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.
Two years ago, Damon “DJ” Villnave saw a news broadcast that would change his life. “It was before the holidays [two years ago]. The Rescue Mission had a van going around and they were showing all the homeless people and people out on the streets having frostbite because last winter, unlike this year, it was so cold,” said mom Sara Villnave. “So he was very serious, and he was very upset, and he said, ‘They can’t be cold. I don’t want anyone to be cold.’ Then he decided, ‘Everybody needs a blanket,’ because when he’s cold, he gets a blanket.” So DJ, a fourth-grader at Karl W. Saile Bear Road Elementary in North Syracuse, decided to organize a blanket drive for the men at the Rescue Mission.
More than 20 years after losing her mother to cancer, Kristin Atkinson is channeling her grief into helping other women. Atkinson of Cicero, Kristin Johnson of Cicero and Tara Polcaro of North Syracuse started The Molly Project as a way to provide comfort to women affected by cancer and their families. Named after Atkinson’s late mother, The Molly Project got its start a year ago when Johnson’s sister called her, looking for a way to help a co-worker with cancer.
With a $20 million budget gap facing Syracuse, the city’s busiest fire station may be on the line. City officials have floated the idea of closing down Syracuse Fire Department Engine Company No. 7, located at 1039 E. Fayette St. But the members of Local No. 280, the firefighters’ union, say that would be a very bad idea. “In the past two years, we’ve had several incidents of multiple fires in the city. We were stripped, using every resource,” said Paul Motondo, vice president of Local No. 280. “Losing an engine company, especially this one because of where it is and what its responses are, it’ll create a huge void.”
There’s no excuse to keep your pets unaltered. The Animal Alliance of Greater Syracuse, based in Liverpool, is the recipient of a $20,000 grant from the Central New York Community Foundation that will allow the organization to to purchase start-up equipment for a mobile spay/neuter clinic, which will move around to various city locations altering both dogs and cats belonging to low-income residents. And they’re not alone. The CNY SPCA also received a grant for low-cost spaying and neutering. This grant applies only to residents of the 13211 zip code and is good for 2013-14. All surgeries will take place at the CNY SPCA on East Molloy Road.
This year, for the first time, Ophelia’s Place has the opportunity to participate in one of Syracuse’s premiere charity events. The Syracuse Auto Dealers Association will host their 15th annual Charity Preview starting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13. In 2012, the event raised $213,000, bringing the all-time total to more than $2 million. “The non-profits do not incur any cost associated with this, so it is a wonderful opportunity to use this event to help fill the gaps in our budget,” said Jodie Wilson-Dougherty, executive director of Ophelia’s Place. “Our time and energy are all in trying to sell tickets. SADA does all the work on logistics.”
In response to the dissolution of the Friends of the Liverpool Public Library on Jan. 14, LPL Board of Trustees President Mark Spadafore issued the following statement: “Though we are disappointed by the decision of the Friends of the Liverpool Public Library, Inc. to disband, the Board of Trustees and administration are moving forward with plans to continue to provide the highest level of service at the lowest possible tax rate to the Liverpool taxpayers.”
As we enter the New Year, many of us are pledging to get healthier — to lose weight, exercise more, eat more fruits and vegetables. But possibly the healthiest resolution, and one of the most enduring, is to quit smoking. But given that tobacco kills more people every year than alcohol, car accidents, cocaine, heroin, homicide, suicide, fire and AIDS combined, wouldn’t it be better never to start?
About 75 people attended the meeting Friends of the Liverpool Public Library Monday night at the Ramada Inn in Salina. There was significant discussion as to why the dissolution was taking place, and Friends board members took questions submitted on index cards. At the close of the 90-minute meeting, the membership voted 63 to 9 to dissolve the group.
Sunshine Friends Inc. (SFI) provides training for therapy dogs (and cats) and leads excursions to schools, nursing homes and the Golisano Children’s Hospital. “Therapy dogs provide comfort, humor and affection to those who need it the most,” said SFI President Danielle Basciano. “There are a variety of ways in which therapy dogs can be used to improve a person's quality of life, but the common thread is the unconditional and non-judgmental affection a therapy dog provides.”
Cicero Supervisor Jim Corl’s name is on the short list of candidates being considered for an appointment to the Onondaga County Legislature. With Third District County Legislator Bill Meyer leaving for a county appointment, the seat will be left open for a replacement to be decided by County Executive Joanie Mahoney. Mahoney appointed Meyer as assistant director of the Veterans Service Agency last week in a shakeup that also left the ninth district seat open; Legislator Mark Stanczyk will be the new deputy commissioner of community services. She also appointed her campaign manager, Ben Dublin, as her chief of staff and communications director Marty Skanen as deputy commissioner of parks and recreation.
After months of negotiations, the Liverpool Public Library board of trustees and Friends group were unable to come up with a memorandum of understanding that would formalize the relationship between the two entities. As a result, the Friends group will hold a vote on its own dissolution at its Jan. 14 meeting.
The North Syracuse Central School District Board of Education and the North Syracuse Principals’ Association have reached an agreement on the principals’ contracts from 2012-15.
There’s a lot of conflict in education these days, but experts agree on one thing: something needs to change. “New York State has high academic standards and spends more money per student than any other state in the nation,” said a report by the New NY Education Reform Commission issued last week. “However, we are not seeing enough return on investment, especially for the large number of students from a background of poverty. New York lags far behind most states in graduation rates; only 74 percent of New York’s students graduate from high school, and only 35 percent are college ready.” That’s why Gov. Andrew Cuomo convened the the 25-member commission last April: to better prepare New York’s 2.7 million K through 12 students for the future. The commission issued its preliminary recommendations last week to mixed reviews.
A 2-year-old girl who was the victim of an assault on New Year’s Eve has died.
For some, the post-holiday blues are worse than for others. In addition to the general stresses of finding the perfect gifts, struggling with holiday finances, cleaning the house for guests and family arguments, the holidays and the time after are especially difficult for those taking care of a loved one with a serious illness. “Holidays are packed with emotions for most people, so when you add in the stresses of caregiving it can often be a tipping point,” said Jared Paventi, chief communications officer, Alzheimer's Association, Central New York Chapter. “All of a sudden, a houseful of people on Christmas day becomes an empty house again. It's like going from 60 to zero in a heartbeat. This is difficult for people who aren't caregiving, so you can imagine what a caregiver feels.”
Read on to recall the biggest stories of the past year in Liverpool, North Syracuse, Clay, Cicero, Salina and Mattydale.
It’s that time of year — time for New Year’s resolutions. And while many of us are committing to getting organized or living a healthier lifestyle, our local municipal leaders are also resolving to provide better services, more efficient government and more value for our tax dollars. Read on to find out what your town and village leaders have to say about the changes coming in 2013.
The North Syracuse Central School District voted to approve a contract with the North Syracuse Principals Association Wednesday night, clearing the final hurdle in its efforts to put in place a teacher evaluation system mandated by New York state. The details of the contract were not immediately available, but the Star-Review has filed a Freedom of Information request for the document.
On Saturday, Dec. 15, Moyers Corners Fire Department Station No. 1 opened its doors to a different kind of crowd. In addition to the usual crew of firefighters and first responders, several burn survivors and their families also came to the station in order to enjoy the holiday celebration of the Burn Foundation of CNY, to which the department volunteered to play host.
Things got a little hairy at North Syracuse Junior High School the week before the holiday break. But it’s okay; it was all for a good cause. Thirty members of the staff at the school signed up to grow beards in support of NSJHS’s Beards for Bread fundraiser, which aimed to raise money for the Community Food Pantry at St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church. The idea came from math teacher Zach Mekker and science teacher Jason Shannon, according to Assistant Principal Chuck Yonko.