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Russ Tarby

Stories by Russ

Sept. 11 turned a journalism professor into a playwright; ‘The Guys’ opens Aug. 29 at ShoppingTown

Anne Nelson, the director of International Programs for the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University, had never written a play.

Summer rains chased eight bands from Johnson Park

This may not have been the wettest summer on record, but it sure seemed to rain every Monday and Wednesday. Those are the evenings on which free concerts are scheduled at Johnson Park. As the program director for Liverpool Is the place, a sub-committee of the Greater Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, I book those concerts and present the bands.

Folk Strings back on the hill

Acoustic quartet stretches the definition of “folk” music

When they first got together in 1992, the founding members of Folk Strings realized that they had a lot in common.

Café’s revamped kitchen inspires culinary creativity

During the second week of this month the Café at 407 at Ophelia’s Place was closed in order to install new state-of-the-art stoves and ovens. The popular coffee shop re-opened Aug. 11. The café is located at 407 Tulip St., in the village of Liverpool.

North Syracuse Village Center streetscaping specs approved

At their Aug. 14 meeting, North Syracuse village trustees approved specifications for the Village Center’s Streetscape Improvements project funded by $850,000 from Onondaga County’s Save the Rain Program. The trustees also extended the deadline for bids from contractors to Sept. 3.

Sea Scouts tented on Onondaga Yacht Club lawn

There’ve been plenty of friendly sailing excursions at the Onondaga Yacht Club this summer including a rare visit by nearly 30 young Sea Scouts from across the Northeast. They were here participating in the first-ever Erie Canal Flotilla Sea Scout Regatta Aug. 1 through 3, on Onondaga Lake.

Rat Packer rolled strikes at Flamingo Bowl

The village welcomed the swingin’ Sixties because George Tortorelli knew how to swing. The former boxer who lived in Liverpool on Tulip Street near the cemetery had become a musician, a bass player who excelled as a bandleader and master of ceremonies. Using the stage name George Orelli, he worked at all of Central New York’s top nightclubs, from Andre’s Tic Toc Club down city to Three Rivers Inn north of here where he accompanied touring stars such as Connie Francis, Louis Armstrong and Jimmy Durante.

Limp Lizard to expand

After nearly a year and a half more than a dozen meetings — some lasting as long as three hours each — on July 28 the village of Liverpool Planning Board unanimously approved plans to build a 38-seat back deck at the Limp Lizard Barbecue, 201 First St. and a 48-space parking lot behind that property to be shared by the White Water Pub, 110 S. Willow St.

Double murderer gets 46 years

When Judge Thomas Miller asked Justin Dallas if he had anything to say before he was sentenced to 46 years in state prison for stabbing to death two women in Liverpool, the 27-year-old defendant said nothing. The mothers of Dallas’ two victims, however, had plenty to say at his July 28 sentencing at Onondaga County Courthouse in downtown Syracuse. “You are not a human being, you are an animal,” said Sherry Jones, mother of Dallas’ 24-year-old estranged wife, Brandy Dallas. “You will be locked up in a cage like an animal.”

Liverpool Cemetery committee pursuing historic designation

Mike Romano brought the Liverpool Village Board of Trustees some good news at its July 21 meeting. The chairman of an eight-member committee formed last December to study the 168-year-old Liverpool Cemetery, Romano told the trustees that the cemetery could be eligible for designation as a national historic destination.

First Street’s newest biz caters to furry friends

First Street is going to the dogs. And cats. But seriously, folks, a new business called Furrever Friends celebrated its grand opening Saturday, July 26, at the corner of First and Tulip streets. Owner Odean Dyer is anxious to meet your pets and improve their lives with healthy foods, cool accessories and professional groomings.

Critical Link V-P leads septet Saturday at Northeast Jazz & Wine Festival

Dave Rice is co-owner of Critical Link, a prominent town of DeWitt electronics product development company on Brooklawn Parkway, but he’s also a talented saxophone player and bandleader. His group, Tradewind, which also features his daughter, Lauren, will be showcased at the 2014 Northeast Jazz & Wine Festival at 3 p.m. Saturday, July 26, in downtown Syracuse’s Clinton Square. Admission is free.

Live music makes life worth livin’ in Liverpool

The village was rockin’ like it was sittin’ on top of the world last Wednesday, July 16. The BlackLites, one of Syracuse’s top rhythm and blues groups, boogied on the Amish-style country gazebo in front of a vintage-vehicle audience at Washington Park while the Black Water blues band plugged in two blocks away in the brick-lined amphitheater at Johnson Park where Liverpool Is The Place stages its free summer concerts. More than 400 folks enjoyed each band under the sunshine.

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Catchy ‘Catch’

Imposter thriller makes for murky musical at CNY Playhouse

Based on a film which was based on a ghost-written autobiography by an admitted scam artist, “Catch Me If You Can” is a far cry from your usual feel-good musical. But the venturesome CNY Playhouse dives right in, doing its level best to wring some sense of the offbeat blend of tunes and trickery.

Upside-down flag at American Diner signals distress

According to the United States Flag Code approved by Congress in July 1976, “The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.” Well, there’s nothing dangerous about eating home fries and hash browns at the American Diner, 214 Oswego St., so why is its Stars and Stripes hanging upside down?

Trustee hopes streetscaping starts soon at North Syracuse Village Center

North Syracuse Village Trustee Gary Butterfield is anxious to get the Village Center’s streetscaping project underway. Earlier this year, the village received approximately $850,000 from Onondaga County’s Save the Rain Program to pay for the Village Center Streetscape Improvements. At their July 10 meeting, village trustees declined to approve specifications for the work which will focus on a half-mile stretch on Main Street from Fergerson Avenue north to Gertrude Street.

Bringing the Swing Era into the 21st century

The future of the Bear Cat Jass Band may be a bit cloudy right now, but one thing’s clear as day: the hot octet will swing with abandon at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 14, at Johnson Park.

Change is the name of the game in banking

This month, Seneca Federal Savings and Loan Association, celebrating 85 years of service locally, will change its name to Seneca Savings. The old hometown bank has locations at 105 Second St. in Liverpool, 201 N. Main St. in North Syracuse and another one in Baldwinsville.

County-village agreement OKs public use of Griffin, Salt Museum lots

At its June 16 meeting, the Liverpool Village Board of Trustees approved two measures designed to encourage development on the basin block bounded by First and South Willow streets and Lake Drive. They passed a local law allowing site review applicants — who must demonstrate that enough nearby parking exists to accommodate customers — to count parking spaces located on-street and/or in municipal parking lots within 500 feet of the site. The new law, Local Law C, allows site-plan applicants to count up to 50 percent of their required parking that way.

Chicken gives new twist to Nicholini sausage

For decades, savvy shoppers have flocked to Nichols’ Supermarket at 327 First St., in Liverpool for its wide variety of quality meats. Well, that variety grew a bit wider last week, as the Meat Department proudly unveiled three new chicken sausage products. Not pork. Not turkey. Not country ham. Chicken!

New clerk in North Syracuse

Village Clerk-Treasurer Dianne Kufel has worked for North Syracuse for a dozen years, and now she’s getting some permanent part-time help. At their June 12 meeting, village trustees approved the hiring of Julia Getman as the village’s new part-time clerk.

Dallas admits double murder

Justin Dallas, the 27-year-old Syracuse man accused of murdering two women in Liverpool last October, pleaded guilty on June 19 in County Court to two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder and one count of second-degree assault.

Ballplayer ejected at first, steals home anyway

For decades, the Syracuse Chiefs have been relegated to the cellar of the International League North Division. Not anymore. A serendipitous convergence of circumstances — timely hitting paired with pitching that refuses to give up walks — have landed the hometown nine in first place.

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Femme fatale

Alicia Bronzetti makes impressive debut in CNY Playhouse mystery

Dame Agatha Christie – who wrote more than five dozen mystery novels and a dozen plays – thought “And Then There Were None” was her best piece of stage “craftsmanship.”

Curbing, new streetlights to spiff up North Syracuse Village Center

Mayor Mark Atkinson presided over a public hearing at the North Syracuse Board of Trustees June 12 meeting regarding the Village Center Streetscape Improvements project.

Ken Hurst recalls the days of ‘willow willpower’

Next month — God-willing — Ken Hurst will turn 95. But before he does, he’ll sit down to reminisce about livin’ in Liverpool in the 1920s at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 19, at Liverpool Public Library, 310 Tulip St. 457-0310; lpl.org. Admission is free and open to the public. I first got to know Ken when he ran the S&K, a quintessential mom-and-pop grocery store on Second Street where I would buy bottles of White Rock soda pop, comic books, bubble gum, Pez and plenty of penny candy.

Liverpool village trustee candidates run unopposed…again

Liverpool village trustees Nick Kochan and Jim Rosier are up for re-election on Tuesday, June 17, and unless someone mounts a surprise write-in campaign, the incumbents’ victory is assured. As usual, they are both unopposed. Rosier first took office in 2002 while Kochan, the former chairman of the Village Planning Board, became a trustee in 2006.

Eagle Ridge hosts Society for New Music fundraiser Saturday in Chittenango

The Syracuse-based Society for New Music is one of the few community-based new music organizations in the United States and the only such year-round group in New York state outside Manhattan. On Saturday, June 7, at 6 p.m. the society celebrates its 42nd consecutive season with an elegant supper served at Clear Path for Veterans at Eagle Ridge in Chittenango. The gala is called “From the Heart of New York.”

Mangicaro: hero of the football field

During his 20 years of coaching football at Liverpool High School George Mangicaro proved he was a winner, a dedicated educator who could motivate and organize his young gridders and turn them into men. Some of them, such as defensive end Tim Green and tight end Chris Gedney, went on to pro careers.

Will county lots accommodate overflow parking from basin block businesses?

When a new business files a site plan with the Liverpool planning board, they’re required to show that they have enough parking spaces to accommodate their staff and customers. The Liverpool Village Board of Trustees is mulling a change to the village code which will allow applicants to count parking spaces in adjacent municipal parking areas in addition to on-street parking spaces and whatever spaces they have on their own site.

Katko comes out swinging

As a federal prosecutor, John Katko took on Mexican drug cartels in El Paso and helped develop a gang task force in Syracuse. Now, as the Republican candidate for Congress in Central New York’s 24th District, he’s taking on the Democrats in Washington, D.C. “If I can get through to those gangbangers, I can get through to those knuckleheads in Washington,” Katko said in Liverpool on May 22.

Katko kicks off campaign tour at Post 188

Political pundits see November’s mid-term election as a referendum on Obamacare. John Katko, the Republican candidate for Congress in our 24th District, thinks the election will be much more than that. He looks at it as a chance for voters to lodge their objections to the overall ineffectiveness of the federal government.

Johnson Park hosts 24 free concerts again this summer, June 2 to Aug. 20

The Liverpool Is The Place Committee never fails to book a wide variety of musicians, singers and bands for its 24 free concerts presented on Monday and Wednesday evenings every summer at Johnson Park.

George Tortorelli returns to CNY May 17 to recall his work as boxer and bandleader

In the 1950s, George Tortorelli was a professional boxer trained by Syracuse’s renowned light heavyweight Ralph DeJohn. In the early-60s, George quit prizefighting to work as a professional musician, although he continued teaching the sport and boxing in exhibitions.

The Color Industry memorializes musician with ‘Harvestman’ CD

Everybody loved Collin Anderson. Blonde and brilliant, witty and warm, cultured and creative, the substitute teacher from Trumansburg seemed to have the world on a string. Even his pre-teen students knew he was something special. Instead of calling him “Mr. Anderson,” the fifth-graders called him “Mister A-plus.”

Longley Jones has option on local golf course

Ever since January we’ve been hearing that the Liverpool Golf & Public Country Club was being sold to a prominent local real-estate developer. In fact, Longley Jones has a purchase option on the property. Purchase options normally give the holder the right, but not the obligation, to buy at a predetermined price.

Old French Fort re-emerging as Great Law of Peace Center

When I was a kid, we called it the French Fort. For most of the past two decades the fortified French mission overlooking Onondaga Lake has been known as Saint Marie Among the Iroquois. It’s now undergoing transformation into a Haudenosaunee heritage center called Skä•noñh: Great Law of Peace Center. Skä•noñh is an Onondaga Nation greeting meaning “peace and wellness.”

Village planners recommend use for small strip of land on basin block

The five-member Liverpool Village Planning Board met for three hours and 13 minutes on April 28 after meeting for two and a half hours at a special meeting convened on April 7. Each session lasted more than twice as long as most planning board meetings.

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‘Scoundrels’ scores

Searle and Anderson click as competitive gigolos in BTG musical-comedy

The con is on when two disparate gigolos compete for the affections – and assets – of wealthy women at a French Riviera casino, in the Baldwinsville Theatre Guild’s musical production, “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” which opened here April 25. Written by Jeffrey Lane with songs by David Yazbek, “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” was first produced on Broadway in 2004, based on the 1988 movie of the same name starring Steve Martin and Michael Caine.

Newborn’s grandparents asking, ‘Waldo weighs what?’

Marilyn and Brian Dwyer must have thought their 29-year-old son was playing an April Fool’s joke on them when he called from Pennsylvania to report the birth of their grandson on April 14. The Dwyers, who live in Liverpool on Balsam Street, heard him report that the newborn, Waldo James Mysterious Dwyer, weighed 13 pounds and 8 ounces. Waldo weighed what? That’s right: 13 lbs. 8 oz.!

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Crawfish Festival 7 boils up seafood and salt potatoes in Clinton Square Saturday

It’s an old Louisiana adage: “Pinch the tail, suck the head.” Though it sounds salacious, it’s actually quite delicious. “Pinch the tail, suck the head” offers simple advice about how to eat boiled crawfish. Central New Yorkers will make a meal of the marvelous mudbugs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday May 3, when Operation Southern/Northern Comfort presents its seventh annual Crawfish Festival & Clambake in downtown Syracuse’s Clinton Square.

Gull fluttering its wings on the basin block

For more than a year now, we’ve all been looking forward to the opening of the Barking Gull. Located at 116 S. Willow St., on the southwestern corner of the basin block, the Gull, owned by the Gormel family, has hosted scores of private parties over the last decade and has been preparing to open up to the public for the past 13 months or so. The Barking Gull will feature an upstairs outdoor bar, a state-of-the-art wood-fired pizza oven and a mix of indoor and patio seating. Everything’s ready to go, so what’s taking so long?

Village trustees vote to spend $588,000 on Balsam St., Third St. and Hiawatha Trail

After approving a State Environmental Quality Review of the upcoming drainage projects at their April 14 meeting, the Liverpool Village Board of Trustees unanimously awarded a $587,747 bid to Joseph J. Lane Construction Inc., for work to be done on Balsam and Third streets and Hiawatha Trail. Trustee Jim Rosier, the board’s liaison to the Department of Public Works, urged Mayor Gary White to make sure that Lane Construction coordinates its effort with DPW Superintendent Bill Asmus.

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Human Library events bring people together at local libraries

Twenty curious people turned out Tuesday evening, April 15, at Liverpool Public Library to check out the “Human Library,” a scheduled 20-minute one-on-one with a person who has a certain expertise to share or a compelling story to tell. A Human Library is a living, breathing library where humans are the “books” and the stories are their lives.

Sure sign of spring: robins’ eggs in Christmas wreath

When former Liverpool Mayor Jon Zappola and his family returned from a recent sojourn in the Sunshine State, he went to remove the Christmas wreath from the house, and discovered a mother robin had laid five eggs in a nest she’d fashioned in the wreath. No wonder the Zappolas’ holiday wreath will remain up for a while on their First Street home! A former baseball coach and art teacher, Zappola now serves as chairman of the Liverpool Village Housing Authority, which oversees the House at 807 that has provided affordable housing for elders since 1999. The House at 807 on Oswego Street currently has two vacancies. If you’re interested in an apartment there, visit house-at-807.org,‎ or call 457-1334.

NSPD and Sherriff’s Office combine to arrest suspect in April 7 robbery at Seneca Federal

A 30-year-old man accused of robbing the Seneca Federal Bank at 201 N. Main St., in North Syracuse, on Monday, April 7, was arrested four days later at the home of an acquaintance. Lucas Lukenheimer, 30, of 2221 Brewerton Road, Mattydale, allegedly entered the bank branch at 2:55 p.m. April 7, and demanded money.

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Painter Maureen Lemko loves local landmarks

They may not be many, but the five oil paintings that comprise Maureen Lemko’s ongoing exhibit are certainly memorable. The artist colorfully depicts a quintet of familiar scenes in her work hanging through April at the Liverpool Public Library lobby. All artists aspire to show us our world through a new pair of eyes, and Maureen succeeds as she brings a fresh perspective to Old First, the village’s iconic burnt umber brick edifice. Other local landmarks Lemko rendered include Liverpool United Methodist’s famous purple door, an old willow basket barn, Liverpool Cemetery and Baldwinsville’s Abbott Farms.

Stormwater, parking top concerns for JGB Properties’ basin block project

When you plan to build on the site of an old Oswego Canal side-cut basin, you know that stormwater drainage will be a concern. When you plan three new buildings with a mix of residential, office and retail spaces on a block already home to a dozen businesses including four restaurants, parking spaces will also be a concern. At the March 24 Liverpool Village Planning Board meeting, JGB Properties shared details of its proposed development on the basin block bordered by First and South Willow streets and Lake Drive.

In spring a young man’s fancy turns to…baseball!

Ready or not, here comes baseball. Syracuse Chiefs groundskeeper John Stewart and his crew worked overtime last week scraping ice out of the dugouts at NBT Bank Stadium, where the local International League entry hopes to open its season at 2 p.m. Thursday, April 3. The top farm club of the Washington Nationals, the Chiefs will face New York Yankees Triple-A affiliate, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders, who remain in town for games at 5 p.m. Friday, and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 474-7833; syracusechiefs.com.

Next year, where will village put its piles of snow?

After that withering winter, especially that season-ending two-day blizzard March 12 and 13, most of us would like to forget about snow for the next six months or so. But Bill Asmus can’t afford to forget. He’s already worried about winter 2014-15. The superintendent of the village Department of Public Works since 1996, Bill needs to find a place to dump all the snow his crews plow from our streets and sidewalks.

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