Archive for January, 2011

Editor’s Notebook: 1/31/11

Monday, January 31st, 2011
Jeff Genung

• Monday, Monday … can’t trust that day …

• So I get to work this morning and not only has Melissa Stagnaro broken yet another coffee maker (good thing I bring mine from home), but also the AP Wire machine died overnight. Grrr. There’s an alternate way for us to get Associated Press copy to put on our state, national, world and sports pages of course, but it’s a pain in the neck. Not off to a good start.

• And then it got worse. An astute reader (followed by several others) filling out our “Progress Pursuit” quiz told me they couldn’t find the answer to Question 18, published Friday. That’s because it wasn’t in there, courtesy of yours truly. Melissa’s story on the NYS Vets’ Home in Oxford ran a little long, so I trimmed certain parts to fit it in one of the last sections of Progress – including, I discovered this morning, the part that answered the question! Great move, Ed. (If you’re curious, the question was “What agency awarded the New York State Veteran’s Home in Oxford its 2010 NYS Host Agency Champion Award on November 11, 2010?” The answer: Experience Works, formerly Green Thumb). We did cover that in the regular paper of course, but you wouldn’t have known that by reading the Progress story – so we voided the question. If you’re trying for that year’s supply of Chobani yogurt (entries must be postmarked on or by Feb. 1), just ignore Question 18! It’s already been voided from the online entry form, which you can find here. Sorry if you spent an inordinate amount of time searching for the answer!

• So I’ve already got my tickets for this Saturday’s show at the Chenango County Council of the Arts – the amazing vocal group m-pact. Haven’t heard of them? Me neither – but I bet not for long. Check out this YouTube video … and call 336-2787 to reserve your tickets for this weekend’s show!

Monday, Monday

Monday, January 31st, 2011
Melissa Stagnaro

Ah, Monday, most hated of days. Always striving to undermine our best intentions, sabotage our most productive plans.

When I stepped outside the door this morning and saw all that sparkling snow, I thought to myself, this will be a good day.

That giggly, girlish delight lasted precisely 28 minutes. At which point, I arrived at work to discover our coffee pot crisis was far from over. The new-to-us machine which had arrived on Friday to replace the no-longer-functioning previous piece of coffee making equipment wasn’t working. Even though we hadn’t used it yet.

For the record, I would like to state that while I accept full responsibility for the demise of our old coffee maker, I had no hand in the second one’s ruin. I never even touched it, I swear!

My protestations of innocence did not, however, stop Tyler from shooting me a look, after staring at said piece of non-functioning equipment, which communicated some very dark thoughts indeed.

I mean, imagine: Monday morning. Deadline. No coffee.

Grown men have wept over less.

Tyler came to the rescue, however, dipping into his emergency stash of instant coffee. They don’t call that stuff Taster’s Choice for nothing. It was sweet nectar on my tongue, and I felt compelled to celebrate this as a victory.

A bit premature, as it turned out, but I was as yet unaware that the cursed day had a few more tricks up her crafty little sleeve.

Take that, Monday! I thought, as I raised my Chobani yogurt-laden spoon to my mouth. Only to discover too late the cup in hand was long past its sell-by date. No one’s fault but my own, I assure you, since I found the aforementioned cup of yogurt lurking in the back of the fridge when I cleaned it out last week. I should have known it was too good to be true.

And, regrettably, it was all down hill from there. You see, I wasn’t the only one being targeted by the day’s evil machination – Monday had set its sights on the whole of The Evening Sun. First we discovered the fax machine had been out of paper all weekend. Then, we realized “the wire” – our AP server – was down.

And Monday wasn’t done with us yet. Around 10, phone calls and emails started coming in about one of the questions on the Progress Trivia list. It was one of mine, number 18, concerning the NYS Veteran’s Home in Oxford. Seems the paragraph containing the answer had ended up on the editing room floor, so to speak. Oopsie.

The question will now be a freebie for all who enter the contest. But in case you’re wondering, Experience Works is the agency which presented the Vet’s Home with its 2010 NYS Host Agency Champion Award this past year.

As Jeff was heard muttering, today is going to be a very long day.

So far I’ve managed to resist the urge to curl up in a little ball under my desk and sit the rest of it out. I categorically refuse to cede victory. I will persevere despite Monday’s best efforts to knock me out of the ring.

But man, do I wish I’d followed my coworker Brian Golden’s lead and taken today off.

With my luck, though, it would have just postponed the inevitable. Because, as we all know, the Tuesday after a three-day weekend always feels like a Monday.

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa.

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011

Saturday, January 29th, 2011
Patrick Newell

– If I had any personal ties to Norwich basketball, I would have likely lost a few hairs or seen some more gray amongst my bushy tresses. Friday night, the Tornado girls were in a seesaw battle with Owego, and the change of leads was like a tennis rally with each team using its volley to hit a clutch shot or drain a pivotal free throw. At last, Norwich fashioned a defensive stop in the final 10 seconds, and sealed the win with free throws.
Tonight, I was back at Norwich High School, and this time I actually had a view from the home side of the court. (Friday night, the bleachers were so packed in Jack Jones Gymnasium, that the only available space was amongst the Owego fans). Sitting two rows behind the Norwich bench, I watched Norwich coach Mark Abbott run his hands through his hair, while also witnessing several new looks of consternation from the NHS mentor for which I was not familiar. To be bluntly honest, Norwich’s offensive performance the first three quarters was the worst for my alma mater dating back to my rookie year with the paper in 1995. Norwich had 25 turnovers over the first three quarters and 27 points. Twenty-five turnovers in a game is not completely out of the realm of possibility, but for a team that came into the game with a 12-1 record, it seems difficult to fathom.
As you will read in Monday’s edition, Norwich made up for 24 minutes of lousy basketball with 12 minutes of pretty typical NHS hoops. The Norwich win also proves the point that basketball games are not won or lost in 24 minutes.

– I had to drop in a forthcoming quote in from Oxford wrestling coach Craig Tefft, who I spoke to Friday night after a dual meet tournament loss to Waverly. Mr. Tefft has presided over the Blackhawks’ program for five seasons, and until this year, the team gave up way too many forfeits to ever be competitive in dual meets. After seeing miniscule numbers out for the team for years, Oxford was rejuvenated this season winning 10 meets to earn a place in the Section IV dual meet tournament. This year’s Blackhawks have two outgoing seniors, Devin Depew and Clayton Audette. Both have proven stable influences on a young team this season, and each has had the fortitude and dedication to stick with a team that had no chance of winning anything until this year. “Those two have been the backbone of our program the last five years, and have held the team together when we had low numbers,” Tefft said. “It’s kind of sad. The numbers are picking up for us, and those two will no longer be with the program after this season.”

Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011

Thursday, January 27th, 2011
Patrick Newell

- Those who work behind the scenes at big events usually go unnoticed by the general public. Earlier today, Norwich Director of Athletics, Steve Griffin, phoned me to advise me of one particular individual who has been instrumental in the planning of the Tornado’s Coaches Versus Cancer fund-raising basketball games this Friday and Saturday. Griffin also let me know that in addition to the boys’ game on Saturday, the junior varsity and varsity girls will also be raising funds Friday night during their respective games at 6 and 7:45 p.m. against Owego. Although admission is not charged in girls’ basketball games, donation cans should be readily available at easy-to-locate spots. The Norwich Girls’ Basketball Booster Club will also donate its half of the 50/50 raffle to the American Cancer Society.
Griffin said that a lot of the credit to hold a Coaches Versus Cancer fundraiser should go to Norwich cheerleading coach, Marie DeSarro. DeSarro, for years now, has actively participated in the Relay For Life cancer fundraiser that is held in Norwich every summer. DeSarro suggested a Coaches Versus Cancer fundraiser to Griffin last year, and helped procure materials for the event. “Marie has also gotten her cheerleaders heavily involved with this,” Griffin said. “The cheerleaders have made up the signs for cancer awareness. Marie’s kind of taken the ‘bull by the horns.’”

- G-MU’s girls’ basketball coach, Jim Johnson, did not get his 400th career coaching victory Wednesday night against Franklin. No matter, Johnson will get that victory, and probably quite a few more. Johnson has patrolled the sideline at G-MU High School since the merger of Gilbertsville and Mt. Upton over 20 years ago. Before that, he served as the Gilbertsville varsity coach for many years. Johnson typically has a G-MU-logoed towel slung over his shoulder at the start of the game. Depending on the closeness of the contest, the towel either gets a light workout or is squeezed in Johnson’s vise-like grip. Most of the time, Johnson’s trusty towel has a relatively easy night. When your coaching career spans around three decades, a coach will accrue some victories. Johnson recently passed 600 varsity games coached, and his 66 percent winning percentage speaks for itself. Johnson has never had more than a small pool of athletes with which to work. With such a tiny student population, talent isn’t merely a cyclical thing, it can be downright elusive – for years at a time. Yet, Johnson regularly produces a winning team. I cannot think of more than one or possibly two times over the past 16 seasons that the Raiders weren’t a 500-or-better club. My first few years writing for the paper, G-MU’s girls were in the Tri-Valley League championship game so often, I thought their appearance in the game – year to year – was a foregone conclusion. Friday night, Johnson takes the Raiders over to Franklin in a rematch of this past Wednesday’s matchup. Franklin denied Johnson and his charges one time, but I wouldn’t bet on that happening again.

- Typically, I don’t give advance notice of our athlete of the week honoree. I’ll make an exception here with the naming of Oxford’s Haley Witchella. Witchella was an easy choice for us. Last week, Witchella helped her team to three key league wins averaging 21 points, and in the win over Sidney last Friday, she became just the third girl in Oxford history to surpass 1,000 career points. Witchella’s combination of size, speed, and leaping ability are reminiscent of Norwich graduate Johanna Schultz – also a six-footer, who topped 1,000 career points in 1998. Schultz didn’t block as many shots as Witchella, but had a little more polish on her all-around offensive game. Witchella is also the ultimate anchor for her team’s defense, and has made the Blackhawks one of the best defensive teams in the Midstate Athletic Conference during her four years on varsity. One gets the sense that Witchella still has plenty more talent to tap into, and she should have no trouble making the leap to the college level next year.

Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat

Editor’s Notebook: 1/27/11

Thursday, January 27th, 2011
Jeff Genung

• “Hey, you know that thing I just sent you to put in the paper? Can you tell me exactly what issue it will be in? I don’t subscribe to the paper and don’t want to have to buy it every day!” I’m sure people have no idea how insulting this is, but I get it far too frequently. The simple answer? No, I will not. And in fact now that you’ve said that, I will probably hold off putting that “thing” in the paper as long as possible, forcing you to plunk down your 75 cents every day until it appears. Because I’m vindictive that way.

• Part IV of our seven-part “Boon or Bust?” series on natural gas drilling appears in today’s edition, this installment by Melissa Stagnaro and focusing on the agricultural sector, as seen through the eyes of those in and around Dimock, Pa. It’s an interesting read. There’s certainly a lot to consider on this far-reaching issue.

• How cool is it that Gladding Braided Products is going to be on the History Channel’s “Modern Marvels” tomorrow night? I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve had no intention whatsoever of watching this show, yet got completely sucked into it while channel surfing. It’s mostly about stuff you’d never think about, in the “How do they do that?” category – which is exactly where South Ot’s Gladding comes in. And here I thought they just made fishing line (turns out they don’t, anymore). Set your DVRs for 9 p.m. and see a hometown company put us on the map.

• And speaking of cool, how about Norwich’s own Kati Williams? She’s the student manager of the Colgate women’s hockey team and, it turns out, the inspiration behind their Autism awareness events this weekend.

Editor’s Notebook: 1/26/11

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011
Jeff Genung

• Been a while, I know. Putting the final touches on our Progress Chenango 2011 editions had me behind the eight ball this week, but I can now proudly put a -30- on that one. Done and done. My edict forbidding even the word “progress” to be spoken aloud in The Evening Sun newsroom is in effect until after Thanksgiving.

• For me it’s over, but for you – you’re smack dab in the middle of Progress Chenango 2011, with sections 5 and 6 appearing in today’s Evening Sun. I hope you like what you’ve seen and read so far; feedback has been enormously positive and encouraging, thank you.

• Need even more incentive to read through this hefty tome of Chenango’s Progress? How about a year’s supply of yogurt? That’s right, we’ve partnered with Agro Farma, makers of the to-die-for Chobani yogurt, to sponsor a Progress readership contest. Every day this week, there’s an ad in Progress (and the regular print edition) with four “trivia” questions you can only answer by reading the Progress stories. Add ‘em all up at the end of the week and those who’ve answered all the questions correctly will be entered into a drawing to win a year’s supply of Chobani. Good read and good eats – can’t say we don’t treat you well here at Chenango County’s Hometown Daily.

• And with that, I’m done writing about Progress.

A true Marvel

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011
Brian Golden

Tuesday night found this mild-mannered newspaper reporter having an extremely enjoyable conversation with his step-dad on a successful weekend of recording with the Syracuse-based Master Thieves (my primary band these days). After regaling him with tales of the surprisingly good tone I had managed to pull out of a vintage 1960’s blackface Fender Deluxe – partnered with a lovely four-ten Marshall cabinet – we wound up discussing my column for this week.

For those of you who haven’t, couldn’t or didn’t read my weekly opinion piece today, titled “Downright comical,” I addressed Marvel Comics’ recent decision to kill off one of the Fantastic Four’s founding members, the Human Torch.

The reason my stepfather and I spent the better part of a half-an-hour discussing Marvels’ original quartet of super-heroes was really quite simple – back in November of 1961, nearly 50 years ago – my step-dad purchased a copy of Fantastic Four #1, from the lower village store in Cincinnatus, NY.

While he wasn’t certain, he believed the comic cost him a whopping 10 cents. A little research determined that he was absolutely correct with that figure. The same book today, depending on its condition, would go for anywhere between $20,000 and $50,000.

My step-dad, however, sold the comic – along with a number of others – back in the mid-1980’s. His reason? So he could purchase Christmas gifts for my mother and I that year.

That story, in turn, led to another equally special Marvel Comics tale of his. As a young teenager, relegated to bed-rest in a Florida hospital, my stepfather had written the legendary Stan Lee (co-creator of Marvels’ most popular titles in the day) on his sickness and the disappointment he felt in being unable to pick up the latest Sergeant Fury comic. A week later and he’d received a personal copy of the book with a hand-written note from Mr. Lee which simply stated, “Get well soon.”

My love of comics can be directly attributed to my step-dad, as can my love of guitar, the blues and rock-n-roll. When I read of Marvels’ plan to disband the Fantastic Four through the death of an original member, I knew I had to write about it. It may seem silly compared to the many evils and challenges facing our country at this time, but it struck a chord with me just knowing that one day, nearly half-a-century ago, my stepfather walked into a Cincinnatus store and, for a dime, purchased a true piece of American history.

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011
Patrick Newell

For all intents and purposes, wrestling’s postseason began this past weekend at the Southern Tier Athletic Conference Championships, and the Midstate Athletic Conference Championships. All told, 13 Chenango County wrestlers won league championships, and nearly a dozen more reached the finals. B-G/Afton appears to have ascended to the top of our unofficial poll as the top wrestling team in Chenango County. The Bears beat Greene last week by one point in a battle of state-ranked outfits, and followed that up with a comfortable margin victory at the MAC tourney. Unbeaten this year, the Bears earned a bye at this weekend’s Section IV Dual Meet Tournament. Greene, Norwich, and Oxford also made the tournament with the aim of building on their strong seasons. “This year has been kind of crazy in our section,” said B-G/Afton coach Brandon MacNaught of his number one seeded team. “Unlike the last couple of years, I think six teams could win it this year. Some teams we match up better with than others.” Greene and Norwich square off on Saturday, and Oxford visits Waverly Friday at 6 p.m. with the winner facing B-G/A on Saturday.

Oxford’s girls’ basketball team has steadily moved up the ladder in the MAC standings, and is now one of the top three teams in the league as it heads into the final weeks of the regular season. The MAC changed its divisional alignment this year and playoff format. The league is now one division with every team facing the other one time in division play. Over the past few years, the strength of one division has often swung one division’s way or the another, and good teams have been left out of the playoff mix. In the current format, the top four teams overall are guaranteed a postseason spot. Last season, Oxford was probably one of the top four teams, but lost a division playoff – and a shot at a league championship – after losing a division playoff to Harpursville. After a midseason slump, Oxford has won six games in a row to put itself in contention. Oxford head coach Chris Palmer felt his team would have an excellent chance to win any game if it averaged around 50 points a game, and his point rings true. In the Blackhawks’ 10 wins, they average 47.3 points per game. In the three losses, Oxford is hearing more clanks of iron rather than the whoosh of a ball clearing the net averaging less than 30 points per game.

Through Monday, Jan. 24, 2011, here are the best individual scoring performances for area basketball players:
35–Jon Foulds, Norwich, Dec. 29, 2010 vs. Delhi; Jeff Pittsley, Otselic Valley, Dec. 11, 2010 vs. Tyburn Academy.
29–Dennis Oralls, Norwich, Dec. 3, 2010 vs. Chenango Valley.
28–DeMario Reed, G-MU, Jan. 21, 2011 vs. Schenevus; Jon Foulds, Dec. 30, 2010 vs. Greene; Jeff Pittsley, Jan. 21, 2011 vs. DeRuyter.
32–Cassie Beaver, S-E, Jan. 20, 2011 vs. Sauquoit Valley.
30–Haley Witchella, Oxford, Jan. 14, 2011 vs. Unadilla Valley
28–Tanya Barnes, G-MU, Dec. 10, 2010 vs. Deposit
27–Hannah Runyon, Norwich, Jan. 14, 2011 vs. Seton Catholic Central
27–Shania Vandermark, B-G, Jan. 20, 2011 vs. Unadilla Valley

Baby, it’s cold outside

Monday, January 24th, 2011
Melissa Stagnaro

It was 18 below zero this morning in Smithville Center, or as one of my friends likes to refer to it, Southwest Tyner. Thanks to the cozy warmth of the wood stove, I didn’t feel it until I stepped outside. But as soon as I ventured beyond the front door, the full force of the sub-zero temp hit me. The cold air filled my lungs, stung my cheeks and, despite the layers I was wearing, permeated my clothes. Even the crunch of the snow beneath my feet sounded different. Crunchier, some how.

I held my breath as I turned the key in my ignition, and sighed in relief when the engine turned over immediately. This is our first winter together, Mrs. Peel and I, and I wasn’t sure how she’d take the cold.

I figured I’d let her run for a minute, before pulling out of the drive, and took the opportunity to survey the frigid world around me. Stars shone brilliantly against a backdrop of deepest blue overhead. The pale light of the waning gibbous moon reflected on the unbroken snow.

It was breathtaking. Almost literally, actually, because of the extreme cold

There were a lot of people griping this morning about the super low temps, but I wasn’t one of them. (Of course, if Mrs. Peel hadn’t been quite so cooperative, I might have been singing a different tune.) As long as the car starts and the pipes aren’t frozen, I don’t mind the cold. In fact, I go as far as to venture these last four days have been the most beautiful we’ve seen this winter. I can forgive a lot – even over night temperatures dipping into the sub zero range – when the daytime skies are a crisp clear blue and the winter sun transforms the snow blanketing our rolling hills into sparkling diamonds. It’s my favorite time to go tromping in the woods on my snow shoes. (Properly layered up of course.)

The nights are so beautiful too, with the riot of stars shining overhead. Looking at them, filling my lungs with that crisp, cold air, I can’t help feel alive, invigorated and in total awe of the universe.

Of course, if you’ve got someone (furry or otherwise) to snuggle up with after venturing out in the cold, all the better.

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa.

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011

Thursday, January 20th, 2011
Patrick Newell

– I just received the preliminary information on a football tournament that is scheduled for August this year. It is the 2011 Chenango County Pigskin Classic, a 7-on-7 tournament that hopes to become a “Gus Macker” type of event – only for football. We’ll have further information about the tourney and a story with event organizers Ed Holmquist and Steve Franklin in the near future. Here are a few nuggets of information about the games: Play is on a regulation 45-yard field (160 feet wide) with 10-yard endzones with 15-yard increments for first downs. Game play is passing only with no running plays and no blocking allowed. Of note, the first year of the tournament is limited to the first 12 teams to register. Plans are to expand the tournament in ensuing years. For more details, contact Franklin at 607-316-7724 or Holmquist at 607-316-8745.

– G-MU’s boys suffered loss number one on the season Wednesday night losing to Richfield Springs, a team with a record hovering around the .500 mark. Bill Hartman, coach of the Raiders, said many times during our phone conversations that even though his team was winning games, it still had many areas in which in needed to improve. He was pleasantly surprised and upbeat about the team’s unbeaten record, and wherewithal to making winning plays at crunch time. Now that the unbeaten mark has gone by the wayside, his team is tasked with winning its division and playing for a league title.

– Unadilla Valley’s boys’ basketball team has a modest record (4-8 overall), but this is a team that is much improved over the past couple of seasons. The Storm had one of the premier teams in the Midstate Athletic Conference for much of the last decade, and won back-to-back league championships in 2006 and 2007. The victory totals slumped to six in 2008 and just two last year. A few more wins this year are possible for UV, and four of the five leading scorers this year are underclassmen. With the flip of the calendar, UV has won three of its last four games, and was competitive in that lone defeat.

– The state wrestling championships, scheduled again this year at the Times Union Center in Albany, are about five weeks away. Coming down the pike are league championship tournaments, the class tournaments, and in three weeks, the Section IV large and small school championships. Occasionally we play the prognostication game, and I am throwing out some early picks as contenders for sectional championships. 96-Joe Nelson, Oxford. He has two losses in the last week, but is 24-3 overall, and should place high in the small school division. 112-Tristan Rifanburg, Norwich. He’s a defending state champion, and despite two losses this season, certainly is a threat to win any tournament he enters. 119–Frankie Garcia, Norwich. A sectional finalist last year, also with just two losses. 125–Danny Gormley, B-G/Afton. He is a four-time defending Section IV champion. 130–Tanner Cummings, Norwich. We think he is ready to challenge for a section title. 135–Cory Burnett, B-G/Afton. Fresh off an impressive win over Greene’s Dan Dickman. He may be peaking at the right time. 145-Mike Beckwith, Greene. A defending sectional champion. 152-Greg DuVall, S-E. DuVall has made three appearances at the state tournament, and is the number one ranked wrestler in his weight class in Section III. 160-Paul Parsons, B-G/Afton. A gritty veteran who seems to win or place high in every tournament he enters. 171-Vinnie Buttice, B-G/Afton. Buttice was a number one seed last year in sectionals, but placed second. He should be the favorite this year. 189-Kurt Shear, Greene. Shear lost to Lansing’s Ryan Todd in last year’s finals. He avenged that loss earlier this year, and is the man to beat at this point. 215–Kyle Stanton, Greene. Stanton owns two victories this year over the likely number two seed, Kegan Levesque of Norwich.

Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat