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Sarah Hall

Stories by Sarah

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LHS junior conducting toy drive for Rescue Mission

Amanda Hebblethwaite was literally woken from a sound sleep one night by a drive to help others. “I woke up in the middle of the night one night and thought about how awful it would be not to be able to have your parents be able to give you gifts for Christmas,” Hebblethwaite said. “The next morning I talked to my mom about it, and she suggested I start a donation drive for some place like the Rescue Mission.” Hebblethwaite ended doing just that. The Liverpool High School junior is conducting a toy drive for the Rescue Mission, collecting new and gently used toys for children in need.

Final redistricting report presented to LCSD BOE

At the Liverpool Central School District’s Board of Education meeting Monday, Nov. 18, the Redistricting Committee gave its final presentation to the board, offering recommendations on how to redraw the district’s lines for the first time in decades.

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Facebook campaign encourages random acts of kindness in memory of Liverpool dancer

In order to commemorate her life, Frieda Weeks has organized a social media campaign on the anniversary of her daughter Heather’s death. She created an event, “Random Acts of Kindness in Memory of Heather Weeks,” on Facebook that, as of Wednesday evening, had more than 1,200 people attending from as close as Liverpool and as far away as Nigeria.

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Becoming Drew: CNY family discusses coming to terms with son’s transgender journey

For 15 years, Terri and Vince Cook thought they had a daughter. But as they watched their child change from the vibrant, happy kid they’d always known to a withdrawn, depressed and ultimately suicidal teen, they knew something was very wrong. “We’d been through the hard teenage years with [our older son], and we’d seen this,” Terri Cook said. “This was different. This was someone who was just struggling and nobody could figure out why.” It took years of turmoil before the Cooks could determine the root of the problem: Drew Cook was transgender, which meant that although he was physically female, he identified mentally and emotionally as a male.

North Syracuse releases goals for the 2013-14 school year

Last year, the North Syracuse Central School District released a strategic plan outlining the district’s goals for the next three years. However, according to Superintendent Annette Speach, many people felt the plan wasn’t working for the district. “The comments that I’ve gotten, the general feeling was that it encompassed too much and we weren’t able to prioritize,” Speach said. “We wanted something we could focus on for this year, something we could give everyone in the community — teachers, students, parents — as a common focus, at least for this year.” At its Nov. 4 meeting, the NSCSD Board of Education approved a new list of goals for the 2013-14 school year.

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LHS to present ‘The Laramie Project’

Liverpool High School’s Casting Hall will stage "The Laramie Project" at 7 p.m. Thursday, November 14, and Friday, November 15, at 7 p.m. in the LHS Auditorium. General admission tickets cost $8 and will be available at the door. Some people may find the subject matter and some of the specific language of the play unsuitable for children under the age of 13.

Fleet Feet opens Clay store

When you’re named the top running store in America, it would seem there’s nowhere to go but up. That’s exactly where Fleet Feet Sports went — well, north, anyway. Fleet Feet, a locally owned and operated store “dedicated to creating an inclusive environment in which all types of people receive outstanding service in the fitting of running, walking and cross training shoes as well as accessories and apparel for the active lifestyle” (according to its website) opened a second location in Market Fair North Plaza at 4136 Route 31, Clay, across from Great Northern Mall Friday, Nov. 1. The expansion was a result of expanding business in the original location in DeWitt, as well as a growing customer base in the north suburbs.

Salina: Nicotra beats Foster; Rapp, Tassone returned to legislature

In a repeat of the 2011 election, Salina Supervisor Mark Nicotra, a Republican, defeated Democratic challenger Patrick Foster by a margin of 3,754 to 1,725 votes. “As an elected official, you get a report card every two years, and that’s Election Day,” Nicotra said. “Obviously, we had a favorable report card.”

Cicero: Corl coasts to legislature, Zambrano, Boyke duke it out

In a heated race, former allies Jessica Zambrano and Judy Boyke battled to the last for the supervisor’s seat in the town of Cicero. In the end, the seat went to Republican Zambrano, who received 2,685 votes to Democrat Boyke’s 2,547. Zambrano said she was obviously pleased with the outcome of the election and planned to continue the work she had begun as deputy supervisor.

Orders of protection do help victims, law enforcement in domestic violence cases

Brandy Dallas had an order of protection against her estranged husband, but it appears it didn’t do her any good. In July, Justin Dallas was arrested after allegedly holding her against her will. He was charged with unlawful imprisonment, second-degree menacing, fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon and endangering the welfare of a child. A judge issued a temporary order of protection, ordering Dallas to stay away from Brandy Dallas. But he didn’t heed the order. According to the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department, Dallas’s estranged husband, Justin Dallas, 26, went to the home where she was staying at 915 Second St. in the village of Liverpool, owned by Samantha Rainwater, 30, on Monday, Oct. 28. Deputies say he then argued with his wife and stabbed both Brandy Dallas and Rainwater multiple times. A third woman in the home, who has not been identified, received superficial wounds, as well as minor injuries when Dallas pushed her down the stairs. Dallas was apprehended by Liverpool Village Police and Onondaga County Sheriff’s Deputies. He has been charged with murder in the first degree, two counts of murder in the second degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree. He pleaded not guilty and is being held without bail. So what good is an order of protection? Is it worth any more than the paper it’s printed on?

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Heid’s owner succumbs to cancer

One of Liverpool’s most popular restaurants went dark temporarily the night of Oct. 30 as Heid’s shut down so that its staff could pay respects to owner John Parker. Parker, who has owned the hot dog hotspot since 1995, lost his battle with cancer Oct. 26.

Feeding mind and body: OCC food pantry helps struggling students

When you hear about problems on college campuses, you tend to think of binge drinking, budget cuts or fraternity hazing. But one of the biggest problems these days is hunger. A growing population of college students is struggling to make ends meet, unable to make tuition payments and pay for meals. There’s no comprehensive data available, but a City University of New York survey found that “39 percent [of students] had either gone hungry for lack of money, skipped meals, or been unable to afford balanced meals” in 2009. In order to help its students through the struggle, Onondaga Community College has joined a number of colleges nationwide in starting a food pantry.

Hallowrun for Hunger announces final numbers

The first-ever Hallowrun for Hunger, organized by Cicero-North Syracuse High School sophomores Liz Westfall and Megan Cuculich, raised more than $5,000 for the Food Bank of Central New York and attracted more than 300 runners.

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LHS girls’ volleyball teams to hold fundraiser to help Golisano Children’s Hospital

Every year, as a way to give back to the community, the Liverpool High School girls’ volleyball teams hold a craft fair at the high school. This year, they’re doing a little something more. The teams will be collecting fabric to make blankets for the children at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital.

UPDATE: NSJHS placed on lockdown Thursday afternoon

UPDATE: The North Syracuse Junior High School was briefly placed on lockdown Thursday afternoon while state police searched for a suspect in a nearby armed robbery.

Clay to host meeting on waterfront project

For nearly 20 years, the town of Clay has been working on fixing up the Three Rivers site where the Seneca, Oneida and Oswego rivers meet. “It’s been a long process,” said Clay Town Board member Naomi Bray, who has made it her mission to see the project to fruition. “It gets frustrating. But it’s definitely an ongoing process.” The town is ready to move into the next stage of that process with a meeting to be held from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27, in the meeting room at Town Hall, 4401 Route 31, Clay. The meeting marks the next phase of the execution of the Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) grant received by the town in the early 2000s.

Northern Onondaga County legislature profiles

While a few northern Onondaga County Legislature districts are unopposed this time around, a couple of districts feature contested races. In the fourth district, Democrat Carol Sinesi takes on incumbent Republican Judy Tassone, while Democrat Gary Brisson will try to unseat long-term incumbent Republican Kathy Rapp in the fifth district. Read on for candidate profiles.

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Cicero firefighters, police officers receive awards

Several Cicero Volunteer Fire Department members and Cicero police officers were honored for their lifesaving efforts at an awards ceremony Saturday, Oct. 19.

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North Syracuse unveils newly refurbished village seal

For some 27 years, the village of North Syracuse seal adorned the front of village hall. But the effects of 27 winters, summers, springs and autumns took their toll, and the wooden sign began to fade. “The sun hits this site pretty good, so it gets pretty weathered,” said Mayor Mark Atkinson. “We knew we had to do something to bring it back.” On Wednesday, Oct. 16, the village unveiled the newly restored sign. The seal depicts the plank road that once ran through the village, the first in the country; that road is now Route 11. The road, once made of hemlock, served as the inspiration for L. Frank Baum’s Yellow Brick Road in the “Wizard of Oz” books. Also on the seal is the structure that now serves as the North Syracuse Community Center — a former functioning trolley station — as well as a trolley car being pulled by horses. Along the bottom are the words “Yesterday’s Road to the Future” along with the village’s year of incorporation, 1925.

Hallowrun for Hunger is this weekend

Don’t miss your chance to get chased by zombies — and help the hungry at the same time. The first-ever Hallowrun for Hunger, organized by Cicero-North Syracuse High School sophomores Liz Westfall and Megan Cuculich, will take place at 11 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 20, at the McKinley Shelter at Oneida Shores Park in Brewerton. 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. The event will raise money for the Food Bank of Central New York, the main food supplier to 268 emergency food programs in 11 counties in the state.

North Syracuse voters approve referendum

Voters in the North Syracuse Central School District overwhelmingly approved a $2 million referendum to make repairs to the Michael J. Bragman Athletic Complex at Cicero-North Syracuse High School, as well as security upgrades at the same building. A total of 1,650 votes were cast, with 1,331 votes in favor of the referendum and 319 against.

Town of Salina candidate profiles

In Salina, it's a typically heated race. All but two seats are opposed, with many familiar faces again throwing their hats in the ring. Read on to learn more about the candidates.

Much is in store for lead-up to election

This year is an important one for anyone concerned with local government and looking to make a choice that they feel will benefit the community. On Nov. 5 the residents of Cicero, Clay and Salina will elect new town officers.

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Surviving the saddest loss: CNY-PIBN provides resources for those facing perinatal and infant loss

The smell of Laurie Farrell’s daughter is starting to fade from the box of mementos she brought home from the hospital five years ago. The contents of the hand-painted box — a Beanie Baby, a receiving blanket, a small knitted cap, a crocheted blanket, a tiny gold ring and a bracelet — is all Farrell has left of her little girl. Emily was stillborn in November of 2008. “These are things she wore, and these are amazing mementos for me as a parent,” said Farrell, of Onondaga Hill. “Every year when I open it up on the anniversary date, I can still smell her.”

Vote ‘yes’ on NSCSD referendum

There is no compelling argument against voting for the upcoming referendum to replace the turf and running track at the Michael J. Bragman Athletic Complex at Cicero-North Syracuse High School, as well as make repairs to the field’s drainage system and upgrades to the high school’s security system. The project will cost a total of $2,020,000. The local share of $302,000 would come out of the district’s C-NS Athletic Complex Reserve Fund, which was approved by district voters on Oct. 14, 1998, according to Assistant Superintendent for Management Donald Keegan.

Town of Clay candidate profiles

The upcoming town of Clay elections will feature, for the first time since 2007, Democrats on the ticket. Two Dems are vying for town board seats. The remaining seats - supervisor, town clerk, tax receiver and the remaining board seat - are uncontested. Read on for profiles of all the candidates.

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Liverpool third-grader takes on bullying in Syracuse-Binghamton Miss Jr. Pre-Teen pageant

Brianna Stone Waryan is more than just a pretty face. The 8-year-old third-grader in Mrs. Montalto’s third grade class at Donlin Drive Elementary in Liverpool will compete in Saturday’s Miss Jr. Pre-Teen Syracuse/Binghamton pageant, vying against numerous other young ladies in such categories as talent, casual wear, formal wear and interview. But Waryan, who is autistic and deals with sensory processing disorder, has a more important message she hopes to spread at the pageant. “People should not be bullying in school,” she said. “It’s kind of mean. I’ve been bullied before. Kids should be able to grow up and stick up for their friends without being bullied or getting their feelings hurt.”

Local emergency responders to be honored

Several emergency responders from Cicero will receive awards for their efforts to save lives at a ceremony later this month. Members of the Cicero Fire Department, Cicero Police Department and North Area Volunteer Ambulance Corps (NAVAC) will be honored at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, at the Cicero Fire Department, Station No. 1, 8377 Brewerton Road (Route 11), Cicero, CFD Chief Jon Barrett announced.

Clay proposes 1.62 percent tax increase

Taxpayers in the town of Clay will likely face a slight increase in taxes in 2014, according to the tentative budget presented Monday, Oct. 7. Town Clerk Jill Hageman-Clark presented the budget proposal to town board members at the regular board meeting. There was no discussion of the proposal, as this is the first they’ve seen of it. Additional discussion of the budget will take place in the future. According to Supervisor Damian Ulatowski, the budget proposes a 1.62 percent tax increase, which equates to roughly $1.67 per household.

Cicero budget presented

Despite tough financial times in the past, Cicero’s financial future looks rosy. Extensive growth within the town coupled with fiscal responsibility has substantially boosted the town’s fund balance. This year’s budget also benefits from the town’s strict accounting last year. “With strict oversight last year, we were able to close the books $1.5 million under budget, which allowed us to add [more than] $400,000 to our savings account rather than deplete it by $900,000,” Supervisor Jim Corl said in his budget address. “Since we have had the benefit of experiencing these savings, it is time that we invest in the future of the town of Cicero.”

Salina presents preliminary budget

According to Salina Supervisor Mark Nicotra’s preliminary 2014 budget, residents in the town are looking at a tax increase of less than a dollar per $100,000 of assessed value per month. Residents in the village of Liverpool would see a $2 increase per $100,000 of assessed value per month. Nicotra presented his proposed 2014 budget at a special town board meeting Tuesday, Oct. 1.

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LHS student to hold can and bottle drive for IFAW

Save your cans and bottles for a good cause. This weekend, Oct. 5 and 6, Liverpool High School senior Kerry Bartholomae and several of her classmates will be conducting a drive for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), one of the largest animal welfare and conservation charities in the world. One of its most well-publicized efforts is an attempt to end the Canadian seal hunt, which has been ongoing since its founding more than 40 years ago.

Town of Cicero candidate profiles

The town of Cicero elections in November feature a hotly contested supervisor race between former colleagues Jessica Zambrano, now running on the Republican ticket, and Democrat Judy Boyke, who lost the supervisor's seat in 2011. Read on for profiles of all the candidates.

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Ride for Missing Children stops at NPE, SRE

Sometimes, all it takes to be a hero is to strap on a helmet and hop on a bike. Some 175 riders took part in the Syracuse Ride for Missing Children Friday, a 100-mile ride made by bicycle riders or "Friends of Missing Children" that raises funds to support prevention education programs and to remember all missing children. The event, sponsored by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children/New York (NCMEC/NY), featured stops at several area schools, including Nate Perry Elementary and Soule Road Elementary in Liverpool, where students greeted them with cheers and handmade signs.

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LBE students plant Pinwheels for Peace

In a world where the drums of war seem to beat louder every day, peace seems like a far-off dream. But at Long Branch Elementary in Liverpool, students made it clear it’s a dream worth reaching for. Students observed International Day of Peace Monday, Sept. 23 (the actual date was Saturday, Sept. 21), by planting hundreds of pinwheels on the school’s front lawn in the shape of a giant peace sign as part of Pinwheels for Peace, an international art installation project started by two art teachers in Florida. The LBE project was guided by art teacher Jennifer Matott, who learned about the effort from its website, pinwheelsforpeace.com.

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C-NS complex in need of repair

Residents of the North Syracuse Central School District will head to the polls next month to vote on a $2 million referendum to renovate the Michael Bragman Athletic Complex at Cicero-North Syracuse High School, as well as make improvements to the high school’s security. The project, which will have no local tax impact, will cost a total of $2,020,000. The local share of $302,000 would come out of the district’s C-NS Athletic Complex Reserve Fund, which was approved by district voters on Oct. 14, 1998, according to Assistant Superintendent for Management Donald Keegan.

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Buddy Walk is one of many supports offered by DSA of CNY

The DSA of CNY offers a number of activities for families of those with Down syndrome, but its biggest event — and the only one it offers that’s open to the entire community — is the Buddy Walk, which celebrates its 15th year this fall. “At our Buddy Walk, we do not focus on the therapies, doctor appointments, etc., that is a part of their daily life. We celebrate the joy of having them in our lives and family,” Bottego said. “Most of the committee members have worked on the Buddy Walk from the beginning. We have volunteers who come back year after year because it such an uplifting event.” The Buddy Walk will take place on Sunday, Sept. 29 at Long Branch Park in Liverpool. Registration starts at 9:30 a.m.; walkers who have pre-registered can pick up their preordered shirts. Walk-in registration is also available. T-shirts are available to purchase. Children’s games are open from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and only shut down while the walk is in progress. Attendees can purchase raffle tickets The walk starts at 10:30 a.m. The walkers follow the path out of the Longbranch Park area into the Willow Bay section of Onondaga Lake Park.

Three Liverpool school buildings locked down last week

All three buildings on the Liverpool High School campus - Liverpool High School, the Liverpool High School Annex, and Morgan Road Elementary (currently housed at Wetzel Road Elementary) were placed on lockdown for less than an hour Thursday morning after receiving a “verbal threat.”

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Group calls for harsher penalties for those who hurt animals

Patrick Oneill was already facing multiple counts of animal cruelty when he allegedly left his Labrador retriever, Ali, in his car for more than four hours on Sept. 2 while he enjoyed the New York State Fair with his girlfriend. Ali, left in the 100-degree car with no water and one window barely cracked, died despite the efforts of state troopers and bystanders who tried to save her. Animal advocates are saying she didn’t have to die.

Michaels Farms withdraws again

For the third time in two years, Michaels Farms LLC is withdrawing its proposal for a zone change to construct senior housing on Morgan Road in the town of Clay.

UPDATE: LHS lockdown lifted

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.

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Kirkpatrick Day Program provides services for patients with Alzheimer’s, dementia

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.

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Annual duck race raises money for Bridgeport Food Pantry

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.

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Back to school Liverpool, North Syracuse kick off new year

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.

Production company uses music to bring people closer to each other, God

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.”

SAS takes steps to end suicide

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.

Liverpool BOE calls out state for overreliance on tests

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.

Walk/run at Oneida Shores memorializes mom who died after brain aneurysm

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.

NEDA walk to raise awareness of eating disorders

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.

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Fifth annual duck race to benefit Bridgeport Food Pantry is Sept. 7

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.

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