Archive for January, 2011

Sports Editor’s playbook, Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011
Patrick Newell

– Robb Munro has developed a reputation over the past few years for developing track and field athletes to their high school potential. The B-G/Afton mentor has built a solid program in which his boys and girls have been among the best teams in the Midstate Athletic Conference the past few years. Munro’s infectious enthusiasm for the sport and dedication have not gone unnoticed, and over the past two years, Greene standout runner, Chad Noelle, and Oxford sprinters Emily and Katie Woodford have joined the B-G/A team for winter indoor track and field.
As a junior last winter, Noelle trained with Munro to prepare for the outdoor season. Noelle was third in the state as a sophomore, so he was already pretty good. After one track season with Munro, Noelle became a Section IV recordholder in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters, and was a two-time Division II state champion in each event.
The Woodfords joined Munro’s charges a few weeks ago, and are already seeing progress, Munro said. Each runner is approaching indoor Section IV records as Munro has refined their techniques. Having the Woodfords on the roster has proved mutually beneficial, Munro said, who has his own corps of excellent young runners competing as B-G/A team members. “In terms of what we get out of it, having the Woodfords is valuable to me as a coach,” Munro said. “I have five or six talented young girls, and to have talented older girls as role models…these two (the Woodfords) are really high-level athletes my younger kids can aspire to be. My kids have learned that it’s okay to take it serious and to invest in the sport. It’s awesome having the Woodfords around.”

– G-MU’s boys are off to a 7-0 start under head basketball coach Bill Hartman. Aside from a young team getting a year of varsity experience under its belt, one of the biggest differences between this year’s club and the one that finished 6-11 a year ago is the Raiders’ poise in tight games. Instead of losing most of the tight games, G-MU is finding ways to win. In those seven victories, five have come by eight points or less, and three by three points or less. A season ago, G-MU went 3-5 in games decided by eight points or less. “We haven’t made the critical errors at late stages of games that have come back to bite us,” Hartman said. “We’re starting to get the inside-outside play, and we’re not as one-dimensional as we were three weeks ago. Most of our points were coming from Cotton (Eddie Ray) and Edwards (Ian). Scofield (Jon) is starting to come around and is understanding the interior game. It’s providing us with nice balance, and I felt from the beginning, that would be our strength. It’s proving to be so.”

– With some apologies to the Beatles, “I got by with a little help from my friends” Monday morning. “Friends” in the general sense, being our readers. Friday, Jan. 7, inclement weather – more aptly the threat of a bad storm – canceled about 80 percent of the sports schedule including the two games we planned to feature photographically. With four sports pages to fill on Mondays, I rely on local photos to dress up the pages instead of integrating solely national photos. Coming to the rescue this weekend were supporters of Sherburne-Earlville wrestling and Oxford volleyball. I received group photos of each team, and combined with a leftover Norwich wrestling senior recognition picture, I was able to present a local flavor pictorially on three of the four pages.
In case you haven’t looked carefully at the sports pages, at least two to three times a week, a small advertisement appears at the bottom of page 13. In it, we ask that our readers, attending varsity games, to please feel free to submit photos of sports events. Getting a quality action shot is hit or miss, especially with the standard digital cameras you find at department stores; however, a static group shot is well within the capabilities of just about any amateur photog. So, if you’re at a sporting event, and something interesting happens, snap away and shoot an e-mail to me with the photo and caption information at pnewell@evesun.com. If your picture is in focus, and it isn’t something starkly similar to a previous photo we printed, it’ll probably find its way into the paper within a day or two.

Follow me on Twitter @evesunpat

Editor’s Notebook: 1/10/11

Monday, January 10th, 2011
Jeff Genung

• Fair Warning: The editorial deadline for our annual Progress Chenango series of special sections is this Friday, Jan. 14. What that means for the casual reader is a plethora of blogs, columns, tweets and whines from my trusty reporting staff about how busy they are this week.

• Fair Warning II: Once their deadline has passed, my week of hell begins. Expect the same from me, only a week later.

• Even though it’s crunch time at the good ol’ ES, we really are excited to bring you Progress Chenango 2011 – coming to a newsstand (or computer screen) near you from Monday, Jan. 24 to Friday, Jan. 28. We’ve got some great stories and ads from Chenango County’s finest this year – it’s definitely a must-read.

• Congratulations to the Chenango United Way for coming thisclose to meeting their goal for this year’s campaign – quite a feat considering the state of the economy. And the real encouraging news, according to Brian’s story today, is that more people gave this time around than in past years.

• So a couple guys in Sherburne thought it was a good idea to pour gasoline down a sink (next to a hot water heater) and torched their apartment. More proof that Darwin was right.

• Stories We Probably Won’t Get to Because of Progress: Got a letter today from a gent in the UK who claims that Mark David Chapman didn’t really kill John Lennon – at least knowingly. He wants The Evening Sun to launch an investigation, but I’m not sure we’ll get around to it. Seems there’s a yogi over on that side of the pond who can impose his will on the minds of innocents and make him do their bidding. Apparently there was some sort of trouble at an ashram with John, Paul, George and Ringo in the late ‘60s, and this Jedi Master guy has been PO’d ever since, causing all the chaos and tragedy in the lives of the Beatles. Guess that explains “Caveman.”

Editor’s Notebook: 1/7/11

Friday, January 7th, 2011
Jeff Genung

• My column today is all about Letters to the Editor (that would be me) and how to write them. Read it here, then sit down and fire one off! We get a lot of them as it is, but I’d be happy to make room for more. Sure ‘30 Seconds’ is more fun, but do you really take it seriously?

• Please tell me you don’t, or I will cry.

• The Village of Oxford will have three seats up for grabs in this spring’s elections – one for mayor and two for trustees. Hopefully this advance-notice story in today’s paper will prompt some people to run for office and get some voters to … vote. 58 people voted last year? Really? Sorry Oxfordians, a 4 percent turnout is pretty pathetic.

• Was I the only one fooled by that “story” going around on Facebook earlier this week about the Snowstorm to End All Snowstorms that was gonna happen this weekend? Looking out my office window right now, my trained meteorologist’s eye (I won’t tell you what other parts I have from him) tells me it snowed about an inch. Good thing I stocked up on bottled water, Spam and tin foil.

• I actually like Spam. With those Betty Crocked au gratin potatoes? Yumm. Just like Mom used to make.

• Can you tell it’s Friday? This blog is going absolutely nowhere.

• Insert pithy bullet point here. See you Monday.

Full disclosure

Friday, January 7th, 2011
Melissa Stagnaro

We all have our dirty little secrets, right? Those quirks and habits we try to keep to ourselves for fear of how people would look at you if they knew.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. What could I possibly have to reveal that I haven’t already? After all, I’ve done a fairly good job of plastering my personal life (& that of basically everyone I know) all over the blogosphere. In some cases, I’ve probably over-shared. Okay, maybe in most cases. But, I assure you, I’ve kept a few things in reserve.

Why this sudden desire? I guess you can blame the whole New Year, new attitude craze. I didn’t make any formal resolutions, but I did make a few promises to myself. One of them was to be true to “me.” And the only way to do that is to embrace rather than eschew all those little quirks and flaws that make me who I am.

So, in the interest of full disclosure, here are 25 things most people don’t know about me.

1. Singing along to the radio is almost a compulsion for me and, quite frankly, it doesn’t matter whether I know the words. I don’t really care if I have an audience, so it’s not the singing I’m embarrassed about. No, my dirty little secret is that I’m completely incapable of remembering the title of any song. Ditto for who sings it. And the worst part is that – for whatever reason – I’m insecure about it. I break out in a cold sweat just thinking about someone quizzing me.

2. Speaking of music, I might as well reveal this embarrassing little fact as well. I’m a huge fan of Katy Parry. AND Taylor Swift. Phew. Feels good to get that off my chest!

3. Everyone has movies they love to watch over and over again. “You’ve Got Mail,” with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, is one of mine. I’ve also previously admitted to having seen “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” so many times that I knew every single word of dialog, and every musical number. But there’s another movie I can’t pass up watching. “White Chicks.” I just can’t help myself. It cracks me up every single time.

4. It’s no secret that I love to read. Fiction is my preferred diversion, and I’m a huge fan of the literary classics. I also happen to have an obsession with chick lit, particularly of the paranormal variety. But I have an even guiltier pleasure: romance novels. I was practically weaned on Harlequin Romances, which I used to filch from my mom’s collection without her knowledge. While I don’t read them any more, there is one romance author to whom I remain undyingly faithful. Jude Deveraux.

5. Literary confession #2: Another of my favorite authors? Clive Cussler.

6. Literary confession #3: I’ve never read Little Women. Shocking, I know!

7. I can’t whistle.

8. I was 18 before I learned how to light a lighter.

9. Sometimes I still have trouble using keys.

10. My entire body is ticklish.

11. I am physically unable to tuck in a shirt.

12. I’m incredibly insecure about my ankles. And my earlobes.

13. I’m probably the only female between the ages of 18 and 65 to go to New Orleans for New Years and not “win” any beads.

14. Thus far in my life I have I have avoided showering in a communal setting. And I’d like to keep it that way.

15. I cannot work out without brushing my teeth first. I have no idea why.

16. I have some weird sensitivity to echinacea. Other people take it to ward off colds, but it kind of makes me hallucinate.

17. I’m allergic to Keflex, the antibiotic they usually give to people who are allergic to everything else.

18. My friends watch me like a hawk around pineapple. I developed an allergy to this wonderful tropical fruit while I was in college, but sometimes I choose to forget that fact. Particularly when faced with a frosty tropical cocktail. Breathing is overrated, right?

19. I’ve been to China, but never to Pitcher.

20. You never, ever want to play Trivial Pursuit with me.

21. I know far too much about bowling. (Although you’d never know it by the way I bowl.)

22. I have a general disdain for people who can’t discern the difference between butter and margarine. Ditto, between mayonnaise and Miracle Whip. And I thoroughly distrust anyone who professes not to like chocolate. That’s just simply unnatural.

23. I’ve only been to two big concerts in my life.

24. I’m ever-so-slightly claustrophobic, but my big fear is to be stranded in the middle of the ocean. Or, God forbid, trapped under the ocean.

And…

25. I’ve got the neediest little ego and am still secretly thrilled whenever someone, anyone makes mention of something I’ve written.

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa.

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Friday, Jan. 7, 2011

Friday, January 7th, 2011
Patrick Newell

– Today’s Athlete of the Week is the third in a line of Conway girls playing for their uncle, Bob Conway, longtime head coach of the B-G varsity team. Randi Conway, a junior, follows Dani Conway and Nikki Conway, a bridge of Conways that has extended most the past decade. Nikki played on some really good Bobcats teams in the early part of the decade, Dani finished a standout varsity career two years ago, and with over 1,500 career points, is among the top five or six all-time girls’ basketball scorers in Chenango County history.
Randi, as our article’s headline states, is “coming into her own.” Head coach Bob Conway says that the youngest Conway has many of the same offensive skills as her sister Dani. Perhaps the biggest difference between the two is their respective heights. Dani is around 6-feet tall and was a double-digit rebounder, while Randi is about five inches shorter. Randi is the more intense man-to-man defender, coach Conway said, who is pleased nonetheless to have had all three of his nieces under his direction. To many people, Randi had some big shoes to fill with Dani’s graduation in 2009. She had the opportunity to play with her sister for one season, and is steadily bearing a similar resemblance to her sister’s offensive prowess. “I don’t think (what Dani accomplished) affects Randi at all,” coach Conway said. “Dani was a great scorer and passer, and Randy has all of those abilities to score and pass. She doesn’t worry what her sisters have done, she just plays the game and enjoys the game.”

– Earlier this week, Bob Conway’s team suffered its first defeat of the season losing to Harpursville by 18 points. In the contest, the Hornets’ Hannah Kimmel scored 34 points to lead her club. Conway said he was resigned before the game to the fact that Kimmel would probably get her 30. An interesting fact, though, is that while Kimmel is typically tossing in huge numbers against just about everyone, the standout senior has fallen far short of that mark against Oxford. Earlier this season, Kimmel had 15 against the Blackhawks (her team won by 15), about half of her season average. Last season, in three games against Oxford, Kimmel was also below her season average tossing in just under 20 points a game as Harpursville won two of three meetings. “Oxford is just really physical and it battles,” Conway said of the Blackhawks. “They limit (Kimmel’s) opportunities in the paint, and (Oxford) has Haley Witchella, who covers an extra two or three feet. For some reason, the last three or four years, Everyone is having trouble scoring points at Oxford’s place. It’s not just one team or one player, it’s the whole league.”
Doing the math, Oxford gave up just over 30 points per game on its home floor last season, and it allowed 26 points in its lone home contest this season. Those types of defensive numbers typically produce victories, and Oxford is a combined 22-8 overall between last season and the first nine games this season.

Follow me on Twitter @evesunpat

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011
Patrick Newell

– Monday and Tuesday nights, I took in games that featured the only remaining unbeaten basketball teams in Chenango County. Monday, Norwich was able to extend its unbeaten record to 9-0 winning at Oneonta, and on Tuesday, G-MU matched its six wins of last year pulling away from Harpursville to stay perfect on the season. The two schools have done nothing but win, but the way each club has gone about depositing those games in the victory bank is much different. You might equate Norwich, in financial terms, as a blue-chip, high-interest-bearing stock, while the Raiders are your typical steady earner that yields a pleasant quarterly dividend.
The Tornado offense is the trendy Dribble-Drive Motion Offense popularized a few years ago by former Memphis coach John Calipari. The offense requires excellent dribble penetration to generate close-range shots, draw fouls on defenders or lead to kick-out passes to wide-open teammates as the heart of a defense collapses around a penetrating guard or forward. The past two years, Norwich has flourished in the offense winning a Section IV crown in 2009 while finishing as a runner-up in the sectional finals last season. Norwich is off to another great start and is poised to make another run at a sectional championship later this winter.
G-MU’s offense is more conservative, and is based on fundamental offensive sets, player motion, screens, and working the offense from the inside out. Option number one for the Raiders is to get the ball to the inside post player or find a teammate cutting to the basket for a layup. As the shot clock winds down, the range of the shot attempt extends from short to middle to long range. Unless a player is completely wide-open, you will almost never see a Raiders player shoot a three-pointer early in the 35-second shot clock. Under head coach Bill Hartman, G-MU is content to stay patient on offense, and it plays tremendous halfcourt defense. Despite sporting a green roster that had one senior starter last year, the Raiders only gave up 43 points a game in finishing with a 6-11 record. The downside is that G-MU had trouble scoring points. This season, Hartman has his team putting a few more points on the board while giving up less than 35 points a game.
Be it an old-school formula (G-MU) or a newfangled, flashy offense (Norwich), at the end of 32 minutes of play, every win looks the same in the record books.

– Any night of the week, the possibility exists that I will report on a sporting event in which something completely unique happens. Such an occurrence happened Tuesday night when Otselic Valley’s longtime coach, Ron Graham, phoned in a result from the Vikings’ basketball game against the Tyburn Academy girls. Final score: OV 50, Tyburn Academy 2. The two points is the lowest total I have ever printed for a varsity basketball game, and Tyburn Academy did not make a single field goal the entire game. It was limited to single free throws in the first and fourth quarters. Graham will be the first to say that his team is not a juggernaut this season. In fact, his club was coming off its worst loss of the season, a 65-19 shellacking to Morris on Dec. 30. Graham summed up both outcomes: “There’s not much you can say when you lose a game like we did to Morris, and there’s not much you can say when you win a game like we did tonight.”

Follow me on Twitter @evesunpat

The Empire (State) Strikes Back

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011
Melissa Stagnaro

Did I imagine that? Or did New York’s new governor actually work references to a popular board game and Star Wars into his first State of the State address?

I’m not going to lie. After watching the live internet feed of the address, I’ve got that same trippy feeling right now as I did after watching The Doors movie for the first time. Not that it was a bad speech by any means. Just a definite departure from the norm.

And I guess that was the whole point. Andrew Cuomo made it pretty clear his goal is to give a major overhaul Albany as it’s never been overhauled before.

As any good 12 step program will tell you, the first step is admitting you have a problem. And that’s just what Cuomo did at the beginning of his address, outlining the dismal state of affairs in this once great state. Which he illustrated in a series of colorful Powerpoint slides.

It’s grim all right. Cuomo said unemployment is at a 26-year high. Taxes are driving businesses and residents out. New York spends more on education than any other state, but ranks 34th in terms of achievement. $1.6 billion is spent on economic development, but we’re 50th in terms of results. What are we first in? The amount we spend on Medicaid. He even went so far as to admit Upstate is in an economic crisis – with growth substantially lower than the national average.

“We need radical reform,” he said, not “rhetorical solutions.” And it won’t be easily. In fact, Cuomo said returning the Empire State to its former glory will require a “fundamental re-alignment.” He’s talking sweeping reforms to everything from education and economic development to Medicaid, plus reducing spending and reduce the overall size of the state government itself by some 20 percent.

He also wants to do something about taxes, and spread the word that New York is “open for business.”

“New York has no future as the ‘tax capital of America,” he explained.

Cuomo also talked about the budget process, comparing it to ships passing in the night. And not in the poetic way Longfellow, who he cribbed the line from, probably intended. No, this point in the Powerpoint had a decidedly “Battleship” feel. Especially when a plane he identified as special interest groups started firing on the ships in question. Prompting him to utter a line I hadn’t heard since the last family game night, and never, ever thought I’d hear from the lips of our state’s top leader.

That’s right: “You sunk my battleship.” Or maybe it was “budget ship,” I can’t really be sure. Because I was in too much of a state of shock.

I came to just in time to hear him say that today was one which would go down in history as the day the Empire State started striking back.

In case anyone missed the Star Wars reference, the corresponding Powerpoint slide depicted a mock New York license plate reading, of course, Empire State Strikes Back.

Yeah. I’m just going to process that for awhile.

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa.

Editor’s Notebook: 1/5/11

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011
Jeff Genung

• So a police sketch artist released a depiction of the suspect in Monday’s New Berlin Liquors robbery, which we published today. I don’t want to cast aspersions, but it looks to me like a certain local Twitter addict … (Just seeing if you’re still reading!)

• Tomorrow is the start of our seven-part series on natural gas drilling, as seen through the lens of a recent Evening Sun staff trip to Dimock and Montrose, Pa., where they’re deep in the frackin’ Marcellus. Melissa deCordova gives us the first installment, describing the scope of the series and the current state of affairs. Even though Chenango isn’t nearly as involved in the gas drilling biz as they are in Pa. – yet – I think it’s a pretty interesting comparison. Look for this series, “Boon or Bust?” on the front page of The Evening Sun on Thursdays.

• On the first Wednesday of every month, we at Snyder Communications endure … err, celebrate … what’s known colloquially as “Birthday Cake,” wherein we mark birthdays and anniversaries for the upcoming month, and share news among our many divisions. The big news today? Our esteemed colleague, longtime Pennysaver advertising consultant Keith May, is leaving us next week after 28 years in the trenches. He’ll be taking on a new role at Sidney Federal Credit Union, and we couldn’t be happier for him, though he’ll be sorely missed. Hey Keith — you know who was just asking about you the other day? No one. :)

• I must also note here for the record that there was in fact no cake at “Birthday Cake.” Fresh fruit? Really? Stop trying to make me healthier; it’s not going to work.

Editor’s Notebook: 1/4/11

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011
Jeff Genung

• I don’t like the smell of lemon pepper tuna, yet Ms. Stagnaro continues to devour it in the office. She tests me …

• Often when I’m reading the Associated Press news content for the day’s edition in the morning, I’m disturbed by developments here and around the world. This morning I came across one that shook me to my very core – no, not the thousands of birds dying mysteriously in Arkansas, or the ongoing turmoil with Laurent Gbagbo in the Ivory Coast – Justin Bieber suffers from insomnia! Christ on a crutch, as my dearly departed mother would say. The 16-year-old pop-superstar-cum-Antichrist told Vanity Fair he has trouble sleeping at night because his mind’s racing with all the things he doesn’t have time to think about during the day – “like family and God.” Are you really thinking about God, Justin, or ways to unseat him from his Heavenly throne?

• In related news, a religious cult in North Carolina is predicting the End of Days. Specifically, on May 21, 2011.

Editor’s Notebook: 1/3/11

Monday, January 3rd, 2011
Jeff Genung

• Happy New Year! Here’s looking forward to another year of sturm und drang in the hills of Chenango County …

• Frank got some great shots of the rally held Friday up at Rogers Environmental Education Center in Sherburne – and I published them all in our Facebook gallery. The shots of the protesters lying in the road stirred a lot of flak there and on ‘30 Seconds.’ Clearly, they did it for the benefit of the media that was there (TV mostly, but Frank too, I’m sure). While some were stopping cars to ask for a four cent donation, the prostrating themselves in the road thing didn’t last too long, and didn’t block traffic. Much like that poor girl who had herself tied to the Rogers sign – it was a symbolic gesture. The state’s closing Rogers, not bulldozing it!

• On a completely unrelated note and because I seem devoid of bullet-point topics this afternoon, I saw “Inception” over the weekend. Dare I call it brilliant? I love movies that hurt your head just a little bit. Makes me want to go fashion myself a talisman in case I’m dreaming all of this …