Archive for September, 2010

Editor’s Notebook: 9/30/10

Thursday, September 30th, 2010
Jeff Genung

Newsflash: It’s raining. A lot. And in other news ….

• Brian Golden wrote a story today about a new city website,, that’s nearing completion. Paid for by part of the city’s $43,820 ARRA grant, it’s designed to inform residents about energy-saving opportunities. From all accounts, about $12,000 of that went into the development and future upkeep of the website. That would have bought a lot of those squiggly light bulb things, but that’s just my opinion. And while the site itself looks like it’s going to have a lot of great information, the graphic at the top resembles, as Brian was quick to point out, a tampon commercial.

• William Albrecht, the new District Executive of the Baden-Powell Council of the Boy Scouts of America, sent me a press release today about the scouts’ upcoming popcorn sale, coinciding with their 100th anniversary. I would have published the press release anyway, of course, but Mr. Albrecht sealed the deal by including samples of the popcorn – including some yummy caramel corn, which I promptly devoured. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am not ashamed to admit here that the press can be bought in Norwich – with food.

• In tomorrow’s paper, you’ll read the final installment of the “Cathy” comic strip by Cathy Guisewite, who’s retiring from the business after many successful years. On Monday, we’ll start running “Stone Soup” by Jan Eliot. I hope you like it, because I bought a year’s worth. I’m always a little nervous about messing with the comics page lineup – I know many have still not forgiven me for axing “Kit & Carlyle” back in ‘04. This one wasn’t my fault, folks!

• Kudos to Evening Sun photographer Frank Speziale for that great seasonal shot on West Hill in Norwich on today’s front page. We give Frank a lot of guff in the newsroom, but what would we do without him? I can’t help pointing out, Frank, that I’m pretty sure that was a blue heron in the photo, not a stork!

• My summer Fridays off are extending through October, so I won’t be on duty tomorrow. Disclaimer: Jeff Genung is not responsible for anything you see in the Friday, Oct. 1 edition.


Thursday, September 30th, 2010
Melissa Stagnaro

I tried to resist. I really did. But in the end, I bowed to peer pressure. I figured, everybody else is doing it, why not me?

That’s right. I tacked on a data plan to my already outrageous cell phone bill.

It wasn’t the need – or even the desire -to access the internet willy-nilly on my mobile device which lead me to this decision. No, I was seduced by a pretty little touch screen, slide out qwerty keyboard and the siren’s call of the “City Red” finish.

I know. I’m so fickle.

I hadn’t planned on being in the market for a new phone for another couple of months. I figured “old reliable,” as I liked to call my somewhat outdated flip phone, would be able to see me through until my contract expired in November. And it probably would have if I hadn’t dropped it rather unceremoniously on the asphalt a couple of weeks ago.

I’d dropped it plenty of times before with no ill effects, so initially I was unconcerned about its most recent encounter with the blacktop. But that’s before I realized a chunk was missing from its gaudy bronze veneer. Right at the hinge, which kind of destabilized the whole flip action thing.

Could I have lived with it? Yes, but I would have lived in fear that one day the whole flippy part would just fly off. And I would have had to continue to endure the daily phone calls from Verizon begging me to take advantage of their “new every 2” program. Which, I might add, had started to irk me almost as much as the incessant emails from a particular political candidate. One who, incidentally, will NOT be getting my vote in November as a result.

So Tuesday, during a lull, I paid a visit to the Verizon website, thinking I’d nosy around a bit. But then I saw her: a Samsung Reality in the aforementioned City Red.

It wasn’t the sleekest or newest of phones. But it was pretty. And free! (After the online discount, $50 rebate and 2 year contract extension, sure. Oh, yeah, and the whole data plan thing.)

You know what else was free? Overnight shipping! So a mere 24 hours later I had it in my hot little hands.

Now, I just have to figure out how to use it.

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa.

Editor’s Notebook: 9/29/10

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010
Jeff Genung

Here’s what’s happening in my world today …

• Actually this isn’t exactly my world, but I wish it was. That crazy anti-Muslim burial ground thing in Sidney? Nuts! I laughed my butt off at the clip from Keith Olbermann. “Sidney freaking New York” indeed! But yeah, it’s just over the border in Delaware County, and we don’t cover Sidney, I’m afraid. But we did run the Associated Press story on today’s front page. I’ve seen many a politician make a fool of him/herself over the years, but this guy takes the cake.

• In the same “I Sorta Wish That Happened Here” category, I was totally envious of the story about the “sexting” DA in Wisconsin. Come on, Mr. McBride! There aren’t any murder trials on the horizon in Chenango County, can’t you give me something to work with here?

• Congratulations to Tom Morrone, who celebrated 50 years at Christman Motors this month (we had a story in today’s edition). I know some may not agree with his politics, but I’ve always found him to be the very dictionary definition of “stand up guy.” And given the way car dealers seem to trade salesmen, 50 years in one place is a monumental accomplishment.

• Just when you thought it was safe to open the newspaper … it’s the return of The Evening Sun’s annual Ghastly Ghost Stories competition! Brian Golden gets us started with some inspiration in today’s edition.  (Karen Bergamo, if you’re reading this, I hold you responsible for this yearly treat!) This year we’ve hooked up with Lisa Mody of First Edition Bookstore to provide gift certificates for the winners in adult and youth categories. We’ll publish the winners and the “best of” in our Pumpkin Vine special section on Oct. 28, right before the Norwich Pumpkin Festival. You’ve got until Oct. 21 to enter! See the details in today’s paper or on our Facebook page.

My Best Friend

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010
Brian Golden

So the big news in the world of Brian Golden would today read something like this – man’s best friend gets engaged while on vacation in the Galapagos Island region.

I first met my best buddy Tozer during my latter years at NHS. We had several mutual friends, yet we never really connected until the topic of music popped up. He was already a good drummer in those days and throughout our nearly 20 year friendship we have pushed and prodded each other down our separate, though in many ways shared, musical paths. Our first jam however, remains firmly imbedded in my mind and is, by far, one of my favorite memories.

I was in my junior year at NHS when I found myself without a band for the first time since attending high school. I had recently departed a short-lived stint with my father, the Carpenter brothers and my dad’s cousin Tim. After a frustrating two weeks of contemplation – I had no idea where to go musically at this point – I convinced my father (a long-time bassist) to leave the band and join me for a proposed 3-piece ensemble which, I hoped, would include Tozer.

That following Monday, after a weekend of preparation with Dad as to what kind of music the band would be performing, I approached Tozer with the idea. I can’t remember his exact response but we agreed to spend our study hall period jamming in the high school auditorium, just to see if anything “clicked.”

After a humorous relocation of the school’s drum-set (there was a slight decline from the band room down to the auditorium in the music hallway back then, use your imagination) we were as ready as we could be, not really noticing that, for some reason, the curtains to the stage were closed.

What followed, in all likelihood, changed our two lives forever. With another best friend, Vischi, as witness, Tozer and I proceeded to blaze through a 30 to 45 minute jam inspired by the music of Hendrix, Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan and others of the blues-rock genre. It was all improvised, there were no words spoken, just two young high school musicians throwing caution to the wind and pushed to new limits by the other’s performance.

What we didn’t realize at the time – the approximately 100 fellow study hall students hanging out in the auditorium itself, forced there by the testing taking place in the cafeteria. We finished our little jam to the sound of this raucous group screaming, clapping and cheering. They had no idea who was behind the curtain making this music and it was obvious they didn’t care. We were flabbergasted to say the least and Happiness Hotel was born.

Since that day, Tozer and I have continued to seek perfection in our musical partnership. We’ve developed our own language in a way – Tozer instinctively knows where I’m going with the guitar, while at the same time, I know that he knows and vice versa. It’s the most amazing musical relationship I’ve ever experienced and we’ve been best friends ever since that day. It’s the most enduring friendship I’ve ever had.

So to Tozer and Renee, I couldn’t be happier about the engagement. The two of you are perfect for each other and I’m so excited for you. I’ve always known this day would come at some point or another and all I ask – don’t forget about your old friend and let’s set aside some time to jam. Good luck and I love you both.

Editor’s Notebook: 9/28/10

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010
Jeff Genung

From the unswept corners of my mind this windy Tuesday …

• Gloria Stuart, Academy Award-nominated actress of “Titanic” fame, is dead at age 100. Great. Now we’re gonna have to hear that damn Celine Dion song on every news show tonight.

• I don’t know what to say about the 15-year sentence handed down to Richard Babcock for killing Billy Lee that won’t already have been said in every grocery store and bar by the time you read this. I know the plea arrangement avoids a costly trial, but still … fifteen years hardly equals a life cut short by a bullet to the head.

• You say Tammaro, I say Tomorrow … let’s call the whole thing off.  BOCES reference, for those of you who are astute readers.

• On Tuesday afternoons, Tyler Murphy and I spend most of our time putting together the New Berlin Gazette, our weekly newspaper that serves the Unadilla and Butternut Valleys (although I’d be hard-pressed to find the Butternut Valley without a GPS). If you haven’t seen it, it’s a gem of a community newspaper with the old hometown feel. It’s jam-packed with pictures of kids, good news, a hefty dose of local history (shoutout to Facebook friend Peggy Finnegan!) and the “old lady” columns – who visited who for dinner, who had surgery, who’s getting married, all that gossipy stuff from the little towns. A weekly newspaper is a dying breed, but we’re happy to keep that tradition alive.

• Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, we run a column by NEA feature writer Sara Noel called “Frugal Living.” I’ve had a lot of response to it over the couple years we’ve been running it, from homemakers and others who appreciate her tips on how to stretch a buck. But one little tidbit in Wednesday’s column had me rolling my eyes …

USE FOR MILK JUG: Cut off part of the top, leaving the handle intact, and set under the spout in the bathtub. Capture water that would be wasted while adjusting the temp, and that which drains from the shower stand-pipe. Use it to flush the toilet. — Barbara B., e-mail

Or, how about you just %^& in the shower and save yourself the extra steps?

• Did I mention this blog is PG-13? Just seeing if anyone’s paying attention. Let the calls to “30 Seconds” begin!

Editor’s Notebook: 9/27/10

Monday, September 27th, 2010
Jeff Genung

Here’s what’s on my mind in The Evening Sun newsroom on this soggy Monday afternoon …

• From the online version of ‘30 Seconds:’

“Boy, there are almost no participants in the E.S. forums. Not shocked, but it makes me wonder why they don’t get better help at E.S. I guess everyone took the advice of the handful of fans that said, Don’t like it? Don’t look. hahaha”

Woman from Outside Chenango

Yeah, why don’t they get better help!?!

Obviously “Woman” has a bit of an axe to grind — but the online forum does, in fact, see a great deal of activity. Still, I would like to see more people participating. It can get frustrating to moderate, too, but it’s a better discourse than anything in ‘30 Seconds,’ in my humble opinion. Oh, and “Woman?” I’ve got your IP address. hahaha.

• Speaking of Facebook (not that I was, but I felt the need for a segue), you can see all of Frank Speziale’s photos from the Norwich Homecoming parade in a gallery there. If you haven’t checked it out, visit There’s some cool stuff there you won’t see in print, or on our “regular” website. Not on Facebook at all, you say? Oh please, like anyone who’s reading this blog isn’t on Facebook, Jeff. Or, more specifically, isn’t already your “friend” on Facebook.

• By the way, if you’d like a high-res copy of Frank’s homecoming court photo, just e-mail me … I’ll send you a digital copy, out of the goodness of my heart. You can take it to Rite-Aid yourself to get it printed out. Let’s not get carried away.

• So I have to admit I laughed at Tyler Murphy’s story last week touting the Norwich Police Department’s collection of expired or otherwise unwanted prescription drugs on Saturday. Who the heck is gonna do that, I asked incredulously. Apparently, a lot of people. Tyler reports in today’s edition that Norwich’s haul was double that of Utica (not sure what that says about our dependence on prescription meds in Norwich, but that’s another story). In conjunction with the DEA, I guess the Norwich police took in quite load of expired booty. Good for them, and for the good citizens who disposed of the drugs legally and responsibly.

• E-mail of the Day: Did you know that Wednesday, Oct. 6 is International Walk to School Day? According to the press release I got today, the purpose of the event is to “further promote, through education and fun, pedestrian safety and healthy and physically fit lifestyles. According to event organizers, despite on-going efforts to better protect child pedestrians, child pedestrian injury remains the second leading cause of unintentional injury related death among children ages 5-14 in the United States.” Soooo … we’re encouraging more kids to walk to school that day? I think I’d bury that statistic further down in the press release, folks.

In memory of a great man

Monday, September 27th, 2010
Melissa Stagnaro

My uncle, Richard Lopresti, passed away this morning. Even before my conscious mind could make sense of the words, the world came crashing down and a gulf opened up in my heart the size of Texas.

Although comparing it to the size of Brooklyn would be more appropriate, since it was on 78th street in that fair New York borough where the Lopresti’s and the Farrell’s lived next door to one another. And, where my Uncle Rich and Aunt Maureen met and fell in love.

They married a few months after my own parents, their union serving to solidify the enduring bonds between the two families. They’re own bond never wavered. On the 5th of this month, they celebrated their 51st wedding anniversary.

This milestone was less an occasion for celebration than it should have been, overshadowed as it was by Uncle Rich’s third bout with cancer.

These last few months have been so hard, not only on him, but for my Aunt Maureen and their two children, my cousins Barbara and “Little” Richie.

Hospice was called in about a week and a half ago, so I knew it was only a matter of time. I guess you could say it was merciful that he went quickly, because he had suffered so. More than anyone as good and kind and wonderful should ever have to suffer. He truly was the most patient, kind-hearted soul I’ve ever had the fortune to meet.

Even the knowledge that he is no longer suffering, that he is finally at peace, can’t ease this awful ache in my chest. I guess I thought we’d have more time with him.

I was wrong, of course. Because this morning he was called home. With his passing, a wonderful light has left this world.

Aunt Maureen, Barbara, Richie and family – my heart and my thoughts are with you on this day, and the difficult days ahead.

Uncle Rich, you will be so greatly missed. Rest in peace.

May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord make his face to shine upon you,
and be gracious to you.
May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you,
and give you peace.

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa.

Ask, tell.

Friday, September 24th, 2010
Tyler Murphy

Republicans in the senate succeeded in delaying a vote on repealing the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy of the United States military this week.

My question is why are so many Republicans against being gay? (at least publicly) So they can score votes from their support bases?

From marriage to serving their country the attitude towards the entire homosexual community and their rights is now being burdened with the weight of polarizing politics on the eve of a competitive election season. The unfortunate and unfair result is that a large base of political supporters, conservatives generally, are becoming fiercely biased toward any concessions to these issues.

I don’t get it.

My first basic understanding of modern freedom: Our society was formed upon the assumption that people are free to pursue their own beliefs so long as those paths do not obstruct the rights of others. Basically we’re free to do what we wish unless those actions handicap another person’s right to do the same.

These philosophies are applied to many diverse groups in many areas.

I can burn the flag even if it offends people and it doesn’t infringe on their rights to respect it. You can worship anything you wish from Zeus, Christ, Muhammad and science so long as those followings don’t hinder others to do the same. We can marry who we wish outside of our race, class or cultural beliefs.

I’m a person who has always been suspicious of why exactly government ever got into regulating love (marriage) to begin with. I think government has absolutely no right in managing marriage, it is after all a religious practice. Our country’s modern interpretation for the last couple centuries has been based on strict Christian traditions. Again, I’m still not sure why a particular religious belief has been made into an official government policy- probably because of religious lobbyists pushing their own agenda. Some things never change.

Today, right wing religious organizations are the main driving forces behind the ban of gay marriage and gay rights. Their support is drawn from areas of the country that are mainly republican. More than right and wrong, political geography has put the party at odds with the Democrats on the issue.

Let’s make this clear. I respect religious beliefs but when they begin to hinder other people’s rights I’m appalled. I do not care that someone’s god thinks I shouldn’t marry a certain person, I care far less what a mere mortal follower may think. It’s not my god, not my belief so why must I be restricted by them, as many homosexuals are forced to in states with laws against gay marriage and the federal military ban.

People also say it’s the status quo of American culture, that the institution of marriage represents a developed American value as much as it does anything else. Yeah, those arguments are always made during times of civic change, usually by people fighting on the opposite side of civic justice. If things never changed we’d still be an aristocratic white male dominated society built on ethnic slavery. Change is good and the bottom line is there is no grand impact on the rest of us by having a minority group make a separate sexual preference.

A homosexual can pull a trigger just as well as a straight person; they feel love and loss the same way.

Oppositions to these issues are as much about their opponents’ beliefs as they are about homosexual’s.

Some have said having homosexuals in the military will cause security risks. No, wait, actually our policy says you can be gay in the military but telling people you are is a security risk. That I can believe.

I’m going to guess that in the isolated, macho, military culture the individual stepping out of the closet may be in more danger from scrutiny of his peers more than anything else.

We have Muslims, immigrants, white, black, male, female, and all things between openly serving our country. Homosexuals are only allowed to fire or take a bullet so long as they don’t express their own identities? Dumb.

Many other countries have gays serving openly, including the U.K., and they have recorded no such increase in any physical risks, only political ones. A soldier’s moral may be hurt, but it will only harm those people who are unwilling to adapt and accept differences.

I think others might find America’s embracing of diversity as a moral boost, knowing that they’re serving a country who respects people in all walks of life.

Editor’s Notebook: 9/23/10

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010
Jeff Genung

Here’s what’s happening in The Evening Sun newsroom today …

• I know that a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist speaking in Norwich and the sale of the long-vacant Elmer’s Glue plant in Bainbridge are important stories, but let’s face it, the REAL news today is that Norwich’s Pizza Hut is expanding! Tomorrow’s follow-up: Corresponding expansion in waistlines throughout Chenango County.

• Congratulations to Jon Rogers, who’s been named the new Dean of Students at Oxford Academy — although I find that a little hard to believe, because Jon was only a year or so behind me in school, and I’m only 25.

• Melissa Stagnaro wrote a touching column about her uncle and his fight against cancer in today’s edition. Normally I frown upon her newsroom sobbing, but in this case it was justified – and worth the effort.

• Did you know that it takes me approximately 25 minutes every other Thursday to download the next two weeks’ batch of comics from four different websites? See all the fascinating little tidbits you’ll learn from reading this blog every day?

• E-mail of the Day: From Mio Destino, of lingerie fame, apparently, subject line: “How to Look Great in a Corset.” Honey, I can’t even manage a bustier.

• I’m taking Friday off again, leaving Pat Newell as your cruise director for tomorrow’s edition. I’ve warned him, though, not to repeat last Friday’s “HOLY COW! NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST IMMINENT! RUN FOR THE HILLS!”-style headline on a story that, well, wasn’t all that exciting to begin with. You readers, I’ve learned over the years, are not easily fooled by such theatrics.

• And seeing as how I’m on vacation tomorrow, I won’t be filing an “Editor’s Notebook” — although Melissa Stagnaro has threatened to do it in my stead. Another pretender to the throne …

Editor’s Notebook: 9/22/10

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010
Jeff Genung

In The Evening Sun newsroom today …

• Finished up our “Time of Your Life” special section, which will be inserted in Thursday’s edition. It’s a 12-pager full of good-to-knows for senior citizens, and those who love them.

• This one time, at band camp … I think I finally found the right reporter to cover the Norwich Purple Tornado Band. Brian Golden is a band geek from way back. Trained under the legendary Don Burke, I think he’s got just what it takes to give good coverage to the Norwich troupe, currently under the direction of Lansing Dimon. And since I merely pushed the amplifier for our electric bass player (in Oxford), and he was the guitar player, I suppose that makes him a skitch cooler than me. If, of course, one can measure coolness when it comes to marching bands.

• Interesting story from Melissa deCordova today on how our county leaders aren’t quite ready to give up on Cook Park in Greene. It’s been something of an albatross for the county for a few years, but recent efforts seem to have perked things up. (Insert shout-out to my Facebook friend, Julie Gates). I’m sad to say I’ve never been down there myself. Even sadder, I suppose, I’ve never been camping at all.

• The Norwich City PD wants us all to bring in our expired prescription medications on Saturday and exchange them for … oh wait, they’re not exchanging them at all. Bummer. Almost had me going there for a minute.

• E-mail of the Day: From a New York State Trooper, the subject line of which was “Test.” The body? “DO NOT RESPOND.” Yes Ma’am!

• Got an excellent Letter to the Editor today from David Older about the recent hijinks at the Norwich City Schools Board of Education. Older ran for the board last spring and lost – I can’t help thinking that we let a good one get away. Hopefully he’ll take another shot at it – his criticisms were spot-on. Look for his letter later this week.