Archive for July, 2011

Editor’s Notebook: 7/28/11

Thursday, July 28th, 2011
Jeff Genung

Sad day for Chenango County, as one of its most iconic leaders, Joseph Benenati Jr., passed away this morning at age 97. Back when she left The Evening Sun in 1999, Kathy O’Hara wrote a tribute for Sheriff Joe, one of her oldest and dearest friends, and implored me to use it upon his death. I swore that I would, never suspecting that Kathy herself would predecease him by nearly a decade.

Fishing that out of the files this morning brought back a lot of memories – not just of Joe, but Kathy too. Although as disparate as you could possibly get in their physical stature, Mr. Benenati and Ms. O’Hara were largely cut from the same cloth – both had an unwavering commitment to God, country and community.

Sheriff Benenati’s tenure ended shortly before I began at the paper, but his presence was still looming – figuratively and literally. He was an imposing figure, a man of great physical strength tempered by an even disposition. When he spoke, people listened. When he called and ask me to do something in the paper, I did it. I heard someone today describe him as the John Wayne of Chenango County, and that he was. He engendered that kind of respect and loyalty – especially among his law enforcement protégés, Tom Loughren and Joe Angelino, two men I and many others came to respect in their own right and in whose careers Mr. Benenati’s legacy shines.

And then there’s Kathy O’Hara, my dearly departed friend and longtime colleague. I spilled some ink on my relationship with her when she died, long before her time, ten years ago, but this morning, putting her byline on the front page of The Evening Sun one last time, brought it all flooding back. And reading her tribute to Joe (there’s another one, by Melissa deCordova, with current quotes from the Sheriff’s friends and colleagues, in tomorrow’s edition) … well, The O’Hara always could turn a phrase. I hope I did her proud in carrying out her final wish.

Kathy and Joe, one of a kind and two of a kind at the same time – Chenango County misses you both.

Editor’s Notebook: 7/27/11

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011
Jeff Genung

• Congratulations, Norwich, on winning the Otsenango Pony League championships again!

• I don’t know what that means, exactly, but I’m sure it’s good! They had a parade and everything!

• I hate using exclamation points! It’s the sign of a lazy writer!

• Speaking of lazy, good for nothin’ … I had flowers stolen off my front lawn in downtown Norwich the other night. No, they weren’t picked. They weren’t even in a pot. They were dug up, from the ground, and taken away into the night. Seriously, people? You can have my $3.99 superwave petunia if it means so much to you that you have to thieve it from me under the cover of darkness. Hope you brought a trowel; the soil’s a little rough out there, sorry.

• Melissa deCordova wrote the first of a three-part series on Chenango agriculture for today’s paper. It’s based on a bus tour she took last week with various industry and political reps. I think far too often we take for granted the innovative strides we’ve made in farming here locally. This three-parter is a great primer for those who might think agriculture is stagnated in the past.

• Brian previewed the third in the Chenango Blues Fest’s free summer concert series today – Nathan Williams and the Zydeco Cha-Chas are performing in West Park Thursday night. They’ve been to the Blues Fest a few times before, and it’s an act you will not want to miss.

• See, there’s a sentence that could have legitimately used an exclamation point. Too bad I spent all mine earlier.

Editor’s Notebook: 7/25/11

Monday, July 25th, 2011
Jeff Genung

• Remember how I swore in the dead of winter that I wouldn’t complain about the heat? Yeah, blew that one this weekend. Several times over.

• Talk about a Field of Dreams! Chobani’s Champions Field looks amazing in New Berlin! Julian had a wrap-up story from Friday’s ribbon cutting on today’s front page, and Frank’s photos are up in our subscribers gallery. What a great experience for those kids … and a more than generous gift from Agro Farma!

• Brian got some great photos of the aftermath of a fire in South New Berlin over the weekend. Luckily the family (and pets) got out safe and sound. Evening Sun subscribers can check out more of Brian’s pictures in this photo gallery.

• And speaking of photos … Evening Sun photographer extraordinaire (sorry, don’t know how to say it in Italian) Frank Speziale is on vacation this week. It’s not often that Frank’s not at my beck and call, so this will be a weird week in the newsroom. Bear with us as we struggle to take our own photos, of everything. Thank goodness for point & shoot.

A case of the Mondays

Monday, July 25th, 2011
Brian Golden

It’s extremely rare for me to have a “case-of-the-Mondays,” as it’s sometimes called (if you’ve ever seen Mike Judge’s “Office Space” you know exactly what I’m talking about here). In fact, I can’t remember the last time I’ve ever had a Monday go bad right from the start.

Actually, this particular “case-of-the-Mondays” kicked-off on Saturday when my Voodoo Mystics gig was spontaneously canceled, but that’s a blog for another day.

For starters, I didn’t sleep all that well last night (always a bad way to start the week), awake at 3 a.m. and never really getting back to sleep. Add to that a car that’s (still) leaking transmission fluid, the current lack of funding when it comes to fixing the thing and my completely unnecessary (and decidedly strange) use of the word “an” lately (another long and inexplicable story), and I think you see what I mean.

This has been a Monday for the ages, so to speak, one that only got worse once my lunch hour rolled around. And yes, if you’re a gambler, and wagered it had something (else) to do with my car, well, you’ve just hit the jackpot, go play the lotto it’s your lucky day.

I’ll admit I was more than ready for a little break from the office when the clock struck noon. As I said, it’s just been one of those days. Hurriedly, I packed-up my work camera and Professional Reporters Notebook (I try not to go anywhere without both on hand) and headed for the infamous Green Machine. I hopped in (the driver side door has since been repaired since the sheep incident – see a previous blog of mine titled “Holy Sheep” for more details), started it up and off I went.

I made it about ten feet.

Yes, it seems that – once again – my (hated) beloved means of transportation is out of commission. And seeing as I know very little (nothing at all) about cars, it looks like she’s going to stay that way for a couple of days, at least until I can get my uncle, a regular car genius, to look into the matter. It’s depressing, to say the least, considering I’ve been having nothing but trouble with it for the past couple of months (and no, I haven’t had any run-ins with wandering mobs of sheep lately).

Needless to say, it’s been one case after another of insult to injury today and, personally, it can’t end soon enough. And at this point – at least when it comes to the car – well, I’d simply like to blow the thing up. Our newest addition here in the newsroom, Julian, even offered to help, in an effort to cheer me up.

I realize, of course, what a bad idea that would be, but I have to admit, it’d be a fitting end to the day.

Editor’s Notebook: 7/20/11

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011
Jeff Genung

• Hot enough for ya? Yeah, buddy. Hot enough so that everyone who asks me that question today should burn in …

• Oh wait, I guess I’m a little more charitable than that today. After all, we had a terrific lunch in West Side Park (got my Hot Dog Lady fix) with music provided by Evening Sun son Brian Golden. Who, I might add, did not suck as anticipated.

• Oh wait, I’m more charitable than that, too – actually Brian was fantastic. I’ve never had the opportunity to see him perform live before, so today was a special treat. There was a pretty good showing despite the oppressive heat, and Brian kept the crowd entertained. He’s actually quite talented. Good to know he’s got something to fall back on if …

• Oh wait, I suppose I really am a bit irritable today. I swore to the Gods of the Universe, back in the death throes of winter, that I would not complain a skitch about the heat this summer … but here I am. Would be appreciated, Mother Nature, if you could find some sort of middle ground.

• The theme of today’s paper was definitely music and entertainment – Brian previewed both the Norwich Family Bluegrass Festival (which opens today) and the Glenn Miller Orchestra performance tomorrow night, part of the Blues Festival’s free summer concert series. Not to be outdone, Melissa Stagnaro gave us a glimpse into what’s in store for this year’s 122nd Afton Fair, which also opens tonight. Frank Speziale will be wilting in the blazing temps tonight, taking pictures at the annual parade which kicks things off down there. Check out evesun.com for a photo gallery tomorrow.

Lunchtime Live!

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011
Brian Golden

Not that I’m all that surprised, but I have to say I had a great time at today’s Lunchtime Live! performance. I must admit, however, it seemed strange to zip out of the office at 11:30 a.m., set-up and play guitar in the park for an hour or so, run home for a quick clean-up (it was hot out there today) and then shoot back to the office for an typical afternoon in the life of an Evening Sun reporter, spent writing this blog.

I guess I’m just not used to mixing my two professional personalities – musician and journalist. Which isn’t all that strange when I think about it, as it’s fairly rare that one intrudes on the other. I will say this, though, it was tougher than I’d anticipated to “switch hats,” so to speak. Simply put, it took me a song or two this afternoon to get the voice and guitar in sync. And once I’d made my way back to the office, an half-an-hour or so to flex those writing muscles back into shape. What can I say? The musician in me probably isn’t all that great a journalist and vice versa. Not that I’m suffering from any sort of multiple personality syndrome or anything (let’s hope not, at least).

That’s not to say my fledgling journalism career has in no way effected my musical pursuits. In fact, it’s had an tremendously positive impact. Something about the responsibility involved with a full-time, professional occupation seems to have made its way into my guitar playing along the way, which is a good thing, I think. And it’s obvious to me – especially this time of year with Blues Fest right around the corner – that any stories I happen to write which focus on music definitely benefit from my 20 years playing the guitar. So I guess it’s possible the two are more closely related than I originally thought.

Regardless, today ended up being a lot of fun. Granted, any time I get a chance to perform it’s typically a good time. It was also nice to see my fellow Evening Sun office-mates come over to cheer me on. Thanks, guys and gals, I hope you enjoyed it!

And for those of you who didn’t make it down to today’s little performance, it’s cool. Next week, Joe Lombardi will “take to the stage” from noon to 1 p.m. in West Park. If nothing else, it’s a great opportunity to get some sunshine, enjoy some lunch and support local live music. A big thanks to Pegi and the BID for having me this year, I had a blast.

Editor’s Notebook: 7/19/11

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011
Jeff Genung

• Summer’s sure going fast, isn’t it? We just got done with Relay for Life, but Linda Green was in the office today talking about the Christmas Parade. Never too early to plan ahead, right? For those who don’t already know, Linda has retired from The Evening Sun sales team after about a decade and a half. Her replacement, Brad Carpenter of New Berlin, started here last week. Linda was in today handing over the reins of the Christmas to Remember Parade of Lights, and all the myriad details that go into keeping it running like clockwork. We miss Linda dearly, of course, but something tells me we’ll miss her even more as that parade gets closer! Luckily, she’s not too far away.

• Speaking of Relay, congratulations to all who walked and donated money to the American Cancer Society fundraiser over the weekend. Chenango County always steps up to the plate for this one, and it looks as though a good time was had by all (Evening Sun subscribers can check out Frank Speziale’s photo gallery here). And kudos to Marie DeSarro, who’s steered this event for a couple years now. I thought no one would be able to replace my old friend Nance Rifanburg as Relay Runner (figuratively speaking; they mostly walk), but Marie’s done a fantastic job – and she’s a pleasure to work with, which makes our job easier!

• Intern extraordinaire Jayne Jaramillo did a story today on the Norwich BID’s annual summer concert series, Lunchtime Live! The noontime free concerts in the park (this year West, not East) are a splendid way to spend your lunch hour (after a visit to the Hot Dog Lady, of course). The series kicks off tomorrow, with the featured musical act being The Evening Sun’s own Brian Golden. I’ve actually never had the chance to hear Brian perform live before, so this should be interesting. I’ll let you know tomorrow if he’s as good as he says he is :)

• Looks like Agro Farma poured a boatload of money into that ‘Chobani Champions Field’ over in New Berlin. Boatload being in the $300,000 range, mind you. Wow. Should be impressive! I can’t wait to see it when they dedicate it on Friday (read Julian Kappel’s story here). Of course I can’t help thinking that the little league field behind my house in Oxford when I was growing up probably had a whole $250 invested in it, but that’s just me. Good for them for being a good corporate citizen and giving back to the Village of New Berlin.

Editor’s Notebook: 7/14/11

Thursday, July 14th, 2011
Jeff Genung

• Wow, my entire staff blogged today? (Well, my full-time reporting staff, that is). Be still, my heart.

• Looks like it’s going to be a perfect night for the first of the Chenango Blues Association’s free summer concert series. Tonight at 7, it’s Eric Lindell. I confess I don’t go as much for the music as I do the people, but I’m looking forward to it.

• The folks from the Associated Press came today to take down the satellite off our building here on Lackawanna Avenue. The end of an era, of sorts. Last summer, the AP abandoned the satellite delivery of stories and photos and now everything is web-based, which certainly makes more sense. The giant white dish gleaming atop the Pennysaver building sure did make us look like an official communications company though, didn’t it? While part of me gets misty-eyed for bygone technology, I certainly won’t miss what used to be my worst winter duty – shoveling the damn thing off every time it snowed more than an inch. You know, just like the New York Times editor does?

• Our ‘Why I Relay …’ series continues today, chronicling the first-hand account of Relay for Life participants. They’re compelling testimonials, I think. Also in today’s Evening Sun, you’ve got our annual insert with the details of this weekend’s event, and a list of names of everyone who’s had American Cancer Society luminaries bought “In Honor Of …” and  “In Memory Of …” You can also get a free copy of the insert at the fairgrounds on Friday night.

You sorry, greedy…

Thursday, July 14th, 2011
Brian Golden

Several months ago, I wrote a short blog on the NFL lockout and President Obama’s excellent reaction to it. What’s said is that, here we are, just weeks away from what should be the start of the league’s pre-season, and the issue has yet to be resolved.

I think I speak for each and every fan of the NFL when I say – enough is enough.

Personally, I’m not going to point fingers here, as it seems to me you have two sides to this disagreement, both of which are (for the most part) extremely wealthy, arguing about who’s getting their proper “piece of the pie.” I say “for the most part” because your average NFL player only has a “shelf life” of around three years and makes significantly less than the league’s superstars.

Regardless, the entire situation is absolutely disgusting, especially when you consider the dire financial straights so many Americans are suffering through at this time. Not to mention the fact that – if they aren’t careful – they’re risking the alienation of the real people behind their big, fat paychecks … the fans.

Elsewhere in the wide world of sports, we have Roger Clemens and the recent mistrial declared in his perjury case. Clemens, of course, continues to deny his steroid use (ridiculous) and I can honestly say I’m not surprised by this development.

Can you say bribe? Because that is (unfortunately) what many people will read into this. My question? Just how much taxpayer money was wasted on this farce of a trial? And, if a person can be called forward for allegedly lying to Congress, why can’t “we the people” call Congress out on its lies to Americans across the country?

The NFL lockout kind of remind me of Cuba Gooding, Jr.’s character in Cameron Crowe’s “Jerry Maguire,” now that I think of it. Everybody’s shouting “show me the money” with not-a-care in the world for just how pathetic, greedy and – ultimately – worthless they come off in the end, both the players and the unions.

As for the Roger Clemens case, it’s no wonder the American people no longer have any trust in the federal government’s decision-making these days. It is – sadly – laughable, to say the least.

Why I Relay

Thursday, July 14th, 2011
Melissa Stagnaro

While talking about Chenango County Relay for Life earlier this week, The Evening Sun’s publisher, Dick Snyder, made an observation about how the number of people who walk in the event’s Survivor Lap – as well as the amount raised annually – has increased substantially over the years.

There is no denying the amazing growth and success of the event, but for me, it is bittersweet. For on one hand it is a sure sign of both the power of our community to pull together for an important cause and the strides made in medical research which have lead to new, more successful, less toxic treatments.

But at the same time, it is a reminder that with each passing year, this insidious disease touches and takes more lives.

I have seen this even in my own life. When I first became involved with Relay for Life, cancer was something that happened to someone else. Sure, I knew people who had been affected by it, but I lived in this comfortable bubble, naively believing that my inner circle of friends and family were immune. But all too soon that false security was shattered. Since then, cancer has crept closer and closer.

I have written about some of them, such as my friend and fellow Oxford graduate John Lobdell and my uncle, Richard Lopresti. There are others, too. More than I can count these days. Not every story, though, is mine to tell. Those who know me well know just how close to home cancer has hit in the last couple of years.

Then, of course, there is Sue Gosline. Less than a week has passed since our dear friend Suzie left us, and the loss is so fresh in my heart I can’t even think her name without crying. I spilled my heart, and so many tears, into my column about her today. I just can’t believe she’s gone.

But in the midst of my grief and all those tears, I’m reminded of that Survivor’s Lap and it sparks a glimmer of hope. Because cancer isn’t invincible. Those brave souls walking around that track, celebrating their victory over cancer, are living proof that this disease can be defeated.

I think, too, of my Aunt Donna, who battled lymphoma and won. My cousin Dawn, who is a living reminder of why early detection of breast cancer is so important. (Get those mammies, girls!) My cousin Richie, who survived leukemia. And my friend Kathie, who battled breast cancer long before I knew her. Each of them give me hope that cancer can be beaten. And I want to do all I can to help get us closer to finding a cure.

That is Why I Relay.

My favorite shirt from last year’s Relay for Life said, “Crush Cancer.” That’s what I want to do. I want to eradicate this horrible disease that causes so much pain, suffering and heartache.

Tomorrow, I’ll be participating in Chenango County’s Relay for Life, in honor of all those whose lives have been touched by cancer. I will walk with Suzie, John, Uncle Rich, Aunt Donna, Dawn, Richie, Kathie and so many more in my heart.

Each step and each dollar raised will take us that much closer to crushing cancer. Please join me in supporting this cause, which has hit so close to home for me and so many others. Together we can help find a cure for this horrible disease.

To donate now, visit my fundraising page.

To learn more about Chenango County Relay for Life, visit www.relayforlife.org/chenangocountyny.

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa.