Archive for December, 2010

Editor’s Notebook: 12/23/10

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010
Jeff Genung

• ‘Twas the night before the day before Christmas, and not a creature was stirring … I remember when business was slow on Christmas Eve, but it seems like it’s stretched into an entire week. I think my phone  rang 4 times today. We’re still open!

• But not for long. We’ll be putting out Friday’s paper in the morning, and taking the rest of the day off. Back to business as usual on Monday … until next Friday when we do it all over again. And as I promised (or was that threatened?) before, there will be no “30 Seconds” or ES Forum from tomorrow afternoon through the weekend. Santa’s giving Ed. a break for Christmas!

• If you haven’t been up to Warner Road yet, to see the Lindner-Banks family’s Christmas lights display, you really should. It’s quite the spectacle, Chenango County style. And it’s got a charitable aim, to boot. Stop by with a can of food for a local pantry.

• Not much of a surprise that the DEC’s not going to budge on the closure of Rogers Center next week. The governor really pushed that one through – and there wasn’t a whole lot our local legislators could do to stop it before the deadline. Looks like the Friends of Rogers are mobilizing to keep things semi-active up there though – hopefully keep it on life support until a new administration can right that wrong.

From Norwich, NY to Norwich, UK

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010
Brian Golden

A couple of days ago I received an interesting e-mail from, of all places, England, and fellow journalist David Blackmore. It seems Mr. Blackmore, in his duties for the Eastern Daily Press – its headquarters are located in another Norwich, over 3,000 miles away across the Atlantic Ocean – was working on a Christmas feature focused on the holidays, and what they’re like, at the various other locations known as Norwich across the globe.

At first I thought I was pretty special and I made a point to mention it to Jeff, thinking it would be fun to send some photos of our tastefully decorated downtown and a brief little write-up on the holiday season in good old Norwich, NY.

It turns out that everyone here at The Evening Sun had received the very same e-mail and my hopes were dashed, until, that is, my kind and caring co-worker Melissa Stagnaro, whose knowledge of the United Kingdom far outweighs my own, graciously told me that, since I was so excited about the prospect, I could have it.

I spent a portion of Wednesday afternoon and evening trekking up and down the streets of our downtown business district, snapping shots of the above-mentioned holiday decorations adorning our fair city. And while I’m certainly no Frank Speziale, I was quite pleased with the results. I sent the photos out this morning following deadline, as well as a brief description of the Christmas season here in Norwich, which I’ve included below for those interested.

Christmas in Norwich, NY is a truly special time for our small, close-knit city of approximately 7,000. The holiday season kicks-off every year with the eagerly anticipated “Parade of Lights,” which features dozens of Christmas-themed floats and thousands typically flock to North and South Broad Street for this wonderful event. The snow-covered trees, sometimes bitter chill in the air and tastefully decorated businesses, residences, churches and other structures which make up our city reflect that traditional Christmas vibe associated with small-town America. The holiday decorations of East and West Parks shine brightly during the evening hours, as holiday shoppers make their way up and down the streets of our downtown business district. The yearly Tree Lighting Ceremony, which features an inspiring performance by the students of the Perry Browne Elementary School is a favorite for city residents, and there’s a genuine feeling of brotherly love and goodwill toward men as citizens and neighbors of all ages greet one another with well-wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Local children, in the weeks leading up to Christmas, have an opportunity to visit with Santa in his East Park Igloo to tell him if they’ve been naughty or nice, and parents have a chance to take one of those priceless photos which so perfectly capture the holiday spirit. It truly is a picturesque setting here in Norwich, NY and, even after 33 years (I was born and raised here), it never ceases to amaze me.

Merry Christmas to our fellow Norwichians in the United Kingdom!

The inside scoop. 12/23

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010
Tyler Murphy

My headlines this week and the inside scoop.

Christmas lights shows have charitable aim

Both Rick Lindner and Rick Crowell are Christmas light enthusiast and they’ve transformed their unusual passions into events benefiting the needy- if only we could all do the same. These guys are technical wizards who spend countless hours obsessing over these displays, often turning the activity into family bonding with their young children, who are eager and excited to help.

The hardest part of these stories is trying to take a good picture of the displays. Bright lights in the dark are about as unfriendly as an environment gets for photography, even more worse than the infamous lighting found in courtrooms or theaters. These arrangements are spectacular in animation and no photograph can really capture an in-person experience. If I could compare it to anything else in the newsroom photography world it would be fireworks. Hard pictures to get and even the best frozen moment of the most glorious explosion fails to convey the show’s over all brilliance.

Take a ride to see them, bring food, people are hungry, some are starving. Enjoy the show and the pleasure of knowing you truly contributed to the real meaning of Christmas.

Toddler rapist sent to prison

The defense attorney told the judge his client lacked mental capacity. No kidding? I’m not sure intelligence is a requirement of morality but when you’ve already signed a confession to such monstrous crimes I guess it’s all you can say. Seriously though the public defender did refer to a psychological evaluation and testing, saying his client’s IQ was five points below Forest Gumps’. (That was not a joke)

I wish I could say this incident was a single individual acting unpredictably but when police where investigating the crime they were led so astray by the victim’s mother they charged her with making false statements. Sad case. I feel bad for the family members and that I had to write the piece on the eve of the holiday.

Delivering Christmas: Meals on Wheels

Ever since I left the Norwich Senior Center I’ve been contemplating becoming a volunteer myself. It’s only once a week and takes a couples hours. I just have to find a way to get work around it. My hat is off to all those people who have found the time across the county to support these programs. This was an editorial and I said what I felt in the article.

Foul play not suspected in Bainbridge death

By his tone of voice I imagine a state police investigator scratching his heading on the other end of the phone when I called him this week.

The story of the death appeared in a competing media outlet in the Binghamton area and before you knew it all the rest of us were doing the same. The real story? This death was unremarkable in the foul play sense. Police find dead bodies all the time and there was nothing different in this instance. Like the investigator said to me, “If we had any thought there was more to this case we would’ve created a media release. I don’t know why there is an interest.” Me either. Hope the coverage didn’t worsen the family’s grief. If it did I’m sorry for my part.

Man arrested after armed confrontation with police

This is an ongoing case but the more I learn about it the more serious it seems. Some extra info not in the article: the female victim was a 15-year-old girl, and there are four total victims I believe, who were held inside the house at gun point. This is a very serious crime and this 19-year-old kid is facing some serious consequences. Expected to read more in the near future.

Outdoor enthusiast turn out in support of Rogers

Today we ran a press release. It was indeed the last hurrah. My heart cries for the loss of the center. Growing up in the rural hills of Oxford and Preston my first love has always been mother nature and her infinite miracles of beauty and life. Or as Albany likes to call it… bla, bla, bla.

I’ve had countless personal experience at Rogers including peaceful soul searching, romantic dates and family barbecues. All met with great success.

I hate to say it but I think this is really just the beginning. I’m pretty sure all this jazz about an ongoing recovery is really just politician’s attempts to urge consumer spending. The reality is 2011 is going to be the worst year for New York public service in over half a century. You think Rogers is bad, just wait until you see the next round of school cuts. They make even last year’s dramatic cuts seem not so bad.

Merry Christmas!! º<:)}

Follow me on Twitter … @evesuntyler.

Visions of sugar plums

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010
Melissa Stagnaro

One of my coworkers commented earlier that I looked a little flushed. Little did they know I was in the middle of a massive sugar rush. For the last couple of days my diet has consists almost entirely of cookies and candy. This week alone, I’ve probably surpassed the per capita sugar consumption of some small nations.

For someone like me – who has basically never met a baked good or a chocolate-covered confection I haven’t liked – this time of year is dangerous. Our office kitchen is stockpiled with platters of homemade Christmas cookies and boxes of chocolates. Or at least it was. My coworkers and I have put a serious dent in it. Okay, so maybe most of it was me.

I was pretty good at the beginning of the week. A cookie or two with my morning coffee. A miniature chocolate after deadline. But by yesterday, I’d abandoned all pretense. Those tasty treats served as breakfast, lunch and more than few snacks throughout the day.

We won’t talk about dinner. We’ve got our own stockpile at home, and I’ve put a sizable dent in that as well.

I’m paying for that overindulgence already. The weight gain hasn’t hit, but if I keep going at this pace it won’t be long. But the exorbitant amount of sugar I’ve consumed is wreaking havoc. I’ve basically been bouncing off the walls since I polished off my “lunch” – which consisted of two chocolate covered caramels, a cherry cordial and some other gooey, nutty chocolate covered gob of goodness.

Needless to say concentrating on my work has become something of a challenge. And my coworkers stopped even trying to comprehend what I’m saying about 20 minutes ago. I talk a mile a minute as it is, now I probably sound like I’ve been stuck on fast forward.

When I used to get “sugared up” as a kid, my mom would tell me to run around the house a few times. I don’t think that will be necessary today though. Because, as they say, what comes up, must come down. Any moment now, I’ll be hitting that wall, where my sugar buzz will turn into a crash. At which point I’ll be wanting to crawl under my desk for nice, long winter’s nap.

Now, where did I put that kerchief…

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa.

Editor’s Notebook: 12/22/10

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010
Jeff Genung

• Who says we don’t print good news? Another photo, on today’s front page no less, of local kids doing great things this holiday season – this time at Holy Family. I wish I’d kept count of how many of those “do-gooder” photos we ran in the last month or so (including our own!). It’s surely a great testament to the giving nature of our community, and I’m happy to help spread the word, really. But if I had a dollar for every time someone complained that we only print the bad stuff … well, I’d fund my own charity.

• If any of my reporters growl at you in the next few weeks, it’s not because they’re hungry (well, on second thought …). Late last week, I gave them their story assignments for Progress Chenango 2011, which will come out the last week in January. All my ES alumni reading this are shivering from the residual memory right now. Anyway, it’s a busy time of year for them, with all that added work plus the pressures of a daily newspaper. Give them a wide berth!

• I know this question has been weighing heavily on your collective minds, but yes, my Christmas shopping is done. Normally I work best under pressure of a deadline (gee, where do I get that from?) and wait until literally the last minute, but this year I actually planned ahead. And cut a few people off the list, but that’s neither here nor there. Are there no workhouses?

• Dear Elemeno, Mac, Justaguy, Sugarshack, Localguy, Abcdefg, Kwhopper23, et al … All I want for Christmas is for you to step away from your keyboards. As such, The Evening Sun online forum and “30 Seconds” will be closed soon for the holiday. Try spending some time with people in the real world!

Editor’s Notebook: 12/20/10

Monday, December 20th, 2010
Jeff Genung

• Looks like they had a great turnout for the Winter Living Celebration at Rogers Environmental Education Center in Sherburne yesterday. Sad, that it looks like it may be the last. Despite a tremendous ground swell of support, nothing’s going to stop the center from closing (and its employees losing their jobs) on Dec. 31. But with a new governor in office, who knows what the new year will bring? Hopefully there’s still hope for a reinvented Rogers down the road. For those looking for more pictures of the event, I put ‘em all up on our Facebook page.

• Had a great time with the ES crew (minus Tyler … hmmm) on Saturday morning “Delivering Christmas” down in Greene. Wish we could have done more, really. Always nice to spread a little Christmas cheer. Melissa Stagnaro wrote a great account of the experience for today’s edition – it’s really an amazing operation they pull off down there every year. And it’s great to see such a closeknit community turning out to help their neighboors in need. God bless them, everyone.

• Congratulations to one of my favorite ES alums, Jude Seymour (the fact that he’s a blood relation only makes him even more special, of course). let the cat out of the bag today up in Watertown – Jude’s moving from the Daily Times to WWNY News 7, where he’ll continue to blog on all things political, write for the station’s website, and even make on-camera appearances. Always nice to see one of my padawans doing well.

Editor’s Notebook: 12/16/10

Thursday, December 16th, 2010
Jeff Genung

• Sometimes I get a kick out of spam. While I don’t have enough hours in the day to read all 1,386 messages trying to lure me into get-rich-quick (or get-excited-fast) schemes via junkmail, once in a while one catches my eye – just as the spammers hope, I suppose. In today’s inbox …

Dearest Jgenung.

Warm greetings to you and your family in the name of our lord Jesus Christ. I am Eric Timothy, the only son of late Mr. and Mrs. Johnson Timothy. My father was a very wealthy Rubber plantation merchant and the managing director of J & T rubber plantation farm in Freetown, the economic capital city of Sierra-Leone. My father was poisoned to death by his business associates on one of their outings on a business trip …

… Now THAT’S a storyline I could get into! Rubber plantations? Sierra Leone? Poisoned to death by friends on business trip? Sounds like the makings of a great Lifetime movie right there, Eric. Sorry I can’t help you out with the whole foreign bank account thing, though. I can’t even figure out Chek-gard.

• So the county supervisors voted to extend the “extra” 1 percent sales tax through 2013? I’m pretty sure that when they sold us that bill of goods back in 2002, they said the increase would be only temporary – i.e. two or three years, not 11. Things that make you go hmm …

• Sad to hear about the fire that destroyed Sweet’s Station florist in West Edmeston. They were a great advertiser in our New Berlin Gazette for many years – I hope this doesn’t mean the end for them!

• Never fear, dear readers! The letters to Santa that were in the “Holiday Celebration Song Book” included in today’s paper weren’t the real Letters to Santa – they were just the ones from the kids of Snyder Communications employees. The “real” batch of letters from the Chenango populace will be in a special third section in Friday’s Evening Sun!

• I’ve gone far over my daily allotment of exclamation points.

Music to my ears

Thursday, December 16th, 2010
Brian Golden

In the last week or so I’ve come to truly appreciate the tiny pair of earphones I found while cleaning out the old house on Pratt Road (all in an effort to get Melissa to stop badgering me on my lack of furniture and other belongings in the new apartment). To my surprise, I’ve discovered that it’s actually possible for me to write and type while enjoying some music. In addition, doing so seems to have a calming influence as I continue to fight off that steadily decreasing urge to sneak over to the store for a pack of smokes (after nearly sixteen years I think I’m finally going to be able to kick this nasty habit).

One thing I have discovered, however, is that I can only fire up the tunes when writing certain things, namely blogs and my weekly column. For some odd reason, trying to write-up an actual news story is impossible for me while jamming to some good music. My ability to write creative or personal stories – while challenging in their own way – are not affected thus, and I’m curious as to why that is.

Maybe it’s because these two distinct forms of writing are so (at least to me) inherently different. A straight-ahead newspaper article requires – again, this is only my personal opinion – a tighter focus, which is the reason I avoid my recently-discovered earphones when I’m (at times) frantically trying to make deadline in the morning. In the past week though, I’ve noticed that my blogs (this will be my second) and column really flowed much more smoothly when I threw on some music. Maybe it’s simply due to the fact that, when writing opinion pieces, I’m creating rather than reporting. Seems logical, right?

Which brings me to my point.

I love this job for several reasons, but primarily it’s due to that balance between both styles of writing. While writing actual news stories I have the opportunity to get involved with the general public, meet all kinds of interesting people and learn all manner of things I never would have otherwise. The other, more personal kind of writing, on the other hand, gives me a chance to enjoy my creative side – which appeals to my musical and creative nature. Add to that the fact that I get to work in such a professional atmosphere, surrounded by fellow writers, and it’s no wonder I’ve enjoyed my time here at The Evening Sun so much.

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Wednesday, Dec. 15

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010
Patrick Newell

– Bob Branham has spent a large portion of his professional career as a teacher of physical education and a coach at Norwich. Branham will receive a much-deserved honor this Friday night before the varsity girls game against Susquehanna Valley when the 2010-2011 program is dedicated in his honor.
Branham guided Norwich’s girls to a Section IV title in 2006, his final season as a varsity basketball coach. Prior to that, Branham coached for several years on the lower levels of Norwich basketball – first with the boys, and later the girls. He always turned out fundamentally sound players who, under Branham’s guidance, were well prepared for the next level of basketball.

– “It was a great high school basketball game,” said Unatego coach Greg Bonczkowski Wednesday morning. “Bonz” had about 12 hours to reflect on the events of Tuesday night when his club dropped a 56-54 overtime final at Bainbridge-Guilford.
It was one of the all-time great comeback wins in my years of reporting as B-G made up a 16-point deficit in less than five minutes to force overtime, then outlasted the Spartans in a back-and-forth overtime period. “We played extremely well for a large portion of the game,” said Bonczkowski, who is a high school teacher at Norwich. “In the fourth quarter, they just turned it up a notch and started clicking.”
It was a seldom-used reserve, Amber DeGroat, who came off the bench to hit an innocent looking jumper to trim two points off Unatego’s 40-24 lead. From there, B-G’s furious rally was fueled by shotmaking not seen the first 27 minutes, tenacious offensive rebounding, and Unatego’s struggles at the foul line. The Spartans went 20-for-42 for the game from the charity stripe, but in the process of getting those foul shots, two B-G starters ultimately fouled out and were not available for any of the overtime period.
B-G had all of the momentum early in the OT taking a four-point lead. Unatego was able to tie the game up at 51-51, and after the Bobcats made 3-of-4 from the foul line, Sarah Mannina tied the game for Unatego one more time canning a clutch three-pointer with less than a minute to play. The Bobcats had the ball for a chance to take the lead for good, and made good on a short-range shot for the margin of victory.
“The bottom line is we played well enough to win a close gme on the road in a difficult place to play,” Bonczkowski said, who mentioned his team’s difficulties at the foul line and defensive rebounding. “We still had opportunities to come away with the victory, they just made one more play than we did at a crucial time in the game. I was very pleased with my team’s effort and intensity throughout the game. … If we play this way for the rest of the season, we’ll have a chance to be very competitive.”

Follow me on Twitter @evesunpat

Editor’s Notebook: 12/15/10

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010
Jeff Genung

• Another day, another $.95 …

• Looks like another delay for the long-anticipated Oxford bridge replacement project. No, “30 Seconds” crowd, the public is not in any immediate danger – the bridge is plenty strong enough to hold cars, it just needs replacing. When they do replace it, gone forever will be the truss system of girders which hang over it (or hold it up, rather, I’m no engineer). It’ll no doubt be replaced by something more modern, but I’ll miss the Oxford landmark. For those who know my older brother, he was the one who famously got his tongue stuck to one of those frozen beams (ala A Christmas Story). Thankfully I never did anything to contribute to Oxford lore.

• Brian Golden finally got to be a rock star – at Perry Browne. He performed for the kiddies yesterday as part of our “Delivering Christmas” series, and totally rocked the house, I hear. I’m sure if those kids had lighters …

• Putting the finishing touches on Friday’s Holiday Big Book as we speak – that’ll be the one in which we publish all the “Letters to Santa” we received this year (before sending them on to the North Pole, of course). As I mentioned yesterday, each kid got a personalized response from ol’ St. Nick, too. If that helps just one more child believe for another year …