Like a Snow Day in May. (yeah, that’s a thing)

My mobile phone is perpetually inundated with notifications, voice-mails, emails, twitter alerts and on and on… So much so that it sometimes takes a day or two to filter through them all and bring myself up to date on everything that’s happening around me.
To my surprise, this week I received an automated message from the Norwich City School Superintendent kindly reminding us to go vote on the budget, before dropping the bomb.
Apparently, last winter wasn’t harsh enough. Somehow NCSD—and some others around the county—ended the snow season with one of those prized snow days to spare. Whomever the powers-that-be decided that students would get an extra day off, extending their Memorial Day Weekend into Tuesday, you know… that day we all have to be back on the books.
That being said, I’m Jealous.
In my entire career as a student in the NCSD system, never did we receive an extra day off.
In fact I recall that Dr. Bob Cleavland would have us in school when even the “walkers” would need to hitch a ride with a plow truck to make it in sans tardy. Uphill, both ways.
Okay, so maybe I’m not “jealous,” but the notion of a fair-weather freebie does have me reflecting a bit on priorities, and I’m having trouble tacking down how we can afford to give students a day off when the list of mandates and nonsensical common core standards continue to increase.
So, while I’m at work on Tuesday, I’ll be sure to wish my kids in daycare a happy and productive “snow day” as I push through my “freebie,” cause all that scratch is going to the sitter.

follow me on twitter: @evesunmatt

Sports season winding down

The 2014-2015 scholastic sports season is about ready to close shop with hopes starting anew in late August. Some noteworthy athletes and teams to keep an eye on the next couple of weeks are the Norwich participants in the Section IV tennis state qualifier this weekend, and later, the upcoming Section IV Track and Field state qualifier.
Norwich seniors Zan and Colin Stewart look to punch their ticket – again – to the New York State tennis championships in New York City at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The Stewarts are defending Section IV champions, and actually made some inroads at the state tournament a year ago winning a couple of matches.
For those with an affinity for boys and girls running fast, jumping far, and heaving a weighted instrument great distances, league championships are this week, the Section IV state qualifier is in two weeks, and the state championships are June 12-13 at the University of Albany.

I was moved by an obituary that appeared in our Friday, May 15 edition. Kenneth Earl Holt recently passed away, the obituary said. There was no specific information on the date of death, Ken’s age or the names of his surviving family members. The few short paragraphs used to sum up the man’s life were obviously far too few to document a life well lived. Ken was one of my accounting teachers at SUNY Morrisville, and I found him a pleasant man. He was someone who actually “lived it” rather than simply working in academia all of his adult life with no actual hands-on business experience. After an amazing list of lifelong accomplishments, the writer of the obituary closed with the words, “Through it all, (Ken) remained true to himself. We can all aim to live such a life.” Well said.

Follow me on Twitter @PatrickLNewell

The start of a long, winding campaign season

Hats off to all who have been involved in bringing the Greater Chenango Cares initiative into fruition. For those who don’t know, Greater Chenango Cares is an innovative readiness training (IRT) exercise for service men and women that will connect the underserved community to much needed health, optometry, veterinary, and dental care services. At the same time, it will provide invaluable training for service members for wartime and disaster missions. It’s a classic win-win arrangement between the Department of Defense, and the people their sworn to serve. And while the DOD has held similar events in other parts of the country, Chenango was chosen as the first IRT site in the north east region. Now I wouldn’t ever make it a habit of saying this, but sometimes (and I stress “sometimes”) it pays to be underserved.

Even though the Chenango County Republican primaries are still five months away, the local election season is already starting to heat up. “House of Cards” references aside – at least until one of our reporters goes missing – three campaign related stories were published in The Evening Sun this week: one announcing Assistant District Attorney Zachary Wentworth’s intent to challenge District Attorney Joseph McBride for the DA position; another regarding the Chenango Republican Committee’s endorsement of McBride for reelection; and lastly, an announcement from longtime Norwich resident Christine Carnrike that she’s throwing her hat in the ring for Norwich mayor. As a reporter, it’s an exciting time – for the newspaper and for the profound words of wisdom sure to shine on ’30 Seconds.’

From local elections to the national scene (grunt). It’s a long 19 months until the next presidential election, but considering the constant Hillary buzz from national media outlets in the last week, it’s hard to believe elections aren’t right around the corner (not that I don’t already have a repertoire of candidates I can’t wait to vote against). Hey, I’m all for shattering the glass ceiling that’s barred women from advancing in the male-dominated political arena. But then again, the election of a female president will be just as effective ending sexism as the election of a black president was in putting an end to racism. If being a woman is what gives Hillary an edge, I can’t wait to watch the presidential debate when every candidate’s rocking the Hillary Clinton haircut, heels, and well tailored pantsuit.

It’s been two weeks since Easter but I still have a flock of Peeps on the kitchen table staring at me every time I walk in the room. It’s unsettling how fresh they still look in their… um… maturity. I’ve heard the only way to tell the age of a Peep is to throw it against a window. If it bounces, it’s less than a year old. If the window needs to be replaced, it’s older than a year. I do love a good experiment.

Sports Editor’s Playbook: April 3, 2015

We don’t have a full accounting of his career record – and all of the wrestlers he has guided to Section IV and New York State titles – but we would be remiss if we didn’t recognize Tim Jenks, Greene’s longtime wrestling coach.
Our coverage of Greene wrestling was primarily in big tournaments, and that’s where Jenks’ charges flourished. Jenks announced his retirement before the start of the 2014-2015 wrestling season, and he leaves with more wins than any local wrestling coach. Although we do not have his career victory total, Jenks passed 300 career dual meet wins a few years ago, and his list of championship-level wrestlers is voluminous. Over the past five years, Jenks guided Christian Dietrich (2014), Kyle Stanton (2012), and Nick Wilcox, Tyler Beckwith (2010) to Division II state titles.
I may have spoke to Jenks perhaps two or three times a wrestling season, but he was always good for an entertaining quote. Good luck to Jenks in retirement, although I can’t see him too far removed from the wrestling mat.

Thursday, April 2 we published the first of what we hope will become a long-standing and yearly edition: The Best of Chenango County Winter Sports. It’s a departure from our usual inserts in that it was almost exclusively a pictorial edition with bullet points of each respective team and athlete. Why was it photo-based? More on that in a moment. On a season-by-season basis, we typically publish dedication/congratulations/good luck pages for teams that achieved at a high level. Last winter, for instance, the Norwich varsity boys’ basketball team was recognized for its third straight Section IV championship. About four weeks ago, there was a staff discussion about which particular teams and athletes had outstanding seasons. We concluded that there were too many who excelled and one dedication page was not enough, so we decided to expand on the theme. Initially, the thought was a 10- or 12-page edition, but advertising support was tremendous, so what you saw in yesterday’s print edition was a 20-pager. About that all-picture concept: We covered all of these teams and athletes in great detail throughout the winter sports season, so the picture concept was designed to create an ultimate scrapbook keepsake. Where else will you find half-page photos of teams and athletes? And in color? Aside from our yearly Progress Chenango editions, this is the most color we have published in any insert with 16 of the 20 pages in full color. The new written copy we did add to the feature was updated quotes from many of the individual athletes who were able to speak in a non-competitive setting and elucidate on their sport.


Before I left for vacation last month (mid-March), I looked at the spring high school sports schedules and noticed that several teams were scheduled to play in late March/early April. I can’t remember if I smiled or laughed out loud, but with about two feet of snow still on the ground, I wondered yet again why the schedulers stubbornly paired teams in late March. Maybe once every four years is a game played in late March, and in those cases, the teams scheduled in those games were fortunate to have actually practiced outside in preparation for opening day. Inevitably, a boatload of games are rescheduled to later dates when, presumably, the weather is less inclement. Last weekend I received an email from the Unadilla Valley coach, who had games scheduled the ensuing week. The coach wrote: “As you might suspect, all events for baseball for UV this coming week have been cancelled.” This coach knew there was no hope any games would be played. Over the past three days, we’ve seen quite a bit of snow melt away, however, the bare spots remain muddy and soft. Major League Baseball’s opening day isn’t until April 6, and that’s the top level of sports. Stands to reason the six-week regular season of baseball/softball should follow suit and not schedule games until the second week of April, thereby reducing some cancellations and postponements. That probably makes too much sense.

Follow me on Twitter @PatrickLNewell

Think outside the bun, indeed

I have attended a lot of public meeting in my time as reporter, but never one where I hear the question: “What does that smell like?”

Of course I’m talking about a recent story on last week’s informational meeting for a proposal to build a meat processing plant on County Road 23 in the Town of Sherburne. The meeting (or meat-ing, as we were tempted to put on the front page) brought out well over 100 residents who wanted to weigh in on the idea. The company behind the $20 million project, All In Meats, Inc., claims it would add about 120-150 jobs to the area, and boost the local ag industry by saving farmers the expense of shipping cattle to slaughtering facilities in Pennsylvania. While I certainly agree that more jobs would be welcome to the area, I don’t know enough about the industry to say where I stand yet. But I look forward to the impending debate.

On a separate note, with Norwich Mayor Joseph Maiurano’s two-year term expiring at the end of the year, talk is swirling of who might be sitting behind the mayor’s desk come January. Only one candidate, Thomas LoPiccolo, has officially thrown his hat in the ring while rumors of other possible Republican candidates are beginning to circulate. Regardless of whom you’re pulling for, it looks like this year’s ballot will not be uncontested (unlike it has been in the past two city mayoral elections). Thumbs up for choice. I know what you’re probably thinking; and no, this not a jab at Maiurano, nor is it an endorsement of any particular candidate. This is simply a cheer for the democratic process the way it was intended to be: with options.

I think it bears mentioning that Taco Bell has been in the news way more that you would think it should be lately. On Wednesday, the AP put out a story about the chain’s decision to change up its breakfast line by getting rid of the “waffle taco” and replacing with a biscuit – something or another (I mean, it’s Taco Bell. Does it really matter exactly what they’re replacing it with?). The… well, big announcement, I guess… comes just weeks after Taco Bell said it will use a test market in California for its “Cap’n Crunch Delights” – a deep-fried ball of sweet dough filled with sugary cream and dusted with crushed Captain Crunch cereal. You can almost hear the diabetes setting in. All this is to say that Taco Bell is, beyond any doubt, the foremost company to benefit from the legalization of recreational marijuana. Better buy your stocks now. Who would have thought we would see the day when Taco Bell as a safe financial investment?

Greene field hockey coach built on a great legacy

A couple of weeks ago we acknowledged the impending retirements of a pair of winter-season coaches. It took a while, but word on the grapevine finally traveled up Route 12 to these ears – from Greene.
The parent of an outgoing senior field hockey player on the Trojans confirmed that longtime head coach, Sue Carlin, is retiring from teaching at the end of the school year. Does that mean she’s retiring from coaching? Appears so.
Carlin was an outstanding high school player for Hall of Fame coach Nancy Bromley during the formative years of the program. About a quarter century after graduating from her alma mater, Carlin took over a program that was already a well-oiled machine.
During Carlin’s tenure, Greene doubled its field hockey state titles winning three times – the first in 2002 when assistant coach – and likely successor – Christine McCabe was a freshman.
The first game of the 2013 season, Carlin reached a victory milestone – 400 wins – and according to our records, finishes her distinguished coaching career with 418 wins. That includes double-digit Section IV titles, and five overall state titles – two at Maine-Endwell prior to moving back to Greene.
“I’ve just had some great kids, great families, and great assistant coaches over the years,” Carlin said in 2013 after her 400th career victory.
Humble in victory, gracious in defeat, and always giving full credit to her charges, Carlin was a steady influence on the sideline stressing poise and precision under fire. And her kids always performed with class on the field, a reflection of Carlin’s own character.
When I visit Greene for preseason photos and interviews this coming August, it just won’t be the same without Sue Carlin. Best wishes in retirement, Sue, and it was my pleasure to witness how you built on Greene’s long tradition of success.

Follow me on Twitter @PatrickLNewell

Sports Editor’s Playbook: March 6, 2015

We didn’t do any advance promotion, and truthfully, the run dates of our Norwich Sports Hall of Fame inductee articles crept up on me. Today, we publish the first of six articles highlighting the accomplishments of the 2015 class.
First up is 1946 Norwich graduate Don McGraw, written by Norwich graduate and retired NHS teacher, Don Chirlin. Like many young kids of his era, star athletes on the varsity teams were idolized and revered. McGraw was one of the best all-around athletes of the 1940s following closely in the footsteps of previous NHSSHOF inductee, Charles “Doc” Ulrichs.
As revealed in the article, McGraw was a close relative of legendary New York Giants baseball manager, John McGraw. It’s of little surprise that Don McGraw not only starred on the football field and basketball court, but particularly shined on the baseball diamond. An unfortunate injury – likely from his football playing days – cut McGraw’s likely pro baseball career short.


Earlier this week we printed a press release revealing the Section IV Athletics Hall of Fame selections with ties to Chenango County. Gaining induction Saturday will be Jeff Parker (Norwich), Craig Reynolds (Oxford), and Bob Conway (girls’ basketball coach).
Reynolds graduated well before my days here at the paper, in fact, I was a freshman in high school when he completed his playing days. I covered Parker his final two years of high school, and his status in the football program as the school’s all-time leading rusher cemented his credentials in my mind. With Conway, I have worked with him every season of my career, and I see no end in sight.
Conway, 58, is in his 33rd year as a varsity basketball coach, and his accomplishments continue to pile up. He took over a Mt. Upton program, one with no success to speak of – and one of the smallest enrollments in all of Section IV – and took it to the state championship game in his fifth season. When Mt. Upton merged with Gilbertsville, Conway moved on to Bainbridge-Guilford – another girls’ basketball program with no established history of success in the Susquenango Association.
In 22 years at the small Class C school, Conway has had just one losing season, won nine division titles, five league titles, one Section IV title, and multiple Section IV finals appearances. By no means is Bainbridge-Guilford a factory of high-level athletes that affords Conway premium talent to maintain the program’s success. Conway is adept at defining roles for players on his roster, while also loosening the reins for his marquis players.
In 33 years patrolling the sidelines, no area coach in any sport has won more games than Bob Conway. After Thursday night’s victory over Newfield, Conway has 485 career victories. Saturday afternoon at the Floyd L. Maines Memorial Arena will be a big day for Conway: His Bobcats will play for a sectional championship, then he’ll enter Section IV’s Hall of Fame along with the other inductees. Knowing Bob as a I do, his focus will be squarely on his team’s performance. But it would be a weekend to remember if Conway’s team can piggy-back a sectional title on top of the coach’s well-deserved individual honor.

Follow me on Twitter @PatrickLNewell

Updates from the newsroom

It has been far too long since the last ‘newsroom update,’ so here we go.

• Since my last blog, The Evening Sun staff has moved locations, and we’re now finally settled in. Well, my walls could use some art — and I have a few local artists in mind — but all in good time. For now I like my coffee cups and notebooks. The decorating can wait.
• As you may have noticed in last Friday’s print edition, ‘Thumbs’ returned to the Viewpoints page of the paper. Each week, the writers and I will weigh in on an issue and give a brief opinion. Sometimes a thumb will be in regard to a village, town or city meeting, a new piece of legislation, a new business opening, a kind act witnessed (or personally carried out), or something in relation to our local criminal justice system. ‘Thumbs’ give each writer an opportunity to voice how they felt about something they may have covered, whereas in their news story, they remain objective.
• Something else that will be rolling out soon is a newly designed online ’30 Seconds’ submission page. All will be given the opportunity to create a handle before they submit their thoughts or reactions. The reason behind this new feature is because ’30 Seconds’ will be returning to print in the near future. The handle will allow me to pick the best (and worst) posts to put into print twice per week, and will ensure that one person isn’t pretending to post as another. There still will be the opportunity to post as man or woman from wherever you may be.
• Also related to ’30 Seconds,’ in no way do I find joy in censoring the words of others, but I would be willing to bet that people who submit the extremely profane, derogatory, racist, and downright mean posts know before they hit ‘submit’ that I won’t approve it. We could save us both some time if we cut out the hardcore swear words I see on a daily basis.
• It was great to see the photographs our photographer Frank Speziale shot from the Holy Family Lenten Fish Fry on Friday. The happiness in each of the photos Frank brought me put a smile on my face, and showed me that the people who help out at the weekly event really do care. It was very nice to see.
• Congratulations to the two young men who won the State Championship with their wrestling skills. Even though I am not as familiar with their career as our Sports Editor Pat Newell is, I have paid attention to their sports activities for the past couple years, and it’s been exciting. Well done, Mr. Rifanburg and Mr. Garcia.
• There have been numerous complaints about the winter weather we’ve been having. I allow myself one complaint per season. I use my winter and summer complaints right away. The first time I have to clean the snow off my car, I use my winter complaint. Once the temperature goes above 70 degrees, there goes my summer complaint. But I digress, even though it’s March, it’s still winter and chances are it will snow. Use caution when driving, don’t drive unless it’s necessary, keep warm, make sure your pets are inside, and remember it’ll be over soon. I have a hard time complaining when I have a roof over my head and there are plenty of people in this world without that.
• Things are rolling along in the newsroom, with some investigative, in-depth stories on tap. These include research that has taken weeks so far, and the filing for certain documents necessary for the stories to come to life. They’re not time sensitive, but I think readers will find them interesting and perhaps eye-opening.
• In closing, we are working on a year-long series that will highlight those who hail from Chenango County who have made a name for themselves. This includes humanitarians, arts and entertainment, science and medicine, business, politics … you name it. We plan to feature a different individual each week once we have our ideas solidified. We’re opting to include those who are living that are currently making an impact — be in here in Chenango or anywhere else in the world — or who have left a lasting impact but are no longer with us. If you have a nomination for someone who fits this criteria, please send an email to ababbitt@evesun.com or send a private message to The Evening Sun’s Facebook page.

Two area coaches retiring

RETIREMENTS

I remember my first interaction with Paul DuVall. It was around 1996 or 1997 and DuVall was running the Unadilla Valley peewee wrestling program. He submitted a photo and caption information for publication in our sister paper, The Gazette. A few days after publishing the story, Paul gave me a call. He wasn’t happy with the “creative license” I took with the write-up. After a short conversation, I think I appeased Paul, and encouraged him to keep submitting information about his young wrestlers.
Perhaps it was the following year, Paul took over as head coach of the UV wrestling program. At the time, there were just a few kids on the team, and Jeremy Wetherbee was the lone standout. Wetherbee would advance to the sectional finals multiple times under DuVall’s tutelage. Although Wetherbee did not win a section title, he was the foundation of a wrestling program that grew and improved year after year. I took an inventory each season at the sectional wrestling tournament: Every year, Unadilla Valley had an increasing number of sectional tournament qualifiers, and the program reached its peak when Trevor Franklin won a state title. DuVall resurrected the Unadilla Valley wrestling program that remains solid to this day. A few years after Franklin’s state title, DuVall and his family moved into the Sherburne-Earlville school district – his alma mater – and soon, DuVall was assisting on the coaching staff under head coach Bim Palmer. Palmer has been an old friend of DuVall’s since the two wrestled together for S-E in the pee wee ranks. Palmer said earlier this week that DuVall would be retiring from coaching at the completion of his son’s high school wrestling career. I tip my cap to a dedicated man who has coached dozens and dozens of kids for nearly two decades, and has done it most of the time on a volunteer basis. Palmer said he’s keeping DuVall’s locker in the coaches’ room at the ready. You know, just in case DuVall gets the bug to coach again.

If ever there was a person who has defied time, it’s Bainbridge-Guilford’s Tim Mattingly. He’s one of those ageless wonders now in his mid-50s, and he looks almost exactly the same as when I met him 20 years ago. Mattingly, who has taught and coached at his alma mater for well over 30 years, will retire at the end of the school year.
I came to know Tim my first year on the job as the right-hand man to B-G girls varsity basketball coach Bob Conway. Conway has coached the Bobcats for 22 years, and Mattingly has been his junior varsity and assistant varsity coach every step of the way. Mattingly was also a junior varsity football coach, assistant varsity coach, and the past nine years, the varsity football coach at B-G. In recent years, Mattingly has led the varsity baseball program, and this spring will be his last as a varsity coach.
Tim has been friendly and accommodating from the day I met him, and I was happy to cover the athletic accomplishments of his two daughters Courtney and Ashley – the former perhaps the best local girls’ basketball player I have ever covered. Conway will certainly miss Mattingly’s presence on the bench. “He’s really been a co-coach,” Conway said. “We have the same mentality for the game and our expectations for the kids are the same.
“He’s just a great person, great with kids, and academically, he does a good job of teaching. He’s leaving a big hole to fill.”
Best wishes to Mattingly in retirement.

Follow me on Twitter @PatrickLNewell

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Feb. 19, 2015

As much as I would like, I can’t fit every good comment from a coach into a game story. Some coaches waver a little off topic or linger on individual play – or players – that digress too far from a game story. I often hoard these words of wisdom as potential blog material, and I’ve dubbed this fodder “quotable leftovers.”
Following Norwich’s thrilling 44-43 win over Horseheads Wednesday night, head coach Tom Collier, understandably, had a lot to say. (Actually, he always has a lot to say.)
It’s enjoyable to hear Tom regal the play of each guy who contributed to a win, and no player’s contribution is overlooked. Tom preaches a team approach to offense and defense, and in his four years as head coach, no player on his team has averaged better than 14.2 points a game. This season, the state-ranked Tornado do not have a player averaging more than 12 points a game.
Yet, Norwich has consistently remained one of the area’s highest scoring teams. Wednesday night, Collier devoted a lot of time to the efforts of sophomore Tre Bonham and senior Chris Trevisani. If you watched the second half, you saw Bonham bury the game-winning points; however, Trevisani didn’t budge from his seat on the bench except to cheer his teammates on or stand for a timeout.
In the first half, Trevisani did see a few key minutes, this after taking a DNP (did not play) in last Thursday’s loss to Oneonta.
Trevisani was summoned by the Tornado staff in the second quarter when the offense was languishing. Trevisani is a deadly outside shooter, and he ignited the crowd in his two- or three-minute stint. He had an open three that was just off the mark, but on his second shot attempt in he right corner, he swished a jump shot that gave Norwich late first-half momentum.
“The reality is that everyone wants to be a hero, but Chris is a role player for us, and he played that to perfection,” Collier said. “That was a big shot for us because it energized our bench. Chris’ number was called, and he delivered for us. He’s a great team player who is beloved by his teammates. Chris epitomizes what we are as a team.”
As for Bonham, the grind of 5:30 a.m. workouts and making 300 jump shots before school each day paid off. “Tre Bonham made the shot of the game for us,” Collier said. “You know what, there were some people who didn’t think he deserved to be with us (on the varsity). Nobody deserved that shot more than Tre. He’s a dedicated player, and he does what it takes to be a winner.”

Other Collier musings:

* “At one point in the game, we had all sophomores and juniors on the floor (against Horseheads), and they had all seniors on the floor. Our juniors scrapped and got us back in the game.”
* “We gave a speech at halftime about getting bullied in the first half (by Horseheads). What’s the best thing to do against a bully? Bully them back, and we did that in the second half.”
* “After losing to Oneonta last week, there was doubt in my mind whether this team was mentally and physically tough enough. We weren’t sure (as a coaching staff). We challenged the guys all week in practice, and they responded. It was a test of our character, and I couldn’t be more proud of our players.”

Follow me on Twitter @PatrickLNewell

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