The year that was: A look back at the stories that made headlines in the Star-Review in 2012

“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.”

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