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Sarah Hall

Stories by Sarah

Liverpool Public Library to hold budget, trustee vote May 20

The Liverpool Public Library will hold its budget vote in conjunction with the school budget vote on Tuesday, May 20. In addition, voters will choose one of two candidates to serve as trustee.

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Motorcycle ride for Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital celebrates 20th year

For several years, Tony Testa and his wife, Becky, participated in the Miracle Ride for Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital. Both were motorcycle enthusiasts, and they enjoyed helping to raise money for the children’s hospital. But in 2004, it got personal. “My stepson, Jim, had a child who was born in 2004, Aiden,” Testa said. “Aiden was born with quite a few challenges.” Aiden Snell was born with Pierre-Robin Syndrome (PRS), a birth defect that causes cleft palate, smaller-than-normal or underdeveloped jaw, a tongue that sits back too far in the throat, obstructing breathing, and several other issues. The genetic condition affects approximately one out of every 1,500 children. In Aiden’s case, the disorder required surgery just a few days after he was born.

Christ the King Church celebrates 50th anniversary

Christ the King Church in Bayberry is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, having opened its doors in 1964. In order to commemorate the occasion, the church will hold an open house this Sunday, May 18, after its 10:30 a.m. Mass.

Liverpool Central School District board of education candidates

In the Liverpool Central School District, five candidates are running for four seats. The election will take place from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, May 20.

North Syracuse Central School District board of education candidates

The following individuals are seeking a seat on the North Syracuse Central School District Board of Education. Four candidates are seeking three seats; Board President Pat Carbone is not seeking reelection, and the seats of Scot McClintock and Michael Mirizio are also up for renewal. The election will take place from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, May 20.

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LCSD presents first-ever Bresnahan Book Award

Lori Bresnahan loved children’s books. It was a love she sought to instill in all of her students as an elementary school librarian for the Liverpool Central School District. So it was only fitting that the district should honor Bresnahan with a children’s book award in her name. The district presented the inaugural Bresnahan Book Award at a ceremony May 2 at Barnes and Noble in Clay. The award was selected by kindergarten through sixth-grade students districtwide from a collection of nominees for the Charlotte Award, a children’s book award whose winner is selected by students throughout the state.

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C-NS holds annual Poetry Slam

Self-expression is one of the most important — and one of the hardest — things a teenager can do. Cicero-North Syracuse High School has created a forum in which students can do just that. At the school’s annual Poetry Slam, held April 30 and May 1, students are able to share their own poetry as well as that of famous poets in front of a large group. They can also sing a song; one student performed an original piece and played the ukulele. Students are judged by a panel of volunteers, teachers at the school, who determine a first-, second- and third-place winner. Each winner receives a Barnes and Noble gift card. This year, staffers also joined the event; the winners of the student event had the opportunity to judge the faculty on their readings.

Eagle editors honored

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.

Village tutoring center seeks volunteers

If you’ve got an affinity for math, there’s a tutoring center in the village of Liverpool that could use your help. The Tutoring Center at St. Joseph the Worker Church, located at 1001 Tulip St., is an all-volunteer service that provides free tutoring to kids and adults throughout the community from 3 to 5 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday. And since the advent of Common Core math, tutors with expertise in that field are in high demand.

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LCSD to expand universal breakfast program

Middle school students in the Liverpool Central School District now have access to free breakfast at school. The district announced last week that, starting April 28, universal breakfast will be available to students at Chestnut Hill Middle and Liverpool Middle. All CHM and LMS students will have the option of eating breakfast at school each morning for free, regardless of income.

Petition asks LCSD to reconsider snow removal policy on turf field, allowing student athletes earlier access

A local youth sports league has drafted a petition asking the Liverpool Central School District to reconsider its policy regarding removing snow from the turf field at the high school. The Liverpool Youth Lacrosse Association (LYLA), led by Liverpool resident Earl Hall, posted the petition on GoPetition.com. They seek to get 1,000 signatures by the end of July in an effort to encourage the district to remove snow from the turf rather than letting it melt on its own.

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Solar panels finally active; system will save town of Clay about $16,000 a year

The irony wasn’t lost on Damian Ulatowski. On Earth Day, April 22, when dozens of residents and local dignitaries gathered to hear the Clay supervisor talk about the town’s new solar panel array, the sun was nowhere to be seen. Despite the gloomy weather, the town unveiled its new 99kW solar array at Town Hall and the highway garage to reduce and stabilize energy costs. The project was launched through a partnership with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and Warner Energy LLC, a Clay-based business that designs and develops solar project for clients nationwide.

Complaint filed against Zambrano

According to a Cicero resident, Supervisor Jessica Zambrano has committed misconduct as a result of her relationship with the town engineer.

Trustees approve $5.2 million budget for North Syracuse

At its April 10 meeting, the North Syracuse Village Board of Trustees approved a $5.2 million budget for 2014-15. At a brief public hearing before the meeting, Village Clerk-Treasurer Dianne Kufel said that although the budget calls for a zero percent tax increase, village property owners who live within the town of Cicero will see a nominal increase of approximately $2 more than last year, while village taxpayers in the town of Clay will see a nominal decrease of less than $2.

Dinner memorializes Cicero couple while raising money for St. Jude

For Dominic and Patricia Rossi, life was about family, community and service. “I am biased, but I feel my parents were great people,” said their son, Joe Rossi. “They put family first, they gave back to their community through service, they stood up for what they believed in and they weren't afraid to get their hands dirty.” That dedication to serving the community in which they lived —Cicero — has been reflected in the way that community remembers the Rossis nearly two decades after both passed away. There’s a street in town called Rossi Court, named after Dominic, and a garden in front of NOPL @ Brewerton planted in Patricia’s memory. In addition, Joe Rossi holds a fundraiser dinner every year that serves a dual purpose: it memorializes his parents while raising money for an important cause close to their hearts.

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LHS group seeks to break down barriers, cliques, end bullying

I Am Norm is an extracurricular group at Liverpool High School that aims to promote inclusion and end bullying by bringing together kids of all different backgrounds.

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Cicero PD launches prescription drug giveback program

The Cicero Police Department is now home to a MedReturn box in which town residents can drop off expired or unused prescription drugs any time from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The drug collection unit is produced by MedReturn, LLC of Grafton, Wis. The box is located in the police department’s administrative offices at 8236 Brewerton Road, behind Town Hall. Drugs should be placed in a clear plastic bag. The department cannot take liquids or needles. As the box fills up, the CPD will clear it out and remove the drugs to their evidence room. When the DEA does its giveback program twice a year, the department will turn them over for safe destruction.

OCM BOCES to host Common Core academies for educators

Central New York educators can take advantage of courses designed to help them implement the Common Core curriculum at OCM BOCES next week. From 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. March 27 and 28, educators in the Syracuse area can attend Discovery Education’s Common Core Academies at BOCES’ Central New York Regional Information Center, 6075 East Molloy Road, Syracuse. The courses will be lead by Common Core state standards expert Dr. Karen Beerer and hosted by Discovery Education, a publisher and content provider that offers textbooks and multimedia content that support Common Core implementation.

North Syracuse proposes cutting more than 30 jobs

The North Syracuse Central School District is looking at cuts to more than 30 positions as part of its 2014-15 budget, according to a presentation given at the NSCSD Board of Education’s March 24 meeting. The district’s 2014-15 budget, totaling $145,297,379, is up 1. 2 percent from last year. Most of that increase comes from salaries, benefits and other contractual obligations, over which the district has little control. The budget also includes a reduction of 9 percent in supplies, fuel and other costs.

OCC child care faces cuts

Community college students may soon have a harder time finding child care while they go to school. In his 2014-15 executive budget proposal, Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed cutting $653,000 from the state’s operating grant to the State University of New York’s child care centers. The cut would come in addition to a reduction in the federal Child Care Block Grant, which subsidizes care for children of needy student-parents. While the New York State Senate restored Cuomo’s cut in their budget proposal, advocates say the cuts faced by SUNY centers in the last several years are still devastating and need to be restored. And it’s community colleges that will likely see the most damaging consequences.

Liverpool voters approve Phase II construction referendum

Voters approved a Liverpool Central School District capital project referendum held March 20 by a margin of 959 to 641. The $39.7 million construction project represents Phase II of the Phase I to V Long Range Facilities Plan laid out for the 2010-20 decade. The project will take on several repairs throughout the district.

NSCSD settles suit over GRMS construction

The North Syracuse Central School District has reached a settlement with the company that improperly installed the walls at Gillette Road Middle School when the school was renovated in 2005.

Get rid of the GEA now

According to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York is looking at a $2 million budget surplus. Cuomo has talked a lot about the surplus and his plans for it. Unfortunately for him, it’s not his money to spend.

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NSCSD launches letter campaign to eliminate the GEA

In an effort to get rid of a state policy many school districts say is unfair to schools and taxpayers, the North Syracuse Central School District is asking residents to send letters to their legislators demanding the repeal of the Gap Elimination Adjustment.

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Hallowrun organizer honored

Elizabeth Westfall has accomplished a lot — especially for a 15-year-old. Now, Westfall has received recognition for those efforts. She received a Certificate of Excellence from the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, as well as a President’s Volunteer Service Award granted by the program on behalf of President Barack Obama.

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Another truck hits Route 370 bridge

It’s become a familiar sight to those who regularly travel Onondaga Lake Parkway: a tractor-trailer wedged under the 10’9” CSX railroad bridge over Route 370 between Route 81 and the village of Liverpool. On Tuesday, March 4, a 13’9” truck driven by An B. Zhang, 40, of San Jose, struck the underside of the bridge, despite numerous signs alerting drivers to the low clearance, as well as a one-of-a-kind detection system installed in 2011 that sent out alarms alerting him to turn around. Zhang, who speaks Mandarin, said he didn’t understand the signs due to the language barrier. This isn’t the first accident since the system was installed. Another tractor-trailer hit the bridge in December of 2013. The driver, 33 year-old Waleed Sleit of Chicago, said he didn’t see the numerous signs regarding the bridge’s height.

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County DOT discusses Allen Road repaving project

About three dozen residents attended a public hearing on Onondaga County’s plans to repave Allen Road in North Syracuse on Thursday, March 6 at Allen Road Elementary. The county DOT hopes to complete the project, which involves repaving the entire 1.2-mile stretch of Allen Road from West Taft Road to Bear Road, by the fall of 2016. Representatives from Onondaga County DOT along with project managers from Popli Design Group were on hand to discuss the project with area residents.

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As testing regulations increase, more and more parents choose to homeschool their children

As controversies over Common Core and mandated standardized tests become more and more prevalent, many parents are choosing a new option in educating their children: homeschooling. Once the sole province of the very religious, homeschooling is becoming more popular every day, with a growth rate of 7 to 15 percent per year. Nationwide, about 2 million children learn at home instead of in a brick-and-mortar school, up from about 1 million in 2003. According to the U.S. Department of Education, about 88 percent of U.S. homeschool parents express concern about the school environment, citing drugs, negative peer pressure and general safety.

Parents plead for NSCSD to reinstate parochial school nurse position

Parents of children attending the two parochial schools in the North Syracuse Central School District descended on the board of education Monday night to implore them to reconsider a decision they say could have fatal consequences. On Feb. 24, at its regular meeting, the NSCSD BOE voted to cut the full-time registered nurse position at St. Rose of Lima School in North Syracuse as well as the full-time registered nurse position at St. Margaret's School in Mattydale. The board then voted to create one full-time position and one part-time position to be shared between the two schools. The reduction would leave each school without a nurse for about two hours a day. The decision came about a month after St. Rose’s full-time nurse resigned from her position. The district has been paying a substitute. They opted to cut the position instead of hiring a new full-time nurse for St. Rose, which has many parents worried about their children’s health and safety.

Voters defeat CFD construction referendum

Voters last week rejected a $5.6 million referendum that would have reconstruction Cicero Fire Department Station No. 1 on Route 11. A total of 264 people in the Cicero Fire District turned out to vote on the proposal, with 180 voting against and 84 voting in favor. The project would have made significant repairs to Station No. 1, addressing significant structural issues as well as asbestos on the second floor and numerous safety concerns for the volunteer firefighters in the department. The reconstruction would have renovated the community hall, repaved the parking lot, expanded the apparatus bays and moved them behind the station hall and parking lot so that fire apparatus wouldn’t have to pull out directly onto Route 11. The proposal would have cost taxpayers within the fire district, which covers about a one-mile radius from Station 1, about $75 per $100,000 of assessed value.

Liverpool proposes 2.31 tax increase in 2014-15

In a very preliminary presentation, Liverpool Central School District Mark Potter gave the board of education some expectation of what the 2014-15 budget will look like. According to Potter’s presentation, the total budget for next year is $138,641,389, up 2.11 percent from last year. With revenues down about $359,795 and the expected use of $2,500,000 in money from the district’s fund balance, Potter anticipates a tax increase of 2.3089 percent for next year. But Potter stressed that these numbers are not final. He’s left some gaps as the district waits to hear the final numbers from the state budget, due April 1, as well as some of its own health insurance costs, which remain unknown.

North Syracuse proposes 1.4 percent budget increase

Taxpayers in North Syracuse are looking at a 2.25 percent increase for the 2014-15 school year, according to the initial budget presented to the North Syracuse Central School District Board of Education Monday, Feb. 24. According to the presentation, given by Assistant Superintendent for Management Donald Keegan, the district is facing a 3.6 percent decrease in building aid from New York state. That coupled with increased costs in salaries, benefits, equipment and BOCES shared services agreements have resulted in the need to increase the tax levy by $1,763,319, while cutting programs by $1,716,879. The total budget proposed for 2014-15 is $145,479,106, a 1.4 percent budget-to-budget increase from last year.

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The Common Core kerfuffle continues

The New York State Board of Regents has approved a plan to delay the full implementation of the state’s Common Core graduation requirements until the Class of 2022 — current fourth-graders — instead of the Class of 2017 — current ninth-graders — as had been originally intended. The shift means that those students currently in fourth grade across the state will have to take and pass five Common Core-aligned exams in order to graduate. Students now in ninth grade will have to take five Common Core exams, but they won’t have to meet what the state calls "college- and career-ready standards" in order to graduate; they’ll just have to pass the tests at a level similar to getting a 65 on current Regents exams.

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LHS junior to release debut EP at Sharkey’s on Valentine’s Day

Since childhood, Joey Esce has aspired to a career as a professional entertainer. This weekend, he’s taking the first steps toward making that happen. The 17-year-old Liverpool High School junior will be holding a release party for his debut EP, “Songs from the Heart,” from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14, at Sharkey’s Sports Bar and Restaurant, 7240 Oswego Road in Liverpool. There he’ll perform songs from the CD, along with friend Justin Bertolero, who will provide bass accompaniment. Admission is free.

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Pet therapy program at St. Joe’s gets to ‘the heart of healing’

Research has proven that companion animals can relieve stress, anxiety and loneliness, particularly among people in need of additional emotional support, like those in a hospital setting. That’s why St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center has introduced a pet therapy program, bringing in Pet Partners of Syracuse to visit patients, family members and staff to help alleviate some of the stresses of hospital life.

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Team Believe raises money for area charities through running

Running a 10-mile race is a tremendous challenge. But if you’ve got the right motivation, those 10 miles can feel like nothing at all. That’s the idea behind Team Believe, a grassroots organization that brings together local runners to help the Central New York community. The group, which got its start in 2009, asks participants to help raise money for local children’s charities while training for the Dunn Tire Mountain Goat Run in Syracuse in May.

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Benefit to be held Feb. 9 for Liverpool mom of seven fighting breast cancer

When Stacy Haley was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, she felt like her world was “shattered.” “I had just lost my grandmother to breast cancer on Thanksgiving day in 2012,” Haley said. “Being told I had cancer was one of the hardest things I've ever had to deal with or explain to my children. It was surreal. I kept feeling like it was a bad dream and I would wake up from it soon.”

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CNY SBA to hold forum on schools’ fiscal crisis Feb. 4, 5

School districts in Central New York and beyond are in trouble, and it’s time we do something about it. That’s the message behind a pair of forums to be held Feb. 4 and 5 in Auburn and North Syracuse by the Central New York School Boards Association (CNY SBA) in conjunction with the Onondaga-Cortland-Madison, Cayuga-Onondaga, Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga and Oswego County BOCES. The forums, which will take place at Auburn West Middle School and North Syracuse Junior High School, respectively, will focus on the major factors causing those financial issues and how school administrators, teachers and community members can make a difference.

LCSD moves kindergarten registration to March

The Liverpool Central School District is moving its district-wide kindergarten registration night from May to March 13.

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CNY SPCA raising money for new kennels

The Central New York SPCA is looking for the community’s help to raise the money to construct more than three dozen new kennels to improve the health and safety of their large dogs, accomplishing the second phase of a project they call Kennels for Canines.

OCM-BOCES to hold referendum on building purchase

On Thursday, Jan. 23, voters in 23 school districts across three counties will be asked to go to the polls to approve a building purchase that will have no impact on their wallets. Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES is looking to purchase the former Nationwide Insurance building, located at 110 Elwood Davis Road in the town of Salina. According to BOCES information officer Laurie Cook, the purchase would allow OCM-BOCES to relocate several programs now housed in leased space.

Cicero-North Syracuse forced to move graduation ceremony

Thanks to a mysterious booking change at the Onondaga County War Memorial, Cicero-North Syracuse High School has had to change the date and location of its 2014 graduation ceremony. The ceremony, originally scheduled for the evening of Friday, June 27, at the War Memorial, will now take place at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 28 at the SRC Arena at Onondaga Community College. The Onondaga County War Memorial notified the district that they were canceling all events during the weekend of June 27.

CFD asking for $5.6 million station renovation

The Cicero Fire Department held its fifth public information meeting Monday, Jan. 6, to advise taxpayers about its plans to renovate Station No. 1, located at the corner of Route 11 and Route 31 in Cicero. Though much of the information had been previously presented, this was the first time members of the Cicero fire district got the chance to hear how much the proposed reconstruction could cost. According to Cicero Fire Commissioner Jim Perrin, the department is looking at a total of $5.6 million to renovate the apparatus bays, rebuild the station and address the safety issues at the site. Perrin said that works out to about $74 a year for taxpayers within the fire district. A vote is expected some time in February.

NSCSD hosts information session on state curriculum

About 30 people attended a public listening session Thursday, Jan. 9, at Roxboro Road Middle School in Mattydale to learn more about Common Core. The informational session was one of several hosted throughout the year by the North Syracuse Central School District, though this one had a more specific focus than the others.

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Clay fifth-grader kicks off annual blanket drive for the Rescue Mission

Damon “DJ” Villnave is more concerned about the cold than your typical 10-year-old. DJ isn’t worried about himself, but the many men and women on the streets of Syracuse without a roof over their heads, stuck in the elements. That’s why he started his annual blanket drive, DJ’s Gift of Warmth, in 2010. The effort has collected more than 750 blankets for the Rescue Mission since its inception. This year’s drive kicked off Jan. 6 and continues until Jan. 31.

Services available for emergency personnel after traumatic incidents

They’re supposed to be made of tougher stuff than the rest of us. They’re the ones that rush headlong into burning buildings, face down masked villains, bring the dying back to life. But emergency responders, be they firefighters, police officers or emergency medical service personnel, aren’t immune to the stresses wrought by their jobs. When the trauma is too much for them to bear, who helps the helpers?

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2014: What’s to come in your hometown?

We all make New Year’s resolutions, even our elected leaders. But while most of us are trying to commit to more gym time or spending more time with family, our local municipal leaders are resolving to provide better services, more efficient government and more value for our tax dollars. Read on to find out what some of your newly-elected and reelected town and county leaders have to say about what they hope to accomplish in 2014.

2013: The year that was

What were the biggest stories of the last year in the north suburbs? Here are a few of our top picks:

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Cicero Fire Station No. 1 needs repairs

The Cicero Fire Department is asking for the public’s support as it prepares for a referendum to renovate Station No. 1 on Route 11. According to Cicero Fire Commissioner Jim Perrin, Station 1 is in need of significant repairs. Originally built in the 1950s with additional bays constructed in the 1980s, there are significant structural issues, along with asbestos on the second floor and numerous safety concerns.

Caregivers in crisis: New York ranks 48th in support for family caregivers

The lack of available help from senior care agencies is just one of the reasons New York state was ranked 48th in a 2011 national report by AARP’s Public Policy Institute, the Commonwealth Fund and the SCAN Foundation out of 50 states with regard to support for its family caregivers. Caregivers also face extensive waiting lists for adult day care programs and rehab facilities, a lack of support for in the work environment, limited or no access to transportation and inadequate informational resources regarding care options for their loved ones. And with the Baby Boomer generation moving into their golden years, the problem is only going to get worse.

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