• Ever have one of those days where you feel like you’re 15 minutes late for everything? Well, I’m having one. I should have left for Commerce Chenango’s Small Business dinner 15 minutes ago … so I’ll catch you up tomorrow!
Archive for November, 2010
• Merry Christmas! Now that the Parade of Lights has come and gone, I feel like the holiday season has officially begun. Sunday, I spent the better part of the day hauling out the holly.
• Congratulations to my intrepid Evening Sun crew – Tyler Murphy, Melissa Stagnaro and Brian Golden (and me) – we tied for second place in the Parade of Lights float category! It’s always amazing to me what we are able to accomplish in such a short amount of time – and with a whole lot of duct tape. It’s a lot of work, but I think it’s beneficial on two levels: building good will in the community and building a stronger team internally. Each of my young charges has their own special skill set, and seeing it all come together is always a treat. Melissa inherited the “Parade Nazi” title from Jessica Lewis, and I mean that in a good way – her organization and vision kept us on track. Tyler – I’m dubbing him the “Balloon Whisperer.” How he manages that balloon arch thing we did, single-handedly, escapes me. And Brian? Well Brian saved the day by getting us a generator at the last minute – which he was supposed to do in the first place, but that’s beside the point. If nothing else, he suffered our day-long abuse like a champ. A good time was had by all … check out the pictures on our Facebook page.
• Breaking news just as we went to press this morning about the overnight robbery of the Great American in Bainbridge. As of this writing, police are still searching for the two male suspects – both described as 5 foot 9 or 10, and, well, not fat. Yeah, that should narrow it down.
• Friends of Rogers reports today that the DEC has told them that the Rogers Environmental Conservation Center’s trails and grounds will still be open to the public after the facilities close at the end of the year – but no one will be maintaining them. Gee, thanks! I guess they’re going with that “forever wild” concept.
• Gotta love it when a Friday feels like a Monday. But like I tweeted to Melissa this morning, at least it’s only a one-day week.
• Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Sad, though, that the day was marked by a big fire in downtown Greene. Kudos to all seven fire departments whose members left hearth & home to fight the blaze – and to the aforementioned Ms. Stagnaro for going down to cover it. Thankfully, no one was injured and the buildings aren’t a total loss.
• Just got back from Wal-Mart with The Evening Sun crew (shopping for float-making supplies) and am pleased to report that the economy in Chenango County appears to be booming. Black Friday, indeed. Would be nice, too, to see comparable crows circulating in downtown Norwich, patronizing local merchants.
• Today marks the five-year anniversary of The Evening Sun’s resident movie critic/DVD expert, Todd Campbell. His DVD Patrol has been a staple of the paper’s Friday entertainment coverage for half a decade, and we consider him a good buddy. Stay tuned for another of our “Toddster Teamups” next week – this time the ES crew and Todd will ruminate on our favorite James Bond films. Happy anniversary, Todd!
• Marking another milestone, Saturday will be the last “Christmas to Remember: Parade of Lights” with Linda Green as director. Linda will be retiring from her Evening Sun duties in mid-2011, so this will be her last (and 16th!) Christmas parade. Seems like only yesterday the parade was held on the Friday after Thanksgiving, in the morning, and was much, much smaller. I credit Linda and former Fire Chief John Tighe with transforming the parade a few years back into the gargantuan, illuminated nighttime event that it is now. Pam Jones has agreed to take over the reins of the parade, but Linda’s 16 years of making it happen will always leave their mark on the event. They say if you want something done, you should ask a busy person – I dare say Linda Green personifies that little gem of wisdom. Come on down to Norwich Saturday night at 6:30 to see her last, and biggest, Parade of Lights ever!
I’m not going to lie: I wasn’t too pleased about having to leave the warmth and comfort of hearth and home yesterday to cover the fire in Greene. I’d spent most of the day in the kitchen. The turkey was almost ready to come out of the oven, and I was looking forward to sitting down at the table for a nice relaxing meal with friends and family.
But as soon as I heard about the blaze, I knew sitting it out wasn’t an option. Grudgingly, I traded my cooking scrubs for attire more appropriate to reporting, and with one last longing look at the already set dining room table, headed out the door.
I had little information to go on, just a text message from a friend that downtown Greene was closed to traffic because of a big fire. As busy I’d been in the kitchen, I hadn’t gotten the message until close to 4. I wasn’t sure what I’d find when I got there, but I feared the worst. I had visions of the entire quaint village proper in flames.
And but for the dedication of our local volunteer fire departments, that would have been a very real possibility.
The second I hit Greene, and discovered how responders had contained and extinguished the blaze in under two hours, I was immediately humbled. Here I had been bemoaning the fact that I’d had to leave the comfort of home, when all of these volunteers – from a total of seven fire companies – had so willingly done the same.
We are truly blessed to have so many willing to climb out of bed in the middle of the night, to push back their chair from the dinner table, to abandon whatever task they are in the middle of to come to the aid of those in their hour of need. To place others in the community before themselves, time and again.
My heartfelt thanks to the volunteers from Greene, Brisben, Oxford, Smithville Flats, Coventry, Chenango Forks and Harpursville who answered the call yesterday, and to all of our emergency responders, paid and volunteer, who never fail to answer the call of those in need.
We don’t, and perhaps can’t, thank you enough for your willing sacrifice. But any and all who have been on the receiving end of your efforts, and witnessed your selfless dedication, appreciate all you do.God bless.
Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa.
• Since we’re taking tomorrow off for Thanksgiving, Thursday’s paper was created entirely today – along with most of Wednesday’s, and part of Friday’s. At this point, I have no idea what day it is. But I’ve been a page-making fool today.
• We have a long-standing tradition here in the newsroom of calling the holiday paper (the one we do the day before, and label it for the next day) the “psychic newspaper.” Here’s what we’re pretty sure is going to happen tomorrow … and you can read it today! But for the past couple years, we’ve made good use of the front page of our Thanksgiving Day edition to highlight a select group (OK, whoever the reporters could con into doing it) of Chenango citizens, asking them what they’re thankful for. Some of the answers are predictable; others will surprise you. Either way, I hope you’ll take time tomorrow to ask yourself the same question. I know I will.
• The centerpiece of Thursday’s paper is actually our Sports section. Pat Newell does a fantastic job with his annual Evening Sun Football All-Stars. Check it out.
• Also in light of the impending holiday, “30 Seconds” and the ES Forum are both closed until Friday. See, I told you I needed something to be thankful for …
Melissa and Brian are so cool I had to be like them.
Here’s an unthankful twist on topics inspired by a co-worker’s pent up frustrations, though not my own.
1. School board meetings. Any public school administrator or elected board member should prepare themselves for people to loathe them, sometimes no matter what action you take. My dealing with the Unadilla Valley School Board has been very good. Many on the board have long years of school or public work experience and despite the district’s deep budget cuts, the leadership seems to have weathered the economics fairly well. I would say at the very least they are a group that seems generally well informed on the workings of school politics and budgeting. Norwich on the other hand is a tougher hand of cards to play. Since I was in High School at Oxford Academy I can remember pitying the students caught in the Norwich system. Politics, politics, politics. Have to disagree with the crew’s resentment though, from a newspaper point of view there’s always ink for drama and controversy.
2. Bullies. I remember bullies and may have been one for a time. People really need to let kids fend for themselves sometimes. This obsession with bullying and the drastic movements to protect kids at all cost is stripping the independent development of self asserted social skills. You need to grow into an identity you aren’t afraid to stand up for because life is tough. There will always be people trying to intimidate you, in school, work, life, even among relatives. There’s a difference in a school fist fights and a criminal assault, a difference between child antics and harassment. Children are developing and sometimes they can be cruel to another, however along the way there are opportunities for development. It’s painful, I know.
3. Only 340 something people voted in a school referendum! I’m so shocked by the lack of voter turn out! … No, not even a little bit serious. Though the district’s leaders should understand the lack of cast ballots probably doesn’t echo a lack of public interest. Remarkable how people seem to care enough about a thing to offer you their opinion about it but not enough to actually contribute to a decision on the issue. It’s the American way.
4. 30 seconds. I want names, people.
5. Braggarts. Had lunch today (Nov. 24) with three friends. Two have half work days on Wednesday then they have Thursday and Friday off. The other had just had Thursday through Monday off. I have Thursday off. Good for you….grrr.
6. Sudden interest in Melissa’s eating habits? She eats a lot of weird things. I didn’t notice the tuna-lemon I guess.
7. KP Duty. I have a fool-proof system. Wash your dishes and leave the rest, kill those who allow them to linger for more than 24 hours.
8. Whiners. Love to do it, but hate to hear it. Wha.
Happy Thanksgiving folks.
• So I’m all for art, really. But the picture we had today of that dead zebra feeding trough thing? Umm … Well, to each his own. I sure couldn’t do it.
• Melissa Stagnaro’s “lemon pepper tuna” did, indeed, smell like urine. You’re just gonna have to trust me on that. Brought back memories of the dearly departed Nicole Martinez and her garlic hummus. Can’t you people eat at home?
• Looks like the Norwich school board is at it again. I hesitate to even send a reporter there sometimes, it’s so embarrassingly dysfunctional. The hijinks had leveled off for a while there, but it looks like they’re right back at it. Fortunately, there’s a lot of good going on in the schools themselves, and we get to report on that too.
• Congratulations to the Chenango United Way on hitting the halfway mark in their $435,000 goal for this year’s campaign. If you haven’t already, I strongly urge you to sign up to give. I give a measly dollar or two a week, and don’t miss it. If everyone reading this did the same, they’d meet their goal four times over – and all of the deserving programs so desperately in need of funding would be satisfied.
• Working on our “Holiday Big Book” special advertising section, which publishes Friday, as we speak. This week’s topic is “Giftology” – a guide to high-tech must-haves this Christmas. Sorry, Santa, I beat you to it – I’ve already got most of the toys on that list.
I had every intention to write my first blog of the week on my absolutely fantastic experience in the studio over the weekend. However, Melissa Stagnaro’s I-guess-I-don’t-have-to-be-thankful-all-the-time post really caught my attention. For anyone interested, here’s my take.
1. School Board Meetings. While I certainly haven’t suffered nearly as much as my coworker from the other side of the cubicle, I can totally relate. I was even kind enough to attend a school board meeting (at the particular school Melissa is writing of no less) in her stead once, and I wholeheartedly agree with her assessment. I left that meeting with a queasy stomach, a terrible headache and some not-so-kind thoughts rolling about in my head. I truly feel her pain and her ability to woman-up (and continue to diligently suffer through board meeting after board meeting) is a testament to her resolve and commitment to journalistic excellence.
2. Bullies. I can’t stand bullies. As a high school victim of bullying I have extremely strong feelings on this issue, one which is casually shrugged off most of the time by students, teachers and administration far too often. Parents, if you even suspect that your child is being mistreated at school I urge you to contact a school official and have a serious sit-down with your son or daughter. If you’re the parent of a bully, well, I don’t really have any advice for you, as it’s probably your fault to begin with. People need to quit blaming this problem on violent television programs, video games and motion pictures. Learning to be a good person (and a respectful one) starts at home.
3. The people of Oxford school district who didn’t bother to vote in last week’s capital project referendum. I can’t say much here due to the fact that I’m a born-and-raised Norwichian. However, this immediately brings to mind last week’s Common Council meeting and open forum on the 2011 budget, which was pretty much ignored by city residents. I’m sure there will be all manner of complaints tossed about down the road and all I can think is – you had your shot. Far too many people sitting around complaining when they could be up and at it and actually accomplishing something.
4. 30 Seconds. Ditto, Melissa. No argument here.
5. Braggarts. Once again, I’m with you.
6. My coworkers sudden interest in my eating habits. I don’t know what to tell you Melissa, and while I didn’t really think your lemon pepper tuna smelled like urine, it was definitely quite pungent.
7. KP Duty. I’m going to go out on a limb here and remind my cupcake-loving, chocolate addict coworker that I’m always willing to help out in the kitchen. However, in my defense, I use only one cup while in the office, which I keep cleansed on my own. Anytime the dishwasher needs filling (or emptying) I’ll be glad to help out.
8. Whiners. While I’m glad you’re feeling better now, I wouldn’t necessarily call this whining Melissa, you were simply venting (another word for whining minus the high-pitched whiny voice). It’s completely healthy and there’s nothing wrong with it as long as it helped some.
I know I said yesterday I planned to carry on the theme of thankfulness in my blogs this week. Well – as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character John Matrix famously said – I lied. Today I’m trying a new twist. Here are a few of the things I’m not particularly thankful for this Holiday season.
1. School board meetings. Last night’s Norwich school board meeting reminded me how much I dislike attending these marathon sessions. There are a great deal of positive things happening in the district, but you’d never know it based on the dysfunction exhibited by the board of education. I left, with my blood pressure at an all time high and ridiculous heart burn, thanking my lucky stars I don’t live in the district. The only thing I like less than having to sit through endless board of education meeting? Having to get up early the next day to write about them. And, yes, I’m more than a little cranky about it. You can blame them for getting me all riled up today.
2. Bullies. All of us have encountered people who seek to raise themselves up by putting other people. They are blight on our entire society, but particularly in schools where they do horrible damage to the self respect and self esteem of impressionable kids. Last night at the school board meeting a particularly courageous teen had the guts to stand up and voice his concerns about bullying at Norwich High School. I give him every credit in the world for doing so, and I sincerely hope school leaders will address this incredibly serious issue. (By the way, if anyone knows this young man or his family, please encourage him to contact me. I am definitely interested in hearing more of his story.)
3. The people of Oxford school district who didn’t bother to vote in last week’s capital project referendum. Considering only 340-odd people turned out on Thursday, that’s the majority of the district’s residents. I’m sure a sampling had legitimate excuses, but it’s disappointing none the less. I guess it’s a lot easier to moan and complain about something than to take action, and easier still to let other people make the tough decisions for you. (Yes, I’ve been holding that in since last week.)
4. 30 seconds. Enough said.
5. Braggarts. I’m happy that you’ve got the rest of this week off, I really am. Now shut up about it. Because the rest of us still have to work.
6. My coworkers sudden interest in my eating habits. Seriously people, what’s wrong with lemon pepper tuna? And no, Jeff, it does NOT smell like urine.
7. KP Duty. I’m not sure how I got designated as the office maid. But it’s getting old. If you managed to carry your dirty, stained mug all the way to the sink from your cluttered cubicle, I’m sure you could have managed to transport it the extra 12 1/2 inches to the dishwasher.
8. Whiners. Yes, that would be me today. I hope you can forgive me for all of my bitter diatribe. But, wow, it feels better to get all of that off my chest.
Now, I promise, I’ll go back to being thankful.
Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa.
• If Justin Bieber is the Artist of the Year, then I am the Queen of England.
• People are up in arms over the planned closing of Rogers Environmental Education Center in Sherburne before the end of the year, and with good reason. But as Tyler Murphy’s story today indicates, no one from the state level has confirmed exactly how or if Rogers will continue to function without the education center or its employees. Someone on “30 Seconds” said “It’s not as if they’re going to put up a big fence around it,” which is probably true – but what form that continued public access to the trails and park lands will take is anybody’s guess at this point. The state also tells us they’re actively seeking a local government or non-profit entity to take over operations of the center, yet no one we’ve talked to has heard anything about it. Like any story involving a state agency, we can’t get a straight answer out of the 85 different people we have to talk to – most of whom pass the buck to someone else. I love New York!
• Melissa Stagnaro thought someone up front in the YMCA’s Turkey Trot 5K on Sunday looked an awful lot like me. I assure you, I was nowhere near a 5K. Or a .5K, for that matter.
• It’s a short week for most of the working public, and we’ll get Thanksgiving Day off here at The Evening Sun, too – unfortunately we have to work twice as hard on Wednesday. We’ve got a special “Giving Thanks” edition coming for you on Thursday, then it’s back to business as usual on Friday. Our offices will, of course, be closed on the holiday.
• Don’t forget – this Saturday is our annual Christmas to Remember: Parade of Lights in downtown Norwich! The action steps off at 6:30 p.m., but come early – good spots are hard to find as this one draws more and more people every year. From all I’ve heard, it’s going to be another huge, spectacular parade. And the featured attraction will be (well, besides the fat guy in the red suit) The Evening Sun’s own “Delivering Christmas” float – back after a one-year absence. As long as we don’t burst into flames like that poor Dairy Princess float last year, we’ll be doing OK.