Archive for October, 2011

Happy Monday … err … Halloween!

Monday, October 31st, 2011
Brian Golden

There’s nothing like coming into the office Monday morning and – first thing – finding out the story you’d planned to write has fallen through. And while I’m not going to go into details (I’m still hoping to salvage something out of it), I will admit … it’s frustrating, to say the least. Not that it’s anyone’s fault (at least no one locally), but it’s definitely not the way I wanted to start my week.

Anyway … congratulations to the NHS Purple Tornado Marching Band for its fifth place finish at the Carrier Dome on Sunday. The group, while still rather small in 2011, is looking to expand over the next couple of years, which is kind of exciting for an old band geek like me. Regardless, great job everyone and keep your heads up, I have a feeling bigger and better things (and even higher scores) are yet to come.

I’d also like to mention what a great job our city Fire Department did this morning, particularly in its quick response to a fire at the Benedict Corporation. As always, when the call came through, I envisioned an enormous blaze, with Michael Bay-like effects (cars exploding and such) and smoke blotting out the sun. Which was, of course, an overeaction on my part. It turns out the fire was of the small variety and easily contained within minutes. Still, because of their speedy response, only a small portion of the used car office (located on the southeast part of the car lot) was damaged.

Well, Halloween is here and I hope everyone has a scary good time (and a safe one) while collecting all the candy and other goodies they can stomach tonight. And even though I’m certainly far too old to be trick-or-treating, I have fond memories of the activity. Too bad it’s so darn cold outside. I’ll never forget how angry I’d get when forced to wear a jacket over my costume, something that just seems to ruin all the fun. I mean, really, what’s the point in dressing up as Dracula, Spider-Man or an udead, zombie ninja if nobody can see it?

Another week comes to a close…

Friday, October 28th, 2011
Brian Golden

And so another week comes to a close here in The Evening Sun newsroom. I’ll tell you one thing … it’s never dull around here, what with school board meetings (okay, that actually was a little dull), felony burglary trials, robberies, assaults and – sadly – Thursday night’s fatal motor vehicle accident. And all of that since Tuesday, no less (I took the majority of Monday off to recover from fourteen hours behind the wheel coming home from North Carolina). Regardless, I’m exhausted. In fact, I’m hoping for a quick power nap once I get home, right before I’m back on the road, this time to one of my favorite haunts (a little Halloween humor there), the Whitewater Tavern, in Canastota.

Great … more driving.

In other news, my Syracuse band, Master Thieves, did not make the final round of the Syracuse Area Music Awards (otherwise known as the Sammy’s). Which is actually okay, considering our debut album, Robbing the Blind, was nominated for the Best Blues Album award. Needless to say, we’re all pretty excited to attend the November 11 awards show and – whether we win or not – it’s sure to be a good time. Wish us luck!

Speaking of luck … a big, big good luck wish for the NHS Purple Tornado Field Band as it prepares for Sunday’s NYS Field Band Conference championship competition at the Syracuse Carrier Dome. The band – while a bit smaller than it was back in my day – has done a fantastic job this year, and both the staff and students deserve a big congratulations. Do your best on Sunday, but most of all, have fun. That’s what marching band is all about.

As for the rest of my afternoon, well, I’ve got to put the finishing touches on my 1960’s-era hippie costume, string up the old guitar and head for the Whitewater (where I’ll be meeting up with the band, in addition to my good friends Chris and Katie). Should be an entertaining night, even without the live music, what with the costume party, the great atmosphere and – of course – Chris and Katie’s so-far-beyond-awesome-that-it-is-not-even-funny selection of domestic and imported beers. Just saying.

Why do I like Halloween?

Friday, October 28th, 2011
Shawn Magrath

What is it about Halloween that I find so appealing? I hardly ever get around to carving a pumpkin, I never think of a good costume in time, I don’t get any trick or treaters and I’m “too old” to go trick or treating myself. Last Halloween, I even had the luck of a new paint job on my car because someone was generous enough to spray the side of it gray and did so free of charge… I knew body shops were a scam.

Yet, there’s still something appealing about the holiday – like a train wreck I can’t look away from. I guess I like the indulgence of seeing others enjoy themselves – kids having fun, the mischief of adolescence that results in my late night visits to a professional body shop, and parents patiently waiting to for their children to collect candy from strangers (something that we spend the other 364 days of the year telling them not to do). It’s all something I enjoy.

Remember Halloween as a child? It was great, right? Free candy, hot dogs at the fire station, pretending to be anything in the world. There was a certain… what’s the term… magic?… no… oh, strategic deception involved. Kids would huddle on the corner, contending which doors to knock on. It was a war strategy in which homes that gave out chocolate were allies and those giving pennies, pencils and apples were treated no better than Vietcong, waiting to ambush unprepared children already on the verge of a sugar coma with “morals of promoting nutrition and preventing childhood obesity.” What is disappointment.

Now, as an adult (and I say that loosely), it’s a little different. Still fun, but different. This year, I think I’ll just wait for the auto body da Vinci to return. If I see him, I’m taking him down. I’m looking forward to Halloween.

Shameless…

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011
Shawn Magrath

It’s about the time of year when I have to swallow my pride, embrace the inevitable, close my eyes, grit my teeth, wipe the tears off my cheeks and dig out a heavier coat from the closet. I’ve gotten away with just long sleeves long enough. I almost made it through the end of October. Last year, I found a five dollar bill in the pocket of my coat. I’m not expecting to strike that same kind of fortune this year, but finding something in the pocket would be nice – a coupon, lost car key, phone number for something important but clearly doesn’t matter now – just finding something would be exciting.

The Guernsey Memorial Library was given a reason to be grateful, encountering much more than a five dollar bill in their pocket. The Library received a $600,000 donation from Mrs. Wilhelmin Henley after her passing. It’s great to see that the library still means so much to some people. I hope to see the library put the money to good use (by the way, they are taking community suggestions). Literacy has become so technology oriented that future generations may have to be introduced to what’s called “a book.”

Congratulations to Marsha Guzewich and Fred Von Mechow, recipients of the Forestry Conservation Achievement Award. I had the privilege of covering the award ceremony and luncheon this afternoon. It’s not too often that I’m given an assignment that involves a free lunch. If only all assignments came with free food…

Finally, my condolences to the friends, family and public mourners who are lamenting the loss of Steve Jobs. I’m sorry to hear of his death and hope… It happened when? Three weeks ago? Then why is a third of CNN’s website covered with Steve Jobs content? Shameless.

Editor’s Notebook: 10/26/11

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011
Jeff Genung

• Bewitched, bothered and bewildered, I seem to have survived another round of our “Ghastly Ghost Stories” contest relatively unscathed. We had a healthy (numerically, not mentally) amount of entries for this year’s Halloween-inspired writing contest, and you’ll get to read the best of the best in a special section in Thursday’s Evening Sun called “The Pumpkin Vine.” In addition to the spine-tingling tales from readers both young and old, you’ll also find a complete guide to this weekend’s Norwich Pumpkin Festival.

• Which, of course, means it will rain on Saturday.

• Guernsey’s wondering what to do with an unexpected $600,000 bequest – bet you a lot of non-profits in town are jealous of that quandary! Kindles for everyone? Umm, probably not.

• Today marked the beginning of a new monthly feature – an article on Chenango’s Civil War past written by a member of the recently-formed Chenango County Civil War Commemoration Project Team. This month’s feature is by Nancy Bromley of the Greene Historical Society, which you can read here. Julian and I met with Nancy and Oxford’s Vicky House a few weeks ago to discuss their ideas for this series (which will go on until 2015), and let me tell you, this group really has its act together. I know how much my Evening Sun readers love stories about local history, so this series should be a real winner.

• I loathe those Charmin commercials in which the curiously red cartoon bears have issues with toilet paper stuck to their behinds. I’m usually not easily offended, but really? That’s neither here nor there, of course, but I’d just like to state it for the record.

• In completely unrelated news, I assure you, I just got a brand new washer and dryer from our friends at S&S Appliances in Norwich. Good quality, good service – stimulating the local economy, yes; patronizing a loyal newspaper advertiser, always.

Controversy, the winter blues and movie night!

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011
Brian Golden

People often ask me why I tend to pick topics for my weekly column that spark so much debate. My answer? Because they spark so much debate, of course. Sure, I could sit here and write boring, personal drivel every week if I really wanted to, but where’s the fun in that? And to be honest, I like the controversial issues, such as hydrofracturing, politics, war, religion and such. They’re much more interesting and I must admit I get a kick out of the ensuing conversations that typically occur. As for today’s weekly opinion piece? Well, let’s just say the pro-drilling crowd is probably unhappy with me once again. Will I lose any sleep over it tonight? Absolutely not.

Speaking of natural gas drilling, I read a great news article online concerning the increase in crime that’s occurring in areas where hydrofracturing is all the rage. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. The fact of the matter is this … when all these outsiders begin swarming into the county, be prepared for all the trouble they’ll be bringing with them. Driving while intoxicated arrests? Up and away. Outbreaks of sexually transmitted diseases? Doubling in some places. Prostitution? Yup. More fighting in the streets? You betcha. Not that any of that bothers me, really, now that I’m covering the police/fire/ems/court beat. Talk about job security … drill away!

I must admit, I’m having more-than-a-little trouble adjusting to the fact that October has nearly come and gone. No matter how nice our spring, summer and fall happen to be, year in and year out, I simply can not seem to prepare myself for the coming winter months. It might help if I had any kind of winter hobby to keep me busy, but sitting inside, huddling under layers of clothing and heaps of blankets to keep warm isn’t all that much fun as far as favorite activities go. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to April 2012. Which is, of course, more than five months away. Now that’s depressing.

As for tonight, it’s looking like spaghetti dinner, possibly a movie and – of course – Survivor: South Pacific. I’m not sure how I ended up addicted to the popular CBS reality show, but there it is. For movies? Well, I managed to make it over to Guernsey Memorial Library today for a quick look at the DVD’s they had on hand. First up, one of my all-time favorites, “A League of Their Own.” My second choice? The new “Green Hornet,” starring Seth Rogan and Jay Chou as the Green Hornet and Kato. And last but not least, Adam Sandler, Brenan Fraser and Steve Buscemi in “Airheads,” a guilty pleasure if there ever was one.

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011
Patrick Newell

The World Series heads back to St. Louis for game six on Wednesday night. In any other year, I would have have already discussed the current series with Bob McNitt a couple of times. In addition to our normal e-mail communication with his weekly column, we would exchange banter on the sports headlines of the day. Although he was a Yankees fan, I think Bob would have enjoyed seeing “new blood” such as Texas in position to win a world championship. Our easy flow of communication was just one of many memories of Bob that I will miss. He was the type of guy that when you came across an interesting news or sports item, you wanted to share it with him to get his take. And I did that countless times. So many little things cross my mind every day that remind me of Bob, and whenever I make an outdoors jaunt in the future, I think (or hope), Bob’s spirit will guide me through my little journey safely

So what is in the water at Greene? For a relatively small school, it sure is enjoying a great deal of success throughout its athletics programs. I have already documented their achievements earlier this season, and I asked head football coach Tim Paske why he believed the sports are so successful in the fall for the Trojans. “I would say around 70 percent of the kids (in high school) are playing sports on some level,” Paske said, who added that 70 percent may be a conservative number. “Obviously the kids are willing to do it, and it all starts with the community and the families. The kids are brought up with (sports), and if you look across the board, the coaching staffs have been there for a lot of years. There is a stability in the program, and the kids know the philosophies and expectations of the coaches.” Among the current varsity coaches at Greene, only varsity soccer coach Brandy Stone has less than 10 years of coaching experience at Greene. Stone, though, has been a part of two Greene MAC championships, her first as an assistant to Randy Smith, and the second coming last year as head coach.

Last week, Harvard University announced that J.P. O’Connor would join the wrestling team as an assistant coach. O’Connor graduated from Harvard in 2010, and won a national championship his senior season. Before that, he won 238 matches at Oxford (believed a school record) capturing five Section IV titles and four state titles. Since his college graduation, O’Connor has moved forward with his next goal: A berth on the 2012 U.S. Olympic wrestling team. O’Connor said he was making nice progress, but an injury early this season sidelined him for several months. He is now back in training and preparing for an Olympic trials qualifier next month. O’Connor is confident he will earn a spot at the trials, and believes it is not an unrealistic goal to reach the Olympics. “I don’t think I would be chasing this goal if I didn’t think I was capable,” O’Connor said. “Most of the guys in my class I’ve wrestled and beaten at some point. The guys I have not been able to beat, it really is about wrestling my match, being healthy, and peaking in April (the Olympic trials). If I do that, I can be the guy to represent the United States.”

Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat

Editor’s Notebook: 10/24/11

Monday, October 24th, 2011
Jeff Genung

• Pat Newell’s front page tribute to our fallen comrade, Bob McNitt, is a must-read today. Bob passed away last Thursday at the age of 68 after a difficult bout with cancer. Although not much of an outdoor sportsman myself, I always appreciated what Bob brought to the paper as its outdoors columnist for 30-plus years, and was always equally impressed by his depth of knowledge and passion for the sport and the environment. Back in the days when he hand-delivered his column to the newsroom, he could always be counted on for lively conversation, as well. I probably said it before about Jerry Weaver, and Kathy O’Hara, but they just don’t make ‘em like that anymore. Rest in peace, old friend.

• So another furlough, another positive drug test. Again I ask, why are we giving these furloughs? How many “affairs” could these people have to put in order? If you’re prepared to knock over a Great American, you should be prepared to go to jail when you’re sentenced, pronto.

• Put up some pictures from this weekend’s Fall Festival of Bands in Norwich on Facebook this morning. Check them out here.

• Congratulations to Roz DeRensis, who’s been named the new executive director of the Norwich Business Improvement District. She’s got some big shoes to fill in the departure of Pegi LoPresti, but we look forward to working with her on downtown promotions and development.

Still waiting

Friday, October 21st, 2011
Shawn Magrath

Here we are. Just me, my computer and the walls of my cubicle on a rapture-less Friday afternoon. I maxed out my credit card, buried canned food in the back yard, even ironed a nice pair of rapture pants in preparation for today’s grand finale. Boy, is my face red.

It’s amazing how quickly Camping’s day of revolation snuck up on us… again. Before I’m accused of detesting Christian teachings and promoting Bible-bashing atheism, I want to clarify that I’m not saying the rapture is an impossibility. I have Baptist roots myself. I’m just wondering why people keep humoring Harold Camping and his numerological approach to predicting the end of days. Most of us know he wouldn’t get recognition if not for his multi-million dollar campaigns and a slight nudge from the media. No, I’m not arguing Christian beliefs, just Camping believers (“Campingianism?” “Campingianites?” – whatever, it doesn’t matter). I would love to talk about it more but at the risk of feeling silly, I know there is nearly 12 hours left in the day… maybe. When he predicts the end of days, does he take into account different time zones?

Hey, on a brighter and slightly ironic note, Halloween is quickly approaching and I don’t have any good costume ideas. I would love to hear some suggestions. So far, my best thought is to dress up as my dog and dress my dog up as me but this would be considered by many as animal cruelty and I don’t want to ruin a nice sweater. I don’t want to spend a lot of money on a costume and anything that comes from Wal-Mart I won’t even take into consideration. I wish Norwich still had the Salvation Army.

Best of luck to the Norwich Purple Tornado Field Band. They host a competition at the Norwich High School tomorrow night; it’s their last until they travel to the Syracuse Carrier Dome next Sunday. They’re going to put on a great performance. Anyone looking for a fun Saturday evening activity should check it out.

Congratulations

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011
Shawn Magrath

There’s nothing quite like a rainy and cold Wednesday afternoon to get me in the mood for the rest of the week.

I would like to congratulate the Norwich City Police Department and the Chenango County Sheriffs for their work in Saturday’s successful drug bust. I know a lot of effort goes into that line of duty and too often goes unrecognized. I’ve heard a great deal of criticism about local law enforcement in the past from people who have no place to criticize. When something monumental happens locally, I hope many of those nay-sayers hold their tongues.

I also appreciate the irony of this bust happening across the street from a property the city is trying to sell. How could a Realtor spin this? “Colorful and eccentric neighbors located in a lively, surreal neighborhood.” I’d go for that. If anyone has any great business ideas and the know-how of property ownership and rehabilitation, I would love to see that building on North Broad go to good use. I have great ideas and vision, but my pockets only go so deep. Tomorrow, I plan on buying a cup of coffee first, then if I have any change left over, maybe a vacant building.

I would also like to congratulate the high school student I saw walking to school this morning who, before crossing the road, stopped and looked both ways making sure that I saw him and giving me a chance to stop and let him cross safely. You’re one of a kind in this town and because of it, you will have a much better chance of living a longer, happier life. It’s great to know that it was an elementary lesson of looking both ways that left the impact, not the front end of my car.

On that note, I’m looking forward to going home for the evening. Like I mentioned, it’s cold and rainy… so it’s chicken noodle soup for dinner tonight.