Archive for October, 2008

Halloween excuses

Friday, October 31st, 2008
Tyler Murphy

I need to find an excuse to go trick or treating. Ever since yesterday afternoon I’ve been trying to scheme my way into the holiday. The motivation of course is free candy. A grown adult meandering around the streets collecting candy from residents might seem odd.

What I usually do is pretend I’m doing it “for the kids” and chaperone the borrowed offspring of a friend or family member. However I’ve hit a snag and I’m lacking in available children, must be the parents have become more involved this year which is completely inconsiderate of my candy collecting.

Maybe I could just tag along with a random crowd of tick of treaters and just pretend I’m part of group… hmm that seems too creepy.

My friends sometime ask me why I just don’t but a bag of miniature candy bars and save myself the trouble, obviously they don’t get that life is about the pursuit just as much as the goal. The taste of satisfaction can’t be found in a purchase at Wal-Mart, now can it?

Besides the best part of Halloween is dressing up. In the morning it’s OK to walk around dressed up but after work I need another excuse to stay in character otherwise I’m just some weirdo walking around in costume without any place to go.

Imagine the trip to Wal-Mart being the highlight of my evening debut. The cashier might even remark on my outfit. “Hey man nice costume, you going to a party tonight?” “Nah man I’m doing it just for me, I’m going to go home and watch Spike’s Friday the 13th marathon until 2 a.m. in the morning.”

The way to my heart is with exceptional customer service

Thursday, October 30th, 2008
Melissa Stagnaro

I stop every morning to pick up the papers on my way to work. This morning was no exception.

I was still groggy when pulled in to Byrne Dairy at about 6:20 a.m., but on a mission to get the papers before rushing in to the office to finish my column before my 7:30 deadline. I ran inside, got the merchandise and gave the clerk my customary good morning nod and scuttled back to my car.

I failed to realize that the squishy object I’d felt under my heel when getting back into my chariot, wasn’t slush like I’d assumed. It had been my gloves, which had fallen to the ground when I’d exited the vehicle. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice they were gone until I got to the office.

I know you’re probably thinking, “What’s the big deal? They’re just a pair of gloves.” But I couldn’t write them off that easily. They had faithfully kept my poor little digits warm through a lot of inclement weather, both here and in Colorado.

With my deadline looming, I knew I didn’t have time to race back over there. While I go there often, I’m not on a first name basis with any of the staff. And they are always swamped in the morning. So it was without much hope that I called the store.

Diane answered the phone. She promised to look in the parking lot for the misplaced gloves and keep them for me if her search was successful. And she kept her word! I finally broke away long enough to retrieve the gloves at around 9:30 a.m.

Maybe it seems like a little thing, but Diane recognized that the gloves were important to me. And she went out of her way to retrieve them.

She didn’t have to. She could have easily said they weren’t there. But she was true to her word, finding time in the morning rush to venture out in the cold, pre-dawn darkness to hunt around in the parking lot for my little pair of lost mitts.

And I hope she knows that I really, really appreciated it.

Because of that, I will always buy my morning paper at Byrne Dairy. Tomorrow morning, I may even get a coffee. And if you happen in when Diane is working, please tell her I said “Thank You.”

Pidgeon name looms large in Norwich defeat

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008
Patrick Newell

The Pidgeon name, long ago a integral force in Oneonta victories over Norwich football, surfaced again last Friday. No surprise, the link is a familial one.
Tim Pidgeon, a fearsome running back and linebacker for the Yellowjackets in the early 1980s, had a big hand in a two-touchdown victory on a mud-raked Oneonta home field in 1982.
It was a matchup between two top-notch STAC teams, and each club had his own star. Pidgeon for the Yellowjackets, and Barry Benjamin of Norwich. Benjamin, who rushed for back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, was hampered by a slick field that dulled his sharp cuts, and a pursuing defense that keyed on his every turn.
Pidgeon, meanwhile, with a straight-ahead running style, churned away at the Norwich defense with tough inside running.
Fast forward to 2008. Pidgeon’s son, Brendan, while not a spitting image of his father, looks quite similar once the pads and helmet are on. He was relentless on defense in tracking down NHS runners, and on offense, he gained all of the tough yards, while also showing breakaway speed with two TDs of over 50 yards.
When the clock ran out, Pidgeon’s final game on Oneonta’s home field, he had an elusive victory. “I’ve never beaten Norwich on the varsity level,” he said. “And it feels great.”

The Pumpkin Festival curse

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008
Jessica Lewis

What’s wrong with Pumpkin Fest? It never fails. Every year, the volunteers work and work and work hoping for a great event and a great weekend. Every year local kids get excited and start carving their pumpkins at school and at home to bring down to the festival, and every year we end up getting some freakishly horrible weather that puts a damper (no pun intended) on the entire event.

Despite the weather, I attended the Pumpkin Festival on Saturday, and I had a pretty good time, but I know it would have been a lot better if I wasn’t running from tent to tent trying to keep myself and my companions out of the rain. You try to hold an umbrella and push a stroller at the same time. It isn’t easy, but I’m sure it was much worse for the people who have spent months coordinating the event.

I feel bad for the volunteers and organizers who spend so much time planning and preparing for Pumpkin Fest only to have bad weather keep people from supporting the event.

I haven’t attended all of the Pumpkin Festivals, but since I’ve been on staff at The Evening Sun, the weather at the Pumpkin Festival has been pretty bad, and I’ve heard that the bad weather at the Pumpkin Festival has been a factor nearly every year. It makes you wonder. Is it just bad luck that in 10 years, we haven’t had more than one or two years with nice sunny weather for the event? Is it just too late in the fall for good weather?

I’m really not sure myself, but if the next 10 years of the Pumpkin Festival average the same amount of rain or snow or both during the annual festival, I might start to think our event is cursed.

Identity Crisis

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008
Melissa Stagnaro

Like many, I am caught between the numerous boundary lines which seem to criss-cross the Chenango County map with no apparent rhyme or reason.

Technically, I live in the Town of Smithville. But if you ask me where I’m from, that’s probably not how I will respond. My address is Greene, so sometimes that name will come out of my mouth when the question is posed. But most often, I say I’m from Oxford. Why? Because that is where I went to school.

Near and dear to my heart, is the Middle School, where I spent grades four through eight. Since I graduated, it has remained a symbol of learning to me. And I have always felt a connection with the countless students that have been educated in those hallowed halls in its long history.

In my years as a student, Oxford was by no means a wealthy district, but we were always rich in history. The fact that Oxford Academy was one of the first chartered academies west of the Hudson River has long been a source of community pride. And now that heritage, that pride, is being threatened. And not by an outside force, but the very school board and administration itself.

I had, of course, heard rumors that plans were in the works to discontinue use of that stately building as an institution of learning. And while I knew that discussions were under way about a potential building project, I wrote off much of the gossip I encountered as just that.

So it was quite the shock when the first words I heard when I entered last night’s school board workshop were “demolition” and “Academy building” used in the same sentence. I know, I know. They are not discussing tearing the whole thing down. Just one wing. It’s still a desecration.

Oxford Academy’s class of 1993, of which I am proud to be a part, was not a close knit group. If the truth be told, we could barely stand one another. Yet we were also fiercely competitive and always came together when challenged. The only thing we managed to do as a team was win Spirit Week all four years we were in the High School. This was no small feet. We were one of only a hand full of freshman classes to succeed in this coup of the upper classes and the first class in the school’s history to manage it four years running.

It is this same spirit that many in the community feel regarding what they see as a threat to the historic Middle School building. I hope they will get out and show that spirit, and use their combined voice, at the next school board meeting on November 10.

A Tribute to Martial Arts Morality

Friday, October 24th, 2008
Tyler Murphy

For my punching the clock this week I contacted my high school martial arts teacher Ron Lewis and spent the day attending classes at his new facility, Tribute Martial Arts on Hale Street in Norwich.

I’m standing in the adult class room at around 7 p.m. Thursday night doing exercises with about 10 local teenagers after spending the day reporting on youths tipping headstones and breaking into homes. I would think that their parents must sleep much more soundly having their kids involved in such a program.

There are few things in my experience that have so overtly taught a person discipline, honor, patients and perseverance. To truly pursue Tae Kwon Do or any Martial Art they are demanded and essential to success.

The five tenets of Tae Kwon Do are as follows and must be memorized by an advancing student who may find themselves pop quizzed on the material anytime during class often while in the throes of physical exertion. In light of the recent teen debauchery I thought it meant be nice to post them.

Courtesy
An act of behavioral attitude in which politeness and consideration are primary factors. It is being thoughtful of the rights and feelings of others with words of approval and encouragement.

Integrity

Being sound or unified with one’s self and others. A firm adherence to a code of moral or artistic value. Responsibility, sincerity and honor are hallmarks to a person with strong integrity. An attitude of unselfishness towards others and being conscientious of ones choices and deeds.

Perseverance

Ability to continue an undertaking in spite of difficulty, opposition or discouragement. The patience and stamina to secure an aim or purpose through persistence and firmness.

Self-control
Master one’s emotions, impulses and desires. Dominating your own temper to remain in control of your actions to ensure a clear line of thought and objectivity.

Indomitable Spirit
An incapability of being subdued physically or mentally. It is the unconquerable vivacity, courage and enthusiasm of one’s self.

Public Meetings

Friday, October 24th, 2008
Melissa Stagnaro

I go to a lot of meetings every week. This one was no exception. In the first half alone, I attended the NYRI public statement hearings in Hamilton, the Norwich City School Board and the heated Town of Guilford public meeting on Wednesday night.

Most of the time, I find these meetings interesting. Not just from a news-worthiness standpoint, but also as an opportunity to observe people in these different settings.
Sometimes, I am privileged enough to witness amazing examples of cooperation and community. Other times, It feels like its feeding time at the zoo.

The NYRI meeting was an example of the former, Guilford the latter.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the NYRI meeting. I had heard tales of the last public forum, held in Norwich a couple of years ago, that got a little out of hand. I was suitably impressed, however, by those present. Around 50 residents took their turn before the mic, presenting eloquent and informed arguments against the powerline that threatens to bisect their communities. Most had done their research on the potential impacts of the project. All spoke with undeniable passion and emotion.

Guilford was a free-for-all in comparison. One woman didn’t even wait for the meeting to be called to order before throwing insults and accusations at the town’s board. Her attacks were personal in nature. She repeatedly called one planning board member, who wasn’t even present, a “nazi-lover.”

I watched Chris Thompson, president of NYRI, and his legal council endure the barrage of comments against their project without barely batting an eye lash. Guilford’s elected officials had more difficulty keeping their composure through Wednesday’s proceedings. And it’s no wonder. For Thompson, it was strangers criticizing a business project. In Guilford, it was personal attacks made by their neighbors.

The hostility did nothing to sway the decision of Guilford’s board, who went on to pass the controversial law abolishing the three member board of assessors. It will be interesting to see if the more eloquent arguments of NYRI’s opposition will be more influential with the Public Service Commission.

Arrested Elderly victim

Friday, October 24th, 2008
Tyler Murphy

So after three weeks of head banging the county has finally found an appropriate place to house an 85-year-old man suffering from dementia.

Kudos to Sheriff Thomas J. Loughren who took a personal role in the case in the wake of public outrage. Credit to the Department of Social Services for finding a home to temporarily accept the victim of this incident. And I believe him to be a victim.

I say shame on Chase Nursing Home for placing their responsibilities on the system but even more offending is that their tactics required them to have a mentally ill resident, under their care, arrested and tossed into jail. I normally wouldn’t be so hasty to lay this kind of blame but ever since the case was brought to public attention I’ve received constant criticisms directed toward the home from a number of mental and elderly care representatives I’ve spoken with in the case.

I doubt there will be any similar incidents in the future after all the negative attention and criticism brought to the county and the home. I also think the public deserves a portion of the credit in making this a concern that undoubtedly touches many local families in area.

Childish behavior?

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008
Jessica Lewis

Yesterday, I attended a meeting on municipal shared services and consolidation, and at the end of the day the thing that stuck out in my mind was the ridiculous us vs. them attitude that many municipal leaders across the state seem to have.
The workshop was help to discuss the Local Government Efficiency Grant Program, a program that encourages municipalities to work together and even consider consolidation to decrease taxes and taxing entities in New York state. The state recommended that the City of Norwich, the Town of Norwich and the Town of North Norwich look into shared services and maybe even an eventual merger, but so far, the level of cooperation needed to achieve that has not been reached.

I discovered yesterday, that Chenango County isn’t unique in taking a less than open minded view of the suggestion. In fact, several of the speakers at the workshop referred to municipal leaders as being “turf oriented” and viewing the program as a potential grab for power.

One speaker’s solution to that problem was to keep the politicians away from the table. He suggested having staff members study the benefits and risks of a possible move, trying to anticipate the officials concerns and delivering something to them that showed the possible risks and savings in black and white.

I admit, after seeing the opposition to even the idea of studying consolidation efforts in Chenango County, I thought maybe the speaker was on to something, but at the same time I couldn’t help but be saddened by that fact. Elected officials are expected to make decisions based on the best interests of their constituents, and turf oriented, power struggles are in no one’s best interest. Refusing to investigate possible benefits and savings to the tax payers is in no one’s best interest. If an elected official has valid reasons and evidence to back it up why shared services, merging departments or consolidation is a bad idea, great, but if they’re refusing to even look at the possibility because of some childish struggle for power, they are no longer looking out for the best interests of their constituents.

The Art of Napping

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008
Melissa Stagnaro

This has just been one of those weeks for me. Monday was a bit of a nightmare between seeing Mr. Fong appear in Oxford and spending 4 hours of quality time in Hamilton for the NYRI meetings. And I had more of the same to look forward to between Tuesday’s school board meeting in Norwich and Wednesday’s public meeting in Guilford. I am living proof that a succession of late nights and early mornings don’t make a girl healthy, wealthy and wise. They make her sleep deprived.

When the opportunity presented itself yesterday to run home for a couple of hours before the Norwich City School board meeting, I jumped at it. The call of a warm throw and hypo-allergenic pillow was too strong to resist. I was definitely taking a nap.

When done properly, a nap can refresh the spirit as well as the mind and body. They are precious and the opportunity should be cherished whenever possible.

I had never before realized, however, that napping can be elusive to those who don’t practice the art often enough. I learned the hard way that it had been far, far too long since I’d practiced those skills.

After much contemplation (I had nothing better to do since I couldn’t nap successfully), I realized that my problem was I had gone about it all wrong.

Napping is something that we have a real knack for as a child. In fact, we protest greatly when this privilege is revoked.

I found naps invaluable in college as well, when I made a somewhat ill-advised decision to join the crew team. Practices were held at an un-godly hour of the morning and frequent cat naps were required to maintain my hectic academic and social schedule.

I’ve come to realize that the best naps are ones that just sort of happen, without a lot of forethought. And when they are, in fact, planned certain attention must be paid to staging the scene so that it still feels spontaneous.

Some practitioners of the art are quite satisfied to nap sitting in a chair, but I much prefer to be horizontal. The living room sofa, or my bed, suit my needs just fine. But don’t make the mistake of getting under the covers, no matter how inviting they might be.  It is a cozy blanket or throw that is required.

I find television a distraction in a good nap. So I usually choose a good book. Well, not too good, or that could conspire to defeat your efforts as well.

I usually have a cup of tea handy, which I never drink. It just feels right sitting nearby on a bedside or coffee table.

Company is sometimes needed to reap the full benefits of a nap. My cat usually jumps at the chance to curl up with me. Well, she does once she gets over her dismay at having to disturb her own nap to meet my needs. No cat? Substitute a dog, small child or hot water bottle.

A napping challenge for me has always been the pressure to wake up at a certain time. I tend to clock-watch obsessively. Where, oh where, are those wake-up fairies when you need one.

Now, you’ll have to excuse me. All this talk of naps has put me rather in the mood for one.