My compass points Nortz

The death of a friend or a loved one is always hard. That experience is made even tougher when that person decides to take their own life.

My friend and mentor, Colby Nortz, took his own life on July 23, 2014.

I first met Colby through my fraternity, Tau Kappa Epsilon. At first, I thought he was brash, outspoken, and just outright rude. But, as they say, don’t judge a book by it’s cover.

Colby was one of a kind. He could light up a room just by walking in and always made his presence felt. If you were ever feeling down, one of Colby’s infamous two-hour talks could inspire you to believe that you could do anything your heart desired. He would always put everyone else’s needs above his own, and was a prime example of what every human should aspire to be.

Over the year or so that I was fortunate enough to get to know Colby, and become close to him, we had many fueled debates. Colby was never one to back down, and always stood behind what he believed was right. That is what I loved most about him, and why this tragedy struck a particular chord with me.

‘What could drive someone to do such a horrific thing?’ I couldn’t stop thinking to myself when I first heard the news. I was baffled. Colby is the absolute last person that anyone could have ever foreseen succumbing to such awful circumstances.

It is coming up on the two-year anniversary of Colby’s passing, and every year I am reminded that he is not the only one who felt this way, and managed to hide it so well from all of his family, loved ones and closest friends. In recent weeks, Chenango County has had to come together as a community to try and deal with a similar tragedy.

Mental health awareness and suicide prevention will always remain topical issues in our world. What society needs to understand is that someone who seeks help is not considered weak. If anything, they are strong for wanting to face and confront their demons. If anyone ever needs help, there are people out there willing to talk to you 24/7.

The suicide helpline is 1800-273-TALK (8255).

Never let the fear of being annoying be a justification for taking your own life.

I wish that my friend was still here to reiterate this point, but I know that Colby’s memory will live on through the words of wisdom, compassion and love that he shared with all those he met and knew, be it for one minute, or 10 years. I don’t want others to have to go through the heartbreak of losing a family member, loved one or a close friend.

My advice to you is to reach out to those you think are in need, and show them that they are not alone.

Let’s hope that this worryingly increasing trend, especially among young adults, will be curbed in the near future.

Brittan’s brilliant exit strategy.

I congratulate the scores of British citizens who voiced their opinions at the polls, collectively deciding to withdraw their country from the European Union. Many have protested that the decision will inevitably lead to a ‘buyer’s remorse’ taste in the coming months, and financiers are forecasting a dismal effect for global markets; but that remans to be seen. My only wish it that the U.S. would get on with making major decisions via referendums as our British counterparts successfully did with their ‘Brexit’ Poll yesterday. Anyone that knows me also knows my contempt for the electoral college, delegate weight and the like–and I honestly feel that the ‘Brexit’ Poll is an excellent example of how efficient, transparent decision-making can be done. I applaud the British government and its populace for their straightforward approach. Instead, we’re told by our government that making choices via referendum or popular vote is inefficient, ill-conceived and in conflict with the principles of democracy? That’s a bitter pill to swallow with 2016 technology.

What a whirlwind

Well, it’s officially the start of my fourth week here at the Evening Sun, and what a few weeks it has been.

Let me start by introducing myself. My name is Kieran Coffey. I am the new crime and quality of life reporter here at the Evening Sun. Hopefully by the time you get to the end of this blog post, (if you can make it that far, that is), you will learn a little bit about me and what I plan to do in my role for the community.

My heritage comes from the Emerald Isle. Both of my parents immigrated to the U.S. back in 1984, in search of the elusive American Dream. Flash forward nine more years and I was born. We settled down in Whitestone, Queens, a suburb outside New York City. Due to extenuating circumstances, I was forced to move to Ireland when I was eight years old, where I lived with my aunt and uncle. This change would prove crucial in my development as an individual. While at first, it was hard for me to adjust to the culture and new surroundings, I quickly became accustomed to my new school, and started to make friends. What was only supposed to be a two week situation turned into a journey of eight years. I’m glad that I was fortunate enough to be able to experience two different ways of living. It provided me with a great sense of diversity.

When I was 16, the time came for me to move back to the U.S. By this time, my mom had grown tired of the hustle and bustle of the city, and moved towards the hills of Norwich. When I first arrived, the feelings of fear and anxiety came flooding back. I had to enter a new school all over again, making new friends somehow. I was extremely shocked and pleasantly surprised by the wonderful hospitality that I received when I eventually started in Norwich High School, and I can safely say that I made the most out of my two years there.

After this journey, it was off to college. With my car packed to bursting, I moved all my belongings once more. At this stage, I wasn’t even phased about adapting to a whole new environment. Over 5 years, I transferred school’s three times, until I finally ended up at SUNY Oswego. I stayed there for the final three years of my education, and it was one of the best decisions of my life. Oswego offered me the chance to get a degree from one of the top journalism schools in the country, and also provided me with the tools and experiences that I can utilize in the working world. In my final semester at Oswego, I was the pledge master of my fraternity, Tau Kappa Epsilon. While I will admit, it was much added stress on top of my already staunch workload, it gave me a terrific example of leadership.

Graduating college and starting a real reporting job just a week later, I had no idea what to really expect. Starting with my first day on the job, I got a taste of real action. As I was sitting in on my first County Court session, a robbery was taking place about 20 miles down the road, in Edmeston. Rushing back to the office, fellow reporter Cameron and I raced out in search of the culprit. We searched the area, but could find no trace of the suspect. However, the sheer exhilaration of the chase was enough to enthrall me.

That was the defining moment when I learned that college cannot prepare you for the reality of real time reporting. You are not just sitting in a classroom, being lectured, with daily assignments to turn in. Rather, you are exploring the community, scouring out the prime news stories of the day, and building connections in the locality. I couldn’t have envisioned what being a reporter truly entails.

If the rest of my reporting days are just as fulfilling as my first few weeks have been, then I know that I picked the right career for me. I hope that I can continue to provide you, the community, with quality reporting.

You can contact me a number of ways:
Phone: 607-337-3076
e-mail: kcoffey@evesun.com
twitter: @evesunkieran

Rest easy, Champ.

Back in elementary school, I was tasked with choosing a ‘famous’ person who had made a difference in my life. Many students chose presidents. One picked Jackie Kennedy. Another, Marilyn Monroe.
I picked The Greatest.
Saturday morning I entered my living room, turned on CNN and learned that Muhammad Ali had passed away at age 74. I should have seen it coming; I should have been more mentally prepared. I knew these last years were rough. I should have known.
But I didn’t, and I certainly wasn’t ready. I dropped my purse onto the floor, and sipped my coffee while in a slight state of shock.
Ali was the reason I had a heavy bag throughout my youth and teen years. He’s the reason behind so much of who I am today.
Sure, he’s always been known for being pretty, being feisty, confident and of course, the greatest. He’s deserving of all those and more.
The Louisville native won his first Olympic gold medal in 1960. He was 18, and known as Cassius Clay. Before one of his matches at the games in Rome, he made a prediction: that he would win by a knockout in the second round. …His prediction came true. He continued making similar predictions on his matches, often in poem or rhyme form.
In Ali’s 1975 autobiography, he wrote that after returning to his hometown, he attempted to eat at a ‘whites-only’ restaurant, and he threw his Olympic medal into the Ohio river.
In 1964, after going professional, his record was 19-0. He was the underdog in the championship fight against Sonny Liston. In his typical fashion, he predicted victory in a brash and colorful manner.
In the beginning of the seventh round of the bout, Liston refused to leave his corner and the fight ended with Clay becoming the heavyweight champion of the world.
Later that same year, he announced that he was a muslim, and changed his name to Muhammad Ali.
His fighting style set a precedent. I could have only wished – in my young years passionate about fighting – to be as quick. I couldn’t even come close to his speed, precision, accuracy. No one could. That’s why he’s the greatest. But that’s not the only reason.
Now it was his actions in April 1967, outside of the ring, that made me realize that this human was not just a fighter, a fantastic boxer. He was an incredibly smart man who was about to become a champion of a people.
Of course, many disagreed with his actions then, and I’m sure many do today.
Ali was drafted in 1966, and was called to serve in the Vietnam War. Prior to his induction which was scheduled for 1967, Ali made many statements as to why he would not be fighting:
“Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?
No, I am not going ten thousand miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would put my prestige in jeopardy and could cause me to lose millions of dollars which should accrue to me as the champion.
But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is right here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality…
If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn’t have to draft me, I’d join tomorrow. But I either have to obey the laws of the land or the laws of Allah. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail. We’ve been in jail for four hundred years.”
I recall one of my teachers in school referring to Ali as a ‘draft dodger.’
Shy, quiet little me piped right up, clarifying the difference between a ‘draft dodger’ and conscientious objector.
I recall going home and telling my mother that my teacher was incorrect, and tried to discredit the actions and words of a man who was standing up for his beliefs and a man who was a civil rights champion for so many people.
Ali was subsequently arrested following his refusal for induction. He was convicted of draft evasion, sentenced to five years in prison, fined $10,000 and banned from boxing for three years. He stayed out of prison as his case was appealed and returned to the ring on October 26, 1970, knocking out Jerry Quarry in Atlanta in the third round.
Ali was not only a champion for folks like me.
After his statements on Vietnam, Dr. Martin Luther King said in 1967, “Like Muhammad Ali puts it, we are all—black and brown and poor—victims of the same system of oppression.”
When Nelson Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island, he said that Muhammad Ali gave him hope that the walls would some day come tumbling down.
Ali redefined what ‘tough’ meant. The difference he was able to make in a culture that worshipped sports and violence while also idolizing African American athletes and criminalizing their skin color, Ali was able to bring so many together.
He made it known that it was important to speak the truth, no matter the cost.
Ali taught a simple lesson: “real men” fight for peace and “real women” raise their voices.
Bryant Gumbel once said on Ali, “Muhammad Ali refused to be afraid. And being that way, he gave other people courage.”
…Ain’t that the truth.
In 1984, Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. His public appearances became few and far between – that is until his appearance at the 1996 Olympics.
I remember watching it. I sat in front of the television at eight years old and watched him – with a trembling arm – light the Olympic cauldron. That moment not only opened my eyes, but the world’s eyes, to a disease worthy of more attention. He became the face of the struggle of the disease.
Still, you could see the heart of a champion. The heart of the greatest.
Once he lost his ability to speak because of the disease, gone were the days of his witty one-liners and poems. Gone were the statements of how pretty he was.
Ali’s last known public appearance was at a fundraising event for the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute, to which he donated millions. He was donned in sunglasses and didn’t speak, but deservingly received his final standing ovation.
In a Tweet written by his daughter Hana when Ali was hospitalized last week and after the family was told his health was not going to improve, she said hey held his once powerful hands. They hugged and kissed their 74-year-old father. They chanted Islamic prayer. Hana wrote that some of his children opted to whisper in his ear: “You can go now. We will be okay. We love you. Thank you. You can go back to God now.”
After Ali’s organs had failed, his heart continued to beat for 30 additional minutes.
That, my friends, is strength. That, is great. That, gives me hope.
Ali said in the years following the Vietnam issue, “Some people thought I was a hero. Some people said that what I did was wrong. But everything I did was according to my conscience. I wasn’t trying to be a leader. I just wanted to be free.”
Isn’t that what we all want? To be free?
Ali’s words on Vietnam can be changed slightly and still be relevant today.
Ali has helped me to remember to be kind. To care. To be politically aware. To stand up when everyone else sits down. Reminded me that some days, I don’t need to straighten my crown. He helped me to understand that I don’t need to apologize for who I am or what I believe, and that I am capable of anything I want to achieve.
Rest easy, Champ. You will always be The Greatest.

Lead by example

Being able to say I am just two days short of having been employed for the past 10 months at The Evening Sun, is something that came in the blink of an eye. The adult world is still something of a marvel to myself, as I am slowly picking up on the ins and outs and how to truly ‘adult’ correctly. I now have a new appreciation for my parents, my teachers and my coaches for putting up with my three younger brothers and I, to say the least.

However, one thing I have really be focusing on, is forcing myself to step back and slow down, to really take in and observe what I am doing each day.

As my days generally revolve around what high school games I will be going to and which articles I have to write about for the next days paper, I find myself surrounded by student athletes and coaches almost everyday. Therefore, I have gotten to know many coaches and athletes thus far, and have been able to observe many different ways that coaches attempt to reach these young athletes.

The athletes have been amazing to observe, when I can still remember what was running through my head what feels like ages ago, but in reality was just a short years ago. As I knew back then and as I see evident even more so now, each person is different in their approach to their respective sport, their preparation, attitude, and it really is quite interesting to observe all these students from all across Chenango County perform, and at quite a high level I might add.

But the coaches and their many different styles has been what truly has caught my attention, when I find the time to focus on what I am constantly and endlessly writing about. Without singling anyone out, in a positive or negative light, I admire and enjoy working with all of the various coaches in Chenango County.

When I think back to my many coaches I had in various sports growing up, I most fondly remember the ones who helped inspire and shape me into the ‘adult’ I am today. But, nevertheless, I also remember the few coaches who seemed to be just placeholders and the even a couple of coaches who were utterly negative and not inspiring in the least.

Coaches essentially are an extension of teachers in our society, helping to mold and shape the young minds of our youth. I know personally I can think of many influential coaches in my life, and even today I maintain a friendship with many of them. However, these negative coaches still hold a place in ones mind as well, something to strive not to become.

As I deal with all of the varsity level coaches in Chenango County, I have come to see a small glimpse of each of their styles. So when I happen to run into coaches that openly seem to be coaching not for the betterment of our youth and the sport, but instead for their own praise and pride, it bothers me to a degree. To hear these coaches complain that their team ‘doesn’t play for them,’ or ‘they aren’t winning,’ is perplexing to me, as even within a losing season, I always understood a huge part coaching was to manage their team and help inspire a spark to want to win.

A great coach and man taught me that sports are essentially a prelude to life – you have to work as a team, you have to excel individually, you have to face constant adversity, and when you fail you have to learn from it and get back up– this coach remains a part of my life today, and people like this belong in the coaching realm, and can truly help mold our youth into positive human beings.

When an individual is coaching for simply a paycheck or to get their name on a plaque, I see it as a drain on our local sports, which already are fighting an uphill battle with dwindling enrollment in some sports and simply the fact that Chenango County does not have the large class A schools and their budgets that accompany to further their success. Despite all this, I see much promise for the future of Chenango County high school sports if pushed in the right direction.

These young student athletes will one day be ‘adults’, entering into everyday life. For some of these kids, school and sports is all they may have if their parents are absent or otherwise not raising them. Therefore, it is important to be there and set a strong example for them, so one day they can look back on their coaches with thanks for the lessons taught, rather than have another thing –their coaches – that my millennial generation can blame their shortcomings on.

That being said, these negative coaches are few and far between, and usually work their way out of the coaching staff on their own accord.

Now as The full-time Sports Editor at The Evening Sun, and with nearly two full varsity seasons under my belt, it has been a pleasure to work with each and every team thus far, and I look forward to finding out what future seasons have to bring.

Good luck to the many teams and athletes of Chenango County who are or will be heading into post-season play this week or in the coming week, and lets hope each team can get that win and advance to the next round. And to those athletes and coaches that have concluded their seasons or will be shortly, it was a hectic spring 2016 season, but a very engaging and fun time.

Time is flying by

The end of 2015 and beginning of 2016 has been one crazy ride so far.

As I have now wrapped up my first six months of many being employed here at The Evening Sun, I could not have imagined that the time would have passed so quickly. I have had so many great times, and memories in such a short time.

I have learned so many tricks of the trade that I was unaware of when graduating from college. I have covered so many different areas in journalism, one aspect and something I think working for a local newspaper really helps with. This versatility and truly soaking in a broad range of topics from court, crime, sports, drug panels, school events, meetings, and so on has given me so much experience. Experience that I think has helped me grow as a person and as a writer.

I was amazed by the staff that is employed at The Evening Sun when I started and instantly knew I would enjoy working with them. Now just over six months later, I would agree even more with that statement and add that I am amazed with the amount of work and effort that each individual puts into their work on a daily basis.

The yearly Progress Chenango Edition, a recap and brief look forward for Chenango County Businesses, was truly a growing experience for me and has taught me some key time management techniques I will be carrying into this 2016 year.

Due to currently being understaffed, we had to bring on some stringers to help out with the Sports section. I want to personally thank Kieran Coffey and Grady Thompson for their effort and work helping us manage when times get tough, and not just manage but operate in my own personal opinion at a very high level.

But with that it has not all been happy and good all the time. While working on covering courts and crime I have seen, and now know many things that go on in our communities here in Chenango County that are saddening. Our addiction and crime problem for the small communities we live in is honestly disgusting but it is good to see small progressive steps being taken to address these issues. I look forward to seeing these small steps hopefully progress as 2016 continues.

Let alone the problems that face our community, as well as added stress from being understaffed and living the adult life now, it can be daunting at times. But with the great friends I have now right here at The Evening Sun, no task seems too daunting.

It is however important to step away from work for a bit and regroup from time to time. That is why with the big game coming up this Sunday featuring Denver and Carolina, I will be in full force cheering on my favorite football player and reason I started watching football way back, Peyton Manning.

I would like nothing more than to see Peyton and company win this big game over Carolina, as the legend himself notches win number 200 and becomes the most winningest quarterback in history, before he rides out into the sunset towards retirement.

So on that note, Go Denver!

New year, new me

Are you curious about some of the legislative issues challenging Chenango’s leading industry of dairy agriculture? Or how some of the area’s largest employers plan to sustain growth through 2016?

In case you don’t know where this is going, that’s my pitch for the 2016 edition of “Progress Chenango.” Welcome to the busy season for Evening Sun reporters. In spite of grumblings from the Evening Sun staff (including one or two or ten from yours truly), work for our annual “Progress Chenango” edition is in full swing. “Progress Chenango” is a once a year, ten-section publication full of feature articles, successes stories, photos, and opinion pieces spotlighting the trials and triumphs of businesses, nonprofits, local government and education over the past year, along with predictions of Chenango’s path for the future. Check it out when it hits newsstands later this month.

On a different note, it’s the start of a new year. That means millions of people are making new year’s resolutions. And apparently that’s a good opportunity for folks in the news industry to tell you why you’re such a failure. Encouraging, right? In the last week, I’ve come across countless articles explaining why people often fail to keep new year’s resolutions, and how they can stay on track. Of course everyone has their own reasoning for failure. For me personally, I blame my broken commitment to shed a few pounds on the tastiness of fresh baked cookies (and cake, and almost anything with cheese on it). That’s why I opt not to make a “new year’s resolution” per say. Instead I go for the “starting tomorrow” model. I’m going to eat better, starting tomorrow. I’m going to read more, starting tomorrow. I’m going to be more punctual, starting tomorrow. Yes, I have every intention to do all of this… starting tomorrow.

I also want to take a moment to announce that if things go accordingly, I’ll be leaving The Evening Sun to pursue my lifelong dream of winning the $900 million Powerball jackpot. Admittedly, I haven’t worked out all the details of this once in a lifetime transition, but I’ve already picked my numbers and informed management of my pending departure. While I’m endlessly grateful for people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had working for Chenango County’s hometown daily, I feel it’s time to move on. I vow never to let a few bucks stomp out the lessons I’ve learned that have become so deeply enriched in my journalistic roots. This isn’t to say I don’t understand the odds of winning are only 1 in 292 million, which some people might argue aren’t “good enough” to quit my day job. That’s why I bought 2 tickets… so I’m feeling pretty good about my chances. Again, it’s been a pleasure.

Stagnant approach to an escalating problem

By now everyone in the Norwich community has hopefully realized the very serious problem we all are facing, addiction. If not, it is time everyone jumps on board, because this problem doesn’t just involve the drug addicts and alcoholics, it encompasses everyone.

I attended, like many in the community did, the drug panel that was held at the Guernsey Memorial Library on Dec. 1, 2015. It was truly awesome to see that community room packed, with only minimal standing room in the back.

The panel of speakers included: Jennah Shreve, a Drug Court graduate; Mike Galesky, a Drug Court graduate; Sarah VanTine, a Drug Court graduate; Connie Barnes, mother of a deceased drug victim and nurse; Sarah Stewart, mother of a former user; Jim Everard, Drug Court Facilitator; Elliot Stewart, a former user and Rehab Intake Director; Joseph McBride, Chenango County District Attorney; Frank Revoir, Chenango County Judge; and John Dunkel, Probation Officer.

I think this panel was a huge step in the right direction for a Norwich community that seems to be very fed up with the addiction problem that exists.

I congratulate and thank each and every person who spoke at that panel that day.

I would also like to thank our law enforcement and court system for their ongoing efforts, but their actions are purely reactionary in nature.

However, not including these drug related arrests, and drug convictions in County Court, which happen what seems to be every few days; since this panel I have seen little to no actions taken to continue taking the steps necessary to cleaning up Norwich.

You may ask what these steps may be; a simple response is to continue to talk. A community that communicates has greater chance of tackling a problem than one who simply posts statuses on Facebook and complains constantly.

I would even go far enough to say that since no one has passed away recently from a drug overdose, as far as I know, the chatter about what needs to be done has simply faded away, as people have seemed to fall back into their Norwich bubble everyday routine.

I chose to attend the last Norwich City School Board meeting, which was held a few weeks ago at the Norwich Middle School. During the public opinion section of the meeting, I listened to one concerned individual – who also spoke at the drug panel – speak out on this matter of addiction.

Donald Chirlin, a retired Norwich City School teacher, per normal procedure, only spoke for a mere five minutes at this school board meeting. But he still spoke.

During these school board meetings, each person who wishes to speak during the public comment section is permitted to a five-minute time slot. Despite this long-standing rule, I feel this is somewhat of a metaphor for how Norwich seems to be handling their drug and addiction problem. Let them speak on the matter so it can be heard and publicized, that way it seems like a true effort is being made. However, we can only permit you to speak for five minutes because we really don’t want to hear about it, seems to be the attitude.

Chirlin spoke in regards to addressing the problem at the middle and high school level, essentially arguing that an attempt needs to be made in the schools to help prevent or reduce future addicts before graduation.

This short presentation was listened to intently by the board and a positive response was given.

Many of you who may be reading this piece, by this time might be thinking that the resources just don’t exist in Chenango County or Norwich, and you would be correct in assuming that.

But I would like to remind people that the more a topic is talked about, the more attention will be brought to it, and hopefully that will cause some more change.

Thankfully since the last time I wrote no one has passed away from overdose, but just the other day on Dec. 21, there was another major drug bust that occurred right in City of Norwich on Division Street. This time the Norwich Police Department recovered methamphetamine, as well as material used to manufacture this drug.

Speaking from personal experience when I cover County Court for The Evening Sun, there seems to be a lot of drug related burglaries recently. During the panel at the library, our District Attorney even alleged that with drug addiction comes an increase in burglaries, due to addicts stealing to support their habit.

So maybe drugs aren’t a part of your life directly, and maybe no one you know has an addiction problem. But burglaries take a toll on everyone, as they put a community in a state of fear.

So as we enter the new year of 2016 in just a few short days, it is important to remember that this addiction problem isn’t just a 2015 problem. So as the new year is fast approaching, we should remember when making our new year’s resolutions that maybe as a community we should look to correct the direction our community seems to be heading before we fail to try to hit the gym a little more as resolution.

The fall season is by far my favorite

Forget the over publicized pumpkin spice everything, the most important thing regarding fall is that Football is back, go Colts as they take on Brady and the cheating Patriots. But fall also means no more blistering August heat, and of course the best holiday in my opinion, Halloween. But one thing that this great midway season has to offer to the people of upstate and central New York is the amazing colors and scenery, as the leaves change.

Maybe this is a little repetitive; as I am sure many people have been talking and have even written about the changing leaves and amazing scenery. But I wanted to take the time to really talk about how lucky the people in this area truly are to get such an amazing nature display. Many people don’t take the time to slow down their lives to truly appreciate this season.

The thing about fall is how fast the season goes by every year. It seems like one second it’s summer then next thing we know we’re frozen in the dead of winter.

Winter, on the other hand is my least favorite season by far. Growing up in Norwich my whole life and then going to college in the Syracuse area and then Oswego, I know all too well what a terrible time winter is. I apologize to anyone who enjoys winter, but seriously no one enjoys waking up and trying to go work, all to find out you have to shovel and scrape of snow and ice from your frozen car. Not to mention when you get home from work, which means it’s time to shovel the walk.

But back to fall, last year, or possibly the year before even, I took two of my younger brothers on a little nature hike to see the stone quarry. I wanted to share some pictures that I took along the way. This time of the year had me thinking about it again as it is something I would love to do again with them or simply myself. It has been far too long since I took a nice hike to the stone quarry.

Pictures of nature hike at the Stone Quarry.

I also recently have been in contact with Don Windsor who has a club called the Bullthistle Hikers club, which takes individuals on various hikes around the Chenango County area. This group was unknown to me prior to speaking with him, but I find it truly awesome that something like this club exists. He has invited me to go on some hikes with his group. As I have such an erratic schedule, I honestly admit I don’t know if I will be able to. But I will make a note to try to set some time away and make a hike or two with his club. I encourage anyone interested to get in contact with him at windsorda@yahoo.com, as they go hiking each Sunday morning I believe.

Regardless, the point of this blog is to encourage the people in Chenango County and upstate New York to take a second out of your day to appreciate the changing colors and great scenery many of us take for granted each year. Soon enough, winter will be upon us and we will all be huddled inside attempting to stay warm.

Debate, Royals, church killing

So much has transpired since my last blog post.
• First, I’ll make brief mention of the Democratic Debate that aired on CNN Tuesday night. I speculate that where I stand on the spectrum of politics is far different than many readers, and I’m 100 percent fine with that. The five who took the stage for the debate each laid out where they stood with regard to foreign policy, economics, criminal justice reform, gun control, climate change, and national security.
Thanks to mass media, the statements regarding Clinton’s emails seem to have been a highlight of the debate.
I disagree, but to each their own.
With businessman Donald Trump the current front-runner on the Republican side, the Democrats have former Secretary of State and female presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, self-proclaimed “Democratic Socialist” Bernie Sanders from Vermont, former Baltimore Mayor and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, former US Senator and Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee, and Jim Webb, former US Senator from Virginia, Secretary of the Navy, and Vietnam veteran.
The debate was entertaining. I encourage anyone planning on voting do some serious research on the candidates, as not everything is as it seems.
• Baseball is in the post-season. The Kansas City Royals play game five tonight to stay in the running for the ALDS.
Johnny Cueto better have the control he needs to get the job done. He’s had some rest, so I’m sure he’ll be fine. I’m counting on switch-hitters Ben Zobrist and Kendrys Morales to get some bodies on bases and after Eric Hosmer’s performance in game four, I’m looking for him to show up ready to play too. The Astros’ Colby Rasmus is a little dangerous, so the pitcher needs to focus on strikes, or walk him if that’s the favorable option.
If the Royals end up losing tonight’s game, it’s not the end of the world. Yes, they’ll be an unhappy editor in the morning, but as a Kansas City fan, loss is nothing new. The Royals have had a season to be proud of.
• This morning, the AP national wire had a story with a slug that read “Church Killing.” I opened it, assuming – for some reason or another – that whatever happened took place far away. Not the case this time.
Six church members were arrested in connection with the beating of two brothers, and will appear in court again Friday. The Word of Life Church is in the Hamlet of Chadwicks in New Hartford, and was said by police to be the scene of the crime where a 19-year-old and 17-year-old were allegedly beaten for hours. The 19-year-old ultimately died as a result of his injuries. Two of the six arrested were the boys’ parents, Bruce and Deborah Leonard. I spoke with a former member of the church this afternoon who shared her experiences with the church, and a full story will appear in tomorrow’s edition of the paper.

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