in Florida, the educational climates and pressures here and
in NYS are quite similar. In the best interests of the students, the
subs, and the taxpayers, I urge the board to reconsider Scott’s
consider donation to Devon Fund
To the Editor on July 8:
A gathering and celebration will be held on July 12,
2014 to raise funds for the newly-formed Defense for Devon Memorial
Fund. As we prepare for our first fundraiser, we would like to request
your assistance in making this inaugural event a success. Your support
can be in the form of either a prize or monetary donation.
Defense for Devon Memorial Fund (The Fund) was created in loving memory
of Devon Shaw who, after a courageous and inspiring battle against cancer
for nearly four years, passed away on July 9, 2013. He was just 18 years
old. Devon, or Big Dev as he was known to many, may have been small
in stature but he was larger than life. His spirit and infectious sense
of humor will be forever remembered, and it is through these memories
that the community can begin to heal and make sense of this poignant
The local community will come together on Saturday, July 12 from 3-9
p.m. at the Montour Moose Lodge to remember Devon and the lifelong lessons
he taught us. We will join in fellowship and celebration to raise money
to support a variety of programs including cancer treatment and prevention,
plus caregiving and respite for families impacted by childhood cancer.
The Fund will also award an annual scholarship to a Watkins Glen area
student who displays the importance of family, friends, and community
in his daily living.
The Fund is administered by The Community Foundation of the Elmira-Corning
and Finger Lakes Area, Inc. (www.communityfund.org).
We are seeking donations of gift certificates or merchandise to help
raise money through raffle prizes. Monetary donations will go directly
to The Fund. Please consider what you can do to support this inaugural
event. Your donation will help build attendance for the event, and your
business will be acknowledged at the event and in media outlets throughout
I will contact you shortly and will be happy to pick up your donation
at your convenience. Should you have any questions or need further information,
please contact me at 607-425-5027. Any support you can provide will
be greatly appreciated!
On behalf of the Defense for Devon Memorial Fund
about bridge's safety
To the Editor on July 8:
Today a truck tipped over while crossing the newly rebuilt
overpass at the junction of Route 14 and Route 14A north of Watkins
Glen. I just wanted to let you know, as my family lives just north of
the overpass and we have concerns about the safety of this bridge, especially
with regards to propane truck traffic.
Brett and Mendy Thorsland
3975 Route 14
Rock Stream, NY
let's restore English courses
that have been eliminated at WGHS
To the Editor on July 8:
At a time when English Language Arts skills are the very
focus of the new Common Core State Standards it seems puzzling to think
that the Watkins Glen School District would be doing anything other
than supporting and nurturing the English courses that we currently
have. However this is the changing reality for ELA students at Watkins
Glen High School.
This past school year, before students had an opportunity
to enroll in the advanced English 11 phase 4 class, the District decided
to cut the course, which traditionally served as the prerequisite for
12th grade ACE English. As a result, the size of the other advanced
English 11 course, AP English Language and Composition, has nearly tripled,
which will surely impact the way the course is taught starting next
Furthermore, the advanced 12th grade AP English Literature
and Composition course has been terminated for the 2014-2015 school
year. This is especially disheartening for the thirteen students who
had already signed up to participate. This is double the number of students
who were enrolled in the course for the 2013-2014 school year.
12th grade AP English Literature has been a course that
our District has offered for decades to our most academically sophisticated
seniors. Historically it has had smaller class sizes due to the irrefutable
fact that the course is incredibly challenging and rigorous; attracting
the top ten percent of our most advanced learners. It is a course that
is perfectly aligned with the new Common Core State Standards and is
the epitome of college and career readiness. AP courses are widely accepted
at state colleges and major universities and afford students and their
families the opportunity to save money and time as they pursue their
post-secondary education goals.
Consequently, as any senior or the parent of a senior
can tell you, prospective colleges closely scrutinize a student’s
senior year course load. College admissions officers look to see what
higher level courses a school district offers and how many of those
courses a 12th grade student has willingly elected to take. 12th grade
students who demonstrate a willingness to take more challenging courses
are undeniably more likely to be selected for admission over students
who simply coast through their senior year.
By eliminating 12th grade AP English Literature we run
the risk of making 11th grade AP English irrelevant, as it was considered
the prerequisite course for 12th grade AP English. As it stands, the
English Department will be losing four courses starting next year, including
Public Speaking and Creative Writing.
I implore the members of the Watkins Glen Board of Education
to restore the English courses that have been eliminated. Allow the
thirteen incoming seniors currently enrolled in 12th grade AP English
Literature and Composition, as well as those who wish to explore other
English courses, the same opportunity many of their brothers, sisters,
and other family members had when they attended Watkins Glen High School.
Surely, as a District we can come up with creative and
innovative ways of addressing the needs of all our students without
sacrificing the educational opportunities for many of our most advanced
and academically gifted students.
Liam F. O’Kane
Acting Interim President
Watkins Glen Faculty Association
enough not to vote for Reed
To the Editor on June 30:
If we can foolishly send $500 million to Iraq so they
can squander it-again, why can't we extend unemployment benefits to
our own people so that they can foolishly squander the money on things
like food, utilities, clothing, etc.?
I know some unemployed people and they are not lazy people. They are
people who lost their jobs through no fault of their own and now can't
find decent jobs. They simply want to provide for their families.
Tom Reed voted aginst extending benefits and that is reason enough for
me not to vote for him. Maybe it's time for him to be unemployed.
for helping Spirit of Schuyler
To the Editor on June 26:
With deepest appreciation, the Spirit of Schuyler Board
would like to thank everyone for their wonderful support during the
Watkins Glen Waterfront Festival and Cardboard Boat Regatta:
Caryl Sutterby and Watkins Glen Promotions for choosing our organization
as recipients of the proceeds for the People’s Choice voting stones,
Maguire and the Watkins Glen State Park Gift Shop for their generous
sponsorships and the Village Marina Bar & Grill for tent space.
And of course, many thanks also to our terrific group of volunteers
who donated their time to the event.
It is this amazing support from all of our community that allows Spirit
of Schuyler to continue its mission of assisting county residents in
times of need.
Spirit of Schuyler Board
raised for Catholic Charities
To the Editor on June 26:
Catholic Charities held its First Annual Garden Soiree
on Saturday, June 21, at Lakewood Vineyards. This successful fundraiser
raised $6,200 through silent and live auctions as well as ticket sales
and sponsorships. These funds will support Catholic Charities’
efforts to end local poverty, increase self-sufficiency and help individuals
and families grow and prosper.
Guests enjoyed dancing under the stars on the longest day of the year
with The Unusual Suspects and An Artist’s Depiction. We celebrated
the beauty of summertime and the good work that Catholic Charities does
all year long.
The evening’s success is attributed to the following community-minded
individuals and businesses: Dr. John Carozza, Corning Catering, Inc.,
Lakewood Vineyards, Mr. David Bartone, Mrs. Kathy Cole, West Wind Consulting,
Plenty of Posies, Empire Access, Mr. Curt Connelly, The Unusual Suspects,
An Artist’s Depiction, NYSEG, DL Group – Direct Mail Services,
Mrs. Karen Schamel, Catholic Charities’ Staff, Board of Directors
and the Schuyler Advisory Board. Thank you all for your support.
Katie E. Rhodes
Catholic Charities of Chemung & Schuyler Counties
to lose by filing claim for signs
To the Editor on June 25:
I read with interest the dilemma of the "lost signs"
and the question of added expense to the Village of Watkins Glen. It
appears that the signs were indeed lost in the fire and they were overlooked
when filing the claim. This being the case, the village's agent should
be able to file an "ammendum" or "supplement" to
the claim and the village would be paid an additional amount for the
loss of the signs. If later the signs turned up, the village would reimburse
the insurance company. There is nothing to lose by pursuing this. The
only thing that could be a possible issue is if too much time has passed
since the loss. Again nothing to lose by trying. I'm surprised the agent
hasn't suggested this? I've filed similar claims for my clients during
my 42 years as an independent insurance agent.
John T. Senka
to Rotary for hosting fund-raiser
To the Editor on June 23:
Catholic Charities would like to thank the Watkins-Montour
Rotary Club for hosting “Ribs and Riesling,” a very successful
fund-raiser for Catholic Charities’ Schuyler Outreach Food Pantry.
Due to incredible community support, the event raised $1,200 on May
22 at The Fontainebleau Inn.
This monetary support is essential considering that in the last three
months, Schuyler Outreach and our network of food pantries served an
average of 716 individuals each month – 186 children, 394 adults
and 136 elderly persons. Says Nancy Brand, Director of Schuyler Outreach:
“Our community may be small, but its support is huge! The need
gets greater and greater, but it seems the support does too. I think
that is the beauty of being a small community. We are aware of each
other’s needs, and those who can step up to the plate
do. Rotary is a huge support to our community, and we are grateful they
are on our team!”
We are thankful for the support of the following business sponsors:
Visions Federal Credit Union, Welliver, Water Works, Great Escape &
Everything Ice Cream, E.C. Cooper, Inc., and Ergogreen, Inc.
With the community’s help, Catholic Charities will be able to
supply families in need with nine tons of food. Through the gifts, time
and support of our local community, together we are fighting the effects
of poverty in Schuyler County.
For additional information about Schuyler Outreach, or about becoming
a volunteer, please contact Catholic Charities of Schuyler County at
607-535-2050 or visit www.cs-cc.org.
Katie E. Rhodes
Catholic Charities of Chemung & Schuyler Counties
participating in the parade
To the Editor on June 21:
This year marks the 35th year of the Schuyler County
Italian American Festival, which will take place on August 1, 2, 3,
If you have a classic car, pets (horses, dogs, etc), club, or other
group that you would like to showcase, consider participating in the
parade on Saturday, August 2.
Contact me for details and to sign up. Leave a message at 535-4296
or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
to weekend sponsors, helpers
To the Editor on June 17:
The weather Friday night at the Watkins Glen Waterfront
Festival was a showcase of what Mother Nature can stir up on Seneca
Lake….from beautiful sunshine to a monsoon in 0 to 60. But even
Mother Nature couldn’t prevent Mike Morse of Pro Audio Consulting
and his crew from providing a beautiful showcase for Seneca Harbor Park
Marina during the Harbor Lights event that evening.
Huge thanks to our Harbor Lights sponsor, The Watkins
Glen Harbor Hotel, supported by Hazlitt 1842 Vineyards, Lakewood Vineyards,
Seneca Excursions, Seneca Harbor Station, Seneca Lake Wine Trail, and
Village Marina Bar & Grill. Mike and his crew from Pro Audio orchestrated
a picturesque display with support from many marina boaters.
The sun came out Saturday morning -- Cardboard Boat Regatta
day -- for just a few minutes… and then was replaced by clouds
and a chilly wind that saw most visitors wearing hoodies and cool weather
gear. Voting for most popular boat was conducted by the Spirit of Schuyler,
a gregarious group of volunteers who raise money each year to support
those in Schuyler County who are trying to support themselves. Over
70 boats registered for this year’s event. Though a large percentage
of the boats finished the event, not all of those that crossed the finish
line looked anything like what they did at the launch.
We thank the Watkins Glen Fire Department, Watkins Glen
Village Police and the Schuyler County Sheriff’s Safety crew for
keeping us safe. And we thank the announcers of the Cardboard Radio
Network, Radar Ryan, Chris P Bacon and Mike Paz, for keeping us informed.
Hats off to the Schamel Family and Terry and Lisa and the Freedom Village
crew for all their efforts. Huge thanks to the Dundee Varsity Club,
Kate and Katie and our superb starters Steve Brace, Shawn Brace and
Wyatt Sutterby. And, of course the film crew for BIG FOX TV…Bill
and his posse, who are everywhere…in the water and in the air
capturing this crazy event for posterity.
While it takes a Village and a County to put this event
on…there is a core group of hardy volunteers who are responsible
for putting together this event year after year! You know who you are…please
know that as always, it was a job well done.
Last, but never least, we thank the boat builders, the
captains and crews! The real stars of the event! You come in all shapes
and sizes and from all backgrounds…yet you all gather on a Saturday
in June, and give those of us who line the harbor a fantastic show…an
afternoon of laughter…and a look at true determination.
From all of us, we salute you the 2014 Class of Cardboard
Sailors of the Seneca Harbor Park Marina!
Caryl Sutterby, Event Chair,
Watkins Glen Promotions, Watkins Glen, New York
interested in a root-cause analysis
To the Editor on June 16:
I'm pretty far behind in this conversation, so I admittedly
do not have all of the information in regard to the discussion about
combining sports -- specifically football -- at the two schools.
That said, I'm beyond shocked that it's a discussion. I can only assume
it's a money thing. It must be. No way can it be a participation issue.
Football is still this country's most popular sport. I can't imagine
high schools the size of Watkins Glen or Odessa-Montour not being able
to round up 24 kids apiece (an average of 8 players from 10th, 11th
and 12th grades) to field competitive small-school football teams.
I live on the outskirts of Omaha, Nebraska. There are small towns the
size of both Watkins Glen and Montour Falls dotting Nebraska countryside
outside of the Omaha city limits. I don't know of any school in any
of those towns that doesn't field a competitive football team.
If manning is in fact the case, I'd be interested in a root-cause analysis
as to how it got to that point.
Watkins Glen High School Class of 1997
meeting topic: Obamacare
To the Editor on June 16:
The Odessa Tea Party group would like to invite everyone
to our next regular meeting on Tuesday, June 24 at 7:00 pm. We meet
in the Community Room of the Odessa Municipal Building at 300 East Main
Street in Odessa, NY.
Our June meeting will feature Dr. Michael "Mike" Morrongiello,
who will be giving us a presentation on the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)
and why it is the "wrong prescription" for solving America's
health care issues. As a clinician, Dr. Morrongiello has an insider's
understanding of what will and will not work in the health care arena,
and is seeing the effects of this law in his practice regularly.
Dr. Morrongiello is a psychologist in private practice in Corning.
He is the former Chairman of the Corning City Republican Committee and
a current member of the Town of Corning Republican Committee. "Mike"
has also written many articles that have appeared in the Elmira
Star-Gazette and the Corning Leader.
Dr. Morrongiello gave this same presentation earlier this year to the
Twin Tiers Tea Party in Chemung County, and it was well received, with
attendees saying that the information presented was both interesting
and valuable. We invite everyone to attend and become better informed
about this boondoggle masquerading as health care reform.
for the Odessa Tea Party Group
we may need to look at options
To the Editor on June 15:
First of all I want to thank the Odessa-Montour School
Board. Being a person who frequently attends board meetings, I know
the hard work they put in. I have no doubt they want what they believe
is best for our children.
Second, I want to say how brave those students were to
get up and tell the board their thoughts and experiences. There was
no "speculation" nor "misinformation" from them.
They spoke from the heart and from how they have been treated and what
they have learned.
Also I would like to say I know I spoke from facts, from
spending time with these students at events, seeing what they go through.
There would be fewer opportunities for our kids at this time if you
combine two teams of 20. It could mean at least 10 students who would
lose, when it is not necessary at this time. It was proven that we have
plenty of students to make up a team; those were facts.
I can say that a student would never be moved up to varsity
without first passing a rigorous maturity test that not all or even
half pass. They must prove that they are physically and mentally prepared
to compete in their chosen sport. Not a single person in authority would
take a risk with an athlete's health. I know many students who have
successfully played sports at the varsity level as freshmen with no
added risk due to their age.
I can say that some day we may need to look at options
if that is what is needed, but I believe it should be done with full
transparency, with the public given an opportunity to engage and participate
in the process -- and that both schools be represented with changes
in uniforms, names and playing fields considered. I definitely think
if a kid wants to play a sport that we don't offer, they should. I know
we took on a swimmer from Spencer-Van Etten successfully. If the paperwork
is done and the opportunity is searched out, any student at any school
can play whatever sport they want. If Watkins is willing to take students
from O-M, say for Indoor Track, it could be done. There is no need to
combine at this point.
All our students can have all they want; they just need
to seek out their desires. I just want my kids to be able to represent
the school they love, with the people they consider their family.
benefit from a shared program
To the Editor on June 14:
The crowd at the Odessa-Montour June 12th Board of Education
meeting were pretty clear in their desire to stop playing football and
swimming all together, if their only other choice is to merge those
particular sports with Watkins Glen. Their speeches included a great
deal of speculation and misinformation. The Board should not have been
surprised by the emotional strings tied to sports, especially football.
When considering a change in that program or sports in general, public
announcements or public meetings specifically on those topics should
be planned and advertised.
As for any proposal to change the sports programs at Odessa-Montour,
my concern is that the lack of participation is causing dangerous team
configurations. The young man who spoke to being put on varsity football
because there were not enough students to organize a modified team was
upsetting to me. A student with 4 to 5 years difference in age should
not be playing on a full contact, varsity team. A student prematurely
promoted to a varsity sport will never get the playing time to truly
experience the sport or build his or her skills. In addition, putting
13-14 year olds on the same field with 17-18 year olds is risking the
chance that a student will be permanently disabled from a high school
Going forward I believe we can benefit from a shared program with Watkins
Glen. I would publicly support an agreement where students were free
to join each other’s already established sports team if the other
school did not have an established team. For example, if Watkins Glen
students were interested in tennis they would be welcomed to join our
team. Or, if we had students interested in lacrosse they would be allowed
to join the team currently at Watkins Glen. I would not, however, support
maintaining teams (especially full-contact sports) in which neither
school is able to field a full roster and therefore jeopardize the long-term
health of students who are physically too young to be on a varsity team.
First Responders are prepared
To the Editor on June 12:
This letter is in response to the claim by Jeremy Alderson
(at the June 9 County Legislature meeting) that ”Schuyler County
can’t handle any emergencies. They have no equipment and no training.“
Schuyler County First Responders have been protecting
this county for over 100 years, and in that time have always stayed
abreast of the latest techniques and information.
Each organization in the county has kept pace to protect
its own geographic area of responsibility. This includes countless hours
of classroom and practical hands-on training.
(The Alderson statement) is no more than a kick in the
teeth to men and women who every day put their lives, time and money
into protection of each resident and business in the county, including
the tourists who come here (and who, by the way, pay no local taxes
to support this service but receive the same attention).
Each local area finances its local response units. This
requires local money, and anyone concerned about that should step up
to the plate and finance fire and ambulance so they don’t have
to go out and raise funds to buy needed or updated equipment. This wasted
time could be put toward continued training instead of working long
hours on carnivals and other fund-raisers.
His statement is no more than a scare tactic by the group
opposed to the gas storage facility so that residents of the county
will think we can’t handle emergencies. The next time the local
alarm sounds at 3 a.m. at -20 degrees, get up and see what your local
responders are doing. Better yet, pick up an application and see if
you can meet the challenges we face every day.
My qualifications are as follows: First Responder for
48 years, Past Chief of the Odessa Fire Department, Past New York State
Fire Instructor, Past Emergency Management Coordinator Schuyler County,
Past President and member of Schuyler Ambulance, Current Deputy Fire
Coordinator Schuyler County, Current Deputy Fire Chief Odessa Fire Department,
and Past Adjunct Instructor New York State Fire Academy.
What are Mr. Alderson’s qualifications in emergency
Current and very proud First Responder
lose as Odessa-Montour ...
To the Editor on June 10:
Hello, my name is Emelia Paulisczak and I am speaking
as the team captain of the Odessa- Montour swim team for the upcoming
season. I would like to give my opinion in regard to the suggested idea
of combining the Odessa-Montour swim team with the Watkins Glen swim
I know that anyone can fight me with statistics and financial
reasons why this could benefit Watkins Glen. Also how together we could
be a “power team.” But in my reality it wouldn't even be
a power team.
I have been on the varsity swim team at Odessa for the
past three years; I will be going on my fourth year on the team. I joined
the team when I was in seventh grade, the first O-M sports team I ever
was on. One thing that I appreciated the most my first year was how
much of a family we became. Going on my fourth year, our family has
changed very much but I still love them and care about every single
girl on my team, in addition to the ones who have graduated.
You might be wondering why I would point this out. What
does it have to do with combining the schools anyway? This is why it
matters. I know I could hold my own with a combined team, but there
are girls that I care very much about on my team who would have a harder
time achieving this. Winning doesn't matter to me as much as having
my team, my family, and not seeing it get pushed to the side, its members
unable to be recognized.
There are some special girls on my team who need the extra
personalized push that would be lost if our teams combined. My team
and I will always stick together as a team even if we are not swimming.
We together have decided if this goes through, we would not swim for
this newly combined team.
This reason has so much more to it than just not wanting
to be on a team with the Watkins girls. We as a team want to keep the
pride and integrity of Odessa- Montour alive. I have been swimming since
I was nine years old and I am willing to sacrifice what I am passionate
about for something I’m even more passionate about: my team and
I want to keep Odessa- Montour sports where they belong
-- in Odessa. This is something very important to me and my team. We
have worked so hard for what we have achieved -- and if we do this,
if we combine, what will it all have been for?
Things don’t come easy for people at Odessa, but
that’s what makes us who we are. I’d rather lose as Odessa
than win as Watkins Glen.
should be considered
To the Editor on June 10:
ALERT - Historical icon to be bulldozed in Montour Falls!
It has come to my attention that the Schuyler Reconstruction
group plans to knock down the former Shepard Niles Factory. For 100
years Shepard Niles produced ship hoists employing hundreds of workers
in a Montour Falls that bustled with life and progress. To relegate
that part of our history to a few dusty black-and-white photos would
do a great injustice to a community which tries to take pride in its
past and distinguish itself in the present as more then just another
small village with a waterfall .
Instead of a pave-over, a restoration of the buildings
should be considered so that future generations of Montour Falls and
visitors to our town have a tangible sense of the scope and importance
of this factory .
Too old, too late? Remember the condition of The Montour
House -- boarded up windows, crumbling brick, and holes in the roof
-- which was repurposed into upscale apartments and a coffee shop.
A disrepect for the history of the town takes away the
very foundation needed to support and direct progress today. Speak to
the Village Board members, speak to the Mayor and speak to each other
before we are staring at an empty field, shaking our heads and wishing
we had done something.
The Pulse of the Neighbors
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