At the end of each year, we bring you a roundup of the events that made headlines during the previous 12 months. Read on and remember with us.
Former administrators sue LCSD
Suspended Liverpool school district administrators George Mangicaro and Bonnie Ladd filed a lawsuit against the district in the amount of $4 million, asking for $2 million each in damages for wrongful termination and defamation of character. The suit said the district inappropriately suspended Mangicaro and Ladd after Mangicaro brought allegations of impropriety against Superintendent Jan Matousek. The district, meanwhile, alleges that both administrators committed several disciplinary violations.
At press time, both administrators remained on paid leave. Meanwhile, the district is trying to remove Mangicaro and Ladd, both of whom are tenured employees, from their positions.
Residency requirement disputed
The village of Liverpool’s board of trustees discussed the possibility of allowing candidates who lived outside the village to run for village justice.
The proposal came after George Alessio, who village Mayor Marlene Ward and her husband Dick Ward had supported in his bid for Salina town justice, requested permission to run for village justice. Alessio lived in the town of Salina but outside the village.
The proposal was disputed by many village residents, including Anthony LaValle, who said it sets a bad precedent that would allow non-village residents to run for any village office.
Ultimately, the village dismissed the proposal. Alessio moved into the village to run for office, but lost the seat to LaValle in May’s election.
A $44.5 million referendum to repair Liverpool Elementary, Liverpool Middle School and other buildings and to rebuild the stadium at Liverpool High School was defeated by voters. District residents said the cost was too high and the details too few to pass the referendum.
Salina gets Bitzer
Gov. Eliot Spitzer announced last week that Bitzer Scroll Inc. will invest $30 million and create 289 new jobs over the next five years in the town of Salina.
The manufacturer will make scroll compressors for air conditioning units in the Salina Industrial Power Park, located off Military Circle. The Bitzer manufacturing plant will take 60,000 square feet of space in the 800,000 square foot building.
The company received Empire Zone tax breaks and several grants, including $1.4 million from the Syracuse Center of Excellence for Environmental and Energy Systems, in exchange for locating in the town of Salina.
Bitzer joined several other top-notch businesses at the Salina Industrial Power Park. The former General Motors plant is now home to FRALO Plastech, Carpenter Industries, New Venture Gear and Reva Plastics Corp., among others.
“This means we’re getting jobs, good jobs,” Salina Supervisor Mark Nicotra said. “These are high-paying jobs, not minimum-wage jobs. We’re getting more bodies in the town and spending money in the town. It’s definitely a great thing.”
District cuts LEEP
The Liverpool Central School District announced that it would no longer be able to support the Liverpool Early Education Program (LEEP). The state and county had previously funded the project, an integrated early education initiative that allowed 3- and 4-year-olds with special needs to attend pre-kindergarten with their “typical” peers. Earlier this year, the state announced that the district would have to fund the program.
“It’s sad to see,” Board of Education President J. Mark Lawson said. “But we just can’t afford to sustain the program on our own.”
Senior housing causes a stir in Salina, Clay
Affordable Senior Housing Inc. approached the towns of Clay and Salina to request zone changes to build senior apartments in two locations, one at the corner of Bear and Davis roads and one at the corner of Buckley Road and Patricia Drive. The company has built four senior citizen apartment buildings near Buffalo and want to build one on this site. The project would begin as one building of 131 one- and two-bedroom apartments. The apartments would be available to adults 60 years of age or older. Other housing for seniors is either subsidized by the government or is too expensive for this group to afford.
But residents and politicians in both areas objected to the proposals, citing traffic concerns. Both proposals were voted down, over the objections of County Legislator David Stott.
“As elected officials we are tasked by the community to be in the know,” Stott said. “This project is a gift to the community. For the most part seniors drive slowly. No commercial development can fit in the space. Those who will be living there are able-bodied seniors, not people who need assistance.”
The developer ultimately found another location in the town of Salina to construct the apartment building.
Liverpool teen dies in SC crash
Liverpool 14-year-old Samantha Reynolds was killed in a car accident in South Carolina. The Soule Road Middle School student was traveling to Disney World with her family over April break when the car she was riding in was sideswiped by Rafael Gonzalez Martinez. She was thrown from the car and killed instantly. Her stepmother, Brenda Reynolds, was seriously injured. Martinez was charged with felony driving under the influence involving a death and felony driving under the influence involving great bodily injury.
Reynolds was memorialized by her friends and classmates in this paper, as well as with a granite bench at Great Northern Mall.
“Sam was a huge fan of Great Northern Mall,” mom Tracy Reynolds said. “She spent practically every weekend here. This kind of keeps her here. It’s a way she can stay forever.”
Murder in the village
Mark A. Clark, 39, was killed by a shotgun blast on Monday April 21. His body was found by his father, Harry Clark, that afternoon. Clark was the owner of Toy Galaxy in North Syracuse and promoted the Toyful Weekend Antique and Collectibles show at the Fairgrounds in the 1990s.
Clark’s was the first homicide in the village since 1984.
There are still no leads in the death.
Wal-Mart backs down
Wal-Mart announced that it would drop plans to build a Supercenter in the town of Salina near the Liverpool Thruway exit on Route 57 citing financial reasons.
“The decision is related to our continued plans to moderate growth of U.S. Supercenters,” the company said in a release. “After re-evaluating the anticipated budget, a determination was made not to move forward with this project.”
Numerous area residents had objected to the proposal, which would have put a big box store just outside the village of Liverpool. A group calling itself Liverpool First formed in opposition to the retail giant, repeatedly calling for the store to abandon its plans. The group considered the retailer’s announcement a victory.
Former Review editor dies
Longtime Liverpool activist Sharon Fulmer died May 10 at St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center of complications from multiple myeloma. Fulmer had also served as president of the Liverpool Public Library Board of Directors and had worked for nearly two decades as a reporter and editor of The Review, dating back to when it was known as The Liverpool-Salina Review.
Fulmer was also active at Liverpool First United Methodist Church and worked as director of communications for the North Central New York Conference of the United Methodist Church. Although she had stepped down as LPL Board president in 2004, Fulmer remained a member of the board.
Fulmer began at The Review as a freelance reporter in 1972. She quickly rose to the position of co-editor. While she was at the helm, The Review won more than two dozen awards from the New York Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest, including Best Front Page, Best Coverage of Local Government and Best Coverage of Education. Fulmer was also instrumental in redesigning the paper, working with renowned graphic designer Mario Garcia. In recognition of her efforts, the Syracuse Press Club honored Fulmer with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996.
In 1993, Fulmer became managing editor of Eagle Newspapers, which then published more than a dozen suburban weeklies. In 1994, she was elected president of the statewide New York Press Association. NYPA recently named their award for community journalism after Fulmer.
“She was really a Liverpool person,” Liverpool resident and music teacher Joe Spado said. “She was so pro-Liverpool — she was always doing everything to promote Liverpool.”
LCSD named among best communities for music education
The NAMM Foundation has named the Liverpool Central School District one of the “Best Communities for Music Education.”
School districts were chosen for this honor because they exemplify community commitment to include music education as part of a quality education for all children. In all, 110 school districts representing 29 states were among the “Best Communities in Music Education.”
The survey was sponsored by NAMM, Americans for the Arts, League of American Ochestras, The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, The Metropolitan Opera Guild, Music For All, Music Teachers National Association, National Guild for Community Schools of the Arts, National PTA, Yamaha Corporation of America and the VH1 Save the Music Foundation.
“The Liverpool Central School District’s music program is dedicated to the pursuit of musical excellence through the development of young people’s musical appreciation and performance,” said Fine Arts Coordinator David Perry. “Our students have enjoyed wonderful successes in our program and we think that those experiences provide them with a great foundation for life after high school.”
Former Clay supervisor dies
Ernie Casale, who served the town of Clay in a number of positions over the last four decades, passed away June 3 at his home.
“He was like the Abraham Lincoln of the town of Clay,” said Trish DiDomenico, widow of former supervisor Pat DiDomenico. “He did so much for this town.”
A veteran of the Second World War, Casale began his career in Clay politics as a deputy town clerk from February of 1963 until 1967. In January of 1968, he joined the town board as a councilman, where he served one two-year term before leaving to act as the town assessor. In 1975, he took over the supervisor’s office, serving in that position until the end of 1982. In 1983 he headed up the Zoning Board of Appeals, then reclaimed the assessor’s office from December of 1983 to July of 1992.
Though his career as an elected official ended there, Casale remained active in politics, participating in the Clay Republican Committee. He also owned Suburban Hardware on Route 57 and Megan McMurphy’s next door, where the Republican Committee holds its regular meetings.
“I’ll be talking about Ernie Casale for the rest of my life,” said Naomi Bray, head of the committee and a councilor on the town board. “He was a great Clay citizen. We all have so many wonderful memories of this man.”
Voters were split on a referendum in the Liverpool Central School District. They approved a $34 million renovation to Liverpool Elementary and Liverpool Middle as well as the ECC but voted down a $6.3 million reconstruction of the stadium at the high school.
The vote was the second attempt to get the repairs made to both facilities.
“We did an exit poll after the last vote, and the voters told us what they were concerned about,” Superintendent Jan Matousek said at a public hearing on the vote Monday June 16. “They wanted them separated out. They didn’t want to vote on both on the same ballot. We’ve done that.”
The district remains without a working stadium or track. The board of education recently voted to accept a scaled-back proposal for the stadium, which will go to voters in February of 2009.
Clay gets rid of PD
Residents in the town of Clay voted overwhelmingly in favor of a proposal to eliminate the Clay Police Department and instead merge services with the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department.
Under the proposal, all 16 full-time Clay officers kept their jobs, becoming sheriff’s deputies instead of Clay police officers. The sheriff’s department guaranteed dedicated patrols in the town and converted the department’s headquarters on Route 31 to a substation.
The measure saved taxpayers about 20 percent, or $50 per household.
Benefit for Bianca
St. Rose of Lima Church hosted a benefit for 7-year-old Bianca Bresadola of Liverpool, a second-grader at Chestnut Hill Elementary School with osteosarcoma. More than 1,500 people attended the benefit, which raised more than $30,000 for Bianca and her family, mom Stephanie, dad Marc and twin sister Mia.
Bianca was diagnosed in June with the disease, a form of bone cancer common in children. By then it had already spread throughout her bone structure.
The community continued to rally behind the Bresadola family. Multiple fundraisers were held over the next several months, including a basketball game between CHE and Liverpool High School staffers. At that game, Syracuse University basketball players Eric Devendorf and Arinze Onuaku presented the family with a basketball signed by the team. The ball was auctioned off to help the family.
Sadly, Bianca lost her battle on Dec. 3.
“Bianca touched so many lives and to see everyone come together to support her and our family through this difficult time has just made me so proud of her,” Marc Bresadola said in his eulogy to his daughter. “Our family, friends, employers, and the whole community played such a big role that no words will ever be able to express our gratitude.”
Clay named among top 100 places to live in the U.S.
Money Magazine has just confirmed what local politicians have been saying for some time: that the town of Clay is a great place to live, work and raise a family.
In its August 2008 issue, the publication named Clay as the 59th best small place to live in the U.S.
Clay was among 100 towns and cities with populations between 50,000 and 300,000 to make the list.
“A small city in the central part of the state, Clay offers respite from typical New York urban hassles with sprawling flatlands and big blue skies,” the article said. “Low home prices and safe streets make Clay even more attractive. It is also bordered by the Oneida and Seneca rivers — both havens for would-be fishermen.”
The article did warn that Clay residents had to contend with “long, icy winters.”
Criteria included median family income, family purchasing power, median home price, state test scores, the number of colleges and universities in the area, air quality, personal and property crime, recreation activities in the area and more.
“I think it’s awesome,” said Supervisor James Rowley of the honor. “It confirms what I’ve believed for a long time.”
LCSD blasted by comptroller
The state comptroller’s audit of the Liverpool Central School District, released this summer, reprimands the district for what it calls “a questionable pattern of behavior on the part of district officials and lax controls over the use of taxpayer monies.”
The report, obtained by Eagle Newspapers, states that the district has misused funds since about 2000. While most of its criticisms are directed at former Superintendent John Cataldo’s administration, the report also faults the administration of current super Jan Matousek for several issues, including missing laptops, improper use of extra-classroom activity funds and weak management controls.
The report does commend the district for undertaking certain measures to address the problems. For example, the district has established an ethics committee, removed non-student clubs from the extra-classroom activities fund and phased out the student laptop program.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.