Back to profile

Russ Tarby

Stories by Russ

After 119 years, historical society disbands

After 119 years, the Liverpool Historical Society has given up the ghost. Established in 1894 by local teacher Anna O’Neill, the LHS disbanded in September. The society had its roots in the Chautauqua movement, an adult-education crusade spawned at Lake Chautauqua in the Southwestern corner of the Empire State. The movement, spurred by its most popular speaker William Jennings Bryant, became immensely popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the early 1890s, O’Neill had apparently attended lectures at Chautauqua and spread its gospel to Liverpool where she created historical society to encourage self-education among women. Members were required to present short programs on topics regarding local history.

Many questions remain unanswered about basin block development

At its Sept. 23 meeting, the Liverpool Planning Board continued its discussion of proposed development at the Limp Lizard Bar & Grill, 201 First St. Liverpool Properties LLC, a firm created by prominent Liverpool businessman Val Lamont, who owns the Limp Lizard and White Water Pub properties, applied for permission earlier this year to add a deck at Limp Lizard.

Speaking up for those who do not speak

On Labor Day, Patrick J. Oneill from Massena left his 2-year-old black Labrador locked inside a vehicle parked at the State Fair. Temperatures hovered at a hundred degrees. More than four hours passed. Concerned fairgoers and a State Trooper made a valiant effort to save the animal, a female named Ali, but their first aid came too late. Oneill, 66, was charged with animal cruelty and failure to provide sustenance, a misdemeanor under the Agriculture & Markets laws. Turns out he was already accused of mistreating 22 horses he owned in Massena.

Planning board steps up; Ostuni, et al, make two recommendations regarding the basin block’s future

The Liverpool Planning Board wants the village to consider retaining ownership of at least one of two village-owned pieces of property on the basin block. Bounded by lower First Street, South Willow Street and Lake Drive, the block is the site of ongoing development.

Squadrito Foods closes, Pacific Health to open

For many years, 207 Oswego St. — which looks more like Old Liverpool Road to me — was the site of Ponderosa Steakhouse. Whenever my brother and his family visited from the West Coast, they’d enjoy digging deeply into Ponderosa’s all-you-can-eat buffet. A few years later, it became Wisteria, a Chinese restaurant, and in 2009 Juanita’s Mexican Kitchen relocated in from Syracuse’s North Side. Later that same year, another venerable North Side business, Squadrito Foods, moved into a storefront on the west side of the building.

Tease photo

Liverpool clock dedication set Sept. 18 at Washington Park Point

Jack Fisher found inspiration in the Sunshine State. “The idea for the Liverpool Clock Campaign started several years ago when a town clock was erected near the house my wife, Kay, and I own in Jupiter, Fla.,” said Fisher, the president of John E. Fisher Construction Company on Wetzel Road in Clay. “When we came home for the summer to Syracuse, I noticed a similar clock in the village of East Syracuse and decided to try to get support around a beautiful monument like this for the village of Liverpool.” Last month, a two-sided “Howard Street” clock was erected on a brick foundation at Washington Park Point at the intersection of Oswego and First streets, facing Heid’s Corner. Manufactured by the Verdin Clock Company of Cincinnati, Ohio, the Victorian-style clock was installed by a Fisher Construction crew.

B’ville man brings Havens back to the garden

On Sunday afternoon, Aug. 18, the ashes of music legend Richie Havens were scattered across the field where the Woodstock Festival took place in 1969, now the site of Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. The Day of Song and Remembrance Honoring Richie Havens was produced by my friend, Frank Malfitano, the founder and artistic director of the Syracuse Jazz Festival. The memorial celebration was free and open to the public. More than 1,000 fans, family members and friends attended, according to the Associated Press.

Liverpool to establish a tree commission to assess arboriculture

At the village board’s monthly meeting on Aug. 19, Trustee Nick Kochan volunteered to lay the groundwork for a tree commission to assess the village’s arboriculture. Once in place, the commission would involve village residents in efforts to inventory the village’s trees and identify their various species. Kochan models the plan after learning how the village of Fayetteville benefits from its tree commission “I hope that residents would bring some fresh vision and input to the process,” Kochan said. He also suggested that Cornell Cooperative Extension could contribute to the commission’s endeavors. Kochan’s first task is to address the village planning board regarding the commission. “I think it’s a great idea,” said Mayor Gary White. “We do consult an arborist, and we already have a little bit of a [tree] replacement program in effect.” But a commission, he said, could offer a more well-rounded approach. “Having a tree commission could help us stretch our dollars when it comes to getting grants and so forth,” Kochan said.

Tease photo

Liverpool luthier Matt Kielecki teaches instrument construction and repair

Banjos, fiddles, guitars and mandolins can be fun, but 31-year-old North Syracusan Matt Kielecki is deadly serious about his work building and repairing stringed musical instruments. Boasting a wealth of experience that would be the envy of many a luthier twice his age, Kielecki (pronounced Kah-LEK-e) now offers his services at the Family Music Center, 914 Old Liverpool Road. He previously worked for American Music & Sound, was the national guitar tech for Fernandez Guitars and managed quality control for Kaysound Imports which services thousands of retailers throughout the U.S. and Canada.

LPL screens new biopic about the man who broke baseball’s color line       

The new biographical feature film about Jackie Robinson declined to depict the infamous incident in which Syracuse Chiefs ballplayers taunted the black baseball pioneer by throwing a black cat onto the playing field. For decades, legend had it that the incident occurred at Syracuse’s MacArthur Stadium, but historical evidence indicates otherwise.

‘Almost anorexic,’ Schaefer now has a passion for life

For Jenni Schaefer, denial was a way of life. For years, she thought of herself as “almost anorexic.” Eventually, after studying biochemistry at Texas A&M University before moving to Nashville to play music, she was suffering the effects of a full-blown eating disorder, which she called Ed. That “almost anorexic” label was just a dodge, she realized, a devious self-sabotage. Her courageous chronicle of her journey, “Life Without Ed: How One Woman Declared Independence from Her Eating Disorder and How You Can Too,” became a breakthrough best-seller. Schaefer emerged as a leading light in the recovery movement.

A sign of the times at American Diner

American Diner owner Mike Tassone is not one to keep his opinions to himself. His diner’s menu spices its fare with quips and comments decrying the evils of too much government. Last week, a red-lettered sign went up outside the building’s west wall facing the railroad tracks where they cross Old Liverpool Road: “Repeal NYS S.A.F.E. Act “Honor the Second Amendment. “scopeNY.org.”

Elks to celebrate 25 years of Music Fest Sunday

Time flies when you’re having fun. Just ask the Liverpool Elks. One of the area’s most active fraternal orders will celebrate a quarter-century of Music Fests when the band plugs in at noon on Sunday, Aug. 11, at the club on Cold Springs Road. Four of Central New York’s best rock bands — The Fulton Chain Gang, Soul Mine, Kat Tale and Mood Swing — will perform one after another through 6 p.m.

New leadership on library board

The new president of the Liverpool Public Library Board of Trustees is Natalie Scavone and the new vice president is Tim Dodge. Scavone works as principal of alternative education at Cayuga-Onondaga Board of Cooperative Educational Services in Auburn, and Dodge is director of research and media relations at Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of New York, Inc. Dodge is also a published author. Scavone and Dodge take over this month for the outgoing president, Mark Spadafore, and the vice president, George Alessio, who both stepped down from their executive positions after many years of service but remain as members of the board. Joe Spado Sr. continues as the board’s secretary and Larry Dunstone continues as financial advisor. The other library board member is the former village mayor, Marlene Ward.

Films now flicker in Johnson Park

Grab your blankets and lawn chairs. The feeling of a drive-in movie will be in full effect both this week and next, as CNY & Syracuse FunFlicks will show two animated motion pictures on a 30-foot inflatable screen at the amphitheater at Johnson Park. The initial outdoor movie night with CNY & Syracuse FunFlicks was scheduled for Tuesday, July 23, with a dusk showing of “Wreck-it Ralph,” in which video-game characters take over an arcade at night. In case of rain, the movie would roll on Thursday, July 25.

John Gormel wants to buy two slivers of property on basin block

Bounded by lower First Street, South Willow Street and Lake Drive, the block that is already home to four restaurants will soon see significant development. The former site of an Oswego Canal basin, the block is zoned for mixed-use, both residential and commercial. Its commercial residents include the Limp Lizard Barbecue, 201 First St., appeThaizing, 105 First St., the White Water Pub, 110 S. Willow St., and the Barking Gull at the corner of South Willow and Lake Drive.

Zogg building on the block

The congregation of the Liverpool Community Church, which has occupied the historic Zogg building for 10 years, has decided to sell the property. The 85-year-old brick building stands at 800 Fourth St. in the village of Liverpool. Originally constructed in 1928 to become home to the junior and senior high schools, the structure’s adjacent ball fields stretch two blocks north to Sixth Street. The entire property is bounded by Birch, Fourth, Hickory and Sixth streets in the center of the village.

Memories of my irascible Uncle Walt

My Aunt Kate Tarbe died last week at age 93. Her late husband, my Uncle Walt Tarbe, spelled his last name with an E instead of a Y. His older brother, my Uncle Joe Tarbe, also spelled it that way while the younger brothers, my Uncle Ed Tarby and my dad, Russ, spelled it with a Y. Confusing, huh?

City-County Planning Board to review renovation plans at L’pool Limp Lizard

After having tabled a June 24 review of a revised site plan submitted by Liverpool Properties LLC, the village planning board examined the updated drawings at a special meeting on July 10 at the Village Hall. The plan calls for renovations on the property leased by Limp Lizard Barbecue at 201 First St., Liverpool Properties, owned by prominent local businessman Val Lamont, plans to construct a deck and a 49-space parking lot behind the Limp Lizard’s existing structure. The parking lot would be shared by the White Water Pub which also leases property from Lamont on the south side of the block at 110 S. Willow St.

Tease photo

Chamber hopes to generate mid-week business with ‘Market Wednesdays’

Despite oppressive heat, continual rainfall and spotty participation, “Mark Wednesday” marches on under the direction of the Greater Liverpool Chamber of Commerce. The sidewalk-sale promotion kicked of June 26 and continues from 4 to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays through Aug. 14.

Let’s not turn the clock into a controversy

For the past couple of weeks we’ve shared some ideas about the Liverpool Clock Campaign which aims to erect a Victorian-style timepiece at Washington Park Point at the intersection of Oswego and First streets. The brainchild of local businessman Jack Fisher, the clock campaign raised nearly $30,000 of its needed $35,000, and on June 17, village trustees voted unanimously in favor of making up the difference. They scraped up five grand from a federal “multi-modal” grant administered through New York state and designed to improve transportation around and about Washington Park. Mayor Gary White explained that the village would draw the money from $29,000 remaining from the original $305,677 grant awarded 12 years ago. Regardless of the mayor’s found-money explanation, some village residents have labeled the trustees’ action as irresponsible, frivolous, in essence a waste of money.

Tease photo

Horror film shot in B’ville premieres Thursday in Mattydale

They’re at it again. Yes, those kids from Baker High’s Class of ’11 continue to create untold terrors. Last year, director-screenwriter Matthew Lipke and company released their first feature-length movie, “Whiskey Hollow,” which explored the bloody legends of Baldwinsville’s Whiskey Hollow Road. This year, Lipke Productions expands its horror horizons with “A Demon in My View,” a psychological thriller inspired by the life and writings of Edgar Allan Poe. The movie stars Erin Lynn Doyle, also from the Class of ’11, who co-wrote and produced “Demon” with Lipke.

LHS classmates of 1937 recall dancing the Lindy Hop

Phil Christy’s best memories of attending Liverpool High School in 1937 focus on the good times. Sure, the nation had yet to fully recover from the Great Depression, but there was still fun to be had. “We danced and danced and danced,” Phil said June 23 at the Class of ’37 reunion at Carnegie’s Pier 57. We danced to the ‘Tiger Rag.’ We did the dipsy-doodle.” “It was no dipsy doodle,” chimed in his wife, the former Maggie Wackerle, who also graduated from Liverpool in ’37. Maggie’s right, of course. The popular dances of the day were jitterbugs like the Lindy Hop. The music was played by guys like Benny Goodman and Bunny Berigan. “We were good dancers, but of course, all the kids danced in those days,” Phil recalled. “I wish kids these days would dance like that.”

Tease photo

Liverpool village codes allow appeThaizing to promote itself in a big way

As the village planning board meeting came to a close on June 24, Chairman Joe Ostuni Jr. pointed out that a local business had painted a noticeable new sign along South Willow Street. The owners of appeThaizing, a Southeast Asian restaurant which opened a year ago at 105 First St., emblazoned their back wall along South Willow with the words “Thai cuisine” in three-foot-high purple letters.

Trustees kick in $5,000 of village money for vintage clock

Liverpool’s trustees figured it was about time that the village contributed some money to the Liverpool Clock Campaign spearheaded by local businessman Jack Fisher. When Fisher’s year-long fund-raising effort came up $5,000 short of its $35,000 goal to erect a Victorian-style timepiece at the eastern end of Washington Park, at their June 17 meeting the trustees voted unanimously in favor of making up the difference with village taxpayer dollars.

CSX will close Old Liverpool Road crossing July 13-14

Last year, CSX railroad informed the village of Liverpool that the crossing at Old Liverpool Road adjacent to Heid’s was scheduled for renovation. That work is now set for the weekend of July 13 and 14. At the village board of trustees meeting on June 17, Mayor Gary White reported that he’d recently attended a meeting with CSX officials who informed him of their plans. “That railroad crossing will be completely replaced,” White said.

Unopposed village elections return incumbents to office

Liverpool Mayor Gary White and two trustees, Bob Gaetano and Dennis Hebert, were returned to office in the June 18 village election, at the Village Hall on Sycamore Street. Meanwhile, in North Syracuse, two trustees ran unopposed to regain their seats. Gary Butterfield, owner of Butterfield Construction, and Alfred “Fred” Fergerson, owner of Fergerson Funeral Home and a seventh-generation village resident, gained 86 votes each. There were two write-in candidates for trustee. Butterfield is a Republican while Fergerson is not enrolled in a party.

After 42 years, Cindy Crooks retires from The Retreat

After four decades of hauling heavy trays of delicious food to hungry patrons at The Retreat, waitress Cindy Crooks is calling it a day at the end of this month.

Tease photo

Liverpudlian Mark Spadafore, North Syracusan Gary Robb recognized by county Democrats

Liverpool resident Mark Spadafore was honored as Towns Democrat of the Year by the Onondaga County Democratic Committee at its annual awards dinner June 13, at the Oncenter in downtown Syracuse.

Local girl fighting an antibiotic-resistant infection

Parishioners at St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church will gather Saturday afternoon to help out one of their own, the young and lovely Sarah Wansart who faces a lengthy recovery after being hospitalized with a serious MRSA infection. The daughter of St. Joe’s parish council member Jane Wansart, Sarah has been hospitalized for more than a month after developing complications. “Like her mother, Sarah is an energetic and compassionate person dedicated to serving others,” noted the parish music director, Eileen Brody. Besides serving on the parish council, Jane Wansart sings in the church choir under Brody’s leadership.

Tease photo

Immediate Mail Services company unfurls the biggest U.S. flag in Liverpool

Want to see Old Glory waving in the wind like you’ve never seen her before? Liverpool residents and visitors can celebrate Flag Day on Friday, June 14, by driving past Immediate Mail Services (IMS), at 245 Commerce Blvd. The Star-Spangled Banner flying there is one of the largest U.S. flags on display in Central New York. With a width (or hoist) of 24 feet and a length (or fly) of 35 feet, the IMS flag stands as one of the most impressive spectacles in Liverpool.

Macbeth’s witches to stir their brew at Johnson Park

A dark cave. In the middle, a caldron boiling. Thunder. Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble That Bill Shakespeare certainly had a way with words! The Liverpool Is The Place Committee apparently has a soft spot for The Bard. The committee, which brings you two dozen free concerts every summer at Johnson Park, is trying something new this year. At 7 p.m. on Fathers’ Day, Sunday, June 16, LITP has engaged Syracuse’s Redhouse Arts Center to present a one-hour adapted version of Shakespeare’s tragedy, “Macbeth,” at Johnson Park. The performance is designed for all ages, and admission is free. Considered one of Shakespeare’s darkest tragedies, “Macbeth” was originally staged circa 1607 in London. Set in Scotland, the action boils over with blood and betrayal as Lord Macbeth kills his king to fulfill his own lust for power. Wracked with guilt, Lady Macbeth leads her lord down a maelstrom of madness and death.

Village board determines town trapper can handle village infestation

Last summer three village residents complained about skunks to the board of trustees. The town of Salina trapper was “overwhelmed,” said one resident, and was not responding to calls from villagers plagued by the malodorous black-and-white weasels. Not so, now say the trustees. In April, trustees approved a 2013-14 village budget of $2,306,565, but it failed to fund the hiring of a village trapper as the board had informally agreed to do on Aug. 20, 2012.

Foster again challenges Nicotra for supervisor’s seat

The Salina Democratic Committee has designated two candidates for town council, one for supervisor, one for town justice and one for county legislature.

L’pool’s free summer concert series runs June 3 to Aug. 21

At least a dozen Syracuse Area Music Award-winners will perform this summer as part of the annual Liverpool Is The Place concert series. All concerts are free and take place from 7 to 9 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday evenings at Johnson Park, at the corner of Oswego and Vine streets, in Liverpool’s central business district.

LHS jazz musicians ready to swing into summer

Hot on the heels of a Gold-Rated performance at the recent Oneida Jazz Festival, the Liverpool High School Jazz Ensemble has a busy week coming up. At 7 p.m. Friday, May 31, the student musicians present their 16th annual Jumpin’ Jazz Jam featuring the Manhattan-based DIVA Jazz Orchestra, at the high-school auditorium at 4338 Wetzel Road. Then, at 7 p.m. Monday, June 3, they make their annual appearance to kick off the Liverpool Is The Place summer concert series at Johnson Park.

RR signals malfunction holds light red at Heid’s Corner

On 11 different occasions from January through May 21, the railroad crossing signal in the village of Liverpool has malfunctioned causing the traffic light at Heid’s Corner to hold a steady red stop-signal against southbound traffic on Oswego Street. The uninterrupted red light causes traffic to back up into the village and local police must step in to direct traffic.

Symphoria’s first full season an ‘Overture to the Future’

Symphoria outlined its first-ever full season for 2013-14 at a press conference down city at the Mulroy Civic Center on May 15. Fifth District Legislator Kathy Rapp (R-Salina) spoke at the press confab, reflecting on how far Symphoria has come in the single year since the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra sputtered out of business and into bankruptcy.

Tease photo

B’ville Theatre Guild stages comedy ‘First Things First’ May 17 to June 1

Pete and George have been best friends forever.

Irish Jack Murphy crosses his final finish line

Before I even started kindergarten, my family lived in Liverpool on Salina Street in an upstairs apartment rented by Mary Landers and squeezed between two thriving businesses, Steve’s tavern to the north and Irish Jack Murphy’s auto repair shop to the south. Jack was a master mechanic, but I knew, even as a 5-year-old, that he was much more than that. Jack was a champion race-car driver! On May 2 at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Jack crossed his final finish line. He was 85 years old.

Parishes in Park Saturday, and Masons mark 150

More than most civic groups, the Masons really respect and honor history. This weekend, the local lodge will celebrate some annals of its own. And as usual, the Masons will do it in style. The Liverpool-Syracuse Lodge No. 501 of Free & Accepted Masons will mark its 150th anniversary at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 11, by erecting a four-foot-tall obelisk monument in front of its building at 608 Oswego St., across from Johnson Park in the village. New York State Grand Master James Sullivan is expected to attend.

How sweet it is! Village trees bear sugary sap

Last month, my buddy Joe Romano gifted me with a quart of homemade maple syrup made from sap from old maple trees growing right here in the village. Actually, the syrup blends drippings from Liverpool silver maples and sugar maples down in DeRuyer, where Joe has a camp and a sugar shack. Anyhow, what you need to know is that the syrup’s sweet as sugar cane. A barely transparent chestnut brown, it pours evenly with consistency like soft honey. My pancakes never tasted so good! And it made me feel proud to know that this superlative confection comes from some of the same trees into which I’d carved my initials so many years ago.

Melanie melodies: Seventies icon skates on

In 1969, a sweet-voiced flower child from Queens, N.Y. named Melanie Safka performed a short solo set at the legendary Woodstock festival in the middle of a rainstorm. Now 66 years old and still going strong, Melanie will appear on Sunday, May 5, at the Catherine Cummings Theater, 16 Lincklaen St., in Cazenovia, following an opening set at 7:30 p.m. by Syracuse songwriter Larry Hoyt.

Tease photo

L’pool policeman Jerry Unger credited with cracking complex case

The crime occurred near Buffalo. The perp’s vehicle had been rented in Fulton. The suspect’s family lived in Syracuse. In spite of the disparate locales involved, Liverpool Police Officer Jerry Unger played a crucial role in cracking the case.

Interfaith activists celebrate social justice at ACTS spring banquet in L’pool

Central New York boasts a rich history of social activism, and the Alliance of Communities Transforming Syracuse (ACTS) keeps that tradition alive. More than 300 ACTS members, honorees and supporters filled the ballroom at the Holiday Inn at Electronics Parkway on Thursday, April 25, at the group’s sixth annual spring banquet. “This is an incredible sight,” exclaimed Mark Spadafore as he gazed out at the crowd from the podium. “There are people from different communities, people from different races and people from different faith traditions. Everyone coming together like this shows us that we have power, and power can change things.”

Tease photo

What a character!

Caz native Siobhan Fallon-Hogan rants and rambles about life as a sought-after actress

Whether you’re a member of her family or a member of her Film Talk audience, an evening with Siobhan Fallon-Hogan can be intense, uproarious and sometimes unsettling. Raised in Cazenovia before pursuing a successful career as one of Hollywood’s most versatile comic character actresses — the woman has an absolutely manic gift of gab. More than 180 film fans and students turned out April 16 at Le Moyne College’s Coyne Performing Arts Center to hear what the fast-talking Fallon had to say about her three decades in show business.

Skunk problem remains a low priority for village

In August 2008 several Third Street residents appeared before the Liverpool Village Board to complain about skunks inundating the neighborhood. In April 2011 in two separate incidents, Liverpool Police officers shot and killed two skunks which had been behaving strangely in village yards in broad daylight. Last summer, two longtime Liverpool residents complained to the mayor and trustees that the odious infestation had become unbearable. Salina’s animal-nuisance wildlife trapper told one resident that he was “overwhelmed” by the extent of the skunk problem across the town and unable to prioritize village properties threatened by the pesky polecats.

Liverpool levies stay flat though village budget increases slightly

After a brief public hearing on April 15, the Village of Liverpool Board of Trustees approved a 2013-14 budget of $2,306,565.32. The tax rate for village property-owners will stand at $12.25 per $1,000 of valuation, the same as it was for the 2012-13 cycle. In 2012-13, a home assessed at $100,000 received a village tax bill of $1,225. All properties in the village are also assessed a $150-per unit sewer rent charge.

Something new due on Old Liverpool Road

A new gymnasium will open for business later this year on Old Liverpool Road. It’ll be located a stone’s throw from Onondaga Lake, but its name will pay homage to a faraway ocean. Pacific Health Club, Inc. of Oswego received approval from the town of Salina Planning Board to open a facility at 604 Old Liverpool Road, where the old Bresee Chevrolet and Burdick Chevrolet dealerships sold thousands of cars and trucks. In November 2011, town voters rejected a proposal that would’ve allowed the town itself to buy the property for a new town hall and town highway operations.

Village of Liverpool taxes should remain flat

Property tax rates in the village of Liverpool will remain the same as last year if the Village Board of Trustees approves a proposed $2,328,210 budget for 2013-14. Village residents and business owners are invited to comment on the proposed budget at a public hearing set for 7:01 p.m. April 15, at the Village Hall, 310 Sycamore St. The budget will be available for review at the Village Hall starting on April 9, Sims said.

(Continued on Next Page)