Archive for September, 2011

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Friday, Sept. 30, 2011

Friday, September 30th, 2011
Patrick Newell

Far be it from me to really nitpick. Okay, it’s kind of my job to nitpick when something seems amiss. Someone please give me a sensible answer to this: Is homecoming really homecoming when you never actually left your home? It was always my understanding that a homecoming football game is a “welcome home” celebration for a team that played its most recent game (or games) on the road. The homecoming festivities include the crowning of the homecoming queen, the marching band leads a parade through town, and it’s typically a night where school’s alumni return to their alma mater to revel in the abundance of school spirit. Norwich celebrates its homecoming weekend this Friday when the football team hosts Windsor – exactly one week after hosting Chenango Forks. Norwich can blame its regular season football schedule for the misplaced homecoming celebration. The Tornado played their first two games on the road (week two’s home game was canceled). Technically, last weekend’s game with Chenango Forks should have been the Tornado’s homecoming. Friday’s game with Windsor is the second of three straight on the NHS field turf. The final two games – Johnson City and Chenango Valley – are on the road. It’s a bit of an unusual schedule, and really, Norwich had little wiggle room in which to place its homecoming celebration. If I am reading my schedule the right way, Norwich will also be forced to hold its senior recognition game (the final scheduled home game) next week against Oneonta. Quite a quirky schedule since it will be just the fifth game of the season for Norwich on an eight-game schedule.

A one-goal differential in a soccer game may noy seem like much of an aberration, but in my experience, one-goal games do not come with the frequency one might expect. That’s why I took notice of the Oxford boys’ soccer team earlier this week. First-year Oxford head coach, Jim Champlin, shoots me an e-mail after each game with the full statistics. I reviewed his log of e-mails, and noted six games this month – all losses – in which Oxford lost by a single tally. In just about every one of those games, the Blackhawks were either winning or tied with the opposition in the second half. With a few more fortunate bounces, the Blackhawks could have one of the gaudiest records in the area instead of unpleasant losing mark. This is an instance where a team’s record does not indicate a team’s competitiveness.

Speaking of gaudy records, Greene has three programs that are on quite a roll. The varsity volleyball team upped its record to 6-0 earlier this week when it beat Bainbridge-Guilford; and the football team, now 4-0, is the number five ranked Class C team in the state. A win over Oneonta Saturday will give the Trojans’ gridders seven straight winning seasons. And the third team in our powerful trio is no surprise. The Greene field hockey team is 7-0 after blanking Oxford Thursday night. Of the teams that I cover regularly, the Trojans’ field hockey team is the most consistent winner. A fourth Greene program – one that has not reported results to me – was also sporting a nifty record. The Trojans’ golf team was unbeaten as of last week.

I know I have written this before. If you’re wondering why your team’s result was not in the paper – or online – it’s because the game was not reported to The Evening Sun. Many area teams are on long road trips, and I rely on a coach’s phone call in order to give readers the scoop. It’s a simple theorem: No news from a coach equals no news in the sports section. Contrary to the cliche, no news is not good news.

Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat

Hello From “The New Guy”

Thursday, September 29th, 2011
Shawn Magrath

Well, here it is. The much anticipated debut. The people have lined the streets to talk to me, I’m finding paparazzi outside my back window, the crowds have been gathering to celebrate on the national mall and I have Oprah on hold so I can take a few minutes to write; I might not even call her back. This is my first blog as a reporter for ‘The Evening Sun.’

Okay, so that’s not all entirely true. I’ll admit that exaggeration tends to be second nature to me. I would never put Oprah on hold. Nevertheless, it is still exciting. I am wrapping up my first week at the local newspaper and still have the same thirst for the job that I had when hearing of an opening. That’s something to be noted. Then again, a week is only a week – just enough time to stick my toe in the water. I still have to learn to swim.

I’ve had an interesting week. I feel as though I’ve shaken more hands than any of the GOP candidates and I’ve met people I never thought I would have reason to talk to. That’s not a bad thing. I love some of the discussions I’ve had, the well intended nature of the people I’ve met and my overall developing role at ‘The Evening Sun.’ I’m anxious to see how I fill out here and hope to hear more from the community in passing time. I’m sure that I’ll become more involved, not only because of my new job, but also because of a work schedule that allows me to become more involved. I’m still looking forward to my first full Pumpkin Fest. I hear I’ll have a ‘gourd’ time (it’s a play on words. Not a good one, but a valiant effort).

To all the well well-wishers, some I know and some I don’t, I want to say thank you. Words of encouragement go a long way. It really means so much.

Avoiding the risk of running a first blog that’s just too long, I think I’m going to quit here. Still, my thanks to all the readers and I look forward to writing more down the road.

Wow, that’s loud

Thursday, September 29th, 2011
Brian Golden

Well, I guess I don’t have to worry about my newly acquired pager waking me up in the wee hours of the morning any time there’s an emergency here in good old Chenango County. Seeing as how I wasn’t sure how loud the little bugger is, I (unwisely, it would seem) set the volume last night, oh, about half-way up. Turns out, the ear-piercing shriek it puts out when set half-way up is loud enough to wake a drunk ( and deaf) elephant on New Years Eve. Needless to say, it scared the living daylights out of me and getting back to sleep was … difficult.

Today, I had an opportunity to sit down and discuss my new beat (police/fire/ems/court for those of you who haven’t been paying attention) with Oxford Police Chief Rich Nolan, who was – I must say – extremely gracious and down-to-earth. In fact, everyone I’ve spoken to who’s in any way involved with my latest assignment has been absolutely great. I’d say it’s simply my personal, charismatic way with people but, hey, who am I trying to kid, right?

Otselic Valley voters approved the district’s building project proposal yesterday by a fairly large margin, when you get right down to it. I’m still a little baffled by the whole affair, to be honest, considering many Otselic resident’s feelings on the idea of merging the district’s two schools (one in South Otselic, the other in Georgetown). Regardless, the vote has gone through and the people have spoken, so full speed ahead, I guess. It will be interesting to see how this one pans out over the next year-and-a-half to two years, needless to say.

Lastly, I’m going to go on record right now and say … all this rain in the forecast has me more-than-a-little concerned. Thunderstorms, more thunderstorms, rain showers, sprinkles and torrential downpours are all well and good if your crops need watering or you’d like to cool off on a hot summer day. When the entire county has been weathering (seemingly) flood after flood, however, let’s just say it get a little old. So please, Mother Nature, take it easy on us over the weekend, and let’s keep our fingers crossed that the weatherman (so reliable most days … sarcasm intended) is wrong this time around.

Editor’s Notebook: 9/28/11

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011
Jeff Genung

• Big vote day in Otselic Valley – voters are deciding on a $17M building project today. Pretty much a million bucks per OV senior, but hey.

• Brian Golden celebrated his one-year anniversary as an Evening Sun columnist in today’s edition. C’mon, he thinks it’s significant. Humor him and click on it!

• The shake, rattle n’ roll of Phase I of The Evening Sun’s roof replacement last week was replaced by the soothing din of a nuclear generator outside my office window on deadline this morning, accompanied expertly by random, piercing drills overhead. This afternoon, when I have considerably less to do? That’s right, they’re gone. Contractors.

Shawn Magrath joined our Evening Sun news team on Monday, and already has two front-page stories under his belt. Off to a good start! Still getting his feet wet, news-wise, but this afternoon he worried that he didn’t have enough to do. They’re so cute when they’re young.

Facebook comments on our website stories continue to be good and plenty – with the way people (real people!) are taking advantage of this feature, I wish we’d pulled the plug on the much-not-missed ES Forum a long time ago.

Columns, plea deals and so much more

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011
Brian Golden

Mid-week is upon us and you know what that means … column day! Thursday marks my one year anniversary as a columnist here at The Evening Sun and I must say I’ve truly enjoy writing my weekly opinion piece. Hard to believe it’s been an entire year, however. Time really does fly when you’re having fun.

Speaking of opinions, I think I’ll keep mine to myself in regards to the whole Aikins, one to three, possible plea deal. Definitely one of those stories guaranteed to get people riled-up, though, not surprisingly. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how things pan out over the next three-plus weeks, as the deadline for the defense to either accept or deny the deal nears. Again, I’ll keep my thoughts to myself on this one.

The Purple Tornado Field Band is off to a good start it seems, with a pair of top three finishes over the course of its first two performances (second place last weekend). As always, this time of year takes me back to my own days on the field, although what I remember most are the freezing temperatures we endured during the band season’s later months. Still, it was an amazing experience and one I’ll never forget. And I’m excited to check out this year’s show, based on the Disney musical, “Newsies,” seeing as it was a favorite movie of mine back in the day. Hmmm … coincidence?

The Otselic Valley Central School District building project vote is taking place even as I write this Wednesday blog (from noon to 9 p.m. at both the elementary and high school for you online Otselic readers), and I’m certainly curious to see the end result. I was surprised at the lack of an audience at the Georgetown public meeting when the project was addressed, especially when you consider these are the kids (the elementary students) who’ll be re-locating come 2013 … if the vote goes through.

That’s quite the set-up FEMA has going up at the Chenango County Sheriff’s Office, let me tell you. Joined by a number of state and county agencies, FEMA will be on hand to help those affected by Tropical Storm Lee and the subsequent flooding. It’s important to note that FEMA personnel will only be there as long as people are showing up, looking or help or information. And if you were one of those impacted by the floods here in Chenango County, make sure and register with FEMA by calling 1-800-621-3362. According to FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Phillip Parr, you must do so in order to apply.

On a happier note, I’ve finally replaced my not-so-beloved Green Machine with … wait for it … the Green Machine, Mach II. I’m pretty happy with my new ride, needless to say, and while it’s not the exact same shade of baby vomit green as its predecessor, I happen to like this color much, much better (and that’s putting it mildly).

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011
Patrick Newell

A big thumbs up to Norwich High School and its volleyball team for a generous act of civic-mindedness and genuine caring at last week’s home game with Susquehanna Valley. A member of the NHS school administration noted the extensive damage to the flood-ravaged Conklin community, home of Susquehanna Valley schools.  A discussion was bandied about regarding a collaborative effort to extend a helping hand to the Sus Valley community. Norwich volleyball coach, Shelly Alger, said her team was playing Sus Valley that week, and a relief effort was born. In association with The Salvation Army, who supplied red donation buckets, Norwich’s varsity volleyball players presented cleaning supplies to members of the SV team. Amid some tears that were shed by the SV side, was sincere gratitude and appreciation.

It was clear after week two’s loss to Sidney, Norwich coach John Martinson needed to make some tweaks and adjustments. The running game, long Norwich’s staple, was inconsistent. Against the Blue Devils, Norwich ran for nearly 200 yards, the Tornado’s best rushing numbers against their longtime rival in perhaps a decade. “We moved ‘Mongo,” Kegan Levesque to left guard. We knew we needed to get him on the field. He’s our strongest kid, and he squats like 520 pounds. We got him in there, and we did a little package with Seth (Thomsen) and Michael (Sutton) to get Seth the ball outside. I didn’t feel my hands were tied. I figured, let’s just throw the ball. What’s the worst thing that can happen? We can beat Forks. We did a couple of things like that, we got in a flow, and the kids executed.” Norwich also won the special teams battle, in large credit due to the directional punting of junior Kyle Edwards. Edwards did a fine job of limiting punt returns against Sidney a week ago averaging over 40 yards per boot, and he kept the ball away from Chenango Forks’ return men as well. Late in the first quarter, Edwards’ 41-yard punt to the CF six allowed Norwich to take control of the field position battle leading to the first score. Early in the fourth, Edwards’ 35-yarder set up Forks at its own 11. On the next play, the Blue Devils fumbled the ball away setting the table for the Tornado’s final touchdown. Late in the game, Edwards had his third punt of the game inside the 10, one that the Blue Devils muffed setting them back to the three yard line. In desperation mode, the Blue Devils threw an interception two plays later, their fourth turnover of the contest.

Editor’s Notebook: 9/23/11

Friday, September 23rd, 2011
Jeff Genung

• What a long, strange week it’s been. 4 o’clock on Friday, and I’m just getting my first opportunity to blog. It won’t always be like this, it won’t always be like this …

• In fact, we’ll be back at full staff on Monday, with the addition of Shawn Magrath to our team of Evening Sun reporters. Shawn will be covering the City and Town of Norwich, and Chenango County business. You’ll be hearing more from him next week.

• Another Evening Sun welcome this week – Jill O’Hara has joined our team as an advertising consultant, sharing an office with fellow newbie Brad Carpenter. It seems like it was always the Peggy and Linda Show (and later Pam) in Evening Sun sales, but it’s nice to see new faces, too. We’re glad to have you aboard! (I promise the office won’t always look like this!)

• And my soon to be not-newest-guy, Julian Kappel, joined our columnist fray on Thursday. Sure got good reviews on Facebook! I look forward to seeing what he has to say every week.

• Did I mention it’s 4 o’clock on Friday? Have a good weekend, everybody!

A week in the life…

Friday, September 23rd, 2011
Brian Golden

Well, that was a first on Monday, I must say. Nothing like typing away on deadline while the entire building shakes around you, accompanied by numerous crashes, thuds, the sound of some sort of extreme saw blade cutting through God-knows what and the like. Work began in earnest on The Evening Sun’s roof this morning and it’s been … interesting … to say the least.

As usual, I had some fun writing this week’s column, focused on the all-mighty cell phone (and texting in particular). Headed out at noon Wednesday to pick up a new phone and I’m not too sure how I feel about the whole deal. I’ve never been a fan of “the text,” to be completely honest. In fact, I didn’t even have the ability to text on my old phone (an ancient model indeed). I suppose this time around I’ll actually take the time to figure out all the little features that come with today’s phones, if such a thing is even possible (what can I say, I’m technologically challenged from time to time, to put it mildly).

Hard to believe Wednesday night was my last Common Council meeting for the foreseeable future, what with the new beat (not to mention new reporter). I must say I’ve really enjoyed covering the City of Norwich, certainly something I’d never specifically planned to do in this lifetime. Alas, it’s now on to bigger and better things, but it was nice to get a chance to thank the various city officials present for their patience, kind words and dedication to this community. A special congratulations to one-time patrolman and newly-minted Norwich PD Sgt. Stephen Zieno. Great job!

Made my way to county court today (Friday) for the first time as The Evening Sun’s latest court reporter and I must say, it seems like a good fit. Everyone was extremely friendly, answering any questions I posed, and they all have a great sense of humor, probably a necessity when you’re dealing with the day-to-day issues they do. I’m definitely looking forward to more of the same come next week and – fingers crossed – I’m fairly confident I’ll take to the new beat like a fish to water.

Sadly (or not), the Green Machine, my faded, beat-to-heck Neon is no more. On Thursday, I traded in the old bird for my new set of wheels which – again, fingers crossed – I’ll be picking up today. It’ll be interesting to say the least, considering it’s – in many ways – my first, all-to-myself vehicle. So if you see this Sun staff writer cruising about, grinning away and jamming to some Derek Trucks, J.J. Grey or Eric Lindell over the weekend, feel free to give a honk and a wave. Can anybody say road trip?

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011
Patrick Newell

Jim Smith, a former Norwich teacher and coach, will be inducted into the Oswego High School Sports Hall of Fame on Oct. 1. While at Norwich, Smith coached the 1956 Norwich High School varsity boys basketball team to the overall Section III championship.
Smith, who passed away in the late 1980s, was a member of Oswego’s 1941 championship football team and started on offense at center. Smith is being inducted as part of the 1941 team, a squad that gave up just seven points the entire season. Smith’s children, Jim Smith, Mike Smith, Bill Smith, and Terri Jo Hawley were extended invitations to the banquet.
Jim Rebbeor, an organizer for the HOF banquet, contacted The Evening Sun Tuesday afternoon by e-mail requesting information about Jim Smith’s family. He described Smith as a “local hero in the Oswego area.” Rebbeor said that the 1941 football team produced school superintendents, school principals, doctors, and two young men gave their lives in World War II. “It was quite an outstanding group of men,” Rebbeor said.
Many may not know that Smith served his country in World War II, and was held by the Germans for two years as a prisoner of war, said Mike Smith. “It’s not something he talked about,” Mike Smith said of his father.

Anyone else disappointed by Syracuse University’s decision to leave the Big East for the ACC? The Orange were a charter member of the Big East, and I have lived and died for those rivalry games with Georgetown, St. John’s, Villanova, and most recently, Connecticut the past three decades. Conferences used to be identified by their geographic location. Now, it’s about solidifying power and creating more money-making opportunities. SU basketball coach, Jim Boeheim, is on board with the school administration’s decision to leave home for the South, but he isn’t an enthusiastic endorser. Boeheim said in a recent interview with ESPN that the decision (by SU) was about football and money. What? Since when was Syracuse football the school’s marquis sports program? The team is coming off its first winning season (not including back-to-back .500 campaigns seven years ago) since 2001. Until last year, Syracuse had not won more than four games since those aforementioned six-win .500 seasons. We all know that Syracuse is known first for its men’s basketball program where Boeheim’s troops have made a home in the top 25 for decades. Boeheim lamented the loss of those long-standing rivalries, and instead will pick up teams such as Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, and Virginia Tech. We aren’t apt to see any attendance records when those clubs visit the Dome. At least we have Boston College back on the docket, the one rivalry we Syracuse fans can look forward to.

Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat

Does it get any better?

Monday, September 19th, 2011
Brian Golden

First day on the job as The Evening Sun’s official police-fire-court-EMS reporter and all I can say is … we’re off and running. Friday, before I’d even been informed of this latest change in assignment we’d already received news of a fire (north of Plymouth) and log truck rollover (south of Coventry). Add to that some window smashing at the Norwich Family YMCA over the weekend (a bunch of savages in this town, I must say) and the exterior damage enacted upon the Green Machine, and I guess you could say I’m ready to call it a day.

Thank goodness my New York Football Giants are playing tonight … an opportunity to kick back, sip on a cold one and try to relax. It’s necessary (if not vital), at this point.

As for my near-dead Dodge Neon (aka the Green Machine), some macho idiot decided it would look better with a bent-all-to-hell antenna, cracked windshield, bent windshield wiper and … gross … bloodstains all over the passenger side front panel and window. So much for a lucrative trade-in offer as I continue to look for new wheels.

Needless to say, I’m not pleased. And here’s where the newspaper reporter in me comes in – anyone with information regarding my poor, disabled and needlessly re-decorated vehicle, feel free to contact the Norwich City Police Department with the details.

Had myself an interesting (and painful) weekend. Unfortunately, I never made it up to our Purple Tornado Marching Band’s debut performance. Instead, I installed approximately 30 square yards of carpet in a flood ravaged living room down in Binghamton (no problem, Eric and Lindsey, it was my pleasure!). Hard to believe the amount of damage south of us, especially when you consider we didn’t have it all that great ourselves here in Chenango County. Regardless, I was happy to help out in any way I could (just wishing I didn’t feel as if I’d been hit by a bus) and let’s cross our fingers this is the last 100-year-storm we get … err … this century.