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.
The North Syracuse Central School District Board of Education voted to approve the $144,716,279 2013-14 budget for presentation to the public on May 21. The budget calls for a 5.33 percent tax increase, which requires a supermajority vote for approval. According to the presentation given Monday, April 22, the district’s fund balance represents 1.9 percent of its budget, and its reserves represent 1.3 percent. In other districts in the Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES system, the fund balance is an average of 5 percent of their budgets, while the reserves make up 12.8 percent. Moody’s credit rating firm has given the district a poor rating. North Syracuse also spends less per student than 21 of the 23 districts in its BOCES system. Meanwhile, costs for the district have gone up by 4.3 percent since 2012-13. The largest increase is in benefits for employees (the state’s Teacher and Employee Retirement Systems), which climbed by 11.1 percent since last year.
All across the country, men and women volunteer to help others on their worst days. In Onondaga County in particular, most of the fire departments and EMS services are staffed entirely by volunteers. In order to keep those agencies staffed, fire departments across the state will hold open houses this weekend to encourage residents to volunteer for the fire service. The state-wide recruitment drive, Recruit NY, will be held April 27 and 28 at the tail end of National Firefighter Week. Nearly all departments will open their doors to anyone interested in learning more about how the departments operate or how to apply to be a member. The program aims to bring fresh faces to the departments and to showcase what local departments are doing. The events will include opportunities to speak to firefighters, try on turnout gear and breathing apparatus, obstacle courses and more.
The Liverpool Central School Board of Education announced that it has found someone to act as interim superintendent. Edmund P. Backus, who previously headed the Hamilton Central School District in Madison County, will fill in for Dr. Richard N. Johns, who is out on medical leave. Johns is scheduled to retire July 31; Backus will hold the position until that time.
Up-and-comers in the Central New York music scene will compete for prizes as well as the coveted title of “Best Band” this weekend, and they’ll support a good cause at the same time. Stand Against Suicide will host its inaugural Battle of the Bands on Saturday, April 20, at the SRC Arena at Onondaga Community College. Doors open at 11 a.m. and bands begin competing at noon. Tickets are $7 for students and $12 for adults. Eighteen bands will compete for a chance at the title as well as prizes.
Michaels Farms LLC is once again looking to construct a senior complex on Morgan Road near Waterhouse Road in the town of Clay. The developer is looking for a zone change from RA-100 Residential Agricultural to R-SR Senior Residence District at 8073 and 8097 Morgan Road, on the west side of the street opposite Waterhouse. Michaels Farms has previously applied for the zone change on these parcels twice; both times, they withdrew their application amid widespread criticism of their plans.
After a woman was murdered and a child raped at knifepoint at Great Northern Mall March 14, residents have been clamoring for a way to protect themselves. A number of free classes have been introduced to help women, in particular, learn techniques to use in a similar situation. But the free self-defense classes provided by some local martial arts studios aren’t new offerings in response to the tragedy. Both Impact Martial Arts and Karate John’s have offered free women’s self-defense classes for years.
The town of Clay is preparing for its second season of Project Green, its 60-plot community garden located off Black Creek Road. Plot reservations are due to the town by March 28.
According to local traffic experts, I-81 is nearing the end of its useful life. The highway was originally constructed in the 1950s and 1960s to provide an alternative to I-95 for traffic from Canada to Pennsylvania through New York state, as well as to provide a route for local traffic in and out of the city of Syracuse. Now, the roadway, particularly the elevation portion running through the city, is deteriorating, and within the next decade, significant action needs to be taken to repair or replace it. Onondaga County Legislator Kathy Rapp, who represents the fifth district, spoke to the Salina Town Board Monday, March 25, about the various options to reconstruct the I-81 bridge. In addition to representing a portion of the town of Salina, Rapp is policy chair of the Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council (SMTC), which has been researching the project for several years.
Lori Bresnahan was among the best. A dedicated parent, she loved her daughter, whom she adopted from China. She cared for her aging mother. She was passionate about her career as a school librarian, having worked in the Liverpool schools for several years, bringing such celebrations as Chinese New Year to the school and inspiring a love of reading in her students. Lori died terrified and in pain. She deserved so much better.
A note written in a child's scrawl joined several bouquets of flowers underneath a stream of police tape on VerPlank Road at a makeshift memorial for Lori Bresnahan. "I personally think you were the best librarian and you always helped me," the note read. Those words are typical of those used to describe Bresnahan, who was attacked the night of Thursday, March 14, while leaving a gymnastics class at Great Northern Mall with a 10-year-old child. David Renz, 29, of Cicero, forced his way into Bresnahan’s car, bound her and sexually assaulted the child, then drove them to VerPlank Road, where his car was waiting. The child was able to escape and was helped by a passing motorist. Meanwhile, Bresnahan suffered several stab wounds and later died at Upstate University Hospital. The child is currently recovering from her injuries.
Clarence Rycraft was one of the good guys. “If our representatives in Washington were more like Clarence, there would be less gridlock,” former Clay Town Supervisor Mark Rupprecht said. “Clarence would argue his points effectively and passionately but no matter how the vote turned out or whether he prevailed or not, after the meetings he was as friendly and cordial to his colleagues as possible.” Rycraft, known to colleagues and friends as “Rye,” passed away Saturday, March 9. He was 85.
In order to help more people struggling with eating disorders, Ophelia’s Place in Liverpool has added two new support programs. Breaking Free is a group that caters to teens struggling with body image. The Parent Partner Program is for parents and caregivers of youths with eating disorders.
When it comes to playing, even pennies can make a difference. That’s the idea behind the “Pennies for the Playground” campaign at Roxboro Road Elementary in Mattydale, which encourages students and families to donate change to the effort to build a new playground at the school. The campaign is one of several fundraising efforts to help construct a new play structure. According to Lisa Courtright, third grade teacher at RRE, member of the RRE Parent-Teacher Group (PTG) and chairperson of the RRE Playground Committee, an upgraded playground is necessary for the safety of the children. The school was built in 1956, and the playground has had several upgrades since then. RRE underwent significant renovations in the early 2000s. When those were completed, the school was an entire wing larger, and the North Syracuse Central School District redistricted, giving RRE more than 200 more students.
To the baby I will never know: When I found out I was pregnant on Valentine’s Day, I was over the moon. I’ve wanted you for so long, a little niblet to complete our family. Your dad and I couldn’t wait to meet you. And you were due right around my birthday; you could have been the third generation born on Oct. 23.
Liberty Tanner was getting her life on track when it ended tragically in January. “She was a great person,” said Amy D’Uva, with whom Tanner had lived. D’Uva’s son, Ed Horning, was Tanner’s fiancé; the two had been together for five years. “She had a lot of dreams, a lot of things she wanted to do. Things were just getting started for her. It was so exciting to watch her. Things were starting to click for her.” Tanner, 19, was on her way home from the Continental School of Beauty in Mattydale when her 1996 Dodge Neon broke down in the center lane of I-81 northbound north of Hastings (on the Brewerton Bridge between exits 31 and 32) around 10:15 p.m. Jan. 16. The car had stalled and its lights had gone out. Tanner was on the phone with Onondaga County 911 reporting the matter, when her vehicle was struck in the rear by a 2002 Buick Century operated by 17-year-old, Alex B. Mills of Altmar. A 1998 Plymouth Breeze, operated by 17-year-old Michael R. Edinger of Parish, slowed as it approached the accident scene and was rear ended by a 2007 Chevy Cobalt driven by 20-year-old Emily Smith of Pulaski. A 2006 Nissan driven by 28-year-old Stefanie Wooding of Fulton entered the accident scene and collided with the rear of the Chevy Cobalt.
Three years ago, the Liverpool Central School District eliminated foreign language, also referred to as Languages Other Than English (LOTE), in seventh grade in order to save money. The move was a mistake.
The Liverpool Central School District has officially begun its effort to find a new superintendent. The district has formed nine stakeholder groups and held a community meeting to determine the qualifications the new super must possess, as well as the challenges he or she will face in the next three to five years. The new superintendent will replace Dr. Richard N. Johns, who will retire July 31. Johns came to Liverpool in 2009. About 10 students and five adults attended a community meeting hosted by Dr. Lucy Martin of Castallo and Silky Education Consultants on Wednesday, Feb. 27, the day after Martin met with members of the stakeholder groups. At both meetings, participants described what they felt the district’s strengths were — these included items like its teaching staff, its fine arts program, its full-day kindergarten program and its universal busing, among other things — as well as the challenges it faces, such as finances and budgetary concerns, a lack of communication between the administration and the staff, APPR and other state mandates and the community’s perception of the district. The groups also came up with lists of qualifications the new superintendent must possess in order to maintain the strengths and address the challenges.
North Syracuse Central School District Superintendent Dr. Kim Dyce Faucette presented a bleak picture of the district’s financial future if the state doesn’t make serious changes to its school aid policy at a meeting of the board of education Monday night. “Our sources of funding are inadequate,” Dyce said. “Operating costs... are growing significantly faster than our revenue. Our state aid is the same as it was five years ago. The tax cap discourages our taxpayers from covering the deficit caused by increased costs and insufficient state aid. Our financial model is not sustainable.”
When Caryn Daher’s son, Jon, was little, he was into everything — even more than the average toddler. “He was… constantly bumping and crashing into things and people and seeking-jumping type activities,” said Daher, a Cicero resident. “He had difficulty in regulating and responding to movement activities appropriately. It went far beyond a ‘busy’ toddler.” In addition, Jon struggled with a variety of sounds, often withdrawing or avoiding certain situations because of the noise level. He had higher-than-average sensitivities to food, temperature and touch. In addition, his speech was delayed. It was that delay that led to help for his other issues. Through his speech therapist, Jon was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder.
Liverpool Central School District Superintendent Dr. Richard N. Johns presented his $135.7 million budget proposal to the board of education and about 35 members of the public Monday night. Johns’ 2013-14 proposed budget, which represents a $2,044,983 increase from last year, makes some cuts and restores some items previous budgets have cut. It relies heavily on the district’s reserves to close a $9 million gap. “This year, the… gap that we faced… was a chasm that would require cutbacks equivalent to 100 positions,” Johns said in his budget message. “Such a reduction would necessarily cause the district to have to tell current students that some of the opportunities provided to past generations of Liverpool students would no longer be available to them.”
In a surprise move, Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney appointed former Cicero Supervisor Chet Dudzinski to replace outgoing Legislator Bill Meyer, just hours before the Cicero Republican Committee unanimously nominated current Supervisor Jim Corl for the position. Corl said he was notified of the decision in an email that was also sent to Dudzinski and Michael Becallo, who had also expressed an interest in the seat.
WCNY has launched a new effort aimed at helping local nonprofits. “Won’t You Help a Neighbor?” uses the public broadcast station’s many media resources and connections to promote causes near and dear to Central New York residents.
Onondaga County Board of Elections’ new Democratic Party commissioner, Dustin Czarny, is on a mission to move village elections to November. State law, he points out, gives villages the option of conducting elections in March, June or November. “The villages could all save money by moving their elections from March or June to the fall,” Czarny said. “We’re already running an election every November anyway.” In January, Czarny sent a letter to all 15 of Onondaga County’s villages requesting that they make the change.