It’s gone, but it’s not forgotten.
Let’s take a moment and remember some of the stories that made headlines in your community in 2011:
A dead baby was discov¬ered in a dumpster outside the Pearl Street Apart¬ments, a block south of the railroad tracks in the village of Liverpool at about 10:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 6. Her mother, Nicole DeJaynes, was charged with murder in the infant’s death.
Liverpool Village Police held a funeral for the child, whom they named Isabella Marie.
A grand jury indicted DeJaynes on charges of first- and second-degree murder on Nov. 17. She faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted. She remains held without bail at the Corbett Justice Center in Syracuse.
The village of North Syracuse was forced to shut down its post office after 50 years. The order came from the U.S. Postal Service due to steep budget cuts.
“It’s very sad,” said then-Mayor Diane Browning. “This post office has been the centerpiece of our village for some time. A lot of senior citizens come in here because it’s easy to walk to. With the post office and the different businesses, it has been a walkable village for many.”
On Feb. 3, the leader¬ship of United Liverpool Faculty Association, the union representing over 1,000 teachers, teaching assistants, teacher aides and other staff in the Liverpool Central School district, de¬termined that they would not vote on a proposal to open member’s contracts and freeze wages for the 2011-2012 school year.
“We need to have fair compensation for what we do because we’re profes¬sionals,” said Pattie Miller, president of ULFA. “I know the community is frus¬trated, but we also need to respect our own profes¬sionalism and to keep our salaries at a place where we’re professionally com¬pensated.”
Steven Pieper pleaded guilty to charges of second-degree murder in the death of Jenni-Lyn Watson on Feb. 21. Pieper, 21, admitted to strangling the 20-year-old Mercyhurst College student Nov. 19, 2010 at her home when she refused to get back together with him, then dumping her body at Clay Central Park. He is currently serving 23 years to life in prison.
While the court case played out, Watson’s family established a memorial fund in her memory. In the months after her passing, her family was overwhelmed by the support from the community, so they decided to set up a fund to create opportunities for local children and teens that have a passion for the art of dance but cannot afford specialized training.
“We should all be so lucky to find half of the passion for something in our lives like Jenni-Lyn had for dance,” said Jackie Watson, Jenni-Lyn’s mother. “We want to use this fund to ensure that financial barriers don’t stop other little girls from achieving their dreams.”
Nearly 100 Liverpool residents came out Saturday, March 19 to sign petitions calling for alterations to the preliminary Liverpool Central School District budget and for the resignation of Superintendent Richard Johns.
The two separate petitions were made available for signatures to district residents March 19 at the
American Legion Post 188 in the village. Concerned residents Sharon Yager, Julie Matson and Pat Ruf provided information to those that stopped by and encouraged individuals to sign both petitions during the event.
“This is by no means a witch hunt,” said Yager. “We just want the board [of education] to see that people have concerns, and we’d like them to reevaluate the situation.”
The Cicero-North Syracuse girls’ varsity basketball team took home their first-ever New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class AA title. Led by junior phenom Breanna Stewart, the Northstars beat out Gates-Chili 75-54.
“She has helped put our program on the map, that is for sure,’’ said C-NS Head Coach Eric Smith of Stewart. “She’s a good kid, a hard working kid and got us going tonight.’’
The village of Liverpool Board of Trustees voted unanimously Monday, April 25 to approve its 2011-12 budget, a spending plan that will necessitate a 22 percent rise in village property taxes.
“We really scratched around to come up with the best budget we thought we could live with,” said Mayor Gary White, who noted that village departments each submitted budgets equal or lower than last year’s.
White blamed the tax in¬crease on Onondaga County, which cut villages out of its annual sales tax revenue-sharing program last year.
Owners of a $100,000 home in the village will now pay $1,191—an increase of $235 since 2010.
Meanwhile, the county tax rate for village property own¬ers will decrease by $1.32 per thousand, due to the sales-tax distribution decision. So, for $100,000 homeowners, vil¬lage tax bills “will be offset somewhat by the $132 de¬crease in the county tax rate,” the mayor said.
The Onondaga Lake Park Marina and Boat Launch was forced to close after rainstorms caused excessive flooding to the lakeshore.
The closure was an¬nounced April 28 after the flooded lake engulfed the rock wall, or break wall, separating the marina from the rest of Onondaga Lake, said Onondaga County Parks Commissioner Bill Lansley. This causes a threat to boaters, who may not realize the wall is there and hit it.
“Hitting the wall could cause excessive damage to a boat if they hit it,” he said.
Approximately $10,000 in damage was caused to the crushed-stone and tar walk¬way near the boat launch that was installed just last year.
Residents within the Liverpool Central School District voted Wednesday, April 27 to approve a $32.8 million capital improvement proj¬ect to make renovations to buildings within the district. The project was passed with a 724 to 425 vote.
The project calls for “fundamental” improve¬ments to nine buildings within the school district. They are: Willowfield El¬ementary, Elmcrest El¬ementary, Morgan Road Complex (Morgan Road Elementary and the ninth grade Annex), Soule Road Complex, Liverpool High School, the Educational Communication Center, Chestnut Hill Middle, and Chestnut Hill Elementary buildings.
The North Syracuse Central School District 2011-12 annual budget was defeated by 52 votes on May 17. The $136,601,471 budget, which called for a 5.1 percent tax increase, failed 1,756 to 1,704.
Instead, the board turned to a contingency budget of $136,494,471, which cut $80,000 from the equipment budget, $20,000 of revenue for use of school property by different community groups and $17,000 for raises of non-affiliated ad¬ministration employees and add-ons. It also cut 67 positions throughout the district and established a 5 percent tax increase, though that rate was ultimately lowered to around 1.84 percent in the town of Cicero, 2.12 percent in the town of Clay and 2.13 percent in the town of Salina.
Liverpool High School junior Frantzline Tingue published her first novel. “That Wednesday,” tells the story of a girl who goes to live with her father, brother and little cousin after her mother dies in a car crash. She soon learns that her uncle is part of a gang, launching her into a world of adventure.
Tingue first thought of the book while was in seventh grade at Chestnut Hill Middle School. Last year she finished the book and submitted it to Chestnut Hill English teacher Andrea O’Brien. It was published this spring.
Dr. Jerome Melvin retired from the North Syracuse Central School District effective July 31. Melvin had been head of the district from 1992 to 1999 and again from 2005 to 2011. He also acted as Liverpool’s superintendent from 1999 to 2005. Upon leaving North Syracuse, Melvin took a position as interim super in Central Square.
Melvin was replaced by Dr. Kim Dyce Faucette, who comes to North Syracuse from the Rochester City Rochester City School District, where she started as a social studies teacher in 1990. She then became an administrator for in the city’s high schools. She has spent the last eight years as chief of staff in the district.
Dyce said the community will face tough times ahead, but it is important that the community work together to get through them.
“I have my own views of what a successful student looks like when he or she walks across the stage,” she said, “and honestly, I don’t think it’s too different from everybody else’s. What may be different is how we get there, and the timeline.”
The Cicero Youth Bureau, Parks and Recreation Department held the second annual Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament at Drivers Village. The event raised money for the CanTeen, which is relocating to a new home closer to Cicero-North Syracuse High School.
Julie Raddell, who organized the event, said to look for more impressive numbers next year.
“We only have 150 teams this year, but look for a lot more next year,” she said. “We’re creating an event here. We don’t want it to be a basketball tournament; we want it to be a basketball festival.”
The New York State Education Department announced that it would change the dates of its English Language Arts exams to better suit its new teacher evaluation system, throwing off the schedules of school districts statewide.
State Education Commissioner Dr. John King announced in late August in a letter to districts statewide that the dates of the exams had been changed to the week of April 16. That’s the same week spring break is scheduled to take place for 10 percent of districts statewide, including all districts that have a contract for shared services with Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES.. After meeting with superintendents from across Central New York today, OCM-BOCES Superintendent Jessica Cohen announced that the group decided to recommend moving the break back to April 9 through the 13.
Local superintendents were highly critical of the state’s decision.
“The whole thing has been on this breakneck pace,” said Liverpool Superintendent Dr. Richard Johns. “The state has basically said they’re going to do it this year, no matter what, and remove all the obstacles because it’s most important thing since Moses came down with the tablets. They did it with no input from anybody. I think they’re fixing the landing gear on the airplane while it’s rolling down the tarmac. They don’t know what they’re doing.”
The Toll Road Senior Apartments in North Syracuse held their grand opening Friday Sept. 9. The two-building, 60-unit complex, designed for people 65 and older, first opened to residents in July, but a ribbon-cutting marked the official opening of the apartments, which were developed by Two Plus Four Companies.
The complex opened on the site of the former Toll Road Park. The site had become dilapidated and too costly for the village to maintain. In addition, the village was in desperate need of senior housing. Former Deputy Mayor and Senior Advocate Diane Browning and Two Plus Four President Sue Kimmel worked to bring the project to the site with the aid of numerous public officials.
PHOTO BY SARAH HALL
Cutting the ribbon at the Toll Road Senior Apartments in North Syracuse are former village mayor and current Senior Advocate Diane Browning, left, and Fay Indivero, the first resident of the complex. Around them are, from left, State Sen. John DeFrancisco, former State Assemblyman Michael Bragman, construction company Two Plus Four President Sue Kimmel, Clay Supervisor Damian Ulatowski (behind Browning), North Syracuse Housing Authority President Pat Fergerson, State Sen. David Valesky, Cicero Supervisor Judy Boyke, Onondaga County Legislator Casey Jordan and North Syracuse Mayor Mark Atkinson.
The Liverpool Central School District Board of Education voted 8 to 1 on Sept. 12 to adopt a proposal made by its Grade Reconfiguration Committee to change the configuration of its grades from a K-6 elementary/7-8 middle/ninth grade annex/10-12 high school to a K-5/6-8/9-12 configuration. The board emphasized that this is the first prong of a three-part process; the proposal next went to the district’s Building Usage Committee, which is currently debating if the district can actually implement the proposal.
The sole vote against the proposal came from board member Kevin Van Ness, who expressed concerns about moving the ninth grade into the high school.
“I’m not sure how a building that’s going to house roughly 2,200 kids… jives with a smaller learning community,” Van Ness said. “Frankly, it’s pretty chaotic right now, and if anybody doesn’t admit that, they’re kidding themselves.”
Liverpool High School unveiled its Poolside Kiosk, a new cafeteria option that offers sushi, salads, paninis, burritos, egg rolls and more for $2.50. The kiosk, which is the first of its kind in Central New York, joined the regular offerings of pizza, chicken patties and cheeseburgers a few weeks ago, according to Carrie Bonacci, the district’s director of food services, and it’s been a big hit.
“It’s really a nice addition,” Bonacci said. “The kids are really appreciative of it.”
Bonacci said the idea first came to her when the district enacted the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 this summer. The act requires the district to provide healthier alternatives for students, including a fruit and a vegetable, at meals.
“We wanted to reach out to an alternative group of students,” she said. “We started with simple things – painting the cafeteria, adding a few more choices to the main menu – then we branched out to the kiosk.”
PHOTO BY SARAH HALL
One of the participants in the inaugural Empire State Marathon makes his way along the course through Onondaga Lake Park Sunday morning. About 2,400 runners took part in the weekend-long event, which included a full marathon, a half-marathon and a relay race, as well as a health and fitness expo at Drivers Village on Oct. 14 and 15.
The North Syracuse Central School District Board of Education came under fire when it attempted to address kindergarten class sizes by adding 2.0 FTE teachers at four of the district’s elementary schools: Lakeshore Road, Cicero, Allen Road and Smith Road. The move required moving students from morning to afternoon kindergarten (North Syracuse does not have an all-day program). In all, 61 students moved to different classes. Of those, 45 will move from morning kindergarten to afternoon kindergarten.
Parents complained to the board because the shift impacted child care for some families, caused some children to change teachers and caused transportation issues.
Local elections dominated the news in November. Things in Clay stayed very much the same at both the town and county level with incumbents all running unopposed. In Cicero, incumbent Supervisor Judy Boyke was ousted by challenger Jim Corl. Corl won with 3,151 votes, while Boyke received 2,156. On the town council, newcomer Tim Burtis and incumbent Vern Conway, both Republicans, won the two open seats with 3,110 and 2,695 votes, respectively. Joe Ruscitto gained 2,049 votes and Don Snyder received 2,333 votes.
Meanwhile, in Salina, voters rejected a proposal to purchase the former Bresee Chevrolet on Old Liverpool Road, now owned by Burdick, and turn it into a new consolidated town hall and highway garage facility. Otherwise, all incumbents stayed in office, except in the Third Ward, where two relative newcomers were running; Jerry Ciciarelli beat out former councilman Mike Giarrusso for the seat.
At the county level, after a heated race that included a count of the absentee ballots, Judy Tassone held onto her seat, defeating challenger Dave Stott.
The town of Clay opted to end its contract for enhanced services with the sheriff’s department because there wasn’t room in the budget for the $1.5 million expense.
“With this move, we will join the ranks of most of the towns in the county that receive services at no additional cost,” Clay Supervisor Ulatowski said. “We are confident the sheriff will continue to provide comparable service to our residents as he is legally obliged to do.”
County Executive Joanie Mahoney said the fact that the town was opting out of the contract did not reflect any kind of failure on the part of the town; on the contrary, it represented a success story.
“This is furthering the consolidation effort,” Mahoney said. “During the merger, Clay took a very careful, cautious approach. Now, they’re seeing it’s not necessary to have Clay residents buy enhanced services to get the protection they need.”
Two Onondaga County school districts and schools in eight districts were recommended for improvement by the New York State Department of Education. A total of 1,325 schools and 123 districts were identified by the state as needing improvement. The recommendation comes under the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act — commonly referred to as the No Child Left Behind Act.
North Syracuse Central Schools was newly added to the list of districts. The state added an “unprecedented” number of schools to the district list this year — 89. A total of 123 districts state-wide are needing improvement, state education officials said. In addition, 847 individual schools have been added to the list, bringing the total to 1,325 elementary, middle and high schools state-wide that need improvement.
Among the schools recommended for improvement in English Language Arts were Liverpool’s Chestnut Hill Elementary School and Soule Road Middle School, as well as North Syracuse’s Gillette Road Middle School, Bear Road Elementary, North Syracuse Junior High School and Roxboro Road Middle School.
The sheriff’s department decided that it would no longer staff the former Clay Police Department on Route 31.
The town opted not to renew a contract for enhanced services with the sheriff’s department as part of its 2012 budget. According to Clay Supervisor Damian Ulatowski, there just isn’t room in the town’s $12.17 budget for the nearly $1.5 million annual expense. However, the sheriff’s department had the option to continue to lease the building for $1 a year.
Due to budget cuts, however, Sheriff Kevin Walsh said he didn’t have the staff to support the continued use of the building.
“We needed the space before we took over the enhanced patrols in Clay. At that time, we didn’t have the space available in our station,” Walsh said. “Right now, due to county budget cuts, we’re down 40 positions in the sheriff’s police department. We’ve reduced the size of our operations, and between the cuts and the town of Clay’s decision not to pursue the contract, we don’t need the space anymore.”
The life of a well-loved Cicero-North Syracuse High School senior was cut short in a tragic car accident on Thursday Dec. 8. Taylor Fleming, 17, was on her way home after volunteering at a Christmas tree lighting and concert at Smith Road Elementary School. She was crossing Northern Boulevard at Totman Road when her car was struck by a vehicle driven by Timothy Williams, 45, of Phoenix. On Sunday, Dec. 11, Fleming’s family decided to donate her organs, affecting the lives of 60 people.
“It’s hard to put her personality into words,” said C-NS House 2 Principal Tim Bednarski. “Her presence just being around you made you feel good. She was a kind person with an infectious smile. She lights up the room when she comes in. She’s genuinely kind. She’s unique that way.”
Williams has been charged with driving while intoxicated and aggravated driving while intoxicated. He is due back in court on Jan. 5.
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.