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Russ Tarby

Stories by Russ

Upside-down flag at American Diner signals distress

According to the United States Flag Code approved by Congress in July 1976, “The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.” Well, there’s nothing dangerous about eating home fries and hash browns at the American Diner, 214 Oswego St., so why is its Stars and Stripes hanging upside down?

Trustee hopes streetscaping starts soon at North Syracuse Village Center

North Syracuse Village Trustee Gary Butterfield is anxious to get the Village Center’s streetscaping project underway. Earlier this year, the village received approximately $850,000 from Onondaga County’s Save the Rain Program to pay for the Village Center Streetscape Improvements. At their July 10 meeting, village trustees declined to approve specifications for the work which will focus on a half-mile stretch on Main Street from Fergerson Avenue north to Gertrude Street.

Bringing the Swing Era into the 21st century

The future of the Bear Cat Jass Band may be a bit cloudy right now, but one thing’s clear as day: the hot octet will swing with abandon at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 14, at Johnson Park.

Change is the name of the game in banking

This month, Seneca Federal Savings and Loan Association, celebrating 85 years of service locally, will change its name to Seneca Savings. The old hometown bank has locations at 105 Second St. in Liverpool, 201 N. Main St. in North Syracuse and another one in Baldwinsville.

County-village agreement OKs public use of Griffin, Salt Museum lots

At its June 16 meeting, the Liverpool Village Board of Trustees approved two measures designed to encourage development on the basin block bounded by First and South Willow streets and Lake Drive. They passed a local law allowing site review applicants — who must demonstrate that enough nearby parking exists to accommodate customers — to count parking spaces located on-street and/or in municipal parking lots within 500 feet of the site. The new law, Local Law C, allows site-plan applicants to count up to 50 percent of their required parking that way.

Chicken gives new twist to Nicholini sausage

For decades, savvy shoppers have flocked to Nichols’ Supermarket at 327 First St., in Liverpool for its wide variety of quality meats. Well, that variety grew a bit wider last week, as the Meat Department proudly unveiled three new chicken sausage products. Not pork. Not turkey. Not country ham. Chicken!

New clerk in North Syracuse

Village Clerk-Treasurer Dianne Kufel has worked for North Syracuse for a dozen years, and now she’s getting some permanent part-time help. At their June 12 meeting, village trustees approved the hiring of Julia Getman as the village’s new part-time clerk.

Dallas admits double murder

Justin Dallas, the 27-year-old Syracuse man accused of murdering two women in Liverpool last October, pleaded guilty on June 19 in County Court to two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder and one count of second-degree assault.

Ballplayer ejected at first, steals home anyway

For decades, the Syracuse Chiefs have been relegated to the cellar of the International League North Division. Not anymore. A serendipitous convergence of circumstances — timely hitting paired with pitching that refuses to give up walks — have landed the hometown nine in first place.

Curbing, new streetlights to spiff up North Syracuse Village Center

Mayor Mark Atkinson presided over a public hearing at the North Syracuse Board of Trustees June 12 meeting regarding the Village Center Streetscape Improvements project.

Ken Hurst recalls the days of ‘willow willpower’

Next month — God-willing — Ken Hurst will turn 95. But before he does, he’ll sit down to reminisce about livin’ in Liverpool in the 1920s at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 19, at Liverpool Public Library, 310 Tulip St. 457-0310; lpl.org. Admission is free and open to the public. I first got to know Ken when he ran the S&K, a quintessential mom-and-pop grocery store on Second Street where I would buy bottles of White Rock soda pop, comic books, bubble gum, Pez and plenty of penny candy.

Liverpool village trustee candidates run unopposed…again

Liverpool village trustees Nick Kochan and Jim Rosier are up for re-election on Tuesday, June 17, and unless someone mounts a surprise write-in campaign, the incumbents’ victory is assured. As usual, they are both unopposed. Rosier first took office in 2002 while Kochan, the former chairman of the Village Planning Board, became a trustee in 2006.

Mangicaro: hero of the football field

During his 20 years of coaching football at Liverpool High School George Mangicaro proved he was a winner, a dedicated educator who could motivate and organize his young gridders and turn them into men. Some of them, such as defensive end Tim Green and tight end Chris Gedney, went on to pro careers.

Will county lots accommodate overflow parking from basin block businesses?

When a new business files a site plan with the Liverpool planning board, they’re required to show that they have enough parking spaces to accommodate their staff and customers. The Liverpool Village Board of Trustees is mulling a change to the village code which will allow applicants to count parking spaces in adjacent municipal parking areas in addition to on-street parking spaces and whatever spaces they have on their own site.

Katko comes out swinging

As a federal prosecutor, John Katko took on Mexican drug cartels in El Paso and helped develop a gang task force in Syracuse. Now, as the Republican candidate for Congress in Central New York’s 24th District, he’s taking on the Democrats in Washington, D.C. “If I can get through to those gangbangers, I can get through to those knuckleheads in Washington,” Katko said in Liverpool on May 22.

Katko kicks off campaign tour at Post 188

Political pundits see November’s mid-term election as a referendum on Obamacare. John Katko, the Republican candidate for Congress in our 24th District, thinks the election will be much more than that. He looks at it as a chance for voters to lodge their objections to the overall ineffectiveness of the federal government.

Johnson Park hosts 24 free concerts again this summer, June 2 to Aug. 20

The Liverpool Is The Place Committee never fails to book a wide variety of musicians, singers and bands for its 24 free concerts presented on Monday and Wednesday evenings every summer at Johnson Park.

George Tortorelli returns to CNY May 17 to recall his work as boxer and bandleader

In the 1950s, George Tortorelli was a professional boxer trained by Syracuse’s renowned light heavyweight Ralph DeJohn. In the early-60s, George quit prizefighting to work as a professional musician, although he continued teaching the sport and boxing in exhibitions.

The Color Industry memorializes musician with ‘Harvestman’ CD

Everybody loved Collin Anderson. Blonde and brilliant, witty and warm, cultured and creative, the substitute teacher from Trumansburg seemed to have the world on a string. Even his pre-teen students knew he was something special. Instead of calling him “Mr. Anderson,” the fifth-graders called him “Mister A-plus.”

Longley Jones has option on local golf course

Ever since January we’ve been hearing that the Liverpool Golf & Public Country Club was being sold to a prominent local real-estate developer. In fact, Longley Jones has a purchase option on the property. Purchase options normally give the holder the right, but not the obligation, to buy at a predetermined price.

Old French Fort re-emerging as Great Law of Peace Center

When I was a kid, we called it the French Fort. For most of the past two decades the fortified French mission overlooking Onondaga Lake has been known as Saint Marie Among the Iroquois. It’s now undergoing transformation into a Haudenosaunee heritage center called Skä•noñh: Great Law of Peace Center. Skä•noñh is an Onondaga Nation greeting meaning “peace and wellness.”

Village planners recommend use for small strip of land on basin block

The five-member Liverpool Village Planning Board met for three hours and 13 minutes on April 28 after meeting for two and a half hours at a special meeting convened on April 7. Each session lasted more than twice as long as most planning board meetings.

Newborn’s grandparents asking, ‘Waldo weighs what?’

Marilyn and Brian Dwyer must have thought their 29-year-old son was playing an April Fool’s joke on them when he called from Pennsylvania to report the birth of their grandson on April 14. The Dwyers, who live in Liverpool on Balsam Street, heard him report that the newborn, Waldo James Mysterious Dwyer, weighed 13 pounds and 8 ounces. Waldo weighed what? That’s right: 13 lbs. 8 oz.!

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Crawfish Festival 7 boils up seafood and salt potatoes in Clinton Square Saturday

It’s an old Louisiana adage: “Pinch the tail, suck the head.” Though it sounds salacious, it’s actually quite delicious. “Pinch the tail, suck the head” offers simple advice about how to eat boiled crawfish. Central New Yorkers will make a meal of the marvelous mudbugs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday May 3, when Operation Southern/Northern Comfort presents its seventh annual Crawfish Festival & Clambake in downtown Syracuse’s Clinton Square.

Gull fluttering its wings on the basin block

For more than a year now, we’ve all been looking forward to the opening of the Barking Gull. Located at 116 S. Willow St., on the southwestern corner of the basin block, the Gull, owned by the Gormel family, has hosted scores of private parties over the last decade and has been preparing to open up to the public for the past 13 months or so. The Barking Gull will feature an upstairs outdoor bar, a state-of-the-art wood-fired pizza oven and a mix of indoor and patio seating. Everything’s ready to go, so what’s taking so long?

Village trustees vote to spend $588,000 on Balsam St., Third St. and Hiawatha Trail

After approving a State Environmental Quality Review of the upcoming drainage projects at their April 14 meeting, the Liverpool Village Board of Trustees unanimously awarded a $587,747 bid to Joseph J. Lane Construction Inc., for work to be done on Balsam and Third streets and Hiawatha Trail. Trustee Jim Rosier, the board’s liaison to the Department of Public Works, urged Mayor Gary White to make sure that Lane Construction coordinates its effort with DPW Superintendent Bill Asmus.

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Human Library events bring people together at local libraries

Twenty curious people turned out Tuesday evening, April 15, at Liverpool Public Library to check out the “Human Library,” a scheduled 20-minute one-on-one with a person who has a certain expertise to share or a compelling story to tell. A Human Library is a living, breathing library where humans are the “books” and the stories are their lives.

Sure sign of spring: robins’ eggs in Christmas wreath

When former Liverpool Mayor Jon Zappola and his family returned from a recent sojourn in the Sunshine State, he went to remove the Christmas wreath from the house, and discovered a mother robin had laid five eggs in a nest she’d fashioned in the wreath. No wonder the Zappolas’ holiday wreath will remain up for a while on their First Street home! A former baseball coach and art teacher, Zappola now serves as chairman of the Liverpool Village Housing Authority, which oversees the House at 807 that has provided affordable housing for elders since 1999. The House at 807 on Oswego Street currently has two vacancies. If you’re interested in an apartment there, visit house-at-807.org,‎ or call 457-1334.

NSPD and Sherriff’s Office combine to arrest suspect in April 7 robbery at Seneca Federal

A 30-year-old man accused of robbing the Seneca Federal Bank at 201 N. Main St., in North Syracuse, on Monday, April 7, was arrested four days later at the home of an acquaintance. Lucas Lukenheimer, 30, of 2221 Brewerton Road, Mattydale, allegedly entered the bank branch at 2:55 p.m. April 7, and demanded money.

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Painter Maureen Lemko loves local landmarks

They may not be many, but the five oil paintings that comprise Maureen Lemko’s ongoing exhibit are certainly memorable. The artist colorfully depicts a quintet of familiar scenes in her work hanging through April at the Liverpool Public Library lobby. All artists aspire to show us our world through a new pair of eyes, and Maureen succeeds as she brings a fresh perspective to Old First, the village’s iconic burnt umber brick edifice. Other local landmarks Lemko rendered include Liverpool United Methodist’s famous purple door, an old willow basket barn, Liverpool Cemetery and Baldwinsville’s Abbott Farms.

Stormwater, parking top concerns for JGB Properties’ basin block project

When you plan to build on the site of an old Oswego Canal side-cut basin, you know that stormwater drainage will be a concern. When you plan three new buildings with a mix of residential, office and retail spaces on a block already home to a dozen businesses including four restaurants, parking spaces will also be a concern. At the March 24 Liverpool Village Planning Board meeting, JGB Properties shared details of its proposed development on the basin block bordered by First and South Willow streets and Lake Drive.

In spring a young man’s fancy turns to…baseball!

Ready or not, here comes baseball. Syracuse Chiefs groundskeeper John Stewart and his crew worked overtime last week scraping ice out of the dugouts at NBT Bank Stadium, where the local International League entry hopes to open its season at 2 p.m. Thursday, April 3. The top farm club of the Washington Nationals, the Chiefs will face New York Yankees Triple-A affiliate, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders, who remain in town for games at 5 p.m. Friday, and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 474-7833; syracusechiefs.com.

Next year, where will village put its piles of snow?

After that withering winter, especially that season-ending two-day blizzard March 12 and 13, most of us would like to forget about snow for the next six months or so. But Bill Asmus can’t afford to forget. He’s already worried about winter 2014-15. The superintendent of the village Department of Public Works since 1996, Bill needs to find a place to dump all the snow his crews plow from our streets and sidewalks.

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JGB Properties plans three new mixed-use buildings on basin block

At the March 24 Liverpool Village Planning Board meeting, JGB Properties prepared to share details of its proposed development on the basin block bordered by First and South Willow streets and Lake Drive. Plans drawn up by Keplinger Freeman Associates, an East Syracuse landscape architectural firm, call for the construction of three buildings, two along lower First Street and one on South Willow.

Liverpool’s proposed 2014-15 budget would hold property tax rate at $12.25 per thousand; public hearing set for April 14

Liverpool Village Clerk Mary Ellen Sims has presented a tentative 2014-15 budget of $2,437,648 to the Board of Trustees on March 17. That figure is $120,000 higher than this year’s budget of $2,306,565, but Sims said the tax rate should remain flat at $12.25 per $1,000 of valuation. “That’s the same rate we’ve had for the past two years,” she said.

Eye-catching color enhances new church bulletin

Less than three years after linking parishes, St. Joseph the Worker and Immaculate Heart of Mary Roman Catholic churches have also linked their weekly bulletins, and it’s an impressive new eight-page publication. Bathed in a royal purple of Lent, the cover of the March 16 edition includes drawings of the two church buildings on either side of a photographed sculpture of Jesus with his welcoming arms outstretched. Not only does color celebrate the season, it also helps differentiate the individual projects and programs and schedules at each of the two facilities. St. Joe’s events are generally listed in orange while Immaculate Heart is represented by blue.

Dick Powell shines on Cinefest’s silver screen

Every March, the Syracuse Cinephile Society’s annual Cinefest draws hundreds of vintage film fans from around the world to little ol’ Liverpool. The attendees view rare movies, most of them shot during the first half of the 20th century.

Library director to retire

On March 6, Liverpool Public Library Executive Director Jean Armour Polly announced to her staff that she would retire 30 days later, on April 6. Polly, 61, was appointed director in July 2009. Prior to that, from 2002 to ’09, she was assistant director of the library in charge of its systems and technology department. She previously worked at the library from 1976 to 1992, when she left to pursue Internet-related projects and write books.

Two-fingered typist became our best writer

Marylee Manson Armour knew how to turn a phrase. She was one of Liverpool’s most gifted writers ever. Her crowning achievement was a book about a Fourth Lake mail-boat captain, “Heartwood: The Adirondack Homestead Life of W. Don Burnap.” Marylee died Feb. 20 at age 89, but she had continued journaling up into her 87th year, this time in the form of a blog. Her favorite topics were nature, spirituality and homespun Hoosier humor. Born in Terre Haute, Ind., Marylee had resided in Liverpool since 1947, spending summers at the family camp at Fourth Lake.

Music meant the world to Mike Casale

Born with spina bifida in 1949, Mike Casale spent his entire 64 years wearing various contraptions designed to hold his body upright to offset the effects of the congenital spinal disorder. A naturally affable fella, Mike often commented frankly on his disability. “I’m 64 years old, 4-foot-3, and I use a cane,” he said, but he never complained about it and never let it hold him back. A talented bass guitarist who lived in Liverpool, Mike became of the most recognizable entertainers in Central New York. He made his initial mark on the local music scene from 1970 to 1985 as one-half of the duo Neighborhood Friends alongside six-string guitarist Gary Sprague.

Limp Lizard hosts feral feast on Sunday

The Limp Lizard BBQ specializes in Southern-style delicacies such as pulled pork, barbecued chicken, catfish, ribs and jambalaya. And no, despite the business’s name, the cooks there never grill iguana. This Sunday afternoon, however, one of the Limp Lizard’s regular customers, Joe Romano, will host a wild game dinner at the little bar and restaurant at 201 First St. There’s no lizard meat on his menu, but Romano will prepare plenty of venison, pheasant, duck, wild turkey and fish. Romano, who lives in Liverpool, is a 21st-century Renaissance man. A talented sculptor and carpenter with a shop on North Cypress Street and a home on Hickory Street, Romano’s also a gifted gastronome. For instance, he makes his own maple syrup and his own homemade wine, although I’m sure he’s careful not to mix them.

Local high school students memorize monologues for competition

Two local high-school students will be among 19 contestants in the 26th annual Shakespeare Competition from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, March 1, at Archbold Theatre at Syracuse Stage. The public-speaking contest conducted by the Syracuse branch of the English-Speaking Union of the United States will commemorating William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday.

City crime encroaching on the village

Back in the late 1990s, the North Side of Syracuse became overrun with drug addicts and prostitutes. Burglaries and muggings were common there. Shootings and stabbings increased as crack dealers fought turf wars over street corners. Before long, the blight spread to Eastwood, East Syracuse and Mattydale. How long, Liverpool folks wondered, will it be before it affects us too? The answer was, oh, about 10 or 15 years.

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L’pool native John Lemondes hopes to challenge Maffei in November

When he attended Liverpool High School is the early 1980s, John Lemondes excelled as a varsity wrestler. Now, after serving nearly 27 years in the U.S. Army, Lemondes wants to wrestle the New York 24th District congressional seat away from incumbent Dan Maffei. Lemondes, 48, who lives with his wife and three children on a 400-acre farm in LaFayette, is one of eight candidates currently vying for the Republican nomination to run for the House of Representatives in November.

GOP candidates line up to challenge Maffei

Congressman Dan Maffei, a Democrat, has never won a midterm election. So the line forms on the right as no less than eight local Republicans have announced their willingness to oppose Maffei in November. Last Tuesday, Jan. 28, the eight GOP hopefuls all appeared here at a town of Salina Republican Committee meeting at American Legion Post 188 on South Cypress Street in the village of Liverpool. Organized by Bill Tassone, chairman of the town of Salina GOP and vice-chairman of the county Republican committee, the Jan. 28 meeting drew 140 party members. Because our 24th Congressional District includes all of Onondaga County, Tassone also invited party members from the towns of Clay, Cicero and Van Buren. “We had 140 people,” Tassone said. “I’d been hoping for at least 100, so I was very pleased with the turnout.”

DA’s Advisory Council lifts the curtain on elder abuse

It’s a common crime that often goes undetected, unreported, unprosecuted and unpunished. It’s called elder abuse. “In their later years, people become more vulnerable,” said Jenny Hicks, Abuse in Later Life project coordinator for Vera House, Inc. in Syracuse. “People start losing their eyesight, hearing becomes weaker and sometimes dementia sets in. And by the way, older folks have money.” Elder abuse includes physical, emotional and sexual abuse, caregiver neglect and financial exploitation. “And 90 percent of the time it comes at the hands of family members,” Hicks added. “It’s shocking.”

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‘Les Mis’ luminescent!

B’ville Theatre Guild stages a sensational version of the classic musical 

Few musicals engage the mind and excite the senses as does “Les Misérables.” Even more rarely does a community theater group expertly blend the epic story, the grand spectacle and the soaring music to deliver a seamless and sensational show. Director Korrie Taylor, music director Abel Searor and producers Mark and Sandy Baker, however, have done just that with the current Baldwinsville Theatre Guild production of “Les Mis,” running through Feb. 8.

If we ever needed a Hot Stove, now is the time

How do you feel about this deep-freeze? Myself, I’m shivering like a mobster in an Internal Revenue office. It’s so cold that I’m warming up the house by leaving the refrigerator door open. Yeah, it’s so cold the pipes froze solid in the foyer of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church on Beechwood Avenue in Galeville. In fact, it’s so cold that the snow angel on Second Street is begging to come in and get warm. Over on Hiawatha Path, it’s so cold that Christina Fadden Fitch had to chisel her dog, Nicky, off a fire hydrant. Yeah, it’s so cold that Gena and Phil de Anguera over at the Family Music Center had to cut a piano up for firewood. They only got two chords. And it’s so cold that Balsam Street resident Jason Smorol, the new general manager of the Syracuse Chiefs, scheduled the team’s 54th annual Hot Stove Dinner for this Friday, Jan. 31, at the Holiday Inn Convention Center on Electronics Parkway. Proceeds will go to the Challenger Baseball League of Syracuse.

Village of L’pool officials impress chamber members with progress plans

Tuesday, Jan. 21, was a busy day for village of Liverpool officials. Three of the village’s four trustees along with Deputy Village Clerk Sandra Callahan and Police Chief Don Morris addressed some 60 attendees at the monthly luncheon hosted that day by the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce. Then the village board conducted its monthly meeting that evening.

Routine traffic stop raises eyebrows

It was the night after Christmas, and Liverpool Police Officer Jerry Unger saw an automobile driving 44 miles per hours in a 30 mile-per-hour zone along the 800 block of Oswego Street. His partner that night was Marcus Lukins, a new part-time police officer who recently completed his course-work at the Public Safety Training Center at Onondaga Community College. Unger was demonstrating for Lukins the proper way to conduct traffic stops. The officers pulled the car over along Onondaga Lake Parkway. The speeding driver was a young woman who said she’d enjoyed a single beer at a local bowling alley. Unger detected the odor of alcohol on her breath and noted that her speech was somewhat slurred. He ran her through a sobriety test and eventually arrested her for driving while intoxicated.

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