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

Complaints 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

Vickio 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 payment.")

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 County Treasurer.

Barbara Halpin
Legislator, District 1

Martha 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 Lake.

Please choose Martha Robertson for our Congresswoman. Martha Robertson chooses us.

Marie Fitzsimmons

What I 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.

It’s not.

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 Legislature.

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.

Sylvia Fox

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 reads:

“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.

Angeline Franzese
Conservative and “We the People”Candidate
for the Schuyler County Legislature

Legislators' 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 from surgery.

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.

Mindy Cooper

Boosters 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.

Kim Laursen
President, O-M Fine Arts Boosters

Help pick 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.

Teresa Matterazzo
Community Engagement Coordinator
STTAC, Southern Tier Tobacco Awareness Coalition

The Legislature 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 office.

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 will come.

“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.

Angie Franzese

Watch for 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 advantages.

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.

Paul Marcellus
Watkins Glen

Lausell 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.

Michael Lausell

In response 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 distressed municipalities.

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 in the

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 estimate.

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 difference.

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 workforce.

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 and outcomes.

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 year.

Dennis A. Fagan
Chairman, Schuyler County Legislature

There's 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.

Angie Franzese
Conservative & Independent Candidate
District 6

FERC story 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.

Barbara Hubbell
Watkins Glen

In response 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 county government.

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.

Thanks 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 support.

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.

Peggy Scott
Executive Director

Trouble 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 office.

* 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 stress.

* 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.

Michael Lausell
Schuyler County Legislator, District 3

I will 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.

Angie Franzese

Falls Harvest 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.

This 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.

Janine Benjamin-Kuehl
Chair, Harvest Festival 2014

School 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 GST BOCES.

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

Anthem 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

Legislature 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.

Angie Franzese

In response 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.

Harriett Vickio
Schuyler County Deputy Treasurer

Editor's Note: To reach "The county-tax tango," click here.

Catholic 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.

Lindsay Winters
Catholic Charities’ Director of Development

Thanks 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

Thanks 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!

Phil Barnes

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 4th.

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 line.

Angie Franzese

We need 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 County.

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.

Alan Hurley
A concerned Schuyler County Citizen

Seeking 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,” says Morseman.

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 kmorseman@cseop.org.

Literacy Volunteers of Chemung & Schuyler Counties

Candidates' 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.

Mark Rondinaro,
for the Odessa Tea Party group

Meet the 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.


Angie Franzese

Thanks 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!

Harriett Vickio

Friends of Library honor Maria Dascalu

To the Editor
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.

Congratulations, Maria!

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 provided)

Middle 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.

Linda McIntyre

Back to 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.

Catholic Charities

Primary 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.

Mark Rondinaro
for the Odessa Tea Party group

Best chance 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.

Bill Card
Beaver Dams, NY

We must 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.

Christy Rumsey

S.C.O.P.E. 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 Act.

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.

Mark Rondinaro
Schuyler County S.C.O.P.E.

District 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 years.

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.

Angie Franzese

Thanks 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 Group.

Alan Hurley

Watkins 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.

Judson Smith
Watkins Glen Fire Chief

Help stop 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

I look 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.

Mark Rondinaro

I'm conducting 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.

Kristy Perraut

Facebook link

Survey link

I hereby 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.

Gary Whyman

Thanks 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, June 28th.

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.

Peggy Scott

Congratulations 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 change.

Bob came all this way from San Antonio, Texas with his wife Jill and two daughters, Ellis, 8, and Harper, 6.

Congratulations, Bob!

Bob Sr. and Marianne Morin

The Sham 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 to rhetoric.

(The complete text of this letter can be found here.)

Protesters' 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
Montour Falls

The risk 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.)


Are they 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 eight jobs.

Tom Augustine
Watkins Glen

Tea Party 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.

Mark Rondinaro,
for the Odessa Tea Party Group

Legislature: 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

Board should 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 suggestion.

Eric Claire

Please 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.

The 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 loss.

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 the community.

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!

Diana Crane
On behalf of the Defense for Devon Memorial Fund

We're concerned 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

Please, 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 year.

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

Reason 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.

Tom Augustine
Watkins Glen

Thanks 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

$6,200 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

Nothing 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

Thanks 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

Consider 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, 2014.

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 solevnik1@stny.rr.com.

Thank you.

Sue Olevnik
Parade Coordinator

Thanks 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

I'd be 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.

Jesse Scott
Watkins Glen High School Class of 1997

Tea Party 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.

Mark Rondinaro,
for the Odessa Tea Party Group

Someday 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.

Christy Rumsey

We can 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 sports injury.

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.

Wendy Shutter

County 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 response?

Richard Churches
Current and very proud First Responder

I'd rather 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 team.

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 school.

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.

Emelia Paulisczak

A restoration 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.

Sarra Solomon

I'd like to know what the students think

To the Editor on June 7:

This is in regards to the “pilot” program to combine the football teams from Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour. I really don’t know if it’s a good move or a bad move, but maybe a move that ought to be tried.

I have a couple of relatives in the WG district (my cousin’s two boys), and I am a taxpayer, so naturally, I feel that I am entitled to add my two cents. I am curious to know what do the students from each district think of this? Sure, the parents are worried that their kids might not get the playing time if there are more kids to compete against, but I truly would like to know what the students of each school district think of the possibility of the sports merging.

Elmira and Corning have done it, and they certainly have much bigger district populations than WG and OM combined, so I don’t know why people get so freaked out over this – it’s coming whether we like it or not.

Patti Schimizzi

Power Squadron planning ceremony

To the Editor on June 6:

The United States Power Squadron celebrates its centennial anniversary in 2014. To mark the occasion, members of the local Seneca Sail and Power Squadron are donating a new American flag and solar-power light for the flagpole at Seneca Harbor Park in Watkins Glen. A dedication ceremony is planned at the flagpole for 6 p.m. Friday, June 13, at the start of the annual Waterfront Festival.

Boy Scout Troop 2674 will form a Color Guard, and representatives of the Schuyler County Legislature and Watkins Glen Village Trustees will present proclamations.

Following the short ceremony, members of the squadron will participate in their boats in a Parade in Review just off the breakwater before returning to the marina for the Lighting of The Harbor.

Formed originally as a small interest group of powerboat owners within the Boston Yacht Club, USPS today is a nonprofit, educational organization dedicated to making all types of boating safer and more enjoyable by teaching classes and seminars in seamanship, navigation and related subjects. Nearly 40,000 family members are organized into over 400 squadrons across the country. USPS is America's largest non-profit boating organization and has been honored by three U.S. presidents for its civic contributions.

Charles Fausold
Seneca Sail and Power Squadron

Speak up on sports before it's too late

To the Editor on June 6:

Calling all parents and athletes at Odessa-Montour schools. Please come to the School Board meeting on Thursday, June 12th. They will be presenting and voting on a Pilot Program to combine sports with Watkins. They are starting with Football and Girls Swimming next fall. But I guarantee it will not end there. Who knows what sports are next? What is worse is that they are doing this with little notice or consideration to the parents, athletes or community members.

I hope that if I as a taxpayer and parent have no choice in the matter that they at least form a committee to come up with a new team name and mascot -- or will we just be absorbed by Watkins, with our kids losing their whole identity? It is more than just losing a few teams that have low numbers; it is setting precedent to lose more sports in the future, with kids at O-M having the most to lose.

Don't let them bulldoze us and not give us any choices. Come and tell them that we should have a voice in what happens to our kids and their opportunities. Now is the time to act and speak up, before it is too late. You can go on the Odessa-Montour website under Board of Education to see the agenda for yourself!

Christy Rumsey

The land is parkland by implication

To the Editor on June 5:

It was reported in a 5/22 article in the Government section that proposals are being sought to develop a village-owned parcel on the lakefront -- almost three acres contiguous with Clute Park and opposite the canal from the salt plant. The parcel includes the skateboard park, a physical fitness station, shoreline used for fishing, and lawn areas for sunning, walking, bicycling, picnics.

I am sure that any proposals that might come would still allow public access or they would be rejected. The troubling part for me is the conception voiced by the Mayor that the parcel is separate from the park, and in that, it is not subject to the laws that govern the use of the park.
It may be true that in the 20 years since the parcel's acquisition, that there has never been a formal dedication as parkland; however, dedication can also be implied. The signage says village park, the skatepark was built as park, and all the remaining park uses by the general public have been in place since its acquisition in 1994. Dedication through implication has occurred because the common and accepted use of the land has been as a park.

It may be that one day there will be a destination restaurant there, but only if our elected leaders follow state law governing alienation of parkland. It is a lengthy and time consuming process but a necessary one to allow the public to have a voice through the mandated State environmental quality review (SEQR).

Access to the lake for the general public must be zealously protected for future generations. Please contact your Trustees, the Mayor and your County Legislators and ask them to follow the state laws regarding alienation of parkland.

Paul Marcellus
Concerned village resident

Thanks from our family to everyone

To everyone in our Community, The Watkins Glen Senecas and NYSEG Family:

From the bottom of our hearts we cannot thank this community enough for the support, kindness, food, flowers, (just everything) you have done for the entire Flahive Family. Paul was truly a wonderful, fun, loving, great dad, husband and strong man and he would have been so PROUD of the support this entire community has given to his family. Our family is everything to us and it surely has grown bigger. So many people have been helping us through this and have touched our hearts forever. There are so many people to thank – so please take this as a HUGE THANK YOU from our family. We truly believe that his service and “CELEBRATION” was one of kind and we know Paul would have LOVED it.

The Flahive Family

A gathering of food, music and awards

To the Editor on May 27:

In the good old days, there were band concerts in the park on beautiful summer evenings. People would gather to share their picnic dinners and enjoy the music.

The Odessa-Montour Fine Arts Boosters would like to recreate this sort of community event Tuesday evening, June 10 outdoors in the courtyard in front of the high school's auditorium doors.

The High School Band and Chorus and the Middle School Band will provide music, with a picnic dinner being served starting at 6 p.m. There will be hot dogs and hamburgers from the grill, fresh veggies, potato and pasta salads, chips, and ice cream. Adult tickets are $6, and students are $3, and this includes bottled water to drink. Children under 5 are free.

After dinner, beginning at 7 p.m., Choral, Band and Art awards will be given to the talented students of O-M. The Fine Arts Boosters will also announce winners of the $200 scholarship, and honor the 2014 Booster of the Year.

There are tables, but you may prefer to bring your own lawn chair. Please join us for this wonderful community event.

Mrs. Kim Laursen
Music Teacher
O-M Central School

You rock, Schuyler County

To the Editor on May 24:

7,760 pounds....or $850.00... for the Seniors' All-Night, Alcohol-Free party. You Rock, Schuyler County!

On Wednesday afternoon a pretty large truck pulled up alongside our "Fill the Bus" site at the Watkins Glen school bus garage. With the help of the high school golf team and coach Rob Michel (never park next to a fundraiser after your golf match), Shari Holland, Karen, David and Amanda Armstrong, truck driver Yury, and Jordan Dillenback, in just 45 minutes we transferred 7,760 pounds, and three weeks worth of collected goods, from bus to semi, and soon it was on its way to New Jersey for sorting.

Under everyday circumstances Americans trash 85% of unused goods. Yikes!

But instead, YOU diverted 25% of your used goods to process carpet padding and insulation, 30% of your cotton items to become wiping cloths for a variety of industries and 45% of your wearable items to be sold and exported worldwide.

Amanda Armstrong said it well: "Someone overseas may soon be wearing an I Love New York tee-shirt!!!" What a nice thought that is!

Hugely instrumental in our big endeavor was Michelle Clark, Bus Garage Supervisor. Thank you in the biggest way to Michelle and her staff for the use of bus #48 for several weeks AND for scrubbing it when we were finally done.

Deepest gratitude to all of you out there who made the trip, sometimes many trips, to bus #48 with your bags and boxes. You made it all happen.

A very special thank you to Noelle Johnson, Antonio Simiele, the Hi-Lites, all three school principals, the Bliss and Morseman families, Glenda Gephart, the Star Gazette, and the Village of Watkins Glen, especially Michelle Hyde, Parks Department.
And last but not least, a huge gratitude from me to Vogue & Banks of Ontario, Canada for being so great to work with.

When it is all said and done, the Watkins Glen High School Seniors' All-night, Alcohol-Free Party's Parent Committee will receive over $800 for the poundage. Not bad for things you didn't need anymore anyway, hmmm? It's pretty great that instead of asking donors to dip into their pocket books, we only asked you to dip into your closets.

Mary Fanara
Parent Committee

Thanks to those who supported me

To the Editor on May 22:

I would like to extend my personal thanks to the teachers, support staff, coaches, and community members who voted for me at the polls in the recent School Board election. I am humbled to receive such overwhelming support considering I have only been a resident here for four years. I also want to congratulate and wish the best of luck to the newcomers who were elected and hope they will uphold the public trust as they step into their new role on the Board of Education.

Jim Somerville

Bring your voice to the table

To the Editor on May 19:

My name is Jannica Moskal, and I am running for the Watkins Glen School Board. If elected, I will do my best to influence and inspire the community to become more involved in our children’s education. I have a vested interest in this goal because I have two young children who will soon be immersed in the school district. The decisions the board makes will directly affect the rest of their educational involvement. I am passionate about making a difference in the education experience of children in our community.

We have so much to look forward to in the years ahead, and I am positive that I can make a difference. Whether it stems from implementing a Farm to School program in our cafeterias, or to reevaluating the direction of the curriculum our schools are faced with, putting our children first is my number one focus. The Farm to School program is a USDA program that encourages locally sourcing food for our children’s lunches. There is grant money available and as a board we can proactively find money in places that will not affect taxpayers’ pockets. When a majority of our district is made up of agriculture, it makes sense to get our food from local farms. It not only encourages economic opportunities locally, but it also encourages healthy lifestyles.

As for the new curriculum our students have had to encounter this year, I think most will agree that its implementation was lacking. It is of utmost importance that we find a means to filter through the Engage NY curriculum, while trusting that teachers will be able to supplement their lessons with Engage NY standards, as well as comply with the national Common Core standards.

May 20th is Election Day. On this day, bring your voice to the table to decide who will best fill the three vacancies on the board. I hope you will consider me for one of those seats.

Thank you.

Jannica Moskal

Caslin believes in serving his community

To the Editor on May 19:

I’m writing this letter of support on behalf of Keith Caslin, not just as a long-time friend, but as someone who can attest to his work ethic and character.

I graduated from Watkins Glen in 1999 and have largely been away from the area since then, due to college and a duty to my country. Keith is no stranger to duty, hard work, a strong sense of community and loyalty to those around him. We were teammates on the wrestling team, under the late, great coach Mike Watson. Even now, I can recall Keith as being one of the hardest workers on the team. I looked up to Keith and he was always willing to mentor his younger teammates. He then joined the Marine Corp, completed multiple deployments and eventually came home to the area he loves. He continued to serve locally in the National Guard, where he embodied what it truly means to be a leader--care for his Soldiers, a passion for excellence, never cutting corners when lives are on the line and never sacrificing his character for anyone or anything. Keith conducts his personal and professional business in this same manner.

We live in an era where “community service” is usually correlated with a punishment for a minor misdemeanor, not the original definition of “betterment of the community.” We also live in a time where support and participation for public office is at an all-time low, due to non-stop stories of corruption and incompetence at the national and state level. Thank God there are still men out there like Keith Caslin, who truly believe in serving their communities and ensuring our children get the best out of their education.

Most of us “old-timers” are proud to have come from Watkins Glen, Hector, Burdett, Reading or Beaver Dams, with a lot of great memories from our days in the Watkins Glen school district. We created lifelong friendships, had the best teachers anyone could ask for and no matter where we set roots physically, we were proud of “the Glen."

Let’s ensure the torch is passed to this generation and the students are equipped to be set up for success. I can think of no one better to lead such an endeavor than Keith Caslin. Whether Keith was running for the local school board or Congress, he’d have my vote any day!

Mike Beber

Proud of what district has accomplished

To the Editor on May 19:

I have lived in Watkins Glen my entire life and served my community as a School Board member the last 12 years. Through these years it has been a privilege and a pleasure to work with fellow Board members who were dedicated to the needs of the students and community of our District. It has been both a joy and a struggle but in the end I am proud of what our District has accomplished and our community has supported. Let’s look at the facts:

Watkins Glen High School designated as a “Reward” School 2012-13
Watkins Glen School District designated as a High Performing GAP Closing District by NYS 2008-09
The Elementary School designated as a High Performing GAP Closing District by NYS in 2008-09
Approved Middle level reform efforts resulting in the Middle School being named the 26th Most Improved School in NYS in 2007-08.

Guided the District through a most difficult budget development process including the loss of State Aid (Over $2.4 Million), Federal Stimulus Money ($1.2 Million), resulting in Staff reductions and program re-organization. This budget passed with 75% voter approval 2011-12
With a reduction in student enrollment of over 600 students since 1980, the Boards I served with met the challenges of “right sizing” the District while preserving opportunities for students and being fiscally responsible to the community.
After GST BOCES collaboration 21st Century Grant was not re-funded the District applied for and received a $1.86 Million Carol M. White Physical Education Grant for use in the development of an afterschool and Summer program. Including a grant of $22,000 per year for the next three years to the Village of Watkins Glen to support the re-installment of the Summer Recreation Program 2013-14
Development and implementation of a collaborative transportation agreement with Odessa-Montour resulting in consolidation of student transportation for both Districts operated by Watkins Glen 2013-14
Collaborated with the County and Schuyler County Economic Development to secure a developer for the Middle School 2012-13
Secured a Federal Communication Commission grant of more than $177,000 for the implementation of a Mobile Learning Project 2010-11
Secured an Appalachian Regional Commission grant for more than $86,000 to implement a renewable energy program as part of the High School technology curriculum 2010-11
Secured a grant of more than $45,000 from the Appalachian Regional Commission for an Alternative energy lab at the Middle School 2009-10
Successful implementation of the Shared Records Facility (Old Bus Garage) which The NYS Comptroller recognized as a “Model Project” for Shared Services 2008-09

District Reorganization:
Implemented a Community Advisory Committee who studied the pros and cons of District consolidation which led to the recommendation to Close the Middle School and develop a single campus 2010-11
Successfully passed a Capital Project referendum with 66% voter approval allowing for the closing of the Middle School and creation of a single campus 2011-12

In closing I would like to remind the community that all of this was made possible because of your support and the Board of Education’s willingness to look to the future as a way of ensuring success for generations to come. While it was painful to reduce staff in times of financial crisis I leave with a sense of joy as the District is able to bring back many of the very same staff as we experience retirements. When you go to vote on Tuesday be sure you have the facts.

Thank You to the taxpayers of the community for allowing me to serve these past 12 Years.

Tom Richardson

Tea Party meeting will feature Schulz

To the Editor on May 15:

The Odessa Tea Party group would like to invite everyone to our regular monthly meeting on May 27 at from 7:00-8:30 pm. We meet in the Community Room of the Odessa Municipal Building at 300 East Main Street in Odessa, NY.

This meeting, we are honored to host well-known constitutionalist and patriot Bob Schulz, founder of We The People of New York, Inc. Mr. Schulz will be speaking about the status of his ongoing lawsuits:

--Challenging the NY-SAFE Act

--Challenging the process for the selection of delegates to NY State Constitutional Conventions

--Challenging the use of NYS funds to pay settlements to two women accusing NYS Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver of sexual harassment

--Challenging the Gaming and Tax-Free Zones laws on the basis of the governor's misuse of the Message of Necessity in circumventing the constitutionally required Three Day rule.

Mr. Schulz will also speak about his newest effort, a “Rule of Law Summit” to organize groups across the state into a coalition to streamline the timely filing of petitions for redress of grievances against the government. Mr Schulz is a dynamic speaker and a tireless campaigner for a return to constitutional government. He is also a fount of knowledge in the areas of constitutional history and law, especially in the history and use of the right to “Petition for Redress of Grievances” guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.

Mr. Schulz is a highly-prized speaker and we are most fortunate in having him appear before our group. We invite everyone to attend this meeting to become aware of the constitutional challenges facing our state and become informed about concrete actions that can be taken to move our country back on track.

Mark Rondinaro,
for the Odessa Tea Party Group

Work with me, as I will work for you

To the Editor on May 14:

My name is Keith Caslin and I graduated from the Watkins Glen Central School in 1994. I have two children currently in the Watkins Glen School District and a third will enter in a couple of years.

My decision to run for the Watkins Glen School Board was not one of any personal agendas, or promises. It was because, as a parent, I care about our school system, the teachers and assuring that our children receive the best education possible. Every strong community starts with one basic principle, and that is a strong educational experience for our children.

In my life I have strived to serve others, retiring from the United States Military in 2011. Serving as a volunteer fireman with the Watkins Glen Fire Department, and as a Director of the Fire Company. Being a volunteer County Fire Investigator. Serving on the board of Directors for Chemung, Schuyler Sullivan Trail Chapter of the American Red Cross. I have also served as a coach for Small Fry baseball, football, and the Chemung Valley Soccer Association. Now I would like to serve our great community as a member of the Watkins Glen School Board.

I believe there needs to be more transparency between the School Board and the community. Parents, teachers and students should never be left in the dark. This past year we have heard a lot about Common Core and Engage NY modules. I understand the frustration that our teachers, parents, and children have encountered through this transition. I, too, have felt this frustration with my own children. The implementation process was not thought out carefully. Instead of looking at the past and pointing fingers at what went wrong, we must look forward to positive changes in the curriculum for our children.

We are a strong district with excellent qualified teachers, and it's now time we put the teaching back in their hands. Every child is an individual, and they all grow and learn at different rates. Only our teachers, who are in the classroom with our children, truly know how to teach them. Not some module being forced on our district.

I will be that candidate that does not back down. I will look at all of the facts, and involve our teachers and community through open communication. I will accept input, and I will personally fight to keep and protect the educational opportunities of our children.

If you want a candidate that continues the Status Quo, then do NOT vote for me, but if you want a candidate who is going to fight to make the Watkins Glen Central School District the very best in the region, then work with me, as I will work for you. Please vote for me on May 20th.

Keith Caslin

Program offers free energy assessments

To the Editor on May 14:

With the frigid winter weather finally past us, now is the time to take action to prevent those high heating bills from coming back next winter. Fortunately, a program from the New York State Energy Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) can help people increase the energy efficiency of their houses and save money on their utility bills.

The Home Performance Energy Efficiency Program offers free energy assessments of homes by accredited contractors. After the assessment, the program helps homeowners through the process of financing their home improvements with grants (up to $5,000 for a single-family dwelling and up to $10,000 for a 2-4 family building that eligible homeowners do not have to pay back), or low-interest loans. Small businesses and not-for-profits can qualify for incentives worth up to $30,000 and financing at about half the market rate for up to $100,000. This opportunity is just one way that New York is making it easier for businesses and organizations to thrive.

This program is available to eligible residents in all eight counties of the Southern Tier: Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Otsego, Schuyler, Steuben, Tioga and Tompkins. For more information or to sign up for a free energy assessment, call Euphemia Martin at (607) 723-0110 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. You can also email her at emartin@ppefny.org
Please visit our Facebook page and “like” us at www.facebook.com/ppefsoutherntier

Euphemia Martin
Southern Tier Regional Outreach Director Home Performance
with ENERGY STAR® Public Policy & Education Fund of New York

I will ask questions, vote my conscience

To the Editor on May 13:

My name is Jim Somerville and I am running for the Board of Education in the Watkins Glen CSD. I have had two children graduate from WG who are now in college and I also have a fourth grader in the district and have volunteered my time and expertise in many capacities.

I have worked in secondary schools and higher education institutions for over twenty years. Also, I have six years of experience as a Board of Education member in both public and private schools. I served as the chairman of one of those boards.

Some people have asked what my “platform” is for running for the board. I do not have a specific agenda other than honesty, truthfulness, and a willingness to ask questions and vote my conscience even if that means standing alone with a “no” vote. I have attended the majority of Board of Education meetings over the course of the last year and find it hard to justify some of the decisions that have been made such as:

-- The hiring of an unnecessary administrator at a cost of approximately $100,000 in salary and benefits. This decision, incidentally, was made by a lame-duck board after the budget hearing (where there was no mention of adding an administrator) and after the budget vote.

-- The discontinuation of a very successful after-school program that enrolled over one hundred students. We were told that this was due to a lack of money even though the district had five years to figure out a way to fund it and was given several ideas by the director of the program. One idea would have cost parents twenty-five dollars per week, but that was rejected. The program that was eventually adopted now costs the parents fifty dollars per week and has an average of less than ten students per day. The original program could have been continued with part of the money used for the extra administrator.

-- The adoption and implementation of state modules for the Common Core. Instead of allowing the highly educated professionals (teachers) in our district to construct curricula best suited for our own students in order to achieve the same objectives, our leadership was reactionary and impetuous by forcing the state curricula on our teachers and students. This decision has caused us to waste a year to the detriment of our kids’ education. We were told the “train has left the station” in regard to the Common Core modules, but apparently it was only parked on a side spur. Now, in a reversal of the original recommendation, our teachers have been assigned to write curricula in-house that will be designed to meet the standards of the Common Core.
These are three examples in which I would have voted “no” because these decisions, in my opinion, were not in the best interest of our kids.

I cannot make promises as to what will happen if you elect me to the Board of Education, but what I can promise is I will be honest, truthful, and ask the tough questions to the best of my ability. I will also fight for your right as parents, community members, and taxpayers to ask questions of the board and get those questions answered. If these are the qualities you value in a Board of Education member, then I ask for your support and your vote on Tuesday, May 20th.

Jim Somerville

Brick sales help raise funds for park

To the Editor on May 13:

The Schuyler County Veterans Memorial Park is trying to raise funds for maintenance and enhancement of the park. We feel that one way to raise the needed funds is through the sale of memorial bricks which surround the pedestals supporting the eagles. Anyone can purchase a brick for any honorably discharged veteran or any service person now on duty. The veteran so honored need not be from Schuyler County, and any period of American history is accepted.

We have bricks currently dating back to the French and Indian Wars. Each marble brick is still only $50. Application forms for the bricks are available at the Visitor’s Center of the Memorial Park on Route 228, on-line at schuyleramericanlegion.com or from any member of Odessa Legion Post 676.

Memorial Day is rapidly approaching, and it is a wonderful time to honor a veteran. If you haven’t visited the Memorial Park yet, please do so. If you are unable to visit, there are photos on the website. A Memorial Day service will be held at the park on May 26th at 11 a.m.

Mindy Dudgeon

Matters of community concern

To the Editor on May 8:

I am running for a seat on the Watkins Glen School District Board of Education. I attend most of the BOE meetings and I am alarmed that the WGCSD does not follow its own policies, effectively eliminating public input.

Last night's BOE meeting (5/6) included a mention that the Curriculum Committee would begin meeting. This is a step in the right direction, and appears to possibly be the first admission that blindly adopting the EngageNY ELA and Math Modules without following BOE policies was a hastily made decision on the part of the Superintendent. Prior to the start of this school year the Superintendent stated the reason for adopting this new curriculum was for the purpose of getting started before other districts, as this would give us a competitive edge on test scores. My opinion differs drastically from this position. I don’t view education as a competitive race with other Districts, rather I view education as a collaborative process that includes teacher, parent and community input as the foundation of ensuring OUR public school reflects OUR community vision for OUR children. I continue to be concerned that the EngageNY module curriculum was adopted without following any of the BOE policies. Beyond not following policies, how can you justify adopting a curriculum that was only partially published? At the very least a new curriculum should be read before adoption.

If you read the WGCSD BOE policies, they provide a good starting point for curriculum development. Policy 4200 states the BOE supports a collaborative approach to district curriculum development. This policy additionally states students, community members and the Shared-Decision Making teams will be consulted and their input considered. Policy 4300 states the Superintendent develops curriculum in coordination with the Curriculum Coordinator and Grade Level Coordinators and then submits to the BOE for approval. Why isn’t the Board involved in curriculum approval?

As a community that supports OUR public school to the tune of 8.8 million tax dollars, we must demand that policies be followed and transparency exists during the curriculum review about to commence. WGCSD BOE policies 4200 and 4300 expressly state that students and community will be involved in the curriculum development, evaluation and discussion process. How will this be accommodated?

As I was collecting signatures for my BOE petition, the overwhelming concern of parents and community members regarding changes in curriculum was very clear: dissatisfaction with the EngageNY Modules, followed by concern regarding the decision-making process that is resulting in major changes to the technology department, including the closing of the metal shop. High school students have stated the metal programs were very popular and would like to continue taking them. Corning Community College announced this week they are adding a welding certificate program to meet the needs of industry. WGCSD is one of the few districts to have a metal shop, providing our students with a competitive advantage. GST BOCES has limited availability in their welding program. Introducing students to metal work is an important “career ready” skill, especially in Schuyler County with its large agriculture industry. The NYS Department of Labor (2010) reports the highest wages earned in Schuyler County are in construction and manufacturing. We need to continue our support for the programs that introduce OUR kids to these skills.

If we have a metal shop, a teacher who is certified and students who want to take these classes, why are we selling the equipment for pennies on the dollar and expending more taxpayer dollars to remodel and repurpose the room? What data was used to support this decision? Who was included in the decision-making process? Did the Board review pertinent data, discuss and vote to discontinue this popular program?

Please vote for me, and together we can put the public voice back into the Watkins Glen public school district.

Kristina Hansen

Thanks to all those who helped

To the Editor on May 4:

Hi. Just wanted to let you know how our MS walk went today. I organized a group of friends, family, students and teachers to raise money for those locally struggling with MS. Our team name was Loving Life with Lexy because my close friend Alexis Gonzalez was recently diagnosed.

Our goal was to raise $500, this being our first time participating. Thanks to our community and school we were able to double our goal by raising over $1,000. We had a little over 35 team members and completed the 2.5-mile walk today in Corning. This year was the 25th annual MS walk in Corning and we were very excited to be a part of it.

Alexis said it meant a lot to see such a large group of support come out for her. We're both extremely thankful to all those who helped and supported our fundraising.

Halle Phillips

Seeking singers for Memorial Day

To the Editor on May 4:

Calling all singers! It's time, once again, to consider honoring our service men and women at the Odessa Memorial Day Service on Monday, May 26 at 11 a.m. at Memorial Park on Route 224.

I'm looking for people to sing at this service. You may choose to attend either of these rehearsals at the Odessa United Methodist Church: Sunday, May 18 from 3-4 p.m., or Tuesday, May 20 from 7-8 p.m.

You may contact me at 607-594-6565 for more information. We will be singing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."

Mrs. Kim Laursen

Catholic Charities thanks Moose Lodge

To the Editor on April 29:

Catholic Charities would like to thank our local businesses, volunteers and donors for their tremendous support in raising funds for our Schuyler Outreach Food Pantry! Due to incredible support, we were able to raise $3,454 at our Annual Fisherman’s Breakfast on April 1.

Nancy Brand, Director of Schuyler Outreach, states: “The men and women of the Montour Moose Lodge #426 have taken great interest in the services provided by Catholic Charities of Schuyler County and have been overwhelmingly supportive of our work. They have asked Catholic Charities’ staff to present our programs, services, successes and needs to its members on numerous occasions. I believe the continued growth of their support is due to increased awareness, their hands-on assistance at events and the successes of the collaboration of the Moose members and Catholic Charities’ staff.

"In addition to hosting our Annual Fisherman's Breakfast, they also adopt multiple families for Christmas, host outerwear and back-to-school supply drives on site, make regular donations and even host their own event, The Moose Rider's Ride in June that raises money and food for our food pantry. Many of their members have become advocates, volunteers and great supporters as well. Because our mission statements go hand in hand and many of the members understand that the need is increasing, they have become one of the biggest supporters of Catholic Charities. Our agency cannot thank the Montour Moose enough for their support. We look forward to the continued collaboration fighting the battle against poverty and hunger in our county.”

Mike Donnelly, Administrator of The Montour Moose, agrees. “Our Mission," he said, "is to support the community, and the one charity that we know needs the most help because of the changing times is Schuyler Outreach Food Pantry.”

With the community’s help, Catholic Charities will be able to supply families in need with 11 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 to become a volunteer, please contact Catholic Charities of Schuyler County at 607-535-2050 or visit www.cs-cc.org.

Catholic Charities

Collection of goods set on 3 Saturdays

To the Editor on April 27:

Need to clean out those closets and drawers? Is it time to do some spring cleaning?

Help is on the way!

The next three Saturdays, 5/3, 5/10 and 5/17, bring your overflow of items (listed below) to the bus garage at the south end of Decatur Street in Watkins Glen, and help fill bus #48. Our goal is to collect 5,000 pounds of clothing, shoes and acceptable household goods! Any size clothing in any condition is acceptable. We ask that you pack clothing items into well-tied trash bags and pack household items into boxes (liquor store boxes work well).

Drop-off times and locations are below. Note the additional drop-off spot during Clute Park Dumpster Day on 5/10.

Pickups for Senior Citizens can be arranged by calling one of the contacts at the bottom of page.

Our WGHS Parent Committee receives a check from Bank & Vogue (bankvogue.com) for total pounds donated. All funds are used to help finance the Annual WGHS Senior All-night, Alcohol-Free Party. Plus, you help to divert 5,000 pounds of “stuff” from landfills? It’s a Win/Win/Win!

If you’ve been, are, or will be a parent of a graduating senior, please know that each year our committee is devoted to making this “Party” a very special night for each and every student, that months of planning goes into making it a night to remember, and that we aim for 100 percent class participation this year and every year.

PS. And we always welcome more volunteers for our Parent Committee.

Parent Committee,
WGHS Senior All-Night, Alcohol-Free Party

WHAT WE’RE COLLECTING: School & office supplies; pots, pans & glassware; knick knacks; vases & dishes; frames, albums, draperies, towels & bedding; women’s, men’s and children’s shoes; sneakers, boots, belts, purses and coats.

UNACCEPTABLE ITEMS: Furniture, appliances, electronics, CDs, DVDs, VHS tapes, liquids, cosmetics, toys, puzzles and games.

IMPORTANT REMINDER: Put items in well-tied trash bags or boxes

706 Decatur Street (Bus Garage Parking Lot)
May 3rd & May 10th from 9am till noon ~ May 17th from 9am till 2 pm
Additional Collection Spot: ~ Dumpster Day @ Clute Park May 10th

Go to this link to get you started!

Also see: www.usedclothingdrive.com

Contacts, questions: Mary Fanara, 232-4104 or Kris Morseman, 481-3571.

Liam Fitzsimmons to be honored

To the Editor on April 18:

I am writing with some good news about Watkins Glen native Liam Fitzsimmons. Adam Kress, a colleague of mine, who also hails from your area, suggested that I share this information with you.

Liam (pictured at right), a 2005 graduate of University at Albany’s Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy, currently serves as Chief of Staff to Congresswoman Louise Slaughter. On May 16th, he will receive the Young Alumnus in Political Science Award at the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy Alumni Dinner & Awards Ceremony.

If this is something you wish to share with your community members, please do, and if anyone is interested in making the trip to Albany to support Liam, more information on the event can be found at www.albany.edu/rockefeller/alumniawards.

Andrea Lomanto
Director, Alumni Relations
Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy
University at Albany

SAFE Act is topic at Tea Party meeting

To the Editor on April 10:

The Odessa Tea Party will hold its regular meeting April 22nd at 7:00pm in the Odessa Municipal Building. Steve Aldstadt, President of SCOPE (Shooters Committee on Political Education) will be the speaker.

The evening's topic will be the New York SAFE Act and what it means for everyone now that all sections of the law are in effect. The current status of lawsuits regarding the SAFE Act will also be discussed. Please plan to attend this informative meeting. There will be time for questions at the conclusion of the presentation.

Barbara Halpin

Baseball is back in Schuyler County

To the Editor on April 10:

First of all, we wanted to say thank you for your coverage of our request to use the property at Clute Park as a location for a second ball field. We were thankful that we were so well received by the Watkins Glen Village Board and Michele Hyde, the Park Manager. Since the meeting we have been given the approval to move forward with construction officially, by both Cargill Salt and The Village of Watkins Glen. (See photo)

This is an exciting time for the volunteers and participants of our League. We have been hard at work renovating our existing field as well as planning, designing, and building our new field. The effort and dedication of our volunteers has been remarkable. We have asked our league participants to sell raffle tickets as a fundraiser, and have sent out many letters to potential business sponsors. We hope the combination of these efforts will see this project through to the end.

"Baseball is back in Schuyler County" has essentially been our catch phrase. We've grown from just about 100 participants in 2012 to almost 250 in 2014. The need for a new field has never been greater. We are a motivated group of parents, community leaders, teachers, and most importantly children, with a strong focus on fun, learning, and community. If you or anyone you know is interested in becoming part of something exciting and rewarding, feel free to get ahold of me or vice president Jesse Schubmehl.

Matt Walters
President, Schuyler County Little League Baseball.

Opportunities abound for girls at WG

To the Editor on April 9:

As a parent of three student-athletes, and as a volunteer (unpaid) coach for the past four years, and supporter of all sports at WG, I wish to respond to Ms. Hansen’s assertions.

First, “boys” sports outnumber “girls” sports in name only at WG. Girls can (and do) play "boys” sports at our school. To play a “boys” contact sport at the varsity level, girls have to meet the athletic standards set by the state (not the school). Presumably this is for liability purposes. There are several girl members of the lacrosse teams this year. The same is true for wrestling. And there have been girl members of the football teams in the past. In fact, there are more opportunities for girls to play sports at WG than for boys, when taking into account that there is no equivalent for girls volleyball.

The lacrosse program was started in response to strong interest to bring this sport to WG, and through enormous volunteer contributions and donations. People put their money where their mouths were. The program has been entirely self-funded the past two seasons – the only such sport at WG. My daughter played on the inaugural team last season and loved it. Even if she had the choice between playing “girls” lacrosse vs. “boys” with their very different rules and equipment (think tackle vs. flag football), my daughter still would have chosen boys lacrosse. In fact, in the various surveys leading up to applying for the US Lacrosse “First Stick” grants to bring lacrosse to WG, there were a significant number of girls who expressed interest in playing “boys” lacrosse. By contrast, there was no apparent interest in a “girls” lacrosse team. It’s hard to secure a grant to help fund “girls” lacrosse if no support can be documented.

If Ms. Hansen really wants to see a girls lacrosse program at WG, then I suggest that she stop attacking the success of bringing a “boys” program to WG and rather spend her time helping to write grant applications, garner interest, and assist with the huge volunteer undertaking that led to the creation of the lacrosse teams now enjoyed by both boys and girls at our school.

With regards to Ms. Hansen’s comments on the adequacy of the school’s sports facilities and attempt to connect those issues to the lacrosse program, I will say this: scheduling challenges for practice times in the field house are nothing new at WG. During the winter sports season, for example, the field house is generally used from 3:00 to 9:00 pm every day for basketball practices. Coaches, players and parents do their best to cope with the schedules and no one sport or team is blamed for the inconveniences.

And with regards to her playing the “safety” card on the condition of the grass fields, I’m sure that the WG School Board and Administration would welcome her ideas and productive contributions towards realistic and viable solutions to the situation.

Brett Chedzoy

Be proactive on sports equity and safety

To the Editor on April 8:

To the Watkins Glen sports community: Thank you to The Odessa File for publishing my concern regarding Title IX compliance. One important addition to this topic is that I support all sporting teams at WGCSD and I applaud the District for maintaining the sports program during times of budget cutbacks.

But it is important for community members and District officials to look with a critical eye: Are recent sport team additions and budget additions that have only added to the boys sports offerings compliant with important Civil Rights Legislation?

Beyond the equity issue, the District needs to consider player safety. Do we have adequate fields to support two additional teams? Is the maintenance budget adequate to safely maintain ALL of the athletic fields? When was the last time a field safety assessment was done? I have ongoing concerns about the safety of all the turf fields and I am not alone. Many parents, coaches and players have expressed concerns for many years.

I firmly believe anything worth doing is worth doing well, within the parameters of laws, regulations and common sense. Thank you to every person in the community who supports youth sports participation, and I would ask everyone to remain proactive regarding equity and safety.

Kristina Hansen

Seeking a lost sterling silver bracelet

To the Editor on April 4:

I attended the Odessa-Montour Track Meet on Tuesday, April 1 and while I was there I lost a bracelet. It is sterling silver with an abalone heart charm on it. If anyone has found it, can you please return it to the main High School Office?

Thank you so much.

Sharon Darlow
7th-8th grade science teacher
Odessa-Montour School

Thanks to library supporters; vote May 7

To the Editor on April 4:

Happy Spring!

National Library Week is April 13-19 with the theme Lives Change @ your library.

Libraries do not just offer books, e-books, computers and other resources. The librarians and library staff are there to guide library users in expanding minds, opening new worlds and changing lives. How has your public or school library changed your life? Has the Watkins Glen Public Library changed your life? Use the Twitter hashtag #LivesChange and #NLW14 and tell us about it! Or jot it down on a notecard and drop it at the circulation desk.

Thank you to all FOWL (Friends of Watkins Library) members who continue to renew their memberships each year. Won’t you resolve to bring in a new friend this year? It is with your support that the library continues to provide for our community in many ways…from workshops, to story times to Books Sandwiched In and computer services. See one of our National Library Month ambassadors for a membership form. John and Karen Fesmire are the community ambassadors this year, and Watkins Glen 7th grader Kathleen Clifford is the school district ambassador.

The annual library budget vote and election of a trustee will be held at the library on Wednesday, May 7 from 2 to 8 p.m. The budget information meeting will be on Wednesday, April 23 from 3 to 5 p.m. All residents of the Watkins Glen Central School District age 18 and over are eligible to vote. Please show your support for the library by your participation.

Go to http://www.watkinsglenlibrary.org/ to see all the happenings going on, and information on what’s new and available for you to use through the library.

And don't forget to Like the library on Facebook and keep up with all the happenings on a daily basis!

Thank you for your support of our Watkins Glen Public and School Libraries.

Library trustees Carol Franzese. Ken Wilson,
Judy Phillips, Stacey Edwards, Maggie Field

Rachel Vickio celebrates her 101st

To the Editor on March 24:

Attached is a photo of my grandmother, Rachel Vickio. Four generations of family celebrated her 101st birthday this weekend.

This photo was taken at Jerlando's after her speech thanking her family. She said that "of all of the families in the world, there's not one like ours."

Seems like just yesterday you published her 100th birthday photo and we thought THAT was amazing. Now "she is yet another year older!

Beth Vickio

An appeal to parents for information

To the Editor on March 21:

In January I began a new column -- "Where Are They Now?" -- designed for graduates of Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour, to tell us where they are and what they are doing (to include spouses, children, organizations they belong to, volunteer work, honors, awards, etc.). I have heard from some very interesting former students and have enjoyed sharing their information.

As we now approach the month of April I again find that I have no information on any other former students, nor from any retired faculty/staff to bring your way. Originally I stated I wanted to hear directly from former students, but realizing how very busy our young people are today I now appeal to parents to supply the information if you are interested in sharing with our readers. You can e-mail me at: brianodonnell74@yahoo.com

Thanks all.

Brian J. O'Donnell

Thanks to those who helped with dinner

To the Editor on March 20:

The Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary wishes to thank the Montour Moose Lodge #426, Watkins Glen-Montour Falls Lions Club, and Watkins Glen High School Interact Club for another successful Pasta Night. The funds raised benefit the Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary Scholarship Fund.

Special thanks must go to Moose Lodge Steward Mike Donnelly for his generosity and patience! The Moose Lodge’s donation of ingredients, facility and volunteer cooks not only helps raise funds for this cause, but helps raise awareness of the Auxiliary and our mission.

The event could not happen without the Lions Club members and Interact students who serve, set and clear tables, and clean up at the end of the evening. Their efforts keep the dinners moving and the diners happy!

Perhaps the most important element of this fundraiser is the way three community organizations come together to assist a fourth in such a cooperative fashion. This all-volunteer force coordinates efforts every year to help provide scholarship funds for up to three students and/or Schuyler Hospital employees from Schuyler Hospital’s service area who are pursuing or furthering their studies in healthcare-related fields.

Thanks to all involved for organizing a successful event, and to those who bought tickets to support the Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary.

Clara Greis
Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary
Pasta Dinner Committee Chair

Tea Party meeting to feature Barnes

To the Editor on March 18:

The Odessa Tea Party group would like to invite everyone to our next regular meeting on Tuesday, March 25 at 7:00 pm. We meet in the Community Room of the Odessa Municipal Building at 300 East Main Street in Odessa, NY.

This meeting, our guest speaker will be Schuyler County Republican Committee Chairman (and County Legislator) Phil Barnes. Chairman Barnes will will explain the role of party committees in local governance. He will cover a diverse range of topics, such as:

How does one go about becoming a member of a party committee?
How does the party recruit and select candidates for local offices?
How does the petition process work, and what are the requirements for petitioning a candidate onto the ballot?

There will be ample opportunity for questions after Chairman Barnes' presentation. We invite everyone to attend this meeting and become more "politically savvy."

Mark Rondinaro
for the Odessa Tea Party Group

Input sought on Comprehensive Plan

To the Editor on March 17:

The Schuyler County Planning Department will hold two Public Input Sessions to gather feedback on the Draft Countywide Comprehensive Plan. The meetinngs will be held on Wednesday, March 26 from 2:30 to 4:00 p.m. and from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. at the Watkins Glen Community Center, located at 155 S. Clute Park Drive (the Boat Launch road).

The purpose of the sessions is for the public to learn about, and to comment on, the Draft Schuyler Countywide Comprehensive Plan. Two brief presentations will be made by the County’s consultants, the Steinmetz Planning Group, followed by an informal question and comment period.

A link to the latest draft of the Countywide Comprehensive Plan can be found at http://www.schuylercounty.us/countywidecomprehensiveplan

The Draft Plan is the culmination of the combined efforts of your fellow residents, local stakeholders, and community leaders. We look forward to discussing the plan with you and hearing your ideas to improve it.

For additional information or to send any questions or comments contact:

Kristin VanHorn, Schuyler County Planning Director

Kristin VanHorn
Schuyler County Planning Director

The threat to our health is real

To the Editor on March 10:

Remember the sense of shelter we felt living in the Finger Lakes? Natural disasters abounded across our country and here we felt gratitude for escaping these burdens and tragedies. We were even smug.

But we all learned a new word, FRACKING, and things will never be the same. I poured time and energy into the fight against the fracking because I live on a farm, we have vineyards and a winery, and it all depends on this magnificent microclimate, soil, air, and water. The blood, sweat, and tears we dedicated the last decade to create our business and become part of the explosion of the Finger Lakes onto the international wine and tourism scene has been thrilling. Two million visitors a year (2008) experiencing all we offer. But now there was a threat even closer to home. Insidiously developing its infrastructure, Inergy, the corporation now called Crestwood (subsidiary Arlington), planned to store LPG in the salt caverns underneath Seneca Lake. Are we forgetting that this lake makes it all possible?

For 28 years I have practiced medicine in Schuyler County. Each day I see patients and develop plans and strategies to keep them well or to decrease the impact of their ills. Diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, lung disease, all the usual problems. Through my involvement in the antifracking movement, I watched medical societies and medical institutions across New York State make resolutions against fracking because of the health impacts. And I realized I had an imperative in my county to act and advocate for the health of our residents, even when some impacts may take years to present. The threat of Inergy’s plan to respiratory health (asthma and lung disease) due to both particulate matter and the unavoidable increase in ozone (a toxin to the respiratory tract), and possibly to fetal health (air pollution linked to pre-term births), is real. Elderly and the young are at greatest risk. Air pollution is linked to increased mortality. These are well researched environmental topics with excellent predictor models. It’s not made up, it’s not hysteria.

There are not enough mitigating measures that could offset the risks that will change this county (and surrounding counties) forever. And there has been pitiful discourse and attention paid by our governing bodies to the health risks. These are the slow, insidious health risks that will create greater medical needs in this county, greater costs to Medicaid (always the county’s greatest burden), greater impact on productivity due to absenteeism, and an overall loss of quality of life. Remember, Inergy’s plan is to develop the GAS STORAGE HUB FOR THE NORTHEAST.
The geologic data on why the caverns do not have the integrity to safely do this is impressive and brings me to the threat to the water shed. I can treat lots of health ills all day long, but if my patients face a threat to their water source, THAT certainly deserves my attention. Everything else comes after clean air and water. The accidents and loss of these in communities all over the U.S. and across the globe proves this.

Catastrophic accidents will lead to health impacts of a magnitude that is difficult to fathom. But it will fall on our first responders and emergency workers to deal with; I look at our small hospital and try to imagine what could come in the door.

I’m not for mitigating measures and 1,000 page documents on “what ifs.” I’m not even in support of preparedness. Many of my health professional colleagues joined with me and signed a letter asking all of the involved governing bodies to stop this project. I am for Governor Cuomo, and any of the agencies involved that have let this project get this far, pulling the plug on this project in the name of the health and safety of our residents and our neighbors.

Paula Fitzsimmons

Renew your vehicles at local office

To the Editor on March 6:

Please print the following notice to all Schuyler County residents:

As a County Legislator, I am asking you to renew your vehicle registrations at our local DMV Office in Watkins Glen. When you renew locally through our DMV Office, 12.7% of the fee stays in Schuyler County. That does not happen if renewing through Albany -- online or by mail.

You can:
--Come to the local office.
--Use the Drop Box located to the right of the main entrance.
--Put in the mail – changing the address to: County Clerk's Office, 105 9th St., Unit 8, Watkins Glen, NY 14891

Thank you for helping us serve you.

Stewart F. Field
Legislator, District 1

Sorry about the breakfast cancellation

To the Editor on March 3:

The Schuyler County Historical Society would like to apologize to all members and friends for the cancellation of the Montour Moose Club Benefit Breakfast on March 2nd and any inconvenience the cancellation may have caused.

The Society has rescheduled the breakfast for Sunday, June 22nd and we hope to see you there.

The Schuyler County Historical Society

An update on the Glen Gators

To the Editor on Feb. 28:

I just wanted to give you an update about Glen Gators Swim Club. This past weekend a few members of the Glen Gators Swim Team under the coaching of Sean Wixson and Jennifer Mosher participated in a regional silvers swim meet in Rochester New York. The meet is by invitation only. Swimmers can qualify for the silvers meet by obtaining age-specified times determined by the sanctioning body, the USA Swimming team.

Peighton Cervoni, 11 years, qualified for the meet in the 100 Back, 50 Breast, 50 Free, 100 IM, 50 Back, and the 100 Free. Jordan Bergen, 12 years, qualified in the 50 Breast and the 100 Breast. Madison Moss, 9 years, qualified in the 50 Back, 50 Breast and 200 IM. Tori Reese, 12 years, qualified in the 50 Breast, 50 Free, 100 IM, 100 Breast, 200 IM, and the 400 IM. Syria Tague, 12 years, qualified in the 100 Back, 50 Free, 50 Back, and the 100 Free. Matthew Doppel, 15 years, qualified in the 500 Free, 200 Back, 50 Free, 100 Free, 1650 Free, 200 Free, and the 1000 Free. Billy Tague qualified in the 50 Free and the 100 Free. Madeleine Ross, 15 years, qualified in the 50 Free. Amanda Wilbur, 11 years, qualified in the 100 Back. Emma Allington, 15 years, qualified in the 50 Free and the 100 Free.

Teams in Attendance: Cato-Meridian Otters, Fairport Area Swim Team, Glen Gators Swim Team, Golden Comets Swim Club, Hilton Area Swim Team, Irondequoit Swim Club, Mercury Swimming Inc., Newark Wahoos Swim Club, Oswego Laker Swim Club, Pack Swim Team of Pittsford, PAL-MAC Swim Club, Rochester Rapids Swim Team, Sea Dragons, Sharks 'n' Eagles Aquatic Sports, Spencerport-Greece Marlins Swim Club, UNATT-Webster Swim Association, Victor Swim Club, and Webster Swim Association.

Results (by age group):

Jordan Bergen: 1st 200 Free Relay, 4th 50 Yard Breast, 1st 200 Medley Relay and 1st 100 Breast.
Peighton Cervoni: Gold 100 Back, Gold 50 Free, Gold 50 Back, Gold 100 IM, 1st. 200 Free Relay, 1st. Medley Relay, 3rd 100 Free.
Madison Moss: 6th 50 Breast, 15th 50 Back.
Tori Reese: 1st 200 Free Relay, 5th 50 Breast, 4th 50 Free, 4th 100 IM, Gold 100 Breast, 1st 200 Medley Relay, 1st 400 IM.
Madeleine Ross: 6th 200 Back, 16th 50 Free.
Billy Tague: Gold 50 Free, 1st 100 Free, 1st 100 Fly.
Syria Tague: 1st. 200 Free Relay, Gold 50 Free, 1st 100 Back, 1st 200 Medley Relay, 1st 50 Back, 2nd 100 Free.
Amanda Wilbur: 6th 50 Back.
Matthew Doppel: Not in attendance.
Emma Allington: Not in attendance.

Bill Tague

Outreach says 'Thank You' for help

To the Editor on Feb. 26:

Catholic Charities’ Schuyler Outreach would like to say Thank You to all who took part in the Christmas Basket Give Away this year. We would especially like to recognize the following:

St Mary’s of the Lake Church of Watkins Glen, Cargill Salt, Montour Falls Moose Lodge #426, Rotary, Labor of Love, Good Shepherd, St Mary’s of the Lake Youth Group, Odessa-Montour’s Interact Club, O-M's National Honor Society, The Montour Falls Women of the Moose # 1401, The Montour Falls Moose Riders Club, St. James Episcopal Church, Watkins Glen Walmart, Tops Markets, Famous Brands, Watkins Glen VFW, Odessa-Catharine United Methodist Church and Youth Group, Moreland Presbyterian Church, Watkins Glen and Montour Falls United Methodist Churches, First Presbyterian Church of Watkins Glen, St. Benedict’s Church, Fidelis Care NY, The Boy Scouts, Watkins Glen High School, Tioga Downs Casino, The Glen Theatre, Jerlando’s Pizzeria, First Baptist Church of Watkins Glen, Food Bank of the Southern Tier, The Schuyler County Hilites, and The Odessa File, and each of the volunteers who worked so hard in putting together the Christmas Baskets for our un-adopted families, making phone calls, assisting clients with shopping for gifts and helping them to their cars.

Thank you also to The Episcopal Parishes of Schuyler County, Schuyler Catholic Communities, Watkins Glen Presbyterian Church, Burdett Presbyterian Church, Hector Presbyterian Church and Reading Community Church for providing lunches each day for our hardworking volunteers.

A special Thank You goes out to the Schuyler County Mobile Work Crew for volunteering their time for set up, putting together baskets, and assisting in the distribution of the baskets.

An enormous Thank You to all the wonderful people who “adopted” families this year and everyone who brought in donations of money, turkeys, and gifts. Without your help, both monetary and physically, we could not have served so many families in need. Our wish this holiday season is that each of you will in turn be blessed in the coming year. Thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts.

Catholic Charities’ Schuyler Outreach Food Pantry

Seeking information for the column

To the Editor on Feb. 16:

Everyone doesn't always share in another person's enthusiasm and I fear that's the case with "Where Are They Now?" -- a column I proposed in January. At this point I've written two columns highlighting several former graduates from Watkins Glen, one from Odessa-Montour and two former faculty members. I found the information submitted to be both interesting and informative, and it's always nice to learn what people we knew years ago are doing with their lives today.

We're halfway through the month of February and I have no more of this interesting and informative content to bring your way. This column depends entirely on information submitted by readers. Information I was looking for to share included: name, year of graduation or years of employment, college attended, activities & sports in college, residence (city & state), employment, clubs/organizations/volunteer work, family (spouse and children), hobbies, interests, awards, etc. Information was to be sent to: brianodonnell74@yahoo.com

It certainly isn't too late to send in your information, so if you are interested please respond. If you no longer see the column on a monthly basis, then you'll know it quietly "went into the night" due to lack of information and sustained interest.

Brian J. O'Donnell

Tea Party topic: Comprehensive Plan

To the Editor on Feb. 13:

The Odessa Tea Party group would like to invite everyone to our first regular meeting of 2014. We have changed our meeting day to the fourth Tuesday of each month, and our February meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 25 at 7:00 pm. We continue to meet in the Community Room of the Odessa Municipal Building at 300 East Main Street in Odessa, NY.

This meeting, our speakers will be Kristin VanHorn, Schuyler County Director of Planning, and Chad Hendrickson, who recently stepped down as the Chairman of the Schuyler County Planning Commission. Ms. VanHorn will discuss the planning process, and the reason for and value of a countywide Comprehensive Plan. Mr. Hendrickson will discuss the role of the County Planning Commission, and its interaction with State and regional level planners and the Town Planning Boards.

Schuyler County is in the final stages of preparing a countywide Comprehensive Plan which incorporates input from the various towns as a means of coordinating planning activity throughout the county. Many citizens within the county are unaware that this process is even taking place, and many others question its value and whether it might infringe on the rights of the towns and the individual citizens in the county. Others wonder how this is related to the regional plans now being developed in New York State, and whether this is a part of the infamous “United Nations Agenda 21/Smart Growth” plans that have been discussed in recent years.

In preparation for this meeting, we suggest that everyone read the latest copy of the draft Schuyler County Countywide Comprehensive plan. This will give attendees a heads-up on the contents of the plan, and allow for more informed questions. The latest copy of the draft plan is available for download at “http://goo.gl/o2XVr3”.

We invite everyone to attend this meeting and become informed about the planning process and the information contained in this Countywide Comprehensive Plan. There will be ample opportunity for questions, and we expect a lively and informative meeting.

Mark Rondinaro,
for the Odessa TEA Party Group

Wixson deserves the recognition

To the Editor on Feb. 3:

I just wanted to say I was thrilled to see Bob Wixson inducted into the OM Hall of Fame. For those who do not know him, you are missing out on an amazing human being. He has positively impacted my family in more ways than he can ever know.

As my children’s bus driver and I would say friend and role model, for the last few years he has provided them with a consistent stream of encouragement and support. When he first began driving our route, my children hated riding the bus; it was like torture to get them out there on the bus. Now I can’t get my son to ride to school with me; he would rather ride the bus. And this is all because of Bob.

I can tell you my children are happy when they find out he will be driving them to sporting events -- particularly swimming, where his knowledge and support are valued. What is even more amazing to me is the kindness, almost pride, he has in his eyes when he tells me what good kids they are. He has definitely had a part in who they have become, in the quiet, subtle way that impacts the most, by offering them kindness and just being consistently there when so many had come and gone.

He is just one of those people that care, for good or bad; he can’t help it. I would like to believe it is only my kids that are that impressive to him, and that’s what they believe, but I doubt it. I just think that is the kind of person he is. Congratulation Bob, you deserve all the recognition you get.

Christy Rumsey

Let's vote progressives out of office

To the Editor on Feb. 3:

Is the USA becoming a socialist country? This issue was raised by a letter writer a while back and deserves some attention and thought.

In listening to the SOTU address by President Obama, I hear the message that millions of jobs have been created in the past five years, the recession is over, and we as a country are doing well -- while the “pesky” unemployment numbers are all over the map and make one believe they are manipulated to fit the occasion. I see very few jobs being created, particularly in NYS.

While boasting of the jobs created, we then go to extending the time to collect unemployment. Just doesn’t seem to mesh with me. When promoting the increase in minimum wage, if we had more jobs then applicants, that would tend to take care of it. We have doubled the number of people on food stamps. When proposing a modest 5% decrease, politicians just do not have the guts and determination to reduce any benefit that may cost them votes.

Meanwhile, the number of people collecting all the social benefits just keeps growing. The government keeps feeding them programs to keep them dependent on the government for their livelihood, almost to the point where they cannot afford to take a job, even if the minimum wage was $10 or probably even $15. When the wages go up, so do prices. Also fewer jobs. So what is the next big-ticket item? Immigration reform. Anybody think that will help the job situation? Me neither.

Let's vote progressives or socialists out of office and take our country back.

Bill Card
Beaver Dams

A thank you from Glen school speaker

To the Editor on Jan. 30:

Last month the Watkins Glen junior and senior high school students had the privilege of hearing Ray Ciancaglini, a former professional boxer, present his story about how concussions prematurely ended his career. Ray started a non-profit organization called The Second Impact and he travels to high schools, colleges and universities, coaching clinics, and healthcare symposiums to speak about Second Impact Syndrome and concussion awareness.

After coming to Watkins Glen, Ray sent an e-mail which I have reprinted here in italics. It reads:

I had the honor and privilege of addressing the student body and teachers about Concussion Awareness in the Watkins Glen High School Auditorium on Thursday, December 12.

Prior to coming to Watkins Glen, I had heard many good things about your school system from other schools that I had visited. I can honestly tell you that I was not disappointed. Everyone was very courteous and helpful and the students were well behaved and attentive, which is a direct result of the structure instilled in them by your dedicated staff.

I commend the Watkins Glen School System for being pro-active with Concussion Awareness and Management and it is so heartfelt for me to leave a school system after my presentation knowing that the welfare of the student athletes, especially concerning concussions, is a top priority.

I cannot thank you all enough for your support and I will always hold the memory of my visit to Watkins Glen High School in the highest regard.

Best Regards,
Ray Ciancaglini

I would also like to publicly applaud and thank our kids for their exemplary behavior and respect they showed Ray during his presentation. Great job by all of you. In addition, I would like to thank high school principal Dave Warren, middle school principal Kai D'Alleva and their respective teaching staffs for finding the time in a tight schedule to get this presentation in front of our students.

I have had many positive comments from numerous kids and parents regarding Ray's presentation. Last but not least, thank you, Ray, for taking the time to get this important message before as many young people as possible, especially ours.

Jim Somerville
Athletic Trainer
Watkins Glen CSD

New Advisory Board members for SOS

To the Editor on Jan. 29:

Looking back over 2013, and ahead to 2014, the Spirit of Schuyler Board and Officers are both proud and thankful. We have come such a long way from a small group of friends getting together in a garage to brainstorm ways to give back to our community, to an organization that continues to grow so quickly it’s hard to keep up! It grows because there is a need, a strong need, right here in our own backyard. It grows because the community embraces our mission. Since our inception, we have been dedicated to improving the quality of life and expanding meaningful opportunities for Schuyler County residents in times of need. We’ve focused on providing emergency financial assistance to residents who fight for their financial independence, support themselves and their families, and are self-sustaining until unforeseen circumstances occur.

While Spirit of Schuyler has been in existence for 10+ years, we became a 501(c)3 non-profit organization in 2008 and have steadily grown in impact and reach since then, changing the lives of many local residents, thanks entirely to the tremendous support of our community friends and neighbors. Without our tireless all-volunteer Board and Officers, our sponsors, donors, business partners (Watkins Glen International, J.R. Dill Winery, Race Services Inc., Village Marina, and Tiki Bar to name a few), many community supporters and volunteers, and collaborative relationship with many local non-profit agencies, Spirit of Schuyler simply would not exist.

In 2013, thanks to many successful fundraisers and individual donors, we were able to put $18,000 of much-needed assistance directly into the community. Since 2008, that number reaches well over $67,000 and we anticipate that 2014 will be our highest year yet for financial assistance. Because of our continued growth, we are happy to announce the addition of 4 new Advisory Board members. Please join us in welcoming Nick Anagnost, Louie Perazzini, Deanna Burt, and Sue Randall. These four individuals have a tremendous love for our local community, a strong belief in our vision, backgrounds in helping others and a desire to make a difference. We’re proud to include them in our Spirit of Schuyler family and look forward to the opportunities that this additional support will open up for our organization.

Thanks again to all of you who have supported us along the way – know that you’re making a tremendous impact on Schuyler County residents when they need it most.

The Spirit of Schuyler Board and Officers

Let's grow our community together

To the Editor on Jan. 27:

The recent article in Mountain Home magazine says “The Finger Lakes region of NY has become the major bon vivant’s travel destination. There are plenty of spots for excellent boating, fishing, hiking, biking, golfing, and of course championship car-racing. The area is loaded with world-class wineries, tasty microbreweries, distilleries, artisanal cheese dairies, chocolate shops, coffee roasters, seed oil producers, vegetable markets and some of the best eateries around. All of this is amongst the breathtaking views that can be experienced throughout four spectacular seasons and only here, in our Finger Lakes." The article thus sums it up with this statement:

"AND the Village of Watkins Glen, at the southern end of Seneca Lake, is sitting smack dab in the middle of it all".

That is why our winery, my family, and our employees built The Tasting Room right smack dab in the middle of it all, in Watkins Glen. But now what? We can’t do it alone, but we can do it together. I have been doing business in Watkins Glen since 1963, when my father bought Captain Palmer’s Boat Ride. The next year my father had a heart attack, so we had to sell it to Captain Bill’s, who have done wonders with it ever since. I then went to downtown Corning and
Elmira running my bookstore, Bookmarks. In 1999 I opened Atwater Estate Vineyards. Don’t worry, that’s all you are going to read about me. Now about you (the reader) and Watkins Glen.

The wineries have grown almost exponentially in the last 14 years, and it is because we all work together for the same results, customers. Now we need to do this in Watkins Glen. It’s working together. We can’t continue to have three different organizations, the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce, Watkins Glen Promotions and the Watkins Glen Lodging & Tourism Association, each competing for dollars, duplicating efforts, duplicating staff and bearing the expense of two different offices right on Franklin Street. We must come back together, not
disband but work together as one group to take advantage of the new Watkins Glen as envisioned by Project Seneca and the excitement it promises.

We are at the very edge of an opportunity to make downtown Watkins Glen the vibrant, open all-year successful community it deserves to be. Will all of you help us do that? Will you? Will all of you work together to make us the best little Village that is right smack dab in the middle of the Finger Lakes region? Will you, really will you?

Then thank you: That is why we built The Tasting Room.

Ted Marks

Thanks to all who helped Seneca Santa

To the Editor on Jan. 20:

Thanks to the generosity of hundreds of people, Seneca Santa, Inc. helped provide a very nice Christmas in 2013 for approximately 380 children from 180 families.

This would not have been possible without the continued Hazlitt Winery annual fund raiser. It has become a highly anticipated "holiday party" that allows people to donate money and time to a most worthy cause. In addition, it provides a place for people to meet and enjoy good food, good wine, good entertainment, and good friends.

Seneca Santa, Inc. also requires and is extremely grateful to the following: the Watkins Glen Presbyterian Church; the Girl Scouts; the many volunteers who man the stations and bag the gifts; the students from the schools and sports teams who provide the manpower we could not do without; and Emergency Management and the volunteer firemen and firewomen who make sure all the gifts are delivered Christmas Eve morning.

There are numerous supporters who donate money and gifts, coordinate hat and mitten trees, make homemade quilts, run errands, pick up and deliver supplies, and are always there for the program, no matter the need. I could not begin to list them all, but will try my best to thank them in person when possible. There is no way Seneca Santa would exist without them. I offer thanks and God's blessings on each and every one of them.

Peggy Scott

New column: Where are they now?

Note: Former Watkins Glen High School Principal and former Watkins Glen School Board President Brian J. O'Donnell -- who has written history columns for this website and is an intrinsic part of the Odessa File-sponsored, annual Top Drawer 24 team of outstanding student-athlete-citizens -- wants to embark on a new kind of column here. He explains in this Letter to the Editor.

To the Editor on Jan. 11:

Just recently, while walking at the Arnot Mall, I ran into a former student -- of years past -- who was eager to renew acquaintance and tell me a little about his life since high school graduation. His story was very interesting and I was so glad we had that chance meeting and were able to catch up a bit. Every teacher and administrator has those experiences - one of those intrinsic benefits we get in our profession. And students do, too; they wonder what teachers, principals and other staff members are doing in their retirement.

So here's my thought: why not take advantage of the wonderful opportunity afforded by The Odessa File and "share" a little about ourselves (and even our families) in a new, regularly scheduled column, "Where are they now?" It's my hope that retired faculty/staff/administrators and graduates from the Watkins Glen Central School District will contact me at: brianodonnell74@yahoo.com, giving me information that I can share in this new column.

Information of note from graduates might include where you live (city and state), what you do for a living, clubs/organizations you belong to, family members (children by name and age, spouse by name), any awards/honors/achievements since graduation, hobbies/interests/etc., travels, e-mail address IF you want it shared with the public, college and/or military service, etc., etc., etc.

Retired faculty/staff/administrators could share information on residence (city and state), clubs/organizations, part-time employment, hobbies/interests, family (by name), travel experiences, e-mail address IF you want others to communicate with you, and more. This group can be most valuable to this process by sharing any information they have on former students they have heard from, and I'd be happy to follow-up in gathering other information if I have e-mail addresses to contact.

The success of this endeavor is entirely dependent upon information that is sent to me, and while I think it's a good idea others may not have that same interest at all. Time will tell, I guess. One caution to throw out here is for parents NOT to just submit the information for their children who have graduated and moved away. I would really like your childrens' permission and comments -- their direct e-mails, sent to me, will provide both. It would however, be very helpful if parents would share this information you are reading here with your children, leaving it up to them if they want to participate or not. Again, my e-mail address is: brianodonnell74@yahoo.com.

Brian J. O'Donnell

I plan to support Tom Reed in November

To the Editor on Jan. 6:

In all the recent public vetting I attended for the local political candidates running for city, town, or county offices, one question was always asked. What do you see as the most important issues facing our area? In nearly every case, the response was to reduce unfunded Federal and State mandates and to increase job availability. This was the general consensus of candidates, regardless of party affiliation.

Now, the progressive party platform (note: former Democratic party) seems to be to expand immigration to our country and raise the minimum wage. I fail to see how anyone can support candidates who support this platform. I will vote for the candidate who limits immigration, who will use common sense on minimum wage increases, who supports the second amendment and will support actions to reduce our national debt, which will enslave all the poor and middle class people.

I plan to support Tom Reed as he is the best candidate to address these concerns. I encourage all voters to learn the facts before they vote in November.

Bill Card
Beaver Dams

Thanks from The Arc of Schuyler

To the Editor on Dec. 28:

There are many organizations and individuals we at The Arc of Schuyler wish to thank for the kindness they have shown this holiday season to The Arc and to our friends with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Schuyler County.

The Watkins-Montour Rotary Club again sponsored a fabulous Christmas party for people receiving supports and their family members. Thank you to Rotary and to the Rotarians and Montour Moose Lodge #426 members who volunteered their time to make this event a success.

We would also like to acknowledge Terri Orbin and the parishioners of St. Mary’s of the Lake Church for organizing and participating in a holiday gift drive that ensures people receiving residential supports through The Arc have gifts to open on Christmas morning. Thank you also to the Odessa-Montour students, led by Principal Chris Wood, who volunteered their time to wrap
Christmas presents for people we support.

There are others to thank who included people from The Arc in our area’s holiday festivities. Thanks to the generosity of the Ithaca Ballet, many people we support were able to enjoy an excellent ballet performance of “The Nutcracker” at the State Theater of Ithaca, and a local volunteer partnered with the Self-Advocates of Schuyler County to adopt a family through Schuyler Outreach and together wrapped the gifts.

The Arc of Schuyler is so very fortunate to be part of such a generous community. Thank you to all of our supporters and friends who helped make this a wonderful Christmas!

With gratitude,

Jeannette Frank
Executive Director

Musical events are coming up ...

To the Editor on Dec. 8:

It's that time of year when I seem to rush from one rehearsal to another, so I'm hoping I'm not too late to ask for your help in publicizing these events that are near and dear to my heart!

1.On Sunday, Dec. 15, the Odessa-Catharine United Methodist Church choir will present the 64th annual candlelight Vespers service at the church in Odessa. Under the direction of Mrs. Kim Laursen, the 14-voice choir will sing "Tomorrow Will Be My Dancing Day," "Advent Prayer," "See, On Mary's Lap He's Sleeping," and "The Jesus Gift" featuring Amanda Pyhtila as soloist. The lessons will be read by Mr. Les Laursen, and Mrs. Alice Learn will be reading a poem by late Odessa poet Dorothy Darling. Pre-service music will be presented by Mrs. Mary Wolfe, and Mr. Rick Price will accompany the choir. There is no charge and the public is invited.

2. The 40-voice Community Chorus presents its Christmas Cantata "Heaven's Child" by Pepper Choplin on Sunday, Dec.15 at 7:30 p.m. in the sanctuary of the Montour Falls Baptist Church. Readings will be done by 10 choir members, and a children's choir of 15 singers will sing "Child of Christmas" accompanied by Ms. Sara Caldwell. The adult choir consists of singers of all ages and denominations, and will be directed by Mrs. Kim Laursen. Soloists are Miss Lisa McKnight, Mrs. Melissa Norton, Ms. Melanie Janke and Mr. Jack Schwartz. Pre-service music will commence at 7 p.m. There is no charge and the public is invited.

3. The Hanlon Elementary School in Odessa will present its Holiday Concert on Wednesday, Dec. 18 at 7:30 p.m. in the Fetter-Brown auditorium at Odessa-Montour Central School. The concert will feature the 5th and 6th Grade Band under the direction of Mrs. Michelle Voorheis as well as the 3rd and 4th Grade Chorus and the 5th and 6th Grade Chorus under the direction of Mrs. Kim Laursen, accompanied by Mrs. Sally Michel. There is no admission fee and the public is invited.

4. The B.C. Cate 2nd Graders will present their annual program on Tuesday, Dec.17 at the B.C. Cate school in Montour Falls. Their production of "Snoozy Snowflake" will begin at 1:15 p.m. Miss Lillian Halpin and Miss Gina Gavich are featured in the roles of Ms. Frost and Snoozy. The classes of Mr. Kennedy, Mrs. Paradisin and Ms. Strope will tell the tale of a snowflake who just wants to be different.


Kim Laursen

O-M swim team needs your bottles, cans

To the Editor on Dec. 6:

As a service learning project, the Odessa-Montour boys varsity swim team is supporting a child through the Cornell Elves program this holiday season. We will be buying a few outfits, PJs, hat and gloves, underclothes and toys and books.

To raise money for the items, we will be returning cans and bottles. We will be collecting them in the O-M parking lot Sunday 12/8 from 10-11 a.m. I would like to encourage community members to drop off their returnable cans and bottles to support the team's efforts. All people have to do is drop off the cans and bottles and we will do the rest.

Terri Brace
O-M Swim Coach

Purchase of Quint truck is wasteful

To the Editor on Dec. 6:

I was greatly disappointed to read the October minutes of the Montour Falls Village Board. In that meeting the board voted to spend $850,000 for the purchase of a new "Quint" fire truck. A Quint is a combination ladder/pumper truck. The most disturbing fact is that the Fire Commissioners, a group of past chiefs appointed by the board to give advice, had met and voted not to purchase a Quint. Their advice was to keep the purchase to a pumper, which would bring the cost down to the $500,000 range. They also discussed and believed that the Quint was not a good investment for this village because Watkins Glen has a ladder truck which could be sent mutual aid to any Montour Falls fire within a timely manner. There are also two ladder trucks in Horseheads that could respond, as in the past, to fire calls in our village.

In at least two separate board meetings, another former chief and I addressed the fact that buying the Quint fire truck was an inappropriate use of taxpayers' money. We noted the fact that the Fire Commissioners also said the Quint was not needed. Still the Village Board hired a consultant at a cost to the taxpayers of $600 to help determine whether or not a Quint should be purchased. Surprisingly, the consultant's findings were that the village should purchase the Quint, and his main justification was that we should have a truck with a reach of 100 feet.

The Montour Falls Fire Department currently has a ladder truck which was given to them about seven years ago. It was used once on the block fire in Watkins Glen, but has not been used to fight a fire since. Recently, there were three alarms at the Montour House, and a ladder truck was not requested from Watkins Glen at any time. There have been fires in the village when the ladder truck never left the station due to a lack of drivers and manpower to operate it.

Again, I believe that a Quint is a very poor choice for the next replacement fire truck. The $350,000 we would save by purchasing a pumper could be used to repair the streets in our village that are badly in need of it. Many of the people in the village are on fixed incomes and no longer have the jobs that we once had at Shepard Niles. This is the time to share services with other communities. We do not need to spend money on equipment that will not be used to its fullest.

When you see your board members and the mayor, ask them why they are spending taxpayers' money in such a wasteful way. Also, ask why a purchase of this magnitude has not been scheduled for a public input meeting.

Tom Carson
Past Chief of the Montour Falls Fire Department
Village taxpayer

Thanks to bowling coaches, Johnny's

To the Editor on Dec. 3:

Thank you to Coach Doug Chapman (OMCS) and Coach Ward Brower (WG) for planning a bowling clinic/training for the high school bowlers for both Odessa-Montour and Watkins Glen and for taking time out of their holiday to be present for their athletes the day of the event.

Thank you to Johnny’s Lanes for hosting the event for the athletes.

Sharon Lewis
O-M Parent

Tuttle's letter not Board pronouncement

To the Editor on Nov. 26:

It has come the attention of the OMCS Board of Education that at least one District resident interpreted the recent post to the Odessa File's Forum page made by Board member Rob Tuttle on November 13, 2013 as a Board of Education communication. To clarify, the contents of this post represented the views of Mr. Tuttle only, and should not be considered an official pronouncement of either the Board or the District.

Robert L. Halpin
President, OMCS Board of Education

Tree theft draws a 'Bah Humbug'

To the Editor on Nov. 26:

I wanted to warn the fine people of Schuyler County that The Scrooge is on the loose in our area. I bought a 7-foot tree last Wednesday and installed it in a planter on the front bank of my house last Thursday. It looked great all lit up Thursday night.

Last seen lying on the ground by my sidewalk (not sure how it got in that position) over last weekend, the tree and its base are now gone. The base was full of over 100 pounds of dirt and concrete.

I suppose the blame is on me -- my friends and family know my work schedule, but none of them can help. My neighbors and the hundreds of folks who drive by my house on the four-lane section of Route 14 north apparently found nothing unusual with a fully decorated tree lying on the sidewalk. At least it did not concern anyone enough to give me a call.

I will be putting the box and the real base for the tree out by the curb soon. After all, I would not want the thief to not have a means to properly store his prize.

Bah Humbug.

Bob Beardsley

Thanks to the 'Team JOE' supporters

To the Editor on Nov. 20:

The Morin Family would like to say a big thank you to all those who supported our family's "Team JOE" endeavor.

All three marathoners successfully completed the 26.2-mile course and received the coveted NYC Marathon medal and at the same time collected $4500 for the DEBRA organization. Thank you one and all!

Photo in text: From left: Marathoners Bob Morin, Chris Goldman and Kathy Heinen.

Marianne Morin

US Salt intends to 'Go Pink' annually

To the Editor on Nov. 19:

The US Salt team arranged a “Go Pink” event for one day in October to raise money for Breast Cancer Awareness and cancer awareness in general. The company agreed that for every employee who wore pink they would contribute $10 and for every employee that colored their hair pink they would contribute $20.

All together the US Salt team raised $1,070; this donation will be distributed to a local charity called the YWCA-Pink Boutique. The funds will be used in our local community at September Hill, a facility that helps those who may not be able to afford care such as mammograms, or expenses associated with health-related issues. Without September Hill many people in our community would go without, so US Salt found it important to help this amazing foundation continue to give back to those who are in need.

Our company intends to continue this “Go Pink” event annually and continue to help support our community and raise awareness to save lives.

US Salt

O-M swim team did great things

To the Editor on Nov. 19:

I am just writing to let everyone know some great things about the Odessa-Montour girls varsity swim team.

They had an exceptional swim season despite the fact that their record does not show this. They were a team of nine swimmers for most of the year, then rising to 10. Here are some facts about what they accomplished this year:

At the EFA Invitational, which does not distinguish swimmers by class, 13 teams were represented:

Our 200 Freestyle Relay placed 5th out of 25 relay teams.
The 400 Freestyle Relay placed 4th out of 23 relay teams, being beaten only by Ithaca, Horseheads and Chenango Valley, all teams in a higher class

O-M placed higher in those relays than ever before at this invitational. Not too shabby for a team of nine swimmers, considering eight of the 13 teams there were Class A and B

At IAC’s, where seven teams were represented, O-M had Top 5 finishes in five out of eight individual events, including two Top 3 finishes resulting in two IAC All Stars. Maia Rumsey was second in the 100 Free in a 58.05 and Jenelle Bleiler was third in the 100 Breaststroke in a 1:18.79

In addition, the 200 Free Relay team placed 4th and the 400 Free Relay 3rd..

Considering most of these teams are twice O-M's size, I think their performance was quite remarkable.

At Class C sectionals, where 10 teams were represented, O-M had four swimmers make it into championship finals (the top eight finishers at preliminaries). The results:

--Jordan Little was 5th in the 200 Free and 4th in the 500 Free.
--Maia Rumsey was 5th in the 50 Free and 5th in the 100 Free.
--Jenelle Bleiler was 5th in the 100 Breast.
--Taylor Rounds was 8th in the 50 Free and 7th in the 100 Free.

Section 4 swimming also puts out a list of the top 40 swimmers in each event, including swimmers from all classes in the section. OM has Top 40 swimmers in four of the eight individual events:

--Jordan Little, 38th in the 200 Free;
--Taylor Rounds, 27th in the 50 Free;
--Maia Rumsey, 24th in the 50 Free, 30th in the 100 Free and 32nd in the 100 Back.

Our relays also placed relatively well on the list: the 200 Medley Relay was 17th out of 24 teams, the 200 Free Relay 12th, and the 400 Free Relay 10th.

Keep in mind this list is made up of all 24 teams in the section regardless of class and includes much bigger teams such as Ithaca, Horseheads, Binghamtom, Elmira, etc…

And finally, right here on this very website we had five swimmers on the All-Schuyler All-Star teams.

On the First Team were Jordan Little and Maia Rumsey, the only two athletes from O-M to make it on the First Team, which encompasses all varsity sports in the county. Two swimmers, Jenelle Bleiler and Taylor Rounds, were on the Second Team, while Emelia Paulisczak was on the Third Team.

O-M had a pretty impressive year in swimming. A small team made up of fewer than 10 swimmers was able to fight the odds and make an impact. Anyone who knows anything about swimming knows the dedication and intense training it takes to get to this level despite having little budget, minimal equipment and little notice, except here on The Odessa File.

This is due in part to the girls’ hard work and determination, but it would not have been possible without the dedication of their swim coach, Terri Brace. Her sacrifice to this team is immeasurable. The hours she spent away from her real job and her family have culminated not only in a talented group of athletes, but in young ladies who know what it takes to be successful in life.

Swimming is made up of groups of people who are like family. They band together through the aching muscles, the mental strain and the social isolation that comes with being a swimmer. They are a special breed of human being and will be forever in my memory as my senior moves on to her next great adventure!


OM swim mom and fan
aka Christy Rumsey

Consolidation would hurt our children

To the Editor on Nov. 14:

I remember a not-so-distant Meet the Candidates night, when a soon to be School Board member was asked if consolidation was on his agenda or part of his intentions as a board member. I remember said candidate answering point blank that no, consolidation was not part of his plan. Was that part of a ploy to get elected and then do whatever you want? Can you wonder if things may have been different in the election had he said yes, I plan to strive toward merger.

I also want to point out that there has been a lot of information put out there that shows consolidation would hurt our children, including information I myself have presented to the board and this site. Please do your research before weighing in on this subject, it is about more than our pockets. Research shows the many negative effects consolidation can have on districts, communities and students with very little to no sustainable lasting benefits. Yes, there is a quick-fix flash of cash, then districts are left with less cash total and are told at that point they are on their own. So long term, consolidation is not the answer.

I agree more people need to come to board meetings and see what's going on before they try and make choices about what direction this district should go in. Did anyone listen to Bruce Fraser, the expert that came to speak on the subject, who said that consolidation with Watkins does not make sense, if anywhere it should be a district that is more financially compatible with us? I say do your research first. I will be there tonight and have been there many times and will continue to be as long as our school is threatened with consolidation or merger.

You are right, the public is the only one who can choose and as a supposedly impartial school board member, you should be looking at the big picture of what is best for our students. Consolidation would hurt this community, guaranteed. Just look at the facts and it's plain to see.

Christy Rumsey, RN, MSN
Concerned parent

Still accepting donations of gear

To the Editor on Nov. 14:

Thank you to all who have donated gear to the Used Sports Equipment Drive by WG Senecas Lacrosse, Watkins Glen PTO and Glen Industries. We have received many great items, and pictures can be viewed on www.facebook.com/WGSenecasLacrosse.

We are still accepting donations and have collection boxes at the WG School offices, WG Promotions, The Arc of Schuyler, New Image Hair Network, Watkins Supply or call/text 607-592-1653 or email wgsenecaslacrosse@gmail.com to arrange pickup.

Items will be for sale Dec 6th at Village Christmas near the Hector FUDGE booth, and Dec 14th at a Breakfast with Santa at WGES. A silent auction will be set up at the breakfast for higher $$ items like full weight sets, bow flex and a kayak that have been donated.

Clean out your closet or garage today of neglected equipment so that the gear can get used!

Kelly McCarthy

I am going to push for merger

To the Editor on Nov. 13:

I am writing to the public to encourage them to attend the Odessa-Montour school district's School Board meetings. We are pretty open to public comments and love to see the taxpayers there.

One reason I am writing is to inform people on the subject of merger. I went to a meeting last month at GST BOCES where a Deputy Commissioner of the State Education Department discussed that topic and said the state would pay for a merger study. Also, I found out that for the first five years, merging schools get more funding.

The thing is, THE BOARDS DO NOT HAVE THE POWER TO MERGE. It has to go out to a public vote for both districts. I ran and won a School Board position because a lot of people are tired of the status quo. Well, the only way I can change things is with your help. But you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way. To have it otherwise would be un-American.

So know that I am going to push this to be voted on. You all can have a voice to see where the future of our children's education goes from here in Schuyler County.

Thanks all.

Robert Tuttle
O-M School Board member

Heartfelt thanks to those who helped

To the Editor on Nov. 12:

Heartfelt and sincere thank you’s to all of you who worked right alongside us. We so appreciate you and all that you did: whether voting, placing signs, calling, listening, cooking, talking, and especially your solid support.

Congratulations to Bo Lipari and Michael Lausell and new beginnings for Hector and Schuyler County.

Deb Reid

Please plan to attend budget hearing

To the Editor on Nov. 11:

Schuyler taxpayers are encouraged to attend the public hearing on the proposed 2014 county budget. It will be held Tuesday, November 12th at 6:30 p.m. in the Human Services building in Montour Falls.

Although the tax rate will remain the same, those people with property in the Towns of Catharine and Montour who had their assessments increased this year will see their taxes go up under this proposed budget.

Please plan to attend and tell the Legislature how you feel about the budget. It is your money we are spending and we value your input.

Barbara Halpin

My heartfelt appreciation and thanks

To the Editor on Nov. 7:


I was elected to be the new District 2 Legislator for Schuyler County on November 5, 2013. Now is the right point in time to thank those who made this possible for me. My heartfelt appreciation and thanks to the following people;

-- The voters who voted for me.

-- Those friends and family who assisted in my campaign efforts. Their support was critical and we would not have prevailed without that support.

-- I believe it is important to publicly acknowledge the following individuals who sacrificed their valuable time to: circulate petitions; assemble, distribute, and collect signs; knock on doors and introduce me to neighbors and friends; advocate for me; and provide insightful advice based on their experience: JOHN WHITE; ALVIN WHITE; MIKE BERGEN; DAVID POYER; JANE IKE; and also their spouses for their patience and understanding during the long hours we were campaigning.
Rebecca White for design of my signs and placing telephone calls.
Rachel Jager, Mary Beth Jager, and Garrett Harp, my wonderful grandchildren who assisted in circulating my petitions.

-- Phil Barnes, the Republican Party County Chairman, the Hector Town Board members, the Schuyler County Legislators I met with, and also the current and former Schuyler County officials, both elected and appointed, who were available and patiently provided guidance and clarified both rules and requirements.

-- Patty, my wife, for her patience, understanding, insights, arguments and prayers -- not only in strategy, but also in perseverance and all of the time with a smile.

-- My appreciation and thanks to my opponents for their willingness to enter the arena of public and political debate. Though not elected, they participated in what in fact, in my firm belief, makes this "The Very Best Country in the World!"

-- My personal thanks to Joe Fazzary, Schuyler County's Prosecuting Attorney, for his initial suggestion to me to run for office!

-- In closing, I will restate my commitment to the residents of Schuyler County. My purpose is not for personal advancement. Rather, it is to leave this County a little better than my wife and I found it -- for all of yours, and our children and grandchildren.


Van Harp

Thanks to those who supported me

To the Editor on Nov. 6:

Thank you District 1 voters who supported me in my re-election. I look forward to being your voice the next four years. Please continue to visit my website at www.barbarahalpin.com and I will keep you informed about county business, and please feel free to leave your comments.

Barbara Halpin
Legislator, District 1

Thanks to those who voted

To the Editor on Nov. 6:

I would like to express my sincere thank you to the voters who exercised the right to vote in the Town Of Tyrone. I would also like to congratulate the winners of the Town Board election in Tyrone. Very importantly 78% of registered voters came out to participate in the election on Tuesday, November 5. That speaks volumes in Tyrone.

Alan Hurley

My door is always open, my phone is on

To the District 4 voters:

Thank you for allowing me to be your "Voice" on the Schuyler County Legislature. I appreciate the overwhelming support I received personally and at the polls.

Thank you as well to my opponents, Tom Gifford and Paul Cartwright, for their upstanding campaigns. I wish them luck in their future endeavors.

My door is always open, my phone is always on. I look forward to hearing from you, whether to say hello, voice a concern or seek an answer to a question you may have.

Thank you for your supporrt. I sincerely look forward to being your Voice for District 4 for the next four years.

James W.D. Howell
Schuyler County Legislator
District 4

About the pay for appointed position ...

To the Editor on Nov. 4:

In response to the posting by Paul Marcellus regarding changing the elected Treasurer position to an appointed position.

I did not speak to the compensation for the proposed position because that will be determined if the appointed position is approved by Schuyler voters. The county has a procedure that employs a factor analysis that in turn determines in what salary range positions are placed. The salary of an individual hired for any given position in a given salary range is determined by their education and experience. In addition, the position in a given salary range can be affected by “market” conditions such as the number of individuals applying who meet the minimum requirements for the position.

It is possible, if the voters approve the proposition, that a well qualified individual will have a salary above the current salary for the elected Treasurer as it is standard practice to equate quality with higher compensation.

Should the proposition be approved by the voters and should the salary be set higher than the current salary allocated to the Treasurer position, the legislature should identify additional cuts and /or revenues to offset the increase in expenditures.

In addition, if the proposition is approved there will no longer be a Deputy Treasurer position. The title will be changed to reflect the personnel needs in the department.

Barbara Halpin

Thanks to those who helped with dinner

To the Editor on Nov. 3:

Thanks to all those who made the annual United Way of Schuyler County spaghetti dinner a fun and prosperous event. Proceeds from the 420 dinners and additional donations received will go towards a campaign goal of $123,000 that help support 23 health and human service agencies that serve the residents of Schuyler County.

First and foremost, gratitude to the Montour Moose Lodge and Mike Donnelly for their signature sauce, meatballs, sausage and hospitality. Deep appreciation goes to an outstanding board of directors and a staff of volunteers that show up every year to help out. The young people from the schools and Interact Club that serve the meals are invaluable to the success of the dinner.

The most profound thanks go to those who support United Way of Schuyler County by donating their time, monies, or expertise or by attending events and participating in their fund raisers. Your efforts improve the quality of life and have a direct impact on hundreds of Schuyler County residents.

Peggy Scott
Executive Director

Make sure of your polling place

To the Editor on Nov. 3:

Many Hector residents will need to go to a different polling place this year. I know that the Board of Elections is extremely concerned that there will be serious confusion on election day.

So, Hector residents, be sure to check your voter notification card. Your polling place may have changed. Lost the card? Click here to reach the New York State Board of Electons site and look up your registration and polling place.

Susanne Lipari

Vote to preserve the Treasurer's post

To the Editor on Nov. 3:

On Oct. 17, Legislator Halpin, writing to this forum, implores us that "it is necessary that all the facts be presented and that they are accurate." She encourages our support for doing away with an elected Treasurer's post.

Legislator Halpin omits what for me is a most salient fact. Whether it be a Comptroller position or now a Director of Finance, the salary needed to hire this post will be six figures. The Deputy Treasurer's post will also be correspondingly higher. This is how government grows even as the numbers of us who foot the bill as taxpayers decline.

Please turn out and vote to preserve the elected post of County Treasurer. Vote no to County Proposition 1.

Paul Marcellus
Watkins Glen

Vote 'no' on the Treasurer proposition

To the Editor on Nov. 3:

I am writing this letter today to voice my strong opposition to the proposal of changing the Schuyler County Treasurer's position from elected to appointed.

By changing to the appointed position, we as voters will be giving our electoral authority over to the elected officers of the legislature. I believe this move is a mistake due to removing the right to vote from the electorate. The result would not be a democratic process, but rather more control by the few.

You will see on the back of each ballot in Schuyler County the proposal described here in my letter, I strongly urge voters to reject this notion to appoint a treasurer instead of electing . So remember to vote "no" on the Treasurer proposition.

Alan Hurley
Tyrone Town Board Candidate

Cantata rehearsals are set to begin

To the Editor on Oct. 30:

Calling all singers! It's time to begin rehearsing for the Community Christmas Cantata!

This year's offering will be Pepper Choplin's exquisite "Heaven's Child," to be presented Sunday evening, December 15 at 7:30 p.m. at the Montour Falls Baptist Church, located on South Street in Montour Falls.

Rehearsals will be Sundays, beginning November 3, from 4-6 p.m. at the church.

All singers are welcome. If you can't make a rehearsal or two, scores and CDs will be available for $10 for you to rehearse on your own. There will be a children's choir as well, with more to follow on that at a later date.

For more information, please contact Kim Caldwell Laursen at 607-594-6565.

Mrs. Kim Laursen, music teacher
Odessa-Montour Central School

Larison: Let me continue to serve you

To the Editor on Oct. 30:

For the past 16 years, I have had the honor and privilege to serve citizens of Schuyler County by volunteering to serve on the county legislature. My term there has been one of learning every year, valuing what we have and seeking measures for improvement through a variety of means including sharing of services internally and externally.

As a legislator, I have served you with:

--14 years of service on the Inter-County Association of Western New York. This 19 county association receives and supports resolutions that are sent to the state to benefit the counties of Western New York, including Schuyler.

For the entire letter, click here.

Vote for Scott Yaw, a good man

To the Voters on Oct. 30:

What would you do if?

--You met a loving family man who also cared for his neighbors and the people who lived in his community?

--A man who worked very hard to do his best to serve those folks to help them have a better life.

--Even if it meant it would upset some of the people he cared for a great deal?

--A man who studied hard to find ways to save money, improve local services, and better his community by asking questions and trying to find answers to those questions that even made him unpopular at times!

I think you would like to have that man represent you as the new Supervisor for the Town of Dix!

Won’t you join me to help Scott Yaw show you what he is capable of?

Vote for Scott Yaw to be Dix Town Supervisor.

Remember, he is running on the Listening Party Line.

A good man, to do a good job, for all of us!

Carol Kunzmann

Youth smoking is 'pediatric epidemic'

To the Editor on Oct. 25:

According to the Surgeon General, youth smoking is "a pediatric epidemic."

1. This is due to the fact that 3.6 million U.S. middle and high school students currently smoke cigarettes. In New York State, 11.9 percent (more than 100,000) high school students smoke.

2. Prevention education needs to start with our youth, as 90% of tobacco users smoked their first cigarette by the age of 18.

We have all seen the “Power Walls” behind checkout counters at convenience stores, grocery stores, and even pharmacies. Tobacco product marketing displays give the impression that tobacco is easily accessible and tobacco use is acceptable. Is this the message we want our youth to get, considering the negative impact tobacco use has on health and quality of life?

The first national study to examine how specific marketing strategies in convenience stores and other retail settings affect youth smoking was conducted in May 2007. This study concluded that the more cigarette marketing teens are exposed to in retail stores, the more likely they are to smoke.

3. Our kids have the right to grow up in a healthy community -- free from tobacco marketing in stores where they shop.

Gretchen Silliman,
Concerned community member

Vote 'No' on County Proposition 1

To the Editor on Oct. 25:

The media has been reporting on County Proposition 1 in Schuyler County, a measure that will convert the County Treasurer position to an appointed position. The County Legislature has submitted this change for approval by the voters on November 5th. Legislative members are urging voters to approve this change, citing a continuing problem with past treasurers and also including the present treasurer in their complaints. Their argument is this. There are no present minimal qualifications for the elected position. If the voters of Schuyler County give the legislature the power to appoint a newly created Director of Finance position, they will make sure that the person that occupies that position will be suitably qualified. They finish their argument by stating that the election for treasurer is merely a popularity contest. What is left unsaid is, “Elect us through a popularity contest, and we will take care of this problem for you.”

Here is my rebuttal. The overwhelming majority of counties in New York State elect their county treasurers. There are no “minimal qualifications” for most elective offices in New York State, and most of us would view any such restrictions as a restriction on democracy. The reality is that regarding most elective positions, those of us that step forward do so out of a deep seated sense of duty and service to our state and our country. So now I must ask, in a Legislature where all eight seats are held by the Republican Party and the position of County Treasurer is also held by a Republican Party member, why are you coming, crying to the voters, to convince us that this situation is so bad that we must surrender our voice so you can resolve it?

Here is a better solution. Let us approach the problem from the opposite direction. Let us have more candidates for every elected position in Schuyler County, and let the voters choose who will run our government. In the present election the Democratic Party has candidates for the four County Legislator positions that are up for election, fully half of the future legislature as presently redistricted. The four candidates have stepped forward due to the concerns that the present legislature has expressed, and more. We are running for elective office to change the atmosphere of complacency and business as usual that the present legislature has become accustomed to. Let us approach the problem of the County Treasurer from the same viewpoint. Let us all commit to encouraging concerned citizens of our county to run for office. Let us commit to having two, three, or more qualified candidates for County Treasurer, and then let the voters decide.

Democracy is a surprisingly fragile creation. Members of the armed forces protect our democracy outside our borders. Those that volunteer for local government and our voters, protect our democracy from within. Let us protect our voice, our vote, and also commit, everyone that can, to serve our country for the good of all.

Michael Lausell
Candidate for Schuyler County Legislature
North Hector

Tioga Downs official reacts

Editor's Note: The following was addressed to Stacy Husted, Clerk of the Schuyler County Legislature, in response to the legislature's protest vote Monday rejecting support of Proposition 1, which would authorizie Casino Gambling. A legislature letter to the governor is below.


Does the Schuyler County Legislature intend to reject any future State Aid to Education increases paid to your county school districts to offset school tax funding requirements or any of the additional $180,000 in new revenue to the Schuyler County Government if Proposition #1 passes?

I would sure hope so, because the other counties in the region could sure use what the Schuyler County legislative body has rejected.

Jay Dinga
Regional Director
Business Development & Governmental Relations
American Racing & Entertainment
Tioga Downs*Vernon Downs

Protest vote leads to protest letter

Note from the Editor: The following letter resulted from a unanimous vote of the six legislators present at the Oct. 21 meeting of the Schuyler County Legislature.

Director of Finance a needed change

To the Editor on Oct. 17:

Schuyler voters will have an opportunity to vote November 5th on the proposition that would seek to replace an elected Treasurer with an appointed Director of Finance. In order to make an educated decision, it is necessary that all the facts be presented and that they are accurate.

While I understand why those who oppose this change believe it will interfere with the democratic process, I believe there are rational and substantive reasons for the change and there is plenty of room for citizen participation other than direct election of the Treasurer.

The elected Treasurer needs no qualifications in terms of education or experience whatsoever. Someone with no experience in financial accounting can be elected. The position of Director of Finance will have qualifications set regarding education and experience, ensuring that the person in the position has a reasonable grasp of public accounting.

The Treasurer is elected for a 4-year term, so any desire to replace that person must wait until the end of the term. The Director of Finance will be an appointed exempt position, meaning the legislature can replace the person at any time if he or she is unable to do the job.

The elected Treasurer appoints a deputy who serves at his/her discretion. Again, the deputy does not need any qualifications to be appointed, nor can he/she be dismissed except by the Treasurer. The opportunity therefore exists for a 4-person office to have 2 people incapable of doing their jobs.

Elected Treasurers can come and go as they please or not even show up. There is no accountability to anyone because the electorate has no idea what is going on in the office on a daily basis. The Director of Finance will be under the direct supervision and answerable to the legislature on a daily basis.

An elected Treasurer has the option of denying financial information to whomever he/she desires. The Director of Finance would find the job in jeopardy should he/she deny anyone financial information.

Schuyler County is a fairly large business, and decisions that directly affect the taxpayers cannot be made on the basis of inaccurate and incomplete financial information. Further, the county has been expending an additional $5,000 to $26,700 per year to our accountants to clean up the mess in the Treasurer’s office. That is money that will be saved when the office is fully staffed with competent people.

I would heartily refute Mr. Burns' contention that there is “ the trend towards secrecy, closed discussions and patterns of ignoring and avoiding citizens' concerns about difficult issues.” The trend has been just the opposite with more and more information available on the county website. I know of no occasions where the legislature has ignored citizens’ concerns.

The electorate has the right, and I would argue the obligation, to know what is going on in their government. The electorate can track and comment on decisions by their elected legislature at any time, and would be able to engage in oversight of the Director of Finance at any level.

The reality is there is not that public oversight now; the electorate expects that elected legislators will make educated decisions based on accurate financial information. That will happen with an appointed Director of Finance; it has not with an elected Treasurer.

I have a healthy skepticism of government and the political games that get played, and it is quite likely I would not support this change in the Treasurer’s office had I not witnessed firsthand the dangers that county government has been facing because of a lack of complete and accurate financial information. I encourage you to support this much-needed change.

Barbara Halpin, Legislator

A big 'Thank you'

To the Editor on Oct. 17:

A big THANK YOU to all who have contributed to the Hector Church bottle donations -- and we are still collecting! All proceeds go to help the mission of the Hector Presbyterian Church.

Rev. Nancy Meehan Yao, Pastor
Presbyterian Churches of Hector and Hammondsport

Vote 'No' on Treasurer change

To the Editor on Oct. 15:

On the November 5, 2013 ballot there will be a local Proposition (located on the reverse side of the ballot) to change the position of County Treasurer (an elective office) to Comptroller (to be filled by appointment of the Legislature). If this Proposition passes, residents of Schuyler County will lose their right to vote for County Treasurer.

This means:

· Further erosion of the democratic process.
· Loss of voter control over the position of Treasurer.
· Treasurer’s Office answerable only to those who make the appointment, not the public.
· Lack of independence of the Treasurer’s Office.
. Potential for favoritism and cronyism.
· “Yes-man” attitude (fear of dissent).
· Elimination of public oversight.

At its August 4, 2013 meeting, the Schuyler County Democratic Committee voted unanimously to oppose this Proposition. We urge the citizens of Schuyler County to vote "No" on this Proposition on November 5, 2013 (reverse side of ballot).

Don't lose your right to vote for County Treasurer.

Vote "No."

Schuyler County Democratic Committee

Reducing democracy is not the solution

To the Editor on Oct. 14:

The current Legislature is proposing that our elected County Treasurer’s position be changed to an appointed position, answerable only to the unelected County Administrator. This would make the Treasurer unanswerable to the people. While the current one-party-controlled Schuyler County Legislature has itself grown closed and unresponsive to the interests of local citizens, it now proposes to further limit citizen control over our government.

Certainly we can agree that there have been problems and disagreements about the Treasurer’s office. According to a recent audit, our county’s finances are in a mess. My opponents would say this is cause to hire a professional, claiming that the Treasurer must be able to do the accounting. However, the Treasurer is only responsible for ensuring that the county’s books are done correctly. The position of Treasurer itself need not be seen as an accounting job, but rather a position of accountability and a guardian of the people’s purse.

If the elected Treasurer cannot personally guarantee clean audits, it is his or her responsibility to find someone who can or be voted out of office. Voting in favor of Schuyler County Proposition #1 will take this power away from the people and put it in the hands of a few. Those in favor of the proposition say this is the trend. Meanwhile, the current elected Treasurer -- whose records are in a mess -- reportedly assumes he will be appointed! Do they propose to appoint the same treasurer?

Reducing the ability of Schuyler citizens to have oversight over how our tax dollars are managed will reinforce a real and disconcerting trend in the County government. Namely, the trend towards secrecy, closed discussions and patterns of ignoring and avoiding citizens' concerns about difficult issues. Reconsidering the workload, pay, and responsibilities of this elected official -- answerable to the voters -- is an appropriate way to fix our problems. Taking democracy away from us is not.

Vote “No” on Schuyler County Proposition #1.

Michael Burns
Candidate for Schuyler County Legislature
for Catharine & Cayuta, NY

Stand up and be heard at meeting

To the Editor on Oct. 14:

Upon entering Watkins Glen from North Franklin Street, you immediately encounter three vacant buildings and parking lots. This may not seem unusual or worthy of one’s attention, but when you consider that the Watkins Glen Village Planning Board has given preliminary approval to the destruction of one perfectly viable residential home on South Franklin Street for the purpose of expanding the already existing Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot, well then this situation becomes downright absurd.

How can we justify tearing down family homes when there are buildings and parking lots that sit empty along Franklin Street? Furthermore, the Village Comprehensive Plan, which is supposedly the vision for Watkins Glen’s future as envisioned by our local government leaders and business owners, clearly states the institution of “a demolition law to prevent the demolition of existing buildings along Franklin Street for use as surface parking lots.” Why then is the Village giving approval to the Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot expansion when it is so blatantly in direct opposition to what the Village wants for its future?

The future is now. The time to act is now. This is why it is absolutely imperative that those of us who find the idea of destroying homes for parking lots unacceptable, in a town where buildings sit empty and parking lots sit vacant, stand up and be heard at the next Watkins Glen Village Planning Board meeting scheduled for Wednesday, October 16 at 7 p.m. in the Board Room of the Municipal Building, 303 N. Franklin Street.

Liam F. O'Kane
Watkins Glen

Tea Party to host candidates forum

To the Editor on Oct. 10:

The Odessa Tea Party group would like to invite everyone to our 2013 general election candidates forum, to be held on Wednesday, October 23rd at 7:00 p.m. in the Community Room of the Odessa Municipal Building at 300 East Main Street in Odessa, NY. This year, there are contests in four new Schuyler County legislative districts, which are in 1) Catharine and Cayuta, 2) North Hector, 3) Middle Hector and Burdett and 4) North Montour and Southernmost Hector excluding Burdett.

All Democratic and Republican candidates running for these four seats have agreed to appear at this forum except for Michael Burns, Democratic candidate from District 1, who will be out of the area on the date of our forum. Each candidate will be allowed to present his or her platform and then will be available for public questions.

In addition to the candidate presentations, we will also be hosting a presentation on and discussion of the upcoming referendum (also on this November's ballot) which proposes to convert the currently elected County Treasurer's position into a County Director of Finance appointed by the legislature. This referendum makes major change in a fundamental aspect of our county government, and this forum is your final public chance to become informed on this matter or express your opinion on this proposed change. We will also have handouts available listing the other six state ballot measures to be voted upon, including a measure introducing Casino Gambling at seven casinos across New York State.

I would also like to remind everyone that there is a "Meet the Candidates" program which will take place on October 16th at 7:00 p.m. in the Watkins Glen Elementary School. auditorium. This program is sponsored by the Schuyler County League of Women Voters.

I hope that everyone will take the time to attend one or both of these events, as there are many new candidates and some very important issues at stake in this year's election. It is incumbent upon us as citizens to take our vote seriously and be well informed before casting a ballot. As Thomas Jefferson so aptly stated: “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that, whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them right.”

Mark Rondinaro,
for the Odessa Tea Party group

Stay on your toes and speak your mind

To the Editor on Oct. 8:

Charlie, I've read your last couple of articles and want to share a couple of thoughts. I'm also a fall birthday person and, years ago, my then boss who was more intelligent than me told me that people of his faith (Jewish) born in the fall always became introspective around this time of the year. I simply don't know if it's true, but I do know that all of us in the community need you to stay on your toes and speak your mind.

The Odessa File is yours but, more often than not, it is the best source of local news available and your opinion pieces have served to focus our thoughts on some particularly important issues. If not for you, we often would have no voice, so don't you dare back off. Know that there are many of us who enjoy and need you to stay with it.

For those who can't stand an occasional barb, recall the words of Harry Truman about heat in the kitchen!

Nick Paradiso

Wear orange on 9th to oppose bullying

To the Editor on Oct. 8:

Everyone is encouraged to wear orange on October 9th, Unity Day, to demonstrate their support of the bullied and their commitment to prevent bullying in the future.

Bullying is an issue that directly and negatively affects students’ ability to learn. More than 160,000 students stay home each day from fear of being bullied. In addition to school avoidance, students who are bullied suffer a decrease in grades, a decreased ability to focus and concentrate, a loss of self-confidence and self-esteem, and an increase in anxiety, depression and physical ailments such as stomach aches and headaches. Consequently, bullying can be tragic: The majority of school shootings are a result of bullying, and some students have resorted to suicide to escape the painful effects of being bullied.

Bullying affects witnesses as well as the targets, because witnesses often report feeling unsafe, helpless and afraid that they could be the next target of the bully.

Bullying is an issue that has been accepted for too long. It is no longer acceptable to just consider bullying as a part of growing up or the rite of passage. Silence is no longer an acceptable response to bullying.

The Schuyler County Legislature has declared October as “Bullying Prevention Month” and is encouraging everyone to wear orange on October 9th to show their support of bullied individuals and their commitment to prevent bullying in the future.

Schuyler County Public Health

Express your views at budget workshop

To the Editor on Oct. 8:

The public is encouraged to attend the next legislative workshop on the 2014 Schuyler County budget. The meeting will be held October 22nd at 7:00 p.m. in the legislative chambers in Watkins Glen.

Everyone attending will be given an opportunity to speak. Please use this as an opportunity to express your views on taxes, programs, etc.

The draft budget will be available on the Schuyler County website at www.schuylercounty.us. Please visit my website and my blog at www.barbarahalpin.com for information on the budget process and inside information of interest. Please leave me your comments.

Barbara Halpin, Legislator

October is Head Start Awareness Month

To the Editor on Oct. 5:

On October 22, 1982, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed October Head Start Awareness Month. Thirty-one years after the proclamation, his words still inspire us to celebrate this great program: "Perhaps the most significant factor in the success of Head Start has been the involvement of parents, volunteers, and the community. Their commitment and the services provided by dedicated Head Start staff have been instrumental in creating a quality program that truly provides young children with a 'head start' in life."

Approaching its 50th anniversary, Head Start looks very different from the program that opened in the summer of 1965. Even as we evolve, core elements -- locally-designed, comprehensive services, parent-family engagement, and federal to local funding – have remained solid cornerstones in Head Start’s foundation.

This year Schuyler Head Start celebrates 40 years of service to our community. We started out as Schuyler Day Care and incorporated as Schuyler Head Start in 1973. Since that time roughly 4,000 Schuyler County children have been given a “Head Start.”

Schuyler Head Start promotes family engagement, appreciates community collaborations and encourages outreach and support through volunteerism. In fact, last year we received over $253,000 equivalent dollars in goods and services.

While the faces and locations of our classrooms have changed, we remain dedicated and committed to the Head Start principles, believing that when it comes to educating a child it is everybody’s business.

Schuyler Head Start

HOF Selection Committee chose well

To the Editor on Oct. 5:

Kudos to the Hall of Fame Selection Committee for the selection of Bill Peters, Nick Anagnost and Bill Elkins. All three gentleman are deserving of this recognition! All three gave unselfishly of their time, as well as other resources to the betterment of Schuyler County.

Bill Peters was my competitor; he conducted himself honestly and ethically. He was happy to assist other insurance agents, sharing his vast knowledge of the insurance business. It was not uncommon for one of us to lose an account to the other and then meet for dinner on the weekend.

Nick Anagnost was our family's trusted pharmacist, as well as a loyal client. Nick often worked behind the scenes to help others, particularly the youth of the community. His anonymity in doing so, not seeking recognition, speaks volumes about this man's character.

I do not know Mr Elkins well, but whenever I interacted with him I knew I was in the presence of an intelligent and caring human being. Best wishes to all three honorees.

John Senka

Freedom Festival set for fairgrounds

To the Editor on Sept. 25:

On Saturday, September 28, from 10 AM to 10 PM, the Trumansburg fairgrounds off NYS Rt. 96 in Trumansburg, NY will host the Finger Lakes Freedom Festival 2013. This festival will feature internationally known speakers such as Tom DeWeese, Scott Tips, Judith Whitmore, and Sheriff Richard Mack. The speakers and the programs being presented will focus on celebrating the culture of freedom that Americans have taken for granted for more than two hundred years, and the threats to those freedoms which are appearing both domestically and worldwide today.

A sampling of topics include presentations on U.N. Agenda 21, CODEX and Health Freedom, and The Constitution and the Defense of Liberty. Celebratory events include a color guard, a revival of patriotic songs, a freedom essay contest and an evening DJ-hosted dance party. Event organizers are asking for participants to donate what they can to cover event costs. The suggested donation is $15/person, but everyone is welcome to pay whatever they are able to afford.

More information is available at https://www.facebook.com/events/203749109789351/ and http://www.fingerlakesfreedomfestival.com.

Mark Rondinaro

Glen workshop set on noise ordinance

To the Editor on Sept. 20:

As a result of our growing tourism and business in the Village of Watkins Glen, we have been experiencing some new challenges that we haven't had in the past. One of these challenges is noise and the impact it is having on the community.

The Village Board will be holding a workshop on Monday, September 23 to draft a new local law that will become our local noise ordinance. The workshop will be from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. and will be held in the Village Board Room on the 2nd Floor of the Municipal Building.

Anyone who is interested in participating or listening to the discussion is welcome and encouraged to attend.

Mayor Mark Swinnerton

Jeff's family needs our love and support

Editor's Note: The following letter was submitted to The Odessa File on Sept.18. Jeff Ray passed away on Sept. 19.

To the Editor on Sept. 18:

As some of you know, our friend Jeff Ray (OM Class of ’82) was diagnosed with terminal cancer. In July, Jeff and his daughter Makayla left Colorado to come back home to spend his final days with his family. Jeff’s oldest daughter, Jackie, has opened her home to her father and sister, as well as to the many family and friends who have come to share memories with Jeff in his final days.

Jeff has been blessed by his daughter, Jackie Ray Campbell; his two sons, Michael and Anthony Jordan (who Jeff took on and unconditionally loved as his own), and his daughter Makayla Ray (pictured with Jeff at right). He has had his loving companion from Colorado, Michelle Oakley, by his side, as well as his father, Cliff Ray, and his siblings Tim, Cathy, Lori, Jennifer and their families. Seeing the outpouring of love from his family and many friends at this time of closure has been an amazing gift for us all.

As you can imagine, Jeff’s concerns about making sure his daughter Makayla will have the support that she needs when he is gone has been immense. She is completing her senior year at OMCS and will be staying with her grandfather Cliff and sister Jackie. She will need as much support as our loving community can give her. I am reaching out to anyone who would like to offer help by making a financial donation to honor Jeff’s final wishes. Makayla had braces put on in Colorado in the spring before moving hack here and has not had any follow-up treatment since then. Donations will be deposited to a trust fund for Makayla and will be applied to her orthodontic treatment, which has been estimated to be $6,000, as well as helping with clothes and school supplies.

Donations and letters of support for Jeff's family may be sent to: Susan Wardwell, in trust for Makayla Ray, 3041 Carley Road, Alpine NY 14805.

Please join us all in wishing Jeff a loving and peaceful passing, and his family the love and support they will need during this most difficult time.

Susan Wardwell

Regarding the County Planner position

To the Editor on Sept. 17:

Michael Lausel recently commented on action by the Legislature to address the county Planning Director’s pay raise. It is encouraging to see taxpayers attend county meetings, and public discussion on action by the Legislature is encouraged. Mr. Lausell’s comments regarding the manner in which the Legislature dealt with the county Planning Director’s pay raise are, I am sure, well-intentioned, but need clarification. Please visit www.barbarahalpin.com and click on my blog for a comprehensive analysis of this issue.

Barbara Halpin

Thanks for help on School Giveaway

To the Editor on Sept. 17:

Catholic Charities’ Schuyler Outreach would like to thank local businesses, organizations, volunteers and donors for their tremendous support in assuring that children could start the school year off right. Wonderful volunteers, including St. Mary’s Youth Group and The Girl Scouts, assisted with the preparation and sorting of donated school supplies. We appreciate the hours of hard work that all our volunteers put in to make the Back to School Giveaway a success.

We value the community partnerships of St. Mary’s of the Lake, The Montour Falls Moose Lodge #426, Fidelis Care New York, Burdett Presbyterian Church, Watkins Glen Walmart and Labor of Love. The following businesses’ participation in our drive for school supplies and backpacks is greatly appreciated: Cabins to Castles Real Estate, Famous Brands, Glen Mountain Market, JBK Bridal & Prom, Jerlando's Ristorante, O'Susannah's Quilts & Gifts, Savard's Restaurant, the Village of Watkins Glen, and Watkins Sporting Goods.

With the community’s help, Catholic Charities was able to assist 300 children with backpacks, school supplies and clothing. 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 becoming a volunteer, please contact Catholic Charities of Schuyler County at 607-535-2050 or visit www.cs-cc.org.

Catholic Charities

My sincere gratitude to the voters

To District 1 voters on Sept. 12:

As a result of this past week's Republican Primary, you will find my name endorsed by the Listening Party in the upcoming November elections. I extend my sincere gratitude to the voters who supported me this past week.

I look forward to continue working hard for you in our county government, enabling our Legislature to provide mandated county services and promote responsible economic growth while maintaining a transparent, fiscally conservative budget for our residents.

Glenn R. Larison

Thanks to those who helped in Primary

To the Voters on Sept. 11:

I couldn’t have done it without you! Thanks so much to every one of you who helped me win the Republican primary for the new Legislative District I.

Thanks to those who provided moral support; thanks to those who listened when I visited their homes; thanks to those who allowed me to put signs on their property; thanks to those who made calls; and thanks especially to those who took time out of their busy schedules to go and vote for me.

Shame on those who took my signs from the Catharine four corners. It would have been much more productive to talk about why you couldn’t support me. I am always happy to discuss other points of view.

Now on to the general election.

Barbara Halpin

Our Legislature can do better

To the Editor on Sept. 11:

My name is Michael Lausell, and I am a candidate for the Schuyler County Legislature from District 3, North Hector. I have been attending legislative meetings to be fully informed on the current county business as I campaign for the November election.

At last month’s legislative meeting, the Legislature caused a stir by raising the salary of Planning Director Rocky Kambo from $45,000 a year to $60,000 a year, including a retroactive pay raise for 2013, which I believe amounted to $11,000. Now we are informed that after receiving the retroactive pay, Mr. Kambo is leaving his position with the county on October 1st.

Mr. Kambo’s pay raise was offensive to other county employees who have not received pay raises due to our county’s current fiscal circumstances, and certainly never receive pay raises of this magnitude. The Legislature justified the raise because of the important work Mr. Kambo is presently involved in for the Schuyler County Comprehensive Plan, a plan essential in securing funding for county projects.

And now Mr. Kambo is leaving town in three weeks! I feel personally betrayed by this, for it shows a lack of responsibility and respect that a Planning Director should demonstrate to his employers, first the Legislature that picked him, and second to us, the voters who pay his salary.

That aside, I am dismayed that the Schuyler County Legislature 1) gave him such a sizable pay raise because of concerns that Mr. Kambo might depart his position, leaving the county in a tough spot, 2) had no clue that Mr. Kambo was planning to leave anyway, and 3) did not include as part of any pay raise a commitment from Mr. Kambo to remain at his post until the Comprehensive Plan was completed. And we the voters are left paying the bill.

This is no way to run a business. It is certainly not the way that our Legislature should be conducting the business of the people, the voters of Schuyler County.

Michael Lausell

We need Tom Gifford's experience

To the Editor on Sept. 4:

For 60 years I have watched Tom Gifford grow from a fine student and athlete at Watkins Glen High School, to serve in the U.S. Army, and to return home and become an outstanding leader in our community. In his profession he always had an interest in helping individuals and investing in projects of benefit to our community.

Over the years, in addition to raising five wonderful children with his wife Carole, Tom has consistently volunteered countless hours to worthwhile community projects. We are thankful for individuals of Tom’s caliber who are willing to provide a lifetime of public service.

Tom’s time on the County Legislature has been marked by steadfast and intelligent service. His experience is now needed to help guide us as the county prepares to take on important new proposed projects.

Jean S. Argetsinger
Burdett, New York

I'm supporting Halpin and Howell

To the Editor on Sept. 3:

I wish to remind everyone that the primary election in New York State will be held on next Tuesday, September 10. Schuyler County Republicans in the new Legislative District 1 (towns of Catharine and Cayuta) and Legislative District 4 (parts of the towns of Montour and Hector) will be choosing their candidate for these legislative posts. I am supporting Barbara Halpin in District 1 and James Howell, Jr. in District 4.

Ms. Halpin and Mr. Howell have earned the endorsement of the Schuyler County Conservative Party, and will be that party’s nominees on the November ballot. The reason for that endorsement is obvious; Ms. Halpin and Mr. Howell are substantially more in line with core conservative principles than their opponents Mr. Larison and Mr. Gifford. For example, for the past two years Ms. Halpin has led the effort to institute term limits for Schuyler County legislators, and Mr. Howell as a candidate has voiced support for this proposal. Incumbent legislators Mr. Larison and Mr. Gifford have continually opposed this effort. In addition, Ms. Halpin has been a strong voice for taxpayers, and has led efforts to challenge budgetary items and search for areas to find savings. Neither Mr. Larison nor Mr. Gifford has supported Ms. Halpin in her search for cuts or proposed alternative areas to trim expenses.

A broader overview of these candidates’ conservative views is also available. As part of its candidate vetting process, the Odessa Tea Party group requested that all four of these candidates fill out a survey prior to our Candidate Vetting meeting in August. This survey queried the candidates’ support for various propositions of interest to conservative voters. The survey was designed so that a higher score indicated greater agreement with conservative positions. The final tally was that of 14 possible points, Ms. Hapin and Mr. Howell scored 11 points each, Mr. Larison scored 9 points and Mr. Gifford scored 4 points. The actual survey questions and answers are available for viewing at http://sdrv.ms/150hACV and http://sdrv.ms/150hhrZ .

I request that Republicans within these districts take the time to become familiar with the candidates and their records. Please exercise your right to select a candidate of your choice. If you value traditional conservative principles, I believe that your choice is clear.

Mark Rondinaro

A clarification on boosters' situation

To the Editor on Sept. 3:

I am writing to clarify some things written in a letter to the editor by Ms. Johnson regarding my comments to the Board of Education. I am beginning my third year as the athletic trainer at Watkins Glen High School and work with all 35 sports offered in the athletic program. Schuyler Hospital provides this service of 30-plus hours a week free of charge to the school district.

Ms. Johnson states that my comments at a recent board meeting were “an insult to the group (sports boosters), and not factually accurate.” What I said to the board was that at the most recent sports booster meeting, over $12,000 was requested by groups related to Watkins Glen sports, mine included, and that less than $200 of those requests was approved. If that is factually inaccurate I would ask the booster club to produce documentation that those requests were approved prior to my comments to the board. This occurred when the booster club, as of the night of the board meeting, reported over $31,000 in its various accounts as communicated by the school business manager.

I also expressed to the board my concern that the sports boosters, which use the school’s facilities and utilities free of charge, has that much money on hand while the school district has cut their athletic supplies budget by 47 percent this year. Again, if any of this is inaccurate, please show me the receipts for payment by the boosters for the lights, water, inside or outside concession spaces, etc.

When the athletic training program started two years ago, I asked the booster club for $500 for supplies for the new athletic training room. I told them what kinds of supplies I was asking for on the night I submitted my request as I was asked that question by a member. According to their own meeting minutes on the night I submitted my request, they had a $25,000 certificate of deposit. Also, if what Ms. Johnson says is true, that the boosters “indicated that it would need time in the new school year to get monies raised first before it could help,” is it not logical to assume that my request would be a standing request and that once the booster club raised the money, it would then help?

Maybe all the sports booster clubs I have seen and worked with over my 28-year career in athletics had it wrong. I thought the reason for a booster club was to give donations to sports teams within the school district. According to Webster, a donation is a “gift’ or a “free contribution.” In all those years of working in athletics in six states, I do not recall one time when a booster club asked to be reimbursed for a donation to a team. The booster clubs always donated all the money they had each year and only left enough for startup costs for the next year. They never had certificates of deposit or tens of thousands of dollars in their accounts at the beginning of the school year. Of course, the booster clubs I worked with were non-profit organizations, unlike the one we have here, so maybe that makes it different.

Ms. Johnson also states “I find it shameful that their (booster club members) time and dedication is questioned.” At no time during my comments did I call into question anyone’s “time and dedication.” In fact, I will publicly applaud them on this forum for their efforts.

Jim Somerville

Thanks to those who welcome 'Mile'

To the Editor on Aug. 29:

The Grand Prix Festival of Watkins Glen will once again hold the “Montour Mile” in downtown Montour Falls on Friday, Sept.6. Main Street will close by 10:45 a.m. in anticipation of 130 vintage and sports cars filling the streets. These drivers and navigators will take a moment to get to know Montour Falls while stretching their legs. Once all the cars have arrived, the group will then depart for a lap of Schuyler Hospital’s Seneca View Skilled Nursing Facility.

The Festival committee greatly appreciates the residents and businesses of the Village of Montour Falls welcoming this group every year. Please be advised that there will be an interruption in traffic flow that day during that time. The post office and bank will be open, but vehicular access will be closed. Side streets are open. The organizers try very hard to keep this part of the event to the shortest time-frame possible. The streets reopen at noon.

Please come down to the Village before 10:45 a.m. to enjoy the cars and cheer on the drivers.

Terrie Sautter

Watkins Boosters should be applauded

To the Editor on Aug. 22:

As a former member of the Watkins Glen Sports Booster Club, I find the commentary made at a recent school board meeting during the “Visitor’s Comments” time regarding the Booster Club’s lack of assistance in helping sports teams purchase needed equipment to be an insult to the group, and not factually accurate.

During my tenure with the Club from 2010-2013 we either purchased outright, or assisted in purchasing, the records boards in the swimming pool area, refurbished wrestling mats, rain resistant warm-ups for the XC team, wrestling uniforms, and new helmets for the football team. During that time I have no recollection of any sports team’s request not being honored at some level unless the request was in direct conflict with the group’s rules -- i.e. no purchase of items that would not remain with the sports program once the athlete was done using it, such as no individualized warm-ups.

When large purchases needed to be made, such as $6,000 requested for football helmets in 2012, the Booster Club does ask that the team do some fund raising to assist in the cost, as well.

In addition to these purchases, the club sponsored spectator buses for various athletic events, seasonal awards ceremonies, Senior Night flowers for athletes and parents for all varsity sports, goody bags for teams attending away sectional games, and the biggest expenditure, summer sports camp scholarships for student-athletes.

The Booster Club volunteers work endless evening and weekend hours throughout the school year, running the concession stand to raise money so that such purchases can be made. In addition, they provide opportunities for teams and clubs to work concession to raise their own money, as well.

The Booster Club was approached in August 2011 and asked to provide money for supplies of the new athletic training room. The Club reported that funds were not available at the start of the school year due to start-up costs for the concession stands, and the fact that the monies from the previous year were spent down to minimal amounts as was the standard operating procedure at that time. The Club indicated that it would need time in the new school year to get monies raised first before it could help, and additionally asked for a list of supplies that would be needed. A list was never provided, nor was a request ever repeated once the season got under way and monies were raised.

I think it important to note that several of the Booster Club volunteers no longer even have students that are school age, yet they continue to devote their time and energy to supporting Watkins Glen athletics because of their love for the students and the Watkins Glen athletic programs. I find it shameful that their time and dedication is questioned and not applauded.

Lorry Johnson

I respectfully ask for your support

The following was written to the voters of Schuyler County on Aug. 19:

For many years it has been my distinct honor and privilege to represent you as a member and past chairman of the Schuyler County Legislature. During this time the County has experienced many positive changes and we proudly enjoy the reputation as a great place to live, work, or visit. I am also proud to be part of a progressive team that has promoted responsible growth in a fiscally conservative fashion. The introduction of a public transit service with no local taxpayer dollars as well as the construction of a new luxury hotel that generates substantial local revenue are but a few examples of such accomplishments.

While I am happy to have played a part in supporting economic growth with the County, I am equally committed to maintaining needed services without overburdening our taxpayers. In the past decade, the County has undertaken numerous initiatives to reduce the local tax burden. Examples include piloting shared service initiatives among all local governments such as assessing, records management, public works, and a shared fuel facility. Additionally the Legislature has achieved savings in employee salary and benefit costs through a positive relationship with our labor unions. While it is no secret that New York State leads the nation in high taxes and that 90% of the County budget is dedicated to state-mandated programs, Schuyler County has one of the lowest combined tax rates (NYS Comptroller, 2011) in our region. I firmly believe that the secret to our continued future success lies within our ability to further reduce costs while simultaneously working to expand our economic base.

With respect to growing our economy, I am an active participant in the Project Seneca Leadership Team. This is one of the most exciting initiatives I have ever been involved with and represents the single largest economic development project in the history of this County. As a legislative representative, I have sought to promote this project resulting in its designation as the number one regional priority of the Governor's Regional Council for Economic Development.

While much has been accomplished in the last few years, there is still much more to be done, and clearly our best days are ahead of us. In seeking reelection to this office I pledge to aggressively pursue these opportunities and respectfully ask for your support on Tuesday, September 10 to continue the growth and prosperity of Schuyler County.

Thomas Gifford

County should hire public adjuster

To the Editor on Aug. 14:

Although I no longer reside in the Schuyler County, I do own considerable property there and am a taxpayer. Having had 42 years experience in the insurance business and currently an instructor approved by the State of New York, I feel qualified to comment on the recent article regarding a $2 million dollar claim incurred by Schuyler County.

The fire at the Shared Services Building in Watkins Glen occurred in March. It damaged the facility to the tune of $2 million dollars and you folks as the insured are "still awaiting word" from your insurance company??!! Really?

Since I have no idea who the county insures with, I can speak unbiased. Fire your agent! This is ridiculous that after almost 6 months you have not settled this claim! As I instilled in my son, "anyone can collect premiums. What really separates the amateur from the professional is how well you handle the claim!" It is for this reason I always emphasized that cheaper is not always better.

It is unfortunate if the county has to pay a third-party public adjuster to do what their agent should be doing as part of their job, but in this case if you haven t already done so hire one now, get the claim settled and move on.

One closing thought: Keep this poor claims handling in mind when you renew your coverage and select an agent.

John T. Senka

Legislature candidates set for forum

To the Editor on Aug. 11:

The Odessa Tea Party group would like to invite everyone to our inaugural event of the 2013 political campaign season. On Wednesday, August 21st at 7:00 pm, we will host a public forum for candidates running for Schuyler County offices in the September 10th 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 Republican primaries at the county level in two of our newly established County Legislature districts. District 1 (the Town of Cayuta and most of the Town of Catharine) features a race between two incumbent legislators, Glenn Larison and Barbara Halpin. District 2 (the northern portion of the town of Montour, including Montour Falls, and the southernmost portion of the town of Hector, excluding Burdett) pits an incumbent legislator, Thomas Gifford, against a well-known challenger, long-time County Watershed Inspector James Howell, Jr.

We have invited all four of the candidates to appear at this forum. This will be the only public candidate forum taking place during the primary season, and 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 districts, to attend this forum.

Mark Rondinaro,
for the Odessa Tea Party group

He made sure the students were prepared

To the Editor on Aug. 10:

I have read with interest as have many of my 1964 classmates of Watkins Glen High School the articles that have been printed about the findings in the Middle School regarding Civil Defense.

I would like to tell them that it was my uncle, Harlow J. Bailey, who was Civil Defense Director and Schuyler County Fire Coordinator during those years who initiated all of that, and there must be records in your County Office Building of all this. I remember him coming into the school and we had drills where all the students had to go into the hallways and sit on the floor with our heads down between our knees. There was a definite threat of nuclear war during those years and he made sure the school was a safe harbor and all of the students were prepared. He stocked those shelters and showed us where they were. Many of my classmates have been writing their accounts of those years in emails.

If you remember your history, it was also the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and my husband Bill Ormsbee was aboard a Navy Destroyer at that time with guns facing the Russian ships outside Cuba.

I think the items found in those shelters would be very interesting to history students and I just wanted to acknowledge that it was Harlow J. Bailey who was making sure we were the safest we could be in case of an attack.

Shirley Lee Ormsbee

Sheriff issues Boaters' Advisory

The following was issued by the Schuyler County Sheriff's Office on Friday, Aug. 9.

Schuyler County Sheriff William E. Yessman Jr. has issued a Boater's Advisory for all Schuyler County lakes.

Due to the recent rain, water levels in all lakes are high and a large amount of debris is floating both above and below the water's surface. Extreme caution is advised.

All boaters are also reminded that New York State Navigation Law requires all vessels within 100 feet of shore, docks or moored vessels cause no wake or exceed 5 miles per hour.

Schuyler County Sheriff's Office

Website seeks donations for good cause

To the Editor on Aug. 7:

Three of my six children are signed up for the NYC Marathon running (or walking in some cases) for Team Joe. The three are busy training in three different states, Bob in Texas, Chris in Maryland and Kathy in New York. They are trying to raise awareness and funds for the"worst disease you never heard of," Epidermolysis Bullosa.

Their brother is Joe Morin and he lives in Montour Falls. He has been living with EB for 37 years. The three marathoners have a website to tell about their brother and also informs people about what they are doing and asks for donations to the cause. Between them they are trying to raise $5,000. They and I would certainly appreciate it if you could find a place on The Odessa File for their story.

To visit their website and learn more, click here. For those of you who don't like to use credit cards on the Internet, you can call 212-868-1573 to make a payment by phone, or you can send a check to: Debra of America, 16 East 41st St., 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10017. Make sure to write "Team Joe" on the check.

Marianne Morin

Traffic plans set for race day

The following was addressed to The Residents in the Vicinity of the Watkins Glen International Race Track regarding NASCAR traffic on the upcoming race weekend.

On Sunday, August 11, 2013, we expect a large volume of traffic on County Route 16 because of the large influx of cars coming to the race circuit. As a result, it is necessary that we use County Route 16 as one-way traffic with three lanes of traffic going from State Route 414 to Gate 2 of the Race Track, and two lanes of traffic from Townsend Road to Kuhl Winner Way.

There will still be one lane of traffic from Bronson Hill Road to Townsend Road. This will start at around 6:00 a.m. and last until 2:00 p.m. Beginning at 9:00 am, Kuhl Winner Way will be a one-way road southbound from County Route 16 to Gate #5, and northbound from Bronson Hill Road to Gate #6. It was necessary to make this a part of our traffic pattern due to the growth of persons attending the event, as has been seen over the past several years.

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

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

We will have stationed an ambulance and a fire truck near the race track during the egress period for the safety of the residents in that area. Sheriff's patrols also will be in the area should there be any problems.

We apologize for any inconvenience this traffic pattern may cause you, but it is necessary for us to move a large volume of traffic in the shortest period of time for the safety of everyone.

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

William Yessman
Schuyler County Sheriff

SOS, Foundation are seeking volunteers

To the Editor on July 31:

WE NEED VOLUNTEERS!! The Spirit of Schuyler, an organization that provides emergency funds for Schuyler County residents in times of emergency, is teaming up with the NASCAR Foundation to raise funds at the Cheez-It 355 at the Glen.

This is a great opportunity for SOS -- which will split all proceeds raised that weekend. But we have to move fast. We need volunteers.

In fact, Matt Weiss at Daytona will need -- by this Friday, Aug. 2 -- their names and the shifts they want to work.

Volunteers will be asking fans in the Midway if they would like to make a $10 or $5 donation to The NASCAR Foundation in exchange for a NASCAR Day Pin or NASCAR Unites wrist band. (Tips on how to approach people and what to say will be provided at check-in, as well as information about The NASCAR Foundation so volunteers will be able to answer any general questions.)

Booth Hours: The NASCAR Foundation booth hours are as follows (volunteers can work partial shifts):
Friday, August 9 -- 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Saturday, August 10 -- 8:30 am - 2:30 pm
Sunday, August 11 -- 8:00 am - 1:00 pm

Check in for all the volunteers will be at Gate 4A, off of Route 16, near the Ticket/Registration office. They can park in there for free. There is a shuttle that will run from there to the Midway so they don't have to walk all the way into the infield. Each volunteer will receive a worker's pass in advance for event entry.

Volunteers are to come dressed in casual attire -- comfortable shoes for walking and standing. Dress for the weather.

Weiss can be contacted at mweiss@nascar.com or by phoning 386-310-5744.

Spirit of Schuyler

Seeking volunteers for future Festivals

Editor's Note: The following letter is addressed "To the Community."

Next year, in 2014, the Schuyler County Italian American Festival will be celebrating 35 years of fun for many thousands of people – and many thousands of dollars donated to community groups from Festival proceeds.

Some of the Festival volunteers will be leaving the organizing committee after next year’s event. They have given many years of service to the community through their hard work and commitment to ensuring a successful Italian American Festival.

Have you enjoyed the Italian American Festival? Do you want to see this annual event continue as a community celebration?

Committee members invite you to spend some time with us at this year’s event to learn more about what we do – and to learn about the great satisfaction we get from putting it all together each year.

This year’s Festival is Friday through Sunday, Aug. 2-4, at Clute Park in Watkins Glen.

Come and ask any committee member – known by our official shirts – how you can be part of the Italian American Festival. Or, contact Rocco Scaptura by calling (607) 228-0242 or by emailing rocco1@dishmail.net.

See you at the Festival!

Schuyler County Italian American Festival Committee

Sign placement lacks common sense

To the Editor on July 17:

There is a concerning event going on in Schuyler County -- placement of a high-intensity Department of Health sign right next to the Veteran's War Memorial on the Schuyler County Courthouse lawn.

It is my opinion this is improper. I believe preservation of historical sites in Schuyler County and New York State should be afforded great care. Just because a grant was given by New York State for the purpose of public awareness (the sign will alert area residents to Public Health opportunities such as flu shots and rabies clinics) doesn't mean better, more logical planning shouldn't be utilized. It is quite obvious the placement of this sign impedes the Veteran's memorial already in place, and is disrespectful. A suitable location would have been in front of the Human Services Complex in Montour Falls.

I just feel this exhibits a lack of common sense in the decision-making process of community development.

Alan Hurley
A concerned citizen of Schuyler County

WGHS grad was Gettysburg reenactor

To the Editor on July 17:

I'm sending this on behalf of my father, Abbott R. Morgan, who would like this published on The Odessa File. Christopher Morgan is the son of Abbott and Marjorie Morgan, longtime residents of Watkins Glen who now reside in Tarpon Springs, FL.

Jonathan P. Morgan

Christopher Morgan, a 1976 graduate of Watkins Glen High School, participated as a reenactor at the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, PA.

If you're curious about who and what a reenactor is and does: know that they are people from all walks of life with a passion for living history as it was. Authenticity is the keyword, right down to the thread used for their homemade socks. Chris is employed as the Director of Education and Living History Coordinator for the Fort Concho museum in San Angelo, Texas. Fort Concho is a post-Civil War army fort established during the Indian Wars and was active in campaigns up to its closing at the end of the 19th century. It has been rated as one of the best preserved army forts in the country.

Chris's duties call for him to give lectures to local schools; act as docent for visitors on tour; publish a monthly magazine about the various activities at the fort, and act as liaison to city officials and nearby Goodfellow Air Force Base. He has participated in a number of reenactor events over the years, including an annual Indian Pow-Pow in Wyoming; a black powder Civil War cannon demonstration at the Army's Artillery school at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and an "old army's" Camel Corps demonstration in Colorado.

The large audiences for the Gettysburg event witnessed 12,000-plus reenactors, North and South, facing each other in the battles of the "Wheatfield" and the finale of the ill-fated "Pickett's Charge." Chris was assigned to the 1st Arkansas Artillery, General Longstreet's Corps, as a section chief with the rank of 1st Lieutenant. He also had the pleasurable honor of piping his battalion in march formation to the line of battle. (Chris is a self-taught bagpiper much in demand in Texas.) For his outstanding effort in the promotion, set-up and performance of black powder artillery, he was awarded a medal by the Loyal Train chapter of the Field Artillery Association located at Fort Sill.

Abbott Morgan

Tea Party invites public to meeting

To the Editor on July 10:

The Odessa Tea Party would like to invite everyone to our next regular meeting on Wednesday, July 17 at 7:00 pm. We meet in the Community Room of the Odessa Municipal Building at 300 East Main Street in Odessa, NY.

This meeting our guest speaker will be Jeff Heller. He is President of the Steuben County Landowners Association. Jeff is a former U.S. History teacher and came to Steuben County to retire.

Please join us for some interesting perspectives on energy from the Steuben County Landowners Association.

Barbara Halpin
for the Odessa TEA Party

Thanks to all who helped with tourney

To the Editor on July 8:

I would like to start out by thanking Charlie Friends and his girlfriend, Amanda, and my sister Kristin Field for helping me in preparing, setting up for, and helping everything run smoothly for our 1st annual Schuyler County Adult Co-Ed League Charity Softball Tournament. I could not have done it alone. Without all of you it would not have been such a success!

Thank you to Kathy and Art at Havana Glen for helping us with everything as well. You two are a pleasure to have around every Sunday! I'd also like to thank Nikole from Tops & Bottoms in Odessa, Sonny Howard and the Soaring Eagles Golf Course and Kelly Spaulding for their generous donations that we were able to contribute to the raffles. Thank you to Pete Bruno and his children for all the help with cooking and raising money. You all did a fantastic job!

Our tournament this year was for Breast Cancer Awareness. We were able to raise over $800 dollars. THANK YOU to all who participated and to everyone who donated. I am blessed to be a part of such a wonderful league. I'm looking forward to our 2nd annual tournament already!! And a BIG congrats to the team BLUE for their victory in the final game to win it all! Great games, everyone!

Thank you all for making it a very special day!

Kelly Field

Thank you a million times

To the Editor on July 3:

As a public school teacher, I know all too well about the constant controversy surrounding education and our schools. The lack of funds, testing, loss of programs, and the list goes on. It seems to be rare when something positive is said about our schools. I know as a teacher how many countless hours of preparation goes into what we do, and much more that often goes unnoticed.

I’ve taught elementary school for 10 years, but this was the first year that I was not just a teacher at Watkins Glen Elementary School. I was also the parent of a kindergartner.

To preface, my son suffers from multiple, life threatening food allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and some fruits and vegetables. I was terrified of sending him to school. The last time he had an allergic reaction, he was on a ventilator and unable to breathe on his own for three hours. To see your child that close to death is the absolute worst feeling in the world. I fear most public outings, restaurants, birthday parties…basically anything that includes food that I haven’t personally prepared. A staple to most households, a peanut butter sandwich could kill my son.

For the full text of the letter, click here.

A new business opens in Watkins Glen

Editor's Note: We received the following about a new business in our area. As a fellow business, we love to see new ones adding to the fabric of our county. Good luck.

To the Editor on June 23:

I am contacting you on behalf of my family. Just recently, we have opened a new business in Watkins Glen, called F & J's Touch of Country. We were wondering if you could publish an article (that I have written myself) on The Odessa File for us to get the word out. It would really be appreciated! I have pictures attached to this email and the article is below. This means so much to us. Thank you!

Caitlin Connelly

For the complete article and photos, click here.

Memories, and a Father's Day acrostic

To the Editor on June 23:

During the whole month of June, I have been seeing/hearing from students I taught or had contact with during my 22-year teaching career at Odessa-Montour Central School. There were some from way back at the beginning, in the very early 1970s...some from my more recent past...many, many precious memories!

For the complete letter and an acrostic, click here.

Superintendent responds to WGFA

To the Editor on June 22:

In the interest of full disclosure and the fact that the Watkins Glen Faculty Association made public its displeasure with recent decisions made by the Board of Education, I feel compelled to share -- with the public -- Superintendent Tom Phillips' response to the WGFA letter. Please know that our Board of Education has always relied on data and facts in making our decisions.

Brian J. O'Donnell
Watkins Glen Board of Education

See the text of Phillips' letter here.
See the WGFA letter below.

WG teachers are shocked and angry

(The following letter, dated June 21, 2013, from the Watkins Glen Faculty Association to the Superintendent and School Board expresses "shock and anger" over the Board's approval earlier in the week of a new administrative position in the school district.)

Dear Watkins Glen Superintendent Thomas J. Phillips, Board of Education President Brian O'Donnell and Members of the Board of Education:

On behalf of the members of the Watkins Glen Faculty Association, I must inform you of our collective sense of shock and anger in response to the information delivered at yesterday's District Meeting. Many left the meeting feeling burdened with even more to digest, beyond the physical and psychological stress of the newly started building project and transition. Many also left the meeting questioning the vision of our District's leaders, who chose to invest in administrative oversight rather than the needs of our children and the community we serve.

For the full text of the WGFA letter, click here.

It's been wonderful working in Schuyler

To the Editor on June 19:

To the residents of Schuyler: I want to bid farewell to you all and inform you that I have left Catholic Charities.

I have enjoyed and I appreciate having had this wonderful opportunity to work within the county and meet some amazing people.

During these last eight years, you the Schuyler community have helped me excel at being a NOEP (Nutrition Outreach and Education Program). With many of you (my clients), I have shared a unique bond which I hope will continue in the years to come even though I shall not be with that agency.

I now look forward to a new door opening that brings forth new challenges and adds more diverse experience to my career.

I do wish all of you in the Schuyler community every success in your future endeavors.

Kelly Meier
Email: afatedcircle@yahoo.com

Parking expansion should be approved

To the Editor on June 15:

I would like to add my comments to the Dunkin' Donuts parking expansion.

Although I don't live near there, I do live in Watkins and I am happy to have Dunkin' Donuts in the village. Their parking is severely limited,especially with no parking allowed on Franklin Street, so I believe many people just pass them by.

I am thinking mainly of late-night truckers. There is nowhere they can stop for a cup of coffee or something to eat except for Dunkin' Donuts, but there is nowhere for them to park. It was different when Chef's diner was open 24 hours a day; there were always truckers stopping there.

I guess that I have two main concerns. One is that we can give the truckers a place to stop, have something to eat and rest awhile. That makes the highways a lot safer. They have no place for that now.

The other concern is that we do not lose Dunkin' Donuts because they don't get enough customers. We were lucky to get them to open in Watkins Glen, and I would like for them to stay. I would guess the tourists like it also.

A business needs parking available to them, and as long as we can provide it for Dunkin' Donuts I would ask the Planning Board to approve it for them.

Tom Augustine
206 N Decatur St., Apt 2
Watkins Glen

The day her school betrayed her

To the Editor on June 13:

As a parent of a student who was affected negatively by a poor decision made by the Watkins Glen School District Administration, I would like to express my thoughts and concerns.

After my daughter attended the Watkins Glen School District for 13 years, it went from fairly good to politically disgusting in one day! I understand someone made a mistake, but what is wrong with being accountable and to acknowledge your mistake? This is what we teach our children: to be accountable for their actions. It’s okay to make a mistake as long as you can be liable for it in the end.

For the complete letter, click here.

Let's stop the parking-area expansion

To the Editor on June 12:

The Dunkin’ Donuts store located on South Franklin Street recently submitted a proposal to the Village Planning Board to expand its current parking area. As a private homeowner, local voter, taxpayer, and father of two little girls I find this proposal to be deeply disconcerting. I am troubled by the prospect of the Dunkin' Donuts franchise tearing down one perfectly good residential property (if not two) to increase the size of its parking area, and the message it sends to the citizens of this town, the surrounding area, and the thousands of tourists who visit each year.

To see the entire letter, click here.

Thanks from Top Drawer 24 committee

To the Editor on June 12:

We would like to thank all of our Top Drawer 24 sponsors for their help in making our celebration a complete success for 2013. Without the help of such a wonderful and supportive community, our program would not exist. Some have been involved for many years and others are just joining in, but all joining together is what makes this event a great success.

We are proud to honor the two-dozen students chosen to represent the Top Drawer 24 for 2013:

Watkins Glen High School's Chelsea Kennard, Sarah Wickham, Josh Teeter, Jesse Teeter, Ryan Rondinaro, Mikaela Suddaby, Katrina Swarthout, Devon Shaw, Sarah Hazlitt, Matt Gill and Samantha Gill.

Odessa Montour High School's Brittany VanAmburg, Sydney Eberhardt, Lee Sidle, Morgan Shutter, Morgan Stermer, Dakota Simpson, Danielle MacDougall and Dana Roberts.

Trumansburg High's Cal Randle, Mitchell Swartwood and Tyler Sutherland.

Bradford High School's Hillary Bonning.

Spencer-Van Etten High School's Taylor Rider.

Our sponsors were as follows: E.C. Cooper, Lakewood Winery, Atwater Estate Vineyards, Seneca Lodge, Damiani Winery, Keuka Brewing, Simmons-Rockwell, Visions Credit Union, Watkins Glen Faculty Association, Watkins Glen Wrestling Club, National Football League, Watkins Glen Presbyterian Church, Watkins Glen PBA, BSN Sports and Glen Dairy Bar.

Craig Cheplick, chairman,
and the rest of the Top Drawer 24 Committee

'Misguided' program subject of talk

To the Editor on June 12:

The Odessa Tea Party group would like to invite everyone to our next regular meeting on Wednesday, June 19 at 7:00 pm. We meet in the Community Room of the Odessa Municipal Building at 300 East Main Street in Odessa, NY.

This meeting, our guest speakers will be Lisa Christiansen, Jodi Kohli and Lisa Johnson. Mss. Christiansen, Kohli and Johnson will be giving a presentation about the Common Core State Standards currently being implemented in New York State's public schools. The Common Core curriculum elevates soft skills like “global awareness,” “media literacy” and “cross-cultural flexibility” to an equal footing with academic knowledge. For example, a sample question taken from one Common Core worksheet asked:

"By cutting down a forest full of beautiful trees a logger makes $20.
(a) What do you think of this way of making money?
(b) How do you think the forest birds and squirrels feel?
(c) Draw a picture of the forest as you would like it to look."

In addition to its misguided social engineering and substitution of "fluff" for academic skills, the Common Core curriculum is an infringement on the rights of local parents and school boards to determine the quality of the curriculum taught in our schools. This program is being driven by the Federal government, using "Race To The Top" and economic stimulus funding to coerce states to adopt the Common Core State Standards in violation of multiple Federal statutes (20 USC Sec 7097a, 1232a and 3403b) regarding state and local control of education.

Mss. Christiansen, Kohli and Johnson are all mothers of children attending local schools in Horseheads and Corning/Painted Post. They are very active in local educational issues and have researched the Common Core curriculum thoroughly. They are presenting their findings to organizations throughout the area -- a presentation which is both engaging and highly informative. Please join us to learn how to recognize and confront this latest example of progressive indoctrination masquerading as “educational reform.”

Mark Rondinaro
for the Odessa TEA Party Group

Responding to the 'Silence' commentary

To the Editor on June 10:

Responding to your commentary on Board silence pertaining to the Watkins Glen Central School District's "Class Ranking" system, I do feel compelled to respond -- not to begin any dialogue about District policies but to serve as information people need to know. I know for a fact that the High School Principal, the Superintendent and the Board of Education are not happy with the current system utilized for Class Ranking and steps are underway to make some very positive changes in that system so that the scenario described by a grandparent at our most recent Board of Education meeting never happens again. I do apologize to any student and his/her family if they perceive any unfair treatment under the present system. Superintendent Tom Phillips, Principal Dave Warren and high school faculty are implementing a process of discussion and planning this week which will result in a better "student-friendly" policy beginning in September. Additionally, a number of other policies and practices are being reviewed.

As for responding at public Board of Education meetings, it is not a mandate that Boards of Education provide for "Visitors Comments" -- we do so out of longstanding practice and our desire to listen to questions/concerns/comments that we can work on for future improvement. We do solicit and appreciate those questions/concerns/comments and often do respond to those that have relatively simple and quick solutions. With those more complex issues we gather as much information as possible then respond at a later date with something more substantial. Often we have requested that the Superintendent respond back in writing to the concerned party. I believe at our most recent Board meeting I did thank the person for her comments and did indicate that we appreciated her concerns.

Please don't lose sight of the fact that we are parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles also, and we want what is best for ALL students.

Brian J. O'Donnell
Watkins Glen Central School
Board of Education

A great debate, followed by silence

To the Editor on June 8:

The Watkins Glen High School Model UN and Global Studies class carries class. I was blessed to be able to meet the group recently during the culmination of their semester project. After discussing which of three current-event topics to study in depth, the class, democratically, chose the Inergy project. The class held two marches on consecutive evenings down Main Street in Watkins Glen. I went in support of our up-and-coming generation. Prior to the march on the first evening, each student spoke as to why they were in favor of the Inergy project, or why they were not. They attended in total respect to each other. It was telling -- each felt at ease speaking his and her opinion.

On Wednesday, I was a part of the reporting crew for the Model UN and Global Studies debate of the Inergy project conducted in the Schuyler legislative chambers in front of the Legislature. It was a debate that followed to a T the science of debate. Quick statements out, quick retorts -- all statements well-researched. Courage they had; timid they were not -- no matter on which side they stood on the issue.

Post-debate, the class's teacher asked the Legislature if they'd like to make comments or had questions of the debate team. One legislator commented on the respect the students had for each other.

No other comments nor questions from any other legislator. The teacher asked again if the Legislature had comments or questions. A long, silent pause. The same legislator told the team thank you for presenting, and what a wonderful job they did. Then silence. It was over. A few of the legislators did go up and greet and talk with students briefly after. Several stayed on one side of the room and did not interact. Was it the cameras? The reporters? The students?

Surely manners, if not politics, dictate a thank you. Entirely odd, the lack of reception. To be fair, there was a meeting to be held in the chambers after -- but how much time does it take to walk up and pat a young person on the back? I felt sad for this team -- but sadder still for the Legislature, who appeared not able, not knowing, or not willing to express themselves to our up-and-coming Schuyler generation.

Susan Walker



The Pulse of the Neighbors

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