To visit the
Agriculture Page,
click here.


Sealing, Striping
Crack Filling, Paving,
Patching, Consulting.
Commercial, Residential

207 Speedway
Odessa, NY 14869

Duff Terry
Roxanne Terry

Phone: 607-594-3856
Cell: 607-331-3182

Link to Website:



A Watkins Glen graduate, Jennifer J Heath, has recently released her third romance novel, You Alone Calm! To find purchase information, click here.


Little Folks Childcare Program

--6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
--Enrolls children 8 weeks to 12 years.
--Odessa school district (approximately 2 blocks from high school)
--Reasonable rates (DSS subsidy accepted)
--Full or part day spaces.
--Licensed early childhood program.
--25 years experience.

Structured developmentally appropriate programming.

Mission statement: To provide a safe learning environment that promotes social, physical, intellectual, cultural, creative and emotional development.

(607) 857-7698.


Our Primary Pages


Wine & Tourism


Mecklenburg United
Methodist Church

6063 Turnpike Road
Mecklenburg, NY
Pastor Kate Merriman
Children's Sunday School
at 9 a.m.
Sunday Service 9:30 a.m.
All are welcome!

Come worship
and sing with us!

Thrift Shop open
Fridays and Saturdays,
May 25-September 29


Click here or on the ad above to reach the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development website


Now accepting applications
for enrollment:
ages 6wks - 12yrs

208 W. Broadway St., Montour Falls, NY 14865
Phone: 607-535-8908



Click on the ad below to go to the Schuyler County Transit schedule.


Click on the logo below to reach the Arc of Schuyler County website.


We also have a Business Card Page. Click here.



To go to Jim Guild's Famous Brands website, click on the drawing above or here.


We also have a Business Card Page. Click here. 





Curly's Family Restaurant, Watkins Glen

Sponsoring this People page:

Curly's Family Restaurant, located on Route 14 near the P&C Plaza in Watkins Glen. Phone: 535-4383.

Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Website!! To link to the Curly's Family Restaurant website, you can click on the photo at left or here.


Vote for the Glen, say O'Mara, Palmesano

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, June 16, 2021 -- State Senator Tom O’Mara (R,C,I-Big Flats) and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,C,I-Corning) are encouraging area residents to keep voting for Watkins Glen International (WGI) in USA Today’s 10 Best online Readers’ Choice competition to decide America’s “Best NASCAR Track.”

In a joint statement, O’Mara and Palmesano said, “Let’s keep running hard over the next several weeks and vote daily for Watkins Glen International as America’s ‘Best NASCAR Track.’  It’s an opportunity to keep the Finger Lakes region on the national map and to demonstrate regional pride in The Glen as a favorite destination for visitors from across the country, a cornerstone of our leading tourism industry, and a driving force for charity, community service, and economic development."

The area legislators stressed that anyone can vote once a day, every day, on every Internet-capable device they have until the contest closes on Monday, July 5, at noon.

This is the sixth consecutive year that WGI is in the running for the “Best NACAR Track” designation, which the track won in 2016, 2017, 2018, and last year.

The Glen is currently running in second in this year’s contest.  

The local legislators have long singled out The Glen for its unique contributions to American motorsports. WGI events annually generate over $200 million in economic activity across the region and account for more than 2,000 local jobs. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekend in August is one of New York’s largest sporting events and attracts fans from all 50 states, as well as 16 different countries.

To vote in the “Best NASCAR Track” competition, go to

Elks BBQ raises funds for Head Start

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, June 12, 2021 -- The Watkins Glen Elks Lodge No. 1546 raised $900 through a chicken barbecue benefit Sunday, June 6 at the Lodge to benefit the Schuyler Head Start Helmets for Kids program. The check was presented to Head Start representatives on Thursday, June 10..

Pictured at the presentation, above, were, back row from left: Elks House Committee member David Waite; Head Start CFO Michelle Bond; Head Start Executive Director Tina Winchell; Elks Exalted Ruler Chuck Fitch; and House Committee members Stewart "Foot" Field and Gordy Perry. In the foreground are Head Start Day Care children.

The Elks issued a special thanks to the Benefit Barbecue Committee, which included Stewart Field as chairman, along with Thomas "Boomer" Gossett, Beth Gossett, Steve Acquire, Lou DeBolt, Dan Paradiso, David Waite, Gordy Perry, Erick Thorpe, John Norman and Chuck Fitch.

The Committee will hold another chicken barbecue on July 18 to benefit My Place: A Play and Learning Center. Pre-sale tickets are available at the Elks Lodge.

Rotary is accepting grant applications

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, June 7, 2021 -- The Watkins-Montour Rotary Club is now accepting requests for community grants for projects to promote the quality of life in Schuyler County.

Grants will range generally from $100 to $1,000. Written requests must be postmarked by July 1 to Watkins-Montour Rotary Club, Donations Committee, P.O. Box 384, Watkins Glen, N.Y. 14891.

Requests must be submitted on the organization’s letterhead and limited to two pages. A concise statement must describe the specific project or need and the amount requested. A description of efforts that have been made or will be made to obtain funds from other sources for the specific project or need should also be included.

The legal name of the organization, a description of its mission, the names of the organization's officers and the name, mailing address, phone number and e-mail address of a contact person are also required.

For more information, contact Tony Fraboni, Community Grants Committee chairman, at

Contest seeks your healthy grilled recipes

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, June 5, 2021 -- Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Schuyler is having a recipe contest for amateur and professional chefs to showcase the creative ways people are eating healthy in Schuyler County.

Organizers are looking for recipes that meet the Choose HEALth gold standards, use local ingredients and sizzle taste buds from the grill. Prizes will be awarded to 1st, 2nd and 3rd place recipes. To learn about the Choose HEALth gold standards and nutritional requirements, visit the Gold Standards section of the HEAL Schuyler website:

To enter, submit your recipes to with Subject: HEAL Recipe Contest Entry. Recipes should be sent in by August 5, 2021. Winners will be announced in the Fall HEAL Newsletter .

Healthy Eating, Active Living (HEAL) Schuyler is made up of agencies, businesses, and concerned community members within Schuyler County who work together to help reduce the rate of obesity among people within the county. HEAL Schuyler supports environmental changes that promote healthier eating and active lives for the people of Schuyler County.

Schuyler Health Foundation officers named

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, June 2, 2021 -- The Schuyler Health Foundation recently announced its new Slate of Officers for the 2021-2022 year.

The Foundation welcomes Erin Thaete as Chairperson, Tom Phillips as Vice-Chairperson, and Jerry Mickelson as Treasurer / Secretary.

These Executive Officers are joined by new members of the Board of Directors, Aimee Churchill and Chuck Franzese.  Current and renewing Board members include:  Brenda Warren-Fitch, Jeff Dill, Ken Wilson, Marsha McElligott, Nanette Hanley, Philly DeSarno, and Chris Stamp.

“I am so proud of the work the Schuyler Health Foundation Board of Directors is doing for healthcare of our community. I am honored to work with this dedicated Board of Directors team to help further the Schuyler Health Foundation’s mission. We continue to be so grateful for the support received from our community and this dedication allows us to continue to do our part to elevate the care here at Schuyler Hospital and Seneca View Skilled Nursing Facility,” said Erin Thaete, Chairperson.

The Schuyler Health Foundation’s goal is to create and maintain a steady, dependable stream of funds to accomplish the Hospital’s mission of delivering the highest quality health care in partnership with the community.

Members of the 1981 Squires Drum and Bugle Corps gather in this photograph provided by Jud Spena, a longtime Squires musician and instructor. (Photo provided)

Squires Drum and Bugle Corps alumni stories sought for Schuyler Historical Society project

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, May 28, 2021 -- The history of the Squires Drum and Bugle Corps, which earned national acclaim and prestige during its 17 years, is the focus of a Schuyler County Historical Society special project launching in June.

Participation by Squires alumni will be the cornerstone of the project, according to the Historical Society. The project is called “Echoes in the Valley,” borrowed from the title of the book “Echoes in the Valley, Watkins Glen’s Squires, Pages, Legion Cadets and the Watkins Montour Seneca Chiefs, a Half Century of Drum and Bugle Corps Activity in Schuyler County, New York” by Jud Spena.

“Echoes in the Valley” will include an exhibit at the Brick Tavern Museum in Montour Falls and several online components, such as a photo slide show and oral histories.

“Squires members’ stories are vital to the project,” Jean Gardner, Historical Society Board of Trustees member, said. “We’re urging Squires alumni to share their favorite memories from that important time of their lives.

An online form is now available for Squires members to use. The form can be found at Forms should be submitted by June 30. The forms also are available at the Brick Tavern Museum at 108 N. Catharine St./Route 14, Montour Falls.

Memorabilia on loan from Squires members will be displayed in the museum exhibit that Gardner will design and which is slated to open Sept. 1. The exhibit also will give an overview of the county’s many bands going back to the late 1800s and early 1900s that preceded the Squires, entertaining Schuyler residents and marching in parades in the region.

The Squires was formed in Watkins Glen in 1964. The teenage musicians and color guards brought home awards from across the state and nation, for a time consistently scoring in the top 10 of corps in the United States.

The Squires disbanded in 1982, mostly a victim of its own success, according to Corps members and their adult leaders.

“Echoes in the Valley” is made possible by the Historical Society’s selection to participate in a Museum Association of New York program designed to help museums share their collections and their communities’ stories digitally. The Historical Society was one of 98 New York State museum organizations chosen for the federally funded “Building Capacity, Creating Sustainability, Growing Accessibility” program.

For more information about the “Echoes in the Valley” project and how to participate, call the Historical Society at (607) 535-9741 or email

The Schuyler County Historical Society celebrates and honors the history of the county at the Brick Tavern Museum, Wickham Rural Life Center and Lee School. Hours at the Brick Tavern Museum and Wickham Rural Life Center are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursday 2-8 p.m. Admission is free. The Historical Society is supported in part by a TAP grant administered by the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce.

You can make your own 'Havana Pottery'

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, May 21, 2021 -- In conjunction with its current special exhibit “The Stoneware of Havana,” the Schuyler County Historical Society is offering a pottery class for beginners.

The class will be appropriate for children and adults. Participation is limited to 10 people.

Marty Evans, retired art teacher and vice president of the Historical Society’s Board of Trustees, will teach participants to make a pot that evokes the functional stoneware crocks produced in the 1880s in today’s Montour Falls, then called Havana. The special exhibit includes several pieces of stoneware. The exhibit is on display through Aug. 14.

The class sessions will be on June 5 and June 12, both from 1-2 p.m., at the Brick Tavern Museum, 108 N. Catharine St./Route 14, Montour Falls. The pot will be created in the first session and decorated in the second. The $5 per person cost is for both sessions.

Anyone interested in the class should contact the Historical Society soon due to the class size limit. Children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

To register, contact the Schuyler County Historical Society at (607) 535-9741 or email

Schuyler County Sheriff Bill Yessman, left, and Undersheriff Breck Spaulding flank the monuments after Friday's ceremony.

Remembering those who gave their lives

WATKINS GLEN, May 15, 2021 -- A Memorial and Dedication Service honorng police and First Responders who have given their lives in the line of duty was held Friday morning at a monument plaza outside the Schuyler County Sheriff's Office on 10th Street.

The service honored police, firefighters and other emergency personnel who have died over the years while serving in Chemung, Tompkins, Yates, Seneca and Schuyler counties. Flowers were placed in honor of each such honoree at the base of the monuments -- one of which honors Firefighters, EMS, EMO and 911 personnel who have died in the line of duty; one of which honors Schuyler County Sheriff's Office personnel who have similarly fallen; and one of which honors dogs who have died in service of the Sheriff's K-9 Unit. The monuments were erected last year.

Speakers at Friday's service included Undersheriff Breck Spaulding, who welcomed those in attendance. They were seated in rows of chairs or standing on a nearby sidewalk for the outdoor ceremony, held under a sunny sky.

After the National Anthem, sung by Kim Laursen, and an Invocation from Rev. Michael J. Kelly, speeches were presented by Sheriff Bill Yessman, Emergency Management Director Bill Kennedy, and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano.

Each paid tribute to law enforcement, firefighting and other emergency services personnel for their selfless contributions to the safety of their communities.

"In my eyes, you are all heroes," Yessman said of such public servants.

Said Palmesano: "Never have we seen a more dangerous time to serve in Law Enforcement." But, he added, "Your community knows you have its back. We want you to know the community has your back, too."

"As for heroes," he said, "you have to look no further than the monuments" standing in the plaza behind him. The names of the fallen on those monuments, he added, "are our heroes, role models for our kids and grandkids to look up to."

And scanning those uniformed officers in attendance, he said: "You all represent the best hope for our future."

And in closing remarks, Rev. Kelly, the Schuyler County Sheriff's Office chaplain, said the names on the monuments "ensure they will never be forgottten."

Photos in text:

Assemblyman Phil Palmesano speaking at the ceremony.
Bottom: Flags representing the Sheriff's Department, the United States, and emergency services were flown at half-staff during the ceremony.

Law enforcement personnel march into the site of the ceremony on 10th Street.

Breakfast will benefit Historical Society

Special to The Odessa File

BURDETT, April 30, 2021 -- The Schuyler County Historical Society will benefit from a Mother’s Day Breakfast on Sunday, May 9, served by the Burdett Fire Department in the community room of its station at 4124 Lake St./Route 79, Burdett, or as take-outs.

Fire department officials have announced that the proceeds from the all-you-can-eat breakfast will be shared between the department and the Historical Society.

The menu will include pancakes, sausage, eggs, bacon, french toast, home fries and beverages. Serving hours are 7-11 a.m. The prices are $9 for adults and $5 for children 6 to 10 years old. Children under 5 are free.

For more information, contact the Schuyler County Historical Society at (607) 535- 9741.

Learn to be a boater with confidence

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, April 25, 2021 -- Confidence in boating skills is important, and a course is now being offered that will teach those skills to new boaters.

The Finger Lakes Chapter of America’s Boating Club, a non-profit organization based in Watkins Glen, is offering its boat handling class starting in May. The six-session course is ideal for newer recreational boaters who want to gain more knowledge, skills and confidence for safe boating in a variety of situations.

Safe boating means more fun on the water, organizers said.

Among the course topics are docking, anchoring, line handling and preparation for common problems.

Classes will be held Thursday evenings, beginning May 13, from 7-9 p.m. at the Schuyler County Human Services Complex, 323 Owego St., Montour Falls. Anyone unable to attend in person will be able to join online.

An optional review session on the water will be offered on Saturday, June 19.

Each of the course’s six topics also will be available as a free-standing seminar.

The cost of the full course is $70 for ABC-FLX members and $90 for the general public. Participants will receive a downloadable course book and the downloadable U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Rules and Regulations handbook. A print version of the student book is an additional $20. If taken individually, each seminar is $20.

For more information or to register, send an email to

Learn more about the Finger Lakes Chapter of America’s Boating Club, formerly known as the Seneca Sail and Power Squadron, at or on Facebook at America’s Boating Club - Finger Lakes Chapter.

Scholarships available for summer camp

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, April 24, 2021 -- Hidden Valley 4-H Camp in Watkins Glen has many more scholarships – or “camperships” – available to campers this year, thanks to an access grant from the National 4-H Council.

“We want all children to have the opportunity to attend camp. Unfortunately, access is often limited to families who can pay tuition. Equity is important to us, and this grant greatly expanded the funds available for camperships,” said Mel Schroeder, Youth and Family Issue Leader at CCE Schuyler.

“If families are concerned about the cost of summer camp, they should definitely apply for a campership,” said Camp Director Bruce Condie.

Hidden Valley has six week-long sessions beginning July 4. Campers ages 6-16 can attend as day campers or sign up for overnight camp.

“We have a wide array of traditional camp activities, from arts and crafts to canoeing,” said Condie. “Kids need the chance to be outdoors, to be challenged, and to make new friends. They may even want to sign up for one of our special theme weeks, such as rocketry or culinary arts.”

Hidden Valley has been in operation for 75 years and is implementing safety measures this summer to limit the spread of COVID. Experienced staff and an idyllic setting next to Watkins Glen State Park ensure that campers will have ample opportunity to explore their talents and discover the natural world.

The campership application is available on the Hidden Valley website. Camperships are reviewed by CCE's Program Advisory Committee and awarded based on meeting eligibility requirements around access and equity.

Families interested in signing up for Hidden Valley 4-H Camp can register online at or by phoning 607-535-6812.

Girl Scouts join in as St. James' raises funds to help St. Vincent volcano victims

The following account is from Kate LaMoreaux, an annual visitor to Bequia, a seven-square-mile island that is part of Saint Vincent and the Grenadine Islands in the Caribbean West Indies.

By Kate LaMoreaux
April 19, 2021

Scenes from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies showcase beautiful St. Vincent, lush tropical foliage contrasting with clear aqua seas; coral; lime, pink and blue houses dotting hillsides, and a towering volcano.

Current images of St. Vincent show an island buried in ash and pyroclastic rock as a result of the eruption of that volcano, La Soufriere, dormant since 1979.
After many explosive eruptions in the last two weeks, St. Vincent and many of the surrounding islands are covered in ash. Ash-covered trees and bushes have broken under the weight, as have roofs, eave troughs, and vegetable crops. There is little food or water available for livestock used to foraging on the vegetation of the lush hills of the island.

Drinking water, normally collected from roof tops and stored in cisterns, is in short supply.  Food is scarce. Several cruise ships, empty due to COVID, have arrived to transport refugees to other Caribbean islands for temporary shelter. Fortunately, many hotels and guest houses are also empty due to travel restrictions and are willing to help their brothers and sisters. 

However, cruise ship and hotel operators want their guests to be vaccinated against COVID.  Many Vincentians, treated by the country’s few doctors only in emergency situations, are suspicious of the vaccines and are reluctant to be vaccinated.
A small neighboring Caribbean island, Bequia, is 9 miles south of the capital island of St. Vincent, home of the now-active volcano La Soufriere. St. James’ Episcopal Church has sponsored a medical mission to Bequia in memory of the late Dr. Blanche Borzell since 2019. In an attempt to help the estimated 7,000 Vincentians now displaced from their homes, the parish has gathered monetary donations since the first eruption on April 9.

As the final numbers were tallied Saturday, a message came from a local Scout leader: “Is it too late to donate?” Scout Troop 41120, which meets at St. James’, wanted to donate an astounding amount: $500. The girls had voted to donate $50 per scout! Leaders Kristen Bacon and Nicole Smith made the donation happen.

Several non-profits have joined the government of St. Vincent in meeting the needs of the those 7,000 refugees. One such organization is Rise Up Bequia, a non-profit social organization founded in 2013 by Bequia locals. The organization is accepting donations of non-perishable food items and cash through local relief efforts that will give shelters more means to provide for those affected and displaced in the coming weeks and months.

St. James’ will wire $2,500 to the organization this week, due to the generosity of parishioners, community members, friends far and near and, of course, those Girl Scouts.

When someone asks “What’s the matter with kids these days?” the reply should be “Absolutely nothing!”

Photo in text: Girls Scouts from Troop 41120, shown at Lafayette Park in Watkins Glen. Their signs read "Stay safe Bequia." (Photo provided)

Community gardens under way at churches

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, April 16, 2021 -- Women Helping Women of the International Women’s Forum has begun community gardens at St. John’s Episcopal Church Campus in Catharine and St. James’ Episcopal of Watkins Glen at 112 Sixth St.

The gardens are a project envisioning fresh produce for the community in need. Project organizer Denise Switzer said, “We have appreciated the work and funds from the community to get this started. We always welcome more participation to help us grow.”

Reverend Father Abidhananthar John (Father Abi), priest in charge of St. John’s Episcopal of Catharine and St. James’ Episcopal of Watkins Glen, added, “I am amazed to see such great potential in our area churches and the hard work the Women Helping Women team has done lifting such a great project off the ground. God’s hand is certainly on the plow here. I am privileged to travel with my church family and the community in the process of building God’s reign.”

The Women Helping Women team realized a need, and the result was raised beds for ease of growing the vegetables. Jeremy Bergen and the Glenview Dairy graciously distributed the enriched soil.

If you would like more information, contact Denise Switzer, or 607-329-3067, or Father Abi, or 585-747-5515.  

Photo in text: Jeremy Bergen with one of the garden beds. (Photo provided)

Schuyler County's Farm-to-Table
Chef Competition announces winners

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, April 7, 2021 -- From March 22 to April 4, some of the region’s top chefs competed to make the most delicious and memorable dishes using farm goods produced in Schuyler County, in the first-ever Harvest Schuyler Farm-to-Table Chef Competition.

Votes from the public helped determine the outcome and which chefs won the prizes. The winners were:

-- Most creative dish: New Zealand Style Beef and Havarti Pies; chef Elin Dowd of Idlwilde Inn.

-- The dish voters would most like to try: Grass Fed Black Angus Beef & Veggie Potpie topped with Garlic Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits; chef Samira Baida of Ryan William Vineyard.

-- Best presentation: Upside Down Hamburger Pie with Root Vegetable Gravy; chef Hilary Niver-Johnson of Finger Lakes Wine Flour.

Also competing were chef Lisa Shrout of Hidden Valley 4-H Camp (Ying Yang Meatballs) and chef Nick Thayer of Nickel’s Pit BBQ (Beef and Verjooz Ricotta Ravioli and Maple Apple Dumplings).

The Harvest Schuyler Farm-to-Table Chef Competition was held virtually, with the chefs documenting their progress on the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schuyler County Facebook page and website ( Look for the “Harvest Schuyler Farm-to-Table Chef Competition” event.

Each chef was given a box of locally produced items from which they created a dish. The items included meat, dairy, vegetables, fruit, something sweet (maple, honey or preserves) and a liquid fruit-based condiment (such as wine, juice, or shrub). Ten local farms donated products for the competition.

One of the farms that donated, after seeing the entries, said, “I’m eager to try them all!”

The mission of Harvest Schuyler -- a cooperative effort among CCE Schuyler, the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce and the Schuyler County Farm Bureau -- is to connect chefs, farmers, producers and consumers in Schuyler County.

Photo in text: Art provided by the Chef Competition.

Schuyler Habitat is building a house in the Town of Hector, and could use some help

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, March 26, 2021 -- Schuyler County Habitat for Humanity is building its third house in Schuyler County and it needs your help.

Habitat President Bob Groll said, "It is not money that we need, it is the willing hands of volunteers." He explained that it is not necessary to have a particular skill set to volunteer -- just an eagerness to give something back to the community. But, if you "have rough and/or finish carpentry skills," he said, that would be especially welcome.

The current build is near the intersection of County Roads 4 and 2 in the Town of Hector.

The interior flooring and room framing is complete. The electrical and plumbing installation is well underway. Basement preparation, window installation, drywall, trim, room painting, bathroom fixtures, a rear deck, front door entryway, and kitchen installation all remain to be done.

Individuals can volunteer, and volunteers from local organizations (businesses, fraternal organizations, service clubs) are welcome to help as a group project. There are plenty of specific tasks that can be done by individuals and/or a group of volunteers. Habitat provides all the raw materials. You can use Habitat tools or bring your own.

The partner family who will own the home is a mother with three children. She is an integral part of the corps of volunteers who have worked throughout the fall and winter while observing COVID precautions.

To volunteer, contact Bob Groll, Photos of the build can be seen on the website Donations for the build may be sent to Schuyler County Habitat for Humanity, Post Office Box 45, Watkins Glen, NY 14891.

Photo in text: From left, Marion Nicastro, James Gallagher, Bob Groll. (Photo by Michael Hartney)

Farm-to-Table Chef Competition under way

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, March 24, 2021 -- From March 22 to April 4, some of the region’s top chefs are competing to make the most delicious and memorable dishes using farm goods produced in Schuyler County.

The first-ever Harvest Schuyler Farm-to-Table Chef Competition is being held virtually, with the chefs documenting their progress on the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schuyler County Facebook page and website ( Look for the “Harvest Schuyler Farm-to-Table Chef Competition” event.

Each chef has been given a box of locally produced items, and has had to create a dish using all of them. The items include meat, dairy, vegetables, fruit, something sweet (maple, honey or preserves) and a liquid fruit-based condiment (such as wine, juice, or shrub).

Agriculture educator Roger Ort noted, “We wanted to draw attention to the great variety and quality of farm products in Schuyler County. I think when people see what the chefs create, they’ll learn new ways to use local ingredients, and perhaps also be inspired to try other dishes from the restaurants where the chefs work.”

Your votes will help determine the outcome and which chefs win the prizes: most creative, dish voters would most like to try, and best presentation. You may learn some new techniques to try, and you may discover a new favorite ingredient from a local producer.

Chefs competing in this event include: Elin Dowd from Idlwilde Inn; Hilary Niver-Johnson, Finger Lakes Wine Flour; Lisa Shrout from Hidden Valley 4-H camp; Nicholas Thayer, Nickel’s Pit BBQ; and Samira Baida from Ryan William Vineyard.

The mission of Harvest Schuyler -- a cooperative effort among CCE Schuyler, the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce and the Schuyler County Farm Bureau -- is to connect chefs, farmers, producers and consumers in Schuyler County.

Webpage: Harvest Schuyler Farm to Table Chef Competition

Facebook: Harvest Schuyler Farm to Table Chef Competition

For any questions about the competition, contact Roger Ort at or call 607-535-7161.

Seminar: Learn all about trailering a boat

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, March 19, 2021 -- Warmer weather sends boaters’ thoughts right to the water with anticipation for the first launch of the season. But getting to the launch site can be challenging even for experienced boat owners.

An online seminar on how to trailer a boat will be offered on Monday, April 12, by the Finger Lakes Chapter of America’s Boating Club. The session will be especially helpful for first-time boaters.

The two-hour seminar will be presented online from 7-9 p.m. using the FreeConferenceCall platform. Participation is limited to five people.

John Flick of the Finger Lakes Chapter will discuss how to select tow vehicles, hitches and trailers; how to safely and securely trailer a boat, launch it and retrieve it; and how to operate and maintain trailering equipment. The seminar includes video segments provided by the U.S. Coast Guard.

If participants are interested in a group, hands-on practice session with an instructor, one will be scheduled.

The cost of the seminar is $30. The fee includes a student guide. The book “Trailering Your Boat,” a U.S. Power Squadron guide, is also available for an additional $15.

To register, email Details will follow by email.

For more information about the Finger Lakes Chapter of America’s Boating Club, formerly known as the Seneca Sail and Power Squadron, go to the website or Facebook at America’s Boating Club-Finger Lakes Chapter.

America’s Boating Club is the nation’s largest non-profit boating organization, with nearly 30,000 members in more than 350 clubs. The local chapter boasts members from across the Finger Lakes Region who enjoy their time on the water in vessels ranging from kayaks to power boats to sailboats. Boat ownership is not a membership requirement.

Limited visitation approved at Seneca View

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, March 16, 2021 -- Schuyler Hospital announced Tuesday that it has resumed visitation -- on a limited basis -- to Seneca View Skilled Nursing Facility following a nearly year-long shutdown aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19.  

New York State health officials recently announced the new rules for restricted visitation to facilities that have been without COVID-19 for more than 14 days. In addition, there must be a low prevalence of COVID-19 in the region.

Seneca View began allowing visitation on March 8th under the new state policy. Visitation must be limited and documented; visitors must be screened for COVID-19 and properly wear medical grade masks, which can be provided if needed. Visitation must be monitored and socially distanced. Seneca View staff is placing calls to resident families to arrange visitation appointments. 

“We are pleased that we are able to allow limited visitation to our Seneca View residents again,” said Rebecca Gould (pictured), President of Schuyler Hospital. “It has been very difficult for them to endure this shutdown due to COVID-19 without seeing family and loved ones. We hope this will bring comfort and happiness to them and their families.”  

Residents in the facility will be allowed two guests at a time, and the visitors must undergo screening and temperature checks, properly wear face coverings and maintain social distancing during the visit. All visitors must be 18 years of age or older or accompanied by a responsible adult.  

“I would like to offer an extra special ‘Thank You’ to our Seneca View staff and nursing team for always going above and beyond, making every effort to help make our residents feel less lonely for their families,” adds Gould. “They have been very creative in their efforts to cheer everyone up and to keep the atmosphere as positive as possible.”  

About Schuyler Hospital  

Schuyler Hospital, part of Cayuga Health, is a 25-bed critical access hospital with a 120-bed skilled nursing facility -- Seneca View -- attached. Schuyler Hospital’s main campus -- on 50 acres overlooking Seneca Lake -- is located in Montour Falls. For over 100 years, Schuyler Hospital has been the primary healthcare provider in and around Schuyler County, evolving over the years into a network of providers, programs, and services that reaches throughout Schuyler County and into neighboring counties to meet the healthcare needs of a population of over 32,000 residents.

About Cayuga Health  

Cayuga Health (CH) has two hospitals, Cayuga Medical Center and Schuyler Hospital, as well as a multi-specialty group, Cayuga Medical Associates. Combined employment, including affiliated organizations, is over 2,200 employees. CH is clinically linked to Mayo Medical Laboratories, Rochester Regional Health for cardiac services, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center for cancer services, and the University of Rochester for neurosciences. Visit for more information. 

Photo in text: Schuyler Hospital President Rebecca Gould.

CCE welcomes new Executive Director

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Feb. 26, 2021 -- Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schuyler County has welcomed a new Executive Director, Nathan Scott.

“It’s an honor to have the opportunity to lead an organization as comprehensive in its programming and as effective in its delivery as CCE Schuyler,” said Scott, who succeeds the retired Phil Cherry and began his role in late Janaury. “I am impressed by the ways that CCE is building a stronger and more resilient community for the residents of Schuyler, from youth engagement to family health to agricultural production and marketing."

Scott most recently served as Executive Director of the Thrive Education Center. Located outside Ithaca, Thrive is a community-based education program promoting sustainability and community resilience. He brings 18 years of experience leading non-profits, with particular skills in strategic planning, collaboration, program development, and fiscal management.

“I hope to build upon the great work already being accomplished by the talented CCE Schuyler staff, and to add new projects and capabilities that will bring more value to the people of the county,” added Scott.  “My goal is to help all residents of Schuyler thrive.

“I look forward to meeting and getting to know members of the community. I think CCE Schuyler can be a leader in helping Schuyler County meet the challenges of today and the future, from supporting economic development to addressing the impacts of climate change."

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schuyler County (CCE Schuyler) enables people to improve their lives and communities through partnerships that put experience and research knowledge to work. Extension staff and trained volunteers connect people with the information they need on topics such as commercial and consumer agriculture, nutrition and health, youth and families, energy conservation, and sustainable natural resources, by delivering education programs, conducting applied research, and encouraging community and university collaborations.

CCE Schuyler, which also operates Hidden Valley 4-H Camp, is a subordinate governmental body established under New York County Law 224 over 100 years ago.

Photo in text: Nathan Scott (Photo provided)

Spaulding, if he's elected Sheriff, will appoint Maloney as his Undersheriff

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Feb. 22, 2021 -- Breck Spaulding, candidate for Schuyler County Sheriff, Monday announced the selection of Lieutenant Matthew Maloney as his choice for Undersheriff if Spaulding is elected Sheriff.

Spaulding is in a Republican primary race with Kevin Rumsey, a Schuyler County Sheriff's Investigator. The primary election is in June, with the general election in November. Longtime Sheriff William Yessman is retiring at the end of the year.

In making the Maloney announcement, Spaulding said: “Sheriff Yessman's well deserved retirement brings with it the loss of over 36 years of experience and institutional knowledge.  To ensure a seamless transition and the maintenance of public safety standards that our community has come to expect, it is critical that not only the next Sheriff, but Undersheriff as well, have such experience. Matt makes a perfect addition to the team!”

Spaulding, who is in his 27th year with the Schuyler County Sheriff’s Office, said he was looking for someone who could bring not only additional experience, but a proven track record of dedication to law enforcement and to Schuyler County. He said Maloney "best represents the ability to meet the administrative and operational needs of the office. I feel strongly that this announcement should be made as early as possible to provide the voters of Schuyler County a full accounting of the administration of this office, should I become the next Sheriff.”

Lieutenant Maloney, like Spaulding, was born and raised in Schuyler County. He has been employed with the Sheriff’s Office for over 22 years, has held several positions, including Deputy Sheriff, Deputy Sheriff K-9, Field Training Officer, Sergeant, K-9 Unit Supervisor and Department Safety Officer. In 2005, he was promoted to Investigator and again promoted in 2017 to Lieutenant of the Criminal Investigation Division. He has, said Spaulding, overseen the successful investigation of "numerous major crimes and is frequently called upon to testify as an expert witness."

Maloney has represented the Schuyler County Sheriff’s Office as a member of several committees, including the Schuyler County Youth Board, Schuyler County Domestic Violence Committee, Child Abuse Response Team, Schuyler County Opioid Task Force, Schuyler County Police Reform Committee, as well as completing Leadership Schuyler.

Outside of the Sheriff’s Office, Maloney is an active member of the community. He has been a member of the Tyrone Volunteer Fire Department for over 30 years, serving as Chief of the Department for two terms, and currently holds the position of 1st Assistant Chief. He also serves as a Deputy Fire Coordinator and Intelligence Liaison Officer for the Schuyler County Emergency Management Office, is a member of the GST BOCES Board of Education, and is an Assistant Den Leader for Cub Scout Pack 25.
When not at work or volunteering in his community, he enjoys spending time with his wife and two children.

Says Maloney, son of retired Sheriff Michael Maloney: “I grew up in a Sheriff’s home. I have witnessed first-hand the hard work and dedication that it takes to be Sheriff and I have seen those same qualities in Breck Spaulding. I am ready and excited for the opportunity to become the next Undersheriff of Schuyler County and I am humbled and appreciative to Breck for believing in me and recognizing my dedication to law enforcement and to the Schuyler County community.”

Photos in text: Matthew Maloney (top) and Breck Spaulding

Friends of island hospital presented with $1,000 check in memory of Dr. Borzell

Special to The Odessa File

BEQUIA, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Jan. 28, 2021 -- Kate LaMoreaux, Senior Warden of St. James’ Episcopal Church in Watkins Glen, presented $1,000 Wednesday from the church to the Friends of Bequia Hospital to continue to honor the memory of Dr. Blanche A. Borzell, a long-time Watkins Glen physician who died in 2019.

Dr. Borzell, the first female Family Practitioner in Schuyler County, grew up in Watkins Glen, graduating from Cornell University and SUNY Upstate Medical University.

"She had an insatiable desire to expand her medical skill and knowledge," said LaMoreaux. "She enjoyed the challenge of research to treat diseases that were new to her. In addition, she served as Schuyler County Coroner for over 30 years, a job which presented her the challenge of piecing together the cause of death."

Bequia, a seven-square-mile island that is part of Saint Vincent and the Grenadine Islands in the Caribbean West Indies, is populated by approximately 5,000 people. A small island hospital treats the usual medical emergencies with one physician, Cuban-trained Dr. Lupo, and a nursing staff of 16 headed by Sister Simmons. Several grants, including those from the World Health Organizaton and the government of Taiwan, have supported the staff’s challenges in dealing with Covid-19 on the small island.

LaMoreaux explains: "St. James’ started this mission in 2019, shortly after Dr. Borzell’s death. I had just returned home from Bequia -- where I have vacationed for the past 13 years -- and realized that all the medical supplies in Dr. Borzell‘s office would be thrown away. I asked the family to donate them and they readily agreed.

"The supplies donated from Dr. Borzell’s office, and some donated by Schuyler Hospital, were packed in barrels in September 2019 and shipped to Bequia. St James’ established a Medical Mission in memory of Dr. Borzell, held concerts to raise money and accepted donations to pay for the barrels and the shipping. The barrels arrived in Bequia in January 2020 along with the EKG machine from Dr. Borzell’s office, which we carried to Bequia.

"Sister Simmons told me Tuesday that they have used that! We did receive a grant from the Diocese Of Rochester for the mission in both 2019 and 2020. The church raised funds to match that grant. Last year we donated $500 in addition to the barrels. This year we donated $1,000 because Covid made it impossible to ship supplies."

As an annual visitor to Bequia -- "We have rented the same small house for 11 years now. The views are magnificent" -- LaMoreaux said, "I knew the need was great here, since it is very difficult to get medical supplies and medicine. It has improved, but it is still not a place to be seriously ill!

"According to John Barnard (president of the Friends of Bequia Hospital), there have only been three Covid cases on this island, although there are more than 600 cases in the country, primarily in neighboring St. Vincent. People here are quite frightened, and rightfully so. When you are on a small island with a four-room hospital and only one doctor, a pandemic is NOT a good idea."

LaMoreaux, who is planning to stay on Bequia until late February, said that each person entering Saint Vincent and the Grenadines must arrive with a negative Covid-19 PCR Test. Guests and returning nationals must quarantine for 14 days in a government-approved facility and test negative again before leaving quarantine. In addition, the hospital provides tests to those who are leaving the country to fly to the U.S., Great Britain, and other countries that require incoming travelers to hold a negative test. In addition, the staff has treated the three known cases of Covid-19 on the island. Sister Simmons describes these extra tasks as “quite a burden.”

Friends of Bequia Hospital was established with approval from the Vincentian government and the Ministry of Health. Its president, John Barnard, founded the group when his housekeeper returned from the hospital with her sick child, disheartened by the inability of the staff to provide even an aspirin for the child. Now the group imports pharmaceuticals quarterly and contributes to the hospital’s other needs.

Said LaMoreaux: Barnard recently "authorized the purchase of computer paper and ink to print the required Covid test results." Said Barnard: “Sometimes we paint or mow the grass. We do whatever they need ...”

Photos in text:

Top: The check presentation. From left: John Barnard, president of the Friends of Bequia Hospital; Kate LaMoreaux of St. James' Episcopal Church of Watkins Glen; and Sister Simmons, head nurse at the Bequia Hospital.

Bottom: A beach on Bequia. (Photos provided)

Mass Vaccination Clinic opens in Ithaca

5,132 Vaccines Have Been Distributed During Phase 1A and 1B  

Special to The Odessa File

ITHACA, Jan. 14, 2021 -- Cayuga Health (CH) officials announced Wednesday that they have been working closely with the Tompkins County Health Department to open a Covid-19 mass vaccination clinic.

The 40,000-square-foot clinic is located in the former Sears department store at The Shops at Ithaca Mall. It has been opened for Phase 1 vaccination dispensing and in preparation for the progression of the vaccination distribution. So far, Cayuga Health has administered 5,132 vaccines, at approximately 650-800 per/day, as part of the Phase 1A and now 1B. With enough vaccines, the site is capable of administering 2,000 doses daily.

“Our mission is to dispense 100% of the allocated vaccine as it is received, and we have done this continuously since accepting our first shipment,” said Dr. Martin Stallone, President and CEO of Cayuga Health. “It is our understanding that the more efficient that we are, the greater the allocation can become in the future. As additional groups are eligible for vaccination -- we will reach them quickly.”

During a teleconference last week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the highest and lowest performing hospitals in the state as it pertains to vaccine distribution. Of those listed, Cayuga Medical Center received recognition as one of the Top 10 highest performers in New York State. The entire teleconference, as recorded by Governor Andrew Cuomo, can be heard here

“The partnership we have with Cayuga Health has been key through this pandemic,” said Frank Kruppa, Tompkins County Public Health Director. “We know it is going to take several weeks to months to get through this first phase. We are following New York State guidance for the phased distribution of vaccine.”

The mass vaccination clinic is staffed by experienced Cayuga Health and county employees. To register for the vaccine, visit or the Tompkins County Health Department website:

Last month, at the direction of the New York State Department of Health and in collaboration with the Tompkins County Health Department, Cayuga Health started to administer the COVID-19 vaccine in the community to health care workers and those with essential jobs. Cayuga Health’s vaccine rollout will continue to expand to others in the community in the weeks and months ahead.

Testing continues to be a priority to stop the spread of COVID-19. Last week, two additional Cayuga Health Sampling Sites were opened, one at Cayuga Medical Center and one at Gutchess Park in Cortlandville. Since the onset of testing in Tompkins County, and now the surrounding communities, 798,222 tests have been conducted as of January 11th. More information can be found on the Cayuga Health Coronavirus tracking site

“We are asking people to be patient and are encouraging anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 to get tested,” said Kruppa.  

Cayuga Health currently offers five COVID-19 testing locations:  

  1. The Shops at Ithaca Mall parking lot, 40 Catherwod Road, Ithaca.  
  2. Schuyler Hospital, Montour Falls.  
  3. 412 North Tioga Street, Ithaca.  
  4. Gutchess Park, Cortlandville.  
  5. Cayuga Medical Center, Ithaca.  

“We know that testing will continue to play a critical role during this pandemic, even as the vaccine is being dispensed,” said Stallone.  “Just last week we opened two more sampling sites to support increasing testing demand.”

Individuals seeking a test at any of the Cayuga Health Sampling Sites will need to pre-register for an appointment. On-line registration for all of the Cayuga Health sampling sites, including Cayuga Medical Center, Schuyler Hospital, 412 North Tioga Street, Ithaca, Shops at Ithaca Mall parking lot, and Cortland is available at For patients who may not have access to the internet, need assistance registering, or have questions, call 607-319-5708. If an individual is registered for a saliva test, he or she cannot have any tobacco products or anything to eat or drink 30 minutes prior to the appointment.  

Need transportation? Contact 2-1-1 (or 877-211-8677) for a list of options. Available 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m. weekdays.

For additional information about cases or specific recent exposures, visit:

Lakeside Veterinary welcomes Dr. Cary

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Jan. 8, 2021 -- Lakeside Veterinary Services, based in Montour Falls, has announced the addition of Dr. Collin Cary, a native of the Southern Tier, to its veterinary practice.

Dr. Cary is a graduate of Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine and specializes in small animal care and exotics, such as birds, ferrets, guinea pigs, hedgehogs and reptiles.

Dr. Martha Hawksworth, owner and operator of Lakeside Veterinary Services, said, “We are very happy to have Dr. Cary joining us. He adds a dimension to our animal care that will serve a growing trend of pet owners who own an exotic pet.

"His compassion for animals, professional knowledge and energy are well received, and we are excited to have him join our team.”

Dr. Carey joined the Lakeside Veterinary team on January 5, 2021.

Photo in text: Dr. Collin Cary (Photo provided)

Seneca View Skilled Nursing Facility reports increase in active COVID-19 positive cases

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Dec. 21, 2020 -- Schuyler Hospital officials announced Monday that they are experiencing an increase in COVID-19 positive cases at the Seneca View Skilled Nursing Facility. Currently there are 18 known positive cases at Seneca View; 14 of these residents are experiencing no symptoms. 

Officials said the positive cases were detected due to rigorous testing that Schuyler Hospital has been doing since the pandemic started earlier this year. In addition, all Seneca View employees are tested twice weekly when active cases are identified on a specific unit.

Residents who have tested positive are separated from other residents and remain in comfortable rooms that have special air filters, officials said, adding that all Seneca View employees are in full PPE at all times. Additional safety measures, they said, include restricting visitation, continuous washing of hands, the installation of plexiglass shields in key areas, social distancing in all areas, hand sanitizing stations, enhanced cleaning throughout the facility, and more. 

Since the beginning of the first local cases of COVID-19, Seneca View leadership has been working in partnership with Schuyler County Public Health to increase testing and conduct thorough contact tracing in the community. In addition, hospital officials said, Seneca View has been in continuous contact with the families of its residents to keep them informed and to answer any questions. The New York State Department of Health has conducted five on-site visits and found no deficiencies by the team.

The Seneca View and Schuyler Hospital teams have been working closely with its partner hospital, Cayuga Medical Center, to transfer patients that require hospitalization.   

“Schuyler Hospital and Seneca View Skilled Nursing Facility have implemented and continue to maintain stringent safety measures in compliance with the New York State Department of Health and the CDC guidelines to protect patients, residents of Seneca View Skilled Nursing Facility, and our employees,” said Rebecca Gould, President & Chief Financial Officer of Schuyler Hospital.

“It is through these protocols and the testing of staff and residents that we identified a recent increase in positive COVID-19 cases of our residents. We have been in continuous communication with our residents and their families to keep them informed.” 

“We continue to maintain the highest level of infection control and prevention measures at Seneca View, and across the entire health system, for the protection of our patients, residents, and staff,” said Dr. Martin Stallone, President & CEO of Cayuga Health. “We are working closely with Schuyler County Public Health and the New York State Department of Health for response coordination and follow-up contact tracing.” 

About Cayuga Health  

Cayuga Health (CH) has two hospitals, Cayuga Medical Center and Schuyler Hospital, as well as a multi-specialty group, Cayuga Medical Associates. Combined employment, including affiliated organizations, is over 2,200 employees. CH is clinically linked to Mayo Medical Laboratories, Rochester Regional Health for cardiac services, Roswell Park for cancer services, and the University of Rochester for neurosciences. 

1st Cayuga Health employees receive vaccine

Special to The Odessa File

ITHACA, Dec. 21, 2020 -- Cayuga Health officials announced Monday that Dr. Keith Lambert, ER Physician, Kate Rosa, RN, and Dr. Sushilkumar Satish Gupta, Pulmonologist and Critical Care Specialist, were among the initial Cayuga Health employees to receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The frontline providers received the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, as part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Phase I approach, on December 18 at Arnot Ogden Medical Center in Elmira, NY. Vaccinations of additional Cayuga Health frontline providers will continue this week.

Recently, Governor Cuomo outlined a phased approach regarding vaccine distribution and administration. In Phase I, supplies are limited to those that may be at the most risk -- to include frontline, patient-facing healthcare providers. The first shipment of the vaccine for Phase I individuals meeting the criteria in our region was received by Arnot Ogden Medical Center last week.

“We are pleased to be able to offer the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine to our frontline workers at this time," said Martin Stallone, President & CEO of Cayuga Health. "We know this is only the beginning of this fast-evolving process and we will remain diligent by doing our part for our own health care providers and within the community during the fight against this global pandemic.” 

For additional information about vaccines, cases or recent exposures, visit:

To view statistical data and official numbers as they are released by the Cayuga Health Sampling Centers visit:

About Cayuga Health

Cayuga Health (CH) has two hospitals, Cayuga Medical Center and Schuyler Hospital, as well as a multi-specialty group, Cayuga Medical Associates. Combined employment, including affiliated organizations, is over 2,200 employees. CH is clinically linked to Mayo Medical Laboratories, Rochester Regional Health for cardiac services, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the University of Rochester for neurosciences.

Gibson on SUNY Cortland's President's List

CORTLAND, Dec. 16, 2020 -- Allison Gibson, a graduate of Watkins Glen High School, has been placed on the President's List for the Spring 2020 semester at the State University of New York College at Cortland.

To be eligible for the President's List, a student must be full-time and have earned at least an A- in all courses. A virtual ceremony honoring the accomplishment was held in November.

Gibson (pictured at right), of Watkins Glen, is a daughter of Scott and Lisa Gibson. She is majoring in Early Childhood Education and is a member of the school's Women's Swim Team.

Snowmobilers urged to exercise caution

Special to the Odessa File

HECTOR, Dec. 12, 2020 -- Finger Lakes National Forest (FLNF) officials are recommending that snowmobilers exercise caution when operating on National Forest, and all lands, in New York this winter.

Snowmobile enthusiasts are being reminded to heed to all gates and signage, to stay on marked trails and adhere to COVID-19 precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) along with local and state health and safety guidance.
Weather permitting, snowmobile use is allowed on designated trails within the FLNF beginning on Wednesday, December 16, 2020, and ending on Monday, March 15, 2021.

“We are concerned about user safety. Monitoring trail conditions and providing visitor information will occur throughout the Forest,” said Jodie Vanselow, District Ranger for the FLNF. The FLNF will continue to work closely with State and local law enforcement agencies as well as the Twin Lakes Snowmobile Association (TLSA) to make sure users of the trail system are respectful, responsible, law abiding, and safe, Vanselow added.

The FLNF and TLSA cooperate to maintain more than 12 miles of National Forest system trails that are part of the larger statewide snowmobile network. TLSA is one of several snowmobile associations in the United States that has a cooperative partnership agreement with the U.S. Forest Service.

“All of these trails allow mixed uses, so people are snowshoeing, hiking and cross-country skiing as well as using snowmobiles. Snowmobilers should travel responsibly and yield to other users,” said Vanselow, noting that riders should travel at a reasonable and prudent speed for the existing conditions.

The Forest Service is also warning all snow travelers of the dangers in riding, hiking and skiing on frozen water bodies. Trail users are encouraged to be mindful of fallen trees and other hazards they may encounter. Operators must maintain control of their snowmobiles while riding; keep to the right at all times and stay on designated trails only. All snowmobiles must be legally registered and have liability insurance.

The New York Statewide snowmobile trail system operates on a sled registration system. There is no trail pass required, but all New York State residents and non-residents must register their sleds in New York to ride in New York. Helmet use is also required. Officials also encourage winter trail users to pack a flashlight, cell phone, food and extra warm clothing in case of an emergency.

SCCUDD honors 4 local restaurants
for youth substance education placemats

Special to the Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Dec. 7, 2020 --  Amid the pandemic last summer, The Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking and Drugs (SCCUDD) partnered with four Schuyler County restaurants to educate area youth about the dangers of substance use. 
SCCUDD developed child-focused placemats that included crossword puzzles, word find, dot-to-dot, and others all focusing on substance use prevention. The placemats also included data from the 2020 SCCUDD Youth Survey. During times of the COVID-19 pandemic when seating in restaurants was prohibited, these restaurants were able to send the placemats home to children with take-out orders.  

The four area restaurants that have been participating include The Bucket Bar & Grill located in Odessa, McGillicuddy’s Bar & Grill located in Montour Falls, as well as Curly’s Family Restaurant and Jerlando’s Ristorante & Pizza Co., which are both located in Watkins Glen.  

“Due to restrictions, it was much more difficult to reach people during the pandemic," said SCCUDD Project Coordinator Ward Brower. "We are very thankful that these businesses stepped up to help us to continue to inform and educate the community. This is a program that we hope to continue and expand by partnering with more area restaurants.”  

Each restaurant has been recognized by SCCUDD by being awarded their “Shining Star” for service to the community.  

“We are a family-owned business and believe in the message that SCCUDD is trying to share,” said Jesse Schubmehl, owner of McGillicuddy’s Bar & Grill and SCCUDD member.  “We are always happy to help get the word out to the community,” added Kurt Connelly, owner of Curly’s Family Restaurant.  

SCCUDD is a group of community members, businesses, and agencies that work to prevent, reduce, and delay the onset of substance use among Schuyler County youth by collaborating with community partners, promoting prevention education and substance-free activities, and implementing environmental strategies. SCCUDD works to reduce youth use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs as they can cause lifelong problems. SCCUDD’s vision is a connected community where youth have education, resources, and drug-free options to help their journey to become happy, healthy adults. 

For more information, or to become involved with SCCUDD, visit it online at, or follow it on Facebook and Twitter.  

Photos in text: Curt Connelly (top) of Curly's Family Restaurant, and Erick Thorpe of The Bucket Bar & Grill. (Photos provided)

Jelliff graduates from basic training in TX

ODESSA, Dec. 22, 2020 -- Air Force Airman John C. Jelliff of Odessa, NY recently graduated from basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.

He is currently attending technical school for Fire Protection at Goodwill Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas.

Jelliff is a 2020 graduate of Odessa-Montour High School and is the son of John D. and Lisa Jelliff of Odessa.

Photo at right: Air Force Airman John C. Jelliff (Photo provided)

Lakeside Veterinary donates holiday food

Special to
The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Nov. 15, 2020 -- Lakeside Veterinary Services, based in Montour Falls, has donated 90 boxes of stuffing mix, 150 boxes of Jello and 150 cans of cranberry sauce to the Nov. 20 Thanksgiving Food Basket Giveaway hosted by Catholic Charities of Chemung and Schuyler counties.

The Food Basket effort will help serve 150 families during this Thanksgiving season.

Dr. Martha Hawksworth, owner and operator of Lakeside Veterinary Services, said, “We at Lakeside Veterinary are happy to support our community during the Thanksgiving holiday. This is a small gesture of support during this challenging period with the COVID-19 pandemic. We know there are families in our community who are in need at the moment and thank Catholic Charities for their wonderful effort.”

Registration for the Food Basket Giveaway is required and can be done here: . Catholic Charities is also looking for generous donors to help create 200 Christmas Food Baskets. Find more information here:  

Photo in text: Dr. Martha Hawksworth, left, and Zach Marvin, Food Pantry Facilitator, with the food items donated by Lakeside Veterinary Services. (Photo provided)

Fire rages in the eastern section of the Carriage House. (Photo by Anna Franzese)

Fire strikes historic Carriage House in Watkins Glen, but most of building saved

WATKINS GLEN, Nov. 5, 2020 -- Firefighters rushed at about 4:30 p.m. Thursday to the scene of a fire at an historic property -- the old Carriage House on the corner of Decatur and Third Streets in Watkins Glen.

By the time they had finished their work, the major portion of the building -- a three-story section on the structure's western end -- was saved with minor damage. The two-story central section sustained fire and smoke damage on the second floor, and smoke and water damage below. And the easternmost section, a former horse stable, was mostly charred, a clear loss.

The good news regarding that loss was this: Aside from the fact that it was insured, owners Chris and Angeline Franzese -- who live in a stately and historic house on the southeast corner of the block-wide property -- had planned at some point to level that stable section as part of a renovation plan.

They had hoped to get Downtown Revitalization Initiative funds to help in that effort, which envisioned apartments and shops in the historic old building. Despite falling short of DRI funding, Angeline said a renovation is still being planned. While watching as firefighters swarmed about the property, she said she didn't know the extent of the damage inside the central portion, although she had checked to see if a car stored in the western section was okay. It was. There was no immediate word available on the fate of five motorcycles belonging to a Franzese daughter that were stored on the ground floor of the central section.

Angeline's husband was mostly thankful that the flames had not devoured more of the building. "Our thanks go to the firefighters for saving the main structure.," Chris said. "I was afraid the fire would get in the main section and wouldn't stop. But they got it."

How fast the water started flowing was in dispute, with Angeline saying that nearby hydrants proved useless, and that it took 25 minutes to draw water along hoses from Franklin Street, farther away. But Fire Chief Judson Smith said his firefightters "put water on it" within a few minutes, knocking down the flames before they could reach the three-story portion of the structure. "We stopped it there," he noted.

Fire vehicles surrounded the structure -- some on Third Street, some on Decatur and some on the property itself. When the flames were at their height, a wind from the south was blowing them horizontally across Third Street, raising concern for homes across the roadway, said one observer. But the wind died down, as did the flames -- the firefighters' water sending thick plumes of smoke out over Seneca Lake mere blocks away.

The 911 emergency number was reportedly called by two different neighbors, and the Watkins firefighters -- their station just blocks to the east -- responded quickly, with the call for mutual aid bringing in departments from around the region.

The Franzeses, who have operated the nearby Villager Motel since 1986, purchased their house and the Carriage House in 1991. The Carriage House has a history dating back to the 1800s; a high point coming when Dr. Samuel Watkins -- after whom Watkins Glen is named -- inherited it from his brother John. (For a history of the property prepared by the Franzeses, click here.)

The Carriage House -- once housing horses, hay and carriages, and boasting a Carriage House keeper who lived on the second floor of the building's primary section -- served mostly as storage space in recent years while standing stately as a reminder of glory days of long ago.

It boasted a new roof put on in the past year, and hopes for a future of greater use. Those hopes are still alive, Angeline reiterated.

As firefighters roamed the grounds, dousing any stubborn embers -- with several dousings directed on one of two cupolas, this one in the central section -- fire inspector Tim Hudson was interviewing witnesses, trying to determine the cause.

He seemed interested in a lawnmower that had been used earlier in the day and then stored in the eastern section of the building, but would only say that the fire started in the vicinity of the lawnmower. "I haven't reached a determination yet," he noted.

Photos in text:

Top: A firefighter atop a truck ladder checks for any sign of fire in a cupola on the western end of the building. It was clear.

Second: A view of the flames from the street. (Photo by Denise Hayden)

Third: The smoke was thick as the flames were doused. (Photo by Laurie DeNardo)

Fourth: Firefighters direct water on a hot spot of the building.

Smoke wafts over Seneca Lake from the fire at the corner of 3rd and Decatur Streets.

Schuyler Habitat receives donation

Special to the Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Oct. 29, 2020 -- The Finger Lakes Chapter of the Porsche Club of America has donated combination CO2/smoke alarms to Schuyler County Habitat for Humanity. They will be used in the construction of the current Habitat build on County Road 4 in the Town of Hector.

Habitat, in a press release, said it is "extremely grateful for donations such as these" because they help its effort to provide low cost, quality housing to people of need.

This will be the third home that Schuyler Habitat has built in Schuyler County. The partner family selection process is under way. "Volunteers to assist with the build are always welcome," Habitat said, "whatever your skill set."

To volunteer contact Bob Groll, Information regarding becoming the partner family and the monthly meeting can be found on the website Donations for the build may be sent to Schuyler Habitat for Humanity, P.O. Box 45, Watkins Glen, NY 14891.

Photo in text: Posing with the Finger Lakes Porsche Club donation are, from left,
The Reverend Michael Hartney, Habitat treasurer; Bob Groll, president; Steve Clendenin, volunteer; Ann Barford, volunteer; and James Gallagher, vice president. (Photo provided)

Dr. Haentges joins Watkins dental firm

Special to the Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Oct. 26, 2020 -- Jeffrey W. Schultz, DDS has welcomed Joshua L. Haentges, DDS to his practice of general dentistry at 703 South Decatur Street in Watkins Glen.

Dr. Haentges received his undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences with a concentration in Pre-Health Studies from the University at Buffalo. He graduated in 2016 from the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine with a minor in Pediatric dentistry and electives in sports dentistry and forensic and esthetic dentistry, and with certification in the use of diode lasers.

Dr. Haentges completed a year-long Advanced Education in General Dentistry residency at the Stratton-Albany Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Albany, NY. In addition, he has had training in placement of both conventional and mini implants.

Dr. Haentges lives with his wife, Sherilyn, and their two children, Elorah and Autley, with a third baby boy on the way.

Dr. Haentges comes to Dr. Schultz’s practice with three years of private practice experience and will be offering dental treatment to patients at the Watkins Glen office in all areas of general dentistry, including restorative and cosmetic dentistry, dental implants, endodontics, oral surgery, and Invisalign orthodontics.

He is a member of the American Dental Association, the 7th District Dental Society, and the New York State Dental Association.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Haentges, call the Watkins Glen office at (607) 535-4666.

Photo in text: Dr. Joshua Haentges with his wife, Sherilyn, and their two children, Elorah and Autley. (Photo provided)

Schuyler reports 1st Covid-19 related deaths

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Oct. 19, 2020 -- Schuyler County Public Health received notification Monday that two Schuyler County residents who tested positive for Covid-19 have passed away. These are the first reported deaths related to Covid-19 in Schuyler County.

One of the individuals was a female in her 70s and the other individual was a male in his 80s. They were members of the same household.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of two of our community members,” said Deborah Minor, Schuyler County Public Health Director. “We send our heartfelt condolences to their family, friends, and loved ones.

“Covid-19 cases are increasing rapidly in the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions.” Minor cautioned. “While many people who are infected with Covid-19 have mild illness, this disease can be devastating for others. We all have the power to protect each other and our community. Wear a mask whenever you are spending time with people you don’t live with -- including extended family or friends -- and limit how many different people you are spending time with.”

County Administrator Tim O’Hearn echoed Minor's expression of condolences, stating that “We mourn the loss of two of our citizens whose lives were cut short by this horrific disease. The family is in our thoughts and prayers.” O’Hearn added: “It is imperative that our residents and businesses take heed of the severity of this outbreak, and employ appropriate measures to protect themselves and others.”

Schuyler County Public Health says its mission is to protect and empower the community to be safe, healthy and prepared -- a connected community of healthy people and safe places.

For more information, visit Schuyler County Public Health online at or follow Schuyler County Public Health on Facebook and Twitter.

Dix man charged with marijuana possession

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Oct. 15, 2020 -- Raymond R. Brown, 42, of Townsend Road, Town of Dix, was arrested on October 14 on a Superior Court Warrant on a charge of Criminal Possession of Marijuana in the Second Degree, a Class D felony.

According to the New York State Police, the arrest was "the result of a lengthy investigation ... into a marijuana growing operation on Townsend Road in the Town of Dix."

Police added: "On August 5, 2020, members of the New York State Police Violent Gang and Narcotics Enforcement Team executed a search warrant on Townsend Road and located 41 marijuana plants, scales used to weigh marijuana and equipment used to grow and cultivate marijuana. Approximately two pounds of marijuana was seized in total."

Brown was sent to the Schuyler County Jail pending his arraignment in Schuyler County Court.

Elderly COVID-19 patient dies at CMC

Special to The Odessa File

ITHACA, Oct. 12, 2020 -- The Tompkins County Health Department on Monday received notification of a confirmed COVID-19 death, the first of a Tompkins County resident.

The individual was admitted to Cayuga Medical Center on October 6, and died from complications related to the disease on October 12. The individual was a 95-year-old about whom "to maintain medical privacy, the Health Department will not be releasing additional information at this time."

Two other people died of the coronavirus in Tompkins County in April after being transferred from New York City.

“It is with deep regret that we announce the passing" of the 95-year-old patient, said Dr. Martin Stallone, CEO, Cayuga Health System. “Our hearts go out to the patient’s family during this difficult time. I would also like to recognize the dedication of our Cayuga Health team that continue to treat all COVID-19 patients. They remain well prepared and committed to their calling and commitment of treating all patients, no matter what the diagnosis.”

“Our deepest sympathy goes out to the family affected by this loss," echoed Frank Kruppa, Tompkins County Public Health Director. "This passing is a difficult reminder that COVID-19 is still having serious impacts on our community. I urge everyone to pay careful attention to what we can all do to stop the spread. While our ability to manage the disease in Tompkins County has increased, we’re tragically reminded that COVID-19 disproportionately impacts older adults, those who are immune-compromised and those with underlying health conditions.” 

Said Leslyn McBean-Clairborne, Chairwoman of the Tompkins County Legislature: “My heart breaks for this loss. Losing a loved one and member of our community is never easy, and this terrible pandemic makes grieving all the more difficult. On behalf of the entire County Legislature, we grieve for the family and hold them close in our thoughts. We’ve come together as a community over the past eight months to do everything we can to fight this disease, and it is my hope that we will all join together in continuing to do all that we can to protect one another,” 

The staff at Cayuga Medical Center and across Cayuga Health have treated numerous COVID-19 patients since March. The Cayuga Health team has also conducted over 300,000 tests across the region and, hospital officials said, will continue to increase testing capabilities.  

About Cayuga Health  

Cayuga Health (CH) has two hospitals, Cayuga Medical Center and Schuyler Hospital, as well as a multi-specialty group, Cayuga Medical Associates. Combined employment, including affiliated organizations, is over 2,200 employees. CH is clinically linked to Mayo Medical Laboratories, Rochester Regional Health for cardiac services, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the University of Rochester for neurosciences. 

2 Seneca View Nursing Facility residents, employee test positive for COVID-19

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Oct. 8, 2020 -- Schuyler County Public Health received notification Thursday that two residents at Schuyler Hospital’s Seneca View Skilled Nursing Facility in Montour Falls tested positive for COVID-19 after being screened due to an employee testing positive on the nursing unit.

Schuyler County Public Health, Schuyler Hospital, and the New York State Department of Health are collaborating to ensure all close contacts are identified and placed in quarantine.

The employee is in quarantine at home. One of the two Seneca View residents is not currently experiencing any noticeable symptoms of COVID-19 and seems to be doing well, officials said in a press release, which noted that "this individual has been isolated from other Seneca View residents. The second resident is experiencing symptoms and has been transferred to Cayuga Medical Center as a precautionary measure.

"The entire unit has been placed in quarantine and residents and staff in that unit will be retested frequently to ensure any additional individuals who test positive or develop symptoms can be immediately separated from other residents. Retesting will occur until the facility goes 14 days without any new positive cases."

“It’s important we all continue to exercise caution, especially with COVID-19 cases rising in the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions,” said Deborah Minor, Schuyler County Public Health Director. “Please consider shrinking your social bubble by limiting how many different people you are interacting with. This virus mostly spreads from person-to-person between people who are in close contact for an extended period of time, especially indoors.”

Schuyler County Public Health provided the following tips to stop the spread of COVID-19:

--Wear a mask when out in public places or when spending time with people you don’t live with.
--Social distance by keeping at least six feet between yourself and people who aren’t members of your household.
--Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially when you get home after being in public.
--Get tested for COVID-19, especially if you have symptoms or were in close contact with someone who tested positive. To find testing locations, visit:
--Stay home if you are sick -- even if your illness is mild.
--Shrink your social bubble by limiting how many different people you are interacting with. Community spread of the virus is occurring in the Southern Tier with cases rising rapidly in many counties in the region.

In the wake of positive Seneca View cases, hospital to temporarily suspend visitation

MONTOUR FALLS, Oct. 8, 2020 -- Schuyler Hospital officials announced Thursday that they are temporarily suspending any outside visitation to the hospital starting Friday, October 9 as a precaution in the wake of two residents of the Seneca View Skilled Nursing Facility testing positive for COVID-19.

Earlier this week a member of the Seneca View staff tested positive during a routine testing. On Thursday, the two residents also tested positive.

“Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic both Schuyler Hospital and Seneca View Skilled Nursing Facility have implemented and continue to maintain stringent safety measures in compliance with the New York State Department of Health and the CDC guidelines to protect patients, residents of Seneca View Skilled Nursing Facility, and our employees,” said Rebecca Gould, President & Chief Financial Officer at Schuyler Hospital.

“It is through these protocols and the testing of staff that occurred this week," she added, "that we identified a confirmed COVID-19 case of an employee working at Seneca View. Once the positive test came back, we proactively tested residents of that particular unit where the employee had been working and identified two positive cases among our residents. We immediately notified all of our residents and families to keep them informed.”

The safety measures include restricting visitation, required use of daily PPE by staff, regular washing of hands, the installation of plexiglass shields in key areas, social distancing in all areas, hand sanitizing stations, screening of everyone entering the facility, COVID-19 testing of staff, enhanced cleaning throughout the facility, and more.

“We will continue to maintain the highest level of safety protocols, including ongoing re-testing of employees and residents, along with aggressive ongoing surveillance to minimize the risk of additional cases,” said  Dr. Martin Stallone,  President & CEO of Cayuga Health. “We are working closely with Schuyler County Public Health and the New York State Department of Health for response coordination and follow-up contact tracing.”

About Cayuga Health

Cayuga Health (CH) has two hospitals, Cayuga Medical Center and Schuyler Hospital, as well as a multi-specialty group, Cayuga Medical Associates. Combined employment, including affiliated organizations, is over 2,200 employees. CH is clinically linked to Mayo Medical Laboratories, Rochester Regional Health for cardiac services, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the University of Rochester for neurosciences.

Photo in text: Schuyler Hospital President and CFO Rebecca Gould (File photo)

Open House set at Lee School Museum on Oct. 10; Burdett breakfast slated for Oct. 11

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Oct. 2, 2020 -- The Schuyler County Historical Society is celebrating New York State’s Fall Path through History Weekend Oct. 10-11 with an open house at its Lee School Museum and additional hours at its Brick Tavern and Wickham Rural Life Center museums.

The weekend will be capped with a drive-through breakfast prepared by the Burdett Fire Department to benefit the Historical Society.

The Lee School Museum open house will be on Saturday, Oct. 10, from noon to 2 p.m. The historic, one-room school was built in 1884 and is furnished as it would have been in the early 20th century. It is located on Route 14, just south of Montour Falls.

Retired teachers Marty Evans and Judy Van Skiver will welcome visitors and share the one-room experience.

The Brick Tavern and Wickham Rural Life Center museums will be open on Saturday, Oct. 10, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The current special exhibit at the Brick Tavern Museum honors Schuyler County residents who were involved in World War II, in both military and civilian roles.

Masks will be required at all three museums. No admission will be charged.

On Sunday, Oct. 11, Burdett firefighters will offer a drive-through breakfast to benefit the Historical Society. A breakfast of eggs, pancakes, French toast, bacon and sausage will cost $10. The Burdett Fire Department is located on Route 79, north of Burdett.

For more information about these events, contact the Historical Society at (607) 535-9741.

Photo in text: The Lee School Museum (Photo provided)

History Walk to feature Street Racing Stories

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Sept. 27, 2020 -- Watkins Glen Village Historian Jim Scaptura and racing historian Bill Green will lead a walk through the village’s street racing history on Saturday, Oct. 3.

The first races through the streets of Watkins Glen and the roads of surrounding towns were on Oct. 2, 1948.

Walk participants are asked to meet at 10 a.m. at the original start-finish line in front of the Schuyler County Courthouse on Franklin Street. The one-hour walk will happen rain or shine.

It is free and sponsored by the Schuyler County Historical Society.

Masks will be required.

For more information, contact the Historical Society at (607) 535-9741.

Scuba divers conduct an underwater cleanup

WATKINS GLEN, Sept. 20, 2020 -- Scuba diving volunteers cleared the Seneca Harbor marina's underwater terrain Saturday morning during the Finger Lakes Clean Up event organized by Bobby Kurz, owner of Watkins Wine & Spirits.

The second annual such cleanup also included roadside cleanup around the region by other volunteers.

Kurz said that while surface pollution is easily noticeable, there is some underwater, as well. He and his team, for instance, found an old wagon underwater during Saturday's cleanup, an item that found its way to a large dumpster provided by the Casella firm and stationed in the parking lot adjoining the marina's docks.

"Whenever you're under the water," said Kurz, "you always see garbage down there and it's a shame it's out of sight, out of mind. But not for us divers.

"You know, we live in a beautiful region. And we all prosper by a nice clean Finger Lake. So why not do this?"

Photo in text: Scuba divers at the Seneca Harbor marina included, from left: Jim Phillips, Neil Freeland, Bill Bresser, Christeen Freeland, Judy Phillips, and Denise Bresser. They found the wagon underwater, and placed it in the dumpster behind them. (Photo provided)

Final Watkins Glen History Walks set

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Sept. 9, 2020 -- The last of the Schuyler County Historical Society’s 2020 Watkins Glen History Walks will be on Saturday, Sept. 19, and Sunday, Sept. 27.

The free, one-hour walks are enjoyed by visitors and local residents. Participants are asked to meet at the Seneca Harbor Park Pier at 10 a.m. The walks are conducted rain or shine. Masks will be required.

For more information, call the Historical Society at (607) 535-9741.

Learning Support Pod plans to host 20 Watkins Elementary students Wednesdays

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Sept. 4, 2020 -- A Learning Support Pod has been formulated by community volunteers to host 20 children on Wednesdays from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 

Sponsored by the Watkins-Montour Lions Club, the program will be held at St. James Parish House in Watkins Glen with as much outdoor learning as weather permits. Social distancing and safety protocols will be maintained.

Children attending Watkins Glen Elementary School whose families are in need of support are invited to apply for the full-day program, with priority given to those experiencing extenuating circumstances. There is no tuition cost.

The program will follow the school's remote schedule with volunteer certified educators assisting children. Afternoons will be held in conjunction with Cornell Cooperative Extension 4-H and REACH programs.

The WG Learning Pod is scheduled to begin on September 16 with the hope that other community learning pods will evolve. Right-click on the form below or email program coordinators Kate LaMoreaux and Marie Fitzsimmons at

Robotics team is seeking new members

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Aug. 25, 2020 -- Schuyler County’s youth robotics team, Mechanical Meltdown, is accepting applications for the 2020-2021 season until Tuesday, September 8. Students in grades 7-12 from Schuyler and surrounding counties are invited to apply.

The program allows students to explore their interests in various STEM- and business-related topics as they design, build, and program a robot to perform specific challenges, which change every year. Youths will have opportunities to develop skills in technical areas like engineering, computer programming, Microsoft Office applications, CAD and 3D printing, as well as general life skills such as teamwork, problem solving, leadership, and marketing.

Mechanical Meltdown is part of FLARE – Finger Lakes Area Robotics Education.  The group meets regularly in Watkins Glen. For more information, e-mail or call Kathy at (607) 546-2207.

Watkins history walks are continuing

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Aug. 25, 2020 -- The Schuyler County Historical Society’s Watkins Glen History Walks continued in August and will be conducted again in September.

Schuyler County history experts will lead the walks on Saturday, Sept. 19 and on Sunday, Sept. 27. Walk leaders include Schuyler County Historian Gary Emerson, Village of Burdett Historian Marty Evans and Historical Society Board President Jean Hubsch.

The free, one-hour walks are enjoyed by visitors and local residents. Participants are asked to meet at the Seneca Harbor Park Pier at 10 a.m. The walks are conducted rain or shine. Masks will be required.

For more information, call the Historical Society at (607) 535-9741.

Watkins-based band Sweats releases debut full-length album, 'Caught in a Wave'

Special to The Odessa File

Listen to Caught in a Wave here.

The Finger Lakes band known as Sweats has released its debut full-length album, “Caught in a Wave.” 

Based in Watkins Glen, NY--the heart of the FLX--the band channels the spirit of the region with a rock that brings summer vibes to the decks of craft breweries and local wineries. (The group plays next at Diversion Brewing in Chemung on Aug. 14 from 5:30-8:30 p.m.) Sweats' home-brewed tunes span genres. Straightforward rock and roll, like “Dramamine” and “Your Man,” mingles with bass-driven grooves like “River.” The album also makes room for more ambitious arrangements, like the “Preyed Hard on It” and the title track, “Caught in a Wave.”

Originally recorded at Pyramid Sound Recording Studios in Ithaca with audio engineer, Mike Caporizzo, the album went on lockdown with the rest of the country in early March. 

“When we’re doing our job, we promote social gathering, which is basically the opposite of what the country needs right now,” said singer and songwriter, Travis Durfee. “Even as we need physical distancing for public health, the need for social connection is so necessary for everybody’s mental health. We hope our tunes help bring people together even though we may be apart.”

Tunes like “Breathing” offer listeners the easy breezes of simple moments with the ones they love. “Double Nay,” the first rock anthem of breastfeeding, channels the angst of the toddler yearning the instant gratification of mother’s milk. “Pressed Leaves” chronicles a love estranged in the images of autumn. 

Sweats has hosted livestreams during quarantine, which are archived on their Facebook page.

Durfee cut teeth with The Huddled Massives before joining forces with Sweats. His songwriting merges the diverse influences of his youth: outlaw country and '90s hip-hop, psychedelic indie rock and evocative '70s singer-songwriters.

Lead guitarist Nick D’Alosio bends the strings to suit the song. His guitar snarls a sustained rage or sings a soothing melody, whatever the tune requires. His chops range from chunky riffs to gritty leads, all delivered with a deft ear for tone. A journeyman player, he has livened the stage with Bigfoot and 5 Degrees North. 

JM Sincock’s command of the kit started in the early years playing along with recordings of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Years of playing since find JM exploring a spectrum of rhythms that include the swinging shuffles of the Dead and Phish to the lock-tight rhythms of Hall and Oates. He has also been sighted jamming with Bigfoot.

Bassist Rob Kurcoba draws inspiration through his deep roots in hip hop and jam bands. Kurcoba, a Subtle Butterscotch alum, has an active finger-style that evokes Floyd Pepper from Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem. Kurcoba’s melodic bass lines lay the foundations for many Sweats originals. 

"Caught in a Wave” can be found on Spotify, Apple music, and other major streaming surfaces. CDs and limited run vinyl can be ordered, as well. The band is offering the music for contributions on BandCamp

“We hope to sell a few digital downloads to make up for what we’ve lost this year in live shows,” Durfee said. 

The Sweats band shows no sign of slowing down. In the absence  of live shows, it is currently working up the next crop of songs for another record to come soon.

Photo in text: Singer-songwriter Travis Durfee (File photo)

Catholic Charities, EOP, area businesses gathering school supplies for distribution

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Aug. 5, 2020 -- Catholic Charities and the Economic Opportunity Program (EOP) are joining with area businesses in preparing local kids for a successful school year.

From now until August 24, area businesses, Catholic Charities, and the EOP are collecting new school supplies, backpacks, and headphones. School Supply Starter Kits and new backpacks will be distributed at two Back to School Kick-off events in Watkins Glen and Elmira.

The following businesses have partnered with Catholic Charities and EOP to offer drop-off locations in Chemung and Schuyler Counties:

--Empower Federal Credit Union, Elmira
--Ferrario Ford, Horseheads
--Mr. Panosian’s Famous Shoes, Elmira
--Parmenter Tire, Auto & Truck Service, Horseheads
--SPCA, Elmira
--The Purple Iris Boutique, Horseheads
--Treu Office Supply & Furniture, Elmira
--Chemung Canal Trust Company, Montour Falls & Watkins Glen
--Famous Brands, Watkins Glen
--Parmenter Tire, Auto & Truck Service, Odessa & Montour Falls
--Quinlan’s Pharmacy, Montour Falls
--The Hi-Lites, Watkins Glen

Donations will also be accepted at Catholic Charities’ Samaritan Center (380 S. Main St., Elmira): Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-12 noon; Schuyler Outreach Food Pantry (112 10th St, Watkins Glen): Tuesday and Friday, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursday, 12 noon-4 p.m.; and at The Economic Opportunity Program (650 Baldwin St., Elmira): Monday-Thursday, 8:15 a.m.-5:45 p.m.

“We are deeply appreciative of our local businesses who make this Back to School Drive a success every year,” said Katie Rhodes, Development & Marketing Coordinator at Catholic Charities.“With all of the uncertainty of this school year, we still want our children in Chemung and Schuyler Counties to have something of their very own that can help them learn, wherever that may be.”

The Back to School Kick-off Events will be held at the Schuyler County Highway Department on August 28 and The Elmira Community Kitchen on September 2. Both events require pre-registration by August 24 at noon for backpacks and school supply starter kits. Registration is available at These free events will be walk-up or drive-through.

For a full list of needed items and additional ways to donate, visit Catholic Charities’ website (, email Katie Rhodes at or call 734-9784, ext. 2133.

Brick Tavern Museum to reopen on July 1

WATKINS GLEN, June 26, 2020 -- The Schuyler County Historical Society’s Brick Tavern Museum and Wickham Rural Life Center will reopen to the public on Wednesday, July 1.

The facilities, located at 108 N. Catharine St./Route 14, Montour Falls, will reopen with regular hours and using New York’s Phase 4 health and safety guidelines.

All visitors will be required to wear masks, and groups will be limited to six. Researchers will be required to make an appointment to use the Brick Tavern Museum library. Visitors, volunteers and staff will use a sign-in log.

Due to reconstruction of Route 14 through Montour Falls, street parking is not available. Visitors should use the north driveway and park behind the building.

The Brick Tavern Museum’s special exhibit honoring the 100th anniversary of Schuyler Hospital remains on display through Aug. 15. The next special exhibit will open Sept. 2 to honor Schuyler County residents who had a military or civilian role in World War II.

Hours at the Brick Tavern Museum and Wickham Rural Life Center are Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursday 2-8 p.m. Summer Saturday hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. will begin July 25. Admission is free.

Visitors and researchers are encouraged to call the Historical Society at (607) 535-9741 or email with questions.

The Historical Society is supported in part by a TAP grant administered by the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce.

Photo in text: The Schuyler County Historical Society’s Brick Tavern Museum. (Photo provided)

The home built by Habitat for Humanity at 306 Broadway, Montour Falls. (Photo provided)

Schuyler Habitat completes new house

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, June 23, 2020 -- Schuyler County Habitat for Humanity has completed its second house in the county at 306 Broadway in the Village of Montour Falls.
"Thanks to some generous contractors and friends the home has been built entirely with volunteer labor," Habitat said in a press release. "Local trade unions and building companies stepped up to help with their professional skills and equipment.

"The partner family, the Vandewerffs, worked alongside Habitat volunteers to build their new home. Happily, the family moved into their new home this week."

The search for the next property for a Habitat home has begun. Anyone interested in donating property to Habitat or selling it at a reasonable price should contact Bob Groll, Habitat President, at
The application process for the next partner family will be announced on the Habitat website,, and the Facebook page, Habitat for Humanity of Schuyler County, when property is obtained.

Donations to help pay for the next home are always welcome. All donations are tax deductible and may be sent to P.O. Box 45, Watkins Glen, NY 14891.  

Boating Club offers online Safety Course

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, June 19, 2020 -- Getting out on the lakes is a good antidote to pandemic cabin fever, but America’s Boating Club–Finger Lakes Chapter reminds boaters that the state’s new safety certificate law is now in effect.

With the start of this year, motor boat operators born after Jan. 1, 1993, are required to earn a boating safety certificate. The same will apply to older boaters as requirements are phased in over the next several years. By 2025, everyone, regardless of age, must have a state safety certificate to operate a motor boat.

America’s Boating Club–Finger Lakes Chapter, ABC-FLX, based in Watkins Glen, has for many years offered a classroom course to obtain the boating certificate. However, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the classroom courses have been suspended.

Boaters may still take the course online from America’s Boating Club.

“We prefer to hold classes in person and on the water, but that is just not possible at the present time, so we are pleased to offer these alternatives,” Charles Fausold, director of education for ABC-FLX, said. “Until we can resume our regular programming, we encourage everyone to boat responsibly and always wear an approved life jacket.”

For more information about the safety certificate course, go to the Education page on the ABC-FLX website at In addition to the safety certificate course, a wide variety of learn-on-your-own courses, webinars and videos are offered.

Questions also may be directed to Fausold at

July 3rd fireworks postponed to Labor Day

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, June 15, 2020 -- In light of current COVID-19-related restrictions on gatherings and crowd size, the Village of Watkins Glen’s annual Independence Day fireworks event will be postponed.

The fireworks, which were originally scheduled to take place July 3, are being planned for Labor Day weekend, pending approval on qualified gatherings in the state. More details will be announced as that time approaches.

“Our first priority here is the safety of our residents and visitors,” said Watkins Glen Mayor Luke Leszyk. “We are optimistic that Watkins Glen will find other ways to celebrate our nation’s independence and excited to enjoy a traditional fireworks display once we’re able to convene safely as a community.”

“Although we’re disappointed to announce this decision, our members -- along with the area’s residents and guests -- will have something wonderful to look forward to on Labor Day weekend,” said Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Rebekah Carroll.

The Chamber has, since 2014, partnered with the Village of Watkins Glen to host the 4th of July fireworks show in the village. "Our contribution has been paying the cost of the show and the promotion of the event," said Carroll, adding: "The village provides the location and the police patrol (directing traffic, safety, etc.)."

The Chamber of Commerce serves nearly 500 members and continues to grow. Its members include sole proprietors, small businesses, home businesses, corporations, and non-profits. Members hail from Montour Falls, Watkins Glen, Corning, Elmira, Hammondsport, Penn Yan, Geneva, Ithaca, Binghamton, and all points in between. The Chamber’s mission is to advance economic success through support, promotion, and education. Its vision is to be an invaluable partner and resource. For more information, visit

Protesters lined Fourth Street at the edge of Lafayette Park.

Day of speeches, day of unity in Watkins

WATKINS GLEN, June 7, 2020 -- About 200 people turned out Sunday afternoon in Lafayette Park to hear area officials and politicians weigh in on the national Black Lives Matter movement that has spread across the country and around the world following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

Protesters also populated the grounds, carrying signs and waving them to passing motorists along Fourth Street. The event was the second gathering in the past week organized by Odessa-Montour High School alumnus Alec Betts. Joining him in organizing Sunday's protest and speeches was Watkins Glen High School alumna Halle Phillips.

Speakers included two officials of the Elmira-Corning chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), president Georgia Verdier and Vice President Dr. Jimmie Williams.

Also speaking were State Senate candidates Tom O'Mara (the Republican incumbent) and Leslie Danks Burke (the Democratic challenger); Democratic congressional candidate Tracy Mitrano; Alison Hunt, district director for Republican Congressman Tom Reed; Assemblyman Phil Palmesano; and Schuyler County District Attorney Joe Fazzary. An opening prayer was offered by Father Steve Lape.

Each speaker talked of the need in this country for unity, and about the current movement -- evident in so many protests and rallies around the world -- to eliminate systemic racism, especially in the administration of justice.

Verdier said she was encouraged by the "show of solidarity" in the protests and the calls for reform in police departments, and said she was "hopefull" that "this game-changing moment in history" would have a lasting, positive effect.

Danks Burke urged continued efforts like Sunday's and those around the country, and said "the brutal system in place" that has tipped violently against the African American community must be changed. As she stated in a press release preceding Sunday's gathering, "I'm calling on all of our leadership at the local, state and federal levels to call out this issue for what it is and enact policies that will bring overdue systemic reform to our criminal justice system."

She said another key to change is the ballot box.

"Silence will surely doom us all," she said. "Let us go forward and hold on to our power as citizens to change the rules. Let us vote."

Mitrano gave a fiery speech in which she urged the audience: "Let us here today choose to be anti-racist. Let us stand together."

She also unleashed a verbal tirade against President Donald Trump, who she said is "totally inadequate to address" the issues we are facing, and "a racist. And anybody aligning with him is part of the problem, not a solution." She also called him "a blight on democracy" who "seeks autocracy," and a person "lacking empathy. He has utterly failed the test and must be replaced."

She turned her sights on her opponent, Reed, at that point, saying he is "the honorary chairman for Donald Trump's re-election campaign in all of New York State" and won't go against Trump "because he might be cut off from the presidential gravy train" or become the subject of a vindictive presidential tweet.

Fazzary (right) followed her to the lectern, commenting after her fiery oration: "I'm glad I'm not running for office right now, and I'm glad she's not running for District Attorney." He noted that he can't, as a white man, understand what African Americans go through, many of them "with fear every day," but that he, along with all of us, "have to do more" in the fight to eliminate racism. He said that "to do nothing is to consent" that what the Minneapolis police did to George Floyd and what other police have done to other African Americans is acceptable -- when it clearly is not. When police commit a crime, Fazzary said, they "have to be prosecuted."

"I promise," he added, "that I will step away from my comfort zone" and listen closely to the concerns brought to him in his role as DA. "I'll do more," he said, adding: "Our country is rightfully outraged. We're better than this."

O'Mara echoed Fazzary, saying "We must do better. The names are endless of those" who have been abused or died "at the hands of police and others" despite the Civil Rights advances in the 1960s. Since then, he said, "there has been little progress. Hopefully this incident and the extent and breadth of the protests will make a difference this time going forward," including possible state legislation aimed at establishing a uniform disciplinary system to deal with police brutality.

But he stands "in support of blue lives, too," he said, for there are many "great police officers" tarnished by the abuses in Minneapolis and elsewhere.

Hunt, the representative for Reed, said the Congressman was tied up in Washington helping his daughter move into an apartment. She did not respond in kind to Mitrano, instead focusing on how Reed "has reached out to the Congressional Black Caucus." She said she was "here to call for unity," knowing that "some of you might not agree with Tom." She said "there is more to be done in our lives and in our hearts" in combatting racism, and added: "Don't hesitate to reach out to us. We want to hear your voice." A lot can be accomplished, she said, "through respectful dialogue."

Palmesano, the final speaker, said "we need to do a better job as a country, to listen and to hear." He said the video of George Floyd's death made him "sick to my stomach. Eight minutes and 46 seconds. Why? There was no reason for it. It is time for this to stop, for us to have love and compassion and humanity" and an understanding "of what others are going through ... Let's choose to do better."

Photos in text:

From top: The NAACP's Georgia Verdier; State Senate candidates Tom O'Mara and Leslie Danks Burke bump elbows in greeting; protester Sarah Swinnerton; District Attorney Joe Fazzary; and Alison Hunt, district director for Congressman Tom Reed.

Congressional candidate Tracy Mitrano delivered a fiery speech critical of President Trump and of her opponent, Tom Reed.

From left: The NAACP's Dr. Jimmie Williams; Tim and Michelle Benjamin with their sign; and Father Stave Lape, who provided an opening prayer.

New York State Senate candidates Leslie Danks Burke and incumbent Tom O'Mara.

Left: A dog with a message. Right: Event organizers Halle Phillips and Alec Betts.

Left: Spectators in the crowd also carried signs. Right: Assemblyman Phil Palmesano.

Protesters and their signs lined Fourth Street on the northern edge of Lafayette Park.

Protesters gather peacefully at Lafayette

WATKINS GLEN, June 2, 2020 -- Scores of people turned out Tuesday at Lafayette Park in Watkins Glen to express through signs their stand in solidarity with protesters around the country looking for systemic change after the death last week of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis.

The daylong event, organized by 2018 Odessa-Montour High School graduate Alec Betts, started slowly, with three people and then four on hand, holding signs along the roadway at the northern edge of the park, where Fourth Street passes by.

A number of motorists honked as they passed, some flashing a thumbs-up sign. A handful of others used a different digit, and one man rolled his pickup truck window down to deliver a repetitive expletive.

As the day progressed, the number of protesters and signs grew to two dozen and then twice that, the line beside Fourth Street stretching along a large portion of the block. As traffic picked up through the afternoon, so did the number of people honking, almost all apparently in unity with the sign holders.

At mid-afternoon, Democratic congressional candidate Tracy Mitrano -- having been notified by a local supporter -- arrived and spoke to a few of the protesters, and spent some time talking to Betts. Then, suddenly and loudly, she offered a five-minute speech -- a forceful support of the movement behind the day's event.

"What we are accompishing here," she said "is what we must begin with to make the change we want. We are accomplishing a human connection. We are accomplishing what you felt when you watched that video of George Floyd dying at the hands of law enforcement, the very people we want to believe in and trust. You are here because you feel the connection even if you are not an African American or a minority. You feel the connection in your heart to what you saw as something that is not right and must be fixed. It is against American principles of the rule of law and a basic inherent sense of justice."

She went on in that vein, asking a couple of times "Where's Tom?" -- a reference to incumbent Republican Congressman Tom Reed, her opponent in the November election.

A large portion of the protesters were young adults -- and they stayed for hours , standing with their signs along the curb, waving to passing motorists who honked to them. Many of them were graduates in recent years at Watkins Glen High School -- among them Grace Wickham, Megan Hazlitt, Luke Flahive, Kai Sutterby, Allie Gibson, Kathleen Swinnerton (with her sister Sarah, this year's WGHS salutatorian), Hanley Elliott and Mariah Gonzalez. There were also at least a couple of alumni representatives from Odessa-Montour High School -- Betts, who organized the event, and Manley Gavich.

Betts -- who generated interest in Tuesday's gathering in roughly a day -- thanked the participants later in a letter (see Forum), and indicated another protest might be coming this weekend. If so, it will be an event with more planning time than he allowed himself for Tuesday's gathering

Photos in text:

From top: Organizer Alec Betts, congressional candidate Tracy Mitrano, and WGHS alum and current college student Kai Sutterby.

Left: WGHS alum Kathleen Swinnerton was among the participants. Right: Some signs were simple and to the point.

Left: WGHS alum Hanley Elliott, left, and Mariah Gonzalez display their signs.
Right: Odessa-Montour alum Manley Gavich with his sign.

Congressional candidate Tracy Mitrano, left, and event organizer Alec Betts talk.

The gathering honoring the departing library director, Gayle Greuber, standing at right.

Peterson Library bids farewell to Greuber

Special to The Odessa File

ODESSA, June 1, 2020 -- A small farewell gathering was held for Gayle Greuber at the Dutton Peterson Memorial Library recently amid the Covid pandemic.

Greuber, the Director of the Library for over 26 years, is moving to North Carolina to be closer to her daughter and son-in-law.

A memorial quilt was designed and made for Greuber by one of the Library Board members, MaryAnn Cleary. Kim Laursen, another Board member, composed a farewell song in Greuber's honor.

A Little Free Library will be set up near the walkway behind the library (by the Carpenter-Sand Book Barn) that will house free books for the public to enjoy. One may borrow, keep or add to this glass-paneled "mailbox" type structure. It is a take-a-book, give-a-book library being dedicated to Greuber. Look for this once the crisis is over.

Photo in text: Honoree Gayle Greuber, left, inspects the memorial quilt made for her.

Banners featuring Hometown Heroes hang from brackets affixed to poles along Odessa's Main Street.

Odessa honors its Hometown Heroes
with a banner campaign, village ceremony

ODESSA, May 23, 2020 -- A small group of village and committee officials along with three honorees on Saturday celebrated the Village of Odessa’s Hometown Heroes program, whereby more than three dozen photo banners -- each honoring an Odessa resident who has served in the U.S. military -- have been affixed to poles along Main Street.

Peggy Tomassi of The Hometown Heroes Committee oversaw the ceremony, held outside the Odessa Municipal Building. The gathering was not announced in advance, in order to avoid drawing a crowd in this age of social distancing. Other committee members are Lisa and Terry Eccleston and Rita Decker.

Mayor Gerry Messmer -- a retired Army lieutenant colonel and himself one of the honorees -- was on hand with his wife Cathy. Other honorees present were Steve LoPresti, an Army veteran, and Kristine Gardner, who saw service in the Navy. Pastor Kevin Austin offered a closing prayer.

Tomassi thanked the village for supporting the project -- and especially the trio of men who put the banners up earlier in the week: Steve Siptrott, Mike Tomassi and Ty Rogers.

LoPresti said that he likes the fact that each banner carries a photo, noting that often veterans are merely a part of lists. “It’s nice to put a face with a veteran,” he said.

Gardner said that she fought through adversity in the Navy, and “came out a different person, for the better.” She said she returned to her hometown -- where she once starred on the school’s girls varsity basketball team -- because of its warm and welcoming nature.

Mayor Messmer said he viewed his banner as not so much a personal honor as “a reminder to everybody of the sacrifice” shown by men and women across the country’s history “to make America what it is today. It’s very humbling.”

The 38 banners -- “there will be more,” Ms. Tomassi observed -- honor the following:

--Cpl. Patrick R. Tomassi, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 2012-2016, seeing duty in the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan.

--Sgt. E5 James S. Bower, who served with the 7th Army in the Vietnam War. His duty ran from 1961 to 1967.

--LCPL Ernest R. Wheeler, Jr., who served with the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, from 1961-64,.

--Larry W. Reynolds, who served with the Marine Corps during Vietnam, from 1969-71.

--Sgt. Kyle R. Bailey, who served with the Army from 2013-19 in Operation Inherent Resolve.

--Hubert E. Letteer, who served in the Navy during World War II, from 1942-46.

--Howard T. Searles, who served with the Army in the 7th Infantry Division, 31st Regiment during the Korean War from 1951-53.

--Capt. Francis C. Ward, who served with the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II, from 1942-46.

--Thomas W. Letteer Sr., who served with the Army inWorld War II, from 1942-46.

--Ted E. Dudgeon, who served with the Army from 1988-99 as an M-1 Tanker in the Gulf War.

--Timothy E. Whitted, who served with the Navy during Desert Storm, 1990-96.

--Osco W. Peterson, who served with the Navy as a Radioman Second Class in World War II.

--Lt. Dutton S. Peterson, who served with the Marine Corps’ Fighting 5th, 2nd Division in World War I.

--Robert E. Soule, who served with the Navy during World War II, from 1944-46.

--Martin E. Eccleston, who served with the Navy as an E-5 Petty Officer in the Persian Gulf.

--Sgt. Ronald L. Parmenter, who served with the Army during Vietnam, from 1966-68.

--Brittany A. Angle, who served with the Navy from 2006-12, aboard the USS Harry S. Truman.

--John R. Hall, Jr., who served with the Navy from 1953-57.

--Peter F. Ward, who served with the Army from 1954-56.

-- James R. Drake Sr., who served with the Navy from 1953-57.

--SP5 Jeffrey L. Dense, who served with the Army during the Cold War, from 1979-82.

--Thomas Leslie Couch, who served with the Army from 1953-54.

--Merritt (Skeet) Seymour, who served with the Navy from 1956-59.

--Willard A. Daugherty, who served with the Navy from 1945-47.

--Danny G. Daugherty, who served with the Navy during Vietnam, from 1971-74.

--SrA Jeffrey Parmenter, who served with the Air Force during the Kosovo War, from 1996-2000.

--Donald W. Cutton, who served with the Army during the Korean War, from 1952-54.

--Jamie A. Gerdes, who served with the Marine Corps from 1993-97.

--John T. Senka, who served with the Army from 1968-73.

--Jason G. Fowler, who served with the Marine Corps from 1992-96.

--LTC Gerry Messmer, who served with the Army from 1986-2017, serving in Q.E.F. and Afghanistan and as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

--SSGT Scott Salzer, who served with the Air Force from 1981-93, including the Gulf War.

--Sgt. Dillon Salzer, who served with the Army from 2010-14 in Operation Enduring Freedom.

--Kristine C. Gardner, who served with the Navy from 2012-17 in the Persian Gulf.

--Ashley E. Schroth, who served with the Air Force from 1999-2009, with duty in the Persian Gulf.

--Alice LoPresti, who served with the Army in World War II.

--Steven LoPresti, who served with the Army in the Vietnam War, from 1965-68.

--Bernard MacDougall, who served with the Navy in the Vietnam War, from 1966-70.

Photos in text:

From top: Honorees (from left) Kristine Gardner, Steven LoPresti and Gerry Messmer; Peggy Tomassi leads the ceremony; earlier in the week, Steve Siptrott helped place the banners on brackets affixed to poles; Kevin Austin delivers a closing prayer.

Forest puts hold on overnight camping

Special to The Odessa File

HECTOR, May 15, 2020 -- USDA Forest Service officials in New York are temporarily closing overnight camping and the use of restroom facilities throughout the Finger Lakes National Forest. This is in alignment with current federal and state guidance to ensure the health and safety of employees, visitors and volunteers.

“These difficult decisions are not taken lightly. They consider the current risk to public health, the national effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, and the local community desire to access public lands.” said John Sinclair, Forest Supervisor of the Green Mountain and Finger Lakes National Forests. “Restricting access to recreational sites is a particularly difficult decision for the Forest Service, but health and safety concerns during this pandemic must be taken seriously.”

Areas impacted by the current Forest Closure include overnight camping and use of restroom facilities (privies).

While overnight camping on the Finger Lakes National Forest has been temporarily restricted, the majority of the National Forest remains open. Officials recommended the following while recreating on public lands:

--Avoid visiting the forest if you are sick.
--Stay at least six feet apart from others, including having your dog on a leash and close to you.
--Be cautious and choose low-risk activities to avoid injury. This will help lower the burden on our hospitals and health care system.
--Take your trash with you when you leave. Trash overflowing the receptacles becomes litter and can be harmful to wildlife and attract predators.
--Please make arrangements to use the restroom before or after your visit to the forest as the restroom facilities on the National Forest remain locked. Unmanaged waste creates a health hazard for Forest Service employees and for visitors.
--If an area is crowded, look for a less occupied location or return at a later time. Consider avoiding the forest during high-use periods.

Everyone is urged to take the precautions recommended by the CDC:

For up-to-date information on the Finger Lakes National Forest, visit:

Noms sought to honor pandemic heroism

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, May 7, 2020 Area residents are invited to nominate people who have displayed everyday heroism in recent months as the region coped with the COVID-19 crisis.

The Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce has launched “Inspire FLX,” a program designed to collect and publicize inspiring stories of actions large and small undertaken by Finger Lakes residents in support of friends, neighbors, co-workers, organizations in need, and others.

“As our region prepares to begin the phased process of reopening, it is important to remember and celebrate all the ways we helped each other through this unprecedented time,” said Rebekah Carroll, Executive Director of the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce. “Whether it’s someone who delivered you a much-needed grocery item in the midst of a shortage or a business leader who rose to the occasion on behalf of their employees, Inspire FLX will give everyone in our region a way to recognize each other and celebrate the heroism so many of us witnessed over this period of time.”

Residents are encouraged to use the form, located at, to submit stories of heroism to be shared and celebrated. Some stories may be shared on the related Inspire FLX Facebook page ( and Carroll says some nominees will be recognized at a regional celebration to be scheduled when gathering restrictions are lifted throughout the state.

The nomination form asks users to submit contact information for their nominee, as well as details on the reason for the nomination, including which Inspire FLX value the action aligns most strongly with among the following: Kindness, Philanthropy, Generosity, and Selflessness.

Inspire FLX is open to anyone in the Finger Lakes Region. You do not need to be a member of the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce to nominate or be nominated

The Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce serves nearly 500 members and continues to grow. Its members include sole proprietors, small businesses, home businesses, corporations, and non-profits. Members hail from Montour Falls, Watkins Glen, Corning, Elmira, Hammondsport, Penn Yan, Geneva, Ithaca, Binghamton, and all points in between. The Chamber’s mission is to advance economic success through support, promotion, and education. Its vision is to be an invaluable partner and resource. For more information, visit

Jean Hubsch of Tyrone elected president of Schuyler County Historical Society Board

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, April 28, 2020 -- Jean Hubsch of Tyrone is returning to the role of president of the Schuyler County Historical Society Board of Trustees.

Hubsch has been associated with the Historical Society for at least 20 years and previously served as board president from 2015-18.

The recent board election was planned for the Historical Society’s annual membership dinner meeting, scheduled for Thursday, April 30, at the Burdett Fire Department. With the meeting’s cancellation, Historical Society members were invited to participate in the election via mail-in ballots. Voting ended April 17.

Martha Evans and Julie Morris, both of Burdett, were elected to serve as new board trustees. Re-elected were Jane Leszyk of Watkins Glen as treasurer and Claudia LaFace and Kelsey Wood as trustees. All board terms begin May 1.

“Like our state, nation and world, the Society is at a crossroads,” Hubsch said. “The future is much more uncertain now than it was just a few months ago. Life is surreal as we live through the COVID-19 pandemic. We have had loyal and wonderful staff, volunteers and members, and I am optimistic that we will emerge stronger than ever. These events have emphasized that history repeats itself, and we will continue to preserve it for Schuyler County.”

Hubsch thanked Paul Bartow, who led the Historical Society as board president for the last two years.

“Paul’s vision for the Society, especially in the area of digitization, launched us on a path that is opening our collections to everyone, anywhere, through the Internet and social media. We’re grateful for the energy and enthusiasm he gave to the board, museum operations and interactions with the public,” she said.

Hubsch was Society board treasurer for nine years and has served or continues to serve on several committees. Her talents as a hand embroiderer are recognized in the region, especially in the style of surface embroidery and stumpwork. Her career included work in the pharmaceutical industry, teaching chemistry instrumentation at Elmira College and serving as a volunteer interpretive ranger for the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. She has lived in Schuyler County for 30 years, currently on Lamoka Lake with her husband, Bob DeYager.

New trustees Morris and Evans also have been involved with the Historical Society’s work through the years.

Morris was a longtime museum volunteer when she took over the director’s position from 2016-18. She was an elementary school teacher and continues to substitute at B.C. Cate Elementary School in Montour Falls. She moved to Schuyler County in 2005 and is married to retired Schuyler County Judge Dennis Morris.

Evans also is a retired educator. She taught in the Watkins Glen Elementary School for 30 years and at Elmira College as an adjunct professor for 10 years. She is a lifelong resident of Burdett and currently serves as a village board trustee and as village historian. She frequently welcomes visitors to the Historical Society’s Lee School Museum, playing the role of “school marm.” She is married to Richard Evans.

The Schuyler County Historical Society captures the history of the county at the Brick Tavern Museum, Wickham Rural Life Center and Lee School, all in Montour Falls. The Society’s museums are currently closed until further notice due to concerns for community health. The Historical Society is supported in part by a TAP grant administered by the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce.

Photo in text: Jean Hubsch (Photo provided).

A list of food sources in Schuyler County

The following was sent to The Odessa File by reader Sandra Bartone. It there are any businesses that should be on this list but are not, contact us here and we'll add them. For any corrections or changes, likewise.

Groceries that are available (besides Tops, Wal-Mart)

--Sunset View Creamery, Odessa, 594-2095, Weekends 10-5pm., Weekdays 3-7pm
--Seneca Harbor Station, groceries for Curb Side Pick Up, Tuesdays and Saturdays, go to
--Stone Cat Café, 546-5000, Fri., Start  4/16, Fish Fry 3-7 pm, Groceries Fri. 12-6 pm, Order Sat.-Thurs.
--Hector Wine Company has created a remarkable market to help our community through these days. They offer so many local goods so we get to support so many of our businesses with one stop. See the website for a comprehensive list of groceries.
--Dollar General, 607-210-0119, all days, 7 am-9pm

Restaurants that are offering take out:
Watkins Glen/Montour Falls/Rock Stream/Dundee/Odessa

--Curly’s (607) 535-4383, Weekdays, 8:00 am- 6:00pm, Closed: Sat. and Sun.
--Bleachers Sports Bar, Take-out 11:30-1, Sunday, 10:00-12:00 (607) 535-6705
--DeCoy  535-2607 Open Wed.- Sat. 4:00-10:00, Closed Sun., Mon., Tues.
--Jerlando’s Take-out (607) 535-4254. Weekdays,11am- 9 pm, Weekends, 11-10
--Jerlando’s Montour Falls. Every day, 11am- 8 pm
--Burger King (607) 535-7280
--Babcha’s Pierogies (607) 302-2306, Take-out Wed- Sat. 4:00pm-8:00 pm
--Thai Elephant (607) 210-4168, Take-out 11:30 am- 8:00 pm, Closed Wednesday
--Glen Mountain Market, 535-6900, Sun. 7-2, Other days, 7-3pm
--Art and Nancy’s, 535-9714, Weekdays 6 am-3 pm, Closed Sat. and Sun.
--El Rancho 607-210-4497, Fri.- Sat. 11am-1am, Sun.-Tues.11-9 pm Closed Wed.
--Maria’s 535-2188, 11:00 am-2 pm, 4 pm-7 pm
--Dunkin’ Donuts, Everyday 5:00 am-5:00pm, 535-7572
--Pudgies, 607-210-6200, Fri.- Sat. 10am- 11pm, Sun.-Thurs., 10am-10pm.
--Scuteri’s Cannoli Connection, 535-7568, Fri.-Sat. 10am- 8pm, Thurs 12-5 pastries only
--Landon’s 535-9911, Open every day, 11am-1 am
--Holy Cow, Opening 4/20,  607-210-4369  Call or email for new hours.
--Graft, 607-210-4324, Fri. and Sat. 4-7 pm.   
-- Seneca Sunrise Coffee, 607-228-7930, call or text orders. Hours Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 8-5:30 or call for appt. Fresh produce picked up Tuesday nights and available Wednesday. Prefer orders to keep social distancing. Stock locally produced foods of many kinds.
--Seneca Lodge, Opening Soon, 535-2014
--Sinclair-Lakes Gas, 535-2523, Open Sun., 5-11 a.m. daily, groceries/pizza, subs, etc.
--Subway, 607 535-4825, call for hours
--Linda’s Citgo, 535-4165, Montour, Sat. 6am-10:30 pm, Sun. 6am-10 pm, Weekdays 5am-10:30pm
--Arby’s, 535-9609, Every day 10 am- 10 pm
--Chef’s, 535-9975, call for hours
--Paradiso's Village Bakery, (607) 210-4346, Mon- Fri 6am-2 pm full menu, 2-5pm soup/pasties/coffee. Weekends 6 am-2 pm
--Bucket Bar and Grill, 594-7010, Mon.-Thurs. 11-6, Fri. 11-7, Sat., Outside, 11-2
--Blue Ribbon Diner, 607-228-5022, Thurs-Fri. 6am-8 pm, Sat. 6-2, Sun. 6am-12noon, Mon-Wed. 6am-2pm
--FLX Wienery, (607) 243-7100, take-out, 11:30 am- 6:30 pm, Fri. 11:30- 9:00, Closed Tuesday


--Red Newt, Open at 11:00 (607) 546-4100
--Dandy Mini Mart, (607) 546-5064, Weekdays 6am-7pm, Weekends, 7am- 7pm
--Toni’s Diner, Hector, (607) 546-8066, Take-out, 8:00-2:00, Close at 1:00 on Sunday
--Stone Cat Café, 546-5000, Fri., Start  4/16, Fish Fry 3-7 pm, Groceries Fri. 12-6 pm, Order Sat.-Thurs
--Lucky Hare, (607) 546-2030, Hours 3pm - 7pm, Closed Mon.-Tues.
--Elf in the Oak, Open Fri., Sat., and Sun.,9am-6pm, (607) 546-4641
--Ryan Williams Vineyard, (607) 882-9098, Fri.-Sat.10am-4pm., Sun.,10am-2 pm. Delivery by appointment.
--Smok’n Bones, Thurs-Sun.4:30-8, Fri.-Sat. 4:30-9, Closed Mon-Tues,. 546-7999
--Scale House Brewery, 607-546-2030, 3pm-8pm

Ice Cream

--Great Escape Ice Cream, 535-7354, Pre-order pick-up, 10am-2pm, Thurs-Sun.,12-5 pm. You can set up a delivery.
--Ben & Jerry's, process catering requests all year round, 607-535-4131.
--Glen Dairy Bar, 535-2757, 12:00-8:30pm, Open all week.
--Colonial Pottery and Creamery, 535-7545, Call for hours and what is available.

Robotics team receives donation from Cargill and helps fight pandemic after tourneys axed

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, April 11, 2020 -- Amid the disappointment of a shortened season and many uncertainties surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, a local youth robotics team rolls with the ups and downs -- and in the process is utilizing robotics skills to help produce protective face shields for hospital workers.

Mechanical Meltdown, the Watkins Glen-based youth robotics team, recently experienced one of the “up” moments when it received a $7,500 donation from Cargill Incorporated. Each year the team goes through the entire engineering process of designing, building, and programming a new robot to perform different challenges. Cargill has been a consistent supporter of the program, and this contribution will be used to purchase parts, tools, software, and equipment to assist with the students’ STEM education.

Mechanical Meltdown -- currently with five members (Kaden Loucks, Lucas Hunter, Ian Hunter, Ellenanne Mansfield and Alex Coble), but hoping to recruit more when the pandemic passes -- is part of the Excelsior FIRST Tech Challenge community, which consists of 110 teams and encompasses all of New York State except the five boroughs of NYC and Long Island. After a series of regional qualifying tournaments, 36 of those teams, including Mechanical Meltdown, earned advancement to the Regional Championship. The team was disappointed when that event, which had been scheduled for mid-March, was canceled as the Coronavirus began to show up in New York.

In lieu of the regional competition, teams were selected to advance according to FIRST criteria based on their performance at the qualifiers. Mechanical Meltdown was among the five teams that had won both of the top awards, so it earned a spot to compete in the Detroit World Championship for the third year in a row. The team’s excitement soared, but then crashed again two weeks later, when the World Championship was also canceled along with all large gatherings across the country as the pandemic spread.

Although the team is unable to meet due to the lockdown, its members continue putting their STEM skills to good use. As the world battles the Coronavirus, several team members are doing their part by using 3D printers to make protective face shields for hospital workers. Their efforts are part of a project organized by volunteers at Ithaca Generator. According to team member Lucas Hunter, "One thing that I never thought I would be doing on a robotics team would be helping to save people's lives. I thought I would just be having some fun building robots while learning different aspects of engineering."

Hunter adds that he is also getting extra practice on the skills he learned at robotics.

"The fun thing about 3D printing is that it never works -- you always have to be fixing it and testing new things and learning from people." The printers need to be checked about every two hours, and the youths faithfully keep this schedule as they also continue their schoolwork from home.

Lucas’ mother, Terrie, shared  her thoughts on seeing healthcare workers wearing the shields on the news and internet. “When you see them, you know why you’re doing it. It makes you feel good,” she said.

So far team members have produced over 300 face shields, which have been sent to the front lines in New York City. They plan to continue printing as long as the shortage continues.

Mechanical Meltdown is part of FLARE – Finger Lakes Area Robotics Education. The program is open to youth in grades 7-12, with current students from Trumansburg, Watkins Glen, Horseheads, and homeschoolers. For more information, call Kathy at (607) 546-2207 or e-mail

Photos in text:

Top: Brothers Lucas (left) and Ian Hunter with face-shield frames. (Photos provided)
Bottom: Lucas Hunter wearing a shield, left, and watching a 3D printer creating a shield.

While a cloth face covering is recommended, "it does not replace our distancing efforts"

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, April 7, 2020 -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now recommending that people voluntarily wear cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain – such as grocery stores and pharmacies – in order to combat the community spread of COVID-19

According to Deborah Minor, Schuyler County Public Health Director (pictured at right), “Cloth face coverings do not replace social distancing, handwashing, or other protective actions. These should be considered an additional protective measure in our fight to stop the transmission of COVID-19. These coverings help to slow the spread, primarily by reducing the risk of someone giving the virus to others -- especially when that someone may have the virus but does not know it.”

The CDC reports that cloth face coverings should:

-- Include multiple layers of fabric.
-- Allow for breathing without restriction.
-- Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face.
-- Be secured with ties or ear loops.
-- Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape.

The recommended cloth face coverings are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Surgical masks and respirators are in short supply and must continue to be reserved for medical first responders, Minor said, adding:

“This CDC recommendation does not replace -- but rather, it complements -- our social distancing efforts. It is critical that we continue to wash our hands regularly, cover our coughs, stay at home whenever possible and maintain 6-feet social distancing in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

For more information on this CDC recommendation and instructions on how to make cloth face coverings at home, visit or click here.

If you have a fever, cough, or trouble breathing, says Public Health, you should call your healthcare provider for instructions. Schuyler County residents can also visit the Cayuga Health System sampling site in Ithaca. Learn more about the sampling site in Ithaca and register to attend by visiting If you are a Schuyler County resident and have concerns about transportation to the sampling site in Ithaca, call Schuyler Hospital at 607-535-8602.

For more information about COVID-19, visit Schuyler County Public Health online at or follow Schuyler County Public Health on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Photo: Schuyler County Public Health Director Deborah Minor. (File photo)

Public shows support through donations for Cayuga Health and its two hospitals

Special to The Odessa File

ITHACA, April 2, 2020 -- The Cayuga Medical Center Foundation has taken the lead to organize an online resource and drop-off center to better coordinate and engage volunteers and to be able to accept and coordinate donation items.

The donations will be used at all Cayuga Health locations including its two hospitals, Cayuga Medical Center and Schuyler Hospital.  The foundation has witnessed what it calls "an incredible amount of community activity and support in a matter of two short weeks."

“The outpouring of support from the individuals, organization and community groups has been heart-warming and appreciated,” said Martin Stallone, President & CEO of Cayuga Health. “ To Cornell University, Borg Warner, numerous local small businesses, and the many volunteers who are helping sew masks and fill in wherever they can ... Thank You! This is truly a one-of-a-kind community. And to our incredible health care teams who risk their safety on the front lines and work very long hours away from family ... Thank You!” 

A complete list of the donation items needed is listed here. Drop-off locations can be found in both Tompkins and Schuyler Counties:

Tompkins County:

Cayuga Medical Center Foundation -- 767 Warren Road | Ithaca | 8 am-5 pm M-F and  9 am-3 pm weekends

Trumansburg Fire Station -- 74 West Main Street | Trumansburg | All Hours

Cornell Campus Bartels Hall -- 554 Campus Road | Ithaca | 8 am-3 pm M-F

Schuyler County:

Tops Friendly Markets -- 504 1/2 South Franklin Street | Watkins Glen | 6 am-10 pm daily at Customer Service Desk

Dandy Mini Marts, Inc. -- 102 Main Street | Odessa | 8 am-5 pm daily to any cashier

Glen Motor Inn -- 3380 NY-14 | Watkins Glen | 10 am-2 pm Daily to Front Desk 

“Cayuga Health is proud to support our physicians, nurses, healthcare professionals, and administrators who are working tirelessly to respond to the COVID-19 crisis while continuing to provide high-level care to our region,” added Stallone. “We simply could not do this without all of you. You are making a difference!”

Want to help but not sure how? Visit to learn more about donating materials, volunteering or contributing to the Cayuga Health COVID-19 Response Fund.

About Cayuga Health

Cayuga Health (CH) has two hospitals, Cayuga Medical Center and Schuyler Hospital, as well as a multi-specialty group, Cayuga Medical Associates. Combined employment, including affiliated organizations, is over 2,200 employees. CHS is clinically linked to Mayo Medical Laboratories, Rochester Regional Health for cardiac services, Roswell Park for cancer services, and the University of Rochester for neurosciences.

Schuyler resident tests positive

Marks 1st confirmed COVID-19 case in the county

(Note: Since this story, three more cases were confirmed as of April 2)

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, March 27, 2020Schuyler County Public Health announced Friday afternoon that a Schuyler County resident has tested positive for COVID-19, the novel coronavirus.

The individual has been isolated and is being monitored by Schuyler County Public Health, whose staff are currently identifying close contacts of the confirmed case and any exposure risks. Individuals with exposure risk are currently being quarantined and monitored for symptoms.

“We have prepared for COVID-19 to arrive in Schuyler County,” said Deborah Minor, Public Health Director (pictured at right). “We ask that people please stay home as much as possible and limit contact with others. We need to slow down how quickly the virus spreads in the community. This will help make sure our hospitals don’t get overwhelmed by too many sick people at once.

COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you develop these symptoms, immediately call your healthcare provider for instructions

Schuyler County Public Health said it recommends community members take the following actions to protect themselves, their family, and the overall community from COVID-19:

--Stay home and practice social distancing, leaving your home only for absolute necessities. Consider getting items like prescriptions mailed to your home.

--Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. 

--Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

--Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as faucet handles and doorknobs.

--Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

--Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If you don’t have a tissue available, cough or sneeze into your elbow.

--Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.

--Do not return to work or school until you have been fever-free for 24 hours.

--Monitor and treat any mild symptoms at home with over-the-counter medicine as appropriate. If you have a fever, cough, or shortness of breath, call your health care provider for instructions.

For current and accurate information, visit the CDC website at or the New York State Health Department (NYSDOH) website at Members of the public can also call the NYSDOH 24/7 hotline if they have general questions about COVID-19. The hotline number is 1-888-364-3065.

For more information, visit Schuyler County Public Health online at or follow Schuyler County Public Health on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Photo in text: Public Health Director Deborah Minor.

Kyle Frasier, driving a Bobcat, delivers the Sharing Shed to a spot at the rear of the church as Drew Guild, a member of the church, directs.

Barnie Parker Sharing Shed -- with items filling basic needs -- is put into service

CATHARINE CORNERS, March 21, 2020 -- In a small agricultural community in the Finger Lakes where there are more cows than people, a small country church that has been around for 210 years is going one step further to help those in need.

The Barnie Parker Sharing Shed -- planned for the past year -- was hastened into service outside St. John’s Episcopal Church of Catharine (County Rd.14 &15 intersection) Saturday, hoping to provide the community with basic needs during this sudden pandemic. It plans to offer boxed foods, adult diapers, and feminine hygiene, to cleaning products and more. And there will be prayer cards for those who might need a sense of hope and dreams.

It’s all part of St John’s “Know Your Neighbor”program. The shed was activated at noon on Saturday, March 21 -- and will be open 24/7. It is for anyone in need, with no questions asked.

It was built by Kyle Frasier of Hoffman Farms over the past couple of weeks, construction taking place on the farm. Frasier delivered the shed to the church Saturday morning, hoisting it and transporting it with a Bobcat.

But while the Sharing Shed opened with an array of donated items, it needs more, so the church is issuing a call to the community to help supply them. A list of needed items appears below. Donations can be delivered to the shed and placed inside it at any time, day or night. It is located at the rear corner of the church.

Barnie Parker (pictured at right), who died in 2018, was a school teacher for decades in the Odessa-Montour School District. He was also a long-time parishioner of St. John’s Episcopal Church of Catharine. His children and the church thought it was a great way to remember him and his work by building a shed to help families in need.

“Caring for those in need is one of the greatest expressions of love," said Father Abi John, Priest-in-Charge at St John’s. "We, the beloved community at John’s Episcopal, with all humility, invite you to join our 'Love Movement' to eradicate the hunger in the Catharine-Odessa area. To realize the dream of Jesus, 'Give us this day our daily food,' we urge your hearts and contributions to be our partners in attending those in need. Loving God is nothing but loving people.”

The list of needed items follows.

Peanut butter
Canned tuna, ham, chicken
Canned soups, stews, chili with pull-tops
Granola / protein bars
Oatmeal, cereal, etc.
Vitamins / supplements
Bread / crackers
Baby food
Pediasure / protein drinks for adults or children
Shelf-stable milk
Beans / lentils
Kitchen Staples (flour, sugar, salt & pepper)
Pasta sauce
One-box meals

Shampoo / conditioner
Bar soap
Toothpaste / toothbrushes / floss
Brushes / combs
Body wash
Feminine care products
Children’s bath products (baby wash, lotion, diaper cream, wipes, etc)
Adult Diapers are in need too

Toilet paper
Paper towels
Dish soap
Laundry Detergent
Cooking utensils (spatulas, measuring cups / spoons, etc)
Baby wipes

For more information, contact Drew Guild at If you wish to provide a monetary donation, make out your check to St. John's Episcopal and mail it to the church at 4938 County Road 14, Odessa, NY 14869.

Photos in text:

Top: Nameplace on the door of the shed. It was made by Kyle Frasier.
Second: Barnie Parker (Photo provided)
Third: Some of the items donated before the Sharing Shed opened. More are needed.
Fourth: The interior of the Sharing Shed, before it was stocked with donated goods.

Rural doctor talk at museum reset to May 2

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, March 13, 2020 -- The work of Dr. William S. Gillmor, a doctor in the town of Hector in the late 1800s, will be the focus of a talk Saturday, May 2, at the Brick Tavern Museum.

The talk was originally scheduled for Saturday, March 21. The talk was re-scheduled due to community health concerns.

In his presentation “A Tale of Three Doctors,” Gillmor’s great-grandson Charles Fausold of Hector will describe the interconnectedness of Gillmor, Dr. Roswell Park and Dr. Peyton Rous. Fausold is a retired Extension specialist with Cornell University.

The free talk will be at 1 p.m.

The Schuyler County Historical Society is honoring the 100th anniversary of the chartering of Schuyler Hospital with a special exhibit about the hospital’s history at the Brick Tavern Museum. The exhibit will be on display through May 2.

The museum is located at 108 N. Catharine St./Route 14, Montour Falls. Hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursday 2-8 p.m. Admission is free.

For more information, contact the Schuyler County Historical Society at (607) 535-9741 or

Harvesting Schuyler's Heritage series plans dinner, Beef Cattle Production talk March 11

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Feb. 27, 2020 -- The Harvesting Schuyler’s Heritage, Conversations About Agriculture Across Time speaker series kicks off the 2020 schedule on Wednesday, March 11, with a session on the history of beef cattle production in the county.

The talk will be hosted by the Burdett Fire Department, which will offer a meatloaf dinner made with local grass-fed beef. Serving will be from 5:30-6:30 p.m. The price will be $8.

Harvesting Schuyler’s Heritage is a project of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schuyler County and the Schuyler County Historical Society. The free talks consider agricultural sectors in the county, with a look at their histories and what’s happening in those areas today. Six sessions will be hosted at sites across the county this year

Mark Welch, manager of the Hector Grazing Association, and distinguished cattle breeder Robert Groom will speak starting at 6 p.m.

Welch will discuss the history of the Grazing Association dating back to the 1940s. Groom, a Grazing Association member and active in the New York Angus Association, will talk about the evolution of beef cattle production over the past 100 years

2020 Harvesting Schuyler’s Heritage topics also will include dairy production in April, sheep farming in May, the historic highland farming communities of Schuyler County in June, hay and other field crops in September and distilling in October.

Contact Cooperative Extension at (607) 535-7161 or the Historical Society at (607) 535-9741 for more information.

Glen Baptist Church welcomes new pastor

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Feb. 23, 2020 -- The Glen Baptist Church held an installation service on January 26 for its new pastor, Paul R. Brown.

He and his wife, Rebekah, came to the church on January 5 after he served as an Assistant Pastor for seven years at the Open Door Baptist Church in New Woodstock, NY. They have two daughters, ages 3 years and 4 months.

Pastor Brown graduated from Faith Baptist Bible College in Ankeny, Iowa and has several graduate credits toward his Masters Degree. He enjoys watching the Buffalo Bills, playing basketball and hunting.

Glen Baptist Church says it is "a Bible-believing church seeking to minister to the whole family. Our Sunday services include Sunday School starting at 9:45 a.m., worship service at 11:00 a.m., and Sunday evening service at 5:30 p.m. with a Bible message given by Pastor Brown. We offer Word of Life Clubs for ages 4 through teen which are also on Sunday evening from 5:30-7:00 p.m. A nursery is provided during the Sunday morning and evening services. Children ages 4 through 2nd grade are dismissed for Children’s Church during the morning worship service.

"We also have a Prayer Meeting on Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m. "

Pastor Brown, it adds, " is an accomplished speaker teaching from the Bible on answers to life’s problems. We invite you to come visit our church and worship with us. We are located at 3311 Reading Road, Watkins Glen (one mile north of Watkins Glen on Route 14). All are welcome."

Photo in text: Pastor Paul R. Brown wih his wife Rebekah and their two daughters. (Photo provided)

Family gathers in grief after deadly fire

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Feb. 5, 2020 -- Family members of the two people who died in a Tuesday morning fire in a house on County Route 28 in the Town of Reading shared their grief in an appearance Wednesday before TV cameras.

Twenty-year-old Katlyn Kernan and her two-year-old nephew Duane Kernan died in Tuesday's blaze.

Appearing on camera on WETM-TV were Duane's mother, Cheyenne Williams, who said "He was my baby. I lost my son, and I'm only 21 ... He loved everyone," as well as cats and dogs. "And his favorite person was my father."

That grandfather, Charles Griswold, said of young Duane: "He'd come running to me and say 'Papa.' ... The void I had in my life, he filled it for me. And now he's gone."

And Duane's father, Kevin Kernan, said of the grief he was visibly feeling at the loss not only of his son, but of his sister: "I don't wish this on anyone."

The fire, still under investigation Wednesday, broke out in the Kernan family home alongside Route 28, up the hill from Watkins Glen, at midmorning Tuesday. Firefighters from around the region raced to the scene to battle the blaze, which spread quickly through the large wood structure. The bodies of the two victims were found inside.

While the Schuyler County Sheriff's Department was following protocol, awaiting the result of autopsies for positive identification before naming the victims, the family felt no such restriction. In addition, the identities of the two were common knowledge on the street by Tuesday afternoon.

One result the same day was postponement of a Watkins Glen High School girls basketball game Tuesday night -- Katlyn Kernan's sister Kelsey being a member of that team.

Katlyn Kernan, in fact, was a member of the school's New York State championship basketball team in 2017. Photos of the team with their trophy-- Katlyn smiling among them -- can still be seen on walls in the high school office and the WGHS Field House.

She was also a valued member of the school's varsity softball team -- a talented catcher who could also hit exceptionally well. She graduated from WGHS in 2018.


A house has been donated by a community member rent-free to the Kernan family for two months, and donations of furniture and household items are being sought. Two GoFundMe accounts have been estiablished by friends, one of which raised $11,444 of a $20,000 goal by late Wednesday night.

Cash donations may be made to the Kernan Family Memorial Fund at the Chemung Canal Trust Company office in Watkins Glen, and donations of clothing and household items may be dropped off at Landon's Pub and Pizza, 110 Fourth St. in Watkins Glen, or at Montour Motors, 132 N. Catharine St., Montour Falls.

In addition, Infinity Salon, 103 Third St. in Watkins Glen, will be offering haircuts in return for donations for the family on Sunday, Feb. 9 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Photos in text:

Duane Kernan (Provided)
Katlyn Kernan (Provided)

Burdett resident to discuss farm heritage

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Feb. 2, 2020 -- The Village of Burdett’s bicentennial celebration is continuing, with a talk about agriculture on Sunday, Feb. 9, by Burdett resident Heather O’Grady-Evans.

O’Grady-Evans will speak about “Agricultural Paradise: Burdett’s Farming Heritage.” The talk will be at 2 p.m. at the Burdett Fire Department Community Room. All are welcome.

The free talk is part of the Burdett Bicentennial Sunday Speaker Series, a partnership of the Schuyler County Historical Society and the Burdett Bicentennial Committee.

Burdett was established in 1819. The 200th anniversary celebration began with a daylong event on June 1, 2019.

For more information, contact the Schuyler County Historical Society at (607) 535-9741 or

Odessa Mayor Gerry Messmer is silhouetted in front of his power-point presentation.

Odessa Mayor discusses his 2,000-mile recreation of an historic western adventure

ODESSA, Jan. 25, 2020 -- A turnout of some 80 people packed the Community Room of the Odessa Municipal Building Saturday afternoon to hear that village's mayor tell about -- and illustrate with a power-point presentation of maps and photos -- a journey he took this past summer, into fall.

For three months, from July 6 to Oct. 8, Mayor Gerry Messmer and two other men immersed themselves in an historic western adventure, re-creating an almost 2,000-mile journey made by fur trader Gen. William Ashley in 1825.

Messmer shared his stories Saturday in a talk presented by the Schuyler County Historical Society.

After nearly two years of planning, these modern Mountain Men began their journey, dubbed “Ashley’s Return.” They traveled from near the Green River in southwest Wyoming to near St. Louis, Missouri, using three modes of transportation and living as did Ashley and his men.

They used all period-correct and hand-sewn gear, following the same route as accurately as modern society would permit. As Messmer said. “It took two years of absoslutely mind-boggling preparation."

And once out there, he says, "We endured tornadoes, torrential rain, extreme heat, lack of water and a horrifically flooded Missouri River while on our keelboat.”

They made the trip unsupported, without an accompanying vehicle or planned re-supply. Any re-supply was done along the journey as best they could, Messmer said. Other people intermittently joined the original three throughout the journey.

Messmer said the original Ashley trek was important, as the General traveled to Wyoming to secure furs collected by his company's hunters and then returned with those furs to St. Louis to sell them -- beaver fur hats being "a fashion rage." The business model established by Ashley helped spur further exploration and hunting, and "helped open up the western expansion. It was very critical."

Messmer's group’s first 700 miles were on horseback across Wyoming and the Red Desert. From Fort Smith, Montana, they navigated the Big Horn River and Yellowstone River 400 miles north to the Missouri River using bull boats and pirogues. The authentically re-created keelboat “Muskrat” took them the final 900 miles on the Missouri River to St. Charles, Missouri, near St Louis, landing on Oct. 8.

“What an incredible journey of 1825 meets 2019 of sharing, educating and building relationships that will last a lifetime!” Messmer wrote on the Ashley’s Return Facebook page. “This was a journey of a few, but only accomplished with the help, support and love of many! We felt the presence of all of you along the way, and we know that given the circumstances we went through that God watched over us with every step.”

The journey was far from easy, he told Saturday's gathering. "For me, it became primal survival. I learned to sleep anywhere" despite mosquitoes, rain and cold. "Sometimes building a fire was the highlight of our mornings." On the horseback leg of the journey, they rode "eight or nine hours" per day.

"By Day 2 my bottom was sore," he told Saturday's audience. "Saddle sores. They hurt from Day 2 to Day 9, then kind of subsided."

He lost weight along the way, and fell ill, and stoically faced a sometimes endless vista of rocks and plant life -- although his group did encounter some folks along the way, including a couple of youngsters, 5 and 7 ("excellent riders"), who rode with them one day; and ranch wives who shared food that broke up the monotony of trail food.

He said he and his fellow trekklers decided to take the trip this past year rather than wait until the 200th anniversary of Ashley's Return in 2025 for practical reasons: age and health. He said they decided to take it in 2019, when they had their health, rather than count on the ensuing years being favorable ones for them. He said he personally wanted to avoid the regret that might come if he didn't take the journey while he was able.

Messmer has served as mayor of Odessa since April 2018. He is a retired Army lieutenant colonel, with more than 30 years of military experience.

The Schuyler County Historical Society captures the history of the county at the Brick Tavern Museum, Wickham Rural Life Center and Lee School. Hours at the Brick Tavern Museum and Wickham Rural Life Center are Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursday 2-8 p.m. Admission is free. The Historical Society is supported in part by a TAP grant administered by the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce.

Photos in text:

Top: Gerry Messmer, in suitable 19th-century-style garb, addresses a gathering of 80 people in the Odessa Municipal Building at his Jan. 25 talk, presented by the Schuyler County Historical Society.

Second: Gear on display for Messmer's talk. These items were a portion of the equipment he used on his 2,000-mile trek.

Third: Messmer, in a photo from his journey. (Provided)

Bottom: Messmer, who with his fellow trekkers recreated a journey made in 1825 by fur trader Gen. William Ashley. Messmer's small group traveled for three months by horseback, canoes and keelboat from near the Green River in southwest Wyoming to near St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo provided)

Schuyler Steps Out set for its 14th year

Special to the Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Jan. 13, 2020 -- Schuyler Steps Out -- the free community walking program presented by Schuyler Hospital -- is back for its 14th year, kicking off in March.

Open to anyone who works or lives in Schuyler County, teams must register with the hospital by Monday, February 14, 2020.

The program kicks off on Friday, March 6 with an opening celebration and information session. 

While many teams are workplace-based, service clubs, churches and even scouts can form teams. All that’s required is walking daily for 8 weeks, logging steps walked, and reporting to the hospital weekly. At the end of the 8-week program, awards are given for most team steps, most valuable “players,” and most improved. 

The program was designed to get people moving in the early spring months, and is a way for the hospital to promote the fight against obesity, diabetes, hypertension and other associated healthcare issues in the community. By encouraging walking regularly, the hospital hopes to foster healthy changes that last beyond the 8-week program.

The 2020 program will run from March 9 to May 3, 2020. 

In 2019, participating teams tallied 150.6 million total steps, or over 75.3 thousand miles – the equivalent of 3 trips around the Earth. An average of 277 people from 13 teams participated.

Schuyler Steps Out is sponsored by Schuyler Hospital and Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. 

For more information, or to sign up your team, contact Tina Rappleye at (607) 210-1950, fax (607) 210-1951, or email

Burdett Historian to discuss architecture

Special to the Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Jan. 4, 2020 -- The Village of Burdett’s bicentennial celebration is continuing with a talk on Sunday, Jan. 12, by Burdett Village Historian Marty Evans.

Evans will speak about “Beautiful Burdett: Colorful Architecture & Enduring History.” The talk will be at 2 p.m. at the Schuyler County Historical Society’s Brick Tavern Museum in Montour Falls. All are welcome.

The free talk is part of the Burdett Bicentennial Sunday Speaker Series, a partnership of the Historical Society and the Burdett Bicentennial Committee.

The museum’s special exhibit about Burdett will be on display through Thursday, Jan. 23. The Brick Tavern Museum is located at 108 N. Catharine St./Route 14, Montour Falls.

Burdett was established in 1819. The 200th anniversary celebration began with a daylong event on June 1.

For more information, contact Evans at (607) 592-9696 or or the Schuyler County Historical Society at (607) 535-9741 or

Public Health names Employees of Year

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Dec. 17, 2019 -- Schuyler County Public Health and Yates County Public Health have announced their 2019 Employees of the Year: Eleanor Fausold and Chelsea Bailey in Schuyler County, and Kristen Wagner and Betty Brigham in Yates County.

Eleanor Fausold, MPH and Chelsea Bailey, RN, BSN were named as Employees of the Year for their efforts during the Hepatitis A event that occurred in Schuyler County over the summer.

“Ellie and Chelsea worked well together as a team to quickly address this serious concern for our community and set up vaccination clinics for those exposed,” said Deborah Minor, RN, MPH, Director of Public Health for the two health departments.

Kristen Wagner, RN and Betty Brigham were selected as Employees of the Year due to their work following the elimination of religious exemptions for vaccination. “Together they worked to set up and staff over 20 additional immunization clinics this past summer and fall to ensure that the children could be vaccinated before the first day of school,” Minor said.

“Each day our two counties benefit from the hard work provided by each and every one of our very dedicated and knowledgeable public health employees. It takes all of us working as a team to respond to the health needs and concerns of our community and I am truly honored to work with these staff,” added Minor.

Schuyler County Public Health says its mission is to protect and empower the community to be safe, healthy and prepared. For information, visit Schuyler County Public Health online at or follow it on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Yates County Public Health says its mission is to promote optimal health for people of all ages through disease prevention, environmental risk reduction, assistance with access to care and facilitation of emergency preparedness through education, policy development and collaboration within the community. For more information, visit Yates County Public Health online at or follow it on Facebook.

Photos in text:

Top: Schuyler County's Chelsea Bailey, RN, BSN (left) and Eleanor Fausold, MPH.
Bottom: Yates County's Betty Brigham (left) and Kristen Wagner, RN.

Rock Stream woman honored by Zonta

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Dec. 12, 2019 -- Janet Kopp Tanner of Rock Stream was presented the Zonta International "Community Award for Outstanding Commitment to Empowering Women in the Community" at the 59th Zonta District Conference in Lake Placid.

The award is given to a non-Zonta member. She was nominated by the Watkins Montour Zonta Club, and won from over 20 nominations.

Tanner makes and sells jewelry from one-of-a-kind fair-trade beads made by African women to support themselves and their families. Her jewelry can be found at the Franklin Street Art Gallery in Watkins Glen.

Robotics team earns spot at Regionals

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, December 11, 2019 -- For the third year in a row Mechanical Meltdown, the youth robotics team based in Watkins Glen, has earned advancement to the regional championship, where it will compete against 35 other teams from throughout the area.

Five of those teams will proceed to the World Championship in Detroit, MI at the end of April. Mechanical Meltdown is part of the NY Excelsior FIRST Tech Challenge community, which consists of 110 teams and encompasses all New York counties except the five boroughs of NYC and Long Island.

The team earned its spot at the regional championship through its performance at the Finger Lakes Qualifying Tournament in Penfield, NY, which took place on Sunday, December 8. The team won all five of its preliminary matches, placing it first among 21 participating teams. With help from their alliance partners, Gorillabots from Corning and RoboFalcons from Turin, the Meltdown squad went on to finish as the winning captain and was finalist for additional technical achievement awards. The Gorillabots will also be participating in the regional championship, which is scheduled for Saturday, March 14 at SUNY Polytechnic Institute in Utica, NY.

While preparing for the regional championship, Mechanical Meltdown's members will work to improve their mechanisms, autonomous programming, technical documentation, and presentation skills. For additional practice they will also be competing at the Corning Qualifier on Sunday, January 12, 2020 at Corning-Painted Post High School. The tournament will be open to the public.

Mechanical Meltdown is part of FLARE -- Finger Lakes Area Robotics Education. The program is open to youth in grades 7-12, with current students from Trumansburg, Watkins Glen, Horseheads, and homeschoolers. For more information, call Kathy at (607) 546-2207 or e-mail

Photo in text: From left: Alex Coble (Horseheads), Ian Hunter (Trumansburg), Tristan Russo (Trumansburg -- homeschool), Lucas Hunter (Trumansburg), Ellenanne Mansfield (Burdett -- homeschool), and Kaden Loucks (Watkins Glen). (Photo provided)

Honor loved ones with Festival of Lights

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Nov. 19, 2019 -- Schuyler Hospital's Auxiliary is now accepting submissions for its annual Festival of Lights.

Donations of $5.00, $10.00 or $15.00 each are welcome to honor loved ones and recognize family members or friends, or special events.

Ornaments with commemorated names will be on display at the Seneca View Skilled Nursing Facility starting December 10, 2019.

The Festival of Lights ceremony will be held on Tuesday, December 10 from 2-4 p.m at Seneca View. The ceremony honors those who have been commemorated, with music and refreshments.

Proceeds go to the Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary, to support Schuyler Hospital and Seneca View.

Donations must be submitted by December 3, 2019.

To donate to Festival of Lights, do so on-line or download forms at To have forms mailed to you, call (607) 210-1950 or email

Local Zonta Club receives two awards

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Nov. 15, 2019 -- The Watkins-Montour Zonta Club recently received two awards at the 59th District 2 Conference in Lake Placid.

Club member Marion Webster accepted the "Club of the Year" award for the WGMF Zonta group. They also received the Evelyn DeWitt Membership Award Tray for highest percent of new member growth from May 2018-May 2019.

The local group has met since 1929, when the Elmira Zonta Club sponsored them. Zonta International is a global organization working to advance the status of women worldwide through service and advocacy.

The Watkins Montour Zonta Club is accepting new members. If interested, call 607-425-2835.

Military Genealogy will be discussed

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Nov. 15, 2019 -- Diane Basette Nelson will speak about military genealogy at the Thursday, Nov. 21 meeting of the Schuyler County Historical Society’s Genealogy Interest Group.

The group will meet at 6:30 p.m. at the Brick Tavern Museum, 108 N. Catharine St./Route 14, Montour Falls.

Anyone interested in genealogy is welcome.

For more information, call the Historical Society at 535-9741.

SCCUDD awarded federal grant in fight to combat youth substance use in community

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Nov. 9, 2019 -- The Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking and Drugs (SCCUDD) has been awarded a federal Drug-Free Communities Support Program grant by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, in cooperation with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The competitive grant will bring $125,000 in to the county each year for the next five years

“This grant will be used to reduce underage drinking and youth drug use in Schuyler County,” said Schuyler County Public Health Director Deb Minor. “We look forward to collaborating with the Coalition, and the community, as the fiscal agent for this grant."

SCCUDD was one of only 16 organizations in New York to receive funding through this grant. Nationally, 150 grants have been awarded at this time. The goals of the Coalition under this grant, officials say, are to establish and strengthen community collaboration in support of local efforts to prevent youth substance use.

“This award is an exciting opportunity to continue and strengthen the collaborative work with partners and the community to address the use of tobacco and vape products among local youth.” said SCCUDD President Sarah Robbins

SCCUDD is a group of dedicated community members, businesses, and agencies that work to prevent, reduce, and delay the onset of substance use among Schuyler County youth by collaborating with community partners, promoting prevention education and substance-free activities, and implementing environmental strategies. SCCUDD works to reduce youth use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs as they can cause lifelong problems. SCCUDD says its vision is a connected community where youth have education, resources, and drug-free options to help their journey to become happy, healthy adults.

For more information, or to become involved with SCCUDD, visit SCCUDD online at, or follow SCCUDD on Facebook and Twitter.

Robotics team plans fund-raiser breakfast

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Nov. 2, 2019 -- Mechanical Meltdown, the Watkins Glen-based youth robotics team, is inviting the community to an all-you-can-eat fund-raiser breakfast on Sunday, November 24 from 8:00-11:00 a.m.

The buffet, featuring pancakes, eggs, biscuits & gravy, sausage, bacon, home fries, coffee, and juice, will be at the Montour Falls Moose Lodge, located at 2096 County Road 14.

Tickets can be purchased at the door for $7 each; or while supplies last, diners can receive a coupon for a free Texas Roadhouse kids’ meal with pre-ordered tickets.

Mechanical Meltdown is part of FLARE -- Finger Lakes Area Robotics Education. The program is open to youth in grades 7-12, attending any school in the region or home-schooled. The group meets regularly in Watkins Glen. For more information, call Kathy at (607) 546-2207 or e-mail

Candidates Night offers more than usual questions, in particular a very pointed one

WATKINS GLEN, Oct. 25, 2019 -- The Meet the Candidates Night Thursday evening in the Watkins Glen Elementary School auditorium attracted about 150 people, well above the usual turnout for such events -- and the reason was clear: a compelling four-way race for Schuyler County Judge.

And burbling under the surface was a subject involving one of those four and the role he played in a legal proceeding brought years ago against him in Seneca County. How, it might be asked, could the matter even be brought up? The forum format normally provides questions of a philosophical or practical nature, easily answered by each candidate. This one, if asked, would seemingly be loaded in one direction, toward one person, upending the normally level playing field.

But asked it was, the second of three questions directed to County Judge candidates Dan Fitzsimmons, Steven Getman, Matt Hayden and Jessica Saks. It was pointedly asked of Getman, who has been the subject of a couple of articles on in recent months written by Peter Mantius of Watkins Glen. The articles, a mix of fact and speculation involving a subpoena, a lawsuit, and a sealed court record -- and asking questions that Mantius wanted Getman to answer -- had become an undercurrent in the campaign.

(Said one paragraph in one article: "Getman declined to confirm or deny reports that his resignation as Seneca County Attorney in 2007 was prompted by a grand jury letter recommending that he be disciplined if he did not quit.")

Moderator Kelsey Wood -- who didn't choose the questions, but was reading from cards prepared by audience members and sorted by committee members -- asked for an explanation of the Seneca County tenure in general terms, and Getman responded with a mix of self deprecation and annoyance.

Moderator's question: "Judges must maintain independence and be impartial and have integrity. Voters need to know a judicial candidate’s record as an attorney. Voters are concerned about news reports about Mr. Getman’s work in Seneca County. Mr. Getman, please address these reports, and what do the other candidates have to say about this?

The other candidates declined to engage the subject, deferring to Getman.

Getman's answer: "Good question. I’ve been hearing some reports of some of my opponents’ supporters -- not my opponents -- going negative in this race, digging up old anonymous newspaper articles from a dozen or so years ago about things that are alleged to have happened in Seneca County. Well, I can tell you this: Yes, it’s true there was a lawsuit filed against multiple county officials in Seneca County; there’s been lawsuits filed against county officials in many counties. In the course of that lawsuit, it was settled with no admission of liability. In the course of that lawsuit, the bulk of the allegations against me were dismissed before it was settled. In the course of that lawsuit, a federal judge made note that any of these grand jury reports, if they existed, were a nullity and hearsay in terms of newspaper articles. More to the point, however, I have letters of recommendation from two chairmen of the Seneca County Board of Supervisors testifying to my exemplary character and work as their County Attorney. Also, in the many years since these allegations arose, I have proudly served many governmental entities in three counties ..."

At this point the timer bell -- signalling that time for an answer was up -- brought this response from Getman:

"This question is kind of an attack on me, so I think I should get a little bit of extra time on this one. Finally, I will say this: I left Seneca County because I was unhappy there; I was unhappy with the allegations. I’d been looking for a job for a while. And I hate to have to bring this up, but on a personal matter, I was married at the time. I was married to a decent woman. I’m not any more; I’m in love with another, even better woman, but don’t tell the first one I said that. And she was just frankly miserable living in Seneca County; it wasn’t her culture, wasn’t her community, and she wanted to move. We’d already bought a house in Ithaca before I left, and I left at the end of my term ... Eventually we didn’t stay together, but you do what you gotta do for people you love.

"And to be honest, I think whoever asked this question and forced me to bring up my personal life this way really oughta ask themselves why they engaged in this political opportunism when I’ve been working in this county for about a dozen years and nobody’s ever thought to ask me before. And I thank my opponents, because they’ve been high on this, they haven’t gone low."

Aside from that exchange, the evenng introduced the enthusiastic crowd to the candidates running for the Schuyler County Legislature in District 7 (incumbent Mark Rondinaro and challenger Paul Bartow) and District 8 (Maggie Coffey and Gary Gray, in a contest to succeed the retiring Dennis Fagan).

The candidates for Town of Catharine Supervisor (incumbent John VanSoest and challenger Rick Lewis) also took the stage, as did Norma Burris, who is running for a Town of Orange council seat. Her opponent, Darin Miller, was not present.

In each case, the candidates were given time for introductory and closing statements, with three questions asked in-between.

Rondinaro and Bartow agreed on the subjects of Seneca Lake's future health (more tests are needed before a clear picture can be drawn of what action might be needed) but disagreed on whether New York State has been benefitting Schuyler County (as Bartow thinks) or not (as Rondinaro attests).

Coffey and Gray were a contrast in style and intent, with Coffey clear that rural dwellers in Schuyler County need improvements in internet and phone service if millenials are to be enticed to settle and work here -- to reverse the "brain drain" that has seen so many of the county's young people move on to more lucrative pastures.

Where Gray said he had "no plan" regarding the high percentage of tax-exempt land, and -- when asked to identify two challenges facing the county -- said that "nothing comes to mind" although "I can't believe there's only two," Coffey said "economic development and infrastructure" improvement are key. "The only solution" to the large presence of state-owned, non-taxable property, she added, is to bring in new business, but that a "fragmented infrastrucure" is preventing it. She also said it's time the Legislature -- an all-male body -- "had a little diversity."

Judge candidate Jessica Saks echoed that philosophy in her closing statement, saying she would, if elected, be "the first female in the post" of Schuyler County Judge. "It's time for something different," she said. "A little diversity would be awesome."

Meanwhile, all four judge candidates were touting their achievements.

Fitzsimmons said he is the only one of the four to have served as a judge (in the Town of Hector from 2010-2018) and the only one who has handled 2,000 cases in Family Court -- one of three courts the County Judge oversees. He said his candidacy is "an uphill battle" -- that "people with the most money and the most connections become county judge."

Getman argued that as "the old man" of the quartet he has more legal experieonce -- "almost 28 years" -- and that he has not only interpreted the law and taught it at the college level, but "I have written it." He said he would be "a judge for all the people."

Hayden pointed to his career as a prosecutor dating back to 2003, his ability to deal fairly with both plaintiffs and defendants, and his devotion to the community through philanthropic works and participation in various civic organizations such as The Arc of Schuyler and the Boy Scouts. He said he has long "tried to improve the public discourse," and is heavily involved in community organizations "because it's right." He also said "two people have been running positive campaigns. Thank you, Jessica."

Saks said she is the only candidate who -- during her career as a practicing lawyer -- has "sat in front of 50 judges." From that experience, she said, she has learned what works in a courtroom and what doesn't, putting her in a unique position to institute "improvements in the way County Court is run" through the employment of "efficiencies." That's her goal, she said -- that, and the ability to be a "fair, firm and empathetic" judge.

Election Day is Nov. 5, although early voting, new this year, is being held from Oct. 26-Nov. 3 in the Legislative Chambers of the County Building in Watkins Glen.

Photos from top: Judge candidates Steven Getman and Matt Hayden; moderator Kelsey Wood; and judge candidates Jessica Saks and Dan Fitzsimmons.

District 7 legislative candidates Paul Bartow, left, and Mark Rondinaro at Thursday forum.

Town of Catharine supervisor candidates Rick Lewis, left, and incumbent John VanSoest.

Hector Lions Club inducts Cheryl Ferris

Special to The Odessa File

HECTOR, Oct. 15, 2019 -- At its bimonthly dinner meeting Monday night, the Hector Area Lions Club inducted a new member, Cheryl Ferris, into the club.

Ferris is a retired Education Administrator Special Education from Tunkhannock Central School District in Pennsylvania. She spent 33 years guiding and teaching students.  She resides in Hector and has family locally.

Lion President Amy Planty inducted the new member while Jean Swinnerton stood by Cheryl's side as her sponsor into the organization. Ferris says she is excited to join and looks forward to supporting the organization while serving the community.

The Hector Lions Club meets at 6 p.m. on the 2nd and 4th Mondays of the month at Chateau La Fayette Reneau. Anyone interested in joining the club should contact Lion President Amy Planty at

Photo in text: From left: Lion President Amy Planty, Cheryl Ferris and Jean Swinnerton. (Photo provided)

Burdett Bicentennial talks begin Oct. 13

Special to The Odessa File

BURDETT, Oct. 2, 2019 -- The Village of Burdett’s bicentennial celebration continues in October with the launch of a five-part series of talks about people, places and things from its history.

In early November, a special exhibit about Burdett will open at the Schuyler County Historical Society’s Brick Tavern Museum in Montour Falls. An opening reception is planned for Nov. 7 at 5:30 p.m. The exhibit will be in place through the end of January.

The first session of the Burdett Bicentennial Sunday Speaker Series will be Oct. 13. The last will be on March 8. The free talks all begin at 2 p.m. at either the community room at the Burdett Fire Department, Route 79, or at the Brick Tavern Museum, 108 N. Catharine St./Route 14, Montour Falls.

Retired Schuyler County Judge J.C. Argetsinger will speak on Oct. 13 at 2 p.m. at the Brick Tavern Museum on “The First Family of Racing: The Argetsingers of Burdett.”

J.C. Argetsinger, the oldest of the family’s nine children, was witness to the founding and organizing of international motor racing by his parents, Cameron and Jean, and the impact it had on his family and Schuyler County.

Subsequent talks in the series:

--“Frosts’ Tails & Other Tales: Plus Jiminy Cricket at Hector Falls” by Jack Walsh. Nov. 10 at the Burdett Fire Department.

--“Beautiful Burdett: Colorful Architecture & Enduring History” by Marty Evans. Jan. 12 at the Brick Tavern Museum.

--“Agricultural Paradise: Burdett’s Farming Heritage” by Heather O’Grady-Evans. Feb. 9 at the Burdett Fire Department.

--“The Lehigh Valley Railroad: Burdett at the Crossroads of Early Commerce & Transportation” by Gary Emerson. March 8 at the Burdett Fire Department.

The Jan. 12 talk at the Brick Tavern Museum will coincide with the special exhibit about Burdett.

Burdett was established in 1819. The 200th anniversary celebration began with a daylong event on June 1.

For more information, contact Marty Evans of the Burdett Bicentennial Committee at (607) 592-9696 or or the Schuyler County Historical Society at (607) 535-9741 or

Historian to speak about Italian founders

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Sept. 25, 2019 -- Watkins Glen Village Historian Jim Scaptura will tell the stories of the Italian migration into Schuyler County in a talk Sunday, Sept. 29, at the Watkins Glen Elementary School auditorium.

The free talk will be at 1 p.m.

The first Italian immigrant in Schuyler County is believed to have been Albert Pecararo, who settled in Watkins in the 1880s. Among his jobs was running the commissary at a laborers camp in Burdett for the Lehigh Valley Railroad, which hired many immigrants.

Italian immigrants also answered the call for workers at the two salt companies in Watkins.

Scaptura’s talk is presented by the Schuyler County Historical Society, whose current Brick Tavern Museum exhibit honors the county’s Italian founders. The exhibit will be open through Oct. 31. The museum is located at 108 N. Catharine St./Route 14, Montour Falls.

The museum will be open on Sept. 29 from 10 a.m. to noon and after the talk until 6 p.m.

For more information, contact the Brick Tavern Museum at (607) 535-9741.

The Schuyler County Historical Society captures the history of the county at the Brick Tavern Museum, Wickham Rural Life Center and Lee School. Hours at the Brick Tavern Museum and Wickham Rural Life Center are Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursday 2-8 p.m. Admission is free. The Historical Society is supported in part by a TAP grant administered by the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce.

Photo in text: Watkins Glen Village Historian Jim Scaptura offers a toast at the August reception for the opening of the Brick Tavern Museum’s special exhibit “Celebrating Our Italian Heritage -- Honoring Schuyler County’s Italian Founders.” (Photo provided)

Boating Club donates Life Jacket Loaner tree

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Sept. 17, 2019) – The Finger Lakes Chapter of America’s Boating Club (ABC-FLX) is helping to ensure a safe water experience for residents and visitors to Seneca Lake with the creation of a life jacket tree at the new kayak and canoe launch near Clute Park.

Several life jackets hang on the tree, ready for free borrowing by kayakers, canoers and others using the new launch area. The project was an immediate success, club members said.

“I’ve been by to look, and several times the life jackets have been out on loan or wet from use when the others were dry,” aid Jim McGinnis, president of the Finger Lakes Chapter of America’s Boating Club, formerly known as the Seneca Sail and Power Squadron.

“Fortunately, people are returning the life jackets to the rack after use,” he added. 

Phil Cherry, ABC-FLX board member, said he spoke with one of the users, an 8-year-old girl from Brookline, Mass., who was relieved to see the life jacket tree at the launch.

“We came all the way from Massachusetts, and Mom and Dad forgot my life jacket, and I’m so happy you had one to lend me,” Cherry quoted Laila Edwards as saying.

“That is just about the best feedback we could get,” McGinnis said.

Many people contributed to the project. ABC-FLX member Peter Honsberger first proposed the idea. The structure was made at Lawson MetalWorks in Dundee. BoatUS offered a significantly reduced price on the first life jackets under its program to support Coleman Sporting Goods in promoting life jacket loaner stations. Club members Walter Vancise and Wendy Reynolds donated an additional 10 life jackets.

Watkins Glen Parks Manager Michelle Hyde coordinated the installation of the concrete pad and post support.

“The tree was designed to be removed in the winter for safekeeping, and the squadron is committed to maintaining it for years to come,” McGinnis said.

America’s Boating Club is the nation’s largest non-profit boating organization, with nearly 30,000 members in more than 350 clubs. The local chapter of the United States Power Squadrons boasts members from across the Finger Lakes Region who enjoy their time on the water in vessels ranging from kayaks to power boats to sailboats. Boat ownership is not a membership requirement.

For more information about America’s Boating Club–Finger Lakes Chapter, go to or on Facebook.

Photo in text: A free life jacket loaner tree has been established at the new kayak and canoe launch near Clute Park in Watkins Glen by the Finger Lakes Chapter of America’s Boating Club. (Photo provided)

High-speed chase leads to multiple charges

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Sept. 5, 2019 -- Nicholas S. Ingersoll, 24, of Beaver Dams, was arrested Wednesday after leading officers on a high-speed pursuit through Schuyler County and into parts of northern Chemung County, the Schuyler County Sheriff's Office reported.

The pursuit, police said, was initiated by a Schuyler County Sheriff’s Deputy when Ingersoll refused to stop for a Vehicle and Traffic Law Violation in the Village of Montour Falls. Ingersoll then led multiple officers on a chase through the Towns of Montour, Catharine (Schuyler County), Veteran, Catlin (Chemung County), Dix, and Orange (Schuyler County) before being taken into custody in Monterey, Town of Orange, after fleeing on foot.

During the pursuit, police added, Ingersoll struck a Schuyler County Sheriff’s Patrol vehicle and attempted to strike a New York State Police vehicle, and was also found with several components and materials used in the production of methamphetamine. Ingersoll was charged with the following offenses:

--Unlawfully fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle in the third degree, a class A misdemeanor.
--Reckless Endangerment in the first degree, a class D Felony.
--Criminal Mischief in the third degree, a class E Felony.
--Reckless Driving, an unclassified misdemeanor.
--Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a motor vehicle in the third degree, an unclassified misdemeanor.
--Unlawful Manufacture of Methamphetamine in the third degree, a Class D Felony.
--Multiple Vehicle and Traffic violations.

Ingersoll was arraigned in the Village of Montour Falls Court, where he was remanded to jail in lieu of $10,000/$20,000 bail/bond.Sheriff’s Deputies were assisted by the New York State Police and Chemung County Sheriff’s Office.

Photo in text: Nicholas S. Ingersoll (Photo provided)

O-M graduate Zimmer receives Fulbright Student Program award for Iceland research

Special to The Odessa File

WASHINGTON, D.C., Aug. 28, 2019 -- The U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board have announced that Adam Netzer Zimmer of the University of Massachusetts Amherst has received a Fulbright U.S. Student Program award to Iceland in Anthropology.

Zimmer -- a 2009 graduate of Odessa-Montour High School -- will conduct research at the University of Iceland as part of a project to examine inequality through Icelandic anatomical collections as a part of the Fulbright-National Science Foundation Arctic Research Grant.

The year-long project is part of Zimmer's Ph.D. program in anthropology.

"I'm currently living in Reykjavik, Iceland and will be here for an entire year," Zimmer wrote in an e-mail to The Odessa File. "I previously lived in Iceland for the 2017-18 academic year through a Leifur Eiríksson Foundation Fellowship."

Zimmer is one of over 2,100 U.S. citizens who will conduct research, teach English, and provide expertise abroad for the 2019-2020 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, as well as their record of service and leadership potential in their respective fields.

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program and is designed to build lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the Program, which operates in over 160 countries worldwide.

Since its establishment in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program has given more than 390,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, and professionals of all backgrounds and fields the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

Fulbrighters address critical global challenges in all disciplines while building relationships, knowledge, and leadership in support of the long-term interests of the United States. Fulbright alumni have achieved distinction in many fields, including 59 who have been awarded the Nobel Prize, 84 who have received Pulitzer Prizes, and 37 who have served as a head of state or government.

For further information about the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State, visit or contact the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Press Office by telephone at 202-632-6452 or by email at

Photo in text: Adam Netzer Zimmer at the Vatnajökull glacier in Iceland. (Photo by David Egli)

Most of the cast gathered at center stage in a scene Saturday night of Disney's Jungle Book.

Kids' Jungle Book concludes run at WGHS

WATKINS GLEN, Aug. 18, 2019 -- A cast of more than 30 kids concluded a two-night run of Disney's musical Jungle Book Saturday evening on the Watkins Glen High School Auditorium stage.

The Lake Country Players organized the performances, inviting all youths ages 6-12 to be in the production -- a cooperative effort with the Watkins Glen 21st Century REACH program. The event was free to the public, and attracted an enthusiastic audience.

The kids rehearsed for four hours a day over two weeks -- an experience that also saw them playing theater games, painting their own scenery and making their own costumes. Kim Laursen and Kelsey Johnson served as co-directors, with Allyson Guild, Serafina Tague and Judy VanSkiver serving as parent volunteers. Molly Heichel and Katherine Larson were teen volunteers.

"This project," said Laursen before auditions were held, " is something new for us, so we are hoping to get excellent participation to make it work!"

Considering the number of young thespians, their skill and enthusiasm, and the audience response, it worked very well.

The lead of Mowgli was performed by Arloween Loucks-Scuteri. Bagheer was played by Kylie Downing, Baloo by Della Diliberto, and Kaa by Emily Melveney.

Photo in text: A scene from Saturday evening's performance of Disney's Jungle Book.

Chip Dunham and his family. A celebration of his life will be held on August 10 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Hector Wine Company. (Photo provided)

Celebration of Life to honor Hector man

The author is a Watkins Glen High School alumna who grew up knowing the Chip Dunham family. "Our families have always been close," she says.

By Shannon Hazlitt Harts

HECTOR, Aug. 1, 2019 -- There was a major presence missing from the annual Hector Fair this year.

For at least two decades, you could always count on Christopher “Chip” Dunham volunteering at the fair’s legendary clam tent, cracking jokes with his buoyant smile and wily sense of humor.

This year the fair came and went with its flashy parade, whirling rides, buzzing games, and plentiful community spirit, but local musician Brett Beardslee said it just wasn’t quite the same without Chip.

For around 25 years, Beardslee has run the sound system at the annual fair -- a fundraiser for the Valois Logan Hector Volunteer Fire Department. Beardslee also performs at the fair each year.

This year, Beardslee expressed over a loudspeaker how he missed a fellow fair fan and longtime volunteer -- Chip Dunham -- and the crowd responded with similar feelings.

“I was on the microphone and I just said, ‘I have three words for everyone: I miss Chip,’ and everyone said, ‘I miss Chippie!’” Beardslee said.

Chip Dunham passed away April 24 at the age of 50.

A celebration of his life will be held on August 10 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Hector Wine Company, 5610 NY-414, in Hector, NY.

Chip was not only known for his fun-loving personality; he also gave countless hours of his time to a long list of Hector and Watkins Glen community organizations.

“He was always, always volunteering -- anything to help people out,” Beardslee said,

This list includes helping with the Watkins Glen Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, Seneca Santa fundraisers, Spirit of Schuyler fundraisers, and he was president of the Watkins Glen Sports Booster Club.

Most notably perhaps, Chip and his wife Kelly McCarthy made the sport of lacrosse available to Schuyler County elementary, middle and high school students. They started a Modified program in 2013 that shortly led to a Varsity program. In 2015, they also introduced a program for kindergarten through 6th grade students. Chip was a Varsity Lacrosse assistant coach.

Beardslee has known Chip for many years. He said he believes Chip, a devoted father of three boys and a daughter, likely founded the lacrosse programs with his sons in mind.

“His kids loved him,” Beardslee said. “He’s probably one of the best fathers I’ve ever seen in terms of just making sure his kids were doing what they wanted and growing into nice young men.”

Chip’s volunteering often involved his culinary skills -- particularly anything with barbecue.

In September 2018, Chip treated the chemo and radiation technicians at Guthrie Corning Cancer Center to a hearty lunch complete with pulled pork, coleslaw, and baked beans, through his business, the Hector BBQ Company.

“He was a very generous person,” said Doug Hazlitt, a longtime Hector neighbor and friend.

Hazlitt is very fond of restoring and sailing classic wooden boats. He explained Chip was always a significant help when on deliveries and trips involving the schooners named Chantey and Malabar X -- particularly as a ship’s chef.

Hazlitt and Chip were also fond of cooking together when not on a boat, and especially when enjoying long summer evenings at one of their neighboring properties on Seneca Lake.

When not giving back to his community, Chip loved spending time at his beach with his family and entertaining friends.

It was at this property that he married his soulmate, Kelly McCarthy.

Kelly’s sister, Kate McCarthy, said the “do it yourself” wedding was central to their story.

And perhaps most impressively, they re-created nearly all the elements of their reception -- bountiful food, live music, and hundreds of guests -- each year for around 15 years with an annual anniversary party.

This party “took on a life of its own,” Kate McCarthy said.

Both Beardslee and Kate McCarthy recalled how one memorable year involved adult party guests racing on kid tricycles down the steep hill that leads to the lake property.

Chip was the type of guy who everyone had an entertaining story about. His outgoing and people-loving personality made him someone you couldn’t forget meeting, Kate McCarthy said.

She still vividly recalls the first time she met Chip in August 1995. Her sister Kelly had brought Chip to her hometown in Chestertown, MD to meet her family.

Kate McCarthy said she was coming home from her junior year of college and as soon as she saw Chip and Kelly on her parents' front porch, Chip said, “Hiya, blondie,” like he was a teasing older brother.

“Chip never met a stranger,” she said. “Just like his first greeting to me, he had a way to make people feel instantly a part of his world. He was a huge personality and that left an impression on people. No one forgot meeting Chip.”

Chip’s personality also included a propensity to “rile people up,” Beardslee said -- often simply with some light-hearted antics.

When invited to an optional black-tie housewarming party many years ago, Chip took the “hors d'oeuvres welcome” part of the invitation quite literally. He and Kelly wore costumes resembling the hors d'oeuvres they brought to the party -- Kelly dressed as a ham rollup and Chip as a pimento olive.  

More recently, Chip enjoyed watching Beardslee perform at an event called Monday Night Blues at Rasta Ranch winery in Hector.

Chip would bring a squeaking rubber duck and croaking homemade wooden frog to add to the “percussion” of Beardslee’s performances.

On a more serious note, Beardslee said Chip was recently working on a book about the importance of local musicians -- a book called Fingers and Strings.

Chip’s favorite song, one Beardslee wrote, was about how small towns come together to get through tough times -- a song titled “I’m Going with Us.”

With how much Chip gave to his community and his family throughout his life, his passing is certainly a loss that is bringing people together.

This is the aim of his celebration of life August 10 at the Hector Wine Company -- to remember a man who made an unforgettable impression on so many with his larger-than-life personality.

“With Chip gone, there is such a big hole where his personality was. You miss him without even trying,” Kate McCarthy said.

Despite his many shenanigans, Chip’s caring and generous heart always found a way to shine through.

“Chip was completely, completely 100 percent over the top in everything,” Beardslee said. “But I think that was just him covering up for how kind and vulnerable he was as a person .... It was easier for him to express that than to express what a sweet, gentle, kind soul he was.”

Photos in text: From top: Chip Dunham cooking; Chip with Doug Hazlitt on the latter's boat; Chip delivers food to the Cancer Center. (Photos provided)

A view of the Cheese Festival snapped by a drone camera. (Photo by Tony Vickio)

8th annual Cheese Festival draws a crowd

By N. Burton Brewster

ODESSA, July 27, 2019 -- The 8th annual Finger Lakes Cheese Festival Saturday was a success.

Twelve different farms, from Oneida to Steuben counties -- part of the Finger Lakes Cheese Alliance -- were featured along with other vendors at the festival, held each year at the Hoffman century farm at Catharine Corners. The farm is home to the Sunset View Creamery.

Thousands of shoppers turned out for the produce, crafts, and farm experience. On hand were more than 70 booths, activities, and vendors, including 13 breweries, wineries and cideries that set up for taste testing.

The farm opened to the public at 10 a.m. and closed at 5 p.m. During that time there were six different bands, a short-lived rain storm, four bus tours to the Bergen Farms elsewhere in the region, and two live cow births that took place for the public to see.

Admittance was $15 for adults, but children 12 and under were allowed in free. And while a large amount of the booths were geared toward adults, kids could just as easily enjoy the petting zoo, hay bale rides, bounce house, and wildlife presentation by Tanglewood Nature Center.

Planning for the festival begins each October and is discussed monthly leading up to the summer. When the summer hits, the planning stage kicks into full swing. According to festival coordinator Niki Turnmyre, at least a thousand hours are invested into hosting the event. She also wanted to thank all the friends, family and staff involved. Without the cooperation of all these people, this event would not be possible.

The next Cheese Festival is already scheduled for July 25, 2020.

Photo in text: The Hoffman family -- farm owners Carmella and Ron are on the right -- hosts the Cheese Festival each July.

Mallory Rhodes with her calf, Pheasant Echos Aline, at the Erie County Fairgrounds in June. (Photo provided)

Mallory and her heifer open with a big win

Special to The Odessa File

ODESSA, July 8, 2019 -- Throughout the spring and after only six weeks ”post op” from an ACL and meniscus procedure, perseverance was rewarded for Odessa-Montour High School 16-year-old Mallory Rhodes and her stunning red-and-white calf, Pheasant Echos Aline, or “Allie” for short. Allie is from Lantland Farms on Middle Road, in rural Horseheads.

On June 15 Rhodes and Allie won Champion Showman, Junior Champion Red & White, and Junior Showman at the Spring Dairy Preview R&W Holstein Show at the Erie County Fairgrounds in Hamburg, NY. Junior means the heifer is not yet a cow.

Mallory's mother Mary Jo Rhodes said, “Not to brag, but she did this all on her own after a short time healing from her procedures.” Mallory sustained a leg injury while playing spring basketball, requiring that surgery. She returned to the show circuit while still healing, and expressed surprise that she was able to accomplish as much as she did.

“I didn’t know I could show and place this well after the surgery, but we’re taking ribbons,” she said.

Mallory selected and purchased Allie all on her own at the Spring Preview Sale in April at the New York State Fairgrounds. Lantland Farms took great care of Allie while Mallory was recuperating from her surgery.

Stay tuned to see if Rhodes sweeps her way to other ribbons -- including at the World Dairy Expo in late September -- like she did last year with her calf Willow. Lantland Farms represents rural Schuyler and Chemung Counties.

You can see and maybe pet Allie at the Troy Fair later this month and at the Chemung County Fair in early August.

Photo in text: Mallory Rhodes, in a photo snapped in Odessa on June 28, 2019.

Elks service features talk by mayor about flag

WATKINS GLEN, June 16, 2019 -- The Watkins Glen Elks Lodge 1546 held its annual Flag Day ceremony Friday at the lodge, with village Mayor Luke Leszyk, a Navy veteran, describing the flag presentation ceremony performed at naval retirements.

The retirement ceremony, Lezyk said, includes observations by the flag itself. That text, "Old Glory," reads in part:

"I am the Flag of the United States of America. My name is Olde Glory.

I fly atop the world's tallest buildings. I stand watch in America's Halls of Justice.

I fly majestically over Great Institutions of Learning.

I stand guard with the Greatest Military power in the World.

Look up and see me!

"I stand for Peace, Honor, Truth and Justice.

I stand for Freedom!

I am confident, I am arrogant, I am proud.

When I am flown with my fellow banners, my head is held a little higher -- my colors are a lIttle truer.

I bow to no one!"

Leszyk, also a retired New York State trooper, told attendees that the ceremony involves the passing of the flag by a line of Sailors, from junior in rank to senior, each saluting as the text to "Old Glory" is read. The flag then reaches the hands of the retiree, who passes it to a loved one -- a family member.

According to one website, "It almost conjures up images of the folded flag from a gravesite, though more joyous in retirement than death, turning the gesture into a symbol of victory and perseverance, by both the Sailor and his loved ones as he returns home for the final time."

Photo in text: Mayor Luke Leszyk stands, left, during the Elks Flag Day ceremony. (Photo provided)

Left: Chamber Tourism and Marketing Manager Paul Thomas with Teresa Schimizzi. Right: The cover of the 2019 Travel Guide, with Schimizzi's photo. (Photos provided)

Photographer honored for harbor image

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, June 13, 2019 -- Watkins Glen resident Teresa Schimizzi was recently honored at the Watkins Glen Chamber of Commerce for her photo of the village's harbor that was used on the 2019 Watkins Glen and Schuyler County Travel Guide.

Schimizzi, an avid kayaker, was paddling around the harbor on what seemed a fairly routine day, and snapped the photo not realizing at the time that it would be used on the cover of thousands of Travel Guides to help market Watkins Glen and Schuyler County to the world.

Said Chamber President and CEO Rebekah Carroll: “We were all happily surprised at how many high quality, professional-looking photos were submitted for our photo contest. It is a testament to our creative residents and visitors alike that they were able to submit so many incredible images from throughout our many beautiful communities and sights. ”

People interested in obtaining a copy of the Travel Guide should call the Chamber offices during regular business hours at 607-535-4300 to request a copy be mailed to them, or stop by the Chamber’s Visitor Center at 214 North Franklin St., Watkins Glen to pick up a copy.

Steps Out has repeat winner; MVPs named

MONTOUR FALLS, June 14, 2019 -- The 13th annual Schuyler Steps Out community walking challenge has wrapped up with a repeat winner, as well as awards for Most Valuable Walkers.

Grand Prix Fitness of Montour Falls now has two wins in a row. Its “Workout Warriors” took the lead in Week 1, and completed the 8-week program with most cumulative average steps.  The 26 member team totaled a whopping 25.5 million steps, averaging 17,351 steps per person per day.

Watkins Glen Central Schools finished in second behind Grand Prix Fitness – replicating their one-two finish from 2018. The “School Steppers” followed Grand Prix Fitness all the way from Week 1. The 10-member team walked a total of 8.1 million steps, averaging 15,147 steps per person per day.

Near the top was Cargill Salt, finishing in third after jumping to that spot in Week 3. With 16 walkers, the “Salted Steps” totaled 11.3 million steps, averaging 12,613 steps per person per day.

Nominated by their teammates, two MVP Awards are being presented – to Sara Gaughan from the NYS Department of Transportation’s “Smooth Operators,” and Ralph Diliberto of the “Watkins School Steppers.”

Gaughan’s smiling face kept her team motivated. “Seeing her walk at work has been inspirational. Sara is very encouraging and positive,” her nomination read.

Diliberto logged almost 1.1 million steps on his own. “He has logged the most steps on the school team for years,” his nomination read. “He has also been a great cheerleader for our team.”

In all, participating teams tallied 150.6 million total steps, or over 75.3 thousand miles -- the equivalent of three trips around the Earth. An average of 277 people from 13 teams participated in the 8-week program, developed to get people up and active in the late winter and early spring.

The program is sponsored by Schuyler Hospital and Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

For more information on the Schuyler Steps Out program, contact Michelle Benjamin, Director of Community Relations, at (607) 210-1950 or go to

Photo in text: Grand Prix Fitness Team Captain Amy Flewelling holds the trophy for her team’s Schuyler Steps Out 2019 win. (Photo provided)

Schuyler County Youth Bureau participants pose at the annual recognition ceremony. (Photo provided)

Youth Bureau holds recognition ceremony

MONTOUR FALLS, June 12, 2019 -- The Schuyler County Youth Bureau held its annual recognition ceremony recently at the Human Services Complex in Montour Falls. The ceremony, which recognizes youth participants and community/agency partnerships, had over 60 people in attendance.

The event featured guest speakers and a mock trial presentation by the Bureau's Youth Court program.

Several awards were presented, including the Youth Bureau’s Community Builder Award, given this year to the Town of Orange Swim Program, and the Youth Builder Award, given to Shawn Turbidy of Cornell Cooperative Extension and Lisa Harer of the Schuyler County Social Services Department. Also present was Sharon Moore from State Senator Tom O’Mara’s and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano’s office. She presentet each of the award recipients with Proclamations recognizing their service and dedication to youth in Schuyler County.

Along with the recognition of both Youth Court and Youth Board members, the Bureau recognized Schuyler Head Start Secretary Donna Tilden, who will be retiring after 36 years of service.

The Canisteo-Greenwood High School marching band was one of several such units in Saturday's Montour Falls Fire Department parade.

63rd annual parade held in Montour Falls

MONTOUR FALLS, June 9, 2019 -- The 63rd annual Montour Falls Fire Department Parade of Bands -- the major attraction on the final day of the annual three-day festival at the Montour fire department carnival grounds -- was held Saturday before a large gathering of spectators along Main Street.

The parade, run under sunny skies, attracted fire department trucks from around the region as well as several large high school marching bands, old cars, floats, a power boat, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, and several politicians.

Among the latter were all four of the candidates for Schuyler County Judge: Steven Getman, Dan Fitzsimmons, Matt Hayden and Jessica Saks. There were also three State Supreme Court candidates on hand, and one woman -- Maggie Coffey -- running for the Schuyler County Legislature. In addition, Assemblyman Phil Palmesano was in the line of march, shaking hands and distributing candy.

Musical groups included the Montour Falls Fire Department Band, Addison High School's Knights Band, the Savannah Cellaresavers, the Dundee Central School Symphonic Steel Drum Band, the Canaseraga Central School Marching Indians, the Caledonian Highlanders from Corning and Elmira, the Prattsburgh High School Viking Marching Band, the Jasper-Troupsburg High School Wildcat Band, the 200-member Corning-Painted Post High School Marching Band, and the Canisteo-Greenwood High School Marching Band.

When the hour-long-plus parade ended, the spectators scattered, some heading home and some to the festival grounds where food, rides, games, and live music by Rust awaited them.


Photos in text:

Top: The Jasper-Troupsburg High School marching band was one of several on hand.

Middle: The Caledonian Highlanders bagpipe band was back. It is a parade regular.

Bottom: The announcer for the parade was, as he has been for many years, Jim Howell.

The Addison High School Knights marching band entertained the spectators and judges.

The first band in the parade line of march was the Montour Falls Fire Department Band.

Left: The Beaver Dams Fire Department was one of many in the parade. Right: Assemblyman Phil Palmesano was among the politicians on hand.

Left: Boy Scout Troop 50 marched up Main Street. Right: Political signs and politicians were much in evidence. All four Schuyler County Judge candidates were on hand: Steven Getman, Matt Hayden, Dan Fitzsimmons and Jessica Saks.

The Prattsburgh High School Viking Marching Band was one of several in the parade.

This large power boat drew oohs and aahs from the spectators lined along Main Street.

Burdett fire trucks make their way, parade-style, from the old fire hall to the new station.

Burdett kicks off its Bicentennial celebration with tours, a history display, parade & dinner

BURDETT, June 2, 2019 -- The Village of Burdett began its year-long celebration of its 200th anniversary Saturday with a number of afternoon and evening activities that coincided with the official opening of its new fire station .

Bus tours focusing on the village's history and on the importance of agricultural and wine production in its evolution were one aspect. They coincided with various local-history displays in the new fire hall's community room.

A book that proved popular was for sale there -- a newly updated history of Burdett titled "Historic Burdett Celebrates 200 Years: 1819-2019." It was "presented by the Ladies' Wednesday Afternoon Club."

Down in the heart of the village, there were various vendors along with live music. Come 4 p.m., a half-dozen fire department trucks made their way, sirens and horns going, from the old fire hall, located in the middle of the business district, to the new station on the edge of town.

There, State Senator Tom O'Mara read a proclamation he brought from the New York Legislature honoring the village on its 200 years. Mayor Dale Walter thanked everyone involved in the creation of the new fire station, and following remarks by Schuyler County Legislator Phil Barnes, copies of the new history book were presented to Senator O'Mara, Mayor Walter and Paul Bartow, representing the Schuyler County Historical Society.

Dinner was then served to a large throng in the bays of the new fire hall, with a fireworks show following at dusk in the sky above the village.

Photos in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara reads the congratulatory proclamation; and bus tour participants enter the Catharine Valley Winery during the agriculture and winery tour.

The old Burdett fire hall was the locale for several vendors during Saturday's celebration.

The new fire station, where dinner was served. A history display was set up in the community room on the near side of the building.

Left: Mayor Dale Walter speaking in the new fire station. Right: Fire Chief Jason Kelly.

New York State Senator Tom O'Mara, left, greets businessman Ted Marks at the new station.

Local schools were among the many historical subjects on display in the community room.

The Honor Guard fires off a salute during the Memorial Day ceremony near Odessa.

Memorial Day services honor the fallen

SCHUYLER COUNTY, May 28, 2019 -- Memorial Day services were held at three locales in Schuyler County Monday to honor those who have died in defense of freedom while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

The events were held at Shequagah Falls Park in Montour Falls, at the Watkins Glen Community Center, and at the Schuyler County Veterans Memorial Park outside Odessa.

In addition, Odessa Mayor Gerry Messmer, a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel, gave the keynote address in Interlaken, where he once resided. His speech can be found below.

Montour Falls: The keynote was delivered by the Chemung Canal Trust Company's Watkins Glen and Montour Falls manager, Bruce Boughton, a Command Sergeant Major with the 479th Engineer Battalion at Fort Drum, New York.

He discussed his tours of duty, the fellow soldiers lost on those tours, and the meaning of Memorial Day -- "when we pay tribute to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. We'll never forget."

Mayor John King served as emcee, and extolled the contibutions made by Townsend native Jane Delano a century ago as chair of the Red Cross Nursing Service and in World War I. She died in France during that war.

Members of the Odessa-Montour High School Band performed two selections, with band member Hannah Rosier reading Flander's Field.

Bagpiper Tom Leslie played twice, including "Amazing Grace," and William Christofffels sang The National Anthem and "God Bless America," accompanied on keyboard by his wife, Donna.

Watkins Glen: The keynote speaker was Watkins Glen Mayor Luke Leszyk, with brief remarks by Schuyler County Legislator Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen American Legion post 555's Keith Caslin, the Ladies Auxiliary's Marianne Webster, AM Vets Commander Eddy Vaughn Jr., and Father Steve Lape of St. Mary's of the Lake Church.

Presenting the flag were members of Boy Scout Troop 2674, led by Rick Evans.

Leszyk discussed Memorial Day and his own 23-year military service, which culminated in retirement as a Naval Officer. A veteran of the Gulf War, he also was a New York State Police Trooper for 23 years, including 12 in Schuyler County.

Odessa: Schuyler County Veterans Service Agency Director Joan Scott -- a military veteran herself -- gave the keynote address, providing a history of the role of women in the military, leading eventually to their enrollment in service academies -- including West Point, where this year's graduating class of 1,000 included 223 women.

A Community Chorus led by Kim Laursen sang "Battle Hymn of the Republic." And the Odessa-Montour High School Band was on hand to perform, as it had in Montour Falls.

Photos in text:

Top: The Color Guard at the Montour Falls ceremony.
Second: Montour Falls keynote speaker Bruce Boughton.
Third: Watkins keynote speaker Luke Leszyk, right, with County Legislator Phil Barnes.
Bottom: Odessa keynote speaker Joan Scott.

The Community Chorus sings "Battle Hymn of the Republic" during Odessa's ceremony.

Left: The O-M High School Band performed at the Montour and Odessa ceremonies. Right: the American flag was on display atop a fire truck ladder outside the Watkins ceremony.

Left: William Christoffels sang at the Montour Falls ceremony. Center: Rick Lewis, commander of American Legion Post 676, was emcee of the Odessa ceremony. Right: A member of the Color Guard at the Montour Falls gathering.

Members of American Legion Post 555 pose with keynote speaker Luke Leszyk (in suit) before the start of the ceremony at the Watkins Glen Community Center.

'It's a day of thanks for the valor of others'

The following speech was written and presented in Interlaken on May 27, 2019 by:
LTC (R) Gerard J. Messmer III
Operation Enduring Freedom-Afghanistan 2004
Operation Iraqi Freedom 2007-2009

From the American Revolution to Afghanistan and Iraq, our men and women have always, without hesitation, answered the call in our hour of need.

I would like to take just a moment and recognize all those among us who have served or are currently serving, as well as any here who have lost a loved one in service to this Great Nation.

We celebrate Armed Forces Day for those currently serving in uniform, Veterans Day for those who used to wear the uniform, and Memorial Day for those who never made it out of uniform.

Today we are humbled by their sacrifices, as we know they were great, and we commend the demonstrations of courage and strength that the families have shown throughout these most difficult of times.

It’s a day of thanks for the valor of others, a day to remember the splendor of America and those of her children who rest in this cemetery and others. It’s a day to be with the family and remember.

It seems like only yesterday that I joined the United States Army as a second lieutenant -- in fact, 33 years ago this month.

Like any young Soldier, I had no idea what was ahead of me during my career. What I can tell you is that from the day I was old enough to stand in the green grass where you are now, I wanted to serve this great Nation ...

But what I didn’t understand then was that living hell called war that I would be called to serve in.

That changed as I was twice called upon to serve in combat, both in Afghanistan and Iraq.  That mystical living hell became reality.  

That reality woke me to the death and fog of war. To rise each day wondering if this was my last ...

It took me 31 years of service to truly understand what a Soldier gives.  

I have served in dozens of countries and have seen the wealth of America and left it to serve in the poverty of the poorest Nations of the world.

I have seen the destitute, the maimed and the orphaned. Lived in conditions you would not believe if I told you. Been cold, wet, hot, hungry, near dehydration and watched tracer rounds inches from my face so far from home, so far from my family, so far from my beautiful wife Cathy and so lonely I wondered if I would ever return.

I have felt the emptiness of isolation, the tension of having to make life and death decisions, and walked on point wondering if the next bullet was meant for me.

Like those before me, we do this freely, we volunteer. We do it because we believe in this great Nation. We believe in the Constitution and life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We believe that our children deserve the right to grow up free to achieve the American Dream. I would never change my chosen profession, nor ask another to serve in my stead.

Today we are still a Nation at war. Every day we fight the Global War on Terror. This war is real, and what is at stake? Our future, our freedom and our way of life. What is at stake is the United States of America, that beacon of hope and light to the world.  

They want the American way of life -- our ideals -- to crumble, never to rise again. They want to extinguish that beacon.

It cost me good friends like Master Sergeant Art Lilly and like Staff Sergeant Victor Cota, who protected me on countless convoys in Baghdad, until he succumbed to wounds from an IED on a convoy I was supposed to be on but was called away from at the last minute.  I would have been sitting right behind him. Would I have survived that blast?

It is an unexplainable experience. From the outside looking in, you can never understand it, and from the inside looking out, I can never explain it.

What can also never be explained is the hole left behind when a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine is killed in action -- a hole that is left in the unit, in friendships, and in families.  

It is a void that can never be filled, never healed.

For those of us that return, we can only believe that, but for the Grace of God, go I.

Memorial Day is a day we as the country come together to honor and remember our servicemen and women who answered America’s call to service and paid the ultimate price on the fields of battle.

Memorial Day is the time for Americans as one body to stand up and say, “Thank you. We remember you. We are grateful to you.”

We must remember our fallen ...


No mission is ever too difficult, and no sacrifice is too great when it comes to preserving our freedoms and protecting our Nation.

American servicemen and women are unique in that they cherish not only their freedom, but your freedom so much that they are willing to die for it and for you.

They serve in lands far from home and answer the call to defend the freedom and liberty of not only our country, but of other countries around the globe.

They serve for those who cannot and for those who will not. It does not matter to them.  They are guided by duty, honor and country.

We honor their loved ones. Mothers. Fathers. Sisters. Brothers. Sons. Daughters. Friends. Every year, families of the fallen are joined together and bound by loss in a way most of us can’t even imagine ...

Take the time, not just on Memorial Day, but every day, to say thank you to our fallen. For those who never left the battlefields, we must hold them up in our hometowns and honor their memories.

Say thank you for men like Interlaken native, Lance Corporal John Ingalls, killed in Beirut in 1983, and the many like John, my high school classmate. Say thank you to our Gold Star families and ask them to tell you about their loved one, if they wish.

We should spend time reflecting on their service and sacrifice and live in gratitude each and every day for the precious gift they have given to us: Freedom.

Philosopher John Stewart Mill may have phrased it best when he stated, “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling, which thinks nothing is worth war, is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing he cares about than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free.”

Close your eyes and picture in your mind the Soldier at Valley Forge, as he holds his musket in his bloody hands. He stands barefoot in the snow, starved from lack of food, wounded from months of battle and emotionally scarred from the eternity away from his family, surrounded by nothing but death and the carnage of war.

He stands tough, with fire in his eyes and victory on his breath. He looks at us now in anger and tells us this:

"I gave you a birthright of freedom born in the Constitution and now your children graduate too illiterate to read it.

"I fought in the snow barefoot to give you the freedom to vote and you stay at home because it rains.

"I left my family destitute to give you the freedom of speech and you remain silent on critical issues because it might be bad for business.

"I orphaned my children to give you a government to serve you and you let it steal your freedoms from you."

I would like to close with a poem called:

A Eulogy for a Veteran

Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the Gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight,
I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die.

Thank you, and may God bless and keep our fallen and their families, and may God Bless the United States of America.

Photo in text: Odessa Mayor and Retired Army Lt. Col. Gerry Messmer.

Crout named Lou Sand Award winner

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, May 24, 2019 -- Schuyler Hospital announced Keith Crout as the recipient of the 2019 Lou Sand Award at its annual Employee Recognition Dinner on May 8.

Crout, of the Facilities Department, was nominated for the award by his coworkers.

Highlights from his multiple nominations included:

--“He is always willing to go above and beyond the call."
--"He is a talented craftsman who is very careful with his work."
--"He is pleasant and chatty to the residents."
--"He deserves this award as he is a true testament to a great worker, great friend and true asset to the organization.”
“He is always friendly, very helpful and a joy to have any interaction with. Seeing him in passing will make your day."
--"Hands down he is one of our most consistently pleasant employees.”

Schuyler Hospital annually gives the award in memory of Lou Sand to an employee who demonstrates exemplary service to others, and whose compassionate commitment of service to their fellow employees, patients, residents and community brightens the lives of those they touch; traits exemplified by Lou Sand.

For more information, contact Schuyler Hospital at (607) 535-7121 or email

Photo in text: Keith Crout, recipient of Schuyler Hospital’s 2019 Lou Sand Award, with his wife, Karen. (Photo provided)

Hospital recognizes 660 years of service

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, May 24, 2019 -- Schuyler Hospital recognized employees for 5 to 40 years of service at its annual Employee Recognition Dinner on May 8.

In all, 47 employees were recognized for a total of 660 years of combined experience at the hospital and skilled nursing facility.

The evening’s celebration was held at Watkins Glen International’s Glen Club.

In presenting the years of service awards, Hospital President Jim Watson expressed his appreciation for the dedication shown to the patients, residents and families.

Celebrating 40 years: Patricia Besley and Juanita Kelley
Celebrating 35 years: Cynthia Brown
Celebrating 30 years: Beth Wilbur
Celebrating 25 years: Becky Farley, Kelly Gleason, Brenda Murrell, and Michele Myers
Celebrating 20 years: Tina Canfield, Denise Deraiche, Debra Hines, Tracey Lewis, Kathleen Palmisano, Brenda Reynolds, Cathy Victor and Cindy Voorhees
Celebrating 15 years: Jackie Collins, Bryan Daugherty, Paula Durfey, and Bonnie Rappleye
Celebrating 10 years: Sheila Barber, Karen Benesh, Patricia Corcoran, Dr. Kristina Cummings, Dr. Michael Eisman, Debra Evans, Rebecca Gee, Alicia Mathews, Amy Russell, Lisa Schoffner, Donald Session, and Valerie Stackhouse
Celebrating 5 years: Shelley Beaumont, Daria Berlin, Kristen Canzler, K. Malia Compese, Grace Fox, Jennifer Guthrie, Betty Hayes, Amanda Kinsman, Zandra Lewis, Sherry McMurray, Mea Ochab, Lu-Ann Panyla, Danielle Schrage, Tristan Waltz, and Judy Wojtyna

For more information or career opportunities, contact Schuyler Hospital at (607) 535-7121 or email

Photo in text: From left: At Schuyler Hospital’s recent Employee Recognition Dinner, Beth Wilbur celebrated 30 years, Cynthia Brown celebrated 35 years, Michele Myers celebrated 25 years, and Patricia Besley celebrated 40 years. (Photo provided)

Burdett will mark its 200 years with celebration June 1 beginning at 12 noon

Special to The Odessa File

BURDETT, May 19, 2019 -- The Village of Burdett is planning a bicentennial celebration to be held on Saturday, June 1st. Village Mayor Dale Walter says the kick-off to a year-long celebration has been in the works for some time.  

“A group of dedicated village residents sat down with myself and village trustees over a year ago to begin making plans for the occasion,” he said.

Burdett was established in 1819. Today, the Schuyler County village along the east side of Seneca Lake along State Route 79 is home to about 350 residents and several businesses.

Walter says the Burdett Volunteer Fire Department recently moved into its new firehouse.

“The effort to secure funding and build a village hall and new firehouse has taken 29 years," he said. "Burdett officials and firefighters will show off the project with an open house as part of the celebration.”

The festivities begin at noon, rain or shine, along Main Street, which will be closed to traffic between Church Street and Lake Avenue. Organizers say more than a dozen arts and crafts vendors will participate in the event. Declan’s Lemonade will offer cold drinks. Burdett Presbyterian Church will offer ice cream cones, sundaes and root beer floats. Berta’s Café and The Old H&E Grill will be open. My Place Play & Learning Center will provide activities for the kids. A pie-eating contest is planned at 2 p.m. Cornhole boards for free play will be available throughout the afternoon at The Old H&E grill. The afternoon will feature live music provided by Jamie Potter, Erich Asperschlager, Scott Adams and Brett Beardsley and Due South.

From noon to 6 p.m., there will be historic displays in the community room at the new firehouse, along with a PowerPoint presentation on the history of the Burdett Volunteer Fire Department and its volunteers. There will also be displays by Burdett area artists. The displays were done with the support of the Schuyler County Historical Society.  

The Ladies’ Wednesday Afternoon Club will sell copies of “Historic Burdett Celebrates 200 Years.” The 140-page book looks at notable people and places in and around Burdett. A limited number of copies of the club’s 1984 publication, “Burdett From the Beginning,” will also be available.

Ladies’ Wednesday Afternoon Club members will offer two afternoon tours. A 12:15 narrated bus tour will visit historic sites in and around the village. A $10 ticket includes an old-fashioned ice cream sundae. At 2 p.m., a narrated Ag & Winery bus tour is planned that includes stops at Burdett-area ag sites and tastings at Barry Family Cellars and Catherine Valley Winery. Tickets for the later tour are $20 each. Both tours will start and end at the new firehouse. A limited number of tickets are available for each tour. Contact Marty Evans at 607-592-9696.
At 4:30 p.m., firefighters will make the “official” move by leading a procession of fire trucks and emergency vehicles from the old firehouse to the new firehouse.

Following a short presentation, firefighters will host a free community dinner from 5:30 to 8 p.m. that includes hot dogs, hamburgers, sausage with peppers and onions, chips, cold drinks and dessert.

The day-long festivities will end with fireworks at dusk.

Photo in text: Burdett Mayor Dale Walter (File photo)

Note: Burdett will hold a village-wide yard sale the week before the bicentennial event, on May 25, starting at 8 a.m.

Schuyler Habitat is ready to build 2nd house

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, May 1, 2019 -- Schuyler County Habitat for Humanity is ready to build its second house in Schuyler County at 306 Broadway in the Village of Montour Falls.

The site was bought last year and the property has been cleared and prepared for construction.

After a formal process, the partner family has been chosen and announced. They are Kala Vanderwerff and her children, Pietra, Sonja, Landon, Abraham and Isaiah. The partner family will work with Habitat volunteers to build their home. The United States Department of Agriculture is providing the home financing for the Vanderwerff family.

Community volunteers are needed to construct the home. Information is available from Bob Groll, Habitat President, at Donations to help pay for the house construction are also welcome. All donations are tax deductible and may be sent to Post Office Box 45, Watkins Glen, NY 14891.

Habitat meets on second Wednesdays, 7 p.m., at the Human Services Complex in Montour Falls.

Photo in text: Schuyler County Habitat for Humanity volunteers surround the partner family. (Photo provided)

Fruit production subject of Heritage series

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, April 17, 2019 -- Fruit production in Schuyler County and the region will be explored on Tuesday, April 30, in the third session of Harvesting Schuyler’s Heritage, Conversations About Agriculture Across Time.

Rick Reisinger of Reisinger’s Apple Country, Town of Dix, and Lindsay Wickham of the New York Farm Bureau will be the speakers. The presentations will be at Wickham’s Tango Oaks Farm in Hector starting at 6 p.m. Tango Oaks is located at 5557 Route 414, Hector.

Mangus Farm of Burdett will offer freshly baked fruit pie, by the slice and whole, for purchase. Serving will begin at 5:30 p.m.

Reisinger and Wickham will review the history of fruit production in the region and look at the current industry, as well as what the future holds.

Schuyler County has a long and successful history of commercial fruit tree production, with apples, peaches and cherries topping the list. Grapes and berries are also bountiful. The town of Hector today boasts the highest concentration of fruit-related activity in the county.

Harvesting Schuyler’s Heritage is a partnership of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schuyler County and the Schuyler County Historical Society. The free monthly talks are about past agricultural endeavors in the county and what’s happening in those areas today.

The eight sessions of Harvesting Schuyler’s Heritage are being hosted across the county. Other subjects will be forestry in May, honey production in June, grapes and wine in July, salt production in September and hops and brewing in October.

Contact Cooperative Extension at (607) 535-7161 or the Historical Society at (607) 535-9741 for more information.

Scores of firefighters and other emergency personel gathered on Tom Carson's driveway to pay their respects.

A visit to a fellow firefighter

Emergency personnel from around Schuyler County
pay their respects to Tom Carson, very ill with cancer

Editor's Note: Tom Carson passed away on April 22, two days after the visit by his fellow firefighters described in the story and photos here.

MONTOUR FALLS, April 20, 2019 -- They came from around Schuyler County Saturday -- members of fire departments, Emergency Management and ambulance service personnel, and a deputy sheriff.

They were responding to a call issued from the Odessa Fire Department to pay their respects to Tom Carson, longtime firedfighter, former Montour Falls Fire Department chief and frequent emcee at fire department banquets.

"Tommy," as so many of them call him, has been known around these parts since a stellar high school basketball career. He has been volunteering in fire service operations -- Montour and, later, Odessa -- for five decades. And he was a patrolman in Montour when it had a police department for a while years ago.

"He's always taking the time to talk to people," said one firefighter who gathered with about 60 others late Saturday afternoon outside the Montour Falls department -- the chosen staging area. From there, a caravan of fire trucks and other emergency vehicles made the short trip down Montour streets to the corner of Owego Street and Mary Layton Drive, where Tom lives -- and where he's currently undergoing hospice care as he continues a long battle with cancer.

It was that propensity of his to mix with other people that prompted this particular event.

"Tommy has been wanting to come up to visit us in Odessa, have some coffee, but he hasn't been feeling up to it," said Odessa Fire Chief Mike Tomassi. "His birthday is May 20, so we wanted to do this at that time, but he's been struggling. But he's on a new med, and that seemed to perk him up, so I asked his wife if members of the department could come visit him today. Then we sent out word to other departments, and everybody wanted to participate, wanted a chance to see him."

There were representatives there Saturday from the Odessa, Watkins Glen, Montour Falls, Tyrone, Mecklenburg, Valois-Logan-Hector, Monterey, Burdett and Beaver Dams Fire Departments, and from Emergency Management, Schuyler Ambulance and the Sheriff's Office.

Chief Tomassi addressed the gathering in front of the Montour Falls Fire Department bays before the visit, explaining how they could travel to Tom's house with sirens blaring and lights flashing. "I don't care," he said of any strictures that might mitigate against such a show. "It's not my fire district."

The bottom line, he said, was that "we give our love and support to Tom before something happens."

And travel that way they did, the sirens and lights bringing some residents out of their homes to see what was happening on their streets.

After parking on Mary Layton Drive, the visitors made their way on foot to the nearby Carson driveway and backyard, and watched as Tom was brought out of the house in his wheelchair, scanning the assembled throng -- a much larger one than he had expected. All he knew was that the Odessa department was coming. He was lifted, in his chair, down the steps and pushed to a spot on the driveway, near his garage, where he greeted each visitor, one by one. As the sun waned and the temperature dropped, he was provided a hat and jacket.

As each person shook hands with or hugged and kissed Tom Carson, those who had already done so watched from a short distance, smiling. Said one: "It makes so much sense to do this before someone's gone."

At the end, everyone gathered at the end of the driveway, near the trucks parked on the street, posing as a group with Tom Carson front and center.

Then, when the event born of love and respect ended, Tom was pushed back to the stairs leading to his back deck, and lifted in his chair by four men to the deck. He spoke briefly to them from that perch, and then was pushed inside.

And the crowd, some smiling and some somber, headed to their vehicles. And with sirens blaring once again, the caravan pulled onto Owego Street and west, past the front of Tom Carson's house and back into service.

Photos in text:

Top: The visitors posed with Tom Carson near the road after everyone had gotten a chance to visit with him.

Second: Fire trucks parked along Mary Layton Drive, next to the Carson home.

Third and fourth: Bernie MacDougall and Deputy D.C. Butler shake hands with Tom.

Left: Peggy Tomassi visits with Tom Carson. Right: Steve Lawton pays his respects.

Everyone squeezed together for a group photo with Tom Carson on his driveway, the fire trucks parked in the roadway nearby.

Teens pledge to be tobacco-free generation

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, April 5, 2019  -- Members of Schuyler Teens against Alcohol, Nicotine, and other Drugs (STAND) organized students at Odessa Montour High School and Watkins Glen High School to unite against tobacco use recently. Nearly 200 students from the two schools joined thousands of young people nationwide to mark Kick Butts Day, an annual day of youth activism sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. More than 1,000 events were planned across the United States.

For Kick Butts Day, STAND members committed to being tobacco-free and encouraged their peers to do the same by constructing pledge banners that read “# BE THE FIRST Tobacco-Free Generation” that they and fellow students signed during lunch. In a friendly competition between the schools to see who could get more pledge signatures, Watkins Glen edged out Odessa-Montour by about 20 signatures.

Organizing STAND members from Odessa-Montour included Freshmen Gabriel Grover and Aidan Thurston and Seniors Jackie Vincent and Dylan Houseknecht. Organizing members from Watkins Glen were Freshman Skylar Lamagrada and Seniors Wrett and Wyatt Brower.

“We are proud to give our fellow students the opportunity to pledge to not use any tobacco products” said Jackie Vincent, speaking on behalf of STAND.

While cigarette smoking among high school students nationwide has fallen to 8.1 percent, e-cigarette use has risen by an alarming 78 percent in 2018 alone -- to 20.8 percent of the student population. U.S. public health leaders have called youth e-cigarette use an "epidemic" that is addicting a new generation of kids.

In 2018, more than 3.6 million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes. “These youth should be commended for their efforts aimed at raising awareness with their peers,” said Deborah Minor, Director of Public Health. “We as adults need to support their efforts and change this alarming trend to protect our youth from an addiction that will have harmful and long-lasting effects on their health.”

“Most kids don’t look at e-cigarettes and JUULs as tobacco products, but they are,” says Wrett Brower.

“They are just another nicotine delivery system, and kids are getting addicted to them,” added Wyatt Brower.

SCCUDD is a group of dedicated community members, businesses, and agencies that work to prevent, reduce, and delay the onset of substance use among Schuyler County youth by collaborating with community partners, promoting prevention education and substance-free activities, and implementing environmental strategies. SCCUDD works to reduce youth use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs as they can cause lifelong problems.

For more information, or to become involved with SCCUDD, visit SCCUDD online at, or follow SCCUDD on Facebook and Twitter.

Photos in text:

Top: WGHS seniors Wrett (left) and Wyatt Brower. (Photos provided)
Bottom: O-M's Gabriel Grover, Aidan Thurston, Dylan Houseknecht and Jackie Vincent.

Schuyler County Legislator Jim Howell, center, was among the officials on hand.

Woodstock session draws 300, leaves unanswered questions

Organizers detail transportation, security, medical plans, but with this caveat: 'We're still working through it'

WATKINS GLEN, March 28, 2019 -- About 300 people were on hand Wednesday night at the old Middle School in Watkins Glen for a public hearing on the Woodstock 50 festival planned for Aug. 16-18 at Watkins Glen International.

Some left pleased or at last pacified that the festival would not pose a repeat of the overwhelming Summer Jam of 1973, while others left dissatisfied or at least dubious of claims by organizers regarding attendance numbers.

"I'm all for it," said an enthusiastic Montour Falls Mayor John King on his way out of the Watkins Glen Performing Arts Center -- the old Middle School auditorium -- after the two-hour session.

But another -- a Watkins Glen women who works in Ithaca -- called it simply "a good start" and expressed reservations about the status of planning, which while seemingly detailed was repeatedly short of definitive answers. "We're still working through it," was a repeated refrain from the evening speakers -- festival organizers who included the original Woodstock and current Woodstock 50 promoter, Michael Lang.

Each presented plans for various aspects of preparation -- medical, security, transportation and so on -- and fielded questions from the audience.

Some highlights:

--This was the first of a number of informational sessions to be held as planning progresses. Schuyler County Administrator Tim O'Hearn indicated the next one could be in late April or May.

--The organizing team's David Erhlich assured the audience that his group is experienced in festival presentation and is dealing effectively with all pertinent issues.

--Lang said Woodstock 50 -- "a celebration of the values of Woodstock," offering "an amazing time and amazing music" -- will be "mostly for younger people, but I hope you (the older audience) join in." The almost 80 acts announced recently "are solid," he said, with the possibility of a few more added later.

--Festival attendees, Lang said, will start arriving Wednesday of festival week, with the three-days of entertainment set for Friday through Sunday. There will be three main stages, a fourth "for acoustics performances," and possibly a fifth "for other entertainment."

--Tickets, not yet officially available, will apparently not cost as much as rumored. Lange said reports of $900 to $1500 ticket prices are "completely false," but declined to affix a figure. Only three-day passes will be available, with most of the tickets going to campers on an estimated 27,000 WGI campsites. Off-site visitors will still pay for the three days, with the right to come and go all three days. Any tickets offered now on the secondary market "should be ignored," said Lang, "since they don't have any." He gave no specific date for ticket availability, and said no large blocks of tickets will be sold to resale groups.

--Traffic flow will be planned largely on the basis of zip codes of ticket purchasers, with plans to direct attendees along specific major routes coming in from the east, south and west, with some from the north. Planning is necessarily fluid now, with coordination with State DOT officials and local officials.

--Plans call for live streaming of the festival, which Lang said should keep down the number of people on hand. The subject of crowd size was brought up repeatedly, with audience members asking what will happen if 200,000 extra people show up. Lang and Erhlich insisted that there is no way a repeat of the Summer Jam crowd -- 600,000 people -- could occur with a proliferation of festivals today diluting the attraction of any single festival. And Erhlich said a study of recent festivals in Florida and Tennessee showed no attendance beyond the number of tickets initially sold.

--When audience members kept asking how organizers could guarantee that all of those extra people won't show up, Lang answered: "I can't guarantee it won't snow in the summer. But it's just not realistic." When asked what would happen if they did, he responded "We won't let them in. But we don't anticipate many" beyond the number of tickets sold. "It hasn't happened anywhere in the country in the last 20 years. Plus it will be live streamed." Of those who do have tickets, there will be an age cut-off determined in the near future -- "an age under which we will not provide a ticket, and above which we will."

--Lang was evasive when it came to the exact number of tickets to be sold: the cap. He referred to the 27,000 camping sites at WGI, with an average (based on experience) of 2.4 people per campsite, with a cap of 4 people. Another 2,000 or so were anticipated each day on a day-to-day basis (but, again, with three-day passes). One audience member finally came to his defense, pointing out that even at 4 people per campsite, that would amount to little more than the estimated 100,000 at a NASCAR event at WGI. And WGI, he pointed, out, has handled such a crowd annually with great success. The crowd size would "not be wildly different," he said.""We should be encouraged by the level of organization that has gone into this."

--Lang said accountability stopped with the organizers in the eventuality, as one questioner put it, that "things go wrong."

--Bicyclists will be allowed to the festival site, but must leave their bikes at the gate. "Once there," said one organizer, "you're a pedestrian." As for people walking to the site, there appears to be concern over their safety (along Route 16 leading to WGI), although residents within a certain perimeter might be permitted to do so.

--Firefighters from local departments will be consulted as the planning process develops as to the needs of the festival and the needs of the area communities. Local vending opportunities will also be explored, with an application process developed. As for the security of local residences, a plan is being developed to include that, as well.

--Security will include "a 24/7 eye in the sky," said one organizer. State police will be buttressed by Sheriff's departments from around the region, and private security.

--Day parking will be free, or at least that's what's envisioned now. That will involve parking at negotiated sites within a 10-minute bus drive to the WGI grounds -- with buses carrying day attendees to and fro. Upon entering the grounds of WGI, attendees will be subjected to a security check to weed out such things as weapons or illegal substances, subject to permanent forfeit.

--Ehrlich stressed that "this is the middle of the process." He and Lang urged those interested in obtaining tickets or other updates to keep track on the website. Further information can also be obtained at

Photos in text:

Top: Promoter Michael Lang addresses the audience.
Second: David Erhlich of the festival operations team.
Third: County Administrator Tim O'Hearn offered an introduction.
Bottom: Area resident Angeline Franzese was among audience members with questions.

Annual fund drive set for Sheriffs' Institute

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, March 22, 2019 --  The New York State Sheriffs’ Institute will soon begin its annual Honorary Membership drive in Schuyler County, according to Sheriff William E. Yessman, Jr.

The New York State Sheriffs’ Institute was established in 1979. It is a not-for-profit corporation, tax exempt organization, and contributions to the Institute are tax deductible.

While the Sheriff’s Office is a unit of county government, many of the concerns of Sheriffs and other law enforcement agencies are best addressed on a statewide level. The Sheriffs’ Institute provides centralized training programs and services for all Sheriffs’ Offices, where those programs and services would be unavailable or impractical on a single-county basis.

The flagship program of the Sheriffs’ Institute is the Sheriffs’ Summer Camp for economically challenged children. The Sheriffs’ Camp, in its 42nd year of operation, is located on Keuka Lake, and 840 children from across New York State attend each summer. The Sheriffs’ Institute pays the entire cost of the camp stay and transportation. Most children attending wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity for vacation travel or a summer camp experience.

The Sheriffs’ Camp program combines summer recreation with activities designed to teach an understanding of, and respect for, our laws and the men and women who enforce them. The strong camper-to-counselor ratio allows for individual attention with an emphasis on the development of self esteem.

“In these difficult economic times we cannot forget our youth who will not have the opportunity for a summer camp experience or a summer vacation,” Sheriff William E. Yessman, Jr. said. “By becoming an honorary member you are supporting the Sheriffs’ Summer Camp for economically disadvantaged children.”

In addition, the Sheriffs’ Institute operates a scholarship program that provides one scholarship to each of New York State’s Community Colleges' Criminal Justice Programs. This program is designed to help attract the best and the brightest to the criminal justice vocation.

For more information about the Sheriffs’ Summer Camp and other Sheriffs’ Institute Programs, visit or simply google  “Sheriffs’ Institute kids” and it will be your first option.

Financial support for many of the Sheriffs’ Institute programs comes from Honorary Membership dues. Invitations for Honorary Membership are extended on a non-partisan basis, and the invitees are selected at random. Any persons interested in supporting the efforts of the New York State Sheriffs’ Institute by becoming an Honorary Member should contact the Sheriff if they do not receive an invitation in the mail, or visit: to download an application.

All donations made to the New York State Sheriffs’ Institute are tax deductible.

Dr. William Mullaney named CCC president

Special to The Odessa File

CORNING, March 20, 2019 -- The Regional Board of Trustees at SUNY Corning Community College has appointed Dr. William Mullaney as the next president of the College. Mullaney has more than 20 years of experience serving in leadership capacities in academia.

Mullaney will begin work as the College’s 7th president on July 1, 2019, succeeding Dr. Katherine P. Douglas, who will retire on June 30, 2019, after serving the institution for eight years, and following a distinguished career in higher education spanning more than four decades.

“Dr. Mullaney brings a wealth of experience to the College and will be a strong partner with the community,” said SUNY Corning Community College RBOT Board Chair Carl H. Blowers. “He has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the community college vision, illustrated his innovative spirit and commitment to meeting workforce needs, and he has a history of serving as a passionate advocate and champion for student success.

"We look forward to a smooth transition from the current presidency -- with Dr. Kate Douglas at the helm -- and send best wishes as she begins a new chapter. The College is grateful for her leadership and contemporary thinking that has been the foundation for the great strides made during her tenure.” 

Mullaney is currently the Vice President of Academic Affairs at Bergen Community College in Paramus, N.J. He previously served as Assistant to the Executive Vice Chancellor at the Maricopa Community Colleges District Office in Tempe, Ariz. Dr. Mullaney earned a Doctor of Philosophy in English from Tulane University in New Orleans, La.; a Master of Arts in Literature from the University of California, San Diego; and a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville.

“I am honored to have been selected to lead SUNY Corning Community College as its next President,” Mullaney said. “I look forward to carrying on the legacy of innovation and distinction that Kate has embraced at SUNY CCC and to meeting the educational and workforce needs of the region.”

A search committee chaired by Nancy Wightman, vice-chair of the College’s Regional Board of Trustees, and comprised of trustees, alumni, faculty, administrators, students, and community members worked with ACCT Searches, a consulting firm, to identify the College’s next president. Applications were received from more than 50 candidates. Over the course of six months, the field was narrowed to three highly qualified candidates who all presented in open forums to the campus and community. SUNY Corning Community College’s Regional Board of Trustees voted unanimously in favor of Mullaney, as did the SUNY Board of Trustees.

Photo in text: Dr. William Mullaney (Photo provided)

Performers in the Artists in Residence concert pose in front of the WGHS auditorium stage. (Photo by Ashlyn Karius)

Artists in Residence program yields concert

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, March 17, 2019 -- The annual Artists in Residence program at Watkins Glen High School recently concluded with an evening concert in the school auditorium featuring performances from more than 20 students.

The program -- run annually by artists Rosie Newton, Katie McShane and Jesse Heasly --allows students to work one-on-one with the artists and develop their musical skills. It was begun more than 20 years ago under the auspices of bassist Hank Roberts of Ithaca, who handed off the reins several years ago to Newton, McShane and Heasly.

Among the performers were Jack Muir playing his original song Sleepless, Mrs. Kelsey Pinette and Mr. Travis Durfee playing We Are The World by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, Scott Brubaker singing The Other Side from the movie "The Greatest Showman," Maria Brubaker singing You by Dodie Clark, Elaina Rodriguez singing Crazy by Patsy Kline, and vocal and instrumental performances by many other young artists.

Photos in text:

Top: Maria Brubaker performs You by Dodie Clark.
Bottom: Jack Muir plays his original song Sleepless. (Photos by Ashlyn Karius)

Left: Elaina Rodriguez sings Crazy by Patsy Kline. Right: Scott Brubaker sings The Other Side from "The Greatest Showman." (Photos by Ashlyn Karius)

Harvesting Schuyler's Heritage 2nd session: Cheesemaking talk at Catharine creamery

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, March 8, 2019 -- Cheesemaking in Schuyler County and the region will be explored on Thursday, March 21 at Sunset View Creamery in the second session of “Harvesting Schuyler’s Heritage, Conversations About Agriculture Across Time.”

Carmella Hoffman, founder and owner of Sunset View Creamery in Catharine, and Heather O’Grady-Evans, a key organizer of the annual Finger Lakes Cheese Festival at Sunset View, will be the speakers. O’Grady-Evans will review the history of cheesemaking in the area, and Hoffman will discuss the current industry.

“Harvesting Schuyler’s Heritage” is a partnership of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schuyler County and the Schuyler County Historical Society. The free monthly talks are about past agricultural endeavors in the county and what’s happening in those areas today.

“Being part of the agriculture history in Catharine since 1905, we’re pleased to welcome Cooperative Extension and the Historical Society to the farm and creamery to share our cheese history and the history of cheesemaking in the region,” Hoffman said.

A macaroni and cheese supper featuring Hoffman’s own Sunset View recipe will start the March 21 event. Serving will begin at 5:30 p.m. The cost will be $6, and all proceeds will be donated by Sunset View to young Greyson Schock of Odessa to help with medical expenses as he battles leukemia.

The talks will begin at 6 p.m., and they will be followed by a free tasting of Sunset View cheeses and a wine sampling.

Sunset View Creamery is located at 4970 County Road 14, Catharine.

The eight sessions of “Harvesting Schuyler’s Heritage” are being presented across the county. Other “Harvesting Schuyler’s Heritage” subjects will be fruit production in April, forestry in May, honey production in June, grapes and wine in July, salt production in September and hops and brewing in October

Contact Cooperative Extension at (607) 535-7161 or the Historical Society at (607) 535-9741 for more information.

Woodstock focus of session; State Police give safety report

Public meeting set for March 27 at Middle School;
Promoter Lang talks about festival, but is mum on acts

WATKINS GLEN, March 7, 2019 -- A trio of State Police officials from Albany met with the Schuyler County Legislature and members of the Dix Town Board Wednesday morning in executive session to discuss safety preparations for the planned Woodstock 50 festival at Watkins Glen International from August 16 to 18.

Also on hand were County Administrator Tim O’Hearn, representatives of the Schuyler County Sheriff’s Office and Emergency Services, WGI President Michael Printup and other WGI personnel, and the event promoter, Michael Lang -- who discussed the festival after the executive session was concluded.

When the closed-door meeting -- which lasted an hour-and-a-half in the Legislature chambers in the County Building -- was over, O’Hearn explained its purpose. The three officials from the State Police office gave a presentation relating to "law enforcement and security issues" on festival weekend.

O’Hearn would not provide specifics on the State Police talk, saying “I can’t really talk about executive session, other than that it dealt with public safety.”

As for ongoing preparations, he said, “All of the planning needs to be finalized,” which includes “a host” of subjects involving medical matters, public safety, traffic and other concerns. The state Department of Health will, if satisfied, approve a Mass Gathering Permit. The county, he said, “mirrors the state,” with the Legislature eventually, if satisfied, issuing its own permit. Along the way, he said Town of Dix officials would participate, since the WGI track is in Dix.

Come March 27, he said, he will make good on a promise he made to area residents at the last Legislature meeting to keep them informed. On that day, at 6 p.m., a public meeting will be held at the Performing Arts Center in the old Middle School on Decatur Street.

“It’s the result of the public participation at the last meeting,” he said, the culmination of that promise. It will be an update “and all questions being asked will have answers to them, and the people who can answer them will be there -- the producers, WGI, all the people responsible for putting the event together.”

The producer, Lang, spoke to a media representative after the executive session amid the din of various pockets of discussion by attendees. He said he is “back and forth over time” between his home in Woodstock (Ulster County) and the WGI track.

“You live in Woodstock,” the reporter echoed, bemused.

Lang laughed. “Yes, it’s in my blood.”

He said that 80 acts are lined up for the three-day festival: “big acts,” though he declined to specify any, saying an announcement would be forthcoming “in two weeks.”

Is he enjoying the planning process?

“Yes, I am.”

Was anything that might be held at Bethel Woods -- site of the original Woodstock festival -- of concern? There had been plans to hold an anniversary celebration there on the same weekend as WGI's before Bethel Woods reduced it in scope. But music is reportedly still planned there.

“It’s disintegrated,” Lang said. “It’s just a concert now. I love that place, but it was ridiculous. When it came out (about the Bethel anniversary festival) we put them on notice because they can’t use the name Woodstock,” which Lang -- who co-organized the original-- controls.  Besides, Bethel Woods is “just a 15,000-seat venue; no comparison” to Watkins Glen International. He said the plan here is to issue 100,000 tickets.

As for Wednesday’s meeting, he said it was necessary because “we need to know” the plans and roles of the various stakeholders so everyone can get a handle on “traffic, safety on-site, medical” and other issues. “It’s the only way to do it. It’s the right way to do it.”

He said a recurrence of the massive 1973 Summer Jam gathering in Watkins Glen won’t happen. “That was a different time. That was the only one after Woodstock; it was the only thing available, so everybody went.”

He said social media works to his benefit in organizing and publicizing the August festival, and that he sees no downside with technological advances like GPS, where attendees might approach from a number of directions and roads.

As for the number of troopers who will be utilized -- as the main law enforcement presence -- he said “we have to figure that out. But we’ll (also) probably have 1,000 security of our own.”

So it will be heavily guarded, the reporter confirmed.

“Yes, it will. Listen, here’s my card, my phone number and email,” Lang said. “And I’ll make sure you’re notified of developments.”

“Well, thanks,” the reporter said. “Care to give out with any of the acts?"

Lang smiled.

“I can’t.”

Photos in text:

Top: Michael Lang chats with Legislator Jim Howell after the executive session.
Bottom: WGI President Michael Printup was among officials present at the meeting.

Man in chase sentenced on earlier charges

WATKINS GLEN, March 5, 2019 -- The man who crashed his car at the end of a police chase on Jan. 17 was sentenced in Schuyler County Court Monday on three felonies to which he was supposed to be sentenced on the day of the chase.

Jazmany Caraballo, 37, of Reading Center had pleaded guilty to Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance 3rd Degree (a Class B felony), Attempted Assault 2nd Degree (a Class E felony) and Criminal Mischief 3rd Degree (a Class E felony) on Sept. 27, 2018. He was scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 17, but failed to appear in court -- instead bolting from the parking lot of the County Building (which houses County Court) and driving north to Yates County.

Authorities said he was then spotted by law enforcement personnel and chased back toward Watkins Glen. He crashed avoiding a roadblock north of the Elks Lodge on Route 14 and hit another vehicle, injuring two people in the second car, police said. Caraballo was hospitalized locally.

A plea bargain originally in place was scrapped, and sentencing proceeded Monday -- with other charges related to the chase yet to be settled. They will be dealt with later, the Schuyler County District Attorney’s office said in a press release, “as they work their way through the criminal justice process.”

Monday’s sentencing, the DA’s office wrote, saw Chief Assistant D.A. Matthew C. Hayden “argue that the defendant, who had a prior Armed Robbery felony conviction in Massachusetts, should be sentenced at the very high end of the scale for his offenses.”

Hayden further said “that the defendant had no regard for the safety and well-being of others, and that he was a detriment to society.” Hayden asked that the judge, Dennis J. Morris, “sentence the defendant consecutively for his offenses so as to maximize his incarceration and thereby prevent him from further endangering the community.”

Morris sentenced Caraballo to 2 to 4 years in state prison on each of the Class E felonies (meaning 4 to 8 years), and to 7 years in state prison plus 3 years of post-release supervision on the Class B felony, runnng concurrently with the 4-to-8 sentence. Caraballo was also ordered to pay $24,642.74 in restitution related to his crimes.

Photo in text: Damaged car at the scene of the Jan. 17 roadblock.

Zonta exhibit opens at Brick Tavern Museum

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Feb. 28, 2019 -- Zonta International, a service organization of professional women, is marking its 100th anniversary this year, and the Schuyler County Historical Society’s Brick Tavern Museum has opened a new exhibit that particularly honors the Watkins Glen-Montour Falls Zonta Club.

The exhibit will be in place through April.

The local club was chartered in May 1925. Included in the exhibit is a bell that was presented to the local club on April 2, 1928. The bell is still used at Zonta meetings.

Zonta International was established on Nov. 8, 1919, when “a small group of pioneering women came together in Buffalo, New York with a vision to help all women realize greater equality while using their individual and collective expertise in service to their community,” according to the organization’s website.

Today, Zonta has more than 29,000 members in 63 countries. Its headquarters are in Oak Brook, IL.

The Schuyler County Historical Society celebrates and honors the history of the county at the Brick Tavern Museum, Wickham Rural Life Center and Lee School. Hours at the Brick Tavern Museum and Wickham Rural Life Center are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursday 2-8 p.m. Admission is free. The Historical Society is supported in part by a TAP grant administered by the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce.

Getman announces run for County Judge

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Feb. 25, 2019 -- Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman has officially launched his campaign for County Court Judge. Getman is a lifelong Republican who resides in Watkins Glen and currently serves as the Schuyler County Attorney.

“Our new judge must have experience to handle not only criminal cases, but also challenging civil, Family Court and Surrogate’s Court cases,” said Getman. “I believe that my current duties serving as County Attorney, coupled with my previous experience as a Social Services Attorney, Public Defender, private practice attorney and College Instructor, make me uniquely qualified for the role of County Court Judge.”

The County Judge post is opening with the announced intention of incumbent Dennis Morris to retire at the end of May. The election for a 10-year term is set for November 5th. One other person has announced his candidacy -- Schuyler County Chief Assistant District Attorney Matt Hayden.

Since 2015, Getman has served as the County Attorney for Schuyler County. He previously served as Assistant County Attorney for three years before being promoted to the top job. In these roles, Getman has served as the chief legal advisor to approximately 250 county employees, including the County Administrator and County Legislature. He and his staff have handled thousands of cases, prosecuted and defended civil actions, appeared in numerous courts, and drafted legislation. In addition, his office prosecutes family court cases involving child abuse and neglect, juvenile delinquency and child support violations.

Prior to taking office as County Attorney, Getman was Assistant County Attorney from 2012 to 2015 and, before that, he served as an attorney for children in Schuyler County Family Court and as a member of the Schuyler County Assigned Counsel Panel, representing clients in both criminal court and family court.  

An attorney since 1992, Getman has worked for several other government agencies over the years:  the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (law school intern); the office of New York State Assemblyman Mike Nozzolio (college intern/volunteer); the Seneca County Public Defender, Department of Social Services, STOP-DWI, and County Attorney’s Office. In addition, Getman has served as an attorney for various towns in the Finger Lakes area, including as special co-counsel for the Town of Dix in certain real property tax certiorari matters. He has prosecuted violations of local laws and served as a special prosecutor in cases involving both misdemeanors and felonies in criminal court. 

Beyond his service as an accomplished attorney, Getman has been an Adjunct Instructor at Keuka College for the past seven years. His courses have focused on criminal justice and constitutional law.

“As an attorney, public officer and educator, I am a firm believer in the Constitution and Bill of Rights -- and that includes the Second Amendment,” said Getman. “I look forward to a spirited campaign season to share my values and qualifications with the voters of Schuyler County.”

Getman, 54, is a graduate of Hofstra University, Ithaca College and Cornell University. He is a life member of the NRA and a member of Schuyler County SCOPE (Shooters Committee On Political Education), the Millport Hunting and Fishing Club, Community Conservation Club, Schuyler County Arc Nominating Committee, Watkins Glen-Montour Falls Lions Club, Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce, New York State Bar Association, Schuyler County Bar Association, National District Attorneys Association, Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, and New York State Defenders Association.

Photo in text: Steven Getman (Photo provided)

Arc of Schuyler breaks ground on Center

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Feb. 15, 2019 -- Construction has started on The Arc of Schuyler’s 210 12th Street, Watkins Glen location to complete renovations and build a 3,800 sq. ft. addition for a new Neighborhood Center.

The Neighborhood Center, according to Jeannette Frank, Executive Director at The Arc of Schuyler, will be available by the end of 2019 for nonprofit agencies to reserve rooms for community classes, meetings and events.

“Volunteers through The Arc’s programs can assist with event promotion, set up, and refreshments,” Frank said. “Our goal is to offer people with disabilities more opportunities to be involved with community members, contribute their talents and explore their interests.”

The Arc’s Capital Campaign, Transformation 2020, continues to raise funds for multiple projects designed to offer people with disabilities more options for community-based services. Anyone interested in learning more about The Arc of Schuyler’s projects or programs and how to make a contribution to the campaign can contact Jeannette Frank at 607-535-6934 or by email

Photo in text: From left: Michael Harvey, Arc Facilities Director; Peter Morse, Architect; Jay Hoffmeier, Arc Board President; Jeannette Frank, Arc Executive Director; Julie Bub, Arc Finance Director; Wendy Shutter, Arc Business Services Director; Kevin Wolfe, Arc Clerk of the Works; and Matt Bragg, Chrisanntha Construction. The group stands on the site where the new Neighborhood Center is to be built. (Photo provided)

Marchers gathered in Seneca Falls on January 19. (Photo by Kathleen Clifford)

About the Seneca Falls Women's March

The following was submitted to The Odessa File by Watkins Glen High School senior Kathleen Clifford, who is interning with this website. It is one of a series of columns she is writing.

By Kathleen Clifford

On Saturday, January 19, 2019, hundreds of women, along with men, gathered in Seneca Falls in 15-degree weather for the 2019 Women’s March.

First, a crowd gathered to hear opening speakers. Speakers included Sally Roesch Wagner, who has a doctorate in women’s studies from UC Santa Cruz, and was a founder of one of the first women’s studies programs in the United States, at CSU Sacramento. After listening to the speakers, the crowd then marched peacefully through the town of Seneca Falls, protesting gender inequality as they held signs high.

Contrary to the beliefs of some, gender inequality is still prevalent in the United States, especially between different races. On average, women’s earnings are 23% lower than white men. When race is factored in, the wage gap grows father. African-American women earn around 67 cents for every Caucasian man’s dollar, and Latina women earn 62 cents. The economic inequality continues into retirement, where older women make up 75% of the older poor, and receive less from retirement income sources than do older men.

The Women’s March protested inequalities such as these. The first women’s march took place in January of 2017, and organizers hoped that the marches would be a sustained campaign. This hope is turning into reality, as the third annual Women’s Marches, plural, took place across the United States on January 19 of this year.

The point of the march itself is not just to protest the injustice, but to bring awareness to it. As in campaigns such as the recent #MeToo movement, media coverage prompts much reevaluation as a society about our everyday actions, and how we react when we are confronted with our own actions that have fostered the creation of inequality. If these actions are not brought to the surface, then they remain forgotten, and will not change. The idea of marching annually for women’s equality is that women will not allow the inequality to go unnoticed, and will continue to bring the issue to the surface until it is fixed.

The Seneca Falls Women’s March has special significance as well, due to its location. Although it doesn’t have the sheer number of protesters that the Washington, D.C. march does, it takes place in the same location as the first Woman’s Rights Convention in 1848, which began the women’s rights movement in the United States. For a long time, the convention itself was not recognized as significant, and the building that the convention was held in was later used as a filling station and a laundromat. Slowly, the role of women in history has become recognized (during the Carter administration Women’s History Month was established nationally). It was only in recent history that the National Park Service was persuaded to turn the original convention building into a historic site. The organizers of that convention listed their grievances, and issued the Declaration of Sentiments. The main right that the women wanted? The right to vote, and take a place in the democracy. Although the movement began at the Convention in 1848, American women did not gain the right to vote until 1920.

The right to vote gave women a semblance of equality towards men, and steadily women have been gaining equality, but yet are still not equal. Economic inequality represents something more; it alludes to women’s worth in the workplace, and the fact that it is valued less than men. In many cases, the treatment of women is not equal, and so they march.

Photos in text: Speeches were presented at the gathering; and future adults were also part of the day. (Photos by Kathleen Clifford)

Dix Town Councilman Dominick Smith, left, and Supervisor Harold Russell at Thursday's meeting called to discuss Woodstock 50 concerns.

Woodstock worries?

Barnes urges patience; State Police officials at Legislature session Monday night could answer some of the questions

WATKINS GLEN, Feb. 8, 2019 -- The Dix Town Board called a Special Meeting Thursday night to discuss concerns -- both their own and those expressed by various of their constituents -- regarding the planned Woodstock 50 concert weekend planned in August at Watkins Glen International.

The meeting, poorly promoted and attracting only a handful of people, was urged by board member Dominick Smith after concerns from various residents prompted him to seek more information. WGI is located in the Town of Dix.

On hand to answer questions was Schuyler County Legislator Phil Barnes, whose message to the board was Be patient until all of the necessary information is obtained.

Toward that end, he said, the Legislature at its meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday (Feb. 11) in the County Building will have on hand high-ranking members of the New York State Police to outline plans for the Woodstock weekend. Up to three such officials might be present, Barnes said, according to information available late Thursday afternoon.

The State Police, Barnes explained, will be in charge of security at the concert -- with a large contingent of them on hand. Barnes said 500 troopers were being assigned. "The State Police will do whatever it takes to make this happen if it can be done safely," he said.

Ultimately, he said, the final go-ahead comes from the Schuyler Legislature -- a rule installed as a result of the mayhem that marked the Summer Jam back in 1973, when an estimated 600,000 people showed up in Schuyler, clogged roadways and left an enormous mess.

Some area residents have expressed concern that another Summer Jam might happen in August -- although unofficial word is that just 110,000 Woodstock tickets will be sold. At this point, there are unknown variables -- such as the band lineup. Right now rumors of that lineup prevail; actual news is lacking.

Communication, Dix Board members said, has been less than stellar -- but Barnes said with state agencies like the State Health Department and the NYS Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services involved, "they will reach out to appropriate local organizations" when "they know their needs. It's better to have them as lead agencies" than depend on much smaller local agencies.

He conceded that there are "a lot of misconceptions; things that I think just aren't true" regarding Woodstock 50. Education about the weekend is needed -- with the Legislature meeting Monday a good starting point.

The Town Board's Smith said it was a lack of information that concerned him most -- that and a lack of involvement on the part of Dix officials. Said Barnes: "In a perfect world, everybody would know their roles by now." But he suggested that the relatively short planning period has altered the natural planning order.

Whereas water and toilet issues have plagued some festivals -- notably Woodstock 99 in Rome, New York, which devolved into looting and arson -- "We've got to have faith in the State Health Department, hope they cross their T's and dot their I's," he said. In the meantime, he added, the public needs more information.

Beyond that, Town High Superintendent Scott Yaw expressed concern about the ability of town roads to withstand the onslaught of thousands of cars and of heavy Greyhound buses that will be used to transport people from Coopers Plains to the WGI track. He was also concerned about the lack of communication -- and urged any residents with similar concerns to attend the Legislature session Monday.

Town Supervisor Harold Russell -- rather than let the meeting meander -- ended it, saying: "There are a bunch of ifs" involved in the Woodstock planning. "So I'm calling the meeting. See you Monday night, Phil."

Responded Barnes: "We just have to be objective and ferret out the facts."

Photos in text: Legislator Phil Barnes (top) and Town Highway Superintendent Scott Yaw at Thursday's meeting.

Victorian Clock: a legacy designed to add beauty to Watkins Glen's Lafayette Park

More park improvement work is scheduled for 2019

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Jan. 30, 2019 -- When a daily walk through the village’s Lafayette Park brought a man great joy, he found a way to express his gratitude.

The Victorian clock in the northwestern corner of the park, at the corner of Fourth and Decatur Streets, is Robert L. Paradiso’s thank-you.

Paradiso, who died in February 2017 at the age of 85, grew up on the flat in Watkins Glen, at Second and Porter streets. Lafayette Park was his playground.

“Our family made our own fun, and a lot of it was in Lafayette Park,” Paradiso’s sister, Jo Pat Wright of Watkins Glen, says. “The park was a gathering place for the neighborhood.”

Wright and sister Mary Cook of Watkins Glen recalled that the park was for softball games in the warm weather and ice skating in the cold. Bonfires in the park were common, too, they said.

After a 60-year career in teaching and finance in Geneva, Paradiso returned to live in his hometown.

“The brightest part of his every day was a walk through Lafayette Park,” Wright said, with Cook adding, “That park helped make him feel at home again.”

Paradiso was able to enjoy those daily walks for three-and-a-half years before his death, his sisters said.

When the details of his estate were announced, the public learned that Paradiso had bequeathed the village $50,000 specifically designated for the beautification and preservation of Lafayette Park.

Working with his family, village officials selected the clock as the cornerstone of Paradiso’s legacy.

From the Verdin Co. of Cincinnati, the “Howard Replica” electric clock has two dial faces. Its color scheme is black and gold, and it stands 10 feet tall.

The clock was installed in the spring of 2018.

“People have mentioned it a lot,” Cook said.

“I refer to it as ‘Bob’s Clock’,” Wright said. “And I refer to the park as ‘ours,’ at least our generation’s.”

Remaining funds from the bequest will be used to take care of the clock and for other park projects not yet identified, according to Michelle Hyde, Watkins Glen parks manager.

Ensuring that future generations will make it "theirs" and continue to embrace Lafayette Park, funds from the village’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative state grant also have been earmarked for Lafayette Park improvements.

On the list are a restroom, sidewalk improvements and more landscaping. Work will begin in 2019.

“The village is elated with Bob’s gift,” Village Trustee Laurie DeNardo said. “He was a true friend and neighbor to our community, and the clock reminds us of his consistent support of our parks and the joy he and his family enjoyed throughout his lifetime.”

Paradiso’s donation follows a long-established practice, as his clock joined other private additions to the park.

The bandstand cupola was donated in memory of Leon “Ham” and Louise Barile Andrews of Watkins Glen. Victorian-style lights, benches and trees around the park were honor installations. The brick columns and wrought-iron gates at the Fourth Street sidewalk to the bandstand also were donated. The gates originally hung at the long-gone Magee Manor and were donated by the Elks Lodge.

Private investments in Lafayette Park will continue. Construction of a fountain on the east side of the park has been offered to the village, and the Schuyler County Italian American Festival committee said it is committed to expanding Legacy Lane, the park’s engraved-brick sidewalk honoring the people and events of Schuyler County.

Photos in text:

Mary Cook, left, and Jo Pat Wright, both of Watkins Glen, are the sisters of Robert L. Paradiso, whose bequest for the beautification of the village’s Lafayette Park led to the installation of the Victorian clock at the corner of Fourth and Decatur streets.

Bottom: Robert L. Paradiso

Eagle Scout's exhibit looks at NY in 1700s

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Jan. 19, 2019 – A trove of family treasures was turned into an Eagle Scout project by a Bath resident, and his work is now on display at the Schuyler County Historical Society’s Brick Tavern Museum.

In the late 1700s, British investors sent Colonel Charles Williamson to explore and encourage settlement in the lands they owned to the west of the Pre-Emption Line, which runs north-south through present-day Schuyler County.

Letters from Williamson to Sir William Pulteney, head of the London Assocation, are cherished by Griffin Bates of Bath and his family.

“I wanted to do this project because these letters were hidden from the public in my family's belongings for a very long time,” said Bates, a sophomore at Corning Community College and graduate of Haverling High School in Bath. He noted that no one knows how or when his family acquired the letters.

“These letters have such a significance to the history of the settlements of Bath, Steuben County, and the region of Western New York, and I felt it was very important that these letters be easily accessible to the public. My father, Rick Bates, is a global history teacher at Bath-Haverling school. My dad is the reason why I am in love with history.”

For his Eagle Scout project for Troop 59, Bates created a display of some of the letters, their transcriptions and information about Williamson, Pulteney and other significant people of the time. He also created a online database of all of the letters and their transcriptions at

Bates’ project is in the Brick Tavern Museum’s research library through Feb. 14.

Bates volunteers at the Finger Lakes Boating Museum in the former Taylor Wine complex in Hammondsport and at the Corning Museum of Glass. At the Boating Museum he works at the front desk, serves on the education committee and manages the Skipper youth docent program. He is in his fourth year in CMOG’s Explainer program for young docents.

After graduation this spring from CCC with an associate’s degree, Bates plans to spend a couple of years gaining some experience in museum work, with an ultimate goal of working his way up through a major museum, such as the Smithsonian Institution.

The Schuyler County Historical Society celebrates and honors the history of the county at the Brick Tavern Museum, Wickham Rural Life Center and Lee School. Hours at the Brick Tavern Museum and Wickham Rural Life Center are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursday 2-8 p.m. Admission is free. The Historical Society is supported in part by a TAP grant administered by the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce.

Photo in text: Griffin Bates of Bath created an Eagle Scout project about the 1700s exploration and European settlement of this region. His display is at the Schuyler County Historical Society’s Brick Tavern Museum through Feb. 14. (Photo provided)

Schuyler Steps Out will be back for 13th year

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Jan. 14, 2019 -- Schuyler Steps Out -- the free community walking program presented by Schuyler Hospital -- will return for its 13th year with a March kickoff.

The program is open to anyone who works or lives in Schuyler County. Teams must register with the hospital by Monday, February 4, 2019.

The program kicks off on Friday, March 8, with an opening celebration and information session. 

While many teams are workplace-based, service clubs, churches and even scouts can form teams. All that’s required is walking daily for eight weeks, logging steps walked, and reporting to the hospital weekly. At the end of the eight-week program, awards are given for most team steps, most valuable “players,” and most improved. 

The program was designed to get people moving in the early spring months, and is a way for the hospital to promote the fight against obesity, diabetes, hypertension and other associated healthcare issues in the community. By encouraging walking regularly, the hospital hopes to foster healthy changes that last beyond the eight-week program.

In 2018, participating teams tallied 184.9 million total steps, or over 51.6 thousand miles – the equivalent of two trips around the Earth. An average of 286 people from 13 teams participated. Grand Prix Fitness walked away the winner.

Schuyler Steps Out is sponsored by Schuyler Hospital and Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. 

For more information, or to sign up your team, contact Tina Rappleye at (607) 210-1950, fax (607) 210-1951, or email

Museum given historic double cuckoo clock

MONTOUR FALLS, Dec. 13, 2018 -- The Schuyler County Historical Society accepted the donation Thursday of a double cuckoo clock that dates back to the 1800s and is believed to have belonged back then to royalty. It has been placed on a wall at the society's Brick Tavern Museum.

The clock was donated by Rick Evans of Burdett, who said he was donating it "because it belongs to the people of Schuyler County. It's part of their history. I don't think very many people know about the story of Valois Castle, so this is going to help tell that incredible story. And it's a beautiful piece of art and clock-making. It's a throwback in time that belongs in a place that's focused on local history. So, I'm glad it's here. I'm going to miss it, but still, I know where it is, and I can come see it. Thank you for taking it."

A clock biography issued by the Historical Society says the following:

"The original Schuyler County home of this Black Forest (Germany) double cuckoo clock was in a private dining room of prominent New York City lawyer Arthur E. Valois, who transformed a Seneca Lake cottage in then-North Hector into Valois Castle, starting in the late 1890s. Valois and his wife hosted celebrities and leaders from around the world in their spectacular home, which was furnished and decorated with many pieces that at one time belonged to Empress Eugenie and Napoleon III of France.

"It is believed the cuckoo clock was among those items given in gratitude by the French royalty to the Empress’s American dentist, Dr. Thomas W. Evans (no relation to donor Rick Evans). Dr. Evans was responsible for helping the Empress escape to England ahead of the 1870 revolution. Arthur Valois was Dr. Evans’ lawyer, and after Evans’ 1896 death, many of the clocks, furniture, tapestries and porcelain given to Evans by the Empress passed into Valois’s ownership.

"After Valois’s death in 1914, his wife sold Valois Castle to Joseph Holt. After the deaths of his parents, Evan Holt opened the Castle as a public resort in about 1925. However, many of the exquisite furnishings had been sold by the Holts. The Castle was destroyed by fire in 1932.

"The cuckoo clock ended up being owned by Sheik Spaulding of Valois, stepfather to donor Rick Evans. Rick recalls meeting Evan Holt when he was young.

"We are grateful to Rick Evans for adding this wonderfully historic piece to the collections of the Schuyler County Historical Society."

Evans said he remembers the clock in the home in which he grew up, and said it has been in his possession for more than 20 years. It has been operational all of that time, he noted.

Photos in text:

Top: Donor Rick Evans tends to the clock.
Bottom: The clock hangs on a Brick Tavern Museum wall, prominently displayed.

Eco-thriller 'Devil's Pipeline' published

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Nov. 29, 2018 -- The third book in a series of eco-thriller novels by Finger Lakes area author Michael J. Fitzgerald was published in late November.

“The Devil’s Pipeline” joins Fitzgerald’s earlier works, “The Fracking War” (2014) and “Fracking Justice” (2015). All three novels chronicle the exploits of newspaper editor and investigative columnist Jack Stafford and his newspaper staff.

In “The Devil’s Pipeline” a mega-energy conglomerate collides with a pacifist farm community in a quiet corner of Iowa where the community's founder and his family have been seeking solitude and tranquility since witnessing the famous Kent State University massacre in 1970.

As the company attempts to push a huge pipeline directly through their farm, the pacifists eventually push back. A tragic skirmish kicks off a rollercoaster of explosive confrontations at the farm, in courtrooms and across a wide political and industrial landscape from Washington D.C. to California.

Author and travel writer Rita Gardner described the novel as “a cautionary tale about unbridled corporate greed and those who battle against our earth’s devastation.”

California author and labor activist Steve Early said the novel takes readers to the front lines of the battle between environmentalists and the fossil fuel industry.

“Fitzgerald’s novel may be fiction, but the conflict between big energy companies and grassroots defenders of land, water and a livable planet is very real,” said Early.

Fitzgerald can be contacted via email at

Dakota Cole achieves Eagle Scout honor

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Nov. 11, 2018 -- Boy Scout Troop 2000's Dakota Cole has earned the Eagle Scout Award.

Troop 2000, chartered by the Five Rivers Council and sponsored by The First Baptist Church of Montour Falls, is led by Scout Master Tammy Cole, Dakota's mother. She and husband Mike Cole live in Beaver Dams. Dakota is also the grandson of Christian and June Merrill of Beaver Dams and Roger and Nancy Cole of Florida.

Dakota’s project was to lead a group of boys in replacing the steps of Faith Baptist Chapel in Gang Mills. The steps were not up to code, so Dakota’s group ripped out the old steps and built a platform and new steps with a wraparound railing meeting Town and Insurance regulations. The group had a total of 672 hours of community-service hours all together.

Donations toward the project were collected from Cargill Salt, Watkins Glen Lumber, Watkins Glen Supply, Finger Lakes Equipment, Home Depot and Dakota’s family members.

Dakota’s Eagle Ceremony will take place in the near future at the convenience of his family.

Photo in text: Dakota Cole and Scout Master Tammy Cole. (Photo provided)

The recognition dinner honorees posed for a photo at the conclusion of the ceremony.

Hotel dinner honors Vietnam-era veterans

WATKINS GLEN, Nov. 12, 2018 -- Dozens of area Vietnam-era veterans were honored Monday night at the third annual "Salute to Vietnam Veterans" at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel.

The event, sponsored by the Watkins-Montour Rotary and Lions Clubs and co-hosted by the Finger Lakes Chapter of the American Red Cross and the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, was emceed by U.S. Navy veteran Glenn Bleiler and featured a keynote address by Colonel A. Phillip Waite, Jr., U.S. Air Force Retired and Senior Advisor to the U.S.A. Vietnam War Commemoration.

That commemoration is ongoing through Veterans Day 2025, with a professed "primary focus" to thank and honor Vietnam veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the nation. It applies to any man or woman who was on active duty in the Armed Forces at any time between Nov. 1, 1955 and May 15, 1975 "regardless of duty location."

Of 6.6 million living Vietnam-era vets, said Waite, 2.4 million have been thanked through about 15,000 ceremonies around the country much like that held Monday night.

The recognition includes presentation of a lapel pin emblematic of "the nation's gratitude," which Waite said the Vietnam-era vets truly earned -- and especially so in light of abuse they sustained from the public those decades ago upon their return home from service in support of a controversial war.

The recognition is part of "an ongoing effort to right that wrong," Waite said, adding that the veterans "were denigrated when they should have been celebrated. A vast majority received no recognition for their service." He is making every effort to change that.

The evening program, which included a video in honor of the vets, featured welcomes by Rotary and Lions officials, a posting of colors by Amercian Legion Post 676 of Odessa, the National Anthem sung by Shelley Philibosian Waite, a buffet dinner, the speech by Colonel Waite, and presentation of the lapel pins, with each honoree called up one-by-one. Once there, the pins were applied to their lapels by Colonel Waite and Linda Conway, representing the Red Cross.

Honorees included Gregory F. Antonio, J.C. Argetsinger, John C. Bardo, William L. Brown, David G. Cretser, Lowell D. Cummings, James E. Cutting, Howard R. Davis, Burt C. Denson, William B. Drake, George F.C. Fage, Earle E. "Skip" Ferris, Dwayne H. Followell, Larry D. Freeman, Max C. Freeman, Michael A. Frost, Minarod Gascon, Raymond G. Granston, John Grimmke, Douglas G. Habbershaw, Roy Hanville, Thomas Hoxie, Ronald V. Kalwara, Andrew J. Kenneda, David A. Lewis, Charles F. Mathews, Donald McAfee, Robert D. McCoon, Stewart E. McDivitt, James A. McMahon, Michael J. Oates, Jonathan Olin, Ira Ray, David V. Rice, David E. Ryan, Louis W. Schmick, James R. Scott, Samuel Shama, Franklin J. Smalley, John F. Taber, George A. Uribe, Ronald L. Utter, Judythe Bell Walters, and Donald M. Zifchok.

Photos in text: From top: the welcoming sign at the dinner check-in table; keynote speaker Colonel A. Phillip Waite, Jr.; and veteran Judythe Bell Walters, left, receives her lapel pin from Red Cross representative Linda Conway.

Vietnam-era veterans Michael Oates (left photo) and James Scott receive lapel pins from Colonel Phillip Waite at Monday's ceremony.

Left: J.C. Argetsinger receives lapel pin from Colonel Waite. Right: Emcee Glenn Bleiler.

Left: John Grimmke receives his lapel pin from Colonel Waite. Right: The POW/MIA Table, also known as the Fallen Comrade Table, occupies a place of honor at military dining facilities and at dining ceremonies such as Monday night's.

Left: Post 676 Commander Rick Lewis, left, salutes Post 555 Commander Keith Caslin. Right: Caslin presented one of the speeches at Monday's ceremony.

Glen ceremony extols veterans' sacrifices

WATKINS GLEN, Nov. 12, 2018 -- About 60 spectators were on hand Monday morning at the Watkins Glen Community Center for the annual Veterans Day celebration put on by American Legion Post 555.

Also present were Honor Guard members of American Legion Post 676 in Odessa as well as Boy Scouts from Troop 2674.

Keynote speaker was retired Schuyler County Judge J.C. Argetsinger, who outlined the rise of U.S. power over the years, starting with World War One, which ended 100 years ago, and culminating in a victory in World War Two.

"All of our power is for naught," he said, without the sacrifice "of the men and women who go into battle." He noted that there "are always those who oppress others," which in turn requires such sacrifice.

Argetsinger said he was serving in the military 50 years ago, "which I remember vividly." And yet at that time, the end of World War One had occurred 50 years earlier and seemed as "distant as the Dark Ages."

With that perspective in mind, he noted, "We have to keep our memories alive so we don't repeat our mistakes."

Also speaking was Sam Schimizzi, mayor of Watkins Glen, who said Veterans Day "is a day for peace. A day that celebrates peace instead of war is the best way to remember" those who have served in the military.

Other speakers included Schuyler County Legislator Phil Barnes ("We're here to remember our heroes and thank them for their sacrifices") and Post 676 Commander Rick Lewis (who noted the suicides and homelessness of many vets, and said "actions speak louder than words" in helping them), as well as Post 555 Commander Keith Caslin, who thanked those present for attending the ceremony.

"It is reassuring to know that even in times that seem dysfunctional," said Caslin, "there are still people who stand up and support our American values, and military ...

"A veteran and his or her family have made sacrifices that most people would never understand or comprehend," he added, offering a longstanding but memorable quote pertaining to veterans: "We do not know them all, but we owe them all." And he added this from Elmer Davis: "This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave."

Himself a veteran of multiple tours of duty and three Purple Hearts, Caslin -- who served in both the Marines and Army -- said he was inspired while a student by a "wall of honor" at Watkins Glen High School that pertained to the Persian Gulf War. "This wall not only touched me deeply, but it put everything into perspective. From that moment I was literally glued to the news; I had a new direction, something to work toward, an inner passion, a fire inside me that I never had before." That ultimately led to 14 years of military service.

The ceremony's invocation and benediction were provided by Rev. Steven Lape.

Photos in text: From top: Keynote speaker J.C. Argetsinger, Watkins Glen Mayor Sam Schimizzi, and members of American Legion Post 555.

Amy Dickinson, right, talks with Cynthia Neale (who is also an author) Sunday after autographing one of her books for Neale at a signing session that followed the Ask Amy columnist's speech.

More than 100 visited Fontainebleau
to Ask Amy questions, and she answered

ODESSA, Nov. 5, 2018 -- Advice columnist and best-selling author Amy Dickinson ventured from her Freeville home to the Fontainebleau Inn outide Odessa Sunday for a speech before more than 100 fans, a Q-and-A session, and a book signing.

Copies of her two books, "The Mighty Queens of Freeville" and "Strangers Tend to Tell Me Things," were selling briskly, and a steady line of autograph seekers secured her signature and a few words before heading through the Inn's front door and out into a crisp autumn afternoon.

The event, arranged by Odessa's Dutton S. Peterson Memorial Library, raised funds for the library's Capital Building/Improvement account.

Dickinson -- the successor to Ann Landers as America's go-to advice columnist with her "Ask Amy" syndicated column -- presented a speech, and then (as advice columnists should) handled some questions.

Does she rewrite questions sent to her? Well, she tightens the writing and corrects faulty grammar, but likes to maintain "the voice" -- the individual traits revealed in a letter.

Does she have a lot of help? She works alone, she said, with queries coming through all sorts of sources available in today's Internet world. She said she goes "through all the mail myself" and, if any one of them seems "alarming, I answer right away." But that is "very very rare," and she has "never felt the need to contact law enforcement" about any of them.

"How do you sort out the crackpots?" she was asked. "Being one myself," she replied, "I feel uniquely qualified to sort them out." Then she added that everyone is entitled to moments exhibited by such writers -- but that living in this largely rural and picturesque region offers a calm that perhaps makes "you and I more sensible than a lot of people."

In responding to her many letters, "I don't like to diminish someone's problems. They -- we -- have a right to have problems."

The bottom line, she concluded, is "I love, love, love writing the column."

Dickinson, who is very busy with her column, books, and appearances on NPR's "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me," said she's excited by the possibility of her books becoming fodder for a TV series. "Both books have been optioned by CBS Productions. It might not happen. But it might."

She does a select number of speaking engagements per year. The Dutton S. Peterson Library contacted her about this one more than a year ago, and she agreed to appear "in keeping with her desire to promote libraries and literacy," said Gayle Greuber, the Peterson librarian. "She is a busy lady" who does "a fair amount of traveling, as you can imagine."

Dickinson is married to Bruno Schickel, an area contractor who is building the La Bourgade community of small homes along Rt. 414 near Hector, and the Boiceville Cottages outside Ithaca.

"We are very pleased with her appearance," said Greuber. "Amy could not have been more gracious. Having the event at Fontainebleau was icing on the cake, and we are grateful to Terri and John VanSoest," the hosts there. "The vendors (Lakewood, JR Dill, Seneca Sunrise Coffee, and Sunset View Creamery) all had great offerings, not to mention the load of goodies local businesses donated to our basket raffle. We are overwhelmed with the support."

Photos in text:

Top: Amy Dickinson responds to a question at the Fontainebleau gathering.
Bottom: Dickinson draws a raffle ticket from a basket held by the Dutton Peterson Library's Bonnie Schweizer.

Cherry honored by development council

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Nov. 1, 2018 -- Judy McKinney Cherry, Executive Director of the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development (SCOPED) was recognized as achieving Fellow Member status by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) at their Annual Conference in Atlanta, GA on October 3.

Fellow Member (FM) status is conferred upon active IEDC members who have attained unusual stature in the field of economic development and closely related disciplines. Unusual stature is defined as significant contributions to the profession through service to the Council and/or academic endeavors directly related to the practice of economic development.

“I would like to recognize Judy for her continued success as a leader in economic development in Schuyler County and the Southern Tier of NY,” stated SCOPED Board Chair Don Chutas. “Receiving Fellow Member status from the world’s largest economic membership organization serving the economic development profession endorses her accomplishments throughout the country. SCOPED is proud to have Judy as its Executive Director.”

Much of the recent private and public investment into Schuyler County, the IEDC said in a press release, "is directly because of the hard work, professionalism, knowledge, and leadership that Ms. McKinney Cherry has brought with her. Although her tenure in Schuyler County has only been four years, her accomplishments have been many, including Watkins Glen receiving the Downtown Revitalization Initiative and the construction of a manufacturing facility in the Schuyler Business Park.

Photo in text: Judy McKinney Cherry (File photo)

Mallory Rhodes with "Willow" at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin. (Provided)

Rhodes, 'Willow' gather honors at Expo

ODESSA, Oct. 17, 2018 -- Mallory Rhodes had, in the words of her mother, "an incredible show: second, fourth and ninth" at the recent World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin.

The Odessa-Montour High School sophomore, who was joined at the show by her year-old fall calf, Rail Adhere Willow -- or "Willow" for short -- was in wide competition. There were 1,779 dairy cattle exhibitors from 37 states and eight Canadian Provinces spread out in many categories -- some relating to the age and breed of the cattle (of which there were 2,338 present), and some to the age of the exhibitors.

In sum, Mallory finished second in the Intermediate Female category of the Youth Fitting Contest, which had 34 competitors; fourth in the Fall Heifer Calf competition, and ninth in the Intermediate Class of the Youth Showmanship Contest, which had 337 competitors.

Also in Madison were the Menzi brothers -- Kirt, an O-M senior, and Jacob, a freshman, who have show animals, too. They have been working for years alongside Mallory raising exhibition cattle from the Lantland Farms on Middle Road in rural Horseheads. The Menzis' mother, Anita, is a Lant.

Mallory and the Menzi boys have been very successful lately -- Mallory with her fall calf (purchased early this year) and the Menzi brothers with a mature cow each. All three won at the New York State Fair in their respective categories -- categories being based on both the age of the exhibitor and the age of the animal.

To repeat part of a press release regarding shows this past summer around the East -- the show season runs from April to October -- that were held before the World Dairy Expo:

"Perhaps no youth is having a more memorable year than Mallory Rhodes, 15, and her stunning fall calf, Willow. Rhodes and Willow won third in the All-American Junior Holstein Show out of 36 on Monday, September 17. Soon thereafter, they won third in the Eastern National Open Show."

Then came the annual World Dairy Expo, Mallory's second visit there -- "but the first," she said in an interview this week, "showing our animals."

That it paid off in three awards for her -- ribbons attached to medallions -- was testament to hard work, something to which Mallory is accustomed.

She got into exhibiting as a natural evolution of a track that saw her participate in 4-H projects such as paintings and quilts, and from her time around -- and affinity for -- animals.

She said her father long ago became friends with the Menzi family of Lantland Farms, and that she grew up with the Menzi boys, "like brothers and sister. I've always helped out on the farm." She still spends an hour or so each day feeding the calves there. That's where Willow lives -- in the calf barn with other youngsters.

"I've just grown up with animals my whole life," she said. "It's a lot of fun. I encourage more people to get into" exhibiting animals. "I've made really good friends."

She plans to continue exhibiting, and says horses will probably be part of her competitive world, too. In fact, she is looking at agriculture as a long-term goal.

She likes farm work, she said, "because it gets you out of sitting in the house." Besides, animals are good company. "I like them," she said, "because they listen to you a lot better than people do, and they don't shout at you."

Between now and the next exhibition season -- in addition to the farm work -- there will be JV basketball at Odessa-Montour, where she plays point guard.

Is she looking forward to that?

The question drew a smile ... a Mallory trademark.

Photos in text:

From top: Mallory Rhodes displays her World Dairy Expo awards; and two photos of her with Willow at the Expo in Madison, Wisconsin. (Bottom two photos provided)

Town Historian Fagnan earns state honor

ODESSA, Oct. 13, 2018 -- Carol Fagnan, Town of Catharine historian, was recently awarded the Franklin D. Roosevelt Local Government Professional Achievement Award for lifetime achievement in the practice of public history in New York State.

The award was given by the Association of Public Historians of New York State, a statewide historians’ organization, at their annual conference, held earlier this month in Rochester.

Fagnan was appointed Town Historian in May of 1989. Since then, she has collected and organized an extensive collection of historical town data, including rare pictures, rare maps, files containing town history and extensive genealogy information. All have been used continually to answer queries she receives.

Also, all of this collection, plus many oral history interviews, were used by Fagnan to write “Town of Catharine History, Schuyler County, New York,” which was published in 2003.

Photo in text: Carol Fagnan with her award. (Photo provided)

Inductee Brian J. O'Donnell, right, is greeted by Hall of Famer and good friend Ken Wilson.

Schuyler Hall of Fame inducts 4 members: Taylor, Phillips, O'Donnell & LaMoreaux

WATKINS GLEN, Oct. 11, 2018 -- The Schuyler County Hall of Fame expanded to 48 members Thursday with the induction of four new ones in a ceremony at Seneca Lodge.

Georgie Taylor, Judy Phillips, Brian O'Donnell and Kate LaMoreaux were introduced to a large gathering in speeches by designated representatives: Taylor by good friend Antoinette Di Ciaccio, Phillips by Hall of Famer Maxine Neal, O'Donnell by Hall of Famer Ken Wilson, and LaMoreaux by her son, Peter.

Each extolled the virtues of the inductees, in each case for the many contributions they have made to Schuyler County society.

Kathleen A. LaMoreaux

--WGCS Teacher of English (1979-2010)
--WGHS Varsity Swim Coach (1985-2002); Program Director for Summer Swim Program (1973-2018)
--WGHS Booster Club (1994-1995) & Elmira Star-Gazette Girls’ Coach of the Year (1998-1999)
--WGHS (2003) & Section IV (2004) Sports Hall of Fame
--I.A.C. (2003) & Top Drawer 24 (2017) Lifetime Achievement in Coaching
--Watkins-Montour Lions Club (2000-2018); President (2016-2017)
--St. James’ Episcopal Church: Vestry (1982-2018) & Warden (1989-2018)

Her son Peter said "Lam" was a compassionate yet tough teacher, believing "we all can rise," and said her coaching focused on "the holistic development of young women, with an emphasis on integrity." He noted that through her summer swim programs, she has impacted thousands of people over 46 years, and that she is "the steadfast cornerstone of our nuclear and extended family."

Photo: Kate LaMoreaux makes her way to the podium after being introduced in a speech by her son Peter.


Brian J. O’Donnell

--Watkins Glen High School Grade 4 Teacher (1969-1980); Middle School Principal (1981-1988); High School Principal (1988-2003); Board of Education Member 2004-2013 (President  2009-2013); PTA Educator of the Year 1988-1989
--Paul Harris Fellow -- Watkins-Montour Rotary Club (1999)
--Recipient of Jefferson Award for Public Service (2013)
--Recipient of Melvin Jones Fellow -- Lions Club (2013)
--Seneca Santa President (1985-1988); United Way President (1991-1993); Friends of Watkins Library President (1996-1998, 2002-2004 and 2014-2016); Northrup Educational Foundation President (2011-2013)
--Board of Trustees, Watkins Glen Public Library (2004-2013); Vice President (2011-2013)
--Board of Directors, Schuyler Hospital Foundation (1999-2000); Watkins Glen Youth Commission (1984-1985)

Wilson commended O'Donnell as the creative force -- the person who proposed the idea -- of a Schuyler County Hall of Fame, back in 1994. The first induction was the following year. And he commended O'Donnell's efforts as an historian of the Watkins Glen School District, saying: "He has kept the history of the school district alive." Plus, he pointed to O'Donnell's Jefferson Award, presented in 2013 for longstanding and extensive volunteerism.

O'Donnell also presented a speech, saying awards like a Hall of Fame induction are a reflection not so much of the individual inductees as they are of the volunteerism that is the lifeblood of a successful community. He praised his sister-in-law, Jean Scaptura, and Ken Wilson for inspiring his involvement as a volunteer. Both, he said, are his role models.

Photo: Brian O'Donnell is greeted by a well-wisher before the ceremony.


Judith H. Phillips

--Board of Visitors, Elmira Psychiatric Center (1985-2018); President (2018); Past  Secretary
--American Red Cross Schuyler County Community Volunteer Leader (2017-2018)
--Elmira College Presidents Council (2011-2018)
--Board of Directors, League of Women Voters of Schuyler County (1988-2018); Past President; Secretary (2014-2018)
--Board of Directors, Schuyler County Community Services (1982-1993 and 2011-2018)
--Board of Trustees, Southern Tier Library Foundation (2011-2018); Past President
--Volunteer Chair of the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Festival (1993-2018)
--Board of Trustees, Watkins Glen Public Library (2002-2018); President (2018)
--Mayor of the Village of Watkins Glen from 2005 to 2010. A member of the Village Board as trustee, deputy mayor and mayor for more than 20 years.

Max Neal read a long list of Phillips's accomplishments, which include extensive volunteerism, service on various agencies and boards, and a stint as mayor of Watkins Glen. She called the honoree "audacious, spirited, gutsy, courageous and steadfast ... a tiny lady with a huge impact."

Photo: Judy Phillips at the podium following introductory remarks by Max Neal.


Georgie C. Taylor

--President of the Schuyler County Humane Society (2002-2018)
--Served as Literacy Volunteer of America (1996-2000)
--Chair of the Montour Falls Zoning Board of Appeals (2000-2015)
--Paul Harris Fellow - Watkins-Montour Rotary Club (2014)
--Recipient of Jefferson Award for Public Service (2015) 

Di Ciaccio talked about her long friendship with Taylor, and said that it was the honoree's personal qualities that have led to the growth of the Humane Society. "She is a whirlwind," she said. "I call her the Energizer Bunny." Since the Humane Society depends in large part on volunteers, DiCiaccio asked at one point of Taylor, who was standing off to the right during the speech: "How do you get people to sit up, pay attention and take action?" Responded Taylor: "Damned if I know."

"I knew you'd say that," answered De Ciaccio. "You do it by example, by walking the talk. You communicate in a way that resonates. You inspire." And she concluded: "I say with all my heart, you are all heart."

Photo: Georgie Taylor reacts during introductory remarks by Antoinette Di Ciaccio.


Overall sponsorship for the Schuyler County Hall of Fame is provided by Schuyler County and the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce. Emcee for the induction ceremony was Chamber President/CEO Rebekah Carroll (pictured at right).

Previous inductees have included: Dutton Peterson; Anthony Specchio, Sr.; William Wickham IV; Bill Peters; Nick Anagnost; Lt. William Elkins; John Patrick Callanan, Sr; Max Neal; James D. Howell; James Wilson; Kenneth Wilson; Arthur Richards; Jean Argetsinger; Patricia Suits Ellison; Walter D. Hoffman; Phil Smith; Dr. Francis Ward; Mark Martin; Dr. Thomas (Jack) Love; Joseph Hoffman; Barbara Bell; John A. Beers; Stewart Coats; D. Lloyd Cotton; Maurice Dean; Michael Maloney; Anthony Poulos; William Simiele; Charles “Monte” Stamp; Hon. William Ellison; Irving D. Goodrich Sr.; Dr. Daniel L. Haley; Howard A. Hanlon; Gilbert H. Hillerman; Dr. James J. Norton; Dr. William F. Tague; Cameron Argetsinger; Harlow J. Bailey; Donald Brubaker Sr.; Warren W. Clute; Dr. Robert Michel; Dr. Lloyd N. Peak; Louise Stillman; and Don J. Wickham.

Photo: Emcee Rebekah Carroll of the Chamber of Commerce.

Left: An attendee checks out Georgie Taylor's Hall of Fame plaque, which will be displayed with the others at the Schuyler County Office Building. Right: Maxine Neal, who introduced Judy Phillips.

Left: Peter LaMoreaux presented introductory remarks about his mother, inductee Kate LaMoreaux. Right: Antoinette Di Ciaccio, who introduced inductee Georgie Taylor.

O-M sophomore showing Willow the Calf at World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisc.

ODESSA, Sept. 29, 2018 -- Mallory Rhodes was flying today (Saturday) to Madison, Wisconsin -- by way of Detroit -- to compete in the World Dairy Expo with her fall calf, Rail Adhere Willow ... or just "Willow" for short.

Rhodes, an Odessa-Montour sophomore, was on hand Friday night for the O-M Homecoming. It was something she didn't want to miss -- so Willow and three other competing animals were sent ahead by trailer, driven by Mallory's father.

Also in Madison will be the Menzi brothers -- Kirt, an O-M senior, and Jacob, a freshman -- who have show animals, too. They have been working for years alongside Mallory raising exhibition cattle from the Lantland Farms on Middle Road in rural Horseheads. The Menzis' mother, Anita, is a Lant.

All of that work has paid off. Mallory and the Menzi boys have been hugely successful of late -- Mallory with her fall calf and the Menzi brothers with a mature cow each. All three won at the New York State Fair in their respective categories -- categories being based on both the age of the exhibitor and the age of the animal.

A press release issued about Mallory said this:

"Throughout the summer and around the east she has beamed with pride at shows and fairs as her hard work, dedication, and perseverance have been rewarded. Be it a blue ribbon, a congratulatory word, or a hug from family and friends, a lot of memories have been made this year at the All-American Dairy Show recently in the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg.

"Perhaps no youth is having a more memorable year than Mallory Rhodes, 15, and her stunning fall calf, Willow. Rhodes and Willow won third in the All-American Junior Holstein Show out of 36 on Monday, September 17. Soon thereafter, they won third in the Eastern National Open Show.

"The All-American Dairy Show features nearly 2,000 of the top dairy cattle shown by over 1,000 of the best exhibitors in the U.S. and Canada. With 23 dairy shows in six days, including four days dedicated to youth shows, contests and programs, the All-American Dairy Show is the premier place to show. Rhodes chose to go to the All-American Dairy Show because Willow won Junior Champion of both the youth and open shows at the New York State Fair in Syracuse. (Junior means the heifer is not yet a cow.) Mallory, said show officials, 'is a hard working, passionate young member of the Junior Holstein Club, and the bond she shares with Willow is remarkable.'

"Because Willow swept the fall calf class on the local and regional level, she is off to Madison, Wisconsin for the World Dairy Expo the first week of October. The Menzi borthers -- Kirt and Jacob -- are also showing at the 'Worlds.'"

But first came O-M's Homecoming -- with a parade in the afternoon, a game in the evening and a dance afterward. As exciting as the show circuit has been -- and Mallory's mother says it has been exactly that -- school tradition came first.

But now, with that in her rearview, Mallory Rhodes was turning back to the serious business of a world-class dairy show. Her plane was leaving the Elmira-Corning Regional Airport at 2 p.m.

Photos in text:

Top: Mallory Rhodes with Willow.
Bottom: Mallory with the Menzi brothers, Jacob (left) and Kirt. (Photos provided)

Schuyler Public Health Director to retire

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Sept. 23, 2018 -- Schuyler County Public Health Director Marcia Kasprzyk will retire at the end of this month after working for the county’s health department for 32 years.

“In addition to her outstanding leadership of our Public Health Department, Marcia has been a critical member of the administrative team in Schuyler County. Her genuine concern and empathy for the health of this county and its residents is unparalleled and her retirement leaves a void not easily filled.” said County Administrator Tim O’Hearn.

Kasprzyk began her career as a Registered Professional Nurse in 1976 after getting her diploma from the Arnot Ogden Memorial Hospital School of Nursing. That same year, she began working as a Staff Nurse at Arnot Ogden Memorial Hospital in the Labor and Delivery Unit. In 1979, she started working at Schuyler Hospital as a Surgery Nurse in the Operating Room, and by 1984 she was a Nursing Manager.

In 1986 she started working for the county health department as a Registered Professional Nurse doing home care. Throughout the years she held the positions of Early Intervention Program Coordinator, Director of Patient Services, and Deputy Director of Public Health before becoming the Schuyler County Public Health Director.

During her public health career in Schuyler County, she was instrumental in implementing programs such as HIV/AIDS education in response to the national crisis, and the Early Intervention program. Under her leadership, the department established the Schuyler County Medical Reserve Corps and the Schuyler County Board of Health. Kasprzyk was also a founding member of the Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking and Drugs (SCCUDD) and helped the Coalition apply for and receive a federal Drug-Free Communities Support Grant. Additionally, she led the Department in applying for Public Health Accreditation.

“On behalf of the Legislature, I extend our sincere thanks for Marcia’s dedication and commitment to the county throughout her distinguished career.," said Dennis Fagan, Chairman of the Schuyler County Legislature. "We wish her a happy and healthy retirement!”

Photo in text: Marcia Kasprzyk (Photo provided)

Schuyler County Hall of Fame will add 4 members on Oct. 11

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Sept. 20, 2018 -- After a one-year hiatus, the Schuyler County Hall of Fame has announced the selection of four new members to be inducted in a ceremony at Seneca Lodge from 5-7 p.m. on October 11.

The honorees are Kate LaMoreaux, Judy Phillips, Georgie Taylor and Brian O'Donnell. Their selection brings the number of Hall members to 48: eight women and 40 men.

"After reviewing a number of outstanding nominations from the community, the committee has selected the following individuals for their tremendous contributions to Schuyler County," said a press release.

Kathleen A. LaMoreaux

--WGCS Teacher of English (1979-2010)
--WGHS Varsity Swim Coach (1985-2002); Program Director for Summer Swim Program (1973-2018)
--WGHS Booster Club (1994-1995) & Elmira Star Gazette Girls’ Coach of the Year (1998-1999)
--WGHS (2003) & Section IV (2004) Sports Hall of Fame
--I.A.C. (2003) & Top Drawer 24 (2017) Lifetime Achievement in Coaching
--Watkins-Montour Lions Club (2000-2018); President (2016-2017)
--St. James’ Episcopal Church: Vestry (1982-2018) & Warden (1989-2018)

Brian J. O’Donnell

--Watkins Glen High School Grade 4 Teacher (1969-1980); Middle School Principal (1981-1988); High School Principal (1988-2003); Board of Education Member 2004-2013 (President  2009-2013); PTA Educator of the Year 1988-1989
--Paul Harris Fellow -- Watkins-Montour Rotary Club (1999)
--Recipient of Jefferson Award for Public Service (2013)
--Recipient of Melvin Jones Fellow -- Lions Club (2013)
--Seneca Santa President (1985-1988); United Way President (1991-1993); Friends of Watkins Library President (1996-1998, 2002-2004 and 2014-2016); Northrup Educational Foundation President (2011-2013)
--Board of Trustees, Watkins Glen Public Library (2004-2013); Vice President (2011-2013)
--Board of Directors, Schuyler Hospital Foundation (1999-2000); Watkins Glen Youth Commission (1984-1985)

Judith H. Phillips

--Board of Visitors, Elmira Psychiatric Center (1985-2018); President (2018); Past  Secretary
--American Red Cross Schuyler County Community Volunteer Leader (2017-2018)
--Elmira College Presidents Council (2011-2018)
--Board of Directors, League of Women Voters of Schuyler County (1988-2018); Past President; Secretary (2014-2018)
--Board of Directors, Schuyler County Community Services (1982-1993 and 2011-2018)
--Board of Trustees, Southern Tier Library Foundation (2011-2018); Past President
--Volunteer Chair of the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Festival (1993-2018)
--Board of Trustees, Watkins Glen Public Library (2002-2018); President (2018)
--Mayor of the Village of Watkins Glen from 2005 to 2010. A member of the Village Board as trustee, deputy mayor and mayor for more than 20 years.

Georgie C. Taylor

--President of the Schuyler County Humane Society (2002-2018)
--Served as Literacy Volunteer of America (1996-2000)
--Chair of the Montour Falls Zoning Board of Appeals (2000-2015)
--Paul Harris Fellow - Watkins-Montour Rotary Club (2014)
--Recipient of Jefferson Award for Public Service (2015) 

The induction ceremony will feature light snacks and hors d'oeuvres provided by the Brubaker family of Seneca Lodge. A cash bar will be available.

Previous inductees have included: Dutton Peterson; Anthony Specchio, Sr.; William Wickham IV; Bill Peters; Nick Anagnost; Lt. William Elkins; John Patrick Callanan, Sr; Max Neal; James D. Howell; James Wilson; Kenneth Wilson; Arthur Richards; Jean Argetsinger; Patricia Suits Ellison; Walter D. Hoffman; Phil Smith; Dr. Francis Ward; Mark Martin; Dr. Thomas (Jack) Love; Joseph Hoffman; Barbara Bell; John A. Beers; Stewart Coats; D. Lloyd Cotton; Maurice Dean; Michael Maloney; Anthony Poulos; William Simiele; Charles “Monte” Stamp; Hon. William Ellison; Irving D. Goodrich Sr.; Dr. Daniel L. Haley; Howard A. Hanlon; Gilbert H. Hillerman; Dr. James J. Norton; Dr. William F. Tague; Cameron Argetsinger; Harlow J. Bailey; Donald Brubaker Sr.; Warren W. Clute; Dr. Robert Michel; Dr. Lloyd N. Peak; Louise Stillman; and Don J. Wickham.

Overall sponsorship for the Schuyler County Hall of Fame is provided by Schuyler County and the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce.

To RSVP for the induction ceremony, contact Anna Rainous at the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce at 607-535-4300 or email by October 8.

Tips to avoid scams when hiring flood work

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Aug. 23, 2018 -- In response to last week’s flooding in Schuyler County, which left many property owners with extensive damage, state and local officials have released a list of tips for consumers to avoid being scammed when hiring a contractor.

According to Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman, when entering into a contract to repair your property:

--Be specific about what work you want done.
--Educate yourself about the required permits -- don’t rely solely on the contractor.
--Shop around.
--Get references and check them.
--Get proof of insurance from the contractor.
--Check any required licenses.
--Never pay the full price upfront.
--Always put work to be done in writing, including all add-ons.
--Know where your payments are going.

“Never do business with a contractor who is unwilling to abide by any of the conditions above,” Getman said.  “New York State law requires every home improvement contractor, before beginning work, to provide the consumer with a written contract to be signed by both parties that sets out certain specific information and disclosures.”   

According to Getman, the required  disclosure information includes:

--Proposed start and completion dates;
--Particular description of the work to be done;
--Materials to be provided; and
--Notice that the consumer has an unconditional three-day right to cancel the contract without penalty.

In addition, Getman noted, the law requires that any advance deposits taken by the contractor must be placed into an account at a banking institution separate from the contractor’s other funds. The contractor must notify the consumer of the banking institution at which the deposit is kept.

Any residents who feel victimized should contact local law enforcement, the New York State Police or the New York State Attorney General’s Consumer Fraud Division, Getman said.

2 sentenced, 2 plead guilty in County Court

WATKINS GLEN, Aug. 23, 2018 -- Sentences were issued and pleas were taken Thursday in four cases in Schuyler County Court.

According to the District Attonrey's office:

BRENT A. CRANDALL, 29, of Watkins Glen -- who had pleaded guilty on August 9 to Assault in the Second Degree and Unlawful Manufacture of Methamphetamine in the Third Degree, Class D Felonies -- was sentenced Thursday to 3½ years in state prison plus 5 years post release supervision on the assault charge, and 2 years in state prison plus 2 years post release supervision on the unlawful manufacture of methamphetamine charge, both sentences to run concurrent with one another.

Crandall admitted to assaulting a member of the Schuyler County Sheriff’s Department during an unsuccessful escape attempt on June 4, 2018 in Montour Falls. Sergeant Todd Day was attempting to transport Crandall from a court appearance when Crandall somehow managed to free his hands from his restraints. He then struck Officer Day in the head with the chains that were hooked to him. His methamphetamine manufacturing charge was the result of a traffic stop made by Deputy Andrew Yessman on May 30.

JAKE L. MATTISON, 20, of Beaver Dams -- who pleaded guilty on June 14 to two counts of Burglary in the Third Degree, a Class D Felony -- was sentenced Thursday to 1 and 1/3 to 4 years in prison on each count.  He was also ordered to pay restitution. Mattison admitted to entering Walmart in the Village of Watkins Glen on two occasions "with the intent to steal therefrom after previously having been banned from entering the store."

WILLIAM M. HAISCHER, 37, of Elmira pleaded guilty Thursday to Criminal Possession of Methamphetamine Manufacturing Material in the Second Degree, a Class A Misdemeanor.  Haischer, who is scheduled to be sentenced on September 6, admitted that during a traffic stop by the Schuyler County Sheriff’s Department that he possessed pseudoephedrine and other items that were intended to be used to manufacture methamphetamine.

BRIAN J. HARTZELL, 26, of Alpine pleaded guilty Thursday to Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree. Hartzell, who is scheduled to be sentenced on October 11, admitted that during an altercation with his stepfather on June 19 in the Town of Catharine, he "brandished a knife in a reckless manner, striking his stepfather and causing physical injury."

Hospital Auxiliary awards 3 scholarships

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, July 27, 2018 -- The Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary has awarded $1,000 scholarships to two high school graduates who are planning to enter the healthcare field, and one Schuyler Hospital employee furthering her healthcare education.

Taylor Grover graduated in June from Odessa-Montour Central School (OMCS) and plans to attend SUNY-Brockport, where he will study nursing. Taylor completed the New Visions Health Career Exploration program at GST BOCES and was inducted into the National Honor Society. He hopes to go on to medical school after first receiving a bachelor’s degree in nursing. While at OMCS he volunteered as a firefighter, played varsity soccer, and worked as a lifeguard.

Kayla Smith graduated from Watkins Glen Central School, also participated in the GST BOCES New Visions program, and plans to pursue a nursing degree at Corning Community College. She was a member of the National Honor Society and the Business Honor Society and served as a teaching assistant in the ACE Accounting classes. She was a volunteer with the Watkins Glen Fire Department and with the Schuyler County Humane Society.

Christine Hoose has worked at Schuyler Hospital for 15 years, serving at various times in Admissions, Radiology and Health Information Management. She is well respected by her colleagues and a frequent volunteer for activities supported by the hospital. She will be gaining further expertise through the AAPC Coding Program.

Scholarship awards are presented by the Auxiliary each year to graduating high school seniors who live or attend school in Schuyler County and plan to enter careers in the healthcare field, as well as Schuyler Hospital employees looking to continue their education in healthcare.

Awards are based on academic achievement, volunteerism, and personal essays.

Previous recipients have been in such diverse fields as orthopedics, dentistry, physical therapy, optometry, speech therapy, and pharmacy.

The Auxiliary awarded its first scholarship of $250 in 1990.Over the next 20 years it grew to three $1,000 scholarships. Funds for the awards are raised through the Auxiliary’s hospital gift shop and other fundraising events. 

For more information about the Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary, call (607) 535-7121 or email info@schuylerhospital.

Photos in text:

Kayla Smith and Taylor Grover.
Bottom: Christine Hoose (Photos provided)

Schuyler Steps Out names 2018 winners

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, July 27, 2018 -- The 12th annual Schuyler Steps Out community walking challenge has wrapped up with a new winner, as well as awards for Most Improved and Most Valuable Walkers.

Last year’s second-place winner, the “Muscle Bound SPINsters” of Grand Prix Fitness in Montour Falls, walked and spun their way to first place this year. Grand Prix Fitness took the lead in Week 4 and increased their steps week to week to hold onto first place. The 16-member team totaled 15.6 million steps, averaging 17,491 steps per person per day.

Last year’s third-place winner was perennial top finisher, the Wacky Walkers of Watkins Glen High School. After a rocky start, this 10-member team turned in enough consistently high step totals to finally take over 2nd place in Week 8. They walked a total of 8.9 million steps, averaging 15,887 steps per person per day.

The Humane Society -- last year’s champion and a tough competitor in the program since 2011 -- finished in third place. The Humane Society team started out in first place, then held onto 2nd until the final week. With 16 walkers, they totaled 13.8 million steps, averaging 15,421 steps per person per day.

Nominated by their teammates, the Most Improved Award is going to Sonya Conover of Team Glenora, and the MVP Award is going to Ian Murphy of Schuyler Hospital’s Pharmacy Team.

Conover kept her team captain motivated through the whole program, walking on breaks and lunch. She also dropped a size!

Murphy stepped up his game as time went on, making him more productive and helping him build muscle.

In all, participating teams tallied 184.9 million total steps, or over 51.6 thousand miles -- the equivalent of two trips around the Earth. An average of 286 people from 13 teams participated in the 8-week program, developed to get people up and active in the late winter and early spring.

The program is sponsored by Schuyler Hospital and Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

For more information on the Schuyler Steps Out program, contact Michelle Benjamin, Director of Community Relations, at (607) 210-1950 or go to

From left: Louise Argetsinger Kanaley and J.C. Argetsinger prepare to present the Cameron R. Argetsinger Award to members of the France family -- Ben Kennedy, Lesa France Kennedy and Jim France -- while a video screen enlarges the action.

France Family honored at 5th annual Cameron R. Argetsinger Award dinner

WATKINS GLEN, June 29, 2018 -- The France Family, headed by Jim France, was honored Thursday night by the International Motor Racing Research Center (IMRRC) with the 2018 Cameron R. Argetsinger Award for Outstanding Contributions to Motorsports. 

The award was the fifth presented by the IMRRC. Chip Ganassi was the inaugural recipient in 2014. Richard Petty and Roger Penske were the honorees in 2015 and 2016, respectively. Mario Andretti was cited in 2017.

Tributes both live and by video were presented throughout the dinner, held at the Corning Museum of Glass. A three-course dinner was served, featuring braised beef short rib and pepper crusted diver scallops.

Dr. Jerry Punch served as emcee and interviewed Jim France, Jim's daughter Lesa France Kennedy, and her son Ben Kennedy. Other speakers included John Saunders, vice chair of the IMRRC Governing Council and president of International Speedway Corp.; the Rev. Michael Hartney of Watkins Glen, who presented the invocation; Mike Helton, vice chair of NASCAR; Michael Printup, president of Watkins Glen International; Will Nonnamaker, representing Sahlen's; Don Emde, winner of the 1972 Daytona 200 motorcycle race; George Silbermann, president of ACCUS-FIA; team owner Chip Ganassi, the 2014 Argetsinger Award winner; Roger Penske, who won the award in 2016; and David Hobbs, known for his racing and as a TV commentator.

Presentation of the award was made by two of Cameron Argetsinger's offspring, J.C. Argetsinger and Louise Argetsinger Kanaley.

One needs to look only at the France Family tree to understand the family's position at the pinnacle of American motorsports. From NASCAR founder William H.G. "Big Bill" France to his sons William C. France and James C. France to third-generation leaders Brian Z. France and Lesa France Kennedy, the family's expertise is obvious.

James C. "Jim" France is now the patriarch, continuing the legacy of leadership, as chairman of both the International Speedway Corporation (ISC) and the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA). In addition, he serves as a vice chairman of NASCAR.

Brian France is NASCAR's chairman and CEO, having followed his father in those roles starting in 2003. Lesa France Kennedy is the CEO of ISC and Vice Chairperson of NASCAR. And Lesa's son, Ben Kennedy, has recently joined the family business as the new general manager of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Previously, he was a successful racer himself, competing in both trucks and the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

All four have added to the legacy of "Big Bill" France, who founded NASCAR in 1948 and Daytona International Speedway in 1959.

The gala dinner was presented by Sahlen's, NASCAR, ISC, Watkins Glen International (WGI) and IMSA. It preceded the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen IMSA weekend at WGI.

Sahlen's, familiar to race fans in the Northeast, is a family-owned producer of quality meat products since 1869 in Buffalo, NY.

"We at Sahlen's are proud to support the IMRRC and this year's dinner honoring Jim France and the France Family," said Joe Sahlen, company president, in comments before the dinner. "The France Family is known for its influence in elevating the image of motorsports around the world. They are very deserving of the Cameron R. Argetsinger Award."

"It is most appropriate that on a night when the France Family is honored, that Jim France would be the main focus," added NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France of his uncle. "Jim learned the business of motorsports from his father, Bill France Sr., then worked alongside my father, Bill France Jr., for years, helping to guide NASCAR through a tremendous period of growth. Jim was my dad's best, most experienced confidant and supporter -- and he has continued to be mine, as well."

Other supporters of the dinner included Corning Inc., Michelin, Bosch, Chip Ganassi Racing, Hilliard Corp., Ray Evernham Enterprises and Glenora Wine Cellars.

The award memorializes Cameron R. Argetsinger, founder and organizer of the first races at Watkins Glen 70 years ago.

"The IMRRC has gained international recognition for our efforts to preserve and share the history of all things motorsports since our founding 20 years ago," IMRRC Executive Director Tom Weidemann has said. "The France family's tireless commitment to the founding and evolution of the sport touches many sections of our collection. We are proud to honor them with the award."

The ticket price was $250 per person. Proceeds were to go to the IMRRC, along with money realized through a silent auction of various racing and hospitality items. In addition, an auction at the end of the evening featuring a painting by motorsports artist Randy Owens brought $10,000, with the money earmarked for the IMRRC. The painting features a scene from 1940, with Bill France Sr. winning a stock car race on the Daytona Beach. The artwork was won by evening honoree Jim France.

The Racing Research Center is an archival and research library and a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to the preservation and sharing of the materials of motorsports, all series and all venues, worldwide. The Argetsinger Award was established to honor a person in the motorsports industry who is recognized universally for having advanced and improved the sport. The honoree brings prestige to motorsports and demonstrates commitment to the future of racing.

Photos in text:

Top: Lesa France Kennedy speaks during an interview session with emcee Dr. Jerry Punch. From left, her son Ben Kennedy; Lesa; her father Jim France; and Punch.

Second: 2014 Argetsinger Award winner Chip Ganassi addresses the audience from his dining table.

Third: Diners Bonnie Howell, left, and Linda Confer, both of Montour Falls.

Fourth: Schuyler County Legislators Jim Howell, left, and Dennis Fagan flank WGI President Michael Printup.

Fifth: Judy Phillips of Watkins Glen with 1972 Daytona 200 winner Don Emde at a table where copies of Emde's book about that race were being sold, with proceeds going to the IMRRC.

Sixth: IMRRC Racing Historian Bill Green.

Drivers gathered at one table included members of the Wayne Taylor Racing team. From left: drivers Renger van der Zande and Jordan Taylor, team owner Wayne Taylor, and recently retired racer Max Angelelli, a Taylor team co-owner. Wayne Taylor and Angelelli teamed for the 2005 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Cars Series championship.

From left: Rev. Michael Hartney; 2016 award winner Roger Penske; David Hobbs.

Jim France, second from right, answers a question from emcee Dr. Jerry Punch. On left is Ben Kennedy and his mother, Lesa France Kennedy.

Historical Society names president, director

MONTOUR FALLS, June 26, 2018 -- The Schuyler County Historical Society membership has elected Paul Bartow as president, and the Society Board of Trustees has appointed Glenda Gephart as executive director.

Bartow, who has served on the Society board for two years, replaces long-time board president Jean Hubsch. Gephart comes to the Historical Society from the International Motor Racing Research Center in Watkins Glen.

“I am very pleased to have the opportunity to work with an incredible Board of Trustees and to carry forward the vision and work that Jean Hubsch has set before me,” Bartow said. “Jean has been with the Schuyler County Historical Society for 20 years and has been -- and continues to be -- an exceptional steward for its future.

“I am also excited to have the opportunity to work alongside our new director of the Brick Tavern Museum, Glenda Gephart. Glenda brings an energy to the Museum that will serve our programming well. Her experience and knowledge of Schuyler County will guide our collective narrative for a new century of historic preservation.”

Bartow’s interest in Schuyler County and the Finger Lakes began with a childhood spent on Sugar Hill outside of Watkins Glen and has continued over the years with more focus, specifically the history of New York State and the Erie Canal. He holds a master of fine arts degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology and taught in the Visual and Performing Art Departments at Monroe Community College in Rochester and at James Madison University in Virginia.

In 2010, Bartow and his wife, Dr. Martha Hawksworth, moved back to the Town of Tyrone. She established Lakeside Veterinary Services in Montour Falls with Dr. Margaret Ohlinger, and he continues his careers as a builder, artist and teacher.

Gephart moved to Schuyler County in 1978 as the Watkins Glen bureau chief for the Elmira Star-Gazette. She continues to write for the newspaper with a bi-weekly column about events in Schuyler County. Gephart also works part-time for the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce at the new Visitors Center at the Watkins Glen State Park.

She and her husband, Bill Phoenix, owner of Watkins Sporting Goods in Watkins Glen, live in the Town of Reading.

The Schuyler County Historical Society celebrates and honors the history of the county at the Brick Tavern Museum, Wickham Rural Life Center and Lee School. The Brick Tavern Museum and Wickham Rural Life Center, located at 108 N. Catharine St., Route 14, Montour Falls, are open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday hours will be added starting in July.

Photos in text: Paul Bartow and Glenda Gephart (Photos provided)

Left: Scholarship recipient Amber Benjamin with Jim Scott, who has been her varsity softball coach at WGHS. Right: Scholarship recipient Simon Wigmore.

WGHS Alumni unit holds annual banquet, honors students and Distinguished Alum

WATKINS GLEN, June 24, 2018 -- Hundreds of people were present Saturday night as the Watkins Glen High School Alumni Association held its 93rd Annual Alumni Banquet at the Watkins Glen Community Center.

The program was dedicated "in honor and memory of Frank W. Steber," a former teacher and longtime Association member who died in March at the age of 96.

The dinner also presented five graduating WGHS students with scholarships, and honored a Distinguished Alumnus: Captain Gary M. Voorheis, U.S. Navy, Ret., of the Class of 1963, who was on hand for the occasion with his wife Peggy.

The scholarship winners were: Tristan Yuhasz, presented with $2,000, and four graduates presented with $1,000 each: Amber Benjamin, Simon Wigmore, Kaitlyn Valla and Meghan Hayes.

The scholarship program began in 2007, and has now presented checks to 39 students totaling more than $53,000.

Capt. Voorheis, a 1967 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, served his country for 26 years, including in key roles in the development of a new nuclear-powered fleet. He eventually took command of the USS Virginia, a nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser with a 600-man crew that was deployed as part of Operation Desert Storm. Accordingly, He earned two Legion of Merit Awards and a Bronze Star.

All told, he served on seven ships during his naval career, with seven extended deployments and long periods away from his family. He credited the support and love of his wife, Peggy Love Voorheis, his high schol sweetheart, mother of their two children and wife of 51 years, with enabling him to achieve a successful career.

After retirement from the Navy, he assisted for nine years in the closing and decommissioning of Rocky Flats, a nuclear weapons production site in Colorado that is now a safe wildlife preserve. That led to work helping the United Kingdom close many aging nuclear power plants across eight years. He retired from that work in 2013, settling in Colorado.

Alumni Association President Peggy Scott, Class of 1970, conducted a roll call of alumni present, having diners from various years or groups of years (1970-74, for instance) stand and be recognized. The alum from the earliest class present was Mary Berry, Class of 1938, who received a loud ovation.

The dinner was prepared by Bleachers Sports Bar and Grill, overseen by Bob Decker (Class of '89) and Ryan VanHorn (Class of 2001).

Photos in text: Capt. Voorheis at the podium and addressing the audience; and Judy Phillips, Class of 1958, recording some of her classmates.

Left: Scholarship recipient Tristan Yuhasz with the Alumni Association's Joe Orbin. Right: Scholarship recipient Meghan Hayes.

From left: Mary Berry, from the Class of 1938, photographed through Community Center latticework; scholarship recipient Kaitlyn Valla; and Distinguished Alumnus Gary Voorheis, listening as the Alumni Association's Jo Pat Wright introduces him to the audience.

Schuyler Hall of Fame nominations sought

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, June 22, 2018 -- The confidential Advisory Committee of the Schuyler County Hall of Fame has announced it is seeking nominations for the 2018 Schuyler County Hall of Fame award. After a one-year hiatus, the committee will accept nominations through July 27, 2018.

The following eight categories of distinction guide the selection committee in the selection process: agriculture/wine, government, public relations, business/industry, health care, tourism, education, and history. The criteria for selection are as follows: the candidate must be or have been a resident of Schuyler County; the candidate must have distinguished him/herself and in doing so, brought reflected prestige to Schuyler County; and the candidate must have been actively involved in his/her field for a significant number of years in Schuyler County.

The Hall of Fame was established to “recognize and honor dedicated individuals who have unconditionally contributed their energy, commitment, and persistence to achieving their vision for Schuyler County.” In that process, each member of the Hall of Fame will have improved and enhanced life in Schuyler County for the benefit of all.

Sponsored by the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce and in partnership with the Schuyler County Legislature, the Schuyler County Hall of Fame was first instituted in 1995. The inaugural class of eight honorees was inducted on October 27, 1995. Awards were made in 1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2013, and 2016, recognizing 44 individuals over the years. These 44 individuals’ pictures are framed and on display in the Schuyler County Courthouse in Watkins Glen.

Hall of Fame Inductees: Dutton Peterson; Anthony Specchio, Sr.; William Wickham IV; Bill Peters; Nick Anagnost; Lt. William Elkins; John Patrick Callanan, Sr; Max Neal; James D. Howell; James Wilson; Kenneth Wilson; Arthur Richards; Jean Argetsinger; Patricia Suits Ellison; Walter D. Hoffman; Phil Smith; Dr. Francis Ward; Mark Martin; Dr. Thomas (Jack) Love; Joseph Hoffman; Barbara Bell; John A. Beers; Stewart Coats; D. Lloyd Cotton; Maurice Dean; Michael Maloney; Anthony Pulos; William Simiele; Charles “Monte” Stamp; Hon. William Ellison; Irving D. Goodrich Sr.; Dr. Daniel L. Haley; Howard A. Hanlon; Gilbert H. Hillerman; Dr. James J. Norton; Dr. William F. Tague; Cameron Argetsinger; Harlow J. Bailey; Donald Brubaker Sr.; Warren W. Clute; Dr. Robert Michel; Dr. Lloyd N. Peak; Louise Stillman; and Don J. Wickham.

To submit a nomination, please visit or call 607-535-4300 for more information.

Photo in text: Plaque honoring Schuyler County Hall of Famer Irving D. Goodrich Sr. (File photo)

SFLW to sponsor Clifford at Girls State

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, June 4, 2018 -- The Southern Finger Lakes Women, a chapter of New York State Women, Inc., is sponsoring Kathleen Clifford to attend The American Legion Auxiliary’s Empire Girls State Program from July 1-July 7 at The College of Brockport. 

“I am pleased Schuyler County was able to send two young women to Girl’s State this year, and Southern Finger Lakes Women is excited to sponsor Kathleen Clifford, a junior at Watkins Glen High School, one of those selected,” said President Kelly McCarthy. “Kathleen had to have the grades, write an essay and be chosen to participate after an in-person interview with the ladies of the Odessa American Legion Auxiliary. We look forward to having her share about her experiences at our July picnic meeting.”

The Southern Finger Lakes Women also offers a scholarship each year to a local high school senior from Watkins Glen, Odessa-Montour or Bradford high schools in the spring, and to a woman who is going back to college later in life in the fall.

Empire Girls State is a hands-on week-long educational workshop, focusing on Americanism and the political process, sponsored by the New York State American Legion Auxiliary. The goal of the program is to help students to better understand democratic ideals and the part individuals play in carrying out these ideals. This program, which has been accredited by the National College Credit Recommendation Service (National CCRS), is a non-partisan attempt to teach high school junior girls about government, politics, and Americanism.

Isabella Fazzary, a WGHS junior, will attend Girls State this summer, as well, sponsored by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club.

Southern Finger Lakes Women advocates for women personally, professionally, and politically by advocating for women in the workplace. Its members meet monthly and invite local women to their meetings to make presentations relevant to current events and professional development.

Photo in text: Kathleen Clifford (Photo provided)

Youth Bureau ceremony: awards, "trial"

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, June 11, 2018 -- The Schuyler County Youth Bureau held its annual recognition ceremony on June 7 at the Human Services Complex in Montour Falls.

The ceremony, which recognizes youth participants and community/agency partnerships, had over 60 people in attendance for the night's festivities -- which were highlighted by a mock trial presentation by the bureau's Youth Court program.

Several awards were also given out -- including the Youth Bureau’s Community Builder Award, given this year to The Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking and Drugs (SCCUDD), and the Youth Builder Award, given to Probation Director Chris Rosno for his dedication to youth and youth programming in Schuyler County.

Among others recognized this year were three graduating Senior Youth Court members: Amber Benjamin, Kaitlyn Valla and Meghan Hayes. Youth Court Coordinator Adam Lawton praised these three members for their dedication to the program while maintaining their achievements in academics and sports.

Lawton also noted that all three members are in the running for the Western New York Regional Youth Court Association Scholarship, with winners announced in the coming weeks.

Photo in text:

Top: From left, Senior Youth Court members Meghan Hayes, Kaitlyn Valla and Amber Benjamin.
Bottom: Youth Builder Award recipient Chris Rosno. (Photos provided)

Glen Library has a new library assistant

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, June 8, 2018 -- - The Watkins Glen Public Library has added Sally Armbruster to its staff as the new Children’s Library assistant.

Armbruster moved to the Watkins Glen area in 2013 after vacationing here for more than 25 years. Before moving to the area, she taught math and science for 24 years to fifth- and sixth-graders in the Frontier Central School District in Hamburg, NY.  

“I am thrilled to begin this new adventure as the Watkins Glen Children’s Library assistant. I look forward to offering innovative and entertaining programming for the children who visit the library,” Armbruster said. “I would like to thank the library director and the board of trustees for offering me the opportunity to be a part of the Watkins Glen library community.”

Library Director Beth Staff said she is excited about this new addition to the library staff.

“I was immediately impressed with Sally’s enthusiasm for the position, as well as her background in elementary education,” Staff said. “Science, technology, engineering and math are such a large part of children’s education. Sally’s background will allow us to create some very interesting programming, as well as continue with the tradition of PreK Storytime that Carol LaFever ran so well for 18 years.”

Storytime will be publicized each week on Facebook and the Watkins Glen Public Library website so that parents and caregivers may have an idea of what Armbruster has planned for the little ones. She will also be running the Summer Reading Program that will start in July.  More information on that program will be available soon, Armbruster said.

Photo in text: Children's Library assistant Sally Armbruster (Photo provided)

Sarah Schlueter-Eisman & William Christoffels sing "God Bless America" in Montour Falls.

Memorial Day marked by ceremonies in Montour Falls, Watkins, near Odessa

SCHUYLER COUNTY, May 28, 2018 -- Memorial Day ceremonies were held around the nation Monday -- and in Schuyler County, observances occurred in Montour Falls, Watkins Glen and outside Odessa.

The Montour Falls event -- an annual gathering at Shequagah Falls -- featured retired Schuyler County Judge J.C. Argetsinger as the keynote speaker. Live music was provided by band members from Odessa-Montour High School, by bagpiper Tom Leslie, and by William and Donna Christoffels and Sarah Schlueter-Eisman. There were also prayers by the Rev. George Norton, the reading of a list of area veterans who died over the past year, and a color guard from American Legion Post 676. (That post later ran a ceremony at the Schuyler County Veterans Memorial Park along Rt. 228; the O-M band also performed at the Veterans Park, as did a Community Choir.)

Norton, in his Montour Falls invocation, said that “in this place of beauty, let us remember that we are in a world torn by war.”

Argetsinger  -- who served in the Army infantry from 1967-69, and was with the U.S. Justice Department before moving back home to Schuyler County to serve as District Attorney and County Judge -- said that while he thought 25 years ago that the United States was free of the threat of invasion and occupation, now he thinks “not so quick.”

“Liberty -- and this is an eternal truth -- does not come easily,” he said. “It’s a hard truth ... that we can’t ensure our continued freedom without those who take up arms against aggression. Today’s generation faces religious zealots” who “hate our freedom. Evil continues in this world. It is all too common for criminals -- psychopaths -- to hijack their country.”

These criminals, he said, are “murderers and thugs” who “don’t hesitate to lie and break laws. They don’t play by the same rules we do.

“Freedom is a fragile commodity. Only by hard work ... will we remain free and strong and a beacon to the world.”

In Watkins Glen, there were two ceremonies: a brief prayer gathering and “Taps” at the Naval Monument near the Seneca Harbor Pier, and a full ceremony -- held in the past in front of the Schuyler County Courthouse, but moved this year (due to road and sidewalk reconstruction) to the Community Center out Fourth Street.

Kevin Rumsey was the keynote speaker there. Rumsey, who served in the Marine Corps until 2000 and is now a member of the Schuyler County Sheriff's Office, said he served in the military with “some of the best people I have ever met who continued with their service after I was discharged. A few of them aren’t spending today with their families. Today, their families will mourn them and honor them, as will I.”

He said his family, back through several generations, have served in the military, and that his father, recently deceased, had “a very strong sense of honor when it came to people who served, especially his family. Recently, my mother told me she wanted to continue this tradition because it meant so much to my father. So yesterday, my mother, my wife, my two sons and I went to several cemeteries to place flowers on the graves of our departed family members. I felt that extra bond and sense of honor when we visited the ones where our country’s flag was hovering over the site. That’s Memorial Day’s meaning to me.”

The keynote speaker at the ceremony held at the Veterans Memorial Park was Dr. Stephen Spaulding, a 1977 West Point graduate and retired Army Major who served in the Army Medical Corps from 1981 to 1992.

He noted that his wife was also an Army doctor, as is their daughter. Participation by his family in the military, he said, goes back to the Revolutionary War -- to an ancestor who fought in George Washington’s army for five years after seeing action at Bunker Hill.

He asked the audience of more than 100 people that when they see young people in uniform, to “keep in mind what they risk.” And he suggested that we also thank other risk-takers -- firefighters and police officers -- who despite inherent dangers believe they are just doing their job. He called them “local heroes.”

Among his messages, he said, was this: “Never forget how blessed we are to be Americans,” nor forget “our civic duty to stand up” and take action when our way of life is threatened.

And on this day, he encouraged the audience to join with him -- "to salute, and remember, and pray for our beloved dead.”

Photos in text:

Top: Dr. Stephen Spaulding, a retired Army Major, was the keynote speaker at the Veterans Memorial Park ceremony.
Second: Retired Schuyler County Judge J.C. Argetsinger spoke in Montour Falls.
Third: Tony Specchio (sunglasses) and Keith Caslin led the ceremony at the Naval Monument.
Bottom: The Community Choir was led by Kim Laursen, foreground. The choir sang "Battle Hymn of the Republic."

Left: Kevin Rumsey, keynote speaker at the Watkins Glen service. Right: Bernie Riley plays "Taps" at the Naval Monument ceremony.

The Odessa-Montour High School Band performed at the Montour Falls and Veterans Memorial Park ceremonies.

The Community Choir sings "Battle Hymn of the Republic" at Veterans Memorial Park.

The ceremonial 21-gun salute occurred at the Montour Falls, Naval Monument and Veterans Memorial Park ceremonies. This photo was taken at Montour Falls.

The color guard enters Shequagah Falls Park for the Montour Falls ceremony.

Hospital's Kelly receives Lou Sand Award

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, May 14 2018 -- Schuyler Hospital announced the recipient of the 2018 Lou Sand Award at its annual Employee Recognition Dinner on May 9.

The award, in memory of community leader Lou Sand, was presented to Paty Kelly, NP for Seneca View Skilled Nursing Facility and Schuyler Hospital. She was nominated for the award by her coworkers.

Highlights from the nominations included:

--“Paty is warm, empathetic and always looking to do the right thing for patients she sees.  We are so lucky to have someone with her experience and skill set to help give the best care to our patients.  She is a delight to work with and she is always agreeable to pitching in when needed.”

--“Paty is a great asset to our organization.  She has helped us tremendously and made life of all providers much better. She is dedicated and very conscientious in taking care of her patients.”

--“Paty is dedicated to the skilled nursing patients. She is a team player with one goal in mind: to make the patient care here at Seneca View skilled nursing the best possible."

Schuyler Hospital annually gives the award in memory of the late Lou Sand to an employee who demonstrates exemplary service to others, and whose compassionate commitment of service to their fellow employees, patients, residents and community brightens the lives of those they touch -- traits exemplified by Sand.

For more information, contact Schuyler Hospital at (607) 535-7121 or email

Photo in text: Schuyler Hospital President and CEO Jim Watson presents the Lou Sand Award to Paty Kelly. (Photo provided)

Schuyler sues 'Big Pharma' over opiates

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, May 12, 2018 -- Schuyler County officials are formally taking “Big Pharma” to court.

On Friday (May 11), Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman filed a nearly 250-page Summons and Complaint against manufacturers and distributers of prescription opiates for damages to the County arising out of what the Complaint deemed the fraudulent and negligent marketing and distribution of opiates in and to the County.

“Over the past few years, despite its small population, Schuyler County has seen an uptick in opioid and heroin use and overdose,” Getman said. “To date, County officials have expended significant resources to help its residents battle opioid addiction and prevent further deaths. The lawsuit will seek to reimburse the County for its expenses related to the opioid crisis as well as provide the County with financial assistance to continue this battle.”

The Summons names approximately 30 defendants, including some of the biggest names in the pharmaceutical industry, such as: Purdue Pharma L.P.; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.; Cephalon, Inc.; Johnson & Johnson; Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Actavis Pharma, Inc.  and Insys Therapeutics, Inc.

The Complaint alleges the defendants knew -- and had known for years -- that opioids were addictive and subject to abuse, particularly when used long-term for chronic non-cancer pain, and should not be used except as a last resort. However, the Complaint alleges, the defendants spent hundreds of millions of dollars disseminating scientific materials and advertising that misrepresented the risks of opioids’ long-term use.

“The United States is now awash in opioids,” the Complaint says. 

Schuyler County’s lawsuit is its latest move in the attempt to hold the defendants responsible for the costs of addressing the opioid epidemic. The County Legislature voted in August 2017 to retain the firm of Napoli Shkolnik, PLLC to work with Getman, as special counsel, to bring this action. In March, the legislature passed a local law formally declaring the opioid epidemic “a public nuisance” and establishing a cost recovery mechanism related to the public funds spent on fighting the epidemic.

According to County Administrator Tim O’Hearn, the lawsuit was filed at no risk to the County, as Napoli Shkolnik will work on a contingency basis that will cover all costs associated with the lawsuit.

“By going forward with litigation, the County Legislature hopes to lessen the burden to taxpayers and seeks to hold manufacturers and distributors responsible for their role in the opioid epidemic,” O’Hearn said. 

 “For many years the manufacturers and distributors of opioid pain medications have earned billions of dollars in profits flooding this Country with opioids,” said Napoli Shkolnik attorney Joseph L. Ciaccio. “These lawsuits seek to force those companies to help clean up the devastation caused by these pills.”

 “These drug companies have poisoned our communities and polluted our children,” said Paul Napoli, counsel for Napoli Shkolnik. Napoli leads the charge with Hunter Shkolnik against drug companies nationwide.

Napoli added that “our door is open” to other New York municipalities “who are also fed up with the overdose epidemic," and that Napoli Law "has the firepower to go toe-to-toe with the big pharma lawyers.”

Schuyler County is the latest of more than a dozen New York State counties to file a lawsuit against the manufacturers and distributors of opioid pain killers. At least 14 counties across New York are suing pharmaceutical companies for what they're claiming are deceptive marketing practices. In addition, in February, New York State officials filed a lawsuit against Insys Therapeutics, Inc., alleging that Insys deceptively promoted prescription opiate Subsys for unsafe uses and violated state law by downplaying the drug’s addictive risks.

A complete copy of Schuyler County’s Summons and Complaint can be found here:

The defendants will have approximately 30 days from service of the Summons to file answers to the Complaint.

Photo in text: County Attorney Steven Getman (File photo)

Lions learn about service dogs for the blind

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, April 26, 2018 -- Members of the Watkins-Montour Lions Club and guests from the Ovid-Willard Lions Club learned about service dogs for the blind at a Lions meeting on Monday, April 23 at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel.

Representatives from Guiding Eyes for the Blind brought two service dogs and explained about the program, which matches specially bred and trained dogs to people with visual impairments.

Clients are matched with their canine companion at no cost although each dog costs $50,000 to raise and train. Puppies are raised by volunteers for 16 months before going on to advanced training and placement. Over 125 dogs have been raised in the Finger Lakes area.

Photo in text: Alyssa Roorda (left) and her dog Bart, and Cassie Houghton (right), Region Coordinator for Guiding Eyes for the Blind. (Photo provided)

Installed and honored

From left: Chief Mike Tomassi, First Assistant Chief John Jelliff, 2nd Assistant Chief Adam Mahnke and (new) Third Assistant Chief Keith Pierce were installed in those offices Saturday night at the Odessa Fire Department's annual banquet, attended by 125 at the Fontainebleau Inn. Standing next to Pierce, who was the department's top fire responder in 2017 ( a total of 69 calls), is Charlene Mahnke, honored as the top rescue responder (68 calls), the top overall responder (120 calls) and the department member with the most hours (266.64). At right is Bill Bulkley, honored for 55 years of service to the department. (This photo and Home Page photo are by Kristi Pierce.)

Tyrone Congregate Meal Site turns 25

Celebration held; older adults benefit from Nutrition Program partnership

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, April 19, 2018 -- On Wednesday, April 18th, the Schuyler County Office for the Aging and Tyrone United Methodist Church celebrated the history and longevity of the congregate meal site held at the church since 1993.

The meal site came from a partnership formed following a conversation between then Pastor Judy White (Wunder) and Office for the Aging Director, Dick Cole. Both White and Cole saw the benefit of a nutrition program as a component of the church’s “Senior Enrichment Program.” The mission of the Senior Enrichment Program was to provide life-long learning opportunities.

Church Historian Kathy Huey initiated the conversation about the milestone anniversary, and several members of the church and meal site went to work on creating a celebratory program. Volunteer meal site coordinator Emily Switzer served as emcee and provided the welcome and introductions. Schuyler County Legislature Chairman Dennis Fagan addressed the crowd by noting the importance of the program. He bestowed a personal gift of $250 to the Office for the Aging to support the meal program.

Current OFA Director Tammy Waite accepted the donation on behalf of the Office and nutrition program. She spoke about the importance of the meal program, highlighted other services and supports available through OFA, and thanked Chairman Fagan for his continued support of the nutrition program and donation. The volunteers were also acknowledged and thanked.

Pastor Judy White-Wunder entertained the crowd with her memories of the early years of the meal site and her work with Dick Cole and volunteer Dorothy Huey to bring the meal program at Tyrone to fruition. Among the laughter and stories was a time of remembrance of Dorothy Huey, an original member of the Senior Enrichment Program. Huey was a committed volunteer who, until her death in 2011 at age 84, worked to ensure the weekly congregate meal site was vital and operational. She trained a host of volunteers to assist at the site. During her illness and following her subsequent passing, her sister, Emily Switzer, continued her legacy. The Huey family participated in the celebration to honor the contributions of their mother/grandmother.  

The Rev. Beth Kotteman, current pastor at the church, echoed the sentiments regarding the importance of the program. Pastor Beth, as she is known, is a regular attendee at the meal site and has been a strong supporter of the nutrition program. She further demonstrated that support through her assistance in the planning of the celebration event.

The crowd of close to 80 was entertained by the Maple City Chorus Barbershoppers, who also led the group in several sing-a-long songs. Following a lunch prepared by the OFA kitchen staff, everyone shared a cake prepared for the occasion along with ice cream. 

The Schuyler County Office for the Aging’s mission is to advocate for, educate and assist the senior population to live in their own homes as safely as possible for as long as possible. For more information about the nutrition program or other OFA services, contact the Office for the Aging at 607-535-7108.

Photo in text: Schuyler County Legislature Chairman Dennis Fagan with Office for the Aging Director Tammy Waite at the celebration. Fagan donated $250 in personal funds to help support the meal program. (Photo provided)

Blankets made from Nancy Lee's leftovers and distributed through Seneca Santa.

Nancy Lee's blanket tradition continues

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Feb. 18, 2018 -- For many years, Nancy Lee of Watkins Glen made beautiful blankets and donated them to local organizations at Christmas time, including Seneca Santa.

Nancy passed away last year, after a long battle with cancer. Her daughter, Linda Page, donated all of the leftover materials that her Mom had purchased for future blankets, in hope that this tradition could continue on in her Mom’s memory. 

The material was taken to Rebecca Gilfus, Grade 8 Home and Careers at Watkins Glen Central School, and Melissa Schroeder, Youth and Family Program Director-Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schuyler County, and many more blankets were able to be made and distributed by Seneca Santa this past Christmas.

The result of this effort is pictured above. (Photo provided)

Employees honored at the 12th annual Schuyler County Employee Recognition Luncheon. (Photo provided)

Schuyler workers honored at luncheon

MONTOUR FALLS, Feb. 14 , 2018 -- Dozens of Schuyler County employees were honored Tuesday at the county's 12th annual Recognition Luncheon held at the Human Services Complex in Montour Falls.

County Administrator Tim O'Hearn was the master of ceremonies at the luncheon, a buffet catered by Corning Catering.

Honored, by department (* denotes retiree):

Board of Elections: Joseph Fazzary, 15 years.
Buildings & Grounds: Andrew E. Barrett III, 10 years; John C. Wyre, 20 years.
Civil Service: Sharlene A. Parker, 5 years.
Community Services: Christopher J. Tennant, 5 years; Charlotte M. Jaynes, 15 years; Karen M. VanderBurg, 15 years; Lois J. Hubbell, 25 years.
County Attorney: Steven J. Getman, 5 years; Vickie L. Perazzini*, 9 years; Donna J. Hyer*, 10 years; Kristin E. Hazlitt, 15 years.
County Clerk: Linda M. Compton*, 32 years.
District Attorney: John C. Tunney, 5 years; Joseph G. Fazzary, 25 years.
Emergency Management: Jennifer L. Davis, 5 years.
Highway: Kimberly M. Teemley, 10 years.
Office for the Aging: Thomas D. McGarry, Jr., 5 years; Wendy S. Swarthout, 5 years; Carol Brannaka, 15 years; Shannon L. Slater, 15 years.
Probation: Christopher T. Rosno, 15 years.
Public Health: Dianne G. Thomaris, 15 years.
Purchasing: Elizabeth H. Guild, 5 years.
Real Property Tax Agency: Vicki L. Flynn, 10 years; Thomas R. Bloodgood, 20 years.
Sheriff: Justin M. Kibbe, 5 years; "Rex" Rumsey*, 8 years; Craig R. Bianco, 10 years; Frederick O. Gilbert, Jr., 10 years; Joseph R. Goltry, 10 years; Andrew W. Yessman, 10 years; Craig N. Gallow*, 26 years; Michael A. Notarfonzo,*, 38 years.
Social Services: Alicia M. Myers, 5 years; M. Melissa Terry, 5 years; Mark J.B. Couch, 10 years; Linda M. Faulisi*, 10 years; Tammy A. Hartman, 10 years; Tammy L. Munroe, 10 years; Rebeca A. Crout, 15 years; Lisa A. Harer, 15 years; Ranay Lynn, 20 years; Carol D. Houck*, 26 years.
Youth Bureau: Adam G. Lawton, 10 years.

Diners at this table were dressed in keeping with the Winter Gala theme of the Roaring '20s and The Great Gatsby.

Gala draws crowd with Great Gatsby theme

WATKINS GLEN, Jan. 21, 2018 -- The annual Watkins Glen Chamber of Commerce Winter Gala drew a large crowd Saturday night to the Harbor Hotel for an evening with a Roaring '20s and Great Gatsby theme.

There were cocktails, live music by the Rochester Rat Pack, silent and live auctions, a casino speakeasy, and the presentation of awards in four categories.

From left: Honorees Dena Carrigan, Dan Bower, Tony Fraboni and Bill Sitzman.

The awardees:

--Dena Carrigan of the Chemung Canal Trust Company received the Community Spirit Award.
--Dan Bower of Hunt Engineers and the Watkins Brewery Vacation Rentals received the Leader in Business Award.
--Tony Fraboni, of Community Bank, NA, received the Max Neal Award for consistent dedication to the Chamber.
--Bill Sitzman, longtime Chamber volunteer and patron, received the Ambassador of the Year Award.

A new feature at this gala: Magician Doug Welch, performing strolling and table-side magic tricks and illusions.

Photo at right: Chamber President Rebekah Carroll, who served as emcee.

Left: Former Chamber chief Max Neal and Ken Wilson. Both are Schuyler County Hall of Famers. Right: Michel Ray of Visions Federal Credit Union, which presented the Gala.

Magician Doug Welch, right, performs a trick with cards for two of the evening's attendees.

And the styles of the night:

Beth Staff named Glen Library Director

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Jan. 17, 2018 -- Beth Staff has been selected by the Watkins Glen Library Board of Trustees to succeed Sarah Kurcoba as the new Library Director.

“The Board of Trustees of the Watkins Glen Public Library is delighted to have Beth join us as Library Director," said Board President Judy Phillips. "Her experience and enthusiasm will be a great addition to our facility.”

Staff earned her Master of Library & Information Science from Drexel University in 2016.  She also earned her Master of Education in School Library & Information Technologies from Mansfield University in 2013. She has worked as Director at the Prattsburg Free Library and as the school librarian at the Romulus Central School District.

She also spent the summer of 2016 working in the Richard and Ronay Menschel Memorial Library at the George Eastman Museum assisting with archival and cataloging work. She has a Bachelor of Business Administration, Human Resources, degree with a minor in Psychology from the State University of New York College at Oswego (1993).

“I am very excited to be the new Director at the Watkins Glen Public Library," Staff said in a prepared statement. "I am extremely impressed with the library and thrilled to be able to be part of this wonderful community.

"I have many ideas for increasing programming offered at the library, updating technology, and expanding the collection, all while maintaining the traditions that the library and previous directors have created over the years. I value input from library patrons and other community members, so please feel free to stop in and let me know what you think would make our library even better.”

IMRRC Governing Council Member Marolyn Rogers dies in Florida at 85

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Jan. 12 -- Marolyn Rogers, a member of the International Motor Racing Research Center's Governing Council for 15 years, died Monday, Jan. 8, in Fernandina Beach, Fla. She was 85.

"Marolyn cared deeply about the Racing Research Center and was always thinking of ways to enhance our success," IMRRC Executive Director Tom Weidemann said. "We at the Racing Research Center will truly miss her."

Rogers worked in registration for IMSA for 13 years, including several years as chief registrar. She retired from IMSA in 1992. Rogers also worked for Bill Warner and the Amelia Island (Fla.) Concours d'Elegance in its first several years and with RM Auctions at its Concours at Amelia Island.

The Road Racing Drivers Club recognized her contributions to motorsports by making her an honorary member.

"Marolyn has been pillar of the IMSA racing community for many, many years. She was IMSA's most proficient and efficient registrar. Her ability to handle the egos and demands of race-car drivers, owners and officials alike was almost legendary," Road Racing Drivers Club President Bobby Rahal said.

"She was one of the first faces you would see when arriving at a racing event, and she made you feel important and welcome. It takes a special person to do that job, and she was the best. We will miss her love for the sport and those within it," Rahal said.

Rahal also serves as president of the IMRRC Governing Council.

Rogers' late husband, Rear Admiral Bob Rogers, U.S. Navy (Ret.), led the initial campaign to raise funds to build the Racing Research Center, which opened in Watkins Glen in June 1999. She was a significant partner in that effort.

Rogers served on the IMRRC's Governing Council starting in 2001, with a bylaws-required one-year absence in 2011.

Photo in text: Marolyn Rogers (Photo provided)

Honorees set for annual Chamber Gala

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Jan. 5, 2018 -- The Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce will host its Winter Gala presented by Visions Federal Credit Union on Saturday, Jan. 20 at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel.

The evening, which will feature a Great Gatsby theme, includes champagne on arrival, hot and cold hors d’oeuvres during cocktail hour, a silent auction, a live auction, a Stock Your Cellar Wine Pull (and a chance to win a cash prize), a Casino Speakeasy, live music by the Rochester Rat Pack, dinner, and -- a signature feature -- the program honoring this year’s award winners. The awards and the honorees:

The Community Spirit Award: Presented to a member of the Chamber (a business or an individual) that has demonstrated leadership and excellence in philanthropy. The Community Spirit Award winner also encourages civic initiatives, facilitates humanitarianism, and positively impacts the community. The Community Spirit Award will go to Dena Carrigan of Chemung Canal Trust Company.

The Leader in Business Award: Presented to a member of the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce who has made a dynamic contribution to the Schuyler County business community within the last decade, expanded the business mix in Schuyler County, and continues to foster economic opportunity, while assuming considerable risk and being a highly respected entrepreneur. The Leader in Business Award will go to Dan Bower of Watkins Brewery Vacation Rentals and Hunt Engineers.

The Ambassador of the Year Award: Presented to the Ambassador who has demonstrated complete dedication, investment, and leadership in the Chamber and its Ambassador Program. The Ambassador of the Year Award will go to Bill Sitzman, longtime Chamber volunteer and patron.

The Max Neal Award: Presented to an individual who has demonstrated consistent dedication, selflessness, faith, determination, and solid support to the future and well-being of the Chamber. This individual has made it clear to the community that he recognizes the Chamber as the Schuyler County organization of choice and further invests and mentors the future leadership of Schuyler County; must be well-respected, highly honored and beloved by the residents of Schuyler County. This individual must have served on a committee or board of directors or been employed by the Chamber for a minimum of five years. The Max Neal Award will go to Tony Fraboni of Community Bank, NA.

Said Chamber President and CEO Rebekah Carroll: “This is always an evening to remember. Our Great Gatsby theme promises to deliver an elegant experience. We look forward to honoring our award winners and enjoying a wonderful night of dining and entertainment with all of our Chamber and community friends.”

New this year, Magician Doug Welch will perform strolling and table-side magic tricks and illusions.

Space is limited and this event is always a sellout, the Chamber says. Tickets are $85 per person, and tables of 10 are available as well. To purchase tickets, call Events Manager Anna Rainous at 607-535- 4300.

Beaver Dams woman sentenced to 2 years

ROCHESTER, NY, Dec. 20, 2017 -- Wendy Kennedy, 39, of Beaver Dams, NY, who was convicted of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine, was sentenced Tuesday to 24 months in prison by Chief U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci, Jr.  

Assistant U.S. Attorney Katelyn M. Hartford, who handled the case, said that between June 2012 and May 4, 2016, the defendant provided her brother and co-conspirator Scott Kennedy with equipment and materials, including pseudoephedrine, with the knowledge and intent that her brother would use them to manufacture methamphetamine.

Wendy Kennedy, said Hartford, also obtained quantities of methamphetamine from her brother, which he had manufactured, that she then distributed to her own customers. During the course of the conspiracy, Scott Kennedy distributed large amounts of methamphetamine with and to people throughout the area of Schuyler, Chemung, and Steuben Counties. He has been convicted and sentenced to 235 months in prison.

Also, said Hartford, "in furtherance of the conspiracy, the defendant used and maintained 2200 County Route 19, in Dix NY, for the purpose of manufacturing and distributing methamphetamine. Wendy Kennedy permitted her brother to manufacture methamphetamine at this location, and the defendant used that location to sell methamphetamine to others."

In addition to Scott and Wendy Kennedy, defendants Jared Mendez and Terry Champion have also been convicted and sentenced. Mendez was sentenced to 46 months in prison, while Champion received a 63-month term.

The sentencing is the result of an investigation by the New York State Police, Special Investigations Unit, Rochester; the New York State Police, CNET Southern Tier, under the direction of Major Richard Allen; the Schuyler County Sheriff’s Department, under the direction of William Yessman; and the Schuyler County District Attorney’s Office, under the direction of Joseph Fazzary.

2 sentenced in Beaver Dams meth case

ROCHESTER, Dec. 2, 2017 -- Two men convicted of conspiring to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine were sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court.

Jared Mendez, 32, of Bradford, NY, who was convicted of theft of anhydrous ammonia with knowledge it would be used to manufacture methamphetamine, was sentenced to 46 months in prison by Chief U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci, Jr. In addition, Terry Champion, who was convicted of possession of a listed chemical with knowledge it would be used to manufacture a controlled substance, was sentenced to 63 months in prison. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Katelyn M. Hartford, who handled the case, said that between June 2012 and May 4, 2016, Mendez and Champion conspired with Scott Kennedy and others to manufacture and distribute meth. Kennedy, 40, of Beaver Dams, was sentenced last month to 235 months in prison.

Authorities said Kennedy distributed large amounts of methamphetamine with and to people throughout the area of Schuyler, Chemung, and Steuben Counties in New York. During this time, they added, he received the assistance of numerous co-conspirators who provided him with supplies with the intent that he would use those supplies to manufacture meth. Between July 2015 and October 2015, Jared Mendez stole anhydrous ammonia and sold it to Kennedy.

Between January 2016, and May 4, 2016, authorities said, Champion obtained quantities of pseudoephedrine and sold it to Kennedy. In addition, on January 22, 2016, Champion possessed approximately 182 pseudoephedrine pills for the purpose of manufacturing methamphetamine. On that date, he was pulled over while driving on South Valley Road in Steuben County. During a search of the vehicle, officers located the pseudoephedrine pills.

Co-defendant Wendy Kennedy has been convicted and is awaiting sentencing. Charges are pending against another man.

The sentencings are the result of an investigation by the New York State Police, Special Investigations Unit, Rochester; the New York State Police, CNET Southern Tier, under the direction of Major Richard Allen; the Schuyler County Sheriff’s Department, under the direction of William Yessman; and the Schuyler County District Attorney’s Office, under the direction of Joseph Fazzary.

Kennedy gets 235 months in meth case

ROCHESTER, Nov. 20, 2017 -- Scott Kennedy, 40, of Beaver Dams, who was convicted of federal drug charges in connection with a methamphetamine ring operating across Schuyler, Chemung and Steuben Counties, was sentenced in U.S. District Court Monday to 235 months in prison.

Chief U. S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci imposed the sentence in a case in which Kennedy was found guilty of conspiracy to manufacture, possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute, 500 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing meth.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Katelyn M. Hartford, who handled the case, Kennedy conspired between June 2012 and May 4, 2016 with others, including sister Wendy Kennedy, Jared Mendez and Terry Champion to manufacture and distribute large amounts of meth to people in the three-county area.

"During that time," a press release noted, "defendant personally manufactured large amounts of methamphetamine at his home at 44 Campground Road in the Town of Catlin and on the property maintained by his sister, Wendy Kennedy, at 2200 County Route 19 in the Town of Dix."

Kennedy, the release said, "also received assistance from numerous co-conspirators who provided him with supplies with the intent that he would use those supplies to manufacture methamphetamine. Jared Mendez, for example, sold stolen anhydrous ammonia to Kennedy, while Terry Champion sold pseudoephedrine to Kennedy."

Jared Mendez, Terry Champion and Wendy Kennedy have been convicted of charges stemming from the conspiracy and will be sentenced on December 1, November 30 and December 19, respectively.

Monday’s sentencing was the result of an investigation by the New York State Police, Special Investigations Unit, Rochester; the New York State Police, CNET Southern Tier, under the direction of Major Richard Allen; the Schuyler County Sheriff’s Department, under the direction of Sheriff William Yessman; and the Schuyler County District Attorney’s Office, under the direction of District Attorney Joseph Fazzary.

Santa and other holiday figures were among the items for sale at the St. James' bazaar.

Bazaar Day: Churches ring in the holidays

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Nov. 18, 2017 -- A church in Odessa and two churches in Watkins Glen were among those celebrating the start of the holiday season Saturday with bazaars.

The United Methodist Church of Odessa and Catharine hosted its annual Holiday Bazaar, with crafts available for sale alongside the church pews and in side rooms and rooms behind the fellowship hall. Lunch was also available for purchase, as were baked goods. Santa and Mrs. Claus were upstairs for pictures with kids.

The annual St. Mary's Holiday Bazaar drew a large crowd to the Parish Center on 10th Street in Watkins Glen, where craft vendors, live dulcimer music, a cake booth and raffles were under way. A cafe offered pasta selections and meatball subs along with fried dough and cinnamon rolls. Kids worked on Chrismas projects in Santa's Workshop.

St. James' Episcopal Church attracted a steady stream of people to its Holiday Bazaar, held in the Friendship Hall on 6th Street in Watkins Glen. A lunch offerng soup, sandwich and dessert proved popular, with available seating filled. Various crafts were for sale, and a raffle offered prizes including a quilt, themed baskets and a dollhouse kit.

Photo in text: Alyssa McCray offered cards for sale at the Odessa bazaar featuring her Noble Photography & Design photos. She also shoots weddings and other special moments. She can be reached at,, or at (607) 923-0212.

Two girls gaze at alpacas on display at St. Mary's Holiday Bazaar. The animals were from Four Season Alpacas in Dundee.

An honor guard from American Legion Post 676 fires off a round at the service.

Veterans honored at Watkins fire house ceremony, but with a jarring interruption

WATKINS GLEN, Nov. 12, 2017 -- Veterans were honored Saturday in an annual ceremony moved from the Schuyler County Courthouse lawn to the warmer confines of the Watkins Glen Fire Department, but it turned into a ceremony unlike any that organizer Tony Specchio -- or anyone else, it seemed -- had ever seen.

As keynote speaker Assemblyman Phil Palmesano neared the end of his talk, First Responders jumped into action as two youngsters collapsed onto the concrete floor of the fire department bays -- where scores of area residents had congregated. And a third person, an elderly adult, became dizzy and made it to the building's interior before collapsing.

Palmesano stopped practically in mid-sentence, and the ceremony was put on hold as a fire bay door was opened to let in fresh air. Medical personnel tended to the three victims for more than a half hour and ambulances arrived to transport them to the hospital. Each was responsive during the interlude, and medical personnel present thought they would be okay, although one boy hit his chin hard -- and was said later to have suffered a fractured jaw that will require surgery after the swelling subsides.

Specchio said he had never seen anyone collapse in any of the many ceremonies he has overseen at Memorial Day and Veterans Day over the years, and couldn't understand why three people suddenly collapsed -- although theories abounded: too much heat, possibly dehydration, or anxiety, or a reaction to fumes such as carbon monoxide perhaps left behind by the fire trucks driven from the bays before the crowd gathered inside.

In fact, the father of the boy with the injured jaw said a high level of carbon monoxide was found in the youngster's system at the hospital.

"It's kind of a strange program here today," Specchio said when it resumed after the three patients had been transported from the scene.

Palmesano had the remaining attendees -- many had left during the break -- offer a silent prayer for the three, and commented on the sense of community exhibited by the First Responders in an instant after the collapses occurred. "What you saw here was extended family," he said. "When something bad happens, friends and family gather to help."

He likened that to the way friends embrace the families of servicemen, and said he hopes that in the most dire of circumstances, that Gold Star families realized that "the sacrifices of their loved ones made a tremendous difference in our history."

In the speeches leading to the injury break, the sacrifices of servicemen living and dead were extolled, with Schuyler County Legislature Chairman Dennis Fagan reading a fiery letter written to the National Football League by a fan disgusted with players taking a knee during the National Anthem.

Other remarks came from Watkins Glen Mayor Sam Schimizzi and the commanders of American Legions Posts 555, Keith Caslin, and 676, Rick Lewis.

Caslin said "anyone who served honorably can be considered a hero" and that he "will always hold them in the highest regard" and "stand for our flag."

Lewis said that service in the military disrupts the lives of both those who serve and their loved ones, and said "we need to serve our veterans as well as they serve us." He said homelessness among returning servicemen is "hardly the thanks of a grateful nation," and that "our gratitude and respect" should last forever.

The invocation and benediction were presented by Father Steve Lape of St. Mary's of the Lake Church in Watkins Glen.

Photos in text:

Top: Assemblyman Phil Palmesano was the keynote speaker. His talk was interrupted by the collapse of two young boys. A third person, an elderly man, was also overcome. All three were taken to the hospital.

Middle: Schuyler County Legislature Chairman Dennis Fagan was among the speakers.

Bottom: Watkins Glen Mayor Sam Schimizzi addresses the crowd at the Veterans Day service, with emcee Tony Specchio in the background.

Kellogg weighs in 10 years after accident

Special to The Odessa File

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

Reflection from 10 years Ago: A Community of Heroes

“A Hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” - Christopher Reeve

The Schuyler County community has many such heroes.

Today, 10 years from when my life was changed, after breaking my neck and suffering a spinal cord injury, I want to shine a bright light on a community that knows how to “persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles” and say a long overdue thank you.

September 29, 2007 my parents received the dreaded late-night call that I had been in an accident and they needed to get to me immediately. Only problem, I was in Florida. Without thinking twice my dad made arrangements and had my mother on the first flight out. And so began a trip that would end up taking her away from home for weeks, with nothing more than a phone call’s notice, a small carry-on bag, and the knowledge that the community would step right in.

Prayers. Now that is something that the Schuyler County community knows how to provide. The power of faith and prayer is impossible to quantify but was so vital to my recovery. Never underestimate the impact that a small-town faith community can have. Thank you to every person who prayed for my recovery; you are a part of every step I have taken these last 10 years.

Dinners. With my mother gone, my father was left to manage the house and my siblings.  Without skipping a beat, the community stepped in to help ensure there was always food prepared and available. This support continued for months and from the meals I was able to enjoy after eventually making it home, the Schuyler county community knows how to eat.  Thank you to every person who prepared food for my family; you are a part of every step I have taken these last 10 years (and maybe the reason I gained a few pounds during the process).

Caregivers. In a small town, it might be assumed that the medical care couldn’t compare to that of a larger city. Well, for those skeptics, I say go visit the Schuyler Hospital Physical Therapy department and watch me run. The vested interest that Michelle Myers took must be recognized and her influence noted. Thank you to the entire medical community; you are a part of every step I have taken these last 10 years.

Friends and Family. It would be impossible to list every friend and family member who made my recovery possible, because not a single person stayed on the sidelines. It was truly an army of love. The mail, cards, and visits at Kessler Medical and at home helped give me that extra push to keep working hard. Thank you to everyone who did not think twice about stepping forward to help support my entire family; you are a part of every step I have taken these last 10 years.

Ten years. It is impossible to comprehend and process that it has been a decade since my accident. Recovery. College. Career. Half-Marathons. Marathon. Engagement. Home ownership. World Travel. Life.

With all this said, I want to say one more thank you to all the heroes in Schuyler County. You are my hero and made a difference in my life.

Jeff Kellogg
Securities Operations & Accounting, Controllers
Wells Fargo & Co.

Author Barb Warner Deane plans talks

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Sept 8, 2017 -- Barb Warner Deane, a Watkins Glen native, will present an author talk and book signing at the Watkins Glen Public Library on Saturday, October 7 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. She will be signing both of her new releases: On The Homefront, a World War II-era historical novel, and Killing Her Softly, a contemporary romantic suspense novel.

The talk is open to the public, does not require tickets, and is a drop-in event.

At 1 p.m. that same day, Barb will present a historical program titled “Women of World War II: On the Front Lines & the Home Front” for the Schuyler County Historical Society at the Brick Tavern Museum, 108 N. Catherine St., Montour Falls. She will be signing both of her books at the close of the program. Again, this event is open to the public.

Barb is a 1979 graduate of Watkins Glen High School, a 1983 graduate of Cornell University, and a 1986 graduate of the University of Connecticut, School of Law. She lives in Elmhurst, IL with her husband, Chris. With their three daughters, the couple lived in Frankfurt, Germany and, as empty-nesters, Barb and Chris lived in Shanghai, China.

Barb is the daughter of the late Milford “Bud” Warner and the late Ruth Mehlenbacher Warner, both lifelong learners and teachers (and Bud the principal) at Watkins Glen High School. Barb is also the sister to Kate (Warner) LaMoreaux of Burdett, and Cynthia (Warner) Terry and Patty (Warner) Kehe, both of Watkins Glen.

Barb’s first published book, On The Homefront, a World War II era historical novel, was published by The Wild Rose Press on August 23, 2017. Killing Her Softly, a romantic suspense novel, is being published by The Wild Rose Press on September 28, 2017. Both books will be available in paperback at the events and are also available on Amazon, at The Wild Rose Press, and at Barnes &

Photo in text: Barb Warner Deane (Photo provided)

3 plead guilty in meth conspiracy case

Special to The Odessa File

ROCHESTER, Sept. 8, 2017 -- Three defendants have pleaded guilty before Chief U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci. Jr. for their roles in a methamphetamine conspiracy, Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. has announced.

--Scott Kennedy, 40, of Beaver Dams, NY, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to manufacture, possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute, 500 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing methamphetamine. The defendant a faces a minimum penalty of 20 years in prison, a maximum of life and a $20,000,000 fine.

--Jared Mendez, 32, of Bradford, NY, pleaded guilty to theft of anhydrous ammonia with knowledge it will be used to manufacture methamphetamine. He faces eight years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

--Terry Champion, 48, of Bradford, NY, pleaded guilty to possession of a listed chemical with knowledge it will be used to manufacture a controlled substance. The defendant faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Katelyn M. Hartford, who is handling the case, stated that between June 2012, and May 4, 2016, Scott Kennedy conspired with others, including Jared Mendez and Terry Champion, to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine. Kennedy distributed large amounts of methamphetamine with and to people throughout the area of Schuyler, Chemung, and Steuben Counties in New York.

During this time, Kennedy also received the assistance of numerous co-conspirators who provided him with supplies with the intent that he would use those supplies to manufacture methamphetamine, Hartford said. Between July 2015 and October 2015, Jared Mendez stole anhydrous ammonia and sold it to Kennedy.

Between January 2016, and May 4, 2016, Terry Champion obtained quantities of pseudoephedrine and sold it to Scott Kennedy. In addition, on January 22, 2016, Champion possessed approximately 182 pseudoephedrine pills for the purpose of manufacturing methamphetamine. On that date, the defendant was pulled over while driving on South Valley Road in Steuben County. During a search of the vehicle, officers located the pseudoephedrine pills.

The pleas are the result of an investigation by the New York State Police, Special Investigations Unit, Rochester; the New York State Police, CNET Southern Tier, under the direction of Major Richard Allen; the Schuyler County Sheriff’s Department, under the direction of William Yessman; and the Schuyler County District Attorney’s Office, under the direction of Joseph Fazzary.

Scott Kennedy is scheduled to be sentenced on November 20, 2017; Terry Champion on November 30, 2017; and Jared Mendez on December 1, 2017, all before Judge Geraci.

The troop members next to a couple of the park horseshoe pits they reconditioned. Back from left: Andrew Campbell, Charlene Mahnke, Adam Mahnke, Tom Ruocco. Middle from left: Colin Marsh, Lynnsay Ruocco. Front from left: Seth Durfy, Ben Campbell, Justin Ruocco.

Scouts recondition horseshoe pits at park

ODESSA, Aug. 21, 2017 -- Members of Boy Scout Troop 50, sponsored by the Odessa Fire Department, undertook a community service project for the Town of Catharine and the fire department Saturday, reconditioning the horseshoe pits at Catharine Park and creating four pits outside the fire department.

They dug up and replaced a dozen pits near the playground at the park, across the road from the town offices, and created four pits outside the fire department, which is located on Main Street in Odessa. Catharine Park is located on Park Road, which is off of Grant Road.

"This was a great opportunity for the Troop to do something good for the community, and with any luck it will spark increased interest in locals for utilizing this underrated local park," said a troop spokesperson. "The Troop was happy to complete this project in a single day, and is looking forward to playing horseshoes both at the park, and at the Fire Department during the department's annual outing this September."

Photo in text: Preparing one of the 12 pits reconditioned at Catharine Park. (Photo provided)

Fire alarm leads to 4 meth arrests

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Aug. 8, 2017 -- The Schuyler County Sheriff’s Office has arrested four individuals on charges related to manufacturing methamphetamine after an investigation into a fire alarm uncovered what authorities said was "suspicious activity."

The Montour Falls Fire Department was alerted to a fire alarm on August 4 at 2:34 a.m. at Romeo Village Apartments, 118 W. Broadway Street in the Village of Montour Falls. While investigating, a Sheriff's Office press release said, firefighters "discovered suspicious items and alerted law enforcement."

After executing a search warrant, Sheriff’s Investigator’s charged the following individuals with Unlawful Manufacture of Methamphetamine in the Third Degree, a Class D felony:

--Daniel E. Decker, 52, of Montour Falls.
--Melissa L. Oquendo, 32, of Montour Falls.
--Kevin J. Teed, 54, of Watkins Glen.
--Rachel J. Pyhtila, 19, of Montour Falls.

"All individuals were arraigned in the Village of Montour Falls Court," said the press release, adding: "Oquendo was remanded to jail in lieu of $1,500 / $3,000 bail/bond. Decker was remanded to jail with no bail, and both Pyhtila and Decker were remanded to jail with bail, but Schuyler County Court later remanded them to jail without bail from another pending case in County Court."

The Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the Montour Falls Fire Department and the New York State Police Contaminated Crime Scene Evidence Recovery Team.

Photos in text:

Top: Daniel E. Decker
Middle: Rachel J. Pyhtila, left, and Melissa L. Oquendo
Bottom: Kevin J. Teed. (Photos provided)  

Sentence handed down in drug-sale case

WATKINS GLEN, Aug. 5, 2017 -- -- Michael L. Doane, 52, of 2355 Baker Hill Road, has been sentenced in Schuyler County Court on the three drug charges for which he was previously convicted.

Doane was convicted on June 15 by a jury on three counts of Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the 5th degree. Officials said he sold methamphetamine out of his residence on three occasions, including on one occasion to an undercover police officer.

On the first charge, he was sentenced to 2 1/2years in state prison with two years post-release supervision, concurrent with the third charge, for which he was also sentenced to 2 1/2 years. On the second charge, he was sentenced to 2 1/2 years with two years post-release supervision, to be served consecutively. He was also ordered to pay a $375 surcharge as well as $300 restitution.

The cases were investigated by the New York State Police CNET (Southern Tier) division and the Special Investigation Unit (Rochester). The prosecution called 17 witnesses (13 from the NYSP) and entered 22 exhibits into evidence. Schuyler County District Attorney Joseph G. Fazzary prosecuted the case for the District Attorney’s Office.

The Wickham family gathers in front of the building, located behind the Brick Tavern Museum in Montour Falls. (Photo provided)

New rural center opens behind museum

MONTOUR FALLS, July 29, 2017 -- Members of the Wickham family were on hand on Friday, July 28 for the grand opening of the Wickham Rural Life Center located behind the Schuyler County Historical Scoiety's Brick Tavern Museum on Catharine Street in Montour Falls.

The new 600-square-foot structure allows expansion of the Society's historical collection, featuring vignettes of farm life from about 1875-1900, the time just before electricity reached the country farm. The Center exhibits an early farm kitchen, how fruit used to be grown, and a workshop with tools from the era.

The Center honors the long history of dedication to rural life in Schuyler County -- in no small part by the Wickham Family (since 1791), which stepped up with a donation to complete the building when the Historical Society ran short of funds. "The family has long been a supporter of the Historical Society and Museum" through donations of exhibit items, volunteer hours and cash, said a Museum representative.

Light refreshments were served at the celebration.

Photo in text: Three generations of the Wickham family share in the ribbon cutting. From left are Will Wickham, Lucas Wickham and Mary Jane Wickham Hoare. (Photo provided)

The cast of "Rock of Ages" rehearses a number in preparation for July 28-30 performances.

'Rock of Ages' musical ends its 3-day run

ODESSA, July 23 -- "Rock of Ages," a musical set in Hollywood of the 1980s, was performed from July 28-30 at Dream Barn Productions, located in the former Methodist church at 4991 County Road 14, near Catharine Corners outside Odessa.

Performances -- sold out -- were at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. There was a waiting list in case anyone who purchased a ticket was unable to attend.

The setting: It’s the tail end of the big, bad 1980s in Hollywood, and the party has been raging hard. Aqua Net, Lycra, lace and liquor flow freely at one of the Sunset Strip's last legendary venues, a place where sex machine Stacee Jaxx takes the stage and scantily clad groupies line up to turn their fantasies into reality. Amidst the madness, aspiring rock star (and resident toilet cleaner) Drew longs to take the stage as the next big thing (and longs for small-town girl Sherri, fresh off the bus from Kansas with stars in her eyes). But the rock and roll fairy-tale is about to end when German developers sweep into town with plans to turn the fabled Strip into just another capitalist strip mall. Can Drew, Sherri, and the gang save the strip -- and themselves -- before it's too late? Only the music of '80s hit bands hold the answer.

The show has a PG-15 rating for adult language and story line.

Tracy Gavich was Director, and Manley Gavich the Choreographer. Vocal Coach was Renee Riley, while John Coates was the Intern Vocal Coach. The Light Team: Frank Wood and Ryan Lambert. The Stage Running Crew: Sarah Norton, Maria Brubaker and Gina Gavich.

The cast:

Manley Gavich (pictured at right) - DREW - works at the legendary Bourbon Room hoping and waiting for his dream of being a rock star to come true.

Kasey Lenzner - SHERRIE - pretty, innocent Midwestern girl stepping right off the bus into a new world to pursue her dreams of stardom as an actress.

John Coates - LONNY - also works at the Bourbon Room, fun-loving guy you would get drunk with.

Michael Truesdail - DENNIS DUPREE - Classic stoner type guy who runs the famous Bourbon Room club.

Phebe Wickham - REGINA - A fun, hippie type girl who fights against the attempted takeover of  The Strip.

Ben Lucas - HERTZ KLINEMANN - Older German male. Uptight, cold, intimidating businessman trying to buy up the Strip to develop it. The bad guy of the piece. 

Dakota Cole - FRANZ KLINEMANN - Hertz’s son, young German male. Works for his father but not by choice. Pressured and intimidated by his father. 

Jack Muir - STACEE JAXX - '80s rock star, the ultimate bad boy; he is all about sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll.  

Marisa Hubbard - JUSTICE/MOTHER - Once a performer, she now operates a strip club where Sherrie winds up working. Also in the role of Sherrie's mother.

Scott Brubaker - MAYOR/CLUB DJ/'80s Guy - Pushover Mayor of The Strip, easily persuaded by money. Also in the roles of DJ at the Venus and typical '80s guy. 

Alix Mathewns - JA'KEITH/FATHER/'80s Guy - A Record Producer always looking for the next great act, lures Drew away from the Bourbon Room. Also in the role of Sherrie's father and typical '80s guy. 

Kara Fluman - WAITRESS/DESTINY - A party girl waitress at the Bourbon Room. Also sexy and sassy stripper  at the Venus Club. 

Noelle Alvernaz - WAITRESS/SAPPHIRE - A party girl waitress at the Bourbon Room. Also sexy and sassy stripper  at the Venus Club. 

Rachael Spaulding - CANDI/ARSENAL BAND MEMBER/'80s GIRL - Another stripper at the Venus Club. Also in the role as a guitar-playing member of the band Arsenal and various '80s girl roles. 

Caitlyn Keough - ARSENAL BAND MEMBER/'80s GIRL - Drummer in the band Arsenal. Also in various '80s girl roles. 

Montana Towner - CONSTANCE SACKS/'80s GIRL - A reporter for a rock magazine. Also in various '80s girl roles. 

Photos in text: At a play rehearsal on July 22.

Schuyler keeps eye out for Powassan Virus

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, July 20, 2017 -- There have been three cases of Powassan Virus identified recently in Saratoga County, New York. Infected ticks transmit Powassan (POW) virus to people.

Many POW infected people do not develop any symptoms; but in those who do develop symptoms, they often include fever, headache, loss of coordination, and seizures. POW virus can lead to more severe symptoms, including swelling of the brain and spinal cord and, in a few cases, death.

POW virus is rare, with only 26 cases seen in New York from 2004-2016. “There has never been a documented case of Powassan virus in Schuyler County or any of the Western Region of New York, but we remain alert to its presence in the state and are working with local health care providers to monitor our community,” said Schuyler County Public Health Director Marcia Kasprzyk.

Prevention, health officials say, is key -- with the best protection from POW virus and all tick related diseases, like Lyme, is to eliminate your exposure to ticks. Protection includes applying a DEET repellant before spending time outdoors, wearing long-sleeved, light colored, breathable clothing and tucking your pants into your socks, and staying on trails to avoid brush and leaves. When you come in from outdoors, it is important to shower and check for ticks on your body and clothing.

Powassan Virus is primarily seen in the northeastern part of the United States. New York, Minnesota and Wisconsin have seen the highest number of cases.

Schuyler County Public Health says its mission is to protect and empower the community to be safe, healthy and prepared. Visit or follow Schuyler County Public Health on Facebook and Twitter.

Legislators help Farm Bureau celebrate 100th

Special to The Odessa File

BURDETT, July 20 -- State Senator Tom O'Mara (R,C,I-Big Flats) and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,C,I-Corning) helped celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Schuyler County Farm Bureau at the bureau's annual picnic Thursday.

O'Mara and Palmesano sponsored a Legislative Resolution this year honoring the landmark anniversary of both the Schuyler County Farm Bureau and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schuyler County.

The Resolution was unanimously approved by the state Senate and Assembly in June.

It reads, in part: "It is the sense of this Legislative Body to recognize and applaud the leaders of commerce and industry, as well as educational institutions, whose accomplishments contribute to the economic health and prosperity of the communities of the State of New York and to the quality of life of its people ... As the Farm Bureau and Cornell Cooperative
Extension of Schuyler County celebrate their 100th Anniversary, they stand in fulfillment of the proud legacy of their namesake and are poised for success for many years to come."

The Farm Bureau picnic gets was held at Atwater Vineyards in Burdett.

The Cooperative Extension of Schuyler County has scheduled a 100th anniversary celebration in September.

Odessa couple celebrates 50th anniversary

ODESSA, July 1, 2017 -- Harry and Anita Lockwood of 405 Merchant Ave., Odessa celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with family and friends at the Lodge at Newtown Battlefield State Park on Saturday, June 10, 2017.

The two were married on March 25, 1967 in the Hartwick College Chapel, Oneonta, NY.


Photo at right: Harry and Anita Lockwood (Photo provided)

Rotarian Tom Weidemann, left, introduces the two newest Paul Harris Fellows, Rotarian Jim Bacalles and his wife, Mary Bacalles.

It was a very busy day at Rotary Club

WATKINS GLEN, June 22 -- The Watkins-Montour Rotary Club had its hands full at its weekly luncheon meeting Thursday, with twice as many people on hand as usual, and lots of business to attend to.

It was a day that saw the final two 2016-17 presentations to high school seniors honored as Students of the Month; the introduction of two new Paul Harris Fellows; a farewell talk by Swedish exchange student Angelika Friis, and a talk on beekeeping by Cooperative Extension Executive Director Phil Cherry.

The seniors honored were both from Odessa-Montour, one for the month of May (the ceremony had been delayed), and one for the month of June.

One was Simonne DeWalt (right), introduced by teacher Karen Gunning, who decribed the honoree as an outstanding artist who wears "the evidence of her faith" in her actions, such as volunteering in a food kitchen and in other charitable endeavors. DeWalt hopes to become an elementary teacher.

The other was O-M salutatorian Madison Morse (right), introduced by teacher Russ Gardner, who said she is "a hard working, intelligent" student who "truly wants to understand, and is willing to put in the hours and effort." She has a love of math and science, and of art, and plans to attend Corning Community College. Morse thanked her family and teachers for "supporting me on this long journey."

The Paul Harris Fellows were introduced by Rotarian Tom Weidemann, who first presented the honor to Mary Bacalles, wife of Rotarian, former Assemblyman and former Corning mayor Jim Bacalles. Weidemann then surprised Jim Bacalles by presenting him with an identical honor. The Paul Harris Fellow is reserved for people who exhibit "service above self."

Exchange student Angelika Friis of Sweden recalled her year here attending Odessa-Montour High School, calling it "incredible" and thanking the Rotary Club for making it possible through its Youth Exchange Program.

She detailed the highlights of her stay, which will end soon with her return home. She made two trips to New York City, one to North Carolina, and one to Old Forge, and greatly enjoyed the school semiformal and its prom, where she was named the Prom Queen. She said the announcement that night that she was queen so surprised her that she stood there, "with my jaw open, not moving" -- and that the accceptance of her by the school has been "awesome."

She also became a close friend to Watkins Glen exchange student Moeko Oshima of Japan, who was there Thursday as well, running a power point that accompanied Angelika's talk. "It will be a lifetime friendship," said Angelika.

The weekly luncheon discussion topic was beekeeping, presented by Cooperative Extension's Phil Cherry, who took up beekeeping to help his wife when she decided to adopt the hobby several years ago.

Cherry said he's "only" been stung about 20 times, and explained the seasonality of beekeeping -- with bee hives effectively dormant in the winter, and active in the spring and summer, with harvesting of the honey generally coming in the fall. He recommended the hobby as a satisfying one.

Also: Rick Evans, Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 2674 of Watkins Glen, received a Rotary donation toward the Friends of Scouting campaign.

With the honored students and their families, and with many members of the Bacalles family on hand, the luncheon numbered about 60 diners, twice the normal 30.

Photos in text: From top: Student honorees Simonne DeWalt and Madison Morse; exchange student Angelika Friis, and beekeeping hobbyist Phil Cherry.

Declining an honor ... in honor of a friend

WATKINS GLEN, June 8 -- Watkins Glen High School senior Angel Hamm was honored Thursday by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as its WGHS Student of the Month -- but in a heartfelt speech, she declined the honor in favor of her late friend and classmate, Ryan Pruitt, who died earlier this week.

She said she would be replacing the award plaque's word plate with one with Ryan's name on it, and passing the honor along to his parents.

Angel was introduced by teacher Kelly Muir, who read comments by nominator Tammy Cole. Those remarks focused on Angel's community service projects (a food can drive, a horse program for special needs children and adults, and helping out at various Boy Scout functions), her membership on the school swim team, and her plan to enter the Air Force on June 27. She will head to Texas, "where she will do her training for a special intelligence program."

Angel, Muir read, is "quite the accomplished young lady" who "makes herself feel better by doing good for others. I have seen her turn negative into positive, not only for herself, but for her friends and classmates as well."

Added Muir: "That quality has not gone unnoticed this week," in the wake of the death of Pruitt and the mourning that took place at school and at a candlelight vigil at the Clute Park Pavilion Tuesday night, a gathering that filled the pavilion to overflowing and which, according to attendees, featured an emotional talk by Pruitt's former football coach, Lou Condon Jr. Condon was the coach when Pruitt, in 2015, gained 337 rushing yards in a single game -- a 61-14 victory over Moravia.

But Angel Hamm surprised Rotarians by declining Thursday's award -- a move that met with enthusiastic approval as she explained her reasoning. Her remarks follow.

"I know this is exceedingly unorthodox, but I'd like to respectfully decline my award for Student of the Month of June. With this decline, I'd like to pass it on to Ryan Pruitt and his family. If it is alright with all of you, this Rotary Student of the Month Award is dedicated to Ryan.

"I understand there is supposed to be a portion of this speech telling you about the nominee. So, if you'd let me, I'd like to tell you a little about Ryan and why I feel he deserves this award far more than I do.

"Ryan is a son, brother, uncle, grandson, friend, and overall someone to look up to. You never pass Ryan without seeing a smile on his face, always willing to go out of his way to put a smile on your face as well. He is a part of my graduating class, a small class of 80, where we are a family. Ryan is an important part of that family. We have grown up together, learning to read and write, going to our first dances, seeing far-away places, like Washington D.C., playing cards and listening to great music. Ryan is a great friend, and I believe there is no greater treasure than a great friend. And Ryan is a great friend to all, whether helping classmates on an assignment, giving a contagious and friendly smile to everyone, hanging out in the senior lounge, or just listening when you need a sympathetic friend.

"My favorite memory of Ryan is when I asked him how he liked the new movie that came out at that time, Split. I not only got his opinion, but he told me every little detail of the movie, none out of place. I kept saying, 'Ryan, I need to go to class; Ryan, I gotta go.' But he'd just say, 'I'm almost done, I swear.' And not miss a beat. His passion is unreal.

"His coaches call him one of a kind, with the most talent and enthusiasm. The perfect combinaton for the perfect team member. His teachers always speak so highly of him, and how they love having him in class. His friends always talk about memories, and his laugh -- a laugh you can tell the owner of from across a building.

"As you've noticed, I don't speak of him in a past tense. Ryan will never leave us. Life may have overwhelmed him, but he will always be a part of the Class of 2017 family.

"Thank you."

Note: A memorial service for Ryan Pruitt will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, June 11 at the Watkins Glen High School football field.

Photos in text: Angel Hamm and Ryan Pruitt.

The color guard stands at attention during the Montour Falls Memorial Day service.

Honoring our war dead on a rainy day

SCHUYLER COUNTY, May 29 -- Memorial Day services were held at three locations in Schuyler County Monday -- and each found shelter from threatening skies.

The service at 9:30 a.m. in Montour Falls was moved from the picturesque park fronting Shequagah Falls to the Montour Falls fire station community room. The decision was made 30 minutes beforehand, and proved beneficial, since the rain did indeed move through the area during the service. More than 100 people were on hand in the firehall.

A similar choice was made in Watkins Glen, where the 11 a.m. service -- overseen as it has been for more than 40 years by veteran Tony Specchio -- was moved from the lawn fronting the Schuyler County courhouse to the Watkins Glen Fire Station bays. It was the third time weather has prompted a move in those 40-some years, said Specchio, and the first time to the fire hall. On the other two occasions, it was moved to the Community Center off of 4th Street.

A 10:30 a.m. service at the Naval Memorial by the waterfront was canceled, as was a parade up Franklin Street from First Street to the courthouse.

The third service, at the Schuyler County Veterans Memorial Park outside Odessa, also found shelter, but on the park grounds. It was held under the roof of an open-air pavilion mere yards from where it is normally held, in the park's open spaces. Most of the crowd, along with the Odessa-Montour High School Band (which also performed in Montour Falls), was sheltered. The rain held off, in any event, until the completion of the service; then it started, sending people who had been visiting with neighbors out to their cars.

Keynote speakers at the three services were:

Montour Falls: Commander Bruce Apgar Jr., USN (retired), who has continued after retirement as a Senior Naval Science Instructor. He related the role -- and sacrifices -- of our fighting men and women in wars across three different centuries and said of those fighting engagements: "You have to pause and wonder why" -- whether the wars were really necessary. Some were, he said, but others "were purely elective." And yet, he added, men and women in our nation have "always been willing to take up arms and defend the freedom we hold dear. ... We stand in thoughtful remembrance."

Watkins Glen: Schuyler County Admnistrator Tim O'Hearn, who told the gathering that "your attendance shows the deepest respect" to those veterans who gave their lives "as well as to those who are still serving our great country."

He recounted the history of Memorial Day, and said that "our region has a longstanding rich military history dating back to the French and Indians wars of the 1700s, continuing through the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan" -- and that "with respect to the percentage of our residents who have served and sacrificed," Schuyler County has "more than doubled the state rate ... and has almost 1 1/2 times the national rate."

Odessa: Major Russell Gardner, Marine Corps (retired), who told the gathering that "freedom is never free." He related how he had lost fellow combatants in Bosnia, and that every time he hears the National Anthem or sees the flag, "their faces, their names always pass through my mind along with others who have paid such a price ... We need to thank those who have served, but even more important, we need to honor those who have given up everything."

Music was provided at the Montour Falls service not only by the Odessa-Montour Band, but by Bill and Donna Christoffels, along with Sarah Schlueter-Eisman, singing the National Anthem and "God Bless America." In addition, there were two bagpipe performances (one of them "Amazing Grace") by Tom Leslie.

Watkins Glen was dominated by brief speeches in addition to O'Hearn's remarks, and was marked by the playing of "Taps" by Bernie Riley. And the service outside Odessa featured the O-M Band and a Community Chorus led by Kim Laursen that sang "Battle Hymn of the Republic."

Photos in text:

From top: Major Russell Gardner, Marine Corps (retired); Commander Bruce Apgar Jr., USN (retired); members of the Community Chorus at the service outside Odessa; and Watkins Glen service organizer Tony Specchio prepares for the ceremony in the Watkins Glen Fire Station bays.

Left: Members of the Odessa-Montour Band at the Montour service; they also played at the Odessa service. Right: The color guard marches at end of the Odessa gathering.

Left: Tim O'Hearn, keynote speaker at the Watkins Glen service. Right: Kim Laursen leads the Community Chorus at the Odessa ceremony.

A flag flew from a fire truck ladder outside the Watkins Glen Fire Department bays.

Church plans ground-breaking ceremony

Special to The Odessa File

ODESSA, May 16, 2017 -- The Odessa Baptist Church will have a brief ground-breaking ceremony for its new church on Sunday, May 28, after the morning worship service concludes at about 11:45 a.m.

The ground-breaking ceremony will take place on the property of the church at 111 Fowler Place in Odessa. Both members and friends of the congregation as well as the larger public are invited to attend the ceremony, which will involve worship songs, prayers, and ceremonial activities.

Church members will be using a chrome-plated shovel during the ceremony. The shovel was originally owned by Mr. Howard A. Hanlon and is now on display at the Sidle Insurance office in Montour Falls.

"We will also use ceremonial wooden stakes to commemorate this event," said a church press release. "And there will be opportunities for photographs during this family-friendly event.
After the ceremony concludes there will be a time of fellowship and refreshments in a pavilion on the property."

The Odessa Baptist Church intends to build a 5,000-square-foot church on the Fowler Place property. Its dimensions will be 50' x 100'. The church plans to have multi-use spaces that will include offices, a worship area, a fellowship hall, a kitchen, and restrooms. The initial phase of the construction project involves site preparation, the pouring of a concrete slab and footings, and the erection of a building shell.

Building Committee members include David Sidle II, Dr. Brian Bleiler, Donald Cutton, and the Rev. Jeremy Spencer. Sidle is the chair of the committee.

The Odessa Baptist Church sold its former church building at 200 Maple Avenue in 2015 and now worships at the American Legion Hall on Route 228, two miles north of Odessa. Sunday worship services begin at 10:30 a.m.

Updyke is Auxiliary Volunteer of Year

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, May 18, 2017 -- At its annual spring luncheon on May 9, 2017, the Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary named its Volunteer of the Year, and voted in new officers for its Board of Directors.

Chris Updyke was surprised as she was named Volunteer of the Year for all the work she does year-round as Volunteer Coordinator. Updyke recruits, trains and schedules volunteers for the Information Desk inside the Main Entrance of the Hospital, and also assists with volunteers for the Gift Shop, Seneca View, and numerous Auxiliary events. She meticulously tracks the hours served by 150 volunteers throughout the year.

At the luncheon, which also serves as its Annual Meeting, the Auxiliary voted in the following officers to the Board of Directors: Kitty Shallenberger, President; Sharon Malick, First Vice-President; Sally Armbruster, Second Vice-President; Anne Myers, Secretary; and Rita Tague-Carmony, Treasurer.

The Auxiliary welcomes new volunteers.  Download an application at  To find out more, email, or contact Volunteer Coordinator Chris Updyke at 535-4445.

Photos in text:

Chris Updyke is presented the Volunteer of the Year award by Schuyler Hospital Auxiliary President Anne Myers (right).

Bottom: The Auxiliary’s 2017-18 officers include (left to right): Anne Myers, Secretary; Rita Tague-Carmony, Treasurer; Sally Armbruster, Second Vice-President; Kitty Shallenberger, President; and Sharon Malick, First Vice-President. (Photos provided)

Hospital recognizes 350 years of service

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, May 19, 2017 -- At its annual Employee Recognition Dinner on May10, 2017, Schuyler Hospital recognized employees for 5 to 25 years of service.

In all, 34 employees were recognized for a total of 350 years of combined experience at the hospital and adjoining Seneca View Skilled Nursing Facility.

The evening’s celebration was held at Chateau LaFayette Reneau, and catered by Ithaca Bakery.

In presenting the years of service awards, Hospital President Jim Watson thanked everyone for how hard they work every day to take care of the patients and residents and their families.

Celebrating 25 years: Nancy Ehler.

Celebrating 20 years: Christina Brink and Pamela Mosher.

Celebrating 15 years: Dawn Bellows, Mary Dore, Darlene Dupree, Shari Frey, Sharon Homkes, and Christina Hoose.

Celebrating 10 years: Ashley Barrett, Elizabeth Bradshaw, Cassandra Dunlop, Mary Farrell, Cindy Hines, Lucas Hoad, Heather Lodge, Reagan Matwiejow, Emily Peckham, Dr. Jagmohan Singh, Christine Stierly, Anna Stoltzfus, Matthew Taylor, and Matthew Thomason.

Celebrating 5 years:  Ashely Blim, Tina Bruckman, Lisa Doolittle, Brian Gardner, Catherine Huntley, William (Bill) Kouwe, Dr. Benjamin Saks, Clara Smith, Andrew Stackhouse, Katilynn Taylor, and Anne Wood.

For more information or career opportunities, contact Schuyler Hospital at (607) 535-7121 or email

Husband & wife vols honored in Albany

Special to The Odessa File

ALBANY, May 12, 2017 -- New York State Senator Tom O’Mara, Assemblyman Chris Friend and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano helped honor selected senior citizen volunteers from Chemung, Schuyler and Steuben counties at the State Capitol on Tuesday as part of the 2017 Older New Yorkers’ Day celebration.

The New York State Office for the Aging sponsored the event, which paid tribute to the volunteers for their extensive service. Among them was a Schuyler County couple.

In a joint statement, O’Mara, Friend and Palmesano said the volunteers had provided “outstanding and meaningful service ... to so many of their fellow seniors and their communities throughout the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions. (This event is) a fitting tribute to the thousands of hours they’ve volunteered, which have made such a difference in so many lives.”

According to the Office for the Aging, Older New Yorkers’ Day is celebrated in May in conjunction with National Older American's Month events across the nation. This event acknowledged the "significant contributions made by older New Yorkers to their communities."

Local county Offices for the Aging submitted nominations for the recognition. Honored from Schuyler County were:

--Robert Wirth: According to the event organizers, “Bob has made a difference in the health and well-being of many county residents through his participation in a variety of volunteer ventures. He has co-facilitated programs including Bone Builders and Strong for Life, and is an advisory council member of the Retired Senior and Volunteer Program (RSVP). Additionally, he puts his extensive knowledge about home repairs and building to work by serving with the Schuyler Housing Opportunity Council through construction projects. Bob also serves on the Schuyler Outreach Council and Schuyler County Hunger Task Force and volunteers with the summer food program as well as the Reynoldsville Food Pantry. A resident of Schuyler County for 41 years, Bob resides with his wife, Wendy (see below), in Burdett, New York."

--Wendy Wirth: According to the event organizers, "Wendy has given countless hours toward the betterment of her community. Through her work with the Girl Scouts of America, she has been involved with young children and teens. She also has volunteered as a court-appointed
special advocate. In addition to advocating for those in need, she provides classes on health and wellness, as well as fighting hunger in the county through several food distribution programs. Most recently she has been working with the Schuyler County Transit Link Line as a bus buddy, teaching older adults and others how to utilize the public bus system. She resides with her husband, Bob (see above) in Burdett, NY."

Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara, Robert Wirth, Wendy Wirth and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano. (Photo provided)

O'Mara pays tribute to Carmella Hoffman as State Senate 'Woman of Distinction'

Sunset View Creamery owner honored in Albany

Special to The Odessa File

ALBANY, May 10, 2017 -- State Senator Tom O’Mara (R,C,I-Big Flats) honored Carmella Hoffman, owner and operator of Sunset View Creamery near Odessa, as his 2017 New York State Senate “Woman of Distinction” at a ceremony in Albany Tuesday night.

Hoffman represented O’Mara’s 58th District at the Senate’s 19th Annual “Women of Distinction” awards ceremony in the Legislative Office Building. She was recognized along with more than 60 other honorees representing senatorial districts from across New York.

“I look forward to this opportunity every year to say thank you to one of our outstanding area citizens," said O'Mara, "and Carmella Hoffman has certainly earned this recognition. She exemplifies the commitment and quality of Finger Lakes agriculture. Carmella stands for all of our regional producers making enormous contributions to the overall strength and success of New York State’s leading agricultural industry. Cheese making has long played an important role in so many upstate New York communities, including Schuyler County. Thanks to Carmella and the Finger Lakes Cheese Alliance, it’s still going strong and has an exciting and promising future. It’s truly an honor for me to have this opportunity to have the New York State Senate pay tribute to Carmella as a ‘Woman of Distinction.’”

Carmella and her husband, Ron, operate the 415-acre Hoffman Dairy in Schuyler County. The Hoffman family first settled on this Finger Lakes farm in 1905. Carmella has built the farm’s Sunset View Creamery from the ground up since 2004. The farm and creamery are currently operated by the fourth and fifth generations of the Hoffman family, with the sixth
generation learning the ropes of farming and cheese production. Carmella remains a driving force behind the Finger Lakes Cheese Alliance with Hoffman Dairy serving as the host farm for one of the Finger Lakes region’s most anticipated events: the annual Finger Lakes Cheese Festival.

The senator also took the occasion of Hoffman’s selection to recall his own family’s history in New York State cheese making. O’Mara’s grandfather, John, was a cheese maker and operated the Colosse Cheese Factory in Oswego County in the mid-20th century. Colosse Cheese won several awards at the New York State Fair over the years, including 1st Place medals for cheese making in 1937 and 1941 when O’Mara’s grandfather operated the factory.

The senator’s father, also named John, grew up working in the factory throughout his high school and college years. Colosse Cheese is still produced and sold in central New York, but the O’Mara family is no longer involved in the business.

O’Mara solicits districtwide nominations for the annual tribute. Hoffman was nominated for this year’s tribute by her daughter, Christina, who submitted the nomination on behalf of herself and Hoffmans' three other children, Nicole, Jeremy and Valerie.

In a joint statement, the Hoffman children said, “We are so proud of our mom for the selfless acts that she performs every day. She is always putting others before herself, all the while being a wonderful, supportive, caring and loving wife, mother and grandmother. We are honored that she has been chosen for this prestigious award. Our family could not have been
blessed with a more wonderful woman to have as a wife, mother and Nonni! We love you and are so happy for you!"

In addition to her work on the farm and at the creamery, Carmella serves as the Town Clerk/Collector and Court Clerk for the Town of Catharine. She has devoted leadership and time to numerous groups, causes and organizations, including the Odessa Fire Department, Schuyler County Volunteer Ambulance Corps, Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce, Girl Scouts and 4-H. She has been the recipient of numerous community, civic and business awards and honors.

The Senate's annual "Women of Distinction" program allows senators statewide to select one honoree from their respective legislative districts for this statewide tribute.

O’Mara’s past honorees have been:

-- in 2011, Carol Berry of Hornell, a longstanding regional library professional and director of the Dormann Library in Bath;

-- in 2012, Virginia “Ginny” Houseknecht of Watkins Glen, a longtime area Cornell Cooperative Extension educator and leader, and founder of the Southern Tier Parkinson’s Disease Support Group;

-- in 2013, Beverly “Bev” Stamp, co-owner and operator of Lakewood Vineyards in Watkins Glen, a long-time and beloved ambassador of New York State’s nationally and internationally renowned wine and grape industry; and

-- in 2014, Lauren R. Snyder, a public health professional from Penn Yan who served as the Yates County Public Health Director for 28 years before retiring in 2009;

-- in 2015, Linda Thomas, owner and operator of the Wellsburg Diner and recipient of a “Small Business Excellence Award” from the U.S. Small Business Administration; and

-- last year, Dawn R. Smith, Transition and Care Management (TCM) Program Manager at the Bath VA Medical Center and a well-known local veterans advocate.

Photo in text: From left: Senator O'Mara, Carmella Hoffman, Ron Hoffman and the
couple's daughter Christina. (Photo provided)

Easements for Racing Center, wastewater treatment plant weighed by School Board

Easement: A right of use over the property of another.

WATKINS GLEN, April 19 -- The Watkins Glen School Board spent the better part of an hour at its meeting Tuesday night discussing proposed easements on its property -- one at the northern border of the planned expansion of the International Motor Racing Research Center, and one along land leading past the baseball field to the canal.

That latter is for sewage and gas pipelines for the planned Wastewater Treatment Plant to be built across the canal from school grounds, a joint venture by the villages of Watkins Glen and Montour Falls -- and it proved somewhat contentious.

Racing Research Center:

Tom Weidemann, executive director of the racing research center, outlined the expansion of that facility -- a planned addition of a two-story extension on land that used to be a school playground, purchased from the district several years ago. The ground floor will contain a reading room, and research desks linked to the center's database. The basement, he said, will be for "processing," and the second floor for "archival storage."

Parking will be at the rear, as it is now, between the research center and the Watkins Glen Elementary School. The center and attached Watkins Glen Public Library currently utilize a school access road on the south without an easement, and would now like an easement there as well as one from the north. That one on the north would be from the 15th Street extension owned by the school district that serves as an entrance to, and exit from, the elementary school parking lot.

Weidemann said the target for project completion is in two or two-and-a-half years. The research center will continue to store archival material in other locations, such as in climate-controlled warehouses, as its inventory grows. "We're becoming more selective in what we accept," said Weidemann, noting that storage space is an issue.

School Board member Keith Caslin raised some concerns about traffic flow, and how the parking-lot entrance off of the 15th Street extension should be one-way, north to south, to avoid potential accidents involving buses and students. Board member Mark Franzese also suggested speed bumps as a precaution but -- like the other Board members -- seemed largely in favor of the project moving forward.

Before ground would be broken, the research center will undertake a fund-raising effort among members of the auto racing world. Cost of the expansion -- for which the center has long been saving -- is expected to be $5 million, Weidemann said.

Wastewater Treatment Plant:

The easement for a proposed sewage pipeline and gas pipeline running in the northeast corner of the school property, past the baseball field to the canal, was not as warmly received, with Caslin asking why it was being brought to the School Board at such a late date -- essentially as one of the final steps before bids are issued for the treatment plant. The plant, part of the Project Seneca umbrella of plans to improve the infrastructure and economic vitality of the region, will replace an old plant located on the southern shore of Seneca Lake.

Caslin also said the easement would effectively eliminate any future plans that might arise to build any sort of structure on that part of the school property, although sports activities could continue there.

"I'm 100% behind Project Seneca," he said. "But we're already short of green space. I'm also concerned about a gas line crossing school property. We should have been in on the beginning phases of this plan."

A representative of Barton & Loguidice, engineers on the treatment plant project, said the pipelines would be placed "as early as May 2018." The startup of the treatment plant is envisioned for May 2019.

Superintendent Tom Phillips echoed Caslin, saying: "I want to be a good neighbor and work with the community to improve what we have. But we have to protect the school property, too. We just want to make sure the interests of the school district are protected."

The board asked that Barton & Loguidice place marker flags along the route that the pipelines would follow on school property, with the intent that board members can walk along it to better understand what it entails. Or as Caslin put it: "We need a visual."

Phillips said that any demonstration of satisfaction by the board after that walk must be tempered with the realization that "we still will have an obligation to work with the school attorney" with an eye toward generation of a formal agreement for a board vote.

Photos in text:

Top: IMRRC Executive Director Tom Weidemann shows a rendering of the expanded research center.
Middle: Proposed site plan of the racing research center, with the two-story expansion on the left, and access from the 15th Street extension to parking behind the center.
Bottom: Board member Keith Caslin addresses concerns about the proposed pipeline easement.

Ryan to attend Summer Leaders Seminar at U.S. Military Academy at West Point

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, April 10 -- Tanner S. Ryan, a junior at Watkins Glen High School, has been selected to be among 1,000 attendees at West Point’s prestigious Summer Leaders Experience (SLE) in June.

More than 5,000 juniors nationwide applied to SLE, which offers outstanding high school juniors the opportunity to experience life at West Point. SLE attendees live in the cadet barracks (dormitories), eat in the Cadet Mess, and participate in academic, leadership, athletic, and military workshops.

Organizers say the one-week seminars are designed to help juniors with their college-selection process, while giving them an idea of the importance of leadership and sound decision-making in their education, careers, and lives, in general.

All SLE attendees participate in virtual-reality war simulation, and military and physical fitness training, and, in addition, each student selects three of the 15 offered workshops.

The United States Military Academy at West Point is a four-year, co-educational, federally funded undergraduate college located 50 miles north of New York City. A preeminent leader- development institution, West Point was founded in 1802 as America’s first college of engineering. Since then, West Point has grown in size and stature, but remains committed to the task of producing commissioned leaders of character for America’s Army.

For more information about West Point, go to

Photo in text: Tanner Ryan (Photo provided)

Some tips for keeping the flu at bay

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Feb. 19, 2017 -- Flu season has arrived in Schuyler County with over 20 confirmed cases reported so far. The best ways to protect yourself and others from the flu, says Schuyler County Public Health, are to:

--Make sure you and your loved ones get your flu shot every year.
--Wash your hands often and avoid touching your face.
--Avoid contact with anyone who is sick and stay home when you are sick.
--Drink plenty of fluids, get plenty of sleep, and eat nutritious food.

In a press release, Public Health added the following: "People with the flu will often experience a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle and body aches, headaches, and fatigue. Typically, the flu does not cause stomach problems like nausea or vomiting.

"Influenza can be dangerous for anyone but is most dangerous for children, pregnant women, the elderly, and community members with weakened immune systems. Flu can lead to dangerous, and sometimes fatal, health problems especially in pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions like diabetes and asthma. By getting your flu shot, you are protecting yourself, your loved ones, and your community."

Added Marcia Kasprzyk, Director of Schuyler County Public Health: “This year’s flu shot seems to be a very good match for the cases we are seeing,”

For more information, you can visit Schuyler County Public Health online at or follow Schuyler County Public Health on Facebook and Twitter.

Schuyler County employees honored at a luncheon for years of service milestones pose for a group picture. (Photo provided)

County employees honored at luncheon

MONTOUR FALLS, Feb. 17 -- Schuyler County employees with a combined 565 years of employment service and have reached longevity milestones were recognized at a luncheon Tuesday at the Human Services Complex.

Those honored included, by milestone years of service:

5 Years: Arthur F. Austin, Charles C. Comstock, Jessica M. Conklin, Joann Coyle, Karinne E. Dye, Janice A. Granston, Linda D. MacDonald, Amber E. Madaffari, Lester J. Miller, Kristen M. Plyter, Helen M. Specchio, Darrel C. Sturges, Amy S. Thornton.

10 Years: Shanda L. Benjamin-Herchanik, Jackson W. Carnes, Jack M. Gladke, Darci M. Kasprzyk, Sheila K. LaFever, Victoria G. Pierce, Patricia M. Sabatini, Peggy A. Tomassi, Kyle R. VanGalder, Tamre S. Waite.

15 Years: Keith E. Costley, Alfred J. Foote, JoAnn S. Fratarcangelo, Terry L. Higgins, Paula D. Johns, William E. Mosher, Jeaninne S. Shope, Kimberly J. Smith, Lisa A. Snyder, Erin V. Spencer, Beth A. Taft.

25 Years: Craig N. Gallow.

30 Years: Marcia O. Kasprzyk.

35 Years: John W. Rekczis.

2016 Retiremments:

William H. Osborne, Jr. -- 38 years.
Judy D. Allen -- 26 years.
Christopher H. Ward -- 23 years.
John D. Sworts -- 20 years.
Maria A. Beylo -- 14 years.
Carolyn C. Elkins -- 13 years.
Barbara L. Besley -- 11 years.

Photo in text: A cake at the recognition luncheon. (Photo provided)

3 teens among reps at anti-drug forum

Special to the Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Feb. 14 -- Representatives from the Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking and Drugs, including three Schuyler County teens, attended CADCA’s (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America's) 27th Annual National Leadership Forum last week.

“We were so excited to be able to spend several days with coalitions from across the country, learning new prevention skills to bring back to Schuyler County,” said Kelsey Kernan, a student at Watkins Glen High School.

Amber Updike, a student at WGHS, agreed, “I learned a lot at this year’s National Leadership Forum that we can utilize here in Schuyler County”.

Approximately, 3,000 substance abuse prevention specialists and advocates from around the country participated in the event. CADCA’s Forum covered a wide range of topics -- everything from how to prevent prescription drug abuse to how to create tobacco-free environments and develop policies to reduce underage drinking.

SCCUDD also met with U.S. representatives and senators at the Forum’s Capitol Hill Day event. “It was a real pleasure to speak with our representatives and let them know about our coalition,” said Kassandra Snyder, a recent graduate from the Odessa-Montour Central School District.

For more information about CADCA, visit

Photos in text: From left: Kassandra Snyder, Kelsey Kernan and Amber Updike. (Photo provided)

SCCUDD was formed in response to a Schuyler County Public Health Department Community Health Assessment concerning youth outcomes. Part of this Assessment included a public opinion survey that showed the number one health concern of Schuyler County residents was the use and abuse of alcohol and other drugs. The mission of SCCUDD is to prevent, reduce and delay the onset of substance use among Schuyler County youth by collaborating with community partners, promoting prevention education and substance-free activities and implementing environmental strategies.

SCCUDD officials say their vision is a connected community where youth have education, resources, and drug-free options to help their journey to become happy, healthy adults. For more information, or to become involved with SCCUDD, you can visit SCCUDD online at, or follow SCCUDD on Facebook and Twitter.

Man charged following pickup rollover

WATKINS GLEN, Feb. 6 -- An Indiana, Pa. man has been charged with multiple offenses after his pickup truck crashed early Saturday following a traffic stop in Watkins Glen.

Village Police said Jason W. Burba, 42, faces a felony charge of first-degree reckless endangerment and misdemeanor charges of driving while intoxicated and reckless driving, along with alleged violations that include failure to signal a turn, driving the wrong way on a one-way street, failure to stop at a stop sign, moving from a lane unsafely, failure to yield to an emergency vehicle, speed not reasonable and prudent, and no seat belt.

According to a published report, Burba was pulled over by police for failure to signal shortly after midnight near the intersection of Steuben Street and South Madison Avenue in the village, but then fled west on Steuben as officers approached the 2014 Nissan Titan he was operating. Police said he drove onto Station Road, where the vehicle crashed and overturned during a northbound turn onto Ellison Road, knocking out Burba. He was removed from the vehicle by emergency responders, and treated at Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, Pa.

Two passengers were hospitalized, as well. No word was available on any specific injuries, though one of the passengers was soon released from Schuyler Hospital following treatment. Neither passenger was charged with any offense.

Arraignment was held Sunday in Watkins Glen Village Court, and Burba was sent to Schuyler County Jail in lieu of $2,500 cash bail or $5,000 bond.

Also responding to the accident were Schuyler County Sheriff's deputies, state troopers, a state police accident reconstruction team, Watkins Glen firefighters, ambulance crews from Schuyler, Hector and Tyrone, and Guthrie and Life Net Medivac helicopters.

Photo in text: Jason W. Burba (Photo provided)

Stocum is chair of Arc's Spaghetti Dinner

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Jan. 27, 2017 -- Watkins Glen Postmaster Don Stocum will again chair The Arc of Schuyler’s Annual Spaghetti Dinner fundraiser at the Montour Falls Moose Lodge. The dinner will take place on President’s Day, February 20, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“The Arc and the Montour Moose have partnered for more than 35 years to host a fundraiser dinner that brings the community together to support The Arc and services for people with developmental disabilities,” Stocum said. “The Watkins Glen High School Interact Club students continue to volunteer. We’re looking forward to welcoming everyone to another great event whether they’re dining in or taking dinner home to the family.”

Tickets are $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and $5 for youths under age 12. Meals include spaghetti with sausage and meatball, tossed salad, bread, beverage, and dessert. Takeout meals are available. Tickets may be purchased at the event or in advance at the Montour Moose or The Arc of Schuyler, 203 12th Street in Watkins Glen.

Proceeds from the event support The Arc of Schuyler, a local charitable organization providing supports to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism. For more information, call 607-535-6934 or visit

Photo in text: Don Stocum (Photo provided)

Advocates want Cuomo to provide funds for Arcs to offset minimum-wage hike

Special to the Odessa File

BIG FLATS, Jan. 13, 2017 -- As Governor Andrew Cuomo prepares to unveil his 2017-18 budget, about 100 advocates for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities gathered Thursday at the Arnot Mall to send the governor a message: be fair to direct care.

Representatives from The Arcs of Chemung, Schuyler, and Steuben, including direct support professionals (DSPs), self-advocates, and parents of people with disabilities rallied at the Arnot Mall Thursday in support of increased pay for DSPs, who work with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities on a daily basis.

Arc representatives were joined by State Sen. Tom O’Mara, R-Big Flats, and Assemblymen Chris Friend, R-Big Flats, and Phil Palmesano, R-Corning. All three legislators had previously expressed their support for additional funds in the 2017-18 budget for human-services agencies like Arcs that provide services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Their support included signed letters to the governor.

“Direct support professionals are the heart and soul of these organizations,” Palmesano said. “The work you do is truly God’s work. You need to light the governor’s switchboard like a Christmas tree. We are talking about the most vulnerable members of society.”

Arcs across New York State have joined with other human-service agencies in the #BFair2DirectCare campaign, asking the governor to include an additional $45 million per year in the next six budgets to offset the impact the increase in minimum wage will have on agencies that rely on government funding.

“Our system faces a work-force crisis, the likes of which we’ve never seen,” said Bernie Burns, executive director of the Arc of Steuben. “The system is in chaos, perhaps even on the verge of collapsing. When it fails, who will take care of the people with developmental disabilities? Forty-five million dollars is a small amount of money, but we need it. It’s the right thing to do.”

Jeannette Frank, executive director for the Arc of Schuyler, implored the governor to hear the pleas of his constituents.

“Governor Cuomo, we know that you know that New York needs a trained and skilled workforce to provide the highly individualized help and support people with disabilities need to stay healthy and have a meaningful life,” Frank said. “But nonprofits that hire and train staff to support people with disabilities cannot keep up with New York’s minimum wage increases without a revenue adjustment from the state. We need $45 million in this year’s budget to avert a looming staffing crisis.”

Those attending the rally were asked to contact Governor Cuomo to express their support for increased funding for direct support professionals by signing letters and postcards that will be sent to the governor. They were also asked to urge their friends, family members, and colleagues to contact the governor.

“We need to make sure we get the governor’s attention to put $45 million in his budget,” said Mike Doherty, executive director of The Arc of Chemung. “We need to continue to fight for this. If it is not in the budget coming out, then it needs to be put into the 30-day amendment.”

O’Mara said supporters should not stop at one letter or phone call.

“This is an issue I’m committed to fight for,” O’Mara said. “Write letters, send emails, and make phone calls. I urge you to do all three as soon as possible.”

The governor is expected to release his preliminary budget in the next two weeks. It will be followed by negotiations between Cuomo and the legislature that will result in a final budget for fiscal year 2017-18. The state budget deadline is April 1.

Perhaps the most moving testimony came from Marie Dean. Dean had lived in one of The Arc of Chemung’s residences, but through her own hard work and the mentoring of direct support professionals, Dean not only gained her independence by getting her own apartment in the community, but also by being hired as a direct support professional by The Arc of Chemung.

“(Direct support professionals) do not give up on people with disabilities, no matter what,” Dean said. “Without these people, I wouldn’t be on my own. They have made a huge impact by caring, and being our friends, and helping us learn that we can be independent and our differences don’t mean anything.”

Supporters who wish to contact the governor can email They can also show their support by calling (518) 474-8390 or by writing to The Honorable Andrew H. Cuomo, NYS State Capitol Building, Albany, 12224.

Photos in text:

Top: Arc of Chemung Executive Director Mike Doherty addresses about 100 supporters at a rally Thursday at the Arnot Mall. Associates of the Arcs of Chemung, Schuyler and Steuben, self-advocates and family members of people with developmental disabilities rallied to show their support for increased funding in the 2017-18 state budget for pay for direct support professionals.

Bottom: Self advocates and supporters display signs showing their support for increased pay for direct support professionals. The Arcs of Chemung, Schuyler and Steuben are among the agencies across the state that are participating in the #bFair2DirectCare campaign, which advocates for more money in the state budget for increased pay for direct support professionals. (Photos provided)

Arc's Canal Street home gets makeover

MONTOUR FALLS, Jan. 4, 2017 -- – Fans of the HGTV “Home Makeover” series are familiar with the excitement a family experiences leaving their home for a short time while construction crews complete an interior redesign to create a beautiful new space modified for the family’s comfort and enjoyment. That’s just the thrill that people living at The Arc of Schuyler-owned residence in Montour Falls will experience this January.

Through the support of the NYS Office for People with Development Disabilities and monies raised through fundraising efforts, the Canal Street home where 12 residents live will be converted from shared bedrooms to single bedrooms, giving people added privacy and comfort in a space they can call their own.

“It has been part of our long-range plan that our homes have private bedrooms,” Executive Director Jeannette Frank said. “Eighty percent of our residential options will have single bedrooms when this project is complete.”

Residents will enjoy a four-week retreat at Watson Homestead in Painted Post during the remodel. “The team at Watson Homestead has been wonderful to work with in preparing for this project. The people we support and the direct support professionals who assist them are looking forward to the changes at Canal Street and, in the meantime, people will definitely enjoy all that Watson Homestead has to offer,” Frank said.

Construction work is being completed by Elmira Structures, Inc. with design by Long & Associates Architects of Buffalo.

The Arc of Schuyler provides 24/7 supports for people with moderate to severe developmental disabilities, including autism, many of whom need medical and/or behavioral supports. Person-centered services are provided with family involvement encouraged to the extent possible. For more information about The Arc of Schuyler, a chapter of NYSARC, Inc. and an affiliate of The Arc of the U.S., visit or call 607-535.6934.

Photo in text: The Arc of Schuyler's Canal Street home in Montour Falls. (Photo provided)

The mural on the east side of the Masonic building along Main Street in Montour Falls.

Masonic report: How mural came to be

The following was prepared by Myrtle-Jefferson Lodge No. 131, relating to the history-themed mural that exists on the east exterior wall of its Masonic Temple in Montour Falls.

In the spring of 2016, the Lodge was approached by Cynthia Hill, president/founder of the New York Alliance for the Arts, asking permission to use the east outside wall of our Temple, overlooking the new village park, on which to paint a mural.

This was to be funded in part by a grant from the ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes with the remaining costs to be borne by local businesses and the Montour Falls community members.

She was invited to address the Lodge at a regular communication at which she gave a complete report on the scope of the mural and how it could come to fruition. The Lodge voted unanimously to proceed with the project with the understanding that it would be responsible for preparing the surface for the mural application.

Public forums were held providing community members and interested parties an opportunity to give input as to the subject matter of the mural with the understanding that it would be intended to illustrate the historical and modern day influences in the village of Montour Falls. The Lodge was provided the preliminary sketches of the mural to make certain that its content would meet its approval.

Ms. Hill then submitted the grant application for the project from the Arts Council of the Southern Finger Lakes, which was approved and funded.

In July the work began. Worshipful Darwin M. Terry, Jr. and Run-Rite Construction Company, using a scissor lift donated by Southern Finger Lakes Equipment, generously gave their time and labor to pressure wash the entire east wall. Bro. John Updyke and his wife, Krista, contacted Welliver McGuire, Inc., a full service construction firm, for technical advice regarding suitable surface preparation, after which Bro. Updyke donated his time and effort applying the recommended primer. A power paint sprayer was donated by Hilliard Corporation, and Welliver McGuire provided its scissor lift to facilitate completion of that task.

The actual mural was begun in August with involvement of local artists, youth, and interested adult volunteers. A youth day camp atmosphere was used at the site overseen by Cynthia Hill. By the end of the month the work was completed and has received positive comments from all parties thus far.

The Lodge met its financial and in-kind contributions by providing the work site, equipment, labor, water, electricity, and paint for the preparation work.

The mural background depicts the original Cook Academy Building constructed by Brother Charles Cook as the first Masonic orphanage in New York State. Cook was an early businessman and philanthropist in Havana, now Montour Falls. The site later became St. John’s Atonement Seminary, and today is the New York State Fire Academy

The windows contain scenes including Queen Catharine Montour, leader of Catharine’s Town and area Seneca Indian Villages, Eagle Cliff Falls in Havana Glen, packet boats on the Chemung Canal between 1833 and 1878, Havana Stoneware, the Montour Falls Train Station, Catharine Creek Steelhead Rainbow Trout, and the Shepard Niles Crane and Hoist Corporation.  A hoist is included in the latter, which was one of many very large and small custom built electric hoists manufactured in Montour Falls. The company was the largest such manufacturer in the U.S. and was a major employer of local residents during most of the twentieth century. Many of those employees were Freemasons.

Pictured on the front portico are Brother Charles Cook standing, and seated is Civil War Brigadier General John Mulford, who resided in Havana, and was the first Worshipful Master of Myrtle-Jefferson Lodge No. 131 F. & A. M,. chartered in 1860.

This fall the Lodge added gutters and ice retainers to the eaves to help protect the mural as well as the integrity of our Temple Building.

The mural adds considerable beauty to the village’s Main Street, and is a testimony to the important influence our Masonic Lodge and Masonry have had on the area during the last three centuries.

Photos in text: Closeups of portions of the mural on the Masonic's east wall.

Trying to kickstart the next chapter ...

Editor's note: The following is about a local artist (my son) and a project he has undertaken -- and for which he is seeking funding in order to continue and complete it. It is about "Phantom Hurricane," a Space opera in comic book form, and its future.

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Nov. 22 -- "Phantom Hurricane" is a Space Opera in comic book form -- about one woman, Velia the Tempest, who is lost in another galaxy with no memory of where she came from, or who she is, except for her own name.

Fighting a war alongside the races that make up the "Sentinel Eye" Fleet, she also searches for clues to her past. On the eve of their greatest victory, her past finds her, endangering the life she now knows, and the fates of others.

The author, Jon Haeffner of Odessa, has credits as a Comics Artist on Nicktoons' Alien Dawn, and as the colorist for several AMC TV webcomics including "Breaking Bad" and "Better Call Saul." After experience with television-related work, he's turned his sights on self-publishing this story of his own creation. Recognizing the disparity of representation in pop culture for women and minorities, the project was developed with feminism, racism, and other social issues in mind. 

The first chapter is available to read for free on, and the author has just launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the next chapter, and to print both chapters in a 48-page issue. He hopes to continue the story beyond that, too. The campaign can be found at: 

Art in text: One of the pages from "Phantom Hurricane."

From left: Veterans Day ceremony coordinator Tony Specchio; Boy Scouts raise the flag; Bernie Riley performs "Taps."

A day to honor our veterans

Calls made in Glen for respect and for understanding

WATKINS GLEN, Nov. 11, 2016 -- They gathered, 150 strong, in the cold wind of a raw November day Friday to honor our veterans.

The annual Veterans Day ceremony overseen by veteran Tony Specchio on the lawn fronting the Schuyler County Courthouse in Watkins Glen dodged some rain that struck the region earlier, but not the cold.

Not that it bothered the keynote speaker, retired Army Sgt. 1st Class John Antes, who had among his many stops seen service in Iraq.

"Sorry," he told the crowd, which was bundled in hoods and under blankets, "but this is the kind of weather I dreamed of while I was in Iraq, when it was 120-degree weather. I love this."

Antes -- who served 13 years in the Marine Corps and then 10 in the Army, and is now commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Dundee and one of the Schuyler County Veterans Service Officers -- was among several speakers. They included officials from veterans organizations as well as local politicians, such as Watkins Glen Mayor Sam Schimizzi and County Legislator Phil Barnes.

Barnes gave the speech that had the most passion, and accordingly drew the loudest applause.

"In this country where it was recently proven just this week that people want change," said Barnes, "it is as clear as the clouds in the sky that one of the things that needs immediate change is the lack of respect in the country, not only to the veterans, the current and future military forces, but to law enforcement and our emergency services. Respect begins at home and in the schools. It is obvious that respect is lacking and that today's parents and educational institutions are not doing a very good job teaching and instilling respect.

"There needs to be change," he added, "in the law and most importantly in the equal enforcement of the law to get control of the lawlessness and total disregard for our brave service providers, other persons' property, and most importantly the Flag of the United States. There should be increased penalties for those who intentionally destroy the Flag."

He also said it is "criminal the way that the Veterans Administration has been allowed to operate, and with this new change there is a beam of sun through these dark clouds that with change in Administration, the veterans will be once again respected and provided the services and medical attention that they so deserve."

Another of the speakers, Joan Scott of the Schuyler County Veterans Service Office, noted that there are 22 million living veterans. Of those men and women she serves, she said: "All gave some, some gave all, and some are still serving."

The keynote speaker, Antes -- who resides in the northwestern portion of the county after tours of duty that included Japan, South Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay (twice), and the Balkans as an intelligence specialist -- asked this question: What have veterans done exactly?

His answer: "Around the world, veterans have broken the shackle of tyranny, unleashed the chains of bondage, and emancipated entire nations from oppression. Veterans have lifted the cloak of darkness, oppression and desperation and replaced it with an inextinguishable light that is the spirit of freedom and liberty."

He said that when the day comes for such men and women to return home "after four years at a minimum and in some cases up to 20 years ... the integration home is a series of discoveries about things that are new, changed or gone. With many of us seeing combat multiple times and suffering from some level of PTSD, the smaller issues of relearning home can feel almost impossible.

"Reach out to these veterans," he said. "Help make them aware of the benefits of organizations that are out there to help them and their families. Also, don't be afraid to invite them to go hunting, fishing, or to a Legion or VFW event. They may say no to your first request for the present time, but don't forget to ask them again. Help them feel welcomed back home and as a part of the community.

"Today is their day --- today is our day -- to stand just a little bit taller and be recognized by a grateful nation that appreciates what the few have done for the many."

After the ceremony, the gathering adjourned to the Watkins Glen Fire Department, where food was served as part of the day's celebration.

Photos in text:

From top: Keynote speaker, retired Army Sgt. 1st Class John Antes; county Legislator Phil Barnes; a muzzle flash as part of the ceremony; and spectators bundled against the wind.

SFLW names Rhoads its Woman of Year

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Oct. 21 -- The Southern Finger Lakes Women (SFLW), a Chapter of New York State Women, Inc., has presented its Woman of the Year award to Lisa Rhoads of Burdett.

The Woman of the Year Award was designed to offer recognition to local women of achievement. It goes to a business and professional woman who has distinguished herself in her career and her community.

Lisa Rhoads graduated from Odessa-Montour High School in 1987, and in 1988 from the Southeastern Academy of Travel and Tourism. She has worked in the Sales Office at the Statler Hotel at Cornell University for more than 25 years as its Catering Sales Manager. On October 1st of this year, Rhoads became HR Assistant in a new department, Human Relations, at Cornell.

Rhoads has been a part of the Mary Kay makeup empire, and of the Burdett Fire Department as an EMT, and has held many roles with the Southern Finger Lakes Women. She has served as a chapter officer -- first as secretary, then president-elect, then president during 2012-13.  She has also served as chair of SFLW’s Issue Management Committee and co-chaired the Status of Women Committee. She currently serves as the SFLW Vice-President and chairs the Issue Management Committee. She has also served on the SFLW Youth Leadership Committee.

Rhoads is married to Bryan Rhoads, and they have two daughters -- Stephanie and Mikayla.  Both young women attend Lemoyne College.

New York State Women, Inc., provides members with professional development, networking, and career advancement resources. Its mission is to achieve equity for all women in the workplace through advocacy, education and information. The Southern Finger Lakes Women Chapter meets on the 3rd Monday of each month. For more information, contact Karen Stewart at (607) 535-6686.

Photo in text: Lisa Rhoads with her Woman of the Year award. (Photo provided)

Plaques of each inductee -- from left, Dutton S. Peterson, Anthony Specchio Sr. and William Wickham IV -- will be displayed with others in the county office building.

3 join Schuyler Hall of Fame

Seneca Lodge ceremony brings Hall membership to 44

WATKINS GLEN, Oct. 18, 2016 -- A large crowd of family and friends gathered Tuesday at Seneca Lodge for the induction of three men into the Schuyler County Hall of Fame.

The ceremony, emceed by Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce President Rebekah Carroll and featuring proclamations presented by Assemblyman Phil Palmesano and representatives from the offices of Congressman Tom Reed (Sharon Murphy) and State Senator Tom O'Mara (Sharon Sitrin-Moore), brought to 44 the number of Hall members.

The newest inductees are Anthony "Tony" Specchio Sr., the late State Senator Dutton S. Peterson and the late William "Bill" Wickham IV. Sizable contingents were on hand from each inductee's family.

Peterson's award was presented to his son Richard, who grew up on the family farm in Cayutaville and graduated from Odessa Central School "before we let Montour in." He said it has been 52 years since his father -- a state Assemblyman and State Senator, a U.S. Marine veteran and a minister -- passed away. Fighting back emotion, he said that for his father "to be inducted after 52 years is quite an accomplishment" and speaks well of how he is remembered. The library in Odessa has long been named after the honoree.

Specchio was introduced by Brian J. O'Donnell, who -- Carroll pointed out -- was the driving force in the establishment of the Hall of Fame. O'Donnell praised Specchio -- "a gentle man, a good man I'm proud to call my friend" -- for his selfless love of helping others in a life that has included military service in the Korean War, government service on different levels, chairing the Schuyler County Soil & Water District, and organizing dozens of Veterans Day and Memorial Day ceremonies at the county courthouse.

Specchio, when he stepped to the podium, had everyone turn toward the flag hanging near the lodge fireplace and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. He then said his purpose in life has been "to give back to my country," and that he has been "very fotrunate to live in the greatest country in the world." He introduced those of his children on hand, along with a couple of his grandchildren.

Wickham's induction was preceded by remarks by his sons Lindsay and Will, who recounted stories about their father, who Lindsay said was "stern" with his children in order to instill in them a work ethic, but was also "kind and gentle" and "an absolutely amazing man." The honoree -- an Air Force veteran, founding and board member of the New York State Wine Grape Growers, a force in the Valois-Logan-Hector Fire Department, longtime "Voice of the Hector Fair," a School Board member, and a member of the boards of many organizations -- was also lauded by son Will, who said his father had a love of music (playing the accordion), saved lives as a firefighter and EMT, enjoyed "the fun that can be had in life," and was devoted to his family, his community and his country.

This marked the ninth induction ceremony, the first having come in 1995. The total number of members is now 44, of which 39 are men. This was the first induction in three years and the second since 2009.

The Hall membership:

Under joint sponsorship through Schuyler County and the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce, the Hall of Fame was established in 1995 to honor individuals who:

-- are or have been residents of Schuyler County;
-- have distinguished themselves and in doing so, brought reflected prestige and honor to Schuyler County; and…
-- have been actively involved in their field of endeavor for a significant number of years in Schuyler County.

The members of the Hall and their years of induction:

1995: Cameron Argetsinger, Harlow J. Bailey, Donald Brubaker Sr., Warren W. Clute, Dr. Robert Michel, Dr. Lloyd N. Peak, Louise Stillman and Don J. Wickham.

1996: Irving D. Goodrich Sr., William Ellison, Dr. Daniel L. Haley, Howard A. Hanlon, Gilbert H. Hillerman, Dr. James Norton and Dr. William F. Tague.

1997: John A. Beers, Barbara Bell, Stewart Coats, D. Lloyd Cotton, Maurice Dean, Michael Maloney, Anthony Pulos, William Simiele and Charles "Monty" Stamp.

2000: Dr. Francis Ward, Mark Martin, Dr. Thomas (Jack) Love and Joseph Hoffman.

2007: Walter D. Hoffman, Jean Argetsinger, Patricia Suits Ellison and Philip Smith.

2008: Kenneth J. Wilson, James E. Wilson and Arthur H. Richards

2009: Judge John Callanan, James Howell and Max Neal

2013: William Peters, Nick Anagnost and William Elkins

2016: Dutton S. Peterson, Tony Specchio and William "Bill" Wickham IV.

Photos in text:

From top: Inductee Tony Specchio; Richard Peterson, son of inductee Dutton S. Peterson; county legislator Carl Blowers, left, with inductee Tony Specchio; Lindsay Wickham and Will Wickham, sons of inductee William "Bill" Wickham IV.

From left: Brian O'Donnell, who introduced inductee Tony Specchio; emcee Rebekah Carroll, and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano.

Berns, standing second from left, with the Arc of Schuyler Board of Directors. He is flanked by Harold J. Hoffmeier, Jr., left, and Michael Stamp. Front, from left, are Marcia Kasprzyk, Jeannette Frank (Executive Director), Nan Woodworth-Shaw, and Larry Tanner. (Photo provided)

Leader of National Arc visits Watkins

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Oct. 12 -- The Arc of the U.S. Chief Executive Officer, Peter Berns, visited The Arc of Schuyler on Monday, October 10 to learn more about the agency’s programs, services, and supports for people with developmental disabilities.

The visit included meetings with The Arc of Schuyler’s staff and board of directors to discuss the services offered in Schuyler County and the issues that Arc chapters in New York State are facing as models for providing services undergo significant change.

"The Arc of Schuyler is being creative in their planning to offer people with developmental disabilities services that are person-centered and inclusive," said Berns. "Rural communities like Schuyler need these services.”

Berns was also introduced to Watkins Glen International’s Marketing and Community Relations Manager, Tyler Hoke. 

Watkins Glen International is among 13 premier motorsports entertainment facilities in the U.S. owned by International Speedway Corporation, and The Arc of the U.S. is the largest national community-based organization in the developmental disability field with representation in nearly every state. The Arc of Schuyler is one of 700 local Arc chapters.

Berns and Arc of Schuyler staff thanked Watkins Glen International for their support of The Arc Grand Prix Run, a charity race for The Arc of Schuyler that will mark its fourth year on April 8, 2017. The event counted 800 people on race day in 2016 and has become a substantial fundraiser for the non-profit agency, according to The Arc of Schuyler’s Community Relations Director, Holly Baker. 

“The Arc is a valuable asset to Schuyler County and we will continue to help this event grow as it is a great way to kick off our 2017 Opening Weekend celebrations,” Hoke said.

For more information about Watkins Glen International, visit Visit for more about The Arc of Schuyler.

Photo in text: From left: Tyler Hoke (Watkins Glen International), Steven Spina (Residence Manager, The Arc of Schuyler), Peter Berns, and Jeannette Frank (Executive Director, Arc of Schuyler) at Watkins Glen International. (Photo provided)

Saks, Wilkens team up for primary care

MONTOUR FALLS, Sept. 28 -- Ben Saks, DO, and Jenna Wilkens, PA, are teaming up to provide comprehensive primary care for patients in and around Schuyler County.

Saks and Wilkens are combining their practices, seeing patients for acute and chronic health issues, routine follow-up care, diabetes management, women’s health -- including Hormone Replacement Therapy -- and more.

“Working together with Jenna rounds out the services our practice is able to offer, and also gives our patients more accessibility to both of us and more options for conditions we can assist with,” said Dr. Ben Saks. 

Practicing at Schuyler Hospital since July 2011, Saks received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology from the University of Scranton; his Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program Certificate and Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Saks is a native of Schuyler County.

Practicing at Schuyler Hospital since October 2014, Wilkens earned her Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies from SUNY Upstate in Syracuse, NY, and has worked at both Cayuga Medical Center and Arnot Ogden Medical Center. Wilkens specializes in women’s health issues. She also a native of Schuyler County.

Photo in text: Dr. Ben Saks (File photo)

3 men joining Schuyler Hall

Tony Specchio, Dutton Peterson, Bill Wickham will lift membership to 44

WATKINS GLEN, Sept. 21, 2016 -- After a hiatus of three years, the Schuyler County Hall of Fame has announced the selection of three new members to be inducted into the Hall on Tuesday, October 18 at Seneca Lodge.

After reviewing a number of nominations from the community, the selection committee has picked Tony Specchio and the late Dutton S. Peterson and William "Bill" Wickham IV for their contributions to Schuyler County.

Their inductions will bring to 44 the number of honorees in the Hall, dating back to the inaugural Class of 1995. Plaques honoring Hall of Fame members can be found on the walls of the first floor hallway in the County Office Building.

The induction ceremony will be from 5-7 p.m. Light snacks and hors d’oeuvres will be provided. A cash bar will also be available. To RSVP, contact Cassandra Putman at the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce at 607-535-4300 or email by October 14.

Dutton S. Peterson

-- NYS Assemblyman from 1937-1942 and NYS Senator from 1952-1964. Recognized as the only ordained minister to ever have served simultaneously in the Senate.

--Decorated U.S Marine hero, receiving a Purple Heart and a battlefield commission from Corporal to Lieutenant.

--Graduated from the Binghamton Bible Training School (Class President), Kings School of Oratory (Class President), Ohio Wesleyan University, and the Boston University School of Theology (Phi Betta Kappa and Delta Sigma Rho honors).

--Served as a Methodist minister for 35 years, with four congregations, in conjunction with serving as NYS Senator. Served as president of the NYS Council of Churches.

--Active in resettling refugees in this country following World War II. A total of 144 displaced persons were housed at the Peterson farm outside Odessa.

--In 1950, he was sent to visit Germany, Italy, and Austria as a representative of the National Council of Churches and the International Refugee Organization of the United Nations.

--Remembered as a strong and sturdy friend, always willing to lend a hand to anyone; honest, upright, and courageous as a pastor and as a legislator; energetic and willing; a man of prayer and practice in the Christian way, devoted to his Master and Lord. He died in 1964.

Anthony J. “Tony” Specchio, Sr. 

--In 2014, Tony was inducted into the NYS Veterans Hall of Fame.

--In 2013, he was the recipient of the Watkins Montour Rotary Club’s Paul Harris Fellow.

--Tony has provided a lifetime of service to our community, including his service with the U.S. Army during the Korean War as well as witnessing the 7th detonation of the atomic bomb at Camp Desert Rock (NV).

--Tony has served the community as follows: Chairman of Schuyler County’s Soil & Water District (since 1978); Veterans Service Representative for BPOE (Elks) Lodge #1546 (since 1980); Deputy Representative at the Bath VA (since 1990); Adjutant for the American Legion Post 555; member of the Watkins Glen Fire Department; Town of Reading Supervisor; Schuyler County Legislator; and Village of Watkins Glen Superintendent.

--Tony has organized countless Memorial and Veterans Day events to commemorate veterans, and continues to do so.  

William (“Bill”) Wickham IV

--Lifelong resident, 7th generation farmer, and direct descendant of 1st non-native settler William Wickham I, all of Hector. Father to 6 children, all active in the community.

--Founding member and Board of the New York State Wine Grape Growers, Board of Directors of Welch’s, Farm Bureau, New York Grape Research Fund; Cornell graduate.

--As part of the Watkins Glen Squires Drum & Bugle Corps: Corps Director, chaperone, mechanic, mentor, and figurative father to hundreds of youths.

--Longtime Committee Chair for Cub Scout Pack 52 and Boy Scout Troop 52 out of Burdett that included all 4 of his boys.

--U.S Air Force veteran.

--Past Chief, member, and EMT of the Valois-Logan-Hector Fire Department; longtime “Voice of the Hector Fair."

--Lifelong member and elder of Hector Presbyterian Church. Died in 2009 at age 80.

--Member and held various offices of Watkins Glen School Board, Elks, Masons, Lions, Grange, Schuyler Republican Committee, and NYS Water Resource Commission.

The Hall membership:

Under joint sponsorship through Schuyler County and the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce, the Hall of Fame was established in 1995 to honor individuals who:

-- are or have been residents of Schuyler County;
-- have distinguished themselves and in doing so, brought reflected prestige and honor to Schuyler County; and…
-- have been actively involved in their field of endeavor for a significant number of years in Schuyler County.

The members of the Hall and their years of induction:

1995: Cameron Argetsinger, Harlow J. Bailey, Donald Brubaker Sr., Warren W. Clute, Dr. Robert Michel, Dr. Lloyd N. Peak, Louise Stillman and Don J. Wickham.

1996: Irving D. Goodrich Sr., William Ellison, Dr. Daniel L. Haley, Howard A. Hanlon, Gilbert H. Hillerman, Dr. James Norton and Dr. William F. Tague.

1997: John A. Beers, Barbara Bell, Stewart Coats, D. Lloyd Cotton, Maurice Dean, Michael Maloney, Anthony Pulos, William Simiele and Charles "Monty" Stamp.

2000: Dr. Francis Ward, Mark Martin, Dr. Thomas (Jack) Love and Joseph Hoffman.

2007: Walter D. Hoffman, Jean Argetsinger, Patricia Suits Ellison, Philip Smith.

2008: Kenneth J. Wilson, James E. Wilson, Arthur H. Richards

2009: Judge John Callanan, James Howell, Max Neal

2013: William Peters, Nick Anagnost, William Elkins

2016: Dutton S. Peterson, Tony Specchio, William "Bill" Wickham IV.

Schuyler meth trial ends in guilty verdict

WATKINS GLEN, Sept. 16 -- An Odessa-area man was found guilty by a Schuyler County Court jury Thursday in a methamphetamine case that started with a domestic dispute.

Eric J. Storm, 44 (pictured at right), who rented a house on County Route 14 near Catharine Corners with co-tenant Robert Stevens until the March 16, 2016 incident, was found guilty of Unlawful Manufacture of Methamphetamine, Third Degree (a Class D felony) and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance, Seventh Degree (a Class A Misdemeanor).

Chief Assistant District Attorney Matthew C. Hayden prosecuted the trial over a four-day period.

According to the DA's office:

"The case came about as a result of the defendant calling 911 on March 16, 2016 due to a fight he was having with his co-tenant Robert Stevens, whereby he was complaining that Stevens was damaging property in the home they rented on County Route 14 in the Town of Catharine. Law enforcement arrived at the house to investigate the complaint and began inspecting the damage inside the home, and upon being let into the home Schuyler County Sheriff's Department Deputy Andrew Yessman observed items in the home that were consistent with the manufacturing of methamphetamine. Law enforcement secured both the defendant and Mr. Stevens, and applied for a search warrant to search the entire home.

"Schuyler County Sheriff's Investigator Matthew Maloney obtained a search warrant, and the New York State Police Contaminated Crime Scene Emergency Response Team (CCSERT) responded to safely investigate. Upon searching the home, laboratory equipment, pseudoephedrine, solvents, and chemical reagents were found, all of which are items used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine. In the defendant's bedroom, a digital scale was found, and in his top dresser drawer Lithium Batteries (chemical reagent) and 1.5 grams of methamphetamine were located.

"Co-defendant Stevens (pictured at right) pled guilty to the Unlawful Manufacture of Methamphetamine 3rd on July 14, 2016, at which time he acknowledged co-defendant Storm's knowledge and participation in the Unlawful Manufacture of Methamphetamine. Stevens did not receive the benefit of a plea bargain, and Schuyler County Court sentenced him to 1.5 years in prison with one-year post-release supervision on July 21, 2016. At trial, Storm called Stevens as a witness, and Stevens testified that he was the only one who possessed the meth manufacturing materials, and that Storm was unaware that the items found in their home were being used for manufacturing methamphetamine.

"The jury deliberated for just over two hours before rendering a verdict of guilty on both counts against Storm. The defendant will be sentenced as a second felony offender and faces a potential maximum sentence of four years in state prison with two years post-release supervision."

Photos in text: Eric J. Storm (top) and Robert Stevens (File photos)

Adam Zimmer receives Masters degree

Special to The Odessa File

AMHERST, Mass., Aug. 5, 2106 -- Adam Zimmer received a Masters of Arts degree in Anthropology from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst campus on June 5, 2016.

Zimmer’s thesis was titled "More Than the Sum Total of Their Parts: Restoring Identity by Recombining a Skeletal Collection with its Texts." It involved him traveling to the Smithsonian Institute in 2015 and 2016 to examine more than 200 human skeletons. He is now working toward his Ph.D. in biocultural anthropology, also at UMass-Amherst.

Zimmer graduated as valedictorian from Odessa-Montour High School in 2009 and graduated from Ithaca College in 2013 with a B.A. dual degree, magna cum laude, in Music and Anthropology.

Photo in text: Adam Zimmer, in a photo snapped at the field school where he teaches other students each summer at UMass. The course is called "The UMass-Amherst Bioarchaeology & Forensic Anthropology Field School.” (Photo provided)

Moves, countermoves take center stage in Hansen case

SCHUYLER COUNTY, July 14, 2016 -- In the midst of summer and tourism and boating and vacations, the conflict between the Watkins Glen School District and district resident Kristina Hansen is on the back burner. Right?

Not quite.

Legal moves have been made by both sides in the wake of a ruling June 9 by Watkins Glen Village Justice Connie Fern Miller that sided with Hansen in dismissing a misdemeanor charge of trespass lodged in regards to Hansen’s arrest March 21 while trying to enter a Watkins Glen School Board meeting.

A lawsuit had already been announced by Hansen’s attorney, Ray Schlather, over that arrest, for which charges have actually been dropped twice -- once for an insufficient information, and the second time because, Miller said on June 9, School Superintendent Tom Phillips, backed by School Board President Kelly McCarthy, had overstepped his authority.

But the Special Prosecutor in the case, Seneca County District Attorney Barry Porsch, has filed a Notice of Appeal of that ruling with the Schuyler County Court, as well as a Notice of Appeal relating to a Hansen arrest on May 4 while she was attending a school tennis match on school grounds.

But Hansen, through Schlather, has countered that latter Notice of Appeal with two more Notices of Claim -- both announcing another lawsuit relating to the tennis-court arrest. Instead of naming Phillips and McCarthy this time, the first of the two notices names the Watkins Glen High School principal, Kai D’Alleva, and then-Athletic Manager Erich Kramer, both present at the time of the arrest. But it also names a "John and/or Jane Doe," apparently to cover anyone else involved in the incident.

The arresting officer, Jordan Walrath, was cited in the second Notice of Claim, along with the Village Police Department and Village of Watkins Glen. The village and police department were also named in the first lawsuit.

The County Court office explained that appeals filed with it from lower court rulings do not follow a specific timetable -- as long as the appeals are filed within 30 days of whatever ruling they are appealing. Both appeals here were filed inside the 30-day limit. A question, unanswered, is why Justice Miller’s ruling of May 19 dismissing the May 4 charge on procedural grounds, without prejudice, would be moved directly to county court, since it could have been refiled properly in village court. One speculation: the school district might have wanted a different judge in light of the June 9 ruling by Miller exonerating Hansen.

The appeals, if pursued, will ostensibly find themselves before Schuyler County Judge Dennis Morris, unless he were to recuse himself for any perceived conflict of interest. None is plainly evident, although Phillips criticized a Morris ruling in another case -- finding a former school teacher not guilty of weapon possession in a situation involving a student taking a stun gun, provided by the teacher, onto a school bus -- as showing "a level of judicial incompetence" that was "inexcusable."

Thus far we have the following timeline:

March 11: Hansen is escorted by police from the Watkins Glen High School when she tries to attend a State of the District address by Phillips. The address was to staff, with four School Board members present, constituting a quorum and making the meeting, Justice Miller ruled, open to the public and to Hansen.

Soon afterward: A ruling is issued by Phillips banning Hansen from school or district buildings unless she has prior written approval from him to be there.

March 21: Hansen is confronted by Phillips and arrested by village police officers on a school walkway when she tries to attend a School Board meeting, open to the public.

April 7: Justice Miller dismisses the violation trespass charge “without prejudice,” meaning another charge could be filed more pertinent to the case.

April 15: Hansen, through her attorney, Ray Schlather, announces Notices of Claim for lawsuits against the school district, Phillips and McCarthy, and against the Village Police Department, the arresting officers -- Jamie Coleman and Isaac Marmor -- and the Village of Watkins Glen.

April 28: With the initial charge dismissed on April 7 "without prejudice” by Miller, a second, stiffer misdemeanor charge is lodged against Hansen, who submits to arrest and, for the second time, is processed and released. A motion to dismiss the same day by her attorney, Schlather, is put on hold by Miller to allow the Special Prosecutor in the case, Porsch, to respond.

May 4: Hansen attends a tennis match on school grounds, and is arrested there for trespass, another misdemeanor charge. She is processed and released.

May 19: Porsch responds to the motion to dismiss stemming from the March 21 arrest and issued by Schlather on April 28, and Miller takes the matter under advisement. She also dismisses “without prejudice” the charge of trespass lodged May 4 at the tennis court, citing insufficient information.

June 9: Miller issues a 12-page ruling dismissing the trespass charge against Hansen from April 28, holding that Phillips’ edict banning Hansen was “not lawful ... in the manner of its issuance, its basis, purpose, scope or implementation.”

June 16: Porsch files Notice of Appeals in County Court on both the June 9 ruling and the May 19 dismissal of the tennis-court charge.

June 20: Phillips’ contract is renewed by the Watkins Glen School Board, with a salary in the coming year of $158,000, and $162,000 the year after. Phillips talks about retirement, saying he will be 55 in October 2017 and “Provided my life situation doesn’t change, I will end my career sometime in that school year.”

July 5: Hansen signs a Notice of Claim announcing another lawsuit against the school district, the principal, the athletic manager, and a John or Jane Doe over the May 4 arrest at the tennis courts, and another Notice of Claim against the arresting officer, Walrath, along with the Village Police Department and Village of Watkins Glen.

July 5: McCarthy is unanimously re-elected as School Board president.

The wild card in all of this is insurance, which covers public officials such as the superintendent, other administrators and School Board members. If an insurance settlement is reached -- it has been suggested as being pro forma by a local insurance official contacted about the issue -- the matter will likely be surrounded by confidentiality, such a blanket being common. In such a circumstance, the amount of information available to the public would likely be limited.

There is no official word on whether such insurance negotiations might have begun, or will be held.

Photos in text:

From top: Kristina Hansen with her attorney, Ray Schlather; Hansen being arrested on May 4 at a WGHS tennis meet; Superintendent Tom Phillips; and Schlather talking to the media.

Bob & Doris DeNardo to mark 60 years

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, June 25, 2016 -- Bob and Doris DeNardo of Watkins Glen are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary on July 7, 2016.

He retired from the Watkins Glen State Park and she retired from the Watkins Glen Central School District.

They have three children: Mike (Betty), Tony (Mary Ellen), and Donna, along with five grandchildren: Daniel, Patti, Joe, Braeden and Haley.

They will vacation and celebrate in the Adirondacks.


Photo at right: Bob and Doris DeNardo (Photo provided)

Rigden named SFLW's Woman of Year

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, June 22, 2016 -- The Southern Finger Lakes Women (SFLW), a Chapter of New York State Women, Inc., presented its annual “Woman of the Year” award Monday to Sally Rigden of Watkins Glen.

The Woman of the Year Award was designed to offer recognition to local women of achievement. It goes to a business and professional woman who has distinguished herself in her career and her community.

Rigden graduated from Monroe Community College and SUNY Brockport with a degree in finance. She is a former and current officer of Southern Finger Lakes Women, serving as president, secretary and treasurer. She is on the Education Committee and has been involved in the Christmas family project, the homeless needy family project, the Falls Home Project, Chicken Barbeque, and the Christmas Committee.

Rigden worked as the Administrative Assistant to the CFO for Strong Memorial Hospital at the University of Rochester until 1998. She then moved to the Southern Tier and worked in the office of Sponsored Funds Accounting at Cornell. At that time, she and her husband, Martin, opened their first Bed & Breakfast in Millport. In 2005, she and her husband purchased another B&B, the Marmalade Cat in Watkins Glen. Now in her 18th year in the B&B business, she has been host to guests from all over the world, from all occupations and backgrounds.

Rigden has three children: Teri, who lives in Syracuse; Amy, who lives in Rochester; and Warren, who lives in Elmira. A stepdaughter resides in England. Rigden has eight grandchildren.

New York State Women, Inc., provides members with professional development, networking, and career advancement resources. Its mission is to achieve equity for all women in the workplace through advocacy, education and information. The Southern Finger Lakes Women Chapter meets on the third Monday of each month. For more information, contact Karen Stewart at (607) 535-6686.

Youth Court members pose with their recognition certificates. (Photo provided)

Youth Bureau holds recognition ceremony

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, June 10, 2016 -- The Schuyler County Youth Bureau recently held its annual recognition ceremony at the Human Services Complex in Montour Falls.

The ceremony recognizes not only the youth who participate in the bureau’s year-round programs but also the various agencies and community members who provide input and direction to the department's programs.

Also recognized during the event with the Youth Bureau’s Community Builder award was Father Michael Hartney. Youth Bureau Director JoAnn Fratarcangelo spoke about the many programs and groups Father Hartney has been involved with over the years and highlighted his time spent as a Youth Board member.

Other special presentations included the swearing-in of three new Youth Court members by Town of Reading Justice Raymond Berry, and the presentation of senior graduation awards to Ashton Furney and Mechel Wead from the Odessa-Montour Central School.

Recognized Youth members: Karissa Rounds, Ashton Furney, Mechel Wead, Diana LaFever, Kaitlyn Valla, Emilee Chaffinch, Maddy Vogel, Amber Benjamin, Amber Updike, and Meghan Hayes.

Recognized Community/Agency members: Adam Lawton, Amber Benjamin, Amy Papandrea, Andrew Yessman, Barb Halpin, Carol English, Chris Burns, Chris Rosno, Christin Bresett, Danielle M. Tilden, Debbie MacDonald, Deborah Dalmat, Donna Tilden, Gretchen Silliman, JoAnn Fratarcangelo, Kai D'Alleva, Kaitlyn Valla, Kristine Somerville, Linda MacDonald, Lisa Harer, Mary Wilson, Melissa Schroeder, Nan Woodworth-Shaw, Ray Berry, Rod Weeden, Ron Alexander, and Tammy Munroe.

Runners start fast at the beginning of the Live Like Liz 5K race.

A gathering of runners ... and a time of love & determination

WATKINS GLEN, June 5, 2016 -- The Live Like Liz race is always more than that. It is a gathering to remember a young woman of fun, and love, and determination. And it is a celebration of her life, and a vow to overtake the disease -- ovarian cancer -- that claimed her life.

Sunday, the 11th annual Live Like Liz 5K race and Fun Walk was held at Watkins Glen High School and on the Catharine Valley Trail -- and for the record the winner was an 8th grader, Gabe Planty, who is a talented distance runner on the WGHS track team. He blasted out fast, pulled away from his brother Aaron, and finished in 17:16.93, clear of his brother, the runner-up, by almost two minutes.

And for the record, the first woman to cross the line was the third person finishing overall -- Elissa Manwaring of Millport, who posted a time of 21:09.66.

But before the race, there was a charming kids' race, and before that a gathering in the WGHS Field House gym, where music was provided by Uncle Joe and the Rosebud Ramblers, and a keynote speech was provided by retiring Watkins school teacher Marie Fitzsimmons, who taught track for years and knew Liz Amisano well. And there was the presentation of the annual Spirit of Liz Award to a very surprised Marie Fitzsimmons.

"We are here to share our love," the honoree said in her keynote, "and also because Liz's family had a vision" of a 5K race that would bring the community together "and show the human spirit" and a determination to bring an end to ovarian cancer. And in the effort, she said, "we keep the spirit of Liz alive in our hearts."

The day was also one of giving -- including scholarships of $1,500 each to two WGHS seniors who personify the love of life and drive that Liz Amisano possessed. The scholarship honorees were Brooke Shaffer and Megan Hoy.

Checks were also distributed: $1,500 to the Falck Cancer Center, and $1,000 each to the Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes and the Cancer Wellness Connections of Rochester.

After those presentations, out on the course, some kids ran, and then 122 runners were either challenging themselves or walking the scenic course, and Gabe Planty was winning, and Elissa Manwaring was leading the women. And when that was all said and done, participants returned to the gym, protected from what turned into a rainstorm outside, and watched as awards were presented.

There were male and female awards for kids 9 and under, 10-14, 15-19 (the aforementioned Shaffer won there), 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, and 70-99. Among locally familiar names, WGHS grad Ben Bloodgood won among 20-29 Males, Watkins teacher Barb Coon won among 60-69 Females, and WGHS retiree Lucy Soper led the 70-99 Females.


Photos in text:

Top: Gabe Planty crosses the finish line first, well ahead of the rest of the field.

Second: Elissa Manwaring completes her run, winning the women's title.

Third: Alyssa Hoobler, a track coach at WGHS, hits her stride shortly after the race began.

Bottom: Scholarship award winners were Brooke Shaffer, left, and Megan Hoy. Each received a $1,500 scholarship.

Left: Odessa-Montour grads Autumn Taylor, left, and Nina Linton cross the finish line together. Right: Members of the Paulisczak family -- from left, Delaney, 11; Emelia, 16; and dad Jason -- all ran and completed the race.

A line of runners -- including out-of-state visitor and WGHS alum Courtney Warren, right -- are shown shortly after the start of the Live Like Liz 5K race.

Left: Live Like Liz's president, Margaret Mary Amisano (Liz's sister) presents the Spirit of Liz Award to Marie Fitzsimmons. Right: Amisano presents a $1,500 check to Greg Denman, director of the Falck Cancer Center.

Runners check out their official race results when times were posted in the Field House.

Music in the Field House gym was provided by Uncle Joe and the Rosebud Ramblers.

Tony Specchio, right, led the ceremony at the Naval Memorial near the Seneca Harbor Pier.

Schuyler's Memorial Day services honor fallen heroes

SCHUYLER COUNTY, May 30, 2016 -- Four ceremonies were held Monday around Schuyler County to commemorate America's war dead on Memorial Day.

The gatherings -- at Shequagah Falls Park in Montour Falls, at the Naval Memorial near the Seneca Harbor Pier, at the County Courthouse in Watkins Glen, and at the Schuyler County Veterans Memorial Park outside Odessa -- turned attention to the tens of thousands of soldiers and sailors who have given their lives in the defense of freedom, and in a couple of cases to specific individuals who defended it.

The round of ceremonies started at the Montour park fronting the falls, where an American Legion Honor Guard, the Odessa-Montour High School Band, bagpiper Tom Leslie, a rendition of the National Anthem by Tricia Post, and an echoed performance of "Taps" by O-M's Noah Brewster and Colin Marsh were featured along with speeches and prayers.

Keynote speaker was Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, who said that on this, the first holiday of summer, we "should pause and reflect on the sacrifice of those" who have paid with their lives so that freedom might thrive -- those he called "our American heroes ... who are responsible for so much of America's freedom." He added that the day's honors "seem more urgent than those in recent memory" as we live in the shadow of the 9/11 attacks almost 15 years ago, and face the continuing threat of terrorism.

As we remember those who sacrificed, he said, we should recognize that our "freedom comes with an obligation of good citizenship and responsibility."

The ceremony at the Naval Memorial in Watkins Glen saw no speeches, but there was a prayer, "Taps" by trumpeter Bernie Riley, the tossing of flowers into Seneca Lake (in honor of fallen naval heroes) by Cherie Kennison, former president of the VFW Auxiliary in Watkins Glen, and volleys of ceremonial musketry.

A parade of scouts and a color guard, along with honorees, then marched south on Franklin Street from First Street to the Courthhouse, where a ceremony was held featuring various speeches. They included greetings from County Administrator Tim O'Hearn and Village Trustee Gary Schmidt and a keynote by retired Marine Colonel Louis Withiam of Ithaca. Bernie Riley once again played "Taps."

Withiam, who served in the Marines, mostly in the Reserves, from 1951 to 1981, dwelt on the significance of Memorial Day, and told in his speech about the sacrifice and bravery of a friend of his, Felix McCool, who was a Warrant Officer captured twice -- once in World War II, when he survived the notorious Bataan Death March, and once in the Korean conflict, when he was again a POW. He survived both experiences, passing away years later, in 1972.

The Watkins Glen ceremony, as well as that at the Naval Memorial, were overseen by veteran Tony Specchio, who has long been the voice and moving force behind both annual gatherings.

Up the hill, at the Memorial Park along Rt. 228 outside Odessa, a ceremony that attracted more than 160 people saw an Honor Guard, a Color Guard, the National Anthem by soloist Kim Laursen and the O-M Band, prayers, performances of "Hymn to the Fallen" and "Armed Forces on Parade" by the O-M Band, a Community Chorus singing "Battle Hymn of the Republic," and a keynote speech by retired Marine John Neal, a former teacher and current historian for Odessa American Legion Cole-Hansenberger-Deland Post 676.

Neal, who stressed that "freedom is not free," spoke at length about John George Hansenberger, one of the trio of men honored in the Post 676 name. Hansenberger was an Odessa boy, from a family on Pertl Road, who Neal said was "milking cows on their dairy farm in March of 1918, then reporting for duty at Fort Dix on April 2nd. On May 19, he boarded a ship" bound for France, where he joined more than a million men in the military advance that led to the Armistice in November.

But Hansenberger did not live to see the Armistice. He died in an early-morning bombardment in September, on one of two disputed dates: the 9th or the 26th. He was 24 years old.

In the days leading to his death, he wrote a letter home, expressing how thankful he was that he was there in France, in the midst of the war, instead of "my dear brother Fred," and that he had had a dream wherein he made it home only to find his family sleeping, and so went to the barn and slept in the hay until found and awakened the next morning by his father and Fred. He said he had seen some unforgettably disturbing things in battle, and wished "that I might be home someday to tell you about" them.

He closed with "good luck and best wishes to you all at my dear old home, Odessa." Days later, he was dead -- almost 98 years ago.

Neal closed with a reading of John Donne's For Whom the Bell Tolls, often called No Man is an Island. It reads in part:

Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

Photos in text:

From top: John Neal delivers his keynote address outside Odessa; Montour Falls keynote speaker Phil Palmesano; Watkins Glen keynoter Louis Withiam; the Hansenberger brick at the Schuyler County Veterans Memorial Park; part of the audience at the Courthouse, taking to the shade on an increasingly hot morning; and a member of that gathering, former Schuyler County Judge J.C. Argetsinger.

A Community Chorus sings "Battle Hymn of the Republic" at the Veterans Memorial Park.

The O-M Band played at the Montour Falls and Veterans Memorial Park ceremonies.

Tricia Post performs the National Anthem at Shequagah Falls.

Bernie Riley plays "Taps" at the Naval Memorial service.

Left: Bagpiper Tom Leslie plays "Amazing Grace" during the Montour Falls ceremony. Right: O-M band member Noah Brewster plays "Taps" at the Veterans Park gathering.

Cherie Kennison tosses flowers into Seneca Lake in honor of fallen naval heroes.

An American Legion Honor Guard fires one of its three volleys of musketry at the Veterans Memorial Park ceremony.

From left: Maria and Sal Purpura, and Pastor Ed Ross. (Photos provided)

Purpuras, Pastor Ross honored at dinner

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, May 23, 2016 -- The Schuyler County Mental Health Association held its annual dinner meeting on May 18.

Sal and Maria Purpura were recognized for operating a business (Jerlando's) that has hired community members with mental illness and disabilities to work for them.

Pastor Edward Ross of the Wesleyan Church of Odessa was honored for his selflessness in helping community members with mental illness and disabilities. A number of people stood at the dinner and told stories of how Pastor Ed had helped them.

Arc of Schuyler greets new board members

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, May 21, 2016 -- Members of The Arc of Schuyler, a nonprofit organization providing supports and services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, elected officers and board members at its annual meeting in May.

The Arc introduced two new board members. Jeff Greuber was elected to a three-year term ending in May 2019. Greuber is the owner of Finger Lakes Accounting and Tax Service in Odessa and is an active volunteer in the community, serving on other non-profit boards. Incumbents Matthew Hayden, Barbara Specchio and Larry Tanner were also elected to three-year terms ending in May 2019.

Nan Woodworth-Shaw, retiring this fall from Watkins Glen High School, was elected to a two-year board term ending in May 2018. She has served as the chairperson on the Watkins Glen School’s Committee on Special Education for many years and has also been involved on many community organizations in volunteer capacities.

Michael Stamp was elected president; Harold J. Hoffmeier, Jr. was elected vice-president; Michael DeNardo was elected treasurer, and Matthew Hayden was elected secretary.

More information about The Arc can be found in the organization’s 2015 annual report available at

Photos in text: Nan Woodworth Shaw and Jeff Greuber. (Photos provided)

From left: Odessa-Montour bowling team members Alex Grady, Carolyn Arias and Jackie Vincent, recognized for volunteering with The Arc. (Photo provided)

Arc of Schuyler honors its volunteers

Special to
The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, May 21, 2016 -- Recognizing volunteers and showcasing their efforts was central to the program at The Arc of Schuyler’s Annual Meeting on May 19 at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel.

Volunteers who support The Arc through board and advisory committees, events and other Arc programs were highlighted. President Michael Stamp thanked Barbara Frank for 23 years of dedicated volunteer service on The Arc’s board of directors. Frank served in leadership roles and provided input and oversight through various committees.

“She has been a strong advocate for people with developmental disabilities and we know that will continue. We will miss her on the board,” Stamp said.

Cynthia Hill, arts coordinator for Franklin Street Gallery, the community arts center operated by The Arc, spoke about the important role volunteers play in advancing the arts in Schuyler County. One of those volunteers, Warren Winner, talked about his role as a volunteer at the Gallery and encouraged others to get involved.

Director of Community Relations Holly Baker noted youth involvement and volunteer opportunities with The Arc. Odessa-Montour bowling team members Carolyn Arias, Alex Grady and Jackie Vincent were acknowledged for making The Arc’s bowling recreation program a great success in providing people with developmental disabilities inclusive opportunities in their community.

The program concluded with a presentation by Betsy Hoffmeier, the driving force behind The Arc’s new pet therapy program. Betsy volunteers twice a week with her certified therapy dogs Augie, Ripley and Knabe.

Other business included election of board officers and directors, welcoming new members Jeff Greuber of Odessa and Nan Woodworth-Shaw of Watkins Glen.

The Arc’s annual Direct Support Professional Excellence Award was presented to Tracy Andrews of Willard, NY. Andrews was recognized for her outstanding leadership, creativity, and dedication to providing quality supports to people with developmental disabilities.

“Our purpose tonight was to demonstrate that our volunteers are diverse, and whatever your passion or your experience, you can find your purpose at The Arc. We welcome people to explore opportunities to make a difference in people’s lives at The Arc,”said Board President Michael Stamp.

The Arc of Schuyler’s 2015 annual report is available now on the agency website, The Arc is a family-based, not-for-profit organization that provides residential, vocational, day support, job training, service coordination, advocacy and other support to people with developmental disabilities and their families. To make a donation and become a member, or for information about volunteering, visit or call 607-535-6934.

Photos in text:

Top: Barbara Frank, left, was recognized for 23 years of service on The Arc of Schuyler Board of Directors.
Middle: Gallery Coordinator Cynthia Hill, left, with Gallery volunteers Warren Winner and Nancy Cole.
Bottom: Tracy Andrews was recognized with the Direct Support Professional Excellence Award. (Photos provided)

Myers named Lou Sand Award recipient

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, May 13, 2016 -- Schuyler Hospital announced the recipient of the 2016 Lou Sand Award during the facility's annual Employee Recognition Dinner on May 11.

The honoree, Michele Myers, Director of Rehabilitation Services, received a total of 13 nominations for the award from coworkers.

Highlights from the nominations included:

-- “She is a role model to others.”
-- “She is the reason I work here; she is a bright star and deserves this recognition.”
-- “She encourages a team atmosphere that promotes a creative as well as productive work environment.”

-- “She is a leader that every department should have.”
-- “Amazing mentor.”
-- “She has shoveled icy sidewalks to help her patients get to and from their cars safely.”
-- “Committed to Schuyler Hospital, staff, and community.”

Myers thanked the hospital staff for the award, which she said was especially meaningful to her as she knew Sand both as a teacher and as a Hospital Board member.

Schuyler Hospital annually gives the award in memory of Lou Sand to an employee who demonstrates exemplary service to others, and whose compassionate commitment of service to their fellow employees, patients, residents and community brightens the lives of those they touch --traits exemplified by Lou Sand.

For more information, contact Schuyler Hospital at (607) 535-7121 or email

Photo in text: Michele Myers with hospital President Jim Watson. (Photo provided)

Schuyler Hospital recognizes 54 employees for 655 years of combined experience

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, May 13, 2016 -- Schuyler Hospital recognized employees for 5 to 45 years of service during its annual Employee Recognition Dinner on May 11.

In all, 54 employees were recognized for a total of 655 years of combined experience at the hospital and skilled nursing facility.

The highlight of the evening’s celebration -- held at Chateau LaFayette Reneau with Ithaca Bakery catering -- was the celebration of one 45-year employee: Ray Ergott, Maintenance Supervisor. Ergott not only helped build the current hospital in 1972, he has also seen it through a number of transformations over the years.

In presenting the years of service awards, Hospital President Jim Watson thanked everyone for their dedication to each other, as well as to patients and residents.

Celebrating 45 years: Ray Ergott
Celebrating 35 years: Deborah Zimmer
Celebrating 30 years: Terrie DeWitt, and Bruce Rosier
Celebrating 25 years: Buna Boor, Julie Byrnside, Michele Cunningham, and Lisa Howell
Celebrating 20 years: Melissa Allmaier, Connie Barrett, and Wendy Collins
Celebrating 15 years: Michelle Bouvier, Deborah Corsaro, Rebecca Gould, Amy Harndon, Melissa Norton, Nichole Richardson, and Faye Tuttle
Celebrating 10 years: Joseph Abbott, Carolyn Antoniw, John Christopher Burns, Izendra A. Farr, Heather Gallagher, Jill Gaylord, Stefanie Gublo, Deborah Holton, Jeanette Jackson, Sarah Kingsley, Kathleen McCauley, Kelly Miller, Jesse Rappleye, Esther Smith, and Sandy Townsand
Celebrating 5 years: Megan Aycock, William Barnett, Cory Bechtle Dresen, Joanne T. Belloma, Nathan Bellows, Barbara Brink, Amy Castle, Brenda Charbonneau, Keith Crout, Samantha Freeland, Samantha Hall, Susan Johnson, Mark L. Jones, Christine Keough, Therese A. Maynard, Susan M. O’Connell, Michelle Oestreich, Elizabeth Personius, Holly Pierce, Lisa Putman, Anita Stull, and Margaret Wood.

For more information or career opportunities, contact Schuyler Hospital at (607) 535-7121 or email

Photo in text: 45-year employee Ray Ergott, right, with hospital President Jim Watson. (Photo provided)

Odessa-Montour's Martens, the Schuyler County-winning Envirothon team. From left: Bryce Elliott, Rosie Peckham, Starr Cole, Maddie Lodge, and Logan Barrett.

O-M's Martens earn title

Schuyler County winner of Regional Envirothon

Special to The Odessa File

OWEGO, May 5, 2016 -- Odessa-Montour was the Schuyler County winner of the Regional Envirothon held at the Tioga County Sportsmen’s Association Center on Thursday, May 5.

The “Martens” team (Logan Barrett, Starr Cole, Rosie Peckham, Maddie Lodge, and Bryce Elliott) came in first out of seven teams for Schuyler County and were second overall out of the 26 teams competing from five counties: Schuyler, Chemung, Broome, Tioga and Tompkins County.

The O-M “Otters” (Luke Eberhardt, James Terry, Tyler Clark and Tony Humphries) came in third for the Schuyler teams, and seventh overall. One Odessa-Montour student, April Dunn, was on the winning team for Chemung County, the “Baffled Buffleheads’ of GST (Greater Southern Tier) BOCES. This team also came in third overall. Another O-M student, Kyle Frasier, was on the GST BOCES “Radical Raccoons” team that came in second for Chemung County.

The “Martens” will represent Schuyler County at the 27th NYS Envirothon at Hobart & William Smith Colleges on May 25 and 26, and the “Baffled Buffleheads” will represent Chemung County.

The Bradford “The Other Team” (Alex Wood, Katara Buckley, Destiny Decker, Allyson Calkins, and Dustin Rogers) were this year’s Schuyler County second place team, losing by a “nose” and were 4th overall out of the twenty six teams. Two other Schuyler County students, Kyle Reed and Kyle Jakob of Horseheads, were on the “Radical Raccoons” of (GST) BOCES.

This outdoor education event is organized by the Soil and Water Conservation Districts, which saw 33 Schuyler students involved in the Regional event this year. The Envirothon is an annual competition in which teams of high school students from across the region and then the state and ultimately, the nation put their knowledge and skills of natural resource science, public speaking, and civic engagement to the test. Students participate in a series of field station tests in the areas of soils/land use, aquatic ecology, forestry, wildlife, and an emerging environmental issue. The 2016 current environmental issue is “Invasive Species: A Challenge to the Environment, Economy and Society.”

The 2016 Envirothon was made possible through the contributions of sponsors and partnering agencies. Essential assistance is provided by the school science teachers, the school districts and also local businesses who donate funds for financial support. This year’s Schuyler County Envirothon sponsors, to date, are: Cotton-Hanlon Inc., Watkins Glen Elks Lodge #1546, Sawmill Creek Vineyards, Reisinger’s Apple Country LLC, Lakewood Vineyards Inc., Montour Falls Moose Lodge #426, David L. Sidle Insurance Agency, Specchio Ford, Schuyler County CCE- 4H Youth Development, Watkins Glen Veterinary Hospital, and the Watkins Glen Fire Company.

The Odessa-Montour teams are coached by high school science teacher Doug Chapman; the Bradford teams by science teacher Rebecca Schrader; and the BOCES teams by Don MacNaughton.

The Schuyler County Soil and Water Conservation District provides programs and services to help residents and communities manage and protect the natural resources of Schuyler County.

Photos in text:

Top: The Odessa-Montour Martens identifying trees at the Envirothon forestry station. Bob O’Brien of Cotton-Hanlon oversees the forestry station and writes the forestry exam.

Bottom: The Odessa-Montour Otters, third-place Envirothon team for Schuyler County. From left: James Terry, Tony Humphries, Luke Eberhardt, and Tyler Clark.

The O-M and Bradford Central School Envirothon participants. (Photos provided)

The ribbon is cut by, from left, driver Andy Lally, announcer Bob Varsha, driver Derek Bell, WGI President Michael Printup, State Senator Tom O'Mara and Corning Enterprises chief Tom Tranter, member of the Regional Economic Development Council.

Ribbon-cutting celebrates WGI track repave project

Drivers Lally, Bell on hand along with dignitaries

WATKINS GLEN, April 15, 2016 -- The months-long $11million repaving project at Watkins Glen International was celebrated Friday morning with speeches and a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the WGI track -- a highlight of Opening Weekend there.

Race-car drivers Derek Bell and Andy Lally -- who between them have notched 10 victories at the famed Glen track -- were special guests, providing speeches and memories of their successes there. The event was emceed by longtime motorsports announcer Bob Varsha, who also introduced track President Michael Printup, State Senator Tom O'Mara and Corning Enterprises President Tom Tranter -- all of whom provided remarks for the occasion.

Cars were also present from the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA), which took part in a ceremonial "first lap" around the 3.40-mile track, helping to christen the fresh surface, and later spent an hour on the track. Their track time was followed by activities of the daylong Toyota Green Grand Prix taking place in Watkins Glen and on regional roads. The Green Grand Prix is a celebration and practical example of alternative vehicle fuels.

Weekend track activities also were to include the annual Arc Grand Prix Run at 8 a.m. Saturday -- a 3.4-mile run or 1-mile walk to help raise funds for The Arc of Schuyler. The event in its first two years raised more than $20,000 for the not-for-profit organization that provides support to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Also on Saturday, and on Sunday, the track was to be open for the public to take personal vehicles on it, behind an official pace vehicle, for $25. The money raised benefits the Racing and Community Enrichment (RACE) Foundation, which will offer for sale t-shirts and pieces of the old racing surface.

The repaving project, begun late last summer, was partially funded (more than $2 million) as a Priority Project of the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council, of which Tranter is a member. He thanked Governor Andrew Cuomo for his leadership in establishing the Council.

It had been hoped that the governor would attend Friday's ceremony, but he couldn't. His lieutenant governor, Kathleen Hochul, was expected in his place, but also could not appear. The highest ranking state official present was O'Mara, who said the track "means a great deal to me and a great deal to the community."

Printup, in his eighth year as WGI president, said that although the governor didn't attend, "we know what he thinks" about the track and its importance to the Southern Tier and the state -- for the governor spearheaded the formation of the Regional Council that helped fund the repaving project. "We have gotten awesome cooperation," Printup added.

Derek Bell, best known for five victories in the LeMans 24-hour race, also won the World Sportscar Championship title twice (1985 and 1986), the 24 Hours of Daytona three times (1986, 1987 and 1989) and three straight six-hour races at WGI with race partner Al Holbert (in 1984, 1985 and 1986). He still races, at the age of 74, in historic events.

Andy Lally has won races in various race classes, and was the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year, but is best known for his road-racing expertise in the Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series (now known as the IMSA Weathertech Championship) and the American LeMans Series. He was a three-time Grand Am Rolex Series Champion and leads the all-time GT class win list there with 26 victories. He is also a world-class luge racer.

Both talked glowingly of the WGI track, Bell saying "it means a heck of a lot to me," and Lally saying that he was excited while driving a lap that morning on the track, noting it "is like a pool table. This," and he motioned to the crowd and the ceremony, "is the calm before the storm for 2016, and it's a pleasure to be a part of it."

On hand were representatives from the offices of Congressman Tom Reed and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, along with members of the Schuyler County Legislature, Watkins Glen Mayor Sam Schimizzi, County Administrator Tim O'Hearn, and Judy Cherry, executive director of the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development.

Photos in text: SVRA cars on hand for the ceremony; (from left) Andy Lally, Derek Bell and Michael Printup, with Bell responding to questions from emcee Bob Varsha; and Varsha after the speeches ended.

Members of area print and broadcast media were on hand for the ceremony.

The crash vehicle, a Ford Freestar, is loaded onto a wrecker on Route 13.

3 men airlifted after crash near Junction

Members of country singer Luke Bryan's stage crew were en route home

ALPINE JUNCTION, April 10, 2016 -- A vehicle carrying three members of country singer Luke Bryan's stage crew veered off State Rt. 13 north of Alpine Junction about 8:30 a.m. Sunday, went airborne, hit a tree, and came to rest on its side in a watery ditch 150 feet from where it left the road.

The three men, each about 30 years of age, sustained undesignated injuries in the crash, which occurred just north of Smith Road and within sight of Alpine Junction a half-mile away. They were airlifted to hospitals in Syracuse and Sayre. Two of them were brothers.

One of the injured was outside the vehicle when rescue workers from the Odessa Fire Department arrived on the scene. The other two men were trapped inside, and were freed after a Jaws of Life cutter peeled back the roof.

Ambulances were on the scene from the Schuyler, Erway and Bangs ambulance services, which transported the men to the parking lot behind the Dandy store at Alpine Junction. There, three helicopters -- one from LifeNet and two from Mercy Flight Central -- were utilized to airlift them to the hospitals.

One of the brothers was taken to Packer Hospital in Sayre. The other brother and the third man were taken to Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse. The decision to split destinations had nothing to do with injuries, said one fire official, but rather with a preference not to tax the Syracuse facility with all three emergencies. The men's names were not immediately available, and the severity of the injuries was not known.

The men, officials said, had been working Saturday night at a Bryan concert at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. They were part of the crew helping to rig the lights. At the time of the accident they were on the way home to West Virginia, one of the men told rescue workers. Bryan, currently on his Kill the Lights Tour 2016, is set to appear Tuesday night with other country stars for a Nashville-based All for the Hall benefit concert before resuming his tour in Toledo, Ohio on Thursday.

The vehicle, investigators said, was southbound on Rt. 13 when it left the road on the right and entered a ditch. From there it went airborne, clearing two driveways and striking a tree at the base of a roadside hill, coming to rest on its side, facing north and in standing water. The vehicle was a Ford Freestar minivan.

Debris -- including a side-view mirror, a boot, a tire and pieces of the vehicle's framing and glass -- was strewn about near the crash site.

On hand for the extrication of the two men were the Odessa Fire Department and the Newfield Heavy Rescue unit. The Montour Falls Fire Department set up the helicopter Landing Zone behind the Dandy store. A Schuyler County Sheriff's deputy was directing traffic at Alpine Junction, detouring traffic to a rural road that carried it north of the accident scene. Other law enforcement was north of the accident, detouring southbound traffic.

A fire official said State Police were conducting an investigation of the accident, but they had no information late Sunday.

Photos in text:

Top: The vehicle rests in a watery ditch, ready for the wrecker.
Middle: One of the three helicopters used to transport the injured men to hospitals in Syracuse and Sayre.
Bottom: Firefighter Aubrey Tomassi retrieves a section of glass during cleanup.

Left: The track of the takeoff point is in the foreground. The airborne vehicle ended up beyond the street sign in the background. Right: A mirror rests uphill from the wreck.

The vehicle is pulled back to an upright position by a wrecker from Scotty's service.

New Watkins Glen tanker put into service

WATKINS GLEN, April 9, 2016 -- The Watkins Glen Fire Department put a new pumper tanker into service Saturday -- a truck (No. 31) purchased largely on the strength of a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The $285,000 grant was obtained through an application prepared by Safety Captain and former Watkins Glen Chief Dominick Smith, with assistance from Vickers Consulting Services of Texas. The remaining $50,000 was provided through the village budget. FEMA, it was explained, requires that at least 15% of the cost of a grant project is provided locally.

The tanker replaces one retired and sold three years ago. The new vehicle, with a basic weight of 23,000 pounds, carries 1800 gallons of water, which is another 14,000 pounds.

The vehicle was picked up by the department's Truck Committee on Tuesday, April 5 at the construction plant of the 4 Guys Fire Trucks firm in Myersville, Pa. It took a year and a half to build. It joins a Watkins Glen department fleet featuring six other trucks and a boat.

Department personnel prepared the new truck Saturday, adding hoses, tools, air packs and other essentials -- and had it ready for service by lunchtime. The police dispatcher announced it, saying "31 is back in service."

Busy month:

1. The Watkins Glen Fire Department will have a change of chiefs at its annual banquet on Saturday, April 16, with Charlie Scaptura succeeding Judson Smith, who has served in the post for two years. The banquet will be held at the fire station.

2. Then, on Saturday, April 23, the department will hold its annual Recruitment Day, setting up with other emergency service agencies at Lafayette Park in Watkins Glen. The goal is to attract new members to the department, which has an active roll of more than 40 people. It has gained a couple of junior firefighters recently, and is always looking for new participants, young or older, says EMS Captain Anthony Nieves. Junior firefighters are 16 and 17; full-fledged members must be 18 -- but significantly older men and women who might not enter burning buildings are still valuable, he said, noting: "We can always use good drivers."

Photos in text:

Top: The new Tanker 31 during preparations -- in the center of the fire station's bay area -- to put it into service.
Middle: Safety Capt. Dominick Smith, center, discusses the truck with firefighter Mike Stamp. Smith's daughter, firefighter Kayla Smith, is at right.
Bottom: After it was readied for service, the new truck was backed into its regular parking slot on the bay area's north end.

For more information about the department and its recruitment efforts, visit online at

Reverend Hartney to retire on April 30

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, April 6, 2016 -- The Reverend Michael Hartney will retire as Rector of the Episcopal Parishes of Schuyler County on April 30. Receptions honoring his ministry are planned during the month of April.

The Schuyler County Community reception will be Sunday, April 17 from 2-4 p.m. at the Saint James’ Episcopal Church Parish Hall, 112 Sixth Street in Watkins Glen. Each congregation will hold additional receptions on separate days.

Saint John’s Episcopal Church, County Routes 14 & 15, Catharine, will hold its reception on Saturday, April 16 from 1-3 p.m. Saint James’ Watkins Glen will hold its reception on Sunday, April 24 at 11.45 a.m. after Father Hartney’s last Sunday service, which is that day.  The congregations invite the public to the receptions.

Sunday worship times every week are 8.45 a.m. at Saint John’s Catharine and 10.45 a.m. at Saint James’ Watkins Glen.

Father Hartney has served as Rector of the three congregations of Schuyler County: Saint James’ Watkins Glen, Saint John’s Catharine, and Saint Paul’s Montour Falls since January 2006.

Active in social ministry in Schuyler County, he is a board member of the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce, the treasurer for Schuyler County Habitat for Humanity, a member of the Schuyler County Human Services Committee, and the treasurer for both the Schuyler Hospital Chaplaincy Program and the Labor of Love Committee.

He serves presently as the president of the Board of the Community Dispute Resolution Center of Tompkins, Chemung and Schuyler Counties. The Episcopal Diocese of Rochester elected him recently to a term as a member of the Diocese’s governing board, the Standing Committee.

He and his wife, Susan, will remain Schuyler County residents in retirement, continuing to live in the Village of Watkins Glen.

Photo in text: Reverend Michael Hartney (File photo)

Watkins Glen High School senior Portia Wells performs an original piece she wrote called "Remembrance." (Photo by Doug Yeater)
Artists in Residence give Glen students chance to shine in musical performances

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, March 23, 2016 -- The 25th annual Artists in Residence program at Watkins Glen Central School culminated Tuesday evening with musical performances by students in the high school auditorium.

The program, long overseen by now-retired teacher Jim Murphy and for more than 20 years featuring famed cellist Hank Roberts of Ithaca, is overseen now by teacher Travis Durfee (himself a performer) and features professional musicians Rosie Newton, Katie McShane and Jesse Heasly.

Each of the three Artists in Residence assists students of varying ages and grades in playing various songs, covers and originals on various instruments. The instructions and training take place in the weeks leading to the culminating concert. Students Tuesday employed piano, electric and acoustic guitar, electric bass, stand-up bass, flute, cello, violin and drums, as well as vocals.

There were three original works performed during the evening. McShane noted that she was pleased to hear the kids perform originals -- something she had encouraged them to do when she and Newton had participated in the program last year.

Originally formed by Murphy with a small grant that enabled him to bring one musician (Hank Roberts) into the classroom to teach "The Science of Music," the program grew over the years, with Roberts spending weeks each year with Middle Schoolers. With the closing of that school, the program moved to the high school and now incorporates students in grades 7 through 12.

Roberts, who worked with Murphy on the program for 21 years, handed the duties off to Newton and McShane four years ago. McShane was a former student of his at Ithaca College. He said he knew Newton "from around the musical community" in Ithaca.

Heasly was added to the mix of instructors this year.

Tuesday's acts, in order of appearance:

--A welcome back to Mr. Murphy.
--Conlin Wysocki, singing “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone.”
--Ruthe Gardner, performing an instrumental rendition of “Eleanor Rigby.”
--Cambria Weeden, singing “This is Gospel” with Matt Craig on piano.
--Portia Wells, performing on cello an original she wrote called “Remembrance.”
--Kelsey Kernan and Savannah Ayers, performing “Little Do You Know."
--Joelle Slater and Serafina Lopresti, performing “Jolene.”
--John Reed with Kris Ayers & Jacob Asbury, performing an original called "Airman" written by John Reed.
--Serafina Lopresti, performing “Crazy For You.”
--Enqi Lin, performing “The Climb.”
--Claire McManus and Portia Wells, performing “Wake Me Up.”
--Ashley Palmer and Kayla Palmer, performing “Rather Be.”
--Hannah Morse, singing “Clementine.”
--Andrea Haskell, performing “Arms.”
--Mr. Durfee & Friends, performing “Streets of Baltimore.”
--Kelsey Kernan, singing “Billie Jean” with Simon Wigmore on drums.
--Scott Brubaker, performing “Beauty and the Beast” on piano.
--James St. Julien, singing “Stars.”
--WGHS Chorus, performing “Green Day on Stage.”
-- Annika Wickham and Allie Gibson, performing “Love Yourself” on piano.
--Olivia Lattin, singing “Let It Be.”
--North Country, performing an original called “Gravel and Stone” written by Calvin Buckley. North Country are: Calvin Buckley, Owen Buckley, Wyatt Brower, Wrett Brower, and Dayne Hughey.
--Finale: WGHS Chorus and band members performing “I Believe I Can Fly” with soloists Cambria Weeden, Serafina Lopresti, Wyatt Brower, and James St. Julien.


--Jesse Heasly is a graduate of New England Conservatory (where he studied jazz bass performance), and is an active and touring bassist in the New England area. He also teaches piano and bass privately near his home in Boston.
--Rosie Newton: attended Ithaca College, specializes in the fiddle, and spends her time touring internationally with various American and folk rock bands. She lives in Trumansburg and enjoys playing music locally (at the Rongo every other Wednesday) when she is home.
--Katie McShane has a degree in Music Education from Ithaca College and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Contemporary Improvisation at New England Conservatory in Boston. In addition to teaching privately, she spends the majority of her time composing music for various ensembles and leading her own touring bands, including the 7-piece group “Listening Woman.”

Photos in text:

From top: Students Ruthe Gardner and Scott Brubaker perform; Artist in Residence Jesse Heasly; and student Olivia Lattin sings "Let It Be." (Photos by Doug Yeater)

Katie McShane, left, and Rosie Newton, Artists in Residence. (Photos by Doug Yeater)

From left: Watkins Glen students Cambria Weeden, Kelsey Kernan and Hannah Morse perform. (Photos by Doug Yeater)

Left: Retired teacher Jim Murphy, who used to spearhead the Artists in Residence program. Right: Travis Durfee, who oversees the program now, was among the evening's performers. (Photos by Doug Yeater)

Future Farmers visit Palmesano, Friend

Special to
The Odessa File

ALBANY, March 17, 2016 -- Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,C,I-Corning) and Assemblyman Chris Friend (R,C,I- Big Flats) recently enjoyed a meeting with student representatives from Future Farmers of America (FFA) in Albany.

“These students are continuing a storied New York State tradition, one that powers our economy in the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes Region. They are civic minded and curious, hardworking and dedicated. They are a credit to their schools, their families and the Future Farmers of America,” said Palmesano and Friend in a joint statement.

Photo in text: President of the NYS Association of Conservation Districts Dan Farrand and GST BOCES Conservation Instructor and FFA Advisor Dan MacNaughton are pictured on the left. On the right are Assemblyman Phil Palmesano and Assemblyman Chris Friend. Between the gentlemen is a group of FFA students, including Miranda Stansfield (Horseheads High School), Ashley Materne (Horseheads High School), Dakota Landon (Watkins Glen High School), Emily Zine (Horseheads High School), Kyle Frasier (Odessa-Montour High School) and Nathan H. Washburn (Elmira High School). (Photo provided)

Medical Center physician, nurse honored

Special to The Odessa File

ITHACA, March 17, 2016 -- Cayuga Medical Center this month honored Marguerite Sterling, RN and Charles Garbo, MD by presenting them the Louis Munchmeyer Award for Excellence at the Center's Medical Staff Annual Meeting.

Sterling currently works full-time in the radiation oncology department at Cayuga Medical Center, and was instrumental in the birth and growth of the thyroid nodule clinic. She has been with Cayuga Medical Center for 35 years.

Dr. Garbo has been a member of the medical staff at Cayuga Medical Center in the Department of Oncology since 1992, and has practiced in the community for over 23 years.

"Dr. Munchmeyer was a distinguished physician who dedicated his life to caring for the people of this community,” said Lynn Swisher, MD, President of the Medical Staff at Cayuga Medical Center.

Dr. Munchmeyer was on the medical staff at Cayuga Medical Center for 38 years and was known for his kind demeanor and the interest he showed toward the many patients that he treated.

The Medical Staff Executive Committee at Cayuga Medical Center felt that Dr. Munchmeyer based his medical practice upon the principles of excellence of care for patients, concern for patient quality of life, and community involvement. This award honors individuals who emulate these qualities.

Photos in text: Dr. Charles Garbo and Marguerite Sterling, RN. (Photos provided)

Judge Morris rules in favor of DA's motion to keep files open in Bartholomew case

WATKINS GLEN, March 9, 2016 -- Schuyler County Judge Dennis Morris Wednesday ruled in favor of District Attorney Joe Fazzary's Feb. 11 motion to leave unsealed portions of the records in the Kate Bartholomew "stun gun" case.

Fazzary had made the motion "in the interest of justice" because he wants to examine the transcript to determine if testimony by Bartholomew at her trial on a weapon possession charge warrants pursuit of a perjury charge. He contends she contradicted herself from one day's testimony to the next in the two-day trial in December 2015.

Bartholomew was found not guilty on the possession charge in a January ruling by Judge Morris, who said in Wednesday's ruling that while it had not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt "that the defendant knew" the plastic-knuckles-shaped stun gun she purchased online "could cause serious physical injury ... by her own testimony (she) demonstrated that she did not sufficiently consider the readily available information that the item had dangerous characteristics."

Bartholomew gave the item to a student, who took it on a school bus, where it was discharged. No one was injured, but -- said the Judge in Wednesday's ruling -- that "does not diminish the risk of harm."

"The Court concludes," Morris's ruling said, "that in the interest of justice, certain portions of the record in this case, including the Defendant's testimony, the Court's Verdict Following Bench Trial and ... exhibits referred to above, shall remain unsealed and in the public record."

Said Fazzary after Wednesday's ruling: "I have ordered the complete transcript" for study.

Fazzary had contended, too, in his February motion that an unsealed case file would also enable the Watkins Glen School District -- where Bartholomew worked as a science teacher -- to utilize trial testimony and exhibits with an eye toward terminating her employment, and provide the State Education Department with enough information to determine "whether or not the defendant should ever be able to teach in this State again."

Said Fazzary on Wednesday: "The exhibits are in my office for school and State Education review." The parts of the case that remain sealed, he added, "will be documents showing that she was arrested at all and anything which supports the arrest, like police reports, mugshots and fingerprints."

Watkins Glen School Superintendent Tom Phillips, in reaction to Wednesday's ruling, issued the following statement:

"Thank you to the District Attorney's office for its commitment to pursuing justice and ensuring the School District's ability to provide accurate evidence including complete testimony of the teacher as we move the case through the State Education legal process. Our only purpose is to provide a safe learning environment for the children of the Watkins Glen School District."

Bartholomew has been on suspension since the May 2014 incident.

The bottom line, the DA said after his Feb. 11 motion -- in which arguments by Fazzary and defense attorney David Parks were made before Judge Morris in chambers -- is that Bartholomew "should not be allowed back in the classroom."

Fazzary said at that time that if the ruling was in favor of his motion, he suspected Parks might appeal. But now he says he's not sure that will happen. "Discretion of the judge is hard to appeal," he said, "and appeals are expensive."

Photos in text:

From top: Kate Bartholomew, County Judge Dennis Morris, District Attorney Joe Fazzary, and School Superintendent Tom Phillips. (File photos)

Weidemann named executive director at Motor Racing Research Center in Glen

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Feb. 15, 2016 -- The International Motor Racing Research Center has named Thomas Weidemann as its new executive director.

Weidemann recently completed more than 32 years as executive director of the Clemens Center in nearby Elmira, N.Y. He was appointed to his new position at the Jan. 28 meeting of the Racing Research Center's Governing Council in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Weidemann assumes leadership of the Racing Research Center from J.C. Argetsinger, who retired as president at the end of 2015. Argetsinger was Center president for eight years, but had been involved with the Center since before its 1999 opening.

"Our search committee conducted an exhaustive nationwide search for the right person to guide us into the future," Larry Kessler of Rochester, N.Y., Council member and chairman of the search committee, said.

"We are delighted that Tom, who is well-known in upstate New York for his stewardship of the Clemens Center for 30 years, has agreed to take us to the next level."

Weidemann shepherded the evolution of Elmira's performing arts center into an acclaimed state-of-the-art, regional facility, including three major expansions.

The Racing Research Center is an archival and research library located in Watkins Glen, N.Y., home of the first post-World War II road race in the United States and the site of Watkins Glen International, one of the most famed road courses in the world.

"It is with a great deal of excitement that I join the wonderful staff, volunteers and Council members in promoting the success of the IMRRC," Weidemann said. "I look forward to learning a great deal and contributing my energy and skills to furthering the goals of the Center in its mission to preserve and share the materials of the history of motorsports, all series and all venues worldwide. 

"My deep appreciation goes to the search committee and the Governing Council for the confidence they have placed in me in honoring me with this appointment."

Weidemann is a recognized leader in many national arts organizations, including the League of Historic American Theatres, for which he served as treasurer for many years. In 2002, he was the first recipient of the North American Performing Arts Managers and Agents Award for Excellence in Presenting the Performing Arts. Last year, he was honored with the inaugural Lifetime Service Award of The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes.

A resident of Montour Falls, N.Y., Weidemann is heavily involved in his community, including Rotary International activities on national, regional and local levels. He is a member of the Montour Falls Village Planning Board and active in the First Presbyterian Church of Watkins Glen.

Photo in text: Thomas Weidemann (Photo provided)

Watson will succeed Manzer as Schuyler Hospital president

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Jan. 15, 2016 -- The boards of directors of Schuyler Hospital and the Cayuga Health System have named James B. Watson to the position of president of Schuyler Hospital and vice president of the Cayuga Health System. He is the current president and chief operating officer of the Arnot Health-Ira Davenport Memorial Hospital in Bath, NY.

Watson (pictured at right) will assume his new responsibilities at Schuyler Hospital and the Cayuga Health System in February. He replaces Andy Manzer, who will become executive vice president and network chief operating officer at Bassett Health Care in Cooperstown, New York.

“We are extremely fortunate to have Jim join Schuyler Hospital and the Cayuga Health System,” said John Rudd, president and CEO of the Cayuga Health System. “He has extensive experience in the small hospital environment and he is highly respected in the field of health-care administration. He brings an established track record of achievements in the development of successful affiliations and the integration of services among partner organizations. Jim has in-depth knowledge of both acute hospital care and the field of skilled nursing facilities, which make him ideally suited to take on this new role.”

Under Watson’s leadership as chief executive officer, Ira Davenport Memorial Hospital developed a successful affiliation with Arnot Health, providing the residents of Steuben County with acute hospital care, outpatient services, and a 120-bed skilled nursing facility. In addition to 30 years of experience in health-care management, Watson holds an MBA in Health Services from Union College. He has served on the Hospital Association of New York State Board of Directors and was president of the Rochester Regional Healthcare Association from 2012-2015.

Kyle Tuttle, chairman of the Board of Directors of Schuyler Hospital, said the board is looking forward to working with Watson. “We are very pleased that Jim Watson is so knowledgeable about what it takes to run a successful community hospital. Under his leadership I’m confident that Schuyler Hospital will continue to thrive and grow to meet the special needs of our community.”

“I am looking forward to beginning this new partnership with the community and becoming a health-care resource for Schuyler County and surrounding areas," said Watson. "I was very impressed with the Schuyler Hospital Board, leadership team, and employees that I have met. I look forward to assuming my new responsibilities.”

The Cayuga Health System comprises Cayuga Medical Center in Ithaca, NY, and Schuyler Hospital in Montour Falls, NY, serving the central Finger Lakes Region. For more information, visit and or call (607) 274-4498.

Photo in text: James B. Watson (Photo provided)

Bartholomew found not guilty in school bus stun-gun case

"I hope that's the end of it," she says, but school eyes further action

WATKINS GLEN, Jan. 5, 2016 -- Schuyler County Judge Dennis Morris ruled Tuesday that suspended Watkins Glen High School science teacher Kate Bartholomew is not guilty of a weapon possession charge leveled against her in connection with an incident involving a stun gun on a WGHS school bus.

The incident, in May of 2014, saw a WGHS student take on the bus a stun gun purchased for him by Bartholomew -- who said at her bench trial before Morris last month that she had no idea that the gun was anything other than a toy.

District Attorney Joe Fazzary had contended that there was no way Bartholomew -- who ordered the stun gun online, received it at her home and delivered it to the student -- couldn't know that the gun was in fact a weapon and forbidden for purchase in New York State.

'It's great," Barthlomew said of the judge's ruling. "I just hope that's the end of it."

But Watkins Glen School Superintendent Tom Phillips -- critical of the judge's ruling -- said the district is "moving forward" against Barthlomew by filing with the state a Part 83 motion. That, he said, means the state will look at the matter and Bartholomew's status based "on moral issues."

Beyond that, he said the school attorney will review the possibility of action under 3020-a of the State Education Law, and that the School Board will convene in executive session to consider the attorney's findings and advice, and can "prefer charges." The 3020-a, he said, pertains to a teacher's "competence to be in the classroom."

Bartholomew has been on paid suspension since the stun-gun incident. Testimony at trial was given by Phillips, retired WGHS principal Dave Warren, the student who received the gun, School Resource Officer David Waite, and others, including a teacher who vouched for Bartholomew's character. Several other character witnesses were not called, their expected testimony accepted by stipulation.

The judge's ruling, said Phillips (pictured at right), showed "a level of judicial incompetence" that is "inexcusable." He expanded on that comment with written remarks as follows: "Only in Schuyler County can you have a teacher admit to using a school computer during the school work day to purchase a stun gun, have it sent to her home, have her bring it to school and give it to a student, change her testimony on the stand and have a judge find her not guilty. The judicial incompetence demonstrated in this decision is clearly jeopardizing student safety and the safety of the school district."

In his ruling, Judge Morris wrote in part:

"Evidence of defendant's good reputation in the school community for student safety was uncontradicted. It was entered by testimony and stipulation. This raises perhaps the most challenging issue presented to the prosecution. How and why could a veteran teacher in the middle of the school day hand a student a device that she knew could 'stun, cause mental disorientation, knock out or paralyze a person by passing a high voltage electrical shock to such person?'

"One reasonable answer to the last question is that she did not know it could do those things since she believed it was a toy or simulated stun gun. The fact that the item was labeled as a stun gun and referred to as such by the defendant does not necessarily prove that she knew it was a device of that capability. It is the prosecution's burden to prove this knowledge beyond a reasonable doubt.

"The defendant's failure to exercise a reasonable degree of care in ordering the device and providing it to a student in school is clearly negligent. The defendant had nearly a week to go back and check the website to find the details of an item she didn't think was appropriate for school use. The defendant had an evening to physically inspect the item before she took it to school. These failures together might very well be deemed reckless.

"Negligent or reckless conduct, however, does not satisfy the element of knowledge necessary for a conviction of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the 4th degree. Because the People did not establish that knowledge beyond a reasonable doubt, the Court finds the defendant Kathryn Bartholomew not guilty of the crime of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the 4th Degree."

District Attorney Fazzary, meanwhile, issued the following statement:

"Obviously, I am disappointed with the verdict. But, in our system of justice, it is my job to present evidence to the trier of fact, not to determine who is guilty or innocent. In this case, that job was left up to Judge Morris, who based his decision on several factors. The most important of which seemed to be that it didn't make sense to him that this teacher would knowingly do something like this. I felt the evidence given by police officers and school administrators was strong and showed that she did, in fact, know that what she bought and gave to the student was a stun gun. Her conflicting testimony at trial solidified my belief. In this case, Judge Morris had to determine all issues of credibility and clearly gave credence to Ms. Bartholomew's testimony that she thought the stun gun was a toy.

"This case is a perfect example of the role of the prosecutor to present evidence to show that a defendant committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. It is a perfect example of how the defendant should be afforded the presumption of innocence. The verdict does not affirmatively state that Ms. Bartholomew didn't know that she gave the student a weapon. It simply states that the People did not prove that element beyond a reasonable doubt. As the prosecutor for this great county, I accept the court's verdict and the process in which it came about."

Bartholomew, meanwhile, was both upbeat and repentant.

"It's just wonderful," she said of the verdict, which was relayed to her by her attorney, David Parks of Ithaca. "It's a relief to have that decided."

When informed of the possible 3020-a action, she responded: "That would be to fire me. But I'm optimistic. I'll have one of the best NYSUT (New York State United Teachers) lawyers representing me. I didn't go this long to roll over and be a doormat."

She expressed regret at her actions regarding the stun gun. "It was a boneheaded, stupid mistake in not looking closely" at the ad or the gun, she said, "and before that in not contacting the parents" of the student. "I will regret it for the rest of my life. But I don't know if it warranted ..."

And her voice trailed off.

"The state will do what the state will do," she finally added. "We'll see."

Photos in text:

From top: Kate Bartholomew and her attorney, David Parks, after the first day of the bench trial in December; Watkins Glen School Superintendent Tom Phillips; Schuyler County Judge Dennis Morris, and District Attorney Joe Fazzary. (File photos)

Opioid overdoses rise locally

SCCUDD explains what to do in such emergencies

The following article was provided to The Odessa File by Schuyler County Public Health in conjunction with the Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking and Drugs (SCCUDD).

WATKINS GLEN, Dec. 24, 2015 -- In the past week, the community has seen more than five opioid overdoses; at least 2 have resulted in death. Several of the reported overdoses involve heroin in combination with other substances such as methamphetamine and alcohol.

Heroin is dangerous because it can have a wide range of purity levels and can be laced with other substances, such as fentanyl, increasing the risk of overdose and death. Opioid overdose is more common when opioids are used with other sedatives such as alcohol, Valium, Xanax, Klonopin, and sleep aids.

The Schuyler County Coalition on Underage Drinking and Drugs (SCCUDD), in collaboration with Schuyler County Public Health and the Finger Lakes Addiction Counseling and Referral Agency (FLACRA) are asking the community to be aware of this recent increase and learn how to respond to a potential overdose (see chart below). Danielle Tilden of FLACRA’s Watkins Glen Clinic states tha “overdose is a preventable death, and we have the tools to assist individuals and their loved ones.”

Symptoms of opioid overdose include unconsciousness; slow breathing, cool or clammy skin, and lips or nails turning blue. If someone may have overdosed on heroin or other opioids, it’s important to call 911 immediately.

Tilden also notes: “Don’t worry about getting yourself or the overdosing individual in trouble; New York’s 911 Good Samaritan law protects the person who has overdosed and the person seeking help from charges or prosecution for drug possession.”

You can help prevent opioid overdose in Schuyler County by disposing of your unwanted prescription medications using the medication drop box at the Schuyler County Sheriff’s Office in Watkins Glen. You can also help by calling the Schuyler County Sheriff’s Office confidential Tip Line if you suspect drug possession, drug sale, or other illegal activity at 607-535-8224.

For more information, or to become involved with SCCUDD, visit SCCUDD online at, or follow SCCUDD on Facebook and Twitter.

Bartholomew case is in hands of the judge; ruling due later

WATKINS GLEN, Dec. 16, 2015 -- Schuyler County Judge Dennis Morris reserved judgment Tuesday at the conclusion of a two-day bench trial in the case of a Watkins Glen High School teacher accused of Criminal Possession of a Weapon, 4th degree, in connection with a stun-gun incident on a school bus.

Morris will wait to rule on the guilt or innocence of science teacher Kate Bartholomew -- charged with the misdemeanor in connection with her purchase of the stun gun from the Internet for a student she said she was trying to help. She says she thought the gun was a toy.

Morris said that District Attorney Joe Fazzary and defense attorney David Parks have until Dec. 23 to file papers in the case pertaining to matters of law. His ruling will come sometime after that, although both the DA and Parks noted that Morris has another ruling due, in Surrogate Court, by the end of the year -- and that the Surrogate matter takes precedence.

"He'll decide when he decides," said Fazzary. Added Parks: "I'm thinking (the ruling will come) around January 1st."

Should Morris find the defendant guilty, the maximum penalty he can levy for 4th Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon is a year in jail. The minimum is a conditional discharge. Other options include fines up to $1,000, probation, and community service. Bartholomew's status with the school district -- from which she has been suspended with pay since the incident -- is a separate matter outside of the court's purview.

The second day of the trial saw Fazzary call several rebuttal witnesses, including retired WGHS Principal Dave Warren and School Superintendent Tom Phillips -- both of whom had testified Monday, too -- and Watkins Glen Village Police Sgt. Steven Decker. Following their testimony, Parks called Bartholomew -- who had also testified Monday -- back to the stand.

Fazzary questioned Warren and Phillips as to school policy regarding the health and safety of students -- and in particular one student who had been known to cut herself and drink. She figured into Bartholomew's defense because Bartholomew said she had been called out of her room to check on the girl in a bathroom at the time she was ordering the stun gun online -- and was thus distracted. That and other distractions, Bartholomew said, likely accounted for her failure to realize the stun gun was not a toy.

Fazzary elicited from Warren that he was not notified of that incident in the bathroom -- that while he was aware of the girl's problems and was monitoring them, there was no red flag on that day that would have, he said, prompted him to make it his top priority. And Phillips said that any such incident should have been reported and documented -- in fact any incident, no matter how trivial, concerning the health and safety of a student.

In cross examining Bartholomew later, Fazzary got conflicting accounts -- that the bathroom incident proved "a false alarm," that there was Nyquil present (for its alcohol content) but that the bottle was capped, and that perhaps she had been confused by that incident and the particulars of a similar, different day.

Decker was called to refute Bartholomew's contention Monday that she had spoken to him the day of the bus incident -- when the student for whom she had purchased the stun gun was caught with it and removed from the bus by police -- and had been told by Decker that in order to purchase a stun gun for the police department, he had to file a "triplicate form." Bartholomew had said she replied that triplicate forms weren't necessary -- just "an Amazon Prime account." She purchased the gun through "" and, in conjunction, through

Decker, in his rebuttal testimony, said he didn't speak to Bartholomew that day nor on the subject of stun guns on any other day.

In his closing argument, attorney Parks said that Bartholomew could not be found guilty of weapon possession if she did not know it was a weapon -- and that she clearly thought it was a toy. Case law suggesting that possession of a knife might be applied here, he said, was not reasonable since a knife is clearly a knife and a potential weapon; while a weapon that looks like a toy can lead to an honest mistake.

Fazzary, however, said it was clear from the evidence -- printouts of illustrated and descriptive pages of the stun gun ads, calling it a Knuckle Blaster Stun Gun; the testimony of Warren and Phillips that Bartholomew had referred to the item as a "stun gun" shortly after the bus incident; her quick trip to visit Warren after the bus incident, over what she said was concern for the student with the "toy" because he might have been misusing it; the testimony of the boy, a special-needs student, that Bartholomew had the stun gun out of the box the day she gave it to him, despite her testimony to the contrary; and the testimony of Warren, Phillips and Decker.

"Judge," he said, "to find her not guilty, to say I didn't prove my case, you would have to find that Dave Warren is not a credible witness, that Tom Phillips is not a credible witness," that the boy with the gun "is not credible, and that Kate Bartholomew was credible."

A Monday witness, teacher Karen Armstrong, had attested to the "truth and veracity" of the defendant. "Truth and veracity," said Fazzary, "go hand in hand with good decision-making. Where was that," he asked, in the purchase of the gun and other items -- a static-electricity game, some hot sauce, and some jerky -- for the boy without the knowledge of his parents? "Was it a good decision to buy those things?"

And as for a reputation for safety that Armstrong said Bartholomew possesses: "Does this sound like stuff that's safe for a teacher" to be doing?

The term "toy" is the "only defense she has," the DA said. "In my mind, the word 'toy' has many meanings to many people," ranging from a young child's plaything to guns and bombs employed by some adults. "In this case, the word 'toy' is the only defense she has."

He held up the stun gun, which is shaped like "brass knuckles" but is made of plastic -- a "dual weapon," he said, in that it also carries 950,000 volts.

"It's not a toy," he concluded. "It's always readily apparent that it's a weapon."

Bartholomew was noticeably upset after the trial, which Parks said was understandable, considering the DA's aggressive court tactics.

"Look," he said, "what it really boils down to, and which the judge has to reconcile, is this: Do you really believe this good-hearted teacher would buy a weapon for a student?"

Photos in text:

Top: Kate Bartholomew and her attorney, David Parks, leave the County Building after the conclusion of the trial there.

Next, in descending order: District Attorney Joe Fazzary and Watkins Glen Police Sgt. Steven Decker after court Tuesday; and School Superintendent Tom Phillips (File photo).

Kate Bartholomew bench trial begins

WATKINS GLEN, Dec. 15, 2015 -- The long-delayed trial of a Watkins Glen teacher accused of Criminal Possession of a Weapon, 4th Degree in connection with a stun-gun-on-a-bus incident on May 2 of last year began in Schuyler County Court Monday with eight witnesses taking the stand -- including the Superintendent of Schools.

Science teacher Kate Bartholomew, who also served as president of the Watkins Glen Faculty Association, is accused of providing a 950,000-volt stun gun to a Special Needs student she says she was trying to help. She also says she didn't know it was a weapon -- thought instead that she was buying a toy such as a Power Ranger or a Science Fiction device.

She was on the stand late in the day, after testimony by:

-- Now-retired but then-WGHS Principal Dave Warren, who described the incidents of the day from an administrative standpoint;
-- Superintendent of Schools Tom Phillips, who told how he met with Bartholomew after the incident to tell her she was suspended pending further investigation and would be arrested;
-- The boy himself, now a senior, who gave a version of how he ended up with the stun gun, which he said he too thought was a toy;
-- School Resource Officer David Waite, who took the boy off the bus after the stun gun was discovered by the bus driver;
-- Melanie Chandler, director of technology for GST BOCES, who deciphered in detail the purchase by Bartholomew of the stun gun through and

Bartholomew was followed on the stand by:

-- A female student named Justice Heiderich, who testified about a friend at WGHS who had been cutting herself -- a fact that figured into the Bartholomew defense;
-- WGHS Technology teacher Karen Armstrong, who served as a character witness for the defense.

The case had been long delayed, most recently for health reasons involving Bartholomew's attorney, David Parks of Ithaca. More than 19 months have passed since the stun-gun incident, in which nobody was injured. Bartholomew has been on paid suspension since then.

Testimony was elicited by District Attorney Joe Fazzary and by attorney Parks before County Judge Dennis Morris, who will rule on the guilt or innocence of Bartholomew. The trial was expected to end in its second day -- Tuesday.

Opening statements saw Fazzary arguing that possession of a weapon is enough for a finding of guilt, whether or not the defendant recognized it as a weapon. Parks argued contrarily, saying a finding of guilt cannot be levied in such circumstance.

An agreement late in the day Monday stipulated that rather than call a parade of witnesses willing to testify as Armstrong did to Bartholomew's reputation for "truth, veracity and honesty," those witnesses would be bypassed with the understanding that they would have said roughly the same things. Thus, today's gathering was expected to produce "maybe one or two rebuttal witnesses," according to Fazzary.

After that will come closing arguments before the matter is placed in the hands of Judge Morris. Should he find the defendant guilty, the maximum penalty he can levy for 4th Degree Criminal Possession of a Weapon is a year in jail. The minimum is a conditional discharge. Other options include fines up to $1,000, probation, and community service.

The testimony, which covered the entire workday except for a lunch break, a couple of chamber conferences and some bench conferences, was mostly designed to establish the sequence of events leading to the purchase of the stun gun -- a device that fits around the fingers as a sort of extra knuckles, and elicits what one person in the know said was "a loud sound" when its built in "zapper" is triggered -- and the aftermath of its discovery on the bus.

But even that sequence was not without contradictions -- the boy in question saying he never asked Bartholomew to acquire the gun for him, as she had three other items beforehand through the Internet: a game, some hot sauce and some jerky. He said he didn't remember discussing the gun purchase with Bartholomew before she ordered the item and it arrived in the mail, and said he didn't talk about it to another teacher, Karen Armstrong, before its arrival. He also said he didn't play -- in Armstrong's class -- the game the defendant had acquired for him.

Bartholomew said differently, and Armstrong said the boy had showed her the item on an Internet page beforehand. She also said the boy was proud to share the game with his classmates, and was also anxious to share the hot sauce and jerky. They were means of him gaining social acceptance in a mixed class she oversaw that contained both challenged and mainstream students, she explained.

The boy, in his explanation of events, said a classmate had taken the stun gun from his backpack to show to other kids on the bus, and that it had made a loud sound -- bringing silence to the bus and the attention of the bus driver, who called authorities.

When the boy was soon thereafter removed from the bus, he said he "knew something was up at that point." He was taken into custody, but faces no charges.

Bartholomew's account

As for Bartholomew's testimony, her attorney led her through the sequence of events, including her ordering the stun gun -- a move taken at the request of the boy, she said, insisting she thought it a harmless toy. She said she never took it out of its package before handing it to the boy. He testified that after she gave it to him, unbidden, it was removed from the package and she placed it on her hand, and so had a close look at it. She said, however, that she had never seen it out of its package until Monday's court session, when Fazzary showed it as one of the pieces of evidence.

She said she never studied the online ad through which the gun was purchased, thinking by a quick glance at the ad that it was a toy similar to Power Ranger merchandise. She ordered it quickly, punching a button that transferred her to the Amazon site, and then hitting a one-click order button that she said she qualifies for as an Amazon regular. (The DA drew out of the BOCES witness, Chandler, that the transaction took enough time for Bartholomew to have discovered the nature of the purchase while it was on screen, but Bartholomew said she didn't notice.)

Fazzary asked Bartholomew if she had contacted the boy's parents at any point in the sequence in which she bought the game, hot sauce, jerky and stun gun.

"What makes you think," asked Fazzary, "that it was appropriate for you to buy anything and give it to him? Did you ask his parents?"

She had not, she said, adding: "I regret deeply not having done so." She said the purchases "seemed harmless," but "I accept responsibility ... and regret" not having contacted the parents.

The matter of the girl who had been hurting herself was brought up by defense to explain that just as Bartholomew was placing the order, Heiderich ran into the classroom to alert her of possible trouble with the girl -- that she was seen heading toward the rest room and might hurt herself. This, Bartholomew testified, was one of many distractions during that period that may have prevented her from adequately understanding what she was ordering. (The girl did not hurt herself at that time, testimony showed.)

Fazzary implied at one point that it seemed odd that Bartholomew -- if she actually thought what she was buying was not a weapon -- would purchase a toy for a 16-year-old, a toy designed "for kids."

"Hey, I watch the Fantastic Four," said Bartholomew, drawing some chuckles from the audience. About two-dozen people were present, including friends, a couple of former teachers, a former student, and four members of the Environmental Management Council that Bartholomew has spearheaded.

Also on hand to watch the proceedings were four members of the Watkins Glen School Board: Keith Caslin, Gloria Brubaker, Kelly McCarthy and, for a while, Kristin Hazlitt.

Following Armstrong's testimony, the judge adjourned the proceedings until the next morning, saying that there might be "a few things for the record, and then closings."

Both Fazzary and Attorney Parks said afterward that a couple of DA rebuttal witnesses could be called, but that closing arguments were anticipated before the day ran long.

Photos in text:

Top: Kate Bartholomew and her attorney, David Parks, outside the county building after Monday's proceedings.

Second: District Attorney Joe Fazzary, who is prosecuting the case. (File photo)

Below that: Among those who testified were, in descending order, retired high school principal Dave Warren, Superintendent Tom Phillips, and School Resource Officer David Waite. (File photos)

Schuyler Habitat dedicates its first house

Special to The Odessa File

MONTOUR FALLS, Nov. 19, 2015 -- Schuyler County Habitat for Humanity dedicated its first house on Sunday, November 1st. The house, located at 130 Havana Glen Road, has been built over the last two years by a corps of volunteers and the generosity of area businesses.

The house was built in honor of the late Sheriff's Deputy Dave Centurelli, whose mother attended the dedication ceremony. Habitat co-chairs Marcia Douglas and Marion Nicastro spoke of the community effort to build the house, and the Reverend Richard Evans offered the prayer.

The first Schuyler County Habitat family will soon occupy the home, and plans are already underway to seek property to build a second house.

Persons who may have property or a home to be donated and renovated can contact Bob Groll, 

Schuyler County Habitat for Humanity meets at 7:30 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month at the Human Services Complex in Montour Falls. Interested persons may attend.

Photo in text: The Habitat home built at 130 Havana Glen Road. (Photo provided)

Woman swims the 38-mile length of Seneca

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Aug. 31 -- Bridgette Hobart Janeczko has spent the summer swimming the Finger Lakes, and over the weekend she conquered Seneca, arguably the toughest of them all.

Janeczko, 52, departed from Seneca Lake State Park in Geneva on Friday, August 28 at 6 p.m., expecting to arrive in Watkins Glen between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday. But wind and water conditions proved especially challenging and she arrived in Watkins at the Village Marina at 6:33 p.m. The swim took 24 hours and 33 minutes to complete.

She was the first woman to ever swim the length of the lake.

Originally hailing from Binghamton, currently residing in Hopatcong, New Jersey, a Nazareth College alum and a member of that school's board of trustees, Janeczko is completing “The Finger Lakes Challenge” -- swimming the length of nine of the Finger Lakes to raise awareness of Nazareth College’s new women’s resource center. Details on the Nazareth Finger Lakes Challenge can be found on Facebook: .

As Bridgette shared, “Seneca Lake surely brought out the meaning of challenge for me. We left expecting a moonlight stroll down the lake only to find what the wind gods are truly capable of. Long night, but I had the best support crew one can have, and they kept me safe.”

She has already conquered the other “major” Finger Lakes (Canandaigua, Keuka, Skaneateles, and Cayuga). Next up for Bridgette? “The Minors,” as she and her team have termed them. She is targeted to swim Conesus, Hemlock, Canadice, Honeoye, Owasco, and Otisco Lakes later in September.

Fire skirts the tribal Mission and school outside Omak, Washington. (Photo provided)

Reporting from Washington State ...

Former Schuyler County resident Marsha Smith wrote The Odessa File about the wildfires in Washington State, where she now resides. She also filled us in on her connection to our county in this letter sent Wednesday night, Aug. 26, 2015.

I grew up in Hector and attended Watkins Glen School, graduating in 1967. After graduating, I went to nursing school at Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse. In 1971, I joined a Catholic volunteer organization called the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and was assigned to work as a nurse for the school at St. Mary's Mission, here in Omak, on the Colville Reservation. During my time here, the Jesuits turned the school over to the Tribe and St Mary's Mission became Paschal Sherman Indian School. I was here until 1980, when I returned to Hector to be with my aging parents and family.

I don't know if you know Joe Chicone, who lives over on Satterlee Hill Road in Hector, but he also was a volunteer here and has a very strong connection to Omak and the Native American community. He married a Colville tribal member. He has a musical group called Uncle Joe and the Rosebud Ramblers.

Getting back to my story ... I lived in Hector from 1980 until 1998. I worked at Schuyler Hospital on the OB unit, Stork's Landing. I attended the births of many of Schuyler County's babies during that time. In 1998, after both of my parents passed, I decided to return to Omak. Two of my Native American friends, Glenda and her sister Mickie, actually flew back to NY and helped me move back out here. They are my Omak family here.

I usually visit Schuyler County annually. Last October, my 83-year-old adopted mom, Leona, her daughter and my close friend, Glenda, and another friend, Lillian, and I all drove back to the Finger Lakes for a visit. I wanted Leona to experience the fall colors back there. They had a great time. I am sending you a picture of Glenda, Leona, and me at Taughannock Falls from last year.

So, there is a pretty strong connection with Joe Chicone, Michael Liu (former Finger Lakes National Forest Ranger and now District Ranger for the Methow Valley District of the Okanogan National Forest), and me all living in Hector and Okanogan County.

It was very smoky here today. Couldn't see the surrounding hills or mountains. Omak is the epicenter of the fires. They are still burning, with little containment on the North Star Fire especially. Today I figured out how many square miles have burned so far and I calculated 643 square miles in this county alone. Rhode Island is 1,215 square miles, so the fire has burned an area of over half the size of the state of Rhode Island! I spent my day running to our local Walmart and Dollar Store getting supplies for the Distribution Center to give to the firefighters. Glenda and I plan on helping out again tomorrow.

Hope this is helpful. There are some impressive maps of the fires available on-line. I hope to drive up to the Mission maybe tomorrow. The fire roared through that valley, but due to the efforts of firemen and local people, the Mission and the school there were spared. If there are some good photo ops, I will send more pictures, if you want. There is an impressive picture of the fire skirting the school. I am sending it to you. It was posted on Facebook and I don't know who took it.

Thank you for your interest in this story.

Best wishes,

Marsha Smith

Photo in text: Marsha Smith flanked by her good friend Glenda and Glenda's mother, Leona, during a visit last year to Taughannock Falls. (Photo provided)

Bleiler earns Baptist Man of Year honor

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY Aug. 16 -- Lifelong Schuyler County resident and local optometrist Dr. Brian E. Bleiler has been honored as the American Baptist Men of New York State “Man of the Year.”

The award, presented Aug. 8 at a dinner at Keuka College., was based on Bleiler's dedication to Christian service through The Odessa Baptist Church, where he has served in many leadership roles, and on his service to community.

Bleiler has served on two mission trips, using his eye-care skills in the Dominican Republic and Mexicali, Mexico. His family also worked with him in the Mexicali mission field.

The award is offered yearly to a layman who has shown dedication through service and living his faith.

Bleiler is a graduate of Odessa-Montour Central School, SUNY Albany, and Ohio State. He and his wife, Loueda Barrigar Bleiler, returned to Schuyler County after he received his degree at Ohio State. He is the son of Delmar and Jeanne Bleiler.

Photo in text: Dr. Brian Bleiler and his wife, Loueda. (Photo provided)

Schuyler County authors plan Alliance

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, July 30 -- Published authors who live in Schuyler County are being encouraged to attend an organizational meeting of the Schuyler Authors Alliance on Wednesday, Aug. 5 from 4:30-5:30 p.m. at the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce, 214 N. Franklin St., Watkins Glen.

The Alliance is an effort to promote and display the books of local authors through various businesses and organizations in the county, including the Watkins Glen Chamber.

Authors will also be listed on a Schuyler County Authors website.

Published works can include any book of fiction, nonfiction, poetry or photography. All local published authors are being encouraged to attend this important first meeting.

Authors who are expected to join the alliance include:

• Barbara Hale-Seubert, author of "Riptide: Struggling with and Resurfacing from a Daughter's Eating Disorder." (2011)
• Andrew Seubert, author of "The Courage to Feel: A Practical Guide to the Power and Freedom of Emotional Honesty." (2010)
• Peter Mantius, author of the non-fiction book "Shell Game: A True Story of Banking, Spies, Lies, Politics – and the Arming of Saddam Hussein." (1995)
• Thom White Wolf Fassett, author of "Giving Our Hearts Away." (2008)
• Michael J. Fitzgerald, author of the novels "The Fracking War" (2014, pictured) and "Fracking Justice" (2015).

For more information, please call Rosemary Petchell at 607-229-2390 or Sylvia Fox at 607-535-4941.

Keough among Radiologic Tech grads

Special to The Odessa File

ELMIRA, July 23 -- The fifty-eighth annual commencement ceremony of the Dr. Earl D. Smith School of Radiologic Technology was held on July 10 in the Petrie Conference Center at Arnot Ogden Medical Center. Among the graduates was Watkins Glen High School alum Angela Keough.

The opening welcome was presented by Dr. Edwin R. Acosta. Invocation and Benediction were given by Rev. Donna Miller, mother-in-law to Samantha Miller, a Class of 2015 graduate. The Commencement Address was delivered by Mr. Chris Crandell, Radiologic Technologist at Arnot Ogden Medical Center.

Diplomas and Pins were presented by Dr. Robert Lambert, CEO of Arnot Health; Ronald Woodard, Director of the School; and Clinical Instructors Bryan Clark and Vicki Bennett.

During the ceremony, the following awards were presented:

--Mrs. Ellen Richards Award for Scholastic Excellence: Angela Keough
--Katheen Emerson Memorial Award for Excellence in Radiologic Technology: Angela Keough
--Betty Jane Loomis Award for Excellence in Patient Care: Jessica Schuld
--Radiologist’s Award for Clinical Excellence: Jennifer Steadman

Photo in text: 2015 Graduates of the Arnot Ogden Medical Center School of Radiologic Technology. From left: Krystal Wilson, Jennifer Steadman, AnnMarie Seymour, Jessica Schuld, Shannon Monahan, Samantha Miller, Angela Keough. (Photo provided)

Western New York Democrat will challenge incumbent Reed

Jamestown-area's John Plumb, former military aide in the Obama White House, enters race

JAMESTOWN, July 8, 2015 -- A Jamestown native who served as a military aide in the Obana White House has thrown his hat in the ring for the Democratic nomination for Congress in the 23rd Distirct.

John F. Plumb, 45 -- who recently returned to the Jamestown area to prepare for his challenge to incumbent Republican Tom Reed -- served recently as director of defense policy and strategy at the National Security Council. He is a U.S. Navy Reserve Commander.

His candidacy -- which he said was prompted by friends who think he will pose a strong challenge -- was greeted by Reed in a statement Tuesday that read, in part: "Choice is what democracy is all about."

Plumb's announcement was supported by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which helped arrange a Plumb interview with The Buffalo News -- an involvement, say some observers, that might mean Reed will find himself in a tougher race than he encountered last year.

Reed was challenged last time by Tompkins County legislator Martha Robertson, who was targeted by the Reed camp in a series of negative, sometimes mocking ads. The result was a rout of Robertson. The challenger before that was Nate Shinagawa, also a Tompkins County legislator, who came within a few percentage points of the incumbent -- prompting the more aggressive Reed campaign against Robertson.

While Tompkins County is heavily Democratic, the 23rd district -- encompassing a wide swath of the Southern Tier, from Chautauqua to Tioga counties, and north past the Thruway in Seneca and Ontario counties -- is decidedly Republican, by a 160,000-135,000 margin, giving Reed the obvious advantage.

Plumb, born in Jamestown, was raised in nearby Randolph and graduated from high school there. He attended the University of Notre Dame on a ROTC scholarship, earned a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from the University of Colorado, did six years of active duty in the Navy, was a staff aide to Senator Ken Salazar, D-Colorado, and worked at the Pentagon on various defense and space issues before joining the National Security Council in the White House. He resigned that post to make his bid for Congress.

Plumb bought a house in June in Lakewood, west of Jamestown, as a base from which to make his Congressional run. He is single.

He said he has not yet started fund-raising, although a website has popped up seeking donations and volunteers to help in the campaign. When asked how much money he needs to raise, he said: "I don't have a number for you. It's basically as much money as you can raise."

Robertson spent $2.3 million in her failed campaign against Reed, who spent $3.47 million.

Plumb said he thinks Reed "puts himself before the region over and over" in his Congressional votes. Economic development, added the challenger, will be his top priority should he unseat the incumbent.

Photo in text: Congressional candidate John Plumb (Photo provided)

From left: Stephen Copp Jr. and Tim Hudson of Schuyler Ambulance, Watkins Glen Fire Department First Assistant Chief Charlie Scaptura, Kenneth Hill, and Cargill's Bob Moore and Thomas Gossett.

When Ken Hill collapsed at work, help arrived quickly

Gold Stars, Certificates of Recognition awarded

WATKINS GLEN, July 1, 2015 -- Ken Hill says he doesn't even remember it. He was working at Cargill that Tuesday night, April 28, 2015, at about 9 p.m., producing water softener pellets, and had just climbed onto a forklift and fastened his seatbelt.

And then there was nothing.

He slumped over onto the forklift's steering wheel, and by chance triggered its horn. That fortunate bit of fate alerted other workers that something was wrong, and within a short time Cargill's first-response team was on the scene, tending to Hill -- who had suffered cardiac arrest, the result of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which involves the thickening of the walls of the heart ventricles. That condition, sources will tell you, sometimes leads to sudden death in young athletes, but affects any age group.

Hill (pictured at right), 54, had a history of high blood pressure before his near-death experience. He was on medication for it, but says he "wasn't taking care of myself. I wasn't taking the meds like I should, and I was working way too many hours." He is a 13-year employee of the Cargill plant.

Of falling onto the steering wheel, and setting off the horn, and having the first responders act so quickly, he says: "If there were any other circumstances, this would have a different outcome. Considering what happened to me, everything went perfectly."

Hill, an Odessa resident, was present at a ceremony Wednesday outside the Schuyler Ambulance headquarters on South Decatur Street in Watkins Glen for the presentation of Gold Star of Life pins and Certificates of Recognition to those rescuers involved in saving him: Cargill's Bob Moore, Thomas Gossett and Kevin Newell, the Ambulance Corps' Tim Hudson and Stephen Copp Jr., and the Watkins Glen Fire Department rescue unit. About a dozen men and women from the fire department responded that night, and helped save Hill. Representing the fire department Wednesday was First Assistant Chief Charlie Scaptura.

Kudos also went out to the Odessa Fire Department, which prepared a landing zone in Odessa for a Guthrie Air helicopter that carried Hill to Arnot Ogden Hospital in Elmira. He was there for a week, and then transferred to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, where a defibrillator was installed in his body. Then he came home, where he rests and takes it a day at a time. He was telling a friend at Wednesday's ceremony how he had ventured recently to Walmart for some shopping, and how the effort had tired him.

But he says he feels fine. He does some walking, and is more mindful of the medications prescribed for him. He says he is not close to returning to work yet; that November is the target date. In the meantime, he is regaining his strength and enjoying life. And on some days -- and most especially on Wednesday -- he is looking back to April 28, and to the help he received.

"I'll tell you," he said. "I have a newfound appreciation of the word 'caring.'"

He motioned around him, at Moore and Gossett and the other medical heroes of that Tuesday night two months earlier.

Those responders received the Gold Star of Life Wednesday from the Southern Tier Regional EMS Council, which says the honor "is intended to recognize excellence and foster achievement by those in EMS Systems whose acts and deeds stand out from the day-to-day excellence of that system." The Ambulance Service added Certificates of Recognition.

Among that night's responders, Cargill's Gossett was the first to arrive on the scene to help Hill, who had no pulse. According to a Cargill incident report, Moore then arrived and helped Gossett get Hill to the ground. Newell (not present Wednesday) then arrived and was sent to get the trauma bag and AED (automated external defibrillator) while Thomas and Moore applied CPR. When the AED was delivered by Newell, it was applied and analyzed, and shock initiated. After some more CPR, the Watkins Glen Fire Department EMTs arrived and took over the patient care.

According to a Schuyler Ambulance report, that action by the Cargill responders "was the turning point in the saving of this man's life. They are truly heroes. ... It is our honor to say thank you for a job well done."

Photo in text: The April 28 victim, now recovering: Kenneth E. Hill Sr. at Wednesday's presentation ceremony.

Pastor Jeremy Spencer in the old Odessa Baptist Church.
The final worship service there is June 28.

Odessa Baptist Church building being sold;
new facility is planned on Fowler Place

Special to The Odessa File

ODESSA, NY, June 25, 2015 -- The Odessa Baptist Church is moving from its current location at 200 Maple Avenue in Odessa and planning a new worship facility -- all the result, church leaders say, of high maintenance and utility costs in the old building, inadequate parking, and handicap access limitations.

The last worship service in the current church building -- at the corner of Maple Avenue and Church Street in Odessa -- will be on Sunday morning, June 28, at 10:30 a.m. That service will conclude with a brief ceremony in the church building and a prayer circle on church land at 111 Fowler Place in Odessa -- the four-acre site of the planned new church building.

In preparation for the move and the pending sale of its current church building -- all that remains is the closing, said Pastor Jeremy Spencer -- the church has moved most of its records, supplies, and ministry equipment to a storage container.

The church plans in the near future to conduct worship services at the American Legion Hall across from the Schuyler County Veterans Park on Route 228 north of Odessa, meeting at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings. The first service in this new location will be on July 5. Construction of the new church -- a one-story building with built-in handicap accessibility, and with plenty of parking -- will be completed "best case, in a year," said Spencer. "But maybe in a year and a half or two years."

The church offices are now located at 102 Maple Avenue -- Spencer's residence -- in the village of Odessa, just down the street from the old church. The phone number and mailing address of the church remain unchanged.

The sale, to an individual, includes the former parsonage next door to the church. It was last used in that capacity more than a dozen years ago, and more recently has been utilized for office space for a couple of agencies, and for Sunday School. The buyer reportedly anticipates apartments in that building; plans for the church are unknown.

According to Spencer and parishioners, the Baptist Church, which has more than 60 in its congregation and several multi-generational families attending regularly, has become too expensive, its maintenance and utility costs draining the church coffers of funds that could be used for programs benefitting the community.

The land upon which the new church will be built is located on the eastern edge of the village, between Fowler Place and Rte. 224. The new structure will be visible from both roads, adding to its appeal and approachability, said one member of the congregation. With all functions of the building on one level, said another, the new church will leave behind the problem of handicap accessibility. The current church is essentially on three levels -- the entrance foyer; the church proper, located up a stairwell to the left of the foyer (with access aided by a lift chair); and rest rooms, the church kitchen, a classroom and a fellowship hall down several steps from the foyer, without any chair aids.

With the old church being vacated, Bible Studies, Sunday School programs, meetings of the American Heritage Girls Troop 412, and other weekly programs and meetings of the church will continue at other locations. For more information about the locations of these programs, interested persons can call the church at 594-2800 or send an e-mail to

The Odessa Baptist Church was founded in 1841. It has occupied its Greek-Revival style church building and has used it to minister to the village of Odessa since 1856 -- for 159 years.

Photos in text:

From top: The Odessa Baptist Church as viewed from the southeast corner; a marker on the building; and Jeremy Spencer, who has been pastor for 13 years, and will continue in that capacity.

The American Legion hall alongside Rte. 228 outside Odessa will host the Baptist Church services following the church closing and before construction of a new church.

Gardiners renew vows; celebration set

Special to
The Odessa File

CATHARINE, June 23, 2015 -- On June 21st, Pat and Gene Gardiner renewed their wedding vows, celebrating their 65th Wedding Anniversary. The renewal took place at St. John's Episcopal Church in Catharine with their daughters by their side.

Patricia A. Lewis married Eugene A Gardiner on June 25, 1950 with Robert Hall and Joan Webster (Hall) as attendants.

Pat and Gene have made their home in the Odessa area since the early 1950s. They raised four daughters, Susan (Richard) Manges of Elmira, Dawn (Ted) Larison of Cortland, Karen Gardiner of Horseheads, and Denise (Mark) Switzer of Odessa. They also have eight granddaughters and eight great grandchildren.

Friends and family are invited to celebrate with Pat & Gene on June 27th from 2-4 p.m. at St. John's Episcopal Church in Catharine. Light refreshments will be served. No gifts, please!

Photo in text: Pat and Gene Gardiner (Photo provided)

Scout builds bocce-ball court for Arc

Special to
The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, June 18, 2015 -- Jack LaDouce, a member of Boy Scouts of America Troop 101, recently built a bocce ball court at The Arc of Schuyler, a project that helped earn him an Eagle Scout rank.

LaDouce, 17, whose aunt receives services through The Arc, approached the agency in February about an Eagle Scout project that would allow him to have a positive impact on people with disabilities. The Arc suggested the installation of a bocce ball court, which would allow people with disabilities, including people who use wheelchairs, to enjoy physical activity outdoors.

“I was looking to do something that involved construction,' LaDouce said, "and my mom was really excited that I was working with The Arc since they have done so much for my aunt.”

As soon as the ground thawed, LaDouce set to work on his project – a 5-by-20-foot court complete with a drainage system to help maintain it. The project required LaDouce to propose a written plan for Scout Board approval, then to enlist the help of friends from his troop and obtain donated supplies and the services of an excavator.

In just 10 days, LaDouce had the bocce ball court assembled and ready for play at The Arc’s 210 12th Street property under the shade of a tree, near a picnic table where people can enjoy their lunch and play a game of bocce.

“Construction is my hobby and I’ve done small projects, but this is one of the bigger things I’ve built,” LaDouce said. "I was really happy to see it all done. It came out just the way I wanted it to.”

Carole Sullivan, The Arc’s Assistant Director of Day Services, has been LaDouce’s project liaison at The Arc. “We have been so impressed by Jack," she said. "We’ve been very lucky to get him and his friends and family involved with The Arc, and we look forward to a continued relationship with the Boy Scouts and local youth.”

LaDouce’s Scout Leader, Dan Carpenter, has been impressed too. “Jack has always been an exemplary scout,” Carpenter said. “He’s excelled in school, track, swimming, and now he’s following in his brother’s footsteps to Annapolis, Maryland.”

LaDouce graduates in the top 10 of his class from Elmira High School this month and will join the United States Naval Academy in July. He plans to serve as a Navy officer and pursue a Bachelor’s degree.

Carpenter reports that LaDouce received his Eagle Scout rank, the highest advancement rank in scouting, in May. With LaDouce’s encouragement, a fellow scout will continue working with The Arc to enhance the bocce court area by adding a cement pad this summer. The cement will make the court more accessible to people using wheelchairs.

“Before I met the staff and people at The Arc, I didn’t know much about it other than it was a place where people like my aunt could go to work, volunteer, and take classes," said LaDouce. "My family is thankful for all The Arc does.”

The Arc -- a not for profit organization that provides supports to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.-- is seeking volunteer assistance to add to its outdoor recreation space. Interested volunteers may call 607-535-6934. Learn more at

Photos in text:

Top: People at The Arc enjoy playing on the new bocce ball court.
Bottom: Jack LaDouce of Elmira earned his Eagle Scout rank by building a bocce ball court at The Arc of Schuyler for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

SFLW awards scholarship

Special to The Odessa File

SCHUYLER COUNTY, June 17, 2015 -- A $500 scholarship was awarded to Meghan Coates, a Schuyler County high school senior, at the Leaders of Tomorrow Annual Celebration held June 15 by the Southern Finger Lakes Women, a Chapter of New York State Women, Inc.,

Meghan was accompanied by her mother, Mary Coates. The ceremony was held at the home of Lisa Rhoads, a member of Southern Finger Lakes Women

Meghan Coates is first in her class at the Odessa-Montour High School. She has been active in her community as well as school activities throughout her high school career. She has a love for theater, participating in 18 plays and directing one between 2005-2015. She will be attending the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Los Angeles, California.

"The Southern Finger Lakes Women congratulate Meghan for her academic achievements," said the SFLW in a press release, "and are happy to help support her in her post-graduate plans."

New York State Women, Inc., provides members with professional development, networking, and career advancement resources. Its mission is to achieve equity for all women in the workplace through advocacy, education and information.

The Southern Finger Lakes Women Chapter meets on the third Monday of each month. For more information about the SFLW, contact Gloria Hutchings at (607) 594-2489, JoAnne Krolak at (607) 732-1171, or visit the chapter website at

Photo in text: Meghan Coates, left, the 2015 scholarship winner, and Kathleen Clark, SFLW Scholarship Chair. (Photo provided)

The Odessa-Montour High School Marching Band was among the parade participants.

Parade highlights final day of 59th annual Montour Falls fest

MONTOUR FALLS, June 13, 2015 -- Fire trucks, marching bands, floats, old tractors and cars, and an appreciative crowd marked the 59th annual Montour Falls Firemen's Festival Grand Parade on Main Street Saturday during the festival's final day.

A chicken barbecue started the day on the festival grounds, and music in the entertainment tent by Steve Southworth and the Rockabilly Rays topped the evening. Rides and games and food were popular throughout the day.

There were several participating bands in the parade, which drew a crowd that lined Main Street from start to finish. The bands came from the Fairport Fire Department, Canaseraga High School, Odessa-Montour High School, the Clyde-Saxton Fire Department, Addison High School, and Jasper-Troupsburg High School, and included the Caledonian Highlanders and the 250-member Corning-Painted Post Hawks Marching Band.

Firefighting and rescue vehicles in the parade came from Montour Falls, Watkins Glen, Odessa, Valois-Logan-Hector, Dundee, Himrod, Branchport, Elmira Heights, Burdett, Dresden, Big Flats, Tyrone, North Corning, Hammondsport, Wayne, Enfield, Pine City, Lodi, Millport, South Seneca, Mecklenburg, Campbell and Hornby. Also present: a privately owned 1944 tanker brush truck that was in service in Odessa for 50 years, from 1946-1996.

After the parade, the spectators left for home or ventured to the festival grounds, where rides, games, food and music awaited.

Photo in text: Members of the Montour Falls Fire Department march up Main Street.

Members of the Caledonian Highlanders (left) and the Addison High School band.

Firefighter Bill Haeffner rode in the parade aboard a Watkins Glen Fire Department truck.

The Pine City Fire Department brought a truck to Montour Falls,
one of many in the parade.

Montour Falls Fire Chief Billy Thomas (left) and parade announcer Jim Howell.

Horses led the Freedom Village parade entry.

Drummers in the 250-member Corning-Painted Post Hawks Marching Band.

An impromptu song with volunteers led by Kim Laursen (right) was held while the talent show judges decided on the evening's winning acts. The group sang Katy Perry's "Roar."

Opening night features games, rides, food and a talent show

MONTOUR FALLS, June 12, 2015 -- The rides started, the games of chance opened, the food booths sold burgers, dogs, cotton candy and a particular favorite -- fried dough -- and the 4th annual Expo Showdown talent show was held in the entertainment tent.

It was opening night Thursday of the 59th annual Montour Falls Firemen's carnival -- and everyone was happy to see the weather cooperating, with pleasant temperatures under cloudy skies. Rain was threatening on Friday and Saturday, so any favorable weather was prized.

The turnout was sizable, but there didn't appear to be any long lines, save at the fried dough stand. And quite a few folks ventured into the tent to watch the amateur acts -- with performers ranging from 12 years of age to a white-haired gentleman who won in the adult category.

The judging of the acts went like this:

Ages 12-16:
1st place: Kassidy Samuels singing "I Got the Boy"
2nd place: Hannah Rosier singing "Letter Bomb"
3rd place: Noelle Chamberlain singing "You Know I'm No Good"

Ages 17-21:
1st place: Matt and Andy Stevenson playing "Ole Red"
2nd place: Mitch McElroy singing "Feeling Good"
3rd place: Joe Raymond singing "Original Song"

1st place: Harold Brown singing "Sweet Caroline"
2nd place: Darlene Abidin singing "Stand By Your Man"
3rd place: Peggy Saunders singing "Just Another Woman in Love."

There were 26 acts, with Abidin, McElroy, Matt Stevenson, Saunders, Brown, Allison Heichel, Kacey Samuels and Sarafina LoPresti each performing twice, either solo, in a duet or both. Other performers included Sarah Norton, Hayley Burke (with Hailey Ferguson on guitar), Molly Heichel, Michael Monroe, Jasmine Monroe, Britney Visscher, Taylor Sykes, Julee Gillemot, Emma Malnoske, and Josh Markley.

The schedule on Friday called for the grounds to open at 6 p.m., with the evening's entertainment highlight being Nik & the Nice Guys. The grounds open at 12 noon on Saturday -- with highlights including a chicken barbecue, the annual 5 p.m. parade up Main Street, and entertainment at night by Steve Southworth and the Rockabilly Rays. For details, click here.

Photos in text:

From top: Harold Brown sings "Sweet Caroline"; Britney Visscher (left) and Taylor Sykes sing "Can't Fight the Moonlight"; Matt Stevenson (left) and Andy Stevenson perform "Ole Red."

Left: Sisters Allison (left) and Molly Heichel sing "Wanna Be."
Emma Malnoske had the crowd clapping with her rendition of "Wings."

And scenes elsewhere at the festival:

Aboard a ride.

A youngster throws a dart at a balloon. He hit it, and won a prize.

Posing for -- and reacting to -- the camera.

The Fun Slide was a popular stop.

Wine tastings and sales were plentiful Saturday at the Wine & Food gathering at Clute Park in Watkins Glen. The event concludes today (Sunday).

There were activities galore ...

SCHUYLER COUNTY, May 31, 2015 -- There were plenty of things to see and do around Schuyler County Saturday.

There was, for starters, the dedication of the barn-styled shed behiind the Dutton S. Peterson Memorial Library in Odessa late Saturday morning. It is now the Carpenter-Sand Memorial Book Barn, in honor of the late Bob Carpenter and Bob Sand, both prominent members of the community. A nearby bench was also dedicated in memory of another civic leader, Charlie Richards. Representatives from all three families were on hand for the occasion.

Then there was the Schuyler County Relay for Life, held this year on the Odessa-Montour school athletic field and -- thanks to rain -- in the gymnasium for a while, too. The event, an annual gathering in the fight against cancer that was in past years held on the Watkins Glen High School athletic field, attracted a number of pledge-raising teams along with cancer survivors and their caregivers.

The first day of the two-day 2015 Wine & Food event at Clute Park in Watkins Glen drew a large crowd buying wine by the case. More than 1,000 people had entered the grounds quickly and filled the three large tents where wine sales and food stands awaited. Before tabulating numbers, organizer Jeff Dill said the one-day attendance might very fell surpass last year's two-day total. The gathering resumes today (Sunday), running from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

There was also a book launch Saturday afternoon at the Damiani winery up Rt. 414 north of Burdett featuring novelist Cynthia Neale, artist Maggie Martin and the newly published cookbook written by Neale and illustrated by Martin, Pavlova in a Hat Box. The gathering involved book signings, readings, and some tasty finger foods.

And come Saturday night, it was time for the first-ever Schuyler County Semi-Formal (pictured above) at the Watkins Glen Community Center. Men and women who perhaps wanted to revisit the magic of their high school prom dressed up for an evening of dancing and -- not available at their original proms -- drinking. The event -- featuring an open bar run by Mura Bella's and music by Mastermind Sound -- served as a fund-raiser for the Schuyler County United Way.

Photos in text:

Top: A youngster hugs the book character Splat the Cat during activities -- including a picnic and a book sale -- at the Dutton S. Peterson Library in Odessa.
Bottom: Four Schuyler County Semi-Formal attendees pose for a picture.

Left: Novelist Cynthia Neale at the launch of her new cookbook. Right: Drummer- singer Kevin Thornton of the band The Profuslies during a performance at the Wine & Food event.

Cancer Society signs with varying messages and sponsored by local businesses lined the track at the Relay for Life, held on O-M's Charles Martin Field.

Wine tastings are a popular staple of the Wine & Food event at Clute Park.

The new sign adorning the book barn behind the library in Odessa.

Left: Wine & Food event organizer Jeff Dill. Right: Chef William was creating some tasty dishes at one of the many food stands at Clute Park.

Artist Maggie Martin at Damiani Wine Cellars, in front of her originial watercolor used for the cover of the cookbook written by Cynthia Neale and illustrated by Martin.

The team representing Schuyler Hospital and Cayuga Medical Center at the Relay for Life.

An open bar, a festive setting, music and dancing marked the Schuyler Semi-Formal.

Assemblyman Phil Palmesano addresses the gathering at the Memorial Day service at the Schuyler County Veterans Memorial Park near Odessa.

Honoring our fallen veterans

WATKINS GLEN, May 26, 2015 -- Memorial Day services were held in Montour Falls and Watkins Glen and outside Odessa Monday to honor those military men and women who have sacrificed their lives in defense of our freedom.

The annual ceremony near the base of Shequagah Falls in Montour came first, with the waters of the falls offering a placid backdrop to the music, speeches, volleys of gunfire and color-guard marching that marked the occasion.

The event was emceed by Montour Falls Mayor John King, who introduced the guest speaker, Dr. Stephen Spaulding, a West Point graduate and U.S. Army veteran who operates a Family Practice of medicine with his wife, Theresa, in the Montour House.

Dr. Spaulding said his message to those gathered for the Memorial Day service was this: "Never forget how blessed you are to be an American."

He said he was "glad and honored to have been able to serve my country," and noted that every sacrifice made by our war dead was "a tragedy" that in its "longer-term effects" meant that there were "children never born. People who would (otherwise) be standing here, we never knew; (they were) neighbors we never had ... We salute and pray for our beloved dead, and consider what might have been" had they not sacrificed their lives.


There were two ceremonies in Watkins Glen, one at the Naval Memorial near the Seneca Harbor pier, where prayers were said, "Taps" was played, and a bouquet of flowers was dropped into the water from the pier in honor of fallen Navy veterans. The other ceremony was in front of the Schuyler County Courthouse. Both events were overseen by veteran Tony Specchio, a longtime emcee at such ceremonies.

Keynote speaker at the courthouse was retired Schuyler County Judge J.C. Argetsinger, who served in the Army as an infantry officer and was later a trial lawyer with the U.S. Department of Justice and then Schuyler County District Attorney before being elected judge.

The theme of Argetsinger's speech was "the constant threat of totalitarianism," which he said is "like a brush fire that we keep putting out. There were the Nazis, and then the Soviets, and now the radical Muslim militants. We need to be ever vigilant."

The freedom created in our country by our forefathers "is only 240 years old," he said, which in the scope of world history constitutes "a blink of an eye ... Despots are always trying to centralize their power and take away our freedom. Unfortunately, in order for us to keep it, families and their young sons and daughters will always be called upon to protect it, often at great sacrifice."


The ceremony at the Veterans Memorial Park on Rt. 228 outside Odessa featured as its keynote speaker Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, who said we "need to pause and reflect on the sacrifices made" by so many veterans, and to "renew our commitment" to the principles and ideals of a free and democratic way of life made possible by those who sacrificed their lives in war.

He said it was important that the families of those fallen veterans know that "the bravery and sacrifice" of their loved ones "made an enormous difference in the history of the world."

He said we "should do a little bit more" to thank our surviving veterans -- whether by visiting them, sending care packages to those in need, "saying a prayer of thanks and appreciation, or walking up to them to say 'Thank you.'"

Photos in text:

Top: Montour Falls keynote speaker Dr. Stephen Spaulding.
Second: A parade down Franklin Street preceded the ceremony at the courthouse in Watkins.
Third: The Watkins ceremony's main speaker, J.C. Argetsinger (left), with emcee Tony Specchio.
Bottom: Some of the members of the Community Chorus as the group -- directed by Kim Laursen -- sang "Battle Hymn of the Republic" at the Veterans Memorial Park ceremony.


Left: Bernie Riley performs "Taps" at the ceremony near the Naval Monument in Watkins Glen. Right: Bagpiper Tom Leslie performs "Amazing Grace" during the Montour Falls service.

A Memorial Day volley by members of American Legion Post 676 punctuated the Montour Falls ceremony, held near the base of Shequagah Falls.

And finally, from Joan Scott, comes the photo below of Dylan Hayward, a Cub Scout from Pack 3050 of Odessa, during the ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park:

'I know my life will always have challenges'

WATKINS GLEN, Jan. 15, 2015 -- When Watkins Glen High School senior Alexis Gonzalez was honored Thursday by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club at its weekly luncheon as its WGHS Student of the Month for January, teacher Kelsey Wood described the honoree as "my hero" for all that Alexis has accomplished in overcoming serious health conditions, and for the positive attitude she has exhibited along the way.

Alexis prepared a speech for the occasion, but was unable to present it because of laryngitis. It was read to Rotarians by her mother, Michelle Simiele, with Alexis standing by her side, her trademark smile on her face. The text of that speech follows:

"I am truly honored to be receiving this award today. There were times when I wondered if I was ever going to get out of high school, and now I can't believe that my senior year is half over.

"I have enjoyed growing up in a small town and attending Watkins Glen High School. I plan on continuing my education close to home, either at Corning Community College or the Arnot School of Nursing.

"I decided to go into nursing after I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. As you can imagine, this diagnosis was devastating to me. I lost my vision almost completely on March 5, 2013. This condition is called Optic Neuritis and it left me temporarily blind. In combination with MS, I have another neurologic condition called Small Fiber Neuropathy. This causes excruciating pain, and in the beginning I was unable to walk. It took months for my doctors to identify what was wrong with me, and I was in and out of the hospital in the spring of 2013.

"These circumstances made school very difficult, but through the support of my teachers, friends and parents, I was able to persevere.

"I now know that my life will always have challenges, and I hope to someday help others through the field of nursing. I believe that through this experience I can give back some of what was given to me through my health care professionals. Their care is the reason why I am able to live a normal life and work toward my dreams and goals."

Photo in text: Alexis Gonzalez at the Rotary Club luncheon.

IC student plans 53-mile walk to school

Special to The Odessa File

GENEVA, Jan. 13, 2015 -- Rather than driving to school, 19-year-old Ithaca College sophomore Faith Meckley has decided to take 5 days to walk the 53 miles that stand between her home in Geneva and Ithaca College.

Her walk will begin January 14 and end January 18 when she arrives on campus and moves into her dorm in the Sustainably Conscious Living and Learning Community. Meckley says she plans to walk at a pace of about 10 miles a day, and will camp outside in her tent each night. She will carry everything she needs on her back. Her route can be viewed here, with approximations of where her campsites will be along the way.

Meckley -- a leading member of the We Are Seneca Lake group protesting the approved storage of methane and the proposed storage of propane and butane in abandoned Crestwood energy firm salt caverns along the western shore of Seneca Lake -- says the primary purpose of the walk is to deepen her relationship with the Finger Lakes Region, her lifelong home, as she walks along the shores of both Seneca and Cayuga Lakes. She says she hopes to inspire others to appreciate and care for their own home regions.

Meckley is returning to college after taking the Fall 2014 semester off to participate in the Great March for Climate Action. The Climate March traversed the country from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. between March and November of last year to demand action on climate change from both world leaders and everyday citizens. She participated for almost two thirds of the March from May to October, walking from Taos, New Mexico to Youngstown, Ohio.

“Before the Climate March I would have thought that walking from Geneva to Ithaca was crazy, but now it’s totally within the realm of possibility,” Meckley said.

The Climate March averaged about 15 miles a day across many terrains, including the Mojave Desert in Arizona, the mountains of New Mexico and Colorado and the Great Plains. The March also faced extreme weather conditions, including torrential rains, hails, a blizzard, and a few tornado warnings. Meckley said the March challenged her physically and spiritually and boosted her confidence in her physical ability.

“I had never been more impressed with the human body than I was while walking on the March,” Meckley said. “There was one marcher, Miriam Kashia, who was 71 and she walked every step of the 3,000 miles. And another, Jimmy Betts, walked about 40 miles in a 25-hour period to catch up with the March. With practice, you can get your body into a rhythm and it feels like you can do anything.”

Meckley says her time on the March inspired her to attempt walking to school. Her walk to Ithaca College will be different from the Climate March in that she will be doing it on her own and in the cold of an Upstate New York January.

Meckley is a journalism major at Ithaca College’s Roy H. Park School of Communications. She is also pursuing a minor in creative writing and has recently switched her second minor from international politics to outdoor pursuits -- also inspired by the Climate March.

Photo in text: Faith Meckley speaking at a We Are Seneca Lake rally. (File photo)

Fire shoots through a window on the building's north end while smoke billows from the cupola.

Fire strikes, heavily damages historic building in Montour

MONTOUR FALLS, Nov. 3, 2014 -- Fire of undetermined origin struck the historic Cook Mansion -- also known as the Barton House -- Sunday night in Montour Falls, leaving behind heavy damage.

Firefighters from around Schuyler County, as well as from Horseheads, Elmira Heights, Town & Country and Dundee, responded to the scene, located at 203 South Genesee Street. The building has recently been serving as a Bed & Breakfast.

Nobody was reported injured in the blaze, which started around 7 p.m. on the third floor, or attic area, of the structure. Officials said the grown son of the owner was present, as were at least four Bed & Breadfast guests. One, Ramon Milo of Manhattan, had checked in to the B&B with his wife an hour before the fire began. They stopped here on a return trip home after visiting Toronto, and had sampled wineries in our area earlier in the day. Another guest, Curtis Robinson of Colorado, said he smelled smoke as he and his wife drove off to dinner, but thought it was coming from some other location. They discovered upon their return that it had emanated from the B&B, and that they had likely lost their travel belongings.

The building, on the National Register of Historic Places, is located in what is known as the village's Glorious T of historic structures. It was built in the 1870s by Elbert Cook, brother of the man often referred to as the Father of Schuyler County, Charles Cook. The building passed to the distinguished Barton family near the turn into the 20th century, and remained in the family for almost 100 years. It has since been owned in turn by artist Joyce Stillman, artist Jill Drummond, John and Gerri Benedict, and Carol Pardini Hagopian and family. She was reportedly in Europe at the time of the blaze, traveling with her sister.

When firefighters arrived, flames were seen shooting from an attic window on the building's north end. It was difficult to fight, one said, because of the limited access -- a narrow stairway leading to the attic through the building's cupola. At one point, flames suddenly shot from the west side of the building, above the roof. Smoke was thick in the attic and cupola.

Nonetheless, the fire was knocked down before the flames could spread farther, prompting Montour Falls Fire Chief Jeff Confer to call it "a good stop."

Fire and smoke damage were primarily limited to the building's upper section, although officials said there was extensive water damage on the first two floors of the structure. The building is insured, and its basic structure was not considered compromised. Renovation, various officials said, was a likelihood.

The Manhattan guest, Mr. Milo, said he and his wife had found alternate lodging for the night at a motel in Corning. Their room had been on the south end of the B&B, on the second floor -- well away from the fire. Their belongings, including their luggage and an iPad and iPhone, were retrieved by firefighters and delivered to them.

It was not clear where the Robinsons were going to stay, although they were scheduled to depart the next morning for Colorado Springs. The couple had been in the area to visit their daughter, a freshman at Cornell University. They had spent three nights in the B&B, in a room directly beneath where the fire struck. Robinson (right) was told it was unlikely any of his possessions, including a laptop, had escaped damage.

The Red Cross was on hand to determine lodging needs for members of the Hagopian family who had been present. It was not clear how many were there, but one of the guests, Mr. Milo, said a couple of children were present with the owner's son.

This was not the first time fire had touched the building. According to one longtime firefighter on the scene, there was a fire in the building -- also in its attic area -- back in the 1970s that left extensive damage. This jibed with what one area resident familiar with the structure had said -- that charred timbers were visible in a portion of the attic in recent years.

The building, with nine bedrooms and eight bathrooms, contains 5,828 square feet of space. Built in the Victorian Italianate style, it sits on a 5-acre lot.

Photos in text: Flames flare above the building; the sign with the building's current title; and B&B guest Curtis Robinson of Colorado.

Firefighters attacked the blaze with water from ground-based and ladder-based hoses.

The Grand Prix Festival drew a crowd Friday to Franklin Street. (Photo by Liz Fraboni)

Spectators flock to Watkins' annual Grand Prix Festival

Crowd fills Franklin Street; MG is highlighted car

WATKINS GLEN, Sept. 6, 2014 -- The crowd was thick, vintage autos in abundance, and the heat index high Friday as the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Festival returned to the streets of this village for its annual celebration of auto racing, an event that accentuates the allure of sports cars.

The festival, sponsored by the Chemung Canal Trust Company, highlighted the MG, a British car that has been racing in the Glen since the very first competition through the streets there in 1948.

This was one of a number of MG anniversary celebrations this year -- among them: the 60th anniversary of the Collier Brothers Memorial Trophy Race; the 55th anniversary of the first full, all-MG races held in the United States; and the 50th anniversary of the New England MG-T Register, which sends many members to the Grand Prix Festival each year.

The national MG Vintage Racers organization selected the Watkins Glen weekend as its focus event for 2014.

Hundreds of iconic cars -- MG and otherwise -- were brought to Watkins Glen Friday from near and far by owners who wanted to display them, enjoy the camaraderie with other vintage-car owners and auto fans, and drive the original 6.6-mile road-race course on the streets of Watkins Glen and in the hills outside it.

Racing history aficionados and sports car fans were treated to the presence of many striking and memorable cars throughout the day.

The historic Smalley’s Garage on Franklin Street was the site of the day’s first event at 9:30 a.m. -- a portrayal of race car technical inspections. The day ended at 8 p.m. with a fireworks display at Watkins Glen State Park, with the world-renowned gorge as a backdrop.

In between, the Corning Concours d’Elegance at the Franklin Street entrance to Watkins Glen State Park offered beautiful cars on display. A panel discussion by MG experts and owners was presented in Lafayette Park by the International Motor Racing Research Center.

The festival’s day-long centerpiece: laps by sports cars and vintage race cars around the original race circuit. That course was used in the first race in Watkins Glen on Oct. 2, 1948.

Cars of the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association arrived in the village in the late afternoon from the Watkins Glen International racetrack, where they were competing in the weekend’s Glenora Wine Cellars U.S. Vintage Grand Prix.

Those vintage race cars were on display on Franklin Street until 6:30 p.m., when they got the green flag in front of the Schuyler County Courthouse for “tribute” laps on the original road circuit.

Other participant events included five road rallies, including one for MGs only and one for vintage motorcycles only, and a just-for-fun parking lot obstacle course. Rally cars arrived downtown during the afternoon and parked in designated areas along Franklin Street – another opportunity to see some notable vehicles.

The Festival offered tastings of Finger Lakes wines presented by the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, a variety of food, and several motorsports vendors. The village’s restaurants, shops and gathering places also joined the spirit of the day’s celebration.

Free shuttle-bus service all day allowed visitors to park away from downtown traffic congestion.

The Festival was organized by a volunteer committee of the non-profit Watkins Glen Promotions.

Festival sponsors in addition to Chemung Canal included Glenora Wine Cellars, Lane’s Yamaha, Community Bank, Hector Wine Co., Watkins Glen International, Red Newt Cellars, Knapp Vineyards, Jerlando’s Ristorante & Pizza Co., Hagerty Classic Car Insurance, Rooster Fish Brewing Co., and the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce. The fireworks were sponsored by Maguire Chrysler of Watkins Glen.


Photos in text:

Top: A pair of cars come around the corner onto Franklin Street after traveling on the old race circuit.

Second: It was a Dog Day, with the temperature topping 90 on the Chemung Canal Trust Company thermometer.

Third: Santa made the festival, color coordinated with his car.

Fourth: Cars were on display in the State Park parking lot.

Fifth: Looking north on Franklin Street, which was filled with autos and festival fans.

Bottom: Some drivers wore head gear that embodied the festival's vintage theme.
(All photos by Liz Fraboni)

Festival participants come around the turn onto Franklin Street after completing a lap of the old 6.6-mile race circuit. (Photo by Liz Fraboni)

Cars and crowds mixed all day long. (Photo by Liz Fraboni)

A car mirror catches the passing festival action. (Photo by Liz Fraboni)

This colorful festival entry caught the eye of the spectators lining the streets.
(Photo by Liz Fraboni)

The scene Friday along Franklin Street in Watkins Glen. (Photo by Liz Fraboni)

Medical Center named in honor of Thurston

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, August 8, 2014 -- Watkins Glen International dedicated its infield care center Friday morning to the late Ernie Thurston, an area native and long-time safety and emergency services leader who passed away in November. The naming of the Ernie Thurston Medical Center took place at a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

A native of Watkins Glen, Thurston (right) returned to his hometown after serving as an Airman First Class in the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War. Shortly thereafter, Thurston served as deputy sheriff and fire coordinator for Schuyler County, and held public office as a county legislator. In 1985, he became Director of Race Operations at WGI, and eventually moved to Daytona Beach, FL and International Speedway Corporation headquarters, where he oversaw all race facilities and events as Corporate Coordinator of Track Safety and Emergency Services.

Thurston was posthumously named the 2014 Jim Bockoven Lifetime Achievement Award winner by NASCAR. The award recognizes the contributions an individual makes to the improvement of track services over the course of a career spanning 10 or more years.

“Ernie’s spirit and dedication were beyond compare and his name will forever be synonymous with American motorsports,” said WGI president Michael Printup. “Although often working behind the scenes, Ernie’s efforts were never taken for granted and will continue to ensure a safe experience at our facilities. No award or dedication can ever express our appreciation for his passion, which was a genuine gift to motorsports.”

Photo in text: Ernie Thurston

The Odessa Fire Department marches up Main Street in Montour Falls.

Excellent weather, great parade

MONTOUR FALLS, June 8, 2014 -- Two dozen fire departments, eight marching bands, floats, tractors, horses and assorted classic cars combined Saturday for an entertaining hour-long-plus 58th Annual Montour Falls Firemen's Parade on Main Street in this village.

With emcee Jim Howell describing the marching units and on occasion interacting with them, and with clear skies and a bright sun to accompany the proceedings, the event went off without a hitch ... almost.

Emergency personnel were called out just before the scheduled start of the event to tend to a woman who had apparently been felled by the heat alongside the parade route. After she was taken by ambulance to the hospital, the parade began, signaled by the fire department's siren.

Once it began, the crowd lining both sides of Main Street were treated to a long and varied parade, with marching bands from the Canaseraga, Jasper-Troupsburg, Odessa-Montour, Addison and Corning East high schools, and with the Corning Area Community Band, the Caledonian Highlanders and the Clyde-Saxton Fire Department Band out of Savannah, New York.

Twenty-four fire departments were represented, some with marchers. They came from Montour Falls, Elmira Heights, Burdett, Tyrone, Hammondsport, Dresden, North Corning, Odessa, Enfield, Pine City, Valois-Logan-Hector, Beaver Dams, Branchport/Keuka Park, Watkins Glen, Himrod, Dundee, Gibson, Clyde-Saxton, Penn Yan, Cohocton, Campbell, Mecklenburg, Millport and Wayne.

Judging resulted in several awards, including the following:

Best Float: 1st place, First Baptist Church of Montour Falls; 2nd place, the Harrington Family.
Mayor's Choice: Freedom Village.
Best Appearing Color Guard: Enfield Fire Department.
Oldest Piece of Equipment: Dresden Fire Department.

At the end, the crowd dispersed, many heading over to the festival grounds. There a chicken dinner and other foods awaited, along with rides and games. Later on, live music was provided in the entertainment tent by Steve Southworth and the Rockabilly Rays.

Photos in text:

From top: The Jasper-Troupsburg marching band; the Freedom Village float; and a member of the Addison High School marching band.

Left: Michelle Benjamin was among Old Havana Courthouse Theatre actors in the parade.
Four Dragons Martial Arts members marched, and displayed self-defense techniques.

Left: Members of the Montour Falls Fire Department marched near the front of the parade.
Right: Assemblyman Phil Palmesano distributed candy to the kids along the parade route.

Hayley Guild leads the Odessa-Montour High School band along Main Street.

Left: A member of the Canaseraga Central School marching band. Right: Passengers in the Tyrone Fire Truck wave to the crowd.

Left: Sgt. Steve Decker drove a Watkins Glen Police Department vehicle in the parade.
Right: A member of the Odessa-Montour marching band.

A girl tosses candy to the crowd from atop a Burdett Fire Department truck.

Left: Parade emcee Jim Howell. Right: Members of the American Heritage Girls Troop 412 of Odessa were among the marchers.

Steve Southworth (right) and the Rockabilly Rays provided entertainment Saturday night.

Bright lights dominated the festival grounds as business wound down on the final night.

Hayley Guild belts out "Bound To You" from the movie "Burlesque." She won first place in the 17-to-21 age category.

Expo Showdown a hit as festival begins

MONTOUR FALLS, June 6, 2014 -- The 58th annual Montour Falls Fire Department Festival got underway Thursday evening at the carnival grounds along Route 224 in Montour Falls, with rides, games, food and musical talent highlighting the evening.

With the midway opening for business at 6 p.m., the festival drew a crowd under threatening skies.

The entertainment tent drew a sizable audience for the third annual Expo Showdown, featuring local singing talent vying for prizes and glory before a three-judge panel. A total of 29 acts took the stage to deliver their music, many of them students from the Odessa-Montour School District, along with some adults.

The crowd favorite early on was a duet of "Soul Man" by Phil Humphries and Mitch McElroy, both O-M seniors, dressed as the Blue Brothers. They took second place in the 17-to-21 age group.

Other hits included Ashton Stadelmaier's rendition of "A Thousand Years" (third place in the 17-to-21 age group); Tess Visscher's "Lilac Wine"; Amanda Pyhtila's "I Never Told You"; Hayley Guild's "Bound To You" (first place in the 17-to-21 age group); Matt Stephenson's "Folsom Prison Blues"; Pam Kelly's "That's What I Like About You"; Josh Markley's "She Will Be Loved" (first place, adults); and a duet by Julee Gillemot and Maria Scata of an original song they composed and arranged, "Alone With You" (second place, 12-to-16 age group).

Friday night, the entertainment tent would be filled with the music of Nik and The Nice Guys, and on Saturday night by Steve Southworth and the Rockabilly Rays.

The annual firemen's parade along Main Street in Montour Falls was set for Saturday afternoon.

Photos in text:

Top: Josh Markley sings "She Will Be Loved." He won firt place among adult contestants.
Bottom: Maria Scata (left) and Julee Gillemot perform an original song, composed and arranged by them, titled "Alone With You."

A trio on one of the festival rides.

Phil Humphries, left, and Mitch McElroy perform "Soul Man."

Left: Food is one of the attractions of the festival. Right: Taylor Rounds exhibits a fish she won.

Left: Emma Raymond sings "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay."
Right: Tess Visscher performs "Lilac Wine."

Rides were underway through Saturday at the festival.

Nik and the Nice Guys performed in the entertainment tent Saturday night.

Schuyler Hall to induct 3

Oct. 23 celebration set to honor Peters, Anagnost, Elkins

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, Oct. 3, 2013 -- After a hiatus of four years, the Schuyler County Hall of Fame has announced the selection of three new members to be added to the Hall. The ceremony will take place from 5-7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 23 at Seneca Lodge.

After reviewing a number of nominations, the Hall of Fame Selection Committee picked the following for their contributions to Schuyler County:

William Peters: Peters owned and operated a successful insurance agency in downtown Watkins Glen for several decades. After his arrival in Watkins, he immersed himself in many organizations throughout the county. He served on the following boards of directors: Schuyler County United Way as Chairman of the Fund Drive; Schuyler County Chamber of Commerce as Vice-President; Watkins-Montour Rotary Club as President; Sullivan Trail Boy Scout Council; Schuyler Hospital as long-time member and Chairman; Schuyler Hospital Health Foundation; Glen National Bank; REDEC; Grand Prix Corporation; and Five Lakes Development.

Peters was named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club, and was also awarded “Business Person of the Year” by the Schuyler County Chamber of Commerce. Peters actively participated in a multitude of fundraising efforts across the county and was named “The Honorary Chair of the Family and Friends Campaign” by the Schuyler Health Foundation.

Nick G. Anagnost: Born to Greek immigrants in the heart of the Depression, Anagnost graduated from Sherburne High School and Albany College of Pharmacy. In 1966, he and his wife Anne moved to Montour Falls as he became a partner in Montour Pharmacy. A few years later, he became sole owner, and rapid expansion began in earnest. Over the next four decades, the store grew tenfold.

Anagnost is held in high esteem by his peers across the state. He mentored dozens of student employees, many whom went on to become pharmacists. He was just as giving to his customers. If a customer couldn't afford a prescription, Anagnost was known to take fresh eggs or homemade jam as payment. He has the distinction of being the longest, continuous working pharmacist in the history of Montour Falls. He has been an enthusiastic booster of his "hometown." He coached the Montour Pharmacy Little League team for many years, and served the village as a trustee and youth commissioner.

He has been a quiet but generous benefactor and friend to many in the community, various organizations, and to the Odessa-Montour Central School sports booster club. He was named to the school's sports Hall of Fame in 2008 as a benefactor. Anagnost was named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Watkins-Montour Rotary Club, and was also awarded the "Lifetime Achievement Award" by the Schuyler County Chamber of Commerce. He recently endowed a tuition assistance scholarship to Albany College of Pharmacy available annually to a graduate of Odessa-Montour Central School or Watkins Glen Central School.

Lt. William Elkins: Elkins came back from World War II with German shrapnel in his knee and Cornell Law School on his mind. Before there was a Legal Services Corp., before pro bono counsel for the poor, and before Miranda vs. Arizona, there was Attorney William Elkins. Elkins owned and practiced in a solo private practice law firm in Burdett, NY for over 30 years. He is renowned for his brilliant legal mind and his humble, generous, and honest approach with his clients.

Elkins was a probation officer and a public defender for Schuyler County for a number of years. He was a member of and/or volunteered his time with the following organizations: the Lions Club, the Grange, the Burdett Players, the American Legion, the Reading Community Church, the Burdett Methodist Church, Glen Baptist Church, and the Conservative Party. Elkins was the recipient of a Purple Heart in 1945. He was, the Selection Committee recognized, "a man of the people whom Thomas Jefferson would have immediately recognized as a lighthouse on the shore of American Law."

The selection of these three individuals brings Schuyler County Hall of Fame membership to a total of 38 people, dating back to the inaugural Class of 1995.

All family and friends are invited to attend the ceremony. The Brubaker family of Seneca Lodge is sponsoring the induction, with Carol Bower Catering providing light snacks and hors d’oeuvres. A cash bar will be available.

Overall sponsorship for the Hall of Fame is co-provided by the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce and a sponsor who wishes to remain anonymous. Plaques honoring Hall of Fame members can be found on the walls of the first floor hallway in the County Office Building.

To RSVP for the induction, contact the Chamber of Commerce at 607-535-4300 or email

Photos in text: From the top: William Peters, Nick Anagnost and William Elkins.

Rondinaro gains induction into DCI Hall

Special to The Odessa File

WATKINS GLEN, May 21, 2013 -- Four individuals, including Watkins Glen native Steve Rondinaro, have been selected for induction into the Drum Corps International (DCI) Hall of Fame, which honors individuals who have left their mark on the marching music activity.

From instructors to designers to innovators, the Hall is made up of more than 100 men and women influential in the history of drum and bugle corps. The new inductees will be recognized in August, during the week of the 2013 DCI World Championships in Indianapolis.

Rondinaro has hosted DCI’s television and movie theater broadcasts since the late 1970s.

“For life-long drum corps fans, it’s practically impossible to imagine watching the DCI World Championships on television or in movie theaters without being engrossed by what Steve says about the drum corps activity,” DCI Staff Writer Michael Boo said. “Through the airwaves, he brings people right into the stadium.”

Rondinaro’s drum corps career started when, at the age of 9, he joined the Watkins Glen Squires, with whom he spent a dozen years. He later co-managed the corps, nearly achieving a 12th-place finalist spot in the 1975 World Championships in Philadelphia, his last year as a marching member.

Forging a career as a news reporter and anchor outside of drum corps, Rondinaro got his start with DCI’s television broadcasts when asked by Hall of Fame Member Don Whitely to host a local PBS telecast of the 1976 DCI East competition in Allentown, Pa. A similar opportunity was offered in 1977 for the DCI Canada event in Hamilton, Ontario, and by 1979 he got his opportunity in front of the camera on the PBS network at the World Championships, sitting alongside jazz trumpet legend Maynard Ferguson as co-host.

Over the years Rondinaro has worked with a diverse array of co-hosts from actress Rita Moreno to sports broadcasting legend Curt Gowdy, using his experiences and talents as a drum corps “insider” to educate his television partners.

He later helped reorganize the Florida Vanguard into a new corps, Florida Wave, a group that went on to win DCI’s A-Class Championship title in 1984.

Photo in text: Steve Rondinaro

The scene as photographed from across Rt. 228, which passes by the front of the property.

Firefighters battle blaze outside Odessa

ODESSA, Jan. 22, 2013 -- A late-night blaze Monday struck a one-story home at 2441 State Route 228 near Odessa. The blaze, which gutted much of the structure, was caused by a candle burning in a bedroom, a fire official said.

Firefighters from seven departments were called out at 10:42 p.m. on the cold, occasionally snowy night. One fire official said early indications were that the residents -- Willard and Mary Lou Webster -- had phoned in the alarm before escaping the structure. The blaze was roaring by the time the first of the firefighters arrived from Odessa.

Also responding were departments from Montour Falls, Watkins Glen, Mecklenburg and Burdett, and later Millport and Enfield.

Odessa Fire Chief Mike Tomassi said the fire -- which started in a bedroom, and was caused by a burning candle left unattended -- was fully involved by the time he arrived, and was fueled shortly after that by the explosion of two oxygen tanks inside the house. Firefighters knocked down the main flames quickly, but pockets continued burning as winds periodically gusted, sending thick smoke swirling. NYSEG arrived at the scene shortly before midnight to cut the power.

The Websters were helped into an ambulance and transported to Schuyler Hospital. One official said they were being treated for smoke inhalation. A third person -- a grandson who resided with the Websters -- reportedly accompanied them.

Two dogs in the house escaped with the residents, and three other dogs tied up outside were not injured.

Two vehicles parked near the residence are apparently "still drivable," said Tomassi, although the one closest to the structure might have sustained some heat damage.

Most of the house was gutted, and the remainder is uninhabitable, Tomassi said. He did not know if the Websters had insurance.

The Red Cross was notified to help arrange alternative housing.


Photos in text:

Top: A firefighter strides across the edge of the roadway in front of the structure, pulling some hose behind him.

Bottom: Smoke was thick and rose high into the night sky.

Snow periodically swirled and the temperature continued to dive.

Left: A firefighter strides in front of the building. Right: Montour Falls Fire Chief Jeff Confer.

Two firefighters (right) hose down a hot spot after the major flames were extinguished.

Stephens Award goes to O-M's Lee Sidle

Special to The Odessa File

ELMIRA, Jan. 9, 2013 -- Odessa-Montour High School senior Lee Sidle was honored Tuesday evening in Elmira as the recipient of the annual Joel Andrew Stephens 5C Award.

The award, presented at the downtown Holiday Inn by longtime Elmira Notre Dame football coach Mike D'Aloisio, is named after the former ND three-sport standout who died of cancer at the age of 22 in 1998.

"(Joel) had a strong commitment to his team and his school and was a leader," said D'Aloisio, noting that Stephens served as a role model to others, showed humanity in his abilities and talents, demonstrated kindness and compassion in his actions, displayed leadership qualities and faced adversity with dignity and class.

The 5C portion of the award stands for Christianity, courage, character, commitment and compassion. The award is presented annually to a football player in the Twin Tiers of New York and Pennsylvania who not only is an outstanding athlete, but also exhibits those five traits.

D'Aloisio said Stephens' life will not soon be forgotten, and added: "What we have done for ourselves alone dies and is gone forever. What we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal."

D'Aloisio, in quoting O-M Coach Bob Lee, said of Sidle: "He is a solid athlete, team player, team leader, fought through injury and still played his heart out ... He is one of the most respectful players I have ever coached. He carries that respect to his teammates, his community and his family. He has a solid family background with the love of God in his heart."

Added D'Aloisio: "Having coached him for a year (Sidle started at running back for Elmira Notre Dame as a junior), I can attest to the character of this individual. One thing that is very impressive he does outside of athletics is that he's been a Boy Scout for 10 years, has earned over 30 merit badges and is an Eagle Scout. That is a tribute to his character."

Photo in text: Lee Sidle with Ron Stephens, father of Joel Stephens. (Photo provided)

Beauty in the light

The editor's son David was enroute from Odessa to Morrisville when the rainbow on the right caught his attention northeast of Ithaca.

David tried several shots, and found with most of them that a rainbow is ethereal -- difficult to capture in a photograph unless there is a dark background for contrast. For a few moments, that contrast existed enough for him to capture this image ... an example of beauty in the light.


(Photo by David Haeffner)


Some links to people features

Here are some links to other pages on this website dealing with features about people:

A tale called "Bubba," about a childhood hero, can be reached by clicking here.

Tales of life along Steam Mill Road years ago, submitted by now-Australian resident Betty Appleton, can be reached by clicking here.

A story about the editor's family being menaced by a maniac on the highway can be reached by clicking here.

A story about the Lazio-Clinton campaign in Schuyler County, and its relationship to herbal remedies, can be found by clicking here.



The Odessa File 2020
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869