The town of Cicero abolished its director of planning and development position at the town’s organizational meeting Wednesday, Jan. 4 in an effort to save the town money.
“Unfortunately, development has been down within the town, and this is an area to look at for reducing costs and where we can find savings,” Supervisor Jim Corl said.
The position eliminated called for a salary of $56,000 plus benefits totaling approximately $15,000, along with the use of a town vehicle.
Mary Ellen Clausen stepped down as executive director of Ophelia’s Place, a Liverpool-based center for those struggling with eating disorders. Clausen, who was replaced by Jodie Wilson-Dougherty, moved into a role based in fund development.
Clausen started the center after watching her daughters struggle with anorexia. But she said it was time to move on to a new chapter in her life.
Clausen, 51, says she would like to see both Ophelia’s Place and Café at 407 (a coffee shop that benefits the organization) as two self-sufficient entities by 2014. Once that’s achieved, she will “be at peace,” Clausen said.
D.J. Villnave, then 8, held his second annual blanket drive for the homeless at Karl W. Saile Bear Road Elementary School.
D.J. said he staged the drive after the holidays because people seem to have given up on giving at that time.
“People don’t care about other people after the holiday season,” DJ said. “I wanted to do something so people are still caring about people that are cold and are poor.”
Salina Supervisor Mark Nicotra was this year’s candidate for the 93Q Five Dates in Five Days, something the station has done for the last five years around Valentine’s Day.
“Every Valentine’s Day, we get a different eligible bachelor in the community,” said Amy Robbins, who co-hosts the station’s morning show with Ted Long. “When you think about how popular dating shows are — ‘The Bachelor’ and ‘The Bachelorette’ — that’s very similar to what we’re doing. The next morning, we do a recap of the date, and that can be great radio, whatever kind of date they had. It doesn’t always go well. Sometimes they just don’t click, and they have nothing to talk about. It doesn’t make for a very fun date, but it’s awesome for our audience to hear about it. That’s why we’ve continued doing it.”
Nicotra said he enjoyed the experience. He is still, however, a bachelor.
Cicero-North Syracuse basketball phenom Breanna Stewart was named USA Basketball’s Female Athlete of the Year for her 2011 accomplishments.
The national honor, handed out since 1980, has, among its honorees, some of the greatest players in the game’s history, including Cheryl Miller, Lisa Leslie, Dawn Staley, Chamique Holdsclaw and Diana Taurasi.
Stewart joined that elite list after a 2011 that included two U.S. national team appearances. First, in July she led Team USA to the gold medal at the FIBA Under-19 World Championships in Chile, averaging 11.2 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.
Then, in October Stewart joined 11 college players on Team USA for the Pan-American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, just the second high school player so honored. She responded by leading Team USA in points (15.3) and rebounds (11.3) as the Americans went 2-2 and finished seventh in the tournament.
Stewart now plays for the University of Connecticut Huskies.
Cicero officials agreed to settle a $2 million lawsuit against the town, the chief of police and a specific police officer at the town board meeting Feb. 8 for $4,500.
The suit was brought in federal court by Albert Merola Jr., a resident of Beach Road in Brewerton, against the town of Cicero, Cicero Police Chief Joseph Snell and Cicero Police Officer James Snell. The suit, filed in United States District Court, Northern District of New York, on March 23, 2011, stems from incidents that took place in April of 2010. The suit alleged that James Snell physically assaulted Merola during an attempt to arrest him without cause, exacerbating injuries Merola sustained in a work accident in 2000 that left him permanently disabled and wearing a neck brace. James Snell’s actions caused numerous other injuries, the suit alleged.
The town of Salina’s cat law once again came under fire, as residents complained that their pets were being trapped by the town’s animal control officer and taken to the CNY SPCA and, in some cases, euthanized before they could be recovered.
According to Chapter 70, sections 19 to 21 of the town code, Salina’s animal control officer has been setting traps throughout the town after receiving nuisance complaints. Those traps have captured cats — some of which are feral, or wild, cats, but some are family pets — which the ACO has then transported to the CNY SPCA. If the animals aren’t claimed within five days, the animals can be put up for adoption or euthanized. According to the residents who spoke at Monday’s meeting, neither the animal control officer, the neighbors who made the complaints nor the SPCA made any effort to locate the trapped cats’ owners.
The enforcement of the law has been criticized by residents and animal advocates alike, particularly Linda Young, a cat rescuer who worked with the town to draft the law.
“The town chose only to enforce the punitive parts of the law,” she said. “The town chose to take every single part of that law and make it as harsh and unreasonable as possible.”
In order to prevent further trapping of animals, the Animal Alliance of Greater Syracuse and two Salina residents sued the town in March on the grounds that the law is unconstitutional. No action has been taken on any provision of the cat law since the suit was filed.
Operation Southern Comfort, a Liverpool-based group dedicated to rebuilding the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, launched a local counterpart called Operation Northern Comfort. The organization does everything from small cleanup jobs to home rebuilding in the Central New York area.
“It’s really about people when they’re here also recognizing the need within their own community,” former co-coordinator Maria “Murph” Murphy said. “It’s very easy to see the need in third world countries or in places that were hit like New Orleans, but in terms of seeing it right in your own community, it’s very important to be able to do this and be active in terms of doing something about it.”
To volunteer or learn more about Operation Northern Comfort, find them online at operationsoutherncomfort.org and click on the Operation Northern Comfort link; find them on Facebook at Facebook.com/OperationNoCo; or on twitter at @OperationNoCo.
Deonna Shipman, who was taken out of the country by her non-custodial father Jeffrey Shipman in 2007, was found in Thailand. Deonna was 3 when her father picked her up from her mother’s Liverpool home for court-ordered visitation on Wednesday, July 11, 2007. Jeffrey Shipman then fled the country with her and spent five years on the run. He turned himself in to authorities in Bangkok on Feb. 24. Deonna was returned to the United States shortly thereafter.
The Liverpool Central School District Board of Education voted to get rid of the FOCUS program as part of the 2012-13 budget.
The alternative high school program, which provided classes for ninth- and 10th-graders this year but was intended to expand to include juniors and seniors in the future, opened in September in the former Wetzel Road Elementary building.
The CanTeen finally moved into its new home next to Cicero-North Syracuse High School. The teen center had shuffled from building to building over the past several years before finally purchasing the house at 6046 Route 31 through grant funds. The home was renovated to fit the center’s needs through a volunteer labor force and opened March 14.
“Having this gives us permanency,” CanTeen Executive Director Toni Brauchle said. “I think probably the biggest issue that we had when we moved around like that was that they felt like second-class citizens… Any time you don’t renew a lease or whatever, they take it personally. It has absolutely nothing to do with them, and it could be for any number of reasons, financial reasons or whatever, but they take it personally. But now, the fact that we have a permanent home that nobody can take away from us, that nobody can lease out from underneath us, whatever the thing is… Even under tough budgetary constraints, if we have to make tough choices, if we have to cut back our hours or whatever, we could do that and still not go anywhere.”
The town of Salina once again brought animals into the headlines by considering a request from neighbors in the Scottsdale Farms tract to allow a wildlife control agent to dispose of coyotes spotted in the neighborhood.
“My next-door neighbor came over at 10 on a Saturday morning. He had just run out of his house because he had seen a coyote in his backyard grab my cat,” neighbor Laurie Turton said. “He tried to stop the attack, but the coyote viciously shook [the cat] and ran off with it. He saw the whole attack happen. He has seen the coyotes a few times since then.”
The issue invited much debate in the town, with neighbors in the area calling for a relaxation of the town’s firearms restrictions so that the coyote could be disposed of, while animal rescuers and experts said it would not take care of the problem for the long haul.
The matter was never officially resolved.
Ryan Gilbert collected more than 600 boxes of crayons for the Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital in Syracuse in memory of his cousin, Bianca Bresadola, who passed away at age 7 of osteosarcoma.
Ryan, of Clay, gathered crayons because he remembered whiling away the hours with Bianca while she was facing treatment at Golisano; children in the pediatric cancer ward need to open a new box every time to reduce the risk of contamination and infection. He hoped the donation would bring a little light into the lives of children undergoing chemo and radiation for a devastating illness.
“It’s giving love and care for everybody there,” Ryan said. “I know that there’s hope for them. To give them a little fun before some of them pass, just like Bianca.”
Baseball fans from around the area shared a warm summery afternoon Saturday May 19 to watch the dedication of the new Baseball Wall of Fame for the North Syracuse and Cicero High Schools at the Gillette Road Middle School varsity diamond.
“This is the inaugural introduction for the Cicero-North Syracuse baseball Wall of Fame,” said Jon Cooley, one of the organizers of the dedication. “The event is to honor the history of the baseball program and some of the great players and individuals who have partaken in the program. I hope there’s a lot of alumni that go up there and that the young kids and the kids that are going to be playing in a few more years get a little more appreciation for what baseball around here has been about.”
The wall is sponsored by Cicero-North Syracuse High School and the baseball booster club. It was developed by an informal committee of about a dozen individuals.
Village of North Syracuse Police Chief Thomas Connelly will resign from his position effective May 31.
The police chief’s resignation was announced at the May 24 village board meeting. The resignation was accepted by the village board, giving Mayor Mark Atkinson the power to appoint an interim chief for three months.
Connelly was receiving checks as both a retired New York State trooper and as the village’s police chief.
Atkinson said that Connelly tendered his resignation because, unlike former mayors, Atkinson refused to sign the waiver.
“Former mayors have signed it, and the village would send out the canvassing letter, and no one would be interested,” Atkinson said. “But I didn’t sign it. There are a lot of good, potential candidates out there who don’t require a waiver.”
Beloved Cicero-North Syracuse High School teacher Marty Campbell lost his battle with lymphoma on May 17. Campbell taught global studies and sociology at C-NS for six years, including the school’s Syracuse University Project Advance (SUPA) sociology class, for which students could get college credit. Campbell had to be trained specially by SU for the class and lobbied hard to bring it to C-NS. He also served as co-advisor to the Class of 2012.
“I just think that I’m a better person for having Marty in my life, even though it was for such a short time,” Principal Melissa Julian said. “As one teacher told me, Marty was a part of the C-NS fabric and he will be greatly missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him.”
He is survived by his fiancé, Jayson Steere; his father, James (Doris) Campbell of Garnerville, N.Y.; his mother, Mary Leahy of Stony Point, N.Y.; two brothers, James W. Campbell Jr. of Stony Point, NY and Brian T. (Maria) Campbell of Fort Montgomery, N.Y.; a stepbrother, Jeff Abrams of Stony Point, N.Y.; a stepsister, Cathy (Thomas) Cooney of Point Pleasant, N.J. and numerous aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins.
New York State Trooper Amanda Anna of Liverpool was killed on May 25 when the 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe she was driving struck a guardrail, became airborne, flew over a small water inlet and landed on a grassy area. Anna, 31, was a six-year veteran of the police force.
Anna was survived by her 4-year-old son Ethan, her mother, stepfather and fiance.
The Clay Town Board narrowly voted down a zone change along Buckley Road that would have allowed Farone and Son to build a funeral home at its June 4 meeting.
The applicant had requested a zone change from R-10 One Family Residential District to NC-1 Neighborhood Commercial District on property located at 7353 Buckley Road. The property is owned by Red Barn Country LLC.
Concerns about traffic expressed by the neighbors also swayed many members of the board, which voted 4 to 3 to deny the zone change.
The Cicero Farmers Market at Drivers Village kicked off its inaugural season Tuesday, June 5, and it was a rousing success, according to director Julie Raddell.
“We definitely had a few hundred people,” Raddell said. “We had a steady stream of customers all day. They started coming as we started setting up, and they kept coming all the way until the time we closed down.”
The market had a successful inaugural season and Raddell said she’s looking forward to bringing it back in the spring.
After a two-year absence, high-speed boat racing made a dynamic return to Onondaga Lake June 16 and 17.
Race on the Lake, an American Canadian Hydroplane Association-sanctioned event, featured some 60 inboard/drivers and 15 vintage hydroplane boats from throughout the United States and Canada. The inboards’ top speeds reached 200 miles per hour, while the vintage boats, which were also on display for spectators, topped out at 150 miles per hour.
The Syracuse stop is expected to be annual, said Maureen Doyle, the race’s media coordinator; Onondaga Lake is ideally suited for hydroplane racing.
“They love Onondaga Lake,” she said. “It’s very flat and fairly calm. There’s not a lot of activity like on Lake Ontario, and Lake Ontario is so big. Then you have Oneida Lake, where the wind direction is wrong. They love it here.”
Three Cicero youths held a lemonade stand to benefit Alex’s Lemonade Stand, a children’s cancer charity.
Eight-year-old Madison King, 6-year-old Nadia Greco and 8-year-old Owen Greco raised $1,257.08 for the nonprofit just by selling lemonade, water and cookies at a stand outside the Kings’ home in Cicero July 2 and 3.
“This is for childhood cancer, and Alex died at our age,” Owen said. “We’re children. Lots of people are affected by it.”
The kids were happy to be a part of an activity that could allow them to have fun while making a difference at the same time.
“It’s fun,” Madison said, “and it’s nice that we’re donating to kids who have cancer so they can get better.”
A 30-year-old town of Clay woman charged with suffocating her newborn daughter on Jan. 6, 2011, lodged a last-minute plea to first-degree manslaughter to avoid a trial for second-degree murder.
Nicole DeJaynes was arrested for murder eight days after an infant girl was found dead in a dumpster in the parking lot of the Pearl Street Apartments in the village of Liverpool. She was indicted by a county grand jury on Nov. 17, 2011.
DeJaynes pleaded guilty to the lesser charge on Monday morning, July 9, before County Court Judge Anthony Aloi in downtown Syracuse. She was later sentenced to13 years in prison.
A group of business owners in the village of Liverpool began raising money to construct a clock in the village.
The group hopes to raise $35,000 to purchase and install a vintage-style standalone clock for Washington Park at the intersection of Route 57 and First Street. The clock will light up at night and is meant to stand as a symbol to “let our friends and neighbors see how proud we are of our lakeside home,” according to a release from the fundraising campaign.
The campaign is now about a third of the way to its goal. For more information, go to liverpoolclockcampaign.com.
Village of North Syracuse mayor Mark Atkinson swore in new police chief Michael Crowell at the Aug. 9 village board meeting. Crowell was chosen for his experience with community policing, something the village wants to focus more on in the future.
Crowell is a 46-year-old resident of Syracuse with a background in small town police departments. He retired as a sergeant for the town of Manlius police department after 12 years and also has worked as an officer for the village of East Syracuse.
Cicero-North Syracuse softball coach Kerry Bennett was fired despite winning hundreds of games for the district.
The decision came down from the school district administration after former softball player Brittany Paul accused the coach of bullying her and failing to appropriately react to incidents of bullying after Paul left C-NS’s state final four appearance in Queensbury to attend the Senior Ball on June 9. The team then lost the final game.
Bennett said that, though Paul did leave early, other players stayed for the championship game and then attended that same senior ball.
A month later, at the July 9 meeting of the North Syracuse Board of Education, Paul and her father, Jeff, spoke to the board. Jeff Paul described a series of alleged incidents where both students and parents subjected her daughter to harassment, including cyber-bullying, car vandalism and threatening letters and messages left on her telephone.
The decision brought about a backlash from the community, but Bennett’s contract was not renewed.
The village of Liverpool entered into an agreement with the village of East Syracuse for shared police services, stating that Police Chief Don Morris would act as part-time chief for both villages.
“Earlier this year we were looking into ways to save money as a result of the loss we took on the [county] sales-tax issue,” said Liverpool Mayor Gary White. “We began exploring the possibility of entering into a shared-services agreement with a nearby municipality regarding the administration of the village’s police force.”
In October, the village of East Syracuse voted not to dissolve its police force and merge with the town of DeWitt, so Liverpool opted to continue its service-sharing agreement.
On Sept. 25, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed an age discrimination lawsuit against the village of North Syracuse, the town of Cicero and the town of Clay, as well as the North Syracuse Fire Department, the Cicero Fire Department, Clay Volunteer Fire Department, and the Moyers Corner Fire Department. The EEOC charged the towns and village with age bias against older firefighters.
The four departments provide fire services to the towns and village. According to the suit, the departments refused to let volunteer firefighters over age 60 or 62, depending on the department, accrue credit toward a length of service award (LOSAP), the equivalent of a retirement pension, because of their age.
But the municipalities said they’d been working with the EEOC to resolve the problem for the better part of the last few years, so the lawsuit came as a shock.
“We’ve done more than work with them. We’ve agreed to and set aside monies to make these adjustments,” said Clay Town Supervisor Damian Ulatowski. “We passed a board resolution, which was signed a couple of months ago [to address the issue]. So we were blindsided.”
Two controversial zone change applications in the town of Clay will not go through after facing vociferous criticism from the community.
Michaels Farm has pulled its application for a zone change at 8073 and 8097 Morgan Road from RA-100 Residential Agricultural to R-SR Senior Residence District-1, LuC-1 Limited Use District for Gasoline Services and NC-1 Commercial District. In addition to three apartment buildings, the applicant wanted to include a gas station and some commercial development. It also proposes the extension of roads within Fairway East and Cross Creek to connect with Waterhouse Road and the construction of signal lights at that intersection.
The applicant has saved the board the trouble of making the decision by pulling its application.
Town of Clay Planning Commissioner Mark Territo said he expected Michaels Farm, LLC would reformulate its plans and resubmit at a later date.
In addition, at their Oct. 15 meeting, the Clay Town Board denied the application of Lakewood Development LLC and Richard and Arlene DeSocio for a zone change from RA-100 Residential Agricultural to R-SR Senior Residence District on property located at 8198 Soule Road.
It was a comeback year for a couple of Central New York candidates, as Democrats Dan Maffei and Al Stirpe regained their seats in Congress and the New York State Assembly, respectively. Maffei unseated Republican Ann Marie Buerkle; he also defeated Green Party candidate Ursula Rozum. Stirpe beat Don Miller.
Meanwhile, Sandy Schepp beat Gary Morris to become the next Onondaga County Clerk; Julie Cecile overcame Pat Kilmartin in the Onondaga County family court race; and Tom Miller defeated Gordon Cuffy in the Onondaga County court race.
The North Syracuse Central School District unveiled its Military Honor Roll on Nov. 16. The wall was the result of a brainstorm of some of the members of the district’s Wall of Distinction committee. That wall is used to highlight graduates of the district who have achieved a high level of prominence in their personal or professional lives.
“This came together [because] Bill Brown, Stan Finkle and a few members of the committee sit on the Wall of Distinction for the district,” Bowles said. “We were getting applications also for people in the military. It just dawned on them, ‘Wow, what an honor it would be if we honored separately the people that served in the armed forces.’ [We] stepped on an unbelievable idea that supports veterans and the community and the response has been absolutely phenomenal.”
Just over 20 people met on a cold Friday morning outside American Legion Post 1832 in Mattydale to commemorate what happened in Pearl Harboron Dec. 7, 1941 . A lone car horn on Route 11 sounded in tribute to the ceremony happening by the side of the road in front of the Stars and Stripes.
More than 2,400 Americans died during the attack by the Japanese in Hawaii that Sunday morning just over seven decades ago. Though no World War II veterans were on hand to remember, members of the Mattydale American Legion and VFW paid respect to the sacrifice made by those who were there in Pearl Harbor.
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.