Archive for June, 2011

Flood watch

Monday, June 27th, 2011
Melissa Stagnaro

I started grumbling as soon as I heard the short blast of the air horn. Every golfer knows that sound, which heralds the premature end to a round of golf due to Mother Nature’s vagaries.

Not that I wasn’t expecting it. It was Thursday, after all, the night of my weekly golf league. It always seems to rain on golf night. And there have been no half ways in our weather lately. It’s either gorgeous, sunny days or torrential downpours, nothing in between.

We were just finishing up our fifth hole, the fourteenth, since we were playing Canasawacta’s back nine. Ominous dark clouds had moved in, but the rain had yet to come. There was the tell-tale rumble of thunder in the distance though, which we assumed was what prompted the signal to halt play. My most fervent hope was that we’d make it back to the club house before the skies opened up.

For once, my luck held. My opponent and I were able to not only make it back, but even stow our clubs before the first heavy drops of rain fell. And I was safely under cover on the porch by the time it started raining in earnest.

I guess I should explain that the beauty of the Gofers (the unfortunate name by which our league is known) is that is just as much about camaraderie as it is about golf. So, while I was disappointed that I wouldn’t get to finish my round, I was still looking forward to dinner with at least a representative sampling of my fellow Gofers. Which is why I didn’t exactly welcome the intrusion of yet another piercing sound. This time it was the pager I’ve taken to carrying now that I’m covering the police/fire beat.

It was hard to feel sorry for myself once I heard what was going on, however, since it was flashing flooding conditions on two roads in the Town of Greene. I feared it was just the beginning, since the Southern part of the county had gotten hit hard the night before and I knew even more rain was expected.

A low battery kept me from staying tuned to the radio chatter while we ate, but my thoughts were divided between the conversation at hand and speculation about what was happening 25 miles or so down Route 12. Then I got a text message alerting me to the worsening situation in Greene. According to my source, much of the village was underwater.

I’m not going to lie, I was looking forward to going home after dinner and enjoying a rare evening of relaxation, devoid of any and all responsibility. But as soon as the text came through, I knew I’d be heading to Greene.

As I made my way down 12 in what could only be described as a torrential downpour, I wondered how to best approach the village. The decision was made for me, though, by Brisben’s Fire Police, who were diverting all southbound traffic to County Road 32.

I enjoyed the scenic route – as I always think of that section of East River Road – the rest of the way into Greene. I couldn’t help but notice how high the Chenango looked, though, and I have to admit I was worried about what I’d find upon my arrival in the quaint municipality.

At the terminus of 32, I turned onto 206, expecting to cross the bridge into downtown Greene. My efforts to do so were hampered, however, by the fact that traffic wasn’t being allowed over the bridge. So, I parked off Cherry Street and walked over.

Ironically, I needed my sunglasses, as the clouds had parted and the sun was shining bright against a beautiful blue sky.

My head had been filled with the images I’d seen of Greene in the aftermath of the 2006 floods, and I was worried about the damage this series of storms may have wrought so close to the five year anniversary of that disaster. Thankfully, my worse fears were not realized. Not to downplay the severity of these storms.

The flood waters had receded substantially by the time I arrived, but plenty of evidence was left behind of how high they’d climbed. South Canal and Willard Streets were impassable. The western end of Genesee Street was still partially underwater, but the State Highway crew was able to reopen it after unclogging the storm drains.

Some homes had been temporarily evacuated, and basements were already being pumped out. As I walked up North Canal Street, I saw people gathered on the bridge over the Birdsall Creek. There were four things which drew my attention as I approached. The first was the sheer volume of water still raging through the normally placid creek. The second was the gravel and debris strewn in the parking lot of the laundromat situated next to the bridge. (Ironically, the “open” sign was still illuminated, despite the fact that the business was obviously going to be closed for awhile.) The third was the skeletal remains of a large tree which had been thrown half onto the bridge by the deluge of water. The fourth, pointed out to me by Village Trustee Rod Andrews, was an electric pole being held up by on of the Village Electric trucks, the soil in which it had previously been set completely washed away.

Rod was out surveying the damage, and he was kind enough to let me walk with him along the banks of Birdsall Creek. He explained that after the floods of 2006, the village had used FEMA money to shore up the creek’s banks with rocks of various sizes, known as riprap. In some areas, the riff raff had held. In others, it had washed away and contributed to the problem.

I was amazed, really, at how much damage had been caused by the runoff in the creek. And I realized how lucky the homes along its length had been, because if had risen even another six inches, the devastation would have been multiplied ten fold.

I snapped pictures as I walked through the village that night. My favorite, if you will, is one of water bubbling up around a man-hole cover on North Chenango Street. All that water, just below the surface – it served as a poignant reminder to me of how much worse things could have been if a few more inches had fallen.

Of course, we did get more rain that night, but for the most part Greene was spared further flooding. Bainbridge, Afton and Coventry weren’t as lucky. My heart goes out to all those affected by the floods.

Also, thumbs up to all the emergency crews who braved the storms themselves, not to mention the aftermath, to come to the aid of their neighbors in their time of need. Without their dedication, many of these  situations could have been much, much worse.

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa.

Well worth the wait

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011
Brian Golden

Four days ago, on Sunday, I was convinced this would be one of those weeks that would slowly drag by. Every day would feel like a Monday, I’d be unable to sleep for more than two hours at a time and my food would have no flavor. And no, I’m not coming down with a summer cold or anything like that, I’ve simply been in this situation before – the final countdown before an new CD “hits the shelves.” And yes, you should be humming along to that little band in your head performing Europe’s legendary 1986 rock classic “The Final Countdown.” If you’re not, well, I understand. That song is absolute rubbish.

It’s true, though, that the weeks and days leading up to every CD I’ve ever been a part of – including a few which only featured me briefly – seem to crawl along at a snail’s pace. I’m not certain why this time around has been the complete opposite, even though it has been over seven months since my fellow Master Thieves and I first began the recording process, way back in November. I can tell you, however, that this release differs in no way from my previous ones when it comes to that near-uncontrollable feeling of nervous excitement, anticipation and, at times, dread.

The only way I can put it is that, while the band is unanimous in its praise for the album (it should be, considering we wrote, rehearsed and recorded all twelve songs), you never know what the average listener will think of the finished product. Will the disc live in their cars (like the ever-changing rough mixes have lived in mine for over half-a-year), their home stereos or their iPods? Will they jog to it, cook to it, sleep to it or (let’s hope) simply jam out to it?

What I’m getting at it this – you never can tell what a person or group of people will think of the music you’ve created until they get a chance to really hear and experience it. That’s the scary part, and the waiting never helps.

I must admit, though, I’m not all that worried this time around. Recording this album involved surprisingly little stress and – to be honest – I don’t know that it could’ve gone much smoother. All in all, I’m extremely happy with the disc and I’m looking forward to some feedback once it’s officially released this weekend. As Tom Petty would say, the wait may be the hardest part, but in this case I’m fairly sure it was worth it.

Where has the time gone?

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011
Patrick Newell

Where has the time gone? When I began at the newspaper in August of 1995, Bill Clinton was well into his first term as president, I was about 20 pounds heavier, my hair was much shorter – and still primarily dark brown – and the first of my three children, Elijah, was an infant of two months. Yesterday, June 22, my son turned 16 years old. This infant I cradled in my arms nearly 16 years ago is now my height (perhaps a shade taller), and possesses a driver’s permit He also stopped by the Norwich High School guidance office to obtain his official working papers. Time waits for no one, but at least I still have my waist line, just like our thinned down 43rd president.

Editor’s Notebook: 6/22/11

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011
Jeff Genung

• Today’s torrential downpours (one of the few instances where the adjective qualifies) were curiously timed with both my morning and afternoon trips from Fair Street to The Evening Sun’s office. I’d think it was a sign if I hadn’t already ignored the plague of locusts on Lackwanna Avenue.

• New reporter Julian Kappel’s first byline appeared on today’s front page. Seems like just yesterday my own was there … something about a whale watch trip from an Oxford Board of Ed meeting. Of course it only seems like yesterday … as I found out this morning, young Mr. Kappel was at the very least toddling, if not in diapers, back when I was the new guy on the beat. Oh Time, you are a cruel mistress.

• Melissa Stagnaro took on our second “Talk of the Town” series in today’s paper, featuring her afternoon down at Hoppie’s down in Oxford with school superintendent Randy Squier. Much of the conversation revolved around Randy’s impending departure from the Blackhawk distinct. Good luck!

• Remember that today’s paper is more than free – just use the dollar off coupon we print in each edition and your 75 cents gets a healthy ROI. Today it’s Trotta’s Apizza in downtown Norwich!

• Be sure to check out Friday’s Evening Sun for our annual Salute to Chenango County Graduates – a multi-page special section featuring yearbook photos of the Class of 2011 from each of the area’s school districts.

Editor’s Notebook: 6/20/11

Monday, June 20th, 2011
Jeff Genung

• Back from a whirlwind trip to New York City, where I met some new friends, walked in Central Park, visited the Museum of Modern Art, ate in Hell’s Kitchen and rode the MegaBus. But best of all? The Apple Store on 5th Avenue. I have worshipped at the altar of Steve Jobs.

• Our newest Evening Sun reporter started today … Julian Kappel. I’ll let him introduce himself in a blog on evesun.com later this week, but for now we’re just starting the hazing … err, training process. Look for his byline on the front page soon.

The Evening Sun’s summer intern, Jayne Jaramillo, put together a great video of the Dairy Day parade and fairground events over the weekend … you can see it here on our Facebook page.

• So to all the naysayers who said “they” were “destroying” the gazebo in East Side Park … what do you think now? I think it looks better than ever … and even more prominently featured than it was before! They’re not done yet, of course, but I can’t wait to see the finished product. Evening Sun subscribers can check out Brian Golden’s photos of the gazebo move on Friday here.

• Speaking of photos, we’re introducing a little change here on evesun.com. From now on, the full compliment of our photos of various events will be available to subscribers (print and online) only under the orange “Photo Galleries” tab on the home page. And atop every story on the site with an attached gallery, you’ll see a camera icon – click on it and it will take you directly to the gallery. Space in the print edition is limited, so sometimes we’re only able to publish a photo or two from event – now you’ll be able to see ALL the photos we take (and Frank Speziale too!) under the Photo Galleries tab. Facebook fans, don’t worry – we’ll still publish a few from each event for free in galleries there, but you’ve got to subscribe to see them all!

Editor’s Notebook: 6/16/11

Thursday, June 16th, 2011
Jeff Genung

• Hi, remember me? It’s been one of those weeks in which I’ve pretty much been too busy to breathe, much less blog. But here I sit on a Thursday evening, performing one last duty before my customary Friday off. I’m New York City bound tomorrow. I’ll be sure to write.

• Thoroughly enjoyed, as I do every year, the Perkins School of Dance annual recital last weekend. I am forever in awe of the sheer amount of talent possessed by Chenango’s youth, and here in particular those guided by Amber and Mikey Perkins and company. A special shout out to The Evening Sun’s own Robin Wonka! I’ve enjoyed her performances since she was a little girl, and this summer she’s interning in our advertising department. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the equally talented and beautiful Lane deCordova, daughter of our own Melissa. Nice job, ladies.

• Kurt Beyer Pool in Norwich is closed for the summer due to repairs. Seems like they could have seen this one coming a little sooner and planned ahead, but what do I know? Personally, I’d rather swim in a giant vat of  … well, you know how I feel about public pools. Still, a loss to the community and those who do take advantage of it on hot summer days. And to all the ‘30 Seconds’ crabbers who’ve pointed out that ‘Norwich can afford to re-do the parks, but can’t afford to fix the pool’ … that’s apples and oranges, folks. The city isn’t paying for the parks renovations (though they are certainly involved) – Friends of the Parks solicited private and corporate donations to pay for it, and are doing most of the work with in-kind labor. I’m sure if someone wanted to start a Friends of the Pool, the city would be more than willing to accept their help.

• Lots to do this weekend in Chenango County! Haven’t had enough dance? The Donna Frech School of Dance presents its 36th recital this weekend at the Norwich High School. Got a hankerin’ for milk? Celebrate all things bovine with the 11th annual Dairy Day at the county fairgrounds Saturday. More of a car buff? Check out Smith Ford’s Mustang Rally, the 6th annual, on Saturday night at their East Main Street dealership. Ride Sally, ride!

The best of ’86 on the big screen

Thursday, June 16th, 2011
Brian Golden

I ran across an interesting CNN article this morning on the ten best summer movies from a quarter century ago, way back in good old 1986 (I was all of nine years old at the time). And there were definitely some good ones – “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “The Fly,” “Hoosiers,” “Labyrinth,” “Platoon,” “Space Camp,” “Stand By Me” and “Top Gun” among them. Which got me to thinking, just how good of a year was 1986, cinematically speaking? As it turns out, some of my all-time favorites were released that year, many which are now considered cult classics, others simply because they hearken back to my days as the über geek (Melissa would say nothing has really changed since then) and some because they’re simply great movies.

The science fiction fan in me was amazed to find that classics such as Ridley Scott’s “Aliens,” John Carpenter’s “Big Trouble in Little China,” Disney’s “Flight of the Navigator,” “Howard the Duck,” “Highlander,” “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” and, of course, “Transformers: The Movie,” were all released in ‘86. And then there’s “Ice Pirates,” which I haven’t seen in over 20 years, but for some odd reason remains ingrained upon my subconscious, a scary thought to say the least. Of those eight movies, I must say that “Aliens” and “Transformers” had the most profound effect on me. The first? Because it scared the living daylights out of me. The second? Because my hero, Optimus Prime, actually dies, a heart-wrenching moment that is still, to this day, painful for any true geek out there (go ahead, Melissa, do your best).

As for my other favorites from 1986, I just had to include “Crocodile Dundee,” Eddie Murphy in “The Golden Child,” “The Karate Kid: Part II,” “Lucas,” “The Manhattan Project,” “Three Amigos!” and “Troll,” another one that scared me half-to-death (remember, I was nine). And then, of course, there’s Chuck Norris (and Lee Marvin) in “The Delta Force,” but that goes without saying.

All in all, I must say I was surprised at the number of movies released in 1986 that remain favorites of mine to this day. Now I’ll let Melissa proceed to comment on my complete and utter lack of “cool.” I’m sure it won’t take her long as it’s one of her favorite pastimes. I must say, it’s days like these that I truly miss my geek-in-arms, Tyler Murphy.

Talk of the Town

Monday, June 13th, 2011
Melissa Stagnaro

Have a burning question about something related to the Oxford Academy and Central School District? Well, now is your chance to ask away. Oxford Superintendent Randy Squier will be joining me from 2 to 3 p.m. at Hoppies tomorrow (Tuesday, June 14).

What’s the occasion? Why, The Evening Sun’s “Talk of the Town” series, of course. We’ll be traveling around the county, meeting with local leaders and giving community members to ask questions.

So, if you’ve got something to ask Randy – whether it’s about the proposed building project or something else pertaining to the district – come on down. Can’t make it? I’ll be happy to pose your question for you in addition to my own. Just email me at mstagnaro@evesun.com or call me at 337-3071 by noon tomorrow.

See you at Hoppies!

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa

Editor’s Notebook: 6/7/11

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011
Jeff Genung

• For the first time in a million years, I missed the Sherburne Pageant of Bands on Saturday. Judging by the crowds, things sure looked alive up in Sherburne over the weekend. If you haven’t already, check out Frank Speziale’s photos on our Facebook page.

• Had a great lunch today with the Oxford Retired Teachers Association at the library’s new community room. Melissa Stagnaro and I gave a talk as the featured “Oxford grads who made good,” I suppose. I’ll share more of the experience in my column on Friday, but I think a good time was had by all!

• I’ve been a board member of Norwich Dollars for Scholars for the past three years, and the highlight is always the end-of-year awards ceremony, held last night at the Chenango County Council of the Arts. Every year, the group of soon-to-be Norwich grads who earns these scholarships gets bigger and bigger (Frank had to take the picture from the balcony, giving me no small amount of agita in the process). This year, Dollars for Scholars raised almost $28,000 to give out to Tornado seniors going on to college, and many other scholarships were presented in conjunction with the Norwich City School District at last night’s ceremony as well. What a fantastic group this Class of 2011 is … their talent, enthusiasm and camaraderie was palpable – and infectious – last night. As more than one presenter noted, kids, don’t forget where you came from!

• So did we mention today’s paper is free? It is every day now, in our “More Than Free” promotion. All you have to do is buy the print edition for 75 cents, and use the $1 off coupon inside, good at a variety of local merchants. Yesterday was Thymely Treasures in Norwich, today was New York Pizzeria in New Berlin, and tomorrow it’s Service Pharmacy. More than free! Can’t see how we could make it any better for you unless I delivered it to you myself.

• Not gonna happen.

Faster than a speeding bullet

Friday, June 3rd, 2011
Brian Golden

Have you ever felt like someone’s been using you as a human punching-bag? Ever wake up in the morning feeling as if you were hit by an 18-wheeler? That’s me today, following last night’s softball game at Weiler Park. The difference with me, however, is the fact that this particular 18-wheeler came in the form of a softball.

There I was – doing my part to help my team on its way to a 3-and-1 record – poised to head for home plate, bases loaded, on third base and ready to score for a second time. I did, eventually, make it home, thanks to a nice little single (or maybe it was a double) by our team captain, Brian Tefft. But not before I managed to use my right flank for target practice.

If I could’ve avoided the rocket-like projectile that shot of Brian’s bat, directly down the third base line, let’s just say the bases probably would’ve cleared. Instead, this “shot-heard-round-the-world” made a beeline – right for me. There was no chance to dodge the missile, which made a sickeningly loud THUMP, right below my ribcage and just above my hip.

Needless to say, I’m in a bit of pain today.

To add insult to injury, my first (I’m way too old for this) slide of the season also resulted in agony. To put it simply, my left leg, below the knee, looks like it went through a cheese grater. Due to my grievous injuries, I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep last night. Yet even my tiredness today pales in comparison with my wince whenever I try to, well, move.

Obviously, I’m not 20 anymore. Not even 25 or 30. And if I had any sense at all, I’d probably take this as a sign that maybe, just maybe, it’s time for early retirement. That won’t happen, of course, I would never let the team down, as we simply have way too much fun. Especially this year, when we’ve finally come together, with a nice little string of victories.

I will, however, make sure I’m just as ready to dodge as I am to run next time I find myself preparing to make my way to home plate. And I’m definitely going to work on my slide technique, if for no other reason than it would be nice to be able to walk the next day.

Right now, all I can say is…ouch.