Archive for October, 2010

Sport Editor’s Playbook, Thursday, Oct. 14

Thursday, October 14th, 2010
Patrick Newell

As busy as my local sports schedule was on Wednesday night (plus attending a game), I didn’t have the opportunity to call all of the football coaches. Hard to believe we’re in the last third of the local football season, and some sports teams such as girls’ tennis have finished the regular season or are finishing this week. The grid preview this week looks at the area team’s playoff possibilities, and five of the six teams are still entertaining playoff hopes.

– As someone who played four years of high school varsity golf, I am partial to the Norwich results, and Wednesday, head coach Bob Branham happily reported that his team clinched the STAC Central Division title. It’s the first title for Norwich since the late-’90s, and the consistent scoring for Norwich this season is as good as I can remember. Other than a couple early-season road matches on the made-to-score-well courses, Genegantslet and Ely Park’s par-34 nine, Norwich has steadily produced totals in the 200 to 210 range. A 214 at the difficult Conklin Players Club clinched the division, although that respectable score is one the highest for NHS this season – and even that is not sum is all bad. Just two or three years ago, Branham would have gladly taken that team score as the current crop of veteran players were mere youngsters. Eric Walling and Jacob Kelly have provided steady low scores throughout the season, and are already medalist tournament qualifiers. Frankie Somich clinched a medalist tournament spot as well on Thursday after Norwich added to its win total, and with 13 victories, matched the highest total by a Branham-coached team.

– Last year, Greg DuVall went unbeaten during the regular season in wrestling and was named Athlete of the Week. A few months later, DuVall is again our athlete of the week, only in a different sport. Check out that story in Friday’s edition.

– Greene’s field hockey team went 20-0 last year, and had a ridiculous advantage over the opposition in goals scored versus goals given up. It was something like 76 goals for and only four against. This season, the Trojans are on a similar pace with around 50 goals scored and only two allowed. For those keeping track, Greene also has a 32-game winning streak.

Editor’s Notebook: 10/14/10

Thursday, October 14th, 2010
Jeff Genung

Another dreary afternoon here in Norwich, but at least I’ve got St. Bart’s spaghetti supper to look forward to later!

• The Chenango County Health Department reports that a raccoon found on Wells Road in Norwich tested positive for rabies. That’s pretty serious stuff; watch out. I’m sorry if the stock photo of the raccoon I used on the front page made it seem any less serious; I assure you that is not the raccoon in question. But check out the full version on the website if you really want a laugh … he’s got a scary little paw and he’s not afraid to use it!

• So the Town of Sidney has chosen not to disrupt the Muslim graves after all. Good choice. We all know what happens when you disrupt a graveyard – and you can’t even call in Zelda Rubinstein anymore. Because, well, she’s dead and all.

• I’m all for planning ahead. Whenever anyone asks me how far in advance they should send in a press release or a notice of an upcoming event, I always say “the sooner the better.” Requests for space in the newspaper fill up quickly, and I do my best to make sure everything gets published in a timely manner. But I suppose I should qualify that statement. Today we received an e-mail from a PR wag announcing a fundraiser … in April 2011! Nobody around here plans that far in advance, hon. A couple weeks in advance will do just fine.

• I’m continually amazed at some people’s perception that “30 Seconds” is the modern-day Oracle at Delphi. Sure, it’s a great place to vent your frustrations and air your views about politics, scooters, welfare and, this week, milk. But those who submit questions apparently hoping for legitimate answers make me scratch my head. Have you never read this column before? All you’re going to get are snarky answers and snide remarks. I’m afraid we’ve created a veritable monster here in that for some people, submitting a ‘30 Seconds’ is their first recourse, rather than last. If you have a question, go directly to the source first!

• And with that, dear readers, I am outta here. Two more Fridays after this, and my “summer vacation” is officially over. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.

An exercise in creative writing

Thursday, October 14th, 2010
Melissa Stagnaro

When people hear I’m a writer, they almost instantly assume I mean of the fiction variety. But that’s never really been my forte. Sure I wrote my share of stories when I was a school kid. I always loved creative writing exercises. As I got older, I started concentrated more on essays, articles and, on occasion, poetry.

From time to time, I toyed with the idea of trying my hand at fiction. Who hasn’t, after all. But as for aspiring to write the Great American Novel? Not high on my list.

Which is why it was something of a stretch for me to sit down to write a Ghastly Ghost Story. I literally agonized over it for hours – easily 5 times as long as I would normally have spent on a piece of that length. It was a little slow going in the beginning, when I was working on developing the idea itself. I was definitely kicking myself for volunteering the ES crew for the task. (Oops, I don’t think I ever admitted to my coworkers that it was my idea. Sorry, guys.)

But once my creative juices started flowing, I totally got into it. A little too much, apparently, considering my first draft was about 600 words over our limit of 1,500.

Normally I don’t mind editing my work. I actually like the process of  cleaning and tightening things up, putting a pretty little polish on it all. This, however, was particularly painful. I had to take out all the good stuff – the snarky dialog and colorful descriptives – in order to deliver my plot in the specified word count.

I was pretty happy with the result, being that it was my first foray into fiction. But I was entirely unprepared for how anxious I’d be to see it published.

Now, in my 2 plus years at The Evening Sun, at least a 1,000 articles, briefs, columns and blogs have appeared in print or online under my by-line. Not one of them – or any of the magazine articles I have to my credit – gave me as much angst as this ghastly little ghost story.

The only other time I’ve ever gotten so nervous about my writing is during a poetry reading.

Ridiculous, I know.

Perhaps I was worried it would reveal about my penchant for urban fantasy novels or my addiction to the series “Charmed.” (I’m a reformed addict, really. I no longer watch reruns of the show obsessively, having switched my allegiance to NCIS, but I do follow @Alyssa_Milano on Twitter. She rocks.)

Of course, it’s all moot now. It’s out there in the ether for all to read. So far I haven’t gotten too much ridicule, thankfully. But then, my brother Dennis hasn’t gotten his hands on it yet. (He takes his role as critic VERY seriously.)

I hope people enjoyed it, of course, but it’s not like I was expecting to land a book deal out of it. (Not that I’d, ahem, turn one down or anything). No, the purpose of my little fiction-writing exercise was to encourage, or perhaps even inspire, others to do the same for our Ghastly Ghost Story competition. The deadline for which is fast approaching. Don’t miss out on the ghoulishly good fun!

For details on the Ghastly Ghost Story contest, and to read my story, “Fisher House,” visit

Happy Haunting!

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa.

Editor’s Notebook: 10/13/10

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010
Jeff Genung

Is it wrong that every time I see images from Chile, all I can think of is “We’re Sending Our Love Down The Well?”

• The Colonia is starting a “Classic Movie Night” on Wednesdays. That’s a great idea, I think. Hope it catches on. Hey Mr. Morse, can I put in my request for “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” now?

• The Rogers family is turning a stretch of land in Plymouth into “Haunted Hill” for the seventh year in a row this weekend. I’ve never been, but that’s probably because I’m still scarred from the United Church of Oxford’s Haunted House circa 1978.

• Got a call yesterday from my old colleague Shana Jaycox, who told me that her brother, Norwich’s Michael Squires, is a finalist in The Washington Post’s “America’s Next Great Pundit” contest. I put up the link to vote for him on our Facebook page yesterday, and Melissa Stagnaro wrote a great story on him today. Get on there and vote, readers! Would be nice to see a hometown boy win a national honor. And even if you don’t, Mr. Squires, give me a call – I know a guy who runs a newspaper.

• Speaking of contests, have you entered your Ghastly Ghost Story yet? Our annual Halloween contest is accepting entries through Oct. 21 – selected stories (and prize winners) will be published in our special pre-Pumpkin Festival section, The Pumpkin Vine, on Oct. 28. To get things started, each of my staff members has penned their own spooky tale. Read Melissa Stagnaro’s here.

What’s in a name?

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010
Brian Golden

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked about the origins of the names of the various musical groups I’ve performed with over the last two decades. In my book, naming a band is kind of like assigning it an identity and it’s no surprise that, over time, popular bands in every musical genre develop into individual entities. For example, guitarist and songwriter Jerry Garcia allegedly hated the name The Grateful Dead. Yet now, after four-plus decades, that name is part of our social consciousness. When I hear a GD tune such as “Scarlet Begonias,” “Ripple” or “Friend of the Devil” it immediately conjures up images, memories and emotions from my past experiences.

Therefore, I thought it would be kind of cool to go through the different ensembles I’ve performed with over the years, in chronological order, and relate the stories behind their various appellations.

Happiness Hotel
While not the first I ever played in, this band was, in many ways, where I began to fine-tune my vocal and guitar abilities. Comprised of myself, my best friend Tozer on drums and my father on the bass guitar, Happiness Hotel was a reference to Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem, of Muppet Show fame, and the dilapidated hotel where the muppets spend some time during Jim Henson’s classic The Great Muppet Caper. Known best for our unique rendition of Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love” segued into Hendrix’s “Third Stone From the Sun,” the band played a wide variety of modern (at the time) and classic rock, including covers by artists such as Tom Petty, Pearl Jam, Neil Young, Green Day (yes, Green Day), Hootie & the Blowfish (I can’t believe I just admitted to that), Collective Soul, Van Morrison and the aforementioned Cream and Hendrix.

Lunar Stew
Featuring myself, high school and college buddy Bill Frank on bass, Tozer and, originally, Vischi on keyboards (he soon left the band to join the Army – without telling us), Lunar Stew was our all-original college jam band, formed in early 1996 while Bill and I were attending Ithaca College. If I remember correctly, I wanted the word stew in the band’s name due to the many different musical styles the group experimented with, namely blues, jazz and rock. Bill came up with the “lunar” part thanks to a computer game he played back in high school which mentioned something about “lunar dew,” if I remember correctly. My memories of this band always revolve around the summer of 1996, one of the most prolific songwriting periods of my life and one which I will never forget. What an amazing summer that was. People who remember this band might recall several of our favorite – “No More Rolling Home,” “The Big Nothing,” “Sneaky Raccoon” and “That Damn Spot” among others.

Fools at Play
Following our return from Vermont, where we had attempted to put together “the band that would take us all the way,” good friend Bosworth (also on guitar) and I formed Fools at Play with Vischi (now on bass) and drummer Nick Andrews. Even at 14, as I believe he was, Andrews was probably one of the most talented drummers I’d ever heard at the time. Vischi departed the band shortly after our debut performance at The Music Shop Pub and was replaced by Troy Abbott (aka Roy Tabbot), who’d been banging away on a makeshift percussion set with the band. We released an album of all original material titled “Have Gun, Will Travel” in 2000 or 2001, and headlined Bosworth’s Twisted Groove Music and Arts Festival during its run. The name of the band was actually taken from a song I had written (what’s funny is I can’t remember to this day how it went) shortly before our first performance. What’s also humorous is the fact that our first inclination for a name, Rippleton, would later become the moniker for another band put together by Tozer, Vischi and I nearly a decade later.

When I began this blog I had absolutely no idea it would take up quite this much space, so I guess I’ll do this in two parts. If you’re interested, look for part two in the near future.

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Tuesday, Oct. 12

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010
Patrick Newell

I can hear the words of my significant other echoing in my head. She, who has lived in much bigger cities than Norwich during her life, has told me umpteen times about how “I seem to know everybody.” I was going through the football contest entries today and marking them off, and there are all kinds of connections I can make to the six people who finished in either a tie for first or second.
Tied for second were Jamie Frank, who was a classmate of mine from the Norwich class of 1985; Mark Abbott, who is the longtime coach of Norwich’s basketball team and a friend of mine; Darlene Beckwith of Oxford, who I have come to know well over the years through volunteer extraordinaire, Charlie McMullen; and Charles Podenak, who was last week’s contest winner.
Tied for first were Chris Vinal of Norwich and Kim Boeltz of Greene. Vinal was a varsity bowler for Norwich during his high school days and he has worked at the Norwich YMCA for some time now. My biggest tie to him is his surname. I’ve known generations of Vinals for most of my lifetime. The Boeltz name rung a bell in my head, too. Turns out she is the mom of one of Greene’s better volleyball players over the years, Megan Boeltz, and I am sure I spoke to Kim at some point on the phone prior to this week.
Just to put it on the record, I really “don’t” know everybody, it just seems like it.

– I looked at the Section III football standings today, and Sherburne-Earlville is one of 25 teams in four divisions. It seems the top two clubs in each division qualify for the postseason, and the Marauders are out of luck sitting alone in third place in the Class C South behind Canastota and Westmoreland. As S-E head coach Mike Jasper said in his post-game comments last Friday, the Marauders still have a lot to play for. S-E has not finished with an above-.500 record in division play since it joined Section III, it hasn’t had a winning season in five years, and according to our records, hasn’t won six games in a season since 1994 when it played nine-man football in the Tri-Valley League.

– I witnessed a first tonight at Norwich High School. I saw the volleyball team win a game. Okay, it doesn’t seem like much, but Norwich went winless last year, and in the smattering of Norwich matches I have seen over the years, I had never actually seen Norwich win a game, much less a match. Norwich went on to defeat Owego last night for its seventh win of the season, a tremendous turnaround for Norwich, who have not won more than five matches in a season in my tenure here. During the pre-match introductions, the two teams went through a handshake line, and it seemed like the Indians’ players stood a head taller than Norwich’s scrappy group. On the court, Norwich ultimately stood tall with its fundamental play. Norwich didn’t hurt itself and seldom made unforced errors. When you force the other team to make good shots, that puts the pressure on, and it was nice to see the tremendous strides Norwich has made in just one season. Another footnote to add, of the 2010 Norwich fall sports programs, the volleyball team is the only one that has a chance to finish with a .500 or better record. Now that is statement I have never written.

– Norwich’s golf team had its 10-match winning streak snapped by Windsor. It was matchup of STAC division leaders, and Windsor evened the season series. Leading Norwich was Ryan Hagen, who shot a 1-over-par 37 at Belden Hill Golf Club in Harpursville. Hagen started with birdies on his first three holes, then parred the fourth. Typically the fifth or sixth man for Norwich, it was a season-low score, and head coach Bob Branham was proud that Hagen was able to keep his focus. “It’s tough for a young golfer when they’re that much under par with a few holes to play, and hold it together,” Branham said. “He was able to do that.”

– In 14 matches this season, G-MU’s boys’ soccer team has seven shutouts –not all wins, though. The Raiders played to their fourth tie this season, and have the unusual soccer mark of 8-2-4 overall, one-half game behind Tri-Valley division leader Edmeston. Head coach Mark Luettger said he’s never had a season like this – four ties.

– Greene’s field hockey team improved to 11-0, and extended the club’s winning streak to 31. In a 3-1 victory over Walton, the Trojans surrendered their first goal of the season. Trojans head coach Sue Carlin said her club has its eye on the prize – winning games – all the time, and the shutouts are not a focus at all. In my conversation with Carlin Tuesday night, we agreed that pointing out unique statistics such as shutout streaks is something the media likes to do to build a story line, but it isn’t anything her team is thinking about when it steps on the field. The shutouts, in a nutshell, are a consequence of Greene’s excellence – and dominance – this season.

– The year before Greene girls’ soccer coach Brandy Stone took the head coaching job, the Trojans won a division title. Last year Greene took a step back, and even finished with a losing record. This year, Stone has the Trojans back on top in division play as her team clinched the MAC division one title Tuesday night with a win over Sidney. In all likelihood, it will be an all-Chenango County league championship game as Unadilla Valley is on course to win the Division II crown.

Editor’s Notebook: 10/12/10

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010
Jeff Genung

Here’s what’s on my mind in the Ivory Tower today …

• Spotted: Mayor Joseph Maiurano tying cornstalks and bows to the lamposts in downtown Norwich to decorate for the season. And his little dog, too. Nice job, Joe. Doesn’t get more small town than that!

• So weren’t those some amazing fall scenery shots Frank Speziale took for today’s Photo Finish? He’s made a yearly trek out into the hinterlands each fall since we started printing in glorious color, and even though he kvetched about this being a bad year for foliage, the pictures say otherwise. In case you missed it, those pictures (and more) are in a gallery on The Evening Sun’s Facebook page.

• Speaking of Facebook, I became a fan of The Norwich Crow recently. I’m not sure why, because I hate the darn things – but whoever put this little tribute together has a good sense of humor. And a plethora of crow puns.

• Two stolen cars, a drunken rollover, purloined handgun, pilfered porn and doughnuts on a lawn. I just love Chenango County criminals. And this was all one guy! You’d think they were giving out a scholarship for Most Well-Rounded Miscreant.

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Monday, Oct. 11

Monday, October 11th, 2010
Patrick Newell

I can only reiterate Editor Genung’s comments about a slow news day. It’s even slower on the sports front with Columbus Day giving local sports teams the day off. So, I will recap some tidbits from last weekend, and toss in a few editorial comments:

– How about Sherburne-Earlville senior running back, Greg DuVall? DuVall’s ball-carrying skills impressed me, and I wonder what kind of numbers he would have racked up had he become a full-time running back for S-E last year. From what I saw last Friday, he was explosive, he shed tacklers – or ran over them – and lunged, dove, and spun his way for every extra yard. His three-yard two-point conversion run when the game was well in hand is a prime example of 100 percent effort. He was hit short of the goal line, low and hard, by Little Falls’ Tim Morgan. It was a nice form tackle that slowed DuVall, but didn’t stop him from diving and extending the ball over the goal line. And DuVall has good size and excellent speed. He’s easily 35 to 40 pounds heavier than his wrestling weight (135 pounds) last year at the New York State meet, and I imagine he’ll be a force on the mat this winter, too.

– I sat through another Buffalo loss on Sunday afternoon. I felt a tinge of optimism when I sat down in the second quarter and the Bills were leading 13-3. From that point on, Jacksonville held a 33-13 advantage. Today, Buffalo owner Ralph Wilson and his personnel team are resolved to select a top-flight quarterback in the 2011 draft. What about the 2010 draft? I am no personnel expert, but I could have offered some low-priced advice to draft a quarterback this past spring.

– “Sabers top NHS” was one of the local sports headlines in Monday’s sports section. It was another setback for the Tornado boys’ soccer team, who are winless this season. I lament that defeat a little more than usual since my son is on the team. He started playing soccer on the YMCA youth teams when he was probably five or six years old, and is still dedicated to playing. A few of the kids he played with from those early days are still on the team. Others, my son’s age, have either moved out of the area, moved to another sport, or just given up playing fall sports altogether. The last excuse is one I find difficult to understand .I come from a different generation, and to me, giving up playing a sport is unfathomable. If I had invested more than half my life to it, and I truly loved playing the sport, why would I ever give it up? Like many people who have played team and individual sports, I really enjoy competition, and I love the camaraderie that is built by playing on a team. Going back long before I was ever born, high school athletes and competitors who loved sports played something in every season. In Norwich, we are fortunate to have more than one sports option each season. Smaller schools in Chenango County, such as G-MU and Otselic Valley, do not have that luxury, and participation by anyone with any kind of athletic ability is almost required. News flash: Bigger schools need their athletes to participate, too!

Editor’s Notebook: 10/11/10

Monday, October 11th, 2010
Jeff Genung

In Fourteen Hundred and Ninety-Two … Columbus didn’t discover America, but let’s all take the day off anyway.

• Only we didn’t take the day off, of course. Despite the grumblings of much of my intrepid Evening Sun staff, the news never sleeps – even when there’s not much of it. While we do get the occasional holiday break (publishing what I like to call the “psychic newspaper” the night before), Columbus Day isn’t one of them. And I can’t say I mind a bit. There’s something to be said of a day in the office when the phone rings only three times and there’s barely a peep, even, on ‘30 Seconds.’ Can’t wait for Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

• Frank Speziale covered Coventry’s annual Civil War Commemoration event on Sunday, and we had photos on today’s front page. It’s a neat little event they do every year, honoring someone from the town’s storied past. Can’t say I’ve ever understood the whole Civil War re-enactor thing, but hey, I have a Captain Kirk costume. Who am I to judge?

• Glad to see that those Restore NY homes in the city will soon be occupied. The one on Fair Street is just a few houses down from the Genung Estate, and it’s been done – and empty – for a long time. They look like nice homes, even if flood plain regulations forced them to have front doors that are like 20 feet off the ground.

• Looks like it might be an interesting meeting for the Chenango Board of Supervisors tomorrow – more gas drilling drama. Stay tuned for that one.

• And last but not least, we’ll have a photo in tomorrow’s paper of the celebrated “Meatball Committee” of St. Bartholomew’s Spaghetti Supper fame. That annual delight takes place Wednesday and Thursday. Think I could talk my way in for free if I wrote a good review?

Editor's Notebook: 2/28/13

Monday, October 11th, 2010
Jeff Genung

• February certainly went out with a bang. We broke the news online this afternoon that the body found in Pharsalia Tuesday has been confirmed to be that of Jennifer Ramsaran, the New Berlin wife and mother who’s been missing since Dec. 11. Simultaneous posts to our Twitter and Facebook accounts linking to the news alert temporarily slowed response time on our website after the news broke – I don’t have the exact number yet, but we haven’t seen that amount of traffic in a long time. There’s certainly a lot of interest in this case – all we can do now is hope that the next few days bring us some answers to what fate befell Mrs. Ramsaran. RIP.

• Hardened news editor that I am, I’m still taken aback when a tragedy like this strikes our little community – because, thankfully, it doesn’t happen very often. I can count on two hands the number of murders we’ve covered in the last two decades, but each time it stings just as bad as the first. Things like that just don’t happen here, we tell ourselves, until they do. We’re sheltered here, but not immune.