UPDATE: The lockdown at the LHS campus has been lifted as of 9:45 a.m. We still do not know the nature of the verbal threat that caused the lockdown, but we will continue investigating and bring you that information as soon as we can.
In a secure courtyard near Syracuse’s Inner Harbor, on a daily basis, you can find a gathering of people engaged in any number of activities. They might be playing Bingo or trivia. They might be working on a small building project. If you head into the indoor area, you might find them baking or preparing snacks. What might surprise you is to find that all of these men and women have Alzheimer’s disease or some form of dementia. The Kirkpatrick Day Program is a social adult day program provided by the Alzheimer’s Association of Central New York. The program, which dates back to the early 1980s, came under the auspices of the Alzheimer’s Association in 1987.
More than 5,200 ducks took to Chittenango Creek in a race for more than glory — these ducks raced to raise money for the Bridgeport Food Pantry, which serves families in the towns of Cicero, Manlius and Sullivan. The Don’t Duck Hunger duck race, the brainchild of food pantry coordinator Patti Hedrick, typically raises about $25,000 for the pantry and is its major annual fundraiser; totals for this year’s race were not yet available at press time.
School is once again underway across Central New York. North Syracuse students headed back Wednesday, Sept. 4, and Liverpool schools opened their doors Thursday, Sept. 6. Both districts had some changes in store for students and staff; read on to find out what’s new.
Social media — sites like Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and LinkedIn — are meant to connect us, to link us to others with similar interests and backgrounds. But too often, it has the opposite effect; people hide behind the technology, losing the personal connection those sites are intended to encourage. Tim Ehrhart of Liverpool wants to change that. That’s why he, along with his father, Mike, and his uncle, Chris, created Beautiful Mess Online, a production company that uses multimedia performances, music and its website to help people “live connected lives.” The faith-based site, Tim Ehrhart said, aims to “share a message that connects people to the important things in their lives.”
Lauren Dodge knows all too well the pain of losing someone to suicide. “I got involved with [Stand Against Suicide] because of the friends that I lost to suicide growing up,” said Dodge, who lives in Liverpool. “I not only felt the direct heartbreak of losing a friend, but I also saw what their families had to go through after losing their child.” The worst part was that no one was able to talk about it. “Experiencing the loss of a friend to suicide when it was a ‘hush-hush subject’ in high school made the loss very difficult to cope with,” Dodge said. That’s why Dodge became secretary of Stand Against Suicide (SAS), which was founded in 2010 by Tara Dennee in memory of her father, Wayne Olmstead, who died by suicide in 2008. The Elbridge-based organization gained nonprofit status in 2012. It seeks to raise awareness about the risks of mental illness and to encourage those in need to get help. Through a grant from the Pepsi Foundation and local fundraisers, Stand Against Suicide seeks to erase the stigma surrounding the discussion of mental illness and suicide. SAS hosts support group meetings every Tuesday at the Elbridge Community Church for those who have lost a loved one to suicide, for those struggling with depression or other mental illness and their family members and for volunteers looking to help.
The Liverpool Central School District may join the ranks of other districts to take a stand against standardized testing. At its regular meeting Tuesday, Aug. 27, the board of education discussed a resolution calling for New York state to develop an accountability system that relies on something other than excessive standardized testing. The resolution also asks Congress to overhaul No Child Left Behind and to reduce testing mandates.
Doris Connor died after complications from a brain aneurysm in the summer of 2003. Now, her daughter, Hope Bednarski, has made it her mission to memorialize her mother as well as raise awareness of this scary disorder. For the second year in a row, she’s organized the Doris A. Connor 5K Race/1 Mile Walk in her mom’s honor.
Ophelia’s Place is once again partnering with the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) as a network member so that the smaller organization can better spread its message. Next Saturday, August 24, in conjunction with Ophelia’s Place, NEDA will hold its second annual Syracuse area walk at Longbranch Park in Liverpool. Registration begins at 9 a.m., with a special kick-off at 10 a.m. Live music, raffles, vendors and a food truck, along with special guest, Jenni Schaefer, author, speaker and eating disorder survivor, will be featured. Schaefer is author of “Life Without Ed,” “Goodbye Ed, Hello Me” and her latest release, “Almost Anorexic.” Schaefer will also be featured at a pre-walk coffeehouse talk at 7 p.m. Friday at the Café at 407, 407 Tulip St., Liverpool.
It wouldn’t be out of line to say that the fate of the Bridgeport Food Pantry rests on the back of a plastic duck — or a whole creek full of them. The pantry will hold its annual “Don’t Duck Hunger” duck race fundraiser at 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7 in the parking lot of St. Francis Parish in Bridgeport. The race typically raises approximately $25,000 for the pantry.
Math, ELA results still well above state average
According to this year’s math and English Language Arts (ELA) tests administered by the state of New York, less than a third of students in grades three through eight are performing at grade level. In Skaneateles, closer to 50 percent were proficient, though much work must be done to get school up to par with new Common Core learning standards.
If you’ve ever wanted to be chased by zombies, now’s your chance. On Oct. 20, you can be part of the Hallowrun for Hunger at Oneida Shores, which kicks off at 11 a.m. at the McKinley Shelter. The 5K course will feature student zombies from Cicero-North Syracuse High School, who will chase runners as they make their way along the course. But it’s not the zombies’ hunger that race organizers Liz Westfall and Megan Cuculich care about.
According to this year’s math and English Language Arts (ELA) tests administered by the state of New York, less than a third of students in grades three through eight are performing at grade level. The scores, released Wednesday, Aug. 7, represent a significant drop since last year, but State Education Commissioner John King insists there’s no cause for alarm.
According to this year’s math and English Language Arts (ELA) tests administered by the state of New York, less than a third of students in grades three through eight are performing at grade level.
As it turned out, Erin Hannagan was one of the lucky ones. Hannagan was 16 when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease May 25, 1993. But she would beat the disease. “I had been coughing for quite some time and had been diagnosed with multiple ‘colds,’” Hannagan recalled. “It finally got so bad that my mom took me to an urgent care center where a chest X-ray was done that revealed a large mediastinal [cavity containing the heart, esophagus, trachea, thymus and aorta] mass.”
A large group of politicians, citizens and businessmen and –women have launched an initiative to encourage the state to keep a 1.4-mile stretch of Interstate 81 as it is instead of turning it into an arterial boulevard. Savei81.org revealed itself at a press conference on Thursday, Aug. 1, in downtown Syracuse, where supporters spoke out against the New York State Department of Transportation’s proposal to turn I-81’s viaduct stretch, the elevated portion of the highway that runs through the central business district, into an arterial boulevard through the city with stoplights and cross streets, something the group said would irreparably damage the city’s economy by creating a backlog of traffic. The group also issued a press release after the conference outlining its goals.
Maureen Humphrey lost her child to cancer, but not in the traditional sense. Humphrey was pregnant in June of 2001 when she learned that she had clear cell adenocarcinoma, a rare and aggressive cervical cancer that necessitated a radical hysterectomy as well as the removal of 28 lymph nodes. “No one ever expects that cancer or illness will happen to them, and we certainly felt the same way,” said Susan Bertrand of Baldwinsville, Humphrey’s older sister. “Maureen's cancer diagnosis was a shock, but worse than the diagnosis was the grief she felt knowing she was going to lose her unborn child and never again have the chance to conceive or carry her own child again.”
Chris Arnold and Ellen Yeomans thought a bone marrow transplant would cure their daughter’s leukemia. Paige Yeomans Arnold was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) in June of 1993. The cancer is typically found in adults, not children, who are more likely to get acute myelogenous lymphoma (AML) or acute lymphocytic lymphoma (ALL). At first, she was treated with an experimental drug called Interferon, which put her into a brief remission. But a few months later, the cancer returned, leaving the family with just one choice: a bone marrow transplant.
According to the severance agreement between the North Syracuse Central School District and former superintendent Dr. Kim Dyce Faucette, Dyce will continue to get her salary payments for up to the next year and a half. The agreement, released Friday, outlined the buyout agreement between Dyce and the district after Dyce announced her resignation July 12. It states that Dyce will continue to receive salary payments totaling $182,000 until July 12, 2014. Dyce must make a “good faith” effort to find a job that pays at least $165,000; if she is unable to do so by July 12, she will continue to receive salary payments for six months, not to exceed $91,000.
Things looked bleak for Emma Brooke Whitehead. The 6-year-old had acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and the cancer looked terminal. Two years of chemotherapy had little effect. Doctors at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) estimated that she had a month to live. Because of her unlikely chance for survival, Emma’s doctors decided to take a huge risk: They injected her with a genetically modified HIV stripped of its capacity to induce AIDS and modified to turn millions of Emma’s T-cells into so-called “serial killer cells” that would destroy the cells ravaging her body. The modified cells attached themselves to the cells possessing a cancer antigen called CD-19, which attach themselves to the lymphocytes in leukemia patients, and destroy those cells.
At a special meeting of the North Syracuse Central School District Board of Education, the board announced that Superintendent Dr. Kim Dyce Faucette has resigned. After a 30-minute executive session, Board President Pat Carbone made a resolution to approve the separation agreement between Dyce and the district. The board unanimously approved the resolution.
A Change.org petition calling for the North Syracuse superintendent’s firing has garnered more than 100 signatures. The petition, started by James Smith, asks the North Syracuse Central School District Board of Education to terminate the contract of Dr. Kim Dyce Faucette, who became the district’s superintendent in August of 2011. Her contract is set to expire next summer.
At the heart of the village of Liverpool, there’s a little café with a big mission. The Café @ 407, located at 407 Tulip St., opened in 2009 as a way to help fund Ophelia’s Place, a support and resource center for individuals and families impacted by eating disorders. The café’s sales of food and coffee provide a good portion of the money to help the center function. Now, to better serve that mission, the café is looking for your help to complete a necessary expansion. “We definitely underestimated what we would need [when we built the café],” said Mary Ellen Clausen, founder of Ophelia’s Place. Clausen stepped down as executive director in 2012 to become its funding director. When the café opened, it used donated equipment, including a residential refrigerator and stove with only three working burners. Since then, it’s become a community hotspot, necessitating an upgrade to its facilities.
At first, Melissa Lowell thought her son Nate was just tired. “This time last year [he started getting sick],” Melissa said. “It started off, he just had a cough. It was the end of the school year and he seemed fatigued. It was nothing out of the ordinary. I just figured it was because school was over. He was leaving a teacher he loved. He gets emotional with change, as any kid does.” But the cough didn’t go away. Nate, then 10, was complaining that he couldn’t breathe, couldn’t swallow. After a couple of weeks, Melissa and her husband Jimmy took him to an urgent care facility near their home in Herkimer County. He was diagnosed with asthma and given prednisone and an inhaler, which helped at first, but soon proved ineffective. A visit to Nate’s pediatrician July 3, 2012, suggested pneumonia.
With the help of Warner Energy LLC, a Clay-based business that designs and develops solar project for clients nationwide, Clay officials are planning the installation of a 99kW solar array at Town Hall and the highway garage to reduce and stabilize energy costs.
Jenni-Lyn Watson lived to dance. In her memory, her family is holding a golf tournament to help others who share the same passion. Jenni-Lyn Watson, a 2008 Liverpool High School graduate, was murdered by her ex-boyfriend, Steven Pieper, in November of 2010 while she was home on break from Mercyhurst College, where she was studying dance. Pieper is currently serving a 23-year-to-life sentence in prison. The golf tournament, to be held Saturday, July 20, at Radisson Greens in Baldwinsville, raises money for the Jenni-Lyn Watson Memorial Fund.
On any given street corner all summer long, you’re likely to find a gaggle of kids hawking lemonade and cookies. But some of those would-be salesmen and –women are selling for a good cause. This Friday, June 28, and Saturday, June 29, Madison King, 9, Owen Greco, 9, and Nadia Greco, 7, will set up a lemonade stand at 8434 Rollercoaster Drive, Cicero, and donate the proceeds to Alex’s Lemonade Stand, a charity that funds pediatric cancer research.
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.
The Liverpool Central School District conducted a nationwide search for its new superintendent, but it needn’t have looked far from home. Last week, the LCSD Board of Education announced the appointment of Mark Potter to the position. Potter, who is currently serving as the district’s executive director of secondary education, will start Aug. 1, replacing Interim Superintendent Edward P. Backus. Backus took over for Dr. Richard N. Johns, who went out on medical leave in March. Johns joined the district in 2009.
East of the playground at Willowfield Elementary, there’s a 20-year-old red maple tree nestled among the greenery. I helped plant that tree as a sapling, tossing in a shovelful of soil along with dozens of others who finished the sixth grade at WFE in the summer of 1993, because that shovelful of dirt was all we could offer to honor the friend in whose memory the tree was planted. Nick Isgro passed away after a battle with leukemia on June 19, 1993. He’d had a bone marrow transplant in Boston not long before, but developed complications after the surgery. That very day, we’d held a car wash in order to raise money for his care at the school; we all danced around and sang a song we made up (the lyrics and tune escape me now) and sprayed each other with the hose and threw sponges at each other (I doubt too many cars actually got clean) while Nick breathed his last. It took me years to stop feeling guilty about that.
Jim Wemesfelder is set to retire July 26. That means he’ll have completed 43 years as the director town of Salina’s parks and recreation department — possibly longer than any other commissioner in the state and perhaps the country.
Two years ago, the town of Cicero was in a fiscal crisis. Now, things have turned around. At a press conference Wednesday, June 12, Supervisor Jim Corl announced that the town was $1.6 million under its 2012 budget.
The village of North Syracuse has established a 911 Pet Fund, so that, through community fundraisers and donations, such animals can receive the care they need immediately.
The Liverpool Central School District has named Mark Potter as its new superintendent. Potter, who is currently serving as executive director of secondary education, will start Aug. 1, replacing Interim Superintendent Edward P. Backus. Backus took over for Dr. Richard N. Johns, who went out on medical leave in March. Johns joined the district in 2009. Potter’s appointment was announced at the June 10 LCSD BOE meeting.
One Sunday every year, Cicero United Methodist Church takes a break from traditional services and sermons and instead encourages parishioners to go out into the Cicero community and make a difference. “It’s something that the United Methodist Church nationally started to remind us that sometimes we need to worship with our hands,” said Rev. Rebecca Laird, associate pastor at the church. “It’s not just about coming to a building and being here on Sunday morning and worshipping that way. It’s about more than that. It’s about taking the love that we get from that and going out into our community and using it to better our community and taking God’s grace and sharing it with anyone that we meet.” The church held its fourth Be the Church Sunday June 2, conducting a variety of projects from packing goodie bags for the Military Appreciation Room at the airport to making lap robes for patients at Van Duyn Home Hospital to baking banana bread for the homeless to doing home renovations and garden projects for a Sudanese family on Syracuse’s North side.
Year in and year out, the community fills the grounds behind Sacred Heart Church on Route 11 for the Cicero Community Festival. “We usually average about 7,000 people,” said Steve Becker, one of the event’s organizers. “I think that speaks for itself. It’s become a tradition year in and year out to come to the festival. The cruise night is popular. People like seeing the classic cars. People love Ruby Shooz. We have hundreds of people come to the parade, participating as well as watching.” The festival, which celebrates its 21st year when it kicks off Friday, June 7, is offered by the Greater Cicero Chamber of Commerce every year to support area businesses. Drivers Village co-sponsors the event.
The town of Cicero won’t be holding a farmers market at Drivers Village — or anywhere else — this summer. According to organizer Julie Raddell, not enough vendors registered to sell at this year’s market, forcing its cancellation. “Unfortunately, too few vendors registered in advance for stall spaces at the market,” Raddell said. “We received plenty of calls from interested vendors, but without their actual reservation, I couldn’t take the risk that they would consistently show up and pay for a space.”
Looking for a fun family-friendly activity this weekend? Look no further than the North Syracuse Family Festival, which will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. May 25, in Lonergan Park. The eighth annual festival is a North Syracuse mainstay, offering a variety of activities for all ages. The event also features a variety of free events, including demonstrations from the police and fire departments, live music, caricature drawings, a kids’ playland, face painting, balloon animals, child ID program, children’s art corner, a Civil War demonstration, small horse rides (new this year) and the ever-popular Teddy Bear Parade for kids ages 2 through 6. “We are a big family party with a so much going on that you need the whole time to take it all in,” said Family Festival Committee member Pat Fergerson. “It is a place to have family-friendly fun.”
Marc Alessi will always remember his father laughing. “There was not a night when my dad didn’t crack a joke,” the Liverpool High School junior said. “My dad was a hilarious person and loved comedy. One of the most important and recent memories with my dad was watching Kung Fu Panda. We both loved that movie so much and every time it was on we would be watching it. We always loved to joke about the characters and the plot line, and it was just hilarious.” Marc’s father, Dave, passed away from a rare degenerative disease called spinocerebellar ataxia type 2 on Oct. 4, 2011. In his honor and to raise awareness about the illness that claimed him, Marc has organized the Walk for Dave, which will take place from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 25, at the LHS track.
The village of North Syracuse will hold its regular elections on June 18. Two incumbent trustees are running for two open seats and village justice Robert Bertrand is running unopposed. Bertrand did not respond to our request for information, but read on for information about the trustees.
Looking for a fun family-friendly activity this weekend? Look no further than the North Syracuse Family Festival, which will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. May 25, in Lonergan Park. The eighth annual festival is a North Syracuse mainstay, offering a variety of activities for all ages. The event also features a variety of free events, including demonstrations from the police and fire departments, live music, caricature drawings, a kids’ playland, face painting, balloon animals, child ID program, children’s art corner, a Civil War demonstration, small horse rides (new this year) and the ever-popular Teddy Bear Parade for kids ages 2 through 6.
Voters in the North Syracuse Central School District rejected the proposed $144 million 2013-14 budget Tuesday, forcing the district to rework the proposal before presenting it again next month. North Syracuse had requested a 5.33 percent tax increase. Voters rejected the budget by a margin of 1,989 to 1,680, which didn’t reach the required supermajority for approval.
In Liverpool, voters approved the budget by a vote of 1,151 to 651. The $135 million budget, which restored several positions cut in previous budgets as well as foreign languages at the seventh-grade level, called for a 4.71 percent tax increase, which, accounting for PILOTS, new construction and other factors, falls within the tax cap.
This summer, kids who participate in Before and After School Child Care On Location (BASCOL) in Liverpool will have the opportunity to take part in the ultimate summer experience, regardless of their needs or ability. Thanks to the National Inclusion Project, which awarded BASCOL a $10,000 grant, the child care program will present “Let’s All Play: Inclusion in Recreational Programs” at Long Branch Elementary as well as St. Ann’s School in Syracuse.
North Syracuse will hold its budget and board of education vote Tuesday, May 21. Residents will vote for three BOE members; four candidates are running. The polling places are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.; if you live north of Route 481, vote at Cicero Elementary on Route 31. Residents living south of Route 481 should vote at the district office, 5355 W. Taft Road, North Syracuse. The budget itself is $144 million. The estimated tax increase is 5.33 percent; the tax impact is about $23.10 per $100,000 of assessed value. The budget includes full-day kindergarten. The full budget can be found at nscsd.org. Read on for profiles of the candidates.
Liverpool will hold its budget and board of education vote Tuesday, May 21. The polling place, open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., is Liverpool High School, 4338 Wetzel Road, Liverpool. Voters will choose three representatives for BOE; three candidates are running. The budget itself is $135 million and represents a 4.71 percent increase over last year's budget. The tax levy increased by 5.2 percent; the tax impact is estimated at 4.2 percent. The full budget can be found at liverpool.k12.ny.us. Read on for profiles of the candidates running for BOE.
Five years from now, the Syracuse skyline could look very different. Instead of an elevated highway heading into the city, the New York State Department of Transportation could construct an arterial boulevard. Or an underground tunnel. Or an iconic bridge. Truthfully, the DOT isn’t sure yet what the new Interstate 81 will look like. They just know that something needs to be done to replace the existing structure. “Bridges are designed to last for a certain period of time,” said Beau Duffy, public information officer for the NYS DOT. “The I-81 viaduct in Syracuse is reaching this point in time. Because repair and refurbishment of the bridge involves a significant investment, it makes sense, from a cost-benefit perspective, to look at potential alternatives for the future of the corridor.”
Editors at Eagle Newspapers were honored for their work at two recent awards ceremonies that celebrate the best journalism in Central New York and statewide.
Every day, Central New York families are finding it harder and harder to put food on the table. The Brewerton Food Pantry saw a 14 percent increase in the number of families it serves between 2011 and 2012, and that trend seems to be continuing into 2013. “I registered two new families on Thursday, so we’re constantly getting new people,” said longtime volunteer Lauren Lalley. Pantry coordinator Deb Lombard agreed. “We’re getting a lot of people who are working; they’re just not making enough to pay their mortgage or their rent, their utilities, their doctor’s bills, and food seems to fall by the wayside,” Lombard said. “And some of them don’t get as much food stamp assistance as they used to. They’re cutting back on certain things. We try to meet the needs of those people as much as we can.” For that reason, pantries like the one in Brewerton are becoming more and more important — and more and more of a community undertaking. The pantry is a truly ecumenical effort. It’s housed at the Brewerton United Methodist Church, which has partnered with St. Agnes Roman Catholic Church, Calvary Baptist Church and Christian Church to run the operation, which covers Brewerton from the Onondaga-Oswego county line down to Cicero.
Reisie Murchison has every reason to believe in angels. “I met Norm, and his words were, ‘We’ll be there for you,’” Murchison said. “I remember like it was yesterday. I thanked him, he said, ‘You don’t understand. We’ll be there for you until the end.’ And he didn’t lie. Operation Southern Comfort came in and put me in a comfort zone. I felt comforted that all of these angels were around me doing everything they could. They fixed up everything.” Murchison will get to thank her angels in person this weekend. Thanks to an anonymous benefactor, Murchison, her daughter and her father will fly up to Syracuse from St. Bernard Parish, La., for the annual Crawfish Festival, the major fundraiser for Operation Southern/Northern Comfort.